“Yes,” said Helena, nodding her head. “I’ll see to it all right.” Then, a little perturbed: “But those poor Holmes and their eight dollars, Doc, I—”
“Now don’t be greedy, Helena,” said Madison cheerfully. “You mustn’t expect everybody to hand out ten and fifty thousand, just because Thornton and I did—try and appreciate the little things of life too.”
“Oh!” exclaimed Helena angrily. “Doc Madison, I’d like to—”
“Yes, all right, of course,” interrupted Madison, grinning. “Good-by, that’s all—I’m off—see, they’re waiting for me”—and leaving Helena with an outraged little flush upon her cheek, he hurried through the door after the others.
It is a very old saying, and therefore of course indisputably true, that some have greatness thrust upon them. True of men, it is, in one instance at least, true of places—Needley, from an unheard of, modest, innocuous and unassuming little hamlet, leaped in a flash into the focus of the world’s eyes. In huge headlines the papers in every city of every State carried it on their front pages. And while the first astounding despatch from the metropolitan newspaper man was being copied by leading dailies everywhere, there came on top of it, clinching its veracity beyond possibility of doubt, the news that Robert Thornton, the well known Chicago multi-millionaire, had given fifty thousand dollars to the cause. A man, much less a multi-millionaire, does not give fifty thousand dollars for a bubble, so the managing editors of the leading dailies rushed for their star reporters—and the star reporters rushed for Needley—and the red-haired, sorrowful-faced man in the Needley station grew haggard, tottered on the verge of collapse, and, between the sheafs of flimsy that the reporters fought for the opportunity of pushing at him, wired desperately for a relief.
Needley awoke and came to life—as from the dead. There was bustle, activity, and suppressed and unsuppressed excitement on every hand—the Waldorf Hotel once more opened its doors—the Congress Hotel was already full.
The reporters interviewed everybody with but one exception—the Patriarch.
They interviewed Madison—and Madison talked to them gravely, quietly, a little self-deprecatingly, a little abashed at the thought of personal exploitage.
“I wouldn’t be interviewed at all,” he told them, “if it were not that mankind at large is entitled to every bit of evidence that can be obtained. Yes; I gave what I could afford, but it was Holmes, a poor man, who gave most of all—have you seen him? Myself? What does that matter? I am unknown, my personality, unlike Mr. Thornton’s, can carry no weight. I am, I suppose, what you might call a rolling stone, a world wanderer. My parents left me a moderate fortune, and I have travelled pretty well and pretty constantly all over the world