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Every Inch A Man Post by :4imarketing Category :Essays Author :Robert Cortes Holliday Date :November 2011 Read :2148

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Every Inch A Man

If there is a finer fellow in the world than Chester Kirk we have never seen him. As he himself so often says, the finest things are done up in small packages. (There was Napoleon, for instance, as we have heard him say, and General Grant, and, at the moment, we do not remember who all.)

When in eyeshot of ladies, especially when he is unknown to them, he is grand. He takes his gloves from his pocket and holds them in his left hand. He searches himself for a cigar, which, when found, he holds before him, unlighted, in his right hand, on a level with his chest, his elbow crooked. He stands very firmly, with one leg bending backward in a line of virile, graceful curve. His back is taut. His other knee is bent forward, relaxed. Or he strides up and down, with something of a fine strut, like a fighting cock. So, he reminds us of Alan Breck.

When, in this stimulating position, he has on a long coat, he swings its skirt from side to side. He feels, undoubtedly so brave and strong. He laughs, when there is opportunity for it, in a deep, manly voice, and often. He sometimes pulls back his head so that he has a double chin. He is every inch a man.

As is quite fitting and proper, he is one of the most photographed of men. This is a family trait. He has ever just had a new photograph taken to send to his people, or his people have just sent some new ones to him, which he shows about with great gusto to his friends. His room is littered with likenesses of the Kirks, a very remarkable family. Here is a photograph of his brother.

"Notice that chest," says Kirk. "He's got an expansion on him like the front of a house. Why, in his freshman year he had the biggest expansion in his class. Athlete! That boy's a boxer." Kirk points the stem of his pipe at you and continues: "He stood up before the huskiest man in Seattle (and there are no huskier men than in Seattle), a big brute of a fireman, a regular giant, with a reputation as a whirlwind slugger. Yes. Why, it's all I can do to hold that boy myself. This," exhibiting another picture, "is my father. See that pair of shoulders? He is a little under the medium height, but the way he carries himself he doesn't look it. He looks to be a rather big man. He has an air. He came West a poor man, but one that could see chances, take them, and hold on to them. He took them and hung on. He built up that business, I think I have a right to say that it's the biggest on the Pacific Slope, in an incredibly short time. Business he was from the word go. He could handle men! An entertainer he is, too; he makes friends wherever he goes; everybody likes him. Here's my sister. 'Sis' is the society woman of the younger set at home. That's my other brother. He's a hunter."

Next to pictures of himself and family, and their pets and live stock, there is nothing Kirk revels in so much as snapshots of his native country, "greatest country in the world." He has these pasted into several volumes: each print is labeled, as "Mt. Ranier, looking north," "Puget Sound, low tide," and so forth. Each new acquaintance Kirk takes through the lot and explains the circumstances under which each picture was taken.

As Kirk himself remarks, his handwriting is very strong. It is that strong that it has only about three, sometimes four, short words to a line, with good strong spaces in between. The descending loops of letters on one line often come down and lariat small letters on the line below. The sense goes at a splendid break-neck speed, and takes pauses and stops as though they were hurdles. The whole is penned in somewhat that fashion in which express clerks make out receipts.

That reminds us. We one time went with Kirk into an express office to send a package. We ignorantly considered this to be a thing of little moment. That was because we do not know how to handle men. A pale young man, with a high, bald forehead, who had the appearance of an excellent assistant to some one in an office, was standing at the counter. He witnessed the entrance of the two without remarking it as an impressive ceremony. Indeed, the clerk was quite apathetic. In an instant all this was changed.

"Let me have your pencil," Kirk demanded. It was the voice of the man born to command, the man that moves an army of subordinates this way or that, as he wills, like chessmen. He took the pencil, hoisted his package onto the counter with a flourish, tilted his cigar upward in one corner of his mouth by a movement of his jaws, and fell into so fine an attitude that the pale young man became interested and leaned over to see what important name would appear in the address. In his strongest hand Kirk addressed it. It was a package worth two dollars Kirk was sending to his brother, who needed it. "Send collect," cried Kirk. And the entire company, Kirk included, and ourself, who also knew the contents of the package, felt, it was evident, that a transaction very important to the interests of business had been accomplished.

Kirk was one time playing checkers when we entered. "Well, how are you coming out?" we inquired. "Are you being beaten, Chester?" He flared up like a flash. "I can beat you!" he cried. We had never seen the man so beautiful. (He had never in his life seen us play checkers.) He looked to be invincible; though he wasn't; for he had lost every game.

(The end)
Robert Cortes Holliday's essay: Every Inch A Man

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