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Title: Uncle Rutherford's Nieces - A Story for Girls
Author: Mathews, Joanna H. (Joanna Hooe), 1849-1901
Language: English
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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.

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Internet Archive/American Libraries.)



[Illustration: "SUCH WAS THE PICTURE THAT PRESENTED ITSELF TO MY
               VIEW."--_Page_ 10.]



UNCLE RUTHERFORD'S NIECES

A STORY FOR GIRLS



By

JOANNA H. MATHEWS

_Author of "The Bessie Books," "Uncle Rutherford's Attic,"
"Breakfast for Two," etc._

    "For ruling wisely I should have small skill,
    Were I not lord of simple Dara still."


WITH ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATIONS



NEW YORK
FREDERICK A. STOKES & BROTHER
1888

Copyright, 1888,
By FREDERICK A. STOKES & BROTHER.



DEDICATED TO

HERBERT HUNT,
WITH LOVING AND BEST WISHES FOR HIS FUTURE YEARS,
ON HIS BIRTHDAY,

AUGUST 6, 1888.



CONTENTS.


                                                             PAGE

CHAPTER I.
    AN ARITHMETICAL PUZZLE                                      7

CHAPTER II.
    A CABLEGRAM                                                27

CHAPTER III.
    AN ARRIVAL                                                 47

CHAPTER IV.
    "FOOD FOR THE GODS"                                        71

CHAPTER V.
    THE "MORNING BUGLE"                                        89

CHAPTER VI.
    UNCLE RUTHERFORD'S PRIZE                                  107

CHAPTER VII.
    TWO PEANUT-VENDERS                                        129

CHAPTER VIII.
    NOT ON THE PROGRAMME                                      151

CHAPTER IX.
    MATTY                                                     173

CHAPTER X.
A COLD BATH                                                   195

CHAPTER XI.
FIVE DOLLARS                                                  219

CHAPTER XII.
    CAUGHT IN THE ACT                                         241

CHAPTER XIII.
    MATTY IS PROVIDED FOR                                     261

CHAPTER XIV.
    JIM'S CONFESSION                                          285



UNCLE RUTHERFORD'S NIECES



CHAPTER I.

AN ARITHMETICAL PUZZLE.


A sunny and a dark head, both bent over a much-befigured, much-besmeared
slate, the small brows beneath the curls puckered,--the one in
perplexity, the other with sympathy; opposite these two a third head
whose carrotty hue betrayed it to be Jim's, although the face
appertaining thereto was hidden from my view, as its owner, upon his
hands and knees, also peered with interest at the slate. Wanderer,
familiarly known as "Wand,"--the household dog, and the inseparable
companion of my little sisters,--lay at their feet, as they sat upon a
low rustic seat, manufactured for their special behoof by the devoted
Jim; its chief characteristic being a tendency to upset, unless the
occupant or occupants maintained the most exact balance, a seat not to
be depended upon by the unwary or uninitiated, under penalty of a
disagreeable surprise. To Allie and Daisy, however, it was a work of
art, and left nothing to be desired, they having become accustomed to
its vagaries.

Such was the picture which presented itself to my view as I came out on
the piazza of our summer-home by the sea, and from that point of
vantage looked down upon the little group on the lawn below.

But the problem upon which all three were intent had evidently proved
too much for the juvenile arithmeticians; and, as I looked, Allie
pushed the slate impatiently from her, saying,--

"I can't make it out, Jim: it's too hard. You are too mixed up."

"Now, Miss Allie! an' you with lessons every day," said Jim
reproachfully. "Should think you might make it out."

"I'm not so very grown up, Jim," answered the little girl; "and I've
not gone so very far in the 'rithmetic; and I'm sure this kind of a sum
must be in the very back part of the book."

"Here comes Bill," said Jim, as a boy of his own age and social
standing appeared around the corner of the house, a tin pail in one
hand, a shrimp-net in the other. "Maybe he'll know. Mr. Edward's taught
him lots of figgerin'. Come on, Bill, an' help me an' Miss Allie make
out this sum. You ought to know it, bein' a Wall-street man."

Allie said nothing; but I saw a slight elevation of her little head and
a pursing of her rosy lips, which told me that she did not altogether
relish the idea that a servant-boy might possess superior knowledge to
herself, although he might be nearly double her age. Allie's sense of
class distinctions was strong.

Having faith in his own attainments, however, the "Wall-street
man"--this was the liberal interpretation put by Jim upon his position
as office-boy to brother Edward--deposited his pail and net upon the
ground, and himself in a like humble position beside his fellow-servant
and chum. He might be learned, but he was not proud by reason thereof.

"Now le's see, Miss Allie," he said; "what is it you're tryin' to
figger out?"

"It's Jim's sum; and I can't see a bit of sense in it, even when it's
down on the slate," answered Allie, still in a somewhat aggrieved tone.
"He's as mixed up as a--as a--any thing," she concluded hastily, at a
loss for a simile of sufficient force.

"As a Rhode-Island clam-bake when they puts fish an' clams an'
sweet-potatoes an' corn all in to once," said Jim.

"_At_ once, not _to_ once; and they _put_, not they _puts_," corrected
Allie, who, remarkably choice herself in the matter of language, never
lost sight of a slip in grammar on the part of our _protégés_.

"Seems funny, Miss Allie, that you, that's so clever in the right ways
of talkin', can't do a sum," said Jim.

Allie's self-complacency was somewhat restored by the compliment; but
she still answered, rather resentfully,--

"Well, I can, a decent sum! I had five lines yesterday, and added it
all right, too; but a sum like that--I b'lieve even brother Ned
couldn't do it!"

That which brother Ned could not do was not to be compassed by man, in
the opinion of the children. And, as if this settled the matter, Allie
rose from her seat, forgetting for the moment the necessity for keeping
an exact equilibrium, and that both its occupants must rise
simultaneously, unless dire results were to follow to the one left
behind. The usual catastrophe took place: the vacant end went up, and
Daisy was thrown upon the ground, the seat fortunately being so low
that her fall was from no great height; but the rickety contrivance
turned over upon the child, and she received quite a severe blow upon
her head. This called for soothing and ministration from an older
source, and, for the time, put all thought of arithmetical puzzles to
flight; but after I had quieted her, and she rested, with little
arnica-bound head against my shoulder, Jim returned to the charge.

"Miss Amy," he said, a little doubtfully, as not being quite sure of my
powers, "bein' almost growed up, you're good at doin' up sums, I
s'pose."

Now, arithmetic was not altogether my strong point, nevertheless I
believed myself quite equal to any problem of that nature which Jim was
likely to propound; and I answered vain-gloriously, and with a view to
divert the attention of the still-sobbing Daisy from her own woes,--

"Of course, Jim. What do you want to know? No," declining the soiled
slate which he proffered for my use, "I'll just do it in my head."

"You're awful smart then, Miss Amy," said Bill, admiringly.

But the question set before me by Jim proved so inextricably involved,
so hopelessly "mixed up," as poor little Allie had said, that, even
with the aid of the rejected slate, it would, I believe, have lain
beyond the powers of the most accomplished arithmetician to solve. No
wonder that it had puzzled Allie's infantile brains. To recall and set
it down here, at this length of time, would be quite impossible; nor
would the reader care to have it inflicted upon him. Days, weeks, and
years, peanuts, pence, and dollars, were involved in the statement he
made, or attempted to make, for me to work out the solution thereof;
but it was hopeless to try to tell what the boy would be at; and,
indeed, his own ideas on the subject were more than hazy, and, to his
great disappointment, I was obliged to own myself vanquished.

"What are you at, Jim?" I asked. "What object have you in all
this"--rigmarole, I was about to say, but regard for his feelings
changed it into "troublesome sum?"

Jim looked sheepish.

"Now, Miss Amy," broke in Bill, "he's got peanuts on his mind; how much
he could make on settin' up some one in the peanut-business, an'
gettin' his own profits off it. But now, Miss, did you ever hear of a
peanut-man gettin' to be President of the United States, an' settin' in
the White House?"

"I believe I never heard of any peanut-man coming to that, Bill," I
answered, laughing; "but I have heard of men whose early occupations
were quite as lowly, becoming President in their later years."

"An' I ain't goin' to be any peanut-man," said Jim. "I'm just goin' to
stick to this place, an' Miss Milly an' her folks, till I get
eddication enough to be a lawyer. I find it's mostly lawyers or sojers
that gets to be Presidents; lawyers like Mr. Edward. Miss Amy," with a
sudden air of apprehension, "you don't think Mr. Edward would try to
cut me out, do you? He might, you know; an', bein' older an' with more
learnin', he would have the start of me."

"I do not think that Mr. Edward has any ambition to be President, Jim,"
I answered, reassuringly. "You need have no fear of him."

For to no less a height than this did Jim's ambition soar, and he had
full faith that he should in time attain thereto. In his opinion, the
day would surely come when,--

    "The Father of his country's shoes
    No feet would fit but his'n."

And it was with a single eye to this that his rules of life were
conformed. The reforms which he intended to institute, mostly in the
interest of boys of his own age and social standing, when he should
have attained to that dignity, were marvellous and startling. No
autocrat of all the Russias, no sultan, was ever endowed with the
irresponsible powers which Jim believed to appertain to the position he
coveted; but, to his credit be it said, these were to be exercised by
him more for the benefit of others than for himself.

But he repudiated, now, the idea that the peanut venture upon which his
mind was dwelling had any thing to do with his future honors.

"Brother Edward would not be so mean to you, Jim," quoth Allie, who was
standing by my knee. "You spoke first to be President, and he would
never do such a thing as to take it from you."

"And Jim is not thinking about that when he tries to find out that
sum," said Daisy, raising her little bandaged head from my shoulder;
"he is quite nice and pious, sister Amy, and wants to do a very right
thing."

"'Tain't for pious, neither, Miss Daisy," said Jim, who rather resented
the imputation of being influenced by motives of that nature. "'Tain't
none of your doin' good to folks, nor any of that kind of thing; it's
on'y to animals, cause I'm sorry for 'em."

"O Jim, what grammar!" sighed Allie. For Jim, when excited or specially
interested, was apt to lapse into the vernacular against which he and
his friends were striving; Allie in particular setting her face against
it, and constituting herself his instructress and monitress in grammar
and style.

"Can't help it, Miss Allie," said Jim. "Can't keep grammar an'
'rithmetic into my head both to once; leastways, not when the
'rithmetic's such a hard one as this."

The excuse was accepted as valid; and Jim and the matter which was now
agitating his mind, both being at present in high favor and held in
great interest, any further lapses were suffered to pass without
correction or remark.

Jim's love for and sympathy with all animals, especially such as were
feeble or disabled in any way, was a well-known trait. A maimed or
otherwise afflicted dog, horse, cat, or bird was sure to meet with more
favor in his eyes than the most beautiful and perfect of its kind; and
he had a horror of shooting birds or other game, which was quite
remarkable in a boy of his antecedents. He even questioned the right
and expediency of killing animals for food, although he never objected
to partaking thereof when it was set before him. Fish, only, seemed to
him legitimate prey in the way of sport; and for all noxious insects,
snakes, or vermin of any description, he had a perfect hatred, setting
at naught the principles of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty,
and really taking a most reprehensible delight in tormenting them,
altogether at variance with his feeling for other creatures.

"Bill," I said, turning to that youth as the most practical and
clear-headed of the group, "tell me if you know what it is that Jim
desires to find out, and the rest of you keep silence, and do not
interrupt."

"Well, Miss Amy," answered Bill, "it's just this. Jim was readin' in
the newspaper about a' old lady, how she left all her money--an' she'd
worked hard for it too, makin' a show of herself on account of bein' so
fat--to keep a hospital for all sorts of hurt an' sick animals an'
birds; an' Jim, he's just about as much took up with animals an' natur
an' things of that kind as she must ha' been, even if he ain't so fat;
an' he's got it on his mind to set up his own hospital, an' let Tony
Blair an' his sister Matty keep it an' take care of the animals. Tony's
lame, you know, and Matty's hunchbacked, an' can't work; so it's kind
of beginnin' on the two-legged animals--at least, Tony's only one
legged, but he has a right to be two, an' it's a help to them, too."

Poor Tony Blair, with his deformed sister, had formerly been associates
and chums of Bill and Jim, in the days when these last had themselves
been young vagabonds, waifs, and strays, buffetting with a hard world;
and that sentiment in Jim, which was "took up with animals an' natur,"
had led him to befriend the helpless creatures, and to do them such
kind turns as fell in his way. Overwhelming modesty, or a desire to
hide his light under a bushel, were not distinguishing characteristics
of Jim; but Bill also had borne ample testimony to the fact, that many
a time in the old days Jim had deprived himself of a meal--Milly come
by, it might be--to give it to the little cripples, poorly provided for
by a drunken father and ill-tempered mother to whom they were naught
but a burden. Many a faded and limp bouquet, discarded by some happier
child of fortune, did Jim rescue from the ash-heap and bring to Matty,
who had a passionate love for flowers; and not seldom during the spring
and summer months would he take a long trudge into the suburbs, and
gather wild blossoms to gratify the craving of the little hunchback. On
one of these occasions he stole a little, fluffy chicken, which had
wandered from its mother's guardianship beyond the garden palings of a
small cottage, and, hastily buttoning it beneath his worn jacket, made
off as fast as his feet would carry him to bestow his prize upon Matty,
who had expressed a longing desire for a bird. But the stolen gift
brought naught but distress to Matty's tender heart; for, when the
ragged jacket was unbuttoned, the little yellow ball fell lifeless into
Jim's hand.

"I'm sure I thought he'd got lots of air to breathe," said Jim, wofully
gazing at his victim, while Matty's tears bedewed it; "there's holes
enough in my jacket to make it as ventilatin' as a' ash-sifter, an' it
was awful mean in him to up an' die on me that way. An', Matty, I wish
I hadn't brought him, for him to go an' disappint you like this. Never
mind, some day I'll buy you a parrot an' a monkey."

Tearful Matty declined the monkey, but the parrot had long since
gladdened her weary hours; for a gorgeous specimen, given to much
screaming, even more than is the usual manner of his kind, had been
purchased by Jim for her behoof out of his little savings, soon after
he and Bill had fallen into good hands, namely, those of my sister
Millicent and brother Edward.

This occurred not long after the chicken episode. Milly had become
interested in the boys, whom she had encountered at one of the Moody
and Sankey meetings, whither they had come, not for purposes of
edification to themselves or others, but drawn, partly by their love of
music, and partly by the desire to make themselves obnoxious to more
decently disposed worshippers. But Milly, by her gentle tact, had
disarmed them,--they being our near neighbors at the service,--and,
profiting by this love of sweet sounds, had brought them within her
influence; nor ceased her missionary efforts on their behalf until,
with the aid of brother Edward, and the consent and co-operation of our
parents, she had established them both as servants in the family, where
they had opportunity and encouragement to fit themselves for decent and
useful lives.

But their rise in life had not caused Bill and Jim to forget their less
fortunate little friends and _protégés_,--for Bill, too, had in his way
been good to Tony and Matty, though he was not nearly so generous and
self-sacrificing as Jim,--and they made them sharers in their improved
circumstances so far as they were able. Jim had proposed that they also
should be taken into our household, and nursed and cared for; but, as
father and mother objected to having the house turned into a wholesale
reformatory and hospital, his modest plan was not carried out. Some
help, however, had been extended to the two cripples, who could have
been provided with good homes in some beneficent institution, could the
wretched mother have been induced to give them up; but, thinking
probably that they excited sympathy by which she could profit, she
refused to do so.

Ever since Jim had fallen upon happier times, it seemed that the boy's
whole nature had expanded, and he was constantly on the lookout, to use
his own language, "for a chance to do a make-up for all the good done
to me an' Bill." A certain ambitious and not unpraiseworthy pride, too,
and a strong sense of gratitude and obligation to those who were
befriending and helping them, particularly strong in Jim, were causing
both boys to make the most of the opportunities offered to them.

And now, it would seem, Jim was actuated by schemes of wholesale
benevolence for one, two, and four legged animals.

He had proved himself quite a hero during the last summer; had, through
the force of circumstances and appearances, fallen under unjust
suspicion, but had been absolutely and triumphantly cleared (the story
of which may be found in "Uncle Rutherford's Attic"); and had made
himself an object of considerable interest, not only to the members of
our own family, to whom he had shown great loyalty and fidelity under
severe temptation and trial, but also to outsiders who had known of the
story of his adventures. Hence, he had been made the recipient of
various tokens of this interest and appreciation, mostly of a pecuniary
nature, and he now felt himself to be quite a moneyed man.

With the generosity which was one of his characteristics,--perhaps the
most distinguishing one,--he scouted the idea of retaining the whole of
his small fortune for his own benefit, pressing a share of it upon
Bill, presenting our children and his fellow-servants with tokens of
his regard, mostly of a tawdry, seaside-bazaar nature, but beautiful in
their eyes and his own; conveying, with an eye to the future, another
portion to the care of brother Edward, to be used for "'lection
expenses" when the time should come for him to run for that dignity to
which he aspired; and now it appeared that he had other ends, of a
philanthropic nature, in view.

Old Captain Yorke, a veteran sailor, now retired from active service,
was our purveyor-general, going each morning in boat or wagon to the
nearest town, whence he brought for us and other families such supplies
as we ordered; the Point affording no facilities for marketing or daily
household needs. He was a great friend and crony of our two young
servant-lads, and to him as well as to Bill had Jim confided his plans;
but the three heads had proved unequal to the settlement of the
arithmetical difficulties which presented themselves, and Jim had
applied to Allie, as being possessed of greater educational advantages.
This had not proved equal to the situation, however, as has been seen;
the knowledge of eight years not being able to cope with this
mathematical problem.

Divested of Jim's complications, Bill's discursive remarks upon other
subjects, and put into rather more choice English than that in which
the latter delivered it, the plan amounted to this:--

Captain Yorke, heartily admiring, and willingly co-operating, was to
bring from the town a large quantity of peanuts, which Mrs. Yorke, also
full of sympathy, had promised to roast. The amount of peanuts
purchased was to be determined by the price per bag, but Jim's ideas
were of a wholesale nature; for my young brothers Norman and Douglas,
who both had a weakness for this vegetable, had also greatly encouraged
him in his undertaking, giving him not only hopes of great results from
the home-market, but promises that they would interest "the other
fellows," and induce them also to become customers. He was not to be
salesman himself, of course, his daily avocations not permitting of
this; but, for the rest of our stay at the seashore, he purposed
obtaining the services of an acquaintance who belonged in the place,
and who was in the habit of peddling about papers, periodicals, an
assortment of very inferior confectionery, and other small wares. The
proceeds of these sales made here at the seaside, deducting a
commission for the boy-vender, Jim hoped would suffice to start his
larger and more ambitious enterprise when we should return to the city.
This was to set up Tony and Matty Blair in business.

So far all was plain sailing, in anticipation; but now came the more
complicated part of the arrangement.

A stand was to be secured, a roaster, a fresh supply of peanuts, and
other necessary appliances purchased; and "our ladies," to wit, mother,
Milly, and myself, asked to provide the crippled young merchants with
warm clothing sufficient to protect them against exposure to the
elements.

There were so many "shares" to be provided for, shares of divers
proportions, and Jim's arithmetic was of such a very elementary nature,
that he soon found himself lost in a hopeless labyrinth of
calculations. With peanuts at so much by the wholesale, and so much at
retail, running-expenses, and so forth, on the one hand; what would be
the various amounts to be allowed from the proceeds, on the other, for
a "share" for Tony and Matty, another for return profits to Jim's own
pocket, and the third and larger for the establishment of the hospital
for crippled animals, the main object of the undertaking?

Now, if peanuts were so much per bag, and other needful appurtenances
so much more, how much profit might be realized, and what would be the
respective shares? Hardly had I solved this complicated problem to
Jim's satisfaction, and my own relief,--for, as I have said, numbers
were a weariness to my flesh, and the rule of three a burden to my
spirit,--when the boy remembered other claimants upon the fund.

"Miss Amy," he said, "didn't I forget. There's Rosie ought to have a
share for savin' me out the Smuggler's Hole; she _must_ have a share,
for sure; an' there's Captain Yorke, he ought to have some, too. Please
do it all over again, Miss Amy, takin' out their shares."

This was too much, however, and despite Jim's reproachful appeals to my
superior learning, I flatly refused to "do up" any more sums on his
behalf.

And now, happily, a diversion in my favor was effected, by the
appearance upon the scene of old Captain Yorke himself, who was seen
coming up the carriage-way, guiding before him a donkey-cart filled
with fish, while upon his arm he bore a basket of fruit, vegetables,
and so forth.

He was a character, this old, retired sea-captain,--a firm friend and
ally to all pertaining to the names of Livingstone, or Rutherford, or
to any belonging to those families, our factotum and standby; and,
moreover, an endless source of amusement to the mature part of the
household, and of unbounded admiration to the more juvenile portion. In
the eyes of our little girls, and indeed in those of my two younger
brothers, Norman and Douglas, and above all, in those of Jim and Bill,
he was a veritable hero, for his had been a hard and venturesome life,
full of thrilling adventure and hairbreadth escapes; and the children
never tired of listening to the narration of them. Nor, I am bound to
believe, did the old man depart from the ways of truth, or draw upon
his imagination, in narrating them. But I will let the garrulous old
veteran speak for himself, a thing which he was never loth to do.



CHAPTER II.

A CABLEGRAM.


"Mornin', boys; mornin', little ones; mornin', Miss Amy," said the
captain, regardless alike of my seniority to the rest of the group, and
of any claims of social position over the servants. "Where's pa?" This
to me.

"Mr. Livingstone is out driving," I answered, with what I intended to
be crushing dignity; for, much as I liked Captain Yorke, it always
vexed me to have my father and mother spoken of thus familiarly.

"Ma in, then?" he asked, quite unabashed; and indeed, quite unconscious
of any reproof.

"No; Mrs. Livingstone is with Mr. Livingstone," I answered again.

"Wal," drawled the captain, "that's likely enough. If ye see one on 'em
drivin' or walkin' roun', you're like enough to see t'other, for
they're lover-like yet, if they has got a big fam'ly part grown up. I
declar', yer pa an' ma is as like me an' Mis' Yorke as two peas is like
two more peas, allus kind of hankerin' to be together, jes' as if we
was all young folks yet, an' doin' our courtin'. Not that pa an' ma is
sech old folks as me an' Mis' Yorke, but they'll get to it bimeby if
they lives long enough."

I passed over the compliment to my parents without comment, merely
asking,--

"Can you leave your message with me, captain?"

"'Twill keep," he answered; "an' I've got a bit of business with Jim
here. Yer projeck ain't no secret, be it, Jim?"

"No," replied Jim. "I was just tellin' Miss Amy, an' askin' her to do
up the sums about it; but"--lowering his voice, and ignorant of the
laws of acoustics, by virtue of which I heard every word from my
position--"she ain't none too smart at sums if she has had such a lot
of schoolin', an' she didn't make it out real nice and clear like. But
you can speak out. She knows, an' is agreeble, an' says she'll help.
She's awful generous, like the rest of 'em, Miss Amy is."

With this little salve to the wounds which my filial pride and personal
vanity had received, he raised his voice once more, quite
unnecessarily, and continued,--

"Miss Amy, Captain Yorke's got somethin' to say' bout what we was just
talkin' of. Go on, captain; Miss Amy don't mind."

"I was jes' goin' to tell you what I been an' done," drawled the old
man, raising his hat with one hand, and rubbing up his grizzled locks
with the other, as was his wont when he was talking at length,--he
generally did talk at length when he talked at all. "You've jes' about
made up yer mind to do that undertakin', haven't yeou? That
peanut-undertakin', I mean."

Jim gave a prompt and decided assent.

"All right. So far so good, an' better too," said the captain, rather
illogically; "for if you hadn't, maybe I'd a been a little _too_
forehanded, as it were; but it was my opinions you'd made up yer mind
for it, so I acted accordin' an' brought 'em along."

"Brought _who_ along?" asked Jim impatiently.

"I'm jes' goin' to tell ye," continued the old man. "Don't yeou be in
too great a hurry. Things takes time to tell when there's any thin' in
'em worth tellin'; not that I'm no great hand on a long story, for I
allers was a man of few words; an' Mis' Yorke she can allers tell a
story more to the pint than me, or than any one I know on--bless her
heart."--Certainly the old man's loyalty to, and affection for, his
dear motherly wife was beautiful to see and hear.--"But she ain't here
to tell, an', what's more, she don't know nothin' 'bout it to tell. She
ain't the kind to go on talkin', talkin' 'bout things she don't know
nothin' 'bout; or, s'pose she does know somethin' 'bout 'em, to go
yarnin', yarnin' on forever an' a day, an' never gettin' to the pint,
like to Mis' Clay,--ye've seen Mis' Clay, ain't ye? She's Mis' Yorke's
cousin, comes over from Millville now an' then, an' the powerfullest
han' to talk, an' never comin' to the pint, an' never givin' anybody
else the chance."

Mrs. Clay was the captain's pet grievance, and almost the only person
of whom we ever heard him speak disparagingly; his objection to her
probably being founded on the ground that she never gave him "a
chance."

"_Such_ a tongue," rambled on the captain, "an' so fast an' confused
like she's wuss than the Tower of Babel itself, an' jes' as like to
scatter the folks what's livin' around her. But if ye've got a thing to
tell that's got a pint, folks mostly likes to hear the ins an' outs of
it, 'thout the trouble of askin' no questions, an' I'd as lieve tell
'em to 'em. So I'll tell ye all about it, Jim, an' all of ye."

"Well, if it's any thin' about my business, would you mind havin' it
out right quick, Cap?" said Jim.

"An' ain't I a doin' it?" responded the captain. "Don't be in sech a
hurry, boy. I got to get my breath to talk, after walkin' up the hill
for to rest Sanky Pansy a bit, for the cart was powerful full this
mornin', an' he did have a load, an' he's gettin' old an' has to be
eased off a bit like myself, an' I felt kind of blowed an' puffy-like.
Soon's I can talk good, I will. Young folks is allers got to be
impatient. There's my darter, Matildy Jane, she ain't none too patient,
you know--leastways, not onless it's with you, Jim,"--here a wink of
the eye at Jim made evident the playful irony of the exception, for Jim
was Matilda's _bête noir_, and a chronic warfare waged between the
two,--"an' she says to me this mornin', says she, 'Pa,' says she,--an'
ye might think I hadn't never learned her the Ten Comman'ments,
leastways the one about honorin' her father an' mother; but young folks
is different behaved from what they was in my day--at least them's my
opinions. I was jest a tellin' her an' Mis' Yorke how Peter Slade got
his boat capsized last night; an' 'Pa,' says she, 'it's time my bread
was took out of the oven, an' if you've got any thin' to say'--I
declar', Miss Amy, if she didn't give me a message about yer clothes;
how when the wind riz up last night, some of 'em was carried off the
lines into the sand, an' she had 'em to wash over again, an' wouldn't
have 'em home jes' up to time. Now, where was I, Jim?"

"Out on the sands, an' upset in Slade's boat, an' talkin' to Matilda
Jane; an' where you're goin' to is more than me or any one else can
tell, Cap," answered Jim, saucily. "You started to tell us something
about my peanut-business, I believe; but you've got considerable off
the line."

"To-o be sure, to-o be sure," said the old man, no whit offended or
displeased by the boy's pertness; for the spirit of _bon camaraderie_
which existed between them was not easily disturbed. "Well, now, I'm
jes' comin' to it right spang off. Well, ye see, I been over to
Millville this mornin' in the boat, accordin' to custom, when the water
ain't too rough, an' bein' off extry early, too, for I'd more 'n common
to market for,--Mis' Douglas she told me to bring her cowcumbers for
picklin'; an' Mis' Stewart she wanted some chany dishes an' some
glasses outer the crockery store,--an' that's considerable way from the
dock, you know; an' Mis' Yorke she gimme some bit of flannen she wanted
matched,--an' such like arrands takes time. So I says, says I, I'll
jes' run over to the station an' see what's doin' there, more by token,
as it was near time for the express, an' it kind of livens ye up a bit
to see them express-trains come in,--they're nice an' bustlin' like,
with a sort of go in 'em; an' after she come in, there was a
freight-train come, an' there was lots of freight put off, an'--guess
what I see, Jim, among it."

"Peanuts, I suppose," answered Jim, "an' I guess I'll get at the whole
story jest as quick by guessing it out myself, as by waitin' for you,
Cap."

The captain gave Jim a friendly nod, still no whit disturbed by the
freedom of his criticisms, and rambled on again,--

"Yes, peanuts, bags of 'em, half a dozen or more, I reckon, though I
didn't take the trouble to count 'em; an' the way I foun' out--how do
ye s'pose I knew what was in them bags?"

"Smelled 'em," said Jim; "Sampled 'em," said Bill, in a breath.

"How was I to sample 'em when they was--I mean, if they was fastened up
in the bags?" continued the captain; "nor it wasn't no smell, either.
There ain't much smell outer peanuts 'thout they're cookin'. Mis'
Yorke, she's a master hand to roast peanuts, does 'em jes' to a turn,
an' then ye can smell 'em clear down to the beach, an' fustrate it is,
too. I'd rather smell 'em than all the fine parfumery things they puts
up in bottles."

"What about the peanuts?" urged Jim. "Then how _did_ you know, an' what
did you do? Hurry up."

"There was a feller--one of the freight-hands--a pitchin' of the things
outer the cars; an' one of them bags hit against a barrow stood there,
an' got cut right through, the bag did,--an' what do you s'pose come a
pourin' outer that bag, Jim?"

"Think I can guess that riddle. Peanuts," answered Jim.

"Yes, peanuts," said the captain; "an' it was a lucky thing for Sam
Bates, to who they was consigned, that there wasn't a raft of
youngsters roun' that freight-house as there is most times of the day.
There's a Sunday-school clam-bake comin' off up to the Pint to-day, an'
I reckon most of the Millville boys was gettin' ready for to go to
that, so they wasn't on hand. Sam himself was there, though, an' it
beat all, the takin' he was in over them peanuts; an', to be sure, it
was enough to make any creetur' mad, to see them good peanuts go
rollin' an' hoppin' over the platform, an' Sam he in a' awful hurry to
load up an' go home, for he's a darter gettin' married this arternoon.
Ye didn't never hear about Sam Bates' darter, an' her city young man,
did ye? Well, ye see, Sam Bates' darter, her that is called----"

"But the peanuts; tell us what became of the peanuts first, Cap,"
interrupted Jim, determined to check the old sailor's wanderings, and
keep him to the "_pint_."

"Why, ye see," meandered on the captain, "when I see them peanuts
a-rollin' round, an' Sam in that takin', I says to myself, Sam ain't
got no time to lose a-pickin' up of them peanuts, an' maybe he'd be
glad to get rid of 'em for what he give for 'em an' no profits, an' let
Jim have the profits, an' no freight to pay on 'em but me to get 'em
picked up. 'Sam,' says I, as he was fussin' round, 'the Scriptur'
says,'--Sam's a deacon in the church, an' I thought mebbe a little
Scriptur' would fetch him, and keep the price down,--'the Scriptur'
says, Whatever a man can get, therewith let him be content; an' I take
it the moral of that is, make the best of a bad bargain. An' there's
another teks that says, Don't ye fret over spilt milk; an', bein' a
pillar of the church, I reckon you'd like to practise 'em, an' let your
light shine afore men.' Now if there's one thing more'n another that
Sam prides himself on, its bein' a deacon, an' livin' up to it; an' my
speakin' Scriptur' to him was jest a word in season, for he quiets down
an' falls to reckonin'. 'Give 'em to me for what you give by the lot,
an' throw in the freight,' says I, seein' he meant to make on 'em, 'an'
I'll take 'em an' see to the pickin' 'em up, an' you can load up the
cart an' start off home.' He jes' took to it at once, for, with the lot
he had, one bag didn't make so much differ out half a dozen--he buys
'em that way mostly, for ye know he keeps a' eatin' house; temperance
strict it is, up to Stony Beach, where there's lots of clambakes an'
picnics holdin' all the time, an' the folks eats heaps of peanuts. So
Sam came to my terms, an' I made thirty cents on the bag of nuts, an'
the freight throwed in for ye, Jim; an' me an' Taylor an' Shepherd
picked up all the nuts, an' I brought 'em along in a basket Taylor lent
me."

Jim turned expectant eyes towards the donkey-cart.

"No," said Captain Yorke, seeing the direction of his glance, "they
bean't here in the cart, nor nowheres here; they're down into the
lighthouse. Perry was comin' over in his boat 'thout no load; an', as I
was pretty well filled up, he brought 'em over, an' he's took 'em to
his own landin'. Soon's I'm rid of my load I'll go after 'em. Hello!"
as a blue-coated, brass-buttoned boy from the chief hotel of the place
came running into our grounds, and up to the house. "Hello, here's a
telegraph for some on ye! Hope 'tain't no bad news. I don't like them
telegraphs; ill news comes fast enough of its own accord, an' good news
is jes' as good for a little keepin', an' ain't goin' to spile. Mis'
Yorke she says----"

But Mrs. Yorke's sayings, valuable though they might be, were lost upon
me as I took the yellow-covered message from the hand of the messenger.
Telegrams were matters of such almost daily occurrence in our family
that the sight of one rarely excited any apprehension; and, as all of
our immediate household were at present here at our seaside home, I
knew that the message could bring no ill news of any one of them. But
my heart sank as I saw that this was a cablegram, for a dearly loved
uncle and aunt were over the sea, and my fears were at once excited for
them.

But fear was quickly changed to joy when, opening the cablegram in the
absence of my parents, to whom it was addressed, I read these words,--

"We take 'Scythia' to-morrow for home, direct to you at the Point. All
well."

As we had not expected the dear absentees for at least six weeks or
perhaps two months, this news was not only a relief, but a joyful
surprise, and I gave a little shriek of delight, which called forth
eager inquiries from the children, while Captain Yorke and Bill and Jim
were alert to catch my answer.

"Uncle Rutherford and aunt Emily are coming home, now, right away; they
will be here in a week or so, and they are coming to us, here to this
house!" I exclaimed, waving aloft the paper, in the exuberance of my
joy.

Daisy forgot her downfall, and her bandaged head, as she and Allie
seized one another by the hands, and went capering up and down the
piazza in an improvised dance; and Captain Yorke's face beamed, as he
said,--

"That's the best news I've heered this summer, leastways next to
hearin' Jim was likely to get well that time, for the Pint ain't the
Pint when the Governor and the Madam ain't on to it. But, Miss Amy, I
wouldn't be for turnin' your folks out afore ye'd go to the city
anyhow; for, take ye for all in all, ye're a pretty likely set, an' I'd
miss Jim an' Bill a heap."

There was no fear of that: we were tenants for the season in the dear
old seaside homestead, where we had been guests for more or less of
every previous summer; and the beloved uncle and aunt whose home-coming
from a European trip we were now rejoicing over, would, in their turn,
be now our much prized and welcome visitors. It would not be for long,
however; for, to the great regret of the whole household, our summer
sojourn by the sea would in a few weeks come to a close. I said the
whole household; but there was one exception, for father had privately
sighed all summer for our own country home, where he had his fancy
farm, extensive and beautifully cultivated grounds, and superb old
trees in which his soul delighted. We told him that a branch of one of
these last was, in his eyes, worth the whole broad ocean, in which his
family so revelled; and he did not deny the soft impeachment. But his
patience was not to be much longer tried, for we were to spend a couple
of months at Oaklands after leaving the seashore, and before we settled
down for the winter in our city home. Nevertheless, absence from his
beloved Oaklands had been more than compensated for by the roses which
the invigorating sea-breezes had brought to the cheeks of the two
youngest of the household, Allie and Daisy, who had been brought here
pale, feeble, and drooping, from the effects of the scarlet-fever, but
who were now more robust than they had been before the dreadful scourge
had laid its hand upon them.

Nor had the summer been one of unmixed enjoyment, even to those members
of the family who gloried in the sea and the seashore; for
circumstances had arisen which had been productive, not only of great
anxiety and trouble to us all, but which had involved bodily injury,
and all but fatal consequences, to poor Jim. And although his name and
character had come out scatheless from the trying ordeal of doubt and
suspicion which had fallen upon them at that time, it had been
otherwise with those of one who had been received as no other than a
favored friend and guest in our household; and a young girl whose
advantages had outweighed a thousand-fold those of the once neglected
waif rescued by our Milly from a life of evil, had gone forth from
among us with a record of shame and wrong-doing which had forfeited,
not only her own good name, but also the respect and liking of all who
had become cognizant of the shameful tale.

To those who have read "Uncle Rutherford's Attic," these circumstances
will be familiar; to those who have not, a few words will suffice for
explanation.

In the early part of the summer, my aunt, Mrs. Rutherford, had sent to
me a pair of very valuable diamond earrings, old family jewels, and an
heirloom. They came to me by virtue of my baptismal name, Amy
Rutherford, which I had inherited from several successive grandmothers
on my mother's side; the young cousin to whom they would have
descended, the only daughter of aunt and uncle Rutherford, having died
some years since, when a very little girl. She was exactly of my own
age; and this, with the fact that she too was an Amy, had caused me to
be regarded by my uncle and aunt, especially the latter, with a
peculiar tenderness; and they seemed to feel that to me, the only
living representative of the family name once borne by their lost
darling, belonged all the rights and privileges which would have fallen
to their own Amy Rutherford. It may be imagined how I had prized a gift
precious, not only for its own intrinsic value, but for the many
associations which clustered about it.

Scarcely, however, had the earrings become my personal property, than
there followed in their train such a course of sin, sorrow, and
tribulation, that my pleasure in them was quite destroyed; and, for a
long time, the very sight of them became hateful to me.

Ella Raymond, a ward of my father's, and a girl somewhat older than
myself, had come to make us a visit just about the time that the
beautiful jewels came into my hands. Incited by vanity, and an
inordinate love of dress, this unhappy girl had recklessly allowed
herself to become heavily involved in debt,--debt from which she saw no
means of escape, and which she was resolved not to confess to her
guardians. The sight of my diamonds aroused within her the desire to
possess herself of them, not for her own personal adornment, but that
she might dispose of the jewels, replacing them with counterfeit
stones, and so obtaining the means to satisfy her creditors.

Unrestrained by principle, honor, or the laws of hospitality, the wish
became but the precursor to the actual carrying-out of the evil
thought. Thanks to my heedlessness, and the careless way in which I had
guarded the earrings, she obtained them with little trouble; and after
an amount of duplicity and deceit, terrible and shameful to contemplate
in a woman so young, had contrived to carry out her purpose, to have
the stones changed, and then to convey the earrings back to my
possession, without drawing suspicion upon herself.

Nor, was this the worst; for when, by a most unfortunate series of
events, suspicion was forcibly directed toward Jim, she failed to
exonerate him by acknowledging her own guilt; and but for the merest
accident, which brought about the proverbial "Murder will out" and
fixed the crime without a shadow of doubt upon her, would have suffered
the innocent boy to bear all the penalties and disgrace which by right
belonged to her.

So it will be seen that the summer, spite of its many pleasures and
much happiness, had not been without a large share of care and
perplexity.

That all this was over, and that our fears for Jim's moral and physical
well-being had come to an end, we were most thankful; and the most of
us still clung lovingly to the grand old ocean, and our summer-home on
its shore.

But autumn gales would, ere many weeks, be sweeping over this exposed
coast; and already the summer-guests were flitting from the large
hotels, although the cottagers would probably hold their ground for
some little time longer. But what would it matter to us if we should be
left the very last of the summer-residents upon the Point, so long as
dear aunt and uncle Rutherford were to be with us? They were a host in
themselves, especially the latter, who always seemed to pervade the
whole house with his jovial, hearty presence, and who was the first of
favorites with all the young people of the family.

There would be much for them to hear, too: all the sad story related
above in brief, to be told, with all its minor particulars; for it had
been kept from them hitherto, as I had been very sensitive on the
subject, my own carelessness having been partially in fault, and I had
preferred that they should hear nothing of it until their return. Aunt
Emily would not have been severe with me, I knew; but I had wished that
the face and the voice, which she always associated with her own lost
Amy, should speak and plead for my shortcomings in the matter, when it
should come to her knowledge. And oh! was I not thankful beyond
measure, for her sake, even more than for my own, that the jewels had
been recovered, and were once more safe in my own possession, before
she learned of the perils they had passed through. If I felt somewhat
shamefaced and repentant, as it was, what would it have been if they
had been lost beyond recovery!

The joy at the unexpected return of the absentees was not confined to
their own family or circle, for the "Governor"--uncle Rutherford had
years since held that dignity in the State, and was still "the
Governor" to all the denizens of the Point--was greatly beloved by all
who knew him well; and the old residents of the place, which had for so
many years been his summer-home, considered themselves to be his
intimate acquaintances. He was an authority and a law to each one among
them. What "the Governor" did, was invariably right in their eyes; from
what "the Governor" said, there was no appeal. He would, indeed, have
been a daring man who should question the right or wisdom of uncle
Rutherford's words or deeds in the presence of any of these stanch
adherents.

And dear aunt Emily was not less beloved in her way, for the simple
people of the Point all but adored her,--true, wise friend that she had
proved to them; and among them none were more ardent in their devotion
and admiration than Captain and Mrs. Yorke.

So it was no wonder that the captain's face beamed with delight, nor
that, being somewhat after the manner of the Athenians of old, who
delighted in some new thing to tell or to hear, he should now be in
haste to despatch his daily business, and take his departure to spread
the news about the Point. Indeed, he would scarcely wait until I--who
regained my senses before it was too late--furnished him with the list
for the next day's supplies, which mother had confided to my keeping.
In fact, in the midst of the excitement and pleasant anticipations
which uncle Rutherford's cablegram had called forth, Jim's
"peanut-undertakin'" was for the present entirely lost sight of, unless
it was by the lad himself and his faithful chum and ally, Bill.

No need to give here the reasons which had influenced uncle
Rutherford's unexpected return; they were purely of a business nature,
and would interest no one else.



CHAPTER III.

AN ARRIVAL.


I had made my confession,--for a confession I had felt it
was,--involving for my own share no small amount of carelessness, and
some little pride and self-will; all of which "little foxes" had opened
the way to the commission of actual crime in another.

It was the day after that on which my uncle and aunt had arrived at the
Point,--mild, soft, and sunny; only the September haze upon sea and sky
to tell that the lingering summer was near its end.

We sat upon the piazza,--these two dear newcomers, my sister Milly, and
I. Father off upon some business; mother in the house attending to
Norman, who had come home with a sprained wrist; the children at play
upon the beach with Mammy, and their faithful pages, Bill and Jim, in
attendance. I had stipulated, with a fanciful idea that I was making
some righteous atonement, that I should be the one to relate the sad
story of my diamond earrings; and hence no one had until now mentioned
the subject in the hearing of my uncle and aunt.

The opportunity was propitious, the audience lenient and sympathetic;
and seated on the piazza-step, with my head resting against aunt
Emily's knee, and, as the tale proceeded, her dear hand tenderly
stroking my hair and cheek, I had told the story to its minutest
particular, taking, as the sober sight of after days has shown me, more
than the necessary amount of blame upon myself.

So my uncle and aunt now said; and, while inexpressibly shocked at such
heartless wickedness in one so young as the guilty girl, they would not
allow that their "own Amy" was at all blameworthy in the matter, and
only congratulated themselves and me upon the recovery of the earrings.
My name, and the likeness I bore to the Amy Rutherford in heaven, would
have pleaded for and won me absolution in a far worse case than this;
and they at once set themselves to work to demolish my almost morbid
fancies in connection with the theft of the jewels. The very fact that
I had now told them all was a relief, and my elastic spirits at once
began to rise from the weight which had burdened them during the last
few weeks.

"So that is the hero of your tale?" said uncle Rutherford, looking
thoughtfully down upon the beach where the little ones were enjoying
themselves to the utmost, and having matters all their own way, as
usual. Jim was lying prone upon the beach, while Allie and Daisy were
industriously covering him with sand; Bill assisting by filling their
pails for them. This was a daily amusement, and never palled.

"So that is your hero?" he repeated. "And what do you mean to do with
him, Milly?" he asked, turning to my sister. "Such a fellow should have
a chance in life."

"He thinks he has it since he has been here," answered Milly; "since he
has been among respectable people and surroundings, provided and cared
for, and taught. He and Bill both talk as if they needed no greater
advantages than those they possess already. As to what I mean to do
with him, dear uncle,--well, it is less what I mean to do with him,
than what he means to do with himself. His own ambitions are soaring,
and quite beyond any plans that I could form for him; his aim being the
head of the government of our country, with the powers of an autocrat,
and no responsibility to any one. Nor is his mind disturbed with any
doubts that he will be able to achieve this dignity, provided that he
continues to 'have his chance.' At present he is content with learning
his duties as a house and table servant, believing those to be but
stepping-stones towards his goal."

"To say nothing of his ambitious views regarding Milly herself," I
interrupted. But my remark was ignored as unworthy of the gravity of
the subject.

"But he should have some schooling, a boy such as he is,--do not you
think so?" asked uncle Rutherford; adding, "Whatever his aims and
ambitions may be, he can achieve nothing without some education."

Milly hesitated for a moment, unwilling to make mention of all that she
was doing for Jim and his _confrère_; and I spoke for her.

"Milly is spending a goodly portion of her worldly substance in that
way," I said. "The boys go to a teacher for two hours every evening,
and are both making quite remarkable progress in the three R's; and
Bill had singing-lessons all last winter, and I believe Milly intends
that he shall continue them when we go back to the city."

"H'm'm," said uncle Rutherford. "Very good, so far as it goes; but I
mean something more thorough and far-reaching than this." And Milly's
eyes lighted, for she knew that uncle was already planning some means
of substantial advancement for her _protégé_.

"If you are going to give him any further 'chance,'" I said, "Columbia
itself will not bound his ambition. He, too, will sigh because there is
but one world for him to conquer."

"H'm'm," said uncle Rutherford again, with his eyes still fixed
thoughtfully upon the incipient candidate for presidential honors, who,
having shaken himself free from the sand, and risen to his feet, was
now tumbling rapidly over in a series of "cart-wheels;" another
performance in which the souls of our children delighted, and in which
he was an expert. But he--uncle Rutherford--said nothing more at
present; and we were all left in ignorance as to what benevolent plan
tending Jim-wise he might be pondering.

For a man otherwise so charming and considerate, uncle Rutherford had
the most exasperating way of exciting one's curiosity and interest to
the verge of distraction, and then calmly ignoring them.

But now I suddenly bethought myself of Jim's "peanut plan," which,
truth to tell, had passed entirely from my mind since the day I had
first heard of it; and, with an eye to further prepossessing uncle
Rutherford in the boy's favor, I forthwith unfolded his scheme for the
benefit of the helpless young Blairs. My uncle was amused, but, as I
could see, was pleased, too, with Jim's gratitude and appreciation of
the good which had fallen to his own lot.

"Amy," said uncle Rutherford presently,--_apropos_ of some further
allusion which was made to my tale, and to Captain Yorke's share in
it,--"Amy, I am going to invite Captain and Mrs. Yorke to visit New
York this winter, and," with a twinkle in his eye, "shall depend upon
you and Milly to escort them hither and thither to see the city lions."

"Invite them to your house?" I inquired, in not altogether approving
surprise, for the idea of Captain and Mrs. Yorke as visitors in uncle
Rutherford's house was somewhat incongruous; while the vision of Milly
and myself escorting them about was not attractive in my eyes, fond
though I was, in a certain way, of the old man and his dear motherly
wife.

"Not to my own house, no," answered uncle Rutherford, with an
assumption of gravity which by no means imposed upon me, "for I do not
expect to have any house of my own this coming winter,--or, I should
say, not to occupy my own house; for, Amy, as my boys will pass the
winter abroad, and your aunt and I would feel lonely without them, we
have been persuaded by some kind friends, with a whole houseful of
troublesome young people, to make our home with them, and help to keep
their flock in order. So Captain Yorke and----"

But he was interrupted, as I fell upon him in an ecstasy of
delight,--worthy of Allie or Daisy,--enchanted to learn that we were to
have the inexpressible pleasure of having him and aunt Emily to spend
the winter with us; a pleasure which I would willingly have earned by
any amount of ciceroneship to the old sailor and his wife. The subject
had not been mooted before the younger portion of the family, but had
been discussed and settled in private conclave among our elders; so it
was a most agreeable surprise to each one and all of us.

"But about Captain and Mrs. Yorke?" I said, at length, when my
transports had somewhat subsided, and calmness was once more restored.
"You do not really mean that you are going to bring them to the city,
and--to _our_ house?"

And all manner of domestic and social complications presented
themselves to my mind's eye, in view of such an arrangement. For uncle
Rutherford, in his far-reaching desire to benefit and make others
happy, was given to ways and plans which, at times, were too much even
for his ever-charitable, generous wife; and which now and then would
sorely try the souls of those less interested, but who, _nolens
volens_, became the victims of his benevolent schemes.

No one was better aware of uncle Rutherford's proclivities in this way,
or more in dread of them, than my young brother Norman, who had just
joined our circle, fresh from mother's surgery, and with his arm in a
sling. For Norman's bump of benevolence was not as large as that of
some other members of the family, and he was inclined to look askance
upon uncle Rutherford's demands upon his heart and his purse. These, to
tell the truth, were not infrequent; for our uncle, believing that
young people should be led to the exercise of active and unselfish
charity, and seeing that Norman was inclined to shirk such claims, was
constantly presenting them to the boy, with a view to training him in
the way he should go in such matters.

"Uncle Rutherford gives with one hand, and takes away with the other,"
Norman had said, grumblingly, only this same morning, in my hearing.

"You had better say he takes with one hand, and gives seven-fold with
the other," said Douglas, resentfully; for he inherited, to the fullest
extent, the family generosity. "Nor, I saw the skins of your flints
hanging out to dry this morning."

Whereupon Douglas dodged a book aimed at his head, and left his shot to
work what execution it might.

Norman had caught my last words, and taken in their meaning, and his
delight at the prospect of a visit from Captain Yorke was almost as
great as Milly's and mine in view of the stay of our uncle and aunt at
our home; being incited, probably, by the thought of the "jolly fun"
which he and Douglas could extract from the old man while piloting him
about the city.

"I certainly do not intend to bring the old people to your house, Amy,"
said uncle Rutherford; "but your aunt is anxious that Mrs. Yorke should
see some good physician, who may be able to relieve her from her
lameness before she is entirely crippled; and we shall therefore
propose that they come to the city after we are fairly settled there,
when we will provide comfortable quarters for them, and put Mrs. Yorke
under proper treatment. There is a fitness to all things, my child; and
Captain and Mrs. Yorke would probably feel as much embarrassed as your
guests, as we should be in having them with us."

"I was only thinking----" I began, then stopped.

"You were only thinking that your quixotic old uncle was about to
inflict a somewhat trying experience upon you," said uncle Rutherford,
in answer to the unspoken thought. "But he has a _modicum_ of sense
left yet, Amy."

Truth would not allow me to enter a disclaimer, for this had been my
very thought. Any slight embarrassment which I might have felt,
however, was relieved by a little diversion in my favor, as uncle
Rutherford said,--

"Here is Fred Winston coming over from the hotel."

"Yes, he is generally coming over, and never going back," said Norman,
with what I chose to consider a saucy glance in my direction; but I
ignored both speech and glance, as I welcomed the new-comer.

Now be it understood, that this young man was neither a gossip nor
news-monger; but, being at present a resident of the largest hotel in
the place, he was, from the force of circumstances, apt to be the
hearer of various items of interest, and these, for reasons which
seemed good to himself, he usually considered it necessary to bring
over to the homestead as soon as possible after they came to his
knowledge. Indeed, our boys basely slandered him, by crediting him with
the invention of sundry small fictions as an excuse for coming over to
our house. Nevertheless, he was always a welcome guest with each one
and all of the family, and with none more than with these saucy boys.

"Mr. Rutherford," he said now, when he had settled himself in such
comfort as he might upon the next lowest step to that on which I was
seated, and addressing himself to my uncle, who, by virtue of his
interest in, and proprietorship of, a great portion of the Point, was
regarded by most people as a sort of lord of the manor,--"Mr.
Rutherford, have you heard what has befallen Captain Yorke?"

"I have heard nothing," answered uncle Rutherford. "No misfortune, I
hope."

Mr. Winston slightly raised his eyebrows, as he answered, laughingly,
"I do not know whether he considers it in the light of a misfortune or
a blessing; but I know very well how I should feel had such an
affliction fallen to my lot,--that it was an unmitigated calamity;
while Miss Milly, again, would probably consider it as the choicest of
blessings. It seems that the old man had a reprobate son, who, many
years since, went off to parts unknown; and his parents have heard
nothing of him since,--that is, until to-day, when a woman, claiming to
be his widow, appeared with five children. She had his "marriage
lines," as she called them, a letter from the prodigal himself to his
father, and other papers, which appear to substantiate her claim; and
the old couple have admitted it, and received the whole crowd. 'Matildy
Jane' is sceptical, derisive, and _not_ amiable. Nor can one be surprised
that she is not pleased at this addition to her household cares and
labors, for I have not told the worst. The woman is apparently in the
last stages of consumption; one of the children is blind; another has
hip-disease; and a third looks as if it would go the way its mother is
going. There is a sturdy boy of fourteen or so, the eldest of the
family, and another chubby, healthy rogue, in the lot; but they really
looked like a hospital turned loose. Brayton and I had gone down for
bait, and were talking to the captain, when they arrived."

"Don't, don't, Mr. Winston!" exclaimed Norman. "Milly will adopt the
crowd, and have them here amongst us. That is her way, you know."

"And what did the captain say?" I asked, fully agreeing with Mr.
Winston, that this must be, for the old seaman, an appalling
misfortune. "Imagine, if the thing is true, and these people dependent
upon him, the utter up-turning of the even tenor of his way,--of all
their ways. I sympathize with 'Matildy Jane.' What did the captain
say?"

"He asked me to read his son's letter to him,--for he is not apt, it
would appear, in deciphering writing; and, indeed, it was more or less
hieroglyphical,--then gazed for a few moments at the dilapidated
crew,--dilapidated as to health, I mean; for they are clean and decent,
and fairly respectable looking,--and said, 'Well, ye do all seem to be
enj'yin' a powerful lot of poor health among ye.' Then he turned into
the house, saying that he must 'see what mother said,' giving neither
word of welcome nor refusal to admit the claim of the strangers; and
presently Mrs. Yorke appeared, in a state of overwhelming excitement,
and, nothing doubting, straightway fell upon the new arrivals with an
attempt to take the whole quintette into her ample embrace. No need of
proofs for her; and, seeing this, the captain's doubts were dispersed,
and he began a vigorous hand-shaking with each and every one of those
present, including Brayton and myself, and repeating the process, until
Brayton and I, feeling ourselves to be intruders in the midst of this
family scene, made good our escape. Not, however, before 'Matildy Jane'
had appeared, with tone, look, and manner, which you who know 'Matildy
Jane' do not need to have described, denouncing the woman and children
as 'ampostors,' and bidding them begone."

"And you do not think that the woman is a fraud?" asked aunt Emily.

"I do not, Mrs. Rutherford; and neither did Brayton," answered Fred
Winston. "And, besides the letter and marriage certificate which were
in her possession, making good her pretensions, she had an honest face,
and appeared respectable,--far too much so for the wife of such a
scallywag as old Yorke's son is said to have been."

"If the Yorkes allow her claim, and take in this numerous family, it
will interfere with your plans for Mrs. Yorke, uncle," I said.

"Not at all," said uncle Rutherford, who, when he had once made up his
mind to a thing, would move heaven and earth to carry it out, and who
often insisted upon benefiting people against their will. "Not at all.
The new family can be left here to keep Matilda Jane company while her
father and mother are away. There is all the more reason now that Mrs.
Yorke should be cured of her lameness; and I believe that it can be
done."

Blessed with the most sanguine of dispositions, as well as with the
kindest and most generous of hearts, he always believed, until it was
proved otherwise, that the thing he wished could be done.

"Milly," said aunt Emily, suddenly turning to my sister, "will you come
down to the Yorkes' with me?"

Milly assented readily; and the two kindred spirits set forth together.

"The blessed creatures!" said Fred Winston. "What unlimited
possibilities the arrival of this infirmary opens up to them. I knew
that they would be off at once to inquire into the condition of the
sick and wounded."

"And to find out how many candidates there may be for the hospital
cottage and other refuges," I added.

But the two good Samaritans, as they afterwards reported, were not so
appalled by the state of things at the Yorkes' cottage, as Mr.
Winston's tale had prepared them to be. Perhaps matters had improved
since he had left two hours since, or the stricken family had at once
accommodated themselves to the change in their circumstances. Certain
it is that aunt Emily and Milly found peace and serenity reigning: Mrs.
Yorke with the little cripple in her capacious lap, coddling and
petting her as the good soul well knew how to do; the captain piloting
the blind child about the house and garden, familiarizing him with
different objects, by which he might learn his own way about by his
acute sense of touch; the youngest--a teething, not consumptive,
baby--fast asleep; and even the recalcitrant "Matildy Jane" tolerably
pleasant and good-natured beneath the fascinations of a handsome,
sturdy urchin four years old, who, undaunted by her hard face and
snappish voice, insisted upon following her around, and "helping" her
in her manifold occupations. He was a boy who did not know how to be
snubbed, and had fairly won his way with his ungracious aunt, by sheer
persistence in his unwelcome attentions. To all her hospitable
intimations that he and his family had brought an immense addition to
her cares and labors,--which certainly was true,--he opposed smiles and
caresses, and assurances that so long as he was there he would share
and lighten all these; appearing to think that she complained and
scolded only to draw forth his sympathy and aid.

Who could stand out against such a fellow? Not even "Matildy Jane." And
she had succumbed; at least, so far as he was concerned.

The mother of the helpless group, pale, feeble, and careworn though she
was, had already shown herself eager to lessen, so far as possible, the
burden she had brought upon the family of her husband, and sat peeling
potatoes from a huge basket on the one side, while a pan of apples,
duly pared and quartered, stood awaiting the oven upon the other.
Plainly Matilda Jane had had no scruples of delicacy in availing
herself of the services of her newly arrived sister-in-law.

"What _are_ you going to do with them all, Captain Yorke?" asked Milly,
pityingly, as she stood beside the old sailor in the porch, while aunt
Emily interviewed Mrs. Yorke and the widow. "This is such a care for
you."

"Do with 'em?" repeated the veteran, apparently quite undismayed by the
prospect before him. "Waal, I reckon we've got to be eyes an' backs an'
lungs to 'em, for they've run mighty short of them conveniences. Let
alone Theodore, an' that feller over there,"--nodding towards the
kitchen-door, within which Matilda Jane was to be seen mixing biscuit,
with the boy beside her, his round, fat arms up to the elbows in the
dough, with which he was bedaubing himself and every thing about him,
unrestrained by his subdued aunt,--"let alone that feller over there,
there ain't the makin' of a hull one among 'em. I guess they've got to
be took care of; an', if the Almighty hadn't a meant us to do it, he
wouldn't a sent 'em here. Them's my opinions, an' me an' Mis' Yorke we
ain't the ones to throw back his orderin's an' purposin's in his face.
They do seem a bit like a hospital full, though, don't they?" he added,
unconsciously expressing Mr. Winston's view of the situation. "Me an'
Mis' Yorke, we foun' out the truth of the Scriptur' sayin', how sharper
than an achin' tooth it is to have a thankless child, an' Tom,--I don't
min' sayin' it to you,--he _was_ thankless enough, though he's dead an'
gone, an' his old father ain't the one to cast stones at him now. But
me an' Mis' Yorke, we don't want to make out the truth of that other
Scriptur', that the sins of the father shall be visited on the
children,--leastways, not Tom's children; they ain't to blame for his
short-comin's; an', meanin' no disrespec' nor onbelief, _that_ Scriptur'
do always seem to me a little hard on the children. Maybe--who
knows--them youngsters will ha' brought a blessin' with 'em; an' my
opinions is they has, when I see Mis' Yorke a cuddlin' an' croonin'
over that little hunchback. Now she's awful contented an' easy-minded
like to have somethin' to pet, for she's allers a hankerin' after
babies an' them sort of critters. We was kinder took aback, for sartain,
when Maria,--her name's Maria, Tom's widder's is,--when she come right
in with the hull crowd followin', an' John Waters' wagon, what they
come from the station in, standin' at the gate, an' all the luggage in
it; an' them gentlemen was here gettin' bait an' askin' about the
fishin', an' Matildy Jane she kinder flew out, an' one of the little
ones was hollerin',--an' it was all kinder Bedlamy. But it's all come
right now; an' Maria, she's a willin' soul, an' if Jabez," the old
man's son-in-law, and a power in the household, "if Jabez an' Charlotte
don't be grumpy over it, we'll all get along as pretty as a psalm-book.
Jabez, he an' Charlotte has gone to Millville for the day, an' all this
is unbeknownst to them."

Clearly, the captain was somewhat in dread of Jabez and Jabez's
opinions; but Milly had no fear that the strangers would be sent adrift
in deference to these.

But something must be done to help the old people with the burden which
had so suddenly fallen upon them. The gray-haired seaman was
comparatively vigorous still, but his sea-faring days were over; and
while he had put by a sum sufficient to keep him, his good wife, and
"Matildy Jane" in comfort, this unlooked for addition to the family,
helpless and crippled as the grandchildren were, would be too great a
drain upon his little fund. As this had been placed in father's hands
for investment, we knew to a fraction what he had to depend upon, and
that it was not enough to provide for all. The sturdy independence of
the captain would no doubt revolt against the idea of receiving any
actual pecuniary assistance, as would that of his wife; but some way
must be contrived of lessening their responsibilities and cares. Jabez
Strong and his wife must share these, although he might and probably
would be "grumpy;" but even then it would be hard to meet all demands,
without depriving the old couple of their accustomed comforts. The
cheerful, it-will-all-come-right spirit in which they had received the
intruders,--_I_ could not look upon them in any other light,--made us
all the more anxious to do this; and, before night, Milly and I were
exercising our brains with all manner of expedients for accomplishing
it without hurting their pride and their feelings.

Meanwhile, our elders, with less of enthusiasm perhaps, but in a more
practical spirit, were considering the same matter; and the little
ones, our Allie and Daisy, having also heard of the influx of children
at the Yorkes' cottage, had laden themselves with toys and
picture-books, and persuaded mammy to escort them thither. Our little
sisters had so burdened themselves, that they needed assistance to
transport all these gifts to Captain Yorke's house; and they could not
look for any great amount of this from mammy, who had all she could do
to convey her own portly person, and the enormous umbrella without
which she never stirred, as a possibly needed protection against sun or
rain, as the case might be. So they begged that Bill and Jim might act
as carriers, coaxing Thomas to spare them from pantry duty,--a matter
not attended with much difficulty, as the old butler was only too
willing to indulge them on all occasions, even to the length of taking
double work on his own shoulders.

They all set forth on their errand of charity in high glee; but Jim
returned from the expedition with a face and air of such portentous
gravity, so different from his usual happy-go-lucky bearing, that Milly
was moved to ask if any thing unpleasant had occurred.

"Captain Yorke nor his folks didn't do nothin', Miss Milly," answered
Jim.

"Who, then?" asked Milly.

"Well, no _one_, Miss Milly," he replied. "I was on'y thinkin' what a
lot of 'em there was, an' it bothers me."

"So many Yorkes, do you mean?" queried Milly, rather wondering at his
evident perturbation.

"Such a many blind an' hunchback an' sick folks," he said; "an' how are
they all goin' to be done for. The more you try to do for some of 'em,
the more of 'em seem to come up. There's Matty and Tony Blair, who me
an Bill has took into our keepin' soon as we get to the city; an' now
here comes a Yorke hunchback, an' a Yorke blind, an' a Yorke sick baby,
all sudden like; an' I say that's pretty hard on the ole captain. I
like the captain firstrate, I do, Miss Milly; an' I don't like to see
him put upon that way. Some of us ought to see to 'em for him, but you
can't do for all."

"No, Jim," Milly said, soothingly, to the young philanthropist, "we
cannot do for all who need; but, if each one does his or her mite, we
can among us greatly lighten the load of human suffering; and that is
what we must all try to do, without making ourselves unhappy over that
which is beyond our reach or means."

"_You_ did a mighty big mite, when you did for Bill an' me, Miss Milly,"
said her pupil and _protégé_, looking gratefully at her. "There ain't
no halfway 'bout you, Miss Milly. But I would like to help Captain
Yorke, if I could; an' I was thinkin', could I do up them sums again
'bout the peanuts, an' get out a share for the Yorkes."

Milly laughed, for she had heard of Jim's plans, and of the various
objects which were to be benefited by the "peanut-undertaking;" and, as
frequent new claims and claimants appeared to share in the profits, she
argued that the proportion of each would be small.

"Jim," she said, "I think I would not undertake to help the Yorkes as
well as all the other people you have upon your list. They shall not be
allowed to suffer, you may be sure; Mr. Rutherford and Mr. Livingstone
will see to that."

"Miss Milly," he answered, reproachfully, "I on'y didn't reckon up
Captain Yorke an' his folks before, 'cause they hadn't need of it. Now
they will, with all that raft of broke-up children on 'em; an' do you
think I'd go to passin' 'em over when they was so good to me? No, that
I wouldn't; I ain't never goin' to forget how Mis' Yorke nussed me, an'
made much of me, when I was sick there in her house; an' they were good
to me, too, when I was a little chap, an' got shipwrecked on to the
shore. Miss Milly, do you know,"--hesitatingly,--"I'd liever take some
out of the 'lection expenses share, than to pass over the Yorkes. I
would, really, Miss Milly."

Truly, our Milly was reaping a rich fruit of generosity, loyalty, and
earnest endeavor, from the seed of self-sacrifice and charity which she
herself had shown in faith and hope. And this, too, in ground which the
on-lookers had judged to be so hardened and stony that no harvest was
to be gathered therefrom. Oh, my Milly, sweet soul,

    "Great feelings hath she of her own,
    Which lesser souls may never know."



CHAPTER IV.

"FOOD FOR THE GODS."


Behold our household now settled in our city home,--our summer by the
sea, with all its many pleasures, and its measure of perplexities and
anxieties, a thing of the past; our stay at Oaklands, where papa had
enjoyed himself to his heart's content, all the more for his enforced
absence of the previous months, also over; and the different members of
the family, according to his or her individual taste, occupied with
divers plans and projects for the winter's duties and diversions.

In view of certain contingencies which were likely to arise in the
future,--father and mother said in the _far_ future; and, indeed,
although it was pleasant to contemplate them from a distant standpoint,
I was in no haste to leave my dearly beloved home,--in view of these,
and with the comfort and well-being of a certain young man before my
eyes, to say nothing of my own pride in my housekeeping capabilities, I
had chosen to enlist myself as a member of a "cooking-class." Said
cooking-class was to meet once a week, in the afternoon, at the house
of each member, in turn, when we were to try our maiden hands on the
composition of any such dishes as we might choose; after which, certain
martyrs--namely, the aforesaid young man, and sundry of his friends and
associates--were to be allowed to join us, and, in case they were not
too fearful of consequences, to test the results of our efforts. Milly,
who had a regular engagement for the afternoon appointed, was not able
to aid in the culinary efforts, but pleaded, that, as she contributed a
sister, she might be allowed to join the later entertainment of the
evening. And the plea was considered all sufficient, for who would not
choose Milly when she might be had? So said Bessie Sandford, our
inseparable friend and intimate; and there was no dissenting voice
among the gay circle of girls.

She did not intend, however, to be without her share in the flesh-pots
which were to furnish the more substantial part of the entertainment;
and having a natural gift for cooking,--a faculty in which I was
altogether wanting,--she promised to prepare some dainty dish
beforehand, and send it as her share in the feast.

My last essay in that line had been in the shape of some gingerbread,
of which article of diet father was very fond, and I had exerted my
energies on his behalf. When it was presented at the Sunday-evening
tea-table, the family, excepting papa, contented themselves with
viewing it respectfully from a distance; even old Thomas, as he passed
the plate, regarding it doubtfully and askance.

Father heroically endeavored to taste it; but mother, whose regard for
his physical well-being outweighed even her consideration for my
feelings, protested; and, with an air of relief, he obeyed the
suggestion.

"What did you say it is? Ginger _bricks_?" asked Douglas.

I took no notice of this, but later bade Thomas take all the
gingerbread down-stairs.

"Yes, Miss," he answered, with an "I wouldn't care if I were you" sort
of an air; and the gingerbread disappeared. The next morning, however,
as I went to the store-room to execute some small order for mother, our
old cook confronted me.

"Miss Amy," she said, "whatever will I do with that gingerbread? There
isn't one in the kitchen will touch it, not even them b'ys; an' all's
mostly grist that comes to their mills."

"Oh, give it away to any one that comes," I answered indifferently, and
concealing, as I best might, my chagrin at this added mortification.

But later in the day, Allie and Daisy, returning from their walk with
mammy, rushed into the house in a state of frantic indignation.

"Amy, Amy," they cried; "Mary Jane gave your gingerbread to a tramp,
and he looked at it and smelled it and tasted it, and then just laid it
on the area steps and ran away. And Jim saw him; and he picked up the
gingerbread, and broke it by throwing it on the sidewalk, and then
threw the pieces at the tramp; and one hit him, and it was so hard it
seemed to hurt him, but he just ran all the faster."

From that time, more than a year since, I had forsworn all manner of
cooking, but now it seemed to me that the exigencies of the case
required me to turn my thoughts to the matter; hence, when it was
proposed, I had been only too ready to join the cooking-class.

The lady who had, from pure love of her kind, and a special interest in
young girls, undertaken to superintend and direct our efforts, was an
old friend of my mother and aunt Emily; the dearest, the sweetest, the
most guileless, of maiden ladies, with a simplicity and lack of worldly
knowledge which were almost childlike, but very talented, and with a
mind intelligent and cultivated to an unusual degree.

She was also famous among us for all kinds of handiwork,--for the
delicious cakes, soups, and all manner of dishes which she could
concoct; for her painting and drawing, and her exquisite and original
fancy-work. Simple, although delicate, in her tastes, her personal
wants were but few; and being possessed of a small income, which placed
her beyond the need of employing her varied talents on her own behalf,
she delighted in turning them to account for others. She stood
singularly alone, with no direct family ties or responsibilities; and
probably no human being but herself ever knew the amount of work
accomplished by those slender, high-bred looking hands for the benefit
and delight of others. The beautiful paintings and embroideries which
she sent to the various societies for art work, and which were always
accepted without demur, meeting as they did with an ever ready sale,
brought their profits, not to her, but to others less gifted and more
needy than herself. And many a dainty trifle wrought by her graced some
sick-room, or home of straitened means, where there was neither time
nor talent to be given for such adornment.

Careless as to the prevailing mode, although exceedingly neat about her
own personal attire, she was somewhat quaint and old-fashioned in
appearance; at least, she had been until a short time since, when Milly
and I, with Bessie Sandford, who was also a distant relation of Miss
Craven's, had taken her in hand, and by dint of a little teasing, and
much persistence and coaxing, had induced her to submit herself to our
dictation in the matter of dress. But she could not, quite yet,
reconcile herself to our requirements; at least, not without a little
flutter and protest against such innovations as we insisted
upon,--against tied-back skirts, hair a little more in the fashion than
she had been accustomed to wear hers, and collars and fichus of a more
modern date:

Hearing, the dear soul, that certain of our circle of girls were
anxious to attain some practical knowledge of cooking, and to attach to
the acquisition of that knowledge such "fun" as we might, she had
offered, when applied to for certain of her receipts, to instruct the
class which we were desirous of forming. The offer was eagerly seized
upon, and so it came to pass that she had been installed as teacher and
director of the mysteries in which we were about to dabble.

Miss Craven,--"cousin Serena," as we always called her--had been one of
the warmest advocates of Milly's cause, when that young woman was
intent on taking upon herself the charge of Bill and Jim; and, had
Milly not been allowed to do so, I think that she would have undertaken
it herself. She was continually making little gifts to these boys, not
always, it is true, just adapted to their needs or to their fancies;
but they had the grace, rough as their antecedents had been, to
appreciate the kindness which prompted them; and their room in the
stable was decked with many a little bit of ornamentation bestowed by
her. For one of her pet theories was, that one could educate the masses
to a refining love of art, if one only kept such elevating influences
constantly before them.

The first meeting of the cooking-class was held at our house. Most of
the girls were content to try their hands on this occasion on some
simple dish; but I--more ambitious, and also for excellent reasons of
my own--had determined to provide a certain delicate and highly
flavored cream. In order that there might be no failure in this, and
that I might, by an unqualified success, retrieve my reputation, I
surreptitiously sought in advance two or three private lessons from
Miss Craven. These she was only too ready to give; and after practising
at home, closely following her directions, and assisted by old Thomas,
who was almost as anxious for my triumph as I was myself, I succeeded
in turning out my cream, pure, rich, white, just the right consistency,
and deliciously flavored. It was but a small quantity, however; just a
trial sample, not enough for family distribution; and, calling Allie
and Daisy to the secret session which Thomas and I were holding in the
butler's pantry, I divided the luscious morsel between them, exacting,
first, the most solemn promise of secrecy. Allie demurred to this at
first, having conscientious scruples about keeping any thing from
mother; but she was finally persuaded to look upon it as a preparation
for an agreeable surprise, as I assured her that this was only the
prelude to a more extensive treat to the whole family, as well as the
class. Moreover, the sight of the dainty, and Daisy's enjoyment of it,
were too much for her, she having rather a leaning towards the
flesh-pots.

I was quite uplifted in my own estimation for the next twenty-four
hours or so, and pleased myself mightily with the thought of out-doing
all the other girls with my dainty, luscious dish. Allie and Daisy
could be trusted "not to tell," when they had once given their promise;
but they went about with a portentous aspect of having a secret, which
almost made me regret that I had taken them into my confidence.

It being leap-year, and our advantages, or possibly disadvantages, in
connection with that period being about to come to an end with the
close of the year, we had determined upon making the most of them.
Hence our guests, when they should arrive, were to submit to be waited
upon, and to receive such attentions as they were accustomed to bestow
upon us.

The day and the hour had arrived, and the members of the class, each
one with an enormous protecting apron over her pretty dress, had
assembled in our front basement, which, being convenient to the kitchen
and store-room, had been chosen as the workshop for the occasion. Each
was intent on her own dish, and each in her turn was superintended and
overlooked by cousin Serena; but merry talk and laughter held their
own, in spite of business.

"What are you making, Amy?" asked Mollie Morgan. "How delicious and
creamy that looks, and how readily you go to work about it. Why, I
thought you were no cook at all; but one would think you had been doing
that all your life. What is it?" she repeated, as I cast a guilty,
deprecating look at Miss Craven. But cousin Serena had no thought of
betraying me, and, although she must have heard, paid no attention to
Mollie's remarks.

"It's food for the gods," I answered carelessly, as I tossed the
luscious compound about with a spoon.

"Do you mean that is the name, or that it is your opinion that it is
worthy to be food for the gods?" asked Bessie Sanford, who paused at my
elbow, bearing in her hands a tray of delicate sponge-cakes.

"Both," I answered.

"Amy is ambitious; see what she is making, girls," said Mollie; and
several, gathering round, peered at the diet of the gods with, as I
imagined, envy and admiration.

"There!" I said, triumphantly, and as though I were a _cordon bleu_,
accustomed to turn off feasts for an emperor--"There, now it is ready
to go into the moulds. Oh, no, I have forgotten the flavoring. Jim,"
for the boy was there to wait upon us, and to run upon errands--"Jim,
go and ask Mary Jane for a bottle of vanilla flavoring."

Now, I might have known better than to send Jim on this errand, for
between him and Mary Jane there was a state of warfare, due, I must
say, to her ill-temper and prejudice. Formerly it had been productive
of much annoyance and discomfort to the household, and had at last
reached such a climax, that father, who never interfered in domestic
details, had unexpectedly taken the matter in hand, and given the old
woman such a warning, that she had not since that time dared to give
open vent to her dislike. But the fires, though smouldering, still were
alive; and Jim never cared to ask her for any thing, or to carry a
message to her.

However, now he ran into the kitchen, and presently returned with a
bottle which he handed to me. Glancing at it, I saw that it was
properly labelled, and I flavored with the contents according to
directions; and, nothing doubting, then called upon cousin Serena to
stamp it with her approbation, which she did. After which I poured the
mixture into the moulds, and set it away.

Fairly well satisfied with the results of our afternoon's work, we
removed such traces of it as had left their impress, took a short rest,
and were ready in due time to receive our leap-year guests.

We were to have a high tea; the rest of our family, with cousin Serena,
dining at an earlier hour than usual to accommodate us, and taking
their later repast in the library.

There was naturally much fun and jollity over the reversal of the usual
order of things, and we carried out our programme to the farthest;
while our gentlemen displayed a degree of inefficiency and helplessness
which would have disgraced a six-year-old girl with a moderate amount
of sense.

All went well during the earlier part of the feast. Dish after dish was
partaken of, and commended; and there was a universal chorus of
approval for the fair cooks.

"It is going to pass off without a failure," I said to myself,
recalling triumphantly the scepticism as to our capabilities, which
some of our friends had testified.

And now appeared, in its turn, my own dish,--the "food for the
gods,"--brought by Thomas and his assistants, with a little extra
flourish as the work of their own young lady.

We were in groups of four, at little tables placed about the room; and
the gentlemen, as had been arranged, were helped first to each course.
Happening to raise my eyes to address the youth upon my right hand, I
saw his countenance suddenly distorted by a contortion expressive of
any thing but pleasure. Turning involuntarily to my left-hand neighbor,
who happened to be Mr. Winston, I saw a grimace, almost similar, pass
over his face, followed by a look of blank astonishment at me.

Then came the voice of my brother Edward from an adjoining table, as he
sat with uplifted spoon, gazing down upon the contents of his plate.

"Amy," he said, "what under the heavens is this?"

"Food for the gods," I answered, startled and dismayed; for I could not
help seeing that something must be very wrong to betray Edward into
such a breach of etiquette.

"Then we will not deprive the gods of it," said my brother; "and may
the celestial--or was it for the infernal deities that it was
compounded?--forgive you for inflicting this upon them. Winston, spare
yourself, my dear fellow; the utmost stretch of politeness could not
demand such a sacrifice of you."

For Fred Winston, true gentleman and loyal knight that he was, was
making the most heroic efforts to swallow a little more of my
handiwork.

And this from Edward, usually the most chivalrous of brothers!

I glanced around the room, and saw a similar state of affairs on every
side. All those who had been unfortunate enough to taste the "food for
the gods" wore a more or less distressed expression. I plunged my own
spoon into my plate, and carried it to my mouth.

Pah! Any thing more nauseous I had seldom tasted. The gods were indeed
to be pitied!

I covered my face with my hands as a laugh pealed around the room; and
Norman came dashing into it, and up to me.

"Amy," he said, in a loud whisper which could be heard by all, "mother
says don't let any one touch that stuff of yours. It's awful!"

"Awful" indeed! But it was too late; enough tasting had been done to
cover me, as I felt, with everlasting disgrace.

"Amy was so awfully cock-a-hoop about her new dish, too," began Norman;
"and now----"

But his brotherly remarks were cut short by my left-hand neighbor, with
an intimation, that, if he had any regard for his physical or mental
well-being, he would at least postpone them.

Overcome with mortification and chagrin, I would fain have left the
room, not only to hide my diminished head, but also to consult cousin
Serena on the possible cause of this mishap, when Jim came up to me,
and said, in an aside even louder than Norman's,--

"Miss Amy, it wouldn't poison none of 'em, would it?"

When Jim had any thing on his mind it must come out, regardless of time
or place; and there was that in the boy's tone and manner which
instantly convinced me that he knew more than appeared on the surface,
and I turned hastily to him:--

"Poison any one? Why should it?" I asked.

"It's the liniment, Miss Amy," he answered nervously; "an', if they was
poisoned, me or you might be took up. We'd best have a doctor, maybe."

Matters were growing serious; and springing from my seat, without
apology to my guests, I bade the boy come into Thomas's pantry. Thither
I was followed by Fred and Edward, who heard the confession of the
frightened lad.

"It's the liniment, Miss Amy," he repeated. "Mary Jane's liniment for
her rheumatics; but I think it ought to be her to be took up more than
you an' me."

"Speak out, boy, and tell us what you mean," said Edward, imperatively;
for he felt, that, if there was any reason for Jim's alarm, there was
no time to be lost.

Thus pressed, Jim said that when I had sent him for the flavoring, he
had caught up a bottle which he supposed to be the right one, and ran
back without consulting the old cook.

Nothing doubting, I had made use of the contents; and he had possessed
his soul in peace until a few minutes since, when Thomas had sent him
on an errand to the kitchen, and he had heard Mary Jane bewailing the
loss of her bottle of "rheumatiz liniment." She at once charged him
with hiding it to torment her, but, before he could defend himself, one
of the other servants asked what kind of a bottle it was; to which she
replied, that it was a vanilla-bottle into which she had emptied the
liniment, as that in which the lotion belonged had been cracked, and
that she had stood it "just there."

A horrible conviction rushed upon Jim: "just there" was the place from
which he had taken the bottle he brought to me. He dashed into the
front basement, found there the bottle in question, and speedily
verified his own fears; then hurried up-stairs to prevent Thomas from
taking in the "food for the gods." Alas! it was too late: the dish was
already dispensed, a due portion having also been sent in to the
tea-table in the library; and my disgrace was an accomplished fact.

Dread of the after consequences now took possession of Jim, and this
impelled him to an immediate disclosure of the mistake. Indeed, none of
us were without our misgivings; and Edward, sending for the bottle,
went with it at once to our family physician, who lived but a few doors
from us.

Dr. Graham laughed heartily when he heard of the mishap, and told
Edward that there was no cause for alarm; as, although he would not
advise unlimited indulgence in the lotion as a beverage, such harmful
qualities as its ingredients possessed would be reduced to a minimum
when mixed in the proportion Edward mentioned with the other articles
of which the "food for the gods" was compounded.

So the matter became a joke to every one but me and the old cook, who
received a severe reprimand for her carelessness in putting the
liniment in an improper receptacle, and then leaving it in an improper
place.

Thus ended my attempt at culinary distinction; a regard for the
well-being of my friends and even for their lives, inducing me to quit
the field without further trial of my powers.

What a long tale about a foolish mistake, it may be said; but, as
"great events from little causes spring," the results of that mistake
were vast and far-reaching, and we had not yet heard the last of the
"food for the gods."



CHAPTER V.

THE "MORNING BUGLE."


"Look at this disconsolate pair; melancholy has evidently marked them
for her own," said Bessie Sanford, as she and I crossed the corner of
the square, bound for an afternoon walk; aimless, except in the search
for fresh air and exercise.

The "disconsolate pair" were my little sisters, Allie and Daisy, who
now approached, trundling their dolls' perambulators in front of them,
and followed by mammy, who came limping after, also wearing a most
lugubrious expression; but whereas their distress was plainly mental,
her's was physical, drawn forth by pain.

"Old mammy has an attack of her pet bunion," I said, "and I suppose
that the children are, in consequence, debarred from their walk, and
they have but just come out. Poor little things! What do you say,
Bessie, to taking them with us? They would be enchanted."

"So should I. By all means let us take them," answered Bessie, who had
a love for children and their company, only second to my own.

"O, sister Amy!" cried both the little ones, dropping the
perambulators, and rushing up to us as soon as their eyes fell upon us,
"Mammy's bunion hurts so, she can't take us to walk, and it's such a
lovely day, and we want to go Jim's peanut-stand."

And the ever ready tears rushed to the eyes of Allie, who was prone to
weep upon slight provocation; and even Daisy, who was more
philosophical, though younger, looked heart-broken.

Sunshine speedily succeeded the showers, however, for my proposal that
they should accompany us was received with rapture; and, taking their
dolls into their arms, they abandoned the perambulators to the care of
mammy, who hobbled towards home with them. This bunion was mammy's
choice grievance, and she doubtless suffered much from it; but it was
an article of the family faith, that, when for any reason she was
disinclined to take her walks abroad with the children, the bunion
sympathized with this reluctance, and crippled her to an unusual
extent.

"And where do you want to go?" I asked of the beaming pair, who were
now hanging, the one on Bessie's arm, the other on mine. "Bessie and I
do not much care which way we go."

"Oh," said Daisy, ecstatically, "if you would only take us to Jim's
peanut-stand! Mother said we might go, and then mammy couldn't take
us."

"It's not fash'nable, but it's very respectable, Amy," said Allie,
impressively.

"But we cannot go to a peanut-stand, even though it belongs to Jim," I
expostulated.

"But it's not in the street; it's--you know Johnny, the flower-man,
sister?" said Allie.

"Johnny the flower-man" was a German florist on a small scale, who had
a little glass-enclosed stand on the corner of the avenue next to that
on which we lived, and who was extensively patronized by our family and
many of our neighbors. His box of a place, cosey, warm, and fragrant,
was a favorite resort of our children; and much of their pocket-money
went to the purchase of the potted plants and cut flowers which he sold
to them at a wonderfully reasonable rate. But what had the little
German to do with Jim and his peanut-stand? Allie soon enlightened us.

"Jim was going to have the stand on that corner," she said, "and he had
leave to do it; but mamma and aunt Emily said it would not do for Tony
and Matty to sit out of doors in the cold weather; it would kill Matty,
they said. And Jim was so disappointed, and he didn't know what to do;
and one day when sister Milly sent him to Johnny's, he told him about
it, and about Tony and Matty; and that lovely old Johnny,--Daisy and I
ask God to bless him every night when we've done our own people,--he
told Jim he could have a little corner of his store where it was all
glass, and the stand could be seen from the street; and then Matty
could sit there, and people would come in and buy her peanuts. Wasn't
it good in him? We love Johnny, if he does squint, and smell of
tobacco, and can't talk very plain."

"And then," said Daisy, taking up the tale in her turn, as Allie paused
for breath, "and then there wasn't room there for the roaster, 'cause
it's pretty squeezed up in Matty's corner, and in Johnny's store, too,
wif the stand there; so Johnny's wife, who lives just a little bit of a
way off, lets Tony have the roaster up in her room, and roast the
peanuts, and then he runs very quick wif 'em over to Matty, or, if it's
a nice, pleasant day, he has it put outside the door. But the smell of
the peanuts gets mixed up wif the smell of the flowers, and that isn't
so very nice."

"But Jim is making lots of money, he says," continued Allie; "'cause
most always when people come in to buy flowers, Johnny tells 'em they'd
better buy peanuts, too; and Jim printed a sign in German about peanuts
inside, and put the meaning in English beneath, and he says he thinks
he is doing a better business than if Matty sat outside. Norman and
Douglas buy lots, but," with a little sigh, "mother don't like Daisy
and me to eat peanuts. It would be a good way to do charity if she
would let us; but sometimes we buy some, and give them to the
servants."

Jim and his "peanut undertakin'," as Captain Yorke had called it, had,
in the press of other and greater interests, almost passed from my
mind, and I had made no inquiries about it lately; but, as visions of
numerous peanut-shells in the most unheard of places returned to my
recollection, I could not doubt the truth of Allie's assertion in
regard to my brothers.

While the children had been talking, we had been gradually walking on
towards the desired haven,--the corner where the German florist had his
tiny store; and presently we came to it. The little glass enclosure was
one mass of vivid green, and brilliant, glowing color; for Johnny was
remarkably successful in the treatment of his plants, and they always
wore a thrifty, healthy aspect, delightful to behold.

Without, just at the side of the door of entrance, hung the sign
described by Allie; and Daisy at once drew our attention to it.

The "German" legend ran thus:--

    "Goot rost benuts ish incite, nein sents a quoort.
                   Shtep in unt py."

The English translation followed:--

    "Good roost peanuts is inside, nine cents a quart.
                   Step in and by."

Bessie and I were inwardly amused, but did not let it appear to the
admiring children. Allie, however, had her own misgivings as to the
absolute correctness of the sign, and said, doubtfully,--

"I suppose the German must be all right, because Jim says that is the
way Johnny talks; but the English is not spelled quite right, is it,
sister Amy?"

"Not altogether," I answered; "but perhaps it attracts more attention
than it would do if it were quite correct, Allie, and that, you know,
is the object of a sign or notice."

"Yees," said Allie, doubtfully, lingering behind a moment to scan the
sign as I opened the door, and still inclined to criticise; "ye-es, but
somebody might laugh if it is not spelled quite right."

"That is of no consequence so long as it does not hurt business," I
said, shamelessly indifferent to the orthographical merits of the case.
"Come in, Allie, we must not keep the door open too long."

At the farthest end of the crowded little cubby-hole,--all the more
crowded, of course, for the accommodation which the good-hearted German
had afforded to Jim's beneficiaries,--sat the little deformed Matty,
behind her stand, on which were displayed a tempting pile of freshly
roasted peanuts, and various bright, new measures. Outside, on the
street, could be seen Tony, grinding away at his revolving roaster; for
the day was so exceptionally lovely, that there could be nothing in the
air to injure him, and he doubtless preferred its freshness, and the
brilliant sunshine, to the presumably dark and stuffy quarters of Mrs.
Johnny.

[Illustration: "AT THE FARTHEST END SAT THE LITTLE DEFORMED MATTY."
               _Page_ 96.]

Poor, poor Matty! Deformed, shrunken, and wizened, she was a painful
contrast to all the beauty and brightness surrounding her in the little
conservatory. Beyond the sympathy unavoidably drawn forth by her
helpless and crippled condition, there was absolutely nothing to
attract one toward her. She looked peevish and fretful, too, so far as
there was any expression in the dull, heavy face. Was it to be wondered
at? There had been but little of brightness in her young life; and as I
looked from her to my little sisters, our petted household darlings,
carefully guarded and shielded, so full of life and joyousness, so free
from all pain or care, my heart swelled with thankfulness, that to them
had been allotted no such fate, and with the desire to brighten the lot
of this little unfortunate.

It was not so with her brother Tony: he was the jolliest, most active
little cripple that ever hobbled round on one leg and a crutch. The
celerity of his movements was something surprising; his voice was merry
and cheery; and his ugly young face, despite the many hardships of his
lot, generally wore a smile.

Now and then he would be seen with his face pressed against the glass,
with a nod of good-fellowship to his sister or Johnny, or staring at
such customers as happened to be within; and, if these proved to be
Matty's patrons, he would watch the progress of the sale with great
interest. Then he would turn to his roaster, and work it violently for
a few moments, then be off to the curbstone or crossing, exchanging
some, probably not very choice, joke with some other street-gamin, or
the conductor or driver of a passing street-car.

The children, Allie and Daisy, made their investments while I was
taking these observations, and Bessie was purchasing cut-flowers from
the old German. She was a good German scholar, and delighted the heart
of the old man with the familiar language of the fatherland, which
flowed glibly from her tongue. The consequence was, that that politic
young woman left the florist's with three times the amount of flowers
that I had, although I had spent just twice as much money. But, then, I
could not speak German.

"I am going to take my flowers to cousin Serena," I said, after we had
left the florist's, and exchanged a word or two with jolly little Tony
as we passed. "Will you come and see her, Bessie?"

Bessie assented, and the two little ones were only too glad to
accompany us. A visit to cousin Serena was always a treat to them.

"And we will give her the peanuts we bought; she likes peanuts," said
Daisy, who, as well as Allie, had maintained a silence, quite unusual
with them, during several minutes.

"But we'd like her and all our people to understand," said Allie,
loftily, "that we buy peanuts because of Jim, and not at all because of
Matty. She's the most unchristianest child we ever saw; and I think her
soul is hunchback, too, just as well as herself."

I had seen that Matty had repelled the advances of the children, who
had wished to show her their dolls, and to be kind to her; and I
endeavored to soothe them, and excuse her, by telling them how much she
had to suffer, and how her disposition might have been spoiled by all
that she had undergone.

But my words made no impression; the children were not to be mollified.
Allie still wore an air of outraged and offended dignity; and Daisy not
only maintained that solemn silence, but she looked grieved and hurt.
Our little ones were not accustomed to be snubbed, and took it hard
when such an experience did befall them; but there was a preternatural
gravity about them now, which excited my wonder.

"Why, Daisy," exclaimed Bessie, suddenly, "what is the matter with your
cheek? It is all red and scratched. What have you been doing to
yourself?"

"She didn't do it to herself," said Allie, indignantly, and before
Daisy could speak. "We didn't want to tell tales; but, sister Amy and
cousin Bessie, I think you are not very _noticeable_, not to see
Daisy's cheek before this. We are very much disappointed in you."

We apologized humbly, saying that Daisy's broad felt hat had prevented
us from seeing the state of her cheek before this, and inquired more
minutely into the cause thereof.

With some reluctance the children told, that, while Bessie and I had
been making our purchases of flowers, they had, after buying their
peanuts, tried to make themselves agreeable to Matty; but she had
proved far from responsive, and would not even look at the beautiful
dolls which they proffered for her admiration. Believing that shyness
alone was the cause of this ungraciousness, and filled with pity for
her condition, Daisy had at last raised Matty's arm and placed her doll
within it, when the cripple suddenly turned upon her, and drew the
nails of the disengaged hand viciously down poor little Daisy's soft
cheek, while, with the other, she threw the doll from her. Fortunately,
the doll was not hurt; but the insult to her cherished darling had
grieved Daisy more deeply than did the injury to herself. She had
heroically refrained from crying out, or making any complaint, lest
Johnny should be moved to espouse her cause, and avenge it on Matty;
but it had gone to her heart, and to Allie's as well, that, after such
forbearance, neither Bessie nor I should have noticed her plight.
However, we made up for it now by an outburst of indignation and
resentment, especially violent on my part; whereupon, the sage Allie
turned my own moral lecture, so lately delivered, upon myself,
recalling my exhortations to the effect that we should be patient and
forgiving with one so sorely afflicted as Matty Blair.

When we reached cousin Serena's, a little arnica and some French
bonbons healed Daisy's wounds, both mental and physical; but when
happiness and peace were once more restored, and she was seated upon
Miss Craven's lap, with Allie beside her, and the box of chocolates
between them, cousin Serena herself was discovered to be in a state of
no small flutter and excitement.

"My dears," she said, "have you seen the 'Morning Bugle' of to-day?"

"No," I said, emphatically. "Father would not allow that paper to come
into our house."

"Nor would my father," said Bessie.

"He says it is a scandalous sheet," I added. "He would not have it if
there were not another newspaper in the city."

"Nor would I in my own house," said Miss Craven; "but," apologetically,
"when one is in a boarding-house, my loves, you know one cannot control
other people."

"I should think not," said Bessie. "It would be hard, indeed, if you
were held responsible for the morals, or the literary tastes, of Mrs.
Dutton's other boarders."

"But you dearest of Serenas," I said, "you know you need not read the
'Morning Bugle' because some of the other people in the house take it.
O Serena, Serena," reproachfully, "I thought better things of you! That
_you_ should allow your mind and morals to be poisoned in that way!"

"My dear Amy! My dear children!" exclaimed the dear, matter-of-fact old
lady, who never knew when she was being teased, which made it all the
more delightful to tease her. "My dear loves, you do not think I read
that scandalous sheet! Why, this morning I should have said that
nothing would induce me to touch it; but when Mrs. Dutton came up with
the paper in her hand, and said, 'Is not this meant for your friends?'
what could I do? I had to take it, and read the paragraph; and, my
dears, here it is. Oh, I have been so unhappy all day about it! What
will your father and brother do? Mrs. Dutton let me cut this out, when
she saw how I felt about it."

I took the scrap of paper which she handed to me; and the blood rushed
to my heart, as I read an item with the following heading:--


"A MADISON-SQUARE SENSATION."

It was a garbled and scurrilous account of the late little incident at
our house, implying, indeed openly asserting, that there had been a
wholesale attempt at poisoning. Names were not given, not even the
initials under which the reporters of such gossip often pretend to
disguise publicity, and in a measure avoid responsibility; but, to the
initiated, there could be no doubt that the paragraph referred to my
unlucky cookery. Further particulars, it was said, would be given at a
later date, although it was difficult to obtain information, as the
parties concerned had endeavored to hush up the matter; and "money is a
power in this community."

I turned faint and giddy as I read; while Bessie, who looked over my
shoulder, burst into a tempest of indignant exclamation.

"Dear child! Don't turn so white, Amy, my dear; I am so sorry I showed
it to you," cried Miss Craven, aghast at my alarm and agitation. "It is
outrageous, scandalous; but it cannot hurt you: you see no names are
given. But I shall never forgive myself, for I told Mrs. Dutton about
the 'food for the gods'. She was interested, you know, when you were
here with me learning to make it, and asked me how it turned out. But
she is discretion itself; she would not say a word, nor let any one
know--Oh! my dear child, what shall I do? What shall we all do?"

But the vivid imagination with which I was credited by my friends, and
which not unseldom did cause me many a needless foreboding, was rampant
now; and visions arose before me of disgrace to the family, if those
dreadful newspaper people did, as they threatened, "give further
particulars," and perhaps go to greater lengths, and even print my name
in their horrible sheet. Should I ever be able to hold up my head
again? I sat in dumb, terrified astonishment.

But here, Bessie, with her practical common sense, came to the front,
and brought me back to reason.

"So that is the way you meant to make such a success of your 'food for
the gods,' is it, you fraud?" she said, putting her hands on my
shoulders, and playfully shaking me, "coming here and practising with
cousin Serena, forsooth; and the rest of us experimenting with our
first efforts. O Amy, Amy, I would not have believed it of you. And the
gods themselves turned against you. Their mills did grind exceeding
sure that time, and not so slowly, either; vengeance followed, swift
and sure. You deserve this. Cheating play never prospers, Amy; and
'honesty is the best policy,' and all that."

Meanwhile, the children were gazing from one to another of their
elders, not knowing what to make of all this,--Allie uncertain whether
or no she had better call upon her ever ready tears, Daisy bewildered,
and at a loss to know upon whom to bestow her sympathy, cousin Serena
or me; for I had not yet put my miserable imaginings into words, and my
startled looks alone appealed to her; while Miss Craven was in a
half-frantic state of excitement; and, as for Bessie, she had at first
appeared furiously angry, and now, with a sudden change, was turning
the whole thing into a laugh. What could it all be about? wondered
these innocents.

"Oh," I gasped at last, "what shall we do? What will papa say? What
will uncle Rutherford say? What will Edward say? What will----"

"Yes, my dear, what will Fred say?" Bessie completed my unfinished
sentence, as I paused, overwhelmed. "They will each and every man of
them settle this matter, to the anguish of that editor, if I know them,
and without one word of trouble or publicity to you, or any one of the
family. You dear goose, you, to make such a personal matter of it. Why
not, Jim; why not still more, Mary Jane?"

"I must go home," I said, feeling a burning desire to find at once my
natural protectors, and to place the matter in their hands; and go I
would and did, cousin Serena accompanying me, with Bessie and the
children. We paused by the way, to knock at Mrs. Dutton's door, and to
ask her if she had called the attention of any of the other boarders to
that shameful paragraph.

Mrs. Dutton, motherly, gentle, refined, a lady in birth, education, and
manner, and with a warm corner in her heart for the girls, big and
little, who ran in and out on their visits to Miss Craven, assured us
that she had not done so; and, in answer to my anxious inquiries, said,
also, that she had never mentioned the incident of the "food for the
gods" to any one.

It is not necessary to state, that my mankind were incensed when they
saw the objectionable paragraph, although they did make light before me
of my terrors and apprehensions; and it remained a fact, that Edward
went at once to a friend and brother lawyer, to request him to take
steps to prevent any further annoyance or developments in the matter.
It so happened, said this gentleman, that he had a hold upon the editor
of the "Morning Bugle," which that personage would be very sorry to
have him use to his disadvantage; and he assured Edward that he would
settle the affair in such a way that none of us need fear any future
trouble or publicity.

How the thing had become known so as to afford matter for newspaper
gossip, we could not tell, and did not much care to know; probably,
through the talk of the servants, who had, of course, been acquainted
with all the particulars of the unfortunate incident. Exaggeration, and
a wilful desire to falsify a trifle to the discredit of those concerned
had done the rest; but our lawyer friend's remedy proved effectual, and
the "Morning Bugle" was silenced.



CHAPTER VI.

UNCLE RUTHERFORD'S PRIZE.


Uncle Rutherford, the most generous, the most benevolent, of men, had,
nevertheless, the most exasperating way of carrying out his kindnesses.
He would suggest or hint at something delightful, and which just met
the views or desires of his hearers, dwell upon it for a time, then,
after leading one to the very height of expectation, would apparently
put the matter entirely from his thoughts, and for days, weeks, or
months, nothing further would be heard of it.

To urge its fulfilment, or to endeavor to discover what his intentions
might be, was never productive of any good; on the contrary, his
intimates believed that this still further deferred the wished-for
result. Even aunt Emily, his much beloved and trusted wife, had learned
to possess her soul in patience, when he was supposed to be revolving
any thing of this nature in his mind.

The question of Jim's future had never been alluded to by him since
that day last September, when it had been discussed at our seaside-home;
and now it was nearly Christmas, and Milly was on tenter-hooks to know
if there was any thing favorable in store for her _protégé_. She knew
better, as I have said, than to hurry matters, or to ask any questions.
That uncle Rutherford had not forgotten it, however, was evident from
the way in which he watched, and apparently studied, the boy's ways and
character; Jim all the while quite unconscious of such scrutiny.

"Milly," he said, on the evening of the day following that of the
episode of the "Morning Bugle,"--"Milly, I see that boy Jim has a
temper which needs some curbing."

Now, "a temper" was uncle Rutherford's _bête noir_, albeit his own was
not of the most placid type, and that it was liable to be roused to
what he called "just indignation," on that which to others appeared
small provocation. The flash was always momentary, but it was severe
while it lasted; and it had ever been a cross and a stumbling-block to
him, spite of the polite name by which he called its manifestations. It
was probably the recollection of the trouble it had brought to him, and
of the struggles which even now it cost him, an elderly man, which made
him so intolerant of its existence in others, especially the young. It
is not necessary for the reader to quote the oft-repeated proverb about
dwellers in glass houses, for uncle Rutherford was perfectly conscious
of the exceeding fragility of his own panes; and his only wish was to
warn and help those who were cursed with a fiery, impetuous spirit like
his own.

That Jim was a victim to this, no one could deny, and Milly did not
attempt to dispute it now; she merely assented meekly, and acknowledged
that Thomas and Bill were constantly rescuing him from street-fights,
and other escapades of that nature. And there were times when, in some
of his rages with his fellow-servants, the raised tones of his furious
voice had penetrated to the upper regions, and called for interference
from the higher powers; but these occasions were becoming more and more
rare. His devotion and loyalty to Milly and the other members of the
family who had befriended him were not infrequently the occasion of
these outbursts; for, at the smallest real or fancied injury or slight
to any one among us, he was up in arms, and his tongue and his fists
were only too ready to avenge us. He was very impatient, too, of any
allusion by others to his own origin, or to the state of degradation
from which Milly had rescued him and Bill, although he would discuss it
more or less freely with her, and with his boon companion and chum.

"What has Jim been doing now, uncle?" asked Milly; her hopes for the
advancement of the boy through uncle Rutherford's means falling, as she
wondered if he were noticing only to find out the flaws in a by no
means faultless character.

"Just that; been in a street-fight, or what would have proved a
street-fight, if I had not come upon the scene just in time to call him
to his senses, and to order him into the house instanter," said our
uncle; "and, from what I could learn, he attacked a boy much larger
than himself, on very small provocation,--merely, that the boy disputed
his claim to the name of Livingstone, by which it appears he chooses to
dub himself."

"He does not know his own name," said Milly, apologetically.

"That is no reason that he should call himself by yours," rejoined
uncle Rutherford.

"It is something of the old feeling of feudal times, or that which used
to make our Southern slaves adopt the surnames of their masters, I
think," said Edward. "Jim thinks that 'them as belongs to Livingstones
ought to be called Livingstone.'"

"Captain Yorke proposed to him to take his," said I, "but Jim declined,
on the ground that Yorke was not so nice a name as Livingstone for the
'President of these States.' He has it in his heart, too, to confer
honor upon our family name by the reflected glories of the position to
which he aspires."

"The boy's spirit of gratitude and appreciation, at least, are worthy
of all credit," said aunt Emily.

"And, whatever he may owe to Milly and the family, he has already
repaid the debt with interest," said mother; her thoughts, doubtless,
recurring to Jim's heroic rescue of the youngling of her flock--her
baby Daisy--from a frightful death; to say nothing of his sturdy
fidelity to the welfare of our household and property under
circumstances of great temptation and fear during the last summer.

"I had thought," said uncle Rutherford, slowly, and Milly's face
lighted up; was it coming at last? "I had thought, if you judged well
of it," turning to mother, "of having him go to the public
grammar-school for this year, and there to test his capabilities, not
only in the way of learning, but even more in his power and desire to
control this temper of his. If he gives satisfaction, and proves
himself worthy of it, let him continue at school until he is fitted for
it, when I will give him a scholarship which I own in the School of
Mines. At present it is filled, but will fall vacant about the time
that Jim will be ready to take it. There is another boy on whom I have
my eye, who has the same bent for a calling that Jim has, and whom I
wish to befriend and help; but he, too, has faults which I hope to see
him correct,--faults in some respects more serious than Jim's,--and the
prize will lie between these two. Whoever proves himself most worthy
and capable, the most steady, reliable, and best master of himself,
shall take the scholarship. But, if Jim goes regularly to school, he
will, of course, have to resign, in a great measure, his duties as a
household servant. Are you willing to have him do this? For I do not
wish or intend to inconvenience you. What is your opinion of the whole
matter?"

"Ask Milly," said mother, "she is the arbitress of his fate."

And uncle Rutherford looked to that young damsel.

"What say you, Milly?"

There was little need of words. Milly's sparkling eyes and flushed
cheeks spoke for her. This was so much beyond any thing she had hoped
for on behalf of the boy, that at first it seemed to her almost too
good to be true. And, yet, there were lions in the way. And, after a
moment's consideration, she answered, somewhat hesitatingly,--

"I hardly know what to say, sir."

We all looked in astonishment. Most of the family thought that Milly's
hopes and ideas for the future of her _protégés_ were rather quixotic
and unreasonable, aiming at taking them out of their proper sphere. But
here her clear judgment and good sense saw some objections to uncle
Rutherford's plan.

"You are very kind, more than kind, uncle," she continued. "Such an
offer is, indeed, a 'chance' for Jim such as I had never dreamed of,
and there could be no question between this, and his training as a
household servant; but I fear for the effect of the emulation upon him.
If he is to gain this prize by outstripping or defeating another, the
spirit of victory for victory's sake will take possession of him, and
he will make every thing give way to it."

"Then he will not prove himself worthy of the prize," said uncle
Rutherford, who had a fancy for inciting young people to efforts of
this nature, and who was always holding out some prize to be striven
for.

"I don't know," said Milly, a little wistfully; "he is so impulsive, so
eager, so almost passionate, in the pursuit of any object on which he
has set his mind, that I am afraid too much of the spirit of rivalry
will enter into his efforts to win this."

"And," put in Norman, "he will be so cock-a-hoop if he is set to study
for a scholarship, that there will be no bearing him, and----"

But Norman was brought to an abrupt silence, by a quick reprimand from
father; while uncle Rutherford took no notice of the interruption, but
continued to urge upon Milly the acceptance of his project. It
undoubtedly presented so many advantages for Jim, that these finally
outweighed her scruples, and she agreed thereto with earnest thanks.

"Who is the other fellow, uncle?" asked Norman the irrepressible, "any
one whom we know?"

"Yorke's eldest grandson," said uncle Rutherford.

"That sneak!" ejaculated Norman.

"So that is your opinion of him," said uncle, turning towards Norman.
"Well, I have not myself much confidence in the boy. There is something
about him which I do not like; he is not frank and outspoken. He is a
bright lad, however, ambitious, and disposed to make the most of any
opportunities which fall in his way; and, for old Yorke's sake, I would
like to help him. Yorke pinched and saved and denied himself, to give
that boy's father an education, and illy he was repaid by the graceless
scoundrel, who dissipated his father's hard-earned savings, and half
broke his heart, and that of his poor mother. The captain is building
on this boy's future, now; and, if he does not show himself fit for a
college course, he may, at least, when he has had sufficient schooling,
be taught a trade, and share the burden of the family support. We shall
see which will win the prize, Jim or Theodore."

Douglas began to laugh in his quiet way, but Norman spoke out again.

"Won't there be jolly rows, when those two come to be pitted against
one another," he said. "Either one will do his best to keep the other
from winning it, even if he don't care for it himself."

There was too much reason to believe that Norman's prophecy would prove
true. From the time that Theodore Yorke had appeared at his
grandfather's, a pronounced state of antagonism had declared itself
between the two boys; and this had continued up to the time of our
leaving the Point. Jim, who was a great favorite with the old captain
and his wife, seemed to look upon Theodore as an interloper, and
trespasser upon his preserves; and the latter at once resented the
familiar footing on which he found Jim established in his grandfather's
house, although he himself had never been there before, and had
hitherto been a stranger to all of his father's family.

It had required the exercise of the strictest authority to maintain any
thing like a semblance of peace during the remainder of our stay at the
seaside; and there were occasional outbreaks, which tended to any thing
but comfort to Captain Yorke's household. Our house and grounds were
forbidden to Theodore Yorke, in consequence of this feud; but Jim's
duties called him, at times, to the home of the old sailor, whence he
was accustomed to bring the daily supply of milk for the consumption of
the family, and where he had been wont to linger as long as he dared
when sent on this errand. More than once had he returned with a black
eye, cut lip, or other adornment of a warlike nature; and several
milk-pails had been degraded from things of usefulness, by reason of
being used as weapons of offence and defence.

And, although he knew all this, here was uncle Rutherford actually
setting up these two already belligerent lads as rivals in the race for
learning and character, with such a prize in the future to the winner.
His object would defeat itself. Was it to be supposed that tempers
would be controlled, that any little tendency to take advantage of an
enemy would be smothered, under these circumstances?

"Dear uncle," said Milly, whose face had fallen when she heard who was
to be the rival candidate, "Jim is my charge; and you will not think me
ungracious, if I say that I cannot consent to let him enter the lists
against Theodore Yorke. I know only too well that it would arouse all
his bad passions. As I said before, rivalry in any case would not be
best for him, but, against Theodore, it would be simply ruinous; and I
would rather see him remain under Thomas's tuition, learning to be a
thorough and efficient servant, and to control his temper because right
is right, than to have him take the first honors in any college in the
world, if these are to be purchased by the fostering of an envy and
jealousy which I am sure would be the result of your plan."

"Saint Millicent is right, as usual, when her brands snatched from the
burning are concerned," said father, putting his arm over her shoulder.
"I quite agree with her, Rutherford. We shall always see that both
those boys, Jim and Bill, are well provided for; and neither of them
shall lack for such an amount of education as may fit him to make his
way in some respectable calling. To Jim we owe a debt which far
outbalances the benefit he has received at our hands." And papa's eye
turned, with lingering tenderness, to the far corner of the room, where
Allie and Daisy, unconscious of the weighty matters which were being
discussed among their elders, were absorbed in happy play with dolls
and dog. "When he is old enough and steady enough, we will set him up
in some line of business which he may choose--eh, Milly?--that is, if
he shows any aptitude for a mercantile life; and he may work his way
thence to the Chief Magistracy, if he find the path which he imagines
lies open to him. As for Bill, he runs Wall Street, you know; and his
voice, and talent for music, would make _his_ way in the world. There
is something that must be cultivated."

"Do you mean, Millicent, that you are actually going to refuse my offer
for Jim?" said uncle Rutherford, in a tone of deep displeasure; for he
did not like to be circumvented when he had set his mind upon a thing,
especially if it chanced to be one of his philanthropic schemes. And
that same quick temper, which he had found his own bane, showed itself
now, in the flush which mounted to his brow, and the sudden flash which
shot from his eyes. "Then, my dear, all I have to say is----"

_That_ was all he had to say; and Milly escaped something which would
have hurt her feelings, and which uncle Rutherford himself would have
regretted when another moment should have passed, for aunt Emily laid
her hand upon his arm, half-whispering, as a noted imperial wife was
once wont to do to her impetuous and fiery lord, "Nicholas, Nicholas!"
and with a like, calming effect, for further words were arrested on his
lips.

There was a little awkward silence for a moment; then, as if by a
sudden inspiration, uncle Rutherford said pleasantly,--

"How absurd we all are! What need for either boy to know that he is a
rival to the other? Put the reward before each one, and tell him that
the winning of it depends upon himself, and then we shall see."

So, then, was it settled, to the satisfaction of all; uncle Rutherford,
it is true, a little disappointed that the stimulus of emulation was
not to enter into the contest; and the discussion was here brought to a
close by the appearance of Bill with a box of flowers "for Miss Amy."

But there was a factor in the case, upon which we had not counted.

In the privacy of their room over the stable, Bill and Jim held
converse that night; and this was the substance of their communing,
divested of unnecessary adornments of speech, with which those young
gentlemen were wont to garnish their conversation when removed from the
restraints of polite society.

"There's a big thing up for you, Jim," said Bill. "You'll hear of it
yourself soon, I guess, from Miss Milly or Mr. Rutherford; but I got
first word of it."

"What is it?" asked Jim.

"You're goin' to school; you and Theodore Yorke," said Bill.

"I ain't goin' to no school with Theodore Yorke," interrupted Jim.
"There ain't no school would hold me an' him."

"Yes, you are, if you know what's good for yourself," said Bill; "and
there's some kind of a big prize for whichever comes out best man."

"Then I'll go, if Miss Milly lets me; an' beat him, too, if it was just
for the sake of beatin'," said Jim, verifying the prophecy of his young
mistress. "But how do you know so much, an' what do you mean, Bill?"

"I didn't hear all they was sayin', and I s'pose I wasn't meant to hear
none of it," answered Bill. "It was all the fam'ly folks, 'cept the
children, was talkin'. Mr. Brady sent me to open the front-door when
the bell rang, and it was some flowers for Miss Amy; and, when I went
to the door with 'em, they was all talkin' so busy they didn't hear me
knock. I couldn't make out just what it all was; but you're to get
schoolin', you and Theodore, and whichever does the best is to get more
schoolin', and some prize at the end when the schoolin's done; but Miss
Milly, she didn't want you nor him to know you was fightin' for it,
'cause she didn't think 'twould be good for _you_. She thought you'd be
too set on it, maybe, just to spite Theodore. She knows him and you,
you see."

"Yes, she might ha' knowed I wouldn't let _him_ get the best of me,"
said Jim, viciously. "And you say I wasn't to be let know I was set on
to beat him."

"No, them was Miss Milly's orders; and I take it Mr. Rutherford didn't
like it too much," answered Bill. "He wanted you to know, and be set on
yer mettle. But Miss Milly, she's boss of _us_, you know, and she got
her own way. So, as I say, they ain't goin' to tell you nothin' about
Theodore."

"Then, maybe you oughtn't to ha' told me," said Jim, musingly. "I don't
believe you ought."

"I don't see the harm," said Bill. "I wasn't told not to tell; they
didn't know I heard."

"All the same," said Jim, "you oughtn't to ha' told, when Miss Milly
didn't want me to know. I am glad I do know, so as I can set out to
beat Theodore; and, Bill, this is goin' to give me a first-rate chance.
You see if I don't get to be President, now. An', when I do, you'll see
what'll be done to Theodore Yorke."

"What?" asked Bill.

"I don' know, I've got to think," answered Jim; "but jus' you wait till
I get to be top man of these States. Won't Theodore get it!"

"Miss Milly didn't want you to know, 'cause she thought you'd be so set
against him, and she thought you was bad enough that way a'ready," said
Bill.

"I feel kinder sneaky to know it when she didn't want me to," said Jim.
"I guess, after all, I'm sorry you tole me, Bill; you hadn't a right
to, I guess. You come by it yourself kinder listenin'."

Here the question of conscience and honor was broken in upon by the
coachman, who slept in an adjoining room, and who bade the boys cease
their chattering, as they disturbed him.

Uncle Rutherford had left to Milly the telling of his plans for Jim's
future; and the following morning she called the boy to her, and set
them forth before him.

He was to go to school this winter, beginning as soon as the Christmas
holidays were over. With many earnest warnings, she pressed upon him
the necessity for self-control, as well as attention to his studies;
telling him of the prize to be won if his course should prove
satisfactory to Mr. Rutherford, but making no mention, of course, of
the other candidate. He promised over and over again, that he would do
his very best to prove a credit to her, and to make her "awful proud"
of him in the future, and that she should have no cause for complaint,
either with his temper, or his lack of diligence.

That he was enchanted with the opportunity thus offered to him, there
could be no doubt, but he did not appear as much surprised as Milly
imagined that he would be; and there was something in his manner,
which, at the time, struck Milly as rather strange,--a something
repressed, as it were, but excited; and, all the while, there was a
gleam of mischief in his eye. In the light of later developments, the
cause of this was made plain; but now it was a mystery.

"And now, Jim," continued his young mistress, when she had told him of
all that lay within his grasp, and had added a gentle and persuasive
modicum of moral suasion,--"now that you are going out into the world
to make a way, it may be a name, for yourself, you must choose what
that name shall be. You remember," soothingly, for this was a sore
point with the boy,--"you remember that we know you only as Jim."

"It's Livin'stone, Jim--no, I mean James Rutherford Livin'stone," said
the boy, decidedly. "I'm goin' to put in the Rutherford on account of
Mr. Rutherford bein' so good to me, Miss Milly; an' won't you an' him
be set up when you see Rutherford Livin'stone names onto a President of
these States? I ain't never goin' to disgrace them names, that I
ain't."

But Milly, mindful of the prejudices of her relatives, and of the
objections which she foresaw from both sides of the family, found it
needful to decline the compliment. In order to avoid hurting the boy's
pride, however, she went about it most diplomatically.

"Do you not think, Jim," she said, "that it would be a good thing for
you to call yourself by the name of Washington, the first and greatest
of our Presidents?"

"Jim George Washington, Miss Milly?" answered the lad. "Well, that
would sound nice; but, you see, I wanted to put the compliment on
_you_, an' to show what lots of gratitude I've got for you an' your
folks, Miss Milly."

"The best compliment you could pay to me, and to my care for you, Jim,
would be to show yourself in any way worthy of bearing the name of that
great and good man," said Milly, non-plussed how to carry her point,
and still not to wound her charge. "And," she continued, "that name
might always prove a reminder to you of the truth and uprightness, the
bravery and self-control, which distinguished him."

"Miss Milly," Jim broke forth, irrelevantly, it would seem, "you know
Bill gets time for lots of readin' an' studyin' down at the office.
When Mr. Edward don't have any thin' for him to do, an' he might be
just loafin' round, he's doin' his 'rithmetic, or his jography or
spellin', an', if he wants a bit of help, Mr. Edward gives it to him,
if he ain't _too_ busy just then; so Bill, he's comin' on with his
learnin' heaps faster than me; he's gettin' splendid at figgers, an' he
reads the paper, too, on'y Mr. Edward, he don't like him to read the
murders an' the hangin's, and them _very_ interestin' things; but Bill
read the other day in the paper how a man said George Washington had a
big temper, an' could get as mad--as mad as any thin'. But Bill, he
said he'd heard Mr. Edward an' some other gentleman talkin' 'bout how
folks was always tryin' now to be upsettin' of hist'ry; an' Bill says
he reckons that 'bout George Washington was just another upsettin', an'
him an' me ain't goin' to believe it."

"That's right, Jim, keep your faith in Washington, and show that you do
so by adopting his name," said Milly.

Do not let it be thought that Milly slighted the Father of her country,
by thus turning over to him the "compliment" she declined for herself
and her family; for, in the multitude of namesakes who have helped to
perpetuate that illustrious memory, poor Jim could reflect but an
infinitesimal share of credit or discredit.

Jim pondered. The advantages of the world-renowned historic cognomen
were, doubtless, great. But the "compliment" to his friends! could he
defraud them of that?

Suddenly his face lighted; a brilliant idea had struck him. He could
combine both.

"Miss Milly," he said, "I'll tell you. Now, I'll be named James
Rutherford Livin'stone Washin'ton, an' stick to that till I get inter
President polyticks; then I'll put the Livin'stone last, James
Rutherford Washin'ton Livin'stone, so folks'll be sure I belong to you.
Bill says folks can change their names, if they has a mind to, when
they come twenty-one. Bill's learned lots of law down to Wall Street,
Miss Milly; he's up in it, I can tell you."

"Very well, that will be best," said Milly, content to defer to the
doubtful future the risk of having the family names appear in
"President polyticks;" and so it was arranged, and her charge prepared
to face the world as James Washington.



CHAPTER VII.

TWO PEANUT-VENDERS.


Allie stood before the glorious wood fire, around which we were all
gathered awaiting the summons to dinner, gazing intently into its
glowing depths, and evidently sunk in such deep meditation as to be
oblivious, for the moment, of her surroundings, and of what she was
doing; for her doll, a new and much prized Christmas-gift from uncle
Rutherford, and a beauty, hung disregarded, head downwards, in the hand
which had sunk unconsciously by her side, while, with the forefinger of
the other pressed upon her rosy little lips, she seemed to be pondering
some weighty matter.

Daisy lay stretched with her doll upon the tiger-skin, and presently,
looking up, roused Allie from her distraction.

"Why, Allie," she exclaimed, "what you finking about so much? Serena
Victoria is most upside down. Just look at her!"

Allie reversed her doll to its proper position; and, as she settled its
costume, gave Daisy her answer, by putting into words the thought which
was vexing the minds of some of her elders, but addressed herself to
me, as a kindred spirit.

"Amy, do you b'lieve Mrs. Yorke will be very fit-to-be-seen to take out
walking or driving on the avenue, or in the park?"

"Why, Allie," I said, weakly evading the question, and also answering
by another, "do you not think your friend Mrs. Yorke is always fit to
be seen?"

Still, Allie replied by a fresh query.

"Amy, have you seen Mrs. Yorke's best bonnet? her 'sabbath bonnet,' she
calls it." And she turned upon me large eyes, full of solemn meaning.

Yes, I had, indeed, seen Mrs. Yorke's "sabbath bonnet;" and it was the
recollection of that appalling article of attire which at the present
moment was weighing on my own spirits.

Here Daisy piped up, also giving voice to the sentiments of her
sisters.

"Mrs. Yorke is very nice," she said, "and we love her lots, but in her
Sunday clothes she don't seem like Mrs. Yorke."

It was even so. Mrs. Yorke in her every-day costume, and Mrs. Yorke in
gorgeous Sunday array, were two--and "oh the difference to me!"

"How do you know," said uncle Rutherford, "but that Santa Claus himself
may have taken the matter in hand? Mrs. Yorke's Sunday bonnet may not
have been to his taste, and he may have provided her with another."

"I hope, then," answered Allie, sceptically, "that he hasn't brought
her a brown felt with red feathers and a terra-cotta bow."

"That would not have improved matters much, would it?" asked uncle
Rutherford, with a twinkle in his eye. "No; I think his taste would run
to black, perhaps. What do you say, aunt Emily?"

"I should say his fancy would lie in a black felt, with black velvet
trimmings and feathers," answered aunt Emily. "How would that do,
Allie?"

"Very well," said Allie, "if he brought her a black dress, too, 'stead
of a' old plaid."

"And a new cloak, too," put in Daisy. "Her's isn't very pretty; I saw
it once; but I'd just as lieve have Mrs. Yorke anyhow she was."

The grammar might be childishly faulty, but the feeling of the speech
was without a flaw, and from the heart Daisy would have accepted Mrs.
Yorke as she was, and thought it no shame or embarrassment to escort
her anywhere; but bonny Allie was a lady of high degree, with an eye
for appearances and the proprieties, and Mrs. Yorke's antiquated and
incongruous gala costume would sorely have tried her soul, although she
would doubtless have borne her company with a good grace, and with no
outward show of the pangs she might be enduring. How greatly she was
relieved now could be judged by the laughing light which sparkled in
her eyes, the dimples which showed themselves at the corners of her
mouth, and the ecstatic way in which she hugged the long-suffering
doll.

"She'll be lovely and fit-to-be-seen now!" she exclaimed. "Won't she,
Daisy? She'll look just like mammy."

"But," said Daisy, doubtfully, unconscious of the knowing gaze which
her older little sister had fixed upon uncle Rutherford's face, a gaze
which he returned with interest--"but _did_ Santa Claus bring Mrs.
Yorke all those things, Allie?"

"Yes, he did; _a_ Santa Claus did; I'm perfectly sure he did," said
Allie. "But they didn't come in her stocking, or grow on a
Christmas-tree, either, _I_ know."

"I fink he was real mean if he brought her all those, and didn't bring
her a muff and some gloves and a' umbulla, too," said Daisy.

Before the laugh, which followed, had subsided, Thomas appeared at one
entrance to announce dinner, and mammy at the other to carry off her
charges. Full of the news they had to impart to her, of Santa Claus's
supposed benefactions to Mrs. Yorke, they went more willingly than
usual.

Yes, Christmas had come and gone,--Christmas with all its sacred,
hallowed associations, its pastimes and pleasures, its loving
remembrances and family gatherings; and never had a dearer and happier
one been passed beneath our roof. No, nor one more productive of choice
and beautiful gifts from each one to each; and the little ones had
outdone themselves for the blessed and beloved holiday.

And it was an article of the family creed, both on the Livingstone and
Rutherford sides, that the good things which had been so bountifully
showered upon our pathway in life should be shared with others,
especially at this season of peace and good-will. So it was no
surprise, although it was a great relief to some of us, to learn that
Mrs. Yorke had been made presentable for the visit to the city, which
would involve some attentions on our part that might have proved
embarrassing had she appeared in her wonted holiday costume. Mother and
aunt Emily had been the two good fairies who had wrought the
transformation through the medium of a Christmas-box, which had
contained bountiful gifts for the whole Yorke family.

And now Captain and Mrs. Yorke were to come to the city on the very
next day, accompanied by the--to Jim, at least--objectionable Theodore.
Mrs. Yorke, whose crippled condition sadly interfered with her comfort
and usefulness in life, was to be placed immediately under the care of
our own family physician, who had become interested in her case during
a visit paid to us at the seashore during the previous summer; and aunt
Emily had secured a comfortable abiding-place for her, not very far
from our own home, where the children, whom she adored, and mammy could
often run in to see her, and where the elder members of the family
could now and then pay her a visit. The captain was to remain with her,
or not, as his inclination might prompt; but uncle Rutherford thought,
that, the novelty of city sights and sounds once exhausted, the old man
would prefer to return to his accustomed haunts by the sea. Theodore
was to board with his grandparents, and to begin school with the New
Year; at the same time, and--alas! for the inexpediency of uncle
Rutherford's arrangements--in the same school, with Jim.

Such were the plans which had been made for the Yorkes, and the junior
portion of our household were in a state of eager expectation over
their approaching arrival; the desire to witness the old seaman's first
impressions of a city life, and his own conduct therein, being strong
within us.

"We'll give him a good time, and get lots of fun out of it for
ourselves," said Norman and Douglas, who proposed to be his pioneers.

As for Bill and Jim, there was no telling what manner of projects they
might have formed for his edification, and their own amusement and his;
and father considered it necessary to bid Milly give them a word of
warning not to practise on the credulity of the old sailor, as they had
at times been wont to do while we were at the seashore.

"And what about the mercantile enterprise of that youth, with so many
irons in the fire?" asked uncle Rutherford, when dinner was over, and
the door closed behind the retreating servants, while we still lingered
around the table; the little girls having been allowed to come down to
dessert. "How does the peanut-business flourish, Milly? You are posted,
I suppose."

"Not so thoroughly as Allie and Daisy," answered Milly. "I understand
that it is flourishing; but, if you wish for minute particulars, you
must apply to them."

Allie, hearing what was passing, forthwith dived into the depths of her
small pocket, and produced from thence a miniature account-book, saying
triumphantly as she did so,--

"Jim's sold the first bag of peanuts, and bought another, and then sold
that; and now he's bought _two_ at once, and"--opening the book, and
poring over it,--"and he's made--see, uncle Rutherford, here it is,"
and she pointed out a row of crooked, childish, illegible figures; to
be understood, doubtless, by the initiated, but Greek to uncle
Rutherford.

"How does the boy manage to keep account of his business?" asked uncle
Rutherford, returning the book to Allie, as wise as when she handed it
to him, but not confessing his ignorance.

"By preparing himself for a dyspeptic existence," said Milly. "He
swallows his meals in haste, Thomas says, and rushes from the table,
and around to the Fourth Avenue to receive Tony's report, and be back
in time for his work. Nor is he always quite in time, I imagine; but
Thomas is indulgent and patient, and Bill helps him. I understand that
the little cripples are really making fair sales, and Jim is reaping
quite a harvest."

"Yes, uncle Rutherford knows that by my 'count-book," said unsuspicious
Allie. "Read it aloud, please, uncle, so they can all hear."

"Hm--hm, yes, my dear; but I do not like to read aloud after dinner,"
said uncle Rutherford, still forbearing to enlighten her innocence.

"It isn't so _much_ reading," murmured Allie, rather hurt, for she
was an over-sensitive child, prone to imagine slights, and, as we know,
given to ready tears. "I'll tell you, people;" and she proceeded to
give the amount made by Jim since he had established the peanut-stand,
with its various divisions for the separate objects of his benevolence
and ambition. The latter figured under the head of "For to be
President;" and if her accounts, or, rather, Jim's as set down by her,
were to be trusted, he had really done very well in the stand business.

"We know two deforms," quoth Daisy, solemnly, as Allie closed; "one
deform is very nice and good, and the ofer is horrid and scratching.
One is Captain Yorke's, and the ofer is Jim's peanut-stand girl. But we
have to be good to the cross deform, 'cause God made her that way.
Allie and I are going to try and make her nice and pleasant, too."

"She thinks we're proud, and only like to go to see her, and show her
our nice dolls and things, to make her feel sorry," said Allie; "Tony
said so. And she turns her hump at us, and makes faces at us, and
_won't_ think we want to be good to her. She thinks we're proud at her,
'cause she has to sell peanuts."

"You go and sell peanuts, then, and show her you're not too proud to do
it," said Douglas, carelessly, and certainly with no thought that the
suggestion would ever be acted upon.

"We needn't to have been afraid about Mrs. Yorke's fit-to-be-seenedness,"
said Allie, hopping delightedly around on one foot, the day after the
arrival of the Yorkes, and on her return from her first visit to them.
"Why, she does look so nice; just as nice as mammy in her Sunday
clothes. She looks almost lady."

"Yes, she does, and it don't make any dif'ence, if she _behaves_ lady,"
said Daisy; "and I fink she always behaves _very_ lady. Mamma," with a
sudden and startling change of subject, "if somebody told you you could
do somefing to help somebody, oughtn't you to do it?"

"Yes, my darling, if you can," answered mother, rather oblivious, to
tell the truth, of the child's earnestness in putting the question; for
she was at the moment writing an answer to a note which had been just
brought in.

"And it's very nice to do the kind fing, and not speak about it, isn't
it?" questioned Daisy.

"Very, dear," answered mother, still only half hearing the little one,
and far from thinking that she was supposed to be giving her sanction
to a most unheard of proceeding.

Mrs. Yorke's attire and general appearance proved satisfactory even to
fastidious Miss Allie and myself; indeed, she would have passed muster
among any hundred elderly women of the respectable middle class; and
there was nothing whatever about her to attract special attention,
unless one turned again for a second look at the kind, motherly old
face. There was a sort of natural refinement about her, too, which made
her adapt herself with some ease to her unaccustomed surroundings.

As for the captain, he was a hopeless subject for those who had an eye
to fashion or the commonplace. No amount of attempts at smoothing or
trimming him down, no efforts at personal adornment in his case, could
make of him any thing but what he was, here in the great city, as well
as at his seaside home, the typical old sea-faring man, rough, hearty,
simple, and good-natured, garrulous to excess, as we had often proved,
and not to be polished, or made what he called "cityfied."

"'Tain't no sort of use whitewashin' the old hulk," he asserted; "an' I
guess my Sunday clo's, as is good enough for the Lord's meetin'-house
up to the Pint, is got to be good enough for these messed-up city
streets; an' ye can't make no bricky-bracky outer me."

To the boys he was a source of unmixed delight, both to our own young
brothers, and to the two servant-lads; and no care for the eyes or
comments of the world troubled any one of them when he happened to be
under their escort. And little Daisy was equally independent, or
perhaps too innocent to take any heed of such matters.

A feverish, influenza cold confined both Allie and mammy to the house
for a day or two soon after the arrival of the Yorkes in the city, and
Daisy was consequently obliged to be confided to the care of others
when she took her walks.

She had been out driving one afternoon with mother and aunt Emily; and
they, having an engagement for "a tea," to which they could not take
her, brought her home. At the foot of our front-steps stood Captain
Yorke, complacently basking in the almost April sunshine, and amusing
himself by gazing up and down the street, and across the park, on which
our house fronted. It was an exceptionally beautiful day for the time
of year, soft, balmy, and springlike.

"Ye won't git another like it to-morrer; two sich don't come together
this time o' year," said the captain, as mother, greeting him, remarked
on the loveliness of the weather. "Ye kin look out for a gale to close
out the year with, I reckon. There's mischief brewin' over yonder,"
pointing to where a bank of clouds lay low upon the southwestern
horizon. "Ye'd best take yer fill of bein' out doors to-day."

"Yes," said Daisy, pleadingly, "it's so nice and pleasant. Mamma,
couldn't some of the servants take me out a little more? I don't want
to go in yet."

"Leave her along of me, Mis' Livin'stone," said the old man. "Me an'
her'll take care of one another."

Daisy beamed at the proposition; and mother had not the heart to refuse
her, or the old sailor.

"Well," she said, "you may stay out a while with the captain; but only
on condition that you both promise not to go far from the house, but
remain either on the Square, or on this block. You see, captain," she
continued, "Daisy is too little to pilot you about, and you are too
much of a stranger in the city to be a guide for her beyond the
neighborhood of home. If you want to leave her, or she tires, just take
her to the door, and ring the bell for her. Or perhaps you will go in
yourself, and see Allie and mammy.--They cannot go astray or get into
any trouble so near home," she said to aunt Emily, when she had given
her orders, and the carriage moved on, leaving Daisy and the captain
standing side by side on the pavement, the little one with her tiny
hand clasped in the toil-worn palm of the veteran.

"Impossible!" said aunt Emily; "and the captain is as good as any
nurse, you know. I would quite as soon trust her with him as with
mammy."

But aunt Emily, and mother too, had forgotten to take into account the
captain's deficiency of a sense of the fitness of things,--at least, of
matters appertaining to a city-life.

He and Daisy rambled contentedly up and down the block, from one corner
to another, for some time, she prattling away to him, and enlightening
his ignorance so far as she was able, until, at last, they
unfortunately touched upon Jim's affairs.

"Let's go round an' buy some peanuts outer Jim's stand," said the
captain. "'Tain't far, ye know."

"No," answered obedient Daisy, "not far; but mamma said we mustn't go
way from sight of our house, fear we would be lost, and we'd be way
from sight of it if we went to Jim's peanut-stand. But, Captain Yorke,
Matty is cross wif Allie and me, 'cause she finks we're proud 'cause we
don't sell peanuts; and Douglas says I ought to sell peanuts, so she'll
know I'm not proud. Do you fink we could sell a few peanuts now? I know
where Jim keeps 'em."

"Wal, I reckon ye kin sell peanuts, my pretty, if ye have 'em to sell,"
answered the old man, seeing no reason why Daisy should not have her
own way, and perhaps scenting a little diversion for himself in the
project; "but if ye can't go round to t'other street, how are ye goin'
to get 'em?"

"Oh, Jim keeps 'em--his bags of peanuts--out in a pantry under our
back-stoop," said Daisy; "and ev'y morning Tony comes for some to sell.
We'll go in, and ask some of the servants to give us some, and then
we'll sell 'em."

If "some of the servants" had been found, this unprecedented plan would
have met with due interference; but it so happened, that they were all
scattered at their various avocations in different parts of the house,
and none were in the kitchen save old Mary Jane, to whom Daisy knew
better than to appeal on behalf of any interests of Jim's. She was busy
grinding coffee; and the noise of the mill prevented her from hearing
the footsteps of the invaders of her domain, who passed through the
basement-hall, and out of the back-door, where, although they found no
one to help them, Daisy, to her great delight, discovered the key of
the closet in the lock. To open the door, bid the captain take down an
empty basket, which hung on a hook, and to fill this with peanuts from
an open bag, was but the work of a few moments; the captain's huge
hands scooping up the nuts in quantities, and soon accomplishing the
task. Then, arming themselves with a tin cup, which they also found
near at hand, by way of a measure, the two conspirators once more stole
past the unconscious Mary Jane, and out into the street, the captain
bearing the basket.

[Illustration: "TWO RATHER UNUSUAL FIGURES TO BE ENGAGED IN SUCH
               AN OCCUPATION."--_Page_ 145.]

"Shall we sell 'em on our stoop?" asked Daisy, all this time quite
guiltless of any intention of wrong-doing.

"I reckon ye'd best go down to the corner there, where the two streets
comes together," answered the captain, pointing to where a
much-frequented cross-street intersected our avenue. "Them's my
opinions, for I see lots more folks walkin' that way than this."

Unfortunately, Daisy saw the force of his reasoning; and the two
innocents had presently established themselves, quite to their own
satisfaction, on this public corner.

It was not long before they attracted sufficient attention, for they
were two rather unusual looking figures to be engaged in such an
occupation, to say nothing of the contrast between them; the
weather-beaten, rugged, by no means handsome old sailor standing guard,
as it were, over the daintily dressed little child with her beautiful,
beaming face, and winning ways.

Custom flowed in without delay, the captain not hesitating to hail the
passers-by, and to direct their attention to the tiny saleswoman before
him; while she, with her sweet voice, pleading, "Please buy some
peanuts to help some poor children;" and her attractive air and
appearance was irresistible.

Fortunately for the pecuniary interests of the firm, or, rather, of the
capitalist whom they represented, Daisy knew from the boys the price
that the peanuts should be; and the captain, who, spite of his
simplicity, had a keen eye to business, and who was accustomed to
peddling about "the Point" during the summer season, constituted
himself cash-taker, and saw that she received her dues.

But public curiosity was naturally excited by the unusual situation,
and presently both Daisy and Captain Yorke were besieged with
questions, which the latter resented as implying a distrust of his
ability to care for the child. Truly, it might well be doubted. But
this was no check upon custom, and the stock in the basket at Daisy's
feet speedily dwindled down. The bottom had nearly been reached, when a
policeman sauntered by on the other side of the street; and, being
attracted by the gathering on the corner,--for those who came to buy,
in many cases remained to admire,--he crossed over to ascertain the
cause. Great was his astonishment, and small his approbation, when he
discovered the state of things; for he knew our children by sight, and
could not but be aware that such doings as these could not be with the
approbation of Daisy's family.

"Why, that is--isn't that Mr. Livingstone's little girl?" he asked of
the captain.

The captain nodded; he was too busily engaged in keeping an eye on the
money Daisy received, to do more.

"Well, if ever I saw a thing like this!" ejaculated the guardian of the
peace. "To see a little lady like that--my dear, do your pa and ma know
what you're a doing?"

"No, not yet," answered Daisy; who looked with cordial eye upon all
policemen, as being, according to her code, the defenders of the right,
and avengers of the wrong.--"No, not yet; I'll tell them by and by, and
they'll be glad, 'cause they like me to do a kindness, and not speak
about it."

"_Will_ they?" said the policeman, with a clearer insight into the
fitness of things, than was possessed by Daisy or the old sailor. "Now,
my little lady, you've got to go straight home; I know what your pa and
ma will say. You come right along home, like a good child."

"Now, you let her alone," interposed Captain Yorke. "'Tain't no case
for the law, 'sposin' her folks don't like it; an' I'll wager they do."

"You old lunatic," said the policeman, "what are you encouragin' of her
for? Who ever saw a little lady like that sellin' peanuts in the
streets! I ain't goin' to allow it nohow; it's drawin' a crowd; and, as
to the law, she nor you ain't any right to be sellin' 'em here without
a license.--Come along home, little Miss."

But here a new actor appeared upon the scene, and prevented any further
opposition on the part of the captain. This was Jim, who was returning
from an errand; and, seeing Captain Yorke's tall figure standing by the
lamp-post with an unmistakably belligerent expression in every line, he
elbowed his way through the fast increasing crowd, and stood astonished
and dismayed before Daisy.

"Miss Daisy, whatever do you mean by this? You sellin' peanuts here in
the street!"

"Matty Blair does," faltered Daisy, beginning, by virtue of all these
various protests, to see that perhaps she might have strayed from the
way in which she should go.

"Matty Blair!" ejaculated Jim, again. "Well, Miss Daisy, I guess Matty
Blair's one, an' you're another. Won't your pa an' ma, an' all of 'em,
be mad, though!"

"So I was sayin'," said the policeman, who was quite well acquainted
with Jim; "and now, youngster, the best thing you can do is to take the
little lady home, and tell her folks to look out for her better than to
put her under the care of this old know-nothing."

This entirely met Jim's views; and, snatching up the almost empty
basket, he seized the hand of the now frightened Daisy, and hurried her
homeward, leaving the policeman and the captain exchanging compliments
until such time as the latter saw fit to retire from the field, and
hasten to our house to deliver up the results of poor Daisy's sale.

It may be imagined what consternation reigned in the Livingstone
household, when this escapade of its youngest member came to light;
while the grief and bewilderment of that little damsel herself, who
had, in all good faith, believed that she had mother's sanction for her
course, were pitiable to witness. As for Jim, not even the gratifying
pecuniary results could nullify his mortification at the disgrace which
he believed to have fallen upon the family, especially his beloved Miss
Daisy; and he found it hard to forgive the captain, who had encouraged
and abetted her.

"Philanthropy has certainly seized upon this family to an alarming
extent," said Bessie Sandford, when she heard the story, "but I
_wish_ that I had been there to see pet Daisy at her post acting
peanut-vender."

How far Daisy's effort to prove to Matty that she "was not proud"
affected that young cripple, could not be told; but she did not fail to
hear of the thing from Jim.

As for Captain Yorke, he received his full share of reprimand, and
caution for the future, from his wife, who, all unaccustomed as she,
too, was to city ways, had far more natural sense of what was fitting
and advisable.

"If I could but go round with him to keep him up to the mark, Mrs.
Livingstone," she said, when apologizing to mother for the captain's
share in the late escapade; "but, bless you, dear lady, he's more of a
child than little Daisy herself, when he's out of his usual bearings. I
think he's best off at home, with Jabez and Matildy Jane to look after
him, when I can't."

And she sighed heavily, as if the responsibility were too much for her.

But the captain could not be brought to this view of the case. He was
enjoying himself in his own way among the city sights and sounds.



CHAPTER VIII.

NOT ON THE PROGRAMME.


Uncle Rutherford stood at the far end of the great schoolroom, awaiting
the admission of his two candidates for its privileges and
opportunities. It was the opening-day after the conclusion of the
Christmas holidays; and half a dozen boys, besides Theodore Yorke and
Jim, had presented themselves as new scholars, and they now stood
before the principal,--Theodore at one end of the line, and Jim at the
other.

"What is your name?" asked the principal of Theodore; to which the boy
responded simply, "Theodore Yorke," and then answered in like manner
the few more questions put to him relative to age and so forth; and the
gentleman passed down the line till he came to Jim.

"What is your name?"

To uncle Rutherford's consternation, Jim, straightening himself up,
answered in a loud, confident tone, "Jim,"--he had meant to say
"James," but the more familiar appellation escaped him,--"Jim Grant
Garfield Rutherford Livingstone Washington;" and then glanced down the
line as if to say, "Beat that if you can!"

A titter ran around the room, speedily checked by the stern eye of the
principal, and one or two of the new boys giggled outright; but Jim,
with head erect, and fearless eyes fixed upon the master, was unmoved,
perhaps did not even guess that the merriment was caused by himself.

The principal found it necessary to caress his whiskers a little, then
said,--

"Good names, my boy, every one of them. Try to prove worthy to bear
them. Your age?"

This and the other needful preliminaries being settled, the new boys
were turned over to the examiners, to have their classes and position
in the school defined; and uncle Rutherford made his exit, only too
thankful that the irrepressible Jim had not added to his list of
high-sounding appellations, "President that is to be of these United
States."

School discipline, of course, had, for the time, restrained the gibes
and sneers, the open laugh, which would have greeted Jim's announcement
of his adopted name or names; but the time was only deferred. The joke
was, to the schoolboy mind, too good to be lost; and when the recess
came, and the boys were for a while at liberty, Jim became the target
for many sorry witticisms, and "Jim Grant Garfield Rutherford
Livingstone Washington" was called from all sides of the playground in
almost as many tones of mockery as there were boys; and Jim speedily
found that he had taken too much upon himself for his own comfort. The
"Grant Garfield" had been an after-thought, and he had been prompted
thereto by hearing another boy give his name--to which he was probably
justly entitled--as "George William Winfield Scott Jones." Jim was not
going to be outdone, or to be satisfied with four names, when here was
a fellow with five; hence the "Grant Garfield" on the spur of the
moment.

Milly had feared that even the "Rutherford Livingstone Washington"
would excite derisive comment; and when she heard uncle Rutherford's
report of Jim's further adoption of great names, she groaned in spirit,
and awaited with sundry apprehensions his return from school, fearing
that his excitable temper might have been provoked into some
manifestation, which would not only affect his creditable entrance into
the school, but also his standing with uncle Rutherford.

But Jim had a check upon himself whereof Milly wot not; namely, that he
knew of the prize to be secured in case he gained the approbation of
uncle Rutherford,--a prize which, as we know, he was more anxious to
win for the sake of defeating Theodore Yorke than for the attainment of
the scholarship itself.

So, although he had to put a strong restraint upon himself, and was
inwardly boiling with wrath and indignation, he bore the gibes and
sneers with the utmost self-command, and apparently unfailing
good-nature, till Theodore Yorke, who had made himself at home among
his new surroundings as readily as Jim had done, joined in the
"chaffing" with a vim and bitterness which could have their source only
in a feeling of personal spite and hatred.

"Jim Grant Garfield Rutherford Livingstone Washington," he repeated;
"and he hasn't a right to _one_ of the names, unless it's Jim. He
hasn't got any name; nobody knows what his name is, or who he is, or
where he came from. He hasn't got any folks, either."

This was wounding poor Jim in the tenderest point, as the amiable
Theodore well knew; and it was more than his victim could well stand.

"And I'd rather have no folks at all than have such as yours," he
shouted, almost beside himself with rage at this exposure of that which
he considered to be his disgrace. Then suddenly recalled to a sense of
his regard for this boy's grandparents, Captain and Mrs. Yorke, and of
all the kindness he had received from them,--for a hearty gratitude for
favors received was one of the strongest features of Jim's
character,--he hastened to set matters in their true light; "at least,
such a father as they tell yours was. If I had a gran'father or
gran'mother like yours, there couldn't be none better; but if I had a
father was such a scallywag as yours, I say a good sight better have
none. And you ain't a bit like the old folks, neither; you're another
such a one as your father. _I_ wouldn't own such a one!"

This tirade was interspersed with other expressions more forcible than
choice, and which are better omitted; and, as may be supposed, it did
not tend to mend matters. Recrimination followed recrimination; insults
from one to another went from bad to worse, Theodore being even more of
an adept in such language than Jim, who had always been considered a
proficient; and one of the teachers came upon the playground just in
time to see Jim deal a furious blow at his opponent, who caught sight
of the master before he had returned it, which he would otherwise
doubtless have done; and who immediately assumed an air of innocent,
injured virtue, too lofty-minded and forgiving to return the blow.

As the rules against fighting within school bounds were particularly
severe, Jim's was a heinous offence. He was sternly called to order and
reprimanded with severity; and although, in consideration of his being
a new boy, he was let off with this, he began his school career
somewhat under a cloud; while Theodore posed as a martyr, and a boy
with a regard for school discipline,--to his teachers,--but the other
boys knew better, and with few exceptions espoused Jim's cause, and at
once pronounced Theodore the "sneak" and "bully" that he was. But that
was small comfort to Jim, who, on coming home, had to report, as he
truthfully did, that he had failed to keep his temper on this the very
first day of his entrance into the school.

Milly consoled and encouraged him as best she might, bidding him to
take heart and to struggle even harder for the future, and being very
sparing of blame for his share in the quarrel.

Fate, as short-sighted and with as dull an eye to expediency as uncle
Rutherford, had decreed not only that the two boys, Jim and Theodore,
should be in the same school, but, their attainments being of about the
same range, that they should be put into the same class, an arrangement
which did not tend to the maintenance of the peace so much to be
desired.

But, in spite of his unlucky beginning, Jim speedily became a favorite
in the school, both with masters and schoolmates. His frank, merry
ways, obliging disposition, ready wit, and quickness at repartee, soon
gained him a host of friends on the playground; while his evident
desire to make progress in his studies,--wherein he had a stimulus
unsuspected by any one but Bill,--his sturdy truthfulness, and general
obedience to rules and regulations, won him golden opinions from those
in authority. Ambition, whether for greater or lesser aims, was Jim's
ruling passion, and now he had so many spurs to urge him on; for, added
to his own personal aspirations and the determination to prove himself
a credit to his benefactors, was the overwhelming desire to outstrip
Theodore, and wrest from him the prize.

Milly noticed, whenever he reported progress to her, that there was a
certain sort of repressed excitability about him, a wistful nervousness
very foreign to his assured independence and self-confidence, and he
several times seemed as if he were going to make some disclosure to
her; all of which made his young mistress think that he had something
on his mind which he was half inclined to impart to her, although he
could not quite resolve to do so. She bided her time, however, being
sure that it would come sooner or later, and only now and then tried to
open the way by asking him if he had any thing further to tell her.

But the only result of this would be a shame-faced embarrassment and a
sheepish denial, followed by an evident desire to cut short the
interview.

When Jim had been at school about a month, making, according to the
reports of his teachers, who were closely questioned by uncle
Rutherford, fair progress with his studies, and showing a self-command
and control over his temper which had not been expected from him after
the fiery outburst of the first day, an incident occurred which would
have afforded him an opportunity for mortifying Theodore, had he not
been restrained by a motive which was stronger than his antagonism to
his rival.

The vagaries and peculiarities of Captain Yorke, with his ignorance and
indifference to city ways and manners, had more than once drawn public
notice upon him; the episode of Daisy as a peanut-vender, with the old
sailor as her aider and abetter, being but a trifling circumstance
compared to some others; and Mrs. Yorke was in constant terror lest he
should in some way make himself more notorious than would prove
agreeable.

About this time, a celebrated actor was performing in the city in the
farce of "Dundreary Married," wherein Lord Dundreary having, as the
title indicates, taken to himself a wife, falls beneath the tyranny of
a domineering mother-in-law, to whom he submits till submission becomes
intolerable, when he turns upon her, asserts himself, and proclaims
himself master in his own house.

Our boys, Norman and Douglas, having seen the farce in company with the
rest of the family, and having been greatly amused by it, conceived the
idea of treating the captain to a sight of the same; and, having
obtained father's permission to do so, they invited the old man to an
evening's entertainment.

"Wa'al," he drawled with his usual deliberation when considering any
matter, "I don' care if I do. When I was a youngster, I was brung up to
think play-actin' was a sin, an' I'd about as soon a thought of shakin'
han's with the evil one hisself, as of goin' to the theayter; but
either I've gotten wiser as I've gotten older, or else maybe the
play-actin' folks has gotten better behaved; but times is changed
somehow, an' I seen some play-actin' in the hotel down to the P'int,
an' they was real ladies an' gentlemen did it, too. I was a peepin' in
at the winders more'n once; an' the hotel-keepers, Mr. Loydd an' Mr.
Field, if they didn't come, one one time, an' t'other another, an'
bring me into the hall an' near to the doors where I could see
fust-rate. An' I didn't see no harm onto it. The play-actors was very
pretty behaved, an' I didn't see no breakin' of comman'ments. I never
could see what folks wanted to purtend they was other folks for, and
sometimes to go a-talkin' as if they was come out of by-gone days. But
if you're for takin' me to the theayter, I reckon I won't come to no
harm by it. Enyhow, I know ye've got to come to city ways when ye're to
the city; folks kinder look daggers at ye ef ye don't. There's the
landlady to the house where me and Mis' Yorke puts up; she's the best,
an allers doin' for Mis' Yorke, an' come an' sit with her an' talk--my
talk by the hour she will, straight on, like as she'd been woun' up;
an' she come yesterday, all kin' of fussy like, an' her face red, an'
she says, says she, 'Captain Yorke,' says she, 'ef ye wouldn't mind me
askin' a little favor of ye?'"

"'Sartinly not, ma'am,' says I; an' I was reckonin' she was wantin' to
borrer money. But what do ye s'pose it was, Norman? She goes and she
says, says she, kinder hesitatin' like yet, 'Would ye mind, capt'in,
a-eatin' with yer fork, 'stead of yer knife? Miss Jarvis, what sits
next ye at the table, she's kinder narvous, an' she says it sets her
teeth on edge, an' she says she can't stan' it; an' she's my best
payin' boarder, bein' she has the second-story front an' back; an' it
would obleege me, ef ye don't min'.'

"'Jes' as lief eat off ten forks, ma'am,' says I, 'ef it suits ye an'
Mis' Jarvis. I been a-noticin' she was kinder pernikity like an' fussy,
an' kinder offish with me; but if it's the difference of knives or
forks, the best payin' boarder ain't goin' to be hurt by me.' But,
boys! I didn't know by a long shot what I was a-promisin'. I tell ye,
the knife would keep goin' up the nateral way as it was used to; an'
yesterday I didn't get no kind of a dinner, nor a breakfast this
mornin', thinkin' of that pesky fork. So to-day I was boun' I'd get my
dinner; so I cuts it up an' spoon-victuals it, for fear of hurtin' the
feelin's of the best payin' boarder. City ways is uncommon troublesome,
when ye ain't let eat the way is most handy. But I don't care if I go
to the theayter with ye. I never see the inside of one of them places."

"Oh, a real theatre is nothing like the dining-rooms of the hotels,
where you saw the amateur theatricals," said the posted Norman; "and
father wouldn't let us go if it were any harm. He said we could take
you, captain."

"No; an' I reckon the governor wouldn't be for goin' to no place he
shouldn't go," said the captain reflectively. "An' he was along of you
t'other night, wasn't he?"

Norman and Douglas, anxious to overcome any scruples the old man might
have, assured him that uncle Rutherford went quite often to the
"theayter," and thus quieted any remaining qualms of conscience which
he might have; for Captain Yorke pinned his faith on uncle Rutherford,
and all that the governor did was right in his eyes. So the expedition
to the theatre was arranged to the satisfaction of my brothers, who
anticipated much amusement in watching the impression the play would
make upon the unsophisticated old veteran.

But a shock was in store for them which they had not foreseen; for the
amount of observation which the captain saw fit to draw upon the party
was almost too much for even their well-seasoned boyish nerves.

For the sake of obtaining an uninterrupted view of the stage, the boys
had secured seats which the event proved to be too conspicuous for
their comfort. No sooner were they all seated than the captain began
with his comments and criticisms, his "them's my opinions," in a manner
and tone which they vainly strove to moderate. Fortunately they were in
the main complimentary and approving; and the old seaman's quaint
appearance, his evidently childlike ignorance and inexperience,
diverted those of the audience who were within hearing, and led them to
be indulgent to his rather obtrusive reflections upon men and things.

"Wal," he said, gazing around and above him, up at the lofty frescoed
ceiling, the sparkling crystal chandelier, the rich curtains, and other
adornments of the house,--"wal, it does beat all! It goes ahead of any
meetin'-house I ever see; an', I say, 'tain't fair on the Almighty to
be makin' a better place for to be pleasurin' in, than what we makes
for him to be praised in. Yes, sir; an' them's my opinions, an' I
stands by 'em. What's them folks up in them little cubby-holes fur?"
pointing to the boxes. "Oh," as Douglas explained, "they's high an'
mighty, be they? can't set along of the multitude? Wal, every man, an'
woman too, to her own likin'; I'd as lief be here. Seems kinder
conspicuous like, settin' up thar, an' whiles I ain't ashamed to show
my face afore no man, I don't hanker after settin' up to be stared at."

Happily the occupants of the boxes were beyond the reach of his voice,
or at least of the tenor of his remarks; but the boys were on
tenterhooks lest their garrulous companion should give offence. But
from the moment that the curtain went up, and the mimic scene presented
itself to his gaze, he sat spell-bound and silent, perfectly absorbed
in the vivid portrayal of the chief character in the drama.

The great actor appeared first in the rôle of a celebrated man of his
own profession, an actor of bygone days, whose name will always be
famous; and from the moment that he stepped upon the stage, it was all
reality to Captain Yorke. There was no "pretendin' he was other folks,"
to him, as it had been when he had witnessed the amateur theatricals
and tableaux at the Point; and with a hand upon either knee, he leaned
eagerly forward, his eyes fixed upon the scene before him, and
absolutely speechless in his breathless interest. But when the curtain
came down after the first act, he broke forth again to the edification
and delight of those within hearing. Ladies listened and smiled at the
simple-hearted old man; and gentlemen, who were near enough, encouraged
him to ramble on, evidently considering him a novel species of
entertainment, second only to that which was passing upon the stage. He
was a character as good as any there.

Norman, enchanted with the sensation his charge was making, would put
no check upon him; but the more shrinking Douglas was not so well
pleased. Still, seeing that no offence was given, but rather the
contrary, he possessed his soul in patience, devoutly wishing, however,
that it was time for the close of the performance, which, under these
circumstances, afforded him no pleasure. And as the captain's
excitement grew with each succeeding act, and the encouragement of
those about him, and he grew more and more superior to considerations
of time and place, Douglas would fain have quitted his seat and the
theatre; and was only restrained from doing so, because he thought it
would be mean to leave Norman in the lurch.

At length came the farce "Dundreary Married;" and the captain, who, it
afterwards appeared, had in former years suffered divers things at the
hand of an obnoxious mother-in-law, grew more excited than ever, and
became furiously indignant, not only at the all-assuming lady, but also
at the supine Dundreary, who allowed himself to be thus imposed upon.
He grumbled and muttered, and really seemed as if he would make for the
stage, as he said, "to give the old creetur a piece of his mind." Even
Norman was now uneasy lest he should make more demonstration than was
meet, while Douglas did his best to induce both his companions to come
out; but the captain was immovable, and not to be persuaded. Indeed, he
scarcely seemed to heed Douglas's arguments, so intent was he on the
fortunes of the persecuted husband. His delight when that hero showed
symptoms of some spirit was unbounded; and when at last he roused
himself altogether from the _laisser aller_ which had suffered so long
and patiently, and fairly bade the lady leave his house and his wife to
his own authority and protection, the old man sprang to his feet, and,
waving his hat in the air, exclaimed in a voice which rang in
stentorian tones through the house,--

"Pitch into her, my lad! Give it to her! That's right. Pitch into the
mother-in-law!"

The effect, as may be imagined, was electric. There was a moment's
pause, then a laugh; then, as Norman and Douglas fairly dragged and
hustled the captain into his seat, the inimitable actor bowed and waved
his hand to the old man, who had, as it were, paid such an involuntary
tribute to his powers; and the next moment a storm of applause broke
forth, in compliment to both, it would appear,--to the gratified actor,
who had thrown his spell over the guileless old sailor to such an
extent as to render him insensible to aught else, and to the innocent
spectator who had been thus impressed by his matchless impersonations.
As the performance came to a close, and the audience were leaving the
house, the captain the centre of all eyes around him, an usher made his
way to him, bearing a request from the star that he would step behind
the scenes and shake hands with him.

Nothing loath, the captain readily consented, inviting the boys to go
with him; but this Douglas, much disturbed by the notoriety of the
evening, flatly refused, while bold Norman, who had no fear of man
before his eyes, agreed to accompany him. Indeed, it was not safe to
lose sight of him; there was no knowing of what vagaries the captain
might be guilty if he were left entirely to his own devices. Norman
felt that he was capable of any thing, and that he must keep a secure
hold upon him. Moreover, the old man was not at all familiar with the
city streets, and he must be guided safely to his boarding-house.

When they arrived behind the scenes, the great actor shook hands
heartily with the old seaman, thanking him for the tribute which he had
paid him. But here the captain's enthusiasm fell flat. Meeting the
object of his sympathy face to face, and as man to man, and finding
that the interesting scenes he had just witnessed were but an
inimitable mimicry, was a great disappointment; and he seemed to feel
wronged and defrauded in some way.

"There warn't nothin' real about it," he said indignantly and in a hurt
tone to the boys, as they took their way homeward. "There warn't
nothin' true at all. There bean't no mother-in-law, nor wife, nor
nothin'; there warn't even any chap with the long whiskers, for it
warn't hisself at all, though he said it was--that t'other one shook
han's with me, and said I'd give him a big compliment. 'Twas all
purtendin' an' makin' b'lieve. It's a shame an' a sin for to go makin'
out so life-like ye are what ye ain't, an' takin' folks in so. It's
kinder cheatin' play, _I_ think; an' Mis' Yorke, she wurn't jes' so
easy in her min' 'bout me goin' to the theayter, an' I reckon I've come
to her way of thinkin'; an' thank ye kindly, boys, but there'll be no
more theayter-goin' fur me. The Scriptur says, 'A fool an' his money is
soon parted,' an'--meanin' no ungratefulness to you, boys--I've faith
to b'lieve it; for it's not good manners, neither good deeds, to make
out that way, an' take folks in. An' them's my opinions, an' I'll stan'
by 'em!"

The last thing the boys heard, as the door of his temporary home closed
upon him, was, "No more theayters for me; they're clean agin'
Scriptur."

This, of course, was great fun for our frolicsome Norman, always ready
for a joke or a good story; and although Douglas had not taken
unalloyed pleasure in the events of the evening, he, too, could see the
droll side of them now that they were over. They were rehearsed with
great glee at the breakfast-table the next morning; and it occurred to
me that here, if he chose to use it, was the opportunity for Jim to
revenge himself for some of the sneers cast upon him by Theodore Yorke.
I was wicked enough, however, not to suggest the idea to any one else,
lest a word of warning or counsel should restrain him; and in the
sequel Jim proved himself far the better Christian of the two, in spite
of the superior advantages which had always been mine.

This happened to be Friday, when he brought home from school his weekly
report, which he always took at once to Milly. The record for this week
proved an unusually favorable one; but he had more to add to this.

"Miss Milly," he said, after she had expressed her pleasure at the
progress he was making and at his standing in "conduct,"--"Miss Milly,
I was real forgivin' an' like livin' up to the mark you sot us for
doin' unto others, in school to-day. But it does come awful hard, when
you get the chance to pay off a feller, to let it slip; an' I don't
know as I could have done it if it hadn't been for thinkin' of the old
captain himself, an' how good he'd been to me, an' that I wouldn't like
to go back on _him_."

Light flashed upon Milly. The boy had been tempted to make use of the
occurrences of the preceding evening to revenge himself upon Theodore
Yorke for his previous slights and insults; and had refrained, chiefly
from loyalty to his old friend, it is true, but, perhaps, partly
prompted by the wish to do right.

It had so happened, that two boys in the class had been at the theatre
also, and had been witnesses of the captain's antics, but without
knowing who he was, or of his connection with Theodore. In recess they
told the story, doubtless with more or less of exaggeration, of the old
countryman who had made himself so conspicuous and--according to their
showing--so ridiculous at last night's entertainment.

Of course Jim at once recognized the hero of the tale; but not so
Theodore, his grandfather having, for a wonder, preserved a discreet
silence on the subject, being totally unaware that he had exhibited
himself in an unusual way on the occasion. Perhaps the poor captain had
felt a little mortified that he had been so carried away by that which
was, after all, "on'y pretendin'," and did not care to rehearse his
experience.

However that may be, Theodore had heard nothing of it, and laughed and
jeered with the other boys at the more than graphic relation of his two
schoolmates.

Strong was the temptation to Jim to expose him, and to draw upon his
enemy the laugh which must follow; but, to his credit be it said, he
refrained, except in so far as to give him a knowing look which
conveyed to that amiable youth the conviction that it was no other than
his grandfather who was furnishing food for merriment to half the
school, and that Jim was aware of it and held this rod over him. The
knowledge that this was so was not calculated to soften Theodore's
animosity toward Jim. Disposed as he was to raise a laugh or a sneer at
the expense of another, he could not endure them himself; and to feel
that he was thus in the power of the boy whom he hated, was intolerable
to him. From this time, however, it gave him a wholesome awe of Jim,
and proved a check upon him; and "Jim Grant Garfield Rutherford
Livingstone Washington" rang less often over the playground, now that
he ceased to lead in the cry upon the claimant of so many names.



CHAPTER IX.

MATTY.


"Amy, what are you pondering?"

"Men and things in general and their iniquities in particular; my own
not being included, they being nothing worth speaking of," I answered,
rather evasively, not being disposed at present to make public the
nature of my cogitations, which really had to do with my own
shortcomings.

"We will pass over the modesty of the remark," said Bessie Sanford,
"but we insist upon knowing--do we not, Milly?--the tenor of the
meditations which have actually kept you quiet for--let me see--I think
it must be full two minutes by the clock."

"That inquisitive spirit of yours needs repression, Elizabeth," I said:
"therefore I shall not yield to your demands."

"Then bid farewell to peace," was the rejoinder. And knowing Elizabeth
Sanford well, I meditated a precipitate flight; but she divined my
intention, and, seizing upon me, held me prisoner, and made good her
threat until I succumbed, first freeing my mind of my opinion as to the
conduct of my captor.

"Never mind. We will leave the results of that case to the future," she
said; "the present question has only to do with yourself, and the
unburdening of your secrets. Your inward communings are of such rare
occurrence, that when you do indulge in them, your friends are entitled
to benefit by them.--Is it not so, Milly?"

"Reap what benefit you may, then," I answered. "I was thinking how I
was going to waste."

"H'm'm," said Bessie, releasing her grasp upon my shoulders, and gazing
with an air of deep meditation out of the window near which we sat.
"Fred Winston would doubtless feel complimented by that sage
conclusion; but if you feel so decidedly that you are throwing yourself
away, it is not yet too late for you to draw back, and----"

"Your remarks are too frivolous to bear the consideration of a
well-balanced mind, Elizabeth," I interrupted, "and therefore I decline
to notice them further than to say that you are entirely wide of the
mark. Perhaps I did not express myself in language as choice as I might
have used; but what I meant to say was--to quote the copy-books--that
'opportunities imply obligations,' and that, while my opportunities are
many, the obligations arising therefrom have _not_ been fulfilled."

I had spoken jokingly, almost mockingly, nevertheless I really meant
what I said; but any thing like a sober reflection or solemn view of
life's duties was so new from me, that for a moment my sister and
friend were struck dumb with astonishment.

Then Bessie gave vent to a smothered groan.

"Listen to the words of wisdom!" she ejaculated. "The depth of her! And
whence and since when, may I inquire, arises thus suddenly so solemn a
view of your responsibilities? They are not wont to weigh upon your
mind."

"That is just it," I said. "I am in earnest, not in joke, whatever you
may think. It has, rather suddenly I allow, dawned upon me, that I am a
perfectly useless member of society; or rather, the conviction has been
forced upon me by the words of Allie, whom I overheard informing Daisy
that I was very nice and lovely, but the _uselessest_ person in the
house. Loyal Daisy was indignant, and questioned the justice of the
remark; but it opened up a field of reflection to me, and I am obliged
to admit its truth. Since I left school last spring, what have I done
but amuse myself, and attend readings and lectures, which amounts to
the same thing, as the motive is purely selfish?"

"You have made 'food for the gods,'" said Bessie demurely.

I turned upon her.

"For that remark you shall have cause to regret that you ever were
born," I retorted, "and I would not have believed it of you, Bessie.
But seriously, girls, I am longing for an object in life on which I can
expend some of the capabilities of which I feel myself possessed."

"I thought you had been supplied with one since the 15th of last
November," said Bessie, "but----"

"Will you leave that subject out of the question?" I again interrupted.
"If not, there will be trouble between the houses of Sanford and
Livingstone."

"Why can't you two be what Daisy calls 'common-sensible,' and tell what
is at the bottom of all this?" said Milly, joining for the first time
in the conversation.

"I am sure that I am showing an unusual amount of common-sense," I
rejoined, "for I have in all seriousness just awakened to a sense of my
shortcomings towards humanity in general, and am longing for an object
on which to expend my superfluous energies. You, Milly, have your
charges, Bill and Jim, whom you have rescued from lives of shame and
crime, and who are standing monuments of the efficacy of your zeal,
self-sacrifice, and good sense in their behalf (no, you need not
courtesy); and Bessie has her old ladies to whom she so religiously
devotes one afternoon in every week, no matter what temptations assail
her in other directions, and who simply adore her, and for whom she
does many a little kind office at divers other times. But who, outside
of our family, to whose happiness I add, of course, because I am their
own Amy; and--and Fred; yes, and you, dear Bessie," as a soft little
reminding hand was laid upon my arm,--"who except these is any the
better or happier for my existence?"

"Lots of friends and relations, you foolish child," said Bessie, while
Milly dropped a re-assuring kiss upon my forehead. "What nonsense, Amy!
I do not know any one who is a more general favorite."

"Well, allowing that it is so," I said, "is it not only because I am
merry and full of life, and make things a little cheerful around me?
Point to one thing useful or of real lasting benefit that I have ever
done, and I will thank you. I have loved Aunt Emily's hospital cottage
by the sea, for her sake and for dear little Amy's, and have worked a
little for that; but it has been a real pleasure and enjoyment to me,
and has never involved one moment's self-sacrifice."

Modesty will not allow me to put down here all that Milly and Bessie in
their partial affection said to persuade me that I was not altogether a
useless member of society at large. Delightful as it was to hear, it
did not succeed in quieting my newly awakened conscience or sense of
responsibility; and perhaps Milly on her part did not intend that it
should do so.

"She evidently must be furnished with an _object_," said Bessie;
"nothing else will satisfy her; and as she seems to have something of
the feeling of the monks and nuns of old, that the more disagreeable
the duty the greater the credit, let us satisfy her by finding her a
most unpleasant one. Oh, charming! I have thought of just the
thing.--Why not adopt as your particular charge, Amy, that most
unattractive young cripple, Matty Blair? She will probably satisfy all
your longings for self-sacrifice, in a way which can leave nothing to
be desired."

"The very thing," I answered, delighted to have found so soon an
"object" on which to expend the benevolent yearnings with which I had
been seized,--not so suddenly as Milly and Bessie believed; for, for
some time past, I had had a secret and rather unwelcome consciousness
that I was not doing my share toward mitigating the general load of
human misery and ignorance,--a consciousness which Allie's words had
only quickened into more active life. "But, girls, I assure you that I
am not at all moved by the ascetic notion of taking up the most
disagreeable work I can find, as a penance for former shortcomings. I
wish from my heart that Matty Blair was pretty and straight and sweet,
a typical little story-book pauper, whom it would be a pleasure to
befriend, and who would respond amicably to my advances. Matty, from
what I know of her, will be far from being all that; nevertheless I
shall take her up, and see what can be done for her."

"Consult mother first, dear," said Milly. "She may see objections: they
say that Matty's parents are dreadful people, and they may choose to
make trouble for you. There are cases, you know, where people expect
you to _pay_ for being allowed to confer benefits upon them."

"I wish that we could remove the child, or both the children, entirely
from the father and mother," I said.

"They will never allow that while the poor little things continue to be
profitable to them," said Milly.

"You have taken up something of a task, truly," said Bessie. "First you
will have those wretched parents to win over, and then that
unattractive little creature. And, Amy, although I would not wish to
throw cold water upon your enthusiasm, I feel sure that your father and
mother will never let you go to such a place as the home of the child
must be. Milly's mission came to her, as it were, heaven-sent, it seems
to me," she added in a reverent tone; "but you must seek this out to do
Matty any good, and face those dreadful relations of hers. Your father
and mother will never listen to it, and they will be right. Do not try
to run a tilt against windmills, dear."

"No, neither will I make mountains out of mole-hills," I answered
lightly, although I did feel the force, yes, and the truth too, of
Bessie's reasoning, and had my own doubts; "and certainly I shall not
have more unpromising material to deal with than Milly had when she
undertook to bring up her charges in the way they should go. Moreover,
I shall not attempt to beard the lions in their den; but I suppose I
have to win my way into Matty's affections or confidence, or whatever
it may be that proves assailable, and if I find any way to help her, I
shall ask cousin Serena to go into partnership with me. She will be
protection enough anywhere, for no one could think of troubling or
annoying her in any way."

"Well, I'm not so sure of that, either," said Bessie; "but I'm not
going to discourage you further, and time will show. But how do you
mean to set to work, Amy?"

"I do not know yet; how can I?" I answered. "I have only just thought
of this, and of course I have not had time to make any plans or to
think of what I shall do. I shall firstly go this very afternoon to
cousin Serena; and if she thinks me, as she doubtless will, a prodigy
of benevolence, self-sacrifice, and generosity, and agrees to all I ask
of her, I shall attack father and mother to-night. I mean to act while
the frenzy is on me, lest my ardor cool, and I see the many lions in
the way which you bad girls are trying to conjure up."

Knowing myself in this respect pretty well, I was really afraid that if
I gave myself too much time for consideration of my new scheme, I might
become appalled by the difficulty and disagreeableness which were
prophesied; and I was determined to place myself in a position
where--unless a higher authority interfered--I could not in pride or
conscience draw back.

Milly had taken almost no part in the little discussion between Bessie
and me, generally speaking only when she was appealed to; and I knew by
this that she did not altogether approve. But I was a little
self-willed, a state of mind not altogether of rare occurrence with me,
I am afraid; and I chose to ignore the disapprobation which was implied
by this silence, and asked her no questions.

And now for cousin Serena, to whom I bent my steps at once, accompanied
by Bessie, who volunteered to go with me; though, to tell the truth, I
could have dispensed with her society for this occasion, being afraid
of the discouraging objections and criticisms she might raise. But she
ventured none; on the contrary, she seemed rather inclined to aid and
abet me when I broached the subject to cousin Serena, in whom I was not
disappointed. She proved herself--the blessed soul--the most willing
co-adjutor, even more so than I desired; for, running to a closet where
she kept a bountiful provision of such articles, she began to bring
forth flannel, calico, and stout muslin suitable to make clothes for
poor people; whereupon my spirit shrank appalled, for, if there was one
occupation which I hated more than another, it was plain sewing,
especially upon coarse material.

"O cousin Serena!" I said, "I am not going to sew and make clothes for
Matty. It is so much easier and more convenient to buy them
ready-made."

This speech, I was sorry to see, damped cousin Serena's ardor; for this
working by proxy, as it were, did not at all coincide with her
old-fashioned notions; and "ready-made garments" were to her a delusion
and a snare, giving opportunity to Satan to find mischief for idle
hands to do. I hated to disappoint her when she was so enthusiastically
preparing to cut put work for both Bessie and me; but I hated still
more to sew, and held my ground, being borne out by Bessie, who was not
any more partial to such work than I was. Cousin Serena shook her head,
and sighed over the degeneracy of the age which could content itself
with other than such exquisite "hand-sewing" as she did herself.

Having gained my point, and made her promise all that I wished, I
insisted that she should go home with us to dinner, taking the little
bower of Dutch Johnny, the florist, by the way for a glimpse of Matty.
Cousin Serena had never seen her; but I was not afraid to have her do
so, unpromising object for one's charitable sympathies though she
certainly was, for, the more helpless and repulsive-looking, the more
would cousin Serena's tender heart warm toward her.

Our errand to Johnny's was nominally to purchase flowers, and, of
course, we did invest therein, and came out bearing some of his
choicest blossoms; but cousin Serena made use of the opportunity to
take a close observation of Matty as she sat at her little peanut-stand
in the corner, sullen and lowering, the picture of discontent and
misery, as usual.

But cousin Serena did more than this; for, with the tact which she
always showed in dealing with people of this class, she succeeded in
arousing a slight feeling of interest in the sullen, disagreeable
little cripple.

The one gift which had been granted to Matty was a profusion of
beautiful hair, which, however, was never seen to perfection, as it was
always braided tightly and wound in a close coil about her head, giving
to the wizened, shrunken face an even older look than was natural to
it. If she had any pride in any thing, it must have been in this
hair,--indeed, she had little else to be proud of,--for it was always
fairly tidy. Johnny, it seemed, always exacted a certain amount of
cleanliness and decency as the price of her admission into his shop;
not, perhaps, that he had any inherent love for this virtue, as such,
or that his own comfort and happiness depended upon them, but because
he feared that his trade might be injured if his customers found there
such a dirty, ragged little object as Matty had formerly been. Clean
hands and faces, well-brushed hair, and as much patching of ragged
clothes as the neglected, worse than motherless creatures could
compass, were required from Matty and Tony. His good-natured wife
sometimes befriended them in this way, and put in a few stitches for
them; the result being profitable in more ways than one. It was she,
and not the miserable, intemperate mother, who plaited Matty's glossy
locks in the heavy braid which she then wound round her head.

Cousin Serena went up to the peanut-stand, invested in Matty's wares,
the child serving her in the dull, mechanical way usual with her, and
smiled kindly down at her, eliciting, however, no response.

"What pretty hair you have, Matty!" was Miss Craven's next advance;
and, as she spoke, she lightly touched with her gloved finger the
shining coil which many a society belle might have envied.

A gleam lighted up the dull, heavy eyes, and Matty raised them to the
dear old lady's face.

"It is almost a pity to wear it so closely bound up," continued cousin
Serena; while Bessie and I, apparently making an inspection of Johnny's
stock while he was engaged with another customer, lent attentive ears
to what passed, I feeling rather that my intended mission work had been
taken up by other hands; "it would show so nicely if you wore it loose
and flowing as most little girls do now. I would like to see it when it
is down."

With a motion marvellously quick in one so crippled, the child raised
her hands, unbound the coil from about her head, and drawing her
fingers through the plait, let the rippling, waving masses fall flowing
over her poor, twisted, mis-shapen shoulders.

"Amy and Bessie," said cousin Serena, pursuing her advantage of playing
upon the only vanity in poor Matty's nature, "Amy and Bessie, come here
and see what beautiful hair this child has. It is a good deal like
yours, Amy, both in color and quantity."

With another sudden motion, Matty drew the shining waves in front of
her, glanced at them lovingly, and then raising her eyes to me with the
first appearance of any thing like interest in them which I had ever
seen, scanned my locks, and said with something of malicious triumph in
her tone and look,--

"It's prettier nor her'n."

"So it is, Matty," I said, ignoring what Daisy would have called the
"discompliment" to myself, and determined to strike while the iron was
hot, or at least approaching an unusual degree of warmth,--"so it is;
you have the very prettiest hair I ever saw."

Matty did not smile,--I never but once saw the light of a smile on her
face,--but she gave a low chuckle. Evidently we had touched a chord
that would respond; an ignoble one it might be, but it was something to
have gained even this.

Having dismissed his customer, Johnny now came to the front.

"'Tis goot," he said, pointing to the beautiful locks; "'tis goot. Mine
wife she say 'tis pest cut off dat head; bud Maddy she so moosh lofe
dat head, an' 'tis so goot, I say, leaf her keep her head. So mine
wife, she say, 'yes, 'tis too pad to cut dat nice head,' an' she leafs
it on her, an' mine wife she comb an' prush it for Maddy. But I tells
Maddy she shall sell dat head for so moosh as fife tollars if she
schuse."

"Don't ye be after tellin' me mother that," said Matty, with a sudden
look of angry alarm, which was really pathetic, as one gathered from it
that the child felt she would no longer be allowed to keep her one
cherished possession, if any idea of its pecuniary value were suggested
to her mother.

"Nein, nein," answered Johnny, shaking his head and speaking with
emphasis, as if to say that this was a secret he would carefully guard
from the unnatural parent. "Nein, nein," he repeated. "If I tells dat
mutter any tings, 'tis as dat head is so pad as is not vort notings."

"But you would not say what is not true, even to save Matty's hair,
would you?" said Miss Craven, unable to allow this more than doubtful
morality to pass.

Again Johnny wagged his head, this time as one quite convinced that he
was in the right, and answered: "If I tells shust one nice, leetle pit
of a lie" (Johnny did not mince matters, even to his own conscience),
"'tis for to keep away a great pig wrong; for if I tells dat mutter de
shild's head is vort so moosh, she put dat head in de scissors de negst
minit."

The kindly old Dutchman was plainly convinced that the end justified
the means, and cousin Serena felt that any further discussion of the
question was useless, and that it would not tend to improve Matty's
moral views or those of her brother Tony, who had just come in, as both
were sure to side with their friend and benefactor.

"We will hope that no one will ever touch Matty's pretty hair," she
said; and I, seized with a sudden inspiration, and still appealing to
Matty's vanity, said,--

"I would like to see Matty's hair flowing over a dark-blue dress. How
it would set it off! Would you like a blue dress, Matty? Your hair will
look so pretty over it if you wear it down."

Matty looked rather askance at me. She evidently regarded me as a rival
in the matter of hair, and was not inclined to accept any advances on
my part; but friendly, jolly little Tony answered for her; while she
hesitated, evidently meditating some ungracious answer.

"Oh, wouldn't she though, miss! I guess she would like it, an' her hair
would look awful pooty on it, an' when we goes to the Sunday-school
festival,--when it's Easter, ye know,--Matty'll wear the blue dress,
an' her hair down on it, an' she'll look as good as any of the girls
there, an' better, 'cause there isn't one of 'em has hair like
Matty's.--An' I'll tell ye, Matty, if the lady,--she's one of Jim's
young ladies,--if she gives ye the blue dress, we'll keep it to Mrs.
Petersen's if she'll let us, so ma can't get it for the drink.--Are ye
goin' to give it to her, miss?"

"Indeed I am," I answered to the eager question. "Come now, Matty,
stand up, and we'll measure you for the dress. Perhaps I can find one
ready-made, and you shall have it to-morrow.--Johnny, can you lend me a
yard-measure?"

Johnny produced one; and Matty, still half doubtful whether or no to be
gracious, and eying me with a gaze which had some lingering viciousness
in it, rose half reluctantly to her feet. Standing so, her deformity
was even more visible than it was when she was seated; and it took all
my nerve and power of will to take the measure of the mis-shapen
shoulders without shrinking from the touch. And then I saw the
improbability, I might say the impossibility, of finding in any
ready-made-clothing store, a dress which would fit the twisted form.
One must be made on purpose; one which would set at defiance all rules
of symmetry; and how to have it completed to-morrow, even late in the
day to-morrow? Where should I go to have such an order filled by the
time I desired it? And I believed from what I had seen of Matty that
the non-fulfilment or postponement of my hasty, ill-considered promise
would be enough to excite all her enmity again. However, I said nothing
until we were out of the little shop, when I exclaimed at my own want
of fore-thought, and asked where I could go to have my order fulfilled
without delay.

"You can't do it," said Bessie. "Even at the stores where they profess
to furnish costumes at twenty-four hours' notice, they would not agree
to give you, in so short a time, a dress for which they can use no
ordinary pattern. Amy,"--with what seemed to be a most irrelevant
change of subject,--"is any one coming to your house to dinner
to-night?"

"Cousin Serena, and yourself if you will," I answered.

"Yes, I intended to suggest that you should invite me," answered
Bessie, "and, had you proved obdurate, should have appealed to Milly or
your mother. Well, there will be four of us: yourself, cousin Serena,
Milly, and myself; and we will press the mother and Mrs. Rutherford
into the service. Let us go to Arnold's, buy some suitable
material,--and we all know what cousin Serena is with scissors and
thimble,--coax her to cut out a dress for Matty, and we will all devote
the evening, perhaps the whole night, to it. By our united exertions, I
think that we can surely accomplish it in time for you to take it to
her to-morrow, and your credit will be saved."

"If we were not in the street, I should fall upon you with kisses and
tears of gratitude," I answered ecstatically; "as it is, consider
yourself embraced.--Cousin Serena, will you help us?"

There was no question of that: cousin Serena was only too glad to give
us her services; and although, as I have said, she needed to be guided
and tyrannized over in the matter of style and fashion where her own
dress was concerned, she was an expert in fashioning garments for the
poor.

Bessie's idea was acted upon forthwith. We took our way down to
Arnold's, purchased the necessary material, and, lest it should not be
sent home in time, bid pride hide its head, and carried the parcels
ourselves.

Jim beamed upon us when he gathered, from the conversation around the
dinner-table, to what the evening was to be devoted, and became quite
an overpowering nuisance with his pressing attentions to the young
ladies.

The dress was so nearly completed that night that Milly and I had but
little difficulty in finishing it for the next afternoon.

Father and mother gave consent to my pursuing my benevolent intentions
with regard to Matty, so far as I could do it without venturing into
the abode of her wretched parents, but positively forbade my going
there even under the guidance and protection of cousin Serena. Indeed,
the fear of them which Tony and Matty showed augured little good or
encouragement for those who would benefit these children, unless some
profit therefrom, was to accrue to the elder Blairs themselves.

The dress was ready in good time, and supplemented by the addition of a
warm sack of the same color from mother and a little cloth cap from
aunt Emily. A hood had been in the thoughts of the latter, as warmer
and more suitable; but I had begged for the cap as affording better
opportunity for the display of Matty's hair. "Poor little object!" I
pleaded: "why not allow her the gratification of this small vanity?"
and aunt Emily yielded, as she was sure to do when any one's small
whims and fancies were to be satisfied.

Maria made the garments into a neat parcel for me; and I, thinking to
give Jim a pleasure, summoned him on his return from school to be the
bearer thereof, and to accompany me to Johnny's. That Jim was pleased,
was an assured fact; and his tongue wagged incessantly though
respectfully all the way until we arrived at our destination. Then
while I opened the parcel, and presented Matty with the dress and other
articles, he stood by in delighted contemplation, looking from me to
Matty as if he would say to her, "This is my young mistress;" to me,
"This is my _protégée_."

As for Matty, she appeared, so far as she showed any feeling at all, to
consider that the gifts were altogether due to him; and she vouchsafed
no word of thanks to me. Not that I cared for expressions of gratitude;
but I felt a little hopeless as I saw how entirely I had failed to make
any impression on her.

Tony, however, who was present again, was profuse in his thanks, and
really seemed to feel all that he said.

The shining hair fell like a shielding veil over Matty's deformity
again to-day; and after this it became her practice to wear it so when
she was away from home. There she wore it tightly bound up, and kept it
as much out of sight as possible; fearing, poor little creature, that
she might be bereft of it, should any idea of its pecuniary value enter
her mother's mind.



CHAPTER X.

A COLD BATH.


"Well, Jim," I said, as I returned home in the fast-gathering twilight,
with my escort trotting beside me, "how are you getting on now at
school? I have not heard lately."

"I'm havin' an awful hard time just now, Miss Amy," he answered, coming
nearer,--"an awful hard time."

"How is that?" I asked. "Are they pressing you too much? Have they
given you too many lessons, or are those you had before becoming
harder?"

"Neither, miss," he answered. "'Tain't the lessons; I don't mind them.
Lessons ain't nothin'--I mean lessons ain't anything"--Jim was growing
more choice in language, and taking infinite pains with his parts of
speech--"when a feller has such good help as Miss Milly or Mr. Edward.
If they're too hard for me, one of 'em always helps me an' makes 'em
plain, an' I keep along good enough in the classes. But it's the
keepin' cool, an' not flyin' out when I get provoked, 'specially with
that Theodore Yorke. Miss Amy, you never saw the like of him. He's just
the meanest chap ever breathed; and the way he finds out things you
don't want him to know, an' keeps bringin' 'em up an' naggin' about
'em, is the worst."

"All the more credit to you, then, Jim, if you keep your temper under
such provocation," I answered soothingly, "and you show yourself by far
the better man of the two. You know the Bible says, 'Greater is he that
ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.'"

"Well, Miss Amy," he said, "I guess it ain't no such rememberin' nor
Bible texes that keeps me cool. It's lots of other things. First, I do
want awful bad to do credit to Miss Milly; then I don't want to fight
Theodore, nor have a real sharp fallin' out, on account of the captain
an' Mrs. Yorke; then I'm thinkin', if I don't learn to hold my temper
now, how will it be if I come to be President of these States? I s'pose
there's lots of things that'll be provokin', an' hard to stand, when
you're President; and if Congress don't want to mind you right spang
off when you tell 'em to do a thing, an' goes to foolin' round about
it, I s'pose it don't do to be flyin' out, 'cause then folks would
think you wasn't fit to be President. Besides, when one's mad he can't
think about the best way to do things, an' I might make foolish laws
they wouldn't like. But most of all it will be a great deal better way
to get even with Theodore if I come out first with Mr.----"

Here he suddenly checked himself, and even in the dim twilight I could
see the color mounting to the roots of his carroty hair. He had
evidently been on the verge of some disclosure which he would have
regretted, and no questions succeeded in drawing forth any thing
further from him.

He had been sufficiently candid, however, in admitting that he was not
influenced, in the struggle with himself, by any abstract notions of
right and wrong, or by any special desire to please a higher power. But
that he had some motive still undeclared, and of greater weight with
him than any of those he had mentioned, I was convinced; and why should
he wish to keep it back?

However, my cogitations on the subject, and Jim's confidences, were now
cut short by the appearance at the corner, of another escort, who took
charge of me at once with a very decided remonstrance against my
remaining out till this hour "with only the protection of that boy."

This was a slight which would have wounded Jim to the quick had he
heard it, which he fortunately did not, as it was spoken in an
undertone; and he was evidently pleased to be freed from an attendance
which had become embarrassing to him by his own indiscretion.

"What do you suppose he could have meant?" I asked of Milly that night,
after I had rehearsed to her, in the privacy of our own room, my
conversation with Jim.

"I am sure I do not know," said my sister. "If it were possible, I
should think he meant uncle Rutherford's prize; but as he does not and
can not know of that, of course it cannot be. And while we must all
wish that he were acting from a higher motive than any of these, still
it is a great point gained, that he is so learning to control himself;
the habit will be formed, and he will learn to be his own master. But I
fear that Theodore Yorke is not a truthful or upright boy. Even our own
boys, who see so little of him, call him a sneak; and although he has a
bold, self-assertive manner, it has none of Jim's frankness. Oh, uncle
Rutherford, I wish that you could have seen things differently!"

But as uncle Rutherford had not only seen things in his own light, but
had acted thereon, there was nothing for us to do beyond giving Jim
what help we could. There was little, however, a lady could do to help
a boy in a public school in his struggle with adverse circumstances,
save by advice and encouragement; and Milly did not fail him in these.

Taking a hint from what I had seen of Jim's influence over Matty, I now
based my plans for her benefit and regeneration upon that, in addition
to the play upon her vanity by means of that wonderful and much-prized
hair. Jim, too, I knew would paint me and all my doings in glowing
colors, making much of any little kindness I might do for her.

The blue dress and other decent clothes were kept at kind Mrs.
Petersen's "for fear of the drink," and Matty donned them there when
she found occasion to wear them; and this led me to carry out the idea
of rescuing the children, Matty and Tony, entirely from the intemperate
wretches who dishonored the names of father and mother, and placing
them under the care of Mrs. Petersen. So long as the two little
cripples brought home such portion of their weekly earnings as Jim had
agreed should be allowed to Blair and his wife, the latter cared little
where or how the neglected children spent their time, especially as
they were now provided with their dinner as a part of the price of
their services at the peanut-stand.

The disapprobation in Milly's manner, which I had noticed and wondered
at, when my new enterprise was under consideration, had altogether
vanished after that first afternoon; and she had not only helped with
all her might in the making of the blue dress, but she had ever since
been interested and full of thoughtful suggestion.

"Milly," I said to her one day soon after, "why did you seem so
unwilling to have me undertake to care for that little cripple? You
surely had formed a precedent for such things in our family. I never
could understand your objections; for, that you had objections, I could
not help seeing."

Milly laughed.

"I find that such objections as I entertained were not well founded,"
she answered.

"Perhaps so, but that does not tell me what they were," I insisted.

"Well," she said, "I was a little afraid that Jim might feel that you
were trespassing on his preserves; and your field for charity is so
large, and his so small, that I did not wish him to imagine that he was
interfered with."

"Well, that is disposed of, for he is delighted with my co-operation,"
I said. "Now, what else was it?"

Milly was reluctant to say; but I persisted, and at last she
answered,--

"I feared that it was only--that you would soon tire of it, Amy, and
that the experiment would then prove good neither for you nor for
Matty; but in that too I hope I was wrong."

After events left no room to prove whether or no I should have been
long steadfast to my purpose of caring for poor Matty; that was taken
out of my hands.

Jim's report from school had been one of unbroken credit for weeks
now,--in conduct, that is; and to those who knew the boy's fiery,
impulsive, and, until he fell under Milly's care, untrained, nature,
the record was a remarkable one. In his classes, he was doing fairly
well, and making progress of which he had no need to be ashamed, but
his lessons were by no means always perfect; and, happily, it was not
so much to them that we looked, as the chief means for his gaining
uncle Rutherford's prize, for Theodore's standing in this respect was
generally a better one than his own.

I had noticed, and Milly at length came to do so, that if the record
was an unusually good one, and he received an extra amount of praise,
he still always appeared sheepish and ill at ease, and as though he had
something on his mind which he was half-inclined to make known. But he
never came to the point of doing so, and Milly had ceased to ask him.

We were kept pretty well informed, too, of the progress and standing of
Theodore Yorke; partly by uncle Rutherford's interest in the matter and
the inquiries he made of the teachers every week, and also by the
captain's pride in his grandson, whom he considered a prodigy of
learning. The boy was certainly bright and clever, as was Jim; and the
two kept fairly even in their record, both for lessons and conduct.

But while Jim continued to grow in popularity with both teachers and
scholars, it was not so with Theodore, and there was a strong prejudice
against him, especially among the boys. There seemed to be no
particular cause of offence or instance of wrong-doing to be brought
against him, but there it was; and neither masters nor schoolmates
seemed to place any confidence in him.

As far as trade went, Jim was certainly making a good thing out of the
school; for, owing to his persuasions, to say nothing of that leaning
toward peanuts which is a marked feature of every boyish mind, the
calls at Matty's stand on the way to and from the school were very
frequent; and while pennies and nickels flowed in upon the small
vender, peanut-shells were scattered all over the building and
playground, until at last they called forth a remonstrance from the
janitor. Finding this of no avail, he threatened an appeal to the
higher authorities; but, as he was a good-natured old soul, he
hesitated to draw reproof upon the boys, when about this time an
incident occurred which made complaint unnecessary, as peanuts became
prohibited altogether within school bounds.

"Jim," said a boy, coming to him one morning before the school-bell
rang, "do you see the lot of peanuts Theodore Yorke has?"

"I don't pay much heed to Theodore Yorke or his havin's," answered Jim
scornfully. "It's no odds to me if he has bushels of peanuts or nary a
one."

"But maybe it is odds to you," answered the other boy. "I ain't a
telltale; but Theodore Yorke's always buyin' peanuts off of your stand,
an' you can bet he comes away from that stand with a lot more peanuts
for two cents or five cents than any one of the rest of us does."

Jim turned sharply upon him.

"You don't mean Matty gives him over measure, Rob?" he said.

"She don't _give_ him over measure, but he gets over measure," replied
Rob; "an' I tell you 'cause I think it's a shame to be cheatin' you an'
the girl."

"What is it, then? Out with it!" exclaimed Jim. "I can see how she can
cheat him givin' him short measure if she likes, but I can't see how he
can cheat her gettin' _over_ measure."

"S'pose when she's measurin' out what he's asked for, he puts his hand
into the big basket on her other side, maybe more than once, too;
how'll that do for helping himself to long measure, hey?" said Robert.

"How do you know?" asked Jim, trying to control his rising fury until
he had all the facts.

"I've seen him do it more than once, an' more than twice," replied Rob.
"You know we live in the same house, and mostly come on to school
together, an' both him an' me is apt to stop for peanuts. And the first
time I saw him do that, taking out a handful extra for himself, was one
morning when I hadn't any money to buy; but he stopped in, and I staid
out, 'cause it was too kind of tantalizing to go in and smell 'em all
freshly roasted, and not get any; and I was looking in between the
posies and plants in the shop, and when Matty was filling up her
measure for him--only the two-center one--I saw him do that mean trick;
on a girl, too, and she a hunchback! He slipped his hand into the
basket, and carried it full to his dinner-basket. So after that I
watched, whether I went in or staid out; and he never lets a time go by
that he don't hook a handful, maybe two, if he gets the chance. You
see, that girl's got such a lot of thick hair hanging round her, it's
most like a thick veil, and would keep her from seeing what goes on
behind or by the side of her. I tell you, Jim, I guess with one time
and another he must have bagged two or three quarts of peanuts off of
you and the hunchback, and I couldn't let it go on any longer. This
very morning he bought two cents worth, and hooked as much as five."

Jim's indignation had grown higher and fiercer with every succeeding
word of this story; and, unfortunately, at this moment Theodore came
around a corner of the school-building upon the playground, and, as a
combination of ill luck would have it, he was eating peanuts, which he
extracted from a pocket whose bulging proportions showed that the stock
from which he was drawing was a large one.

The sight inflamed Jim's passion beyond all bounds; and he immediately
advanced upon Theodore in a manner and with a look which left no doubt
as to his purpose. The culprit dodged the first blow aimed at him; but
in another instant Jim's hand was upon his collar, while, with language
which was neither choice nor mild, he struck him several times, and
would have continued the blows had he not in his turn been seized upon
by one of the masters, who had seen the whole thing, to whom it
appeared to be the most unprovoked attack.

Jim's fury had so passed beyond restraint, that for a moment neither
the sight of the teacher nor his stern voice calling him to order had
the effect of bringing him to his senses; and he even turned upon the
gentleman himself, probably believing for the moment that it was one of
the other boys. His crestfallen, mortified look when he was recalled to
himself did not help him in the estimation of the teacher, who took it
as a sign of guilt; while Theodore, once freed from his assailant,
stood by as the martyr and peaceable boy who would not strike a blow,
even in self-defence. Rob, meanwhile, frightened by the consequences of
his disclosures to Jim, slunk off without waiting to bear testimony to
the provocation which Jim believed himself to have received.

Jim was "reported," of course, and punished; and the knowledge that
this must come to the ears of Miss Milly and Mr. Rutherford did not
tend to soothe his anger, nor did he feel that his desire for vengeance
was yet satisfied. As he had been deprived of his recess, however, he
had no immediate opportunity of gratifying it; and when school was
over, the principal, who was a just though strict man, and who was
particularly interested in uncle Rutherford's scheme and the two rivals
for his prize, called both Jim and Theodore before him, and inquired
into the cause of the disturbance.

Now, Theodore was perfectly well aware of this, for Jim had not failed
to make use of his tongue as well as his fists, and he knew that in
some way his petty and oft-repeated thefts had come to light; but he
was not going to confess his own iniquities, and Jim was what Rob
Stevens, with less reason, had asserted himself to be,--"no telltale."

He rather sulkily replied, to the questions of the principal, that
"Theodore knew, and could tell if he liked;" but Theodore doggedly
declared that he had given and knew of no cause of offence, and that
the attack had been entirely without reason.

As Jim could not be persuaded to bring any accusation other than the
scornful, ferocious looks with which he regarded Theodore; while
Theodore himself was evidently uneasy and fearful lest his antagonist
should speak the truth,--Mr. Rollins was convinced that the latter was
really, in some way, to blame. But of course he could not punish him
without reason; while Jim had been caught red-handed, and must, at
least, be reprimanded and warned. The gentleman told him that he
forfeited his recess for a week, and that, if he trespassed again in
this manner, he would be degraded to a lower class.

Jim received his sentence in silence; but when Mr. Rollins spoke of the
penalty to follow future offending, his ruddy face blanched. _That_
meant not only disgrace in the school, but, what was far worse to him,
before Miss Milly and Mr. Rutherford, and the lessening of his "chance"
with the latter, and Theodore's preferment above him.

As the boys were dismissed from the tribunal of justice, and turned
away, Mr. Rollins caught a glance of gratified malice which Theodore
cast at the other boy; and he was more than ever persuaded that there
was something behind all this, and that Theodore was, perhaps, the one
who was the most to blame.

They had reached the door, when Jim turned, and, coming back to the
desk of the principal, said in a low tone, "Thank you, sir, for not
puttin' any thing more on me than the recess. I don't mind that so
much, an' I'll try hard not to break rules again; but _you_ can't tell
how hard it is not to get mad when the mad lies so near the top, an'
you're gettin'"--"cheated" would have been the next word, but Jim
checked himself ere it was spoken.

"Do I not, my boy?" answered the gentleman: then seeing that Theodore
was lingering at the door as if anxious to hear what passed, he said to
him, with something of sternness in his voice, born of the doubt as to
which of the two boys was the greater culprit, "Go on, sir, you have no
need to wait;" adding to himself, "That boy has a guilty conscience."
Then, when Theodore had closed the door behind him, he turned again to
Jim, and continued, "You are mistaken, Jim, if you think I do not know
what it is to struggle with a quick temper."

"You, sir?" said Jim.

"Yes, I," answered Mr. Rollins; and then he followed with the story of
his own struggles with a passionate temper, and the final victory over
himself, with much good advice and encouragement to Jim. Encouraged the
boy certainly did feel, as he left the presence of the master,
fortified with new resolutions for the future.

But master Theodore was not to escape without his share of punishment.

As his own ill luck would have it,--perhaps it would be better to say,
as a righteous retribution would have it,--as he was on his way home
from school, and was crossing the park on which our house fronted, he
fell in with three or four of his classmates, among them Rob Stevens,
the witness of his thefts.

"What have you done with Jim?" asked one of the boys.

"He's getting it from the commander-in-chief," said Theodore
exultantly. "He's lost his recess for a week, and is to be put down to
class four if he gets into another of his rages, as he's sure to do;
and now he's taking no end of a blowing-up. The commander sent me out
so I wouldn't hear it. Good enough for him. I hope he'll get it hot and
heavy."

"What did _you_ get?" asked Rob.

"What did I get? Nothing; why should I?" responded Theodore, who had
not the slightest idea of the way by which Jim had learned of his
thefts, or that here was his accuser.

"Didn't you tell why Jim pitched into you when you saw he was gettin'
held up for it?" asked Rob.

"No!" roared Theodore, partly in fear, partly in anger, for he now
could not fail to see that Rob knew _something_, but how much he could
not tell. "I hadn't any thing to tell, and hadn't done any thing to
Jim,--to his high-mightiness Jim Grant Garfield Rutherford Livingstone
Washington, the fellow with a whole dictionary-full of names, and not a
right to one of them but the Jim. I just wish he would get into a dozen
tantrums, till he gets expelled from the school."

"Nothin' mean about you, is there?" said one of the other boys
indignantly, although he was still ignorant of the cause of Jim's
provocation.

But this was too much for Rob.

The boys had neared the fountain in the centre of the park. At this
season, it was never or seldom playing; but some repairs had been found
necessary, and the workmen had had the jet in action for some hours,
and the large basin around it was full of water. The boys stopped
beside it, not noticing a tall figure which sat upon one of the park
benches near.

"Nothing mean about _him_!" repeated Rob in a loud voice, which might
easily be heard on the other side of the fountain, "nothing mean about
Theodore Yorke! He's the meanest sneak in our school, or out of it,
either! I'll tell you why Jim pitched into him. He's been stealing
peanuts off of Jim's stand when the little hunchback's head was turned.
I saw him, more than once, and I wasn't going to have it any longer; so
I told Jim, and I'd just told him of it when Theodore came on eating
peanuts, the very ones, for all I know, that I saw him steal this
morning; and no wonder Jim's spirit was up, and he pitched into him. I
wish he'd had it out with him, too, before Mr. Leeds came up. If he was
going to be punished, he might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.
And Jim's never said a word, I s'pose, or let on what he did it for;
and you let him take all the blame. Bah! I wouldn't be you, for a
cart-load of peanuts!"

"You didn't see me, either. I don't know what you're talking about!"
stammered Theodore, so taken aback by the damaging testimony of this
unexpected witness of his sin, that he lost all self-possession, and
his looks proclaimed him guilty of the offence with which he was
charged.

Uprose from the bench beyond the group the figure sitting there, and,
striding towards the still unobservant boys, laid one hand upon
Theodore's collar, the other on that of Rob; and the startled Theodore
looked up into the stern, set face of his grandfather.

"Have I heerd aright?" said the old man in his righteous wrath. "Have I
heerd my gran'son called a thief, an' a sneak, what let a boy like Jim
be blamed for doin' what he had a right to do, if what this 'ere feller
says is true?--Kin ye prove it?" turning to Rob, while he still kept a
tight hold on either boy.

"Yes, I can," said Rob, maintaining his ground, although he was a
little frightened by the captain's looks and tones; and once more he
rehearsed the story in all its details.

By this time several persons, attracted by the somewhat unusual
spectacle of an old man holding two boys by their collars, had stopped
to hear what was going on; and there were symptoms of a crowd. Seeing
this from afar, a policeman bore down upon the scene,--the very one who
had had the dispute with the captain as to the propriety of Daisy
playing peanut-vender on the street-corner.

As he came near, Captain Yorke released his hold upon Rob's collar;
then tightening that upon Theodore's, the still stalwart old seaman
lifted the boy from his feet, and, stepping close to the basin of the
fountain, plunged him over his head in the icy water. The day had been
a mild one, sunny and bright, for spring was in the air; but the water
was still sufficiently cold to make such a sudden plunge any thing but
pleasant, and this summary method of punishment, well deserved though
most of the spectators knew it to be, was not to be tolerated in such a
public place. So thought the policeman who now came running up, as the
captain, having given his grandson three good dips, lifted him dripping
and shivering from the basin, and placed him upon his feet.

[Illustration: "PLUNGED HIM OVER HIS HEAD IN THE ICY
                WATER."--_Page_ 214.]

"What's this?" asked the officer, who had long since made his peace
with the old man, who was wont to hang about the park, and in the
vicinity of our house, and who amused him vastly with his comments upon
men and things in the city. "What are you up to now, captain?"

"Givin' this boy a duckin'; an' if I told ye what for, I donno but ye'd
be for takin' of him up," answered the captain, disregarding all
considerations of parental or family pride. "If ye fin' me a meaner one
nor he is in this big town, I'll duck him, too, an' keep him under till
he begs an' swears he'll mend his ways.--Now, git along home, sir," to
the shaking Theodore. "I'd willin' pay for two suits of clo's to have
the satisfaction of givin' ye yer desarvins, though I don't know as
ye've got 'em yet. Git!"

Theodore, only too glad to obey, sped away like the wind; while the
captain, as the policeman was about to interfere further, turned to the
officer, and, taking him by the arm, as if he were going to arrest
_him_, repeated in a friendly tone, "He's had no more than his
desarvin's,--young scamp; an' them's my opinions. I'll tell ye."

"But what are you about, ducking that boy in a public fountain?" asked
the officer, doubtful what course to pursue with the old original.
"Don't you know such a thing is a breach of the public peace?"

"I don't know nothin' about your breaches," said the old veteran, no
whit disturbed; "but I knows I got a right to duck that boy where'er
I've a min' to. He's my gran'son,--more shame to me,--an' a little
water ain't goin' to hurt him. His fam'ly's used to water,--good salt
water, too," with a contemptuous look at the fluid in the fountain
basin, "an' if I could wash the meanness outer him, I'd duck him a
dozen times a day. Come along."

And still with his hand upon the policeman's arm, the captain turned
away with him, soon satisfying the guardian of the peace that this was
no case for arrest. Barney agreed that he had the right to take the law
into his own hands, although this was hardly the place for him to do
so.

Of course Theodore's thefts, and the story of the grandfather's summary
punishment, went the rounds of the school the next morning, and it soon
reached the ears of the teachers and principal; and Theodore was called
up again before the latter, this time to receive a far sterner
reprimand than had been bestowed upon Jim. As the offence had been
committed out of school bounds and school hours, the punishment for it
did not lie within the jurisdiction of Mr. Rollins; but, in addition to
that which he had received from his grandfather, it was meted out to
him on the school premises. From that time he acquired the _sobriquet_
of "Peanuts,"--a name which, short as it was, attracted far more
derision and notice than that of Jim Grant Garfield Rutherford
Livingstone Washington.

And Jim, for his silence before the principal, his heroic determination
to "tell no tales," was more of a favorite than ever.

Whether this tended to lessen Theodore's animosity toward him, or to
soften the standing feud between them, may be judged.

The contempt and dislike which the school generally entertained for
Theodore were brought to their height, when the edict was promulgated
that peanuts should be no longer brought within bounds. Being a
forbidden fruit, they at once acquired a value and desirableness even
beyond that which they had possessed before. By some unexplained
process of reasoning, the authorities had arrived at the conclusion
that they were the cause of the late disturbance; and so they were
tabooed, much to the displeasure of the boys, who, beside the
deprivation to themselves, considered Jim a victim, as the order, of
necessity, in a measure lessened his sales.



CHAPTER XI.

FIVE DOLLARS.


Dear old Mrs. Yorke had improved rapidly under the care of the
specialist who was treating her case; but she was ill at ease in her
city quarters, partly because she was unaccustomed to her surroundings,
partly because she was never certain, when the captain was away from
her, that he was not doing some unheard-of thing which might bring him
into a serious predicament. And now here was this trouble between Jim,
of whom she and the captain were so proud and so fond, and her
grandson, and the disgrace of the latter; so that just now her bed was
not one of roses, and she longed for the quiet and peace of her simple
seaside home.

"If Adam would but go home, and take the boy with him," she sighed to
Mammy one day, "I could be easy in my mind, for I know that Jabez and
Matilda Jane and Mary would look after him well, and he would be out of
harm's way; but now I wouldn't be a bit surprised if some day he turned
up in the police-court, just for doin' something he thought was no
harm, but that is against city rules. His ways and city folks' ways
ain't alike. An' there's the boy, an' what he's done; all the school
learnin' in the world ain't goin' to pay for such a shame. No, you
needn't say it was on'y a boyish trick; you on'y say that to make me
more easy like; an' with thanks all the same to Governor Rutherford,
I'd a sight rather he'd left Theodore down to the Point, an' out of the
way of such temptations as he gets here. An' when they once begin that
way as boys, you never know where they'll end. No, no; I wish Adam and
the boy were home."

Poor Mrs. Yorke! She had, indeed, too much reason to dread the after
results of "once beginning that way;" for Theodore seemed likely to
follow in the footsteps of his good-for-nothing father.

Uncle Rutherford, of course, heard of the peanut episode, and expressed
a fitting censure on Theodore's conduct, both to our family and to the
boy himself; but we said among ourselves, that he not only appeared to
endorse, but to enjoy, Jim's swift, passionate punishment of Theodore,
and he escaped with a very slight reproof, if, indeed, the few words he
said to him concerning the matter could be called reproof; and Milly
felt no fear that he had lost ground with uncle Rutherford.

Fortunately the captain, knowing little or nothing of the streets, was
given, when by himself, to haunting our neighborhood and the park
opposite; so that he came much under the notice and patronage of the
friendly policeman, whose daily beat was in that quarter, and who kept
him on many an occasion from going astray, or making a spectacle of
himself.

The captain had sought out Rob Stevens, insisted that he should tell
him just how many times he had seen Theodore steal peanuts from Matty,
and, so far as he could judge, to what amount each time; then counting
up what he supposed them to be worth, which he put at an enormously
high valuation--the honest old man!--that he might be sure to err on
the right side, he forced Theodore to go with him to the stand, and pay
Matty for the stolen fruit. He endeavored, too, to make him apologize
to Jim, both for the theft of his property, and also for his
contemptible meanness in keeping silent on the occasion of Jim's attack
on the playground. But here he was powerless: Theodore absolutely and
doggedly refused to do it; and his grandfather was obliged to content
himself with relieving his own feelings, and further expressing his
sentiments on the boy's conduct, by giving him a severe flogging.

Spring was upon us now; an early, mild, and beautiful spring. Day after
day of sunny delicious weather succeeded one another; the children came
home from their walks or drives in the Central Park, in ecstasies over
the robins, blue-birds, and squirrels they had seen. In the woods at
Oaklands,--whither father went once or twice a week to have an eye upon
his improvements and preparations for the summer,--spring-beauties,
hepaticas, and anemones, and even a few early violets, were showing
their lovely faces; and all young things--ah, and the older ones
too--were rejoicing that the "winter was past and gone."

With the advent of the mild weather, Matty's stand had been removed out
of doors and beneath the shelter of Johnny Petersen's shop; and this
situation proved more profitable than it had been within, as many a
charitable passer-by, seeing the pitiful figure and pinched face of the
poor child, would stop to purchase. During the hours of the day when
the sun was warm and bright, her surroundings were not much less
attractive than they had been within; for the glass sashes of the
little flower-store were generally wide open behind her, while Johnny
frequently brought forth some of his plants for an airing upon the
sidewalk.

As his custom increased with the warm weather, and people came for
potted plants and so forth for their gardens and windows, Johnny
occasionally found it necessary to be away for a few hours buying new
stock at the larger greenhouses and markets; and when Mrs. Petersen did
not find it convenient to take his place in the shop, he depended upon
Tony to keep watch, and make small sales for him. The lame boy was
bright and apt; and Johnny had drilled him well as to prices and so
forth, and found him a tolerably satisfactory substitute during his own
times of absence.

One would have thought that Theodore Yorke would have avoided the
neighborhood of the peanut-stand after his exposure and disgrace; but
it was not so. His grandfather had cut short the small amount of
pocket-money which he had occasionally given him, and he was now left
penniless, and so no more visited the place as a customer; but he
seemed to take a delight in hanging around it, and annoying Matty and
Tony, who were now on their guard, and watched him unceasingly. Tony
and he frequently exchanged sundry compliments not suited to ears
polite; and Johnny, if he saw him, would come out and drive him away.
The shop was absolutely forbidden ground to him; within it he was not
suffered to set a foot.

One bright afternoon when Johnny Petersen happened to be away, and Tony
was in charge, Theodore came sauntering up to the stand, to the great
dissatisfaction of the children. Matty was in her usual seat behind her
table; Tony seated on the low door-step of the store, his crutches
lying on the ground beside him and within reach of his hand.

Theodore came up, glanced into the store, and, seeing that the master
was absent, addressed himself to the amiable amusement of teasing and
worrying those who were too helpless to defend themselves.

"Me an' Matty's lookin' out for ye, an' ye needn't come roun' to be
stealin' no more peanuts," said Tony at length, "an' I'll call the M.
P. if you comes too close to the stand. We ain't goin' to stan' no
foolin', we ain't; an' Jim told us you don't have a cent of money now,
so you ain't come to buy with one hand an' help yourself with t'other.
It'd be helpin' yourself with both; so clear out!"

"I ain't comin' near your old peanuts," said Theodore; "an' they ain't
yours, anyway."

This style of converse continued for some minutes, growing more and
more personal each instant; till at last Theodore said to Matty, who,
according to her usual custom, had remained perfectly silent,--

"If I had such a cushion on my back as yours, I wouldn't make it bigger
piling such a heap of hair on it. You look like a barber's-shop show
figger. I wonder you don't sell yourself for a show figger. You'd look
so pretty an' smart."

Matty only gave him one of her most vicious looks, and clinched her
small claw-like hands as though they longed to be at him; but Tony
answered for her.

"They don't get no such hair to the barbers' shops without payin' lots
for it," he shouted; "an' she ain't no need to make a figger of
herself. She can sell it for a heap of money,--five dollars, if she
chooses,--Mr. Petersen says so, an' Jim says so, too. But she ain't
a-goin' to have it cut off; she likes it too much, an' the ladies likes
it, Jim's ladies do, an' they telled her to leave it hang down, an' one
on 'em give her a blue dress to make it look purtier on it; an' she's
give her lots of things more. An' they've give me lots of things, too;
the ole un she give me a whole suit for Easter, an' me an' Matty looked
as good as any of 'em. An' Jim says--now you keep off," as Theodore
drew nearer, "you keep off, or I'll call the M.P. He ain't so fur."

"Oh, you will, will you?" said Theodore; "you've got to catch him
first, and me, too, old Hippity-hop," and with a kick he sent both
crutches far beyond the reach of the lame boy, then, with a derisive
laugh, ran off. And there Tony sat, helpless and unable to pursue, till
a compassionate passer-by brought him the crutches; for Matty could not
stoop for them. Had the old captain seen this cowardly, contemptible
deed, he would probably have thought that all the waters of all the
oceans could not "wash the meanness" from the soul of his grandson.

For the rest of that day and for the next, and for two or three
succeeding ones, Theodore's thoughts dwelt much upon this last
interview with the two cripples; but do not let it be thought, with any
disquieting reproaches from his conscience, or any feeling of remorse.
To him, all that had passed was a mere nothing, not worth a second
thought, save for the one idea which had made a deep impression on him.

That hair of Matty's, that mass of beautiful, shining hair, which even
his boyish, unpractised eye could see was something uncommon,--worth
five dollars; it was impossible! And yet could it be? If "Jim's ladies"
thought it so beautiful, it might be that it was worth a good deal of
money. What fools, then, were Matty and Tony, the one for keeping it
upon her head, the other for not persuading her to part with it, and
taking a share of the money for himself! In all his life Theodore had
never had so much money; and his mean, selfish soul at once set itself
to devise means by which one--he did not yet, even to his own thoughts,
say himself--could gain possession of the girl's hair.

He had heard of girls being robbed, in the street, of their hair; but
that would never do here with Matty, no, not even though he had an
accomplice to help him. And he knew of no one to whom he could even
suggest such a thing; for he had no acquaintances in the city save the
boys in his school; and to no one of them could he or would he dare to
propose it, although he knew that there were among them some who were
none too scrupulous to do a shabby thing if they thought they could
gain any advantage by it.

All this time I had vainly, as I thought, tried to gain any influence
over Matty. She took my gifts, it is true, and wore or otherwise made
use of them; but she never showed the slightest token of pleasure in
them, or uttered one word of acknowledgment, and she was still entirely
unresponsive to any other advances on my part. It was Tony, bright,
jolly little Tony, who thanked me with real Irish effusion, always
greeted me with the broadest of smiles, and testified his gratitude and
appreciation of my efforts for Matty's welfare by various small
offerings, till I really wished I had chosen him to befriend instead of
that hopeless subject, his sister. It became quite a little family
joke, as almost every evening when he and Matty came to deliver the
day's earnings to Jim--for it was not considered safe for them to carry
the money to their own home--he brought also some small token for
"Jim's second young lady," whereby I was understood; now a couple of
daisies, a rose, or two or three violets, or a few sprigs of
mignonnette, begged from Dutch Johnny; now a bird's nest, manufactured
by himself out of twine and a few twigs; and once a huge turnip which
he had seen fall from a market-cart as it passed on its way down the
avenue, and picking it up, after vainly trying to make the carter hear,
had laid it aside as a suitable gift for me; and another time he
brought for my acceptance a hideous, miserable, half-starved kitten,
which, as I was known by the servants to have a horror of cats, was
declined for me both by Jim and Thomas, greatly to Tony's mortification
and disappointment.

At the Easter festival, when he and Matty had "looked as good as
anybody," to his mind, each child in the Sunday school had been
presented with a small pot of pansies; and Tony, instead of taking his
home, had come from the church to our house, and, asking for me by his
usual title of "Jim's second young lady," had shyly presented his
Easter token.

Yes, I would fain have made an exchange, and taken Tony as my charge;
but pride, and the recollection of Milly's fear that I would not
persevere with Matty, forbade.

I had thought over all manner of plans for removing both children from
the influence of their wretched home and drunken parents; but most of
these were pronounced by the more experienced to be visionary and not
feasible. So they still continued to return to them at night, although,
"weather fair or weather foul, weather wet or weather dry," they never
failed to be present at their post as early as possible in the morning.

Miss Craven and I had taken from Jim the charge of providing the
cripples' dinner; and for a trifling sum Mrs. Petersen, who had no
children of her own, gave them that meal and their supper in her room,
so that in many respects they were far better off than they had been.

But still there seemed no loop-hole where I could insert a wedge for
Matty's moral regeneration; she appeared to remain hard, impenetrable,
and suspicious.

The story of the "ducking" had, of course, been graphically rehearsed
by those of the schoolboys who had witnessed it, to those who had not;
and there were but few, if any, who did not enjoy the recital of
Theodore's punishment and disgrace. And from that time Captain Yorke
had become a marked figure with the boys. Before this, he had not been
known to many of them; but now he was pointed out by the few who had
been present at the scene at the fountain, as the Spartan grandfather
who had not hesitated to deal out punishment to his own flesh and
blood, when it seemed to him that justice demanded it. He was often to
be seen now in the park, the centre of an admiring and appreciative
group, to whom he related thrilling adventures which were his own
experience as a sailor and a surfman, holding his audience spell-bound,
not only by their interest in the subject, but also by his quaint and
simple manner of telling.

Among this audience one day, were the two boys who had been present at
the theatre on the night when the captain had made such an exhibition
of himself; and they recognized him at once. Of course, it was soon
spread about that he was the hero of that adventure; and the next
morning at school, Jim was asked if he had not known it. Acknowledging
this, it was then inquired _why_ he had not "got even with Theodore,"
by turning the laugh on him, and telling that it was his grandfather
who had made himself a laughingstock.

"'Cause I wasn't goin' back on the old captain," answered sturdy, loyal
Jim. "He's stood up for me, an' been a good friend; an' I ain't goin'
to point him out for to be laughed at, not if he is Theodore's
grandfather."

He expected to be laughed at in his turn, and stood with defiance and
"laugh if you choose" in his air.

But no one laughed or jeered: somehow his steadfastness struck a chord
in most of those boyish hearts; and Rob Stevens, clapping him on the
shoulder, exclaimed,--

"And 'tain't the first time he's held his tongue, either, is it,
Peanuts? We'll all vote for the feller that stan's by his friends an'
don't go back on 'em. Three cheers for President Jim Washington!"

And if a voice there was silent, save Theodore Yorke's, it was not
noticed in the number which responded.

School-life having by this time rubbed off some of his _freshness_, Jim
had learned that it would be to his own advantage to discard several
from the string of names which he had seen fit to adopt on his
entrance; and he now contented himself with signing his name James R.
L. Washington, which appeared upon all his books and any thing else to
which he could lay claim.

After the manner of those who have fixed their minds upon that to which
they have no right, the more the unprincipled Theodore thought of the
mint of money, as he called it, upon Matty's head, the more he wished
that he could find the means to possess himself of the material to be
so easily turned into that money; and he finally arranged a plan which
he thought both practicable and safe.

"Matildy Jane," whose theory it was that there were no articles of diet
in New York "fit for plain folks to eat," and who believed that her
father and mother would return home only to die victims to indigestion
brought on by high living, had sent, by the hands of a friend who came
to the city, a large basket of apple turnovers and ginger cookies, in
order that her parents might have "a taste of home cookin'."

Slyly possessing himself of two of these turnovers and sundry cookies,
Theodore thought to make his peace with Tony and Matty by bestowing
them upon them, as an equivalent for the stolen peanuts; and having
ascertained when Dutch Johnny was off on another purchasing expedition,
and Tony left in charge, he hurried home, and came back to the
florist's shop with these delectable viands.

No sooner did Tony see him than he warned him off, threatening to call
the police if Theodore came any nearer; but the latter hastened to
propitiate him by holding up the turnovers and saying,--

"Oh, I came to make up. Don't make a row."

Now, if there was any thing in which the soul of Tony delighted, it was
an apple pasty of any shape or dimensions; and the tempter had
unwittingly chosen his bait well.

Tony's threats and denunciations ceased, and he sat staring at the
proffered treat; while Theodore, seeing it was taking effect, drew a
few steps nearer.

"Don't you want 'em?" he said. "I've got one for you, and one for
Matty; and I've got some ginger-cakes, too."

Warned by past experience, Tony grasped his crutches, and, still
expecting some trick, sat dubious, with his eyes fixed as if fascinated
upon the coveted dainties, but still more than half inclined to call to
the policeman, whom he saw upon the upper corner.

"Oh, come now!" repeated Theodore; "make up. Don't you want 'em?
They're first-rate."

The temptation proved irresistible; and, rising to his feet, Tony went
toward his whilom antagonist in order to prevent him from coming too
near the stand, accepted one of the turnovers, looked at it on all
sides, smelled of it, and finally set his teeth deliberately but with
caution into it; then turned, and looked inquiringly at Matty.

"Pisen!" uttered that little sceptic, still unconvinced that treachery
did not lurk behind these demonstrations of friendship.

Ay, poison indeed! but not in the sense poor Matty meant. Nor would she
accept the other turnover or the ginger-cakes, or look at or speak to
Theodore; but sat gazing afar off as if into vacancy, her face
perfectly expressionless, although Tony, now completely won over, sat
eating his with the utmost gusto.

Meanwhile Theodore, having turned over the whole contents of his
pockets, talked in a friendly way, leading gradually up to the matter
in his mind; although he was afraid to linger long, lest Johnny should
return, or some one come by who would wonder at seeing amicable
relations established between himself and Tony.

"Been makin' good sales to-day?" he asked at length; but this put Tony
on his guard again at once.

"Now you let peanuts alone; they ain't none of your business," he said,
his mouth full of ginger-cake.

"I ain't goin' to touch your peanuts," said the older boy. "I just
asked. Jim's makin' an uncommon good thing out of this peanut-stand
with you and Matty to run it for him, an' I hear you're doin'
first-rate. But--don't I know something about Jim!"

"So do I, lots," answered Tony, as well as he could speak.

"You don't know what I know; and Jim wouldn't want you to," said the
bad boy. "It's his secret, and a monstrous one, too; but I know it, and
I'm goin' to tell it, too."

"I sha'n't listen to it," said Tony.

"Ho! I don't want you to. It's not you I mean to tell," said Theodore.
"It's the police."

"Jim ain't done nothin' for the perlice," said Tony furiously. "The
perlice likes him, an' wouldn't do nothin' to him."

"Ha! You wait and see," said Theodore; "they've got to when I tell 'em.
It's a secret on Jim an' one of his young ladies, Miss Amy there, that
gives Matty her clo's an' things. He'll feel awful to have himself an'
Miss Amy told on, and the police will go for 'em when they know it; but
nothin' ain't goin' to put me off talkin' without I was paid for it, as
much as five dollars, too."

"What they done?" asked Tony, curiosity and alarm for his friends
getting the better of his aversion to discuss the subject with
Theodore.

Theodore came nearer, and making Tony promise with the most solemn
asseverations that he would not repeat, and would not suffer Matty to
repeat, to any one, what he told him, said,--

"They had some poisoning done, round to Mr. Livingstone's, an' Jim and
Miss Amy was mixed up in it. They did the poisoning; but 'twas found
out in time, an' their folks hushed it up. But _I_ know it, an' I'm
goin' to set the police on them unless some one would make it worth my
while not to. Five dollars would buy me off; but there's no one I know
of, would give me five dollars, so I'm goin' to tell."

Street Arab though he was, with his wits sharpened into preternatural
acuteness in some respects, in others Tony was guileless and easily
imposed upon; and for a moment he stared at Theodore in dismay, but
presently doubt and suspicion again obtained the upper hand.

"I don't take no stock in that," he said; "it's a lie, I know. I'll ask
Jim himself."

"If you let on to him what I've told you, I'll tell the police for
certain, whether or no," said Theodore; "but if anybody was to say
they'd give me five dollars, an' you don't tell Jim, I'll never say a
word."

And he walked away, leaving his words to take what effect they might.
That they had already taken effect, he saw, as Matty, who had not
spoken a word all this time, drew the beautiful, shining tresses in
front of her, and passed her skinny little hands lovingly over them.
Tony stood staring stupidly after him for a moment, then burst out at
him with a torrent of abuse and threats which Theodore did not deign to
answer.

That evening about dusk, when Tony and Matty came to our house to
render up the day's account to Jim, after they had settled business,
Tony asked in a mysterious whisper, and half as if he feared to put the
question,--

"Jim, tell us; has you got a secret you don't want any one to know?"

By the light of the gas-jet, beneath which they stood, in the basement
hall, Tony saw the color rush in a flood to Jim's face, and an angry
light came into his eye, as he answered roughly,--

"'Tain't none of your business if I have; you let my secrets alone."

Tony was a little frightened, but he persisted,--

"But tell us; did you and yer young lady, her what's good to us, did
you once get mixed up wid pisenin' some folks, an' it was kept dark
so's the----"

"Now you shut up an' clear out quick, you little rascal!" shouted Jim
furiously. "If you come Paul Pryin' round here, a-tryin' to find out my
secrets, me an' you will fall out, an' you'll get no more help from
Miss Amy nor me. Clear!"

But Tony, alas! was answered; and the crestfallen little cripple
shuffled out from the presence of the offended head of the peanut firm
as fast as possible; Jim putting his head out of the door, and shouting
after them, still in the most irate tones,--

"Now you let me an' Miss Amy an' all my folks alone, or there'll be
trouble, sure!" then slammed the door after them.

In silence they went up the street, but not immediately home: they had
other business to attend to first.



CHAPTER XII.

CAUGHT IN THE ACT.


Johnny Petersen looked in surprise, consternation, and wrath when the
two little cripples entered his shop the next morning, shamefaced and
sheepish, as if they expected to be called to account for something.

And he did not lose time in making known the cause of his displeasure,
could they, indeed, have had any doubt on that question.

Matty's hair was gone, cut close to her head, almost shaved off; and
the loss of it gave the poor little face a more wizened, pinched, and
unnatural expression than ever. The effect was perfectly startling, and
repulsive in the extreme; and after staring at the child for a moment,
and all but dropping the flower-pot he held in his hands, he broke
forth into a torrent of words, mingling German and broken English in a
manner which made them all but incomprehensible to the poor little
ones. But they knew well enough what brought them forth, and they had
no explanation to offer. It was their secret, and must remain a secret,
so they thought, if the sacrifice were to be worth any thing.

Naturally, Johnny laid the blame of the transformation on the debased
parents, whom he knew to be capable of any deed, no matter how shameful
or cruel, if thereby they could obtain the means to procure liquor.
Tony and Matty gathered, from the jargon which he sputtered forth, that
this was his idea; and they were quite satisfied to have it so, for no
sentiments of filial affection moved them to enlighten him.

And it was not only the loss of that wealth of hair which made Matty
look far worse than she had ever done before. She had not on the decent
garments she had worn for some time past, but was in the ragged and
soiled clothes which she had of late worn only when she went home at
night, discarding them in the morning when she stopped at Mrs.
Petersen's and put on the better ones which had been given to her. To
all Petersen's questions she opposed a sullen silence; although she
hung her head, and appeared embarrassed, which she was not apt to be.

But Tony, with his jolly little face clouded over, appeared really
distressed, and looked from his sister to the florist and back again in
a distraught, helpless sort of way, which quite touched the heart of
the kind old Dutchman; but neither from him could Johnny's rather
incoherent questions draw forth any satisfaction, and the children both
were glad when the entrance of a customer drew Johnny's attention for
the time from themselves.

But the situation did not improve for the two little unfortunates when
Mrs. Petersen, uneasy that they had not appeared at her rooms for the
usual change of clothing, came bustling up to know if her husband could
tell her any thing of them; and, not a little astonished to find Matty
at her post and Tony also at his, plied them anew with questions in
English rather better than her husband's, and to which it was more
difficult to avoid giving straightforward replies. But she gained as
little as he had done, and she, too, took it for granted that either
the father or mother had deprived the little hunchback of her hair.

The truth was, that the children had not cared to face her with the
change in Matty's appearance, and hence had concluded to come to the
day's business in their old clothes.

But Mrs. Petersen, energetic and stirring, was not going to let the
matter rest thus, but was determined to probe it to the bottom if
possible, and declared that she was going at once to see the mother,
and call her to account. Whether she had some vague idea of bringing
the supposed offenders to justice, or of restoring the lost locks to
Matty, I cannot tell; but just as she was leaving, Milly, Bessie, and
I, bound for an early trip to spend the day with a friend in the
country, whose birthday it was, came into the shop to purchase some
flowers.

The morning was damp and chilly, although there was the promise of a
fair day later on; and Matty's stand was placed inside when we entered
the shop, and the first thing our eyes rested upon was Matty's shorn
head. We all three leaped at once to the same conclusion with the
Petersens. But whether it was that I was more forcibly struck than the
others with the cruelty of the thing, from having something of a
fellow-feeling for Matty in the possession of a profuse quantity of
hair somewhat like her own, although, as she had said, hers had been
"purtier" than mine, despite the lack of the care which mine had always
received, or that I had less self-control over my emotions; certain it
is that I burst into a passion of tears and sobs, which astonished not
only the good florist and his wife, but also my own sister and friend.
I was ashamed of them, but could not control them; and perhaps it was
as well that I could not do so immediately, for those tears made their
way where all else had failed to effect an entrance; and, to my great
astonishment, Matty seized with both her hands upon mine, which in my
great pity and sympathy I had laid upon her shoulder, and, carrying it
to her face, laid her cheek upon it. The next instant she dropped it,
and sat looking down with the same stolid expression that she
ordinarily wore. Indeed, it had hardly changed even at the moment of
that most unusual demonstration, for no trace of any emotion had been
visible on the worn, old little face.

Tony was delighted, as pleased as though his sister had given evidence
of some wonderful talent, or performed some heroic action.

"She likes ye, miss," he exclaimed, "an' I allus knowed she did, though
she wouldn't let on. She likes ye fust rate, though she wor kinder
back'ard 'bout lettin' on. Now don't ye like the lady, Matty? If she
hadn't liked ye lots, miss, she wouldn't er----" Here he checked
himself with a frightened, embarrassed look, and rushing out of the
little store, applied himself vigorously to the turning of his empty,
tireless peanut-roaster.

But not a word, and not another token of any thing like feeling, was to
be drawn from Matty. The rock had hardened again, and to all
appearances no softening influences could be brought to bear upon it.
It was not until Mrs. Petersen again expressed her positive intention
of going to call the elder Blairs to account, and was about to start
off for that purpose, that the child roused herself again, and turned,
with something of apprehension in her expression, to look for Tony,
who, having discovered that he was working aimlessly, was making ready
to kindle his charcoal and fill his roaster.

"I go to dat mutter an' fader; I gif dem some pieces of my mi-int,"
said Mrs. Petersen, as she turned toward the door; but Milly stopped
her.

"Do not, please, Mrs. Petersen," she said, in a tone too low to reach
Matty's ear. "It will only make trouble for yourself and us. We cannot
give poor Matty back her beautiful hair; and if you vex those dreadful
people, it will only put fresh difficulties in the way of persuading
them to give up the children."

"I tell dem my mi-int," persisted Mrs. Petersen; but finally she was
persuaded to listen to reason and to satisfy herself with relieving her
"mi-int."

My idea had been to induce Mrs. Petersen and Johnny--or Mrs. Petersen
rather, for Johnny was sure to follow her lead, to take Matty and Tony
under their care, and give them a home. Cousin Serena had offered to
furnish the means for Tony's support, and I to do the same for Matty.
But the florist and his wife had been unwilling to undertake the
charge, even if the parents could be bribed to give up the children,
lest they should be exposed to trouble in the future; therefore the
Blairs had not yet been approached on the subject. I was for taking
high-handed measures, and having the children separated from them on
the ground of neglect and cruelty; but wiser and less impulsive heads
than mine had decided that there was hardly sufficient reason for this,
and I had been obliged to restrain my impatience and content myself
with such alleviations of their lot as I could compass at present. I am
not patient by nature, and could not bear to have any delay or
hinderances put in the way of my schemes for the benefit of those
children, and in secret I chafed a little over this.

It will readily be surmised what had become of Matty's hair.

Doubting the truth of Theodore's story, and yet fearing that there
might be some foundation for it, Tony had confided to his sister that
he meant to ask Jim about it, notwithstanding Theodore's warning to
beware how he did so. Jim's anger at the questions he had put,
especially at that regarding the "poisoning," had been enough to
convince him that it was all true. Jim _had_ a secret which he was
afraid to have known; and that secret could be nothing more nor less
than the alleged poisoning, which he plainly could not or would not
deny; and which, according to ignorant little Tony's ideas, he was
afraid to have come to the ears of the police. Theodore had learned of
that unfortunate occurrence--as we heard later when all this came to
light--through the medium of a stray copy of the objectionable paper
containing the paragraph before referred to. This he had happened to
read to his grandfather and grandmother, who, proud of his ability to
do this far better than they could do it for themselves--for reading
with Captain and Mrs. Yorke was a work of time and difficulty,
involving more pains-taking than pleasure--often set him to amuse them
in this way in the evening.

"Madison Avenue" to Captain Yorke was comprised in the block on which
our house was situated; and the curiosity of the old man being
insatiable, he had never rested until he had located the house. By dint
of questioning Thomas and the other servants, he soon learned all there
was to know, and was greatly excited and very wrathy when he heard the
truth. He repeated this to his wife and grandson, bidding them never to
say a word about it, as the family had been much annoyed and
displeased. Theodore, however, had once ventured to ask Jim about the
matter, and had been met by such a burst of fury that he had never
ventured to speak of it again to him. Not for fear of offending Jim,
however, but because he dreaded the anger of his grandfather, should
Jim complain, as he threatened to do, to the old man; for Jim would
have told in this case on my account.

But it answered Theodore's purpose when he set himself to work to
devise means to obtain the five dollars he coveted. He had aroused the
fears of these ignorant children for those who had been kind to them,
and having been convinced by Jim's behavior that it was all true, Tony
had proposed what indeed had been in Matty's mind before, that she
should sell her hair, and so buy Theodore's silence. Matty had agreed;
and that morning, before they had made their appearance at the
florist's, they had gone to a barber's, and, with small worldly wisdom,
Tony had demanded if he would give five dollars for Matty's hair.

Gazing with astonishment and delight at the mine of wealth displayed
for his approbation, the barber drew the long silky tresses through his
fingers, and closed the bargain at once, as well he might, supposing
him to be possessed of neither heart nor conscience. Matty's head was
expeditiously shorn, and the proceeds of the unrighteous sale were put
into Tony's hands; for he had appeared as the speaking partner
throughout the transaction, Matty maintaining the usual impassive,
sullen silence, so seldom broken save for her brother and the
Petersens.

The next thing to do was to see Theodore and to hand him the money; and
being in haste to do this before he should have time to give the
dreaded information to the police, Tony went to the boarding-place
which was his home at present, Matty waiting for her brother on the
neighboring corner, and asked for Theodore.

Now, this proceeding, as it proved, brought swift detection and
punishment upon the young blackmailer.

Theodore had not remembered to guard against the children coming to the
house; indeed, he had not thought of his rascally scheme bearing fruit
at all so soon.

Happily for the frustration of that scheme, Theodore was out, having
been sent on an errand by his grandfather; and the old captain himself,
who was lounging on the front steps, was the one who first met the lame
boy. Tony, who was not able to read numbers, had not been quite sure of
his ground in the row of houses all so much alike; but he had no
further doubt when he saw Captain Yorke.

At first he drew back, uncertain whether to make it known that his
business was with Theodore; but his fear that his tormentor would "tell
the perlice" before he had the opportunity to quiet him was too strong
for his caution, and he asked the captain if Theodore was "to home."

"No, he ain't; an' what ye want with Theodore, sonny?" asked the
captain.

Tony hesitated and fidgeted; and the old man asked sharply and quickly,
"He ain't been hookin' your peanuts agin?"

"No--o," stammered Tony; and the captain, coming down the steps to
where the boy stood, laid his hand upon his shoulder, and said
sternly,--although the sternness was not for the cripple,--

"Ef he's touched another peanut, or been a-wrongin' of ye any way, tell
me,--tell me right off. What is it?"

But Tony dared not tell; and the honest old seaman, whose confidence in
his grandson had never been fully restored, was convinced that he had
been about some of his evil ways again. He could do nothing with Tony,
however; no persuasions could avail to draw any explanation from him;
and he presently made his escape, hobbling down the street with the
marvellous celerity with which he used his crutches, leaving the
captain a prey to disquietude and apprehension.

Nor had he hope of obtaining any thing like the truth from Theodore
himself: so he asked him no questions when he returned, nor did he tell
him that Tony had come to ask for him, but, after taking counsel with
himself, resolved to see Johnny Petersen, and tell him to be on the
watch; and soon after we had left the florist's, he appeared there.

Tony saw the old Brutus coming down the street, stern and determined of
aspect, trouble in every line of his weather-beaten countenance, and
supposed himself to be his objective point. Dreading further catechism,
and not being willing to encounter it, he dropped the crank of the
peanut-roaster, and was off again before the captain was near enough to
speak. Johnny could tell nothing, he thought, save that Matty's hair
was gone, which the old man could not fail to see for himself; and his
sister, he well knew, would not speak. For a moment he thought he would
seize his opportunity, and hasten back to the house while Captain Yorke
was away, and hand Theodore the five dollars; but he recollected that
the oppressor would be at school, and so this would be useless. From a
safe distance he watched for the captain's departure, and did not
venture near his post till he saw him come out and walk away.

As he had foreseen, not a word could either Captain Yorke or the
florist draw from Matty, when the former had made known the purpose of
his coming; and they both questioned her closely. One might have
thought that she was utterly deaf and dumb as she sat opposing that
stolid, determined silence to all they said. Johnny knew nothing which
could throw any light on the subject; and after telling him of Tony's
embarrassment, and bidding him be on the watch, the heavy-hearted old
man left the little shop.

Johnny did keep on the watch, but refrained from asking Tony any
questions, keeping his eye upon him, however; but no further
developments appeared until later in the day, when he saw Theodore
coming down the other side of the avenue, and observed that Tony raised
a warning finger to him as if to bid him keep his distance. Theodore
paused on the opposite corner, and Tony went over to meet him.

Considerations of delicacy did not withhold Johnny from intruding upon
what was evidently meant to be a private interview; and when, after a
moment's converse, Tony put his hand in his pocket, and drew forth
something which he gave to Theodore, the florist darted from his shop,
and rushed across the street with an agility which was hardly to be
expected from one of his years and girth.

Theodore saw him coming, and his guilty conscience leaped to the truth;
Johnny suspected something wrong, and was coming to accuse him.

Closing his hand tightly on the prize which he had just received from
his victim, he turned, and started to run. But an avenging Nemesis, in
the shape of a piece of orange-peel, was behind him; his foot slipped
upon it, and he came heavily to the ground. Before he could rise, the
florist precipitated himself upon him with so much momentum, that he
too lost his balance, and fell flat upon the boy. Not one whit
disturbed was Johnny, however, by the fear that he might have injured
his prisoner, although he had half knocked the breath from the boy's
body; on the contrary, he would, I think, have been quite pleased to
know that Theodore was seriously bruised.

Rising with some difficulty, and not without assistance from a
passer-by who had seen the catastrophe, puffing and panting, but still
retaining the hold he had taken of Theodore's collar, he hauled the boy
to his feet, and, regardless of the punishment he had already
inflicted, gave him a hard cuff upon the ear, saying,--

"You runs away from me, will you? I learns you, my poy, you shtays ven
I vants to shpeak mit you."

Supposing from this authoritative address that he was the father of the
boy who had been guilty of some wrong, the man who had helped him
passed on his way, leaving him to deal with the culprit as he saw fit.
And Johnny saw fit to handle him with any thing but gentleness, pushing
him before him across the street, and into the shop, giving him now and
then a vicious shake, diversifying this with an occasional punch in the
back with the fist of the disengaged hand. Had they had any distance to
go, they would probably have drawn a crowd after them; as it was, they
reached Johnny's quarters without attracting any special attention.

"Now," said the breathless florist when he had his captive safely
within the shelter of the shop, "now, vat is your pusiness mit Tony?
Tony is my scharge, an' I don' let him talks mit poys what shteals what
don' pelongs to dem. Vat you got here?"

And he seized the tightly closed hand containing the five dollars,
which Theodore had not yet found opportunity to conceal in a safer
place. Theodore resisted; but he was no match for Petersen, who tripped
him up again without compunction, and, regardless of consequences to
the surrounding plants,--which happily came to no harm in the
struggle,--sat upon him, and opened his hand with both his own.

Five dollars!

Johnny was not a particularly brilliant Dutchman, and his mind was
generally slow in arriving at any conclusion; but the two and two which
were to be put together here were not difficult to compute; and as he
looked from the five-dollar bill to Matty's shorn head, and back again,
he was not long in deciding that they made four. Matty for once showed
some sign of emotion as she sat rubbing her hand over her poor little
head in a nervous manner; although beyond this, and the stare with
which she regarded the combatants, she showed no trace of interest in
the affair, never once opening her lips.

"So!" said the florist, holding out the bill at arm's length,--"so! How
is dis? You put Matty's head to de schissors, an' take him all off, und
you shteal den her monish. De peanuts is a pad pisness; but dis is so
much vorse as it goes to de prison. Tell me, Tony, how is dis?"

"I didn't steal it, he gave it to me; and I didn't touch Matty's hair,"
panted the prostrate Theodore. "He--he--he wanted me to do something
for him, and he said he would give me that if I did it. Oh! let me up!"

"Hole your mout, and shpeak ven you is shpoken mit," said Johnny.
"Tony, shpeak an' tell me. How vas it? You is cut off Matty's head; you
is got de monish, five tollars, vat I tells you he is vort; now tell me
what for you gifs dis five tollars to dis pad poy, a poy so vorse as I
do not know. I _vill_ haf you tell me; if no, I calls de police."

There was no escape; on all hands Tony saw visions of the police, who
would soon ferret out the whole matter, away back to Miss Amy and Jim
(so Tony thought); and he found it best to throw himself and all
concerned on the mercy of his old friend, and make a full confession.

As he told the shameful story of how Theodore had threatened to tell
Jim's "secret," and to let the police know of the "poisoning" unless
somebody paid him five dollars to keep it quiet; of the confirmation he
had himself received from Jim's manner and words when he asked him
about it; of how he and Matty had resolved to save their friends by the
sacrifice of the hair which Johnny himself had often told them was
worth so much money; of how they had gone to the barber's, and sold the
hair; and lastly, how he, seeing Theodore on the opposite side of the
street, had hurried over to bribe him with the five dollars to hold his
peace, and how Theodore had accepted the price,--the kind-hearted
florist waxed more and more angry; and when he rose, and once more
hauled the boy to his feet, it was only to seize a cane, and administer
such a chastisement as the culprit had seldom or never received.

Theodore made little or no outcry, however, for he was afraid of
attracting attention from without, and perhaps himself falling into the
hands of the law; for he did not know, if his deeds were once made
public, how far he might be under the ban of that authority.

"Now you go," said Johnny, when at last he paused, breathless from all
his exertions, and with one final shake released his captive; "go und
tell de gran'fader I fin' vat is de matter out, und I gifs de vorst
vips as I could gif to de vorst poy in all de down, und so I safes him
some droubles. But if he dinks to gif you some more of de same veesic,
I dink it not too moosh. For dat gran'fader, I says notings to de
police for dis time; bud if you says one leetle more vord apout de
young lady or dat goot poy Jim, or makes afrait any more dese
schillens, den you see some dings to make you shtare. Go, go!"

And Theodore stood not upon the order of his going.

The pleasure of the day with our friends had been much marred for me by
the recollection of the shorn head of my forlorn little _protégée_ and
the repulsive appearance she now presented; and I was more than ever
anxious to remove her from the father and mother, who, I thought, had
treated her so unjustly and cruelly; and I could not reconcile myself
to the idea that this afforded no grounds for my taking them away.

But that difficulty was presently to be solved in the most satisfactory
way to those who had at heart the welfare of the crippled children.

Mother had occasion to send Jim upon an errand shortly after his return
from school that afternoon; and he found it convenient, according to
his usual custom, to return by a roundabout way, and stop at the
peanut-stand. The excitement in Johnny's small establishment had hardly
subsided when he made his appearance, and it was little wonder that he
tarried long on his errand; so long, indeed, that mother rather lost
patience, and said that she should forbid his stopping at his favorite
haunt, except by express permission, if this occurred again. But his
want of punctuality was quite forgiven when he came in with the tidings
which he bore.

As usual, however, when any question arose of Theodore's want of
principle, or any instance of it was shown, there was something in
Jim's manner which excited the attention of those of the household
under whose immediate observation he most came; and again Milly was
surprised to see how wistful, uneasy, and absolutely nervous he was,
appearing, as he often had before, as if there were something on his
mind which he wished to tell her, but which he could not muster courage
to confess.



CHAPTER XIII.

MATTY IS PROVIDED FOR.


"Of course," said Uncle Rutherford, that evening in family conclave,
"this business settles the question of that scholarship for Theodore
Yorke. He has proved himself more utterly without principle or common
honesty, than I could have believed possible; and while, for poor old
Yorke's sake, I should be glad to give him another chance of redeeming
his character, I do not feel that the boy himself is worthy of it. He
is radically bad and vicious, with a natural leaning toward deceit and
dishonesty, and a capacity for crime that is absolutely startling, or
he never could have arranged so deliberate a plan to obtain money from
these poor little cripples. It was absolute blackmailing; and the
Yorkes, I fear, have sad trouble in store for them with the boy. All
the better for your _protégé_, Milly, if he continues to do as well as
he has done lately. That fellow is in earnest, whatever may be the aims
and influences which control him."

"I think," said aunt Emily, "that Mrs. Yorke is right, and that it
would be best both for the captain and for Theodore to go home. The old
man keeps her in a constant worry, by his very innocence and
simplicity, which are so easily imposed upon; and it will be far better
for that boy to be where he is not surrounded by so many temptations.
Do you not think so, Nicholas? Better for him to be in his quiet,
out-of-the-way home, than here, where there are so many inducements to
evil for a boy without principle, such as has certainly proved
himself."

Before Uncle Rutherford had time either to agree or dissent, Thomas
announced that Captain Yorke wished to see Mr. Rutherford and Mr.
Livingstone, and was told to show the old man into the adjoining
library, whither papa and Uncle Rutherford adjourned to see him.

But through the half-drawn portières, the rest of us heard all that
passed; and, indeed, the captain was not reticent,--it was not in his
nature to be,--and he would have been quite as garrulous in the
presence of an audience of any size, provided he knew all his hearers
to be friends. And not even the gravity of his errand, or the subject
on which he held forth, could restrain him from the various deviations
and wanderings to which he was prone when talking. It will not be
necessary to repeat all these here.

The old man had gone back to Johnny Petersen's just as the florist was
closing his shop for the night, timing his second visit after the hour
at which he knew the cripples would have left, and asked Johnny if he
had any further information for him. Johnny was not inclined to talk,
he found, and tried to evade his questions; but he was obliged to allow
that Theodore had appeared again; and finally, so determined was the
captain, that he asked him to come with him to his home, where he would
tell him all.

Seated in Mrs. Petersen's cosey room, the poor old seaman heard the
story in all its details, half bewildered by the good Dutchman's broken
English, but fully able to extract from it all the painful and shameful
particulars of his grandson's rascality. Once launched into his
narration, Johnny spared nothing, and, at the end, rather glorified
himself for having taken matters into his own hands, and administered
condign punishment to the culprit upon the spot; nor did he deem it
necessary to apologize to the grandfather for having done so, neither
did Captain Yorke seem to expect this, or to think that he was not
perfectly justified in all that he had done.

Theodore had gone home, after his encounter with Johnny, evidently
suffering and much crestfallen; but when his grandfather had questioned
him, he had added to his sins, and accounted for this, by saying that
he had had a fight in school; he being quite unaware of the captain's
suspicions, and of his interviews with Tony and the florist in the
morning. His grandfather had not yet confronted him with the discovery
of his sin; for he had come directly from the Petersens to our house,
deeming it best to take counsel with those whom he considered wiser and
less interested than himself.

"I thought I had done with all sich work when I heered Tom was took,"
said the old man pathetically; "but here it's broke out agin, an' me
an' Mis' Yorke not so young as we was by a long shot, an' can't stan'
it so well. The Scriptur says, 'Like father, like son;' an' I've faith
to b'lieve it, seein' I'm provin' it in my own fam'ly."

"No, no, captain," said uncle Rutherford, holding out his hand kindly
to the veteran, "you must not say that, for if Tom had been like _his_
father, he would have been a man in whom all who knew him placed
confidence. And"--contradicting his own words spoken some time
since--"we will not despair of your grandson yet. He is young, and
under good influences now."

"It's all the wus, Gov'nor," said the captain, shaking his head, "all
the wus to see him so young and so wicked. The Scriptur' says, 'The
ways of transgressors is hard;' but I b'lieve the ways of them what has
to do with the transgressors, an' foller them up, is harder, an' them's
my opinions."

Father and uncle Rutherford each offered a few words of sympathy, and
endeavored to comfort him; but he was not yet to be consoled, and could
see no hope for the future. He was terribly distressed over the
necessity of telling Mrs. Yorke, and said that he meant to "sleep over
it," and think of the best way of breaking it to her. But we all knew
how much probability there was of that. No sooner would he see his
wife, than his full heart would overleap all restraint he might have
intended to put upon it, and she would be put in possession of all the
facts, down to the smallest details.

In the midst of his own perplexities, however, the captain did not
forget a piece of news he had brought with him, and which especially
interested me, and speedily drew me into the library.

While he was still with the Petersens, but on the point of taking his
leave, the sound of crutches had been heard on the stairs; and Johnny,
turning to listen, said,--

"Dems is Tony mit his crushes. Vat is upper now?" and opened the door
to admit not only Tony, but also his sister. Tony was flustered and
frightened, with eyes half starting from his head; but Matty was
impassive as usual, and showed neither terror nor excitement.

"They've gone!" exclaimed the lame boy.

"Who are gone? Vat is de madder?" asked Johnny; then added, before Tony
could answer, "Poor leetle poy, he is all upside down mit dis day.
Shpeak, Tony."

"They've gone," repeated Tony; "an' what is wus, the furnitur' is gone
too, an' there ain't no beds nor nuthin'."

"Vat is gone?" asked Mrs. Petersen in her turn; then, jumping at her
own conclusions, added, "De vater an' de mutter?"

"Yes, and good riddance, too; on'y we ain't got any place to sleep,"
said Tony; which filial sentiment found an echo in the hearts of all
present.

It was all true, as Johnny found on investigation. When Tony and Matty
had gone home that evening, they found the wretched room on the top
floor of a tenement-house, which they had inhabited with their father
and mother, empty and tenantless; the few articles of worthless
furniture (if furniture it could be called) which it had formerly held,
taken away. But if there was no one there to welcome them, neither did
there await them the abusive language and hard blows they too
frequently encountered. They were not in the slightest degree troubled
by the loss; their only feeling seemed to be, as Tony expressed it,
that it was a "good riddance," save that they had no other
resting-place for the night. A pitying neighbor had given them their
supper; and they were told that their mother had gone out early in the
morning, soon after they had gone to business, and, re-appearing with a
carter, had had her few possessions carried away, leaving no word
whither she was bound, or message for the helpless children. The
mystery was solved in a degree, when two police-officers appeared a few
hours later, saying that Blair was "wanted" for a grave offence against
the law; but the bird had flown, and so far left no trace.

I was delighted, and could almost have thanked Blair for committing a
crime which rendered flight necessary, and seemed to leave the way open
for a decent provision for the destitute children.

Captain Yorke told us that Mrs. Petersen was going to keep them for the
night, and that they were already quite at home and comfortable, and
Tony excitedly happy,--happiness and Matty could not be
associated,--with the motherly German woman and her husband.

But our two gentlemen and Captain Yorke had not yet come to any
conclusion as to what was to be done with Theodore; and it was an
embarrassing question to decide. To take the boy, a boy who was making
fair progress in his studies, and who was pains-taking and ambitious,
from school, and bury him in the quiet sea-side home, where, save for
three or four months of the year, he would be almost altogether cut off
from association with any but the few still primitive inhabitants of
the Point, and where he would be entirely deprived of any advantages of
education, seemed almost too much punishment even for the grave
offences which those three honorable, high-minded men found it hard to
condone. But, again, it was not to be thought of, that, devoid of
conscience and right feeling as he was, he should be left alone exposed
to the temptations of the great city. For Captain and Mrs. Yorke must
shortly return home, Mrs. Yorke's physician having pronounced her
sufficiently cured to be allowed to do so in the course of a few weeks;
and, even as it was, the nominal protection of Theodore's grandparents
had formed no safeguard against evil. The evil was in his own heart,
but he might be placed where there would be fewer opportunities for its
development.

It was a grave matter for consideration, and could not be hastily
decided.

"Of course," said uncle Rutherford, as he bid the captain good-night,
"of course it is out of the question for Theodore to remain in the city
after you and Mrs. Yorke leave, even under the care of the kind woman
with whom you now board; he would not recognize her authority, and
would consider himself free to go any lengths. No, that is not to be
thought of; but we may devise some other plan by which he may have some
schooling and be kept in proper restraint; and he may yet in time prove
a help and comfort to you, Yorke. For your sake I would do much to set
him in the right way; and his teachers think that he has the making of
a clever man in him, if we can but instil something like principle into
his character. Take heart, man."

But the captain went out sadly and hopelessly shaking his gray head,
over which twenty years seemed to have passed since the morning of that
day.

It was not, perhaps, that his affection for his grandson had been so
deeply grieved; for the boy had, until less than a year since, been
quite a stranger to his grandparents, and Theodore was not an
attractive boy even to his own family; and, had the choice been given
to the captain, he would undoubtedly have much preferred to claim Jim
as his own, his open, sunny, joyous nature responding much more readily
to the old man's than did that of the far less amiable Theodore. But he
felt ashamed and disgraced, and as if he could not bear to look any one
of the name of Rutherford or Livingstone in the face, while he still
felt that to our family alone could he turn for help and advice in this
sad business.

"Ye see, you and Mr. Livingstone knows a heap more 'bout wicked ways
an' doin's than me an' Miss Yorke does, Gov'nor," he said to uncle
Rutherford, altogether innocent of any uncomplimentary inference which
might be drawn, "an' so ye'd know the best ways out of 'em. Yes, I says
to myself, says I, if there's enny one knows the ways out of a bad
scrape, it'll be them city born and bred gentlemen; so I come along to
tell ye afore I tole Miss Yorke or nothin'. Mebbe ye could tell me how
to make it a little lighter for her," he added wistfully.

Alas! beyond the promise to think the matter over, and to consider what
was best to be done, his two friends could give him little consolation
to convey to the poor grandmother, who had built so much on the
opportunities offered to the boy who she had hoped and believed would
prove a credit and support to the declining years of herself and her
husband.

The next morning, directly after breakfast, I announced my intention of
going immediately round to see cousin Serena, and asking her to go with
me to Mrs. Petersen's, to ascertain if there were any hope that she
would take Tony and Matty, now that their father and mother had
apparently deserted them. I would provide for Matty, and cousin Serena
wished to do the same for the boy. I was very eager now to carry out my
plans, believing that the lions in the way were entirely removed, and
that no one could have any further objection to my doing so.

But, to my great disgust, again there were dissenting voices; for
father and mother, aunt Emily, yes, and even impulsive,
push-a-thing-ahead uncle Rutherford, said that it would not do to take
it for granted that the elder Blairs would not return and claim the
children. It was not probable, they agreed, but it was more than
possible; and all my elders were quite positive that the Petersens
would not undertake the care of Tony and Matty until they felt assured
that the parents were not likely to meddle with them, or to make
trouble for those who had them in charge.

"But I want to go and see," I said, determined, if possible, to carry
my point at once, "if the Petersens _will_ do it--and they may. There
is no use in leaving Matty unprovided for. What will she and Tony do if
Mrs. Petersen will not keep them while it is uncertain whether that man
and woman return or not?"

I spoke in rather an aggrieved tone, feeling somewhat inclined to think
my relatives hard-hearted.

"Interview Mrs. Petersen, if you choose, my daughter," said papa; "only
be prepared for disappointment."

"I only want to see Matty provided for, papa," I answered, a little
ashamed of my former pettishness.

"And Matty, and Tony also, shall not be allowed to suffer, Amy," said
uncle Rutherford sympathetically; mindful, perhaps, of his own
propensity for forcing things to a wished-for conclusion at once.

"I'll see cousin Serena, and take her views, anyway," I said, my good
humor restored; and I lost little time in carrying out my purpose.

Miss Craven herself was so eager and earnest when in pursuit of any
plan, especially when it was for the benefit or pleasure of others,
that I built much on her co-operation in the work of persuading the
Petersens to take the cripples under their protection at once; and I
was proportionately crestfallen when I found that she took the same
view of the case as my own family, saying also that she did not believe
that Johnny and his wife would agree to my proposal, and that she did
not think it advisable that they should. However, she willingly
consented to go with me to the Petersens.

And, lo! I returned triumphant; for Mrs. Petersen, moved probably more
by the utter desolation of the children than by any arguments or
persuasions of mine, had consented without difficulty to take them for
the present, and to retain them so long as the parent Blairs did not
return or claim them.

And whatever his wife decided, that was sure to be the best in Johnny's
eyes; so, her consent being gained, there was no fear of a dissenting
voice from him. Moreover, recollections of his own youth inclined
Johnny's heart to be merciful.

"Und why for no," he said, when appealed to on behalf of the deserted
children, "why for no? Sometime ven mine fader und mutter die mit me,
und dere vas nopody to gif leetle Johnny notings, vat should he do, if
did not come some goot peoples vat take und eat him und sleep him? I
don' forget; und how I vas done py, I do mit der oders. Mine wife she
vas so goot as a mutter for dem."

The arrangement was concluded to the mutual satisfaction of the
Petersens and myself, to say nothing of that of Tony,--Matty, as usual,
showing no sign either of pleasure or the contrary. There was no time
lost in settling the cripples in their new quarters, so superior in all
respects to any they had ever enjoyed before. There was nothing to be
moved from those they had occupied with their father and mother; not a
splinter, not a shred, beyond the clothes they had on and those kept at
Mrs. Petersen's, was left to them; indeed, had there been, we never
should have allowed them to claim it, nor would Mrs. Petersen have
allowed it to come into her tidy apartments.

My day was occupied in a fever of energy, running from one place to
another, providing beds and clothing and other articles,--many of
which, had I not been checked by wiser counsels, would have been
unnecessary and unfit,--dragging cousin Serena with me; begging from
mother, aunt Emily, and Mrs. Sanford, and drawing somewhat heavily on
my own resources. At last every thing was ready, to the serene content
of Mrs. Petersen, who now seemed to feel as if she had really adopted
the children; and when evening came, I rested in the happy
consciousness that Matty was at last well provided for, as I would have
her, and that I had carried my point with comparatively little trouble.

Jim beamed upon me every time he came near me, and he appeared to have
a sense of partnership which was not a little amusing.

Amy had "taken it awfully hard," my brothers, Norman and Douglas, said
as they ran me on my new burst of philanthropy; but I was too
complacent and well satisfied to be at all disturbed by their comments.

Little did I dream, while dwelling on the future I had planned for the
little hunchback, that a higher hand than mine was so soon to take all
provision for her into its own keeping.

On the afternoon of the next day, as Milly and I, just dressed for a
very different scene from that to which we were suddenly called, were
passing down the stairs to the carriage which was awaiting us, Jim came
rushing up in a state of terrible excitement, with distressed,
frightened eyes looking out of a deadly white face.

"Miss Milly! Miss Milly!" he gasped, all out of breath as he was with
rapid running, and addressing first the one to whom he was accustomed
to turn in all emergencies or need for help, "Miss Milly, oh, come
quick! No, no--it's Miss Amy I mean. Miss Amy, come quick; she wants
you!"

"Who wants me? what is the matter?" asked both Milly and I in one
breath, and very much alarmed as we saw that there was really some
serious trouble.

"Matty! She'll be gone, miss. Oh, come quick!" he answered, still in
the same breathless manner.

Visions of the drunken mother returning for the child, and striving to
take her away against her will, at once presented themselves to my
imagination; and now, indeed, my boasted interest in Matty was tried.
Was I expected to face this worthless, angry woman, and rescue my poor
little _protégée_? I could not do it; this was my first thought. Then,
again, was I to abandon the poor child without one struggle, without
one effort to prevail on the woman to leave the helpless child in the
better hands into which she had fallen? Like a flash of lightning all
this passed through my brain; then I said to Jim faintly and with a
faltering heart,--

"Is there any one there to help?"

"Yes, miss," answered Jim; "there's Johnny, an' Mrs. Petersen, an' the
policeman brought her in, an' the doctor. But, O Miss Amy, do make
haste! she wants you so bad, an' the doctor said to bring you quick."

The doctor? Then was Matty ill, in danger?

"What is it, Jim? Do speak," said Milly. "What _is_ the trouble? Is
Matty ill? do you mean she is dying?"

"The doctor said so, Miss Milly. 'Twas the fire-engine. But _do_ be
quick!"

A sickening horror came over me, and Milly turned as white as a sheet;
but no more time was lost. We hurried into the carriage, bade Jim mount
beside the coachman, and, not even knowing whither we were bound, left
the directions to him.

But the drive to our unknown destination was not a long one; and in two
minutes we drew up at Dutch Johnny's little flower-store, around which
a crowd had gathered, through which we had to push our way; or rather
the policeman, who stood by the door, opened a way for us.

Stretched upon the floor, in the midst of all the delicate verdure and
brilliant color in the florist's small store, lay Matty, her little
shorn head supported upon the breast of Mrs. Petersen, who was bending
over her with the tears running down her cheeks. At Mrs. Petersen's
side was Tony, leaning his head against her other shoulder, his face a
mixture of terror, grief, and bewilderment, both his hands clasping
those of Matty; around were grouped Johnny, a doctor, and a second
officer.

Matty's eyes were fixed upon the door; and as we entered, a sudden
gleam of intelligence and pleasure lighted them. She drew one of her
hands from Tony's clasp, and stretched it out to me.

Regardless of my light spring costume as it came in contact with the
damp floor of the greenhouse, I knelt in front of Mrs. Petersen, and
bent over the poor little creature. Only once in my life had I seen
death; and then neither my affections nor my sympathies had been
enlisted, and my sensations, from the nature of the circumstances, had
been only those of horror and repulsion, and I had fled from the sight,
while now the recollection of it was as some dreadful dream. Never
before had I seen a soul pass from the one life to the other; but
countless experiences could not have told me the truth more forcibly
than did the look upon the face so small, so pitifully old and
care-worn. The hand of God's angel had already written it too plainly
there.

A merciful angel, blotting out the traces of suffering and weariness
and oppression such as, happily, few of God's little ones are called
upon to bear; and imprinting in their place rest and peace unspeakable.

For Matty was passing away without pain; the injuries she had received
had dulled sensation, while they were destroying life.

She motioned for me to bend down, for she was almost past speech; then
raising both hands she tried to push back my hat. I flung it aside, and
she passed her hands over my hair again and again, and drew her thin
fingers, from whose touch I did not shrink now, through the curling
rings about my forehead and temples; then her lips moved, and Tony
stooped to listen.

"She says hers 'more purtier,'" said the poor little brother, half
choking.

"Yes, Matty," I said, "much prettier. You had the prettiest hair I ever
saw." Then, as a sudden inspiration flashed upon me, "I am going to
that barber to buy back your hair, Matty; and Tony shall have it for
his own to keep all his life."

Her face brightened, and a smile, the first, the only smile I ever saw
upon it, lightened it and almost transfigured it; then she turned her
eyes from me, and looked around the little store till they rested upon
a beautiful pink azalea which stood at a little distance,--beautiful in
itself, but not for the purpose for which Matty wanted it.

Taking one hand from my hair, while the fingers of the other still
lingered among my curls, she pointed to the plant, and looked wistfully
at Johnny. The good German was not usually quick of comprehension; but
he understood the mute appeal now, and he asked in a voice even more
husky than his usual guttural tones,--

"Vat you vants, Maddy? Some dem vlowers?"

She nodded assent, and the florist hastily cut a cluster, and put it in
her hand. With fast-failing strength she tried to place it in my hair;
but the effort was too much; and Milly, who stood behind me, assisted
her to arrange the blossoms as she would have them. A look of intense
satisfaction passed over the pallid face, as though to her untutored
taste this glaring adornment was all that could be desired; then the
hands fell, and the lips moved.

Both Tony and I tried to hear; but the only word I could hear was,
"suffer."

"Do you suffer so, poor little Matty?" I asked, for the doctor had
assured us that she did not.

She shook her head feebly, and I heard the word "children."

"What children? Do you mean you want to see my little sisters, Matty?"
I asked.

"No, miss," interposed Tony. "I knows what she means. It is a teks was
hung up in the Sunday-school room right forninst where she sat, an' she
used to sit starin' at it like she hadn't nothin' else to think on; an'
the lady what run the class teached it to her one day, 'cause it was
the Golden Teks for that day, an' she's made me be a-hearin' ov it a
many times since. She did set sich a heap by that teks as I niver saw,
an' I'm thinkin' she wants yer to be a-repeatin' of it to her,
miss.--Does yer, Matty?"

Again she nodded; and I said as well as my sobs would let me, "Suffer
little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is
the kingdom of heaven."

"More, more," she whispered faintly; and I repeated over and over again
the sweet, gracious invitation which has lasted and shall last through
all time, gathering into those loving arms the little ones of every
degree, the beautiful and the uncouth, the happy and the oppressed;
until to the echo of that golden text poor Matty's soul floated away
peacefully and quietly.

Unsightly, unhappy, and unloved, save for the faithful young brother to
whom she was all in all,--to her, little had been given; and we may
surely believe that from her little would be required.

So was Matty provided for, and the care of her taken from my hands and
those of generous Jim, who really seemed to mourn for her as though she
had been his own sister.

The particulars of the circumstances which led to her death, as related
by Johnny Petersen, Tony, and the policeman who had witnessed the
accident,--for accident it was,--were these.

Matty had had the most unbounded terror of the fire-engines,--perhaps
owing to the fact, stated by Tony, that her deformity had been
occasioned by her being thrown from a window during a fire when she was
a very young child; and she probably associated the engines with all
the misery, both mental and physical, which she had ever since
suffered. However that may be, the sight or sound of them was
sufficient to rouse her from the state of dull apathy usual to her,
into a paroxysm of alarm and nervousness; and if Tony were anywhere
within reach she always sought his side with some fancied idea of
protection, until the terror was beyond her vision and hearing.

Tony had been sent by Johnny on some errand, and was returning, and had
nearly reached the opposite corner of the avenue, when the sound of the
galloping hoofs and rattling wheels of a fire-engine were heard.

Matty at her stand without the florist's shop was out of harm's way;
but no sooner did the clatter of the approaching steamer strike her
ear, than she hastily rose from her seat, and started to meet Tony,
who, pausing with boyish interest to watch the engine as it came up the
cross street, did not see or heed his sister until it was too late.
Johnny saw from within the shop, and started to hold back the child:
but fear lent wings to Matty's usually slow and faltering footsteps;
she heeded not or heard not his calls; and, before he could reach her,
the engine swung around the corner into the avenue, and the already so
sadly disfigured little form lay among the trampling hoofs and crushing
wheels.

Johnny himself had raised her, and carried her tenderly into his little
bower, where he laid her down among the flowers to breathe away the few
short moments of her waning life. Seeming to be conscious at once of
what was before her, she had made Tony understand by signs and one or
two faintly gasped words that she wanted me; and Jim, who had as usual
stopped in on his way from school, had hastened to bring me.

Sobered and sadly impressed, and yet with a feeling that Matty's
release was a blessing beyond all expression, Milly and I returned
home, with no heart, as may be supposed, for the entertainment for
which we had been bound when we were called to her.



CHAPTER XIV.

JIM'S CONFESSION.


Two days had passed, and poor little Matty had been laid to the rest
which knows no breaking; and all about Mrs. Petersen's rooms and the
little flower-shop had settled to its usual routine, save that Tony
still abode with the kind Germans, and that he tended alone both the
peanut-stand and his roaster. His parents had not yet returned, nor
have we to this day obtained, or indeed sought, any trace of them; all
concerned being only too glad that they have made no claim upon the
little lame boy. Tony, now no longer a peanut-vender, has been promoted
to the post of assistant and errand-boy to Johnny Petersen, who, with
his wife, treat the lad as if he were their own son, instead of a
little deserted waif cast by a merciful Providence into their kind
hands.

I had, happily,--or rather Edward had for me,--been able to rescue
Matty's beautiful tresses from the hands of the conscienceless barber,
who, when approached on the subject, demanded the most exorbitant price
for them; but finding that the circumstances of the first sale were
known to the gentleman, and being confronted with Tony, whom my brother
had taken with him and left outside till he should ascertain what
advance in price would be asked, he came down in his demands, and
parted with them at exactly three times the sum he had paid for them,
and which probably, in righteousness, he should have given to Matty.

They were at once given to Tony, whose pride in them had been only less
than that of his sister, and who, with a show of tender sentiment
scarcely to be expected from one of his surroundings and antecedents,
received them as a gift from the dead. Cheery, jolly little Tony! but
for this and other similar tokens of an affectionate heart, it might
have been thought that he was wanting in feeling, so easily did his
elastic, joyous spirit throw off trouble; so completely did he extract
all the sweet, and throw aside all the bitter, offered to him by a lot
in life which most of us would not have envied.

In the trouble and excitement over the sudden fate of the little
"deform," as Allie and Daisy had called her, we had for the moment put
aside the question of what was to be done with Theodore Yorke; but now
it was to be decided.

That the boy could be touched; that he was not lost to all trace of
human or decent feeling,--was shown by the trouble, and, his
grandparents thought, remorse, which he testified on hearing of Matty's
tragical death; and he would even have tried to make some amends to
Tony, had not the lame boy absolutely refused to let him come near him;
while the florist, seeing him from within the shop, rushed out upon
him, and threatened him with some more of the same "veesic" as he had
administered before, seeming inclined to do so whether or no; and
Theodore, plainly thinking discretion the better part of valor, had
lost no time in putting a safe distance between himself and the
pugilistic old German.

Not wishing to discuss the subject in the presence of the culprit or
his distressed and anxious grandmother, uncle Rutherford had told
Captain Yorke to come again to our house in the evening of the day on
which Matty was buried; having first taken counsel with father and
mother and aunt Emily as to the best course to be pursued for all
interested. The captain seemed quite to have lost his usual
independence and courage, and had put himself and his family into the
hands of those who he knew were good friends to him and his.

"I didn't let on to the boy, Gov'nor an' Mr. Livingstone," he said,
rubbing up his grizzled locks as was his wont when talking, "I didn't
let on to the boy as we was thinkin' he was to be took from school; but
I'm glad to say he was consid'able cut up along of that poor little
hunchback, an' his bein' so mean to her jes' afore she was took; an'
I'm thinkin' he has some kind of feelin's in respecks of her, all the
more mebbe as he thinks he's goin' to get off 'thout any more
punishment than what he got; an' I don't bear no grudge agin that Dutch
flower-man for what he done to him,--an' isn't he a Dutchy though!
'Pears like he ain't never studied no grammar nor good English, nor
nothin', an' them's my opinions. He do talk the funniest, an' mos'
times I don't hardly make no sense of it. But," with a heavy,
long-drawn sigh, "what was yer both of ye thinkin' it was bes' to do?"

"We have thought, captain," answered uncle Rutherford, to whom father
left all explanations, "we have thought it would be best and wisest, if
you and his grandmother and mother agree, to send Theodore to a
boarding-school on Long Island, where he will be kept under very strict
discipline and supervision."

"Supervision! an' what may that be, Gov'nor, askin' yer pardon?" said
the old man, as uncle Rutherford paused for a moment to see how he
would take his proposal.

Uncle Rutherford explained, and, seeing that he must confine himself to
simple words, went on,--

"We know the gentleman in charge, and believe that he will have an
especial eye to Theodore if we ask him to do so; and he is an excellent
teacher, and will bring him on in his studies. If Theodore does well
there for a year or two, and shows himself fit to be trusted, we may
then remove him to a different and higher school, where he may still
fit himself to be a man, and a help and comfort to you. He has his
future in his own hands; let him do well, and Mr. Livingstone and I
will see that he is provided for till he is fitted to take care of
himself; but an opportunity which might have been his"--O, dear uncle
Rutherford, why need you have told this?--"must pass to another who has
better deserved it. Do you feel that you can part with the boy, and let
him go to boarding-school?"

"I reckon I ain't goin' to have much feelin's agin it," answered the
captain, whose face had assumed an expression of intense relief as
uncle Rutherford unfolded his plans. "I don't set such a heap by the
boy as to set my face against his goin' to the boardin'-school, if it
do be stric'; it'll do him good; an' he ain't got roun' me so's the
other gran'children have, an' I'd a sight rather we had Jim for a
gran'boy than this one, if he is my own flesh an' blood, as they say. I
ain't never took no stock in him sence the first day he come, when I
see him take his little sister's bigger cake unbeknownst to the little
one, an' put his'n what was not so big in its place."

There were no family secrets or shortcomings which would not come to
light when the captain was on the high-road to such disclosures; for a
wise and discreet reticence was not his distinguishing characteristic,
as we know.

"I hope he'll do well, an' turn out a credit to ye, Gov'nor an' Mr.
Livingstone," he continued, as though washing his hands of the boy,
though all the while the trouble dwelt upon his weather-beaten old
face; "but _I_ bet on Jim, an' I wish it was him had the chance ye
speak of. Mebbe it is, now; an' if it was, it'd be 'most a set-off agin
the other not havin' it. I set a lot on Jim!"

And the old man looked inquiringly at uncle Rutherford, who was not,
however, _quite_ so indiscreet as his interlocutor, and kept his own
counsel so far as this.

So it was settled, then. Theodore was to be removed from the school he
was attending at present, and sent to the boarding-school, where he
would be under far closer restraint than he could be in the city, or
even at home with his grandparents; and there could be no question that
the old man felt that a great responsibility was taken from his
shoulders.

"I wish it was time to go home. I mean, I wish Miss Yorke was cured up
so's we could go home," he said. "I reckon I've seen about all there is
to see in this town; an' it's my opinions I might 'bout as well be
thinkin' of the seines an' poles, an' lobster-pots, an' so on. Course
they wants lookin' arter 'cordin' to custom this time o' year; an'
Jabez he's took so to carpenterin' an' what he calls cabiny-makin',
he's goin' to let 'em slip, Jabez is; an' come time for settin' 'em
they ain't goin' to be ready, an' I reckon I oughter to be there; but
the doctor, he says four weeks more for Miss Yorke, an' he'll let her
go cured. She's pretty first-rate now, an' she don't walk no more with
a cane, on'y comin' up an' down the stairs. I never did see such folks
to have long ladders of stairs as York folks is; when I fust come, I
used to think I wouldn't never get to the top of 'em; an' even the poor
folks here has to go a-pilin' theirselves up atop of stairs as high as
a mast, one lot atop of another. Ye get up near the sky there; not that
folks is so good an' heavenly; no, no; there's on'y a few of 'em that
way;" with an approving nod at father and uncle Rutherford, and a
comprehensive wave of his hand, as if to say that he excepted from his
adverse criticism both of his present companions, and all who belonged
to them; "on'y a few; but they're pintin' straight for the New
Jerusylem,"--another nod pointed the compliment. "Where was I? Oh, them
stairs. Wa'l, as I was a-sayin', I reckon I've had 'bout enuf of 'em,
an' I'd like to be home where I can be down onto the flat groun' an'
not like to what's his name's coffin, what I heerd the boys speakin'
about, what got hitched half way up to heaven an' stuck there. He's a
fable feller, ov course; Mahomet, that's his name; there ain't never
been no such doin's sence miracle days 'cept in the theayters an' them
places. An' t'other night Miss Dodge, she asked me would I go to the
opery, an' I says 'yes.' I was boun' to see all there was to see, an'
we went; an' such a goin' up stairs as there was there, up an' up an'
up, an' when we got there I thought we might ha' stopped sooner; for
down below there was lots of folks sittin' an' standin', an' I asked
Miss Dodge why she didn't stop onto some of them floors, three or four
of 'em below, an' she kinder smirked, an' says it costs lots to go in
there. Wa'l, I couldn't make out what they was at on the platform,--the
play actors; it wasn't half so nice as the mother-in-law actin'; they
did all their talkin' to singin', an' they died singin', an' all sorts
of things; an' there was a old man got young an' fell spooney on a
girl; an' they all got foolisher an' foolisher, an' the devil was
there, an' such a mix-up; an' bimeby the girl, she died in a prison,
an' angel actin' folks come down an' took her up,--leastways was takin'
her up to heaven,--an' there come a hitch, an' there they stuck, half
up, half down. Miss Dodge said there must ha' been somethin' wrong with
the machinery what h'isted 'em; an' it made me think of that feller's
coffin, so I sung out, 'Mahomet's coffin!' an' the folks, some larfed,
they was mostly boys an' young fellers, an' some few below looked up;
an' Miss Dodge, she was awful affronted, an' she says she was glad
enough we wasn't below, she would ha' been too mortified. W'al, that
ain't nothin' to do with Miss Yorke, for she wasn't along; she couldn't
ha' clumb so high; an' I never was a man of many words, so I'll get to
my p'int. As I was a-sayin', Miss Yorke, she can't go home yet, an' she
can't be left alone, so I've got to stay on."

Here mamma went to the rescue; for, as before, the rest of the family
were gathered in the next room, and heard all that had passed. The two
gentlemen had allowed the captain to ramble on, partly because he
amused them and us, partly because they knew it was of little use to
try to stop him after he had once started to expound his views on men
and things.

"Captain," said mamma, joining the two in the library, "Mrs. Rutherford
and I thought you were growing weary of the city, and wanted to go back
home; so we have arranged a little plan which may suit you both, and
will certainly suit me well. I have a great deal of sewing to be done
now, which I should like to have done in the house, and Mrs. Yorke is
such a beautiful seamstress that I should be glad of her assistance.
Suppose that she comes here. I can give her accommodation on the
basement floor, so that she need not go up and down stairs; and Mammy
and my own seamstress will gladly do all that is needful for her. Then
you can go home as soon as you choose. Will you ask her?"

The captain gazed for a minute into mother's face, then looked from her
to father, from him to uncle Rutherford, and drew a long breath.

"Wa'l!" he ejaculated, "when you folks gets histed to heaven, I reckon
there ain't goin' to be no hitch in the histin'. An' them's my
opinions."

Having delivered himself of these "opinions," he rose, shook hands with
mother, father, and uncle Rutherford, a long hard shake, expressive of
his feelings; came into the room where the rest of us were gathered,
and went through the same ceremony all round; returned to the library
and repeated it, then once more back to the drawing-room for a second
pumping of each arm, and finally managed to convey himself away; the
last words which father heard as he closed the door behind him being,
"No hitch in _that_ histin'."

Two days after, Mrs. Yorke was comfortably settled in our basement, and
industriously plying her needle; the captain was on his way home by
water, where he would not be apt to go astray; while at a very few
hours' notice Theodore had been removed from the one school, and sent
to the other.

"Miss Milly," said Jim, meeting my sister in the hall on the afternoon
of the day on which he had learned that his rival had been taken from
the school they had both attended, and speaking in evident but
repressed excitement, "Miss Milly, they say Theodore Yorke has left
school for good. Has he, Miss Milly?"

"He has left your school, and been sent to another, Jim, where you will
not be likely to meet him soon again," answered Milly.

"And they say it's an awful strict school, Miss Milly, a kind of a
bad-boy school, where a feller don't get half so much chance as he does
in ours."

"I think the discipline is very strict, Jim," replied his young
mistress.

"And," wistfully, "he was sent there because of what he done--I mean,
did--to Matty?"

Even in the midst of excitement, Jim was becoming careful to correct
himself when he lapsed inadvertently into any inaccuracies of speech.

Milly hesitated for a moment, but she thought that the lesson might
possibly point a moral, and she answered,--

"Yes, for that especially, Jim. It was his crowning offence; but
Theodore is not a good, upright boy, and it was thought better to
remove him to another and a stricter school."

"Thank you'm," said the lad as he walked away with a crestfallen air
which much surprised Milly. Was he going to take so much to heart the
absence of the boy between whom and himself there had waged a constant
state of warfare ever since they had first met? Amy must be right,
thought Milly, and there must be something behind these singular moods
of Jim's. Was it possible that he, too, had fallen into temptation and
sin, and, seeing with what consequences these had been fraught for
Theodore, was now trembling for himself? She could hardly believe this,
Jim had proved himself so frank and upright; but there must be
something which he was hiding, and this was the only solution at which
she could arrive.

But she was not kept much longer in doubt.

Jim slept over the matter upon his mind and conscience, and the next
morning, which happened to be Saturday, and therefore a holiday, came
to her, and requested a private interview.

The request was readily granted; and, taking him aside, Milly waited
with more anxiety than can well be appreciated by those who did not
know her interest in the boy.

"Miss Milly," he said, shifting uneasily from one foot to the other,
and twisting his hands nervously together as he stood before her, "Miss
Milly, I've got something I ought to tell you."

"Well, Jim?" said Milly encouragingly.

"I don' know what you're goin' to think of me, miss," he answered with
a very shamed face.

"If you have done wrong, Jim, and are ready to confess it now, I shall
not be very severe with you,--you know that, Jim," said Milly. "You
are in some trouble. I have seen for a long time that you had something
on your mind; if you tell me, I may be able to help you out of it."

"I ain't in no scrape, Miss Milly, if that's what you mean," said the
boy; "only--only--it's a mean kind of a thing, an' I've got to tell.
'Tain't fair for me to keep it to myself any longer. Bill's the only
other feller knows. It's going to take my chance, for sure; but all the
same, I've got to tell. I ain't so afraid of you as of--some others."
He paused again, and again Milly had to re-assure and encourage him,
bidding him remember that others as well as herself had his good and
interest at heart, and that he had already tested these and not found
them wanting.

"I know, Miss Milly," he answered, "but I can't bear for you or none of
the family to think me a sneak, an' that's what I feel I've been now.
'Twasn't fair, an' now I know it. I did know it all along, on'y I
wouldn't let on."

"Well, come, Jim," said Milly, determined to bring him to the point
without any more of this shilly-shallying which was exceedingly unlike
Jim; "you must tell me at once if you wish to do so, for I have an
engagement, and shall have to leave you very soon."

"Well, miss," he replied, thus urged, "I found out--don't you be
ashamed of me, Miss Milly--I found out about how Mr. Rutherford was
goin' to give a big thing, some kind of a thing in the way of eddication,
to me or Theodore Yorke, whichever turned out best this year at school,
an' how he thought Theodore was a sneak, an' me too hot-tempered, an'
always ready for a fight,--an' how he was goin' to see which did the
best, not on'y in his learnin', but in his conduck, quite without us
knowin' about what was afore us, an' then give that one this big thing.
And, Miss Milly, you an' Mr. Rutherford, an' the rest of the fam'ly,
maybe, thought me doin' well, an' takin' care of my temper. An' maybe
so I was; but it was 'cause I was _bound_ to beat Theodore, an' not let
him get that prize. I felt awful mean all along; but now Theodore's cut
up so, an' got sent off, an' he never knew nothin' about it, or maybe
he'd done better, an' I don't feel it's fair in me. I knew, an' he
didn't. I stood a lot from Theodore, an' didn't fly out at him on'y
once or twice that you know about; but I wouldn't ha' stood it, an'
there's many a time I would ha' fought him an' the other boys, too,
on'y for thinkin' of that. So, you see, I did get more chance at the
beginning than him, an' 'tain't fair in me. An' I thought to myself, If
you're goin' to do a mean thing like this to get a hitch in life, how
you goin' to get fit to be President? If you see somebody doin' a
sneaky or dishonest thing, you can't have the face to pull him up an'
send him to prison,"--as may be seen, Jim's ideas of the Presidential
authority were that it was unlimited and autocratic,--"when you know
you got there yourself on the sly; an' I wouldn't feel fit for it. So
there wasn't no comfort in it one way or another; an' I made up my mind
I'd tell you, an' you can tell Mr. Rutherford; an' anyhow I'll come out
fair an' even chances with Theodore. Mr. Rutherford will maybe think
this is worse than fightin' an' blowin' out?" interrogatively and
wistfully.

Milly had let him go on without interruption when she had once succeeded
in starting him, and had asked no questions; now she said,--

"I think, Jim, that Mr. Rutherford will be pleased that you had so far
the mastery over yourself that you would not take what you considered
an unfair advantage over Theodore. I am glad, truly glad that you have
succeeded in learning to control your temper; but still more glad that
your sense of honor and right led you to tell of this. But how did you
learn of Mr. Rutherford's plan?"

Jim related how Bill, overhearing the conversation, or at least a part
of it, on the evening on which the matter had been discussed by the
family, had been the medium of communication, and how they had both
resolutely guarded their knowledge of it until now; when Jim had told
his comrade that he _must_ make confession, and put himself, as he
thought, on equal ground with his antagonist and unconscious rival.

"I didn't do it for no good feelin' to Theodore, Miss Milly," he added,
"for I b'lieve I just _hate_ Theodore. I didn't feel none too good to
him ever since first I seen him, an' the more I saw him the worse I got
to like him; but all the same, I'd got to be fair to him when it
come--came--to his chance bein' lost. If I couldn't take care of myself
that way, I ain't goin' to be fit to take care of these United States.
Miss Milly, you'll tell Mr. Rutherford? I could tell you, but I
couldn't tell him."

Milly answered him that she would be the bearer of his confession; and
left him, much relieved herself to find that he had been guilty of
nothing more serious, and thankful from her very heart to see that her
teachings and his newly-awakened sense of justice would not allow him
to take unfair advantage of another, even though that other might be
one whom he considered an enemy. She lost no time in seeking uncle
Rutherford, and telling him all, so that the boy might not be in
suspense longer than was necessary; for she well knew that he would
find a lenient judge in our uncle.

Nor was she wrong. Uncle Rutherford sent for Jim, and taking the boy's
hand, shook it heartily, as he said, "My boy, you have gained the
mastery over yourself, and no man can achieve a greater victory. I
could wish that you had tried to keep control over your temper from a
better and higher motive than the wish to outstrip Theodore; but we may
trust that you will set that before yourself now. Go on as you have
begun, and the scholarship is yours in good time. My best wishes go
with you, and I sincerely trust that you may win the prize."





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