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Lightnin' After a Play of the Same Name by Winchell Smith and Frank Bacon   By:

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LIGHTNIN'

BY FRANK BACON

After the Play of the Same Name by WINCHELL SMITH and FRANK BACON

With Illustrations from PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE PLAY

GROSSET & DUNLAP PUBLISHERS NEW YORK

Copyright 1920, by Harper & Brothers Printed in the United States of America Published February, 1920

[Illustration: YOU LOOKED INTO LIGHTNIN'S SHREWDLY HUMOROUS EYES, AND YOU SMILED SMILED WITH HIM ]

ILLUSTRATIONS

YOU LOOKED INTO LIGHTNIN'S SHREWDLY HUMOROUS EYES, AND YOU SMILED SMILED WITH HIM

"PROMISE ME YOU WON'T SIGN THE DEED" ... BILL HESITATED

LIGHTNIN', IN HIS FADED G. A. R. UNIFORM ... LISTENED ATTENTIVELY

...HE TOOK IT FROM HIS POCKET, SAYING, "MILLIE, I WANT TO SHOW YOU SOMETHING"

LIGHTNIN'

CHAPTER I

"Him?" the local postmaster of Calivada would say, in reply to your question about the quaint little old man who had just ambled away from the desk with a bundle of letters stuffed in his pocket. "Why, that's Lightnin' Bill Jones! We call him Lightnin' because he ain't. Nature didn't give no speed to Bill. No, sir, far as I know, Lightnin' 'ain't never done a day's work in his life but there ain't none of us ever thinks any the less of him for that! Bill's got a way with him, an' he kin tell some mighty good yarns. Lightnin's all right!"

And when you met Bill Jones you agreed with the postmaster. You looked into Lightnin's twinkling, shrewdly humorous eyes and you smiled smiled with him. You thought of the reply he made to a stranger who protested against his indolence.

"Well," Bill said, with that shrewd glance of his, "I ain't keepin' you from makin' a million dollars, am I?"

Old Bill was full of remarks like that, and sometimes those about him were not so sure as to his lack of speed, in spite of his aimless, easy going habits. You never can tell from the feet alone. Those closest to him were not sure at all; he "had them guessing." There was no doubt that his wife, simple, earnest, hard working woman that she was, loved him. She mothered him and did not seem to worry much about his shiftless ways. He was her husband, and that was enough for her. What Mrs. Jones thought of her husband's mental acumen would be another question, perhaps, but up to the present she had always consulted Bill's wishes and sought his advice. Their adopted daughter, Millie, a pretty, wholesome, brown haired girl of nineteen, worshiped Bill. Any one who said a word against "daddy" had Millie to deal with. The third person Bill had guessing was John Marvin, a young man who owned a tract of land and a cabin a few miles down the trail. Marvin had a lot on his mind, and was studying law all alone in the cabin at nights into the bargain, but he liked to have Bill drop in, liked to hear him talk. Bill could tell some pretty tall yarns, but he told them so well you had to swallow them. There was an odd, friendly, understanding bond between the ambitious young fellow and the easy going, humorous old man. They confided in each other a great deal, and well, like Mrs. Jones and Millie, Marvin frequently found himself crediting Bill with a semblance of mental speed. But then his mind would picture the ambling, aimless figure of Bill Jones with its shock of disordered gray hair and half shut eyes, and Marvin would smile to himself and turn his thoughts to something else. But he wondered, nevertheless.

At the present moment, the afternoon of a late summer's day, Bill Jones was doing a little wondering himself, though no one would have suspected it as he ambled lazily up the trail, bound for home. Things were not going well with the Jones family. Mrs. Jones and Millie were worrying, and Bill knew it. Characteristically, he had evaded the issue for several years, content to let each day take care of itself as best it could, but now matters were reaching a crisis and circumstances were forcing Bill to consider it. They had been selling the timber on the land, but that did not help much; and now they were taking summer boarders when they could get them, for boarders were scarce... Continue reading book >>




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