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THE VISION SPLENDID (chapter18,part4)

2006-08-28 23:39

    PART 4

    Dunn was sitting in the smoking room writing his story of the

    kidnapping when a ruddy young Englishman stopped opposite him. "You're Mr. Dunn, are you not? Reporter for the _World?_" "Yes." The newspaper man looked him over with a swift, trained

    attention. "A young lady would like to see you for a few minutes. She is

    interested in this shanghaing of Mr. Farnum." Dunn's black gimlet eyes searched Beauchamp's face. "All right. Glad to see her." Dunn's story was being transferred to his

    pocket as he rose.

    He followed his guide to the ladies' writing room. A slender young woman was standing in front of the bookcase. She turned as they entered. Beauchamp introduced the reporter to her, but Dunn failed to catch the name of this rather remarkable looking young lady.

    "You are to write the story of Mr. Farnum's adventure?" she asked.The reporter's eyes narrowed very slightly. "What story?""The account of the shanghaing. Oh, I know all about it. Have you all

    the facts?" "I'll be glad to hear what you know, Miss——" She answered his hesitation by mentioning her name. Dunn grew more wary. "Miss Alice Frome, daughter of Senator

    Frome?" "Yes." "Anything you have to say I'll be pleased to hear, Miss Frome."

    To his surprise she broke through the hedge of reserve he had withdrawn behind.

    "You distrust me. You think because I'm Senator Frome's daughter that I must be against Mr. Farnum. Is that it?"

    "I didn't say that," he sparred.

    "I'm not against him. It's because I'm anxious to see him win that I want to be sure he has given you the whole story."

    "Why shouldn't he give me the whole story?"

    "Because he isn't the kind to boast. Did he tell you about the sharks?"

    "Or how Miss Frome helped pull him aboard just in time to save him from the crimps?"

    The reporter's eyes gleamed. "What's that?" he snapped quickly.

    "And all about the race from the schooner to the _Bellingham,_ It was the most exciting thing I ever saw."

    "Great guns! What's the matter with Jeff Farnum? He didn't say a word about that——missed the cream of the story."

    Alice smiled. "I thought perhaps he might have."

    "He said he saw a chance to swim across to the _Bellingham._ That made a pretty good story. But sharks——and the shanghaiers chasing him-and a young lady helping to haul him aboard to safety——and that young lady Miss Alice Frome! Say, this is the biggest story that ever broke in Verden. If I fall down on it I'm a dead one sure enough."

    "You think it will help Mr. Farnum's fight for his bill?"

    "Help it. Say, I'd give fifty dollars to see James K. Farnum's face when he reads the _World_ tomorrow morning. The town will go right up in the air. Hundreds of telegrams are going to pour in to members of the assembly from their constituents. We'll make a Yale finish of this yet."

    "It's lucky Miss Frome recognized Mr. Farnum. Otherwise I suppose he would have been sent back to the _Nancy Hanks_ ."

    "Oh, Miss Frome recognized him? Jeff said one of the passengers did. He couldn't remember who."

    "I don't suppose my name is necessary to the story. Just say a young woman on board," Alice suggested.

    Dunn's black eyes questioned her. "Are you for us, Miss Frome?"

    She smiled. "I'm for you."

    "Against Senator Frome and Mr. Powers?"

    "I think the bill ought to be passed. I'm not against anybody."

    "Well, I'll tell you this. It will help the story a lot to have you in it. Some people might say we framed the whole thing up. But with Senator Frome's daughter starring in it."

    "Oh, no, Mr. Farnum's the star."

    "Well, you're the leading lady. Don't you see how it helps? Clinches the whole thing as genuine. It's as good as putting the Senator himself on the stand as a witness for us. We've just got to have you."

    "It will really help, you think?"

    "No question."

    "Very well."

    "And photographs. You'll stand for one, of course."

    "Now really I don't see "

    "They can't get back of a photograph. It carries conviction. Of course we've got pictures of you at the office, Miss Frome. But I want to play fair with you. Besides, I want them to show the ship setting."

    She laughed. "Don't worry. Your enterprising photographer caught me twice before I knew it. And he got one of my cousin, Mrs. Van Tyle. She doesn't know it, though."

    "Good boy, Quillen. Now, if you'll begin at the beginning, Miss Frome, I'll listen to your story.

    When she had finished his eyes were gleaming. "It's the biggest scoop I ever got in on. Sounds too good to be true."

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