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Mrs Jones Dictates Terms







From: Doctor Jones' Picnic

Several months have passed since the meeting recorded in our last
chapter. The enthusiasm of the three men (for Marsh was now a member of
the company) increased as the days went by. A considerable amount of
canvassing had been done among the moneyed men of the community, but
with no success. No one could be found who was willing to risk any
considerable amount of wealth in an enterprise whose outcome was so
problematical. Fame is all well enough, but there is very little
sentiment about capital.

After many consultations by the three, it was agreed that nothing
further could be done at home, and the next move would be a trip to
Washington. The idea of building a model was abandoned, as the beautiful
drawings and paintings of the architect completely obviated its
necessity.

The Doctor had said but little to Mrs. Jones upon the subject that lay
nearest his heart since the time recorded in our last chapter. Though he
went about his professional duties as usual, yet that astute little lady
thoroughly understood that he was far from laying aside this great
ambition of his life. And she also realized that a crisis was
approaching when quick, sharp work must be done, and she had determined
what she should do.

The Doctor, meantime, furtively watched day by day the lovely face of
his wife. But he might as well have spent the same time studying the
face of the Sphynx. He could not decide whether she was acting a part
most beautifully, or had dropped the matter as settled. It cost her a
great struggle to keep from smiling as she looked into his troubled
eyes, and at times would be obliged to put her handkerchief to her mouth
to keep back the smiles that dimpled about its corners. She knew that
the crisis was at hand, and so persevered in her part; and, better than
all, she knew that she should come off victor.

All things were ripe for the assault upon the Government board of
science.

"Meet at my house to-night, gentlemen," said the Doctor. "My
arrangements are all made, and I could start to-morrow morning if my
wife would consent. I feel more concerned about getting her acquiescence
than I do about getting the Government interested. I really fear that
she is like Sambo's mule: 'When he so quiet an' still like, yo' look
out! He templatin' trouble den, shuah!' There's something up, and I must
have it out with her to-night; and I want you to stand in and say all
you can to help me out. We must convince her that there is not nearly so
much danger in our globe as there is aboard a train of cars or a
steamship."

So that evening in the dining-room, and upon the same table, Marsh
spread the drawings and specifications that represented the smallest
detail connected with the construction of the globe. Mrs. Jones entered
into the conversation, made suggestions as to the furnishing of food,
bedding, furniture, etc., until the three men winked and grinned slyly
at one another, delighted to see the interest she displayed.

"Now, Maggie, I am sure that you cannot see any element of danger in
this trip," said the Doctor, fixing his eyes upon her very anxiously. To
his surprise and delight she unhesitatingly said:

"No, I do not see why it should be at all dangerous."

"That's my brave little wife!" shouted Dr. Jones, catching her in his
arms and kissing her upon both cheeks. "What an old lunkhead I have been
all this time! Why, Maggie, do you know that I have been terribly
worried lest you should prove foolish and obstinate and would do all you
could to prevent my going?"

"I knew it all the time," she replied.

"Just listen to the demure little sinner! Knew that I was worrying all
this time and never let me see that she understood me at all! What a
little hypocrite you are! But I forgive you, since you are so
reasonable."

"But my dear hubby, do not jump at conclusions. There is a condition
connected with my consent."

"And it is granted now, my dear. What is it?"

"Oh, it is a real easy one!"

"I am sure of that, dear Maggie, for you are the most reasonable woman
alive. Isn't she, gentlemen?"

Of course the conspirators loudly assented.

"That is very nice of you, gentlemen," said she, bowing gracefully to
them, "but I know about how much allowance to make for 'soft soap' in
this case."

"But what is the condition, Maggie?" asked Dr. Jones.

"I go with you."

"To Washington? Certainly you shall, honey."

"I go with you in the globe, to the North Pole, or any other place the
wind may blow us."

"You--what!"

"I have said it."

The Doctor dropped into a chair with a groan. "I knew it! I knew she
meant mischief all the time."

"But my dear woman," cried he, jumping from his chair again, "don't you
see the utter impossibility of your going on so hard and perilous a
voyage? You could never endure it in the world."

"Hardships and perils, indeed!" said she mischievously. "Haven't you
said over and over in my presence that this was simply a beautiful
picnic trip and perfectly safe?"

"Well--er--er," stammered the Doctor, "but, Maggie, it would be no place
for a woman, you know."

"I beg your pardon, sir, but I do not know anything of the kind. Do you
suppose that I have sat here all these months listening to you men talk
of this scheme without becoming a convert to your theories? No, Doctor,
I am as enthusiastic as any of you in this matter. The North Pole fever
is like the measles, very contagious, and I have a severe attack of it.
Now you have all agreed that I am the most reasonable woman living, and
you cannot accuse me of being unreasonable simply because I wish to go
with you on this safe, comfortable and perfectly beautiful picnic
excursion."

This turn of affairs was so complete a surprise to the three men that
they sat silent with consternation for a few moments.

"Come to think of it, gentlemen, I am pleased for one that Mrs. Jones
wishes to accompany us. Why should she not?" said Marsh.

Mrs. Jones beamed upon him so warmly that he blushed to his ears.

"One vote for me," she gayly exclaimed. "Now, Mr. Denison, on the score
of old friendship, I claim your franchise."

"And you have it, my dear madam," cried Denison. "Yours for the North
Pole, Mrs. Jones."

She gave a hand to each of her coadjutors, and turning to Dr. Jones,
said: "Don't you see what a splendid lobbyist I am, Doctor? You will
need me when you get to Washington."

The Doctor's face was a study. At length he said: "Woman is the most
unaccountable creature in the universe. I expected to-night to have made
the plea of my life, and I declare for it, if she hasn't turned the
tables completely upon me, and actually stands there imploring to go
with us, instead of going into hysterics and making no end of
opposition. Well, honey," putting his arm about her waist, "I took you
for better or worse, but I did not expect to take you to the North Pole.
I yield to the inevitable, gentlemen. Allow me to introduce you to No.
4, North Pole Aluminum Globe Co."





Next: The Government Joins The Picnickers

Previous: Mrs Jones Offers Some Objections



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