Before evening it was seen that a
serious menace threatened the city.
Prof. Smithson of the Smithsonian
Institute, who was hastily called to
New York, was unable to identify the
weed, which had now spread through
out the whole of Manhattan. On
Tuesday morning men hacked their
way to work through miniature jungles.
(d Tuesay afternoon all work had
were held up by the weed. Girls,
screaming as the weed barred their
exit from factories and business of
' flees, had to be rescued by firemen
with hatchets. The seed dust filled
the air and everyone was ill with hay
The plant could not be classified ac
cording to any known genus. Prof.
Long of the Boston Observatory ad
vanced the theory that it had come
from one of the planets in a shower
of meteoric dust. The dry spell
did not affect its growth at all.
It did not require soil in which to
flourish. It was an epiphyte that is.
to say, like Spanish moss and the
pineapple plant, it nourished itself
Qn Wednesday morning a singular
phenomenon occurred which dis
quieted the entire nation. Hitherto
the plant had simply appeared to be
a species of rank, quickly seeding
grass. Now it began to put forth
flowers. And its huge trumpets, five
feet in diameter and lined with a
sticky exudation, stiff as cardboard
and incredibly prolific, not only
caught mice, rats and birds, but sent
forth tendrils, which, as if animated
by come diabolical intelligence,
caught at the arms and legs of those
(Q who ventured near them. All New
York presented the appearance of a
speckled, scarlet jungle, and the flags
of flowers waved triumphantly above
the highest buildings.
Everybody was fleeing from the
city. Panic was nearljr universal.
Only one man kept his head. That
was Prof. Sears of the weather bu
reau. "Within seven days the country will
be clear of the weed," he prophesied.
"Can you clear it?" he was asked.
"Not personally," heanswered. He
refused to say more than this. He
had once been scolded by the news
papers for predicting a hot spell on
the eve of a famous blizzard and It
had gotten on Ms nerves. This was
his revenge, "f
Holland, on a salary of 520 a week,
was engaged to be married. He knew
Sears slightly, as the weather man
was a cousin of his fiancee. He werit
to see Sears.
"Tell me the secret," he urged,
"and it'll be worth a fortune to me."
Sears took him by the arm. "Lis
ten, Will," he said, "I won't tell you
the secret but I will tell you some
thing. Can you scrape together
"Maud has $5,000," answered Hol
land, "but, of course I can't touch "
"Certainly you can touch it," an
swered Sears. "I give you my word
that within five days more the weed
"will have vanished. Prof. Long knows
why. Don't you see that real estate,
which has gone down to almost noth
ing, will shoot up like a rocket? I
can't invest in it myself, out of a
sense of propriety, but with $5,QQO I
can tell you of a company that will
issue you five shares and these will
go up from a thousand apiece to ten
times that sum the first day. There
are a lot of people in the deal, buying
up real estate."
Holland was convinced. The up
shot was that he went to Miss Maud
Armstrong and got her to withdraw
her investment, which he handed to
the president of the new company.
He was just in time, for on the fol
lowing day all business of any kind
was suspended. The weed had spread
up the banks of the Hudson and into
Long Island. The steady easterly
wind dissipated the seeds everywhere.
By the end of the first week. Chicago
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