Aunt Jane's Nieces on Vacation
Edith Van Dyne
Part 3 out of 4
of the workmen are foreigners, and all of them rude and reckless. They
have caused our quiet, law-abiding people no end of trouble and anxiety
already. It is becoming a habit with them to haunt Millville on Saturday
nights, when they are partly intoxicated, and they've even invaded some
of the farmhouses and frightened the women and children. I've talked to
Bob West about it and he has promised to swear in Lon Taft and Seth
Davis as special constables, to preserve order; but he admits we are
quite helpless to oppose such a gang of rowdies. I've also been to see
Mr. Skeelty, to ask him to keep his men at home, but he answered gruffly
that he had no authority over his employees except during working hours,
and not much authority even then."
"Skeelty doesn't seem the right man to handle those fellows," observed
Mr. Merrick thoughtfully; "but as he owns the controlling interest in
his company, and Boglin is fully as unreasonable, we cannot possibly
oust him from control. If the men determined to blow up all Millville
with dynamite I'm sure Skeelty would not lift a finger to prevent it."
"No; he's deathly afraid of them, and that's a fact," said Joe.
They sat in silence a while.
"Your report of Skeelty's threat to cut off your electric power," said
young Wegg, "reminds me of a plan I've had in mind for some time. I find
I've too much time on my hands, Mr. Merrick, and I cannot be thoroughly
happy unless I'm occupied. Ethel's farms are let on shares and I'm a
drone in the world's busy hive. But we're anchored here at Millville, so
I've been wondering what I could do to improve the place and keep myself
busy. It has seemed to me that the same rush of water in Little Bill
Creek that runs the dynamos at Royal is in evidence--to a lesser
extent--at the old milldam. What would you think of my putting in an
electric plant at the mill, and lighting both Millville and Huntingdon,
as well as all the farmhouses?"
"Not a bad idea, Joe," said Uncle John approvingly.
"Electric lights have a civilizing influence," continued the young man.
"I'm quite sure all the farmers between here and Huntingdon would use
them, at a reasonable price. I can also run a line to Hooker's Falls,
and one to Chazy Junction. Plenty of poles can be cut from our pine
forests and the wires will be the chief expense. I may not make money,
at first, but I'll play pretty nearly even and have something to do."
"Do you think you could furnish enough power for our printing office?"
asked Mr. Merrick.
"Yes; and a dozen factories, besides. I've an idea the thing may bring
factories to Millville."
"Then get at it, Joe, and build it quick. I've a notion we shall have an
open rupture with Skeelty before long."
Joe Wegg smiled.
"You're going to accuse me, sir, of asking advice after I've made up my
mind," said he; "but the fact is, I have bought the mill of Silas
Caldwell already. He's been wanting to dispose of the property for some
"Good!" exclaimed Uncle John.
"Also I--I've ordered a dynamo and machinery. It all ought to be here in
a few days."
"Better yet!" cried Mr. Merrick. "You've relieved my mind of a great
"Now about Thursday Smith," said the young man. "Don't you think it
would be policy for you to let him go, Mr. Merrick?"
"He's a clever fellow. I can use him at my lighting plant."
"Thank you, Joe; but that wouldn't help any. As long as he's in
Millville he will be an object of vengeance to those anarchistic mill
hands. The only way to satisfy them in to drive Smith out of town,
and--I'll be hanged if I'll do it! He hasn't done anything wrong, and
I'm interested in the fellow's curious history. I've put his case in the
hands of a famous New York detective--Fogerty--with instructions to
discover who he is, and I can't let a lot of rowdies force me to abandon
the man for no reasonable cause."
"Don't blame you, sir," said Joe. "If it wasn't this Thursday Smith,
some other would incur the hatred of the Royal workmen, and as they're
disposed to terrorize us we may as well fight it out on this line as any
other. The whole county will stand by you, sir."
"The only thing I dread is possible danger to my girls."
"Keep 'em away from the office evenings," advised Joe. "During the day
they are perfectly safe. If anything happens, it will be at night, and
while the newspaper office may some time go flying skyward the girls
will run no personal danger whatever."
"Maybe so, Joe. How queer it is that such a condition should exist in
Millville--a little forgotten spot in the very heart of civilization and
the last place where one might expect excitement of this sort. But I
won't be cowed; I won't be driven or bullied by a pack of foreign
hounds, I assure you! If Skeelty can't discipline his men, I will."
In furtherance of which assertion, Mr. Merrick went to town and wired a
message to the great Fogerty.
We hear considerable of the "conventional people" of this world, but
seldom meet with them; for, as soon as we begin to know a person, we
discover peculiarities that quite remove him from the ranks of the
conventional--if such ranks exist at all. The remark of the old Scotch
divine to his good wife: "Everybody's queer but thee and me, Nancy, and
sometimes I think _thee_ a little queer," sums up human nature
admirably. We seldom recognize our own queerness, but are prone to mark
the erratic temperaments of others, and this is rather more comfortable
than to be annoyed by a consciousness of our personal deficits.
The inhabitants of a country town are so limited in their experiences
that we generally find their personal characteristics very amusing. No
amount of scholastic learning could have rendered the Millville people
sophisticated, for contact with the world and humanity is the only true
educator; but, as a matter of fact, there was little scholastic learning
among them, with one or two exceptions, and the villagers as a rule were
of limited intelligence. Every one was really a "character," and Uncle
John's nieces, who all possessed a keen sense of humor, enjoyed the
oddities of the Millvillites immensely.
A humorous situation occurred through a seemingly innocent editorial of
Beth on authorship. In the course of her remarks she said: "A prominent
author is stated to have accumulated a large fortune by writing short
stories for the newspapers and magazines. He is said to receive ten
cents a word, and this unusual price is warranted by the eager demand
for his stories, of which the reading public is very fond. However, the
unknown author does not fare so badly. The sum of from thirty to fifty
dollars usually remitted for a short story pays the beginner a better
recompense, for the actual time he is engaged upon the work, than any
other occupation he might undertake."
This was seriously considered the morning it appeared in the _Tribune_
by Peggy McNutt and Skim Clark, as they sat in the sunshine on the
former's little front porch. Peggy had read it aloud in his laborious,
halting way, and Skim listened with growing amazement.
"Thirty dollars!" he cried; "thirty to fifty fer a short story! Great
Snakes, Peggy, I'm goin' into it."
"Heh? Goin' into what?" asked Peggy, raising his eyes from the paper.
"I kin write a story," declared Skim confidently.
"Ye kin, Skim?"
"It's a cinch, Peggy. Mother keeps all the magazines an' paper novils,
an' we allus reads 'em afore we sells 'em. I've read the gol-durndest
lot o' truck ye ever heard of, so I'm posted on stories in gen'ral. I'll
write one an' sell it to the _Millville Tribune_. Do ye s'pose they'll
give me the thirty, er the fifty, Peggy?"
"Anywheres between, they says. But one feller gits ten cents a word.
"I know; but he's a big one, which I ain't--just now. I'll take even the
thirty, if I hev to."
"I would, Skim," advised Peggy, nodding approval. "But make 'em put yer
photygraf in the paper, besides. Say, it'll be a big thing fer Millville
to turn out a author. I didn't think it were in you, Skim."
"Why, it hadn't struck me afore," replied the youth, modestly. "I've ben
hankerin' to make money, without knowin' how to do it. I tell ye, Peggy,
it pays to read the newspapers. This one's give me a hint how to carve
out a future career, an' I'll write a story as'll make them girl edyturs
set up an' take notice."
"Make it someth'n' 'bout Injuns," suggested Peggy. "I ain't read a Injun
story fer years."
"No; they're out o' fashion," observed Skim loftily. "What folks want
now is a detective story. Feller sees a hole in a fence an' says, 'Ha!
there's ben a murder!' Somebody asks what makes him think so, an' the
detective feller says, takin' out a magnifie-in' glass, 'Thet hole's a
bullet-hole, an' the traces o' blood aroun' the edges shows the bullet
went through a human body afore it went through the fence.' 'Then,' says
some one, 'where's the body?' 'That,' says the detective, 'is what we
mus' diskiver.' So the story goes on to show how the body were
diskivered an' who did the murderin'."
"By Jupe, thet's great!" cried Peggy admiringly. "Skim, ye're a wonder!"
"Ma allus said I were good fer somethin', but she couldn't tell what."
"It's story-writin'," declared Peggy "Say, Skim, I put ye onter this
deal; don't I git a rake-off on thet fifty dollars?"
"Not a cent!" said Skim indignantly. "Ye didn't tell me to write a
story; I said myself as I could do it. An' I know where to use the
money, Peggy, ev'ry dollar of it, whether it's thirty er fifty."
"I writ a pome once," he said. "Wonder ef they'd pay fer a pome?"
"What were it like?" asked Skim curiously.
"It went someth'n' this way," said Peggy:
In the sky.
Wings is shy,
So I mus' cry
"Shoo!" said Skim disdainfully. "Thet ain't no real pome, Peggy."
"It makes rhymes, don't it? All but the las' line."
"Mebbe it does," replied Skim, with assumption of superior wisdom; "but
it don't mean nuth'n'."
"It would ef I got paid fer it," observed Peggy.
Skim went home to his mother's tiny "Emporium," took some note paper out
of stock, opened a new bottle of ink and sat down at the sitting room
table to write his story. The Widow Clark looked in and asked what he
meant by "squanderin' profits that way."
"Shet up, mar. Gi' me elbow room," said her dutiful son. "I'm writin' a
fifty dollar story fer the _Tribune_."
"Thirty, anyhow; mebbe fifty," replied Skim. "What's a good name fer a
The widow sat down and wiped her damp hands on her apron, looking upon
her hopeful with an expression of mingled awe and pride.
"Kin ye do it, Skim?" she asked softly.
"I s'pose I kin turn out one a day, by hard work," he said confidently.
"At thirty a day, the lowes' price, thet's a hunderd 'n' eighty a week,
seven hunderd 'n' twenty a month, or over eight thousan' dollars a year.
I got it all figgered out. It's lucky fer me the nabobs is rich, or they
couldn't stan' the strain. Now, mar, ef ye want to see yer son a nabob
hisself, some day, jes' think up a good name fer a detective."
"Sherholmes Locke," she said after some reflection.
"No; this 'ere story's got ter be original. I thought o' callin' him
Suspectin' Algernon. Detectives is allus suspectin' something."
"Algernon's high-toned," mused the widow. "Let it go at that, Skim."
All that day and far into the evening he sat at his task, pausing now
and then for inspiration, but most of the time diligently pushing his
pen over the strongly lined note paper and hopelessly straying from the
lines. Meantime, Mrs. Clark walked around on tiptoe, so as not to
disturb him, and was reluctant even to call him to his meals in the
kitchen. When Skim went to bed his story had got into an aggravating
muddle, but during the next forenoon he managed to bring it to a
"When I git used to the thing, mar," he said, "I kin do one a day, easy.
I had to be pertickler over this one, it bein' the first."
The widow read the story carefully, guessing at the words that were
"My! but it's a thriller, Skim," she said with maternal enthusiasm; "but
ye don't say why he killed the girl."
"That don't matter, so long's he did it."
"The spellin' don't allus seem quite right," she added doubtfully.
"I guess the spellin's as good as the readin'll be," he retorted, with
evident irritation. "I bet I spell as well as any o' the folks thet
takes the paper."
"And some words I can't make out."
"Oh, the edytur'll fix that. Say, air ye tryin' to queer my story, mar?
Do ye set up to know more'n I do about story writin'?"
"No," she said; "I ain't talented, Skim, an' you be."
"What I orter hev," he continued, reflectively, "is a typewriter. When I
git two er three hunderd ahead perhaps I'll buy one--secondhand."
"Kin ye buy one thet'll spell, Skim?" she asked, as she made a neat roll
of the manuscript and tied a pink hair ribbon around it.
Skim put on a collar and necktie and took his story across to the
"I got a conter-bution fer the paper," he said to Patsy, who asked him
"What, something original, Skim?" she asked in surprise.
"Ye've hit it right, Miss Doyle; it's a story."
"A detective story."
"Dear me! Then you'll have to see Mrs. Weldon, who is our literary
Louise, who was sitting close by, looked up and held out her hand for
the beribboned roll.
"I don't jes' know," remarked Skim, as he handed it across the table,
"whether it's a thirty dollar deal, er a fifty."
Having forgotten Beth's editorial, Louise did not understand this
remark, but she calmly unrolled Skim's manuscript and glanced at the
scrawled heading with an amused smile.
"'Suspecting Algernon,'" she read aloud.
"'It were a dark and teedjus night in the erly springtime while the snow
were falling soft over the moon litt lanskape.' Why, Skim, how came you
to write this?"
"It were the money," he said boldly. "I kin do one a day like this, at
thirty dollers apiece, an' never feel the wear an' tear."
Patsy giggled, but Louise stared with a wondering, puzzled expression at
the crabbed writing, the misspelled words and dreadful grammar. Indeed,
she was a little embarrassed how to handle so delicate a situation.
"I'm afraid we cannot use your story, Mr. Clark," she said gently, and
remembering the formula that usually accompanied her own rejected
manuscripts she added: "This does not necessarily imply a lack of merit
in your contribution, but is due to the fact that it is at present
unavailable for our use."
Skim stared at her in utter dismay.
"Ye mean ye won't take it?" he asked with trembling lips.
"We have so much material on hand, just now, that we cannot possibly
purchase more," she said firmly, but feeling intensely sorry for the
boy. "It may be a good story--"
"It's the bes' story I ever heard of!" declared Skim.
"But we have no place for it in the _Millville Tribune,_" she added,
handing him back the roll.
Skim was terribly disappointed. Never, for a single moment, had he
expected "sech a throwdown as this."
"Seems to me like a bunco game," he muttered savagely. "First ye say in
yer blamed ol' paper a story's wuth thirty to fifty dollars, an' then
when I bring ye a story ye won't pay a red cent fer it!"
"Stories," suggested Louise, "are of various qualities, depending on the
experience and talent of the author. An excellent story is often refused
because the periodical to which it is offered is overstocked with
similar material. Such conditions are often trying, Skim; I've had a
good many manuscripts rejected myself."
But the boy would not be conciliated.
"I'll send it to Munsey's, thet's what I'll do; an' then you'll be durn
sorry," he said, almost ready to cry.
"Do," urged Louise sweetly. "And if they print it, Mr. Clark, I'll agree
to purchase your next story for fifty dollars."
"All right; the fifty's mine. I got witnesses, mind ye!" and he flounced
out of the room like an angry schoolboy.
"Oh, Louise," exclaimed Patsy, reproachfully, "why didn't you let me
see the thing? It would have been better than a circus."
"Poor boy!" said the literary editor, with a sigh. "I didn't want to
humiliate him more than I could help. I wonder if he really will have
the audacity to send it to Munsey's?"
And now the door opened to admit Peggy McNutt, who had been watching his
chance to stump across to the printing office as soon as Skim left
there. For Peggy had reasoned, not unjustly, that if Skim Clark could
make a fortune as an author he, Marshall McMahon McNutt, had a show to
corral a few dollars in literature himself. After lying awake half the
night thinking it over, he arose this morning with the firm intention of
competing with Skim for the village laurels. He well knew he could not
write a shuddery detective story, such as Skim had outlined, but that
early poem of his, which the boy had seemed to regard so disdainfully,
was considered by Peggy a rather clever production. He repeated it over
and over to himself, dwelling joyously on its perfect rhyme, until he
was convinced it was a good poem and that Skim had enviously slandered
it. So he wrote it out in big letters on a sheet of foolscap and
determined to offer it to "them newspaper gals."
"I got a pome, Miss Patsy," he said, with unusual diffidence, for he was
by no means sure the "gals" would not agree with Skim's criticism.
"What! Another contributor?" she exclaimed playfully. "Has the whole
town suddenly turned literary, Peggy?"
"No; jest me 'n' Skim. Skim says my pome's no good; but I sort o' like
"Let me see it," said Patsy, ignoring this time the literary editor, who
was glad to be relieved of the responsibility of disappointing another
Peggy handed over the foolscap, and Patsy eagerly read the "pome."
"Listen, Louise! Listen, Beth!" she called, delightedly. "Here is
certainly a real 'pome,' and on aviation--the latest fad:
BY MARSHALL MCMAHON MCNUTT
dealer in Real Estate Spring Chickens &c.
In the sky.
Wings air shy
And so I cry
A sad goodby
A chorus of hilarious laughter followed the reading, and then Patsy
wiped her eyes and exclaimed:
"Peggy, you are not only a poet but a humorist. This is one of the best
short poems I ever read."
"It's short 'cause I run out o' rhymes," admitted Peggy.
"But it's a gem, what there is of it."
"Don't, dear," remonstrated Louise; "don't poke fun at the poor man."
"Poke fun? Why, I'm going to print that poem in the _Tribune_, as sure
as my name's Patricia Doyle! It's too good for oblivion."
"I dunno," remarked Peggy, uncertainly, "whether it's wuth fifty
dollars, er about--"
"About forty-nine less," said Patsy. "A poem of that length brings about
fifty cents in open market, but I'll be liberal. You shall have a whole
dollar--and there it is, solid cash."
"Thank ye," returned Peggy, pocketing the silver. "It ain't what I
"But what, sir?"
"But it's like findin' it, for I didn't expect nuth'n'. I wish I could
do more of 'em at the same price; but I did thet pome when I were young
an' hed more ambition. I couldn't think of another like it to save my
"I am glad of that, Peggy. One of this kind is all a paper dare print.
We mustn't get too popular, you know."
"I s'pose you'll print my name as the one what did it?" he inquired
"I shall print it just as it's written, advertisement and all."
She did, and Peggy bought two extra copies, at a cent apiece. He framed
all three and hung one in his office, one in the sitting room and a
third in his bedroom, where he could see it the first thing when he
wakened each morning. His fellow villagers were very proud of him, in
spite of the "knocking" of the Clarks. Skim was deeply mortified that
Peggy's "bum pome" had been accepted and his own masterly composition
"turned down cold." The widow backed her son and told all the neighbors
that "Peggy never hed the brains to write thet pome, an' the chances air
he stole it from the 'Malvern Weekly Journal.' Them gal edyturs wouldn't
know," she added scornfully; "they's as ignerunt as Peggy is, mostly."
A few days later McNutt entered the printing office with an air of great
"Goodness me! I hope you haven't done it again, Peggy," cried Patsy, in
"No; I got fame enough. What I want is to hev the wordin' on my business
cards changed," said he. "What'll it cost?"
"What change do you wish made?" asked Patsy, examining the sample card.
"Instead of 'Marshall McMahon McNutt, dealer in Real Estate an' Spring
Chickens,' I want to make it read: 'dealer in Real Estate, Spring
Chickens an' Poetry.' What'll it cost. Miss Patsy?"
"Nothing," she said, her eyes dancing; "We'll do that job free of
THE PENALTIES OF JOURNALISM
Two strange men appeared in Millville--keen, intelligent looking
fellows--and applied to Joe Wegg for jobs. Having received a hint from
Mr. Merrick, Joe promptly employed the strangers to prepare the old mill
for the reception of the machinery for the lighting plant, and both of
them engaged board at the hold.
"Thursday," said Hetty, as she watched the pressman that night, "there's
a New York detective here--two of them, I think."
"How do you know?"
"I recognized one of them, who used to prowl around the city looking for
suspicious characters. They say they've come to work on the new electric
plant, but I don't believe it."
Thursday worked a while in silence.
"Mr. Merrick must have sent for them," he suggested.
"Yes. I think he suspects about the bomb."
"He ought to discharge me," said Thursday.
"No; he's man enough to stand by his guns. I like Mr. Merrick. He didn't
become a millionaire without having cleverness to back him and I imagine
he is clever enough to thwart Skeelty and all his gang."
"Perhaps I ought to go of my own accord," said Thursday.
"Don't do that. When you've found a friend like Mr. Merrick, stick to
him. I imagine those detectives are here to protect you, as well as the
printing plant. It won't be so easy to set a bomb the next time."
Smith looked at her with a smile. There was a glint of admiration in his
"You're not a bad sleuth yourself, Hetty," he remarked. "No detective
could have acted more wisely and promptly than you did that night."
"It was an accidental discovery, Thursday. Sometimes I sleep."
That was a good deal of conversation for these two to indulge in. Hetty
was talkative enough, at times, and so was Thursday Smith, when the
humor seized him; but when they were together they said very little. The
artist would stroll into the pressroom after the compositors had
finished their tasks and watch the man make up the forms, lock them,
place them on the press and run off the edition. Then he would glance
over the paper while Thursday washed up and put on his coat, after which
he accompanied her to the door of her hotel and with a simple "good
night" proceeded up the street to his own lodging.
There are surprises in the newspaper business, as our girl journalists
were fast discovering. It was a real calamity when Miss Briggs, who had
been primarily responsible for getting the _Millville Daily Tribune_
into proper working order, suddenly resigned her position. They had
depended a great deal on Miss Briggs, so when the telegraph editor
informed them she was going back to New York, they were positively
bewildered by her loss. Questions elicited the fact that the woman was
nervous over the recent explosion and looked for further trouble from
the mill hands. She also suspected the two recent arrivals to be
detectives, and the town was so small and so absolutely without police
protection that she would not risk her personal safety by remaining
longer in it.
"Perhaps I'm homesick," she added. "It's dreadfully lonely here when I'm
not at work, and for that reason I've tried to keep busy most of the
time. Really, I'm astonished to think I've stood this isolation so long;
but now that my mind is made up, I'm going, and it is useless to ask me
They offered her higher wages, and Mr. Merrick himself had a long talk
with her, but all arguments were unavailing.
"What shall we do, Thursday?" asked Patsy in despair. "None of us
"Hetty Hewitt does," he suggested.
"Hetty! I'm afraid if I asked her to assume this work she also would
"No; she'll stay," he said positively.
"But she can't edit the telegraph news. Suppose she took the messages,
who would get the night news in shape for the compositors? My uncle
would not like to have me remain here until midnight, but even if he
would permit it I have not yet mastered the art of condensing the
dispatches and selecting just such items as are suitable for the
"I'll do that, Miss Doyle," promised Smith.
"I've been paying especial attention to the work of Miss Briggs, for I
had an idea she was getting uneasy. And I can take all the day messages,
too. If Hetty will look after the wires evenings I can do the rest of
the telegraph editor's work, and my own, too."
"Good gracious, Thursday!" exclaimed Patsy; "you'll be running the whole
"No; I can't do the typesetting. But if the Dwyer girls stick to their
job--and they seem quite contented here--I'll answer for the rest of the
"I'm glad the Dwyer girls seem contented," she answered; "but I'm
afraid to depend upon anyone now--except you."
He liked that compliment, but said nothing further. After consulting
with Louise and Beth, Patsy broached the subject to Hetty, and the
artist jumped at the opportunity to do something to occupy her leisure
time. The work brought her in contact with Thursday Smith more than
ever, and when Miss Briggs departed bag and baggage for New York, the
paper suffered little through her defection.
"Newspaper folk," remarked Major Doyle, who was now at the farm enjoying
his vacation and worshipping at the shrine of the managing editor in the
person of his versatile daughter, "are the most unreliable of any class
in the world. So I've often been told, and I believe it. They come and
go, by fits and starts, and it's a wonder the erratic rascals never put
a paper out of business. But they don't. You never heard of a newspaper
that failed to appear just because the mechanical force deserted and
left it in the lurch. By hook or crook the paper must be printed--and
it always is. So don't worry, mavourneen; when your sallow-faced artist
and your hobo jack-of-all-trades desert you, there'll still be a way to
keep the _Millville Tribune_ going, and therefore the world will
continue to whirl on its axis."
"I don't believe Thursday will ever desert, and Hetty likes us too well
to leave us in the lurch; but suppose those typesetters take a notion to
"Then," said matter-of-fact Beth, "we'll fill the paper with ready-made
plate stuff and telegraph for more compositors."
"That's it," agreed the major, "Those people are always to be had. But
don't worry till the time comes. As me grandfather, the commodore, once
said: 'Never cross a bridge till ye come to it.'"
"It wasn't your grandfather who originated that remark," said Uncle
"It was, sir! I defy you to prove otherwise."
"I'm not certain you ever had a grandfather; and he wasn't a commodore,
"Sir!" cried the major, glaring at his brother-in-law, "I have his
commission, somewhere--laid away."
"Never mind," said Patsy, cheerfully, for these fierce arguments between
her father and uncle--who were devotedly attached to one another--never
disturbed her in the least, "the _Tribune's_ running smoothly just now,
and the work is keeping us delightfully busy. I think that never in my
life have I enjoyed myself more than since I became a journalist."
"Is the thing paying dividends?" inquired the major.
"I've just been figuring up the last month's expenditures and receipts,"
said he. "The first month didn't count, for we were getting started."
"And what's the result?" asked the Major.
"Every paper we send out--for one cent--costs us eighty-eight cents to
There was a painful silence for a time, broken by the major's suggestive
"I hope," said the old soldier, solemnly, "that the paper's circulation
is very small."
"The smallest of any daily paper in all the civilized word, sir,"
declared the bookkeeper.
"Of course," remarked Louise, with dignity; "that is what distinguishes
it. We did not undertake this publication to make money, and it does not
cost us more than we are willing to pay for the exceptional experiences
we are gaining."
The major raised his eyebrows; Arthur whistled softly; Uncle John
smiled; but with one accord they dropped the disagreeable subject.
Joe Wegg's machinery and dynamos arrived promptly and the electric plant
was speedily installed at the old mill. So energetically had the young
man supervised his work that poles and wires were all in place as far up
the road as Thompson's Crossing and a branch line run to the Wegg Farm,
by the time the first test was made.
All Millville celebrated that first night when its streets shone
resplendent under the glare of electric lights. There was a public
bonfire near the mill, speeches were made, and afterward Mr. Merrick
served a free supper to the villagers, in the hall over Sam Cotting's
General Store, where the girls assisted in waiting upon the guests, and
everybody was happy and as hilarious as the fumes of good coffee could
More speeches were made in the hall, and one of these was by Peggy
McNutt, who had painted his wooden foot blue with red stripes in honor
of the occasion. He said, according to the report afterward printed in
"Feller Citizens! This 'ere town's bloomin' like a new mown rose. I'll
bet anybody anything there ain't another town in Ameriky what's gone
ahead like we hev in the past few months that's jest past. (Applause.)
If I do say it myself, we're the mos'--eh--the mos'--eh--progressioning
community in--in--this community. Our community hes put out a daily
paper what's a credit to--to--our community, especially the poetry;
we've got a paper mill at Royal what makes paper fer New Yoruk; an' now,
to cap the climate, our community hes lighted our community with
'lectric lights fit fer Lundon, New Yoruk, Canada or--or--or--our
community. (Laughter and cries of "Cut out the community, Peggy!") No!
Never, feller citizens, will I cut out a community what's done so much
fer our--our community. If I do say it myself, the eyes of the com--of
the world is upon us, an' I'm proud of the things that's ben did by our
feller citizens, with my full approval, in this 'ere--this
'ere--er--community!" (Cheers and a sandwich, which last offering was
received by Mr. McNutt in his back hair as he turned to descend from the
Joe Wegg is reported to have said: "Neighbors, this electric plant is no
plaything. It is going to give you all better light, at no more cost to
you than kerosene. But it will do more than that: it will run machinery
of all kinds better than steam will. You've seen electricity running the
newspaper press, and the same current has operated the big paper mills
at Royal. Here in this audience is a gentleman from Connecticut who has
accepted my invitation to look over our village with a view to building
a factory here, using the power I shall hereafter be able to furnish. I
am in correspondence with two other manufacturers, whom I hope to induce
to locate in Millville. (Enthusiastic cheers.) Job Fisher, who used to
live at Malvern, is planning to start a lumber mill, to cut the pine
just north of here; so you see we are about to arouse from our long
sleep and have a great future before us if we keep wide awake. Another
item of news merits your attention. Bartlett has sold sixty acres of his
farm to Dr. Adam Matthews, for many years a prominent physician of
Boston, who is going to build a good house on the land and become a
citizen of Millville. We've always had to go to Huntingdon for a doctor,
but now Dr. Matthews has promised to look after the health of the
Millville people, although he has retired from city practice. More
people will come here from time to time, attracted by our enterprise and
the rugged beauty of our county; real estate will become more valuable,
trade will prosper and every one of the old inhabitants will find
opportunities to make money." (Great applause.)
A general discussion followed concerning the "doin's of Joe Wegg" and
the prophecies he had made. Opinion seemed divided as to whether the
promised "boom" was desirable for Millville or not. Some of the good
villagers were averse to personal activity and feared the new order of
things might disturb their comfort; in others a mild ambition had been
awakened. But while they feasted at Mr. Merrick's expense and gravely
canvassed the situation, the newly installed electric lights suddenly
failed. Darkness fell upon the assemblage and there was an awed hush
until Sam Cotting lighted the old reliable kerosene lamps.
Joe Wegg was as much astonished as anyone.
"There has been an accident to the machinery," he said to Mr. Merrick.
"I'll run over to the mill and see what has happened."
"I will go with you," said Arthur Weldon, and Major Doyle also decided
to accompany the young man.
Uncle John and his three nieces remained in the hall, and Mr. Merrick
took occasion to make a little speech in which he explained that a hitch
in the working of the electric plant was liable to happen at first, but
after a few days the dynamos could be fully depended upon.
He had scarcely finished this explanation when Arthur came running back
into the hall in much excitement. He approached Mr. Merrick and said in
a low voice:
"The machinery is all right, sir. Some one has cut the wires."
"Cut the wires!"
"Yes. Joe thinks it's the work of the mill hands. The wires are cut in
all directions, and several of the men from Royal have been seen
loitering around by Cox and Booth, the detectives."
The girls overheard this assertion, and Patsy exclaimed:
"I'm going to the office, to make sure our power hasn't been tampered
The meeting broke up at once and the villagers trooped out to
investigate. Mr. Merrick and Arthur walked with the girls to the
printing office, where they found Thursday Smith and Hetty working by
the light of tallow candles.
"The power is off," said Smith quietly.
"Then the wire from Royal has also been cut," said Patsy. "What shall we
do? His paper must come out to-morrow morning, in spite of anything and
"Do you know who cut the wires?" inquired Thursday.
"We think the mill hands must have done it."
"Not with Skeelty's consent, I'll be bound," said Mr. Merrick. "The
manager is too fearful of a damage suit to play any tricks."
"A cut wire may be repaired," suggested the pressman, and even as he
spoke Joe Wegg came in, accompanied by the two detectives and the major.
"Cox has interviewed one of the workmen from Royal," said Joe, "and the
fellow says there's a strike at the mill and everything is closed down.
Skeelty is barricaded in his office building, wild with fear, for the
men have captured the company's store and helped themselves to the stock
of liquors. The man Cox spoke with, who seems to be a well disposed
fellow, predicts all kinds of trouble, and perhaps rioting, before this
thing is ended."
They listened to this report in amazement.
"I conjecture," said the major, "that the rascally manager has given his
men too much leeway. He's encouraged them in mischief until they've
taken the bit between their teeth and turned against even their master.
I have no personal acquaintance with the villain, but I imagine it
serves him right."
"But, dear me!" cried Patsy, wringing her hands; "what'll become of the
paper? It's nearly ten o'clock now."
Thursday turned to Joe Wegg.
"Can't we connect our supply wire with your new plant, so as to use your
power?" he asked.
"Easily. An hour's work will serve to make the connection. But unless we
watch the wire every minute those fellows will cut it again. The town's
full of the rascals, and they're not exactly sober, either."
"Watch the wire; that's the idea," said Uncle John. "It's only a short
distance to the mill, and I'm sure the villagers will volunteer for this
"Of course," said Joe. "Major Doyle, will you mount guard over my men at
the dynamos, to see they're not interfered with, while I look after the
"Sure enough; it'll remind me of the old war times," said the major
"Where is Arthur?" asked Louise.
"We left him at the mill."
They left the office at once, Joe to get his line-men at work, and the
major to join Weldon in guarding the dynamos. One of the detectives went
with Mr. Wegg, but the other, whose name was Booth, remained to guard
the printing office. Mr. Merrick now proposed that he take the girls
home. Patsy and Beth refused to leave until the emergency was past, when
the major and Arthur could drive them to the farm, but Louise was tired
and went with Uncle John in his buggy, the surrey being left for the
rest of the party to use. Arthur ran over for a moment to say everything
was quiet at the mill and he did not think there would be any further
trouble, and the report considerably reassured them.
A MERE MATTER OF REVENGE
Hetty and Thursday continued to work on the paper.
"We'll have everything ready by the time the line is connected," said
the artist. "Then it will be but a few moments' work to run off the
Patsy and Beth held candles for them, for the electric lights had been
cut off with the power; so, seeing them all busily engaged, Arthur
Weldon decided to return to the mill to join the Major. Booth sat in the
front office, near the door, and in the darkness Arthur nearly stumbled
"Going away, sir?" asked the man.
"Yes; I'll see if I can be of any assistance at the mill."
"Be careful. Those workmen have been drifting into town in squads, the
last few minutes, and most of them are reckless with drink."
"I'll watch out," said Arthur.
In the middle of the road a group of mill hands conversed excitedly in
some foreign tongue; but they paid no attention to Weldon as he passed
them. Others joined them, presently, and one began a harangue in a loud
voice, to which they listened eagerly. Then Bob West slipped across from
the hardware store and ran against the detective in the doorway of the
"Who's this?" he demanded, holding the man in a firm grip.
"Good. I could not recognize you in this darkness. Are you armed?"
"Then you and I will defend this door. Who is inside?"
"The pressman--Thursday Smith--and three of the girls."
"No; they've gone to the hotel. Miss Doyle, Miss DeGraf, and--Hetty
West went into the hack room, which was faintly illumined by candles
stuck here and there. The girls and Smith were all bending over the
imposing stone, where the forms of the paper were being made up.
"Here," said West, taking a revolver from his pocket and laying it on
the table; "I'm afraid there may be an attack on this office in a few
minutes, for I understand the language of those strikers and have been
listening to them. If any of the mill hands attempt to break into this
room don't be afraid to shoot."
"Why should the men wish to attack us, sir?" asked Patsy wonderingly.
"There are several reasons. They're after Smith, for one thing. They've
an old grudge against him to settle. Aside from the mere matter of
revenge I overheard one of them telling his friends to smash the press
and keep the paper from coming out, and Mr. Boglin would pay them well
for the job."
Smith carelessly thrust the revolver into his hip pocket.
"The paper will come out if Mr. Wegg gives us the power," he said.
"Can you let me have a revolver, Mr. West?" asked Hetty.
"Could you use it?"
"I think so."
He looked at her a moment and then took a second revolver from his
"I've robbed my hardware stock," he said with a smile. "But I advise you
girls to keep your hands off the thing unless a crisis arises. I don't
imagine the gang will get past me and Booth at the entrance, but if any
stragglers come your way Smith has authority to drive them back. I'm
justice of the peace, and I hereby appoint you all special officers of
He said this lightly, fearing to alarm the girls unnecessarily, and then
passed through the doorway and joined Booth at the front.
The telephone rang and Patsy answered it.
"How soon will the forms be ready?" asked Arthur's voice.
"In ten minutes--perhaps five," she answered.
"We'll have the power on in ten minutes more. Tell Smith not to lose an
instant's time in running off the edition, for we don't know how long we
can keep the line open. The strikers are threatening us, even now."
"All right," called Patsy; "just give us the power for a few minutes,
and we'll be through for to-night."
She went back to Thursday and reported.
"There may be a few typographical errors, and I'm afraid it's a bad
make-up," he remarked; "but I'll have the thing on the press in five
With mallet and shooting-stick he tightened the quoins, then lifted the
heavy iron frames filled with type and slid them onto the bed of the
press. They gave him all the light the flickering candles afforded as he
adjusted the machinery, and all were bending over the press when a low,
distant growl was heard, rising slowly to a frenzied shout. A revolver
popped--another--followed by wild cries from the street.
The girls grew a little pale, but Thursday Smith put his hand on the
lever of the press and said:
"All right. The moment they give us the current we're ready to run."
Patsy straightened up with a sigh of relief, then gave a low cry as the
screens of the two windows of the pressroom were smashed in and through
the openings men began to tumble into the room. At once Hetty confronted
them with leveled revolver and the sight caused them to hesitate.
"Out o' the way, you women!" called a burly fellow who wore a green
sweater and an oilskin hat; "we don't want to hurt you if we can help.
There's the one we're after!" He pointed a finger at Thursday Smith.
"You can't have him," retorted Beth, half shielded behind the militant
Hetty. "This is private property, and you're trespassing. Unless you go
away at once you will suffer the consequences."
This defense seemed to surprise them, for they fell back a little toward
the windows. At that moment, with a low rumble, the press started,
moving slowly at first but gradually acquiring speed. The sight aroused
the resentment of the invaders.
"Stop that press!" yelled their spokesman excitedly. "Stop it, Smith, or
we'll put both you and the machine out of business."
Thursday paid no attention to anything but his press. The huge cylinder
of white paper was unrolling, passing under the platen and emerging at
the other end as neatly folded copies of the Millville Daily Tribune.
With a roar of rage the big fellow leaped forward, but at the action a
shot rang out and he fell headlong almost at the foot of the press.
Beth and Patsy turned their heads an instant to glance at Hetty. The
artist's face was white and set; her eyes sparkled brilliantly; she held
the still smoking weapon in readiness for another shot.
But the men were awed by the fall of their leader. They watched Beth
leap to the platform beside Thursday Smith and draw his revolver from
his pocket, where he had placed it. Hetty's courage had inspired her,
and Beth had handled pistols before. The men read the determined eyes
fixed upon them; they noted Smith's indifference to their threats. The
defenders of the press and pressman were only girls, but they were girls
evidently not afraid to shoot.
No advance was made and the tableau was dramatic. Smith watched his
press with undivided attention and it clattered away at full speed until
the frail building shook with its powerful, steady motion. Then suddenly
it began to slow down. The power was off, and the machine came to an
Thursday stepped from the platform and looked at the index of the
"Four hundred and sixty-three. Twenty-two short, Miss Doyle," he
"That'll do, Thursday."
He came to her side, then, facing the sullen, glowering group of mill
"Boys," said he, "it won't do you any good to interfere with us
to-night. The paper for to-morrow morning is already printed, and Ojoy
Boglin isn't a big enough man to stop it, now or ever. Better go back
to Royal and settle your troubles with Skeelty, for if you stay here the
citizens of Millville are in the mood to shoot you down like dogs."
They stood undecided a moment, but the argument had evidently struck
"What's the matter with Harris?" asked one, pointing to the motionless
form of the man in the green sweater. "Is he dead?"
"I suppose so," answered Thursday coolly; but he stooped to examine
Hetty's victim, rolling him over so that his face was upward. "No; he
isn't hurt much, I'm sorry to say. The bullet glanced off his forehead
and stunned him, that's all. Take the brute, if you want him, and go."
They obeyed in silence. Several stepped forward and raised the
unconscious Harris, bearing him to the window, where they passed him to
those without. Then they also retreated through the windows and the room
Only then did Hetty and Beth venture to lower their weapons.
"Oh, dear!" cried Patsy, in a low, agitated voice; "I'm so glad you
didn't kill him, Hetty."
"I'm not," returned the artist doggedly. "He deserved death, at the
least, and by killing him I'd have cheated the gallows."
Then she glanced around at the horrified faces of her friends and burst
DEFENDING THE PRESS
In the front room Bob West and the detective were having a busy time. At
the first rush they each fired a shot over the heads of the mob, merely
to let them know the place was guarded. In the darkness it was
impossible for the strikers to tell how many armed men confronted them,
so they fell back a little, but formed a cordon around the entire
building. From the printing office to the old mill was a distance of
only a few hundred feet, and every able-bodied inhabitant of Millville
except Peggy McNutt and Sara Cotting--who had discreetly disappeared at
the first sign of danger--was assisting Joe Wegg to protect the electric
cable he was trying to connect. The men from Royal were scattered all
along the line, peering through the dim light to discover a vulnerable
point of attack but deterred from interfering by the determination of
the stalwart defenders. Mobs are invariably cowardly, and this one,
composed of the lowest strata of mixed American and foreign laborers,
was no exception to the general rule. However, when word was finally
passed along from the mill that the dynamo was running and supplying
power to the printing press, a howl of rage went up and a sudden rush
was made for the line, the attack concentrating at one point.
The defenders promptly grouped themselves in front of the threatened
pole and Seth Davis, the blacksmith, wielding a heavy sledge hammer, did
valiant service, clearing a space around him with little difficulty. Joe
Wegg, Arthur Weldon, Cox the detective, Lon Taft, Nick Thome and even
little Skim Clark were all in the melee, fighting desperately for time
to enable Thursday Smith to work his press, using whatever cudgels they
had been able to pick up to keep the assailants from the pole. Slowly,
however, they were forced back by superior numbers until finally one of
the mill hands clambered up the pole and cut the wire.
"Never mind," said Arthur to Joe, as they retreated fighting toward the
printing office; "I think they've had time to run off the edition,
provided Smith was ready with the forms."
The mob was by this time in an ugly mood and the nearer Joe and Arthur
edged toward the printing office the more numerous their enemies became.
The Millville people were getting rather the worst of the scrimmage when
out rushed Thursday Smith, swinging a stout iron bar he had taken from
the press, and with this terrible weapon he struck out so vigorously
that the diversion in their favor enabled the retreating villagers to
gain the office, where Booth and Bob West fired several shots that
effectually checked the mob.
"Stand back, ye villains!" cried a loud voice, as Major Doyle marched
calmly down the road from the mill; "how dare ye interfere with a
One of the leaders confronted him menacingly. The major slapped his face
with the flat of his hand and then kicked the fellow in the shins.
"Didn't I say to get out o' my way?" he roared, and to the surprise of
everyone--even the major, perhaps--they fell hack and allowed him to
walk leisurely into the printing office.
Having succeeded in their primary attempt to cut the wire, and finding
the determined band of defenders more dangerous than they had thought,
the workmen retreated in the direction of Royal, where there was more to
be gained by rioting than in Millville.
When at last the town was clear of them, Arthur, who was considerably
battered and bruised but pleased with the triumphant ending of the
adventure, drove the girls and the major to the farm. They urged Hetty
to accompany them, but she declared she was not a bit nervous and
preferred to sleep at the hotel.
"I think the trouble is over for to-night," said West, and all agreed
with him. Cox and Booth decided to sleep in the printing office, and
after the girls had driven away with their escorts and the villagers had
dispersed to their homes, Thursday put on his coat and walked to the
hotel with Hetty.
"All that row was about me," he remarked disconsolately.
"But they didn't get you," said Hetty, triumph in her voice.
He did not mention her bravery, or the loyal support of Beth and Patsy,
but after a moment he added: "I'm not worth defending."
"How do you know?" asked Hetty. "It occurs to me, Mr. Smith, that you
are as much a stranger to yourself as to us."
"That is true."
"And in emergencies you are not averse to defending others. Of course
Miss DeGraf and her cousin wanted the paper printed, at all hazards. I
don't blame them for that; but I--"
"You simply stood by a comrade. Thank you, Hetty."
"Good night, Thursday."
"Will you be able to sleep to-night?"
"I'm going straight to bed. The rumpus has quieted my nerves."
"Good night, then."
In the early morning Mr. Merrick was awakened by a red glare that
flooded his bedroom. Going to the window he found the sky at the north
full of flame. He threw on his bathrobe and went to the door of Arthur
Weldon's room, arousing the young man with a rap on the panels.
"The settlement at Royal is burning," he reported.
Arthur came out, very weary and drowsy, for he had not been asleep long
and the strenuous work of the night had tired him.
"Let it burn," he said, glancing through a window at the lurid light of
the conflagration. "We couldn't be of any use going over there and,
after all, it isn't our affair to relieve Skeelty."
Then he told Uncle John of the riot in the village, for the old
gentleman had been sound asleep when the party returned to the farm.
"The blaze is the work of those crazy strikers, I suppose," said Mr.
Merrick. "It looks from here as if they had set fire to their own
homes, as well as to the paper mills and office and store buildings. It
will be fortunate if the forest does not also burn."
"Don't worry, sir," advised Arthur. "We'll discover the extent of the
fire by daylight. For my part, I'm going back to bed, and it will be
well for you to follow my example."
"Another item for the paper," whispered a soft voice, and there was
Patsy beside them at the window.
Mr. Merrick sighed.
"I had no idea so much excitement could possibly happen at Millville,"
said he. "If this keeps on we'll have to go back to New York for quiet.
But let us get to bed, my dear, for to-morrow is likely to be a busy day
for us all."
THE COMING OF FOGERTY
The homeless mill hands flocked to Chazy Junction next day, from whence
a freight train distributed them over other parts of the country. The
clearing at Royal Falls was now a heap of charred embers, for every one
of the cheap, rough-board buildings had been consumed by the fire.
Skeelty had watched the destruction of his plant with feelings of
mingled glee and disgust. He was insured against loss, and his rash
workmen, who had turned upon him so unexpectedly, had accidentally
settled the strike and their own future by starting the fire during
their drunken orgies. There being no longer a mill to employ them they
went elsewhere for work, rather glad of the change and regretting
nothing. As for the manager, he stood to lose temporary profits but was
not wholly displeased by the catastrophe. Transportation of his
manufactured products had been so irregular and undefendable that even
while he watched the blaze he determined to rebuild his plant nearer the
main line of a railway, for many such locations could be found where the
pine was as plentiful as here.
At dawn he entered the hotel at Millville with his arms full of books
and papers which he had succeeded in saving from the fire, and securing
a room went directly to bed. It was afternoon when he awoke and after
obtaining a meal he strolled out into the village and entered the
"Here's an item for your paper," he said to Patsy, who was busy at her
desk. "The mills at Royal will never be rebuilt, and Millville has lost
the only chance it ever had of becoming a manufacturing center. The
whole settlement, which belonged to Boglin and myself, went up in smoke,
and I'm willing to let it go at that. I shall collect the insurance,
make myself good, and if anything's left over, that fool Boglin is
welcome to it. I admit I made a mistake in ever allowing him to induce
me to build at Royal. Boglin owned the land and I used his money, so I
gave up to him; but I'm through with the _honer'ble_ ass now. Put it all
in the paper; it'll make him feel good. You might add that I'm taking
the evening train for New York, shaking the dust of your miserable
village from my feet for good and all."
"Thank you, sir," said Patsy, brightly; "the Millville people will
appreciate their good luck, I'm sure."
Skeelty hung around the town for awhile, sneering at the new electric
light plant and insolently railing at any of the natives who would
converse with him. Then he hired Nick Thorne to drive him over to Chazy
Junction, and that was the last Millville ever saw of him.
During this day Joe Wegg's men succeeded in repairing all the wires
which had been tampered with and in making a proper and permanent
connection of the cable to the printing office. That evening the village
was again brilliantly lighted and thereafter the big dynamos whirled
peacefully and without interruption.
The girls had a busy day, as Uncle John had predicted, for all the
exciting incidents of the evening and night before had to be written up
and the next day's paper teemed with "news" of a character to interest
all its readers. Beth's editorial declared the neighborhood well rid of
the paper mill, which had been of little advantage but had caused no end
of annoyance because of the rough and mischievous character of the
workmen employed. In this statement nearly everyone agreed with her.
Several had been wounded in the riot of the eventful evening, but none
seriously injured. The workmen took away their damaged comrades and Lon
Taft drove over to Huntingdon and had his head sewed up by the doctor.
Other villagers suffered mere bruises, but all who engaged in the fight
posed as heroes and even Peggy McNutt, who figured as "not present,"
told marvelous tales of how he had worsted seven mill hands in a
stand-up fight, using only his invincible fists.
The following forenoon the liveryman at the Junction brought to
Millville a passenger who had arrived by the morning train--a quiet,
boyish-looking man with a shock of brick-red hair and a thin, freckled
face. He was driven directly to the Merrick farm, where Uncle John
received him cordially, but with surprise, and at once favored the new
arrival with a long interview in his private room.
The girls, who had not yet gone to the office, awaited somewhat
impatiently the result of this conference, for they already knew the
red-headed youth to be the great Fogerty--admitted by even his would-be
rivals, the king of New York detectives. Also they knew that Uncle John
had employed him some time ago to ferret out the mystery of the identity
of Thursday Smith, and the fact of Fogerty's presence indicated he had
something to report.
However, when Mr. Merrick came out of the private room his usually
cheery countenance wore a troubled expression. Fogerty was invariably
placid and inscrutable, so no explanation could be gleaned from his
"Ready for town, my dears?" asked Uncle John.
"Yes; the surrey is waiting," answered Louise.
"Then go along, and Fogerty and I will join you at the office presently.
I want to confer with the major and Arthur before--before taking any
"What's the news, Uncle?" demanded Patsy, impatiently.
"You shall know in good time."
"Who is Thursday Smith?"
"By and by, dear. Don't bother me now. But that reminds me; you are to
say nothing to--to--Thursday about Mr. Fogerty's arrival. Treat
him--Thursday, you know--just as you have always done, for the present,
at least. Whatever we determine on in regard to this man, during our
conference, we must not forget that he has acted most gallantly since he
came to Millville. We really owe him a debt of gratitude."
With this somewhat incomprehensible statement the girls were forced to
content themselves. Feeling quite helpless, they drove to the office
and left the men to settle the fate of Thursday Smith.
The "pressman" was now the man-of-all-work about the modest but trim
little publishing plant. He attended to whatever job printing came in,
made the etchings from Hetty's drawings, cast the stereotypes, made up
the forms and operated the press. But aside from this mechanical work
Smith took the telegraphic news received by Hetty, edited and condensed
it and wrote the black-letter headings over the various items. All this,
with a general supervision over the girl compositors, kept the man busy
from daybreak to midnight.
In spite of this, the Tribune was essentially a "girls' paper," since
Thursday Smith was the only man employed on it--not counting the "dummy"
editor, Arthur Weldon, who did nothing but keep the books, and found
this not an arduous task. Hetty, at Miss Briggs' desk, attended the
telegraph instrument and long-distance telephone, receiving news over
both wires, and still found time to draw her daily cartoons and
additional humorous sketches which she "worked in" whenever the mood
seized her. The typesetting was done by the Dwyer sisters--a colorless
pair but quite reliable--while the reportorial and editorial work was
divided between Louise, Beth and Patsy, none of whom shirked a single
duty. Indeed, they had come to love this work dearly and were
enthusiastic over the _Tribune_, which they fondly believed was being
watched with envious admiration by all the journalistic world.
This belief was not wholly due to egotism. Their "exchanges," both city
and country, had shown considerable interest in the "Millville
Experiment," as they called it, and only a few days before the leading
journal of a good-sized city had commented at length on the "girls'
newspaper" and, after indulging in some humorous remarks, concluded
quite seriously with the statement that "its evident sincerity, clean
contents and typographical neatness render the _Millville Daily Tribune_
worthy a better setting than the somnolent country village whose census
is too low to be officially recorded."
"But that's all right," said Patsy, smiling at the praise; "we'd never
have dared to start a newspaper anywhere else, because a journal that
will do for Millville might not make a hit if it bumped against
"We were woefully ignorant when we began, a few weeks ago," commented
Beth, glancing with pride at her latest editorial, which she thought had
caught the oracular tone of the big city newspapers.
"And we're not expert journalists, even yet," added Louise, with a sigh.
"We've improved, to be sure; but I imagine there is still lots of room
"One trouble," said Patsy, "is that every inhabitant of Millville wants
to see his or her name in print every day, whether he or she has done
anything worthy of publication or not. If the name isn't printed, we've
made an enemy; and, if it is, the paper is sure to suffer more or less
"That is quite true, my dear," responded Louise, the reporter. "I've
said everything, about every one of them, that has ever happened, or
threatened to happen, since we started the paper, and it is driving me
crazy to discover anything more about these stupid natives that will do
Hetty had overheard this conversation and now looked up with a smile.
"Has your 'local happenings' column been prepared for to-morrow, Mrs.
Weldon?" she inquired.
"No; I'm about to start out to unearth some items," replied Louise,
"Let me do it for you. I've an hour or so to spare and I won't need to
leave my desk," suggested the artist.
"It is my duty, you know, Hetty, and I've no right to evade it."
"Evade it for to-day. Go home and rest. I'll do your column for
to-morrow, and after the vacation you can tackle the thrilling
situations with better courage."
"Thank you, Hetty. But I won't go home. I'll wait here to see Fogerty."
"Fogerty!" exclaimed the artist, with a start of surprise. "Do you mean
"Yes," said Louise, regretting she had inadvertently mentioned the
"But what is there now to detect?" asked Hetty suspiciously. "Our
troubles seem ended with the burning of the mill and the flitting of
Skeelty and his workmen."
Louise hardly knew how to reply; but Patsy, who trusted the queer girl
artist, said quite frankly:
"There remains the mystery of Thursday Smith to fathom, you know."
Hetty flushed and an indignant look swept over her face.
"What right has anyone to solve that mystery?" she asked defiantly.
"Isn't that Thursday Smith's own business?"
"Perhaps," returned Patsy, somewhat amused; "but Smith hasn't been able
to discover who he is--or was, rather--and seems really anxious to
Hetty bent over her desk for a time. Then she looked up and her thin
features were white and drawn with anxiety.
"When you discover who Thursday Smith is," said she, "the Millville
Tribune will lose its right bower."
"Before his accident, or whatever it was that made him lose his memory,
he was an unusual man, a man of exceptional ability. You know that."
"We are all inclined to admit it," answered Patsy. "But what then?"
"Men of ability," declared Hetty slowly, "are of two classes: the very
successful, who attain high and honorable positions, or the clever
scoundrels who fasten themselves like leeches on humanity and bleed
their victims with heartless unconcern. What will you gain if you unmask
the past of Thursday Smith? You uncover a rogue or a man of affairs, and
in either case you will lose your pressman. Better leave the curtain
drawn, Miss Doyle, and accept Thursday Smith as he is."
There was so much good sense in this reasoning that all three girls were
impressed and began to regret that Uncle John had called Fogerty to
untangle the skein. But it was now too late for such repentance and,
after all, they were curious to discover who their remarkable employee
Even while the awkward silence that had fallen upon the group of girls
continued, the door opened to admit Uncle John, Fogerty, Major Doyle and
Arthur Weldon. Except for the detective they were stern-faced and
Quintus Fogerty was as unlike the typical detective as one could
imagine. Small in size, slight and boyish, his years could not readily
be determined by the ordinary observer. His face was deeply furrowed and
lined, yet a few paces away it seemed the face of a boy of eighteen. His
cold gray eyes were persistently staring but conveyed no inkling of his
thoughts. His brick-red hair was as unkempt as if it had never known a
comb, yet the attire of the great detective was as fastidiously neat as
if he had dressed for an important social function. Taken altogether
there was something mistrustful and uncanny about Fogerty's looks, and
his habit of eternally puffing cigarettes rendered his companionship
unpleasant. Yet of the man's professional ability there was no doubt;
Mr. Merrick and Arthur Weldon had had occasion to employ him before,
with results that justified their faith in him.
The detective greeted the young ladies with polite bows, supplemented by
an aimless compliment on the neatness of their office.
"Never would have recognized it as a newspaper sanctum," said he in his
thin, piping voice. "No litter, no stale pipes lying about, no cursing
and quarreling, no excitement whatever. The editorial room is the index
to the workshop; I'll see if the mechanical department is kept as
He opened the door to the back room, passed through and closed it softly
behind him. Mr. Merrick made a dive for the door and followed Fogerty.
"What's the verdict, Arthur?" asked Louise curiously.
"Why, I--I believe the verdict isn't rendered yet," he hastily replied,
and followed Mr. Merrick into the pressroom.
"Now, then," cried Patsy, grabbing the major firmly, "you'll not stir a
step, sir, until you tell us the news!"
"What news, Patricia?" Inquired the old gentleman blandly.
"Who was Thursday Smith?"
"The identical individual he is now," said the Major.
"Don't prevaricate, sir! Who was he? What did he do? What is his right
"Is it because you are especially interested in this man, my dear, or
are ye simply consumed with feminine curiosity?"
"Be good, Daddy! Tell us all about it," said Patsy coaxingly.
"The man Thursday, then, was likely enough the brother of Robinson
Crusoe's man Friday."
"Major, you're trifling!"
"Or mayhap an ex-president of the United States, or forby the senator
from Oklahoma. Belike he was once minister to Borneo, an' came home in a
hurry an' forgot who he was. But John Merrick will be wanting me."
He escaped and opened the door. Then, with his hand on the knob, he
turned and added:
"Why don't ye come in, me journalistic investigators, and see the fun
for yerselves? I suspect there's an item in store for ye."
Then he went in, and they took the hint and entered the pressroom in a
fluttering group. Fogerty stood with his hands in his pockets intently
watching the Dwyer girls set type, while at his elbow Mr. Merrick was
explaining in a casual voice how many "m's" were required to make a
newspaper column. In another part of the long room Arthur Weldon was
leaning over a table containing the half-empty forms, as if critically
examining them. Smith, arrayed in overalls and jumper, was cleaning and
oiling the big press.
"A daily newspaper," said the major, loudly, as he held up a warning
finger to the bevy of nieces, behind whom Hetty's pale face appeared,
"means a daily grind for all concerned in it. There's no vacation for
the paper, no hyphens, no skipping a day or two if it has a bad cold;
it's the tyrant that leads its slaves by the nose, metaphorically, and
has no conscience. Just as regularly as the world rolls 'round the press
rolls out the newspaper, and human life or death makes little
difference to either of the revolutionists."
While he spoke the Major led the way across the room to the stereotyping
plant, which brought his party to a position near the press. Smith
glanced at them and went on with his work. It was not unusual to have
the pressroom thus invaded.
Presently Fogerty strolled over, smoking his eternal cigarette, and
stood watching the pressman, as if interested in the oiling of the
complicated machine. Smith, feeling himself under observation, glanced
up again in an unconcerned way, and as he faced the detective Fogerty
gave a cleverly assumed start and exclaimed:
Instantly Thursday Smith straightened up and looked at the man
questioningly. Fogerty stretched out his hand and said, as if in wonder:
"Why, Melville, old man, what are you doing here? We wondered what had
become of you, all these months. Shake hands, my boy! I'm glad I've
Smith leaned against the press and stared at him with dilated eyes.
Everyone in the room was regarding the scene with intense but repressed
"What's wrong, Harold?" continued Fogerty, as if hurt by the other's
hesitation to acknowledge their acquaintance. "You haven't forgotten me,
have you? I'm McCormick, you know, and you and I have had many a good
time together in the past."
Smith passed his hand across his forehead with a dazed gesture.
"What name did you call me, sir?" he asked.
"Melville; Harold Melville, of East Sixty-sixth street. I'm sure I'm
right. There can't be two like you in the world, you know."
Thursday Smith stepped down from the platform and with a staggering gait
walked to a stool, on which he weakly sank. He wiped the beads of
perspiration from his forehead and looked at Fogerty with a half
"And you--are--McCormick?" he faltered.
Smith stared a moment and then shook his head.
"It's no use," he said despairingly; "I can't recall a single memory of
either Harold Melville or--or his friend McCormick. Pardon me, sir; I
must confess my mind is absolutely blank concerning all my life previous
to the last two years. Until this moment I--I could not recall my own
"H'm," muttered Fogerty; "you recall it now, don't you?"
"No. You tell me my name is Melville, and you seem to recognize me as a
man whom you once knew. I accept your statement in good faith, but I
cannot corroborate it from my own knowledge."
"That's queer," retorted Fogerty, his cold eyes fixed upon the man's
"Let me explain, please," said Smith, and related his curious experience
in practically the same words he had employed when confiding it to Mr.
Merrick. "I had hoped," he concluded, "that if ever I met one who knew
me formerly, or heard my right name mentioned, my memory would come
back to me; but in this I am sorely disappointed. Did you know me well,
"Pretty well," answered the detective, after a slight hesitation.
"Then tell me something about myself. Tell me who I was."
"Here--in public?" asked Fogerty, with a suggestive glance at the
spectators, who had involuntarily crowded nearer.
Smith flushed, but gazed firmly into the faces surrounding him.
"Why not?" he returned. "These young ladies and Mr. Merrick accepted me
without knowledge of my antecedents. They are entitled to as full an
explanation as--as I am."
"You place me, Melville, in a rather embarrassing position," declared
Fogerty. "This is a queer case--the queerest in all my experience.
Better let me post you in a private interview."
Smith trembled a bit, from nervousness; but he persisted in his demand.
"These people are entitled to the truth," said he. "Tell us frankly all
you know about me, and do not mince words--whatever the truth may be."
"Oh, it's not so bad," announced the detective, with a shrug; "or at
least it wouldn't be in New York, among your old aristocratic haunts.
But here, in a quiet country town, among these generous and
simple-hearted folks who have befriended you, the thing is rather
difficult to say."
"Say it!" commanded Smith.
"I will. Many New Yorkers remember the firm of Melville & Ford, the
cleverest pair of confidence men who ever undertook to fleece the
wealthy lambs of the metropolis."
"Confidence men!" gasped Smith, in a voice of horror.
"Yes, putting it mildly. You were both jolly good fellows and made a
host of friends. You were well-groomed, rode in automobiles, frequented
good clubs and had a stunning establishment on Sixty-sixth street where
you entertained lavishly. You could afford to, for there was where you
fleeced your victims. But it wasn't so very bad, as I said. You chose
the wealthy sons of the super-rich, who were glad to know such popular
men-about-town as Harold Melville and Edgar Ford. When one set of
innocents had been so thoroughly trimmed that they compared notes and
began to avoid you, you had only to pick up another bunch of lambs, for
New York contains many distinct flocks of the species. As they could
afford to lose, none of them ever complained to the police, although the
Central Office had an eye on you and knew your methods perfectly.
"Finally you made a mistake--or rather Ford did, for he was not as
clever as you were. He brought an imitation millionaire to your house; a
fellow who was putting up a brazen front on the smallest sort of a roll.
You won his money and he denounced you, getting away with a pack of
marked cards for evidence. At this you both took fright and decided on a
hasty retreat. Gathering together your plunder--which was a royal sum,
I'm convinced--you and Ford jumped into a motor car and--vanished from
"The balance of your history I base on premise. Ford has been located in
Chicago, where, with an ample supply of money, he is repeating his New
York operations; but Harold Melville has never been heard of until this
day. I think the true explanation is easily arrived at. Goaded by
cupidity--and perhaps envy of your superior talents--Ford took advantage
of the situation and, finding the automobile speeding along a deserted
road, knocked you on the head, tumbled you out of the car, and made off
with your combined winnings. The blow had the effect--not so uncommon as
you think--of destroying your recollection of your past life, and you
have for two years been wandering in total ignorance of what caused your
During this recital Smith sat with his eyes eagerly fixed upon the
speaker's face, dwelling upon every word. At the conclusion of the story
he dropped his face in his hands a moment, visibly shuddering. Then
again he looked up, and after reading the circle of pitying faces
confronting him he bravely met Mr. Merrick's eyes.
"Sir," he said in a voice that faltered in spite of his efforts to
render it firm, "you now know who I am. When I first came to you I was a
mere irresponsible hobo, a wandering tramp who had adopted the name of
Thursday Smith because he was ignorant of his own, but who had no cause
to be ashamed of his manhood. To-day I am discovered in my true guise.
As Harold Melville, the disreputable trickster, I am not fit to remain
in your employ--to associate with honest men and women. You will forgive
my imposition, I think, because you know how thoroughly ignorant I was
of the truth; but I will impose upon you no longer. I am sorry, sir, for
I have been happy here; but I will go, thanking you for the kindly
generosity that prompted you to accept me as I seemed to be, not as I
He rose, his face showing evidence of suffering, and bowed gravely.
Hetty Hewitt walked over and stood by his side, laying her hand gently
upon his arm.
But Thursday Smith did not know John Merrick very well. The little
gentleman had silently listened, observing meanwhile the demeanor of the
accused, and now he smiled in his pleasant, whimsical way and caught
Smith's hand in both his own.
"Man, man!" he cried, "you're misjudging both me and yourself, I don't
know this fellow Melville. You don't know him, either. But I do know
Thursday Smith, who has won my confidence and by his manly acts, and
I'll stand by him through thick and thin!"
"I am Harold Melville--the gambler--the confidence man."
"You're nothing of the sort, you're just Thursday Smith, and no more
responsible for Harold Melville than I am."
"Hooray!" exclaimed Patsy Doyle enthusiastically. "Uncle's right,
Thursday. You're our friend, and the mainstay of the _Millville Daily
Tribune_. We shall not allow you to desert us just because you've
discovered that your--your--ancestor--wasn't quite respectable."
"That's it, exactly," asserted Beth. "It's like hearing a tale of an
ancestor, Thursday, or of some member of your family who lived before
you. You cannot be responsible, in any way, for another man's
"As I look at it," said Louise reflectively, "you are just two years
old, Thursday, and innocent of any wrongdoing before that day you first
"There's no use our considering Melville at all," added Uncle John
cheerfully. "I'm sorry we ever heard of him, except that in one way it
clears up a mystery. Thursday Smith, we like you and trust you. Do not
doubt yourself because of this tale. I'll vouch for your fairness and
integrity. Forget Melville, who has never really existed so far as any
of us are concerned; be yourself, and count on our friendship and
regard, which Thursday Smith has fairly won."
Hetty was crying softly, her cheek laid against Thursday's sleeve. The
man stood as if turned to stone, but his cheeks were flushed, his eyes
sparkling, and his head proudly poised.
Fogerty lighted a fresh cigarette, watching the scene with an
Suddenly Smith awoke to life. He half turned, looked wonderingly at
Hetty, and then folded her thin form in his arms and pressed a kiss on
Fogerty coughed. Uncle John jerked out his handkerchief and blew his
nose like a bugle call.
The major's eyes were moist, for the old soldier was sympathetic as a
child. But Patsy, a little catch in her voice, impulsively put her arms
around the unashamed pair and murmured: "I'm so glad, Hetty! I'm so
glad, Thursday! But--dear me--aren't we going to have any paper
That relieved the tension and everybody laughed. Thursday released Hetty
and shook Uncle John's hand most gratefully. Then they all wanted to
shake hands, and did until it came to Fogerty's turn. But now Smith drew
back and looked askance at the detective.
"I do not know you, Mr. McCormick," he said with dignity.
"My name's not McCormick; it's Fogerty," said the other, without malice.
"I was simply testing your memory by claiming to be an old friend.
Personally I never knew Harold Melville, but I'm mighty glad to make
Thursday Smith's acquaintance and will consider it an honor if you'll
shake my hand."
Smith was too happy to refuse. He took Fogerty's hand.
THE JOURNALISTS ABDICATE
Mr. Merrick told Thursday Smith, in an apologetic way, how he had hired
Fogerty to unravel the mystery of his former life, and how the great
detective had gone to work so intelligently and skillfully that, with
the aid of a sketch Hetty had once made of the pressman, and which Mr.
Merrick sent on, he had been able to identify the man and unearth the
disagreeable details of his history.
Thursday was too humble, by this time, and too grateful, besides, to
resent Uncle John's interference. He admitted that, after all, it was
better he should know the truth.
"I've nothing to bother me now but the future," he said, "and with God's
help I mean to keep the name of Thursday Smith clean and free from any
After the interview he went about his duties as before and Hetty sat
down at her desk and took the telegraphic news that came clicking over
the wire as if nothing important in her life had occurred. But the girl
journalists were all excitement and already were beginning to plan the
things they might do to Make Hetty and Thursday happier. Cox and Booth
had gone away and Mr. Merrick thanked Fogerty for his skillful service
and gave him a fat check.
"It's a mighty interesting case, sir," declared the detective, "and I'm
as glad as any of you that it has ended so comfortably. Whatever
Melville might have been--and his record is a little worse than I
related it--there's no doubt of Thursday Smith's honesty. He's a mighty
fine fellow, and Fate played a proper trick when she blotted out his
unscrupulous mind and left him as innocent as an unborn babe. He will do
well in his new life, I'm sure, and that girl of his, Hetty Hewitt--I've
know of her reckless ways for years--has also redeemed herself and
turned out a regular brick! All of which, Mr. Merrick is unusual in real
life, more's the pity, and therefore it makes even a cold-blooded
detective feel good to witness it."
Mr. Merrick smiled benignantly and Fogerty drove over to the Junction to
catch his train.
After luncheon, Patsy, while arranging her galley proofs, inquired of
Louise for the local column.
"Hetty said she'd attend to it," was the reply; "but we are all upset
to-day and things are at sixes and sevens."
"The column is all prepared, Miss Doyle," announced Hetty.
"Where is it?"
"Thursday has made it ready for the press. It's--illustrated," she
confessed. "I'd rather you wouldn't see it until the paper is out, if
you can trust me."
"To be sure," said Patsy. "That's one responsibility I'm relieved of,
The paper was a bit uneven in appearance next morning, but when Patsy
came down to breakfast she found both Uncle John and the major roaring
with laughter over Hetty's locals.
The first item stated that "Mrs. Thorne took tea at Sam Cotting's last
evening," (the Cottings being notoriously inhospitable) and the picture
showed Mrs. Thorne, a sour-faced woman, departing from the store with a
package of tea. Then came the announcement that "Eph Hildreth got shot
at West's hardware store," and there was a picture of West weighing out
a pound of buckshot for his customer. The next item said: "Our
distinguished fellow citizen, Marshall Peggy McNutt, was discovered
unconscious on his front porch at 3 p.m." The drawing of McNutt was one
of the best of the series. It was his habit to "snooze" in an easy chair
on his porch every afternoon, and Hetty depicted the little man with
both feet--meat and wood--on the rail, his mouth open and eyes shut,
while lusty snores were indicated by radiating lines and exclamation
points. The Widow Clark's cow occupied the next square, being tethered
to a stake while Skim approached the animal with pail and milking-stool.
Below the drawing were the words: "Mr. Skimton Clark, cowward." A few
other local hits were concluded by a picture of Hon. Ojoy Boglin shaking
his fist at Mr. Skeelty, who held a package of money in his grasp
labeled "insurance." Below was the simple legend: "O Joy!"
The artist's cleverness became the subject of conversation at the
breakfast table, and Arthur remarked:
"You won't be able to hold Hetty in Millville long. Her talent enables
her to draw big salaries in New York and it isn't likely she will
consent to bury herself in this little town."
"I'm not so sure," said Patsy. "If we can hold Thursday Smith we can
hold Hetty, you know."
"We won't need to hold either of them for long," observed Beth; "for in
another three weeks or so we must leave here and return to the city,
when of course the _Millville Daily Tribune_ must suspend publication."
"I've been thinking of that," said Uncle John.
"So have I," declared Patsy. "For a long time I was puzzled what to do,
for I hated dreadfully to kill our dear _Tribune_ after we've made it
such a nice paper. Yet I knew very well we couldn't stay here all winter
and run it. But last night I had an inspiration. Thursday will marry
Hetty, I suppose, and they can both stay here and run the Tribune. They
are doing most of the work now. If Uncle John agrees, we will sell out
to them on 'easy terms.'"
"Good gracious, Patsy!" chuckled the major, "wherever can the poor
things borrow money to keep going? Do you want to load onto an innocent
bride an' groom the necessity of meeting a deficit of a couple of
hundred dollars every week?"
Patsy's face fell.
"They have no money, I know," she said, "except what they earn."
"And their wages'll be cut off when they begin hiring themselves," added
the major. "No; you can't decently thrust such an incubus on Hetty and
Thursday--or on anyone else. You've been willing to pay the piper for
the sake of the dance, but no one else would do it."
"Quite true," agreed Arthur. "The days of the _Millville Tribune_ are
"Let us not settle that question just yet," proposed Mr. Merrick, who
had been deep in thought. "I'll consider Patsy's proposition for awhile
and then talk with Thursday. The paper belongs to the girls, but the
outfit is mine, and I suppose I may do what I please with it when my
nieces retire from journalism."
Even the major could not demur at this statement and so the conversation
dropped. During the next few days Uncle John visited the printing office
several times and looked over the complete little plant with speculative
eyes. Then one day he made a trip to Malvern, thirty miles up the
railway line from the Junction, where a successful weekly paper had long
been published. He interviewed the editor, examined the outfit
critically, and after asking numerous questions returned to Millville in
Then he invited Thursday Smith and Hetty to dine at the farm on Saturday
evening, which was the one evening in the week they were free, there
being no Sunday morning paper. Thursday had bought a new suit of clothes
since he came to the _Tribune_, and Hetty, after much urging, finally
prevailed upon him to accept the invitation. When the young man appeared
at the farm he wore his new suit with an air of perfect ease that
disguised its cheapness, and it was noticed that he seemed quite at home
in the handsome living-room, where the party assembled after dinner.
"I am in search of information, Thursday," said Uncle John in his
pleasant way. "Will you permit me to question you a bit?"
"And you, Hetty?"
"Ask anything you like, sir."
"Thank you. To begin with, what are your future plans? I understand, of
course, you are to be married; but--afterward?"
"We haven't considered that as yet, sir," replied Thursday thoughtfully.
"Of course we shall stay with the _Tribune_ as long as you care to
employ our services; but--"
"I have been given to understand the young ladies plan to return to New
York at the end of September, and in that case of course the paper will
"My nieces will be obliged to abandon journalism, to be sure," said Mr.
Merrick; "but I see no reason why the paper should suspend. How would
you and Hetty like to remain in Millville and run it?"
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