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´╗┐Title: Little Grandfather
Author: May, Sophie, 1833-1906
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Little Grandfather" ***

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[Illustration: LITTLE GRANDFATHER.]

[Illustration: LITTLE GRANDFATHER.

ILLUSTRATED

LEE & SHEPARD, BOSTON]



LITTLE PRUDY'S FLYAWAY SERIES.


LITTLE GRANDFATHER.

BY

SOPHIE MAY,

AUTHOR OF "LITTLE PRUDY STORIES," "DOTTY DIMPLE STORIES," "THE DOCTOR'S
DAUGHTER." ETC.

_ILLUSTRATED._

BOSTON:
LEE AND SHEPARD, PUBLISHERS.

NEW YORK:
LEE, SHEPARD AND DILLINGHAM.
1874.


Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873,

BY LEE AND SHEPARD,

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

Electrotyped at the Boston Stereotype Foundry,
No. 19 Spring Lane.

    DEDICATION.

    TO

    _LITTLE MARY TOBEY._



_LITTLE PRUDY'S FLYAWAY SERIES._

TO BE COMPLETED IN SIX VOLS.


    1. LITTLE FOLKS ASTRAY.

    2. PRUDY KEEPING HOUSE.

    3. AUNT MADGE'S STORY.

    4. LITTLE GRANDMOTHER.

    5. LITTLE GRANDFATHER.

    6. (In preparation.)



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                            PAGE.

I. THE PARLINS.                                       9

II. WALKING IN SLEEP.                                21

III. THE TRUNDLE-BED.                                41

IV. THE OX-MONEY.                                    53

V. THE BOY THAT WORE HOME THE MEDAL.                 63

VI. THE BOY THAT MEANT TO MIND HIS MOTHER.           80

VII. THE BOY THAT CHEATED.                           97

VIII. THE "NEVER-GIVE-UPS."                         113

IX. THE MUSTER.                                     134

X. GOING TO SEA.                                    153

XI. TO THE FORKS.                                   173

XII. "I HA'E NAEBODY NOW."                          197

XIII. CONCLUSION.                                   215



LITTLE GRANDFATHER.



CHAPTER I.

THE PARLINS.


He did look so funny when they first put him into "pocket-clothes!" His
green "breeches" were so tight that they made you think of two pods of
marrow-fat peas, only they were topped off with a pair of "rocco" shoes,
as red as bell-peppers. He had silver buckles on his shoes, and brass
buttons on his green jacket, which was fastened at the back. He had a
white collar about his neck as large as a small cape, and finished off
around the edge with a ruffle. His mother had snipped his dark locks so
they needn't look so much like a girl's; and then with his brown fur hat
on, which his grandfather Cheever had sent from Boston, he looked in the
glass and smiled at himself.

Do you wonder he smiled?

He had bright black eyes, red cheeks, and a rich, dark skin. He was a
handsome little creature; but when he was tanned, his brother Stephen
called him a "Pawnee Indian," which was a heavy joke, and sank deeper
into Willy's tender soul than Stephen suspected.

After he had viewed himself in the mirror, dressed in his new suit, he
ran to his best comforter, his mother, and said, with a quivering lip,--

"Isn't I _most_ white, mamma?"

His mother caught him to her breast and hugged him, brown fur hat and
all, and told him he mustn't mind Steenie's jokes; he was not an Indian,
and Molly Molasses--the squaw who came around with baskets to
sell--would never carry him off.

He was three years old at this time, and so full of high spirits and
health, that he was rather a troublesome child to manage. Mrs. Parlin
sometimes remarked, with a sigh and a smile,--

"I don't know what I _shall_ do with our Willy!"

If she had said, "I don't know what I should do without him," it would
have been nearer the truth; for never did mother dote more on a child.
He was the youngest, and two little children next older--a son and a
daughter--had been called to their heavenly home before he was born.
People said Mrs. Parlin was in a fair way to spoil Willy, and her
husband was so afraid of it, that he felt it his duty to be very stern
with the boy.

Seth, the oldest son, helped his father in this, and seemed to be
constantly watching to see what Willy would do that was wrong.

Stephen, two years younger than Seth, was not so severe, and hardly ever
scolded, but had a very "hectoring disposition," and loved dearly to
tease his little brother.

Love, the only sister, and the eldest of the family, was almost as
soothing and affectionate to Willy as Mrs. Parlin herself. She was tall,
fair, and slender, like a lily, and you could hardly believe it possible
that she would ever grow to be such a very large woman as her mother,
or that Mrs. Parlin had once been thin and delicate, like Love.

There was another, besides these two, who petted Willy; and that was
"Liddy," the housemaid. Lydia was a Quaker woman, and every "First Day"
and "Fifth Day"--that is, Sunday and Thursday--she went off to a
meeting, which was held over the river, three miles away, in a yellow
"meeting-house" without any steeple. It was not always convenient to
spare Lydia on "Fifth Day," for, Mr. Parlin kept a country hotel, or, as
it was called in those days, a "tavern," and there was plenty of work to
be done; but no matter how much company came, "Liddy" would leave her
pies half rolled out on the board, or her goose half stuffed, and walk
off to the Quaker settlement to meeting. But when she came back, she
went steadily to work again, and was such a good, honest, pious woman,
that nobody thought of finding any fault with her.

She was all the "regular help" Mrs. Parlin had; but Mrs. Knowles did the
washing, and often Siller Noonin came in to help Lydia with an extra
baking.

Caleb Cushing--or, as the country people called him, "Kellup"--was the
man of all work, who took care of the sheep and cattle, and must always
be ready to "put up" the horses of any traveller who happened to stop at
the house.

Mr. and Mrs. Parlin, the four children, and Caleb and Lydia, made up the
household, with the addition of great shaggy Fowler, the dog, and
speckled Molly, the cat, with double fore-paws.

Grandfather Cheever, with his hair done up in a queue, came sometimes
from Boston, and made a long visit; but you could hardly say he belonged
to the family.

Now, my story is to be about Willy, and I would like to describe him;
but how can I, when I have heard such various accounts of the child? I
suppose, if you had questioned the family about him, you would have
heard a different story from every one. His father would have shaken his
head, and said, Willy was a "singular child; there was no _regulation_
to him." Seth would have told you he was "impudent." Stephen would have
called him "a cry-baby," and Caleb, "the laziest little chap he ever
came across;" though "grandf'ther Cheever" thought him "very bright and
stirring." Love would have said, "He is _so_ affectionate!" which his
father very much doubted. Lydia might possibly have called him a
"rogue," because he would spy out her doughnuts and pies, no matter
where she hid them away for safe keeping.

But I know very well how his _mother_ would have answered your question
about Willy. She would have said, "Don't talk of his faults; he is my
own little darling."

And then she would have opened her arms wide, and taken him right in:
that is the way it is with mothers.

Thus you see our Willy was not the same to everybody; and no child ever
is. To those who loved him he was "sweet as summer;" but not so to those
who loved him not.

I suspect Willy was rather contrarily made up; something like a mince
pie, perhaps. Let us see.

Short and crusty, now and then; rich, in good intentions; sweet, when he
had his own way; sour, when you crossed him; well-spiced, with bright
little speeches. All these qualities made up Willy's "points;" and you
know a mince pie is good for nothing without points.

Some people brought out one of these "points," and some another. Seth
expected him to be as sharp as cider vinegar; and so I am afraid he was,
whenever Seth corrected him. But his mother looked for sweet qualities
in her little darling, and was never disappointed.

Willy slept in the bedroom, in a trundle-bed which had held every one of
the children, from the oldest to the youngest. After he had said his
prayers, Mrs. Parlin tucked him up nice and warm, and even while she
stood looking at his rosy cheeks, with the rich fringes of his eyelids
resting on them, he often dropped off into dreamland. She had a way of
watching him in his sleep, and blessing him without any words, only
saying in her heart,--

"Dear God, let me keep this last precious treasure! But if that may not
be, O, lay it up for me in heaven."

Willy was afraid to go to bed alone, which is hardly to be wondered at;
for he had a strange and dreadful habit of walking in his sleep. Such
habits are not as common now as they were in old times, I believe.
Whether Willy's walks had anything to do with the cider and doughnuts,
which were sometimes given him in the evening, unknown to his mother, I
cannot say; but Mrs. Parlin was never sure, when she "tucked" him into
his trundle-bed, that he would spend the night there. Quite as likely he
would go wandering about the house; and one cold winter, when he was a
little more than seven years old, he got up regularly every night, and
walked fast asleep into the bar-room, which was always full of men, and
took his seat by the fireplace.

This was such a constant habit, that the men expected to see him about
half past eight o'clock, just as much as they expected to see the cider
and apples which "Kellup" brought out of the cellar.

In those days cider was almost as freely drunk as water, and so, I
grieve to say, was New England rum and brandy; and you must not suppose
Mr. Parlin was a bad man because he allowed such drinking in his
bar-room. There were no pledges signed in those days, but he was a
perfectly temperate man, and a church member; he would have thought it
very strange indeed if any one had told him he was doing wrong to sell
liquor to his neighbors.

And now, having introduced Master Willy and the rest of the family as
well as I can, I will go on to tell you a few of Willy's adventures,
some of which occurred while he was asleep, and some while he was
awake.



CHAPTER II.

WALKING IN SLEEP.


About seven o'clock, one cold evening, Willy was in the bar-room,
sitting on Caleb's knee, and holding a private conversation with him,
while he nibbled a cookie.

"Don't you think it's the beautifulest bossy ever you saw?"

"Well, middlin' handsome," replied Caleb, mischievously; "middlin'
handsome."

"O, Caleb, when it's got a white place in its forehead shaped _so_!"
said Willy, biting his cookie into something like the form of a star.

"Well, yes; you see he'd be quite a decent-looking calf, if it wasn't
for that white streak, now," said Caleb, in a tone of regret.

"If it _wasn't_ for that white streak! Why, Caleb Cushing!--when 'twas
put there to purpose to be kissed! Love said so."

"Well, everybody to their fancy," returned Caleb, dryly. "I never had
any notion for kissing cattle, myself."

"She isn't a cattle, Cale Cushing. She's my bossy."

"Yours, do you say? Then you'd better take care of him, Willy. He walked
up to the kitchen door to-day, to see if he could find anything there to
lay his hands on."

"Hands? He hasn't any hands, Caleb! But you ought to take care of her,
any way, till I grow a man; father spects you to. And then, when she
gets to be a ox--"

"Well, what are you going to do when she gets to be a ox?"

Willy looked puzzled. He had never thought of that before.

"Have him killed--shan't you, sonny? He'll make very nice eating."

Willy stood upright on Caleb's knee, in horror and amaze.

"My bossy killed? I'll send anybody to jail that kills that bossy."

"Then perhaps you'd better trade him off now to Squire Lyman. Didn't the
squire offer to swap his baby for him?"

"Yes; and so I would if that baby was a boy," said Willy, thoughtfully;
"but she's only a girl--couldn't help me bring in chips, you know.
Guess I don't want a girl-baby."

Caleb laughed at this very quietly, but his whole frame was shaking; and
Willy turned round and looked him in the eye with strong displeasure.

"What you laughing at, Cale Cushing? You mustn't make fun of my bossy.
I'll tell you what I'll do with her. I'll keep her to haul hay with."

"Did you ever see one ox hauling hay alone, Willy?"

"No; but I'll have a little cart, and then she can."

"But the trouble is, Willy, your ox might feel lonesome."

"Well, I'll buy one ox more, and then he won't be lonesome."

"Ah! but, Willy, oxen cost money."

"'Sif I didn't know that! How much money do they cost, Caleb?"

"Sometimes more, sometimes less. Pretty high this winter, for hay is
plenty. There was a man along from the west'ard, and, Willy, what think
he offered your pa for that brindled yoke of his?"

"Three dollars?"

"Seventy-five dollars; and your pa wouldn't let 'em go under ninety!
Think of that," added Caleb, dropping his voice, and appearing to talk
to the beech-wood fire, which was crackling in the big fireplace. "Think
of that! Ninety dollars! Enough to buy a small farm! Just what I should
have got in the logging-swamp, winter before last, if Dascom hadn't
cheated me out of it."

"What did you say, Caleb?"

"O, I was just talking to myself," replied Caleb, rather bitterly. "It
wasn't anything little boys should hear. I was only thinking how easy
money comes to some folks, and how hard it comes to others. You see I
worked a whole winter once, and never got a cent of pay; and I couldn't
help feeling it when your pa put that ninety dollars away in his
drawer."

"You didn't want my father's money--did you, Caleb Cushing?"

"No, child; only I knew if I'd had justice done me, I should have had
ninety dollars myself. It was mine by good rights, and I hadn't ought to
be cheated out of it."

Willy looked up astonished. What did Caleb mean by saying it was "his by
good rights"?--his father's money. For he had not heard all Caleb's
remarks, and what he had heard he had entirely misunderstood.

"Willy!" called his mother's voice from the sitting-room; but the little
fellow, was too excited to hear.

"Do you mean my father's money, Caleb, that he keeps in his drawer?"

"Yes, yes, child; laid inside of a book," replied Caleb, carelessly.

"What! and you want it?--my father's money?"

"Yes, yes," laughed Caleb; "off to bed, child. Don't you hear your
mother calling?"

Willy slipped down from the man's knee, and walked out of the room in
deep thought. Why Caleb should want his father's money, and say he had
a right to it, was more than he could understand; and he went to sleep
with his little brain in a whirl.

Very soon tired and chilly teamsters began to pour into the bar-room,
and rub their hands before the roaring fire. Caleb, who had quite
forgotten his unlucky conversation with Master Willy, put fresh wood on
the andirons, and brushed the hearth with a strip broom. Presently Mr.
Parlin himself appeared in the doorway, bearing a huge pitcher of cider,
which sparkled in a jolly way, as if it were glad to leave its hogshead
prison in the dark cellar, and come up into such lively company.

"Well, neighbors, this is a cold evening," said Mr. Parlin, setting the
pitcher down on the counter, and looking round with a hospitable smile.
"Caleb, fetch out the loggerhead."

Caleb drew from the left ear of the fireplace a long iron bar, and
thrust it into the hot coals. That was the loggerhead, and you will soon
see what it was used for.

While it was still heating, Dr. Hilton took from one corner of the room
a child's arm-chair, and set it down at a comfortable distance from the
fireplace.

"We'll have it all ready for Bubby, when he makes us his visit," said
he, laughing.

Some one always placed the chair there for Willy, and it was usually Dr.
Hilton.

When the loggerhead was red hot, Caleb drew it out of the coals, and
plunged it into the cold cider, which immediately began to bubble and
hiss. Then he poured the sparkling liquid into mugs for the thirsty
teamsters to drink; and while he was still holding the pitcher high in
air, that the cider might come down with a good "bead," the door slowly
opened, and in glided Willy, in his yellow flannel night-dress.

The men smiled and nodded at one another, but said nothing, as the child
crossed the floor, seated himself in the little red chair, and began to
rock. He rocked with such careless grace, and held his little feet
before the blaze so naturally, that you would have thought he came into
the room merely to warm his toes and to hear the men talk. You would
never have supposed he was asleep unless you had looked at his eyes.
They were wide open, it is true, but fixed, like a doll's eyes. If you
had held a lighted candle before them, I suppose they would not have
winked.

[Illustration: THE LITTLE SLEEP-WALKER.--Page 31.]

In fact, Willy was fast asleep and dreaming; and all the difference
between him and other sleepers was, that he acted out his dreams.

"Queer what ails that child! Must be trouble on the brain, and he ought
to be bled," said Dr. Hilton, with the wise roll of the eye he always
gave when he talked of diseases.

Nobody answered, for the doctor had said the same thing fifty times
before.

Still little Willy kept on rocking and dreaming, as unconscious as a
yellow lily swinging on its stem.

Everybody had a story to tell, which everybody else laughed at, while
the fire joined in the uproar right merrily. Still Willy slept on.

Presently a glare of light at the windows startled the company.

"Must be a fire somewhere!" said one of the men.

"Only the moon rising," said another.

"That's no place to look for the moon," said Mr. Parlin, seizing his hat
and cloak.

"Fire! Fire!" shouted Mr. Riggs, running to the door in a panic.

"I'll warrant it's nothing but a chimney burning out," remarked Caleb,
coolly; and when all the rest had gone to learn what it meant, he chose
to stay behind.

There was nobody left in the bar-room now but himself and the sleeping
Willy.

"Guess I'll take a look at the drawer, and see that the money is all
right," said careful Caleb, stepping inside the bar, which had a long
wooden grate, and looked somewhat like an enormous bird-cage, with the
roof off. "Mr. Parlin is a very careless man," said Caleb, drawing a
key from its hiding-place in an account-book; "he's dreadful free and
easy about money. I don't know what he'd do without me to look out for
him."

So saying, Caleb turned the key in the lock, and opened the drawer.
There were rolls of bank bills lying in it, and handfuls of gold and
silver.

"With so many coming and going in this house, it's a wonder Mr. Parlin
ain't robbed every night of his life," said Caleb, reckoning over the
bills very fast, for he was in the habit of counting money.

Was it all right? Was the ox money there? When the "man from the
west'ard" paid it to Mr. Parlin, Caleb saw Mr. Parlin spread it between
the leaves of a little singing-book and lay it in the drawer. Did Caleb
find it there now? And if he did, did he _leave_ it there?

Little boys, what do you suppose? You see he had been cheated out of
ninety dollars, and was very angry about it; and now he had the best
chance in the world to help himself to another ninety dollars, and make
up his loss. Do you think he would do it? Mr. Parlin _was_ very careless
about money; quite likely he would never miss this. Was that what Caleb
was thinking about, as he knit his brows so hard?

True, Caleb professed to fear God, but perhaps he did not fear Him;
perhaps he had been living a lie all this time--who knows?

After he had staid inside the bar a little while, he came out, and
looking carefully at Willy, to make sure he was still asleep, stole out
doors and joined the teamsters. They had only reached the top of the
hill, and hardly any one had noticed that Caleb had not been with them
all the while. The fire was only Mr. Chase's chimney burning out; but it
was so late by this time that the men did not go back to Mr. Parlin's
bar-room.

Next morning Caleb went over to Cross Lots to see about selling a load
of potatoes, and soon after he left there was a great excitement in the
house. Mr. Parlin had found, on going to his money-drawer, that he had
lost ninety dollars.

"Strange!" said he; "I remember it was there all safe at six o'clock;
for I saw it with my own eyes. It was spread in an old singing-book; and
the singing-book is gone too."

"Could anybody have taken it?" said Love. "Who was here last night?"

"O, I never leave a man alone in the bar-room," replied her father; "at
any rate I didn't last night."

"Caleb would attend to that," said Mrs. Parlin; "he is more particular
than you are, I think."

Willy looked up, with his black eyes full of questions.

"Was it that money you had for the oxen, papa? Caleb telled me all about
it last night. He said you ought to not keep it; you ought to give it to
him; he wanted it."

Mr. Parlin shook his head at Willy. "You mustn't make up such stories as
that, my son."

"I guess he dreamed it," said sister Love.

"O, I didn't, I didn't; Caleb said so," cried Willy; "he said so last
night."

Caleb was gone an unusually long time; and when Dr. Hilton returned from
Harlow he said he left him at the bank in that town depositing some
money.

That seemed strange, for Caleb had been so unfortunate that no one
supposed he had any money to put in the bank.

"If it was anybody but Caleb, I should almost suspect he took that
ninety dollars," said Seth, after a while.

"Don't--don't think it," exclaimed his mother; "we know Caleb too well
for that."

"O, no, no, no!" cried little Willy. "Caleb is going to give me some
rabbits. Caleb carries me pickaback; do you s'pose he'd steal?"

They all laughed at that; it was a little boy's reasoning.

When Caleb came home that night, and was asked why he had been gone so
long, he blushed, and, as Seth thought, looked guilty. He did not say he
had put any money in the bank, and did not even mention having been at
Harlow at all. Nobody could think why he should make such a secret of
going to Harlow, for Caleb was a great talker, and usually told all his
affairs to everybody.

"Father has lost ninety dollars, Caleb," said Seth, looking him straight
in the eye; "who do you suppose has got it?"

"Where? When?" cried Caleb; and then, when he had heard the story, he
turned quite pale, and declared he was "'palled." When Caleb was greatly
amazed, he said he was "'palled."

It was very uncomfortable at Mr. Parlin's for a few days. Nobody liked
to believe that Caleb had taken the money, but it did really seem very
much like it. Mrs. Parlin said she could not and would not believe it,
and she even shed tears when she saw her husband and sons treat Caleb so
coldly.

Poor Caleb! Whether he was guilty or not, he was certainly very unhappy.

"Willy," said he, "what made you tell your father I said I wanted his
money? I never made such a speech in my life?"

"O, yes, you did, Caleb! Certain true you did! And I a sitting on your
knee. But you wouldn't steal, Cale Cushing, and I telled my papa you
wouldn't."

"Willy," said Caleb, sadly, "I don't think you mean to tell a lie, but
what you are talking about I don't know. I never stole so much as a pin
in my life; yet all the same I must go away from this place. I can't
stay where everybody is pointing the finger at me."

"Who pointed a finger at you, Caleb? I didn't see 'em."

Caleb smiled a broken-hearted smile, kissed Willy over and over again,
and went away that night, no one knew whither. He said to himself,--

    "Honor gone, all's gone;
    Better never have been born."

Was he guilty? Who could tell? Was he innocent? Then you may be sure God
would make it clear some time. Caleb would only have to wait.



CHAPTER III.

THE TRUNDLE-BED.


They were all very sorry to have Caleb go away, for he had lived in the
family a great many years, and was always good-natured and obliging.

"But since he has turned out to be a thief, of course we don't want him
here," said Seth.

"How can you speak so, my son?" said his mother, reprovingly. "You do
not really know any harm of Caleb. Remember what the Bible says, 'Judge
not, that ye be not judged.'

"Why, mother, who judged Caleb? Who ever accused him of stealing? I
should think he judged himself--shouldn't you? When a man runs away as
he did, it looks very much as if he was guilty."

"O, no," said gentle Love, who was knitting "double mittens" in the
corner; "that isn't a sure sign at all. I dare say he went away because
he was unhappy. How would _you_ like to live with people that don't
trust you? Why, Seth, you couldn't bear it, I'm sure."

"I wish Caleb didn't go off," said Willy; "he was a-going to give me a
rabbit."

"Well," said Stephen, in a teasing tone, "he wouldn't have gone off if
it hadn't been for you, Master Willy! You said he wanted father's money,
you know, and that was what put us to thinking."

"O, yes, he telled me he wanted it," cried the little fellow stoutly.

"Willy, Willy, you should be more careful in repeating other people's
words," said Mrs. Parlin, looking up from the jacket she was making.
"Little boys like you are so apt to make mistakes, that they ought to
say, 'Perhaps,' or, 'I think so,' and never be too sure."

"Then I'm not sure; but _perhaps_ I know, and I _guess_ I think so real
hard."

"That's right, little Pawnee Indian," laughed Stephen. "Indians like you
always stick fast to an idea when they once get hold of it."

"I'm not an Indian," said Willy, ready to cry; "and I never said Caleb
stealed; 'twas you said so; you know you did."

It grew very cold that winter, about "Christmas-tide," and one night the
wind howled and shrieked, while up in the sky the moon and stars seemed
to shiver and shine like so many icicles. Willy had been put to bed at
the usual time, and nicely tucked in, and it was nearly half past eight,
the time for him to begin his wanderings. Lydia sat by the kitchen
fireplace, comforting herself with hot ginger tea.

"It would be too bad for that little creetur to get out of bed such a
night as this," thought she; "I'm going in to see if he has enough
clothes on. Who knows but his dear little nose is about _fruz_ off by
this time?"

So she stole into the bedroom, which opened out of the kitchen, took a
peep at her beloved Willy, made sure his nose was safe, and turned down
the coverlet to see if his hands were warm.

"Poor, sweet little lamb! Not much cold now; but thee will be cold;
this room is just like a barn."

Then, as "Liddy" went back to the kitchen, she wondered if it might not
be the cold weather that made Willy have what she called his
"walking-spells."

"For he is so much worse in winter than he is in summer," thought she.
"Any way, I'm going to try, and see if I can't put a stop to it
to-night; and then, if the _expeeriment_ works, I'll try it again."

What "expeeriment"? You will soon see. There had been a quantity of
charcoal put on the kitchen fire to broil some steak for travellers; so
the kind-hearted Liddy bustled about on tiptoe, filled a shallow pan
with some of the coals, "piping hot," and placed it very near the
trundle-bed, on Mrs. Parlin's foot-stove.

Alas for Liddy's ignorance! she was always rather foolish in her
fondness for Willy; but didn't she know any better than to put a dish of
red coals so near him in a small room, and then go out and shut the
door? She often said she didn't "see any use in all this book-larning,"
and wondered Mrs. Parlin should be so anxious to have her children go to
school. In her whole life Liddy had never attended school more than six
months; and as for chemistry and philosophy she knew nothing about them
except that they are hard words to spell. She did not dream that there
was a deadly gas rising every moment from that charcoal, and that her
darling Willy was breathing it into his lungs. She may have heard of the
word "gas," but if she had she supposed it was some sort of "airy
nothing" not worth mentioning.

Of course _you_ know that if she had hated Willy, and wished to murder
him, she could hardly have chosen a surer way than this; but poor Liddy
went back to the kitchen with a smiling face, feeling well pleased with
her "_expeeriment_," and began to chop a hash of beef, pork, and all
sorts of vegetables, for to-morrow's breakfast.

After a little while Willy began to toss about uneasily; but he did not
come out of the room and Liddy was delighted. She had said she meant to
put a stop to that; and so, indeed, she had,--for this time at least.
The dear child had not strength enough to get out of bed, and moaned as
if a heavy hand were clutching at his throat. In fact he was
suffocating. It is frightful to think of! Was nobody coming to save him?

The chilly teamsters had some time ago crowded into the bar-room with
frost on their hair and whiskers; but the frost was fast turning to
steam as they drank the cider which John, the new hired man, heated with
the red-hot loggerhead. Dr. Hilton had set out the little red chair, and
somebody would have wondered why Willy did not come in, if the men had
not all been so busy telling stories that they did not have time to
think of anything else.

It was now nearly nine, and Mrs. Parlin and Love were in the
sitting-room sewing by the light of two tallow candles.

"Isn't it the coldest night we've had this year, mother?"

"Yes, dear, I think it is. You know what the old ditty says,--

    'When the days begin to lengthen,
    The cold begins to strengthen.'

"I do wish dear little Willy would stay in his bed, nicely 'happed' in'"
(_happed_ is the Scotch word for "tucked"), "but I suppose he is just as
well off by the bar-room fire. It's lucky he doesn't take a fancy to
wander anywhere else, and we can always tell where he is."

"But, mother, I haven't heard him pass through the south entry,--have
you? I always know when he goes into the bar-room by the quick little
click of the latch."

"So do I," replied her mother; "but now I think of it, I haven't heard
him to-night. I can't help hoping he is going to lie still."

There was nothing more said for a little while. They were both very busy
finishing off a homespun suit for Willy. How should they suspect that a
strange stupor was fast stealing over their little darling? Who was
going to tell them that even now he was entering the valley of the
shadow of death? _Who?_ I cannot answer that question; I only know that
just then Mrs. Parlin, who was going to bed in about fifteen minutes,
and did not like to leave her work yet, suddenly dropped the jacket,
which was almost done, and said,--

"Love, I guess I'll go in and look at that child. He may have tossed the
clothes off and got a little chilly."

Then she arose from her chair slowly,--she was so large that she always
moved slowly,--took one of the candles, and went into the kitchen.

As she opened the bedroom door--Well, I cannot tell you; you will have
to imagine that white, white face, pressed close to the pillow, that
limp little figure, stretched under the coverlet, in awful stillness.

"O God, is it too late?" thought Mrs. Parlin. She saw the charcoal; she
understood it all in an instant.

"Lydia, come quick!"

A low moan fell on her ear as she bent to listen. Thank Heaven, it was
not too late! Willy could yet be saved!

Happy mother, receiving her precious one as if from the dead! Bewildered
Willy, coming back to life with no remembrance of the dark river which
he had almost forded, without a thought of the pearly gates he had
almost entered!

Conscience-stricken "Liddy!" How she suffered when she found what she
had done! Not that she made a scene by screaming and tearing her hair,
as some ignorant people are apt to do at such a time. No; Liddy was a
Quaker, and the Quaker blood is very quiet. She only pressed her hands
together hard, and said to Mrs. Parlin,--

"Thee knows I never _meant_ any harm to that sweet child."



CHAPTER IV.

THE OX-MONEY.


Perhaps the shock had some effect upon Willy's habits, for after this he
did not walk in his sleep for some time.

But one night, as the teamsters were drinking their cider, and talking
about the well-beloved "Kellup," wondering why he should take it into
his head to steal,--"as honest a man, they had always thought, as ever
trod shoe-leather,"--the bar-room door softly opened, and in glided
Willy, in his flannel night-dress.

The men were really glad to see him, and nodded at one another, smiling,
but, as usual, made no remark about the child. They knew he could not
hear, but it seemed as if he could, and they were a little careful what
they said before him.

"Yes," said Mr. Parlin, going on to speak of Caleb, "I considered him an
honest, God-fearing man, and trusted him as I would one of my own sons.
If there was any other way to account for that money, I should be glad,
I assure you,--as glad as any of you."

"Where has Kellup gone to?" asked Mr. Griggs.

"Gone to Bangor, they say."

All this while Willy had not seated himself in his little chair, but was
walking towards the bar. After muttering to himself a little while, he
went in and took from the shelf the old account-book. Mr. Parlin looked
at the teamsters, and put his finger on his lips as a hint for them to
keep still, and see what the child would do.

Willy felt in the account-book for the key, then glided along to the
money-drawer and opened it.

"There, now, it isn't here," said he, after he had fumbled about for a
while with his chubby fingers; "the book isn't here that had the
ox-money in it. Caleb mustn't have that money; it belongs to my father."

The men grew very much interested, and began to creep up a little
nearer, in order to catch every word.

"Money all gone," sighed Willy; and then, appearing to think for a
moment, added, "O, yes; but I know where I put it!"

Breathless with surprise, Mr. Parlin and his guests watched the child as
he pattered with bare feet across the floor to the west side of the
room, climbed upon a high stool, and opening the "vial cupboard," took
out from a chink in the wall, behind the bottles, a little old
singing-book.

It was only the danger of startling Willy too suddenly that prevented
the amazed father from snatching the book out of his hand.

"Yes, the ox-money is here," said Willy, patting the notes, which lay
between the leaves.

How _do_ you suppose he could see them, with his eyes fixed and vacant?

Then he seemed to be considering for a space what to do; but at last put
the singing-book back again in the chink behind the bottles, clambered
down from the stool, and taking his favorite seat in the red chair,
began to warm his little cold feet before the fire.

"Well, that beats all!" exclaimed Dr. Hilton, before any one else could
get breath to speak.

Mr. Parlin went at once to the cupboard, and took down the singing-book.

"The money is safe and sound," said he, as he looked it over,--"safe and
sound; and Caleb Cushing is an honest man, thank the Lord!"

"Three cheers for Caleb!" said Dr. Hilton.

"Three cheers for Kellup!" cried one of the teamsters.

And quite forgetting the sleeping child, the rest of the teamsters took
up the toast, and shouted,--

"Three cheers for Kellup Cushing! Hoo-ra-a-ay!"

Of course that waked Willy, and frightened him dreadfully. Imagine
yourself going to sleep in bed, and waking up in a chair in another
room, in a great noise. It was the first time the little fellow had ever
been roused from one of his "walking-spells," and they had to carry him
away to his mother to be comforted.

He did not know that night what had happened; but next morning they told
him that Caleb did not steal the money, and that papa had written a
letter to beg him to come back.

"And how think we found out that Caleb didn't steal?" asked Stephen.

Of course Willy had not the least idea.

"Because you stole the money yourself!" replied the hectoring Stephen.

"O, what a story!" exclaimed Willy, angrily. "'S if _I'd_ steal!"

"Ah, but you did, little man! I'll leave it to father if you didn't!"

Willy stamped and kicked. He had a high temper when it was aroused, and
his sister Love had to come and quiet him.

"You took the money in your sleep," said she. "You didn't mean to do it;
you are not a thief, dear; and we love you just as well as we did
before."

They all thought Willy must have had a dream about Caleb and the
ox-money, or he would never have gone and taken the singing-book out of
the drawer; but from that day to this he has never been able to
remember the dream.

Caleb cried for joy when he received the letter, and fell on his
knees,--so he afterwards told grandpa Cheever,--and thanked his heavenly
Father for bringing him out of the greatest trial he had ever had in his
life. He was very glad to go back to Mr. Parlin's, and everybody there
received him like a prince. King George the Third, coming in his own
ship from England, would not have been treated half so well; for the
Parlins despised him,--poor crazy monarch,--whereas they now thought
Caleb was the very pink of perfection. Even Seth begged pardon for his
hasty judgment. Mrs. Parlin gave him "election cake," for supper, and
some of her very best ginger preserves, and said she did not see how
they could make up for the pain of mind he had suffered.

Caleb confessed that he _had_ felt "kind o' bad; but it wasn't worth
speaking of now."

After this, when Willy told any improbable story, and insisted that it
was true, as children often will, his mother had only to remark,--

"Remember Caleb! You said he wanted your father's money. Is this story
any more reasonable than that?" and Willy would blush, and stammer
out,--

"Well, _perhaps_ it isn't true, mamma. I won't tell it for certain; but
I _think_ so, you know!"

       *       *       *       *       *

I believe this was the only time that Willy ever did anything in his
sleep that is worth recording. The rest of his adventures occurred when
he was wide awake; so, you see, if he did wrong there was not so much
excuse for him.



CHAPTER V.

THE BOY THAT WORE HOME THE MEDAL.


The school-house was deep red, and shamed the Boston pinks, which could
not blush to the least advantage near it. It stood on a sand-bank, with
a rich crop of thistles on three sides, and an oak tree in one corner.
There were plenty of beautiful places in town; but the people of
Perseverance, District Number Three, had chosen this spot for their
school-house, because it was not good for anything else.

It was the middle of September, but the summer term was still in
session, because school had not begun that year until after haying. It
was Saturday noon, and the fourth class was spelling. The children were
all toeing a chalk-mark in the floor, but Willy Parlin scowled and moved
about uneasily.

"Order there," said Miss Judkins, pounding the desk with her ruler.
"What makes you throw your head back so, William Parlin?"

"'Cause there's somebody trying to tell me the word, and I don't want
anybody to tell me," answered Willy, with another toss of his dark
locks.

Fred Chase was sitting on a bench behind the class, with an open
spelling-book before him, and was the "somebody" who had been whispering
the word to Willy; but Willy was naturally as open as the day, and
despised anything sly. More than that, he knew his lesson perfectly.

Miss Judkins asked no more questions, for she was well aware that Fred
Chase was constantly doing just such things. She smiled as she looked at
Willy's noble face, and was well pleased soon after to hear him spell a
word which had been missed by three boys above him, and march straight
up to the head. She always liked to have Willy "Captain," for deep down
in her heart he was her favorite scholar. There were only a few more
words to be spelled; then Willy called out "Captain," the next boy said
"Number One," the third "Number Two," and so on down the whole twenty;
and after that the school was dismissed for the week.

The "mistress" put on her blue gingham "calash,"--a big drawn bonnet
shaped like a chaise-top,--and as she was leaving the house she
whispered to Willy, "Don't forget what I told you to say to your
mother."

"No, marm; you told me to say you'd asked Mrs. Lyman _if it was so_, and
Mrs. Lyman said, '_Yes, it is too true._'"

"That is it, exactly, dear," replied Miss Judkins, smiling. "And be sure
you don't lose your medal."

She said that just for fun, and it was such a capital joke that Willy's
eyes twinkled. Lose the quarter of a dollar dangling from his neck by a
red string!--the medal which told as plainly as words can speak, that he
had left off that day at the head of his class!

As it was Saturday, he was to keep the medal till Monday morning--a
great privilege, and one he had enjoyed two or three times before. But
there was this drawback; he had to slip the medal under his jacket, out
of sight, on Sunday. It was the more to be regretted, as he sat in one
of the "amen pews," not far from the pulpit; and if the medal might only
hang outside his jacket, where it ought, Elder Lovejoy would certainly
catch sight of it when he turned round, and looked through his
spectacles, saying, "And now, seventhly, my dear hearers."

Willy would sit, to-morrow, swelling with secret pride, and wishing
Elder Lovejoy's eyes were sharp enough to pierce through his jacket. But
then, as he told his mother, he "liked the feeling of the medal, even
if it _was_ covered up." I suppose there was some satisfaction in
knowing he was more of a boy than people took him to be.

"Wonder what it is that Mrs. Lyman says is too true," thought Willy,
taking a piece of chalk out of his pocket, and drawing a profile of Miss
Judkins on the door-sill, while that young lady tripped along the road,
brushing the golden-rod and sweet-fern with the skirt of her dress.

"Now stop that, Gid Noonin," said he, as a large boy came up behind him,
and tickled him under the arms. "Stop that!" repeated he, making chalk
figures, as he spoke, in the ample nose of Miss Judkins.

"7ber 18001," scrawled he, slowly and carefully. "7ber" was short for
September; and Gideon could find no fault with that, for people often
wrote it so; but he could not help laughing at the extra cipher in the
year 1801.

"Give me that chalk," chuckled he; and then he wrote, in bold
characters, "7ber the 15th, 1801."

Willy dropped his head. He had not learned to write; but did he want to
be taught by that great Gid Noonin, the stupidest boy in school? Why, he
had gone above Gid long ago, just by spelling "exact." Gideon spelt it
e, g, z! Did you ever hear of anything so silly? And he a fellow twelve
years old! Willy was just eight, but he hoped he could spell! If you
doubted it, there was the medal!

Gideon was not only a poor scholar,--he was regarded as a bad boy, and
many mothers warned their little sons not to play with him.

"Look here, Billy, what you up to this afternoon? Going anywhere?"

"Only up to the store, I guess. Why?"

"O, nothing partic'lar. Just asked for fun."

"Well, give back that piece of chalk," said Willy, "for it isn't mine.
Steve keeps it in his pocket to rub his shoe-buckles with."

Gideon laughed, but would not return the chalk till he had whitened
Willy's jacket with it and the top of his hat. He never seemed to mean
any harm, but just to be running over with good-natured, silly mischief.

Willy ran home whistling; but when he saw his father standing in the
front entry, his tune grew a little slower, and then stopped. Mr. Parlin
was rather stern with his children, and did not like to have them make
much noise in the house.

"Well, my son, so you have brought home the medal again. That's
right,--that's right."

Willy took off his hat when his father spoke to him, and answered, "Yes,
sir," with a respectful bow.

There were two or three men standing in the doorway which led into the
bar-room.

"How d'ye do, my fine little lad?" said one of the men; "and what is
your name?"

Now, this was a question which Deacon Turner had asked over and over
again, and Willy was rather tired of answering it. He thought the deacon
might remember after being told so many times.

"My name is just the same as it was the other day when you asked me,
sir," said he.

This pert speech called forth a laugh from all but Mr. Parlin, who
frowned at the child, and exclaimed,--

"You are an ill-mannered little boy, sir. Go to your mother, and don't
let me see you here again till you can come back with a civil tongue in
your head."

Tears sprang to Willy's eyes. He really had not intended any rudeness,
and was ashamed of being reproved before strangers. He walked off quite
stiffly, wishing he was "a growed-up man, so there wouldn't anybody dare
send him out to his mother."

But when he reached the kitchen, he found it so attractive there that he
soon forgot his disgrace. A roast of beef was sizzling before the fire
on a string, and Siller Noonin was taking a steaming plum pudding out of
the Dutch oven, while Mrs. Parlin stood near the "broad dresser," as it
was called, cutting bread.

"O, mother, mother! the mistress told me to tell you she asked Mrs.
Lyman what you asked her to, and she told _her_ to ask _me_ to tell
_you_ it was too true.--Now, _what_ is too true, mother?"

"It is too true that you are right in my way, you dear little plague,"
said Mrs. Parlin, stopping, in the very act of cutting bread, to hug the
rosy-cheeked boy. She was a "business woman," and had many cares on her
mind, but always found time to kiss and pet her children more than most
people did, and much more than Siller Noonin thought was really
necessary.

"But, then," as Siller said, "their father never makes anything of them
at all; so I suppose their mother feels obliged to do more than her part
of the kissing."

"Mother, mother! what is it that is too true? How can anything be too
true?" asked Willy, dancing across the hearth, and almost upsetting the
dripping-pan in which Liddy had just made the gravy.

"You shall hear, by and by, all it is best for you to know," replied
Mrs. Parlin. And after dinner was served, and Siller had gone home, she
told him that Siller's nephew, Gideon Noonin, had been a very naughty
boy--worse than people generally supposed him to be.

She did not like to repeat the whole of the sad story,--how he had
stolen money from Mr. Griggs, the toll-gatherer, and how poor Mr.
Noonin, the father, had paid it back by selling some sheep, and begged
Mr. Griggs not to send his bad son to jail. She did not wish Willy to
know all this; but she told him she was more than ever convinced that
Gideon was a wicked boy.

"I don't know what makes you little children all like him so well," said
she. "He may be funny and good-natured, but he is not a suitable
playmate for anybody, especially for a small boy like you. Remember the
old proverb, 'Eggs should not dance with stones.'"

Willy looked deeply interested while his mother was talking, and said he
would never speak to Gideon except to answer questions.

"But he does ask so many questions! I tell you, mamma, he's always
taking hold of you, and asking if you don't want to go somewhere, or do
something. And then he makes you go right along and do it, 'cause he's
so big. Why he's twice as big as me, mother; but he can't spell worth a
cent."

A little while after this, Willy ran off, whistling, to buy some
mackerel and codfish at Daddy Wiggins's store. Before he reached the
store, he heard a voice up in the air calling out to him,--

"Hullo, Billy Button! what you crying about down there?"

Willy stopped whistling, and looked up to see where the voice came from.
Gideon Noonin was sitting on the bough of a great maple tree, eating
gingerbread. The sight of his face filled Willy with strange feelings.
What a naughty, dreadful face it was, with the purple scar across the
left cheek! Willy had never admired that scar, but now he thought it was
horrible. His mother was right: Gid must be a very bad boy.

At the same time Gid's eyes danced in the most enticing manner, and
laughing gleefully he threw down a great ragged piece of gingerbread,
which Willy knew, from past experience, must be remarkably nice. It was
glazed on the top as smooth as satin, and had caraway seeds in it, and
another kind of spice of an unknown name. Willy intended to obey his
mother, and beware of Gideon; but who had ever told him to beware of
Gideon's gingerbread? Gid might be bad, but surely the gingerbread
wasn't! Moreover, if nobody ate it, it would get stepped on in the road,
and wasted. So to save it Willy opened his mouth and began to nibble. No
harm in that--was there?

"Wan't to go swimming, Billy?"

Willy was walking along as fast as he could, but of course he must
answer a civil question.

"No. Don't know how to swim."

"Who s'posed you did--a little fellow like you?" said Gid, in a
warm-hearted tone, as he dropped nimbly down from the tree, and alighted
on his head. "Come 'long o' me, and I'll show you how."

Willy's eyes sparkled,--he didn't know it, but they did,--and he drew in
his breath with a "Whew!" Not that he had the least idea of going with
Gid; but the very thought of it was perfectly bewitching. How often he
had teased his two brothers to teach him to swim! and they wouldn't. He
was always too young, and they never could stop. They thought he was a
baby; but Gid didn't think so. Ah, Gid knew better than that.



CHAPTER VI.

THE BOY THAT MEANT TO MIND HIS MOTHER.


"Come on, Billy Button."

"O, Gid Noonin, I can't."

"Why not? Got the cramp?"

"Look here, Gid."

"Well, I'm looking."

"Now, Gid Noonin!"

"Yes; that's my name!"

"I shan't go a step!"

"So I wouldn't," returned Gid, coolly. "I only asked you for fun."

"O--h! H'm! Are you going to swim in the brook or the river?"

"Brook, you goosie. Prime place down there by the old willow tree.
Don't you wish I'd let you go?"

"No; for my mother says--"

"O, _does_ she, though?"

"My mother says--"

"Lor, now, Billy Button!"

"Hush, Gid; my mother says--"

"A pretty talking woman your mother is!" struck in Gid, squinting his
eyes.

What a witty creature Gid was! Willy could hardly keep from laughing.

"Can't you let me speak, Gid Noonin? My mother says she won't--"

"Says she _won't_? That's real wicked kind of talk! I'm ashamed of your
mother!"

Willy laughed. Gid did have _such_ a way of making up faces!

"Come on, you little girl-baby! Guess I _will_ take you, if you won't
cry."

Willy laughed again. It was not at all painful, but extremely funny, to
hear Gid call names, for he never did it in a provoking way at all.

"Come along, you little tip end of a top o' my thumb."

"No, _sir_. Shan't go a step!"

Willy was a boy that meant to mind his mother.

"But I s'pose you'll have to go if I take you."

Willy caught himself by the left ear. He felt the need of holding on by
something; still he was somehow afraid he should have to go in spite of
his ears. Was there ever such a boy as Gid for teasing?

"Why, Gid Noonin, I told you my mother said--"

"No, you didn't! You haven't told me a thing! You stutter so I can't
understand a word."

At the idea of his stuttering, Willy laughed outright; and during that
moment of weakness was picked up and set astride of Gid's shoulders.

"You put me down! My mother says I shan't play with you; so there!"
cried Willy, struggling manfully, yet a little pleased, I must confess,
to think he couldn't possibly help himself.

"Ride away, ride away. Billy shall ride," sang Gid, bouncing his burden
up and down.

Willy felt like a dry leaf in an eddy, which is whirled round and round,
yet is all the while making faster and faster for the hungry dimple in
the middle, where there is no getting out again.

"O, dear, Gid's such a great big boy, and I'm _only_ just eight,"
thought he, jolting up and down like a bag of meal on horseback. Well,
it would be good fun, after all, to go in swimming,--splendid fun, when
there was somebody to hold you up, and keep you from drowning. If you
could forget that your mother had told you not to play with Gid Noonin!

"If you get the string of that medal wet you'll catch it," said Gid.
"Better take it off and put it in your pocket."

"Just a-going to," said Willy. "D'you think I's a fool?"

Well, wasn't it nice! The water feeling so ticklish all over you, and--

Why, no, it wasn't nice at all; it was just frightful! After two or
three dives, Gid had snapped his fingers in his face, and gone off and
left him. Willy couldn't swim any more than a fish-hook. Where _was_
Gid?

"The water's up to my chin. Come, Gid, quick!"

What would Seth and Stephen say if they knew how he was abused? No--his
mother? No--Love, and Caleb, and Liddy? How they would feel! There
wasn't any bottom to this brook, or if there ever had been it had
dropped out.

"O, Gid, I can't stand up."

Gid was in plain sight now, on the bank, pretending to skip stones. Gid
was like a Chinese juggler; he could make believe do one thing, while he
was really doing another.

"Quick! Quick! Quick! I shall dro--ow--own!"

Gid took his own time; but as he swam slowly back to his trembling
little playmate, he was "rolling a sweet morsel under his tongue," which
tasted very much like a silver medal--with the string taken out.

"What d'you go off for?" gasped Willy.

"For fun, you outrageous little ninny!" mumbled Gid, tickling Willy
under the arms. "I'm going to get you out, now, and dress you, and send
you home to your mother."

"Dress me, I guess!"

"Well, you'd better scamper!" said Gid, hurriedly, as they got into
their clothes. "Your mother'll have a fit about you."

"My mother? No, she won't. She don't spect the codfish and mackerel till
most supper-time. She said I might play, but she wasn't willing I should
play with you, though, Gid Noonin," said little Willy, squeezing the
water out of his hair.

"But you did, you little scamp! Now run along home. I can't stop to
talk. Got to saw wood."

"Then what made you creep so awful slow when I called to you?" asked
Willy, indignantly.

"O, because I've got such a sore throat," wheezed Gideon. "Off with you!
Scamper!"

Upon that Gid took to his heels, and left Master Willy staring at him,
and wondering what a sore throat had to do with swimming, and what made
Gid in such a hurry all in a minute.

"He's a queer fellow--Gid is! Can't spell worth a cent. Should think
he'd be ashamed to see a little boy like me wear the medal. Glad I
didn't wet it, for the color would have washed out of the string."

With that Willy put his hand in his pocket.

"Out here and show yourself, sir."

This to the medal.

"What! Why, what's this?"

He felt in the other pocket.

"Why! Why!"

He drew out junks of blue clay, wads of twine, a piece of chalk, a
fish-hook, and various other articles more or less wound up in a wad;
but no medal.

"Guess there's a hole in my pocket, and the medal fell through."

And without stopping to examine the pocket, he ran back all the way to
the brook. Nowhere to be found. Not in the grass on either side of the
road; not on the bank.

Then he remembered to look at his pockets; turned them all three inside
out four times. No hole there.

"Well, I never!--Look here, you Oze Wiggins; did you pick up anything in
the grass?"

"Noffin' but a toadstool," replied little Ozem, innocently; and Willy
wondered if he wasn't a half-fool to make such an answer as that.

"Where can that medal be?" said he, with a dry sob.

He did not once suspect that Gideon Noonin had taken it.

"I'll go home and tell my mother. O, dear! O, dear!"

He was still at the tender age when little boys believe their mammas can
help them out of any kind of trouble. True, he had been naughty and
disobedient; but if he said he was sorry, wouldn't her arms open to take
him in? He was sorry now,--no doubt of that,--and was running home with
all speed, when the sight of his father in the distance reminded him of
his errand, and he rushed back to the store for the codfish and
mackerel.

"What makes your hair so wet, bubby?" asked Daddy Wiggins, rolling the
fish in brown paper. "Haven't been in swimming--have you?"

"Don' know," stammered Willy, darting out of the store.

If his hair was wet it wouldn't do to go home till it was dry; for his
father would find out that he had been in the brook, and the next thing
in order would be a whipping. It was hard enough to lose the medal;
Willy thought a whipping would be more than he could bear, for it was
always given with a horsewhip out in the barn; and the unlucky boy could
never help envying the cows, as they looked on, chewing their cuds with
such an air of content and unconcern. Cows never were punished, nor
sheep either. Good times they had--that's a fact. _Sheep_ wouldn't mind
a real heavy horse-whipping, they were done up so in wool; but when a
little boy had to take off his jacket, why, there wasn't much over his
skin to keep off the smart. Ugh! how it did hurt!

There was another advantage in being a sheep, or a cow, or a hen;
animals of that sort never lost anything--didn't have medals to lose.

"And this wasn't mine," groaned Willy. "What'll the mistress do to me?
Don' know; blister both hands, I s'pose!"

Willy had intended to play ball with the little boys, but it was not to
be thought of now. Putting his fish behind a tree, he ran to the brook
again and poked with a stick as far as he could reach; then waded in up
to his knees, for the medal might have rolled out of his pocket.

"No, it couldn't; for my breeches were tucked in up there between two
rocks."

Suddenly he recollected Gideon's going back to the bank.

"That wicked, mean boy!" almost screamed Willy. "He stole my medal! I'll
go right off and tell mother!"

Mrs. Parlin had on her afternoon cap, and was sitting alone in the
well-sanded "fore-room," doing the mending, and singing,--

    "While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
      All seated on the ground,"--

when Willy, with his pantaloons tucked up to his knees, and his head
dripping with water, rushed wildly into the room.

"My medal's gone! Gid Noonin stole it!"

"My son! What do you mean?"

"Yes, ma'am; Gid Noonin stole it! Made me go in swimming, and then he
stole it!"

"Gideon Noonin?" said Mrs. Parlin, with a meaning glance. "That boy?
_Made_ you go swimming, my son?"

Willy hung his head.

"Yes, ma'am! Marched me off down to the brook pickaback,--he did!"

"Poor, little baby!" said Mrs. Parlin, in the soft, pitiful tone she
would have used to an infant. "Poor little baby!"

Willy's head sank lower yet, and the blush of shame crept into his
cheeks.

"Why, mother, he's as strong's a moose; he could most lift _you_!"

"'My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.'"

"Well, but I--"

"You consented in your heart, Willy, or Gideon could not have made you
go swimming."

What a very bright woman! Willy was amazed. How could she guess that
while riding on Gid's back he had been a _little_ glad to think he could
not help it? He had hardly known himself that he was glad, it was such a
wee speck of a feeling, and so covered up with other feelings.

"But I tried not to go, mother. I tell you I squirmed awf'ly!"

"Well, you didn't try hard enough in the first place, Willy. Come here,
and sit in my lap, and let us talk it over.--Do you know, my son, if you
_had_ tried hard enough, the Lord would have helped you?"

Willy raised his eyes wonderingly. Had God been looking on all the
while, just ready to be spoken to? He had not thought of that.

"O, mamma," said he solemnly, "I will mind, next time, see 'f I don't.
But there's that medal; why, what'll I do?"

"If Gideon will not return it, you must pay Miss Judkins a quarter of a
dollar."

"With a hole in," sighed Willy. "Why, I've only got two cents in this
world."

"O, well," said Mrs. Parlin, hopefully, "perhaps you can hire out to
papa, and earn the rest."

"O, if he'll _only_ let me! Won't you please ask him, mamma?" cried
Willy, filled with a new hope. "Ask him, and get Love to ask him, too.
_I_ shouldn't dare do it, you know."



CHAPTER VII

THE BOY THAT CHEATED.


The next Monday Seth happened to go into the shed-chamber for a piece of
leather to mend an old harness, and met Willy coming down the stairs
with a basket full of old iron.

"Stop a minute, Willy. What have you got there?"

Willy would have obeyed at once, if it had not been for that lordly tone
and air of Seth's, which always made him feel contrary.

"Stop, I say!" repeated Seth. "What have you got there?"

"Old iron."

"Old iron? Did mother send you after it?"

"No."

"Well, then, go carry it right back."

Willy did not stir.

"Old iron is worth money, little boy."

"Yes; I know that."

"And what business have you with it?"

"Going to sell it."

"What? Without asking mother, you naughty boy?"

Willy set the heavy basket on the next lower stair.

"So you went up stairs for that iron without leave? What a wicked boy!"

Willy set the basket on another stair.

"Bellows' nose, old tea-kettle, rusty nails," said Seth, examining the
basket.

"Willy Parlin, do you know this is stealing."

"'Tisn't, neither!"

"But I tell you it is! Just as much stealing as if you took money out of
father's wallet."

"I don't steal," said Willy, setting the basket on another stair.

Seth was growing exasperated.

"If you don't intend to mind me, Willy Parlin, and carry back that iron,
I shall have to go and tell father."

"Then you'll be a tell-tale, Mr. Seth."

"Do you think I'll have my little brother grow up a thief?"

"I wasn't a thief; but you're a tell-tale. You said, yesterday, little
boys mustn't tattle, and I guess big boys mustn't tattle, neither,"
chuckled the aggravating Willy, dragging his basket of iron into the
kitchen.

"Mother," said Seth, as Mrs. Parlin passed through the shed with a pan
of sour milk, "there's got to be something done with Willy; he has taken
to stealing."

Mrs. Parlin set the pan upon a bench, and sank down on the meat-block,
too weak to stand.

"I caught him just now, mother, lugging off a great basket full of old
iron; and if you don't go right in and stop him, he'll take it up to the
store to sell."

"Is that all?" exclaimed Mrs. Parlin, drawing a deep breath. "Why, how
you frightened me! His father gave him leave to collect what old iron he
could find, and sell it to make up for the medal he lost the other day."

"Well there, mother, I'm glad to hear it--that's a fact! But why didn't
the little rogue tell me? I declare, he deserves a good whipping for
imposing upon me so."

"He ought to have told you; but perhaps you spoke harshly to him, my
son. You know Willy can't bear that."

"I don't think I was very harsh, mother. You wouldn't have me see the
child doing wrong, and not correct him--would you?"

"His father and I are the ones to correct him," replied Mrs. Parlin.
"Willy has too many masters and mistresses. Next time you see him doing
what you think is wrong, let me know it, but don't scold him!"

Mrs. Parlin had said this before, but it was something Seth never could
remember.

Willy sold the iron, returned a bright new quarter to Miss Judkins, and
felt happy again, especially as there were ten cents left, which his
father kindly allowed him to keep.

Gideon Noonin never confessed his crime, and after this Willy was very
careful to keep away from him. But there was another boy, nearer his own
age, who had quite as bad an influence over him--Fred Chase. He
afterwards became a worthless young man, and made his mother so wretched
that Siller Noonin said, "Poor Mrs. Chase, she has everything heart can
wish, except a bottle to put her tears in."

Fred was a well-mannered, pretty little fellow, and no one thought ill
of him, because he was so sly with his mischief. He did harm to Willy by
making him think he had a very hard time. His work was to bring in a
bushel basket of chips every morning, and fill the "fore-room"
wood-box. Of course the "back-log" and "back-stick," and "fore-stick"
were all too heavy for his little arms, and Caleb attended to those.
Freddy had nothing whatever to do, and pretended to pity Willy.

"They 'pose upon you," said he. "I never'd stand it."

Until Freddy told him he was imposed upon, Willy had never suspected it;
but, after that, he saw he had nearly all the work to do, and that Seth
and Stephen did not help as much as they might. The more he reflected
upon the subject, the more unhappy he grew, and the more he lingered
over his wood and chips.

"Did you ever hear of the little boy and the two pails of water?" said
his mother.

"O, what about him, mamma? Do tell me."

"Why, the boy was told to draw two pails of water from the well; but
instead of drawing them he sat down and dreaded it, till he pined away,
and pined away, and finally died."

Willy ran out with his basket, and never asked again to hear the story
of the boy and the two pails. But the wood-pile seemed to be lying on
top of his heart, crushing him, till he was relieved by a bright idea.

Why not stand some sticks upright in the bottom of the box, and then lay
the rest of the wood on top of them? It would look just the same as
usual; but _what_ a help!

The box was in the entry, and the "fore-room" door shut; he could cheat
as well as not.

"Now I'll have lots of time to play!"

"What, you here yet, Willy?" said his mother, opening the door. She
thought he had been an unusually long while filling the box; and so he
had. It was new business, doing it in this way, and it took time.

"I supposed you had gone, darling, for I didn't hear you whistle."

Willy whistled faintly, as he laid on the last stick. How lucky his
mother hadn't opened the door sooner!

"That's a nice big box full, my son. You please your mother this
morning. Come here and kiss me."

Willy went, and then Mrs. Parlin, who was a fine singer, and knew a
great many ballads, sang, smiling,--

    "Ho! why dost thou shiver and shake,
           Gaffer Gray?
    And why doth thy nose look so blue?"

She often sang that when he came into the house cold, and then he would
sing in reply, with a voice almost as sweet as her own,--

         "'Tis the weather that's cold,
         'Tis I'm grown very old,
    And my doublet is not very new,
         Well-a-day!"

But he was not in a musical mood this morning: he felt in a hurry to be
off; and giving his mother a hasty kiss, he bounded away without his
shingle-covered spelling-book, and had to come back after it.

Foolish Willy! Did he think his mamma would not find out the deep-laid
plot, which had cost him so much labor? Children have no idea how bright
their parents are! It was a very cold day in December, and as Mrs.
Parlin kept up a roaring fire, she came before noon to the upright
sticks standing in the wood-box, as straight as soldiers on a march. She
sighed a little, and smiled a little, but said not a word, for she was a
wise woman, was Mrs. Parlin.

"Well, Willy boy," said she, when he came home from school, and had had
his supper of brown bread, baked apples, and milk, "come, let us have a
sing."

There was nothing Willy and his mother enjoyed better than a "sing," she
holding him in her lap and rocking him the while. He put his whole soul
into the music, miscalling the Scotch words sometimes so charmingly that
it was a real delight to hear him. People often stopped at the
threshold, I am told, or at the open window in summer, to listen to the
clear childish voice in such ballads as,--

    "Fy! let us a' to the wedding,
      For they will be lilting there;
    For Jock's to be married to Maggie,
      The lass wi' the gowden hair."

To-night it was "Colin's Come to Town;" and Willy's tones rang sweet and
high,--

    "His very step has music in't,
    As he comes up the stair."

"Did you ever hear the beat of that little chap for singing?" said
Caleb, in the bar-room, to Dr. Hilton and Mr. Griggs.

Since that sad affair of the ox-money Caleb had loved Willy better than
ever, though it would be hard to tell why; perhaps because the child had
been so glad to see him come back again.

"Bless him!" said Love, bringing the brass warming-pan into the
"fore-room," to fill it with coals at the fireplace. "Why, mother, I
never hear the name 'Willy,' but it makes me think of music. It sounds
as sweet as if you said 'nightingale.'"

Mrs. Parlin answered by folding the singing-bird closer to her heart.

"And do you know what the word 'Mother' makes me think of?--Of a great
large woman, always just ready to hug somebody."

Mrs. Parlin laughed.

"Yes, indeed it does. And it doesn't seem as if a small woman is really
fit to be called mother. There's Dorcas Lyman: when she says 'Mother' to
that little woman, it sounds so queer to me; for Mrs. Lyman isn't big
enough, you know."

"_Course_ she isn't; not half big enough," said Willy. "I could 'most
lift her with my little finger. But, then, that baby--she's got a real
nice baby; wish she'd give Patty to me."

Love smiled, and walked off, with her long-handled warming-pan, to heat
a traveller's bed in the icy north chamber.

Willy's heart was full of tenderness for his mother, whom he kept
kissing fondly. Now was a good time to speak of the upright, deceitful
sticks of wood, perhaps; but Mrs. Parlin did not do it. She began the
Evening Hymn, and Willy sang with her:--

    "Glory to Thee, my God, this night,
    For all the blessings of the light;
    Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
    Beneath thine own almighty wings.

    "Forgive me, Lord, for thy dear Son,
    The ills which I this day have done,
    That with the world, myself, and Thee,
    I, ere I sleep, at peace may be."

"Now, Willy," said Mrs. Parlin, pausing, "let us think a while, and try
to remember what we have done to-day that is wrong. You think, and I
will think, too."

He looked up, and she knew by the cloud in his eyes that his conscience
was troubled.

"Well, I'll think. But _you_ haven't done anything wrong, mamma?"

"O, yes, dear; many things."

"Well, so've I, too. Want me to tell what?"

"Not unless you choose, my child. Only be sure you tell God."

They were silent a few moments.

"There, that's the _last_ time I'll ever stand the sticks up on end in
the wood-box," burst forth Willy.

"I thought so," said his mother, kissing him.

So she had known about it all the while!

But not another word did she say; and they went on with the hymn:--

    "Teach me to live, that I may dread
    The grave as little as my bed.
    Teach me to die, that so I may
    Triumphing rise at the last day."



CHAPTER VIII.

"THE NEVER-GIVE-UPS."


         "Now Christmas is come,
          Let us beat up the drum,
    And call our neighbors together;
          And when they appear,
          Let us make them good cheer,
    As will keep out the wind and the weather."

This is what the old song says; but it is not the way the people of the
new colonies celebrated Christmas. Indeed, they thought it wrong to
observe it at all,--because their forefathers had come away from England
almost on purpose to get rid of the forms and ceremonies which hindered
their worship in the church over there.

The Parlins, however, saw no harm in celebrating the day of our
Saviour's birth, and Mrs. Parlin, who was an Episcopalian, always
instructed Love and the boys to trim the house with evergreens, and put
cedar crosses in the windows.

Willy was glad whenever his grandfather Cheever happened to be visiting
them at "Christmas-tide," for then he was sure of a present. Mr. Cheever
was an Englishman of the old school, and prayed for King George. He wore
what were called "small clothes,"--that is, short breeches, which came
only to the knee, and were fastened there with a buckle,--silk
stockings, and a fine ruffled shirt. His hair was braided into a long
queue behind, which served Willy for a pair of reins, when he went
riding on the dear old gentleman's back.

I am not sure that Mr. Parlin was always glad to see grandpa Cheever,
for they differed entirely in politics, and that was a worse thing then
than it is now, if you can believe it. Mr. Parlin loved George
Washington, and grandpa said he was "only an upstart." Grandpa loved
King George, and Mr. Parlin said he was "only a crazy man."

But Willy adored his grandfather, especially at holiday times; for
besides presents, they were sure to have games in the big dining-room,
such as blindfold, or "Wood-man blind," bob-apple, and snap-dragon.

Then they always had a log brought in with great ceremony, called the
Yule log, the largest one that could be found in the shed; and when Seth
and Stephen came staggering in with it, grandpa Cheever, and Mrs.
Parlin, and Love, and Willy all struck up,--

      "Come, bring with a noise,
       My merry, merry boys,
    The Christmas log to the firing,
       While my good dame, she
       Bids ye all be free,
    And drink to your hearts' desiring."

The "good dame," I suppose, was Mrs. Parlin; and she gave them to drink,
it is true, but nothing stronger than metheglin, or egg nog, or flip. It
seems to me I can almost see her standing by the table, pouring it out
with a gracious smile. She was a handsome, queenly-looking woman, they
say, though rather too large round the waist you might think.

Her father was a famous singer, as well as herself; and for my part I
should have enjoyed hearing some of their old songs, while the wind
went whistling round the house:--

    "Without the door let Sorrow lie,
    And if for cold it hap to die,
    We'll bury it in a Christmas pie,
        And evermore be merry."

Or this one:--

    "Rejoice, our Saviour, he was born
    On Christmas day in the morning."

But these were family affairs, these Christmas meetings. No one else in
Perseverance had anything to do with them, not even Caleb or Lydia.

But the little boys in those days did not live without amusements, you
may be sure. Perhaps their choicest and most bewitching sport was
training. There had been one great war,--the war of the
Revolution,--and as people were looking for another,--which actually
came in 1812,--it was thought safe for men to be drilled in the practice
of marching and carrying fire-arms.

In Perseverance, and many other towns, companies were formed, such as
the Light Infantry, or "String Bean Company," the Artillery, and the
"Troop." These met pretty often, and marched about the streets to the
sound of martial music.

Of course the little boys could not see and hear of all this without a
swelling of the heart and a prancing of the feet; for they were rather
different from boys of these days! Hard indeed, thought they, if they
couldn't form a company too! As for music, what was to hinder them from
pounding it out of tin pans and pewter porringers? There is music in
everything, if you can only get it out. Chickens' wind-pipes, when well
dried, are very melodious, and so are whistles made of willow; and if
you are fond of variety, there are always bones to be had, and
dinner-horns, and jews-harps.

Full of zeal for their country, the little boys on both sides of the
river met together and formed quite a large company. They had two trials
to begin with; firstly, they could not think of a name fine enough for
themselves; and secondly, they could not get any sort of uniform to
wear. Their mothers could not see the necessity of their having new
suits just to play in; and it seemed for some time as if the little
patriots would have to march forever in their old every-day clothes.

"But they'll give us some new ones by and by, boys," said Willy. "My
mother laughed last night, when I asked again, and that's a certain sure
sign."

"O, I thought we'd given that up," said Fred Chase.

"Look here, boys," exclaimed Willy; "I've thought of a name; it's the
'Never-Give-Ups.' All in favor say 'Ay'!"

"Ay! ay!" piped all the lads; and it was a vote. Perhaps it was a year
before the Never-Give-Ups got their uniforms; but at last their mammas
saw the subject in a proper light, and stopped their work long enough to
dye some homespun suits dark blue, and trim them gorgeously with red.

Willy's regimentals were not home-made; they were cut down from his
father's old ones; and he might have been too well pleased with them,
only Fred Chase's were better yet, being new, with the first gloss on,
just as they had come from a store in the city of Boston.

Fred was captain of the company. The boys had felt obliged in the very
beginning to have it so, on account of a beautiful instrument, given him
by his father, called a flageolet. True, Fred could not play on it at
all, and had to give it up to Willy; but it belonged to him all the
same.

"Something's the matter with my lungs," said Fred, coughing; "and that's
why those little holes plague me so; it's too hard work to blow 'em."

The boys looked at one another with wise nods and smiles. They did not
like Fred very well; but he was always pushing himself forward: and when
a boy has a great deal of self-esteem, and a brave suit of clothes
right from Boston, how are you going to help yourselves, pray? So Fred
was captain, and Willy only a fifer.

There was one boy in the ranks who caused some trouble--Jock Winter. Not
that Jock quarrelled, or did anything you could find fault with; but he
was simple-minded and a hunchback, and some of the boys made fun of him.
When Fred became captain he fairly hooted him out of the company. "No
fair! no fair!" cried Willy, Joshua Potter, the Lyman twins, and two
thirds of the other boys; but the captain had his way in spite of the
underground muttering.

Saturday afternoon was the time for training. The Never-Give-Ups met at
the old red store kept by Daddy Wiggins, and paraded down the village
street, and across the bridge, as far sometimes as the Dug Way, a
beautiful spot three or four miles from home. They were a goodly sight
to see,--the bright, healthy boys, straight as the "Quaker guns" they
carried, and marching off with a firm and manly tread.

Mothers take a secret pride in their sons, and many loving eyes watched
this procession out of town; but the procession didn't know it, for the
mothers were very much afraid of flattering the boys. I think myself it
would have done the little soldiers no harm to be praised once in a
while. Indeed, I wish they might have heard the ladies of the village
talking about them, as they met to drink tea at Mrs. Parlin's. She never
went out herself, but often invited company to what they called little
"tea-junketings."

"Well," said Mrs. Potter, the doctor's wife, "isn't it enough to do your
eyes good to see such a noble set of boys?"

"Yes, it is," said Mrs. Griggs; "and I am not afraid for our country, if
they grow up as good men as they now bid fair to be."

Mrs. Chase could not respond to this, for her boy Fred was a great
trial; his father indulged him too much, and she had had strong fears
that he might take to bad habits. But he was as handsome as any of the
boys, and she spoke up quickly:--

"Yes, Mrs. Potter; as you say, they _are_ a noble-looking set of boys;
and don't they march well?"

"They waste a great deal of time; but then they might be doing worse,
and I like to see boys enjoy themselves," said Mrs. Lyman, the greatest
worker in town.

Her twins, George and Silas, ought to have heard that, for they thought
their mother did not care to see them do anything but delve.

"Ah, bless their little hearts, we are all as proud of them as we can
be," said ruddy, fleshy Mrs. Parlin, brushing back her purple
cap-strings as she poured the tea. "My Willy, now, is the very apple of
my eye, and the little rogue knows it too."

Yes, Willy did know it, for his mother was not afraid to tell him so.
The other boys had love doled out to them like wedding cake, as if it
were too rich and precious for common use; but Mrs. Parlin's love was
free and plenteous, and Willy lived on it like daily bread.

Kissing and petting were sure to spoil boys, so Elder Lovejoy's wife
thought; and she longed to say so to Mrs. Parlin; but somehow she
couldn't; for her little Isaac was not half as good as Willy, though he
hadn't been kissed much since he was big enough to go to school.

"Willy's grandpa Cheever has sent him a splendid present," said Mrs.
Parlin; "it is a drum. His birthday will come next Wednesday; but when I
saw him marching off with Freddy's flageolet under his arm, I really
longed to give him the drum to-day."

"I dare say you did," said Mrs. Lyman, warmly. "We mothers enjoy our
children's presents more than they enjoy them themselves."

Then she and Mrs. Parlin exchanged a pleasant smile, for they two
understood each other remarkably well.

Willy received his drum on the fifteenth of September, his tenth
birthday, and was prouder than General Washington at the surrender of
Lord Cornwallis. No more borrowed flageolets for him. He put so much
soul into the drumsticks that the noise was perfectly deafening. He
called the family to breakfast, dinner, and supper, to the tune of "Hail
Columbia," or "Fy! let us a' to the wedding!" and nearly distracted
Quaker Liddy by making her roll out her pie-crust to the exact time of
"Yankee Doodle."

"I don't see the sense of such a con-tin-oo-al thumping, you little
dear," said she.

"That's 'cause you're a Quaker," cried Willy. "But I tell you while my
name's Willy Parlin this drum _shall_ be heard."

Poor Liddy stopped her ears.

"What you smiling for, mother?" said Willy. "Are you pleased to think
you've got a little boy that can pound music so nice?"

"Not exactly that, my son. I was wondering whether there is room enough
out of doors for that drum."

"Why, mother!" exclaimed the little soldier much chagrined. "Why,
mother!"

Everybody else had complained of the din; but he thought she, with her
fine musical taste, must be delighted. After this pointed slight he did
not pound so much in the house, and the animals got more benefit of the
noise. Towler enjoyed it hugely; and the cows might have kept step to
the pasture every morning, and the hens every night to the roost, if
they had had the least ear for music. Siller Noonin, who believed in
witches, began to think the boy was "possessed." Love laughed, and said
she did not believe that; but she was afraid Willy spoke the truth every
day when he said so stoutly,--

"While my name is Willy Parlin, this drum _shall_ be heard."

She wondered if parchment would ever wear out.

He drummed with so much spirit that it had a strong effect on the little
training company. They had always liked him much better than Fred, and
were glad of an excuse now to make him their captain. A boy who could
fife so well, and drum so well, ought to be promoted, they
thought--"All in favor say Ay!"

Poor Fred was dismayed. He had always known he was unpopular; still he
had not expected this.

"But how can _I_ be captain?" replied Willy, ready to shout with
delight. "If I'm captain, who'll beat my drum?"

"Isaac Lovejoy," was the quick reply.

That settled it, and Willy said no more. He was now leader of the
company, and Fred Chase was obliged to walk behind him as first
lieutenant.

But the moment Willy was promoted, and before they began to march, he
"took the stump," and made a stirring speech in favor of Jock Winter.

"Now see here, boys," said he, leaning on his wooden gun, and looking
around him persuasively. "'All men are born free and equal.' I s'pose
you know that? It's put down so in the Declaration of Independence!"

"O, yes! Ay! Ay!"

"Well, Jock Winter was born as free and equal as any of us; he wasn't
born a hunchback. But see here: wouldn't you be a hunchback yourself,
s'posing your father had let you fall down stairs when you was a baby? I
put it to you--now wouldn't you?"

"Ay, ay," responded the boys.

"Well; and s'pose folks made fun of you just for that; how would you
like it?"

"Shouldn't like it at all."

"But then Jock's just about half witted," put in Fred, faintly. He knew
his power was gone, but he wanted to say something.

"Well, what if he is half-witted? He thinks more of his country than you
do; twice more, and risk it."

"That's so," cried Joshua Potter. "Fred says if there's another war,
_he_ won't go; he never'll stand up for a mark to be shot at, at eleven
dollars a month!"

"O, for shame!" exclaimed the captain.

"Now you hush up," said Fred, reddening. "I was only in fun--of course I
was! You needn't say anything, Will Parlin; a boy that has a _Tory
drum_!"

"It's a good Whig drum as ever lived!" returned Willy. "But come, now,
boys; will we have Jock Winter?"

It was a vote; and the Never-Give-Ups went over the river in a body to
invite him. He lived in a log-house with his grandfather, and a negro
servant known as Joe Whitehead. Old Mr. Winter was aroused from his
afternoon nap by the terrific beating of the drum, and thought the
British were coming down upon him.

"Joe! Joe!" cried he. "Get your scythe, Joe, and mow 'em down as fast as
they come!"

When the little boys heard of this, it amused them greatly. Mistaken for
the British army, indeed! Well, now, that was something worth while!

A happier soul than little, simple, round-shouldered Jock you never saw,
unless it was his poor old grandfather. He could keep step with the best
of them; but unfortunately he had no decent clothes. This was a great
drawback, but Mrs. Parlin and Mrs. Lyman took pity on the boy, and made
him a nice suit.



CHAPTER IX.

THE MUSTER.


Willy proved to have fine powers as a leader. Like the famous John
Gilpin,

    "A train-band captain eke was he,
       Of credit and renown,"

and the Never-Give-Ups became such an orderly, well-trained company,
that some of the rich fathers made them the present of a small cannon.

Do you know what a wonderful change that made in the condition of
things? Well, I will tell you. They became at once an Artillery Company!
Not poor little infantry any more, but great, brave artillery!

Every man among them cast aside his Quaker gun with contempt, and wore a
cut-and-thrust sword, made out of the sharpest kind of wood. An
Artillery Company,--think of that! The boys threw up their caps, and
Willy sang,--

    "Come, fill up my cup, come, fill up my can;
    Come, saddle your horses, and call up your men!
    Come, open the west port, and let us gang free,
    And it's room for the bonnets of Bonny Dundee!"

There was to be a General Muster that fall, and if you suppose the
Perseverance boys had thought of anything else since the Fourth of July,
that shows how little you know about musters.

A muster, boys--Well, I never saw a muster, myself; but it must have
been something like this:--

A mixture of guns and gingerbread; men and music; horses and hard
cider.

It was very exciting,--I know that. There were plumes dancing, flags
waving, cannons firing, men marching, boys screaming, dogs barking; and
women looking on in their Sunday bonnets.

The "Sharp-shooters" and the "String Beans" were there from Cross Lots;
the Artillery from Harlow; the "Pioneers," in calico frocks, with wooden
axes, from Camden; and all the infantry and cavalry from the whole
country round about.

Seth Parlin belonged to the cavalry, or "troop," and made a fine figure
on horseback. Willy secretly wondered if he would look as well when _he_
grew up.

    "Saddled and bridled and booted rode he,
    A plume at his helmet,
    A sword at his knee."

It seemed to be the general impression that the muster would do the
country a great deal of good. The little artillery company, called the
Never-Give-Ups, were on the ground before any one else, their cheeks
painted with clear, cold air, and their hearts bursting with patriotism.
As a rule, children were ordered out of the way; but as the little
Never-Give-Ups had a cannon, they were allowed to march behind the large
companies, provided they would be orderly and make no disturbance.

"Boys," said Willy, sternly,--for he felt all the importance of the
occasion,--"boys, remember, George Washington was the Father of his
Country; so you've got to behave."

The boys remembered "the father of his country" for a while, but before
the close of the afternoon forgot him entirely. There were several
stalls where refreshments were to be had,--such as cakes, apples,
molasses taffy, sugar candy, and cider by the mugful, not to mention the
liquors, which were quite too fiery for the little Never-Give-Ups.

At every halt in the march the boys bought something to eat or drink.
There had been a barrel of cider brought from Mr. Chase's for their
especial use, and Fred sold it out to the boys for four cents a glass.
This was a piece of extraordinary meanness in him, for his father had
intended the cider as a present to the company. The boys did not know
this, however, and paid their money in perfect good faith.

"Hard stuff," said Willy, draining his mug. "I don't like it much."

"Why, it's tip-top," returned Fred. "My father says it's the best he
ever saw."

Mr. Chase had never said anything of the sort. He had merely ordered his
colored servant, Pompey, to put a barrel of cider on the wheelbarrow,
and take it to the muster-ground. Whether Pompey and Fred had selected
this one for its age I cannot tell, but the boys all declared it was "as
hard as a stone wall."

Dr. Hilton, who seemed to be everywhere at once, heard them say that,
and exclaimed,--

"Then I wouldn't drink any more of it, boys. Hard cider does make
anybody dreadful cross. Better let it alone."

I fear the boys did not follow this advice, for certain it is that they
grew outrageously cross. The trouble began, I believe, with Abram
Noonin, who suddenly declared he wouldn't march another step with Jock
Winter. As the marching was all done for the day, Abram might as well
have kept quiet.

"Yes, you shall march with Jock Winter, too," said Captain Willy,
exasperated with the throbbing pain in his head--the first he had ever
felt in his life. "Pretty doings, if you are going to set up and say, 'I
will' and 'I won't!'"

While the captain and the private were shooting sharp words back and
forth, and Fred was busy drawing cider, Isaac Lovejoy, the rogue of the
company, was very busy with his own mischief.

"Look here, Fred," said Joshua Potter, going up to the stall with a
twinkle in his eye; "they don't ask but three cents a mug, round at the
other end of the barrel!"

"What do you mean by that?" cried the young cider merchant, looking up
just in time to see Isaac Lovejoy marching off with the pitcher he had
been filling from a hole in the barrel made with his jack-knife.

"Stop thief! Stop thief!" cried Fred.

"That's right," said one of the big boys from over the river. "Ike's
selling your cider to the men for three cents a glass."

Perhaps this was one of Isaac's jokes, and he intended to give back the
money; we will hope so. But, be that as it may, Fred was terribly angry;
as angry, mind you, as if he was an honest boy himself, and had a
perfect right to all the coppers jingling in his own pockets!

He ran after Ike, and caught him; and there was a scuffle, in which the
pitcher was broken. Mr. Chase came up to inquire into it.

"Tut, tut, Isaac!" said he; "aren't you ashamed? You know that cider was
a present to the Never-Give-Ups."

The boys were astonished, and Fred's face crimsoned with shame. As soon
as Mr. Chase had gone away, Willy exclaimed, with a sudden burst of
wrath,--

"Well, boys, if you are going to stand such a mean lieutenant as that, I
won't! If he stays in lieutenant, I won't stay captain--so there!"

"Three cheers for the captain!" cried the boys; and there was another
uproar.

And how did Fred feel towards the fearless, out-spoken Willy? Very
angry, of course; but, if you will believe me, he respected him more
than ever. Pompous boys are often mean-spirited and cowardly; they will
browbeat those who are afraid of them; but those who look down on them
and despise them, they hold in the highest esteem. Willy had never
scrupled to tell Fred just what he thought of his conduct; and for that
very reason Fred liked him better than any other boy in town.

But the Never-Give-Ups were growing decidedly noisy. After they learned
that the cider was their own, they must drink more of it, whether they
wanted it or not. The consequence was, they soon began to act
disgracefully.

"Can't you have peace there, you young scamps?" said one of the big boys
from over the river.

"Yes, we will have peace if we have to fight for it," replied the
captain, who had drawn the little hunchback Jock to his side, and was
darting glances at Abe Noonin as sharp as a cut-and-thrust sword.

"Mr. Chase," said Dr. Hilton, struck with a new idea, "those boys act as
if they were drunk."

"Why, how can they be?" returned Mr. Chase; "they've had nothing to
drink but innocent cider."

"Any way," cried the doctor, "they are getting up a regular mob, and we
shall have to _quail_ it!"

Too true: it was necessary to quell the Never-Give-Ups, that orderly
artillery company, the pride of the town! Quell it, and order it off the
grounds!

Dire disgrace! Their steps were unsteady and slow; their heads were
bowed, but not with grief, for, to say the truth, they did not fully
comprehend the situation.

"The little captain is the furthest gone of any of them," said Dr.
Hilton. Indeed, before he reached home he was unable to walk, and
Stephen carried him into the house in his arms. Not that Willy had drunk
so much as some of the others, but it had affected him more.

Poor Mrs. Parlin! She had to know what was the matter with her boy; and
the shock was so great that she went to bed sick, and Mr. Parlin sent
for the doctor.

When Willy came to his senses next morning, there was a guilty feeling
hanging over him, and his head ached badly. He crept down stairs, and
fixed his gaze first on the sanded floor of the kitchen, then on the
dresser full of dishes; but to look any one in the face he was ashamed.
His mother was not at the table, and they ate almost in silence.

"Now, young man," said Mr. Parlin, after breakfast, "you may walk out to
the barn with me." Willy had a dim idea that he had done something
wrong; but exactly what it was he could not imagine. He remembered
scolding Abe Noonin for hurting little Jock's feelings; was that what he
was to be punished for?

Willy did not know he had been intoxicated. He was sure he did not like
that cider, yesterday, and had taken only a little of it. He supposed he
had eaten too much, and that was what had made him sick.

"Off with your jacket, young man!"

Old Dick neighed, Towler growled, the sheep bleated; it seemed as if
they were all protesting against Willy's being whipped.

"Now, sir," said Mr. Parlin, after a dozen hearty lashes, "shall I ever
hear of your getting drunk again?"

"Why, father! I didn't--O, I didn't! I only took some cider--just two
mugfuls!" gasped Willy; "that's all; and you know you always _let_ me
drink cider."

"Two mugfuls!" groaned Mr. Parlin, distressed at what he considered a
wilful lie; and the blows fell heavier and faster, while Willy's face
whitened, and his teeth shut together hard. Mr. Parlin had never acted
from purer motives; still Willy felt that the punishment was not just,
and it only served to call up what the boys termed his "Indian sulks."

Angry and smarting with pain in mind and body, he walked off that
afternoon to the old red store. Fred was sitting under a tree, chewing
gum.

"Had to take it, I guess, Billy?"

"Yes, an awful whipping," replied Willy; "did you?"

"Me? Of course not. Do you know how I work it? When father takes down
the cowhide, I look him right in the eye, and that scares him out of it.
He _darsn't_ flog me!"

This was a downright lie. Fred was as great a coward as ever lived, and
screamed at sight of a cowhide. He had been whipped for cheating about
the cider, but would not tell Willy so.

Willy looked at him with surprise and something like respect. He could
never seem to learn that Freddy's word was not to be trusted.

"Well, I'll do so next time," cried he, his eyes flashing fire.

"Look here," said Fred, crossing his knees, and looking important;
"let's run away."

"Why, Fred Chase! 'Twould be wicked!"

"'Twouldn't, either. Things ain't wicked when folks don't catch you at
it; and we can go where folks won't catch us, now I promise you."

Willy's heart leaped up with a strange joy. He would not run away, but
if Fred had a plan he wanted to hear it.

"Why, where could we go?"

"To sea."

"Poh! our Caleb got flogged going to sea."

"O, well, Captain Cutter never flogs. He's a nice man,--lives down to
Casco Bay. And of all the oranges that ever you saw, and the guava
jelly, and the pine-apples! he's always sending them to mother."

"I never ate a pine-apple."

"Didn't you? Well, come, let's go; Captain Cutter will be real glad to
see us; come, to-night; he'll treat us first rate."

"'My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.'"

It seemed as if Willy could hear his mother saying the words.

"You and I are the best kind of friends, Willy. We'd have a real nice
time, and come home when we got ready."

Willy did not respond to this. He did not care very much about
Fred,--nobody did,--and if he should be persuaded to go with him, it
would not be from friendship, most certainly.

"I wouldn't go off and leave mother; 'twould be real mean: but sometimes
I don't like father one bit,--now, that's a fact," burst forth Willy,
with a heaving breast. "I told him I didn't like your cider, and didn't
take but two mugfuls; but he didn't believe a word I said."

"You're a fool to stand it, Billy."

"I won't stand it again--so there!"

"There, that's real Injun grit," said Fred, approvingly; "stick to it."

"Father thinks children are foolish; he hates to hear 'em talk," pursued
Willy; "and then, when you don't talk, he says you're sulky."

"Well, if you go off he won't get a chance to say it again."

"O, but you see, Fred--"

"Pshaw! you _darsn't_!"

"Now, _you're_ not the one to call me a coward, Fred Chase."

"Well, if you _dars_, then come on."

Willy did not answer. He was deliberating; and I wish you to understand
that in a case like this "the child that deliberates is lost."

Without listening to any more of the boys' conversation, we will go
right on to the next chapter, and see what comes of it.



CHAPTER X.

GOING TO SEA.


Seven o'clock was the time appointed to meet, and Willy watched the tall
clock in the front entry with a dreadful sinking at the heart. His
mother was not at the supper-table and he was glad of that. Ever since
muster she had staid in her room, suffering from a bad toothache. As her
face was tied up, and she could not talk, Willy was not quite sure how
she felt.

"How can I tell whether she has been crying or not? Her eyes are
swelled, any way. Perhaps she doesn't care much. She used to love me,
but she thinks I act so bad now that it's no use doing anything with
me. I can't make her understand it at all."

It was a pity he thought of his mother just then, for it was hard
enough, before that, swallowing his biscuit.

"She said to me, out in the orchard, one day,--says she, 'Willy, if a
boy wants to do wrong, he'll find some way to do it;' and I s'pose she
was thinking about me when she said it. S'pose she thinks I'm going to
be bad--mother does. Well, then, I ought to go off out of the way; she
doesn't want me here; what does she want of a bad boy? She'll be glad to
get rid of me; so'll Love."

You see what a hopeless tangle Willy's mind was in. What ailed his
biscuit he could not imagine, but it tasted as dry as ashes.

"Why, sonny," said Stephen, "what are you staring at your plate so for?
That's honey. Ever see any before?"

"This is the last chance Steve will have to pester me," thought the
child; and he almost pitied him.

"Guess he'll feel sorry he's been so hard on a little fellow like me."

As for grown-up Seth, it was certain that _his_ conscience would prick,
and on the whole Willy was rather glad of it, for Seth had no right to
correct him so much. "Only eighteen, and not my father either!"

Willy did not think much about himself, and how he would be likely to
feel after he had left this dear old home--the home where every
knot-hole in the floor was precious. It would not do to brood over that;
and besides, there was sullen anger enough in his heart to crowd out
every other feeling.

There were circles in the wood of the shed-door which he had made with a
two-tined fork; and after supper he made some more, while waiting for a
chance to pocket a plate of doughnuts. Of course it wasn't wrong to take
doughnuts, when it was the last morsel he should ever eat from his
mother's cupboard. He had the whole of eighteen cents in his leathern
wallet; but that sum might fail before winter, and it was best to take a
little food for economy's sake.

At quarter of seven he put on his cap, and was leaving the house, when
his father said, severely,--

"Where are you going, young man?"

Mr. Parlin did not mean to be severe, but he usually called Willy a
"young man" when he was displeased with him.

"Going to the post-office, sir, just as I always do."

Willy spoke respectfully,--he had never done otherwise to his
father,--and Mr. Parlin little suspected the tempest that was raging in
the child's bosom.

"Very well; go! but don't be gone long."

"'_Long?_' Don't know what he calls long," thought the little boy.
"P'raps I'll be gone two years; p'raps I'll be gone ten. Calls me a
'young man' after he has whipped me. Guess I _will_ be a young man
before I get back! Guess there won't be any more horsewhippings then!"

And, dizzy with anger, he walked fast to the post office, without
turning his head.

Fred was there, anxiously waiting for him. The two boys greeted each
other with a meaning look, and soon began to move slowly along towards
the guide-board at the turn of the road.

To the people who happened to be looking that way, it seemed natural
enough that Willy and Fred should be walking together. If anybody
thought twice about the matter, it was Dr. Hilton; and I dare say he
supposed they were swapping jack-knives.

As soon as they were fairly out of sight of the village, Fred said,
sneeringly,--

"Well, I've been waiting most half an hour--I suppose you know. Began to
think you'd sneaked out of it, Bill."

There is an insult in the word 'sneak' that no boy of spirit can bear,
and Willy was in no mood to be insulted.

"Fred Chase," said he, bristling, "I'll give you one minute to take that
back."

"O, I didn't mean anything, Billy; only you was so awful slow, you
know."

"Slow, Fred Chase! You needn't call _me_ slow! Bet you I can turn round
three times while you're putting out one foot."

It is plain enough, from the tone of this conversation, that the boys
had not started out with that friendly feeling, which two travellers
ought to have for each other, who are intending to take a long journey
in company. Fred saw it would not do for Willy to be so cross in the
very beginning. He had had hard work to get the boy's consent to go, and
now, for fear he might turn back, he suddenly became very pleasant.

"Look here, Billy; you can beat me running; I own up to that; but we've
got to keep together, you know. Don't you get ahead of me--now will
you?"

"I'll try not to," replied Willy, somewhat softened; "but you do get out
of breath as easy as a chicken."

"Most time to begin to run?" said Fred, after they had trudged on for
some time at a moderate pace.

"No; there's a man coming this way," replied the sharper-eyed Willy.

"O, yes; I see him now. Who suppose it is?"

"Why, Dr. Potter, of course. Don't you know him by his _shappo brar_?"

The _chapeau bras_ was a three-cornered hat, the like of which you and I
have never seen, except in very old pictures.

As Dr. Potter met the boys, he shook his ivory-headed cane, and said,
playfully, "Good evening, my little men."

"Good evening, sir."

But it was certainly a bad evening inside their hearts, sulky and dark.

"What if Dr. Potter should tell where he met us?" exclaimed Fred. "Lucky
'twasn't Dr. Hilton.--There, he's out of the way; now let's run."

They were on the road to Cross Lots, a town about five miles from
Perseverance. They had not as yet marked out their course very clearly,
but thought after they should reach Cross Lots it would be time enough
to decide what to do next.

They ran with all their might, but did not make the speed they desired,
for they jumped behind the fences whenever they heard a wagon coming,
and were obliged to stop often, besides, for Freddy to take breath. By
the time they reached Cross Lots--a thriving little town with a
saw-mill--it was pretty late; and if it had not been for the bright
light of the moon and stars, they might have been a little disheartened.

They took a seat on a stump near the saw-mill, and prepared to talk over
the situation. A lonesome feeling had suddenly come upon them, which
caused them to gaze wistfully upon the "happy autumn fields" and the
far-off sky.

"Stars look kind o' shiny--don't they?" said Fred, heaving a sigh.

Willy forced a gay tone.

"What s'pose makes 'em keep up such a winking? Like rows of pins, you
know,--gold pins; much as a million of 'em, and somebody sticking 'em
into a great blue cushion up there, and keeps a-sticking 'em in, but out
they come again."

"I never heard of such a silly idea in my life," sneered Fred.
"Pins!--H'm!"

"Why, can't you tell when a fellow's in fun, Fred Chase? Thought I meant
real pins--did you? The stars are worlds, and I guess I know it as well
as you do."

"Worlds? A likely story, Bill Parlin! Mother has said so lots of times,
but you don't stuff such a story down _my_ throat."

"Don't believe your mother!" exclaimed Willy, astonished. "Why, I always
believe my mother. She never made a mistake in her life."

Fred laughed.

"She don't know any more'n anybody else, you ninny! only you think so
because she makes such a baby of you."

Willy reddened with sudden shame, but retorted sharply,--

"Stop that! You shan't say a word against my mother."

"But you let me talk about your father, though. What's the difference?"

"Lots. You may talk about father as much as you've a mind to," said
Willy, scowling; "for he no business to whip me so. He thinks boys are
pretty near fools."

"That's just what my father thinks," returned Fred.

Whereupon the two boys were friends again, having got back to their one
point of agreement.

"If I had a boy I wouldn't treat him so,--now I tell you," said Willy,
clinching his little fists. "I'd let him have a good time when he's
young."

"So'd I!"

"For when he's old he won't want to have a good time."

"That's so."

"And I wouldn't be stingy to him; I'd let him have all the money he
could spend."

"So'd I," responded the ungrateful Fred, who had probably had more
dollars given him to throw away than any other boy in the county.

"I'd treat a boy real well. I wouldn't make him work as tight as he
could put in," pursued Willy, overcome with dreadful recollections.

"Nor I, neither! Guess I wouldn't!"

"Poh! what do you know about it, Fred? Your father's rich, and don't
keep a pig!"

"What if he don't? What hurt does a pig do?"

"Why, you have to carry out swill to 'em. Then there's the wood-box, and
there's the corn to husk, and the cows to bring up! It makes a fellow
ache all over."

"No worse'n errands, Bill! Guess you never came any nearer blistering
your feet than I did last summer, time we had so much company. Mother's
a case for thinking up errands."

"Well, Fred, we've started to run away."

"Should think it's likely we had."

"I'm going 'cause I can't stand it to be whipped any more; but you don't
get whipped, Fred. What are _you_ going for?"

"Why, to seek my fortune," replied Fred, spitting, in a manly fashion,
into a clump of smartweed. "Always meant to, you know, soon's I got so I
could take care of myself; and now I can cipher as far as
_substraction_, what more does a fellow want?"

"Don't believe you can spell 'phthisic,' though."

As this remark had nothing to do with the case in point, Fred took no
notice of it. What if he couldn't spell as well as Willy? He was a year
and a half older, and had the charge of this expedition.

"Which way you mean to point, Billy?"

"Why, I thought we were going to sea. That's what you said; and I put a
lot of nutcakes in my pocket to eat 'fore we got to the ship."

"You did? Well, give us some, then, for I'm about starved."

"So'm I, too."

And one would hardly have doubted it, to see them both eat. The
doughnuts were sweet and spicy, and cheering to the spirits; the young
travellers did not once stop to consider that they might need them more
by and by. Children are not, as a general rule, very deeply concerned
about the future. Birds of the air may have some idea where to-morrow's
dinner is coming from; but these boys neither knew nor cared.

"First rate," remarked Fred, as the last doughnut disappeared. "But I
don't know about going to sea. It's plaguy tough work climbing ropes,
they say, and I heard of a boy that got whipped so hard he jumped
overboard."

"Let's not go, then," cried Willy.

"Catch me!" said Fred. "I've been thinking of the lumb'ring business.
They make money fast as you can wink up there to the Forks."

"Let's go lumbering, then."

"Guess we will, Billy. You see the trees don't cost anything,--they grow
wild,--and all you've got to do is to chop 'em down."

"Yes," said Willy, "and we need red shirts for that. I never chopped a
tree's I know of. Could, though, if I had a sharp axe. Guess I could, I
mean,--I mean if the tree wasn't _too_ big!"

"O, we shan't chop 'em ourselves," said Fred, spitting grandly. "Wasn't
my father a lumberman once, and got rich by it? But did _he_ ever cut
down a tree? What's the use? Hire men, you know."

"O!" exclaimed Willy. But a gleam of common sense striking him next
moment, he added, "but the money; where'll we get that?"

"O, we'll get it after a while," replied Fred, vaguely. "My father was a
poor boy once. Fact! I've heard him tell about it. Nothing but tow-cloth
breeches, and wale-cloth jacket, off there to Groton. And he made butter
tubs and potash tubs, sir. And he took his pay in beaver skins. And then
he went afoot to Boston, and he rolled a barrel of lime round the Falls,
sir. I've heard him tell it five million times. And my aunt Tempy, she
rode a-horseback three hundred miles to Concord.--O, poh! there's lots
of ways to make money, if you try. And once he took his pay in
potash,--my father did; and he sold tobacco. O, there's ways enough to
make money if you keep your eyes open; that's what my father says."

Willy's eyes were open enough, if that were all. At any rate, he was
trying his very best to keep them open. Half of his mind was sleepy, and
half of it very wide awake indeed. There was something so inspiring in
Fred's confident tone. Rather misty his plans might be as yet; but
hadn't Willy heard, ever since he could remember, that people were sure
to succeed if they were only "up and doing?"

"Come, let's start," said he, rising eagerly, as the bell rang for nine.
"If we are going to the Forks we must go to Harlow first; I know that
much."

And turning the corner at the left, the two wise little pilgrims set out
upon their travels,--

    "Strange countries for to see."



CHAPTER XI.

TO THE FORKS.


Willy started upon the run; but Fred, as soon as he could overtake him,
and speak for puffing, exclaimed,--

"Now, Will Parlin, what's the use? We've got a good start, and let's
take it fair and easy."

This was the most sensible remark Fred had made for the evening. Lazy
and good-for-nothing as he was, he had spoken the truth for once. If
they were ever to arrive at the Forks, they were likely to do it much
sooner by walking than running. Willy did not understand this. Being as
lithe as a young deer, he preferred "bounding over the plains" to
lagging along with such a slow walker as Fred.

The town of Harlow was twelve miles away, and it was Fred's opinion that
they should reach it in season for an early breakfast.

"I've got two dollars in my pocket," said he, "and I guess we shan't
starve _this_ fall."

Willy thought of the eighteen cents he had been six weeks in saving, but
was ashamed to speak of such a small sum.

"Well, we shan't get to Harlow, or any where else, till day after
to-morrow afternoon, if you don't hurry up," said he, impatiently. "You
say you can't run, but I should think you might do as much as to march.
Now, come,--left, foot out,--while I whistle."

Fred tried his best, but he was one of the few boys born with "no music
in his soul," and he could not keep step.

"What's the matter with you, Fred Chase?"

"Don't know. Guess you haven't got the right tune."

Willy stopped short in "Come, Philander," and turned it into "Hail,
Columbia;" but it made no difference. "Roy's Wife," or "Fy! let us a' to
the wedding," was as good as anything else. Fred took long steps or
short steps, just as it happened, and Willy never had understood, and
could not understand now, what did ail Fred's feet; it was very
tiresome, indeed.

"Look here: what tune have I been whistling now? See if you know?"

"Why, that's--that's--some kind of a dancing tune. Can't think. O, yes;
'Old Hundred.'"

"Fred Chase!" thundered Willy; "that's _'Yankee Doodle_!' Anybody that
don't know Yankee Doodle _must_ be a fool!"

"Why, look here now: I know Yankee Doodle as well as you do, Will
Parlin, only you didn't whistle it right!"

At another time Willy would have been quick to laugh at such an absurd
remark; but now, tired as he was, it made him downright angry. He
stopped whistling, and did not speak again for five minutes. Meanwhile
he began to grow very sleepy.

"Wish we were going to battle," said Fred at last, for the sake of
breaking the silence. "I'd like to be in a good fight; that is, if they
had decent music. I could march to a fife and drum first rate."

"Could, hey! Then why didn't you ever do it?"

"Do you mean to say I don' know how to march? Know how as well as you
do."

"Think's likely," snarled Willy, "for _I_ can't march if I have _you_ to
march with. Can't keep step with anybody that ain't bright!"

"Nor I can't, either, Will Parlin; that's why I can't keep step with
you."

"Well, then, go along to the other side of the road--will you? I won't
have you here with your hippity-hop, hippity-hop."

"Go to the other side of the road your own self, and see how you like
it," retorted Fred. "I won't have _you_ here, with your tramp, tramp,
tramp."

Was ever anybody so provoking as Fred? Willy had an impulse to give him
a hard push; but before he could extend his arm to do it, he had
forgotten what they were quarrelling about. That strange sleepiness had
drowned every other feeling, and Fred's "tramp, tramp, tramp," spoken in
such drawling tones, had fairly caused his eyes to draw together.

"Guess I'll drop down here side of the road, and rest a minute," said
he.

"So'll I," said Fred, always ready for a halt if not for a march.

But it was a cold night. As soon as they had thrown themselves upon the
faded grass they began to feel the pinchings of the frost.

"None of your dozing yet a while," said Fred, who, though tired, was not
as sleepy as Willy. "We must push along till we get to a barn or
something."

Willy rose to his feet, promptly.

"Look up here and show us your eyes, Billy. I've just thought of
something. How do I know but you're sound asleep this minute? Generally
sleep with your eyes open--don't you--and walk round too, just the
same?"

Fred said this with a cruel laugh. He knew Willy was very sensitive on
the subject of sleep-walking, and he was quite willing to hurt his
feelings. Why shouldn't he be? Hadn't Willy hurt _his_ feelings by
making those cutting remarks in regard to music? As for the Golden Rule,
Master Fred was not the boy to trouble himself about that; not in the
least.

"I haven't walked in my sleep since I was a small boy," said Willy,
trying his best to force back the tears; "and I don't think it's fair
to plague me about it now."

"Well, then, you needn't plague me for not keeping step to your old
whistling. If you want to know what the reason is I can't keep step,
I'll tell you; it's because my feet are sore. They've been tender ever
since I blistered 'em last summer."

Willy was too polite this time, or perhaps too sleepy, to contradict.

It did seem as if the road to Harlow was the longest, and the hills the
steepest, ever known.

"Call it twelve miles--it's twenty!" said Fred, beginning to limp.

"Would be twenty-five," said Willy, "if the hills were rolled out
smooth."

They trudged on as bravely as they could, but, in spite of the cold, had
to stop now and then to rest, and by the time they had gone eight miles
it seemed as if they could hold out no longer.

"I shouldn't be tired if I were in your place," said Fred; "it's my
feet, you know."

"Here's a barn," exclaimed Willy, joyfully.

"Hush!" whispered cautious Fred; "don't you see there's a house to it,
and it wouldn't do to risk it? Folks would find us out, sure as guns."

A little farther on there was a hayrack at the side of the road, filled
with boards; and after a short consultation the boys decided to climb
into it, and "camp down a few minutes."

"It won't do to stay long," said Fred, "for it must be 'most sunrise;
and we should be in a pretty fix if anybody should go by and catch us."

It was only one o'clock! The boards were not as soft as feathers, by any
means, but the boys thought they wouldn't have minded that if they could
only have had a blanket to spread over them. More forlorn than the
"babes in the wood," they had not even the prospect that any birds would
come and cover them with leaves.

As they stretched themselves upon the boards, Willy thought of his
prayer. "Now I lay me down to sleep." Never, since he could remember,
had he gone to bed without that. Would it do to say it now? Would God
hear him? Ah, but would it do _not_ to say it? So he breathed it softly
to himself, lest Fred should hear and laugh at him.

It was so cold that Fred declared he couldn't shut his eyes, and
shouldn't dare to, either; but in less than a minute both the boys were
fast asleep.

They had slept about three hours, without stirring or even dreaming,
when they were suddenly wakened by the glare of a tin lantern shining in
their eyes, and a gruff voice calling out,--

"Who's this? How came you here?"

Willy stared at the man without speaking. Was it to-night, or last
night, or to-morrow night?

Fred had not yet opened his eyes, and the worthy farmer was obliged to
shake him for half a minute before he was fairly aroused.

"Who are you? What are you here for?" repeated he.

Then the boys sat upright on the boards and looked at each other. They
were both covered with a thick coating of frost, as white as if they had
been out in a snowstorm. What should they say to the man? It would never
do to tell him their real names, for then he would very likely know who
their fathers were, and send them straight home. Dear! dear! What a pity
they happened to fall asleep! And why need the man have come out there
in the night with a lantern?--a man who probably had a bed of his own to
sleep in.

"I--I--" said Willy, brushing the frost off his knees; and that is
probably as far as he would have gone with his speech, for his tongue
failed him entirely; but Fred, being afraid he might tell the whole
truth,--which was a bad habit of Willy's,--gave him a sly poke in the
side, as a hint to stop. Willy couldn't and wouldn't make up a wrong
story; but Fred could, and there was nothing he enjoyed more.

"Well, sir," said he, clearing his throat, and looking up at the farmer
with a face of baby-like innocence, "I guess you don't know me--do you?
My name's Johnny Quirk, and this boy here's my brother, Sammy Quirk."

Willy drew back a little. It seemed as if he himself had been telling a
lie. Ah! and wasn't it next thing to it?

"Quirk? Quirk? I don't know any Quirks round in these parts," said the
farmer.

"O, we live up yonder," said Fred, pointing with his finger. "We live
two miles beyond Harlow, and we were down to Cross Lots to aunt
Nancy's, you see, and they sent for us to come home,--mother did. Our
father's dreadful sick: they don't expect he'll get well."

"You don't say so! Poor little creeturs! And here you are out doors,
sleeping on the rough boards. Come right along into the house with me,
and get warm. What's the matter with your father?"

"Some kind of a fever; and he don't know anything; he's awful sick,"
replied Fred, running his sleeve across his eyes.

The good farmer's heart was touched. He thought of his own little boys,
no older than these, and how sad it would be if they should be left
fatherless.

"Come in and get warm," said he. "It's four o'clock, and you shall sleep
in a good bed till six, and then I'll wake you up, and give you some
breakfast."

"O, I don't know as we can; we ought to be going," said Fred, wiping his
eyes; "father may be dead."

"Yes, but you shall come in," persisted the farmer; "you're all but
froze. If 'twas my little boys, I should take it kindly in anybody that
made 'em go in and get warm. Besides, you can travel as fast again if
you start off kind of comfortable."

A good bed was so refreshing to think of that the boys did not need much
urging; but Willy entered the house with downcast eyes and feelings of
shame, whereas Fred could look their new friend in the face, and answer
all his questions without wincing.

Mr. Johonnet thought himself a shrewd man, but he could not see into the
hearts of these young children. He liked the appearance of "Johnny
Quirk," an "open-hearted, pretty-spoken little chap, that any father
might be proud of;" but "Sammy" did not please him as well; he was not
so frank, or so respectful,--seemed really to be a little sulky. There
are some boys who pass off finely before strangers, because they are not
in the least bashful, and have a knack of putting on any manner they
choose; and Fred was one of these. Willy, a far nobler boy, was
naturally timid before his betters; but even if he had been as bold as
Fred, his conscience would never have let him say and do such untrue
things.

Willy suffered. Although he had told no lies himself, he had stood by
and heard them told without correcting them. How much better was that?
Still it seemed as if, as things were, he could not very well have
helped himself. So much for falling into bad company. "Eggs should not
dance with stones."

"Well; I never'd have come with Fred Chase if father hadn't whipped me
'most to death."

And, soothed with this flimsy excuse, Willy was soon asleep again.

At six o'clock Mr. Johonnet called the little travellers to breakfast.
The coffee was very dark-colored, with molasses boiled in it, and there
were fried pork, fried potatoes swimming in fat, and clammy "rye and
indian bread." None of these dishes were very inviting to the boys, who
both had excellent fare at home; and they would have made but a light
meal, if it had not been for the pumpkin pie and cheese, which Mr.
Johonnet asked his wife to set on the table.

"Poor children, they must eat," said he; "for they've got to get home to
see their sick father."

There were so many questions to be asked, that the boys made quick work
of their breakfast and hurried away.

"There, glad we're out of that scrape," said Fred.

"But _didn't_ you lie? Why, Fred, how could you lie so?"

"H'm! Did it up handsome--didn't I, though? Wouldn't give a red cent for
you. You haven't the least gumption about lying."

Willy shivered and drew away a little. His fine nature was shocked by
Fred's coarseness and lack of principle; still, this was the boy he had
chosen for an intimate friend!

"If it hadn't been for me you'd have let the cat out of the bag,"
chuckled Fred. "You hung your head down as if you'd been stealing a
sheep."

It was three miles farther to Harlow, and Fred grumbled all the way
about his sore feet.

"See that yellow house through the trees?" said he. "That's my uncle
Diah's; wish we could go there and rest."

"But what's the use to wish?" returned Willy. "Look here, Fred; isn't
there a ford somewhere near here?"

To be sure there was. They had forgotten that; and sometimes the ford
was not fordable, and it was necessary to go round-about in order to
cross a ferry. While they were puzzling over this new dilemma, a
stage-horn sounded.

"That's the Harlow driver; he knows us," cried Fred; "let's hide quick."

They concealed themselves behind some aspen trees on the bank, and
"peeking" out, could see the stage-coach and its four sleek horses,
about an eighth of a mile away, driving down the ferry-hill into the
river.

"Good!" said Willy; "there's the ford, and now we know. And the water
isn't up to the horses' knees; so _we_ can cross well enough."

"Yes, and get our breeches wet," groaned Fred.

"O, that's nothing. Lumbermen don't mind wet breeches," said Willy,
cheerily.

"Lumbermen? Who said we were lumbermen? I shan't try it yet a while; my
feet are too plaguy sore!"

"Shan't try what?"

"Well, nothing, I guess," yawned Fred; "lumber nor nothing else."

The stage had passed, by this time, and they were walking towards the
ford. When they reached it, Willy, nothing daunted, drew off his
stockings and shoes, and began to roll up his pantaloons.

"Look here, Billy; if you see any fun in this business, _I_ don't!"

"Fun? O, but we don't spect that, you know," said heroic Willy, stepping
into the stream.

"Cold as ice, I know by the way you cringe," said lazy Fred, who had not
yet untied his shoes.

"Come on, Fred; who minds the cold?"

"Now wait a minute, Billy. I hadn't got through talking. I'm not going
to kill myself for nothing; I want some fun out of it."

"Do come on and behave yourself," called back Willy; "when we get rich
we'll have the fun."

"Well, go and get rich then," cried Fred; "I shan't stir another step!
My father's got money enough, and I needn't turn my hand over."

Willy stopped short.

"But you are going to the Forks with me?"

"Who said I was?"

"Why, you said so, yourself. You were the one that put it in my head."

"O, that was only talk. I didn't mean anything."

Willy turned square round in the water, and glared at Fred, with eyes
that seemed to shoot sparks of fire.

[Illustration: DESERTED.--Page 195.]

"Yes--well, yes, I did kind of mean to, too," cried Fred, shrinking
under the gaze; "but I've got awful sick of it."

"Who called me a SNEAK?" exclaimed Willy, his voice shaking with wrath.
"Who called me my mamma's cry-baby? Who said he spected I'd back out?"

"But you see, Billy, my feet!"

Willy, whose own feet were nearly freezing, replied by a sniff of
contempt. He planted himself on a rock in the middle of the river, and
awaited the rest of Fred's speech.

"You know I've got folks living this side, back there a piece--my uncle
Diah. That's where I'll go. They'll let me make a visit, and carry me
home: they did it last spring."

"And what about _me_, Fred Chase?"

"You? Why, you may go where you're a mind to."

"What? Me, that you coaxed so to come?"

Fred quailed before the look and the tone.

"Well, I'd take you to uncle Diah's, Willy, only--well--I can't very
well, that's all."

Willy suddenly turned his back, and cleared the stream with one bound.



CHAPTER XII.

"I HA'E NAEBODY NOW."


Standing on the bank, Willy looked back over his shoulder at Fred, and
saw him dart off into a shady cow-path. No doubt he was going to his
uncle Diah's. When he was fairly out of sight, and Willy comprehended at
last that he had really left him, and did not mean to come back, he sat
down on a stone by the wayside, and began to rave.

"The tormentable, mean, naughty boy! I'd be ashamed to treat a _skeeter_
the way he's treated me! Did I ever coax a boy to go anywhere with me,
and then run off and leave him right in the middle of the river? No,
_sir_. Sore feet, hey? Didn't anybody ever have sore feet 'fore now, I
wonder? Why, I had chilblains last winter so deep they dug a hole into
my heels, and,--well, it's no use to make a great fuss,--I didn't cry
but two or three times. Blisters! what's that? Nothing but little puffs
of water! Perhaps that wasn't why he stopped, though. Just as likely as
not he meant all the time to stop, and come a-purpose to see Mr. Diah.
How can you tell? A boy that lies so! There, there, come to think of it,
shouldn't wonder if his feet weren't sore a bit! Wish I'd looked at 'em!

"Well, he's backed out, Fred Chase has! I should think he'd feel so mean
he never'd want to show _his_ head anywhere again! 'Fore I'd _sneak
out_ when I got started! Eh, for shame!"

Willy tore up a handful of grass, and threw it into the road, and the
action served to relieve him a little.

"Well, what'll _I_ do? now let's think. If a tiger should come right
down this ferry-hill, and tear me all to pieces, Fred wouldn't care.
'Course not. All he cares is to get enough to eat, and not make his feet
sore. He don't care what comes of me. I've got to think it out for
myself, what I'd better do. Got to do it myself, too, all alone, and
there won't be anybody to help me. Pretty scrape, I should think! Might
have known better'n to come!

"Well; will I be a lumberman and go up to the Forks? Let's see; I don'
know the way up there. That makes it bad, 'cause I guess there isn't
much of any road to it 'cept spotted trees; that's what I heard once.
Most likely I'd get lost. Fred wouldn't care if I did; be glad, I
s'pose. But, then, there's bears. Ugh! Pshaw! who's afraid of bears? And
then there's mother--O, I didn't mean to think about mother!"

Willy sighed, but soon roused himself.

"Well, what'll I do? O, wasn't that a real poor breakfast the woman gave
us? Don't see how I swallowed it! Makes me sick to think of it. Didn't
taste much like mother's breakfasts! I don't want to go where I'll have
to drink molasses in my coffee, and eat fatty potatoes too.

"And who'd take a little boy like me? Folks laugh at little boys--think
they don't know a thing. And folks always ask so many questions. They
want to know where you come from, and who your father is, and if he's
got any cows. And I _won't_ lie. And next thing they'd be sending me
home. They'd say home was the best place for little boys. H'm! So it is,
if you don't have to get whipped!

"O, my! Didn't I have to take it that last time? Father never hurt so
before. Made all the bad come up in my throat, and I can't swallow it
down yet. It would be good enough for him if I was dead; for then every
time he went out to the barn there'd be that horsewhip hanging up on the
nail; and he'd think to himself--'Where's that little boy I used to
whip?' And then the tears will come into his eyes, I pretty much know
they will. I saw the tears in his eyes once when I was sick. He felt
real bad; but when I got well, first thing he did was to whip me again.
Whippings don't do any good. All that does any good is when mother talks
to me; and that don't do any good, either. She made me learn this
verse:--

"'And thou, Solomon, my son, know thou the God of thy fathers, and serve
him with a perfect heart and a willing mind. If thou seek him, he will
be found of thee, but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off
forever.'

"There, I know that straight as a book. She prays to God to make me
better, but He doesn't do it yet, and I should think she'd get
discouraged. 'Heart like a stone,' she said. That made me want to laugh,
for I could feel it beating all the time she spoke, and it couldn't if
it was a stone! Bad heart, though, or I wouldn't be so bad myself.

"Well, it's no use to think about badness or goodness now," said Willy,
flinging another handful of grass into the road. "_What'll I do?_ That's
the question.

"You see, now, folks have such a poor opinion of boys," added he, his
thoughts spinning round the same circle again. "Most wish I was a girl.
O, my stars, what an idea!"

And completely disgusted with himself, he jumped up and turned a
somerset.

"Better be whipped three times a day than be a girl!

"But father felt real bad that time I was sick, for I saw him. Not so
bad as mother, though. Poor mother! I no business to gone off and left
her. What you s'pose she thought last night, when I didn't come back
from the post office?"

This question had tried to rise before, but had always been forced back.

"She waited till nine o'clock, and didn't think much queer. But after
that she come out of the bedroom, with her face tied up, and said she,
'Hasn't Willy got home yet?' Then they told her 'No,' and father
scowled. And she sat up till ten o'clock, and then do you s'pose anybody
went out doors to hunt? She didn't sleep a wink all night. Don't see how
folks can lie awake so. I couldn't if I should try; but I'm not a woman,
you know, and I don't believe I should care much about my boys, if I
was. Would _I_ mend their trousis for 'em, when they tore 'em on a nail,
going where I told 'em not to? For, says I, I can't bear the sight of a
child that won't mind. But you see, mother--

"Poor mother, what'll she do without me? She said there wasn't anybody
she could take in her arms to hug but just me. Stephen's too big to sit
in her lap, and Love's too big; and there wouldn't anybody think of
hugging Seth, if he was ever so little.

"Yes, mother wants _me_. I remember that song she sings about the Scotch
woman that lost her baby, and she cries a little before she gets
through."

The words were set to a plaintive air, and Willy hummed it over to
himself,--

    "I ha'e naebody now, I ha'e naebody now
       To clasp at my bosom at even,
    O'er his calm sleep to breathe out a vow,
       And pray for the blessing of Heaven."

"Poor mother, how that makes her cry! Why, I declare, I'm crying too!
Somehow seems's if I couldn't get along without mother. But there, I
won't be a cry-baby! Hush up, Willy Parlin!

"WHAT'LL I DO? Wish I hadn't come. Wish I'd thought more about
mother--how she's going to feel.

"What if I should turn right round now, and go home? Why, father'd whip
me worse'n ever--_that's_ what. Well, who cares? It'll feel better after
it's done smarting. Guess I can stand it. Look here, Will Parlin, I'm
going."

Bravo, Willy! With both feet he plunged into the river, and waded slowly
across. Very slowly, for his mind was not fully made up yet. There was a
great deal of thinking to be done first; but he might as well be moving
on while he thought. Every now and then rebellious pride, or anger, or
shame would get the better of him, and he would wheel round, with the
impulse to strike off into the unknown _Somewhere_, where boys lived
without whippings. But the thought of his mother always stopped him.

Was there an invisible cord which stretched from her heart to his--a
cord of love, which drew him back to her side? He could see her
sorrowful face, he could hear her pleading voice, and the very tremble
in it when she sang,--

    "I ha'e naebody now, I ha'e naebody now."

"But I'd never go back and take that whipping, if it wasn't for mother!"

He no longer felt obliged to hide from the approach of every human
being; and when a pedler, driving a "cart of notions," called out, "Want
a lift, little youngster?" he was very glad to accept the offer. To be
sure, he only rode two or three miles, but it was a great help.

It was noon, by that time, "high noon too," and the smell of nice
dinners floated out to him from the farm-houses, as he trudged by; but
to beg a meal he was ashamed. When he reached Cross Lots it was the
middle of the afternoon. He went up to the stump near the mill, where he
and Freddy had sat the night before; and, as he seated himself, he
thought with a pang of that pocket full of doughnuts, so freely made way
with.

He had eighteen cents in his wallet; but what good did it do, when there
was no store at hand where a body could buy so much as a sheet of
gingerbread? He was starving in the midst of plenty, like that
unfortunate man whose touch turned all the food he put in his mouth into
gold.

Beginning to think he would almost be willing to be whipped for the sake
of a good supper, he rose and walked on.

When he reached the Noonin farm, a mile and a half from home, the night
shadows were beginning to fall, but he could see in the distance a horse
and wagon coming that made his heart thump loud. The horse was old
Dolly; and what if one of the men in the wagon should be his father?

No, it was only Seth and Stephen; but Seth was almost as much to be
dreaded as Mr. Parlin himself.

"You here, you young rogue?" called out Stephen, in a tone between
laughing and scolding, for he would not have Willy suspect how relieved
they were at finding him. "You here? And where's Fred?"

"Up to Harlow, to Mr. Diah's," replied Willy, and coolly climbed into
the wagon.

"Better wait for an invitation. How do you know we shall let you ride?"
said Stephen, turning the horse's head towards home.

"First, we'd like to know what you've got to say for yourself," put in
Seth, in that cold, hard tone, which always made Willy feel as if he
didn't care how he had acted, and as if he would do just so again.

"I suppose you are aware that you have been a very wicked, deceitful,
disobedient boy?"

Willy made no reply, but lay down on the floor of the wagon, and curled
himself up like a caterpillar.

"Don't be too hard on him, Seth," said Stephen, who could not help
pitying the poor little fellow in his shame and embarrassment; "I don't
believe you meant to run away--now did you, Willy?"

The child was quite touched by this unexpected kindness. So they were
not sure he did mean to run away? If he said "No," they would believe
him, and then perhaps he wouldn't have to be whipped. But next instant
his better self triumphed, and he scorned the lie. Uncurling himself
from his caterpillar ball, he stammered,--

"Yes, I did mean to, too."

A little more, and he would have told the whole story. He longed to
tell it--how life had seemed a burden on account of his whippings, and
how he and Fred had planned to set up in business for themselves, but
Fred had backed out. But before he had time to speak, Seth said,
sternly,--

"You saucy child!"

He had taken Willy's quick "Yes, I did mean to, too," for impertinence;
whereas it was one of the bravest speeches the boy ever made, and did
him honor.

After this rebuke from Seth, Willy could not very well go on with his
confessions; the heart was gone out of him, and he curled up, limp and
quiet, like a caterpillar again.

"Meant to run away--did you?" went on Seth, who ought to have known
better than to pursue the subject; "to run away like a little dirty
vagabond! You've nearly killed mother, I wish you to understand. You'll
get a severe thrashing for this. I shall tell father not to show you any
mercy."

"Come, now, don't kick a fellow when he's down," said Stephen. "Willy
will be ashamed enough of this."

"Well, he ought to be ashamed! If he'd had a teaspoonful of brains he'd
have known better than to cut up such a caper as this. Did you think you
could run off so far but that we could find you, child?"

No answer.

"What did you little goslings mean to do with yourselves? Live on
acorns? And what did Fred's uncle say when he saw him coming into the
house in that shape?"

No answer.

Stephen looked down at the curled-up bunch on the floor of the wagon,
and as it did not move, he gently touched it with his foot.

"Poor little thing," said he, "I guess he's had a pretty hard cruise of
it; he's sound asleep."



CHAPTER XIII.

CONCLUSION.


Mrs. Parlin saw the wagon driving up to the porch door, and came out
trembling and too much frightened to speak. She supposed at first that
Willy had not come, for she did not see him till Seth and Stephen lifted
him out of the wagon, a dead weight between them.

O, her baby--her baby; what had happened to her dear wee Willie?

"There, there, mother, don't be frightened," said Stephen, cheerily;
"his tramp has been too much for him; that's all. I guess we'll carry
him right up stairs to bed."

"I--want--some--supper," moaned the little rebel, waking up just as they
were laying him on his bed in the pink chamber.

His mother and Love watched him with real pleasure, as he devoured cold
meat and bread, all they dared let him have, but not half as much as he
craved. Then he fell asleep again, and did not wake till noon of the
next day. His mother was bending over him with the tenderest love, just
as if he had never given her a moment's trouble in his life. That was
just like his dear mother, and it was more than Willy could bear; he
threw his arms round her neck, and buried his face in her bosom,
completely subdued.

"O, mother, mother, I'll never do so again."

"My darling, I am sure you never will."

"Where's father?"

"Down stairs in the dining-room, I think."

"Well, I'm ready; will you tell him I'm ready," cried Willy, drawing a
quick breath.

"Ready for what, dear?"

"Well, he is going to whip me, I suppose, and I want it over with."

"And how do you feel about it, my son? Don't you think you deserve to be
whipped?"

"Yes'm, I do," replied Willy, with a sudden burst of candor; "I don't
see how anybody can help whipping a boy that's acted the way I have."

"That's nobly said, my child," exclaimed Mr. Parlin, stepping out of the
large clothes-press. "I happened to be in there over-hauling the trunk
that has my Freemason clothes in it, and I couldn't but overhear what
you've been saying."

Willy buried his face in the pillow. He was willing his mother should
know his inmost thoughts, but he had always been afraid of his father.

"And, Willy, since you take so kindly to the idea of another whipping, I
don't know but I shall let you off this time."

Willy opened his eyes very wide.

"I'll tell you why," went on Mr. Parlin. "You didn't deserve the last
whipping you had; so that will go to offset this one, which you do
deserve."

Willy's eyes sparkled with delight; still there was a look in them of
question and surprise. The idea of his ever having a whipping that his
father thought he didn't deserve!

"You were in a shameful state that night, Willy; I can't call it
anything else but _drunk_; but I know now how it happened; there was
brandy in the cider."

"Brandy, papa?"

"Yes. Dr. Potter and I examined the barrel yesterday, and the mixture in
it was at least one third brandy."

"O, papa, was that why it tasted so bad? I drank one mugful, and didn't
like it; and then by and by I drank another mugful; but that was all."

"Yes, Willy; so you told me when I talked with you; and I didn't believe
you then; but I believe you now."

"O, father, I'm so glad!" cried Willy, with a look such as he had never
before given his father--a beaming look of gratitude and love. I think
he was happier at that moment to know that his father trusted him, than
to know he would not be punished.

He little thought then that he should never have another whipping as
long as he lived; but so it proved. Not that Mr. Parlin ever changed his
mind about the good effects of the rod; but when he saw that Willy was
really trying to be a better boy, he had more patience with him.

And Willy was trying. He continued to be rather hasty and headstrong,
but the "Indian sulks" gradually melted out of his disposition like ice
in a summer river. This exploit of running away had a humbling effect,
no doubt; but more than that, as he grew older he learned to understand
and love his father better. He found that those dreadful whippings had
been given "more in sorrow than in anger,"--given as a help to make him
better; and the time came when he thanked his father for them.

       *       *       *       *       *

And this is all I have to tell of his younger days. When he was
twenty-seven years old, and pretty Patience Lyman was twenty, they were
married in Squire Lyman's parlor, by Elder Lovejoy, then a very old man.

After the wedding they rode at once to Willowbrook, where they have both
lived to this day; she, the dearest of old ladies, and he, a large,
beautiful, white-headed old man, whom no one would now think of calling
the _Little Grandfather_.





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