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In spite of Major Doyle's reckless investments of my money, and—and the little we manage to give to deserving charities, I'm getting richer every day. When a small leak like this newspaper project occurs, it seems that Fortune is patting me on the back. I've no idea what a respectable newspaper will cost, but I hope it will cost a lot, for every dollar it devours makes my mind just that much easier.
鲍勃·韦斯特（五金店店主） Bob West
福格蒂（侦探）FogertyChapter 1THE HOBOAT CHAZY JUNCTION一个清晨，火车站管理员贾金斯发现了一个因汽车故障在枢纽站呆了一夜的流浪汉。起初，贾金斯驱赶流浪汉，但流浪汉的伶牙俐齿让贾金斯只得作罢。后来贾金斯向流浪汉谈起了一个神秘的有钱人……
Mr. Judkins, the station agentat Chazy Junction, came out of his little house at daybreak, shivered a bit in the chill morning air and gave an involuntary start as he saw a private car on the sidetrack. There were two private cars, to be exact—a sleeper and a baggage car—and Mr. Judkins knew the three o' clock train must have left them as it passed through.
"Ah, " said he aloud; "the nabobshev arrove."
"Who are the nabobs? "asked a quiet voice beside him.
Again Mr. Judkins started; he even stepped back a pace to get a better view of the stranger, who had approached so stealthilythrough the dim light that the agent was unaware of his existence until he spoke.
"Who be you? "he demanded, eyeing the man suspiciously.
"Never mind who I am, "retorted the other in a grumpytone; "the original question is ' who are the nabobs? ' "
"See here, young feller; this ain't no place fer tramps, "observed Mr. Judkins, frowning with evident displeasure;"Chazy Junction's got all it kin do to support its reg' lar inhabitants. You' ll hev to move on."
The stranger sat down on a baggage truck and eyed the private car reflectively. He wore a rough gray suit, baggy and threadbare, a flannel shirt with an old black tie carelessly knotted at the collar, a brown felt hat with several holes in the crown, and coarse cowhide shoes that had arrived at the last stages of usefulness. You would judge him to be from twenty-five to thirty years of age; you would note that his face was browned from exposure, that it was rather set and expressionless but in no way repulsive. His eyes, dark and retrospective, were his most redeeming feature, yet betrayed little of their owner's character. Mr. Judkins could make nothing ofthe fellow, beyond the fact that he was doubtless a "tramp" and on that account most unwelcome in this retired neighborhood.
Even tramps were unusual at Chazy Junction. The foothills were sparsely settled and the inhabitants too humble to be attractive to gentlemen of the road, while the rocky highways, tortuousand uneven, offered no invitation to the professional pedestrian.
"You' ll hev to move on! " repeated the agent, more sternly.
"I can't, " replied the other with a smile. "The car I was—er—attached to has come to a halt. The engine has left us, and—here we are, I and the nabobs."
"Be' n ridin'the trucks, eh? "
"No; rear platform. Very comfortable it was, and no interruptions. The crazy old train stopped so many times during the night that I scarcely woke up when they sidetracked us here, and the first thing I knew I was abandoned in this wilderness. As it grew light I began to examine my surroundings, and discovered you. Glad to meet you, sir."
"You needn't be."
"Don't begrudgeme the pleasure, I implore you. I can't blame you for being gruffand unsociable; were you otherwise you wouldn't reside at—at—" he turned his head to read the half legible sign on the station house, "at Chazy Junction. I'm familiar with most parts of the United States, but Chazy Junction gets my flutters. Why, oh, why in the world did it happen? "
Mr. Judkins scowledbut made no answer. He was wise enough to understand he was no match in conversation for this irresponsible outcast who knew the great world as perfectly as the agent knew his junction. He turned away and stared hard at the silent sleeper, the appearance of which was not wholly unexpected.
"You haven't informed me who the nabobs are, nor why they choose to be sidetracked in this forsaken stone-quarry, " remarked the stranger, eyeing the bleak hills around him in the growing light of dawn.
The agent hesitated. His first gruff resentment had been in a manner disarmed and he dearly loved to talk, especially on so interesting a subject as "the nabobs." He knew he could astonish the tramp, and the temptation to do so was too strong to resist.
"It's the great John Merrick, who's got millions to burn but don't light many bonfires, "he began, not very graciously at first."Two years ago he bought the Cap' n Wegg farm, over by Millville, an' —"
"Where's Millville? " inquired the man.
"Seven mile back in the hills. The farm ain't nuthin' but cobblestonean' pine woods, but—"
"How big is Millville? "
"Quite a town. Eleven stores an' houses, 'sides the mill an' a big settlement buildin' up at Royal, where the new paper millis jest started. Royal's four mile up the Little Bill Hill."
"But about the nabob—Mr. Merrick, I think you called him? "
"Yes; John Merrick. He bought the Cap' n Wegg place an'spent summer' fore last on it—him an' his three gals as is his nieces."
"Oh; three girls."
"Yes. Clever gals, too. Stirred things up some at Millville, I kin tell you, stranger. Lib' ral an' good-natured, but able to hold their own with the natives. We missed ' em, last year; but t' other day I seen ol' Hucks, that keeps their house for ' em—he ' n' his wife—an' Hucks said they was cumin'to spend this summer at the farm an' he was lookin' fer ' em any day. The way they togged up thet farmhouse is somethin' won' erful, I'm told. Hain't seen it, myself, but a whole carload o' furnitoor—an'then some more—was shipped here from New York, an' Peggy McNutt, over t' Millville, says it must ' a' cost a for-tun' ."
The tramp nodded, somewhat listlessly.
"I feel quite respectable this morning, having passed the night as the guest of a millionaire, " he observed. "Mr. Merrick didn't know it, of course, or he would have invited me inside."
"Like enough, " answered the agent seriously. "The nabob's thet reckless an' unaccountable, he's likely to do worse ner that. That's what makes him an' his gals interestin' ; nobody in quarries. How about breakfast, friend Judkins? "
"That's my business an' not yours. My missusnever feeds tramps."
"Rather ungracious to travelers, eh? "
"Ef you're a traveler, go to the hoe-tel yonder an' buy your breakfas' like a man."
"Thank you; I may follow your advice."
The agent walked up the track and put out the semaphore lights, for the sun was beginning to rise over the hills. By the time he came back a colored porter stood on the platform of the private car and nodded to him.
"Folks up yit? " asked Judkins.
"Goin'ter feed ' em in there? "
"Not dis mohnin' . Dey' ll breakfas' at de hotel. Carriage here yit? "
"Not yit. I s' pose ol' Hucks' ll drive over for ' em, " said the agent.
"Dey's 'spectin'some one, seh. As for me, I gotta live heahall day, an' it makes me sick teh think of it."
"Heh! " retorted the agent, scornfully; "you won't git sick. You're too well paid fer that."
The porter grinned, and just then a little old gentleman with a rosy, cheery face pushed him aside and trotted down the steps.
"Mornin' , Judkins! " he cried, and shook the agent's hand."What a glorious sunrise, and what crisp, delicious air! Ah, but it's good to be in old Chazy County again! "
The agent straightened up, his face wreathedwith smiles, and cast an "I told you so! " glance toward the man on the truck. But the stranger had disappeared.Chapter 2THE INVASION OF MILLVILLE托马斯、约翰·梅瑞克一行人在回家的路上偶遇流浪汉，并猜测了他的身份。最后他们一路风尘仆仆终于到达约翰在乡间的农场，安静、舒适的乡间环境让他们抖掉一身的疲惫……
Over the brow of the little hill appeared a three-seated wagon, drawn by a pair of handsome sorrels, and in a moment the equipagehalted beside the sleeper.
"Oh, Thomas Hucks—you dear, dear Thomas! " cried a clear, eager voice, and out from the car rushed Miss Patricia Doyle, to throw her arms about the neck of the old, stoopshoulderedand white-haired driver, whose face was illuminedby a joyous smile.
"Glad to see ye, Miss Patsy; right glad ' ndeed, child, "returned the old man. But others were waiting to greet him;pretty Beth De Graf and dainty Louise Merrick—not Louise"Merrick" any longer, though, but bearing a new name she had recently acquired—and demureMary, Patsy's little maid and an old friend of Thomas Hucks' , and Uncle John with his merry laugh and cordial handshake and, finally, a tall and rather dandifiedyoung man who remained an interested spectator in the background until Mr. Merrick seized and dragged him forward.
"Here's another for you to know, Thomas, " said the little millionaire. "This is the other halfof our Louise—Mr. Arthur Weldon—and by and by you can judge whether he's the better half or not."
The aged servant, hat in hand, made a respectful bow to Mr. Weldon. His frank eyes swept the young man from head to foot but his smile was the same as before.
"Miss Louise is wiser ner I be, " said the old fellow simply; " I'm safe to trust to her judgment, I guess."
There was a general laugh, at this, and they began to clamberaboard the wagon and to stow away beneath the seats the luggage the colored porter was bringing out.
"Stop at the Junction House, Thomas, " said Mr. Merrick as they moved away.
"Nora has the breakfast all ready at home, sir, " replied Thomas.
"Good for Nora! But we can't fast until we reach home—eight good miles of jolting—so we' ll stop at the Junction House for a glass of Mrs. Todd's famous milk."
"Very good, sir."
"Is anyone coming for our trunks and freight ? There's half a car of truck to be cartedover."
"Ned's on the way, sir; and he' ll get the liveryman to help if he can't carry it all."
The Junction House was hidden from the station by the tiny hill, as were the half dozen other buildings tributaryto Chazy Junction. As the wagon drew up before the long piazza which extended along the front of the little frame inn they saw a man in shabby gray seated at a small table with some bread and a glass of milk before him. It was their unrecognized guest of the night—the uninvited lodgeron the rear platform—but he did not raise his eyes or appear to notice the new arrivals.
"Mrs. Todd! Hey, Mrs. Todd! " called Uncle John."Anybody milked the cow yet? "
A frowsylooking woman came out, all smiles, and nodded pleasantly at the expectant group in the wagon. Behind her loomed the tall, lean form of Lucky Todd, the"proprietor, " who was serious as a goat, which animal he closely resembled in feature.
"Breakfas' all ' round, Mr. Merrick? " asked the woman.
"Not this time, Mrs. Todd. Nora has our breakfast waiting for us. But we want some of your delicious milk to last us to the farm."
"Las' night's milkin's half cream by this time, " she rejoined, as she brisklyreentered the house.
The man at the table held out his empty glass.
"Here; fill this up, " he said to Lucky Todd.
The somber-faced proprietor turned his gaze from the Merrick group to the stranger, eyed him pensively a moment and then faced the wagon again. The man in gray got up, placed the empty glass in Todd's hand, whirledhim around facing the door and said sternly：
"More milk! "
The landlord walked in like an automaton, and a suppressed giggle came from the girls in the wagon. Uncle John was likewise amused, and despite the unknown's frazzledapparelthe little millionaire addressed him in the same tone he would have used toward an equal.
"Don't blame you, sir. Nobody ever tasted better milk than they have at the Junction House."
The man, who had resumed his seat, stood up, took off his hat and bowed. But he made no reply.
Out came Mrs. Todd, accompanied by another frowsy woman. Between them they bore a huge jug of milk, a number of thick glasses and a plate of crackers.
"The crackers come extry, Mr. Merrick, " said the landlady, "but seein' as milk's cheap I thought you might like 'em."
The landlord now came out and placed the stranger's glass, about half filled with milk, on the table before him. The man looked at it, frowned, and tossed offthe milk in one gulp.
"More! " he said, holding out the glass.
Todd shook his head.
"Ain't no more, " he declared.
His wife overheard him and pausing in her task of refilling the glasses for the rich man's party she looked over her shoulder and said：
"Give him what he wants, Lucky."
The landlord pondered.
"Not fer ten cents, Nancy, " he protested. "The fellersaid he wanted ten cents wuth o' breakfas' , an' by Joe he's had it."
"Milk's cheap, " remarked Mrs. Todd. "It's crackers as is expensive these days. Fill up his glass, Lucky."
"Why is your husband called ' Lucky, ' Mrs. Todd? " inquired Patsy, who was enjoying the cool, creamy milk.
" ' Cause he got me to manage him, I guess, " was the laughing reply. "Todd ain't much ' count ' nless I'm on the spot to order him ' round."
The landlord came out with the glass of milk but paused before he set it down.
"Let's see your money, " he said suspiciously.
It seemed to the girls, who were curiously watching the scene, that the tramp flushed under his bronzed skin; but without reply he searched in a pocket and drew out four copper cents, which he laid upon the table. After further exploration he abstracted a nickel from another pocket and pushed the coins toward the landlord.
" ' Nother cent, " said Todd.
Continued search seemed for a time hopeless, but at last, in quite an unexpected way, the man produced the final cent and on receiving it Todd set down the milk.
"Anything more, yer honor? " he asked sarcastically.
"Yes; you might bring me the morning paper, " was the reply.
Everyone except Todd laughed frankly at this retort. Uncle John put two silver dollars in Mrs. Todd's chubby hand and told Thomas to drive on.
"I dunno, " remarked old Hucks, when they were out of earshot, "whether that feller's jest a common tramp or a workman goin' over to the paper mill at Royal. Jedgin' from the fact as he had money I guess he's a workman."
"Wrong, Thomas, quite wrong, " said Beth, seated just behind him. "Did you notice his hands? "
"No, Miss Beth."
"They were not rough and the fingers were slender and delicate."
"That's the mark of a cracksman, " said Arthur Weldon, with a laugh. "If there are any safes out here that are worth cracking, I' d say look out for the gentleman."
"His face isn't bad at all, " remarked Patsy, reflectively."Isn't there any grade between a workman and a thief? "
"Of course, " asserted Mr. Merrick, in his brisk way."This fellow, shabby as he looked, might be anything—from a strolling artist to a gentleman down on his luck. But what's the news, Thomas? How are Ethel and Joe? "
"Mr. an' Mrs. Wegg is quite comf't' ble, sir, thank you, " replied old Hucks, with a show of eagerness. "Miss Ethel's gran'ther, ol' Will Thompson, he's dead, you know, an'the young folks hev fixed up the Thompson house like a palace. Guess ye' d better speak to ' em about spendin'so much money, Mr. Merrick; I'm 'fraid they may need it some day."
"Don't worry. They've a fine income for life, Thomas, and there will be plenty to leave to their children—if they have any. But tell me about the mill at Royal. Where is Royal, anyhow? "
"Four mile up the Little Bill Creek, sir, where the Royal Waterfall is. A feller come an' looked the place over las' year an'said the pine forest would grind upinter paper an'the waterfall would do the grindin' . So he bought a mile o' forest an' built a mill, an'they do say things is hummin' up to the new settlement. There's more' n two hundred hands a-workin'there, a'ready."
"Goodness me! " cried Patsy; "this thing must have livened upsleepy old Millville considerably."
"Not yet, " said Hucks, shaking his head. "The comp' ny what owns the mill keeps a store there for the workmen, an' none of ' em come much to Millville. Our storekeepers is madder' n blazes about it; but fer my part I'm glad the two places is separated."
"Why? " asked Louise.
"They're a kinder tough lot, I guess. Turnin' pine trees inter paper mus' be a job that takes more muscle than brains. I don't see how it's done, at all."
"It's simple enough, " said Mr. Merrick. "First the wood is ground into pulp, and then the pulp is run through hot rollers, coming out paper. It's a mighty interesting process, so some day we will all go to Royal and see the paper made."
"But not just yet, Uncle, " remarked Patsy. "Let's have time to settle down on the farm and enjoy it. Oh, how glad I am to be back in this restful, sleepy, jumping-off-place of the world again! Isn't it delightful, Arthur Weldon? Did you ever breathe such ozony, delicious mountain air? And do you get the fragrance of the pine forests, and the—the—"
"The bumps? " asked Arthur, as the wagon gave a jolt a bit more emphatic than usual; "yes, Patsy dear, I get them all; but I won't pass judgment on Millville and Uncle John's farm just yet. Are we 'most there? "
"We're to have four whole months of it, " sighed Beth. "That ought to enable us to renew our youth, after the strenuouswinter."
"Rubbish! " said Uncle John. "You haven't known a strenuous moment, my dears, and you're all too young to need renewals, anyhow. But if you can find happiness here, my girls, our old farm will become a paradise."
These three nieces of Mr. Merrick were well worth looking at. Louise, the eldest, was now twenty—entirely too young to be a bride; but having decided to marry Arthur Weldon, the girl would brookno interference and, having a will of her own, overcame all opposition. Her tall, slender form was exceedingly graceful and willowy, her personality dainty and refined, her temperament under ordinary conditions essentially sweet and agreeable. In crises Louise developed considerable character, in strong contrast with her usual assumption of well-bredcomposure. That the girl was insincere in little things and cultivated a polishedmanner to conceal her real feelings, is undeniable; but in spite of this she might be relied upon to prove loyal and true in emergencies.
Patricia Doyle was more than two years the junior of her cousin Louise and very unlike her. Patsy's old father, Major Gregory Doyle, said "she wore her heart on her sleeve, " and the girl was frank and outspoken to a fault. Patsy had no "figure" to speak of, being somewhat dumpyin build, nor were her piquantfeatures at all beautiful. Her nose tipped at the end, her mouth was broad and full-lipped and her complexion badly freckled. But Patsy's hair was of that indescribable shade that hovers between burnished gold and sunset carmine."Fiery red"she was wont to describe it, and most people considered it, very justly, one of her two claims to distinction. Her other admirable feature was a pair of magnificent deep blue eyes—merry, mischievous and scintillating as diamonds. Few could resist those eyes, and certain it is that Patsy Doyle was a universal favorite and won friends without a particle of effort.