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The Ordeal of Colonel Johns   By: (1922-1996)

The Ordeal of Colonel Johns by George H. Smith

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from IF Worlds of Science Fiction June 1954. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.



By George H. Smith

Illustrated by Rudolph Palais

Colonel Johns, that famous Revolutionary War hero, had the unique and painful experience of meeting his great great great great granddaughter. Now maybe you can't change history, but what's there to prevent a soldier from changing his mind about the gal he is going to marry?

Clark Decker winced and scrounged still lower in his seat as Mrs. Appleby Simpkin rested her enormous bosom on the front of the podium and smiled down on the Patriot Daughters of America in convention assembled as she announced: "And now, my dears, I will read you one more short quotation from Major Wicks' fascinating book 'The Minor Tactics of The American Revolution.' When I am finished, I know that you will all agree that Rebecca Johns Hayes will be a more than fitting successor to myself as your President."

Decker looked wildly about for a way of escape from the convention auditorium. If he had only remained in the anteroom with Professor MacCulloch and the Historical Reintegrator! After suffering through four days of speeches by ladies in various stages of mammalian top heaviness, he hadn't believed it possible that anyone could top Mrs. Appleby Simpkin for either sheer ability to bore or for the nobility of her bust. Mrs. Rebecca Johns Hayes had come as something of a shock as she squirmed her way onto the speaker's platform. But there she was as big as life, or rather bigger, smiling at Mrs. Appleby Simpkin, the Past President, beaming at Mrs. Lynd Torris, a defeated candidate for the presidency and whose ancestor had been only a captain, and completely ignoring Mrs. Tolman, the other defeated candidate whose ancestor had been so inconsiderate as to have been a Continental sergeant. Only the thought that now that the voting was over and the new president chosen, the ladies might be ready for the demonstration of the Reintegrator had brought Decker onto the convention floor, and now he was trapped and would have to listen.

"And so," Mrs. Appleby Simpkin was reading, "upon such small events do the great moments of history depend. The brilliant scouting and skirmishing of the riflemen under Colonel Peter Johns prevented the breakthrough of Captain Fosdick's column and the possible flanking of the American army before Saratoga. Thus, this little known action may have been the deciding factor in the whole campaign that prevented General Burgoyne from carrying out the British plan to divide the colonies and end the war. It is impossible for the historian to refrain from speculation as to what might have happened had Colonel Johns not been on hand to direct the riflemen and militia in this section; as indeed he might not have been, since his own regiment of short term enlistees had returned to Pennsylvania a few days previously. Only the Colonel's patriotism and devotion to duty kept him in the field and made his abilities available to the country when they were most needed."

Mrs. Appleby Simpkin waited until the burst of applause had died down and then continued, "That is the man whose great great great great granddaughter you have elected your president today ... Mrs. Rebecca Johns Hayes!" Turning to Mrs. Johns Hayes she went on, "Before you make your acceptance speech, dear, we have a little surprise for you."

Clark Decker had been edging his way toward the side of the auditorium where the Men's Auxiliary of the Daughters had their seats but he turned back at the mention of the surprise... Continue reading book >>

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