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Title: Dorothy's Travels
Author: Raymond, Evelyn, 1843-1910
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 "Dorothy's Travels" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)



 Dorothy's Travels

 BY

 EVELYN RAYMOND

 Illustrations by S. Schneider

 A. L. CHATTERTON COMPANY

 NEW YORK, N. Y.



 COPYRIGHT 1908

 BY

 CHATTERTON-PECK CO.



 [Illustration: "ALLOW ME! AND HELPED MOLLY UP."
 _Dorothy's Travels._]



 CONTENTS

 CHAPTER                                                     PAGE


    I. SAILING DOWN THE HUDSON                                 9

   II. A RACE AND ITS ENDING                                  24

  III. ADRIFT IN THE GREAT CITY                               40

   IV. ON BOARD THE "PRINCE"                                  57

    V. MOONLIGHT AND MIST ON THE SEA                          73

   VI. SAFE ON SHORE                                          89

  VII. FINNAN HADDIE IN A GARDEN                             106

 VIII. DOROTHY AND THE BASHFUL BUGLER                        124

   IX. AN OX-OMOBILE AND A SAILBOAT                          142

    X. WHAT BEFELL A "DIGBY CHICKEN"                         158

   XI. IN EVANGELINE LAND                                    171

  XII. SIGHT SEEING UNDER DIFFICULTIES                       187

 XIII. A MESSAGE FOR THE CAMP                                202

  XIV. HOW MOLLY CAME TO CAMP                                217

   XV. MRS. CALVERT PLANS AN INFAIR                          234

  XVI. WHEN JOURNEYS END IN WELCOME                          249



DOROTHY'S TRAVELS



CHAPTER I

SAILING DOWN THE HUDSON


"All aboard--what's goin'! All ashore--what ain't!"

The stentorian shout of the colored steward, so close to Dorothy's ear,
made her jump aside with a little scream. Then as she saw that the boat
hands were about to draw the gang plank back to the steamer's deck, she
gave another little cry and fairly pushed Alfaretta toward it.

"Never mind hugging me now, girlie, you must go or you'll be left!"

But the lassie from the mountain only smiled and answered:

"I don't mind if I am. Look a-here!" and with that she pulled a shabby
purse from the front of her blouse and triumphantly displayed its
contents.

"Oh! Alfy! How'll you ever get back?"

"Easy as preachin'. I--"

But Dorothy had no further time to waste in argument. Here were Jim
Barlow and Monty Stark shaking either hand and bidding a hasty good-by,
while Molly Breckenridge was fairly dancing up and down in her anxiety
lest the lads should also be left on board, as Alfaretta was likely to
be.

But they were not. Another second they had bounded down the stairs from
the saloon to the lower deck, a workman had obligingly caught Monty by
his coat collar and laughingly flung him over the plank to the dock
beyond, while Jim's long legs strode after and made their last leap
across a little chasm of water.

"Good-by, good-by, good-by!"

Handkerchiefs waved, kisses were tossed across the widening water, the
bell rang, the whistle tooted, and Dorothy's travels had begun. Then as
the group of schoolmates watching this departure from the shore grew
more indistinct she turned upon her old mountain friend with the
astonished question:

"But Alfaretta! Whatever made you do this? What will become of you,
alone in that great city of New York?"

"I didn't say anything about Ne' York, did I? Should think you'd be glad
to have me go along with you a little bit o' way. Course, I shall get
off the boat when it stops to Cornwall landing. And I thought--I
thought--Seems if I _couldn't_ have you go so far away, Dolly. It's
terrible lonesome up-mounting now-a-days. And I--I don't see why some
folks has everything and some hasn't nothin'!"

There was more grief than grammar in this speech and a few tears sprang
to the girl's eyes. But Alfy boasted that she was not a "crier" and as
she heard the stewardess announcing: "Tickets, ladies and gentlemen,"
she dashed the moisture away and stared at the woman.

After her usual custom, "Fanny" was collecting money from the various
passengers and would obligingly procure their tickets for those not
already provided. As she made her way through the throng, which on that
summer morning crowded the upper deck of the pretty "Mary Powell," the
three young friends watched her with surprised interest.

Apparently she took no note of the amount anybody gave her, carrying
bills of all dimensions between her fingers and piles of specie on her
broad palm.

"How can she tell how much she's taken from anybody? How can she give
them their right change?" wondered Dorothy.

"I give it up! She must be a deal better at arithmetic than I am. I
should make the mixedest mess of that business;" answered Molly, equally
curious.

"Yet you will see that she makes no mistakes. I've been traveling up and
down the river on this same boat for many years and I've given her all
sorts of sums, at times, on purpose to try her. But her memory never
fails," said Miss Greatorex who was in charge of the party. She sat
quite calmly with the amount of three fares in her hand but with a most
forbidding gaze at Alfaretta.

Who that young person was or why she had thrust herself into their
company she did not understand. She had herself but known of this trip
on the day before, when Miss Penelope Rhinelander had been obliged to
give it up, on account of the extreme illness of a near relative.

However, here she was with her two pupils, whom she taught at the
Rhinelander Academy, bound for a summer's outing in--to her and
them--unknown lands. Also, as there may be some who have not hitherto
followed the fortunes of Dorothy, it may be well to explain that she was
a foundling, left upon the doorstep of a man and wife, in a quiet street
in Baltimore. That he had lost his health and his position as a
letter-carrier in that city and had removed to his wife's small farm in
the Hudson Highlands. That among their friends there was somebody who
had taken an interest in the orphan girl and had burdened himself--or
herself--with the charge of her education. That she had passed the last
school year at the Academy and had been in some most exciting episodes
detailed in "Dorothy's Schooling;" and that now, at the beginning of the
long vacation, she was traveling with her closest school friend and a
teacher, whose life she had been the means of saving at the time of the
Academy fire, toward New York; and from thence to Nova Scotia--there to
grow strong for another year of study.

Alfaretta Babcock's home was near to her home upon the mountain; and
though unlike, there was a sincere affection between this untaught
country girl and the dainty Dorothy, and Alfy had begged a ride in a
neighbor's wagon going to Newburgh, that she might bid her friend good
by and watch her set sail on what seemed must be the most wonderful of
journeys.

She was to have returned home as she had come; but when the steamer was
on the point of leaving an impulse had seized her to travel thus
herself, if only for the brief distance between this landing and the one
nearer her own home. She had a few cents in her purse and hoped they
would be enough to pay her fare; and now when they were already moving
down the stream and her familiar mountain-top came into view, she made a
wild dart toward the stewardess, shouting:

"Ma'am, please, ma'am, take mine! I've got to get off the next place
and--and--I mustn't be left!"

Fanny picked up the camp-chair Alfy had stumbled over, remarked in a
soothing voice, "Plenty of time, little gal, oceans of time, oceans of
time," and glanced at the money so suddenly thrust into her already
crowded palm.

"Four cents, little gal? Hardly enough. Fifteen is the regular fare. All
you got, sissy? Look and see."

The tone was kind but the statement sounded like a knell in poor
Alfaretta's ears. Thousands of times she had watched the many boats pass
up and down the river, but only once had she been upon any and that was
a row-boat. It had been the dream of her life to voyage, as she was
doing now, far and away beyond those Highlands, that seemed to meet and
clasp hands across the mighty stream, and see the wonderful world that
lay beyond. For the boats always disappeared around that projecting
point of rock and forest, and so she knew that the mountains did not
meet but merely seemed so to do. Well, of course, she wasn't to find out
about them to-day. She knew that quite well, because her own landing was
on this side the "Point" and she could go no further. Indeed, could she
now go even so far?

"Fifteen cents! My heart!--I--I--What can I do? Will the captain drop
me--in the--river? Will--"

The stewardess was very busy. People were watching her a little
anxiously because of her indifferent handling of her money and the
tickets she had not hurried to bring; and the sudden terrified clutch at
her skirts which Alfy gave set her tripping among the crowded chairs and
made her answer, crossly:

"For goodness sake, girl, keep out from under foot! If you haven't the
money go to your friends and get it!"

"Friends! I haven't got any!" cried Alfaretta, and flung her skirt over
her face and herself down upon the nearest seat.

From their own place Molly and Dolly watched this little by-play for a
moment, then darted forward themselves to see what was the matter.

"Why, Alfy dear, what's happened? Won't the woman get your ticket for
you? Never mind. I'll ask her. Maybe she will for me."

"You needn't, Dolly girl! There ain't enough and I'm afraid they'll drop
me off into the water! She--she--"

"Alfy! How silly! Nobody would do such a thing. It would be murder. But
you shouldn't have come unless you had the money and I'll go ask Miss
Greatorex for some. She has our purses in her satchel, taking care of
them for us. Wait a minute. You stay with her, Molly, while I go get it.
How much, Alfy?"

The girl began to count upon her fingers:

"Four--that's what I have and it was meant for candy for the
children--five, six--How many more'n four does it take to make
fifteen I wonder? I'm so scared I can't think. And I wish,
I--wish--to--goodness--knows I'd ha' said good-by back there to the dock
and not let myself get carried off down river to nobody knows where. If
they dassent to drop me off the boat they might keep me here till I
paid--"

"Alfaretta Babcock! I certainly am ashamed of you. That's a hard thing
to say, just at parting, but it's the truth. The idea! First you fancy a
decent human being will drown you because you haven't a little money,
and then you can't reckon fifteen! What would dear Mr. Seth say, after
teaching you so faithfully? Never mind. Don't act so foolish any more
and I'll go get the money."

This was not so easy as she fancied. The boat was already nearing the
next landing where Alfaretta must go ashore, or be carried on to a much
greater distance from her home, but it seemed difficult to make Miss
Greatorex understand what was wanted and why. The poor lady's deafness
had increased since her fright and exposure at the time of the fire and,
now that she had been put into a position of greater trust than ever
before, her sense of responsibility weighed heavily upon her. At
parting, her principal, Miss Rhinelander, had enjoined:

"Take particular care of the girls' finances, Cousin Isobel. It is
important that they should learn to be wise in their small expenditures
so that they may be equally prudent when they come to have the handling
of larger sums--if that should ever be. Make them give a strict account
of everything and check any foolishness at the beginning."

The subordinate promised. She was a "poor relation" and knew that she
was an unpopular teacher with many of the pupils of the fine school,
though she had modified her sternness altogether in the case of Dorothy
who had saved her from the fire. But the mandate of her superior was
fresh in her mind. She had been touched by the rarely familiar "Cousin
Isobel," and determined to do her duty to the utmost. Yet here was
Dorothy already screaming into her deafest ear:

"My purse, please, Miss Greatorex! I want some money right away! Quick,
quick, please, or it'll be too late!"

The girl's voice was so highly pitched that people around began to stare
and some of them to smile. Like most afflicted persons the lady was
sensitive to the observation of others and now held up her hand in
protest against the attention they were attracting.

"Softly, Dorothy. Better write what you wish if you cannot speak more
distinctly;" and a small pad with pencil was extended.

But Dorothy did not take them. The satchel upon Miss Greatorex's lap was
open, her own and Molly's purses lay within. To snatch them both up and
rush away was her impulsive act and to scamper back across the deck,
wherever she could find a passage, took but a moment longer. But she was
none too soon.

Down below the steward was again crying:

"All aboard what's goin'! All ashore what ain't! All who hasn't got deir
tickets, please step right down to de Cap'n's office and settle."

While another loud voice ordered:

"Aft gangway for Cornwall! All ashore--all ashore! Aft gangway--all
ashore!"

Some were hurrying down the stairs to that "aft gangway," others
speeding up them in equal haste with that excitement which always marks
the infrequent traveler, and poor Alfaretta caught the same fever of
haste. Without a word of real farewell, now that she had come thus far
at so much risk to speak it, she dashed ahead, slipped on the
brass-tipped stair and plunged headlong into the space below.

For an instant there was silence even in that busy scene, people halting
in their ascent and porters turning their skids aside with angry
exclamations, lest the trunks they wheeled should fall upon her as she
seemed bent to fall upon them.

Yet only one thought now possessed the terrified girl--escape! She had
bumped her head till she was dizzy, but she mustn't stop for that.
Yonder yawned that open space in the deck-rail which they called the
"aft gangway" and toward that point she propelled herself regardless of
all that impeded her way.

Down the plank, out upon the boards of the board dock, into the medley
of stages and yelling drivers she hurried, very much as James Barlow and
Montmorency Stark had done at that other, upper landing. But when she
felt the solid quay beneath her feet she paused, clapped her hands to
her dizzy head and--felt herself grasped in a wild and fierce embrace.

Then both upon that dock and the deck of the outgoing steamer rang a
shout of merriment, which made anger take the place of fear as she
whirled about in the arms of whoever held her and shook her fist at the
boat and its passengers.

"Well! That was a short trip but it was full of incident!" remarked one
passenger, near to Molly and Dorothy. They had run to the rail to see
what followed Alfy's disappearance, and if she were carried away
injured. "I saw her come aboard and depart and she managed to get a deal
of action into those few minutes. Friend of yours, young ladies?"

They faced about, wondering why this man should speak to them. He looked
like a gentleman though a rather shabby one. Montmorency would have
termed him "seedy." His coat had seen better days and his hat, lying on
the bench beside him, was worn and discolored, and his thin white hair
told that he, also, was old. This made the girls regard him kindly, for
both of them had a reverence for age.

More than that, a crutch rested against his knee and this made an
instant appeal to Dorothy's sympathy. She had seen nobody with a crutch
since she had said farewell to Father John; and now in pity for this
other cripple she lingered near answering his many questions most
politely.

"Yes, she is a friend. She--I guess she ran away to sail a short
distance with us. We shan't see each other again this summer. She forgot
her money. I mean she didn't have any to forget; and--Sir? What did you
ask me to find?"

"To buy a morning paper for me, my dear. You see, being lame--Did you
ever know anybody who was lame?" asked the old man, with a smile.

"Ah! yes. The dearest man in all the world; my father."

Thereupon Dorothy huddled down beside the stranger and gave a history
of her father's illness, his wonderful patience, and the last effort he
was making to regain his health.

She did not know that it is often unsafe to talk with unknown people
upon a journey; and in any case she would not have feared such a
benignant old gentleman as this. She ended her talk with the inquiry:

"Where will I find the paper, Mr.--Mr.--I mean, sir?"

"Smith my name is. John Smith of Smithville. You'll find all the papers
and books at a news-stand on the lower deck. There's a candy-stand
there, too, such as will interest you two more than the papers, likely;"
he answered with another smile.

They started down the stairs leading from the main saloon to the lower
part of the boat, and not until they had reached the news-stand did
either of them remember that she hadn't brought her purse nor asked
which paper their new acquaintance desired.

"Oh! dear! Wasn't that silly of us! And we're almost to West Point,
where my cousin Tom's a cadet! He promised to be on the lookout for us,
if he could get leave to go to the steamboat landing. I wrote and told
him about our trip and he answered right away. He's Aunt Lucretia's only
child and she adores him. Hasn't spoiled him though. Papa took care
about that! If I go back after our pocket-books I may lose the chance to
see him! So provoking! I wish now we hadn't bothered ourselves about
that old man. If he was able to come aboard the boat and go up those
stairs to the deck he was able to buy his own old papers. So there!"
cried Molly, stamping her little foot in her vexation.

West Point cadets are given few permissions to leave their Academy for
social visits, so that Tom had never been to the Rhinelander school
where rules were also so strict that Molly had been but once to see her
cousin in his own quarters. Until he went to the Point and she to school
in the hill-city a few miles further up the river, they had lived
together in her father's house and were like brother and sister. The
disappointment now was great to the loving girl and Dorothy hastened to
comfort, by saying:

"Never mind, Molly, you stay right here. See! they're fixing that
gang-plank again, at this very part of the deck. You stand right
outside, close against the rail but where you won't be in the men's way
and, if he's there, you'll surely see him.

"I'll go back and get the purses. Where did you lay them?"

"Hum. I don't know. I can't exactly think. You handed me yours, I
remember, when you stooped to pick up his crutch he'd knocked down. Ah!
Now I know. My hands got so warm and your pocketbook was red and I
thought it would stain my new gloves. So I just laid them down on the
bench beside him. You'll find them right there beside him. You can ask
him which paper, then, and I say, Dolly Doodles, what right had that
hindering old thing to expect us--us--to buy his papers for him? Why
didn't he give us the money, himself? Seems if we'd been sort of--sort
of goosies, doesn't it?"

"Oh! Molly! That's not nice of you to think about that dear, lame old
man! And why he didn't was, I suppose, because he didn't think. We don't
always think ourselves, dearie. Never mind. I'll hurry and be right
back."

"Yes, do--do hurry! I've said so much about you in my letters I'm just
suffering to have you two meet. Just suffering! Hark! They're whistling
and ringing the bell and we'll be there in a minute! Do, do hurry--for I
believe I see him now--that tall one at the end of the wharf--Hurry--or,
better still--Wait! Wait!"

But long before the excited Molly had finished speaking Dorothy had run
up the stairs, along the long passage to the aft deck where she had left
her lame acquaintance waiting for her to do his simple errand.

He was not in the spot where she had left him. He was not in the big
saloon, or parlor. He was not upon the forward deck; not yet amid the
crowd pressed to the deck's rail, to watch for whatever might be seen at
this historic landing place. Flying to the rail she scanned the few
departing passengers and he was not among them. She saw, but scarcely
realized that she did, a group of three cadets who had come as near the
steamer as the wharf permitted and were gaily chattering with her chum,
during the short stop that was made.

"Could he have fallen overboard? And if he did why did he take our
purses with him?" she wondered. Then reflected that it would be a
difficult thing to explain this affair to Miss Greatorex; and also that
the missing pocket-books contained a full month's "allowance" for both
Molly and herself.



CHAPTER II

A RACE AND ITS ENDING


Dorothy's search for the missing old man and, to her, the more important
missing purses brought her to the lower deck and Molly. The latter was
still leaning upon the rail, gazing a little sadly into the water, for
the brief glimpse she had had of her cousin Tom had recalled their happy
days in their old southern home. There were even a few tears in her
bright blue eyes as she raised them toward her friend; but she checked
them at once, frightened by the expression of Dorothy's own.

"Why, honey, what's the matter?"

"Our pocket-books are lost!"

"Lost? Lost! They can't be. You mustn't say so. We can't, we daren't
lose them. Weren't they on that bench beside the old man?" demanded
Molly.

"No, they were not. They were not anywhere--any single where. He wasn't
either."

"Pooh! He must be. He probably wanted to change his seat and was afraid
to leave them lying on the bench, lest somebody might be tempted to pick
them up. Somebody to whom they didn't belong, I mean."

"Molly, what shall we do? What will Miss Greatorex say?"

"Humph. She'll probably scream out her disgust as if we were deaf too
like herself. That's the way she always does: when there's something to
be said you don't want anybody else to hear she just talks her loudest;
and when there's something you're longing to know she merely whispers.
That's the way all deaf people do, Miss Penelope says. And--you're the
one that lost them, so you'll be the one to tell her, Dorothy girl."

"Why, child, I don't see how I lost them any more than you did! I'm
sorry as I can be. Sorrier about yours than mine even, though I'd
planned so many nice things to do with the money. Five dollars! Think of
it! I never before had five whole dollars at a time, never in my life!"
said Dolly, mournfully.

"Well, what's the use staying down here and just worrying about the
thing? Let's go and look again for the man. When we find the man we
shall find the purses; but--whether he'll give them back to us is
another matter."

"Molly, what a dreadful thing to say! As if you thought he--he stole
them, a nice old gentleman like that!"

"Pooh! Once my Aunt Lucretia had her little handbag snatched out of her
hand, right on Broadway street in New York city. She did so; and all she
could remember about the snatcher was that he was a handsome young man
with an eyeglass in one eye. A regular dandy he was, if the thief was
the fellow who brushed against her so rudely. Anyhow, after he'd
brushed, her bag was gone and all her shopping money in it. Papa told
her it served her right. That to carry a purse, or a bag, that way was a
temptation to any rogue who happened to pass by. He said the snatcher
was smarter than Auntie and he hoped it would teach her a lesson. Aunt
Lu thought Papa was almost as horrid as the thief; and what will either
of them say to us for being so careless?"

"I suppose we'll have to tell them!" reflected Dorothy, in sad
perplexity.

"Course we will. Aren't they both to meet us at the steamer? Aren't they
going with us all the way to Halifax? Why, I should want to tell the
very first thing. How else would I get any more money?"

"I don't know, I'm sure. Lucky you! As for me there's nobody to replace
my five dollars, so far as I know."

"Oh! come on. Don't let's stand moping. I'll tell you. Let's begin right
here at this spot. You go one side this lower place, all along that
passage beside the engine-rooms and things and I'll go the other. Then
if we don't see him anywhere here we'll meet at the foot of the stairs
and search the upper floor just the same way. Out on both ends of the
boat, poke into closets and barber-shop and captain's office--everywhere
there is a chance a man, a passenger man, might be."

It seemed a fine scheme and they promptly separated to put it into
execution. But when they met at the foot of the stairway, leading to the
upper saloon, neither had any success to report. Nor did they meet with
any better fortune when they had made a prolonged examination of the
whole steamer, even climbing to the hurricane deck and questioning the
officer upon the bridge.

As they slowly descended to the place where Miss Greatorex awaited them,
alarmed by their absence and equally afraid to move from the spot lest
somebody else should confiscate their three comfortable camp-chairs and,
possibly, their hand luggage, Dorothy suggested:

"Let's write it. That'll save other people, strangers, from hearing.
Miss G. always carries a pad and pencil with her and I'll do it myself,
since you think I'm most to blame. But I'm afraid even my writing won't
stop her talking when she finds out! Oh! dear! I wish Alfy Babcock had
never come on this boat! Then I shouldn't have gone to watch her and
seen him."

"Huh! I don't think it's quite fair to blame poor Alfy for our own
fault. We'd no business to be so careless, either one of us. I had a
bright notion that maybe that stewardess or some official had picked up
the pocket-books, so I asked every single one of them, big and little,
black and white, and not a soul knew a thing about it. No, Dolly
Doodles, the blame's our own and--the man's," said Molly, with
conviction.

Miss Greatorex was vastly relieved to see her charges returning to her
side. She had become anxious over their prolonged absence and in her
nervousness had imagined all sorts of accidents which might have
befallen them. Yet the same nervousness had prevented her questioning
any employee of the steamer, who had come near, she shrinking from the
observation this would attract to her deafness.

Therefore, it was with a much brighter smile than ordinary that she
welcomed the truants, and was disappointed to have her greeting so
dejectedly returned.

"I began to worry over you, my dears, I cannot call either of you really
mischievous, yet I hope you won't leave me in suspense so long again.
Anywhere, so that you are in my sight all of the time, you are free to
move about. But--Why, my dears! What has happened to make you so sober?"

It certainly was vexing, when the lady was making such extra effort to
be agreeable and to adapt herself to young people's ideas, to have these
efforts so disregarded; and it was a strange thing that Dorothy should
without permission take the notebook and pencil from her teacher's lap
and begin to write.

Miss Isobel had set forth upon her travels with the firm intention of
making notes about everything along the way and it disturbed her
methodical soul to have anybody else "messing" with this neat little
record. It was only a trifle better that the girl should have turned to
the very back of the book and chosen a fly leaf there to scribble on.
Scribbling it seemed, so rapidly was it done, and after a brief time the
book was returned to its owner and she silently requested to examine
what had been written in it. This is what she read:

"We've lost our pocket-books. Or, maybe, I lost them both. We've lost
the man, too. He was a little, shiny old man, with a fringe of white
hair around his head. When he put his hat on he had two foreheads under
its rim, one before and one behind. His coat was shiny. His hat was
shiny and had a hole in it. He--he seemed to shine all over, especially
in his smile. That was perfectly lovely. Have you seen him? Because if
you know where he is I'd like to ask him for our purses. That is if he
has them as Molly and, maybe, I think. Else how could we buy his paper
for him without any money and how can we give him the paper if
he--_isn't_?"

Poor Dorothy fancied that she had made everything most explicit yet, at
the same time, very gently broken the news of the lost purses. She was
unprepared for the expression of confusion that settled upon Miss
Greatorex's austere features as she read this communication once, then
more carefully a second time.

Leaning forward, eagerly observant of "how she'll take it" Molly
perceived that Dorothy's explanation hadn't been sufficient; or else
that it had not dawned upon Miss Isobel's comprehension that her girls
had really been so careless, that the loss was genuine. As the lady
looked up, after this second reading, with a question but no anger in
her expression, the observer exclaimed:

"Dolly, I don't believe you've told her all. Give me the book, please,
Miss G. and I'll see what it says."

Then after a rapid perusal of the message Molly turned upon her chum
with an amused indignation:

"You've said more about your 'shiny old man' with his adorable smile
than our own trouble. Here, I'll write and I guess there won't be any
mistake this time."

So she also possessed herself of the cherished notebook and made her own
brief entry:--

"We laid our purses down on a bench and a man stole them. The same man
D. described. Now somebody must have stolen _him_ 'cause he isn't on the
boat."

"Laid your purses down on a bench and left them there?" demanded Miss
Greatorex in her most excited tones. Tones so loud that all the
passengers sitting near turned their heads to look and listen; thereby
calling attention to the two blushing girls, in a manner most
unpleasant.

All they could do to avert this audible upbraiding was to point to the
notebook and mutely beg that she would do her scolding by that silent
channel. Not she, however. Never in all the years of her drudgery of
teaching had she felt her responsibility so great as now. To be
entrusted with the charge of Miss Rhinelander's most indulged
pupils--all the school knew that--had, at first seemed a burden, and
next a most delightful honor. But, after all, they were just like other
girls. Just as careless, just as disrespectful and annoying; for the
sensitive old gentlewoman had considered the use of her notebook a
presumption and their long absence from her side a proof that they were
inconsiderate. However, these were mere matters of sentiment, but the
loss of ten good dollars was a calamity.

"Well, young ladies, all I have to say, and you may note that it is my
final word, is: _Those pocket-books must be found._ You cannot leave
this steamer until they are. I have promised especial care over your
expenditures and I shall do my duty. I am now going to read my history
of Hendrik Hudson. While I am reading you can seek your purses. We have
still a long time before reaching New York and the better you employ it
the better for--all of us."

Every syllable was as distinctly uttered as if she were dictating to a
secretary, but she ignored all the curious glances turned her way and
resumed her reading with an air of great dignity.

Molly and Dolly exchanged dismayed glances; then giggled, perceiving
amused expressions upon the faces of many travelers near them. The whole
affair began to seem more absurd than serious, and, finally, unable to
longer restrain their rather hysterical mirth, they rose and walked
away arm in arm.

But they did no more searching. Had they not already looked everywhere?
Besides, as Molly declared:

"We're more apt to see that man somewhere if we sit right still in one
place. Papa told me that was the way to do, if I were ever lost
anywhere. I was once, in a big store in New York, but I remembered, I
sat right down by the door and just waited and prayed all the time that
Auntie Lu would come and find me there. I was a little tacker then, not
bigger'n anything. And she came. I don't know how much the praying did
'cause all I knew then was 'Now I lay me;' or how much the waiting.
Anyhow she found me. So, maybe, if we keep still as still, the 'shiny
man' will get around past us sometime. _He's_ the lost one in the case,
isn't he? And did you ever see how restless the people all do seem? I
guess they're tired of the long sail and anxious to be off the boat."

"I guess so, too. Let's do something to pass the time. Count how many
girls and women we can see in white shirt-waists--seems if it had rained
them, seems if! Or how many people go trapesing up and down the deck.
Make up stories about them, too, if you like, and fit names to them. I
always do give a name to anybody I see and don't know. Let's call that
nice looking man yonder 'Graysie.' He's all in gray clothes, hat,
gloves, tie, and everything. There's another might be what Monty'd say
was a 'hayseed.' I think that's not a nice name, though, but just call
him 'Green Fields.' He's surely come from some farm up the river and
looks as if he were enjoying every minute of this sail. I'm beginning to
enjoy it too, now; only I'm getting dreadfully hungry. If I had my purse
I think I'd go down to that stand in the corner and buy us some
sandwiches;" said Dorothy, in response.

Cried Molly, indignantly:

"Don't talk about sandwiches to a poor, starving girl! Sailing does make
a body ravenous, just ravenous, even though we did have a
'vacation-breakfast' with something besides cereals and milk. When Miss
Rhinelander does 'treat' us she does it thoroughly. But, what shall you
order when we get to New York and meet Papa and Auntie Lu? You know
we're all to dine at a big hotel, for the Nova Scotia boat doesn't sail
till two o'clock. Two o'clock sharp! Not a minute before nor a minute
after, Papa says; and he goes out to that country every year. Sometimes
in the hunting season and now just to camp out and fish and get--get
fat, I tell him. It's dreadful wearing to be a Judge. Judge of the
Supreme Court. That's what my father is. He's a bank president, too, and
has lots to do with other people's money. But he's something to do with
a railway besides, and all these things and his taking care of Aunt
Lucretia's 'property' wears him out. She hasn't any property, really,
except the little tumble-down house where she and Papa were born. Papa
says it isn't worth the cost of powder to blow it up; but Auntie loves
it and makes more fuss over it than Papa does over all his own things."

"A Judge is a man that can send a person to jail or not, isn't he?"

"Worse than that! He can send one to the gallows or the electric
chair--if he has to. That's the wearing part; having to be 'just' when
he just longs to be 'generous.' If it wasn't that he has the same power
to set a person free, too, I guess he'd give up Judging. If he could. I
don't know about such things. What I do know is that he and some other
Judges and some more bankers and such men have the greatest fun ever,
summer times. They hunt up old clothes and wear them right in the woods.
Auntie says she doesn't know where they find such duds 'cause they
certainly never owned them at any other time. Then they sleep on the
ground, and cook over a fire they make themselves, and fish and tell
stories. 'Just loaf' Papa says, and to hear him tell makes me sorrier
than ever I'm not a boy. If I were I could go too. But a girl--Pshaw!
Girls can't do a single thing that's worth while, seems to me!"

"I'm afraid I shall be afraid of a real Judge, Molly. I'm afraid I--"

"The idea! You'll forget all those 'afraids' the minute you see my
darling father! But you didn't say what you'd order for your dinner."

"How can I order anything if I haven't the money to pay for it? Or does
that all go in with the expenses of the whole trip, that Miss Greatorex
has to take care of?" asked Dorothy, who was in real ignorance of some
most practical matters, having merely been told that she was to take
this journey under Miss Greatorex's charge.

"I don't know what goes in or out; but I do know that my father wouldn't
let ladies pay for their dinners when he was along. A pretty kind of a
gentleman that would be! And Judge Schuyler Breckenridge is a Perfect
Gentleman, I want you to understand," answered Molly, proudly.

"So is my Father John," said Dorothy with equal decision; and for a few
minutes there was silence while each loyal daughter reflected upon the
astonishing merits of their respective fathers.

Afterward they interested themselves in watching the people near them;
so that it was with some surprise they heard "Diamond," the steward,
announcing:

"New Yawk! Twenty-third street landin'! Fo'wa'd gangway fo'
Twen-ty--thir-d-st-r-e-et!!"

Then followed a little scurry as they sought Miss Greatorex to inquire
if this were where they would leave the boat. However she said not; that
they were to remain on board until the steamer landed at Desbrosses
street, lower down the city. There she had been informed that Judge
Breckenridge and Mrs. Hungerford would meet them. After dining together
they would cross the city to the other East River and take the steamer
for Yarmouth. It was all very simple and yet very exciting.

Both Miss Isobel and her pupils had "read up" on Nova Scotia and felt
as if the short ocean trip would land them in a foreign country. Whether
the entire vacation should be passed in that Province or they to travel
further afield had not yet been decided.

However, New York was sufficiently exciting, even to Molly who had been
there many times, and far more so to Dorothy, who had passed through it
but once. They could scarcely keep their feet from dancing as they
gathered with the rest of the downtown passengers to await the landing
of the "Powell" and their going ashore.

"See! See! Papa! Darling Auntie Lu! There they are, there they are!"
almost shrieked Molly, frantically waving her handkerchief to somebody
on the wharf.

There were many answering wavings of handkerchiefs from expectant
friends to those still on board, and Dorothy peered eagerly among them
trying to decide which was the pair to whom her chum belonged. Turning
her head to beg information on this point she suddenly perceived her
"shiny old man." He was on the edge of the crowding passengers, holding
back and yet apparently in haste to get forward, by watching for little
breaks in the ranks and dodging swiftly through them. His crutch was
under his arm, he was not using it. His hat-brim had been lowered over
his face, his coat collar pulled high about his ears and securely
buttoned. There was none of that benign appearance about him now which
had so won Dorothy's sympathetic heart and if he were lame he admirably
disguised the fact.

It was her chance! In another moment he would have left the boat and she
would miss him. She would run up to him and ask him if he remembered
about the purses--Quick, quick! He must have forgotten--

He was going. Everybody was going. She kept her eyes fixed upon him,
unmindful of the fact that somebody else was crowding her apart from
Molly and Miss Greatorex, or that, as the throng pressed outward, they
were getting further and further away.

The "shiny man" wasn't three feet ahead of her when they at last gained
the gang-plank and surged forward to the wharf. She could almost touch
his shoulder--she would in a minute--she was gaining--

No she wasn't! He had slipped aside and was hurrying away with the
agility of youth! It couldn't be the cripple and yet--there was the
point of his crutch sticking out behind! Well, she reckoned she could
run as fast as he did and she promptly set out to try!

It was a strange race in a strange place. West street in New York is a
very crowded, dirty thoroughfare. An endless, unbroken line of drays,
beer-wagons, vehicles of every sort, moves up one side and down the
other of the hurrying street cars which claim the centre roadway. The
pavement is always slippery with slime, the air always full of hoarse
shouts, cries and distracting whistles. Car bells jangle, policemen
yell their warnings to unwary foot passengers, hackmen screech their
demands for patronage, and hurrying crowds move to and fro between the
ferries and the city. A place that speedily set Dorothy's nerves
a-tingle with fear, yet never once diverted her from her purpose.

As she had once followed poor Peter Piper in a mad race over the fields,
"just for fun," so now she followed her "shiny man," to regain her lost
property. She had become convinced that he had it. He looked, at last,
exactly like a person who would rob little girls of their last five
dollars! Their own whole monthly allowance and a most liberal one.

"But he shall not keep it! He--shall--not!" cried Dorothy aloud, and
redoubling her speed, if that were possible.

He darted between wagons where the horses' noses of the hinder one
touched the tail-boards of the forward; so did she. He bobbed under
drays; so did she. He seemed bent upon nothing but escape; she upon
nothing but pursuit and capture. She believed that he must have seen her
though she had not caught him turning once around to look her way.

They had cleared the street; they were upon the further sidewalk; a
policeman was screaming a "halt" to her but she paid no attention. In
that medley of sounds one harsh cry more or less was of small account.
What was of account, the only thing that now remained clear in her eager
brain was the fact that the fugitive had--turned a corner! A corner
leading into a street at right angles with this broad one, a street
somewhat narrower, a fraction quieter, and even dirtier. She followed;
she also flashed around that dingy, saloon-infested corner, bounded
forward, breathless and exultant, because surely she could come up to
him here. Then she paused for just one breath, dashed her hand across
her straining eyes, and peered ahead.

The "shiny man" had disappeared as completely as if the earth had opened
and swallowed him up; and there Dorothy stood alone in the most unsavory
of alleys, with a sudden, dreadful realization of the fact that--she was
lost.



CHAPTER III

ADRIFT IN THE GREAT CITY


"My darling! My darling!" cried Judge Breckenridge, clasping his
daughter close to his breast, then holding her off at arm's length, the
better to scan her beloved face and to observe the changes a few months
of absence had wrought. "My darling Molly! More like the other Molly
than ever! Now my vacation has indeed begun!"

"Papa, Papa! You sweetest, dearest, beautifullest Papa ever lived! How
good it is to see you! And, yes Auntie Lu, you're dear too; but a body's
father--Why, he's her father and nobody like him, nobody!"

In her enthusiastic greeting of and by her relatives Molly forgot
everything and everybody else. She had crossed the gang-plank as swiftly
as the people crowding behind and before her would permit, her feet
restlessly dancing up and down in the limited space; and now that she
was upon the solid wharf to which the steamer was moored she bore them
along with her by an arm linked to each, eager to be free of that throng
and in some quiet spot where she could perch upon her father's knee and
talk, talk, talk!

Had any of the trio thought about it for a moment they would have
observed Miss Greatorex lingering close to the plank and staring at
everyone who crossed it, searching for Dorothy.

"Strange! She certainly was right here a minute ago! I thought she had
gone off the boat ahead of me, but she couldn't have done so, for she's
nowhere in sight;" she murmured to herself.

When all had crossed and still Dorothy did not appear, the anxious
teacher returned to the boat and renewed her search there: asking of all
the employees she met if they had seen her missing charge. But one of
them had noticed the girl at all; that was a workman who had helped to
drag the gang-plank into place upon the wharf and against whom Dorothy
had rudely dashed in her pursuit of the "shiny man."

He remembered her excited manner, her swift apology to himself for the
accident, and her frantic rush across the wharf. He had looked after her
with curiosity and had remarked to a bystander:

"That little passenger is afraid she'll get left! Maybe she doesn't know
we lie alongside this dock till mid-afternoon."

Then he had gone about his own affairs and dismissed her from his mind
till, thus recalled by Miss Greatorex's question, he wished he had
watched her more closely. He was afraid she might have been hurt among
the heavy wagons moving about, and that was the poor comfort which he
expressed to the now thoroughly frightened lady.

Meanwhile the Breckenridge party had crossed the street, under
conveyance of a waiting policeman, and had paused upon the further curb
while Molly explained:

"Miss Greatorex is dreadful slow, Papa dear. But she'll be here in a
minute. She's sure to be and Dolly with her. Oh! she is the very
sweetest, dearest, bravest girl I ever knew! If I had a sister I should
want her to be exactly like Dorothy. I wonder what does keep them! And
I'm so hungry, so terribly hungry and we lost our purses--couldn't be
she'd linger to search for them again when we've already ransacked the
whole boat! Why, Papa, look! Miss Greatorex is on the boat again,
herself. Running, fairly running around the deck and acting as if she,
too, had lost something. How queer that is!"

Both the gentleman and lady now fixed their attention upon the teacher,
until that moment unknown to them. She certainly was conducting herself
in a strange, half-bewildered manner and the Judge realized that there
was something wrong. Bidding his sister and child:

"Stay right here on this corner. Don't leave it. I'll step back to the
steamer and see what's amiss;" and to the hackman he had summoned, he
added: "Keep your rig right on the spot and an eye upon these fares!
I'll be back in a minute."

[Illustration: "ARE YOU A POLICEMAN?"
_Dorothy's Travels._]

But he wasn't. When he did come, after Mrs. Hungerford and Molly had
had ample time to grow anxious themselves, it was with a woe-begone Miss
Greatorex upon his arm and a very disturbed expression on his own face.

"Why, Papa, where's Dolly? Why didn't she come, too?" cried Molly,
darting to meet him.

"That, my dear, is exactly what this lady and I would like to know. I
was in hopes she might have seen you standing here and crossed to join
you. Well, she's been in too great haste, likely, and started by herself
to go--I wonder where! Anyway, the best thing to be done is for you
three to get into this carriage and drive to the Astor House and order
dinner for all of us. It's an old-time hotel where my father and I used
to go when I was a boy myself, and I patronized it for old association's
sake. You, small daughter, had fixed your mind on nothing less than the
Waldorf-Astoria, I expect! Never mind; you'll get as good food in one
place as the other."

"But, Papa, aren't you coming with us?"

"Not just yet. I'll stop behind a bit and set a few policemen or small
boys in search for Miss Dorothy. Tell me something by which we can
recognize her when found. New York is pretty full of little girls, you
know, and I might miss her among so many."

The Judge tried to make his tone a careless one but there was real
anxiety in it as his sister promptly understood; but she also felt it
best to treat the matter lightly, for already poor Miss Isobel was on
the point of collapse. So she answered readily enough:

"Very well, brother, so we'll do. I reckon I know your tastes so that I
can cater for you and--is there any limit to what we may order? I'm a
bit hungry myself and always do crave the most expensive dishes on the
menu. Good-by, for a little while."

The Judge bade the driver: "To the Astor House;" lifted his hat to those
within the carriage, and it moved away.

Then he summoned a policeman and asked that scouts be sent out all
through that neighborhood, to search for a "thirteen-year-old girl, in a
brown linen dress, dark curly hair, brown eyes, and--'Oh! just too
stylish for words!'" which was the description his daughter had given
him. Indeed, he felt that this very "stylishness" might be a clue to the
right person; since denizens of that locality, girls or women, are not
apt to have that characteristic about them.

He was a weary man. He had been up late the night before, and previous
to his journey hither had been extremely busy leaving matters right in
his southern home for a prolonged absence. He had counted upon the hour
or two before sailing in which to procure some additions to his
sportsman's outfit, and sorely begrudged this unexpected demand upon his
time. Yet he could do no less than try to find the runaway, and to make
the search as thorough as if it had been his own child's case.

It was more than an hour later that he appeared in the dining-room of
the hotel where his family awaited him. They had still delayed their own
dinner, though Molly's hunger had almost compelled her to enjoy hers.
Only the thought of "eating with Papa," had restrained her, because she
had little fear that Dorothy would not be promptly found, or that she
had done more than go a few blocks out of the way. She had often been in
that city before, though only in its better parts, and it all seemed
simple enough to her. It had been explained that the upper part was laid
out in squares, with the avenues running north and south, the
cross-streets easily told by their numbers. How then could anybody who
could count be lost?

"No news, Schuyler?" asked Aunt Lucretia.

"Not yet. Not quite yet. But there will be, of course there will be.
I've set a lot of people hunting that extremely 'stylish' young maiden,
so I thought I'd best come down and get my dinner and let you know that
all's being done that can be. Don't worry, Miss Greatorex. A capable
girl like Dorothy isn't easy to lose in a city full of policemen, if
she'll only use her tongue and ask for guidance. Probably she has gone
back to the 'Powell' already, hoping to find us all there. Before I eat
I'll telephone again and inquire, although I did so just a little while
ago, as I came in."

The more he talked the less he convinced his listeners that it would be
that "all right" he had so valiantly asserted. Even Molly's hunger
suddenly deserted her and she pushed away a plate of especially
enticing dessert with a shake of her head and an exclamation:

"Papa's talking--just talking! Like he always does when he takes me to
the dentist's! His voice doesn't ring true, Auntie Lu, and you know it.
You needn't smile and try to look happy, for you can't. Dorothy is lost!
My precious Dolly Doodles is lost--is LOST!"

For a moment nobody answered. Miss Greatorex echoed the exclamation in
her own sinking heart, realizing at last how fully she had depended upon
the Judge's ability to find the girl, until he had once more appeared
without her. He had promptly sent a messenger to telephone again and
awaiting the reply made a feint of taking his soup. Mrs. Hungerford kept
her eyes fixed upon her plate, not daring just then to lift them to Miss
Greatorex's white face; and altogether it was a very anxious party which
sat at table then instead of the merry one which all had anticipated.

When their pretence of a meal was over and they rose, the Judge looked
at his watch. Then he said:

"We have only time left to reach the 'Prince' in comfort. It is a long
way up and across town to the dock on East river. You three must start
for it at once. I'll step into a store near by for a few things I need
and follow you. Of course, Dorothy knew all about her trip, the steamer
she would sail by, and its landing place. Even if she didn't know that
most of the officers would know and direct her.

"I now think that having missed us at the 'Powell' she has gone straight
to the other boat and you will find her there. I'll follow you in time
for sailing and till then, good-by. A hack is ready for you at the
door."

Then he went hastily out, and Mrs. Hungerford said:

"Brother is wise. We certainly shan't find Dolly here, and we may at the
'Prince.' Have you all your parcels, both of you? Then come."

They followed her meekly enough but at the street entrance Miss
Greatorex rebelled. Her anxiety gave a more than ordinary irritation to
her temper and harshness to her voice, and her habitually ungracious
manner became more repellent than ever as she announced:

"That's all very well, Mrs. Hungerford, and Molly. But I shan't go one
step toward Nova Scotia till I've found my little girl. You three are
all right, _you've got yourselves_ and of course other people don't
matter. But Dorothy saved my life and I'll not desert her to nobody
knows what dreadful fate! No, I will not, and you needn't say another
single word!"

As nobody had interrupted her excited speech this last admonition seemed
rather uncalled for, but Molly waxed indignant thereat, though her Aunt
Lucretia merely smiled compassionately. Then as they still stood upon
the sidewalk, hesitating to enter their carriage, Miss Isobel waved her
umbrella wildly toward another hack, and when it had obeyed her summons
sprang into it and was whirled away.

Where was Dorothy all this time? Little she knew of the commotion she
had caused. Indeed, for a long time, her only thought was for herself
and her unfortunate predicament. She had never been so frightened in her
life. Nothing had ever looked so big, so dismal, and so altogether
hopeless as this wretched side street where her fugitive had
disappeared. There was not a policeman in sight. She didn't know which
way to go, but promptly realized that she should not stay just there in
that degraded neighborhood. Even the wider street from which she had
diverged, with its endless lines of wagons and people, was better.
But--she must go somewhere!

She set out forward, resolutely, and as it proved eastward toward that
famous Broadway which threads the city from its north to south, but that
was yet many blocks removed. Indeed, it seemed an endless way that
stretched beyond her; and it was not until she had run for some distance
that her common sense awoke with the thought:

"Why, how silly I am! I must go back to the boat. That's where I'll be
missed and looked for. Of course, Miss Greatorex wouldn't go on and
leave me, and oh! dear! I reckon I've made her wait till she'll be
angry. I'll ask the first nice looking gentleman I see, if no policeman
comes, the way to the 'Mary Powell.' Here comes one now--"

A busy man came speeding toward her, whose coat skirt she tried to
clutch; but he didn't even hear the question she put. He merely waved
her aside, as he would any other street beggar with the passing remark:
"Nothing. Get away!"

The second person to whom she applied was German and shook his head with
a forcible negative. So he, too, moved on and she stopped to think and
recover some portion of that courage which had almost deserted her.

"Of course. I couldn't be really lost, not really truly so, right in the
broad daylight and a city full of people. But I am ashamed to have
stayed so long. Oh! good! There comes a man in uniform--a policeman, a
policeman!"

Quite at rest now she darted forward and caught at the hand of the
uniformed person who stared at her in surprise but not unkindly.

"Well, little maid, what's wanted?"

"O, sir! Are you a policeman? Will you take me to where I belong?"

"Sorry to say 'no' to both your questions, but I'm only a railway
conductor, in a hurry to catch my outgoing train. Wait a minute, child,
and a real police officer will come and will look out for you."

The blue-coated, much brass-buttoned man snatched his hand from her
clinging grasp and strode westward in desperate haste. He had calculated
his time to the last second and even this trifling delay annoyed him.

But he had prophesied aright. A policeman was coming into view,
leisurely sauntering over his beat, and on the lookout for anything
amiss. Dorothy hurried forward, planted herself firmly in this man's
path and demanded again:

"Are you a policeman?"

"Sure an' 'tis that same that I be! Thanks for all mercies! Me first day
alone at the job, an' what can I do for ye, me pretty colleen?"

"Tell me, or take me, back to the 'Mary Powell,' please. I--I've lost my
way."

"Arrah musha! An' if I was after doin' that same I'd be losin' mine! The
'Mary Powell' is it? Tell me where does she be livin' at. I'm not long
in this counthry and but new app'inted to the foruss. Faith it's a
biggish sort of town to be huntin' one lone woman in."

To anybody older or wiser than Dorothy Chester the very fact of his
loquacity would have betrayed his newness to the "foruss." There wasn't
a prouder nor happier man in the whole great city, that day, than Larry
McCarthy, as he proceeded to explain:

"First cousin on me mother's side to Alderman Bryan McCarthy, as has
helped me over from Connemara, this late whiles, and has made me a
free-born Amerikin citizen, glory be."

"That must be very nice. I suppose an alderman is some sort of a very
high-up man, isn't he? But--"

"High is it, says she. Higher 'an I was when I was carryin' me hod up
wan thim 'sky-scrapers' they do build in this forsaken--I mane
blessed--counthry, says he. Sure it's a higher-up Bryan is, the foine
lad."

"Please, please, will you take me to the 'Mary Powell'?"

"How can I since ye've not told me yet wherever she lives?"

"Why she isn't a--she! She's a boat!"

"Hear til the lass! She isn't a she isn't she? Then she must be a he,
and that'd beat a priest to explain;" and at his own joke the
newly-fledged officer indulged in a most unofficial burst of laughter.
So long and so loud was this that Dorothy stamped her foot impatiently
and another uniformed member of "the force," passing by on the other
side of the street, crossed over to investigate.

At whose arrival officer Larry straightened himself like a ramrod,
squared his shoulders, and affected to be intensely angry with the small
person who had delayed him upon his beat. But he could not deceive the
keen eyes of the more experienced policeman and his superior in rank.

With a swift recognition of the newcomer's greater intelligence, Dorothy
put her inquiry to him, breathlessly stating her whole case, including
the loss of her purse and her regret over it.

"'Cause now, you see, sir, I haven't any money to pay for being taken
back. Else I would have called a carriage, like people do sometimes, and
got the carriage man to take me. That is, _if_ there was any carriage,
and any man, and I--I had any money. Oh! dear! That isn't what I wanted
to say, but I'm so tired running and--and--it's dreadful to be lost in
a New York city!"

Her explanation ended in a miserable breakdown of sobs and tears. Now
that help had come--she was sure of it after one glance into this second
officer's honest face--her courage collapsed entirely. The sergeant
allowed her a moment to compose herself and then said, as he took out a
notebook and prepared to write in it:

"Now, once more. Tell me exactly, or listen if I have the facts right.
You are a pupil at the Rhinelander Academy in Newburgh. You are starting
upon a trip for your summer vacation. You are under the care of Miss
Greatorex, a teacher. You ran away from the steamer 'Mary Powell' in
pursuit of a man whom you think carried off your own and a friend's
purse. Very well. I will send you to the boat and if your story is true
you will be restored to your friends and nothing more will come of it.
If it isn't true, you will be sent to a station-house to await
developments. McCarthy, proceed upon your beat."

Larry shrugged his shoulders more snugly into his new uniform, assumed
the bearing of a drum major and duly proceeded. The superior officer put
a whistle to his lips, and like the genii in Arabian Nights, his servant
instantly appeared.

"Call a cab. Take this young person to the 'Mary Powell,' foot of
Desbrosses street. If her guardian is not there, drive to the other
landing at Twenty-third street and inquire if the girl has been sought
for there. If this is a false story, report to me at the station and, of
course, bring the girl with you."

The words "station house" sounded ominous in Dorothy's ears. During her
Baltimore life she had learned all that was necessary about such places
to infect her with fear, having with other children sometimes watched
the "police patrol wagons" make their dreary rounds. She had peered at
the unhappy prisoners sitting within the van and had pitied them
unspeakably, despite the fact that they must have been wicked. A picture
of herself thus seated and despairing flashed before her mind, but she
put it resolutely aside and with great humility stepped into the cab
which her new protector had summoned.

This was one of those then new electric cabs and instantly riveted her
attention. To move through the streets so swiftly without visible means
of locomotion was as delightful as novel; and the skill with which the
driver perched up behind twisted around corners and among crowding
vehicles seemed fairly wonderful.

It was a most charming ride, despite the fact that she was a lost person
seeking her friends, and it came all too soon to an end at the dock she
had named. She recognized the place at once and was out of the cab,
hurrying along the wharf, calling back to her guide:

"Here she is! This is the 'Mary Powell!' See?"

He was promptly at her side again, his duty being not to lose sight of
her until that "report" had been duly made when and where ordered. Also,
the recognition of her by "Fanny" and the other boat hands proved that
thus much of her tale was true. She had come down the river on that
steamer's last trip and people had been back upon it, frantically
seeking news of her.

"You oughtn't to have run away like that, little girl, and scare them
people into forty fits. That nice Judge--somebody, he said his name
was--he hired no end of people to go searching for you and now you've
come and he hasn't. Like enough they've gone to the other landing,
up-town, to seek you. Better drive there, policeman, and see."

"All right. But, stewardess, if anybody comes again to inquire, say that
she'll be taken to the 'Prince' steamship, East river, and be held there
till the boat sails. Afterward at station number --."

There is no need to follow all of Dorothy's seeking of her friends.
Already, as has been told, they had made a fruitless search for her; and
when at length fully convinced that she was telling a "straight case"
the official who had her in charge, failing to find Miss Greatorex at
that "up-town landing"--though a dock-hand said that she had been there
and again hurried away "as if she was a crazy piece"--the cab was turned
toward that east-side dock whence the voyage to Nova Scotia was to be
made.

Here everything was verified. Dorothy's luggage marked with her name
was in the baggage-room, having been sent down the day before in order
to prevent mischance. With it was the luggage of Molly Breckenridge and
Miss Greatorex. Also upon the steamer's sailing list was her name and
the stateroom to which she had been assigned. To this point then must
all the rest of the party come if they were to sail by that vessel.
Obviously, it was the safest place for her to await her friends, and she
was promptly permitted to go aboard and watch for them.

She had expected to see a much larger craft than the "Prince." Why, it
wasn't half as large, it seemed to her, as some of the boats which
passed up and down the Hudson. It had but one deck, high up, so that to
reach it she had to climb a ladder, or gang-plank almost as steep as a
roof. But she climbed it with a feeling of infinite relief and security.
Sitting close to the rail upon one of the many steamer chairs she found
there, herself almost the only passenger who had yet come aboard, she
leaned her weary head against the rail, and, despite the hunger which
tormented her, fell fast asleep. She knew nothing more; heard none of
the busy sounds of loading the luggage, now constantly arriving, and was
peacefully dreaming, when a girlish voice from the dock pierced through
the babel and the dream:

"Why, Papa Breckenridge! There she sits--asleep! _That runaway!_
Dorothy--Dorothy! how came you here? How dared you scare us so?"

She sprang to her feet and looked down, answering with a rapturous cry.
There they were, Molly, Auntie Lu and the Judge! But--and now she rubbed
her eyes the better to see if they deceived her--where was Isobel
Greatorex.

Alas! That was the question the others were all asking:

"Where is Miss Greatorex? Only two minutes to sailing--but where is Miss
Greatorex?"



CHAPTER IV

ON BOARD THE "PRINCE"


There wasn't an instant to waste in questions. The captain of this
steamship prided himself upon his exceeding punctuality, and had often
declared that if he delayed for one passenger one day he would have to
do so the next; that somebody was always late; that it might be that
delinquent's misfortune if he were left but was not Captain Murray's
fault.

Knowing this fact Judge Breckenridge handed his sister her ticket and
Molly's, hastily bade her:

"Go aboard, Lucretia, while I claim our luggage. Miss Greatorex may
already be there."

"Step lively, please!" requested a sailor in a blue uniform as the lady
began to slowly mount the almost upright ladder. Other sailors were
speeding up and down it, between the ascending passengers and an air of
great bustle and haste pervaded the whole scene.

Then the blue-coat gallantly put his hand under Mrs. Hungerford's arm
and fairly shoved her up the plank. Molly sprang lightly after, caught
her foot in one of the little cross-pieces nailed across the plank to
prevent people slipping and sprawled her length, hindering everybody a
deal more than if she had climbed more slowly.

However, they gained the deck and Dorothy's side in safety, and took
their stand against the rail to watch the Judge and many another
passenger hurriedly identifying their baggage ranged under the wharf
shed; and, as each piece was claimed, to see it swiftly tossed upon a
skid and rolled into the lower part of the ship.

Captain Murray stood at the foot of the ladder, chronometer in hand, a
picture of calm decision; while another uniformed official faced him
from the other side the plank, to scan the tickets presented. Judge
Breckenridge finished his task and also climbed to the deck, while a
sigh of relief escaped Aunt Lucretia's lips.

"That's all right! I got so worried lest we should miss the steamer and
there isn't another sailing for three days. I'm so glad to get our
things! I never do feel comfortable until I see my trunks aboard my
train or steamer."

"Yes, indeed! A woman bereft of her 'things' is a forlorn creature!"
laughed the Judge, in gentle sarcasm, but his sister disdained reply.
She merely reflected how much greater annoyance her brother would have
felt had his sporting outfit been delayed and this was the very first
piece of luggage he had identified--her trunk the last. However, there
was the utmost good nature in their jesting intercourse, and both now
turned their attention to the wharf where the "very last" passenger was
hurrying to the ladder.

After him ascended the two officers, and the boat and dock hands seized
the ropes to haul the plank aboard. The whistle was blowing, wheels were
turning, passengers crowded the rails to wave farewells to friends
ashore who had come to see them off, and at this very last second a cab
came dashing furiously down the street and up to the steamer's side.

A woman leaped out, and rushed to the spot where the ship had been
moored. She was almost past speaking from haste and excitement as she
scanned the groups upon the deck, then with a look of satisfaction at
sight of the Judge's party, clasped her hands imploringly toward the
captain and the mate.

"Don't leave her, Captain Murray! I know her--she belongs to us--it
isn't her fault--throw the ladder out again, even if--" shouted the
Judge.

There was no withstanding the sight of so many clasped, entreating
hands, even by such a rigid disciplinarian as this fine skipper. For not
only Miss Greatorex upon the wharf, but the two girls and Mrs.
Hungerford had clasped theirs, also, begging a brief delay.

Then the officer waved his hand, down went the plank again, and a couple
of sailors sprang forward to the teacher's assistance. They had fairly
to drag her up the now slippery incline, and almost to toss her upon
the deck, where the Judge's arm shot out for her support and the captain
himself helped her to a chair.

Another instant they had put a stretch of water between them and the
land, and a fresh uproar of whistles and bells announced that the
steamer "Prince" had sailed.

But those near her had thought now only for Miss Greatorex. Her face was
at first intensely red and she leaned back in her chair, with closed
eyes and gasping breath. Indeed, so difficult her breathing that it
seemed as if after each respiration she would never breathe again. Mrs.
Hungerford made haste to hold a smelling bottle to the sufferer's
nostrils, but it was feebly waved aside as if it hindered rather than
helped.

Then the color faded from the crimson face and all that terrible gasping
ceased, so that those watching thought for a moment that life itself had
ended.

"Fainted!" said the captain, tersely. "Get her to bed. Number Eight,
take her ticket to the purser, get her stateroom key, and send the
stewardess. Prompt, now."

Fortunately, the room engaged for Miss Greatorex and Dorothy was on that
deck and very near; and thither the dignified lady was quickly conveyed,
very much as a sack of corn might have been. But as for Dorothy's
thoughts during this brief transit there is nothing comforting to say.

"Oh, I've killed her, I've killed her! If I hadn't been so careless and
left the purses, and if I hadn't chased that 'shiny man' and made all
this trouble, she wouldn't have--I can't bear it. What shall I do!" she
wailed to Molly, as they followed hand in hand, where Miss Greatorex was
carried.

"You can stop saying 'if' and worrying so. You didn't do anything on
purpose and she's to blame herself. If she hadn't gone off mad from the
hotel and left Auntie and me, maybe she wouldn't have run too hard and
hurt herself. If--if--if! It isn't a very happy beginning of a vacation
is it? Even though we have got Papa and Auntie Lu and everything. And I
don't know yet what you did after you ran away from the boat. We can't
do a thing here to help. Let's go to Papa, there and you tell us the
whole story. He took a lot of trouble to find you and paid a lot of
money to men to seek you, and he looks awful tired and--and disgusted. I
guess he wishes he'd just brought Auntie and me and not bothered himself
with you and Miss Greatorex. And that's my fault, too. If I hadn't asked
him to do it he would never have thought of it. Seems if things never do
go just as you plan them, do they?"

Under other circumstances Dorothy might have replied to her friend's
unflattering frankness by some reproaches of her own, but not now. She
realized the truth but was too humble to resent it. So she merely
glanced once more through the door of the little stateroom at Miss
Greatorex stretched upon the bed and Mrs. Hungerford with the stewardess
attending her, and followed Molly.

The Judge met them with an encouraging smile and the command:

"Shorten up your countenances, little maids! This is a holiday, did you
know? Folks don't go holiday-ing with faces as long as your arm. Here,
cuddle down beside me and watch the sights. Tell me too, Miss Dorothy,
all that befell you after you disappeared. I'm as curious as Molly is,
and she's 'just suffering' to know. Don't worry about Miss Greatorex,
either. She's simply over-exerted herself and allowed herself to get too
anxious about this one small girl. The idea! What's one small girl more
or less, when the world's chock full of them?"

But the affectionate squeeze he gave to the "girl's" shoulders as she
sat down beside him, while Molly sat herself upon his knee, told her
that he had already forgiven any annoyance she had caused him. He was
too warm hearted to hold a grudge against anybody; least of all against
as penitent a child as Dorothy.

She related her adventures and the Judge laughed heartily over her
mimicry of Larry McCarthy, the "new policeman." Nor did he make any
criticisms when the story was ended. She had been sufficiently punished,
he considered, for any lapses from prudence and the lessons her
experience had taught would be far more valuable than any word of his.
So he merely called their attention to the scenery before them.

"This beautiful, green spot that we are passing is Blackwell's Island,
where the city's criminals and other unfortunates are sent. Doesn't seem
as if wicked people could be hidden behind those walls, does it? Well
keep out of mischief and don't go there!

"Soon we'll be going up Long Island Sound, and you'll get a glimpse of
some handsome homes. Hello! What's this? My little bugler, as I live!
Good day to you, Melvin; and what is this present 'toot' for, if you
please?"

A fair-faced boy came rather shyly forward and accepted the hearty hand
grasp which the Judge extended, but he seemed to shrink from the keen
observation of the two girls; though a flush of pleasure dyed his smooth
cheeks, which were as pink-and-white as blond Molly's own.

"My respects, Judge Breckenridge, and glad to see you aboard again, sir.
To get your table seats, sir, if you'll remember."

"Thank you, lad, and good enough! Come on, lassies, let's go down and
scramble for best places and first table, when eating time comes."

All over the deck people were beginning to rise and make their way
toward a further door, from which a flight of stairs descended to the
dining-room, and these three followed the crowd. The very mention of
"eating" had brought back to Dorothy a sensation of terrible hunger. She
had eaten nothing since her breakfast at the Academy, and her sail had
sharpened her appetite beyond ordinary. During her late experiences in
the city and her terror concerning Miss Greatorex she had forgotten
this matter, but now it came back with a positive pang. Suddenly Molly,
too, remembered the fact and exclaimed:

"Why, you poor girlie! Talk about eating--you can't have had a bit of
dinner! Papa, Dorothy hasn't had her dinner this livelong day!"

Her tone was so tragic that people behind her smiled, as her abrupt
pause upon the stairs arrested their own progress, and she was promptly
urged forward again by her father's hand.

"Heigho! That's a calamity--nothing less! But one that can be conquered,
let us hope. Now, fall into line close behind me and watch this
interesting proceeding."

From the earnestness depicted upon the countenances of the passengers,
this securing of good seats at the first table, in a room which would
not allow the serving of all at one time, was a vital matter. The purser
stood at the entrance of the saloon and assigned a seat to each person
upon the examination of a ticket presented. His office was not a
pleasant one. There were the usual grumblers and malcontents, but he
preserved his good nature amid all the fault-finding and selfishness;
and the Judge had the good fortune to secure five places at the
Captain's table, which was significant of "first call to meals."

This accomplished he led his charges out of line, carefully deposited
his "meal tickets" in an innermost pocket, and crossed an ante-room to
where there were plates of ship's biscuits and slices of cheese.

"Take all you want, all you can eat, both of you youngsters. Sorry to
say no regular meal will be served, not even for Dorothy's benefit, till
the six o'clock dinner. Unless she choses to get seasick; when she would
have tea and toast sent to her and wouldn't be able to touch it! Enough?
Take plenty. There's no stinting on Captain Murray's good ship though a
lot of cast-iron rules that one must never break. Hark! There's Melvin's
toot again! There must be a great crowd on board, if all haven't come to
get their seats here yet. Now we'll interview our women folk and see how
they're faring."

Munching their crackers and cheese the girls hurried to "Number
Thirteen," the only stateroom on the promenade deck which Miss
Rhinelander had been able to secure for her cousin Isobel and Dorothy;
and though she had held her peace concerning it Miss Greatorex had
inwardly revolted against this "unlucky" number.

But it was in fact among the very best on that small steamship. It's
door opening directly upon the deck so that after retiring one could lie
and watch the stars and breathe the pure air of the sea. Also, her short
sojourn in it was to do her much good physically. Even now, when Molly
and Dorothy peeped in they saw her sitting upright, drinking a cup of
tea and chatting with the stewardess as calmly as usual.

At sight of Dorothy, however, she promptly dismissed the attendant and
bade the girl enter and explain everything that had happened after her
disappearance from the "Mary Powell."

Molly made a grimace, and Dolly sighed. Repetition of unpleasant things
made them doubly disagreeable, and she now longed to enter into the
Judge's spirit and feel that this was happy holiday. She cut the tale as
short as she could; listened meekly to Miss Isobel's reproofs; waited
upon that fidgetty person with admirable patience; and with equal
patience received all the many instructions as to "suitable conduct"
during their whole journey. When the final word had been said, and she
had been told that no other "allowance" could be hers until "advices"
had been received from Miss Rhinelander, and that she must report every
cent expended, she ventured to cut the "lecture" also short, by kneeling
in the little aisle between their berths and kissing her guardian's hand
with the petition:

"Please forgive me, dear Miss Greatorex, for all the worry I gave you. I
will be good. I will be 'prudent,' I will remember--everything--if only
you'll say you'll love me just the same again!"

Miss Isobel was touched. In her heart she was very fond of Dorothy and
grateful to her, on account of her bravery that night of the fire. But
she felt it beneath her dignity to show this fondness openly, and
answered more coldly than she felt:

"Certainly, it would be unworthy in me to harbor ill will against
anybody. But I trust you will give me no further annoyance. Rise,
please; and there is Molly. Thank you, Miss Breckenridge, I am much
better. It was but a momentary weakness to which I yielded. Please make
my regards to your father for his courteous messages of regret. Yes,
Dorothy, you may go with your friend for a walk on the deck. I will join
you very soon."

"Hope she won't, mean old thing!" grumbled Molly, under her breath.
"She's one of the plans that didn't go right. Instead of darling Miss
Penelope with her sweet mother-ways to have the 'Grater' forced on us
this way is too bad. I know Papa and Auntie Lu aren't pleased with her
either, though they're too polite to say so."

"O, Molly, don't! I was bad, I can't deny it and I deserve to have her
stiff and cross with me. I don't believe she's half so vexed as she
seems but she doesn't think it's 'proper' to let me know how thankful
she is I wasn't really lost. Folks can't help being themselves, anyway;
else I'd be a perfectly angelic sort of a girl, and be it quick! Hark!
Those bells!"

"Yes, honey, let me tell you! Papa just told me. That's four o'clock,
'eight bells.' In half an hour it'll strike once. At five will strike
twice. Every half hour one more stroke till at the end of four hours
it'll be eight bells again. That's the beginning and the end of a
'watch.' A 'watch' is four hours long and the sailors change off then,
one lot comes from 'duty' and another lot 'stand' theirs. Isn't it odd
and interesting? Oh! I think being on shipboard is just too lovely for
words! And aren't we going to have a glorious time after all?"

"Oh! Molly, I hope so. Course I think it's splendidly interesting, too,
if I could get over feeling so ashamed of myself and my foolishness. I
don't like to go near your father for he must think I have been horrid.
I don't know how I can ever pay him back the money he spent hiring folks
to hunt for me, and the trouble I gave him--oh! dear! Why didn't I let
that old 'shiny man' go and not try to follow him!"

"Give it up Dolly Doodles. Reckon you happened to value that five
dollars more than you did us, just about then. And you might as well
have 'let him go' since he went anyhow and our precious purses with him.
Now, honey, you quit. Don't you say another single word of what _has_
happened but let's just think of all the nice things that _are going_ to
happen. Ah! Hold up your head, put on all your 'style,' make yourself as
pretty as you can, for here comes that adorable young bugler and he's
perfectly enchanting! Oh! I do so love boys! Don't you?"

"Molly Breckenridge, stop making me giggle. He'll think we're laughing
at him and I don't like to hurt anybody's feelings."

"My dear innocent! You couldn't hurt his. Why, Papa says that all the
passengers try to make a pet of that sweet youth, so he knows he's all
right no matter who laughs. The trouble is he'll never speak to anybody
if he can help it and unless it happens to be his duty. Sailors are
great for 'duty,' you know. But did you ever see such funny clothes?"

The girls continued their walk around the deck, the bugler passed them
by, unseeing--apparently; and quoth mischievous Molly:

"I'm going to get acquainted with that Melvin before we leave this ship,
see if I don't! I believe he has a lot of fun in him, if he wasn't
afraid of his 'duty.' Papa said he was the only son of his mother and
their home is at Yarmouth. Papa met her last summer when he stopped
there for a few weeks' fishing. I'll make him understand I'm my father's
daughter; you see!"

"Molly Breckenridge, you'll do nothing to disgrace that father,
understand me too. Here comes 'Number Eight.' Isn't he funny?"

To their unaccustomed eyes the sailor's clothing did look odd. The Judge
had explained to Molly that these "numbered" officials were recognized
by their numbers only. That they acted in various capacities; as
table-waiters, and especially as "chamber maids." Each "number" had his
own section of staterooms to attend, each one his especial table to
serve in the dining saloon.

In a natural reaction from their anxiety of the earlier day the spirits
of both girls had risen proportionately. They were ready to see humor in
everything and poor Number Eight came in for his share of absurd
comment, when he had passed out of hearing.

"He's such a big, red-faced, red-haired man, and his jacket is so
little. Looks as if his arms and shoulders had just been squeezed into
it by some machine. Did you notice his monstrous trousers? Enough in
them to piece out the jacket, I should think, and never be missed. All
these Numbers are dressed alike; little bit o' coaties, divided skirts
for panties, and such dudish little caps! Who wouldn't be a sailor on
the bright blue sea, if he could wear clothes cut that fashion? 'A life
on the ocean wave,'" she quoted. "'A home on the rolling deep--'"

"'Where the scattered waters rave. And the winds their revels keep. The
wi-i-inds their r-r-r-ev-el-s-s k-e-e-e-ep!'" A rich voice had caught
the burden of Molly's song and finished it with an absurd flourish.

"Now, Papa!" cried the girl, facing suddenly about. So suddenly, indeed,
that she collided with an unseen somebody, slipped on the freshly washed
boards, and fell at her victim's feet. A bugle shot out from under his
arm and banged against the deck-rail; but before he recovered that
Melvin had stooped, said "Allow me!" and helped Molly up again. Then he
lifted his cap, picked up his bugle, and proceeded on his way without so
much as another word.

Molly stared after him, blushing and mortified, shaking her tiny fist
toward his blue-uniformed back, and remarking:

"Huh! Master Melvin! I'd just declared I'd get acquainted with you but I
didn't mean to do it in quite that way!"

Maybe, too, her chagrin would have been deeper could she have seen the
amused expression of the young bugler's face; and again she observed--to
Dorothy as she supposed:

"Anyhow, if you'd been a gentleman, a real gentleman-boy, you'd have
stopped to ask if I was hurt. Huh! you're terribly 'sot up' and
top-lofty, just because you wear a uniform and toot-ti-ti-toot on little
tin-horn kind of a thing that I could play myself, if I wanted to. Don't
you think so, Papa and Dolly? Wasn't it horrid of him to trip me up that
way and make me look so silly? Why don't you answer, one of you?"

She turned the better to see "why," and found herself gazing into the
stern countenance of Captain Murray. That strict gentleman had recently
been annoyed by the "skylarking" of girlish passengers who had tried
"flirting" with his "boys" and was bent upon preventing any further
annoyance of that sort.

"Your father has gone forward to meet your ailing friend and the little
girl is with him. I would advise you to join them."

That was all the reproof he administered, but it was sufficient to make
Molly Breckenridge flush scarlet again, and this time with anger against
the skipper. She hurried to "join" the others who had met Miss
Greatorex and exclaimed with great heat:

"I just detest that horrid stiff Captain! He looked--he believed I
tumbled against that precious bugler of his just on purpose! I wish I
need never see either one of them again or hear that wretched thing
toot!"

She could not then foresee how important a part in her own life that
"toot" was yet to play; nor was the laughter with which her outburst was
received very comforting.



CHAPTER V

MOONLIGHT AND MIST ON THE SEA


However and despite her declaration to the contrary it was a most
welcome "toot" which sounded along the deck and announced to the hungry
voyagers that dinner was served; and Molly was among the first to spring
up and hurry her father tableward.

"Seems as if I'd never had anything to eat in all my life!" she
exclaimed. "Come on, Dolly Doodles, _you_ must be actually famished."

"I am pretty hungry," admitted Dorothy; but mindful now of her recent
resolve to do everything as Miss Greatorex would have her, she waited
until that lady rose from her steamer chair, gathered her wraps about
her, and anxiously inquired of Mrs. Hungerford:

"Will it be safe to leave my rug behind? or should I carry it with me to
table?"

"Oh! leave it, by all means. There's none too much room below and I
never worry about my things. Lay it on your chair and that will prove to
anybody who comes along that your especial seat is 'reserved.' I'm
leaving mine, you see;" answered the more experienced traveler,
wondering if Miss Isobel's nervousness would not prove a most unpleasant
factor in their vacation fun. Also thinking that she had too readily
given consent to Molly's written plea: that Dorothy and a teacher should
be invited to join them on this trip.

Because there had been some question as to where the girl should pass
the long vacation. Deerhurst would not be open, even if Mrs. Calvert had
expressed any desire for a visit from Dorothy, which she had not. The
old gentlewoman was to spend that season at the White Sulphur Springs,
whither she had been in the habit of going during many years; and where
among other old aristocrats she queened it at their own exclusive hotel.

The mountain cottage would, of course, be in the hands of the Martin
family, and Mother Martha had not approved Dorothy's coming to Baltimore
and passing the heated term there with herself. Indeed, deep in the
little woman's heart was a resentment against the unknown benefactor who
was now supporting her adopted child and sending her to such an
expensive school. As she complained to the aged relative with whom she
now lived:

"I feel, Aunt Chloe, that I've been meanly treated. I've had all the
care of Dorothy through her growing up and having the measles, scarlet
fever, whooping cough, and all the other children's diseases. I've sewed
for her, and washed and ironed for her, and taught her all the useful
things she knows; yet now, just as she is big enough to be some company
and comfort--off she's snatched and I not even told by whom. I doubt if
John knows, either, though he won't say one way or other, except that
'it's all right and he knows it.' So I say I shan't worry; and I
wouldn't think it right, anyway, for her to come down south if only this
far after being north for so long."

Seth Winters had not come back to his beloved mountain, so that she
could not go to him; and the only thing that was left was to go to her
father at his Sanitorium or remain with Miss Rhinelander.

Neither of these plans was satisfactory. Father John did not want her to
pass her holidays in an atmosphere of illness; and Miss Rhinelander
craved freedom and rest for herself. There were still extensive repairs
to be made to the Academy and she wished to superintend them.

Finally, Molly Breckenridge had taken the matter in hand with the result
related; and with the one unlooked for feature, the presence of Miss
Greatorex where Miss Penelope had been desired.

However, here they all were at last; a few hours outward bound on their
short ocean trip and looking forward to the most enjoyable of summers in
lovely Nova Scotia. They were to make a complete tour of the Province,
then settle down in some quiet place near the fishing and hunting
grounds where the Judge would go into camp.

Molly was thankful that her table-seat was well removed from that of
Captain Murray at its head. But she soon found that she need not have
worried, and that the closer she could be to him--when he was off
duty--the better she would like it. This wasn't the austere officer in
command! who told such amusing tales of life at sea, who kept his guests
so interested and absorbed, and who so solicitously watched his waiters
lest anybody's wants should be unsupplied! No, indeed. He was simply a
most courteous host and delightful talker, and before that first meal
was over she had forgotten her dislike of him, and, after her impulsive
manner had "fallen in love" with him.

Then back to the deck, to watch the moon rise and to settle themselves
comfortably for a long and happy evening; and after awhile, begged
Molly:

"Now, Papa darling, if your dinner's 'settled,' please to sing. Remember
I haven't heard you do so in almost a year."

"Now, my love, you don't expect me to make an orchestra of myself, I
hope? I notice they haven't one aboard this little steamship. Nobody but
Melvin to make music for us. I must tell you girls about that lad. He--"

"Never mind _him_ now, Papa. He will keep. He can wait. But I do want
you to sing! Dorothy, go take that chair on Papa's other side; and here
comes Number Eight with more rugs. Wouldn't think it could be so cool,
almost cold, would you, after that dreadful heat back there in New York?
Now, sir, begin!" and the Judge's adoring "domestic tyrant" patted his
hand with great impatience.

"Very well, Miss Tease. Only it must be softly, so as not to disturb
other people who may not have as great fancy for my warbling as you
have."

Mrs. Hungerford leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes in great
content. Like his daughter she thought there was no sweeter singer
anywhere than her beloved brother; but the too-correct Miss Isobel drew
herself stiffly erect with an unspoken protest against this odd
proceeding. She was quite sure that it wasn't good form for anybody to
sing in such a public place and under such circumstances. Least of all a
Judge. A Judge of the Supreme Court! More than ever was she amazed when
he began with a college song: "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean," in which
Molly presently joined and, after a moment, Dorothy also.

But even her primness could not withstand the witchery of the
gentleman's superb tenor voice, with its high culture and feeling;
because even into that humdrum refrain he put a pathos and longing which
quite transformed it.

People sitting within hearing hitched their chairs nearer, but
softly--not to disturb the singers; who sang on quietly, unconsciously,
as if in their own private home. Drifting from one song to another, with
little pauses between and always beginning by a suggestive note from
Molly, the time passed unperceived.

Evidently, father and child had thus sung together during all their
lives; and long before her that "other Molly," her dead mother, of whom
his child was the very counterpart, had also joined her exquisite tones
to his. Into many melodies they passed, college songs left behind, and
deeper feelings stirred by the words they uttered; till finally
perceiving that his own mood was growing most un-holiday like, the Judge
suddenly burst forth with "John Brown's Body."

Then, indeed, did mirth and jollification begin. Far and near, all sorts
and conditions of voices caught up the old melody and added their quota
to the music; and when their leader began mischievously to alter the
refrain by dropping the last word, and shortening it each time by one
word less, delight was general and the fun waxed fast and furious.

The abrupt termination left many a singer in the lurch; and when the
last verse was sung and ended only with "John--," "John--," "John,"
there were still some who wandered on into "the grave" and had to join
in the laugh their want of observation had brought upon them.

By this time also Miss Isobel Greatorex had become quite resigned to a
proceeding which no other passenger had disapproved and which, she could
but confess, had added a charm to that never-to-be-forgotten evening.
Moonlight flooded the sea and the deck. The simplicity and
good-fellowship of Judge Breckenridge and his sister had brought all
these strangers into a harmony which bridged all distinctions of class
or interest and rendered that first night afloat a most happy one for
all.

Until--was the moonlight growing clouded? Did those six strokes of the
bell actually mean eleven o'clock? So late--and suddenly so--so--_so
queer_!

Even if the little concert had not already ended nobody could have sung
just then.

"I guess we've left the Sound and struck the ocean;" remarked one
gentleman, in a peculiar tone. "Good night all," and he disappeared.

A lady next Miss Greatorex made an effort to extricate herself from her
rugs and chair and observed:

"I've such a curious feeling. So--so dizzy. My head swims. Is--is there
a different--motion to the boat? Have you noticed?"

Yes, Miss Greatorex had noticed, but she couldn't reply just then. Nor
was this because of her "stiffness" toward a person who had not been
properly "introduced." It was simply that--that--dear, dear! She felt so
very queer herself. She would try and get to her stateroom. In any case
it was very late and everybody was moving.

A petulant cry from Molly expressed her own desires exactly.

"Papa, dear Papa! What makes the folks go wobbling around the way they
do? I wish they wouldn't! I wish they would--would keep
real--perfectly--still! I wish! Oh! dear!"

The Judge rose at once and, despite her size, caught up his daughter and
marched off with her toward Mrs. Hungerford's stateroom, whither that
experienced voyager had as suddenly preceded him. When he came back, a
few minutes later, he found that Miss Greatorex had vanished, and that
Dorothy sat alone on the deserted deck wondering what in the world was
the matter to make everybody rush off at once, or almost everybody.
Wondering whether she should follow, and if her guardian would return
and need her rugs again; yet placidly thinking over the delightful
evening she had spent and how strange it was for her, "just plain
Dorothy," to be having such a splendid trip in such charming company.

"Well, lassie, are you all right? Don't _you_ feel a 'little queer,'
too?"

"Yes, thank you, Judge Breckenridge. I'm right enough but I don't know
whether Miss Greatorex wants me to come to our room now or whether
she'll need her things again. She went away in a great hurry, seems if;
and so--so did 'most everybody else. Funny for them all to get sleepy
just in a minute so."

The old traveler laughed and patted Dorothy's shoulder.

"A 'fog swell' is what we've struck. That explains the darkness and the
hasty departure of our neighbors. Seasick, poor creatures! and no
suffering worse, while it lasts. Sure you aren't yourself, Dorothy?"

"No. I don't feel any different from ever, yet, Judge Breckenridge."

"Good enough. I'm mighty glad for you. Poor little Moll will be apt to
have a sorry time of it until we reach Yarmouth and land. By the way,
lassie, I observe that you've been well trained to give a person their
name and title when you speak to them. But we're on our holiday now, you
know, and mustn't work more than we can help. So, my dear, suppose you
call me Uncle Schuy, or simply Uncle, while we are together. 'Judge
Breckenridge' is considerable of a mouthful for a small maid who, I
hope, will have to address me a great many times. I shall find it
pleasant to be 'Uncled' for I greatly miss our boy, Tom."

He did not add, as he might, that some pity mingled in this desire.
Coming unobserved upon the little figure sitting alone in the
steamer-chair, amid a pile of rugs which almost hid her from sight,
deserted, and possibly also in the throes of illness, he had resolved to
make her time with him and his as happy as he could. He would have done
this under any circumstances; but Molly's fervid description of
Dorothy's orphanage and ignorance of her real parentage had touched him
profoundly.

Loving his own little daughter beyond all others in the world he loved
this deserted child for Molly's sake; and felt that he should promptly
love her for her own.

Sitting down again beside her he covered himself with rugs and begged
permission to smoke; remarking:

"It's a shame to keep you up longer but I fancy that your stateroom
wouldn't be very pleasant just now. It's next to my sister's, you know,
and I saw Number Eight coming out of it with considerable haste. Miss
Greatorex is probably ill, but should be better once she gets settled in
bed. Then you must go and also get to rest. Quite likely you'll be the
only little girl-companion I'll have for the rest of the trip. I was
afraid Molly would make a poor sailor, and she's proving me correct. My
sister, though, never suffers from seasickness and is a charming
traveling companion as you'll find."

He relapsed into silence and a great drowsiness began to overpower
Dorothy. Her day had been long and most eventful and the sea air was
strong. Presently, her head drooped against the back of her chair, the
Judge grew indistinct in her sight, and she fell asleep.

He considered then what was best to do; and presently decided that, if
she wasn't sent for, she might well and safely pass the night on deck as
he intended to do.

Indeed, so often had he voyaged on that ship that its employees had
learned his wishes without telling; and now there came to him one Number
Seven, his own room attendant, bringing a pillow and more rugs. He was
dispatched for another pillow and between them they gently lowered the
back of Dorothy's chair, placed a pillow under her unconscious head and
tucked her warmly in. Then he settled himself to rest and neither of
them knew distinctly anything more until the daylight came and the
sunshine struggled with the enwrapping fog.

She, indeed, had had vague dreams of what went on about her. Had heard
muffled bells and passing footsteps, but these had mingled only
pleasantly with her sense of rest and happiness; and it was a very
surprised young person who at last opened her eyes upon a gray expanse
of mist-covered ocean and a gray-haired man asleep on a chair beside
her.

Sitting up, she stared about her for a moment till she realized what had
happened; then smiled to think she had actually slept out of doors.
Afterward, she wondered with some anxiety if Miss Greatorex had sent for
her during the night, or if she were still too ill to care about anybody
save herself.

"Anyhow, I must go and see. My! how damp these rugs are and yet I am as
warm as can be. That's what dear Miss Penelope said she meant to
do--sleep on deck. But she didn't come and I've done it in her stead.
What a queer world it is and how things do get twisted round! Now I must
be still as still and not wake that dear Judge--'Uncle', who's so lovely
to me!"

With these thoughts she slipped softly out of her rugs and tiptoed away,
having some slight trouble to locate "Number Thirteen" stateroom; and,
having done so, discovered its door ajar, fastened against intrusion by
a chain.

She peeped through the opening. Miss Isobel lay with her eyes closed,
but whether asleep or not Dorothy couldn't decide. She was very pale and
perfectly motionless, and a too-suggestive tin basin was fastened to the
railing of her berth.

"Ugh! I can't go in there and wake her, if she's asleep; or to go any
way. I'll slip around to this other side the boat where there are such
heaps of chairs and nobody in them. My! It's cold and I haven't anything
to put over me here. Never mind, I'll stay. If I go back to where I was
I might wake Judge Breckenridge, and I shouldn't like to do that. I
don't wonder Molly called him a handsome man. He looked better than
handsome to me, sleeping there, he looked _noble_."

Thus reflecting she settled herself on a chair against the inner wall
and watched the men at work mopping the wet decks and putting the
steamer generally "ship-shape" against the day's voyage. It was a
forlorn outlook into the world of fog, through which the sound of the
bells rang strangely. Also, there was an almost continuous blowing of
whistles and a look of some anxiety on the faces of such of the crew as
passed by.

Finally, out of some far-off stairway, young bugler Melvin came tripping
and hurried along the deck in her direction. She fancied a look of
surprise in his eyes as he perceived her and that he would pass on
without further notice. Yet, just as he reached a point opposite her
chair, he flashed one glance toward her; and almost as quickly turned
about to retrace his steps. Shivering and rather miserable she watched
him idly, and now the surprise was her own.

He returned and still without speaking, yet with an almost painful flush
on his face, tossed two heavy rugs into her lap and instantly passed on.
She had no chance to thank him, but readily answered a laugh from a
deck-hand near by who had witnessed the little incident and enjoyed it.
The "Bashful Bugler" was Melvin's shipboard nickname and no lad ever
better deserved such. Yet he had been well "raised" and there was
something very appealing to the chivalry of any lad in the look of
Dorothy's just now sad eyes; though commonly their brown depths held
only sunshine.

The sweeper on the deck moved the chairs near her and even her own,
though without her leaving it, the better to clear off the moisture
which the fog had deposited. She had echoed his laugh and he remarked:

"Nice boy, 'Bashful' is; but no more fitted to go round 'mongst
strangers'n a picked chicken."

Both the sailor and Dorothy were glad to speak with anybody, and she
asked:

"Will this fog last long? Is it often so cold right in the summer time?"

"Cold enough to freeze the legs off an iron pot, slathers of times. This
is one of 'em! As for fogs lastin', I reckon, little Miss, there won't
be no more sunshine 'twixt here and Yarmouth harbor. If you're cold out
here though, and don't want to go to your room, you'll find things snug
down yonder in that music-room, or what you call it."

"Oh! is there a place? Under shelter? Will you show me?"

"Sure. If 'tis open yet. Sometimes it's shut overnight but likely not
now. I'll take them rugs for you, Sissy, if you like."

"Thank you. Thank you so much. How nice everybody is on a steamship! Is
it living all the time on the water makes you kind, I wonder?"

"Give it up!" answered this able seaman, not a little flattered by
Dorothy's appreciation of his service, and in Molly's own frequent
manner. With another smile at this memory, Dorothy followed as he walked
ahead, dragging his mop behind him and leaving a shining streak in his
wake.

They found the little saloon, music-room, writing-room, or "what you
call it," closed, but the door opened readily enough, and Dorothy was
delighted to creep within the warmth and comfort of the place. It was
dark inside but the man turned on the electric light, and, doffing his
cap, went out, shut the door behind him, and left her to her solitary
enjoyment.

"What a pretty room! How cozy and warm! I'm going to cuddle down in this
easy chair and take another nap. There's nobody stirring much and I
heard one man say to another that there were more folks sick this trip
than had been all summer. I wonder if poor Molly is yet! I'd go and see
only I don't want to disturb Mrs. Hungerford.

"Now, Dorothy girl, shut your eyes and don't open them again till
breakfast time. I am awfully disappointed. I'd counted upon watching the
sun rise over the ocean and was going to get up so early to do it: Huh!
I'm early enough, but the poor sun is taking a bath and can't be seen."

Artificial heat had been turned into the room which accounted for the
warmth she found so grateful. This, succeeding her shivering fit, made
her drowsy and she shut her eyes "just for forty winks." But a good many
times "forty" had passed before she opened them once more and found
herself still alone. She got up and looked about her, thinking that she
must go to "Number Thirteen" and bathe her face and hands, though not
much more than that could be accomplished in such limited quarters.
She'd go in just a minute. Meanwhile there was a piano. She'd like to
try it, though her lessons on that instrument had been but few.
However--

"Oh! joy! There's a violin case on the shelf yonder! I'm going to look
at it. If there's a violin inside--There is! I'd love, just love to try
that, far more than a jingling piano. I wonder would anybody hear me? I
don't believe so. It's so far away. I'm going to--I am!"

With a fiddle once more under her chin Dorothy forgot all but that happy
fact. Delicately and timidly at first, she drew her bow across the
strings, fearing an interruption; but when none came she gathered
boldness and played as she would have done in Herr von Peter's own
helpful presence.

How long she stood there, swaying to her own music, enwrapped in it and
no longer lonely, she didn't know; but after a time the minor chords of
her last and "loveliest lesson" were rudely broken in upon by other
strains which cut short her practicing and set her face toward the door.

There stood the "Bashful Bugler" tooting his "first call to breakfast"
directly toward her, and her response was a crash of discord from the
violin. The effect upon Melvin was to make him lower his bugle and flash
out of sight as if propelled by a hurricane.



CHAPTER VI

SAFE ON SHORE


The bad weather continued. So did the illness of Miss Greatorex and
Molly Breckenridge. Neither of them left their stateroom again till that
day and another night had passed and the "Prince" came to her mooring in
Yarmouth harbor.

Both Mrs. Hungerford and Dorothy spent much of their time with one or
other patient, yet were often alone together on deck or in the
music-room and became very well acquainted, indeed, during their hours
of loneliness. From the girl Auntie Lu drew many details of her short
life, and was especially interested when she found that Mrs. Betty
Calvert was a friend of them both; exclaiming:

"Why, my dear, I've known Mrs. Betty Calvert all my life! She was my
mother's dearest correspondent. They had been girls together, though
Mrs. Calvert was older than mother. Their homes were near each other in
Maryland; and--why, the Calverts, or Somersets, were as intimate as it
is possible for families to be with our folks--the Breckenridges! This
is most interesting. Most certainly interesting. I must tell my brother.
Schuyler is so loyal to all our old Marylanders; he thinks there are no
people like them anywhere, though for my part I find human nature's
pretty much the same all the world over."

"Yes, Mrs. Hungerford, I've heard Mrs. Calvert say that there was no
gentleman so fine as a southern one. Mr. Seth laughs at her and says
that's a 'hobby,' and she's 'mistaken.' He says 'gentlemen don't grow
any better on one soil than another,' but are 'indigenous to the whole
United States,' though Mr. Winters is a Marylander himself." Then she
naïvely added in explanation, and in a little vanity about her botanical
lore: "'Indigenous' means, maybe you don't know, a plant that belongs
to, is a native of, some particular region. Mr. Seth taught me and
Father John. They both know lots about botany, though father hasn't
lived in the country as long as our 'Learned Blacksmith,' who does know,
seems if, all there is worth knowing in this world. For a man, I mean."

Aunt Lucretia smiled and nodded, but in an absent sort of manner as if
she had scarcely heard what Dorothy had said. Then as the girl rose,
remarking: "I'll go now and sit a while with Molly if she's awake.
Funny! She says she feels all right as long as she lies down and so
horrid when she tries to get up and dress;" the lady's gaze followed her
little figure with a keenly critical interest. Also, she eagerly greeted
the Judge, who now came to her, with the ambiguous exclamation:

"Schuyler Breckenridge, the most marvellous thing! I've discovered--or I
believe I have--what that remarkable likeness is which has so perplexed
me. Blood always tells, always crops out!"

"Exactly. Especially in cases like this. Having nothing else to do
I've tried whittling--with this result. Tie it up, Lu, and explain
yourself--if you can," he answered, whimsically holding out a finger
he had cut and that was slightly bleeding.

"Oh! you poor dear!"

"Yes. Am I not! Wait. Here's a bit of court-plaster. Forgot I had it or
wouldn't have troubled you. Now, talk ahead."

"Schuyler, a man like you shouldn't trifle with edged tools. You have no
gift for anything but--lawing. It wouldn't be any laughing matter if you
should develop blood-poison--"

"It certainly would not, and as I like to laugh I shan't do it. Now,
what is this marvellous thing you've discovered, please? I'm getting
tired of fog, no newspapers, and chess with a stranger; so welcome even
a woman's gossip with delight!"

She paid no heed to his chaffing but began:

"I believe I know who that Dorothy's parents were. I'm as positive as if
I'd been told; and I'm perfectly amazed at Mrs. Betty Calvert. Isn't it
wonderful?"

"Apparently--to you. Not yet to me. I've understood that two and two
makes four; but how your 'belief' and poor old Betty Calvert make
sensible connection I fail to comprehend. I await instruction."

"Stop jesting and you shall have it. Then tell me if I haven't given
you better food for thought than you'd find in to-day's paper--if you
could get it here at sea."

Thereupon, hitching her chair a little nearer to her brother's and
glancing about to see no stranger overheard, the lady began a low toned
conversation with him. This proved, as she had foretold, far more
entertaining than the day's news; and when it was over, when there was
nothing more to be said, he rose, pulled his traveling cap over his
eyes, thrust his hands into his capacious pockets and walked away "to
think it over." Adding, as he left:

"Well, if you're right everything is wrong. And if you're wrong
everything's right."

Over which eminent legal opinion Mrs. Hungerford smiled, reflecting:

"He's convinced. There's nobody I know so well versed in Maryland
genealogy as Schuyler Breckenridge. It's been his pastime so long he'll
be keen on this scent till he proves it false or true. And if it is
true--what a shame, what a shame! That horrid, lonely old woman to take
such an outrageous course. Poor, dear, sweet little Dorothy!"

The result to Dorothy of this conversation was a greater kindness than
ever on the part of Molly's people; who now seemed to take her into
their hearts as if she were of kin to them. She often found them looking
at her searchingly, trying to trace that "likeness" which one of them
had discovered. But no word of what was in their minds was said to her.
She was merely invited to call Mrs. Hungerford "Aunt" as she was to call
the Judge "Uncle."

So despite the dullness of the fog, which prevented her seeing much of
the ocean, the day passed very well. When she was asked if she could
play and to give her new friends a little music, she took the violin
from its shelf and gave them her simple best. To please them who were so
kind to her was a delight to herself and her readiness to oblige was
instantly construed by Aunt Lucretia as a fresh proof of her
"discovery."

"Only a well-born child has that easy grace of manner, Schuyler, as you
must often have observed," she remarked with pleased conviction.

To which he replied by warning:

"Take care you don't build up a romance that will fall to pieces like a
house of cards at the first breath of reality. But as to birth, be it
high or low, Dorothy is a most winning little maid and I'm thankful to
have her along with us on our holiday. Thankful, also, that impulsive
Molly chose just such an unselfish, ingenuous girl for her 'chum.' My
poor little lass! Her first ocean voyage will be a dreary memory for
her!"

"Oh! not so bad. She's perfectly comfortable when she lies still. She
has plenty of attention and sleeps a deal. She's not losing much fun out
here in this weather and will be no more glad to step onto solid land
again than I shall. Except that, but for this enforced close
companionship with little Dorothy I might not have thought out her story
as I have."

"There you go again! Well, the suggestion haunts me, too. I'll
investigate promptly; and--what I shall do after that I haven't yet
decided. I hate a meddler and am not anxious to become one. Heigho! No
matter how hard a tired man tries to mind his own business he can't do
it! Here comes that young Melvin Cook, and he's a lad with a pedigree,
let me tell you, as long as any oldest Marylander of all. He and I have
a bit of business to discuss, so I'll walk the deck with him awhile.
Dorothy, I suppose, will sleep in her own stateroom to-night, since Miss
Greatorex is comfortable. Good night, and sleep well."

The deserted deck and the quiet gloom were a forcible contrast to the
radiance and hilarity of the evening before, so that Mrs. Hungerford did
not linger long after the Judge had left her, to pace up and down in
earnest conversation with the "Bashful Bugler." Yet her thought was now
upon the lad and his name which her brother had mentioned.

"Cook! Cook, from Yarmouth. Why, that's the same as that quaint old
fellow brother took into his private office. He came from Nova Scotia,
too, and called himself a typical Bluenose. Feared he was liable to
consumption and left home for our milder climate. Wonder if he is a
relative of the blond bugler! After all, as Molly so often exclaims,
'what a little bit o' world it is! Everybody you know turning up
everywhere you go!' Quite a keen observer is my flighty little niece,
in spite of all her nonsense; and bless her heart! I must go and see
how she is and send small nurse Dorothy to her own slumbers."

So she too walked forward, and was seen no more till the grating sounds
and the shouted orders told that the good ship "Prince" was docked and
her goodly company had reached that safe "haven where they would be."

Then as if by magic the decks filled with a merry company, even those
who had suffered most from seasickness the gayest of all.

"So good to go ashore! Too early for breakfast? Of course; but I'll take
a walk on dry--or fog-wet ground before I take mine!" said the gentleman
who had been first to succumb to the "fog swell," and stepped down the
ladder, whistling like a happy lad.

Miss Greatorex and Molly emerged from their staterooms a little pallid,
rather shaky on their feet, but quite as happy as their neighbors. Not
the less pleased, either, because the Judge promptly announced:

"We'll not bother for breakfast here. Some of us don't remember the
'Prince's' dining-room with great affection, eh?" and he playfully
pinched Molly's wan cheek. "We're going to stop in Yarmouth for a few
days, and the hotel carriage will take the rest of you up to it at once.
You'll find your rooms all ready for you. I'll see to our luggage and
have that sent up, then follow in time to join you at table. All right,
everybody? All your small belongings in hand? Then driver, pass on."

Already the fog was lifting, and the urbane old man upon the box leaned
down and informed his fares:

"Going to be a fine day, ladies. You'll see Ya'mouth at her purtiest.
Ever been here before, any of you?"

Miss Greatorex's propriety began to return. A sure sign, Mrs. Hungerford
thought, that she was feeling better; and she watched in secret
amusement the sudden stiffening of the angular figure and the
compression of the thin lips as the "instructress" looked fixedly out of
the carriage window and vouchsafed no other reply.

But Aunt Lu always adapted herself to the habits of any country of the
many she had visited and replied, with an eagerness that was
half-mischievous and for Miss Isobel's benefit:

"No, indeed! and we're anxious to see and learn everything new. So
please point out anything of note, and thank you."

"Hmm. I should suppose there could be nothing 'of note' in a place like
this," murmured Miss Isobel, severely, as she scornfully observed the
dingy streets and dwellings of that neighborhood.

But the hackman was gratified by Mrs. Hungerford's interest and a chance
for his own garrulity, and promptly informed them:

"'Tain't never fair to judge no town by its water-front. Course not.
Stands to reason that shipyards and docks and sailorses' saloons ain't
laid out for beauty. But just you wait till we get up the hill a speck
and then you'll see somethin' worth seein'. True. There ain't a nicer
town in the whole Province o' Novy Scoshy 'an Ya'mouth is. Now we're a
gettin'. _Now!_ See there?"

"Ah! how lovely!" "Oh! Auntie Lu!" "Oh! my heart, my heart! If only
darling Father John could see that hedge? What is it, Auntie Lu, can you
tell?" cried Dorothy in rapture; for, indeed, the hedges of this old
town by the sea are famous everywhere the name of Yarmouth is heard.

The driver didn't wait for Mrs. Hungerford to reply, even if she could
have done so. He received every question and exclamation as personal and
proudly answered:

"Ha'tho'n, them are, this side. Then yonder is spruce. And our gardens!
If you women-folks love posies as most females does, you'd ought to be
here a spell later. Roses ain't out yet but cherries is in flower."

"Roses not in bloom? Why, they're past it with us!" responded Auntie Lu,
surprised.

"Hmm, ma'am. And where might that be, if I c'n make so bold?"

"The vicinity of New York, I was recalling."

"Hmm. Exactly. A poor kind of country, New York is, even though they do
call it the 'Empire State' and try to bolster up its failin's with a lot
of fine talk. Now our Province o' Novy Scoshy, and this Ya'mouth, don't
need to do no talkin'. All's necessary for us and them is just to--BE!
Once a feller comes and gets a good square look at us--no water-front
way--" he interpolated, with a shrewd glance toward Miss Isobel's
averted face and an absurd wink to Mrs. Hungerford--"he just sets right
down and quits talkin' of his own places. Fact. I've lived here all my
life and that's the reason I know it."

The man's good nature and self-satisfaction were vastly amusing to Aunt
Lucretia, who ignored what seemed impertinence to the more formal Miss
Greatorex, while the former inwardly delighted in this to her "new type"
of liveryman, and was already anticipating the Judge's entertainment
when the story of this ride was told him.

But Molly waxed indignant over his disparagement of her native land and
exclaimed:

"I wish you'd not talk that way! We're Americans. I don't like it!"

"American, be you? So'm I."

"Oh! well. Course it's all America, but I mean we're from--from the
States," as she chanced to recall an expression she had heard.

"From the States, hey? So be I."

"Yet you say you've lived here all your life. If you hadn't you'd have
been more--more liberal--like travel makes people. If you'd once seen
New York you wouldn't think that little Yarmouth was so mighty pretty. A
right smart you know about it, anyway!"

"Huh! Gid-dap!" was the scornful rejoinder, as Jehu whirled about on his
seat and touched his team to a gallop.

Mrs. Hungerford gave Molly a warning tap, though she was inwardly
pleased to find the child so far recovered as to take an interest in
defending her own home.

It was rather startling to have an ensuing silence broken by the old
driver's facing about once more and declaring with great glee:

"You ain't no New Yorker, so you needn't be touchy about that little
village. You're from down south."

"How do you know?"

"Yorkers don't say 'mighty pretty' and 'right smart,' as the Johnny Rebs
do. I know. I've druv a power of both lots. As for me, I'm a Yankee,
straight descent. My forbear, Sealed Waters, was one the first settlers
here. A Yankee I claim to be, and the 'wa'' ain't over yet, 'pears like.
Ha, ha, ha!"

His mirth was contagious and they all joined in it; even Miss Greatorex
emitting a faint little cackle, which was all her dignity permitted.
Also, by that time the carriage had been halted before a fine hotel,
into which other passengers from their steamer were already passing; and
they were duly helped to alight and enter, their loquacious jehu calmly
extending his card with his name and number and, after a most
business-like fashion, requesting their patronage during the rest of
their stay.

"Show you the purtiest little town in the world, and'll live to hear you
admit it, Ma'am. Thank you, ma'am, and good-day to you."

The Judge had secured their rooms long in advance of their arrival, and
it was well that he had. The Province had come greatly to the fore as a
summer pleasure ground and less thoughtful travelers did not always
obtain such quarters as they preferred.

"Oh! this is fine!" exclaimed Mrs. Hungerford, as she entered her
chamber with its neat appointments and refreshing bath. But Miss
Greatorex was not enthusiastic. She was disappointed in the inn as she
had been in the steamer, having anticipated something much larger and
finer. The exaggerated term of "palatial," which the proprietors had
attached to both, had deceived her and it was no great comfort to have
her companion explain:

"Of course, one can't find Broadway hostelries nor European 'liners' in
this part of the world; but brother has often stayed in this house and
knows it well. There is a larger, newer hotel, but he likes this little
inn. The fare is excellent, the place is safe and quiet, and the
landlord becomes your actual host. That's the charm of the Canadians;
they are all so simple and so courteous. Try and ignore the
disadvantages, dear Miss Isobel, and get all the fun out of our trip you
can. If you'd seen some of the places I've slept in you'd think this is
really 'palatial.'"

The girls were out of hearing and Mrs. Hungerford felt herself
justified in thus much of admonition to her traveling mate, whose ideas
had been too highly raised by the circulars and descriptions she had
read. Fortunately, Miss Greatorex was so thankful to be once more on
land that she really tried to forget minor annoyances and to look upon
whatever happened as so much further "education." Her little notebook
was promptly put to use and she filled several pages with memoranda of
the old seaport which she had so despised at first and found so
historically instructive afterward. Indeed, as Molly declared:

"You'll have to buy a good many books to hold all you want to write,
even in that fine hand, dear Miss Greatorex; and what a lot of things
you'll have to tell the girls at our 'twilight talks!'"

Nor could any inexperienced traveler have found better companions than
Judge Breckenridge and his sister. They were so simple, so friendly, and
such keen observers. Everywhere they went they met and mingled with the
people exactly as if they were old and familiar friends; and in the
gentleman's case this was quite true. He had been in the Province many
times, as has been said, and he had the happy gift of a good and
_willing_ memory. He never forgot an acquaintance nor recalled one
unkindly, and it surprised even Mrs. Hungerford to see how many faces
brightened at his approach and how often the greeting came: "Welcome,
welcome, friend!"

"Why, Judge, you back again? Well, I'm certain glad to see you?
'Tourists' like you are the sort we welcome heartiest to Ya'mouth. Fact,
ain't it? The more folks know, the more they've traveled, the more they
find to admire and enjoy even in such a place as this!" cried one old
seaman, whom they met on their morning walk.

For having enjoyed a most excellent breakfast and the sun now shining
brilliantly, they set out for a stroll through the pretty streets and
past the charming gardens of the town; and finally brought up at the
postoffice where there were letters for everybody, even for Dorothy.

Hers was from Jim Barlow, and full of news of the mountain and old
friends there; saying, also, that he had been invited to join his tutor,
the Rev. Mr. Sterling, who was sometimes called the "tramping parson,"
on a walking tour through the northern part of the Empire State. It was
overflowing with enthusiasm over the places he would visit and the
wonderful "good luck" which had so changed the life of the truck-farm
lad; "and I mean to make the whole 'tramp' a part of my education. I
tell you, Dolly girl, if there's much gets past me without my seeing and
knowing it, it'll be when I'm asleep. Mr. Sterling's a geologist, and
likes to take his vacation this way, so's he can find new stones, or
hammer old ones to his heart's content.

"Whilst he's a hammering I'll be hunting things in the woods. I mean to
make a regular list of every bird I see, and every animal, and study all
their little habits and tricks. I'll carry some old newspapers and a
book, too, so that if I come across any new kind of flower or plant I'll
press it for you. That way my vacation'll be considerable of a help to
you too.

"Try and learn all you can, Dorothy child, whilst you have the chance.
There's nothing so perfectly grand in all this world as learning things.
I've noticed you were getting a little flighty, along back, and setting
more store by your clothes than you used to, or that a girl who'll have
to teach for her living had ought to. Needn't get mad with me for
reminding you. I can write it easier than I could say it to your face,
some way; and amongst all the good times you're having don't forget to
write to me once in a while, for we've been so like brother and sister
this long time that I want to hear. So no more at present from your
affectionate

                         "JAMES BARLOW.

"P. S.--I had a letter from Mrs. Cecil Somerset-Calvert. She wrote I was
to call to Deerhurst and get Peter and Ponce, her two Great Danes, and
take them with me on my tour. She'd already written to Mr. Sterling,
because she knew he was a dog-lover, and he was pleased to have them on
the trip. Good-by.

                         "JIM."

"Well, this changes our plans somewhat," remarked the Judge, looking up
from one of his letters, with an expression of some disappointment. They
had all paused outside the postoffice building to hastily scan their
news, and now grouped about him in interest, as Mrs. Hungerford rather
anxiously asked:

"Why, Schuyler, what's happened?"

"Oh! nothing unpleasant. Not at all. Only this is from Ihrie, and the
boys will be on hand earlier than expected. So, to get around to all the
places we want to see and yet be at our rendezvous in time we'll have to
cut our stay here short. I wouldn't like to fail the boys."

"Not on any account!" exclaimed Aunt Lu, merrily; and then explaining to
Miss Greatorex: "Let me tell you, Miss Isobel, that these 'boys' range
anywhere from fifty to seventy-five years in age! and that one of them
is a college president, another a world-famous surgeon, and the third an
equally notable merchant. Old class-mates under their president, whom it
is their glory to have with them on these annual trips."

"Why, I--I think that is beautiful!" returned the teacher, with so much
enthusiasm that the others reflected how she was "waking up."
"Beautiful," she added again, after a pause in which she had looked with
new interest upon her own young pupils.

"Yes, we must get on. So let's plan our day the best we can, and take
the evening express for Digby. How does this suit? To call a carriage
and have you ladies driven all around, to 'do' Yarmouth as thoroughly as
possible in so short a time. Don't wait dinner for me--for us. I have a
visit to make which must not be postponed, since it concerns the
interests of other people. I'll take the girls with me and give them a
chance to see the inside of a Yarmouth cottage. Also, if we're invited,
to taste a bit of native Yarmouth cookery. We'll get around back to the
inn in time for collecting our traps and making the train. Eh?"

"Suits me well enough;" answered Mrs. Hungerford, and Miss Isobel nodded
acquiescence, saying to the surprise of the others: "That descendant of
'Sealed Waters' might impart the most information of any driver,
possibly."

"But--Molly! Why, Molly, what are you acting that way for?" demanded
Dorothy, smiling at the antics of her mate. For the girl had hastily
scanned two of her letters and having saved "the best to the last" was
now prancing all over the sidewalk, waving the missive overhead and
crying:

"Splendid! Splendid! SPLENDID!"



CHAPTER VII

FINNAN HADDIE IN A GARDEN


As Molly's excitement seemed pleasurable they did not tarry for its
explanation but promptly separated; the ladies returning to their hotel
to order their carriage and repack the few articles they had taken from
their valises.

The Judge set off down the street, still examining his mail and bidding
the girls to follow; and, as they did so, Molly exclaimed:

"It's just too lovely for words! Monty's coming, Monty's coming!"

Dorothy almost lost sight of the Judge as he turned a corner into a side
street, so long she paused and so disgusted she felt.

"That boy! What's he coming for? I hope not to be with us!"

"Exactly what he is, then! We laid a little plan that last morning when
we started. His mother was in Newburgh, you know, and hadn't decided
where she would pass her vacation. So I suppose he went right to her and
asked and she always does just what he wants. He writes that she'd never
visited Nova Scotia nor Canada and was simply delighted to come. She
wouldn't force their society upon our party, oh! no, not for anything!
But she'll manage to take the first steamer out from Boston and will go
straight to Digby. We'll meet there; and if Aunt Lucretia doesn't think
a Stark is good company for a Breckenridge, I'll know the reason why.
Oh! fine, fine."

"Oh! nuisance, nuisance! But come on! Your father is ever so far ahead
and we'll have to hurry to catch up."

They set off upon a run and for a few minutes neither spoke. Molly was
disappointed that Dolly didn't "enthuse," and the latter felt that a
boy--such a boy--would effectually spoil the good times she and her mate
might have had together, alone. Finally, Molly asked:

"Who was your letter from?"

For answer and with considerable pride Dorothy drew James Barlow's
epistle from its envelope and held it toward her friend, saying:

"You can read and see."

Molly read and returned the letter, with a little sniff of contempt and
the remark:

"Huh! The only interesting part of that is the post-script. It will be
just fine to have those dogs along. I suppose Mrs. Calvert sent them up
from Baltimore to Deerhurst. But if I were you, Dolly Doodles, I
wouldn't let that ignoramus preach to me like he does to you in that
letter. He's a prig, that's what he is, and I hate a prig. So there."

"No, he isn't. Mr. Seth would say that he had only 'lost his head' for a
minute. You see poor Jim can't get over the wonder of his getting his
'chance.' He's simply crazy-wild over learning--now. He believes it's
the only thing in the world worth while. He didn't mean to scold me.
I--I guess. If he did I don't mind. He's only Jim. He just knows I'll
have to take care of my father and mother, some day, if our mineral
spring and mine don't pay better than now. He's afraid I'll waste my
'chance,' that's all. Dear, faithful old Jim!"

"Pooh! Horrid, pokey old Jim, I say. But Monty'll have some fun in him;
unless--he thinks two girls are poor company."

"I hope he will. I hope he'll coax your father and those old 'boys' to
take him with them into the woods. That might do him some good and take
the nonsense out of him."

"Well, Dorothy, I think that's not a nice thing for you to say. You must
have forgotten the night of the fire and what he did to help you. There
wasn't any 'nonsense' about Montmorency Vavasour-Stark then, if you
please!"

Instantly touched by this reminder and fully regretful for her
sarcasm--though still sorry that he was coming--Dolly returned:

"That's true, Molly, honey. I did forget, just for a minute. He's not
half bad, Monty isn't; and I guess he'll be useful to climb trees and
pick cherries for us, or get flowers that we can't reach. Anyhow, we're
fairly dawdling and almost quarreling, and all the time your father is
getting further away. See! He's stopping before that house? I'll race
you to the gate!"

"All right. One--two--three--go!"

It was a charming little cottage before which they brought up at the
Judge's side. Its front yard was small, so that the bay-windows one upon
each side the door, came almost to the white paling before the grounds;
but one could catch a glimpse of a deep garden behind and Dorothy's
flower-loving soul was enchanted by it, even as by the contents of the
windows.

"Oh! look! How lovely! Did you ever see such Gloxinias and Cyclamens?
And that Weeping Fuschia in the other window! It is gorgeous, simply
gorgeous! But how queer, too, to keep plants indoors as late as this!
and their lace curtains up, right in the summer-time! Are we going in
here, Judge Breckenridge?"

"Yes, indeed. I paused only to let your rhapsody have vent, though I
really wish the little mistress of this home could have heard such a
spontaneous tribute to her skill as a florist. You'll notice that
peculiarity all through the Province. Window plants remain in the
windows all the year round and there is scarcely a home that hasn't its
share of them and its tiny conservatory, such as is here.

"Curtains? I hadn't thought why they're up, but maybe it's to keep out
the prying gaze of too eager 'tourists.' A fine scorn the native always
has for the average 'tourist'--though he has no scorn for the tourist's
cash. Ah! Here she comes!"

At that instant his summons upon the tiny knocker was answered by the
soft footfall of a woman, and the opening of the door a narrow way. Then
it was as instantly flung wide and a dainty little housemistress,
white-capped and white-haired, extended two small, toil-worn hands in
greeting.

"Oh! Judge Breckenridge! You did give me such a start! But I'm so glad
to see you! So more than glad. Do step right in, please. All of you step
in."

"Thank you, Mrs. Cook, for your welcome and your invitation; but we'd
rather step right out if you don't mind?"

"Why--sir!"

"No lack of appreciation, believe me. But I've a young lady here who is
'plumb crazy' over posies and, coming along on the steamer, I promised
her a glimpse of some of Yarmouth's garden 'cosy corners.' I know none
lovelier than your own; and as for your window-plants--I'm afraid if we
don't take her away from temptation she'll break the glass and 'hook'
one of your 'Gloxamens' or 'Cyclaglinias' or--"

The lady laughed as merrily as a girl and patted Dorothy's shoulder with
appreciation of the Judge's joke. Then started to lead the way around
the cottage into that inviting greenery behind, when a curious voice
hindered her by a pathetic appeal:

"Mamma! Oh! Mamma! Don't go and leave poor Mum! Quisanthemum must go
with Mamma!"

The visitors turned in surprise, toward this querulous "child" as the
girls fancied it, though the Judge was already smiling his understanding
of the matter. Then there appeared in the doorway a parrot, of wonderful
plumage and exaggerated awkwardness; who waddled from side to side,
climbed one side of its mistress's gown to her shoulder and walked
head-first down the other, rolling its eyes and emitting the most absurd
moans till the two girls were convulsed with laughter.

Then Mrs. Cook held out her wrist, the parrot settled on it, and they
proceeded to the garden; the lady explaining:

"This little Miss Chrysanthemum is a spoiled baby. She's only a few
months old, was brought to me by one of my sailor friends, and about
rules the house now. Especially when my boy is away."

As she mentioned her "boy" the tiny woman looked rather anxiously into
the Judge's face; and Dorothy noticed that her own was really quite
young, despite the white hair and widow's cap which crowned it. She
thought the lady charming, she was so small, so delicate and quaint. Yet
there was the real "English color" on her still fair cheek and her eyes
were as bright a blue as Molly's own.

"Son told me you would call. Also, Ephraim wrote me in his last letter;
but I had not expected you to-day. I thought you were to be in Yarmouth
for a week or more and didn't anticipate so prompt a kindness."

Then opening a little bag which hung fastened to her waist, the cottager
drew from it a pair of blunt-pointed scissors and gave them to Dorothy,
saying:

"It's you I see, who has the keenest eyes for flowers. Cut all you want
of anything you fancy;" and she swept her hand rather proudly toward the
hedges of sweet-peas, just coming into bloom, and the magnificent roses
which were earlier in her protected garden than elsewhere in the town.

Had Dorothy known it, this was a rare privilege that had been accorded
her. Mrs. Cook loved her flowers as she did her human friends and had a
fancy that cutting them was almost as cruel as wounding a person she
loved. Until they faded she never cut them for her own enjoyment; and
only now and then nerved herself to clip them for the cheer of some
ailing neighbor. She was therefore greatly pleased when the girl
returned the scissors, after one questioning glance toward Molly, as to
her possible disappointment.

"Thank you, Mrs. Cook, but I don't like to do that. They are so lovely
and look so happy in this beautiful garden, I'd hate to. We shall be
going, I'm told, and they'll only be ruined for nothing. But, if you
please, I'd like to sit down on these steps and enjoy them. Wouldn't
you, Molly? While your father talks with Mrs. Cook."

The steps belonged to a sort of lean-to, or outdoor kitchen. The little
addition was covered with vines in leaf and more sweet-peas clambered
about its base. Behind it was the living-room with its open door and
table already set for dinner. A savory odor issued thence and set the
girls to thinking how remarkably hungry they were, despite their late
and substantial breakfast. Also, to wondering if Nova Scotia air was to
whet their appetites this way all the time.

Thought Molly, in especial: "If it is I shall buy me a little bag to
wear at my waist, as Auntie does, and fill it with crackers."

Then, thinking of food, she "pricked up her ears," hearing her hostess
inviting:

"But, Judge Breckenridge, I would take it the highest honor if you would
share our dinner with us. Of course, it isn't what I'd have liked to
have, had I known. But my husband used to say, 'Welcome is the best
sauce.' Besides, if you're to leave so soon I'll be glad to talk over
that matter of which I just spoke. I am really so perplexed as to what
is best. You've been so kind to my brother-in-law, Ephraim, that--"

She interrupted herself to laugh and observe:

"Yet that's presumptuous of me, too. The fact that you've been a kind
adviser to one of the family doesn't form a precedent for all the rest
of us. But, business aside, cannot you and your daughters join us?"

"Thank you. We will be most happy; though I must set you right on that
point--of relationship. One is my daughter, the blonde, not the
flower-lover; and one is my temporarily 'adopted.' Molly and Dolly their
names; and two dearer little maids you'll travel far to find."

"Aye, they're fair bonny, and so unlike. Now, sit you down, please,
while I dish up; and tell me, if you will, how does the man, Ephraim? He
was ever in fear of his health but a better one never lived. After my
sister died--the pair of us married brothers--he grew lost and finical.
Nought we could do for him just suited the man. It was the grief, I
knew. So, after he'd mumbled along more years than he'd ought, fending
for himself, he crossed over to the States and drifted south to Richmond
and you. 'Twas a sad pity he'd neither son nor daughter to cheer him in
his widower life, but so was his Providence. Mine has been better. Son
is my hope and--and my anxiety. He's not found his right niche yet, poor
lad. There's a love of the sea in him, like his sailor father; but he's
never got over that tragedy of his father's death."

"Where did that happen, Mrs. Cook? Ephraim told me he was drowned,"
asked the visitor, sympathetically.

"Off Pollock Rip Shoals. A bad and fearsome place that, where many an
honest fellow has sunk to his last sleep." She dashed a tear from her
eye, and laid her hand for an instant upon her widow's cap. Then she
went on more cheerfully, as if time had taught her resignation: "But
that's a gone-by. Son's future isn't. It's laid upon me by the Lord to
be both father and mother to the boy and I must study what's for _his_
best, not mine. Ephraim wrote I was to consult you who are a Judge and
wise. He said in his letter that he hadn't been a sort of
general-utility-man in your office thus long without knowing it wasn't
your best paying clients that got your best advice. That, wrote Ephraim,
came out of your heart for the widows and orphans. We're that, son and
I, and--What a garrulous creature I am!"

All the time the little woman had been talking she had also been
preparing for the meal; and it now being ready to serve she stepped to
the rear door, opening on the place where the girls were sitting, and
announced:

"Our finnan haddie and greens are ready, young ladies, if you will come
and partake of it. Also, lest you be disappointed, I'll say that there's
a 'John's Delight' in the 'steamer,' and a dish of the best apples in
the Province for the sweeties. Eh? What, my dear?"

To Dorothy's utter amazement Molly was doing a very rude thing. She had
risen and made her very prettiest courtesy, but had supplemented this
act of respect by the petition:

"Please, Mrs. Cook, may we have ours out here, on these steps?"

"Why, Molly!" cried her chum, in reproof. "The idea of giving all that
trouble!"

"No trouble whatever, but a pleasure," replied the hostess, although
she, also, was surprised.

Molly wheeled upon Dorothy, demanding:

"Wouldn't you like it here? Could you find a lovelier place to eat in?
As for making trouble, I don't want to do that. I--If Mrs. Cook will
just put it on one plate I'll fetch it here for us both. It would be
like a picnic in a garden; and you could stay here and--and watch."

"Watch? What am I to watch, except these beautiful flowers?" asked
Dolly, even further surprised.

Fortunately for Molly her father had not overheard her odd request or
she would have received reproof far more effectual than Dorothy's. Also,
Mrs. Cook was hospitality itself, and this meant wishing her guests to
enjoy themselves after the manner they liked best.

As swiftly as either of the girls could have moved, she was back in the
pleasant living-room, arranging a tray with a portion of the palatable
dinner she had provided; saying in response to the Judge's inquiring
expression:

"We thought it would be a fine thing, and one the lassies will long
remember, to have their Bluenose dinner in a Bluenose garden. For all
their lives long they can think of this summer day and my greenery yon;
and, maybe, too, of the first time they ever ate 'finnan haddie' and
'John's Delight.' More than that, it will give us the freedom of speech
with son, as it wouldn't were they sitting by. He's aye shy, is my
laddie."

Then she carried out a little table, set it beside the steps and placed
the tray thereon. After which she "Begged pardon!" and lifted up her
gentle voice in an appeal that sounded almost pathetic in its entreaty.

"Son! Dear son Melvin! Come now to dinner with your mother! Son! SON!"

The last word was spoken in a tone he rarely disobeyed, and low-toned
though it was, it was so distinctly uttered that people passing on the
street beyond heard it. So also must he have heard who was summoned, if
he was anywhere upon those premises--as he had been when these guests
arrived.

However, he did not appear; and Mrs. Cook and the Judge sat down alone,
while "Son" for whom that "home dinner" had been specially prepared was
"fair famished" for want of it.

Out upon the steps of that lattice-covered, vine-enwrapped summer-house,
the two girls enjoyed their dinner greatly. In particular did mistress
Molly. Her eyes sparkled, her dimples came and went, her smiles almost
interfered with her eating, and her whole behavior was so peculiar that
Dorothy stared. She was puzzled and began to be slightly disgusted, and
at last remarked:

"Why, honey, I never saw you get so much--so much fun out of your food.
I've heard about gourmands. I think I can guess now what they are and
act like. Hark! What's that noise? Kind of a crackle, as if a cat or
something was overhead among those vines. I hope it isn't. Cats love
fish. I always have to shut up Lady Rosalind when Mother Martha has it
for dinner. Isn't 'finnan haddie' a queer name?"

"Yes. I've heard Papa tell of it before. It's haddock smoked, some sort
of queer way. But this is nice--My! How nice this is! Umm, umm, umm!"
giggled Molly, as if she found something most amusing in the food she
smacked her lips over in such a very strange manner.

"Well, Molly Breckenridge, one thing I can say for you. That is: it's a
good thing Miss Rhinelander isn't here to see you now. You--you act like
a little pig. Excuse me, but you really do."

"Cats do like fish. Maybe it's a cat. Let's call it a cat, anyway,"
answered Molly, in no wise offended by her chum's plain speech.
Then lifting her voice she began to call: "Kitty! Kitty!
Kitty--kitty--kitty--kitty--kitty--come!" as fast as she could speak.

Just then Mrs. Cook came out to them to remove their plates and bring
them generous portions of "John's Delight," a dessert which Molly
declared was "first cousin to a Christmas plum pudding," and over which
she was tempted to smack her lips in earnest, not pretence. A momentary
soberness touched her merry face, however, when the hostess observed
with keen regret:

"I am so sorry Son isn't here to do the honors of this little picnic. I
don't see where he can have gone. His dinner on shore is always such a
pleasure to him and besides--I wanted him to meet you all in a private
fashion, not as a bugler aboard-ship."

"Maybe--maybe he is--_is_ doing the honors!" said Molly, half choking
over the strange remark. "Maybe he's--he can see--he's rather shy, isn't
he? The sailor said they called him the 'Bashful Bugler.' But he--he
bugles beautifully, especially first calls to meals which a seasick girl
can't eat. I--"

Then she stopped abruptly. Mrs. Cook was looking at her with much the
same expression Dorothy's mobile face had worn; and again from overhead
came that ominous crackle of breaking twigs. Also, a few crushed leaves
fluttered to the ground and caused Dorothy to exclaim:

"Must be a pretty big cat to tear things like that. Did you see it? Do
you suppose it's a wildcat? Don't they have all sorts of creatures in
the Nova Scotia woods? Do you suppose it's wild--"

"It certainly is. It's about the wildest thing I ever met--of its size.
Isn't this pudding delicious? If I was a hungry, a sea-starved cat how
angry I should be to be kept out of my share of it just by a couple of
girls. Girls are cats' natural enemies. Sometimes girls eat cats--if
they're nice, purry, pussy-cats! Some cats have blue eyes, and
some--Why, Papa! Are you ready? Going so soon?"

"Yes, dear. I can't wait any longer. I am greatly disappointed in not
seeing Melvin again; but possibly he may run up to the station before
the train starts. I'll try to be there early. As early as I can, though
I have some little affairs here still to attend to. Good-by, Mrs. Cook.
I think the plan we have discussed is the best all round. It will be a
test, so to speak. There is nothing like life in the woods together to
break down all barriers of shyness or reserve.

"Thank you, cordially, for your hospitality. I haven't enjoyed a dinner
so much in many a day. I will see you again, if we return this way, and
I will keep you informed of my address if our plan falls through and we
have to try some other."

Deeply moved, the little mother began to utter her own profuse thanks;
for what the listening girls did not know. But these were promptly
suppressed by the Judge's manner of saying:

"Don't do that, yet, my dear lady. Wait and prove Ephraim's words are
true. And now good-by again. I had hoped to have you and my sister meet,
but our unexpected departure has prevented that until some more
fortunate future day."

He raised his hat, bowed profoundly, and walked away; the girls making
their adieus and expressing their own thanks for hospitality received in
a manner which did credit to Miss Rhinelander's training. Only Molly's
cheek burned with an unusual blush, and she did not lift her eyes to
Mrs. Cook's as readily and affectionately as Dorothy did.

The latter, indeed, was to receive a rare tribute; for the lady followed
her to the street and slipping inside the front door broke from her
beautiful Gloxinias a handful of blossoms and gave them to the girl,
saying:

"My dear, I'm sure you will appreciate these; and I'm equally sure you
and I have much in common. Good-by. May all good things attend you."
Then she kissed the red lips which had impulsively kissed her and
watched them all out of sight.

But she did not kiss Molly; and though that young person would not have
expected such a caress, she was for an instant jealous of that bestowed
upon Dorothy.

The Judge waited for them to join him and taking a hand of each, in his
fatherly fashion, remarked:

"I find that sailor's widow a very charming woman and a perfect hostess.
No apologies for what she had to offer, though in her heart a slight
regret that it was not of some sort more expensive. A pity Melvin didn't
appear. I would have liked to study him in his mother's presence. One
can always tell what a boy is by the way he treats his mother; and I
wasn't pleased that he so disregarded her call to dinner, because she
said he had been there when I knocked and after we had entered the
garden itself."

A sudden comprehension of the state of things flashed through Dorothy's
mind, and she turned her eyes inquiringly toward Molly, who flushed,
hesitated, and finally burst forth:

"He couldn't come, Papa dear, because--because I wouldn't let him! He
got caught in the trap of his own horrid bashfulness."

Somehow Molly was no longer giggling, as she had been at intervals ever
since they reached the cottage. Things didn't look as "funny" as they
had a few minutes before; nor was she pleased to have the Judge stop
short on the path and demand:

"Explain yourself, daughter."

"Why it's easy enough. When that Melvin boy, that bugler, saw us coming
to that porch he was scared stiff. He just looked at us a second, then
scrambled up that lattice-work to the top of that arbor or whatever it
is, and--course he had to stay there. That's why I sat down on those
steps. Why I wanted my dinner out there. Oh! it was the funniest thing!
A great big boy like him to stay up on such an uncomfortable place just
because two girls whom he'll never see again had sat down beneath him.
Of course, he'd have to pass us to answer his mother's call to dinner;
and he'd rather go without that than do it. Oh! it was too funny for
words! And when the leaves fell Dolly thought it was the 'cat.' She
wondered if it was a 'wildcat,' and I said 'yes, it was wild!' Oh! dear!
I was so amused!"

Dorothy laughed. To her the affair had also its "too funny" side, now
that she understood it. But the Judge did not laugh. If he felt any
secret amusement at the girlish prank he did not betray it in his
expression, which was the sternest his daughter had ever seen when bent
upon her idolized self.

"Well, Molly, you certainly have distinguished yourself. The joke which
might have been harmless under some circumstances was an abominable
rudeness under these. I am ashamed of you. I shall expect you to write a
note of apology to Mrs. Cook, before you leave Yarmouth. And as for
never seeing Melvin again, let me set you right. I have invited the lad
to join us for our entire summer vacation. Understand?"

Alas! She understood but too well. Yet if a bomb had exploded at her
feet she could hardly have been more astonished.



CHAPTER VIII

DOROTHY AND THE BASHFUL BUGLER


The main street of pretty Digby runs close to the water. The bluff is
crowned by a grassy sward and a row of well-grown trees, with a driveway
between these and the buildings on the further side.

"Oh! how lovely and how different from our own seaside places, with
their hot sands, board walks, and cityfied shops. I hope no board walk
will ever spoil this charming boulevard!" exclaimed a lady, who stood at
a hotel window overlooking Annapolis Basin, on whose shore nestles the
little town.

"Yes, Mamma! Aren't you glad you came?" asked Monty Stark, entering the
room and joining her at the window.

"I hope I shall be, dear. I'm a little anxious about your friends. I
should greatly object, myself, to having people force themselves upon a
touring party I had organized. But you must understand, Montmorency,
that if I discover the slightest sign of objection to us, I shall go on
my own way and you will have to go with me. I--I am not accustomed to
being patronized or--no matter. I came to please you, my precious boy,
and I hope it will be all right. Let me see if you are quite correct. I
suppose the guests wear evening dress for dinner as in other civilized
places. Though--it looks more like a country village yonder, than a real
watering place."

"But, Mamma, it is a country village. Nothing else, the Judge says. And
somehow I feel rather silly in this rig. I saw the Judge a moment ago
and he wasn't in evening clothes, but he's a 'brick' all right!"

"Montmorency! How can you use such dreadful expressions?"

"Easy as preaching, _chere Maman_!"

"I'm afraid your associates at Brentnor are not all of them as refined
and exclusive as I had supposed. I've observed other phrases that I do
not like. One of them was, I think, 'Shucks!'"

"Yes, I reckon you did. I didn't catch that from a Brentnor, though, but
from Jim Barlow."

"Who is he, pray?"

"Blest if I can tell or he either. He hails from a poorhouse. He was
'bound out' to a woman truck farmer. He's been 'taken up' by Mrs. Cecil
Somerset-Calvert, of Baltimore, and lots of other places. A lady that's
so rich she has homes in ever so many different parts of the country.
But better than that he's a 'trump,' a life-saver, a scholar, and--a
gentleman! One of 'Nature's' you know. Would like to have you meet him
because he's my present chum; that is, he would be if--if we lived in
the same house and could be. But unfortunately, he has agreed to do
'chores' for a parson in payment for his instruction in Greek and all
the 'ologies.' He's off on a tramp now, 'hoofing it,' as he elegantly
expresses it, for a vacation. He's taken the parson and a couple of dogs
along for company. The parson's a trotting tramper, too. Maybe you've
read some of his delightful articles in the magazines. Eh? What? Too
much for you, Mamma? Well, never mind. I'll quit now, for there goes the
last bell for dinner. Allow me?"

Bowing and offering his arm Monty conducted his richly clad mother
toward the dining-room, whither a crowd of tourists were hastening.
These were garbed in any sort of comfortable traveling clothes, the
women mostly in white shirt-waists such as Mrs. Stark would have
disdained even for morning wear at home. The men looked as if they had
just come from a dusty train, a too-fragrant fishing boat, or a rough
camp in the woods; and at the foot of the stairs the fashionable Mrs.
Stark paused in a sort of dismay.

For an instant, too, she had an odd feeling as if it were she who had
made a mistake, not those groups of merry, hungry holiday-makers, who
elbowed one another good naturedly, in order to find a seat at the
crowded tables. Mrs. Stark wasn't used to elbowing or being elbowed, and
she gathered her silken train in her hand to preserve it from contact
with the oil-cloth covered floor of the lobby, while her face gathered
an expression of real alarm.

"Why, my dear son! We can't stay here, you know! It is simply impossible
to hobnob with such--such queer persons. We must seek another hotel at
once. I'll step into that room yonder which is the 'parlor' probably,
and you summon the proprietor. I--I am not accustomed to this want of
courtesy and--indeed, dear, I am greatly displeased with you. You
painted the trip in such glowing colors I--"

"But, Mamma, don't the colors glow? Did you ever see anything in your
life lovelier than this glimpse of the Annapolis Basin, with the
moonlight on it, the great peaks and cliffs beyond? I'm sorry if you're
disappointed but you didn't seem to be up in your room, looking out. As
for changing hotels we'd simply 'hop out of the frying pan into the
fire,' since this is the best one in the town. Else Judge Breckenridge
wouldn't have come here."

"Monty, dear! Such phrases again! Is that another lesson learned from
the poorhouse boy?"

"No, indeedy! I caught that from Alfaretta Babcock. She of the
_retroussé_ nose and simple speech. A royal sort of girl, too, is Alfy;
first of the alphabetical Babcock sisters. The second is--But come,
Mamma. We're in for it and I don't want to go to bed hungry, even if you
do. I'm afraid, Mother mine, that there's been too much 'de luxe' in
your life and I shall have to reconstruct you."

His mirthful face provoked her to laughter despite her real vexation and
fortunately, at that moment, Mrs. Hungerford entered the room and
advanced to Mrs. Stark with extended hand and the warmest of greetings.

"This is Monty's mother, I'm sure. I am Molly's Auntie Lu. We exist I
fancy, for our respective youngsters and mine discovered you through the
doorway of the dining-room and commissioned me to fetch you. We've had
seats reserved for you at our table in the corner and I apologize for
not hunting you up earlier. The truth is we were out driving until the
last moment and were greatly hurried ourselves. So, of course, we were
none of us here when the train came in and I did not know you had
arrived. Shall we go now? You will find that people grow desperately
hungry when they first come into this bracing air, and with the best
intentions in the world, the proprietor isn't always able to provide
enough for such clamorous appetites. My brother says that explains the
rather rude crowding to get 'first table,' and that our remedy lies in
doing a bit of crowding ourselves. I rather enjoy it, already, though we
only came here yesterday. Did you have a pleasant trip?"

"No, I did not. I was never on such a poor steamer before. Fortunately I
wasn't ill and it's not a long sail from Boston across. Is it really
true, as Montmorency tells me, that there is no better hotel than this?"
returned the other, rising to follow Auntie Lu.

[Illustration: "HELLO SNACKENBERG! HERE AM I! GIVE ME A RIDE?"
_Dorothy's Travels._]

Since Monty had said that he was hungry, of course, she would stay for
that one meal and let him get comfortable. Afterward--she would
follow her own judgment.

But she, also, was gently bred and born, and despite a lack of plain
common sense was an agreeable person in the main. She had responded to
Mrs. Hungerford's greeting with a correct society manner; and now, as
she followed toward the dining-room, she bestowed upon that lady's back
a keenly critical survey. She saw that Aunt Lucretia was well but simply
gowned in white. She was immaculately fresh, and fragrant from her bath
with a faint odor of violets about her that pleased rather than offended
nostrils which habitually objected to "perfumery" as something common
and vulgar.

Her gown might have been expensive but did not look so and was eminently
more fit for an evening dinner in a tourists' hotel than the elaborate
costume of Mrs. Stark.

Though she had been but twenty-four hours in the place, Auntie Lu had
already adapted herself to it completely, and smiled away the services
of a rather frightened head-waitress new to her business, as she
threaded her way toward that distant corner of the crowded room where
her own table overlooked the water.

A little hush fell over the adjoining tables as Mrs. Stark's elegance
bore down upon them in her majestic way. She was portly and
heavy-motioned, as poor Monty was apt to be when he should arrive at her
age; and chairs had to be drawn in closer, feet tucked under them, and
heads bent forward as she passed by.

As for the youth in her train misery and mortification shone on his
chubby countenance. For a boy he had been absurdly fond of dress, but he
had also a keen sense of what was fit and he knew his present costume
was not that. However, all this trivial unpleasantness passed, as the
entering pair were greeted by the rest of the party. The Judge still
wore a business suit but his manner, as he rose to be presented to Mrs.
Stark was so polished and correct that her spirits revived, thinking:

"Well, the people are all right, if the place isn't."

She acknowledged Miss Isobel's greeting with a slight haughtiness, such
as she felt was due a social inferior. Upon Molly she bestowed an
admiring smile and glance; and upon Dorothy a rather perfunctory one.
The girl might also be "poorhouse born" for aught anybody knew, and from
contact with such her "precious lamb" was to be well protected. She
intended to see to it that further intercourse between her son and that
"tramp," Jim Barlow, should be prevented also; and while she marvelled
that "the Breckenridges" should make much of the girl, as apparently
they did, it wasn't necessary that she should do the same. Monty had
told her all about each member of the party so that Dorothy's story was
familiar to her. The lad had concluded his recital with the words:

"She's the bravest, sincerest girl in the world. She's braver than
Molly Breckenridge, and I like her immensely. All the boys at Brentnor
think she's fine, and we all hope some grand romance will come out of
the facts of her parentage. She doesn't come of any illiterate, common
stock, Mamma. You may be sure of that. So I hope you'll be nice and
not--not too _Stark-ish_ toward her, please!"

So this was the girl who had saved life. Of that grim teacher opposite
and, later, of a farmer's son out of a tree where he was hanging. Very
creditable, of course, though it couldn't affect herself, Mrs. Ebenezer
Vavasour-Stark, and she fixed her attention elsewhere.

It was due to the Judge that she altered her opinion of her present
quarters so far as to decide upon remaining in them; and to make the
best of the whole trip, "which you know is but a prolonged picnic. As
for air and health and strength, you could find nothing better the world
over, my dear Madam," he had said.

After that first dinner also she had a talk with her son; which resulted
in his displaying a common sense that did him credit.

"Look here, Mamma. Let's just pack all these over-fine togs in the
trunks and leave them here to be sent to us when wanted. All we shall
need, I fancy, is a suit-case a-piece with the plainest things we own.
Even that 'fancy' hunter's suit I bought is ridiculous. The Judge uses
the oldest sort of things--'regular rags,' Molly says; and I--I may _be_
a fool but I don't like to _look_ like one! Do it, Mamma, to please me.
And let's put our 'society' manners into the trunks with the clothes.
Let's live, for these few weeks, as if we were real poor--as poor as
Dolly or Miss Greatorex. I don't believe even that lady has any money to
speak of and as for Dorothy, she hasn't a cent. Not a cent."

"How do you know that, Montmorency? Are you on such intimate terms with
that foundling that she confides the state of her finances to you? If
so, she is probably hinting for presents."

"Umm. Might be. Didn't look like it though when I proposed just now to
buy her one of those Indian baskets on sale in the lobby. She wouldn't
take one, though Molly took all I wanted to give--and more. _That_ girl
hasn't any scruples about having a good time and letting anybody pay
that wants to."

"That, son, is a proof of good birth and breeding, she has always been
accustomed to having her wants supplied and takes it as a matter of
course. But, Monty darling, you must be good to Mamma. She doesn't feel
as if she had come to a 'Paradise of a place,' as you told me I would
find it. Yet if it pleases you to see your mother dressed like a servant
why, of course, for your sake I'll consent. But I warn you, no
skylarking with underbred people or I shall take you straight home."

This little conversation shows that Mrs. Hungerford was right when she
informed her brother on that same evening:

"We made a blunder when we allowed the Starks to join our personal
party. They fit into it about as well as a round peg in a square hole.
The woman--Well, she may be high-born and rich but I don't want our
Molly to copy her notions. She's not nice, either, to poor Miss Isobel
nor Dorothy. The result is that Miss Greatorex has grown more difficult
and 'stiff' than she was in the beginning. Such a pity when she's just
begun to get softer and more human!"

In his heart the Judge was not over-pleased by this untoward opening of
the new association, but he wouldn't admit it to her. He merely said:

"I'm sorry if you're going to let the prejudices of silly women spoil
your own vacation. Don't do it. Just remember what you often say, that
human nature is the same everywhere. We have the pride of wealth to
contend with on one hand and the pride of poverty on the other; but
beneath each sort of pride lies an honest heart. I believe it, and that
we shall yet see these two opposing elements merged in a warm
friendship. Watch for it. It takes all sorts of people to make a world
and another sort will be added, to-morrow, when Melvin joins us. Throw
in the college Prex, the millionaire financier, and surgeon Mantler, and
we shall have a miniature world of our own in our traveling mates."

"Schuyler, you haven't told me yet what part that lad Melvin is to play
in this 'world.' Why did you ask him?"

"To test him, Lu, nothing else. His mother is anxious he should make a
man of himself and isn't sure how best he can. She permitted him to take
a bugler's place on the 'Prince' because he wanted to try a sea-faring
life. Two seasons of it, even under the comfortable conditions of a
passenger steamship, has sickened him of that. He fancied he could be a
musician and has talent sufficient only to 'bugle.' Now he wants to see
the world, though he didn't dream I was to offer him a chance. She
thinks he would make a good lawyer, and so his uncle Ephraim thinks. Her
pastor thinks he ought to be a minister; and the only point upon which
all his friends and himself agree is that he should not spend all his
days in 'Ya'mouth.' I'm going to take him to camp with me, to act as
handy-man for all of us. That will give me a chance to see what stuff
he's made of; and if he's worth it--if he's worth it--I'll take him down
to Richmond and set him at the law.

"Molly, however, must let him alone. That girl can upset more plans than
the wisest man can lay; and if she gets to teasing him on account of his
strange bashfulness she'll scare him away from us and disappoint his
mother's tender heart. _She_ thinks that 'son' is a paragon of all the
virtues. So does this other mother who's just joined us, think of her
beloved Montmorency Vavasour-Stark. What a name! Between them and their
'laddies' I reckon I shall have less peace than from the wildest of
tricksy Molly's capers."

"Schuyler, you mustn't be hard on her. She's exactly like what you were
at her age! And she is the dearest child, you know it!"

"I must have been what you call 'a sweet thing,' then! But, of course,
she's my own 'crow,' therefore she's pure white," laughed the adoring
father, with more earnest than jest.

"Also, brother, in all your plans for others don't forget little
Dorothy's. I know you're busy but I must find out who her own people
are. I _must_. It's a sin and a heartless one to keep her young heart
longer in suspense. I know she often ponders the thing, in spite of her
cheerfulness, even gayety."

To which he returned:

"Don't attribute more pondering to her than belongs. Of the two I fancy
you do the most of that. Nor think I've forgotten her interests. Her
history is already being unravelled, thread by thread, and stitch by
stitch. When the thread's wound clear up I trust it may make a goodly
ball."

"Oh! my dear brother, what do you mean?" cried Aunt Lucretia, eagerly.

"I mean that I set old Ephraim Cook to the task. He's already down at
Annapolis, fairly burrowing in archives and genealogies, and the
skeleton closets of all our old Maryland families. It's the most
congenial task he ever undertook in all his generally-useful life; for
back here in 'Markland' he's long ago prepared a history of the
peninsula that deserve publishing. He can trace every Bluenose household
to its very beginning, and claims his own came to this side the sea in
the Mayflower. That's one reason he wants Melvin, the last of his race,
to make a name for it. Trust me he'll forage for our Dorothy better than
I could myself; but he isn't to disturb us with letters of theories or
'maybes.' When he gets his facts--hurrah for the _dénoûment_! Now, dear,
to your rest. The burdens of a peacemaker rest on your shoulders
but--you'll make and keep the peace. Good night."

After all, when the sun rose on the following morning and this oddly
assorted traveling party met to discuss the day's plans, each was so
rested and refreshed that an abnormal amiability pervaded the whole
group.

"What would you like to do best?" "Oh, no! You say!" "I'm sure whatever
the rest propose will be agreeable to me in the way of sight-seeing."
"Or even staying quietly at the hotel and just enjoying the outlook on
the sea."

Such were the remarks exchanged and with such suavity of manner that
Molly clapped her hands and cried:

"I declare, you're all too sweet to be wholesome! And it happens that I
know what _I_ want to do, even if you don't. Let's go away down to the
end, I mean the beginning, of the town where they are curing fish. I saw
them from the car window, and even then they were so interesting. I mean
the fish were. Or--or the things where they fixed them. And, beg pardon,
Mrs. Stark, even if you looked at that water all day long you couldn't
make it into a 'sea.' It's only a Basin, the fag end of Annapolis Basin.
Yonder, where there are so many sails and steamers, is the Bay of Fundy,
and to get to the really truly sea you must go beyond that. The reason
I'm so wise, if you want to know, is that I've been here twenty-four
hours longer than you and I improved my time by asking questions."

With that the little maid swept her new acquaintance a courtesy and
smiled so sweetly that any presumption on her girlish part was readily
forgiven. Besides she was a Breckenridge; and though Mrs. Stark had now
resolved to be as "democratic" as her new friends were it was easier
resolved than practiced. If it had been Dorothy who ventured to plan for
her elders her suggestions would have been coolly ignored.

The Judge drew near in time to hear the end of the talk and added:

"That is a sight we won't meet elsewhere in the same proportion as here.
Also, the walk will do us good, and we shall pass the postoffice on our
way. I like going for my own mail to the 'general delivery' better than
having it sent to the hotel. I like the mingling with the eager crowd
that waits before the little window to ask: 'Anything for me?' I like to
watch the faces of the people when they open their letters. One can
guess the 'home' ones by the expression of joy and the merely friendly
by the indifference. I like--"

"Dear Schuyler, spare us! If there's anything upon earth you _don't_
like that's even half-way interesting I can't guess it." Then turning to
Mrs. Stark, Mrs. Hungerford added: "Brother is like a boy when he gets
leave of absence, this way. Suppose you walk along with him and find out
if there is anything he _doesn't_ like along the way."

Her brother gave her an arch glance. Evidently she had begun her
peaceful adjustment of "assorted" temperaments by assigning himself to
Mrs. Stark's escort, though she knew all the time that he wanted to be
with the youngsters. She placed herself along side Miss Isobel, smiling
at that lady's inquiry if she were going into a public street without a
hat.

"Surely. 'When in Rome do as the Romans do,' you remember. And see.
Though most of the people have on some sort of wrap very few women are
bonneted and even the men carry their hats in hand. Brother has snatched
his off already."

The Judge was in front, attentively courteous and listening to Mrs.
Stark's remarks, yet seemed to have eyes in the back of his head; for
presently he asked:

"What are you youngsters lagging behind for? Dolly, take Melvin under
your shelter and make him tell you everything you want to know about
Digby. He's been here before many times, I've learned. And Molly, you
and Monty walk ahead if you please. I like to keep my eye on my own and
I fancy Mrs. Stark does too."

Separated from these two, who had been in the rear of the whole party,
Melvin did exert himself to overcome his abnormal shyness and to talk;
and when after proceeding a little way and his finding Dorothy eagerly
observant of even the most trivial things that were new to her, he had
an abrupt burst of courage--or was it a harmless spite against his
tormentor of the day before, Molly? Whatever it was that emboldened him,
he suddenly laid his hand on her arm and said:

"Wait just a minute! There comes a man I know. He's a transplanted
Yarmouthian who's moved to Digby to 'haul' for his livelihood. He'll be
glad to see me and hear the news from home; and won't want to waste time
in doing it. I'll ask him to give us a ride. I don't believe either of
you girls from the States ever did ride in such an equipage."

She had paused as he wished and was listening in surprise. As much
because he talked so well and so easily as at the really joyous tone in
which he hailed his uncouth acquaintance from "Home."

"Hello, Snackenberg! Here am I! Give me a ride?"

"Well, well, well! Son of all the Cooks! What you doin' here? Allowed
you was sailin' the 'blue and boundless' just about now!" cried the
teamster and leaning forward shook the lad so heartily by his own hard
hand that Melvin squealed and protested:

"Well, we can't stand here, you know. I'll just help this young lady
in--she's from the States--and you can jog on."

The team was of the sort that is always willing to stop, and the
"equipage" was easily entered by merely stepping into its open rear. It
swung low to the ground, after the fashion of Nova Scotian carts, and
for seats it had a bundle of clean straw.

In another moment the animals had been goaded to fresh effort, their
owner had turned about on the chain where he balanced himself for a seat
and also turned a corner into a side street that climbed the hill behind
the town. Then he ordered:

"Fire ahead! Tell everything you know; and I say, Sissy, did you ever
see a purtier pair of creeturs than them be? I'm prouder of 'em than I
could be of the finest team o' thoroughbreds ever stepped. Gee, there!
Haw, I tell ye!"

Beyond, at the postoffice, the truants had been suddenly missed; and
with varying degrees of anxiety their elders were asking one another:

"What do you suppose has become of Dorothy and that queer boy?"

But Molly was more vexed than anxious and she looked upon Monty with
rising disfavor. She guessed that they were having some fun from which
she was shut out and which Montmorency Vavasour-Stark would never have
had the originality to suggest.

"Oh! I wish I knew! Maybe they're eating each other up! Yesterday she
asked if he was a 'wildcat' and I told her 'yes.' Maybe, maybe--Oh! Why
did you make us walk in front, namby-pamby so, Papa dear? If we'd been
with them we'd know what they are doing and what has happened. Oh! dear!
If I hadn't been in front I'd have been behind!" she complained. Nor was
she greatly pleased by the laugh which her Irish-cism raised.



CHAPTER IX

AN OX-OMOBILE AND A SAILBOAT


Even Melvin had not expected that Dorothy and he would long be away from
the rest of the party, though he did not realize that he was in any wise
responsible to them, since his duties as camp-helper had not yet begun.
But he enjoyed his freedom from the society of so many strangers and
found Dorothy a pleasant companion. She might have been just another
boy, for any "nonsense" there was about her; and she was so delighted
with everything he pointed out that he, also, began to find new beauties
in the familiar scenery, and to grow eager to show her all he could.

For the teamster prolonged his journey to the very crest of the hill
behind the town, and made it slowly. He had so many questions to ask
concerning his old neighbors that he delayed all he reasonably could and
rather resented Melvin's attempts to entertain Dorothy.

"That's Point Prim lighthouse, yonder. See? Yes, Joel, Reuben Smith did
paint his house bright blue, just as he vowed he would to spite his
neighbor. That's Digby Gap, where the two hills come so near together in
the water. The boats that sail from here have to pass through it and
travelers say--No. I didn't hear what price that Company did get for its
last 'catch.' Lobsters haven't been running so free this year, I hear;
and there's another company started canning them. If Judge Breckenridge
stays long enough I hope he'll take you sailing up Bear River. It's a
nice drive there, too, but the sail is better. Up yonder is the
Joggin--Why, Joel, I'm sure I don't know. I hadn't heard."

Such was a sample of the talk which went on and which provoked from the
lad, at last, the comment:

"Learning under difficulties!" which he said with such an amused glance
toward Dorothy that she laughed and felt that Molly had been right in
her belief that "that boy has some fun in him." Thought of Molly made
her also exclaim:

"Oh! I do wish she were here! She would have liked this so much! I don't
believe she ever rode in an ox-cart either, any more than I did before.
How funny it is! And how much longer shall we be? I'm afraid I ought to
have asked Mrs. Hungerford or Miss Greatorex before I came. But I didn't
think. I never do think till--afterward."

"Glad of it. Glad you didn't, else likely you'd have lost the ride. Joel
doesn't call this an ox-cart, though. Not by any means. This, if you
please, is an 'ox-omobile,' and very proud of it he is. Guess you
needn't worry. Nobody can get lost in little Digby; and--Where now,
Joel? How much longer will you be?"

"Oh! I reckon not long. Just a little minute or few. Depends on folks
havin' their trunks ready to haul. Some towerists have been stopping up
here to one these houses and engaged me to take their luggage down to
the pier. They're goin' over to St. John, I reckon, only one of 'em.
She's goin' to the dee-po. When we go down hill you two may set on the
trunks--if you can!" and Mr. Snackenberg laughed at his own thoughts.

The trunks did happen to be ready. Indeed the "towerists" were even
impatient to be gone and were just starting to walk to the pier when the
carter arrived. They looked rather enviously at Dorothy and Melvin, so
comfortably seated in the cart, but its owner did not extend an
invitation to them to ride. Indeed, as he explained to his companions:

"If I was a mind I could have all Digby village a ridin' in my
'ox-omobile.' They seem to think it's powerful cunnin', as if they'd
never seen a team of oxen before. Where've they lived at, I'd like to
know, that they don't know an ox when they see it. There. Them trunks is
in. Now, Sissy, you just set right down and--You'll find out the rest."

The trunks did fill the cart pretty well but there was plenty of room to
put one's feet in the spaces between; and Dorothy fixed herself
comfortably, wondering why Melvin disdained to ride but strode along
beside the teamster who also walked. Throned in solitary state all went
well for awhile, until a corner was turned and the steep descent into
the town began. Then the trunks slid upon the slippery hay, resting
their weight against the chain at the rear, which alone prevented their
falling out; and after a few efforts to maintain her seat Dorothy also
sprang to the ground and joined the others.

"Ha, ha, ha! Ridin' up-hill and ridin' down is two quite different
things, ain't it, Sissy? Ever been to the pier to see the boat start
across the Bay to St. John's, New Brunswick? No? First time you been to
the Province? All right. You stick close to me and I'll p'int out all
the 'lions' there is to see. Melvin, here, can talk as glib as the next
one when he gets waked up, but I know more about Digby 'an he does. One
the sights towerists rave the most over is the fish-grounds. They're
right adj'ining the pier and you can kill them two 'lions' at once. Ha,
ha!"

"But, sir, I'm afraid I ought to go back. I mean--to where my friends
are. Is the pier on the road home?" asked Dorothy.

"All roads lead home--for somebody. The pier and the fish-curin' grounds
amongst 'em. Don't you vex yourself, Sissy. If you was to go from one
end to the other of this little town you couldn't never get fur from
where you live."

The truth was that the old teamster wanted to keep the young folks with
him as long as he could. There were still numberless questions he hadn't
put to Melvin and he had taken a fancy to Dorothy. If she was simply a
"towerist" she was, of course, an idler and it was of no consequence her
wasting her time. He hadn't learned yet why Melvin was here and if he
didn't find that out he felt he "couldn't bear it." So now he asked:

"Well, son of all the Cooks, what's fetched you here this time o' day?
Lost your job?"

"Not exactly. I've given it up. I'm tired of sailing back and forth over
the same old route and a friend of mine wanted to take my place. I'm
going to help a gentleman I know in his camping out. Cook, maybe, or
whatever he wants. Now--that's all. You needn't ask me how much I earn,
or what's next, or anything. You just go ahead and tell this Miss
Dorothy anything you fancy; since you know so much more of things than I
do."

"H'ity-t'ity! Miffed, be ye? Never mind. You'd ought to rest your
tongue, 'cause I 'low it's never wagged so fast afore in your whole
life. But I'm ekal to it. I'm ekal. I've growed to be a regular 'Digby
chicken,' I've tarried here so long already. Ever eat 'Digby chicken,'
Sissy?"

Joel was affronted in his own turn now and determined to ignore that
"Miss" which Melvin had pronounced so markedly. Joel wasn't used to
"Miss"-ing any girl of Dorothy's size and he wasn't going to begin at
his time of life. Not he!

Meanwhile, Melvin had relapsed into utter silence. He declined to answer
any of the teamster's further questions, and if his knowledge of the
locality had been quite as accurate as he had boasted he would have
suggested to the girl that they take a short-cut back to the hotel. Yet,
he had heard that teasing Molly say they were bound for the
fish-grounds. Beyond these lay, also, that notable Battery Point, with
its rusty old guns; its ancient, storm-bent trees; and the Indian
encampment still further along. He had seen tourists so many times that
he fancied they were all alike, full of curiosity, and with ample
leisure to gratify it. So, in all probability, the Judge and his friends
were still at that end of town and he had better stick to Joel till he
conducted the girl and him to their presence. Then he would himself
vanish until such time as the Judge might require his service.

They came to the pier and drove along its great length, the teamster
pointing out all sorts of interesting things, so that Dolly forgot all
else in her eager listening.

"Forty feet high the tide rises sometimes, right on this very p'int.
That's why it's built so lofty. Look over the edge. See that sloping
wharf clean down into the water? Well, sir, that's where folks land
sometimes; and other times away up top here. My heart! The pretty
creetur!"

Joel abruptly checked his team and stooped above something lying on the
wide planking of the pier. Then he lifted the object and handed it to
Dorothy, explaining:

"That's a poor little coddy-moddy! A little baby gull. Pity! Something's
hurt it, but it's alive yet. Makes me feel bad to see any young creetur
suffer; most of all to see a bird. Put it in the crook of your elbow,
Sissy, and fetch it along. I'll take it home with me and see if I can't
save its life."

After a moment he added, seeing her look wistful, as he thought:

"I'd give it to you, Sissy, but towering folks haven't no time nor
chance to tend sick birds. It'll be better off in my house than jogglin'
over railroads and steamboats."

There was sense in this as Dorothy rather reluctantly admitted, for she
would have liked to keep the "coddy-moddy" and made a pet of it. With
Joel, however, it would simply be cured and set free, or it would die in
peace. Also she was touched by the real tenderness with which the
rough-handed teamster made a nest in the straw of his cart and placed
the bird upon it.

He had first deposited the trunks in the baggage-room and there was
nothing to keep him longer; so with another whimsical glance at Melvin,
who had sauntered behind them, he remarked:

"Right this way to the fishin'-grounds! 'Stinks a little but nothin' to
hurt!'"

Then in the fatherly fashion which almost every man she met adopted
toward her, he held out his hand to Dorothy C. and led her back over the
pier and around to the broad field where numbers of men were salting and
piling the haddock and cod they had caught. The fish were piled in
circles or wheel-like heaps, after they were sufficiently dried; and the
fresher ones were spread upon long frames to "cure." It was a great
industry in that locality and one so interesting to Dorothy that she
wanted to linger and watch the toilers despite the decidedly "fishy"
odor which filled the air.

But Joel said that he must leave them then and, after pointing with his
whip to a grassy plain beyond the fishing-grounds, advised:

"Best step right over to the Battery, Sissy, now you're so nigh it. I've
learned in my life that things don't happen twice alike. Maybe you won't
be just here again in such terr'ble agreeable company--" and he
playfully touched Melvin on the shoulder--"and best improve it. And,
Sissy, strikes me you're real likely. Sort of a common sense sort of
little creetur without so many airs as some the girl-towerists put on.
If so be 't you stop a spell in Digby just tip me the wink and I'll haul
you with any load I happen to have on my 'Mobile.' Or, if so be we never
meet again on earth, be sure, little Sissy, 't you meet me in Heaven.
Good-by, till then."

Off he went and left Dorothy standing looking after him with something
very like tears in her brown eyes. Such a quaint figure he looked in his
long blue smock, his worn hat pushed to the back of his head, his sandy
beard sweeping his breast; jogging beside his beloved team, doing his
duty simply as he found it "in that state of life to which it had
pleased God to call him."

"He's a very religious man, Joel Snackenberg, and never loses a chance
to 'pass the word.' My mother sets great store by him and I must write
her about our meeting him. Shall we go to the Battery or back to the
hotel? Your friends don't--aren't anywhere in sight, so I suppose
they've gone there," remarked Melvin.

"Then we ought. Indeed, I feel afraid we've stayed too long; and yet I
can't be sorry, since we've met that dear old man."

Melvin had promptly recovered his "glibness" upon the departure of the
teamster; and though he looked at her in some surprise he answered:

"I don't believe many girls would call him 'dear.' I shouldn't have
thought of doing so myself. That Molly wouldn't, I know; but you have a
way of making folks--folks forget themselves and show their best sides
to you, so I guess. Anyhow, I never talked so much to any girl before,
and you're the only one in all that crowd I don't feel shy of. Even that
boy--Hmm."

"Thank you. That's the nicest thing I ever had said to me. And don't you
think that life--just the mere living--is perfectly grand? All the time
meeting new people and finding out new, beautiful things about them?
Like Mr. Snackenberg asking me to meet him in Heaven. It was certainly
an odd thing to say, it startled me, but it was beautiful--beautiful.
Now--do you know the road home?"

"Sure. We'll be there in five minutes."

"All right. Lead the way. And say, Melvin Cook, do one more nice thing,
please. Forgive my darling Molly for the prank she played on you and be
the same friendly way to her you've been to me."

"Well, I'll try. But I don't promise I'll succeed."

They hurried back over the main street of the town to their inn, past
the postoffice where a throng of tourists were still waiting for
possible mail, past the little shops with their tempting display of
"notions" representative of the locality, until they reached one window
in which some silverware was exposed for sale.

Something within caught Melvin's eye, and he laughed:

"Look there, miss."

"Dorothy, please!"

"Look there, Dorothy! There's your 'Digby chicken' with a vengeance!"
and he pointed toward some trinkets the dealer was exhibiting to
customers within. Among the articles a lot of tiny silver fish, labeled
as he had said, and made in some way with a spring so that they wriggled
from the tip of a pin, or guard, in typical fish-fashion.

"Oh! aren't they cute! How I would like to buy one! Do you suppose they
cost very much?" cried Dorothy, delighted.

"I'll ask," he said and did; and returning from the interior announced:
"Fifty cents for the smallest one, seventy-five for the others."

She sighed and her face fell. "Might as well be seventy-five dollars, so
far as I'm concerned. I have exactly five cents, and I shouldn't have
had that only I found it left over in my jacket pocket. You see, once I
had five dollars. How much is that in Nova Scotia money?"

"Just the same. Five dollars."

"Well, come on. I mustn't stand and 'covet,' but I would so love to have
that for Alfaretta. I promised to bring her something home and that
would please her to death!"

"Good thing she isn't to have it then!" he returned.

Dorothy laughed. "Course. I don't mean that. I'm always getting reproved
for 'extravagant language.' Miss Rhinelander says it's almost as bad as
extravagant--umm, doing. You know what I mean. Listen. I'll tell you how
I lost it, but we must hurry. I smell dinners in the houses we pass and
I reckon it's mighty late."

She narrated the story of her loss and her New York experiences in a few
graphic sentences; and had only concluded when they reached the hotel
piazza, bordering the street, and saw their whole party sitting there
waiting the dinner summons. The faces of the elders all looked a little
stern, even that of the genial Judge himself; and Molly promptly voiced
the thoughts of the company when she demanded:

"Well, I should like to know where you have been! We were afraid
something had happened, and I think it's mean, real mean I say, to scare
people who are on a holiday. Dorothy, child, where have you been?"

"Ox-omobiling," answered poor Dorothy, meekly, and feeling as if she
were confessing a positive crime.

"W-h-a-t?" gasped Molly amazed.

"Ox-omobiling. I didn't mean--"

"What in the world is that? Did you do it with that boy? Is
he--where--what--do tell and not plague me so."

"No. I did it with the man who--" Here culprit Dolly looked up and
caught the stern, questioning gaze of Mrs. Ebenezer Stark, and her wits
fled. "With Joel, and I'm to meet him in--in Heaven--right away."

Utter silence greeted this strange answer, part of which had been made
to Miss Greatorex's austere gesture. This signified on the lady's part
that her ward was late and hindering the meal and was so understood by
the frightened girl. She looked around for Melvin to corroborate her
statement but he had vanished. Having escorted her into sight of her
friends he considered his duty done and disappeared.

"Dorothy! You've been having adventures, I see, and have got things a
trifle 'mixed.' Best say no more now, till we all get over our
dinner-crossness and then tell us the whole story. Since you are safely
back no real harm is done; and, friends, shall we go in to table? The
second bell has rung," asked Mrs. Hungerford, smiling yet secretly
annoyed by the delay Dorothy's absence had caused.

The Judge had received more letters from his "Boys" and even more
urgent ones. That meant cutting short their stay in every town they
visited; even omitting some desirable places from their list. It had
been decided that they must leave Digby on Monday, the next day but one,
and they wished to utilize every moment of the time between in visiting
its most attractive points.

"Now, we'll take that ride. I was going to get Melvin to drive one small
rig with the young folks and I would drive another surrey with us
elders. He's taken himself off, though, so I'll just order a buckboard
that will hold us all," said the Judge, when they had rather hastily
finished their meal.

So they did, and presently the four-seated wagon with its four horses
and capable driver tooled up to the entrance and the party entered it.
All but Monty Stark. Much to his mother's annoyance and regret, that
young gentleman firmly objected to the trip.

"I don't want to go. I hate driving. I don't care a rap for all the
lighthouses or Bear Rivers in the world. I'd rather stay right here and
watch the fishermen. I never had such a chance to see them so close at
hand and--I--do--not want--to go."

"Montmorency, darling! Don't turn nasty and spoil all poor Mamma's
pleasure, don't. I can't see what's the matter with you, dear? You have
been positively disagreeable ever since we took that walk. Did you get
too tired, lovey? Is Mamma's baby boy ill?"

"Oh! Mamma, please! I _shall_ be ill if you don't quit molly-coddling
me, as if I were an infant in arms."

They were speaking apart and in low tones, so that she caught but the
word "Molly" and instantly inquired:

"Is it that girl, dearest? Has she been behaving badly to you? You
mustn't mind her sharp tongue, she's only a--a Breckenridge!"

"Yes, she has been behaving outrageously. She's made me feel as cheap as
two cents. Just because I couldn't think of any remarkably funny thing
to do in this horrid old town--Oh! go on, and let me be. I'm not mad
with you, Mamma, but I shan't go on that ride and be perched on a seat
with either of those wretched girls, nor any old woman either, for the
whole afternoon. Do go--they're waiting, and they'll wish no Starks had
ever been born. I guess they wish it already."

Perforce, she had to go; but it wasn't a happy drive for her. If her
adored Monty was disgruntled over anything she felt the world a gloomy
place. She did exert herself to be agreeable to the Judge, who sat
beside her, yielding his place on the driver's seat to Molly, whose
manner was almost as "crisp" as Montmorency's own. But she would rather
have stayed behind to look after her son; and had she known what was to
happen on that sunshiny afternoon she would have been even more sorry
that she had not followed her inclination.

However, at that moment there was no cloud upon the day; and no sooner
had the buckboard disappeared from sight than Montmorency Vavasour-Stark
performed a sort of jig on the hotel verandah, threw up his cap, gave a
loud Brentnor "yell" and dashed up the stairs to his room as fast as his
short fat legs could move. Thence he soon reappeared, clad in his
"athletics"--of which a broad-striped blue-and-white sweater attracted
much attention.

He had now become "plain boy." He had shed the "young gentleman" with
vigor and completeness and was bent upon any sort of "lark" that would
restore his usual good nature and complacency. He had observed whither
disappeared the various bell-boys when off duty and meant "to stir up"
one of them if nothing better offered.

Something better did offer, in the shape of Melvin Cook; calmly munching
a slice of bread and butter in the stable-yard and as rejoiced as Monty
himself to be quit for a time of women and girls and "manners" in
general.

Montmorency hadn't been attracted before to this "son of all the Cooks,"
who was so fair of face and slender of build, but now he reflected that
if he obtained permission to go into camp with the "Boys," and the
Judge, Melvin would, perforce, be his daily companion. As well begin now
as ever then; so he accosted the bugler with the question:

"Say, can't you get up something dandy for the rest of the day? We've
shed those folks till dark, I guess, and I'm dying for anything doing.
Eh?"

"I've hired a sail boat and am going out alone, except for Tommy here."

Tommy was the most juvenile of all the bell-boys, a lad of not more than
ten, who tried to appear quite as old as these others and who now
strutted forward announcing:

"Yes, me and him is going out in the 'Digby Chicken.' A tidy craft but
we'll manage her all right, all right."

"Cock-a-doodle-doo!" cried Monty, patting the child's shoulder and
incidentally slipping a quarter into the little fellow's open palm; for
it was a habit of the richer lad to bestow frequent tips whenever he
journeyed anywhere, enjoying the popularity this gave him with his
"inferiors."

"A sail-boat? Can you manage a sail-boat, Melvin Cook, by yourself
without a man to help you?" he demanded in sincere astonishment.

"Feel that!" answered Melvin, placing Monty's hand upon his "muscle."
"There's a bit of strength in that arm, eh, what? And you may not know
that I come of a race of sailors and have almost lived upon the water
all my life. Manage a sail-boat? Huh! If you choose to come along I'll
show you."

Ten minutes later they were moving out in a their frail craft from the
little pier across the street from the hotel; Melvin for skipper, Tommy
for mate, and Montmorency for a passenger. That was the beginning. It
did not dawn upon any of the trio what the ending of that sail would be.



CHAPTER X

WHAT BEFELL A "DIGBY CHICKEN"


The second bell for the last meal of the day had again rung, and again
the Breckenridge party waited on the verandah for delinquents. Mrs.
Stark positively declined to enter the dining-room until she had found
out what had become of Montmorency. Mrs. Hungerford as positively
declined to leave Mrs. Stark, and the Judge's temper was again being
sorely tried. Their twenty-mile drive and sight-seeing had sharpened
appetites that already were quite sharp enough and the eminent jurist
wanted his supper. To walk off his impatience, if he could, he paced up
and down the long verandah at a brisk rate, which did not tend to allay
that uncomfortable feeling in his "inner man."

The hotel proprietor left the dining-room, where he personally
superintended the serving of his guests, and joined the Judge, advising
and complaining:

"We've the usual Saturday, week-end crowd in the house and I'd like to
have your party get through in yonder soon's you can, if you please.
I'm driven half-crazy, nights like this, by the demands and exactions
of these transient people. I need every man-jack of the help and
somebody says that Tommy has gone off with your lads. Tommy is small but
he's the best bell-boy in the house and--I'll trounce him well when he
gets back for serving me such a trick. Best get your dinner now, Judge,
or I'll not promise you'll be able to later. Excuse me for urging, it's
in your own interest, and--There comes another load from somewhere! and
I haven't a room to give them. Cots in the parlor, if they choose,
nothing better?"

With that he hurried to meet the newcomers and the Judge said to Aunt
Lu:

"We certainly should go in to table now. It does no good to sit here and
wait. That doesn't bring the runaways any sooner and they'd ought to go
without their suppers if they're so thoughtless of our comfort. Mrs.
Stark, won't you come?"

Then he observed that the lady was weeping copiously. It was now fixed
in her mind that Monty was drowned. She had been told that he had gone
sailing with that other dreadful bugler-boy the Judge had picked up,
and, of course, this was the only explanation of his absence. She
refused to be comforted and would have gone out in a boat herself to
search for her son had she felt this would be of the slightest use.
Indeed, she was fast becoming hysterical, and Mrs. Hungerford shook her
head negatively when her brother begged her to leave her post and come
with him.

"Very well, then, sister, Miss Greatorex and the girls and I will go
without you. Afterward, when the boys come, I'll try to have a special
meal served for you somewhere. If I can! Come, Molly, Dolly; and I'm
glad that you, Miss Greatorex, have some sense."

So they departed and finding that Mrs. Stark was attracting the
attention of the other guests upon the piazza, Aunt Lucretia persuaded
her to cross the street to the pavilion that stood upon the bluff above
the water and that was now deserted.

"From there we can see the boat as soon as it approaches, dear Mrs.
Stark, and I feel sure you've no cause for such anxiety. Doubtless the
boys have been fishing and have not realized how long. It is still
bright daylight yonder and these are glorious moonlight nights. Even if
they stayed out till bedtime they could see all right enough."

Mrs. Stark followed the advice to seek the pavilion; yet simply because
it brought her that much nearer her lost darling. But when a tray of
supper was sent out to the two ladies there she refused to touch it and
her grief spoiled her companion's appetite as well.

After a little time Miss Greatorex and the girls retired to their rooms,
at the Judge's advice. He too had at last become infected with the
anxious mother's forebodings and felt that there was no need for Molly
and Dolly to be also frightened. Then he joined the watchers in the
pavilion, where the other guests refrained from disturbing them,
although it was a favorite resort on pleasant evenings.

Many a boat came back to the various small piers extending from the
shore into the water, here and there, but none was the little "Digby
Chicken." Her owner took his place at the end of the pier and sat down
to wait. Of all his boats she was the newest and prettiest. She had
sailed out into the sunlight glistening with white paint, her new sail
white and unstained, and on her shining hull a decoration of herring
surrounding her red-lettered name. It had been the builder's conceit to
omit the name, the string of painted fish answering for it to all but
"foreigners;" but as it had been built for the use of these "foreigners"
or "tourists" the printed words had finally been added.

Minutes passed. Quarter-hours; an hour; two of them; even three. There
was no longer any moonlight. The distant cliffs and headlands became
invisible. One could only guess where the Gap strove to close the
entrance to an outer world. The hotel verandah became more and more
deserted, and one by one the lights in the upper windows shone out for a
time, then disappeared. Gradually all lights vanished save those in the
lobby and a faint glimmer from a corridor above.

Though wraps has been early sent out to the anxious watchers in the
pavilion, now heavy steamer rugs were brought, to keep out that
penetrating chill. The Judge had on his heaviest overcoat and yet
shivered, himself covering his long legs with a thick blanket. He had
made several efforts to induce Mrs. Stark to go indoors but all had
failed.

The fog that was slowly rising when the boat-owner took his station on
the little quay below had crept nearer and nearer into shore, and
finally enveloped everything and hidden it. So dense it was that from
his bench on one side the circular pavilion the Judge could barely make
out the white pillars on its opposite side. A lamp had been lighted in
the roof but against this Mrs. Stark had vehemently protested, because
it made that wall of white mist seem closer and more impenetrable, and
without it she fancied that her eye could still pierce the distance,
still discover any incoming craft.

About midnight the wind rose and the fog began to thin and scatter. The
boatman on the pier had long ago left it, forced off by the rising tide,
and now sat floating in one of the row-boats fastened there. He had put
on his oilskins and set his oars in readiness for the first sign of
distress on the face of the waters; but he had about given up hope of
his pretty "Digby Chicken." That a couple of touring lads, even though
one had protested that he was a good sailor, that these should come
safely through a night like this seemed unlikely; but now that the wind
was rising and the fog lifting, he drew his boat close under the pole at
the pier's end and lighted the lantern which swung there. There was now
a chance that its gleam might be seen from beyond and there had been
none before.

Then another time of waiting, which ended with the boatman pulling out
from shore. The watchers above had heard nothing, had not even seen him
leave, although the lantern had faintly shown him riding upon the wave,
moored to the pier by a rope.

But now, rubbing her strained eyes to clear their vision Mrs. Stark
broke the long silence with a cry:

"The man! He isn't there? He's gone--to meet them!"

She was as sure of this now as she had been before that her son was
drowned, and Mrs. Hungerford slipped an arm about her waist in pity. She
dared not think what the result would be of a fresh disappointment.

However, their long vigil was really ended. The trained ear of the
boatman had caught a faint halloo from somewhere on the water and had
rowed toward the sound with all his strength and speed. At intervals he
had paused to answer and to listen--and the now swiftly dispersing fog
enabled him also to see--and finally to utter a little malediction under
his breath. It scarcely needed the glass he raised to show him the
"Digby Chicken" riding quietly on the water not more than half a league
off shore. Her sail was furled, she looked taut and trim, and he could
discern a figure at her prow which raised its arms and again hallooed.

"All's well that ends well." But it might not have been so well. The
full story of that night's work did not transpire at once. All that Mrs.
Stark knew was that she had her son once more within her close embrace;
that he had been helped, even carried, up the narrow pier and placed
dripping within her arms. She ascribed his soaked condition to the fact
of the fog and not to the truth; and it was not until daylight came that
he told her that. Then lying warm in his bed, with her hovering over him
in a flutter of delight and reproof, he announced:

"I tell you, Mamma, the only folks that amount to anything in this world
are the poor ones!"

"Very likely, love, very likely. Only don't distress yourself any more.
I can't forgive that wretched little bugling boy for taking you out in
that horrible boat and nearly killing you. You're very apt to have
pneumonia or something--Don't you feel pretty ill now?"

"Mamma, _you can't forgive him?_ What do you mean? Didn't anybody tell?"

"Tell what, lovey. I certainly didn't stop to ask questions. All I cared
for was to get you into bed and a warm breakfast or supper or whatever
it is sent up."

"Then you don't know that but for Melvin Cook I should be lying at the
bottom of the Basin now, instead of in this bed?" demanded Monty,
raising himself on his elbow.

The pallor that overspread his mother's face was answer enough, and he
blamed himself for the question. Even without knowing the worst truth
she had evidently worried herself ill. But the mischief was done and
when she asked: "What do you mean?" he thought it best to tell. Moreover
he was anxious that she should know of Melvin's bravery at once. So he
answered:

"Well, I made a fool of myself. He had tackle and we fished along, just
for nothing hardly, and I got cocky and jiggled the boat. Then when he
said I'd better not but ought to lend a hand in working her and 'learn
sense,' I--Well, I don't remember exactly what happened after that; only
I got up on the gunwale, or edge of the 'Chicken' and the next I knew I
was in the water. It all came over me in a flash that I couldn't swim
and would drown and I shut my eyes and tried to say a prayer. But I
couldn't think, and then I felt something grab me. It was that Melvin.
He'd tossed off his jacket and dove for me and was dragging me to the
surface and the boat. I tried to get hold of him tighter but he kicked
me off and said if I did that we'd both go down. I thought we would,
anyhow, so I did let go and then he got me to the boat, yanking me by
the collar and--that was all for a good while. I--I was pretty sick I
guess. I'd swallowed so much salt water and all. He and Tommy rubbed me
and jounced me around and paid no attention to the boat, that kept
drifting further out all the time.

"I don't remember much else. I lay on the bottom of the thing and the
boys put their coats over me to stop my shivering. Melvin said afterward
that I shivered from fear and shock more than from dripping, too, but
he couldn't stop for that. He had to try to get back to shore and the
fog was rising.

"Tommy told me a good deal, later on when I felt better. He said the fog
got so thick Melvin was afraid to try and sail lest we should bump into
some other craft. So we lay still till--I guess you know the rest. Now I
want to hear, has anybody coddled either of those boys--heroes, both of
'em--as you've coddled me? If they haven't been treated right I'll make
it lively for somebody. Anyhow, I want to get up and dress. I'm ashamed
of myself. When I see how other boys act I think I've been--Well, I
won't call your lovey-dovey hard names! But you hear me say: I'll be a
man after this or--or know the reason why!"

It certainly was a long speech for a sick boy as Mrs. Stark persisted in
considering him; and it left her shaken and most undecided on various
points. Upon one, however, she was fully set; she would cut this Nova
Scotia trip short at once. She would telegraph her husband in Boston and
follow her telegram, bag and baggage, by that afternoon's train. With
this resolve in mind she left the room; merely bidding her son "lie
still till I come back."

Then she descended to the hotel office and called for a telegraph blank.

This was courteously provided; also pen and ink with which to inscribe
it, which she promptly did, then the following dialogue:--

"Please send this message at once, clerk."

"Sorry, Madam, but I can't do it. Not to-day."

"Why not?" haughtily.

"Office is closed. No despatches sent on Sunday. Can do it about seven
A. M. Monday."

"You mean to tell me that ridiculous stuff? Where is the office? If this
second-rate hotel can't accommodate its patrons I'll take it myself."

"The office is at the railway station, Madam. You will find it closed."

"Indeed? Well, when does the first train start for Yarmouth and a
steamer for the States, either Boston or New York?"

"At ten o'clock Monday morning. Upon arrival at Yarmouth meets steamers
for both ports, Madam."

"None, to-day?"

"None, Madam. It is a law of the Province. From Saturday night to Monday
morning all traffic is suspended."

Mrs. Stark did not continue the dialogue. She couldn't. She was too
astonished and too indignant. That she, Mrs. Ebenezer Stark, wife of the
great banker of that name, should not be able to control a matter of
this sort was simply incredible. With her head very high she left the
desk and sought the Judge in his quiet corner of the piazza, where he
sat, newspaper over face, trying to catch "forty winks" after his night
of scant sleep.

He suppressed a yawn as he rose at the lady's call.

"Judge Breckenridge, a moment, if you please. Sorry to disturb you but
it's most important. I want to send a telegram and that ridiculous
clerk says I can't do it."

"Quite right. I'd like to myself and can't."

He placed a chair for her and she thoroughly aired her grievance. He
sympathized but declared himself powerless to help her. She remarked:

"It is simply outrageous. A trap to keep visitors here whether or no. My
husband will make it his business to alter the whole thing. I must go
and take Monty away from here. I am in fear for his life. I shan't rest
till I see him safe back in his father's arms."

The Judge listened courteously, but said:

"We tourists have no business to find fault with the laws the
Provincials make for themselves. We'd resent their interference in the
States. As for taking your son away, just because of a little accident
which ended all right, aren't you making a mistake? In any case, since
you cannot get away till to-morrow, anyway, wouldn't it be wise for you
to rest now and recuperate from your night of anxiety? Unless you will
join us in church-going. Lucretia never lets me off that duty, even if I
were inclined, but I'm not. Like herself I always enjoy service in
strange churches. We would be most happy to have you?"

"Thank you, but I couldn't. Not to-day. I'm too upset and weary. I
couldn't leave my darling boy, either, after he's just been rescued from
a--a watery grave. He's just told me that he fell, or was pushed
overboard, and that the bugling boy was scared and helped him out. Oh!
it makes me cold all over just to think of it!"

The Judge was no longer sleepy. His tone was sharp and judicial as he
asked:

"Is that the version Montmorency gave of the affair?"

Then when she hesitated to answer, he added:

"Because I have heard quite a different one. I wormed it out of little
Tommy, whom Melvin had threatened with punishment if he betrayed the
really heroic part the 'bugling boy' played in the case. Doubly brave
because, though he has tried his best to overcome it, Melvin has a
horror of the sea. His father was drowned and if he followed his
inclination the orphaned lad would never leave dry ground. But his race
is a sea-faring one, and he knows that it may only be by following the
profession of his forebears that he can ever earn a living for himself
and his mother--though I should have put her first, as she certainly is
in her son's thoughts. When Montmorency fooled and fell overboard--by no
means was pushed--Melvin conquered his own horror and plunged after him.
If he hadn't--Well, we shouldn't be talking so calmly together now, you
and I."

Poor Mrs. Stark! She was torn and tossed by more emotions than had ever
been hers during her easy life, and each emotion was at variance with
another. She dropped into a chair to collect herself; and at the end of
a few moments remarked:

"If that is the case I will do something for the boy. Whatever amount
of money you think suitable, I will give you a check for."

He wanted to retort sharply, but he didn't. He forced himself to say
quite gently:

"No payment, Mrs. Stark, would prove acceptable. In his victory over
himself and his own cowardice Melvin has grown richer than any dollars
could make him. If you will pardon my advice, don't offer him anything
save kindness and don't make that too conspicuous. A shy boy needs
careful handling."

He bowed as she now rose and went her way, a very thoughtful woman. But
her heart rejoiced beyond expression that no matter what the details of
the night's episode had been, her best-loved object in this world was
safe and sound. She would go to him and basking in the sunshine of his
beloved presence content herself as best she could, until tomorrow's
trains should bear them both away.

Alas! When she came to the room where she had left him she found no
chance to "bask." Her "sunshine" had again disappeared.



CHAPTER XI

IN EVANGELINE LAND


The obliging operator at the telegraph office was almost at her wits'
end. She had never been besieged so early in the morning and required to
send so many lengthy messages, nor have them come crowding one another
so confusingly. The strange part of it all was that although they were
intended for one person, a Mr. Ebenezer Stark of Boston, there were
three persons telegraphing him.

One was a stout lady of exceedingly fashionable appearance and most
peremptory manner. As seemed fitting the first reply of Mr. Ebenezer
Stark was for her, and assured her that he would meet her at the wharf,
with a carriage, upon the arrival of the first steamer out from
Yarmouth. It also informed her that he had already sent her word by
post--that letter could follow her home--of the dangerous illness of her
mother and that she should make all possible haste. Thus far her message
suited him exactly. He made no mention of their son nor did she. It went
without saying that Monty would accompany his mother upon her return
trip.

Judge Breckenridge was also an early riser. He had met Monty hurrying
down the back street toward the little railway station and the office in
its corner, and had greeted him with gay surprise:

"Heigho, lad! Whither so fast and so early?"

"Trying to get ahead of Mamma."

"Why, Montmorency!" cried the gentleman, with an assumed sternness yet a
twinkle in his eye.

"Fact. She's on the road somewhere, but she had to wait for them to
hitch up a rig first. Thinks she can't walk these few blocks alone, I
suppose, and didn't suspect I could have escorted her. But 'Lovey'
didn't tell her his plans till he knows if he can carry them out. But
I'm glad to see you. I didn't want to do anything sort of underhand with
you, you know. Say, Judge, does your invitation to go camping still hold
good? After my looking such a muff and acting it?"

"Certainly. If your parents permit, I shall be glad to have you. I think
that a few weeks' association with men like my friends would give you a
new idea of true manliness; and I can promise you to hear more good
stories from the 'Boys' than you ever heard in your life."

"Thank you, sir. I'm going to wire Papa to let me stay. What he says
goes, even with Mamma. He lets her have her way about my school, and
clothes and all that stuff, but he hasn't ever quite let go of me
himself. If it hadn't been for Papa I'd be a bigger muff than I am now.
Only he's so awfully absorbed in business that he never takes a
vacation himself or does anything except pile up the cash and shove it
out for Mamma to spend. Beg pardon, I've no business to tell you, or
bother you, with our affairs. I only wanted to know in case he says
'Yes.'"

They were almost at the end of their short walk and the Judge's face
lightened with a whimsical expression, as he answered:

"Well, Monty lad, muffs are mighty handy sometimes. I heard Lucretia say
they wore them large last winter! If I take a muff into camp I shall
expect it to add to the general comfort of the party. Ready to warm the
heart of anybody who happens to get lonely or out of sorts."

"This muff will do its duty, sir. You'll see; if--"

He left his sentence unfinished and although his response was delayed
till after Mrs. Stark's had been received he did not complain of it, but
smilingly handed it to the Judge to peruse.

His outward telegram had been:

"Papa, let me stay;" and the incoming one was: "All right. Stay."

He did not inform his mother why he was there at the office so early and
she did not inquire. She attributed it to his filial affection and was
accordingly touched by it. She petted him as usual, and carried him back
to the hotel in her phaeton, while she thrilled with satisfaction at the
knowledge she could at last get away from a benighted region where no
Sunday trains were run.

The Judge's messages were last, and the longest. His outgoing one gave
Mr. Ebenezer Stark a sketchy outline of his vacation plans, announced
the gentlemen who would share it with him, and added a formal invitation
for Montmorency to be of the party, if agreeable to the lad's friends.
Mr. Stark's reply was heartily grateful, expressed his appreciation of
the Judge's courtesy and good nature in "loading himself with a boy of
the calf age. A calf of good enough pedigree, but needed turning out to
pasture away from the mother," and a little more to that nature.

The rub came when trunks were being packed and Montmorency announced
that his "things" needn't be put in; except the "dudish" ones which he
wouldn't want in a vacation camp.

Mrs. Stark was so astonished that she was silent and during that
interval her son talked and explained with a rapidity that left her no
chance for reply. "Father says so," was the final argument that clinched
the matter; and she wisely refrained from further controversy,
reflecting that "Father" might alter his opinion when she had met him
and reported the true state of things. Then he would, of course,
promptly recall his son and heir from a region so fraught with dangers
and temptations as this Province.

Therefore, the parting was effected with less friction than Monty had
anticipated, and he watched the train that bore his too-solicitous
mother out of sight with a delight that, for the present, knew no
regret. He was fully in earnest to "make a man" of himself, and felt
that he would be better able to succeed if freed from the indulgence
which had surrounded him from his cradle.

After allowing himself the relief of one "pigeon-wing" on the
station-platform, he sprang up to the steps at the rear of the hotel
stage which had brought departing guests to the train and hugged Tommy,
perched there, till the little fellow squealed.

"Good enough, Tommy boy! I'm to rough it now to my heart's content. Ever
been hunting or fishing in the woods, younker?"

"Yep. Go most every year--that is, I've been once--with the Boss. He's
the best hunter anywhere's around. It was him got all those moose and
caribou heads that are in the lobby. Oh! you bet it's cracky! I'm going
this fall if--if I'm let, and my mother don't make me go to school."

"Mothers--Well, mothers have a bad way of spoiling a fellow's fun, eh,
lad? But after all, they're a pretty good arrangement. I hope my
mother'll have a good trip over to Boston; and see? Look there?"

With that he pulled from his pocket a handful of silver, explaining that
when she traveled Mrs. Stark always provided herself with a large
quantity of "change" expressly for "tips," and that she had generously
handed the amount on to her son, since she was simply "going home" and
wouldn't need it.

"More in my suit-case, too, Tommy. But--I'm going to give it all away
the minute I get back to the hotel."

Tommy's eyes almost bulged from his head, as he ejaculated in intense
amazement:

"You _never!_"

"Fact. I'm going to begin right now."

Tommy nearly fell off the step. There in his own small hand lay the
greater part of what had been in Montmorency's, but he couldn't believe
in his own good fortune. Despite the tips he received at the hotel--they
were neither many nor generous--master Thomas Ransom was a very poor
little fellow. He held his position at the inn by the fact that he was
willing to work "for his board" and whatever the guests might chance to
bestow upon him. The landlord had the name of a "skin-flint," whether
justly or not the boarders didn't know.

It was to his interest, however, to serve _them_ well and he did it; but
it was rumored that the "help" fared upon the leavings of the guests'
plates, and in that atmosphere of healthy appetites such leavings were
scant. Anyway, Tommy was always hungry, and the fact showed in his
pinched, eager little face.

"You're foolin'. Here 'tis back;" he finally gasped, extending his hand
toward Monty with a pitiful attempt at a smile.

"Fooling? Not one bit. You put that where it's safe, and the first
chance you get run into the village to some restaurant and get yourself
a good square meal. Then go to the circus, if you want. I see by the
placards that one is coming."

"Oh! Pshaw! I don't know what to say. But, if you do mean it, I ain't
going to no restaurant. I'm going home to my mother the first leave off
I get and give it to her. She can't make her rent hardly, sewing, and
she'll cook a dinner for me to the queen's taste! Wish you'd come and
eat it with us."

"Wish I could," answered Monty, with a warm glow in his heart. He hadn't
often had such a look of rapturous gratitude turned upon him and it gave
him a most delightful sensation. "But you see we're off by the afternoon
train. Going to hurry along now till we get into camp. See you later,
maybe."

Then they were at the hotel entrance and master Tommy made haste to
bestow his treasure in the safest place he knew until his brief hour of
recreation should arrive and he could take it home. But how he worked
that day! Even the keen-eyed proprietor could find no manner of fault
with the nimble little fellow, who answered bells like a flash, so
smilingly trotted about with pitchers of ice-water, and so regretfully
watched the departure of the Breckenridge party from the house. And in
justice to him be it said this regret was after all and most sincerely
for the courteous treatment all of them had given him.

"Some folks--_some_ folks think a bell-boy hain't no feelings, but I
might ha' been--Why, I might ha' been _them_, their own folks, so nice
they all were to me;" thought the lad, watching the afternoon train
bearing them all away, and secretly wiping the tears from his eyes.
However, even for him, deserted as his childish heart felt then, there
was comfort. The circus was coming to-morrow! It would be his day off
and he had the money to pay for his ticket and one for Ma!

The train was nearing Wolfville where the travelers were to leave it for
a brief visit to "Evangeline land" before proceeding to Halifax whence
the campers would set out. Aunt Lucretia had checked off the various
stations from her time-table and now announced:

"Better get your things together, everybody. Next stop will be ours."

Then Montmorency Vavasour-Stark got his courage to the sticking point
and went forward to where the Judge stood looking through the car door
at the landscape whirling by.

"Judge Breckenridge will you do me a favor? Another one, I mean, for
you've done a lot already."

"Certainly, if it's within my power."

"It is, easy enough. I want you to take this and keep it for me. I want
to actually give it away, or put it beyond my reach. I've been thinking
it's the boys without money that amount to something. I want to make
myself poor and see if I'm worth 'shucks' aside from my father's cash."

He held out a fat pocketbook but, for a moment, the Judge did not
appear to see it. He looked the lad critically over, his keen, but
kindly eyes interested and yet doubtful. Then he said:

"I don't like whimsies. A person who makes a resolution and doesn't keep
it weakens rather than strengthens his character. Have you the slightest
idea what it means to be 'poor,' or even like Melvin back yonder, who
has but a very small wage to use for his own?"

"I don't suppose I have. But I'd like to try it during all the time I'm
over here in the Province. What I mean is that you should pay all my
necessary expenses just as you pay for the others; and beyond that I
don't want a cent."

"Melvin will earn a little for his work in camp. He is to cook and do
whatever is needed. There will be an Indian guide with us, and he, of
course, will have his regular price per day, or week. Beyond these two
helpers we 'Boys' will do everything else ourselves. It is our custom. I
can't hire you and pay you, as an extra. If that were done it would have
to be by some other of the party and it's not likely."

The gentleman's tone was more grave than the lad felt was necessary, but
it made him reflect a little deeper himself. At last he again offered
the purse, saying:

"I mean it. It's my chance. The first one I ever had to see if I can
deny myself anything. Please try me."

"Very well, lad, and I congratulate you on the pluck that makes the
effort. However--your last chance! Once made, once this pocketbook
passes into my care it becomes mine for the rest of our stay together."

"All right, sir. That's exactly what I want."

"Do you know how much is in it?"

"To a cent. And it's a great deal too much for a good-for-nothing like
me."

"Don't say that, Montmorency. I wouldn't take a 'good-for-nothing'
under my care for so long a time. You forget I already have a 'muff'
on hand. I congratulate myself, this time, on having secured a
'good-for-something.' Ah! here we are!"

The Judge took the purse and coolly slipped it into his own pocket,
merely adding:

"I will also count the contents and make a note of them as soon as I
can. As your expenses have been paid by yourself until now we'll begin
our account from this moment. When we part company, soon or late, you
shall have an itemized account of all that is used from your store."

Then the conductor came through the car calling:

"Wolfville! All out for Wolfville!"

"Out" they were all, in a minute, and again the "Flying Bluenose" was
speeding on toward the end of its route.

"This is the nearest, or best, point from which to make our excursion to
Grand Pré and old Acadia, which our beloved Longfellow made famous by
his poem. You'll find yourselves 'Evangelined' on every hand while
you're here. Glad it's so pleasant. We won't have to waste time on
account of the weather."

They found comfortable quarters for the night and longer if desired and
were early to bed. The girls to dream of the hapless maid whose story
thrilled their romantic souls; and Molly went to sleep with an abridged
copy of the poem under her pillow.

Early in the morning she and Dorothy took a brisk walk through the
pretty village and peered into the shop windows where, indeed, the name
"Evangeline" seemed tacked to most articles of commerce. So frequently
was it displayed that when they met a meditative cow pacing along the
dewy street Molly exclaimed:

"I wonder if that's Evangeline's 'dun white cow,' whatever 'dun white'
may be like. She looks ancient enough and--Oh! she's coming right toward
us!"

Molly was afraid of cows and instinctively hid herself behind Dolly, who
laughed and remarked:

"Poor old creature! She looks as if she might have lived in the days of
the Acadians, she's so thin and gaunt. Yet the whole street is
grass-bordered if she chose to help herself. But isn't this glorious?
Can you hardly wait till we get to Grand Pré? It's only a few miles away
and I'd almost rather walk than not."

"You'll not be let to walk, mind that. My father has had enough of
things happening to us youngsters. I heard him tell Auntie Lu that none
of us must be allowed out of sight of some of them, the grown-ups, till
we were landed safe on that farm, and Auntie laughed. She said she
agreed with him but she wasn't so sure about even a farm being utterly
safe from adventures. So we'll all have to walk just niminy-piminy till
then. We shouldn't be here if Miss Greatorex hadn't said she too wanted
to 'exercise.' Now, she's beckoning to us and we must turn back. Come
away from staring over into that garden! That hedge of sweet-peas is not
for you, honey, badly as you covet it!"

"All right, I'll come. But I wish, I wish Father John could see them. I
never saw any so big and free-blooming as they are in this beautiful
Province."

"It's the moisture and coolness of the air, Auntie Lu says. Now, Miss
Greatorex, do make Dolly Doodles walk between us, else she'll never tear
herself away from the lovely gardens we pass."

But they were not late to breakfast, nevertheless. They had learned at
last that nothing so annoyed the genial Judge as want of punctuality. He
planned the hours of his day to a nicety and by keeping to his plans
managed to get a great deal of enjoyment for everybody.

Already carriages to take them on the drive to Grand Pré and the old
Acadian region had been ordered and were at the door when they had
breakfasted and appeared on the piazza. The two girls were helped into
the smaller open wagon where Melvin sat holding the reins and visibly
proud of the confidence reposed in him, and on the front seat of this
the Judge also took his place. The ladies with Monty and a driver
occupied the comfortable surrey; and already other vehicles were
entering the hotel grounds, engaged by other tourists for the same trip.

Monty looked back with regret at the other young folks and longed to ask
the Judge to exchange places; then laughed to himself as he remembered
that it was no longer his place to ask favors--a penniless boy as he had
become!

That was a never-to-be-forgotten day for all the party. No untoward
incident marked it, but so well-known is the story of that region that
it needs no repetition here. Of course they visited the famous well
whence "Evangeline" drew water for her herd, and almost the original
herd might have fed in the meadow surrounding it, so peaceful were the
cattle cropping the grass there. They saw the "old willows" and the
ancient Covenanter church, wherein they all inscribed their names upon
the pages of a great book kept for that special purpose.

The church especially interested Dorothy, with its quaint old pulpit and
sounding board, its high-backed pews and small-paned windows; and when
she wandered into the old burying ground behind, with its
periwinkle-covered graves, a strange sadness settled over her.

The whole story had that tendency and the talk of "unknown graves"
roused afresh in her mind the old wonder:

"Where are my own parents' graves, if they are dead? Where are _they_ if
they are still alive?"

With this in mind and in memory of these other unknown sleepers whose
ancient head-stones had moved her so profoundly, she gathered from the
confines of the field a bunch of that periwinkle, or myrtle which grew
there so abundantly. Thrusting this into the front of her jacket she
resolved to pack it nicely in wet moss and send it home to Alfaretta,
with the request that she would plant it in the cottage garden. Then she
rejoined the others at the gate and the ride was continued to another
point of interest called "Evangeline Beach." Why or wherefore, nobody
explained; yet it was a pretty enough spot on the shore where a few
guests of a near-by hotel were bathing and where they all stopped to
rest their horses before the long ride home.

Dorothy was full of thoughts of home by then, and something in the color
of the horse which had drawn her hither awoke tender memories of pretty
Portia, now doubtless happily grazing on a dear mountain far away. With
this sentiment in mind she stooped and plucked a handful of grass and
held it under the nose of the pensive livery-nag.

But alas, for sentiment! Not the few blades of sea-grass appealed to the
creature who, while Dorothy's head was turned, stretched forth its own
and pulled the myrtle from the jacket and was contentedly munching it
when its owner discovered its loss.

"Dolly Doodles, whatever are you doing?" cried Molly, running up.

"She's got--he's got my 'Evangeline' vines! I'm getting--what I can!"

Molly shouted in her glee and the rest of the party drew near to also
enjoy. They had all alighted to walk about a bit and stretch their
limbs, and now watched in answering amusement the brief tussle between
maid and mare. It ended with the latter's securing the lion's share of
the goodly bunch; but myrtle vines are tough and Dorothy came off a
partial victor with one spray in her hand. It had lost most of its
leaves and otherwise suffered mischance, yet she was not wholly hopeless
of saving that much alive; and in any case the incident had banished all
morbid thoughts from her mind, and she was quite the merriest of all
during that long drive homeward to the hotel.

As they alighted Monty stepped gallantly forward and offered:

"When we get to Halifax I'll buy you a slender vase and you can keep it
in water till you go home yourself. Or I'll send back to that graveyard
and pay somebody to send you on a lot, after you get back to your own
home."

"Oh! thank you. That's ever so kind, and I'll be glad of the vase. But
you needn't send for any more vines. They wouldn't be the same as this I
gathered myself for darling Father John."

"But you shall have them all the same. They'd be just as valuable to him
if not to you and some of those boys that hung around the church would
pack it for a little money. I'll do it, sure."

"_Will_ you, Montmorency? _How?_" asked a voice beside him and the lad
looked up into the face of the Judge.

"No, sir, I won't! I'll have to take that offer back, Dorothy, take them
both back," and he flushed furiously at her surprised and questioning
glance. It was the first test he had made of his "poverty" and he found
it as uncomfortable as novel.



CHAPTER XII

SIGHT SEEING UNDER DIFFICULTIES


"Halifax! End of the line!"

The conductor's announcement was followed by the usual haste and bustle
among the passengers, the taking down of parcels from the racks
overhead, and a general settling and straightening of travel-crushed
garments.

This little preparatory freshening over, the travelers stepped into the
car aisles and followed the rush forward; passing out into by far the
most pretentious station they had seen in the Province. Lines of hackmen
were drawn up alongside the rail which bordered the paved descent to the
railway level, and a policeman in uniform held back the too-solicitous
drivers from the arriving strangers, who looked about them, mostly, in
doubt which vehicle to select:

"Here you are for the Halifax!" "Right this way for the Queen! Queen,
sir? Queen, madam? Finest hotel in--" "Prince Edward! Right on the
bluff--overlooking--" "King's Arms! Carriage for the King's Arms?"

To the rail and no further were these runners for their various
employers permitted to go, yet even at that few feet of safe distance
their cries were so deafening and insistent that Dorothy clapped her
hands to her ears and shut her eyes, lest she should grow too much
confused.

But there was no hesitation about the Judge. His hotel was a familiar
one, their rooms engaged long before; and by a nod he summoned the 'bus
of that house, marshalled his party into it, handed the runner his
baggage checks, and they rolled away through the streets of the oldest
city in the Province.

Just then it was gay with illimitable decorations of bunting and flags,
in honor of the visit of the Viceroy of Canada and his consort, due upon
the morrow.

"Oh, Papa, did they know we were coming?" mischievously inquired Molly,
as vista after vista of red and blue and white unrolled before her eager
eyes. "I never saw anything like it! Even at our home Carnival there
wasn't anything to compare."

"That's Canada. We Yankees boast we go ahead of everything in the world
no matter what line we chance to follow. Canada doesn't boast, she
simply goes ahead."

"Oh! how disloyal, Schuyler!" protested Aunt Lucretia, herself gazing
with admiration at the buildings whose fronts were almost solidly
covered with artistically arranged decorations. Of course the English
and Canadian flags held first place, but at last their 'bus stopped
before a quaint old hotel whose balconies were draped with as many
American as English banners.

"Why, is this an American, I mean a United States hotel?" asked Auntie
Lu; while Miss Greatorex's face assumed a more agreeable expression than
it had worn since they left the station. She had felt hitherto as if an
alien nation had flaunted its colors in her own patriotic face; but her
common sense now assured her that these people had a right to honor
their rulers after their own fashion even if it could by no possibility
be so good a fashion as reigned in her beloved States.

The youngsters of the party felt nothing but delight; and as a squad of
scarlet-coated soldiers came marching toward them on the other side of
the street Monty tossed up his cap and cheered. Melvin did more, as was
natural. They marched to the tune of "God Save the King," and were on
their way to Parliament House to give an evening concert; and as the
'bus came abreast of the squad with its fine band and its national
colors floating in front, the young Yarmouthian rose and bared his head,
saluting the flag! Then he dropped back to his seat with a slight flush
on his fair cheek, as he felt the eyes of the three strangers rest upon
him curiously. Then cried Molly:

"That was funny! I forgot you weren't a 'Yankee' like ourselves, but you
did right, you did just right. I wouldn't have let Old Glory pass by
without doing it my honor. But, do you know, Auntie Lu, I feel as if
this were a foreign country and not part of our own America?"

She was to feel it more and more, but to find a keen delight in all
that was so new to her and so matter of fact to Melvin. Even the dishes
served at table, were decidedly "English" in name and flavor, though
there were plenty of other and more familiar ones upon the _menu_.

After this supper which was more hearty than most dinners at home, they
walked to the postoffice and found a heap of mail that had been
forwarded along their route. As usual there were letters from the "Boys"
and the Judge hailed with delight the news that they, as well as the
Governor-General, would be among the morrow's arrivals.

"We'll stay till Sunday in Halifax, then start for camp on Monday, rain
or shine, wind, fog, or sunshine;" wrote the correspondent who arranged
matters from the other end of the line.

"Good enough, good enough! Then my vacation will actually begin!" cried
the pleased man.

"And pray, what do you call the days that have just passed, my brother?"
demanded Auntie Lu, with a smile.

"My dear, I call that a 'personally conducted tour,' a tour of great
responsibility and many perils. After Monday, when I deposit you ladies
and the youngsters at Farmer Grimm's, I wash my hands of the whole of
you for one long, delightful month!"

The laugh with which he said this disarmed the words of any unkindness
and was echoed by another laugh quite free from offense.

"Very well, then, Schuyler, until Monday we hold you to your
'personally' conducting. You must take us everywhere, show us everything
that is worth while. I want to go to the 'Martello' tower; to the
Citadel, the old churches, the parks, all over the harbor on all sorts
and conditions of boats, to--"

But the Judge held up his hand, protesting. Then asked:

"Suppose it proves a foggy season? Fog is one of the things to be
counted upon in all parts of this country, more especially here. One
summer I was here three weeks and the sun didn't shine once!"

However, Mrs. Hungerford was bent upon enjoying and making others enjoy
this visit; and she laughingly assured him that they were all "fog
proof."

"Every one of us has overshoes, umbrella, and raincoat. We feminines I
mean and 'boys' aren't supposed to mind any sort of weather. Am I not
right, Melvin?"

"Yes, Mrs. Hungerford, I fancy you are. We have so much wet weather
we're 'most unprepared for sunshine, don't you know."

This was so long a remark for Melvin, and so thoroughly "English" with
its "fancy" and "don't you know," that all laughed.

But they waked in the morning to find the Judge's fear of a fog
justified. The whole city was a-drip. The decorations which had been so
crisp and brilliant on the day before hung limp and already discolored;
and the scarlet and white bunting which had been so artistically
wreathed about columns and cornices now clung tightly to them as if
shivering in the wet.

It was a disheartened populace, too, which one met upon the street; for
the expense had been great in preparations for the Governor's visit and
the week of Carnival that had been planned seemed doomed to a series of
disappointments.

None the less Auntie Lu held her brother to his promise to escort them
everywhere; and everywhere they went, though mostly in covered carriages
or under dripping umbrellas. One morning when the sunshine came for a
brief visit they hastened to the street before the Provincial building
to hear the most famous band in all the Canadas give its open air
concert. Other people besides themselves had flocked thither at the
first ray from the sun and now crowded the pavements surrounding the
iron-fenced grounds. Everybody waxed enthusiastic and hopeful
till--suddenly a drop fell on the tip of the band leader's nose. He cast
one glance skyward but continued to wield his baton with great flourish
and skill. Another drop; many; and the summer crowd swiftly dispersed.
Not so our sightseers from the States. But let Dorothy tell the tale in
her own words and in the journal-letter she faithfully tried to keep for
Father John:

"Dear Father:--

"Since we've been here in Halifax I haven't had a chance to write
as regular as I ought. You see we come home so tired and wet every
time that--Well, I just can't really write.

"We went to an open air concert in the heart of the city. The band
was, were--which is right? Anyhow the men all had on their Sunday
uniforms, the most beautiful red and brass and buttons, and their
instruments shone like anything. It rained, still they didn't even
wink, except the head of them. He was brillianter dressed than any
of them and he didn't like the rain. You could see that plain as
plain. They all had little stands before them with their music on
and the music got wet and splattery, but they didn't stop. They
just tossed one piece of music down and began another, after they'd
waited a little bit of while, to get their breath, I reckon. By and
by all the people, nearly, had gone away from the sidewalk yet the
band played right along.

"Then I heard somebody laugh. It was the Judge. He was laughing at
Auntie Lu; he always is and she at him. When she asked him 'why,'
he said: 'I was thinking this was a match game between British and
Yankee pluck. It's the Britisher's 'duty' to play to the end of his
program and he'll do it if he's melted into a little heap when he's
finished. It seems to be Yankee pluck, or duty, to stand out here
in this melancholy drizzle and hold on as long as he does.'

"'Of course,' said Mrs. Hungerford, 'it would be mean of us to
desert the poor chaps and leave them without a listener at all.'

"Then he said: 'Let's go indoors and sit in the 'seats of the
mighty.''

"She didn't know what he meant but he soon showed her. The Province
Building where their sort of Congress meets was all open wide and
they weren't having any session, it not being session time. So we
went in and sat around in leather covered chairs, only Molly and I
and the boys climbed up on the window seats and sat there. We could
hear beautiful and we got quite dry. Only it isn't any use getting
dry, daytimes, 'cause you're always going right out and getting wet
again.

"Sunday was the wettest yet. It didn't look so and Auntie Lu let us
girls put on white dresses, but she made us take our raincoats and
umbrellas and rubbers just the same. We went to the soldiers'
church out of doors, 'cause they'd thought it was clearing off.
There were benches fixed in rows like seats in church, and there
was a kind of pulpit all covered by a great English flag. Other
benches were up at one side. They were for the band. By and by a
bugle blew and they came marching, marching over the grass from the
big barracks beyond. The field sloped right down the side of a
great hill and at the foot, seemed so close one could almost touch
it but you couldn't for there were streets between, was the harbor
of water.

"It was an English church service and the minister prayed for all
the royal family one by one. The soldier-band played the chants and
hymns and they and anybody wanted sang them. After a little while
it rained again and we put on our coats and didn't dare to raise
our umbrellas, 'cause we were in church you know.

"It seemed pretty long but I loved it. I loved the red soldiers and
the beautiful place and all. Auntie Lu said it was a good sermon
and that the preacher considerately cut it pretty short. But it
wasn't so short but that we got our hats dreadfully wet and Auntie
Lu had to buy herself a new one before we came away last Monday
morning. In the evening we went to St. Paul's, which is the oldest
church in this oldest city of Markland, as some call Nova Scotia.

"Now we have ridden a good many miles in wagons to this great old
farmhouse right on the edge of the woods. Miles and miles of woods,
seems if. There are lakes in them and rivers and game of every
sort, seems if, to hear them tell. Judge Breckenridge's friends are
here, too, and the Indian guide. He calls them 'the Boys,' and they
do act like boys just after school's let out. They laugh and joke
and carry on till Molly and I just stare.

"Judge has hired a river to fish in. Isn't that funny? To pay for a
place to fish, and the Farmer Grimm we're to live with is going to
haul all their camp things out there to-morrow morning before
sun-up. Monty and Melvin are to go, too, and I expect we women
folks'll feel pretty lonesome.

"One lovely thing the Judge did for me. He hired a violin for me to
practice on here. He said he thought it would pass the time for
all of us. There's a piano, too, already in the house, and Molly
can play real nice on that. Her Auntie Lu plays mag-nifi-cently. I
wrote that out in syllables so as to get it right and to make it
more--more impressiver. I'm dreadful tired and have been finishing
this letter sitting on the floor beside a great big fire on the
hearth. It isn't a bit too warm, either, even though the sun has
shone again to-day.

"Good night. Your sleepy Dorothy, but always loving you the best of
all the world.

"P. S.--The funniest thing happened after supper. Two the funniest
ones. The bashful-bugler, that's Melvin, slipped something into my
hand and said: 'That's to remember me by, a keepsake, if anything
should happen to me out in the woods. I bought it for you that day
in Digby.' When I opened the little box there was one those
weeny-wiggley sort of silver fishes, they call the 'Digby
chickens,' that I'd wanted to take home to Alfy. But I shan't take
her this; I shall keep it. 'Cause Molly wants one, too, and when we
get our next month's allowance, _if_ we get it, we can write and
buy some by mail.

"The other funny thing was one of those grown up 'boys.' He asked
me to play for him and had me stand right near him. When I got
through he looked over at the Judge and nodded his head. Two, three
times he nodded it and then he said, just like this he said it: 'It
is the most remarkable likeness I ever saw. You're on the right
track Schuy, I'm sure of it!' And the Judge cried real pleased,
'Hurray!'

"They two were little boys together, down in the south where they
lived and they know Mrs. Cecil Calvert real well. And the other
'boy' said: 'Aunt Betty'd ought to be spanked--same as she's
spanked me a heap of times.'

"I wonder if it was I 'resembled' anybody and who! I wonder why any
gentleman should say such a dreadful impolite thing about that dear
old lady! I wonder,--Oh, Father John! Your little girl so often
wonders many, many things! Good night at last. Molly calls real
cross and I must go.

                         "DOLLY."

Dorothy's letters to Mother Martha were equally descriptive though not
so long. One ran thus:

"Dearest Mother Martha:--

"You ought to see this farm where we're living now. It's so big and
has so many cattle and men working, and orchards and potato-fields.
They call the potatoes 'Bluenoses' just as they call the Nova
Scotia folks. The house is part stone and part wood. The stone part
was built ever and ever so long ago; strong so the man who built it
could protect himself against the Indians. The man was English, and
he was a Grimm; an ancestor of this Mr. Grimm we board with. The
Indians were Micmacs and friends of the French. Seems if they were
all fighting all together all the time, which should own the land.
Mrs. Grimm says there have been a good many generations live here
though all are gone now except her husband and herself. They are
more than seventy years, both of them, but they don't act one bit
old. She cooks and tends to things though she has two, three maids
to help her. He rides horseback all over his farm and jumps off his
horse and works with the men. Sometimes he drives the ox-carts with
the hay and lets us ride.

"I did want you that last Saturday in Halifax. The day your letter
came to me with the one dollar in it. I expect you wanted I should
buy something to bring you with it but I didn't. Listen. It was
what they called a 'green market' morning. Rained of course, or was
terrible foggy between showers. The market is just a lot of Indians
and negroes, and a few white people sitting round on the edge of
the sidewalk all around a big building. The Judge told me many of
them had come from across the harbor, miles beyond it, so far that
they'd had to walk half the night to bring their stuff to market.
Think of that! And such funny stuff it was. Green peas shelled in
little measures, ready to cook. (I wish they'd have them that way
in our own Lexington market at home!) Wild strawberries--I didn't
see any other kind, no big ones like we have in Baltimore or at
home. The berries were hulled and put into little home-made
birch-bark baskets that the Indian women make themselves, just
pinned together at the end with a thorn or stick. Auntie Lu bought
some for us but Miss Greatorex wouldn't let me eat the berries,
though I was just suffering to! She said after they'd been handled
by those dirty Indian fingers she knew they were full of microbes
or things and she didn't dare. Oh! dear! I wish she didn't feel so
terrible responsible for my health, 'cause it spoils a lot of my
good times. The boys weren't afraid of microbes and they ate the
berries but I have the basket. It will be all I have to bring you
from Halifax; because one of those Indian women had her baby with
her and she looked so poor--I just couldn't help giving that dollar
right to her. I couldn't really help it. She wanted me to take
baskets in pay for it, but I knew that wouldn't be _giving_. You
won't mind, will you, dearest Mother Martha? if the only thing I
bring you from that city is a poor Indian woman's blessing? You
always give to the poor yourself, so I wasn't afraid you'd scold.
There are just two things that I'd like different here, on this
lovely vacation. One is if only you and father were here, too!
Every new and nice thing I see, or good time I have, I do so want
them for you both also. The other is--I wish, I wish I knew who my
father and mother were! The real ones. They couldn't have been any
nicer than you have been to me, but folks that don't know me are
sure to ask me about my family. Molly and Monty and Melvin are
always able to tell about theirs, but I can't. Her mother, the
'other Molly,' died when she was a little thing, but she knows all
about her. The Judge has a beautiful miniature of this 'other
Molly' his wife, and takes it with him wherever he goes, even into
that camp, where we're to be let to go, maybe, for a salmon dinner
that the 'Boys' catch themselves.

"There are lots of books in this old house and a piano. Each
generation has added to the library and Mrs. Grimm says that in the
winter she and her husband read 'most all the time. Christmases, no
matter how deep the snow, all their children come home and then the
rooms are opened and warmed and they have such fun. Oh! it must be
grand to belong to a big family and know it's all your own! They
burn great logs of wood and even now we have a fire on the
living-room hearth all the time. One of the young Indian boys who
works here has nothing else for his chores except to keep the
wood-boxes filled and the fires fresh. He's rather a nice Indian
boy but he's full of capers. Molly is so lonesome without Monty and
Melvin to play with she makes plays with Anton. I don't think Mrs.
Grimm likes it and I'm sure Aunt Lucretia doesn't, for I heard her
tell Molly so. But nobody can keep Molly Breckenridge still. She
doesn't care to read much and she hates practicing, and she cries
every time she has to sew a seam, though Mrs. Hungerford makes her
do that 'for discipline.' I don't know what would become of the
darling if it wasn't for Anton. She likes me, course, but I can't
climb trees after cherries, or wade in ponds after water-lilies,
and though I like to ride horseback with her I'm afraid to go
beyond bounds where we're told to stay. Molly isn't afraid.

"Please give my love to Aunt Chloe and write soon to your loving

                         "DOROTHY."

Having finished this letter, longer than common, Dorothy wandered out of
doors seeking her mate. She was nowhere in sight, but the man who rode
into town so many miles away, to fetch and carry the mail and to bring
supplies of such things as the farm did not produce, was just driving up
the road and playfully shook his mail-pouch at her. She sped to meet
him, was helped into his wagon and received the pouch in her arms. She
and Molly were always eager to "go meet the mail," which was brought to
them only every other day, and whichever was first and obtained it was
given the key to the pouch and the privilege of distributing its
contents. This privilege would be Dorothy's to-day; and she skipped into
the living-room and to the ladies at their sewing, dragging the pouch
behind her.

Little she knew of its contents; or that among them would come the
solution of that "wonder" that now so constantly tormented her:--"Who
were my parents?"



CHAPTER XIII

A MESSAGE FOR THE CAMP


When the gray-haired "Boys" had set out for camp, they had left word at
the farm that they wished no newspapers or mail matter of that sort
forwarded them. Also, most of them had, before leaving their own homes,
asked that no letters should be written except such as were important,
and these should be duly marked that. They wished to forget care and the
outside world as far as possible, and to live in the faith that "no news
is good news."

Therefore, since a fortnight had elapsed, there was a table in the
living-room already heaped with the mail which had accumulated during
that time. Each man's portion of it was carefully sorted and placed by
itself; but this morning Auntie Lu, upon whom that duty devolved, did
not augment her brother's heap by the three envelopes she had taken from
the pouch. She sat long with them in her lap, pondering the course she
should follow, for two bore a Richmond postmark and one that of
Annapolis, and each was marked according to direction: "Important."

Miss Greatorex and Dorothy had both received a letter and were eagerly
perusing them upon a low window seat, and Mrs. Hungerford left her own
mail unopened to glance toward them, still considering what she should
do. Her gaze rested longest upon the girl, whose face was radiant over a
long, many-paged epistle from Father John. The young lips were parted in
a smile, the brown eyes were smiling too, and Dolly looked such a
picture of innocent delight that a pang shot through the observer's
tender heart. For she knew that those "Important" letters concerned the
child. They were addressed in Ephraim Cook's familiar, crabbed hand, and
the man would never have ventured to disturb the peace of his absent
employer except by that employer's command. Also, she knew that the only
business of "Importance" the Judge had entrusted to Mr. Cook was that
concerning Dorothy C. All law matters were attended to by other, more
experienced persons. She longed to break the seals and read the contents
for herself and wished now that she had asked permission so to do, but
she could not open another person's letter without that one's desire.

Presently, she glanced through her own letters and sought Mrs. Grimm in
her kitchen, busy among her maids at preparing the mid-day meal, always
an early one since the farm-hands so preferred it; and it had been among
their arrangements that, although her "boarders" should have a separate
table in an inner room, the food for all the household should be the
same. Nobody could complain of this for the housemistress was a notable
cook and her supplies generous.

"Beg pardon, Mrs. Grimm, for interrupting you, but I want to ask if
there's a 'hand' not busy who could ride out to camp and carry some
letters to my brother. I am anxious he should have them for they may
require immediate replies." She did not add, as she might, that an
intense but kindly curiosity of her own was another reason for the
request.

"Why, I can hardly tell, Mrs. Hungerford. They're all busy in the
fields, and my husband with them. There are some who need a constant
supervision and my man believes that there's nothing so good for any job
as the 'eye of the master.' Else, he'd ride into the woods himself and
think naught of it. Let me consider who--"

At that moment Anton came into the kitchen and threw an armful of hewn
wood beside the great fireplace, where kettles hung upon cranes and
"Dutch ovens" were ranged before the coals, each filled with savory food
for hungry people. It was a spot Mrs. Hungerford found vastly
interesting, but where she rarely lingered; for her presence seemed to
disconcert the shy French maids who served their mistress there and
whose own homes were isolated cottages here and there. So she was even
now leaving the kitchen when she chanced to notice Anton and asked:

"Couldn't this lad go? I know that he heaped the boxes in the
living-room and our bedrooms with more wood than we can use to-night,
and surely one kitchen-fire can scarcely require more than that pile
yonder. I will pay him, or you, well, if he can be spared to do my
errand."

This guest was rarely so insistent and her hostess saw that to deny her
the favor would be a great disappointment; so she answered that:

"Anton can be spared if--Anton can be trusted. And please, understand,
dear madam, that no payment for such trivial service would be accepted."

"But it is a long ride there and back, longer than into Halifax isn't
it? Yet the man who goes there makes but the one trip a day."

"That is for other reasons. He goes out in the morning upon our errands.
It is part of our contract with him that he shall stop the night in town
with his family and return the next day early. He is really our caterer
and postman. But Anton--Anton is 'bound.' And Anton needs watching. Lad,
do you promise that if I let you take a horse and ride to camp you'll do
the lady's errand right and ride straight home again?"

He had lingered just within the kitchen doorway, fooling with the
youngest of the maids who resented his teasing by a sharp clap on his
cheek, but he had not been so absorbed in this pastime that he had not
heard every word spoken between his mistress and her guest. Knowing that
he was in truth an untrustworthy messenger, he resented its being told;
and the statement that no payment would be accepted angered him. He was
a bound-out servant, of course. So were many other lads of the Province
and no disgrace in it; but if a free gift were offered, was it not his
to take? A scowl settled on his dark face and he listened to the outcome
of the matter with a vindictive interest. Also, he answered, sullenly:

"'Tis a far call to that camp in the woods and one must ride crooked,
not 'straight,' to reach it. 'Twould be in the night ere Anton could be
back, and there is no moon."

"Tut, lad! When was Anton ever afraid of the night or the dark? Indeed,
some tell me that he loves it better than the light. The Scripture tells
why. Will you go or not? And will you do the lady's errand right?"

"The master read in the Big Book, last Sunday-day that ever was, how the
'laborer is worthy of his hire.' That's good Scripture, too, Missus, the
hay-makers say, and one nudged me to take notice at that time."

Mrs. Grimm hastily turned that he might not see the smile which flitted
across her face, and Auntie Lu as suddenly found something interesting
to observe which brought her back also toward the quick-witted,
mischievous lad. She longed to renew her offer of payment but would not
interfere between mistress and man, so waited anxiously for the result.
It came after a moment, Mrs. Grimm saying:

"Go, saddle the gray mare and ride upon that errand. You shall have
your dinner first, and a supper in a napkin to cheer you on the ride
home. By 'lights out' you will be in your loft with the men. Now tidy
yourself and come to table."

Anton wasted no time before he obeyed. His sullenness had been but a
pretence and mostly assumed in order to secure that "payment" which the
"foreign" lady offered. The gray mare was a fleet traveler, easy under
the saddle--though for that matter he rarely used one--and he loved the
forest. A half-day away from the mistress's eye was clear delight. She
had said nothing against a gun or a fishing line and not even the best
guide in that region knew better the secret of wood and stream than this
other descendant of the Micmacs.

The maid he had teased was glad to be quit of him and hurried to dish up
his portion of the dinner, while Mrs. Hungerford returned to desk to
write a letter to her brother and to safely make all into a little
packet, marked: "Private and Important."

She had told her companions of Anton's trip and Dorothy sped out of
doors to beg the lad:

"If you see any new flowers, some of those wild orchids Miss Greatorex
read grew around here, will you bring me some? Just a few for specimens,
to press for Father John and Mr. Seth? They would be so pleased and I
will be so grateful. Will you?"

Anton nodded. Promises were easy to make, and to break if he wished.
Then came a maid from the kitchen with a message for her home, a tiny
clearing on the edge of the "further wood." To her, also, a promise was
readily spoken; and master Anton thrusting the securely tied packet of
letters into his pocket, bowed to Mrs. Hungerford with a third and more
important promise.

"'Tis of a truth I will deliver this into the hand of the man they call
a Judge. It is a tedious task, yes, but I will so deliver it. Mayhap he
too remembers what the Scripture says."

He uttered the last sentence in a low tone, with a furtive glance
houseward, and bearing himself with an air of great complacency. He had
become a very important person just then, had Anton, the "bound out."
Moreover, he was wholly honest in his determination so to deliver the
letters. That Judge in the woods hadn't heard the mistress's opinion
about payment and it wasn't necessary that he should. Other farm hands
had witnessed to the liberality of those odd men who lived in a tent,
wore old clothes when they could wear new, and cooked their own food
when they might have had others cook for them. Anton was not afraid to
trust his "payment" to the man who owned the letters in that packet.

Now it so happened that Molly was riding about the grounds and up and
down a leafy lane upon a gentle horse that her father had engaged for
her own and Dorothy's enjoyment while on that lonely farm. She used the
creature far more than Dorothy, as was natural and right enough; and had
mounted it that day to escape what she called her chum's "everlasting
fiddling."

Dorothy was as fond of her violin as Molly averse to her piano; and the
nearest to dispute which ever rose between them was on account of
Dolly's devotion to her music. She had even complained to Aunt Lucretia
that "a violin made her head ache." Whereupon the ambitious violinist
had begged permission of its owner to use an empty corncrib at the foot
of the "long orchard," as a music-room, and there "squeaked" as long and
as loud as she pleased. She was going there now, violin case under her
arm, to pass the half-hour before dinner and to watch the men come in
from the fields, at the ringing of the great bell which hung from a pole
beside the kitchen door. To her the country was full of every possible
delight, but poor Molly found it "too quiet and lonely for words." So
she spent more and more of her time on every pleasant day, riding up and
down the lanes or following Farmer Grimm to the fields.

Between those two a great affection had sprung up. He liked her
fearlessness in riding and laughed at her timidity when horned cattle
appeared anywhere near. He was proud of the way in which she could take
a fence and kept her with him all he could.

On this day, however, he could not so take her. His errands were too far
afield and too unsuited for her, and that was why she now rode alone,
rather disconsolately up and down, until she saw Anton come out of the
stable yard, mounted upon the gray mare and holding his head like a
prince.

"Anton! Anton! Oh! are you going riding? Take me with you! Please,
please, Anton!"

For answer he touched Bess with his heel and she flew out of the
enclosure like a bird.

That was enough for Molly Breckenridge. Queenie, the broken-tailed
sorrel which she rode, was as swift as she was gentle and needed no goad
of heel or whip to spur her forward. A pat of the smooth neck, a word in
the sensitive ear--"Fetch him out, Queen!"--and the race was on.

Anton glanced behind and the spirit of mischief flamed in him. They rode
toward the forest where a few wood-roads entered, each of which he knew
to its finish, not one of which knew Molly. Only this much she did know
that Anton lived at the farm, where she lived. Anton rode the farmer's
horse as she did. Anton was never absent from meals and it was
dinner-time. Therefore, if she thought at all about it or considered
further than the delight of a real race, she knew that back to the farm
would Anton go and she could follow.

He dashed aside from the wheel-rutted track. She stumbled over the
ridges, kept him in sight, and followed him. He doubled and twisted, so
did she. He dashed forward in a long straight line, curved, circled, and
came back to the wood-road some distance ahead. She did not curve but
cut his circle by a short line and brought up at his side.

"Huh! 'Tis a good rider you are, Miss Molly, but you'd best go back now.
I'm for the camp."

"Never! You can't be! They wouldn't trust you, you're so tricksy. Who'd
want you there?"

He was instantly offended and showed it, drawing himself erect on the
gray mare and tossing his head high while his narrow black eyes looked
angrily at her. Then he drew from his blouse the packet Mrs. Hungerford
had given him and haughtily explained:

"For that Judge. Now, am I trusted? No?"

It was very strange. Ever since she had been at the farm she had heard
of Anton's pranks and trickiness. Tasks he had been set to perform were
always neglected except that one of keeping fuel supplied, and this work
brought him, also, constantly under his mistress's eye. Yet he allowed
Molly to come so close she could recognize her aunt's handwriting
outside the packet, and especially that word "Important."

Suddenly she resolved.

"Anton, if you ride to camp I ride with you."

"You will not. I say it." He wasn't going to be disappointed of his fun
along the way by the presence of this girl, and no time had been told
him when that parcel must be delivered. It must come to the Judge
_sometime_, that was all. The later the better for him, Anton, the more
leisure to enjoy the wild and escape that eternal carrying of wood. "You
will not," he repeated, more firmly.

"I will so. That is for my father. His name is on it and it is
'Important.' I will see that he gets it. I don't trust you, Anton."

He was rather impressed by the fact that she could read what was
written--he could not. He was also angered further by that unwise remark
about not trusting him. He stared at her, she stared back. Good! It was
a battle of wills, then!

He seemed to waver, smiled, and shrugged his shoulders. All roads lead
to one's goal, if one knows them. He was an Indian. He could not be lost
in any forest, he who was wise in woodcraft and could tell all
directions by signs this "foreigner" could not know. He snapped his
fingers, airily, pricked Bess forward again and into a trackless
wilderness.

For a moment Molly hesitated. Should she go back and give up this chase?
Turning around she gazed about her and could not tell which way she had
come.

"Why! I couldn't go back, even if I tried. I don't see any track and--I
must follow him. I can hear him on ahead, by the breaking
branches--Forward, Queenie, quick, quick!"

But Queenie wasn't pleased to "forward." She shrank from the rude
pressure of the undergrowth against her delicate shanks and, for an
instant, set her forefeet stubbornly among the ferns and brambles. But
Molly was now past tenderness with any mount which would not do her will
and Queenie was forced into the path she hated to tread. Already the
brief delay had cost her the sound of the gray mare's progress. There
was neither breaking twig nor footfall to tell her whither that
tormenting Anton had vanished. There was only the bruised herbage to
show which way he had ridden and she must follow; and for a long time
she kept her eyes on that faint lead and steadily pursued it.

Then she came to a partly open glade and there she lost the trail
entirely. Across this glade Anton had certainly passed but in which
direction she couldn't even guess. She reined Queenie to a stand and
called:

"Anton! Anton! ANTON!!" and after another interval, again: "ANTON!"

There was an agony of fear in that last cry. Had Anton heard it, even
his mischievous heart would have been touched and he would have ridden
back to reassure her. But he did not hear her. He had now struck out
from that narrow clearing into a road he knew well, by the blazed trees
and the wheel-marks the camp-teamster had left upon it. The undergrowth
had sprung up again, almost as completely as before it had been first
disturbed, and even had Molly found that trail she would not have known
enough to trace it.

But he was now on his own right road. She was where--she pleased. He had
not asked her to come, he had tried to make her go back. He had not
wanted her at all, but she had taunted him, distrusted him, and yet he
knew that this once he was proving trustworthy. He felt that little
packet safe in his blouse and patted the cloth above it commendingly.

"Good boy, Anton. If 'tis worth payment, this payment the so rich Judge
will give. That girl rides well. Let her take care of herself. Go,
Bess!"

He fished a little, fired a shot or two at some flying bird, then
remembered that a shot might be heard and those from the camp come to
inquire why it had been fired. Save themselves there were supposed to be
no other sportsmen for miles around, and they would surely come, if from
no other motive than curiosity.

It was supper-time when he came into camp and upon a picture that warmed
his heart and banished from it, for a time, that rather uncomfortable
sensation which had lately affected him. He had grown fanciful and
thought a night-bird's call was the cry of somebody lost in the woods.

He was glad to see that cheerful fire, to smell the savory food cooking
above it, to observe all the rude comforts with which modern sportsmen
surround themselves. Those boys--Why, they had positively grown fat! And
how they were laughing and fooling with one another! unrebuked by the
older campers, who sat about on logs or stools, and smoked or talked or
sang as the spirit moved them.

The Judge's keen eyes were the first to see the nose of the gray mare
appearing through the thicket and he sprang to his feet with a little
exclamation of alarm:

"Why, Anton, lad! What brings you here? Nothing had happened, I hope!
Eh, what? A packet for me? All right. Thank you. You're just in time to
join us. We've had fine sport to-day and will have a grand meal in
consequence. How's everybody? How's my little Molly?"

Anton's answer was an indirect one.

"You'll tell 'em I brought it safe, no?"

"Why, surely. Did anybody doubt you would? And if it's good news, a good
fee for fetching it. If bad--fee according!"

He drew a little apart, opened the parcel and read the letters. Then he
took a pad from his tent and wrote a brief reply; after which he retied
the bundle and gave it back to Anton, saying:

"Deliver this to Mrs. Hungerford as safely as you have to me and I dare
say she'll give you another like this!"

He held out a shining silver dollar but somehow, although the lad did
take it, it seemed to lie very heavy within that inner pocket where he
dropped it.

Supper over, all grouped about the fire and beset the Indian guide for a
fresh batch of ghost stories, his specialty in literature or tradition;
and though Judge Breckenridge asked his messenger if it were not time
that he started back--for Aunt Lu had written urging him to keep the boy
no longer than was absolutely necessary--Anton still lingered. Hitherto
he had known no fear of any forest. He inherited his love for it and his
knowledge. He had even loved best to prowl in its depths during the
moonlit or starlit hours, and riding hither had anticipated a leisurely
return. So long as he was back at the farm by morning he saw no reason
to hurry himself before.

Then he found himself listening to Monty's question:

"You say, Guide, that these very woods, right around us, are 'haunted?'"

"Sure. Hark!"

There was a strange unearthly cry from somewhere in the distance and the
man continued:

"Some call that a screech-owl! But I know it's the cry of a girl who was
lost in this forest. Why, Anton, boy, what's happened you?"

Anton had suddenly swayed in his seat and his face under its copper skin
had turned ghastly pale.



CHAPTER XIV

HOW MOLLY CAME TO CAMP


"Yes, she was the daughter of one of the French squatters on that very
lake we've fished this day. Susette they called her, and she was days in
the woods. Out of this _Laque de la Mort_, they drew her body; but
still, on dark nights, her spirit wanders as it wandered then, before
she sought or found rest in the pool. 'Tis easy, sure. Take one of you
men, even, and set you away from all the guide-marks we've made, you
could not find your way save by some inherited instinct. We Indians,
descendants of the forest men, get that instinct with our birth; even we
who have lived among the white men all our days. That Anton yonder,
though he has been housed under a roof ever since he was born, I warrant
me he could be set in some unknown wilderness but would find a way out.
Is it not so, Anton?" asked the half-breed story-teller, shading his
eyes from the firelight to look at the boy.

An instant later he had risen and bent above Anton, who now cowered in
his corner his head bent upon his knees and his whole attitude one of
keen distress.

"Lad, what's amiss with you?"

Anton tossed off the kindly hand just laid upon his shoulder and raised
a face that had grown haggard, with wild terrified eyes staring into the
questioner's face.

"'Tis a lie, no? There is no girl wanders the forest nights! You are
fool, Merimée, with your words!"

"That's as a man judges. Ghost tales were asked and told, and one is
true. I know it. But fear not, lad. No spirit will molest to his harm
one who rides through the wood aright, in the fear of God and with
honesty in his heart. As for the ghost of poor Susette, hapless maid!
Would not one with a spark of manhood in him seek to help her if he
could? But alas! When one is dead, even living men with hearts of
courage can avail nought. But, up. You've rested and supped. 'Tis time
you were a-saddle and riding home to your duty. Up and away. Though the
wood looks dark from here, 'tis because of our fire so bright. The stars
are out and once away from this the road will seem light enough. As
light as many another when you're played truant to your master to wander
in it. Up, and away!"

This Merimée, guide, was mostly a man of few words. Yet when, as now,
his toil for the day was over and the campers gathered for an evening
chat it flattered his vanity to be asked for the legends and traditions
of the countryside. His tongue had been loosened and he used it thus
liberally for the benefit of Anton, the mischievous, who "shamed his
duty" as old Merimée always honored it. As he finished speaking he
walked to the tree where the gray mare was fastened, slipped on its
saddle, tightened its girth, and called:

"Ready, Anton!"

And, as if in echo, again floated through the air overhead a
night-bird's mournful cry and Anton shrieked, then sprang to his feet
shivering with terror.

The men stared at him, astonished, and Monty ran to him, shook him, and
demanded:

"Don't you know better than that? Scare a fellow's wits out of his head?
That's nothing but the same old bird that's kept me awake--"

Melvin shouted in laughter, and the others echoed him.

"Kept you awake! Well, I'd like to know when? You that always go to
sleep over your supper--if you're allowed!"

Monty laughed, also, and the mirth around him seemed to restore Anton's
composure in a measure. But happening to glance toward Judge
Breckenridge he saw that gentleman looking at him keenly and his guilty
conscience awoke. In fact, the Judge was merely interested in watching
the changes which fear wrought upon Anton's healthy face and was growing
impatient to have the lad start home. He knew how eagerly his sister
would wait to read the letters he was returning her and to comply with
his own brief instructions concerning them. He was a man who wished
always to do at once anything he had to do; and nothing annoyed him more
than others' shilly-shallying. To his amazement, Anton begged him:

"Don't! Don't, sir, look at me like that! I didn't go for to do it!
She--she done it herself!"

"Who did what? Have you lost your common sense?"

Then it all came out, the whole miserable story; in broken sentences,
with keenest regret now, unhappy Anton told of Molly's following, of the
trick he had played upon her, and of the fact that she was now wandering
somewhere in that wild forest alone, save for old Queenie.

But the story was not ended before every member of that startled group
was on his feet, ready for search and rescue. Though he could almost
have killed the lad where he cowered, so furious was his wrath and
terrible his fear, the Judge controlled himself and sternly ordered:

"With me you come, Anton. Close to me you keep and lead me to the last
spot where you left my child. If we find her not--"

He did not need to finish his sentence with a threat, nor did he wait
for the horse which Merimée made haste to catch and saddle. On foot he
started, Anton held by an iron grasp, and they two were out of sight
before the others had quite realized that they were even moving.

Old Merimée took charge without question; organizing his little company
into bands of two and directing each pair to take a separate route
through the woods, but all verging toward the east and the distant
farmhouse. He arranged that all, carrying guns, should agree upon
certain signals; one shot meant distress, two reports called for
reinforcement by the nearest searchers; and three--or a succession of
more--good news, that the work had happily ended and the word was: "Back
to the camp!"

The old college president took Montmorency as his aide, with the
clannish instinct of two New Englanders for one another's company.
Indeed, this odd pair had been almost constant companions since they
entered the woods, and the lad had found the alert old man the "jolliest
'boy' he had ever chummed with."

The surgeon called Melvin to share his own search and the merchant
strode sturdily forward in the wake of Merimée, the guide; who delayed
but long enough to cover the fire and to sling over his shoulder a
hunting-horn. He had often used this for four-footed game, and might now
as a call to the Judge's lost daughter. Seeing Merimée do this sent
Melvin also back to his tent, yet only for a moment. Then he ran after
his partner and disappeared in the gloom of the forest.

       *       *       *       *       *

Back at Farmer Grimm's, when Molly rode out of the grounds, there had
been none to see her go except one of the maids, drooping with
sick-headache against the back porch. Even she had scarcely realized
the fact, so absorbed was she by her own physical misery. There her
mistress found her and promptly despatched her to her room and bed,
until she should recover, and it was not till some hours later that she
descended to find the house in a turmoil of search and anxiety. At
dinner-time, Mrs. Hungerford had bidden Dorothy to call Molly; adding a
warning word:

"Tell her, Dolly dear, that she must come at once. Too often she lingers
and keeps Mrs. Grimm waiting. That isn't right because this household is
managed as systematically as your own Academy in school time. Be sure
and tell her."

"Yes, Auntie Lu, when I find her," answered Dorothy, speeding out of
doors, while the lady looked after her with more than ordinary interest;
thinking: "What a dear, bonny creature that child is! And I am so glad,
I hope so much for her now. I'm sure Schuyler will bid me go ahead and
write, or will send a note to be forwarded. I can hardly wait for the
outcome of the matter, but Dorothy must know nothing--nothing--until
just the right moment. Then for the climax, and God grant it be a happy
one!"

She sat down on the broad sill by the open window to wait for the girls,
lost in her own happy thoughts, until Miss Greatorex came and asked:

"Did you know that dinner had been served some moments and is fast
getting cold? It's mutton to-day, and Mrs. Grimm is fretting that
'mutton must be eaten hot to be good.'"

"So late? I was musing over something--didn't notice. Have the girls
come in without my seeing them?"

"Neither of them."

"That's odd. By the way, when did you see Molly?"

"A few moments after breakfast, I think. I've been writing all morning
at that further window and have scarcely looked out. Why?"

"She hasn't been in and dearly as she loves riding I never knew her to
keep on with it so long, unless she was off with the farmer. I sent
Dolly to call her and now she delays, too."

"Very well, _I_ will find Dorothy!" said Miss Isobel, with an air of
authority. She considered Mrs. Hungerford quite too indulgent to her
niece and was all the more strict with her own especial charge for that
reason. She now left the room with a firm step and was still wearing an
air of discipline when she came upon Dorothy emerging from the stables.
The child looked perplexed and a trifle frightened. She didn't wait for
her governess to upbraid her but began at once:

"Oh, dear Miss Isobel! I can't find her anywhere! Nobody has seen her
and Queenie isn't in her stall. I've been to my corncrib, the garden,
the long orchard all through, and yet she isn't. Ah! There's Mr. Grimm!
He's finished his dinner already and is going back to the hay-fields.
Please excuse me, I'll run ask him if he's seen her."

"Best not delay longer yourself, Dorothy--" called Miss Greatorex, but
for once her charge did not pause at this tone of reproof; and a first,
faint feeling of alarm rose in her own breast.

"Molly, lassie? No, indeed! I haven't seen her to-day. I was off to work
before she came down stairs, but I've been wishing for her and you, too,
the livelong day. The wild-roses that you love are blooming wonderful.
All my far-away meadows are hedged with them as perfect as if they'd
been set out a-purpose. Miles of them, I fancy, are on this old farm;
but little golden-haired Molly's the sweetest wild-rose I've seen this
summer. For you're no wild rose, lassie. You're one of those
'cinnamons,' home-keepers, close by the old house and that the Missus
claims are the prettiest in all the world. So there's a compliment for
the pair of you! Wait till I whistle! Mistress Molly knows that it
means: 'Come! I'm waiting for your company!' 'Twill fetch her, sure, if
she's within the sound of it."

So he put his hands to his lips and whistled as only he could do, a
long, musical note of call that reached far and wide and that the
missing girl had often likened to the sound of Melvin's bugle.

[Illustration: "QUEENIE TOO, HAD HEARD."
_Dorothy's Travels._]

But there came no answer of Queenie's footfalls over the gravel nor
their soft thud-thud upon the grass, and the farmer felt he could delay
no longer. Yet, could he go? While his little "comrade" was missing?
Silly, to feel a moment's alarm at such a trivial thing. A thoughtless
lassie, sure she was, this little maid of the far-away southland; but
oh! so "winsie." No. Let the hay wait. He'd tarry a bit longer and be
on hand to scold Fair-Hair when she came galloping back with a string of
merry excuses tumbling off her nimble tongue, her ready "I forgots" or
"I didn't thinks"--the teasing, adorable witch that she was!

"Fetch me my pipe and my paper, Dorothy, girl. I'll wait under this
apple tree till she comes. But do you all get your dinners and not so
many go hungry because one wild child loiters. A whisper! The missus is
getting a trifle crisp, in the kitchen yon. She's missing the nap that
is due her as soon as her people are fed. Best make haste. It's
pleasanter for all on the Farm when Missus is left to go her gait
regular, without hindrance from any. Go, little maid, and a blessing on
you."

So she ran and brought him his pipe and his paper, received a kiss for
her pains, and left him on the bench under the apple-tree, idle because
little Molly was idle--no better reason than that--though this was his
busiest time and he a most busy man.

But Mrs. Hungerford could not eat, even though courtesy compelled her to
table and to taste the good fare provided. Her want of appetite banished
Miss Isobel's, and though Dorothy was healthily hungry, as why shouldn't
she be? even she sent away her plate untouched, and was the first of the
trio to put into words the dreadful fear that was in all their hearts:

"I can't, I can't eat! Something has happened to Molly! Something
terrible has come to our Molly!"

That ended waiting. After that the farmer promptly summoned his men, the
mistress her maids, and a thorough search of all the premises began.
Over the old-fashioned well with its long sweep poor Aunt Lu hovered
like a creature distraught.

That well had held a fascination for the novelty-loving Molly, in this
case its age being the to her new thing. She had tried her own strength
in lifting the great beam and lowering the bucket from its pole; and,
perhaps, she had done so now and had fallen over the curb into the
depths below!

In vain did the others tell her how almost impossible this would have
been; she could not be dissuaded, and most earnestly begged the farmer
to have someone search the well.

"No, no, dear madam. Not till we've tried other more likely spots first.
The last time Molly was seen was on Queenie's back. Well, then we have
only to find the sorrel and we'll find the child. Take comfort. That
up-and-a-coming little lass isn't down anybody's well. Not she."

There were many barns and outbuildings on that big farm; some new and
modern, some old and disused. Not one was left unsearched. All work
stopped. Haymakers and ploughmen left their fields to add their willing
feet and keen eyes to the business, and up-garret, down cellar, through
dairies, pantries, unused chambers, everywhere within doors the
troubled housemistress led her own corps of searchers, and always
without result. This had been a foregone conclusion yet she left nothing
undone that might lead to the discovery of the missing girl; while the
longer they sought the deeper the conviction grew in all those anxious
hearts: "Molly is lost."

It was the maid with the headache who furnished the first clue. Coming
below after her hours of rest, she found the kitchen deserted, and all
labor at a standstill. Hearing voices without she questioned the first
she met and was told in faltering tones:

"The bonny little maid is--lost!"

"_Lost?_ Where, then, is Anton?"

"Gone with a parcel to the far-away camp. The mistress sent him for Mrs.
Hungerford."

"Well, but, the maid was with him. That is she sought to be. I heard her
call after him as he rode away and I thought her cries would split my
aching head. He was galloping out of the far gate and she a-chase. They
need not seek her hereabouts."

Said the mistress, in vast relief:

"I might have known. I might have guessed. He a mischievous tease, she a
wild, impulsive child." Then she hurried to poor Auntie Lu, sitting
disconsolate beside the well with Dorothy clasping her hand in her own
small ones, trying to comfort as best she could, and exclaimed: "Fear no
more! We should have thought at once the prank that madcap would be at!
She saw Anton ride away to the camp and she has followed him. The maid
who was ill remembers. She is safe with her father long before this.
Come in by, now, come in and have a cup of tea. A cup of tea will set
you up again like anything."

Aunt Lu was greatly cheered but it took more than the other's panacea of
a "cup of tea" to banish all anxiety; yet in the hope that had been
raised she passed the remainder of that dreadful day as calmly as she
could and without burdening others with the fear which still lingered in
her heart.

Upon his wife's report the farmer left off prying into all the home
places and saddled his fleetest horse. He sent all the men back to the
fields to house the abandoned hay machines and rusting ploughs, and to
attend the many duties of so great a farm. But he took one man with him
and a "snack" of supper in their pockets. It would be a long ride there
and back and a detour might be necessary. Wherever he found sign of the
child's wandering, should she by chance have lost the trail of Anton,
whom she followed, he would keep to the signs and not the shortest
route. Many a place there was, of course, where even the surest-footed
horse could not travel, and only a foot passage be made with difficulty.

But he rode round to Auntie Lu, now coaxed within doors to an open
window, and cheerily bade her:

"Keep stout heart, my woman dear. When you see my grizzled face again
you shall see your Molly's bonny one beside it. I'm a Grimm. I mean it."

Then he bared his gray head, settled himself firmly in his saddle,
called to his man: "Come on!" and rode as gallantly to the rescue as if
his seventy winters had been no more than seventeen.

All this time where was Molly?

When she found that Anton had disappeared from that open spot in the
forest she was at first terrified then comforted.

"Why, I reckon this must be mighty near that camp, after all. It's 'most
clear of the little trees and bushes, like some of the farm-groves that
anybody can play in and not be scared or--or get their dresses torn.
Queenie, you and I can rest a few minutes. Somehow I'm dreadful tired. I
rode such a lot all morning and now away out here after that Anton. He's
mean. He surely is dreadful ornery. When I see him again I'll just hold
my head mighty high and take no notice. Indians aren't much better than
negroes, I reckon. Anyhow he isn't half so nice. Catch one of our black
'boys' treating 'little missy' so! You hungry, too, Queenie? Well,
you're luckier than I for you can get your dinner off the ground. Go
ahead and nibble it. I'll wait for you;" she said, talking to the sorrel
as if she were human and could understand, and slipping from her saddle
to the ground.

After a moment's contemplation of the lovely place, where a little
stream ran trickling and babbling over stones, and where the ferns were
high as her head, looking to her like miniature trees themselves, she
began to feel almost contented. Open places between the pines let the
sunlight through and, where it fell, the wild roses which creep
everywhere over that fair land had forced themselves into a home and
bloomed away most bravely. Then she espied a scarlet patch of color
underneath and found that they were the wild strawberries she loved so
well. She cried, scrambling after these:

"Ah! Queenie! You're not the only one can get something to eat away out
here in the woods. I suppose that's the kind of stream Papa fishes for
trout. If I had a line and a hook and--and whatever I needed I could
fish, too. But I wouldn't. I never would like to kill anything, though a
trout that somebody else had killed would make a mighty nice dinner
right now."

The berries were plenty, and "enough" of anything is "as good as a
feast." At least they satisfied her immediate hunger as the water from
the brook, caught in a little cup made of a big leaf, satisfied her
thirst. Queenie slaked her own thirst at the same pool and was so quiet
and content that she greatly helped to cheer her small companion.

Finally Molly remembered a maxim she had once taught Dorothy:

"When you're lost, stay right still in that spot till somebody comes and
finds you." Not always the safest judgment, it may be, but consoling
then to this small girl.

Then she continued to converse with the sorrel mare; assuring that calm
creature:

"That boy went away out of here, some place, and to go home again he'll
have to come away back. That's plain enough. Now, you and I are real
safe, Queenie, really perfectly safe; if some them mooses or caribous,
or deers, or--or things--Let's not think about them, Queenie. Let's just
wait. Let's--let's take a nap if we can, to make the time pass
till--till Anton comes."

She wished she hadn't happened to think of any "wild beasts" just then
and she was astonished to see Queenie take her advice so literally; for
down upon that mossy ground dropped the sorrel, did its utmost to work
the saddle off its back, and, failing in this, stretched itself on its
side and did go to sleep.

Then for a time Molly busied herself in gathering flowers, wherever she
caught sight of one, and, thrusting them into her blouse, told Queenie
that "these are for that terrible flowery girl, Dorothy C. Oh! I wonder
what she is doing now! If she isn't scraping away on that old fiddle
I'll bet she's missing me. 'Tisn't polite for girls to 'bet,' Auntie Lu
says. Oh! I wish I could see her now. Funny I should be so lonesome,
right in the daylight with Queenie here. If I don't look out I'll be
crying; for I'm getting that awful scared way I was when Anton first
went. I'll lie down too on that pile of ferns and go to sleep--if I
can. I hope there aren't any wigglers of any sort to get into my ears.
I'll put my handkerchief over them and my face on that. Let's play
pretend it's bedtime, Queenie. Good night."

There was no response from the weary old horse who had jogged about
nearly all that day and Molly waited for none. A merciful drowsiness
stole upon her and when she woke again the night was really there.
Through the scattered tree-tops she could see the stars shining; close
at her feet was the same gentle purring of the little stream, and
overhead the soft rustle of pine needles moving lightly in the breeze.
But what had wakened her? Something had, she knew. Some sound other than
that of the brook or the pines. Queenie too, had heard. She had got to
her feet and was listening, was whinnying, as in no fear of whatever
thing it was. Molly could dimly see the old horse against the background
of gloom but her presence was vast comfort.

Hark! HARK!!

Molly was on her feet now, wider awake than in all her life
before, hands clasped to her breast, head bent forward,
listening--listening--listening.

"Toot! Toot! Tooty-ti-tooty-ti-toot!"

"A bugle! A bugle! The 'Assembly!' First call to meals! Melvin's coming!
Melvin--MELVIN!"

Nearer and nearer it came. It was at hand. On the other side the
murmuring stream. On this side. In her very ears; and screaming
"Melvin!" with all the agony of fear that she had pent within her brave
heart, Molly fell sobbing in the "Bashful Bugler's" arms.

A few minutes later she was in her father's; and not long thereafter sat
upon his knee before the camp-fire with her head upon his breast and he
clasping her close, close in an embrace that held within it almost an
agony of joy, so fierce it was.



CHAPTER XV

MRS. CALVERT PLANS AN INFAIR


Instead of being scolded for her escapade Molly found herself a sort of
heroine. Nothing could exceed the tenderness of her thankful father, nor
the interest of all the campers. The signal shots had brought them all
back to the camp, and there the two lads went immediately to work to
cook for the girl the most wonderful of suppers. Monty had caught some
of Melvin's deftness at the task and was most ambitious to show Molly
his newly acquired skill. Also, at the first opportunity, when the Judge
had for a moment released his darling's hand to rise and greet Farmer
Grimm coming through the woods, the boy proudly pulled from his pocket a
few small coins and displayed them upon his palm.

"See them, Miss Molly? Hmm. Those are mine. My own.
I--earned--them--myself!"

He paused so long to let this amazing statement sink into her mind that
Melvin called:

"Come on, Mont! No loafing! Fetch another bit of wood and get on your
hurry-up step! Merimée covered this fire so snug he nigh put it out,
but wise enough, too. A fire in the forest isn't a laughing matter.
Look out! Don't poke it, you clumsy, else you'll tip over that
coffee-pot. First time we've had a lady to visit us don't want to act
the blunder-head, do you?"

"Oh! hush, Bugle! No call to bulldoze a fellow just because you happened
to be first on the spot! What made you think of carrying that thing,
anyway?"

Molly herself drew near to hear the answer. She was wondering at the
fact of their jolly comradeship, which was now so evident; and at
Monty's pride over a little money--he who had cared so little for it
once. She was wondering at many things, and when Melvin did not at once
reply she repeated Monty's question.

"Melvin, how did you happen to take the bugle?"

"Why--why--I don't know, but I fancy my mother would say that Providence
put it into my mind. My mother believes that Providence has a Hand in
everything, don't you know? Anyhow, I'm glad I did take it. Without it
and you hearing it we might have wandered right past that very
place--one spot looks so much like another in the woods at night."

"Melvin, would you sell me that bugle? It was that saved my life, maybe,
if the animals I thought about had come or if--Would you?" asked Molly,
softly, and with a pathetic clasping of her hands, which trembled again
now, as she recalled past perils.

"No, Molly, I won't sell it to you. I'll give it to you, if you'll take
it that way, and only wish it were a better one. It's the cheapest made.
It had to be, don't you know?"

For a moment the girl hesitated. She did not like to rob the lad of his
only musical enjoyment and she felt that he could not afford the gift.
Then she remembered that there were other bugles in the world and that
she had but to suggest to her father a sort of exchange for the better,
and so satisfy both herself and Melvin. So she said simply:

"I shall prize it as the greatest treasure in the world, and I thank
you, I--I can't say much--I can't talk when I feel most--but don't you
know how I feel? About my teasing you whenever I had the chance and--and
lots of things? I'll take the bugle if--if 'you'll call the slate washed
clean,' as Dolly says, and we can begin all over again?" She held out
her hand, entreatingly, and the shy lad took it for a moment, then
dropped it as if its touch had burned. A sudden wave of his old
bashfulness had swept over him, for though he had gained much
self-confidence during those weeks in camp it would be a long time
before he conquered the timidity of his nature, if he ever did.

Then she asked Monty how he had earned money in such a place as that and
he answered proudly:

"Made myself generally useful. The Prex hired me to wait on him and keep
his traps in order sometimes--when the other old 'Boys' would let him
be 'coddled.' Every man for himself, you know, out here. But the Prex is
odd. He wants his boots blacked, or shoes, that he puts on after he
takes off his hunting ones and I've 'shined' 'em for him like any street
bootblack that ever did my own. Fact! Fancy what my mother would say!
Master Montmorency Vavasour-Stark blacking shoes in order to get a bit
of pocket-money! But I tell you what, Molly Breckenridge, I like it. I'm
going to have one of these dimes made into a watch-charm and wear it
always, just to remind me how fine I felt over the first, the very
first, cent I ever honestly earned. And it's taught me one thing. I'll
quit idling. I shall never be a scholar like long-legged Jim, but I'll
_do_ things, I mean it. I'll find out what I can do best, and I think I
can guess that, and then I'm going ahead to do it. I'm going to ask Papa
to stop giving me money. I'm going to shock my mother by going to work.
But--that Prex is a wise old chap. He's taught hundreds, likely
thousands, of boys to make decent men and he's trying to teach me. He
says--"

"O, Monty! Quit! I've broiled that salmon steak to the Queen's taste and
the coffee's settled as clear as that spring water and--Supper's ready,
Miss Molly Breckenridge. Will your ladyship partake?" demanded Melvin,
interrupting.

Such a supper that was! Odd, that all the campers who had fared so
heartily just a little while before should suddenly be "taken hungry"
again and beg an invitation too. Even Farmer Grimm and his man waited
to feast with the others before riding home to carry the good news; then
departed, with the forgiven but shame-faced Anton riding between them
and with the precious packet of letters transferred from his pocket to
his master's for safe-keeping.

Molly stayed the night to rest; lying snug in her father's tent while he
sat long awake thinking of many things; but mostly thankful for the
safety of the little maid whose love and life meant all the world to
him. The dear, repentant child; who had not gone to sleep till, all
alone with him in the seclusion of his tent, she had clasped her arms
about his neck and begged his pardon for all her thoughtlessness.

"It was terrible there in the dark woods when I woke and found I was
lost, alone; but that wasn't half so terrible, it didn't make me feel
half so bad in here," laying her hand upon her heart, "as it does
knowing how unhappy I've made everybody and how much trouble given.
Seems if I never would be heedless and forget again, Papa dearest, seems
if! But I'm just only Molly--and I haven't much faith in your Molly,
Judge Breckenridge!"

What could he do but kiss her quivering lips and smile at the whimsical
way in which she expressed her contriteness? And, after all, would he
have had her greatly different from what she was by nature, just his
great-hearted, impulsive, precious Molly?

Next morning she rode home in great state. With Guide Merimée heading
the little cavalcade and with masters Melvin and Monty on either side
when that was practical for the crowding of the trees, and as van or
rear guard it was not. Because the road was straight enough to one who
knew it, as did the half-breed hunter, and that happy company followed
him with no thought of care. Monty was laden with wild-flowers of every
sort for Dorothy; Melvin had store of forsaken birds' nests, lichens,
and curious bits of stone or bark for Miss Greatorex to add to her
"collection," which Mrs. Hungerford assured her would cost more than it
was worth to pass the revenue officers. "No matter if it does!" cried
the happy teacher, "since it will be such an addition to Miss
Rhinelander's museum."

The guide brought fish, freshly caught that morning before daybreak, and
enough of game to feast even that farm crowd of "hands;" and having
tarried long enough to deliver the packet to Mrs. Hungerford, to assure
her that her brother was well and more than happy now; that he and the
other "Boys" intended to lengthen their vacation by a few weeks, in fact
to "stay just as long as they could;" to add that by no means must Molly
ride "off grounds" again, alone, and that Anton was not to be punished
for his "prank;" and to partake of Mrs. Grimm's most excellent food and
drink. Then he called the lads, now almost reluctant to leave the
pleasant place of peace and plenty, and rode away again, they following
and looking back again and again, to wave farewell.

"I never saw so great an improvement in two boys as in those!" said
Auntie Lu, standing to watch them disappear toward the forest, with
Molly fast in her arms and Dorothy beside her; then laughed at the
rather awkward manner in which she had expressed herself, as she saw
Miss Greatorex regarding her. But for once that estimable person was not
critical of others' speech or grammar; and murmured with an air of great
content:

"So many more weeks of rest and time to write up my travels."

Mrs. Hungerford sighed, but conquered the slight loneliness that now
oppressed her and set to work herself upon a vigorous correspondence and
the carrying forward of a matter her brother had outlined for her.
Sometimes in writing these letters she asked Dorothy to sit beside her
and would frequently look at the girl as if she were studying her
features or her manner. At such time Dolly felt a little awkward and
perplexed, yet always, in some indefinable manner, as if this scrutiny
were for her own good. Then Auntie Lu would laugh and call the girl her
"Inspiration," and write the faster.

Those last weeks on the old Farm were very quiet, uneventful, yet most
happy ones; and the two girls passed much of the time in the cool,
shadowy library, among the fine literature therein collected. For Molly
had no further desire at present for "larks" and began, instead, to find
out how much happiness one may find between the covers of a book.
Dorothy introduced her to Dickens, and thereafter the merry maid needed
no urging to: "Do sit down and read and let me do so!"

       *       *       *       *       *

One morning in that late summer time, Mrs. Betty Calvert was sitting on
a hotel veranda at the Springs. She was looking very handsome and
queenly, in her white gown, her piled-up, snow-white hair, and her "air
of one who belonged" to an old "aristocracy." A little table was beside
her, heaped with her morning's mail; for here, even as in her old home
at Bellvieu, she surrounded herself with more such reading matter than
she could use. But the letters were duly read and re-read, some of them;
and at last she dropped one to her lap, and remarked to a gentleman near
her:

"Cousin Seth, Lucretia Breckenridge always was a fool!"

"Hard judgment, Cousin Betty. I should have given quite the contrary. I
always thought her a very sweet, sensible, lovable woman."

"Hmm. You see a deal of 'sweetness' in this silly old world. But look
here. What sensible woman would write a letter of twenty pages when one
would do? All to convince me of something I already knew."

"Don't expect me to answer that. Go on and tell me what's 'meat' in so
much 'cocoanut.'"

"She believes--and she takes pages to justify her belief--that she has
traced the parentage of one Dorothy, a foundling! Indeed! Why, Seth,
those people up in that unhappy Nova Scotia--unhappy to be afflicted
with two such foolish visitors--they think themselves detectives fit to
rank with the world's greatest. I thought Schuyler had some sense if
Lucretia hadn't. If they weren't already there I'd bid them both 'go to
Halifax' as I used to be bidden when I was a naughty little girl and
plagued my nurse. She makes a great ado about Dorothy's 'unhappiness.' I
can't believe that. I never, never saw a happier child in all my life.
The idea! Lucretia is just as simple as she was always. She's set out to
find who Dorothy's parents are or were and she thinks she's found. The
idea! The impertinent minx!"

The "Learned Blacksmith" did not reply, but calmly perused his own
paper. He was a blacksmith transformed, and he seemed to fit into this
environment as readily and completely as he had fitted the simple life
of the old smithy under the Great Balm tree. He had recovered his health
but was sojourning for a little time in this old resort of his youth,
meeting those who were lads and maidens then but now as venerable as
himself. Few among them were as alert, as vigorous and as young of heart
as Cousin Betty and himself; and they two had, as a younger guest
remarked: "Been having the time of their lives. Why, that black-eyed old
lady has more attention this day than any of us girls; and as for wit
and repartée, there isn't her equal this year at our Springs."

After a few moments of this silence, during which Mrs. Calvert tapped
her white slipper impatiently, she interrupted her companion's reading
by an exclamation:

"Seth Winters, do put up that tiresome paper and listen. I don't believe
you've comprehended a single sentence you've looked at. I know. Your
eyes had that hungry-for-Dorothy look in them. Leastwise, if they
hadn't, the feel of it is in my own old heart. A pretty how'd-ye-do,
when that little Lu Breckenridge-Hungerford sets out to hint to me of my
duty! a slip of a girl like her--the saucy chit!"

Old Seth laughed, so merrily that others drew near to learn the sport;
seeing which, Mistress Elizabeth Cecil Somerset-Calvert, rather
haughtily arose and remarked:

"Come, Cousin Seth, I'd like to take a walk."

Pacing the green grove, up and down its smooth paths, they were
undisturbed; but now all desire for conversation had left Mrs. Betty.
She was, indeed, in deep reflection; wondering if a certain course she
had followed were all for the best as she had hitherto esteemed it; and
the only hint she gave to the blacksmith was the sentence:

"I wanted to wait till she came of her own accord. I've never quite
forgiven her for preferring that woman Martha to me."

Then she went on in a silence which he knew her too well to disturb and
finally she announced:

"I think I'll give a house party at Deerhurst. A regular old-fashioned
'infair,' though it'll be no bride for whom the festivity is given.
After the assembly--what seems best! Those Breckenridges and their
camping friends; including the old 'boys' and young ones. The foster
parents, of course; and Johnnie must be written to about bringing that
sealed letter of mine, that I entrusted to his care. I marked it not to
be opened till after my death; but I think I'll postpone dying--if God
wills!--for I'm not nearly so dumpish as I was the day I sealed that
packet and set my directions upon it. I may open it and I may not. I may
oblige Lu Breckenridge by letting her think she's a wonderful clever
woman, and I may take the wind out of her sails by telling her--the
truth. What do you say? Will you go along?"

"Will I not? I should go anyway, whether your house-warming-infair
materializes or not. I hope, though, you won't change your mind, because
I long for the mountain and my peaceful life upon it. I hope you'll
stick to this notion longer than some others."

"Then come in and help me write the invitations and set things in trim
for such a big entertaining. After they're written I can't change my
mind, you know, though I rarely do. I scorn the imputation. Only, ought
I to do it? Will it be for the best?"

"Oh! make haste, Betty Calvert! If I don't get those invitations off in
the first mail I'll never be allowed to send them at all!"

He spoke jestingly, yet not without deep sympathy. The "change of mind"
she intimated meant much, very much to little Dorothy; whose best
interests nobody had so much in mind as these two old people with the
young hearts. But his own desire was now for the clearing of all that
"mystery" which had enveloped the child from her infancy and which only
they two could solve.

The notes were written and most promptly posted. Then other matters were
put in line to make the reopening of Deerhurst the most memorable event
in its history. Servants were ordered thither, disused rooms were aired
and fitted for occupancy, every scrap of fallen leaf or intrusive weed
removed from its driveways and paths, and in all the glory of its
early-autumn beauty the fine old place awaited the coming of its
mistress and her guests.

First of all to arrive was one James Barlow, with two kindly happy dogs,
leaping and barking and doing their canine best to express their
happiness at seeing "home" once more. "Home" it was to the lad, also, as
he felt it now; tugging stoutly upon the chains of the Great Danes, lest
in their exuberant joy they should break away from him to gambol in the
geranium beds that glorified the lawn.

Around from the vine-draped back porch came old Ephraim and Dinah; Hans
and Griselda Roemer, who greeted Jim in their hearty German fashion, as
if he were their own son come home. And bless me! If out of that great
kitchen didn't issue Ma Babcock herself, and all her daughters a-trail
behind!

"Why, Mrs. Babcock, you here? Surely, this is indeed a surprise!" cried
Jim, releasing the Danes to Ephraim's care and clasping the hands she
extended toward him.

"Well, then, it needn't be. Me and Mis' Calvert has been neighbors this
long while, years indeed. So what more natural than, when all the
company was comin' and help so hard to get--capable help, you
know--up-mounting, but that old Seth, the farrier, should write me the
invite to come and take a hold of things and see that they was the
rightest kind of right for such grand doings? So I come; and I had to
fetch the girls along, 'cause I never do leave them out of any the good
times I have myself. Baretta stop holdin' onto my skirt! You'll pull it
clean out the gathers and it's just fresh-washed and ironed. Claretta,
will you never, never quit suckin' your thumb? Make your manners pretty,
darlin', to this fine gentleman! Who, after all said, is nobody but Jim
Barlow, makin' the most of his chance. Why, Alfy! You bashful? Come and
shake hands with your old friend and don't act simple!"

So Alfaretta came forward, a new modesty upon her and a change for the
better in her whole appearance, even after so short a time as this one
summer. And both happening to recall how she had greeted him when first
this "hero" was presented to her, they laughed and the "ice" which had
formed over their friendship during separation speedily melted.

"Pa Babcock, you're askin' for? Oh, he's well, that kind don't never
have nothing the matter with their health, though they're always
thinking they have. He stopped with his sister till she got tired and
shook him. Then he went to Chicago, where there's such a lot of silly
Nanarchists like himself, and there he's stayed. I hope will stay, too,
till the children get growed. He seems to be makin' his salt, some kind
of livin', and he's happy as a clam in high water. He hasn't a thing to
do but talk and talkin' suits him to a T. Best come in and get washed
up. A letter come from Dorothy's parents and the pair of 'em will be to
the Landing by the evening boat. Or one by train and one by boat. Anyhow
they'll both be there and I 'low they'd admire, just admire that it
should be you drove down to meet 'em. Me and Alfy and Dinah'll be right
on hand here to see they get their supper and to show 'em where they're
to sleep. You best hurry down to your own room to the gate-house and
clean yourself. You're powerful dusty and your face needs washin'. Alfy!
What you gigglin' at? Ain't I tellin' the truth? Ain't he a sight?"

"Yes, Ma, he is; one 'good for sore eyes,' as you sometimes say;" and
with this inelegant remark Miss Alfaretta walked away while laughing,
happy Jim sped downwards to the vine-wreathed lodge at the great
entrance gate. He had been happy all that summer, never more so; yet
happier than ever now as he stepped into the freshly furbished upper
chamber which was his own, his very home. All the dear familiar books
on the shelves, the snowy bed, the dainty neatness of the place that
showed the motherly touch of old Griselda everywhere, even to the bunch
of flowers upon the little table.

Dolly would have said that the bouquet looked "Dutchy," like the kind
hands which had arranged it; with its conflicting colors and its tightly
crowded bunches of bloom. But Dorothy wasn't there to comment, there was
nobody who could see him, and the orphan lad who had not yet outgrown
his boyish tenderness suddenly stooped and kissed it. Was this in memory
of a mother he had never known, or because of his gratitude for his
"home?"



CHAPTER XVI

WHEN JOURNEYS END IN WELCOME


"Welcome! Welcome! WELCOME!!"

The blacksmith, "himself once more" and not the summer idler on a hotel
veranda, stood at Mrs. Betty's right hand on the broad steps of
Deerhurst, to greet the carriages of happy folk who were whirled over
the curving driveways and up to the hospitable door which stood wide
open, as if eager to embrace them all in its own genial "welcome."

Somehow, there was a slight trembling in the hostess's slender frame and
she put out her white hand against the porch-pillar to steady herself.
Somehow, too, there seemed a little mist in her bright eyes, as she
peered anxiously outward toward her arriving guests. Had they all come?
Everyone whom she had bidden to her "infair?"

In the first carriage, the state barouche, sat the four grayheaded
"Boys" whom she had known all their lives and for whom her best was
prepared. In the next was "that slip of a girl," one Mrs. Lucretia
Hungerford, a "girl" whose locks were already touched with the rime of
years; a rather stern and dignified person who could be no other than
Miss Isobel Greatorex of whom Dorothy had written; and a cadet in gray.
A West Pointer! Off for the briefest of "furloughs" and a too-short
reunion with his radiant mother. Cadet Tom Hungerford, and no other.
Also, within that open trap a third gentlewoman, brought by Mrs.
Hungerford's invitation for a short "tour of the States" to see what
sort of home it was unto which she would consign her son, the lad Melvin
come to try his fortunes so far from home. The little widow, Mrs. Cook,
indeed; past mistress in the art of making gardens and good dinners, and
happy in her unexpected outing as a child. To her bonny face under its
white hair, with her lovely English color and her sorrow-chastened
smile, the heart of Mrs. Betty immediately went out in interest and
admiration. Stranger though she was her welcome, too, was ready.

But it was on that last open pony-cart, with its load of young folks,
that the eye of the hostess rested first and last. Such a gay and
laughing quartette that was! Molly and Dolly, the blonde and the
brunette, Monty and Melvin, the rotund and the slender; but Dolly the
gayest, the sweetest, the darlingest of all!

At least, that was what some of those welcoming people, grouped upon the
steps, believed with all their hearts. Father John and Mother Martha,
Mr. Seth and "Fairy Godmother," aye and honest Jim, first and
faithfullest of comrades--to these there was visible, for one moment,
no face save the face of smiling Dorothy.

When they were all housed and supper ended, they gathered in the great
parlors, which Alfaretta's capable hands had adorned with masses of
golden-rod, of scarlet woodbine and snowy wreaths of seeding
clematis--feathery and quite "too graceful for words," as Dorothy
declared, lovingly hugging Alfaretta who lingered by the door, a new
shyness upon her, yet longing to be beside these other girls and lads no
older than she, but who had seen so much more of the world in which they
all lived.

Then when Mrs. Betty begged:

"Now if all are rested, let's compare our notes of the summer and tell
what each found loveliest to remember. Come in, Alfaretta, and cuddle
down with the rest upon the rugs before the fire. Old Deerhurst is at
its best, to-night, filled with happiness. Now, Dr. Ryall, as
once-master of these other 'Boys,' can you give your happiest thought of
the summer?"

The venerable collegian leaned back and twirled his thumbs. He had left
his boyishness but not his happiness back in the Markland woods, and it
was quite gravely yet simply he answered:

"Why yes, Elizabeth, and easily. It was the awakening of Monty yonder
to a sense of his own responsibility as a human being, made in his
Creator's image. He's got down to bottom facts. He knows it isn't
dollars but doings that make God's true man. Needn't blush, my lad; but
be reverently thankful." Then he turned a merry glance upon the company
and demanded: "Next?"

And as if he were still in the class-room questioned upon a text-book,
his merchant-pupil answered:

"The happiest sight to me was the first salmon I landed!"

"A good and honest answer!" laughed Mrs. Betty, and like the president
called: "Next!"

One after another the answers came; that of the surgeon being the memory
of a wounded fawn whom he had cured and set at liberty again. The
Judge's happiest moment had been when he caught sight of Molly's face on
that dark night in the forest, when he dreaded lest he should see it no
more alive and alight with love.

All had some answer to give, even Miss Greatorex, who wondered why they
smiled when she recorded her blest experience in discovering a rare
specimen of quartz. Surely, that was the very best gift she was bringing
home to "the Rhinelander," and wasn't it a specimen worth the whole trip
to a "foreign" land?

Even the youngsters were pressed to tell what they had found choicest
and when Molly answered the question put to her, she spoke with a sweet
solemnity: "The sound of Melvin's bugle in the wilderness."

There was a momentary silence. All were more moved than they could say,
remembering how different a group this would have been had that bugle
never blown "Assembly" in that far-away forest. Dorothy said nothing.
Even when it came to her and the last "turn," she could only turn her
happy eyes to one and another of the loved faces before her and shake
her head. There had been times out there on the Nova Scotia farm when
she had not been happy; when the moods of "wondering" had disturbed her
peace and made her discontent. That was all past now that she was
reunited to Father John and Mother Martha and somehow, best of all, to
that beautiful, white-haired "Fairy Godmother," who had caught her to
her breast in such a tender fashion and had even left tears of joy from
the old, dark eyes upon her own upturned cheek. Why had she loved the
lady so? Why did the clasp of her slender arms seem so much more than
that of sturdy Mrs. Martha? Dorothy inwardly upbraided herself for the
disloyal feeling, but she was too honest to deny even to herself that
her dearest welcome home had come from one on whom she had no claim.

"Well, Dolly Doodles, it isn't fair for all the rest to tell their part
and you just sit mum and stare and stare and stare! Honey Doll, I'm
ashamed of you!" cried Molly.

Thus goaded into speech, Dorothy answered: "The happiest thing I've
known isn't past, in the summer-time, but just right now and here. It's
coming home to Deerhurst and--YOU!"

She could not have helped it and she could not have explained why not;
but there was a look in Mrs. Betty's eyes, an appealing tenderness that
went straight to the heart of the girl, who sped like an arrow shot from
the hearth to a place in her hostess's arms.

And again there was silence; while some of that goodly company exchanged
most speaking glances. Then with a gesture prouder than the proudest she
had ever given, Mrs. Calvert lifted her head and beckoned the Judge.

"Schuyler, you're a lawyer and that rare one, an honest man. I depute
you to open this sealed document and read the contents to the company.
Practically, it is my 'last will and testament'--I mean the last one
I've made, though I'm likely to alter it a score of times yet! I
inscribed it 'to be opened after my death,' but as I feel I've just
secured a new lease of life you needn't wait for that but shall open it
now."

She spoke with all her old whimsicality but with a tremor in her voice,
and somehow Seth Winters managed to place himself a little nearer to her
and Dorothy clung the tighter about her neck.

Not yet did the child dream that this sealed packet related to herself
or that the irrepressible feeling which had sent her flying to the old
gentlewoman's arms had been the call of the blood. She merely felt that
her "Godmother" needed soothing and that it was her delightful duty to
so soothe.

There is no need to here repeat the technical wording of what the Judge
so distinctly read in his clear, strong voice, amid a silence which
except for that voice would have echoed the falling of the proverbial
"pin." He summed it up after one reading in a brief epitome:

"Dorothy, otherwise Dorothy Elizabeth Somerset Calvert, is the last and
nearest living relative of Mrs. Elizabeth Cecil Somerset-Calvert. She is
the only child of one Cecil Calvert, deceased, and of Miriam his wife.
Cecil Calvert, herein named, was the only son of the only son of Mrs.
Calvert's only brother. The descent is clear and unmistakable. Cecil
Calvert, the father of Dorothy, was early left an orphan and was
'raised' by Mrs. Betty, presumably to be her heir. When he came of age
to want a wife she provided one for him. He objected and made his own
choice. She cut him off with a limited income, but sufficient for one
differently reared, and taking his bride he went to the far West. There
he died and his wife soon followed him; but her illness was a lingering
one and during it she sought to provide for their baby Dorothy.

"This envelope contains her letters and those of her husband, written
after his fatal seizure to Mrs. Calvert, describing everything connected
with their young and, as it proved, improvident lives. Neither of them,
the sad wife protests, had ever been trained to the wise handling of
money or of anything useful. It had not been their fault so much as
their misfortunes that they were dying in what was to them real poverty;
and the pathetic letters ended with the declaration that, after its
mother's death, the child Dorothy would be safely convoyed to its
great-great-aunt's door and left to her to be 'fairly dealt with.' It
was all quite simple and direct; the commonplace story of many other
lives."

But here Mrs. Betty, stifling the emotion which the re-reading of the
papers had roused in her, took up the tale herself.

"When the baby came I was indignant. That at first. I felt I was too old
to have a squalling infant forced into my house. Then better thoughts
prevailed. I saw in the little thing traces of my own family likeness
and I would have kept her. It was old Dinah and Ephraim who advised me
then and wisely I believe, though there have been times when I've wished
I hadn't listened to them. They told me with the privilege of life-long
service, that I'd made a brilliant failure of my raising of Cecil. They
advised me to hunt up some worthy couple unburdened with children of
their own and force the child upon them, to rear in simple, sensible
ways, I to pay such a sum as would provide for the child's actual
necessities. No more. I listened and the notion falling in somewhat with
my own conviction--you behold the result.

"Dorothy is what she is; to me the loveliest little maid in God's good
world. Save what nature implanted in her, all that makes her adorable to
me and others is due to her foster-parents, the most unselfish and
self-devoted pair of mortals it has ever been my lot to know in my long
life. She belongs to them more than to me; but it shall be as she and
they elect. Even yet I will try to say it justly.

"My homes are many and ample. There is room in every one of them for a
little household of four. Johnnie, Martha, my own Dorothy, shall we not
make at last, one unbroken, happy family?"

It was a long speech and it had sorely tried the speaker. One by one her
guests withdrew, leaving only the "four" of whom she spoke with that
faithful friend of all, the radiant Seth, remaining in that firelit
room.

Then cried Dorothy, running to draw her foster-parents to her
great-aunt's side:

"Yes, father, yes mother! Come and be--_us!_ I have a name at last and
it still must be yours with 'Calvert' at the end, a hyphen between! Say
yes, dear ones, who've loved me all my life. We want you, 'Godmother'
and I, and don't you dare--don't either of you dare to be proud and
independent now, when your little girl's so happy--_so happy!_"

Who could withstand her? Or the sincere affection which beamed upon them
from Mrs. Cecil's fine old eyes? Not "whistling Johnnie" of the big
heart, himself; nor faithful Martha, radiant now in the doing away of
"mysteries" and the happiness of the girl who had been found a
"squalling baby" on her doorstep.

So the night fell on Dorothy Calvert's homecoming and home-finding. Once
more she stood on the threshold of a new life. What befell her in it and
what use she made of some of the great gifts which had come to her
cannot be told here. That telling must be left for other pages and
other hours; perhaps the reader will like to go with us to "Dorothy's
House party," until then let us bid happy Dorothy a glad

Good night!

                         THE END



TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE:

Minor changes have been made to correct typesetters' errors and ensure
consistent usage of punctuation in this e-text; otherwise, every effort
has been made to be faithful to the author's words and intent.





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