Fogerty lighted a fresh cigarette, watching the scene with an imperturbable smile.
Suddenly Smith awoke to life. He half turned, looked wonderingly at Hetty, and then folded her thin form in his arms and pressed a kiss on her forehead.
Fogerty coughed. Uncle John jerked out his handkerchief and blew his nose like a bugle call.
The major’s eyes were moist, for the old soldier was sympathetic as a child. But Patsy, a little catch in her voice, impulsively put her arms around the unashamed pair and murmured: “I’m so glad, Hetty! I’m so glad, Thursday! But—dear me—aren’t we going to have any paper to-morrow morning?”
That relieved the tension and everybody laughed. Thursday released Hetty and shook Uncle John’s hand most gratefully. Then they all wanted to shake hands, and did until it came to Fogerty’s turn. But now Smith drew back and looked askance at the detective.
“I do not know you, Mr. McCormick,” he said with dignity.
“My name’s not McCormick; it’s Fogerty,” said the other, without malice. “I was simply testing your memory by claiming to be an old friend. Personally I never knew Harold Melville, but I’m mighty glad to make Thursday Smith’s acquaintance and will consider it an honor if you’ll shake my hand.”
Smith was too happy to refuse. He took Fogerty’s hand.
THE JOURNALISTS ABDICATE
Mr. Merrick told Thursday Smith, in an apologetic way, how he had hired Fogerty to unravel the mystery of his former life, and how the great detective had gone to work so intelligently and skillfully that, with the aid of a sketch Hetty had once made of the pressman, and which Mr. Merrick sent on, he had been able to identify the man and unearth the disagreeable details of his history.
Thursday was too humble, by this time, and too grateful, besides, to resent Uncle John’s interference. He admitted that, after all, it was better he should know the truth.
“I’ve nothing to bother me now but the future,” he said, “and with God’s help I mean to keep the name of Thursday Smith clean and free from any reproach.”
After the interview he went about his duties as before and Hetty sat down at her desk and took the telegraphic news that came clicking over the wire as if nothing important in her life had occurred. But the girl journalists were all excitement and already were beginning to plan the things they might do to Make Hetty and Thursday happier. Cox and Booth had gone away and Mr. Merrick thanked Fogerty for his skillful service and gave him a fat check.