27. CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN
"Prime, isn't it?" asked the boy, as her eye went down the last
paragraph of her portion.
"I think you and I could do as well as that if we tried,"
returned Jo, amused at his admiration of the trash.
"I should think I was a pretty lucky chap if I could. She makes
a good living out of such stories, they say." And he pointed to the
name of Mrs. S.L.A.N.G. Northbury, under the title of the tale.
"Do you know her?" asked Jo, with sudden interest.
"No, but I read all her pieces, and I know a fellow who works in
the office where this paper is printed."
"Do you say she makes a good living out of stories like this?"
And Jo looked more respectfully at the agitated group and thickly
sprinkled exclamation points that adorned the page.
"Guess she does! She knows just what folks like, and gets paid
well for writing it."
Here the lecture began, but Jo heard very little of it, for while
Professor Sands was prosing away about Belzoni, Cheops, scarabei, and
hieroglyphics, she was covertly taking down the address of the paper,
and boldly resolving to try for the hundred-dollar prize offered in
its columns for a sensational story. By the time the lecture ended
and the audience awoke, she had built up a splendid fortune for herself
(not the first founded on paper), and was already deep in the
concoction of her story, being unable to decide whether the duel
should come before the elopement or after the murder.
She said nothing of her plan at home, but fell to work next day,
much to the disquiet of her mother, who always looked a little anxious
when `genius took to burning'. Jo had never tried this style before,
contenting herself with very mild romances for THE SPREAD EAGLE. Her
experience and miscellaneous reading were of service now, for they
gave her some idea of dramatic effect, and supplied plot, language,
and costumes. Her story was as full of desperation and despair as her
limited acquaintance with those uncomfortable emotions enabled her to
make it, and having located it in Lisbon, she wound up with an earthquake,
as a striking and appropriate denouement. The manuscript was
privately dispatched, accompanied by a note, modestly saying that if
the tale didn't get the prize, which the writer hardly dared expect,
she would be very glad to receive any sum it might be considered worth.