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The Varmint by Owen Johnson

The Varmint

[Illustration]

OWEN JOHNSON

The Varmint

By OWEN JOHNSON

Author of "The Prodigious Hickey," "Stover at Yale," "The Humming Bird," "Tennessee Shad," etc.

WITH FOUR ILLUSTRATIONS BY F. R. GRUGER

A. L. BURT COMPANY PUBLISHERS NEW YORK

COPYRIGHT, 1910, BY THE BAKER & TAYLOR COMPANY

_Published, July, 1910_

THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS, GARDEN CITY, N. Y.

TO

Alexander Lambert, M.D.

IN FRIENDSHIP, IN GRATITUDE, AND IN MEMORY OF MY WIFE.

THE VARMINT

[Illustration: "LIKE MY JIBS?" SAID STOVER]

THE VARMINT

I

When young Stover disembarked at the Trenton station on the fourth day after the opening of the spring term he had acquired in his brief journey so much of the Pennsylvania rolling stock as could be detached and concealed. Inserted between his nether and outer shirts were two gilt "Directions to Travelers" which clung like mustard plasters to his back, while a jagged tin sign, wrenched from the home terminal, embraced his stomach with the painful tenacity of the historic Spartan fox. In his pockets were objects--small objects but precious and dangerous to unscrew and acquire.

Being forced to wait, he sat now, preternaturally stiff, perched on a heap of trunks, clutching a broken dress-suit case which had been re-enforced with particolored strings.

There was about young Stover, when properly washed, a certain air of cherubim that instantly struck the observer; his tousled tow hair had a cathedral tone, his cheek was guileless and his big blue eyes had an upward cast toward the angels which, as in the present moment when he was industriously exchanging a check labeled Baltimore to a trunk bound for Jersey City, was absolutely convincing. But from the limit whence the cherub continueth not the imp began. His collar was crumpled and smutty with the descent of many signs, a salmon-pink necktie had quarreled with a lavender shirt and retreated toward one ear, one cuff had broken loose and one sulked up the sleeve. His green serge pockets bulged in every direction, while the striped blue-and-white trousers, already outgrown, stuck to the knees and halted short of a pair of white socks that in turn disappeared into a pair of razor-pointed patent-leathers.

Young Stover's career at Miss Wandell's Select Academy for boys and girls had been a tremendous success, for it had ended in a frank confession on Miss Wandell's part that her limited curriculum was inadequate for the abnormal activities of dangerous criminals.


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