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Kipling-Steam_Tactics

4 THE SATURDAY EVENING POST December 6, 1902 UNCLE JOE CANNON REPRESENTATIVE JOSLPH u. CANNON dense fog, but to no end. He had forgotten his badge, and we were villains for that we did not cart him to the pub or barracks where he had left it. Pyecroft listened critically as we spun along the hard road. " If he was a concentrated Boer, he couldn't expect much more," he observed. " Now, suppose I'd been a lady in a delicate state o' health—you'd ha' made me very ill with your doings." " I wish I 'ad. 'Ere! 'Elp! 'Elp! Hi!" The man had seen a constable in uniform fifty yards ahead, where a lane ran into the road, and would have said more but that Hinchcliff jerked her up that lane with a wrench that nearly capsized us as the constable came running heavily. It seemed to me that both our guest and his fellow-villain in uniform smiled as we fled down the road easterly betwixt the narrowing hedges. " You'll know all about it in a little time," said our guest. " You've only yourselves to thank for runnin' your 'ead into a trap," and he whistled ostentatiously. We made no answer. " If that man 'ad chose, 'e could have identified‘me," he said. Still we were silent. " But 'e'll do it later, when you're caught." " Not if you go on talking. 'E won't be able to," said Pyecroft. " I don't know what traverse you think you're workin', but your duty till you're put in cells for a highway robber is to love, honour, an' cherish me most special—performin' all evolutions signalled in rapid time. I tell you this, in case o' anything turnin' up." " Don't you fret about things turnin' up," was the reply. Hinchcliff had given the car a generous throttle, and she was well set to work, when, without warning, the road— there are two or three in Sussex like it—turned down and ceased. " Holy Muckitis!" he cried, and stood on both brakes as our helpless tires slithered over wet grass and bracken— down and down into forest—early British woodland. It was the change of a nightmare, and that all should fit, fifty yards ahead of us a babbling brook barred our way. On the far side a velvet green ride, sprinkled with rabbits and fern, gently sloped upwards and away, but behind us was no hope. Forty-horse power would never have rolled wet tires up that verdurous cliff we had descended. " H'm!" Our guest coughed significantly. " A great many cars think they can take this road; but they all come back. We walks after 'em at our convenience." " Meanin' that the other jaunty is now pursuin' us on 'is lily feet?" said Pyecroft. " Precisely." " An' you think," said Pyecroft (I have no hope to render the scorn of the words), " that'll make any odds? Get out!" The man obeyed with alacrity. " See those spars up-ended over there? I mean that wickyup-thing. 'Op-poles, then, you rural blighter! Keep on fetching me 'op-poles at the double." And he doubled, Pyecroft at his heels, for they had arrived at a perfect understanding. There was a stack of hurdles a few yards down stream, laid aside after sheep-washing; and there were stepping-stones in the brook. Hinchcliff rearranged these last to make some sort of causeway; I brought up the hurdles; and when Pyecroft and his subaltern had dropped a dozen hop-poles across the stream, laid them down over all. " Talk o' the Agricultur'l 'All?" he said, mopping his brow, " 'tisn't in it with us. The approach to the bridge must now be paved with 'urdles owin' to the squashy nature o' the country. Yes, an' we'd better 'ave one or two on the far side to lead her on to terror fermior. Now, Hinch! Give her full steam and 'op along. If she slips off, we're done. Shall I take the wheel? " " No. This is my job," said the first-class engine-room artificer. " Get over the far side, and be ready to catch me if she jibs on the uphill." We crossed that elastic structure and stood ready amid the bracken. Hinchcliff gave her full steam and she came like a destroyer on her trial. There was a crack, a flicker of white water, and she was in our arms fifty yards up the slope; or, rather, we were behind her pushing her madly towards a patch of raw gravel whereon her wheels could bite. Of the bridge remained only a few wildly vibrating hop-poles, and those hurdles which had been sunk in the mud of the approaches. " She —she kicked out all the loose ones be'ind her, as she finished with 'em," Hinchcliff panted. " At the Agricultural 'All they would 'ave been fastened down with ribbons," said Pyecroft. " But this ain't Olympia." " She nearly wrenched the tiller out of my 'and. Don't you think I conned 'er like a cock-angel, Pye?" " /never saw anything like it," said our guest propitiatingly. " And now, gentlemen, if you'll let me go back to Linghurst, I promise you you won't hear another word from me." " Get in," said Pyecroft, as we puffed out on to a metalled road once more. " We 'aven't begun on you yet." " A joke's a joke," he replied. " I don't mind a little bit of a joke myself, but this is going beyond it." " Miles an' miles beyond it, if this machine stands up. We'll want water pretty soon." Our guest's countenance brightened, and Pyecroft perceived it. " Let me tell you," he said earnestly, " I won't make any difference to you whatever happens. Barrin' a dhow or two Tajurrah way, prizes are scarce in the Navy. 'Ence we never abandon 'em." There was a long silence. Pyecroft broke it suddenly. " Robert," he said, " 'ave you a mother?" " Yes." " 'Ave you a big brother?" " Yes." " An' a little sister? " " Yes." " Robert. Does your mamma keep a dog?" "Yes. Why?" " All right, Robert. I won't forget it." I looked for an explanation. I saw 'is blighted photograph in full uniform on the mantelpiece o' that cottage before faithful Fido turned up," Pyecroft whispered. " Ain't you glad it's all in the family somehow?" We filled with water at a cottage on the edge of St. Leonard's Forest and, despite our increasing leakage, made shift to climb the ridge above Instead Wick. Knowing her as I did, I felt sure that final collapse would not he long delayed. My sole concern was to run our guest well into the wilderness before that Caine. On the roof of the world—a naked plateau clothed with young heather—she retired from active life in floods of tears. Her feed-water-heater (Hinchcliff blessed it and its-maker for three minutes) was leaking beyond hope of repair; she had shifted most of her packing, and her water-pump would not lift. " If I 'ad a bit of piping, I could disconnect this tin cartridgecase an' feed direct into the boiler. It 'ud knock down her speed, but we could get on," said he, and looked hopelessly at the long dun ridges that hove us above the panorama of Sussex. Northward we could see the London haze. Southward, between gaps of the whale-hacked downs, lay the Channel's zinc-blue. But all our available population in that vast survey was one cow and a kestrel. GOOD sense— shrewd, plain, practical, seasoned common-sense — is the keynote to the character of " Uncle Joe" Cannon, of Illinois, who bids fair to become the next Speaker of the National House of Representatives. Sentiment has little sway over his deliberate decisions. I felt the force of this view of the man in hearing his quick reply, at a recent luncheon, to a facetious suggestion from Congressman Tawney. Turning to Representative Burke, of South Dakota, the Minnesota statesman remarked: " If Uncle Joe will simply give me his place at the head of the Appropriations Committee for the short session I'll agree to do all I can for him in this Speakership campaign." " No, Jim," laughingly responded the man who has been the Watchdog of the Treasury ever since the passing of Holman. " If I didn't know your tastes and if I hadn't been a reader of old .Esop's Fables, perhaps I might he wheedled into that kind of a deal. But that book's a sort of Bible of " It's down hill to Instead Wick. We can run her there by gravity," I said at last. " Then he'll only have to walk to the station to get 'ome. Unless we take off his boots first," Pyecroft replied. " That," said our guest earnestly, " would be theft atop of assault, and very serious." " Oh, let's 'ang him an' be done," Hinchcliff grunted. " It's evidently what he's sufferin' for." Somehow murder did not appeal to us that warm noon. We sat down to smoke in the heather, and presently out of the valley below came the thick beat of a petrol-motor ascending. I paid little attention to it till I heard the howl of a horn that has no duplicate in all the home counties. " That's the man I was going to lunch with!" I cried. " Hold on!" and I ran down the road. It was a big, black, black-dashed, tonneaued twelve-horse Octopod; and it bore not only Kysh my friend, and Salmon his engineer, but my own man, who for the first time in our acquaintance smiled. " Did they get you? What did you get? I was coming into Linghurst as witness to character—your man told me what happened—but I was stopped near Instead Wick myself," cried Kysh. " What for?" " Leaving car unattended. An infernal swindle, when you think of the loose carts outside every pub in the county. I was jawing with the police for an hour, but it's no use. They've got it all their own way, and we're helpless." Hereupon I told him my tale, and for proof, as we topped the hill, pointed out the little group round my car. All supreme emotion is dumb. Kysh put on the brake and hugged me to his bosom till I groaned. Then, as I remember, he crooned like a mother returned to her suckling. " Divine! Divine! " he murmured. " Command me." " Take charge of the situation," I said. " You'll find a Mr. Pyecroft on the quarter-deck. I'm altogether out of it." " He shall stay there. Who am I but the instrument of vengeance in the hands of an overruling Providence? (And (Continued on Page 28) By Forrest Crasser SOME OF THE PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS THAT HAVE MADE HIM THE MOST PROMINENT CANDIDATE FOR THE SPEAKER'S CHAIR common-sense to me, and I can't forget the fable of the dog that was crossing a stream. He had a good bone in his mouth, but he made a grab at the reflection of it mirrored in the water, for the reflection looked a heap bigger than the real bone between his teeth! If I handed you over the Chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee, Jim, you'd be the next Speaker and I'd be sniffling along down stream watching for the hone that I'd dropped to show up." At the same luncheon Mr. Cannon turned to the writer and inquired: " Young man, were you raised on a farm?" When answered in the affirmative his shrewd blue eyes sparkled with evident pleasure as he exclaimed: " Good! Then you've handled the dash of a big churn and kept it going until every bone in your body ached? " Well, this Speakership business reminds me of the days when mother used to tie a big checked apron round my neck and set me to doing the churning. If I had no particular pleasure in prospect for the day, there was no trouble about the butter—it would come right away; but just so sure as there was a circus in town it seemed as if the cream wouldn't congeal in all eternity! " I'd keep pounding away until it felt as if my arms were breaking off at the shoulder, and I was certain I'd be too late for the parade. " Finally, in sheer desperation, I'd call out to mother to come and do something to help bring the churning to a point. Of course she knew just what was wanted, and if the day was a hot one she would go to the well and bring back a quart dipper full of nice cool water and turn it into the churn, letting it trickle down the dash. " ' Now just keep up your grit and churn real brisk,' she'd say, ' and you'll bring the butter right away.' " And she was always right, too. That quart of cool or hot water, according to the season, never failed to bring the churning to a point. " I've thought about those churnings a hundred times since this Speakership fight began, and I can tell you right now I'm looking for the dipperful of cold water that will make the situation just the right temperature to bring it to the congealing point. And I'm going to get it, too." If Mr. Cannon does not land the Speakership it will not be for sleeping on his rights and leaving the hard work of his


Kipling-Steam_Tactics
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