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JOHNNY TRUMBULL, he who had demonstrated his claim to be Cock of the Walk by a
most impious hand-to-hand fight with his own aunt, Miss Janet Trumbull, in which he
had been decisively victorious, and won his spurs, consisting of his late grandfather's
immense, solemnly ticking watch, was to take a new path of action. Johnny suddenly
developed the prominent Trumbull trait, but in his case it was inverted. Johnny, as
became a boy of his race, took an excursion into the past, but instead of applying the
present to the past, as was the tendency of the other Trumbulls, he forcibly applied the
past to the present. He fairly plastered the past over the exigencies of his day and
generation like a penetrating poultice of mustard, and the results were peculiar.
Johnny, being bidden of a rainy day during the midsummer vacation to remain in the
house, to keep quiet, read a book, and be a good boy, obeyed, but his obedience was of a
doubtful measure of wisdom.
Johnny got a book out of his uncle Jonathan Trumbull's dark little library while Jonathan
was walking sedately to the post-office, holding his dripping umbrella at a wonderful
slant of exactness, without regard to the wind, thereby getting the soft drive of the rain
full in his face, which became, as it were, bedewed with tears, entirely outside any cause
of his own emotions.
Johnny probably got the only book of an antiorthodox trend in his uncle's library. He
found tucked away in a snug corner an ancient collection of Border Ballads, and he read
therein of many unmoral romances and pretty fancies, which, since he was a small boy,
held little meaning for him, or charm, beyond a delight in the swing of the rhythm, for
Johnny had a feeling for music. It was when he read of Robin Hood, the bold Robin
Hood, with his dubious ethics but his certain and unquenchable interest, that Johnny
Trumbull became intent. He had the volume in his own room, being somewhat doubtful
as to whether it might be of the sort included in the good-boy role. He sat beside a
rainwashed window, which commanded a view of the wide field between the Trumbull
mansion and Jim Simmons's house, and he read about Robin Hood and his Greenwood
adventures, his forcible setting the wrong right; and for the first time his imagination
awoke, and his ambition. Johnny Trumbull, hitherto hero of nothing except little material
fistfights, wished now to become a hero of true romance.
In fact, Johnny considered seriously the possibility of reincarnating, in his own person,
Robin Hood. He eyed the wide green field dreamily through his rain-blurred window. It
was a pretty field, waving with feathery grasses and starred with daisies and buttercups,
and it was very fortunate that it happened to be so wide. Jim Simmons's house was not a
desirable feature of the landscape, and looked much better several acres away. It was a
neglected, squalid structure, and considered a disgrace to the whole village. Jim was also
a disgrace, and an unsolved problem. He owned that house, and somehow contrived to
pay the taxes thereon. He also lived and throve in bodily health in spite of evil ways, and
his children were many. There seemed no way to dispose finally of Jim Simmons and his