Herbert took the two nickels, and turned to Florence. “See here, Florence,” he said, in a tone of strong complaint. “This business is all done and paid for now. What you want to hang around here any more for?”
“Yes, Florence,” his partner faithfully seconded him, at once. “We haven’t got any more time to waste around here to-day, and so what you want to stand around in the way and everything for? You ought to know yourself we don’t want you.”
“I’m not in the way,” said Florence hotly. “Whose way am I in?”
“Well, anyhow, if you don’t go,” Herbert informed her, “we’ll carry you downstairs and lock you out.”
“I’d just like to see you!” she returned, her eyes flashing. “Just you dare to lay a finger on me again!” And she added, “Anyway, if you did, those ole doors haven’t got any lock on ’em: I’ll come right back in and walk right straight up the stairs again!”
Herbert advanced toward her. “Now you pay attention, to me,” he said. “You’ve paid for your ole poem, and we got to have some peace around here. I’m goin’ straight over to your mother and ask her to come and get you.”
Florence gave up. “What difference would that make, Mister Taddletale?” she inquired mockingly. “I wouldn’t be here when she came, would I? I’ll thank you to notice there’s some value to my time, myself; and I’ll just politely ask you to excuse me, pray!”
With a proud air she crushingly departed, returning to her own home far from dissatisfied with what she had accomplished. Moreover, she began to expand with the realization of a new importance; and she was gratified with the effect upon her parents, at dinner that evening, when she informed them that she had written a poem, which was to be published in the prospective first number of The North End Daily Oriole.
“Written a poem?” said her father. “Well, I declare! Why, that’s remarkable, Florence!”
“I’m glad the boys were nice about it,” said her mother. “I should have feared they couldn’t appreciate it, after being so cross to you about letting you have anything to do with the printing-press. They must have thought it was a very good poem.”
“Where is the poem, Florence?” Mr. Atwater asked. “Let’s read it and see what our little girl can do when she really tries.”
Unfortunately Florence had not a copy, and when she informed her father of this fact, he professed himself greatly disappointed as well as eager for the first appearance of The Oriole, that he might felicitate himself upon the evidence of his daughter’s heretofore unsuspected talent. Florence was herself anxious for the newspaper’s debut, and she made her anxiety so clear to Atwater & Rooter, Owners & Propreitors, every afternoon after school, during the following week, that by Thursday further argument and repartee on their part were felt to be indeed futile; and in order to have a little peace around there, they carried her downstairs. At least, they defined their action as “carrying,” and, having deposited her in the yard, they were obliged to stand guard at the doors, which they closed and contrived to hold against her until her strength was worn out for that day.