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Title: Connor Magan's Luck and Other Stories
Author: M. T. W.
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 "Connor Magan's Luck and Other Stories" ***

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STORIES***


      The Table of Contents was not in the original edition.



CONNOR MAGAN'S LUCK

And Other Stories

by

M.T.W.

Boston:
D. Lothrop & Company,
Franklin St., Corner of Hawley.

1881



[Illustration: CONNOR DREAMS A DAY-DREAM.]



[Illustration]



CONTENTS

   Connor Magan's Luck
   Why Mammy Delphy's Baby Was Named Grief
   Sammy Sealskin's Enemy
   Nannette's Live Baby
   Brothers For Sale
   A Story of a Clock
   Naughty Zay
   The Legend of the Salt Sea
   The Man with the Straw Hat
   Ruffles and Puffs
   Sugar River
   A Pioneer "Wide Awake"
   Surprised
   April Fools and Other Fools



CONNOR MAGAN'S LUCK.


[Illustration: "CONNOR."]


"I'm in luck, hurrah!" cried Connor Magan, as he threw up his brimless
hat into the air--the ringing, jubilant shout he sent after it could
only spring from the reservoir of glee in the heart of a twelve-year-old
boy. Giving a push to the skiff in which his father sat waiting for him,
he jumped from the shore to the boat, and struck out into the Ohio
river.

Tim Magan, father, and Connor Magan, son, were central figures in a very
strange picture.

Let us take in the situation.

It was a Western spring freshet. The Ohio was on a rampage--a turbulent,
coffee-colored stream, it had risen far beyond its usual boundaries,
washed out the familiar land-marks, and, still insolent and greedy, was
licking the banks, as if preparatory to swallowing up the whole country.
Trees torn up by the roots, their green branches waving high above the
flood, timbers from cottages, and wrecks of bridges, were floating down
to the Gulf of Mexico.

It was curious to watch the various things in the water as they sailed
slowly along. Demijohns bobbed about. Empty store boxes mockingly
labelled _dry goods_ elbowed bales of hay. Sometimes a weak
cock-a-doodle-doo from a travelling chicken-coop announced the
whereabouts of a helpless though still irrepressible rooster. Back yards
had been visited, and oyster-cans, ash-barrels and unsightly kitchen
debris brought to light. It was a mighty revolution where the dregs of
society were no longer suppressed, but sailed in state on the top wave.

"It is an idle wind which blows no one good," and amid the general
destruction the drift-wood was a God-send to the poor people, and they
caught enough to supply them with fire-wood for months. Logs, fences,
boards and the contents of steamboat woodyards were swept into the
current. On high points of land near the shore were collected piles
bristling with ragged stumps and limbs of trees. The great gnarled
branches of forest trees sometimes spread over half the river, while
timbers lodging among them formed a sort of raft which kept out of the
water the most wonderful things--pieces of furniture, and kitchen
utensils which shone in the sun like silver.

Cullum's Ripple is a few miles below Cincinnati. Here the deep current
sets close to the shore, making a wild kind of whirlpool or eddy that
brings drift-wood almost to land; the rippling water makes a sudden turn
and scoops out a little cove in the sand. It is a splendid place for
fishermen, but quite dangerous for boats.

Not far above Cullum's Ripple is situated the Magan family mansion, or
shanty. The river is on one side, and two parallel railroads are on the
other. On the top of the bank, and on a level with the railroads, is a
piece of land not much longer or wider than a rope-walk, and on this
only available scrap the Railroad Company have built a few temporary
houses for their workmen. They are all alike, except that a
morning-glory grows over Magan's door.

The colony is called Twinrip possibly the short of "Between Strip." (If
the name does not mean that, will some one skilled in digging up
language roots, please tell me what it does mean?) The atmosphere around
these cabins is as filled with bustling, whistling confusion as a
chimney with smoke.

Besides the water highway, on the other side, just a few feet beyond the
iron roads, a horse-car track and a turnpike offer additional facilities
for locomotion. Birds perch on the numerous telegraph wires amid wrecks
of kites and dingy pennons--once kite-tails--nothing hurts them; and
below the children of Twinrip appear just as free and safe, and seem to
have as much delight in mere living as their feathered friends.

The Magans were a light-hearted Irish family, whose cheerfulness seemed
better than eucalyptus or sunflowers to keep off the fever and ague, and
who made the most of the little bits of sunshine that came to them. Tim,
a strong-armed laborer, was brakeman on the Road. His wife, a hopeful
little body, a woman of expedients, was voted by her neighbors the
"cheeriest, condolingest" woman in Twinrip.

Good luck, according to her, was always coming to the Magans. It was
good luck brought them to America--by good luck Tim became brakeman. It
was good luck that the school for Connor was free of expense, and so
convenient.

Her loyalty to her husband rather modified the expression of her views,
yet she often expatiated to her eldest on his advantages, beginning,
"There's your father, Connor--I hope you'll be as good a man! remember
it wasn't the fashion in the ould country to bother over the little
black letters--people don't _have_ to read there--but you just mind your
books, and some day you may come to be a conductor, and snap a punch of
your own."

No doubt Connor made good resolutions, but when he sat by the window in
the school-room and looked at the dimpling, sparkling river, so
suggestive of fishing, or at the green trees filled with birds, he was
not as devoted to literature as a free-born expectant American citizen
ought to be. The teacher was somewhat strict, and it may have been in
some of her passes with Connor, the "bubblingoverest" of all her
youngsters, that she earned the name of a "daisy lammer."

But the boy knew some things by heart that could not be learned at
school. To his ear, the steam whistle of each boat spoke its name as
plainly as if it could talk. He need not look to tell whether a passing
train was on the O. & M. or on the I.C. & L. He knew the name of every
fiery engine, and felt an admiration--a real friendship for the
resistless creatures.

To climb a tree was as easy for him as if he were a cat; there were
rumors that he had worked himself to the top of the tall
flag-staff--which was as smooth as a greased pole--but I will not vouch
for their truth. He could swim like a duck, and paddled about on a board
in the river till an ill-natured flat-boatman often snarled out that
"that youngster would certain be drowned, if he wasn't born to be
hanged."

But the delight of Connor's life was to "catch the first wave" from a
big steamer. Dennis Maloney was his comrade in this perilous game. They
rowed their egg-shell of a boat close to the wheel. Drenched with
spray--for a moment they felt the wild excitement of danger. Four alert
eyes, four steady hands kept them from being sucked under--then came the
triumph of meeting the first wave that left the steamboat, and the
extatic rocking motion of the skiff as she rode the other waves in the
wake--but to catch the first was the point in the frolic! Connor was
known to many of the pilots as an adept in "catching the first wave."
Sometimes he was "tipped" by an unlooked for motion of the machinery,
but was as certain as an india-rubber ball to rise to the surface, and
a swim to shore was but fun to the young Magan.

In the house, Mother Maggie was happy when little Mike was tied in his
chair, and a bar put in the doorway to keep him from crawling into the
attractive water, if he should break loose; and when the door was bolted
on the railroad side, he was allowed to gaze through the window at the
engines smoking and thundering by all day, and fixing each blazing red
eye on him at night--an entrancing spectacle to the child. And when the
still younger Pat was tucked up in bed sucking a moist rag, with sugar
tied up in it, her world was all right, and at rest.

But it would have taken a person of considerable penetration, or as
Maggie said one who knew all "the ins and the outs" to see the peculiar
good luck of _this_ day. The water was swashing round within a few feet
of the door. Some of the workmen had moved their beds to the space
between the tracks, which was piled up with kitchen utensils, and looked
like a second-hand store.

In these days of devotion to antiques, we hear dealers in such wares say
that things are more valuable for being carefully used. This would not
apply to Twinrip's relics. The poor shabby furniture looked more than
ever dilapidated in the open daylight. The social air of a home that was
lived in, pervaded this temporary baggage-room between the tracks. One
child was asleep in a cradle, others were eating their coarse food off a
board. When a sprinkling of rain fell, an old grandmother under an
umbrella fastened to a bed-post went on knitting, serenely.

Youngsters who needed rubbers and waterproofs about as much as did
Newfoundland dogs, enjoyed the fun. One four-year old, sitting on a tub
turned upside down, was waving a small flag, a relic of the Fourth of
July--and looking as happy and independent as a king.

It took all his wife's hopeful eloquence to comfort Tim. There was no
water in Tim's cellar, because he had no cellar. The cow, their most
valuable piece of property, was taken beyond the tracks up on the
hillside, and fastened to a stake in a deserted vineyard. If the worst
came to the worst, and they were drowned out of house and home, their
neighbors were no better off, and they would all be lively together.
That was the way Maggie put it.


[Illustration: INDEPENDENT AS A KING.]


"Do you moind, Tim," she said, "when Keely O'Burke trated his new wife
to a ride on a hand-car? Soon as your eyes lighted on him you shouted
like a house-a-fire, 'Number Five will be down in three minutes!'
Didn't Keely clane lose his head? But between you, you pushed the car
off the track in a jiffy. And Mrs. O'Burke's new bonnet was all smashed
in the ditch, an' the bloody snort of Number Five knocked you senseless.
Who would have thought that boost of the cow-catcher was jist clear good
luck? And you moped about with a short draw in your chist, and seemed
bound to be a grouty old man in the chimney corner that could niver
lift a stroke for your childer, ah' you didn't see the good luck, you
know, Tim--but when the prisident sent the bran new cow with a card tied
to one horn, an' Connor read it when he came home from school: '_For Tim
Magan, who saved the train. Good luck to him!_'--wasn't it all right
then? Now you are as good as new, and our mocley is quiet as a lamb, and
if I was Queen Victoria hersel, she couldn't give any sweeter milk for
me. She's the born beauty."

Well, Connor was his mother's own boy for making the most and the best
of everything, and _he_ saw several items of good luck this day.

First: The river had risen so near the school-house that the desks and
benches were moved up between the tracks and the school dismissed;
therefore there was perfect freedom to enjoy the excitement of the
occasion. It was as good as a move or a fire.

Second: There was so much danger that the track might be undermined that
all trains were stopped by order of the Railroad Company; therefore his
father was at liberty.

Third, and best of all: Larry O'Flaherty, who lived up Bald Face Creek,
had lent him his skiff for the day. The boys had had an extatic time the
evening before, hauling in drift-wood. Though the coal-barges had
bright red lights at their bows, and the steamboats were ablaze with
green and red signals, and blew their gruff whistles continually, yet it
was hardly safe to go far from the shore at night because the Ripple was
so near. When the river was _rising_ the drift was driven close to land,
while _falling_ it floated near the middle of the river. Connor could
see the flood was still rising, and there were possibilities of a
splendid catch, for it was daylight, and they could go where they
pleased with Larry's boat.

Father and son pushed out into the river. Connor felt as if he owned the
world. Short sticks and staves were put in the bottom of the boat. Both
fishermen had a long pole with a sharp iron hook at the end with which,
when they came close to a log, they harpooned it. Bringing it near, they
drove a nail into one end, and tying a rope round the nail, they
fastened their prize to the stern of the boat. They took turns rowing
and spearing drift-wood; and when the log-fleet swimming after them
became large, they went to shore and secured it.

When the dripping logs were long and heavy, it was the custom to fasten
them with the rope close to a stake in the bank, and leave them
floating. At low water they were left high and dry on the sand.

No other drift-wood gatherers meddled with such logs. They were
considered as much private property as if already burning on the hearth.

"I'm going up the hill to feed the cow, Connor," said his father, after
a great deal of wood of every size and shape had been landed. "Mind what
you are about, and take care of Larry's gim of a boat. It was mighty
neighborly to lind it for the whole day. See now, how much drift you can
pick up by yourself."

Connor felt the responsibility, and worked diligently. He had twice
taken a load to shore, and was quite far again in the stream, when he
saw a strange sight. It was not Moses in the bulrushes, to be sure--but
a child in a wicker wagon, floating down the current amid a lot of
sticks and branches. The hoarse whistle of a steamboat near meant
danger; and to the eye of Connor the baby-craft seemed but a little
above the water, and to be slowly sinking.

Connor's shout rang back from the Kentucky hills as if it came from the
throat of an engine.

No one answered.

There were great logs between his skiff and the child--logs and child
were all moving together. Should he abandon Larry's precious boat?

Connor could not consider this. He plunged into the water and swam round
the logs. He never knew how he did it--he never knew how he cut his
hand--he never felt the pounding of the logs--he only knew that he
caught the wagon, kept those black eyes above the water, and pulled the
precious freight to shore. Then, while the water was streaming from him
in every direction, he sprang up the few steps to his mother's cabin,
and without a word placed the child, still in the wagon, inside the
door!

Running back as swiftly as his feet would carry him, Connor had the good
luck to find the deserted boat close to shore, jammed in a mass of
drift-wood, just in the turn of the Riffle.

Dragging it up and along the shore, he fastened it to a fisherman's
stake just by Twinrip. Then Connor felt he had discharged his
duty--Larry O'Flaherty's boat was safe--high and dry out of reach of
eddying logs.

Now, eager, dripping, and breathless--with eyes like stars, he flew home
again.

"Oh, mother," he said, "she's fast to the post and not a hole knocked
into her, and ain't her eyes black and soft as our mooley cow's and I
found her before the General Little ran her down--and I'm going to keep
her always--_I found her_--isn't it lucky we have a cow?"

What the boy said was rather mixed--you could not parse it, but you
could understand it.

The baby's big black eyes looked around, and she acknowledged a cup of
milk and her deliverer by a smile. It was a strange group. In the midst
of a puddle of water Mother Maggie was leaning over the new comer and
trying to untie the numerous knots in a shawl which had kept the child
in her wicker nest. Little Mike was staring open-eyed at the beads round
baby's neck, and at the coral horseshoe which hung from them. The pretty
little girl seemed quite contented, and with the happy unconsciousness
of infancy was evidently quite at home.

"Poor baby, where did she come from?" said Mother Maggie. "Won't her
mother cry her eyes out when she can't see her? We must advertise her in
one of those big city papers."

"I found her," said Connor, "she's mine."

"Why, my boy," said his mother, "she's not a squirrel--you can't keep
her as you did the bunny you found in the hickory tree, and not ask any
questions!"


[Illustration]


"I wish there were no newspapers, and that people couldn't read
besides," wrathfully exclaimed Connor.

"Maybe," he added, with hopeful cheerfulness, "both her father and
mother are drowned. May I keep her then? She may have half of my bread
and milk."

Babies were no great rarity in Twinrip, but never was there such a
happy, bright-eyed little maiden as this waif proved to be. Among the
children she glowed like a dandelion in the grass, and reigned like a
queen among her subjects.

Connor was the scholar of the family, and at length his conscience was
sufficiently roused to make him indite an advertisement which did him
much credit. He hoped it might be placed in some obscure corner of the
paper where it would be overlooked.

But next day, in a conspicuous part of the _Cincinnati Commercial_, with
four little hands pointing to it, appeared this rather unusual notice:

     "_Found in the Ohio river a baby in white dress with black eyes and
     red horseshoe round her neck, now belonging to Connor Magan. If the
     father and mother are not drowned they can enquire at the house of
     Tim Magan in Twinrip, where all is convenient for her with a cow
     given by the President. None others need apply._"

It was but the very next day after the "ad" appeared that a wagon drove
down to Twinrip, with the father and mother of the baby.

Didn't they cry and kiss and hug the lost, the found child! They lived
on a farm in Palestine, a few miles up the river. A little stream ran
into the Ohio close by their door, and the baby was often tied in her
carriage and placed on the bridge under the charge of a faithful dog. It
was a great amusement for her to watch the ducks and geese in the water.
A sudden rise swept bridge and all away. Search had been made
everywhere, but nothing had been heard of little Minnie. It had seemed
like a return from death to read Connor's advertisement.

And was not the brave lad that saved their child a hero! Again and again
they made him tell all about the rescue. Of course they had to take
their daughter home, but they made Connor promise to visit them at
Palestine.

Soon after the happy parents left, a watch came by express to the Magan
homestead, and when Connor opened the hunting-case cover, after changing
its position till he could see something besides his own twisted face
reflected in it, and after wiping away the spray that would come into
his eyes, he read:

                    _CONNOR MAGAN._
     _From the grateful parents of MINNIE RIVERS._

Was not her name a prophecy?

At the sill of the Magan homestead the flood had stopped, hesitated, and
then gone back. Maggie always said she knew it would--they always had
good luck. The little woman was happier than ever when she thought of
the whole train of people that _might_ have been thrown into the
ditch--of the cut-off legs, arms and heads, and the poor creatures
without them that _might_ have been cast bleeding on the track, if it
had not been for her faithful old Tim--and of the home with niver a
baby, and of the darlint that would have been drowned in the bottom of
the Ohio with her ears and eyes full of mud, if it had not been for her
slip of a boy.

As for Connor, he felt as if that bright-eyed girl belonged to him, and
now that he had a watch towards it, he seemed almost a ready-made
Conductor.

When the waters subsided and he went back to school, he studied with a
will. His percentage grew higher.

"Sometime," he said to himself, "I will go to Palestine. I _will_ be
_somebody_--maybe a Conductor! And a beautiful young woman with soft
black eyes will wave her handkerchief to me as I pass by in my train!
And after I make a lot of money"--how full the world is of money that
young people are so sure of getting--"after I make this money I will
bring Minnie back with me! And she will live in my house with me! And
she will say, 'Conor I am so glad you fished me out of the Ohio with
your drift-wood!' And won't _that_ be good luck for Connor Magan!"



WHY MAMMY DELPHY'S BABY WAS NAMED GRIEF.


Mammy Delphy was sitting out under the vines that climbed over the
kitchen gallery, picking a chicken for dinner, and singing. And such
singing! Some of the words ran this way:

    "Aldo you sees me go 'long _so_,
    I has my trials here below,
    Sometimes I'se up, sometimes I'se down,
    Sometimes I'se lebel wid de groun;
              Oh, git out, Satan
              Halla_lu_!"

And these words sound queer to you as you read them, perhaps, but they
did not sound queer when Mammy Delphy was singing them. I don't believe
that a song out of heaven could be sweeter than this and other songs
like it that dear old Mammy sings, with her turbaned head bobbing up
and down and her foot softly keeping time to the melody. There is a sort
of plaintive--what shall I call it?--_twist_ in her voice that makes you
choke up about the throat, if you are a boy, and sob right out if you
are a girl. And it makes you, somehow, remember, in hearing it, all the
sweet, sad little stories that your mother has told you about your
little baby sister who died before you were born; or, if you have stood
in a darkened room, holding fast to some tender and loving hand, and
looked at a face that was dear to you lying upon its coffin pillow, you
think of that strange and sad time. And with these thoughts come, as you
listen, other thoughts of flying angels and shining crowns, and
wide-opened gates of pearl. A sweetness mixed with pain--that is, the
feeling which Mammy Delphy's singing brings to you, though you could not
describe it, perhaps, if you tried--at least that's the feeling it
brings to me.

    "I'll take my shoes from off'n my feet,
    And walk into de golden street,
              Glory, Halla_lu_!"

sang Mammy. Sam and Jim and Joe came filing in. They had been--well,
where _hadn't_ they been! They had been down to the Bayou, which ran a
good quarter of a mile back of the place, "fishin for cat," and
chunking at an unwary rabbit that had taken refuge in a hollow tree;
they had been out in the field, cutting open two or three half-grown
watermelons to see if they were ripe; they had been across the prairie
to a _mott_ of sweet-gum trees, where they had stuck up the cuffs and
bosoms of their shirts with gum and torn their trousers in climbing a
persimmon tree to peep into a bird's-nest. And they were rushing across
the yard in chase of a horned-frog when they caught sight of Mammy
Delphy under the kitchen shed.

"Let's go and get Mammy Delphy to give us some meat and go a
crawfishin', boys," suggested Sam.

"And I'm hungry, for one," added Joe.

Accordingly they filed in, as I said, and stood for a moment listening
to Mammy Delphy's song.

"Give us somethin' to eat, Mammy, please," said Jim.

"An' some craw-fish bait and a piece of string," put in the other two in
a breath.

"I ain't a gwine to do it, chillun," replied Mammy Delphy, giving them a
gentle push with her elbow, for they were leaning coaxingly against her
shoulders, "I ain't a gwine to _do_ it. Yer ma's got comp'ny for dinner
and dat sassy Marthy-Ann done tuk herself to 'Mancipation-Day, an' Jin,
she totin of Mis' May's baby to sleep, an' I ain't got _no_ time to
_wase_ on yer. _Go_'long!" And as she spoke Mammy arose, chicken in
hand, and went into the kitchen to get whatever the boys wanted, as they
were perfectly aware she would, from the beginning.

"Lawd o' mussy! Jest look at dat lazy nigger! Grief!" she exclaimed as
she entered, "Grief, yer lazy good-for-nuthin' nigger, is yer gwine ter
let dem sweet-taters burn clar up?"

And seizing the collar of a negro man who sat nodding by the stove, she
gave him a sound shaking. He opened his eyes, grinned and got up slowly,
looking a little sheepish as he did so. At that moment the woolly head
of Jin, the baby's little black nurse, was poked in at the door.

"Daddy," she cried, "Miss May say as how she want you to come an' tie up
her Malcasum rose, whar dem boys is done pull down."

And Jin bestowed a withering look upon the culprits, who were already
digging their fingers into the remnants of a meat-pie, and disappeared,
followed by her father.

"Mammy Delphy," said Joe, when they were out under the vines again and
Mammy had recommenced her work, "what made you name Uncle Grief,
_Grief_? That's a mighty funny name, _ain't_ it, boys?"

"Well, chillun," said Mammy, plucking away at the chicken, "dat's so; it
_is_ a curus name like; me'n de ole man--he dead an' gone, chillun, long
fo' you was born;--me'n de ole man 'sulted long time 'bout dat chile's
name an' he war goin' on six months old fo' we name him at all."

"Well, how _did_ you happen to call him Grief?" insisted Joe.

"Yes, honey, yes. 'Twar a long time ago, chile, when Mas' Will--dat's
_yer_ pa (she nodded towards Joe) war a little fellow, heap littler'n
you, heap littler, an' Mas' Charley--dat's _yer_ pappy (to the other
two) war a baby. I war nussen _him_ long o' Grief an' Grief warn't name
yet. Miss May--dat's yer all's Gramma whar died las' year--she use to
come out to de back steps an' watch dem two babies nussen', Grief an'
Mas' Charley bof at de same time in my lap; an' Mas' Will an'
Jerry--dat's my little boy what war jes' 'bout his age--a-playing in de
back-yard, an' sometime she laugh an' cry all at de same time an' she
say: 'We is all one fam'ly, Delphy!' she say. Law's, chillun, dem _was_
times! _You_ don't know nuthin' 'bout dem times. Disher house was full
up all de time wid comp'ny; gran' comp'ny, what dress all de time in
silk an' go walkin' 'bout under de trees an' ridin' 'bout over de
prairie in de day time; and mos' every night dey call my ole man in to
play de fiddle an' den, laws, how dem young folks dance! An' ole Mas'
an' ole Mis' an' all de young ladies an gentlemen use to come down to de
cabins--_dey_ was all burnt up, time o' de war--an' sakes, honey! de
hosses an' de cayages an' de niggers an' disher big plantation, all
shinin' wid corn an' cotton! Dem _was_ times!" And Mammy's old eyes
lighted up as she went back to her youth and the glory of her family,
for she still speaks with pride of her "fam'ly."

"But Grief, Mammy?" said Jim.

"Yes, honey, yes. Yer pappy and Grief war babies, an' Grief warn't
named, an' Mas' Will an' Jerry was little boys, littler'n you. 'N one
day Miss May, she come to the back do' an' call me. I was sittin' in
disher very place dat day, nussin dem two babies, an' my mammy (she de
cook), gittin' dinner in de kitchen. 'Delphy,' Miss May say, 'Delphy,
does you know whar Will an' Jerry is? Dey ain't been seen sence
breakfast dis mornin'.


[Illustration: "YER PAPPY AN' GRIEF WAR BABIES, AN' GRIEF WARN'T
NAMED."]


"I felt curus-like dat minit, an' I jump up an' run all over de place
lookin' for dem boys. 'Rectly all de house gals an' everybody--Mas' and
Mis' an' everybody--commence to hunt for dem chillun. We look
everywhere--in de hay-top, in de cotton gin-house, out on de
prairie--_everywhere_. Den I saw Miss May--dat's yer granma, turn
white-like, an' she say, 'Oh Delphy, oh James'--dat's yer grandpa--'de
ole well in de field! de ole well in de field!'

"Over in de bayou-field--it done full up now, ole Mas' had a well dug to
water de hosses out in. It war kivered up wid some bodes.

"I don't 'zactly 'member 'bout goin' over to de field, but when I got
dar wid dem two babies in my arms an' stood 'long side o' Miss May--"

Mammy Delphy spoke more and more slowly. She had stopped picking the
chicken, and great tears were rolling down her cheeks. The boys stood
stricken and silent.

--"Stood 'long side o' Miss May, fus thing I hear war Jerry sayin'
weak-like an' way down in de well: 'Don't you cry, Mas' Will! Hol' on to
my neck, Mas' Will! Hol' tight, Mas' Will! I kin hol' you up. Don't you
be feerd Mas' Will, I kin hol' you up! Don't you be feerd Mas' Will; I
kin hol' you up!'

"Ole Mas' lean over de well an' look in. Mas' Will he warn't as high as
Jerry, an' Jerry he war standin in de water up to his neck an' hol'in'
Mas' Will up out'n de water. An' dem chillun had been in dat well all
day, honey, 'all day, an' my Jerry holdin Mas' Will out'n de water; an'
dat water col' as ice! Den ole Mas' let down de rope dey fotch an' tole
Mas' Will to ketch hol'. An Mas' Will--dat yer pappy, honey--he say,
weak-like, 'Take Jerry too, pappy, take Jerry too!'

"'We'll get Jerry next time,' says ole Mas'. An' Jerry help Mas' Will fix
de rope roun' him an' dey pull him up out'n de water. He done fainted
when dey got him out, an' he tuk de fever, an' dat chile war sick mos'
six months, an' all de time he had de fever, he say: 'Take Jerry too,
pappy, take Jerry too!' And when he come to hisself, he say right off:

"'Where's Jerry? I want Jerry.'"

Mammy Delphy stopped.

"And where _was_ Jerry, mammy?" cried the boys, breathless.

"'Where war Jerry?' Ole Mas' let down de rope an' say right loud: 'Ketch
holt, Jerry my boy!' But Jerry couldn't ketch holt, chillen. Jerry war
dead."

"_Oh mammy!_"

"Yes, chillun, yes. Dey rub him an' rub him, an' do everything to fotch
him to life. But, my Jerry war dead. An' when me'n de ole man come home
from de funeral--dey buried him in de white folks' buryin'-groun,' long
side o' Miss May's little gal what died--an' put a tombstone at de
head--when we come home from de funeral dat night, de ole man look at
de baby on my lap an' he say, 'Delphy, honey,' he say, 'I think disher
baby mout be name _Grief_.' An' we name him Grief."

Mammy Delphy wiped her eyes and resumed her work. Then, looking up to
the blue sky which shone between the vines, she began singing again:

    "Call me in de mornin' Lord,
    Or call me in de night,
    I'se always ready Lord,
             Glory Halla_lu_!"

And the boys, subdued and silent, and for a moment forgetful of
horned-frogs and crawfish, went away softly, as if leaving a grave.



SAMMY SEALSKIN'S ENEMY.


"Where going, Sammy Sealskin?".

"Down to my kayah, Tommy Fishscales."

"Is there any fish to-day?"

"A few, they say, but there is lots of seals--plenty of 'em on the rocks
in the bay."

"All right; bring home something to your friend, Tommy."

Sammy pushed off his kayah from shore. It was a funny sort of boat,
according to our notions. It was only nine inches deep, and about a foot
and a half wide in the middle, tapering to a point at either end and
curving upward. It was about sixteen feet long. Its frame was of very
light wood, and this was covered with tanned seal-skin. Sammy's mother
was a Greenlander, and she could sew on seal-skin very handily, using
sinews for thread; and she had covered her little boy's boat with
seal-skin, leaving a hole in the centre just large enough to receive
Sammy.

When he had dropped into his place, he then laced the lower border of
his jacket to the rim of the hole, and there he was all snug--not a drop
of water could get in. Grasping his single oar, about six feet long,
with a paddle at either end, and flourishing it in the water right and
left, away swept the young fisherman.

"I should think his craft would be top-heavy, and over he would go,"
says some reader.

One naturally would think his craft would be top-heavy and over he would
go, as the kayah has no keel and carries no ballast, and if we should
try a kayah, it would certainly be on land. But those Greenlanders learn
to handle themselves so well that their kayahs will go dancing over the
big billows and then fly through a ragged, dangerous surf. From their
kayahs, too, they will fight the fierce white bear.

Ah! Sammy, what is the matter?

"Ugh-h-h-h!"

Sammy gives a melancholy groan. He begins to suspect that his boat is
leaking.

_Could_ any one have slit the seal-skin bottom?

The kayah is really settling.

Sammy feels troubled. "I _must_ go home," he says.

He turns his back upon the bright, beautiful sea, tufted with cakes of
ice that seem in the distance like the white, pure lilies on a glassy
pond, and paddles off home with good-by to the fishing, good-by to the
black-headed seals, good-by to the low islands with their gulls and
mollimucks and burgomeisters and tern and kittiwakes and
eider-ducks--good-by to the long day's fun!

"It makes me feel like a mad whale," said Sammy, "to be cheated out of
my fishing. I wonder who cut my kayah!"

Just then he looked off to the shore, and there stood Billy Blubber, an
ancient enemy.

"There's the fellow," said Sammy. "He slit my kayah, I know. If I had
him, I'd eat him quicker than a tern's egg. Just see how he looks!"

Billy did look exasperating. He saw everything and he enjoyed
everything. Plainly he was the miscreant. He was waddling round on his
stout little legs, flourishing a huge jack-knife, and grinning as if he
were going to have a big dish of whale-fat for dinner. He looked comical
enough. He was dressed in seal-skin, and was bobbing up and down in his
mother's seal-skin boots. The women's boots are of tanned seal-skin,
bleached white and then colored. The boots of Billy's mother were very
gay. They were bright red ones. When Billy from his tent-door saw Sammy
coming, he crawled into the huge big boots, and bare-headed rushed--no,
waddled out, to greet the discomfited fisherman.

"Billy, I'll give it to you?"

"Will you, Sammy? Try it, old boy."

Thereupon, he put his thumb to his nose and wriggled his finger as
exasperatingly as any Yankee boy here in this enlightened land. His flat
face, his black little eyes, his stubby little nose, his hair black as
coal and long behind, but fashionably "banged" in front, the seal-skin
suit, mother's big red boots, and the nasal gesture made a very
interesting picture, and a most provoking one also.

"Billy, you _will_ catch it!"

"I should rather think you had caught it already. Did you bring any
seal-fat, Sammy?"

Sammy felt mad enough and hot enough to set the water to boiling between
his kayah and the shore.

"You had better run, Billy."

"Plenty of time, Sammy."

Sammy's kayah was now ashore. Sammy unlaced his jacket and let himself
out of jail. Pulling his kayah high up the shore, he turned it over and
let the water escape. There were two ugly gashes in the seal-skin
bottom--just as he expected.

"Now where's that Billy?" asked Sammy at last. But mother's red boots
had prudently withdrawn.

"I _will_ give it to him," said Sammy; "but I will mend this first."

He took up his beloved kayah and walked to the little village. It was
not very large. There were half a dozen seal-skin tents, a few houses of
stone and turf, and one or two wooden buildings, besides the
government-house that proudly supported the flag of Denmark.

"What do you want, Sammy?" said his mother, as he appeared at the door
of one of the seal-skin tents. She was sitting on a bed of reindeer
skins.

"I want needle and thread, mother. That Billy Blubber cut some holes in
my kayah."

"Billy Blubber did?"

"Yes," said Sammy, "and I would like to sew him up in a seal-skin and
drop him from the top of an iceberg into the sea."

"Tut, tut, Sammy. It's a boy's trick. Let it go."

"There," thought Sammy, shouldering his kayah and moving off, "that is
what mother always says when Billy harms me."

"Where are you going, Sammy?"

"Off to mend my kayah, mother."

"Nonsense! Only women can mend kayahs. I will fix it. You go off and
take a walk, and then come to dinner. We are going to have a young
seal."

A seal! Wasn't that nice? Who wouldn't be a young Greenlander, own a
kayah, and have seal for dinner? The prospect before Sammy made him feel
better. The world, too, looked different.

"What a nice place we live in!" thought Sammy. "I wouldn't live in
Denmark for anything, old Denmark, where our rulers come from."

The scenery about the Greenland village was indeed interesting. There
was the blue sea before it, dotted with "pond-lilies." Off the mouth of
the harbor, the icebergs went sailing by, so white, so stately, so slow,
like a fleet almost becalmed. Back of the village swelled the rocky
cliffs bare of snow now, and many rivulets went flashing down their
sides from ponds and pools nestling in granite recesses. Away off,
towered the mountains, their still snowy tops suggesting the powdered
heads of grand old Titans sitting there in state.

"Who wouldn't live in Greenland?" thought Sammy, entirely forgetting the
long, cold, dark winter.

However, it was summer then. He went back of his mother's seal-skin
tent. There he could see a beautiful valley in the shadow of the
cliffs. Moss and grasses thickly carpeted it. Little brooks went
sparkling through it. There were flowers in bloom, poppies of gold,
dandelions and buttercups, saxifrages of purple, white and yellow. "And
trees were there?" asks a reader. Do you see that shrub just before
Sammy? That is the nearest thing to a tree. It is pine. If the fat for
cooking the dinner should give out, young Miss Seal may be warmed up by
the help of this giant pine. As a rule, we are inclined to think that
Sammy takes his seal same as folks who like "oysters on the shell"--raw.

"Ky-ey! Ky-ey!"

"My!" exclaimed Sammy. "What is that noise? It must be a dog
somewhere--hurt!"

Sammy started to the rescue.

"Ky-ey! Ky-ey!"

"It must be a dog," declared Sammy, and he expected to see one of those
large Greenland dogs, wolf-like, with sharp, pointed nose, and ears held
up stiff as if to catch every sound of danger in their dangerous
travels.

Sammy rushed up a little hill before him, and rushed in such a hurry
that he did not think how steep the other side was. He lost his balance,
and over he went, head down, seal-skin boots up, turning over like a
cart-wheel.

"Ky-ey! Ky-ey! Ah, Sammy! Ky-ey! Ky-ey! Catch him!"

It was that old enemy, Billy Blubber, ky-eying in part, and laughing
also as if he would split. He only expected to get Sammy to the top of
the hill and there tell him he was fooled.

"This though is better than a sea-lion hunt," thought Billy, and he
roared again and shook till he threatened to come in pieces like a
barrel when the hoops are off.

"I will catch you and pay you," said Sammy.

"Try it," defiantly shouted Billy, wearing now his own boots, having
dropped his mother's red casings.

Off went Billy. Right ahead, was a great gray ledge. There was a crack
in the ledge big enough for a boy's foot. Billy was the boy to have his
foot caught in it! He tried to pull it out, but the sudden wrench was
not good for his foot, and there he stood yelling--he was ky-eying now
in good earnest.

"I have a great mind," thought Sammy, "to let you stay there. I wonder
how you would like to stay and have a duck come along and nip off your
nose."

It would have been a nice little nip, for Billy's nose was quite plump.
It looked like a fat plum stuck on to the side of a pumpkin.

Well, how long should Sammy have kept him there?

"Till the sun went down," says some one.

The idea! Why, the sun in summer goes round and round and round, never
setting through June and July. Then the sun begins to dip below the
horizon, going lower and lower, till at last it disappears. For one
hundred and twenty-six days Sammy and Billy did not see the sun. Through
that long, dark night, the stars would shine, so white and solemn, down
upon the ice and snow everywhere stretching. Until the last of July
would have been a long time for plum-nosed Billy to stand with his foot
in that crack. Suddenly, Sammy heard a noise. "What is that?" he asked.

It was a walrus bellowing in the bay. Sammy turned toward the blue
water. As he turned, he saw the minister standing near his chapel. Sammy
thought of the text he preached from, the Sunday before, and he began to
repeat it to himself:

"_Love your enemies_--"

"I guess I will let Billy stay here about an hour," said Sammy,
meditating.

"_Bless them that curse you_--"

"I guess I will let Billy stay here half an hour."

"_Do good to them that hate you_--"

"I guess I will let Billy stay here ten minutes."

"_And pray for them which despitefully use you_--"

"I guess I will take Billy out now!" And Sammy ran towards the prisoner.

"Billy, are you hurt?"

Billy turned his head away, ashamed to speak.

"Let me take your foot out."

Billy's foot was about as fat as a bear's in July, and it came hard. He
shook his head. His tongue stuck to his mouth like a clam to his shell,
and moved not. Neither could he step.

"I will take you on my back, Billy!" said Sammy.

And that's the way they went home. Billy in his dress generally looked
like a seal standing on his hind flippers, and Sammy resembled one
also--nevertheless it was a pleasant sight.



NANNETTE'S LIVE BABY.


A good many years ago, in the city of Philadelphia, lived a little girl,
named Nannette.

One summer afternoon her mother went to pay a short visit to her aunt,
who lived near by, and gave her little girl permission to amuse herself
on the front door-steps until her return. So Nannette, in a clean pink
frock and white apron, playing and chatting with her big, wax "Didy,"
which was her doll's name, formed a pretty picture to the passers-by,
some of whom walked slowly, in order to hear the child's talk to her
doll.

"You'se a big, old girl," she went on, smoothing out Didy's petticoats,
"and I've had you for ever and ever, and I'se mos' six. But you grow no
bigger. You never, never cry, you don't. You'se a stupid old thing, and
I'm _tired_ of _you_, I am! I b'leve you'se only a _make b'leve_ baby,
and I want a _real_, _live_ baby, I do--a baby that will cry! Now don't
you see," and she gave the doll's head a whack--"that you don't cry? If
anybody should hit _me_ so, I'd squeam _m-u-r-d-e-r_, I would! And then
the p'lissman would come, and there would be an _awful_ time. There, now
sit up, can't you? Your back is like a broken stick. Oh, hum, I'm tired
of _you_, Didy."

Leaving the doll leaning in a one-sided way against the door, Nannette
posed her dimpled chin in her hands, and sat quietly looking into the
street. Presently a woman came along with a bundle in her arms, and
seeing Nannette and "Didy" in the doorway, went up the steps and asked
the little girl if she would not like to have a real little _live_ baby.

"One that will _cry_?" eagerly asked Nannette.

"Yes, one that will cry, and laugh, too, after a bit," answered the
woman, all the time looking keenly about her; and then in a hushed voice
she asked the child if her mother was at home.

"No--she's gone to see my auntie, shall I call her?" replied Nannette,
jumping to her feet, and clapping her hands, from a feeling as if in
some way she was to have her long-wished-for _live_ baby.

"No; don't call her; and if you want a baby that will _cry_, you must be
very quiet, and listen to me. Mark me now--have you a quarter of a
dollar, to pay for a baby?"

"I guess so," answered Nannette; "I've a lot of money up stairs." And
running up to her room, she climbed into a chair, took down her money
box from a shelf, and emptying all her pennies and small silver coin
into her apron, ran down again.

"This is as much as a quarter of a dollar, isn't it?"

The woman saw at a glance that there was more than that amount, and
hastily taking poor little Nannette's carefully hoarded pennies, she
whispered:

"Now carry the baby up-stairs and keep it in your own little bed. Be
careful to make no noise, for it is sound asleep. Don't tell anybody you
have it, until it cries. Mind that. When you hear it cry, you may know
it is hungry."

Then the woman went hurriedly away, and Nannette never saw her again.

Nannette's little heart was nearly breaking with delight at the thought
of having a real, live baby; and holding the bundle fast in her arms,
where the woman had placed it, she began trudging up-stairs with it.
Finally puffing and panting, her cheeks all aglow, she reached her
little bed, and turning down the covers, she put in the bundle and
covering it up carefully, she gave it some loving little pats, saying
softly, "_My_ baby, my real, little live baby that will _cry_!" And then
she carefully tripped out of the room and down-stairs again.

Very soon Nannette's mother came home, bringing her a fine large apple,
which drove all thoughts of the baby from her mind, and it was only when
night came, and she was seated at the supper-table with her papa and
mamma that she remembered her baby; but at that time, suddenly, from
somewhere that surely was in the house, came a baby's cry; and clapping
her hands, her eyes dancing with joy, Nannette began to slide down from
her chair, saying with great emphasis, "That's _my_ baby."

Her mother laughed. "_Your_ baby, Nannette?"

"Yes, mamma, _my_ baby; don't you hear it _cry_? 'Tis _hungry!_" And she
started to run up-stairs, but her mother called her back.

"Why, Nannette, what ails you? What do you mean about _your_ baby?" she
asked in surprise.

"Why MY BABY, mamma! I bought it for a quarter of a dollar! a baby that
_cries_--not a mis'ble make b'leve baby. Oh, how it _does_ cry! it must
be _awful_ hungry!" And away she darted up the stairs.

Her father and mother arose from their seats in perfect amazement, and
followed their little girl to her room, where, lying upon her bed, was
a bundle from which came a baby's cries. Nannette's mother began to
unfasten the wrappings, and sure enough there was a wee little girl not
more than two or three weeks old looking up at them with two great wet
eyes.

Of course Nannette was questioned, and she related all she could
remember of her talk with the woman from whom she bought the baby. Her
papa said perhaps the baby had been stolen, and that something had been
given to it to make it sleep.

"But what shall we do with it?" asked both the father and mother. "_Do_
with it?" cried Nannette. "Why, it is _my_ baby, mamma! I paid all my
money for it. It _cries_, it does! I will keep it always."

So it was decided, that the baby should stay, if nobody came to claim
it, which nobody ever did, although Nannette's papa put an advertisement
in a newspaper about it.

It would take a larger book than this one in which to tell all of
Nannette's experiences in taking care of "_my_ baby," as she called the
little girl, whom she afterward named Victoria, in honor of the then
young queen of England.

Victoria is now a woman, and she lives, as does Nannette, in the city of
Philadelphia. She has a little girl of her own, "mos' six" who is named
Nannette for the good little "sister-mother," who once upon a time
bought her mamma of a strange woman for a quarter of a dollar, as she
thought. And this other little Nannette never tires of hearing the
romantic story of the indolent "Didy" and the "real little live baby
that will _cry_."



BROTHERS FOR SALE.


Molly was six years old; a plump, roly-poly little girl with long,
crimpy golden hair and great blue eyes. She had ever so many brothers;
Fred, a year older than herself, and who went to the Kindergarten with
her, was her favorite. Molly was very fond of swinging on the front-yard
gate; a forbidden pleasure, by the way. This is the preface to my story
about Molly.

One windy, sunny day the little girl was "riding to Boston" on the front
gate; she had swung out and let the wind blow her back again a half
dozen times, and she was happy as a captain on the high seas, enjoying
the swaying, dizzy motion.

Every little girl--and many a boy--has swung on a gate, standing tip-toe
on the lower bar, leaning the chin on the upper bar; and as the gate
swayed outward, watched the brick pavement rush under foot like a swift
stream, all the time dreaming she was a steamboat.


[Illustration]


In some such position, with some such thoughts. I suppose, was our Molly
when a strange cry reached her ears.

"Brothers for sale? Brothers for sale? Got any brothers for sale?"

"Dot a plenty," said Molly as the gate swung plump against the oddest
great man.

He was very tall, wore a huge fur cap, and great coat that reached from
his chin to his ankles. The pockets were evidently so full that they
bulged out on all sides, and his red belt was stuck full of every odd
toy imaginable.

He had besides, an enormous pack on his back.

Molly's eyes, always wholly devoted to the business of seeing, observed
all this.

But she only remarked, "What makes your face so _rusty_?"

Perhaps he didn't hear her; anyway he repeated his cry, "Brothers for
sale? Got any brothers for sale?" and was moving on when Molly's piping
voice screamed after him, "Tell yer _yes_; dot a plenty!"

This time he stood still.

"Dot one, two, free--many's _ten_ I fink. Tommy, he's naughty, calls my
rag dolly a meal-bag--I'll sell him. He's a drefful wicked boy; he snaps
beans at the teacher and gets a whipping every single day."

"I'll take him," said the big man. "How much shall I pay you--what shall
I give you for him?"

"A han'kercher with some _perfoomery_ on it."

"Yes, yes, here you have it," he said, and taking a great bottle from
his belt, and a little blue-bordered handkerchief from one pocket, he
sprinkled it profusely with some real cologne and gave it to the
delighted child.

"Any more brothers for sale, little girl? I'm in want of some boys?"

"Yes, sir! You can have Johnny, he tears up my dolls and mamma lets him
wear my bestest sash--_and_ the baby, he gets the coli'c and
screams--_and_ Harry, he won't bring in the wood for mamma, and he eats
up my candy and has cookies for supper and I don't, _and_--"

"I'll take 'em all," grunted the big man.

"I'll sell Harry for a doll with _truly_ hair and a black silk and
ear-rings and some choc'late ca'mels," said she with the air of an old
trader.

"What luck!" he laughed; and diving into another pocket, he brought
forth a handful of candy and filled Molly's apron pockets, then taking
off his great cap he shook down a lovely doll, with _truly_ hair indeed,
long and curly, dressed in a black silk with train and pull-back just
like mamma's.

"And what'll you sell Jonathan for?"

"Johnny, you mean--you can have him for a kitten sir."

In an instant the fur cap was off, and a little mewing kitten was
produced, for her wondering and delighted gaze.

"And the baby--he wouldn't be worth much to me--"

"Well, he is to me--but I'll sell him for a red cardinal sash and a
little sister 'bout as big as Tilly White."

"Whew!" he exclaimed, "you most take my breath away! but here's the
sash--a beauty, too--I don't happen to have any little sisters with me,"
feeling of the outside of his pockets, peering into his pack, and even
taking off the great cap and shaking it as if a little girl _might_ be
folded up in that. "No, really I haven't a little sister about me, but
don't you cry; I'll bring one round to-morrow--and now I must be picking
up these brothers--where are they?"

"Baby Willie is in the back-yard in his carriage and Johnny and Harry
are playing _fooneral_ with him," said she, gravely.

"But that wasn't all; don't cheat me, little girl!" frowned the big
freckled-faced man.

"No! I wasn't going to--Tommy--he's in the yard round the corner there
with the big boys--he's 'leven--he's my greatest brother--he's a drefful
wicked boy--" Molly was going on with the bean-story very likely, but
at that moment the funeral procession of a baby carriage and two
followers filed up.

The great man darted forward, seized three-year-old Johnny and Harry in
his arms, stuffed one head-first, the other legs-first, into the
monstrous pack.

The one that went in head-first had his fat legs left dangling; the one
that went in legs-first, his head sticking out.

The baby went into one of his deep pockets where his screams were
stifled.

This was the work of a second and the man hurried out of sight, saying
cheerily over his shoulder to Molly, "I'll bring round the little sister
to-morrow."

Molly had so many things to take her attention that she had no time to
be conscience-smitten.

There was her odorous handkerchief; her sash, which she hung over her
arm; her pockets full of candy; under one arm the wonderful doll; under
the other, the live kitten.

But in a half hour the doll had ceased to charm; she couldn't tie the
sash herself; the "perfoomery" had evaporated; the kitten had scratched
her hand because Molly had picked her up by the tail; only a few
chocolate caramels were left, and, I suspect that all seemed as "vanity
of vanities" to poor Molly. Just then Fred, her favorite and only
remaining brother, came dancing down the path and stopped, amazed before
Molly's display of wealth.


[Illustration: SHE COULDN'T SPARE FREDDIE.]


Somehow the "choc'late ca'amels" tasted sweeter again when she shared
them with Fred, and she couldn't help saying, "Ain't they _boolicious_,
Freddie?"

She hadn't time to tell Freddie how she came possessed of all her
treasures, for there again appeared at the gate the same great man, with
his cry, "Brother for sale!"

"No, no!" screamed Molly, throwing her two fat arms round Fred, at the
same time crying, "Run away Freddie, quick! run away."

Now considering that Fred had the doll and the kitten in his lap, and
his sister's arms around his neck, it wasn't strange that the little
fellow didn't run.

"I'll give you ten dollars for this boy," said the great man, unwinding
Molly's arms, and picking fat Fred up, and thrusting him like a roll of
cotton batting under his arm.

Molly screamed and--and--well--she woke.

She hadn't been swinging on the gate at all; there wasn't any horrid,
_rusty_-faced man standing by her; she had been asleep in school and
dreaming.

But she couldn't believe it; and with all Miss Winche's kind coaxing,
she wouldn't lift her face from her desk, and would only sob, "I want my
Freddie! I want my Freddie!"

The funniest part of it was, the child hadn't been asleep five minutes.
She had been idly listening to a spelling class, and just after the
word "_sail_" dropped into a nap.

By the way, perhaps I should not omit to mention that before she went to
school that morning she had declared to her mother that boys were
_bothers_; no wonder! baby Willie, at breakfast, had punched his little
fist down into her mug, spilled the milk, and sent the mug crashing on
the floor. Johnny had taken the orange out of her sacque pocket, and she
had to let him have it because he was "a little fellow," and Harry and
Tommy had carried all the cookies to school in their pockets.

But now--after the dream, Molly hugged the baby; and she said
confidentially to mamma, "Isn't he sweet?--I don't think boys are a
bother, do you, mamma?"

And a little later, while rocking her old rag-doll, "mamma," said she,
"I won't ever swing on the front-gate again ever--ever--ever in my
life."



A STORY OF A CLOCK.


My real name was so short that I was called Nancy, "for long." I was the
fourth child in a very large family. The three elder were a brother and
two sisters. The first, very quick at books and figures, finished his
education at an early age, and seemed to me about as old and dignified
as my father. My sisters, Sarah and Mary, were exemplary in school and
out. The former, at eight, read Virgil; painted "Our Mother's Grave" at
eleven--'twas an imaginary grave judging from the happy children
standing by; wrote rhymes for all the albums, printed verses on
card-board and kept on living. Mary read every book she could find; had
a prize at six years of age for digesting "Rollins' Ancient History;"
had great mathematical talent, and though she sighed in her fourteenth
year that she had grown old, yet continues to add to her age, being one
of the oldest professors in a flourishing college.

With such precedences, it is not strange that my parents were astonished
when their fourth child developed other and less exaggerated traits,
with no inclination to be moulded. Within ten months of my eighth year,
my teacher, who had previously dealt with Sarah and Mary with great
success, made the following remark to me: "If thou wilt learn to answer
all those questions in astronomy," passing her pencil lightly over two
pages in _Wilkin's Elements_ "before next seventh day, I'll give thee
two cents and a nice note to thy parents" (my father was a scientific
man, and my mother a prime mover in our education).

"Two cents" did seem quite a temptation, but the lesson I concluded not
to get. "I worked wiser than I knew." I may have wanted a "two cents"
many a time since, but I never was sorry about that. Spelling,
arithmetic, grammar, geography, history and reading, though they were
the Peter-Parley edition, seemed about enough food for a child that was
hungering and thirsting for a doll like Judith Collin's, and for
capacity to outrun the neighboring boys. To be sure the recitation in
concert, where the names of the asteroids, only four in number (instead
of a million and four) were brought out by some of us, as "vesper,"
"pallid," "you know," and "serious" showed that we did not confine
ourselves too closely to the book.

Seventh-day afternoon was a holiday, and on one of these occasions I was
sent to stay with my grandmother, as my mother, as my maiden aunt (the
latter lived with my grandmother) were going to Polpis to a corn-pudding
party. I was too troublesome to be left at home, therefore, two birds
were to be killed with one stone.

Now I had for a long time desired to be left alone with my lame and deaf
grandmother and the Tall Clock, especially the Tall Clock. I went,
therefore, to her old house on Plover street in a calm and lovely frame
of mind and helped get my aunt ready for the ride.

'Twas a cold day though September; and after she took her seat in the
flag-chair tied into the cart, I conceived the notion to add my
grandmother's best "heppy" to the wraps which they had already put into
the calash. I always had wanted a chance at that camphor-trunk; and the
above cloak, too nice to be worn, lay in the bottom underneath a mighty
weight of neatly-folded articles of winter raiment. It came out with a
"long pull" and many a "strong pull" and I got to the door with the
head of it, while the whole length of this precious bright coating was
dragging on the floor. But the cart had started, and when my aunt looked
back, I was flourishing this "heppy" to see the wind fill it.

I returned to the room, restored the article to the chest quite snugly,
leaving one corner hanging out and that I stuffed in afterwards and
jumped upon the cover of the trunk so that it shut. Very demurely I sat
down before the open fire by my grandmother's easy chair, rocking
furiously, watching my own face in the bright andirons, whose convex
surfaces reflected first a "small Nancy" far off, then as I rocked
forward, a large and distorted figure. My rapid motions made such rapid
caricatures that I remained absorbed and attentive. My grandmother, not
seeing the cause of my content, decided (as she told my mother
afterwards), "that the child was sick, or becoming regenerated." Happy
illusion!

At last, my grandmother got to nodding and I sprang to my
long-contemplated work.

Putting a cricket into one of the best rush-bottom chairs, I climbed to
the Clock; took off the frame glass and all, from its head, placing it
noiselessly on the floor; opened the tall door in the body of the clock;
drew out and unhung the pendulum--the striking weight, whose string was
broken, was made all right and put for the time being on the table. Then
the "moon and stars" which had been fixed for a quarter of a century,
were made to spin; the "days of the month" refused to pass in review
without a squeak that must be remedied, so I flew into the closet to get
some sweet oil which was goose-grease; but shutting the closet-door I
roused my grandmother.

I quietly went at the old rocking again, the bottle of goose-grease in
my pocket, which I feared might melt and I should lose the material--the
bottle was already low.

Fortunately my grandmother began napping again, and I resumed my task.
Applying the oil with a bird's wing was a lavish process--the wheels
moved easily; the hands became quite slippy; the moon "rose and set" to
order; the days of the month glided thirty times a minute, and I was
just using a pin to prove the material of the dial when my grandmother
turned her head, at the same time reaching for her cane (the emergency
had been foreseen and special care had I taken that the cane should not
be forthcoming). "Nancy! Nancy! is thee crazy?"

Thinking to strengthen this idea, I jumped into the clock and held the
door fast; but finally thinking 'twas cowardly not to face it I jumped
out again, up into the chair, saying, "I am mending this old clock;" and
notwithstanding her remonstrances, continued my work putting back the
various pieces. When I was afraid of "giving out and giving up," I
decided I would just answer her back once and say "I wont." The
wickedness would certainly discourage her beyond a hope, and then I
could finish.

So I put the moon on, staring full; in putting on the hands I got, I
thought, sufficiently worked up to venture my prepared reply to her
repeated "get down!"

I accordingly approached my grandmother, stopping some feet from her;
bent my body half-over, my long red hair covering my eyes, and my head
suiting its action to my earnestness, and in a decided rebellious tone,
I spelled, "I W-O-N-T;" but accidently giving myself a turn on my heel I
fell to the floor, with the pronunciation still unexpressed.

I quickly rose, though I saw stars without any "two cents," and returned
to, and finished my work. I had just put the last touch on when I heard
the wheels. How I dreaded my aunt's appearance! As she entered the door
I was found "demurely rocking" to the pictures in the andirons.

My aunt thought I did not seem natural, and kissed me as being "too
good, perhaps, to be well." My grandmother tried to speak, but I
interrupted:

"I must go home without my tea. I am not afraid of the dark, and I
better go."

This was another proof of indisposition to the aunt. I left the house,
kissing as I thought, my grandmother into silence; but as I looked back
I saw she could not utter a word without laughing at the aunt's anxiety,
and so had to put off the narration till after my departure.

I went home about as fast as possible; desired to go to bed
immediately--never went before without being sent, and then not in a
very good mood. My mother followed me with a talk of "herb tea," and as
I thought I must have some "end to the farce," I agreed that a little
might do me good. My mother consequently brought me, I do believe, a
"Scripture measure" pint of bitter tea, which I hurriedly drank, as I
knew my sisters had already started for my grandmother's, to see how I
had been through the afternoon. When they returned, though I heard the
laughing and talking in the sitting-room below, I was, to all intents
and purposes, sound asleep and snoring.

No allusion was ever made to my demeanor. I went to school as usual,
and told the school-girls that I had had such a good time at my aunt's
the day before that I would never go there again "as long as I lived."

My grandmother and aunt died long ago. For years I had no reason to
believe that my afternoon's tragedy was known to any one. But once, not
long since, speaking of that clock, I said, "I'm glad it did not descend
to me;" when a friend replied, with a very knowing look, "So is your
grandmother!"



NAUGHTY ZAY.


[Illustration]


Once upon a time there was a dear little naughty girl, not _bad_, she
would not have been so dear had she been really bad, but just naughty
sometimes, and I must confess "sometimes" came pretty often. She had all
sorts of loving scolding names, such as "precious torment," "darling
bother," and she kept her poor dear grandmother on a continuous trot to
see what mischief she was in, and frightened her mother (who thought
everybody must want to steal Zay) by hiding behind the Missouri currant
bush until every nook and corner had been searched; and she made her
uncle shake his head gravely because she never could get beyond the
first question in the Catechism, "what is your name?" and even then
would answer _Zay_, although he had told her that "that was not her name
at all; she had been baptized Salome; and Zay was a name she had no
right to whatever." Nor can I begin to tell you the times I have
exhausted all my strength putting her sturdy little self into the
closet, and then standing first on one foot, then on the other, until I
was ready to drop, listening at the keyhole for the first small sob of
repentance.

Things had gone wrong with our naughty little Zay this morning. Mary,
the good old cook, who had been in the house years before Zay was born,
had actually refused to let her make any more mud-pies on her kitchen
window; and mamma and grandma had sided with the enemy.

Zay was a little dumpling of a girl, with hard round cheeks like red
apples, fat dimpled arms, and such wide-open eyes, and she looked very
funny now as she drew herself up to her fullest height, which was not
much of a height after all, brushed off her pretty blue dress, shook
down her clean ruffled apron, and addressed us all in very solemn
tones:

"I jes' want to tell you, I've been _resulted_, and I am never going to
live here anymore! I'll go 'way; clear off in the woods! And then I
guess you'll all be sorry! Mary need never make any more scrambled eggs
for breakfast, cause" (she almost broke down at the bare thought of so
direful a catastrophe), "cause there'll never be any chil'en to eat 'em
anymore! And _then_ I guess grandpa will be sorry when he comes home
tired, and doesn't have his s'ippers all yeddy!"

"O," said her mamma, gravely, "you are going right off, are you, before
dinner?"

"Yes, wight st'ait away, _now_! I'll go get my hat."

Down stairs the quick feet pattered to the hall-closet where the little
sun hat hung, always ready for the garden. Soon she was back, and held
her chin up with great composure for grandma to tie the strings.

The dear grandmother quietly laid her fine sewing down beside her on the
sofa. "_Is_ my little girl going away off by herself in the woods?"

"Yes, miles and _mileses_!"

"And what will you do when you get hungry?"

"Why, I'm going to take all my money," forthwith going to a drawer in
the old-fashioned book-case, and taking out a diminutive porte-monnaie,
which contained her whole fortune, three silver three-cent pieces, and
hanging it on her fat little hand, "and I can go to some g'ocery in the
woods, and buy lots of butter crackers."

I, sitting in an easy chair, just recovered from a long illness,
suggested, "But, Zay, you might want something besides crackers. I know
a little girl who is very fond of 'drum-sticks' and 'wish-bones'!"

"I can eat bears and wolves. I can make gravy, and," she added, "I'm
going to take grandpa's gun wif me."

"Very well," answered her mamma, going to grandfather's closet and
bringing out the gun, which was twice as large as the child.

There she stood before us--a little blue-eyed girl with a demure sun-hat
shading a very resolute and, as yet, untroubled face, the gun held up
tight against her with one fat dimpled hand, while from the other
dangled the little purse.

"I'm all yeddy now, so good-bye ev'ybody," she said at last.

"Good-bye," said gentle grandma, holding up the little face to kiss the
firm red lips. "I am afraid I shall miss my little girl to-night when I
want the red stand drawn out for the drop light; and I'm sure grandpa
will need his slippers."

Zay looked somewhat irresolute; but her mamma here spoke:

"I think," said she, "if you intend to reach the woods before dark you
should start at once, for it is almost two o'clock now."

"Good-bye ev'ybody," said Zay again.

"And," said Lita, "I'll carry the gun down and open the front gate for
you."

Bravely the child marched out of the room, out of the front door and
gate. There Lita handed her the gun; but after trying several times to
walk with it, she told Lita that she didn't know as she should care for
any wolf wish-bone with her butter crackers, and asked her to take the
gun back in the house, and then she banged the gate, hoping Mary saw
her, with an air of importance, and pattered off on a fast little
dog-trot down the street.

Meanwhile we were all watching her behind the blinds.

"Don't lose sight of her," said mamma, "but don't let her see you!"

This is what Lita saw. A sturdy little figure walking steadily onward,
never looking back. At length it stops, opens the little purse, counts
its money, but never noting that in the trouble with the clasps the
three little coins fall, like three silver rain drops, to the pavement.
It goes on and on, till Lita fears it will really go out of sight. Then
the little figure "slows up" again, opens the little purse, and stops
short!

Ah, the horrors of poverty! Lita understands the poor little irresolute
figure. No money means no butter crackers, and no butter crackers means
despair. The little steps come homeward. The blue eyes are bent on the
ground. She does not know that grandpa has come quietly up behind her,
and found each little silver piece.

The little rebel appeared in the hall just as dinner was carried in.
There was a most savory odor of fricassee. Grandma and mamma and Lita
were just entering the dining room.

"Well," Zay calmly announced, "I 'cluded not to go till after dinner."

"Is that so?" quietly replied her mother. "But you might better have
gone on. Any little girl who wants to leave a nice home because she
can't have her own way, needn't look for any dinner here! I expected you
to dine on butter crackers and bears."

"I like chicken, I do," said proud little Zay with appealing eyes, but
no tears; "and then I lost all my pennies!"

In vain did the tender hearted grandma pull mamma's dress,--mamma
entered the dining room and shut the door; and up came poor Zay to the
room where I awaited my dinner, for she had seen a tray borne hither.
But she did not know that her mamma's parting injunction had been, "you
must not give her anything! I must--indeed, I _wish_ to teach my child a
lesson."

Little sun-hat and empty porte-monnaie put away, quietly she seated
herself on the sofa opposite me, with two little fat feet hanging
dangling down. Dignity kept her silent, and amusement mingled with pity
made me so.

This state of things lasted for some moments, while the dainties were
diminishing from my plate. Every mouthful was wistfully watched. At
length with grave old-fashioned face, she asked, "Are you sorry for
beggar chil'en, Aunty?"

"Very sorry indeed," I replied with composure.

Then with a tremor in the voice:

"Aunty, if you saw a little child in the street a starvin' to death for
some bread and butter wif jelly on it, wouldn't you give her some?"

I shook my head. Another pause, and then with little fat hands clasped,
and voice full of sobs, poor little Zay cried out, "Oh, Aunty, if you
saw a little girl starvin' to death for sponge cake, wouldn't you give
her some?"

"How could I, Zay, if the little girl's mamma had forbidden it?"

All her fortitude was gone. She burst into tears. She laid her head down
on the sofa and sobbed.

"Oh, oh! and they had fricasseed chicken, with Mary's nice toast under
it; and you have sponge-cake and wine-jelly; and I haven't nuffin; there
isn't one single butter cracker in the house!"

At this climax of misery the house resounded with her lamentations, in
which my tears would mingle; but fortunately the dear grand-parents soon
appeared to comfort their darling. And so, somehow, up on grandpa's lap
it became easier to see how naughty it was to annoy good old Mary, and
how ungrateful it was to wish to run away from home. And pardons were
begged and kisses were given, and the three little silver pieces crept
back into the tiny porte-monnaie, and Zay had some of Mary's nice toast
with lots of gravy, and a drum-stick and a wish-bone.

Zay is a young lady now, and I presume when she reads this story she
will pout and blush, and the more because it is every word true.



THE LEGEND OF THE SALT SEA.


Once upon a time there lived by the great sea two brothers, named Klaus
and Körg; the elder inheriting the rich estates of his ancestors; the
younger a woodchopper, and so poor that it was ofttimes a difficult task
for him to provide bread for his wife and little children.

Hard as life often seems it may be even harder; and so bitterly realized
Körg when, nigh on to one merry Christmas-tide, an accident deprived him
of his strong right hand, thereby cutting off forever his slender means
of livelihood. There was but one resource, and, with crushed spirit Körg
betook himself to his elder brother to crave some mercy for his starving
babes.

Klaus was a harsh man, with love only for his yellow gold. He frowned
impatiently when Körg interrupted his selfish dreams, and, for answer to
his pitiful story, threw him a loaf of bread and a pudding, bidding him
begone and be satisfied. And Körg went forth with a heavy heart, his
faint hope dead.

His homeward path followed the raging sea. The night was dark and
stormy, the waves bellowed and lashed at the shore like an army of
infuriated beasts; but Körg heeded it not, only clutched his bread and
pudding, and walked on with a white despairing face. Suddenly, as he
emerged from a thick bit of woods, he became conscious of a strange
light encircling him, and halting, quite terrified at the phenomenon, he
beheld a little old man, snow-haired and bearded, standing plump in the
path before him.

"You seem in trouble, friend," he ejaculated, with a chuckle. "Something
twists in your world, I trow."

Körg was not slow to recognize a _geist_; his knees shook, and he dared
not utter a word. The elf looked down upon him half displeased, yet
chuckling merrily withal.

"You have nothing to fear from me," he continued, sweetly. "I am the
guardian of the honest poor. This night I come to reveal to you a
secret, which, rightly used, will bestow upon you riches, life-lasting
and unlimited."

Körg, bewildered, could not yet yield simple faith. He clutched
desperately his bread and pudding. He found no joyful words.

The little man frowned scathingly on the gift of Klaus, then burst into
a scornful laugh.


[Illustration: THE WONDER-MILL GRINDS.]


"It is always thus, friend, with the money elves; they deal niggardly,
even at the full. But, care not, since this meagre chip will prove to
you a barter for millions. Follow me! The great estates to Klaus; the
treasures of the sea Körg shall know, to-night!" And, with a hand-wave,
the elf led the way over the rough cliffs, Körg mutely following.


[Illustration: THE GEIST.]


He paused at the base of a hillock, shaped like a horseshoe--a spot
which Körg knew well--a place of rocks, reefs, and general ill-report.

"The time is favorable," muttered the little man, "my children are
hungry, to-night." And, turning to Körg, he continued: "Take the gift of
Klaus and go down into the sea. A crowd will swarm upon you, as
persistent and voracious as any in this upper world. Ask for the
_wonder-mill_, and sacrifice your treasures only in its exchange. I will
await you here."

A spell immediately enwrapped the senses of Körg. Calm and fearless, he
descended into the deep, floating dreamily downward to the glittering
caves from whence, exactly as the elf had depicted, swarmed forth troops
of mermen and mermaids, with eyes and arms voraciously extended towards
the bread and the pudding he held tightly clutched to his breast. But
Körg, spurred on by the elf, resisted them all, nor parted with a single
crumb till the wonder-mill lay safe in his embrace. The little man stood
waiting on the brink.

"I dedicate this to the honest poor," he said, softly. "Yes, Körg, it is
yours. Ask of it what you will, and it shall never fail you--gold,
silver, hundreds of loaves and puddings. But--" and here the little man
paused, a shudder quivered through his frame, and he continued,
solemnly--"remember, that by no hand but yours can it be controlled.
Guard it carefully, for the day you part with it your portion shall be
ashes, and _mine_ annihilation."

When Körg dared lift his eyes the elf had disappeared.

Rahel sat at home with the children, weeping. She knew well the heart of
her brother Klaus, and how vain would be Körg's last effort to save them
from starvation. A step sounded on the path without. Rahel and the babes
stopped to listen. It was not dull and heavy as they had expected, but
blithe as the jingle of sleigh-bells, and, in a second, Körg burst in
upon them, dimpling all over with merry laughter. Rahel regarded him,
amazed.

"You bring no bread to our starving babes, and yet you laugh," she said.
"Oh, Körg! Körg! trouble has made you mad!"

Still chuckling he slipped the wonder-mill from beneath his coat and
said, softly:

"Hush, Rahel! A _geist_ has been with me to-night. I have brought
endless fortune from the depths of the sea." And, plump in the eyes of
his astonished wife, he began turning out loaves and puddings with such
a gusto that the room was soon filled, and Rahel fain to implore him to
cease his elfish work.

From that night, just as the little man had said, riches unlimited came
to the house of Körg. No treasure too great for the mill to produce;
and, though the woodchopper strove hard at secrecy, its fame spread far
and wide from the mountains back to the sea, and folks flocked by
thousands to view the magic engine that Körg had fished up from the the
ocean's depths. And though, always good humoredly, he tested its powers
and loaded his guests with princely gifts, yet he rested night after
night more uneasily upon his pillow, remembering the solemn words of the
_geist_:

"The day you part with it your portion shall be ashes, and _mine_
annihilation."

One day, after the space of a year, there came to the woodchopper's door
a captain from far-off lands.

"I am here," he said, "to see the famous wonder-mill that blesses the
house of Körg."

There was a simplicity about the old tar that completely dismantled
Körg. With less than ordinary caution he brought forth the mill, and
displayed it, in all its phases, before his astonished guest.

"It is a clever trickster," finally he quoth. "I wonder if it could
grind so common a thing as salt."

Körg chuckled contemptuously, and speedily spurted right and left such a
briny shower as made the old tar blink spasmodically and walk hurriedly
away.

But, alas! that night Körg missed the mill from his side; and when, pale
and shivering, he sought the golden treasures hid 'neath the floor, he
found only an ashy heap, heard only the mournful words:

"The mermen and mermaids are dead. The _geists_ have ceased to reign."

Far out on the blue bosom of the sea the jolly captain rode, shouting
uproariously over the treasure he had secured.

"Precious wonder-mill," he sang, "I will try thee in all thy ways. First
salt for savor, then ducks for food, and gold to the end of my days."
And he started the tiny wheels, and clapped his hands frantically at its
ready compliance to his will.

Forth poured the sparkling, crusty grain in one buzzing maze of
whiteness. Thick gathered the milky drifts from bow to stern. Still
shouted the captain his savage joy till--a-sudden he paused, gazed as if
spell-bound on the mill's mad work, with a cry of terror sprang forward
and grasped the check. But, in vain. There was no surcease to its labor.
Higher and higher up lifted the mighty salt banks, and, in a twinkling,
both destroyed and destroyer sank helpless into the depths of the sea.

And, down amid the green sea-weeds, the wonder-mill still stands,
pouring forth salt the whole day long--no hand to check its raging; for
the mermen and mermaids are all dead, and the _geists_ have ceased to
reign.

And this is why the sea-water is salt.


[Illustration]



THE MAN WITH THE STRAW HAT.


It is nothing strange that a man should wear a straw hat; but--well,
listen to my story.

One winter I was travelling near Lake Ontario, and, as the day was dark,
I could not see every one in the car very plainly. There was a little
old man near whose face I could but just see--for he had on a small
black hat, and his coat collar was turned up. Soon after I noticed him
the train stopped at the station where I was to get off. The old man and
five or six other persons also left the train. We all stepped into a
sleigh, and were driven several miles over the snow to a hotel.

"It is _very_ cold," said the little old man as we started.

"Yes," said one of the passengers; "but we shall not be long going."

After a short pause, he again spoke:

"It is certainly very cold. I am truly afraid I shall freeze before we
get there."

"O, no! not so very cold," said I, drawing my fur cap tightly over my
ears.

"I was never so cold in my life!" growled the little man. "My ears are
freezing, now."

"Sorry I can't help you," I said, with a feeling of true sympathy; "but
we have not much further to go."

Presently he growled again:

"I know I shall freeze, anyhow. Can I take your muffler?"

I spared my muffler. But, pretty soon, I heard from him again:

"The top of my head is very cold, and I shall have a fearful headache."

We soon reached the hotel and entered the office, where a warm fire
welcomed us. The little old man undid the muffler and handed it to me.
He then removed his hat, and I discovered _that it was of straw_, and,
also, that he was very bald.

My pity for the man was all gone in a moment. It could not be that he
had no other hat, for he was dressed well enough to own twenty hats. I
never found out what his reason was for wearing such a hat in the
winter.

I fell to moralizing presently; but I will not here write down my
reflections. Suffice it to say that every day in the year I meet
children, and grown people too, for that matter, who are "_wearing straw
hats in the winter_," and suffering various dreadful things in
consequence thereof. The very next time you get into trouble, before you
grumble and fret, see if it is not because you are _wearing a straw hat
in winter_.


[Illustration]



RUFFLES AND PUFFS.


She stood looking down upon her neat plaid dress with a very
dissatisfied face.

"Mamma," she said, "why can't I wear pretty clothes every day like Irene
Clarke? She always has puffs and ruffles, and her aprons are trimmed
_so_ nice."

Mamma finished buttoning the tippet and tied down the snug little hat.

"Puffs and ruffles and dainty aprons _are_ nice," she replied gently.
"Mamma likes pretty things as well as Lou, but always in their place,
dearie."

But mamma's words did not help. Little Lou went out with the same
dissatisfied face.

"They say mammas know best," she spoke. "It's funny, though. Irene's
mamma knows a different best from mine--O, there she is!" and Lou
hurried to meet the little city girl whose puffs and ruffles had made
her plaid frock seem so mean.


[Illustration: LOU.]


It chanced that Irene wore a fresh suit, one that Lou had never seen.
Delightedly she spied the dainty robe.

"Ain't that sweet!" she exclaimed, and feasted her eyes till, suddenly
looking down at Irene's gaiters, she caught a glimpse of a curious
field-bug trotting along on the ground. My little lady forgot the
ruffles, forgot everything but her desire for a closer view.

"O, see--see!" she cried excitedly, half-running, half-crawling after
the bug, "see this funny thing! I can't catch him! But, O my--ain't he
cunnin'! Irene, do get down here and see!"

Irene took a step forward, then stood still.

"I can't," she said, "I might soil my dress."

But Lou scarcely heard. She was absorbed in the funny bug. On she went
trying to catch him, till finally he slipped round a tree-root and was
seen no more.

Back came Lou to Irene brushing the dirt from her frock.

"It's cold standin' here," she said, "let's play tag."

"I can't," spoke Irene again, "I might trip and soil my dress."

Lou's eyes went up and down the dainty robe. "It isn't much of a
tag-frock," she thought. But she was a restless maid. Between hopping
and dancing she glanced up at the sky and exclaimed:

"I guess it'll snow to-night. If it does, come over to my house
to-morrow and we'll get out the sled. We can take turns bein' horse, you
know."

But Irene shook her head.

"I'd like to," she replied, "but mamma won't let me. I haven't a dress
that's fit."

Lou's face gleamed with surprise.

"O, my!" she said, "can't you ever take a hill-ride, or build a
snow-man, or--" but Irene looked so sober that Lou's sympathies awoke.
"Never mind," she added, "you'll come up to your grandpa's again in the
summer; then you'll wear _do-up_ clothes, and we'll have lots of fun."

"The _do-up_ clothes are the worst," replied Irene sadly. "Mamma don't
want _them_ soiled."

Lou looked down at her plaid frock; she thought of the plentiful
ginghams at home. Suddenly she turned and rushed headlong back to mamma.

"O my!" she began, "Irene Clarke can't have no fun! She ain't got no
slide-dresses, she can't soil her _do-up_ clothes, and--O my!
mamma--it's all them ruffles and puffs! I wouldn't wear 'em for the
world! No, I just wouldn't!"

Mamma could but smile.

"I am glad my little girl has changed," she said. "I feared, a while
ago, that because she could not have ruffles and puffs on her dresses
she was going to wear them up in her face."

The free little out-of-doors girl blushed; and then she could have
hugged her plaid frock for very joy.



SUGAR RIVER.


[Illustration]


"Sugar River!" The little cup-bearing hand stood transfixed halfway from
table to lip. The silver cup tilted part way over in sheer astonishment.
Drip, drip, drip, dripped the contents down into Tot's scrap of ruffled
and embroidered lap.

"Bless me! Look at that child!" cried Tot's papa. And Tot was looked at
and hustled away, and the little silver mug tried to drown itself in a
yellow stream of sunshine flowing across the table; and, failing in
that, tried to sparkle just as Tot's eyes had sparkled, and failed in
that, too. For that was O, very bright--nothing was brighter than Tot's
eyes.

"Well, Totchen," said Tot's boy-uncle Will, looking up from his book as
something pierced his knee, as only Tot's small elbow could pierce.
"Well, Totchen; what is it? Stories? Then _jump_!"

O, what happy state to sit enthroned upon a big boy-uncle's knee, and
listen, listen, listen, with eyes like the dog's in the fairy story--"as
big as the great round tower at Copenhagen"--more or less!

"What shall I tell you? Aladdin? Puss in Boots? Cin--"

"Soogar Wiver" interrupted Tot, promptly.

"_Soogar Wiver?_ Why, what a little pitcher for ears! What do you know
about Soogar Wiver?"

"Oo said," said Tot, with decision, "that oo went fisin' in Soogar
Wiver."

"Why, so I did," said the boy, reflectively.

"Is it vewy sweet?" asked Tot.

"Sweet?" echoed the boy, taking his wicked cue and with a prolonged
drawing in of the lips. "I should say so! Why, its bed is solid sugar,
with as many grades of sugar grains for sand as one finds in a grocer
shop."

"Do wivers do to bed dus 'ike 'ittle dirls?" demanded Tot, whose young
existence was embittered by that seemingly needless ceremony.

"You see," said the boy, with the air of communicating much useful
information, "it is even worse than that. They never get up at all. Only
once in a while they get into tantrums and break loose and make every
one scatter; for a river is one of the quickest fellows at a run you
ever saw. And well they might be, for they are at it all the time,
asleep or awake."

"I sood 'ike to see Soogar Wiver," said Tot.

"Wouldn't you!" And Will, fairly launched, tossed all conscientious
scruples overboard, and steered boldly out into the deep waters of
wildest imagination. "You just would! Why, as I said, the river bed is
solid sugar. Think how nice to be able to turn over and take a gnaw at
your bed-post when you feel hungry! The pebbles are sugar plums, the
bigger stones are broken sugar loaves, and the rocks, why, the rocks are
made out of rock candy, of course."

Tot sighed, blissfully.

"It is the jolliest place to go fishing. You just lie down on a rock,
nibble it occasionally, chew up a few pebbles, take a bite at a stone,
and if you are thirsty--as, of course, you would be--there is a whole
river of _eau sucré_--that is what the French call sweetened
water--running right by, enough to supply all France. And, all the time,
you are hauling up the fish just as fast as they can bite. They are a
peculiar kind of fish, wouldn't look at a worm. Nothing short of taffy
bait will tempt them. They look like those fishes you buy at the
confectioners--penny apiece--very high-colored, very flat, and mostly
tail; and, when cooked, they taste very much like them."

Tot still gazed up into the remorseless boy's face in unblinking
confidence. And, indeed, from one who, for the last two weeks, together
with Tot, had been on the most familiar footing with giants, ogres, and
hop-o-my-thumbs, and held the most sympathizing relations towards
enchanted princesses and conquering knights, an account of a "Soogar
Wiver," was not to be regarded as startling. As for Will's
conscience--well, his mission with Tot was to amuse, not instruct--if
Tot was amused the whole end and aim of his efforts was attained.

"We tried having dories made of the same material of those candy marbles
that nothing but time and long-enduring patience will ever make an end
of. But the fellows had such a habit, as they floated down the stream,
of eating up the oars, we had to give it up--"

"Will," said Tot's mamma, at the open door, "are you ready? Run away to
Ellen, Tot, and be a good little girl."

Tot descended from her throne, slowly and unwillingly, and, going
obediently away, never knew about the beautiful river fairy just then
springing to life, like Minerva in the brain of Jove, in Will's fancy,
purposely to make Tot's acquaintance.

With glistening wonder in her eyes, in robe of trailing, snowy, sun-shot
mist, with water lilies dropping from her hair, and the cave--Will could
have provided for her such a cave, the water tinkling and trickling from
the walls hung with silver spray, stalactites of purest barley sugar
glittering, pillars of creamiest cream candy shimmering; and, to crown
all and above all, the fairy would have had a daily diet of cream cakes
and caramels.

But, before all this splendor of material could be built up into words,
the builder had departed, the river fairy had melted back and away into
her native mist, and Tot never knew.

That night, Will tossed Tot flying once more into the air, rescued once
more his fresh collar from her crumpling embrace, kissed her once more,
good-by this time, and was off and away on the cars to school. No more
stories. No more fairies. No more anything. Only a wonderful river
winding and gleaming and leaping through Tot's childish
dreams--beautiful, wonderful "Soogar Wiver," where happy Uncle Will went
fishing, lying on the bed of rock candy.

One morning, all in the gray and quiet, Tot had a queer dream. She
thought some one said, with a funny little catch in the voice: "Wake up,
little Tot, mamma's treasure," and some one held her so tightly she
could hardly breathe. And she opened her eyes and shut them again, quite
dazzled; but she thought she saw papa and mamma standing beside her bed,
and the room was all on fire it was so bright to two, poor, sleepy, baby
eyes, and papa's voice seemed to say, a great way off:

"Poor, little, sleepy Tot."

It was such a queer dream, but not half so queer as what followed; for,
after a while, she woke up and went right on dreaming just the same.
That was very strange. How could it be anything else than a dream, to be
taken up by gaslight and dressed all in her little street coat and hat
before breakfast, to be made to drink milk and eat when she wasn't
hungry, to be petted and cried over and half crushed in mamma's arms, to
be taken by papa out into the cool, clear dawning, with the sky just
beginning to flush like a sea shell and a waking bird or two to twitter
about getting up, to be put into a coach that rolled and rumbled, to be
put into something else that rolled and rumbled a thousand times worse;
nothing had ever happened anything like this in any of Tot's waking
hours before.

After the sun had climbed up a little way into the sky, grown blue and
bluer, Tot began to accept the situation a little, and lay very still in
papa's arms (the fresh morning breeze tapping her cheek and lifting her
long crimped hair with cool, gentle fingers), watching the fences
running away like mad, the trees gliding gracefully by in long endless
procession, little white cottages and funny little hovels, and pretty
little villages hopping suddenly in and then as suddenly out of the
scene, a glimpse into shady depths of woods, a glint of a blue,
nestling, lily-pad-speckled pond, an emerald gleam of peaceful meadows,
a sight at a snowy tethered goat, of dappled grazing cows, a roll and
rush and roar through riven, dripping rocks.

Papa told his little girl all about it. How little children in the town
where Tot lived were very sick of a dangerous disease--diptheria. And
how, coming home last evening from business and learning of several
fresh cases, he had become alarmed for his darling and consulted mamma,
and had succeeded in frightening her so thoroughly, that she had sat up
all night to get Tot's things ready so that she might start the very
next morning, on the very first early morning train, to where grandmamma
lived.

"And, there," said papa, after they had ridden all the long forenoon,
"there's Sugar River, Tot, where I used to fish when I was a boy!"

"O!" cried Tot, and then, immediately, with a roll and a pitch, they
came to a little white farmhouse and stopped again, and Tot was at
grandmamma's.

Tot didn't like being kissed quite so much all at a time, if it was by a
grandmamma. The chickens, though, were fascinating, and as for some
plushy round balls of yellow fuzz, rolling about--little ducks just
hatched--Tot had never seen anything at all to compare with them. But
there was a dreadful and discordant procession of big ducks that struck
terror to Tot's soul, and it was very still and lonely when the night
and dark crept on. The crickets and the frogs did their best, but they
only made it stiller and lonelier; and the hills gleamed against the
sky, and Tot missed her mamma. But yet, Tot was very sleepy, and the
next she knew it was morning and she was at grandma's, where Uncle Will
lived, and Uncle Will was coming pretty soon, and, better than that,
mamma was coming, too; and there was a little girl, a short distance up
the road, whom Tot was to play with, and then there were the chickens
and the ducks, and old Brindle and the pigs, and the pony and the hay
cart, and--yes, it was very delightful at grandmamma's.

Once or twice, during the next few days, Tot asked--preserving that
singular reticence regarding her illusions, so common to children--to be
taken to Sugar River; but grandpapa was busy haying, and grandmamma
said:

"Will will come pretty soon and he will take you."

"When _is_ pwetty soon!" asked Tot, in hopeless tones.

One afternoon grandmamma gave Tot and Susie (that was the name of Tot's
little playmate) each a fat hot jumble, and left them playing happily in
the yard while she went back to her sewing. Susie was seven, so very
safe company for little four-year-old Tot. After a while over ran
Susie's brother, to summon her home to go with her mother to the
village.

Tot stood at the gate, looking down the long road. Sturdy maples threw
curving, interlacing boughs across, through which the sun-light filtered
and flickered. How cool and shady it was! Tot all at once felt the
little sunny yard grow hot and stupid, and then Susie's mamma drove out
of the gate and down the long shady arch over the sun-flecked road. Tot
wished she was going to the village, too. Tot wished she was going
to--to--Sugar River.


[Illustration: ON THE WAY TO SUGAR RIVER.]


"Run in to grandmamma, little Tot," whispered the still small voice. But
Tot never heeded. Tot was tired. Tot was hot. Tot was homesick. Tot
would walk down the road just a few little steps. What harm? How
delightful! How grateful the cool green shade! How alluring the long
level stretch of road under the arching maples! Where did it lead? It
led--O, Tot knew--it led to Sugar River.

Step by step, a little and a little further on the tiny white figure
glanced. A sense of happy freedom possessed the little girl. A cloud of
golden butterflies beckoned on before. Here a dark thread of water crept
down over the hills and splashed musically into the great stone trough.
All the way an invisible brooklet gurgled and kept her company. Only one
bird seemed to sing at a time--first one, then another. Wasn't it
charming? And at the end of it all must be--Tot could see it now in
fancy--the fluttering blue ribbon uncurling between sunny sloping
banks--SUGAR RIVER--fast asleep under the summer sun, on its glittering
bed of rock candy. O, rapture! Tot's mouth watered for its sugary
delights.

On and on and on, with the brook and the butterflies and the welcoming
bird. On, till the maples stopped and could go no further, and so she
left them behind. Out into the open sun-light she came, and only the
long, hot, and dazzling road stretched on before.

Tot's small feet trudged on, steadily. Just a little further on--Tot was
sure--and then--But how long the road grew, how deep the dust lay, how
tired the little feet were getting, little feet that can trudge about
all day long in play, yet drag so wearily over long straight roads.

"I sood fink I would tum to Soogar Wiver pwetty soon," she sighed.

At last she came to where some cross-roads met, and looking down one she
saw the cool green shade again. Not maples this time, but close and
clustering shrubbery.

She left the brook gurgling "go-oo-oo-d-by," and the butterflies waving
adieu with their golden wings, and went on alone. How sweet and still it
was here! The tall grass drooped over two brown beaten paths that horses
feet had worn, and a tender green light lay over all. But where was the
sweet river hiding? Another meeting of cross roads. Tot looked this way,
that. Ah, there it was over the road! Over the meadow. Gleaming,
gliding, Sugar River, at last.

"I fought I sood det to it pwetty soon," murmured Tot, triumphantly.
"Won't dwandma be glad to get some nice sugar plums? I wis I tood det
froo dis fence."

Through she got, with much squeezing and rending. Tot eyed her torn
pinafore, ruefully.

"I wis' 'ittle dirl's aprons wouldn't teep tearing on every single
fing."

"'Pears to me," doubtfully, putting one little foot down on the soft
marshy ground, "it is wather wet."

Rather wet? Yes, Totchen, very wet. Too wet for such little little feet
as yours. And see, little one, the sun is getting lower. Crawl back
through the fence and run home. The sleepy murmuring river has nothing
but trouble for you.

But Tot stumbled on over the marshy ground.

"I don't 'ike to go down so far," sighed Tot, drawing a little drenched
boot up from a treacherous bog. "And my new boots is detting all wet."

But Tot had a Spartan soul; and at last, beside the wonderful stream, on
the beautiful shore she stood, and--poor, poor little Tot! The little
pinafore torn, the pretty, trim boots soaked and soiled, all Tot's
little body dragged and weary; yet, it isn't that that makes me say
"poor little Tot!" It is to see her standing there at the goal of her
childish hopes with such happy, radiant eyes, and know how soon will
come to her that "saddest pain of all--to grasp the thing we long for
and find how it can fail us."

Up and down she walks, searching for sweetmeat pebbles and sugary
stones, and when she finds none--the water running high and close to the
grassy ground--she stoops and, dipping her little fingers, she lifts
them, wet and dripping, to her longing lips.

"It isn't _vewy_ sweet," she said.

Poor little Tot! Down the stream she came to a ford, and the shallow
water had left stones and pebbles bare. Big and little, and half size;
white and yellow, and brown and gray.

Here was richness at last. All in a minute Tot's little, nibbling,
crunching teeth went on edge on a perverse, grating pebble that sternly
refused to be nibbled or crunched. Another and another and another she
tried.

"Pwobably," she thought, "they has to be cwacked dus 'ike nuts." And she
proceeded to crack, not the stones, but her own little, eager,
blundering fingers, instead. O stony, stony-hearted stones and
pebbly-hearted pebbles! Tot's cup of bitterness seemed to flow over. She
stood up, sobbing. A sudden sense of desolation oppressed her.

"I wis' I was at home wiv dwandma. I wis,' oh, I _wis'_ I hadn't tum!"
she sobbed.

Her only thought, now, was to get home. But, first, what do you think
she did? She filled her bit of a pocket full of pebbles for grandmamma
to crack; then the little weary feet stumbled back again over the weary
way.

"My feet's is detting so heavy," she sighed, "and I _fink_ I's detting
tired."

Tot was crying piteously now, and no one heard. All alone, mamma's baby,
who had never been alone before in all her short cherished life. All
alone with the croaking frogs and lonesome crickets. Hark! what was
that? A roll of wheels and the clatter of a horse's hoofs.

"Whoa!" called out a boy's shrill voice. Down to the ground dropped the
owner of the voice. "What is the matter, little girl?"

"I'se been to Soogar Wiver, and I don't know how to det home aden, I'se
so vewy tired, and I toodn't cwack the candy, and I want to see
dwandma," and Tot's words ended in a wail of inarticulate woe.

"Where do you live?" asked the boy.

"A dwate, dwate ways off," answered Tot.

"What is your name?"

"Tot Lindsay."

"Lindsay? O, I know! All you've got to do is to jump into this wagon and
have a nice ride, and, presently, we'll be there."

And presently, in the gloaming, they stopped before grandpapa's house,
and the boy, lifting out Tot in his arms, carried her to the door and
bade her good-by, and, jumping into his wagon, rattled away. Empty and
silent stood the little house, like the dwelling of the Three Talking
Bears, and little Tot might have been Silver Hair herself.

"Dwandma, dwandma!" she called. But no grandmamma replied.

"Perhaps she has dus dorn out a minute," thought she. "I'll det up on
dis lounge and tover dis shawl over me, and s'prise her when she tums
back."

Something else besides the shawl covered Tot's eyes. Down over the blue
orbs drifted the snowy lids. Tired little Tot.

Where was dwandma and the rest all this time? In trouble and confusion.
Calling and searching, searching and calling: "Tot, Tot, Tot, little
Tot! Where are you?" Grandpapa and grandmamma, and Uncle Will and Tot's
mamma.

At last, on the road running beside the river, they had found the
fragment of dotted cambric, held fast by a detaining splinter; and then
Tot's mamma had run ahead and led them across the meadow, right in the
track of Tot's little feet, straight to the river. And then grandmamma
had said, quaveringly, that Tot was always asking to go to Sugar River;
and then Will's heart had given a great guilty throb, and sank way, way
down. He knew so well _why_. And then Tot's mamma had thrown up her two
hands, and darted towards a little string of coral beads and picked it
up. And, as they stood there, the river's murmur seemed like the murmur
of the river of death, and the white fog, beginning to rise, like the
folds of a little child's shroud; and Tot's mamma threw up her hands
again and fell among all the unfeeling stones and pebbles.

Will ran all the way home and went straight to the barn and harnessed
the horse, and then went into the house and into the sitting-room and
snatched a shawl from the lounge, and--"Jerusalem Crickets!" was all he
had breath enough left to say. Tot had surprised somebody, indeed.

Down by the river, in the dusk and the river damp, as they waited, came
Will, striding along with what looked like a bundle of old shawls upon
his shoulder; and presently, parting the folds like the calyx of a
flower, Tot's rosy face blossomed out.

"Peekabo!" she said, with a sweet sound of laughter. "O mamma, mamma!"

It was wonderful how quickly mamma recovered; and it was more wonderful
still how ever Tot escaped sudden death, then and there, from
suffocation. But, bless you! You need not worry, it was larks to Tot.

What a triumphal procession home it was. Tot, in her little night-dress
sat in her mother's lap, and told her adventures; and Will sat in the
darkest corner and said not a word, but resolved that no story more
fabulous than that of George Washington and his hatchet should ever
again pass his lips. His lip quivered, as much as a boy's lip is ever
allowed, when Tot said:

"And I brought home a whole pottet full to cwack."

"Never mind, to-night. Wait till to-morrow," said mamma.

Tot went obediently to sleep, and woke in the morning to find beside her
pillow, such lots of candy--her Sugar River candy she thought, all
cracked and ready to eat.

"It tastes dus 'ike any tandy," said Tot.

They didn't tell her then, the illusion was so dear to her childish
heart. But, when she was a little older, Tot laughed as long and as
gleefully as anyone over the story of the little girl who went to Sugar
River for sugar plums.



A PIONEER "WIDE AWAKE."


One event in the life of Jacob Lohr qualified him, in my opinion, to be
mustered into the army of "Wide Awakes." Let me tell the children the
incident and see if they agree with me.

He was a native of the Mohawk Valley near Schenectady, New York, and
when about twenty years old, with his young wife, Polly, emigrated to
the wilds of Western Pennsylvania. This was more than seventy years ago,
when the magnificent forests of that region afforded some of the finest
hunting-grounds in America. Here Jacob began clearing a farm, built a
log dwelling-house, planted corn and potatoes, and in a few years became
a thriving pioneer.

But the pride of his forest farm was his pigs. He had built a strong pen
of logs, with a heavy door, in order to protect them in the night from
wild animals. It stood about five rods from the house, near the brook,
just across which, and not thirty feet from the sty, was the edge of the
dense natural forest.

During the day they were permitted to roam at large in the woods eating
nuts, by which they fattened for the larder; but when night approached,
they were called and zealously secured in the pen, a practice which soon
taught the pigs the habit of early retiring. Gradually, however, Mr.
Lohr's punctuality in this matter abated, until one evening it had
become fairly dark ere he went to shut them in. As he walked down the
beaten path, a rustling in the adjacent bushes made him think that the
pigs might still be out; and to satisfy himself on the point, he entered
the pen and felt around, saying as he did so, "One two, three--all
here." Then as he turned to the door, he wondered what caused the
rustling across the brook. But as he stooped to go out, his wonder was
threateningly answered by a low growl from a dark crouching object, only
two or three steps in front of him.

With swift hands he closed the door, shutting himself in; and none too
soon, for instantly a heavy animal leaped on the roof over his head and
began fiercely scratching at the cover. At the same time a mewing at
the door, and a snuffing at the side of the pen, showed him that he was
a prisoner, with at least three panthers as his jailors. But unlike
jailors generally, these were more eager to get their captive out than
to keep him in; while the prisoner, instead of wishing to "break jail,"
was anxious not to do so.

All night long he was a "Wide Awake," as were also the pigs, for the
panthers were growling and screaming, scratching and digging around and
upon the pen, trying to tear it to pieces and seize the occupants.
Although feverishly excited, he felt quite secure, because the sty was
so substantially built.

Yet such lodgings and neighbors, within and without, would not tend to
produce very placid slumbers, even if the walls were cannon-proof.

Various plans were tried by Polly, his wife, who had become aware of the
situation, to drive away the creatures, but in vain.

She held a torch where it shone toward the pen; she screamed through the
narrow casement, and rattled a tin pan at the animals; but she did not
know how to load and fire the gun; and as to going outside the door, it
is doubtful if even the boldest hunter, well armed, would have dared so
much at night, in the face of a whole family of hungry panthers.

Meanwhile, Jacob kept up a lively interest among his jailors.

Discovering that they had scratched at some of the larger cracks between
the logs, until they could thrust in their noses, he peeled a piece of
tough bark from the side of the pen, and began striking at them, giving
them many stinging blows.

And afterward, when relating the story, he would laugh heartily at
remembering the sneezing, snarling and grumbling this occasioned.
Although he had so much to keep him excited, the night seemed very long.

At last, however, the daylight began to dawn, and he heard his jailors
mewing and purring together as if in council, and then all was silent
all around the pen.

Half an hour later, Polly called to him that they were gone away.

It was with extreme caution, however, that he opened the door a little
and peered out.

A panther is like a cat in slyness or cunning, watching stealthily for
prey and springing upon it in the most unexpected way.

And so, before he ventured out, he scanned with sharp eyes the edge of
the woods across the brook; for he did not fancy being the mouse for
these three great cats. Satisfying himself as well as he could, that
the way was clear, he sprang forth, closed the door quickly behind him,
and rushed for the house. But no panthers appeared; they had probably
retired into the deep shadows of the hemlocks.

His "Wide Awake" night was ended.

Upon investigating the scene of the night's operations, he found the sty
amazingly scratched and gnawed in many places, proving the strength of
tooth and nail and the ferocity of his jailors. Several long deep gashes
on one of the pigs showed where a panther had thrust in his paw by a
crack and tried to seize a victim.

But my story is only half told.

       *       *       *       *       *

An old adage says, "It is a poor rule that won't work both ways;" and so
thought Jacob. He resolved in the morning, that if the creatures should
come back the next night, as they would be quite apt to do, he would
turn the tables and try to teach them the pleasure of being imprisoned
in a pig-sty.

Anybody who has lived in a region infested by carnivorous animals, knows
how they prowl around the settler's cabin the night after any fat
animal, cattle or swine is killed, for the meat. They snuff the blood
from afar in the forest, and hasten to the place to have a tooth, or a
paw, in the division of the spoils. Knowing this peculiarity of
panthers, Jacob and Polly held a consultation, and as it was about time
in the autumn to make pork of the pigs, they decided to perform that
work during the day. The scent of blood would serve as a double
inducement for his visitors to return.

So, in the afternoon, the task was done, the pen and vicinity being the
scene of the slaughter, and all the bloody tidbits placed inside the
door. Every such thing was arranged to attract the animals into the sty
if possible. The meat was placed safely in the garret of the house.

The door of the pen was so constructed as to open and shut something
like the lower sash of a window, by sliding up and down, a peg holding
it open by day and closed by night. When the door was open, this peg had
only to be pulled out, to let it shut down like a flash; and being shut
no animal could open it. Jacob went along the brook and obtained a
quantity of bark from the moosewood, (_Dirca palustris_,) of which he
made a strong cord, long enough to reach from the pen to the house. One
end of this he tied tightly to the peg that supported the door, and the
other he made fast inside the house.

When night came, he was ready for visitors.

Stationing themselves at the window, he and Polly watched and listened.

Hardly had it become dark, when they heard the mewing of the panthers at
no great distance in the forest. Persons who are familiar only with the
mewing of cats, have little idea how a panther's stronger, but similar
voice will ring through the woods.

In a little time they distinctly heard one of them leap upon the pen and
begin scratching as the night before; and in a moment more, by the
confined sound of purring and growling, it was evident they had entered
the sty and were disputing over the morsels of meat.

Then Jacob gave the bark cord a vigorous jerk and they heard the door
drop.

I suppose it would be impossible to describe the excitement of Polly and
Jacob at this moment, but the girls and boys can imagine something of
it.

They did not dare to go out to see if they had caught the _panthers_,
lest, having failed, the panthers might catch _them_.

Before morning, however, they were sure enough that one or more was
captured, for there was a great deal of smothered howling, just as it
would sound from animals shut in a pen.

Previous wakefulness made sleep necessary during most of the night, but
at daybreak they were astir and at the casement to catch the first
possible glimpse of the situation. As it became light enough, they
discovered a huge, handsome panther stretched out on the roof of the
pen, her head lying across her paws, like a cat asleep. By this they
knew that others were confined inside, for whose escape this one was
waiting. It was but a brief task for Jacob, who was a good marksman, to
point his rifle through the window and give her its contents. Without a
struggle the splendid animal straightened her powerful limbs and died.
Reloading his gun, Jacob walked cautiously toward the pen, watching in
every direction, lest there might be another one outside ready to spring
upon him, but seeing none, he went up and peered through a crack.

At once two pairs of eyes flashed at him, and fierce growls remonstrated
against the state of affairs.

Had Barnum flourished in those days, Jacob might have found a market for
the animals alive, but as it was he regarded it safer to shoot them as
quickly as possible, through a crevice between the logs.

Upon placing the dead animals side by side near the house he discovered
that they were mother and full-grown kittens, all very large and plump,
with thick, glossy fur.

I have only to add, that he was paid by the state a bounty of
twenty-four dollars apiece for killing the panthers, which was quite a
fortune for a pioneer in those days. Their red-brown skins, sewed
together, made a larger and nicer lap-robe than the hide of any buffalo;
and years after, with Jacob's children, I took many a sleigh-ride under
this warm covering.

All in favor of numbering Jacob among the "Wide Awakes," say _aye_!



SURPRISED.


I.

"Mitz" began to cry piteously. "Mieu--mieu--mi-e-e," he cried, and all
little Hannah's trotting only made him worse. At that moment "Mitz" was
wrapped in a pillow-case, while his head was buried in Hannah's little
shawl. His ears were pulled down, and his promising tail was all in a
heap, and his resplendent moustache was crushed. Therefore was it a
wonder that Mitz howled most dolefully? It is not necessary to say that
Mitz was a kitten.

Mitz's mother was sitting in a corner of the fire-place, with tail
neatly curled about her paws. Three of Mitz's brothers and sisters were
lost somewhere in the shadow about her, and two others the children had
put to bed.

It was a queer old room in an old German house; a room large and dim,
with two great windows full of diamond-shaped panes, and on the
opposite side a huge chimney with a tall, narrow mantel-shelf and a
tiled hearth, on which stood two brass griffins, shiny and ferocious. In
the depths in the fire-place, behind the griffins, there Mitz was
sobbing. I say sobbing because the children were playing "house," and
Mitz was supposed to be the baby. What a fine play-house this big
fire-place was in summer! It had in turn figured as Aladdin's cave and a
school-house; a brigand ambush, and a dwelling with modern improvements.
But now it was growing dark in the big, bare room, and you had to look
closely into the back of the hearth to see the two little figures--one
trotting the baby, and the other rocking the doll's cradle in which two
of Mitz's sisters were tied with cord, for their good, of course. But
Mitz's piteous cries raised echoes.

"Mieu, mieu!" cried Mitz, trying to claw something under the pillow
case. "Mieu, mieu!" chimed in Mitz's sisters, while little Hannah
trotted desperately, and the doll's cradle was rocked as if by a small
tempest.


[Illustration: HE WOULDN'T EAT HIS BREAD AND MILK.]


"It's no use," said little Hannah, in great perplexity; "all people's
children arn't always bad! Mitz--you wicked Mitz!" And she shook that
badly-behaved child. "He's been crying ever since we began to play. He
wouldn't eat his bread and milk, though I tied on his best new bib. Oh,
dear me, Mrs. Liseke, how noisy your children are! Suppose," said little
Hannah, vainly endeavoring to pacify the indignant Mitz, "suppose, Mrs.
Liseke, we take the children out for a walk?"

Out of the hearth crept Hannah, with Mitz hugged to her heart, and her
short, round figure all the rounder for an ancient shawl and a venerable
cap perched on the top of her plump, rosy face. Hannah had just passed
the brass griffins, when some one burst into the room. There was a
vision of two long stockings with a hole in one knee, a faded velveteen
suit, a pair of brass-tipped boots, a bright patch in the seat of the
short breeches, and a look of triumph on a round face with a turn-up
nose, while a grin, extending from ear to ear, discovered a loss of
several front teeth in the big mouth.

"Max, how you frightened me!" cried Hannah; then, "oh, Maxy, what's the
matter?" Mitz was forgotten; he gave a leap, shawl and pillow-case, and
before Hannah could prevent, had crept out of his bandages and was
standing a free cat, with arched back and a defiant tail. By this time
Mrs. Liseke had come out of the fire-place with her two youngest in her
arms. She was elegantly dressed in a bed-sheet, which trailed behind her
and was gracefully tied under her chin. Mitz's mother followed,
stretching all-fours luxuriously.

No, Max wouldn't tell. He plunged two black hands in his breeches'
pockets and made up faces and danced a wild war dance, while Mitz and
family fled into various corners.

"Why don't you slap him?" pouted Liseke.

"No," little Hannah said, wisely. "He likes cookies." Coaxingly: "Maxy
dear, won't you tell?"

"No, you bet I won't! you're nothing but girls."

"Is it a surprise, Max?" Hannah suggested, anxiously.

"Won't tell yer," contemplating his brass-tipped toes.

"Maxy, I'll give you a big cookey if you'll tell."

"You nasty thing, I don't want a cookey."

"Maxy: two? three--four--five--six--there! now you'll tell?"

"Give 'em first," said this practical boy, apparently conquered.

Six noble cookies were counted into his hand.

"Now I won't tell yer at all. It's a surprise! Father said I wasn't to
tell," he cried, scornfully, with his mouth full.

"Oh, Haneke, papa's going to surprise us! Now I know what it is!" Liseke
whispered excitedly "It is a piano, and perhaps--perhaps a stool. Try
and find out from Max."

"Maxy, dear," Hannah said, imploringly, "is it covered with plush?"

"Why, how do you know?" Max cried, unguardedly, as he was finishing his
sixth cookey.

"I knew it, I knew it," Liseke gasped, wildly.

"Does it make a noise if, well, say, if you bang on it?" Hannah cried,
with a beating heart.

"Why--why--yes," Max acknowledged, wrathfully, with a futile kick at
Mitz's mother, who was purring about his legs. "There, you mean thing,
you're always trying to find out something! Just you wait till I tell
yer anything more!" he cried, and slam-banged himself out of the room,
with his bosom full of suppressed injuries.

"He was mad because we guessed," Liseke cried, joyfully.

"A piano!" Hannah gasped, as the door went to with a crash.

"A stool," Liseke added; then, "Let's tell mamma!"

That dear, gentle mother, sitting by the dim window trying to mend by
the last flicker of daylight! She looked up lovingly as the door flew
open.

"Mamma," gasped Hannah, "papa's got a surprise for us."

"Max said so," chimed in the other. "We've guessed, mother dear."

"It's a piano."

"And--and a stool."


[Illustration: MAX KNOWS OF A SURPRISE.]


"He said it'ud make a noise; and was covered with plush."

"O, dear children, surely papa wouldn't buy you a piano. He can not
afford it," and two kind hands were stretched out to the children.

"Oh, yes it is," the two cried hopefully.

"You know, mamma, papa's always promised us a surprise, and he's never
done it yet!" Hannah cried, and laid her round cheek against the
delicate, pale face.

There was no use arguing; the children were convinced. They were sure of
the piano.

"There, mamma, didn't we tell you so," they cried, as Max came in,
mysterious and exasperating.

"Father says the surprise will be ready for you to-morrow afternoon at
three o'clock in the sitting room," he cried, and was gone, leaving a
momentary vision of a bright patch in the seat of his breeches.

"Poor child," thought the little mother, regretfully; "he is all in
rags--I wish I had some money!" with a patient sigh.

"There, mamma, we told you so! It'll stand by the window in the corner
of the sitting-room," two excited voices cried, and the next moment the
sitting-room was invaded by two small figures who looked at the empty
corner by the window with delicious expectancy; and so the day went
slowly by.

In another room the little mother looked at her husband wistfully.
"Karl," she began, timidly, "have you really prepared a surprise for the
children? You won't disappoint them?"

"Betty, don't say a word! Wait! Did I ever disappoint you?"

Betty turned away with a half-suppressed sigh, while papa Karl strode up
and down the room grandly, virtuously, with a good deal of injured
innocence in his face.


II.

The great day had come. Hannah and Liseke hadn't slept a wink all night.

Mitz and family had come purring into the room in the early morning, as
usual, but had been shamefully neglected. All six sat in a row by the
bedside, watching indignantly the two heads peeping out from the
feathers.

"To-day!" Hannah sighed rapturously.

How they got into their clothes, they never knew.

As for eating! why, they couldn't touch the delicious rolls, the glasses
of milk, even that delicious preserve, "Apfel-kraut."

Max alone was himself, and, in his injured way, managed to eat enough
for three. Yet, he was not satisfied; at the age of eight life had few
attractions left for him.

Who could believe that a September day would be so long? Or that the old
clock in the hall would go so ridiculously slow? There was a quiet
jocularity in the motion of its long pendulum, as if it were laughing
bitterly that anyone could be in a hurry. "Ha! ha! ha!" ticked the
clock.

"Oh, dear!" Hannah said with a sigh, "will it never be three?"

How they kept their ears open to hear a crowd of men come stumbling up
the stone steps with the weight of the piano!

"Perhaps it is already here," Liseke said, faintly.

"Perhaps it's coming," Hannah suggested, hopefully.

"One--two--three--," the clock struck.

"Come, mamma!" the children cried; and so they opened the sitting-room
door with trembling hands.

Nobody there; nothing there. Mamma sat down in a corner and began
knitting, while the children looked out of the window into the narrow
street to see a wagon drive up to the house.

"Perhaps they've forgotten all about it," Liseke was saying tremulously,
when the sitting-room door burst open and there stood Max and behind
him, papa Karl.

"Oh, Max, Max, where's the surprise?" the children implored.

"Why, don't you see!" Max cried, mightily injured, and turning himself
about disclosed his small person arrayed in a new velveteen suit
brilliant with brass buttons.

"Oh--dear--dear," sobbed little Hannah with the tears rolling down, "we
thought it was a piano!'

"Did I say it was a piano?" Max howled.

"You said it--it--was--was--covered with pl--plush," Liseke sobbed.

"Well, isn't it?"

"And--and you said it 'ud make a noise if one b--banged on it," Hannah
cried, piteously.

"Well, see if it don't!" Max shrieked, when papa Karl's hand came down
upon him with such superb effect there was no doubting the truth of the
assertion.

"Ungrateful children, you are never satisfied," papa Karl cried
majestically. "No matter what I do for you, you're always ungrateful--"


[Illustration: THE SHAMEFULLY NEGLECTED SIX.]


"But Karl," mamma Betty interrupted, with quiet decision, in the midst
of a storm of sobs, "you can't expect the children to be very much
delighted because Max gets a new suit--something necessary."

"And it's so tight I can't breathe," Max cried, goaded to frenzy by the
general grief.

"Ingrates!" gasped papa Karl, and strode up and down the room, while
Liseke sobbed her grief out on mamma's shoulder, and Max hid his face in
her lap, and Hannah was bravely trying to dry her brown eyes.

"Karl, they are children," mamma Betty said: softly patting Max's head;
then lifting it up gently; "Max, go to the confectioners." Max sprang to
his feet as a war-horse at the sound of a trumpet.

"Here are ten groschens;"--mamma Betty took them out of her scanty purse
with something of a sigh;--"buy as much cake and whatever you like.
Liseke tell Marie to make a pitcher of chocolate instantly. My little
Hannah, you may set the table."

"Oh, mamma, may I put on the pretty china cups and saucers?" Hannah
pleaded, as Max and Liseke bounded out of the room.

"Yes, but be careful, my dear."

"Chocolate!" said papa Karl with some scorn, "bribing them for the sake
of peace."

They were children, she said. Had papa Karl forgotten that he, too, had
once been a child?

Papa Karl had forgotten this trifling circumstance but he magnanimously
declared he forgave them all.

There was a pattering of feet down the entry, and three tear-stained
faces looked timidly in.

"The chocolate is on the table," Hannah said bravely, with only one tiny
sob. Then the door closed and the little feet patted down the corridor.

"Come Karl, and drink a cup of chocolate. You need it as much as the
children, for you were disappointed also. You thought to give them a
pleasure, you mistaken man," mamma Betty said with a little smile.

"I really meant to," said Karl, quite softened.

Mamma Betty was just opening the door, when she suddenly paused.

"Karl," she said quite seriously, "will you promise me one thing?"

"Yes, my dear."

"Never surprise us again; surprises always end in disappointments."

"Well, Betty I promise," papa Karl said hurriedly, and he kept his word.
So years after, when papa Karl's purse was a good deal fuller, and a
piano did make its appearance, it was welcomed solemnly, as something
long and rapturously expected.



APRIL FOOLS AND OTHER FOOLS.


[Illustration]


The custom of playing a joke upon one's neighbor upon the First of April
is of very ancient origin, dating so far back in the past that we are
unable to tell just when or with what nation it had its birth.

There was a time, very many years ago, when the year began on the
twenty-fifth of March. Then, as now, New Years' was a great feast of the
Church; and as the First of April was what was termed the _octave_--that
is, the eighth day after the commencement of the feast--it has been
thought that the feast which terminated upon that day closed in
April-fooling. In support of this theory we find that the Catholic
Church, at one time in its early history, observed an annual feast
called "The Feast of the Ass." The day upon which this feast was held
answers to our sixth of January, which now is called "Twelfth-Day." The
day was devoted to merry-making, masquerading, jesting, and to fun in
general.

Among the Hindoos there is a feast which is still observed, called the
"Huli," which, continuing several days, terminates on the thirty-first
of March. One of the distinctive features of this feast is, that every
one endeavors to send his neighbor upon some errand to some imaginary
person, or to persons whom he knows are not at home; and then all enjoy
a good laugh at the disappointment of the messenger. The observance of
this custom by this peculiar people seems to indicate that it had a very
early origin among mankind. In fact, it is not impossible that the
manner in which the day is observed by us may have been suggested by
some pagan custom. But whatever or whenever its origin may have been, we
find it so widely prevalent over the earth, and with so very near a
coincidence of day, as to be proof of its great antiquity.


[Illustration]


The observance of April Fools' Day is a very popular one in France, and
we find traces of it there at a much earlier period than we do in
England. It is related that Francis, Duke of Lorraine, and his wife,
having been confined at Nantes as prisoners, successfully made their
escape on the First of April. Taking advantage of this day, when they
knew the guards would be upon the lookout lest some joke should be
played upon them, they disguised themselves as peasants, the Duke
carrying a hod upon his shoulder, and his wife bearing a basket of
rubbish upon her back. Thus disguised, they passed through the gates of
the city at an early hour of the day. There was one person, however, who
guessed their secret. This was a woman who was an enemy of the Duke and
his wife, and she at once resolved that they should not thus escape. She
therefore hastened to one of the guards and told him of the escape of
the prisoners. But the soldier only regarded it as an attempt to play a
joke upon him, and at once cried out "April Fool!" to let the woman know
that he had not forgotten what day it was. Hearing the soldier call out
this, the rest of the guard, led by their sergeant, shouted "April
Fool!" until the woman was forced to retire without being able to
accomplish her errand. When at last it was learned that she had told
them the truth, it was too late, the Duke and his wife having made good
their escape.

In France, the person who is April-fooled is called _poisson d'Avril_.
Upon a certain occasion a French lady stole a watch from a friend on the
First of April. The theft having been discovered, and the lady accused
of having taken the watch, she endeavored to pass off the affair as _un
poisson d'Avril_.

Having denied that the watch was in her possession, her rooms were
searched, and the missing article found upon a chimney-piece. When shown
the watch the thief coolly replied: "Yes; I think I have made the
messenger a fine _poisson d'Avril_."

However, the magistrate ordered that she be confined in prison until the
First of April following, "_comme un poisson d' Avril_."


[Illustration]


In England, the custom of April-fooling is practiced very much as it is
in the United States. "A knowing boy will despatch a younger brother to
see a public statue descend from its pedestal at a particular appointed
hour. A crew of giggling servant-maids will get hold of some simple
swain, and send him to a bookseller's shop for the 'History of Eve's
Grandmother,' or to a chemist's for a pennyworth of 'pigeon's milk,' or
to the cobbler's for a little '_strap_-oil,' in which last case the
messenger secures a hearty application of the strap to his shoulders,
and is sent home in a state of bewilderment as to what the affair means.
The urchins in the street make a sport of calling to some passing beau
to look to his coat-skirts; when he either finds them with a piece of
paper pinned to them or not; in either of which cases he is saluted as
an 'April-fool!'"


[Illustration: FIRST OF APRIL DANGER.]


It has been said that "what compound is to simple addition, so is Scotch
to English April-fooling." The people living in Scotland are not content
with making a neighbor believe some single piece of absurdity, but
practice jokes upon him _ad infinitum_. Having found some unsuspecting
person, the individual playing the joke sends him away with a letter to
some friend residing two or three miles off, for the professed purpose
of asking for some useful information, or requesting a loan of some
article, while in reality the letter contains only the words:

    "This is the first day of April,
    Hunt the gowk another mile."

The person to whom the letter is sent at once catches the idea of the
person sending it, and informs the carrier with a very grave face that
he is unable to grant his friend the favor asked, but if he will take a
second note to Mr. So-and-so, he will get what was wanted. The obliging,
yet unsuspecting carrier receives the note, and trudges off to the
person designated, only to be treated by him in the same manner; and so
he goes from one to another, until some one, taking pity on him, gives
him a gentle hint of the trick that has been practiced upon him. A
successful affair of this kind will furnish great amusement to an
entire neighborhood for a week at a time, during which time the person
who has been victimized can hardly show his face. The Scotch employ the
term "gowk" to express a fool in general, but more especially an April
fool; and among them the practice which we have described is called
"hunting the gowk."

Sometimes the First of April has been employed by persons wishing to
perpetrate an extensive joke upon society. Among those which have come
to our knowledge the most remarkable one occurred in the city of London
in 1860. Towards the close of March a large number of persons received
through the post-office a card upon which the following was printed:

                "TOWER OF LONDON.

            ADMIT THE BEARER AND FRIEND

                   to view the

     ANNUAL CEREMONY OF WASHING THE WHITE LIONS,

                       on

              SUNDAY, APRIL 1ST, 1860.

         _Admitted only at the White Gate._

         *       *       *       *       *

     It is particularly requested that no gratuities be
     given to the wardens or their assistants."

To give the card an official appearance, there was a seal placed at one
corner of it, marked by an inverted sixpence. There were but few persons
receiving the cards who saw through the trick, and hence it was highly
successful. As soon as the first streaks of gray were seen in the east,
cabs began to rattle about Tower Hill, and continued to do so all that
Sunday morning, vainly endeavoring to discover the "White Gate," the
joke being that there was no such gate.

In the United States the greater part of the attention which is paid to
April Fools' Day comes from children. In cities, especially, it is made
much of by the "street Arabs," who watch every opportunity to play some
trick upon every countryman whom they chance to see. Although we may
laugh at jokes which are played upon All-Fools' Day, yet the greater
part of them are unjust and improper, and it would be much better were
they left undone.

While speaking of April fools we are reminded of the Wise Fools of
Gotham, and are constrained to tell our young readers about them in this
connection. Gotham is a village in Nottinghamshire, in England. At one
time, when King John and his retinue were marching towards the village,
the people learned that he intended to pass through Gotham meadow. Now
the ground over which a king passed became forever after a public
highway, and should they suffer the king to pass through their meadow
the villagers saw that they would lose it.


[Illustration: DROWNING THE EEL.]


This they resolved not to do, and therefore devised a plan which caused
the king to pass another way. When the king learned what had been done
he was very angry, and at once sent messengers to inquire why they had
been so rude, intending, no doubt, to punish them for what they had
done. When the Gothamites learned of the approach of the messengers they
were as anxious to escape punishment as they had been to save their
meadow. They immediately came together and agreed upon a plan by which
to save themselves. They at once set about carrying their plans into
effect, and when the king's messengers arrived they found some of the
inhabitants endeavoring to drown an eel in a pond; some dragging their
carts and wagons to the top of a barn to shade the wood from the sun's
rays; some tumbling cheeses down a hill in the expectation that they
would find their way to Nottingham Market, and some were employed in
hedging in a cuckoo which had perched upon an old bush. Seeing men
engaged in such employments as these the king's servants were convinced
that the villagers were all fools, and quite unworthy the king's notice.
The villagers, however, seeing that they had outwitted the king,
considered themselves wise. To the present day a "cuckoo bush" stands
upon the spot where it is said that the inhabitants of Gotham endeavored
to hedge in the bird.

There is another class of Fools which deserve mention. These are called
Court Fools or Jesters. Until within a comparatively short time ago,
every king had his Jester, whose duty it was to furnish mirth and
merriment for the royal household. The real Court Fool was in reality a
fool by birth, while a Jester was a _pretended_ fool. The former was
dressed in "a parti-colored dress, including a cowl, which ended in a
cock's-head, and was winged with a couple of long ears; he, moreover,
carried in his hand a stick called his bauble, terminating either in an
inflated bladder or some other ludicrous object, to be employed in
slapping inadvertent neighbors."


[Illustration: SAVING THE SHINGLES.]


On the other hand, the Jester selected his clothes not only with a view
to their grotesqueness but also with an eye to their richness. While the
real fool "haunted the kitchen and scullery, messing almost with the
dogs, and liable, when malapert, to a whipping," the pretended fool was
comparatively a companion to the sovereign who engaged his services.
Berdic, the Jester of the Court of William the Conqueror, for instance,
was considered of so great importance that three towns and five
carucates were conferred upon him.


[Illustration]





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