by Mary Waddell
Warren and Lucile Markham were spending a week with their country cousins, Ray Deering and the Merton children, Dan, Bernice, Callie and Jack.
"Let's play city," said Bernice one day when they had all grown tired of their usual games. "We can put sticks around to show the size of it, and make streets running each way.
"Oh yes! and we can call it Mertonville and elect a mayor," said Lucile.
Callie ran to the house for pieces of paper and a pencil; then each one wrote a name and dropped it into a box. Warren got the most votes, so he became the mayor of Mertonville.
"Now, there ought to be a gang working on the streets," said Warren. "They're always repairing the streets in a city."
"Who'll boss the gang?" asked Bernice.
"Well," said Warren, thoughtfully, "I believe Dan ought to be the boss. He never flies to pieces as Ray does when he don't like things. Father says, 'If a boss can't control himself, he can't control others."'
Ray had gone for a drink. When he returned and learned what had been done, he flew into a temper at once.
"I'm the oldest. I ought to be the boss. I'm not going to have Dan bossing me around. He don't know as much about the city as I do. I'm not going to belong to any old street gang any way. I won't play," and Ray walked out of the city.
"All right, Ray Deering," said Callie, "if you want to pout, just pout on. We don't need you."
"Ah, come on," Warren coaxed. "There's other things 'to be done. We'll build houses, too. You can be the contractor.
That's a more important position than bossing a street gang."
Ray did not look up. He had started to be stubborn and he would continue to be stubborn. Of course he wasn't happy but then-0 well, he really ought to have been the mayor, he thought.
"Let him alone. He'll get over it after a while," whispered Lucile.
Then they left Ray and went back into Mertonville. Bernice made believe she was a man and, with the help of little Jack began work on the streets under the direction of Boss Dan. The rest of the workmen were pretend people. There were not enough real people for all the work of the city. With a hoe and a shovel a part of a street was torn up and then paved in small stones. Lucile and Callie built houses of stone and pieces of boards, making mortar of mud to hold the stones together for walls.
When Ray saw what a good time the rest were having he wished he could play, too; but he wanted to be coaxed some more. For a long time he studied about how he could get into the game without letting any one know he was sorry.At last he though of a way, and began to carry as large boards and rocks as he could find into the city.
"What are you going to do?" asked the mayor.
"I'm going to build a saloon," he replied. "It will biggest building in this old town."
"Indeed you won't," cried Callie. "We won't have any low- down saloons in our city. We're dry."
With that, they all ran him out and threw his building materials away. Then Ray began to throw rocks at the courthouse. When the stones came back dangerously near his head, he hid behind a tree. Imagining himself a saloon keeper put out of business, he thought he would be a bootlegger when he realized there would be no one in the little city who buy whisky or beer, he decided to start a distillery behind a bush just inside the city limits. Running to the house, he found some bottles which he filled with water. Then he got an old tin can, and some leaves for mash. Before the busy workmen realized what was going on, a distillery was running full blast behind the bush. When the citizens discovered it, they destroyed the still, ran Ray out and ordered him never to return.
"I guess I can come in if I want to," he said. "I've got as much right there as you have."
"No you haven't, Ray," said Bernice.
"Yes, I have. I've a right to do just as I please. This is a free country, I guess."
"Well, if this is a free country for you," said Dan, it must be for us, too; so we have a right to run you out every time you come in."
"Ray," said Warren, "you not only act like a wet man, but you talk like one. Wet men are always talking about their rights. The other day one of them said to Father, 'I've a right ,to buy or sell whisky if I want to. This is a free country.' It made Dad warm. He said to the man, 'Well, if being in a free country gives you a right to do as you please, and sell whisky to my boy, then because I am in the same free country I have the right to make you stop it. I have a better right to make you stop than you have to sell it. God is on my side. It is wicked for you to harm my boy. Every thing you do that harms yourself or any one else is wrong.'
"I should think you'd be ashamed to even play you are wet You are a regular outcast. None of us want to have any thing to do with you when you act this way."
Ray began to cry. He had not enjoyed being an outcast.
"I don't want to be a wet man,," he said. "I'm not going to play I'm one any more."
"All right," replied Warren, "we are just starting to build a church. You can help us if you want to."
Ray went to work. To show he had changed, he did his best to make the church the largest and best building in Mertonville.
Published by the Lincoln-Lee Legion, Westerville Ohio
Copyright, 1922. The American Issue Publishing Co.
A hard copy of this story can be found in the Anti-Saloon League Collection at the Westerville History Museum.
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