Pleading of the Blood (1907)
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Well, I'll do my best with this, as it's very necessary I should get the permanency, for I fear our family purse is growing very slim.
Mother's face has a new wrinkle of worry every day. It hurts me to see it. If only we both could get positions, everything would be all right. Mother wouldn't have to worry so. Don't say anything about this chance to her until you see what comes of it.
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She'd only be doubly disappointed if nothing did. What is your other assignment? Moreland's birthday celebration. He is a hundred years old, and there's going to be a presentation and speeches and that sort of thing. Nothing very exciting about it.
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I'll have to come back on the three o'clock train and hurry out to catch my politician before he leaves at five. Take a stroll down to meet my train, Patty. We can go out as far as Mr. Reid's house together, and the walk will do you good. The Baxters lived in Aylmer, a lively little town with two newspapers, the Chronicle and the Ledger. Between these two was a sharp journalistic rivalry in the matter of "beats" and "scoops.
There was no pay attached to the position, but he was getting training and there was the possibility of a permanency in September if he proved his mettle. Baxter had died two years before, and the failure of the company in which Mrs. Baxter's money was invested had left the little family dependent on their own resources. Clifford, who had cherished dreams of a course in mechanical engineering, knew that he must give them up and go to the first work that offered itself, which he did staunchly and uncomplainingly.
Patty, who hitherto had had no designs on a "career," but had been sunnily content to be a home girl and Mother's right hand, also realized that it would be well to look about her for something to do. She was not really needed so far as the work of the little house went, and the whole burden must not be allowed to fall on Clifford's eighteen-year-old shoulders. Patty was his senior by a year, and ready to do her part unflinchingly.
The next afternoon Patty went down to meet Clifford's train. When it came, no Clifford appeared. Patty stared about her at the hurrying throngs in bewilderment. Where was Clifford? Hadn't he come on the train?
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Surely he must have, for there was no other until seven o'clock. She must have missed him somehow. Patty waited until everybody had left the station, then she walked slowly homeward. As the Chronicle office was on her way, she dropped in to see if Clifford had reported there.
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She found nobody in the editorial offices except the office boy, Larry Brown, who promptly informed her that not only had Clifford not arrived, but that there was a telegram from him saying that he had missed his train. Patty gasped in dismay. It was dreadful! He left before the telegram came. He'll be furious when he finds out that nobody has gone to interview that foxy old politician," said Larry, who knew all about Clifford's assignment and its importance.
Larry shook his head. We're mighty short-handed just now on account of the explosion and the strike. Patty went downstairs and stood for a moment in the hall, rapt in reflection. If she had been at home, she verily believed she would have sat down and cried. Oh, it was too bad, too disappointing! Clifford would certainly lose all chance of the permanency, even if the irate news editor did not discharge him at once.
What could she do? Could she do anything? She must do something.
Then she started. Why not? Why not go and interview the big man herself?
To be sure, she did not know a great deal about interviewing, still less about railroad bills, and nothing at all about politics. But if she did her best it might be better than nothing, and might at least save Clifford his present hold. With Patty, to decide was to act. She flew back to the reporters' room, pounced on a pencil and tablet, and hurried off, her breath coming quickly, and her eyes shining with excitement. It was quite a long walk out to Mr.
Reid's place and Patty was tired when she got there, but her courage was not a whit abated. She mounted the steps and rang the bell undauntedly. She had forgotten the name. The maid who had come to the door looked her over so superciliously that Patty flushed with indignation. Reid," she said crisply. Is he in? Reefer, he is," said the maid quite respectfully. Evidently the Chronicle 's name carried weight in the Reid establishment. I'll go and tell him.
Patty had just time to seat herself at the table, spread out her paper imposingly, and assume a businesslike air when Mr. Reefer came in. He was a tall, handsome old man with white hair, jet-black eyes, and a mouth that made Patty hope she wouldn't stumble on any questions he wouldn't want to answer.
Patty knew she would waste her breath if she did. A man with a mouth like that would never tell anything he didn't want to tell. What can I do for you, madam? Reefer with the air and tone of a man who means to be courteous, but has no time or information to waste. Patty was almost overcome by the "Madam. She couldn't ask that masculine sphinx questions!