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Talk At The Post Office Post by :sbogde Category :Essays Author :Robert Cortes Holliday Date :November 2011 Read :876

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Talk At The Post Office

The attention of a little group within the dusk of the post office and general store was, apparently, still colored by an event which mutilated posters on a dilapidated wagon-shed wall, visible through the doorway in the hot light outside, had advertised. A "Wild Bill" show had lately moved through this part of the world. A large, loosely-constructed, earnest-looking man was speaking to several others, seriously, taking his time, allowing his words time to sink well in as he proceeded.

"Now I have a brother," he was saying, "who I can produce," he added impressively (one realizes that it would be hard to get around this sort of evidence)--"who I can produce, who will take bullet cartridges--Buffalo Bill don't use bullet cartridges--Annie Oakley don't use bullet cartridges--and who will sit right here in this chair--sit right here in this chair where I am now--and show you," he nodded once to each listener, "something about shootin'," concluding, one who reports him felt, somewhat more vaguely than his start had led one to expect.

"Well, Pawnee," began another of the group (from which sobriquet it will be seen that the large man was a personage in matters of shooting), but Pawnee stopped him. It seems he had not finished.

"And if there is anybody that would like to shoot shot with the Old Man," he continued, breathing the two last words loud and strong, "I," said Pawnee, with extreme emphasis on the personal pronoun, "would like to see them, that's all!"

An odd figure a trifle removed from the group had attracted the notice of one reporting these proceedings, by a propensity which he evinced, perceived by a kind of mental telepathy, to have some remarks directed to him. One felt all through one, so to speak, the near presence of a disposition eminently social. As one's sight became more accustomed to the interior light this figure defined itself into that of an elderly man, somewhat angular, slightly stooped, and wearing a ministerial sort of straw hat, with a large rolling brim, considerably frayed; a man very kindly in effect, and suggesting to a contemplative observer of humanity a character whose walk in life is cutting grass for people.

This gentleman (there was something very gentlemanly about him, not in haberdashery, but, as one read him, in spirit) showed, as was said, a decided inclination to, as less gentlemanly folks say, "butt in."

"Here is a thing now," spoke up this old fellow, looking up from his newspaper, over his iron-rimmed spectacles in a more determined manner than heretofore, at one who reports him, and speaking in that tone in which it is the habit of genial men traveling in railroad trains to open a conversation with their seat-fellow for the journey, "that draws my attention." In the racing term, he was "off."

"You know there is a strict law against swearing over the telephone," he paused for acquiescence. "Well, there is," he stated, very seriously, drawing a little nearer as the acquaintance got on--"a strict law. Now they say they can't stop it. It's a queer thing they can't stop it. They know who's at the other end; or at least they know who owns the 'phone. They know that. A fine of fifty dollars," he declared, "would stop it." It strikes one that this kindly character is almost ferocious on the side of morality.

"Now," he continued, "there is no use in that. Say what you have to say, that's all that's necessary. What's the good of all those ad-ject-ives?" He pronounced the last word in three syllables with a very decided accent on the second. "That is done, now," he concluded, "by people who are, well--abrupt. Ain't that right, now? It's abrupt, that's what it is; it's abrupt.

"Most assuredly," he said, answering himself.

(The end)
Robert Cortes Holliday's essay: Talk At The Post Office

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