“Scintillate all you want to, Hetty,” cried Patsy with a laugh; “but you’re not going to be extinguished. For we, the imitation journalists, have taken you under our wings. There’s no underworld at Millville, and the only excitement we can furnish just now is a night with us at the old farm.”
“That,” replied Hetty, “is indeed a real excitement. You can’t quite understand it, perhaps; but it’s so—so very different from what I’m accustomed to.”
Uncle John welcomed the girl artist cordially and under his hospitable roof the waif soon felt at ease. At dinner the conversation turned upon Thursday Smith and his peculiar experience. Beth asked Hetty if she knew the man.
“Yes,” replied the girl; “I’ve seen him at the office and we’ve exchanged a word or two. But he boards with Thorne, the liveryman, and not at the hotel.”
“You have never seen him before you met him here?”
“I wonder,” said Louise musingly, “if he is quite right in his mind. All this story may be an hallucination, you know.”
“He’s a very clever fellow,” asserted Hetty, “and such a loss of memory is by no means so uncommon as you think. Our brains are queer things—mine is, I know—and it doesn’t take much to throw their machinery out of gear. Once I knew a reporter who was worried and over-worked. He came to the office one morning and said he was George Washington, the Commander of the Continental Army. In all other ways he was sane enough, and we humored him and called him ‘General.’ At the end of three months the idea quit him as suddenly as it had come on, and he was not only normal but greatly restored in strength of intellect through the experience. Perhaps some of the overworked brain cells had taken a rest and renewed their energy. It would not surprise me if some day Thursday Smith suddenly remembered who he was.”
[Footnote: This anecdote is true.—Author.]
“In the meantime,” said Uncle John, “I’m going to make an effort to discover his identity.”
“In what way, Uncle?” asked Patsy.
“I’ll set Fogerty, who is a clever detective, at work. No man can disappear from his customary haunts without leaving some sort of a record behind him, and Fogerty may be able to uncover the mystery in a short time.”
“Then we’ll lose our pressman,” declared Beth; “for I’m positive that Thursday Smith was a person of some importance in his past life.”
THE HONER’BLE OJOY BOGLIN
One morning while Patsy was alone in her office, busied over her work, the door softly opened and a curious looking individual stood before her.
He was thin in form, leathery skinned and somewhat past the middle age of life. His clothing consisted of a rusty black Prince Albert coat, rusty trousers to match, which were carefully creased, cowhide shoes brilliant with stove polish, a tall silk hat of antiquated design, and a frayed winged collar decorated with a black tie on which sparkled a large diamond attached to a chain. He had chin whiskers of a sandy gray color and small gray eyes that were both shrewd and suspicious in expression.