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- In the Sweet Dry and Dry - 17/17 -


What do you recommend?"

"Better stick to the Scotch," said Jerry, and put the decanter on the mahogany. Bleak drank two slugs hastily, and turned to his friends with an almost wistful air.

"Come again and stay longer," he said. "I see so many strangers, I get homesick for a friendly face." He called Quimbleton aside. "Does Mrs. Quimbleton keep up her trances?" he whispered.

"Not recently," said Virgil. "You see, in South America there was no necessity--but when we get settled--"

"You are a lucky fellow," whispered Bleak. "All the enjoyment without any of the formalities!" And he added aloud, grasping their hands, "Next time, come in the evening. A man in my line of work is hardly at his best before nightfall."

As they walked back to the plane, Mr. and Mrs. Quimbleton saw the excursionists, a thousand or so, hastening through the park on foot and in huge sight-seeing cars where men with megaphones were roaring comments. One group of pedestrians bore a large banner lettered EGG NOG MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION OF CAMDEN, N. J.

"Poor Mr. Bleak!" said Theodolinda. "On top of all that Scotch!"

When they took the air again they circled over the temple at a safe height. They could see the crowd gathered densely round the little white columns. Virgil shut off the motor for a moment, and even at that distance they could hear the sound of cheers.

CHAPTER XI

IT'S A LONG WORM THAT HAS NO TURNING

Bishop Chuff sat sourly in his office and sighed for more worlds to canker. Round the room stood the tall filing cases containing card indexes of prohibited offences, and he looked gloomily over the crowded drawers in the vain hope of finding something that had been overlooked. He pulled out a drawer at random--Schedule K-36, Minor Social Offenses--and ran his embittered eye over a card. It was marked Conversational Felonies, and began thus:

Arguing Blandishing Buffoonery Contradicting Demurring Ejaculating Exaggerating Facetiousness Giggling Hemming and Hawing Implying Insisting Jesting

Each item also referred to another card on which the penalty was noted and legal test cases summarized.

"No," he brooded, "there is nothing left."

Even the most loyal of the Bishop's Staff admitted that he was far from well, and it was decided that he ought to take a vacation. He himself concurred in this, and as the home resorts were no longer places of mirth and glee, he determined to go to Europe. This would have the added advantage of enabling him to spend some time conferring with prohibition leaders abroad as to ways and means of converting Europe to his schemes of reform. Everyone in the office showed genuine unselfishness in making plans for the Bishop's vacation, and he was urged to stay away as long as he felt he could be spared. Europe, too, was much excited over the prospect of his coming, and the British prime minister was questioned on the subject in the House of Commons. For his entertainment on the voyage a set of twelve beautiful folio volumes, bound in black morocco, were prepared. They contained a digest of prohibition legislation which Chuff had been instrumental in having put on the statutes. For the first time in years the Bishop was cheered as he passed about the streets, and he realized that he had never known how popular he was until it was announced that he was going away.

But still he was not content. One morning, not long before the date set for his sailing, he sat gloomily at his desk. He was engaged in making his will, and had found to his secret bitterness that after bequeathing a few personal trinkets to the office staff there was really no one to whom he could leave the bulk of his misfortune. Theodolinda, of course, he had quite cut off from his estate. He only knew that she was living somewhere with the degraded Quimbleton, carrying on a little psychic tavern which no laws could reach, in a state of criminal happiness.

From the street, far beneath his open window, he heard the clamor of a police patrol and leaned eagerly over the sill in the hope of seeing something that would cheer his black mood. But it was only a man being arrested for leaning against a lamp-post--a rather common offence at that time, for most of the normal occupations of the citizens had been prohibited, and they mooned about the highways in a state of listless discontent. But then, farther down the channel of the street, he saw something that caught his eye. A group of people were marching with flags and signs toward the railway station. SATURDAY SCHOOL PICNIC TO SOUSE TEMPLE, he read on a banner. He noticed that in spite of all the laws against smiling in public, these people bore a look of suppressed merriment. They were obviously out for a good time. A sudden thought struck him.

That afternoon, in impenetrable disguise, the Bishop paid his first visit to the Temple of Dunraven Bleak.

The next morning, when his subordinates came to see him about the final plans for his departure, they were horrified to find him sitting at his desk wearing in the recesses of his beard what would have been called (on any other man) a smile.

"I have changed my mind," he said. "I am not going away."

They cried out in amazement, and pointed out to him how sorely in need of relaxation he was.

"I am planning relaxation," he said, and that was all they could get out of him.

Later in the day a confidential messenger was dispatched to the private printing press of the Chuff Organization, bearing the text of a poster which was found broadcast over the whole country a few days later. It ran thus:

AT THE NEXT ELECTION

For Perpetual Souse

VOTE FOR CHUFF

The People's Friend

THE END


In the Sweet Dry and Dry - 17/17

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