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March 22, 1941 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1941-03-22

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Puge Eight

TPERSPECTIVES

EPISODES IN THE PERPETRATION
OF A DASTARDLY CRIME
.by Dennis Flannagan

DO NOT BELIEVE that you are ac-
quainted with Catherine Shepherd,
but if you are you must know the
tragedy which has befallen her.
There is a certain young man who has
also heard this tragedy, and he undoubt-
edly feels it much more deeply than you.
It is a curious thing that he should
feel thus; he has known Catherine
Shepherd only slightly, and even disliked
her as equivocally as. their casual ac-
quaintanceship would permit.
There is apparently no reason at all
for him to be sad; Catherine has not
been any closer to him than five hun-
dred miles during the past year, nor has
he even thought of her during that per-
iod.
The name of this young man is
Jack A. (for Absalom) Bishop, who is
at present a student in a small college
in Indiana named after the town in
which it is located. He attends this col-
lege because of the edict of his mother
and father (the latter a prosperous
Pennsylvania dairy farmer, of Mennon-
ite stock), who sent his older brothers,
Maurice and Edgar, there, and who also
have the same plans for his younger
brother, Vernon. It has been a source
of considerable disappointment to Jack
that he has not been able to attend
a larger and more cosmopolitan uni-
versity, because he is what he himself
would call, with admirable deprecation,
"an embryo man of letters."'
However, he is somewhat of a figure
in his limited sphere, having attained
the position of principal litterateur of
his college through his editorship of the
college magazine. It is inevitable that
he should try to negate his background,
but curiously the principal stock in
trade of his writing is that 'same back-
ground.
Today he has been greatly affected by
the news which he has heard concerning
Catherine Shepherd, which he has got-
ten through the agency of the Linsdale
Daily Intelligencer, the only news organ
of the small town in which he attended
high school.
(He does not subscribe to this news-
paper because he is interested in news
from home, but because he finds it
amusing, a rich subject for whimsical
ridicule in his magazine, much in the
manner of the New Yorker magazine.
He particularly enjoys the archaic head-
lines in the Intelligencer, and was once
even moved to write an essay of con-
siderable length on these headlines.
But do not misunderstand, for Jack
is a good, and frequently even sensitive,
fellow).
You may find it strange that today
he is not thinking at all of Catherine,
but rather of a close friend of his named
George Albertson, with whom he attend-
ed school in Linsdale. Even stranger, he
is thinking particularly of a certain
bitterly cold morning in an October of
eight, years ago, when he and George
lay on their stomachs in an open field,
waiting for nothing more exciting than
the egress of a woodchuck from his
burrow. The wind was keen, but they
had the usual disregard of boys in their
teens of discomfort.
Ultimately the woodchuck emerged
and sat upon his haunches, and George
shot him, since it was his turn. For
Jack the memory of the scene faded
sharply here, because he remembered
particularly George's amazing delibera-
tion and impassivity as he raised the
rifle to his cheek and moved his eye
to the disc of the tang sight, and beyond
that the image faded anti-climacttically.
Jack, who is fond of analyzing his re-
flections, wonders why he should re-
member this. Perhaps it is because those
few moments were George's essence, he

thinks. It had been a perfect and fluid
climax to the manner in which he had
lain on the'uncomfortable stubble for
almost an hour, without moving his eyes
once from the clay hillock which marked
i the burrow; Jack had once given it the
hackneyed expression, "George-ness."
To Jack "George-ness" meant great
personal simplicity.
It was this simplicity which made
George popular among his contemp-
oraries as a boy, although this was con-
siderably augmented by the fact that
he was a trifle larger and stockier than
they. He was of that rare classification
of children who are taciturn not be-
cause they are stupid, but because they
have suffered some repression of the
normal desire of communication. This
taciturnity served only to breed further
respect, since it could not be found sul-
lenness, and because it was coupled with
a good knowledge of woodcraft (an en-
deavor of some importance among the

family had considerable wealth, which
was untrue. It must have appeared thus
to her very shortly, but the bitterness
.and perversity of her mind permitted
her to harbor it long afterward.
Because of this misconception she cul-
tivated an almost malevolent dislike for
George, and since she was a child, took
no pains to conceal it. But although this
dislike was manifest to others, it was
rarely apparent to him, since his reti-
cence gave very few openings for insult.
This angered her even further, however,
and he soon discovered her dislike
through a simple and violent expression.
Since George lived quite a distance
from the Linsdale primary school it was
customary for his father to call for him
in his automobile after dismissal. This
rankled with Catherine, since an auto-
mobile was among the things that the
Shepherd family did not possess, and,
with peculiar pleasure, she began fram-
ing a number of perorations that she

/9eri3ecti/e3
Editor . . .. ............................................. Ellen Rhea
Fiction Editor .................................... Jay W. McCormick
Joanne Cohen Gilberta Rothstein, Emile Gele, Barbara Richards.
Essay Editor .................... .: . ............... Richard M. Ludwig
John Baker, Betty Whitehead, Frances Patterson, Laurence
Spingarn, M. M Lipper, Bruce W. Forbes.
Poetry Editor .......................................Irving Weiss
Bet ty Baer, Bertha Klein, Joan Clement
Book Review Editor .................................. Ray Ingham
Mort Jampel, Gerald Burns, Edwin Burrows
Art Editor .......................................... Tristan M einecke
Publications Editor .................................... Carol Bundy
Joan Siegel, Joan Doris Jean Mullins, Will Raymond, Erath
Gutekunst, Rose Ann Kornblume, Barbara DeFries
Advisory Board:
Arno L. Bader, Herbert Weisinger, J. L. Davis, Morris Greenhut,
Allan Seager, Emil Weddige

off," she said. She looked steadily at
George, who was looking off disinterest-
edly. "Why don't you say something,
Jo-werj?" Then she added angrily, "Oh,
do you think I care what he does?'
"Wait a minute, now," Jack said, "I
don't think George is showing off, It's
none of your beeswax, anyway ... "
"You keep quiet," she said "He's just
scared to talk himself ... .I see your Dad
come down here every day, smoking
that big cigar." George still did not an-
swer. "My dad's home working," she
said angrily. "He hasn't got time to
come down here after some lazy old
thing." Exasperated, she added, "Well,
why don't you say something, you stuck
up?"
It's three miles," George said.
Catherine saw that there was a long
leather strap hanging from the shutter
on the side of the schoolhouse near her.
"You're just lazy," she said.
Jack pushed in between them rough-
ly, seizing her arm. "Hey, what do you
mean?" he said. "Where do you get
that stuff. I guess I' m lazy, too." aa
literary afterthought, he added, "Who
do you think you are, the Queen of
Sheba?" He shook her arm again
Her face white with fury, Catherine
seized the strap from the shutter, and,
pushing Jack aside, gave the noncom-
batant George a cruel blow on the side
of the head.
"You rich old thing!" she said.
Episode Two .. .
JACK REMEMBERED quite clearly the
night of the junior prom of his
third year in high school because on that
night he took his first drink of liquor.
It was a milestone in his life, despite
the fact that he subsequently drank
very little and on rare occasions. He re-
membered that Dick Schermerhorn bad
discovered that his father kept an entire
barrel of muscatel wine in his cellar
and had managed to steal a gallon and
bring it to the dance in his car. He re-
membered also that Stan Dyer had got-
ten drunk, feigning even greater drunk-
eness, and hadsubsequently gotten sick.
Dick had said to him, "Come on, Stan.
Stick your finger down your throat.
That's the only way to do it. Come on,
you'll feel a lot better for it." Stan
had begun to laugh idiotically and Dick
slapped him hard on the cheek. "That's
the oney way to handle them when they
get that way, Jack," he said authorita-
tively.
George and Catherine had also come
to this dance, since George had been
taking Catherine to virtually all dances
for the past six months. It was not ap-
parent why George sought her company,
since she maintained a very casual at-
titude toward him, an extension of her
former bitter one. She had grown into
a moderately pretty girl, but there were
many prettier whom George might just
as easily have chosen. She appeared to
have outgrown some of her early bitter-
ness but the residue was equally irri-
tating, being principally a certain brit-
tleness of manner, a rather nasal voice,
and a harsh, strident giggle. She had by
this time also managed to garner a mild
sort of bad reputation, having been
known to go out with a few "men" of the
immediate post-high school period. She
still went out with them at times, and
sas outwardly discreet. but spent a
greater portion of her time with George.
However, during 'this partiular eve-
ning the remnant of her discretion col-
lapsed disastrously. At one moment
Catherine was seen dancing with Tom
Heller, who drove one of the local milk
route trucks, and who Jack knew slight-
ly in this connection, at another she was

boys of Linsdale) and a definite facility
for sports.
On the occasions which George spoke,
he spoke without hesitation, and with a
quality that was almost profundity,
marking the fact that he gave the final-
ity of the spoken word a precocious'con-
sideration. It was this quality which
Jack respected, and which made him
seek George's friendship.
In George's boyhood his popularity
earned him a few offices, particularly
in his boy scout troop and high school.
In the latter he was notably president
of the Hi-Y Club and captain of the
baseball team. This was his favorite
sport, and in it he discharged a sound
game at first base for the Linsdale
"Seaters," so called because Linsdale
was the county seat.
Ep5isofde One . . .
CATHERINE SHEPHERD was the
third child in a family of six, of even-
ly apportioned sexes. Her family was not
poverty-stricken, but sufficiently close
to the borderline of poverty for their
children to become acutely conscious of
it as soon' as they became old enough.
They luckily had a home which was not
unprepossessing, but only because Frank
Shepherd, the father, had built it him-
self when he had ventured into the con-
tracting business as a young man.
Catherine first knew George when he
moved to a farm on the outskirts of
Linsdale. Her first and most lasting im-
pression of him was strangely that his

could use when she had the opportunity.
"If he wasn't so lazy his father wouldn't
have to come and get him. His father
doesn't have anything to do, anyway,
just sit around that big old house and
drink beer (a beverage that was to her
the ultimate in dissipation)."
Catherine made a particular prac-
tice of waiting outside the school for a
few minutes after dismissal, watching
George covertly from a distance until
his father came. She would then walk
home with her face set in a mask of
indignant anger.
On one of these afternoons George
stood idly by the side of the street, talk-
ing with the young Jack Bishop, who
was speaking admiringly of the new
sheath knife which George had brought
to school on his belt. Shortly George
took the knife from it sheath, showing
the bright new blade to Jack with mod-
est pride.
He was not aware that lse was also
demonstrating this to Catherine, who
was standing only a few feet away;
this he soon discovered when she ap-
proached and looked silently at the
knife, which he still held in his hand.
"I suppose you're pretty proud of
that, aren't you?" Her tone was bitter,
but not angry. She added, rationally,
"I don't see what good it is."
When George did not answer, Jack
said, "Why, when he gets out in the
woods sometime he can use it for almost
anything."
"He just brought it to school to show

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