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Mr. Opp   By: (1870-1942)

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[Illustration: "He read impressively"]

MR. OPP

BY ALICE HEGAN RICE

Author of "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch," "Lovey Mary," "Sandy," etc.

With Illustrations by LEON GUIPON

NEW YORK THE CENTURY CO. 1909

Copyright, 1908, 1909, by The Century Co.

Published, April, 1909

THE DE VINNE PRESS

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE "He read impressively" Frontispiece

"'Don't leave me'" 45

"'Why, Mr. Opp, I'm not old enough'" 129

"It was Mr. Opp saying his prayers" 197

"'Oh, my God, it has come'" 263

"'Can't nobody beat me making skirts'" 319

MR. OPP

I

"I hope your passenger hasn't missed his train," observed the ferryman to Mr. Jimmy Fallows, who sat on the river bank with the painter of his rickety little naphtha launch held loosely in his hand.

"Mr. Opp?" said Jimmy. "I bet he did. If there is one person in the world that's got a talent for missing things, it's Mr. Opp. I never seen him that he hadn't just missed gettin' a thousand dollar job, or inventin' a patent, or bein' hurt when he had took out a accident policy. If he did ketch a train, like enough it was goin' the wrong way."

Jimmy had been waiting since nine in the morning, and it was now well past noon. He was a placid gentleman of curvilinear type, short of limb and large of girth. His trousers, of that morose hue termed by the country people "plum," reached to his armpits, and his hat, large and felt and weather beaten, was only prevented from eclipsing his head by the stubborn resistance of two small, knob like ears.

"Mr. Opp ain't been back to the Cove for a long while, has he?" asked the ferryman, whose intellectual life depended solely upon the crumbs of information scattered by chance passers by.

"Goin' on two years," said Mr. Fallows. "Reckon he's been so busy formin' trusts and buyin' out railways and promotin' things generally that he ain't had any time to come back home. It's his step pa's funeral that's bringin' him now. The only time city folks seem to want to see their kin folks in the country is when they are dead."

"Ain't that him a comin' down the bank?" asked the ferryman, shading his eyes with his hands.

Mr. Fallows, with some difficulty, got to his feet.

"Yes, that's him all right. Hustlin' to beat the band. Wonder if he takes me for a street car."

Coming with important stride down the wharf, and whistling as he came, was a small man of about thirty five. In one hand he carried a large suit case, and in the other a new and shining grip. On both were painted, in letters designed to be seen, "D. Webster Opp, Kentucky."

In fact, everything about him was evidently designed to be seen. His new suit of insistent plaid, his magnificent tie sagging with the weight of a colossal scarf pin, his brown hat, his new tan shoes, all demanded individual and instant attention.

The only insignificant thing about Mr. Opp was himself. His slight, undeveloped body seemed to be in a chronic state of apology for failing properly to set off the glorious raiment wherewith it was clothed. His pock marked face, wide at the temples, sloped to a small, pointed chin, which, in turn, sloped precipitously into a long, thin neck. It was Mr. Opp's eyes, however, that one saw first, for they were singularly vivid, with an expression that made strangers sometimes pause in the street to ask him if he had spoken to them. Small, pale, and red of rim, they nevertheless held the look of intense hunger hunger for the hope or the happiness of the passing moment.

As he came bustling down to the water's edge he held out a friendly hand to Jimmy Fallows.

"How are you, Jimmy?" he said in a voice freighted with importance. "Hope I haven't kept you waiting long. Several matters of business come up at the last and final moment, and I missed the morning train."

Jimmy, who was pouring gasolene into a tank in the launch, treated the ferryman to a prodigious wink... Continue reading book >>




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