“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 really was.
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 uncompromising.
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 neatly.”
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.