The Wooing of Nosey Gillespie

Damon Runyon

In all the world there is nothing so sweet as love, and we have plenty of this business going on back in my old home town out West at all times.

In fact, it is as good as an even money bet that we have as much love going on in my old home town as any other town in this country, population considered.

We have all kinds of romances, some of which are very lovely indeed, and others which are not so good, and among these romances is the romance between Nosey Gillespie, the editor of the Weekly Bee, and Miss Jo Eva Gildersleeve, the schoolteacher.

This Nosey Gillespie is called Nosey because he is nosey, but of course being nosey is largely his racket, being the editor of this Weekly Bee. This Weekly Bee is not much of a newspaper, being nothing like the Pueblo Morning Chieftain, but Nosey Gillespie does fairly well for himself with it, what with ads from the saloonkeepers, and contributions from the candidates at election times.

He is a little dried-up man, maybe fifty years old, with a goatee, and he is as quiet and mild as an old tomato. Nothing much ever happens to him in his whole life, except one time years ago when he first starts his paper, a Mexican drops in on him and shoots his right leg off, thinking he is shooting the editor of the Morning Chieftain for putting something dirty in the paper about him.

Anybody knows that the last thing Nosey Gillespie will ever think of is putting anything dirty in his paper about anybody, even a Mexican. There is no harm in Nosey, whatever. He is always ready to put something nice in his paper about people, and while not many are apt to see it after it is in the paper on account of the circulation of the Bee being very low, this shows Nosey has a good disposition anyway.

Well, for many years Nosey goes along on his one leg as an old bachelor, doing all right, and well satisfied with life, when Miss Jo Eva Gildersleeve lights on him. My old man claims that the reason Miss Jo Eva lights on Nosey is because he is the only man left in town she does not light on in thirty years, it being Miss Jo Eva’s idea to catch herself a husband.

Well, of course, it is a tough break for Nosey, because Miss Jo Eva is homelier than a mud fence, and with a terrible disposition, but somehow poor old Nosey does not have the strength to resist her, what with being one-legged, and none too lively to begin with.

So it begins to look as if Miss Jo Eva will become Mrs. Nosey as sure as you are a foot high, especially when she takes to making old Nosey keep out of saloons, and change his collar more than somewhat, to say nothing of having himself shaved several times a week.

Furthermore, Miss Jo Eva hangs out in the office of the Weekly Bee more than is good for circulation, and she makes Nosey have the windows washed, and keep his desk tidied up, all of which is naturally very much against nature with Nosey.

But in general Nosey seems resigned to his fate, because he is not experienced enough to get away from such a crafty dame as Miss Jo Eva, when what happens but Miss Jo Eva commences to get romantic. Up to this time, her idea of marrying Nosey is strictly a business proposition with her, but Nosey is so easy that Miss Jo Eva gets to thinking maybe she ought to have a little romance in it, like other people before they get married. So she gets to mooning to Nosey, and getting very soft, and by and by she tries to make Nosey act like a regular knight, or some such. But of course Nosey is no knight, except a Knight Templar, and there is no more romance in his system than there is in a crab apple.

But Miss Jo Eva keeps at him, trying to make him romantic, and poetic, and what not, like the guys in the novels who are in love, and one day they are out walking down by the Arkansaw River, watching the spring rise, which carries away all the bridges, as usual, and a few spare houses here and there.

Now during the spring rise, if the bridges go out down the river, the side Nosey and Miss Jo Eva happen to be on is cut off for a few days from the railroad depot on the other side, and this is the case the day Nosey and Miss Jo Eva stroll down to the river.

They are watching the old Arkansaw, with the spare houses from ranches up the river, and logs, and chicken coops, and dog kennels, and one thing and another floating past, when Miss Jo Eva lays her head on Nosey’s shoulder, and says to Nosey like this:

“Gerald,” she says, Gerald being Nosey’s regular name, “Gerald,” she says, “suppose I ask you to swim this raging torrent to prove your love for me, would you do it?”

“Would I?” Nosey says. “Well, just watch me!” Before you can say Jack Robinson, he offs with his coat and hops into the river, and the next anybody sees of him he is crawling out on the opposite bank, half a mile below, near the railroad yards.

Well, Miss Jo Eva faints dead away when she sees Nosey in the river, and so she does not see him when he comes out and hops on a freight train which is just pulling out of the yards, wet as he is, and everything.

Furthermore, Miss Jo Eva never sees Nosey again, and nobody else in my old home town does either, and this is the reason why the Weekly Bee is now edited by Miss Jo Eva Gildersleeve, and why it prints many boilerplate stories of blighted love, and what not.