“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.