Sheriff Harding

Damon Runyon

John Harding was a very serious young man.

He had no sense of humor whatever.

John Harding believed that all laws were made to be enforced.

He was always mentioning this idea.

John Harding took an interest in politics, and attended conventions, and made speeches. He was always making speeches about law enforcement. John Harding was a Republican.

Finally, one day, Vic Morton suggested that John Harding would make a good sheriff. Vic Morton was a Republican leader. He ran a filling station. He was a great joker, and was half joking when he suggested John Harding for sheriff.

John Harding did not want to be sheriff. He was doing all right as assistant manager of Shuman’s wholesale grocery. He had a chance to be manager someday. He was very popular with his employers and associates.

John Harding was very popular with everybody.

Our Town needed a good sheriff, as the newspapers were making a fuss about Sheriff Sid Carroll not enforcing the law. The newspapers in Our Town made a fuss about enforcing the law at least once a year on general principles.

The Republicans nominated John Harding for sheriff, and he finally accepted, but he said if he was elected he would enforce the law. Vic Morton made the nominating speech for John Harding, and laughed heartily when he heard what John Harding said.

Three days after John Harding took office. Ad Attle, a colored fellow, shot and killed George Dibblee, because George struck him over the head with a jack handle.

George had a hot temper.

He did not know Ad had a gun.

Ad was arrested by Deputy Sheriff Karns, and taken to the county jail and locked up. There was much indignation over the killing, as George Dibblee was very popular in Our Town, and it was decided to get up a mob and lynch Ad Attle. There had not been any excitement in Our Town for weeks.

Vic Morton got up the mob.

It marched up to the county jail and sent in word to hand over Ad Attle. John Harding came out on the steps and said the request would not be granted. John Harding said he was the sheriff and sworn to do his duty, and that he would kill the first man who tried to break into the jail.

Vic Morton laughed.

Vic Morton said, Come on, boys, and started up the steps of the county jail.

John Harding shot him through the head with a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson.

This broke up the mob.

John Harding was impeached later on and fired out of his job as sheriff for killing Vic Morton. He has been a bum around Our Town ever since.

Everybody said John Harding had his gall shooting the man who first suggested that he be made sheriff.