On the porch stood an old woman clothed in a neat gingham dress and wearing a white apron and cap. Her pleasant face was wreathed in smiles as she turned it toward the laughing, chattering group that came up the path. Patsy spied her and rushed up to give old Nora a hug and kiss, and the other two girls saluted the blind woman with equal cordiality, for long ago she had won the love and devotion of all three. Arthur, who had heard of Nora, pressed her hand and told her she must accept him as another of her children, and then she asked for Mr. Merrick and ran in to get the breakfast served. For, although blind, old Nora was far from being helpless, and the breakfast she had prepared in anticipation of their arrival was as deliciously cooked as if she had been able to use her eyes as others did.
THE DAWN OF A GREAT ENTERPRISE
The great enterprise was sprung on Mr. Merrick the very morning following his arrival at the farm. Breakfast was over and a group had formed upon the shady front lawn, where chairs, benches and hammocks were scattered in profusion.
“Well, Uncle, how do you like it?” asked Louise. “Are you perfectly comfortable and happy, now we’ve escaped so far from the city that its humming life is a mere memory?”
“Happy as a clam,” responded Uncle John, leaning back in his chair with his feet on a foot rest. “If I only had the morning paper there would be nothing else to wish for.”
“The paper? That’s what that queer tramp at the Junction House asked for,” remarked Beth. “The first thought of even a hobo was for a morning paper. I wonder why men are such slaves to those gossipy things.”
“Phoo!” cried Patsy; “we’re all slaves to them. Show me a person who doesn’t read the daily journals and keep abreast of the times and I’ll show you a dummy.”
“Patsy’s right,” remarked Arthur Weldon. “The general intelligence and cosmopolitan knowledge of the people are best cultivated by the newspapers. The superiority of our newspapers has been a factor in making us the greatest nation on earth, for we are the best informed.”
“My, what big words!” exclaimed Louise.
“It is quite true,” said Uncle John soberly, “that I shall miss our daily paper during our four months’ retirement in these fascinating wilds. It’s the one luxury we can’t enjoy in our country retreat.”
“Why not?” asked Patsy, with startling abruptness, while a queer expression—as of an inspiration—stole over her bright face.
“Chump!” said Beth, drily; “you know very well why not, Patsy Doyle. Mooley cows and the fourth estate don’t intermingle, so to speak.”
“They can be made to, though,” declared Patsy. “Why hasn’t some one thought of it before? Uncle John—girls!—I propose we start a daily paper.”
Louise laughed softly, Beth’s lip curled and Arthur Weldon cast an amused glance at the girl; but Uncle John stared seriously into Patsy’s questioning blue eyes.