Aunt Jane's Nieces on Vacation
Edith Van Dyne
Part 1 out of 4
Produced by Afra Ullah, Brett Koonce and PG Distributed Proofreaders
AUNT JANE'S NIECES
EDITH VAN DYNE
I THE HOBO AT CHAZY JUNCTION
II THE INVASION OF MILLVILLE
III THE DAWN OF A GREAT ENTERPRISE
IV THE WAY INTO PRINT
V DIVIDING THE RESPONSIBILITIES
VI MR. SKEELTY OF THE MILL
VII THE SKETCH ARTIST
VIII THE _Millville Daily Tribune_
X THURSDAY SMITH
XI THE HONER'BLE OJOY BOGLIN
XII MOLLY SIZER'S PARTY
XIII BOB WEST INTERFERES
XIV THE DANCER SIGNAL
XV A CLEVER IDEA
XVI LOCAL CONTRIBUTORS
XVII THE PENALTIES OF JOURNALISM
XVIII OPEN WARFARE
XIX A MERE MATTER OF REVENGE
XX DEFENDING THE PRESS
XXI THE COMING OF FOGERTY
XXIII THE JOURNALISTS ABDICATE
XXIV A CHEERFUL BLUNDER
THE HOBO AT CHAZY JUNCTION
Mr. Judkins, the station agent at Chazy Junction, came out of his little
house at daybreak, shivered a bit in the chill morning air and gave an
involuntary start as he saw a private car on the sidetrack. There were
two private cars, to be exact--a sleeper and a baggage car--and Mr.
Judkins knew the three o'clock train must have left them as it passed
"Ah," said he aloud; "the nabobs hev arrove."
"Who are the nabobs?" asked a quiet voice beside him.
Again Mr. Judkins started; he even stepped back a pace to get a better
view of the stranger, who had approached so stealthily through the dim
light that the agent was unaware of his existence until he spoke.
"Who be you?" he demanded, eyeing the man suspiciously.
"Never mind who I am," retorted the other in a grumpy tone; "the
original question is 'who are the nabobs?'"
"See here, young feller; this ain't no place fer tramps," observed Mr.
Judkins, frowning with evident displeasure; "Chazy Junction's got all it
kin do to support its reg'lar inhabitants. You'll hev to move on."
The stranger sat down on a baggage truck and eyed the private car
reflectively. He wore a rough gray suit, baggy and threadbare, a flannel
shirt with an old black tie carelessly knotted at the collar, a brown
felt hat with several holes in the crown, and coarse cowhide shoes that
had arrived at the last stages of usefulness. You would judge him to be
from twenty-five to thirty years of age; you would note that his face
was browned from exposure, that it was rather set and expressionless but
in no way repulsive. His eyes, dark and retrospective, were his most
redeeming feature, yet betrayed little of their owner's character. Mr.
Judkins could make nothing of the fellow, beyond the fact that he was
doubtless a "tramp" and on that account most unwelcome in this retired
Even tramps were unusual at Chazy Junction. The foothills were sparsely
settled and the inhabitants too humble to be attractive to gentlemen of
the road, while the rocky highways, tortuous and uneven, offered no
invitation to the professional pedestrian.
"You'll hev to move on!" repeated the agent, more sternly.
"I can't," replied the other with a smile. "The car I was--er--attached
to has come to a halt. The engine has left us, and--here we are, I and
"Be'n ridin' the trucks, eh?"
"No; rear platform. Very comfortable it was, and no interruptions. The
crazy old train stopped so many times during the night that I scarcely
woke up when they sidetracked us here, and the first thing I knew I was
abandoned in this wilderness. As it grew light I began to examine my
surroundings, and discovered you. Glad to meet you, sir."
"You needn't be."
"Don't begrudge me the pleasure, I implore you. I can't blame you for
being gruff and unsociable; were you otherwise you wouldn't reside
at--at--" he turned his head to read the half legible sign on the
station house, "at Chazy Junction. I'm familiar with most parts of the
United States, but Chazy Junction gets my flutters. Why, oh, why in the
world did it happen?"
Mr. Judkins scowled but made no answer. He was wise enough to understand
he was no match in conversation for this irresponsible outcast who knew
the great world as perfectly as the agent knew his junction. He turned
away and stared hard at the silent sleeper, the appearance of which was
not wholly unexpected.
"You haven't informed me who the nabobs are, nor why they choose to be
sidetracked in this forsaken stone-quarry," remarked the stranger,
eyeing the bleak hills around him in the growing light of dawn.
The agent hesitated. His first gruff resentment had been in a manner
disarmed and he dearly loved to talk, especially on so interesting a
subject as "the nabobs." He knew he could astonish the tramp, and the
temptation to do so was too strong to resist.
"It's the great John Merrick, who's got millions to burn but don't light
many bonfires," he began, not very graciously at first. "Two years ago
he bought the Cap'n Wegg farm, over by Millville, an'--"
"Where's Millville?" inquired the man.
"Seven mile back in the hills. The farm ain't nuthin' but cobblestone
an' pine woods, but--"
"How big is Millville?"
"Quite a town. Eleven stores an' houses, 'sides the mill an' a big
settlement buildin' up at Royal, where the new paper mill is jest
started. Royal's four mile up the Little Bill Hill."
"But about the nabob--Mr. Merrick, I think you called him?"
"Yes; John Merrick. He bought the Cap'n Wegg place an' spent summer
'fore last on it--him an' his three gals as is his nieces."
"Oh; three girls."
"Yes. Clever gals, too. Stirred things up some at Millville, I kin tell
you, stranger. Lib'ral an' good-natured, but able to hold their own with
the natives. We missed 'em, last year; but t'other day I seen ol' Hucks,
that keeps their house for 'em--he 'n' his wife--an' Hucks said they was
cumin' to spend this summer at the farm an' he was lookin' fer 'em any
day. The way they togged up thet farmhouse is somethin' won'erful, I'm
told. Hain't seen it, myself, but a whole carload o' furnitoor--an' then
some more--was shipped here from New York, an' Peggy McNutt, over t'
Millville, says it must 'a' cost a for-tun'."
The tramp nodded, somewhat listlessly.
"I feel quite respectable this morning, having passed the night as the
guest of a millionaire," he observed. "Mr. Merrick didn't know it, of
course, or he would have invited me inside."
"Like enough," answered the agent seriously. "The nabob's thet reckless
an' unaccountable, he's likely to do worse ner that. That's what makes
him an' his gals interestin'; nobody in quarries. How about breakfast,
"That's my business an' not yourn. My missus never feeds tramps."
"Rather ungracious to travelers, eh?"
"Ef you're a traveler, go to the hoe-tel yonder an' buy your breakfas'
like a man."
"Thank you; I may follow your advice."
The agent walked up the track and put out the semaphore lights, for the
sun was beginning to rise over the hills. By the time he came back a
colored porter stood on the platform of the private car and nodded to
"Folks up yit?" asked Judkins.
"Goin' ter feed 'em in there?"
"Not dis mohnin'. Dey'll breakfas' at de hotel. Carriage here yit?"
"Not yit. I s'pose ol' Hucks'll drive over for 'em," said the agent.
"Dey's 'spectin' some one, seh. As fer me, I gotta live heah all day,
an' it makes me sick teh think of it."
"Heh!" retorted the agent, scornfully; "you won't git sick. You're too
well paid fer that."
The porter grinned, and just then a little old gentleman with a rosy,
cheery face pushed him aside and trotted down the steps.
"Mornin', Judkins!" he cried, and shook the agent's hand. "What a
glorious sunrise, and what crisp, delicious air! Ah, but it's good to be
in old Chazy County again!"
The agent straightened up, his face wreathed with smiles, and cast an "I
told you so!" glance toward the man on the truck. But the stranger had
THE INVASION OF MILLVILLE
Over the brow of the little hill appeared a three-seated wagon, drawn by
a pair of handsome sorrels, and in a moment the equipage halted beside
"Oh, Thomas Hucks--you dear, dear Thomas!" cried a clear, eager voice,
and out from the car rushed Miss Patricia Doyle, to throw her arms about
the neck of the old, stoop-shouldered and white-haired driver, whose
face was illumined by a joyous smile.
"Glad to see ye, Miss Patsy; right glad 'ndeed, child," returned the old
man. But others were waiting to greet him; pretty Beth De Graf and
dainty Louise Merrick--not Louise "Merrick" any longer, though, but
bearing a new name she had recently acquired--and demure Mary, Patsy's
little maid and an old friend of Thomas Hucks', and Uncle John with his
merry laugh and cordial handshake and, finally, a tall and rather
dandified young man who remained an interested spectator in the
background until Mr. Merrick seized and dragged him forward.
"Here's another for you to know, Thomas," said the little millionaire.
"This is the other half of our Louise--Mr. Arthur Weldon--and by and by
you can judge whether he's the better half or not."
The aged servant, hat in hand, made a respectful bow to Mr. Weldon. His
frank eyes swept the young man from head to foot but his smile was the
same as before.
"Miss Louise is wiser ner I be," said the old fellow simply; "I'm safe
to trust to her jedgment, I guess."
There was a general laugh, at this, and they began to clamber aboard the
wagon and to stow away beneath the seats the luggage the colored porter
was bringing out.
"Stop at the Junction House, Thomas," said Mr. Merrick as they moved
"Nora has the breakfast all ready at home, sir," replied Thomas.
"Good for Nora! But we can't fast until we reach home--eight good miles
of jolting--so we'll stop at the Junction House for a glass of Mrs.
Todd's famous milk."
"Very good, sir."
"Is anyone coming for our trunks and freight? There's half a car of
truck to be carted over."
"Ned's on the way, sir; and he'll get the liveryman to help if he can't
carry it all."
The Junction House was hidden from the station by the tiny hill, as were
the half dozen other buildings tributary to Chazy Junction. As the wagon
drew up before the long piazza which extended along the front of the
little frame inn they saw a man in shabby gray seated at a small table
with some bread and a glass of milk before him. It was their
unrecognized guest of the night--the uninvited lodger on the rear
platform--but he did not raise his eyes or appear to notice the new
"Mrs. Todd! Hey, Mrs. Todd!" called Uncle John. "Anybody milked the cow
A frowsy looking woman came out, all smiles, and nodded pleasantly at
the expectant group in the wagon. Behind her loomed the tall, lean form
of Lucky Todd, the "proprietor," who was serious as a goat, which animal
he closely resembled in feature.
"Breakfas' all 'round, Mr. Merrick?" asked the woman.
"Not this time, Mrs. Todd. Nora has our breakfast waiting for us. But we
want some of your delicious milk to last us to the farm."
"Las' night's milkin's half cream by this time," she rejoined, as she
briskly reentered the house.
The man at the table held out his empty glass.
"Here; fill this up," he said to Lucky Todd.
The somber-faced proprietor turned his gaze from the Merrick group to
the stranger, eyed him pensively a moment and then faced the wagon
again. The man in gray got up, placed the empty glass in Todd's hand,
whirled him around facing the door and said sternly:
The landlord walked in like an automaton, and a suppressed giggle came
from the girls in the wagon. Uncle John was likewise amused, and despite
the unknown's frazzled apparel the little millionaire addressed him in
the same tone he would have used toward an equal.
"Don't blame you, sir. Nobody ever tasted better milk than they have at
the Junction House."
The man, who had resumed his seat, stood up, took off his hat and bowed.
But he made no reply.
Out came Mrs. Todd, accompanied by another frowsy woman. Between them
they bore a huge jug of milk, a number of thick glasses and a plate of
"The crackers come extry, Mr. Merrick," said the landlady, "but seein'
as milk's cheap I thought you might like 'em."
The landlord now came out and placed the stranger's glass, about half
filled with milk, on the table before him. The man looked at it,
frowned, and tossed off the milk in one gulp.
"More!" he said, holding out the glass.
Todd shook his head.
"Ain't no more," he declared.
His wife overheard him and pausing in her task of refilling the glasses
for the rich man's party she looked over her shoulder and said:
"Give him what he wants, Lucky."
The landlord pondered.
"Not fer ten cents, Nancy," he protested. "The feller said he wanted ten
cents wuth o' breakfas', an' by Joe he's had it."
"Milk's cheap," remarked Mrs. Todd. "It's crackers as is expensive these
days. Fill up his glass, Lucky."
"Why is your husband called 'Lucky,' Mrs. Todd?" inquired Patsy, who was
enjoying the cool, creamy milk.
"'Cause he got me to manage him, I guess," was the laughing reply. "Todd
ain't much 'count 'nless I'm on the spot to order him 'round."
The landlord came out with the glass of milk but paused before he set it
"Let's see your money," he said suspiciously.
It seemed to the girls, who were curiously watching the scene, that the
tramp flushed under his bronzed skin; but without reply he searched in
a pocket and drew out four copper cents, which he laid upon the table.
After further exploration he abstracted a nickel from another pocket and
pushed the coins toward the landlord.
"'Nother cent," said Todd.
Continued search seemed for a time hopeless, but at last, in quite an
unexpected way, the man produced the final cent and on receiving it Todd
set down the milk.
"Anything more, yer honor?" he asked sarcastically.
"Yes; you might bring me the morning paper," was the reply.
Everyone except Todd laughed frankly at this retort. Uncle John put two
silver dollars in Mrs. Todd's chubby hand and told Thomas to drive on.
"I dunno," remarked old Hucks, when they were out of earshot, "whether
that feller's jest a common tramp or a workman goin' over to the paper
mill at Royal. Jedgin' from the fact as he had money I guess he's a
"Wrong, Thomas, quite wrong," said Beth, seated just behind him. "Did
you notice his hands?"
"No, Miss Beth."
"They were not rough and the fingers were slender and delicate."
"That's the mark of a cracksman," said Arthur Weldon, with a laugh. "If
there are any safes out here that are worth cracking, I'd say look out
for the gentleman."
"His face isn't bad at all," remarked Patsy, reflectively. "Isn't there
any grade between a workman and a thief?"
"Of course," asserted Mr. Merrick, in his brisk way. "This fellow,
shabby as he looked, might be anything--from a strolling artist to a
gentleman down on his luck. But what's the news, Thomas? How are Ethel
"Mr. an' Mrs. Wegg is quite comf't'ble, sir, thank you," replied old
Hucks, with a show of eagerness. "Miss Ethel's gran'ther, ol' Will
Thompson, he's dead, you know, an' the young folks hev fixed up the
Thompson house like a palace. Guess ye'd better speak to 'em about
spendin' so much money, Mr. Merrick; I'm 'fraid they may need it some
"Don't worry. They've a fine income for life, Thomas, and there will be
plenty to leave to their children--if they have any. But tell me about
the mill at Royal. Where _is_ Royal, anyhow?"
"Four mile up the Little Bill Creek, sir, where the Royal Waterfall is.
A feller come an' looked the place over las' year an' said the pine
forest would grind up inter paper an' the waterfall would do the
grindin'. So he bought a mile o' forest an' built a mill, an' they do
say things is hummin' up to the new settlement. There's more'n two
hundred hands a-workin' there, a'ready."
"Goodness me!" cried Patsy; "this thing must have livened up sleepy old
"Not yet," said Hucks, shaking his head. "The comp'ny what owns the mill
keeps a store there for the workmen, an' none of 'em come much to
Millville. Our storekeepers is madder'n blazes about it; but fer my part
I'm glad the two places is separated."
"Why?" asked Louise.
"They're a kinder tough lot, I guess. Turnin' pine trees inter paper
mus' be a job thet takes more muscle than brains. I don't see how it's
done, at all."
"It's simple enough," said Mr. Merrick. "First the wood is ground into
pulp, and then the pulp is run through hot rollers, coming out paper.
It's a mighty interesting process, so some day we will all go to Royal
and see the paper made."
"But not just yet, Uncle," remarked Patsy. "Let's have time to settle
down on the farm and enjoy it. Oh, how glad I am to be back in this
restful, sleepy, jumping-off-place of the world again! Isn't it
delightful, Arthur Weldon? Did you ever breathe such ozony, delicious
mountain air? And do you get the fragrance of the pine forests, and
"The bumps?" asked Arthur, as the wagon gave a jolt a bit more emphatic
than usual; "yes, Patsy dear, I get them all; but I won't pass judgment
on Millville and Uncle John's farm just yet. Are we 'most there?"
"We're to have four whole months of it," sighed Beth. "That ought to
enable us to renew our youth, after the strenuous winter."
"Rubbish!" said Uncle John. "You haven't known a strenuous moment, my
dears, and you're all too young to need renewals, anyhow. But if you can
find happiness here, my girls, our old farm will become a paradise."
These three nieces of Mr. Merrick were well worth looking at. Louise,
the eldest, was now twenty--entirely too young to be a bride; but having
decided to marry Arthur Weldon, the girl would brook no interference
and, having a will of her own, overcame all opposition. Her tall,
slender form was exceedingly graceful and willowy, her personality
dainty and refined, her temperament under ordinary conditions
essentially sweet and agreeable. In crises Louise developed considerable
character, in strong contrast with her usual assumption of well-bred
composure. That the girl was insincere in little things and cultivated a
polished manner to conceal her real feelings, is undeniable; but in
spite of this she might be relied upon to prove loyal and true in
Patricia Doyle was more than two years the junior of her cousin Louise
and very unlike her. Patsy's old father, Major Gregory Doyle, said "she
wore her heart on her sleeve," and the girl was frank and outspoken to a
fault. Patsy had no "figure" to speak of, being somewhat dumpy in build,
nor were her piquant features at all beautiful. Her nose tipped at the
end, her mouth was broad and full-lipped and her complexion badly
freckled. But Patsy's hair was of that indescribable shade that hovers
between burnished gold and sunset carmine. "Fiery red" she was wont to
describe it, and most people considered it, very justly, one of her two
claims to distinction. Her other admirable feature was a pair of
magnificent deep blue eyes--merry, mischievous and scintillating as
diamonds. Few could resist those eyes, and certain it is that Patsy
Doyle was a universal favorite and won friends without a particle of
The younger of the three nieces, Elizabeth De Graf, was as beautiful a
girl as you will often discover, one of those rarely perfect creations
that excite our wonder and compel admiration--as a beautiful picture or
a bit of statuary will. Dreamy and reserved in disposition, she lacked
the graciousness of Louise and Patsy's compelling good humor; yet you
must not think her stupid or disagreeable. Her reserve was really
diffidence; her dreamy, expressionless gaze the result of a serious
nature and a thoughtful temperament. Beth was quite practical and
matter-of-fact, the reverse of Patsy's imaginative instincts or Louise's
affected indifference. Those who knew Beth De Graf best loved her
dearly, but strangers found her hard to approach and were often repulsed
by her unresponsive manner. Underneath all, the girl was a real girl,
with many splendid qualities, and Uncle John relied upon Beth's
stability more than on that of his other two nieces. Her early life had
been a stormy and unhappy one, so she was but now developing her real
nature beneath the warmth of her uncle's protecting love.
Topping the brow of a little hill the wagon came to a smooth downward
grade where the road met the quaint old bridge that spanned Little Bill
Creek, beside which stood the antiquated flour and feed mill that had
given Millville its name. The horses were able to maintain their brisk
trot across the bridge and through the main street of the town, which
was merely a cluster of unimposing frame buildings, that lined either
side of the highway for the space of an ordinary city block. Then they
were in the wilds again and rattling over another cobblestone trail.
"This 'ere country's nuth'n' but pine woods 'n' cobblestones," sighed
old Hucks, as the horses subsided to a walk. "Lor' knows what would 'a'
happened to us without the trees! They saves our grace, so's to speak."
"I think the scenery is beautiful," observed Patsy. "It's so different
from other country places."
"Not much farming around here, I imagine," said Arthur Weldon.
"More than you'd think, sir," replied Thomas. "There's certain crops as
thrives in stony land, an' a few miles north o' here, towards
Huntingdon, the soil's mighty rich 'n' productive. Things ain't never as
bad as they seem in this world, sir," he added, turning his persistently
smiling face toward the young man.
Mr. Merrick sat beside the driver on the front seat. The middle seat was
occupied by Patsy and Beth, between whom squeezed little Mary, the
maid. Louise and Arthur had the back seat.
A quarter of a mile beyond the town they came to a sort of lane running
at right angles with the turnpike, and down this lane old Hucks turned
his team. It seemed like a forbidding prospect, for ahead of them loomed
only a group of tall pines marking the edge of the forest, yet as they
came nearer and made a little bend in the road the Wegg farm suddenly
appeared in view. The house seemed so cozy and homelike, set upon its
green lawn with the tall pines for a background, that the girls, who
knew the place well, exclaimed with delight, and Arthur, who now saw it
for the first time, nodded his head approvingly.
Uncle John was all excitement over the arrival at his country home. An
old fashioned stile was set in a rail fence which separated the grounds
from the lane, and Hucks drew up the wagon so his passengers could all
alight upon the step of the stile. Patsy was out at a bound. Louise
followed more deliberately, assisted by her boy husband, and Beth came
more sedately yet. But Uncle John rode around to the barn with Thomas,
being eager to see the cows and pigs and poultry with which the
establishment was liberally stocked.
The house was of two stories, the lower being built of cobblestones and
the upper of pine slabs; but it had been artistically done and the
effect was delightful. It was a big, rambling dwelling, and Mr. Merrick
had furnished the old place in a lavish manner, so that his nieces would
lack no modern comfort when they came there to spend a summer.
On the porch stood an old woman clothed in a neat gingham dress and
wearing a white apron and cap. Her pleasant face was wreathed in smiles
as she turned it toward the laughing, chattering group that came up the
path. Patsy spied her and rushed up to give old Nora a hug and kiss, and
the other two girls saluted the blind woman with equal cordiality, for
long ago she had won the love and devotion of all three. Arthur, who had
heard of Nora, pressed her hand and told her she must accept him as
another of her children, and then she asked for Mr. Merrick and ran in
to get the breakfast served. For, although blind, old Nora was far from
being helpless, and the breakfast she had prepared in anticipation of
their arrival was as deliciously cooked as if she had been able to use
her eyes as others did.
THE DAWN OF A GREAT ENTERPRISE
The great enterprise was sprung on Mr. Merrick the very morning
following his arrival at the farm. Breakfast was over and a group had
formed upon the shady front lawn, where chairs, benches and hammocks
were scattered in profusion.
"Well, Uncle, how do you like it?" asked Louise. "Are you perfectly
comfortable and happy, now we've escaped so far from the city that its
humming life is a mere memory?"
"Happy as a clam," responded Uncle John, leaning back in his chair with
his feet on a foot rest. "If I only had the morning paper there would be
nothing else to wish for."
"The paper? That's what that queer tramp at the Junction House asked
for," remarked Beth. "The first thought of even a hobo was for a
morning paper. I wonder why men are such slaves to those gossipy
"Phoo!" cried Patsy; "we're all slaves to them. Show me a person who
doesn't read the daily journals and keep abreast of the times and I'll
show you a dummy."
"Patsy's right," remarked Arthur Weldon. "The general intelligence and
cosmopolitan knowledge of the people are best cultivated by the
newspapers. The superiority of our newspapers has been a factor in
making us the greatest nation on earth, for we are the best informed."
"My, what big words!" exclaimed Louise.
"It is quite true," said Uncle John soberly, "that I shall miss our
daily paper during our four months' retirement in these fascinating
wilds. It's the one luxury we can't enjoy in our country retreat."
"Why not?" asked Patsy, with startling abruptness, while a queer
expression--as of an inspiration--stole over her bright face.
"Chump!" said Beth, drily; "you know very well why not, Patsy Doyle.
Mooley cows and the fourth estate don't intermingle, so to speak."
"They can be made to, though," declared Patsy. "Why hasn't some one
thought of it before? Uncle John--girls!--I propose we start a daily
Louise laughed softly, Beth's lip curled and Arthur Weldon cast an
amused glance at the girl; but Uncle John stared seriously into Patsy's
questioning blue eyes.
"How?" he asked in a puzzled tone. If anything could interest this
eccentric little millionaire more than the usual trend of events it was
an original proposition of this sort. He loved to do things that other
people had not attempted, nor even thought of. He hated conversational
platitudes and established conventions, and his nieces had endeared
themselves to him more by their native originality and frank disregard
of ordinary feminine limitations than in any other way. It was generally
conceded that Patsy was his favorite because she could advance more odd
suggestions than the other girls, and this niece had a practical
aptitude for carrying out her whimsical ideas that had long since won
her uncle's respect. Not that she could outdo Mr. Merrick in
eccentricity: that was admitted to be his special province, in which he
had no rival; but the girl was so clever a confederate that she gave her
erratic uncle much happiness of the sort he most appreciated.
Therefore, this seemingly preposterous proposition to establish a daily
paper on a retired country farm did not strike the old gentleman as
utterly impossible, and anything within the bounds of possibility was
sure to meet his earnest consideration, especially when it was proposed
by one of his favorite nieces.
"How?" responded Patsy; "why, it's easy enough, Uncle. We'll buy a
press, hire a printer, and Beth and Louise will help me edit the paper.
I'm sure I can exhibit literary talents of a high order, once they are
encouraged to sprout. Louise writes lovely poetry and 'stories of human
interest,' and Beth--"
"I can't write even a good letter," asserted that young lady; "but I'd
dearly love to edit a newspaper."
"Of course," agreed Louise; "we all would. And I think we could turn
out a very creditable paper--for Millville. But wouldn't it cost a lot
"That isn't the present question," replied Uncle John. "The main thing
is, do you girls want to be tied down to such a task? Every day in the
week, all during our summer holiday--"
"Why, you've made our whole lives a holiday, Uncle John," interrupted
Patsy, "and we've been so coddled and swamped with luxuries that we are
just now in serious danger of being spoiled! You don't want three
spoiled nieces on your hands, do you? And please make allowance for our
natural impetuosity and eagerness to be up and doing. We love the farm,
but our happiness here would be doubled if we had some occupation to
keep us busy, and this philanthropic undertaking would furnish us with
no end of fun, even while we were benefiting our fellow man."
"All jabber, dear," exclaimed Beth. "I admit the fun, but where does the
philanthropy come in?"
"Don't you see?" asked Patsy. "Both Uncle John and that tramp we
encountered have met on common ground to bewail the lack of a daily
newspaper 'in our midst'--to speak in journalistic parlance. At the
paper mill at Royal are over two hundred workmen moaning in despair
while they lose all track of the world's progress. At Huntingdon, not
five miles distant, are four or five hundred people lacking all the
educational advantages of an up-to-date--or is 'down-to-date'
proper?--press. And Millville--good gracious! What would sleepy
Millville folks think of having a bright, newsy, metropolitan newspaper
left on their doorsteps every morning, or evening, as the case may be?"
"H-m," said Uncle John; "I scent a social revolution in the wilds of
"Let's start it right away!" cried Patsy. "The 'Millville Tribune.' What
do you say, girls?"
"Why 'Tribune?'" asked Louise.
"Because we three will run it, and we're a triumvirate--the future
tribunal of the people in this district."
"Very good!" said Uncle John, nodding approval. "A clever idea, Patsy."
"But it's all nonsense, sir," observed Arthur Weldon, in astonishment.
"Have you any idea of the details of this thing you are proposing?"
"None whatever," said the little millionaire. "That's the beauty of the
scheme, Arthur; it may lead us into a reg'lar complicated mix-up, and
the joy of getting untangled ought to repay us for all our bother."
"Perhaps so--if you ever untangle," said the young man, smiling at the
whimsical speech. Then he turned to his young bride. "Do you want to go
into this thing, Louise?" he asked.
"Of course I do," she promptly replied. "It's the biggest thing in the
way of a sensation that Patsy's crazy brain has ever evolved, and I'll
stand by the _Millville Tribune_ to the last. You mustn't forget,
Arthur, that I shall be able to publish all my verses and stories, which
the Century and Harpers' so heartlessly turned down."
"Oh, I'm in it too," declared Beth. "There's something so delightfully
mysterious and bewildering in the idea of our editing and printing a
daily paper here in Millville that I can hardly wait to begin the
"It's no experiment whatever," asserted Patsy boldly. "The daily
newspaper is an established factor in civilization, and 'whatever man
has done, man can do'--an adage that applies equally to girls."
"Have you any notion of the cost of an outfit such as is required to
print a modern daily?" asked Arthur.
"Oh, two or three hundred, perhaps, but--"
"You're crazy, child! That wouldn't buy the type."
"Nevertheless," began Patsy, argumentatively, but her uncle stopped her.
"You needn't figure on that," he said hastily. "The outfit shall be my
contribution to the enterprise. If you girls say you're anxious and
willing to run a newspaper, I'll agree to give you a proper start."
"Oh, thank you, Uncle!"
"Of course we're willing!"
"It is all absolutely settled, so far as we are concerned," said Patsy,
firmly. "How long will it take to get the things here, Uncle?"
Mr. Merrick considered a moment.
"There's a long-distance telephone over at Cotting's General Store, in
town," he said. "I'll drive over and get Major Doyle on the wire and
have him order the stuff sent out at once."
"Oh, no!" protested Patsy; "don't tell daddy of this plan, please. He'd
think we were all fit subjects for the lunatic asylum."
"Major Doyle wouldn't be far wrong in that conclusion," suggested
"I'd like to surprise him by sending him the first copy of the
_Millville Tribune_," added the major's daughter.
"Then," said Mr. Merrick, "I'll call up Marvin, my banker. He'll perhaps
attend to the matter more understandingly and more promptly than the
major would. Tell Hucks to harness Joe to the buggy, Patsy, and I'll go
"We'll all go!" exclaimed Beth.
"Of course," added Louise; "we are all equally interested in this
So Patsy had old Hucks hitch Joe to the surrey, and the three girls
accompanied their uncle in his drive to town, leaving Arthur Weldon
shaking his head in a deprecating way but fully realizing that no
protest of his would avail to prevent this amazing undertaking.
"That old man is as much a child as Beth or Patsy," he reflected. "It
puzzles me to explain how he made all those millions with so little
THE WAY INTO PRINT
Sam Cotting's General Store at Millville divided importance with Bob
West's hardware store but was a more popular loafing place for the
sparse population of the tiny town. The post office was located in one
corner and the telephone booth in another, and this latter institution
was regarded with much awe by the simple natives. Once in awhile some
one would telephone over to the Junction on some trivial business, but
the long-distance call was never employed except by the "nabobs"--the
local name for John Merrick and his nieces--or by the manager of the new
mill at Royal, who had extended the line to his own office in the heart
of the pine forest.
So, when Uncle John and the girls entered Cotting's store and the little
gentleman shut himself up in the telephone booth, a ripple of
excitement spread throughout the neighborhood. Skim Clark, the youthful
hope of the Widow Clark, who "run the Emporium," happened to be in the
store and he rushed out to spread the news that "the nabob's talkin' to
This information demanded immediate attention. Marshall McMahon McNutt,
familiarly known as "Peggy" McNutt--because he had once lost a foot in a
mowing machine--and who was alleged to be a real estate agent, horse
doctor, fancy poultry breeder and palmist, and who also dabbled in the
sale of subscription books, life insurance, liniment and watermelons,
quickly slid off his front porch across the way and sauntered into
Cotting's to participate in the excitement. Seth Davis, the blacksmith,
dropped his tools and hurried to the store, and the druggist three doors
away--a dapper gentleman known as Nib Corkins--hurriedly locked his door
and attended the meeting. Presently the curious group was enlarged by
the addition of Nick Thome the liveryman, Lon Taft, a carpenter and
general man-of-all-work, and Silas Caldwell the miller, the latter a
serious individual who had "jest happened to come acrost from the mill
in the nick o' time."
Sam Cotting, being himself of great local importance, had never regarded
with favor the rivalry of the nabob, but he placed stools near the
telephone booth for the three girls, who accepted the courtesy with a
graciousness that ought to have disarmed the surly storekeeper. They
could not fail to be amused at the interest they excited, and as they
personally knew every one of the town people they pleasantly nodded to
each arrival and inquired after their health and the welfare of their
families. The replies were monosyllables. Millville folks were diffident
in the presence of these city visitors and while they favored the girls
with rather embarrassing stares, their chief interest was centered on
the little man in the telephone booth, who could plainly be seen through
the glass door but might not be heard, however loudly he shouted.
"Talkin' to New Yoruk" was yet a marvelous thing to them, and much
speculation was exchanged in low tones as to the probable cost of such
a conversation as Mr. Merrick was now indulging in.
"Costs a dollar to connect, ye know," remarked Peggy McNutt to Ned Long.
"Bet a cookie he's runnin' the blame bill up to two dollars, with all
this chinnin'. Why can't th' ol' nabob write a letter, like common
folks, an' give his extry cash to the poor?"
"Meanin' you, Peggy?" asked Nib Corkins, with a chuckle.
"He might do wuss ner that," retorted Peggy. "Lor' knows I'm poor
enough. You don't ketch _me_ a-talkin' to New York at a dollar a throw,
Nib, do ye?"
Meantime Mr. Merrick had succeeded in getting Mr. Marvin, of the banking
house of Isham, Marvin & Co., on the wire.
"Do me a favor, Marvin," he said. "Hunt up the best supply house and
have them send me a complete outfit to print a daily newspaper.
Everything must be modern, you know, and don't let them leave out
anything that might come handy. Then go to Corrigan, the superintendent
of the railroad, and have him send the freight up here to Chazy
Junction by a special engine, for I don't want a moment's delay and the
regular freight takes a week or so. Charge everything to my account and
impress upon the dealer the need of haste. Understand all that, Marvin?"
"I think I do, sir," was the reply; "but that's a pretty big order, Mr.
Merrick. The outfit for a modern daily will cost a small fortune."
"Never mind; send it along."
"Very well. But you'd better give me some details. How big a newspaper
do you want to print?"
"Hold the wire and I'll find out," said Uncle John. Then he opened the
door of the booth and said: "Patsy, how big a thing do you want to
"How big? Oh, let me see. Four pages will do, won't it, Louise?"
"Plenty, I should say, for this place," answered Louise.
"And how many columns to a page?" asked Uncle John.
"Oh, six or seven. That's regular, I guess."
"Make it six," proposed Beth. "That will keep us busy enough."
"All right," said Uncle John, and closed the door again.
This conversation was of the most startling nature to the assembled
villagers, who were all trying to look unconcerned and as if "they'd
jest dropped in," but were unable to dissemble their curiosity
successfully. Of course much of this interchange of words between the
man in the booth and the girls outside was Greek to them all, but "to
print" and "columns" and "pages" could apply only to one idea, which,
while not fully grasped, was tremendously startling in its suggestion.
The Merrick party was noted for doing astonishing things in the past and
evidently, in the words of Peggy McNutt, they were "up to some blame
foolishness that'll either kill this neighborhood or make it talked
"It's too dead a'ready to kill," responded Nick Thorne gloomily. "Even
the paper mill, four mile away, ain't managed to make Millville wiggle
its big toe. Don't you worry over what the nabob'll do, Peggy; he
couldn't hurt nuthin' if he tried."
The door opened again and Mr. Merrick protruded a puzzled countenance.
"He wants to know about a stereotype plant, Patsy. What'll I tell him?"
Patsy stared. Louise and Beth shook their heads.
"If it belongs to the--the thing we want, Uncle, have 'em send it
along," said Patsy in desperation.
A few minutes later the little man again appealed to them.
"How'll we run the thing, girls; steam or electricity?"
Patsy's face was a blank. Beth giggled and Louise frowned.
"Of course it'll have to be run," suggested Mr. Merrick; "but how?
That's the question."
"I--I hadn't given that matter thought," admitted Patsy. "What do you
He considered, holding open the door while he thoughtfully regarded the
silent but interested group of villagers that eagerly hung upon every
word that passed.
"Cotting," called Mr. Merrick, "how do they run the paper mill at
"'Lectricity! 'Lectricity, sir!" answered half a dozen at once.
"They develops the power from the Royal Waterfall of the Little Bill,"
explained Cotting, with slow and pompous deliberation. "Mr. Skeelty he
tol' me they had enough 'lectric'ty to light up the whole dum country
fer ten mile in all directions, 'sides a-runnin' of the mill."
"Manager o' the mill, sir, an' part owner, he says."
"Has he a telephone?"
"Yes, Mr. Merrick."
Mr. Merrick shut the door and called up Skeelty. Five minutes of
bargaining settled the question and he then connected with Mr. Marvin
again and directed him to have the presses and machinery equipped to run
by electricity. Thinking he had now given the banker all the commissions
he could attend to with celerity, Uncle John next called up Major Doyle
and instructed his brother-in-law to send four miles of electric cable,
with fittings and transformers, and a crew of men to do the work, and
not to waste a moment's time in getting them to Millville.
"What in blazes are ye up to now, John?" inquired the major, on
receiving this order.
"None of your business, Gregory. Obey orders."
"Going to light the farm and turn night into day?" persisted the major.
"This is Patsy's secret, and I'm not going to give it away," said Mr.
Merrick. "Attend to this matter promptly, Major, and you'll see the
result when you come to us in July for your vacation."
Having attended to all the requirements of the projected _Millville
Tribune_, as he thought, Mr. Merrick called the operator for the amount
of his bill and paid it to Sam Cotting--three dollars and eighty cents.
The sum fairly made the onlookers gasp, and as the Merrick party passed
out, Silas, the miller, said solemnly:
"Don't anybody tell me talk is cheap, arter this. John Merrick may be a
millionaire, but ef he keeps this thing up long he'll be a pauper.
Thet's _my_ prophe-sigh."
"Yer off yer base, Si," said McNutt "Joe Wegg tol' me once thet the
nabob's earnin's on his money were more'n he could spend ef he lays
awake nights a-doin' it. Joe says it keeps pilin' up on him, till
sometimes it drives him nigh desp'rit. I hed an idee I'd ask him to
shuck off some of it onter me. _I_ could stan' the strain all right, an'
get plenty o' sleep too."
"Ye won't hev no call to stan' it, Peggy," pre-dcted Lon Tait.
"Milyunhairs may spend money foolish, but they don't never give none
away. I've done sev'ral odd jobs fer Mr. Merrick, but he's never give me
more'n jest wages."
"Well," said McNutt with a sigh, "while he's in easy reach there orter
be _some_ sort o' pickings fer us, an' it's our duty to git all we can
out'n him--short o' actoo-al robbery. What do ye s'pose this new deal
means, boys? Sounds like printin' somethin', don't it?"
"P'raps it's some letterheads fer the Wegg Farm," suggested Nib
Corkins. "These Merricks do everything on a big scale."
"Four pages, an' six columns to a page?" asked Cotting scornfully.
"Sounds to me more like a newspaper, folks!"
There was a moment's silence, during which they all stared at the
speaker fearfully. Then said Skim Clark, in his drawling, halting way:
"Ef thet's the case, an' there's goin' ter be a newspaper here in
Millville, we may as well give up the struggle, fer the town'll be
DIVIDING THE RESPONSIBILITY
The rest of that day and a good share of the night was devoted to an
earnest consultation concerning the proper methods of launching the
_Millville Daily Tribune_.
"We must divide the work," said Patsy, "so that all will have an equal
share of responsibility. Louise is to be the literary editor and the
society editor. That sounds like a good combination."
"There is no society here," objected Louise.
"Not as we understand the term, perhaps," replied Miss Doyle; "but every
community, however small, believes it is a social center; and so it
is--to itself. If there is a dance or a prayer meeting or a christening
or illness, it must be recorded in our local columns. If Bob West sells
a plow we've got to mention the name of the farmer who bought it; if
there's a wedding, we'll make a double-header of it; if a baby is born,
"Print its picture in the paper. Eh, Uncle John?" This from Beth.
"Of course," said Mr. Merrick. "You must print all the home news, as
well as the news of the world."
"How are you going to get the news of the world?" asked Arthur.
"That was my question."
"Private wire from New York," said Mr. Merrick, as the girls hesitated
how to meet this problem. "I'll arrange with the telegraph company
to-morrow to have an extension of the wire run over from Chazy Junction.
Then we'll hire an operator--a girl, of course--to receive the news in
the office of the paper."
"But who will send us the news?" asked Beth.
"The Associated Press, I suppose, or some news agency in New York. I'll
telegraph to-morrow to Marvin to arrange it."
Arthur whistled softly.
"This newspaper is going to cost something," he murmured. Uncle John
looked at him with a half quizzical, half amused expression.
"That's what Marvin warned me yesterday, when I ordered the equipment,"
said he. "He told me that before I got through with this deal it would
run up into the thousands. And he added that Millville wasn't worth it."
"And what did you say to that, Uncle John?" asked Beth.
"In that case, I said, I would be sure to get some pleasure and
satisfaction out of your journalistic enterprise. My last financial
statement showed a frightful condition of affairs. In spite of Major
Doyle's reckless investments of my money, and--and the little we manage
to give to deserving charities, I'm getting richer every day. When a
small leak like this newspaper project occurs, it seems that Fortune is
patting me on the back. I've no idea what a respectable newspaper will
cost, but I hope it will cost a lot, for every dollar it devours makes
my mind just that much easier."
Arthur Weldon laughed.
"In that case, sir," said he, "I can make no further protest. But I
predict you will find the bills--eh--eh--entirely satisfactory."
"You mentioned an office, just now, Uncle," observed Louise. "Must we
have a business office?"
"To be sure," Mr. Merrick replied. "We must find a proper location,
where we can install the presses and all the type and machinery that go
to making up a newspaper. I hadn't thought of this before, but it is a
serious matter, my dears. We may have to build a place."
"Oh, that would take too long, entirely," said Patsy. "Can't we put it
in the barn, Uncle?"
"What would happen to the horses and cows? No; we'll take a look over
Millville and see what we can find there."
"You won't find much," predicted Beth. "I can't think of a single
unoccupied building in the town."
"Then we'll put it in a tent," declared Patsy.
"Don't borrow trouble," advised Uncle John. "Wait till we've gone over
the ground together. Our truck will require a pretty big place, for
Marvin said one freight car wouldn't hold all the outfit. He's going to
send two cars, anyhow."
"Have him fill up the second with print paper," proposed Arthur.
"Ah; that's another thing I hadn't thought of," said Mr. Merrick. "How
big a daily edition will you print, Patsy?"
"Let's see," pondered the girl. "There are about two hundred at Royal,
say four hundred at Huntingdon, at Millville about--about--"
"Say fifteen," said Uncle John; "that's six hundred and fifteen, and--"
"And the farmers, of course. There must be at least a hundred and fifty
of 'em in the county, so that makes seven hundred and seventy-five
copies a day."
"Wait a moment!" cried Arthur, somewhat bewildered by this figuring. "Do
you suppose every inhabitant--man, woman and child--will subscribe for
"Why, no, of course not," she acknowledged frankly. "How many do you
think _will_ subscribe, Arthur? Remember, it's to be a great
"Four pages of six columns each. Plenty big enough for Millville," he
said, thoughtfully. "My advice, girls, is to print a first edition of
about four hundred copies and distribute the papers free in every house
within a radius of five or six miles from Millville. These will be
samples, and after the people have had a chance to read them you can ask
them to subscribe. By the way, what will you charge for subscription?"
"How much, Uncle?" asked Patsy, appealingly.
"A penny paper is the most popular," he said, regarding her with merry,
twinkling eyes. "Say thirty cents a month, or three-fifty a year. That's
as much as these poor people can stand."
"I think so too," replied the girl, seriously.
"But it seems to me a penny paper isn't dignified," pouted Louise. "I
had intended to print all my poems in it, and I'm sure that ought to
make it worth at least five cents a copy."
"That will make it worth more, my dear," commented Uncle John; "but
frequently one must sell property for less than it's actually worth.
You must remember these people have not been used to spending much money
on literature, and I imagine you'll have to coax them to spend thirty
cents a month. Many of the big New York papers are sold for a penny, and
without any loss of dignity, either."
"Do you think we can make it pay on that basis, Uncle?" asked Beth.
Uncle John coughed to gain time while he thought of a suitable reply.
"That, my dear," he informed his niece, "will depend upon how many
subscribers you can get. Subscribers and advertisers are necessary to
make any paper pay."
"Of course," said practical Beth. "Every merchant in Millville and
Huntingdon will naturally advertise in our paper, and we'll make the
major get us a lot from New York."
"Oh," said Patsy; "I see. So _that_ difficulty is settled."
Arthur smiled, but held his peace. Uncle John's round face was growing
merrier every minute.
"Patsy, do you think we shall make any money from this venture?" asked
"We ought to, if we put our hearts and souls into the thing," was the
reply. "But before we divide any profits we must pay back to Uncle John
the original investment."
"We don't especially care to make any profit, do we?" inquired Beth.
"It's fun for us, you know, and a--a--great educational experience,
and--and--a fine philanthropy--and all that. We don't need the money, so
if the paper pays a profit at a cent a copy we'd better cut down the
"Don't do that yet," advised Uncle John, soberly. "There will be
expenses that as yet you don't suspect, and a penny for a paper is about
as low as you can go."
"What's to be my position on the staff, Patsy?" asked Beth, turning to
"You're a good mathematician, Beth, so I propose you act as secretary
and treasurer, and keep the books."
"No; that's too mechanical; no bookkeeping for me. I want something
"Then you can be sporting editor."
"Goodness, Patsy! There will be no sporting news in Millville."
"There will be a ball game occasionally, and I saw some of the men
pitching quoits yesterday. But this is to be a newspaper reflecting the
excitement of the entire world, Beth, and all the telegraphic news of a
sporting character you must edit and arrange for our reading columns.
Oh, yes; and you'll take care of the religious items too. We must have a
Sunday Sermon, by some famous preacher, Uncle. We'll print that every
Saturday, so those who can't go to church may get as good a talk as if
they did--and perhaps a better one."
"That will be fine," he agreed. "How about murders, crimes and
"All barred. Nothing that sends a cold chill down your back will be
allowed in our paper. These people are delightfully simple; we don't
want to spoil them."
"Cut out the cold chills and you'll spoil your newspaper," suggested
Arthur. "People like to read of other folks' horrors, for it makes them
more contented with their own lot in life."
"False philosophy, sir!" cried Fatsy firmly. "You can't educate people
by retailing crimes and scandals, and the _Millville Tribune_ is going
to be as clean as a prayer book, if I'm to be managing editor."
"Is that to be your office, dear?" asked Louise.
"I think so. I've a heap of executive ability, and I'm running over with
literary--eh--eh--literary discrimination. In addition to running the
thing, I'll be the general news editor, because I'm better posted on
newspaper business than the other girls."
"How does that happen?" inquired Louise, wonderingly.
"Why, I--I _read_ the papers more than you or Beth. And I've set myself
to master every detail of the business. No more crocheting or fancy
work--no novel reading--no gossipy letter writing. From this day on we
must attend strictly to business. If we're to become journalist, girls,
we must be good ones--better than the ordinary--so that Uncle John may
point to us with pride, and the columns of the _Millville Daily Tribune_
will be quoted by the New York and Chicago press. Only in that way can
we become famous throughout the world!"
"Pass me the bonbons, dear," sighed Louise. "It's a high ambition, isn't
"A very laudable ambition," added Uncle John approvingly. "I hope my
clever nieces will be able to accomplish it."
"How about pictures?" asked Beth. "Modern newspapers are illustrated,
and have cartoons of the leading events of the day."
"Can't we buy those things somewhere?" asked Patsy, appealing to Uncle
John again. "There isn't an artist among us, of any account; and we
shall be too busy to draw pictures."
"We must hire an artist," said Mr. Merrick, adding the item to his
memoranda. "I'll speak to Marvin about it."
All these details were beginning to bewilder the embryo journalists. It
is quite possible that had not Uncle John placed his order for presses
and type so promptly the girls might have withdrawn from the
proposition, but the die was now cast and they were too brave--perhaps
too stubborn--to "back down" at this juncture.
"I realize," said Patsy, slowly and with a shake of her flaming head,
"that we have undertaken an important venture. Our new enterprise is a
most serious one, girls, for there is nothing greater or grander in our
advanced age than the daily newspaper; no power so tremendous as the
Power of the Press."
"Yes, the press must be powerful or it wouldn't print clearly," remarked
"We are to become public mentors to the simple natives of Chazy County,"
continued Patsy, warming up to her subject and speaking oratorically.
"We shall be the guiding star of the--er--er--the benighted citizens of
Millville and Huntingdon. We must lead them in politics, counsel them in
the management of their farms and educate them to the great World
Movements that are constantly occurring."
"Let's put all that rot in our prospectus," said Louise, looking at her
cousin admiringly. "Can you remember it, Patsy, or had I better write it
down now? I like that about teaching the farmers how to run their
farms; it's so practical."
"You wait," said Patsy unflinchingly. "I'll write 'em an editorial that
will make their eyes roll. But it won't do a bit of harm for you and
Beth to jot down all the brilliant thoughts you run across, for the
benefit of our subscribers."
"We haven't any subscribers yet," remarked Beth, placidly.
"I'll overcome that defect," said Uncle John. "I want to subscribe right
now for ten copies, to be mailed to friends of mine in the city who--who
need educating. I'll pay in advance and collect of my friends when I see
This was certainly encouraging and Patsy smiled benignantly.
"I'll take five more yearly subscriptions," said Arthur.
"Oh, but you're going to be on the staff!" cried Patsy.
"Certainly. I've been thinking over our organization and while it is
quite proper for three girls to run paper, there ought to be a man to
pose as the editor in chief. That'll be you, Arthur."
"But you won't print my name?"
"Oh, yes we shall. Don't groan, sir; it's no disgrace. Wait till you see
the _Millville Tribune_. Also we shall print our own names, in that case
giving credit to whom credit is due. The announcement will run something
like this: 'Arthur Weldon, General Manager and Editor in Chief; P.
Doyle, General News Editor; L. Merrick Weldon, Society and Literary
Editor; E. DeGraf, Sporting Editor, Secretary and Treasurer.' You see,
by using our initials only, no one will ever suspect we are girls."
"The Millville people may," said Arthur, slyly, "and perhaps the
disguise will be penetrated by outsiders. That will depend on the
"I don't like that combination of sporting editor and secretary and
treasurer," objected Beth. "It isn't the usual thing in journalism, I'm
sure. Suppose you call me Editor of Special Features, and let it go at
"Have we any special features?" asked Louise.
"Oh, yes," said Arthur; "there's Beth's eyebrows, Patsy's nose, and--"
"Do be sensible!" cried Patsy. "This isn't a joking matter, sir. Our
newspaper will have plenty of special features, and Beth's suggestion is
a good one. It sounds impressive. You see, Arthur, we've got to use you
as a figurehead, but so you won't loaf on your job I've decided to
appoint you Solicitor of Advertising and Subscriptions."
"Thank you, my dear," he said, grinning in an amused way.
"You and Louise, who still like to be together, can drive all over the
county getting subscriptions, and you can write letters on our new
stationery to all the big manufacturers of soaps and breakfast foods and
beauty powders and to all the correspondence schools and get their
advertisements for the _Tribune_. If you get a good many, we may have to
enlarge the paper."
"Don't worry, Miss Doyle; I'll try to keep within bounds."
And so they went on, laying plans and discussing details in such an
earnest way that Uncle John became as enthusiastic as any of them and
declared in no uncertain tone that the _Millville Daily Tribune_ was
bound to be a "howling success."
After the girls had retired for the night and the men sat smoking
together in Uncle John's own room, Arthur said:
"Tell me, sir, why you have encouraged this mad project."
The little millionaire puffed his pipe in silence a moment. Then he
"I'm educating my girls to be energetic and self-reliant. I want to
bring out and develop every spark of latent ability there is in them.
Whether the _Millville Tribune_ succeeds or fails is not important; it
will at least keep them busy for a time, along new lines, and tax their
best resources of intellect and business ability. In other words, this
experience is bound to do 'em good, and in that way I figure it will be
worth all it costs--and more. I like the originality of the idea; I'm
pleased with the difficulties I see looming ahead; I'm quite sure my
girls will rise to every occasion and prove their grit." He paused to
knock the ashes from his pipe. "I'm worth a lot of money, Arthur," he
continued, meekly, "and some day these three girls will inherit immense
fortunes. It is my duty to train them in all practical business ways to
take care of their property."
"I follow your line of reasoning, sir," observed Arthur Weldon; "but
this absurd journalistic venture is bound to result in heavy financial
"I know it, my boy. I'm sure of it. But can't you see that the lesson
they will learn will render them more cautious in making future
investments? I'm going to supply a complete newspaper outfit--to the
last detail--and give 'em a good running start. Then I shall sit back
and watch results. If they lose money on running expenses, as they
surely will, they'll first take it out of their allowances, then sell
their jewelry, and finally come to me for help. See? The lesson will be
worth while, Arthur, and aside from that--think of the fun they'll
MR. SKEELTY OF THE MILL
The next morning they drove to town again, passing slowly up the street
of the little village to examine each building that might be a possible
location for a newspaper office. Here is a map that Patsy drew of
Millville, which gives a fair idea of its arrangement:
[Illustration: Village Street]
Counting the dwellings there were exactly twelve buildings, and they all
When they reached the hardware store, opposite Cotting's, Mr. West, the
proprietor, was standing on the broad platform in front of it. In many
respects Bob West was the most important citizen of Millville. Tall and
gaunt, with great horn spectacles covering a pair of cold gray eyes, he
was usually as reserved and silent as his neighbors were confiding and
talkative. A widower of long standing, without children or near
relatives, he occupied a suite of well-appointed rooms over the hardware
store and took his meals at the hotel. Before Mr. Merrick appeared on
the scene West had been considered a very wealthy man, as it was known
he had many interests outside of his store; but compared with the
multi-millionaire old Bob had come to be regarded more modestly,
although still admitted to be the village's "warmest" citizen. He was an
authority in the town, too, and a man of real importance.
Mr. Merrick stopped his horse to speak with the hardware man, an old
"West," said he, "my girls are going to start a newspaper in Millville."
The merchant bowed gravely, perhaps to cover the trace of a smile he
was unable to repress.
"It's to be a daily paper, you know," continued Mr. Merrick, "and it
seems there's a lot of machinery in the outfit. It'll need quite a bit
of room, in other words, and we're looking for a place to install it."
West glanced along the street--up one side and down the other--and then
shook his head negatively.
"Plenty of land, but no buildings," said he. "You might buy the old mill
and turn it into a newspaper office. Caldwell isn't making much of a
living and would be glad to sell out."
"It's too dusty and floury," said Patsy. "We'd never get it clean, I'm
"What's in that shed of yours?" asked Uncle John, pointing to a long,
low building' that adjoined the hardware store.
West turned and looked at the shed reflectively.
"That is where I store my stock of farm machinery," he said. "There's
very little in there now, for it's a poor season and I didn't lay in
much of a supply. In fact, I'm pretty well cleaned out of all surplus
stock. But next spring I shall need the place again."
"Good!" cried Mr. Merrick. "That solves our problem. Has it a floor?"
"Yes; an excellent one; but only one small window."
"We can remedy that," declared Uncle John. "Here's the proposition,
West: Let us have the shed for six months, at the end of which time we
will know whether the _Millville Tribune_ is a success or not. If it is,
we'll build a fine new building for it; if it don't seem to prosper,
we'll give you back the shed. What do you say?"
West thought it over.
"There is room on the rear platform, for all the farm machinery I now
have on hand. All right, Mr. Merrick; I'll move the truck out and give
you possession. It won't make a bad newspaper office. But of course you
are to fit up the place at your own expense."
"Thank you very much, sir!" exclaimed Uncle John. "I'll set Lon Taft at
work at once. Where can he be found?"
"Playing billiards at the hotel, usually. I suppose he is there now."
"Very good; I'll hunt him up. What do you think of our newspaper scheme,
The old merchant hesitated. Then he said slowly:
"Whatever your charming and energetic nieces undertake, sir, will
doubtless be well accomplished. The typical country newspaper groans
under a load of debt and seldom gets a fair show to succeed; but in this
case there will be no lack of money, and--why, that settles the
question, I think. Money is the keystone to success."
"Mr. West," said Louise, with dignity, "we are depending chiefly on the
literary merit of our newspaper to win recognition."
"Of course; of course!" said he hastily. "Put me down as a subscriber,
please, and rely upon my support at all times. It is possible, young
ladies--nay, quite probable, I should say--that your originality and
genius will yet make Millville famous."
That speech pleased Uncle John, and as the hardware merchant bowed and
turned away, Mr. Merrick said in his cheeriest tones: "He's quite right,
my dears, and we're lucky to have found such a fine, roomy place for our
establishment. Before we go after the carpenter to fix it up I must
telephone to Marvin about the things we still need."
Over the long-distance telephone Mr. Marvin reported that he had bought
the required outfit and it was even then being loaded on the freight
"I've arranged for a special engine," he added, "and if all goes well
the freight will be on the sidetrack at Chazy Junction on Monday
morning. The dealer will send down three men to set up the presses and
get everything in running order. But he asks if you have arranged for
your workmen. How about it, Mr. Merrick? have you plenty of competent
printers and pressmen at Millville?"
"There are none at all," was the reply. "Better inquire how many we will
need, Marvin, and send them down here. And, by the way, hire women or
girls for every position they are competent to fill. This is going to
be a girls' newspaper, so we'll have as few men around as possible."
"I understand, sir."
Uncle John ordered everything he could think of and told his agent to
add whatever the supply man thought might be needed. This business being
accomplished, he found Lon Taft at the hotel and instructed the
carpenter to put rows of windows on both sides of the shed and to build
partitions for an editorial office and a business office at the front.
This was the beginning of a busy period, especially for poor Uncle John,
who had many details to attend to personally. The next morning the
electricians arrived and began stringing the power cables from the paper
mill to the newspaper office. This rendered it necessary for Mr. Merrick
to make a trip to Royal, to complete his arrangement with Mr. Skeelty,
the manager. He drove over with Arthur Weldon, in the buggy--four miles
of hill climbing, over rough cobble-stones, into the pine forest.
Arriving there, the visitors were astonished at the extent of the plant
so recently established in this practically unknown district. The great
mill, where the wood pulp was made, was a building constructed from pine
slabs and cobblestones, material gathered from the clearing in which it
stood, but it was quite substantial and roomy. Adjoining the mill was
the factory building where the pulp was rolled into print paper.
Surrounding these huge buildings were some sixty small dwellings of the
bungalow type, for the use of the workmen, built of rough boards, but
neat and uniform in appearance. Almost in the center of this group stood
the extensive storehouse from which all necessary supplies were
furnished the mill hands, the cost being deducted from their wages. The
electric power plant was a building at the edge of Royal Waterfall, the
low and persistent roar of which was scarcely drowned by the rumble of
machinery. Finally, at the edge of the clearing nearest the mills, stood
the business office, and to this place Mr. Merrick and Arthur at once
They found the office a busy place. Three or four typewriters were
clicking away, operated by sallow-faced girls, and behind a tall desk
were two bookkeepers, in one of whom Uncle John recognized--with mild
surprise--the tramp he had encountered at Chazy Junction on the morning
of his arrival. The young fellow had improved in appearance, having
discarded his frayed gray suit for one of plain brown khaki, such as
many of the workmen wore, a supply being carried by the company's store.
He was clean-shaven and trim, and a gentlemanly bearing had replaced the
careless, half defiant attitude of the former hobo. It was evident he
remembered meeting Mr. Merrick, for he smiled and returned the "nabob's"
Mr. Skeelty had a private enclosed office in a corner of the room. Being
admitted to this sanctum, the visitors found the manager to be a small,
puffy individual about forty-five years of age, with shrewd, beadlike
black eyes and an insolent assumption of super-importance. Skeelty
interrupted his task of running up columns of impressive figures to ask
his callers to be seated, and opened the interview with characteristic
"You're Merrick, eh? I remember. You want to buy power, and we have it
to sell. How much will you contract to take?"
"I don't know just how much we need," answered Uncle John. "We want
enough to run a newspaper plant at Millville, and will pay for whatever
we use. I've ordered a meter, as you asked me to do, and my men are now
stringing the cables to make the connection."
"Pah! a newspaper. How absurd," said Mr. Skeelty with scornful emphasis.
"Your name, Merrick, is not unknown to me. It stands for financial
success, I understand; but I'll bet you never made your money doing such
fool things as establishing newspapers in graveyards."
Uncle John looked at the man attentively.
"I shall refrain from criticising your conduct of this mill, Mr.
Skeelty," he quietly observed, "nor shall I dictate what you may do with
your money--provided you succeed in making any."
The manager smiled broadly, as if the retort pleased him.
"Give an' take, sir; that's my motto," he said.
"But you prefer to take?"
"I do," was the cheerful reply. "I'll take your paper, for instance--if
it isn't too high priced."
"In case it is, we will present you with a subscription," said Uncle
John. "But that reminds me: as a part of our bargain I want you to allow
my nieces, or any representative of the _Millville Tribune_, to take
subscriptions among your workmen."
Mr. Skeelty stared at him a moment. Then he laughed.
"They're mostly foreigners, Mr. Merrick, who haven't yet fully mastered
the English language. But," he added, thoughtfully, "a few among them
might subscribe, if your country sheet contains any news of interest at
all. This is rather a lonely place for my men and they get dissatisfied
at times. All workmen seem chronically dissatisfied, and their women
constantly urge them to rebellion. Already there are grumblings, and
they claim they're buried alive in this forlorn forest. Don't appreciate
the advantages of country life, you see, and I've an idea they'll begin
to desert, pretty soon. Really, a live newspaper might do them
good--especially if you print a little socialistic drivel now and then."
Again he devoted a moment to thought, and then continued: "Tell you what
I'll do, sir; I'll solicit the subscriptions myself, and deduct the
price from the men's wages, as I do the cost of their other supplies.
But the Company gets a commission for that, of course."
"It's a penny paper," said Uncle John. "The subscription is only thirty
cents a month."
"I suppose so."
"Well, I'll pay you twenty cents, and keep the balance for commission.
That's fair enough."
"Very well, Mr. Skeelty. We're after subscriptions more than money, just
now. Get all you can, at that rate."
After signing a contract for the supply of electrical power, whereby he
was outrageously robbed but the supply was guaranteed, Mr. Merrick and
Arthur returned to the farm.
"That man," said Louise's young husband, referring to the manager of the
paper mill, "is an unmitigated scoundrel, sir."
"I won't deny it," replied Mr. Merrick. "It occurs to me he is hiring
those poor workmen at low wages and making a profit on all their living
necessities, which he reserves the right of supplying from his own
store. No wonder the poor fellows get dissatisfied."
THE SKETCH ARTIST
During the next three days so many things happened at Millville that the
natives were in a panic of excitement. Not only was electricity brought
from the paper mill, but a telegraph wire was run from Chazy Junction to
Bob West's former storage shed and a telephone gang came along and
placed a private wire, with long-distance connections, in the new
newspaper office. The office itself became transformed--"as full o'
winders as a hothouse!" exclaimed Peggy McNutt, with bulging eyes--and
neat partitions were placed for the offices. There was no longer any
secret as to the plans of the "nabobs"; it was generally understood that
those terribly aggressive girls were going to inflict a daily paper on
the community. Some were glad, and some rebelled, but all were excited.
A perpetual meeting was held at Cotting's store to discuss developments,
for something startling occurred every few minutes.
"It's a outrage, this thing," commented young Skim Clark despondently.
"They're tryin' to run mother out o' business--an' she a widder with me
to look after! Most o' the business at the Emporium is done in
newspapers an' magazines an' sich; so these gals thought they'd cut
under an' take the business away from her."
"Can't the Widder Clark sell the new paper, then?" asked the blacksmith.
"I dunno. Hadn't thought o' that," said Skim. "But the price is to be
jus' one cent, an' we've ben gittin' five cents fer all the outside
papers. Where's the profit comin' from, on one cent, I'd like to know?
Why, we make two or three cents on all the five cent papers."
"As fer that," remarked the druggist, "we'll get a cheap paper--if it's
any good--an' that's somethin' to be thankful for."
"'Twon't be any good," asserted Skim. "Ma says so."
But no one except McNutt was prepared to agree with this prediction.
The extensive plans in preparation seemed to indicate that the new paper
would be fully equal to the requirements of the populace.
On Monday, when the news spread that two big freight cars had arrived at
the Junction, and Nick Thorne began working three teams to haul the
outfit to Millville, the rest of the town abandoned all business other
than watching the arrival of the drays. Workmen and machinists arrived
from the city and began unpacking and setting up the presses, type cases
and all other paraphernalia, every motion being watched by eager faces
that lined the windows. These workmen were lodged at the hotel, which
had never entertained so many guests at one time in all its past
history. The three girls, even more excited and full of awe than the
townspeople, were at the office early and late, taking note of
everything installed and getting by degrees a fair idea of the extent of
their new plaything.
"It almost takes my breath away, Uncle," said Patsy. "You've given the
_Tribune_ such a splendid start that we must hustle to make good and
prove we are worthy your generosity."
"I sat up last night and wrote a poem for the first page of the first
number," announced Louise earnestly.
"Poems don't go on the first page," observed Patsy; "but they're needed
to fill in with. What's it about, dear?"
"It's called 'Ode to a Mignonette,'" answered Louise. "It begins this
"Wee brown blossom, humble and sweet,
Content on my bosom lying,
Who would guess from your quiet dress
The beauty there is lying
Under the rust?"
"Hm," said Patsy, "I don't see as there's any beauty under the rust, at
all. There's no beauty about a mignonette, anyhow, suspected or
"She means 'fragrance,'" suggested Beth. "Change it to: 'The fragrance
there is lying under the rust.' That'll fix it all right, Louise."
"It doesn't seem right, even then," remarked Uncle John. "If the
fragrance lies under the rust, it can't be smelt, can it?"
"I did not anticipate all this criticism," said Louise, with an air of
injured dignity. "None of the big publishing houses that returned my
poems ever said anything mean about them; they merely said they were
'not available.' However, as this poem has not made a hit with the
managing editor, I'll tear it up and write another."
"Don't do that," begged Patsy. "Save it for emergencies. We've got to
fill twenty-four columns every day, remember!"
By Wednesday night the equipment was fully installed and the workmen
departed, leaving only Jim McGaffey, an experienced pressman, and
Lawrence Doane--familiarly called Larry--who was to attend to the
electrotyping and "make-up." The press was of the best modern
construction, and folded, cut and counted the papers automatically, with
a capacity for printing three thousand copies an hour.
"And at that rate," observed Patsy, "It will run off our regular edition
in eight minutes."
Aside from the newspaper press there were two "job" presses and an
assortment of type for printing anything that might be required, from a
calling card to a circus poster. A third man, who came from the city
Thursday morning, was to take charge of the job printing and assist in
the newspaper work. Three girls also arrived, pale-faced, sad-eyed
creatures, who were expert typesetters. Uncle John arranged with Mrs.
Kebble, the landlady at the hotel, to board all the "help" at moderate
It had been decided, after much consultation, to make the _Tribune_ a
morning paper. At first it was feared this would result in keeping the
girls up nights, but it was finally arranged that all the copy they
furnished would be turned in by nine o'clock, and Miss Briggs, the
telegraph editor, would attend to anything further that came in over the
wires. The advantages of a morning edition were obvious.
"You'll have all day to distribute a morning paper," Arthur pointed out,
"whereas an evening paper couldn't get to your scattered subscribers
until the next morning."
Miss Briggs, upon whom they were to rely so greatly, proved to be a
woman of tremendous energy and undoubted ability. She was thirty-five
years of age and had been engaged in newspaper work ever since she was
eighteen. Bright and cheerful, of even temper and shrewd comprehension,
Miss Briggs listened to the eager explanations of the three girls who
had undertaken this queer venture, and assured them she would assist in
making a newspaper that would be a credit to them all. She understood
clearly the conditions; that inexperience was backed by ample capital
and unpractical ideas by unlimited enthusiasm.
"This job may not last long," she told herself, "but while it does it
will be mighty amusing. I shall enjoy these weeks in a quiet country
town after the bustle of the big city."
So here were seven regular employees of the _Millville Daily Tribune_
already secured and the eighth was shortly to appear. Preparations were
well under way for a first edition on the Fourth of July and the office
was beginning to hum with work, when one afternoon a girl strolled in
and asked in a tired voice for the managing editor.
She was admitted to Patsy's private room, where Beth and Louise were
also sitting, and they looked upon their visitor in undisguised
She was young: perhaps not over twenty years of age. Her face bore marks
of considerable dissipation and there was a broad scar underneath her
right eye. Her hair was thin, straggling and tow-colored; her eyes
large, deep-set and of a faded blue. The girl's dress was as queer and
untidy as her personal appearance, for she wore a brown tailored coat, a
short skirt and long, buttoned leggings. A round cap of the same
material as her dress was set jauntily on the back of her head, and over
her shoulder was slung a fiat satchel of worn leather. There was little
that was feminine and less that was attractive about the young woman,
and Patsy eyed her with distinct disfavor.
"Tommy sent me here," said the newcomer, sinking wearily into a chair.
"I'm hired for a month, on good behavior, with a chance to stay on if I
conduct myself in a ladylike manner. I've been working on the _Herald_,
you know; but there was no end of a row last week, and they fired me
bodily. Any booze for sale in this town?"
"It is a temperance community," answered Patsy, stiffly.
"Hooray for me. There's a chance I'll keep sober. In that case you've
acquired the best sketch artist in America."
"Oh! Are you the artist, then?" asked Patsy, with doubtful intonation.
"I don't like the word. I'm not a real artist--just a cartoonist and
newspaper hack. Say, it's funny to see me in this jungle, isn't it? What
joy I'll have in astonishing the natives! I s'pose a picture's a
picture, to them, and Art an impenetrable mystery. What sort of stuff do
you want me to turn out?"
"I--I'm not sure you'll do," said Miss Doyle, desperately. "I--we--that
is--we are three quite respectable young women who have under-taken to
edit the _Millville Daily Tribune_, and the people we have secured to
assist us are all--all quite desirable, in their way. So--; ahem!--so--"
"That's all right," remarked the artist composedly. "I don't know that
I blame you. I can see very well the atmosphere is not my atmosphere.
When is the next train back to New York?"
"At four o'clock, I believe."
"I'll engage a nice upholstered seat in the smoking car. But I've
several hours to loaf, and loafing is my best stunt. Isn't this a queer
start for girls like you?" looking around the "den" critically. "I
wonder how you got the bug, and what'll come of it. It's so funny to see
a newspaper office where everything is brand new, and--eminently
respectable. Do you mind my lighting a cigarette? This sort of a deal is
quite interesting to an old-timer like me; but perhaps I owe you an
apology for intruding. I had a letter from Tommy and one from a big
banker--Marvin, I guess his name is."
She drew two letters from her satchel and tossed them on the desk before
"They're no good to me now," she added. "Where's your waste basket?"
The managing editor, feeling embarrassed by the presence of the artist,
opened the letters. The first was from Mr. Marvin, Uncle John's banker,
"After much negotiation I have secured for you the best newspaper
illustrator in New York, and a girl, too, which is an added
satisfaction. For months I have admired the cartoons signed 'Het' in the
New York papers, for they were essentially clever and droll. Miss Hewitt
is highly recommended but like most successful artists is not always to
be relied upon. I'm told if you can manage to win her confidence she
will be very loyal to you."
The other letter was from the editor of a great New York journal. "In
giving you Hetty," he said, "I am parting with one of our strongest
attractions, but in this big city the poor girl is rapidly drifting to
perdition and I want to save her, if possible, before it is too late.
She has a sweet, lovable nature, a generous heart and a keen intellect,
but these have been so degraded by drink and dissipation that you may
not readily discover them. My idea is that in a country town, away from
all disreputable companionship, the child may find herself, and come to
her own again. Be patient with her and help her all you can. Her
wonderful talent will well repay you, even if you are not interested in
saving one of God's creatures."
Silently Patsy passed the letters to Beth and Louise. After reading them
there was a new expression on the faces they turned toward Hetty Hewitt.
"Forgive me," said Patsy, abruptly. "I--I think I misjudged you. I was
wrong in saying what I did."
"No; you were quite right." She sat with downcast eyes a moment, musing
deeply. Then she looked up with a smile that quite glorified her wan
face. "I'd like to stay, you know," she said humbly. "I'm facing a
crisis, just now, and on the whole I'd rather straighten up. If you feel
like giving me a chance I--I'd like to see if I've any reserve force or
whether the decency in me has all evaporated."
"We'll try you; and I'm sure you have lots of reserve force, Hetty,"
cried Patsy, jumping up impulsively to take the artist's soiled, thin
hand in her own. "Come with me to the hotel and I'll get you a room.
Where is your baggage?"
"Didn't bring it. I wasn't sure I'd like the country, or that you'd care
to trust me. In New York they know me for what I'm worth, and I get lots
of work and good advice--mixed with curses."
"We'll send for your trunk," said Patsy, leading the girl up the street.
"No; it's in hock. But I won't need it. With no booze to buy I can
invest my earnings in wearing apparel. What a picturesque place this is!
Way back in the primitive; no hint of those namby-pamby green meadows
and set rows of shade trees that make most country towns detestable;
rocks and boulders--boulders and rocks--and the scraggly pines for
background. The wee brook has gone crazy. What do you call it?"
"Little Bill Creek."
"I'm going to stab it with my pencil. Where it bumps the rocks it's
obstinate and pig-headed; where it leaps the little shelves of slate
it's merry and playful; where it sweeps silently between the curving
banks it is sulky and resentful. The Little Bill has moods, bless its
heart! Moods betoken character."
Patsy secured for Hetty a pleasant room facing the creek.
"Where will you work, at the office or here?" she asked.
"In the open, I guess. I'll run over the telegraph news to get a subject
for the day's cartoon, and then take to the woods. Let me know what
other pictures you want and I'll do 'em on the run. I'm a beast to
Arthur Weldon, in his capacity as advertising manager, wrote to all the
national advertisers asking their patronage for the _Millville Daily
Tribune_. The letters were typewritten by the office stenographer on
newly printed letterheads that Fitzgerald, the job printer, had
prepared. Some of the advertisers were interested enough in Arthur's
novel proposition to reply with questions as to the circulation of the
new paper, where it was distributed, and the advertising rates. The
voting man answered frankly that they had 27 subscribers already and
were going to distribute 400 free copies every day, for a time, as
samples, with the hope of increasing the subscription list. "I am not
sure you will derive any benefit at all from advertising in our paper,"
he added; "but we would like to have you try it, and you can pay us
whatever you consider the results warrant."
To his astonishment the advertisements arrived, a great many from very
prominent firms, who accepted his proposal with amusement at his
originality and a desire to help the new venture along.
"Our square statement of facts has given us a good start," he told the
girls. "I'm really amazed at our success, and it's up to you to make a
paper that will circulate and make trade for these trustful
With the local merchants the results were less satisfying. Bob West put
in a card advertising his hardware business and Nib Corkins cautiously
invested a half dollar to promote his drug store and stock of tarnished
cheap jewelry; but Sam Cotting said everybody knew what he had for sale
and advertising wouldn't help him any. Arthur drove to Huntingdon with
Louise and while the society editor picked up items her husband
interviewed the merchants. The Huntingdon people were more interested in
the new paper than the Millville folk, and Arthur quoted such low prices
that several advertisements were secured. Two bright boys of this
thriving village were also employed to ride over to Millville each
morning, get a supply of _Tribunes_ and distribute a sample copy to
every house in the neighborhood.
"Fitz" set up the "ads" in impressive type and the columns of the first
edition began to fill up days before the Fourth of July arrived. Louise
had a story and two poems set in type and read over the proofs dozens of
times with much pride and satisfaction, while Beth prepared an article
on the history of baseball and the probable future of our national game.
They did not see much of their artist during the first days following
her arrival, but one afternoon she brought Patsy a sketch and asked:
"Who is this?"
Patsy glanced at it and laughed gleefully. It was Peggy McNutt, the
fish-eyed pooh-bah of Millville, who was represented sitting on his
front porch engaged in painting his wooden foot. This was one of
McNutt's recognized amusements. He kept a supply of paints of many
colors, and every few days appeared with his rudely carved wooden foot
glistening with a new coat of paint and elaborately striped. Sometimes
it would be blue with yellow stripes, then green with red stripes, and
anon a lovely pink decorated with purple. One drawback to Peggy's
delight in these transformations was the fact that it took the paint a
night and a day to dry thoroughly, and during this period of waiting he
would sit upon his porch with the wooden foot tenderly resting upon the
rail--a helpless prisoner.
"Some folks," he would say, "likes pretty neckties; an' some wears fancy
socks; but fer my part I'd ruther show a han'some foot ner anything. It
don't cost as much as wearin' socks an' neckties, an' it's more artistic
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