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- Yollop - 1/15 -
[Illustration: LEAVING MRS. CHAMPNEY SEATED ALONE AND HELPLESS IN THE MIDST OF THE CONFUSION, SMILK MARCHED MR. YOLLOP TO HIS BEDROOM]
GEORGE BARR McCUTCHEON
EDWARD C. CASWELL
In the first place, Mr. Yollop knew nothing about firearms. And so, after he had overpowered the burglar and relieved him of a fully loaded thirty-eight, he was singularly unimpressed by the following tribute from the bewildered and somewhat exasperated captive:
"Say, ain't you got any more sense than to tackle a man with a gun, you chuckle-headed idiot?" (Only he did not say "chuckle-headed," and he inserted several expletives between "say" and "ain't.")
The dazed intruder was hunched limply, in a sitting posture, over against the wall, one hand clamped tightly to his jaw, the other being elevated in obedience to a command that had to be thrice repeated before it found lodgment in his whirling brain. Mr. Yollop, who seemed to be satisfied with the holding up of but one hand, cupped his own hand at the back of one ear, and demanded querulously:
"Are you hard o' hearin'?"
"Well for the--say, are you deef?"
"Don't say deef. Say deaf,--as if it were spelled d-e-double f. Yes,--I am a little hard of hearing."
"Now, how the hell did you hear--I say, HOW DID YOU HEAR ME IN THE ROOM, if it's a fair question?"
"If you've got anything in your mouth, spit it out. I can't make out half what you say. Sounds like 'ollo--ollo--ollo'!"
The thief opened his mouth and with his tongue instituted a visible search for the obstruction that appeared to annoy Mr. Yollop.
"They're all here except the one I had pulled last year," he announced vastly relieved. A sharp spasm of pain in his jaw caused him to abruptly take advantage of a recent discovery; and while he was careful to couch his opinions in an undertone, he told Mr. Yollop what he thought of him in terms that would have put the hardiest pirate to blush. Something in Mr. Yollop's eye, however, and the fidgety way in which he was fingering the trigger of the pistol, moved him to interrupt a particularly satisfying paean of blasphemy by breaking off short in the very middle of it to wonder why in God's name he hadn't had sense enough to remember that all deaf people are lip-readers.
"Spit it out!" repeated Mr. Yollop, with energy. "Don't talk with your mouth full. I can't understand a word you say."
This was reassuring but not convincing. There was still the ominous glitter in the speaker's eye to be reckoned with. The man on the floor took the precaution to explain: "I hope "you didn't hear what I was callin' myself." He spoke loudly and very distinctly.
"That's better," said Mr. Yollop, his face brightening. "I was 'afraid my hearing had got worse without my knowing it. All you have to do is to enunciate distinctly and speak slowly like that,--as if you were isolating the words,--so to speak,--and I can make out everything you say. What were you calling yourself?"
"Oh, just a lot of names. I'd sooner not repeat 'em if there's any women in the house."
"Well, bless my soul, that's uncommonly thoughtful of you. My sister and her young daughter are here to spend the holidays with me. They sleep at the back of the apartment. Now, if you will just remain as you are,--I dare say you'd better put up the other hand, too, if you can spare it,--I will back up to the table here and get my listening apparatus. Now you won't have to shout so. I don't know much about revolvers, but I assume that all one has to do to make it go off is to press rather firmly on this little contrivance--"
"Yes! But DON'T!"
"Not so loud! Not so loud! I'm not as deaf as all that. And don't move! I give you fair warning. Watch me closely. If you see me shut my eyes, you will know I'm going to shoot. Remember that, will you? The instant you detect the slightest indication that my eyes are about to close,--dodge!"
"By thunder,--I--I wonder if you're as much of a blame fool as you seem to be,--or are you just playing horse with me," muttered the victim, as he raised his other hand. "I'd give ten years of my life to know,--"
"I won't be a second," announced Mr. Yollop, backing gingerly toward the table. With his free hand he felt for and found the rather elaborate contraption that furnished him with the means to counteract his auricular deficiencies. The hand holding the revolver wobbled a bit; nevertheless, the little black hole at which the dazed robber stared as if fascinated was amazingly steadfast in its regard for the second or perhaps the third button of his coat. "It's a rather complicated arrangement," he went on to explain, "but very simple once you get it adjusted to the ear. It took me some time to get used to wearing this steel band over the top of my head. I never have tried to put it on with one hand before. Amazing how awkward one can be with his left hand, isn't it? Now, you see how it goes. This little receiver business clamps right down to the ear,--so. Then this disc hangs over my chest--and you talk right at it. For awhile I made a practice of concealing it under my vest, being somewhat sensitive about having strangers see that I am deaf, but one day my niece, a very bright child often, asked me why I did it. I told her it was because I didn't want people to know I was deaf. Have you ever felt so foolish that you wanted to kick yourself all over town? Well, then you know how I felt when that blessed infant pointed to this thing on my ear and--What say?"
"I say, that's the way I've been feeling ever since I came to," repeated the disgusted burglar.
"Of course, I realize that it's a physical, you might well say, a scientific impossibilty, for one to kick himself all over town, but just the same, I believe you are as nearly in the mood to accomplish it as any man alive to-day."
"You bet I could," snapped the thief, with great earnestness. "When I think how I let a skinny, half-witted boob like you walk right into a clinch with me, and me holdin' a gun, and weighin' forty pounds more than you do, I--Can you hear what I'm saying?"
"Perfectly. It's a wonderful invention," said Mr. Yollop, who had approached to within four or five feet of the speaker and was bending over to afford him every facility for planting his words squarely upon the disc. "Speak in the same tone of voice that you would employ if I were about thirty feet away and perfectly sound of hearing. Just imagine, if you can, that I am out in the hall, with the door open, and you are carrying on a conversation with me at that--"
"I've said all I want to say," growled the other sullenly.
"What is your name?"
"None of your damn business."
Mr. Yollop was silent for a moment. Then he inquired steadily:
"Have you any recollection of receiving a blow on the jaw, and subsequently lying on the flat of your back with my knees jouncing up and down on your stomach while your bump of amativeness was being roughly and somewhat regularly pounded against the wall in response to a certain nervous and uncontrollable movement of my hands which happened to be squeezing your windpipe so tightly that your tongue hung out and--"
"You bet I remember it!" ruefully.
"Well, then," said Mr. Yollop, "what is your name?"
"I thought you said you could hear with that thing!"
"I heard you say Jones quite distinctly, but why can't you answer my question? It was civil enough, wasn't it?"
"Well," said the crook, still decidedly uncertain as to the expression in Mr. Yollop's eye, "if you insist on a civil answer, it's Smilk."
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