So that was agreed upon and the secretary told to stop at the bank in the morning and get the necessary blanks for the company to fill in.
"What a heap of money the magazines must make," said Dot. "Just look at all the money we have already with no list."
"But you forget we have really no costs to pay at present so all that is paid in is profit. But the city publishers have heavy expenses to pay out of all their income," explained Mrs. Talmage.
"Uncle Ben says that hardly any magazine published could pay its expenses on the subscriptions only; it is the advertising that pays for the work," said Ned.
"We ought to get busy on our advertising, then," urged Jinks.
"If we don't we won't pay costs after all of these free donations of paper and postage are over," added Meredith.
"You boys practised that part of the work, so why don't you try and call upon some big firms and ask for contracts?" asked Dot.
"How do you know we practised?" questioned Ned, looking at the Blue Birds, who started giggling as they recalled the visit to the loft over the carriage house.
"Ho, didn't you?" insisted Dot.
"No one but we boys knew it--we kept the doors closed while we tried to see which one could do it best," replied Don.
"A little bird whispered it in our ears," teased Ruth.
"Say, Jinks! do you remember the time I heard those noises in the loft?"
The Bobolinks saw that the girls were laughing at them.
"I wonder when Mr. Richards will get that story printed in the papers--that will help so much!" sighed Betty.
"Don't be impatient, little girl," said Mrs. Talmage. "Remember, we have only just begun, and I think there have been marvelous steps taken."
"And when it once gets started, the subscription list will grow very rapidly," added Aunt Selina.
And so it proved. In a few weeks' time the letters containing checks and money orders for subscriptions reached such proportions that Mrs.
Talmage was distracted trying to attend properly to the clerical work.
Mr. Talmage saw that it was such tiresome application to detail that he telephoned Uncle Ben to send out a competent filing clerk; in a few days a nice young girl of about eighteen arrived and took charge of all the mail, and Mrs. Talmage heaved a deep sigh of relief.
Uncle Ben had made it a custom to visit his brother's family every week-end since the inception of the magazine, and one Sat.u.r.day he arrived unusually early--in time for lunch.
"Ned, can you call a meeting of the B. B. & B. B.'s at the Publishing House for two o'clock?" asked Uncle Ben.
"The Bobolinks will be there anyway, but I am not so sure about the Blue Birds," said Ned, looking at Ruth.
"We had something to talk over in the Winter Nest, but we can postpone it until afterward," said Ruth.
So at two o'clock all of the children were gathered about Uncle Ben to hear the news he had to tell them.
Uncle Ben made a great fuss clearing his throat as if in preparation for an oration, then took a packet of letters from his pocket.
"The sample issue of your magazine made such a stir in various publishing circles, that one of the officers of the Publishers'
a.s.sociation asked me Thursday night who was back of all this business that a lot of youngsters had started down at Oakdale.
"I didn't reply right away, and a man sitting near me said, 'Oh, some folks, probably, who have a smattering of how to do printing!'
"Some of my friends laughed hilariously, for they thought it a good joke on me, but the President of the a.s.sociation was not satisfied.
"'This is no amateurish work, Mackensie,' he said; 'here is a copy of the magazine and I tell you it can compete with any juvenile publication in the country. Why, man, the names of some of the contributors are familiar to me, for I know of offers made to induce these same writers to throw us morsels of their wisdom.'
"Then a friend of mine spoke.
"'This whole affair sounds very much like the pet hobby of a friend--he told me about it years ago.'
"The other men laughed at the explanation, but my friend looked at me and said, 'Talmage, what do _you_ know about it?'
"Then I said, 'My niece and nephew belong to the Blue Birds and Bobolinks that started the poor children's outing at Oakdale, last summer. They have become so interested in the work that they propose raising enough money this winter to take over a farm of a few thousand acres and send out hundreds of children for all of next summer.'
"'They what?' exclaimed every man present.
"'Say that again!' commanded the President, so I gladly told them the story in detail.
"Well, B. B. & B. B.'s--do you want to know the result of that meeting?"
The children shouted and begged to be told at once, so Uncle Ben continued with evident pleasure in the telling.
"Those great publishers talked for hours of ways and means in which to help along your good work. Some promised to interest prominent people they knew, and others offered to insert advertising cards in their own publications to tell about the magazine and its purpose. Almost every one of them offered to make special clubbing offers with their own magazines to induce readers to subscribe for yours.
"Now, these letters are the results of some of the promises already kept by these men. I will read them to you."
Uncle Ben then proceeded to read aloud the letters from prominent people and philanthropists who had responded to the call made by friends. They commended the interest shown by the younger generation and hoped the sympathetic work done for the sick and poverty-stricken little ones of the cities would win success. To this end a donation was inclosed.
As Uncle Ben read the last letter, he took from his wallet a package of checks and handed them over to Ned.
Ned saw the figure written on the face of the first check on top and held the package as if it were dangerous.
"Heigh, there, Ned, they aren't loaded, are they?" laughed Jinks.
"Read it off, Ned," urged the boys and girls.
"This top one is from the Cage Foundation and is for five hundred dollars--subscriptions to be sent to hospitals. The next one----" and Ned gasped again as he took up the second paper.
Uncle Ben laughed at his evident amazement.
"The second is from the Sarnegie Fund and is made out for a thousand dollars, subscriptions to be sent to homes and orphanages.
"And here's another for five hundred dollars from Harriet Rowld. Then there's--let me see! One--two--three--four--for a hundred dollars each for cripples' homes."
When Ned finished the children were too surprised to say a word, but Uncle Ben spoke for them.
"Well, Chicks--I mean Birds--you see that any time you grow weary of working out this scheme there will be no difficulty in selling the business for cash. Any wide-awake publisher will jump over the moon to get this magazine from you."
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