THE GREAT TERROR
It was on his fourteenth birthday that Keith Burton discovered the
Great Terror, though he did not know it by that name until some days
afterward. He knew only, to his surprise and distress, that the
"Treasure Island," given to him by his father for a birthday present,
was printed in type so blurred and poor that he could scarcely read
He said nothing, of course. In fact he shut the book very hastily,
with a quick, sidewise look, lest his father should see and notice the
imperfection of his gift.
Poor father! He would feel so bad after he had taken all that pains
and spent all that money--and for something not absolutely necessary,
too! And then to get cheated like that. For, of course, he had been
cheated--such horrid print that nobody could read.
But it was only a day or two later that Keith found some more horrid
print. This time it was in his father's weekly journal that came every
Saturday morning. He found it again that night in a magazine, and yet
again the next day in the Sunday newspaper.
Then, before he had evolved a satisfactory explanation in his own mind
of this phenomenon, he heard Susan Betts talking with Mrs. McGuire
over the back-yard fence.
Susan Betts began the conversation. But that was nothing strange:
Susan Betts always began the conversation.
"Have you heard about poor old Harrington?" she demanded in what Keith
called her "excitingest" voice. Then, as was always the case when she
spoke in that voice, she plunged on without waiting for a reply, as if
fearful lest her bit of news fall from the other pair of lips first.
"Well, he's blind--stone blind. He couldn't see a dollar bill--not if
you shook it right before his eyes."
"Sho! you don't say!" Mrs. McGuire dropped the wet sheet back into the
basket and came to the fence on her side concernedly. "Now, ain't that