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    Chapter 16

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    Chapter 16
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    With a proud air she crushingly departed, returning to her own home far from dissatisfied with what she had accomplished. Moreover, she began to expand with the realization of a new importance; and she was gratified with the effect upon her parents, at dinner that evening, when she informed them that she had written a poem, which was to be published in the prospective first number of The North End Daily Oriole.

    "Written a poem?" said her father. "Well, I declare! Why, that's remarkable, Florence!"

    "I'm glad the boys were nice about it," said her mother. "I should have feared they couldn't appreciate it, after being so cross to you about letting you have anything to do with the printing-press. They must have thought it was a very good poem."

    "Where is the poem, Florence?" Mr. Atwater asked. "Let's read it and see what our little girl can do when she really tries."

    Unfortunately Florence had not a copy, and when she informed her father of this fact, he professed himself greatly disappointed as well as eager for the first appearance of The Oriole, that he might felicitate himself upon the evidence of his daughter's heretofore unsuspected talent. Florence was herself anxious for the newspaper's debut, and she made her anxiety so clear to Atwater & Rooter, Owners & Propreitors, every afternoon after school, during the following week, that by Thursday further argument and repartee on their part were felt to be indeed futile; and in order to have a little peace around there, they carried her downstairs. At least, they defined their action as "carrying," and, having deposited her in the yard, they were obliged to stand guard at the doors, which they closed and contrived to hold against her until her strength was worn out for that day.

    Florence consoled herself. During the week she dropped in on all the members of "the family"--her grandfather, uncles and aunts and cousins, her great-aunts and great-uncles--and in each instance, after no protracted formal preliminaries, lightly remarked that she wrote poetry now; her first to appear in the forthcoming Oriole. And when Great-Aunt Carrie said, "Why, Florence, you're wonderful! I couldn't write a poem to save my life. I never could see how they do it," Florence laughed, made a deprecatory little side motion with her head, and responded, "Why, Aunt Carrie, that's nothing! It just kind of comes to you."

    This also served as her explanation when some of her school friends expressed their admiration, after being told the news in confidence; though to one of the teachers she said, smiling ruefully, as in remembrance of midnight oil, "It does take work, of course!"

    * * * * * * *

    When opportunity offered, upon the street, she joined people she knew (or even rather distant acquaintances) to walk with them a little way and lead the conversation to the subject of poetry, including her own contribution to that art. Altogether, if Florence was not in a fair way to become a poetic celebrity it was not her own fault but entirely that of The North End Daily Oriole, which was to make its appearance on Saturday, but failed to do so on account of too much enthusiasm on the part of Atwater & Rooter in manipulating the printing-press. It broke, had to be repaired; and Florence, her nerves upset by the accident, demanded her money back. This was impossible, and the postponement proved to be but an episode; moreover, it gave her time to let more people know of the treat that was coming.

    Among these was Noble Dill. Until the Friday following her disappointment she had found no opportunity to acquaint her Very Ideal with the news; and but for an encounter partly due to chance, he might not have heard of it. A sentimental enrichment of colour in her cheeks was the result of her catching sight of him, as she was on the point of opening and entering her own front door, that afternoon, on her return from school. He was passing the house, walking somewhat dreamily.

    Florence stepped into the sheltering vestibule, peeping round it with earnest eyes to watch him as he went by; obviously he had taken no note of her. Satisfied of this, she waited until he was at a little distance, then ran lightly down to the gate, hurried after him and joined him.

    "Why, Mr. Dill!" she exclaimed, in her mother's most polished manner. "How supprising to see you! I presume as we both happen to be walking the same direction we might just's well keep together."

    "Surprising to see me?" Noble said vaguely. "I haven't been away anywhere in particular, Florence." Then, at a thought, he brightened. "I'm glad to see you, Florence. Do you know if any of your family or relatives have heard when your Aunt Julia is coming home?"

    "Aunt Julia? She's out of town," said Florence. "She's visiting different people she used to know when she was away at school."

    "Yes, I know," Mr. Dill returned. "But she's been gone six weeks."

    "Oh, I don't believe it's that long," Florence said casually; then with more earnestness: "Mr. Dill, I was goin' to ask you somep'n--it's kind of a funny question for me to ask, but----"

    "Yes, she has," Noble interrupted, not aware that his remark was an interruption. "Oh, yes, she has!" he said. "It was six weeks day-before-yesterday afternoon. I saw your father downtown this morning, and he said he didn't know that any of the family had heard just when she was coming home. I thought maybe some of your relatives had a letter from her by this afternoon's mail, perhaps."

    "I guess not," said Florence. "Mr. Dill, there was a question I thought I'd ask you. It's kind of a funny question for me----"

    "Are you sure nobody's heard from your Aunt Julia to-day?" Noble insisted.

    "I guess they haven't. Mr. Dill, I was goin' to ask you----"

    "It's strange," he murmured, "I don't see how people can enjoy visits that long. I should think they'd get anxious about what might happen at home."

    "Oh, grandpa's all right; he says he kind of likes to have the house nice and quiet to himself; and anyway Aunt Julia enjoys visiting," Florence assured him. "Aunt Fanny saw a newspaper from one the places where Aunt Julia's visiting her school room-mate. It had her picture in it and called her 'the famous Northern Beauty'; it was down South somewhere. Well, Mr. Dill, I was just sayin' I believe I'd ask you----"

    But a sectional rancour seemed all at once to affect the young man. "Oh, yes. I heard about that," he said. "Your Aunt Fanny lent my mother the newspaper. Those people in that part of the country--well----" He paused, remembering that it was only Florence he addressed; and he withheld from utterance his opinion that the Civil War ought to be fought all over again. "Your father said your grandfather hadn't heard from her for several days, and even then she hadn't said when she was coming home."

    "No, I expect she didn't," said Florence. "Mr. Dill, I was goin' to ask you somep'n--it's kind of a queer kind of question for me to ask, I guess----" She paused. However, he did not interrupt her, seeming preoccupied with gloom; whereupon Florence permitted herself a deprecatory laugh, and continued, "It might be you'd answer yes, or it might be you'd answer no; but anyway I was goin' to ask you--it's kind of a funny question for me to ask, I expect--but do you like poetry?"

    "What?"

    "Well, as things have turned out lately I guess it's kind of a funny question, Mr. Dill, but do you like poetry?"

    Noble's expression took on a coldness; for the word brought to his mind a thought of Newland Sanders. "Do I like poetry?" said Noble. "No, I don't."

    Florence was momentarily discouraged; but at her age people usually possess an invaluable faculty, which they lose later in life; and it is a pity that they do lose it. At thirteen--especially the earlier months of thirteen--they are still able to set aside and dismiss from their minds almost any facts, no matter how audibly those facts have asked for recognition. Children superbly allow themselves to become deaf, so to speak, to undesirable circumstances; most frequently, of course, to undesirable circumstances in the way of parental direction; so that fathers, mothers, nurses, or governesses, not comprehending that this mental deafness is for the time being entirely genuine, are liable to hoarseness both of throat and temper. Thirteen is an age when the fading of this gift or talent, one of the most beautiful of childhood, begins to impair its helpfulness under the mistaken stress of discipline; but Florence retained something of it. In a moment or two Noble Dill's disaffection toward poetry was altogether as if it did not exist.

    She coughed, inclined her head a little to one side, in her mother's manner of politeness to callers, and, repeating her deprecatory laugh, remarked: "Well, of course it's kind of a funny question for me to ask, of course."

    "What is, Florence?" Noble inquired absently.

    "Well--what I was saying was that 'course it's sort of queer me askin' if you liked poetry, of course, on account of my writing poetry the way I do now."

    She looked up at him with a bright readiness to respond modestly to whatever exclamation his wonder should dictate; but Noble's attention had straggled again.

    "Has she written your mother lately?" he asked.

    Florence's expression denoted a mental condition slightly disturbed. "No," she said. "It's goin' to be printed in The North End Daily Oriole."

    "What?"

    "My poem. It's about a vast amen--anyhow, that's proba'ly the best thing in it, I guess--and they're goin' to have it out to-morrow, or else they'll have to settle with me; that's one thing certain! I'll bring one over to your house and leave it at the door for you, Mr. Dill."

    Noble had but a confused notion of what she thus generously promised. However, he said, "Thank you," and nodded vaguely.

    "Of course, I don't know as it's so awful good," Florence admitted insincerely. "The family all seem to think it's something pretty much; but I don't know if it is or not. Really, I don't!"

    "No," said Noble, still confused. "I suppose not."

    "I'm half way through another one I think myself'll be a good deal better. I'm not goin' as fast with it as I did with the other one, and I expect it'll be quite a ways ahead of this one." She again employed the deprecatory little laugh. "I don't know how I do it, myself. The family all think it's sort of funny I don't know how I do it, myself; but that's the way it is. They all say if they could do it they're sure they'd know how they did it; but I guess they're wrong. I presume if you can do it, why, it just comes to you. Don't you presume that's the way it is, Mr. Dill?"

    "I--guess so." They had reached his gate, and he stopped. "You're sure none of your family have heard anything to-day?" he asked anxiously.

    "From Aunt Julia? I don't think they have."

    He sighed, and opened the gate. "Well, good evening, Florence."

    "Good evening." Her eyes followed him wistfully as he passed within the enclosure; then she turned and walked quickly toward her own home; but at the corner of the next fence she called back over her shoulder, "I'll leave it with your mother for you, if you're not home when I bring it."

    "What?" he shouted, from his front door.

    "I'll leave it with your mother."

    "Leave what?"

    "The poem!"

    "Oh!" said Noble. "Thanks!"

    But when his mother handed him a copy of the first issue of The North End Daily Oriole, the next day, when he came home to lunch, he read it without edification; there was nothing about Julia in it.

    THE NORTH END DAILY ORIOLE

    Atwater & Rooter Owners & Propreitors

    SUBSCRIBE NOW 25 Cents Per Year

    Subscriptions shloud be brought to the East etrance of Atwater & Rooter Newspaper Building every afternoon 4.30 to 6. 25 cents.

    =======================================

    NEWS OF THE CITY

    ----------

    The Candidates for mayor at the election are Mr P. N. Gordon and John T Milo. The contest is very great between these candidates.

    Holcombs chickens get in MR. Joseph Atwater's yard a god deal lately. He says chickens are out of place in a city of this size.

    Minnie the cook of Mr. F. L. Smith's residisence goes downtown every Thrusday afts about three her regular day for it.

    A new ditch is being dug accross the MR. Henry D. Vance backyrad. ;Tis about dug but nobody is working there now. Patty Fairchild received the highest mark in declamation of the 7A at Sumner School last Friday.

    Balf's grorcey wagon ran over a cat of the Mr. Rayfort family. Geo. the driver of the wagom stated he had not but was willing to take it away and burg it somewheres Geo. stated regret and claimed nothing but an accident which could not be helped and not his team that did the damage.

    MissColfield teacher of the 7A atSumner School was reproted on the sink list. We hope she will soon be well.

    There were several deaths in the city this week.

    Mr. Fairchild father of Patty Fairchild was on the sick list several days and did not go to his office but is out now.

    Been Kriso the cHauffeur of the Mr. R. G. Atwater family washes their car on Monday. In using the hose he turned water over the fence accidently and hit Lonnie the washWOman in back of MRS. Bruffs who called him some low names. Ben told her if he had have been a man he wrould strike her but soon the distrubance was at an end. There is a good deal more of other news which will be printed in our next NO.

    Advertisements & Poems 20 Cents Each Up.

    JOSEPH K. ATWATER & CO. 127 South Iowa St, Steam Pumps.

    THE Organstep BY Florence Atwater

    The Organstep was seated at his organ in a In some beautifil words of vagle and brir But he was a gReat organstep and always When the soil is weary And the mind is drearq I would play music like a vast amen The way it sounds in a church of new Subscribe NOW 25 cents Adv & Poetry 20 cents up. Atwater & Rooter News Paper Building 25 cents per YEAR

    Such was the first issue, complete, of The North End Daily Oriole. What had happened to the poem was due partly to Atwater & Rooter's natural lack of experience in a new and exacting trade; partly to their enviable unconsciousness of any necessity for proof-reading; and somewhat to their haste in getting through the final and least interesting stage of their undertaking; for of course so far as the printers were concerned, the poem was mere hack work anti-climax.

    And as they later declared, under fire, anybody that could make out more than three words in five of Florence's ole handwriting was welcome to do it. Besides, what did it matter if a little bit was left out at the end of one or two of the lines? They couldn't be expected to run the lines out over their margin, could they? And they never knew anything crazier than makin' all this fuss, because: Well, what if some of it wasn't printed just exactly right, who in the world was goin' to notice it, and what was the difference of just a few words different in that ole poem, anyhow?

    For by the time these explanations (so to call them) took place, Florence was indeed makin' a fuss. Her emotion, at first, had been happily stimulated at sight of "BY Florence Atwater." A singular tenderness had risen in her--a tremulous sense as of something almost sacred coming at last into its own; and she hurried to distribute, gratis, among relatives and friends, several copies of the Oriole, paying for them, too (though not without injurious argument), at the rate of two cents a copy. But upon returning to her own home, she became calm enough (for a moment or so) to look over the poem with attention to details. She returned hastily to the Newspaper Building, but would have been wiser to remain away, since all subscribers had received their copies by the time she got there; and under the circumstances little reparation was practicable.

    She ended her oration--or professed to end it--by declaring that she would never have another poem in their ole vile newspaper as long as she lived.

    "You're right about that!" Henry Rooter agreed heartily. "We wouldn't let another one in it. Not for fifty dollars! Just look at all the trouble we took, moiling and toiling, to get your ole poem printed as nice as we could, so it wouldn't ruin our newspaper, and then you come over here and go on like this, and all this and that, why, I wouldn't go through it again for a hunderd dollars! We're makin' good money anyhow, with our newspaper, Florence Atwater. You needn't think we depend on you for our living!"

    "That's so," his partner declared. "We knew you wouldn't be satisfied, anyway, Florence. Didn't we, Henry?"

    "I should say we did!"

    "Yes, sir!" said Herbert. "Right when we were havin' the worst time tryin' to print it and make out some o' the words, I said right then we were just throwing away our time. I said, 'What's the use? That ole girl's bound to raise Cain anyhow, so what's the use wastin' a whole lot of our good time and brains like this, just to suit her? Whatever we do, she's certain to come over and insult us.' Isn't that what I said, Henry?"

    "Yes, it is; and I said then you were right, and you are right!"

    "Cert'nly I am," said Herbert. "Didn't I tell you she'd be just the way some the family say she is? A good many of 'em say she'd find fault with the undertaker at her own funeral. That's just exactly what I said!"

    "Oh, you did?" Florence burlesqued a polite interest. "How virry considerate of you! Then, perhaps you'll try to be a gentleman enough for one simple moment to allow me to tell you my last remarks on this subject. I've said enough----"

    "Oh, have you?" Herbert interrupted with violent sarcasm. "Oh, no! Say not so! Florence, say not so!"

    At this, Henry Rooter loudly shouted with applausive hilarity; whereupon Herbert, rather surprised at his own effectiveness, naturally repeated his waggery.

    "Say not so, Florence! Say not so! Say not so!"

    "I'll tell you one thing!" his lady cousin cried, thoroughly infuriated. "I wish to make just one last simple remark that I would care to soil myself with in your respects, Mister Herbert Illingsworth Atwater and Mister Henry Rooter!"

    "Oh, say not so, Florence!" they both entreated. "Say not so! Say not so!"

    "I'll just simply state the simple truth," Florence announced. "In the first place, you're goin' to live to see the day when you'll come and beg me on your bented knees to have me put poems or anything I want to in your ole newspaper, but I'll just laugh at you! 'Indeed?' I'll say! 'So you come beggin' around me, do you? Ha, ha!' I'll say! 'I guess it's a little too late for that! Why, I wouldn't----'"

    "Oh, say not so, Florence! Say not so!"

    "'Me to allow you to have one of my poems?' I'll say, 'Much less than that!' I'll say, 'because even if I was wearing the oldest shoes I got in the world I wouldn't take the trouble to----'"

    Her conclusion was drowned out. "Oh, Florence, say not so! Say not so, Florence! Say not so!"
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