In a sequestered Dump lived two Urchins, Edgar and Rufus, who went to the Post with about an equal Handicap.
They got away together down the broad Avenue of Hope which leads one Lad over the hills and far away to the United States Senate Chamber and guides another unerringly to the Federal Pen near Leavenworth, Kansas.
When Edgar was a Tootsey he received a frequent dusting with Extreme Violet Talcum Powder.
About the same time Rufus was propped up to look at Pictures of Napoleon and John L. Sullivan and Sitting Bull.
At School each was a trifle Dumb.
If Edgar fell down on an Exam, his Relatives would call a Mass Meeting to express Regrets and hang Crape all over the Place.
If Rufus got balled up in his Answers, his immediate Kin would pat him on the Back and tell him he was right and the Text-Book was wrong.
Edgar would emerge from the Feathers every morning to find his Parents all lined up to wish him a new set of Police Regulations.
They held up the Rigid Forefinger and warned him that he was merely a Grain of Dust and a Weakling and a poor juvenile Mutt whose Mission in Life was to Lie Down and Behave.
Rufus would be aroused each Sunrise by a full Military Band of 60 Pieces playing “Hail to the Chief who in Triumph Advances.”
Whenever Edgar was forced into a Battle and came home smeared and disarranged, his Mother would go to her Room and Cry softly and Father would paint a vivid Word-Picture of a Wretch standing on the Gallows with a Black Cap over his Head.
Then Edgar would crawl to the Hay Mow and brood over his Moral Infirmities and try in a groping way to figure out his Relation to Things in General.
But, when Rufus appeared all dripping with Gore, his Seconds would cool him out and rub him with Witch Hazel and pin Medals on him.
No wonder he became as pugnacious as U. S. Grant, as conceited as a Successful Business Man and as self-assured as a Chautauqua Lecturer.
Every one disliked him intensely. But just the same, they stepped off into the Mud and gave him the entire double width of the Cement Sidewalk.
Edgar, on the other hand, was one of the most popular Door-Mats that ever had “Welcome” marked up and down his Spinal Column.
All those who scratched Matches on him and used him as a Combination Hall-Tree and Hitching Post used to remark that he didn’t have an Enemy in the World.
They had corralled his Goat, so he had to play the Part himself.
It had been dinged into him that True Politeness means to wait until every one else has been Served and then murmur a few Thanks for the Leavings.
Besides, his Parents had convinced him that if he went Fishing he wouldn’t get a Nibble, and if he climbed a Tree he would fall and break his Leg, and if he tried to manipulate more than Two Dollars at one time, he would go Blind.
Therefore, when both were in College, Rufus acted as plunging Half-Back, with Blue Smoke coming from his Nostrils, and achieved the undying Distinction of being singled out by Walter Camp.
Edgar sat up on the Bleachers with 2,000 other Mere Students and lent a quavering Tenor to a Song about Alma Mater.
Even the Undergrads could not take the Tuck out of Rufus.
He was fresher than Green Paint and his Work was Raw, but he was so Resilient that no one could pin him to the Mat and keep him there.
When a Boy has been told 877 times a Day for many Years that he is the Principal Feature of the Landscape, it takes more than an ordinary Doctoring to Cure him.
He left College thoroughly convinced that the World was his Oyster and he had an Opener in every Pocket.