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- Oh, Money! Money! - 50/52 -
"Next Wednesday. I heard from Nellie last night. She is expecting me then."
"How perfectly splendid! I'm so glad! And I do hope you can DO it, and that it won't peter out at the last minute, same's most of your good times do. Poor Maggie! And you've had such a hard life--and your boarder leaving, too! That'll make a lot of difference in your pocketbook, won't it? But, Maggie, you'll have to have some new clothes."
"Of course. I've been shopping this afternoon. I've got to have--oh, lots of things."
"Of course you have. And, Maggie,"--Miss Flora's face grew eager,-- "please, PLEASE, won't you let me help you a little--about those clothes? And get some nice ones--some real nice ones, for once. You KNOW how I'd love to! Please, Maggie, there's a good girl!"
"Thank you, no, dear," refused Miss Maggie, shaking her head with a smile. "But I appreciate your kindness just the same--indeed, I do!"
"If you wouldn't be so horrid proud," pouted Miss Flora.
But Miss Maggie stopped her with a gesture.
"No, no,--listen! I--I have something to tell you. I was going to tell you soon, anyway, and I'll tell it now. I HAVE money, dear,--lots of it now."
"You HAVE money!"
"Yes. Father's Cousin George died two months ago."
"The rich one, in Alaska?"
"Yes; and to father's daughter he left--fifty thousand dollars."
"And I never even SAW him! But he loved father, you know, years ago, and father loved him."
"But had you ever heard from him--late years?"
"Not much. Father was very angry because he went to Alaska in the first place, you know, and they haven't ever written very often."
"Fifty thousand! And you've got it now?"
"Not yet--all of it. They sent me a thousand--just for pin money, they said. The lawyer's written several times, and he's been here once. I believe it's all to come next month."
"Oh, I'm so glad, Maggie," breathed Flora. "I'm so glad! I don't know of anybody I'd rather see take a little comfort in life than you!"
At the door, fifteen minutes later, Miss Flora said again how glad she was; but she added wistfully:--
"I'm sure I don't know, though, what I'm going to do all summer without you. Just think how lonesome we'll be--you gone to Chicago, Hattie and Jim and all their family moved to Plainville, and even Mr. Smith gone, too! And I think we're going to miss Mr. Smith a whole lot, too. He was a real nice man. Don't you think so, Maggie?"
"Indeed, I do think he was a very nice man!" declared Miss Maggie. "Now, Flora, I shall want you to go shopping with me lots. Can you?"
And Miss Flora, eagerly entering into Miss Maggie's discussion of frills and flounces, failed to notice that Miss Maggie had dropped the subject of Mr. Smith somewhat hastily.
Hillerton had much to talk about during those summer days. Mr. Smith's going had created a mild discussion--the "ancestor feller" was well known and well liked in the town. But even his departure did not arouse the interest that was bestowed upon the removal of the James Blaisdells to Plainville; and this, in turn, did not cause so great an excitement as did the news that Miss Maggie Duff had inherited fifty thousand dollars and had gone to Chicago to spend it. And the fact that nearly all who heard this promptly declared that they hoped she WOULD spend a good share of it--in Chicago, or elsewhere--on herself, showed pretty well just where Miss Maggie Duff stood in the hearts of Hillerton.
. . . . . .
It was early in September that Miss Flora had the letter from Miss Maggie. Not but that she had received letters from Miss Maggie before, but that the contents of this one made it at once, to all the Blaisdells, "the letter."
Miss Flora began to read it, gave a little cry, and sprang to her feet. Standing, her breath suspended, she finished it. Five minutes later, gloves half on and hat askew, she was hurrying across the common to her brother Frank's home.
"Jane, Jane," she panted, as soon as she found her sister-in-law. "I've had a letter from Maggie. Mr. Stanley G. Fulton has come back. HE'S COME BACK!"
"Come back! Alive, you mean? Oh, my goodness gracious! What'll Hattie do? She's just been living on having that money. And us, with all we've lost, too! But, then, maybe we wouldn't have got it, anyway. My stars! And Maggie wrote you? Where's the letter?"
"There! And I never thought to bring it," ejaculated Miss Flora vexedly. "But, never mind! I can tell you all she said. She didn't write much. She said it would be in all the Eastern papers right away, of course, but she wanted to tell us first, so we wouldn't be so surprised. He's just come. Walked into his lawyer's office without a telegram, or anything. Said he didn't want any fuss made. Mr. Tyndall brought home the news that night in an 'Extra'; but that's all it told--just that Mr. Stanley G. Fulton, the multi-millionaire who disappeared nearly two years ago on an exploring trip to South America, had come back alive and well. Then it told all about the two letters he left, and the money he left to us, and all that, Maggie said; and it talked a lot about how lucky it was that he got back just in time before the other letter had to be opened next November. But it didn't say any more about his trip, or anything. The morning papers will have more, Maggie said, probably."
"Yes, of course, of course," nodded Jane, rolling the corner of her upper apron nervously. (Since the forty-thousand-dollar loss Jane had gone back to her old habit of wearing two aprons.) "Where DO you suppose he's been all this time? Was he lost or just exploring?"
"Maggie said it wasn't known--that the paper didn't say. It was an 'Extra' anyway, and it just got in the bare news of his return. But we'll know, of course. The papers here will tell us. Besides, Maggie'll write again about it, I'm sure. Poor Maggie! I'm so glad she's having such a good time!"
"Yes, of course, of course," nodded Jane again nervously. "Say, Flora, I wonder--do you suppose WE'LL ever hear from him? He left us all that money--he knows that, of course. He can't ask for it back--the lawyer said he couldn't do that! Don't you remember? But, I wonder--do you suppose we ought to write him and--and thank him?"
"Oh, mercy!" exclaimed Miss Flora, aghast. "Mercy me, Jane! I'd be scared to death to do such a thing as that. Oh, you don't think we've got to do THAT?" Miss Flora had grown actually pale.
"I don't know. We'd want to do what was right and proper, of course. But I don't see--" She paused helplessly.
Miss Flora gave a sudden hysterical little laugh.
"Well, I don't see how we're going to find out what's proper, in this case," she giggled. "We can't write to a magazine, same as I did when I wanted to know how to answer invitations and fix my knives and forks on the table. We CAN'T write to them, 'cause nothing like this ever happened before, and they Wouldn't know what to say. How'd we look writing, 'Please, dear Editor, when a man wills you a hundred thousand dollars and then comes to life again, is it proper or not proper to write and thank him?' They'd think we was crazy, and they'd have reason to! For my part, I--"
The telephone bell rang sharply, and Jane rose to answer it. She was gone some time. When she came back she was even more excited.
"It was Frank. He's heard it. It was in the papers to-night."
"Did it tell anything more?"
"Not much, I guess. Still, there was some. He's going to bring it home. It's 'most supper-time. Why don't you wait?" she questioned, as Miss Flora got hastily to her feet.
Miss Flora shook her head.
"I can't. I left everything just as it was and ran, when I got the letter. I'll get a paper myself on the way home. I'm going to call up Hattie, too, on the long distance. My, it's 'most as exciting as it was when it first came,--the money, I mean,--isn't it?" panted Miss Flora as she hurried away.
The Blaisdells bought many papers during the next few days. But even by the time that the Stanley G. Fulton sensation had dwindled to a short paragraph in an obscure corner of a middle page, they (and the public in general) were really little the wiser, except for these bare facts:--
Stanley G. Fulton had arrived at a South American hotel, from the interior, had registered as S. Fulton, frankly to avoid publicity, and had taken immediate passage to New York. Arriving at New York, still to avoid publicity, he had not telegraphed his attorneys, but had taken the sleeper for Chicago, and had fortunately not met any one who recognized him until his arrival in that city. He had brought home several fine specimens of Incan textiles and potteries: and he declared that he had had a very enjoyable and profitable trip. Beyond that he would say nothing, He did not care to talk of his experiences, he said.
For a time, of course, his return was made much of. Fake interviews and rumors of threatened death and disaster in impenetrable jungles made frequent appearance; but in an incredibly short time the flame of interest died from want of fuel to feed upon; and, as Mr. Stanley G.
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