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Title: The Cat in Grandfather's House
Author: Grabo, Carl Henry
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Cat in Grandfather's House" ***

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Transcriber's note:

      Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.

      Dialect spellings, contractions and discrepancies have been
      retained.



THE CAT IN GRANDFATHER'S HOUSE

by

CARL GRABO

Illustrated by M. F. Iserman



[Illustration: In a strange house anything might happen.]



Chicago    New York
Laidlaw Brothers

Copyright, 1929
by Laidlaw Brothers
Incorporated
All rights reserved

Printed in U.S.A.



_PUBLISHER'S NOTE_


_It is peculiarly fitting in this day of delightful juveniles that an
author of many books on the technique of writing should turn his pen to
the writing of this child's book._

_Carl Grabo, with whose name "The Art of the Short Story" is at once
associated, has written this whimsical and imaginative tale of Hortense
and the Cat. Antique furniture, literally stuffed with personality,
hurries about in the dim moonlight in order to help Hortense through a
thrillingly strange campaign against a sinister Cat and a villainous
Grater. The book offers rare humor, irresistible alike to grown-ups and
children._

_It is a book that will stimulate the imagination of the most prosaic
child--or at least give it exercise! Wonder, the most fertile awakener
of intelligence, and vision are closely akin to imagination, and both
are greatly needed in this work-a-day world._

_Each reader, a child at heart be he seven or seventy, will bubble
with the glee of childhood at all its quaint imaginings. They are so
real that they seem to be true._



TABLE OF CONTENTS


Chapter                                                  Page

   I. "... going to the big house to live"                  9

  II. "And the darker the room grew, the more it
         seemed alive"                                     20

 III. "They could hear the soft pat-pat of padded
         feet in the hall"                                 31

  IV. "Highboy, and Lowboy, and Owl, and the Firedogs
         come out at night"                                48

   V. "Jeremiah's disappeared again"                       60

  VI. "I'll have the charm
      That saves from harm"                                74

 VII. "... there should be Little People up the
         mountain yonder"                                  93

VIII. "The sky was lemon colored, and the trees
         were dark red"                                   109

  IX. "Tell us a story about a hoodoo, Uncle Jonah"       128

   X. "Ride, ride, ride
      For the world is fair and wide"                     134

 XI. "... take us to the rock on the mountain
         side where the Little People dance"              145

 XII. "There are queer doings in this house"              169

XIII. "This is what was inside"                           186



CHAPTER I

"_... going to the big house to live._"


Hortense's father put the letter back into its envelope and handed it
across the table to her mother.

"I hadn't expected anything of the kind," he said, "but it makes the
plan possible provided----"

Hortense knew very well what Papa and Mamma were talking about, for she
was ten years old and as smart as most girls and boys of that age. But
she went on eating her breakfast and pretending not to hear. Papa and
Mamma were going a long way off to Australia, provided Grandmother and
Grandfather would care for Hortense in their absence. So Mamma had
written, and this was the answer.

"Would you like to stay with Grandfather and Grandmother while Papa and
Mamma are away?" her mother asked.

Hortense would like it very much, for she had never been in her
grandfather's house. Grandfather and Grandmother had always visited her
at Christmas and other times, and she had imagined wonderful stories of
the house that she had never seen. All her father would tell of it when
she asked him was that it was large and old-fashioned. Once only she
had heard him say to her mother, "It would be a strange house for a
child."

Strange houses were her delight. In a strange house anything might
happen. Always in fairy tales and wonder stories, the houses were
deliriously strange.

So when her mother asked her the question, Hortense answered promptly,
"Yes, ma'm."

"I'm afraid you'll have no one to play with," Mamma said, "but there
will be nice books to read and a large yard to enjoy. Besides, the
house itself is very unusual. If you were an imaginative child it might
be a little--but then you aren't imaginative."

"Yes, ma'm," said Hortense.

She supposed Mamma was right. If she were really imaginative, no doubt
she would have seen a fairy long ago. But though she looked in every
likely spot, never had she seen any except once, and that time she
wasn't sure.

"My little girl is sensible and not likely to be easily frightened at
any unusual or strange--," her father began.

"I shouldn't, Henry," Mamma interrupted swiftly.

"No, perhaps not," Papa agreed.

No more was said, but Hortense knew very well that going to
Grandfather's house would be a grand and delightful adventure and that
almost anything might happen, provided she were imaginative enough. She
reread all her fairy tales by way of preparation, and her dreams grew
so exciting that at times she was sorry to wake up in the morning.

Meanwhile, Papa and Mamma were busy packing and putting things away in
closets. Finally the day came when Hortense kissed her mamma good-by
and cried a little, and Papa took her to the station and, after talking
to the conductor, put her on the train.

The conductor said he would take good care that Hortense got off at the
right station; then Papa found a seat for her by a window, put her
trunk check in her purse and her box of lunch and her handbag beside
her, kissed her good-by, and told her to be a brave girl.

He stood outside her window until the train started; then he waved his
hand, and Hortense saw him no more. However, she felt sad only for a
minute or two, for he was going to Australia and was going to bring her
something very interesting, possibly a kangaroo. She had asked for a
kangaroo, and Papa had shaken his head doubtfully and said he'd see.
But Papa always did that to make the surprise greater.

It was an interesting trip, and Hortense wasn't tired a bit. The
conductor came in several times and asked her many questions about her
grandfather and her grandmother. He also told her about his own little
girl who was just Hortense's age and a wonder at fractions.

When it was time for lunch, the porter brought her a little table upon
which she spread the contents of her box, and she had a pleasant
luncheon party with an imaginary little boy named Henry. It was all the
nicer because she had to eat all Henry's sandwiches and cookies,
whereas, if Henry had been a real little boy, he would have eaten them
all himself and probably some of hers, too.

After luncheon, the train went more slowly as it climbed into the
mountains, and all the rest of the way Hortense looked out of the
window. She had never seen big mountains before. Then, about four
o'clock in the afternoon, the conductor came and told her to get ready.
When the train stopped, he helped her off, called, "All aboard" (though
there was nobody to get on), and the train drew away and disappeared.

Hortense was all alone, and there was nobody resembling her grandfather,
or her grandfather's old coachman, to meet her. She felt very lonesome
until a man with a bright metal plate on his cap, which read _Station
Agent_, came to her and asked her name and where she belonged.

"So you're Mr. Douglas' granddaughter," said he, "and are going to the
big house to live. Well, well! I guess Uncle Jonah will be along pretty
soon."

Hortense went with him and looked up the long street of the little
town. The station agent shaded his eyes with his hand.

"I guess that's Uncle Jonah now," said he, and Hortense saw an
old-fashioned surrey with a fringed top drawn by two very fat black
horses. They were very lazy horses, and it seemed a long time before
they drew up at the station and Uncle Jonah climbed painfully out.

Uncle Jonah was very old and black, and his hair was white and kinky.

"Yo's Miss Hortense, isn't yo'?" he asked. "I come fo' to git yo'. I'se
kinda' late 'cause Tom an' Jerry, dey jes' sa'ntered along."

The station agent and Uncle Jonah lifted Hortense's steamer trunk into
the back seat of the surrey, and with Hortense sitting beside Uncle
Jonah, off they went.

"She'd better look out for ghosts up at the big house, hadn't she,
Uncle Jonah?" the station agent called after them.

Uncle Jonah grunted.

"Are there ghosts at Grandfather's house?" Hortense asked, feeling a
delightful shiver up her back.

"'Cose not," said Uncle Jonah uneasily. "Dat's jes' his foolishness."

"I'd like to see a ghost," said Hortense.

Uncle Jonah stared at her.

"Me, I don' mix up wid no ha'nts," said he. "When I hears 'em rampagin'
'roun' at night, I pulls de kivers up an' shuts mah eyes tight."

"What do they sound like, Uncle Jonah?" Hortense asked breathlessly.

But Uncle Jonah would not answer. Instead he clucked to the horses, and
not another word could Hortense get from him for a long time. They
drove through the little town and out into the country toward the
mountains.

"Is the house right among the mountains?" Hortense asked at last.

"It sho' is," said Uncle Jonah, "De's a mount'in slap in de back yard."

"Goody," said Hortense. "I like mountains."

"Dey's powahful oncomfo'table," grumbled Uncle Jonah.

He stopped the horses on the top of a little hill and pointed with his
whip.

"De's de house," he said, "dat big one wid de cupalo."

Hortense looked as directed. Below them, at the foot of a steep
mountain, was a tall house with a cupola. It was three stories high,
old-fashioned, and had high shuttered windows. The cupola attracted
Hortense particularly. She thought she would like to sit high inside
and look through the little windows. One could see ever so far and
could pretend one were in a lighthouse or on the mast on a ship.

Tom and Jerry walked slowly down the long hill. At its foot was a
little house surrounded by a low hedge. A boy of about Hortense's age
was playing in the yard. He stopped and stared at Hortense as she
passed, and Hortense stared back. Then the boy did a handspring and
waved his hand.

"What's that boy's name?" Hortense asked.

Uncle Jonah raised his eyes.

"Good fo' nothin'," muttered Uncle Jonah. "Ef I catches him in my
o'cha'd ag'in, I'll lambaste him good."

"He looks like a nice boy," said Hortense.

"Dey ain't no nice boys," said Uncle Jonah. "Dey all needs a lickin'."

Tom and Jerry turned in at a graveled driveway and trotted through a
large lawn set with big trees and clumps of shrubbery. They stopped
before the big house, and Uncle Jonah and Hortense got down. The wide
door opened, and there stood Grandmother in her white lace cap and
black silk dress, as always.

Hortense ran up the steps and kissed her. Grandmother was little, with
white hair and bright eyes. They entered the old-fashioned hallway
together, and Hortense knew at once that the house would be all that
she had hoped.

The hall was dark, and old-fashioned furniture sat along the walls. A
spidery staircase with dark wood bannisters rose steeply from one side
and wound away out of sight. At the far end of the hall was a great
friendly grandfather's clock with a broad round face.

"Tick-tock, tick-tock," said the clock in a deep mellow voice. Hortense
thought he said, "Welcome, welcome," and was sure he winked at her.

"I must make him talk to me," thought Hortense. "He seems a very wise
old clock. How many interesting things he must know."

A middle-aged woman with a kind face came to meet them.

"Mary, this is my little granddaughter," said Grandmother; and to
Hortense, "Mary will take care of you and show you your room. When you
have taken your things off, come downstairs and we will have tea."

Hortense followed Mary up the steep, winding stairs to the second
floor. Mary opened one of the many doors of the long hallway, and
Hortense followed her into a large old-fashioned room with a great
four-poster bed. It was a corner room. Through the windows on one side
Hortense could look out over the orchard slope that ran down to the
brook. Beyond the brook rose a shadowy mountain whose side was so steep
that trees could hardly find a foothold among the rocks. On the other
side of the room, the windows opened upon the lawn bordered by a hedge.
Beyond the hedge was the little house in front of which Hortense had
seen the boy, but he was no longer playing in the yard.

A big man carried up Hortense's trunk and placed it in the corner. He
had bright blue eyes. Mary introduced him to Hortense.

"This is my husband, Fergus," said she. "We live in the little house
beyond the orchard. You must come to see us sometime and have tea. My
husband will tell you stories of the Little People."

"The Little People are fairies, aren't they, who live in Ireland?" said
Hortense, remembering her fairy tales.

"Not only in Ireland," said Fergus, "but everywhere in woods and
mountains. Do you see that dark place in the rocks halfway up the
mountain?"

Hortense looked as directed and thought she saw the place.

"That's the mouth of a cave that goes into the mountain, nobody knows
how far," said Fergus. "It is certain that the Little People must live
in there."

His eyes twinkled, but his face was quite serious.

"Really?" Hortense asked.

"I've not seen them," said Fergus, "but my eyes are older than yours. I
do not doubt that you will see them dancing on moonlight nights."

Meanwhile, Mary had been unpacking the trunk and laying Hortense's
things away in the drawers of a great bureau.

"Now we will go down and have tea," said Mary. "Let me brush your hair
a bit."

After this was done, they went downstairs again, passed the big clock
that winked and said, "Tick-tock, hello," and entered a sunny room
where Grandmother sat in her easy chair.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER II

"_And the darker the room grew, the more it seemed alive._"


In Grandmother's room there were tall south windows reaching nearly to
the ceiling. It must have been bright with sunshine in midday, but it
was nearly evening now and the lower halves of the windows were closed
with white shutters, which gave the room a very cosy appearance. In the
white marble fireplace a cheerful fire was burning, and above it on the
mantel was a large stuffed owl as white as the marble on which he was
perched. He seemed quite alive and very wise, his great yellow eyes
shining in the firelight. Hortense glanced at him now and then, and
always his bright eyes seemed fixed upon her.

"I believe he could talk if he would," thought Hortense. "Sometime when
we're alone, I'll ask him if he can't."

"Now, if you'll call your grandfather, we'll have tea," said
Grandmother. "He's in his library in the next room."

Hortense ran to do as she was told. The library was walled with books,
thousands of them, and near a window Grandfather sat at a big desk,
busily writing. He looked up when Hortense entered, and laid down his
pen to take her on his knee.

Grandfather had white hair, and bushy white eyebrows over piercing dark
eyes. Hortense had always thought him very handsome, particularly when
he walked, for he was tall and very straight. She thought he must look
like a Sultan or Indian Rajah, such as is told of in the _Arabian
Nights_, for his skin was dark, and when he told her stories of his
youth and his wanderings about the earth, she wondered if he weren't
really some foreign prince merely pretending to be her grandfather. He
had been in many strange places in India, Africa, and the South Seas,
and when he chose, he could tell wonderful stories of his adventures.

While Grandfather held her on his lap, Hortense gazed at a strange
bronze figure which stood on a stone pedestal beside his desk. It was a
bronze image such as Hortense had seen pictured in books--some sort of
an idol, she thought. The figure sat cross-legged like a tailor and in
one hand held what seemed to be a bronze water lily. Hortense had never
seen an image or statue that seemed so calm, as though thinking deep
thoughts which it would never trouble to express.

"What a funny little man," said Hortense.

Grandfather looked gravely at the bronze figure.

"That is an image of Buddha, the Indian god," he said. "Perhaps after
dinner I'll tell you a story about him."

He lifted Hortense from his knee and, taking her by the hand, went into
Grandmother's room.

Mary had brought in the tea wagon, which Hortense thought looked like a
dwarf. Indeed, all the furniture seemed curiously alive, as though it
could talk if it would. In the corner was a lowboy. With the firelight
falling on its polished surface and on the bright brass handles to its
drawers, it seemed to make a fat smiling face, as of a good-humored
boy.

"What a jolly face," Hortense thought. "He'd be good fun to play with,
I'm sure."

She ate her toast and cake while Grandfather and Grandmother talked
together in the twilight. And the darker the room grew, the more it
seemed alive.

"I believe all these things are talking," said Hortense to herself.
"Now, if I could only hear! Perhaps if I had an ear trumpet or
something----"

As she was thinking thus, a great tortoise-shell cat walked calmly in,
seated himself on the hearth-rug, and stared into the fire. It seemed
to Hortense that the flredogs fairly leaped out at him, but the cat
only gazed placidly at them.

"He knows they can't get at him," thought Hortense, "and he's saying
something to make them mad."

Grandfather and Grandmother were talking in a low tone, and Hortense
suddenly found herself listening to them with interest.

"Uncle Jonah says it's a 'ha'nt,'" Grandfather was saying with a smile.
"He and Esmerelda are afraid and want me to fix up the rooms over the
stable."

"What nonsense!" Grandmother exclaimed sharply.

"But there is something odd about the house, you know," said
Grandfather.

"I believe that you think it's a ghost yourself, Keith," said
Grandmother, looking keenly at him.

"I've always wanted to see a ghost," admitted Grandfather, "but I've
had no luck. Why shouldn't there be ghosts? All simple peoples believe
in them."

"Remember Hortense," Grandmother said in a low voice.

"To be sure," Grandfather answered, looking quickly at Hortense.

Hortense heard with all her ears, but her eyes were upon the cat. The
cat sat with a smile on his face and one ear cocked. Once he looked at
Grandfather and laughed, noiselessly.

"The cat understands every word!" Hortense said to herself with
conviction. She began to be a little afraid of the cat, for she felt
that everything in the room disliked him. The lowboy no longer smiled
but looked rather solemn and foolish. The chairs stood stiffly, as
though offended at his presence. The white owl glared fiercely with his
yellow eyes, and the firedogs fairly snapped their teeth.

But the cat did not mind. He lay on the hearthrug and grinned at them
all. Then he rolled over on his back, waved his paws in the air, and
whipped his long tail.

"He's laughing at them!" said Hortense to herself. "And he knows all
about the 'ha'nt,' whatever that is!"

Mary came to remove the tea wagon, which Hortense decided was really
good at heart but surly and tart of temper because of his deformity.
The brass teakettle looked to be good-tempered but unreliable.

"There's something catlike about a teakettle," Hortense reflected. "It
likes to sit in a warm place and purr. And it likes any one who will
give it what it wants. Its love is cupboard love."

"Dinner isn't until seven," said Grandmother, "so perhaps you'd like to
go to the kitchen and see Esmerelda, the cook, Uncle Jonah's wife. If
you are nice to her, it will mean cookies and all sorts of good
things."

Hortense thought, "If I'm nice to Esmerelda just to get cookies, I'll
be no better than the cat and the teakettle; so I hope I can like her
for herself." Nevertheless, it would be nice to have cookies, too.

"Isn't this an awfully big house?" said Hortense to Mary as they went
down a long dark passage.

"Much too big," said Mary. "I spend my days cleaning rooms that are
never used. There's the whole third floor of bedrooms, not one of which
has been slept in for years. Then there are the parlors, and many
closets full of things that have to be aired, and sunned, and kept from
moths."

"May I go with you, Mary, when you clean?" Hortense asked. "I'll help
if I can."

"Sure you may," said Mary kindly. "I'll be glad to have you. You'll be
company. Some of those dark closets, and the bedrooms with sheeted
chairs and things give me the creeps. An old house and old unused rooms
are eerie-like. Sometimes I can almost hear whispers, and sighs, and
things talking."

"I know," said Hortense. "Everything talks--chairs, and tables, and
bureaus, and everything. Only I can never hear just what it is they
say. Do you think they move sometimes at night?"

"I'll never look to see," said Mary piously. "At night I stay in my own
little house, where everything is quiet and homelike and there are no
queer things about."

Hortense shivered delightfully. Perhaps she would see and hear the
queer things, and even see the "ha'nt" of which Grandfather had spoken.

The kitchen was a large comfortable place. A bright fire was burning in
the range. Shining pans hung on the wall, and Aunt Esmerelda, large,
fat, and friendly, with a white handkerchief tied over her head, moved
slowly among them.

Aunt Esmerelda put her hands on her hips and looked down at Hortense.

"Yo's the spittin' image of yo' ma, honey," said Aunt Esmerelda. "Does
yo' like ginger cookies?"

[Illustration: "Yo's the spittin' image of yo' ma, honey," said Aunt
Esmerelda.]

Hortense doted on ginger cookies.

"De's de jar," said Aunt Esmerelda, pointing to a big crock on the
pantry shelf. "Whenevah yo's hongry, jes' yo' he'p yo'se'f."

Hortense sat on a chair in the corner, out of the way, and watched Aunt
Esmerelda cook.

"What was the thing you and Uncle Jonah heard?" she asked at last
abruptly.

"Wha's dat?" Aunt Esmerelda said, dropping a saucepan with a clatter.
"Who tole you 'bout dat?"

"I heard Grandpa talking to Grandma about it," said Hortense.

"It wan't nothin'?" said Esmerelda uneasily. "Don' yo' go 'citin'
yo'se'f 'bout dat. Jes' foolishness."

"But if there is a 'ha'nt' in the house, I want to see it," Hortense
persisted.

Aunt Esmerelda stared at her with big eyes.

"Who all said anythin' 'bout dis yere ha'nt? I ain't never heard of no
ha'nt."

"When you hear it again, please wake me up if I'm asleep," said
Hortense.

"Heavens, I don' get outa' mah bed w'en I hears nothin'," said Aunt
Esmerelda. "Not by no means. E'n if yo' hears anythin', jes' yo' shut
yo' eahs and pull the kivers ovah yo' head. Den dey don' git yo'."

But Hortense felt quite brave by the bright kitchen fire. She sat very
quietly and watched Aunt Esmerelda at work. The kitchen was filled with
bright friendly things--shining pans and spoons, a squat, fat milk jug
with a smiling face, a rolling pin that looked very stupid, an egg
beater that surely must get as dizzy as a whirling dervish turning
round and round very fast--probably quite a scatterbrain, Hortense
thought.

"What is that, Aunt Esmerelda?" Hortense asked, pointing to a bright
rounded utensil hanging above the kitchen table.

Aunt Esmerelda looked.

"Dat's a grater, chile. I grates cheese an' potatoes an' cabbage an'
things wid dat."

She took down the grater.

"On dis side it grates things small and on dis side big."

She hung it in its place again.

"It looks wicked to me," said Hortense. "I shouldn't like to meet it
wandering around the house at night."

"Laws, chile, how yo' talks," Aunt Esmerelda exclaimed startled. "Yo'
gives me de fidgets. Wheh yo' git ideas like dat?"

"Things look that way," said Hortense. "Some look friendly and some
unfriendly. There's the cat and the teakettle. They aren't friendly.
They say all sorts of sly things. Sometime I'm going to hear what they
are. The grater would run after you and scrape you on his sharp sides
if he could."

Aunt Esmerelda shook her head uneasily. From time to time she stared at
Hortense.

"Yo's a curyus chile," she muttered. "I don' know what yo' ma means
a-bringin' yo' up disaway, scaihin' po' ole Aunt Esmerelda. Lan's
sakes, if I ain't done forgit de pertatahs! An' dey's all in de
stoh'room!"

"Where's that?" Hortense asked much interested.

"In de basement," said Aunt Esmerelda, "an' it's powahful dark down
deh."

"I'll go with you," said Hortense eagerly. "I'd like to see it."

Aunt Esmerelda lighted a candle and, taking a large pan, opened the
door leading to the basement.

It was a large basement, and the candle was not sufficient to light its
more remote corners. They passed a huge dark furnace with its arms
stretching out on all sides like a spider's legs. In front of it was a
coal bin, large and black.

Aunt Esmerelda opened the door of the storeroom. Within were barrels
and boxes, and hanging shelves laden with row upon row of preserves in
jars and regiments of jelly glasses, each with its paper top and its
white label.

Aunt Esmerelda filled her pan with potatoes from the barrel and led the
way from the storeroom. Closing the door, she led the way back
upstairs.

A sudden noise of something falling and of little scurrying feet led
her to stop abruptly. Hortense drew close to her. Aunt Esmerelda was
shaking, and by the light of the candle Hortense could see the whites
of her eyes gleaming as she looked all about her.

They started again for the cellar stairs. When they had reached the
furnace, a sudden gust of wind blew out the candle. In a far corner of
the cellar something rattled.

Aunt Esmerelda started to run, and Hortense ran after her. A faint
light from the kitchen shone on the head of the cellar stairs. Aunt
Esmerelda hurried up the stairs, panting, with Hortense at her heels.
At the top Aunt Esmerelda slammed and bolted the door; then she sank
into a chair and mopped her perspiring face.

"Do you think it was the 'ha'nt'?" Hortense asked much excited.

"Don' speak to me 'bout no ha'nt!" exclaimed Aunt Esmerelda angrily.
"Yo' sho' scaihs me. Run along and git ready fo' dinnah."

Though Hortense lingered, Aunt Esmerelda would not say another word,
and finally Hortense went to change her dress.



CHAPTER III

"_They could hear the soft pat-pat of padded feet in the hall._"


Dinner was served in the large dining room. Friendly clusters of
candles stood on the round mahogany table and made little pools of
light on its bright surface. Mary waited on them.

"I wonder what's the matter with Aunt Esmerelda to-night," said Grandpa
after the soup. "These potatoes aren't done, and the roast is burned."

"I think she was frightened at something in the cellar," said Hortense.

"What's that?" Grandpa questioned, and Hortense told him of the noise
and the candle going out.

"A rat probably," said Grandpa. "Weren't you frightened?"

"A little," Hortense replied truthfully, "but I think it was because
Aunt Esmerelda was so afraid."

Grandpa looked at her, smiling under his bushy eyebrows.

"Would you go down to the storeroom and get me an apple if I gave you
something nice for your own?" he asked.

"Don't, Keith," said Grandma sharply. "You'll frighten the child."

"I don't want her to be afraid in the dark," said Grandpa. "This is a
big house and much of it is dark."

Hortense was silent, thinking.

"I'll go," she said.

"Good," said Grandpa. "Bring me a plateful of northern spies."

Hortense arose from the table and walked to the door. As she went out,
she heard Grandmother say, "You'll frighten the child----" The rest she
didn't hear.

In the kitchen Hortense found Aunt Esmerelda seated in her chair,
gazing gloomily at the kitchen range.

"May I have a candle, Aunt Esmerelda?" Hortense asked.

"What fo' yo' wants a candle?" Aunt Esmerelda demanded.

"I'm going to the storeroom to get Grandpa some apples," said Hortense.

Aunt Esmerelda stared at her without speaking for some moments.

"All by yo'se'f'?" she demanded at last.

"All by myself," said Hortense.

Aunt Esmerelda shook her head and muttered, but rising, found a candle
and lighted it.

"Ef yo' say yo' prayahs, mebbe nothin'll git yo'," she said ominously.

It was black as a hat in the basement, and little shivers ran up and
down Hortense's spine, but she ran quickly to the storeroom and filled
her plate with apples from the big barrel.

Starting back she heard a noise and stopped, her heart pounding and
little pin pricks crinkling her scalp; then she hurried to the stairs,
almost running. But she did not run up the stairs, for she didn't wish
to have Aunt Esmerelda think her afraid.

She was a glad little girl, nevertheless, when she was safe again in
the light kitchen.

"Yo' didn' see nothin'?" demanded Aunt Esmerelda.

"I didn't see anything," said Hortense. "I heard something, but it was
probably only a rat." She spoke bravely, quite like Grandfather.

"'Twan't no rat," muttered Aunt Esmerelda gloomily, shaking her head.
"It's a ha'nt or a ghos'. Dey's ha'nts and ghos's all 'roun dis place."

Hortense began to feel quite brave after she had arrived safely in the
cheerful dining room. Grandfather looked at her, shrewdly smiling.

"Did you see or hear anything?" he asked.

"I heard--a noise," replied Hortense.

"And were you afraid?" he asked again.

Hortense looked into his bright, kind eyes.

"A little," she confessed.

Grandfather took her on his knee.

"It isn't being afraid that matters," he said. "It's doing what you set
out to do whether afraid or not That's what it is to be brave."

"Really?" Hortense asked.

"Yes, really," assured Grandfather. "It is not brave to be without
fear, but to overcome it. Now we'll go into the library, and I'll tell
you the promised story and give you something--but what it is, I'll not
reveal until later."

Grandmother returned to her chair and her knitting, with the white owl
and the cat for company, and Grandfather and Hortense found a
comfortable seat in Grandfather's big chair. There was a cheerful fire
on the hearth, and Grandfather's study lamp cast a bright light upon
his desk--but the bronze Buddha remained in a shadow, and the rows of
books along the walls were scarcely visible.

"When I was a young lad in Scotland," said Grandfather when Hortense
was seated on his knee with her head upon his shoulder, "I had a close
friend of my own age whose name was Dugald--Dugald Stewart. We grew up
together, and when we became young men, we set off together to see the
world and to make our fortunes.

"We visited many strange and wonderful places and had many adventures,
some of which I shall tell you about, perhaps. Our fortunes were up and
down, usually down. We sought for pearls in the Indian Ocean and the
South Seas, and for gold in Australia. We traded with the natives here,
there, and everywhere, but our fortunes were still to be made, and it
seemed we might spend our lives without being much better off than we
were then.

"At last Dugald and I parted company. I was to go on a trading journey
into the interior of Borneo, which, as you know, is a very large island
in the East Indies. Dugald set out upon a wild expedition into Burma.
We had heard a story of a rare and valuable jewel said to be in a
remote and little-known part of the interior. I had tried to dissuade
him from so dangerous and uncertain an attempt, but he was brave and
even reckless. Besides, my own adventure was dangerous also.

"Before we parted, Dugald gave me a little charm which he always wore
and in which he had great faith. It was supposed to bring luck and to
shield from danger. Perhaps it did, for I was very lucky thereafter and
had many wonderful escapes from death. It was not so with Dugald. I
never saw him again, and I wish now that he had kept the charm. Perhaps
it would have protected him."

Grandfather paused and glanced at the bronze figure of Buddha beyond
the circle of the lamplight.

"This image was his last gift to me, brought by his trusted servant
with the message that in it lay fortune and that I should always keep
it by me--and I have always done so."

"Did he find the valuable jewel?" Hortense asked breathlessly.

"That I never knew," said Grandfather. "The servant told me a wild
story of his master's finding it, but when my friend died suddenly, the
servant could find no trace of it. I think he was honest, too.

"But the jewel isn't the point of my story--rather, the charm."

Grandfather opened a drawer of his desk and drew forth a tiny box of
sweet smelling wood--sandalwood, Grandfather called it. He bade
Hortense lift the cover. Inside the box lay a tiny ivory monkey
attached to a tarnished silver chain.

"It can be worn around the neck," said Grandfather, drawing it forth.
Placing the chain about Hortense's neck, he fastened the ends in a
secure little clasp.

"Now you'll have good luck and nothing can harm you," he said smiling
at her.

"Is it mine?" Hortense asked.

"You may wear it while you are here," said Grandfather, "and sometime
it will be yours for keeps."

"And I won't be afraid of noises or anything," said Hortense.

"Not a thing can hurt you," said Grandfather. "But you must take good
care not to lose it. You had better wear it under your dress, perhaps,
and never take it off. Now, it is long past bedtime."

Hortense thanked her Grandfather and went into the next room to bid her
Grandmother good night. Lowboy, fat and smiling, grinned at her. The
cat on the hearthrug turned his head and regarded her with a long stare
from his yellow eyes. Hortense felt uncomfortable but stared back, and
at last the cat turned away and pretended to wash himself. Now and then
he stole a glance at her out of the corner of his eye.

"He doesn't like me any more than I like him," thought Hortense as she
kissed her Grandmother good night.

"Your candle is on the table in the hall, dear," said Grandmother.
"Would you like Mary to put you to bed?"

But Hortense felt very brave after her exploit in the storeroom;
besides which, her monkey charm gave her a sense of security. She
lighted her candle and set off up the dark winding stairs all alone.

When she reached the second floor, she stopped and looked up the stairs
leading to the third floor. She could see only a little way and she
longed to know what it was like up there, but she felt a little timid
at the thought of all those empty rooms filled with cold, silent
furniture. What was it Grandfather had said? Always to face the thing
one feared.

Hortense marched bravely up the stairs to the hall above. It was like
that on the second floor. Hortense opened one of the many closed doors.
The light from her candle fell upon chairs and dressers sheeted like
ghosts, cold and silent. Hortense shut the door quickly and walked past
all the others without opening them.

At the end of the hall was a door somewhat smaller than the others. It
seemed mysterious, and after hesitating for a moment, Hortense turned
the knob slowly.

A flight of steps rose steeply from the threshold. Hortense peered up.
Above, it was faintly light These must be the attic stairs, Hortense
thought, and the attic was not completely dark because the cupola
lighted it faintly. When the moon was bright, it would be possible to
see quite plainly. Perhaps on such a night or, better, in the daytime,
Hortense would explore the attic, but she felt she had done enough for
one night and closed the door gently.

As she turned to walk back down the hall, she stopped suddenly. Far
away in the dark gleamed two yellow spots. Chills ran up her back, and
then she told herself, "It's the cat."

Slowly she walked towards the bright spots which never moved as she
neared them. Then the rays from her candle fell upon the cat crouched
in the middle of the hall.

"What are you doing, spying on me like this!" said Hortense severely.

The cat said not a word. He merely stared at her with his bright yellow
eyes for a moment; then he yawned, rose slowly and stretched himself,
and turning, walked with dignity down the stairs. Hortense followed,
but not once did the cat look back at her.

On the second floor Hortense stopped and watched the cat. When he was
lost to sight in the hall below, she went to her room and carefully
closed the door behind her.

She placed her candle on a stand beside the bed and proceeded to look
around. The room seemed much bigger now than in the afternoon. The
ceiling seemed lost in shadow far above, and the corners were all dark.
There were three stiff chairs, a table, a dresser, and a highboy.

The highboy was tall and slim. The light from the candle made him seem
very melancholy and sad, ridiculously so, Hortense thought.

"You are funny looking," said Hortense aloud.

The highboy, she thought, regarded her reproachfully.

"Why don't you speak?" said Hortense, "instead of looking so
woebegone."

"You'll only make fun of me," said Highboy in a tearful voice.

"No, I won't," Hortense replied, "not if you'll try to look and talk a
bit cheerful."

"That's easy to say," said Highboy, "but you don't have to stay in this
room day and night with nobody to talk to. It gets on my nerves."

"I'll talk to you," said Hortense, "but you should cultivate a cheerful
disposition. I like bright people."

"Then you'd better talk with my brother, Lowboy," said Highboy tartly.
"He's always cheery. Nothing depresses me so much as people who are
always cheerful. Tiresome, I say."

"You could learn much from your brother," said Hortense severely. "Why
don't you go down and see him now? I'm sure it would do you good."

Highboy shivered.

"It's so cold and dark in the hall," he said. "I almost never dare go
except on bright warm nights in summer. Of course I daren't go in the
daytime."

"No, I suppose not," said Hortense. "However, I'll go with you, you are
afraid. Grandmother has gone to bed, I think, and there will be a
little fire left on the hearth."

Highboy brightened a little.

"Do you think we dare?" he said, "Suppose we should meet the cat."

"I'm not afraid of the cat," Hortense declared.

"And then there's the other one," said Highboy. "He's worse still. He's
round, and bright, and hard, with sharp points all over--a terrible
fellow."

"Is he the 'ha'nt,' as Aunt Esmerelda calls it?" Hortense asked.

Highboy knew nothing about that. He was only sure that the cat,
Jeremiah, and his prickly companion were up to all manner of tricks and
were best let alone.

Hortense, on second thought, did not wholly relish the idea of going
downstairs with Highboy, but she had made the offer and so she said,
"Come on, we'll go now, for I mustn't stay up too late."

Highboy stepped out of his wooden house. He looked so funny in his knee
trousers and broad white collar with its big bow tie, exactly like a
great overgrown boy, that Hortense laughed out loud.

"If you laugh at me, I won't go," said Highboy in a mournful voice.

"I beg your pardon," said Hortense. "It was rude of me. But you should
wear long trousers you know! You are too big to wear such things as
these."

"I know it," said Highboy, "but I can't change. I haven't any others.
Besides, I've always worn them and I'd not feel the same in anything
different. One gets awfully attached to old clothes, don't you think?"

"Boys do, I've observed," said Hortense. "Come on."

She took Highboy by the hand, and they walked cautiously down the hall.
At the top of the stairs Highboy paused and leaned over the bannisters.
Somebody was walking to and fro in the hall beneath with soft regular
footfalls like the ticking of a clock.

"It's only Grandfather's Clock," said Highboy in a relieved whisper.
"He always walks that way at night."

Highboy and Hortense descended the stairs into the hall. Grandfather's
Clock was walking up and down with regular footfalls, tick-tock,
tick-tock. He smiled benevolently at them as they passed but did not
pause in his walk or speak to them.

"A dull life," said Highboy. "Duller than mine. You see, he has nothing
to be afraid of. To be afraid of something gives you a thrill, you
know. But everybody's afraid of time, and Grandfather's Clock has all
the time there is."

When Hortense and Highboy entered, only the embers of the fire were
left on the hearth in Grandmother's room. White Owl was wide-awake with
staring eyes, but the Firedogs were evidently napping and Lowboy was
sound asleep.

"Hello," said Highboy, and at once Lowboy's eyes opened wide and both
the Firedogs growled.

"Come out and talk," said Highboy.

Lowboy obeyed at once. He was short and fat--not half so tall as his
brother, but twice as big around--and he was dressed exactly like
Highboy except that his necktie was red whereas Highboy's tie was
green.

"I knew she'd bring you," said Lowboy, pointing to Hortense. "I could
see she was friendly."

"She may only be a meddlesome child," said White Owl. "It never does to
judge from first impressions."

"I could see that the cat didn't like her," said one of the firedogs,
shaking himself and coming out upon the hearthrug, "and anybody that
the cat dislikes is a friend of mine."

"Just so," said the other firedog.

They were just alike.

"I know I can never tell you apart," said Hortense. "What are your
names?"

"Mine's Coal and his is Ember," said the first firedog, "and you can
always tell us in this way: If you call me Ember and I don't answer,
then you'll know I'm Coal. It's very easy! But if you'll look close,
you'll see that my tail curls a little tighter than his, and I'm
generally thought to be handsomer."

"You're not," said Ember. "Say that again and I'll fight you."

"Oh, please don't fight!" cried Hortense. "However can you chase the
cat if you do?"

"That's the first sensible remark any one has made," said White Owl.

"I apologize," said Coal to Ember. "Let's not fight unless there's
nothing else to do."

"Fighting is an occupation for those who don't think," said White Owl.

Lowboy nudged his brother.

"Talks just like a copy book, doesn't he?" said Lowboy.

"He has to keep up his reputation," said Highboy.

"Ssh," said White Owl, "I hear the cat."

Everybody became as still as a mouse. Coal and Ember crouched, ready to
spring, and Highboy and Lowboy, rather frightened, took hold of hands
and pressed against the wall. They could hear the soft pat-pat of
padded feet in the hall.

Two yellow eyes shone in the doorway, and the Cat entered. He stood in
the middle of the room with his tail waving to and fro and looked
suspiciously from side to side.

Both Firedogs growled; the Cat spit; White Owl cried, "Who-oo-o," and
flew down from his perch. In a twinkling Hortense was running down the
hall, hand in hand with Highboy and Lowboy, behind Coal and Ember.

Up the stairs ran the Cat with the Firedogs after him, up the stairs to
the third floor and through the door to the attic.

"I'm sure I shut that door," said Hortense. "Who could have opened it?"

She had no time to think further. Up and up she went to the attic and
there stopped, panting. The Firedogs were running round and round,
growling. White Owl turned his great yellow eyes in all directions.

"He isn't here," said Owl. "I can see in every corner, and he isn't
here. But where could he have gone?"

Nobody had an answer to make, and every one felt that there was
something mysterious in the Cat's sudden disappearance.

"I think I'd better go back," said Highboy nervously. "It's time I was
asleep. Suppose we should be found way up here!"

By common consent they all moved downstairs together, going very
softly. Hortense paused at Grandmother's door. She was speaking.

"I'm sure I heard something," said Grandmother.

"It was only the wind," Grandfather's voice replied.

Hortense and Highboy crept quietly to their room while the others
disappeared below.

"It's good to be back safe," Highboy whispered, "but I'm so nervous I
know I shan't sleep."

Hortense, however, undressed quickly and climbed into bed. Soon she was
fast asleep, and the next thing she knew the sun was shining into her
windows.

"It must have been a dream," said Hortense to herself, remembering all
that had happened the evening before.

"Was it a dream, Highboy?" she said suddenly, looking at him.

"You may have dreamed," said Highboy irritably, "but I was so nervous I
didn't sleep a wink."

Saying no more, Hortense dressed rapidly and went down to breakfast.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER IV

"_Highboy, and Lowboy, and Owl, and the Firedogs come out at night._"


When Grandmother asked at breakfast if she had slept well, Hortense
replied truthfully that she had.

"I don't know what got into Jeremiah last night," said Grandmother. "I
heard something myself, and Esmerelda declares he ran about the house
like one possessed. This morning we heard him in the attic."

Hortense, eating her egg and toast, thought she might tell Grandmother
of last night's surprising events, but of course she wouldn't be
believed. So on second thought she said nothing.

Slipping away to the kitchen when breakfast was over, she found
Jeremiah begging for his breakfast and Aunt Esmerelda regarding him
with hands on hips, shaking her head.

"Yo' sho' is possessed," said Aunt Esmerelda. "Such carrying on I never
heard. I spec's de evil one was after yo', an' I hopes he catches yo'
and takes yo' away wid him."

Jeremiah winked his yellow eyes sleepily in reply, but at the sight of
Hortense he lashed his tail and turned away. Aunt Esmerelda, grumbling,
gave him a saucer of milk.

"Yo' keep away from dat animal," said Aunt Esmerelda to Hortense. "No
one knows de wickedness of his heart."

Hortense waited in the kitchen until Mary was free to begin her
morning's task of dusting and tidying the rooms.

"May I come?" she begged.

"Sure," said Mary kindly. "I'm dusting the big parlor this morning, and
there are lots of interesting things to see there."

In the big unused parlor she threw open the shutters and parted the
curtains to let in the sunlight. Hortense was at once absorbed in the
treasures she found. The room was filled with things which Grandfather
had brought home from his travels all over the world. There were heavy,
dark red tables carved with all kinds of flowers and animals, bright
silk cushions, little ebony tabourets with brass trays upon them,
curious vases and lacquer boxes from China and Japan. On the mantel was
a beautiful tree of pink coral in a glass case, and beside it were
wonderful shells and little elephants carved from ivory. On the walls
were bits of embroidery framed and covered with glass, picturing
bright-plumaged birds and tigers standing in snow.

Most fascinating of all were the strange weapons arrayed in a pattern
upon one wall--spears, guns, bows and arrows, swords and knives,
boomerangs, war clubs, bolos--weapons which Hortense had seen only in
pictures in her geography and in books of travel. They all seemed dead
and harmless enough now, not likely to come down from the wall and
wander about the house at night. Hortense doubted whether they would
even speak.

However, one was different, quite wide-awake and, Hortense could see,
only waiting for a chance to leap down from the wall. It was a long
knife with a green handle made from some sort of stone. Its shape was
most curious, like the path of a snake in the dust. Like a snake, too,
it seemed deadly, and the light that played upon its sinuous length and
dripped from the point like water, glittered like the eyes of a
serpent.

"What an awful knife," said Hortense.

"Those spears and knives give me the shivers," said Mary. "I've told
your Grandfather I'd never touch them."

"Most of them are dead," said Hortense, "but the one with the curly
blade and the green handle looks as though it could come right down at
you. I'd like to have that one."

Mary jumped.

"Don't you touch it," she said severely. "You might hurt yourself
dreadfully."

Hortense said no more, but resolved to ask Grandfather about the knife
at the first opportunity. Sometime, when she had a chance, she would
come to the parlor and talk with the knife. It must have lovely,
shivery things to tell.

There was also a couch which fascinated her, a long, low couch with
short curved legs and brass clawed feet. Hortense surveyed it for a
long time.

"It looks like an alligator asleep," she said at last. "I wonder if it
ever wakes up."

"What does?" Mary asked.

"The couch," said Hortense. "See its short curved legs, just like an
alligator's? And it's long. Probably its tail is tucked away inside
somewhere. Alligators have long tails, you know. I saw an alligator
once that looked just like that."

"I declare," said Mary, "you are an awful child. I won't stay in this
room a bit longer. I feel creepy."

She gathered up her dust cloths and broom, and Hortense went
reluctantly with her.

"Do show me the attic, Mary," Hortense pleaded.

"Not to-day," said Mary firmly. "You'd be seeing things in the corners.
I never saw your like!"

So for the rest of the morning, Mary dusted other rooms in which all
the furniture seemed dead or asleep and, therefore, quite
uninteresting.

After luncheon, however, Hortense asked Grandfather to tell her about
the knife with the crinkly blade.

"That," said Grandfather, "is a Malay kris, such as the pirates in the
East Indies carry. An old sea captain gave it to me. It once belonged
to a Malay pirate. When he was captured, my friend secured it and gave
it to me in return for a service I did for him."

"It looks as though it could tell terrible stories," said Hortense.

"No doubt it would if it could talk," said Grandfather. "It is very old
and doubtless has been in a hundred fights and killed men."

"You wouldn't let me carry it?" Hortense asked.

"Gracious no," said Grandfather. "It is dangerous. What made you think
of such a thing?"

What Hortense thought was that it would be a very nice and handy weapon
to hunt the cat with at night, but she couldn't tell Grandfather that;
so she said nothing.

"It's a nice afternoon," said Grandfather, "and little girls should be
out-of-doors. Run out and see the barn and the orchard."

Hortense did as she was told, wandering about the yard, exploring the
loft of the barn, and the orchard. At last she came back to the house,
for this interested her more than anything else.

There were many bushes and shrubs planted close to the walls, forming
fine secret corners in which to hide and look unseen upon the world
without. Hortense hid a while in each of them, wishing she had some one
with whom to play hide and seek.

She found one bush which was particularly inviting, for it was beside
an open window of the basement. She looked in and was surprised to see
that the window opened not into the basement but into a wooden box or
chute that sloped steeply, and then dropped out of sight into the gloom
below.

Hortense peered in as far as she could and as she did so, much to her
surprise, a head appeared in the darkness where the wooden box dropped
out of sight.

It was the head of a dirty little boy. As she stared at it, she
recognized the little boy who had turned handsprings in the yard next
door as she and Uncle Jonah had driven by yesterday.

"Hello," said Hortense.

"Hello," said the boy. "Help me out. I slipped."

He endeavored to lift himself to the chute whose edge came to his chin,
but it was too slippery and he could not. Hortense stretched out her
arm to help him, but the distance was too great.

"However did you get there?" Hortense asked.

"I wanted to see where it went," said the boy, "but once I got in I
slipped and fell to the bottom."

"Where does it go?" Hortense asked.

"Only to the furnace," said the boy in disgust.

"Oh," said Hortense. "I thought it might go to a secret room or
something."

"Can't you get a rope?" the boy asked.

Hortense considered.

"I couldn't pull you out if I did. I'll have to get Uncle Jonah."

"He'll lick me," said the boy.

"Oh, I know," said Hortense. "We'll play you're a prisoner in a
dungeon, and every day I'll bring you things to eat."

But the boy didn't seem to like this idea.

"I want to get out," he said, and disappeared.

"I believe there's some sort of a door at the bottom," he said at last,
reappearing, "but it opens from the other side. Couldn't you get into
the cellar and open it?"

"Aunt Esmerelda might see me and ask what I was doing," she answered.
"Maybe I can get by when she isn't looking. You wait."

"I'll wait all right," said the boy. "Don't you be too long. It's dark
in here."

"The dark won't hurt you," said Hortense, but to this the boy only
snorted by way of reply.

Hortense peeped cautiously into the kitchen. Aunt Esmerelda was seated
in her chair, fast asleep.

"What luck," thought Hortense, and she tiptoed across the kitchen to
the cellar door. She opened it very carefully, shut it again without
noise, and crept down the stairs.

The basement was dark, but soon Hortense began to see her way and
walked to the furnace. At the back of it was the wooden chute that led
to the window above.

She knocked gently upon it.

"Are you in there?" she asked.

"Yes," said a muffled voice.

Hortense looked for the door of which the boy had spoken and at last
found a panel which slid in grooves. She pulled at this but succeeded
in raising it only a couple of inches.

"It's stuck," said Hortense.

"I can help," said the boy, slipping his fingers through the opening.

He and Hortense pulled and tugged and at last succeeded in raising the
panel about a foot. They couldn't budge it an inch further.

"I guess I can squeeze through," said the boy.

Scraping sounds came from the box, and the noise of heels on the wooden
sides. The boy's head appeared and then an arm. Hortense seized the arm
and pulled.

At last a very dusty, grimy boy wriggled through and, rising gasping to
his feet, dusted his clothes.

"What's your name?" Hortense asked.

"Andy. What's yours?"

Hortense told him. They looked at each other without further words.

"You've got to get through the kitchen without Aunt Esmerelda seeing
you," said Hortense, and led the way to the cellar stairs.

"You stay here until I see if she's still asleep," Hortense said as she
crept cautiously to the top.

She opened the door very gently and peered in. Aunt Esmerelda still sat
in her corner, asleep. Hortense motioned to Andy, who came as quietly
as he could, which wasn't very quiet for his heels clumped loudly on
the stairs.

"Hush!" Hortense whispered. "Now go as fast and as quietly as you can
across the kitchen. Hide behind the barn, and I'll follow you."

Andy ran across the room, but as he went out of the door he struck his
toe against the sill, making a great clatter.

Aunt Esmerelda awoke with a start.

"Lan's sakes, wha's dat?" she exclaimed.

"May I have some cookies, Aunt Esmerelda?" Hortense asked.

Aunt Esmerelda's eyes were rolling.

"I 'clare I seed somefin' goin' out dat a doh. Dis yere house 'll be de
def of me. Cookies? 'Cose you can have cookies, honey."

Hortense helped herself freely, remembering that Andy would want some.
With these in her hands she walked through the yard and around the
barn, where she found Andy.

"Cookies!" cheered Andy, and falling upon his share which Hortense gave
him, he ate them one after another as fast as he could, never saying a
word.

"Didn't you have any luncheon?" Hortense asked.

"Of course," said Andy, "but I squeezed so thin getting out of that box
that I'm hungry again."

"I suppose," said Hortense, "that when I want a second helping of
dessert and haven't room for it, all I need do is to squeeze in and out
of the box and then I can start all over again."

It seemed a delightful plan.

"We might do it now and get some more cookies," said Andy, hopefully.

"Aunt Esmerelda would catch us and tell Uncle Jonah," said Hortense.

She meditated on the delightful possibilities of the box.

"We could play hide and seek, sometime when nobody's about," she said.
"It's a grand place to hide."

"But we both know of it and there's nobody else to play with," said
Andy.

This was very true unless Highboy and Lowboy and the Firedogs and Owl
should be taken into the game. Hortense looked at Andy wondering
whether to tell him of these friends of hers and of the Cat.

"If we played at night," said Hortense, "we could have lots of people.
Highboy, and Lowboy, and Owl, and the Firedogs come out at night."

Andy stared at her with round eyes.

"They're the furniture, you know," said Hortense. "You can see some
things are alive and waiting to come out of themselves. I'm sure
Alligator Sofa and Malay Kris would play, too, if we asked them."

Andy's eyes were as big as saucers.

"Honest?" he asked doubtfully.

"They came out last night and we chased the cat, Jeremiah, into the
attic where he disappeared," said Hortense. "We must find out where he
went."

"Aw, you're fooling," said Andy, but he spoke weakly.

"Cross my heart 'n hope to die," said Hortense. "You come over to-night
after everybody's asleep, and I'll show you."

"I suppose I could get out of my window all right," said Andy
doubtfully, "but how could I get into your house?"

"By the cellar window and the wooden chute as you did to-day!" cried
Hortense. "Then I'd unlock the cellar door, and you could come up."

Andy seemed not to like the prospect.

"It will be dark," he said.

"Oh, if you're afraid of the dark, of course," Hortense sniffed.

"Who said I was afraid?" challenged Andy.

"Well, come if you aren't afraid," said Hortense. "But you mustn't make
any noise, of course, or they'll catch us."

Andy looked long at her and swallowed hard.

"I'll come," he said bravely.



CHAPTER V

"_Jeremiah's disappeared again._"


After dinner that night, Grandfather took Hortense on his knee and told
her an exciting story, of pirates and Malay Kris.

"Is it true?" Hortense asked.

"Pretty nearly," said Grandfather. "It might be true."

"If you think things are true, then they are true, aren't they?"
Hortense demanded.

"Perhaps," said Grandfather, wrinkling his forehead. "Philosophers
disagree on that point. Now run off to bed."

Hortense kissed her Grandfather and Grandmother good night and went to
her room.

"I hope you got a good nap to-day," she said to Highboy when she had
closed the door, "because we are going to play hide and seek to-night,
and Andy, who lives next door, is coming over."

"I slept all day," said Highboy, "and I'm fit as a fiddle."

"Why do you say fit as a fiddle?" asked Hortense. "Do fiddles have
fits? Cats have, of course!"

"And dresses," added Highboy, "and things fit into boxes. Your
grandmother says when she puts things into me, 'This will fit nicely,'
so I suppose a fiddle fits or has fits the same way."

"It doesn't seem clear to me," said Hortense.

"How many things are clear?" Highboy demanded.

"Lots of things aren't," Hortense admitted. "Of course, a clear day is
easy."

"And you clear the table," said Highboy.

"And clear the decks for action," said Hortense, "but that's pirates. I
must ask Malay Kris about that. He's seen it happen lots of times.
We'll get him to play to-night."

"Who is Malay Kris?" asked Highboy.

"He's the long, snaky knife that hangs in the parlor," said Hortense.
"Then there's Alligator Sofa, too. We'll get him to play, if he'll wake
up. He's so slow I suspect he'll always be _It_."

Highboy shivered until he creaked.

"They sound fierce and dangerous to me," he said, "worse than Coal and
Ember."

"Perhaps we can set him on Jeremiah and the other one," said Hortense.
"I'm longing to see the bright, round one with prickly sides. I've a
guess as to who it is."

Highboy shivered again.

"Don't mention them in my hearing--please!" he begged. "You never can
tell when Jeremiah is snooping about, and he's a telltale."

"Well, we needn't be afraid of Jeremiah," Hortense said. "Malay Kris
will make the other one run, too, I expect."

She looked out of the window.

"There's no light on the lawn from the library," said she. "Everybody
must be in bed. Let's go down."

"You hold my hand tight," said Highboy.

Hortense did so, and they stole down the stairs together.

Coal and Ember growled a bit when they entered Grandmother's room but
stopped when they saw who it was.

"What do we do to-night?" Owl asked. "I feel wakeful."

"Andy's coming over," said Hortense, "and then we're going to ask Malay
Kris and Alligator Sofa to play with us."

"Andy sounds like a boy," said Owl. "I hate boys. One robbed my nest of
eggs once, and I swore I'd pull his hair if I ever met him again."

"That was another boy, I'm sure," Hortense replied.

"All boys are bad," Owl grumbled. "Who are Malay Kris and Alligator
Sofa?"

"I'll show you," said Hortense, "but first I must let Andy in. The
cellar door's sure to be locked. You all wait here until we come."

She found her way into the dark kitchen and, unlocking the door, stood
at the head of the stairs. Soon she heard bumps in the wooden box.

"Is that you, Andy?" she called softly.

"Yes," said a muffled voice, and she heard him stumbling in the dark.

Andy found his way to the stairs at last and soon stood beside her.
Hortense took him by the hand and led him to Grandmother's room.

"This is Andy," she said to the others.

"Let us smell him," said Coal and Ember, "so we'll know him in the
dark."

They sniffed at his heels, and Owl glared fiercely at him.

"It's not the boy who robbed my nest," said Owl. "It's lucky for his
hair."

"Now we'll go into the parlor for the others," said Hortense, leading
the way.

It was so dark in the parlor that Hortense could see nothing; so she
threw open the shutters, admitting a faint light which shone on Malay
Kris and made him glitter.

"We want you to come down to play hide and seek," said Hortense.

"I'd rather have a fight," said Malay Kris. "It's a long time since
I've tasted blood. Many's the man I've slithered through like a gimlet
in a plank."

"These boastful talkers seldom amount to much," said Owl.

Malay Kris glared at Owl, whose fierce eyes never wavered.

"You have wings," said Malay Kris, "but anything that walks or swims is
my meat. Show him to me."

"Nonsense," said Hortense sharply. "This is hide and seek and not a
pirate ship."

"In that case," said Malay Kris, "I'll join you in a friendly game."

Down he leaped as agile as a cat, a trim, slim fellow with bright eyes.

"And now for Alligator," said Hortense. "He's asleep, as usual."

She shook him roughly, and Alligator spoke in a hoarse voice like a
rusty saw.

"Who's tickling me?"

"His voice needs oiling," said Owl.

"A fat pig is what I need," said Alligator.

"Well we have no fat pigs," said Hortense. "We are going to play hide
and seek."

"I'll play, of course," said Alligator, "but I'm slow on my feet. Now
if it were a lake or river, I'd show you a thing or two."

"The point is, who is to be _It_? said Owl.

"Very true," said Lowboy. "He's a mind like a judge--never forgets the
point."

"She's _It_, of course," said Malay Kris. "She thought of the game."

"Oh, very well," said Hortense.

"It would be more polite to make Andy _It_," said Owl. "Always be
polite to ladies."

"I'll choose between Andy and me," said Hortense.

    "Eeny, meeny, mona, my
    Barcelona bona sky,
    Care well,
    Broken well,
    We wo wack.

"I'm _It_. I'll count to a hundred, and the newel post in the hall
will be goal."

There was a hurrying and scurrying while Hortense hid her face.

"Ready," Hortense called and opened her eyes. She moved cautiously in
the dark hall and stumbled over something at the second step.

Slap, slap, slap, something went against the newel post.

"One, two, three for me," said a hoarse voice.

"That isn't fair. You slapped with your tail," said Hortense.

"Why isn't it fair?" said Alligator. "I wouldn't stand a chance with
you running. Now go ahead and find the others while I take a nap."

"Well, there are plenty more," Hortense consoled herself. "I'll look in
Grandmother's room first."

The first thing she saw was the bright eyes of Owl, who was perched on
the mantel.

"I see you," said Hortense and started to run back.

But Owl flew over her head and was perched on the newel post when she
arrived.

"Dear me," said Hortense, "I'll be _It_ all the time at this rate. I
wonder if Coal and Ember are in the fireplace. She looked, but they
weren't there.

"I'll try the library," thought Hortense.

She hadn't more than reached the center of the room when Coal and Ember
dashed past her.

"Why didn't you tell me?" said Hortense reproachfully to the bronze
image of Buddha seated placidly on his pedestal. The image didn't deign
to reply.

"I wish I could make him talk," said Hortense aloud.

Somebody snickered in the corner.

"Sounds like Lowboy," said Hortense.

Lowboy started to run for the door but collided with a chair.

"I've scratched myself," said Lowboy.

Hortense did not wait to console him. Instead, she ran to the newel
post.

"One, two, three for Lowboy!" she called. "Lowboy's _It_. All-y all-y
out's in free."

Malay Kris crawled out from behind the clock, and the others appeared
one by one.

"Lowboy's _It_," said Hortense.

Lowboy shut his eyes and began to count. Hortense seized Andy by the
hand and ran with him up the stairs.

"We'll hide in the attic," she whispered.

Up and up they ran, softly opened the door to the attic, and hid behind
a trunk in the corner.

"They'll never find us," said Andy.

They lay quiet and heard nothing for a long time.

"Perhaps they've given up," said Andy.

"Ssh!" Hortense whispered.

Something was running very fast up the stairs. It did not stop at the
top, but raced on to the ladder which reached to the cupola above.
Hortense peeped out. On the sill of the open window above stood
Jeremiah with arched back and swollen tail. His yellow eyes shone like
lamps.

"Of all things!" said Hortense.

Then the Cat disappeared, and they heard the soft thud of his feet
alighting on the roof.

"We must see what he's up to," said Hortense.

Followed by Andy, she ran to the ladder, scrambled to the top, and
peered out. The Cat was perched on top of the chimney, looking this way
and that.

Hortense ducked her head in order not to be seen.

"What do you suppose he's doing there?" she asked.

"Perhaps something is after him," said Andy.

From below came a slow scratching sound. Some heavy creature with claws
was coming up the attic stairs.

"Is it you, Alligator?" Hortense called.

"Where's that Cat?" said Alligator in a determined voice. "I must have
him."

"He's on the roof," said Hortense, climbing down. "But what do you want
him for?"

"For supper," said Alligator in his harsh voice. "He'll be furry, but
eat him I will."

He started up the ladder.

"I'm old and big for such work as this," said he, "but have him I will.
Push my tail a bit and give me a lift."

Hortense pushed and Andy, at the top, pulled. Out went Alligator,
Hortense and Andy holding his tail while he scrambled down the roof.

Jeremiah raised his voice.

"Help! Help!" he cried as Alligator slid slowly down the roof towards
him. Then, as Alligator put his forelegs against the chimney and began
to lift his horrible head, Jeremiah shut his eyes and jumped.

Quick as a flash Alligator's huge jaws opened wide, and into them fell
Jeremiah. Hortense could see Alligator's throat wiggle as Jeremiah went
down.

Alligator crawled back slowly.

"I must seek my corner and go to sleep," said Alligator, balancing
himself on the window ledge. "Hear him?"

Hortense and Andy put their ears to Alligator's back. Within they could
hear Jeremiah running around and around and crying out.

"He's having a fit," said Hortense.

"A snug fit," said Alligator grimly. "He'll get used to it after a
while."

Hortense and Andy were quite silent as they slowly followed Alligator
down the stairs.

"It's rather horrible," Hortense whispered to Andy, "although I didn't
like Jeremiah."

"I think I'll go home," said Andy.

In the hall below they found all the rest.

"Where have you been keeping yourselves?" said Owl irritably. "Ember's
_It_, and we've waited ever so long."

"Alligator's swallowed Jeremiah," said Hortense.

"Served him right," said Owl, but Coal and Ember backed off as though
fearing their turn would be next. Lowboy was sober for once.

"I want to go home," whimpered Highboy.

"Why didn't you let me run him through first?" demanded Malay Kris.
"I'd have skewered him like a roast of beef."

"Too late," said Alligator, making off to the parlor.

"I suppose the party's broken up for to-night," said Owl.

All moved away by common consent. Hortense let Andy out of the back
door and locked it after him. Taking Highboy, who was still shaking, by
the hand, she led him up the stairs.

"That Alligator's a dreadful person," said Highboy. "I'm sure I'll not
sleep at all."

Hortense, however, slept soundly and was late for breakfast. When she
entered the dining room, Grandmother was saying, "Jeremiah's
disappeared again. I wonder what can have got into him of late."

Mary, bringing toast, entered with a troubled face.

"Jeremiah's somewhere in the parlor, ma'm," she said. "I heard him
crying under the sofa, but though I looked I couldn't see him. I called
to him, but he wouldn't come. It's most surprising."

"We'll find him after breakfast," said Grandfather.

So after breakfast they all went to the parlor. Jeremiah's plaintive
cries could be clearly heard. Grandfather looked under the sofa and
poked around with a cane, but still no Jeremiah appeared.

"We'll have to move it out," said Grandfather. "He must be caught
somewhere."

He moved the sofa out into the room and peered behind it. Jeremiah's
cries came distinctly, but he was not to be seen.

"Most extraordinary," said Grandfather.

Aunt Esmerelda shook her head, as did Uncle Jonah.

"Dat cat is sho' a hoodoo," said Uncle Jonah.

"Something's moving in the sofa," said Hortense.

All looked, and sure enough there was a slight movement from within.

"But he couldn't get into the sofa!" said Grandmother.

Uncle Jonah and Fergus turned the sofa over on its back.

"There's no hole," said Grandfather, examining the sofa carefully from
end to end, "but there is something moving inside!"

He opened his pocketknife and carefully slit the covering at one end.
Uncle Jonah and Aunt Esmerelda retreated to the door and looked on with
frightened faces.

Grandfather inserted his hand, felt around, and pulled forth Jeremiah,
a very crestfallen cat.

"How did you get in there?" demanded Grandfather.

Jeremiah mewed and looked much ashamed.

"A most extraordinary thing," said Grandfather, carrying Jeremiah from
the room.

Hortense followed with the others. As she went, she raised her eyes to
Malay Kris, hanging in his customary place on the wall.

Malay Kris winked one bright eye at her.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER VI

"_I'll have the charm
That saves from harm;_"


Grandmother was knitting and Hortense sat on a stool at her feet,
thinking, for she wished to make a request of Grandmother and she was
doubtful of Grandmother's response.

"May I ask the little boy who lives next door to come in and play?"
Hortense asked suddenly.

"I didn't know you had seen him," said Grandmother.

"I've seen and talked with him," said Hortense. "His name is Andy."

"You are sure that he is a nice little boy?" Grandmother asked.

"Oh yes!" Hortense cried.

"Very well, then," said Grandmother. "You may ask him to come after
luncheon."

Hortense did so. After luncheon she and Andy climbed to the attic,
which Hortense wished to see in the daytime, for at night she had
learned very little about it.

It was a great square attic with a roof that sloped gradually to the
floor from the cupola, which was like the lamp high above in a
lighthouse. Like all proper attics it held old trunks, furniture, and
all kinds of things. In the drawers of the bureaus and wardrobes were
old suits and dresses, and in the trunks, other dresses and suits and
old hangings. Andy and Hortense took them out and dressed in them--and
played they were a lord and a lady, and pirates, and Indians. Then they
sat down to eat the four apples which Hortense had thoughtfully brought
with her.

"Where do you suppose the Cat hid the night I followed him and he
disappeared?" Hortense asked.

"There are lots of corners to hide in," said Andy, but Hortense was
sure that the Cat had some particular place; so Andy and she crawled
all around the attic under the eaves, looking behind every trunk and
into every corner. Yet they could find no place that seemed especially
secret.

"There's no secret corner," said Andy, sitting down beside the big
chimney and leaning his back against it.

But as he spoke he suddenly began to disappear through the floor and
only by catching the edge of it did he save himself. He and Hortense
were too surprised to speak for a moment. Then they knelt on the edge
of the opening and peered down.

"It's a trapdoor," said Andy. "We must find out where it goes."

He pushed the door to one side and revealed a little staircase.

"Are you afraid to go down?" Andy asked.

"Of course not," said Hortense. "You go first."

Andy led the way and Hortense followed. A few steps brought them to a
small room. It was dark, but the light from the trapdoor enabled them
to see a little after a while. There was nothing in the room but a
large chest.

"Shall we open it?" Andy asked.

"Of course," said Hortense.

By pulling and tugging they succeeded at last in lifting the lid.

"It's empty," said Andy much disappointed. "I hoped it might be full of
gold and jewels."

Hortense had a sudden thought.

"This is where Jeremiah went the time we couldn't find him."

Andy was unconvinced.

"A cat couldn't open a trapdoor," he said.

"Maybe Jeremiah could. He's no ordinary cat. Besides there's another
one."

"Another cat?" Andy demanded.

"No. Somebody else we haven't seen, but I can guess who it is."

"Who is it?"

"I won't tell yet--not until I'm sure. But we'll see him. Maybe we'll
surprise him and Jeremiah here some night and take them captive."

"Hello," said Andy as he put his foot on the stairs. "What's this?"

Beside the chimney was a black hole and fastened to the chimney was an
iron bar like the rung of a ladder. Andy peered down.

"There's another rung," he said. "I wonder where this ladder goes?"

"We'll have to find out," said Hortense. "Dear me, this is a most
mysterious house."

Andy put one foot on the ladder and began to descend. Soon his head
disappeared from sight.

"It goes down and down, probably to the basement," he called. "Come
on."

Hortense obeyed, and down and down they went. It was very dark, but now
and then a little chink beside the chimney let in a ray of light.

"Maybe it goes to the middle of the earth," said Andy from below. "No,
here's the bottom at last."

Soon Hortense stood behind him. Gradually, as their eyes became
accustomed to the dark, they could see a little.

"Here's the way," said Andy at last.

"But here's another passage," said Hortense.

"We'll try mine first," said Andy.

They had walked only a few steps when they came to a wooden panel.

"It's like the one that I crawled through the other day," said Andy.
"Help me to move it."

It moved slowly, but finally they raised it until they could crawl
through.

"I believe this is the chute I came down when you found me," said Andy.

He stood up.

"There's the basement window," he said, "and here's the little door I
crawled through. Now we can get out."

"We must see where the other way goes first," Hortense reminded him.

"I'd forgotten," said Andy.

Back they went to the foot of the ladder and then down the other way
which grew smaller and smaller and suddenly stopped.

"Let's go back, there's nothing here," said Hortense.

Andy stood still, absorbed in thought.

"It can't end in nothing," said he. "Who would dig a tunnel to
nowhere?"

He felt the end of the passage with his hands.

"It's wood," he announced. "It must be a door. Yes, here's a little
latch."

He opened the little door and, lying on his stomach, looked down the
tunnel beyond. It was neatly fashioned and quite light but curved away
in the distance so that the end was not visible--only a shining bit of
the wall.

Hortense spoke the thought of both.

"If we were only small enough to go down it and see where it leads,"
said she.

But alas, it was far too small for that.

"Probably Jeremiah goes through it," said Hortense. "Where do you
suppose it goes?"

"Perhaps to the middle of the earth, or to a cave filled with diamonds
and gold," said Andy.

"Or maybe to the home of the fairies."

"Well, we can't know, so there's no use thinking of it."

"Still, if we watched it sometimes, we might see who goes down it,"
Hortense suggested hopefully, "and if it were a fairy, we might talk
with him."

"We might do that," Andy agreed.

"But probably they'd know we were watching and keep hid."

They returned the way they had come, crawled through the wooden box.
Into the basement, and went to the head of the cellar stairs.

"I'll see if Aunt Esmerelda is asleep," said Hortense. "If she is,
we'll tiptoe across the kitchen, get some cookies, and eat them in the
barn."

She opened the door cautiously and peeped in. Sure enough, Aunt
Esmerelda was asleep in her chair with her apron thrown over her head.
Hortense motioned to Andy and they crept quietly across the kitchen to
the door, Hortense pausing a moment 'on the way to fill her pockets
with cookies.

They ran unseen to the barn and climbed to the haymow where they ate
the cookies. Hortense was deep in thought all the time.

"To-night," she announced at last, "we'll hide in the little room we
found. You can come in by the basement window and climb up the ladder.
I'll go up by way of the attic. Whom shall I bring?"

"Alligator would be too big," said Andy. "Besides, he's likely to
swallow things, he has such a terrible appetite."

"And Lowboy is so fat he might get stuck going down the chimney."

"Coal and Ember are always likely to growl and give us away."

"That leaves only Owl, Highboy, and Malay Kris," said Andy.

"Owl's eyes shine so--we'd better not have him," Hortense added.

So it was agreed that that night Hortense should bring only Highboy and
Malay Kris with her.

"You won't be afraid to climb the ladder all alone in the dark?"
Hortense asked.

"Well," said Andy, "I'll come anyhow."

Hortense clapped her hands.

"That's just what Grandfather says to do," said she. "I wish I were
brave."

"You are," exclaimed Andy.

"No, I'm not, because I have a charm. See, this little ivory monkey."

She pulled out the charm from the neck of her dress.

"While I wear this, nothing can happen to me. It's lucky."

"I don't believe in charms," said Andy.

Hortense was displeased at his doubt.

"Well, you'll see," said she.

It was nearly sundown; so Andy ran home, and Hortense returned to the
house to change her dress for supper.

Said she to Highboy, "To-night you and Malay Kris and I are going to
hide in the secret room in the attic. There Andy will join us, and we
will watch for Jeremiah and the other."

"I do not wish to see Jeremiah or the other," said Highboy.

"Nevertheless, you must come," said Hortense firmly.

"Alas," mourned Highboy. "Never again will I stand on a good Brussels
carpet and see the sunshine pour in the south window. Many a sad year
shall I weep for the last embraces of my brother Lowboy and the dull
life of home."

Hortense was struck to admiration by these moving words.

"How lovely," said she. "I didn't know you wrote poetry."

"I have a drawer full," said Highboy, perking up a bit.

"Then you must surely come," Hortense urged. "You might be captured, or
something, and then you could be dreadfully melancholy and write the
beautifullest poetry!"

"True," said Highboy. "Sorrow is the food of poets."

Consequently, when all was still and Grandfather and Grandmother were
safely in bed, Highboy went willingly enough with Hortense down the
dark silent stairs and past Grandmother's sitting room.

"May I not say a farewell to Lowboy?" said Highboy with tears in his
voice.

"Not at all," said Hortense briskly. "He might want to come, too."

They went softly into the parlor, and Hortense whispered to Malay Kris,
telling him of the night's expedition.

"Good," said Malay Kris. "If I see the Cat or the other one, I'll
slither through their bones."

He spoke in a low, fierce voice and jumped down lightly so as not to
awaken Alligator, who seemed to be asleep, but it was of no use.
Without opening his eyes, Alligator grunted,

"Where do I come in?"

"Why, you see," said Hortense embarrassed, "you're so big you couldn't
get into the little room nor climb down the ladder."

"You mean I'm not wanted," said Alligator crossly. "Very well, I'll not
go where I'm not asked. I'll hunt alone."

"Dear me," said Hortense, "now he'll go and swallow something he
shouldn't."

"Maybe I will and maybe I won't," said Alligator. "It depends on my
appetite."

"Swallow me," said Malay Kris, "and I'll show you a thing or two. I'll
run you as full of holes as a colander."

"You're not to my taste," said Alligator, yawning horribly. "If I cared
to, I would."

Malay Kris glared at Alligator, but as it was of no use to attack his
thick hide, which was as tough as iron, he did nothing more and
Hortense dragged him away.

"Save your wrath," she said.

"I have so much I don't need to save it," said Malay Kris. "The more I
spend, the more I have."

Nevertheless he came obediently enough, and Hortense and Highboy and
Malay Kris climbed to the attic, went through the trapdoor, and hid in
the little room. They left the door open a bit so that they could see
out, and all crouched on the upper stair waiting for whatever was to
come.

"What's that?" said Malay Kris. "I heard a sound."

"It's Andy, of course," said Hortense, running down the stairs. "I'd
almost forgotten him."

Leaning over the hole beside the chimney, she called in a soft voice,
"Andy, Andy."

"It's me," said Andy, and soon he joined them.

"Why do we wait here?" Malay Kris demanded. "How can you be sure any
one will come?"

"We can't be sure, of course," Hortense said, "but it's likely because
it's a secret place. We want to see who it is that goes with Jeremiah.
Highboy has seen him but doesn't know his name. He's all shiny, and
prickly, and hard."

"Not too hard for me," Malay Kris boasted. "I'll run him through as
though he were cheese."

"It won't be so bad, once we see him," Hortense observed. "A thing is
never so bad as you think it is beforehand."

"Except castor oil," said Andy. "That's worse."

They all sat in silence, waiting for something to happen.

"Unless it comes soon, I'll go out and look for it," Malay Kris growled
after a time. "I rust with inaction."

"Hush!" said Hortense.

They heard the swift patter of feet on the attic stairs and across the
floor.

"Only Jeremiah," Hortense whispered disappointedly, peeping out of the
crack in the door. But immediately after came the clatter of metal and
a bright round figure ran up the ladder after Jeremiah and disappeared
through the cupola window.

Hortense clapped her hands softly.

"I knew it!" she exclaimed, full of excitement.

"What did you know?" Andy asked.

"It's the Grater! The one that hangs in Aunt Esmerelda's kitchen."

"Let me see him!" cried Malay Kris.

On the roof above their heads, light footsteps pattered rhythmically.

"I do believe they're dancing!" Hortense said.

They ran to the ladder and scrambled up.

"Careful! We mustn't let them see us," Hortense warned.

Cautiously they peeped over the window ledge. Below them on the roof,
Jeremiah and Grater were dancing outrageously. The Cat pranced on his
hind legs, and Grater leaped and spun like a top, so that his sides
glittered in the moonlight.

[Illustration: Grater danced outrageously, leaping and spinning in the
moonlight.]

"He's wearing armor," said Malay Kris. "H'm, he won't be so easy as I
thought. However, I'll have a try."

Hortense laid a hand on his shoulder.

"Not now," she said. "Let's wait."

Grater began to sing in a harsh voice. As Hortense listened to the
words, she hastily put her hand to her throat to make sure that the
little monkey charm was safe, for it was certain the words referred to
it.

    _I'll have the charm
    That saves from harm;
    The charm I'll have
    And make her slave;
    It's on her neck,
    And I expect
    She'll die of fear
    When I come near.
    On her I'll grate
    As sure as fate._

This was certainly a disagreeable prospect, for Grater must prove very
scratchy indeed.

"I surely must keep away from him," Hortense reflected.

She forgot her fear of Grater in a moment, however, for there was a
noise as of claws on the attic floor, and the movement of a heavy body.

"It's Alligator!" she said aloud.

"Yes, it's me," Alligator answered. "Don't anybody try to stop me. I
know that Cat's upon the roof, and I mean to have him. I'll swallow him
whole."

"The Cat is dancing with Grater," said Hortense, "and Grater is a
terrible person. You daren't swallow him, for he's all hard and covered
with sharp points."

"I am myself," Alligator said. "I'll look him over, but it's the Cat I
want. Warm and soft, he'll be."

Alligator started up the ladder, and Hortense and the others pressed
aside to let him pass. Softly he slid out of the window upon the roof
and was half way down it before the Cat saw him.

Jeremiah, with a howl, leaped to the top of the chimney, his back
arched, his tail as large as a fox's brush.

Grater, who was a nimble fellow for all that he looked so clumsy, after
one glance at Alligator ran quickly around to the other side of the
roof, and Alligator, with the slow, relentless movement of a traction
engine, continued after Jeremiah. Jeremiah remembered his former
unhappy experience, apparently, for with one despairing meow he
disappeared down the chimney. They could hear him falling slowly, his
claws scratching the bricks. As he fell, his cries grew fainter and
fainter. As for Alligator, he stood with his short forelegs resting on
the chimney top, the picture of disappointment.

Hortense and the others were so absorbed in this interesting scene that
they had quite forgotten Grater. His sudden appearance at the window so
surprised them that all four slid down the ladder in a panic.

"Quick, the trapdoor!" Hortense cried.

"Let me fight him!" Malay Kris begged.

"No, no, not here!" Hortense said and pushed him before her.

Down the ladder they went as fast as they could, which wasn't very
fast, for the iron rungs were slippery and Hortense had to feel for
each one with her feet. Highboy was before her and once she stepped on
his fingers.

"Ouch!" Highboy cried, and stopped to put his fingers in his mouth.

"Do hurry," Hortense begged, for she could hear Grater above her,
already beginning to descend.

But Highboy was distressingly slow. Grater came nearer and nearer.

"Oh, dear!" Hortense said to herself, "he'll catch me in a moment and
take my charm."

Then she had an inspiration. Quickly unclasping the charm, she reached
down to Highboy and said, "Swallow this, quick!"

"Is it can----," Highboy began but could say no more, for she crammed
it into his mouth.

"I'm sure it's indigestible," Highboy complained, "and it wasn't sweet.
I don't like it."

"Hurry!" Hortense cried, for at last they were at the bottom where they
could crawl through the door into the cellar.

Grater was so close that his hand was upon Hortense's foot. She jerked
herself free and in a flash was up the cellar stairs and in the
kitchen.

Malay Kris turned indignantly to Hortense.

"Why didn't you let me at him?" he demanded.

There was time for no further words. Grater was upon them, and Malay
Kris, with a glad cry, hurled himself at his foe. It was a grand fight,
but short. Malay Kris bore Grater to the floor, locked fast in a deadly
embrace.

"Let me up!" said Grater in a weak, hoarse voice. "You're hurting me."

But Malay Kris, try as he might, could not do so. He had pinned his foe
to the floor so securely that he, himself, was stuck fast. Andy,
Highboy, and Hortense, all lent a hand but could not free him.

"Never mind," said Malay Kris, "I like the feel of this fellow and
don't mind staying all night."

Whatever would Grandfather say, Hortense wondered.

There was nothing to do but leave Malay Kris to enjoy his victim.
Hortense, after leading Andy out the door, ran up to her room with
Highboy, who said he was too excited to sleep and that he would compose
poetry all night. Hortense slept very well, however, and in the morning
when she began to dress remembered her charm.

"Give me my charm, Highboy," said she.

"In the top drawer," said Highboy.

Sure enough, there it was, and Hortense fastened it hastily about her
neck and ran down to breakfast, which wasn't ready.

"Aunt Esmerelda wouldn't cook breakfast this morning, and Mary is
preparing it," Grandmother explained.

"Aunt Esmerelda is afraid of spooks," said Grandfather, laughing.
"Indeed, I don't know how to explain it myself. What do you suppose we
found this morning? That Malay kris of which I told you, that hangs in
the parlor, was thrust through the grater and buried so deep in the
kitchen floor that Fergus and I could hardly get it out."

Mary, bringing breakfast, announced,

"Jeremiah's shut up somewhere again. We can hear his cries but can't
tell where he is."

"Not in the sofa again, I hope," said Grandfather.

"Not there," said Mary. "He sounds as if he were in the chimney."

"Impossible," said Grandfather. "But then, impossible things happen
every day in this house. We'll have breakfast first, at any rate."

After breakfast Grandfather, Fergus, and Uncle Jonah found the place in
the chimney where Jeremiah was caught and, knocking in a hole, let him
out.

Very dirty he was, all covered with soot, and very much ashamed. He
hurried away with lowered head and tail and didn't reappear until he
had cleaned his coat.

Even then he would not look at Hortense, try as she would to catch his
eye.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER VII

"_... there should be Little People up the mountain yonder...._"


"If you will come to tea at four o'clock, Fergus will tell you a story
of the Little People," said Mary to Hortense, adding as Hortense
hesitated a moment, "Bring Andy with you."

Hortense accepted gladly and ran to inform Andy of the invitation and
that nut cake with chocolate icing had been especially made for the
occasion.

At four o'clock Andy and Hortense, in their best bib and tucker and
with clean smiling faces, knocked at the door of the little cottage
beyond the orchard where lived Fergus and Mary.

The tea was all that could be asked for in variety and quantity, and it
was quite evident when Hortense and Andy had finished with it that if
they ate even a mouthful of supper later, they would be taking a grave
risk of bad dreams and castor oil.

Fergus lighted his pipe, drew his chair a little closer to the hearth,
and related the story of _Shamus the Harper_.

                     *      *      *      *      *

    You must know that a very long time ago, when many kings ruled
    Ireland, there lived a boy named Shamus. He was not, however, the
    son or grandson of a king, which was in itself a distinction. In
    fact, his father had a bit of a farm and a few sheep, and it was
    his intention that Shamus, likewise, should be a farmer and a
    raiser of sheep.

    Shamus, however, had other ideas. Being a shrewd lad, he saw early
    that men seldom made a fortune and won the good things of the world
    through toil and the sweat of their brows. Not at all! And Shamus
    loved an easy life only less than he loved to play upon the harp
    and sing songs of the old days, the wars of kings, and the love of
    beautiful women. He was always playing upon the harp when he should
    have been working in the fields and watching the sheep, and his
    father soon realized that the lad was fit for no honest work but
    was designed by nature only to be a harper and a maker of ballads.

    One day he said to his son, "Take your harp and go to the house of
    the King. Perhaps he may find a use for you, for sure it is you are
    of no use to me. When you have won gold and wear fine clothes,
    perhaps after long years you will return to see me in my old age,
    and I will think better of you."

    Shamus was glad at these words and, packing a few things in a bag
    and slinging his harp upon his back, off he went to the house of
    the King.

    It was a fine house with many servants and poor relations of the
    King, eating the bread of idleness. There were harpers, also, but
    as there can never be too many of them in the world, the King said
    to Shamus, "Play me a ballad of kings and wars, and the love of
    women, and, if the song be good, you shall stay with me and have
    little to do but make songs and sing them."

    Shamus did as he was told and sang a song which the King liked
    well, and accordingly the lad was given a fine coat and all he
    could eat and nothing to do, and he was content.

    Now, the King had a daughter who was as beautiful as the dawn. No
    sooner had Shamus set eyes upon her than he fell in love with her
    and resolved to win her as his wife, if she would have him and the
    King would consent. He made songs which he sang to her, and the
    Princess liked them. She grew fond of Shamus, who was a handsome
    lad.

    The King, however, after the way of kings and fathers, had other
    ideas and announced throughout the kingdom that the Princess should
    be the wife of him who was victorious in a quest, which was no
    other than to win from the King of the Little People the gold cup
    forever filled with good wine. No matter how much was drunk
    therefrom, the cup was never empty. The King chose this quest for
    the reason that he was very fond of good wine and could never get
    enough.

    Shamus, therefore, like many others, set out to win the gold cup
    from the King of the Little People. He slung his harp on his
    shoulder and put a bit of bread and meat in a bag to stay him on
    his journey, which promised to be long.

    Now, Shamus, having been reared in the country, knew that the
    Little People liked best to live in the hills and mountains. So to
    the mountains he went, making songs to lighten the long way. He
    made a song of running water, and of the wind in the trees, and of
    moonlight upon a grassy slope, and these he liked better than any
    songs he had yet composed.

    At last he came to the hills and mountains and set himself to watch
    for the Little People. Every moonlight night he sat by a green
    hill, hoping that the Little People would come forth to dance, as
    is their way, but never did he chance to see them, and he began to
    despair of finding them. Nevertheless he was not sad, for he had
    his harp, and the songs which came to him were beautiful, and he
    cared even more for these than for the love of the Princess. One
    day, as he sat in the woods playing upon his harp, he chanced to
    look up, and there drew near a beautiful creature upon a beautiful
    horse from whose mane hung many silver bells that chimed sweetly in
    the wind.

    "Play me a song if you are a harper," said she.

    He played her his song of running water, and she liked it well; he
    played his song of wind in the trees, which she liked yet better;
    and then he played his song of moonlight on a grassy slope.

    The beautiful creature clapped her hands.

    "Come with me to Elfland," said she, "for I am Queen of that place,
    and I will give you a coat of even cloth and make you a minstrel at
    my court. Have you the courage to do so?"

    "It is the one wish of my heart," said Shamus.

    Accordingly, up he mounted behind the Queen of Elfland and away
    flew her horse, the silver bells chiming in the wind.

    For three days and nights they flew, and Shamus saw the moon turn
    red and heard the roaring of the sea. At last they came to the
    Court of Elfland, where, on a golden throne, sat the King of the
    Little People, most brave and fierce, tugging at his beard.

    "What have we here?" he roared in a big voice. "Then let him play,"
    commanded he when the Queen of Elfland had spoken her word.

    Shamus played his three songs, and the King of the Little People no
    longer pulled at his beard but sat as one in a dream.

    "Those are good songs," said he at last. "Give him a coat of the
    even cloth, and he shall play to me when I desire."

    Accordingly, Shamus was given a fine green coat and became a
    minstrel at the court of the King of the Little People. So carefree
    was the life, and the food and wine so good, that the memory of his
    former life and of the beautiful Princess became as the memory of a
    dim and half-forgotten sorrow, and Shamus thought no more of
    returning to the world.

    One day, however, when he was recalling all his old songs to please
    the King, who, after the way of kings, was always hankering for
    something new, his fingers found a song of his childhood, one that
    carried him back to the days in his father's house. Then he also
    remembered other things, including the Princess and his love for
    her and the quest upon which he had started. His fingers fumbled
    with the strings, he could find no voice to sing further, and great
    tears rolled down his face and splashed on the ground.

    "Stop it!" commanded the King of the Little People, drawing his
    feet up under him for fear of the damp. "Why is it you weep such
    wet tears?"

    So Shamus told him the cause of his sorrow while the King plucked
    at his beard and looked wise. When Shamus had finished, the King
    said to him:

    "If I should give you the goblet that you seek and back you should
    go to the world, sorrowful would be your days and nightly would you
    lament the lost and beautiful years you have spent with me."

    "Nevertheless," said Shamus, "so it is, and I must live my life as
    it is ordered."

    "So be it," said the King. "I do not value the goblet a whit but I
    must, of course, lay upon you three tasks which you must perform
    before it is yours."

    "What are they?" Shamus asked.

    "First," said the King, "get me the magic dog that belongs to the
    King of the Gnomes and the sound of whose silver bell drives away
    all thought of sorrow."

    "Good," said Shamus, and away he went to seek the King of the
    Gnomes.

    After many days and adventures too numerous to relate, he came to
    the house of the King of the Gnomes, which was inside a mountain
    and as thickset with jewels as the grass with dew on a fine
    morning.

    Shamus told his desire and the King of the Gnomes ordered the dog
    to be brought. It was a tiny creature, and looking at its coat one
    way its color was gold, and looking at it another way its color was
    green, and underneath it was a fire red. Around its neck was a
    silver bell that chimed sweetly as it walked and at the sound of
    which all sorrow was forgotten.

    "'Tis a fine dog," said Shamus.

    "'Tis that." said the King, "and the sound of the bell is sweet,
    but one thing it will not do. Have you a wife?" said he.

    "I have not," said Shamus.

    The King looked at him long with envy in his eyes.

    "Some are born lucky in this world," said he. "Know that I have a
    wife whose tongue is like the roar of a waterfall day and night,
    save now and then when she takes a nap as she is now doing. Her
    talk drowns out the sound of the silver bell and drives me nearly
    mad. Make her cease her clatter, and the dog is yours."

    Just then there was a great noise and out came the Queen, talking
    thirteen to the dozen. The King clapped his fingers to his ears,
    and the magic dog put his tail between his legs and crawled under
    the throne. The King said never a word, but his glance said plain
    as day, "Isn't it as I said?"

    So Shamus took his harp and began to play his song of running
    water. At first he could not make himself heard, but after a while,
    as he played, the Queen's talk came slower and slower, and softer
    and softer, and by and by she was speechless.

    Then Shamus began to walk slowly away, and the Queen followed. On
    and on he walked until he came to a stream. In the middle was a
    stone. Around it foamed the white water. Onto the stone leapt
    Shamus, still playing. The Queen stood on the bank and wrung her
    hands, and then with a shriek she threw herself in and was swept
    away in the white water.

    Shamus leapt back to the bank where stood the King much pleased.

    "The dog is yours," said he, "and a good bargain I've made. The
    silence," he said, "will be like honey on the tongue. Now and
    then," he said, "I'll likely come to the stream and drop in a bit
    of a stone. It roars louder than it did, don't you think?"

    And indeed it did so, for the Queen's voice was going still and has
    never since stopped.

    Shamus took the little dog under his arm and carried him back to
    the King of the Little People.

    "So far so good," said the King. "Next, bring me the magic
    blackbird who sings so sweetly for the King of the Forest."

    Off went Shamus again, this time to the forest, where he found the
    King sitting under an oak tree.

    "What do you here?" said the King, and Shamus told him.

    "I'll not part with the bird," said the King, "although I'm a bit
    tired of his song. It's too sweet," said he, "and I prefer the
    cawing of crows and the croaking of ravens. However, it is much
    admired by others, and therefore I shall keep him."

    He ordered the bird to be brought and bade it sing, which it did
    most beautifully.

    "His high notes are a bit hoarse to-day," said the King. "I've
    heard him do better."

    The bird cast him a murderous glance, and Shamus, who was a singer
    himself, felt sore at heart that a good song should receive so
    little praise. However, he kept his thoughts to himself, which he
    had found a good practice when dealing with kings.

    Also, he stayed to supper with the King and afterwards sang and
    played, the King every now and then breaking in with a word to say
    how it should be done.

    "You do not badly for a beginner," said he when Shamus had
    finished.

    Shamus could have slain him where he stood for those ungracious
    words, but he bided his time, pretending to be well-pleased.

    When all were asleep that night, Shamus slipped from his bed and
    went into the woods where he began to play softly his song of the
    wind in the trees. Louder and louder he played, and sure enough,
    the blackbird soon came and perched on a tree near by. When he had
    done, the bird said, "It is a pleasure to hear a song well-played."

    "Sorry was I to hear the words of the King when you sang so sweetly
    before him," replied Shamus.

    "Little he knows of songs," retorted the bird, "and I'm thinking
    I'll go where I'll be appreciated."

    "Then come with me," said Shamus. "There are kings and kings, and
    some are better than others."

    So he told him of the King of the Little People and of the good
    things that came to those who sang for him.

    "I'll go with you," answered the bird.

    Quietly they slipped away lest the King of the Forest surprise
    them, and back they went to the King of the Little People.

    "Good again," acknowledged the King, and he commanded the bird to
    sing.

    "I'm almost minded to let you off the third task," the King
    exclaimed, "but a vow is a vow and must not be broken. Bring me
    last the hare that dances by moonlight."

    Shamus went off a third time and traveled until he came to a fine
    grassy slope, and there he awaited the full moon. Sure enough, as
    he lay hidden, out came the hare and began to dance, leaping and
    bounding and playing with his shadow.

    Then Shamus began to play, softly at first and then louder and
    louder. Higher and faster danced the hare to the music and when it
    was done he sat down, panting, on the grass.

    "It is a good song, and never have I danced so well," exclaimed he.

    "And never," said Shamus, "have I seen such wonderful dancing."

    "Thank you for that," rejoined the hare. "It is not often that I
    get an audience which can appreciate me, and you know yourself that
    a bit of praise helps wonderfully to make one do his best."

    "'Tis so," said Shamus. "A word of praise is meat and drink to one
    who sings--or dances," he added remembering the hare.

    Shamus told the hare of the King of the Little People and the good
    things at his court.

    "Belike he'd have a bit of a carrot or a patch of good clover,"
    said the hare wistfully.

    "That he would," Shamus returned heartily. "Come with me and I'll
    show you."

    "I'll do it," said the hare, and off they went to the King of the
    Little People.

    "You have done all that I asked," said the King, "and do you still
    wish to return to the world?"

    "It is my fate to do so," said Shamus.

    "So be it," said the King, "but long will you lament the day. It is
    easier to go than to return. However, I'm not saying that some day
    you may not come back to me, for I like you well."

    The King gave Shamus the magic goblet and ordered that he be borne
    from Elfland, and Shamus returned to the world.

    With the goblet in his pocket and his harp slung over his shoulder,
    he made his way to the court of the King and the Princess. On the
    throne sat an old woman, and the faces of those around were strange
    to him.

    "Who are you?" she asked.

    Shamus told her the story of his wanderings and produced the
    goblet.

    "Where is the Princess?" he inquired.

    At these words the old Queen upon the throne burst into loud
    weeping.

    "Long have you been gone, Shamus," said she. "It is seven times
    seven years since you left me. And now I am old, and you are as you
    were. It is too late!"

    To Shamus, the time passed in Elfland had been no more than a year,
    and his heart was sorrowful as he turned away without a word.

    "Belike my father is dead," said he as he bent his steps toward
    home.

    There he also found new faces and was given the word that his
    father had been dead this many a year. In sorrow Shamus turned
    away, making sad songs to comfort his heart.

    Thus he wandered through the world, finding no place where he could
    rest. His songs were sad and all who heard them wept, but he was
    not unhappy, for there is a certain pleasure in even a sad song.

    Yet always he longed for Elfland and the ways of the Little People,
    and the sound of the bell on the magic dog, whose chime brings
    forgetfulness of all sorrow. Try as he would, he could never find
    the way, and he knew that it was because his songs were sad and he
    was no longer young at heart.

    Older he grew with white hair and feeble step, and one day he was
    weary and sat himself down in a wood to rest. He sat there,
    thinking of his lost youth and the sad ways of the world, longing
    to die.

    As he lamented, his fingers plucked his harp and he played again
    his best songs, those of running water, and the sound of wind in
    the trees, and of moonlight on a grassy slope.

    His heart grew young within him as he played, and when he rose to
    his feet, the dimness of age fell away from his eyes. Before him
    stood the Queen of the Little People, as she had stood long before.

    "Will you come with me, Shamus?" said she.

    "Alas," said he, "I am now too old."

    "Your songs are young," said she, "and you are young again in
    heart. Come with me, where you may be young forever and play glad
    songs."

    Shamus mounted up behind on the beautiful horse, away they flew,
    and that was the last ever seen of him upon earth.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Hortense and Andy sat silent a moment as Fergus looked at them with his
merry blue eyes.

"I wish there were still Little People," said Hortense with a sigh.

"Perhaps there are," said Fergus. "Who knows?"

"Have you ever seen them?" Andy demanded.

"Not of late," Fergus admitted, "but when I was a young lad in Ireland
I saw them many a time."

"But not here?" said Hortense.

"It's because I'm old, not because they're not about," said Fergus. "To
young eyes there should be Little People up the mountain yonder on a
fine moonlight night."

Andy and Hortense looked at each other as though to say, "We'll find
out, won't we?" which was indeed what both of them were thinking.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER VIII

"_The sky was lemon colored, and the trees were dark red._"


Uncle Jonah had declared he would trounce Andy if ever he found him in
the orchard or the barn, but as Uncle Jonah was very rheumatic and had
to hobble about his work, it seemed unlikely that he would ever catch
Andy, who was as fleet as a squirrel. It was a fine game, however, to
pretend that Uncle Jonah was "after them," and so Andy and Hortense ran
and hid whenever Uncle Jonah came in sight.

One afternoon they were seated in the grape arbor enjoying the early
grapes, which were forbidden, when Uncle Jonah suddenly appeared. The
only way to escape was through the vines and lattice, a tight squeeze,
and Uncle Jonah nearly had them.

"I seed yo'," Uncle Jonah called, "an' I's gwine tell yo' Gran'pap."

Andy and Hortense ran as if possessed. Into the barn they went and up
into the haymow where they were usually safe, but as they lay panting
on the hay, Uncle Jonah entered the barn, grumbling to himself.

Andy and Hortense lay as still as mice. Uncle Jonah was with the
horses. They could hear the slap of his hand upon their fat backs and
his, "Steady now, quit yo' foolin'."

"Done et all yo' hay, have yo'? Spec's dis po' niggah to climb dose
staihs and tho' down some mo'? I ain't gwine do it, no suh."

Nevertheless, soon Andy and Hortense heard Uncle Jonah's step on the
stairs and they gazed at each other in fright.

"Where shall we hide?" Hortense gasped.

"Slide down the hay chute and into the manger," said Andy quickly. "The
horses won't bite, and we can get away before Uncle Jonah comes down."

In a moment they were at the chute and, holding to the edge, dropped
down, Andy first and Hortense on top. Andy scrambled through the hole
into the manger and Hortense after him, but the hole was small, and
Hortense plump, and it was only by hard squeezing that she got through
at all.

Once in the manger, it was only a moment before they were out from
under the velvety noses of the horses and had slipped past them through
the stall. They ran out of the barn and to the kitchen where they
secured an unusually large supply of cookies; then hurried to the nook
in the shrubbery beside the basement window that led to the furnace, a
good place to hide.

They ate cooky for cooky until they had eaten ten apiece, when they
stopped to rest a bit. Hortense was still warm and unbuttoned her
collar. As she did so, she was conscious of missing something and felt
again carefully.

"I've lost my charm," she said hurriedly.

"Perhaps it slipped down inside," Andy suggested.

Hortense felt of herself but could not find it.

"I must have lost it going down the hay chute," she said. "I know I had
it in the haymow. It must have come off when I squeezed through. Dear
me, if I should lose it!"

"We'll find it when Uncle Jonah goes away from the barn," Andy consoled
her.

They attacked the remaining cookies.

"I wonder how many cookies I could eat," said Andy dreamily as they
began their thirteenth.

"I've had most enough," said Hortense taking another bite.

Then she began to feel very strange. Everything about her seemed to
grow larger and larger, except Andy. The entrance to the basement
seemed as wide as the barn door; the lilac bush over her head looked as
big as an oak tree, and the piece of cooky in her hand as big as a
dinner plate.

"What's happened to us?" Andy asked.

"I believe," said Hortense, "that we've grown small, or everything else
big. I don't know which."

"How'll we ever grow big again?" Andy asked.

"We won't worry about that now," said Hortense practically. "It'll be
lots of fun to be small. We can hide so nobody can find us and surprise
people. I believe I could climb right into one of Highboy's drawers, or
even into the jar where Grandpa keeps his tobacco."

"Mother'll never be able to find me when she wants me to weed the
garden," said Andy hopefully.

Hortense's eyes grew wide, and she looked at Andy with a great idea in
her eyes.

"What is it?" Andy asked.

"Now we can go through the little door and down the shining tunnel!"
said Hortense.

It was so bright an idea that they wondered they hadn't thought of it
sooner.

"But we're so small, how'll we ever get to the bottom of the chute?
It'll be twice as high as we are."

Hortense hadn't thought of this difficulty.

"We can't go through the kitchen either, for we might be seen," said
she. "Besides, the kitchen steps would be too high for us."

Andy was thinking.

"If we could find a long enough stick, we could carry it with us; then
we could slide down it. After that it would be easy."

So they hunted for a stick and finally found one that looked as if it
would do, but it was all they could do to get it into the basement
opening. Once in, however, it was easily pulled down the chute to the
edge of the drop below. Andy and Hortense lowered it carefully until
the end rested on the bottom.

"Hooray," said Andy. "It's long enough."

And climbing onto it, he slid down and was soon out of sight.

"All right," he shouted a moment later, "I'm down."

Hortense then took hold, and with Andy steadying the stick at the
bottom, she soon slid down and stood behind him.

Hand in hand they ran down the dark passage that led to the little
door. It seemed a long way, and when they arrived, the little door
seemed as big as any ordinary door. Andy pulled at the latch and swung
it open, and there before them was the shining tunnel that curved out
of sight. They stood a moment looking at it.

"Where do you suppose it goes?" Andy asked.

"It must go to the Little People," said Hortense. "Nobody else could
use it."

"We'll find out, at any rate," said Andy, and together they ran down
it.

It curved and curved and grew brighter and brighter as they ran, always
a little downhill.

"I believe there's no end to it," said Hortense after they had gone
what seemed a long way.

"There must be," said Andy. "Why I believe this is the end, and it's
raining."

They came into what seemed to be a large cave whose roof was high above
them, and from the roof water was dripping as fast and as thick as
rain. The cave was as bright as moonshine and the drops sparkled as
they fell. Through the falling drops, far on the other side of the
cave, they saw a bright opening like the one through which they had
come.

"We must run across," said Hortense, and hand in hand they dashed
through the rain and into the little tunnel which was just like the one
they had left, except that it began to slope up instead of down and
soon was quite steep. As they paused for breath after climbing a long
distance, Hortense, who had been thinking hard, said to Andy, "Do you
know, I believe the cave with the falling water was under the brook,
and now on this side we are going up the inside of the mountain."

"Perhaps we will come out in the cave where the Little People live,"
said Andy. "At least Fergus thinks they live there."

They hurried on, hoping that Andy's guess might be right, but when at
last they reached the end of the passage and unlatched a little door
exactly like that through which they had entered, they came out neither
upon the mountain side nor in a cave, but in a strange country such as
they had never seen before. The sky was lemon colored and the trees
were dark red.

Before them, in the distance, was a little house with a steep roof and
a pointed chimney. As they drew closer, they saw two windows in the
end, set close together like a pair of eyes. Andy and Hortense walked
slowly towards it, hand in hand. It was in a little garden surrounded
by a hedge of cat-tails and hollyhocks.

"I never saw a hedge of cat-tails before," said Andy, and indeed it
looked very odd.

There was a little gate, and through it Andy and Hortense entered the
garden. Nobody was to be seen nor was there any sound. Andy and
Hortense, coming closer, peeked through a window. They could see a fire
on the hearth and a tall clock in the corner, but no person was
visible.

"Let's go in." said Andy, and Hortense, agreeing, followed him around
the corner to a little door which was unlatched.

Nobody was in the room, which had three chairs, a table, the clock
which they had seen through the window, and in the corner a great jar,
taller than they were, with _Cookies_ printed in large letters on
the outside.

"Dear me, what a large cooky jar," said Hortense. "I'd like to look
in."

But Andy could not reach the top to remove the cover, try as he would.
He stood on a chair to do so and though he could now reach the cover,
it was too heavy for him to budge.

Hortense, meanwhile, was looking about her to see what she could see,
and as she did so her eyes fell on something familiar. In a glass case
on the mantel was the monkey charm which she had lost in the barn.
Hortense examined it closely to be sure that it was the same. Yes,
there was the very link in the chain which she had noticed before
because it was more tarnished than the others--and there was a broken
link. She must have caught it as she slipped through the hay chute into
the manger.

Hortense tried to reach the glass case but could not. She stood on a
chair, but there was no apparent way of removing the glass. Tug as she
and Andy might, the glass would not move.

"We might break the glass," Andy suggested.

"You cannot break it," said the old Clock suddenly.

"Why, it's exactly like our clock at home!" said Hortense. "I believe
it's the same one. However could it have gotten here?"

"Time is the same here and everywhere, now and forever," said the
Clock. "You cannot get away from time."

"Time isn't the same," said Hortense. "There are slow times and times
when everything goes fast."

"It's only because you think so," said the Clock. "I go precisely the
same at all times."

"When I'm asleep, where does time go?" Hortense asked. "The night goes
in no time."

"Of course, in no time things are different," said the Clock. "I was
speaking of time, not of no time."

Hortense puzzled over this, for it didn't seem right somehow.

"Well, no matter about that," said Hortense. "Tell us whose house this
is--that's the important thing just now."

"Couldn't you tell whose house it is by looking at it?" asked the
Clock. "I should think anybody could."

"It looks like something I've seen before," said Hortense, "but I can't
remember what."

Then suddenly she did remember.

"It's the Cat's house!" said she. "And it has my charm!"

"Just so," said the Clock. "If I were you, I'd go away at once."

It seemed excellent advice, and Andy and Hortense turned to obey, but
as they did so, in walked Jeremiah, a Jeremiah that seemed as big as a
lion.

"Well, well," said Jeremiah in a purring voice, "if this isn't Andy and
Hortense. I didn't think I'd find you here. How small you've grown!"

"I didn't look to find you here," said Hortense severely, "You should
be at home where you belong."

But Jeremiah only smiled at this and yawned, showing his great sharp
teeth. Then he stretched and sharpened his claws on the floor. His
claws tore up great splinters with a noise like that of a sawmill, and
Andy and Hortense were very much frightened.

"Let us past," Hortense said in a brave voice which trembled a little.

Jeremiah only blinked his great green eyes and smiled a little, very
unpleasantly.

Hortense and Andy looked at the windows, but these were fastened tight,
and Jeremiah, besides, was looking at them from his lazy green eyes.

"Don't go just yet," Jeremiah purred in a voice that shook the house.
"It wouldn't be polite to hurry away. Besides, my friend Grater would
be disappointed."

Andy and Hortense, being now but ten or twelve inches tall, had even
less wish to see Grater than formerly. Hortense was aware of a sinking
feeling in her stomach.

The door flew open and in walked Grater, and very large and rough he
looked. Where Malay Kris had run him through, he wore a large patch of
pink court-plaster. His eyes fell upon Andy and Hortense and a wide and
wicked smile appeared upon his unhandsome countenance.

"Well, well," said Grater in his rough voice, "if here aren't our
little friends. We must urge them to stay with us. Jeremiah, put these
nice plump children in the cooky jar for future use."

[Illustration: "Jeremiah, put these nice plump children in the cooky
jar," said Grater in his rough voice.]

With two steps Grater was across the room, and he removed the cover of
the jar.

"In with them, Jeremiah," said Grater, and Jeremiah, rising lazily,
took first Andy and then Hortense by the collar and dropped them into
the jar. The top came down with a clatter, and Hortense and Andy were
in the dark.

The jar was empty and the sides were smooth as glass.

"Stand on my back," said Andy, "and see if you can reach the cover."

Though Hortense could just reach it, it was far too heavy for her to
move.

"It wouldn't be of any use," said Hortense. "They'd catch us again even
if we did get out."

So they sat quiet for a long time. Hortense felt like crying, but
managed not to. After a time she became hungry and put her hand in her
pocket. There was a large piece of cooky which she had put there when
she began to grow small and had completely forgotten.

"I have a piece of cooky," said she, breaking it in two and giving Andy
half.

"If we eat any more, we may grow still smaller," said Andy.

"I don't care, I'm hungry," said Hortense. "Besides, if we grow very
small perhaps the Cat won't see us when he looks into the jar--or we'll
be too small to eat, at any rate."

It seemed a slim chance, but Hortense took a bite of cooky and waited
to see what would happen.

"I'm not growing smaller," said she. "I do believe I'm growing bigger!"

She stood up quickly.

"I can reach the top," said she.

Andy stood up, too.

"I'm still growing," said Hortense. "Quick. We must get out before the
jar is too small for us, or we'll be squeezed in and can't get out."

Together they pushed as hard as they could. The top of the jar fell off
with a loud crash and Andy and Hortense scrambled over the edge, just
in time, for they were growing bigger very fast.

The room was empty and dark except for the fire on the hearth.

"Hello," said the Clock, "is it you again? Better run while you have a
chance!"

Andy and Hortense obeyed without a word, and hand in hand they ran
through the door, into the garden, and out of the gate.

"We can't go back the way we came," said Hortense, panting, after they
had run a long distance. "We're too big now."

"There must be another way out," said Andy.

So they ran on and on, through the trees.

"What a funny light it is," said Hortense, stopping at last and looking
up. "I do believe the moon is blue here."

So it was--a blue moon in a lemon colored sky.

"I've heard of blue moons," said Hortense. "They must be very rare."

"They're rather nice," said Andy, "but I suppose we'd better not
linger."

"Here's a path," said Hortense.

They ran along the path, which grew darker and darker, until they came
to a gate on which was a sign printed in large letters. By peering
close, Andy and Hortense could just make out the words:

    PRIVATE PROPERTY
    NO TRESPASSING

"We have to go through, whosesoever it is," said Hortense,
determinedly, and unlatching the gate through they went.

The path grew darker and smaller, walled on each side by rock. Soon
they had to crawl on their hands and knees.

"I don't believe we can get out this way," Hortense said at last.

"Yes, we can," said Andy, who was in front. "I see light ahead."

Sure enough, out they soon came into yellow moonlight, such as they had
always known. They were upon a large flat rock. Below them was a steep
tree-covered slope, and at the bottom lights twinkled.

"It's the side of the mountain," said Hortense, "and that's the house
way down there. How'll we ever get there?"

"We'll have to go down the mountain side," said Andy. "Do you know," he
added, "I believe this is the very spot which Fergus pointed out to us?
Maybe the Little People come here. Shall we hide and see?"

"Let's," agreed Hortense.

They hid in the shadow of a tree by the edge of the rock and waited,
not making a sound.

The moon rose higher over the mountain until the rock was almost as
light as day, but still no one appeared.

"Let's go home," said Hortense at last in a sleepy voice.

But Andy, who was listening with alert ears, whispered.

"Hush, I hear something."

Hortense, too, listened and at last heard a faint sweet sound from
within the mountain. Nearer and nearer it came, to the very mouth of
the cave. Then appeared a band of Little People in green coats and red
caps, each with a white feather at the side.

They marched slowly, a band of musicians at the head playing upon tiny
instruments which made high, sweet music no louder than the shrilling
of gnats. Following the musicians came the King and Queen with little
gold crowns on their heads and wearing robes with trains borne by
pages. Then came eight stout fellows carrying two golden thrones which
they placed on a little eminence.

The King and Queen seated themselves, and the fairy band, after
marching once around the rock, formed in a hollow circle. The King
clapped his hands and rose, whereupon the musicians ceased playing, and
there was complete silence. The King was taller than the others by half
a head; his beard was long and tawny, and his presence royal. Said the
King:

"The moon is high and the night still. It is a fitting time and place
for our revels. Let the musicians play."

The musicians struck up a slow stately dance, and the King, taking the
Queen by the hand, advanced to the middle of the circle and with her
stepped a minuet. When the music ceased, all the Little People clapped
their hands in applause, and the King and Queen reseated themselves,
smiling graciously.

"The rabbit-step," commanded the King, and immediately the musicians
began so lively a tune that Andy and Hortense found it difficult not to
join in, which would have spoiled everything. At once, all the Little
People began to skip like rabbits, in the moonlight. Around and around
they went, dancing like mad, and Hortense and Andy grew dizzy watching
them.

Again the music changed, and the Little People danced a square dance,
after which they formed in rings within rings and whirled around faster
and faster until they seemed only rollicking circles of green in which
not one face could be distinguished from another.

A shadow as of a cloud fell upon the dancing Little People, and
Hortense, looking up, saw what seemed to be a dark spot on the moon.
Larger and larger it grew until she could distinguish it to be a pair
of horses ridden by figures only too familiar.

"It's Jeremiah and Grater!" she whispered to Andy.

The fairy King had also seen. Suddenly he clapped his hands and the
music and dancing ceased.

"Away!" the King shouted, and in a twinkling not a fairy was to be
seen. The shadow grew larger and larger until it wholly obscured the
moon. Then in a twinkling the horses came to earth and stood panting,
with drooping heads.

"Why, it's Tom and Jerry!" said Hortense to herself, being careful not
to make a sound.

Jeremiah and Grater dismounted.

"Well," said Jeremiah lazily, "I was sure we'd never catch them this
way. You'll have to lie in wait and pounce on them."

"You and your mousing tricks!" said Grater contemptuously.

But Jeremiah only yawned.

"There's a cooky jar at home with something in it," he reminded Grater.
"Let's go."

With a bound Jeremiah and Grater mounted their weary steeds, and in a
moment they were out of sight over the tree tops.

"Did you ever!" exclaimed Hortense.

"I think we'd better go home," Andy suggested.

Accordingly, they struck down the steep mountain side and soon were at
the foot, where ran the brook.

"We'll have to wade," said Andy.

They plunged in and across, and with wet shoes and stockings, ran
across the pasture, through the orchard to the house.

"It's late. Whatever will they think!" said Hortense.

"I'm going straight to bed without being seen," said Andy.

It seemed the only thing to do, so Hortense stole quietly in and up the
dark stairs to her room.

"Where have you been?" Highboy demanded when she had shut the door.
"You've been looked for everywhere."

Hortense was too sleepy to reply, and in the morning no one questioned
her, for Uncle Jonah had a sorry tale to tell of the horses, who lay in
their stalls too tired to move, their manes and tails in elflocks, and
their flanks mud stained.

"Dey's hoodooed," said Uncle Jonah, shaking his head.

To this, Grandfather made no answer but looked puzzled, and Hortense,
who could have told him how it all happened, didn't know how to begin;
so said nothing.



CHAPTER IX

"_Tell us a story about a hoodoo, Uncle Jonah,_"--


Andy had driven Tom and Jerry in from the upper pasture for Uncle
Jonah, who was forced to admit that Andy wasn't so bad a boy as he had
thought. It seemed a good time, therefore, to ask Uncle Jonah about the
hoodoo.

"What is the hoodoo, Uncle Jonah?" Hortense asked.

"How come yo' 'quire 'bout dat?" Uncle Jonah asked. "Ah dunno nuffin'
'bout no hoodoo."

"You said Tom and Jerry were hoodooed," said Andy and Hortense
together.

"Jes' foolish talk," said Uncle Jonah.

"Tell us a story about a hoodoo, Uncle Jonah," Hortense begged.

"Ah don' know nuffin' 'cept about Lijah Jones an' old Aunt Maria," said
he at last.

"Tell us that," said Andy and Hortense together.

Uncle Jonah put a coal from the fire in the palm of his hand, and while
Andy and Hortense watched breathlessly to see whether he would burn
himself, he slowly lighted his corncob pipe. Then he began.

                     *      *      *      *      *

    One mawnin' dis yere Lijah Jones was a-traipsin' along when he met
    Aunt Maria.

    "Mawnin'," says Lijah, keerless like, "yo' been a hoodooin' any one
    lately, Aunt Maria?"

    Dis yere Aunt Maria, she got a bad name and Lijah know it. Aunt
    Maria, she stopped an' looked kinder hard at Lijah.

    "Huh," she says, "Don' yo' fool wid me, niggah."

    Lijah, he step along faster, not sayin' nothin' but feelin' kinda
    oneasy. He wisht he ain't said dem words.

    Dat evenin' Lijah come back fum town wid some co'n meal an' a side
    o' bacon. As he come thu the woods by Aunt Maria's cabin, he kinda
    shivered 'cose it wuz gettin' late an' de owl wuz a-hootin'. Dey
    wan't no light in Aunt Maria's cabin, but dey wuz a little fiah in
    de back yah'd, an' Lijah, he seed some one a-stoopin' ovah it.
    Lijah wuz dat curyus he crep' roun' de co'nah of de cabin an' stuck
    his head out. Sho'nuf, dey wuz Aunt Maria a-stirrin' a big black
    pot an' a-croonin' somefin' dat make Lijah tremmle lak a leaf. He
    don' make out wat she say 'cept, "Hoodoo Lijah Jones."

    Dat was 'nuf, an' Lijah, he crep' away quiet an' hurry home
    thoughtful-like. He don' believe in no hoodoo, but he wuz oneasy.
    Dat night he say nuffin' 'bout it to his wife, but he go to bed
    early.

    Bambye he wake up. Dey wuz a kinda noise goin' on by de ba'n, but
    Lijah, he ain't got no likin' fo' to get up an' see wat's de
    mattah. So he tu'n ovah, an' bambye he ain't heah no mo' noise, an'
    he go to sleep ag'in.

    In de mawnin' w'en he go to milk de cow, sho'nuf dey wuz a hawg
    a-lyin' on its side, daid. Lijah, he scratch his haid an' tu'n de
    hawg ovah wid his foot. He don' know what happened to it, but he
    kinda s'picioned.

    De nex' day w'en he wuz a-goin' down de road, 'long comes Aunt
    Maria ag'in.

    "Mawnin'," says Aunt Maria.

    "Mawnin'," says Lijah, kinda scaihed-like.

    Dat was all dey said. Aunt Maria, she laugh an' go 'long, an'
    Lijah, he don' lak de soun'.

    Dat night nuffin' happen, an' Lijah, he feel bettah. But de nex'
    night Lijah wake up ag'in an' heah somefin', an' sho'nuf in de
    mawnin' bof his mules wuz dat wo'n out lak dey been a-runnin' in de
    mud all night, dat he cain't do no wuk wid 'em.

    Lijah, he kinda desprit wid dis, an' so dat night he don' go to bed
    but sit up an' hide in de ba'n. Sho'nuf, 'bout twelve o'clock 'long
    comes somefin', an' quicker'n nothin' bof dem mules wuz out'n dey
    stalls an' away down de road. Lijah, he reckon he seed somefin'
    a-ridin' em, an' he know mighty well wat it wuz.

    In de mawnin' bof de mules was back ag'in, wo'n out, wid dey eahs
    droopin', and ag'in Lijah, he cain't do no wuk.

    Dat night he don' set up 'cose 'tain't no use. But he wek' up
    sudden an' heah somefin' a-sayin', "Go to de ole house by de swamp
    and mebbe yo' fin' somefin'."

    In de mawnin' he membah wat he heah an' he feel brave an' sco'nful,
    but dat night he don' feel so brave 'cause he knowed 'bout dat
    house. Nobody live in it but ha'nts, an' he don' like ha'nts nohow.

    Howsomevah he made up his min' t'go, an' 'bout nightfall he fin'
    his way to de ole house by de swamp. It mighty lonely deh and
    Lijah, he tremmle a bit. He strike a match an' look 'roun'. On de
    table dey wuz a lamp, an' Lijah, he light de lamp an' feel a heap
    bettah.

    Den he set deh a long time, an' all he heah wuz de hootin' of de
    owls and de crickets a-chirpin' in de grass. Lijah, he drowse a
    bit. Bambye he open his eyes an' deh, across de table, wuz a big
    black cat a-settin' an' lookin' at him.

    Lijah, he don' say nothin' an' de cat say nothin', jes' look outa'
    his big green eyes. Bambye de lamp, it go down an' den it flame up
    bright, an' Lijah, he look at de cat an' he think it biggah dan
    befo'. De cat, it riz up and stretch an' it seem powahful big.

    Lijah, he riz up, too.

    "What fo' yo' goin'?" say de cat.

    "Ah bleeged to go home," say Lijah, an' he out's thu dat doh
    quicker'n nothin' wid de cat aftah him. Lijah, he run fo' his life.
    Bambye he catched up wid a rabbit a-lopin' along.

    "Outa' my way, rabbit," sez Lijah, "an' let somebody run wat kin
    run."

    An' all de time dat cat kep' right aftah him, an' he mos' feel its
    claws on his back.

    Lijah was nigh wo'n out w'en he come to his house. He opens the doh
    quick an' slams it shut; den he heahs de cat a-scratchin' on de doh
    an kinda' sniffin' 'bout, an' Lijah, he lays down on de bed plumb
    wo'n out.

    In de mawnin' he tell his wife all 'bout it. She sez nothin' fo' a
    while but jes' set a-figgerin'. Den she sez, "Yo' one fool, niggah.
    Go an' kill de bes' hawg an' cut him up. Den yo' take one side to
    Aunt Maria an' be mighty perlite."

    Lijah, he don' like dis nohow, but he done what his wife tole him.
    He tote dat side of hawg to Aunt Maria, an' she smile wicked when
    she see him comin'.

    "I brung yo' a side of nice hawg what I jes' kill't," says he
    perlite.

    "I sho's mighty bleeged," sez Aunt Maria. "I kin use a bit of hawg
    meat. An' how is yo' gittin' 'long?"

    "Not very good," sez Lijah. "Ah don' seem to have no luck."

    "Mebbe yo' luck will change," says Aunt Maria, smilin'-like.

    An' sho'nuf, Lijah, he don' have no bad luck no mo'. But he wuz
    allays perlite aftah dat, an' he don' say nothin' disrespectfu'
    'bout hoodoos an' ha'nts.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Hortense sat thoughtfully.

"We don't know anybody to give anything to because of Tom and Jerry,"
said she.

Uncle Jonah moved uneasily.

"I reckon we jes' gotta wait an' see whut happens," said he. "I don'
know nothin' 'bout it, an' I ain't gwine mix up wid it. Yo' tek my
advice and keep clear uv 'em."



CHAPTER X

"_Ride, ride, ride
For the world is fair and wide._"


Andy and Hortense were planning what they should do next, for it was
certain that they must go back to the Cat's house and secure the monkey
charm, if they could. Also, they wished very much to see the Little
People again, dancing on the rock in the moonlight.

"If we hide in the barn, perhaps we can see Grater and Jeremiah ride
away on Tom and Jerry," said Hortense.

"But what good will that do?" Andy asked.

"Let's take every one along--Alligator, and Malay Kris, and Highboy,
and Lowboy, and Coal and Ember, and Owl. Perhaps we'll think of
something. Or maybe Alligator will swallow Grater!"

"It doesn't do any good for Alligator to swallow anything," said Andy.
"It's always found in the sofa in the morning anyhow."

"Grandfather might know what to do with it," said Hortense. "And
perhaps it would go away."

Andy had nothing better to propose and so it was agreed to do as
Hortense suggested. That evening, when all was dark and silent,
Hortense gathered every one in the parlor and told them the plan.

"It doesn't sound very definite," Owl grumbled.

"Suggest something then," said Hortense sharply.

But Owl only looked wise and said nothing.

Hortense found it quite difficult to hide all her companions in the
barn. Owl, because his eyes were so bright, was made to go up in the
loft and look down through a knot hole in the floor; Highboy and
Lowboy, hand in hand, stood behind a door; Coal and Ember crouched in a
corner, and Hortense told them that if they growled she would never
take them out again. Alligator merely lay on the floor and, unless one
looked close or felt his rough skin, one would never have guessed who
he was. Malay Kris, who was slim and not easily seen, crouched beside
the stalls, and Andy and Hortense covered themselves with some old
empty sacks beside the wall where they could see and not be seen.

They lay hidden a long time, and nothing happened. Now and then some
one moved or made a little noise, and Hortense said, "Hush!" After that
they would remain quiet for a time.

The moon rose late, and its light slowly crept across the floor until
it fell upon Malay Kris, who moved a little way into the shadow again.
Andy and Hortense, under the old sacks, were uncomfortably warm and
very stiff from lying so long in one position.

"I don't believe they are going to come at all," said Hortense in a low
voice to Andy.

"Doesn't look like it," agreed Andy.

Then they lay quiet again.

Suddenly they heard a squeal from behind the barn. It made Hortense
jump.

"It's only one of the pigs," Andy whispered.

Alligator had heard, too. They saw him raise his head; then slowly
crawl towards the door.

"Come back!" Hortense commanded in a fierce whisper.

But Alligator paid no heed. He crawled through the doorway and
disappeared.

"I'll never bring him again," Hortense whispered, much vexed. "He's
always doing things he shouldn't and getting us into trouble."

She had no sooner said the words than another quick squeal came from
behind the barn, and then silence.

"He's swallowed the pig," said Andy.

It seemed probable, indeed, that he had done so, but they saw no more
of Alligator and didn't dare go out to look for him.

Hortense must have taken a brief nap after that, for suddenly she
became aware of Jeremiah standing in the doorway. He had come so
quietly that she hadn't heard him at all.

He stood there a moment, his back arched and his tail waving--his great
green eyes roving about the barn. Then, with a tiny sound, appeared
Grater. Tom and Jerry, in their stalls, began to tremble. Grater
laughed unpleasantly and chanted in a rough voice:

    _Ride, ride, ride
    For the world is fair and wide.
    The moon shines bright
    On a magic night,
    And Tom and Jerry
    Are able very
    To ride, ride, ride._

With one bound Grater and Jeremiah were on the backs of the horses, and
in a twinkling the horses were out of their stalls and running toward
the door. Quick as they were, Malay Kris was almost as swift. In a
flash he hurled himself at Grater, grazed him, and stuck deep in the
wall, where he quivered and grew still.

"Missed!" Malay Kris said bitterly.

Andy and Hortense, with open mouths, watched the horses and riders grow
smaller and smaller against the moon, and finally disappear.

"Did you ever!" Hortense gasped at last.

Hortense and Andy crawled out from under their sacks and found the rest
of their band. Highboy and Lowboy, hand in hand, were leaning against
the wall, fast asleep, and had seen nothing at all. Hortense shook them
vigorously to awaken them.

"You're a pretty pair," she said.

"Thank you," said Lowboy, "Our beauty is due to contrast. We set each
other off. He is tall and graceful, and I am short, and round like a
ball. Some think me handsomer than he."

Hortense turned her back upon him.

"I'm out of patience with you," she said disgustedly.

Lowboy's mouth began to droop at the corners; his eyes closed and round
tears, like marbles, began to roll down his cheeks. Highboy hastened to
offer him a handkerchief.

"You musn't cry, you know," said Highboy, "or you'll warp
yourself--maybe even stain your varnish."

"Then I'll abstain," said Lowboy, and was so pleased with his pun that
he at once began to laugh.

Hortense, however, was still out of temper, quite unreasonably, because
she couldn't really think of anything which any one should have done.

"Where were you, Coal and Ember?" she demanded severely.

"In the corner where you put us," Coal and Ember growled with one
voice.

"Why didn't you do something?"

"Take a bite out of Grater?" Coal suggested sarcastically. "You can't
bite anything that hasn't a smell!"

"Why can't you?" Hortense inquired sharply.

"Because if it hasn't any smell it hasn't any taste, and how can you
bite a thing if you can't taste it?"

"You mean, how can you taste it if you don't bite it," said Hortense.

"I mean what I say," said Coal.

"How doggedly he speaks," said Lowboy, who burst into loud laughter.
Nobody else laughed, and Lowboy explained his joke. "Dog, doggedly,
see?"

"It's a poor joke," said White Owl, flying down the stairs.

"Make a better one then," said Lowboy.

"I never joke," said Owl. "None of our family ever did."

"So that's what's the matter with them all," said Lowboy. "I always
wondered--or should I say I _owlways_ wondered?"

"That's really a good joke," said Ember. "I didn't suppose you had it
in you."

"It isn't in me," said Lowboy. "If it were in me, you couldn't have
heard it."

"It _was_ in you or it couldn't have come out," said Ember.

Hortense stamped her foot.

"Oh do hush, all of you," she said. "The trouble with you all is that
you talk and talk and do nothing. Only Malay Kris says little and
acts."

"And look what happens to him," said Owl.

Malay Kris did, indeed, look uncomfortable, half buried in the wall,
but he endeavored to be cheerful.

"Some one will rescue me in the morning," he said. "I shouldn't mind at
all if I'd tasted blood."

"Instead you only struck the air," said Lowboy. "You must be an
Airedale like Coal and Ember."

Nobody laughed.

"It's no use making jokes for such an unappreciative audience," Lowboy
grumbled. "Take care, Kris, that you don't get wall-eyed during the
night."

Still nobody laughed.

"Surely you get that one!" said Lowboy. "It's very simple--wall,
wall-eyed, you see."

"I appreciate you," said Highboy, "but you know I never laugh."

"You'd grow fat if you did," said Lowboy. "Speaking of fat, let's see
what's happened to Alligator. Three guesses, what has he done?"

But nobody guessed because they were all quite sure what Alligator had
done. They went out in a body to look for him. He lay beside the barn
with his eyes shut and a smug smile on his face. Muffled grunts and
squeals sounded from his inside.

"What good does it do to eat things when you have to give them up in
the morning?" Hortense asked.

"What good does it do you to eat supper when you have to eat breakfast
in the morning?" demanded Alligator.

"It isn't the same thing," said Hortense.

"It's meat and cake and milk at night, and oatmeal and toast in the
morning," said Lowboy. "Not the same thing at all."

"That isn't what I mean," said Hortense.

"Well, say what you mean then," said Owl sharply.

"You are all very disagreeable to-night," announced Hortense.

"Let's vote for the most disagreeable person," said Lowboy. "I nominate
Hortense. Are there any questions? If not, the ayes have it and
Hortense is elected."

Hortense was so angry that she walked away and would hear no more. Nor
did she even wait to see that Alligator returned to the parlor.

In the morning as she lay in bed, she wondered if he had and, dressing
herself quickly, ran outdoors to see. As she ran around the barn, she
came upon Grandfather and Fergus looking at the sofa. Grandfather was
stroking his chin.

"How could it possibly have got here?" said he. "All the doors and
windows were locked as usual this morning."

"Well, who would carry it out and leave it in such a place, anyhow?"
said Fergus.

A slight movement which stirred the seat of the sofa caused them all to
gaze at it wonderingly. Then a sound came from within.

"The second time!" exclaimed Grandfather. "If it's the cat again, I'll
know he's the cause of all these odd doings."

"It didn't sound like a cat to me," said Fergus.

Grandfather, without a word, opened his penknife. Fergus and he turned
the sofa over, and Grandfather slit the under covering where it had
been sewed up after Jeremiah had been rescued. Through the hole
appeared the head of a pig. Grandfather and Fergus stood back while the
pig struggled to free himself. Finally succeeding, it trotted away to
its pen.

Grandfather and Fergus looked at one another, at first too surprised to
speak.

"Do you suppose," said Grandfather at last, "that the pig got into the
sofa and carried it off, or the sofa came out and swallowed the pig?"

"I give up," said Fergus, scratching his head.

Grandfather pondered a while and then looked at Hortense.

"It's a curious thing, Fergus, but all these things began to happen
when Hortense came. Do you suppose she is responsible?"

He looked so grave that Hortense couldn't tell whether or not he was
joking. Fergus, too, looked very grave.

"Still," said Fergus, "she's a pretty small girl to carry a sofa from
the parlor to the barn and put a pig inside and sew him up."

"That's true," said Grandfather, nodding gravely. "We'll have to think
of some one else. Perhaps it's Uncle Jonah," he added as Uncle Jonah at
that moment came slowly around the corner of the barn.

Uncle Jonah also seemed to have something on his mind.

"Dem hosses," he began, "is sho' hoodooed."

"Have they been out again?" Grandfather demanded sharply.

"Yas suh, dey looks like it. But dat ain' all. Dat knife--I sho' don'
like de looks ob dat."

"What knife are you talking about?" said Grandfather.

Without a word, Uncle Jonah led the way into the barn and pointed to
Malay Kris. With some difficulty, Grandfather and Fergus pulled Kris
free.

"It's beyond me," Grandfather said bewildered.

Fergus removed his hat and ran his fingers thoughtfully through his
hair. Uncle Jonah shook his head and went away, muttering to himself.

Grandfather looked at Hortense with his sharp bright eyes, but she did
not know how to begin an explanation, so complicated had matters
become.

"Let's go in for breakfast, Hortense," Grandfather suggested.



CHAPTER XI

"_... take us to the rock on the mountain side where the Little
People dance._"


That afternoon Andy and Hortense sat in the orchard eating apples.

"Do you suppose we'd grow little if we ate thirteen apples?" Hortense
asked.

Andy, who had eaten six and lost his appetite, was of the opinion that
they would grow bigger, could they eat so many. "Or maybe we'd burst,"
he added.

"We mustn't eat any more apples now," said Hortense, also finishing her
sixth, "and don't eat too much supper."

"Why?" said Andy, unwilling to sacrifice his supper without a good
reason.

"I've a plan," said Hortense. "We've got to eat thirteen cookies again
and grow little--but I won't tell you what we'll do then, for it's to
be a surprise!"

"We'll go through the little door again and find the Cat's house," Andy
guessed.

"We must take Highboy and Lowboy for company," said she, "but Alligator
and the others won't do at all. How much is four times thirteen?"

"Fifty-two," said Andy after a moment.

"That's a great many cookies," said Hortense. "I do hope Aunt Esmerelda
bakes this afternoon so there are sure to be enough. You see, both
Highboy and Lowboy will have to eat thirteen cookies, too, making
fifty-two for all of us."

"I wonder how many Alligator would have to eat?" said Andy. "Most
likely a whole jar full, he's so big."

"He can't ride anyhow," Hortense began, and then clapped her hand to
her mouth and refused to say another word.

On her way to supper, however, she looked into the cooky jar and found
it full to the top. She very carefully counted out fifty-two cookies
and carried them up to her room in her apron.

That night, when all was still and Andy had come by his usual route
through the basement, Hortense took him and Lowboy to her room.

"What's up to-night?" asked Lowboy. "Oh, I see, upstairs."

"If you make bad jokes, you can't come with us," Hortense warned him.

Lowboy promised to be good, and Hortense brought out the cookies and
divided them into four piles of thirteen each.

"I know," said Lowboy, "we'll pretend that this is a midnight spread in
boarding school. Jeremiah and Grater will be teachers who try to catch
us and----"

"All you have to do is to eat your thirteen cookies," said Hortense,
"all but a little piece of the last one which you must save and put in
your pocket."

"After twelve to begin with, I can do that," joked Lowboy.

"If it kills me," said Highboy, "tell them I died a pleasant death."

Then nobody said a word for a while, and all ate their cookies. At the
tenth, Highboy remarked that thirteen would be all he would want.

"I'll break my top off or lose a handle," said he, "but it's a nice
game."

"What's happening to me?" asked Lowboy, after taking a bite of his
thirteenth.

"Don't eat any more," Hortense warned him.

"How could I?" asked Lowboy. "I'm not a storeroom or a wardrobe trunk!
Besides, your Grandmother has me half filled with her knitting and
things. I must say I prefer cookies."

"I wish," said Highboy to Hortense, "that you hadn't packed away that
last dress in my bottom drawer."

"Don't you see that you've grown small?" Hortense asked.

"Too small for the cookies," said Lowboy. "My clothes are so tight that
I can't squeeze this last piece into my pocket."

"Now we're ready for the next part of the game," said Hortense, getting
up.

"No running or anything like that," said Lowboy. "I can't do it."

"You'll only have to walk a short way, and after that it will be easy."

But Hortense had forgotten that to people as small as they had become,
it was a long walk down the hall, and the stairs, and through the
house.

"We should have eaten the cookies outside, of course," said she. "I
didn't think."

However, following Hortense as leader, they finally reached the barn.
Hortense stopped at the door.

"How will we ever get onto their backs?" said she. "Of course, we
should have climbed on first and then eaten the cookies. I'm managing
this very badly. Perhaps," she added hopefully, "they'll be lying
down."

As luck would have it, Tom and Jerry were lying down in their stalls,
for they were still weary from their adventure of the night before.
Small as they were, Hortense and Highboy had no great difficulty in
scrambling up Tom's side and taking a firm hold of his mane, nor did
Jerry object when Andy and Lowboy mounted him. Tom looked at his riders
in mild surprise, but made no move to get up.

"What next?" asked Lowboy.

"You'll see," said Hortense, who began to repeat the charm which Grater
had spoken:

    _Ride, ride, ride
    For the world is fair and wide.
    The moon shines bright
    On a magic night,
    And Tom and Jerry
    Are able very
    To ride, ride, ride._

At the first words Tom turned reproachful eyes upon her.

"I didn't think it of you, Hortense," said he. "Jerry and I are worn
out with riding, and here you abuse us, too."

"We'll be easy on you," said Hortense. "You have only to take us to the
rock on the mountain side where the Little People dance. There you may
rest until we return home. Besides, if we left you here Grater and
Jeremiah might come and ride again."

"That is true," said Tom, "and another such ride as last night's would
be the end of me."

"Quick then, to the rock," said Hortense, and in a twinkling Tom and
Jerry were out of the barn and soaring high in the air over the field
and the orchard, over the brook and the tree tops beyond. The moon
shone full and bright upon them, and every one was so thrilled with its
brightness that he felt like singing. Lowboy did break into a song, but
Hortense silenced him at once for fear of frightening the Little
People.

Over the tree tops they came and down towards the rock. Hortense could
see the Little People dancing, but before Tom and Jerry could alight,
the Little People had seen them and disappeared into the mountain.

"After them, quick," Hortense cried, slipping from Tom's back, and the
others followed her as she ran into the entrance to the mountain.

The passage was small and dark and wound this way and that. Soon it
ended, and Hortense and the others came into the land where the blue
moon was shining as before. But nowhere was there any sign of the
Little People.

"What shall we do now?" Hortense asked when they had all stopped, not
knowing what to do next.

"It's your party," said Lowboy. "You say what we shall do."

"There's a path," said Andy, pointing to a way among the trees.

"I believe," said Highboy, who had been looking around, "that these are
raspberries on this bush. Um--um--good," and he began to eat as rapidly
as he could pick them.

With difficulty Lowboy dragged his brother away from the tempting fruit
and after Andy and Hortense, who had gone down the path. The path
wandered every which way and seemed to go on forever.

"This isn't the way to the Cat's house at any rate," said Hortense,
stopping to take breath, for they had gone at a rapid pace.

"What's that?" exclaimed Highboy.

All listened intently. There seemed, indeed, to be something moving
among the bushes. Almost as soon as it started, the slight noise
stopped, and they went on.

The path suddenly came to an end in an open place. Hortense and the
others paused to look around, and as if by magic, innumerable Little
People appeared on all sides--archers in green coats, armed with bows
and arrows; pike-men in helmets and breastplates, and swordsmen with
great two handled swords slung across their backs.

The captain of the fairy army, a fierce little man with a pointed
mustache, stepped forward.

"Yield!" he commanded in a sharp voice. "You are prisoners! Bind them
and take them to the King."

His men did as they were bid, and in a twinkling Hortense and Andy and
Highboy and Lowboy found themselves with bound hands, marching forward,
surrounded by the armed Little People.

"We are bound to have a trying time," said Lowboy, joking as usual.
"The King will try us."

Hortense and Andy were too depressed to enjoy jokes, and Highboy, with
tears streaming down his cheeks, was composing a poem bidding a sad
farewell to home and friends. Hortense could hear him trying rhymes to
find one which would fit--"home, moan, bone, lone."

"Those don't rhyme," said Hortense irritably. "It must end with _m_,
not _n_."

"But so few good words end in _m_," Highboy protested. "There's _roam_
of course. That might do. For instance,

    If once again I see my home
    Never more at night I'll roam.

Not bad is it?"

Hortense thought it very bad indeed but didn't say so, for Highboy was
finding pleasure in his rhymes and she hadn't the heart to depress him.
She held tight to Andy's hand and walked on without speaking.

They were marched into a little glade, brightly lighted with glowworms
and fireflies imprisoned in crystal lamps. The Queen sat upon her
throne, but the King walked up and down in front of his and tugged at
his tawny beard, and he looked very fierce.

"Here are the prisoners, your Majesty," said the captain of the guard,
saluting.

"Ha," said the King. "Good, we'll try and condemn them at once."

"Please, your Majesty," said Hortense timidly, "we've done nothing
wrong."

"I'll be the judge of that," said the King. "Prisoners are always
guilty. However, you'll have a fair trial; I'll be the judge myself.
What have you to say for yourselves?"

"We were seeking your assistance against Grater," said Hortense. "That
is why we came to you."

The King shuddered, and all the Little People standing near by turned
pale.

"He is never to be mentioned in my presence," said the King. "The
penalty is ten years' imprisonment. Besides, how can you know so much
about--him--unless you are his servants? It stands to reason that you
are not telling the truth."

"Oh dear!" said Hortense. "How unfair you are!"

"It's a first principle of law that what a prisoner says is untrue,"
said the King. "I always go on that principle, and that is why I am
always right."

"And you'd rather be right than be King, of course," said Lowboy.

"Silence!" roared the King. "Who dares speak so to me?"

The guard thrust Lowboy forward so that the King could see him better.

"A low fellow," said the King.

"But always in high spirits," said Lowboy.

"I am the only one here who is allowed to make jokes," said the King.

"It must be great to be a king," said Lowboy.

"It is," said the King. "Take this fellow and set him to weeding the
royal strawberry beds for ten years. And you," he said, turning to
Highboy, "stole my raspberries. Since you like them so well, you may
pick them for ten years. Away with them! As for you two," pointing to
Andy and Hortense--

Here the Queen interrupted.

"They look like a nice little boy and girl," said she. "Keep them until
morning and then look further into the matter. Perhaps they are
speaking the truth. I'm sure they are." And she smiled upon them.

The King walked up and down for a moment, without speaking.

"Very well. Be it as you wish," he agreed at last. "It is the Queen's
privilege to command clemency."

"She should have some privilege if she has to laugh at the royal
jokes," said Lowboy.

"Fifteen years!" roared the King. "I told you to put that fellow to
work."

The guards hurried Lowboy and Highboy away, and Andy and Hortense were
left alone.

"These two may be imprisoned in the pine tree," said the King, "until
morning. Then I'll decide what further to do with them."

Six of the little soldiers took Andy and Hortense by the arm and led
them to the foot of a big pine tree. Taking a key from his pocket, the
officer in command unlocked a little door in the trunk of the tree,
Hortense and Andy entered their prison, and he closed and locked the
door after them. It was very dark, but as their eyes became accustomed
to it, Andy and Hortense could see a little.

The hollow trunk made a round room, which was carpeted with pine
needles for a bed. There was nothing else whatsoever. Above them the
room reached high into the trunk, and at the very top they could see a
little patch of light.

"It's probably a knot hole," said Andy, "and if we could climb so high,
we might crawl through and get outside."

"We couldn't get down without being seen even then," reasoned Hortense.

"There's a chance," said Andy. "Anyway, they might not see us and just
decide we had already escaped. It's worth trying."

"Very carefully they searched the trunk of the tree, seeking something
that would help them climb.

"Here's something that looks like a crack in the trunk," said Andy. "If
I could get a foothold in that, I believe I could climb to the top.
Give me a hand here."

Hortense did as she was bid, and Andy began to climb.

"It gets easier," he said in a moment. "Can you find a foothold and
follow me?"

Try as she would, Hortense couldn't manage a start.

"I'll come back," said Andy, descending until he could give Hortense a
hand. With Andy's aid Hortense succeeded in climbing a few feet and
after that was able to make her own way.

Up and up they climbed, coming at last to the hole at the top which was
just big enough to crawl through. Outside was a great limb, and on this
they rested.

"The Little People will hardly see us here, we're so high up," said
Andy.

"But we can't get down," said Hortense, "so it does us little good."

Andy made no reply, for he was looking about him.

"These trees grow very close together," said he. "I believe I'll see
where this branch goes."

Off he went, and Hortense waited. At last he came back, saying, "We can
get to the next tree, and from that to another. When we are far enough
away from the sentry, we'll try to climb down."

With Andy leading the way, they went out to the end of the branch which
just touched the branch of the next tree. Onto this they were able to
climb, and they made their way slowly to the trunk; then out on a
branch on the other side, and so to the next tree. In this way they
progressed from tree to tree, but each was as big as the last and it
was impossible for such little people as they to climb down.

"We might eat a bite of cooky and grow big," said Hortense.

"Then we couldn't get out of the tunnel," said Andy, "and we'd have to
stay here forever."

They seemed to be in a bad fix, indeed.

"If we could only fly," said Hortense, "how nice it would be."

"That's an idea," said Andy.

Looking about him a moment, he began to climb to the branch above.

"Come here," he called, and Hortense followed.

At the base of the branch there was a hole in the tree, and, looking
through this, they saw a snug nest lined with twigs and moss.

"It's the nest of some big bird," said Andy. "We'll wait here and ask
him to take us down."

It seemed the only thing to do and, making themselves as comfortable as
they could, they set themselves to wait.

The blue moon rose higher and higher, and they became quite stiff.

"It may be a last year's nest," said Hortense.

"Or an owl's, and he won't come home until morning," said Andy.

They had almost fallen asleep when something big and white sailed down
and alighted on the branch--a great owl like the one on Grandmother's
mantel, with fierce, bright eyes.

"Who, who are you?" said the Owl. "And what are you doing at my door?"

"Please, sir," said Hortense, "we want to get down to the ground and
cannot."

"Fly down," said the Owl.

"We can't fly," said Hortense.

"How absurd," said the Owl. "You shouldn't climb trees then."

"We had to, to get away from the Little People," helped Andy.

"So that's it," said the Owl. "They are a nuisance, I'll admit,
spoiling all the hunting with their songs and dancing. I'm inclined to
help you. What will you give me if I carry you down?"

Andy and Hortense searched their pockets and turned out a piece of
string, a top, five jacks, a pocketknife, and two not very clean
handkerchiefs.

"Those are of no use to me," said the Owl.

"We have nothing else except some pieces of cooky," bargained Hortense.

"Very well," the Owl grumbled, "I'll take them--though it's not
enough."

Hortense gave him her cooky--all but a tiny piece which she saved to
eat when she wanted to grow big again. The Owl swallowed it in one
gulp.

"Very good cooky," he commented, "though I should prefer a little more
molasses. Get on my back."

Hortense obeyed, and the Owl spread his great wings. Out and out he
soared and then came gently to earth, and Hortense slipped off his
back.

"Thanks very much," said she.

"Don't mention it," said the Owl and, spreading his wings, soared away
into the tree.

A moment later Andy was beside her.

[Illustration: Owl spread his great wings and carried Andy to earth.]

"If you cross the strawberry field and the raspberry patch," the Owl
suggested, "you'll come to a path that goes by the house. If you can
get by that unseen, perhaps you can escape."

"What house?" Hortense asked.

The Owl ruffled out his feathers fiercely.

"The house where that miserable Cat lives with the bright thing," said
he.

The Owl flew away and Andy and Hortense started to run across the
strawberry field, stopping now and then to eat the ripe, sweet berries.
In the middle of the field they noticed something black. Its presence
frightened them, and they feared to go close to it. However, it did not
move for some moments, and cautiously they drew nearer. It was Lowboy,
fast asleep.

Hortense shook him and he opened his eyes.

"Get up and come home," said Hortense. But Lowboy would not move.

"I've eaten so many strawberries that I can't budge," said he.

"Then we'll have to leave you," Hortense replied.

"There are worse fates than fifteen years of such strawberries," said
Lowboy. "Perhaps, though, I'll get away sometime and find the road
home."

"Where's Highboy?" Hortense demanded.

"Over there in the raspberry patch," said Lowboy, "but I fear he's in
as bad shape as I am."

And so it proved, for when they came upon Highboy in the middle of the
patch he was seated on the ground, lazily picking berries from the
stems about his head.

"Get up and come with us," Hortense commanded.

Highboy shook his head.

"I must serve my sentence," said he. "After that, if I'm not turned
into a raspberry tart, I'll try to find my way home. The only thing is
that I find it hard to write poetry when I've eaten so much. Poetry
should be written on an empty stomach. I can't think of a rhyme for
raspberry."

"I don't believe there is one," said Hortense. "What difference does it
make, anyhow?"

"Ah," said Highboy, "you're not a poet and don't know what it is to
want a rhyme."

So Andy and Hortense sadly left him and by and by came to the other
side of the raspberry patch and to the path of which the Owl had
spoken.

"I suppose we must try to reach home this way," said Hortense, "for we
daren't go by the Little People again."

"One way is about as bad as another," Andy agreed.

"If we meet Jeremiah and Grater, we'll eat our cooky quick," Hortense
said. "Then they won't be so formidable."

"And then we'd never get through the tunnel," finished Andy.

However, they kept on along the path which they had traveled before and
after a while came to the little gate beyond which lay the Cat's house.
There was no light except the gleam of the fire upon the windowpane.

Andy and Hortense hesitated.

"Let's look in," said Andy. "Perhaps no one's at home."

"And then I might find my charm," Hortense added eagerly.

They peeped through the window and saw nothing but a low fire on the
hearth and the dim, kindly face of the big clock.

"Let's risk it," said Hortense and lifting the latch, walked in.

"Hello," said the Clock genially. "You here again? It's a dangerous
place for little folks."

"We shan't stay," said Hortense. "I want to get my charm if I can."

But the charm was not in its place under the glass upon the mantel.

"Oh dear," said Hortense.

"Jeremiah took the charm away," said the Clock. "Perhaps he'll bring it
back in time."

"You have all the time there is," Hortense said. "We haven't and can't
wait so long."

Still, there was nothing to do, not then at least, and bidding the
Clock good-by, she and Andy hurried away. The blue moon was setting,
and soon, they knew, it would be day. They hastened their steps and had
nearly reached the tunnel when Andy suddenly pulled Hortense into the
bushes beside the path.

Down the path came the sound of footsteps and past them hurried
Jeremiah and Grater.

"Let's hurry," said Andy, "before they come back."

They ran down the tunnel as fast as they could and soon came to the
large cave under the brook where the water dripped without ceasing.

"Safe so far," said Andy, "but the last part is uphill and harder."

They crossed the cave and ran on, looking back now and then as they
paused to catch their breath.

"We're lucky," said Andy when they had passed the little door safely
and shut it behind them.

They slipped through the wooden chute into the cellar and seated
themselves on the stairs to eat their bites of cooky.

"Oh," said Hortense suddenly, "what do you suppose will become of Tom
and Jerry? I'd forgotten them completely."

"We'll have to wait and see," said Andy. "I'm sleepy and must get to
bed."

So, too, was Hortense, and she did not awaken in the morning until ten
o'clock when the sun was shining high. Her only thought was of Tom and
Jerry and what might have become of them, until she tried to open a
drawer in the highboy to find a dress when she also remembered that
Highboy and Lowboy were imprisoned.

The drawer wouldn't open; it was stuck fast. So, too, were the other
drawers. Nor when she spoke to Highboy did he answer; he was not there.
Only a dead thing of wood stood where Highboy had been.

"Dear me," thought Hortense, "I suppose it is the same with Lowboy. How
then, will Grandmother get at her knitting?"

She hastily dressed in the clothes she had worn the day before.
Breakfast was over, and Hortense begged Aunt Esmerelda for a bite in
the kitchen. Aunt Esmerelda was muttering to herself.

"Dis yere house is sho' hoodooed. Mah cookies is gone, an' I done made
a crock full yistahday. An' yo' gran'ma's chist of drawahs, dey don'
open. An' de hosses is plumb gone. It ain't no place fo' me."

Hortense kept a discreet silence and hurriedly finished her breakfast.
Then she ran to her Grandmother.

"I shall have to get Fergus to pry open the drawer of the lowboy," said
Grandmother. "It won't open at all." Then noticing Hortense's soiled
dress for the first time, she added,

"Dear me, child, you should have on a clean dress."

"The drawer in the highboy wouldn't open, Grandma," said Hortense.

"And your Grandfather is looking for the horses. They have
disappeared," said Grandmother. "I'm sure I don't know what is the
matter with everything."

Hortense ran out to the barn to find her Grandfather. Fergus, Uncle
Jonah, and Grandfather were standing before the barn discussing the
loss of Tom and Jerry. Hortense stood quietly by, listening to what
they said, but all the time her eyes were on the mountain side, seeking
the rock where last evening she had left Tom and Jerry. She found it at
last and watching it closely, saw something move.

"I think Tom and Jerry are way up on the mountain side by that big
rock," said she pointing.

Grandfather and Uncle Jonah could see nothing, but Fergus, whose eyes
were good, said finally, "I see something moving there, to be sure, but
how Tom and Jerry could reach such a place, I can't see. However, I'll
go look."

Uncle Jonah shook his head and went away muttering; Hortense, holding
her Grandfather's hand, went with him to his library. Grandfather took
her on his knee and for a while said nothing--just sat with wrinkled
brows, thinking. Then he raised his eyes to the bronze Buddha and
spoke, half to himself.

"I believe if we could make the image talk we'd learn what's at the
bottom of all these mysterious happenings. He looks as if he could
talk, doesn't he? Perhaps if we burned incense before him he might
speak."

"What is incense?" Hortense asked.

"This," said Grandfather, opening a drawer and showing her a
sweet-smelling powder. "If we burned this before him and he were
pleased with us, he might be made to talk. So the Hindoos believe. But
I'm afraid he'd pay no attention to unbelievers."

Grandfather was joking, of course, but nevertheless Hortense pondered
his words and made note of the drawer in which her Grandfather kept the
little packet of incense.

Late that afternoon Fergus arrived home with Tom and Jerry, having had
an awfully hard time getting them safely down the mountain side. It was
so late that Fergus had no time to see to the drawers which refused to
open in the lowboy and the highboy. For this Hortense was glad; she
feared that it would hurt Highboy and Lowboy to have the drawers forced
open and, besides, she meant that night to do her best to rescue them
from the Little People. To that end she ran to the hedge which divided
her yard from Andy's and, calling to Andy, told him her purpose.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XII

"_There are queer doings in this house._"


"I think," said Hortense, "that every one should go with us to-night,
Coal, Ember, Malay Kris, Owl, and even Alligator. For you see, not only
do we have to free Highboy and Lowboy from the Little People, but we
have to bring them safely home."

Andy thought for a moment.

"It will take a great many cookies," said he, "and it will probably be
difficult to make Malay Kris, Owl, and Coal and Ember eat thirteen
cookies each. Alligator, of course, will eat anything."

Hortense nodded.

"I've thought of that. I don't think Coal and Ember need be smaller
than they are to get through the tunnel; nor Owl either. Malay Kris,
I'm sure, will do as we ask him. That will make only four of us again,
and fifty-two cookies as before. I do hope there are that many. Aunt
Esmerelda says she's going to stop baking cookies, they go so fast."

Happily, the cooky jar was full again, and Hortense and Andy filled
their pockets with the fifty-two cookies.

When it was dark and still, Hortense explained the plan to her
companions. Alligator did not like the idea of becoming smaller, but
the thought of the cookies, nevertheless, decided him. He ate them one
after another as fast as Hortense could toss them into his mouth and at
the thirteenth he became no larger than a little baby alligator. Malay
Kris likewise ate his bravely and became small accordingly.

"Luckily, I'll be even sharper than before," said he.

Owl glared upon these proceedings with contempt.

"This is all foolishness," said he.

"But you'll come, won't you?" Hortense asked anxiously. "You can help
us a great deal because you can see in the dark. Besides," she added,
"we want your advice."

"Much heed you'll take of it," Owl grumbled. He was pleased,
nevertheless, and swelled out his feathers complacently.

"Then let us start at once," said Hortense, leading the way.

She and Andy had decided that the tunnel way was best, for they could
not easily climb the mountain and to ride on Tom and Jerry was to
invite capture by the Little People, whom they must avoid.

They hurried as fast as they could and met no one. Their only
difficulty was in getting Alligator through the cave under the brook,
for he liked the feel of the water dripping on his hide. However, now
that he was small he was easier to manage than before, and Coal and
Ember dragged him away despite his protests.

When at last they came out from the tunnel, the blue moon was shining
as before upon the roof of the Cat's house. The house itself was dark,
but for a flicker of firelight on a windowpane.

"Look in and see if any one is there," Hortense whispered to Owl.

Obediently he flew and peered in at the window, returning to say that
all he could see was the clock. So Hortense ventured in, finding the
house empty as Owl had said, save for Grandfather's Clock.

"They're all out, tick tock," said the Clock. "But it is dangerous to
remain, for Grater is very angry and desperate to-night."

Hortense looked in the glass case for her charm but could not find it.

"You had best get it back somehow," said the Clock. "It gives Jeremiah
and Grater power."

"But how can I?" said Hortense anxiously.

"Who can say?" said the Clock. "But in time anything may happen."

"Do you know what will happen?" Hortense asked exasperatedly. "If you
are Time, everything will happen in you, and so you must know what
everything is and will be."

"I know, but I do not say," the Clock replied. "That is how I keep my
reputation for wisdom."

Hortense hurried back to the others, and they proceeded beyond the
house and through the woods until they neared the raspberry patch.

"You go ahead," said Hortense to Owl, "and spy out the land. Perhaps
some of the Little People are about."

Owl flew off as directed and returned shortly to say, "Two of the guard
are seated on the edge of the strawberry field. I could not hear what
they said, but perhaps if you creep quietly through the bushes you can
overhear."

Andy and Hortense, telling the others to wait, did as suggested.
Creeping cautiously through the bushes, they could hear the little
soldiers talking together before they could see them. Unfortunately,
Andy stepped on a dry stem which broke with a snap. The soldiers ceased
talking at once and Andy and Hortense lay still, scarcely daring to
breathe.

"What was that?" asked one of the soldiers at last in a low voice.

"It must have been a bird," said the other. "I saw a great owl only a
moment ago."

Then they resumed their talk.

"Well, it makes our work easier to have them gone," said one. "The
short fat fellow was always eating the strawberries instead of putting
them in his basket, and the tall one wouldn't work when he had a rhyme
to find."

"And now," said the other, "they are to wear fine clothes and have
nothing to do. It must have been the Queen who interceded for them."

"I don't call it nothing to do to make jokes all day or to write a poem
when ordered," said the first.

"True," his companion replied. "I should rather pick berries. Meanwhile
I'm going to take a nap. The Captain won't be back for hours."

"Me, too," the other agreed. "We'll lay our breastplates and helmets to
hand and slip them on when we hear him coming."

Thereupon silence ensued, and Hortense and Andy lay still. It was
evident, Hortense was thinking, that Highboy and Lowboy had been
ordered back to court, and to help them escape would be difficult, for
how dared she and Andy go near it, escaped prisoners as they were?

After a time Hortense nudged Andy and they crept forward together
until, by parting the bushes, they could see the little soldiers fast
asleep, their swords and armor beside them. Cautiously, Hortense
reached out and drew a breastplate towards her and followed it by
seizing a helmet and a sword. Andy, at a nod, did likewise, and with
their captured arms they made their way slowly back through the bushes
to a safe distance.

"We must put them on and disguise ourselves so that we can go to the
court," said Hortense, slipping on the breastplate and helmet and
buckling the sword-belt about her. "If we pull the visors of our
helmets down, no one will recognize us."

"But what of the others?" Andy inquired, adjusting his armor.

Hortense clapped her hands.

"I know," said she, "we'll pretend we've captured them, and take them
to the King."

"It will be all the harder for us to escape later," warned Andy.

"We must risk that," Hortense replied. "Besides, the Queen may aid us
if we tell her everything. She is much kinder and wiser than the King."

So it was decided to lay the plan before the others, which they did.

"I'm content," said Owl, "for no one can keep me captive if I wish to
escape."

"And I," said Malay Kris, "am afraid of nothing."

"I'll swallow any one who interferes with me," said Alligator.

"They'll not hurt us," said Coal and Ember growling.

"Then, if we're all agreed, let's go to the King's court," said
Hortense, and with her and Andy leading the way, off they went.

The court was assembled in a glade in the woods, all the Little People
grouped about their King and Queen. When Andy and Hortense appeared
with their odd captives, way was made for them, every one staring in
surprise. Even the King was dumb with astonishment.

"What have we here, a traveling circus?" said he at last.

"Prisoners we captured near the Royal Raspberry Patch," said Andy in as
martial a tone as he could muster.

"Where could they come from and what are they doing here?" the King
demanded. "Speak," he commanded them.

Owl took it upon himself to answer.

"We were hunting the great Cat and Grater, who are our enemies."

"So the boy and girl said who escaped the other night, no one knows
how. For all we know, you may be servants of the terrible Grater of
whom my most valiant soldiers are afraid, and of the great Cat with the
claws."

"Show us either of them and we'll prove our quality," Malay Kris
boasted. "I have once before run Grater through and pinned him to the
floor."

The King pulled at his beard.

"It is true that I have heard he now wears a piece of pink
court-plaster."

"Give me arms and put me into your service," said Malay Kris, "and I
will prove my mettle."

"You are indeed a likely looking soldier," said the King, regarding him
with favor. "I'm inclined to try you. Give him," said he to the Captain
of the Guard, "armor and a sword, and we'll see what he can do. As for
these others, we'll put them in cages for the present and decide later
what to do with them."

At these words Owl flew into the top of a tree and hooted.

"I do not like cages," said he. "I prefer a tree top."

And though the King tried soft words and made promises, the Owl refused
to budge, looking down upon them all with great round eyes.

Coal and Ember growled and showed their teeth, and Alligator opened
wide his great jaws and lashed about with his tail; but the little
soldiers threw themselves valiantly upon them and bore them away as the
King ordered.

"You two," said the King to Andy and Hortense, "have proved yourselves
brave and are deserving of reward. We attach you to our person. You may
stand guard in the palace."

The Queen, who had been looking hard at Hortense, spoke.

"May I not have them?" said she.

"Certainly, my love," the King replied graciously. "All that is mine is
yours. Besides, you may need stout protection from our enemy. Already
it has taken from us our Court Jester and Court Poet." The King walked
nervously up and down. "Our magic power is of no avail," said he,
"against such evil."

Andy and Hortense, in obedience to the Queen's wish, took their place
at the door of her apartment, and soon she called them to her.

"I see," said she to Hortense, "that you are the little girl who was
here before, and this, I suppose, is the little boy. Now tell me all
about it."

Hortense was much surprised but did as she was told, for she felt the
Queen to be her friend.

"Alas," said the Queen, "Grater has already made prisoners of Highboy
and Lowboy. I had persuaded the King to make them his Court Jester and
Poet but before they could even be brought here, they were waylaid and
borne away."

"In that case," said Hortense, "we must go to their rescue. Will you
grant us permission?"

"Gladly," said the Queen, "although I cannot free the others without
appealing to the King, and it is best for the present not to tell him
who you are. I shall contrive to see Malay Kris and send him after you.
Wait near by."

Accordingly, Andy and Hortense slipped out of the palace unseen and
waited where they were joined shortly by Malay Kris, who was so eager
for a fight that Andy and Hortense had to beg him to be cautious.

They quietly crept close to the Cat's house, and Owl, who had joined
them, peeped in at the window.

"All quiet," said he.

The four entered.

"Highboy and Lowboy are in the cooky jar," said the Clock, not waiting
to be asked. "Make haste!"

It was not easy to free them. The jar was far taller than Andy and
Hortense, and as smooth and slippery as ice. Andy and Malay Kris
finally made a rope by tying together table covers and sheets and,
throwing the end of this over the edge of the jar, at last succeeded in
pulling Highboy and Lowboy to the top. From this they dropped safely to
the floor.

"Now we must hurry," said Hortense, and away they went.

But they were not in time, for barely had they reached the gate when
they were seen by Jeremiah and Grater. Thereupon ensued a fierce
battle. Jeremiah seemed as big as a lion. He lashed his bushy tail,
arched his back, and spat; his great eyes glowed, and his claws were
long and sharp as knives. Andy and Hortense were glad for their
breastplates, for these the Cat's sharp claws could not pierce.

Highboy and Lowboy, however, had no armor.

"Oh, my nice coat of varnish!" Highboy moaned as Jeremiah's claws
reached him.

"I shall no longer be a polished person," said Lowboy.

Hortense and Andy kept in front of the two in so far as they could, but
with Jeremiah in front and Grater at one side they were hard-pressed.

"Get into the bushes," Andy ordered, and they retreated slowly into the
raspberry patch.

Here Jeremiah was at a disadvantage, for the thorns tore his coat, and
he could not use his claws freely. Thorns meant nothing to Grater,
however, in his bright suit of mail. Malay Kris, undaunted, struck him
a great blow and bore him to the ground.

"Tie his hands," cried Malay Kris.

Hortense and Andy, using their shoe laces for the purpose, bound Grater
fast. Jeremiah, thereupon, yowled dismally and retreated towards the
house.

"Let's hurry as fast as we can," Hortense ordered.

Malay Kris brought up the rear, prodding Grater to make him go faster;
Owl flew ahead to spy out the way; and Andy and Hortense followed,
running.

They reached the entrance of the tunnel and hurried in, expecting every
moment to see Jeremiah reappear, and now, without the protection of the
raspberry bushes, they feared his great claws. Safely they crossed the
dripping cave and were halfway through the tunnel on the other side
when they perceived Jeremiah hot after them.

"Grater!" shrieked Lowboy.

Grater had seized the moment while their backs were turned to free
himself of the cords which bound him and was running rapidly up the
tunnel.

"He'll close the door on us!" Malay Kris shouted, and set off in
pursuit.

With dismay Hortense and Andy perceived that they must meet Jeremiah's
attack, for Highboy and Lowboy were of no use in a fight. Here it was
that Owl proved himself most unexpectedly useful. While Andy and
Hortense backed slowly through the tunnel facing Jeremiah's claws, Owl
tweaked his tail and pulled bits of fur from his back. Jeremiah's claws
were useless against such a foe who flew away whenever Jeremiah turned
on him.

So the retreat was effected in good order and without serious hurt to
any one, while from the rear came the clash of arms and the shouts of
Kris and Grater in fierce conflict. Kris, having eaten the thirteen
cookies and reduced his size, found Grater a far more formidable foe
than before. But though small, Kris was as fast as lightning and darted
here and there, evading Grater's blows and putting in quick stabs.
Although Grater came more and more to resemble a sieve, he still stood
his ground with his back to the door, and until he was forced aside,
escape was impossible.

Lowboy then displayed a courage and intelligence which his fondness for
poor jokes led nobody to expect. Throwing himself at Grater's knees and
holding them tight, he threw their enemy to the ground with a crash.
Malay Kris quickly disarmed and bound him and the way was clear.

Jeremiah, seeing that the battle was won, turned tail and fled, Owl
hooting derisively after him. Every one sat down to get his breath.
Except for a few scratches no one suffered any mishap.

"We've finished them this time," Malay Kris said complacently. "We must
put this fellow where he can do no more harm."

Grater glared at them.

"I'll get even with you!" he promised.

"You'll be old and rusted to pieces by the time you escape," Kris
retorted and wedged him tight against the door so that it could not be
opened nor could Grater stir a hand or foot.

"You'll have a nice rest here," said Malay Kris. "It is quiet and
nobody will disturb you."

Thus they left Grater, grinding his teeth in rage, and made their way
into the cellar.

While they were eating their bits of cooky to make them large again,
Hortense said,

"How can we prevent Jeremiah from setting Grater free?"

"We must block the way on this side, too," said Andy, immediately
rolling a barrel before the sliding door in the air chute of the
furnace. Upon this he piled a heavy box.

"If Jeremiah can move those, he is a smart cat," said Andy.

"Jeremiah is a smart cat," Hortense said, "but it's the best we can
do."

In the kitchen they parted company, and as soon as Hortense was in bed
she fell fast asleep and did not wake until the sun was high the next
day.

After breakfast Fergus came to pry open the drawers in the lowboy that
had refused to budge the day before.

"There's nothing the matter with them," said Fergus as they slid open
at a touch. "They are just as usual."

"Why, so they are," said Grandmother and opened the upper drawer. "What
in the world is this?"

The drawer was filled tight full of strawberries packed in neat
boxes--and on top lay thirteen cookies!

Grandmother looked on these with astonishment.

"Wild strawberries!" said she tasting one. "And at this time of the
year, too. They are delicious."

Grandfather and Fergus looked astonished, and Fergus scratched his
head.

"Well," said Grandfather, "let's look at the highboy in Hortense's
room. There's no telling what we'll find there."

They went to Hortense's room and again Fergus pulled open the drawers
without difficulty. Boxes and boxes of raspberries lay on top of
Hortense's things--and again there were thirteen cookies!

Grandfather and Grandmother raised their hands in amazement. They found
no words to express their wonder. Later, when Mary came to Grandmother
and reported that the sofa in the parlor had disappeared, Grandmother
simply said, "The firedogs are gone from the hearth, too. There are
queer doings in this house."

Hortense spent the afternoon in the library with Grandfather, her chin
on her hand, thinking. From time to time she glanced at the image of
Buddha. She thought she might tell Grandfather about all the strange
things that had happened to her, but before doing so she resolved to
try a plan which his words had put into her head.

Now and then Grandfather looked at her curiously, but he asked no
questions, and Hortense could not guess his thoughts.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XIII

"_This is what was inside,_"--


The little box of incense lay at the back of the drawer where Hortense
had expected to find it. She laid it on top of Grandfather's desk.

It was really necessary to have a light in order to see what she was
about, but a lamp or candle, either one, seemed out of place. There
should be only enough light to see the expression on the face of the
image. In a half-darkness, she thought, he would be more likely to
speak.

She raised the window shades and threw the shutters open. Moonlight
filled the room dimly and fell upon the bronze image, sitting as
expressionless as ever, immovable. Hortense's heart failed her.
Nothing, she felt, would ever bring words to the closed lips or a
flutter to the heavy eyelids. However, there was nothing to do but try.

She poured a little of the incense on an ash tray and touched a match
to it. The wisp of smoke, pallid in the moonlight, curled slowly
upwards and was lost to sight. A strong sweet odor filled the room.

[Illustration: Hortense burned incense to the image and sat motionless
in Grandfather's chair to wait.]

Hortense moved the tray to the edge of the desk directly in front of
the image and sat down in her Grandfather's chair to wait, her eyes
fixed upon the calm round face before her. It looked like the face of a
woman she thought, not that of a man.

She could see not the slightest change in the image after ever so long
a time, though her eyes never left it. The incense was slowly consumed,
and Hortense arose and added more. Still she watched, endlessly it
seemed, until finally her eyes closed and she must have slept for a
little, for when she opened them again the moonlight was far brighter
than before and the image stood out in the fanciful shadows.

Yes, surely, the hand that now lay open had been raised and closed
before. And the eyes looked at her instead of over her! Her heart beat
quicker.

"You have moved," she said without thinking.

There was a slight stir of the bronze lips; then a soft measured voice
said, "I wait, what is it you ask?"

"I should like," Hortense said, "to get back my charm."

"Jeremiah has it," said the Image, "and Jeremiah is getting to be a
nuisance. I shall have to cut his claws."

How the Image could cut Jeremiah's claws, Hortense didn't see.

"That is to say," the Image went on, "he needs to be taken down."

Down to what, Hortense wondered. She sat a long while waiting for the
Image to say more, but apparently it had gone back to sleep.

"Dear me, how slow it is!" Hortense said to herself. "I suppose it's
like Grandfather's Clock and has all the time in the world."

She sat very silent and once or twice almost fell asleep.

The moonlight continued its slow and silent way across the floor until
at last it rested full upon the Image.

"If you will take a paper knife," said the Image as though it had
ceased speaking but a moment before, "and trace the flower pattern on
my back, beginning in the center, you will find something."

Hortense, wondering, did as she was told. On the back of the Image, as
it had said, was the pattern of a flower. Hortense followed the curves
of its petals with the point of the knife. Then to her surprise the
flower swung inward on an invisible hinge and there before her was an
opening just large enough for her hand. Her fingers closed on something
round and hard like a marble, which in the moonlight shone with little
bright flashes and crinkles of gold and blue and rose. Hortense knew it
was some precious stone.

As she sat with it in her hand, she heard the soft patter of feet along
the hall, and in a moment two great green eyes shone in the doorway.
Hortense sat very still with the jewel sparkling in her hand. Jeremiah
came forward a step or two, and then suddenly he spat so loudly that
Hortense jumped.

With a howl Jeremiah turned and ran like one possessed. Hortense could
hear his claws scratching on the stairs as he raced up and up, out of
hearing. On the threshold of the door before her lay a small white
object. Hortense stooped and picked it up. It was the monkey charm! She
fastened it about her neck and turned to thank the Image. But the Image
said never a word--just sat as motionless, staring into the distance,
as though it had never spoken.

Hortense went to bed with the jewel tightly clutched in her hand and
fell fast asleep. In the morning she went down to breakfast in high
spirits, hardly believing that what had happened was real. In her hand
still was the wonderful jewel which shone and sparkled as though lit
with a thousand colored fires. She kept it hidden in her lap while she
ate, and when she had finished, she followed her Grandfather into the
library.

"Some one has been burning incense," said Grandfather, looking at her.

Hortense nodded and played with the monkey charm about her neck.

"I did it," she said.

Thereupon she climbed on Grandfather's knee and told him the whole
story from the beginning. Grandfather said never a word, but from time
to time he looked at Hortense as though he couldn't believe what she
said. When she spoke of the flower on the back of the image, he turned
it around and traced the pattern with the point of the paper knife as
Hortense had done. The little door opened as before. Grandfather looked
in.

"This is what was inside," Hortense said and opened her hand in which
was the jewel.

Grandfather took it and examined it gravely.

"Do you remember the story I told you about my friend who sought a rare
jewel and who, when he died, sent me this image? This must be the jewel
he found. It has lain here all these years. It is very strange that you
should have found it as you did--your story is very strange. But for
the jewel, and the disappearance of the sofa and the firedogs, I could
scarcely believe it."

"If you'll come, I'll show you the little door and the tunnel,"
Hortense said.

"It would be too small for me to approach," Grandfather said, "and I am
much too old to eat thirteen cookies."

"But," Hortense urged, "I want you to go with me to see the Little
People. I must get Alligator and Coal and Ember back."

Grandfather shook his head.

"If you visit the Little People again, I fear it will have to be with
your own friends. But wait a while. We've had enough surprising
experiences for a time."

"It's really Jeremiah who is the cause of everything," Hortense said.

As she spoke Jeremiah walked in slowly, a very dejected cat.

"Come here, sir," Grandfather said sternly.

Jeremiah meowed plaintively and jumped on Grandfather's knee.

"I hear you've been up to tricks," Grandfather said.

Jeremiah hung his head and meowed again.

"I see you are sorry and will not do it again," Grandfather said. "If
you do----" Grandfather opened his hand and showed the jewel.

In a flash Jeremiah was off Grandfather's knee and running down the
hall. Grandfather laughed and held up his hand on which was a long red
scratch.

"Oh!" Hortense cried, "the Image said he would cut Jeremiah's claws."

"That was a figure of speech, evidently," Grandfather said. "Whenever
Jeremiah is bad, we'll show him the jewel. I'll keep it for you. It
must be very valuable. Some day it will be yours."

But Hortense thought less of the jewel than of the monkey charm about
her neck. Besides, there were Alligator and Coal and Ember, still
captive among the Little People. She wished Grandfather hadn't asked
her to keep away from the Little People for a while, though Alligator
and Coal and Ember were decidedly able to care for themselves, and
Grater was securely bound and unable to do further harm.

"But, of course," said Hortense, "I can talk to Owl, and Malay Kris,
and to Highboy, and Lowboy, and we can lay our plans for the rescue."



CHAPTER XIV

_Rescue From the Mountain Side_[1]


Hortense sat quietly in the corner of the kitchen on a stool watching
Aunt Esmerelda at her work. Aunt Esmerelda was unhappy, and the more
she tried to do her work the more she complained, and every once in a
while she took a long look at Hortense, as if accusing her of her
trouble. The trouble was that Aunt Esmerelda was trying to make cole
slaw and she couldn't find her grater to shred the cabbage. So she was
trying to cut it up with the large butcher knife.

"I 'clare," Aunt Esmerelda grumbled half to herself, but just loud
enough so she knew Hortense would hear, "this yere house is sho' nuff
voodood. First of all this ornery cat gets himself into some mighty
peculiar fixes, inside the sofa and chimney and such likes, then the
grater begins to get all full of knife holes and now I cain't even find
it at all." Hortense squirmed uneasily and wished somebody could help
Aunt Esmerelda get a new grater. But she couldn't tell the cook where
the grater was, or how it got there, or poor old Aunt Esmerelda might
leave and never come back, frightened as she was of spooks and similar
things. But she didn't want a new grater, either, for fear it might
also help the cat free the old grater, for then there would be three of
them to contend with. So she said nothing but just kicked her feet a
bit and stared at the floor.

Just then Mary came in, and she and Aunt Esmerelda began to talk.

Mary said, "You know, the firedogs are missing and Grandmother is very
unhappy about it, because she can't have a fire-place fire on these
chilly evenings. And when I went in the parlor to dust today, the sofa
is gone, too. None of these things ever happened before Hortense came.
I can imagine she might have taken the firedogs, though I can't imagine
why. But she is too little to move that big divan."

By now Hortense felt very uneasy, knowing that both the cook and the
maid were suspicious of her activities. She was wishing desperately
that she wouldn't have to look at them, when luckily Grandfather came
into the kitchen on his way to the barn and asked her if she would like
to go look at the horses with him. So she gladly left the kitchen.

On their way to the barn she finally said, "Grandfather, is Grandmother
awfully unhappy about the firedogs?" At this her Grandfather appeared
surprised, but finally admitted to her that Grandmother surely did miss
her fireplace fire in the evenings when she had tea.

"Well," said Hortense, "I've been trying to think of a plan to rescue
the firedogs and the alligator sofa, but I need your help."

Grandfather took a long look at her, and Hortense was a little
frightened that maybe she shouldn't have asked him at all. Finally he
said, "I don't know how much help I could be. These magic things only
happen to you because you are young and believe they can happen. But I
am old, and need my sleep at night. However, maybe I could get Fergus
to help you."

At the barn they found Fergus grooming Tom and Jerry. Uncle Jonas was
there too, so until he left nothing more could be said about it, for he
would have been frightened even worse than Mary or Aunt Esmerelda if he
knew what was going on around the farm since Hortense's arrival. After
an hour or so Grandfather sent Uncle Jonas to town for some harness
straps and he and Hortense were free to talk to Fergus.

"Well, Hortense," began Grandfather, "why don't you tell Fergus about
your adventures?"

Fergus looked strangely at the girl, but said nothing. Hortense hardly
knew where to start, but finally began at the first and told him the
whole story, just as she had Grandfather. When she finished Grandfather
said, "Hortense says she has a plan for rescuing the firedogs and
alligator sofa from the little people, but she needs some help. I
wondered if you could help her, Fergus?"

Fergus thought this over for some time. Then he began to talk slowly,
as if thinking aloud, and as if no one were hearing him at all. "It
would be nice," he began, "if I didn't have to be grooming these horses
so much. But if I were to go up there on the mountain side what could I
tell Mary? I couldn't tell her the real story, because she'd never
believe it. She might even get Aunt Esmerelda and Uncle Jonas all
excited and there's no telling what would happen then. On the other
hand I wouldn't want to tell her something that isn't true, either. But
I sure would like to get this household back to normal again."

"Let me make a suggestion," offered Grandfather. "Why not tell her that
I think somebody is bothering the horses at night and I want you to
stay in the barn and guard them. If she is frightened to stay at your
house alone all night I'm sure Grandmother would come stay with her for
one night."

"That is so," said Fergus. "It is true that someone _has_ been
bothering the horses. Now I want to know what Hortense's plan is before
I finally decide whether to risk my neck for those firedogs and that
sofa."

"Well," Hortense began, "I thought if Andy and I were to go back to the
little people by making ourselves small, then after we have had time to
free the firedogs and alligator sofa, we'll wait there and you come get
us by saying the magic words to Tom and Jerry. Then we can all ride the
horses home."

"That sounds sensible," answered Fergus, "but how do you think you can
free alligator sofa and Coal and Ember? And also what if Jeremiah
should trap you in the tunnel?"

"Maybe I could keep the cat locked in the basement," suggested
Grandfather. "That way I can help, too."

Hortense was much relieved to see that Grandfather and Fergus were
willing to help her, and she surely felt much more secure with Jeremiah
safely out of the way. As for getting Coal and Ember and alligator
sofa, she thought the queen of the little people would help her if she
explained how much it was troubling her Grandmother, and in fact
upsetting the entire household.

So it was agreed. Just to be safe, Hortense planned to take Malay Kris
along, since he had proved himself such a good fighter in other close
scrapes. Now if only there would be the fifty-two cookies needed,
thirteen apiece for Fergus, Malay Kris, Andy and herself.

When Hortense went back to the kitchen Aunt Esmerelda was dozing in the
corner, her apron thrown up over her head. Hortense quietly sneaked
over to the cookie jar and peeked in. The jar was full to the brim, so
Hortense began busily putting cookies into her apron and dress pockets,
counting carefully. Just as she was about done counting them out she
felt a strange tickling on her leg. This so startled her that she
knocked the lid to the cookie jar to the floor with a crash, and she
saw Jeremiah disappear around the corner. The sudden noise woke Aunt
Esmerelda, and the old cook opened her eyes wide when she saw Hortense
with cookies bulging from every pocket.

"So tha's where all my cookies done go!" exclaimed the cook. "That yere
girl is done takin' 'em by the dozen. Whoffo you wants all those
cookies, girl? Doan you-all know you might git sick a-eatin' so much?"

Hortense had to do some very fast thinking, now, for she knew she
didn't dare scare poor old Aunt Esmerelda by telling her the cookies
were magic. So she said, "Please, Aunt Esmerelda, don't be angry. Your
cookies are just so good I could eat them all day without getting sick.
I was getting few more than usual just now because I was going to share
them with some friends of mine. I really wouldn't try to eat these all
by myself."

"Hermpf," snorted Aunt Esmerelda. "I suppose yo' friends include dat
good for nuttin' Andy, whose all da time botherin' Uncle Jonas hawses.
But dats all right, chile; ef you likes my cookies, you jus hep yoself
to dem. Dat's what day is fo."

That evening, after supper when they were all having a cup of tea in
the parlor Grandmother took a long look at Hortense, but said nothing.
Grandfather took a few puffs on his pipe and Jeremiah walked in.

"That cat has just been in too much mischief lately," declared
Grandfather. "I believe I'll try locking him the basement tonight and
see if he will stay out of trouble." At this Jeremiah arched his back
and started for the door, but Grandfather jumped up quickly and caught
him.

"Don't blame the cat," Grandmother admonished. "After all you know very
well there have been strange goings on which the cat certainly couldn't
account for--like the disappearance of the sofa."

"Nevertheless, he's been in his share of trouble, what with jumping
down the chimney and all," retorted Grandfather. "We'll try it for a
night or two this way, anyway." So against the plaintive cries of the
cat, the cellar door was locked securely after he was put downstairs.

Later, when everyone had retired, Hortense could hear Grandfather and
Grandmother talking in their bedroom, but try as she could she couldn't
catch a word they were saying, and she wondered if he might have told
Grandmother about the plan to go to the little people again. However,
after some time the conversation ceased and when all was quiet Hortense
quietly slipped downstairs and told Malay Kris of the plan. He jumped
down from the wall quickly.

"There's nothing I'd like better than a battle," he said. "Now that
Grater is out of the way maybe I can get a taste of that cat. He'd be a
nice juicy bite I fancy."

The two of them slipped out to the barn where they met Fergus and Andy.

"Now," said Hortense, dividing up the cookies, "Andy and Kris and I
will go on the back to the attic and eat our cookies, then go through
the tunnel to the place of the little people on the mountain side. The
moon is just beginning to rise, so when it is directly overhead, Fergus
can eat his cookies and fly to meet us with Tom and Jerry. That should
give us time enough to rescue Coal and Ember and alligator sofa."

On arriving at the attic and dropping down into the secret room, they
sat down and ate their cookies, then climbed on down the ladder to the
secret passage to the tunnel. When they came to the door and opened it,
imagine their surprise to find Grater untied and standing directly in
their path. Before they could retreat, they heard soft padded feet and
on turning around found Jeremiah staring intently at them, his eyes a
brilliant green.

"Well, well, well," purred the cat. "This time it looks like our turn,"
and quick as a flash Jeremiah caught Hortense with one paw and Andy
with the other, while Grater jumped on Malay Kris and they tied all
three of them with the cords which had been holding Grater.

"You forgot," said Jeremiah, "that the trap door from the chute outside
was open, so I got here ahead of you and untied Grater. Then we just
decided to wait for you, figuring you'd be along."

Meanwhile Grater began to run his prickly sides on Malay Kris so he was
no longer a sharp knife, just a dull old one. All the time Kris tried
to wriggle free of his ties, but could not.

"Enough of this," said Jeremiah, "let's get rid of these pests once and
for all. But first I believe I'll have the charm." So saying, he took
the monkey charm from Hortense, who could do nothing to stop him. Then
the cat and the grater marched their captives through the tunnel to
their house.

"Before, when we put them in the cookie jar, they escaped," said
Jeremiah.

"Why not lock them in the clock case," suggested Grater.

"Splendid idea," agreed Jeremiah, so they unlocked the door and pushed
them all inside, carefully locking them in and Grater put the key in
his pocket.

"Now," said Jeremiah, "let's go out on the mountain side and maybe we
can catch a couple of those little people and really have a fine
supper."

After they left Hortense began to cry softly. "Whatever will happen to
us now," she sobbed, and sat down on one of the pendulum weights of the
clock.

"If you don't get off my weights I'm afraid I'll have to stop," spoke
up the clock. "And if time stands still then you certainly will never
go anywhere."

"Oh, excuse me," said Hortense. "I quite forgot where we were." Then a
sudden thought came to her. "Can you help us?" she asked.

"I'm afraid not," said the clock. "You see, time can't be on anybody's
side, but must be on all sides."

"If you are on all sides, then you must be on our side," reasoned
Hortense. "Anyway, do you know any way we can get out of your inside?"

While Hortense and the clock were thus talking, Malay Kris was rubbing
his ropes against one of the weights, and finally succeeded in freeing
himself. Then he quickly jumped up and untied Hortense and Andy, and
then tried his point in the keyhole. By luck when the grater dulled his
edges, he made them exactly fit the notches in the keyhole. "Now," he
called, "if you can turn me over I believe I can turn the lock."

With Hortense standing on Andy's shoulders she could just reach Malay
Kris, and with all her effort she turned the knife, the lock opened and
the door swung out. Quickly the three friends left the cat's house and
started through the garden toward the mountain side where the little
people were.

As they came close to where the guards were, Andy sneezed. One of the
guards saw them and raised the alarm and all the guards came running.
Malay Kris tried defending them, but his edge was so dull that he could
make no dent on their armor at all. So, once again, they were subdued,
tied up, and brought before the king and queen.

"So," cried the king, "we have you again. This time we'll put you away
for good. But first search them. I don't want them to have any secrets
hidden in their pockets." So the guards went through their pockets and
found the pieces of cookie.

"They have no secret weapons, your honor," said the guards. "The only
thing we found are these pieces of cookies."

"Bring me the cookies," ordered the king. "They should be a nice
dessert for me." So saying he bit off a piece of one, and finding it
very delicious, passed the others around to the rest of his guards.
Hortense tried to stop him from eating any more, but as soon as she
started to talk, he roared, "Silence from the prisoners! You will speak
only if asked to." Then he distributed the remainder of the cookies
among his guards until they were all eaten up. After having finished
such a good dessert, he leaned back in this throne and, addressing
himself to the three, said, "Have you any final words to say before I
sentence you? Since you escaped once before, this time I intend to
throw you in the dungeon beneath the mountain. No one has ever escaped
from it."

Hortense and Andy were so frightened they couldn't say a word. But the
queen came to their rescue. "Your honor," she said, "it is true that
these strangers escaped once before. However, I can't see that they
mean us any harm. Perhaps they could even be of some help to us if we
kept them here."

"Ha!" cried the king. "Much help they'd be. They may even be spies from
another land."

"From another land we are," spoke up Malay Kris. "And we do have some
special news for you, if you care to know."

"How is that?" roared the king.

"First," said Malay Kris, "free Coal and Ember and Alligator sofa. We
came here in order to free them."

"So they are your friends," said the King. "Well, you can have that
alligator. His appetite is much too big for us. But the firedogs are
serving the queen in her bedroom and she would have to free them if
anyone does. In the meantime I'll think this over. Guards! Take them
away!"

So the guards led Hortense, Andy, and Malay Kris away to a large open
field where Alligator sofa lay sound asleep. A great number of guards
were placed all around so there was no chance of escape.

"How will we ever get back home now," Hortense said softly to Andy.
"The king ate all the rest of the cookies so we can't ever grow to our
normal size again."

But Andy was looking up in the yellow sky. The dark blue moon had risen
high overhead and the shadows of the dark red trees stood out like more
sentries guarding the prisoners. As Andy watched he knew there wasn't a
minute to spare, for soon Fergus would be coming on Tom and Jerry and
if the little people were frightened back into the mountain and they
were put in the dungeon beneath the mountain, that might be the end of
the story. So he started up to one of the guards to demand to be taken
to the king again. Before he had done two steps, however, Alligator
sofa roused from his nap and said, "Did I hear someone say they wanted
some cookies? I'm full of them. Just open my side a bit there, Malay
Kris, and help yourself."

Kris quickly opened the sofa and all his cookies fell out on the
ground. They quickly filled their pockets, just as the king came up to
them.

"How is this? More cookies?" asked the king, surprised.

The queen had heard about the good cookies and came around, too, Coal
and Ember on a leash. Just then they heard a soft pad-padding and
creaky sounds as the cat and the grater suddenly appeared. At the same
moment, the moon began to darken as the outline of Tom and Jerry
appeared closer and closer.

"Run for your lives," screamed the king, and all the little people ran
pell mell for the opening above the rock on the side of the mountain.
Hortense, Andy and Malay Kris all took a bite of cookie and suddenly
grew to their full size. Hortense seized Jeremiah and got her charm off
his neck, but not before she got scratched deeply on the arm. Andy and
Malay Kris dived for Grater, and he jumped backwards, right into the
mouth of Alligator sofa.

When Fergus landed with Tom and Jerry, he also took the last bite of
cookie and looked around. By this time the little people were all gone
and Jeremiah had likewise disappeared. The moon was getting low in the
sky, and so he gathered all the friends together.

"Soon it will be daylight," he said. "Until then, I think we'd better
all stay together here, rather than risk getting lost trying to get
down the mountain at night." So Hortense and Andy curled up on the
sofa, Coal and Ember lay down beside Tom and Jerry, and Fergus sat up
with Malay Kris to keep guard.

When the first red streaks of sunshine began to appear, all the magic
had gone with the night. Coal, Ember and Malay Kris again became cold
pieces of brass and steel, and the sofa looked just like any other
piece of furniture. Fergus shook Andy and Hortense, and when they were
awake he explained that they needed to get home by breakfast and it was
a long climb down the mountain. So they tied the sofa on Tom's back,
and Fergus helped Hortense and Andy on Jerry's broad back. He stuck
Malay Kris in a loop of his belt, and picked up the firedogs. Slowly,
this strange procession wound its way down the steep mountain, across
the brook, and up through the apple orchard toward the big house. By
the time they arrived at the barn, Grandfather was there to greet them.

"We're all back home, alive and well," he said. "I think we had better
keep it this way." With a twinkle in his eye he continued. "There is a
letter for Hortense in the morning mail. It says her folks are home
from Australia, so she's to get on the train this afternoon and we'll
not see her again until Christmas."

So this ends the strange adventure of Hortense and the cat in
Grandfather's house. Nobody ever sat on the sofa again, however, for it
felt lumpy.


      [1] Grabo's book ends with Chapter 13. This chapter was written,
      but never published, by Paul D. Adams (1923-1999) for his
      children. In it, he completes the storyline that Grabo left
      unfinished. This work is hereby released into the Public Domain.
      To view a copy of the public domain dedication, visit

      http://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/ or send a
      letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San
      Francisco, California, 94105, USA.





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