Aunt Jane's Nieces on Vacation
Edith Van Dyne
Part 4 out of 4
Both Thursday and Hetty smiled, but it was the man who answered;
"We cannot afford such a luxury, sir."
"Would you care to make your future home in Millville?"
"Oh, yes!" exclaimed Hetty. "I love the quaint little town dearly, and
the villagers are all my friends. I'm sure Thursday doesn't care to go
back to New York, where--where Harold Melville once lived. But, as he
truly says, we couldn't make a living with the _Tribune_, even if you
gave us the use of the plant."
"Let us see about that," said Uncle John. "I will admit, in advance,
that a daily paper in such a place is absurd. None of us quite
understood that when we established the _Tribune_. My nieces thought a
daily the only satisfactory sort of newspaper, because they were used to
such, but it did not take long to convince me--and perhaps them--that in
spite of all our efforts the _Millville Daily Tribune_ would never
thrive. It is too expensive to pay its own way and requires too much
work to be a pleasant plaything. Only unbounded enthusiasm and energy
have enabled my clever nieces to avoid being swamped by the monster
their ambition created."
"That," said Patsy, with a laugh, "is very clearly and concisely put, my
"It was never intended to be a permanent thing, anyhow," continued Mr.
Merrick; "yet I must express my admiration for the courage and talent my
nieces have displayed in forcing a temporary success where failure was
the logical conclusion. Shortly, however, they intend to retire
gracefully from the field of journalism, leaving me with a model country
newspaper plant on my hands. Therefore it is I, Thursday and Hetty, and
not my nieces, who have a proposition to place before you.
"While a daily paper is not appropriate in Millville, a weekly paper,
distributed throughout Chazy County, would not only be desirable but
could be made to pay an excellent yearly profit. Through the enterprise
of Joe Wegg, Millville is destined to grow rapidly from this time on,
and Chazy County is populous enough to support a good weekly paper, in
any event. Therefore, my proposition is this: To turn the plant over to
Mr. and Mrs. Thursday Smith, who will change the name to the _Millville
Weekly Tribune_ and run it as a permanent institution. Your only expense
for labor will be one assistant to set type and do odd jobs, since you
are so competent that you can attend to all else yourselves. We will cut
out the expensive news service we have heretofore indulged in and
dispense with the private telegraph wire. Joe Wegg says he'll furnish
you with what power you need free of all charge, because the paper will
boost Millville's interests, with which his own interests are
identified. Now, then, tell me what you think of my proposal."
Hetty and Thursday had listened attentively and their faces proved they
were enthusiastic over the idea. They said at once they would be glad to
undertake the proposition.
"However," said Thursday, after a little reflection, "there are two
things that might render our acceptance impossible. I suppose you will
require rent for the outfit; but for a time, until we get well started,
we could not afford to pay as much as you have a right to demand."
"I have settled on my demands," replied Mr. Merrick, "and hope you will
agree to them. You must pay me for the use of the outfit twenty per cent
of your net profits, over and above all your operating and living
expenses. When this sum has reimbursed me for my investment, the outfit
will belong to you."
Thursday Smith looked his amazement.
"That seems hardly business-like, sir," he protested.
"You are right; but this isn't entirely a business deal. You are saving
my nieces the humiliation of suspending the paper they established and
have labored on so lovingly. Moreover, I regard you and Hetty as friends
whom I am glad to put in the way of a modest but--I venture to
predict--a successful business career. What is your second objection?"
"I heard Mr. West say the other day that he would soon need the building
we occupy to store his farm machinery in."
"True; but I have anticipated that. I have completed plans for the
erection of a new building for the newspaper, which will be located on
the vacant lot next to the hotel. I purchased the lot a long time ago.
The new building, for which the lumber is already ordered, will be a
better one than the shed we are now in, and on the second floor I intend
to have a cozy suite of rooms where you and Hetty can make a home of
your own. Eh? How does that strike you, my children?"
Their faces were full of wonder and delight.
"The new building goes with the outfit, on the same terms," continued
Mr. Merrick. "That is I take one-fifth of your net profits for the whole
"But, sir," suggested Thursday, "suppose no profits materialize?"
"Then I have induced you to undertake a poor venture and must suffer the
consequences, which to me will be no hardship at all. In that case I
will agree to find some better business for you, but I am quite positive
you will make a go of the _Millville Weekly Tribune_."
"I think so, too, Mr. Merrick, or I would not accept your generous
offer," replied Smith.
"What do you think, Hetty?"
"The idea pleases me immensely," she declared. "It is a splendid
opportunity for us, and will enable us to live here quietly and forget
the big outside world. New York has had a bad influence on both you and
me, Thursday, and here we can begin a new life of absolute
"When do you intend to be married?" asked Patsy.
"We have scarcely thought of that, as yet, for until this evening we did
not know what the future held in store for us."
"Couldn't you arrange the wedding before we leave?" asked Beth. "It
would delight us so much to be present at the ceremony."
"I think we owe the young ladies that much, Thursday," said Hetty, after
a brief hesitation.
"Nothing could please me better," he asserted eagerly.
So they canvassed the wedding, and Patsy proposed they transfer the
paper to Thursday and Hetty--to become a weekly instead of a daily--in
a week's time, and celebrate the wedding immediately after the second
issue, so as to give the bridal couple a brief vacation before getting
to work again. Neither of them wished to take a wedding trip, and Mr.
Merrick promised to rush the work on the new building so they could move
into their new rooms in the course of a few weeks.
A CHEERFUL BLUNDER
"We would like to ask your advice about one thing, sir," said Thursday
Smith to Mr. Merrick, a little later that same evening. "Would it be
legal for me to marry under the name of Thursday Smith, or must I use my
real name--Harold Melville?"
Uncle John could not answer this question, nor could the major or
Arthur. Hetty and her fiancÚ had both decided to cling to the name of
Thursday Smith thereafter, and they disliked to be married under any
other--especially the detestable one of Harold Melville.
"An act of legislature would render your new name legal, I believe,"
said Mr. Merrick; "but such an act could not be passed until after the
date you have planned to be married."
"But if it was made legal afterward it wouldn't matter greatly,"
suggested the major.
"I do not think it matters at all," asserted Hetty. "It's the man I'm
marrying, not his name. I don't much care what he calls himself."
"Oh, but it must be legal, you know!" exclaimed Patsy. "You don't care
now, perhaps, but you might in the future. We cannot be certain, you
know, that Thursday is entirely free from his former connection with
"Quite true," agreed the major.
"Then," said Smith, with evident disappointment, "I must use the hateful
name of Melville for the wedding, and afterward abandon it for as long
The nieces were greatly pleased with Uncle John's arrangement, which
relieved them of the newspaper and also furnished Thursday and Hetty, of
whom they had grown really fond, with a means of gaining a livelihood.
Millville accepted the new arrangement with little adverse comment, the
villagers being quite satisfied with a weekly paper, which would cost
them far less than the daily had done. Everyone was pleased to know
Thursday Smith had acquired the business, for both he and Hetty had won
the cordial friendship of the simple-hearted people and were a little
nearer to them than "the nabob's girls" could ever be.
Preparations were speedily pushed forward for the wedding, which the
nieces undertook to manage themselves, the prospective bride and groom
being too busy at the newspaper office to devote much attention to the
preliminaries of the great event.
The ceremony was to take place at the farmhouse of Mr. Merrick, and
every inhabitant of Millville was invited to be present. The minister
would drive over from Hooker's Falls, and the ceremony was to be
followed by a grand feast, for which delicacies were to be imported from
The girls provided a complete trousseau for Hetty, as their wedding
present, while Arthur and the major undertook to furnish the new
apartments, which were already under construction. Uncle John's gift was
a substantial check that would furnish the newly married couple with
modest capital to promote their business or which they could use in case
It was the very day before the wedding that Fogerty gave them so great
and agreeable a surprise that Uncle John called it "Fogerty's Wedding
Present" ever afterward. In its physical form it was merely a telegram,
but in its spiritual and moral aspect it proved the greatest gift
Thursday and Hetty were destined to receive. The telegram was dated from
New York and read as follows:
"Harold Melville just arrested here for passing a bogus check under an
assumed name. Have interviewed him and find he is really Melville, so
Thursday Smith must be some one else, and doubtless a more respectable
character. Shall I undertake to discover his real identity?"
Uncle John let Thursday and Hetty answer this question, and their reply
was a positive "no!"
"The great Fogerty made such a blunder the first time," said Hetty, who
was overjoyed at the glorious news, "that he might give poor Thursday
another dreadful scare if he tackled the job again. Let the mystery
"But, on the contrary, my dear, Fogerty might discover that Thursday was
some eminent and good man--as I am firmly convinced is the truth,"
suggested Mr. Merrick.
"He's that right now," asserted Hetty. "For my part, I prefer to know
nothing of his former history, and Thursday says the present situation
thoroughly contents him."
"I am more than contented," said Thursday, with a happy smile. "Hetty
has cured me of my desire to wander, and no matter what I might have
been in the past I am satisfied to remain hereafter a country editor."
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