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"Jake Miller Hangs Himself"
by [?]

“Have you heard the latest news?” inquired Newt Spratt, speaking in a hushed voice. He addressed Uncle Dad Simms, the town’s oldest inhabitant, whom he met face to face at the corner of Main and Sickle streets one fine morning in May. Now any one in Tinkletown would tell you that it was the sheerest folly to address Uncle Dad in a hushed voice. Mr. Spratt knew this as well as he knew his own name, so it should be easy to understand that the “news” was of a somewhat awe-inspiring nature. Ordinarily Newt was a loud-mouthed, jovial soul; you could hear him farther and usually longer than any other male citizen in Tinkletown. But now, he spoke in a hushed voice.

Uncle Dad put his hand up to his left ear and said “Hey?” This seemed to bring Mr. Spratt to his senses. He started violently, stared hard for a moment at the octogenarian, and then strode off down Main street, shaking his head as much as to say, “There must be something the matter with me. Nobody ever speaks to him unless he has to.”

And Uncle Dad, after gazing for a long time at the retreating figure, resumed his shuffling progress up Main street, pleasantly satisfied that Newt had gone to the trouble to tell him it was a nice day.

Although it would not have occurred to Newt, in his dismal state of mind, to look upon the day as a nice one, nevertheless it was. The sun was shining brightly, (but without Newt’s knowledge), and the air was soft and balmy and laden with the perfume of spring. Birds were twittering in the new green foliage of the trees, but Newt heard them not; dogs frisked in the sunshine, wagging their tongues and tails, but Newt saw them not; hens cackled, horses whinnied, children laughed, and all the world was set to music, but Newt was not a happy man.

He was not a happy man for the simple reason that everybody else in town had heard the “news” long before it reached him. For half-an-hour or more he had been putting that same old question to every one he met; indeed, he even went out of his way five or six blocks to ring the front door bell at the home of William Grimes, night watchman at Smock’s Warehouse, rousing him from a sound sleep in order to impart the “news” to him, only to have Bill call him a lot of hard names while making it clear that he had heard it before going to bed for the day.

The more Newt thought of it, the more he realized that it was his duty to go back and look up Uncle Dad Simms, even though it meant yelling his head off when he found him; it was a moral certainty that the only person in Tinkletown who hadn’t heard it was Uncle Dad,–and he would take a lot of telling.

The Weekly Banner would not be out till the following day; for at least twenty hours Uncle Dad would remain in the densest ignorance of the sensation that had turned Tinkletown completely upside down. Somebody ought to tell him. Somebody ought to tell poor old Uncle Dad Simms, that was all there was about it.

Moved by a sharp thrill of benevolence, Mr. Spratt retraced his steps, an eager look in his eyes. He found the old man standing in the broad, open door of Bill Kepsal’s blacksmith shop. The blacksmith’s assistant was banging away with might and main at his anvil, and Uncle Dad wore a pleased, satisfied smile on his thin old lips. He always said he loved to stand there and listen to the faint, faraway music of the hammer on the anvil, so different from the hammers and anvils they used to have when he was a boy,–when they were so blamed noisy you couldn’t hear yourself think.