Aunt Jane's Nieces at Work
Edith Van Dyne
LIST OF CHAPTERS
I MISS DOYLE INTERFERES
II THE ARTIST
III DON QUIXOTE
IV KENNETH TAKES A BOLD STEP
V PLANNING THE WORK
VI A GOOD START
VII PATSY MAKES PROGRESS
VIII THE HONORABLE ERASTUS IS ASTONISHED
IX OL' WILL ROGERS
X THE FORGED CHECK
XI A MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE
XII BETH MEETS A REBUFF
XIII THE BOOMERANG
XIV LUCY'S GHOST
XV SIGNS OF THE TIMES
XVI A CLEW AT LAST
XVII MRS. HOPKINS GOSSIPS
XVIII ELIZA PARSONS
XIX PATSY INDULGES IN EAVESDROPPING
XX PRICKING A BUBBLE
XXI THE "RETURNS" FROM FAIRVIEW
XXII THE AWAKENING
MISS DOYLE INTERFERES
"Daddy," said Patricia Doyle at the breakfast table in her cosy New York
apartment, "here is something that will make you sit up and take
"My dear Patsy," was the reply, "it's already sitting up I am, an'
taking waffles. If anything at all would make me take notice it's your
own pretty phiz."
"Major," remarked Uncle John, helping himself to waffles from a fresh
plate Nora brought in, "you Irish are such confirmed flatterers that you
flatter your own daughters. Patsy isn't at all pretty this morning.
She's too red and freckled."
Patsy laughed and her blue eyes danced.
"That comes from living on your old farm at Millville," she retorted.
"We've only been back three days, and the sunburn sticks to me like a
burr to a kitten."
"Pay no attention to the ould rascal, Patsy," advised the Major,
composedly. "An' stop wavin' that letter like a white flag of surrender.
Who's it from?"
"Aha! An' how is our lad?"
"Why, he's got himself into a peck of trouble. That's what I want to
talk to you and Uncle John about," she replied, her happy face growing
as serious as it could ever become.
"Can't he wiggle out?" asked Uncle John.
"Out of what?"
"It seems not. Listen--"
"Oh, tell us about it, lassie," said the Major. "If I judge right
there's some sixty pages in that epistle. Don't bother to read it
"But every word is important," declared Patsy, turning the letter over,
"--except the last page," with a swift flush.
Uncle John laughed. His shrewd old eyes saw everything.
"Then read us the last page, my dear."
"I'll tell you about it," said Patsy, quickly. "It's this way, you see.
Kenneth has gone into politics!"
"More power to his elbow!" exclaimed the Major.
"I can't imagine it in Kenneth," said Uncle John, soberly. "What's he in
"For--for--let's see. Oh, here it is. For member of the House of
Representatives from the Eighth District."
"He's flying high, for a fledgling," observed the Major. "But Kenneth's
a bright lad and a big gun in his county. He'll win, hands down."
Patsy shook her head.
"He's afraid not," she said, "and it's worrying him to death. He doesn't
like to be beaten, and that's what's troubling him."
Uncle John pushed back his chair.
"Poor boy!" he said. "What ever induced him to attempt such a thing?"
"He wanted to defeat a bad man who now represents Kenneth's district,"
explained Patsy, whose wise little head was full of her friend's
"And the bad man objects to the idea and won't be defeated," added the
Major. "It's a way these bad men have."
Uncle John was looking very serious indeed, and Patsy regarded him
gratefully. Her father never would be serious where Kenneth was
concerned. Perhaps in his heart the grizzled old Major was a bit jealous
of the boy.
"I think," said the girl, "that Mr. Watson got Ken into politics, for he
surely wouldn't have undertaken such a thing himself. And, now he's in,
he finds he's doomed to defeat; and it's breaking his heart, Uncle
The little man nodded silently. His chubby face was for once destitute
of a smile. That meant a good deal with Uncle John, and Patsy knew she
had interested him in Kenneth's troubles.
"Once," said the Major, from behind the morning paper, "I was in
politics, meself. I ran for coroner an' got two whole votes--me own an'
the undertaker's. It's because the public's so indiscriminating that
I've not run for anything since--except th' street-car."
"But it's a big game," said Uncle John, standing at the window with his
hands deep in his pockets; "and an important game. Every good American
should take an interest in politics; and Kenneth, especially, who has
such large landed interests, ought to direct the political affairs of
"I'm much interested in politics, too, Uncle," declared the girl. "If I
were a man I'd--I'd--be President!"
"An' I'd vote fer ye twenty times a day, mavourneen!" cried the Major.
"But luckily ye'll be no president--unless it's of a woman's club."
"There's the bell!" cried Patsy. "It must be the girls. No one else
would call so early."
"It's Beth's voice, talking to Nora," added her father, listening; and
then the door flew open and in came two girls whose bright and eager
faces might well warrant the warm welcome they received.
"Oh, Louise," cried Patsy, "however did you get up so early?"
"I've got a letter from Kenneth," was the answer, "and I'm so excited I
couldn't wait a minute!"
"Imagine Louise being excited," said Beth, calmly, as she kissed Uncle
John and sat down by Patsy's side. "She read her letter in bed and
bounced out of bed like a cannon-ball. We dressed like the 'lightning
change' artist at the vaudeville, and I'm sure our hats are not on
"This bids fair to be a strenuous day," observed the Major. "Patsy's had
a letter from the boy, herself."
"Oh, did you?" inquired Louise; "and do you know all about it, dear?"
"She knows sixty pages about it," replied Major Doyle.
"Well, then, what's to be done?"
The question was addressed to Patsy, who was not prepared to reply. The
three cousins first exchanged inquiring glances and then turned their
eager eyes upon the broad chubby back of Uncle John, who maintained his
position at the window as if determined to shut out the morning
Louise Merrick lived with her mother a few blocks away from Patsy's
apartment, and her cousin Beth DeGraf was staying with her for a time.
They had all spent the summer with Uncle John at Millville, and had only
returned to New York a few days before. Beth's home was in Ohio, but
there was so little sympathy between the girl and her parents that she
was happy only when away from them. Her mother was Uncle John's sister,
but as selfish and cold as Uncle John was generous and genial. Beth's
father was a "genius" and a professor of music--one of those geniuses
who live only in their own atmosphere and forget there is a world around
them. So Beth had a loveless and disappointed childhood, and only after
Uncle John arrived from the far west and took his three nieces "under
his wing," as he said, did her life assume any brightness or interest.
Her new surroundings, however, had developed Beth's character
wonderfully, and although she still had her periods of sullen depression
she was generally as gay and lovable as her two cousins, but in a
quieter and more self-possessed way.
Louise was the eldest--a fair, dainty creature with that indescribable
"air" which invariably wins the admiring regard of all beholders.
Whatever gown the girl wore looked appropriate and becoming, and her
manner was as delightful as her appearance. She was somewhat frivolous
and designing in character, but warm-hearted and staunch in her
friendships. Indeed, Louise was one of those girls who are so complex as
to be a puzzle to everyone, including themselves.
Beth DeGraf was the beauty of the group of three, and she also possessed
great depth of character. Beth did not like herself very well, and was
always afraid others would fail to like her, so she did not win friends
as easily as did Louise. But those who knew the beautiful girl
intimately could read much to admire in the depth of her great dark
eyes, and she was not the least interesting of the three nieces whose
fortunes had been so greatly influenced by Aunt Jane and Uncle John
But Patricia Doyle--usually called "Patsy" by her friends--was after all
the general favorite with strangers and friends alike. There was a
subtle magnetism about the girl's laughing, freckled face and dancing
blue eyes that could not well be resisted. Patsy was not beautiful; she
was not accomplished; she had no especial air of distinction. But she
was winning from the top of her red hair to the tips of her toes, and so
absolutely unaffected that she won all hearts.
"And for wisdom she's got Solomon beat to a frazzle," declared the Major
to Uncle John, in discussing his daughter's character. But it is
possible that Major Doyle was prejudiced.
"Well, what's to be done?" demanded Louise, for the second time.
"We don't vote in Ken's district," remarked the Major, "or there would
be six votes to his credit, and that would beat my own record by four!"
"Ken is so impressionable that I'm afraid this defeat will ruin his
life," said Beth, softly. "I wish we could get him away. Couldn't we get
him to withdraw?"
"He might be suddenly called to Europe," suggested Louise. "That would
take him away from the place and give him a change of scene."
Patsy shook her head.
"Kenneth isn't a coward," she said. "He won't run away. He must accept
his defeat like a man, and some time try again. Eh, Uncle John?"
Uncle John turned around and regarded his three nieces critically.
"What makes you think he will be defeated?" he asked.
"He says so himself," answered Patsy.
"He writes me he can see no hope, for the people are all against him,"
"Pah!" said Uncle John, contemptuously. "What else does the idiot say?"
"That he's lonely and discouraged, and had to pour out his heart to some
one or go wild," said Patsy, the tears of sympathy filling her eyes.
"And you girls propose to sit down and allow all this?" inquired their
"We?" answered Louise, lifting her brows and making a pretty gesture.
"What can we do?"
"Go to work!" said Uncle John.
"How?" asked Patsy, eagerly.
"Politics is a game," declared Mr. Merrick. "It's never won until the
last card is played. And success doesn't lie so much in the cards as the
way you play 'em. Here are three girls with plenty of shrewdness and
energy. Why don't you take a hand in the game and win it?"
"Oh, Uncle John!"
The proposition was certainly disconcerting at first.
"Yes, yes!" laughed the Major, derisively. "Put on some blue stockings,
read the history of woman's suffrage, cultivate a liking for depraved
eggs, and then face Kenneth's enraged constituents!"
"I shouldn't mind, daddy, if it would help Kenneth any," declared Patsy,
"Go on, Uncle John," said Beth, encouragingly.
"Women in politics," observed their uncle, "have often been a tremendous
power. You won't need to humiliate yourselves, my dears. All you'll need
to do is to exercise your wits and work earnestly for the cause. There
are a hundred ways to do that."
"Mention a few," proposed the Major.
"I will when I get to Elmhurst and look over the ground," answered Uncle
"You're going on, then?"
"I'll go with you," said Patsy promptly.
"So will I," said Beth. "Kenneth needs moral encouragement and support
as much as anything else, just now."
"He's imagining all sorts of horrors and making himself miserable," said
Louise. "Let's all go, Uncle, and try to cheer him up."
By this time Uncle John was smiling genially.
"Why, I was sure of you, my dears, from the first," he said. "The
Major's an old croaker, but he'd go, too, if it were not necessary for
him to stay in New York and attend to business. But we mustn't lose any
time, if we're going to direct the politics of the Eighth District
Election the eighth of November."
"I can go any time, and so can Beth," said Louise.
"All I need is the blue stockings," laughed Patsy.
"It won't be play. This means work," said Uncle John seriously.
"Well, I believe we're capable of a certain amount of work," replied
Beth. "Aren't we, girls?"
"All right," said Mr. Merrick. "I'll go and look up the next train. Go
home, Louise, and pack up. I'll telephone you."
"That bad man 'd better look out," chuckled the Major. "He doesn't
suspect that an army of invasion is coming."
"Daddy," cried Patsy, "you hush up. We mean business."
"If you win," said the Major, "I'll run for alderman on a petticoat
platform, and hire your services."
To most people the great rambling mansion at Elmhurst, with its ample
grounds and profusion of flowers and shrubbery, would afford endless
delight. But Kenneth Forbes, the youthful proprietor, was at times
dreadfully bored by the loneliness of it all, though no one could better
have appreciated the beauties of his fine estate.
The town, an insignificant village, was five miles distant, and
surrounding the mansion were many broad acres which rather isolated it
from its neighbors. Moreover, Elmhurst was the one important estate in
the county, and the simple, hard-working farmers in its vicinity
considered, justly enough, that the owner was wholly out of their class.
This was not the owner's fault, and Kenneth had brooded upon the matter
until he had come to regard it as a distinct misfortune. For it isolated
him and deprived him of any social intercourse with his neighbors.
The boy had come to live at Elmhurst when he was a mere child, but only
as a dependent upon the charities of Aunt Jane, who had accepted the
charge of the orphan because he was a nephew of her dead lover, who had
bequeathed her his estate of Elmhurst. Aunt Jane was Kenneth's aunt
merely in name, since she had never even married the uncle to whom she
had been betrothed, and who had been killed in an accident before the
boy was born.
She was an irritable old woman, as Kenneth knew her, and had never shown
him any love or consideration. He grew up in a secluded corner of the
great house, tended merely by servants and suffered to play in those
quarters of the ample grounds which Aunt Jane did not herself visit. The
neglect which Kenneth had suffered and his lonely life had influenced
the youth's temperament, and he was far from being an agreeable
companion at the time Aunt Jane summoned her three nieces to Elmhurst in
order to choose one of them as her heiress. These girls, bright, cheery
and wholesome as they were, penetrated the boy's reserve and drew him
out of his misanthropic moods. They discovered that he had remarkable
talent as an artist, and encouraged him to draw and paint, something he
had long loved to do in secret.
Then came the great surprise of the boy's life, which changed his
condition from one of dependency into affluence. Aunt Jane died and it
was discovered that she had no right to transfer the estate to one of
her nieces, because by the terms of his uncle's deed to her the property
reverted on her death to Kenneth himself. Louise Merrick, Beth DeGraf
and Patsy Doyle, the three nieces, were really glad that the boy
inherited Elmhurst, and returned to their eastern homes with the most
cordial friendship existing between them all.
Kenneth was left the master of Elmhurst and possessor of considerable
wealth besides, and at first he could scarcely realize his good fortune
or decide how to take advantage of it. He had one good and helpful
friend, an old lawyer named Watson, who had not only been a friend of
his uncle, and the confidant of Aunt Jane for years, but had taken an
interest in the lonely boy and had done his best to make his life
brighter and happier.
When Kenneth became a landed proprietor Mr. Watson was appointed his
guardian, and the genial old lawyer abandoned the practice of law and
henceforth devoted himself to his ward's welfare and service.
They made a trip to Europe together, where Kenneth studied the pictures
of the old masters and obtained instruction from some of the foremost
living artists of the old world.
It was while they were abroad, a year before the time of this story,
that the boy met Aunt Jane's three nieces again. They were "doing"
Europe in company with a wealthy bachelor uncle, John Merrick, a
generous, kind-hearted and simple-minded old gentleman who had taken the
girls "under his wing," as he expressed it, and had really provided for
their worldly welfare better than Aunt Jane, his sister, could have
This "Uncle John" was indeed a whimsical character, as the reader will
presently perceive. Becoming a millionaire "against his will," as he
declared, he had learned to know his nieces late in life, and found in
their society so much to enjoy that he was now wholly devoted to their
interests. His one friend was Major Doyle, Patsy's father, a dignified
but agreeable old Irish gentleman who amused Uncle John nearly as much
as the girls delighted him. The Major managed John Merrick's financial
affairs, leaving the old millionaire free to do as he pleased.
So he took the girls to Europe, and the four had a fine, adventurous
trip, as may be imagined. Kenneth and Mr. Watson met them in Sicily, and
afterward in the Italian cities, and the friendship already existing
between the young people was more firmly cemented than before.
In the spring Kenneth returned with his guardian to Elmhurst, where he
devoted himself largely to painting from the sketches he had made
abroad, while Mr. Watson sat beside him comfortably smoking his pipe and
reading his favorite authors. The elder man was contented enough in his
condition, but the boy grew restless and impatient, and longed for
social intercourse. His nature was moody and he had a tendency to brood
if left much to himself.
Uncle John had carried his nieces to a farm at Millville, in the
Adirondack region, for the summer, so that Kenneth heard but seldom from
Such was the disposition of the characters when our story opens.
Kenneth Forbes, although I have called him a boy, had attained his
majority on the fifteenth day of May. At this time Mr. Watson rendered
his accounts and turned over the estate to its owner. He would then have
retired, but Kenneth would not let him go. Twenty-one years of age
sounds mature, but the owner of Elmhurst was as boyish and inexperienced
as it is possible for one twenty-one years old to be. He had grown
accustomed, moreover, to depend much on Mr. Watson's legal acumen in the
management of his affairs, and would have been embarrassed and
bewildered if obliged to shoulder the burden all at once.
The lawyer, who had always had an affection for the young man, perceived
this clearly; so an arrangement was made that he should remain with his
young friend indefinitely and strive to teach him such elements of
business as would enable him in time to attend to his extensive
interests understandingly and wisely.
The country around Elmhurst is thickly settled with agriculturists, for
the farms are rich and productive in that part of the state. But it is
not a flat country, and Nature has given it many pretty woodland glades
and rocky glens to add to its charm.
From the hill country at the west came several rushing streams which
tumbled along rocky paths to the river nine miles below Elmhurst, and
there are scenes along these routes that might well delight the eye of
an artist. Kenneth had often wandered into these out-of-the-way places
when a half-forgotten, neglected lad, but had not visited them for
years. Now, however, with the spirit of loneliness upon him, he suddenly
thought of a glen that would make an interesting study for a picture; so
one morning he mounted his horse and rode away to pay the place a
The farmers along the road nodded at the young fellow good-naturedly as
he passed them. Everyone knew him well by sight, yet Kenneth could not
have named many of his neighbors, having held little intercourse with
them. It struck him, this morning, that they had little cause to be
interested in him. He had been an unsociable lad, and since he had
become master of Elmhurst had done little to cultivate acquaintance with
the people who lived around him.
One reason for this was that they held little in common with him. The
neighboring farmers were honest, thrifty souls, and among them were many
both shrewd and thoughtful; but they naturally would not force
themselves upon the society of the one really rich man in their
community, especially as that man had shown no desire to know them.
Kenneth was the subject of much speculation among them, and opinions
widely differed concerning his character. Some called him a "prig" and
declared that he was "stuck up" and conceited. Others said he was a
"namby-pamby" without brains or wit. But there were a few who had
occasionally talked with the boy, who understood him better, and hinted
that he might develop into "quite a man" in time.
Kenneth surprised himself this morning by greeting several of his
neighbors with unusual cordiality. He even stopped a man who was driving
along the highway to inquire about his horse, which he perceived was
very lame. The boy knew something about horses and suggested a method of
treatment that he thought would help the nag; a suggestion the farmer
received with real gratitude.
This simple incident cheered Kenneth more than you might suppose, and he
was actually whistling as he rode through the glen, where the country
road wound its way beside the noisy, rushing stream.
Pausing in front of the picturesque "table rock" that he had come to
inspect, the boy uttered an exclamation of chagrin and disappointment.
Painted broadly upon the face of the rock, in great white letters, was
the advertisement of a patent medicine. The beauty of the scene was
ruined--only the glaring advertisement caught and held the eye of the
At first Kenneth's mind held only a feeling of disgust that such a
desecration of Nature's gifts to humanity should be allowed. Then he
remembered another place further along the glen which was almost as
pretty as this had been before the defiling brush of the advertiser had
ruined it. So he spurred his horse and rode up the winding way to the
spot. There a red-lettered announcement of "Simpson's Soap" stared him
in the face.
This was too much for his temper, and his disappointment quickly turned
to resentment. While he sat on his mare, considering the matter, the man
with the lame horse, whom he had passed, overtook him.
"Can you tell me," Kenneth asked, "who owns this property?"
"Why, I do," replied the man, reining up.
"And you permitted these vile signs to be painted on the rocks?"
demanded the boy angrily.
"O' course," replied the man, with a grin of amusement. "I can't farm
the rocks, can I? An' these 'ere signs pays me ten dollars a year,
"I'll give you fifteen dollars a year each if you'll let me wash off the
letters and restore the scene to its original beauty," he declared.
"I'm willin'," was the response. "But ye see they're contracted. I'd git
into trouble with the sign-painter."
"Who is he?"
"Lives in Cleveland. I've got his name up t' th' house, if you'll come
along. He comes up here every spring and paints fences an' rocks, payin'
spot cash fer th' privilege."
"Oh, I see."
"Then he contracts with the soap man an' the medicine man to paint up
their ads. You're the young 'un from Elmhurst, ain't ye?"
"Well, I'd like to earn that extra five, well enough. My name's Parsons.
I've got three signs let on my property in the glen. Ef ye'll jest ride
up t' the house I'll giv' ye the feller's name."
"All right. Come along," said Kenneth, with sudden resolve.
The farmer rode a time in silent thought. He could not go fast, for the
beast was very lame. Finally he remarked:
"Ef ye buy up the sign painters, so's ye can wash off the letters, like
enough ye'll hev to pay him fer th' paint an' paintin', too."
"I don't mind," was the response.
The farmer chuckled. Here was an interesting adventure, for a fact. What
on earth could possess the "young 'un" from Elmhurst to object to signs,
and be willing to pay for having them erased?
"Like enough ye'll hev to pay back the money the soap an' medicine men
guv th' painter, too," he hazarded.
"Like enough," said Kenneth, grimly.
One of his stubborn moods had seized him. At all hazards he was resolved
to eliminate those ugly signs.
He got the name of the sign painter, accepted a glass of buttermilk at
the farm house, and then rode slowly home by another route, so that he
might not have to face the signs again.
But on this route he saw even more. They were painted on the fences and
barns as he passed along. He scowled at each one, but they did not
appear to him quite so inharmonious as those which marred the more
picturesque and retired spots which were his favorite haunts.
When Kenneth got home he told Mr. Watson of his discovery and asked the
old gentleman to write to the sign painter and find out what could be
done. The lawyer laughed heartily at his young friend's whim, but agreed
to help him.
"If you are going to try to prevent rural advertising," he remarked,
"you'll find your hands full."
Kenneth looked up smiling.
"Thank you," he said.
"For finding me something to do. I'm sick of this inaction."
Again the lawyer laughed.
"What is your idea?" he asked.
"To remove such eyesores as advertising signs from the neighborhood of
"It's a Titan's task, Ken."
"So much the better."
The lawyer grew thoughtful.
"I believe it's impossible," he ventured.
"Better yet. I don't say I'll succeed, but I promise to try. I want
something to occupy myself--something really difficult, so that I may
test my own powers."
"But, my dear boy! This foolish proposition isn't worthy your effort. If
you want to be up and doing we'll find something else to occupy your
"No, Mr. Watson; I'm set on this. It's a crime to allow these signs to
flaunt themselves in our prettiest scenes. My instinct revolts at the
desecration. Besides, no one else seems to have undertaken the task of
"True enough. If you're serious, Ken, I'll frankly say the thing can't
be done. You may, perhaps, buy the privilege of maintaining the rocks of
the glen free from advertising; but the advertisers will paint more
signs on all the approaches, and you won't have gained much."
"I'll drive every advertising sign out of this country."
"Impossible. The great corporations who control these industries make
their fortunes by this style of advertising. The rural districts are
their strongholds. And they must advertise or they can't sell their
"Let them advertise in decent ways, then. What right has any soap maker
to flaunt his wares in my face, whether I'm interested in them or not?"
"The right of custom. People have submitted to these things so long that
the manufacturers consider themselves justified in covering every barn,
rock and fence with their signs. I see no way to stop them."
"Nor I, at present. But there must be a way."
"Drive out one, and another will take his place. They pay liberally for
"Pshaw! Ten dollars a year for a rock as big as a barn!"
"But they rent thousands of such positions, and in the aggregate our
farmers get large sums from them."
"And ruin the appearance of their homes and farms."
Mr. Watson smiled.
"They're not artists, Ken. They can't realize on appearances, but they
can use the money the signs bring them."
"They need to be educated, that's all. These farmers seem very honest,
"They are, Ken. I wish you knew them better."
"So do I, Mr. Watson. This campaign ought to bring us closer together,
for I mean to get them to help me."
"You'll have to buy them, I'm afraid."
"Not all of them. There must be some refinement among them."
But the lawyer was not convinced. However, it was not his desire to
stifle this new-born enthusiasm of Kenneth's, even though he believed it
misdirected. He wanted the young man to rouse himself and take an
interest in life, and if his antagonism to advertising signs would
effect this, the futile fight against them was to be welcomed. It would
cost the boy something, but he would gain his money's worth in
After a few days the sign painter answered the letter. He would
relinquish the three signs in the glen for a payment of fifty dollars
each, with the understanding that no other competing signs were to take
their place. Kenneth promptly mailed a check for the amount demanded and
early next morning started for the glen with what he called his
These "eliminators" consisted of two men with cans of turpentine and
gasoline and an equipment of scrubbing brushes. Parsons, the farmer,
came over to watch this novel proceeding, happy in the possession of
three crisp five-dollar notes given in accordance with the agreement
made with him. All day the two men scrubbed the rocks faithfully,
assisted at odd times by their impatient employer; but the thick
splashes of paint clung desperately to the rugged surface of the rock,
and the task was a hard one. When evening came the letters had almost
disappeared when viewed closely; but when Kenneth rode to the mouth of
the glen on his way home and paused to look back, he could see the
injunction "Take Smith's Liver Pills" staring at him, in grim defiance
of the scrubbing brushes.
But his energy was not exhausted. No one ever knew what it cost in labor
and material to erase those three signs; but after ten days they had
vanished completely, and the boy heaved a sigh of satisfaction and
turned his attention to extending the campaign.
On the farm nearest to Elmhurst at the north, which belonged to a man
named Webb, was a barn, facing the road, that displayed on its side a
tobacco sign. Kenneth interviewed Mr. Webb and found that he received no
money for the sign; but the man contended that the paint preserved his
barn from the weather on that side. So Kenneth agreed to repaint the
entire barn for him, and actually had the work done. As it took many
coats of paint to blot out the sign it was rather a expensive operation.
By this time the campaign of the youthful proprietor of Elmhurst against
advertising signs began to be talked of throughout the county, and was
the subject of much merriment among the farmers. Some of them were
intelligent enough to admire the young Quixote, and acknowledged frankly
that it was a pity to decorate their premises with signs of patent
medicines and questionable soaps.
But the majority of them sneered at the champion, and many refused
point-blank to consider any proposition to discard the advertisements.
Indeed, some were proud of them, and believed it a mark of distinction
to have their fences and sheds announce an eye-remedy or several
varieties of pickles.
Mr. Watson, at first an amused observer of the campaign, soon became
indignant at the way that Kenneth was ridiculed and reviled; and he took
a hand in the fight himself. He decided to call a meeting of the
neighboring farmers at the district school-house on Saturday night,
where Kenneth could address them with logical arguments and endeavor to
win them over to his way of thinking.
The invitation was promptly accepted by the rural population; not so
much because they were interested in the novel ideas of the young artist
as because they expected to be amused by hearing the boyish master of
Elmhurst "lecture at 'em." So they filled the little room to
overflowing, and to add to the dignity of the proceedings the Hon.
Erastus Hopkins, State Representative for the district, lent his
presence to the assemblage.
Not that the Honorable Erastus cared a fig about this foolish talk of
exterminating advertising signs. He was himself a large stockholder in a
breakfast-food factory, which painted signs wherever it could secure
space. These signs were not works of art, but they were distinctly
helpful to business, and only a fool, in the opinion of the Honorable
Erastus, would protest against the inevitable.
What brought the legislator to the meeting was the fact that he was
coming forward for re-election in November, and believed that this
afforded a good chance to meet some of his constituents and make a
favorable impression. So he came early and shook hands with everyone
that arrived, and afterward took as prominent a seat as possible.
Indeed, the gathering had at first the appearance of being a political
one, so entirely did the Representative dominate it. But Mr. Watson took
the platform and shyly introduced the speaker of the evening.
The farmers all knew Mr. Watson, and liked him; so when Kenneth rose
they prepared to listen in respectful silence.
Usually a young man making his maiden speech is somewhat diffident; but
young Forbes was so thoroughly in earnest and so indignant at the
opposition that his plans had encountered that he forgot that it was his
first public speech and thought only of impressing his hearers with his
views, exulting in the fact that on this occasion they could not "talk
back," as they usually did in private when he tried to argue with them.
So he exhorted them earnestly to keep their homes beautiful and free
from the degradation of advertising, and never to permit glaring
commercialism to mar the scenery around them. He told them what he had
been able to accomplish by himself, in a short time; how he had redeemed
the glen from its disgraceful condition and restored it to its former
beauty. He asked them to observe Webb's pretty homestead, no longer
marred by the unsightly sign upon the barn. And then he appealed to them
to help him in driving all the advertising signs out of the community.
When he ended they applauded his speech mildly; but it was chiefly for
the reason that he had spoken so forcibly and well.
Then the Honorable Erastus Hopkins, quick to catch the lack of sympathy
in the audience, stood up and begged leave to reply to young Forbes.
He said the objection to advertising signs was only a rich man's
aristocratic hobby, and that it could not be indulged in a democratic
community of honest people. His own firm, he said, bought thousands of
bushels of oats from the farmers and converted them into the celebrated
Eagle-Eye Breakfast Food, three packages for a quarter. They sold this
breakfast food to thousands of farmers, to give them health and strength
to harvest another crop of oats. Thus he "benefited the community going
and coming." What! Should he not advertise this mutual-benefit commodity
wherever he pleased, and especially among the farmers? What aristocratic
notion could prevent him? It was a mighty good thing for the farmers to
be reminded, by means of the signs on their barns and fences, of the
things they needed in daily life.
If the young man at Elmhurst would like to be of public service he might
find some better way to do so than by advancing such crazy ideas. But
this, continued the Representative, was a subject of small importance.
What he wished especially to call their attention to was the fact that
he had served the district faithfully as Representative, and deserved
their suffrages for renomination. And then he began to discuss political
questions in general and his own merits in particular, so that Kenneth
and Mr. Watson, disgusted at the way in which the Honorable Erastus had
captured the meeting, left the school-house and indignantly returned to
"This man Hopkins," said Mr. Watson, angrily, "is not a gentleman. He's
an impertinent meddler."
"He ruined any good effect my speech might have created," said Kenneth,
"Give it up, my boy," advised the elder man, laying a kindly hand on the
youth's shoulder. "It really isn't worth the struggle."
"But I can't give it up and acknowledge myself beaten," protested
Kenneth, almost ready to weep with disappointment.
"Well, well, let's think it over, Ken, and see what can be done. Perhaps
that rascally Hopkins was right when he advised you to find some other
way to serve the community."
"I can't do better than to make it clean--to do away with these
disreputable signs," said the boy, stubbornly.
"You made a fine speech," declared Mr. Watson, gravely puffing his pipe.
"I am very proud of you, my lad."
Kenneth flushed red. He was by nature shy and retiring to a degree. Only
his pent-up enthusiasm had carried him through the ordeal, and now that
it was over he was chagrined to think that the speech had been so
ineffective. He was modest enough to believe that another speaker might
have done better.
KENNETH TAKES A BOLD STEP
"This man Hopkins gets on my nerves," said Mr. Watson, a week or two
after the eventful meeting in the school-house. He was at the breakfast
table opposite Kenneth, and held up a big, glaring post-card which was
in his mail.
"What is it now?" asked the boy, rousing himself from a fit of
"An announcement offering himself for renomination at the primaries.
It's like a circus advertisement. Isn't it a shame to think that modern
politics has descended to such a level in our free and enlightened
Kenneth nodded, stirring his coffee thoughtfully. He had lost his spirit
and enthusiasm since the meeting, and was fast relapsing into his old
state of apathy and boredom. It grieved Mr. Watson to note this.
"Hopkins isn't fit to be the Representative for this district," observed
the old gentleman, with sudden energy.
The boy looked at him.
"Who is Hopkins?" he asked.
"His mother once kept a stationery shop in town, and he was stable boy
at the hotel. But he was shrewd and prospered, and when he grew up
became a county-clerk or tax-collector; then an assessor, and finally he
ran last term for State Representative from this district and was
elected by a mighty small majority."
"Why small?" asked Kenneth.
"Because he's a Democrat, and the district is strongly Republican. But
Thompson ran against him on the Republican ticket and couldn't win his
"The general store keeper. He has a reputation for short weights and
The boy sipped his coffee thoughtfully.
"Tell me, sir; how did you happen to know all this?" he asked.
"I've been looking up Hopkins's record. I have disliked the man ever
since he treated us so shabbily on the night of the meeting."
"Never mind him. We've done with him."
Mr. Watson shifted uneasily in his chair.
"I wonder if we have?" he said.
"Why not, sir?"
"Well, Kenneth, we have to reside at Elmhurst, which is Hopkins's
district. Also I believe Elmhurst to be the most important estate in the
district, and you to be the largest taxpayer. This man wishes to go to
the State Legislature and make laws for you to obey."
"Well, it's our duty to watch him. If he isn't a fit man it's our duty
to prevent him from representing us."
The young man nodded somewhat dreamily.
"Some of these country yokels must represent us," he observed. "It
doesn't matter much whether it's Hopkins or someone else."
"Except that you, being a prominent man, owe it to the community to
protect its interests," added the lawyer.
"Do you want me to mix in these petty politics?" asked the boy,
"Oh, do as you like, my boy. If you can shirk your duties with a clear
conscience, I've nothing to say."
For a time the young man was silent. Finally he asked:
"Why isn't Hopkins a good Representative?"
"He's what is called a 'grafter'; a term signifying that he is willing
to vote for any measure that he is paid to vote for, whether it benefits
his constituents or not."
"Oh. Is he singular in this?"
"By no means. The 'grafter' is all too common in politics."
Again the boy fell into a thoughtful mood.
"Mr. Watson, am I a Democrat or a Republican?"
The old gentleman laughed outright.
"Don't you know, Ken?"
"No, sir, I haven't asked myself before."
"Then I advise you to be a Republican."
"Because Hopkins is a Democrat, and we may then fight him openly."
"What is the difference, sir, between the two parties?"
"There is no difference of importance. All Americans are loyal citizens,
whichever side they adopt in politics. But the two parties are the
positive and negative poles that provide the current of electricity for
our nation, and keep it going properly. Also they safeguard our
interests by watching one another."
"What is your preference, sir?"
"I've always been a Republican, whenever I dabbled in politics, which
hasn't been often."
"Then I will be a Republican."
"I am sorry to say that I know nothing about politics and have no
convictions on the subject. Who is to oppose the Honorable Erastus on
the--on our side?"
"I don't know yet. The primaries for the nomination are not to be held
for two weeks, and the Republican candidates seem shy about coming
"Didn't you say the district was Republican?"
"Yes; but since Hopkins defeated them last term they seem to be
terrified, and no one likes to offer himself as a possible sacrifice."
"That feeling will probably elect Mr. Hopkins," declared Kenneth, with
"Unless what, sir?"
"Unless we come to the rescue of the Republicans and take a hand in
local politics ourselves, my lad."
Kenneth pushed back his chair and rose from the table. He walked to the
window and stood there whistling for a few moments, and then left the
room without a word.
For a time Mr. Watson sat silently musing.
"Perhaps I'm inviting trouble," he murmured; "but I am sure I am doing
right. The boy needs a good shaking up and more knowledge of his
fellow-men. If I can get Kenneth interested, this plan of mine will be
of great benefit to him."
Then he, too, left the breakfast table, and wandering into the garden
saw Kenneth busy at his easel in a shady corner.
For a day or so the, subject was not resumed, and then Mr. Watson
casually introduced it.
"A law could be passed in the State Legislature forbidding the display
of all advertising signs in public places in this county," he suggested.
The boy looked at him eagerly.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"I am positive," was the answer. "It is merely a question of privilege."
"And you think we might hire Hopkins to pass such a law?"
"No; we couldn't trust him."
"Then what do you propose?"
"I'll think it over, my lad, and let you know."
Then he walked away, leaving Kenneth much pleased with the idea he had
advanced. Indeed, he was so much interested in the suggestion that he
himself referred to the subject at the first opportunity.
"I don't like to be beaten, sir, once I've undertaken to do a thing," he
said. "So if such a law can be passed I'll do all I can to elect the man
who will pass it."
"I thought as much," the old lawyer replied, smiling. "But there's only
one man who could go to the legislature with enough influence to win the
votes to carry such a unique measure through."
"And who is that, sir?"
"Kenneth Forbes, the owner of Elmhurst, and the largest taxpayer in the
"You're the man."
"A State Representative?"
"It's an honorable office. It's an important office, properly filled.
You might not only beautify your district by having those objectionable
signs prohibited, but do many other things to better the condition of
the farmers. And that isn't all."
"What's the rest, Mr. Watson?"
"You owe something to yourself, lad. All your young life you've been too
self-contained and exclusive in your habits. 'The noblest study of
mankind is man.' It would broaden you to go into politics for a time,
and do much to develop your character and relieve the monotony of your
"It won't be easy, you know. It'll be a fight, and a hard one, for
Hopkins won't give up his job if he can help it."
The boy brightened again.
"I like a good fight," he said, wistfully. "If I thought--if I believed
I could fill the position with credit--I might undertake it."
"I'll answer for that," retorted the old man, highly pleased with his
easy victory. "You win the fight, Ken, and I'll guarantee you'll
outclass the majority of your fellow Representatives. It's a good state,
So the thing was undertaken, and both the young man and the old threw
themselves into the contest with energy and determination.
Mr. Watson rode in his buggy all over their district during the next
fortnight, and interviewed the farmers and townsmen of the legislative
district. When it became noised about that the young owner of Elmhurst,
now barely twenty-one, had determined to enter politics, and asked for
the nomination of Representative, no other Republican ventured to oppose
It was understood to mean a hard fight, and even the most sturdy
Republican was inclined to fear that the present incumbent of the office
would be elected to succeed himself.
So the primaries were held and Kenneth attended and made a speech, and
was warmly applauded. His nomination was a matter of course, and he went
home the unanimous choice of his party, because none of the older and
more discreet politicians ventured to risk defeat.
The Hon. Erastus Hopkins well knew this feeling, and smiled in his
pompous and most sardonic manner when he learned who was his opponent.
Having conquered an old and tried Republican warrior in the last
campaign, he had no fears in regard to this mere boy, who could know
little of political intrigue.
"He won't put up enough of a fight to make it interesting, I'm afraid,"
Mr. Hopkins confided to his cronies.
But he didn't intend to take chances, so he began the campaign with his
It was now the middle of September, and the election was to be early in
PLANNING THE WORK
The Honorable Erastus Hopkins was thoroughly enjoying his campaign.
He was not an especially popular man in his district, and he knew it.
Physically he was big and stout, with a florid face and small eyes that
blinked continually. His head was bald, his hands fat and red and his
To offset this Mr. Hopkins wore a silk hat and a "Prince Albert" coat
morning, noon and night. His gold watch-chain was huge and imposing; he
had a big diamond shirt-stud, and upon his puffy fingers several rings.
He conveyed, nevertheless, the impression that he was more prosperous
than refined, and the farmers and townsmen were as quick to recognize
this as was Mr. Watson himself.
Moreover, the Honorable Erastus was dubbed "close-fisted" by his
neighbors. He never spent a penny on anyone but himself, and being
unscrupulous in politics he was naturally unscrupulous in smaller things
of a business nature. But since he had risen from a stable-boy to his
present affluent position he had never been unwise or careless enough to
be caught in any crooked action; and while his acquaintances had an
indefinite fear of dealing with him they could not accuse him openly.
It seems strange that such a man should have been chosen to represent a
wealthy and important district in the State Legislature, but politics
can show many a similar case. In the first place, Mr. Hopkins was
aggressive, and knew political methods thoroughly. He had usurped the
position of Democratic leader in his community and the others were
afraid to antagonize him openly. When he was nominated for
Representative he managed to dictate, by shrewd methods, the nomination
of Thompson, the store-keeper, on the Republican ticket. Thompson owed
Hopkins a large sum of money and Hopkins held a mortgage on the stock.
Therefore Thompson dared not make a fight, and although the Republican
vote was normally the largest in the district, Hopkins had managed to
win enough of them to his side to win.
He had been a little anxious about his renomination, because he knew
that he had not represented his district very satisfactorily; but when
Kenneth Forbes received the nomination on the Republican ticket he felt
that "all was over but the shouting" and that he would "win in a walk."
Had it been an issue between the personality of the two men, Hopkins
would have had little chance of success; but young Forbes had already
raised another issue by his anti-sign speech at the school-house, and
Hopkins intended to force that issue and so defeat Kenneth because of
the ridicule the latter's position had already brought upon him.
He began to circulate humorous stories about Kenneth's antipathy to
sign-boards, saying that the young man demanded that the signs be taken
off the Zodiac, and that he wouldn't buy goods of the village grocer
because the man had a sign out.
Mr. Hopkins also printed thousands of large hand-bills reading "The
Signs of the Times vs. Aristocratic Snobbery. Vote for the Hon. Erastus
Hopkins, the man who believes in advertising."
These things had their effect upon all classes of people. There were
many good-natured laughs at young Forbes's expense. All this was soon
realized at Elmhurst, and had the effect of plunging the youthful
aspirant for political honors into the depths of despair. The campaign
was hot against him, but Kenneth made no defense.
At this juncture, with election but three weeks away, he received a
telegram asking him to send the drag and baggage wagon to the noon
train. It was signed by John Merrick, and the boy was overjoyed at the
prospect of seeing his jolly old friend again. And the girls? Well, some
of them surely must be coming, or Uncle John wouldn't have asked for the
"Now then, the election can go to blazes," said Kenneth, cheerfully, to
Mr. Watson. "The sight of some friendly faces will be a great relief."
The old lawyer sighed. His attempt to "wake up" Kenneth had resulted in
failure, mainly because the boy had become discouraged so early in the
game. Kenneth felt keenly the humiliating experiences he had passed
through, and had sunk back into his old moody reserve.
But here was a welcome diversion. The visitors, whoever they might prove
to be, would afford relief to the situation and brighten the dullness of
life at the big house. So both Kenneth and Mr. Watson were with the drag
at the station when the noon train drew in.
And there were Patsy Doyle, Beth DeGraf, and Louise Merrick, a bevy of
dainty and sprightly girls, alighting eagerly from the coaches, with
Uncle John handing out the grips and packages and giving the checks for
the baggage, with business-like celerity, to Thomas the groom.
"We've come for a visit, Ken!" cried Palsy, laughing at his eager
delight. "Are you glad to see us, boy? And do you suppose old Martha has
our rooms aired?"
"And it's a long visit, too," added Uncle John, "as you'll believe when
you see the pile of baggage. You'd think these minxes were prepared for
a tour of the world. Each one of 'em brought a carload of clothes."
But they couldn't phase Kenneth in that way. His sensitive face had not
beamed with so much animation for months.
The guests were helped into the tall drag and merrily they drove the
five miles to Elmhurst, not a word of politics being spoken on the way.
The girls had not been to the house since Aunt Jane's death, two years
ago, and after a hasty luncheon they began an inspection of every room,
as well as the garden, grounds and stables. The horses, cows, pig and
chickens were alike inspected, the roses and dahlias visited and
admired, and after all this they returned to their rooms with old
Martha, the housekeeper, and proceeded to unpack their trunks and get
settled. Kenneth had been their guide and companion in these various
explorations, but when the girls went to their rooms he wandered into
the library where Uncle John and Mr. Watson had been having a quiet talk
over their pipes of tobacco. They welcomed the young man, but adroitly
turned the topic of conversation, and again the subject of was rejoined.
It was a merry dinner party that graced the table during dinner that
evening, and the boy forgot his troubles and was as jolly and sociable
as he had ever been in his life.
But when they were all assembled in the long living room where they
grouped themselves around the fireplace, a sudden change took place in
the demeanor of the young ladies. Patsy, the delegated leader, looked
gravely at the boy and asked:
"How goes the campaign, Ken?"
"Wh--what campaign?" he stammered, to gain time.
"Why, this election business. Tell us about it," said Patsy.
"Some other time, girls," answered the boy, red and distressed. "It--it
wouldn't interest you a bit."
"Why not?" asked Louise, softly.
"Because it doesn't interest me," he replied.
"Are you so sure of election?" inquired Beth.
"I'm sure of defeat, if you must know," he declared, scowling at the
recollection of his predicament.
"You haven't been cowardly enough to give up?" asked Patricia, boldly.
"What do you mean by that, Patsy Doyle?" he asked, the scowl deepening.
"Just what I say, Ken. A brave man doesn't know when he's beaten, much
He looked at her fixedly.
"I'm not brave, my dear," he replied, more gently than they had
expected. "The people here don't understand me, nor I them. I'm laughed
at and reviled, a subject for contemptuous jeers, and--and it hurts me.
I don't like to be beaten. I'd fight to the last gasp, if I had any show
to win. But these conditions, which I foolishly but honestly brought
about myself, have defeated me so far in advance that I have absolutely
no hope to redeem myself. That's all. Don't speak of it again, girls.
Play me that nocturne that I like, Beth."
"We've got to speak of this, Kenneth, and speak of it often. For we
girls have come down here to electioneer, and for no other reason on
earth," declared Patsy.
"What! You electioneer?"--a slight smile curled his lips.
"Exactly. We're here to brace up and get to work."
"And to win," added Beth, quietly.
"And to put you in the Legislature where you belong," declared Louise.
Kenneth turned to Mr. Merrick.
"Talk to them, Uncle John," he begged.
"I have," said the little man, smiling, "and they've convinced me that
they mean business. It's all up with you, my boy, as a private citizen.
You're as good as elected."
Ken's eyes filled.
"You're all very kind, sir," he said, "as you were bound to be. And--and
I appreciate it all--very much. But Mr. Watson will tell you that the
case is hopeless, and there's nothing to be done."
"How about it, Watson?" inquired Uncle John, turning to the lawyer.
"I'll explain the proposition, sir, so you will all understand it," he
replied, and drew his chair into the circle. "To begin with, Kenneth
visited the glen one day, to make a sketch, and found his old table-rock
covered with an advertising sign."
"How preposterous!" exclaimed Louise.
"There were three of these huge signs in different parts of the glen,
and they ruined its natural beauty. Kenneth managed to buy up the spaces
and then he scrubbed away the signs. By that time he had come to detest
the unsightly advertisements that confronted him every time he rode out,
and he began a war of extermination against them."
"Quite right," said Patsy, nodding energetically.
"But our friend made little headway because the sympathies of the people
were not with him."
"Why not, sir?" inquired Beth, while Kenneth sat inwardly groaning at
this baring of his terrible experiences.
"Because through custom they had come to tolerate such things, and could
see no harm in them," replied the lawyer. "They permit their buildings
which face the roads to be covered with big advertisements, and the
fences are decorated in the same way. In some places a sign-board has
been built in their yards or fields, advertising medicines or groceries
or tobacco. In other words, our country roads and country homes have
become mere advertising mediums to proclaim the goods of more or less
unscrupulous manufacturers, and so all their attractiveness is
destroyed. Kenneth, being a man of artistic instincts and loving country
scenes, resented this invasion of commercialism and tried to fight it."
"And so ran my head against a stone wall," added the young man, with a
"But you were quite right," said Patsy, decidedly. "Such things ought
not to be permitted."
"The people think differently," he replied.
"Then we must educate the people to a different way of thinking,"
"In three weeks?"
"That is long enough, if we get to work. Isn't it, girls?" said Beth.
"Kenneth accepted the nomination with the idea of having a law passed
prohibiting such signs," explained the lawyer. "But Mr. Hopkins, his
opponent, has used this very thing to arouse public sentiment against
him. Farmers around here are thrifty people, and they fear to lose the
trifling sums paid them for the privilege of painting signs on their
Patsy nodded gravely.
"We will change all that," she said. "The thing is really more serious
than we expected, and more difficult. But we came here to work and win,
and we're going to do it. Aren't we, Uncle John?"
"I'll bet on your trio, Patsy," replied her uncle. "But I won't bet all
"It's all foolishness," declared Kenneth.
"I do not think so," said the lawyer, gravely. "The girls have a fine
show to win. I know our country people, and they are more intelligent
than you suppose. Once they are brought to a proper way of thinking they
will support Kenneth loyally."
"Then we must bring them to a proper way of thinking," said Patsy, with
decision. "From this time on, Ken, we become your campaign managers.
Don't worry any more about the matter. Go on with your painting and be
happy. We may require you to make a few speeches, but all the details
will be arranged for you."
"Do you intend to permit this, Uncle John?" asked Kenneth.
"I'm wholly in sympathy with the girls, Ken, and I believe in them."
"But consider the humiliation to which they will subject themselves!
I've had a taste of that medicine, myself."
"We're going to be the most popular young ladies in this district!"
exclaimed Patsy. "Don't you worry about us, Ken. But tell me, how big is
"It includes parts of three counties--Monroe, Washington and Jackson
"What county is this?"
"No; only a few towns. It's mostly a rural district. Fairview, just
across the border in Washington County, is the biggest village."
"Have you an automobile?"
"No; I don't like the things. I've always loved horses and prefer them
"How much money are you prepared to spend?"
"How much--what's that?" he asked, bewildered.
"You can't win a political election without spending money," declared
Patsy, wisely. "I'll bet the bad man is scattering money in every
direction. It will cost something on our side to run this campaign in a
way to win."
The young man frowned.
"I don't mind spending money, Patsy," he said, "but I don't approve of
buying votes, and I won't allow it, either!"
"Tut-tut! Who said anything about buying votes? But we're going to work
on a broad and liberal basis, I assure you, and we need money."
"Spend all you like, then, so long as you don't try to corrupt the
"Very good. Now, then, how much land do you own at Elmhurst?"
Kenneth looked inquiringly at the lawyer.
"About twelve hundred acres," said Mr. Watson. "It is divided into small
farms which are let out on shares."
"How many votes do you control among your servants and tenants?"
proceeded Patsy, in a business-like tone.
"Perhaps thirty or forty."
"And what is the total vote of the district?"
"Fully that many," said Mr. Watson, smiling.
"Then we've got to have over seventeen hundred and fifty votes to elect
The girl drew a long breath and looked at Beth and Louise. Then they all
"Suppose you resign as campaign managers," said Kenneth, beginning to be
"Oh, no! It's--it's easier than we expected. Isn't it, girls?"
"It's child's play," observed Louise, languidly.
The boy was astonished.
"Very well," said he. "Try it and see."
"Of course," said Patsy, cheerfully. "Tomorrow morning we begin work."
A GOOD START
At an early breakfast next morning Patsy announced the program for the
"Uncle John and I will drive over to the village," she said, "and
perhaps we'll be gone all day. Don't worry if we're not back for
luncheon. Louise and Mr. Watson are going in the phaeton to visit some
of the near-by farmers. Take one road, dear, and follow it straight
along, as far as it keeps within our legislative district, and visit
every farm-house on the way."
"The farmers will all be busy in the fields," said Kenneth.
"Louise doesn't care about the farmers," retorted Patsy. "She's going to
talk to their wives."
"Wives don't vote, Patsy."
"They tell their husbands how to vote, though," declared Louise, with a
laugh. "Let me win the women and I'll win the men."
"What am I to do?" asked Beth.
"You're to stay at home and write several articles for the newspapers.
There are seven important papers in our district, and five of them are
Republican. Make a strong argument, Beth. You're our publicity
department. Also get up copy for some hand-hills and circular letters. I
want to get a circular letter to every voter in the district."
"All right," said Beth. "I know what you want."
There was an inspiring air of business about these preparations, and the
girls were all eager to begin work. Scarcely was breakfast finished when
the two equipages were at the door. Louise and Mr. Watson at once
entered the phaeton and drove away, the girl delighted at the prospect
of visiting the farmers' wives and winning them by her plausible
speeches. Conversation was Louise's strong point. She loved to talk and
argue, and her manner was so confiding and gracious that she seldom
failed to interest her listeners.
Patsy and Uncle John drove away. In Kenneth's buggy to the town, and
during the five-mile drive Patsy counseled gravely with her shrewd uncle
in regard to "ways and means."
"This thing requires prompt action, Patsy," he said, "and if we're going
to do things that count they've got to be done on a big scale."
"True," she admitted. "But oughtn't we to be a little careful about
spending Kenneth's money?"
"I'll be your temporary banker," said the old gentleman, "and keep track
of the accounts. If we win we'll present Kenneth our bill, and if we
fail I'll have the satisfaction of getting rid of some of that dreadful
income that is swamping me."
This was always Uncle John's cry. His enormous fortune was a constant
bugbear to him. He had been so interested in his business enterprises
for many years that he had failed to realize how his fortune was
growing, and it astounded him to wake up one day and find himself
possessed of many millions. He had at once retired from active business
and invested his millions in ways that would cause him the least
annoyance; but the income on so large a sum was more than he could take
care of, and even Major Doyle, who managed these affairs for his
brother-in-law, was often puzzled to know what to do with the money that
Doubtless no one will ever know how much good these two kindly men
accomplished between them in their quiet, secretive way. Dozens of
deserving young men were furnished capital to start them in business;
dozens more were being educated at universities at Uncle John's expense.
Managers of worthy charities were familiar with John Merrick's signature
on checks, and yet the vast fortune grew with leaps and bounds. Mr.
Merrick's life was so simple and unostentatious that his personal
expenses, however erratic some of his actions, could not make much
headway against his interest account, and nothing delighted him more
than to find a way to "get even with fate by reckless squandering," as
he quaintly expressed it. He was far too shrewd to become the prey of
designing people, but welcomed any legitimate channel in which to unload
So Mr. Merrick had been revolving the possibilities of this unique
political campaign in his mind, and had decided to do some things that
would open the bucolic eyes of Kenneth's constituents in wonder. He did
not confide all his schemes to Patsy, but having urged his nieces to
attempt this conquest he had no intention of allowing them to suffer
defeat if he could help it.
The little town of Elmwood was quiet and practically deserted when they
drove into it. The farmers were too busy with the harvest to "come to
town for trading" except on Saturdays, and the arrival and departure of
the two daily trains did not cause more than a ripple of excitement in
Patsy decided she would shop at each and every store in the place, and
engage the store-keepers in conversation about the election.
"It's important to win these people," she declared, "because they are
close to every farmer who comes to town to trade; and their own votes
"I'll run over to the bank," said Uncle John, "and get acquainted
So he tied the horses to a post and let Patsy proceed alone upon her
mission, while he wandered over to a little brick building of neat
appearance which bore the inscription "Bank" in gold letters on its
"Mr. Warren in?" he asked the clerk at the window.
The banker, a dignified old gentleman of considerable ability, came out
of his private office and greeted his visitor very cordially. He had
known Uncle John when the millionaire visited Elmhurst two years before,
and since then had learned more particulars concerning him. So there was
no need of an introduction, and Mr. Warren was delighted at the prospect
of business relations with this famous personage.
The bank, although small and only one story high, was the most modern
and imposing building in the village; and it was fitted with modern
conveniences, for Mr. Warren had been successful and prosperous. In his
private office were local and long distance telephones, a direct
connection with the telegraph operator at the station, and other
facilities for accomplishing business promptly. Uncle John had
remembered this fact, and it had a prominent place in his plans.
He followed the banker into his private office and told him briefly his
intention to forward the interests of his young friend Kenneth Forbes
for Member of the Legislature.
The old gentleman shook his head, at first, predicting failure. Young
Forbes was his most important customer, and he respected him highly; but
this anti-sign issue bade fair to ruin all his chances.
"The idea is too progressive and advanced to be considered at this
time," he stated, positively. "The encroachments of advertisers on
personal property may lead to a revolt in the future, but it is still
too early to direct popular opinion against them."
"Isn't Forbes a better man for the place than Hopkins?" asked Uncle
"Undoubtedly, sir. And I think Forbes would have won, had not Hopkins
forced this unfortunate issue upon him. As it is, our young friend
cannot avoid the consequences of his quixotic action."
"He doesn't wish to avoid them," was the quiet reply. "We're going to
win on that issue or not at all."
"I'm afraid it's hopeless, sir."
"May I count on your assistance?"
"In every way."
"Thank you, Mr. Warren, I'm going to spend a lot of money. Put this
draft for fifty thousand to my credit as a starter."
"Ah, I begin to understand. But--"
"You don't understand at all, yet. May I use your long distance
"Of course, sir."
Uncle John had secured considerable information from Mr. Watson, and
this enabled him to act comprehensively. The advertising sign business
in this part of the state was controlled by two firms, who contracted
directly with the advertisers and then had the signs painted upon spaces
secured from the farmers by their wide-awake agents. These signs were
contracted for by the year, but the firms controlling the spaces always
inserted protective clauses that provided for the removal of any sign
when certain conditions required such removal. In such cases a rebate
was allowed to the advertiser. This protective clause was absolutely
necessary in case of fire, alteration or removal of buildings or
destruction of fences and sign-boards by weather or the requirements of
the owners. It was this saving clause in the contracts of which Uncle
John had decided to take advantage. The contracting sign painters were
merely in the business to make money.
Mr. Merrick got the head of the concern in Cleveland over the telephone
within half an hour. He talked with the man at length, and talked with
the convincing effect that the mention of money has. When he hung up the
receiver Uncle John was smiling. Then he called for the Chicago firm.
With this second advertising company he met with more difficulties, and
Mr. Warren had to come to the telephone and assure the man that Mr.
Merrick was able to pay all he agreed to, and that the money was on
deposit in his bank. That enabled Mr. Merrick to conclude his
arrangements. He knew that he was being robbed, but the co-operation of
the big Chicago firm was necessary to his plans.
Then, the telephone having served its purpose, Mr. Warren took Uncle
John across the street to the newspaper office and introduced him to
Charley Briggs, the editor.
Briggs was a man with one eye, a sallow complexion and sandy hair that
stuck straight up from his head. He set type for his paper, besides
editing it, and Uncle John found him wearing a much soiled apron, with
his bare arms and fingers smeared with printer's ink.
"Mr. Merrick wants to see you on business, Charley," said the banker.
"Whatever he agrees to I will guarantee, to the full resources of my
The editor pricked up his ears and dusted a chair for his visitor with
his apron. It wasn't easy to make a living running a paper in Elmwood,
and if there was any business pending he was anxious to secure it.
Uncle John waited until Mr. Warren had left him alone with the newspaper
man. Then he said:
"I understand your paper is Democratic, Mr. Briggs."
"That's a mistake, sir," replied the editor, evasively. "The Herald is
really independent, but in political campaigns we adopt the side we
consider the most deserving of support."
"You're supporting Hopkins just now."
"Only mildly; only mildly, sir."
"What is he paying you?"
"Why, 'Rast and I haven't come to a definite settlement yet. I ought to
get a hundred dollars out of this campaign, but 'Rast thinks fifty is
enough. You see, he plans on my support anyhow, and don't like to spend
more than he's obliged to."
"Why does he plan on your support?"
"He's the only live one in the game, Mr. Merrick. 'Rast is one of
us--he's one of the people--and it's policy for me to support him
instead of the icicle up at Elmhurst, who don't need the job and don't
care whether he gets it or not."
"Is that true?"
"I think so. And there's another thing. Young Forbes is dead against
advertising, and advertising is the life of a newspaper. Why, there
isn't a paper in the district that's supporting Forbes this year."
"You've a wrong idea of the campaign, Mr. Briggs," said Uncle John. "It
is because Mr. Forbes believes in newspaper advertising, and wants to
protect it, that he's against these signs. That's one reason, anyhow.
Can't you understand that every dollar spent for painting signs takes
that much away from your newspapers?"
"Why, perhaps there's something in that, Mr. Merrick. I'd never looked
at it that way before."
"Now, see here, Mr. Briggs. I'll make you a proposition. I'll give you
two hundred and fifty to support Mr. Forbes in this campaign, and if
he's elected I'll give you five hundred extra."
"Do you mean that, sir?" asked the editor, scarcely able to believe the
evidence of his ears.
"I do. Draw up a contract and I'll sign it. And here's a check for your
two-fifty in advance."
The editor drew up the agreement with a pen that trembled a little.
"And now," said Uncle John, "get busy and hustle for Kenneth Forbes."
"I will, sir," said Briggs, with unexpected energy. "I mean to win that
extra five hundred!"
PATSY MAKES PROGRESS
Meantime Patsy was in the thick of the fray. The druggist was a
deep-dyed Democrat, and sniffed when she asked him what he thought of
Forbes for Representative.
"He's no politician at all--just an aristocrat," declared Latham, a
dapper little man with his hair slicked down to his ears and a waxed
moustache. "And he's got fool notions, too. If he stopped the
advertising signs I wouldn't sell half as many pain-killers and
"He's my cousin," said Patsy, mendaciously; for although they called
themselves cousins there was no relationship even of marriage, as
Patsy's Aunt Jane had merely been betrothed to Kenneth's uncle when he
"I'm sorry for that, miss," replied the druggist. "He's going to be
"I think I'll take two ounces of this perfumery. It is really
delightful. Some druggists have so little taste in selecting such
"Yes, miss, I do rather pride myself on my perfumes," replied Latham,
graciously. "Now here's a sachet powder that gives fine satisfaction."
"I'll take a couple of packets of that, too, since you recommend it."
Latham began doing up the purchases. There was no other customer in the
"You know, miss, I haven't anything against Mr. Forbes myself. His
people are good customers. It's his ideas I object to, and he's a
"Haven't you ever voted for a Republican?" asked the girl. "Don't you
think it better to vote for the best man, rather than the best party, in
a case like this?"
"Why, perhaps it is. But in what way is Mr. Forbes the best man?"
"He's honest. He doesn't want to make any money out of the office. On
the contrary, he's willing and able to spend a good deal in passing laws
that will benefit his district."
"Don't you know Mr. Hopkins?" she asked, pointedly.
"Yes, miss; I do." And Latham frowned a little.
"As regards the advertising signs," continued the girl, "I've heard you
spoken of as a man of excellent taste, and I can believe it since I've
examined the class of goods you keep. And your store is as neat and
attractive as can be. The fight is not against the signs themselves, but
against putting them on fences and barns, and so making great glaring
spots in a landscape where all should be beautiful and harmonious. I
suppose a man of your refinement and good taste has often thought of
that, and said the same thing."
"Why--ahem!--yes; of course, miss. I agree with you that the signs are
often out of place, and--and inharmonious."
"To be sure; and so you must sympathize with Mr. Forbes's campaign."
"In that way, yes; of course," said Mr. Latham, puzzled to find himself
changing front so suddenly.
"Mr. Hopkins has taken a lot of money out of this town," remarked Patsy,
examining a new kind of tooth wash. "But I can't find that he's ever
given much of it back."
"That's true. He buys his cigars of Thompson, the general store man, and
I keep the finest line ever brought to this town."
"Oh, that reminds me!" exclaimed Patsy. "Mr. Forbes wanted me to
purchase a box of your choicest brand, and have you just hand them out
to your customers with his compliments. He thinks he ought to show a
little cordiality to the men who vote for him, and he said you would
know just the people to give them to."
Latham gasped, but he assumed an air of much importance.
"I know every man that comes to this town, miss, as well as any you'll
find," he said.
"The best brand, mind you, Mr. Latham," said the girl. "How much will
"Why, the very best--these imported perfectos, you know--are worth six
dollars a box of fifty. Perhaps for election purposes something a little
"Oh, no; the best is none too good for the friends of Mr. Forbes, you
know. And fifty--why fifty will scarcely go around. I'll pay for a
hundred, Mr. Latham, and you'll see they go to the right persons."
"Of course; of course, miss. And much obliged. You see, young Forbes is
well liked, and he's quite a decent fellow. I wouldn't be surprised if
he gave Hopkins a hard fight."
"I'll tell you a secret," said Patsy, sweetly. "Mr. Forbes is bound to
be elected. Why, it's all arranged in advance, Mr. Latham, and the
better element, like yourself, is sure to support him. By the way, you
won't forget to tell people about those signs, I hope? That the fight is
not against advertising, but for beautiful rural homes and scenes."
"Oh, I'll fix that, Miss--"
"Doyle. I'm Miss Doyle, Mr. Forbes's cousin."
"I'll see that the people understand this campaign, Miss Doyle. You can
depend on me."
"And if the cigars give out, don't hesitate to open more boxes. I'll
call in, now and then, and settle for them."
I really think this young lady might have been ashamed of herself; but
she wasn't. She smiled sweetly upon the druggist when he bowed her out,
and Mr. Latham from that moment began to seek for friends of Mr. Forbes
to give cigars to. If they were not friends, he argued with them until
they were, for he was an honest little man, in his way, and tried to act
in good faith.
So the girl went from one shop to another, making liberal purchases and
seeking for every opening that would enable her to make a convert. And
her shrewd Irish wit made her quick to take advantage of any weakness
she discovered in the characters of the people she interviewed.
When noon came Uncle John hunted her up, which was not difficult, in
Elmwood, and together they went to the village "hotel" to get something
to eat. The mid-day dinner was not very inviting, but Patsy praised the
cooking to the landlord's wife, who waited upon the table, and Uncle
John bought one of the landlord's cigars after the meal and talked
politics with him while he smoked it.
Then Patsy went over to the general store, and there she met her first
rebuff. Thompson, the proprietor, was a sour-visaged man, tall and lanky
and evidently a dyspeptic. Having been beaten by Hopkins at the last
election, when he ran against him on the Republican ticket, Thompson had
no desire to see Forbes more successful than he had been himself. And
there were other reasons that made it necessary for him to support
So he was both gruff and disagreeable when Patsy, after buying a lot of
ribbons of him, broached the subject of politics. He told her plainly
that her cousin hadn't a "ghost of a show," and that he was glad of it.
"The young fool had no business to monkey with politics," he added, "and
this will teach him to keep his fingers out of someone else's pie."
"It isn't Mr. Hopkins's pie," declared Patsy, stoutly. "It belongs to
whoever gets the votes."
"Well, that's Hopkins. He knows the game, and Forbes don't."
"Can't he learn?" asked the girl.
"No. He's an idiot. Always was a crank and an unsociable cuss when a
boy, and he's worse now he's grown up. Oh, I know Forbes, all right; and
I haven't got no use for him, neither."
Argument was useless in this case. The girl sighed, gathered up her
purchases, and went into the hardware store.
Immediately her spirits rose. Here was a man who knew Kenneth, believed
in him and was going to vote for him. She had a nice talk with the
hardware man, and he gave her much useful information about the most
important people in the neighborhood--those it would be desirable to win
for their candidate. When he mentioned Thompson, she said:
"Oh, he's impossible. I've talked with him."
"Thompson is really a good Republican," replied Mr. Andrews, the
hardware man. "But he's under Hopkins's thumb and doesn't dare defy
"Doesn't he like Mr. Hopkins?" asked Patsy, in surprise.
"No; he really hates him. You see, Thompson isn't a very successful
merchant. He has needed money at times, and borrowed it of Hopkins at a
high rate of interest. It's a pretty big sum now, and Hopkins holds a
mortgage on the stock. If he ever forecloses, as he will do some day,
Thompson will be ruined. So he's obliged to shout for Hopkins, whether
he believes in him or not."
"I think I understand him now," said Patsy, smiling. "But he needn't
have been so disagreeable."
"He's a disagreeable man at any time," returned Mr. Andrews.
"Has he any political influence?" asked the girl.
"Yes, considerable. Otherwise he couldn't have secured the nomination
when he pretended to run against Hopkins--for it was only a pretense.
You see, he's a well known Republican, and when he sides for Hopkins
he's bound to carry many Republicans with him."
But there were other important people whom Mr. Andrews thought might be
influenced, and he gave Patsy a list of their names. He seemed much
amused at the earnestness of this girlish champion of the Republican
"I do not think we can win," he said, as she left him; "but we ought to
make a good showing for your cousin, and I'll do my very best to help
As she rode home with Uncle John in the afternoon, after a day of really
hard work, Patsy sized up the situation and declared that she was
satisfied that she had made progress. She told Mr. Merrick of the
mortgage held over Thompson by Mr. Hopkins, and the little man made a
mental note of the fact. He also was satisfied with his day's work, and
agreed to ride over to Fairview the next day with her and carry the war
into this, the largest village in Kenneth's district.
Meantime Louise and Mr. Watson were having some interesting interviews
with the farmers' wives along the Marville road. The old lawyer knew
nearly everyone in this part of the country, for he had lived here all
his life. But he let Louise do the talking and was much pleased at the
tact and good nature she displayed in dealing with the widely different
types of character she encountered.
Her method was quite simple, and for that reason doubly effective. She
sat down in Mrs. Simmons's kitchen, where the good woman was ironing,
"I'm a cousin of Mr. Forbes, up at Elmhurst, you know. He's running for
a political office, so as to do some good for his county and district,
and I've come to see if you'll help me get votes for him."
"Law sakes, child!" exclaimed Mrs. Simmons, "I ain't got nuthin' to do
"No; but you've got a lot to do with Mr. Simmons, and that's where we
need your help. You see, Mr. Forbes thinks Mr. Simmons is one of the
most important men in this district, and he's very anxious to win his
"Why don't you see Dan, then? He's out'n the rye field," replied the
"It's because I'm only a girl, and he wouldn't listen to me," replied
Louise, sweetly. "But he takes your advice about everything, I hear--"
"He don't take it as often as he orter, don't Dan," interrupted Mrs.
Simmons, pausing to feel whether her iron was hot.
"Perhaps not," agreed Louise; "but in important things, such as this,
he's sure to listen to you; and we women must stick together if we want
to win this election."
"But I don't know nothin' about it," protested Mrs. Simmons; "an' I
don't believe Dan does."
"You don't need to know much, Mrs. Simmons," replied the girl. "What a
pretty baby that is! All you need do is to tell Dan he must vote for Mr.
Forbes, and see that he agrees to do so."
"Why?" was the pointed query.
"Well, there are several reasons. One is that Mr. Hopkins--Mr. Erastus
Hopkins, you know, is the other candidate, and a person must vote for
either one or the other of them."
"Dan's a friend o' 'Rastus," said the woman, thoughtfully. "I seen 'em
talkin' together the other day."
"But this isn't a matter of friendship; it's business, and Mr. Forbes is
very anxious to have your husband with him. If Mr. Forbes is elected it
means lighter taxes, better roads and good schools. If Mr. Hopkins is
elected it does not mean anything good except for Mr. Hopkins."
"I guess you're right about that," laughed the woman. "'Rast don't let
much get away from him."
"You're very clever, Mrs. Simmons. You have discovered the fact without
"Oh, I know 'Rast Hopkins, an' so does Dan."
"Then I can depend on you to help us?" asked the girl, patting the
tousled head of a little girl who stood by staring at "the pretty lady."
"I'll talk to him, but I dunno what good it'll do," said Mrs. Simmons,
"I know. He won't refuse to do what you ask him, for a man always
listens to his wife when he knows she's right. You'll win, Mrs. Simmons,
and I want to thank you for saving the election for us. If we get Mr.
Simmons on our side I believe we'll be sure to defeat Hopkins."
"Oh, I'll do what I kin," was the ready promise, and after a few more
remarks about the children and the neatness of the house, Louise took
"Will she win him over?" asked the girl of Mr. Watson, when they were
jogging on to the next homestead.
"I really can't say, my dear," replied the old lawyer, thoughtfully;
"but I imagine she'll try to, and if Dan doesn't give in Mrs. Simmons
will probably make his life miserable for a time. You flattered them
both outrageously; but that will do no harm."
And so it went on throughout the day. Sometimes the farmer himself was
around the house, and then they held a sort of conference; Louise asked
his advice about the best way to win votes, and said she depended a
great deal upon his judgment. She never asked a man which side he
favored, but took it for granted that he was anxious to support Mr.
Forbes; and this subtle flattery was so acceptable that not one declared
outright that he was for Hopkins, whatever his private views might have
When evening came and they had arrived at Elmhurst again, Louise was
enthusiastic over her work of the day, and had many amusing tales to
tell of her experiences.
"How many votes did you win?" asked Uncle John, smiling at her.
"I can't say," she replied; "but I didn't lose any. If one sows plenty
of seed, some of it is bound to sprout."
"We can tell better after election," said Mr. Watson. "But I'm satisfied
that this is the right sort of work, Mr. Merrick, to get results."
"So am I," returned Uncle John heartily. "Are you willing to keep it up,
"Of course!" she exclaimed. "We start again bright and early tomorrow
THE HONORABLE ERASTUS IS ASTONISHED
The Honorable Erastus Hopkins had been absent at the state capital for
several days, looking after various matters of business; for he was a
thrifty man, and watched his investments carefully.
Whenever his acquaintances asked about his chances for re-election, the
Honorable Erastus Hopkins winked, laughed and declared, "it's a regular
"Who is opposing you?" once asked a gray-haired Senator of much
political experience, who had met Mr. Hopkins at luncheon.
"Young feller named Forbes--a boy, sir--with no notion about the game at
all. He was pledged to an unpopular issue, so I was mighty glad to have
him run against me."
"What issue is he pledged to?" asked the Senator.
"Oh, he's agin putting advertising signs on fences and barns, and wants
to have them prohibited, like the infernal fool he is."
"Indeed. Then he's a progressive fellow. And you say his issue is
"That's what it is. It'll kill his chances--if he ever had any."
"Strange," mused the Senator. "That issue has been a winning one
"What do you mean?" asked the astonished Hopkins.
"Why, the anti-sign fight has won in several places throughout the
country, and local laws have been passed prohibiting them. Didn't you
"No!" said Hopkins.
"Well, it's true. Of course I do not know the temper of your people, but
in a country district such as yours I would think an issue of that sort
very hard to combat."
"Nonsense!" exclaimed the Honorable Erastus. "Ev'ry man Jack's agin the
"Then perhaps the people don't understand it."
"Forbes has given up already," continued Hopkins, laughing at the
recollection. "He's gone back into his shell like a turtle, an' won't
come out to fight. I tell you, Senator, he's the worst licked candidate
that ever ran for office."
Nevertheless, the suggestion that the anti-sign issue had been
successful in other localities made Mr. Hopkins a trifle uneasy, and he
decided to return home and keep the fight going until after election,
whether young Forbes came out of his shell or not.
He arrived at Hilldale on the early morning train and went to his house
for breakfast. To his amazement he found two great banners strung across
the village streets bearing the words: "Vote for Forbes--the People's
"Who in thunder could 'a' done that?" murmured Mr. Hopkins, staring
open-mouthed at the great banners. Then he scratched his head with a
puzzled air and went home.
Mrs. Hopkins, a tired-looking woman in a bedraggled morning wrapper, was
getting the breakfast. She did not participate largely in the prosperity
of her husband, and often declared she was "worked to death," although
there were no children to care for.
"When did those Forbes banners go up?" asked Mr. Hopkins, irritably.
"I dunno, 'Rast. I don't keep track o' such things. But all the town was
out to the girls' meetin' last night, an' I went along to watch the
"What girls' meeting?"
"The girls thet air workin' fer to elect Mr. Forbes. It was in the town
hall, an' all three of the girls made speeches."
"About Mr. Forbes, and how he orter be elected. He wants to beautify the
farm places by doin' away with signs, an' he wants better roads, an'
three new school-houses, 'cause the ones we've got now ain't big enough.
"You blamed idiot! What are you talking about?" roared the exasperated
"Oh, you needn't rave at me, 'Rast Hopkins, just 'cause you're gettin'
licked. I thought your goose was cooked the minnit these girls got to
Mr. Hopkins stared at her with a dazed expression.
"Be sensible, Mary, and tell me who these girls are. I haven't heard of
"Why, they're cousins o' Kenneth Forbes, it seems, an' come from New
York to git him elected."
"What are they like?"
"They're swell dressers, 'Rast, an' nice appearin' girls, and mighty
sharp with their tongues. They had a good meetin' last night and
there'll be another at the town hall next week."
"Pah! Girls! Forbes oughter be ashamed of himself, to send a bunch o'
girls out electioneerin'. I never heard of such an irregular thing. What
do the boys say?"
"Folks don't say much to me, 'Rast. They wouldn't, you know. But I guess
your game is up."
He made no reply. Here, indeed, was information of a startling
character. And it came upon him like thunder out of a clear sky. Yet the
thing might not be so important as Mrs. Hopkins feared.
Very thoughtfully he unfolded the morning paper, and the next moment
uttered a roar of wrath and vexation. Briggs was one of his stand-bys,
and the Herald heretofore had always supported him; yet here across
the first page were big black letters saying: "Vote for Forbes!" And
the columns were full of articles and paragraphs praising Forbes and
declaring that he could and would do more for the district than Hopkins.
"I must see Briggs," muttered the Honorable Erastus. "He's tryin' to
make me put up that hundred--an' I guess I'll have to do it."
He looked over the other newspapers which were heaped upon his desk in
the sitting-room, and was disgusted to find all but one of the seven
papers in the district supporting Forbes. Really, the thing began to
look serious. And he had only been absent a week!
He had not much appetite for breakfast when Mrs. Hopkins set it before
him. But the Honorable Erastus was a born fighter, and his discovery had
only dismayed him for a brief time. Already he was revolving ways of
contesting this new activity in the enemy's camp, and decided that he
must talk with "the boys" at once.
So he hurried away from the breakfast table and walked down-town. Latham
was first on his route and he entered the drug store.
"Good morning, Mr. Hopkins. Anything I can do for you?" asked the polite
"Yes, a lot. Tell me what these fool girls are up to, that are plugging
for Forbes. I've been away for a week, you know."
"Can't say, Mr. Hopkins, I'm sure. Business is pretty lively these days,
and it keeps me hustling. I've no time for politics."
"But we've got to wake up, Jim, we Democrats, or they'll give us a run
for our money."
"Oh, this is a Republican district, sir. We can't hope to win it often,
and especially in a case like this."
"Looks to me as if you'd bungled things, Hopkins. But I'm not interested
in this campaign. Excuse me; if there's nothing you want, I've got a
prescription to fill."
Mr. Hopkins walked out moodily. It was very evident that Latham had
changed front. But they had never been very staunch friends; and he
could find a way to even scores with the little druggist later.
Thompson was behind his desk at the general store when Hopkins walked
"Look here," said the Honorable Representative, angrily, "what's been
going on in Elmwood? What's all this plugging for Forbes mean?"
Thompson gave him a sour look over the top of his desk.
"Addressin' them remarks to me, 'Rast?"
"Yes--to you! You've been loafing on your job, old man, and it won't
do--it won't do at all. You should have put a stop to these things. What
right have these girls to interfere in a game like this?"
"Oh, shut up, 'Rast."
"Thompson! By crickey, I won't stand this from you. Goin' back on me,
"I'm a Republication, 'Rast."
"So you are," said Mr. Hopkins slowly, his temper at white heat "And
that mortgage is two months overdue."
"Go over to the bank and get your money, then. It's waiting for you,
Hopkins--interest and all. Go and get it and let me alone. I'm busy."
Perhaps the politician had never been so surprised in his life. Anger
gave way to sudden fear, and he scrutinized the averted countenance of
"Where'd you raise the money, Thompson?"
"None of your business. I raised it."
"Forbes, eh? Forbes has bought you up, I see. Grateful fellow, ain't
you--when I loaned you money to keep you from bankruptcy!"
"You did, Hopkins. You made me your slave, and threatened me every
minute, unless I did all your dirty work. Grateful? You've led me a
dog's life. But I'm through with you now--for good and all."
Hopkins turned and walked out without another word. In the dentist's
office Dr. Squiers was sharpening and polishing his instruments.
"Hello, 'Rast. 'Bout time you was getting back, old man. We're having a
big fight on our hands, I can tell you."
"Tell me more," said Mr. Hopkins, taking a chair with a sigh of relief
at finding one faithful friend. "What's up, Archie?"
"An invasion of girls, mostly. They took us by surprise, the other day,
and started a campaign worthy of old political war-horses. There's some
shrewd politician behind them, I know, or they wouldn't have nailed us
up in our coffins with such business-like celerity."
"Talk sense, Archie. What have they done? What can they do? Pah!
"Don't make a mistake, 'Rast. That's what I did, before I understood.
When I heard that three girls were electioneering for Forbes I just
laughed. Then I made a discovery. They're young and rich, and evidently
ladies. They're pretty, too, and the men give in at the first attack.
They don't try to roast you. That's their cleverness. They tell what
Forbes can do, with all his money, if he's Representative, and they
swear he'll do it."
"Never mind," said Hopkins, easily. "We'll win the men back again."
"But these girls are riding all over the country, talking to farmers'
wives, and they're organizing a woman's political club. The club is to
meet at Elmhurst and to be fed on the fat of the land; so every woman
wants to belong. They've got two expensive automobiles down from the
city, with men to make them go, and they're spending money right and
"That's bad," said Hopkins, shifting uneasily, "for I haven't much to
spend, myself. But most money is fooled away in politics. When I spend a
cent it counts, I can tell you."
"You'll have to spend some, 'Rast, to keep your end up. I'm glad you're
back, for we Democrats have been getting demoralized. Some of the boys
are out for Forbes already."
Hopkins nodded, busy with his thoughts.
"I've talked with Latham. But he didn't count. And they've bought up
Thompson. What else they've done I can't tell yet. But one thing's
certain, Doc; we'll win out in a canter. I'm too old a rat to be caught
in a trap like this. I've got resources they don't suspect."
"I believe you, 'Rast. They've caught on to the outside fakes to win
votes; but they don't know the inside deals yet."
"You're right. But I must make a bluff to offset their daylight
campaign, so as not to lose ground with the farmers. They're the ones
that count, after all; not the town people. See here, Doc, I had an idea
something might happen, and so I arranged with my breakfast food company
to let me paint a hundred signs in this neighborhood. A hundred, mind
you! and that means a big laugh on Forbes, and the good will of the
farmers who sell their spaces, and not a cent out of my pocket. How's
that for a checkmate?"
"That's fine," replied Dr. Squiers. "There's been considerable talk
about this sign business, and I'm told that at the meeting last night
one of the girls made a speech about it, and said the farmers were being
converted, and were now standing out for clean fences and barns."
"That's all humbug!"
"I think so, myself. These people are like a flock of sheep. Get them
started a certain way and you can't head them off," observed the
"Then we must start them our way," declared Hopkins. "I've got the order
for these signs in my pocket, and I'll have 'em painted all over the
district in a week. Keep your eyes open, Doc. If we've got to fight we
won't shirk it; but I don't look for much trouble from a parcel of
Mr. Hopkins was quite cheerful by this time, for he had thought out the
situation and his "fighting blood was up," as he expressed it.
He walked away whistling softly to himself and decided that he would go
over to the livery stable, get a horse and buggy, drive out into the
country, and spend the day talking with the farmers.
But when he turned the corner into the side street where the livery was
located he was astonished to find a row of horses and wagons lining each
side of the street, and in each vehicle two men in white jumpers and
overalls. The men were in charge of huge cans of paints, assorted
brushes, ladders, scaffolds and other paraphernalia.
There must have been twenty vehicles, altogether, and some of the rigs
were already starting out and driving briskly away in different
Mr. Hopkins was puzzled. He approached one of the white-overalled men
who was loading cans of paint into a wagon and inquired:
"Who are you fellows?"
"Sign painters," answered the man, with an amused look.
"Who do you work for?"
"The Carson Advertising Sign Company of Cleveland."
"Oh, I see," replied Hopkins. "Got a big job in this neighborhood?"
"Pretty big, sir."
"Who's your foreman?"
"Smith. He's in the livery office."
Then the man climbed into his wagon and drove away, and Hopkins turned
into the livery office. A thin-faced man with sharp eyes was Talking
with the proprietor.
"Is this Mr. Smith?" asked Hopkins.
"Of the Carson Advertising Sign Company?"
"Well, I've got a big job for you. My name's Hopkins. I want a hundred
big signs painted mighty quick."
"Sorry, sir; we've got all we can handle here for two or three weeks."
"It's got to be done quick or not at all. Can't you send for more men?"
"We've got thirty-eight on this job, and can't get any more for love or
money. Had to send to Chicago for some of these."
"Yes, sir. You'll have to excuse me. I've got to get started. This is
only our second day and we're pretty busy."
"Wait a minute," called the bewildered Hopkins, following Smith to his
buggy. "What concern is your firm doing all this painting for?"
"A man named Merrick."
Then the foreman drove away, and Mr. Hopkins was left greatly puzzled.
"Merrick--Merrick!" he repeated. "I don't remember any big advertiser by
that name. It must be some new concern. Anyhow, it all helps in my fight
He again returned to the livery office and asked for a rig.
"Everything out, Mr. Hopkins. I've hired everything to be had in town
for this sign-painting gang."
But Mr. Hopkins was not to be balked. As long as these sign-painters
were doing missionary work for his cause among the farmers, he decided
to drive over to Fairview and see the party leaders in that important
town. So he went back to Dr. Squiers's house and borrowed the Doctor's
horse and buggy.
He drove along the turnpike for a time in silence. Then it struck him
that there was a peculiar air of neatness about the places he passed.
The barns and fences all seemed newly painted, and he remembered that he
hadn't seen an advertising sign since he left town.
A mile farther on he came upon a gang of the sign painters, who with
their huge brushes were rapidly painting the entire length of a
weather-worn fence with white paint.
Mr. Hopkins reined in and watched them for a few moments.
"You sign-painters don't seem to be getting any signs started," he
"No," replied one of the men, laughing. "This is a peculiar job for our
firm to tackle. We've made a contract to paint out every sign in the
"Paint 'em out!"
"Yes, cover them up with new paint, and get rid of them."
"But how about the advertisers? Don't they own the spaces now?"
"They did; but they've all been bought up. John Merrick owns the spaces
now, and we're working for John Merrick."
"Some friend of Mr. Forbes, up at Elmhurst."
Mr. Hopkins was not a profane man, but he said a naughty word. And then
he cut his horse so fiercely with the whip that the poor beast gave a
neigh of terror, and started down the road at a gallop.
OL' WILL ROGERS
Beth had her folding table out in the rose garden where Kenneth was
working at his easel, and while the boy painted she wrote her campaign
letters and "editorials."
At first Ken had resented the management of his campaign by his three
girl friends; but soon he was grateful for their assistance and proud of
their talents. It was at their own request that he refrained from any
active work himself, merely appearing at the meetings they planned,
where he made his speeches and impressed his hearers with his
earnestness. He was really an excellent speaker, and his youth and
enthusiasm counted much in his favor.
He protested mildly when Louise invited the Women's Political Club to
meet at Elmhurst on Thursday afternoon, but Mr. Watson assured him that
this was an important play for popularity, so he promised to meet them.
Tables were to be spread upon the lawn, for the late October weather was
mild and delightful, and Louise planned to feed the women in a way that
they would long remember.
Patsy had charge of the towns and Louise of the country districts, but
Beth often aided Louise, who had a great deal of territory to cover.
The automobiles Uncle John had ordered sent down were a great assistance
to the girls, and enabled them to cover twice as much territory in a day
as would have been done with horses.
But, although they worked so tirelessly and earnestly, it was not all
plain sailing with the girl campaigners. Yet though they met with many
rebuffs, they met very little downright impertinence. Twice Louise was
asked to leave a house where she had attempted to make a proselyte, and
once a dog was set upon Beth by an irate farmer, who resented her
automobile as much as he did her mission. As for Patsy, she was often
told in the towns that "a young girl ought to be in better business than
mixing up in politics," and she was sensitive enough once or twice to
cry over these reproaches when alone in her chamber. But she maintained
a cheerful front; and, in truth, all the girls enjoyed their work
While Beth and Kenneth were in the garden this sunny afternoon James
came to say that a man wanted to see "one of the politics young ladies."
"Shall we send him about his business, Beth?" asked the boy.
"Oh, no; we can't afford to lose a single vote. Bring him here, James,
please," said the girl.
So presently a wizened little man in worn and threadbare garments, his
hat in his hand, came slowly into the garden. His sunken cheeks were
covered with stubby gray whiskers, his shoulders were stooped and bent
from hard work, and his hands bore evidences of a life of toil. Yet the
eyes he turned upon Beth, as she faced him had a wistful and pleading
look that affected her strangely.
"Afternoon, miss," he said, in a hesitating voice. "I--I'm Rogers, miss;
ol' Will Rogers. I--I s'pose you hain't heerd o' me before."
"I'm glad to meet you, Mr. Rogers," replied the girl in her pleasant
voice. "Have you come to see me about the election?"
"It's--it's sump'n 'bout the 'lection, an' then agin it ain't. But I run
the chanct o' seein' ye, because we're in desprit straits, an' Nell
advised that I hev a talk with ye. 'Frank an' outright,' says Nell.
'Don't beat about the bush,' says she. 'Go right to th' point an'
they'll say yes or no."
Beth laughed merrily, and the boy smiled as he wielded his brush with
"Ye mustn't mind me, miss," said Will Rogers, in a deprecating tone.
"I'm--I'm sommut broke up an' discouraged, an' ain't th' man I used to
be. Nell knows that, an' she orter came herself; but it jes' made her
cry to think o' it, an' so I says I'll come an' do the best I kin."
Beth was really interested now.
"Sit down on this bench, Mr. Rogers," she said, "and I'll listen to
whatever you have to say."
He sat down willingly, bent forward as he rested upon the garden bench,
and twirled his hat slowly in his hands.
"'Taint easy, ye know, miss, to say some things, an' this is one o' the
hardest," he began.
"Go on," said Beth, encouragingly, for old Will had suddenly stopped
short and seemed unable to proceed.
"They say, miss, as you folks is a-spendin' uv a lot o' money on this
election, a-gittin' votes, an' sich like," he said, in an altered tone.
"It costs a little to run a political campaign," acknowledged Beth.
"They say money's bein' poured out liken water--to git votes," he
"Well, Mr. Rogers?"
"Well, thet's how it started, ye see. We're so agonizin' poor, Nell
thought we orter git some o' the money while it's goin'."
The girl was much amused. Such frankness was both unusual and
"Have you a vote to sell?" she asked.
He did not answer at once, but sat slowly twirling his hat.
"That's jet' what Nell thought ye'd ask," he said, finally, "an' she
knew if ye did it was all up with our plan. Guess I'll be goin', miss."
He rose slowly from his seat, but the girl did not intend to lose any of
the fun this queer individual might yet furnish.
"Sit down, Mr. Rogers," she said, "and tell me why you can't answer my
"I guess I'll hev to speak out an' tell all," said he, his voice
trembling a little, "although I thought fer a minnit I could see my way
without. I can't sell my vote, miss, 'cause I've been plannin' t'vote
fer Mr. Forbes anyhow. But we wanted some uv th' money that's being
wasted, an' we wanted it mighty bad."
"Thet's the hard part uv it, miss; but I'm goin' to tell you. Did ye
ever hear o' Lucy?"
"No, Mr. Rogers."
"Lucy's our girl--the on'y chick er child we ever had. She's a pretty
girl, is Lucy; a good deal liken her mother; wi' the same high spirits
my Nell had afore she broke down. Mostly Nell cries, nowadays."
"Yes. Go on."
"Lucy had a schoolin', an' we worked hard to give it her, fer my land
ain't much account, nohow. An' when she grew up she had more boys comin'
to see her than any gal this side o' Fairview, an' one o' 'em caught
Lucy's fancy. But she was too young to marry, an' she wanted to be
earnin' money; so she got a job workin' fer Doc Squiers, over to
Elmwood. He's the dentist there, an' Lucy helped with the housework an'
kept the office slicked up, an' earned ev'ry penny she got."
He stopped here, and looked vacantly around.
Beth tried to help the old man.
"And then?" she asked, softly.
"Then come the trouble, miss. One day ol' Mis' Squiers, the Doc's
mother, missed a di'mon' ring. She laid it on the mantel an' it was
gone, an' she said as Lucy took it. Lucy didn't take it, an' after
they'd tried to make my gal confess as she was a thief they give 'er
three days to hand up the ring or the money it was worth, or else they'd
hev her arrested and sent t' jail. Lucy didn't take it, ye know. She
jes' couldn't do sech a thing, natcherly."
"I know," said Beth, sympathetically.
"So she comes home, heartbroken, an' told us about it, an' we didn't hev
th' money nuther. It were sixty dollars they wanted, or th' ring; an' we
didn't hev neither of 'em."
"Of course not."
"Well, Tom come over thet night to see Lucy, hearin' she was home,
"Who is Tom?"
"Thet's Tom Gates, him thet--but I'm comin' to thet, miss. Tom always
loved Lucy, an' wanted to marry her; but his folks is as poor as we are,
so the young 'uns had to wait. Tom worked at the mill over t'
Fairview--the big saw-mill where they make the lumber an' things."
"He was the bookkeeper, fer Tom had schoolin', too; an' he took private
lessons in bookkeepin' from ol' Cheeseman. So he had got hired at the
mill, an' had a likely job, an' was doin' well. An' when Tom heerd about
Lucy's trouble, an' thet she had only two days left before goin' to
jail, he up an' says: 'I'll get the money, Lucy: don' you worry a bit.'
'Oh, Tom!' says she, 'hev you got sixty dollars saved already?' 'I've
got it, Lucy,' says he, 'an' I'll go over tomorrow an' pay Doc Squiers.
Don' you worry any more. Forget all about it.' Well o' course, miss,
that helped a lot. Nell an' Lucy both felt the disgrace of the thing,
but it wouldn't be a public disgrace, like goin' to jail; so we was all
mighty glad Tom had that sixty dollars."
"It was very fortunate," said Beth, filling in another pause.
"The nex' day Tom were as good as his word. He paid Doc Squiers an' got
a receipt an' giv it to Lucy. Then we thought th' trouble was over, but
it had on'y just begun. Monday mornin' Tom was arrested over t' the mill
fer passin' a forged check an' gettin' sixty dollars on it. Lucy was
near frantic with grief. She walked all the way to Fairview, an' they
let her see Tom in the jail. He tol' her it was true he forged th'
check, but he did it to save her. He was a man an' it wouldn't hurt fer
him to go to jail so much as it would a girl. He said he was glad he did
it, an' didn't mind servin' a sentence in prison. I think, miss, as Tom
meant thet--ev'ry word uv it. But Lucy broke down under the thing an'
raved an' cried, an' nuther Nell ner I could do anything with her. She
said she'd ruined Tom's life an' all thet, an' she didn't want to live
herself. Then she took sick, an' Nell an' I nursed her as careful as we
could. How'n the wurld she ever got away we can't make out, nohow."
"Did she get away?" asked the girl, noting that the old man's eyes were
full of tears and his lips trembling.
"Yes, miss. She's bin gone over ten days, now, an' we don't even know
where to look fer her; our girl--our poor Lucy. She ain't right in her
head, ye know, or she'd never a done it. She'd never a left us like this
in th' world. 'Taint like our Lucy."
Kenneth had turned around on his stool and was regarding old Will Rogers
earnestly, brush and pallet alike forgotten. Beth was trying to keep the
tears out of her own eyes, for the old man's voice was even more
pathetic than his words.
"Ten days ago!" said Kenneth. "And she hasn't been found yet?"
"We can't trace her anywhere, an' Nell has broke down at las', an' don't
do much but cry. It's hard, sir--I can't bear to see Nell cry. She'd
sich high sperrits, onct."
"Where's the boy Tom?" asked Kenneth, somewhat gruffly.
"He's in the jail yet, waitin' to be tried. Court don't set till next
week, they say."
"And where do you live, Rogers?"
"Five miles up the Fairview road. 'Taint much of a place--Nell says I've
always bin a shif'les lot, an' I guess it's true. Yesterday your hired
men painted all the front o' my fence--painted it white--not only where
th' signs was, but th' whole length of it. We didn't ask it done, but
they jes' done it. I watched 'em, an' Nell says if we on'y had th' money
thet was wasted on thet paint an' labor, we might find our Lucy. 'It's a
shame,' says Nell, 'all thet 'lection money bein' thrown away on paint
when it might save our poor crazy child.' I hope it ain't wrong, sir;
but thet's what I thought, too. So we laid plans fer me to come here
today. Ef I kin get a-hold o' any o' thet money honest, I want to do
"Have you got a horse?" asked Kenneth.
"Not now. I owned one las' year, but he died on me an' I can't get
"Did you walk here?" asked Beth.
"Yes, miss; o' course. I've walked the hull county over a-tryin' to find
Lucy. I don' mind the walking much."
There was another pause, while old Will Rogers looked anxiously at the
boy and the girl, and they looked at each other. Then Beth took out her
"I want to hire your services to help us in the election," she said,
briskly. "I'll furnish you a horse and buggy and you can drive around
and talk with people and try to find Lucy at the same time. This twenty
dollars is to help you pay expenses. You needn't account for it; just
help us as much as you can."
The old man straightened up and his eyes filled again.
"Nell said if it was a matter o' charity I mustn't take a cent," he
observed, in a low voice.
'"It isn't charity. It's business. And now that we know your story we
mean to help you find your girl. Anyone would do that, you know. Tell
me, what is Lucy like?"
"She's like Nell used to be."
"But we don't know your wife. Describe Lucy as well as you can. Is she
"Light or dark?"
"Is her hair light or dark colored?"
"Middlin'; jes' middlin', miss."
"Well, is she stout or thin?"
"I should say sorter betwixt an' between, miss."
"How old is Lucy?"
"Jes' turned eighteen, miss."
"Never mind, Beth," interrupted the boy; "you won't learn much from old
Will's description. But we'll see what can be done tomorrow. Call James
and have him sent home in the rig he's going to use. It seems to me
you're disposing rather freely of my horses and carts."
"Yes, Ken. You've nothing to say about your belongings just now. But if
you object to this plan--"
"I don't. The girl must be found, and her father is more likely to find
her than a dozen other searchers. He shall have the rig and welcome."
So it was that Will Rogers drove back to his heartbroken wife in a smart
top-buggy, with twenty dollars in his pocket and a heart full of wonder
THE FORGED CHECK
Kenneth and Beth refrained from telling the other girls or Uncle John of
old Will Rogers's visit, but they got Mr. Watson in the library and
questioned him closely about the penalty for forging a check.
It was a serious crime indeed, Mr. Watson told them, and Tom Gates bade
fair to serve a lengthy term in state's prison as a consequence of his
"But it was a generous act, too," said Beth.
"I can't see it in that light," said the old lawyer. "It was a
deliberate theft from his employers to protect a girl he loved. I do not
doubt the girl was unjustly accused. The Squierses are a selfish,
hard-fisted lot, and the old lady, especially, is a well known virago.
But they could not have proven a case against Lucy, if she was innocent,
and all their threats of arresting her were probably mere bluff. So this
boy was doubly foolish in ruining himself to get sixty dollars to pay an
"He was soft-hearted and impetuous," said Beth; "and, being in love, he
didn't stop to count the cost."
"That is no excuse, my dear," declared Mr. Watson. "Indeed there is
never an excuse for crime. The young man is guilty, and he must suffer
"Is there no way to save him?" asked Kenneth.
"If the prosecution were withdrawn and the case settled with the victim
of the forged check, then the young man would be allowed his freedom.
But under the circumstances I doubt if such an arrangement could be
"We're going to try it, anyhow," was the prompt decision.
So as soon as breakfast was over the next morning Beth and Kenneth took
one of the automobiles, the boy consenting unwillingly to this sort of
locomotion because it would save much time. Fairview was twelve miles
away, but by ten o'clock they drew up at the county jail.
They were received in the little office by a man named Markham, who was
the jailer. He was a round-faced, respectable appearing fellow, but his
mood was distinctly unsociable.
"Want to see Tom Gates, eh? Well! what for?" he demanded.
"We wish to talk with him," answered Kenneth.
"Talk! what's the good? You're no friend of Tom Gates. I can't be
bothered this way, anyhow."
"I am Kenneth Forbes, of Elmhurst. I'm running for Representative on the
Republican ticket," said Kenneth, quietly.
"Oh, say! that's different," observed Markham, altering his demeanor.
"You mustn't mind my being gruff and grumpy, Mr. Forbes. I've just
stopped smoking a few days ago, and it's got on my nerves something
"May we see Gates at once?" asked Kenneth.
"Sure-ly! I'll take you to his cell, myself. It's just shocking how such
a little thing as stoppin' smoking will rile up a fellow. Come this way,
They followed the jailer along a succession of passages.
"Smoked ever sence I was a boy, you know, an' had to stop last week
because Doc said it would kill me if I didn't," remarked the jailer,
leading the way. "Sometimes I'm that yearning for a smoke I'm nearly
crazy, an' I dunno which is worst, dyin' one way or another. This is
Gates' cell--the best in the shop."
He unlocked the door, and called:
"Here's visitors, Tom."
"Thank you, Mr. Markham," replied a quiet voice, as a young man came
forward from the dim interior of the cell. "How are you feeling, today?"
"Worse, Tom; worse 'n ever," replied the jailer, gloomily.
"Well, stick it out, old man; don't give in."
"I won't, Tom. Smokin' 'll kill me sure, an' there's a faint hope o'
livin' through this struggle to give it up. This visitor is Mr. Forbes
of Elmhurst, an' the young lady is--"
"Miss DeGraf," said Kenneth, noticing the boy's face critically, as he
stood where the light from the passage fell upon it. "Will you leave us
alone, please, Mr. Markham?"
"Sure-ly, Mr. Forbes. You've got twenty minutes according to
regulations. I'll come and get you then. Sorry we haven't any reception
room in the jail. All visits has to be made in the cells."
Then he deliberately locked Kenneth and Beth in with the forger, and
retreated along the passage.
"Sit down, please," said Gates, in a cheerful and pleasant voice.
"There's a bench here."
"We've come to inquire about your case, Gates," said Kenneth. "It seems
you have forged a check."
"Yes, sir, I plead guilty, although I've been told I ought not to
confess. But the fact is that I forged the check and got the money, and
I'm willing to stand the consequences."
"Why did you do it?" asked Beth.
He was silent and turned his face away.
A fresh, wholesome looking boy, was Tom Gates, with steady gray eyes, an
intelligent forehead, but a sensitive, rather weak mouth. He was of
sturdy, athletic build and dressed neatly in a suit that was of coarse
material but well brushed and cared for.
Beth thought his appearance pleasing and manly. Kenneth decided that he
was ill at ease and in a state of dogged self-repression.
"We have heard something of your story," said Kenneth, "and are
interested in it. But there is no doubt you have acted very foolishly."
"Do you know Lucy, sir?" asked the young man.
"Lucy is very proud. The thing was killing her, and I couldn't bear it.
I didn't stop to think whether it was foolish or not. I did it; and I'm
glad I did."
"You have made her still more unhappy," said Beth, gently.
"Yes; she'll worry about me, I know. I'm disgraced for life; but I've
saved Lucy from any disgrace, and she's young. She'll forget me before
I've served my term, and--and take up with some other young fellow."
"Would you like that?" asked Beth.
"No, indeed," he replied, frankly. "But it will be best that way. I had
to stand by Lucy--she's so sweet and gentle, and so sensitive. I don't
say I did right. I only say I'd do the same thing again."
"Couldn't her parents have helped her?" inquired Kenneth.
"No. Old Will is a fine fellow, but poor and helpless since Mrs. Rogers
had her accident."
"Oh, did she have an accident?" asked Beth.
"Yes. Didn't you know? She's blind."
"Her husband didn't tell us that," said the girl.
"He was fairly prosperous before that, for Mrs. Rogers was an energetic
and sensible woman, and kept old Will hard at work. One morning she
tried to light the fire with kerosene, and lost her sight. Then Rogers
wouldn't do anything but lead her around, and wait upon her, and the
place went to rack and ruin."
"I understand now," said Beth.
"Lucy could have looked after her mother," said young Bates, "but old
Will was stubborn and wouldn't let her. So the girl saw something must
be done and went to work. That's how all the trouble came about."
He spoke simply, but paced up and down the narrow cell in front of them.
It was evident that his feelings were deeper than he cared to make
"Whose name did you sign to the check?" asked Kenneth.
"That of John E. Marshall, the manager of the mill. He is supposed to
sign all the checks of the concern. It's a stock company, and rich. I
was bookkeeper, so it was easy to get a blank check and forge the
signature. As regards my robbing the company, I'll say that I saved them
a heavy loss one day. I discovered and put out a fire that would have
destroyed the whole plant. But Marshall never even thanked me. He only
discharged the man who was responsible for the fire."
"How long ago were you arrested?" asked Beth.
"It's nearly two weeks now. But I'll have a trial in a few days, they
say. My crime is so serious that the circuit judge has to sit on the
"Do you know where Lucy is?"
"She's at home, I suppose. I haven't heard from her since the day she
came here to see me--right after my arrest."
They did not think best to enlighten him at that time. It was better for
him to think the girl unfeeling than to know the truth.
"I'm going to see Mr. Marshall," said Kenneth, "and discover what I can
do to assist you."
"Thank you, sir. It won't be much, but I'm grateful to find a friend.
I'm guilty, you know, and there's no one to blame but myself."
They left him then, for the jailer arrived to unlock the door, and
escort them to the office.
"Tom's a very decent lad," remarked the jailer, on the way. "He ain't a
natural criminal, you know; just one o' them that gives in to temptation
and is foolish enough to get caught. I've seen lots of that kind in my
day. You don't smoke, do you, Mr. Forbes?"
"No, Mr. Markham."
"Then don't begin it; or, if you do, never try to quit. It's--it's
awful, it is. And it ruins a man's disposition."
The mill was at the outskirts of the town. It was a busy place, perhaps
the busiest in the whole of the Eighth District, and in it were employed
a large number of men. The office was a small brick edifice, separated
from the main buildings, in which the noise of machinery was so great
that one speaking could scarcely be heard. The manager was in, Kenneth
and Beth learned, but could not see them until he had signed the letters
he had dictated for the noon mail.
So they sat on a bench until a summons came to admit them to Mr.
Marshall's private office.
He looked up rather ungraciously, but motioned them to be seated.
"Mr. Forbes, of Elmhurst?" he asked, glancing at the card Kenneth had
"I've been bothered already over your election campaign," resumed the
manager, arranging his papers in a bored manner. "Some girl has been
here twice to interview my men and I have refused to admit her. You may
as well understand, sir, that I stand for the Democratic candidate, and
have no sympathy with your side."
"That doesn't interest me, especially, sir," answered Kenneth, smiling.
"I'm not electioneering just now. I've come to talk with you about young
"Oh. Well, sir, what about him?"
"I'm interested in the boy, and want to save him from prosecution."
"He's a forger, Mr. Forbes; a deliberate criminal."
"I admit that. But he's very young, and his youth is largely responsible
for his folly."
"He stole my money."
"It is true, Mr. Marshall."
"And he deserves a term in state's prison."
"I agree to all that. Nevertheless, I should like to save him," said
Kenneth. "His trial has not yet taken place, and instead of your
devoting considerable of your valuable time appearing against him it
would be much simpler to settle the matter right here and now."
"In what way, Mr. Forbes?"
"I'll make your money loss good."
"It has cost me twice sixty dollars in annoyance."
"I can well believe it, sir. I'll pay twice sixty dollars for the
delivery to me of the forged check, and the withdrawal of the
"And the costs?"
"I'll pay all the costs besides."
"You're foolish. Why should you do all this?"
"I have my own reasons, Mr. Marshall. Please look at the matter from a
business standpoint. If you send the boy to prison you will still suffer
the loss of the money. By compromising with me you can recover your loss
and are paid for your annoyance."
"You're right. Give me a check for a hundred and fifty, and I'll turn
over to you the forged check and quash further proceedings."
Kenneth hesitated a moment. He detested the grasping disposition that
would endeavor to take advantage of his evident desire to help young
Gates. He had hoped to find Mr. Marshall a man of sympathy; but the
manager was as cold as an icicle.
Beth, uneasy at his silence, nudged him.
"Pay it, Ken," she whispered.
"Very well, Mr. Marshall," said he, "I accept your terms."
The check was written and handed over, and Marshall took the forged
check from his safe and delivered it, with the other papers in the case,
to Mr. Forbes. He also wrote a note to his lawyer directing him to
withdraw the prosecution.
Kenneth and Beth went away quite happy with their success, and the
manager stood in his little window and watched them depart. There was a
grim smile of amusement on his shrewd face.
"Of all the easy marks I ever encountered," muttered Mr. Marshall, "this
young Forbes is the easiest. Why, he's a fool, that's what he is. He
might have had that forged check for the face of it, if he'd been sharp.
You wouldn't catch 'Rast Hopkins doing such a fool stunt. Not in a
Meantime Beth was pressing Kenneth's arm as she sat beside him and
"I'm so glad, Ken--so glad! And to think we can save all that misery and
despair by the payment of a hundred and fifty dollars! And now we must
find the girl."
"Yes," replied the boy, cheerfully, "we must find Lucy."
A MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE
A woman was sitting in a low room, engaged in knitting. Her feet were
stretched out toward a small fire that smouldered in an open hearth. She
wore a simple calico gown, neat and well-fitting, and her face bore
traces of much beauty that time and care had been unable wholly to
Suddenly she paused in her work, her head turned slightly to one side to
"Come in, sir," she called in a soft but distinct voice; "come in,
So Kenneth and Beth entered at the half-open porch door and advanced
into the room.
"Is this Mrs. Rogers?" asked Beth, looking at the woman curiously. The
woman's eyes were closed, but the lashes fell in graceful dark curves
over her withered cheeks. The girl wondered how she had been able to
know her visitors' sex so accurately.
"Yes, I am Mrs. Rogers," said the sweet, sad voice. "And I think you are
one of the young ladies from Elmhurst--perhaps the one Will talked to."
"You are right, Mrs. Rogers. I am Elizabeth DeGraf."
"And your companion--is it Mr. Forbes?" the woman asked.
"Yes, madam," replied Kenneth, astonished to find Will's wife speaking
with so much refinement and gracious ease.
"You are very welcome. Will you please find seats? My affliction renders
me helpless, as you may see."
"We are very comfortable, I assure you, Mrs. Rogers," said Beth. "We
have come to ask if you have heard anything of your daughter."
"Not a word as yet, Miss DeGraf, Will is out with the horse and buggy
doing his best to get information. But Lucy has been gone so long now
that I realize it will be difficult to find her, if, indeed, the poor
girl has not--is not--"
Her voice broke.
"Oh, you don't fear that, do you, Mrs. Rogers?" asked Beth, quickly.
"I fear anything--everything!" wailed the poor creature, the tears
streaming from between her closed lids. "My darling was frantic with
grief, and she couldn't bear the humiliation and disgrace of her
position. Will told you, didn't he?"
"Yes, of course. But it wasn't so bad, Mrs. Rogers; it wasn't a
desperate condition, by any means."
"With poor Tom in prison for years--and just for trying to help her."
"Tom isn't in prison, you know, any more," said Beth quietly. "He has
"Last evening. His fault has been forgiven, and he is now free."
The woman sat silent for a time. Then she asked:
"You have done this, Mr. Forbes?"
"Why, Miss DeGraf and I assisted, perhaps. The young man is not really
"Tom's a fine boy!" she cried, with eagerness. "He's honest and true,
Mr. Forbes--he is, indeed!"
"I think so," said Kenneth.
"If he wasn't my Lucy would never have loved him. He had a bright future
before him, sir, and that's why my child went mad when he ruined his
life for her sake."
"Was she mad, do you think?" asked Beth, softly.
"She must have been," said the mother, sadly. "Lucy was a sensible girl,
and until this thing happened she was as bright and cheerful as the day
is long. But she is very sensitive--she inherited that from me, I
think--and Tom's action drove her distracted. At first she raved and
rambled incoherently, and Will and I feared brain fever would set in.
Then she disappeared in the night, without leaving a word or message for
us, which was unlike her--and we've never heard a word of her since.
The--the river has a strange fascination for people in that condition.
At times in my life it has almost drawn me into its depths--and I am
not mad. I have never been mad."
"Let us hope for the best, Mrs. Rogers," said Beth. "Somehow, I have an
idea this trouble will all turn out well in the end."
"Have you?" asked the woman, earnestly.
"Yes. It all came about through such a little thing--merely an unjust
"The little things are the ones that ruin lives," she said. "Will you
let me tell you something of myself? You have been so kind to us, my
dear, that I feel you ought to know."
"I shall be glad to know whatever you care to tell me," said Beth,
"I am the wife of a poor farmer," began the woman, speaking softly and
with some hesitation, but gaining strength as she proceeded. "As a girl
I was considered attractive, and my father was a man of great wealth and
social standing. We lived in Baltimore. Then I fell in love with a young
man who, after obtaining my promise to marry him, found some one he
loved better and carelessly discarded me. As I have said, I have a
sensitive nature. In my girlhood I was especially susceptible to any
slight, and this young man's heartless action made it impossible for me
to remain at home and face the humiliation he had thrust upon me. My
father was a hard man, and demanded that I marry the man he had himself
chosen; but I resented this command and ran away. My mother had passed
on long before, and there was nothing to keep me at home. I came west
and secured a position to teach school in this county, and for a time I
was quite contented and succeeded in living down my disappointment. I
heard but once from my father. He had married again and disinherited me.
He forbade me to ever communicate with him again.
"At that time Will Rogers was one of the most promising and manly of the
country lads around here. He was desperately in love with me, and at
this period, when I seemed completely cut off from my old life and the
future contained no promise, I thought it best to wear out the remainder
of my existence in the seclusion of a farm-house. I put all the past
behind me, and told Will Rogers I would marry him and be a faithful
wife; but that my heart was dead. He accepted me on that condition, and
it was not until after we were married some time that my husband
realized how impossible it would ever be to arouse my affection. Then he
lost courage, and became careless and reckless. When our child came--our
Lucy--Will was devoted to her, and the baby wakened in me all the old
passionate capacity to love. Lucy drew Will and me a little closer
together, but he never recovered his youthful ambition. He was a
disappointed man, and went from bad to worse. I don't say Will hasn't
always been tender and true to me, and absolutely devoted to Lucy. But
he lost all hope of being loved as he loved me, and the disappointment
broke him down. He became an old man early in life, and his lack of
energy kept us very poor. I used to take in sewing before the accident
to my eyes, and that helped a good deal to pay expenses. But now I am
helpless, and my husband devotes all his time to me, although I beg him
to work the farm and try to earn some money.
"I wouldn't have minded the poverty; I wouldn't mind being blind, even,
if Lucy had been spared to me. I have had to bear so much in my life
that I could even bear my child's death. But to have her disappear and
not know what has become of her--whether she is living miserably or
lying at the bottom of the river--it is this that is driving me
Kenneth and Beth remained silent for a time after Mrs. Rogers had
finished her tragic story, for their hearts were full of sympathy for
the poor woman. It was hard to realize that a refined, beautiful and
educated girl had made so sad a mistake of her life and suffered so many
afflictions as a consequence. That old Will had never been a fitting
mate for his wife could readily be understood, and yet the man was still
devoted to his helpless, unresponsive spouse. The fault was not his.
The boy and the girl both perceived that there was but one way they
could assist Mrs. Rogers, and that was to discover what had become of
"Was Lucy like you, or did she resemble her father?" asked Beth.
"She is--she was very like me when I was young," replied the woman.
"There is a photograph of her on the wall there between the windows; but
it was taken five years ago, when she was a child. Now she is--she was
eighteen, and a well-developed young woman."
"I've been looking at the picture," said Kenneth.
"And you mustn't think of her as dead, Mrs. Rogers," said Beth,
pleadingly. "I'm sure she is alive, and that we shall find her. We're
going right to work, and everything possible shall be done to trace your
daughter. Don't worry, please. Be as cheerful as you can, and leave the
search to us."
The woman sighed.
"Will believes she is alive, too," she said. "He can't sleep or rest
till he finds her, for my husband loves her as well as I do. But
sometimes I feel it's wicked to hope she is alive. I know what she
suffers, for I suffered, myself; and life isn't worth living when
despair and disappointment fills it."
"I cannot see why Lucy shouldn't yet be happy," protested Beth. "Tom
Gates is now free, and can begin life anew."
"His trouble will follow him everywhere," said Mrs. Rogers, with
conviction. "Who will employ a bookkeeper, or even a clerk who has been
guilty of forgery?"
"I think I shall give him employment," replied Kenneth.
"You, Mr. Forbes!"
"Yes. I'm not afraid of a boy who became a criminal to save the girl he
"But all the world knows of his crime!" she exclaimed.
"The world forgets these things sooner than you suppose," he answered.
"I need a secretary, and in that position Tom Gates will quickly be able
to live down this unfortunate affair. And if he turns out as well as I
expect, he will soon be able to marry Lucy and give her a comfortable
home. So now nothing remains but to find your girl, and we'll try to do
that, I assure you."
Mrs. Rogers was crying softly by this time, but it was from joy and
relief. When they left her she promised to be as cheerful as possible
and to look on the bright side of life.
"I can't thank you," she said, "so I won't try. You must know how
grateful we are to you."
As Beth and Kenneth drove back to Elmhurst they were both rather silent,
for they had been strongly affected by the scene at the farm-house.
"It's so good of you, Ken, to take Tom Gates into your employ," said the
girl, pressing her cousin's arm. "And I'm sure he'll be true and
"I really need him, Beth," said the boy. "There is getting to be too
much correspondence for Mr. Watson to attend to, and I ought to relieve
him of many other details. It's a good arrangement, and I'm glad I
thought of it."
They had almost reached Elmhurst when they met the Honorable Erastus
Hopkins driving along the road. On the seat beside him was a young girl,
and as the vehicles passed each other Beth gave a start and clung to the
"Oh, Ken!" she cried, "did you see? Did you see that?"
"Yes; it's my respected adversary."
"But the girl! It's Lucy--I'm sure it's Lucy! She's the living image of
Mrs. Rogers! Stop--stop--and let's go back!"
"Nonsense, Beth," said the boy. "It can't be."
"But it is. I'm sure it is!"
"I saw the girl," he said. "She was laughing gaily and talking with the
Honorable Erastus. Is that your idea of the mad, broken-hearted Lucy
"N-no. She was laughing, Ken, I noticed it."
"And she wasn't unhappy a bit. You mustn't think that every pretty girl
with dark eyes you meet is Lucy Rogers, you know. And there's another
"Any companion of Mr. Hopkins can be easily traced."
"That's true," answered the girl, thoughtfully. "I must have been
mistaken," she added, with a sigh.
BETH MEETS A REBUFF
The campaign was now growing warm. Mr. Hopkins had come to realize that
he had "the fight of his life" on his hands, and that defeat meant his
political ruin. Close-fisted and miserly as he was, no one knew so well
as the Honorable Erastus how valuable this position of Representative
was to him in a financial way, and that by winning re-election he could
find means to reimburse himself for all he had expended in the fight.
So, to the surprise of the Democratic Committee and all his friends, Mr.
Hopkins announced that he would oppose Forbes's aggressive campaign with
an equal aggressiveness, and spend as many dollars in doing so as might
He did not laugh at his opponents any longer. To himself he admitted
their shrewdness and activity and acknowledged that an experienced head
was managing their affairs.
One of Mr. Hopkins's first tasks after calling his faithful henchmen
around him was to make a careful canvass of the voters of his district,
to see what was still to be accomplished.
This canvass was quite satisfactory, for final report showed only about
a hundred majority for Forbes. The district was naturally Republican by
six hundred majority, and Hopkins had previously been elected by a
plurality of eighty-three; so that all the electioneering of the girl
politicians, and the expenditure of vast sums of money in painting
fences and barns, buying newspapers and flaunting Forbes banners in the
breezes, had not cut into the Hopkins following to any serious extent.
But, to offset this cheering condition, the Democratic agents who made
the canvass reported that there was an air of uncertainty throughout the
district, and that many of those who declared for Hopkins were lukewarm
and faint-hearted, and might easily be induced to change their votes.
This was what must be prevented. The "weak-kneed" contingency must be
strengthened and fortified, and a couple of hundred votes in one way or
another secured from the opposition.
The Democratic Committee figured out a way to do this. Monroe County,
where both Forbes and Hopkins resided, was one of the Democratic
strongholds of the State. The portions of Washington and Jefferson
Counties included in the Eighth District were as strongly Republican,
and being more populous gave to the district its natural Republican
majority. On the same ticket that was to elect a Representative to the
State Legislature was the candidate for Sheriff of Monroe County. A man
named Cummings was the Republican and Seth Reynolds, the liveryman, the
Democratic nominee. Under ordinary conditions Reynolds was sure to be
elected, but the Committee proposed to sacrifice him in order to elect
Hopkins. The Democrats would bargain with the Republicans to vote for
the Republican Sheriff if the Republicans would vote for the Democratic
Representative. This "trading votes," which was often done, was
considered by the politicians quite legitimate. The only thing necessary
was to "fix" Seth Reynolds, and this Hopkins arranged personally. The
office of Sheriff would pay about two thousand a year, and this sum
Hopkins agreed to pay the liveryman and so relieve him of all the
annoyance of earning it.
Reynolds saw the political necessity of this sacrifice, and consented
readily to the arrangement. Mr. Cummings, who was to profit by the deal,
was called to a private consultation and agreed to slaughter Kenneth
Forbes to secure votes for himself. It was thought that this clever
arrangement would easily win the fight for Hopkins.
But the Honorable Erastus had no intention of "taking chances," or
"monkeying with fate," as he tersely expressed it. Every scheme known to
politicians must be worked, and none knew the intricate game better than
Hopkins. This was why he held several long conferences with his friend
Marshall, the manager at the mill. And this was why Kenneth and Beth
discovered him conversing with the young woman in the buggy. Mr. Hopkins
had picked her up from the path leading from the rear gate of the
Elmhurst grounds, and she had given him accurate information concerning
the movements of the girl campaigners. The description she gave of the
coming reception to the Woman's Political League was so humorous and
diverting that they were both laughing heartily over the thing when the
young people passed them, and thus Mr. Hopkins failed to notice who the
occupants of the other vehicle were.
He talked for an hour with the girl, gave her explicit instructions,
thrust some money into her hand, and then drove her back to the bend in
the path whence she quickly made her way up to the great house.
Louise was making great preparations to entertain the Woman's Political
League, an organization she had herself founded, the members of which
were wives of farmers in the district. These women were flattered by the
attention of the young lady and had promised to assist in electing Mr.
Forbes. Louise hoped for excellent results from this organization and
wished the entertainment to be so effective in winning their good-will
that they would work earnestly for the cause in which they were
Patsy and Beth supported their cousin loyally and assisted in the
preparations. The Fairview band was engaged to discourse as much harmony
as it could produce, and the resources of the great house were taxed to
entertain the guests. Tables were spread on the lawn and a dainty but
substantial repast was to be served.
The day of the entertainment was as sunny and mild as heart could
By ten o'clock the farm wagons began to drive up, loaded with women and
children, for all were invited except the grown men. This was the first
occasion within a generation when such an entertainment had been given
at Elmhurst, and the only one within the memory of man where the
neighbors and country people had been invited guests. So all were eager
to attend and enjoy the novel event.
The gardens and grounds were gaily decorated with Chinese and Japanese
lanterns, streamers and Forbes banners. There were great tanks of
lemonade, and tables covered with candies and fruits for the children,
and maids and other servants distributed the things and looked after the
comfort of the guests. The band played briskly, and before noon the
scene was one of great animation. A speakers' stand, profusely
decorated, had been erected on the lawn, and hundreds of folding chairs
provided for seats. The attendance was unexpectedly large, and the girls
were delighted, foreseeing great success for their fête.
"We ought to have more attendants, Beth," said Louise, approaching her
cousin. "Won't you run into the house and see if Martha can't spare one
or two more maids?"
Beth went at once, and found the housekeeper in her little room. Martha
was old and somewhat feeble in body, but her mind was still active and
her long years of experience in directing the household at Elmhurst made
her a very useful and important personage. She was very fond of the
young ladies, whom she had known when Aunt Jane was the mistress here,
and Beth was her especial favorite.
So she greeted the girl cordially, and said:
"Maids? My dear, I haven't another one to give you, and my legs are too
tottering to be of any use. I counted on Eliza Parsons, the new girl I
hired for the linen room and to do mending; but Eliza said she had a
headache this morning and couldn't stand the sun, So I let her off. But
she didn't seem very sick to me."
"Perhaps she is better and will help us until after the luncheon is
served," said Beth. "Where is she, Martha? I'll go and ask her."
"I'd better show you the way, miss. She's in her own room."
The housekeeper led the way and Beth followed. When she rapped upon the
door, a sweet, quiet voice said:
The girl entered, and gave an involuntary cry of surprise. Standing
before her was the young girl she had seen riding with Mr. Hopkins--the
girl she had declared to be the missing daughter of Mrs. Rogers.
For a moment Beth stood staring, while the new maid regarded her with
composure and a slight smile upon her beautiful face. She was dressed in
the regulation costume of the maids at Elmhurst, a plain black gown with
white apron and cap.
"I--I beg your pardon," said Beth, with a slight gasp; for the likeness
to Mrs. Rogers was something amazing. "Aren't you Lucy Rogers?"
The maid raised her eyebrows with a gesture of genuine surprise. Then
she gave a little laugh, and replied:
"No, Miss Beth. I'm Elizabeth Parsons."
"But it can't be," protested the girl. "How do you know my name, and why
haven't I seen you here before?"
"I'm not a very important person at Elmhurst," replied Eliza, in a
pleasant, even tone. "I obtained the situation only a few days ago. I
attend to the household mending, you know, and care for the linen. But
one can't be here without knowing the names of the young ladies, so I
recognize you as Miss Beth, one of Mr. Forbes's cousins."
"You speak like an educated person," said Beth, wonderingly. "Where is
For the first time the maid seemed a little confused, and her gaze
wandered from the face of her visitor.
"Will you excuse my answering that question?" she asked.
"It is very simple and natural," persisted Beth. "Why cannot you answer
"Excuse me, please. I--I am not well today. I have a headache."
She sat down in a rocking chair, and clasping her hands in her lap,
rocked slowly back and forth.
"I'm sorry," said Beth. "I hoped you would be able to assist me on the
lawn. There are so many people that we can't give them proper
Eliza Parsons shook her head.
"I am not able," she declared. "I abhor crowds. They--they excite me, in
some way, and I--I can't bear them. You must excuse me."
Beth looked at the strange girl without taking the hint to retire.
Somehow, she could not rid herself of the impression that whether or not
she was mistaken in supposing Eliza to be the missing Lucy, she had
stumbled upon a sphinx whose riddle was well worth solving.
But Eliza bore the scrutiny with quiet unconcern. She even seemed mildly
amused at the attention she attracted. Beth was a beautiful girl--the
handsomest of the three cousins, by far; yet Eliza surpassed her in
natural charm, and seemed well aware of the fact. Her manner was neither
independent nor assertive, but rather one of well-bred composure and
calm reliance. Beth felt that she was intruding and knew that she ought
to go; yet some fascination held her to the spot. Her eyes wandered to
the maid's hands. However her features and form might repress any
evidence of nervousness, these hands told a different story. The thin
fingers clasped and unclasped in little spasmodic jerks and belied the
quiet smile upon the face above them.
"I wish," said Beth, slowly, "I knew you."
A sudden wave of scarlet swept over Eliza's face. She rose quickly to
her feet, with an impetuous gesture that made her visitor catch her
"I wish I knew myself," she cried, fiercely. "Why do you annoy me in
this manner? What am I to you? Will you leave me alone in my own room,
or must I go away to escape you?"
"I will go," said Beth, a little frightened at the passionate appeal.
Eliza closed the door behind her with a decided slam, and a key clicked
in the lock. The sound made Beth indignant, and she hurried back to
where her cousins were busy with the laughing, chattering throng of
The lawn fête was a tremendous success, and every farmer's wife was
proud of her satin badge bearing the monogram: "W. P. L.," and the
words: "FORBES FOR REPRESENTATIVE."
Certain edibles, such as charlotte-russe, Spanish cream, wine jellies
and mousses, to say nothing of the caviars and anchovies, were wholly
unknown to them; but they ate the dainties with a wise disregard of
their inexperience and enjoyed them immensely.
The old butler was a general in his way, and in view of the fact that
the staff of servants at Elmhurst was insufficient to cope with such a
throng, he allowed Louise to impress several farmers' daughters into
service, and was able to feed everyone without delay and in an abundant
and satisfactory manner.
After luncheon began the speech-making, interspersed with music by the
Louise made the preliminary address, and, although her voice was not
very strong, the silent attention of her hearers permitted her to be
She called attention to the fact that this campaign was important
because it promised more beautiful and attractive houses for the farmers
and townsmen alike.
"We had all grown so accustomed to advertising signs," she said, "that
we failed to notice how thick they were becoming or how bold and
overpowering. From a few scattered announcements on fence boards, they
had crowded themselves into more prominent places until the barns and
sheds and the very rocks were daubed with glaring letters asking us to
buy the medicines, soaps, tobaccos, and other wares the manufacturers
were anxious to sell. Every country road became an advertising avenue.
Scarcely a country house was free from signs of some sort. Yet the
people tamely submitted to this imposition because they knew no way to
avoid it. When Mr. Forbes began his campaign to restore the homesteads
to their former beauty and dignity, a cry was raised against him. But
this was because the farmers did not understand how much this reform
meant to them. So we gave them an object lesson. We painted out all the
signs in this section at our own expense, that you might see how much
more beautiful your homes are without them. We believe that none of you
will ever care to allow advertising signs on your property again, and
that the quiet refinement of this part of the country will induce many
other places to follow our example, until advertisers are forced to
confine themselves to newspapers, magazines and circulars, their only
legitimate channels. This much Mr. Forbes has already done for you, and
he will now tell you what else, if he is elected, he proposes to do."
Kenneth then took the platform and was welcomed with a hearty cheer. He
modestly assured them that a Representative in the State Legislature
could accomplish much good for his district if he honestly desired to do
so. That was what a Representative was for--to represent his people. It
was folly to elect any man who would forget that duty and promote only
his own interests through the position of power to which the people had
appointed him. Mr. Forbes admitted that he had undertaken this campaign
because he was opposed to offensive advertising signs; but now he had
become interested in other issues, and was anxious to be elected so that
he could carry on the work of reform. They needed more school-houses for
their children, and many other things which he hoped to provide as their
During this oration Beth happened to glance up at the house, and her
sharp eyes detected the maid, Eliza, standing shielded behind the
half-closed blind of an upper window and listening to, as well as
watching, the proceedings below. Then she remembered how the girl had
been laughing and talking with Mr. Hopkins, when she first saw her, and
with sudden dismay realized that Eliza was a spy in the service of the
Her first impulse was to denounce the maid at once, and have her
discharged; but the time was not opportune, so she waited until the
festivities were ended.
It had been a great day for the families of the neighboring farmers, and
they drove homeward in the late afternoon full of enthusiasm over the
royal manner in which they had been entertained and admiration for the
girls who had provided the fun and feasting. Indeed, there were more
kindly thoughts expressed for the inhabitants of Elmhurst than had ever
before been heard in a single day in the history of the county, and the
great and the humble seemed more closely drawn together.
When the last guest had departed Beth got her cousins and Kenneth
together and told them of her discovery of the spy.
Kenneth was at first greatly annoyed, and proposed to call Martha and
have the false maid ejected from the premises; but Patsy's wise little
head counselled caution in handling the matter.
"Now that we know her secret," she said, "the girl cannot cause us more
real harm, and there may be a way to circumvent this unscrupulous
Hopkins and turn the incident to our own advantage. Let's think it over
carefully before we act."
"There's another thing," said Beth, supporting her cousin. "I'm
interested in the mystery surrounding the girl. I now think I was wrong
in suspecting her to be the lost Lucy Rogers; but there is surely some
romance connected with her, and she is not what she seems to be. I'd
like to study her a little."
"It was absurd to connect her with Lucy Rogers," observed Kenneth, "for
there is nothing in her character to remind one of the unhappy girl."
"Except her looks," added Beth. "She's the living image of Mrs. Rogers."
"That isn't important," replied Louise. "It is probably a mere
coincidence. None of us have ever seen the real Lucy, and she may not
resemble her mother at all."
"Mrs. Rogers claims she does," said Beth. "But anyhow, I have a wish to
keep this girl at the house, where I can study her character."
"Then keep her, my dear," decided Kenneth. "I'll set a couple of men to
watch the gates, and if she goes out we'll know whom she meets. The most
she can do is to report our movements to Mr. Hopkins, and there's no
great harm in that."
So the matter was left, for the time; and as if to verify Beth's
suspicions Eliza was seen to leave the grounds after dusk and meet Mr.
Hopkins in the lane. They conversed together a few moments, and then the
maid calmly returned and went to her room.
The next day Mr. Hopkins scattered flaring hand-bills over the district
which were worded in a way designed to offset any advantage his opponent
had gained from the lawn fête of the previous day. They read: "Hopkins,
the Man of the Times, is the Champion of the Signs of the Times. Forbes,
who never earned a dollar in his life, but inherited his money, is
trying to take the dollars out of the pockets of the farmers by
depriving them of the income derived by selling spaces for advertising
signs. He is robbing the farmers while claiming he wants to beautify
their homes. The farmers can't eat beauty; they want money. Therefore
they are going to vote for the Honorable Erastus Hopkins for
Representative." Then followed an estimate of the money paid the farmers
of the district by the advertisers during the past five years, amounting
to several thousands of dollars in the aggregate. The circular ended in
this way: "Hopkins challenges Forbes to deny these facts. Hopkins is
willing to meet Forbes before the public at any time and place he may
select, to settle this argument in joint debate."
The girls accepted the challenge at once. Within two days every farmer
had received a notice that Mr. Forbes would meet Mr. Hopkins at the
Fairview Opera House on Saturday afternoon to debate the question as to
whether advertising signs brought good or evil to the community.
The campaign was now getting hot. Because of the activity of the
opposing candidates every voter in the district had become more or less
interested in the fight, and people were taking one side or the other
with unusual earnestness.
Mr. Hopkins was not greatly pleased that his challenge had been
accepted. He had imagined that the Forbes party would ignore it and
leave him the prestige of crowing over his opponent's timidity. But he
remembered how easily he had subdued Kenneth at the school-house meeting
before the nominations, and had no doubt of his ability to repeat the
He was much incensed against the girls who were working for Kenneth
Forbes, for he realized that they were proving an important factor in
the campaign. He even attributed to them more than they deserved, for
Uncle John's telling activities were so quietly conducted that he was
personally lost sight of entirely by Mr. Hopkins.
Mr. Hopkins had therefore become so enraged that, against the advice of
his friends, he issued a circular sneering at "Women in Politics." The
newspapers having been subsidized by the opposition so early in the
game, Mr. Hopkins had driven to employ the circular method of
communicating with the voters. Scarcely a day passed now that his corps
of distributors did not leave some of his literature at every dwelling
in the district.
His tirade against the girls was neither convincing nor in good taste.
He asked the voters if they were willing to submit to "petticoat
government," and permit a "lot of boarding-school girls, with more
boldness than modesty" to dictate the policies of the community. "These
frizzle-headed females," continued the circular, "are trying to make
your wives and daughters as rebellious and unreasonable as they are
themselves; but no man of sense will permit a woman to influence his
vote. It is a disgrace to this district that Mr. Forbes allows his
girlish campaign to be run by a lot of misses who should be at home
darning stockings; or, if they were not able to do that, practicing
"Good!" exclaimed shrewd Miss Patsy, when she read this circular. "If
I'm not much mistaken, Mr. Hopkins has thrown a boomerang. Every woman
who attended the fête is now linked with us as an ally, and every one of
them will resent this foolish circular."
"I'm sorry," said Kenneth, "that you girls should be forced to endure
this. I feared something like it when you insisted on taking a hand in
But they laughed at him and at Mr. Hopkins, and declared they were not
at all offended.
"One cannot touch pitch without being defiled," said Mr. Watson,
gravely, "and politics, as Mr. Hopkins knows it, is little more than
"I cannot see that there is anything my girls have done to forfeit
respect and admiration," asserted Uncle John, stoutly. "To accuse them
of boldness or immodesty is absurd. They have merely gone to work in a
business-like manner and used their wits and common-sense in educating
the voters. Really, my dears, I'm more proud of you today than I've ever
been before," he concluded.
And Uncle John was right. There had been no loss of dignity by any one
of the three, and their evident refinement, as well as their gentleness
and good humor, had until now protected them from any reproach. It had
remained for Mr. Hopkins to accuse them, and his circular had a wide
influence in determining the issue of the campaign.
Kenneth had sent word to Tom Gates, asking the young man to come to
Elmhurst, but it was not until two days after the lawn party that Tom
appeared and asked permission to see Mr. Forbes.
Beth and Louise were with Kenneth at the time, and were eager to remain
during the interview, so the young man was shown into the library.
Beth could scarcely recognize in him the calm and cheerful Tom Gates
they had visited in the county jail; for his face was drawn with care
and anxiety, eyes were bloodshot, and his former neat appearance was
changed to one careless and untidy.
Kenneth scrutinized him closely.
"What have you been up to, Tom?" he asked.
"I've been searching for Lucy, sir, night and day. I haven't slept a
wink since I heard the awful news of her sickness and escape. Where do
you think she can be, sir?"
His question was full of agonized entreaty, and his manner pitifully
"I don't know," answered Kenneth. "Where have you searched?"
"Everywhere, sir, that she might be likely to go. I've inquired in every
town, and along every road leading out of the county. She didn't take a
train, because poor Lucy hadn't any money--and I've asked at all the
stations. And--and--along the river they say no girl answering her
description has been seen."
"It's strange," remarked Kenneth, thoughtfully, while the girls regarded
the youth with silent sympathy.
"If you knew Lucy, sir, you'd realize how strange it is," went on young
Gates, earnestly. "She was such a gentle, shrinking girl, as shy and
retiring as a child. And she never did a thing that would cause anyone
the least worry or unhappiness. But she was out of her head, sir, and
didn't know what she was about. That was the reason she went away. And
from the moment she left her home all trace of her was lost."
"One would think," observed Kenneth, "that a poor, demented girl,
wandering about the country, would be noticed by scores of people. Did
she take any clothing with her?"
"Only the dress she had on, sir, and not even a hat or a shawl."
"What was her dress like?" asked Beth, quickly.
"It was a light grey in color, and plainly made. She wore a white
collar, but that is all we can be certain she had on. You see her mother
is blind, and old Will doesn't observe very closely."
"Does Lucy resemble her mother?" inquired Beth.
"Very much, miss. She was a beautiful girl, everyone acknowledged. And
it's all my fault--all my fault. I thought to save her, and drove her
"You might have known that," declared Kenneth. "A girl of her character,
sensitive to a fault, would be greatly shocked to find the man she loved
"It was for her sake."
"That is a poor excuse. If you had waited Lucy would have proved her
"They threatened to arrest her, sir. It would have killed her."
"They wouldn't dare arrest her on suspicion."
"The Squierses would dare do anything. You don't know old Mrs. Squiers."
"I know the law, sir, and in any event it was a foolish thing, as well
as criminal, to forge a check to get the money they demanded."
"You are right, sir," replied Tom Gates, despondently. "It was foolish
and criminal. I wouldn't mind my own punishment, but it drove my Lucy
"See here," said Kenneth, sternly, "you are getting morbid, young man,
and pretty soon you'll be mad yourself. If Lucy is found do you want her
to see you in this condition?"
"Can she be found, sir, do you think?"
"We are trying to find her," replied Kenneth. "You have failed, it
seems, and Will Rogers had failed. I've had one of the cleverest
detectives of Chicago trying to find her for the last three days."
"Oh, Kenneth!" exclaimed Beth. "I didn't know that. How good of you!"
"It must have been the detective that came to see Mrs. Rogers," said
Tom, musingly. "She told me a strange man had been there from Mr.
Forbes, to inquire all about Lucy."
"Yes; he makes a report to me every evening," remarked Kenneth; "and Mr.
Burke says this is the most mystifying case he has ever encountered. So
far there isn't a clew to follow. But you may rest assured that what any
man can do, Burke will do."
"I'm so grateful, sir!" said Tom.
"Then you must show it by being a man, and not by giving way to your
trouble in this foolish manner."
"I'll try, sir, now that there's something to hope for."
"There's a good deal to hope for. Despair won't help you. You must go to
"I will. It won't be very easy to get work, for I've disgraced myself in
this neighborhood, and I can't leave here till something is known of
Lucy's fate. But I'll do something--any kind of work--if I can get it."
"I need someone to assist me in my correspondence," said Kenneth. "Would
you like to be my secretary?"
"Me, Mr. Forbes--me!"
"Yes, Tom. I'll pay you twenty dollars a week to start with, and more if
you serve me faithfully. And you'll board here, of course."
Then Tom Gates broke down and began to cry like a child, although he
tried hard to control himself.
"You--you must forgive me, Mr. Forbes," he said, penitently; "I--I've
been without sleep for so long that I haven't any nerves left."
"Then you must go to sleep now, and get a good rest." He turned to Beth.
"Will you see Martha," he asked, "and have her give Tom Gates a room?"
She went on her errand at once, and gradually the young man recovered
"I can do typewriting and stenography, Mr. Forbes," he said, "and I can
keep accounts. I'll serve you faithfully, sir."
"We'll talk of all this by and by, Tom," replied Kenneth, kindly. "Just
now you must have some sleep and get your strength back. And don't worry
about Lucy. Burke will do everything that can be done, and I am
confident he will be able to trace the girl in time."
"Thank you, sir."
Then he followed the butler away to his room, and after the girls had
discussed him and expressed their sympathy for the unfortunate fellow,
they all turned their attention to the important matter of the campaign.
The debate with Hopkins was the thing that occupied them just now, and
when Patsy joined the group of workers they began to discuss some means
of scoring a decisive victory at the Fairview Opera House. The Honorable
Erastus still insisted upon making the anti-sign fight the prominent
issue of the campaign, and they must reply forcibly to the misleading
statements made in his last hand-bill.
Meantime Tom Gates was sunk in the deep sleep of physical exhaustion,
and the day wore away before he wakened. When at last he regained
consciousness he found the sun sinking in the west and feared he had
been guilty of indiscretion. He remembered that he was Mr. Forbes's
secretary now, and that Mr. Forbes might want him. He was not yet
thoroughly rested, but night was approaching and he reflected that he
could obtain all the sleep that he needed then.
So, greatly refreshed, and in a quieter mood than he had been for days,
the young man dressed and entered the hall to find his way downstairs.
It happened that Beth, whose room was near this rear corridor, had just
gone there to dress for dinner, and as she was closing her door she
heard a wild, impassioned cry:
Quickly she sprang out into the hall and turned the corner in time to
see a strange tableau.
Young Gates was standing with his arms outstretched toward Eliza
Parsons, who, a few paces away, had her back to the door of her own
chamber, from which she had evidently just stepped. She stood
motionless, looking curiously at the youth who confronted her.
"Lucy! don't you know me?" he asked, his voice trembling with emotion.
"To begin with," said the girl, composedly, "my name happens to be
Eliza. And as we've not been properly introduced I really don't see why
I should know you," she added, with a light laugh.
Tom Gates shrank away from her as if he had been struck.
"You can't be Lucy!" he murmured. "And yet--and yet--oh, you must be
Lucy! You must know me! Look at me, dear--I'm Tom. I'm your own Tom,
"It's very gratifying, I'm sure, young man," said the girl, a touch of
scorn in her tones. "If you're my own Tom you'll perhaps stand out of my
way and let me go to my work."
Without another word he backed up again; the wall and permitted her to
sweep by him, which she did with a gesture of disdain.
When Eliza Parsons had disappeared down the back stairs Beth drew a long
breath and approached Tom Gates, who still stood by the wall staring at
the place where the girl had disappeared.
"I overheard," said Beth. "Tell me, Tom, is she really like Lucy?"
He looked at her with a dazed expression, as if he scarcely comprehended
"Could you have been mistaken?" persisted the questioner.
He passed his hand over his eyes and gave a shudder.
"Either it was Lucy or her ghost," he muttered.
"Eliza Parsons is no ghost," declared Beth. "She's one of the maids here
at Elmhurst, and you're quite likely to see her again."
"Has she been here long?" he asked, eagerly.
"No; only a few days."
"When I first saw her I was struck by her resemblance to Mrs. Rogers,"
continued the girl.
"But she's so different," said Tom, choking back a sob. "Lucy couldn't
be so--so airy, so heartless. She isn't at all that style of a girl,
"She may be acting," suggested Beth.
But he shook his head gloomily.
"No; Lucy couldn't act that way. She's quick and impulsive, but she--she
couldn't act. And she wouldn't treat me that way, either, Miss Beth.
Lucy and I have been sweethearts for years, and I know every expression
of her dear face. But the look that this girl gave me was one that my
Lucy never could assume. I must have been mistaken. I--I'm sure I was
Beth sighed. She was disappointed.
"I suppose," continued Tom, "that I've thought of Lucy so long and so
much, lately, and worried so over her disappearance, that I'm not quite
myself, and imagined this girl was more like her than she really is.
What did you say her name was?"
"Thank you. Can you tell me where I'll find Mr. Forbes?"
"He's getting ready for dinner, now, and won't need you at present."
"Then I'll go back to my room. It--it was a great shock to me, that
likeness, Miss DeGraf."
"I can well believe it," said Beth; and then she went to her own
apartment, greatly puzzled at a resemblance so strong that it had even
deceived Lucy Rogers's own sweetheart.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
"If she is really Lucy Rogers, she'll be missing tomorrow morning," said
Beth when she had told her cousins of the encounter in the corridor.
But Eliza Parsons was still at Elmhurst the next day, calmly pursuing
her duties, and evidently having forgotten or decided to ignore the
young man who had so curiously mistaken her for another. Beth took
occasion to watch her movements, so far as she could, and came to the
conclusion that the girl was not acting a part. She laughed naturally
and was too light-hearted and gay to harbor a care of any sort in her
But there was a mystery about her; that could not be denied. Even if she
were but a paid spy of Erastus Hopkins there was a story in this girl's
life, brief as it had been.
Beth was full of curiosity to know this story.
As for Tom Gates, he had been so horrified by his mistake that he tried
to avoid meeting Eliza again. This was not difficult because the girl
kept pretty closely to the linen room, and Tom was chiefly occupied in
Kenneth had little chance to test his secretary's abilities just then,
because the girls pounced upon the new recruit and used his services in
a variety of ways. Tom Gates's anxiety to give satisfaction made him
willing to do anything, but they refrained from sending him often to
town because he was sensitive to the averted looks and evident repulsion
of those who knew he had recently been a "jail-bird." But there was
plenty for him to do at Elmhurst, where they were all as busy as bees;
and whatever the young man undertook he accomplished in a satisfactory
Saturday forenoon the three girls, with Kenneth, Mr. Watson and Uncle
John, rode over to Fairview to prepare for the debate that was to take
place in the afternoon, leaving only Tom Gates at home. As Mr. Hopkins
had thrust upon his opponent the task of naming the place and time, the
Republican candidate was obliged to make all the arrangements, and pay
all the costs. But whatever the girl managers undertook they did well.
So the Opera House had been in the hands of a special committee for two
days, the orchestra had been hired, and the news of the joint debate had
spread far and wide.
The party from Elmhurst lunched at the Fairview Hotel, and then the
girls hurried to the Opera House while Kenneth remained to attend a
conference of the Republican Committee. These gentlemen were much
worried over the discovery of a scheme to trade votes that had been
sprung, and that Forbes and Reynolds were being sacrificed for Hopkins
and Cummings. Mr. Cummings was called into the meeting, and he denied
that the trading was being done with his consent, but defiantly refused
to make a public announcement to that effect.
The matter was really serious, because every vote lost in that way
counted as two for the other side, and Hopkins's rabid hand-bills had
influenced many of the more ignorant voters and created endless disputes
that were not of benefit to the Republican party.
"As nearly as we can figure from our recent canvass," said Mr.
Cunningham, the chairman, "we are fast losing ground, and our chances of
success are smaller than if no interest in the election had been
aroused. Hopkins has cut our majority down to nothing, and it will be a
hard struggle to carry our ticket through to success. This is the more
discouraging because Mr. Forbes has spent so much money, while Hopkins's
expenses have been very little."
"I do not mind that," said Kenneth, quietly. "It was my desire that the
voters should fully understand the issues of the campaign. Then, if they
vote against me, it is because they are not worthy of honest
representation in the Legislature, and I shall in the future leave them
to their own devices."
The committee adjourned a little before two o'clock with rather grave
faces, and prepared to attend the debate at the Opera House. Mr.
Cunningham feared this debate would prove a mistake, as it would give
Hopkins a chance to ridicule and brow-beat his opponent in public, and
his greatest talent as a speaker lay in that direction.
As Kenneth and his supporters approached the Opera House they heard loud
cheering, and from a band-wagon covered with bunting and banners, in
which he had driven to the meeting, descended the Honorable Erastus. He
met Kenneth face to face, and the latter said pleasantly:
"Good afternoon, Mr. Hopkins."
"Ah, it's Forbes, isn't it?" replied Hopkins, slightingly. "I've met you
before, somewheres, haven't I?"
"You have, sir."
"Glad you're here, Forbes; glad you're here," continued the
Representative, airily, as he made his way through the crowd that
blocked the entrance. "These meetings are educational to young men.
Girls all well, I hope?"
There was a boisterous laugh at this sally, and Mr. Hopkins smiled and
entered the Opera House, while Kenneth followed with the feeling that he
would take great delight in punching the Honorable Erastus's nose at the
The house was packed full of eager spectators who had come to see "the
fun." Although the girls had taken charge of all the arrangements they
had devoted the left side of the ample stage to the use of the Hopkins
party, where a speaker's table and chairs for important guests had been
placed. The right side was similarly arranged for the Forbes party, and
between the two the entire center of the stage was occupied by a group
of fifty young girls. Above this group a great banner was suspended,
reading: "The Signs of the Times," a catchword Mr. Hopkins had employed
throughout the campaign. But the most astonishing thing was the
appearance of the group of girls. They all wore plain white slips, upon
which a variety of signs had been painted in prominent letters. Some
costumes advertised baking-powders, others patent medicines, others
soaps, chewing tobacco, breakfast foods, etc. From where they were
seated in full view of the vast audience the girls appeared as a mass of
advertising signs, and the banner above them indicated quite plainly
that these were the "Signs of the Times."
Mr. Hopkins, as he observed this scene, smiled with satisfaction. He
believed some of his friends had prepared this display to assist him and
to disconcert the opposition, for nothing could have clinched his
arguments better than the pretty young girls covered with advertisements
of well known products. Even the Eagle Eye Breakfast Food was well
After the orchestra had finished a selection, Mr. Hopkins rose to make
the first argument and was greeted with cheers.
"We are having a jolly campaign, my dear friends," he began; "but you
musn't take it altogether as a joke; because, while Mr. Forbes's erratic
views and actions have done little real harm, we have been educated to
an appreciation of certain benefits we enjoy which otherwise might have
escaped our attention.
"This is a progressive, strenuous age, and no section of the country has
progressed more rapidly than this, the Eighth District of our great and
glorious State. I may say without danger of contradiction that the
people I have the honor to represent in the State Legislature, and
expect to have the honor of representing the next term, are the most
intelligent, the most thoughtful and the most prosperous to be found in
any like district in the United States. (Cheers.) Who, then, dares to
denounce them as fools? Who dares interfere with these liberties, who
dares intrude uninvited into their premises and paint out the signs they
have permitted to occupy their fences and barns and sheds? Who would do
these things but an impertinent meddler who is so inexperienced in life
that he sets his own flimsy judgment against that of the people?"
The orator paused impressively to wait for more cheers, but the audience
was silent. In the outskirts of the crowd a faint hissing began to be
heard. It reached the speaker's ear and he hurriedly resumed the
"I do not say Mr. Forbes is not a good citizen," said he, "but that he
is misguided and unreasonable. A certain degree of deference is due the
young man because he inherited considerable wealth from his uncle,
Again the hisses began, and Mr. Hopkins knew he must abandon personal
attacks or he would himself be discredited before his hearers. Kenneth
and his supporters sat silent in their places, the three girls, who were
now well known in the district, forming part of the Republican group;
and none of them displayed the least annoyance at the vituperation Mr.
Hopkins had employed.
"I have already called your attention in my circulars," resumed the
speaker, "to the fact that advertising signs are the source of large
income to the farmers of this district. I find that three thousand,
seven hundred and eighty-three dollars have been paid the farmers in the
last five years, without the least trouble or expense on their part; and
this handsome sum of money belongs to them and should not be taken away.
Stop and think for a moment. Advertising is the life of every business,
and to fight successfully the great army of advertisers whose business
is the life-blood of our institutions is as impossible as it is absurd.
Suppose every farmer in this district refused to permit signs upon his
property; what would be the result? Why, the farmers of other sections
would get that much more money for letting privileges, and you would be
that much out of pocket without suppressing the evil--if evil can attach
to an industry that pays you good money without requiring either
investment or labor in return."
After continuing in this strain for some time, Mr. Hopkins announced
that "he would now give way to his youthful and inexperienced opponent,"
and asked the audience to be patient with Mr. Forbes and considerate of
"his extraordinary prejudices."
Hopkins's policy of discrediting his opponent in advance was not very
effective, for when Kenneth arose he was more enthusiastically cheered
than Hopkins had been. The meeting was disposed to be fair-minded and
quite willing to give Mr. Forbes a chance to explain his position.
"The arguments of our distinguished Representative are well worthy of
your consideration," he began, quietly. "It is only by understanding
fully both sides of an argument that you can hope to arrive at a just
and impartial decision. Mr. Hopkins has advocated advertising signs on
the ground that your financial gain warrants permitting them to be
placed upon your premises. I will not deny his statement that three
thousand, seven hundred and eighty-three dollars have been paid the
farmers of this district by advertisers in the last five years. It is
quite likely to be true. I have here the report of the Department of
Agriculture showing that the total amount paid to farmers of the eighth
district in the last five years, for produce of all kinds, is eleven
millions, five-hundred thousand dollars."
A murmur of amazement rose from the audience. Kenneth waited until it
"This seems surprising, at first," he said, "and proves how startling
aggregate figures are. You must remember I have covered five years in
this estimate, as did Mr. Hopkins in his, and if you will figure it out
you will see that the yearly average of earnings is about six hundred
dollars to each farmer. That is a good showing, for we have a wealthy
district; but it is not surprising when reduced to that basis. Mr.
Hopkins slates that the farmers of this district received three
thousand, seven hundred and eighty-three dollars during the last five
years for advertising signs. Let us examine these figures. One-fifth of
that sum is seven hundred and fifty-six dollars and sixty cents as the
income to you per year. We have, in this district, twenty-five hundred
farmers according to the latest reports of the Bureau of Statistics, and
dividing seven hundred and fifty-six dollars and sixty cents by
twenty-five hundred, we find that each farmer receives an average of
thirty and one-quarter cents per year for allowing his fences and
buildings to be smothered in lurid advertising signs. So we find that
the money received by the farmers from the advertising amounts to about
one-quarter of one per cent of their income, a matter so insignificant
that it cannot affect them materially, one way or another.
"But, Mr. Hopkins states that you give nothing in return for this
one-quarter of one per cent, while I claim you pay tremendously for it.
For you sacrifice the privacy of your homes and lands, and lend
yourselves to the selfish desire of advertisers to use your property to
promote their sales. You have been given an example of clean barns and
fences, and I cannot tell you how proud I am of this district when I
ride through it and see neatly painted barns and fences replacing the
flaring and obtrusive advertising signs that formerly disfigured the
highways. Why should you paint advertising signs upon your barns any
more than upon your houses? Carry the thing a step farther, and you may
as well paint signs upon your children's dresses, in the manner you see
illustrated before you."
At this, Louise made a signal and the fifty children so grotesquely
covered with signs rose and stepped forward upon the stage. The
orchestra struck up an air and the little girls sang the following
"Teas and soaps,
Pills and dopes,
We all must advertise.
Not common sense.
Are the things we prize.
Such a dress
Isn't quite becoming,
But we suppose
This keeps business humming."
As the girls ceased singing, Kenneth said:
"To the encroaching advertiser these signs of
the times are considered legitimate. There is no
respect for personal privacy on the advertiser's
part. Once they used only the newspapers, the
legitimate channels for advertising. Then they
began painting their advertising on your fences.
When the farmers protested against this the advertisers
gave them a few pennies as a sop to
quiet them. After this they gave you small sums
to paint the broad sides of your barns, your
board fences, and to place signs in your field. If
you allowed them to do so they would paint signs
on the dresses of your children and wives, so
callous are they to all decency and so regardless
of private rights. Look on this picture, my
friends, and tell me, would you prefer to see this--or this?"
At the word each child pulled away the sign-painted
slip and stood arrayed in a pretty gown
of spotless white.
The surprise was so complete that the audience
cheered, shouted and laughed for several minutes
before silence was restored. Then the children
sang another verse, as follows:
"Now it is clear
That we appear
Just as we should be;
We are seen
Sweet and clean
From corruption free:
We're the signs
Of the times--
Fair as heaven's orbs.
If we look good,
Then all men should
Vote for Kenneth Forbes!"
The cheering was renewed at this, and Mr. Hopkins became angry. He tried
to make himself heard, but the popular fancy had been caught by the
object lesson so cleverly placed before them, and they shouted: "Forbes!
Forbes! Forbes!" until the Honorable Erastus became so furious that he
left the meeting in disgust.
This was the most impolite thing he could have done, but he vowed that
the meeting had been "packed" with Forbes partisans and that he was
wasting his time in addressing them.
After he was gone Kenneth resumed his speech and created more
enthusiasm. The victory was certainly with the Republican candidate, and
the Elmhurst people returned home thoroughly satisfied with the result
of the "joint debate."
A CLEW AT LAST
The servants at Elmhurst all ate in a pleasant dining room with windows
facing a garden of geraniums. Tom Gates had been at the house two days
before he encountered Eliza Parsons at the table, for the servants were
not all able to take their meals at the same time.
It was at luncheon, the day of the joint debate at Fairview, that the
young man first met Eliza, who sat opposite him. The only other person
present was old Donald, the coachman, who was rather deaf and never paid
any attention to the chatter around him.
As he took his seat Tom gave a half-frightened glance into Eliza's face
and then turned red as she smiled coquettishly and said:
"Dear me! It's the young man who called me his dear Lucy."
"You--you're very like her," stammered Tom, unable to take his eyes from
her face. "Even now I--I can't believe I'm mistaken."
She laughed merrily in a sweet, musical voice, and then suddenly stopped
with her hand on her heart and cast at him a startled look that was in
such sharp contrast to her former demeanor that he rose from his chair.
"Sit down, please," she said, slowly. And then she studied his face with
sober earnestness--with almost wistful longing. But she shook her head
presently, and sighed; and a moment later had regained her lightness of
"It's a relief to have a quiet house for a day, isn't it?" she asked,
eating her soup calmly. "I'll be glad when the election's over."
"Have you been here long?" he asked, although Beth had told him of
Eliza's coming to Elmhurst.
"Only a short time. And you?"
"Two days," said he. "But where did you live before you came here?"
She shook her head.
"I wish you would answer me," he begged. "I have a reason for asking."
"What reason?" she demanded, suddenly serious again.
"Two people have never lived that were so near alike as you and Lucy
"Will you show me your left arm?"
She was again studying his face.
"If you are Lucy Rogers you have a scar there--a scar where you burned
yourself years ago."
She seemed frightened for a moment. Then she said:
"I have no scar on my left arm."
"Will you prove it?"
"No. You are annoying me. What did you say your name is?"
She was thoughtful for a moment and then shook her head.
"I have never heard of you," she declared, positively, and resumed her
Tom was nonplussed. One moment he believed she was Lucy, and the next
told himself that it was impossible. This girl possessed mannerisms that
Lucy had never exhibited in all the years he had known her. She was bold
and unabashed where Lucy was shy and unassuming. This girl's eyes
laughed, while Lucy's were grave and serious; yet they were the same
"Let me tell you about my lost Lucy," he said, with a glance at the
"Go ahead, if it will relieve you," she answered, demurely.
"She lived on a farm five miles from here, and she was my sweetheart.
Her mother is blind and her father old and feeble. She worked for a
dentist in the town and was accused of stealing a ring, and it nearly
broke her heart to be so unjustly suspected. In order to make good the
loss of the ring, a valuable diamond--I--I got into trouble, and Lucy
was so shocked and distressed that she--she lost her head--became mad,
you know--and left home during the night without a word to any one. We
haven't been able to find her since."
"That's too bad," remarked Eliza Parsons, buttering her bread.
"About the time that Lucy went away, you appeared at Elmhurst,"
continued Tom. "And in face and form you're the image of my Lucy. That
is why I asked you to tell me where you came from and how you came
"Ah, you think I'm mad, do you?" asked the girl, with a quizzical smile.
"Well, I'm not going to satisfy your curiosity, even to prove my sanity;
and I'm not anxious to pose as your lost Lucy. So please pass the sugar
and try to be sociable, instead of staring at me as if I scared you."
Tom passed the sugar, but he could not eat, nor could he tear himself
away from this strange girl's presence. He tried again to draw her into
conversation, but she showed annoyance and resented his persistence.
Presently she went away, giving him an amused smile as she left the
room--a smile that made him feel that this was indeed a case of mistaken
In fact, Tom Gates, on sober reflection, knew that the girl could not be
Lucy, yet he could not still the yearning in his heart whenever he saw
her. His heart declared that she was Lucy, and his head realized that
she could not be.
While he waited in the library for Mr. Forbes to return from Fairview a
man was shown into the room and sat down quietly in a corner.
He was a small, lean man, of unassuming appearance, with a thin face and
gray eyes set close together. When he looked at Tom Gates he scarcely
seemed to see him, and his manner conveyed the impression that he
disliked to attract notice.
"Waiting for Mr. Forbes, sir?" asked Tom.
"Yes," was the quiet reply.
Suddenly it struck the young man that this might be the detective who
called every evening to give his report, and if so Tom was anxious to
talk with him. So he ventured to say:
"It's Mr. Burke, isn't it?"
The man nodded, and looked out of the window.
"I'm Tom Gates, sir."
"Yes; I know."
"You've seen me before?" asked the youth, astonished.
"No; I've heard of you. That's all."
Tom flushed, remembering his recent crime. But he was eager to question
"Have you heard anything of Lucy Rogers, Mr. Burke?"
"Is there no trace of her at all?"
"A slight trace--nothing worth mentioning," said Mr. Burke.
For a few moments Tom sat in silence. Then he said:
"I thought I'd found her, day before yesterday."
"Yes?" There was little interest in the tone.
"There's a girl in the house, sir, one of the maids, who is the living
image of Lucy Rogers."
"You ought to be able to identify her," suggested the detective, his
gaze still out of the window.
"But they are not alike except in looks. Her form and face are identical
with Lucy's. I was so sure that I begged her to let me see if there was
a scar on her left arm; but she refused."
"Was there a scar on Lucy Rogers's left arm?"
"Yes, sir. Several years ago, when we were children, we were making
candy in the kitchen and Lucy burned herself badly. It left a broad scar
on her left forearm, which she will bear as long as she lives."
"It is well to know that," said Mr. Burke.
"This girl," continued Tom, musingly, "says her name is Eliza Parsons,
and she says it in Lucy's voice. But her manner is not the same at all.
Eliza laughs at me and quizzes me; she is forward and scornful, and--and
perfectly self-possessed, which Lucy could not be, under the
"Have you seen her closely?" asked the detective.
"And are still unable to decide who she is?"
"That's it, sir; I'm unable to decide. It's Lucy: and yet it isn't
"Who is Eliza Parsons?"
"She refuses to say where she came from. But it seems she arrived at
Elmhurst only a day or two after Lucy disappeared from home. It's that
coincidence that makes me doubt the evidence of my own senses."
"Who hires the servants here?"
"I don't know, sir."
Mr. Burke abandoned the conversation, then, and confined his gaze to the
landscape as it showed through the window. Tom busied himself addressing
circulars of instruction to the Republicans who were to work at the
polling places. This was Saturday, and the election was to be on the
following Tuesday. The meeting at Fairview was therefore the last
important rally of the campaign.
At dusk the party arrived from Fairview in the automobiles, the girls
greatly delighted with the success of the meeting. They all followed
Kenneth into the library, where the butler had just lighted the lamps.
The evenings were getting cool, now, and a grate fire was burning.
Kenneth greeted Mr. Burke and introduced him to the young ladies, who
begged to remain during the interview.
"We are all alike interested in Lucy Rogers, Mr. Burke," said the boy;
"so you may speak freely. Is there any news?"
"Nothing of importance, sir, unless a clew has been found in your own
house," replied the detective.
"Here at Elmhurst?" asked the astonished Kenneth.
"Yes. Tom Gates has seen a girl--one of your maids--who so strongly
resembles Lucy Rogers that he at first believed she was the missing
"I know," said Beth, quickly. "It's Eliza Parsons. But Tom was mistaken.
He saw her in the dim light of a corridor, and the resemblance confused
"I've seen her since," remarked Tom, "and the likeness is really
bewildering. It's only her manner that is different."
"When I first saw her, before Tom came, I was astonished at her
resemblance to Mrs. Rogers," announced Beth. "I have never seen Lucy,
but I know Mrs. Rogers, and it seemed to me that Eliza was exactly like
her in features. Mr. Forbes and I first saw her riding in a buggy with
Mr. Hopkins. That was before either of us knew she was employed at
Elmhurst. You see she isn't one of the servants who come much in contact
with the family; she does the mending and takes charge of the linen
Beth then related the manner in which they first noticed Eliza, and how
they had discovered her to be a spy in the service of Mr. Hopkins.
The detective was much interested in the recital and seemed surprised
that he had not been informed of this before.
"Of course," said Kenneth, "the girl is not Lucy Rogers. It is not
possible they could be the same."
"Why not?" asked Mr. Burke.
"Well, Lucy was a gentle, sweet country girl, of little experience in
life. Her nature was so susceptible, so very sensitive, that when she
discovered Tom Gates, whom she loved, to be guilty of a forgery, she
worried herself into an attack of brain-fever; or at least she became
insane, reproaching herself for having driven the boy to this dreadful
deed. Under the influence of her mania she wandered away from her home,
and has not been seen since. That's the story of Lucy Rogers. Now look
at Eliza Parsons. She appeared the very day after Lucy's disappearance,
to be sure; but that proves they are not the same person. For Eliza is
not demented. She is a cold, hard woman of the world, in spite of her
tender years. She is doing the work of an experienced spy, while any
deceit was foreign to Lucy's nature. Instead of being plunged in grief
Eliza is happy and gay, reckless of consequences and fully
self-possessed. She is also well and healthy, to all appearances. Taking
all these things into consideration, it is impossible to connect the two
girls in any way--save the coincidence of personal resemblance."
Mr. Burke listened to this quietly, and then shook his head.
"Your arguments all tend to make me suspect that she is Lucy Rogers," he
For a moment there was an impressive silence, while everyone eagerly,
inquiringly or doubtfully looked at the detective, according to their
diverse acceptance of his statement.
"In pursuance of the task set me," began Mr. Burke, "I had met with such
absolute failure to trace the missing girl that I began to suspect no
ordinary conditions were attached to this case. In my experience, which
covers many years, I have had occasion to study sudden dementia, caused
by shocks of grief or horror, and I have come to comprehend the fact
that the human mind, once unbalanced, is liable to accomplish many
surprising feats. Usually the victim is absolutely transformed, and
becomes the very opposite, in many ways, of the normal personality. I
imagine this is what happened to Lucy Rogers."
"Do you imagine that Lucy would try to deceive me, sir?" asked Tom,
"I am sure she doesn't know who you are," answered the detective,
positively. "She doesn't even know herself. I have known instances where
every recollection of the past was wiped out of the patient's mind."
There was another thoughtful pause, for the detective's assertions were
so astonishing that they fairly overwhelmed his hearers.
Then Louise asked:
"Is such a case of dementia hopeless, Mr. Burke?"
"Not at all hopeless. Often, I admit, it develops into permanent
insanity, but there are many examples of complete recovery. Our first
business must be to assure ourselves that we are right in this
conjecture. I may be entirely wrong, for the unexpected is what I have
been taught to look for in every case of mystery that has come under my
observation. But I believe I have the material at hand to prove the
personality of this Eliza Parsons, and after that I shall know what to
do. Who employs your servants, Mr. Forbes?"
"Martha, my housekeeper, usually employs the maids."
"Will you send for her, please?"
Kenneth at once obeyed the request, and presently Martha entered the
She was a little, withered old woman, but with a pleasant face and
shrewd but kindly eyes.
"Martha," said Kenneth, "did you employ the new linen maid, Eliza
"Yes, sir," she replied, apparently surprised at the question.
"This is Mr. Burke, Martha. Please answer any questions he may ask you."
"Yes, Master Kenneth."
"Did the girl bring any recommendations?" asked the detective.
"I do not think she did, sir."
"Are you accustomed to hiring maids without recommendations?" asked Mr.
"Oh, Eliza had a letter from my cousin, Mrs. Hopkins, who lives in
"Is Mrs. Hopkins your cousin?" asked Kenneth.
"Yes, sir. She were a Phibbs before she married Erastus, and my name is
"What did the letter from Mrs. Hopkins say?"
"It said she knew Eliza to be a clever and worthy girl, and if I had a
place for her I couldn't do better than take her on. So I needed a linen
maid and Eliza went right to work. Isn't she satisfactory, sir? Has she
been doing anything wrong?"
"No. Please do not mention this interview to her at present, Miss
Phibbs," said the detective. "That is all, I believe."
"Would you like to see Eliza?" asked Kenneth, when the housekeeper had
"Not at present. I want to interview Mrs. Hopkins first."
"Tonight?" asked Tom, eagerly.
"I will go at once, with Mr. Forbes's permission."
"Certainly, sir," said Kenneth. "Shall we see you tomorrow?"
"Just as soon as I have accomplished anything."
"Would you like a horse or an automobile?"
"Your man may drive me to the town, sir, if it is convenient."
Kenneth gave the required order, and then Mr. Burke asked:
"How far are you prepared to go in this matter, sir?"
"In what way?"
"In expending money."
"Will any large expenditure be required?"
"I cannot say. But we may require the services and advice of an expert
physician--a specialist in brain diseases."
"Do you know of one?" asked Kenneth.
"Yes; but he must be brought from Buffalo. It will be expensive, sir.
That is why I ask if your interest in the girl warrants our going to the
limit to save her."
Kenneth was thoughtful, while the girls looked at him expectantly and
Tom Gates with visible anxiety.
"My original idea was merely to find the missing girl in order to
relieve the anxiety of her blind mother," said young Forbes. "To
accomplish that I was willing to employ your services. But, as a matter
of fact, I have never seen the girl Lucy Rogers, nor am I particularly
interested in her."
"I am," declared Beth.
"And I!" repeated Patsy and Louise.
"I think," said Uncle John, who had been a quiet listener until now,
"that Kenneth has assumed enough expense in this matter."
"Oh, Uncle!" The remonstrance was from all three of the girls.
"Therefore," continued Mr. Merrick, "I propose that I undertake any
further expense that may be incurred, so as to divide the burden."
"That's better!" declared Patsy. "But I might have known Uncle John
would do that."
"You have my authority to wire the physician, if necessary, or to go to
any expense you deem advisable," continued Mr. Merrick, turning to the
detective. "We seem to have undertaken to unravel an interesting
mystery, and we'll see it through to the end."
"Very good, sir," said Mr. Burke, and left them with a brief nod of
"Somehow," said Beth, "I've a lot of confidence in that little man."
"Why, he's a detective," replied Uncle John, with a smile, "and the
chief business of detectives is to make mistakes."
MRS. HOPKINS GOSSIPS
The home of Representative Hopkins was not a very imposing edifice. It
was a modest frame building standing well back in a little yard at the
outskirts of the village, and Mrs. Hopkins did the housework, unaided,
to save the expense of a maid. It never occurred to the politician, who
had risen from the position of a poor stable-boy to one of affluence, to
save his wife from this drudgery. To him poor Mary was merely one of his
possessions, and it would have astonished him to know that her sharp
tongue and irritable temper were due to overwork and neglect. The
Honorable Erastus was not averse to champagne dinners and other costly
excesses while at the state capital, and his fellow legislators
considered him a good fellow, although rather lax in "keeping his end
up." Moreover, he employed a good tailor and was careful to keep up an
appearance of sound financial standing. But his home, which he avoided
as much as possible, had little share in his personal prosperity. Mary
Hopkins's requests for new and decent gowns were more often refused than
acceded to, and he constantly cautioned her to keep down expenses or she
would drive them both to the poor-house.
The woman well knew that Erastus could afford to keep her in luxury, if
he would, but some women are so constituted that they accept their fate
rather than rebel, and Mary Hopkins lived the life of a slave,
contenting herself with petty scoldings and bickerings that did nothing
to relieve her hard lot.
She had little interest in politics and resented the intrusion of the
many who came to the house to see and consult with her husband during
the tiresome political campaigns. On these occasions Mr. Hopkins used
the sitting-room as his office and committee headquarters, but this did
not materially interfere with his wife's comfort, as she was usually
busy in the kitchen.
On this Saturday evening, however, they had an early supper and she
finished her dishes betimes and sat down to darn stockings in the
sitting-room. Erastus had hurried away to a meeting of his henchmen in
the town, and would not be home until after his wife was in bed.
So she was rather surprised when a timid knock sounded upon the door.
She opened it to find a little, lean man standing upon the porch.
"Mrs. Hopkins?" he asked, quietly.
"Yes. What do you want?"
"Your husband asked me to come here and wait for him. It's important or
I wouldn't disturb you."
"Well, then; come in," she replied, tartly. "Thank the Lord this thing
is nearly over, and we'll have a few weeks of peace."
"It is rather imposing on you," remarked the man, following her to the
sitting-room, where he sat down with his hat in his hands. "A political
campaign is trying to everybody. I'm tired out and sick of the whole
"Then why don't you chuck it," she retorted, scornfully, "and go to work
makin' an honest living?"
"Oh, this is honest enough," he said, mildly.
"I don't believe it. All them secret confabs an' trickery to win votes
can't be on the square. Don't talk to me! Politics is another name for
"Perhaps you're right, ma'am; perhaps you're right," he said, with a
She looked at him sharply.
"You don't belong in Elmwood."
"No, ma'am; I'm from beyond Fairview. I've come to see your husband on
She sniffed, at that, but picked up her darning and relapsed into
silence. The little man was patient. He sat quietly in his chair and
watched her work.
His mildness disarmed Mary Hopkins. She was not especially averse to
having him sit there. It relieved the loneliness of her occupation. On
occasions she loved to talk, as Erastus had long ago discovered; and
this visitor would not try to shut her up the way Erastus did.
"You don't often get out, ma'am; into society, and such like," ventured
the caller, presently.
"What makes you think that?" she demanded.
"A woman can't keep a house neat and trim like this, and be a social
gadder," he observed.
"You're right about that," she returned, somewhat mollified. "If I was
like them girls up at Elmhurst, fussin' round over politics all the
time, this house would go to rack an' ruin."
"Oh, them!" he said, with mild scorn. "Them girls 'll never be
"Not for a minute," she affirmed.
There was another pause, then; but the ice was broken. A subtle sympathy
seemed established between the two.
"What do you think of 'Rast's chances?" she asked, presently, as she
threaded new cotton into her needle.
"I guess he'll win. He's worked hard enough, anyhow."
"Yes; 'Rast's a good worker. He don't leave any stone unturned. He's up
to all the tricks o' the trade, is 'Rast Hopkins!"
Here he began shaking with silent laughter, and Mrs. Hopkins looked at
"What are you laughing at?" she inquired, with a sniff of disdain.
"At--at the way he come it over the gals up at Elmhurst. 'Rast's a
pretty slick one, he is!"
"What do you mean?"
"Why, settin' that 'Liza to watch 'em, and tell all they does. Who'd a
thought of it but 'Rast Hopkins?"
"I don't see anything mighty funny about that," declared Mrs. Hopkins,
contemptuously. "The girl's too pert and forward for anything. I told
'Rast not to fool with her, or she'd make him trouble."
"Did you, now!" exclaimed the man, wonderingly.
"Yes, indeed," said Mrs. Hopkins, pleased to have made an impression. "I
suspected there was something wrong about her the morning she came to
the house here. And she changed her name, too, as brassy as you please."
"Well, I declare!" said the visitor. "Did you know her before that, Mrs.
"Why, I didn't exactly know her, but I seen her workin' around Miss
Squiers's place many a time, and she didn't seem to 'mount to much, even
then. One day she stole a di'mond ring off'n old Miss Squiers and dug
out, and I told Nancy then--Nancy's young Miss Squiers--that I'd always
had my suspicions of the hussy. She hid the ring in a vase on the mantle
and they found it after she was gone."
"Well, well! I didn't know that about her," said the man, looking with
admiration at Mrs. Hopkins.
"That's why I told 'Rast not to have any truck with her, when she came
here bright and early one morning and asked for work."
"Oh, she came here, did she?"
"While I was gettin' breakfast. She said her name was Eliza Parsons, an'
she was looking fer a job. I told her I knew her record an' to get out,
and while we was arguin' 'Rast come out and took a hand in the talk. She
laughed and flirted with him outrageous, and said she was a stranger in
these parts, when I'd seen her many a time at Miss Squiers's."
"What was her name then?" asked the man.
"I think it was Rosie--or Lucy, or something--. Anyhow, it wasn't Eliza,
and that I'll swear to. But the girl laughed at me and made such silly
smiles at 'Rast that he told me to shut up, 'cause he had a use for her
"Well, well!" repeated the visitor. "Just see how stories get twisted. I
heard you gave the girl a letter to your cousin Martha."
"Well, I did. 'Rast wanted to get her in at Elmhurst, to watch what
Forbes was doing to defeat him, so he made me write the letter. But
how'd you know so much about this girl?" she inquired, with sudden
"Me? I only know what Mr. Hopkins told me. I'm one of his confidential
men. But he never said how he happened to find the girl, or what he knew
"He didn't know nothing. He'd never seen her 'till that morning when she
came here. But he said she was clever, and she is, if pertness and a
ready tongue counts for cleverness. I suppose he pays her for what she
tells him about Forbes, but he'd better save his money and fight on the
square. I don't like this tricky politics, an' never did."
"I don't either," declared the man. "But I'm in it, and can't get out."
"That's what 'Rast says. But some day they'll put him out, neck and
crop, if he ain't careful."
"Is the girl Eliza much use to him?"
"I can't say. He drove her over to Elmhurst that morning, and he drives
over two or three evenings a week to meet her on the sly and get her
report. That may be politics, but it ain't very respectable, to my
"Well, the campaign is nearly over, Mrs. Hopkins."
"Thank goodness for that!" she replied.
The visitor sat silent after this, for he had learned all that the poor
gossiping woman could tell him. Finally he said:
"I guess your husband's going to be late."
"Yes; if he ain't more prompt than usual you'll have a long spell of
"Perhaps I'd better go over to the hotel and look him up. I have to get
back to Fairview tonight, you know."
"Do as you please," she answered carelessly.
So Mr. Burke, for it was the detective, bade her good-night and took his
leave, and it was not until after he had gone that Mary Hopkins
remembered she had forgotten to ask him his name.
"But it don't matter," she decided. "He's just one o' 'Rast's
politicians, and I probably treated the fellow better than he deserved."
On Sunday morning Mr. Burke again appeared at Elmhurst, and told Kenneth
he wanted an interview with Eliza Parsons.
"I don't want you to send for her, or anything like that, for it would
make her suspicious," he said. "I'd like to meet her in some way that
would seem accidental, and not startle her."
"That is rather a hard thing to arrange, Mr. Burke," said the boy, with
"Why, I think not," declared Louise. "It seems to me quite easy."
"That's the woman of it, sir," laughed Kenneth; "if it's a question of
wits her sex has the advantage of us."
"What do you propose, miss?" asked the detective, turning to Louise.
"I'll have Martha send the girl into the garden to gather flowers," she
replied; "and you can wander around there and engage her in
"Excellent!" he exclaimed. "Can this be arranged now?"
"I'll see, sir."
She found Martha and asked her to send Eliza Parsons for some roses and
chrysanthemums, which were in a retired place shut in by evergreen
"One of the other maids will know the garden better," suggested the
"But I wish Eliza to go."
"Very well, Miss Louise."
From an upper window the girl watched until she saw Eliza Parsons leave
the house with a basket and go into the retired garden she had chosen.
Then she returned to the library for Mr. Burke and led him toward the
"Eliza is just beyond that gap in the hedge," she said, and turned away.
"Wait a moment, please," he said, detaining her. "On second thought I
would like you to come with me, for your tact may be of great
assistance. Have you spoken much with Eliza?"
"Not at all, I think. Beth has talked with her, but I have scarcely been
near her since she came here."
"You are willing to come?"
"I shall be glad to."
"The poet Saxe," said Mr. Burke, walking through the gap beside Louise,
"has never been properly appreciated by his countrymen, although since
his death his verses are in greater demand than while he lived. Do you
care for them?"
"I don't know Saxe very well," she answered, observing that they were
approaching a place where Eliza was bending over a rose-bush. "But one
or two of his poems are so amusing that they linger in my memory."
Eliza turned at the sound of their voices and gave them a quick glance.
But the next moment she resumed her occupation of cutting roses.
"The man's greatest fault was his habit of punning," remarked the
detective, watching the girl's form as he drew nearer. "It is that which
blinded his contemporaries to his real talents. What exquisite roses,
Miss Merrick! May I ask for one for my button-hole?"
"Yes, indeed!" she replied, pausing with him just beside Eliza. "Will
you cut that bud yonder, for Mr. Burke, my dear?"
The maid silently obeyed and as the detective took the flower from her
hand he said:
"Why, isn't this Eliza Parsons?"
"Yes, sir," she replied, carelessly.
"Don't you remember me, Eliza?"
She seemed a little surprised, but answered promptly:
"I'm William Burke, your mother's cousin. How did you leave your brother
Harry, and have you heard from Josephine lately?"
The girl gave him a startled look and shrank back.
"Why, how nice!" cried Louise. "I did not know you knew Eliza's family,
"Yes, she is one of my relatives, and came from Roanoke, Virginia. Isn't
that correct, Eliza?"
"Yes, sir--no! I--I don't remember!" she said, in a low tone.
"Don't remember, Eliza? That is strange."
The girl stared at him half frightened, and drew her hand over her eyes
with a gesture of bewilderment.
"I hope, my dear, you are not going to be like your mother," said Mr.
Burke, gently. "My poor cousin Nora was subject to a strange lapse of
memory at times," he remarked to Louise. "She always recovered in time,
but for days she could remember nothing of her former life--not even her
own name. Are you ever affected that way Eliza?"
She looked up at him pleadingly, and murmured in a low voice:
"Let me go! Please let me go!"
"In a moment, Eliza."
Her hands were clasped together nervously and she had dropped her basket
and scissors on the path before her. The man looked intently into her
eyes, in a shrewd yet kindly way, and she seemed as if fascinated by his
"Tell me, my dear, have you forgotten your old life?" he asked.
"Yes," she whispered.
"Poor girl! And you are trying to keep this a secret and not let anyone
know of your trouble?"
Suddenly she started and sprang away, uttering a cry of terror.
"You're trying to trap me," she panted. "You know my name is not Eliza
Parsons. You--you want to ruin me!"
From the position in which they stood in the corner of the garden, with
high hedges behind the maid, and Mr. Burke and Louise blocking the path
in front, there was little chance of escape. But she looked around
wildly, as if about to make the attempt, when Louise stepped forward and
gently took Eliza's hand in her own.
"Mr. Burke is a good man, my dear, and means well by you," she said in
her sweet, sympathetic tones. "He shall not bother you if you are afraid
"I--I'm not afraid," said Eliza, with a resumption of her old manner and
a toss of her head.
The detective gave Louise a look which she thought she understood.
"Will you finish cutting these roses, Mr. Burke?" she asked, with a
smile. "Eliza and I are going to my room. Come, my dear," and without
waiting for a reply she led the girl, whose hand was still clasped in
her own, along the path.
Eliza came willingly. Her manner was a little defiant at first, but when
Louise drew her unobserved to the side entrance and up the staircase she
grew gentle and permitted the other girl to take her arm.
Once in her room with the strange maid, Louise locked the door quietly
and said to her companion with a cheerful smile:
"Now we are quite alone, and can talk at our ease. Take that low chair,
dear, and I'll sit here."
Eliza obeyed, looking wistfully into the fair face of her new friend.
"You are very pretty, Eliza; and I'm sure you are as good as you're
pretty," announced Louise. "So you must tell me about yourself, and
whether you are happy here or not. From this time on I'm going to be
your friend, you know, and keep all your secrets; and I'll help you all
This rambling speech seemed to impress Eliza favorably. She relaxed
somewhat from the tense alertness that was habitual with her, and looked
at the other girl with a softened expression.
"I'm afraid you won't be much interested in me," she replied, "but I
need a friend--indeed I need a friend, Miss Louise!"
"I'm sure you do."
"At first I thought I could do without one. I felt I must stand alone,
and let no one suspect. But--I'm getting puzzled and bewildered, and I
don't know what to do next."
"Of course not. Tell me about it, dear."
"I can't; for I don't know, myself." She leaned forward in her chair and
added, in a whisper: "I don't even know who I am! But that man," with a
shudder, "tried to trap me. He said he knew Eliza Parsons, and there is
no Eliza Parsons. It's a name I--I invented."
"I think I understand," said Louise, with a little nod. "You had to have
a name, so you took that one."
"Yes. I don't know why I am telling you this. I've tried to hide it all
so carefully. And perhaps I'm wrong in letting this thing worry me. In
the main, I've been very happy and content, lately; and--I have a
feeling I was not happy before--before--"
"Before what, dear?"
The girl looked at her steadily and her face grew red.
"Before I lost my memory."
For a few moments they sat silently regarding one another, the
expressive features of Louise showing a silent sympathy.
"Have you really lost your memory?" she asked.
"Absolutely. Think of it! I wakened one morning lying by the roadside,
and shivering with cold. I had on a simple gray dress, with no hat. The
sun was just rising, and no one was near. I examined myself with wonder,
for I had no idea who I was, or how I came there. There was no money in
my pocket, and I had no jewels. To keep warm I began walking along the
road. The scenery was all new to me; so far as I knew I had never been
in the place before.
"The birds were singing and the cows mooed in the meadow. I tried to
sing, too, for my heart was light and gay and I was happy. By and bye I
came to a town; but no one seemed to be awakened because it was yet so
early. As I walked down the street I saw smoke coming from one of the
chimneys, and it suddenly occurred to me that I was hungry. I entered
the yard and went around to the back door. A woman was working in the
kitchen and I laughed joyfully and wished her a good morning. She was
not very pleasant, but it did me good to talk with her; I liked to hear
my own voice and it pleased me to be able to talk easily and well. She
grudgingly gave me something to eat and then bade me begone, calling me
by some strange name and saying I was a thief. It was then that I
invented the name of Eliza Parsons. I don't know why, but it popped into
my head and I claimed it for my name and have clung to it ever since."
"Have you no idea what your real name is?" asked Louise, greatly
interested in this terse relation.
"I have no idea of anything that dates beyond that morning," replied
Eliza. "The first time I looked in the mirror I saw a strange face
reflected there. I had to make my own acquaintance," she added, with one
of her bright laughs. "I suppose I am between seventeen and twenty years
of age, but what my life was during past years is to me a sealed book. I
cannot remember a person I knew or associated with, yet things outside
of my personal life seem to have clung to me. I remembered books I must
have read; I can write, sing and sew--I sew remarkably well, and must
have once been trained to it. I know all about my country's history, yet
I cannot recollect where I lived, and this part of the country is
unknown to me. When I came to Elmhurst I knew all about it and about Mr.
Forbes, but could not connect them with my former life."
"How did you happen to come here?" asked Louise.
"I forgot to tell you that. While I was arguing with the woman, who was
a Mrs. Hopkins, her husband heard us and came out into the kitchen. He
began to question me about myself and I gave any answer that came into
my head, for I could not tell him the truth. It pleased me to hear my
voice, I seemed to have a keen sense of the humorous, and if I said
anything at all clever, I laughed as heartily as anyone. My heart was
light and free from all care. I had no worries or responsibilities at
all. I was like the birds who see the sunshine and feel the breeze and
are content to sing and be happy.
"Mr. Hopkins saw I was wholly irresponsible and reckless, and he decided
to use me to spy upon the people here at Elmhurst and report to him what
they said and did. I agreed to this readily, prompted by a spirit of
mischief, for I cared nothing for Hopkins and had nothing against Mr.
Forbes. Also Hopkins paid me money, which I had sufficient knowledge to
realize was necessary to me.
"Oh, how happy and gay I was in those first few days! There was not a
thought of the past, not an ambition or desire of any sort to bother me.
Just to live seemed pleasure enough. I enjoyed eating and sleeping; I
loved to talk and laugh; I was glad to have work to occupy me--and
that was all! Then things began to happen that puzzled me. The man
Hopkins declared he could not trust me because I had once been a thief,
and I wondered if he could speak truly. I resented the thought that I
may once have been a thief, although I wouldn't mind stealing, even now,
if I wanted anything and could take it."
"Oh, Eliza!" gasped Louise.
"It sounds wicked, doesn't it? But it is true. Nothing seems to
influence me so strongly as my own whims. I know what is good and what
is bad. I must have been taught these things once. But I am as likely to
do evil as good, and this recklessness has begun, in the last few days,
to worry me.
"Then I met a young man here--he says his name is Tom Gates--who called
me his dear Lucy, and said I used to love him. I laughed at him at
first, for it seemed very absurd and I do not want him to love me. But
then he proved to me there was some truth in his statement. He said his
Lucy had a scar on her left arm, and that made me afraid, because I had
discovered a scar on my own arm. I don't know how it got there. I don't
know anything about this old Lucy. And I'm afraid to find out. I'm
afraid of Lucy."
"I cannot tell. I only know I have a horror of her, a sudden shrinking
whenever her name is mentioned. Who was she, do you suppose?"
"Shall I tell you?" asked Louise.
"No--no! Don't, I beg of you!" cried Eliza, starting up. "I--I can't
bear it! I don't want to know her."
The protest was passionate and sincere, and Louise marvelled at the
workings of this evidently unbalanced intellect.
"What would you like to do, dear?" she inquired.
"I'd like to remain Eliza Parsons--always. I'd like to get away from
her--far away from anyone who ever heard of that dreadful Lucy who
frightens me so. Will you help me to get away, to escape to some place
where no one will ever be able to trace me?"
"Do you think you would be happy then?"
"I am sure of it. The only thing that makes me unhappy now is the horror
that this past life will be thrust upon me. I must have had a past, of
course, or I shouldn't be a grown woman now. But I'm afraid of it; I
don't want to know anything about it! Will you help me to escape?"
She looked eagerly at Louise as she asked this pitiful question, and the
other girl replied, softly: "I will be your friend, Eliza. I'll think
all this over, and we will see what can be done. Be patient a little
while and as soon as I find a way to free you from all this trouble I'll
send for you, and we'll talk it over together."
"Will you keep my secret?" demanded Eliza, uneasily.
Louise glanced at the door that communicated with Beth's room. It stood
open, but Eliza had not noticed that, as it was behind her. Just now a
shadow cast from the other room wavered an instant over the rug, and
Louise's quick eyes caught it.
"I promise to keep your secret, dear," she said earnestly.
The two girls rose and stood facing each other. Louise kissed the
beautiful Eliza and whispered:
"Here is one thing for you to remember--that we are always to be true
friends, from this time forward. If anyone annoys you, come to me, and I
will protect you."
"Thank you, Miss Louise," said Eliza, and then she went away to her own
room in a quieter and more thoughtful mood than usual.
When she had gone Louise ran to the door communicating with Beth's room,
and to her satisfaction found both her cousins, with Kenneth, Uncle John
and Mr. Burke, seated in a group where they must have overheard all that
had been said.
"Well!" she cried, eagerly, "did you hear? And what do you think of it
"It's Lucy Rogers, sure enough," said Kenneth.
Louise looked at Mr. Burke.
"It is the most singular case that has ever come under my observation,"
stated that gentleman. "The girl is perfectly sane, but she has suffered
a strange lapse of memory. I have two alternatives to advise. One is to
telegraph at once for a specialist. The other is to permit the girl to
go away, as she suggests. She will be happier to do so, I am sure."
"Oh, no!" cried the girls.
"She owes a duty to her parents and friends, as well as to herself,"
said Kenneth, "and I see no reason why she should be unhappy in the
future as Lucy Rogers."
Mr. Burke merely shrugged his shoulders.
"Please wire for the specialist at once," said Uncle John.
PATSY INDULGES IN EAVESDROPPING
Miss Patricia Doyle awakened at daybreak next morning with a throbbing
toothache. She wasn't accustomed to such pains and found it hard to
bear. She tried the application of a hot-water bag, and the tooth ached
harder; she tried a cold compress, and it jumped with renewed activity.
So she dressed herself and walked the floor, with the persistent ache as
an intimate companion.
She tried to find a cavity in the tooth, but it seemed perfectly sound.
Evidently she had caught cold and the wicked molar was signaling the
To be patient under the torture of a toothache was a virtue Patsy did
not possess. Louise and Beth, to whom she appealed, were sorry for her,
but could not relieve the pain. After breakfast Uncle John ordered her
to drive to town and see a dentist.
"Have it pulled, or filled, or something," he said. "The dentist will
know what to do."
So James drove Patsy to town, where they arrived about nine o'clock this
Monday morning. The only dentist at Elmwood was Dr. Squiers, so the girl
ran up the flight of stairs to his office, which was located over the
The pain had eased on the journey, and now the thought of having the
offending tooth pulled was weighing heavily upon Patsy's mind. The door
of Dr. Squiers's office stood ajar, and she hesitated whether to enter
The dentist's reception room was divided from his operating room by a
thin wooden partition, and as Patsy was deciding whether to employ Dr.
Squiers's services or not she heard high words coming from behind the
partition, and the voice was that of the Honorable Erastus Hopkins.
Softly she slid into the outer room and sank into a chair.
"But you're the clerk of the election, Squiers; you can't deny that,"
Hopkins was saying in a blustering, imperious voice.
"That's true enough," answered the dentist, more calmly.
"Then you've got the registration books in your possession."
"I admit that," was the reply. "But you're asking me to incriminate
myself, 'Rast. If the thing was discovered it would mean prison for both
"Fiddlesticks!" cried the irascible Hopkins. "These things are done
every day, and no one's the wiser for it. It's merely a part of the
"I'm afraid, 'Rast," said Dr. Squiers. "Honest Injun, I'm afraid."
"What are you 'fraid of? I've got the other clerks all fixed, and
they'll stand by us. All you need do is to add these sixty-six names to
the registration list, and then we'll vote 'em without opposition and
Patsy gave a gasp, which she tried to stifle. The toothache was all
"Where are these men?" inquired Dr. Squiers, thoughtfully.
"They're over at the mill. Marshall got 'em from all over the country,
and they'll be set to work today, so everything will seem reg'lar."
"Where do they sleep and eat?" inquired the doctor.
"Forty sleep in Hayes's barn, and the other twenty-six in the stock loft
over the planing mill. Marshall's got a commissary department and feeds
'em regular rations, like so many soldiers. Of course I'm paying for all
this expense," acknowledged Mr. Hopkins, somewhat regretfully.
"And do you suppose these sixty-six votes will turn the scale?" asked
"They're sure to. We finished the last canvass yesterday, and according
to our figures Forbes has about eighteen votes the best of us. That's
getting it down pretty close, but we may as well make up our minds we're
beaten if we don't vote the men over at the mill. Marshall could have
got me a hundred if necessary, but sixty-six is more than enough. Say
Forbes has twice eighteen for his plurality, instead of eighteen; these
sixty-six for me would wipe that out and let us win in a walk."
When Hopkins ceased there was a brief silence. Perhaps Dr. Squiers was
"I simply must have those votes, Doc," resumed the Representative.
"It's the only way I can win."
"You've made a bungle of the whole campaign," said Squiers, bitterly.
"That's a lie. I've done a lot of clever work. But these infernal city
girls came down here and stirred up all the trouble."
"You made a mistake pushing that sign issue. The girls beat you on
"If it hadn't been signs it might have been something worse. But I ain't
beaten yet, Doc. Squiers. This deal is going to win. It's a trick the
boarding-school misses won't understand until after they've cut their
eye-teeth in politics."
"There's a pretty heavy penalty against false registration," observed
the dentist, gloomily.
"There's no penalty unless we're found out, and there ain't the ghost of
a chance of that. The books are in your hands; I got all the clerks
fixed. Not a question will even be raised. I know it. Do you suppose I'd
risk state's prison myself, if I wasn't sure?"
"Look here, 'Rast," said Squiers, doggedly, "you're making a tool of me
in this campaign. Why should I be used and abused just to elect Erastus
Hopkins, I'd like to know. You sacrificed me when I might have been
"You're well paid for that, Doc."
"And now you want me to put my neck in a noose for your advantage. I
won't do it, 'Rast, and that's a fact."
Mr. Hopkins coughed.
"How much, Doc?" he inquired.
The dentist was silent.
"State the figure. But for mercy's sake don't bleed me any more than you
can help. This fight has cost me a pretty penny already."
"I don't want your money," growled Squiers.
"Yes you do, Doc. I know you better than you know yourself. The trouble
with you is, you'll want too much."
Squiers laughed bitterly.
"Is Marshall to be trusted?" he asked.
"Of course. If he said a word he'd lose his job as manager. Marshall's
all right. There's nothing to worry about, Doc."
Patsy's tooth wasn't aching a bit. But her heart was throbbing as madly
as the tooth ever did, and fortunately there was no pain connected with
the throbbing--only joy.
"It ought to be worth two thousand dollars, 'Rast," said the dentist.
"What! In addition to all other expenses?"
"Why, man; it means the election. It means your whole future. If you're
defeated now, you're a back number in this district, and you know it."
"It's too much, Doc. On my word it is."
"It's too little, come to think of it. I'll make it three thousand."
"If you don't close with me, 'Rast, by the jumping Jupiter, I'll make it
four thousand," cried the dentist, with exasperation.
"Say twenty-five hundred, Doc."
"Right on the nail. Give me your check here--this minute."
"And you'll enter the names in the books?"
"Before you leave the office. Have you got the list?"
"Yes; in my pocket," said Mr. Hopkins.
"Then make out your check and I'll get the books."
There was a stir behind the partition and a sound of chairs scraping the
floor. Patsy slid out the door and flew down the stairs at the imminent
danger of breaking her neck. James was seated in the buggy outside,
engaged in rumination.
Patsy bounded in beside him and startled him.
"Drive for your life!" she cried. "Drive for home!"
He whipped up the spirited horse and they dashed away. Presently the man
asked, with a grin:
"Did it hurt much, Miss Patsy?"
"Did what hurt, James?"
"The tooth pullin', Miss Patsy."
"The tooth wasn't pulled," answered the girl, sweetly. "It didn't need
it, James. The only thing that was pulled was the Honorable Erastus's
PRICKING A BUBBLE.
When Patsy arrived home she called a council of war and related the
conversation she had overheard in the dentist's office.
"It isn't a very nice thing to do--listening to a private conversation,"
said the girl, "but when I discovered they were going to play such a
trick on Kenneth I couldn't help eavesdropping."
"I think you were justified," declared Mr. Watson, with a grave face;
"for this matter is very serious indeed. Tomorrow is election day, and
if a toothache hadn't carried you to the dentist's office Kenneth would
surely have been defeated."
"And we'd never have known how it happened," declared Uncle John.
"But can the plot be foiled at this late date?" inquired Louise,
"I think so," said Mr. Watson. "Dr. Squiers was correct in saying that
such a crime was a state's prison offense. Our discovery of it will send
both Erastus Hopkins and Dr. Squiers to prison. Probably Mr. Marshall,
the manager of the mill, will go with them."
"Oh, I don't like that!" exclaimed Patsy.
"Nor do I," added Kenneth. "It would be a sad beginning to my political
career to send three such men to prison. I'd like to avoid it, if I
"Perhaps it may be quietly arranged," said the lawyer. "If they knew you
had discovered the false registration of these men, they would never
dare vote them."
"How would it be to send Mr. Burke, the detective, over to the mill to
talk with Mr. Marshall?" suggested Beth.
"That is an excellent plan, and would be very effective in determining
the manager to abandon the plot."
"I'll go and see Hopkins myself," announced Uncle John. "I know how to
manage men of his sort."
"Very good," approved the lawyer, "and I'll see Squiers."
"If you do," said Patsy, "just ask him to sign a paper saying that Lucy
Rogers was falsely accused of stealing the ring, and that his mother
found it in a vase, where she had forgotten she put it."
"I'll do that," replied Mr. Watson. "And I'll get the sixty dollars back
that Tom Gates paid him. I'll make it a condition of our agreeing not to
prosecute the man."
"It looks as if we were going to win the election," said Uncle John in a
pleased voice. "If Hopkins was driven to such methods as stuffing
ballot-boxes, he must know very well he's defeated."
"He acknowledged it to Dr. Squiers." said Patsy, gaily. "We have
eighteen sure majority, and perhaps more."
"It's likely to be more," predicted Uncle John.
"I suppose congratulations are in order, Ken," said Louise.
"Not yet, cousin," he replied. "Wait until tomorrow night; and then
don't congratulate me, but the campaign managers--three of the nicest
and cleverest girls in existence!"
"You're right, my boy," declared Uncle John. "If you pull through and
take your seat in the Legislature, you'll owe it all to these girls."
"That is true," smiled the lawyer. "Kenneth was badly beaten when you
Of course our girls were very happy at receiving this praise, but more
pleased to realize they had actually been of service to their boy
friend. They believed that Kenneth would prove a good Representative and
carry out his promises to the voters; and if he did, that his political
career was assured.
Mr. Burke appeared in the afternoon with a telegram from Dr. Hoyt, the
specialist, saying that he would be at Elmwood on the noon train
Wednesday. His engagements prevented him from coming any sooner, and in
the meantime Mr. Burke advised keeping a close watch on Eliza Parsons,
to see that she did not run away.
"I'll attend to that," said Louise, quickly. "Eliza and I are friends,
and I'll take care of her."
"Aren't you going to the polls?" asked Patsy.
"No, dear; why should I go? Our work is done now, isn't it?"
"Well, I'm going to the polls and work for every vote," declared Patsy.
"I shan't be happy unless Kenneth gets more than eighteen majority."
When the Hopkins plot was explained to Mr. Burke, the detective readily
agreed to go to Fairview and see Mr. Marshall. As no time was to be lost
he was sent over in an automobile, and arrived at the mill just before
the hour for closing.
The next day being election day the mill was to be closed, and the
manager was very busy in his office when Mr. Burke requested to see him.
"You will have to come around Wednesday," said Marshall, fussily. "I
can't attend to you now."
"I'm sorry to disturb you, sir," replied the detective, "but my business
won't wait until Wednesday."
"What is it about, sir?"
"About the election."
"Then I won't be bothered. The election doesn't interest me," said Mr.
Marshall, turning away.
"Very well, I'll call Wednesday, sir, at the jail."
Marshall gave him a quick look.
"Who are you, sir?" he asked.
"John Burke, a detective."
The manager hesitated a moment.
"Come in, Mr. Burke," he said.
"I represent the Forbes interests," said the detective, seating himself
in the private office, "and it has come to our notice that Dr. Squiers
has permitted sixty-six fraudulent registrations to be entered on the
books. These sixty-six men are supposed to have been imported by you and
are now working at this mill."
"This is all nonsense!" protested the manager, growing pale.
"Forty men are sleeping in a near-by barn, and twenty-six in the
stock-room of the mill," added Mr. Burke.
"That isn't criminal, sir."
"No, indeed. The criminal act is their false registration, so far," said
the detective, blandly.
"But mark you, sir; if an attempt is made to vote those men tomorrow, I
shall arrest you, as well as Mr. Hopkins and Dr. Squiers."
"This is preposterous, sir!" blustered the manager. "There will be no
attempt made to vote them."
"I am quite sure of it," was the reply. "You may thank Mr. Forbes for
warning you in time. He wished to save you, and so sent me here."
"Oh, he did!" Mr. Marshall was evidently surprised. "May I ask how you
discovered all this?" he added.
"I am not at liberty to give you the details. But I may say the exposure
of the plot occurred through Mr. Hopkins's own carelessness. I've seen
lots of crooked politicians, Mr. Marshall, but this man is too reckless
and foolish ever to be a success. He deserves to be defeated and he will
The manager was thoughtful.
"This is all news to me," he declared. "I needed these extra men to help
me fill a contract on time, and so employed them. I had no idea Hopkins
and Squiers would try to vote them tomorrow."
This was a palpable falsehood, but Mr. Burke accepted the lame excuse
"You are a valuable man in this community, Mr. Marshall, and Mr. Forbes
seemed to think the Hopkins people were trying to get you into trouble.
Of course it would have caused trouble had these men voted."
"Of course, Mr. Burke. I'm much obliged to Mr. Forbes for warning me."
"You'll find the next Representative a very agreeable man to get along
with, Mr. Marshall. Good day, sir."
"Good day, Mr. Burke."
When the detective had gone Mr. Marshall sat in a brown study for a few
moments. Then he summoned his superintendent and said:
"Please ask the men to assemble in the yard before they go home. I want
to have a word with them."
The request came just in time, for the men were already beginning to
stream out of the mill. They waited good-naturedly, however, grouping
themselves in the big yard.
Then Marshall mounted a lumber pile and addressed them briefly.
"Boys," he said, "I told you all, a week or so ago, I'd like you to vote
for Hopkins for Representative, as I believed his election would result
in more work for the mill and better wages for the employees. But I've
been watching matters pretty closely, and I've changed my mind. Forbes
is a coming man, and he'll do more for us all than Hopkins could. So
every man who is entitled to vote will please me best by voting for
There was a cheer at this, and when it subsided, the manager continued:
"Of course none of the new men, who were not properly registered, have a
right to vote at this election, and I command them to keep away from the
polls. Anyone who attempts to vote illegally will be promptly arrested."
This caused more cheering, for the workmen had suspected that the new
hands would be voted illegally, and they were relieved to find that it
was a "square deal all 'round," as one of them remarked with
Meantime, Uncle John was having a "barrel of fun" with Mr. Hopkins.
The little millionaire, although a man of simple and unobtrusive ways,
was a shrewd judge of human nature. Moreover he had acquired a fund of
experience in dealing with all sorts of people, and was delighted to
meet Mr. Hopkins under the present circumstances.
So he drove over to Elmwood and was fortunate to find Mr. Hopkins in his
"office" at home where he was busily engaged instructing his "workers"
in their duties at the polls.
At sight of Mr. Merrick, whom he knew by this time to be a friend of
Kenneth Forbes, staying at Elmhurst, the politician scented some pending
difficulty, or at least an argument, and was sufficiently interested to
dismiss his men without delay.
"Ah, this is Mr. Merrick, I believe," began Mr. Hopkins, suavely. "What
can I do for you, sir?"
"Considerable, if you're disposed," answered the other. "For one thing
I'd like to hire Eliza Parsons away from you."
"Eliza Parsons!" gasped the Representative.
"Yes, your spy. Election's about over and you won't need her any longer,
"Sir, do you mean to insult me?" asked the Honorable Erastus,
"By no means. I thought you were through with the girl," said Uncle John
with a chuckle.
Mr. Hopkins was distinctly relieved. With a full recollection of his
wicked schemes in his mind, he had feared some more important attack
than this; so he assumed a virtuous look, and replied:
"Sir, you wrong me. Eliza Parsons was no spy of mine. I was merely
trying to encourage her to a higher spiritual life. She is rather
flighty and irresponsible, sir, and I was sorry for the poor girl. That
is all. If she has been telling tales, they are untrue. I have found
her, I regret to say, inclined at times to be--ah--inventive."
"Perhaps that's so," remarked Uncle John, carelessly. "You're said to be
a good man, Mr. Hopkins; a leetle too honest and straightforward for a
politician; but that's an excusable fault."
"I hope I deserve my reputation, Mr. Merrick," said Erastus,
straightening up at this praise. "I do, indeed, try to live an upright
"I guess so, Mr. Hopkins, I guess so. You wouldn't try, for instance, to
encourage false registration."
"Anything wrong, Mr. Hopkins?" asked Uncle John, innocently.
Erastus looked at his visitor tremblingly, although he tried to control
his nerves. Of course Mr. Merrick couldn't mean anything by this chance
shot, so he must be thrown off the scent.
"You have a disagreeable way of making remarks, sir, and I have no time
to listen to foolish speeches. Tomorrow is election day and I've a good
many details yet to arrange."
"No chance of you're getting in jail, is there?"
"What do you mean by that?"
"I only thought that if you'd done anything liable to make trouble,
you'd have to arrange your affairs for a long spell in jail. Politicians
sometimes make mistakes. But you're such an honest man, Mr. Hopkins, you
couldn't possibly go crooked."
Mr. Hopkins felt shaky again, and looked at his tormentor earnestly,
trying to discern whether there was any real knowledge beneath this
innuendo. But Uncle John met his gaze with a cheerful smile and
"I guess you've got a hard fight ahead of you. My young friend Forbes is
trying to get elected himself, and you can't both win."
"Oh, yes; Forbes," said Erastus, trying to regain his accustomed ease.
"A worthy young man, sir; but I'm afraid his chances are slim."
"Are they, now?" asked Uncle John, pretending a mild interest.
"Pretty thin, Mr. Merrick. Our majority is too great to overcome."
"What do you think your majority will be? About sixty-six?"
Mr. Hopkins gave a start and turned red.
"About sixty-six," he repeated, vacantly, trying to decide if this was
another chance shot.
"Yes; about sixty-six mill hands."
The cat was out of the bag now. Hopkins realized that Merrick had some
knowledge or at least suspicion of this plot. He tried to think what to
do, and it occurred to him that if his visitor positively knew anything
he would not act in this absurd manner, but come straight to the point.
So he ignored the speech, merely saying:
"Anything else, sir?"
"No," replied Uncle John; "I'll go home, I guess. Folks'll be expecting
me. Sorry Forbes hasn't got that sixty-six mill hands; but Doc. Squiers
probably registered 'em all right, and they'll probably vote for
"Wait a moment, sir!" cried Erastus, as Uncle John was turning away.
"That speech demands an explanation, and I mean to have it."
"Oh, you do? Well, I don't object. You may not know it, but Squiers has
registered sixty-six non-voters, and I want to know whether you're
prepared to give half of them to Forbes, or mean to keep them all for
"If Squiers has made false registrations he must stand the consequences.
I want you to understand, sir, that I do not countenance any underhand
"Then it's all off? You won't vote the mill hands?"
"Not a man shall vote who is not properly registered."
"I'm glad to hear it, Mr. Hopkins. Perhaps you can get that twenty-five
hundred back. I don't think Squiers has cashed the check yet."
The Honorable Erastus gave a roar like a wild bull, but Uncle John had
walked quietly out and climbed into his buggy. He looked back, and
seeing Mr. Hopkins's scowling face at the window returned a pleasant
smile as he drove away.
Mr. Watson had just finished his interview with the dentist when Uncle
John picked him up at the corner. The lawyer had accomplished more than
the other two, for he had secured a paper exonerating Lucy Rogers and
another incriminating the Honorable Erastus Hopkins, as well as the
sixty dollars paid by Tom Gates. The dentist was thoroughly frightened,
but determined, now that the conspiracy was defeated, that the man who
had led him to the crime should not escape in case he was himself
arrested. So he made a plain statement of the whole matter and signed
it, and Mr. Watson assured Squiers immunity from arrest, pending good
behavior. The man had already cashed Hopkins's check, and he knew the
Representative could not get the money away from him, so after all the
dentist lost nothing by the exposure.
It was a jolly party that assembled at the dinner-table in Elmhurst that
"You see," explained Uncle John, "the thing looked as big as a balloon
to us at first; but it was only a bubble, after all, and as soon as we
pricked it--it disappeared."
THE "RETURNS" FROM FAIRVIEW
Election day dawned sunny and bright; but there was a chill in the air
that betokened the approach of winter.
Uncle John had suggested serving coffee to the voters at the different
polling places, and Kenneth had therefore arranged for a booth at each
place, where excellent coffee was served free all day long. These booths
were decorated with Forbes banners and attracted a great deal of
comment, as the idea was a distinct innovation in this district.
"You wouldn't catch Hopkins giving anything away," remarked one farmer
to another. "'Rast is too close-fisted."
"Why, as fer that," was the reply, "the thing is done to catch votes.
You know that as well as I do."
"S'pose it is," said the first speaker. "I'd ruther my vote was caught
by a cup of hot coffee on a cold day, than by nothin' at all. If we've
got to bite anyhow, why not take a hook that's baited?"
Patsy and Beth made the rounds of the polling places in an automobile
covered with flags and bunting, and wherever they appeared they were
greeted with cordial cheers.
Mr. Hopkins was noticeable by his absence, and this was due not so much
to his cowardice as to an unfortunate accident.
Neither Squiers nor Hopkins knew just how their secret had leaked out,
for Patsy's presence in the dentist's office had not been disclosed; so
each one suspected the other of culpable foolishness if not downright
rascality. After Uncle John's visit Erastus stormed over to Squiers's
office and found his accomplice boiling with indignation at having been
trapped in a criminal undertaking.
As the two men angrily faced each other they could not think of any
gentle words to say, and Dr. Squiers became so excited by the other's
reproaches that he indulged in careless gestures. One of these gestures
bumped against the Honorable Erastus's right eye with such force that
the eye was badly injured.
The candidate for re-election, therefore, wakened on election morning
with the damaged optic swollen shut and sadly discolored. Realizing that
this unfortunate condition would not win votes, Mr. Hopkins remained at
home all day and nagged his long-suffering spouse, whose tongue was her
The Representative had promptly telephoned to Marshall at Fairview
telling him not to vote the men as arranged. He was not especially
charmed with the manager's brief reply:
"Don't be alarmed. We're not all fools!"
"I guess, 'Rast," remarked Mary Hopkins, looking at her damaged and
irritable husband with a blending of curiosity and contempt, "that
you're 'bout at the end of your rope."
"You wait," said Erastus, grimly. "This thing ain't over yet."
The day passed very quietly and without any especial incident. A full
vote was polled, and by sundown the fate of the candidates had been
decided. But the counting seemed to progress slowly and the group
assembled around the telephone in Kenneth's library thought the returns
would never arrive.
The Republican Committee had given Mr. Forbes a table showing what the
vote of each precinct should be, according to their canvass.
The first report was from Elmwood, and showed a gain of seventeen over
the estimate. Patsy was delighted, for she had worked hard in Elmwood,
and this proved that her efforts had been successful. Then came a report
from Longville, in Jefferson County. It showed a gain of forty-three
votes for Hopkins, and a consequent loss for Forbes. This was a
startling surprise, and the next advice from a country precinct in
Washington County showed another gain of twelve for Hopkins.
The little group of workers looked at one another with inquiring eyes,
and Patsy could hardly refrain from crying.
The butler announced dinner, but only Louise and Mr. Watson could eat
anything. The others were too intent on learning their fate and could
not leave the telephone.
It seemed queer that the precincts furthest away should be first to
respond, but so it was. Jefferson County returns began to come in
rapidly, and were received in dismal silence. Hopkins gained four here,
seven there, and twenty-two in another precinct.
"It looks," said Kenneth, quietly, "like a landslide for Hopkins, and I
wonder how our Committee was so badly informed."
"You see," said Uncle John, "voters won't usually tell the truth about
how they've decided to vote. Lots of them tell both sides they're going
to vote their way. And people change their minds at the last minute,
too. You can't do much more than average the thing by means of a
By nine o'clock, complete returns from the part of Jefferson County
included in the Eighth District showed a net gain of one hundred and
eight for Hopkins--a lead that it seemed impossible to overcome.
Washington County was not so bad. Incomplete returns indicated a slight
gain for Hopkins, but not more than a dozen votes altogether.
"Everything now depends upon Dupree and Fairview," announced Kenneth,
"but I can't get any connection with them yet. We won in Elmwood,
anyhow, and Hopkins isn't ahead more than a hundred and sixty as the
thing stands now. Cheer up, girls. A defeat won't hurt us much, for
we've all made a good fight. Better get to bed and sleep, for you're
tired out. We'll know all about everything in the morning."
But they would not move. Disappointment unnerved them more than victory
would have done. They resolved to wait until the last returns were in.
"Telephone, sir," said Tom Gates.
Kenneth picked up the receiver.
"Here's Dupree," he said. "Our majority over Hopkins is two hundred and
eleven. Let's see, that's a gain of seventy-four votes, my dears."
"Hooray!" cried Patsy, delightedly. "I don't care a rap now, what
happens. Old Hopkins won't have much to crow over if--"
"Wait a minute," said Kenneth. "Here's Fairview, at last!"
They held their breaths and watched his face. Kenneth flushed red as he
held the receiver to his ear, and then grew white. He turned around to
the expectant group and Beth knew from the sparkle in his eyes what had
"Fairview's six precincts give us six hundred and forty-one majority,"
announced the boy, in an awed tone. "That's a gain of nearly four
They gazed at him in silent wonder. Then Uncle John rose slowly and took
the boy's hand.
"That means we've won--and won in a walk," said the little man.
"Kenneth, we congratulate you."
Patsy's face was buried in her handkerchief, and Beth's great eyes were
bright with unshed tears. But Louise laughed her soft, musical laugh and
"Why, I knew all the time we would win. We had the better candidate, you
"And the best campaign managers," added Uncle John, with a proud smile.
"That may be true," admitted Beth. "But the thing that really won the
fight was Patsy's sore tooth."
James and Mr. Burke met the great specialist in brain diseases at the
noon train on Wednesday and drove him to Elmhurst.
Dr. Hoyt was a handsome, gray-haired man, with kindly eyes and a
distinguished manner. When he was ushered into the library the young
ladies were attracted by the physician at once, and from the first
glance were inspired by confidence in his powers. Yet Dr. Hoyt spoke
rather doubtfully of the case in hand.
"These cases are not so rare as you might suppose," he said; "yet no two
of them are exactly alike. Usually the recovery is slow and tedious; but
recovery is not always assured. In some instances, however, the memory
is absolutely restored, and from what Mr. Burke has explained to me of
Lucy Rogers's history this is what we may expect now. Or else, we must
trust to time or an accident to awaken her dormant mental faculties. The
case is so interesting that I should like, with your permission, to make
an experiment which can result in no harm if it does not succeed."
"We put the matter entirely in your hands, sir," said Uncle John. "Act
as you think best."
"I thank you," replied Dr. Hoyt, bowing. Then he turned to the girls.
"Which of you young ladies has won the friendship of Lucy Rogers?" he
Louise answered that she and Eliza Parsons had become good friends.
"Will you assist me?" asked the physician.
"I wish to send the girl into a deep sleep, to render her unconscious
without her suspecting my intention, or realizing the fact. Can you
suggest a way to do this?"
Louise tried to think.
"What means will you employ, sir?" she asked.
"There are many ways to accomplish this. I prefer to administer a
powerful sleeping potion. Have you any confectionery or bon-bons at
"Yes, indeed. I have just received a fresh box of bon-bons from New
York. But I'm not sure I can induce Eliza to eat candy."
"Then let us prepare the potion in various ways. But you must be
careful, Miss Merrick, not to make a mistake and take the dose
"I'll be careful, sir," she promised.
The two then retired to perfect their plan, and in an hour every
arrangement was complete.
Louise went to her room, donned a wrapper, and bandaged her head. Then
she summoned Martha and asked the housekeeper to send Eliza Parsons to
sit with her in the darkened room, as she was suffering from a headache.
The maid came at once, to all appearances, as happy and careless as
ever. After expressing her sympathy she asked what she could do.
"Just sit down and keep me company, dear," replied Louise. "I'm not very
bad, but I'm restless and can't sleep, and I want you to talk to me and
"That is easy, as far as talking is concerned," she said. "But to amuse
you, Miss Louise, may be more difficult."
But the girls found a topic of conversation in the election, in which
Eliza was much interested, and they chatted together for an hour or so
before Louise made any move to consummate her plot.
"I hope my foolish reports to Mr. Hopkins did no harm to Mr. Forbes,"
Eliza was saying. "I really had little to tell him of your conversation
"You did no harm at all, for Mr. Forbes was elected," replied Louise.
Then she said, carelessly:
"Martha has sent me this pitcher of lemonade, and I don't care for it.
Won't you drink a glass, Eliza?"
"No, thank you," she replied, shaking her head. "I never drink
"Then have one of these sandwiches?"
"I'm not hungry, Miss Louise."
Louise sighed. Both the lemonade and the sandwiches had been "dosed" by
Dr. Hoyt. Then she picked up the box of bon-bons that was beside her.
"But you will eat some candy, dear. Every girl likes candy."
"I don't seem to care for it," said Eliza carelessly.
"Just one piece, to please me," coaxed Louise, and selected a piece from
the box with dainty care. "Here, my dear; you'll find this sort very
Eliza hesitated, but finally reached out her hand and took the bon-bon.
Louise lay back in her chair and closed her eyes, fearing their
eagerness might betray her. When after a time she opened them again
Eliza was slowly rocking back and forth and chewing the confection.
Dr. Hoyt's first suggestion had been best. The potion had been prepared
in several ways to tempt Eliza, but the candy had been the effectual
Louise felt a glow of triumph, but managed to continue the conversation,
relating in an amusing way the anxiety of the Elmhurst folks when the
first returns seemed to indicate the election of Hopkins.
Eliza laughed once or twice, her head resting upon the back of her
chair. Then the words of Louise began to sound dreamy and indistinct in
her ears. The chair rocked with less regularity; soon it came to a stop,
and Eliza was peacefully sleeping in its ample depths.
Louise now rose softly and rang her bell. Footsteps approached, and a
knock came upon the door. She admitted Dr. Hoyt, Mr. Burke, and two
The physician approached the sleeping girl and gently lifted the lids of
her eyes. Then he nodded with satisfaction.
"There was no suspicion on her part? She made no struggle--no attempt to
evade unconsciousness?" he asked.
"None at all, sir," replied Louise. "She ate the bon-bon, and was asleep
before she realized it."
"Excellent!" said the doctor. "We will now place her in her own room,
upon her bed, while Mr. Burke and I drive over to her former home to
complete our arrangements."
"Won't she waken?" asked Louise.
"Not until tomorrow morning, and when she does I hope for a complete
restoration of her memory."
Beth went with Dr. Hoyt to the Rogers farm, because she knew Mrs.
Rogers. It was necessary to break the news to the poor, blind woman
gently, but Beth's natural tact stood her in good stead. She related the
story of the search for Lucy, the discovery that one of the maids at
Elmhurst resembled the missing girl, and the detective's conclusion that
Eliza Parsons was none other than Lucy Rogers, who was suffering from a
peculiar mental aberration and had forgotten every detail of her former
Mrs. Rogers followed the tale with intelligent understanding, and her
joy at the discovery of her wandering child was only tempered by the
fear that Lucy would never know her mother again or be content to remain
in her humble home.
Then Dr. Hoyt took up the conversation and related the many instances of
complete recovery that had come under his observation.
"I am adopting heroic methods in this case," said he, "but I have
reasonable hopes of their success. Your child doubtless became mentally
confused while under this roof. How many hours she wandered, we do not
know, but it could not have been long before she lay down by the
roadside and fell asleep. When she awakened her mind was a blank as
regards her identity and former history. Now, in order to effect a
recovery, I have reversed these experiences with her. She is at present
plunged into a deep sleep, under the influence of narcotics that have
rendered her brain absolutely inactive. It is really a state of coma,
and I wish her to waken in this house, amid the scenes with which she
was formerly familiar. By this means I hope to induce her mental
faculties to resume their normal functions."
Mrs. Rogers accepted this proposal with calmness and a confidence in the
physician that was admirable. Old Will trembled with nervous excitement,
and was so "flustered" by the importance of the experiment that Dr. Hoyt
decided to give him a quieting potion.
Lucy's room was prepared in the exact manner in which she had left it,
and presently the visitors drove back to Elmhurst.
In the evening the doctor made the journey a second time, accompanying
the unconscious form of Lucy, which was attended by a maid Louise had
sent with her.
The girl was undressed and put to bed in her own room, and then everyone
except Dr. Hoyt returned to Elmhurst.
The physician sat late in conversation with the blind woman and old
Will, and when they retired for the night he lay down upon a lounge in
the little living-room. The question of fees or of comfort was wholly
ignored by the specialist at the moment. His sole interest was in his
Mrs. Rogers rose at daylight and with old Will's assistance prepared the
breakfast. The little table was set in the humble living-room, and the
fragrant odor of coffee pervaded the house. Dr. Hoyt drank a cup and
then stepped out upon the little porch, taking a position of observation
by the window.
"All right, Nell," muttered old Will, his knees knocking together, in
spite of himself.
Mrs. Rogers rose quietly and walked to the foot of the stairs.
"Lucy! Lucy!" she called.
"Yes!" came a faint reply.
"Breakfast is ready!"
Then the two old people sat in suppressed excitement for what seemed to
them an age. But the physician, calmly stationed at the window, knew it
was not very long.
Presently a light step sounded upon the stairs and Lucy came into the
"Good morning, mother dear!" she said, a new, sweet tenderness in her
voice. And then she knelt and kissed the woman upon her brow.
The doctor looked at his watch.
"I must be going," he muttered, turning away. "There's time for me to
catch the early train."