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Title: Cricket at the Seashore
Author: Timlow, Elizabeth Weston, 1861-1931
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 "Cricket at the Seashore" ***

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produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)



[Illustration: "CRICKET WENT TO THE WINDOW AND PEEPED OUT"]



CRICKET AT THE SEASHORE


BY
ELIZABETH WESTYN TIMLOW

AUTHOR OF "CRICKET: A STORY FOR LITTLE GIRLS"


ILLUSTRATED BY
HARRIET ROOSEVELT RICHARDS


BOSTON

ESTES AND LAURIAT

PUBLISHERS


_Copyright, 1896_

BY ESTES & LAURIAT


Colonial Press:

C. H. Simonds & Co., Boston, Mass., U. S. A.



TO

My Mother



  CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER                             PAGE

      I. OLD BILLY                      11

     II. A BROKEN WHEEL                 21

    III. CRICKET'S DISCOVERY            33

     IV. KEEPING STORE                  45

      V. A BATH IN CURDS AND WHEY       61

     VI. BEAR ISLAND                    79

    VII. THE EXILES                    101

   VIII. A NEW PLASTER                 117

     IX. GEORGE W. AND MARTHA          132

      X. THE ECHO CLUB                 147

     XI. THE "ECHO"                    165

    XII. THE HAIRS OF HIS HEAD         180

   XIII. A WRESTLING MATCH             192

    XIV. PLAYING NURSE                 204

     XV. A KNITTING-BEE                213

    XVI. TWO LITTLE RUNAWAYS           223

   XVII. HILDA ARRIVES                 237

  XVIII. A SAILING PARTY               251

    XIX. BECALMED                      267

     XX. A NEW HIDING-PLACE            287

    XXI. BILLY'S PRAYER                306

   XXII. HELEN'S TEXT                  323

  XXIII. THE JABBERWOCK                333

   XXIV. AFTER THE SACRIFICE           344

    XXV. THE END OF THE SUMMER         359



  LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


                                               PAGE

  "CRICKET WENT TO THE WINDOW AND PEEPED
  OUT"                               _Frontispiece_

  "OLD BILLY TELLS HIS STORY TO THE TWINS"       31

  LANDING ON BEAR ISLAND                         87

  "THE EXILES"                                   99

  FEEDING GEORGE WASHINGTON--"CRICKET
  BORE OFF HER CHARGE TO THE KITCHEN"           137

  "SHE BURIED HERSELF IN HER NEXT STORY
  FOR 'THE ECHO'"                               205

  HILDA'S ARRIVAL                               235

  "CRICKET SAT DOWN ON THE BEACH WITH
  THE CHILDREN"                                 293



CRICKET AT THE SEASHORE



CHAPTER I.

OLD BILLY.


The summer at Marbury had begun. On the 20th of June, after seeing the
Europe-bound party off for New York, the Ward children had arrived, bag
and baggage, under Auntie Jean's escort.

Early the first morning after their arrival, Cricket awoke Eunice with a
punch.

"Eunice, what do you think I am going to do to-day? and I'm going to do
it every day till I succeed."

"Don't know, I'm sure," said Eunice, sleepily. "Don't tumble round so.
It isn't time to get up."

"Oh, you're such a lazybones," sighed Cricket, whose light, active frame
required less sleep than Eunice's heavier build. "It's six o'clock, for
the clock just struck. Now I'll tell you what I want to do. Let's dig
in the sand-banks every day, and see if we can't find mamma's money-bag,
that she and auntie buried there so long ago."

"All right, and let's search in the cove for the little turquoise ring
you lost two years ago, in bathing," answered Eunice, still sleepily,
but with much sarcasm.

"Now, Eunice, you needn't come out with any of your sarcastic sinuates,"
said Cricket, tossing her curly head. "_I'm_ going to do it anyway, and
I'm going to find it. I feel it in my bones, as 'Liza says, and I'm
going to begin straight after breakfast, if we don't do anything else.
Don't tell any one, for I want to surprise everybody."

"I think you're safe to do it, if you want to. I won't tell. Wonder if
they've sailed yet," with a thought of the travellers.

"The steamer doesn't sail till eleven; don't you remember? Prob'ly
they're just getting up. Come, Eunice, get up. I hear the boys, now."

Cricket scrambled out of bed and ran to the window to peep out.

"There they go now for their swim. Boys! Boys! wait for me!" and Cricket
dropped into her bathing-suit, which had been put out all ready the
night before, and flew down-stairs to join the boys in their morning
plunge in the sea, her bare arms gleaming from the dark-blue of her
suit, and bathing-shoes protecting her feet from the sharp stones in the
rough lane that led to the cove.

They had a glorious swim. At least, Will and Archie swam, and Cricket
splashed under their directions. She had almost learned to swim the last
time that she had been at Marbury in the summer-time, two years before,
and she could already float nicely and go "dog-paddle," but she had
great difficulty in making any headway in swimming.

"There!" she sputtered, in triumph, at last, clinging hold of the
swimming-raft; "I almost got away from the place where I was, then." She
turned over on her back to rest herself, and float for a moment, then
prepared for another start.

"I don't seem to wiggle my feet right. I get so destracted thinking of
my hands, that I always forget to kick. I can't keep my mind in two
places at once."

"Now try again," said Will, good-naturedly. "See here. Draw up your
feet as you bring your hands together and kick _hard_, when you throw
them out. Go just like a frog. That's fine. Now again. Draw up, kick
out, draw up, kick out--fine!" and Cricket, sputtering and laughing,
drew herself up on the swimming-raft, having really swum two feet. And
then it was time to go out.

The cove was some little distance from the house, so, after scampering
up the lane, their bathing-suits were almost dry. There were
bathing-houses down there, but for this early morning dip they liked
better to get into their bathing-suits at the house, and dress there.

When Cricket flew up-stairs into her room, glowing and rosy, she found
Eunice only partly dressed, with the sleep not half out of her drowsy
eyes.

"Oh, you lazy thing!" cried Cricket, retiring behind the screen. "You
don't know how fine I feel. My skin is all little prickles."

"I shouldn't think that would be very comfortable," said Eunice,
brushing out her long, dark hair, and braiding it. "I like to sleep in
the morning better than you do, anyway. Did you dive for mamma's
money-bag?"

"You needn't laugh at me," said Cricket, emerging, half-dressed
already. "I mean to find it. You'll see." But she inwardly registered a
vow that she would pursue her search alone.

The Ward children had never spent much time at Marbury, with grandma,
since they had their own summer home at Kayuna, in East Wellsboro. They
had often been there for short visits, however, as mamma generally took
one or another of her little flock with her, in her frequent trips to
see grandma.

Marbury lies in Marbury Bay, which is very large, but so shallow that at
low tide the mud-flats are all exposed for a long distance out. A long
tongue of land, principally sand-banks, stretches half around the bay,
making a break-water from the ocean, and rendering the harbour a very
safe one for sailing. Will and Archie Somers were capital sailors,
inheriting their grandfather's love of the sea. Back of the house, over
a short, steep hill, lay the beginning of the sand-banks, where mamma
and auntie had buried their money-bags long ago. Then beyond these
sand-banks, on the ocean-side, was another deep small curve, called the
cove, where the children bathed. It was a safe, sheltered spot, with a
good bit of beach. Altogether, Marbury had many attractions.

What chattering and gabbling there was that first morning at breakfast,
when all sorts of plans were projected for the summer's amusement! Mrs.
Somers and her children had spent most of the warm weather at Marbury,
for years, so that Will, and Archie, and Edna knew every inch of the
country for miles around, and were eager to do the honours.

"'Wot larks' we're going to have," cried Archie, as they all got up from
the table. "Think of it, grandma! all summer! whoop!" with a shout, as
he vanished, that made grandma cover her deafened ears in dismay, as the
whole flock trooped after.

"Dear me! mother," said Mrs. Somers, privately, as they stood together
on the piazza, "I begin to think that we've undertaken a great deal, to
keep this horde in order for a whole season. Can you ever stand it in
the world? I scarcely realized that there would be eight of them."

"We'll manage beautifully," said grandma, cheerily. "The boys go to
their camp for a month, you know, and the little girls will soon settle
down."

"Yes, and Edna will have to spend two weeks with her Grandmother Somers,
at Lake Clear, as usual, and as for the twins, Eliza manages them really
beautifully, and Kenneth is no more trouble than a kitten. Eunice and
Cricket are used to running pretty wild all summer. If the confusion is
not too much for you, that's all I'm thinking of."

"And I'm on special police duty," broke in Arthur, popping up from
behind the vines. "I'll chuck the baddest ones overboard any time you
say."

"And there's old Billy for special guard duty," added auntie, laughing.
"See him now, poor old fellow! he doesn't know whether he's scared out
of his few wits, or whether he likes the commotion."

Grandma followed auntie's glance.

"He likes it," she said, "for see, he's bringing out his music-box, and
that's the highest honour he can pay any one."

I must stop right here and tell you about old Billy, for he was a
life-long institution at grandma's. I wish I could make you see the dear
old fellow as I see him now, in my mind's eye. A tall, thin, bent old
man he was, not much over fifty, in reality, though he looked seventy. A
shock of rough gray hair stood out all over his head, and a gray,
tousled-looking beard covered half his face. A pair of keen,
startled-looking eyes flashed sharp, observant glances this way and
that, from under his shaggy eyebrows. Few words he had on any occasions,
but he generally spoke straight to the point.

A sad story had poor old Billy. He had been a bright lad in a
neighbouring village, and, when he was about eighteen, had come to work
for Captain Maxwell. He was very faithful and responsible, and soon
became a fixture on the place. Then poor Billy one day got a terrible
fall in the barn, and was taken up for dead. However, he was not dead,
only unconscious, and terribly hurt. He had a long and severe illness,
during which Mrs. Maxwell had him carefully nursed and cared for in her
own home.

At length he recovered, but, alas! his poor mind was hopelessly
affected, and the doctor said that, though he might be much better, he
would never be quite right again. Everybody thought they ought to send
him to the poorhouse, as he had no home to be sent to, but Captain
Maxwell refused to do this. So he stayed on, and, gradually, as he grew
stronger, he took up some simple duties again. However, he had forgotten
everything, even how to read.

But he was very happy in his dim way, for he did not realize all that
had happened to him. So several years passed, when suddenly a lawyer's
letter was received, stating that William Ruggles was heir to a large
amount of money from a brother who had gone West many years before and
had never been heard of since. He had died leaving no family, and no
other heir than Billy.

Of course there was a great deal of troublesome law business to be
adjusted, but the end of it was that, a few months later, Billy was in
possession of a small fortune. The next question was, what to do with
him. He could not stay on as a servant at the Maxwells, and he was
entirely unable to take care of himself. Captain Maxwell had been
appointed his guardian, and trustee of his property. There chanced to be
a small unused building, once an office, on the grounds, and this was
easily changed into a suitable abode for Billy. He had his little
sitting-room, bedroom, and kitchen, and some one to take care of it and
of him, and here lived Billy, as happy as a king. When Captain Maxwell
died, Mrs. Maxwell took Billy as one of her legacies, and here he
probably would end his days.

It was hard at first to make him understand that he need not do any more
work, and yet could have what he called his "pay," just the same, for it
was useless to tell him about his property. His allowance had to be a
small one, for it was soon found that generous Billy emptied his pockets
on all occasions to any one asking. So his allowance was limited to
twenty-five cents a week in his own hands, but the spending of his
"dollar," as he always called his quarter, gave him quite as much
pleasure as if it had been hundreds. He always spent this for tobacco
and peppermint candy, his two luxuries.

Mrs. Ward and Mrs. Somers had been little girls of ten and twelve when
Billy first came there, and all through their childhood he had been
their devoted slave, for the poor soul was patience and fidelity itself.
And to the second generation, old Billy was as much part of the
landscape as the bay itself.



CHAPTER II.

A BROKEN WHEEL.


"Let's take a ride, the very first thing we do," said Eunice, eagerly,
after breakfast. "I'm wild to get behind Mopsie and Charcoal again," for
the ponies had been sent over from East Wellsboro for the children's
use.

"I'm going to--" began Cricket, and then she stopped, remembering that
she was going to surprise the family with what she felt sure would be
the result of her mining explorations,--the finding of mamma's
long-buried money-bag. But then, she could dig any time, she reflected.

So Luke, the man, brought up the ponies, harnessed to the little cart,
that was getting to be close quarters for Eunice and Cricket, to say
nothing of Edna.

"Dearest old Charcoal!" said Eunice, caressing her pony, as he rubbed
his affectionate head against her shoulder, expecting sugar; "isn't it
lovely to have him again! But, Cricket, don't you think he is really
getting smaller all the time? Last summer his head came above my
shoulder, and look at him now!"

"Does it occur to you that your shoulder may be growing above his head?"
suggested Auntie Jean, laughing. "Unless you put a brick on your head, I
am sadly afraid that you wouldn't be able to ride Charcoal next summer."

"When Eunice and Cricket are big ladies, Helen and I are going to have
the ponies. Papa said so," piped up Zaidee.

"Dear me!" said Cricket, mournfully. "I wish I could take a tuck in my
legs. I don't want them to get so long that I can't ride Mopsie. Get in,
girls. Hello, Billy! If we had any room, we'd take you, too."

Billy grinned.

"Old Billy can walk as fast as them little tikes can run," he said, with
scorn.

"All right, then, you come, too," said Edna, jumping into the cart; "you
jog along behind. Don't you want to?" And off started the little
cavalcade, with Cricket driving, because she was the smallest, and could
perch up on the others' knees, while old Billy, all beam, jogged after,
making almost as good time, with his long legs and shambling gait, as
the ponies.

Back of Marbury there are miles of level roads, almost free of
underbrush, intersected in every direction with roads and lanes, and one
can drive for hours without leaving the shelter of the stately forest
trees.

They had been riding for an hour or more, laughing and singing, and
shouting sometimes, since there was no one to be disturbed, when
suddenly one wheel went over a big stone, which Cricket, in glancing
back to see if Billy were in sight, did not notice and turn out for.

"Look out, Cricket!" warned Eunice, but too late. Thump came down the
wheel and crack went something, and in a twinkling down came one side of
the cart, while the wheel lay on the ground. The well-trained little
ponies stood still at the first "whoa!" and the children were out in a
flash.

They looked at each other in dismay. How should they get the cart home
again with only one wheel?

"And we must be twenty miles from home," said Eunice, soberly.

"Oh, no, we're not," said Edna, for as she usually spent her summers at
Marbury, she knew this country-side well. "Only two or three miles,
that's all. You see we've been driving around so much that it seems
longer, but it's not really far. This lane leads out on to the
Bainbridge road, by the old Ellison Place, and that's only two miles
from home. But, after all, nobody may come along here for hours to help
us about the cart."

Just then old Billy came lumbering up around the curve behind them.

"Sho, now!" he said, surveying the wreck. "Wheel's come off."

"Exactly so, Billy. Now the question is, can we get it on?" returned
Eunice.

But something was broken, and getting it on proved impossible.

"Billy carry the cart," suggested that individual, who had a high
opinion of his own strength.

"Well, hardly, Billy,--but, oh, I have an idea! Billy, you hold up the
cart on that side, so it will run on the other wheel as the ponies draw
it, and Cricket can lead them, and Edna and I will roll the wheel along.
You said it wasn't far, Edna."

Billy lifted the side of the cart, obediently, while Cricket started the
ponies forward. This worked very well. Then Edna and Eunice armed
themselves with sticks and found that their new variety of wheel rolled
in fine style, with a little persuasion.

"What a come down," laughed Eunice. "We start out in state, and we come
back on foot."

"Let's play we're a triumphant procession," instantly suggested Cricket,
the fertile of resource. "I'll be the emperor, what was his name? The
one that conquered Zenobia. I'll be that one, and Billy is one of my
slaves, a captive of war, and you can be Zenobia, Eunice, and you're her
daughter, Edna, coming into Rome at the head of my procession after
you're conquered. You go ahead singing 'Hail to the Chief.' That's it;
march along like that. Now don't go too fast. I really ought to be
riding in the cart, but I'm afraid Billy couldn't hold me up, so I'll
play I'm tired of riding in state. Play we haven't come into the city
yet."

"I can't think how 'Hail to the Chief' goes," said Eunice, after one or
two attempts at the tune. "I keep getting into 'Hail Columbia happy
land.'"

"That won't do, for this is Rome and not Columbia we're coming to. This
is the way that 'Hail to the Chief' goes," and Cricket sang the first
line.

Now Cricket, alas, was, unfortunately, absolutely devoid of voice to
sing. She loved music dearly, but she could not keep to a tune to save
her life. Like a certain modern heroine, she could not even keep the
shape of the tune. Consequently, unless the girls had known the words,
they could not have told whether she was singing "Old Hundred," or
"Tommy, make room for your uncle."

Edna and Eunice almost doubled up with laughter. Edna sang like a little
woodthrush, and Eunice also had a sweet and tuneful voice.

"Oh, Cricket, you'll kill me," gasped Edna. "Your voice goes up when it
should go down, and down when you ought to go up, and the rest of the
time you go straight along."

Cricket looked injured, for, strange to say, she was sensitive on the
subject. She loved music so dearly, that she never could understand why
she couldn't make the sounds she wished come out of her little round
throat.

"I never pretended that I thought I could be singeress to the
President," she remarked, with dignity. "Anyway, if I'm emperor, I have
people to sing for me. Begin, Zenobia."

"I don't know 'Hail to the Chief,'" said Edna. "Let's sing 'Highland
Laddie'--I love that," and Edna piped up in a gay little voice, that
startled the birds overhead, and presently attracted the attention of
two prowlers, who were getting birds' eggs for their collection.

"The kids have had an accident," said one of them, peering through the
trees. "Hi! there!"

"There are the boys," said Eunice, as the "triumphant procession" halted
at the voice. "Come and help us," she called.

"No, we don't want any help," said Edna, moving on, "and boys are such a
bother. Don't call them." But the boys needed no calling, and so she
added, with decision, "You can't come with us unless you behave
yourselves."

"We're a triumphant procession," explained Cricket, "and you must go
behind and be slaves. I'm the emperor that captured Zenobia, and Edna
and Eunice are Zenobia and her daughter. They're to march in front,
singing, and Billy is one of my captives who carries my chariot because
the wheel came off, and these are my elephants that draw it. Ho, there,
base minion! are you tired?" for Billy was grunting a little under his
burden.

"Guess one of them boys better spell old Billy a little," suggested the
slave, putting down his side of the chariot, and mopping off his face
with his red bandanna. "Cart's kinder heavy when you carry it so fur.
Hurts your hand, too."

"That's so, boys," said the emperor, stopping her diminutive elephants.
"Do help him, please. There, now, Zenobia and her daughter are almost
out of sight. Put your eggs and things in the cart, Will,--I mean in the
chariot. Now let's start. Billy, you can walk in front of me now."

They started on again, the boys holding up the side of the demoralized
chariot, and keeping up a fire of jokes.

"Next time you're emperor, Marcus Aurelius, see that your groom looks
after your chariot wheels before you start," said Archie, finally. "It
would be inconvenient to have a wheel come off when you're making a
charge, and it would give your majesty a nasty fall."

"Yes, my grooms are getting very careless. I think I'll make gladiolas
of them, and get some new ones. I captured a couple of pretty fair
looking slaves, a little while ago, that I'm thinking will do. If they
don't," she added, severely, "I'll cut off their heads, and put them in
a dungeon."

"Don't do that. I'd rather you'd make a 'gladiola' of me, too. I don't
mind so much about my head, but don't put me in a dungeon. See here,
emperor, next time you break down, please do it within easy reach of
your ancestral halls. The side of this chariot hurts my hands, and I
wouldn't demean myself so for any one but your majesty."

"That's too bad. Shall I carry it a little while?" asked the emperor,
sympathizingly, as they turned into the main road. "My hands are pretty
strong."

"No; your humble slaves can manage a little longer."

"It's a good mile home, now," said Archie. "See here. The blacksmith
shop is not far down the road. We'll leave the cart there, to be mended.
Edna! Eunice! Stop at the blacksmith's."

So the "triumphant procession" came to a halt, while the ponies were
unharnessed, and the cart and wheel left for repairs. Cricket mounted
Mopsie, with the boys walking beside her, while Billy stalked along,
leading Charcoal, since Eunice and Edna were walking along together.

Will was very fond of his merry little cousin, who laughed at his jokes,
took his teasing good-naturedly, and loved and admired him with all her
heart. He was nearly sixteen, big and strong of his age, and Cricket
thought him the nicest boy in the world. She was not nearly so fond of
Archie, who was a year younger than Will. He teased her more, was
quicker-tempered, somewhat conceited, and rather liked to order the
girls around. He was slight and small for his age, and he did not have
his reddish hair for nothing.

Auntie met them at the gate, with an anxious face.

"What has happened, children?" she asked, resignedly.

"Nothing, much, auntie," answered Cricket, cheerfully. "We lost the
cart-wheel off, that's all. It was real fun coming home. We left it at
the blacksmith's to get it mended."

"So you've begun already," said auntie, laughing, but relieved.

[Illustration: "OLD BILLY TELLS HIS STORY TO THE TWINS"]



CHAPTER III.

CRICKET'S DISCOVERY.


Old Billy sat in the front yard, under a big tree, telling stories to
the twins. Perhaps I should say telling _a_ story, for Billy's range was
limited to a single tale, and when he had told this, if any child wanted
more, he simply had to tell it over again. It was a story with a moral,
and was drawn from Billy's own experience. It was about a bad little
boy, who ate up all his sister's pep'mint drops. This was the worst of
crimes, in Billy's eyes, for to him pep'mint drops were a sacred
possession, not even to be lightly referred to.

"His marmer," went on Billy, impressively, "kep' a-whippin' him, an'
a-whippin' him, but it warn't no kind o' use, an' didn't do a mite o'
good. And just think, children," finished Billy, solemnly, "when that
bad, naughty, selfish little boy died, he couldn't go to Heaven and be a
good little angel, but he had to go to the Bad Place."

The children listened with wide-open eyes.

"Where is the Bad Place, Billy?" questioned Zaidee, looking
interestedly up into Billy's face.

Billy looked slowly all about him, and above him, and then at the
ground, puzzled, now, what to say. He was not very clear, himself. He
looked again at the blue sky, flecked with soft, white clouds.

"Wal, I think, children," he said, in his slow way, "that Heaven is up
there where all them little bright specks is at night. I guess them's
holes in the floor. Can't see 'em daytimes, you know, when the lights
are out, up above. 'N' I ruther guess t'other place is down under
there, pointing to the ground."

Helen jumped.

"Oh, I don't want it right under our foots. The ground might crack,
Billy, and we'd fall in. _Please_ don't say it's there," she begged,
earnestly.

But Zaidee immediately began to poke the ground with great interest, and
stamp hard upon it.

"Do you really think it's down there, Billy?" she asked, excitedly. "Oh,
Helen, let's dig and find it! How far down is it, Billy?"

"Wal, now, I dunno as it's down there at all. Dunno as it is, dunno
_as_ it is. Folks say it's purty hot there."

"I know a nice place to dig, Helen, and that's the sand-banks. They're
so nice and soft. Let's go and try it."

But Helen hung back, and Billy said, anxiously, "I wouldn't. Folks say
that Somebody lives there."

"Who?" demanded Zaidee.

"Wal, folks says as Mr. Satan lives round them parts," answered Billy,
cautiously.

"Oh, don't let's dig, Zaidee, I'm afraid," said timid little Helen,
clinging to Zaidee's hand. "He might not like it, if we finded him."

Zaidee, always more daring than her delicate little twin, did not think
so.

"'Course we'll be careful not to bunk right into him," she conceded.
"We'll dig very slowly when we get pretty near there. Come on, Helen.
Want to come, Billy?"

"Sho, now!" said Billy, looking very unhappy over this unexpected result
of his little moral tale. Once, long ago, a mischievous boy-visitor had
taken and eaten all Billy's peppermints, and he never forgot it. He
always took occasion to tell it as a story to every little newcomer, to
ensure the safety of his valued peppermints, but no one had ever thus
applied the story before.

"Seems as if I wouldn't try, children," he repeated, anxiously. "You
might tumble in."

But when Zaidee's mind was once set on an enterprise, nothing could turn
her. She ran away for the shovels and dragged reluctant Helen with her.
They selected a nice hollow place in the sand, and began to dig
furiously. In a few minutes they had a hole a foot deep. Zaidee balanced
herself on the edge, on her knees, and put her hands down on the bottom
of the hole.

"I do think it's getting hotter, Helen, just feel."

Helen put her hand down, rather fearfully.

"It's getting _very_ hot, Zaidee, and don't let's dig any more."

"Don't be a 'fraid cat," responded Zaidee, promptly. "It's only a little
bit hot. We must dig until it's ever so much hotter yet," and Zaidee
went on throwing up the sand, energetically.

"Oh, dear! how it all slides down the sides. I'll have to get in it and
dig," she said, presently.

"Don't! don't!" cried Helen, in great terror, clutching Zaidee with
both hands. "Don't go down there. You might tumble right through any
time right on Mr. Satam's head!"

But Zaidee, unheeding, jumped into the hole, and went on digging,
sturdily, while Helen, frightened and apprehensive, watched her from
above. Suddenly she shrieked in new terror:

"Oh, Zaidee! come out! please come out! I see the feathers on his cap
sticking right up there! oh, you'll hit him in a minute, and he'll jump
up!" for "Mr. Satam," and Indian chiefs, with waving plumes, and
tomahawks, formed a very confused picture in her mind.

Zaidee scrambled up in a flash.

"Where? Where?" she cried, peering down when safe above. Truly, at the
bottom of the hole was seen the top of a feather dropped from a
sea-gull's wing, and buried under the drifting sand, but the startled
children never doubted that it was growing fast on the top of "Mr.
Satam's" head, and they waited in terrified silence for that head to
rise and confront them.

Meanwhile, Billy was wandering around in great anguish of soul, not
knowing what dreadful thing might happen any moment. He started back to
the house at last. Cricket came skipping down the piazza steps.

"See here, young 'un," Billy began, eagerly,--he seldom called the
children by their names. "I'm afraid suthin' dretful's goin' to happen."

"What's the matter, Billy? Why, how your hands shake!"

"Perhaps you can stop 'em," went on Billy, hurriedly; "them ere little
tikes is a-doin' a dretful thing. They're over by the sand-bank,
a-diggin' fur--hell." He brought out this last word in a deep,
half-frightened whisper.

"Digging for _what_? Oh, Billy!" and Cricket's laugh rang out. "You know
better than that. Where are they? I'm going to dig a little myself, and
they might help me."

Billy looked a little shamefaced at Cricket's laugh.

"Don't you think they could get there, then?" he asked, looking
relieved. "I don't really know just where 'tis, myself. Didn't want
them little tikes to come to no harm, that's all."

"Billy, think how silly of you to think that place is under the ground.
Think how men dig wells and mines, and things, and nothing ever happens,
unless they cave in, or something like that, which doesn't count," said
Cricket, skipping and dancing on, as usual, while Billy shambled along
by her side. "I'm just ashamed of you."

Billy looked crushed.

"I s'pose I'm a silly boy," he said, meekly, for the poor old fellow was
never anything but a boy in his own eyes. "See here, don't say nothin'
to Mis' Maxwell, will you?" he added, anxiously.

Just then the children, who still stood, frightened yet curious, by the
hole, caught sight of them coming. They both made a wild rush and caught
Cricket's hands.

"I'm so 'fraid, Cricket," half sobbed Helen. "Zaidee digged for the Bad
Place and we've most found it, and there's a feather of Mr. Satam's
head, sticking right up, and I'm 'fraid he may bounce up and get us."

Cricket doubled up with laughter.

"Oh, you silly children! You're thinking of a red Indian, I guess.
That's nothing but some bird's feather. If you dug long enough, you'd
come to China, that's all."

"But it got so hot, Cricket," insisted Zaidee, "an' Billy says it's
awfully hot there."

"'Course it's hot when you dig down, because the centre of the earth is
all burning up, you know, but I don't think you'll get far enough to get
scorched any. You're silly children, any way," finished Cricket, with a
very elder-sisterly air.

Nevertheless, Helen did not feel secure until Cricket had jumped into
the hole and pulled up the feather, triumphantly.

"Now I'm going to dig myself," with a deep-laid purpose in her mind,
"and you may dig, too. You start another hole, right here. I'll dig this
big one out more, and I'll be an incubus"--meaning nobody knows
what--"and live in it, and you be little crabs trying to get out of my
way in these holes of yours."

The children, quite reassured now as to the safety of their pet
amusement, dug away merrily, while Billy, like an amiable Turk, sat
cross-legged near by.

The shifting stretches of sand changed their shape year by year with the
wind and rain, and Cricket had no definite idea of the exact locality of
the spot where mamma and auntie had buried their money-bags, thirty
years before. She enlarged the hole the children had begun, till it was
quite an excavation, carrying on her game of "incubus" with the children
all the time. At last she concluded to sit down and rest. She planted
herself in the bottom of the hole, with her curly crop not visible above
the top of it. She pulled up her sleeve, plunging her hand idly in the
dry, cool sand, till her arm was buried far above the elbow. Then her
hand struck a resisting object.

"Oh, _oh_!" she shrieked, immediately, not daring to move her hand lest
she should lose the object, which _might_ prove what she was searching
for. It was too large to bring up through the weight of sand.

"Come here, Zaidee, quick," she cried. "Dig me out. Dig out my arm,
quick."

Helen looked fearfully into the hole, then set up a shriek in her turn.

"Mr. Satam's got Cricket's hand, and he's holding her down. Pull, pull,
Zaidee," and the child began tugging at Cricket's nearest shoulder,
which she could reach without committing herself to the dreadful
possibilities of that hole. Zaidee instantly jumped in, however, and,
screaming, herself, added her small strength to pull up Cricket's arm,
while Billy, startled by this sudden hubbub, ran distractedly from side
to side, trying to find something to pull, likewise adding his peculiar
"Hi! Hi!" his expression of great excitement. Cricket laughed so at the
general uproar that she could not explain.

"Oh, children," she managed to cry at last. "Stop pulling the sockets
out of my arms--I mean the arms out of my sockets. Goodness, Zaidee, how
you pinch! There isn't anybody down there, but I've got hold of
something and I don't want to lose it. Just dig down around my arm,
that's all. Stop crying, Helen. That's a good girl, Zaidee." And so in a
few minutes, by their united exertions, a hole was scraped around
Cricket's arm, and she could bring up the object she was grasping.

"What is it?" cried the excited little twins. Cricket plunged both hands
under the object, and, if you'll believe me, she actually brought up a
little buckskin money-bag.

"Hoo-ray!" she shrieked, wild with delight at her discovery. "It's
mamma's bag, children, that she planted ever so long ago, when she was a
little girl. There's money in it."

The bag, indeed, had been perfectly preserved all these years in the
sand. The sand-banks there were too high to be ever overflowed by the
tides, and were very dry, even to the depth of many feet. But the string
fell to pieces in Cricket's eager hands as she tried to unfasten it, and
the pennies and dimes came to view.

A few minutes later, the young woman, breathless and excited, flew up
the walk, with the twins toiling on behind. Auntie Jean and grandma were
sitting on the porch, when suddenly a shower of dull-looking coins fell
into auntie's blue lawn lap.

"I've found it!" Cricket cried, triumphantly. "Knew I would. Won't I
laugh at those girls now!"

"But what in the world--" began Auntie Jean, in amazement, hastily
transferring the heap to a newspaper. Cricket waved the chamois bag in
wild delight.

"It's one of the bags, auntie, that you and mamma buried so long ago in
the sand-banks, because you thought it was the right kind of a bank to
put money in."

"We digged the hole," put in Zaidee, eager for her share of the glory.
"We digged for Mr. Satam's house, an' most found him, an' Cricket came
an' said he'd gone to China, an' then Cricket digged this up, and we're
going to dig every day, now, and get lots of money," for the whole
performance was very mysterious in Zaidee's mind.

You can imagine the clatter when the rest of the children arrived on the
scene, and Cricket, flushed with victory, waved her bag, which had been
found to have mamma's initials on it. Therefore, auntie's was still
unfound, and, strange to say, it never _has_ been found, although, after
Cricket's remarkable achievement, the sand-banks in that locality were
excavated to a point just short of China.



CHAPTER IV.

KEEPING STORE.


It was voted by all that the money in the bag belonged undeniably to
Cricket, by right of discovery, but she would not touch it till she had
written to mamma the astounding news. She was very anxious to cable the
important announcement, and Auntie Jean had some difficulty in
persuading her that a letter would convey it just as well. The money
only amounted to two dollars and sixty-four cents in all, but this was
larger in Cricket's eyes than any money she had ever owned before. She
spent it in imagination a hundred times, and the others helped her, till
even little Kenneth caught the fever, and begged "Tritet, buy Tennet
bikachine," his own invention for bicycle.

"Goody!" exclaimed Cricket, "that's just what I'll do for myself.
Eunice, I'm going to put the money in the really-truly bank this time,
and keep putting more in, and I'll save my allowance and get a bicycle
to ride when I'm too big to ride Mopsie. Wonder how long it would
take."

"Years," said Eunice, with a cold-water expression. "Why, Cricket,
bicycles cost lots of money. You never could do it."

"I can ride on the boys' bicycles when they get them, to learn how, and
keep saving till I'm grown up. Couldn't I get enough by that time? Wish
I could earn money."

"Keep a peanut stand," suggested Archie.

"I wonder if I couldn't," said Cricket, instantly attracted by the idea.
"What fun! Where could I have one? I'd just love to. I'd have that big
white umbrella that used to stand up in the old phaeton, over my head,
and I'd have a chair and a table. Do you suppose auntie would let me go
down on the dock and sell peanuts?"

"I should think not!" cried Edna, horrified.

"I'm going to ask her," returned Cricket, undaunted. "I'll make great
piles of money. Everybody will stop and buy of me when they're going out
sailing. Peanuts are always good when you're sailing."

"Discount to the family?" asked Will.

"Discount to me, anyway," put in Archie, insinuatingly, "for my
suggestion. Really, you know you ought to supply me free."

"Free!" replied Cricket, with much scorn. "I might as well try to fill
up Marbury Bay as you, Mr. Archie. I know who ate twenty-seven
griddle-cakes for breakfast."

"Don't confess it right out loud, Miss Scricket, if you did get away
with that number. I'm not astonished, but I'm overcome."

"Dear me," answered Cricket, tossing her curls, "you think you're
abdominally smart, I know, but--"

A howl of laughter stopped her, and Cricket looked dismayed. They always
made so much fun of her when she made one of her constant mistakes in
the use of words.

"She means abnormally," shouted Archie, rolling on the ground.
"Abdominally smart, oh, my!"

"Well, abnormally, if you like it better," returned Cricket, amiably. "I
don't see much difference, anyway. I am going to ask auntie, right away,
about the peanut stand," she continued, changing the subject quickly, as
long experience had taught her to do. Off she ran, returning, jubilant,
in a few moments.

"Auntie says to be sure I may; there, now, Edna; she says I may sell
all the peanuts I like, and on the dock, if I want to, and she'll give
me a pint cup to measure them out with. And since you all make so much
fun of it, I'll keep it all alone, without any partner."

"You might go shares with me," pleaded Archie; but Cricket was resolute.

"If you'd been more polite to me, perhaps I might have. Now I sha'n't. I
don't know that I'll even sell you any."

"But I'll be partner, sha'n't I, Cricket?" asked Eunice, accustomed to
sharing everything with her younger sister.

"You all laughed at me, first about finding the bag, then about the
peanuts," she said, firmly, "and I'm going to be my own partner. If I
take any one it shall be Billy. _He_ never teases."

"But if you put in the capital," urged Archie, "you should have somebody
else to supply the experience."

"All the experience that any of you would supply would be experience in
eating them," Cricket replied, with severity. "Then I'd lose my money
and my peanuts, too. Good-by. I'm going to make my arrangements now."

"If you buy your peanuts of old Simon, at the corner, make him give
them to you wholesale," called Archie after her; and then he departed on
a little private expedition.

Cricket was busy all the rest of the afternoon, getting her
establishment together. First, a little, square table was unearthed in
the garret, and was scrubbed and polished by Cricket's own hands. Then
the old white phaeton umbrella was found and brushed, and a long slit in
one side of the cover mended with stitches of heroic size. This was,
with much painstaking, lashed firmly to the back of the stout, wooden
chair, contributed by the kitchen. All these, old Billy, proud and happy
at being selected as chief aid, took down to the little dock, where she
was to set up business. She decided to invest a capital of fifty cents,
not part of her new-found funds, but her private and personal
possession, and expected to come out of her venture a millionaire. She
made up her mind that she would not take even Billy into partnership,
for it would be so much fun for him to buy peanuts of her; but she
graciously allowed him to go to the village store with her the next
morning, after breakfast, to help her carry home her stock in trade. She
would have driven Mopsie, but the cart was not yet home from the
blacksmith's.

Acting on the boys' suggestion, she proposed to old Simon Hodges, who
kept the village store, that he should give her the peanuts wholesale,
and they struck a bargain that she should buy them at nine cents a quart
instead of ten, which Cricket regarded as a most generous reduction.

She invested in four quarts to begin with.

"Say, little 'un," suddenly proposed old Billy, nudging her, "why don't
you buy some o' those pep'mint drops long o' the peanits. I'd just as
lives buy 'em o' you as o' Simon. Fact is, I'd liver."

"What a good idea, Billy. 'Course I will."

Billy grinned from ear to ear.

"How will you sell them, Mr. Simon?"

Simon, a weather-beaten old sailor, who had taken to keeping store in
his old age, thought he could sell her as many as she could take aboard
at the rate of six for five cents, instead of the regular rate of a
penny apiece. These peppermint drops must have been peculiar to Marbury,
I think, for I have never seen any just like them anywhere else. They
were thick and round, and about two inches across, indented in the
middle, like a rosette. They were not soft and creamy, but hard and
crunchy, though how much of this latter property rose from the lack of
absolute freshness, I am not prepared to say, for it was a standing joke
with the boys that Simon had once been heard to remark that he hadn't
gotten in his summer stock of candy yet. Some of the peppermints were
pink, and some were striped red and white. Cricket supplied herself with
six of each.

"That makes forty-six cents, doesn't it? I ought to spend the whole of
my money," she said, twirling her half-dollar on the counter.

"Tobaccer?" queried Billy, quickly, thinking of his other indulgence.
"I'd just as lives--"

"Oh, _no_, Billy, I wouldn't have tobacco for anything, nasty stuff,"
said Cricket.

Billy looked dejected.

"Didn't mean no harm," he said, meekly.

"Never mind, Billy. Now what shall I get?"

"Lemons," suggested Simon, deferentially. "I'll let you have 'em for a
cent apiece, and water's cheap. Lemonade would sell well these hot
days," for Simon had been taken into Cricket's confidence.

"That's a good idea," beamed the small merchant. "There's the sugar,
and I guess grandma would give me that, and I'd let her have a glass of
lemonade free. Yes, I'll take four lemons, Mr. Simon, thank you. Now,
Billy, you take the peanuts and put the lemons in your coat pocket, and
I'll carry the peppermints."

Thus laden the two went gaily homeward.

"For goodness sake! look there, Billy!" Cricket suddenly exclaimed, as
they approached the little dock, where they had arranged the table,
chair, and canopy, the night before. Archie had evidently been busy
during their absence. He liked to tease Cricket, because, as he said,
she was so "gamey." Edna would grow peevish and fretful if he teased
her, and his mother would never allow it. But Cricket never cared, and
enjoyed a joke on herself as well as on any one else.

She went into shrieks of laughter, at the new decorations adorning her
place of business. From every rib of the umbrella hung a little, live,
wriggling crab. Four horseshoe shells, stuck up on the sharp points,
decorated the four corners of the table, and a drapery of seaweed
festooned its legs, and the back of her chair. A flapping sign was
suspended on one side, on which, in big letters, they read:

            PEANUT EMPORIUM!!

            SIGN OF THE CRAB

       MISS SCRICKET, BILLY & CO.

    PEANUTS STRICTLY FRESH EVERY YEAR
          CALL EARLY AND OFTEN

Billy glanced from Cricket to the peanut stand, and back again, not
knowing whether to join in her laughter or not. He didn't see anything
funny himself in it, for he had a horror of creeping, crawling things.

"Drat them boys!" he said, at length; "how be we goin' to get them
things off?"

"You go get me a basket and a pair of scissors, Billy," ordered Cricket
of her willing slave, "and I'll take them away. _Don't_ they look
funny?"

In a very little while the crabs were restored to their native element,
the seaweed was thrown over the dock, the chair and table wiped clean
and dry, and everything was again in order. The horseshoe shells were
left sticking up for ornaments. Then she proceeded to lay out her stock,
and dispose of it to the best advantage. Grandma contributed a big
cracked dish for the peanuts, which stood in the middle of the table.
The peppermints were arranged in a row, a red one and a striped one
alternating.

"Now, Billy, you stay here and watch things while I go to the house for
a pitcher for the lemonade, and some tumblers. I mustn't forget the
sugar, either, and a knife. Oh, and the lemon-squeezer. I do hope
everybody will keep out of the way till I get it all fixed."

Fortunately, auntie had sent Edna and Eunice on an errand, and had told
Eliza to keep the children away till the little merchant was ready to
begin her sales, so Cricket was left in peace, as Archie, after he had
finished his adornments, had gone for a sail with Will.

A little later, and the peanut vender had everything in order. A pitcher
of lemonade--not of the strongest, it must be confessed--was added to
the table. At the first signal, the twins, who had been eagerly watching
from a distance, darted forward, with pennies in hand, and trade began.
Then the girls appeared, and each bought a glass of lemonade, and when
Will and Archie landed, as they did, a few minutes later, the demand for
peanuts increased. Cricket measured them out in a teacup, and poured
them into the purchaser's outstretched hands.

"Put in some more for good measure," somebody would say. "Some of mine
spilled."

"Pick them right up, then," said the little store-keeper, thriftily.
"'Twon't hurt the nuts a bit. No, Zaidee, you can't have another thing
till you bring me some more money. A peppermint drop, Eunice? No, you
can't have two for a cent. Don't they look good? B'lieve I'll just taste
one," hastily putting her words into practice. "Yes, Billy, what do you
want? a red one or a striped one?"

"Say, little un," asked Billy, uncertainly, "which would you take, if
you was me? I want two cents' wuth. Would you get two reds, or two
striped?"

"Two reds," advised Edna, as Eunice said, "Two striped."

"I can't buy so many, can I?" he asked, holding out his hand, with six
cents in it. "I want some peanits, too, and some lemonade. Will this buy
'em all?"

"Get one striped and one white," said Eunice, "and two cents' worth of
peanuts and a glass of lemonade."

"Lemonade is three cents a glass," said Cricket, "but, Billy, you can
have it for two, because you've helped me so much."

"By the way, Will," broke in Archie, suddenly, "how much are crabs
selling for, in the market, to-day?"

"Ten cents," answered Will, promptly.

"Now, then, Cricket, you owe me a lot on those crabs that I furnished
you this morning. It took me all yesterday afternoon to catch them, too.
You have sold them all off, I see, already. How much did they bring?
Give me all the lemonade I want, and we'll call it square."

"I don't care whether you call it square or round," answered Cricket,
briefly, snipping Zaidee's fingers, which were creeping too near the
peppermints. "Zaidee, keep your hands away. You've broken a whole piece
out of that."

"How could she break a whole piece?" teased Archie. "If it's a piece, 't
isn't whole, Miss Scricket."

"If catching crabs makes you so brilliant, you'd better catch some
more," said Cricket serenely. "Now, do all of you go away. I see some
other people coming down to the dock, and I know they'll buy something,
if you go away, so they can see me," she added, rearranging her wares.
"Billy, drive them off." Thus ordered, Billy made a lunge at the twins
first, and they, secretly half-terrified out of their wits if he spoke
to them in his gruff tones, scampered off to Eliza. Eunice and Edna
strolled off, eating peanuts, and the boys betook themselves to new
sports.

All day the little maid and her faithful ally sat on the little wharf,
vending her wares. The dock had half a dozen sailboats moored there, and
their various owners, in passing to and fro, stopped, laughed, and
bought. Soon Billy had to take some of the accumulated money and go up
to Simon's to replenish the stock, and frequent expeditions there
through the day were made. The two refreshed themselves in the intervals
of business with sundry glasses of lemonade, and occasional "peanits,"
while every now and then a piece of a red or of a striped peppermint
found its way down Cricket's throat. Billy scrupulously paid for all he
ate. By supper-time nearly everything had disappeared.

"Now, I think, Billy, we might just as well drink up this little bit of
lemonade, and eat up those peanuts," said the tired little merchant.
"All the peppermints are gone, and it's most supper-time."

Billy was nothing loth, and together they soon cleared the board.

"Well, my little peanut woman, how went the day with you?" asked Auntie
Jean, at supper. She had, of course, patronized the peanut stand herself
during the day, with grandma. "All your wares sold?"

"Yes, auntie, everything," answered Cricket, as the always hungry tribe
gathered around the supper-table. "Billy and I ate up what little there
was left so it shouldn't be wasted."

"Then you don't mean to go on with your speculations in peanuts?" asked
grandma.

"No-o, I think not, grandma, thank you," answered Cricket. "It was very
nice to-day, but I think I couldn't stand keeping still all day for
_every_ day. But we made a lot of money," she added, with much
satisfaction.

"Well, dear, that is always gratifying," replied auntie. "How much did
you make? if we may be admitted to the financial secrets of the firm."

"We made twenty-one cents," cried Cricket, proudly, "and I think that's
pretty good."

"Indeed, it is. You're quite a financier. And you invested fifty cents?
Then you have seventy-one cents now."

"No, we haven't," returned Cricket, looking puzzled. "I have twenty-one
cents, now. Oh, I spent a lot more than fifty cents. Billy went up to
the store five or six times and got more peanuts and things, as fast as
the money came in. Now, I have twenty-one cents to put in my box. Isn't
that making twenty-one cents?" she asked, looking up, anxiously.

There was a burst of laughter from the older ones.

"My dear little girl," said Auntie Jean, "I'm afraid your affairs are
not on a sound financial basis. You must have been too generous. People
don't call it making money unless they get back all they spend, and more
besides. As it is, you had fifty cents this morning and, to-night, you
have twenty-one. That looks like losing."

Cricket stared.

"I don't believe I'm a good speculationer," she sighed, at last, looking
crestfallen. "Well, I don't care much. I didn't want to keep store any
more anyway. It's too poky. Can we be excused, grandma? I _must_ have a
ride on Mopsie, or I'll burst!"



CHAPTER V.

A BATH IN CURDS AND WHEY.


All the younger fry were playing in the barn. It was much smaller than
the great barns at Kayuna, for there was no farm attached to Mrs.
Maxwell's place, but the new-mown hay was just as sweet and soft to jump
on as the haymows were at dear old Kayuna. There was a little added
excitement in the fact that Luke was not nearly so good-natured as
'Gustus John was, and was very apt to chase them off his premises when
he found them there. He said the horses would not eat the hay after the
children had jumped on it. However, as grandma always said that they
could play in the barn as long as they didn't do any damage to anything,
Luke's disapproval did not trouble them much. To be sure, they would
scamper off if they heard him coming, and breathlessly fly around
corners, and eagerly report if the "coast was clear," but, after all,
all this was more for fun than anything else. This morning they had a
clear three hours before them, for Luke had gone to drive grandma and
auntie over to Plymouth, and they would not be back till almost
dinner-time. Of course the time must be improved by a grand romp in the
barn.

Eliza sat in the doorway crocheting. The older girls climbed the ladder
to a high beam, and then would shoot off on to the soft hay far below.
Zaidee ambitiously tried to follow. But half-way up the ladder her
courage invariably failed her, and she would sit still and shriek till
one of her sisters came and carried her down.

"Zaidee, don't climb up this ladder again," said Eunice, sharply, after
she had rescued her small sister for the tenth time. "If you do, I'll
leave you there. It's too high for you, and you're always afraid."

"I isn't a bit afraid," returned Zaidee, stoutly. "It's only when I get
up there, the ladder gets so dizzy."

"You get dizzy, you mean. At any rate, don't climb up there again."

"You mustn't speak cross to me," said Zaidee, who was a born rebel, and
resented any orders of her older sisters. "If you speak cross to me I'll
run away."

"Oh, don't, Zaidee!" begged Helen, in alarm.

"Yes, I will. I'll run away, and then she'll be sorry. Let's jump on
this little hay, Helen."

But after a time the high ladder looked so very tempting, and it was
such wild excitement to see the girls flying off that great, high beam,
with shrieks of fun and laughter, that Zaidee tried the experiment
again, of climbing up herself. She went up eight rounds bravely, and
then it suddenly looked so very far to the bottom that she screamed for
help, as usual.

"You're a naughty little girl, to climb up there again, after I had told
you not to," said Eunice, severely. "Now you must stay there and scream
till you promise me not to try it again." She knew there was really no
danger, and Zaidee was always trying to do what she could not.

"Take me down, 'Liza! take me down, Eunice!" she shrieked, till Edna
said:

"Oh, do take her down, Eunice, and have her stop."

So Eunice helped her off her high perch once more, with the warning that
if she did it again she would certainly leave her there and go away
where she couldn't hear her call. Then the older girls resumed their
fun. Zaidee and Helen ran out into the yard.

Presently, Helen came flying back in a great panic.

"Do come here, 'Liza! do come quick, Eunice! Zaidee's eating worms!
She's eaten two woolly ones, and one plain one. I'm afraid they'll make
her sick. Do come, 'Liza, and make her stop."

"Isn't she the funniest child!" exclaimed Eunice, as Eliza hurried off
to rescue the worms.

"If somebody won't give her what she wants, or if anything makes her
cross, she always does something disagreeable to herself. Sometimes she
says she won't eat any luncheon or dinner, or won't go to walk. Think of
eating those worms, just because I scolded her about climbing up on the
ladder. Ugh!"

"I should think she _was_ funny. Girls, let's go up to Simon's, and buy
some peppermints," suggested Edna. "It's such a hot day, and peppermints
make your throat so cool when you breathe, don't you know? I've five
cents in my pocket."

Zaidee, having reluctantly consented to forego her diet of worms,
watched the three girls go out into the road, and ran after them.

"Let me go, too," she called, toiling after.

"No, you can't go, my dear. It's too far. You stay with 'Liza," said
Eunice, but speaking very pleasantly, to avoid another scene.

"It isn't a bit too far, Eunice. We go there lots of times with 'Liza.
If you're going for peppermints, I want some, too."

"Run and ask Billy to give you some of his, then. Zaidee, you _can't_
go. Now, run back."

"Then I'll run away," said Zaidee, repeating her former threat. She had
lately heard some one speaking of running away, and it seemed a very
nice punishment to inflict on Eunice.

"Very well," said Eunice, turning away. "Only don't eat any more worms;"
for the way to manage Zaidee was not to take much notice of her. She was
a headstrong little thing, and grew very obstinate if she was opposed.

"Run back to 'Liza, children," repeated Eunice, looking back. "Come on,
girls."

"It's awfully hot walking up this road," observed Edna, as they went up
the slight incline to the village. The treeless road was made of white
sea-shells, powdered fine, and reflected the glare of the sun
powerfully.

"Don't your feet burn, walking along here? Mine do, awfully," said
Cricket. "I wish I had wooden legs like Maggie Sampson's father's. His
feet can't burn."

"He can't feel the heat through the soles of his feet, 'cause he ain't
built that way," chanted Eunice, instantly, for she shared the family
failing for rhyme.

"We might have stilts, I suppose," said Cricket. "I love stilts. Here we
are. Let's rest and get cool before we go back."

It was half an hour before the girls strolled leisurely into the yard
again, munching their peppermints.

"Where are the children?" asked Eliza, hastily, seeing the girls come
back alone.

"Not with us. We sent them back to you," said Eunice, quickly. "What
have those tiresome children done now? They ought to be put in barrels
and kept there. It's the only way to be sure of them. When did you miss
them?"

"Ever since you've been gone. Zaidee ran past, saying she was going with
you, so I let her."

"They must be somewhere around the house or barn," answered Eunice,
beginning to call "Helen! Helen!" She knew that Helen would answer if
she were within earshot, but Zaidee was quite equal to letting them
call, if she were in a fit of temper. But they searched in vain. Kenneth
insisted they went "that way," pointing down the beach, but Billy
thought he had seen them going up the beach. They searched the house and
barn, and then, as it was near dinner-time, Will and Archie appeared and
joined the detective force.

"This is getting serious," said Will, presently. "I think the little
skivers have really run off."

"Could they have fallen off the dock?" asked Cricket, anxiously. But,
fortunately, it was low tide, and there was no water to fall into. They
inquired of all passers-by, and of the immediate neighbours, with no
better result. The children had not been seen. Faces began to grow
grave, and feet began to fly faster in every direction. Archie saddled
the ponies, and Cricket started off in one direction, Eunice in another,
while he and Will went back into the woodland roads.

Meanwhile, the twins, after being sent back by Eunice, had marched
disconsolately down on the beach, without Eliza's seeing them.

"I'm going to run away now," said Zaidee, firmly. She must have gotten
out of the wrong side of the bed that morning, for everything seemed to
go wrong. She was usually a sunny little soul.

"Where shall we run to?" asked Helen, hanging back.

"Let's go this way," said Zaidee, selecting "this way," for no
particular reason. It led them back of the house, on to one of the
woodland roads, out of sight of anybody.

They trudged on for half a mile or more, and then suddenly came upon a
small cheese factory, which stood upon one side of a little brook. There
was a dam here, and a small pond, and on the other side of the brook a
little saw-mill stood.

Zaidee, of course, immediately wanted to go into this queer looking
house, as she called it. Finding the door open, and no one there, she
entered, boldly. As it was just noon, the few men employed were at
dinner, and the place was deserted.

"What a queer house!" exclaimed Zaidee. It was a long bare place, with
a platform on one side, and on that were three or four vats or tanks,
only, of course, the children did not know what they were. These vats
were for the milk. There was also the most remarkable number of new
brooms decorating the walls.

The children ran here and there with the greatest interest and
curiosity; and very soon discovered that there were spigots in the
tanks. Of course Zaidee instantly proceeded to turn one, and out came a
spurting deluge of whey, all over their feet. They jumped back, hastily.

"Oh, what pretty white water!" cried Zaidee, eagerly, stooping down and
spatting her hands in the trough, and then throwing it up in the air. It
came down all over herself and Helen.

"I don't like it. It smells so _loud_," said dainty Helen, drawing back.

Zaidee sniffed, critically.

"Yes, it does, Helen. But isn't it pretty? Let's look over the wall and
see what it looks like."

They were not, however, quite tall enough to do this, but Zaidee's quick
eyes, roving around, spied a wooden stool which she immediately dragged
up on the little platform, to stand on. She climbed up and looked in.
It was not the vat in which she had turned the spigot, and it was half
full of whey with great pieces of the curd floating around on it.

"Here's more nice white water, with pretty white stones floating on it,"
Zaidee cried, eagerly. She stretched down her hand to grasp some. She
could just reach it, but to her surprise the "white stone" separated as
she grasped it.

"I can't pick it up," she cried, puzzled, as she tried again and again.

"Let me see," begged Helen. But the stool was not big enough for both to
stand on, and Zaidee was too interested to get down. A bigger piece of
curd came floating towards her, and she leaned quickly forward to reach
it. She lost her balance, and went headlong into the milky pool.

In a moment, sputtering and screaming, she found her feet, for the
liquid was only up to her waist, but the top of the tank being even with
her head, of course she could not get out. Helen stood open-mouthed with
astonishment at Zaidee's sudden disappearance; then she quickly climbed
upon the stool to see for herself. Zaidee stood immersed to her waist,
with her short, silky black hair plastered to her head with the whey,
and small lumps of curd sticking all over her head and shoulders, so
that she looked as if she had been out in a sharp-cornered snow storm.
She tried to rub her streaming eyes dry with her wet fists.

"I don't like this white water," she said, wiping her wet face on her
wetter sleeve. "It's nasty stuff. It's worse than the ocean. It's sour
water, Helen. Just taste it."

"I can't," said Helen. "How can you get out? Can you step on those white
stones?"

"They won't hold me up. They're such funny stones. They all go to pieces
when you squeeze them," said Zaidee, grasping some with both hands, to
illustrate. "Could you put the stool over for me to stand on?"

"I can't, 'cause I'm standing on it. P'raps I can pull you out, Zaidee.
See if I can."

Zaidee waded over to the side of the tank, and tried to climb up the
smooth, tin-lined surface, while Helen tugged from above.

When this did not work, the children stared at each other wistfully.

"Do you s'pose you'll have to stay there always?" said Helen, at last,
in a half whisper.

"No. I'll holler," said Zaidee, with confidence, "and somebody will
come. If only I could get _boosted_ a little bit! Helen!" with a sudden
inspiration, "you jump over here and I'll stand on your knee as I do on
'Liza's when she boosts me up into the apple-tree. Then I could climb
right over."

Helen hesitated. This plan did not strike her favourably.

"Oh, Zaidee! I don't want to get down there into that white water. It
smells so loud, and I'd get my feet all wet, and my dress wet, too."
Helen was one of the children whom dirt distresses, and no soil ever
seemed to cling to her clothes or hands. Zaidee was not in the least
particular, or, perhaps, she would not have lunched on woolly worms.

"But I've got to get out, Helen," she persisted. "I'm all sticky inside.
I don't like it. Please jump in and boost me out;" for the problem of
getting Helen out never occurred to either of these young philosophers.

Helen looked very unwilling, but she was too used to doing as Zaidee
ordered to object further; she slowly put one leg over the edge of the
tank till her foot touched the whey. Then she shivered, and hesitated.
Zaidee took hold of her leg for fear she would draw it back, but,
pulling it a little harder than she intended, Helen immediately fell
over on to Zaidee, who, unable to keep her footing on the smooth tin
bottom, took a second plunge, dragging Helen with her.

Then two curded and wheyey heads arose.

"Oh, Helen, you look so funny!" said Zaidee, as Helen spluttered in her
turn. "Doesn't it feel awful nasty? And see how funny these little
stones look now!"

The curd being pretty thoroughly churned up now, with the gyrations of
the two children, it was settling in a smooth, even layer over the top
of the whey. Zaidee slapped and splashed it about in high glee,
perfectly satisfied to stay in the tank any length of time, now that she
had Helen beside her there.

Just then steps sounded on the planks outside, and the voices of men
were heard.

"Great guns! Who left this 'ere spigot a-runnin'!" exclaimed one, coming
hastily forward. "Look at the whey goin' galumphin out. Suthin' must hev
gorn bust."

A breathless silence settled on Zaidee and Helen.

"There warn't nothin' a-runnin' when I went off to dinner," said
another, "and I was the last feller out."

The next moment the astonished men were gazing at the pair of
guilty-looking little mermaids, who wore curds for seaweeds. Helen's
floating golden hair, all stringy with whey, was a funnier sight even
than Zaidee's short plastered locks. The two frightened, dirty,
streaming little faces, were raised appealingly.

"Wal, I vum! We've caught suthin' in _this_ cheese, for sure," said one
man, coming nearer.

"We falled in," said Zaidee, regaining her courage, which never long
deserted her. "We don't like this white water, and it's all smelly.
Please take us out."

"I swan," said the other man. "Where did you come from, young uns?"

"We live at the beach, at grandma's. Take us out, please. Take Helen
first."

"What are you doin' around here, then, a-tumblin' into our vats, and
a-spilin' good curds and whey? You don't suppose we want to flavour it
with little gals, do you?"

Zaidee wasn't sure of anything but that she wanted to get out of her
new bath-tub, so she only repeated:

"Please take us out, Mr. Man, and we won't fall in again, ever, 'cause
we don't like this white water, truly we don't. There are such funny
little snow stones in it. We like really truly water best. Please take
us out."

"Was it you turned my spigot?" demanded her jailer, very sternly.

Zaidee quaked. She had forgotten about turning the spigot.

"We won't ever turn it again," she promised, hastily.

"Oh, come, Steve, take the kid out," said the other man.

"Ef it was one of our children they'd get a trouncin', but they belong
to some of them city folks down by the beach. Them city children dunno
nothin'--can't expect 'em to. Come, young uns," and, in a moment, Zaidee
and Helen stood on the planks.

"Sech capers!" grumbled the other man, setting down the dripping little
figures he had lifted out. "Hull batch spiled. Now, scoot." And the
children hastily scooted, leaving a milky track behind.

They had no idea of the way home, but, as Zaidee was not ready to
return yet, that did not trouble her. Once outside of the cheese factory
they got leaves and wiped off each other's dripping faces and hair, as
best they could.

"My shoes are all soppy," said Helen, tiptoeing along, uncomfortably.

"Let's take 'em off," said Zaidee, instantly, sitting down and tugging
at the wet buttonholes, which would not yield to her small fingers.
Helen's were loose, and unbuttoned easily. When she got her shoes off,
however, she found she could not walk, for the sticks and prickles on
the ground hurt her tender feet.

"I'll have to put my shoes on again," she said. "The palms of my feet
hurt so. Don't take yours off, Zaidee."

So Zaidee got up out of the little pool of whey that had dripped from
her dress while she had been sitting, and after Helen had, with some
difficulty, crowded her feet into her wet shoes again, the children
started off in search of a new adventure. The hot sun on their clothes
was fast making them very unpleasant objects to a sensitive nose, but
they were getting used to the odour of sour milk.

There was a little foot-bridge above the dam, for on the other side of
the stream stood a little sawmill. The children ran across the bridge,
gaily. Back of the sawmill were high heaps of delightful yellow sawdust.

"See those beautiful yellow hills!" cried Zaidee, rapturously, running
forward and throwing herself full length into one, bringing a cloud of
yellow powder about her. "It's awfully nice, Helen; come on."

Helen, nothing loth, came on, and in a moment the children were
wallowing in the soft, light dust. In the somewhat damp state of their
clothes, the immediate result can be imagined.

"You look just like a woolly worm, Helen," said Zaidee, gleefully.
"You're all fuzzy with sawdust. Lie down and I'll bury you all up."

Helen obediently sat down, and Zaidee heaped a yellow mound over her.

"You're like a yellow Santa Claus," cried Zaidee, as Helen emerged,
presently, somewhat smothered. "Now, bury me!"

"I love to feel it all running down my back like ants," Zaidee said,
wriggling, but enjoying the sensation, as Helen let the dry dust drop
through her fingers on her head.

A little later, Will, running through the woods, came past the sawmill,
and stopped to listen, at the sound of children's voices. Following
this, he immediately discovered two strange looking objects, rolling,
with shrieks of laughter, down the sawdust heaps.

"You're a pretty pair of kids," he said, approaching them. "Scaring
people into fits, for two hours! By Jove! where have you been?" he broke
off, holding his nose, as he drew nearer.

"Let's go home, now; I'm hungry," was all the answer Zaidee deigned.

And so it happened that just as auntie and grandma drove up in front of
the gate the first thing they saw was two remarkable little figures
coming slowly around the house, golden hair and black all of a colour,
faces begrimed with dust and streaked with sour milk, draggled dresses,
with plasters of sawdust here and there, and odorous,--but the less said
about that, the better.



CHAPTER VI.

BEAR ISLAND.


Eunice and Edna were devoted little friends. Edna came just between the
two sisters. But, as she had always been somewhat delicate, Cricket's
tireless energy often wearied her, and Eunice's naturally quieter
temperament suited her much better. Edna was more deliberate in
everything than her little cousins were, more literal, less full of fun
and frolic, and sometimes fretful under the mere burden of not feeling
quite well and strong, as they always did. But she was neither selfish
nor exacting, as delicate children often are; she was always gentle and
polite, never reckless and forgetful of consequences, as Cricket so
often was, and so she made an excellent balance for her little cousins.

Cricket sometimes found herself rather in the cold, when Eunice and Edna
were together, however, for Edna loved to get Eunice down in some cool,
shady corner, or under the rocks on the beach, to chatter or do fancy
work together. Cricket thought this was dreadfully stupid, and whenever
the other girls settled themselves for what Edna called a "cozy hour,"
she would slip off by herself, to find the boys, or go off with old
Billy, with whom she had struck up such a comical friendship, for he
followed her round like a big dog, and permitted all sorts of liberties
with his possessions from her, that he was very chary of allowing the
others. Or else she would go alone for a scamper on Mopsie, or even
perch herself up on a branch of some tree in the orchard, and pore over
the pages of her beloved "Little Women," or some other of her
favourites. Reading was the sole sitting-down occupation that Cricket
did not think was intolerably stupid, and a sheer waste of time.
Fortunately, she always had boundless resources of amusement within
herself, and she would not have been lonely on a desert island.

"Come for a row, girls," said Eunice, the next morning. "The water is
like glass."

"Suppose we row over to Bear Island," said Edna. "I'll take my
embroidery, and you can take a book and read to me, Eunice. If we take
the boat off the boys can't get to us and tease us."

"All right," assented Eunice. "We'll take the 'Light-house Girl.' I'm
dying to finish it. Cricket, you bring your knitting, won't you, and
we'll take some cookies and things to eat, and stay all the morning."

"'Not mush,' as baby says," responded Cricket, with decision. "Think I'm
going to waste this glorious day, knitting _washrags_?" with ineffable
scorn. "You two old grandmothers can knit and read all you want to. I've
too much else to do."

"Cricket is afraid she'll get her washrag done, if she works on it,"
laughed Eunice.

"Well, what if I am?" returned Cricket, defensively. "As long as I have
that on hand, nobody can ask me to do anything else. If I'm careful how
I work on it, I can make it last till I'm grown up."

They all laughed at Cricket's scheme. Her knitting was a standing joke.
Mamma had insisted on her learning how to knit, when she was quite
small, telling her that it would be a very useful accomplishment when
she was grown up, and that it was very much easier to learn to knit
quickly, if one learns very young. So Cricket had toiled her way through
a pair of reins for Kenneth, and had also accomplished a red and white
striped washrag for Helen. Her present undertaking was a blue and white
one for Zaidee. It was now a year old.

"If Zaidee was in need of that washrag, she'd be a blackamoor before she
gets it," said Eunice.

"She isn't starving for it," returned Cricket, comfortably. "And I've
dropped so many stitches, anyway, and couldn't find them, that it isn't
much but holes. The knitting only just holds the holes together. 'Liza
will have to darn it a lot, before she can use it for Zaidee."

"You're old enough to like to sew and embroider things," said Edna,
reprovingly.

"No, I'm not," said Cricket, quickly. "When I have to wear plaguy long
dresses, and when I can't play football, nor climb trees, nor perform on
the trapeze, nor do anything nice, then I'll get some glasses and store
teeth, and sit down and consolate myself by knitting and sewing all day.
Ugh! I wish I were a boy! I mean, sometimes I wish I were," with a quick
glance around, to see if those omnipresent cousins of hers were within
earshot, for, before them, nothing would have induced her to admit
anything of the kind.

"You and I will go, then, Edna," said Eunice. "I'll run down and get
the boat ready, while you bring the cushions, and get something to eat
for a lunch. Better come, Cricket."

"I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll row you over, and then I'll row round
a little, for fun, myself, while you two are having a nice stupid time,
all by yourselves. You can call me when you want me to come back.

"Oh, I'll tell you what let's do. Let's play we're shipwrecked. You get
some luncheon, Edna, lots of it, and we'll have a very exciting time."

"You always want to _play_ something," said Edna, who couldn't quite
understand how Cricket could always change the aspect of
everything--even of things she had to do, that she didn't like--by the
magic formula, "Let's play."

"It's so much more fun to play things, than just plain _do_ them,"
Cricket contented herself with saying now.

"I'll run the boat down, Eunice, if you'll go with Edna, and get all the
things, cushions and books and luncheon, and _don't_ forget your
precious work, Edna," and Cricket skipped off to the dock, while the
girls went to the house.

"Shall we be the 'Swiss Family Robinson,' or 'The Young Crusoes,' or
shall we be a new set altogether?" asked Cricket, when they were all
afloat.

"A new set, I say," answered Eunice. "We've played 'Swiss Family' so
much I'm tired of it. Let us be two boys, and Edna our sister."

"No, our grandmother," said Cricket, soberly. "It's more appropriate.
She likes to knit so much."

"I won't be a grandmother," said Edna, decidedly. "If I can't be a
sister, I won't play."

"I was only in fun. I'd just as soon that you'd be a sister," said
Cricket, pacifically. "I was only joking. We've escaped from a burning
vessel, you know, and every one else is either burned or drowned. We've
provisions for a month, if we don't eat too much, and we're in the South
Sea Islands. South Sea Islands sound nice and shipwrecky, don't you
think so?"

"Splendid. No sail is in sight," went on Eunice, striking in, "and a
wild waste of waters stretch on every side," quoting freely, as she
swept her hand around the expanse of the wide, calm bay, dotted with
white sails and rowboats.

"A savage, rock-bound coast appears before us," she added, as Cricket's
muscular little arms sent the light boat along towards the small island
ahead of them. It consisted of little more than a mass of rocks, with a
bit of shelving beach on the west side, and, here and there, a scrubby
pine.

But it was a picturesque spot, and the children were very fond of coming
over there, since no one else ever seemed to think of it, and they had
it to themselves.

"Methinks this coast looks bare, indeed," said Cricket, in her character
of shipwrecked mariner, as she rested on her oars. "Shall we land here,
brother?"

"'Tis the only land in sight," returned Eunice, shielding her eyes, and
looking forward. "What say you, sister?"

Edna giggled. "Suppose there are cannibals there?" she asked. "I don't
want to be eaten up alive."

"We will defend you, with our last breath," promised Eunice, valiantly,
as they shot up on the pebbly bit of beach. "Shall we explore it,
brother?"

"You explore, and I'll row around the island, and see if there are any
signs of cannibals or savages. Perhaps I'll find a settlement of white
people," she said, as she pushed off with her oar, after the girls had
disembarked with the baggage.

"Don't forget to come back, if you do," called Edna, over her shoulder.

"I'll row off," said Cricket, conveniently deaf to this remark, "and
rencounter," aiming at reconnoitre, "and if you are in any trouble, give
the call, and wave a handkerchief on a stick. Perhaps I'll row back to
the burning vessel, and see if I can pick up any one who is floating
around."

The call was a vigorous whoop, that had been long ago adopted. It
consisted in drawing a deep breath, and then crying, "Wah-whoo-wah!
wah-whoo-wah! _Crick_-et! _Crick_-et! wah-whoo-wah!" putting in the name
of the person wanted.

[Illustration: LANDING ON BEAR ISLAND]

Eunice and Edna watched Cricket off, and then sauntered slowly across
the island, to a dear little spot, their favourite nook. It was a smooth
bit of sand, under the shadow of a pine, and well sheltered by rugged
overhanging rocks. They had an uninterrupted view of the bay outward,
with the long tongue of land that partly enclosed it, and the lighthouse
standing on the rocky point. Marbury lay behind them, out of sight.

They settled themselves comfortably, in the cushions, with the rocks at
their backs. Edna took her work, a linen cover for her bureau, which she
was embroidering exquisitely. Her deft little fingers accomplished
really beautiful work, and she loved to do it.

She had done outline work when her tiny fingers were hardly firm enough
to grasp the needle, and her kindergarten sewing, when she was a small
child, had been the delight of her teachers, and the envy of her little
companions. Eunice was fond of her needle, too, though she was not equal
to such deft workmanship as Edna was.

"You do such _lovely_ things," she said, now, taking up the strip of
linen, on which graceful maidenhair fern was growing rapidly. "I don't
see where you get time to do so much."

"I do suppose it makes a difference that, when I'm at home, I haven't
any one to play with, as you have. Probably you and Cricket play games
together, while I am doing my fancy work. What do you do in the winter
evenings at home?"

"Different things," answered Eunice, lifting up the soft, pale-green
silks, admiringly. "Sometimes I study. Not often, though, for papa
doesn't like us to study in the evening much. You see, our school is out
at one, and lunch is at half-past. Then, till half-past four, we can do
anything we like out-of-doors. We skate, if there is any skating in the
park, we coast down hill on Sawyer Street, or walk, or papa takes us to
drive.

"In spring and fall days, we often walk out to Manton Lake for wild
flowers or chestnuts. But we must always be in the house at half-past
four in winter, and at five when the days get longer. Then we always
study in the upper hall till quarter after six, and then we get ready
for dinner."

"How nice it is always to have somebody to do things with. I am sure I
could study better if I had somebody to talk things over with. Then if
you do your studying in the afternoon, what do you do in the evening?"

"After dinner we are all in the back parlour for awhile, papa, and
Donald, and Marjorie, and everybody, and we have fun then, I tell you,
if there isn't any company. We play games, or papa plays with us. Then
if I haven't gotten through my lessons in the afternoon, papa lets me
study for half an hour. But we _never_ can study after half-past eight,
no matter what."

"But suppose you didn't study hard in the afternoon, and _can't_ get
through by half-past eight?" asked Edna.

"Oh, but we _must_ study hard," said well-trained Eunice, surprised.
"Papa hates dawdling."

"Does your mother help you with your lessons?"

"Not much. Sometimes she explains something we don't understand, but
papa says we should not need help. Well, then, generally we read for a
little while, or mamma reads to us, and if she does, I embroider
something. Sometimes we sew on Saturday mornings. What do you do?"

"Nothing, much," sighed Edna, dolefully. "It's so stupid to be an only
daughter. The boys are older, you see, and they have each other, and
they do study very hard in the winter. You see, I've no one to go out
with, after luncheon, unless I go with some of the girls. Of course
mamma often takes me with her, but lots of times she can't. And if she's
out when I come in, the house is so stupid. And evenings I just sit and
do fancy work, all by myself, if mamma is invited out to dinner, or
anything, and she is invited out such a lot. I wish you were my sister,
Eunice."

"Poor Edna! I wish you were _my_ sister, and could live with me all the
time. I don't think I _could_ leave Cricket and the rest to come and
live with you. Wouldn't it be nice if one of your brothers was only a
sister? I don't think boys mind nearly as much about being the only one.
And sisters are such a comfort. Let's read now. I peeked ahead, and
Jessica is an only child, too."

In the interest of their story the time slipped by. They munched some
cookies, but decided to wait till Cricket's return before eating a
regular luncheon. They always provided themselves with luncheons on the
slightest pretext.

"Isn't it time for Cricket to turn up?" said Eunice, at last, suddenly
interrupting herself. "She's been gone perfect ages. I really believe
her cannibals have eaten her up."

"If they have," replied Edna, decidedly, "they would soon repent it.
Nobody could digest her, for she would fly around so. I believe even the
_pieces_ of her would jump up and down in their stomachs."

"I thought she would just row around the island, and then come back and
hail us, at all events," said Eunice, laying down her book and standing
up to give the call. The "wah-whoo-wah!" rang across the water, but
brought no answering cry. They gave it again and again, with no better
success.

"What geese we were to let that child go away with the boat!" exclaimed
Edna, vexedly. "We should have known better. Likely as not she's rowed
over to Plymouth and forgotten us entirely. Let's go up and see if we
can see her from the top of the rocks."

Accordingly they climbed to the highest point. It was high noon now, by
the sun, and very hot. Not a sail was in sight, nor even a rowboat
anywhere.

Everybody had evidently been driven in by the heat, which was intense.
The tide was going out, and soon a mud-flat would lie between them and
the home shore.

"Gracious, isn't it sizzling hot!" cried Eunice, shading her eyes. "The
heat just quavers up from these rocks. I believe a coffee-pot would boil
if you put it on top of my head. Where _is_ Cricket?"

"The tide is going out very fast," said Edna, anxiously. "Look at the
high-water mark. If we're not off here in less than half an hour we have
to wait till the tide is up again. That's a nice prospect, too, to stay
here and broil all the afternoon."

"Horrors!" cried Eunice. "I like to stay here when I want to, but I
don't want to be made to. When could we get off, then?" for Eunice knew
much less accurately the times and tides than Edna, who always spent her
summers at Marbury.

"It was high tide at eight this morning, so it won't be entirely out
till two. But you know there is about an hour and a half before ebb
tide that the flats are bare, and, of course, it's the same time after
that before enough water comes in to float a boat. I don't believe it's
more than twelve now. Think of staying here till, say, four o'clock.
Let's call again. She might be over on the other side of Clark's
Island."

"Wah-whoo-wah! Wah-whoo-wah! Come _back_, Cricket! Wah-whoo-wah!" Eunice
sent her clear, strong voice ringing across the smooth waters, but with
no better success than before.

"You don't suppose she's purposely hiding somewhere, do you?" asked
Edna, doubtfully.

"No, indeed," returned Eunice, promptly. "She's only forgotten, if
anything, unless something has happened to her," she added, somewhat
anxiously.

"Nothing could happen in Marbury Bay," replied Edna, positively. "It's
the safest old hole. And since we are not really in the South Sea
Islands, there aren't any cannibals to eat her up."

The island was only about a mile and a half from shore, and they could
plainly see grandma's house on the Neck. Not a soul was in sight, not
even Eliza and the children.

"Let's wave a handkerchief," suggested Eunice, looking for hers, "for
the boys may see it and come out for us."

"It's not much use," said Edna, "for I don't believe any one would
notice a little white handkerchief fluttering over here, and, besides,
I'm getting dreadfully afraid that there isn't time for any one to pull
out here and get us in before the tide would be so far out that we would
stick in the mud. You see the bottom is so flat that the water goes out
very quickly. But let's try a handkerchief."

"I haven't any with me," said Eunice. "Take yours."

"Bother! I haven't either. Oh, there's a boat coming past. If that man
would take us in, we might just get to the shore. Wave _something_.
Call! Call!"

The girls shouted vigorously, but the little rowboat aggravatingly kept
on its way, the oarsman having his back towards them. Then he turned his
course a little, keeping in the channel where the water was deeper.

"What _can_ we wave?"

"Take your work, Edna. Tie it to a stick."

"Tie my work to a _stick_? Why, it would ruin it."

"No, it wouldn't. What if it did? We don't want to stay here all day;"
and Eunice caught the linen scarf from Edna's half-unwilling hand, and,
tying it to a stick, waved it furiously.

"Oh, dear, I wonder if it will ruin it? Wave harder, Eunice.
Wah-whoo-wah! Why don't you turn, whoever you are! I wonder if I can
iron it out," went on poor Edna, distracted between the fear of injury
to her beloved work and her desire to get off the island. But the little
boat pulled swiftly down the channel, its owner evidently not desirous
of being caught himself on the mud-flats, and was soon a speck on the
water.

"Where _can_ Cricket be?" wondered Eunice, for the hundredth time.
"Edna, I am afraid she's drowned or something," for she began to be much
more worried over Cricket's non-appearance than at the prospect of
spending a few more hours than they had intended on the island.

"I'm sure nothing has happened to her. Cricket will never be drowned,
don't be afraid. I think she's just plain gone off and forgotten
us--that bad girl! Won't I make the boys tease her for this! There!
perhaps I can iron that out smooth."

[Illustration: "THE EXILES"]



CHAPTER VII.

THE EXILES.


Eunice made a telescope of her hands and studied the shore intently.

"Isn't that our boat, now, drawn up by those rocks? No, not near the
docks, but up to the right."

Edna followed her gaze.

"I do think it is! Yes, and that's Billy, isn't it? and those little
things are the twins. And Eunice! that's Cricket, this instant! See
she's standing up now. I know her by the broad white flannel collar on
her blue dress. Now they are coming down to the beach. She did row over
for something and sat down to talk, and forgot us. What crazy lunatics
we were to let her go off with the boat!"

"Cricket hasn't forgotten anything serious since she forgot mamma's
invitation last spring. You see, she never thought about the tide going
out, and meant to come back and get us later. It takes so long to get
used to the tide. I do wish it would settle upon some time of day, and
keep to it. Don't you? It's a great nuisance."

"I guess I do," replied Edna, with inelegant emphasis. "If I had my way,
the tide shouldn't go out but once a day, and that's at night. These
ugly old mud-flats that have to be seen some time during every day are
the one thing that spoil Marbury. It's so pretty when the bay is full.
But, Eunice, we've got to make up our minds to stay here and broil, this
whole afternoon. Even if Cricket should start this minute, she couldn't
get here. Do you see that broad, smooth place, with the water rippling a
little on each side? That means that there is a mud-flat there, and it
will be bare in about ten minutes. Oh, goodness gracious me! enchanting
prospect!" and Edna plumped herself down on the rock in despair.

"It's no worse really than many a time when we've been over here and
staid five or six hours and meant to," said Eunice, philosophically,
"only we never happened to be caught and obliged to stay. And it might
be worse," she added, cheerfully. "We have luncheon, for one thing. You
know we stayed here all day, once."

"But then we _expected_ to," said Edna, looking very unresigned. "We
had made up our minds to."

"Very well, then," said Eunice, brightly, "let us make up our minds to
stay, now. Let's play we want to, and meant to all the time. We'll eat
our luncheon, and then you can embroider and I'll read to you some more.
Or let's go on playing that we're shipwrecked, and that Cricket has gone
back with a raft to the ship, to bring some things back. Of course, that
would take all day."

"If the ship was burned," objected Edna, "there wouldn't be any wreck to
bring things from."

"We'll play it rained and put out the fire," returned Eunice,
imperturbably. "Plenty of ways to fix it. Wasn't it fortunate we rescued
your work and my book from the wreck," she went on, changing her tone.
"And don't let's stay here and bake in the sun any longer. I'm just
drizzling away. Come back to the rocks and eat our luncheon. There's
evidently no use waiting any longer for Cricket," she added, with a
laugh. "We'll have a lovely afternoon, and we'll pretend we meant to
stay all the time."

"Oh, pretend! I believe you girls would _pretend_ if you were going to
be hung. You'd play you liked it," said Edna, laughing, herself.

"Why not?" answered Eunice, sturdily. "It makes things lots easier.
Besides, it's more fun. Do you suppose auntie and grandma will worry
when we're not back to dinner?"

"No, because I told mamma where we were going, and Cricket will have to
tell them we're safe, and that she's forgotten us. We can't be run away
with very well, and nothing can happen to us here. And, why, Eunice!
look! isn't that Cricket, now, rowing towards us? No, this way. Not far
from shore."

"It is! it is! Wah-whoo-wah! wah-whoo-wah! Naughty, naughty Cricket!
wah-whoo-wah!" shrieked Eunice, clapping her hands.

But Edna instantly put her hands to her mouth to form a trumpet, and
called with all her might:

"Go back, Cricket! go back! You'll get aground."

"Wah-whoo-wah!" came back faintly over the water, and they could see the
little figure bend to the oar.

"Go _back_!" screamed Edna, fairly dancing up and down in her
excitement, for she knew what would happen better than Eunice did. But
Cricket evidently did not understand. She looked over her shoulder,
waved her oar, and pulled on.

"Oh, _dear_," cried Edna, "see, that mud-flat back of her will be all
bare in two minutes, and she doesn't know it, and she's pulling right
across it. Oh, oh, she's aground!"

And, indeed, the last stroke of the oars had landed the boat on the
treacherous bank, where it stuck fast. The girls watched her, eagerly,
as the oars came up, dripping with mud, in her frantic efforts to push
over it.

"Why doesn't she sit still?" exclaimed Edna, anxiously. "She'll get the
boat wedged fast!"

But, by some good luck, one final shove of the oars sent the light boat
through the yielding mud, and into a little depression beyond, where the
water still flowed. Cricket pulled with all her strength, realizing now
the inconvenience of being stuck fast. There was still another flat,
which was fast uncovering itself, between her and the island, but if she
could only get through that, there was water enough beyond to float her
to the island. That had a rock foundation, and the water was
unexpectedly deep around it. But, unfortunately, the next mud-flat was
too wide to get over it before the swiftly ebbing tide left it entirely
bare, and so there, within five hundred feet of the island, she finally
stuck, immovably. The girls ran down to the edge of the island, waving
their hands, and shouting.

"I--guess--I'm--stuck!" called Cricket, standing up, carefully, and
turning around. Fortunately her voice could just be heard.

Eunice and Edna laughed at the obvious truth of her remark.

"I should think she _was_ stuck! What a little goose to try to get out
here when the tide was so low!"

"She isn't used to it," said Eunice, defensively. "See, now. Five
minutes ago there seemed to be water enough in the bay, and now look at
it!"

It was a sight to look at, for the broad mud-flats were now visible in
every direction, while streams of water still lay in the deeper
depressions.

"I never noticed before, in all my life, how quickly the tide goes out,"
added Eunice.

"We never happened to be caught on a desert island before," said Edna,
"when you _have_ to notice it. I suppose we get so in the habit of
calculating upon it, and knowing by the looks of the water how long it
will take, that we forget you don't know so well. But what will Cricket
do? Think of her staying out there for about four hours, in that
broiling sun, and nothing to eat. Gracious, she has the worst of it."

"Couldn't she take off her shoes and stockings, and wade in through the
mud?" suddenly asked Eunice, brightening.

"No, indeed. She'd sink down to China, I guess. There's
just about no bottom at all to this mud, if you step in it.
Keep--perfectly--still--Cricket," she hallooed, suddenly,
through her hands, as Cricket shows signs of restlessness.

"What will she do?" groaned Eunice. "It seems perfectly heartless to sit
down and eat our luncheon, when she can't get a mouthful."

"But our not eating won't do her any good," objected Edna, very
sensibly.

"Anyway, I'm not going to eat anything, with my Cricket out there,
starving," cried Eunice, determinedly.

"But _Eunice_! how silly! It won't help Cricket any. She wouldn't like
to have you not eat."

"I sha'n't eat a mouthful," replied Eunice, obstinately, shaking her
head.

"Well, then, I'll tell you what we'll do. We'll eat just one tiny
sandwich apiece, so we won't just die with hunger, then we'll call to
Cricket that we won't eat the rest till she can get in here. Then we'll
eat it before we go back."

"Yes, I'll do that," answered Eunice, after considering a moment. And
then they called to Cricket.

"We--won't--eat--any--luncheon--till you--get--here. Can--you--wait?"

"Have--to!" called back Cricket, cheerfully. "Will--it--be--long?"

"Three--or--four--hours!" answered Edna. "Keep--as--still--as--you--can,
--so--the--boat--won't--sink. _Can_ she keep still?" added Edna, to
Eunice.

"I think so," answered Eunice, somewhat doubtfully, it must be
confessed. Then they sat down, and, opening their luncheon, selected a
small sandwich each. It really took considerable self-control not to
satisfy two hearty appetites, then and there, for the luncheon looked
very tempting. But Eunice resolutely put the basket away.

"What will auntie think?" asked Eunice, anxiously, glancing toward the
shore. "It's dinner-time, I guess."

"There are the boys, now," cried Edna. "Yes, it's dinner-time, and
they've come down to see where we are." She stood up and waved her
bureau cover. The boys, catching sight of the signal, waved frantically
in return. Presently, all the others, grandma, auntie, old Billy, and
the children, were seen to gather there. The boys ran up and down the
beach, then all the figures clustered together, evidently holding a
council of war.

"There's just nothing to be done," sighed Edna, "except to wait for the
water."

"Wait for the water, and we'll all take a ride," sang Eunice. "It's
really much harder for them to be anxious about us, and about Cricket,
than for us to be here. And hardest of all for Cricket. For pity's sake!
what is the child doing?"

In watching the shore people, they had forgotten for a moment the
stranded boat and its small occupant. As they looked again, they saw she
had stuck the oars in the mud, blade down, and was now evidently lashing
them to the oar-locks. This done, she stood up and slipped off the blue
flannel skirt of her little sailor suit, standing up in her short white
petticoat. She hung the skirt by the hem over the oars, and immediately
she had a very fair substitute for a tent, to shield her from the
blazing sun. Then, apparently quite contented, she sat down in the
bottom of the boat, adjusting the cushion from the stern seat, for a
back. She had her face towards the island, and, when she was comfortably
settled, she waved her hand, crying out:

"Isn't--this--exciting?
I'm--playing--I'm--Marco--Bozzaris--in--his--shrouded--tent."

After their consultation, the shore people had evidently decided there
was nothing to be done for the shipwrecked mariner and her exiled
companions, as presently every one went into the house.

"Think of the soup and roast beef they're devouring!" sighed Eunice,
with a thrill of envy,--but she stood fast to her resolution not to eat
luncheon till Cricket could have some, too.

Fortunately, there was no special danger for Cricket, unless she
actually tumbled out of the boat into the deep, soft mud, which she
could scarcely do, unless she deliberately jumped out, so securely was
the boat held. So the time went on, and Eunice and Edna, after a while,
submitted to the inevitable, and resumed work and reading, stopping now
and then to look towards Cricket, and call out sympathizing messages.

"Isn't--it--nice--I'm--near--enough--to--talk--to--you?" called back
this little Mark Tapley once.

"Are--you--_very_--hungry?" shouted Eunice, after a long lapse in this
high-keyed conversation. But there was no answer, and, looking again,
they saw that Cricket's head was down on her arm, which was stretched
out over the seat.

"She's actually gone to sleep!" said Eunice, in amazement. "Well, I
never knew Cricket to go to sleep in the daytime before in her life."

"I should think she'd do anything for variety," returned Edna. "If this
isn't the longest day that ever was! I should think it was to-morrow
morning. It's worse than that day last summer when we went
blackberrying and came home at ten in the morning, thinking it was six.
Do you remember?"

"I should think I did! I never had a chance to forget it," answered
Eunice, "between papa and Donald. I suppose it _was_ funny to them, but
I never could see how the time seems so long to us."

"Oh, look, look!" cried Edna, suddenly. "Do you see that little ripple
where the water lies in the channel? The tide is turning at last. In an
hour or so, now, the water will be high enough for Cricket to get over
here at least,--though we can't get home for a long time yet."

If the time had dragged before, this last hour fairly crawled. Eagerly
the girls watched the strengthening ripples and the eddying current in
the channel, as the water slowly crept higher in the outer bay. Slowly
the brown ooze became a smooth, even, brown paste, and then, a few
minutes later, the usual transformation scene took place. The bay was so
protected by the long arm of land that half surrounded it that there was
not only no surf, but no large waves even. The first you knew, the
deepening water hid the ugly mud-flats, which were so level that only
two or three inches of water were needed to transform the bay into a
thing of beauty.

"Cricket! Cricket!" shrieked both girls, in eager chorus. "Wake--up!
wake--up! the--tide's--coming--in. _Crick_--et!"

Cricket, evidently bewildered, sat up, and looked around her, then
grasped the situation. Quickly she pulled down her tent, and restored
her skirt to its original use. She unlashed her oars, and adjusted them
in the oar-locks.

"Push--off--as--soon--as--you--can!" called Edna.
"Rock--the--boat--to--loosen--it."

Cricket obeyed instructions. She kept up a steady swaying movement,
dipping her oars lightly in the deepening water. At last, like
Longfellow's ship, "she starts! she moves!"

"Hurrah!" shouted Cricket, waving her oar, and then applying it
vigorously. "I'm off!"

One more determined shove and she _was_ off, and her boat floated in the
hollow between herself and the island. It was but a moment's work then
to pull in shore. If the two sisters had been parted for a year, they
could not have greeted each other more rapturously. They rushed into
each other's arms, kissing and hugging each other, while Edna declared
she would eat up all the luncheon if they didn't stop.

"If I'm not starved!" cried Cricket, eagerly falling to as soon as the
luncheon was opened. "I almost thought I'd eat my shoes out in the boat.
It was awfully good of you not to eat anything till I got here."

"There's enough to last us till we get home, anyway," said Edna,
munching away at the sandwiches with much satisfaction. "Now tell us,
Cricket, what became of you?"

"Nothing became of me. I thought I'd row over home for a drink, and old
Billy and the children were down on the beach, and I took them out for a
little row, and I played they were castaways from the burning ship. Then
I took them in, and sat down to rest, and then I thought it was time to
come back for you. I never thought about the tide, and there seemed to
be plenty of water around, and suddenly I found the water had all turned
into mud."

"Cricket, your stockings are all coming down," interrupted Eunice.

"Yes, I know," said Cricket, coolly, stopping long enough to produce her
side-elastics from her pocket. "I took off my stocking-coddies to tie
the oars up with, to make my tent. Why, I had lots of fun, girls. I
couldn't think of any shipwrecked hero who was ever stuck in the mud, so
I played the mud was a desert, and that I was Marco What's-his-name in
his shrouded tent, and--"

"It was the Turk, who was at midnight in his shrouded tent," interrupted
Eunice, again.

"Was it? Well, I played it, anyway. Then I put my head down on my arm to
look like him, and I must have gone to sleep, for the sun was pretty
hot, even under my tent, and it made me dreadfully sleepy. Then I heard
you call me, and there was the water all around me. Can't we start, now,
Edna?"

"We can't get over that last bar nearest the shore, yet awhile,"
answered Edna, "but we can start as soon as there is the least bit of
water over it, for by the time we get there the water will be deep
enough to float us."

"I don't care how long we stay, now," said Eunice, contentedly, "since
Cricket is here, and not out there all alone. I'll row in, Cricket."

"See, there are the boys running along the shore, and beckoning.
Probably they mean it is safe to start now. Let's get ready. My goody,
doesn't it seem as if we had been here a week?"

"Don't let's come again till it's high tide in the middle of the day,"
said Eunice. "Here, now we have the things all in."

"Isn't this boat a spectacle?" said Eunice, surveying its mud-splashed
sides. "Won't the boys give you a blessing, Miss Scricket!"

"A blessing is a good thing to have," answered Cricket, quite
undisturbed, as she yielded the oars to Eunice, and sat in the stern
with Edna.



CHAPTER VIII.

A NEW PLASTER.


"It seems to me, my dear," said grandma, standing on the piazza, and
drawing on her gloves, "that it is a _very_ great risk to run to go and
leave those children to themselves for six whole hours. If you _could_
manage without me, I think I'll stay at home, even now," and grandma
looked somewhat irresolutely at the carriage, which was waiting at the
gate to take them to the station.

"I am afraid you must come, mother, on account of those business
matters," Mrs. Somers answered. "But the children will be all right, I
know. Eliza will look out for the small fry, and the elders must look
out for themselves," she added, looking down at the three, Eunice, Edna,
and Cricket, with a smile. "Don't get into any mischief, will you?"

The girls looked insulted.

"The very _idea_, auntie!" exclaimed Eunice. "As if we ever got into
mischief! Nobody looks after us especially, at Kayuna."

"And, consequently," said auntie, with a sly smile, "you go to the
cider-mill when you are put in charge of the children, and get run away
with by the oxen."

Eunice got very red.

"Well, that was a great while ago, auntie, when we were quite young,"
she said, with as much dignity as if the occurrence auntie referred to
was half a dozen years ago, instead of one. "Anyway," changing the
subject, "we'll look after everything now, and you can stay till the
last train, if you want to."

"No, dear, thank you. We'll come on the 5.10, I think, at any rate.
Perhaps earlier, if we accomplish all our business. There! I didn't put
on my watch. Edna, will you run up-stairs and get it, from my bureau or
table? I think I laid it on the table. No, wait. Have you yours, mother?
Never mind, then, Edna. But will you please put it back in my drawer,
when you go up-stairs, dear? Don't forget. Well, good-by. Be good
children," and with a kiss all round, auntie and grandma got into the
carriage.

"Good-by. Be sure and bring me some chocolate caramels," called Edna.

Auntie smiled, nodded, and waved her hand, and then Luke turned the
corner, and they rolled away.

"The boys said that the tide would be right for bathing, about eleven,"
Cricket said, after they had watched them out of sight. "Come on, it's
most time," and off they trooped for their plunge. The children were
already over at the Cove, with Eliza, running about in their little blue
bathing-suits, though they generally went in only ankle deep. Edna could
swim well, and Cricket had made good progress in the last week. Eunice
took to the water as naturally as a duck, and, strange to say, had
learned to swim well, before Cricket did.

After their bath they came back to the house, where Eunice and Cricket
settled themselves on the piazza, to write letters to the travellers.
Cricket kept a journal letter and scribbled industriously every day.
Both Eunice and Cricket had sometimes very homesick moments, when papa
and mamma seemed very far away, and Cricket, in particular, occasionally
conjured up very gloomy possibilities of her pining away, and dying of
homesickness, before they returned, so that when they should come home,
they would find only her grave, covered with flowers. She even went so
far, in one desperate moment, as to compose a fitting epitaph for her
tombstone, which was to be of white marble, of course, with an angel on
top.

This was the epitaph.

   "Oh, stranger, pause! Beneath this mossy stone
    Lies a poor child, who died, forsaken and alone.
    Her mother far in distant lands did roam,
    Leaving her daughter, Jean, to die at home.
    She pined away in sad and lonely grief,
    Not any pleasures brought to her relief,
    And when at last her family returned,
    With sorrow great, about her death they learned.
    So, pause, oh, stranger! drop a single tear,
    Pity the grief of her who liest here."

This effusion was the greatest consolation to Cricket. She never showed
it to anybody, not even to Eunice, but she often took it out, and read
it with much satisfaction, and was almost inclined to begin pining away
directly.

But on the whole they were very contented, and it was much easier for
them than if they had been left at Kayuna.

Dinner-time--dinner was a one o'clock feast, in the summer--came when
they had finished their letters, and had them ready for the mail.

"We'll have the European letters to-night," said Eunice, joyfully, as
they sat down to the table. "Does it seem as if we'd been here two
weeks? Mamma won't seem so far away, when we get the first letters."

"There was the cablegram," said Edna.

"That doesn't count," said Eunice. "It wasn't mamma's own dear
handwriting."

"Papa writed it," chirped in Helen.

"No, he didn't, goosie," said Cricket. "The man here wrote it. Papa only
sent it."

"I know!" exclaimed Zaidee. "Papa talked it into the box, and the man
writed it down when he talked," confusing the telephone at home with the
cablegram, which, directed to Miss Eunice Ward, as the eldest
representative, had been the occasion of much excitement on its arrival.

After dinner the three girls started down on the beach, to sit down
under the rocks till it should be cool enough, later, to go for a ride
with the ponies.

"There comes the baby, all alone," said Cricket, presently, as that
young man slipped out of the yard all by himself, and ran across the
road and down towards the beach where the girls were. "Doesn't he look
cunning? The darling!"

Kenneth, although he was nearly four, was still The Baby to the family.
His broad-brimmed hat hung down his back, held around his chin by its
elastic, and his golden hair was rampant. His blue eyes were dancing
with mischief, and his hands were clasped behind his back.

"Dess what I dot?" he demanded, pausing at a safe distance, and looking
up roguishly from under his long lashes.

"What have you there, baby? See what he has, Cricket, and tell him he
mustn't have it," said Eunice.

"Bring it to Cricket, baby," said that young lady, holding out her hand.

"Dess what I dot," repeated the baby, edging off a little.

Just then Zaidee appeared from the house. Kenneth immediately trotted
off up the beach at the sight of her. She ran after him.

"Do away!" he cried, holding his possession, whatever it was, more
tightly. "You tan't have it, Zaidee. I dot it."

"What's the matter, Zaidee?" called Eunice. "Where's Eliza?"

"She's dressing Helen. Eunice, Kenneth has auntie's gold watch. She
left it on the little table where she keeps her God-books"--for so the
twins always called the Bible and Prayer-book--"and he's run off with
it. I guess auntie forgot it. Ought he to have it, Eunice?"

"Of course not," said Eunice, springing up. "Edna, auntie told us to put
it away, and we forgot it. Dear me! I hope he won't drop it. Baby, come
here and give the watch to Eunice." She went slowly towards him, holding
out her hand.

But baby hugged his treasure. "I dot tick-tick!" he announced,
triumphantly. "Tennet likes it. Oo tan't have it," and off he started as
fast as two little legs could carry him, over the soft sand till he
reached the firmer beach, which the receding tide had left hard.

Eunice sprang after him. The baby looked back over his shoulder, greatly
enjoying the race, tripped over a bit of stone, and fell headlong, the
watch shooting on ahead. He gave a frightened cry as he fell, but the
next instant, when Eunice reached him, he lay motionless. Hurriedly she
raised him up. A stream of blood poured from an ugly gash in his poor
little forehead, cut on a piece of glass that was half imbedded in the
sand. As she raised him his golden head fell back heavily, and his eyes
were closed.

"Oh, girls, girls!" shrieked Eunice. "Kenneth is dead! he's killed! he's
killed!"

Cricket and Edna were already by her side.

"Run, Zaidee--Edna--run for Eliza. Get some water, Cricket. Oh, baby,
speak to me," poor frightened Eunice cried, half beside herself at the
gruesome sight of the baby's white, still face, and that dreadful blood
welling up so fast, and staining everything with its vivid red. Cricket
flew to the edge of the beach, dipping water up in the crown of her
sailor hat. She tore off her soft Windsor tie to use for a handkerchief
(which, of course, she didn't have), to wipe off the streaming blood.
The little face looked ghastly white, in contrast to the blood-soaked
hair about it.

Eliza came flying from the house with the Pond's Extract bottle in one
hand and a bundle of old linen in the other, articles that were always
at hand, ready for use.

"Bring him into the shade," she called, as she ran, and Eunice, with
Kenneth in her arms, hurried up the beach. Eliza took him as they met,
and fairly flew back into the yard.

"Oh, Billy!" she called, passing him, "go for the doctor as fast as you
can. Kenneth's dreadfully hurt. No, Miss Edna, you go. You can go
quicker;" and Edna flew.

Eliza, frightened herself by the child's unconsciousness, dropped on the
grass under a tree, trying to stanch the blood that now flowed less
freely. Eunice ran for hartshorn, Cricket for water. As they washed away
the blood, they could see the long, ugly cut just over his eye. Eliza
laid linen bandages soaking in Pond's Extract over the place, but in a
moment they were stained through.

Edna came rushing back, panting and breathless.

"The doctor's gone away--won't be back for ever so long--they'll send
him right over when he comes. Oh, Eliza! will Kenneth die?"

Zaidee set up a shriek at the word.

"Be still, Zaidee," ordered Cricket, slipping her hand over the little
girl's mouth. "You go and find poor Helen, and help her finish her
dressing."

Zaidee went off, sobbing, and Eunice asked, anxiously:

"Couldn't we plaster it up ourselves? I know papa says the edges of a
cut like that ought to be drawn together as soon as possible, and
bandaged. I know how he does it. He sops the place off, and washes the
cut out, and puts strips of sticking-plaster over it, and then ties it
up in a dry bandage."

"Oh, it's a head you have, Miss Eunice," said Eliza, who showed her
Irish blood by her terror.

"You get some sticking-plaster, Miss Cricket, while I sop off the blood.
Oh, my pretty! my pretty! See! he's opening his eyes. Do you know 'Liza,
lovey?"

The heavy blue eyes opened, languidly, and the yellow head stirred a
little. The motion set the blood flowing again.

"Kenneth," said Eunice, bending down beside him; "here's sister! wake
him up, if you can, 'Liza. Papa wouldn't let Zaidee go to sleep last
winter when she fell off the bedstead and bumped her head so. Baby! wake
up, pet!" and she kissed him, eagerly.

In a few minutes, Cricket came running out of the house. "We can't find
any sticking-plaster, and we've looked everywhere. Edna says she
doesn't know if her mother has any. What shall we do? I know it ought
to be put together right away, else it wouldn't heal so well. Oh, wait!
I know!" and back she darted. Immediately she reappeared with a part of
a sheet of postage stamps.

"These will do, 'Liza," she said, excitedly. "Now, is the cut all washed
out? Here, I can do it. I've watched papa lots of times."

Cricket knelt down by the baby and dipped a piece of linen in water. The
flow of blood was very slight by this time. She wiped Kenneth's forehead
off, carefully, over and over, and then the cut itself, looking to see
if any bit of glass or sand was still in it. Then, with firm, gentle
little fingers, she drew the gaping edges together closely, and held
them, while Eunice moistened some postage stamps in water, and laid them
in place.

"Cricket! how can you do that? How do you know how?" exclaimed Edna, who
kept in the rear, since the sight of the blood made her feel a little
faint and sick.

"I've seen papa _loads_ of times," answered Cricket, in her
matter-of-fact way. "If only we had some surgeon's plaster. But that
will hold for now. Bind this strip tight around it now, 'Liza. Baby,
can't you talk a little? Do you know Cricket?"

"Tritet," repeated Kenneth, with a faint little smile. "Tritet take
baby."

"Let me have him," begged Cricket, and Eliza laid him gently in his
little sister's arms.

"Eunice, there's Mrs. Bemis coming over," said Edna, "I'm so glad."

Mrs. Bemis was the doctor's wife. She came hastily up to the little
group.

"I was out when Edna came, and just got in. The girl told me some one
was hurt, so I came right over. The baby, is it? poor little soul! has
he lost all that blood? did he cut himself?"

Eunice explained, and Cricket told Eliza to unfasten the bandage to ask
Mrs. Bemis if it was all right. At the sight of four pink stamps, the
doctor's wife exclaimed in astonishment:

"What have you put on for a plaster? It looks beautifully done."

"Them's postage stamps," volunteered Eliza, quickly. "Miss Cricket
couldn't find any sticking-plaster, so she brought this. Oh, she's her
father's own child for the doctorin'."

"I thought they might do," explained Cricket, rather shyly. "I knew I
ought to have strips of plaster, of course, but I couldn't find any. I
thought the cut ought to be drawn together as soon as possible."

"You're a thoughtful child," said Mrs. Bemis, warmly.

"But Eunice thought of doing it first," answered Cricket, quickly. "I
only thought of the postage stamps."

"He's too heavy for you, my dear," said Mrs. Bemis, then. "Carry him
gently into the house, Eliza. He's faint with the loss of so much blood.
Let him go, dear," as Cricket demurred. "Eliza can carry him better than
you. Let me give him a few drops of this, first," and she moistened the
baby's lips with a few drops from a flask she had brought in her hand.

When the little procession reached the hall door, Mrs. Bemis said:

"Let me take care of him now, with Eliza, girls. You keep the twins
amused out-of-doors," for Zaidee and Helen came creeping down the
staircase, looking frightened to death. The girls willingly turned back,
having taken them in charge.

"Oh, the watch!" suddenly exclaimed Edna, and they all raced down to
the beach, where the accident had happened. The watch still lay,
gleaming in the sunlight, where it had fallen, ticking as unconcernedly
as if no adventure had befallen it. Fortunately, it had alighted on a
particularly soft bit of sand. Edna picked it up.

"If only I hadn't forgotten to put this away when mamma told me to, all
this wouldn't have happened," she said, remorsefully.

"I suppose Kenneth just slipped in there after 'Liza finished dressing
him," said Eunice, "and saw it lying on the table. You know he's always
teasing auntie to show him her 'tick-tick.'"

They went slowly back into the yard, scarcely knowing what to do with
themselves. They could not settle to any of their regular amusements,
and nobody wanted to go off riding. The twins were still under the tree,
where they had left them. Helen ran towards them.

"Eunice, won't you please make Zaidee stop drinking up all the Pond's
Extrap? She says she likes it, and I'm afraid it will kill her," she
said, half crying. "I told her to don't, and she didn't don't."

"Put the bottle right down, Zaidee," ordered Eunice, laughing. "If you
drink the Pond's Extract, what will you do when you fall down and hurt
yourself, next time?"

Zaidee took a last hasty swallow. Strange to say, she did like it, very
much.

"I suppose it goes all down inside my legs," she said, with calm
conviction, "and if I bump my legs it will do them lots more good inside
than outside. Come on, Helen. 'Liza said cook would give us our supper
to-night, and she's calling us."

"What funny children," exclaimed Edna. "Does Zaidee really _like_ it?"

"Yes, really. 'Liza keeps the bottle locked up. Isn't it funny?"

Just before auntie and grandma returned, Dr. Bemis came over, and went
to see his little patient. He was amused at Cricket's original plaster,
for which he carefully substituted the proper article, but he pronounced
the dressing of the cut very nicely done, and said that the cut would
not have healed so well as he hoped it would now, if it had been left
open for that two hours that elapsed before he could get there.



CHAPTER IX.

GEORGE W. AND MARTHA.


A rattling, banging, clattering sound, like a small army of tin pans on
a rampage, suddenly woke the echoes one still, sultry afternoon. Auntie
Jean thought it was the circus, and sighed as she wondered if they were
going to keep it up long enough to make it worth while for her to leave
her cool room and her afternoon nap, to go and stop them. Grandma heard
it, and supposed it was Cricket, trying some new experiment as a tinware
merchant, and hoped she would soon turn her attention to some different
employment. Cricket heard it, and promptly started for the scene of
action, meeting, in the hall, Eunice and Edna, who came running
down-stairs, as well as the boys, who appeared from the kitchen, where
they had been foraging for a mid-afternoon lunch.

The disturbance came from the front piazza, but when they went out there
nothing, for a moment, was visible, though the same mysterious whacking
and banging went on, under the table.

"What is it?" they all exclaimed, but straightway the question was
solved, for out from under the table-cover backed a half-grown black
kitten, with its head firmly wedged into a tin tomato can. Backing and
scratching, as a cat will when its head is covered, the poor little
thing, evidently half frantic, tumbled up against the chairs and the
side of the house, mewing most frightfully and banging its inconvenient
headdress against the piazza floor.

"You poor little cat! Has some horrid boy been abusing you?" cried
Cricket, making a dive for it, but dropping it, when she caught it, with
equal promptness, as its sharp claws tore her hands. "Why, stop! you
dreadful little thing! How you hurt me!"

"Pick it up, boys," begged Edna, as the cat resumed its backward way.
"Do get that can off. How did any one ever get it on, do you suppose?
Here, kitty! kitty!"

"Curiosity killed a cat, they say," said Will, watching his chance at
it. "I suppose it wanted to see the inside of that can, and now that it
has seen it, it isn't satisfied. There's no suiting some people. There
you are, sir!" and Will, having caught the table-cloth from the table,
sending the magazines and papers in a shower to the floor, threw it
over the poor little black thing, so that, in picking it up, he could
muffle its claws, so that it could not scratch. Its neck was torn a
little, with the sharp, rough edges of the tin can, and a redoubled
chorus of frightened meows greeted his first attempt to remove it.

"Should think a whole orchestra of cats was shut up in here," Will
observed, trying another direction. "Arch, get out your knife, and see
if you can rip up this can a little. Jove, but it's snug! We can
dispense with a little of that music, my fine fellow. There--you--are,"
as Archie, with a final careful twist, drew off the can. Once out of its
tin bondage, the little creature seemed too frightened to move, and
suddenly curled down under the protecting table-cover, to restore its
ruffled fur, with many a piteous mew.

The girls gathered around to pet and soothe it.

"Keep away, girls. Don't touch it yet with your hands. It's so
frightened still it might scratch you. Here, Cricket, take it in the
table-cloth, there. Better give it something to eat. It's a stray cat,
and probably half starved, and that's why it tried to eat tomato cans,
like a goat."

Cricket bore off her charge to the kitchen, where she fed and soothed it
with such good effect that, when she came back, half an hour later, the
little black cat cuddled down on her arm, purring like a teakettle in
spite of its wounded neck.

"Isn't it a dear?" she said, admiringly. "I think grandma will let me
keep it. We haven't any cat in the house since Wallops died, and I love
them."

Grandma was entirely willing that the little waif should be added to the
family, and so it was legally adopted by Cricket, with all sorts of
solemn ceremonies. Then came the naming it, always a serious difficulty.

"I want a very appropriate name," meditated Cricket, aloud.

"The Cat in the Iron Mask," suggested Will.

"Too long. Think of calling all that out when I want him in a hurry."

"Cantankerous," said Archie.

"No, I want a regular name."

"Can-on Farrar, then. That's a regular name, and it's a very appropriate
one."

"I don't like that, either. I want just a plain, common, every-day sort
of name, like George Washington."

"Very well, take George Washington, then. That is very appropriate
indeed. He couldn't tell a lie, and probably your cat can't either."

"Do you think he's dignified enough to be called George Washington!"
asked Cricket, doubtfully, watching the Nameless jump around after his
tail. She had had him for two days now, and he had quite recovered from
his tinny imprisonment. He proved to be a most well-bred and
entertaining little cat, for he came when he was called and went when he
was bid, in orthodox fashion, and made himself entirely at home.

"Probably George was frisky in his youth," said Will. "Especially when
he was courting Martha."

"Then I'll do this: I'll call him George Washington as far as his tail,
and I'll call that Martha, because he runs after it. Come here, George
W., you've run after Martha long enough now. Come here, and be
christened."

[Illustration: FEEDING GEORGE WASHINGTON--"CRICKET BORE OFF HER CHARGE
TO THE KITCHEN"]

And so George Washington he remained to the end of the chapter. He soon
learned his name, and would come flying at the first sound of it. He
proved to be a pet that required considerable attention. He was of an
especially sociable nature, and, if left alone in any room, he would
howl in mournful and prolonged meows, that speedily brought some one to
the rescue. He tagged the girls like a little dog, and would stand on
the shore crying like a child if they went off in the boat and would not
take him. He slept in Cricket's bed at night, and if by any chance he
was shut out when the family went to bed, and the house was locked up,
he would make night hideous with lamentations, to an extent that would
soon bring some one down to let him in.

One day the familiar meow sounded, and Cricket, who was curled up in the
hammock, reading, instantly sprang up.

"There's George W.," for so his name was generally abbreviated, "and
he's shut up somewhere, and I let him out myself only a few minutes ago.
I believe he gets into places through the keyholes, and I don't see why
he doesn't get out through 'em."

But George was not to be found in any of his usual haunts, and his meows
ceasing, Cricket went back to her book. Presently, a prolonged cry was
heard again, and again Cricket started in quest of him. She looked and
called everywhere, but George W. was nowhere to be found, though his
meow, with a quality peculiar to himself, seemed to come from no
particular place, but to pervade the air generally.

"Come and help me find George W.," she called to Eunice and Edna, who
were also on the piazza. "He's mewing dreadfully, and I can't find him."

"He's worse than a baby," said Eunice, unwinding herself from the
comfortable, twisted-up position in the steamer chair, which she loved.
"Couldn't you let him cry a little while and give him a lesson?"

"I wouldn't mind giving _him_ a lesson, but I'm afraid he'd give me one
in patience," returned Cricket, laughing. "I'm sure I don't want to
listen to that music long. There, he's stopped again, now."

But five minutes later, George W. renewed his complaints.

"Now I'm going to let him cry!" said Cricket, returning in despair from
another search. So down she sat, shutting her ears to outside sounds in
her comfortable fashion.

Presently grandma appeared at the hall door.

"Cricket, my dear, George Washington seems to want something. Don't you
think you'd better try and find him?"

"Grandma, he's been crying and weeping for an hour at least, and I just
can't find him. But I'll look again."

But wherever George W. was, he was certainly securely hidden. He cried
now and then at intervals, but it was impossible to locate the sound,
since it came first from one side, then from another.

"He's between the floors somewhere," said Will, who had joined the
search. "The question is, where?"

"We'll have to decide that question at once," said auntie, "because we
can scarcely have all the floors in the house taken up. How could he
have gotten in?"

"Perhaps through some small hole in the garret floor. He's probably
forgotten the way back. Or, perhaps there's some hole down cellar where
he got inside, and ran up after the mice."

"Perhaps the mice have gotten the best of him, and are tearing him limb
from limb," suggested Archie, making such a horrible face that Helen
retreated behind Aunt Jean in terror.

All the afternoon they followed the sounds at intervals, listening at
the floor, and calling over and over. George W. seemed to be exploring
the entire interior of the house. Late in the afternoon, the cries came
more constantly from the floor of the trunkroom, a small apartment off
the garret, and directly over Eunice's room. There was a small knot-hole
in the floor, and the light from a window fell directly on it, probably
attracting George W. there. Saws and hatchets were brought, and the boys
soon had a piece of the floor up, making a hole large enough for several
cats the size of George to come up.

"George evidently likes this sort of thing," said Archie, hacking away.
"First the tin can, then the floor. Come out here, old fellow." But he
was evidently frightened away by the noise, and could not be induced to
come up.

"Bring a saucer of milk, Edna," said Mrs. Somers. "Stand it at one side,
and then we will all go away and he will soon come up." So the milk was
brought, and as it was supper-time, they all went down and left George
W. to his own devices. Cricket was much disposed to stay and make sure
that he came up, but she was finally persuaded to come down with the
rest.

"Isn't it funny how his voice came from all over?" she said, at the
supper-table. "Probably he was right there under the trunkroom floor all
the time. He was a regular philanthropist."

"A regular what?" asked grandma and Auntie Jean, together.

"A philanthropist. Don't you know? a man who--who talks where he isn't?"

"A _ventriloquist_!" said Will. "That's what you mean."

"Do I? Auntie, what is a philanthropist, then?"

"A philanthropist is one who loves man, dear, and who--"

"Then when a girl's engaged, is she a philanthropist?" broke in Cricket,
with her glass of milk half raised. The others all laughed.

"She is, very often," said grandma.

"I know the man she is engaged to is called her _financé_, but I never
knew she was called a philanthropist," went on Cricket, thoughtfully.

There was another shout.

"_Fiancé_, dear," said auntie, as soon as she could speak, "and the girl
isn't often _called_ a philanthropist, though she often is one."

"Dear me," sighed Cricket. "Words are very puzzling. They seem to be
made to say what you don't think."

"Oftentimes, my little Talleyrand," said grandma.

After supper, Cricket ran up to see if George W. had made his appearance
yet. A few moments later, the household, assembled on the front piazza,
was startled by a crash and a scream in Cricket's voice. With one
accord, everybody rushed up-stairs. The sounds seemed to come from
Eunice's room. As they opened the door, a cloud of dust poured out, from
a mass of plaster that lay on the floor, while from a hole in the
ceiling a length of black-stockinged leg kicked wildly. Above, a pair of
fists beat a tattoo on the floor, while Cricket called, loudly:

"For goodness' sake, somebody come and pull me up; I'm breaking my other
leg off."

Will sprang for the garret stairs, stumbling headlong, at the top, over
George W., who took the opportunity to spring over his head, alighting
right in the midst of the group of eager children, each of whom was
trying to get up-stairs first, and in a moment everybody lay on top of
everybody else, at the foot of the staircase.

Will, meantime, found his feet, and went to Cricket's rescue. It was
dark in the trunkroom, under the eaves, but there was light enough to
see Cricket, with one leg stretched out straight, and the other one so
firmly wedged into the hole in the floor that she could not move.

"My leg feels as George W.'s head must have when he was caught in the
tomato can," said Cricket, as Will drew up. "It's a pretty tight
squeeze. I don't believe there's any skin left on it. I just came up
quickly, and I couldn't see very well, and the first thing I knew my
foot slipped into a hole, and there was not any floor there, and I
slumped through."

"Are you hurt? Is Cricket hurt?" cried everybody, scrambling in, in hot
haste.

"Not much," said Cricket, ruefully, feeling her barked knee. "I came
down pretty hard on my elbow, and I nearly knocked it up to the top of
my head, and my back feels funny, but I'm _not_ hurt, not a bit!"

"What a mercy the child didn't fall all the way through, and go down on
the lower floor," said grandma, who had just arrived on the scene.

"Why, I couldn't," said Cricket, surprised. "My other leg stopped me."



CHAPTER X.

THE ECHO CLUB.


Eunice and Edna went sauntering along the beach, with arms around each
other's waists. They were bending their steps towards one of their
favourite retreats, under some big rocks. It was high tide, and the
water lay dimpling and smiling in the sunlight. Down beside the dock,
Will and Archie were giving their sailboat, the _Gentle Jane_, a
thorough cleaning and overhauling. Cricket was--the girls didn't know
exactly where.

"There she is now," said Eunice, as they came around the rocks. Cricket
lay in her favourite attitude, full length on the sand, in which her
elbows were buried, with a book under her nose. She sat up as the girls
came nearer.

"I have an idea," she announced, beamingly.

"_Very_ hot weather for ideas!" said Eunice, fanning herself with her
broad-brimmed hat.

"Eunice, you're dreadfully brilliant, aren't you? Anyway, I _have_ an
idea, and I just got it from 'Little Women.'"

Edna threw herself on the sand. "Don't let's do it, if we have to _do_
anything," she said, fanning likewise.

"Now, you're brilliant. But you're a lazybones, you know. Tell us your
idea, Cricket."

"You know how Jo and the rest had a club and published a paper? Now,
then, let _us_ have a club and publish a paper ourselves. It would be
lots of fun."

Eunice and Edna looked rather startled at Cricket's ambition.

"Who would write the pieces for it?" demanded Edna, instantly.

"_We_ would, of course," answered Cricket, superbly. "I'd love to do
it."

"Write stories, and poems, and everything," urged Edna, aghast.

"Of course," repeated Cricket, undauntedly. "It's as easy as rolling off
a log. That isn't slang, Eunice, and you needn't look at me. Rolling off
a log is really very easy indeed." For Eunice, though her own language
was not always above reproach, was very apt to play censor to her
younger sister. "We'd just make them up ourselves."

"Make them _up_!" Unimaginative Edna opened her mouth and eyes wider.
"I couldn't, to save my life!"

"Oh, you _could_. I've made up billions of stories," answered Cricket,
hugging her knees, and talking earnestly.

"But how?" persisted Edna. "Oh, I couldn't! I wouldn't try!"

"I don't know exactly _how_," returned Cricket, considering. "Just make
them up, that's all. Things come into your head all by themselves,
somehow."

"It _would_ be fun, Cricket," put in Eunice, who had been thinking over
the project. "We could print the paper all out on foolscap."

"Would we each write our own story out?"

"We could if we wanted to. I thought we might take turns being editor,
and printing everything out like a real paper. We might have one every
week, and get subscribers," added Cricket, ambitiously.

"Subscribers!" groaned Edna, "and print a copy out for each one? Not if
I know myself. It's too warm weather."

"Well, then, we might hand the one around to the subscribers, and each
one could pass it to the next, like a Magazine Club," said Edna.

"No," said Eunice. "Don't let us have subscribers, or anything like
that. We'll just do it for fun. We'll write one number out for
ourselves. I do think it will be fun. Shall we let the boys know?"

"No," said Edna, instantly. "They would tease and spoil things, just as
they always do."

"They don't tease much," said Cricket, defensively. "They're a great
deal nicer than they were last summer, I think, anyway. They did tease,
last summer, dreadfully, and they never played with Eunice and me, but
were always with Donald." For the summer before, Will and Archie had
spent two months at Kayuna, as grandma had been ill, and was not able to
have them at Marbury, as usual.

"This summer I think they're awfully nice. At least Will always is, and
Archie is, sometimes. They let me be around with them all the time."

"But I think we'd better not let them into it," said Eunice, judicially.
Eunice generally settled all questions. "They would not stick to it, and
they would want us to do it some other way from what we
wanted,"--speaking from long experience with boys,--"and they would
want to have it their own way. Now what shall we call ourselves?"

"We ought to be the 'Echo Club,'" suggested Edna, who often had
practical ideas. "We copy it from 'Little Women.'"

"Splendid!" cried Cricket, clapping her hands. "That's just the name,
Edna. How clever of you! We'll be the Echo Club, and the paper shall be
the 'Echo,' and we'll have badges with 'E. C.' on them, and we'll choose
a certain colour ribbon to wear them on, always, and we'll have
meetings, and oh, we'll have some by-laws!" her imagination instantly
running away with her. "I always wanted to have a club, and have
by-laws, and rules, all written out. Do let's begin, right away!"

"We can't very well begin a paper, till we have some stories written to
print in it," said Eunice, laughing. "We'll have to get some ideas,
first."

"You don't want ideas," answered Cricket, scornfully. "We want to write
some stories and things."

"I _never_ can!" sighed Edna, despairingly.

"But you can try," insisted Cricket. "It's so easy." And at last, Edna,
with a groan, promised she would at least try.

For the next few days, the three girls were never seen without the
accompaniment of blank books and pencils. The blank books were Cricket's
idea. She said that they could carry around blank books with them, and
write whenever they thought of anything to say. So they tied pencils
around their necks, by long ribbons, and scribbled industriously in
corners. Edna groaned, and protested, and chewed up her pencil, but
Cricket was inexorable, and gave her no peace, till she made a
beginning.

Suddenly Cricket discovered that they were not properly organized yet.

"Let's have a meeting at two o'clock this afternoon, and choose a
president, and secretary, and treasurer, and an editor, to print the
paper when it is done. We must make up our rules and by-laws, too. Oh,
we must have a regular business meeting," with an air of much
importance.

"Let's have it now, for we're all here," proposed Edna.

"No, indeed, that would not do at all," said Cricket, decidedly, quite
disgusted with this suggestion. "We must call the meeting first, just
as grown-up people do." For Cricket, with all her harum-scarum ways, had
a strong liking for organization.

"You're a fuss," said Edna, laughing, but yielding the point.

So at two o'clock, the three girls duly and solemnly convened behind the
rocks, where they were completely screened from observation, both from
the house, and from any one passing along the beach. All felt the
importance of the occasion, and had preternaturally grave faces.

"What do we do first?" asked Edna, uncertainly.

"I know," said Cricket, quickly. "We nominate some one for president,
and somebody seconds the motive. Papa has often told us about it, and
once I went with mamma to a club of hers. I'll nominate Eunice for
president, and you must second the motive, Edna, and then we'll vote."

"There'll be nobody to vote, but me, then," objected Eunice. "Shall I
vote for myself?"

"Might as well. You'll have to be president anyway, because you're the
oldest, and it's more appropriate. Or let's do this: You say, 'All in
favour say, aye. Contrary-minded, no,' and then we'll all vote. That's
the way they did in mamma's meeting, only, of course, there were more to
vote. Now, I nominate Eunice Ward as president of the Echo Club."

"I second the motive," said Edna, promptly, trying not to laugh.

"All in favour of my being president, say aye," said Eunice, in her
turn.

A very vigorous aye from the two others followed.

"Contrary-minded, say no."

There being nobody to say no, it was considered a unanimous election,
and Cricket so declared it, with a slight variation.

"Eunice is a _unaminous_ president," she announced.

"What is a _unaminous_ president," asked Edna.

"I don't know. It's something they always say. Now we must choose a
secretary and treasurer."

"What do they do?"

"Why, the secretary writes things," said Cricket, vaguely.

"All the stories?" said Edna, brightening. "I nominate Cricket for
secretary."

"Of course not. We each write our own stories. I mean letters and
things. Don't you know, Eunice, that Marjorie was secretary to her club
last winter, and what a lot of writing she had to do?"

"Who to?" persisted Edna. "What do they have to write letters for? We've
nobody to write letters to but Aunt Margaret and the rest."

"Not to them, of _course_," returned Cricket, somewhat impatiently, as
she did not at all know the duties of a secretary. "And the treasurer
takes care of the money, of course," she went on, quickly shifting the
subject to something she was sure of.

"How are we going to get any money, will you kindly tell me?" pursued
Edna.

"Keeping a peanut stand," suggested Eunice, slyly.

"No, don't let's," answered Cricket, seriously. "It isn't really _much_
fun, and you don't make very much, anyway. First, let's take up a
collection to buy the paper with, for we've got to have that. And, well,
if we should have any money in any way, the treasurer would be all ready
to take care of it. Don't you see?"

"Ye-es. I nominate Cricket for secretary and treasurer, then--"

"I'll second the motive--Cricket, that doesn't sound right."

"It is," said Cricket, positively. "When I went to that meeting with
mamma, they kept saying that--'I'll second the motive.'"

"All right, then, I'll second the motive, but then Edna will have to be
the editor."

"No, no," cried Edna, looking alarmed. "I'll nominate myself for
secretary and treasurer, and we'll have Cricket for editor. There won't
be any letters to write, and I'm sure there won't be much money to take
care of."

"It will be lots of work to be editor," meditated Eunice. "Wouldn't this
be better, girls? Let each be editor in turn."

"Yes, that will be best," said Cricket. "I'd just as lief be first
editor, though, if Edna doesn't want to."

"And I'd _lievser_ you would," said Edna. "Shall I be secretary and
treasurer, then? All in favour say aye;" and Eunice and Cricket said
aye, loudly.

"What do we do now the officers are all chosen?" asked Edna.

"Make rules and by-laws," answered Cricket, promptly.

"What _are_ by-laws?" asked Edna, again.

"Why, they are--by-laws. I don't know just exactly what they are," broke
off Cricket, honestly. "But I think they sound very interesting and
grown-up-y. Do you know what they are, Eunice?"

"N--o, not exactly. Do you suppose they are the laws about buying
things? or who must buy them, or anything like that?"

"Why, of course!" exclaimed Cricket, with an air of conviction. "You see
then, we'll _have_ to have by-laws to see about buying the paper, won't
we?"

"And what sort of rules do we have?" went on Edna, in the pursuit of
information.

"Oh, everything! Let's begin to make them now. You write them down,
Edna, for your handwriting is so nice and neat. Take the last leaf of
your blank book."

Edna obediently opened her book, and took up her pencil.

"Write 'Rules for the Echo Club' at the top of the page," directed
Cricket. "Now, Rule One," when this was down in Edna's careful
handwriting.

"How would this do for rule one? 'We make ourselves into a club called
the Echo Club.'"

"That's good. Now for rule two.

"'Every two weeks we will print a paper called the _Echo_,'" said
Cricket. "Edna, you make up rule three."

"'The secretary shall be excused from writing stories,'" laughed Edna.

"You lazy, lazy thing. That sha'n't be a rule at all," answered Eunice,
laughing also.

"How would this do, then, for rule three? 'The Echo Club will not do
anything in very hot weather, but sit under the trees and embroider and
read, and none of the members shall be allowed to make the others go on
long walks and things when it's so roasting hot that nobody wants to
stir.' That's a beautiful rule," said Edna, mischievously. Whereupon
Cricket flew at her, and rolled her over on the sand, till she cried for
mercy.

"Will the meeting please come to order," announced the president. "Let's
have the third rule about our ribbons. We'll choose one colour. I vote
for pale-green."

"Blue," said Edna, and "Pink," said Cricket, in one breath. The
children looked at each other and laughed.

"I'd just as soon have pale-green," said Edna, amiably.

"So would I," agreed Cricket. "Eunice is president, so let's vote for
pale-green. How would this do? 'The club will have pale-green ribbon to
tie its pencils round its necks.'"

"'Round its necks' sounds funny," commented Edna, writing.

"Round its neck, then. But that sounds as if we had only one neck."

"Say, the club will have pale-green ribbon to tie their pencils round
their necks," amended Eunice.

"That will do. Now rule four," said Edna, waiting, with pencil raised.

"Shouldn't we have a by-law now?" asked Cricket. "For instance, By-law
one: 'The club will buy foolscap paper to print on, and will take up a
surscription of five cents to buy it with.'"

"_Sub_scription," corrected Eunice. "I should think that would do."

So Edna wrote, neatly:

"Buy-law I. The club will take up a subscription of five cents each,
and buy foolscap paper, as much as it needs."

"That's good. Do we need any more by-laws? What else have we to buy?"

"Ain't those enough rules?" asked Eunice. "I can't seem to think of any
more rules we want to make."

"When will we have the paper?" asked Edna.

"Depends on when you send in your stories. This is Wednesday. Have you
your stories nearly done, girls? I guess it will take some time to print
them all out carefully."

"I can finish mine to-morrow," said Eunice.

"Mine's a horrid little thing, but I wasn't born bright," sighed Edna.
"I'll get it done by Friday. I can't think up more than five lines a
day."

"Mine's all done," said Cricket. "But, oh, girls! a newspaper ought to
have ever so many more things than stories in it. We ought to have
jokes, and advertisements, and deaths, and marriages, and all that. And
puzzles, too."

"Oh-h!" groaned Edna. "Then you'll have to make them up, that's all. I
think it's the editor's business, anyway."

"We'll each do a few. That won't be hard," suggested Eunice.

"Suppose nobody dies, or gets married, that we know of?" asked literal
Edna.

"Make them up, child," answered Cricket, with a funny air of
superiority. "In a paper you can make up _any_thing. It doesn't have to
be true. Don't you know how often papa says 'that's only a newspaper
story?'"

"Making them up is just the trouble," persisted Edna. "If anybody really
died, or married, or anything, it would be easy enough to write of it,
of course. How silly people are who make real newspapers. Why do they
ever make up anything, when real things are happening all the time?"

"It's more fun to make things up," answered Cricket, from the depths of
her experience. "But we can write about that old red hen, and about poor
little Wallops"--referring to a little black cat, lately deceased. "Then
each of you must send me in some things besides your stories, and I'll
make some up myself. Let's appoint next Tuesday for a meeting, if I can
get the paper done. If I don't, we'll have it as soon as I can get it
ready."

"Shall that be a rule?" laughed Eunice.

"No, miss. But suppose we make this a rule--how many rules have we now?"

"Three," said Edna, referring to the constitution.

"Then rule four: 'The paper shall be read on Wednesday afternoons, at
three o'clock, in Rocky Nook.' Why, girls! I made up that name just
then!" interrupting herself, in her surprise.

"It's a splendid name," the girls said.

"We might call it 'Exiles' Bower,'" laughed Edna, teasingly, for the
boys had given that name to Bear Island since the girls' imprisonment
there.

"If you like," said Cricket, the unteasable, serenely.

"Don't you think that the next rule ought to be that we won't tell the
boys?" asked Edna. "I just know they will tease us out of our senses."

So rule five was duly registered, to the effect that strict secrecy was
to be observed, and that they would tell no one but grandma and Auntie
Jean.

"There must be another by-law," put in Cricket, reflectively, here,
"for we must have some badges, like Marjorie's society."

"What are they?" asked Edna.

"Marjorie took a dime and had the jeweller rub it off smooth, and put
some letters on it. We could have E. C. put on ours. Then he put a
little pin on it, and she wears it all the time. Don't you suppose
auntie would see about them for us?"

"I'm sure she would. She would lend us the money, I guess, and let us
make it up from our allowances."

So the next regulation read:

"Buy-law two. We will have badges, made of dimes, with E. C. on them,
and will ask mamma to let us have the money for them."

"Doesn't that look club-by?" exclaimed Cricket, enthusiastically,
surveying the neatly written page, with its rules and "buy-laws."

"You ought to be the first editor, Edna, for you do write
_beau_tifully."

"You write my stories, and I'll print the paper, any time," said Edna,
brightening.

"No, I won't. I won't let you wiggle out of writing your stories, Edna,
if I print _all_ the papers. Come, girls, I'm nearly dead with sitting
still so long," added Cricket, springing up. "Let's go to ride."

"No, I thank you. This is all I want to do, this hot day," answered
Edna, stretching herself out on the sand, with her head in Eunice's lap.

"Oh, lazybones! I'm going to find old Billy, and take him to ride.
Good-by!"



CHAPTER XI.

"THE ECHO."


"Girls, we forgot one very important thing," said Cricket, suddenly
pausing in her work of copying out carefully, in print, on legal cap,
the much-interlined and very untidy looking manuscripts that had been
handed in. The three girls were sitting cosily in one end of the broad
piazza, Edna lying back in a bamboo steamer chair, reading, Eunice in
the hammock, while Cricket, at the table, with both feet curled up on
the round of her chair, worked industriously.

"What did we forget?" asked Edna, languidly.

"We forgot to choose names for ourselves, as Jo and the rest did. I
don't want to sign just plain Edna Somers to your piece."

"I'm sure I don't want you to," said Edna, with sudden energy. "I just
hate my name. I wish mamma hadn't named me till I could choose for
myself."

"What a good idea!" said Eunice, admiringly. "I never thought of that.
What name would you choose?"

"Hildegarde Genevieve," answered Edna, promptly. "Those are my favourite
names. And I wish my last name was Montague."

"Hildegarde Genevieve Montague! That's a beautiful name!" exclaimed
Cricket. "Have that for your club name, Edna. Now you choose, Eunice."

"Let me see!" considered Eunice. "I think Esmeralda is just splendid,
and I _love_ Muriel. Esmeralda Muriel would do."

"And have Le Grand for your last name," begged Cricket. "I think
anything with a _Le_ in it is so--so stately. But Muriel is one of my
favourite names, too, Eunice. What shall I choose? Do you like Seretta?"

"That isn't a real name, is it," asked Edna.

"I made it up the other night, and I think it's sweet. I'll be Seretta
Carlillian. I made that up, too. So that's settled," said Cricket,
resuming her work, and signing, "Hildegarde Genevieve Montague," very
carefully.

The rest of the family had, of course, noticed the sudden literary bent
of these young women, and were all curiosity to know the reason of it.
The boys gave them no peace, and though the girls stuck to their secret
valiantly, Will and Archie managed to worm it from them at last. To the
relief of the girls, however, they did not tease, but, on the contrary,
quite approved, and even offered to contribute, an offer which the small
editor would not accept unconditionally.

"You may write things," she said, rather dubiously, "and _if_ I like
them I'll print them. But I'm not going to put in any nonsense. This is
a really-truly paper, and the girls have written beautiful stories."

She was sole judge of the production, however, for the other girls had
agreed that it would be more fun if nobody but the editor knew the
contents of the paper till it was read. It proved to be a great deal of
work to copy all the paper neatly in printing letters, but Cricket stuck
to it faithfully. Auntie advised that she should work regularly, one
hour in the morning, and one hour in the afternoon, till she got it
done, and Cricket, who, at first, felt obliged to work at it all the
morning, very willingly followed her suggestion. Auntie had also
undertaken to advance the money for the badges, which a little local
watchmaker had promised to have done before Wednesday. He kept his
promise, and three prouder little girls never walked than these three,
when they fastened on these round, shining pins, with "E. C."
embroidered on them, as Cricket said.

Would my little readers like a glimpse of this "really-truly" paper of
"really-truly" little girls?

Well, then, the club meeting was held, by common consent, on the piazza,
instead of in "Rocky Nook," for the boys insisted on being present, and
Auntie Jean hinted that an invitation to herself and grandma would be
much appreciated.

"You mustn't anybody laugh," said Eunice, finally, in some trepidation.

"We'll be as sober as--crocodiles," promised Will, "and I don't know
anything more serious than a crocodile."

So, when the audience was duly assembled on the piazza, the "Echo Club"
marched out of the house, headed by President Eunice, the secretary and
treasurer following, while the editor, all in a flutter, carrying the
precious paper laid flat in an atlas, brought up the rear. The president
sat down, gravely, in a big chair reserved for her, while the secretary
took a seat by her side, though she cast a longing look at the hammock,
which was regarded as undignified. The editor, vainly trying to control
her smiles and restrain her dimples, stood behind the table, and began.

"I copied the top part of it from a real newspaper, auntie," she said,
opening the sheet. "Now, boys, remember, if you laugh the least bit,
I'll stop. And, oh, auntie, I forgot to say that the boys wrote some of
the atoms."

"Atoms?" repeated Auntie Jean, puzzled.

"_Atoms!_ Miss Scricket, oh, ho!" called Archie; then, recollecting
himself just in time, he clapped his hands over his mouth.

"That's what you said they were, I thought," said Cricket, anxiously.
"Don't you know, auntie, those little things that come between the
stories, and all that? General atoms. I have written it down."

"Items, dear," said auntie, soberly.

"Items--atoms," repeated Cricket, thoughtfully, comparing the sounds.
"Yes, of course. How silly of me. I'll change it right away. Well, the
boys wrote most of them, anyway. Now, I'm all ready," and Cricket
cleared her throat, and began.


                            The Echo.

                  SERELLA CARLILLIAN, _Editor_.

    NO. 1.   _Marbury, Wednesday, July 15th, 18--._   VOL. I.


    DELL'S COMPOSITION.

    "Oh, dear!" sighed Dell Ripley, "next Friday is Composition Day,
    and I've got to write a composition. What subject shall I take,
    mamma?"

    "Are there not any subjects in your school composition-book?"
    asked Mrs. Ripley, a pleasant looking lady of apparently
    thirty-five.

    "Yes'm, but not any I want. Oh, it seems to me that I saw a book
    up-stairs in the garret with something about compositions in
    it," and, shaking back her floating curls, the little girl
    bounded from the room. She ran up the garret stairs, and then
    began to look for the book. At last she found it, and eagerly
    opened it, and, as she opened it, a paper fluttered to the
    floor.

    She picked it up, and saw the name "Amy Willard" on it. "Why,"
    she thought, "it's something of Aunt Amy's," and she read it. It
    was a composition.

    "Joan of Arc," cried Dell, "splendid subject, and splendid
    composition. I wish I could write one as nice."

    "Why not take this one?" asked the tempter. Then there was a
    very long struggle in Dell's heart, but the tempter conquered,
    and Dell carried the composition down to her own room to copy
    it. When she had finished it, she read it over, trying to think
    that it sounded just like any of her own, and that no one would
    ever know it.

    "It sounds just like mine," she said, trying to get rid of that
    uneasy feeling. "I guess I'll just change this sentence and that
    one."

    "Have you written your composition, dear?" asked Mrs. Ripley,
    pleasantly, as Dell came slowly down-stairs, and out on the
    piazza.

    "Yes'm," answered Dell, very low.

    "You look tired, dear."

    "I am."

    "What shall I do if I am found out?" thought Dell.

    When she went to bed that night she was very unhappy. Her
    conscience troubled her very much. She wished she had never
    found the composition, and almost made up her mind to confess,
    but, alas, only almost.

    She turned and tossed till nearly ten o'clock, and then fell
    asleep, and dreamed that, just as she was reading the
    composition before the school, her Aunt Amy appeared, and
    claimed it as her own, thus showing her niece's wickedness. She
    awoke with a scream that brought her mother to her bedside.
    Dell's first thought was to tell her mother all, and, without
    waiting a moment, she confessed her sin.

    After that, Dell's compositions were her own.

    ESMERALDA MURIEL LE GRAND.

           *       *       *       *       *

    POLLY'S NECKLACE.

    "Oh, mamma," exclaimed little Polly More. "To-morrow is my
    birthday, and what are you going to give me for a present?"

    "What do you want?" asked Mrs. More.

    "I should like a necklace of some sort. Oh, papa," bounding
    toward her father, "are you going to give me something?"

    "What would you like me to give you?"

    "Oh, anything," said Polly.

    So the next morning, Polly found by her bedside, when she woke
    up, a pretty little coral necklace, and a red purse with
    seventy-five cents in it, and a penknife.

    Three or four weeks after, Polly went to visit her uncle, who
    lived in the country. He was a farmer, and it was haying time,
    and he was getting in the new hay, and Polly liked to play in
    the hay with her cousin May. One day, as they were playing
    there, her coral necklace came unclasped and fell into the hay.
    She hunted a long time, but could not find it.

    Polly went home the next week sorrowing, but the next spring,
    when the cows had eaten up all the hay, the news came that May
    had found the necklace, and Polly was happy again.

    HILDEGARDE GENEVIEVE MONTAGUE.

           *       *       *       *       *

    POETRY.

    TO MY MOTHER.

    (_A Lament._)

    Oh, mother dear, why hast thou gone,
    And left thy Cricket all alone?
    The tears flow often from my eye,
    And oft, indeed, I almost cry.

    Should danger chance to come to thee,
    While thou are sailing on the sea,
    With sorrow would our hearts be torn,
    And we would be here all forlorn.

    Perhaps thou may fall from the deck,
    Before papa thy fall could check,
    Perhaps they could not rescue thee,
    And then, alas! what grief to me.

    Of course papa might pull thee out,
    Or else some burly sailor, stout.
    Oh, dear mamma! I pray thee, strive
    To keep thyself, for us alive!

    And dear papa, we miss him, too,
    Almost as much as we do you.
    We long to see his dear old face,
    And fold him in our close embrace.

    And Marjorie and Donald, too,
    We miss you all, but mostly you.
    Oh, hurry and grow very strong,
    That we may have you back ere long.

    SERETTA CARLILLIAN.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Miss Zaidee and Miss Helen Ward have decided that they will
    patronize the ocean hereafter for their daily bath, rather than
    the tanks in the cheese factory.

       *       *       *       *       *

    A SAD ACCIDENT.

    The other day our editor, and one of the valuable contributors
    to this paper, were seated on two posts, playing the manly game
    of bean-bag. The bag was coming to the editor, but somehow, when
    he grabbed for it, it fell on the ground. Our editor immediately
    sprang after it, but, in doing so, his dress caught on the post,
    and he hung up there. He was rescued by Miss Le G. He is now
    doing well.

       *       *       *       *       *

    POOR PATTY.

    Little Patty looked very poor indeed. She sat on a rough stone
    that was used as a door-step, with her head resting on her hand.
    Her beautiful golden curls fell way below her waist, over her
    white neck and shoulders, which her ragged dress did not hide.

    Patty had been stolen by gypsies three years before, when she
    was seven years old. She was very pretty, and because of that
    the gypsies had stolen her to sell. One night she ran away from
    the gypsies, and during the day she wandered on till she came to
    a large town. When it was night again, she was tired and hungry,
    and she sat down on a door-step and fell fast asleep, and here
    she was found by Mrs. Bruce, who took her home, thinking she
    could make her useful in running errands.

    So Patty was sitting on the door-step when a rough voice called
    from inside the house, "Be off with you, you lazy thing! Didn't
    I tell you an hour ago to be off for the milk? Be off with you,
    I say."

    Poor Patty got off rather slowly, for she didn't feel well, and
    ran down the street and didn't stop till she got to the store.
    But coming home she didn't run so fast, for her head ached, and
    when she got home Nan Bruce scolded her. In a few minutes Patty
    went up-stairs to her poor garret, where she slept, and threw
    herself upon the bed, and cried herself to sleep. When she woke
    up she had a high fever, and in a short time she was delirious.
    Nan was much alarmed, and sent for the doctor, who said she had
    scarlet fever, and he got a good nurse for her. For three months
    no one expected she would recover, but after that she began to
    get well.

    One morning, when she was nearly well, she said suddenly to the
    doctor, "Doctor, it seems to me as if I had seen you before."

    "You have, I guess," said the doctor, laughing. "I have been
    here every day for three months."

    "I don't mean that," said Patty, "but I feel as if I had seen
    you before those people took me off."

    "How old were you when they took you off?" asked the doctor, who
    knew she had been stolen.

    "I think I was seven, for it was on the very day after my
    birthday, I remember."

    "Why, _I_ had a little girl that was stolen the very day after
    she was seven years old," said the doctor. "She was carried off
    by gypsies."

    "Why, the gypsies were the very people that carried me off,
    too."

    "Patty, would you like to go and live with me?" asked the
    doctor.

    "Oh, yes, I would. Perhaps I am your little girl, for I am not
    _hers_."

    "Perhaps so. I will see if I can find out about it." The doctor
    asked Nan Bruce, and she told him all she knew. He then made
    arrangements to take Patty home with him, for he knew now she
    was his own little girl. So Patty went to live with the doctor,
    and she had lovely dresses of porcelain to wear, and a servant
    to stand _in statu quo_ behind her chair at dinner.

    SERETTA CARLILLIAN.

       *       *       *       *       *

    MARRIAGES.

    Hopvine--Woodbine. On the 21st, Mr. Hopvine, to Miss Woodbine,
    both of Marbury. No cards.

    DEATHS.

    On the first of June, little Robin, only child of Mr. and Mrs.
    Redbreast, aged two months, four days, and three hours.

        Little Robin, thou hast left us,
           We shall hear thy chirp no more;
        Very lonely hast thou left us,
           And our hearts are very sore.

    On the 7th of June, two little kittens, in the barn of Mrs.
    Maxwell. We grieve greatly at recording the deaths of these
    loving and lovely twins, so sad and unexpected. They had a large
    circle of admirers and friends, who feel greatly overcome that
    these beautiful young twins are called away.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Also, Wallops, older brother of the above, departed this life on
    June 10th. He was found dead on the seashore.

              Poor little Wallops,
              Died of eating scallops.
        (He really ate crabs, but crabs wouldn't rhyme.)
              We'll see him frisk no more,
              For we found him on the shore,
        All stiff and cold, expiring in his prime.

       *       *       *       *       *

    TOWN TOPICS.

    Miss Cricket Ward has decided to sell out her peanut stand at
    cost.

    Mr. Will and Archie Somers have cleaned the _Gentle Jane_, and
    they are now prepared to take out parties at reasonable rates.
    Come early and often.

    Mr. Kenneth Ward has nearly recovered from a serious wound he
    received when he was eloping with his aunt's watch. The path of
    the transgressor is hard. It was the stones in this case.

    Miss Hilda Mason, of East Wellsboro', is expected soon to spend
    a week with her friend, the editor.

       *       *       *       *       *

    WIT AND HUMOUR.

    ["None of the wits are original, auntie," put in Cricket, here.
    "The boys sent some of them in, and they _said_ they were, but I
    don't believe them, and I copied mine, anyway."]

    How to get along in the world. Walk.

    A little girl visiting the country for the first time, saw a man
    milking. After looking a few minutes, she asked, "Where do they
    put it in?"

    When is a man thinner than a shingle? When he's a-shaving.

    What was the first carriage Washington ever rode in? When he
    took a _hack_ at the little cherry-tree.

    What did Lot do when his wife became a pillar of salt? He got a
    fresh one.

    "Mike," asked a man, addressing a bow-legged friend, "are them
    legs of yourn natural or artificial?" "Artificial, me lad. I
    went up in a balloon, and walked back."

       *       *       *       *       *

    GENERAL ITEMS.

    Letters were received from Dr. Ward and family, that they are
    enjoying themselves in the Swiss mountains. Mamma is better. She
    says they have such funny little boys there.

    Mr. Billy Ruggles is going to have a new shiny hat. Kenneth sat
    down on his other one, and it got all flattened out, and it
    looks like fury, and grandma says he can't wear it any more.

    Bridget has a new dishpan.

    Luke says he has forty-eight chickens.

    Maggie Sampson's little donkey can't go nearly as fast as Mopsie
    and Charcoal Ward.

    Mr. Simon has his summer stock of fresh red and white
    peppermints in. He won't have any chocolates till August,
    because he bought such a large stock in May.

    There is to be a church sociable in the Methodist church. I wish
    auntie would condescend to let us go, for we haven't ever been
    to a Methodist sociable. I never went to any kind of a sociable.

    Miss Hildegarde Genevieve Montague wishes to say that, if she
    was a boy, she doesn't think it would be any fun to cut up
    pieces of whalebones, and put them under the sheet in his
    sister's bed.

    There will be a special and _very_ private meeting of the E. C.
    in some _very_ secret place, to decide whether we will let the
    boys be honorary members or not. If they are elected honorary
    members, we will turn them out any time that they don't behave
    themselves very well indeed.

                            * * * * * * * *
                            *    FAME.    *
                            * * * * * * * *

                            THE END--FINIS.

The tail-piece was Cricket's ambitious flight of fancy. She drew a long
breath and sat down, amid vigorous applause.

"That's very creditable, my little authorlings," said auntie,
encouragingly. "Cricket, you did more than your share, I think, if you
copied all that, and wrote a story and a poem beside."

"I had them all thought before, auntie. I made up the poetry the day I
was caught on the mud-flat. I love to think out stories."

"Oh-h!" groaned Edna. "How any one can think out stories just for fun, I
_don't_ see. I'd almost rather fight skeeters. Mine's the stupidest
story that ever was, but I don't believe I slept a wink for three
nights, while I was making it up. You don't catch me writing any
stories, girls, when I am editor."

"I am afraid you weren't intended for an author, my dear," said her
mother, laughing.

"Somebody must _read_ the stories," said Edna, defensively.



CHAPTER XII.

THE HAIRS OF HIS HEAD.


The Maxwell family were coming home from church along the sandy, sunny
road. Eunice and Edna, arm in arm, were ahead, laughing and talking over
some profound secret. Will and Archie mimicked them behind, while
grandmamma and Auntie Jean, under a generous black sun-umbrella,
strolled slowly along some distance in the rear. Cricket, in the misery
of a dainty organdie, which she _must_ keep clean for another Sunday,
and with the unhappy consciousness of her Sunday hat of wide, white
Leghorn, which, with its weight of pink roses, flopped uncomfortably
about her ears, walked along by herself, in an unusually meditative
frame of mind. She refused, with dignity, the boys' proposal to walk
with them, and told the girls it was too hot to go three abreast.

Presently, down a cross street, she spied a familiar figure, tall and
bent, with a head of bristling hair, and a high silk hat,--it was Billy,
and she instantly ran to meet him. Billy could never be induced to
attend the little Episcopal chapel where Mrs. Maxwell went, but
"favoured his own meetin'-'us," he said, which was the little white
Unitarian church by the post-office.

"Folks didn't set easy in Mrs. Maxwell's church," he often said, "and he
didn't like to see a minister in a white petticoat, with a black ribbund
around his neck." It didn't seem respectful to him to have so much to do
with the service. But Billy was very devout in his own way, and never
missed service nor Wednesday evening prayer-meeting in his own church.

"H'lo, Billy!" cried Cricket, beaming. "Don't you want to carry my
prayer-book? I want to get those wild roses."

Billy was only too delighted.

"Had a good sermon?" pursued Cricket, in very grown-up fashion, as they
walked along, side by side, after the roses were secured.

"Oh, very decent, very decent," answered Billy, who always nodded from
the text to "Finally."

"What was it about?" went on Cricket, feeling that she must give a
Sunday tone to the conversation.

Billy took off his hat and scratched his head, to assist his ideas.

"'Bout--'bout very good things," he said, vaguely. "We sang a pretty
hymn, too."

"Did you? What was it?"

"That hymn about 'Hand Around the Wash-rag.' I've heard you a-singin'
it."

"Hand around the _wash_-rag! Why Billy Ruggles, what can you mean?"

"Yes," insisted Billy, who had a good ear for music in his poor, cracked
head. "You was singin' it las' night."

"I can't imagine what you mean, Billy. When we were on the piazza, do
you mean? We didn't sing anything about wash-rags, I'm sure. We didn't
sing but three things, anyway, because grandma had a headache."

"It was the first thing you sang," persisted Billy.

"Oh--h! 'Rally Round the Watchword,'" and Cricket, regardless of her
Sunday finery, sat down on a stone to laugh. "You _funny_ Billy!"

Billy grinned, though he did not see the joke.

"That's as bad as what Helen insisted they sang last Christmas, in the
infant class, something about 'Christmas soda's on the breeze!' I don't
know what she means," said Cricket, forgetting that Billy would not
understand. It was such a relief when any one else, even old Billy,
mispronounced words, and thus gave her a chance to laugh at them. It was
her heedlessness that made her make so many mistakes, for her quick eyes
flashed along the page, taking in the meaning and general form of the
words, without grasping the exact spelling.

"Hope you heard a good sermon," said Billy, making conversation in his
turn.

"Oh, _yes_, very. I listened to almost all of it. Mr. Clark said
something about something being as many as the hairs of your head, and
there was a bald-headed man who sat right in front of us, and he only
had the teentiest bit of hair, just like a little lambrequin around his
head. So I thought I could easily count his hairs, because they were so
straight and so long, and so few of them, anyway. And, Billy, do you
know, I got so interested that I began to count right out loud once, and
I stood up, right there in church, Billy, while the minister was
preaching, to see round his head better, and Eunice pulled me down. I
was _so_ ashamed."

Billy looked so shocked that Cricket hastened to add:

"There weren't very many people who saw me, though, for we sat pretty
far back. I _did_ listen to the sermon after that, though. I had only
counted up to two hundred. I just wonder how many hairs a person has on
his head, anyway. I mean a person with the regular amount."

"Three hundred?" hazarded Billy, hazily.

"No, indeed; more than that. Many as a thousand, I guess. Oh, Billy, you
have a splendid lot of hair! S'pose I count it this afternoon?"

Billy chuckled assent.

"Let's go out in the orchard, back of the beach. It's all quiet and
shady there. The girls will be down by the rocks, and the boys are going
for a long walk. So there will be nobody to interrupt us. It will take
most all the afternoon, I guess, but I've always wanted to know how many
hairs grow on a person's head. I'll come for you after dinner, Billy,
don't forget!" and, having arrived at the house, Cricket skipped up the
porch steps, and went up-stairs to relieve herself of the bondage of her
pink organdie as soon as possible.

After dinner, Cricket found her willing slave waiting for her on the
piazza.

"Let's go right off before the others come out, for we don't want a
whole raft of children after us," she said, and so they went around the
house, through the side gate, into the orchard.

"Here's a lovely, shady spot. You sit right down on this hummock,
Billy," ordered Cricket. "Your hair is just _fine_ for counting," she
went on, taking off Billy's shining beaver.

Billy looked much flattered. He certainly did have a good crop for the
purpose. His hair was rather coarse, very wiry and bristling, about two
inches long, and as clean as a daily scrubbing in soap and water could
make it.

"Now, where shall I begin? You see you haven't any part, Billy, and
there's no place to start from."

"Seem's if my hair wouldn't stay parted," said Billy, meekly, looking
troubled by the fact.

"I'll part it right in the middle, and you put your hand up and hold
this side down, while I count the other. I'll begin right in front.
One--two--three--there, Billy, you moved your hand a little, and some of
your hair slipped right up again, and I've lost my place."

"I didn't go to do it," said Billy, pressing his hand down harder on
the rebellious hairs. "Is that all right now?"

"Yes, that will do. Now, hold still," and Cricket began again.

"Ninety-nine--one hundred--oh, _Billy_!" for an inquiring wasp came
whizzing near, and Billy ducked suddenly to avoid it. "Now I've lost
that, and I've got to begin again. Billy, you haven't any string in your
pocket, have you? Then I could tie up your hair in bunches when I get to
one hundred, and count the bunches afterward."

But Billy hadn't a string.

"I'll run up to the house and get some," said Cricket, darting away. She
was back in a few minutes, with a small pasteboard box in her hand.

"This is better than string," she panted. "I got auntie's little box of
rubber bands. Now we can count. Never mind holding your hand up, for I
can begin anywhere."

She gathered up a lock of hair, counted to one hundred, and twisted an
elastic band around it, close to the roots.

"That's one hundred. Now, for the next," she said, with much
satisfaction. She counted on, industriously, and soon poor Billy's head
bristled with queer-looking little bunches on one side. She was much too
engrossed to notice the effect at first.

Some time later, grandmamma and Auntie Jean, strolling leisurely through
the orchard, saw ahead of them a funny sight: Billy, sitting meekly on a
hummock, his hands on his black broadcloth knees, while Cricket stood
behind him, bending over his head, all over the top of which bristled
plumy bunches of white hair, which stood up rampantly.

"What in the world is that child doing, making Billy look like a
porcupine?" exclaimed grandma, standing still in amazement, unseen by
the two.

"Playing Horned Lady, I should think. But I dare say she has purpose in
her mind. Listen. Why, mother! she's actually counting Billy's hair!"

At this moment, Cricket, pausing to snap another elastic band around the
last bunch, for the first time noticed the effect of her hair dressing.

"Oh, Billy! if you don't look just as if you had a lot of little feather
dusters growing on your head!" she cried, holding on to her sides as
she laughed.

Billy looked disturbed. He decidedly objected to being laughed at. He
put up his hand to feel.

"Don't take them down," said Cricket, pushing his hand away. "I'm going
on. My! what a lot of hair people have. Let's see how many bunches I
have. Twenty-two--twenty-three. That makes twenty-three hundred, and
there's lots more to do, yet. I don't wonder people mean so much when
they say, as many as the hairs of your head, do you?"

"How many, Cricket?" asked auntie, laughing, as she and grandma drew
nearer.

"Who's that? Oh, auntie!" Cricket looked a little abashed. "I'm only
counting Billy's hair," she explained. "Mr. Clark said this morning
that, if we counted our mercies, we should find them as many as the
hairs of our heads."

"It might be easier to count the mercies," said auntie, still laughing.

"Yes, I thought of that coming home from church," said Cricket, going on
with her work of gathering up wisps of Billy's hair into plumes, and
fastening them by the bands, though without counting. "Then I didn't
know exactly what my mercies are, excepting that 'Liza says it is a
mercy I'm not twins."

"What had you been doing when she said that, Jean?" immediately asked
grandma, who never used her nickname.

"Nothing, much," said Cricket, "only 'Liza gets cranky sometimes, you
know."

"That won't do, Cricket," said Auntie Jean, scenting mischief. "Tell me
what you did."

"Really, it wasn't much. It was this morning, and 'Liza had Helen in the
bath-tub bathing her, and I went into the nursery a moment, and Zaidee
was in bed, and she said her leg hurt her, and 'Liza was going to rub it
with 'Pond's Extrap,'--that's what she calls Pond's Extract, you know,"
taking breath,--"and I only meant to help 'Liza, really and truly. So I
took down the bottle and began to rub Zaidee's legs. I thought the
Pond's Extract seemed to have gotten dreadfully sticky, and it was all
thick and dark like molasses, and I could hardly rub at all with it, and
Zaidee said she didn't like it, and she cried. But I thought it was the
best thing to do for her, so I told her a story to keep her quiet, till
I got both her legs all rubbed. Then 'Liza came in, and wanted to know
what made Zaidee's legs so sticky, and the sheets and her nightdress
were pretty bad, because she wiggled so that I spilled some. 'Liza just
snatched the bottle away, very unpolitely, when I only told her that I
had been helping her because she was so busy, and Zaidee wanted her legs
rubbed. 'It's Kemp's Balsam,' she said, 'and I'm giving it to Helen for
her cough, and it's not Pond's Extract, at all.' But it _was_ a Pond's
Extract bottle, auntie, truly, so how should I know? And then she said,
'it was a mercy I wasn't twins,'" finished Cricket, looking much
aggrieved.

Auntie laughed till the tears came into her eyes.

"Kemp's Balsam, of all sticky things!" she said. "Poor Zaidee! did she
have to be scraped?"

"'Liza said she guessed she would have to scrape her," admitted Cricket,
reluctantly. "And the things on the bed, and her nightdress, had to be
changed. I kept thinking it was pretty funny looking stuff for Pond's
Extract, but I thought perhaps it was rancid."

"Rancid Pond's Extract! Oh, what a girl!" laughed grandma, but patting
her head, consolingly, "Our little Jean is very nice, but I think I'm
glad, myself, you're not twins."

"There'd be two of us to fall through ceilings, then," meditated
Cricket, "for I suppose if I was twins we'd be always together like
Zaidee and Helen. No, I'm glad there is only one of me. It's more
convenient. I don't want to count any more, now, Billy, but would you
mind keeping your hair that way for a day or two, so I could count
whenever I like?"

And if auntie had not interposed in his behalf, I do not know but Billy
might still be walking the streets of Marbury with his crested
decoration.



CHAPTER XIII.

A WRESTLING MATCH.


"That's it! Prime! Now, again!" shouted Will, encouragingly, and
Cricket, in her blue gymnasium suit, panting and laughing, put her
shoulder to Archie's again, and stood in position. Will was giving her a
lesson in wrestling, at her particular request, and she was proving an
apt pupil, for the slender, elastic little figure and supple muscles
made up for any lack of strength.

"Good, good!" repeated Will, as Cricket, swaying and tugging, and
bending backward almost double, came up like a steel wire. "Bravo! we'll
soon have you champion lady wrestler in a dime museum. At him again!
good enough! hurray!" for Cricket, slipping through Archie's grasp like
a knotless thread, took him suddenly unawares, and fairly and squarely
tripped him up.

"By jove!" ejaculated Archie, still on his back, too much surprised to
get up.

"Well done, Miss Scricket!" applauded Will. "Bet you can't do it again."

"Come over here, and I'll try _you_," offered Cricket, and Will,
laughingly, put his arm around her waist. But his superior size and
strength soon told, and Cricket found herself down on her back.

"But you do well, youngster," said Will, patronizingly. "Try that twist
once more that you tripped Archie up on. That's a good one! Now, again!
That would fetch anybody if they weren't expecting it."

"I'm tired now," said Cricket, throwing herself on the grass, for they
were in the orchard. "Let's rest awhile." She clasped her hands above
her head, and lay back on the grass. Archie drew himself up on to one of
the low gnarled trees and balanced himself in a very precarious way
directly over her head.

"If you fall off that limb, you will come straight down and break my
nose," warned Cricket.

"There isn't enough of it to break, miss," said Archie, balancing
himself with care, as he tried to see if he could kneel upon a
horizontal branch without holding on.

"You'll have to be of a very _equilibrious_ nature to do that," said
Cricket, rolling hastily out of her dangerous position, just in time,
for Archie overbalanced himself, and came down with a crash.

"Now, see what you've done," said Archie, sitting up and feeling of his
back. "You spoke at the wrong time. I might have broken my neck."

Cricket meditated a moment, then addressed the sky, thoughtfully.

"Isn't it funny that when anything happens to a boy all by his own
fault, he always says to somebody, 'See what you've made me do.' Anybody
would think _I'd_ made Archie fall there."

"Well, didn't you?"

"When Donald can't find anything that he's gone and lost himself," went
on Cricket, still addressing the sky, "he always says he wishes the
girls would let his things alone. Boys are the _funniest_."

"If they're any funnier than girls, I'll eat my boots," said Archie,
firing green apples at a mark. "Girls are so finicky. There's Edna,
squeals if you touch her. If I give her hair just one little yank, you
would think I'd pulled her scalp off. If I give Will a good
punch"--illustrating with a resounding whack--"he doesn't squeal."

"No, but he hits back," said Cricket, laughing, as Will levelled Archie,
by a vigorous thump. "If Edna should hit you a few times like that, you
wouldn't tease her so."

"And she's always so careful of her clothes," went on Archie, ignoring
this point; "can't do this, because she'll spoil her apron, can't do
that, because she'll muss her hair."

"Boys ar'n't talked to about their clothes as girls are," said Cricket,
with a sigh. "If you just heard 'Liza talk when we tear our clothes! She
has to mend them. Wouldn't I be happy if I could go around all the time
in my gymnasium suit. I feel _so_ light and airy."

"And girls are so affected," pursued Archie. "You wouldn't walk with us
yesterday coming home from church, and why not? 'Cause you had your best
bonnet on, and you carried your head too high. _So_ affected!"

"It wasn't affectedness, it was got-to-do-it-ness," said Cricket,
stoutly. "If you had to go to church with a great, big, flappy, floppy
hat on, that joggled your ears all the time, 'cause the roses were so
heavy, and if you had to be careful to keep your pink organdie clean
for next Sunday, and if you had a teasy cousin, who, likely as not,
would take hold of your arm, and crunch your sleeves all down, most
probably you'd have walked all by yourself, too, and tried to keep
yourself respectable so 'Liza wouldn't scold. But you're a boy,"
finished Cricket, with a burst of envy, "and so you don't bother about
clothes. And, anyway, boys will never admit they're to blame about
anything," returning suddenly to the original charge.

"Because they never are, of course," answered Archie, turning a back
somersault. "It's always somebody else's fault."

"Did you hear auntie tell that funny story about Archie, last night,
Will?" asked Cricket.

"Funny story about me, miss? There never was any funny story about me."

"This was a little bit funny, anyway. Auntie said you weren't but three
years old, and she was visiting with you, at Kayuna. It was early one
morning, before breakfast, and the piazza had just been washed up, and
wasn't dry yet. Papa was reading a newspaper, and you were running up
and down the piazza, showing off."

"Showing off!" repeated Archie, with a sniff of disdain.

"Yes, sir, showing off. Auntie said so. She said you always liked to,
even then. Stop firing apples at me. You nearly hit me that time. You
stood still just in front of papa, and gave a little kick at him, and
your foot slipped, and down you went on your back. And you got up, as
angry as could be, and you said, 'Now see what you made me do,' and you
gave another kick at him, and down you went again. Then auntie said you
screamed out, 'Now you've done it again. You've done it again.' And she
says that ever since, you always say that, no matter what happens to
you."

"There comes grandma," said Archie, changing the subject, immediately,
since he knew by long experience that Cricket was apt to get the best of
him, in such conversations.

"She's been to see that sick woman," said Cricket, jumping up and
running to meet her. She had the most unbounded admiration for her
stately, handsome grandmother, who by some strange attraction of
opposites, had an especially soft place in her heart for her hoydenish
little namesake.

Grandmother Maxwell was by no means an old lady yet, in spite of her
flock of grandchildren, for she was only just sixty, and was as erect
and vigorous, in spite of her snow-white hair, as a girl. Beauty-loving
little Cricket thought her dead perfection, and adored her.

"What a hot little face," said grandmother, lightly touching Cricket's
cheek. Cricket put her arm about her grandmother's waist, which she was
just tall enough to do, and walked along beside her.

"The boys have been teaching me to wrestle," she explained. "I'm
learning fast, grandma. It's just as easy. Get up, Archie, and let me
show grandma how I can throw you."

"Throw me! well, I like that. I happened to stumble on a stone, grandma,
and Cricket thinks she threw me. She couldn't do it again to save her
life."

"Come and try, then," said Cricket, invitingly. But Archie declined, on
the plea of its being too hot.

"Isn't he lazy, grandma?" said Cricket, disdainfully. "But I can show
you, grandma, how we do it. Put your arm around me this way, and take
hold of my hand. Now then, see. I try to get my foot around your ankle,
quickly, and give a little jerk, and pull this way--"

And to the unbounded astonishment of all three, stately grandma suddenly
and unexpectedly measured her length on the grass, with Cricket on top
of her. Cricket's illustration had been altogether too graphic.

"Jean!" gasped grandma, as she went over. Cricket rolled over and sprang
to her feet in a flash.

"Oh, grandma! please excuse me! I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to. I never
thought I could do it so quickly, for you're so large. I only meant to
show you."

Will and Archie were bending over grandma, to help her rise. Her foot
was twisted under her.

"Wait, boys," she said. "I'm lying on my foot."

It is not easy for a large person who is lying on her back, with her
foot doubled up under her, to find her centre of gravity. It was several
minutes before she could be helped to a sitting position. She was very
pale, although she laughed.

"Children, I'm really afraid,--Jean, you absurd child! how did you
throw me over so quickly? I really _am_ afraid that my ankle is
sprained. I don't think I can step on it. See if you can help me to
stand, boys, and I'll try it."

"Oh, grandma!" groaned Cricket, in horror. "Have I sprained your ankle?"

"It probably isn't bad, dear," said grandma, quickly. "At any rate, you
didn't mean to--Hush, Archie!" as that young man gave Cricket a
reproachful--

"Now you _have_ done it!"

Will and Archie, being stout, well-grown boys, easily raised grandma to
her feet, or, to her foot, rather, for she immediately found she could
not bear her weight on her left ankle, and she sat down rather suddenly
again.

"Dear me! this is a dignified position for a grandmother," she said.
"Never mind, dear. It was only an accident. Take off my shoe, please,
for my foot is swelling, I think. Archie, go for Luke, and tell him to
bring a piazza-chair, and I think you can manage to carry me in on that,
can't you? Then tell Auntie Jean that I'm here, and have sprained my
ankle, and tell her to have some arnica and bandages ready when I get
there. Why, _don't_ cry, darling," as two big tears welled up in
Cricket's gray eyes, and splashed over her cheeks, where her dimples
were entirely out of sight, at the dreadful thought that she had
sprained grandma's ankle.

In a few moments Auntie Jean came flying across the orchard, bandages
and arnica in hand, while the waitress came after with a water-pitcher.

"_Mother!_" said Mrs. Somers, in greatest surprise. "How did you manage
to fall and sprain your ankle on this perfectly level ground?"

"It's rather humiliating to confess that I was wrestling with my
granddaughter, and that she got the best of me," returned grandma,
patting Cricket's hand. "It's my first and last pugilistic performance."

"It's my fault," burst out Cricket, "and I ought to be put in jail. Will
had been showing me how to wrestle, and he had taught me such a good
twist, that I caught Archie on, and I thought I'd just show
grandma--just barely show her, auntie, and I put my foot around her
ankle, and somehow, she went right over like ninepins, and doubled up
her foot. Oh, grandma! can you ever walk again?"

Grandma's lips were getting rather white with pain from her foot, but
she laughed again, and said, brightly:

"Yes, indeed, little maid, I will be all right in a week or two."

"A week!" groaned Cricket. "I thought you were going to say to-morrow."

Auntie Jean had slipped off grandma's stocking, and was bathing her
rapidly swelling foot with arnica. In a few minutes, Will, and Archie,
and Luke appeared, bringing a piazza-chair, and two stout poles. Auntie
Jean bandaged the foot temporarily, and then Luke and Will helped
grandma up in the chair. They slipped the poles lengthwise under the
chair, and Luke stood ready to lift the front ends as Will and Archie
took the rear ones.

"Wait a moment," said Aunt Jean, as the procession was ready to start.
"Can't I fix a support for your foot, mother? It will hurt it dreadfully
to hang it down."

"Put a stick across the poles, and the cushion on it," suggested
Cricket, quickly, "and lay her foot on that." She picked up a stout
stick, and laid it in place, while Archie put the cushion on it, and
adjusted grandma's foot on it.

"That's a capital suggestion," said grandma, approvingly. "That feels
very comfortable. Are you sure you can lift me, boys?"

"Could carry a ton this way, Mrs. Maxwell," said Luke. "All ready, boys.
Hist all together, now." And as they all "histed" the procession moved.
Auntie Jean and Cricket walked on either side, keeping the cushion and
stick in place. So grandma finally arrived, was helped up the piazza
steps, and into her own room, which was, fortunately, on the first
floor.



CHAPTER XIV.

PLAYING NURSE.


Poor Cricket went around with a face as long as her arm, all the rest of
the day, dreadfully cast down by this unfortunate result of her
wrestling lessons. For a while, she was almost ready to vow that she
would never do anything again that the boys did, but when she thought of
all the lovely things this would cut her off from, she couldn't make up
her mind to go that length.

[Illustration: "SHE BURIED HERSELF IN THE STORY FOR 'THE ECHO'"]

Auntie Jean soon assured her that the sprain was not at all serious, and
that the inflammation seemed to be going down already, but her heart was
very heavy. She would not go sailing with the boys, nor sit under the
rocks with the girls, and at last she buried herself in her next story
for the _Echo_. A very tragic and mournful tale it was, of a naughty
little girl, who was left in charge of her small brother, but who ran
away, all by herself, up garret, to play, and when she went back she
found her poor little baby brother had fallen into the bath-tub, which
was left half full of water, and was drowned. Picturing the remorse
of her heroine, and how they finally brought the baby back to life,
although he had been in the water all the afternoon,--of course Cricket
did not mind a little thing like that,--somewhat relieved her mind. By
supper-time she had sufficiently recovered so that she could allow
herself to smile.

Will came in from the post-office, waving a letter that finished the
work. It was from Hilda Mason, saying that she could come on Friday
next, as Cricket, with auntie's permission, had written, asking her to
do, to spend a week.

"Goody! goody!" cried Cricket, dancing around, with her dimples quite in
evidence again. "Won't we have fun! and she can write a story for the
'Echo,' too."

"What bliss!" remarked Archie, bringing all her curly hair over her face
with a sweep of his arm.

"It's a great honour to be a contributor to a paper, Mr. Archie, so,"
shaking back her hair, and pulling his.

"Especially for one that pays so liberally as the 'Echo,'" teased
Archie.

"You're a model of sarcasticity, I suppose you think," said Cricket,
tossing her head. "Auntie, will you take us to Plymouth some day? I
know Hilda will want to see Plymouth Rock."

"Watch her that she doesn't carry it off in her pocket," advised Archie.

"And all the other interesting things in Plymouth," went on Cricket,
turning her back on him. "And we'll go over to Bear Island for a picnic,
girls."

"Yes, if you'll promise--" began Edna.

"Goodness, yes! if you won't say anything more about it," interrupted
Cricket, hastily. "And, oh, auntie! couldn't we have some charades? Some
real, regular charades, I mean, not little ones all by ourselves."

"I'll be in them, if you'll have something I like," offered Archie,
condescendingly.

"If we have any charades, you may be sure we won't ask you," returned
Cricket, crushingly. "I'll have Will, though. He's a very good actress,
and he doesn't spoil everything, as some other people do."

"Thank you," said Will, making a bow, with his hand on his heart.

"I'm out of it, then," said Archie, "for I know I'm not a good actress."

"Of course I meant actor. There isn't much difference, anyway. Just two
letters. Anyway, we'll have a beautiful time. You'll have Edna, Eunice,
and I'll have Hilda."

"What do you suppose would happen if it should chance to be a rainy
week, and I should have you all on my hands to entertain in the house,
now, while grandma is laid up? Would there be any house left?" asked
Auntie Jean.

"The cellar," said Eunice. "But I'd be sorry for you, auntie."

"And I for myself. But I don't think it will rain, and you'll probably
have a lovely time together."

"Don't expect too much," advised Will. "Anticipation is always better
than reality, you know."

"It wouldn't be, if people always had as good a time as they expected,"
remarked Cricket, thoughtfully.

There was a shout at this.

"Exactly, little wiseacre. That's the trouble," laughed auntie. "Write
to Hilda to come on the 4.10 train Friday afternoon, and we'll all be
ready to help you both have as good a time as you anticipate."

Cricket departed to write the following letter:

    "DEAREST OLD HILDA:

    "I was so glad to get your letter that I nearly jumped out of my
    shoes. We'll have the greatest fun that ever was, and auntie
    will take us to Plymouth, and I'll guess Will will sail us out
    beyond the Gurnet Light, and we can have a picnic on the island,
    perhaps. What do you think I've gone and done to-day? I expect
    you'll say it's just like me, and I'm sure it isn't like anybody
    else, and I'm awfully morterfied. I wrestled with grandmother,
    my grandmother Maxwell, when she didn't know I was going to, and
    I tipped her right over accidentally, without meaning to, and
    I've almost broken her leg!!! Isn't that _too dreadful_? I
    didn't quite break her leg, but I sprained her ankle, so she
    can't walk. I never knew anybody to do such terrible,
    morterfying things as I do. I do hope I'll get to be proper and
    good when I'm grown-up. It would be very nice to be born proper,
    and _very_ nice for my mother, but then I wouldn't have had so
    much fun. I want to see you so much that I can't wait, hardly.
    It seems a million years till Friday. Remember you're to stay a
    whole week, and we'll have _loads_ of fun. Auntie says come on
    the 4.10 train, and we'll meet you.

    "Yours very lovingest,

    "JEAN MAXWELL."

The next morning, after breakfast, when grandma was up and dressed, with
her sprained foot resting on a cushioned chair in front of her, Cricket
presented herself at the door.

"I've come to be your legger, grandma," she announced, "and I'll read to
you, or amuse you, or play dominos or halma with you, or anything you
like. Or we might play go-bang. That's very interesting."

"Thank you, little granddaughter," said grandmother, much amused, but
touched as well. "I'll be very glad to have a legger, but, after all, it
wasn't my eyes that were sprained, so I can read very well for myself. I
couldn't think of keeping you in all this beautiful day."

But Cricket begged to be allowed to stay with her, and stay she did. A
deft little nurse she proved. She initiated grandmother into the
mysteries of go-bang, and the "Chequered Game of Life;" she read in the
morning papers the articles that grandmother pointed out, and let
herself be taught checkers and backgammon, showing surprising quickness
in learning. At last she nearly paralyzed her grandmother by voluntarily
suggesting her going and bringing her knitting, to knit a little, "while
we just plain talk for a change," she said.

So the little maid ensconced herself in a chair near grandma's large
one, with her wash-rag. Grandma took up her knitting, also, and the
needles clicked, socially.

"Why couldn't you tell me a story? I always forget to talk while I'm
knitting, so I can't be very entertaining," said Cricket, laboriously
pushing her needle through her very tight stitches, and twisting her
face into a very hard knot. The boys said Cricket knit as much with her
face as with her fingers.



CHAPTER XV.

A KNITTING BEE.


"What shall the story be about?" asked grandma, her needles flashing as
they flew.

"When you were a little girl," answered Cricket, promptly, in the usual
formula. "Oh, grandma! I have an idea! haven't you a box of old things
that I could look over, and select something for you to tell me a story
about, like that dear old grandma in 'Old-Fashioned Girl?'"

"Yes, Jean, I have the very thing, and it's a good idea. Bring me that
little table that stands in the corner. That's right. Put it close
beside me. Now, open these drawers--yes, pull them way out. Now, lift
that dividing piece. You see the bottom is inlaid. Touch the second one
of the little black inlaid circles."

"A secret drawer!" cried Cricket, excitedly. "Oh, grandma! how book-y!"

"Yes. Grandpa brought this table from China, years ago. It is full of
secret places."

Cricket touched the spring, and the supposed bottom flew up, showing a
box below. The little stand was really more of a cabinet than a table,
though it had a flat top and rolled easily on its castors. In the box
thus opened were all sorts of things.

"They are all old keepsakes," said grandma. "Find something you want to
hear about."

Cricket lifted a string of oddly carved beads.

"This, grandma. Isn't it funny? Has it an interesting story?"

Grandma took the beads in her hands, thoughtfully.

"It's an old keepsake, to be sure, and I used to be very fond of it when
I was a girl, and I wore it a good deal, but I don't know that there is
any story connected with it. But I'll tell you how I got it. It taught
me a bit of a lesson. I'll tell you the story, and you can guess the
lesson for yourself, if you can.

"You know I lived in Boston when I was a girl. I went to a private
school there, of, perhaps, twenty girls. It was kept by Miss Sarah and
Miss Abbie Cartwright. We all loved Miss Sarah, but none of us liked
Miss Abbie, and I don't wonder at it when I think how little she
understood girls.

"We used to recite seated in a semi-circle around the teacher, and all
whispering was strictly forbidden during the recitation. One day--but I
must stop here, and tell you that we all wore white stockings and low
shoes then. We never had any high shoes at all. Our white stockings must
always be fresh and clean, of course, and I always put on a clean pair
every day. A soiled stocking would have made us feel simply disgraced.
Coloured stockings were perfectly unknown as far as I remember, and I
should have felt dreadfully mortified to wear anything but white."

"Oh, I know! like Ellen in the 'Wide, Wide World,'" broke in Cricket.
"Don't you remember her horrid aunt, who dyed all her white stockings
gray, and she felt so badly? I never knew why. Wouldn't I feel _silly_
in white stockings now!"

"Yes, but if everybody wore them, it would be different. There was one
girl, Phoebe Dawson, in my class, who was a very untidy girl. She
always had hooks off her dress, or a hook and eye put together that did
not mate, or her dress was broken from its gathers. _Her_ stockings were
always grimy around the ankles. Ours were always smoothly gartered up,
but hers wrinkled down over her shoes."

"Yes," nodded Cricket, "Sort of mousquetaire stockings."

Grandma laughed. "That exactly describes it. I know now there was some
excuse for her getting her stockings so dirty, for she had a much longer
walk to school than any of us did, as she came from Charlestown,--over a
long, dusty road.

"So, one day, as I was saying, the recitation was just over, and Miss
Abbie was talking about something just to fill up the time till the
class bell should ring. Phoebe Dawson sat just opposite me in the half
circle. I can see her now. The part in her hair was as uneven as
possible--what we used to call a 'rail-fence' parting, and her braids
straggled unevenly down behind her ears. She had forgotten the brooch
that should have fastened her collar. The facing of her dress was ripped
and was hanging down, and her pantalets were actually dirty."

"Pantalets, grandma?"

"Yes, we all wore pantalets, beautifully starched and ironed, that came
nearly to the tops of our village-ties, as we called them. We had very
fancy ones for Sundays, and plainer ones for every day, but we were very
particular about them. Phoebe sat with her feet crossed and actually
sticking out in front of her--which was considered very bad manners--and
her stockings were very grimy.

"I forgot about the rule of no whispering, and I said, suddenly, to
Dolly Chipman, who sat on the other side of me, 'Pearl-gray stockings
are the latest thing from Paris. You can always depend on Phoebe
Dawson to set the style--pig-sty-le.'

"Instantly Miss Abbie's cold, gray eyes were on me.

"'Did you speak, Miss Winthrop?' for we were all called, very formally,
by our last names.

"'Yes'm,' I answered, very meekly.

"'Very well, then, we will hear the remark you made, and judge if it was
necessary enough to excuse you for breaking the rule.'

"I fairly gasped, for nothing would have made me repeat the remark, and
hurt Phoebe's feelings. In spite of her untidiness, we all liked her,
for she was always good company. Besides, we really respected her, for
she was one of the best scholars in the class.

"'Please excuse me, Miss Abbie,' I said, getting furiously red. 'It was
a silly little remark I made, and I had no business to make it.'

"'We will be the best judge of that, Miss Winthrop,' she said, in her
severest tones. Just then the class bell rang outside the room. This
happened to be the last class of the morning. Some of the girls got up
to go, but Miss Abbie motioned them down.

"'If you choose to keep the whole class waiting,' she said to me, 'it
will not be pleasant, but we can wait. I hope you enjoy feeling we are
all waiting for you.'"

"How perfectly horrid of her!" cried Cricket.

"I really think it was, myself. Well, the girls groaned softly, and
frowned at me, and motioned 'tell,' with their lips, but nothing would
have induced me to have repeated my silly little speech, and make them
all laugh at Phoebe.

"I was ashamed of myself already, for saying a mean thing of one of my
classmates, even to one girl, and I certainly did not intend to repeat
the remark for the benefit of the whole class.

"'I can't tell you before them all, Miss Abbie,' I said, desperately,
'but I will tell you all by yourself. It was something I had no
business to say.'

"'If it was fitting to be said to one girl, it is fitting to be heard by
all,' she said, inexorably. I have always thought that she was very dull
not to see that it must have been some uncomplimentary personal
remark--possibly about herself, for all she knew."

"Oh, I wish it had been!" broke in Cricket.

"I am very glad it wasn't. But we were well-trained girls in those days,
and rarely thought of grumbling at anything our teachers did. We might
not like them, but I don't remember talking about them much.

"'We are waiting,' she said, again, after a moment.

"'I _can't_ tell you before the class,' I repeated, obstinately. 'But
I'll tell you by yourself. I'm ashamed I said it, anyway.'

"Perhaps Phoebe had noticed me glance at her, or perhaps she knew,
more than we realized, that we sometimes made fun of her untidiness, for
she suddenly said, good-naturedly:

"'Do tell what it is, if it's anything about me, I sha'n't care. I'd
much rather go home and get my dinner.'

"'Was it about Phoebe?' asked Miss Abbie, instantly.

"To this point-blank question, I had to say 'Yes.'

"'Tell it,' urged Phoebe, good-naturedly.

"'Well, then,' I began, desperately,--but I could not say it. I
hesitated, and then added, quickly:

"'I said I wondered how Phoebe Dawson always managed to keep herself
looking so nice!'

"A little surprised look, then a laugh, went around the class. Every one
knew that I was not speaking the truth, and I dare say Miss Abbie knew
it herself. She cast a very sharp glance at me, but, nevertheless,
dismissed the class. Every one surrounded me in the cloak-room,
laughing, and teasing me about what I had said. But I only waited till
Miss Sarah was at liberty, and then I went to her and told her the
story. I was very angry, and in a state of great indignation against
Miss Abbie, and finally I burst out with, 'She made me tell that lie,
herself!'

"'Hush! my dear!' Miss Sarah said, gravely. 'If you think, you will see
that the trouble was that your sense of politeness was stronger than
your sense of truth. Again, if you hadn't broken the rule about
whispering in class in the first place, nothing would have happened. So
I think we won't blame Miss Abbie. I will tell her about it myself, and
nothing more will be said about it to you.'

"I thought Miss Sarah was very good and kind, but my conscience troubled
me very much. Phoebe Dawson, too, made me feel thoroughly ashamed of
myself. When she came to school the next day she brought me this lovely
string of beads, which she said her uncle had brought her home from
India.

"'You had all that trouble on my account yesterday,' she said, in her
good-natured way, 'so I brought you these to make up. My uncle brings me
quantities of things, so you must take these, to please me,' for, of
course, I protested against taking them.

"'You needn't have minded about telling what you really did say,' she
went on. 'I know I'm dreadfully untidy, but if I had a mother, or a
sister, or any one to look out for me, I'd be different, perhaps,' and
her eyes filled with tears.

"Well, I grew very fond of Phoebe Dawson after that, and soon I went
to see her. She had a lovely home, full of beautiful things, but
everything was as untidy and uncared for as she was herself. Phoebe's
mother had died when she was a baby, and her father was a great scholar,
who was always buried in his books, and the two servants managed things
as they liked. But Phoebe improved very much as she grew older, and we
remained friends always."

"Is she living now?" asked Cricket, turning over the beads with
interest.

"No, she died several years ago, and she was the grandmother of your
little friend, Emily Drayton."

"_Was_ she? How funny! And what was the lesson you learned, grandma?"

"You may guess that for yourself," said grandma, smiling. "Will you
choose again?"



CHAPTER XVI.

TWO LITTLE RUNAWAYS.


Cricket dived into the box again.

"What's in this paper?" she asked.

Grandma took the folded sheet, and carefully opened it. There were two
soft curls of bright gold hair, fastened to the middle of it by sealing
wax.

"These are two little curls I cut from the children's heads when they
were small. _My_ children, I mean. Your mamma's and Auntie Jean's. It
was the first time their hair was ever cut, and how badly I felt, to
have to have it done!"

"But why did you do it?" asked Cricket.

"Naughty little things! I had to."

"Oh, _do_ tell me about that. I just love hearing about mamma when she
was naughty!" begged Cricket, turning over the soft gold curls. "It's
just exactly like Kenneth's and Helen's, isn't it? And mamma's hair
isn't very much darker, now, is it? What a shame you had to cut it!"

"Indeed it was. I was so proud of their lovely hair, and they were such
lovely children, everybody said. They were little things. Auntie Jean
was nearly five, and your mamma was three. I was visiting my sister in
Philadelphia with them both. It was in May, but it was very warm. The
children were still in the habit of taking an afternoon nap. One day
they were put to bed, as usual, about two o'clock, and my sister and
myself went down-town for some shopping. I had a new nursemaid, whom I
left in charge, of course. But she was careless, I suppose, and probably
went down-stairs to gossip with the other servants.

"Presently the children woke up, and as they found there was no one with
them, they slipped off the bed by themselves. They were entirely
undressed and in their little night-clothes, with bare feet. They ran
around up-stairs for a while, and then, finding nobody about, they ran
down-stairs. The front door stood ajar, so out they slipped, and
pattered away down the street. They were always independent children,
and not a bit afraid of anything, so when they found they were out all
alone by themselves, they decided to go and 'see uncle.' They had been
taken to his office down-town several times. My sister lived in what was
then a very quiet part of Philadelphia, and near their home were several
vacant lots. The children strayed in here to pick some grasses and
weeds, which they thought were flowers.

"Unfortunately, a lot of burdocks grew there, and, of course, the
children picked them, and stuck them together, with great delight.
Probably some of them got caught accidentally in the hair of one of
them, for, as far as we could make out from their story afterwards, they
twisted them in each other's curls, till there was just a mat of burs,
all over their heads. Then, of course, when they tried to take them out,
they only made matters worse, so they gave it up and trotted on.
Presently they came to a grocery store, where all sorts of things stood
outside of the door.

"Strawberries were in the market, so these little wretches instantly
plunged both hands into a box of them, and stuffed them into their
mouths. Next they sat themselves down in a corner made by some big
boxes, and quietly helped themselves to a box of strawberries apiece.
You can imagine the state of their little night-dresses, when they were
through with this feast, just a mass of strawberry stain. They were so
small and so quiet, that no one in the store noticed them for some time,
and no one chanced to pass. At last a lady came by, and spied them. Of
course she instantly saw they were runaways, and spoke to them.

"'We isn't yunning away,' Jean insisted, 'we is only going to see
uncle.'

"'But where is your mamma?' persisted the lady.

"'Her's gone to see uncle, too,' said Jean. The lady knew they had
probably run away from some neighbouring house, so she went into the
store to ask a clerk to come and see if he knew them. But while she was
gone, the children slipped away down the side street. The clerk told us
all about this afterwards, for it was a store where my sister often
went.

"Then the little ones probably wandered around a good deal, though we
never knew where, except that they came to some water in a gutter,
somewhere, and took to it like ducks. They must have paddled in it for
some time--'washing their feets,' Jean told us afterwards, as an excuse.

"Of course, by this time they had collected a crowd around them, for
just imagine what they looked like! Nothing on but white
night-dresses--I mean, of course, that were originally white,--but now
spattered a foot deep with muddy water, and stained all over with
crushed strawberries; and they were barefooted, with their golden curls
stuck full of burs, till they looked like little porcupines."

"_Grandma_! how funny! and to think that was mamma," broke in Cricket,
in great enjoyment of the picture.

"They must have looked as badly as Zaidee and Helen did when they came
in from swimming in the tanks at the cheese factory the other day."

"Worse, if anything, because the strawberry stains made them look as if
they had been through the wars, poor little mites. At last a policeman
took them in charge."

"Think of mamma being actually arrested! That's worse than anything
that's ever happened to me," said Cricket.

"That's your good fortune," laughed grandma. "Your wash-rag isn't
getting along very fast, is it? I thought you were going to knit as I
talk."

"Oh, I am! I am!" cried Cricket, scrabbling up her wash-rag, which she
had entirely forgotten. "Go on, grandma."

"So a policeman took them in charge. He said the children didn't seem a
bit frightened, but took everything very coolly, insisting all the time
that they were on the way to see uncle.

"'Who is uncle?' asked the policeman, and Jean said: 'He's Uncle
Darling, and he lives on Wide Stweet.'

"'But what's his name?' asked the policeman, thinking the children were
calling him by their pet name.

"'Uncle Darling,' Jean kept repeating.

"'We'll take them to the station, and report at headquarters,' said the
policeman, finally."

"Think of mamma's actually being taken to the lock-up," murmured
Cricket.

"But the children were very determined little things, and insisted that
they were going to Wide Stweet to see uncle. Presently a gentleman
passed, and asked the reason of the commotion.

"'Runaways,' somebody answered, whereupon Jean instantly piped up, 'I
say I _isn't_ yunning away. I is goin' to Wide Stweet to see Uncle
Darling.'

"'Darling?' said the gentleman. 'I know Darling of Broad Street. These
little scraps must have slipped away from his house. Call a cab,
policeman, and we'll go and see.'

"So a cab was called, and the policeman mounted the box, and the man got
inside with the children, and off they went to Broad Street, which Jean
called Wide Stweet.

"Imagine your great-uncle's feelings, when suddenly his office door
opened, and a gentleman appeared leading those two ridiculous looking
little creatures.

"Their faces were grimy, their hair bristling with burs, their feet
splashed with mud, their little straight night-gowns stained with
strawberry juice from neck to hem,--looking startlingly like blood at
first sight,--but in spite of all, the most beaming of smiles, for they
had had a beautiful time.

"'We has tum to see 'oo,' said Margaret, giving him a very burry hug,
for as she threw her arms around his neck, the burs in her hair caught
in his heavy beard. Margaret screamed as her hair pulled, and they had
some trouble to get her disentangled.

"'We hasn't yunned away, Uncle Darling. We has came in a carriage,' said
Jean.

"The gentleman was a business friend of your great-uncle's. He delivered
the children over into his charge, telling him the story. Of course he
started home with them immediately, knowing how frightened we would be
if we got home and discovered that they were missing.

"Fortunately for my peace of mind, we had been detained later than we
expected to be, and so just as we got out of the horse-cars in front of
my sister's house, a cab drew up at the door, and out got your uncle,
and with him two of the most disreputable looking little objects you
ever saw. We could hardly believe our eyes.

"'We has tum home aden,' Margaret called, cheerfully, as she saw us.

"Well you can imagine how quickly we got both those children into the
house, and into the bath-tub, where we satisfied ourselves that they
were not bleeding to death.

"We had to get the first coating of dirt off before we could undertake
to disentangle those dreadful burs. My heart sank at the sight, I must
say. I was so proud of their beautiful golden hair. They each had so
much of it, and it was as fine as floss; but this only made it the more
difficult to get those sticky burs out. My sister and I each took a
child, and began at the burs. We worked at them a long time, but they
were so hopelessly twisted in, and the fine silky hair was so wound up
in them, that at last I had to get the scissors, very sorrowfully. Way
underneath, close to their necks, we found these little locks, that by
some work and careful snipping we managed to get quite free of burs, so
I cut them off to preserve. I simply cut the rest off, in any way, as
best I could, to do for the night, as it was too late to take them to
the barber's that afternoon.

"What dreadful looking little things they were then! Did you ever see a
sheared sheep? Well, they looked just like that, for I had snipped their
hair here and there, as best I could, and it stood up in little, rough,
jagged, irregular tufts all over their heads. I almost cried as I looked
at them. 'I had thought I had two pretty children,' I said, mournfully.
Their heads looked so comically small, and their necks like little
pipe-stems.

"Of course the barber clipped their hair smooth the next day, but I felt
for a long time as if I could not let people see them. Their heads were
simply lost in every hat and bonnet they had."

"To think of my mother having been such a little _scallawag_," murmured
Cricket, in an awestruck tone.

"Poor little things! They had a sad time the next day, for their feet
were so swollen and cut that they couldn't get on a shoe. I can't
imagine how they managed to walk so far on the hot pavements with their
tender little feet."

"I know. The palms of your feet get dreadfully hot and sting-y when you
go barefoot. I've tried it. Did they ever run away again?"

"No, never, I believe. That one experience was enough. And now, my small
maid, will you go and ask Luke to harness Mopsie for you? I would like
to send a note over to Mrs. Carter, if you would please take it for me."

Cricket sprang up with a bound.

"Would you really like me to go? Oh, thank you! I mean, of course, I
love to stay with you, but--"

"Yes," said grandma, smiling, "and I enjoy my little maid's company
extremely, but I think she had better have some fresh air, this lovely
day."

Cricket gave a hop, skip, and jump.

"Thank you so much for your stories, grandma, dear. I'd love to go with
your note. Oh, George W., you bad, bad cat! You've gone and snarled your
Aunt Zaidee's wash-rag all up while I was listening to a beautiful story
about your Grandma Ward. Look, grandma! he's made it just as worse as
burs!"

"I'll put it in order, while you're gone," said grandma, taking the very
hopeless looking knitting.

"Hand me my writing things, and I'll have the note ready when you come
back for it. Really, I shall be tempted to sprain my ankle again, Jean,
if it brings me such a dear little nurse."

"We've had a lovely time, I think," said Cricket, giving her dear,
comforting grandma a prodigious hug. "Let's have a knitting bee again,
sometime, grandma. Perhaps, I'd get my wash-rag done this summer if we
did."

[Illustration: HILDA'S ARRIVAL]



CHAPTER XVII.

HILDA ARRIVES.


Of course, Cricket went with Auntie Jean to the station on Friday
afternoon to meet Hilda.

Hilda had never stayed at the seashore before, for her mother was very
fond of the mountains, and went every summer to the Catskills.
Therefore, there was everything to show her. Think of it. She had never
even been in bathing in the ocean! This fact interested Cricket more
than anything else, and so the very first morning she got Hilda up early
to get a dip before breakfast.

"Ouch!" squealed Hilda, shrinking back, as the cold waves touched her
bare toes. "Why, Cricket! it's cold!"

"It won't be as soon as you're fairly in," urged Cricket. "Just make a
dash, and go in all over. Wade out to the raft, and dive off. You don't
know what fun it is to go slap-dash into the water and get all gurgled,"
which was Cricket for choked.

"But I'll get all _wet_," objected Hilda, "besides, it's _so_ cold,
Cricket," and she drew back further up on the beach, and stood poking
her toes into the warm sand.

"Get wet?" said Archie, politely. "No, you wouldn't. We keep dry water
for any one making a first attempt."

"And if you _should_ get wet, what would it matter? A bathing-suit isn't
a party dress, Hilda," urged Cricket. "We usually expect to get wet when
we go into the water, anyway."

"Mother, may I go out to swim?" sang Archie, teasingly.

"Come on, Hilda. Just go right forward, ker-chunk," and Cricket made a
run and threw herself full length in the shallow water. She rolled over
and over, and came up sputtering, and laughing. "Don't be afraid, you
goosey girl."

"I'm not a goosey girl. Suppose I should go out there and get drowned?"

"You _can't_ drown. Archie, and Will, and I, all can swim, and we'll
save you. Will taught me this summer. It's lovely," and Cricket led
Hilda, hanging back and protesting, into the water, ankle deep.

The truth really was, that Hilda did not want to wet her pretty new
bathing-suit. She was such a careful, orderly little person, that she
did not like the idea of doing anything so untidy. Besides, Cricket's
dripping, clinging skirt looked very uncomfortable.

Just then, Will and Archie, at a private signal, threw themselves,
splash, into the water on each side of her, spattering her well, and
Cricket, seizing the opportunity, cried out:

"Now, you're a little wet, you must go under right away, or else you'll
take cold," and Hilda yielded very unwillingly, and protesting that she
was freezing to death. She squealed and choked as the boys ducked her
under the water, and she really thought for one dreadful minute that her
last hour had come.

"If _this_ is bathing, I think it's _awful_," she said, with emphasis,
as soon as she could speak. The boys had piloted her as far as the
swimming raft, and, imitating Cricket's example, she climbed up on it,
trying to rub off her wet face with her wetter sleeve, and looking
perfectly miserable. "Archie, I've got to have a handkerchief, or a
towel, or something, to dry my face. Please bring me one."

The boys both laughed at her. "Oh, certainly," said Archie. "I'll
telephone to the laundry to send down a cartload right away. We usually
have Luke put a supply of clean ones on the raft, all ready for us. He
must have forgotten it this morning."

"You needn't laugh at me. I do hate to have my face stay wet."

"Dive again, then," advised Will, setting the example. "Come, Cricket,
race me to the rock and back again."

Cricket promptly dived, but Hilda could not be coaxed off her perch till
the others were ready to go in. So, altogether, the first bath was not a
great success, and Hilda almost made up her mind that she would never
try it again, for it was, by no means, such fun as it was reported to
be. But over Sunday she had time to forget her sensations, and when
Cricket sprang up early Monday morning, as usual, Hilda finally
concluded she would try it again. To her great surprise--perhaps it was
partly because the first newness was worn off her bathing-suit--she
found that she enjoyed it a great deal more than the first time. She
actually waded around with the water nearly up to her shoulders, and
half learned to float, with Will supporting her. The next morning
completed the lesson, and she began to feel very independent.

On Monday morning Auntie Jean drove the four girls over to Plymouth, to
see the sights there. Hilda was full of eagerness and curiosity to see
the famous Rock on which the Pilgrim Fathers landed.

"What! _that_ little thing?" she exclaimed, in surprise and disgust,
when a small affair was pointed out to her, a rock not even very near
the water, but well up on the land, with a stone canopy over it. "How
could they land on that little thing?"

"Archie says they came up on stilts," said Cricket. "Of course they had
to land on Plymouth Rock, 'cause the histories said they must."

"I never believed that," said literal Edna. "How could they get the
stilts?"

"Oh, _Edna_!" cried Eunice, while the rest laughed.

"Then they cut a piece off, and carried it up in front of Pilgrim Hall,
and put it in front of it, and built a railing round it, the first thing
they did," went on Cricket.

"But there wasn't any Pilgrim Hall, then," persisted Edna.

"Edna, you're a goose," said Eunice. "Now auntie, can we go and see the
Statue of Faith, and the Pilgrim Hall, and the burying-ground, and all?"

They had a merry day in the quaint old town, with all its relics and
curiosities. They went all over Pilgrim Hall, and saw the famous sword
of Captain Myles Standish, the cradle of Peregrine White,--the little
baby who was born at sea on that famous voyage,--and hosts of other
interesting things.

Then they did a little shopping, and bought some candy to eat on the way
home. This was always part of the fun.

"When will they have Captain Myles Standish's statue up?" asked Eunice,
with her mouth full of caramels, as they passed Captain's Hill.

"Very soon, I believe, now. The pedestal is nearly done, and the statue
is already there."

"Yes, I know," nodded Cricket. "We walked over there one day last week.
Hilda, the statue is there waiting, and it's all boxed up like a
chicken-coop. You can see the statue right between the slats. And, oh,
auntie! Archie made such a funny joke. Will had just asked Eunice why it
would be the highest statue in the world, but she knew the
answer--'cause it's Myles above the sea, of course. Then Archie stooped
over and poked a stick through the slats, and said: 'Let's tickle his
feet and see if he smiles.' Wasn't that good?"

"I don't see a bit of sense to it," declared Edna, "and I didn't then.
Eunice and Cricket just laughed and laughed, mamma. Of _course_ a statue
couldn't smile."

"Edna, you wouldn't see a joke if one walked up and _bit_ you," said
Eunice. "Archie said: 'Let's tickle his feet and see if he's-Myles.'
_Don't_ you see?"

"If he's Myles. If he smiles. Oh, _yes_!" cried Edna, looking really
excited. "I see! you can take it in two ways."

"Edna, it's easy to see your great-grandfather was a Scotchman," said
Mrs. Somers, when she could speak for laughing at her very practical
little daughter.

"Why, I don't see what that has to do with it. People laugh at such
silly things, mamma. Eunice and Cricket just double up over some things
that are too stupid for anything."

"That's your misfortune, dear. If there was a School of Jokes I should
certainly send you to it."

"Well, for instance," went on Edna, "I'll leave it to Hilda if this
wasn't silly. That day when we all walked over to Captain's Hill, we all
sat down on some stones to rest. Nobody happened to be saying anything
just then, and Cricket began to sing. Archie listened a moment, then he
jumped up and started off on a run, as fast as he could go, all around
the top of the hill, and came back all puffing and panting, and he said:
'Cricket, I've run all around the hill, and I can't catch that tune.'
The girls thought it was awfully funny; what, do _you_ think it was
funny, too?" for Hilda went off in a peal of laughter, as well as
auntie.

"Of course," went on Edna, "he couldn't tell the tune if he didn't stay
and listen to it; and, perhaps, he wouldn't have known then," she added,
thoughtfully.

Cricket grew very red, as she always did when any slighting allusion was
made to her singing.

"Archie is a very funny boy, _I_ think," she remarked quickly, to turn
the attention of the others from this sore subject. "He isn't as nice as
Will, but he's generally funnier. He gets so mad when Edna says, 'What's
the sense to that?' when he makes a joke."

"Like yesterday, Mrs. Somers," said Hilda, "when Archie asked us a
conundrum, 'How does a sculptor die?' do you know it? The answer is, 'He
makes faces and _busts_.' And he got so mad when Edna only told him that
_busts_ wasn't correct. He ought to say, 'He makes faces and _bursts_.'"

"Well, he ought, oughtn't he, mamma? Nobody says busts."

"Edna, you're hopeless," answered her mother. "And here we are at home
again."

At the supper-table Will announced that he and Archie and the _Gentle
Jane_ were all ready to take a sailing party to the Gurnet Lights the
next day, if the party so desired. By the clapping of hands it was
judged that the party did so desire.

"But about grandma?" asked Mrs. Somers, when she could make herself
heard. "I can't go and leave her for all day when she is so helpless."

Cricket coloured at the allusion, but she instantly said, bravely:

"If you will go with the others, auntie, I'll stay with grandma."

"If you stay, Cricket, I'll stay, too," said Hilda, quickly.

"But you _can't_, Hilda. You're the party, don't you see? We've all
been to the Gurnet, and we're going to get up this picnic on purpose for
you. You've got to go."

"Yes, you've got to go," struck in Archie. "It's like the man who was on
his way to be executed. He saw people all running along the street, and
he called out to some one, 'No hurry, friend. It can't go on till I get
there. I'm the man to be hung.'"

"Then, since Hilda is the man to be hung she'll have to go. That's
certain. And besides, children, you can't go to-morrow, for we must give
cook a day's notice if she is to provide luncheon enough to last you
entirely hollow young people for a whole day. Then I'll see Mrs. Emmons,
and perhaps she will come and spend the day with grandma on Wednesday,
and we'll set sail then for the Gurnet Lights. Will that do? I'll go
over directly after supper and see her, so you can put your minds at
rest."

Mrs. Emmons would be delighted to come and spend the day with grandma,
it proved, so the plans for Wednesday instantly began, as if they did
not have a whole day before them. The hour of the start must be settled
at once. As it would be low tide at eleven, they must be off at eight
in the morning, to get well over the mud-flats before they were exposed.
They would go outside the point for a little cruise, if it was not too
rough, and then come back and land at the Gurnet, and show all the
sights there to Hilda, and eat their luncheon either before or after, as
they liked.

The boys were both good sailors, and understood a boat perfectly. Their
grandfather Maxwell had trained them well from the time they were wee
bits of boys, and even before his death, three years before, he had
trusted them to go out alone.

But the next day the excitement began in earnest, and there was hurrying
to and fro, and consultations over what to take, and what to wear, and
what to do, and proposals for this, and objections to that, till the
whole house was in a whirl.

"Children, you couldn't make more preparation if you were going to
Europe," cried distracted auntie, finally, as all the girls burst into
her room for the fortieth time, as she was trying to take a nap that
afternoon. "I don't know where your sketch-book is, Edna. Yes, wear
your sailor caps. Of course you'll wear your sailor suits, and not
ginghams. Yours is torn, Edna? Then, my dear, please go and mend it
directly. Your fishing-tackle is in the lobby, by the side kitchen door,
Cricket. You left it in Billy's room, and he brought it over. Yes, I
told cook to make some chocolate cake, Eunice. Now scamper, every one of
you. I'm going to lock my door now, and don't anybody dare to come and
disturb for an hour."

But within five minutes a small voice called through the keyhole,
imploringly:

"'Scuse me, auntie dear, but _couldn't_ we take George W.? he's just
begging to go, and I know he'll be good."

"Scat!" cried auntie, and Cricket scatted.

"Sha'n't we take some books, in case we get becalmed?" suggested Eunice,
as they all finally rested on the piazza, and tried to think of
something else to get ready.

"Of course. Sometimes we are becalmed for an hour, Hilda, and it's
awfully stupid."

"I'll take 'Jack and Jill,'" said Cricket. "And, oh, girls, let's take
our blank books and pencils, so we can write on our stories for the
'Echo' if we want to."

"I won't, and that's flat!" said Edna, decidedly. "Going on a picnic
for fun, and writing stories! What do you think I'm made of, Cricket?"

"Sugar and spice, and all that's nice," returned Cricket, cheerfully.
"Did I tell you, girls, that Hilda is going to write a story for our
next 'Echo?' 'Our estinguished contributor, Miss Hilda Mason!' Doesn't
that sound fine? And she's written some poetry, too! Isn't she lovely?"
and Cricket hugged Hilda in a sudden burst of affection.

"This is the first poetry I ever wrote," said Hilda, trying not to look
conscious.

"And it's lovely!" said Cricket, approvingly. "Read it to the girls,
please, Hilda." And Hilda, waiting for a little urging, though she was
really dying to read it, produced her "poem," and read:

   "It was Christmas eve, now remember,
      And out in the cold world alone,
    A cold night, too, in December,
      There wandered a poor little one.

   "Waiting in sorrow and weeping,
      Waiting out there in the cold,
    Why should she have cause to sorrow?
      Why, her mother lay there in the mould.

   "And where was the child's own father?
      Was he in the cold ground, too?
    No, her father was in the billiard-room.
      I pity the poor child, don't you?"

"That's too sweet for anything, Hilda! All you girls are clever but me,"
sighed Edna, half enviously.

"I've just decided that I'll be a poetess like Mrs. Browning, when I
grow up," said Hilda, calmly. "I never tried writing poetry before, but
it's just as _easy_. It would be very interesting to be a poetess,"
added Hilda, who was given to day-dreams, in which she was always
famous.



CHAPTER XVIII.

A SAILING PARTY.


It was not long after dawn, early as that was, when the younger fry were
all astir in the Maxwell household. The boys were up to see that
everything was in order about the boat, and to transport the necessary
number of cushions and rugs for the comfort of their passengers. Cricket
dragged reluctant Hilda, who dearly loved her morning snooze, out of bed
almost as early, though Eunice and Edna lazily turned over for another
scrap of a nap. Still, they were not long able to withstand the general
buzz of excitement, and long before seven they also were up and about,
gathering together their various belongings. Cook had the generous
luncheon-baskets all packed, with provision sufficient for a small
regiment. Before breakfast everything was on board, the luncheon was
packed away in the little locker, and cushions and extra wrappings were
all in place.

Breakfast was a hasty ceremony, for the boys were eagerly watching the
time, and tide, and breeze, and so would hardly give the rest time to
eat. It was not quite eight when they mustered their party on the dock.
At the last moment Cricket appeared with a small bundle, carefully
wrapped in newspaper, the contents of which she absolutely refused to
reveal.

"You'll know by and by," was all she would say, "and you needn't try to
solve into the mystery now."

The breeze favoured the start, and the swelling sails swept the _Gentle
Jane_ along at a scudding pace. Hilda, who had never been sailing
before, was delighted at the swift motion. The sky was as blue as blue
could be, with flecks of white clouds all over it, the water was
sparkling and clear, and dashed with a delightful little swish against
the bow.

"But what do you do if the breeze stops?" she asked.

"We stop, too," said Archie, "unless somebody gets out and drags the
boat along."

"Really? could any one drag this heavy boat along? would they swim? oh,
you're teasing me!"

"Yes, of course he's teasing you," said Edna; "we have to row, if the
breeze stops. Do you see these long oars? Why, boys! you haven't brought
but one oar!"

"Yes, we have," answered the boys in chorus. Then they looked at where
the oars should be, and then at each other. "I thought you brought the
other oar," said Archie.

"And I thought you did," said Will. "Never mind. It looks as if we'd
have a good breeze all day."

"But will the breeze turn for you to come home again?" asked Hilda. "For
if the breeze blows us out, how can it blow us back again?"

"Tack, young woman, tack, but not with a hammer or nails. You'll see,
coming home, if this breeze holds out."

"I'll bet you anything that the breeze _won't_ hold, because you've
forgotten the other oar," said Edna.

"Then we'll put Cricket up in the bow, to whistle up a breeze. That
always brings it."

"It's so funny I can't whistle, when I'd love to, so," said Cricket,
meditatively, for whistling was one boyish accomplishment which she
could not manage.

"You needn't wish to," said Edna, who, strange to say, could whistle
like a blackbird. "You would only have people always telling you, it is
not ladylike. I don't know I'm whistling half the time when mamma tells
me not to. It just whistles itself."

"Why _don't_ I whistle right?" asked Cricket, dolefully, for the
hundredth time. "I pucker my lips up so--and I blow--_so_--and I can
give one straight whistle, but I can't make it go up and down. It
doesn't twinkle as Edna's does."

Edna broke out into a perfect bird song of twittering and chirping and
trilling.

"There, I just enjoyed that!" she said, at last, stopping breathlessly.
"When I'm way out at sea, mamma lets me whistle all I like."

"Isn't it getting near luncheon-time, auntie?" asked Eunice. "I'm
dreadfully hungry."

"Luncheon-time, dear child! It's only nine o'clock," said auntie,
consulting her watch.

"Don't get mixed up in the time as you did last summer, when you went
blackberrying and came home at ten o'clock in the morning and thought it
was six at night. Hard-a-lee!" as the boom swung around and they changed
their course. Hilda, not realizing what this meant, did not duck her
head in time, and consequently got a smart rap. Her hat was knocked off,
but, being Hilda's, it did not go in the water. She never had any
accidents.

"You must duck, instanter, when you hear me call," said Will. "Sometimes
the boom has to go around very suddenly, and you have to look out for
yourselves. Archie, you steer now for a while," and Archie took the
helm.

The little sailboat skimmed along over the glittering water, and now
they were well past Clark's Island. As they came near the Gurnet lights
they decided that they would touch there first, and show Hilda the
lighthouse, and then they could take as much time as they liked for
their cruise outside.

The tide was out, and they could not get the little boat up near enough
the shore to land dry-shod. So Will and Archie, having anchored the
boat, pulled off shoes and stockings, rolled up their trousers, and
jumped overboard.

"What are they going to do?" asked Hilda, watching with much interest
these preparations, which the rest seemed to take as a matter of course.

"They will carry us ashore, because we don't want to get our feet wet,"
said Edna. "They often do."

"_Carry_ us! why, I'd be scared to death!" exclaimed Hilda. "Are you
really going to let them take you, Mrs. Somers?"

"Yes, indeed, and they know just how to manage," said Mrs. Somers. "I'll
go now, children, so they can take the heaviest weight first."

Will and Archie, knee deep in water, stood up by the boat, and Will
easily lifted his mother from the side of the boat, where she was
standing. Then Archie got hold of her also, in some mysterious way, and,
in a moment, she was safely sitting on a "lady's chair," made by the
boys' clasped hands. They went carefully up over the rocks and stones,
and deposited her, dry-shod. Then they came back for the girls.

"I can take these kids better alone, Arch," said Will, taking Eunice
like a baby.

"I'll take Cricket," said Archie.

"No, you won't, sir, not one step," said that young lady, sitting down,
resolutely. "I know you. I'd find myself in a crab hole in about a
minute. I'll wait for Will."

"Come on, Hilda, then. That's a base libel, you know."

But it ended by Will's carrying them all in.

"There are drawbacks to being so popular," said Will, setting down Edna,
who was the last, and wiping his face.

A lighthouse is always an interesting place to visit, and many times as
the Somers children had been there, they always enjoyed the trip.
Cricket and Eunice had never been there but three or four times before.
The good-natured keeper took them all over and showed them everything,
from the twin-lights at the top to the life-boats, for Hilda's benefit.

When they had seen everything that was to be seen they went down to the
shore again, to reëmbark. It was easier getting back, for the boys made
a lady's chair for each passenger, and together carried her safely over
the shallows, where the water was beginning to rise. They sailed outside
the bar for a short distance, and then it was time to eat their
luncheon.

The luncheon was a royal banquet in point of plenty and variety, for
Mrs. Maxwell's old cook knew, by long experience, just what sort of
appetites the salt air made, and there were seven hungry mouths to feed.
They feasted and chattered, until Auntie Jean suddenly announced that
it was time to turn about, and go in.

"It's too early," said Edna.

"Not with this wind," said her mother. "We'll have to tack all the way,
and I want to get in by five or six."

"It's such fun," sighed Cricket. "I hate to go in. I love the water out
here, when it's all rough and rock-y. I'd like to keep right on to Cape
Cod." She stood in the bow of the boat, with one arm around the mast--it
was a catboat--with the breeze fluttering her curly hair about, and her
dress blowing back stiffly.

"Cricket, please don't stand there any longer," called Auntie Jean. "You
make me nervous. You'll be overboard in a minute, I know."

"No, I won't, auntie, I've stood here heaps of times. I do love to feel
the wind on my face. It makes one feel so _gay_."

"No, come back, please, dear. I feel safer with all my birds under my
wings," answered auntie, for she knew Cricket of old.

Cricket turned, reluctantly, and at the same moment Will called
"Hard-a-lee!" as the boom swung over, and the boat obeyed her helm, and
came round. Cricket was still facing outward, and, as the boat keeled,
she suddenly lost her balance, grasped at the mast which she had let go,
missed it, and disappeared over the bows with a great splash. The boat
swung away from her, fortunately, otherwise she might have been
seriously hurt.

"Take the helm, Archie," shouted Will, as he tore off his shoes, and was
over after her in a twinkling. Cricket rose to the surface, and struck
out bravely, but her clothes hampered her, and she could do little more
than keep herself up. In a few moments Will reached her, and Archie
brought the boat around, so there were but a few strokes to swim before
they could reach the oar which Edna and Eunice had seized and held out.
By this they drew themselves up to the gunwale of the boat.

It all passed so quickly that in five minutes from the time when Auntie
Jean had first spoken to Cricket, the dripping adventurers were in the
boat again. There had been no real danger, for Cricket could easily have
kept herself up till one of the boys could come to her, but the children
felt very much excited, for all that, over the "rescue," as they called
it.

In the small quarters of a little catboat, it is not exactly pleasant
to have two dripping individuals as members of the crew, and the others
began to draw themselves, feet and all, up on to the seat.

"Now, water-babies," began Auntie Jean, but Archie interrupted:

"Do pitch them out again, and let them swim home. They'll swamp the boat
directly. Here, bail out, Edna," tossing her the sponge, which she
caught and threw at Cricket, saying, "I can't get down in all that
water. Your feet are wet, already, Cricket."

"It's too bad," said Cricket, meekly. "Couldn't you really tie a rope
around me, auntie, and drag me along? I wouldn't mind. I couldn't swim
all the way in, for I'd get tired, but I wouldn't mind being tied on
behind."

"You're pretty bad, but we won't make a tow of you this time," said
auntie, merrily. "I can't say what I'll do next time, though. Now we
must get off those wet clothes, and wring them out, and hang them up to
dry. You can put on your mackintosh."

Mackintoshes and shawls always formed part of the equipment of an all
day's sail, since at any time a squall might come up. Edna and Eunice
and Hilda held up a long shawl in a triangular fence around Cricket,
while she got out of most of her clothes. Auntie rubbed her dry, and
wrung out what she still had on, as best she could with another shawl,
and then she put on her mackintosh. Will had also been getting rid of
some of the superfluous water, but a boy's sailing dress is so
beautifully simple that a wetting more or less does not matter. He took
off his stockings, and hung them over the boom to dry, and presently
Cricket's dress and petticoats fluttered beside them.

"Regular canal-boat style. Family wash drying on deck," said Archie, and
then he hooted at Cricket as she appeared from behind the shawl. A
little figure draped in a mackintosh is not a model for an artist.

"That's very becoming, young one," said Archie. "You look as fat as a
match."

"A match for you, then," returned Cricket, serenely, for Archie had the
proportions of a hairpin.

"I want to call a meeting of the Echo Club, immediately," said Will,
standing up, "and I put the motion as president _pro tem_; that on any
expedition in the future, of which Miss Jean Ward, usually called
Cricket, is a member, that a wringing-machine be furnished and carried,
at the club's expense."

"Who would you have to poke fun at, if you didn't have me?" demanded
Cricket, quite undisturbed. "But I'll second the motion about the
wringing-machine. I wonder why you didn't get as wet as I did?"

Another shout at this.

"I only got a little damp on the outside," said Will, politely. "I'll
soon evaporate."

"You needn't all laugh," said Cricket, defensively. "I was in the water
longer than he was, and so I didn't suppose he'd had time to get as wet
through."

"I didn't," said Will, "only as far as my skin. I'm not porous."

They had been tacking all the time, back and forth, much to Hilda's
amazement, who could not understand how that crab-like motion would ever
bring them home. They were now coming past the Gurnet Lights.

"We can put in there, mother, if you like," suggested Archie, "and get
the mermaid dried off, if you think best."

"It's really not necessary. Cricket is rubbed pretty dry, and one
rarely takes cold in sea-water. Keep down in the bottom of the boat,
Cricket, out of the breeze as much as you can."

"I'm just thinking to myself," said Will, "that in five minutes you'll
be hunting for a breeze to sit in. It's certainly dying down."

"Will, if you becalm us out here in this broiling sun when you've
forgotten to bring the other oar to row with, I'll never forgive you,"
exclaimed Edna.

"I haven't the least desire to do it, my lady," said Will, scanning the
now cloudless sky, "but I think it's what we're in for. Have you
anything left to eat in case we make a night of it, mother?"

"A night of it?" cried Hilda, in dismay. "Where would we sleep?"

"All curled up in little bundles in the bottom of the boat," cut in
Archie. "It's not bad. Only it takes some time next day to get the kinks
out of your legs."

"He's teasing you, my dear," said Mrs. Somers. "We won't be here all
night, but it often happens that we are becalmed for several hours, and
I really don't enjoy the prospect. Come, Will, whistle up the breeze."

"It's Cricket that does that," said Archie; "she always scares the wind
into coming up immediately. There's a puff now. The very mention of
Cricket's whistling does the business."

But the wind only freshened for a moment, then died down, and in ten
minutes more they lay motionless on a glassy sea.

"Now here we'll stay," said Edna with a sigh, "until the sea-breeze
springs up this afternoon at four or five. What time is it now? Two
o'clock! Think of it!"

"The tide takes us along a little," said Mrs. Somers. "If we only had
the other oar now!"

"Scull," suggested Edna.

"Too much work," said Archie; but, nevertheless, he adjusted the oar at
the stern, and sculled a little. The boat moved very slowly forward.

"If we go six feet in an hour, how long will it take us to go seven
miles?" propounded Eunice.

"Those questions are too difficult to be answered off-hand," said Will,
sculling in his turn. "Sounds like Alice in Wonderland. If two boys eat
a turkey at Thanksgiving, how many girls will eat a plum-pudding at
Christmas?"

"I know a better one than that," put in Archie. "Two men set out
simultaneously, at different times, on a journey, both being unable to
travel. For two hours they kept ahead of each other, and then a
snow-storm came up, and they both lost their way. Query: Which got there
first?"

"How silly!" said Edna. "How could they set out simultaneously, at
different times, mamma?"

"That's the question for your deep brain, Miss Wiseacre," said Archie.
"Perhaps you're equal to this. If three men work all day on a fertile
farm, what is the logarithm?"

"The lager-in-'em?" echoed Cricket. "Depends on how much they drank."

Whereupon Mrs. Somers and the boys laughed themselves sore, and the
girls clamoured to know the joke.

"Cricket's a born joke," said Will, resuming his sculling. "You'll be
the death of me, young one."

"I always see jokes when there are any to see," Cricket answered, with
dignity. "You know I do, Mr. Will. I'm not just as worse as Edna."

"Just as bad, you mean," retorted Edna.

"Let's play some games, children," Mrs. Somers said, coming to the
rescue. The children were all fond of games.



CHAPTER XIX.

BECALMED.


"What shall it be first, then?" went on Auntie Jean, adjusting the
cushions behind her back and resting her umbrella against the rail.

"Teakettle," suggested Edna.

"What _is_ teakettle?" asked Hilda.

"Don't you know? We play it lots. Somebody goes out--"

"Into the water?" put in Archie. "Then Cricket is 'it,' I say."

"Well, of course, Archie, I was thinking of dry land. Somebody shuts up
her ears, then, and we choose a word. It must be one with two or three
meanings. Then, whoever is 'it,' begins to ask questions, and we answer,
only we put the word 'teakettle' in place of the real word. We can say
'teakettling,' you know, or 'teakettled,' if we want to. Who'll be 'it'
first?"

"I'd just as lief," said Eunice, going to the bow, and putting her
fingers in her ears, and burying her head in a cushion.

"What shall we choose for a word? It must have two or three meanings,
you know."

"_Sail_ would be very appropriate," suggested Will, who was still
laboriously sculling.

"Oh, yes. See, Hilda? There's to sail, and taking a sail, and a sale of
things."

"And the sail of the boat," said Archie.

"All ready, Eunice. Touch her, Archie. Begin, Eunice."

"The hardest part is to think of questions," said Eunice, turning around
and meditating. "Let me see. Auntie, when do you think we will get
home?"

"When we are on a teakettle, it is never safe to say," answered auntie.

"On a teakettle--on a boat--that doesn't fit," meditated Eunice. "Will,
why don't you make Archie scull now?"

"Because he's such a lazy beggar. When he goes teakettling, he won't do
anything else."

"Edna, is the moon made of green cheese?"

"What a hard question," groaned Edna. "What shall I say? If we
teakettled up there, perhaps we could find out."

"I can't guess it yet," said Eunice, thinking over this answer.
"Cricket, if you weren't a girl, what would you rather be?"

"I know--a boy," said Archie, quickly. "Wouldn't you, Miss Scricket?"

"No, I wouldn't, Mr. Archie. I would rather be a pig than a boy. A nice
fat pig, and then nobody would laugh at my 'knitting-needles.' That's
what papa calls my legs, always, auntie, you know, because they're _not_
fat, I know. He always wants mamma to knit with them, and all that
nonsense. It seems to amuse them very much," added Cricket, with a bored
air.

"You haven't teakettled once, child," said Eunice. "Oh, auntie, I must
just stop to tell you a funny story about Cricket. It was such a joke on
her. Once we were playing 'She comes, she comes.' You know that, don't
you? Somebody says, 'What does she come with?' and then you give the
first letter of the thing you've thought of. It was Cricket's turn, and
she--well, she _was_ rather a little girl--gave 'N. N.' for the
initials. We guessed and guessed, and had to give up, finally, and then
she piped up, 'It's what papa calls my legs,' and she meant
'knitting-needles.'"

"I was _very_ little," said Cricket, blushing and apologising. "It was
as much as three years ago. I haven't answered your question yet,
Eunice. I b'lieve I don't want to be a pig, after all, for in the fall
the farmer has a teakettle, and sells his pigs, and I'd have to go to
the butcher and be killed, and be cut up for sausage."

"I don't seem to get hold of it, yet," said Eunice, wrinkling her
forehead. "Hilda, how do you like Marbury?"

"I think it's perfectly lovely," declared Hilda, enthusiastically. "Oh,
I forgot to teakettle. I think teakettling is lovely, even if you do get
becalmed."

"Teakettling--sailing! Sail is the word," exclaimed Eunice, instantly.
"You gave it away, Hilda. I guessed it on you, so you'll have to go
out."

"I'll never be able to guess it in the world," said Hilda, looking
disappointed.

"I'll take your place," said Will, instantly. "It's about time that
Archie sculled. Take hold, old boy, and keep at it."

"Choose a hard one," said Eunice, when Will had duly stopped up his
ears. "How would _steal_ do?"

"Yes, or we might have _oar_ and _ore_," said Hilda.

"Scull and skull," said Archie, pensively.

"That's good," said auntie. "Or else bough, and bow of the boat, and
bow, to make a bow."

"Let's take that, for there are so many meanings," said Cricket.

"All right. Ready, Will," said Archie, kicking him.

Will uncovered his ears and began.

"Edna, how many sandwiches did you eat for luncheon?"

"I ought to make you a teakettle for asking me such an easy question,"
laughed Edna, "I ate two--I think."

"Whopper!" said Will. "Eunice, why is a crocodile like the North Pole?"

"Because there's a B in both," answered Eunice, promptly. "Will, ask
sensible questions, or I'll get a teakettle when I get home, and hit you
with it."

"That might be a stone, but stone won't do. Cricket, now think carefully
over your answer. If three men work all day on a fertile farm--"

"I'll get Archie to throw you over the teakettle this minute, if you
don't stop," threatened Cricket.

"Throw me over the teakettle--over the side--stern--bow. Bow. That's it,
young lady. Caught you on that."

And so the game progressed, till they had sufficiently teakettled.

"What next?" asked some one.

"Suppose we have tableaux, and begin with Cricket for Venus," said
Archie, looking at her with his head on one side.

"You needn't make fun of my looks, Mr. Archie. I know this mackintosh
isn't _very_ becoming, but I don't care for looks, anyway."

"You might as well intermingle a few looks if you can," said Eunice.
"And you do look too funny. Your clothes are dry, now, anyway. Hadn't
she better put them on, auntie?"

So the shawl screen was again put up, and the display of dress and
petticoats disappeared from the sail of the _Gentle Jane_.

"I feel more respectable," teased Archie, "now the weekly wash is taken
in. Hated to be taken for a canal-boat."

"No, we'd rather be taken for a tow," said Cricket, smartly, and Archie
fell back, rigid with mock admiration.

"Now, if we only had pencils and paper," said auntie, "there are many
games we might play."

"Oh, wait! wait!" exclaimed Cricket, jumping up suddenly and tumbling
over auntie in her excitement. She dived into the tiny hold, and
triumphantly brought out her mysterious newspaper package.

"I thought perhaps the girls would like to write on their stories for
the 'Echo,'" she explained eagerly, "so I brought all the blank books
and pencils. You can tear some leaves out of the back of mine and use
them."

There was much applause at Cricket's forethought.

"Wise child," said auntie, approvingly, "I am glad to see that 'though
on pleasure you are bent you have a'--literary mind. We might illustrate
proverbs."

"Oh, I can't draw," said Eunice, quickly.

"So much the better. You need not draw well, for it's much more fun if
you don't. I'll tear these leaves in two, Cricket, to make them long and
narrow. Now, we must each illustrate some proverb at the bottom of the
slip, or some line of poetry, if you prefer. Only label it, which it
is. When we are all done, we each pass our slips to the next one, who
writes what she thinks it is, and folds back the writing, and passes it
on. When we have each written our comments, they are opened and read.
Most of the fun comes from the different guesses, so you see you mustn't
draw _too_ well, and make your ideas too plain. Now, to work, all of
you. Here are your slips."

They all fell industriously to work, interrupting themselves with many a
groan and protest. When all were finished they passed on their slips to
the next one. There was much giggling at the first sight of some of the
very remarkable drawings.

"Now," said Auntie Jean, when the slips had all passed around, and had
returned to the hands of their respective artists, "each of you unfold
your papers, and read the comments aloud for the benefit of the company.
Cricket, you're the youngest. Suppose you begin."

Cricket giggled. Her picture consisted of a scraggy tree, with several
long wavy lines near its foot. In the branches of the tree were two
good-sized attempts at fowls of some description, while a third huge
creature was flying near. She read the comments in order.

    "There were three crows sat on a tree,
    And they were black as crows could be." AUNTIE.

    "The breaking waves dashed high,
    Caught the pilgrims on the fly."

("Couldn't think how that last line goes," murmured Archie, "but I'm
sure those are pilgrims on the fly.")

    "Two's a company, three is none." EDNA.

    "Good-morning! do you use Pears' Soap?" WILL.

    "Early bird catches the first worm." (Guess those
    things down there are worms.) HILDA.

    "Two birds in the bush are worth one in the hand."
    (I had to make the proverb fit the drawing.) EUNICE.

"And it's just as plain," announced Cricket, contemptuously. "Birds of a
feather flock together."

"Ho! what are those water streaks doing down there, then?" asked Archie.
"The things I thought were breaking waves."

"_I_ thought they were curly worms," added Hilda.

"They're not worms or water either. I just put some lines there to fill
up. I think I meant them for grass. How silly you all are. Now, auntie."

Auntie's picture was beautifully simple. It was nothing but an inclined
plane, with a round thing rolling down it. Of course everybody had
written, "A rolling stone gathers no moss."

"Not at all," answered auntie, coolly. "I thought you would all think
that, but it really is, 'Things are not what they seem.' It looks like a
stone, but it isn't. Now, Eunice."

Eunice had a remarkable sketch of a darkly-shaded spot, with a house
showing dimly through, and at one side a spiky sun was rising above a
quavering line, evidently meant for the horizon. There were various
guesses. "Any port in a storm." ("Which is the same as saying, any
guess, if you can't make the right one," murmured Will.)

"Rising Sun Stove Polish." "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath."
"Every cloud has a silver lining." ("That house is behind a cloud, isn't
it?" asked Cricket.)

"It's a _very_ easy one, too," said Eunice. "'It's always darkest just
before dawn.' Don't you see the sun just coming up?"

Archie, who drew beautifully, had made a really very clever little
sketch of a Spencerian pen, mounted on two thin legs, furnished with an
equally thin pair of arms, and a face as well, engaged in a boxing match
with a very plump and well-developed sword. In a second picture, the
sword was flat on the ground, while the pen was dancing away, grinning.
Of course this could be only, "The Pen is mightier than the Sword."

Hilda had drawn simply two long lines in perspective. As nobody could
make anything of them, the guesses were wild.

"Why, don't you see? Those two lines are a lane. 'It's a long lane that
has no turning.' That's the long lane. It has no turning," explained
Hilda. "I thought you would guess it the very first thing."

When the last of the guesses were read, auntie rose to rest herself from
a sitting position.

"Isn't there a bit of a breeze coming up?" she asked, shading her eyes
with her hand, to look across the glassy sea, in search of the faintest
sign of a ripple.

"Sorra a bit," said Archie. "Here, Will, you scull a while, and rest a
fellow. Hello! we're really getting along. See how far the Gurnet Lights
are behind us."

"Yes, but look at the distance ahead of us, to be sculled over yet,"
said Auntie Jean, "and here it is four o'clock," consulting her watch.
"Come, Archie, it's time to whistle up the wind."

"I will!" said Edna, breaking out again into her blackbird whistle.

Cricket listened in rapt admiration.

"Why _can't_ I do it?" she sighed.

"But, Mrs. Somers?" broke out Hilda, in amazement, "can they really
whistle up a breeze?"

"No, indeed, dear. It's only an old saying about sailors. The children
do it for fun when we're becalmed sometimes. Well, there's no signs of
it yet. I'll tell you what I'll do, children. While you're whistling up
the wind, I'll write an adjective story for you."

"Oh, that will be fun!" exclaimed one and all. All, that is, but Hilda,
who asked again:

"Now, what _is_ an adjective story?"

"I write a little story about anything," explained Mrs. Somers, giving
her pencils to Will to be sharpened, "and I leave a space before every
noun. When I have written it, you each give me adjectives in turn to
fill in the spaces, and I write them just as you supply them. Of course
they never fit, and a very funny hodge-podge is the result. Now, while
I'm writing you must all be thinking up a good supply of adjectives, for
I shall want a quantity."

So Auntie Jean took Cricket's blank-book and began to scribble; she
wrote busily for ten or fifteen minutes, and then announced she was
ready for the adjectives.

"I call it the 'Tale of the Shipwrecked Mariners,'" she said, when all
the adjectives were duly written in. "And now for the tale."

"Once upon a time, in the pathetic town of Marbury, there lived a green
and scrumptious lady with a wriggling troop of fantastic grandchildren,
who made her life miserable. First of all was the eldest, the awful and
weird William, who was quite intolerable. Next to him was the cute and
sublime Archie, who was always jolly and superstitious. They had a
sullen and sarcastic sister, the entrancing Edna, whom they delighted to
tease. One summer their delightful and sarcastic cousins, the mournful
and flowery Eunice, and the melodious Cricket ["Auntie! you put that
there on purpose," came reproachfully from the last-mentioned young
woman.

"No, I didn't, my dear. It really happened so."]

"The melodious Cricket, arrived to spend a long time with the dingy
Somers family, much to their enjoyment. After various adventures, their
ecstatic friend, the lively Hilda Mason, came to spend a few days. To
entertain her, one day, they took her out in a wizened boat to sail over
the garrulous bay. They dragged their silent auntie" [a howl] "with
them, promising her a talkative day. All went well at first, but
suddenly a gruesome storm arose, and beat upon their inky boat, which
began to leak. The musical crew were all much frightened, and tried to
bail out the ugly water, but it rose too fast, and soon the monkeyish
boat began to sink. After it had sunk through the water about a mile, it
struck plump on a rock, and then it glided into a dwarfish cave at the
bottom of the sea. The grumpy and genial Cricket immediately fell out of
the boat, in her surprise. Cunning Will jumped after her. The sugary
party had come to a mountainous spot down below the sea, and they found
a minute garden there, full of curly fruits. The aggravating Hilda, the
indefinite Eunice, and the smooth Edna, seeing the proper Cricket"
[another howl] "struggling in the water with the contrary Will,
immediately jumped out after them, leaving the rough Archie and forlorn
auntie in command of the boat. Suddenly a bold gnome popped up his
dainty head from behind a rock, saying, 'Welcome, Englishmen! You are in
the cave of accident. Look out for yourselves.' As he spoke, his watery
head fell off. He felt around but could not find it, since his eyes had
gone with his head, so he said, politely, 'Will some of you immense, raw
people pick up my jealous head for me, and kindly put it on?' Snub-nosed
Hilda" ["Ah, you've caught it now, young lady," from Archie] "being
nearest, handed him his head, which had rolled to her idolatrous feet.
The hysterical gnome immediately clapped it on--wrong side before.
'Never mind,' he said. 'Now I can go _to_ school, or _from_ school, just
as I like, and nobody will ever know what I'm doing.' The dumpy party
then went on their way exploring, leaving the squealing Archie and
uncanny auntie calling after them, and weeping unmixed tears of terror,
lest by some accident they should never come back. The noble gnome went
along in front of them, when suddenly he began walking right up, in the
water. When the others came up to the same place, to their surprise,
they found themselves doing the same thing. They couldn't possibly stay
on the ground. 'I don't want to go up,' said erratic Cricket, kicking,
and shamefaced Will called to the sparkling gnome, to know what was the
matter. 'Nothing at all,' he called back, cheerfully, 'only gravity
doesn't happen to act just there. Sometimes it doesn't and then you're
just as likely to go somewhere else.'

"'Let's go back!' said prim Eunice.

"'Very well. There's nowhere to go but back,' called back the rickety
gnome. 'Stand on your heads, and go the other way.'

"The humble party upset themselves, and got along very nicely, and soon
found themselves on the ground again.

"'I don't like to walk all sorts of ways,' said flighty Hilda. 'I like
to go on my grateful feet best.' So they decided to go back to the boat
as best they could. But when they came to the suave boat it wasn't
there, for the ground had opened accidentally, and cowardly Archie and
generous auntie had fallen right through the earth, to China, probably,
if nothing happened to stop them. This was quite a disappointment to the
naughty party, who didn't know what to do next. So they decided to do
nothing at all, and, as far as the present dramatic and inconvenient
historian knows, that is just what they are doing at the present time.
Here ends the swaggering story of the mellow and gruff shipwrecked
mariners."

"Is that all?" "What fun!" "Didn't the adjectives come in funny!" "Write
another one!" came the various comments.

"Hurrah for Mumsey!" shouted Archie. "You're a regular Alice in
Wonderland."

"I wish I were, and I would raise the wind," said Auntie Jean.

"Slang, madam!" both her sons instantly announced.

"Is it? Then I beg its pardon, and yours, and everybody's," answered
Auntie Jean, promptly. "No, Edna, I will _not_ write another one, till
the next time we are becalmed. Isn't there a sign of a breeze, Will?"

"None yet, but we are making way slowly, with the sculling and the
tide. We're half across the bay now."

"Guess this rebus," said Cricket, presenting a paper on which she had
been drawing for a moment. There was a capital letter B,--a very wild
and inebriated looking letter it was, too,--and beside it was another B,
with beautiful, regular curves, lying flat on its back.

"It's one word," hinted Cricket.

    "'How doth the little busy B
      Improve each shining hour,'"

suggested Auntie Jean, instantly.

"No, that's good, but it isn't right; it's what we are now."

"B-calmed," said Archie. "And you're right. That B needed calming badly,
you little Gloriana McQuirk." For every separate hair of Cricket's curly
crop, having been wet in her involuntary bath, and afterward rubbed dry,
stood out in a separate and distinct curl from all the others, making a
veritable halo around her head.

"This is the way you look, Cricket," said Archie, seizing a pencil, and
in a moment his clever fingers had drawn a head in which nothing was to
be seen save a very wide smile, and a cloud of hair.

"I look very well, then," said Cricket, calmly. "It's like all those
pictures in papa's 'Paradise Lost,' where the angels all have halos, you
know. It would be very convenient to have a halo, really, wouldn't it,
auntie? A saint could fry his own eggs right on his halo, for instance,
if he wanted to, couldn't he?"

"That _would_ be a practical use for a halo," laughed auntie. "And that
brings up a suggestion of more lunch. Let us eat up the fragments. It's
five o'clock."

"And here's a bit of a breeze coming," said Will, suddenly, wetting his
finger, and holding it up. "Whoop-la! She's coming! Let's give her the
call!" And all the vigorous young lungs joined in a wild salute of
"Wah-who-wah! wah-who-wah! Come, little breezes! wah-who-wah!"

"I'll stop sculling, and eat in comfort now," said Will, shipping his
oar, and taking a sandwich. "She's safe to come, now."

And the breeze did not belie his confidence, for in ten minutes more the
sail began to flap, and then to fill. The boat instantly responded, and
Archie took the helm. The breeze steadily freshened, and in two minutes
more the _Gentle Jane_ was skimming along like a bird. And so, not long
after six, they landed at the dock.



CHAPTER XX.

A NEW HIDING-PLACE.


The four girls were in an unusually energetic frame of mind the next
day, owing to so many hours confinement on the sailboat.

"Let's do something wild to-day," said Cricket, at the breakfast-table.
"I'd like to ride a crazy horse."

"Are you tired of this world?" asked Will. "If you are, I'll go and
borrow Mr. Gates's Josephus,--his new horse. He's only half broken, and
that's the wrong half."

"Cricket, I put my foot down on your doing anything of the kind," said
auntie, in alarm, not feeling at all sure of Cricket. "Remember you're
strictly forbidden to mount anything but Mopsie."

"And the sawhorse?" broke in Archie.

"Yes, I'll except the sawhorse," conceded his mother.

"Why, auntie, I rode Columbus all around the field, bareback, the other
day," said Cricket. "I didn't know you didn't want me to."

"_Columbus!_ you crazy child! He's not at all safe even for a man to
ride him. Understand, my dear, that's tabooed."

"Oh, auntie!" cried Cricket, clasping her hands, tragically, "If you've
any filial affection for me, you won't say that! I do so love to ride a
horse bareback. Mopsie is dear, but I like something _fiercer_."

"If you have any filial affection for _me_, my dear," returned auntie,
laughing, "you will say no more about it. You know I've undertaken to
restore all you children, as uninjured as possible, to your father and
mother. Riding half-broken horses bareback is not exactly the safest
thing in the world."

"What let's do, then?" asked Edna.

"I'm going to take grandma for a nice long ride after breakfast. Suppose
two of you come with me, and the other two ride or drive Mopsie and
Charcoal," proposed auntie.

"All right. Suppose you and I go in the carriage, Eunice," said Edna,
"and let the children take the ponies."

"The children, indeed!" said Hilda, bridling. "I'm as old as you, Edna."

"Cricket's the only trundle-bed trash," said Archie, pulling her hair.

"Goodness me, auntie, if you'd whipped him a little when _he_ was
trundle-bed trash, he might have been very much nicer now," said
Cricket, pulling away, and, by her hasty movement, upsetting her glass
of milk. "There, now! I've done it again. _Please_ excuse me, auntie."

"It was not your fault, dear. It's that bad boy of mine that must be
blamed. I read a story a little while ago of a plan where all the small
boys were put into a barrel when they were six, and fed and educated
through the bung-hole, and not let out till they were twenty-one. Would
you like to live there?"

"Oh, how lovely!" sighed Edna. "Let's go there! Think of having no one
to tease you."

"Or pull your hair," said Cricket, feelingly.

"Or call you names," said Hilda, severely.

"Or hide your things," added Eunice, reproachfully.

"Or take you sailing, or teach you to wrestle, or write things for your
old 'Echo,' or harness the ponies when Luke is not round, and look out
for you generally," said Archie, in a breath. "If boys are barrelled in
that place, girls ought to be--"

"Hung," said Edna, sweetly. "Please pass me the syrup."

"Since you've settled that question," said auntie, smiling, "shall we
arrange it that Eunice and Edna go with us, and Cricket and Hilda ride
the ponies? Or would you rather drive, Hilda?"

"I'll ride with Cricket, please," said Hilda.

"We'll have a splendid scamper, then," said Cricket. "Oh, Hilda! do you
know, I've found out lately how to make Mopsie go up on his hind legs
and walk around with me on his back. It's lots of fun and I don't fall
off a bit, auntie."

"That seems rather dangerous, my dear," said auntie, looking disturbed.
"When did you learn?"

"There's really not any danger, I think, mother," said Will. "Mopsie's
such a gentle little chap and so well trained. He walks around on his
hind legs as smoothly as Charcoal on four, and comes down so gently that
you'd hardly know it. He knows just how."

"And if I fall off," said Cricket, "there isn't very far to fall, you
know."

"Oh, girls!" said Eunice, suddenly changing the subject, "don't forget
there is the meeting of the 'Echo Club' at three this afternoon, to
read the 'Echo.' Do you want to hear it again, auntie?"

"To be sure I do. I want to know all about your budding geniuses. And it
will amuse grandma, too. Meet on the piazza. And can't you make the hour
four o'clock to suit us old ladies, that like a nap after luncheon?"

"Of course we will. I'm president, and I'll appoint the meeting at four.
Can we be excused now, auntie? We will be round somewhere when you're
ready to go to ride. I've got to do a little work on the 'Echo' yet. It
isn't quite finished."

Even the long scamper on the ponies, of two or three hours, failed to
exhaust Cricket's energy, and when they returned she wanted Hilda to go
for a row with her. Hilda flatly refused.

"You _are_ the most untiresome creature," she said. "I should think
you'd be ready to drop. I am, I know. I'm going to get into the hammock,
and I'm not going to stir till dinner-time. Do come and sit down
yourself, and rest."

"Sit down and rest," repeated Cricket, with much scorn. "As if a little
ride like that tired me. Well, if you won't go to row, come to walk!"

"I'm going to sit still, I say," returned Hilda, firmly, seating
herself comfortably in the hammock. "I'll row this afternoon, perhaps,
if it isn't too hot. Here come Eunice and Edna. Do sit down, Cricket,
and be sensible."

"If I sat down I'd be insensible," answered Cricket, trying to sit
cross-legged on the piazza-rail. "There's old Billy! I'll take him for a
row," and Cricket, tipping herself sideways, alighted on her feet on the
ground below, and ran off.

"Such a child," sighed Hilda, with the air of forty years. "She is
reprehensible!" aiming at irrepressible.

Eunice and Edna joined her on the piazza.

"Where is Cricket?" Eunice asked.

"She's rampaging off," said Hilda. "I'm so hot that I don't know what to
do, and there's Cricket calmly going out on that scorching water. Look
at her, now!"

The girls followed Hilda's indignant finger, which pointed to where
Cricket, having adjusted old Billy to her satisfaction in the stern, was
pushing off the boat. The tide was nearly out, and in another half-hour
the flats would be bare.

[Illustration: "CRICKET SAT DOWN ON THE BEACH WITH THE CHILDREN"]

"I wonder if she'll get stuck again," said Edna, with interest,
shading her eyes to look. "Cricket! Cricket! don't--forget--the--tide!"
she called, making a speaking-tube of her hands.

"No," called Cricket, in reply, "I'm only going a little distance, just
for exercise."

"For exercise!" groaned Hilda, sinking down in her hammock.

"For exercise!" echoed Edna, subsiding at full length in a
steamer-chair.

"For exercise!" said Eunice, briskly, looking half inclined to follow
her, when Edna pulled her down beside her.

"No, you don't want to go at all. Cricket will be back in a few moments.
She can't go far, on account of the tide."

"I must finish my 'Echo,' any way," said Eunice, remembering her
editorial duties, and vanishing into the house to get her materials.

It was not long before Cricket turned and pulled in. The children were
on the beach with Eliza, and Cricket sat down on the sand with them,
after landing, digging and laughing, as if she were six years old
herself. Presently they all jumped up, and ran laughing and shouting
after her.

"Come on, girls, and play 'Tick-den,'" called Cricket, as she passed.

"Come and sit down," chorused the girls, but Cricket laughed and ran on,
the twins tagging after her, and Kenneth struggling in the rear.

"Tick-den" is a local variation of the time-honoured "hide-and-go-seek."
There is not much fun in it when there are only three playing,
especially when two of the three have very short legs, but Cricket
seemed to find a certain amount of amusement in it, as she did in
everything. The other girls made remarks of withering scorn to her, as
she flew by, but Cricket only laughed and tossed back her curly head,
and ran on.

At last there was a longer disappearance than usual. After a time Zaidee
and Helen, with Kenneth lagging after, came disconsolately around to the
front piazza. Zaidee's soft, silky, black hair lay in wet streaks,
plastered down on her forehead, while Helen's golden locks were as
tightly curled as grape-tendrils.

"We can't find Cricket any more, for she's runned away," announced
Zaidee, aggrieved.

"We've hunted and hunted," said Helen. "We heard her calling once, but
when we got where she was, she wasn't there any more."

"She'll be back in a moment," said Eunice, mopping off the little hot
head with a practised hand. "You sit still and get cool. Really, 'Liza
ought not to let you run around this way, in the hot sun."

"Just what I came out to say," said auntie, appearing in the doorway. "I
came down to tell you, my dear little girls, that it is much too hot to
run around this way any more. You must sit down and rest till after
dinner. Where's Cricket?"

"She's hided, and we can't find her anywhere," repeated Zaidee.

"She will come out presently, when she finds you aren't looking for her
any more," said auntie, sitting down. "How fares our noble editor?"

"Your noble editor has most finished," said Eunice, surveying, with
pride, her neatly printed pages. "If you could only stay next week,
Hilda, we'd let you print a number."

"I would just as soon as not," said Hilda. "I can print very nicely. I'd
like to. I'd put big, beautiful fancy capitals for the 'Echo,' and the
names of the stories in fancy capitals also, and I'd draw tail-pieces."

Eunice and Edna exchanged glances.

"It's a very great pity you can't stay," said Edna, with marked
politeness. "We can't do tail-pieces." The two little girls, Hilda and
Edna, were just enough alike to clash very often, though Edna was never
given to bragging, as Hilda sometimes was, and she was much more
unselfish.

"I can draw very well," said Hilda, serenely, and with perfect truth.
Like Edna, she had a dainty touch.

The minutes passed by, and still Cricket did not appear. Presently
auntie raised her head, and listened.

"I thought I heard Cricket calling," she said, "but I don't hear it
again."

A moment later, Eunice suddenly said:

"There certainly is some one calling. Is it Cricket?" She stood up to
listen better. A muffled cry was certainly heard.

"Children! Eunice!"

Eunice shot off the piazza.

"Yes, Cricket, where are you?" running around the house. In a few
moments she reappeared from the other side.

"Where can she be? I ran all around the barn, too. Hark! there it is
again! Cricket! where are you?"

And again every one heard the same muffled cry, "Eunice!"

"Now it sounds _in_ the house," said Mrs. Somers, going in.

They all joined in the search, running in every direction, and trying to
locate the indistinct sounds. She was evidently in trouble, but they
could not imagine why she did not tell them where she was. Somebody
suggested the garret, and they all trooped up there and searched every
corner in vain. Then closets, even to the rubbers-closet under the
stairs, were investigated. If they stood inside the house, her call
seemed to come from outside. If they went out, she seemed to be calling
from inside. After the barn and woodshed were searched, there was really
no place for her to conceal herself in.

"This is certainly the strangest thing!" said Auntie Jean, at last in
despair. "Cricket, dear child, where _are_ you?" looking up at the
trees.

"I don't know!" wailed a voice so near them that they all jumped. They
were near the open cellar window, where the coal was put in.

"Down cellar!" cried Eunice, darting away. "She must be caught
somewhere!"

But down cellar, the sounds, though still audible, were more vague than
ever.

"It really sounds in the furnace," suggested Eunice, hopefully, going
forward. She threw open the door, rather expecting to see Cricket
crouching in a bunch in the fire-box. But no! it was guiltless of
Cricket, as every other place had been.

"This is getting positively uncanny," exclaimed auntie, when suddenly a
tremendous pounding that seemed to come from their very feet was heard.
Hilda grew pale, Edna clung to her mother, Zaidee began to roar, and
Helen to whimper, while Eunice sprang forward, listening intently.

"Do that again, Cricket," she said, and immediately the pounding was
repeated.

"If I had ever heard of an underground passage here, I should think she
was in that," said auntie, looking puzzled. "If it were Governor
Winthrop's house, all could be explained. Cricket, in the name of all
that is weird, where are you?"

"I don't know," came in sepulchral tones. "I seem to be walled up!"

"Oh!" shrieked Hilda, clutching Mrs. Somers' other hand.

"Are you underground? Shall we dig you out?" called auntie.

Eunice stood turning her head from side to side, like a dog. Then she
made a rush for a large closet at one side of the cellar. It was nearly
empty except for a few stone jars.

"I looked in there once," said auntie, but as Eunice opened the door,
the pounding began again, apparently directly back of it.

"But the back of the closet is against the cellar wall," said Auntie
Jean in new bewilderment, but at the very moment, Cricket's voice,
clearer now and more distinct, announced, "I'm here," with a vigorous
kick, to emphasize her words. "_Can't_ you get me out? I'm nearly dead."

"But _what_ are you in, and how in the name of wonder did you get
there?" said Auntie Jean, more puzzled than ever, surveying the blank
boards before her. "Eunice, run and find Luke, and tell him to come
here. Are you against the cellar wall, Cricket?"

"I don't seem to know where I am," answered Cricket, half-laughing.
"I've fallen into something."

In a few minutes Eunice returned with Luke. The moment he looked in at
the open closet door, he burst into a loud guffaw, slapping his thigh
with his hand.

"She's in the cold-air box, by gosh!"

"The cold-air box!" echoed everybody in varying intonations. It was even
so. The old house had an unusually deep cellar. When the furnace had
been put into the house a few years before, the cold-air box had to go
in as best it could. It happened to be more convenient to build it down
the back of an unused closet which already had an opening for a window
at the level of the ground. So the back of the closet had been partioned
off for it, and it was continued under the cemented floor to the
furnace. Luke had lately been doing something to it, so both the cover
that shuts off the cold air was out, and also the wire-netting, that
went over the window.

Cricket seeing the window from the outside, took it for granted that it
opened into the coal-bin, and, in her heedless fashion, backed hastily
through, as she was looking for a good place to hide in, meaning to
swing down by her hands, and drop on her feet. She _did_ drop, what to
her surprise seemed about to the middle of the earth, and it really was
some distance. The cellar, as I said, was unusually deep, and Cricket
was only four feet high. Every one knows how surprising it is to come
down even a foot or two lower than we expect, and the swift, long drop,
when she thought she must be already near the cellar bottom, not only
startled, but slightly stunned her for a few moments. When she opened
her eyes after the black, dizzy whirl that lasted for several minutes,
she could not imagine what sort of a place she was in. The light above
her showed her a square, well-like tunnel, set up on end, and about two
feet square, with the window ledge five feet higher than her head. At
first she tried to climb up the wall by bracing herself on opposite
sides of it, but her muscles were not quite equal to this. It was not
until it slowly dawned on her that she could not possibly get out by her
own efforts, that she began to call. Of course her voice was carried by
the furnace pipes all over the house, making it impossible to locate the
sound.

"There's a big hole down by my feet," Cricket called out, when she heard
them debating as to the best way to get her out. "Can't I crawl through
that and come out somewhere?"

"You'd come out in the furnace, Miss," said Luke, "and you'd get stuck
in the bend. I'll haul you up from the outside."

They all went outside, while Luke tried to reach down to her, but their
hands could not make connections.

"Let a ladder down," said Eunice, but there was not room for both a
ladder and Cricket, even if one could have been put down.

"Let a rope down, and tie it around her waist," said Luke, "and I'll
haul it up."

"I'm afraid that would hurt her," said auntie, anxiously.

Just then Will and Archie arrived on the scene, and joined the group
around the window.

"What's up? caught a burglar down there?" asked Will.

"Yes, one caught in the very act. Question is, getting it up."

"Will, is that you?" called a forlorn voice from the depths. "Do, for
goodness sake, get me out of this hole."

Archie instantly poked his head through the opening, and looked down at
her.

"Cricket, by jingo! How's the weather down there?"

"Don't tease now, Arch," begged Cricket. "Get me up, for I'm nearly dead
down here."

"Why don't you knock away some of the boards from the partition
down-stairs?" asked Will. "It wouldn't take a moment. Where's the axe,
Luke?"

"Will, you're the Lady from Philadelphia," exclaimed his mother. "Of
course we can."

And in ten minutes more Cricket was a free individual again, and quite
ready to attack their belated dinner.



CHAPTER XXI.

BILLY'S PRAYER.


A little procession trailed slowly across the orchard, towards the
cottage of the poor old woman in whom grandma was so much interested.
The procession consisted of Hilda and Cricket, the latter walking very
sedately along, because she had in charge a dish of something good to
eat for the old woman; then the twins, with their arms tight around each
other's necks, as usual; then old Billy, shambling along, his gaunt
figure a little bent forward, and his hands clasped behind his back,
under his coat tails, as he generally walked. Last of all came George
W., stepping daintily along, his tail arching high over his back, his
head cocked a little on one side, like a dog's, and his ears briskly
erect.

George was not an invited member of the party, but from his favorite
perch, the roof of the well-house--for George W. was always of an
aspiring mind--having seen the party set out, he immediately scrambled
down and trotted after. It was some time before he was discovered; not,
indeed, till an apple, tumbling down from a branch of a tree, chanced to
hit the very tip of his little gray nose. Thereupon he uttered a
surprised "me-ow," with an accent that belonged to George W. alone.

"There's that cat, coming along, too," observed Hilda, "isn't he a
little tag-tail?"

"See how pretty Martha looks waving over his back like an ostrich
feather!" said Cricket, in reply, making a dive for her pet with her one
free hand, and nearly meeting with an accident, for George W. preferred
walking on his own four legs just then, and darted past her.

"There! you nearly lost your blanc-mange off the dish!" cried Hilda,
rescuing it. "I knew I'd better carry it!"

"It's all right," said Cricket, hastily straightening it. "I'll carry
it. We go this way now," as they turned out of the orchard into a lane.
Grandma's poor woman, "Marm Plunkett," as the whole neighbourhood called
her, was a forlorn old creature, nearly crippled with rheumatism, who
lived in a tiny cottage in the fields, half a mile from anybody. She had
a daughter who had to go to work nearly every day to earn money to
support them both, so the old mother was alone most of the time. She
had worked a good deal for Mrs. Maxwell, when she was strong, and Mrs.
Maxwell did much to make her comfortable now. Edna had often been there,
and lately the twins had been over with Eliza, to take things to her,
since grandma had been disabled, but it chanced that Cricket had never
been over there before.

The poor old soul was delighted to see them coming. The cottage was in
such a lonely place that few persons came within sight of the windows.

"You're as welcome as the flowers in May," quavered the thin old voice,
as the children went in. "I've been a-settin' here just a-pinin' fer
some one to come along to visit with me a spell. Take cheers, won't you?
Leastways, take what cheers there be."

There were only two to take, and one of them was seatless. Hilda dropped
into the whole one. Billy sat down on the doorstep. The twins sat upon
the board edge of the bottomless chair. Cricket remained standing, with
the blanc-mange still in her hand. All of them, shy, as children always
are in the presence of poverty and sickness, stared helplessly about.

"We've brought you some blanc-mange, marm--I mean Mrs. Plunkett"--for
grandma did not like them to use the village nickname--said Cricket,
after a moment, "and Auntie Jean will be here to-morrow."

"An' it's a pretty-spoken lady she is," answered Marm Plunkett. "But
it's Mis' Maxwell that I allers wants ter see most. When'll she git to
see me agin?"

Cricket coloured furiously.

"Grandma's lame, now," she said, speaking up bravely. "I was wrestling
with her, and I threw her, and sprained her ankle. She can't stand on it
much yet."

"Good Land o' Goshen! a-wrestlin' with Mis' Maxwell! you little snip of
a gal! and throwed her! for goodness' sake! deary me! throwed her!"

"Yes," said Cricket, with the air of confessing to a murder, as she set
down the blanc-mange. "I _don't_ see how I could have done it. I just
twisted my foot around her ankle. I was just as much surprised as if
the--the church had tumbled over. It was a week ago Monday."

"Jest to think on 't! I never heerd the beat o' that! An' nobody hain't
told me of it, nuther. 'Lizy was here yestiddy, and she hain't never
let on a word."

"I guess grandma told her not to," said Cricket, blushing again.

"Let me see," said the old woman, suddenly, bending forward and peering
into her face. "Which one be you? You ain't Miss Edny. Be you Miss
Eunice?"

"I'm Cricket," said that young lady, quite at her ease now. "Most
probably you've never heard of me before. We're all grandma's
grandchildren, and are spending the summer here. At least, we're all
grandchildren but Hilda. She's visiting me. She is going home to-morrow,
and I'm awfully sorry."

Marm Plunkett paid no attention to the end of this speech. She was
bending eagerly forward, looking at Cricket through her big steel-bowed
glasses.

"Have--I--seen--Miss--Cricket! Have--I--seen--her!" came slowly from the
old woman's lips, as she clasped her hands over her staff, still gazing
at her as if she were a rare, wild animal. Cricket felt somewhat
disconcerted.

"Yes, I'm Cricket," she repeated, uncomfortably, feeling guilty of
something. She felt as if she were confessing to being an alligator,
for instance.

Mrs. Maxwell had often amused the old woman by tales of her
grandchildren, and as Cricket always had more accidents and disasters
than all the rest of the family put together, she had naturally figured
largely in her grandmother's stories.

"Have--I--seen--Miss--Cricket!" repeated the old woman, stretching out
her hand as if she wanted to touch her to make sure she was flesh and
blood. Cricket went towards her, rather reluctantly. Marm Plunkett laid
her shaking claws on her hands, felt of her arms, and even laid the
point of her withered finger in the dimple of the round, pink cheek.
Cricket winced. She felt as if she were a chicken, which the cook was
trying, to see if it were tender.

"I--I--didn't know you knew me," she said, trying to be polite and not
pull away.

"I--_have_--seen--Miss--Cricket," declared Marm Plunkett, triumphantly,
at last. "Who'd 'a' thought it! She's come to see me. Won't Cindy be
glad an' proud to hear of this honour."

"Dear me!" said Cricket, trying not to laugh. "I'd have come before, if
I'd known you'd wanted to see me so much."

"Would you really, my pretty? Now, ain't that sweet of her?"
admiringly, to Hilda.

Hilda sat looking on in dumb amazement. She was so accustomed to feeling
a little superior to Cricket, on account of her orderliness and
generally good behaviour, that she was struck with surprise at the old
woman's joy over seeing her little friend, while she sat by unnoticed.
She did not know how many a laugh and pleasant hour the stories of
Cricket's mishaps had given the lonely old woman.

"Yer favour yer ma, I see," said Marm Plunkett, still holding Cricket's
sleeve. "Dear! dear! she was a pretty one, that she was! You've got
shiny eyes like her'n, but yer hair's a mite darker, ain't it? My! ain't
them curls harndsome!" touching very gently one of the soft rings of
Cricket's short hair. It was never regularly curled, but had a thorough
brushing given it by Eliza every morning, and, five minutes after, the
dampness or the summer heat made her like a Gloriana McQuirk.

Cricket looked dreadfully embarrassed, and hadn't the least idea what to
say to this peculiar old woman, who repeated, softly, with no eyes for
the rest:

"Have--I--seen--Miss--Cricket!"

Fortunately, here a howl from Zaidee created a diversion. She had pushed
herself too far back on the bottomless chair, and had suddenly doubled
up like a jack-knife into the hole. As Hilda and Cricket hastily turned,
nothing was visible but a pair of kicking feet, for her little short
petticoats had fallen back over her head, entirely extinguishing her.
Helen instantly lifted up her voice and wept.

Cricket seized Zaidee's feet and Hilda her shoulders, and together they
tried to pull her up. But she was a plump little thing, and was so
firmly wedged in, that the chair rose as they pulled her.

"Billy, come hold the chair down, please," called Cricket. So, with
Billy to brace his huge foot on the round of the chair, and to hold down
the back with his hands, Cricket and Hilda, with another vigorous pull,
managed to undouble Zaidee.

Marm Plunkett had been sitting in a state of great excitement, while the
rescue was going on, and leaned back with a sigh of relief when the
little girl was finally straightened out. Zaidee took it very
philosophically.

"Stop crying, Helen," she said, "you are such a cry-baby. This is a
very funny chair, Marm Plunkett. How do people sit down on it? Do you
like it that way? I 'xpect I'm so little that I can't keep on the
outside of it. I guess I don't want to sit down any more, any way."

Marm Plunkett cackled a thin, high laugh.

"Ef children don't beat the Dutch! Wisht I hed some a-runnin' in an' out
to kinder chirk me up a bit when Cindy's away."

"I want a drink, please," announced Zaidee.

"Bless yer leetle heart! You shall hev a drink right outen the northeast
corner of our well, where it's coldest. Take the dipper, Billy, an' give
the leetle dears a good cold drink all around."

"I want one, too," said Cricket, and all the children trooped after
Billy.

The well had the old-fashioned well-sweep.

It was always a mysterious delight to the children to see the water
drawn from one of these, as the great end went slowly up and the bucket
dipped, and then came down again with a stately, dignified sweep.

Cricket darted forward.

"I've always wanted to ride up on that end," she said, to herself, "and
now I'm going to."

Quick as a flash she had jumped astride the end, grasping the pole with
both hands. George W. instantly sprang lightly up in front of her, just
out of her reach, poising himself with "Martha" arching over his back.
The twins and Hilda, hanging over the edge and looking down on the mossy
stones, did not notice her.

"Get it out of the northeast corner, she said," ordered Zaidee. "Which
is the northeast corner, Billy? Is it where the water comes in? Billy,
there aren't any corners. It's all round."

Billy was tugging at the slender pole that held the bucket.

"Goes down hard enough. Seems to want ilin' or suthin'. Land o' Jiminy!"
He chanced to turn his head and saw Cricket calmly ascending as the pole
went higher and higher. It was a wonder he did not lose his hold.

"Don't let go, Billy," Cricket screamed. "If you do, I'll go
_kerflump_."

Billy grasped the pole tighter.

"You'll--you'll fall," he stammered.

"Course I will if you let go. Go on! Let the bucket down. I'm having a
fine ride. Do you like it, George Washington?"

George Washington walked a step or two further down the beam. He was not
at all sure he _did_ like it. As there did not seem to be room enough
for him to turn around and run back to Cricket, as he very much wanted
to do, he stood still, mewing uncertainly. Billy, in agony of soul, but
obedient as ever, lowered the pole carefully, casting reproachful
glances over his shoulder. Hilda and the twins stood in fascinated
silence, looking at Cricket getting such a beautiful high ride. As for
George Washington, as the pole slanted more and more, making his head
lower and his rear higher, he made a few despairing steps forward. Lower
went the bucket, and George W.'s Martha lost her proud arch, and George
stuck his claws deep into the wood.

"Oh-ee!" squealed Cricket, suddenly beginning to feel slightly
uncomfortable herself. The ground looked very far below her, and she
began to feel as if she were pitching headforemost. She held on with her
hands, as tightly as George Washington did with his claws. Then the
bucket hit the water, splash. Dipping it made the big pole dance a
little.

"Oh-ee," squealed Cricket, again, clinging tighter. "Hurry up, Billy,
bring me down."

"Miau-au," wailed George Washington, suddenly, giving a mighty spring of
desperation. Alas! he missed his calculation, if he had time to make
any, and disappeared from the eyes of the children into the dark depths
of the well. Cricket, forgetting her own precarious position,
involuntarily gave a little grasp after him, thus losing her own hold,
lost her balance, and over she went,--and if she had fallen that fifteen
feet to the hard ground below, it might have brought to a sudden end her
summer at Marbury.

As it fortunately happened, however, she caught at the pole as she went
over, grasped it, and hung suspended by her strong little hands.
Frightened Billy had been holding the smaller pole all this time, in a
vise-like grip.

"Let me down!" screamed Cricket. "Carefully, Billy!" and Billy, stiff
with terror, nevertheless had the sense to obey. He raised the small
pole steadily, lest the other, with Cricket's added weight, should come
down too fast. In a moment more she was near enough to the ground to
drop lightly down.

A tremendous splashing and mewing had been going on in the well, but the
children had been too much absorbed in Cricket to notice it.

"'Tisn't as much fun as I thought it would be," was all she said, as
she darted forward to look down the well after her pet. "Let the bucket
down again, Billy, and see if he'll cling to it. Oh, you poor, poor
George Washington. Billy, do hurry up! Why, he'll _drown_."

But Billy had given out. He was so thoroughly frightened when he
discovered Cricket on her lofty perch, that, now that she was safely
down, he was shaking like a leaf. Cricket pushed him unceremoniously
away, as she peered down.

George Washington looked like a good-sized muskrat, as they saw him
clinging to the wet, mossy stones, meowing pitifully. He was either too
frightened or too cold to make any effort to climb up. Perhaps he could
not have done so anyway. Cricket lowered the bucket again herself, till
it struck the water. The splash seemed to frighten George Washington
only the more, for his cries were redoubled.

"What a _stupid_ cat!" cried Hilda. "Why doesn't he take hold and come
up?"

"He's frightened to death down there in the cold. He's _never_ stupid,
are you, George W.? I'm _so_ afraid he'll die of getting wet and cold
before we can save him!" cried Cricket, anxiously, flopping the bucket
about. "Do take hold of it, George! dear George, do!"

But Cricket's most coaxing tones availed nothing. George only meowed and
meowed in accents that grew more pitiful every minute.

"Do run and tell Marm Plunkett that the kitten's in the well, Hilda,"
said Cricket, at last. "Perhaps she'll know something to do. Look out,
children! don't lean over so far, else the first thing you know you'll
be down there, too. Oh, George Washington, please take hold!"

Hilda ran off, and came back a moment later with rather a scared face.

"I told her, Cricket, and what do you think she said? That we must be
sure not to let it die there, 'cause it would poison the water! She
seemed dreadfully frightened about it, and tried to get up, but of
course she couldn't, and then she said--she said--she'd _pray_ for us."
Hilda's voice sank to an awed whisper. Cricket looked blank.

Billy caught up the word eagerly.

"Yes, yes, children, that's right o' Marm Plunkett. It's allers good to
pray," and down went simple old Billy on his knees. "You keep on
a-danglin' that ere bucket, and I'll pray fur ye, young uns. That'll
fetch him." He clasped his hands and shut his earnest eyes.

The children stood in awed silence. Billy, swaying back and forth in his
eagerness, began in a high-keyed voice, sounding unlike his ordinary
tones:

    "'How dothe the little busy bee
        Improve each shining hour;
      And gather honey all the day
        From every fragrant flower'--Amen."

Poor old Billy! this scrap of a rhyme, learned in his far-away boyhood,
was the one bit that had stuck in his clouded mind all these years, and
had served this pious soul for a prayer ever since. Every night,
kneeling reverently by his bedside, he had said it, and every morning
when he arose; only then he added the petition, "God bless Mrs. Maxwell,
and make Billy good."

Cricket and Hilda, too much amazed to speak, but too much impressed
with Billy's earnestness to laugh, stood stock-still as they were; Hilda
in the act of stretching out her hands to draw Zaidee back from the
well-curb,--where she hung, in imminent danger of following George
W.,--and Cricket, still grasping the pole, and looking back over her
shoulder, and Helen staring with her great eyes.

As Billy ceased, there was an oppressive moment of silence. He remained
on his knees, swaying his gaunt frame slightly, with his eyes still
closed. Suddenly Cricket felt the bucket lurch as it lay on the surface
of the water below. She looked quickly over the well-curb.

"Oh, Hilda! Billy, hurrah! he's climbed upon the bucket at last! He's
way up on it. Now, we'll have him!" and with Hilda to help, she began
cautiously to raise the bucket.

Billy slowly got up from the ground, and dusted off his trouser knees.

"It's allers wuth while a-prayin' for things," he remarked.

In a few minutes the bucket was on a level with the well-curb, and while
Hilda held the pole, Cricket drew out her dripping, shivering pet.

Such a rubbing as he got in Marm Plunkett's little kitchen! He was very
much exhausted with his cold bath, and I'm afraid that a very few
minutes longer in the icy water would have ended one of George
Washington's nine lives.

"All the curl has gone out of Martha, even," remarked Cricket,
mournfully, surveying his straight tail.

"His tail will curl over again, when he begins to chirk up a bit," said
Marm Plunkett, comfortingly. "He'd orter hev a dish of milk het up for
him right away," she added. "Wisht I hed some to offer you."

"I'll go right home with him, then, Marm Plunkett, and I'll run all the
way. I'll borrow this little shawl of yours, if you'll let me, to keep
him warm. Now, I'm going to run, but the rest of you needn't come so
fast. Good-by, Marm Plunkett. I'll come and see you again, some other
day;" and off darted Cricket, followed more leisurely by the rest,
leaving Marm Plunkett still murmuring,--

"Have--I--seen--Miss--Cricket!"



CHAPTER XXII.

HELEN'S TEXT.


"Oh, dear me!" sighed Eunice, dolefully, the next morning at breakfast.
"What dreadful changes there are going to be! Hilda goes to-day, the
boys leave on Monday for their camp, and Edna goes on Tuesday to her
grandmother's. Cricket and I will be left all forlorn."

"Yes," added Cricket, pulling a long face, "and on Tuesday morning
Eunice and I will be wearing the garbage of woe."

"Whatever you rig yourself up in, Miss Scricket," said Archie, amid the
general laughter, "don't deck yourself out in _garbage_. You'd be a
public nuisance. Flowing 'robes of porcelain,' like the heroine of one
of your stories, would be better."

"You needn't tease me about that, for you know as well as anything that
I meant _percaline_."

But Auntie Jean and grandma had to enjoy this alone, for the boys were
not equal to the fine distinctions of girl's apparel.

As Eunice said, there was a decided scattering of their little party.
Hilda left Saturday afternoon, the boys departed on Monday, for their
camp in the Maine woods, with a party of friends, and on Tuesday Edna
had to go for her usual fortnight's visit to her grandmother Somers, who
always spent July and August at Lake Clear. She was a _very_ old lady,
much older than Grandma Maxwell, and a good deal of an invalid. Edna
much preferred staying with her cousins, but Grandmother Somers was very
devoted to her only little granddaughter, and this was the particular
time when she wanted her. Edna had never been there without her mother
before, and really dreaded it. She had urged taking her cousins with
her, but Auntie Jean knew this would be altogether too much
responsibility for so old a lady to have, since she herself could not
leave Marbury.

"I hate to go like poison," sighed Edna to Eunice, as they strolled up
and down the station platform, while waiting for the train. "I wish I
could stay here. I wish grandma wasn't so fond of me. I wish you could
come, too. I wish the two weeks were over. I wish--"

"Toot-to-toot!" whistled the approaching train.

"Horrid old thing! I wish it would run off the track! Wish Mrs. Abbott
would forget to start this morning. She isn't here yet. _Do_ you suppose
she's forgotten?" with sudden hopefulness.

Mrs. Abbott was a lady under whose care she was going.

"No such good luck!" murmured Eunice. "There she is now. Write to me
every day, Edna."

"And you'll have time to write some lovely stories for the 'Echo,'"
chirped Cricket, encouragingly.

"Yes, I will, and be glad too. It will be something to do. Think of my
saying I'd be glad to write stories! Yes, mamma--good-by, everybody,"
and with hugs and kisses all around, Edna was put on the train and was
off.

The children were both very quiet on their return ride from the station,
and Auntie Jean began to fear that they might be homesick, with all
their playmates gone. But when they reached home again Cricket drew
Eunice into a quiet corner, and surprised her by flinging her arms
around her neck, with a gigantic hug.

"I do love Hilda and Edna," she said, "but there's nobody like my old
Eunice, and I'm _so_ glad to have you all to myself for a little while
again. I _don't_ want to be selfish, and poor Edna hasn't any sister,
but--"

"Why, you poor little thing!" said Eunice, hugging her small sister,
heartily. "I expect _I've_ been very selfish. I've never thought that,
perhaps, you were being lonely when I was so much with Edna. You always
seemed so happy."

"Oh, I am _happy_!" answered Cricket, surprised. "I always am, I guess.
But I do love to be with you, all by your lonesome, and now let's have
some real old Kayuna times. Come down on the beach, and let's talk about
it," with another squeeze. And then, with their arms about each other's
waists, they ran down the yard.

On the small sloping beach behind the big rocks, Zaidee and Helen and
Kenneth were playing by themselves. Helen and Kenneth were sitting up
very straight and stiff, with their little legs out straight in front of
them, and their small hands folded in their laps. They were listening
with intent faces, and round, wide-open eyes, to Zaidee, who, with small
forefinger uplifted, was telling them something, with a very serious
face. The girls crept softly near to see what they were doing.

"And these _naughty_ chil'en," went on Zaidee, "came out of the city,
and they made lots of fun of Lishers, and they ran after him, an' kept
calling him names, an' saying, 'Go up, ole bullhead! go up, ole
bullhead!' An' Lishers got very angry--as angry as Luke did the other
day, when I asked him if he liked to have such mixed-up eyes," (poor
Luke was very cross-eyed, and very sensitive about it), "and he said,
'There's some gre-at big bears in these woods, 'n' I'll call 'em to come
and eat you chil'en up, if you doesn't stop calling names. Only bad
little chil'en, 'thout any one to tell 'em any better, calls names.'
But they didn't one of 'em stop, an' Lishers just whistled, an'
forty-two bears came trotting right out of the woods, an'
eated--up--every--one--of--those--bad--chil'en, quicker'n scat.
'Liza said so, herself. So, Helen and Kenneth, you mustn't ever call
any one any names, an' _specially_ you mustn't call 'em 'bullheads,'
cause bears will come out of the woods an' eat you all up, and it's
very unpolite, too."

Helen looked awed, and Kenneth unbelieving.

"Ain't any bears," he said, stoutly.

"You mustn't inkerrupt the Sunday school," said Zaidee, severely. "Any
way, there are crocky-dolls, if there ain't any bears. I saw a funny,
long thing come out of the water the other day, and 'Liza said she
guessed it was a crocky-doll."

"Tould it eat me up?" demanded Kenneth, hastily.

"I don't think it could eat you all up at once," said Zaidee,
cautiously; "but it might take bites out of you."

"What are you doing, children?" said Eunice, coming forward, and
throwing herself on the sand beside them, and pulling Helen, her special
pet, down into her arms.

"Playing Sunday school, Eunice," said Zaidee, sitting down, herself.
"We're going to have a Sunday school every Tuesday afternoon, just the
same as you have the Echo Club, you know. Helen's going to make up the
texts. She makes up _beautiful_ texts, just like the Bible."

"Why, Zaidee!" remonstrated Eunice, looking shocked. "You mustn't say
that anything is as nice as the Bible. What was it, pettikins?"

But Helen was shy, and needed much coaxing before she could be persuaded
to give her "text," which was a very practical one.

"She who doth not what she is told, gets worse."

"Bravo!" cried Eunice, laughing. "That _is_ a fine text."

"She made it up all her own self," said Zaidee, quite as proud of her
twin's performance as if it had been her own.

"I don't want to play Sunday school any more, Zaidee," said Kenneth,
getting up. "I'd ravver play turch. I'm ze talking man, wiv white skirts
on," he added, standing on a stone, and waving his short arms about, for
the young man had made his first appearance at church the Sunday before,
and had wanted to play "turch" ever since.

"You were a naughty boy," said Zaidee, reproachfully, "you talked out
loud right in meetin'-church, and I was so 'shamed."

"And you falled off the stool when all the people were kneeling down and
saying, 'The seats they do hear us, O Lord;' and you made a great _big_
noise," added Helen, severely, for her.

"'The seats they do hear us,'" repeated Cricket. "What _does_ she mean,
Eunice, do you suppose?"

"Why, don't you know, Cricket," explained Helen, for herself. "When all
the people are kneeling down, and the minister keeps saying things, and
the people keep saying, 'The seats they do hear us,' 'course they hear
them, 'cause they say it right at the back of the seats."

Eunice and Cricket shouted with laughter.

"She means, 'We beseech Thee to hear us,'" cried Cricket, choking, quite
as if she never made any mistakes on her own account. But other people's
mistakes are _so_ different from our own. Helen, her sensitive feelings
dreadfully hurt, instantly retired under her apron, and refused to be
comforted. They always had to be careful about laughing at Helen,
whereas Zaidee never seemed to mind.

"Never mind, pet," said Eunice, kissing and petting her. "It wasn't a
very bad mistake."

"What's this?" said Cricket, to change the subject She had been plunging
her arm down deep in the sand, and had struck something big and bony.
She cleared away the loose sand.

"That's our cemi-terror," explained Zaidee; "we'd been having a frinyal
before we had Sunday school, and we buried that thing. We finded it in
the field the other day. Let's pull it up now, Helen. We've had lots of
frinyals, Cricket, and we've buried ever so many things in our
cemi-terror. Turkles and things like that, you know."

Cricket, with some difficulty, extricated the object. It was a great
skull of a cow, bleached as white as snow.

"'Liza says it was a cow, once," observed Zaidee, poking her fingers in
the big holes where the eyes once were. "It was a pretty funny cow, _I_
think. She says it has undressed all its flesh off, and we're all like
that inside. But I'm not, see?" and Zaidee opened her mouth wide and
offered it for inspection. "Mine's all red inside."

"Mamma says we're made of dust," said Helen, thoughtfully. "If we're
made out of dust, I don't see why we don't get all muddy inside when we
drink."

"I guess that's why my hands get so dirty," said Zaidee, suddenly,
looking at her small, grimy palms with close attention. "I guess it
sifts right through my skin. Course I can't keep clean when it keeps
sifting through all the time, and 'Liza says she _don't_ see _how_ I get
myself _so_ dirty," with a funny imitation of Eliza's tones. "I'm going
to tell her I can't help it. If she keeps scrubbing me as fast as it
comes out, it may get all used up inside of me sometime," went on
Zaidee, who was nothing if not logical.

Helen thoughtfully squeezed Eunice's arm, trying to squeeze some dust
out, she said.

"Yours is all used up, I guess," she concluded, as she met with no
success.

Cricket set the skull upon the high stone which Kenneth had been using
for a pulpit.

"Look, Eunice! It looks just like an idol, sitting up there and
grinning. Oh, let's play we're idollers ourselves and worship it! We'll
build a shrine for it, and we'll offer it sacrifices. Come on!" and
Cricket, with her usual energy, fell to work instantly, building stones
up for an altar.



CHAPTER XXIII.

THE JABBERWOCK.


"Let me help build up the shrime, too," said Zaidee, bringing up stones
also. "I want to offer sacrumfices."

"You and Helen bring a lot of dried seaweed to decorate it," said
Cricket, working busily. "That's right, Kenneth. Bring all the pretty
shells you can, and we'll put them all around the sides. Look, Eunice!
doesn't it look fine already!"

They had built up the "shrime" to a large square pile, about two feet
high, on the top of which the grinning skull reposed. The dry seaweed
draped the rough stones, and Kenneth's shells were arranged about it.

"Now we must begin to offer sacrifices," said Cricket. "We _must_ have
dishevelled hair, Eunice, as the women always do in stories. I can't
muss mine up much more than it always is," regretfully, "but you can
take your braid out, and throw your hair all around. Oh, that's
_lovely_!" as Eunice loosened her heavy, dark braid, and threw the
long, straight masses all about. "How beautifully dishevelled you are!"

"I'm glad I don't have to offer sacrifices every day," laughed Eunice,
"for dishevelled hair is _not_ comfortable, at least as dishevelled as
this. Perhaps I wouldn't mind a little bit of it."

"Come here, Zaidee, if you wish to join the procession," and Eunice
caught her small sister, and rubbed her hands vigorously over her short,
soft, straight hair, till it fairly stood on end. Helen's hair curled
like Cricket's, in a golden, fluffy mass.

"Now, we're all ready. We must march up before the shrine, and lay our
sacrifices at the feet of the idol, and bow down before it."

"It hasn't any foots," observed Zaidee.

"Well, before its mouth, then. It's just as 'propriate, I guess. Come
over here, and get into line, Eunice. You go first and I'll follow, and
the children will come on behind. We must go up with weeping and wailing
and gnashing our teeth," said Cricket, getting Biblical.

"How do you gnash your tooths?" inquired Helen.

"I'll show you," said Cricket, immediately rolling her eyes, and
opening and shutting her mouth with such fearful snaps of her teeth,
that Helen instantly retreated behind Zaidee for protection. "Clutch
your hair with both hands, this way, and get into procession."

"Yes, but where's the sacrifice?" asked Eunice, suddenly recollecting
this important part of the ceremony.

"I declare! I forgot all about it! What _shall_ we sacrifice?"

"We finded a little dead mouse in the woodshed after breakfast," said
Zaidee. "We were going to give him to George Washington for dessert
to-day. We buried it in the cemi-terror to keep till it was
dinner-time."

"That will do. Dig it up. George Washington can sacrifice his mouse."

While Zaidee was unearthing George W.'s intended dessert, Cricket had
found a shingle for a bier. They made a bed of seaweed on it, and
stretched the little dead mouse thereon.

"I've an idea!" exclaimed Eunice. "Let's call the idol the Jabberwock,
and sing the Jabberwock song as we go up."

"Splendid!" cried Cricket, clapping her hands. "How does it go?

    "'Beware the Jabberwock, my son,
      With jaws that bite and claws that catch.'

"Isn't that it?"

"That's the second verse," said Eunice "Don't you remember,

    "''Twas brillig, and the slimy sea--?'"

"Yes, now I do. All ready."

So the procession formed itself anew. Zaidee and Helen bore the
shingle-bier in front, Eunice and Cricket came behind, tearing their
hair, and chanting in doleful tones how

     "The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
    Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
      And burbled as it came!"

Then, with appropriate ceremonies, they offered up the mouse to the
Jabberwock, and then, joining hands, they danced around it, howling and
shrieking.

"More! more!" growled Cricket, in awful tones, that were supposed to
come from the yawning throat of the Jabberwock. The smaller children, by
this time, were wildly excited, and ready to offer up all their
possessions.

"You may have my Crumples," screamed Zaidee, making a dive for a little
white china cat that lay near by with a pile of other playthings that
the children had been playing with.

"We must stone it to pieces first," said Cricket, "and offer up the
ashes," and soon the china cat lay in fragments, and its "ashes" were
offered up.

"Let's take this old rubber-baby of Kenneth's," proposed Cricket. "You
don't care for it, do you, baby? It has a hole in its head."

Kenneth looked doubtfully at his beloved Jacob for a moment, and then,
quite carried away by the excitement of the occasion, he cried out,
valiantly:

"You may have Dacob for ze Dabberwock."

One by one all the children's small possessions lay before the jaws of
the Jabberwock.

"Oh, Eunice! children! let's have a fire, and burn up all these
sacrifices to the Jabberwock. Think what a lovely thing he'd think that
is! Idols always love to have scenes of devastination and ruin all
about."

"I'm afraid that wouldn't be safe," said Eunice, hesitating. "Would
auntie like it?"

"Oh, she wouldn't care. What harm? Nothing could get on fire out here on
the sands, could there? Of course, we wouldn't if it was near the house
anywhere. I'll go and get the matches," and off she darted like a flash.

"Oh, are we going to have a fire, and burn up the shrime?" cried Zaidee.
"Goody! goody! what fun! they're going to burn up the shrime!"

Cricket flew back with a match-box in her hand.

"Now, get lots of dry seaweed, children," she ordered, "and we'll heap
it around the pile, and tuck it under the pile of sacrifices, so they'll
burn better. Oh, won't that make a blaze!" and Cricket danced about in
anticipation. "There, Jabberwock! I hope you'll be 'tentified,' as
Zaidee says. Stand back, children. Come, Eunice, and we'll march up
singing, and lay our offering of a lighted match down before him," and
Cricket, chanting another verse of the "Jabberwock," pranced up and
struck a match.

The dry seaweed was instantly aflame, curling and leaping like a live
thing, around the pile of stone. The children, dancing around and
clapping their hands, screamed in ecstasy at the sight.

"Bring more seaweed," called Cricket, piling on all she had, to keep up
the darting flames. The fire went springing up, licking the white bones
of the Jabberwock. In their excitement the younger children scarcely
noticed that their treasures were actually burning up, also, till
Kenneth suddenly caught sight of his "Dacob," writhing, and curling, and
jumping about in the most uncanny way, as if in mortal agony. The poor
baby darted forward to rescue it.

"It's hurted Dacob! He's all wiggly!" he cried, and he tried to snatch
his best beloved doll from the flames. Eunice caught him back.

"Don't touch, baby. It will burn you. Jacob can't feel it, and I'll buy
you another."

"He _does_ feel it. It's hurted him," cried Kenneth, struggling to get
away. With the sudden spring he made, Eunice lost hold of him, and he
made a snatch at the burning sacrifice. A long tongue of flame leaped
up, caught like a live thing the baby's linen dress, and in an instant
he was enveloped in flames.

For one horrible moment the other children stood paralyzed with fright.
Not to the longest day she lives will Cricket forget the awful terror of
that moment, as the thought surged up that, whatever happened, it was
all her fault. Then, with a wild scream, to which all her previous ones
had been as whispers, she darted forward. Kenneth, blind with terror and
pain, beat at the flames with his tiny hands, and ran shrieking down the
beach, fanning the fire to a brighter blaze.

Cricket was upon him in a moment. She flung both her arms closely around
him, stopping his struggles, but the eager flames caught her own light
dress as she did so. Then away she dashed, down over the few steps of
beach between herself and the incoming tide, and, with him in her arms,
threw herself forward in the water. As she rolled over and over, the
sullen flames hissed and died.

Eunice was close behind her, shrieking for help. It was nearly high
tide, and the beach sloped a little more abruptly there than in most
places. Cricket rose to her knees with Kenneth in her arms, stumbled and
fell forward again, face downward, limp with the excitement and the
strain. Eunice, knee-deep in water, dragged them both up, and, between
pulling and half carrying, got them to the water's edge, just as Auntie
Jean, and Eliza, and Luke, came running from different directions. The
flames, still fitfully shooting up from the smouldering seaweed, told
the story.

"Run for the doctor, Luke," cried Auntie Jean, wasting no time in
questions, as she lifted little drenched, burned Kenneth tenderly in her
arms, and flew with him towards the house, leaving Eliza to help
Cricket. Kenneth's clothes were so badly burned that they fell off from
him when she laid him down. He was a dreadful sight, with his golden
curls all gone, his face blackened with smoke and soot, which the water
had only washed off in streaks. It was impossible for her to tell, at
first, how much he was injured. Fortunately, the doctor came almost
immediately.

It was an anxious hour that followed. Kenneth's most serious burns were
on his arms and body, for, while the golden curls were nearly gone, his
poor little face was, by some fortunate chance, only slightly burned,
since, as he ran forward, his curls had blown back. Cricket was burned
quite severely on her arms and hands, where she had clasped and held
him.

After their wounds were dressed and bandaged, and Kenneth, a little
mummy-like bundle of old white linen, lay asleep, worn out with pain
and excitement, Auntie Jean found Cricket sobbing quietly under the
sheet.

"What is the matter, dear?" asked auntie, tenderly. "Are you in such
pain?" for she knew that Cricket was a little Spartan in respect to
suffering.

"Yes, no-o," sobbed Cricket. "The pain is bad, but I don't care for
that. My--conscience--aches--so--_here_. I--can't--stand--it, auntie. I
ought to have been all burned up myself. I oughtn't to have had a fire.
I knew better, only I just thought what fun it would be. To think the
baby is burned, and all through my horrid badness!"

"My poor little girl!" said Auntie Jean, pitifully. "That is the hardest
of all for you to bear, I well know. But after all, dear, you can
comfort yourself by thinking that, but for your quickness, the little
fellow must have burned to death. You saved his life, after all. You did
what should have been done, so quickly."

"That isn't much comfort," sobbed Cricket. "He oughtn't to be burned at
all. _Any_body would have thought to throw him in the water."

"I'm not sure of that. In excitement people do not always use their
wits--especially children. Even Eunice, thoughtful as she usually is,
was behind you."

"And I sprained grandma's ankle, too. I ought to be put in prison," went
on Cricket, in a fresh deluge of remorse.

"Nobody blamed you for that, dearie, though you _are_ rather a
thoughtless little body. But the ankle was purely an accident. When it
comes to the playing with fire, however, you really should have known
better than to do such a dangerous thing. But you have learned your
lesson, and now we must be thankful the consequences are no worse."

Cricket raised a tear-stained face.

"Yes, only--my dear baby! If only I could take all his burns! I'd set
fire to myself and burn myself up, if he could be well. I did the
mischief, and he gets the worst of it."

"Indeed, little Cricket," said Auntie Jean, softly, almost to herself,
as she bent and kissed her little niece, "you will learn, as you grow
older, that that's not the least hard part of all the harm we do--we do
the mischief, and the one we love best often gets the burns."



CHAPTER XXIV.

AFTER THE SACRIFICE.


The next few days were not very happy ones. Auntie Jean had her hands
full. Grandma's ankle was much better, to be sure, but still it did not
allow her to walk or stand on it but very little, so that she could not
be of much assistance in the nursing that followed. Poor little Kenneth
suffered greatly from his burns, and his fever ran high, and the very
hot weather made it harder for him to bear. He cried continually for his
mother. He had not fretted for her, especially, while he was well, but
now that he was sick he wailed constantly for "Mamma."

Cricket was up and about, after a day or two. Her arms and hands were
still bandaged, and she was very helpless about dressing and undressing
herself, but she felt better to be up. She longed to do something for
Kenneth, but this was impossible, with both arms in slings. These were
rather dark days for the poor little girl, for, on account of the
anxiety about Kenneth, she received less attention than she otherwise
would have had. She was very grateful, however, that nobody reminded her
that it was chiefly her fault.

Unfortunately, her right hand, with which she had first clasped Kenneth,
was much more seriously burned than the other. The left hand came out of
its sling at the end of three or four days, and while the arm remained
bandaged, she could use her fingers.

"If it was only the other way," she mourned, "I could write a lot of
stories and things for the 'Echo,' and my time would not be _all_
wasted."

"Learn to write with your left hand," suggested grandma.

"Could I?" said Cricket, brightening. "Why, why not? It won't be like
learning to write over again. I've often tried it, only my left-hand
fingers don't seem to have any _push_ in them."

"If you practise half an hour a day, you will soon do wonders," said
grandma, encouragingly. "I had a brother, once, who was left-handed, and
he learned to use his right hand equally well. He drew beautifully, and
would often work with a pencil in each hand. Not only that, but I have
often seen him write with one hand and draw with the other."

"Isn't that wonderful?" exclaimed Cricket. "I'll begin to practise this
minute, Eunice, if you'll get me paper and pencil," she added, eagerly.

She worked busily for a few minutes, in silence, after the materials
were brought her.

"It looks exactly like Zaidee's writing," she said, at length, in
disgust, after her first few attempts. She wrote a firm, pretty hand for
a girl of her age, and these shaky, disjointed letters, sprawling across
the page, were very discouraging.

"It looks like the tracks of a crazy ant," she said, half laughing.

"If you practise faithfully for a few days you will find they will look
like the tracks of a very sane ant," said grandma. "And, besides, think
how much easier it is to learn to write with your left hand than with
your toes."

"With your _toes_, grandma," came in a united chorus.

"Yes, with your toes. I knew of a man, once, who was born without any
arms, and--"

"No arms at all? Not one?"

"Not one," answered grandma, smiling on her eager questioner. "He was
the son of a very poor woman here in the village. They lived in that
little red cottage on the Bainbridge road, where you turn by the four
oaks."

"Without any arms! Did he have shoulders?" asked Cricket.

"Oh, yes, indeed. I saw them often when he was a baby--bare, I mean. The
shoulder ended smoothly where the arms should be. He grew up a very
bright little fellow. Running barefoot all the time, as he did, I
suppose he learned to pick up things with his toes very naturally. At
any rate, when he was eight years old he could even handle his knife and
fork with his toes."

"Ugh!" shuddered Eunice, "Did he sit on the table?"

"No, not quite so bad as that. He sat on a little low stool, and his
plate was put on the floor in front of him. He would pick up his knife
and fork, cut up his meat, and feed himself as deftly as possible. It
was very funny."

"Think of washing his feet before dinner, instead of his hands!" giggled
Cricket.

"Could he get his feet right up to his mouth?" asked Eunice.

"Yes, easily. He was very limber."

Zaidee instantly sat down on the piazza floor and attempted the
performance.

"It most cracks my back," she said, getting up and trying to reach
around behind herself to rub it.

"_I_ could do it," said supple Cricket, who could sit on the floor and
put her legs around her neck.

"He went to the district school," went on grandma, "and learned to read
very quickly, and his mental arithmetic was really wonderful. Long
examples that the others did on their slates, he did almost as quickly
in his head. One year, they had a very good, patient teacher, who,
noticing how deftly he picked up all sorts of things with his toes, had
the bright idea of teaching him to write by holding his pen between his
toes. Now his toes, by constant using, had grown longer and slenderer
than most people's, and in a very short time he could guide a pencil
sufficiently to make very legible letters. Quite as much so as your
first attempts with your left hand, just now, Jean."

"Think of it!" exclaimed Cricket. "I'm going to try it to-night when we
go to bed, Eunice."

"It was a funny sight to see him get ready for his school work. When he
arrived at school his brother washed and dried his feet carefully, and
put on him an old pair of loose slippers to keep them clean. His slate
or paper would be put on the floor before him, and he would slip his
foot out of his slipper, grasp his pencil, and begin. By the end of a
year, he really wrote wonderfully well."

"Oh-h!" sighed Zaidee. "Helen and I practised lots, last winter, with
mamma, and we can't write much now. We writed every day, too."

"Where is the man now?" asked Eunice. "What became of him?"

"When he was a boy of fourteen or so, a travelling circus manager heard
of him, and offered him a large salary to go with him to be exhibited,"
answered grandma. "He got a large salary, and after that helped support
his family. He learned to do many other things with his toes, later,
people said. For instance, he drew beautifully, and could even hold a
knife and whittle a stick. The family soon left here, and I never knew
anything more about him. So, my little Jean, aren't you encouraged to
practise writing with your left hand, with good hope of success?"

"Yes, indeed, grandma," answered Cricket, taking her pencil, and going
to work again, awkwardly but energetically. And I may just say, in
passing, that she worked to such good effect, that in ten days' time her
left-handed writing, though it slanted backward, was firm and legible.

"There!" exclaimed Cricket, with a long sigh, after her first half-hour
was over, as she rose to stretch her arm above her head, "I've written
so long that I'm so tired that I can hardly put one foot before the
other."

"That would be a more appropriate sentiment if you were my no-armed
man," said grandma, smiling.

"I'm just _wild_ with keeping still, grandma! Resting makes me _so_
tired. I want to go rowing or riding or walking. I'd like to jump over
the moon, as far as my feelings go, but it makes my arm ache if I move
round much."

"Read aloud to us," suggested grandma, "and perhaps Eunice will hold
the wool for me while you do."

Cricket liked to read aloud, and she got a book very willingly.

"Here's a lovely story," she said, "all about battles and fighting, and
exciting things. 'How Captain Jack Won His Epauplets.'"

"Won his--_what_?" asked grandma, holding her ball suspended.

"His epauplets. He was just a plain, every-day soldier, you know, to
start with."

"Oh! won his epaulets, you mean," said grandma, gravely.

"Won his--oh, of course! how stupid of me!" looking more closely at the
word. "Now I've always thought that word was epauplets, grandma, truly I
did."

"Go on and begin," said Eunice; "how did he win them?"

The reading proceeded quietly for a time. Eunice held the wool, grandma
wound it off, and Zaidee and Helen played tonka on the piazza steps.
Tonka was a little Japanese game on the order of jackstones, only,
instead of hard, nobby stones, that spoil the dimpled knuckles, tiny
bags of soft, gay silk, half full of rice, are used. Six little bags
are made with the ends gathered, and one more, the tonka, is made flat
and square of some different coloured silk, to distinguish it, as the
gay little bags fly up and down. It was a very favourite amusement with
all the children. Eliza was with Kenneth, and auntie was lying down, for
the poor baby had been wakeful and in much pain the night before, and
auntie had had little sleep.

Nearly an hour slipped by, when suddenly grandma stopped Cricket.

"How quiet the children are. Are they there still?" turning to see.
Eunice looked up also.

"Dear me, I haven't thought of them for a long time. They've slipped
off. I suppose I ought to go and see what Zaidee's doing, and tell her
she mustn't," and Eunice lay down her work. She had had to have much
care of the younger ones these last few days.

"I'll go, too," said Cricket, getting up gladly. "'Scuse us, please,
grandma, for leaving you all alone."

Cricket had scarcely ever been ill a day in her life, not even with
children's diseases, which she had always escaped, and, in all her
adventures, she was very rarely hurt. Therefore, pain was a very
dreadful thing to her. She bore it bravely, but it was strange to see
her looking so pale and heavy-eyed. But these few days of suffering were
teaching her many things.

Eunice and Cricket heard the sound of the children's voices as they
turned the corner of the house.

"Oh, they're all right," said Eunice, relieved.

Just back of the house, in a tiny little shed, built especially for it,
stood a big barrel of kerosene. It was kept outside, because grandma was
very much afraid of the possibility of fire. Once, in an unlucky moment,
the waitress, Delia, in drawing the oil into a small can to be carried
into the house, had yielded to Zaidee's entreaty, and had let her turn
that fascinating little spigot. After that the twins made several
private expeditions to the barrel, but as the spigot was kept locked, of
course they could not turn it. It chanced that this morning Delia had
drawn the oil in a hurry, and had forgotten to turn the catch in the
spigot that locked it.

Zaidee and Helen, prowling around for something to do, chanced to come
past the barrel, and Zaidee tried the faucet. To their rapture a
spurting stream of oil instantly poured out. An old dipper, lying near
by, was immediately seized upon, as something to fill, and all the
flower beds that were near by were well watered with kerosene. Next,
they spied a small churn, which Bridget, the cook, had just put out in
the sun to dry. This was an opportunity not to be neglected, and the
next dipperful of kerosene went splash into Bridget's clean, white
churn. Up and down went the dasher, worked by these eager hands, while,
behind them, the kerosene still poured from the barrel.

"Yes, they're all right," repeated Eunice. "They're only working the
churn-dasher up and down. Probably Bridget left some water in it to
soak."

"Come over here," called Zaidee, hospitably.

"We're making butter, Eunice."

Eunice drew a little nearer, then, suddenly, she stopped, sniffed, and
darted forward.

"Children, what _have_ you there?"

"Caroseme," responded Zaidee, promptly. "We drawed it from the pretty
little fountain in the barrel."

Eunice turned hastily towards the "caroseme" barrel, then flew towards
it. As the barrel had been lately filled there was plenty in it, still,
and it was flowing merrily, while a pool of kerosene lay over the board
floor.

"Goodness gracious me! How shall I ever get in there to turn it off?"
cried Eunice. "I _can't_ step in it?"

"Let Zaidee do it. She's soaking already with it. Zaidee, come here,
directly, and turn this kerosene off."

Zaidee came up cheerfully, and waded in, regardless of her shoes.

"It's too bad to turn it off, when it looks so pretty," she said,
regretfully.

"You are naughty children," said Eunice, severely, arraying the guilty
twins before her, when this was done. "Whatever shall I do with you? I
can't take you, all dripping like that, into the house to Eliza, because
she's with Kenneth, and auntie's lying down, and I don't suppose Delia
would know what to do with you."

"Hang them both up over the clothes-line to dry," suggested Cricket,
darkly eying the chief culprit. "Dear me! how you do smell!"

"I don't like it pretty well," admitted Zaidee, sniffing at her hands.
"I want to go in and get us washed off now."

"No, stop," commanded Eunice, as Zaidee was starting off. "You would
ruin everything you touched, I suppose. You're reeking wet. You can't go
into the nursery, for you mustn't disturb Kenneth. Auntie said
particularly that we mustn't even make any noise around, so he can
sleep. What _shall_ I do with you?"

"I'll tell you," suggested Cricket, the ever-ready. "Take them down to
the Cove and put them in the water just as they are, and wash off the
worst of it. Then you can take off their clothes and leave them down
there in the bathing-house, for 'Liza to look after when she can."

"Perhaps that might do. I could put on my own bathing-suit and take them
in, and wash off the outside, anyway."

"Yes, let's," cried Zaidee, scampering off in high feather at the
delightful possibility of going into the water all dressed, "just like a
dog."

"Grandma wouldn't care, would she?"

"There's nothing else to do. You go on and I'll tell her. My arm aches
so that I can't walk over there," said Cricket, turning away, very
dolefully. She didn't like to miss the fun of ducking those naughty
children. She watched them out of sight.

"But it isn't really a bit worse of Zaidee to turn that spigot, and
play with the oil, than it was for me to play with the fire," she said,
honestly, to herself, as she walked slowly back to grandma. "I can't say
much. But it _is_ funny how much badder things seem in other people,
when they're really just as worse in ourselves."

And with this not very lucid statement of an undeniable fact, Cricket
walked up the piazza steps and informed grandma of the state of affairs.

Half an hour later Eunice appeared, driving a pair of depressed looking
children before her, clad only in their little blue bathing-suits.

She was hot and flushed, Zaidee cross and rebellious, and Helen tearful
and subdued. Eunice had found that the plan of washing oily children,
with all their clothes on, was much easier in theory than in practice.
And such a task as it had been to get their dripping clothes off! Wet
buttonholes refused to open, shoestrings knotted hopelessly, and
everything stuck flabbily together.

Auntie Jean was with little Kenneth again, so Eliza was at liberty to
take the children in hand, but before they went off, grandma said, very
gravely, to them, that they were to go directly to bed for two whole
hours, so that they might have a quiet time to think over the mischief
they had done.



CHAPTER XXV.

THE END OF THE SUMMER.


Two weeks later everything was running again as usual. Kenneth, quite
recovered, was as lively as possible, though he was a funny looking
little object, with his lovely golden curls, to everybody's great grief,
cropped as close to his head as a prize-fighter's.

"If it only will grow out a _little_, before mamma gets home," mourned
Cricket. "He looks so ridiculous. He looks just like the sheep, after
'Gustus John has sheared them. Even the little lambs don't know their own
mothers, sometimes, auntie, after they're clipped. Oh!" clasping her
hands in horror at a new thought. "Do you suppose mamma won't even
_know_ Kenneth?"

"He doesn't look much like himself, certainly, but I don't fancy that
there's the least danger that his mother won't know him instantly," said
auntie, comfortingly.

"I'm so glad," said Cricket, with a sigh of relief, "if you really
think so. But, anyway, he's the _sheepiest_-looking child."

But, fortunately, his burns had healed beautifully, and the doctor
assured them that he would even outgrow every scar. Cricket was entirely
herself again, with only one deep scar across her right wrist to remind
her of that unlucky sacrifice to the Jabberwock.

Edna was at home, also, delighted to be back with her beloved Eunice.
She proudly flourished, actually, two stories for the "Echo," as the
result of her "banishment," as she insisted on calling her visit. She
was so proud of them that she wanted to carry them about with her all
the time, and was all impatience for the next number of the paper to be
ready. Eunice had been working at it, during Edna's absence, and it was
all ready, excepting to print Edna's story, for which space had been
left.

It was getting well into September now, and the children were looking
eagerly forward to the return of the travellers, who were to sail early
in October. Letters said that mamma was improving so delightfully that
she was quite as strong as ever, and that she was looking forward with
quite as much impatience to seeing the children again as they could
have to see her. The children didn't quite believe this, though.

"She _couldn't_ be glad as I am," said Cricket, positively. "If she were
she would just simply burst. Of _course_ we're gladder to see her than
she could be to see us, because she's _mamma_, and we're only just the
children! I'm chock full of gladness!" and Cricket gave an ecstatic
caper as she waved the letter that definitely set the date of the
travellers' return.

"Look _out_, Cricket," said Eunice, hastily, "that's the second time
you've nearly knocked my ink over," rescuing, as she spoke, the fresh,
fair copy of the "Echo," to which she was giving the finishing touches,
for the afternoon's reading.

"Please excuse me, but I'm so happy! Oh, auntie, it's worth while to
have mamma and papa go to Europe and miss them so, when you are so
gladder than glad when they come back."

"Now, I really flattered myself that you had been tolerably contented
here, this summer," said Auntie Jean, pretending to look aggrieved. "I'm
very sorry that you've been so wretched."

"Wretched! I _haven't_," said Cricket, giving auntie a rapturous hug,
and, at the same time, sending her heels kicking out behind, like a
little wild pony. "I've had an awfully good time."

"Cricket!" shrieked Eunice, "you knocked over the ink at last!" She
snatched up the "Echo" just in time to save it from an inky bath. "Hand
me that blotter, Edna. Never mind, auntie, for it's mostly on the
newspapers. Cricket, you _are_ the ink-spillingest girl!" scolded
Eunice, scrubbing and cleaning as she talked. "Yesterday you knocked it
out of the window, and only the other day you had it all over the
piazza-floor."

Cricket looked much depressed, as she helped Eunice repair damages.

"I rather guess you'll be too relieved for anything to see the last of
me, grandma," she said, mournfully. "I never saw anybody like me. I
never mean to do things, and then I go and do them. I don't see how
you've stood it all summer, anyway, with such racketting children
around, I truly don't."

"You've been a pretty obedient set," said grandma, patting the hand that
stole around her neck. "And when children are obedient and truthful, one
can excuse a great deal else. Indeed, I shall miss my flock
exceedingly, I assure you, in spite of your ink-spilling tendencies."

"Even if I did sprain your ankle?" whispered Cricket, very softly, "and
burn up Kenneth's hair? and break through the plaster in your ceiling,
and lots of other things?"

"Yes, in spite of it all," whispered grandma, back again, just as
softly. "Because I never knew you to do anything I told you not to do,
and whatever you tell me, I know is exactly true."

"You're such a beautiful grandma!" said Cricket, with a hug, and then
she pranced off.

Zaidee and Helen came toiling up from the beach, with their arms full of
dolls. Zaidee dropped down on the top piazza-step.

"Auntie Jean, I'm all in such a pusferation," she sighed. "It's so much
work to take care of such a lot of children as I have. I wish I had a
little live nurse to help me. Couldn't I?"

"Take Cricket," suggested Auntie Jean. "She wants something to do."

"No, I thank you," said that young woman, decidedly. "I'm glad _I_ don't
have to follow Zaidee up all day."

"And I wouldn't have you," returned Zaidee, with equal decision. "You
tooked up my Beatrice by the neck, and it hurted her. She told me so. I
don't want you for my dollie's nurse, or for my nurse, either."

"_Your_ nurse!" exclaimed Cricket. "I wouldn't be 'Liza for anything!
I'd as soon take care of a straw in a high wind, as take care of you."

Auntie Jean laughed, and drew Cricket down into her arms.

"Did you ever think, honestly," she whispered, "that Zaidee is a little,
just a little, like one of her older sisters?"

"Oh, she's not so bad," responded Cricket, instantly. "But because she's
like me is no reason I like it any better. I like it all the worse.
Besides, I don't set up to be a polygon."

Hereupon Auntie Jean laughed until grandma demanded to know what the
joke was, and why they were talking secrets.

"No secrets," answered auntie, wiping her eyes. "Cricket was only
telling me that she didn't set up to be a _paragon_."

Cricket flashed a quick glance at auntie, caught her eye, and nodded her
thanks.

"There's George Washington," she hastily remarked, changing the
subject. "Come here, sir, and play a little. You've been as sober as a
judge lately. I haven't seen you run after Martha for perfect ages."

The September days slipped by, until the first of October was just at
hand. It was arranged that Auntie Jean should go and get the house in
town in readiness for the family's return. At first she expected to go
alone, but the girls begged to go with her, and finally she concluded to
take them.

Will and Archie had already gone back to Philadelphia, on account of
their school, so this arrangement would only leave the younger ones and
Eliza with grandma for a few days longer.

Then, oh, joy! that blessed Auntie Jean further decided that she would
take them all down to New York the day before the steamer was due, so
that they might have the earliest possible glimpse of the family. Was
not all this enough to fill any little girl's cup of bliss to
overflowing?

For once, reality surpassed anticipation. Such excitement for the last
week in packing up; such walks and rows and drives between times; such a
fine number of the "Echo," to wind up with; such a funny farewell
call--laden with all manner of good things--to the old woman, who was
still overcome by the thought that she had seen Miss Cricket; then such
parting hugs and kisses for dear grandma and the children; such
hand-shakings with old Billy, who distributed peppermints like a red and
white snow.

Then came the jolly three days' picnic in the empty house in town. The
three girls thought that they rendered perfectly indispensable aid to
auntie and the maids, in opening the house, getting off holland covers,
and arranging everything, till it was all in apple-pie order for the
homecomers.

Then came the last and loveliest treat,--the delightful trip to New York
in the night boat, and the vast importance of the thought of going to
meet their European travellers. They discussed them, as if they had been
gone ten years, at least. Eunice wondered if she would know Marjorie,
and if Donald's mustache would be as long as papa's, while Cricket was a
little afraid that they might have forgotten how to talk English.

The steamer was not due till late in the afternoon, so that they had the
day before them, and a day crammed with good things it was. Although
they had often been there before, the children immediately voted for
Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum first. Then they visited some
of the great stores, and then lunched at Delmonico's. In the afternoon
they went for a long, lovely ride up Riverside Park, and then, at last,
came the crowning joy of watching the steamer's arrival.

"There's mamma!" shrieked Cricket, regardless of the crowd about her, as
the great steamer swung into her moorings, and in five minutes more
everybody was being rapturously hugged by everybody else.

THE END.



Transcriber's Note:

Variations in spelling and hyphenation, and unexpected spelling found in
the original have been retained.

The following changes have been made in this version:

Punctuation errors have been corrected without comment.

Oe ligatures have been expanded as in Phoebe.

page 76
'adventures' changed to 'adventure': a new adventure.

page 123
'liitle' corrected to 'little': his poor little

page 165
'sittingly' corrected to 'sitting': were sitting cosily

page 260
'at at any' corrected to 'at any': at any time

page 324
'Anntie' corrected to 'Auntie': Auntie Jean knew





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