By Meredith Nicholson
|A REVERSIBLE SANTA CLAUS. Illustrated.
|THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING. Illustrated.
|THE POET. Illustrated.
|OTHERWISE PHYLLIS. With frontispiece in color.
|THE PROVINCIAL AMERICAN AND OTHER PAPERS.
|A HOOSIER CHRONICLE. With illustrations.
|THE SIEGE OF THE SEVEN SUITORS. With illustrations.
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
Boston and New York
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY FLORENCE H. MINARD
BOSTON and NEW YORK HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
The Riverside Press, Cambridge
COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY MEREDITH NICHOLSON
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Published October 1917
A Reversible Santa Claus
"DO YOU MIND TELLING ME JUST WHY YOU READ THAT NOTE?". (page 78)
|"DO YOU MIND TELLING ME JUST WHY YOU READ THAT NOTE?"
|THE HOPPER GRINNED, PROUD OF HIS SUCCESS,
WHICH MARY AND HUMPY VIEWED WITH GRUDGING ADMIRATION
|THE FAINT CLICK OF A LATCH MARKED THE PROWLER'S PROXIMITY TO A HEDGE
|THE THREE MEN GATHERED ROUND THEM, STARING DULLY
From Drawings by F. Minard
A Reversible Santa Claus
Mr. William B. Aikins, alias "Softy" Hubbard, alias Billy The Hopper, paused for breath behind a hedge that bordered a quiet lane and peered out into the highway at a roadster whose tail light advertised its presence to his felonious gaze. It was Christmas Eve, and after a day of unseasonable warmth a slow, drizzling rain was whimsically changing to snow.
The Hopper was blowing from two hours' hard travel over rough country. He had stumbled through woodlands, flattened himself in fence corners to avoid the eyes of curious motorists speeding homeward or flying about distributing Christmas gifts, and he was now bent upon committing himself to an inter-urban trolley line that would afford comfortable transportation for the remainder of his journey. Twenty miles, he estimated, still lay between him and his domicile.
The rain had penetrated his clothing and vigorous exercise had not greatly diminished the chill in his blood. His heart knocked violently against his ribs and he was dismayed by his shortness of wind. The Hopper was not so young as in the days when his agility and genius for effecting a quick "get-away" had earned for him his sobriquet. The last time his Bertillon measurements were checked (he was subjected to this humiliating experience in Omaha during the Ak-Sar-Ben carnival three years earlier) official note was taken of the fact that The Hopper's hair, long carried in the records as black, was rapidly whitening.
At forty-eight a crook—even so resourceful and versatile a member of the fraternity as The Hopper—begins to mistrust himself. For the greater part of his life, when not in durance vile, The Hopper had been in hiding, and the state or condition of being a fugitive, hunted by keen-eyed agents of justice, is not, from all accounts, an enviable one. His latest experience of involuntary servitude had been under the auspices of the State of Oregon, for a trifling indiscretion in the way of safe-blowing.