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J. P. DUNBAR
'AN UNWILLING HERO OF ROMANCE
GREAT was the disgust of J. Percival Dunbar when he found that, in the newspaper accounts of his rescue of Kitty Van Zandt, he had been made a hero of romance.
His aspirations were not in that direction. He was flattered only when called a hardheaded man, of a practical turn of mind, devoid of sentiment and of sympathy, with no nonsense about him. That he was such a man was his sincere belief and he tried to live up to his belief. Therefore he cultivated a habit of cynicism.
But conditions were against him. Chief among them was his appearance. In his tall and well-proportioned frame, which he carried with an easy grace, the result of his athletic training in his college days, women saw much to admire. So they gossiped about him applaudingly. That was sufficient to make him
a carpet knight in the minds of other men in spite of his assumed indifference. Partly because he piqued women by this indifference and partly because he possessed a compelling taste that forced him into the fine choice of clothes he wore so well as to give him an air of distinction, they gave him their favor. They said he was handsome, though there were critical observers among them who insisted that his nose was somewhat too sharp, his lips too thin, his chin too square, and that there were too many steel glints in the glances of his gray eyes to class him among those who measured up to the Greek god standard of manly beauty. And he was young, not yet thirty and looked younger.
Then, too, "he parted his name in the middle." This was due to circumstance; not to choice. It was a device to keep under cover as much as possible his hated name of Jeremiah, which was suggestive of an early and humiliating disappointment. That disappointment, rather than the name itself, was the cause of his hatred.
These things combined, together with his singular success so early in life, made him an object of interest and curiosity among his friends and acquaintances.
On a bright May morning in 1899 this young man, who had persuaded himself that he was