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The Clarion

18. Milly
All Hal's days now seemed filled with Pierce. Pierce's friends, dependents, employees,
associates wrote in, denouncing the "Clarion," canceling subscriptions, withdrawing
advertisements. Pierce's club, the Huron, compelled the abandonment of Mr. Harrington
Surtaine's candidacy. Pierce's clergyman bewailed the low and vindictive tone of modern
journalism. The Pierce newspapers kept harassing the "Clarion"; the Pierce banks evinced
their financial disapproval; the Pierce lawyers diligently sought new causes of offense
against the foe; while Pierce's mayor persecuted the newspaper office with further petty
enforcements and exactions. Pierce's daughter, however, fled the town. With her went
Miss Esmé Elliot. According to the society columns, including that of the "Clarion," they
were bound for a restful voyage on the Pierce yacht.
From time to time Editor Surtaine retaliated upon the foe, employing the news of the
slow progress of Miss Cleary, the nurse, to maintain interest in the topic. Protests
invariably followed, sometimes from sources which puzzled the "Clarion." One of the
protestants was Hugh Merritt, the young health officer of the city, who expressed his
views to McGuire Ellis one day.
"No," Ellis reported to his employer, on the interview, "he didn't exactly ask that we let
up entirely. But he seemed to think we were going too strong. I couldn't quite get his
reasons, except that he thought it was a terrible thing for the Pierce girl, and she so
young. Queer thing from Merritt. They don't make 'em any straighter than he is."
Alone of the lot of protests, that of Mrs. Festus Willard gained a response from Hal.
"You're treating her very harshly, Hal."
"We're giving the facts, Lady Jinny."
"Are they the facts? All the facts?"
"So far as human eyes could see them."
"Men's eyes don't see very far where a woman is concerned. She's very young and
headstrong, and, Hal, she hasn't had much chance, you know. She's Elias Pierce's
daughter."
"Thus having every chance, one would suppose."
"Every chance of having everything. Very little chance of being anything."
There was a pause. Then: "Very well, Hal, I know I can trust you to do what you believe
right, at least. That's a good deal. Festus tells me to let you alone. He says that you must
 
 
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