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Title: 'Lizbeth of the Dale
Author: MacGregor, Mary Esther Miller, 1876-1961
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 "'Lizbeth of the Dale" ***

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[Illustration: Cover art]



'LIZBETH

OF THE DALE


BY

MARIAN KEITH



_Author of "Treasure Valley," "Duncan Polite," "The Silver Maple," etc._



HODDER & STOUGHTON

NEW YORK

GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY



Copyright, 1910,

By GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER

     I.  THE GAY GORDONS
    II.  THE WILD STREAK
   III.  A GENTEEL SABBATH
    IV.  AT THE EDGE OF THE DAWN
     V.  A ROYAL TITLE
    VI.  SCHOOLDAYS
   VII.  THE AGE OF CHIVALRY
  VIII.  A BUDDING ACTRESS
    IX.  THE FAIRY GOD-MOTHER ARRIVES
     X.  GREAT EXPECTATIONS
    XI.  THE DREAM OF LIFE
   XII.  LEFT BEHIND
  XIII.  GETTING INTO SOCIETY AND OUT
   XIV.  WHEN LIFE WAS BEAUTY
    XV.  WHAT OF THE NIGHT?
   XVI.  "THE MORNING COMETH"
  XVII.  DAWN CLOUDS
 XVIII.  DARKNESS
   XIX.  SUNRISE



'LIZBETH OF THE DALE


CHAPTER I

THE GAY GORDONS

On the side porch of the gray stone house sat Miss Gordon, steadily
darning at the eight pairs of stockings belonging to her eight nephews
and nieces.  The strenuous task of being foster-mother to the eight had
long ago taught Miss Gordon the necessity of doing two things at once.
At the present moment she was attending to three beside the darning,
and had chosen her position with an eye to their accomplishment.  Here,
where the Virginia creepers shaded her from the afternoon sun, she was
near enough to the wall enclosing the backyard to mark that the
Saturday raking and tidying of that battleground of the young Gordons
suffered no serious interruption.  Also, she could watch that little
Jamie, tumbling about the grass in front of her, did not stray away to
the pond.  And, best of all, she commanded a view of the lane leading
up to the highway, for a girl in a blue cotton gown and a big white hat
was moving up the path to the gate between the willows, and Miss Gordon
had awakened to the fact that her eldest niece needed watching.

Miss Annie had remarked a moment before, that she thought she might as
well run up to the gate and see if Jerry Patterson, the mailman, was at
the post-office yet; and besides, it was time Malcolm and Jean were
home from the store, and she might help to carry their parcels; and,
anyway, she had nothing to do, because it wasn't time to get the tea
ready yet.

Miss Gordon would not have stooped to quote Shakespeare, considering
him very irreligious and sometimes quite indelicate, and having
forbidden the reading of him in the Gordon family.  Nevertheless the
unspoken thought of her mind was his--that the lady did protest too
much.

Of the eight, Annie was her aunt's favorite.  She was pretty and gentle
and had caused Miss Gordon less trouble during the four years she had
been head of her brother's house, than John or Elizabeth had frequently
contributed in one day.  But lately it seemed as though her greatest
comfort bade fair to become her greatest anxiety.  For Annie had
suddenly grown up.  The fact had been startlingly revealed by the
strange actions of young Mr. Coulson, the school-teacher, who was
probably at this moment walking across the fields towards the big gate
between the willows.

At the thought, Miss Gordon closed her lips tightly and looked severe.
To be sure, Annie must marry, and young Coulson seemed a rather
genteel, well-made young man.  He was studying law in the evenings,
too, and might make his way in the world some day.  But Auntie Jinit
Johnstone, who lived on the next farm, and knew the minute family
history of everyone in the county of Simcoe, had informed the last
quilting-bee that a certain Coulson--and no distant relative of the
young schoolmaster either--had kept a tavern in the early days down by
the lake shore.  Miss Gordon had made no remark.  She never took part
in gossip.  But she had mentally resolved that she would inquire
carefully just how distant this relative was, and then she would take
means to place their Annie at a distance from the young man in an
inverse ratio to the space between him and the tavern-keeper.

She peered through the tangle of alder and sumach that bordered the
lane and saw her suspicions confirmed.  Annie was at the gate, her blue
dress set against the white background of some blossom-laden
cherry-boughs, while down the road, the long limbs of this probable
descendant of the tavern-keeper were bearing him swiftly towards her.

Miss Gordon's needle flashed in and out of Malcolm's sock, in a
disapproving manner.  She tried to look severe, but in spite of
herself, her face showed something of pleasant excitement, for Miss
Gordon was very much of a woman and could not but find a love affair
interesting.

She had been a handsome girl once, and her fine, high-bred face was
still almost beautiful.  It was covered with innumerable tiny wrinkles,
but her dark eyes were bright, and her cheeks bore a fixed pink flush,
the birth-mark of the land of heather.  Her hair, glossy black, with
not a thread of gray, was parted in the middle and lay on either side
in perfectly even waves.  Her figure was slim and stiffly straight, her
hands long and slender.  She looked every inch a woman of refinement,
and also a woman who would not flinch from any task that duty demanded.

And duty had asked much of her during these last few years--exile,
privations, uncongenial tasks, and the mothering of eight orphans.
This last demand had been the hardest.  Even to their own mother, upon
whom the burden had been laid gradually and gently, in Nature's wise
way, the task had been a big one; but what had it been to her, who,
without a moment's warning, had one day found herself at the head of a
family, ranging from sixteen years to six days?  Many times she had
needed all her strength of character to keep her from dropping it all,
and flying back to the peace and quiet of her old Edinburgh home.  And
yet she had struggled on under the burden for four years--four long
years this spring; but even at this late day, she was overcome with a
feeling of homesickness, as poignant as it had been in her first
Canadian springtime.

She suspended her needle and looked about her as though inquiring the
cause of this renewed longing.  It was a May-day--a perfect Ontario
May-day--all a luxury of blossoms and perfume.  In the morning rain had
fallen, and though now the clouds lay piled in dazzling white
mountain-heaps far away on the horizon, leaving the dome above an empty
quivering blue, still the fields and the gardens remembered the showers
with gratitude and sparkled joyously under their garniture of
diamond-drops.  The wild cherry-trees bordering the lane and the
highway, and the orchard behind the house were smothered in odorous
blossoms of white and pink.  A big flower-laden hawthorn grew in the
lane, near the little gate leading from the garden.  From its topmost
spray a robin was pouring forth an ecstatic song--a song so out of
proportion to his tiny body that he was fairly shaken by his own
tumult--trills and whistles, calls and chuckles, all incoherently
mingled and shouted forth in glorious hysteria.  Miss Gordon looked up
at the mad little musician and her face grew sad.  She had recognized
the cause of her renewed longing for home.  At the little gate of her
Edinburgh garden there grew just such a hawthorn, and the perfume of
this one was telling her not of the joy and beauty before her, but of
all she had left behind.

Miss Gordon had never seen the loveliness nor felt the lure of this new
land--a garden-land though it was, of winding flower-fringed roads, of
cool, fairy-dells, and hilltops with heart-thrilling glimpses of lake
and forest and stream.  Her harp was always hanging on the willows of
this Canadian Babylon in mourning for the streets of Edinburgh.  She
could never quite rise above a feeling of resentment against the land
that held her in bondage, and never once dreamed that, should she go
back to the prim little house in McGlashan Street, with Cousin Griselda
and their cats and their embroidery and their cup of tea at exactly
half-past four in the afternoon, she would long for the old stone house
in the far-off Canadian valley, and the love and companionship of the
merry rioters who now made her days a burden.

Her grievance against Canada was due to the fact that she had crossed
the ocean merely to make one short summer's visit to brother William
and had been held a prisoner ever since.

It had all come about through Cousin Griselda's mistaken idea that to
be truly genteel one must travel.  The cousins had ever set before
themselves perfect refinement and gentility as the one condition to be
devoutly striven for, and the only one in keeping with the Gordon
traditions.  They lived in a quiet old house on a silent old street,
with a sleepy old servant and two somnolent old cats.  They were always
excessively polite to each other and to everyone with whom they came in
contact, even to the cats.  Every afternoon of their lives, except
Sunday, and once a month when the Ladies' Guild met at the manse, they
wore their second-best black dresses, their earrings and bracelets, and
sat in the parlor with the two cats and dozed and embroidered until
half-past four when the tea was brought in.  They always spoke slowly
and carefully, and conversed upon genteel subjects.  Nothing less
important than the doings of the Royal Family, or at least the
nobility, and, of course, once a week, the minister's sermon, was ever
discussed in their tiny parlor.  And as Cousin Griselda often remarked
privately, Who were more able to discourse with ease upon such themes?
For did there not live, right in Edinburgh, Sir William Gordon, who was
almost a second cousin to both, and whose wife, Lady Gordon, had once
called on them right there in McGlashan Street.

But Cousin Griselda was not content even with perfect refinement and
titled relatives, and her vaulting ambition had led to the great
mistake of Margaret's life.  The draper's wife next door had called,
and when she had gone and Keziah had carried away the three tea-cups,
Cousin Griselda had remarked upon the almost genuine air of grandeur
possessed by Mrs. Galbraith.  Margaret had asked how it could be, for
Mrs. Galbraith had no family connections and a husband in trade, and
Cousin Griselda had thereupon expressed the firm conviction that it was
because Mrs. Galbraith had traveled.  She had been twice to London and
several times to Liverpool.  Cousin Griselda concluded by declaring
that though a baronet in the family, and good blood were essential to
true gentility, no one could deny that travel in foreign lands gave an
air of distinction which nothing else could bestow.

The cousins were thoroughly disturbed in their minds thereafter and
talked much of travel, to the neglect of the Royal Family.  And even
while the subject was absorbing them there had come to Margaret her
brother William's letter from far-off Canada inviting her to visit him.
The bare thought that Margaret might go, set the cousins into a flutter
of excitement.  To be sure, Margaret argued, Canada was a very wild and
frost-bound country, scarcely the place one would choose to travel over
in search of further refinement.  But Griselda declared that surely, no
matter where dear William's lot might be cast, being a Gordon, he would
be surrounded by an atmosphere of gentility.  And so, little by little,
the preposterous idea grew into a reality, and by the time the cousins
had discussed the matter for a year, it was finally decided that
Margaret should go.

All through the twenty years of his absence, William's letters had been
just as beautifully written and as nicely phrased, as they had in his
student days in Edinburgh.  The paper was not always what true
refinement called for, but one could overlook that, when one remembered
that it probably came to him on dog-sleds over mountains of snow.  One
had to surmise much, of course, regarding William's experience in
Canada.  His letters were all of his inner life.  He said much
regarding his spiritual condition, of his grievous lapses of faith, of
his days on the Delectable Mountains and of his descents into the
Slough of Despond, but very little of the hills and valleys of his
adopted country.  Once, shortly after his arrival, he had stated that
he was living in a shanty where the bush came right up to the door.
Margaret had had some misgivings, but Cousin Griselda had explained
that a shanty was in all probability a dear little cottage, and the
bush might be an American rose bush, or more likely a thorn, which in
springtime would be covered with May.

But now William lived in a comfortable stone house, had married, and
had a family growing up around him, who were all anxious to see their
Old Country aunt.  And so the unbelievable at last came to pass and his
sister sailed for Quebec.

In the home land William Gordon had entered training for the ministry.
His parents had died, owning their chief regret that they could not see
their son in the pulpit, and his sister received the bitterest
disappointment of her life, when he abandoned the calling.  But William
was largely Celt by blood and wholly so by nature and had visions.  In
one of them he had seen himself before the Great White Throne,
worthless, sin-stricken.  What was he that dared to enter such a holy
calling as the ministry?  He who was as the dust of the earth, a priest
of the Most High God!  He beat his brow at the blasphemy of the
thought.  It was Nadab or Abihu he was or a son of Eli, and the Ark
would depart forever from God's people, did he dare to raise his
profaning hands in its ministry.  And so, partly to escape his sister's
reproaches, he had sailed away to Canada.  Here he had tried various
occupations, and finally settled down to teaching school away back in
the forests of Lake Simcoe.  He married, and when a large family was
growing up around him, and the ever-menacing poverty had at last seized
them, he experienced the first worldly success of his life.

About a mile from the school which had witnessed his latest failure,
there lay a beautiful little valley.  Here an eccentric Englishman
named Jarvis had built a big stone house and for a few years had
carried on a semblance of farming.  This place he called The Dale, and
here he lived alone, except for an occasional visit from his wife, who
watched his farming operations with disapproving eye from a neighboring
town.  The schoolmaster was his only friend, and when he died, while he
left the farm to his wife, he bequeathed to William Gordon his big
stone house and barns, and the four-acre field in which they stood.
Fortune had looked for the first time upon the Gordons, and she deigned
them a second glance.  Through the energy of his wife and the influence
of her people, the MacDonalds, who owned half the township of Oro,
William Gordon obtained the position of township clerk.  On the modest
salary from this office, supplemented by the four acres where they
pastured their cow and raised garden produce, the family managed to
live; and here the young Gordons grew up, healthy and happy, and quite
unconscious of the fact that they were exceedingly poor.

But someone had suffered in the fight against want, and when the worst
of the struggle was over the brave mother began to droop.  William
Gordon had been a kind husband, but he lived with his head in the
clouds.  His eyes were so dazzled by distant visions that he had failed
to notice that most beautiful vision at his side, a noble woman wearing
her life away in self-forgetful toil for him and his children.  She
never spoke of her trials, for her nature was of the kind that finds
its highest enjoyment in sacrifice.  She was always bright and gay.
Her smile and her ready laughter brightened the home in the days of her
husband's deepest spiritual gloom.  But one day even the smile failed.
At the birth of their eighth child she went out into a new life, and
the noble sacrifice was complete.

The long-expected aunt from the Old Country sailed a short time before
baby Jamie's birth.  So when Miss Gordon arrived, it was to an
unexpected scene--a darkened home, a brother stunned by his loss, and a
family of orphans, the eldest, a frightened-eyed girl of sixteen, the
youngest, a wailing infant of a few days.

Miss Gordon was made of good Scotch granite, with a human heart
beneath.  The veneer of gentility had underneath it the pure gold of
character.  She seized the helm of the family ship with a heroic hand.
She sailed steadily through a sea of troubles that often threatened to
overwhelm her; the unaccustomed task of motherhood with its hundred
trials, her brother's gloom and despair, the new conditions of the
rough country--even the irony of a fate that had set her at hard,
uncongenial toil in the very place where she had sought culture.  But
she succeeded, and had not only held her own poise in the struggle, but
had managed to permeate the family life with something of her old-world
refinement.

It was four long years since she had seen the hawthorn blooming in her
home garden.  And now the infant of that dark springtime was the sturdy
boy, rolling over the grass with Collie, and the sixteen-year-old girl,
with the big frightened eyes, was the tall young woman up there at the
gate beside the figure in gray tweed.

Miss Gordon had stood the trial, partly because she had never accepted
the situation as final.  She would go back to Edinburgh and Cousin
Griselda soon, she kept assuring herself, and though the date of her
departure always moved forward, rainbow-like at her approach, she found
much comfort in following it.

First she decided she must stay until the baby could walk, but when wee
Jamie went toddling about the big bare rooms, Annie had just left
school, and was not yet prepared to shoulder all the cares of
housekeeping.  She would wait until she saw Annie capable of managing
the home.  Then when Annie's skirts came down below her boot-tops, and
her hair went up in a golden pile upon her head, and she could bake
bread and sweep a room to perfection, the care of the next two children
presented itself.  Malcolm and Jean had from the first shown marked
ability at school, and Miss Gordon's long-injured pride found the
greatest solace in them.  She determined that Malcolm must be sent to
college, and William could never be trusted to do it.  By strict
economy she had managed to send both the clever ones to the High School
in the neighboring town for the past year; how could she leave them now
at the very beginning of their career?

And so the date of her return home moved steadily forward.  Sometimes
it went out of sight altogether and left her in despair.  For even if
the two brilliant ones should graduate and William should cease to be
so shockingly absent-minded, and the younger boys so shockingly
boisterous, and Mary so delicate, there was always Elizabeth.  Whenever
Miss Gordon contemplated the case of her third niece her castles in
Edinburgh toppled over.  What would become of Elizabeth if she were
left unguided?  What was to become of Elizabeth in any case, was an
ever-present question.

But in spite of all the ties that held her, Miss Gordon had determined
that, come what might, her homegoing was finally settled this time.  It
was to take place immediately after Annie's marriage.  For of course
Annie would marry--perhaps a rich gentleman from the town--who knew?
Then, when Annie was settled, Jean must leave school and keep house,
and she would sail away to Edinburgh and Cousin Griselda.

She made this final decision once again, with some stubbornness, as the
breath of the hawthorn brought a hint of her old garden.  She finished
Malcolm's sock with a determined snip of her scissors, and took up
John's.

Near the end of the long porch, a door led through the high board wall
into the orchard and kitchen-garden.  It swung noisily open, and a
tall, broad-shouldered young woman, arrayed in a gay print cotton gown,
a dusty black velvet sacque, and a faded pink hat, bounced heavily upon
the porch.

Miss Gordon glanced up, and her startled look changed to one of relief
and finally to severity.  She bent over her darning.

"Good-afternoon, Sarah Emily," she remarked frigidly.

The young person was apparently unabashed by her chilling reception.
She took one stride to the green bench that stood against the house and
dropped upon it, letting her carpet-bag fall with a thud to the floor.
She stretched out her feet in their thick muddy boots, untied her pink
hat strings, and emitted a sounding sigh.

"Laws--a--day, but I'm dead dog-tired," she exclaimed cordially.

Miss Gordon looked still severer.  Evidently Sarah Emily had returned
in no prodigal-son's frame of mind.  Ordinarily the mistress would have
sharply rebuked the girl's manner of speech, but now she bent to her
work with an air of having washed her hands finally of this stubborn
case.

But Sarah Emily was of the sort that could not be overawed by any
amount of dignity.  She was not troubled, either, with a burdensome
sense of humility--no, not even though this was the third time she had
"given notice," and returned uninvited.

"Well," she exclaimed at length, as though Miss Gordon were arguing the
case with her, "I jist had to have a recess.  There ain't no one could
stand the penoeuvres of that young Lizzie, an' the mud she trailed all
over the kitchen jist after I'd scrubbed!"

Miss Gordon showed no signs of sympathy.  She felt some, nevertheless,
and suppressed a sigh.  Elizabeth certainly was a trial.  She deigned
no remark, however, and Sarah Emily continued the one-sided
conversation all unabashed.

"I hoofed it every fut o' the road," she remarked aggrievedly.

Miss Gordon took a new thread from her ball and fitted it into her
needle with majestic dignity.

Sarah Emily was silent a moment, then hummed her favorite song.

  "_My grandmother lives on yonder little green,
  As fine an old lady as ever was seen,
  She has often cautioned me with care,
  Of all false young men to beware!_


"I couldn't abide that there Mrs. Oliver another five minutes.  She had
too stiff a backbone for me, by a whole pail o' starch."

Miss Gordon's face changed.  Here was news.  Sarah Emily had been at
service in town during her week's absence, and not only that, she had
actually been in one of its most wealthy and influential families!  To
Miss Gordon, the town, some three miles distant, was a small Edinburgh,
and she pined for even a word from someone, anyone, there who moved in
its social world.  She longed to hear more, but realized she could not
afford to relax just yet.

"Perhaps you will understand now what it means to be under proper
discipline," she remarked.

"Well, I wasn't kickin' about bein' under that, whatever it is.  It was
bein' under her thumb I couldn't abide--makin' me wear a white bonnet
in the afternoons, jist as if I was an old granny, an' an apron not big
enough for a baby's bib!"

Miss Gordon longed to rebuke the girl sharply, but could not bear to
lose the glimpse of real genteel life.

"She has one girl an' one boy--an' that there boy!  She'd dress him up
in a new white get-up, 'bout every five minutes, an' he'd walk straight
outside an' wallow in the mud right after.  I thought I'd a' had to
stand an' iron pants for that young heathen till the crack o' doom, an'
I had just one pair too many so I had.  An' I up an' told her you'd
think she kep' a young centipede much less a human boy with only two
legs to him.  And then I up and skedaddled."

Miss Gordon's conscience added its protest to that of her dignity, and
she spoke.

"I prefer that you should not discuss your various mistresses with me,
Sarah Emily.  I can have nothing to do with your affairs now, you see."

Sarah Emily lilted the refrain of her song:

  "_Timmy--eigh timmy--um, timmy--tum--tum--tum,
  Of all false young men to beware!_


"Would you like muffins or pancakes for supper?" she finished up
graciously.

Miss Gordon hesitated.  Sarah Emily was a great trial to genteel
nerves, but she was undeniably a great relief from much toilsome labor
that was quite incompatible with a genteel life.  Sarah Emily noticed
her hesitation and went on:

"When Mrs. Jarvis came she had me make muffins every morning for
breakfast."

Miss Gordon dropped her knitting, completely off her guard.

"Why, Sarah Emily!" she cried, "you don't mean--not Elizabeth's Mrs.
Jarvis."

Sarah Emily nodded, well-pleased.

"Jist her, no less!  She's been visitin' Mrs. Oliver for near a month
now, an' she was askin' after Lizzie, too.  I told her where I was
from.  I liked her.  Me and her got to be awful good chums, but I
couldn't stand Mrs. Oliver.  An' Mrs. Jarvis says, 'Why, how's my
little namesake?'  An' o' course I put Lizzie's best side foremost.  I
made her out as quiet as a lamb, an' as good an' bidable as Mary."

"Sarah Emily!"--Miss Gordon had got back some of her severity--"you
didn't tell an untruth?"

"Well, not exactly, but I guess I scraped mighty nigh one."

"What did Mrs. Jarvis say?"

"She said she wasn't much like her mother then, an' she hoped she
wouldn't grow up a little prig, or some such thing.  An' she told
me"--here Sarah Emily paused dramatically, knowing she was by this
reinstating herself into the family--"she told me to tell you she was
goin' to drive out some day next week and see you all, an' see what The
Dale looked like."

Miss Gordon's face flushed pink.  Not since the day Lady Gordon called
upon her and Cousin Griselda had she been so excited.  It seemed too
good to be true that her dream that this rich lady, who had once owned
The Dale and for whom little Elizabeth had been called, should really
come to them.  Surely Lizzie's fortune was made!

She turned gratefully towards her maid.  Sarah Emily had arisen and was
gathering up her hat and carpet-bag.  For the first time her mistress
noted the weary droop of the girl's strong frame.

"We needn't have either muffins or pancakes, Sarah Emily," she said
kindly.  "Put away your things upstairs and I shall tell Jean and Mary
to set the table for you."

But Sarah Emily sprang airily towards the kitchen door, strengthened by
the little touch of kindness.

"Pshaw, don't you worrit your head about me!" she cried gayly.  "I'll
slap up a fine supper for yous all in ten minutes."  She swung open the
kitchen door at the end of the porch, and turned before she slammed it.
She stood a moment regarding her mistress affectionately.

"I tell ye what, ma'am," she cried in a burst of gratitude, "bad as ye
are, other people's worse!"

She banged the door and strode off singing loudly:

  "_Timmy--eigh timmy--um, timmy--tum--tum--tum,
  Of all false young men to beware!_


Miss Gordon accepted the doubtfully worded compliment for all it really
meant from Sarah Emily's generous heart.  But the crudeness of it
jarred upon her genteel nerves.  Unfortunately Miss Gordon was not so
constituted as to see its humor.

She darned on, quickly and excitedly.  Her dream that the rich Mrs.
Jarvis should one day take a fancy to the Gordons and make their
fortune was growing rosier every moment.  Little Jamie came wandering
over the grass towards her.  His hands were full of dandelions and he
looked not unlike an overgrown one himself with his towsled yellow
curls.  He leaned across her knee, his curly head hanging down, and
swayed to and fro, crooning a little sleepy song.  Miss Gordon's thin
hand passed lovingly over his silky hair.  Her face grew soft and
beautiful.  At such times the castles in Edinburgh grew dim and ceased
to allure.

She arose and took the child's hand.  "Come, Jamie dear," she said,
"and we'll meet father."  And so great was her good-humor, caused by
her hopeful news, that when Annie met her shyly at the garden gate with
the young schoolmaster following, her aunt gave him a stately but
cordial invitation to supper.  In view of the prospects before the
family, she felt she could for the time at least let the tavern-keeping
ancestor go on suspended sentence.

The Gordons gathered noisily about the supper table, William Gordon, a
tall, thin man, strongly resembling his sister, but with all her
severity and force of character missing, came wandering in from his
study.  His eyes bright and kindly, but with a far-away, absent look,
beamed over the large table.  He sat down, then catching sight of the
guest standing beside Annie, rose, and shook him cordially by the hand.

The family seated themselves in their accustomed places, Annie, the
pretty one, at her father's right hand, then Malcolm and Jean, the
clever ones, John the quiet one, and Mary, the delicate one--a pale
little girl with a sweet, pathetic mouth.  On either side of their aunt
were the two little boys, Archie and Jamie, and there was a plate
between Mary and John which belonged to an absent member of the family.
Here the visitor sat, and Sarah Emily was squeezed into a corner near
her mistress.  That Sarah Emily should sit with the family at all was
contrary to Miss Gordon's wishes, and one of the few cases in which she
yielded to her brother.  She had brought Sarah Emily from a Girls' Home
four years before, and had decreed that she would show the neighbors
the proper Old Country way of treating a servant.  Sarah Emily was far
from the Old Country type, however, and William seemed to have
forgotten that servants had a place of their own since he had lived so
long in the backwoods.  When the family would arrange themselves at
table, with the maid standing properly behind her mistress, Mr. Gordon
would wait for her to be seated before asking the blessing, regarding
her with gentle inquiring eyes, and finally requesting her in a mildly
remonstrating tone to come away and sit down like a reasonable body.
And Sarah Emily, highly pleased, would drag a chair across the bare
floor and plant herself down with a satisfied thud right on top of the
family gentility.  Miss Gordon tried many ways to prevent repetition of
the indignity by keeping Sarah Emily out of the way.  She disliked
explaining, for William was rather queer about some things since he had
been so long in this country.  But Sarah Emily always contrived to be
on hand just as the family were being seated.  And finally, when her
brother inquired anxiously if she wasn't afraid Sarah Emily had Roman
Catholic leanings, since she refused to sit down at the table for
grace, Miss Gordon gave up the struggle, and to the joy of all the
children, Sarah Emily became one of the family indeed.

"Where's Lizzie?" asked the guest, when the pancakes had been
circulated.  He addressed his host, but looked at Annie.  Mr. Gordon
gazed around wonderingly.  "Lizzie?  I didn't miss the wee lamb.
Where's our little 'Lizbeth, Margaret?"

Miss Gordon sighed.  William never knew where the children were.  "Did
you forget it's Saturday?" she inquired.  "Elizabeth always spends
Saturday afternoon with Mrs. MacAllister," she explained to the young
man.

"Mrs. MacAllister is very much attached to Elizabeth," she added,
feeling very kindly just now toward her most trying child.

"Lizzie always does her home-work over there," ventured Archie, "'cause
Charles Stuart does her sums for her."  John gave the speaker a warning
kick.  Archie was only seven and extremely indiscreet, but John was
twelve and knew that whatever a Gordon might do or say to his sister in
the bosom of his own family, he must uphold her before all outsiders,
and particularly in the presence of a school-teacher.

But the school-teacher was in a very happy unprofessional frame of
mind.  "Never mind," he said, "Lizzie will beat you all at something,
some day!"

He knew that a good word for the little sister always brought an
approving light into the blue eyes across the table.  Annie smiled
radiantly.

"What is Lizzie best at?" she inquired with sweet anxiety.

Young Mr. Coulson looked at his plate and thought desperately.  To
discover any subject in which Lizzie Gordon was efficient was enough to
confound any teacher.  Then he remembered the caricatures of himself he
had discovered on her slate.

"She has a remarkable talent for drawing," he said generously.

Annie beamed still brighter, and Miss Gordon glanced at him
approvingly.  She really did hope the story about the tavern-keeper was
not true.

"Perhaps Elizabeth will be a great artist some day," she suggested.

"And she'll paint all our pictures," added Jean, "and we'll be more
like the Primrose family than ever."  The Gordons all laughed.  They
generally laughed when Jean spoke, because she was always supposed to
say something sharp.

Mr. Gordon had lately been reading aloud the "Vicar of Wakefield," and,
as always when a book was being read by them, the Gordons lived in its
atmosphere and spoke in its language.

"Father will be the Vicar," said Annie, "and Aunt Margaret"--she looked
half-frightened at her own audacity--"Aunt Margaret will be Mrs.
Primrose."

"And you'll be Olivia," added Jean.  "I'll be Sophia, with John and
Mary for my sheep, and Malcolm can be Moses and wear Annie's hat with
the feather in it."

The Gordons all laughed again.

"And who'll be the Squire?" asked little Mary, gazing admiringly at her
wonderful sister.  "Mr. Coulson would do, wouldn't he?"

Two faces strove to hide their blushes behind the bouquet of cherry
blossoms which Sarah Emily had placed upon the table in honor of her
return.

There was an intense silence.  Mr. Gordon looked up.  Nothing aroused
him so quickly from his habitual reverie as silence at the table,
because it was so unusual.  He beheld his second son indulging in one
of his spasms of silent laughter.

"What is the fun about?" he inquired genially, and then all the
Gordons, except the eldest and the youngest, broke into giggles.  Miss
Gordon's voice, firm, quiet, commanding, saved the situation.  She
turned to Mr. Coulson and remarked, in her stateliest manner, that it
had been a wonderful rain, just such a downpour as they had in
Edinburgh the day after Lady Gordon called--she who was the wife of Sir
William Gordon--their cousin for whom her brother had been called.

Young Mr. Coulson seized upon the subject with a mighty interest, and
plunged into a description of a terrible storm that had swept over Lake
Simcoe in his grandfather's days--thunder and hail and blackness.  The
storm cleared the atmosphere at the table, and Annie's cheeks were
becoming cool again, when the young man brought the deluge upon himself
in the most innocent manner.

"There are signs of it yet," he went on.  "Did you ever see the old
log-house at the first jog in the Ridge Road?" he inquired of Malcolm.
"Well, there are holes in the chimney yet where the lightning came
through.  I can remember my grandfather lifting me up to look at them.
He kept tavern there in the bad old days," he added cordially, "but the
Coulsons have become quite respectable since."

There was another silence deeper than the last.  Even young Archie,
smothering himself with a huge slab of bread and butter and caring
little about anything else, understood that to be related to a
tavern-keeper placed one far beyond the pale of respectability.  Annie
was looking at her lap now, all her rosiness gone.  The young man
glanced about him half-puzzled, and Miss Gordon again saved the day by
introducing a genteel word about Edinburgh and Lady Gordon.

But, as they left the table, she decided that again her home-going must
be postponed until all danger of a Gordon uniting with the grandson of
a tavern-keeper was passed.



CHAPTER II

THE WILD STREAK

The valley where the Gordons lived had narrowly escaped having a
village at the corner.  The surrounding district held all the
requirements of one, but they did not happen to be placed near enough
to one another.  At the cross-roads in the center of the valley stood a
store and post-office.  But the blacksmith's shop, which should have
been opposite, was missing.  In the early days the blacksmith, being a
Highland Scot, had refused to work opposite the storekeeper, who was
only a Lowlander, and had set up his business over on the proud
seclusion of the next concession.  The school, too, had got mislaid
somehow, away to the south out of sight.  So the valley was left to the
farms and orchards, and contained only five homes in all its length.

But where man had been neglectful, nature had lavished wealth,
performing great feats in the way of landscape gardening.  On all
sides, the vale was held in by encircling hills.  The eastern boundary
was steep and straight and was known as Arrow Hill.  On its summit
stood a gaunt old pine stump, scarred and weather-beaten.  Here, an old
Indian legend said, the Hurons were wont to tie a captive while they
showered their arrows into his quivering body.  The children of the
valley could point out the very holes in the old trunk where certain
arrows, missing their victim, had lodged.  Away opposite, forming the
western wall, rose the Long Hill, with a moss-fringed road winding
lingeringly up its face.  Down through the cedars and balsams that
hedged its side tumbled a clear little brook, singing its way through
the marigolds and musk that lovingly strove to hold it back.  Reaching
the valley, it was joined by the waters that oozed from a great dark
swamp to the south, and swelling into a good-sized stream, it wound its
way past The Dale, held in by steep banks, all trilliums and pinks and
purple violets and golden touch-me-not, and hedged by a double-line of
feathery white-stemmed birches.

From east to west of the valley stretched a straight road, hard and
white.  Old Indian tales hung about it also.  It was an early Huron
trail, they said, and the one followed by Champlain when he marched
over from the Ottawa valley and found Lake Simcoe hanging like a
sapphire pendant from the jewel-chain of the Great Lakes.  It was still
called Champlain's Road, and had in it something of the ancient Indian
character.  For it cut straight across country over hill and stream,
all unmindful of Government surveys or civilized lines.

Just a few miles beyond Arrow Hill it ran into the little town of
Cheemaun, and on market-days its hard, white surface rang with the beat
of hoofs and the rattle of wheels.  In the early morning the procession
rolled forward, strong and eager for the day's bargaining, and at night
it swept back bearing some weary ones, some gleeful over their
money-getting, some jealous and dissatisfied because of the wealth and
ease they had seen, and some glad to return to the quiet and peace of
their farm homes.  And there were always the few who lurched along,
caring not whether they reached home or fell by the wayside, having
sold their manhood over the bar of one of Cheemaun's many hotels.

And thus the tide of rural life ebbed and flowed, beating ceaselessly
against the town, leaving its impress both for good and ill, bringing
back on its waves treasure-trove to be swallowed by the deep of the
country, and often, too, carrying on its surface some of the urban
community's slime and filth.

On this May evening Champlain's Road stretched across the valley, not
white and hard, but softened by the rain, and looking like a great
broad lilac ribbon, set here and there with sparkling jewels made by
the pools of water.  The sun had slipped behind the cedars of the Long
Hill and the valley was clothed in a wonderful combination of all
shades of blue--the cloak Mother Nature so often throws round her
shoulders after a shower.  The towering elms, the glossy beeches, and
the spreading maples, that grew on either side of the highway, were all
bathed in the blue radiance.  The old snake fences, smothered in
raspberry and alder bushes, were a deep purple, and the white rapture
of the cherry-trees and the orchards by the farm-houses had turned a
delicate lilac.  The valley had taken on heaven's own blue this
evening, and smiled back at the gleaming skies with something of their
own beauty.

On every side the robins shouted their joy from the treetops, the
bob-o'-links tinkled their fairy bells as they wheeled above the
clover-fields; and from the dainty line of white-stemmed birches that
guarded the stream came the mingled even-song of the frogs and the
veeries.

There was but one pedestrian on Champlain's Road this quiet evening.
This was a small person who had just emerged from a farm gate at the
foot of the Long Hill.  Back from the gate stood an old farm-house and
at its door a woman was standing.  She was knitting a long gray sock,
holding her ball under her arm, knitting swiftly, even while her eyes
followed lovingly the little figure skipping along the lavender road.
The soft blue light touched her silver hair and her white apron and
turned the gray homespun dress into a royal robe of purple worthy of
the owner's wearing.  The little figure danced out of sight behind a
clump of cedars and the woman turned from the doorway with a tender
smile that ended in a sigh.  One evening her own little girl had passed
down the lane and along Champlain's Road to the churchyard beyond the
hills, and this little one filled somewhat the dreary space in the
mother's heart.

Meanwhile, the one pedestrian on the lavender road was going swiftly
on.  She was clothed in a blue checked pinafore and a sunbonnet of the
same material, which absorbed the blue light and glowed with vivid
color.  Beneath the sunbonnet hung a long heavy braid of shiny brown
hair, with a reddish streak down the middle of it.  The pinafore was
tucked up round the owner's waist to form a bag, in which were carried
a pair of stockings and strong, copper-toed boots, three very wrinkled
apples, a bunch of wilted marigolds, and a cake of maple-sugar.  The
small person clutched this bundle in her arms and held up her short
skirts in a highly improper manner, while she went splashing through
the puddles singing a loud and riotous song.

This was Elizabeth.  And this unseemly manner of peregrination
displayed just one of Elizabeth's trying peculiarities.  For four years
she had been faithfully taught that little girls should never go
barefoot outside their own gardens, and that when they were on the
public highway they must walk quietly and properly on the grass by the
roadside.  When she remembered, Elizabeth strove to conform to the laws
of home and social usage, for she was very docile by nature; but then
Elizabeth seldom remembered.  When she did, it was only to recall
hopelessly her aunt's many times reiterated statement that Lizzie had
the wild streak of the MacDuffs in her, and what could you expect?  The
Gordon family had generally been genteel enough to keep this
objectionable MacDuff connection hidden, but occasionally it came out
in red hair, deep gray eyes, and a wild, erratic disposition.  To be
sure, little Elizabeth's hair was not red, but a deep nut-brown,
shading to rich yellow at the ends, where it curled upwards.  But down
the middle of her heavy brown braid ran a thick strand of reddish gold,
quite enough to account for the vagaries of her behavior.  And there
was no doubt about Elizabeth's eyes--those unfathomable gray eyes that
looked steel blue or soft gray or deep black, according to the owner's
mood.  Yes, Elizabeth had the two fatal badges of the wild MacDuffs,
coupled with dear knows what inheritance from her mother's people, the
fighting MacDonalds, who had been the scandal of the whole countryside
in the early days.

Having heard all this many, many times from her aunt, Elizabeth had
finally accepted the sad fact that she had "a wild streak" in her, just
as she accepted the variegated color of her hair, not without much
rebellion against her fate though, and many tears of repentance, and
frequent solemn pledges to walk in unstreaked propriety for the rest of
her days.

At other times she recklessly concluded that it was impossible to
battle against destiny.  For one never knew just how one was going to
act.  For a very chameleon was this strange Elizabeth, always the color
of her surroundings.  Being just ten-and-a-half, she would act with the
wisdom of an ancient sage when in company with Mrs. MacAllister, and
the foolishness of a spring lamb when left to gambol with her little
brother.  To-night her spirit had caught the joyous note of the
wonderful spring evening, and she was like the valley, gay and
sparkling and noisy with delight.  Besides, this was the first time she
had ever been allowed to go home alone from Mother MacAllister's, and
the sense of freedom went to her head.

So, along the lavender road she skipped, holding her skirts very high,
splashing mud over her pinafore and even her sunbonnet, and singing
loudly:

  "_She's ower the border an' awa
  Wi' Jock o' Hazeldean!_"


Mr. MacAllister had sung this song after supper, between the puffs of
his pipe, as he sat on the wash bench by the door, and Mother
MacAllister had told them the story, as she and Elizabeth washed up the
dishes, the story of the lady of high degree who had cast aside wealth
and noble lovers to hie awa wi' Jock o' Hazeldean.

Charles Stuart, who was Mother MacAllister's really, truly child, had
interrupted to inquire what "ower the border an' awa'" meant, and
Elizabeth had felt impatient enough to slap him had she dared.  Charles
Stuart was very stupid about some things, though he could spell and
always got the right answer to a sum in school.  Elizabeth knew exactly
what it meant, though she could not have explained.  It was just what
she was doing now, as she leaped from pool to pool with her skirts and
her pinafore in a string about her waist--fleeing in ecstasy away,
away, to that far-off undiscovered country of dreams, "Ower the border."

Her joyous abandon was rudely checked.  There was a quick splash from a
pool not a yard ahead of her, where a stone hit the water sharply.
Elizabeth stopped in alarm.  She whirled round towards the low fence
bordering the highway.  Its innocent appearance, all draped in woodbine
and fringed with alder and raspberry bushes, did not deceive her in the
least.  "You're a nasty, mean, mean boy, Charles Stuart MacAllister!"
she cried indignantly to the thickest clump of alders.  She dropped her
dress and stepped to the grassy side of the road, filled with rage.  Of
course it was Charles Stuart.  He was always in the direction whence
stones and abuse came.  It had ever seemed to Elizabeth the strangest
injustice that a dear, lovely lady like Mother MacAllister should have
been so shabbily treated both in the quantity and quality of the family
Providence had given her.  For while there were eight Gordons, and
every one of them fairly nice at times, there was but one single
solitary MacAllister, and a boy at that; yes, and sometimes the very
nastiest boy that went to Forest Glen School!

She walked along with a haughtiness her Aunt Margaret might have envied
and took not the smallest notice when a little turbulent fox-terrier,
with many squeaks and squirms, wriggled through a hole in the fence and
came bounding towards her.  And she turned her head and gazed
absorbedly across the fields when it was followed by a boy who pitched
himself over the fence and crossed to her side.

"Hello, Lizzie!" he cried, his brown eyes dancing in his brown face in
the friendliest manner.  "Mother says I've got to see you home."

Elizabeth's head went higher.  She fixed her eyes on the line of
white-stemmed birches that guarded the stream.  Neither did she deign
to notice "Trip," who frisked and barked about her.

Charles Stuart came a step nearer and took hold of the long, heavy
braid.  "Mud-turtle, Lizzie!" he hissed.  "Mud-turtle!  Look out there!
Your neck's gettin' that long you'll hit the telegraph wires in another
minute."

Elizabeth's shoulders came up towards her ears with a quick, convulsive
movement.  Her dignity vanished.  Her long neck, her long hair, her
long fingers, and her gray eyes were features over which much teasing
had made her acutely sensitive.

She whirled round, made a slap at her tormentor, which he dodged,
stumbled over Trip, who was always in the way, and fell full length
upon the wet grass, scattering her treasures far and wide.  Trip
snatched up a boot and began worrying it; Charles Stuart shouted with
laughter; and Elizabeth picked herself up, sank upon a stone, and began
to cry.

The boy was all repentance immediately.  He gathered up the apples, the
stockings, the maple sugar, and even the faded bunch of marigolds,
rescued the boot from Trip, and handed them all to their owner,
remembering contritely how his mother had said he must be kind to
little Lizzie on the way home and, above all things, not to make her
cry.

Elizabeth received her treasures with averted face.  "I wish you'd go
back home and leave me alone," she wailed, as she wiped away her tears
with the muddy skirt of her pinafore.

"Well, I'd like to," said Charles Stuart honestly; "but mother said I'd
got to see you home.  Hurrah, Lizzie!  Aw, come on, I won't tease you
any more."

So Elizabeth rose, not without much of the dignity of a broken heart in
her attitude, and walked forward in a very stately fashion indeed.

Charles Stuart did his best to make amends.  He pointed out the
oriole's little cradle that swung from the elm bough high above their
heads.  He showed her the ground-hogs' hole beside the hollow stump and
the wasps' nest in the fence corner, until at last friendly relations
were once more established.

They walked along side-by-side: he, splashing through the blue
rainpools; she, envious and proper, stepping over the soft, wet grass.
She was slightly disconcerted, too; for a Charles Stuart that walked
beside you on the public highway, and did not run and hide nor throw
stones, nor even pull your hair, was something to raise even more
apprehension than when he behaved naturally.

But the young man was really trying to atone for his sins, for a reason
Elizabeth could never have guessed, and he now sidled up to her holding
something in his hand.

"Say, Lizzie?"

"What?"

"Don't you want this?"  He handed her, with an embarrassed attempt at
nonchalance, a very sticky little candy tablet.  It was pretty and pink
and had some red printing on it.  Elizabeth took it, quite overwhelmed
with surprise and gratitude.  She was just about to put it into her
mouth when she thought of Jamie.  The little brother loved sweeties so.
Of course she had saved her cake of maple sugar for him, all but one
tiny bite; but a pink candy was ever so much better.  With a hasty
"thanks," she slipped it into her pinafore with her other treasures.

Charles Stuart looked disappointed.  He picked up some stones, shied
one at the telegraph wires, and another at the green glass fixture at
the top of the pole.  This last proceeding caused Elizabeth to scream
and beseech him to stop.  For Malcolm had said that a dreadful man
would come out from town and put you in jail if you committed this
crime.  Charles Stuart, having accomplished his purpose in fixing
Elizabeth's attention upon himself once more, desisted, and cast his
last stone with a crash into the raspberry bushes by the roadside.

"Ain't you goin' to read it?" he asked, with his back towards her.

"Read what, the candy?"

"O' course."

Elizabeth paused and rummaged in her pinafore.  She bundled shoes and
stockings aside and fished out the little pink tablet.  The legend,
inscribed in red letters, was, "Be my girl."  She read it aloud quite
impersonally.  She did not object to it, for fear of hurting Charles
Stuart's feelings; but she wished that it had been, "Be my boy,"
instead.  It would have been so appropriate for Jamie.  For every day
she bribed and coaxed him to be "Diddy's boy," in preference to Mary's
or Jean's or even Annie's.

Charles Stuart waited for some comment, feeling that Elizabeth was
certainly very dull.  No wonder she could never get a sum right at
school, and was always foot of the spelling class.  He flung another
stone to relieve his feelings; this time in the direction of a pair of
chiming bob-o'-links that, far over the clover-meadow, went up and down
in an airy dance.  He felt he must put forth another effort to make his
position clear to Elizabeth's dull wits.

"Say, Lizzie, did anybody ever--ever see you home before?"

Elizabeth stared.  Surely Charles Stuart must be wandering in his mind,
for how could he help knowing that his mother or father or Long Pete
Fowler, the hired man, often accompanied indeed by Charles Stuart
himself, had always, heretofore, seen her home?

"Of course," she answered wonderingly.  "But I'm a big girl now, I'm
going on eleven, and I'm too old to have anybody see me home."

This was worse than ever.  Charles Stuart looked at her in perplexity.
Then he came straight to the point in the wise old way.

"Say, Lizzie, I think you're the nicest girl in all Forest Glen School."

Elizabeth stared again; not so much at the remark, though it was
extremely absurd, for Charles Stuart hated all girls, as at his
uncomfortable subdued manner, which she now began to notice.  She felt
vaguely sorry for him.  Charles Stuart never acted like that unless his
father had been giving him a scolding.  Her sympathy made her
responsive.

"Do you?" she cried.  "Oh, I'm so glad, Charles Stuart."

This was making fine progress.  The young man looked vastly encouraged.

"I'm going away to the High School, in Cheemaun, if I pass next
summer," he said, with not so much irrelevance as might appear.

Elizabeth was all interest.  To "pass" and go to the High School in the
neighboring town was the grand ambition of every boy and girl in Forest
Glen School.

"Oh, are you, Charles Stuart?  Maybe John is, too."

"Yes."  He was getting on famously now.  "Father says I can.  And I'm
going to college after."

"And what'll you be?" asked Elizabeth admiringly.

"I'm not sure," said Charles Stuart grandly.  "Mother wants me to be a
minister, but I think I'd rather be a horse-doctor."

Elizabeth looked dubious.  She did not like to differ from Mother
MacAllister, but she could not see how it would be possible to make
anything like a minister out of such an uncomfortable, hair-pulling
stone-thrower as Charles Stuart.

"You'd best be a horse-doctor, Charles Stuart," she advised wisely.
After all, that was a very noble calling, Elizabeth felt.  Once a
horse-doctor had come out from town to Rosie Carrick's place and
Rosie's pussy had been sick, and he had given it medicine which cured
it.  She related the incident for Charles Stuart's encouragement, but
he did not seem very favorably impressed.  Pulling pussy-cats' tails
was more in Charles Stuart's line.  He began to show leanings towards
the ministry.

"Mother says it's a grander thing to be a minister than anything else
in the world," he asserted.  "But you have to know an awful lot, I
guess."

"And you have to be most awful good," said Elizabeth emphatically.

"Mother says you have to be most awful good no matter what you are,"
said Charles Stuart, with greater wisdom.

Elizabeth nodded; but she could not allow the ministry to be belittled.

"My father was nearly a minister once, but he said he wasn't good
enough, and he's the very, very goodest man that ever lived."

"It'll be easy to be good when we're grown up," said Charles Stuart.

"Oh, yes, ever so easy," said Elizabeth comfortably.

"And, say--Lizzie."

"What?"

Charles Stuart was looking embarrassed again.  "I'm--I'm nearly twelve,
you know."

They had reached the big gate between the willows by this time.
Elizabeth flung her treasure trove upon the grass and, springing upon
the gate, swung out on to the road again.

"Well, I know that," she said, wondering what such gratuitous
information had to do either with being a minister or riding a gate,
"and I'm going on eleven."

Charles Stuart mounted on the other side and swung, too.  It was rather
childish, but he was bound to be agreeable until he got something off
his mind.

"Well, you know--when I'm done going to college, and we've grown up
we'll have to get married, you and me.  Long Pete Fowler said so."

Elizabeth did not look at all impressed.  Such a proposition did not
appeal to her.  It was too vague and intangible.  People all got
married, of course, some day, but not until you were very, very old and
staid, and all the joy of life had departed from it--just as everybody
died some day.  But, though death was inevitable, Elizabeth did not
borrow trouble from that solemn fact.  Besides, she had far other and
greater ambitions than were dreamed of in Charles Stuart's philosophy.
She was going to be grand and famous some day--just how, Elizabeth had
not yet decided.  One day she would be a great artist, the next a
missionary in darkest Africa.  But Joan of Arc's life appealed to her
most strongly, and oftenest her dreams pictured herself clad in
flashing armor, mounted on a prancing charger, and leading an army of
brave Canadians to trample right over the United States.

So there was nothing very alluring in the prospect of exchanging all
this to settle down with Charles Stuart, even though one would be
living with dear Mother MacAllister, with whom one was always happy.
She looked at Charles Stuart, about to speak out her disdain, when the
expression of his face suddenly checked her.  Even as a child Elizabeth
had a marvelous intuition, which told her when another's feelings were
in danger of being hurt.  It gave her a strange, quite unacknowledged
feeling that she was far older and wiser than the children she played
with.  There was always an inner self sitting in judgment on all
childishness, even when she was on the highroad to every sort of
nonsense by way of the wild streak.

That inner self spoke now.  It said that Charles Stuart was very young
and silly, but he was also very nervous, and she must not hurt him.
She must pretend that she thought him very wise.  It would not be very
wicked, for was she not always pretending?  When Jamie said, "Be a
bear, Diddy," or "Be a bogey-man," Elizabeth would go down on her knees
and growl and roar, or pull her hair over her face, make goggle-eyes,
and hop madly about until the little brother was screaming with
ecstatic terror.  So when Charles Stuart said, "We'll get married," it
required less effort to comply than to be a bogey-man, and she nodded
radiantly, and said, "All right."

Charles Stuart looked equally radiant, and they swung back and forth
smiling at each other over the top of the gate.  Elizabeth began to
think it would not be such a bad bargain after all.  If Charles Stuart
was really going to like her, how much happier life would be!  For, of
course, he would never plot with John to run away from her any more,
and they three would play one perpetual game of ball for ever and ever.

They had swung some moments in happy silence when Charles Stuart, with
masculine obtuseness, made a blunder that shattered the airy fabric of
their dream.  He had been looking down into Elizabeth's deep eyes, and
exclaimed in honest surprise:

"Say, Lizzie, your eyes are green, I do declare!"

Elizabeth's face turned crimson.  To accuse her of having black eyes,
as many people did by lamplight, was horrid, horrid mean; to say her
eyes were gray was a deadly insult.  But to be told they were green!
She had only a minute before delicately spared Charles Stuart's
feelings, and now he had turned and trampled upon her most tender
sensibilities.

"They're not!  They're not!" she cried indignantly.  "They're blue, and
I won't play with you ever again, Charles Stuart MacAllister, you
nasty, nasty boy!"

She flung down off the gate and swept up her treasures from the wet
grass.  The sight of her roused all Charles Stuart's desire to tease.
She really looked so funny snatching up a shoe or stocking and dropping
it again in her wrath, while Trip grabbed everything she dropped and
shook it madly.  Charles Stuart jumped from the gate and began
imitating her, catching up a stone, letting it fall, with a shriek and
crying loudly at the top of his voice, while Trip, enjoying the noise
and commotion, went round and round after his tail just because he
could think of nothing else to do.

This was too much for Elizabeth.  Charles Stuart was heaping insult
upon insult.  She got the last article of her bundle crushed into her
pinafore, and as the boy, going through the same motions, raised his
head, she gave him a sounding slap in the face, turned, darted through
the gate, and went raging down the lane, dropping a shoe, a stocking,
an apple, or a piece of maple sugar at every bound.  She was blinded
with tears and choking with grief and anger--anger that Charles Stuart
should have cajoled her into thinking he intended to be nice to her,
and grief that she could have been so cruel.  Oh, what a terrible blow
she had struck!  Her hand tingled from it yet.  It must have hurt poor
Charles Stuart dreadfully, and after such conduct she could never hope
to be a lady.  Her aunt would be disgraced, and that wonderful lady,
whose name she bore, would never come to see her.  She was an outcast
whom nobody loved, for not even Mother MacAllister could like her now!

She could not go home, so she flung herself down upon the wet grass in
a corner of the lane and wept bitterly.  It was always so with
Elizabeth.  She was up in the clouds one moment and down in the depths
the next.  Her heart was breaking over the injury she had done.  For
the first time in her life she experienced a feeling of warm regard
towards Charles Stuart, simply because she had hurt him.

She stopped sobbing, and, raising herself from the ground, peeped out
through her tears to see if he were in sight.  Perhaps he was stunned
by the blow and was lying beneath the gate.  She could see no sign of
him and her heart stood still with dread.  She had been vaguely
conscious of joyous shouts and cries from the field behind the house
and had heard the rifle-crack of a baseball against the bat, telling
that there was a game in progress.  She was now made aware that the
joyous shouts were growing into a noisy clamor of welcome.  Above the
din she could hear John's roar: "Charles Stuart on our side!  I bar
Charles Stuart!"  And there was her false lover speeding across the
field towards her home, Trip at his heels!  Elizabeth arose from the
ground, dry-eyed and indignant.  She wished she had hit him harder.
Charles Stuart MacAllister was without doubt the horridest, horridest
boy that ever lived and she would never speak to him again--no, not if
she lived to be two hundred and went over to his place every Saturday
for a thousand years.  Just see if she would!

As she passed an alder clump and caught a glimpse of her aunt standing
near the garden gate talking with Mr. Coulson, Elizabeth became
suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of her shoeless and disheveled
condition.  She knew that, while untidy hair and a dirty pinafore were
extremely reprehensible, bare feet put one quite beyond the possibility
of being genteel.  That word "genteel" had become the shibboleth of the
Gordon family in the last four years.  It was poor Elizabeth's chief
burden in life.  For how could anyone hope to live up to it when she
was possessed of a wild streak?

Fortunately, her aunt was in deep conversation with Mr. Coulson, and
had not spied her.  She dropped upon the grass, safely hidden by the
alders, and began to drag her damp stockings over her muddy feet.
There would arise dire consequences from this later, but Elizabeth
found the evil of the hour sufficient unto it and never added the
troubles of the future.  As she sat thus busily engaged, she was
startled by the sound of footsteps and drew back further behind her
flowery screen.  The next moment Mr. Coulson strode rapidly past her
and up the lane without glancing to the right or left.  Elizabeth
stared after him.  He had passed so close she might have touched him,
and how pale and angry he looked!  The schoolmaster was one of the
objects upon which Elizabeth showered the wealth of her devotion, and
she was vaguely disturbed for him.  He looked just as if he had been
whipping someone in school.  Then her own uncomfortable condition
obtruded itself once more, and she arose.  She straightened her
sunbonnet, smoothed down her crumpled skirts and slowly and fearfully
took her way down the lane.  She dreaded to meet her aunt, knowing by
sad experience that as soon as that lady's eye fell upon her, not only
would all the misdemeanors of which she was conscious appear
silhouetted against Miss Gordon's perfection, but dozens of unsuspected
sins would spring to light and stand out black in the glare.

She peeped through the tangle of alders and saw that Aunt Margaret was
now talking to Annie, with her back to the lane, and the same instant
she spied a way of escape.  The lane ran straight past the big stone
house and down to the line of birches that bordered the stream, forming
the road by which Mr. MacAllister reached his old mill, lying away down
there in the hollow.  Down in the lower part of the lane where the
birches grew, William Gordon was wont to walk in the evenings, and here
Elizabeth, with infinite relief, spied him just coming into view from
beyond a curve.  He was walking slowly with bent head, his long, thin
hands clasped behind him.  At his side was a young man, of medium
height, thick-set, and powerful-looking.  This was Mr. Tom Teeter, who
worked the farm upon which The Dale stood, and lived only a few hundred
yards from the Gordons.  Mr. Teeter was an Irishman, with a fine gift
for speech-making.  He was much sought after, for tea-meetings and
during political campaigns, and had won the proud alliterative name of
Oro's Orator.  Tom was now holding forth hotly upon the "onparalleled
rascality and treachersome villainousness" of the Opposition in the
Ontario Legislature.

Elizabeth, her eyes alight, ran swiftly past the gate towards her
father.  She loved each member of her family with all the might of her
passionate heart; but she held for her father an especially tender
regard.  Her love for him had in it something of the sacred grief that
clung about the memory of her dead mother, something too of mother-love
itself, felt in a longing to comfort and protect him.  The stoop of his
thin shoulders, the silvering hair on his bowed head, and the sound of
his gentle voice all appealed to Elizabeth's heart in the same way as
when Jamie cried from a hurt.  Whenever he looked unusually sad and
abstracted, his little daughter yearned to fling her arms about his
neck and pet and caress him.  But Elizabeth knew better.  Such conduct
would be courting death by ridicule at the hands of the Gay Gordons.

She ran to him now, and, as there was only Tom Teeter to see, ventured
to slip her hand into his as she walked by his side.  Tom Teeter was
the bosom friend of every young Gordon, and he pulled her sunbonnet and
said:

"Hello, Lizzie!  How's the wild streak behavin'?"

Her father looked down at her, apparently just conscious of her
presence.  His eyes brightened.

"Well, well, little 'Lizbeth," he said.  "And where have you been?"

"Over to Mother MacAllister's.  And look, I've got three apples and
some maple sugar, and there's a piece of it for you, father, and I
found the marigolds at the crick."

"Well, well, yes, yes."  He seemed suddenly to remember something.
"What was it your aunt was saying?  Oh, yes, that I must go to the gate
and meet you.  And here you are!"

Elizabeth beamed.  "Come and tell her we're home then," she said
warily; and thus fortified, but still fearful, she walked slowly up the
garden path to the front door, where Aunt Margaret was standing.

But to Elizabeth's amazement and infinite relief, Aunt Margaret was all
smiles and graciousness, even to Tom Teeter.  She took no notice of her
niece's disheveled appearance, but said cordially:

"Run away in, Elizabeth.  Sarah Emily has come back, and she has some
news for you.  I hope it will help to make you a very good, thankful
little girl."

Entranced at this marvelous escape, Elizabeth flew through the old
echoing hall and bounded wildly into the kitchen.  She welcomed Sarah
Emily rapturously, listened with wonder and awe to the news that the
fairy god-mother was no dream after all, but was really and truly
coming to see her, and finally went shrieking out to join in the game
of ball, on Charles Stuart's side, too, all forgetful that not ten
minutes before she had vowed against him an undying enmity.



CHAPTER III

A GENTEEL SABBATH

Elizabeth arose early the next morning, feeling at peace with all the
world.  For the first time in her life she felt herself an important
member of the family.  Her aunt had distinguished her by special
friendly notice, and had omitted to scold her when she went to bed the
night before.  Besides, it was Sunday, and on the first day of the week
she almost always escaped disaster.  First, her aunt was more genial on
Sunday, because the family was on its best behavior that day, and came
a little nearer to being genteel.  Then Elizabeth was clothed in a
long, spotlessly clean, dun-colored pinafore, starched to the extremity
of discomfort, and her spirits, always colored by her surroundings,
were also subdued and confined.

The Gordons assembled for breakfast early on Sunday morning.  Miss
Gordon saw that the Sabbath was strictly kept, but she believed the
idea of rest might be carried to indulgence, especially with young
people.  So, on this particular morning, breakfast was at the usual
hour.  Indeed, it was a little early, owing to the fact that Sarah
Emily, rejoiced at her reunion with the family, had arisen betimes and
broken the Sabbath by making a fine batch of breakfast biscuits.  Sarah
Emily always sang at her work and had aroused the household, and
brought down the stern displeasure of Miss Gordon, who forbade the
unholy viands to be brought to the table.

The young Gordons assembled, sniffing hungrily and regretfully at the
pleasant odor.  Sarah Emily caught their glances and made a sympathetic
grimace.

Mary giggled, but Elizabeth looked severe.  She was in her best Sabbath
mood and felt that Sarah Emily was not at all genteel, nor Mary either.
It really gave one such a nice feeling to know one was genteel.
Involuntarily she glanced at her aunt for approbation.  But Aunt
Margaret was looking at Annie, with a strange expression in her eyes,
an almost apologetic look Elizabeth would have thought if Aunt Margaret
could ever have been in such a mood.  But that was quite impossible
with one who was always right.  She was looking particularly handsome
this morning in her black silk dress, with her jet earrings, and the
knot of white lace at her throat.  Elizabeth gazed at her in profound
admiration, and then at Annie with some anxiety.  Annie was looking
pale this morning.  Elizabeth wished she had not given away all her
maple sugar to the little boys last night; a bite might have been such
a comfort to poor Annie, and she was looking sadly in need of comfort.

When the plates of oatmeal porridge and the big pile of
bread-and-butter had disappeared, Annie handed her father his Bible and
psalm-book and they all joined in family worship.  The little ceremony
opened with the singing of a paraphrase:

  "_O God of Bethel, by whose Hand
  Thy people still are fed._"


The windows were open and the breath of the apple-blossoms came
floating in.  The bees, droning over the honey-suckle in the garden
below, and the song sparrow on the cherry-bough above, both joined in
the hymn to the great Father who had made the beautiful world.

Then Mr. Gordon read a chapter; a wonderful chapter, Elizabeth felt.
She was in perfect accord with the beauty and peace of the Sabbath Day
and every word went to her heart:


"The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the
desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.  It shall blossom
abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing.  The glory of
Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon----"


Elizabeth had no idea of its meaning, but its beauty, with some vague
hint of its eternal promise of love and joy, made her child's heart
swell.  She was dismayed to feel her eyes beginning to smart with the
rising tears.  She did not guess why, but she could have cried out with
both joy and pain at the majestic triumph of the close:


"And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs
and everlasting joy upon their heads.  They shall obtain joy and
gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."


She struggled with her tears.  If John should see them!  He would
wonder why she was crying, and she could never tell him.  John would
not understand.  That was the tragedy of Elizabeth's life.  One could
never tell things, for nobody understood.

She was relieved when they knelt in prayer and she could hide her tears
in a corner of the old sofa.  Prayers were very much longer on Sundays
than on other mornings, but, though the boys might fidget a little, the
most active member of the family never moved.  Elizabeth's soul was
carried away far above any bodily discomfort.  But not even the
smallest Gordon made a sound.  There had been a dreadful day once when
Jamie and Archie, kneeling at one chair with their heads together, had
been caught red-handed playing "Put your finger in the crow's nest";
but since then their aunt had knelt between them and the crime had not
been repeated.

Prayers ended, and the few household duties attended to, Mr. Gordon
shut himself in his study, and the children sat out on the side-porch
and studied their Sunday-school lesson, their catechism, and their
portion of the 119th Psalm, which Miss Gordon had given them to
memorize.

Elizabeth had no trouble with her Golden Text or the Psalm, but the
catechism was an insupportable burden.  She was always appearing with
it before her aunt, certain she could "say it now," only to turn away
in disgrace.  She sat on the green bench beside John and droned over
her allotted portion.  John was far ahead wrestling with What is
required in the commandments, while poor Elizabeth plodded behind,
struggling with the question as to Wherein consisted the sinfulness of
that estate whereinto man fell.  She rhymed over the profound words in
a meaningless jargon:


"The sinfulness of that estate whereunto man fell, consists in the
guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the
corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin,
together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it."


She strove to keep her mind upon it, but the exaltation of the
prayer-time had passed, and the vision of Mrs. Jarvis obtruded itself
on her Sabbath thoughts.  She drove it away--as with tightly-shut eyes
and wrinkled brow and swaying body she attempted to get through the
answer unaided.  But she stuck fast at "the want of original
righteousness" and again at "original sin," and was stumbling blindly
over "all actual transgressions" when there came a wicked whisper in
her ear.

"Lizzie," hissed John, "there's 'The Rowdy'!"

Elizabeth's eyes flew open, and the sinfulness of man's estate flew
away.  John had turned his grave face towards her, lit up with a quick
smile.  Elizabeth flashed back at him the same smile, a sudden gleam of
white even teeth in a rather generous red mouth.  Brother and sister
were very much alike in their smiles, but only here, for John's face
was solemn almost to dourness, while Elizabeth's countenance was full
of light and animation.

"The Rowdy" was enough to provoke laughter even on the Sabbath and
under Aunt Margaret's nose.  He was the robin whose chief
shouting-place was the hawthorn bush in the lane.  John and Elizabeth
had so named him because he always made such a noise, leaping about and
calling "Hi, Hi!  Whee!  Whoo--Hoo!" in a most rowdy manner indeed.

They had named many other familiar birds in The Dale fields that
spring, and now Elizabeth gave a significant nod towards the orchard to
announce the song of another favorite.  This robin sang from the top of
the big duchess tree that peeped over the wall into the front garden.
His was a plaintive, quiet song, quite unlike The Rowdy's.  They had
noticed the pathetic little chant one evening when the schoolmaster sat
beside Annie on the front porch.  Mr. Coulson had remarked that there
was a robin in the orchard who was singing the anthem of the Exile of
Erin.  But John declared in private to Elizabeth that it wasn't
anything of the kind.  Anyone could hear he was saying "Oh,
wirra-wurra!  Wirra-wurra!" just the way old Mrs. Teeter did when she
recounted her troubles of the early pioneer days, or when Oro's Orator
had been fighting again.  So to John and Elizabeth the robin of the
duchess tree was known as "Granny Teeter."  They listened to him now,
complaining away to the pink apple-blossoms; and, knowing it was very
wicked and dangerous to laugh just then, they held themselves in
convulsions of silent mirth.

Elizabeth forgot all about the sinfulness of man's estate as well as
the gorgeousness of Mrs. Jarvis's in listening for sounds of other old
friends.  There was a pair of meadow larks that had their nest in the
pasture field just on the other side of the lane, and now one of them
was mounted in his favorite elm, pouring forth his delicious notes in a
descending scale of sweetness: "Dear, hear, I am near."  Farther down,
near the line of birches, in a feathery larch tree, sang a peculiar
song sparrow, who pounded four times on a loud silver bell to attract
attention before he started his little melody.  Then there was a crowd
of jolly bob-o'-links over yonder in the clover-meadow who danced and
trilled, and a pair of blue-birds in the orchard who talked to each
other in sweet, soft notes.  There was a loud and joyous oriole, proud
of his golden coat, blowing up his ringing little trumpet from the pine
tree near the gate, and ever so many flickers, all gorgeously dressed
in red and yellow and every color their gaudy taste could suggest, each
with his little box of money, Elizabeth explained, which he rattled
noisily, just to attract attention when he couldn't sing.  But the
favorite was a gray cat-bird that sang from the bass-wood tree at the
back of the vegetable garden.  They liked him best, because he was so
naughty and badly behaved, always sneaking round the backyard, and
never coming out where there was an audience, as The Rowdy did.  And
then he could beat everybody, and at his own song, too!  He was at them
all now, one after the other--robin, song sparrow, oriole, flicker,
everything--with a medley of trills and variations worked in just to
show that he had a whole lot of music of his own if he only cared to
use it.

John's silent laughter was quite safe, but Elizabeth's was of the
explosive variety.  A chuckle escaped which caused Aunt Margaret to
look up from her Sunday-school paper, and the two culprits immediately
dived back to their tasks.  Elizabeth felt how wicked she was to have
allowed her thoughts to wander thus, and for a time gave such good
attention to her question that she arrived at original sin with only
two slips.

But Mrs. Jarvis came back again, arrayed in all the grandeur in which
Elizabeth's imagination always clothed her.  She planned how she would
act when that great lady came.  She would walk very slowly and solemnly
into the parlor, just the way Aunt Margaret did, and bow very gravely.
Then she would say those French words Jean always used since she had
been attending the High School in Cheemaun, "Commay voo, porty voo."
That was French for "Good afternoon, Mrs. Jarvis"; and of course Mrs.
Jarvis would know French, and be very much impressed.  She strove to
weave a pious thread of catechism into the wicked fabric of her
thoughts--"the sinfulness of that estate whereunto man fell"--perhaps
Mrs. Jarvis would ask her to go for a walk with her down the lane, or
even a drive in her carriage--"consists in the guilt of Adam's first
sin"--of course she would talk only of books, and not let her see the
playhouse she and Mary had made in the lane.  That was very childish.
She would tell how she had read "The Vicar of Wakefield" and "Old
Mortality"--of course father had read them to her, but it was all the
same thing--and "Hiawatha" and "The Lamplighter"--"the want of original
corruption and the righteousness of his whole nature."  And surely Mrs.
Jarvis would think she was genteel and know that the wild streak had
completely disappeared--"together with all actual transgressions which
proceed from it."  Elizabeth then and there solemnly vowed that she
would neither run nor jump, nor climb a fence, not even the little low
one between their pasture-field and Tom Teeter's, until Mrs. Jarvis's
coming.

And so the morning passed slowly in a struggle between a restless body,
a restless mind, and a restless soul, all tending in different
directions, and at last they stood in a row before their aunt to recite
their morning's task.  Even little Jamie had his verse of Scripture to
lisp, and was patted on the head when he stammered out:

"De people dat sat in dawkness saw a dwate night."

Everyone acquitted himself well except Elizabeth.  The catechism
refused to disentangle itself from the jumble of bird-voices and
dream-voices with which it was mixed; and she went out to dinner with
hanging head and tear-dimmed eyes.

The light lunch of cold boiled beef and potatoes was soon disposed of,
and then the hour for starting to Sunday school had arrived, bringing
with it a great relief, and making Elizabeth completely forget her
troubles.

The Gordons had an old speckled gray horse and a queer basket phaeton,
left by the eccentric Englishman in The Dale stables years before.  Mr.
Gordon used them to convey him to the town hall, some miles distant,
where the township council meetings were held, but Miss Gordon always
drove to church in this family carriage, accompanied by Malcolm, and
with little Jamie on her knee, while the remainder of the family walked.

The church, like the school, lay a couple of miles south of The Dale,
away at the other side of a great hill.  There were two roads leading
thither.  The one used by the school children on week-days was called
the Short Cut.  It ran down The Dale lane, crossed the pond beside
MacAllister's mill, went up the opposite bank, over a wild half-cleared
stretch of land called The Slash, through old Sandy McLachlan's wood,
and by way of his rickety gate out on to the public highway a few yards
from the school.  It was much shorter this way than going "down the
line," though strange to say it took far longer to traverse it on a
schoolday, for it was a very enjoyable road indeed, from which one was
ever making side excursions after berries or nuts or wild grapes, and
which admitted of endless ways of beguiling dull time, and rendering
oneself late for school.

For various reasons the church-going population took to the public
highway on Sabbaths.  Those who drove went this way from necessity, and
those who didn't went because they were always picked up before they
had gone half a mile.  Besides, parents had long since learned that
Sabbath clothes as well as Sabbath decorum were apt to suffer from the
conveniences of the Short Cut.

William Gordon alone took this solitary road on Sabbath afternoons, for
he loved the loneliness and quiet of the woods.  This arrangement
suited everyone except Elizabeth.  Her heart always suffered a pang as
they all turned up the lane together, and her father went away alone in
the opposite direction.  Once she had begged so hard to accompany him
that he had yielded, and she had walked by his side, holding his hand,
in silent sympathy, all the way over the sunny fields and through the
cool green shadows of the woods.  She had been quiet and good and he
had said she was his little comforter, but Elizabeth had never gone
again.  It was not that she had found the walk dull in comparison to
the companionship of the regular highway, for Elizabeth would have
walked through a fiery furnace with her father in preference to any
other road.  But that wise older self had told her that her father
preferred to be alone.  She could not have told how she knew, but she
was seldom mistaken in her intuition and followed it.  And so, though
it wrung her heart to see him go alone, she merely watched him with
loving eyes, until his bowed head and thin, stooped shoulders
disappeared from view in the willowy ravine.

Those who walked started only a few minutes before the phaeton, for if
they were not picked up by Martin's big double buggy on the Champlain
Road, then the MacAllisters would take them in at the corner, or they
would be gathered to the bosoms of the Wully Johnstones before they had
gone many rods down the line.

The Martins were a trifle late to-day and, to Elizabeth's joy, they
reached the corner where four great elms stretched out their sweeping
arms to each other just as MacAllister's ample three-seated buggy came
lumbering along.  Charles Stuart was there on the front seat beside his
father, to be sure; but Mother MacAllister was in the back seat alone.
The girls climbed in, Sarah Emily and all, and Archie and John took
their places in Wully Johnstone's vehicle that had just emerged from
their lane on to the public highway.

Elizabeth sat in her favorite place, close up to Mother MacAllister.
At first she decided she would not speak to Charles Stuart, nor look
near him.  Then, recalling her undignified conduct in the ball game
with him, she felt ashamed.  It would be no use to act haughtily now,
she reflected with a sigh.  "I wish I hadn't forgotten," she said to
herself.  "It's so much easier to forget than forgive."  She finally
decided to treat Charles Stuart politely but distantly.  She must let
him see that he had behaved very badly indeed and that, though she
might be kind and forgiving, all was over between them.

Just then Charles Stuart turned in his seat and whispered, "Look,
Lizzie, look at Trip!"

Elizabeth turned in the direction he indicated.  Trip had as usual been
forbidden to follow the family to church, but there he was trotting
along the roadside, stopping every now and then to lift up one paw and
look inquiringly after his master.  Elizabeth returned Charles Stuart's
glance and they giggled.

Trip was really a very dear and funny little dog and she was very fond
of him.  To be sure, he was often wild and bad just like Charles
Stuart, but then he was so neat and cute and frisky and altogether
lovable.  He had a cunning face, queerly marked.  Round one eye was a
large black patch, which gave him a disreputable air, and his habit of
putting his little head on one side and looking supernaturally wise,
just as though he could not see out of the bad black eye, further
emphasized his naughty appearance.  He was the noisiest thing of his
size that could be found too.  He could raise more row over a
groundhog's hole, Tom Teeter said, than an army would over the
discovery of an ambushed enemy.  But to-day he was trotting meekly by
the roadside, unmindful of chipmunks or swallows, for he knew right
well he was doing wrong, and felt it was safer to be quiet.

"What'll you do with him?" asked Elizabeth anxiously.

"Wait till I catch him at the church.  I'll make him scoot for home,
you bet."

Elizabeth looked worried.  "Oh, Charles Stuart, you won't hurt him?"

"I'll make him mind me, anyhow," said Charles Stuart firmly, and
Elizabeth knew from past experience that it would be useless to
interfere.  Nevertheless, she felt very sorry for the little dog
trotting along towards sure disappointment, and once again she quite
forgot that she had intended to be cold and distant to Trip's master.

The old buggy rattled along through alternate sunshine and shade.
Elizabeth soon forgot Trip and sat gazing off over hill and valley, not
even hearing what Annie and Jean were telling Mother MacAllister about
their new dresses.  She was far above such thoughts.  They had dipped
down into the hollow where the stream flowed brown and cool beneath the
bridge and had begun to climb the big hill where the view of the lovely
green earth grew wider at each step.  As they went up and up, the
rolling hills seemed gradually to fall away, leaving a great space of
deep blue sky touched with white bunches of dazzling clouds, for there
always seemed more sky in Oro than in any other place.  Now the long
thread of the little river lying across the valley they had left,
gleamed out blue and bright, now it disappeared, and before them
another gleam of blue above far-off treetops shone forth, where Lake
Simcoe lay sparkling in the sunlight.  There was a little green island
away out on its shining floor, and Elizabeth, with her dreamy eyes
fixed upon it, thought it must look like Heaven.  Then it all vanished,
sinking like a beautiful dream-lake behind the treetops as they
descended into the wooded valley.  Elizabeth sighed happily.  Here the
air smelt cool and sweet, a mingling of damp earth, fragrant blossoms,
running water, and wood-violets.  The loveliness of the world of forest
and sky would on ordinary occasions have driven her to wild abandon,
sent her flying over fields and fences as far removed as possible from
the genteel.  But to-day was Sunday, and Mother MacAllister's arm was
about her, and her spirit was filled with a great content.

She softly hummed the psalm with which they so often opened the church
service down there in the hollow:

  "_O, come let us sing to the Lord,
    To Him our voices raise.
  With joyful noise let us the rock
    Of our salvation praise._"


And from the little basket phaeton behind, Miss Gordon, watching her
charges, wondered what foolish thoughts were passing through Lizzie's
flighty little head.  It could not even approach her consciousness that
the child's very soul was raised in rapturous worship.

Down the hill slowly wound the little procession.  Elizabeth looked
back.  Behind her aunt was Martin's buggy.  She could see Susie, one of
her bosom-friends, on the front seat beside her father.  But she did
not wave her hand, because it was Sunday and Aunt Margaret was looking.

The little church in the hollow opposite the schoolhouse came in sight
as they emerged from the woods at Sandy McLachlan's gate.  It was a
straight, clapboard structure, painted white, and standing in a
forlorn-looking little field bare of trees.  At one side stretched a
long shed; at the other a grass-grown graveyard with leaning
headstones.  Inside there were also evidences that beauty had been
sacrificed to economy in the building of Forest Glen Church.  It was
severely plain, with bare white walls, and a flat and smoky ceiling.
There was a big oblong stove, the same shape as the church, at the end
near the door, and a little organ and a pulpit-table on a small
platform at the other end.

The only attempt at decoration was a big bunch of cherry blossoms
someone had placed upon the organ, and four mottoes, worked in colored
wools and framed in Lake Simcoe shells, which hung upon the walls.

Sunday school was held during the hour before the church service, the
two congregations being very much alike.  For an ideal state of affairs
prevailed in Forest Glen.  People did not send their children to Sunday
school; they took them.  Noah Clegg was the superintendent, and old
Sandy McLachlan assistant.  Noah operated at the end where the platform
stood, while Sandy officiated at the door, ushering in the pupils, and
often during the session, calling out instructions to Noah from his end
of the building.  Sandy's chief duty was to let people into the church
and keep out the dogs, which like the people showed a laudable desire
to attend divine service, especially in the winter.  Sandy was armed
with a big stick, and if any canine approached it, woe betide him.  He
and Noah Clegg were fast friends, so the double-headed organization
worked well.  Besides it was a necessity, for, while the Forest Glen
church and its minister were Presbyterians, the Sunday school had gone
far ahead of the times and was a shining example of what might be
achieved by Church union.  Noah Clegg was a Methodist, and Sandy
McLachlan a pillar in the Presbyterian church.  Old Silas Pratt, who
was secretary-treasurer, and his daughter who was the organist, were
close-communion Baptists, and there were several Anglicans who taught
classes.  All denominations had a voice in the managing of the Sunday
school, but an hour later, when the Rev. Mr. Murray drove out from
Cheemaun, the service took on a decidedly Presbyterian color.

When the buggies from The Dale valley rumbled up to the door, Sandy
McLachlan was there, stick in hand.  He was a queer but intelligent old
man, who lived in a little house on the edge of the woods where the
Short Cut met the highway.  He was quite alone in the world, except for
his little grand-daughter Eppie.  Elizabeth knew Eppie well, as they
were about the same age, and in the same class in Sunday school.  As
she alighted, she caught sight of the little girl in her coarse
homespun dress and heavy boots hiding shyly behind her grandfather.  At
the sight of Elizabeth her face broke into a radiant smile.  This was
her one schoolmate who was always kind to poor Eppie.

But, as Elizabeth hurried up the steps towards her, she almost stumbled
over Trip who came cowering behind.  There were only two or three
things in the world that Trip was afraid of, and Martin's big yellow
dog was one of them.  This terrible brute was slowly approaching with
gleaming teeth, bristling yellow hair, and terrible inward rumblings.
Scarcely knowing what she did, Elizabeth caught up the shivering little
terrier and rolled him under her pinafore.  She looked about
distractedly for Charles Stuart, but both he and John had driven the
horses to the sheds.  Elizabeth slowly approached the door in an agony
of uncertainty.  It would be dreadfully wicked to take a dog into
church, even if one could pass old Sandy, but it was impossible to
leave Trip out there to be rent in pieces by those terrible yellow
jaws.  She pressed behind Sarah Emily, striving to hide the squirming
little bundle beneath her pinafore.

"Are ye goin' to take him in?" whispered Eppie in dismay.

"I--I don't know what to do," faltered Elizabeth.  "Brag 'll kill him
if I leave him here--and your grandpa won't let him in."

"Grandaddy 'll not be saying anything," whispered Eppie.  "Jist be
slippin' in by."

As they approached the big knotted stick, Miss Gordon, leading Jamie by
the hand, passed in ahead of them.  Sandy lowered his stick and made a
profound bow.  He had been heard many times to declare that Miss Gordon
was the finest lady he had seen since he left the Old Country, and he
knew a lady when he saw one.  Miss Gordon was aware of Sandy's opinion,
and as usual bowed to him most graciously, and under cover of her entry
Elizabeth, breathless with dread of the fell deed she was committing,
slipped inside and up to her class seat, still holding the trembling
little dog beneath her pinafore.

There were already three other little girls in the class, who all gazed
in amazement at the new pupil.  Rosie Carrick was there, Rosie of the
pink cheeks and the long curls who was Elizabeth's dearest chum.  Rosie
giggled at the sight of Trip, and Elizabeth felt ashamed.  Rosie was
the dearest girl in the world, but she would giggle at anything, even a
tragedy.

"Please, teacher," said Katie Price, "Lizzie Gordon's fetched a dog
into Sunday school."  Katie Price always told things, and Rosie stopped
giggling and whispered, "Aw, tattle-tale!"

The teacher looked down at the little dog crouching between Elizabeth's
feet and Eppie's.  But she did not look the least bit cross.  Martha
Ellen never did.  She giggled harder than Rosie, and exclaimed:

"Laws!  Lizzie Gordon, where did you get him?" and then straightened
her big hat and glanced across the aisle towards Mr. Coulson's class.
Elizabeth looked up at her in overwhelming gratitude.  She had always
adored Martha Ellen Robertson, but never so much as at this minute.

"Please, teacher," she faltered, "Martin's Brag was going to eat him
up.  He's Charles Stuart MacAllister's dog, and I can give him to
Charles Stuart when he comes."

"Oh, he ain't going' to hurt anybody; are you, little doggie?"
whispered Martha Ellen good-naturedly.  "He'll be all right so long as
your grandpa don't see him; eh, Eppie?"

Eppie smiled shyly, and then Noah Clegg's squeaky boots sounded up the
aisle and Sunday school had commenced.

Elizabeth drew a great sigh of relief, and glanced about her to see if
anyone appeared conscious of the guilty secret squeezed between her and
Eppie.  But apparently no one was.  All her own family, seated about
the room, seemed absorbed in their own affairs.

Each of the Gordons had a place in Sunday school, either as pupil or
teacher.  Mr. Gordon taught the old folk who sat on the front row of
seats.  Every Sabbath they were there, their hard hands folded, their
gray heads and toil-worn shoulders bent, listening while the man with
the sad, sweet face told them stories of One whose hands had been rent,
and whose shoulders had been bowed by the burden of their sin, and Who,
could they but know Him, would, under all the labor and money-getting
of their narrow lives, reveal to them life's true and noble meaning.

Miss Gordon taught the Young Ladies' Bible Class, her most critical
pupil being Sarah Emily, whose presence there the good lady could not
but regard as an intrusion.  Annie taught a class of tiny girls near
the front.  She had taken her place beside them and sat with bent head
and scarlet cheeks.  Long ago she had learned that from her position it
was very easy to catch the eye of the teacher of a class of big boys
across the aisle.  But one swift glance at him sitting up straight,
haughty, and severe, convinced her she must never expect a kindly
glance from that source again.  She had bidden him go, because her aunt
had commanded her, but, oh, how could she have suspected that he would
obey?  She sat in misery, striving desperately to keep back her tears.

Ordinarily Elizabeth would have noticed her sister's distressed face,
but Trip once more claimed her attention.  Just across the aisle was
Old Silas Pratt's class, to which John and Charles Stuart belonged.
They had just entered, and, with a squirm and a grunt, the little dog
jerked himself free from the nervous grip of his preserver's feet, and
darted across the aisle to his master.  Charles Stuart shoved him under
the scat, pinning him there with his legs, and looked inquiringly
towards Elizabeth.  Such an improper proceeding as this entirely suited
Charles Stuart's ideas, but how Elizabeth came to be a partner in it
was something he did not understand.

But Sunday school was opening, and, as no one seemed to have noticed
the dog, Elizabeth, greatly relieved, gave her attention to duty.  Noah
Clegg had sent Wully Johnstone's Johnny to look up and down the line to
see if there was anyone coming, and Johnny having reported no one but
Silas Pratt's brindled cow, the service commenced.

"Now, boys and girls," said the superintendent, with a fine old London
accent, "we'll sing 'ymn number fifty-four:

  "_There is a 'appy land
  Far, far away._"


Noah Clegg was a good little man, with a round, cheery face, iron-gray
hair, and a short, stubby beard.  He wore a shiny black suit, and his
new Sabbath boots, which turned up at the toes like Venetian gondolas
and sang like gondoliers.  He held a stick in his hand, with which he
beat time, and now gave the signal to the organist to commence.

Miss Lily Pratt struck up the tune, and the school arose.

"Now, boys an' girls, an' grown-ups, too," cried the superintendent,
"sing up fine an' 'earty.  This is a 'appy land we live in an' we're
goin' to a 'appier one; an' this is a 'appy day, an' I 'ope the good
Lord 'll give us all 'appy 'earts."

The school burst into song.  Everyone, from old Granny Teeter in the
front row to little Jamie Gordon down in the primary class, sang with
all his might.  Then there was an equally hearty reading of the Lesson.
This was a short extract from the Scriptures printed on their little
leaflets.  Noah Clegg read one verse, while the school responded with
the next in rumbling unison, after which each teacher turned to his
class.  This was simply done by reversing the seat ahead, the back of
which turned over in the most accommodating manner, enabling the
instructor to sit facing his pupils.

The Lesson was read again in class, verses were recited, and then the
teacher asked questions or expounded the passage.  A pleasant buzz and
hum arose.  Now and then a voice would rise above the general rumble,
for old Silas Pratt was deaf, and Charles Stuart MacAllister and Wully
Johnstone's Johnny, and John Gordon and all the other bad boys in his
class, shouted their memory verses into his ear louder than even
necessity demanded.  Then Wully Johnstone had a powerful and
penetrating voice and taught so loud that everyone in the church heard
him even better than he heard his own teacher.

The little girls in Martha Ellen Robertson's class were always quiet
and well-behaved, partly because it was the nature of all except
Elizabeth, but mostly because they were very much in love with their
teacher and intensely proud of her.  They felt they had good reason to
be, for was it not known all over the countryside that Martha Ellen was
the best-dressed young lady outside Cheemaun.  Every Sunday, Elizabeth
and Rosie, squeezed up against the wall to avoid the drip from the
coal-oil lamp above, sat waiting for her arrival and whispering eager
speculations as to what new things she would wear.  They were seldom
disappointed, and to-day their teacher had never looked finer.  She
wore a brand new white hat, with a huge bunch of luscious red cherries
nodding over the wide brim.  To be sure, the white embroidered dress
was last summer's freshly starched and ironed, but she had a new, broad
blue satin ribbon round her slim waist and tied in a big bow at her
side.  Then Martha Ellen always wore gold bracelets and rings; and,
what was her most attractive ornament to her class, a beautiful gold
watch in her belt, attached to a long gold chain about her neck.  The
girls often saw the watch, much to their joy, for several times during
Sunday school Martha Ellen would pull it out and say in surprise, "The
time's not up yet," and would continue with the lesson.

Martha Ellen was always kind, and one of the few people with whom
Elizabeth expanded.  Elizabeth was often wild and foolish in school,
but in Sunday school that older inner self was always predominant and
she was as wise and well behaved as Noah Clegg himself.  For inside the
church building the child's mind was held in a kind of holy fear.  She
spent most of her time there dwelling upon her sins and longing to be
good.  She did not know that the starched pinafore that scratched her
neck, the tightness of her heavy braid of hair, and the stiffness of
her Sunday boots contributed not a little to her inner discomfort.  But
she gave her undivided attention to Miss Robertson and the lesson.

She was never distracted, as Rosie so often was by Katie Price's
clothes.  Katie had on a new sash to-day, and Rosie sighed and poked
Elizabeth and asked her if she didn't wish to goodness she had one,
too.  Elizabeth glanced at the sash quite unmoved.  The Gordon girls
never had sashes, nor finery of any kind, but why should one who knew
she would some day wear a flashing suit of silvery armor and a crimson
velvet cloak be envious of mere ribbons?  Elizabeth did not confide
this comforting assurance to Rosie, but she whispered truthfully, No,
that she didn't want one like Katie Price's.  She was quite unconscious
of the fact that there dwelt in her mind not a little of Aunt
Margaret's pride--the feeling that it was infinitely better to be a
Gordon in a dun-colored pinafore than a Price in a silk sash and a
flower-trimmed hat.

She soon forgot all about Katie in her absorption in the lesson.
Anything savoring of religion took strong hold of Elizabeth, and even
Martha Ellen's presentation of a passage of Scripture appealed to her.
When the passage was re-read, Miss Robertson read a list of questions
off the printed page before her.  "Who was Zaccheus?" was the first
question.  Katie Price was looking at her sash and didn't know.  Susie
Martin hung her head and blushed, Eppie Turner was always too shy to
speak, and Rosie Carrick ventured the remark that "he was a man."  Miss
Robertson passed on perfectly good-natured.  "Lizzie Gordon, who was
Zaccheus?"  Lizzie Gordon knew all about him, and spun off information,
even to his being little and having to climb a tree.  "I can tell lots
more," she said invitingly, as Miss Robertson held up her hand to stem
the flood.  But the teacher smilingly shook her head.  Lizzie was
getting too far ahead.  "Where did he live?" was the next question read
off in the direction of Katie Price, and so on they went until all the
questions were read and answered, Elizabeth supplying whatever
information the rest of the class failed to give.  Next came the
"Application," which Elizabeth enjoyed most, because it left room for
discussion.  The "Application" applied to each verse and was also read
by the teacher.  "Zaccheus was a small man.  We may be small and
insignificant in the eyes of the world, but none the less does
responsibility devolve upon each one of us."  "Zaccheus climbed a tree.
We learn from this that we should all strive to climb to the loftiest
that life can attain."  Elizabeth put in an occasional remark, and
Martha Ellen responded.  This was one of the former's grown-up moments
and she reveled in it.  There was none of the family there to carry
home the tale that Lizzie was putting on pious airs, and so expose her
to Jean's ridicule; and Martha Ellen's marked appreciation drew her out
to make the wisest and profoundest remarks.

Occasionally Miss Robertson would take out her gold watch and look at
it in surprise, and then continue.  Occasionally, also, she glanced
across the aisle to the big boys' class, and once she was rewarded by a
smile and a gracious bow from its teacher.  Then Martha Ellen's cheeks
grew pink and the cherries on her hat, Elizabeth noticed, shook just as
the cherries in the orchard did when the wind swept through the boughs.
She looked very much pleased, too, and glanced back to where Annie
Gordon in her plain, blue cotton dress sat with drooping head, striving
to give her attention to the lesson.

Miss Robertson had finally read all the "Application," and again she
looked at her gold watch, while the class sat admiring it.  There were
still some minutes left, and, with a sigh, the teacher twisted her gold
bracelets and then turned the page.  "We have just time for the moral
piece," she said.  "The moral piece" was a little sermon at the end of
the Lesson, containing an admonition to all youthful minds, and Martha
Ellen sometimes used it to fill in the last few minutes.  Elizabeth
always listened to it solemnly, for it was full of long, high-sounding
words that gave her an exalted feeling.  But just now her attention was
diverted by signs of dire trouble brewing across the aisle.  John and
Charles Stuart, all unmindful of old Silas Pratt, who was solemnly
reading the moral piece, the paper held close to his eyes, were
doubling up in convulsions of silent laughter; while from underneath
them came ominous squeaks and rumbles and a pair of wicked eyes gleamed
from the dusky shadow of the seat.  Elizabeth's heart stood still.
Those dreadful boys were teasing Trip, and he would burst forth soon
into loud barking, and what would become of the culprit who had brought
him into the church?

The moral piece was drawing to a close; old Wully Johnstone had
finished his, and a hush had fallen over the school.  Noah Clegg had
left his class, and gone squeak, squeak on tiptoe to the platform, and
was coming squeak, squeak back again with the collection box.  The
little girls had begun to untie their cents from the corners of their
handkerchiefs.

Now, the window just above Elizabeth's head was open, and a little
sparrow, emboldened by the quiet, hopped upon the sill, and fell to
pecking at some crumbs left there from the last tea-meeting.  He even
ventured to the edge of the sill and with his knowing little head on
one side contemplated, with one bright eye, the cherries on Martha
Ellen's hat, as though he longed to get a peck at them.

But just across the church the wicked pair of gleaming eyes were
watching the little sparrow from the dark corner.  From beneath them
subterranean grumblings and mutterings warned Charles Stuart that Trip
was growing dangerously excited.  John Gordon indicated the cause, by a
nod at the sparrow, and the two boys ducked their heads in an agony of
mirth.  This was too much for Charles Stuart.  Not stopping to consider
the consequences, he leaned down and whispered, "Crows, Trip, crows!"
and clutched the little dog tighter between his legs.  Now Trip had
been trained all spring to chase the crows from the corn, and this was
his signal to charge.  Not all the boys in Forest Glen Sunday school
could have held him at that moment.  The word "crows" changed him into
a raging, squirming, yelping, snarling, exploding little
powder-magazine.  With a yell of wrath he burst free and leaped upon
the opposite seat, knocking the moral piece from Silas Pratt's hand and
the spectacles from his nose.  With one explosive yelp he hurtled
across the aisles, landed upon Martha Ellen Robertson's seat, slid half
its slippery length, righted himself, and standing upon his hind legs,
with his front paws upon the back of the seat, he burst into a storm of
wild barking.  Of course the sparrow was by this time away down near
Lake Simcoe, but Trip still continued his uproar.  He did not bark, he
fairly squalled out all his long pent-up rage, leaping and dancing on
his wicked little hind legs, and making noise enough to scare every
bird out of Forest Glen woods.

The consternation was not confined to the birds.  Everybody stood up
and exclaimed in horror.  Martha Ellen was so alarmed that she screamed
right out loud, and ran across the aisle to Mr. Coulson for protection.
Noah Clegg dropped the collection all over the floor, and Silas Pratt
put on his spectacles again and ejaculated, "Well, well, well, well!"
Even the daring Charles Stuart was rather dismayed at the havoc he had
wrought, and as for poor Elizabeth, words could not describe how rent
and torn she was between shame and terror.  Sandy McLachlan was the
only one who seemed equal to the emergency.  He arose, exclaiming
explosively, "For peety's sake!" and in two minutes the dog was flying
through the doorway with yelps of terror, followed by several profane
anathemas upon his wicked little head for "pollutin' the hoose o' God."

Noah Clegg gathered up the pennies and took his place upon the platform
as if nothing had happened.  Any rare case of insubordination in the
Sunday school was never dealt with there.  It was left to home
discipline, which, being of the good old Canadian sort, was always
salutary.  So, knowing by the MacAllister's lowering countenance that
dire consequences awaited his son upon his return home, Noah gave out
the closing hymn, with undisturbed cheerfulness:

"Come along now, boys and girls, an' we'll sing our closin' 'ymn.
Never mind the poor little puppy, there ain't no bad in him at all.
Come along an' we'll sing No. 148--'Oh, 'Appy Day,' and then you'll go
out an' fill your lungs full o' hair before church starts."



CHAPTER IV

AT THE EDGE OF THE DAWN

There were many Sabbaths indelibly impressed upon Elizabeth's memory,
but none that burned its way in as did that afternoon's experience with
Trip.  The misery of sitting through the long church service, with the
awful guilt upon her soul, and the thoughts of approaching retribution,
almost made her physically ill.  As yet there was very little fortitude
in Elizabeth's soul.  She was the only coward in the Gordon family,
John was wont to say, and, though she dreamed of valorous deeds as the
successor of Joan of Arc, in real life she had never yet been able to
vindicate herself.

She sat through the sermon, making vows, Jacob-like, that if she ever
came through this time of tribulation alive she would go softly all the
rest of her days.  She would live a life of complete
renunciation--selfish pleasures, worldly ambitions centering round Mrs.
Jarvis, even dreams of Joan of Arc she would put away forever.  She
would not finish that enthralling story she was surreptitiously reading
in the Cheemaun _Chronicle_, the story of Lady Evelina De Lacy and the
false Lord Algernon.  She would never even wish she had curls like
Rosie, but would be glad her hair was straight and plain; and when Mrs.
Jarvis came, offering her a fortune and a velvet dress and a gold
crown, she would turn away, declaring firmly that for her there could
be no pleasure in such worldly joys.

The sermon had never seemed so long.  Mr. Murray, a good old man, whose
discourses had steadily lengthened with his years, preached on and on.
Forest Glen nodded and woke up and nodded again, and finally roused
itself to stand up for the closing psalm.  As the people slowly and
silently filed out of church, still only half-awake, Elizabeth followed
her aunt with the feelings of a criminal going to the gallows.  She
knew that her secret was safe with John and Charles Stuart.  The boys
might fill her days with tribulation by teasing, but they would never
stoop to tell tales.  Nevertheless, Elizabeth did not for a moment
consider this as an avenue of escape.  The integrity of her soul
demanded that she go straight to Mr. MacAllister and confess.  And then
everyone would know she had disgraced the name of Gordon forever, and
what Aunt Margaret would say was a thought to make one shudder.

As she went blindly down the aisle, she found herself shoved against
Mr. Coulson.  He was looking straight ahead of him, very sternly, as
though to let her know he realized how wicked and ungenteel she was.
But Elizabeth had in memory many blessed occasions upon which her
teacher had exonerated her in the face of damaging evidence.  She had
learned to put unbounded confidence in him.  He was a person who
understood, and there were so very few people in the world who did
understand.  He possessed some wonderful divining power, which
Elizabeth felt would make it possible for him even to conceive of a
person who could carry a dog into Sunday school and yet not be quite a
social outcast.

So she slipped up close to him, so close that she forced him to look
down at her.  He saw the misery in the little girl's deep eyes, and
forgot that she was Miss Gordon's niece.  "Are you sick, Lizzie?" he
asked.  Elizabeth shook her head, speechless.  She caught his coat and
drew him aside as they came outside the door.  He was so big and so
strong, his very presence thrilled her with hope.

"Oh, Mr. Coulson," she whispered.  "I--I--what'll I do?  It was me took
Trip into Sunday school!"

"Trip?"  Mr. Coulson had already forgotten the little incident in his
own troubles.  "What about it, you poor little mite?"

"Will they put me out of Sunday school?  Will Mother MacAllister be
angry?  Susie Martin's Brag was going to bite him, and I was afraid."

Mr. Coulson laughed.  It struck Elizabeth as almost miraculous that
anyone who had witnessed that awful scene in Sunday school could ever
laugh again.  He glanced around and saw that Miss Gordon had already
driven off in the little basket phaeton.

"Come along," he said, and taking Elizabeth's hand he led her up to
where the MacAllisters were climbing into their buggy.  He leaned over
and talked in a low tone to Mr. MacAllister and they both laughed, and
the latter called, "Hey, hey, Lizzie, come awa', bairn, and jump in!"
And Mother MacAllister said, as her arms went around her, "Hoots,
toots, and did the lamb do it to save the little dog?"  And Charles
Stuart looked at her with undisguised admiration in his eyes, and said,
"Aw, you goose, what did you go and tell for?"  And Elizabeth's soul
went straight from the depths right to the highest pinnacle of joy and
thankfulness.

Then Mother MacAllister said, "Come away, Mr. Coulson, come home and
have supper with father now, come away."  Mr. Coulson sprang into the
seat opposite, and he was no sooner in his place than Mother
MacAllister cried out "Why, father, where are the girls?  Come away,
children.  Come, Annie girl,--come, Sarah Emily!  Come away, we're
waitin' on you!"

Sarah Emily came forward, and with one leap landed herself upon the
front seat with Mr. MacAllister and Charles Stuart; Jean climbed in
beside Mr. Coulson, but Annie held back.  The young man arose hastily.
"Perhaps it's too crowded," he said hurriedly; "I'd better not go this
time."  Now this was a very absurd statement.  For it had never been
known that a MacAllister vehicle had ever been filled, much less
crowded, and its owner turned upon the young man in wrathful amazement.

"Hoots, man!  Ye're haverin'.  Sit ye doon there!  Annie bairn, jump
in.  What are ye gawkin' there aboot?  Are ye scared o' the master?"

There was no other course but obedience.  Mr. Coulson helped the young
lady into the buggy and away they rattled up the hill.  And Elizabeth,
thrilled with joy over her escape, little realized that in saving
herself she had done a good deed that day for two people very dear to
herself--a deed the results of which lasted through a lifetime.

It all turned out so beautifully.  Mother MacAllister, who never in her
life was known to do such a wicked thing as go visiting on Sunday, left
her guest with Charles Stuart and his father, and went all the way over
to The Dale to explain Elizabeth's case to Miss Gordon.  And Annie was
so radiant, and John was so admiring, that Elizabeth fairly glowed in
the family felicity, and the sun went down behind the Long Hill in
perfect peace and happiness.

After the excitement of that Sabbath, the days sped somewhat evenly.
May budded into June, June blossomed into July, and still the
long-looked-for Mrs. Jarvis did not come.  Her non-appearance filled
Miss Gordon with a sense of keen disappointment, but Elizabeth soon
forgot all about her.  She had more important things to take her
attention.

The 1st of July had come, the first day of the holidays, and Elizabeth
went to bed the night before unable to sleep from excitement.  Mr.
Coulson had bidden them farewell that afternoon.  He had resigned and
was going to Cheemaun to finish his law studies.  Elizabeth and Rosie
had cried themselves sick over the good-bys.  But it was not grief that
was keeping Elizabeth awake.  It was the machinations of John and
Charles Stuart.  On the way home from school she had been made aware by
certain nods and winks and significant signs between her two tormentors
that some wonderful scheme was on their programme for the morrow.
Elizabeth knew as well as though they had shouted it from the treetops
that they were going fishing.  They always ran away from her when they
went fishing.  She firmly determined that, come what might, she would
go fishing, too.

Just why the sight of those two disappearing down the lane with rods
over their shoulders always filled Elizabeth with such unbearable
anguish was a question even she could not have answered.  Such
expeditions with the boys were sources of tears and tribulations.
Elizabeth was always meeting with disaster.  She was not satisfied
unless she was manipulating a rod and line, and she did not know which
filled her with the greatest heartrending compunction, the sight of the
poor worm writhing on the hook or the poor fish.  Then she was always
being thrown into a panic of terror by the sight of a snake or a frog
or a mud-turtle, and when real dangers did not menace, the boys
supplied imaginary ones more terrible.

But, for all this, when John and Charles Stuart went abroad Elizabeth
must accompany them, and, though her aunt felt that every such
expedition removed her niece farther from the genteel ideal, she
generally allowed her to go.  For there were quieter times at home when
the noisy one was away.

Elizabeth knew by experience that the two would be likely to arise at
dawn and steal away, and she went to bed that night in the bare
white-washed little room, which she and Mary shared, with the
determination that she would lie awake until morning and be ready.  By
persistent pinching of her arms and tossing about, much to poor Mary's
discomfort, she managed to keep herself awake for about an hour, but
sleep overcame her at last, the dead, dreamless sleep of childhood, and
all Elizabeth's joys and sorrows were as naught until morning.

But her restless spirit asserted itself early.  When she awoke it was
scarcely light.  The old clock in the study downstairs had just struck
three.  The room was quite dark, but a faint light from the window, and
a strange hum of life from the outdoor world, told her that morning was
approaching.

She slipped stealthily from her bed and, trembling with excitement, ran
silently down the long, bare hall to her brothers' room.  It was a big
chamber above the dining-room.  Its only furniture was two beds; a big
old four-poster, where John and Malcolm slept on a lumpy straw
mattress, and a low "bunk" or box-like structure on casters, where the
little boys, Archie and Jamie, lay tossed about in a tangle of bare
limbs and blankets.  Elizabeth brushed back her hair from her sleepy
eyes, and peered into the dim room.  The green paper blinds were partly
raised, and she could discern through the gloom John's black head on
the bolster beside Malcolm's fair one.  The black head was hanging half
out of bed and its mouth was wide open.  Elizabeth giggled softly.  She
longed to stuff something into that yawning cavity; but she knew that
dire consequences followed upon tampering with John.  She tiptoed back
to her room.  The excitement was lulled and she was beginning to feel
sleepy.  But she suddenly bethought herself that it would be wise to
look out and see if Charles Stuart were coming.  She remembered with
hot indignation how once John had tied a string to his toe, which he
let hang out of the window, and how Charles Stuart had come in the gray
dawn and pulled the string, and the two had fled away in the dusk,
while she slept all unawares.  If they had any such plan on foot this
time, she would be even with them.  She would sit at the window and
watch for Charles Stuart.  She tiptoed gleefully across the room, and,
slipping between the green paper blind and the sash, shoved her head
and shoulders out of the open window.

And then her mischievous mood fell from her like a garment, and there
stole over her a feeling of awe.  Elizabeth had often beheld the
sunrise, and, being a passionate lover of nature, her soul had arisen
with the day, radiant and full of joy.  But never before had she
witnessed the first mysterious birth of the dawn, and the wonder of it
held her still.  It was so strange and unreal.  It was surely night,
for the stars still hung above the black treetops, and yet it must be
day, for above, below, on every side one great unbroken voice of song
was pouring forth from the darkness.  Or was it dark?  It certainly
wasn't light.  The swamp, away behind old Wully Johnstone's fields, lay
in blackness, and there was even a hint of moonlight sifted faintly
through the gray veil of the sky.  But the white line of birches by the
stream stood out a soft, cloudy white, the fields were dimly
distinguishable, and here and there a tree had taken form from its dark
background.

But the wonder of it was the great chant the whole dark earth was
raising to heaven.  As June had waned Elizabeth and John had missed
many of their bird companions, who were too busy raising their families
to sing much.  But now it seemed as though every blade of grass and
every leaf on the tree was giving forth a voice.  At first no separate
note could be distinguished.  It was one great voice, all-penetrating,
all-pervading.  But gradually the ear discerned the several parts of
the wondrous anthem.  The foundation of it seemed to come from behind
the line of birches that hedged the stream, and here and there in the
darkness of tree or bush an individual song arose to melt again into
the grand chorus.

Elizabeth knelt by the open window, lost to everything except the
mystery of music and light being woven before her.  It was creation's
morn again, at which the child's wondering eyes were gazing.  Again the
divine Fiat had gone forth, "Let there be light."  And, moving in
stately march to the grand processional, slowly, majestically the light
was coming.  Softly, almost imperceptibly, the phantom world took
shape, and grew clearer as the stars grew paler.  Here a bush detached
itself from its gray background, yonder a tree grew up tall and
stately, there the curve of a hillock swelled up from a dark valley.
And as each growing maple or cedar or alder-bush took shape, from its
depths there awoke a sleepy little murmur, swelling into a rapturous
song and melting away again into the great anthem.  Away down the dim
lane, near the edge of the pond, stood a noble elm, its topmost branch
towering into the gray heavens, its lower limbs sweeping the earth.  As
it gradually detached itself from the grayness and came forth beautiful
and stately, there arose from its heart the musical accompaniment to
its birth--not a sleepy little murmur, such as befitted a sumach or a
bramble, but a loud, clarion note, one wild shout of joy--and out
poured the ecstasy of a robin's song.  There was a storm of music on
all sides now, a splendid fortissimo, keeping pace with the growing
light.  Elizabeth, suddenly mindful of former sunrises, leaned far out
to look towards the east, holding her breath.  Over there might be
glories that were not lawful for men to look upon, much less utter.
And, yes, there was a great wonder there, no sun's rays as yet, no
daylight even, but behind the black trees of Arrow Hill there shone a
luminous crystal glow, a light more heart-moving than if the sun had
risen in all his pomp of purple and gold.  There was an awe, a mystery
about this transparent clearness, a great promise of unspeakable
glories to come.  Elizabeth drew a long breath.  She was but a child,
perfectly unconscious and unthinking in all that she said and did, but
she had a heart capable of being strongly moved by any hint of the
Infinite.  She did not guess why, did not even imagine the reason, but
the tears came to her eyes with a smarting sting, and with them that
feeling of overwhelming joy that was half-pain, the feeling that rushed
over her so often when her father read some sublime passage from the
Scriptures.

One came to her now from the psalm of the night before:


"Who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment; who stretches out
the heavens like a curtain."


God Himself must be just behind that mysterious glow, little Elizabeth
said to herself reverently.  That shining crystal was the garment in
which He had wrapped Himself, so that people might not see Him.  But
she saw Him.  Yes, He was there, she knew, and in the uplift of the
moment there came to her child's heart a vision that never faded, a
vision that many years later bore her up on the wings of poesy to fame.

But Elizabeth was woefully earthbound, tied down by the cares and
worries that fall to humanity.  As she still hung over the window-sill,
gazing enraptured at the heavens, she was brought sharply down to
earth.  Up near the willows at the gate she dimly descried a dark
figure hastening along Champlain's Road.  It paused at the gate.
Instantly Elizabeth was transformed.  From the rapt priestess of the
dawn she descended sharply to the keen-eyed spy.  That was Charles
Stuart just as sure as sure!  And John would be up and off in another
five minutes.  She jerked herself back into the room so suddenly that
her head came in crashing contact with the window-frame.  Elizabeth was
naturally keenly sensitive to pain, but she scarcely noticed the blow.
There was no time to even complain.  Though her head was spinning, she
began to fling on her clothes in mad haste, feverishly watching Mary
lest the noise of the crash had awakened her.  But Mary slept on
soundly; and, reassured, Elizabeth made a frantic toilet.  She wrenched
herself into her clothes, pulling on garments upside down, inside out,
any way that was most expeditious.  Buttons would not go into
button-holes, strings refused to tie, pins would not hold.  But somehow
she managed to get herself dressed, after a fashion.  There was no time
to think of washing, or combing her hair.  She crushed her sunbonnet
down over her untidy head, snatched up her shoes and stockings, slipped
silently into the hall, and took her place behind a huge wardrobe at
the head of the stairs, from which hiding-place she could command a
view of John's bedroom door.  By this time she was bursting with
mischievous glee.  Wouldn't John and Charles Stuart be good and mad
when they found her following them?  She knew exactly how to do it.
The only way was to dog their footsteps, keeping safely out of sight
until they were too far from home to send her back alone.  Of course
she would have to endure innuendoes all day regarding "Copy cats," but
that was nothing to the anguish of being left at home.

As she stood breathless and full of mirth, she was rewarded by the
sound of a door creaking, and a stealthy footstep approaching the
stair.  She crushed back into her hiding-place.  She could not help
wondering even in the midst of her excitement how John could ever move
so quietly.  She held her breath as the owner of the soft footfall came
into view.  And then it returned in a little gasp of astonishment.  For
it was not John at all, but Annie!  Annie at this hour of the morning!
Could she be going fishing, too?  Elizabeth could not think of any
other justifiable reason for getting up so early; Annie certainly
looked as if she were on a very important mission.  She went down the
stairs hurriedly and silently, as though she were being pursued.
Elizabeth had for an instant an impulse to call softly after her; but
that wiser, older self within her arose and forbade.  This ancient
Elizabeth respected a secret, and said that here was one into which
there must be no intrusion.  She felt ashamed of herself, as though she
had done something dishonorable like listening at a keyhole, as Sarah
Emily had once done.

She heard the old door leading on to the side-porch creak stealthily,
then pause, and creak again.  Perhaps Annie was ill, and she ought to
follow her.  She softly tiptoed back to her room and peeped from her
window.  Her sister was stealing down through the orchard, her light
summer dress plainly visible against its dim greenness.  She stopped at
the bars that led into the pasture field, and as she did, Charles
Stuart came vaulting over the fence from the lane and strode towards
her.  And surely everybody must have been touched with a magic wand,
and turned into somebody else; because it wasn't Charles Stuart at all,
but Mr. Coulson, to whom Elizabeth had bidden such an agonized farewell
only yesterday!  He came straight towards Annie, holding out both his
hands, and when he reached the bars he leaned over them and kissed her!
And then, though Elizabeth was not quite eleven, she knew that she was
looking upon something sacred and beautiful, something that should not
be exposed to the eyes of another, and she turned swiftly and, running
to the bed, hid her face in the clothes beside Mary.

She knelt there, motionless, wondering, and in a few minutes she heard
the stealthy foot upon the stair again and the soft rustle of Annie's
skirts.  She crept into bed and pulled the clothes over her sunbonneted
head.  She felt she would be doing her sister an irreparable injury if
she let her know anyone had witnessed that parting scene.

She lay there, trembling with excitement, until all was still again.
She forgot all about the fishing expedition in this new discovery, and
lay wideawake wondering why in the world Annie should kiss Mr. Coulson
good-by when she had not even gone to school to him, until worn out
with wonder and excitement she fell sound asleep.  And outside the dawn
still marched majestically onward towards the day, in time to its
glorious accompaniment of song.

When Elizabeth awoke again it was broad daylight.  Sarah Emily was
already downstairs, setting the breakfast table, stirring the oatmeal
porridge, and singing loudly about the many glittering but false young
men who had sought her hand, but had been defeated in their
machinations by the finest old lady that ever was seen, who lived on
yonder little green.

Fortunately Elizabeth escaped inquiry by slipping from the bed and
arranging her clothes in a more respectable manner before Mary was
stirring.  Mary was delicate, and the only one allowed to lie abed in
the morning, or to refuse porridge if she did not want it, so
Elizabeth's early morning adventure was not discovered.  To her relief
also she found John downstairs apparently not going fishing.  At
breakfast Annie was quieter than usual, but it was characteristic of
Elizabeth that she did not by word or sign let her elder sister see
that she had the smallest knowledge of the morning's farewell.  John
was right when he conceded to Lizzie the power of not only keeping
secrets,--deathly secrets like a pet toad under the bed or rabbits in
the barn,--but at the same time looking as if she had nothing to hide.

It was Elizabeth's turn to help Sarah Emily with the dishes, and after
breakfast she wearily dragged her feet towards the kitchen.  Tom Teeter
had come over and was talking to her father as the latter hoed in the
vegetable garden, and Tom always had candies in his pockets.  Then
Malcolm and John were building a new hen-house in the barnyard, and
every stroke of the hammer shouted to Elizabeth to come.  She took up
the dish-towel drearily and stood looking wistfully down the sunny path
that led into the orchard.  She realized now that she was utterly worn
out with the excitement of her morning adventure.  Mary and the little
boys were playing in the old wagon that stood in the barnyard.  She
could hear them laughing and shouting.  The old pig was grunting over
his trough, the hens were cackling.  She really ought to go and gather
the eggs.  She felt just then that drying dishes was an insupportable
burden.  It was always so with Elizabeth.  She could toil strenuously
all day, building a playhouse, or engineering a new game, running,
leaping, toiling all unwearied.  But when household duties were laid
upon her, except when she worked for Mother MacAllister, she was
actually overcome with physical weariness.  She leaned against the
table and yawned aloud.

"Oh, Sarah Emily, don't you hate dishes?" she groaned.  "We've got such
stacks of them."

But Sarah Emily did not hear.  Tom Teeter was standing down there
between the rows of cabbages, talking to Mr. Gordon upon the
"Conscienceless greed and onmitigated rapacity" of certain emissaries
of the opposing political party.  To all of which his neighbor was
responding with: "Well, well.  Deary me, now, Tom."

But Sarah Emily was firmly convinced that Tom was there for other
reasons than to talk politics with her master.  Sarah Emily was neither
fair of face nor graceful of form, neither had a suitor ever been seen
to approach the Gordon kitchen; nevertheless, she lived in the pleasant
delusion that all the young men of the countryside were dying for love
of her.  Tom Teeter's condition she believed to be the most hopeless;
and, like all other proud belles sure of their power, she flouted him;
and the innocent young man, when he thought about her at all, wondered
why Sarah Emily disliked him so, and took considerable pleasure in
teasing her.

So Sarah Emily made frequent excursions to and from the well as he
stood in the garden.  She sang loudly and pretended she saw no one.

  "_The 'first that came courting was young farmer Green,
  As fine a young gent as ever was seen._"

"Oh, Sarah Emily, I'm awfully tired," said Elizabeth, when the young
woman had at last settled to washing the dishes.  "Don't you 'spose you
could do them yourself this time.  I really ought to go and help Malc
and John with the hen-house."

"No, I don't, you lazy trollop," responded Sarah Emily promptly.  "You
don't seem to think I ever get tired, an' me with that pinny of yours
to iron for Sunday, too!"

Elizabeth was immediately seized with compunction.  She caught up the
towel and went at her task with feverish haste.  But her eyes would
stray down the orchard path that led to the barn.

It was only this very morning she had witnessed that strange little
scene there in the dewy, music-thrilled twilight.  It seemed so unreal
now that Elizabeth could almost believe she had dreamed it all.  She
almost wished she had.  For Mr. Coulson was perfection, and Annie was a
little better, and it was rather hard to think of her two paragons
doing anything that people might laugh at.  In the Gordon family life
there was something improper attached to any display of affection, and
kissing was positively disgraceful.  Elizabeth dared not even kiss
Jamie, much as she enjoyed it, except when the older boys were at a
safe distance.  She herself disliked being kissed by grown-up people.
Babies and little people were different.  She could remember being
kissed by her aunt once, on her first arrival, but never since.  She
and Rosie had sobbed for an hour with their heads on the desk when Mr.
Coulson made his good-by speech, but they would never have dreamed of
doing what Annie did.  And surely they loved him far more.

She was recalled to present affairs by Sarah Emily's snatching the
plate out of her hand and demanding if she intended to rub it clean off
the face of the earth?

Elizabeth took another rather sullenly.  But such a mood never lasted
longer than half a minute with her, and she was suddenly struck with
the notion that Sarah Emily might furnish some valuable information on
the subject that was worrying her.  Sarah Emily had such a vast
experience with young men.

"Sarah Emily," she said, rather hesitatingly, "did anybody--I mean any
young man ever--kiss you?"

Sarah Emily gave an hysterical shriek.  She doubled up over the table,
almost dipping her face into the dish-pan, and went off into a
hurricane of giggles.

"Oh, oh, you awful, awful bad girl, Lizzie Gordon!" she screamed,
whereupon Elizabeth knew she had not been bad at all, but had said
something that had mightily pleased Sarah Emily.

"But did they though?" she insisted, showing her even white teeth in a
sympathetic laugh.  "Eh, Sarah Emily?"

The young woman straightened herself and suddenly became dignified.

She darted a withering glance at Elizabeth.  "Not much, they didn't!"
she cried righteously.  "Jist let me ketch any o' them--yes, jist any
one o' the whole gang up to any such penoeuvres.  I'd soon fix 'em!"

There was so much scorn in her demeanor that Elizabeth was disconcerted.

"Why?" she asked anxiously.  "Ain't it nice, Sarah Emily?"

"No, it ain't!" snapped Sarah Emily emphatically.

Elizabeth was much taken aback.  It was surely not possible that Annie
could do anything impolite or ungenteel--Annie, the only one in the
family whom Aunt Margaret never scolded.  She was puzzled and troubled.
There was no one to whom she could take the matter for advice.
Elizabeth had no close confidant.  John was the nearest, but there were
so few things John understood.  Then one never dared tell Mary
anything.  Mary did not mean to be a tell-tale, but somehow everything
she knew always oozed out sooner or later.  Yes, this was a puzzle
Elizabeth must work out alone.

"Well," she said at last, determined to uphold Annie at all costs,
"it's all right in stories, anyhow.  I mean when people are going to
get married some day.  I read about it in that story about Lady Evelina
in the _Chronicle_.  Now, if you were going to get married to Tom
Teeter, Sarah Emily----"

Sarah Emily exploded in another spasm of shrieks and giggles.  She
leaned against the wall, overcome with laughter, wiping her eyes, and
declaring that if Lizzie didn't hold still she'd be the death of her.

Elizabeth became impatient.  Her older self rose up, protesting that
Sarah Emily was very silly, indeed.

"Oh, bother you, Sarah Emily," she cried, "you're a big goose!"

Sarah Emily made a leap towards her.  "You jist say that again, Lizzie
Gordon, and I'll give you a clout over the head that'll make you jump."

Elizabeth dodged round to the other side of the table, and promptly
said it again--said it many times, dancing derisively upon her toes and
waving her towel; sang it, too, in the most insulting manner to the
tune of "My Grandmother Lives, etc."

Then ensued a mad chase around the table, attended with uproar and
disaster.  A plate fell crashing to the floor, the dish-pan was upset,
the water splashed in all directions, and the small figure with shrieks
of laughter dodged this way and that, followed by the big clumsy one
shouting vengeance.

And then there suddenly fell a great silence as from the heavens.  The
door had opened, and Miss Gordon was standing in it.  Elizabeth stood
rigid in a pool of dish-water, and instinctively felt to find how many
buttons of her pinafore were undone.  Sarah Emily promptly turned away
and went vigorously to work, presenting a solid wall of indifference to
her mistress, in the form of a broad pink calico back with a row of
black buttons down the middle.

Elizabeth was not so incased in armor.  One swift glance of shame and
contrition she gave towards her aunt, and then hung her head, waiting
for the blow to fall.  Miss Gordon had never seemed so remote and so
chillingly genteel.

"Elizabeth," she said in a despairing tone, "how is it that I can never
trust you for even a few minutes out of my sight?  You grow more
rebellious and unmanageable every day.  I have given up my home, and
slaved and worked for you all, and you alone show me no gratitude.  I
can never make a lady of you, I see.  How any child belonging to a
Gordon could be so entirely ungenteel----"

On and on Miss Gordon's quiet, well-bred voice continued, every word
falling like a whip upon Elizabeth's sensitive heart.  She writhed in
agony under a sense of her own sinfulness, coupled with a keen sense of
injustice.  She had been bad--oh, frightfully wicked--but Aunt Margaret
never arraigned a culprit for any particular crime without gathering up
all her past iniquities and heaping them upon her in one load of
despair.

She listened until she could bear no more, and then, darting past her
aunt, she tore madly upstairs in a passion of rage and grief.  Miss
Gordon's genteel voice went steadily on, adding the sin of an evil and
uncontrollable temper to Elizabeth's black catalogue.  But Elizabeth
was out of hearing by this time.  She had shut herself, with a sounding
bang, into the little bedroom where she and Mary slept, and flung
herself upon the mat before the bed.  Even in her headlong despair she
had refrained from pitching herself upon the bed, which Annie and Jean
had arranged so neatly under its faded patch-work quilt.  Instead she
lay prone upon the floor and wept bitterly.  Anger and a sense of
injustice came first, and then bitter repentance.  She loved her aunt,
and Sarah Emily, and she had injured both.  She was always doing wrong,
always causing trouble.  Aunt Margaret could not understand her being a
Gordon at all.  Probably she wasn't one.  Yes, that was the solution of
the whole matter.  She was an adopted child, and not like the rest.
She was sure of it now.  Hadn't Aunt Margaret hinted it again and again?

Elizabeth always went through this mental process during her many
tempests of anguish.  But always, through it all, the older self sat
waiting, sometimes quite out of sight, but always there.  And in the
end she brought up a picture of Elizabeth's mother--the bright little
mother whom she never forgot and who used to say, "Little Lizzie is
more like me than any of my children."  That assurance always came to
Elizabeth.  No, her whole family might forsake her, but her mother was
always her very own.  Her mother could never, never have been so cruel
as merely to adopt her.  Next, as always, came contrition, and deep
self-abasement.  She stopped crying and lay still, wondering why it was
she could never be good like Annie, or even Jean.  Then there was
Constance Holworth, the lonely girl in the Sunday-school library book.
She never got into a temper.  And if she ever did, or even thought the
smallest wrong thought, she always went down to the drawing-room and
said sweetly, "Dear mamma, please forgive me."  Even Elizabeth's
imagination could not draw a congruous picture of herself speaking thus
to Sarah Emily without some strange result.  Besides, they had no
drawing-room, and evidently one needed that sort of chamber for the
proper atmosphere.  Elizabeth wondered drearily what a drawing-room
could be.  Most likely a room in which one sat and drew pictures all
day long.  This reminded her of her own drawing materials lying in the
bottom drawer, one of her birthday presents from Mrs. Jarvis.  She half
arose, with the thought that she might get out her paint-box or the old
faded doll that Mary and she shared, then sank back despairingly upon
the mat again.  What was the use trying to solace a broken heart with
such trifles?

But when she grew up and became a great artist, and drew pictures as
big as the Vicar of Wakefield's family group, and all the Gordons came
to her drawing-room to wonder and admire,--Sarah Emily and Aunt
Margaret the most eager and admiring of all,--then, though she would be
very kind to them all, she would never smile.  She would always wear a
look of heart-broken melancholy, and when people would ask what made
the great Miss Gordon, who was Mrs. Jarvis's adopted daughter, so very,
very sad, Mrs. Jarvis would explain that dreadful afflictions in her
childhood had blighted her whole life.  And then Sarah Emily and Aunt
Margaret would go away weeping over the havoc they had wrought.

Elizabeth gained so much comfort from these reflections that she came
up from the depths of despair sufficiently to take note of her
surroundings.  The window looking out upon the orchard was open, and
from the pasture-field there arose a great noise--whistling, shouting,
rattling of tin pails, and barking.  She sprang up and darted to the
window.  That double racket always proclaimed the approach of Charles
Stuart and Trip.  Yes, there they were, the former just vaulting over
the bars, the latter wriggling through them.  Charles Stuart had a big
tin pail and a small tin cup, and, just as sure as she was a living,
breathing person, he and John would be off in two minutes to pick
strawberries in Sandy McLachlan's slash!

Elizabeth went down the stairs three steps at a time.  Miss Gordon was
sitting by the dining-room window, Annie at her side.  Both were
sewing, and Annie's cheeks so pink and her eyes so bright that her aunt
looked at her curiously from time to time.  They were interrupted by
the bursting open of the door, and like a whirlwind a disheveled little
person, wild-eyed and tear-stained, in a dirty, streaked pinafore,
flung herself into the room.

"Oh, Aunt Margaret!  The boys are going pickin' berries.  Can't I go,
too?  Oh, do let me go?"

Elizabeth stood before her aunt twisting her pinafore into a string in
an agony of suspense.

Miss Gordon looked at the turbulent little figure in silent despair,
and Annie ventured gently:

"It would be nice to have strawberries for tea, aunt, and Lizzie could
help John."

Miss Gordon sighed.  "If I could only trust you, Elizabeth," she said.
"But I wonder what new trouble you'll get into?"

"Oh, I promise I won't get into any!" gasped Elizabeth in solemn
pledge, all unconscious that it was equivalent to a promise from the
wind not to blow.

"It's no use promising," said Miss Gordon mournfully.  "You know,
Elizabeth, I have warned you repeatedly against the wild streak in you,
and yet in the face of all my admonitions you still persist in acting
in an unladylike manner.  Now, when I was a little girl, I never went
anywhere with my brother, your dear papa, except perhaps for a little
genteel stroll----"

Elizabeth could bear no more.  The last prop of endurance gave way at
the sight of John and Charles Stuart marching calmly past the window,
rattling their tin pails.

"Oh, Aunt Margaret!" she burst out in anguished tones, "couldn't
you--would you please finish scolding me when I get back.  The boys are
gone!"

Miss Gordon paused, completely baffled.  This strangest child of all
this strange family of William's was quite beyond her.

"Go then," she said, with a gesture of despair.  "Go.  I have nothing
more to say."

Elizabeth was tearing down the garden path before she had finished.  To
be cast off as hopeless was anguish, but it was nothing to the horror
of being kept at home to be made genteel.  In a moment more, with
shrieks of joy, she was flying down the lane, towards two disgusted
looking boys reluctantly awaiting her at the edge of the mill-pond.



CHAPTER V

A ROYAL TITLE

"The Slash" was the name given to a piece of partially cleared land
lying between the mill-pond and Sandy McLachlan's clearing.  The timber
on it had been cut down and it had grown up in a wild luxuriance of
underbrush and berry bushes.  The latter had from time to time been
cleared away in patches, and here and there between the fallen
tree-trunks were stretches of green grass, where the wild strawberries
grew.  The Slash was the most delightful place in which to go roaming
at large and give oneself up to a buccaneer life.  On schooldays,
though the Gordons passed through it morning and afternoon, there was
little opportunity to linger over its treasures.  But the memory of its
cool, flowery glades, its sunny uplands, its wealth of berries or wild
grapes or hazel-nuts as the season of each came round, always beckoned
the children on holidays.  The Gordon boys had long used it as a
playground.  Here they could indulge in games of wild Indians and
pirates, setting fire to the brush-wood, cutting down trees, and
engaging in such other escapades as were not sufficiently genteel to be
carried on under their aunt's eye.  So on holidays thither they always
repaired, either with the excuse of accompanying Charles Stuart to the
mill, or carrying a pail or a fishing-rod to give the proper coloring
to their departure.

But on this first summer holiday John and Charles Stuart found
themselves, upon setting out, hampered by a much worse encumbrance than
a berry-pail.

"Lizzie Gordon!" said her brother sternly, "you ain't comin'."

"I am so!" declared Elizabeth, secure in permission from the powers at
home.  "Aunt said I could."

John looked at Charles Stuart, and Charles Stuart winked at John and
nodded towards the opposite edge of the pond.  Elizabeth knew only too
well that those significant glances meant, "We'll run away from her and
hide as soon as we're into The Slash."

"No, you can't then," she cried triumphantly, just as though they had
spoken.  "I can beat you at running, Charles Stuart MacAllister."

This was a fact Charles Stuart could not contradict.  Elizabeth was the
wind itself for speed, and many a time he and John had tried in vain to
leave her behind.  But her brother knew a manoeuvre that always brought
capitulation from the enemy.  He turned away and walked for some paces
at Charles Stuart's side, then glanced back at Elizabeth resolutely
following.

"Aw, you're a nice one," he exclaimed, "followin' boys when they're
goin' swimmin'!"

Elizabeth stopped motionless in the pathway.  One might bear slights
and indignities, even positive opposition, but the insinuation that one
was vulgar enough to go swimming at all, much more with boys, was an
insult no human being could stand.  She turned away slowly, and, as the
two inexorable figures went on down the willow path into the ravine,
she dropped upon the earth and burst into despairing sobs.  To be left
so cruelly was bad enough, but what hurt most was John's horrible
innuendo.  It fairly scorched Elizabeth's soul.

She was lying prone upon the clover-starred grass, weeping bitterly,
when she was aroused by a rustle in the willows.  A face was looking
through the green tangle.

"Aw, hurrah, Lizzie," Charles Stuart was saying, "come on.  We're only
in fun.  We ain't goin' swimmin' at all."

"I won't," wailed Elizabeth.  "John doesn't want me; he never does, and
I'm going right back home."

Through her vanishing tears she had seen John approaching, and had
suddenly became conscious of the fact that if she returned home weeping
she would be questioned and matters might not be so comfortable for
John.  That the young man recognized the danger himself was evident,
for he added his olive branch to Charles Stuart's.  "Hurrah, Lizzie.
Don't be such a baby.  Come along.  We can't wait."

But Elizabeth was a woman to the very tips of her long, tapering
fingers, and finding herself in a position of power was not going to
capitulate at once.  It was delightful to be coaxed, and by the boys,
too.  So she merely sat up and, gazing back up the lane, sighed in a
hopeless way and said, "You don't want me, I know you don't, I might as
well go back."

"Come on, you silly," cried John, now thoroughly alarmed.  "Come on
now.  Mind you, we won't wait.  Hurrah, Charles Stuart, and she can
stay if she likes."

They started down the ravine again; and, seeing that her air of grieved
dignity was liable to be lost in the willows, Elizabeth got to her feet
and went scrambling after them.

Down at the bottom of the hollow, where the little stream widened into
a lazy brown pond, lay Mr. MacAllister's saw-mill.  It ran for only a
few months in the spring and early summer and was now closed.  Only,
away down the valley where the road wound into the lumber yard, the
banging of boards told that someone was preparing to haul away a load.

None of The Dale children ever passed the mill without a visit, and of
course Charles Stuart always explored it all with a fine air of
proprietorship.  So they scrambled over the silent place with its sweet
smell of running water and fresh sawdust.  They beat a clamorous tattoo
upon the big circular saw, they went down to the lower regions and
explored the dark hole where the big water-wheel hung motionless, with
only the drip, drip of water from the flume above.  They rode on the
little car that brought the logs up from the pond, and in as many ways
as possible risked life and limb as boys must ever do.

In all these hazardous ventures Elizabeth joined.  She was desperately
frightened, but knew she must win her spurs at the outset or run the
awful risk of being left behind even yet.  Her conduct proved
satisfactory, and by the time they reached the other side of the pond,
and had climbed the steep bank, clinging to the bracken and dog-wood,
friendly relations had been once more established.  When the boys had
once got over the disgrace of feeling that a girl was tagging after
them, and took Elizabeth on her own merits, these three generally got
on very amicably.  She was often a great nuisance, but on the whole
they got as much fun as trouble from her panics over snakes and
field-mice, and, when out of sight of The Dale, they voted her as good
a fellow as the rest.

So away they went over The Slash, tearing through underbrush, and
pausing occasionally to glance over the patches of grass for
strawberries.  They soon decided that there were so many they could
soon fill their pails, and John suggested they sit down and eat the
lunch Charles Stuart had brought, for he was sure it must be
dinner-time by the look of the sun.

Mother MacAllister, with a motherly thought for the Gordons, had put up
a substantial repast of bread and pork and generous wedges of pie and a
pile of cookies big enough to make glad the heart of any boy.  This,
supplemented by some thick slices of bread and butter which John had
begged from Sarah Emily, made a great feast.  They grew very merry over
it, and when it was finished, up from the bottom of John's pail came a
book--the real reason for the berry-picking expedition.  Just whether
it would be forbidden by their aunt or not, John and Elizabeth had not
run the risk of inquiring.  It was a tremendously funny book, so funny
that the last time they had read a chapter--it was up in the hay-mow on
a rainy Saturday--Elizabeth had laughed so loud that they had almost
been discovered.  John could go off into one of his silent fits of
laughter in the same room as Aunt Margaret and never be discovered, but
Elizabeth was prone to scream and dance, and when anything funny seized
her Sandy McLachlan's slash was only at a safe distance from home.

So, as the book was so very enjoyable, they had decided that it had
better be read in private.  Elizabeth had some conscientious scruples,
which she had been bold enough to utter, but they were silenced by
John's quoting no less an authority than Mr. Coulson.  The schoolmaster
had been overheard saying to Tom Teeter that he had spent all one
Saturday forenoon reading "Innocents Abroad."  And he had told Annie
some of the funny stories in it, hence John had begged it from Malcolm,
who had borrowed it from a High School boy in Cheemaun.

So the three sat them down in a shady nook, against a mossy log, and
listened with delight while John read.  They took turns at reading
aloud; Charles Stuart was the best reader, and Elizabeth the worst.
She either read very slowly and stumbled over all the long words, or
else so fast one could not follow her.  But Charles Stuart was a
wonderful reader, one of the best in school.  Indeed, Mr. Coulson
declared that Charles Stuart would make a greater public speaker than
Tom Teeter some day, if he set his mind to oratory.

But to-day it was John's turn to read, and when the extracts were not
too funny he progressed fairly well, toiling along in a quiet monotone.
When the story became very laughable, however, he proved a great trial
to his listeners.  Before he could utter the joke, his voice would fail
and he would collapse into helpless laughter.  When importuned by his
audience to speak out and let them know what the fun was, he would make
agonized attempts to utter the words, failing again and again, until
Charles Stuart would snatch the book from him.  Sometimes the sight of
John struggling to utter in anguishing whispers the thing that was
rendering him helpless was far funnier than Mark Twain himself, and
Elizabeth and Charles Stuart would roll over on the grass in shrieks of
laughter long before they heard what the joke was about.

But such irresponsible conduct could not continue, and when the cool
part of the day had been consumed in the shade, they had to turn out in
the blazing noon-day sun to hunt for strawberries.  The three
adventurers would have preferred the shade and Mark Twain, or else a
dash through the woods, but they were true Canadians, born with that
innate idea that he who does not work should not eat.  So to work they
went of their own free will.  The strawberries were plentiful, and soon
the tin cups, heaped with their luscious loads, were being carried to
the pails beneath the bass-wood bushes.  Elizabeth never grew weary
picking strawberries.  This was a task infinitely removed from being
shut into a hot kitchen with a dish-towel, while the boys played in the
barnyard.  The glory of the day, the sense of freedom from restraint,
the beauty of the rosy clusters, hiding shyly beneath their pretty
leaves, all combined to make work seem play.  She picked so furiously
that she was a spur to even Charles Stuart, accustomed as he was to
hard work at his farm-home, and lest they be beaten by a girl the boys
toiled strenuously.

By the time the afternoon sun had begun to wane, the big pails were
filled and shaken down and filled again, the pickers had eaten almost
as much more, and surfeited, hot, and thirsty they found themselves on
the edge of the slash that bordered the woods.

Down the leafy pathway which led towards the school they could see
Sandy McLachlan's log house standing in its little clearing.

"Hurrah over and ask old Sandy for a drink," cried Charles Stuart.
"I'm chokin'."

Elizabeth followed them into the woods, full of delight.  It would be
such fun to visit Eppie in the afternoon, just as if they were grown-up
ladies, and she had come to stay to tea.

There was a strange, deserted air about the little place.  There was
nobody in the tiny garden, where Eppie's sunflowers and sweet peas
stood blazing in the sunshine.  There was even no sign of life about
the little log house.  They went up the hard beaten path to the door.
It was open, and they peeped in.  Eppie's pink sunbonnet was lying on a
chair and the crumbs of the late dinner were still scattered over the
bare pine table.

"They must be down at the barn," said Charles Stuart.  "I'm goin' to
have a drink, anyhow."

A rusty tin dipper hung over the well, and they helped themselves.  The
sound of the pump brought a little figure round the corner of the old
log barn.

At the sight of Elizabeth, Eppie came running up the path.  She was
barefooted, as Eppie always was except on Sundays, and wore a coarse,
gray wincey dress and a big apron.  Poor Eppie's clothes were all much
too large for her, for the little girl had no woman's deft hand to
dress her.  She shyly slipped past the boys and took hold of
Elizabeth's hand.  Her big, pathetic eyes shone with joy.  "Oh, Lizzie,
I'll be that glad to see you," she whispered in her old-fashioned way.
Perhaps it was her long dress, but somehow Elizabeth always had the
impression that poor Eppie had always been old and grown-up.  "Come
away down to the barn and see grandaddy," she added, including the
boys.  "There's two men down there an' they're goin' to take
grandaddy's house away from him, only the master says he won't let
them."

Here was exciting news.  The boys ran on ahead, and Elizabeth and Eppie
quickly followed, the former plying her hostess with wondering
questions.

A smart horse and a shiny top-buggy were standing in the barnyard.  In
the vehicle two men were seated, and beside them stood old Sandy and
Mr. Coulson.  The schoolmaster was using the first two or three days of
his holidays in which to bid farewell to his Forest Glen friends.
Elizabeth had heard him say he would do so, yesterday in school, and as
she caught sight of him she could not help thinking he must have said
good-by to hundreds and hundreds of people that day, since he had
started so early.  The speculation passed dimly through her mind as to
how many of them he had kissed.

But her chief feeling was one of joy at the sight of him, and keeping
hold of Eppie's hand she went round to the side of the horse where he
stood.  Elizabeth was shy and frightened in the presence of strangers,
unless some unusual encouragement brought her older self to the fore,
when she could converse with the ease of an accomplished society woman.
But the sight of these smart-looking strangers, evidently from town,
filled her with discomfort, and she shyly drew up behind Mr. Coulson.

"But, Mr. Oliver," he was saying, "there must surely be some justice in
his claim.  Why, Mr. McLachlan has lived here for twenty years, and
changed the place from dense woods to what you see now."

The elder man in the buggy, a stout, good-natured looking fellow,
lazily blew a whiff of smoke from his cigar and smiled in a superior
way.  "Mr. Huntley," he said, turning to the young man at his side,
"when Mr. Coulson enters your office, I'm afraid you're going to have
trouble drilling him into the mysteries of meum and tuum as interpreted
by the law."

"Yes, as interpreted by the law," repeated Mr. Coulson rather hotly.
"The law sometimes speaks in a foreign language.  If I thought my study
of it was going to warp my ideas of right and wrong I'd go back home
and pitch hay for the rest of my life."

The young man in the carriage looked at him closely.  He was a handsome
young fellow, about Mr. Coulson's own age, with a clever, clean-cut
face.  "There's something in your contention, John," he said, "but I'm
acting for my client remember, and he has his ideas of right and wrong,
too.  He's paying for the place."

The young teacher's face fell, and old Sandy McLachlan, who had been
watching him with eyes pitifully anxious, came a step nearer.

"They will not be turning me off?" he asked, half-fearfully,
half-defiantly.  "I would be working on this place for twenty years.
Mr. Jarvis would be telling me it will be mine, as long as I live.  And
what will become of me and my little Eppie?"

"Well, well, Mr. McLachlan," said the jolly-looking man, not losing a
whit of his jollity at the sight of the old man's distress.  "Well,
well, we won't discuss the matter any further to-day.  You won't be
disturbed until the fall anyway.  And Mr. Huntley here will see that
justice is done, whatever happens.  He's one of the cleverest young
lawyers in Cheemaun, you know."

"Hech!" interrupted old Sandy, his eyes blazing.  "Yes, it is that I
will be fearing.  The Lord peety the man that will be falling into the
hands of a clever lawyer!"

The comfortable-looking man seemed to take this as a grand joke.  He
laughed heartily and dug his elbow into the side of his young
companion.  "Hear that, Blake?  Ha, ha! you lawyers deserve all you
get.  Ha! ha! that's good!"

The young man at his side did not reply to the raillery.  He was
looking past Mr. Coulson at the group of four children, standing
open-mouthed, gazing at the men, and breathlessly listening to every
word.  He was particularly struck with the smallest one, a little girl
in a torn, berry-stained blue pinafore and a sunbonnet of the same
material.  Her two small brown hands held in a tight grasp the hand of
old Sandy's granddaughter, her cheeks were crimson, and her big eyes
were blazing with an expression of mingled wrath and fear.

"Whose youngsters?" he asked, nodding towards them.  "They don't all
belong here, do they?"  Mr. Coulson turned, and for the first time
noticed the berry-pickers.  "Hello!  Charles Stuart and John Gordon and
Lizzie herself!" he cried.  "Been picking berries, eh?"

"Who's the little brown thing with all the eyes and hair?" asked Mr.
Huntley.

Mr. Coulson took Elizabeth's hand and drew her up to the side of the
buggy.  "This gentleman wants to know your name, Lizzie," he said.

"It's 'Lizbeth Jarvis Gordon," said that young lady with great dignity.
She was not the least bit shy or frightened now.  Had she liked this
Mr. Huntley she might have been, but she was filled with a longing to
stand up boldly and denounce him as a cruel monster who was trying to
turn Eppie and her grandfather out of Forest Glen.  She looked straight
into his face with big, accusing eyes.

"Jarvis!" said the young man in surprise.  "That's a familiar name.
Where did you get it, Miss 'Lizbeth Jarvis Gordon?"

Elizabeth gave that haughty turn to her long neck, which the conduct of
Charles Stuart and John so often called forth.  She looked away
straight over the fence-tops.  It might be rude, it certainly was not
genteel, but she positively refused to converse with a scoundrel who
would ill-use Eppie.

Mr. Coulson looked down at her averted face and tightly closed lips,
and an amused look flitted over his countenance.  He understood this
peculiar little Lizzie fairly well, and lately had been feeling very
sympathetic towards her, for special reasons of his own.

"She's a namesake of Mrs. Jarvis," he explained.  "But you're not in
favor.  There's a deep friendship here, you understand."  He nodded
significantly towards Eppie, standing back pale and tearful.

"Oh, I see.  And I'm the ogre in the fairy-tale."  The young man
laughed.  "Well, well, Queen Elizabeth, I hope we'll meet again under
more friendly auspices.  In the meantime, here's something to remember
me by."  He dived into his pocket, and the two boys behind Elizabeth
gave a gasp of astonishment.  He was holding towards her a shining
silver American dollar!

And then, for the first time in his life, John Gordon felt a thrill of
pride in Lizzie.  For the little girl stepped hastily back, her hands
clasped tightly behind her.  Her face grew crimson with shame and
anger.  Why, no one was ever given money to except the beggars and
crossing-sweepers she had read about in the Sunday-school library
books!  And she--a Gordon--to be offered a coin, as if she were a
charity orphan, and by such a horrid, horrid, bad man as this!  She
flashed him one look of deeply offended dignity, and, catching hold of
John's coat, slipped behind him.

The man named Oliver burst again into loud laughter, and slapped his
companion on the back.

"Ha! ha!  Blake!  Turned down that time, all right.  Queen Elizabeth's
a mighty haughty young lady!"

The young man pretended to laugh, but he really looked annoyed, as he
crushed his scorned money back into his pocket, and took up the reins.
He did not glance again at the haughty Queen Elizabeth, but nodded
curtly to old Sandy.  "Good-by, Mr. McLachlan.  Don't forget to drop
into my office when you're in town.  Good-by, Coulson.  See you Monday,
I suppose."

And, giving his horse a sharp cut with the whip, he went whizzing off
down the lane.

"Lizzie Gordon," said Mr. Coulson, catching hold of her sunbonnet and
giving her a little shake, "you gave that young man a severer rebuke
than I managed in half-an-hour's hard talk.  Now, cheer up, Sandy.
Things aren't hopeless yet."

"Och, and it iss not hopeless I will be," said the old man, with a
stately air.  His face lit up, and his eyes took on a far-away look.
"I haf never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread.
That will be the word of God, Mr. Coulson, and not even the lawyers can
be breaking that.  I will not be righteous, oh, no!  The Lord forbid
that I say such a word, for it is the evil tongue I will be hafing that
will be uttering ungodly words when the dogs will be coming into the
house o' the Lord--and a curse on them for pollutin' the holy place!
But, indeed an' indeed, it is a miserable sinner I will be.  But my
father would be a great man of prayer, and versed in the Scriptures,
and for his sake the Almighty will not be letting the wee thing come to
want.  Oh, no, indeed."

There was a sublime faith in the old man's heart that rose above
worldly disaster.  His little granddaughter crept up to him and laid
her little brown hand on his coarse shirt-sleeve.

"The place will be ours, anyway; won't it, grandaddy?" she whispered
tremulously.  "They couldn't be turning us out, could they?"

As he looked down at her, the old man's mood changed.  His fighting
blood was rising.

"Eh, them lawyers!" he cried fiercely.  "I will be begging your pardon,
Mr. Coulson," he added apologetically.  "But it will be a great peety
that a fine man like yourself would be hafing anything to do with the
tribe.  But if they had jist been hafing the Gaelic, I would haf been
giving it to them.  Och, but it will be a peety about the English.  It
would be but a poor spoke, indeed."

"Well, Sandy, let us hope that there are some honest lawyers.  I'm
going into Mr. Huntley's office on Monday, and I'll do my best for you.
Don't worry."

When the farewells had been said, and Elizabeth had comforted Eppie in
parting, the berry-pickers found to their joy that Mr. Coulson was to
accompany them for a short distance, on his way to Wully Johnstone's.
They had many eager questions to ask him.  What were those men doing?
the boys demanded.  How dared they try to turn old Sandy away?  What
had they to do with his place, anyway?  Mr. Coulson explained that they
could not understand it all, for law was a very complex thing indeed.
But all this property of Sandy's, as well as Tom Teeter's land, and
everything between here and The Dale, had once belonged to Mr. Jarvis,
and now belonged to the lady for whom Lizzie was called.  Mrs. Jarvis
had come to Cheemaun this summer and had asked her lawyer to sell all
this property.  And now it would appear that old Sandy's farm was for
sale, too.  For Sandy had no deed of his property; in fact, had merely
worked it for Mr. Jarvis, who, Sandy declared, had told him that all
south of the Birch Creek belonged to him.  But it wasn't in writing,
and lawyers did not believe anything they didn't see.

The children listened dismayed, and each proffered his own opinion as
to the line of conduct old Sandy should pursue.  Charles Stuart would
barricade the gates and put up a palisade round the whole farm, the way
they did in the old Indian days.  Yes, and he would buy a gun and shoot
dead anyone who set foot on his property.  John heartily agreed with
the plan, introducing modifications.  A palisade would require all the
soldiers in the County of Simcoe to man it.  Instead, he would lay
mines and torpedoes and deadly man-traps up the lane and all through
the bush, so that no approach could be made to the house.

The two walked on ahead, consumed with excitement over the warlike
plans, and Elizabeth and Mr. Coulson fell behind.  He saw the distress
in the little girl's face, and made light of the situation.  Eppie
would be all right, she need not worry.  No one would touch her, not
even Mr. Huntley, who was after all not such a bad young man.  And, to
change the subject to something brighter, he said:

"It's just fine luck you came along this way.  I'm going away
to-morrow, and I thought I shouldn't see you again."

"But I was up when you were at our place this morning," said Elizabeth,
and no sooner were the words out than she could have bitten off her
tongue for its indiscretion.  She did not need the startled, dismayed
look in the young man's eyes, or his crimsoning face, to tell her she
had made a shocking mistake, for the older inner self rose up in severe
accusation.

"Oh, Mr. Coulson!" she stopped in the pathway and regarded him with
deep contrition.  "Oh, I didn't mean that!  I--I mean I couldn't help
seeing.  I was watching for fear John would run away on me, and go
fishing.  And nobody else saw--and Annie doesn't even know.  And you
know I wouldn't ever, ever tell, don't you?"

She looked up at him with such desperate anxiety that he could not but
have confidence in her.  His own face cleared.

"You're sure nobody else saw?" he whispered.

"Oh, yes, certain," breathed Elizabeth.  "I--I--" she stopped, overcome
by the tears of shame that were filling her eyes.

Her teacher took her hand.  He could never bear to see a little girl in
distress.  "There now," he said.  "It's all right, Lizzie.  But you
know, little girl, this is something I can't explain to you, because
you are too little to understand.  You will know all about it some day.
But listen."  He stopped and looked at her closely.  "I know we can
trust you, little Lizzie," he said.

Elizabeth looked up at him through her tears.  It was entirely the wise
old Elizabeth that was there.

"Yes," she said solemnly, "I wouldn't tell."

He slipped his little note-book from his pocket and scribbled in it.
It might be just as well to warn Annie.  The two boys had disappeared
round a curve in the leafy pathway ahead.  He folded the note carefully
and handed it to her.  "You won't lose it, Lizzie?" he asked.  "And
you'll give it to Annie when there's no one around?"

"Yes! yes!" cried Elizabeth.  She slipped it into the pocket of her
blue pinafore, and smiled up at him.  She felt wonderfully grown-up and
important.  Mr. Coulson was putting confidence in her.  They had a
secret between them, he and she.  She said good-by to him at the place
where the path to Wully Johnstone's branched off, and away she ran
after the boys, dancing with joy.

When the weary and hungry berry-pickers reached home they had an
exciting tale to tell and many questions to ask.  Tom Teeter came over
after tea to give his opinion upon poor old Sandy's case.  Jake Martin
across from him was trying to buy Sandy's land, folk said, and if
Martin did such a thing, then he, Tom Teeter, considered him a more
penurious and niggardly miser, that would skin his neighbor's
grasshoppers for their hide and tallow, than he had already proven
himself to be.

Mr. MacAllister had dropped in, too, as he very often did of an
evening, and suspended his work to discuss the question of the moment.
Mr. MacAllister's double business of farmer and mill-owner, while not
at all taxing his physique, was too much for his mental powers, and he
was frequently compelled to have recourse to Mr. Gordon for help.  Mr.
MacAllister had a peculiar method of calculating the selling price of
lumber, which he very appropriately termed "the long way of figgerin'."
It was so long that it frequently covered boards and shingles, and even
the walls of the mill, before the final number of dollars and cents
appeared, the result being that the lumber sawn was all out of
proportion to the number of figures required to compute its value.

So Mr. Gordon was frequently appealed to, and with a few magic strokes
he would reduce the Long Way to its proper size.  On this evening the
problem was put aside for the discussion of poor Sandy's affairs.  Mr.
Martin was known as a hard man throughout the countryside, and Mr.
MacAllister gave it as his opinion that if Sandy had Jake Martin and
the lawyers after him, he might as well get out of the country.  There
was no hope for a man when the law got him.  For the law was a scheme
used by smart folks in town to cheat people out of their earnings.

Mr. Gordon said, "Well, well, well," and, "Indeed and indeed," and
hoped things would not be quite so bad.  But his sister looked worried
in her stately, reserved fashion.  To be sure, this business might
bring Mrs. Jarvis to her door, who could tell, especially as Mr. Oliver
and Mr. Huntley had both seen Elizabeth.  But what an Elizabeth to be
described to that lady!  On the whole, she was worried, and when the
visitors were gone she followed her brother into his study and asked to
see the paper signed by the late Mr. Jarvis, stating that they had
really a lawful claim upon The Dale.  And she was not surprised, though
much dismayed, to find that her unbusinesslike brother had no such
document in his possession.



CHAPTER VI

SCHOOLDAYS

The Forest Glen School opened on a ripe, warm day near the end of
August.  The Dale Valley lay basking in the sunshine, with that look of
perfect rest and content that comes from labor well done.  Where the
fields were not heavy with the harvest, the barns were bursting with
it.  The orchard trees bent to the earth with their wealth of red and
golden spheres.  The wild grape-vines along the roadside were hung with
purple clusters.  On sunny slopes the golden-rod waved its yellow
plumes, the herald of autumn, and near, its companion, the aster,
raised its little lavender stars.  Summer was at its maturity, warm,
ripe, and dreamily restful, with as yet no hint of days less fair.

But dreams and rest were far from the minds of the Gay Gordons as they
met the gathering clans in the lane to take their journey down the
short-cut to school.  Charles Stuart was there, and a crowd of Martins,
and even Wully Johnstone's youngsters, who had come half a mile out of
their way to join the crowd.

Miss Gordon stood at the door, holding little Jamie by the hand, and
watched the happy troop, ladened with schoolbags and dinner-pails, go
down the lane.  Jamie cried because his "Diddy" was leaving him, and
there would be nobody to play with, but Miss Gordon saw them depart
with feelings of unmixed pleasure.  In a few days Malcolm and Jean
would start for the High School in Cheemaun, and what a relief the
long, quiet genteel days would be with only Annie for a companion!

Down the lane gayly passed the joyous procession.  For the rising
generation of Forest Glen had not yet become sophisticated enough to
consider school a hardship.  Instead, it was a joy, and often an escape
from harder work.  To the Martins, at least, it was.  Jake Martin was
indeed a hard man, as the country-side declared, and nowhere did his
hand lie heavier than on his own family.  There was a Martin to match
each Gordon and some left over, and not one of them but already showed
signs of toil beyond their young strength.  Dairy-farming,
market-gardening, poultry-raising, and every known form of making money
on the farm was carried on by the Martins on an extensive scale, and
everyone, from Mrs. Martin down, was a slave to their swelling bank
account.  The older boys and girls had already left school to work at
home, and those who did go always hurried back to plant or weed or dig
in the fields as the season demanded.  Susie was Elizabeth's comrade,
being of the same age.  But there was none of the light and joyous
thoughtlessness of Elizabeth's character in poor Susie's life.  The
little girl's hands were already hardened by the broom, the
churn-dasher, and the hoe, and the only emotion Susie ever displayed
was fear lest she might be late in reaching home, and so miss five
minutes' work and suffer punishment at the hands of her father.
Elizabeth often wondered what it would be like to have a father one was
afraid of, and was very kind and gentle with Susie, though she
considered her a complete failure as a playmate.

As they passed the mill, John and Charles Stuart and Wully Johnstone's
Johnny seized the car and took a couple of tumultuous rides down to the
water's edge, but the Martin boys went on steadily and solemnly.  Their
father would be sure to hear if they paused to play on the way to
school.

The pond lay cool and brown beneath the shade of the alders and
willows.  Away up at the end, where the stream entered from its jungle
of water-reeds and sunken stumps and brown bullrushes, there grew a
tangle of water-plants all in glorious blossom.  There were
water-lilies both golden and waxy-white, and blue spikes of
pickerel-weed, and clumps of fragrant musk.  And over the surface of
the golden-brown water was spread a fairy web of delicate plant life,
vivid green, and woven of such tiny forms that it looked like airy foam
that a breath would dissolve.  On its outer edge was an embroidery of
dainty star-blossoms, like little green forget-me-nots scattered over
the glassy surface.

The green and golden vista of flowers that led away up from this fairy
nook, with the green and golden water winding between the blossoming
banks, always called aloud to Elizabeth whenever she crossed the ravine
by the mill-path.  She never looked up the creek without longing to
explore its winding pathway, right up to the depths of Wully
Johnstone's swamp.  And yet, strange Elizabeth, when she had once
gained her desire, it had given her anything but enjoyment.  She and
Charles Stuart and John had built a raft from old mill slabs that
spring, just when the creek was choked with blue fleur-de-lis and pink
ladies'-slippers.  They had gone way up stream on a voyage of
discovery, bumping over sunken logs, crashing into rotten stumps, and
ruthlessly destroying whole acres of moss and water-reeds.  It had all
been just as lovely as Elizabeth had dreamed, but there were other
things upon which she had not reckoned.  There were black water-snakes
coiled amongst the rushes, and horrible speckled frogs sitting up on
water-lily leaves; frogs with awful goggle eyes that looked at you out
of the darkness of your bedroom for many, many nights afterwards.
There were mud-turtles that paddled their queer little rafts right up
to yours, and poked their dreadful snaky heads right up at you out of
the water.  And besides all the creepy, crawly things that swarmed down
in the golden-brown depths and made your hair stand on end when your
bare feet touched the water, there were thousands of frightful leggy
things that wore skates and ran swiftly at you right over the surface.
Even the air was filled with blue "darning-needles" and stingy-looking
things, that buzzed and danced about your ears, so that there was no
safety nor comfort above nor below.  And so Elizabeth had returned from
her first visit to her Eldorado full of mingled feelings.  And all the
time she was learning that great lesson of life: that the fairy bowers
which beckon us to come away and play give pure pleasure only when
viewed from the stony pathway that leads up to the schoolhouse of duty.
But that was a lesson Elizabeth took many years to learn.

So she merely glanced up the creek and sighed as they climbed the hill.
She said nothing to Susie of all it meant to her.  For Susie, though a
very dear girl, was not a person who understood.

Over The Slash they went, through old Sandy McLachlan's woods, down his
lane to the highway, and with a last glad rush right into the
schoolyard.

Eppie joined Elizabeth at her barnyard gate.  Childlike, they had both
practically forgotten the fear that had hung over Eppie's head early in
the summer, and were happily unconscious that the little home in the
woods was already another's.

Forest Glen School stood near the road; so near, indeed, that the porch
actually encroached upon the Queen's Highway.  But there was plenty of
room behind the building.  For beyond a lumpy yard, innocent of a blade
of grass, stretched miles of Wully Johnstone's swamp, which had been
appropriated by the pupils as a playground.  This seemed only just, for
remains of the forest still held possession of much of the
school-grounds proper.  Nobody objected to the stumps, however, because
they were useful as bases in the ball games, and young Forest Glen had
once raised a storm of protest when a visiting lady from town had
suggested to Mr. Coulson that he have them removed on Arbor Day.  There
was a battered old woodshed at the back, its walls covered with
carvings, its roof sagging wearily from the weight of many generations
of sliders who had shot down its snowy surface to the top of the hill
behind.  Near it stood a crippled old pump that had brought up water
for these same generations of sliders, and was still bringing it up,
which perhaps explained its disheartened appearance.

The Dale contingent always arrived early at school, and on this first
day they had still more than half an hour at their disposal.  The boys
rushed into a game of ball, but the girls gathered in groups about the
gate to watch for the new teacher.  For this one was new in every sense
of the word--a lady in fact, and Forest Glen had always heretofore had
a man; and the older girls were filled with pleasurable excitement.

Miss Hillary was to board at Martha Ellen Robertson's place, the big,
white house not a quarter of a mile down the road.  All eyes were
fastened upon the red gate to see her emerge, and many were the
speculations as to whether she would be tall or short, old or young,
plain or pretty, and above all what she should wear.

She appeared at last, and the chief questions were at once settled.
She was tall, she was young, she was pretty, and she wore a most
beautiful dark-blue dress with a trim white collar and cuffs.  She had
pretty dark hair, just waving back from her little ears, and shaded by
a dainty blue hat, trimmed with a wreath of white daisies.  The girls
gravitated towards the center of the road, Elizabeth and Rosie at the
head of the group.  Elizabeth fell in love at first sight.  She had
vowed with sobs last June that she would never, never love a teacher
again, and here she was ready to declare that this one was the most
wonderful and beautiful creature she had ever seen.

As the new teacher approached, she smiled in a stately fashion and
said, "Good-morning."  As she entered the school, the boys drifted
farther away from the building and the girls drifted nearer.  Some of
them even ventured into the room, to see her hang up her hat and take
off her gloves.  Elizabeth was foremost among the latter.  She longed
to go up to her and offer her assistance in the many new difficulties
which she saw the teacher might meet.  She would have liked to show
Miss Hillary from the first that she was really quite grown-up and
genteel.  She would help her with the names in the school register,
show her where the chalk was kept, and how the backs came off two of
the blackboard brushes, but could be kept on if you just held them
right, and how the bottom board of the blackboard might fall if you
weren't careful; and ever so much more valuable information.  Miss
Hillary would have profited much more even than Elizabeth thought, if
she had accepted that young lady at her most grown-up estimate; and
Elizabeth would have profited even more.  But, unfortunately for poor
Elizabeth, Miss Hillary was not one who easily understood.

The new teacher rang the bell and the school assembled, the big boys
straggling in last and flopping into their seats with a bored and
embarrassed air.  The room was very quiet, the unaccustomed
surroundings impressing everyone into unaccustomed silence.  For the
place had been all scrubbed and white-washed, and there were wonderful
new desks and seats that folded up all of their own accord when you
stood up, as if they worked by magic.  There was a strange smell of
varnish, too, that added much to the feeling of newness.

As soon as prayers were over, the new teacher arose and delivered her
opening speech.  Her manner was still distant and stately.  She wished
to speak to them particularly, she said, on deportment, for she had
discovered that the children of rural communities were sadly deficient
in manners.  Elizabeth quite lost the purport of the little address in
her admiration of the beautiful, long, high-sounding words with which
it was garnished.  Elizabeth loved long words.  She wished she could
remember just one or two of the biggest, and she would use them when
Mrs. Jarvis came.  Suddenly a fine plan was born in her fertile brain.
All unmindful that Miss Hillary had given strict commands to everyone
to sit straight with folded arms, she snatched her slate and pencil.
She would write down the finest and most high-sounding of those words,
and how pleased and surprised Aunt Margaret would be when she used
them.  She would look them up in the dictionary just as soon as she
could get a breathing-spell.  There were "ideals" and "aspirations" and
"deportment" many times, and "disciplined"--which last Elizabeth
spelled without a "c."   There were "principles" and "insubordination,"
and "contumacious," over the spelling of which Elizabeth had such a
very bad time, and "esprit de corps," which, fortunately, she gave up
altogether, and ever so many more, which flew over her head like birds
of paradise, brilliant and alluring, but not to be caught.  Some,
Elizabeth could remember having heard her father use, and, proudly
recognizing them as old friends, let them pass.

She was utterly absorbed in her task, her pencil flying over her slate,
squeaking madly, when right in the midst of "irresponsible" with one
"r" and several other letters wanting, she paused.  It was a poke from
Rosie that disturbed her.  Elizabeth was accustomed to being poked by
Rosie, for her seat-mate always attracted one's attention this way; but
her pokes were always eloquent and this one betokened alarm and
urgency.  For a moment or more Elizabeth had been vaguely conscious
that there was a lull in Miss Hillary's talk and a strange silence over
the room, but she had merely taken the opportunity to stick syllables
on the ends of certain words which haste had compelled her to curtail.
She was in the act of fixing up "contumacious," and making it a little
more un-English if possible, when the poke awoke her to her
surroundings.

She looked up.  All eyes were upon her--disapproving and ashamed Gordon
eyes, others amused or only interested, and, worst of all, the new
teacher's, stern and annoyed.  Elizabeth's pencil dropped from her
paralyzed fingers.  It broke in three pieces--the beautiful, long, new
pencil with the gold paper covering, which Mr. Coulson had given her at
parting; and Miss Hillary said, oh, so coldly, and sternly:

"There is one little girl in the class who has been paying no attention
whatever to anything I have been saying.  That little girl will please
come forward and take the front seat."

Elizabeth turned pale, and John and Mary hung their heads.  Oh, wasn't
it just like Lizzie to do something to disgrace the family--and right
on the first day of school, too!  The culprit arose, and slowly made
her way forward, trembling with fear.  This wonderful new creature whom
she adored was after all an unknown quantity, and Elizabeth was always
afraid of the unknown.  She went up the aisle all unseeing.  She did
not even notice Rosie's glance of anguish as she left.

She stood before the teacher's desk with hanging head.  "Sit down,"
Miss Hillary said coldly, and Elizabeth turned to obey.  Now in olden
times there had been a row of benches in front of the platform upon
which the classes sat before their teacher, but these were gone and
instead were those magic folding seats, all closed up tight.
Elizabeth, still blind with fear, went to sit down upon a bench where
no bench was, and instead sat down soundingly upon the floor.  A titter
of laughter ran over the room, and she sprang to her feet.  She was
quite unhurt, except her dignity, but even this she did not notice.
The funny side of anything, though the joke was on herself, was always
irresistible to Elizabeth.  Miss Hillary might kill her the next
moment, but for the present she must laugh, and laugh she did aloud,
showing her gleaming teeth in a short spasm of merriment.  But the fun
vanished as quickly as it had come.  She had no sooner struggled into
the unwilling seat, and looked up at her teacher, than she froze again
with apprehension.

Miss Hillary had arisen and was looking down at her, a red spot on
either cheek, her eyes angry and flashing.  Elizabeth could not know
that the young teacher was in terror of the pupils, terror lest they
take advantage of her being a woman, and was nervously on the outlook
for signs of insubordination.  She was almost as afraid of this
mischievous-looking, little brown thing as the little thing was of her,
and even suspected her of planning the ridiculous tumble for her own
and the school's amusement.  Miss Hillary was weak, and displayed the
cruelty that so often characterizes weakness in a place of power.

"What is your name?" she demanded sternly.

"'Lizbeth," faltered the culprit.  "'Lizbeth Gordon."

"How old are you?"

"Ten," whispered Elizabeth.  She always said, "Going on eleven."  But
now, feeling keenly that she had acted in a shocking manner, to be ten
did not sound quite so bad.  A mature person on the road to eleven
would never, never be called to the front the first day of school!

"Well, Elizabeth Gordon," said Miss Hillary, "any big girl of ten
should have learned long ago that it is very rude and unladylike to sit
writing when her teacher is talking to her.  I want you to remain in
this front seat, where I can watch you, until you have learned to be
mannerly.  To ignore your teacher is extremely reprehensible, but to
laugh over your conduct is positively impertinent."

Poor Elizabeth crumpled up in a forlorn, little, blue-checked heap.
"Rude and unladylike!"  Those were the condemnatory words her aunt so
often used, but the anguish they awoke was as nothing to the awful
shame that descended upon her soul in the avalanche of those unknown
words.  "Impertinent," she remembered to have heard somewhere before.
It meant something deadly--but what shameless depths might not be
revealed by "reprehensible"?  And, oh dear, oh dear, she had intended
to be so wise and so grown-up, and be her teacher's right hand.  The
beautiful teacher she loved so!  That was the tragedy of poor
Elizabeth's life, she was always hurting someone she loved.  What a
dreary twist of fate it was that when one's intentions were the best
one was always most--"reprehensible"!  The tears came dripping down
upon the blue pinafore.  She remembered with dismay that she had no
handkerchief.  She had forgotten hers in her hurry, and Mary had said
she might use hers if she needed it.  But she dared not even look in
Mary's direction, knowing there were rows of curious eyes down there
all turned upon her.  So she wiped the tears away on her pinafore, a
proceeding which Aunt Margaret had characterized as positively vulgar,
but Elizabeth knew that in Miss Hillary's opinion of her nothing
mattered any more.

The new teacher finished her interrupted address, and began the regular
work of the school.  Elizabeth was forgotten, and slowly came up from
the depths of despair, mounting on the wings of future glory.  Miss
Hillary would be sorry some day--some day when she, Elizabeth Gordon,
high on her white charger, with her velvet cloak streaming behind, rode
swiftly past the schoolhouse, never glancing in.  Yes, Miss Hillary
might weep and wring her hands and declare she had made an awful
mistake in regard to Lizzie Gordon, but it would be too late.

Vastly encouraged by these dreams, the heroine of them dried her tears,
and sat listening to what was going on about her.  Miss Hillary was
calling each class forward, taking down their names, and testing their
abilities in reading, spelling, and a few other subjects.  The primary
class was on the floor, and Archie was standing, straight and sturdy,
right before his sister.  Elizabeth did not dare raise her head, but
she peeped at her little brother from under her tangle of hair.  She
did hope Archie would lift the name of Gordon from the mire in which
she had dragged it.

Archie was certainly conducting himself manfully.  He spelled every
word the teacher gave him, added like lightning, and read loud and
clear: "Ben has a pen and a hen.  The hen is in the pen.  I see Ben and
the hen and the pen."

Miss Hillary looked pleased, and Archie went up head.  "What is your
name?" she asked kindly, and he responded, "Archie Gordon."  The
teacher glanced towards the culprit on the front seat.  There was a
strong family resemblance amongst all the Gay Gordons, and Elizabeth
fairly swelled with restored self-respect.

The classes filed up, each in its turn, standing in a prim line with
its toes to a chalk-mark Miss Hillary had drawn on the floor.  Nothing
exciting happened until Mary's class was called, and then Elizabeth
turned cold with a new fear.  Just as they reached the chalk-line, only
half a dozen of them, Miss Hillary said: "As this Junior Third is so
small a class, for convenience I believe I shall put the Senior Thirds
with them.  Senior Third class, rise!  Forward!"

Now, Elizabeth was in the Senior Third.  Strangely precocious in some
ways, she was woefully lacking in many branches of school work, and
barely kept a class ahead of Mary.  The fear that Mary would overtake
her was the one thing that spurred her to spasmodic efforts.  And now,
like a bolt from the blue, came the dreadful news.  She and Mary were
to be in the same class!

The Seniors arose and filed reluctantly forward.  Rosie poked Elizabeth
as she passed.  Elizabeth understood Rosie's pokes better than other
people's plainest statement.  This one said: "Isn't this a dreadful
shame?  How shall we ever live it down?"  And then a sudden stubborn
resolution seized Elizabeth, and she sat up straight with crimsoning
cheeks.  She would not go up into Mary's class, no she wouldn't!  The
teacher had said she must sit there until she had learned to be
mannerly.  Well, she would then!  She hadn't learned yet, and she
likely never would.  And she would sit there on that front seat until
she was older than old Granny Johnstone, who spoke only Gaelic and had
no teeth, before she would go up in the same class with Mary!  Mary was
a good speller, and might get ahead of her, and oh, how John and
Charles Stuart and Malcolm and Jean would talk if Mary beat her at
school!  Elizabeth grew hot at the bare thought.

The big class had just arranged itself when one little girl held up her
hand.  It was Katie Price, of course.  Katie always told on everybody,
and was only in the Junior Third herself.  "Please, teacher," said
Katie, "Lizzie Gordon's in the Senior Third."  "Lizzie Gordon?"  The
teacher looked round vaguely.  The swelling list of new names was
puzzling her.  "Where is Lizzie Gordon?"

Elizabeth did not move.  To be forgotten utterly was the best she hoped
for; to be noticed was the worst thing that could happen.  Mary
indicated her sister by a nod, and Miss Hillary grew haughty again.

"Oh," she said, "never mind her at present.  We will let Lizzie Gordon
remain where she is for the rest of the morning."  And on she went with
her work, while Lizzie Gordon, the outcast, too wicked even to be
included in a disgraced class, sat and hung her head in a very
abasement of soul.

She came out of the depths once at a thrilling remark of the teacher.
The double-class crowded and shoved this way and that, and Miss Hillary
said, just as they were about to return to their seats: "There are four
or five too many in this class.  I shall examine the Seniors thoroughly
this afternoon, and shall allow the best four to go into the Junior
Fourth."

Elizabeth fairly jumped off her penitent form.  Her hopes soared to the
highest pinnacle.

She would be one of the four!  She must!  Not only would it mean escape
from Mary, but she would be but one class behind John and Charles
Stuart!  Yes, she would pass in spite of fate.  If only Miss Hillary
would not examine them in arithmetic or spelling or grammar it would be
easy.  She was equally deficient in all three, with a few disgraces in
favor of spelling.  But who knew but she would ask questions in history
or literature!  Or even make them write a composition!  Elizabeth could
not help knowing that in this one last subject at least she far
surpassed her classmates.

Perhaps they would have to write one, and when the new teacher read it
she would say: "Lizzie Gordon, you are too good for the Junior Fourth
even.  You may go into the Senior Fourth with your brother John and
Charles Stuart MacAllister."

Elizabeth fairly ached for some distinction that would reinstate her in
the teacher's good opinion.  She began to build airy castles and grew
positively happy with hope.  She was thankful even for the unkind fate
that had brought her to the front seat, for now Mary would never be
able to say, "Lizzie and I were once in the same class, and she's a
year and four months older than I am."  Noah Clegg had said last Sunday
that people should be thankful for trials, as they often brought
blessing.  Elizabeth devoutly agreed with him.  She closed her eyes and
thought how thankful she should be that she had been snatched as a
brand from Mary's class.  No one could pray in school, of course, and
sitting up straight, that would be very wicked.  But she resolved that
when she said her prayers that night she would add a word of fervent
gratitude for her escape.

The Senior Fourth class was assembling now, the highest in the school.
Elizabeth gazed in longing admiration at John and Charles Stuart.  How
glorious it must be away up there, and preparing for the High School,
too!  Miss Hillary was asking names again, "Sammy Martin, John Gordon."
She paused and smiled.  She had been growing more genial as the morning
advanced and Forest Glen showed no signs of mutiny.

"There seems to be a Martin and a Gordon for every class," she
remarked, and Elizabeth's heart leaped.  Perhaps this was a hint that
instead of two Gordons in the Third class there would be one in the
Junior Fourth.  "Charles Stuart MacAllister" was the next name.  Miss
Hillary smiled again.  "Are you the Pretender?" she asked, and the
Senior Fourth all laughed at Charles Stuart's expense.

"I do not like double names," she added pleasantly.  "They are too
cumbersome."   Elizabeth stored up the word greedily.  "I shall call
you Stuart, as there are four other Charlies here."

When recess was over, so good-humored had Miss Hillary become that she
apparently forgot that Lizzie Gordon was to be taught how to be
mannerly, and sent her to her seat to take part in the examination.
Elizabeth slipped in beside Rosie, breathless with relief.  Rosie had
been preparing her welcome.  She had sharpened the three pieces of the
broken pencil to points fine and delicate as needles, she had piled all
her friend's books in a neat row, and put a pink tissue-paper frill
like her own around her ink-well.  Elizabeth sighed happily.  It was
such a privilege to have a Rosie for one's friend.

Miss Hillary had paused in her work to give a little address on the
proper way to wash one's slate, and to Elizabeth's joy and pride she
held up Rosie as a shining example.  Rosie had a big pickle bottle of
water, and a little sponge tied to her slate by a string.  Everything
about Rosie was always so dainty.  Elizabeth had a slate-rag somewhere,
but someone had always borrowed it when she needed it, so she generally
re-borrowed or used Rosie's sponge.  Elizabeth wished she had been nice
like Rosie and Miss Hillary had commended her.  But somehow she never
had time for scrubbing her desk and decorating it with rows of cards
and frills of colored paper, as Rosie so often did.  There were so many
things to do in school.  She was thankful, however, that she was not
like big, fat Joel Davis across the aisle there, who spat on his slate
and rubbed it with his sleeve.  It was his action, one which Miss
Hillary characterized as disgusting and unsanitary, that had called
forth the little talk.  And she ended up with the announcement that
once a week she would give a short talk on "Manners and Morals."

Elizabeth scented a new word.  "Disgusting" she knew, Aunt Margaret
often used it.  It meant the opposite to genteel.  But "insanitary" was
a discovery.  She tried to store it in her mind, not daring to move her
tightly folded hands towards her slate.  Perhaps it was something like
insanity, and Miss Hillary meant that anyone who didn't use a slate-rag
and water-bottle was crazy.

But the examination was on, and the Senior Thirds, anxious and hopeful,
were soon at work.  Arithmetic came first, and only the anticipation of
better things to come, and the forlorn hope that the problem might
somehow turn out right by chance, kept up Elizabeth's spirits.  There
were three problems, and she could make nothing of them, though she
added, subtracted, divided, and multiplied, and covered her slate with
figures in the hope of achieving something.  She worked in some
statements, too, for Rosie had advised her that written statements
always looked nice, and would probably make the teacher think the
question was well done anyway.  So in the complex problem inquiring how
many men would eat how much salt pork in how many days, Elizabeth set
down carefully:

  If 18 men eat 36 lbs. in 1 day,
  Then 1 men eat 36 lbs. X 18 men.


It might not be right, but it looked well anyway.  Rosie telegraphed
her answer on her fingers, but Elizabeth shut her eyes tight and turned
away.  Not if she were to be put into Archie's class would she stoop to
such methods to gain marks.

Spelling was not much better.  There were ten awful words, all from a
lesson Elizabeth had long ago given up, "Egypt and its Ruins."  There
were "pyramids" and "hieroglyphics," and many others quite as bad, and
when she was through with them they presented an orthographical ruin
which might put any of the fallen temples of Egypt to shame.

But all her trials were forgotten when at the end Miss Hillary
announced a composition on "A Summer Day."  The joy of it drove away
even the remembrance of the eighteen men and their allowance of pork.
Elizabeth seized a sheet of paper, and doubling up over the desk wrote
furiously.

Rosie sighed at the sight of her flying pen.  There was no pleasure for
Rosie in writing essays.  She had already written carefully and slowly,
"A summer day is a beautiful time, summer is a nice season," then she
stopped and enviously watched Elizabeth spattering ink.  That young
poetess was reveling in birds and flowers and rain-showers and walks
through the woods, with the blue sky peeping at one through the green
branches.

She paused only to consult her dictionary.  She was working in the list
of words culled from the morning address.  She would show Miss Hillary
that if she hadn't manners, at least she had forethought.  She was
compelled very reluctantly to discard some of the list, as they failed
to appear in the dictionary under their new arrangement of letters.
She sighed especially over "contumacious"; it was so beautifully long.
But there were plenty of others.  "The flowers do not grow in a
disciplined way," she wrote--the word still innocent of a "c."--"The
birds have high aspirations.  Their deportment is very nice, but it is
not always genteel."  Here Elizabeth had a real inspiration.  A
quotation from Shelley's "Skylark" came into her mind.  John and
Charles Stuart had memorized it one evening, and the glorious rhythm of
it had sung itself into her soul.  There were some things one could not
help learning.  Then, too, as it was from the Fourth Reader, Elizabeth
felt that Miss Hillary would see that she was familiar with that book
and feel assured she was ready for it.  So she wrote such stanzas as
she remembered perfectly, commencing:

  "_Sound of vernal showers
    On the twinkling grass,
  Rain-awakened flowers,
    All that ever was
  Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass._"


There were many misspelled words, but the quotation was aptly inserted,
and she added the note that the skylark was so joyous he often acted in
an insanitary manner.

She was still writing swiftly when Miss Hillary said, "Fold papers."
Elizabeth had barely time to finish her second poetic contribution.  It
was from her own pen this time, one verse of a long poem she had
written in secret evenings, after Mary had gone to sleep:

  "_Oh beautiful summer thou art so fare,
  With thy flours and thy trees that grow everywhere,
  The birds on the bows are singing so gay,
  Oh how I love them on a bright summer's day!_


"P.S.--This pome is original--that is, made up by the author.

    "Lizzie Gordon."


Rosie had finished long ago and had carefully inscribed at the
conclusion of her essay:

  "Rosamond Ellen Carrick,
    Forest Glen,
      Ontario,
        Canada,
          North America,
            Western Hemisphere."

All of which helped to lengthen out her too brief contribution.  She
was now ready to assist her friend in her last hasty scramble.
Elizabeth had no blotting-paper--she never had.  Rosie provided a piece
and the composition was ready at last.  Elizabeth sighed over it.
There were so many clever things she might have put in had she only had
time.  There was "viz.," for instance, instead of "that is," in the
last sentence.  "Viz." sounded so learned.

When the afternoon recess came, Miss Hillary called Elizabeth to her.
She had an essay before her, and she was looking puzzled, and not
nearly so stern.

"Elizabeth," she said gently, "what were you writing on your slate this
morning when I was speaking?"

Elizabeth's head drooped.  In a shamed whisper she confessed that Miss
Hillary's wonderful vocabulary had tempted her.  She dared not look up
and did not see that her teacher's pretty mouth twitched.

"Well," she said in a very pleasant tone, "you did not behave so badly
after all.  But remember, you must always sit still and listen when I
am talking."

Elizabeth's head came up.  Her face was radiant, her gray eyes shone
starlike.

"Oh, Miss Hillary!" she gasped, overcome with gratitude at this giving
back of her self-respect.  Miss Hillary picked up the next essay, and
the little girl turned way.  But she could not leave without one word
of hope.

"Oh, Miss Hillary," she whispered again, "do you think you could let me
pass?  If you'll only not put me in Mary's class, I'll, I'll--I believe
I could learn to spell!" she finally added, as the most extravagant
promise she could possibly make.

Miss Hillary smiled again.  She looked kindly at the small, anxious
figure, the pleading face with its big eyes, the slim, brown hands
twisting nervously the long, heavy braid of brown hair with the golden
strand through it.

"Well, I shall do my best," she said.  "You can certainly write, even
if you can't do arithmetic.  Now run away and play."

And, wild with hope and joy, Elizabeth dashed down the aisle and out of
the door, so noisy and boisterous that for a moment her teacher felt
constrained to call her back and give her another lesson in deportment.
For Miss Hillary did not yet understand.



CHAPTER VII

THE AGE OF CHIVALRY

Many years later there came days in Elizabeth Gordon's life when she
achieved a certain amount of fame, but never at their height did any
day shine so radiantly for her or bring her anything of the exaltation
of that moment when she and Rosie tremblingly took their places side by
side at the foot of the Junior Fourth class.

For a time Elizabeth strove to live up to her lofty position.  The fear
of even yet being sent back to Mary's class, which Miss Hillary held
over her as an incentive to working fractions, drove her to make
desperate efforts even to learn spelling.  Rosie helped her all she
could, and Rosie was a perfect wonder at finding royal roads to
learning.  If you could spell a word over seventeen times without
drawing your breath, she promised, you would be able to repeat it
correctly forever after.  Elizabeth tried this plan with
"hieroglyphics," but reached the end of her breath, purple and gasping,
with only fourteen repetitions to her credit.  She attributed her
failure to spell the word the next day to this, rather than to the fact
that, in her anxiety to accomplish the magic number, she had changed
the arrangement of the letters several times.

But as the days passed, and the danger of being returned to the Third
class disappeared, Elizabeth relaxed her efforts and returned to her
habitual employment of drawing pictures on her slate and weaving about
them rose-colored romances.  Another danger was disappearing, too.
Miss Hillary, finding that Forest Glen School was not hatching
rebellion, gradually became less vigilant, and there was in consequence
much pleasant social intercourse in the schoolroom.

Of course Elizabeth, like the other pupils, found that one could not
always be sure of the teacher.  She might never notice a slate dropped
upon the floor, provided one took care to drop it on a day when she
didn't have a nervous headache.  But on the other hand, if one chose
one's occasion injudiciously, she might send one to stand for half an
hour in the corner, even though one was a big girl, now going on twelve.

But Rosie found the key to this uncertain situation, also.  Rosie's
farm joined the Robertsons', where Miss Hillary boarded, and the small,
observant neighbor discovered a strange connection between her
teacher's headaches and the actions of a certain young gentleman from
town.  She explained it all to Elizabeth one day, behind their slates,
when the complex fraction refused to become simple.

Rosie was very solemn and very important.  Martha Ellen Robertson had
told her big sister Minnie all about it, and Rosie had heard every
word.  Miss Hillary had a fellow, only Elizabeth must promise for dead
sure that she'd never, never tell.  Because, of course, anything about
a fellow was always a dreadful secret.  This young man was very stylish
and very handsome, and he lived in Cheemaun, and, of course, must be
very rich, because everybody was who lived there.  He came out nearly
every Sunday in a top-buggy and took Miss Hillary for a drive.  Minnie
and Martha Ellen both said it was perfectly scand'lus to go driving
Sundays, and the trustees ought to speak to her.  The young man wrote
to Miss Hillary, too, for every Wednesday she went to the post-office,
and Mrs. Clegg said she 'most always got a letter.  But sometimes she
didn't; and the important point for themselves was just here--Rosie
grew very impressive--they had to watch out on Mondays and Thursdays,
if the young man didn't come, or if the letter failed, for then sure
and certain Miss Hillary would go and get a headache and be awful cross
and strict.  Yes, it was true, because Jessie Robertson, and Lottie
Price, and Teenie Johnstone, and all the big girls said so.  And Jessie
Robertson had promised to tell them so they could be careful, and
Lizzie could just look out and see if she wasn't right.

Elizabeth did look out, and found as usual that Rosie was correct.
Rosie was so wonderful and so clever that, though she was only half a
year older than her friend, the latter lived in constant admiration of
her sagacity.  For, as far as worldly wisdom was concerned, Rosie was
many, many years older than the precocious Elizabeth.

The young man of the top-buggy soon became a fruitful source of gossip
in the schoolroom, especially amongst the older girls.  Jessie
Robertson, who lived right at the base of supplies, issued semi-weekly
bulletins as to whether they might expect a headache or not, and Forest
Glen conducted itself accordingly.

So, having settled exactly the periods of danger, and finding that
often Mondays and Thursdays were days of happiness and license, Forest
Glen settled down securely to its intermittent studies.

Elizabeth soon ceased to trouble much even over spelling, and she and
Rosie gave themselves up to the fashion of the hour.  And every hour
had its fashion.  For like most rural schools, amongst the girls at
least, Forest Glen was a place of fads and fancies.

No one ever knew just how or why a new craze arose, but there was
always one on the tapis.  At one time it was pickles.  No one could
hope for any social recognition unless one had a long, green cucumber
pickle in one's dinner-pail--the longer the pickle the higher one's
standing.  Fads ranged all the way from this gastronomic level to the
highly esthetic, where they broke out in a desire for the decorative in
the form of peep-shows.  A peep-show was an arrangement of flowers and
leaves pressed against a piece of glass and framed in colored
tissue-paper.  Every girl had one on her desk; even to dirty, unkempt
Becky Davis.  Elizabeth was not a success at such works of art.  She
was a wonder at inventing new patterns, and gained recognition from
even the big girls by suggesting a design of tiny, scarlet maple
leaves, green moss, and gold thread.  But when it came to construction,
she left that to Rosie and took to drawing new designs on her slate.
No one could compete with Rosie anyway.  She had something new and more
elaborate each morning.

But the craze for peep-shows was superseded early in Miss Hillary's
reign by an entirely new fad, such as had never manifested itself
before in any marked degree in the school.  Miss Hillary, quite
unwittingly, started it herself.

It was a warm, languorous afternoon in October, and time hung as
heavily over the heads of the pupils as the mists hung over the
amethyst hollows and sunny hills of Forest Glen.  It was Thursday and
Miss Hillary was writing at her desk.  Lottie Price, the biggest girl
in school and the most curious and observing, wrote a note to Teenie
Johnstone to say she bet anything the teacher was writing to her
fellow.  Lottie knew, because Miss Hillary often looked straight at you
and didn't see you at all.  That was a sure sign.  In the back seat,
John Gordon and the Pretender, as everyone now called Charles Stuart,
were silently but busily whittling away, constructing part of a
wonderful new kind of ground-hog trap.  Elizabeth had filled one side
of her slate with an elaborate picture of a castle on a hill, a stream,
a lake, a ship, and an endless vista of town and road and church-spire
stretching away into the distance.  She had never heard of that school
of artists that painted the classic landscapes, but she belonged to
them as surely as any of the old Italian masters.  She was now drawing
Mrs. Jarvis in a trained gown standing on the steps of the castle,
while Elizabeth Joan of Arc Jarvis Gordon, blowing a bugle, came riding
down a perpendicular mountain-path on a stiff-legged steed.  Rosie had
just housecleaned her desk for the second time that day.  She had
rubbed all the ink-spots off the top and put a new paper frill around
the ink-well.  She was re-arranging her books once more and had them in
an unsteady pile on the edge of her desk, when Elizabeth leaned over to
her side, to display her finished landscape.  Rosie's arm came against
the toppling pile of books, and they went crashing to the floor.

Miss Hillary looked up.  The two culprits sat up very straight and made
a frantic show of figuring on their slates.  For Jessie had reported no
letter that morning, and who knew what might happen?  The teacher arose
frowning, and Rosie made a desperate dive towards the truant books, but
Miss Hillary stopped her.  Then, to the amazement and relief of the two
tremblers, she began to rebuke, not Rosie, but Joel Davis!  Joel was a
big, sleepy, fat boy who sat opposite the two little girls, and the
books had bounced over towards his seat.  No boy was a gentleman, Miss
Hillary stated, who would allow a lady to pick up anything that had
fallen.  She was grieved, after all the lessons she had given in
manners and morals, to find that one of her pupils could be so lacking
in refinement.  Joel would, therefore, please gather up Rosie Carrick's
books, and put them on her desk, as a gentleman should always do for a
lady.

Joel scratched his shaggy head in perplexity, and gazed sleepily at his
teacher, then at the debris of books and pictures and tissue-paper
squares that littered the floor.  He muttered growlingly that a kid
like Rosie Carrick wasn't no lady anyhow; but he good-naturedly scooped
up an armful of the fallen, and without moving himself unduly reached
them out towards their owner.  The school giggled, poor Rosie blushed,
and in a spasm of embarrassment strove to take them.  Between them the
books once more descended to the floor in an avalanche of gayly-colored
cards and papers.  Rosie stooped for them, so did Joel, and their heads
bumped together.  The young gentleman, now blushing as furiously as the
young lady, grasped the books in a promiscuous heap and slammed them
down upon Rosie's desk with, "There now, butter-fingers."  The school
laughed aloud, and Rosie curled up behind the pile of books and cried
with vexation.  Joel Davis was such a horrid, horrid, dirty, fat boy
that it was just real nasty mean of Miss Hillary to let him pick up her
books, so it was.  Elizabeth, all sympathy, patted her comfortingly,
and twisted one of Rosie's curls round her fingers as she whispered
soothing words.

But Miss Hillary was again talking, and she slid over to her own side
of the seat and gave scared attention.  It was time she gave another
talk upon manners and morals, the teacher declared, and Elizabeth's
heart sank.  She knew she had no manners to speak of, and on Sundays
she was often doubtful of her morals.  And when Miss Hillary gave
semi-monthly lectures on these two troublesome subjects they caused her
acute misery.  But to-day the address was chiefly to the boys.
Evidently it was only the masculine side of the school that was lacking
in manners and morals.  Miss Hillary declared she must strive to
inculcate a spirit of chivalry in them, and teach them the proper
attitude towards girls.

Elizabeth gave a sigh of relief.  This was no concern of hers, except
that she devoutly hoped it might make John and the Pretender stop
pulling hair.  So she gave her attention to softly taking down the
longest words the little lecture contained.  Miss Hillary had gone
sufficiently far on the road of understanding to make this safe.  She
sometimes even glanced approvingly at her disciple's flying fingers
when she uttered a polysyllable of more than usual distinction.  Rosie
came from behind her shelter of books, and, wiping away her tears,
attempted to help Elizabeth.  There was a word that Lizzie had missed,
she cautioned.  Something like "shivering"--a spirit of shivering or
"shivaree."  But Elizabeth, in the midst of "gallantry," shook her
head.  That was just chivalry.  She knew all about that.  It was a
glorious word that took in Ivanhoe, and the ladye that went ower the
border and awa', and Joan of Arc, yes--and Elizabeth herself.  But
there was no use trying to explain it to Rosie, for, though Rosie was
the dearest dear that ever sat with anybody in school, there were many
things that even she did not understand.

Meanwhile, the talk on manners and morals had drawn to a close and
Elizabeth went back to her classic landscape and Rosie to her
house-cleaning.  But the effect of the lecture did not end there.
Hector McQueen, who was the handsomest boy in the school, as well as
the only one who was really well-behaved, gave Rosie Carrick the tin
dipper before he drank himself, at the pump the next day.  Wully
Johnstone's Johnny followed by opening the gate for Sissy Clegg one
morning, which was quite gratuitous, for Sissy always climbed the fence
anyway.  Soon the older boys were vying with each other in acts of
gallantry.  The spirit of chivalry had been awakened and it took effect
in a way the teacher had not anticipated.

For a time Elizabeth was all unconscious of the turn affairs were
taking.  John and Charles Stuart were not the kind who attracted
attention by acts of elaborate politeness, and other boys did not enter
into her world.  So it was a great surprise to her one morning, when
Rosie whispered, as she packed away her latest peep-shows in the desk,
that the girls were not going to make any more; they were going to have
beaux instead.

"Bows?" queried Elizabeth absently, all absorbed in a winding river, a
moat, and a drawbridge.  "Aunt Margaret won't let me have one, I know.
Will they wear them on their hair?"

Rosie dived down behind her slate and her curls shook violently with
convulsive giggles.  Elizabeth had no idea what the joke was, but
laughter was always contagious, and she got behind her slate and
giggled, too; so loud, indeed, that Miss Hillary--it was Monday and the
top-buggy had not come out from Cheemaun--rapped sharply on her desk
and looked very severe.  The giggles subsided immediately, but when a
safe interval had elapsed Rosie explained the nature of the bows, and
another spasm ensued.

"What are they going to have them for?" asked Elizabeth, drying her
eyes on her pinafore.  She could understand one desiring a bow on the
hair, but what would be the function, either useful or ornamental, of
the kind Rosie indicated was hard to understand.

Rosie twisted one of her curls coyly.  "Oh, just because," she
explained.  "All the girls are getting them."

Elizabeth became interested.  "Have you one, Rosie?" she whispered, and
Rosie tossed her curls and giggled, but gave no answer.  Elizabeth
looked puzzled.  Often Rosie seemed so old and wise and far away,
making her feel as if she were Jamie's age.

"How do you get one?" was the next question.

"Oh, my goodness!" giggled Rosie.  Such ignorance did not admit of any
enlightenment.  "They just--come," she explained vaguely.

The Junior Fourth class was being called forward and there was no more
opportunity for explanations.  But, as they passed up the aisle,
Elizabeth noticed Rosie flirt her curls and glance towards Hector
McQueen's seat, and Hector's admiring eyes followed Rosie all the way
to her class.  "Is yours Hector McQueen?" Elizabeth whispered as soon
as they reached their scat again, and Rosie nodded radiantly.
Elizabeth was both proud and pleased.  She did not know much about
boys, apart from John and Malcolm and the Pretender.  All outside this
list were classed in her mind as "other boys," and were an unknown
waste.  But Hector McQueen, everybody knew, was quite the nicest boy in
school.  It was just like Rosie to carry off the prize.

As the days went on, Elizabeth, now fully awake to the fashion of the
hour, noticed that Rosie had been quite right--"all the girls" had
beaux.  Even big, untidy Becky Davis was receiving attentions from Noah
Clegg, Junior.  She furthermore discovered that your beau brought you
apples and butter-nuts to school.  That you trimmed his hat with
colored maple leaves at recess, and always chose him as your partner in
games; that he wrote you notes in school, when Miss Hillary was
answering her Wednesday letter, and you wrote back; and, above all,
that the other girls wrote your name and his side-by-side on a slate,
struck out all the common letters, and over the remainder chanted,
"Friendship, Love, Hatred, Marriage."  If the result on both sides was
satisfactory, there was nothing more to be desired.

Elizabeth noticed all this commotion and felt rather forlorn.
Personally she would have preferred very much not to have a beau.  It
was something quite unnecessary; but then one hated to be different,
and she was the only girl in her class, except Eppie Turner, who was
too shy to speak to a boy, who was in a beauless state.  Rosie, in her
loyalty, felt Elizabeth's undesirable condition and strove to better it.

"I'll tell you, Lizzie," she advised one day.  "You pick out a boy and
I'll cancel your names and then you can have him for your fellow."

Elizabeth looked about her reluctantly.  This was a most distasteful
task.  Yet, when pickles were the fad, though green cucumbers made her
deadly sick, she had always had one in her desk; so surely a beau could
not be worse.  Rosie followed her eyes trying to assist.  "You must
have somebody older than yourself," she admonished, as her chum's eyes
rested fondly on the row of little fellows in Archie's class.
Elizabeth sighed; to have Rosie's little, curly-headed brother Dicky
for one's beau would have been perfectly lovely.  She glanced further
down the aisle.  Rosie indicated those who were "taken."  The rights of
property were strictly observed and there were no flirts in the Forest
Glen School.

Suddenly Rosie exclaimed joyfully: "Why, I know who you'll have,
Lizzie, Charles Stuart MacAllister, of course.  Nobody's took him or
your John, but you couldn't have your brother."  But Elizabeth shook
her head hopelessly.  No, never, never.  She would go down to history
as the only unbeaued girl in Forest Glen School forever and ever before
she would have Charles Stuart.  Why, she had tried him.  Yes, she
really, truly had, long ago last summer.  He'd been her beau for most
nearly an hour.  But it hadn't worked at all.  He had told her she had
green eyes right after she had promised to marry him, and she didn't
like him anyway.  Rosie looked disappointed.  Couldn't she just cancel
their names anyway?  But Elizabeth was obdurate.  No, she couldn't.
Besides there was one boy whom she liked just a teenty, weenty bit, if
Rosie would promise really, truly she'd never, never tell.  Rosie
snuggled up to her joyfully, making wholesale promises that sure
certain, cross her heart, she'd never think of it again.
Well--Elizabeth made her confession hesitatingly--it was--Charlie
Peters.

Rosie drew back with a gasp of dismay and bit her lip.  Now every girl
in Forest Glen School knew that when another girl took her lower lip
between her teeth and looked sideways, girl number one had done or said
something requiring a deadly reproof.  Elizabeth was startled.  "Why
not?" she asked anxiously.

Rosie looked at her helplessly.  Lizzie was so queer about some things.
Poor, dirty Charlie Peters!  What in the world had possessed her?  He
was a quiet, sickly boy, who came from a place away back in the swamp
where his father worked a portable saw-mill.  He was always unkempt and
ragged; his long, straight hair clung round his pale face and his right
sleeve hung empty, his arm having been cut off in the mill when he was
quite little.  Elizabeth could not explain the fascination that poor
Charlie's empty sleeve had for her, nor the great compassion his pale
face and his pitiful efforts to write with his left hand raised in her
heart.  But he aroused far more interest in her mind than all the
"other boys" put together.  Rosie argued the matter, but at last
consented.  A dirty, ragged sweetheart was perhaps after all better
than none.  "Besides it doesn't matter much," she concluded
practically.  "'Cause it's only to tease you about, and cancel your
names."  She added cautiously that Lizzie had better not tell anybody
else, it would be a secret between them, thus loyally saving her friend
from public disgrace.

Elizabeth consented, and Rosie wrote Elizabeth Jarvis Gordon and
Charles Henry Peters on her slate and performed the necessary ceremony.
It turned out quite satisfactorily, and Rosie's next duty was to chant
the usual incantation over the buttons of her friend's pinafore:

  "_Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief,
  Doctor, lawyer, merchant, chief._"


There were just eleven buttons, which brought the ominous result,
"beggar man."  Rosie gave herself up to renewed dismay, but Elizabeth
grew more joyful every moment.  It would be very romantic to marry a
beggar man, and likely poor Charlie would have to be one, seeing he was
so sick and had only one arm.  It would be just like the story in the
_Chronicle_, of the lovely Lady Evelina, who ran away with the
coachman, and he turned out a count!  She accordingly set to work at
her slate, and drew a picture of herself riding up in all her grandeur
of velvet-cloak, armor, and spear to rescue a ragged, one-armed boy
from an enemy's camp.  Elizabeth's instincts were right, the touch of
self-sacrifice she dimly divined was necessary to make an act of
perfect heroism.

For the next few days Rosie lived in distress, lest Elizabeth's
unfortunate love affair became public and both she and her chum be
disgraced.  But, before disaster could descend, Elizabeth's clouded
destiny changed to one of dazzling splendor in the most miraculous way.

One morning there appeared in school, with Noah Clegg, Junior, a new
boy; a wonderfully handsome boy, in a black velvet suit and broad white
collar, altogether such a magnificent creature as had never before been
seen in Forest Glen.

He had not been in school ten minutes before everybody knew all about
him, Hannah Clegg proudly giving the information.  He was from
Cheemaun.  His name was Horace Oliver, and his father was a rich
lumberman.  The Cleggs had supplied Mrs. Oliver with fresh butter and
eggs for years, and Hannah herself had been at their house, which was a
very magnificent mansion on the hill overlooking the lake.  He had a
sister older than himself, whose name was Madeline, and she had four
silk dresses besides dozens of other kinds.  And this Horace had been
sick, so when Hannah's father and mother went into town with the butter
and eggs on Saturday they had brought him back with them to stay on the
farm and drink plenty of milk until he should get strong again.

The new boy was the center of interest during the morning.  The girls
were all admiration, and the Cleggs rose in popular favor, to be the
envied of all the school.  Enthusiasm amongst the boys was much milder.
John Gordon and Charles Stuart MacAllister were scarcely enthusiastic
at all.  John privately informed his friend that any fellow of
twelve--and he must be that if he wasn't thirteen--who would wear a
white collar and velvet rig-up like that to school must be a baa-lamb,
and ought to stay home and sit on his mother's knee.  The Pretender
discovered, to their further disgust, that the stranger could play a
piano.  This innocent accomplishment raised a strange feeling of
irritation in the breast of Charles Stuart.  He mentally resolved to
watch the new boy, and if he showed signs of becoming too popular he
would take him out behind the woodshed and settle him.

But to the school, as a whole, the new boy was all that could be
desired.  Even Miss Hillary shared in the popular adulation and smiled
upon him at every chance.  He was such a nice boy, no teacher could
resist him.  He had evidently been brought up on morals and manners,
for when Miss Hillary dropped her brush he sprang from his seat and
handed it to her before she could stoop for it.

Altogether things went very pleasantly that first day, so pleasantly
that in the afternoon Lottie Price dared to hold up her hand and ask if
they mightn't have a spelling match.  Now no one had ever heard of such
a thing on any day but Friday, and Jessie Robertson and Teenie
Johnstone nudged each other.  Lottie Price was the most disagreeable
girl in Forest Glen School; indeed, all the Prices were noted for their
capacity for making mischief.  Lottie had not spoken to the girls in
her class for three days, and her two chief rivals understood this move
for a spelling match.  Jessie whispered to Teenie that it was just like
Lottie Price.  She was the best speller in the school and wanted to
show off before the new boy.

To the surprise of most, Miss Hillary smilingly granted the request.
Jessie, however, nodded her head significantly.  She wasn't surprised,
not she.  Why, the top-buggy had come early in the morning yesterday
and stayed both to dinner and tea, and she thought it was just horrid
mean of Lottie Price, so she did.  She had done it just because she
knew Jessie couldn't spell.

Meanwhile, the spelling match was being arranged.  Of course, Lottie
was sent as captain to one side, and then Miss Hillary asked would the
school choose a boy for captain on the other side.  A swarm of hands
went up, and almost unanimously the new boy was chosen.

This was indeed a triumph for Lottie, and as the two took their places
she swept a glance of disdain towards a seat where two young ladies sat
gazing with averted faces far out of the window.

Rosie was "mad at" Katie Price, so she also stared in the opposite
direction.  But Elizabeth never had time nor opportunity to quarrel
with anyone, and she gazed at Lottie with frank admiration, and wished
she could spell half so well.  It seemed such a pity that the grand
stranger should find out so soon how stupid she was.  She was always
chosen the very last in a spelling match, except when Mary or Rosie
happened to be a captain and selected her for private reasons.

The captains were in place, and Miss Hillary smilingly nodded to
Lottie.  Since the age of chivalry had dawned, the girl-captain in a
spelling match was always given the first chance to select.  Lottie
hesitated.  She had her beau, but he could not spell, and her bosom
friend, but they had vowed never to speak again so long as they both
should live.  Miss Price was too wise to allow sentiment to injure her
campaign, but too bad-tempered to permit any magnanimity to assist it.
Therefore, she called Hannah Clegg.  No one ever quarreled with the
Cleggs, not even the Prices; they were too good-natured.  Besides,
Hannah was a fair speller.

Miss Hillary nodded approvingly and turned to the boy, who was standing
regarding the sea of strange faces in a puzzled manner.  He had been
relying upon Hannah as first choice.  Miss Hillary came to his aid.
"Now, Horace, you are in a rather difficult position, as you do not
know who are our best spellers.  So you may call up anyone you like who
will help you in your further selection."  The visitor's face
brightened.  He looked right across the school and electrified everyone
by calling out, "Elizabeth Jarvis Gordon."

The owner of the name could not believe her ears.  She had to be poked
twice by Rosie before she finally arose and took her place beside the
velvet boy, overcome with wonder.  It was as though one had suddenly
been called out to be a Joan of Arc without any warning.  Lottie Price
giggled.  Everyone knew Lizzie Gordon couldn't spell c-a-t without a
couple of mistakes, and she saw her victory assured.

But there was one thing Elizabeth could do, and that was name all the
spellers in the room.  Who knew them as well as she, when each one was
a reproach to her?  When the velvet boy's turn came, he looked at her
and she proved a fine support.  Rosie came first, of course, but then
Rosie not only knew every word in the Complete Speller, but was a
Complete Speller herself in curls and a pink pinafore.  John and
Charles Stuart were next.  Elizabeth was devoutly thankful she could
ask them with a clear conscience.  She longed for Susie Martin and
Eppie Turner also, but Susie had had five mistakes yesterday, and Eppie
seven; it wouldn't be fair to the velvet boy.  An exalted position, she
realized, brought heavy responsibilities.  She really made a very fine
campaign, for she had almost all the Senior Fourth girls at her
command, seeing that Lottie disdained to call them.  She whispered
their names to Horace, and as he summoned them to his ranks Lottie's
face grew dark with anticipation of defeat.

At last everyone in the three highest classes was on the floor and the
battle began.  From the first the sullen face of the lady-captain, and
her rapidly thinning ranks, showed upon which side the laurels were
likely to rest.

Of course Elizabeth fell at the second volley, but as she left,
overcome with humiliation, the velvet boy whispered: "Never mind.  It
was a beast of a word."  Further comfort came to her when he himself
went down on the next word and smiled at her sympathetically.  But they
left behind them plenty of veterans to carry on the war, and at last
Lottie was left alone and there still stood on the other side a
splendid array of six, headed by John Gordon.  It was the hour for
closing, and Miss Hillary announced the spelling match won by Horace
Oliver; and Lottie Price almost tossed her head out of the window, the
girls declared, as she passed Jessie and Teenie on her way to her seat.

When school was dismissed, the new boy paused at Elizabeth's seat,
where she and Rosie were putting their books together.

"I remembered your name," he said triumphantly.

"How did you?" asked Elizabeth, amazed.

"Papa told us.  Do you remember my papa?  He was out here one day last
summer with our lawyer.  His name's Mr. Huntley.  Mr. Huntley calls you
'Queen Elizabeth.'"

It was all clear to Elizabeth now.  So that jolly, fat man, who didn't
seem to care whether Eppie and her grandpa kept their farm or not, was
the velvet boy's father; and the nasty man who was trying to take it
from them was his friend.  And, further, this must be the dreadful bad
boy whom Sarah Emily called the "Centipede," and for whom she used to
iron all day, and whose mother was so proud and haughty.  She felt
rather disillusioned.  She wished, too, that he hadn't said "papa."
She was afraid John and Charles Stuart would do something violent if
they heard him.

But when Elizabeth reached home that afternoon, and Mary related all
the day's exciting experiences, to her surprise, her aunt seemed almost
joyful.  She even smoothed Elizabeth's hair, and said she had behaved
very discreetly.  Mrs. Jarvis might hear about her from the little boy,
when she returned, and perhaps something might happen.  Further, she
was sure the little Oliver boy was a gentleman and had a genteel
bringing-up.  Elizabeth looked vastly pleased, but John hung his head
and scowled, and Sarah Emily snorted quite out loud.  When supper was
over, Annie drew Elizabeth away from the others and questioned her.

"Did the Oliver boy say anything about Mr. Huntley--or--or anyone else?"

Elizabeth understood perfectly.  There was a strong tie between these
two since the younger sister had delivered a certain precious note with
such care and discretion.  Elizabeth knew who "anyone else" meant.  No,
the velvet boy had not said anything about other people; but to-morrow
she would ask him.

The velvet boy proved a source of valuable information, being very
willing to talk.  Of course, he knew Mr. Coulson.  He had often seen
him in Mr. Huntley's office; he was fine fun and could tell dandy
stories.  And Mrs. Jarvis, for whom Elizabeth was called, was his
mamma's aunt.  She was ever and ever so rich, and was away in the Old
Country now, just pitching her money around, mamma said; and she might
have taken her and Madeline along.  Aunt Jarvis was very fond of
Madeline, and mamma said she would be sure to leave her and Horace all
her money when she died, though why she couldn't give them a little
more of it now, was something she couldn't understand.

All this information and more, Elizabeth carried home, distributing it
judiciously where it was most appreciated.  She found that any news of
Mrs. Jarvis warded off a scolding, and when a torn pinafore or
unusually untidy hair made her dread her home-coming, she made Horace
walk with her as far as Eppie's bars and gathered from him sufficient
news of the great lady to insure her a welcome from her aunt.

Meantime in school she was living in a new world.  She was wonderfully
popular.  There was no more talk of a poor makeshift for a beau like
Charlie Peters.  All the girls in the school canceled her name with
that of the velvet boy, and Rosie was so proud because Katie Price was
so envious that she fairly hugged Elizabeth for joy.

But the latter was not altogether happy.  Of course it was fine to be
the chosen one of the boy from town, but there were drawbacks.  Horace
was not strong enough to play baseball, and his mamma had forbidden him
to play shinney, so he always stayed with the girls at recess, which
was often very inconvenient when Elizabeth and Rosie wanted to teeter
by themselves or stay indoors and tell secrets.  Then, too, John and
the Pretender teased her unmercifully.  They called her beau "Booby"
Oliver and said he should have been a girl.  She took his part
valiantly, but she did wish he wouldn't say "papa" and "mamma," it made
her ashamed of him.

On the whole, Elizabeth was not sorry when his two-weeks' visit to the
Cleggs' ended and he went back to Cheemaun.  Rosie did not regret his
departure either; he had served his day.  For there was no doubt the
age of chivalry was drawing to a close.  Winter was coming on and the
mantle of squire of dames was slipping off the boys' shoulders.  The
spirit of chivalry did not thrive in the day of snowballs.

The first news of the change in affairs came to Elizabeth, as usual,
through Rosie.  The latter confided to her friend that she didn't
believe she liked Hector McQueen half so well as she used to.  He had
just been horrid mean only that morning.  He had thrown a snowball
right at her.  Of course he didn't hit her, but she was mad at him, so
she was, and if he wrote her a note she just wouldn't answer it, see if
she would.

This was but one indication of the decay of chivalry.  There were many
others, and at last it was swept away altogether in a new fashion that
shortly broke out.  Jessie Robertson's uncle from Vancouver came home,
bringing all the Robertsons presents, Jessie's being an autograph
album.  She brought it to school and each of her friends proudly
inscribed their names therein, attached to verses sentimental or
otherwise.

Within a week every girl in the Fourth Book had an autograph album,
even if it were only one made of foolscap and trimmed with tissue-paper
such as Rosie made for Elizabeth.  It proved far more interesting and
twice as tractable as a beau.  A new era dawned in Forest Glen, an age
of learning, when one racked one's brains to compose a poem for a
friend's book, and the age of chivalry was forgotten.



CHAPTER VIII

A BUDDING ACTRESS

During those golden autumn months, the spirit of chivalry had been
manifesting itself in other parts of Forest Glen beside the schoolroom.
That in which the grown-up part of the community shared centered round
Sandy McLachlan's little clearing.

The lawyers had made a bad mess of poor Sandy's affairs, the country
declared.  He had virtually lost his farm, as far as the law went, and
all because of some technicality regarding the lack of a fence on all
sides, one which the rural mind considered highly absurd.  And not only
that, but the place had been sold to Jake Martin, who had given Sandy
notice to leave early in October.

But the old man was hard to move.  Sure of his rights, and convinced of
the injustice of all legal proceedings, he clung tenaciously to his
little property.  It was not a place anyone need grieve over losing, an
observer might say--a few acres of stumpy, cleared land, an indefinite
piece of forest, and an old log cabin.  But it was Sandy's home--the
only one he had known since he left his father's fisher-hut on the
wind-swept shore of Islay.  And every stone and tree on the rough
little place, and the very birds that sang in the evening from the dark
circle of forest were very dear to the old man's heart.  From the
doorway he could see down the leafy lane to the church and beyond it
into the grassy graveyard with its leaning headstones.  There was one
there, an old moss-grown, wooden slab, once painted white.  It marked
two graves, those of Sandy's wife and his daughter, their only child,
who had been Eppie's mother.

Yes, it was hard to think of leaving it all, and he was fiercely
determined to stay.

His friends did their best to help him.  Mr. Coulson took the liberty
of writing to Mrs. Jarvis, the owner of the property, begging her to
notice Sandy's claim.  But there came no answer, and Mr. Huntley, the
lawyer, laughed at him, saying by the time he had done business with
that lady as long as he had he'd know better.  Mr. MacAllister offered
Sandy work in the mill, with pay commuted the long way.  Noah Clegg
invited both him and Eppie to share his home until such time as he
could look about him for a new place.  For, though the two
Sunday-school superintendents were wont to sit up all night arguing
fiercely on points of doctrine, in the day of affliction all
differences were forgotten.  Jake Martin even loudly declared himself
powerful sorry, but then business was business, and he supposed there
would always be shiftless folk like Sandy in the world who could never
get on.

Wully Johnstone came next.  He strolled over through the woods one
afternoon and casually remarked that that old house of his by the
spring was just fair totterin' for lack of care, and he wished to peace
some obleegin' body would move intil it an' save him all the worry.

But Sandy would accept no man's hospitality, however delicately
offered.  He was proud, even for a Highlander, and not Noah Clegg
himself, who was his closest friend, might extend to him charity.

Besides, as time went on, it would appear that he stood in little need
of it.  When the Jarvis property had been put up for sale, Mr. Martin
had looked with a longing eye upon the Teeter farm, where The Dale
stood.  But Tom's claim had been safely established, and great was his
wrath when he heard of his neighbor's machinations.  Oro's Orator was a
fighter in other beside forensic fields.  He had a true Irish
resentment against the law, and understood that somehow Jake Martin, in
league with the lawyers, had outraged justice; therefore, he, Mr.
Teeter, would ignore the lawyers and settle Jake, see if he wouldn't.
Mr. Martin had voted Tory at the last election anyhow, and was badly in
need of being settled.

So there broke out a war in Forest Glen which raged all autumn.  When
Jake Martin finally appeared at Sandy's door to formally assert his
ownership, Mr. Teeter met him.  He carried an ancient piece of firearms
that had not been loaded since the day, some thirty years before, when
the last bruin of Forest Glen had come ambling up out of Wully
Johnstone's swamp.

Mr. Martin, not knowing how harmful the weapon might be, but being only
too well aware that the man behind the gun was always to be feared,
retired precipitately, and the whole countryside laughed long and loud
over the victory.

He returned to the farm many times, but Tom seemed always to be on
hand.  Finally Mr. Martin declared, after they had come to blows the
second time, that he would have the law.  Mr. Teeter joyfully invited
him to have all he could get of it; but the enemy hesitated.  He knew
his case was not looked upon with favor by his neighbors, and he
dreaded to fly in the face of public opinion.  For a lawsuit, as
everyone in the countryside knew, was held as a disgrace, no matter how
righteous one's case might be.  And besides, the lawyers were apt to
take so much money that a thrifty man like Jake naturally hesitated
before approaching them.

So all autumn he went on making ineffectual efforts to remove the
obstructions from his property, and times were very lively indeed; so
lively that Auntie Jinit McKerracher, who led public opinion, declared
it was clean scand'lus to have such goin's on in a Christian land; and
Granny Teeter wrung her hands and said "Wirra wurra" many times a day
over the Orator's waywardness.

At last, to save his reputation, Mr. Martin compromised.  He would
graciously allow Sandy to remain on his lawful property, he announced,
till springtime.  But, just as soon as the snow was gone, Tom Teeter
had better watch out.  For it was a penitentiary job he'd been at, and
if there was any law in Canada, Mr. Martin was going to have the
benefit of it.

So the countryside settled down for the winter, and as Christmas
approached the Martin-Teeter conflict ceased to occupy the public mind.
Even in the schoolroom it was soon forgotten, and this was a great
relief to Elizabeth.  For, of course, Eppie's trouble could not but
directly affect her.  Elizabeth and Rosie had both stood loyally by
Eppie, declaring it was a dreadful shame the way Jake Martin and the
lawyers acted.  But this loyalty entailed an estrangement from poor,
hard-working Susie; and Elizabeth's tender heart was torn between her
two friends.  She realized that Susie was right in taking her father's
side.  For, of course, one must stand by a father, no matter how bad he
was, she argued.  Elizabeth's position was a difficult one, and she was
vastly relieved when the matter was dropped, and she and Rosie, with
Eppie and Susie as their opponents, played puzzle during school hours
and tag during recess, as of yore.

But all outside affairs of whatever moment would soon have been
forgotten in any case.  Every other interest was speedily swallowed up
in the excitement over the Christmas concert Forest Glen was to have at
the closing of school.

It was Jean Gordon and Wully Johnstone's Bella who imported this newest
fad, bringing it all the way from Cheemaun High School.  They generally
kept Forest Glen posted as to what was the latest school fashion; and
about the beginning of winter it appeared that concerts in which one
took part were necessary to one's intellectual existence.  Forest Glen
at once decided it must have one, and Lottie Price, seeing a chance to
distinguish herself as a reciter, once more took at the flood the tide
that would sweep her on to glory, and boldly proffered a request for
public closing exercises.

Miss Hillary graciously consented.  Indeed, Miss Hillary was in a
gracious mood almost all the time now.  For, since sleighing had come,
a smart, red cutter, the successor of the top-buggy, came out from
Cheemaun with such regularity and frequency that the schoolroom was a
place of peace and idleness.

As soon as preparations for the concert were set on foot, Elizabeth and
Rosie became completely absorbed in them.  The former became so busy
she had scarcely time to draw pictures.  They were both in a dialogue,
and Rosie was to sing a solo besides.  So how could one find time to
worry over vulgar fractions?

The Dale contingent were all honored by being each given a special part
in the performance.  Archie, of course, was too young to participate;
but Mary was to sing "Little drops of water, little grains of sand," in
company with Wully Johnstone's Betty.  John was to give a reading, and
Charles Stuart and Teenie Johnstone were in Elizabeth's dialogue.

The Martins alone were not amongst the artists, and Elizabeth's heart
ached for Susie.  As soon as the dismissal bell rang, and everyone else
ran to his or her allotted corner to be "trained," the poor Martins
sadly made their way to the pegs where hung coats and dinner-pails, and
hurried away home to work.  No wonder they did not succeed at school.
Mr. Coulson had always said the no-play rule of Jake Martin was making
dullards of his children, just when he was over-anxious that they
should be made very sharp and so be great money-makers.

There had been Christmas concerts in Forest Glen before, but never one
like this.  Other times one had to get up one's own programme, but now
the teacher drilled and trained the performers until they became
overwhelmed with the thought of their own importance.  Besides, several
young ladies of the place, Martha Ellen Robertson amongst them, came
down to the school every afternoon and helped, and Elizabeth found an
especial joy in being "trained" by her Sunday-school teacher and noting
her daily change of finery.

Sometimes, as the date of the concert approached, groups would meet in
the evenings for practice, and one night the half-dozen who were in
Elizabeth's dialogue assembled at The Dale.

Miss Gordon would never have consented to such an irregularity as late
hours for her family, but that the occasion served to heal a slight
breach between them and the Wully Johnstones.

Since the first snowfall, her neighbors had been driving their two High
School pupils into Cheemaun, and, of course, had taken Malcolm and Jean
with them.  The Wully Johnstones had not heretofore shown any leanings
towards education, but, since Miss Gordon had set the pace by sending
her nephew and niece to the High School, learning became highly
fashionable about The Dale.  Wully Johnstone declared his boys and
girls were as smart as any Gordons living and they would show the truth
of the same.

Such sturdy young Canadians as these High School pupils were, thought
little of a few miles' walk morning and evening.  But the girls were
developing into lengthening skirts, and Miss Gordon thankfully accepted
the ride through the deep snow for Jean.  Nevertheless, she was
troubled over receiving constant favors from even such good neighbors
as the Johnstones, for she had not yet learned that in the
Scottish-Canadian countryside a horse and vehicle on the highway is
practically common property.

So one evening, when Miss Gordon took tea at Mrs. Johnstone's, she had
politely hinted that she and her brother would like to offer some
remuneration for the kindness shown the children.  Mrs. Johnstone's
hospitable feelings were very badly hurt indeed, but she said nothing,
being a peaceable body.  But her sister-in-law, Mrs. Janet McKerracher,
known all over the neighborhood as "Auntie Jinit," was the real head of
the Johnstone household.  And, being a lady of no little spirit, she
declared, when Miss Gordon had gone, that the mistress of The Dale was
an uppish bit buddie, and it was jist fair scand'lus to treat a neebor
yon fashion.

Miss Gordon was very much grieved when she discovered her lack of tact,
and, seeing a chance to make amends, she relaxed her rigid laws for one
evening and permitted the gathering at The Dale.  And a few evenings
earlier she sent Malcolm with a graciously worded note, asking Mr. and
Mrs. Johnstone and Mrs. McKerracher to accompany the young people.

The invitation was as graciously accepted.  The elder folk came and sat
around the fire and watched the young folk fill the house with noise
and merriment, and the breach was healed.  The MacAllisters were there;
and Miss Hillary and all those from Forest Glen who were taking part
were driven up in the Robertsons' sleigh.

It was like a magic evening out of a fairy tale to Elizabeth.  There
was a roaring fire in both the parlor and dining-room; all doors
between the rooms were opened, giving a spacious effect, and every lamp
and candle in the place was alight.  The big, bare house seemed like
some great festive palace to Elizabeth, and, as she sat on the stairs
watching their guests file in, she felt sure she could realize exactly
how Lady Evelina felt when she stood in her father's banqueting hall
and received a glittering array of lords and dukes and earls.  But
surely no Lady Evelina of song or story ever experienced the rapture
felt by Elizabeth when Rosie came dancing up the steps.

To Miss Gordon the evening proved highly satisfactory.  The atmosphere
of festivity made her feel young again, and the reconciliation with the
Johnstones, common folk though they undoubtedly were, was very grateful
to her warm heart, and above all she was vouchsafed a surprising
revelation.  Elizabeth proved to be the vision revealed.  There was
hope that Elizabeth was not stupid after all.

The dialogue in which she figured was one Martha Ellen Robertson had
chosen from the "Complete Temperance Reciter," and was intended to
inculcate a lesson of a highly moral character, namely, the folly of
marrying a drunkard.  Martha Ellen had indulgently chosen her pet pupil
as heroine.  Elizabeth was a haughty belle who persisted in the face of
all opposition in marrying Charles Stuart, who staggered through the
whole three acts with a big, green catsup bottle in each pocket.  Rosie
Carrick and Teenie Johnstone did their best to dissuade the mistaken
one from her strange infatuation, even setting the good example of
choosing Willie Carrick and Johnny Johnstone, exemplary young men, as
their sweethearts, but all in vain.  The haughty belle would listen to
no one, and at the end of act three, now a weeping drudge, she trailed
off the stage, with the maudlin owner of the catsup bottles staggering
ahead.  Then Rosie and Teenie, holding the hands of their two virtuous
youths, recited in unison a little verse bearing upon the unwisdom of
being a haughty belle and marrying the victim of a catsup bottle.

Though the little scene was well-meant, and held within its simple
story a deep truth, the incongruities of it, chiefly those contributed
by the childish actors, might have made the dialogue extremely
laughable had it not been for the acting of the leading lady.
Elizabeth proved a star from the moment she set foot upon the stage.
She was radiantly happy there.  All unconsciously she had found a
method of complete self-expression that was not forbidden, and the joy
and relief of it lifted her to brilliant success.  She was playing at
something in a legitimate fashion at last; pretending, when it was the
right and proper thing to pretend, with one's father and aunt and
teacher looking on with approval.  It was next best thing to being Joan
of Arc.  From the day of her power, when she haughtily turned away the
virtuous William and the exemplary John, who severally came seeking her
hand, to that of her humiliation, when she knelt before Charles Stuart
and besought him with tears to give up catsup bottles, her whole course
was one of complete triumph.  Teenie Johnstone forgot her lines three
times in watching her, and Charles Stuart said he wished she wouldn't
go at it quite so hard, she made him feel queer all over.  And at the
end of one stormy scene, Rosie ran to her and said: "Oh, Lizzie, it was
awful!  I thought you must be really, truly crying!"  And Elizabeth did
not confess that she had been really and truly crying, and was now
rather ashamed and quite amazed at herself.

Mrs. Wully Johnstone was quite overcome, and Auntie Jinit declared it
jist garred her greet to look at the bairn, she did it jist too well.
And Miss Hillary turned to Miss Gordon and said, "She will make a great
actress some day, perhaps," and Miss Gordon held up her shapely hands
in horror and answered: "An actress!  I'd rather see her in her grave."

Elizabeth noticed that Mother MacAllister was the only one who did not
praise her; she who was always so ready with commendation whenever it
could be truthfully expressed.  So she slipped up to her and whispered,
"Do you like it?" and Mother MacAllister looked rather wistfully at the
crimson cheeks and shining eyes.  She stroked the little girl's hair
gently.  "It would be a very pretty little piece, hinny," she said
softly.  "But you must not be letting yourself get too much excited
over it, little Lizzie.  It'll make you forget your sums."

But otherwise Elizabeth's triumph was complete.  She noticed her aunt's
approving looks, and overheard her saying to Martha Ellen Robertson
that the child really had talent.

But such a condition of affairs could not last long with Elizabeth.  An
atmosphere of approval was not for her to dwell in long.  Her downfall
came speedily.

When the practice was over, they all sat around the room and Miss
Gordon bade Sarah Emily and the two older girls pass the grape cordial
and the Johnny-cake, which were all in readiness.  It was at this
moment that Miss Hillary turned to Mr. Gordon.

"You must be chairman at the concert," she said engagingly.  "It will
be so fitting, as you are secretary-treasurer."

Mr. Gordon, who had been sitting at a table with Mr. MacAllister,
intent on reducing the Long Way, looked up, ran his fingers through his
long hair, and laughed.

"What, what?" he said.  "Me for chairman!  Never, never.  I'd forget
what night it was on.  Thank you very much for the honor, Miss Hillary,
but you can do better than that.  Here's Mr. Johnstone, now, he's just
the man."

Mr. Johnstone spat at great length into the stove damper, to cover his
embarrassment.

"Hut tut, sic like havers!" was all he said, and motioned with his
thumb over his shoulder towards his next-door neighbor.

Mr. MacAllister, just emerged from the depths of the Long Way, looked
at her in a dazed fashion.

"For peety's sake," he said, "can ye no dae better than ask all the
auld buddies in the countryside; an' the place jist swarmin' wi' young
callants.  There's Tom Teeter, now, he'd jump at the chance, only ye'd
hae to gag him atween pieces."

"It's too great a risk to run," laughed Miss Hillary.  She knit her
pretty brows in perplexity.  "Perhaps Mr. Clegg will take pity on me."

"There's yon gay chiel that comes oot frae toon," resumed Mr.
MacAllister slyly.  "Mebby ye'd hae mair influence ower him."

The young schoolmistress blushed and tried not to smile; Sarah Emily
ducked her head into her apron and giggled, and a titter went round the
room.  And then Elizabeth, quite unconscious of any joke, spoke up
eagerly.

"Oh, Miss Hillary, won't you ask that lovely gentleman that comes to
see you to bring Mr. Coulson out and let him be chairman!"

Miss Hillary blushed harder than ever and laughed; so did Annie Gordon
and Martha Ellen Robertson.  Mr. MacAllister laughed, too, and slapped
his knee, and said yon was a fine idea, and all the younger folk
exclaimed in delight.  And so it was promptly settled there and then,
and Elizabeth understood when Annie passed her the Johnny-cake again.

But she did not understand why she was sternly ordered to bed by her
aunt just the moment the company was gone; and wondered drearily why it
was that this one day of triumph should end in tears.

The next morning she found matters no better, for the day had scarcely
begun before Aunt Margaret singled her out to be talked to solemnly on
the sin of being bold and forward, and speaking up when older people
were present.  Elizabeth partially brought the rebuke upon herself.
Remembering only the joys of the night before, she arose early and in
the exuberance of her spirits pulled Mary out of bed and tickled her
until she was seized with a fit of coughing; and Mary's cough was a
serious affair.  Next she visited the boys' room and started a
pillow-fight with John.

The noise brought Miss Gordon from her room.  It was a chill winter
morning, and the lady's temper was not any too sweet.  Elizabeth fled
to her room and began dressing madly.  Her aunt slowly entered, seated
herself on the little bench by the window, and, while her niece dressed
and combed her hair, she gave her a long and aggrieved dissertation
upon genteel conduct for little girls.

"And now," she concluded, as Elizabeth gave way to tears and showed
signs of collapsing upon the bed, "I want you to learn two extra verses
of your psalm before you come down to breakfast.  And I do hope and
trust it may lead you to be a better girl."  She arose with a sigh,
which said her hopes were but feeble and, bidding Mary follow her,
descended the stairs.

When they were gone, Elizabeth got out her Bible, and sat by the frosty
window, looking out drearily at the red morning sunshine.  She wished
with all her might that she had never been born.  Likely she would die
of grief soon anyway, she reflected, and never act in the dialogue
after all.  Yes, she would get sick and go to bed and be in a raging
fever.  And, just like the little girl in her latest Sunday-school
book, who had been so badly used, she would cry out in her ravings that
Aunt Margaret was killing her because she wasn't genteel.

Somewhat solaced by these gloomy reflections, she took the hairpin
Annie had loaned her to pin up a lock of her heavy hair, and began
tracing out pictures on the window-pane.  There was already a magic
tapestry there, woven by the frost-fairies; ferns, and sea-weed and
tropical flowers of fantastic shapes, and wonderful palm branches all
exquisitely intertwined.  To these Elizabeth added the product of her
imagination.  Lords and ladies rode through the sea-weed, and Joan of
Arc stood surrounded by palms.  She had almost forgotten her woes in
their icy beauty, and had quite forgotten the task her aunt had set,
when Annie came flitting into the room.  Annie's step was lighter than
ever and her eyes were radiant.  "Come down to breakfast, Lizzie," she
whispered.  "We're nearly through, and I've saved some toast for you.
Aunt said if you said the verses before school-time it would do."

Elizabeth sprang up joyously, and hand-in-hand the two ran downstairs.

"Annie," said her little sister, gazing up at the glowing countenance,
"you make me think of a girl in a story book.  You look like Lady
Evelina."

Annie laughed.  "Why?" she asked.

"Oh, I don't know.  But I guess it's because your eyes are so shiny.
It says in that story in the _Chronicle_ that Lady Evelina's lover rode
past, and she looked out of her something or other, casement, I think,
but I guess it was just a window, and it says her face flushed like a
wild rose and her eyes shined like twin stars.  Say, what are twin
stars, Annie?"

"Oh, Lizzie," whispered her sister, her face flushing deeper than a
wild rose, "for pity's sake don't let aunt hear you saying things like
that.  You know she doesn't like you to read that continued story."
With which wise counsel, and an appreciative pat of her little sister's
arm, Annie led the way to breakfast.

The night before the concert Elizabeth and Mary could scarcely go to
sleep.  There was another source of insomnia beside the prospect ahead.
They had both cajoled Annie into putting their hair up in curl papers,
because all the girls, even to Becky Davis, were going to do something
new and wonderful with their hair.  So the two victims of fashion slept
in half-wakeful discomfort, until Elizabeth's heavy locks overcame
their bounds and gave her relief and rest.  But there was great
disappointment in the morning, for while Mary's short, flaxen hair
stood out round her head in a very halo of frizzly curls, Elizabeth's
hung heavy, straight, and limp, and had to be braided in the usual old
fashion.

However, she was never prone to think much of her personal appearance,
and merely gave a sigh as Mary stood before the glass looking quite
like a fairy.

"My, but your hair is so nice," said Elizabeth.

"Well," said Mary, as with a smile of satisfaction she surveyed what
was visible of her small self in the little mirror on the wall, "I
suppose I do look awful grand.  But I must try and not think about it,"
she added piously; "aunt says so."

Since the night the practice had been held at The Dale, Miss Gordon,
strange to say, had displayed a growing disinclination to attend the
concert.  And when the evening finally came she decided to remain at
home.  It was only for children, after all, she remarked at the
tea-table, and she and Annie would just stay at home together by the
fire; adding that she didn't suppose even Malcolm and Jean would care
to go to anything so childish.  But even the quiet Malcolm protested
mildly, and his sister did the same vigorously.  Such an expedition as
going from home after dark was too rare to be missed.  "Why, Aunt
Margaret!" she cried, for Miss Jean was an independent young lady, by
virtue of being the cleverest of the family.  "Why, Aunt Margaret, I
never dreamed we'd have to stay home, and I'd just love to go--and
Annie wants to go, too; don't you, Ann?"

One glance at Annie's despairing face was enough to convince anyone
that to miss the concert would be a more bitter disappointment than it
would be even to Elizabeth, who was fidgeting about in her chair, with
scarlet cheeks and shining eyes, scarcely eating anything.  Miss Gordon
glanced at her eldest niece apprehensively, and hesitated.  Then her
brother spoke up.

"Well, well," he said indulgently, "you must just all go.  Archie and
Jamie and I will keep house, and you'll tell us all about it when you
get home."

Miss Gordon was too genteel to oppose her brother publicly, and
accepted the situation with much chagrin.  She determined, however,
that she would keep Miss Annie close to her side all evening.  And
after all, she argued, probably the young man had forgotten all about
her by this time.  It was a way young men had, she reflected, with a
sigh for a dream of her youth to which she never referred.  She sighed
again as she looked at Annie's bright face, and wondered if she had
done wrong in separating these two.  Annie never by the slightest hint
let her know her real feelings.  And herein lay the great misfortune of
Miss Gordon's life.  She loved the girl passionately, and would have
made any sacrifice she felt was for her good, but Annie lived by her
side day after day, and gave her not the smallest confidence.  Her
aunt, in her mistaken worldly ambition, had forever shut between them
the door of true companionship.

They were all ready, in various stages of excitement, when the
MacAllister sleigh came jingling up to the door.  In the winter,
sleighs generally took the sawlog road along the short-cut to Forest
Glen, and the Wully Johnstones had promised to come round that way,
too, and pick up anybody who was left.

To Elizabeth, this driving abroad after nightfall was like taking a
voyage to a new planet.  It was so wonderful and mysterious, this new,
white, moon-lit world.  Away in the vast blue dome the stars smiled
faintly, outshone by the glory of the big, round moon that rode high
above the black tree-tops.  The billowing drifts along the road blazed
under a veil of diamonds, and the strip of ice on the pond, where
Elizabeth and John had swept away the snow for a slide, shone like
polished silver.  The fields melted away gray and mysterious into the
darkness of the woods.  Here and there a light twinkled from the
farm-houses of the valley.  The sleigh-bells jingled merrily, and the
company joined their own joyous notes to them and sang the songs that
were to be given at the concert.  The woods rang with their gay voices
as they passed old Sandy McLachlan's place.  Sandy still held
possession, and was looking forward hopefully to some providential
interference in the springtime.

The old man and Eppie were plunging down the snowy lane.  The horses
were pulled up and they were hauled joyously aboard; and in a few
minutes the happy sleighload dashed up to the schoolhouse, which stood
there looking twice its usual size and importance, with the light
blazing from every window.



CHAPTER IX

THE FAIRY GOD-MOTHER ARRIVES

They found the schoolhouse already rapidly filling.  To Elizabeth, the
little room presented a scene of dazzling splendor.  The place was
indeed transformed.  It was decorated with festoons of evergreens and
wreaths of paper flowers; and lamps twinkled from every window-sill.
Across the platform was stretched a white curtain, constructed from
Mrs. Robertson's and Mrs. Clegg's sheets, while from behind this magic
screen--hiding one could not guess what wonders--shone all the lanterns
owned by the population of Forest Glen, and across its glowing surface
flitted gigantic shadows.

Martha Ellen Robertson, in a brilliant pink satin waist, and all her
jewelry; and Miss Hillary in a new white dress, were already hurrying
up and down the aisle marshaling their forces.  As the artists appeared
they arranged them on the row of improvised benches at the front,
charging them to sit there quietly until their turn came for stepping
behind the magic curtain.

Elizabeth and Rosie found each other immediately, and sat close
together on the very front row.  Rosie was a perfect vision in a white
dress, with a string of beads around her neck and her curls tied up by
a broad pink ribbon.  Elizabeth, in her Sunday pinafore, starched a
little stiffer than usual, gazed at her in boundless admiration.  She
had supposed, before leaving home, that Mary would be the most
beautiful creature present; but Mary's pale flaxen curls and colorless
pinafore were lost in the gorgeous display on all sides.  Katie and
Lottie Price were the grandest.  They fairly bristled with ribbons and
lace; but indeed all the girls were so gayly dressed that the Gordons
looked like little gray sparrows in a flock of birds of Paradise.  Mary
sighed and looked around miserably at the gay throng; but little did
Elizabeth care.  She sat on the front bench, with Rosie on one side and
Eppie on the other, and rapturously swung her feet and laughed and
talked, all oblivious of her dun-colored clothes.  It was quite
impossible not to be wildly happy at such a grand festive gathering.
The schoolroom seemed some wonderful place she had never seen before.
The middle section of the sheets was drawn back, displaying the
platform with the teacher's desk and the blackboard, all fairly
smothered in cedar and balsam boughs and tissue-paper roses, and
smelling as sweet as the swamp behind the school.  It was such a bower
of beauty that Elizabeth could scarcely believe she had stood there
only yesterday, striving desperately to make a complex fraction turn
simple.

The crowd was steadily gathering, and the noise steadily increasing.
Right at the back a group of boys were bunched together, laughing,
talking, and whistling.  Elizabeth was ashamed to see that John and
Charles Stuart were amongst those whom Miss Hillary was vainly striving
to bring up to the performers' seats of honor.

In the midst of the pleasant hum and stir there arose a commotion near
the door.  A group of strangers was entering.  At the sight of them,
Miss Hillary plunged behind the curtains, and Rosie and Elizabeth could
see her through a division in the sheets, anxiously arranging her hair
before the little mirror.  Then the wise old Rosie nodded her head
significantly, and standing up, peered between the rows of people's
heads.  "I knew it was him!" she cried triumphantly.  "I knew just by
the way Miss Hillary jumped,"--and so it was--the owner of the red
cutter!  Then Elizabeth, forgetting her aunt's eye, jumped up too, and
almost cried out with joy, for the man with him, the tall one with the
handsome fur collar and cap, was none other than Mr. Coulson!  There
were two ladies with him, too--but she did not notice them in her
delight.  He was recognized at once by his old pupils, and they all set
up a storm of clapping.  The older people, gathered around the stove,
crowded about him, shaking his hand and clapping him on the back.  Then
the Red Cutter came with him up to the curtains and introduced him to
Miss Hillary.  And all the other young ladies who were helping in the
concert shook hands with the old teacher, and Martha Ellen laughed and
talked so loud that Elizabeth was delighted and wondered what had
pleased her so.  Next, Mr. Coulson spied the row of little girls gazing
up at him with eager eyes, and he pulled Rosie's curls and Elizabeth's
braid, and kissed Mary and pinched Katie and patted all the others on
the head.  Then he boxed the boys' ears, and told Miss Hillary they
were a bad lot, and he didn't see how she put up with them, and
altogether behaved so funnily that they fairly shouted with delight.
Suddenly he turned abruptly, and, marching up to the platform, took his
place at the desk.

Elizabeth was greatly disappointed.  She had expected he would at least
shake hands with Annie.  She curled round Rosie and peeped through the
rows of people to catch a sight of her sister.  Annie, strange to say,
did not look in the least disappointed.  She was laughing and chatting
with Jean and Bella Johnstone, and looking just as gay and happy as
possible.  Elizabeth gave up the problem.  It was really no use trying
to understand the queer ways of grown-up folks.

Mr. Coulson stood up to make his chairman's speech and to tell them he
was very glad to come back to Forest Glen.  Elizabeth thought his
address was wonderfully clever, her partial eyes failing to notice that
he was big and awkward, that he did not know what to do with his hands,
and that he was more than usually nervous.  There was another pair of
eyes, besides Elizabeth's, that, when they dared lift themselves,
looked upon his blundering performance with tender pride.  But Miss
Gordon gazed at him coldly, thanking herself that she had put an end to
all nonsense between him and Annie before it was too late.  The
grandson of a tavern-keeper, though he might rise to have good morals,
could never reach the height of genteel manners.

At last the chairman's halting remarks were concluded, and the
programme fairly started.  First came a chorus by all the girls of the
school, and such of the boys as could be coaxed or driven to the
platform; the masculine portion of the artists having suddenly
developed an overwhelming modesty.  But the girls were all eager to
perform; and they sang "Flow gently, sweet Afton" with great vigor,
and, as Mr. Coulson said afterwards, "just like the robins in
springtime."

As they burst into the second verse, Elizabeth, who stood directly
behind Mary, and had to view the audience through the halo, was
surprised to see a boy down near the stove making vigorous signs to
attract her attention.  She stared in amazement, and almost stopped
singing.  It was Horace!  There he was in a brand new velvet suit,
smiling at her with the greatest glee, and pointing her out to his
companions.  He sat between two ladies, the very two Elizabeth had seen
enter with Mr. Coulson.  One was a tall, thin lady in a sealskin coat,
probably Horace's mamma, as he called her.  The other lady was very
stout and wonderfully dressed.  Elizabeth could scarcely see her face
for the enormous plumed hat she wore.  She seemed to be a very grand
lady, indeed, for, every time she moved, jewels glittered on her hat or
at her throat.

Elizabeth quite forgot the words of the song watching her, and was
absently singing:

  "_There oft as mild evening weeps over the Tea,
  There daily I wander as noon rises high,_"

when Rosie poked her back to consciousness.

When they had come down from the platform and the stir of preparation
for the next number was going on behind the billowing sheets, Elizabeth
felt herself pulled vigorously from behind.  She whirled about; Horace
was beside her, all smiles.

"Hello," he cried cordially.  "Say, you sang just jolly, Lizzie."

"Hello!" responded Elizabeth, forgetting in her delight that this was
not a genteel salutation.  "I'm awful glad to see you, Horace."  This
was quite true; since he did not appear in the role of beau any more,
she was genuinely pleased at the sight of her old playmate.  Rosie
expressed the same sentiment rapturously.  Susie and Katie followed,
and even Eppie faltered out some words of welcome.

"How did you come to be here?" Elizabeth asked.

"Mr. Coulson told me there was a concert, and I just coaxed mamma to
let me come until she was nearly crazy and just had to let me.  I can
manage her all right.  Papa's different, though.  He wouldn't let me
come with Mr. Coulson alone, and I wanted to!"  His handsome face
curled up in a pout.  "They always tag round after me as if I was a
kid.  But Mr. Coulson fixed it up.  Say, he's a dandy.  He came over
and coaxed papa to let me come, and he got Aunt Jarvis to come, too.
That's Aunt Jarvis next the stove.  She likes Mr. Coulson awful well
and said she'd come to oblige him, and then mamma said she'd come, too.
Madeline intended to come, too, but she was going to a party.  She goes
to one 'most every night.  I wish I could, but I always get sick.  Say,
Lizzie, I've got a new dog, and I hitch him to my sleigh, and oh, say,
he's the dandiest fun----"

But Elizabeth was not listening.  She was too much overcome by the
wonderful news.  Mrs. Jarvis, the fairy god-mother, who had always
seemed unreal, was really and truly there in the flesh!  She could
scarcely believe it.

Horace, finding his audience inattentive, moved away, chatting volubly
to all his old friends, and the next moment Jean came crushing her way
through the crowd to Elizabeth's side, her eyes shining with excitement.

"Lizzie, aunt sent me to tell you to do your very, very best.  Mrs.
Jarvis is really and truly down there," she whispered excitedly.  "And
she says to be sure and smooth your hair just before your dialogue, and
don't for the world let your boot laces come untied.  And when it's all
over, aunt says you're to come down with her and be introduced."

Elizabeth did not hear a word of her sister's admonitions.  She
realized only that Mrs. Jarvis was there to watch her act in a
dialogue!  Her heart stood still at the thought, and then went on again
madly.

Meanwhile, Mary had spread the news of the town visitors, and all the
girls were in a flutter.

"It's too bad," Katie Price whispered to Rosie, "that Lizzie Gordon's
got that awful lookin' pinny on.  Mrs. Jarvis 'll be ashamed of her.
And her hair ain't curled even."

"She can beat anybody in the school at speakin' a dialogue, anyhow,"
declared Rosie loyally.  "And Martha Ellen's goin' to dress her up in
long clothes anyway, so it don't matter."

The concert was going steadily on, each performer showing signs of the
epidemic of excitement that the arrival of the town visitors had
produced.  Lottie Price stopped short three times in reciting "Curfew
must not ring to-night," and had to be helped from behind the sheets by
Miss Hillary.  No one felt very sorry, for, as Teenie Robertson said,
"Lottie Price was just showing off, anyhow, and it served her right."
But everyone else seemed to go wrong from the moment the strangers were
announced, and to Elizabeth's dismay even poor Rosie did not escape.

The programme partook largely of a temperance sentiment, and Rosie's
song was "Father, dear father, come home with me now," a selection
which at the practices had almost moved the spectators to tears.  Joel
Davis, because he was the biggest boy in the school, and hadn't
anything to do but sit still, acted the part of Rosie's father.  He sat
at a table with three or four companions, all arrayed in rags, and
drank cold tea from a vinegar jar.  Rosie came in, and taking Joel by
the sleeve, sang:

  "_Father, dear father, come home with me now,
  The clock in the steeple strikes one,
  You said you were coming right home from the shop,
  As soon as your day's work was done._"


Then from behind the curtain some of the bigger girls, led by Martha
Ellen Robertson, sang softly:

  "_Come home, come home,
  Please, father, dear father, come home._"


Rosie sang another verse at two o'clock, and still another at three,
singing the hands right round to twelve, and still the obdurate Joel
sat immovable and still drank tea.

It had been considered, even by Miss Hillary, one of the best pieces on
the programme, and Elizabeth was almost as excited over it as she was
over her dialogue.  And to-night Rosie looked so beautiful in her white
dress and pink bow that Elizabeth felt sure Mrs. Jarvis would think her
the sweetest, dearest girl in the whole wide world.

But what was the dismay of all the singer's friends, and the rage and
humiliation of the singer's mother, when she emerged from Miss
Hillary's hands and stood before the audience!  All her glory of sash
and beads and frills was swallowed up in Mrs. Robertson's shawl--the
old, ragged "Paisley" she wore only when she went to milk the cows or
feed the chickens!  Miss Hillary had even taken the pink ribbon out of
the poor little singer's curls; and Rosie confided to Elizabeth
afterwards, with sobs, she had actually bidden her take off her boots
and stockings and go barefoot!  Rosie had been almost overwhelmed by
this stripping of her ornaments, but she found spirit enough remaining
to rebel at this last sacrifice.  And, as Elizabeth indignantly
declared, even a worm would turn at being commanded to take off its
boots, when they were a brand new copper-toed pair with a lovely loud
squeak!  But even the copper toes were concealed by the trailing ends
of Mrs. Robertson's barnyard shawl, and the poor little worm was none
the better for her turning.

The song was a melancholy failure.  Rosie sang in such a dismayed,
quavering voice that no one could hear her, and everyone was relieved
when she finally broke down and had to leave before the clock in the
steeple had a chance to strike more than ten.

Rosie's mother had sat through the pitiful performance, fairly boiling
over with indignation, and as soon as the Paisley shawl, heaving with
sobs, had disappeared behind the sheets, she followed it and "had it
out" violently with Miss Hillary.  Wasn't her girl as good as anybody
else's girl, was what she wanted to know, that she had to be dressed up
like a tinker's youngster before all those people from town?  Miss
Hillary tried to explain that the play's the thing, and the artist must
make sacrifices to her art, but all in vain.  Mrs. Carrick took Rosie
away weeping, before the concert was over, and Miss Hillary sat down
behind the sheets and cried until the Red Cutter had to come up and
make her stop.

One disaster was followed by another.  Elizabeth suffered even more
agony in the next number, for this was a reading by John.  Why he
should have been chosen for an elocutionary performance no one could
divine, except that he flatly refused to do anything else in public,
and his teacher was determined he should do something.  With
Elizabeth's help, John had faithfully practiced in the privacy of his
room, but had never once got through his selection without breaking
down with laughter.  It was certainly the funniest story in the world,
Elizabeth was sure--so funny they had not submitted it to Aunt
Margaret.  It was about a monkey named Daniel that had been trained to
wait upon his master's table, and Elizabeth would dance about and
scream over the most comical passages, and had been of little
assistance to her brother in his efforts at self-control.

At first the elocutionist did fairly well, reading straight ahead in
his low monotone, and, hoping all would be well, Elizabeth ceased to
squirm and twist her braid.  But as John approached the funniest part,
he forgot even the elegant strangers.  Daniel grew more enchanting
every moment; grew irresistible at last, and the droning voice of his
exponent stopped short--lost in a spasm of silent laughter.  He
recovered, read a little further, and collapsed again.  Once more he
started, his face twisted in agony, his voice husky, but again he fell
before the side-splitting antics of Daniel.

The audience had not caught any of the monkey's jokes as yet, but they
fully appreciated the joke of the performance; and as the elocutionist
labored on, striving desperately to overcome his laughter and always
being overcome by it, the schoolhouse fairly rocked with merriment.
Elizabeth, who had begun to fear no one would hear all Daniel's
accomplishments, was greatly relieved, and laughed louder than anyone
else.  John was enjoying himself, and the audience was enjoying itself,
and she was so proud of him and so glad everyone was having such a good
time!

But, as the reader finally choked completely and had to retire amidst
thunderous applause before Daniel's last escapade was finished, she was
brought to a realization of the real state of affairs by glancing back
at her aunt.  Miss Gordon was sitting up very straight, with crimson
checks, and an air of awful dignity which Elizabeth's dismayed senses
told her belonged only to occasions of terrible calamity.  Annie, too,
was looking very much distressed, and Jean and Malcolm wore expressions
of anger and disgust.  Elizabeth's heart sank.  Evidently John had
disgraced the family, poor John, and she thought he had made such a
hit!  This was awful!  First Rosie and then John!  There came over her
a chill of terror, a premonition of disaster.  When those two stars had
fallen from the firmament, how could she expect to shine with Mrs.
Jarvis sitting there in front of her?

Had she guessed how much her aunt was depending upon her, she would
have been even more terrified.  Miss Gordon was keenly alive to the
fact that this evening might make or mar Elizabeth's fortune.  Mrs.
Jarvis had from time to time recognized her namesake by a birthday gift
and had often intimated that she should like to see the little girl.
Miss Gordon had dreams of her adopting Elizabeth, and making the whole
family rich.  And now she was to see the child for the first time, and
under favorable auspices.  Elizabeth certainly showed talent in her
acting.  The others were like wooden images in comparison to her.

As the curtains were drawn back for the dialogue in which she figured,
Miss Gordon drew a great breath.  If Mrs. Jarvis didn't feel that she
must give that child an education after seeing how she could perform,
then all the stories of that lady's generosity, which she had heard,
must be untrue.

But, alas, for any hopes centered upon Elizabeth!  Miss Gordon told
herself bitterly, when the dialogue was over, that she might have known
better.  The vivacious actress, who had thrown herself into her part at
home, making it seem real, came stumbling out upon the little stage,
hampered by Annie's long skirts, and mumbled over her lines in a tone
inaudible beyond the front row of seats.  Poor Elizabeth, the honor of
performing before Mrs. Jarvis had been too much for her.  She did her
part as badly as it was possible to do it, growing more scared and
white each moment, and finally forgetting it altogether.  Miss Gordon
hung her proud head, and Mrs. Oliver exclaimed quite audibly, "Dear me,
how did that poor child ever come to be chosen to take part?"

Elizabeth had not awakened from her stage-struck condition when the
concert was over, and her aunt, with set face, came to straighten her
pinafore, smooth her hair, and get her ready for presentation to the
ladies from town.

Many, many times had Elizabeth pictured this meeting, each time
planning with greater elaboration the part she should act.  But when at
last she stood before the lady in the sealskin coat, realizing only
what a miserable failure she had been, she could think of not one of
the clever speeches she had prepared, but hung her head in a most
ungenteel manner and said nothing.

Her aunt's voice sounded like a forlorn hope as she presented her.

"This is your namesake, Mrs. Jarvis," she said.

Mrs. Jarvis was a tall, stately lady, with a sallow, discontented face.
Her melancholy, dark eyes had a kindly light in them, however, and
occasionally her face was lit up with a pleasant smile.  She was richly
but quietly dressed, and in every way perfectly met Miss Gordon's
ideal.  Her companion was something of a shock, however.  Mrs. Oliver
was stout and red-faced, and was dressed to play the part of twenty
when Manager Time had cast her for approaching fifty.  Miss Gordon
would have pronounced any other woman, with such an appearance and a
less illustrious relative, not only ungenteel but quite common, and the
sort of person Lady Gordon would never have recognized on the streets
of Edinburgh.

But Mrs. Jarvis was Mrs. Jarvis, and whoever was related to her must
surely be above the ordinary in spite of appearances.

Mrs. Jarvis was looking down at Elizabeth with a smile illuminating her
sad face.  "So this is the little baby with the big eyes my dear
husband used to talk so much about."  She heaved a great sigh.  "Ah,
Miss Gordon, you cannot understand what a lonely life I have led since
my dear husband was taken from me."

Miss Gordon expressed warm sympathy.  She was a little surprised at the
expression of grief, nevertheless, for she had always understood that,
as far as the companionship of her husband went, Mrs. Jarvis had always
led a lonely life.

"Mr. Jarvis was always very much interested in Elizabeth," she said
diplomatically.  "I understand it was he who named her."

"She doesn't seem to have inherited your talent for the stage, Aunt
Jarvis," said the stout lady, laughing.  "Horace, did you hear me
telling you to put on your overcoat?  We must go at once."

Miss Gordon looked alarmed.  It would be fatal if they left without
some further word.

"I am sure Elizabeth would like to express her pleasure at meeting you,
Mrs. Jarvis," she said, suggestively.  "She has been wanting an
opportunity to thank you for your many kind remembrances."

She glanced down at her niece, and Elizabeth realized with agony that
this was the signal for her to speak.  She thought desperately, but not
a gleam of one of those stately speeches she had prepared showed
itself.  She was on the verge of disgracing her aunt again when Mrs.
Oliver mercifully interposed.

"Aunt Jarvis," she cried sharply, "we really must be going.  The horses
are ready.  Come, Horace, put on your overcoat this instant, sir."

But Master Horace was not to be ordered about by a mere mother.  He
jerked himself away from her and caught his aunt's hand.

"Aunt Jarvis," he said in a wheedling tone, "we're coming out here to
visit Lizzie's place some day, ain't we?  You promised now, don't you
remember?"

Mrs. Jarvis patted his hand.

"Well, I believe I did, boy," she said, "and we'll come some day," she
added graciously, "provided the owners of The Dale would like to have
us."

Miss Gordon hastened to reply.  "The owners of The Dale."  That sounded
like the reprieve of a sentence.  "Indeed we should all be very much
pleased," she said, striving to hide her excitement.  "Just tell me
when it would be most convenient for you to come.  You see, since
leaving my old associations in Edinburgh, I have dropped all social
duties.  You can understand, of course, that one in my position would
be quite without congenial companionship in a rural community.  So I
shall look forward to your visit with much pleasure."

Mrs. Jarvis appeared visibly impressed.  Evidently Miss Gordon was not
of common clay.  "Now let me see," she said, "perhaps Horace and I
might drive out."

"I don't see how you can possibly find time, Aunt Jarvis," cried Mrs.
Oliver, who was forcing her unwilling son into his overcoat.  "We have
engagements for three months ahead, I am sure!"

Miss Gordon drew herself up rigidly.  She had heard enough of Horace's
artless chatter the summer before, to understand his mother's jealousy.
Mrs. Oliver lived in a panic of fear lest the money that should be her
children's might stray elsewhere.

There was further enlightenment waiting.  Mrs. Jarvis deliberately
turned her back upon her niece.

"You are so kind," she said to Miss Gordon with elaborate emphasis,
"and indeed I shall be exceedingly glad to accept.  Horace and I shall
come, you may be sure, provided he has not too many engagements; and
then," her words became more emphatic and distinct, "we shall have more
opportunity to discuss what is to be done with little Elizabeth."  She
turned to where her namesake was standing, her kindly smile
illuminating her face.

"What do you want most in the world, little Elizabeth?" she asked
alluringly.

Miss Gordon held her breath.  This surpassed even her brightest dreams!

"Elizabeth," she said, her voice trembling.  "Do you hear what Mrs.
Jarvis is asking you?"

Yes, Elizabeth had heard, and was looking up with shining eyes, her
answer ready.  But as usual she was busy exercising that special talent
she possessed for doing the unexpected.

She had been glancing about her for some means of escape from her
embarrassing position, when she had espied Eppie.  The little girl,
muffled in her grandfather's old tartan plaid, for the cold drive
homeward, was slipping past, glancing wistfully at Elizabeth, the
center of the grand group from town.  Elizabeth instantly forgot her
own troubles in a sudden impulse to do Eppie a good turn.  This was an
opportunity not to be lost.  She caught her little friend by the hand
and drew her near.

"Oh, Mrs. Jarvis!" she cried, grown quite eloquent now that she had
found a subject so near her heart, "I'd rather have Eppie stay on the
farm than anything else in the wide, wide world!"

"Elizabeth!" cried her aunt in dismay, "what are you saying?"

Mrs. Jarvis looked down with a puzzled expression at the quaint little
figure wrapped in the old plaid.  But she smiled in a very kindly way.

"What is she talking about?" she inquired.

Elizabeth hung her head, speechless again.  She had been importuned to
speak only a moment before, but, now that she had found her tongue,
apparently she had made a wrong use of it.

Horace came to the rescue.  He spoke just whenever he pleased, and he
knew all about this matter.  He had not been Elizabeth's and Rosie's
chum for two weeks without hearing much of poor Eppie's wrongs.

"That's Eppie, auntie, Eppie Turner, and that's her grandpa over
there," he explained, nodding to where old Sandy stood with a group of
men.  "Mr. Huntley sold his farm, and he won't leave it."

Mrs. Jarvis glanced at the bent figure of the old Highlander, and then
at the shy face of his little granddaughter; those two whose lives
could be made or marred by a word from her.  But this was not the sort
of charity that appealed to Mrs. Jarvis.  It meant interfering in
business affairs and endless trouble with lawyers.  She remembered that
romantic young Mr. Coulson had bothered her about either this or some
affair like it not so long ago.

"Horace, my dear," she said wearily, "don't you know by this time that
the very mention of lawyers and all their business gives your poor
auntie a headache?"  She patted Eppie's cheek with her gloved fingers.
"A sweet little face," she murmured.  "Good-by, Miss Gordon.  I shall
see you and your charming family very soon, I hope."

She shook hands most cordially, but Miss Gordon was scarcely able to
hide her chagrin.  Elizabeth had let the great chance of her life slip
through her fingers!  The good-bys were said, even Mrs. Oliver, now
that her aunt had for the moment escaped temptation, bidding the lady
of The Dale a gracious farewell.

And not until Miss Gordon had collected her family and was seated in
Wully Johnstone's sleigh, ready for the homeward drive, did she
remember that in her anxiety over Elizabeth she had not once within the
last dangerous half-hour given a glance towards Annie!



CHAPTER X

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

For the remainder of the winter, Elizabeth lived under the shadow of
Mrs. Jarvis's expected visit.  And though she was supposed to be the
one who should benefit chiefly from it, a shadow it indeed proved.  Did
she tear her pinafore, burst through the toes of her boots, run, leap,
scream, or do any one of the many ungenteel things she was so prone to
do, the stern question faced her: What did she suppose Mrs. Jarvis
would think of a big girl, going on twelve, who could conduct herself
in such a shocking manner?  Elizabeth mourned over her shortcomings,
and longed to be proper and genteel.  At the same time, while she
condemned herself for the traitorous thought, she had almost come to
look upon the expected visit as a not altogether unmixed blessing.  For
the Mrs. Jarvis of reality was not the glorious creature of Elizabeth's
dreams.  Her queens were one by one abdicating their thrones.  The
beautiful teacher was steadily growing less worshipful, in spite of
much incense burned before her, and now even the fairy god-mother was
proving but mortal.  She had laid aside her golden scepter at that
moment when, with perfect faith, her namesake had looked up to her as
to a goddess and asked for a blessing upon Eppie.  But as yet
Elizabeth's soul refused to acknowledge the loss of either idol; and
she lived in a state of excitement and worry over the impending visit.

At school she escaped from the thraldom of being the lady's namesake,
for Miss Hillary of course made no allusion to the fatal name of
Jarvis, and the Red Cutter averted nearly all other troubles.  So, in
the reaction from home restrictions, Elizabeth gave herself up almost
entirely to drawing pictures and weaving romances.  For Joan of Arc
never disappointed one.  She was always great and glorious, being
composed entirely of such stuff as dreams are made of, and Elizabeth
turned to her from fallible mortals with much joy and comfort.

But Mary's reports of school-life always showed the dreamer at the foot
of her class, and Miss Gordon grew apprehensive.  Mrs. Jarvis might
arrive any day, ready to repeat the glorious offer she had already made
to that improvident child.  But if she found her dull and far behind
her classmates, how could she be expected to offer anything in the way
of higher education?

"Elizabeth," her aunt said one evening as the family were gathered
about the dining-room table, all absorbed in their lessons, except the
troublesome one, "I do wish you had some of Jean's ambition.  Now,
don't you wish you could pass the entrance next summer with John and
Charles Stuart?"

Elizabeth glanced across the table at those two working decimals, with
their heads close together.  Mr. MacAllister had come over to get
advice on the Long Way, and had brought his son with him.

"Oh, my, but wouldn't I love to!" she gasped.

"Then why don't you make an effort to overtake them?  I am sure you
could if you applied yourself."

"But I'm only in the Junior Fourth yet, aunt, and besides I haven't got
a--something Jean told me about.  What is it I haven't got, Jean?"

Jean, in company with Malcolm, was absorbed in a problem in geometry.

"I don't think you've got any common sense, Lizzie Gordon, or you
wouldn't interrupt," she said sharply.

"I mean," persisted Elizabeth, who never quite understood her smart
sister, "I mean what is it I haven't got that makes me always get the
wrong answer to sums?"

"Oh!  A mathematical head, I suppose.  There, Malc, I've got it.  See;
the angle A.B.C. equals the angle B.C.D."

"Yes, that's what's the matter," said Elizabeth mournfully.  "I haven't
a mathematical head.  Miss Hillary says so, too."

"But you might make up for it in other things," said Annie, who was
knitting near.  "It would be lovely to pass the entrance before you are
quite twelve, Lizzie.  Jean is the only one, so far, that passed at
eleven.  You really ought to try."

After this Elizabeth did try, spasmodically, for nearly a week, but
gradually fell back into her old idle habits of compiling landscapes
and dreaming dreams.

Miss Gordon questioned Miss Hillary next in regard to the difficult
case.  There was an afternoon quilting-bee at Mrs. Wully Johnstone's,
to which some young people had been invited for the evening, and there
she met the young schoolmistress.  As a rule, the lady of The Dale
mingled very little in these social gatherings.  The country folk were
kind and neighborly, no doubt; and, living amongst them, one must
unbend a little, but she felt entirely out of her social element at a
tea-party of farmers' wives--she who had drunk tea in Edinburgh with
Lady Gordon.  But Auntie Jinit McKerracher had asked her on this
occasion, and even Lady Gordon herself might have hesitated to offend
that important personage, particularly as there had so lately been
danger of a breach between the families.  So, suppressing her pride,
Miss Gordon went, and sat in stately grandeur at the head of the quilt,
saying little until the young schoolmistress appeared.  She, at least,
did not murder Her Majesty's English when she spoke, though her manners
were not by any means quite genteel.

Miss Gordon opened the conversation by inquiring after the attainments
of her family in matters scholastic.

They were all doing very well indeed, Miss Hillary reported.  She spoke
a little vaguely, to be sure.  The Red Cutter appeared with such
pleasant frequency these days that she was not quite sure what her
pupils were doing.  But she remembered that the Gordons were generally
at the head of their classes, and said so, adding the usual reservation
which closed any praise of the family, "except Elizabeth."

Miss Gordon sighed despairingly.  "Elizabeth does not seem as bright as
the rest," she mourned.  "I cannot understand it at all.  Her father
was extremely clever in his college days; indeed, his course was
exceptional, his  professors all said.  All our family were of a
literary turn, you know, Miss Hillary.  Sir William Gordon's
father--Sir William is the cousin for whom my brother was named--wrote
exceedingly profound articles, and my dear father's essays were spoken
of far and wide.  No; I do not at all understand Elizabeth.  I am
afraid she must be entirely a MacDuff."

It did not seem so much lack of ability, Miss Hillary said, as lack of
application.  Lizzie always seemed employed at something besides her
lessons.  But perhaps it was because she hadn't a mathematical head.
Then she changed the subject, feeling she was on uncertain ground.  She
was secretly wondering whether it was Rosie Carrick or Lizzie Gordon
who never got a mark in spelling.

Elizabeth was made aware, by her aunt's remarks that evening, as they
sat around the table for the usual study hour, that she had been
transgressing again; but just how, she failed to understand.  Miss
Gordon talked in the grieved, vague way that always put Elizabeth's
nerves on the rack.  To be talked at this way in public was far worse
even than being scolded outright in private.  For one never knew what
was one's specific sin, and there was always the horrible danger of
breaking down before the boys.

Before retiring she sought an explanation from Mary.  Yes, Mary knew;
she had overheard aunt telling Annie that Miss Hillary had complained
about Lizzie not doing her sums.  This was a blow to Elizabeth.  It was
not so dreadful that anyone should complain of her to Aunt Margaret;
that was quite natural; but that Miss Hillary should do the
complaining!  Her teacher persistently refused to sit upon the throne
which Elizabeth raised again and again for her in her heart.  Miss
Hillary did not understand--did not even care whether she understood or
not, while her pupil's worshiping nature still made pitiful attempts to
put her where a true teacher could have ruled so easily and with such
far-reaching results.

But the unmathematical head was not long troubled over even this
disaster.  It was soon again filled with such glorious visions as drove
out all dark shadows of unspellable words and unsolvable problems.
Elizabeth's ambition reached out far beyond the schoolroom.  There was
no romance or glory about getting ninety-nine per cent. in an
arithmetic examination, as Rosie so often did, after all, and Elizabeth
could not imagine Joan of Arc worrying over the spelling of Orleans.
So she solaced herself with classic landscapes, with rhymes written
concerning the lords and ladies that peopled them, and with dreams of
future glory.

And so the days of anxious waiting for the great visit sped past; and
in the interval Elizabeth might have fallen hopelessly into idle habits
had it not been for the one person who, quietly and unnoticed,
exercised the strongest influence over her life.  To the little girl's
surprise, Mother MacAllister was the one person who held out no hopes
concerning Mrs. Jarvis.  It seemed strange; for Mother MacAllister was
the most sympathetic person in the whole wide world, and, besides, the
only person who could always be depended upon to understand.  But she
did not seem to care how rich or great or glorious that great lady was,
and took no interest whatever in the hopes of her coming visit.  But
she did take a vital interest in her little girl's progress at school,
and one day she managed to find the key to those intellectual faculties
which Elizabeth had kept so long locked away.

It was a Saturday afternoon, and the two comrades--the tall, stooped
woman with the white hair and the beautiful wrinkled face, and the
little girl with the blue-checked pinafore, the long, heavy braid, and
the big inquiring eyes--were washing up the supper dishes.  They were
alone, for Charles Stuart and his father and Long Pete Fowler, the
hired man, were away at the barn attending to the milking and the
chores.  The long bars of golden light from the setting sun came
slanting down through the purple pines of the Long Hill.  The snowy
fields were gleaming with their radiance--rose pink and pure gold with
deep blue shadows along the fences and in the hollows.  The old
kitchen, spotlessly clean, was flooded with the evening light--the
yellow painted floor, the shining kettle sputtering comfortably on the
stove, and the tin milk-pans ranged along the walls all gave back the
sunset glow.  This was the hour Elizabeth enjoyed most--the hour when
she and Mother MacAllister were safe from the teasing and tormenting of
Charles Stuart.

She was wiping the cups and saucers with great pride and care.  They
were the half-dozen blue willow-pattern cups and saucers which Mother
MacAllister had saved from the wreck of her once complete set.  They
were used only on rare occasions, but to-night Elizabeth had been
permitted to set them out.  She never tired of hearing their romantic
story, and Mother MacAllister told it again, as they washed and wiped
and put them away on the top shelf of the cupboard.

They had been Mother MacAllister's finest wedding present, given just
before she left the Old Country, years and years ago, when she and
Father MacAllister were young, and there was no Charles Stuart.  They
had packed the precious blue dishes in a barrel with hay, and had
brought them safely over all the long way.  The stormy sea voyage of
two months in a sailing vessel, the oft-interrupted train and boat
journey from Quebec to Toronto, the weary jolting of the wagon-trail to
the Holland Landing, and the storms of Lake Simcoe--the blue dishes,
safe in their hay nest, had weathered them all.  But the great disaster
came when they were near home, just coming along the rough wagon track
cut through the bush from Cheemaun--Champlain's Road, they called it
even then.  And such a road as it was, little Lizzie never saw--all
stumps and roots, and great mud-holes where the wagon wheels sunk to
the axle.  There were two wagons tied together and drawn by a team of
oxen, and the barrel of precious dishes was in the first one.  And just
as they were coming bumping and rattling down Arrow Hill, the hind
wagon came untied and went crashing into the front one.  And the tongue
went straight through the barrel of blue dishes--from end to
end--smashing everything except these few cups and saucers that had
laid along the sides.

Elizabeth wiped one of the cracked cups very carefully and a lump arose
in her throat.  She always felt the pathos of the story, though Mother
MacAllister expressed no regrets.  But somehow, as the woman held one
of the treasured dishes in her hard, worn hands, the tenderness in her
eyes and voice conveyed to the child something of what their loss
typified.  They seemed to stand for all the beauty and hope and light
of the young bride's life, that had been ruthlessly destroyed by the
hardness and drudgery of the rough new land.

"They are to be yours when you grow up, you mind, little Lizzie,"
Mother MacAllister said, as she always did when the story of the blue
cups and saucers was finished.  Elizabeth sighed rapturously.  "Oh, I'd
just love them!" she cried, "but I couldn't bear to take them away from
here.  The cupboard would look so lonesome without them.  I suppose I
wouldn't need to, though, if I married Charles Stuart, would I?" she
added practically.

Mother MacAllister turned her back for a few minutes.  When she looked
at Elizabeth again there was only a twinkle in her deep eyes.

"You would be thinking of that?" she asked quite seriously.

"Oh, I suppose so," said Elizabeth with a deep sigh, as of one who was
determined to shoulder bravely life's heaviest burdens.  "Of course
aunt thinks Mrs. Jarvis may take me away and make a lady of me, but I
don't really see how she could; do you, Mother MacAllister?"

"I would not be thinking about that, hinny.  Mother MacAllister would
be sad, sad to see her little girl carried away by the cares o' the
world and the deceitfulness of riches."

"I hope I won't ever be," said Elizabeth piously.  "Sometimes I think
I'd like to be a missionary, cause girls can't be like Joan of Arc now.
But it says in the g'ogerphy that there's awful long snakes in heathen
lands.  I don't believe I'd mind the idols, or the black people without
much clothes on, though of course it wouldn't be genteel.  But Martha
Ellen says we shouldn't mind those things for the sake of the gospel.
But, oh, Mother MacAllister!  Think of a snake as long as this room!
Malcolm heard a missionary in Cheemaun tell about one.  I think I'd be
too scared to preach if they were round.  And I couldn't take your
lovely dishes away amongst people like that anyway; so sometimes I
think I'll just marry Charles Stuart when I get big."

Mother MacAllister busied herself arranging the dishes on the top shelf
of the cupboard.  Her twinkling eyes showed not the slightest
resentment that her son should be chosen only as an alternative to
savages and boa constrictors.

"Well, well," she said at last, very gently, "you and Charles Stuart
would be too young to be thinking of such things for a wee while,
lovey.  But, indeed, it's Mother MacAllister prays every day that you
may both be led to serve the dear Master no matter where He places you.
Eh, eh, yes indeed, my lassie."

Elizabeth swung her dish-towel slowly, standing with eyes fixed on the
pink and gold stretch of snow that led up to the glory of the skies
above the Long Hill.

"I'm going to try when I grow big," she whispered.

"But you don't need to be waiting for that, little Lizzie," said Mother
MacAllister, and seeing this was an opportunity for a lesson, added,
"Come and we will be sitting down for a rest now, until the boys come
in."

The dishes were all away, the oil-cloth covered table was wiped
spotlessly clean and the shining milkpans were laid out upon it.  There
was nothing more to be done until Charles Stuart and Long Pete Fowler
came in with the milk.  So Mother MacAllister sat down in the old
rocker by the sun-flooded window with her knitting, and Elizabeth sat
on an old milking-stool at her feet.  And there in the midst of the
golden glow reflected from the skies, while one pale star far above in
the delicate green kept watch over the dying day, there the little girl
was given a new vision of One who, though He was rich, yet for
Elizabeth's sake became poor, who, though He stretched out those
shining heavens as a curtain, and made the glowing earth His footstool,
had lived amongst men and for thirty-three beautiful years had
performed their humblest tasks.

"Run and bring the Book, Lizzie," Mother MacAllister said at last, "and
we'll jist be readin' a word or two about Him."

Elizabeth had not far to run.  The old Bible, with the edges of its
leaves all brown and ragged--and most brown and ragged where the
well-read psalms lay--was always on the farthest window-sill with
Father MacAllister's glasses beside it.  She brought it, and, sitting
again at Mother MacAllister's feet, heard story after story of those
acts of love and gracious kindness that had made His life the wonder
and the worship of the ages.

And didn't little Lizzie want to do something for Him?  Mother
MacAllister asked, and Elizabeth nodded, unable to speak for the great
lump in her throat.  And then the wise woman showed her how He was
pleased with even a tidy desk at school, or a sum with the right answer
or all the words correct in a spelling lesson.

The memory of that golden afternoon never left Elizabeth, never ceased
to illuminate her after-life.  Always a shining sunset recalled that
winter evening; the view from the broad, low window of the glorious
staircase of earth leading up to the more glorious heavens, the
reflection from it all flooding the old kitchen, lighting up the sacred
pages, and the beautiful face and white hair bent above her.  And, best
of all, the memory of the lesson she had learned that evening at Mother
MacAllister's knee never lost its influence over her life.  It was part
of the glory and the most radiant part, that vision of the One who is
the center of all beauty and joy and life.

Sometimes in later years the brightness of the vision waned, often it
almost faded from view; but there always remained a gleam towards which
Elizabeth's soul ever looked.  And one day the vision began to
brighten, slowly and imperceptibly, like the coming of the dawn, but as
surely and steadily, until at last its glory filled her whole life and
made it beautiful and noble, meet for the use of Him who is the Father
of Lights.

Meantime, without any warning or apparent reason, Elizabeth suddenly
began to learn her lessons.  No one but Mother MacAllister understood
why, but everybody saw the results.  The connection between Elizabeth's
heart and brain had been made, and that done she even began to develop
a mathematical head.  It was no easy task getting over her idle habits;
and it was so easy when a complex fraction proved stubborn to turn
one's slate into an easel.  But the Saturday afternoon talks always
turned upon the subject of the vital connection between fractions and
the glories of the infinite, and every Monday Elizabeth went back to
her tasks with renewed vim.  And soon she began to taste something of
the joy of achievement.  It was fairly dazzling to feel oneself slowly
creeping up from the foot of the class, and she found a strange
exhilaration in setting herself against a rival and striving to
outspell her in a match.  Here was glory right ready to hand.  She was
Joan of Arc herself, riding through the arithmetic and slaying every
complex fraction that lay in her path.

Miss Gordon witnessed the transformation in Elizabeth with amazement,
and with devout thankfulness that by the judicious use of Mrs. Jarvis's
name she had at last succeeded in arousing her niece's ambition.  Rosie
saw and was both proud and puzzled.  It seemed so queer to see Lizzie
working in school.  Mary gave up all hopes of ever catching up to her,
and John and Charles Stuart were sometimes seized with spasms of alarm
lest by some unexpected leap she might land some morning in their class.

Elizabeth's days were not too full of work to preclude other interests,
and just as the winter was vanishing in sunshiny days and little rivers
of melting snow, two very great events occurred.  Just the last day
before the Easter vacation, Miss Hillary bade Forest Glen farewell and
rode away for the last time in the red cutter.  Elizabeth and Rosie
left their decimals and the Complete Speller to take care of themselves
for fully an hour, while with their heads on the desk they wept
bitterly.  For, after all, Miss Hillary was a teacher, and parting with
even the poorest kind of teacher, especially one who was so pretty, was
heart-breaking.

That was bad enough, but on the very same day old Sandy McLachlan came
to the school and took Eppie away.  Fortunately, her two friends did
not know until the evening that Eppie, too, was gone forever; but when
they did discover it, Elizabeth's grief was not to be assuaged.

The next morning Eppie and her grandfather drove away from Forest Glen.
Jake Martin had not resorted to the law as he had threatened, neither
had Tom Teeter relaxed his vigilance.  The old man's Highland pride had
at the last driven him forth.  The hardest part of it all had been that
the thrust that had given him his final hurt had come from his closest
friend.  Noah Clegg was the warmest-hearted man in Forest Glen and
would have given over his whole farm to Sandy if he would have accepted
it.  But, as Tom Teeter declared hotly, Noah had no tact and was a
blazing idiot beside, and a well-intentioned remark of his sent old
Sandy out of the community.  Noah was not a man of war and was so
anxious that his old friend should give up his untenable position
peaceably that he had very kindly and generously explained to Sandy
that it would be far better for him to come and live on a neighbor that
wanted him than on a man like Jake Martin, who didn't.

That very day, proud, angry, and cut to the heart, Sandy packed his
household goods and left the place.  There was much talk over the
affair and everyone expressed deep regret--even Jake Martin.  But he
wisely refrained from saying much, for Tom Teeter excelled all his
former oratorical nights in his hot denunciation of such a heartless
crocodile, who could dance on his neighbor's grave and at the same time
weep like a whited sepulchre.  Long after the countryside had given up
talking of poor Sandy's flitting, they discussed Tom's wonderful speech.

Elizabeth and Rosie had one letter from Eppie.  They were living in
Cheemaun, she said, and grandaddy was working in a big garden nearby
and she was going to a great school where there were six teachers.
Elizabeth's sorrow changed to admiration and envy; and soon the
excitement of having a new teacher drove Eppie from her mind.

And still the winter slowly vanished and spring advanced, and still
Mrs. Jarvis did not come.  Vigilance at The Dale was never relaxed
through the delay, however.  Everything was kept in a state of
preparation, and Miss Gordon ordered her household as soldiers awaiting
an onset of the enemy.  Sarah Emily had a clean apron every morning,
and the house was kept in speckless order from the stone step of the
front porch to the rain-barrel by the back door of the woodshed.  Even
the barnyard was swept every morning before the younger Gordons left
for school, and every day their Sabbath clothes were laid out in
readiness to slip on at the sight of a carriage turning in off
Champlain's Road.

But the days passed and no carriage appeared, neither did a line come
from the expected lady explaining her tardiness.  Hope deferred made
Miss Gordon's nerves unsteady and her heart hard towards the cause of
her daily disappointment.  By some process of unreason which often
develops in the aggrieved feminine mind, she conceived of Elizabeth as
that cause, and the unfortunate child found herself, all
uncomprehending as usual, fallen from the heights of approbation to
which her progress at school had raised her, to the old sad level of
constant wrong-doing.

And so the days passed until once more May came down Arrow Hill with
her arms full of blossoms, and turned the valley into a garden.
Dandelions starred the green carpet by the roadside, violets and
marigolds draped the banks of the creek with a tapestry of purple and
gold.  The wild cherry-trees fringed Champlain's Road with a white
lacey hedge, heavy with perfume and droning with bees.  The clover
fields flushed a soft lilac tint, the orchards were a mass of pink and
white blossoms, and the whole valley rang with the music of birds from
the robin's first dawn note to the whip-poor-will's evensong.

Elizabeth tried not to be wildly happy, in view of her shortcomings,
but found it impossible.  May was here and she, too, must be riotously
joyful.  The boys were wont to be off on fishing expeditions once more,
and over hill and dale she followed them in spite of all opposition.
One radiant afternoon John and Charles Stuart went, as usual, far
afield on their homeward journey from school.  They crossed the creek
far below the mill and, making a wide circuit round the face of Arrow
Hill, came home by way of Tom Teeter's pasture-field.  They had chosen
this route on purpose to rid themselves of Elizabeth, but she had
dogged their footsteps; and now arrived home with them, weary but
triumphant.  As they approached the old stone house, she remembered
that she bore dismaying signs of her tumultuous journey.  She had met
with many accidents by the way, among others a slip into a mud-hole as
they crossed the creek.  So, when they reached the low bars that led
from Tom's property into The Dale field, she allowed the boys to go on
alone, while she sat upon the grass and strove to repair damages.

As she was scraping the mud from her wet stockings and struggling to
re-braid her hair, she heard voices coming from Tom Teeter's barnyard.
Glancing through the tangle of alder and raspberry bushes she was
overjoyed to see Annie standing by the strawstack talking to Granny
Teeter.  Annie was the old woman's especial pet, and often went over to
keep her company when Tom was in town or on an oratorical tour.
Elizabeth sighed happily.  She would wait and go home with Annie.  One
was almost always safe in her company.

So she sat down on the end of a rail, teetering contentedly.  The
rattle of a wagon could be heard on Champlain's Road.  Tom was driving
in at the gate, coming from town.  He would be sure to have some
sweeties, and would probably send them home with Annie.  Granny was
hobbling about the barnyard, a red and black checked shawl round her
head and shoulders, a stick in her hand, which she used as much to rap
the unruly pigs and calves as for a support.  She was complaining in
her high querulous voice about her turkeys, the _contrary_ little
bastes, that would nivir stay to home at all, at all, no matter if ye
give them the whole farm to ate up.  Tom rode up and stood talking with
them, and Elizabeth, watching him through the raspberry bushes for
signs of a package of candy, saw him take a letter from his pocket.
Then he pointed to the straying turkeys going "peep, peep" over the
hillside, and, as Granny turned to look at them, he slipped the letter
into Annie's hand.  Elizabeth remembered having seen Tom do this once
or twice before, when he came over of an evening.  She wondered what
this could be about, and decided to ask Annie as soon as she came.
Suppose it should be a letter from Mrs. Jarvis, saying she had started!

Her sister was a long time in coming, and when she did appear at last,
walking along the path, she came very slowly.  She was reading the
letter and smiling very tenderly and happily over it.

"Hello, Annie!" shouted Elizabeth, scrambling up on the fence top.  The
letter disappeared like a flash into the folds of Annie's skirt; and at
once Elizabeth's older self told her she must not ask questions about
that letter, must not even allude to it.  Some faint recollection of
that early dawn when she had seen the farewell in their orchard drifted
through her mind.

"Why, Lizzie," said her older sister, "how did you come here?"  She
caught sight of the books.  John carried the dinner-pail on condition
that Elizabeth bore the school-bag.  "Haven't you got home yet?"

"No.  The boys went 'way round, miles below the mill to hunt moles, and
I got into the creek.  And just look at my stockings, Annie!"

"Oh, Lizzie!" cried her sister in distress, "what will aunt say?" then
added that which always attached itself to Elizabeth's misdemeanors,
"What would Mrs. Jarvis think if she were to come to-day?"

"Oh, bother!  I don't believe she'll ever come for years and years,"
said Elizabeth recklessly.  "Do you, Ann; now, really?"

"Ye-s, I think she might soon be here now."  Something in her big
sister's voice made Elizabeth look up quickly.  Dimples were showing in
Annie's cheeks.  Her eyes were radiant.

"Oh, _do_ you think so?  Well, Horace promised to come anyway, but what
makes you think she'll come soon?"

Annie shook her head, still smiling.  "Aw, do tell me," coaxed
Elizabeth.  "Did aunt get a letter?"

"No," the dimples were growing deeper, the eyes brighter, "but if she's
coming at all she's coming this week, because--because the year's
nearly up."  She added the last words in a whisper and looked startled
as soon as she had uttered them.

"Because what?" cried Elizabeth, bristling with curiosity.

"Nothing, nothing," said Annie hastily.  "It's," she was whispering
again, "it's got something to do with our secret, Lizzie, and you
mustn't ask me like a good little girl.  And you won't tell what I
said, will you?"

Elizabeth was quite grown-up now.  "Oh, no, I won't ever, ever tell.
But you're not quite sure she's coming, are you?  'Cause I never
finished working the motto she sent me."

"No, I'm not quite sure.  But I think she will."

Elizabeth nodded.  She understood perfectly, she told herself.  That
letter was from Mrs. Jarvis, but having something to do with Annie's
secret--which meant Mr. Coulson--its contents must not be disclosed.

She went to work at her lessons that evening and forgot all about the
letter and Mrs. Jarvis, too.  Decimals were not so alluring since the
May flowers had blossomed.  A thousand voices of the coming summer
called her away from her books.  But Elizabeth was determined to finish
a certain exercise that week, for Mother MacAllister was looking for
it.  Malcolm and Jean were sitting down on the old pump platform doing
a Latin exercise.  Elizabeth could not understand anyone studying
there, with the orioles building their nest above and the
vesper-sparrows calling from the lane.  So she took her books up to her
room, pulled down the green paper blind to shut out all sights and
sounds, lit the lamp, and there in the hot, airless little place knelt
by a chair and crammed her slate again and again with figures.

Miss Gordon had been darning on the side porch, but had left her work a
moment and gone out to the kitchen to request Sarah Emily to
sing--provided it were necessary to sing at all--a little less
boisterously.  Tom Teeter was in the study with Mr. Gordon, and, to
show her indifference, Sarah Emily was calling forth loud and clear the
chronicles of all those "finest young gents that ever were seen," who
had come a-courting all in vain.

The singer being reduced to a sulky silence, the mistress of the house
passed out on a tour of inspection.  She glanced approvingly at the two
eager young students in the orchard, calling softly to Jean not to
remain out after the dew began to fall.  The little boys were playing
in the lane.  Mary was with them, but the absence of noise showed that
Elizabeth was not.  Miss Gordon moved quietly upstairs.  The door of
Elizabeth's room was closed; she tapped, then opened it.

Elizabeth's face, hot and flushed, was raised from her slate.  The lamp
was flaring, and the room was stifling and smelt of kerosene.  But she
looked up at her aunt with some confidence.  She half-expected to be
commended.  She was certainly working hard and surely was not doing
anything wrong.

For a moment Miss Gordon stood staring.  She was seized with a sudden
fear that perhaps Elizabeth was not quite in her right senses.  Then
she noted the extravagant consuming of kerosene in the day-time.

"Elizabeth," she said despairingly, "how is it possible that you can
act so strangely?  Is the daylight not good enough that you must shut
yourself up here?  Take your books and go downstairs immediately, and
blow out the lamp and tell Sarah Emily to clean it again.  Really, I
cannot understand you!"

Elizabeth went tumultuously down the stairs.  No, her aunt didn't
understand, that was just the trouble.  If she ever showed any signs of
doing so, one might occasionally explain.  She flung her books upon the
kitchen table and went out to the back kitchen door and, sitting down
heavily upon a bench there, gave herself up to despair.  She gazed
drearily at Malcolm and Jean and listened to the laughter from the lane
without wanting to join either group.  Mr. MacAllister had come over a
few minutes earlier, bringing the Pretender as usual.  John and the
latter were upstairs.  Elizabeth knew they were planning to run away
from her on the Queen's Birthday, but she did not care.  She told
herself she did not care about anything any more.  Her heart was
broken, and if Mrs. Jarvis were to drive in at the gate that very
moment she would not take ten million dollars from her, though she
begged her on her bended knees.

Miss Gordon went back to her darning on the side porch, and worked at
it feverishly, wondering if the child were really in her right mind.
She had much to worry her these days, poor lady.  Her ambition for the
family threatened to be disappointed.  Mrs. Jarvis was evidently not
coming.  Malcolm and Jean would probably graduate from the High School
and there their education must stop.  And Annie was acting so
strangely.  She could not but remember that it was just one year ago
that evening that she had bidden Annie dismiss her undesirable suitor.
And now, rumor said the young man bade fair to be highly desirable, and
no other lover had as yet appeared.  Of course, Mr. Coulson had gone,
declaring his exile would last a year, and then he would return.  But
Miss Gordon had little faith in young men.

Annie had not fretted, only for a day or so--that was the strange
part--but their life together had never been the same.  There were no
pretty, sweet confidences from her favorite, such as used to make Miss
Gordon feel young and happy, and lately Annie had been so silent and
yet with a face that shone with an inner light.  Her aunt felt lonely
and shut out of the brightness of the girl's life.  Much she wondered
and speculated.  But Annie's firm mouth closed tightly and the steady
eyes looked far away when the young school-teacher's name was mentioned.

Well, it was a blessing the girl did not fret, the aunt said to
herself, for there was little likelihood of his returning.  He had
probably forgotten all about her since last winter--young men were like
that.  She sighed as she confessed it, remembering one who had declared
he would come back--but who had remained away in forgetfulness.

As she sat there in gloomy meditation, a rumbling noise made her look
up.  A carriage was coming swiftly along Champlain's Road, one of those
smart buggies that came only from the town.  It stopped at the gate,
and the driver, a young man, alighted.  Elizabeth saw him, too, and
suddenly forgot her despondency.  She had seen Annie but ten minutes
before, walking across the pasture-field towards Granny Teeter's.  She
arose with a spring and went tearing through the orchard, bringing
forth indignant remarks from her studious brother and sister as she
flashed past.  Annie had just reached the gate leading from the
orchard.  Elizabeth flung herself upon her.

"Oh, Annie!" she gasped, radiant and breathless.  "Somebody's coming.
And you'll never, never guess, 'cause it's Mrs. Jarvis, and she's
brought Mr. Coulson!"



CHAPTER XI

THE DREAM OF LIFE

"Miss Gordon is wanted in the Principal's room at once."

The Science Master of Cheemaun High School put his head in at the door
of the room where the "Moderns" teacher was instructing his class in
French grammar.  There was a flutter among the pupils as a tall young
lady in a neat dark-blue dress arose.  The flutter had something of
apprehension in it.  Miss Gordon was a prime favorite--and this was not
the first time she had been summoned to what was known amongst her
schoolmates as The Judgment Hall.

"Oh, Beth!" giggled the fair, plump young lady who shared her seat.
"He's found you out certain!"

"You're in for it, Beth!" whispered another.  "Old Primmy's seen your
picture!"

Miss Gordon's deep gray eyes took on a look of mock terror.  She went
out with bent head and a comical air of abject humility that left the
room in a titter.  The "Moderns" teacher frowned.  Miss Gordon was
irrepressible.

Nevertheless, when she found herself passing down the wide echoing hall
alone, the young lady was seized with misgivings.  For which of her
misdemeanors was she to be arraigned this time?  There was that
dreadful caricature she had drawn of the Principal--the one with the
shining expanse of bald head towards which swarms of flies and
mosquitoes, bearing skates and toboggans and hockey-sticks, were
hurrying gayly, while upon poor old Dr. Primrose's one tuft of hair
shone the conspicuous sign, "This way to the Great Slide."

Now, what on earth had she done with that picture?  Oh, yes, Horace
Oliver had borrowed it to show to Parker Raymond.  Perhaps Park had
lost it--he was such a careless fellow--and Dr. Primrose had found it!
And there was that poem, too, the one on little Mr. Kelly, the Science
Master.  It was a long, lugubrious effusion, telling of the search by a
heart-broken chemistry class for a beloved teacher, who had
unaccountably disappeared.  It described them as wandering about
weeping pitifully, looking into desks and ink-bottles, and under books;
until at last they discovered to their horror that a careless girl had
dropped her pen-wiper upon him and smothered him!  That poem had
circulated through the class, causing much merriment.  And where was it
now?  The poetess could not remember.  Suppose someone had dropped it
and Mr. Kelly had found it?  He was so small, and so sensitive about
his size.  No wonder Miss Gordon went very slowly to the Principal's
room.

Usually her days were all unalloyed joy.  High School, except for
occasional skirmishes with troublesome teachers, was a delight.  For
Elizabeth Gordon had arrived at a place in life where one could have a
good time without hurting anyone; there was so much fun in the world,
laughter was so easy--and nobody seemed ever to be in trouble any more.
Even as she tapped at the door beyond which probable retribution lay,
she smiled at the nodding lilac bush with its bunch of amethyst
blossoms that waved a greeting to her from the open window.  Miss
Gordon's mind was prone to wander thus from the subject in hand to such
sights, her teachers often found.  The song of a yellow warbler in the
school maples, the whirl of scarlet leaves across the window pane, or
the gleam of snow on the far-off hilltops, would drive away every item
of knowledge concerning the value of (a+b)2 or the characteristics of a
parallelogram.

The door swung suddenly open and the Principal's bald head shot into
view.  His eyes were stern.  Evidently he had come in war and not in
peace.

"Ah, Miss Gordon!" he said, briskly.  "Yes, Miss Gordon!  Just step
this way a minute!"

He held open the door and Miss Gordon stepped in, leaving all her
courage on the other side.  She slipped sideways into a chair and
looked up at him with scared attention.  Evidently it was the picture.

"Miss Gordon," said the Principal, seating himself in his revolving
chair, which creaked in a way that reminded Miss Gordon horribly of
stories of the guillotine, "I am making out the list of those whom I
consider competent to write on the final examinations, and I feel it my
duty to notify you that I cannot see my way clear to include your name."

Elizabeth fairly crumpled up in her chair.  This was awful--the thing
she had most feared had come upon her at last.  She sat speechless.

"Your papers on mathematics are quite hopeless," he continued, growing
more querulous because his pity was aroused.  "It's out of the question
that you should write.  I've done my best to show you that you should
give less time to English subjects and devote more to Algebra and your
Euclid."  He arose and blustered up and down the room.

"You haven't a mathematical head," he was saying for the third time
when a sharp rap upon the door interrupted.  Dr. Primrose, looking very
much relieved, opened it.  Miss Gordon turned away to the window to
hide the rising tears.

There was a short, hurried conversation at the door, and the teacher
turned to his victim.  He had a big, warm heart that was vastly
relieved at the prospect of escape from a most unpleasant duty.

"Ah, Miss Gordon," he said briskly.  "Here are two gentlemen to see
you.  You have permission to go home early this afternoon, by special
request.  Kindly bear in mind what I have told you."

He stepped quickly aside, and ushered in two tall, young men, at the
same time closing the door behind him.

At the same instant all Miss Gordon's troubles were shut out with him,
and her face lit up with rapturous delight.  She skipped across the
room with a joyful scream.

"Oh, John, John Gordon, you dear old sneak; why didn't you tell me you
were coming to-day?"

She flung her arms about his neck and gave him a sounding kiss.  John
Gordon had been a whole year in college, but he had not yet become
sufficiently grown-up to accept a salute from his sister.  He drew back
rather embarrassed, but his blue eyes shone in his dark face.  He was
tremendously glad to see Lizzie again, and could not quite hide the
fact.

The other young man seemed equally pleased.  "I say, Lizzie!" he
exclaimed, as she joyously shook both his hands.  "You're grown about a
yard.  And her neck's longer than ever, isn't it, John?"

"You mean old Pretender," she said with a pout; nevertheless, she did
not look offended.  Miss Gordon had quite changed her views regarding
the possession of a long neck.  Estella Raymond, her dearest chum, who
was short and plump, had declared many times that she would give ten
thousand dollars--not specifying how she was to come by such a sum--if
she could have a neck one-half as long and slim and graceful as Beth
Gordon's.

"Never mind, she's getting better looking, I do declare," the Pretender
added.  "How's everybody?"

"Oh, just splendid--that is, they were when I was home last.  I don't
go every Friday, you know.  When did you come?  Am I to go home with
you?"

"We just got here on the noon train," her brother explained, "and we
swarmed up to Annie's and she gave us the dinner of our lives."

"Say, it didn't taste much like boarding-house hash, did it?" cried Mr.
MacAllister fervently.

"And John Coulson's going to stand a treat for the whole family, and
drive us all out to The Dale--the Kid and all.  And you're to come
along.  Scoot and get your hat."

Elizabeth danced away down the hall to the cloakroom dizzy with joy.
Examinations, mathematics, principals of High Schools, all unkind and
troublesome things had vanished in a rosy mist.  The old delight of
getting "off with the boys," was as strong at seventeen as at ten.  The
boys themselves seemed to have changed their minds in the intervening
years as to the advisability of allowing Lizzie to "tag after them."
John's deep blue eyes, looking after her dancing figure, showed the
love and pride in his sister which he was always so careful to hide,
and his companion looked with somewhat the same expression and withal a
little puzzled--as one who had seen something unexpected which had
dazzled him.

It was but the work of a moment for Elizabeth to put on her hat and
gloves.  She did not linger over the correct adjustment of the former
as she so often did.  Miss Gordon was prone to look much in the mirror
these days.  It was always the fixing of a bow or a frill of lace or
some other ornament that took her attention.  She scarcely looked, as
yet, at the shining wealth of nut-brown hair, with the golden strand
through it, nor at the deep gray eyes, nor the straight line of teeth
that gleamed when she laughed.  Miss Gordon was not interested in
these, but she could become absorbed in the arrangement of ribbon at
such length that her sister, Mrs. John Coulson, sometimes worried for
fear Lizzie was growing vain.

As she hurried to the main entrance where the boys stood waiting, a
group of young ladies came straying out of the classroom for the
afternoon recess.

"Beth Gordon!" cried the fair, plump one, making a dive at her friend.
"Are you expelled or are you off for a holiday, you mean thing?  Who's
out there?"  She craned her short neck.  "Goodness, what swells!  Are
they waiting for you?"

"It's only our John and Stuart MacAllister, they've just got in from
Toronto, and I'm going home with them."

"MacAllister and Gordon!  Goodness gracious!  I'm going to ask them if
they've ever met Ted Burns at 'Varsity.  Ted's just crazy to get me to
correspond with him."

She tore down the hall and was soon in hilarious conversation with her
two old schoolmates, while Elizabeth remained behind to explain her
sudden departure.

"Just look at Estella!" cried a tall sallow girl, regarding that
vivacious young lady with disgust.

"How is it she always has so much attention from boys?" asked Elizabeth
Gordon, half-wistfully.

"My goodness, you're so innocent, Beth!  Can't you see she runs after
them and demands attention.  I wouldn't stoop to the means she employs
not if a boy never spoke to me again, would you?"

Elizabeth was silent.  Somehow she could not help thinking it would be
most enjoyable to have two or three swains always dancing attendance on
one, the way they did on Estella Raymond, even though one did have to
encourage them.  Of course Estella did resort to means that were not
quite genteel--but then boys seemed to always come about her, anyway,
as bees did about a flower; while Madeline Oliver never had a beau.
Elizabeth had to confess that she hadn't one herself--except Horace,
who, of course, didn't count.  She sighed.  It really would be nice to
be like Stella, even though one hadn't Madeline's dignity.

"Good-by, girls!" she called gayly.  "I'll bring you some
lady's-slippers if they're out," and she ran out to the group on the
steps.

It took some time for the two young men to tear themselves away from
Miss Raymond's gentle hands.  They were further delayed by her
following Elizabeth to the gate, her arm about her waist, while she
implored her darling Beth to come back soon, and kissed her twice
before she let her go.  They got away at last, and the three went down
the leafy street.

They were a very different looking trio from the one that used to stray
over field and through woods about The Dale, fishing, berry-picking,
nutting, or merely seeking adventure.  They had not been separated very
long.  During the boys' first year in the High School, Elizabeth had
worked madly, and when she managed to graduate from Forest Glen, Mother
MacAllister had insisted that Charles Stuart take the buck-board and
the sorrel mare and that the three inseparables drive to and from the
town to school.

For though Mrs. Jarvis had really appeared in the flesh at The Dale for
that one visit, she had never repeated it nor her munificent offer to
discuss Elizabeth's future.  Her talk had all been of Annie, and what a
good match young Mr. Coulson would make.  And Miss Gordon had to be
content, never guessing that the astute young man whose cause the lady
championed, and not her own influence had brought Mrs. Jarvis to The
Dale.

So Elizabeth's fortune had not been made after all, but she had managed
to get on quite well without a fortune, it would seem.  Her High School
days had been days of perfect joy.  Even when the boys had graduated
and gone to Toronto, she had managed to be happy.  For Annie lived in
Cheemaun by this time, lived in a fine brick house too in the best part
of the town, and Elizabeth had spent this last year with her.  And now
nearly five years had passed, and not Mrs. Jarvis, but Mr. Coulson had
become the family's hope.

Miss Gordon had long ago become reconciled to the tavern-keeping
ancestor.  It would appear that social lines could not be strictly
drawn in this new country, and when one lived in Canada apparently one
must marry as Canadians married.  For it would appear also that here
Jack was not only as good as his master, but might be in the master's
place the next day.  And certainly John Coulson was a model husband,
and a rising lawyer besides.  On the whole, Miss Gordon was perfectly
satisfied with the match she now firmly believed she had made for her
niece.  Each year she grew more absorbed in her ambition for William's
family.  They were all responding so splendidly to her efforts.  She
would raise them to social eminence, she declared to herself, in spite
of William's neglect and Mrs. Jarvis's indifference.  With John
Coulson's help Malcolm had secured a position in the bank of a
neighboring town.  Jean was teaching school in Toronto, and because
Jean must needs do the work of two people, she was reading up the
course Charles Stuart was taking in the University and attending such
lectures as she could.  Even Elizabeth, through Annie's goodness, was
getting such learning as she was capable of taking.  And John was at
college learning to be a doctor.  That was the hardest task of all, the
sending of John to college.  And only Miss Gordon knew how it had been
accomplished.  She had managed it somehow for the first year, and John
was to earn money during his first summer vacation for his next year.

Down the long leafy street Elizabeth was moving now between the two
tall figures.  There was so much to tell, so many questions to ask, and
she talked all the time.  To the boys' disgust they could extract from
her very little information respecting any person except the one
supreme personage who now ruled her days--Annie's baby.  She was
overcome with indignation that Annie had not already displayed him.
What if he was asleep!  It was a shame to make anybody wait five
minutes for a sight of such a vision.  Why, he was the most angelic and
divinely exquisite, sweetest, dearest, darlingest pet that ever
gladdened the earth.  He was a vision, that's what he was!  Just a
vision all cream satin and rose-leaf and gold.  Elizabeth described him
at such length that the boys in self-defense uttered their old, old
threat.  They would climb a fence and run away--and Elizabeth, whose
long skirts now precluded the possibility of her old defiant
counter-threat to follow them, desisted and bade them "just wait."

They were climbing the heights that formed the part of the town called
Sunset Hill.  It was a beautiful spot, with streets embowered in maple
trees and bordered by lawns and gardens.  At the end of each leafy
avenue gleamed Cheemaun Lake with its white sails.  Sunset Hill was not
only the prettiest residential part of the town, it was the region of
social eminence; and it were better to dwell in a cot on those heights
and have your card tray filled with important names, than exist in
luxury down by the lake shore and not be known by Society.  The houses
on Sunset Hill were all of red brick with wide verandas supported by
white pillars--the wider the veranda, and the thicker the pillars, the
greater the owner's social distinction.  For some years this form of
architecture was the only one accepted by people of fashion, until Mr.
Oliver, who was a wealthy lumberman, inadvertently put an end to it.
He too built his new house on Sunset Hill, and Mrs. Oliver, just to
outpillar the other pillars of society, had her veranda supported by
groups of columns, three in a group.  Thereafter builders lost courage,
seeming to feel that the limit had been reached.  Shortly after, a
daring young contractor put up a gray stone house with slim black
veranda posts, and no one raised a protest.  And fashion, having been
chased in this manner from pillar to post, so to speak, Society turned
its attention to other than architectural fields.  But the dull red
bricks of Sunset Hill with their white ornamentations mellowing in the
keen Canadian winters, stood thereafter as a title clear to
unquestionable social standing.

It had always been a source of great satisfaction to Elizabeth that
John Coulson had taken Annie to a white-pillared home on Sunset Hill;
for Madeline and Horace lived in the finest home there, and Estella,
though on the wrong side of Elm Crescent, the street that, curving
round Sunset Hill, divided it from the vulgar world, dwelt in a very
fine residence indeed.  Elizabeth had learned many things besides
French and Chemistry in Cheemaun High School.

They found a big carriage drawn up before the door of Annie's house,
and Annie already in it holding the Vision, now merely a bundle of lace
and shawls.  Elizabeth grasped the bundle from her sister's arms and
proceeded to display its many charms.  "Oh, John, just look at him!
Look, Stuart, see him's dear dear itty nose, an' him's grea' big
peepers!  Isn't he the darlingest pet----"

The boys attempted to be sufficiently admiring, but just as they were
lamely trying to say something adequate to the great occasion, to
Elizabeth's dismay, the Vision opened its mouth and yelled lustily.

"Betsey, you're a nuisance!" said John Coulson, with that indulgent
look he always bent upon the young sister-in-law, who had been such a
help to him in those days when he sorely needed help.  "Come, tumble
in, everybody.  All aboard for The Dale,--Champlain and Cheemaun R.
R.!"  The Vision was quieted, the travelers sprang in, the whip
cracked, the wheels rattled, the horses pranced, and away they spun
down the leafy streets--down, down, to the long level stretch of
Champlain's Road that ran straight out into the country.

There was much to be told of college pranks and college work, and the
telling of it lasted until the horses climbed Arrow Hill and the old
familiar valley lay stretched before them.

"Yook, yook, Dackie!" chattered Aunt Elizabeth, clutching the Vision,
whose big blue eyes were gazing wonderingly from the depths of his
wrappings.  "Yook at de pitty pitty wobin!  A teenty weenty itty wobin
wed best!"

There was a groan from the front seat.

"Do you often get it as bad as that, Lizzie?" asked John anxiously.

"Remember The Rowdy, Lizzie?" asked Charles Stuart, "the fellow that
used to sing in the hawthorn bush?"

"I should think I do--and Granny Teeter.  Listen, there is The Rowdy's
lineal descendant, for sure!"

It seemed to be The Rowdy's very reincarnation, singing and shouting
from an elm bough by the roadside.

"That's a gay bachelor all right," said John Coulson, who, because he
was so supremely happy in his married life, had to make allusion to his
condition as often as possible, even if only by way of contrast.

"He sounds more like a widower," said Elizabeth gloomily; "one that had
been bereaved about a year."

"Hush, hush, Betsey!" cried her brother-in-law.  "Remember whose land
he's on."

"That's just what I am remembering."

"You don't mean that Jake's beginning to 'take notice,' surely?" asked
John Gordon, in wicked delight.  For only the spring before poor
worn-out Mrs. Martin had suddenly ceased her baking, churning, and
hoeing, and had gone to her long rest in the Forest Glen churchyard,
and already rumor said that Jake was on the lookout for another baker,
churner, and hoer.

"I'm afraid he is," said John Coulson.  "There he is now prowling round
his asparagus beds.  He's probably got his eye on Betsey."

Elizabeth was not prepared to answer this sally.  She was looking out
eagerly for some glimpse of Susie.  All the elder Martins had left home
just as soon as they were old enough to assert their independence.  But
Susie's strength had given way before the hard work, and she lay all
day in bed, or dragged her weary limbs about the house, a hopeless
invalid, and her father's chief grievance in life.  Elizabeth's warm
heart was always filled with a passionate pity for Susie, and she
rarely visited home without running across the fields to brighten a
half-hour for the sick girl.

Just at this moment there arose from the fields opposite the Martin
farm a rollicking song--loud, clear, compelling attention, and poured
forth in a rich baritone.

  "_O, and it's whippity-whoppity too,
  And how I'd love to sing to you,
  I'd laugh and sing
  With joy and glee,
  If Mistress McQuarry would marry me,
  If Mistress McQuarry would marry me!_"


The last line was fairly shouted in a way that showed the singer was
anxious to be heard.

"Tom's trying to outsing the robins," cried John Coulson, pulling up
his horses.  Mr. Teeter was coming across a rich brown field behind his
harrow.  John Coulson waved his hat.

"Hello, Tom, I tell you they lost a fine singer when they made an
orator out of you!  Give us a shake!"

Tom was over the fence in a twinkling, and shaking the newcomers' hands.

"Sure it's awful college swells ye're gettin' to be, wid your high
collars.  Have ye made up yer mind to be a preacher yet?"  He looked at
Charles Stuart.

"No, I haven't," said Charles Stuart hastily.

"Well ye ought to be ashamed o' yerself, wid the mother ye've got.  So
ye heard me singin' now?"  His eyes gleamed with mischievous delight.
"I was shoutin' for a purpose."  He jerked his thumb over his shoulder
in the direction of the man working in the Martin fields.  "Look at
that say-sarpent wigglin' over there.  It makes him so mad he could set
fire to me."  He laughed so explosively that the horses started.  "He's
coortin'.  Yes, siree, but he don't like to have it advertised."

"Who's the poor woman?" asked Mrs. Annie in distress.

"Auntie Jinit McKerracher!  They say she throwed the dish-water on him
the last time he went sparkin'.  Hi! young shaver!"  This to the
Vision, who had insisted upon sitting erect, and was now looking about
him.  "Oh, he's the broth of a boy, sure enough, Lizzie.  Now ye'll be
sure all o' yez to come over and see mother; don't ye dare go back
widout.  I suppose yous two didn't hear anything o' poor Sandy and the
wee girl in Toronto, did ye?"

John shook his head.  "We heard they were living with Eppie's father.
He kept a corner grocery store in the east end, but we couldn't find
them."

"Eh, eh," sighed Tom, "poor Sandy.  A fine old fellow.  Eh, I hope he's
not in want."  He shook his fist towards his neighbor.  "An' jist go on
robbin' widows an' tramplin' on orphans till ye perish in the
corruption o' yer own penuriousness.  Yes, an' me lady Jarvis too!" he
cried, abruptly finishing his apostrophe.  "She'll have to answer for
old Sandy an' the wee thing, see if she don't."  The company smiled in
spite of his earnestness, all but Elizabeth.  She regarded him with big
solemn eyes.  "Now yous 'll be over to see mother early, mind," he
added as he swung one leg over the fence.

As they drove away they heard his song rising again loud and clear--

  "_O, and it's whippity-whoppity too,
  And how I'd love to sing to you._"


"Tom's a great lad," laughed John Coulson.  "He'll never grow old.  I
wonder why he never married," he added, returning to his favorite topic.

"Does Sarah Emily still think he's pining for her?"

"She's sure of it," said Elizabeth.  "And poor old granny is so angry
that Tom won't get married.  'Aw wirra wurra, if Tom'd only git a wife
now.'"  She wrung her hands and imitated old Granny Teeter's wail to
perfection.  "'Sure an' he nades a wife to tind to the chickens an' the
pigs an' the turkeys--the contrary little bastes that'll niver be
stayin' at home, at all at all.'"

The young men laughed, and John Coulson looked admiringly at her.  John
Coulson was too apt to encourage Lizzie in this sort of thing, Annie
felt.  She smiled indulgently at her sister, but said nothing.  Mrs.
John Coulson alone knew why poor unselfish Tom had never married, but
hers was a loyal friendship and she had kept his secret as faithfully
as he had once kept hers.

And now they had come prancing out from behind the screen of elm trees,
and The Dale lay spread out before them--the big gate between the old
willows, the long lane bordered by blossoming cherry-trees, and the old
stone house with its prim flower beds in front.  Their homecoming was a
few days earlier than expected, and Mr. Gordon was all unconsciously
hoeing at the back of the field, but Sarah Emily spied them as they
pulled up at the gate, and came running round the house shouting in a
most ungenteel but warm-hearted fashion that the folks was come home.

Elizabeth sprang from the carriage and ran down the lane to meet Mary.
Though she came home often, the joy of reunion with her family never
palled.  There was no place like The Dale for Elizabeth, no folk like
her own folk.  She did not even notice in her joyous hurry that Charles
Stuart had left and was striding homeward down Champlain's Road.

Mary came running out to meet her.  She was a tall girl now, taller
than Elizabeth, but her delicately beautiful face was wasted and pale,
except for two pink spots on her cheeks.  Miss Gordon was just behind
her.  She had not grown much older looking in the past few years, and
unconsciously had lost some of her stately rigidity.  She looked
extremely handsome, her face flushed and alight with happiness.  She
did not kiss the visitors, except Baby Jackie, but her eyes shone with
welcome.  As she greeted John, she laid one hand for a moment on his
shoulder.  She looked at him closely, noting with pride the new air of
gentility even one year at college had given the boy.  But as she took
Annie's boy into her arms Miss Gordon's face grew positively sweet.

She had not the privilege of bearing the precious bundle far.  Sarah
Emily, who had rushed back to the house to don a clean apron, met her
at the door, and snatching the Vision fled upstairs with him, inquiring
loudly of the blessed petums if it wasn't just Sarah Emily's ownest,
darlingest love.

Mr. Gordon came hurrying in from the field, and after he had made them
all welcome over again, he followed John about in a happy daze, saying
again and again that if only Mary and Malcolm were here--no, no, Archie
and Lizzie--tuts, it was Malcolm and Jean he meant,--if they were only
home now, the family would be complete--"almost complete," he added.
And then his eyes once more took on their far-away look, and he slipped
away into the study, whither Elizabeth softly followed him.

In the late afternoon the younger boys came home from school, and the
excitement had to be all lived through again.  They all wandered about
the old house, everyone following in the wake of the baby.  The Dale
rooms were not the bare, echoing spaces they once were.  Just two years
before, Cousin Griselda had passed quietly away, and her little
annuity, as well as the property in McGlashan Street, had passed to
Miss Gordon.  The latter had experienced much real grief over her loss,
and had taken pains in the intervening time to impress upon all her
family that this bereavement was part of the sacrifice she had
deliberately made for them.  Nevertheless, the Gordons had benefited
some from the slight addition to their income, and there were many
comforts in the big stone house which had been absent in the early
days.  Early in the evening Mother MacAllister and Charles Stuart came
over, and Granny Teeter returned their visit, bringing with her Auntie
Jinit McKerracher, who had dropped in.  Elizabeth and Mary and Sarah
Emily, when they were not quarreling over who should nurse Baby Jackie,
managed to set the table for a second late tea.  A grand tea it was
too, with the big shining tablecloth Aunt Margaret had brought from the
Old Country, and the high glass preserve dish that always had reminded
Elizabeth in her early years of the pictures of the laver in the
tabernacle court.  It was a great day altogether, and Elizabeth enjoyed
so much the old joy of straying down the lane and over the fields with
John and Charles Stuart, that when John Coulson drove up to the door,
and Annie with the Vision, once more a bundle of shawls, was put into
the carriage, she was glad she was to remain at home till Monday.

The Coulson family drove away, with a bunch of early Dale rhubarb, and
green onions, under the carriage seat, along with a fresh loaf of
Mother MacAllister's bread, and a roll of Auntie Jinit McKerracher's
butter, and a jar of Granny Teeter's cider.  When they were gone, John
went into the study for a talk with his father alone, and Elizabeth and
Mary repaired to their little room to discuss the week's doings.  It
was not the bare room it once was; the girl's deft hands had decorated
it with cheap but dainty muslin curtains, pictures, and bric-a-brac.
Elizabeth went down on her knees to clear out a bureau drawer for the
clothes she had brought.

She laughed as she brought up some old treasures.  Here was a pair of
white pillow covers that Mrs. Jarvis had sent her on her thirteenth
birthday.  There was a motto outlined on each, and silk threads for
working it had accompanied the gift.  But Elizabeth had finished only
one, and put a half-dozen stitches into the other.  "Look at those!"
she cried, half-laughing, half-ashamed, as she hung them over a chair.
"I wonder when I'll ever get them finished."  Mary picked them up, and
examined them.  "You really ought to do them, Lizzie.  They'd be so
pretty for our bed done in the pale blue silk."  She read the mottoes
aloud, "I slept and dreamed that life was beauty," and the second, "I
awoke and found that life was duty."  "It's just like you to drop a
thing in the middle and not finish it."  Mary was growing more like her
Aunt Margaret every day in her stately prim manner.

"I didn't drop it in the middle, Miss Wiseacre," said her sister.
"Can't you see I started the Duty one.  It's ten stitches past the
middle!"  She caught them up, bound "the beauty one" about her head,
stuck the other into her belt for an apron, twisted her face up into a
perfect imitation of Auntie Jinit McKerracher, and proceeded to give
Mary the latest piece of gossip, in a broad Scotch accent, ending up as
Auntie Jinit always did, "Noo, ah'm jist tellin' ye whit ah heered, an'
if it's a lee, ah didna mak it!"

Mary laughed till the tears came.  Lizzie was so absurd and so funny.
But the fit of laughter at her antics brought on a fit of coughing, and
a voice called from the foot of the stairs--"Mary, Mary, are you
sitting up in that chilly room?  Come right down to the stove at once."

Mary went coughing down the stairs, and Elizabeth listened unconcerned.
Mary had always been coughing and always been chased to the stove ever
since she could remember.  She folded her head-dress and put it into
the drawer.  She glanced at its inscription, "I slept and dreamed that
life was beauty."  She was sleeping these happy days, and dreaming too
that life was all joy.  The other pillow-cover slipped from her belt
and lay on the floor.  Her careless foot trampled it.  It was the one
that read, "I awoke and found that life was duty."  The significance of
her unconscious act did not reach her.  She hummed a gay song learned
at school, as she crammed the pieces of embroidery into a drawer.  They
were merely embroidery to Elizabeth, and so was life.  She had not yet
read the inscription traced over it by the finger of God, and knew not
its divine meaning.

But in the silence of the little room, the remembrance of Dr.
Primrose's fell message suddenly returned.  It was the first time she
had recalled it all that long, happy day.  Well, there was no use
worrying, she concluded philosophically.  Sufficient unto the day was
the evil thereof, and she ran down the stairs singing.

The summer holidays soon came, and Elizabeth left Cheemaun under a
cloud.  She had failed, while the rest of the family had succeeded.
Everyone came home bearing laurels but her, and her aunt keenly felt
the one shadow over the family glory.

Nevertheless, for Elizabeth the vacation passed gayly.  She seemed to
be the only one who did not grieve over her lack of success.  She was
indeed the only really Gay Gordon, so studious and hard-working had
they all become.

Elizabeth somehow seemed the only one also who managed to play all the
time.  She had the faculty of turning everything into play.  John hired
with Tom Teeter for the summer, and Charles Stuart toiled all day in
his own fields.  Jean came home laden with books, and studied both
night and day.  Even Malcolm in his two weeks' vacation busied himself
in the garden with his father.  But Elizabeth seemed to have no
definite place assigned her in the domestic economy.  Mary had such
light duties as her health permitted, but she refused all her sister's
offers of assistance.  Lizzie was sure to get the darning all tangled
and spoiled, and if one left her any sewing to do, one might see her
next moment chasing Jamie down the lane, with the unsewed article left
hanging over a raspberry bush.  Yes, Lizzie was no good, as Sarah Emily
declared when she ventured into the kitchen, and the only time she
appeared at an advantage was during Annie's weekly visits when she
excelled everyone in her care of the baby.  Even her aunt had to admit
her superiority here.  She was as careful, as wise and responsible as
Miss Gordon could wish, and she often wondered how the reckless,
nonsensical girl could be so suddenly transformed.  But then Miss
Gordon was still far from understanding her niece.

Elizabeth's days were very full in spite of her idleness.  There were
her weekly visits to Mother MacAllister, frequent calls on poor Susie
lying in pain on her hard bed, and even an occasional call upon Rosie
away down in Forest Glen.  Rosie hailed Elizabeth's visits with
delight, though she was too busy to return them.  The Carricks were
toiling night and day, sewing, and preserving fruit, and "hooking" mats
and quilting quilts.  For in the fall, just at the season when a
wedding trip to the Toronto Autumn Exhibition was looked upon as the
most fashionable social departure in the countryside, Rosie and Hector
McQueen, who had never outlived the days of chivalry, were to be
married!  It made Elizabeth feel old and queer and dreadfully sorry for
Rosie all at one moment just to think about it.

Elizabeth was sometimes possessed with the feeling that she was outside
everybody else's life.  Of course there was John.  He was her chum and
her soul's companion, but the rest of the family seemed to live in a
world full of interests into which she could not enter.  Jean was
burning with ambition.  She talked only of her studies, of her progress
and aspirations in the teaching profession, and of Miss Mills, with
whom she studied.  Miss Mills was a mathematical wonder, Jean declared,
but in Elizabeth's opinion, she was a tough mathematical problem
clothed in partially human flesh.  She wondered much at Miss Mills, and
at Jean too, and tried to catch her enthusiasm.  But she could see
nothing in Jean's life over which to grow enthusiastic.

Another person who seemed to have grown away from her was Charles
Stuart.  The Pretender had changed within the last few years.  He was a
tall, broad-shouldered young man now, and his dark eyes did not dance
so mischievously in his handsome face.  They wore something of the
expression of dreamy kindness that lay in the depths of his mother's
gray eyes.  He was generally very quiet too, given to sitting alone
with a book, and Elizabeth often found him dull and stupid.

Mother MacAllister sometimes seemed worried over him, and Elizabeth
wondered much what could be the reason.  Had the Pretender been wild
and bad as he used to be she could have understood, but he seemed so
quiet and steady.

One evening she came near divining the reason for her anxious looks.

Elizabeth still kept up her Saturday afternoon visit to Mother
MacAllister, and to-night they had had the blue dishes for tea.  As she
wiped them and arranged them on the high shelf of the cupboard, Mother
MacAllister went down cellar to attend to her milk.  Elizabeth finished
her work and picked up a book Charles Stuart had left on the window.
It was a theological work, and as Mother MacAllister came out of the
cool cellar, the girl looked up joyfully.

"Then Stuart is going to be a minister after all, is he?"

The mother's beautiful eyes grew eager, hungry.  "Would he be saying
that to you, lovey?" she asked in a half-whisper.

"No.  But this book; it's a theological work.  I thought from it----"
Elizabeth's heart was touched by the expression on Mother MacAllister's
face.  It had grown very sad.  She glanced at the book and shook her
head.  "No, no, dearie," she said, and there was a quiver in her voice
that made the girl's heart contract.  "I am afraid it is books like
that one that will be keeping young men away from the truth."

Elizabeth patted her arm in silent sympathy.  She knew Mother
MacAllister's great ambition for her boy.  And Charles Stuart was such
an orator too--it seemed too bad.  She picked up the book again,
glancing through it, and thought surely Mother MacAllister must be
mistaken.  It seemed such an entirely good sort of book, like
"Pilgrim's Progress," or something of that sort.

"What are you going to be?" she asked as Charles Stuart walked home
with her in the golden August, evening along Champlain's Road.

"I don't know," said the young man.  "Sometimes I think I'd like to go
in for medicine.  But my four years in Arts will put me hopelessly
behind John.  I really haven't decided what I'll do."

"I remember you used to be divided between the ministry and veterinary
surgery," reminded Elizabeth.

He laughed.  "I think there is about equal chances between them still,"
he said, and Elizabeth's older self saw he did not wish to pursue the
subject.  She was very sorry for Mother MacAllister, but on the whole
she still thought Charles Stuart was wise in choosing some less
exacting profession than the ministry.

But the joyous holidays, driving over the country with John and Charles
Stuart, wandering on berry-picking tramps with Archie and Jamie, or
spending hours of adoration before the Vision, could not last forever.
Malcolm's departure after his short vacation saw the beginning of the
end.  The last week of August came and Jean packed her books and went
back to her teaching, her studies, and her beloved Miss Mills.  And
then September ripened into October, and college days had come.

As the day of the boys' departure approached, Elizabeth felt as though
she had come to the end of all things.  Her own High School days were
over, ended in failure; she was not needed at home, she was no use away
from home, and she had a vague feeling that she was not wanted anywhere.

The night before the boys left, Charles Stuart came over to say
good-by, and before he went home Mr. Gordon led family worship.  He
read the 91st Psalm, that one he always chose for the evening reading
the night before any of his loved ones left the home nest.  He had read
it often by this time, but it never lost its effect upon the young
people's hearts.  It made a grand farewell from the father to his
children, a promise to both of perfect security in the midst of all
dangers.


"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide
under the shadow of the Almighty....  Surely He shall deliver thee from
the snare of the fowler and from the noisome pestilence.  He shall
cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shall thou trust....
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow
that flieth by day....  For He shall give His angels charge over thee
to keep thee in all thy ways."


The spell of the wonderful words was still over the young folks' hearts
as Elizabeth and John walked up the lane with Charles Stuart.  The
latter was particularly quiet.  Elizabeth had noticed that his eyes
were moist and his voice very husky when he had bidden her father
good-by.  She herself was very, very sad and lonely to-night, and the
weird beauty of the moonlit valley only added to her melancholy.

The night was still young, and up above the Long Hill there lingered
the gold and pink of the sunset.  Above the black pines of Arrow Hill a
great round moon hung in the amethyst skies.  And low over the valley
there stretched a misty veil of gold and silver, a magic web woven by
the fingers of the moonrise held out in farewell to touch the fairy
hands of the sunset.  It was such a night as could intoxicate
Elizabeth.  As the boys stood making arrangements for their early
morning drive to Cheemaun, she leaned over the gate and looked down the
long ghostly white line of Champlain's Road, hearing only the soft
splash of the mill water-fall coming up through the scented dusk.  She
scarcely noticed Charles Stuart's farewell; nor his lingering
hand-clasp.  When he was gone she went upstairs to her room, and long
after Mary and the rest of the household were asleep, she sat by the
window.  And for the first time she strove to put on paper the thoughts
that were surging in her heart, demanding expression.

Elizabeth had written many, many rhymes, but they had all been gay and
nonsensical.  She had never tried before to express a serious thought.
And to-night, she did not guess that her success was due to the fact
that her heart was aching over the parting with John.



CHAPTER XII

LEFT BEHIND

And so the barque Elizabeth was left stranded while the stream of
progress swept onward, bearing her friends.  After the boys had left,
the languorous October days passed very slowly at The Dale, and
Elizabeth's energies of both body and mind soon began to cry out for a
wider field of activity.

She was hourly oppressed with a sense of her own uselessness, a feeling
her aunt's aggrieved manner tended to foster.  Her heart smote her as
she saw everyone at work but herself.  She tried to help her father
with his township affairs, but he met all her offers of assistance with
his indulgent smile, and the remark that little girls could not
understand business, and she must not bother her head.

Neither could she find any regular occupation about the house.  Sarah
Emily, who had conceived a great respect for Elizabeth since she had
been living in the town, refused to let her soil her hands in the
kitchen.  It was too much of a come-downer, she declared, for a lady
educated away up high the way Lizzie was to be sloppin' round with an
apron on.  Why didn't she sit still and read books, the way Jean did?

And Sarah Emily's will was not to be disputed.  She was even more than
usually independent these days, for without doubt a real suitor for her
hand had appeared at The Dale kitchen.  He was none of those "finest
young gents as ever was seen," that existed only in Sarah Emily's
imagination; but a real, solid, flesh-and-blood young farmer, none less
than Wully Johnstone's Peter, now the eldest son at home, and to whom
the farm was to eventually fall.  Since Peter had openly avowed his
intentions, Sarah Emily had been thrown into alternate fits of ecstasy
over her good fortune,--which she strove to hide under a mask of
haughty indifference--and spasms of dismay over the wreck she was
making of poor Tom Teeter's life.  That Tom was in a frightful way, she
could not but see; for, as she confided to Elizabeth, it fairly made
her nerves all scrunch up to hear him sing that awful doleful song
about wishin' she would marry him.

Elizabeth suggested to her aunt, that as Sarah Emily was likely soon to
give notice finally and forever, that she should be the one to take up
the burden of the housekeeping.  But Miss Gordon seemed unwilling that
Elizabeth should find any settled place in the household.  Mary was
quite sufficient help, she said, and when Sarah Emily left of course
another maid must succeed her.  There really was nothing for Elizabeth
to do, she added, with a grieved sigh.

She was equally averse to any proposition on the part of the girl to go
away and earn her own living.  Now that there was no hope of her ever
becoming a school-teacher, Miss Gordon said, with a heavier sigh than
usual, there was really no other avenue open for a young lady that was
quite genteel.

And then Elizabeth would sigh too, very deeply, and wish with all her
soul that she had had just sufficient mathematics in her head to meet
the requirements of the cast-iron system of the Education Department,
which unfortunately required all heads to be exactly alike.

Meanwhile, her nature being too buoyant to allow her to fret, she
managed to put in the days in a way that made even her aunt confess
that the old house was much brighter for her presence.  Mary was her
constant companion, glad of any contingency that kept Lizzie near her.
But beyond the home-circle she found little congenial friendship.

She visited Mother MacAllister once a week, of course, and was some
real help to her, as she was to poor Susie Martin.  But she had
outgrown her schoolmates, or grown away from them, even had her aunt
approved of her associating with them.  The Price girls had spent all
their father's substance in riotous dressing, and were now in domestic
service in Cheemaun.  Rosie was living away up north on the McQueen
farm, a new, practical, careful money-making little Rosie.  And Martha
Ellen Robertson even was gone.  Martha Ellen was married and now lived
on an Alberta ranch and had many gold watches and all the dresses she
could desire.  The only familiar sight in Forest Glen for Elizabeth was
Noah Clegg.  He was still superintendent of the Sunday school, still
wore the same squeaky Sabbath boots, and though he had never quite
regained his old-time cheerfulness since the day his assistant left, he
still smilingly urged his flock to "sing up an' be 'appy."

Elizabeth often wondered what had become of old Sandy and Eppie.  She
had not quite outgrown her childish desire to right poor Eppie's
wrongs, and often, even yet, she told herself that some day she would
intercede with Mrs. Jarvis, and Eppie would be brought back to Forest
Glen.

But in spite of her buoyant nature Elizabeth was not happy.  Great new
aspirations were springing up in her heart.  She had submitted to a
well-known magazine her little verses, born of that night of moonrise
and sunset, when the boys said good-by.  They had not been accepted,
but the reviewer, a lady of some insight, had written the young poetess
a long and encouraging letter.  Miss Gordon must read and study nature,
she advised, and she would do something some day.  So Elizabeth tried
to obey.  Studying nature was like breathing and came very easily, and
reading was always a joy; but she grew restless in spite of it all, not
knowing what was the matter with her.

"I wish I could go away and do something, John Coulson," she said to
her brother-in-law on an afternoon which he and Annie and the baby were
spending at The Dale.  "I'm no use here.  I have horrible suspicions
that I'm a cumberer of the ground."

"You're surely not going to develop into a new woman, Betsey," said
John Coulson with alarm.  "One never knows which way the wild streak is
going to shoot off next."

Elizabeth was kneeling by the old dining-room sofa, upon which the
Vision rolled from side to side, waving his bare pink toes in the air.
She had just been busy saying over for the fifth time, "Dis 'itty pig
went to market," and had evoked such gurgles and coos and giggles from
the owner of the "'itty pigs," that it was hard to give her attention
elsewhere.

"Maybe I am," she said at last, looking up at him with serious gray
eyes.  "I don't know.  But I do know I don't want to sit on a cushion
and sew a fine seam forever and ever like the lady in Baby's book.  The
rest are working hard.  I wonder if I couldn't earn my living somehow."

John Coulson looked at her gravely.  He generally treated his young
sister-in-law as a joke, but evidently she wanted to be taken seriously.

"What do you think you would like to be?" he asked gently.

Elizabeth chucked the Vision under the chin, rolled him from side to
side, and kissed each separate dimple in his plump hand before
answering.

"Oh, I don't care.  I'd just as soon be one thing as another."

"Well, well," John Coulson's eyes twinkled again.  "Have you no
ambition at all, Betsey Bobbett?"

Elizabeth looked across at him, her eyes half-veiled by her long
lashes, in that way she had when she wished to hide her thoughts.  The
forced reticence of her childhood had grown to be a fixed habit, and
for all her love for her brother-in-law, which had grown steadily with
the years, she could not confide in him.  For Elizabeth had ambitions,
though her aunt would have found it hard to believe in them.  They were
quite as radiant as her old dreams of Joan of Arc, though different.
They were such conflicting aspirations, too, that she was puzzled by
them herself.  She was filled with vague golden dreams of one day
overturning the world and righting all wrongs, and making all Eppies
rich and Susies happy, and giving all Mother MacAllisters their
rewards.  And side by side with these glorious visions lived the
desire, very real and very deep, to be like Estella Raymond and have a
half-dozen boys expiring for love of her.  Elizabeth would have died
rather than confess this wish--even to herself.  Nevertheless, it was
there, and back of it lay another, still hazy, but also very real, the
ambition to be an Annie and have a John Coulson and a brick house with
white pillars and a Vision lying on a sofa waving ten pink rosebud toes
in one's face.  But these were things one would not breathe, so
Elizabeth answered lightly.

"I guess I haven't--much.  I think I'd like to teach school--maybe.  At
least I'd like it just as well as anything else, but you see I can't,
now."

"My, but you're enthusiastic.  But isn't there something you'd like
better than anything else?"

Elizabeth's long lashes drooped again.  That was forbidden ground.  She
shook her head, and poked the Vision's ribs until he screamed with
laughter.

"Some of the girls in your class have gone to Toronto to learn nursing.
Would you care about that?"

"I suppose that would do to earn my own living; only John makes me sick
when he talks about operations.  Look, Sweetie; pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake,
baker's man."

"I suppose you wouldn't like to hammer a typewriter in my office?  I
need a girl, but perhaps Aunt Margaret wouldn't think it was genteel."

"That would do, if I wouldn't bother you too much; and I'd just love to
be with you, John Coulson, only--oh, oh, look at the darling pet
swallowin' him's own pinky toes.  Oh, John Coulson, just look!"

John Coulson laughed indulgently.

"Oh, Betsey!" he said in despair, while his eyes were very kind,
"you're no use in the world.  We'll just have to get you married."

Nevertheless, he thought much about the girl after his return home and
talked over her case with his wife.  "Send her a note and tell her to
come here for a week," was his final decision.  "We must do something
for the poor kid."

So Annie very willingly wrote her sister, and on the day her letter
arrived at The Dale Elizabeth received another.  This one was from
Estella.  It was an ecstatic letter, as everything emanating from
Estella generally was.  It chronicled page after page of her trials
with her beaux.  An embarrassment of riches was what troubled Estella.
She did wish Beth would come to Cheemaun and take some of them off her
hands.  But of course Beth didn't care about boys, she had forgotten.
Madeline Oliver was just as bad, boys never looked near her.  And
speaking of Madeline, what did Beth think?  Since they'd left school
she had been putting on frightful airs, and was just perfectly,
dreadfully horrid to all the girls except the Annsleys and the
Delafields and a few others of those nobs on Sunset Hill.  Madeline
seemed to forget she'd ever known half her old chums.  And Mrs. Oliver
gave Bridge parties in the afternoon now, and didn't ask half the
people she used to ask.  And it was all on account of Mrs. Jarvis.  She
had just come back from the Old Country, and the Olivers were making a
terrible fuss about her.  They said she intended to spend the winter in
California, and Madeline was working to get taken with her.  And the
Olivers had given a great big reception last week for Madeline's coming
out, and such airs Beth never saw, and Mrs. Jarvis was there dressed
like a queen.  And she, Estella, had asked Madeline if she wasn't going
to ask Beth Gordon to her party, seeing she'd been called for Mrs.
Jarvis, and Madeline just tossed her head and said, "Oh, Aunt Jarvis
never thinks about her now."  And Horace was there; it was down in the
ice-cream parlor where Frank Harper had taken her--really, he was
getting perfectly awful he called so often--and Horace spoke up and
said he bet his Aunt Jarvis would just like jolly well to see Beth, and
he'd a good mind to drive out and fetch her in; and Madeline looked
crosser than ever.  And so now, here was Estella's plan.  She was just
going to show Madeline Oliver, see if she wasn't!  She was going to
"come out," and mamma was going to give a reception--one far bigger and
grander than the Olivers' had been, too.  And they were going to ask
Mrs. Jarvis, of course, and Mrs. Oliver daren't refuse because papa had
a hold on Mr. O. in business, and the whole family would just have to
come.  And darling Beth was to come, too--with Mrs. Coulson, and wear
her white dress and the blue bows in her hair, and Mrs. Jarvis would
see her, and be certain sure to love her.  She couldn't help it.  And
between them they'd spite that nasty Madeline, see if they wouldn't.
Horace himself had said he knew his aunt would like to see Beth.  He
told her that, going home one evening from choir practice.  Horace had
done that twice, and Frank Harper and Will Drummond were both just wild
about it.  But of course there was nothing at all between her and
Horace, and if Beth minded the tiniest bit she'd never speak to him
again as long as she lived, etc., etc.

The letter went on in this strain for many more pages.  Elizabeth
laughed and handed it to her aunt, anticipating some fun when Miss
Gordon gave her opinion of it.  But to Elizabeth's intense surprise the
lady made no comment upon the writer's manners and heartily approved of
her niece accepting the invitation.  Elizabeth had fully expected
Estella to be pronounced entirely ungenteel, and no sort of person to
associate with a Gordon.  But Elizabeth did not yet understand her
aunt, any more than her aunt understood her.

So very joyfully an acceptance of both invitations was written, and
Miss Gordon helped Elizabeth prepare for her visit to Annie's with hope
once more rising in her heart.  Surely, surely, upon this occasion,
this one unsuccessful member of her family would grasp opportunity
before he passed her for the last time.

They were debating as to how Elizabeth was to reach town, for both the
gray horse and the old phaeton were now tottering on the verge of
dissolution, when Auntie Jinit McKerracher came across the brown shaven
fields, to make a call and an offer.  Auntie Jinit had heard of
Elizabeth's proposed visit to Cheemaun, for the lady knew minutely the
downsitting and the uprising of everyone in the valley.  She, too, was
bent on a journey thither, on the morrow,--on important business, she
said mysteriously,--and she invited Elizabeth to accompany her.

The offer was gladly accepted, though Miss Gordon would have preferred
that her niece make a more dignified entry into the town than could be
accomplished in Wully Johnstone's old buck-board with the bunch of hay
sticking out behind, and Auntie Jinit leaning far forward slapping the
old gray mare with the lines.  But little cared Elizabeth.  She was
going on a tour into the unknown--she was to enter Cheemaun society,
and it mattered little to her how she got there, she was sure to have a
good time.

The day they set out was a glorious October morning, warm and bright,
with a hint of that soft blue-gray mist on the horizon which in the
afternoon would clothe the landscape in an amethyst haze.  Auntie
Jinit's old gray horse ambled along easily, and Elizabeth gave herself
up to hilarity.  To go abroad with Mrs. McKerracher was to have one's
entertainment insured.  She was a highly diverting lady, with a
youthful twinkle in her eye contradicting the shining gray hair that,
parted demurely in the middle, waved down over her ears.  There was
youth, too, in her round plump face and the soft flush of her cheeks.
Plainly Auntie Jinit had been a pretty girl once and had not yet
outlived the memories of that potent fact.

As the white road dipped into the first hollow, where the crimson
leaves of the maples and the gold of the elms softly floated down from
the blue above, there arose from a barnyard on their right the sound of
loud, uproarious singing.

  "_Oh, and it's whippity whoppity too,
  And how I'd love to sing to you!
  I'd laugh and sing,
  With joy and glee,
  If Mrs.--ti-dee-dilly-dee-dilly-dee!_"


The singer had fortunately caught sight of the familiar gray horse,
with the accustomed bunch of hay sticking out behind, and had saved his
life by an adroit improvisation.  For Tom had been in the habit of
substituting another name for "Mrs. McQuarry," and though he might take
liberties with his neighbor across the way, well he knew the dire
consequences of taking Auntie Jinit's name in vain.

Elizabeth crumpled up with silent laughter; but either Mrs. McKerracher
did not notice, or designedly ignored the singer.  She was looking in
the opposite direction, examining with a critical eye the trim fields
of Jake Martin's prosperous-looking farm.

"Yon's no a place to be sneezed at, Lizzie," she remarked tentatively.

"The place is lovely, Auntie Jinit," Elizabeth returned, with marked
emphasis.  "Only--only----"

Auntie Jinit gave a little giggle.  There was a queer mixture of
girlish coquetry and masculine strength about her that was
disconcerting.  Elizabeth paused, afraid to go on.

Auntie Jinit gave her trim bonnet-strings a jerk, flapped the old gray
mare with the lines and began her confidences in a business-like manner.

"Ye're a wise lassock, Lizzie," she said, by way of introduction, "an'
ah'm gaun to hae a bit private crack wi' ye.  Ye're aunt's brocht ye up
weel, an' ah ken ah'm takin' nae risk in confidin' in ye.  Some o' the
neeighbors 'll be sayin' ye're a' that prood, but ah've always stood up
for the Gordons, an' said ye were nae mair prood than ye ocht to be.
Noo, aboot this business.  Ah wanted tae get yer help."  The girlish
manner had returned, she hesitated and gave Elizabeth a half-shy,
half-sly glance over her shoulder.  "It's aboot him--yonder, ye ken."
She jerked her thumb over her shoulder towards the receding farm-house.
"There's a pint o'--o' beesiness ah'd like ye tae see Maister Coulson
aboot, Lizzie--if ye would'na mind obleegin' an' auld neeighbor buddy."

Elizabeth's risibilities were nearly upsetting her composure.

"Yes," she faltered, "I--I'll do anything I can for you, and I'm sure
John Coulson will, too, in your--business."

"It's no jist what a buddy might ca' beesiness, exactly."  There was
another coquettish glance and a toss of the pink roses in Auntie
Jinit's bonnet.  "But it's a thing a lawyer buddy would ken a' aboot.
An' ye ken, lassie, a modest buddy like me disna like to talk aboot
sich like things to a--a man, hersel."  She gave another glance, quite
shy this time.  Her companion was silent, afraid to speak lest her
laughter break forth.  The contrast between Auntie Jinit's staid,
middle-aged appearance, and the gay, naughty glance of her eye was
almost too much for a frivolous person like Elizabeth.

"Ah want his advice, ye ken, because ah dinna ken jist whit's the best
to dae.  Ah ken whit ah want to dae,"--another coquettish toss of the
roses,--"but ah'm no so sure jist whit's best--aboot--merryin', ye ken."

"Yes," said Elizabeth faintly.

"He's tarrible took wi' me, mind ye,"--she looked archly at her
listener,--"but ah'm no sae saft as to be took wi' men, ma' lass.
Ah've seen lots o' them in ma' day."  She paused and smiled
reminiscently as though reviewing past conquests; and, looking at her
bright eyes and pink cheeks and the waves of her once abundant hair,
Elizabeth could not but imagine that many hearts lay strewn along
Auntie Jinit's past.

"Ye see, it's this way, lassock: Ah've jist got to mak' ma' way in the
warld.  Wully is a kind brither, but the hoose is too fu' already.  An'
the bairns are aye merryin' here an merryin' there, an' yon daft Peter
'll be bringin' yon harum-scarum girl o' yours in ane o' thae days--not
but that she's a guid honest lass, but ah dinna see whit he wants wi'
an Eerish thing like yon; an' the land jist owerrun wi' guid Scotch
lassies that ye ken a' aboot wha their faethers an' mithers were."

"But Sarah Emily will make Peter a fine wife, Auntie Jinit," exclaimed
Elizabeth loyally.  "Aunt Margaret has spared no pains to make her
clean and tidy and saving----"

"Hoots havers!  Ah ken yon.  But there's nae cleanin' nor scrubbin' nor
washin' that'll scour the Eerish oot o' a body, lass, mind ye that.
But niver mind her.  Ye see, when Wully an' Betsey gets auld ah'll be
left on their hands.  Aye, an' ah'll be auld masel then, and, it's high
time ah wes pittin' ma best fit foremost an' settlin' masel."  She
paused, and the shrewd, business-like air fell from her.  Her eyes grew
somber, she looked far away down the crimson and golden vista of
Champlain's Road.

"Ah'd no be left this way, lassie, gin ma' lad, Tam, had been spared
me.  He wes oor only bairn, an' ah sometimes think the Lord surely
micht a' left me him.  But He kens best," she sighed brokenly, "aye,
aye, He kens best.  But it wes a hard day for me the last time they
brocht ma Tam to me.  He'd jist gaed awa wi' the lads aefter his
supper, an' it wes no an oor, till they brocht ma bairnie hame drooned.
An' ah couldna even see his bonny face.  He'd fallen aff a bridge, an'
bruised it that bad.  Aye, aye,"--a big sigh came again
convulsively,--"an' his faether not deid a month.  Ma Tam wes sax feet
in his socks--a bonny lad, an' eh, eh, sik a guid laddie to his mither."

Elizabeth felt a lump rising in her throat.  She stroked the black
alpaca arm next her in silent sympathy.  Auntie Jinit fumbled in her
black leather bag, and brought out a neatly folded handkerchief with
which she wiped away the tear that had slipped down her cheek.  There
was a long silence.

"So ye see, Lizzie, lass," she said at length, her voice still thrilled
with the sorrow of her great motherless, "ye see, lassie, ah've naebody
but Wully an' Betsey to look to.  Ma Jeams left me a wee bit siller,
but it's no enough gin a wes pit oot in the warld, an' if Wully slips
awa' ah canna say whit'll happen--so ah must look for a hame, ye ken.
An' there's this ane ah kin have."  She tossed her head towards the
receding farm-house.  The coquettish all-sufficient air was returning.

"Oh, yes; but, Auntie Jinit," said Elizabeth very gently, "you
know--he--Mr. Martin, you know, he's a little--well, the neighbors say
he's rather disagreeable at home."

"Hits!" said Auntie Jinit lightly.  "He couldna be ony waur than the
man ah had.  Ah'm no feared but ah'll manage _him_."  She drew her
mouth up into a firm line, and Elizabeth looked at her, forced to
admiration.  Certainly Mrs. McKerracher was a many-sided woman--and one
perfectly capable of taking care of herself.  "But ah'm wantin' ye,
lassie," she lowered her voice, "jist to speak quiet like to Maister
Coulson.  Ah want to know jist how _he's_ fixed."  She pointed with her
thumb towards the big, red brick house of Jake Martin.  "He tells me
braw tales aboot his siller, but ah'm jalousin' he's no tae be trusted.
The first time he cam' sparkin', he tauld me he wes jist fufty-sax, an'
then ah catchet him up aboot hoo auld he wes the time he cam' to these
pairts, an' anither time ah got it oot o' him hoo lang yon wes afore
the railroad wes pit in to Cheemaun, an' a rin it up in ma mind, an' ah
calcalate he was saxty-siven.  Noo yon's a tarrible descreepancy, ye
ken, so ah says to masel, ah'll be up sides wi' ye, ma lad.  Naebody's
got the better o' Jinit Johnstone yet, an' naebody's gaun tae; an' ah
thocht Maister Coulson could jist tell me if the lads hae ony hand on
the ferm--lawyer bodies kens a' aboot thae things--an' whit a wife's
portion is, gin he should slip awa.  An' ax him tae, whit ma rights 'll
be.  Ah've got a buggie, ye ken, an' a coo o' ma ain', foreby a settin'
o' Plymouths, an' ah'm to have a horse, he says, to drive to
Cheemaun--ah got that oot o' him in writin' an' he didna ken whet ah
wes up to.  But ah'd like to ken jist hoo much ah'm to expact.  Ah'm no
goin' to leap an' look aefterwards."

Elizabeth listened with mixed feelings.  Auntie Jinit was not so much
to be pitied after all.  It would seem that Nemesis was after Jake
Martin all right; but suppose she caught Susie too, and the younger one
still at home?  What would become of Susie if her stepmother secured
her "rights"?

"I--I hope," she ventured hesitatingly, "that you'll get all you want,
Auntie Jinit, but poor Susie and Charlie have slaved there for years
and it would be cruel to turn them out."

The woman turned and looked at Elizabeth with a flash of her brilliant
eyes.  "An' d'ye think ah'd do yon?" she exclaimed indignantly.  "Eh,
eh, lassie, it's no Jinit Johnstone wad ill use a bairn.  If there's
onything we kin dae in this warld we suld dae it, and there's Jake
Martin's bairns need a mither if ever onybody did--aye, for they niver
had ane yit, ah misdoot--jist a pair drudge that hadna the spunk to
protect her ain.  But ah'm no that kind.  Aye, but ah'm no!"

Elizabeth, looking at her, could not doubt her--neither could she doubt
that Susie and the younger Martins would fare well at Auntie Jinit's
hands.

"What about church, Auntie Jinit?" she asked teasingly.  "Mr. Martin
won't go to Dr. Murray since Tom Teeter goes--you'll have to turn
Methody!"

The lady gave her a reassuring look out of the corner of her eye.  "No
likely," she said, with a setting of her firm mouth.  "Dinna ye fear
for me.  He's gaun to Maister Murray--an' no sik a late date neither."
She smiled slyly and her eyes twinkled.  "He ses tae me, ses he, 'Ah
dinna like ye in black,' ses he, 'Ah'd like to see ye in somethin'
that's mair spicy,' ses he.  An' ses ah, 'Weel, if ah hed a nice braw
husband to gang to the kirk wi' me foreby, it's a braw spicy goon ah'd
be wearin'--an' ah'm thinkin' o' gettin' a gray poplin the day, mebby.'
An' he's promised to come--gin ah merry him--but ah'm jist no sure yet."

It was impossible to describe the air of youthful coquetry and mischief
mixed with hard determination and assurance of triumphant power that
beamed in Auntie Jinit's eyes.  The most successful society belle,
accomplished in all the arts of refined flirtation, might have envied
her that glance.

Elizabeth arrived at Annie's white-pillared house bursting with mirth.
She described the interview to John Coulson at the mid-day meal in such
a diverting manner that he roared with laughter, and declared he would
undertake Auntie Jinit's cause and tie up Jake so tight financially
that he would never be able to spend five cents again without
permission.

Elizabeth took full possession of the Vision during her visit.  It was
well she was willing to accept the position of nurse, for he welcomed
her with leaps and squeals of joy, and wept loudly and bitterly
whenever she dared leave him.  His mother was relieved greatly by her
sister's help.  For Mrs. John Coulson was suffering from the chronic
housekeeping malady, an incompetent maid.  A faithful servant of two
years' standing had gone off in a temper the week before because her
mistress had announced that henceforth they should have dinner at six
o'clock in the evening.  Everyone on Sunset Hill had evening dinners
and Annie had long felt the disgrace of their mid-day meal.  But social
eminence, she discovered, was dearly bought, for the faithful Bella
immediately departed, declaring "she'd wash pots and pans for no living
woman on nights when her gentleman friends was calling."  Her successor
was a leisurely young lady with an elaborate dressing of hair, who
could not have got dinner a minute earlier than six o'clock in the
afternoon in any case, and the Coulsons were now fashionable and
uncomfortable.

During the week preceding Estella's reception, the young lady visited
Elizabeth frequently to report progress.  Preparations were going
forward on a grand scale, and the plan to "show the Olivers" had
expanded into "showing Cheemaun" what might be done in the way of an
up-to-date social function.

Others of Elizabeth's old schoolmates called, but Madeline Oliver was
not one of the number.  Horace, however, had not forgotten his old
allegiance, and often dropped in of an evening with a box of candy to
sit on the veranda with Elizabeth and tell her how badly his father was
using him in still keeping him at school.  When Elizabeth was perfectly
honest with herself she was forced to confess that Horace bored her,
and she wished he would stay away and let her play with Baby Jackie.
On the other hand, it was very nice to sit on their white-pillared
veranda with him and see the other girls pass.  For, as Estella had
pointed out, it was so poky and slow to be like Madeline Oliver and
never have a boy come near you, and whatever Beth did, she warned, she
was not to get like that.

"But boys don't like me," Elizabeth explained dolefully, "and Horace is
awfully tiresome; now, Stella, isn't he?"

"Why, no, I think he's heaps of sport if you just know how to take him,
Beth," Estella declared.  "But you don't know how to treat boys.  Now,
when you're sitting here on the veranda in the evening, and any of the
fellows pass, why don't you call to them, and ask them something, or go
down to the gate and talk about the lacrosse matches or the regatta.
All the boys like to talk sport.  You just try it."

But Elizabeth did not follow this wise advice.  It had quite the wrong
effect, for when she sat alone on the steps of an evening, and some of
her old boy schoolmates passed, the remembrance of Estella's
admonitions made her turn her back and pretend she did not see them, or
even rise and retreat indoors.  But she had plenty of company, for she
was very popular with her girl friends, and Horace saved her from
Estella's entire disapproval.

"I was telling Aunt Jarvis you were here, Beth," he said one evening as
he passed the chocolates to Mrs. Coulson.  Annie looked interested.  "I
suppose Mrs. Jarvis would not recognize Elizabeth now," she said
tentatively.

"She said she'd like to see her.  Why don't you come and call on aunt,
and bring her?" asked the boy.

But Mistress Annie knew better than that, and made some vague excuse.
She well knew that Elizabeth would not be a welcome visitor just now at
the house with the triple pillars.  And so the days went by, and though
the lady on whom Elizabeth's hopes were supposed to depend was only a
few streets away, she did not see her, and Mrs. Coulson, remembering
her aunt's admonitions, was forced to wait for the reception.



CHAPTER XIII

GETTING INTO SOCIETY AND OUT

At last the day of Estella's coming-out--the day Elizabeth was to meet
her fairy god-mother once more--arrived.  When the Vision was finally
tucked away into his crib for his afternoon nap, and the leisurely
young lady warned again and again to watch him carefully, Elizabeth
dressed in the required white gown with the blue ribbons, and, with
Annie looking very sweet and youthful in John Coulson's favorite shade
of dove-gray, set off down the shady streets towards the Raymond home.

It was a hot, still afternoon, one of those days that seem left over
from August which so often descend upon the coolness of October.  The
long rows of maples that bordered the street hung their scarlet banners
motionless in the sultry air.  The sky, a hazy warm blue, seemed much
nearer the earth than usual.  Away down at the end of each leafy avenue
Lake Cheemaun lay like a silver mirror.  As they crossed a dusty street
on the hilltop, Elizabeth could see a little crimson and golden island
reflected perfectly in the glassy depths.  Another street gave a
picture of a yellow elm, with an oriole's empty nest depending from a
drooping branch.  It hung over the roadway, making a golden curtain
through which gleamed the blue and silver.

Elizabeth sighed happily, and, as was her habit, fell into the mood of
the day, listless, languorous.  She strolled along, all unmindful of
the dust on her new slippers, and of Estella's reception, until her
sister recalled her to the business of the afternoon by declaring that
they must hurry, for they were already late.

"It's fortunate I wasn't asked to play cards, or we'd have to be there
sharp at four."

"I suppose Stella 'll turn it into a garden-party, won't she?" murmured
Elizabeth, gazing far down the street at a motionless sail on the
silver mirror--standing like a painted ship on a painted lake.  "It's
so lovely out of doors."

"A garden-party, oh, no!  That's dreadfully old-fashioned," said Annie
solemnly.  "No one in Cheemaun would dare to give one now.  This is to
be a Bridge--partially, but Mrs. Raymond is asking a great many other
people who are old-fashioned like me, and won't play, so they are to
come late and remain in the drawing-room while the players sit in the
library."

"It's like dividing the sheep from the goats," said Elizabeth
frivolously.  "Aren't you sorry just to be a sheep, Ann?  It's so
old-fashioned."  Annie laughed uncertainly.  She never quite understood
Elizabeth, and felt she ought to rebuke her frivolity.  "No, I'm not.
What would become of Baby if his mother----"

"Turned goat?  But say, I'd love to learn just to see what it was like
to go out every day and be a--what is it?--a social success.  I believe
that is what Aunt Margaret would like."

Annie rebuked her gently.  She was always just a little afraid of
Lizzie.  The wild streak seemed to be in abeyance lately, but it might
break out in a new form any day.

Their arrival at the Raymond home forbade her admonishing her at any
length.  It was a beautiful house--a fine red brick with white porch
pillars, of course, and surrounded by a spacious lawn dotted with
shrubbery and flower-beds.  Its only drawback was its position, it
being placed on the wrong side of Elm Crescent, the street bordering
Sunset Hill.  In consequence the Raymonds had suffered somewhat from
social obscurity, and this At Home was partially to serve the purpose
of raising them nearer the level of the proud homes on the hilltop.

Elizabeth became suddenly shy and nervous as she followed her sister up
the broad steps and saw the rooms crowded with fashionably dressed
people.  She was not generally conscious of her clothes, but she could
not help feeling, as she glanced over the sea of bonnets and hats and
white kid gloves, that her muslin dress and blue ribbons must look very
shabby indeed.  And somehow Annie had become transformed.  Upon
starting out she had appeared to be the very pattern of fashionable
elegance.  Now she looked like a demure little gray nun.  Elizabeth
felt that neither of them was likely to make any impression upon Mrs.
Jarvis, and began to hope devoutly that she would not meet the lady.

There seemed little fear of it.  The rooms were crowded and stifling
hot.  The Raymond house had plenty of doors and windows, but good form
in Cheemaun society demanded that all light and air be excluded from a
fashionable function.  So the blinds were drawn close, and Estella and
her mother stood broiling beneath the gas-lamps, for though the former
was half-suffocated with the heat, she would have entirely suffocated
with mortification had she received her guests in the vulgar light of
day.

By the time Elizabeth and her sister arrived, the sheep had been
thoroughly divided from the goats.  From the drawing-room on the left
side of the spacious hall a babel and scream of voices mingled with the
noisy notes of a piano poured forth, but in the library on the right
there was a deathly silence, except for the click, click of the cards
on the polished tables.

The guests were met at the door by an exceedingly haughty young woman
with a discontented face beneath a huge pompadour of hair.  "Will you
come upstairs and lay off your wraps?" she demanded frigidly.

"Why, Katie!" cried Elizabeth, recognizing her old schoolmate, even in
her unaccustomed garb of a black silk gown and white cap, "I'm so glad
to see you."

But Miss Price was not going to forgive Lizzie Gordon for being a guest
at a house where she was a servant.  Had their positions been reversed
Katie would have been quite as haughty and forbidding as she was now.
"How d'ye-do," she said, with an air her young mistress, now setting
her foot upon the social ladder, might well have envied.  "You're to go
upstairs," she commanded further.

"But we haven't anything to take off," protested Mrs. John Coulson,
nervously, afraid she was omitting some requisite part of the ceremony.
"We'd better not if Mrs. Raymond doesn't mind."

The young woman relaxed none of her haughtiness.  "She said to take
everybody up," she remarked disdainfully.

They were interrupted by a very large Hat coming violently out of the
library door.

"Goodness, it's not her!" gasped the occupant of the hat, a tiny woman
with a brisk, sharp manner.  She turned to the room again.  "No luck!
It's Mrs. Coulson."  She spoke as if Mrs. Coulson had made a mistake in
coming.  "You didn't see that Mrs. Oliver on your way down, did you?"
she demanded of the unwelcome one.

No, they had not seen her.  Mrs. Coulson answered apologetically, and
the big Hat flounced back into the library and sat down heavily in its
chair.  The Hat was bitterly disappointed, and no wonder.  She had come
to the Function sure of the prize, being one of Cheemaun star players,
but had met with a succession of incompetent partners.  At present Mrs.
Oliver, a fine old Bridge warrior, should have been sitting opposite
her, but Mrs. Oliver was late, which was criminal, and the Hat's
partner was a nervous young matron who had left two sick babies and her
wits at home.  Consequently the aspirant for the prize had lost game
after game and was now losing her temper.  One of her opponents, a
frivolous lady whose score-card was decorated with green stars, giggled
and whispered to the hapless partner not to mind, the Hat was only an
old crank anyway; old maids always got like that.  She would have
continued in the same strain but for a look of deep rebuke from her own
partner.  The partner was a stately, middle-aged lady, a president of
the Cheemaun Whist Club, and a second Sarah Battle.  She had suffered
much from the silly inattention of the winner of the green stars, she
frowned majestically, not because she objected to the young woman's
condemnation of the Hat, but because she considered it much worse form
to talk during a game of cards than during prayers in church.

Again deep silence fell, and they all went furiously to work once more
in the breathless heat.

Elizabeth was very much interested, but Mrs. John Coulson drew her away
towards the palm and fern-embowered door of the drawing-room.  She was
somewhat disappointed at the news of Mrs. Oliver's non-appearance, for
that meant that neither was Mrs. Jarvis present.  The fates did seem to
be against Lizzie certainly.

They were once more delayed.  A couple of ladies who had just entered
were about to make their way to the drawing-room door, but had been
encountered by Miss Price, and a rather heated argument was in
progress.  The ladies belonged to the old school, and were not
acquainted with the intricacies of a fashionable function.  The
foremost was a fine, stately matron who had been Sarah Raymond's stanch
friend ever since the days when they had run barefoot to school
together.  And while under her sensible black Sabbath bonnet there
still remained much warm affection and sympathy with all Sarah's
doings, at the same time there was developing not a little impatience
with what she termed Sarah's norms.  She had just caught sight of the
card-players in the library, too, and was righteously indignant that
she, an elder's wife, should have been bidden to such a questionable
affair.  So she had not much patience left to waste on Miss Price when
that haughty young lady insisted upon her going upstairs.  "We've
nothing to take off, young woman," she declared at last; "can't you see
that?  Do you want us to undress and go to bed?"  And with that she
brushed Katie aside and proceeded on her way.  A dapper little man in a
dress-suit, the only man anywhere in sight, popped out from behind a
great palm and demanded, "Name, please, madam?"  Elizabeth regarded him
with awe.  He represented the zenith point of Estella's ambition.  They
always had such a functionary at swell receptions in the city, she had
explained to Elizabeth, a man who announced the names of the guests to
the hostess.  No one had ever had anything so magnificent in Cheemaun.
Of course he had to come up from Toronto to do the catering anyway,
because Madeline had had him at her reception, and Estella was going to
go just a little farther, and didn't Beth think it was a perfectly
splendid idea--so grand and stylish?

Beth supposed it was.  But of what use would he be.  "I thought a man
like that was to tell the hostess the names because she wouldn't know
them," she had ventured very practically.  "But you know every cat and
dog in Cheemaun, Stella."

Stella was disgusted with Beth's obtuseness.  "Style was the thing
after all," she explained.  "People who gave social functions never
bothered about whether things were any use or not.  That wasn't the
point at all."

Elizabeth had not attempted further to see the point, as the Vision had
claimed her attention, and she now looked at the young man with some
pride.  Evidently Estella was doing things up magnificently.  But the
ladies whom he addressed were differently impressed.  Mrs. Colin
McTavish's patience was exhausted.  The idea of anyone in Sarah
Raymond's house asking her her name!  She looked down at the dapper
little man with disdain.  He was a forward young piece, she decided,
some uppish bit thing that was dangling after Stella, most likely.
"Young man," she said severely, "where's your manners?  Can ye no wait
to be introduced to a body?"

The young man looked alarmed.  He glanced appealingly at Mrs. John
Coulson, and Annie, with her more perfect knowledge of Estella's ways,
whispered tactfully:

"He wants to call out your names, Mrs. McTavish; he's doing it for
everybody."

Mrs. McTavish stared.  "And what for would he be shouting out my name?"
she demanded.  "If Sarah Raymond doesn't know my name by this time she
never will.  Come away, Margit," she added to her companion, and the
two passed in unheralded.

"Mrs. Coulson!  Miss Gordon!" piped the little man, and Elizabeth found
herself shaking hands with Mrs. Raymond and Estella.  Or was it Estella?

The young debutante, in a heavy elaborate satin gown, stood with a
fixed and anguished smile upon her face, squeezing the fingers of each
guest in a highly elevated position, and saying in a tone and accent
entirely unlike her old girlish hoydenish manner:

"How do you do, Mrs. McTavish, it was so good of you to come.  How do
you do, Mrs. Cameron, it was so good of you to come.  How do you do,
Mrs. Coulson, etc., etc."

A wild desire for laughter with which Elizabeth was struggling was
quenched by a feeling of pity.  She wondered how many hundred times
poor Estella had said those words during that long hot afternoon, and
wondered how long she herself could stand there in that awful heat and
repeat them in that parrot-fashion, ere the wild streak would assert
itself and send her flying out of doors.  Estella was made of wonderful
stuff, she reflected, admiringly.  Mrs. Raymond had succumbed long ago
and stood drooping and perspiring, scarcely able to speak, and quite
unable to smile.

Elizabeth felt queer and strange when Estella shook her two fingers
just as she shook everyone else's and with the same smile made the same
remark to her.  She tried to say something to bring back her old
schoolmate, but Estella turned to the next person and she found herself
shoved on.  And shoved on she was from that time forth, conscious only
of heat and noise and fag and a desire to get away.

She found herself at last, after having been shoved into the
dining-room for ice-cream, and shoved out again, packed into a corner
behind Annie.  The latter had been pinioned by a fat lady who, for the
last quarter of an hour, had been shouting above the din a minutely
detailed account of a surgical operation through which she had lately
come, omitting not one jot of her sufferings.  Elizabeth felt faint.
The rich sweetmeats of the tea-table, the heat, the noise, and the
lady's harrowing tale, were rendering her almost ill.  She looked about
her desperately.  Just behind her was a French window.  It was open,
but the heavy lace-bordered blind was drawn down to within a couple of
feet from the floor.  All unmindful of the conventionalities, Elizabeth
stooped and peeped out.  The breath of fresh air revived her.  The
sight of the garden, and beyond, the free stretch of the out-door world
went to her head like wine.  She jumped up, her eyes sparkling with a
sudden glorious thought.  One more glance around the buzzing hot sea of
flowery hats and white gloves made the thought a resolution.

"Ann!" she whispered recklessly, "I'm going to jump through this window
and run away!  I am so!"

"Lizzie!" gasped Mrs. Coulson in dismay.  The fat lady was still under
the surgeon's knife and talked on undisturbed.  Annie's heart sank.
One glance at the gleam in Elizabeth's eyes showed her the wild streak
was uppermost.  "What are you saying?" she faltered, but before she
could remonstrate further Elizabeth had acted.  With a lightning-like
motion she dropped upon her knees, and, fortunately concealed by the
crowd and the heavy curtains, she darted cat-like beneath the
window-blind and disappeared.

She found herself upon a secluded side of a veranda, and still on all
fours; she gave a mad caper across the floor, and staggered to her
feet, her hat flopping rakishly over one ear.

Then she stood, motionless with dismay.  Right in front of her,
half-reclining in a veranda chair, was a lady, a richly dressed lady of
very sedate appearance, who was gazing with startled eyes at the
tumultuous apparition.

"I--I  beg your pardon," gasped Elizabeth.  "But I couldn't stand it
another minute."

The two looked at each other for a moment, and then the stately woman
and the hoydenish girl, with one accord, burst out laughing.

Elizabeth flung herself upon a chair and rocked convulsively.

"It--it's the first time I've ever got into society," she said between
gasps; "and now I've gone and got out of it again."

"And a peculiar manner of exit you chose," said the lady, wiping her
eyes on a lace handkerchief.  "But I must confess I ran away too."

"You?" cried Elizabeth, amazed.

"Yes.  I came here with my niece, I am sure an [Transcriber's note:
line missing from source book?] hours ago.  She disappeared into the
card-room, and I slipped out here.  I didn't come in your original
manner, however."  She laughed again.

"I should think not," said Elizabeth, sitting up and straightening her
hat.  She was now quite at her ease, since the lady was proving so
delightfully sympathetic.  "I am afraid I'm not truly genteel, or I
shouldn't have bolted at my first sight of high life."

"How will you feel when you have been to hundreds of such affairs, all
exactly alike, I wonder?" asked the lady wearily.

Elizabeth shook her head.  "I couldn't stand it.  My aunt thinks I need
the refining influence of good society, but it doesn't seem to have had
that effect upon me," she added rather mournfully.

The lady laughed again.  "Well, as receptions go, it seemed to me a
very pretty one indeed, and Miss Raymond is a beautiful girl."

"Oh, Stella's lovely," cried Elizabeth enthusiastically, "and
everything is just grand, far more splendid than anything I ever saw
before.  You see, I never was at anything but a High School tea or
something of that sort," she added artlessly.  "But the refreshments
made me ill; really, I was quite sick."

The lady looked both amused and interested, and Elizabeth rattled on:

"You see, I got my ice-cream in a mould--a little chicken; what was
yours?"

"A rose, I think--some sort of flower."

"Oh, that would be lovely!--to eat a rose.  But mine was a chicken, and
before I thought I cut his poor little pink head off with my spoon.
And it reminded me of the day when we were little and my brother John
made me hold our poor old red rooster while he chopped his head off
with the ax, and of course it made me sick, and I just had to run away."

"You mustn't let your imagination play tricks with your digestion that
way."

"It shows that the refined part of me must be just a thin veneer on the
outside," said Elizabeth, her eyes twinkling.  "I don't believe my
insides are a bit genteel, or I'd never have thought of the rooster."

"Well, you are a treat," said the lady--"Miss--Miss--why, I don't even
know your name, child."

"It's Elizabeth Gordon," said the owner of the name, adding with some
dignity--"Elizabeth Jarvis Gordon."

"Elizabeth Jarvis Gordon!" repeated the lady, half-rising, an
expression of pleasure illuminating her face, "Why--surely, my little
namesake!  Don't you remember me?"

"Oh," cried Elizabeth, overwhelmed by the memory of her indiscretions.
"It isn't--is it--Mrs. Jarvis?"

"It really is!" cried the lady very cordially.  She drew the girl down
and kissed her.  "And I'm delighted to meet you again, Elizabeth Jarvis
Gordon, you're the most refreshing thing I've seen in years!"



CHAPTER XIV

WHEN LIFE WAS BEAUTY

No. 15, Seaton Crescent, Toronto, was a students' boarding-house.  Mrs.
Dalley, the landlady, declared every day of the university term that
they were the hardest set going for a body to put up with.
Nevertheless, being near the college buildings, she put up with them,
both going and coming, and No. 15 was always full.  A short street was
Seaton Crescent proper, running between a broad park which bordered the
college campus, and a big business thoroughfare.  At one end
street-cars whizzed up and down with clanging bells, and crowds of busy
shoppers hurried to and fro; at the other end spread the green
stretches of a park, and farther over stood the stately university.
buildings.  A street of student boarding-houses it was, and No. 15
stood midway between the clanging and the culture.

But Seaton Crescent presented much more than a double row of
boarding-houses.  Passing out of its narrow confines, it curved round
one side of the park bordered by a grand row of elms.  Here the houses
were mansions, set back in fine old gardens that had smiled there many
a summer before the boarding-houses were built.  The last house in the
row, Crescent Court, was of a newer date.  It was a pretentious
apartment house, set up on the corner commanding a view of the campus
and the park.  Just far enough removed from the boarding-house region
was Crescent Court to be quite beyond the noise of the street-cars and
the shoppers, and consequently its inmates felt themselves far removed
from the work-a-day world.

In one of its front rooms, a little rose-shaded boudoir, luxuriously
furnished, sat a lady.  She had been handsome once, but her face now
bore the marks of age--not the beautiful lines of years gracefully
accepted, but the scars of a long battle against their advance.  She
wore a gay flowered dressing-gown much too youthful in style, her
slippered toes were stretched out to the crackling fire, and a cup of
fragrant tea was in her hand.  Her cosy surroundings did not seem to
contribute much to her comfort, however, for her face had a look of
settled melancholy, and she glanced up frowningly at a girl standing by
the window.

"I sometimes think you are growing positively frivolous, Beth," she
complained.  "I don't understand you, in view of the strict religious
training both your aunt and I have given you.  When I was your age, all
church-work appealed strongly to me."

The girl looked far across the stretches of the park, now growing
purple and shadowy in the autumn dusk.  Her gray, star-like eyes were
big and wistful.  She did not see the winding walks, nor the row of
russet elms with the twinkling lights beneath.  She saw instead an
old-fashioned kitchen with a sweet-faced woman sitting by the window,
the golden glow of a winter sunset gilding her white hair.  There was
an open Bible on her knee, and the girl felt again the power of the
words she spoke concerning the things that are eternal.  She breathed a
deep sigh of regret for the brightness of that day so long ago, and
wondered if her companion's accusation was true.

"I didn't mean to be frivolous," she said, turning towards the lady in
the chair.  "I do want to be some use in the world.  But all the girls
who are getting up this new charitable society are--well, for instance,
Miss Kendall belongs."

"And why shouldn't she?  There's nothing incompatible in her being a
fine bridge-player and doing church-work.  You must get rid of those
old-fashioned ideas.  Take myself, for instance.  You know I never
neglect my social duties, and nothing but the severest headache ever
keeps me from church."

The wistful look in the girl's eyes was being replaced by a twinkle.
"But you know a Sunday headache is always prostrating," she said
daringly.

The lady in the deep chair looked up with an angry flash of her dark
eyes; but the girl had stepped out into the light of the fire,
revealing the mischievous gleam in her dancing eyes.  She knew her
power; it was a look the elder woman could rarely resist.  For with all
their vast differences in temperament there had grown up a warm
attachment between these two, since that day, now several years past,
when they had run away together from an afternoon tea.

The lady's frown faded; but she spoke gravely.

"Beth, don't be so nonsensical.  You know it is your duty to me--to
yourself, to join the Guild.  We have not established ourselves
socially yet.  Toronto is ruined by pandering to wealth.  I've seen the
day when the name of Jarvis was sufficient to open any door, but times
have changed, and we must make the best of it.  But you are culpably
careless regarding your best interests.  Now, I particularly want you
to cultivate Blanche Kendall; the Kendalls are the foremost people in
St. Stephen's Church, and if you join this society it will make your
position assured.  Only the best people are admitted.  Mrs. Kendall
assured me of that herself.  Now, don't trifle with your chance in
life."

"A chance in life?  That's what I've been looking for ever since we
came to Toronto," said the girl, gazing discontentedly into the fire.
"But I don't think it's to be found in St. Stephen's Church.  I hate
being of no use in the world."

The elder woman looked amused in her turn, now that she felt she was
gaining her point.

"You talk like a child.  Will you never grow up, I wonder?"

"Not likely," said the girl in a lighter tone.  She stepped across the
room and picked up a fur-lined cloak from a chair.  "My body got into
long dresses too soon, my soul is still hopping about with a sun-bonnet
on, and you really mustn't expect me to be proper and fashionable until
I've turned ninety or so.  Is there any reason why I shouldn't run over
and have dinner with Jean and the boys to-night?"

"Certainly there is.  Didn't I tell you Mr. Huntley is just back from
the West?  He's coming to dinner."

"But you won't want a frivolous person like me round.  He'll want to
talk business to you all evening."

"That doesn't matter.  You ought to be interested in my business.
Besides, he's a charming bachelor, so I want you to behave nicely."

"I couldn't think of it.  I feel sure I'd make a better impression if I
stayed away, anyway."  She was gathering the dark folds of her cloak
about her light evening dress as she spoke.  "He might feel embarrassed
if we met again.  The last time he laid his fortune at my feet and I
spurned it with scorn."

"What are you talking about, you absurd child?  Did you ever meet Blake
Huntley in Cheemaun?"

The girl came back to the fire, her eyes dancing.  "No, it was in
prehistoric times--at Forest Glen.  I remember I was dressed mostly in
a sunbonnet and the remains of a pinafore--and I think I was in
Highland costume as to shoes and stockings.  Mr. Huntley evidently felt
sorry for me and offered me a silver dollar, which was too much for my
Gordon pride.  Even Aunt Margaret approved of my refusing it, though
she felt it might have been done in a more genteel manner."

The lady in the lounging chair laughed, and her astute young companion
saw her chance.  "I'm going to run over and see Jean and the boys just
for five minutes," she said in a wheedling tone.  "I shall be back in
time for dinner."

"Well, see that you are."  The elder woman's voice had lost all its
fretfulness.  She looked quite pleased.  "You must remind Blake Huntley
of your former acquaintance.  What was he doing at The Dale?"

"He had come to see about"--the girl hesitated--"selling old Sandy
McLachlan's farm."  Her big gray eyes looked steadily and solemnly into
her companion's.

The lady poured herself another cup of tea.  She gave an impatient
shrug.  The old subject of Eppie Turner's wrongs had become unbearably
wearisome.  "Well, don't air any more of your romantic ideas concerning
her.  You'll never find her anyway.  And don't stay long at No. 15.
You go there so often I shall soon begin to suspect you have lost your
heart to that bonny Prince Charlie--he's handsome enough."

"Charles Stuart?"  The girl laughed aloud at the absurdity.  "The poor
Pretender!  Don't hint your horrible suspicions to him, please, he'd
never get over it."

"I'm glad you think it ridiculous.  In view of the chances you are
likely to have this winter, you'd be a fool to think of him.  I hope
you have some ambition, Beth."

The girl had turned away again and was carefully tucking a magazine
into the folds of her cloak.  Her long eyelashes drooped--that old
subject of her ambition was still forbidden ground.

"Yes, I have a burning ambition at this very minute to go and see Jean
and John," she said lightly, and whipping her cloak about her slim
figure she waved her hand in a gay farewell and danced away out of the
room.

The lady by the fire sighed.  "Was there ever such a monkey?" she said
to herself, and then she smiled.  And as the girl ran down the stairs,
she also sighed and said to herself: "I wonder how much longer I can
bear this life.  Pshaw, what does it matter anyway?"  And then she
laughed.

The short autumn day had closed and lights twinkled along the street
and blazed on the busy thoroughfare--violet electric stars half-hidden
high in the trees and golden gas lamps nearer the earth.  The glow of
one shone on the girl as she mounted the steps of No. 15 with a
graceful little run.  It showed her tall and willowy, lit up her sweet
face, and the gray, star-like eyes that looked out from beneath heavy
masses of nut-brown hair, and was reflected from them with a gleam as
of bronze.

She opened the door, as one familiar with the place, and hurried up the
steps of the stairs.

"I'm prowling round as usual, Mrs. Dalley," she called to the landlady
who was passing through the lower hall.

The woman's tired face brightened.  She liked this Miss Gordon and was
always glad when she dropped in to see her brother and sister.  She was
ever willing to listen to complaints concerning maids and medical
students.

"Dear, dear, it must be nice to be you, Miss Gordon," she sighed,
"nothing in the wide world to do.  I've been clear distracted this
afternoon with that new maid.  I dismissed her at last.  She would not
even carry the plates to the table properly, and as for the way she
washed the dishes!  Really, Miss Gordon, I tried to do my duty by her.
I scolded and explained till I was hoarse.  But I believe the hussy was
just stubborn.  I felt sorry to dismiss her, as it was Mr. MacAllister
who asked me to give her a trial.  Don't say anything to him about it,
please, Miss Gordon.  I hate to tell him I had to send her away."

Miss Gordon laughed.  "Has Mr. MacAllister turned into an intelligence
office?  Or is he squire of domestic dames?"  She retreated up the
stairs as she spoke.  It was not safe to get caught in the full tide of
Mrs. Dalley's talk, one might find a whole evening swept away by it.

"Charles Stuart is so queer," she soliloquized.  "I wonder what he's up
to now."

She tapped briskly upon a bedroom door at the head of the stairs, then
shoved it open.  A young woman with loose raiment, untidy hair, and a
green shade over her eyes looked up from her studies.  She raised a
book and aimed it threateningly.

"Lizzie Gordon, don't dare show your idle and frivolous head in this
place.  Miss Mills is coming down in five minutes, and we are going to
grind for an hour before tea."

"The mills of the Gordons grind at most inconvenient seasons," said the
visitor giddily.  She entered just as though she had been cordially
invited, concealing the magazine beneath her cloak.  "I'll stay until
the wheels begin to rumble, anyway.  Any letters from home?"  She
rummaged through the books and papers that littered the table, keeping
her magazine carefully hidden.

"Just that note from Malc.  He was home for Sunday.  Jamie's started to
the High School, and Archie's in John Coulson's office.  Is that really
another new dress, Lizzie?"

Elizabeth, absorbed in Malcolm's business flourishes, made no reply.
"Mrs. Jarvis spoils you," her sister continued.  "You've had your hair
done at the hair-dresser's again, I do believe.  Do you know that light
streak in it has almost disappeared, hasn't it?"

Elizabeth folded the letter.  The gray star-eyes were very tender.
"I'm so glad Mary's cough is better.  My hair?"  She patted the heavy
brown braids.  "Yes, of course.  That means that the wild streak is
gone.  I'm perfectly genteel, I assure you, Jean.  I left all my
improprieties scattered over the continent of Europe last summer, and
have come home prepared to give up all my penoeuvres."

"I wish you wouldn't use those foolish expressions of Sarah Emily's,
dear, they sound so illiterate."

Elizabeth put down the letter and gave her sister's ear a pull.

"Jean Gordon, you are becoming so horribly particular I'm scared of
you.  Every time I come over here I spend the day before getting out an
expurgated edition of everything I intend to say, and even then I fall
into rhetorical pits."

"You're hopeless," sighed Jean.  "What were you at to-day, a tea?"

"Yes, some kind of pow-wow of that sort.  I'm at one every day."  She
moved about the room straightening photographs and arranging cushions.
"Do you know, Jean, I'm so tired of it all I feel like running away
back home sometimes."

"Dear me, you don't know how fortunate you are.  You'd soon discover,
if you got home, that life at The Dale would be dreadfully monotonous."

"It couldn't be more monotonous than fashionable life.  Those
receptions are all so horribly alike.  There is always a woman at one
end of a polished table cutting striped ice-cream, and another at the
other end pouring tea; with a bouquet between them.  If I ever so far
forget my genteel upbringing as to give a Pink Tea I'll put the bouquet
at one end and make the ice-cream cutter sit in the middle of the table
with her feet in the tea-pot."

"Don't be absurd.  If you dislike it all so thoroughly, why do you do
it?"

"Mrs. Jarvis does it, and I have to go with her.  After all, that's the
way I earn my living."

"That's the way I'd earn my death in a month," said her sister, looking
proudly at the pile of books before her.  "Are there no girls amongst
those you meet who have a purpose in life?"

"None that I've discovered, except the supreme purpose of getting ahead
of her dearest friend.  Society is just like the old teeter we used to
ride at school.  When Rosie Carrick was up, I was down, and vice versa."

Jean Gordon looked at her younger sister seriously.  Jean took
everything in life seriously, and plainly Lizzie was determined to
continue a problem in spite of her brilliant prospects.  She did not
understand that the girl's old desire for love and service had grown
with the years, and her whole nature was yearning for some expression
of it.  It was this desire to get back to the old simplicity of life
that drove her so often to her brother and sister in their cramped
boarding-house.

"Why don't you read some improving books," said Jean primly.  "I wish I
had your chance.  If Mrs. Jarvis had taken a fancy to me I'd be a Ph.D.
some day."

Elizabeth regarded her in silent wonder.  The hard life of student and
teacher which Jean still pursued was telling on her.  She was pale and
stooped, and deep lines marked her forehead.  To Elizabeth her life
seemed a waste of strength.  She could never get at Jean's point of
view.

"And what would you do then--even if you should turn into a P.D.H., or
whatever you call him?"

"Why, just go on studying, of course."

"Until you died?" whispered Elizabeth, appalled at the thought of a
life-long vista of green eye-shades and Miss Millses and mathematics.

Jean opened her book.  "You can't understand," she said patiently.
"You haven't any ambition."

It was the old, old accusation under which Elizabeth had always lived.
She thought of Annie's cosy home which three Visions now made radiant,
of John Coulson's love and devotion, and her heart answered the
accusation and declared it false.  She wondered if other girls were as
silently ambitious as she, and why this best of all ambitions must be
always locked away in secret, while lesser ones might be proudly
proclaimed upon the house-tops.

"Evidently I haven't," she said, pulling her cloak about her with a
laugh.  "I'm a butterfly.  Gracious!  I believe I hear the Mills
rumbling.  I'm going to get out of the way."

"Wait and talk to her.  She'll fire you with a desire to do something.
She's the brainiest woman that's ever come under his tuition, Professor
Telford says."

"I haven't a doubt of it," said Elizabeth, with a look of alarm.
"That's just the reason I'm scared of her.  She's always in a sort of
post-graduate attitude of mind when I'm round, and it makes me feel
young and foolish.  Good-night.  I'm going up to molest the boys."

"Don't bother them long, Lizzie--there's a good girl.  John needs every
minute."

But Elizabeth had caught her cloak around her and was already fleeing
up the second flight of stairs.  She barely escaped Miss Mills, who was
coming down the hall.  Miss Mills did not approve of Jean Gordon's
fashionable sister, and Elizabeth feared her clever, sarcastic tongue.

John and Charles Stuart shared a bedroom and sitting-room on the top
flat.  Elizabeth tapped on the door of the latter room, and in response
to a "come in," entered.  They were already at work.  Her brother was
doubled up over a table close to a reading-lamp; the Pretender was
walking the floor note-book in hand.  They were men now, these two,
both in their last year at college.  John Gordon had the same dark,
solemn face of boyhood, lit by that sudden gleaming smile which made
him so resemble his sister.  Charles Stuart had changed more.  He was
graver and quieter, and a great man in his year at 'Varsity by reason
of his prowess on the public platform.  Everyone said MacAllister would
be sure to go into politics, but Charles Stuart, remembering the
wistful look in a beautiful pair of eyes away back in the old home
valley, would never say what would be his calling.

Elizabeth burst radiantly into the room and was received with joyous
acclaim.  No matter how busy these two might be, there was never any
doubt of her welcome here.

"Miss Gordon, I declare!" cried the Pretender, making a deep bow.  He
handed her a chair and John pulled her into it.

"Hello, Betsey!  I say it's a great comfort and uplift to Malc and me
when we toil and moil and perspire up here, to remember there's one
lady in the family anyhow.  It keeps up a fellow's self-respect."

"I hope you're going to be nice to me," said Elizabeth, turning to the
other young man.  "It's a great strain on a frivolous person like me
belonging to a clever family.  Jean's grinding at the Mills, and I came
up here for relaxation, and now John's throwing witticisms at me."

"Jean's studying too hard," said Charles Stuart.  "It is enough to
drive those girls out of their minds the way they go at it."

"Well, I hope they won't go that distance.  It's hard enough to have
them out of temper all the time," said Elizabeth.  Charles Stuart was
always so staid and solemn, she took an especial pleasure in being
frivolous in his presence.  She knew he disapproved of her fondness for
dress, so she turned to her brother.

"How do you like my new frock, Johnny?" she asked.

She slipped out of her cloak, dropping the magazine into a chair with
it, and walked across the room, with an exaggerated air of haughty
grandeur.  The soft gray folds of the gown swept over the carpet.
There was a hint of rose-color in it that caught the lamp-light.
Elizabeth glanced teasingly over her shoulder at the Pretender, who
turned abruptly away.  He was a very poor sort of Pretender, after all,
and he feared the mocking gaze of those gray eyes.  They might read the
secret in his own and laugh at it.  He picked up the magazine she had
dropped and began turning over its pages, just to show his lofty
disapproval, Elizabeth felt sure.

John proceeded to make sarcastic remarks upon her appearance, while his
admiring eyes belied his tongue.  But Elizabeth and John had never
outlived the habits of their reserved childhood, and found it necessary
always to keep up a show of indifference lest they reveal the deep
tenderness between them.  Lizzie looked frightfully skinny in the
dress, he announced, and her neck was too long by a foot.  Besides, as
her medical adviser, he felt it his duty to tell her that she would
likely get tangled up in that long tail and break some of her bones.

"I'll bet a box of chocolates you can't tell the color of it,"
Elizabeth said.  She was glancing nervously at Charles Stuart.  He was
surely near the place in the magazine.  The guessing grew lively, John
finally giving his verdict that the dress was "some sort of dark
white," when Elizabeth saw Charles Stuart pause and read absorbedly.

"It's your turn, Stuart," she cried, to gain time.  "John's
color-blind."

Charles Stuart glanced up.  It was no easy task this, examining
Elizabeth's gown, under the fire of her eyes.

"Another new dress," he said evasively.  "I suppose that woman has been
taking you to another Green Tea this afternoon."

From the day Mrs. Jarvis had made Elizabeth her paid companion, Charles
Stuart had taken a strong dislike to the lady, and always spoke of her
as "that woman."

"A 'Green Tea,'" groaned Elizabeth.  "Charles Stuart MacAllister!  It
sounds like something Auntie Jinit would brew at a quiltin'.  It's
positively shameful not to be better acquainted with the terms of
polite society."

"Well, here's something I _can_ appreciate," he said, still avoiding
her glance and turning to the magazine again.  "Listen to this.  It's
as pretty as the dress."

Elizabeth stiffened.  It was her poem.  He walked over to the lamp and
read it aloud.  It was that old, old one of the moonrise and sunset she
had written long ago, now polished and re-dressed in better verse; a
pretty little thing, full of color, bright and picturesque, nothing
more.  But it was Elizabeth's first success.  The _Dominion_ had
accepted it with a flattering comment that had made her heart beat
faster ever since.  But the young poetess was far more anxious as to
what "the boys" would think of it than the most critical editor in all
broad Canada.

Charles Stuart knew how to read, and he expressed the sentiment of the
pretty verses in a way that made Elizabeth look at him with her breath
suspended.  They sounded so much better than she had dared hope.

John looked up with shining eyes.  "I've seen that very thing at home,
at The Dale, in the evening."  He turned sharply and looked at his
sister's flushed face and downcast eyes.  "Hooroo!" he shouted.  "A
poetess!  Oh, Lizzie.  This is a terrible blow!"  He fell back into his
chair and fanned himself.

"Do you really truly like it, John?" the author asked tremblingly.

John stretched out his hand for the magazine, and Elizabeth, watching
him as he read, drew a big breath of joy.  She could tell by his
kindling eye that he was both proud and pleased.  But, as she expected,
he expressed no praise.

"There's a good deal of hot air in it, Lizzie," he remarked dryly.
"And say, you and Mac must have been collaborating.  He had that very
same expression in his speech last night--'member, Mac, when you
brought down the house that time when you flung something 'against the
eternal heavens,' or some such disorderly act.  Here's Lizzie up to the
same business."

The young orator looked foolishly pleased, and the young poetess pulled
the critic's ears.  But her heart was light and joyous.  John liked her
poem, and that was more to her than the most flattering praise from the
public.  For Elizabeth was much more a woman than a poet.

"You're a barbarian, John Gordon," she cried.  "He doesn't know a
finely turned phrase from a dissecting-knife; does he, Stuart?  But
really, it sounds far better than I thought it could.  You read so
well."

"When did you take to rhyming, Lizzie?" asked her brother.  "I really
didn't know it was in you."

But Elizabeth was watching Charles Stuart anxiously.  He had taken up
the magazine again and was reading it absorbedly.  She waited, but he
said nothing.  But those dark, deep eyes of his, so like his mother's,
had a wistful look, a look that reminded Elizabeth of the expression in
Mother MacAllister's on the occasion of her last visit home.  She
regarded him, rather troubled.  What was the matter with her little
verses?  She knew Charles Stuart was much more capable of a sound
judgment than John; she knew also that his kindly heart would prompt
him to say something pleasant if he could.

There was an awkward silence.  Happily it was broken by the sound of
stumbling footsteps in the passage without.  The door opened noisily
and a wild-looking head, with long, tangled hair, was poked into the
room.  It emitted in sepulchral tones:

"I say, Gordon, will you lend me your bones?"

The wild eyes caught sight of Elizabeth, and the visitor backed out
suddenly with a look of agony, crashing against the door frame as he
disappeared.

"It's Bagsley!" cried John, springing up.  "Hi, Bags, come back here!"
He whistled as if for a dog.

"He's scared to death of girls," said Charles Stuart; "better get under
the table, Lizzie."

"Hurrah, Bagsley!" cried John cordially, "you can have 'em.  Here,
they're under the bed!"

A tall young man, incredibly thin and disheveled-looking, sidled into
the room, moving around Elizabeth in a circular course like a shying
horse.  He stumbled over a chair, begged its pardon, floundered into
the adjoining bedroom, and dived under the bed.  He reappeared with his
arms full of human bones, and shot across the room, muttering something
like thanks.  As he fled down the dark hall, he collided with a piece
of furniture, his burden fell, and with a terrific clatter rolled from
the top of the stairs to the bottom.  John rushed out to help gather up
the fallen, and Elizabeth ran across the room and hid her face
shudderingly in the folds of her cloak.

"What's the matter?" asked Charles Stuart, shaking with amusement.  "If
you feel ill, I'll call old Bags back, Lizzie.  He's a medical--in
John's year, and they all say he's going to be gold-medalist."

"U-g-h!"  Elizabeth sat up and regarded the bedroom door with disgust.
"Human bones under the bed!  Charles Stuart MacAllister, I do think
medical students are the most abominable----"

"It's a fact," he agreed cordially.  "When a man borrows your bones I
think the limit is reached.  It's bad enough when John borrows my ties
and my boots."

He was speaking absently, and Elizabeth looked at him.  He was glancing
down at the magazine again, which was lying open on the table.  She
went straight to the point.  "Stuart, you don't like my little verses."

He started.  "Why, I--what makes you think so?  I think they are
beautiful--full of light and music and"--he paused.

"You looked disappointed when you finished," she persisted.

He was silent.  "What was the reason?"

"I--I was looking for something I couldn't find," he said hesitatingly.

"What?"

"Its soul."

"Its soul?--'the light that never was on land or sea.'  You are too
exacting.  Only real poets do things like that.  I'm not a genius."

"You don't need to be.  But one must live a real life to write real
things," he said bluntly.

"And I don't," she said half-defiantly.  She looked at him wonderingly,
at his broad shoulders and his grave face, feeling as though this was
the first time she had seen him.  He seemed suddenly to be entirely
unlike the old Charles Stuart who had always been merely a sort of
appendage to John--a second John in fact, only not one-half so dear.
It came to her like a revelation that he was not at all the old Charles
Stuart, but somebody new and strange; and he was sitting in judgment
upon her useless way of living!  She picked up the _Dominion_ and at a
glance she saw the verses as he saw them.  He was right--they were
shallow, pretty little things, nothing more.  Her lip quivered.

"Oh, I beg your pardon, Lizzie," he was saying contritely--"that's only
one opinion--and I may be wrong."

"No, you're right," said Elizabeth, "only I didn't see it before."

They were interrupted by John's return.  "Jean's calling you, Lizzie.
She's got a pleasant little job for you downstairs.  Don't be scared.
I locked Bags and the skeleton into his room.  He won't catch you."

Elizabeth, glad to get away, ran out and down to the next floor.  Jean
was standing at her room door, the green shade still over her wrinkled
brow, her collar and belt both missing.  She held up a card.

"Lizzie, could you go downstairs and interview the owner of this?" she
pleaded, frowningly.  "It's a caller.  She's been sent by some new
society your fashionable friends have organized in St. Stephen's.  I do
wish those idle people would leave busy ones alone.  I haven't time to
go down, and Mills simply won't be bothered."

Elizabeth took the card.  "Miss Blanche Kendall," she read.  "Why, this
is the very thing Mrs. Jarvis wants me to join.  Of course I'll go.
What excuse shall I make?"

"Anything at all.  I don't care."

"Very well.  I'll tell her my brother has loaned his bones and my
sister her clothing, and therefore they cannot come."

Jean did not resent the hint regarding her disorderly appearance.  She
disappeared, slamming the door with a sigh of relief.  Elizabeth went
hopefully downstairs.  She was on the whole rather glad of the
unexpected meeting.  Miss Kendall she knew to be a very fashionable
young lady indeed.  Hunting up lonely students hardly seemed an
occupation that would appeal to her.  Who knew, the girl told herself,
but she had been mistaken, and these young ladies were whole-hearted
and sincere in their efforts.  She entered the long, dingy parlor fully
prepared to learn from Miss Kendall.

The visitor, a rather handsome young woman in a smart tailored suit,
was sitting on the extreme edge of an uncomfortable chair, looking
bored.  She showed no sign of recognition as Elizabeth advanced
smilingly.  The latter was not surprised.  She had met Miss Kendall
only once--at a card-party--and Elizabeth had learned long ago that
card-parties were not functions where one went to get acquainted with
people.  She remembered that Miss Kendall had sat at a table near her,
that she had played with a kind of absorbed fury, and had gone off
radiant, bearing a huge brass tray, the winner's trophy.

"Miss Mills?" she inquired, giving two of Elizabeth's fingers a twitch.

"No, Miss Gordon," said Elizabeth.  "Miss Mills asks if you will be so
good as to excuse her this evening.  She has an unusual amount of
work."  She was about to add an apology for her sister, when Miss
Kendall, looking frankly relieved, broke in: "Oh, it doesn't matter.
You see, I'm sent by our Young Women's Guild--of St. Stephen's, you
know; they are trying to call upon all the young women in this district
who are away from home and likely to be lonely, and our president gave
me Seaton Crescent.  It will be perfectly satisfactory if I just report
on them."

She opened a little elegant leather-bound note-book and consulted it in
a business-like manner.  "I mustn't miss anyone; Miss Withrow, our
president, is so particular.  Let me see.  You are Miss Gordon,"--she
put a mark opposite the name,--"one call; Miss Mills--two calls.  I
shall leave her a card.  Then there are Miss Brownlee and Miss
Chester--they are out, I understand, but I shall leave cards so I can
count them too.  Now, do you know of any others in this house who
should attend St. Stephen's?"

Elizabeth's eyes were growing bigger every moment.  This was an
entirely new and original manner of comforting the lonely.  Evidently
Miss Kendall believed in bringing all her business ability to bear on
her acts of charity.  "Just what I thought they'd do," she said to
herself.  Then her love of mischief came to her undoing.  Her long
lashes drooped over her eyes.

"There are my brother and his friend, Mr. MacAllister," she said with
wicked intent.

"Oh, I don't want young men," said Miss Kendall all unsuspicious.
"There is another society for looking after them.  MacAllister"--she
consulted the note-book.  "I think that was the name of the person who
sent in another young woman's name--Turner.  Is there a Miss Turner
boarding here?"

Elizabeth wondered what in the world Charles Stuart had to do with it,
as she ran over the list of boarders in her mind.

"I can't remember anyone of that name," she answered.

"Oh, well, never mind.  I have enough, anyway," said the visitor with a
relieved sigh.  She dropped the little book into her hand-bag and
closed it with a snap.  Then she looked about her as if trying to find
something to talk about.  Elizabeth sat mischievously silent and waited.

The caller seemed to get little inspiration from the furniture.  "I was
sent to call by our Guild, of course," she remarked again, as though
she felt it necessary to account for her presence.

"How nice of them," murmured Elizabeth.  "Do you do much of this sort
of work, Miss Kendall?"

"No, this is my first attempt, but I think I have taken it up pretty
thoroughly.  It comes rather heavy on one who has so many social duties
as I have, but of course one does not expect these church calls
returned."

"Oh," said Elizabeth demurely, "I thought one always returned calls."

"Oh, not necessarily, I assure you," the lady remarked rather hastily.

"You see, I never received a church call before," said Elizabeth meekly.

The visitor looked at her a moment almost suspiciously, but the air of
childlike innocence was disarming.  There was another long silence,
while Elizabeth sat with folded hands and vowed that if the
church-caller didn't speak before the clock struck twelve neither would
she.  She was wickedly hoping she was uncomfortable.

Miss Kendall seemed to suddenly note some incongruity between
Elizabeth's fashionable attire and the life of a student.  She looked
more like a milliner or dressmaker, she decided.  "Do you study very
hard?" she inquired at last.

"Rather hard," was the sly answer.

"I suppose one must."

"Yes, one must."  Elizabeth had suddenly decided upon her line of
action.  She remembered how, whenever Noah Clegg's daughters went
a-visiting about Forest Glen, they would sit for a whole long afternoon
with hands primly folded, and reply to all remarks by a polite
repetition of the remarker's last statement, never volunteering a word
of their own.  She could recall a long, hot afternoon when her aunt and
Annie had essayed alternate remarks upon the weather, the crops, the
garden, church, Sunday school, and the last sermon, to the verge of
nervous prostration without varying their visitors' echoing responses
by so much as one syllable.  Elizabeth felt that Miss Kendall deserved
all the discomfort she could give her.  She folded her hands more
primly and waited.  Her victim glanced along the chromos on the wall.

"It's been very warm for November, has it not?" she said at last.

"Yes, very warm," said Elizabeth, also examining the chromos.

"I suppose you go to church regularly?"

"Yes, quite regularly."

"Dr. Harrison is such a clever speaker, isn't he?"

"Yes, very clever."

"His sermons, I think, are quite profound."

"Yes indeed, very profound."

It reminded Elizabeth of the Cantata they had sung in the joyous old
days at Cheemaun High School, where the chorus answered the soloist
again and again with "Yes, that's so!"  She wondered how long she dared
keep it up and not laugh.  She began to be just a little afraid that
she might give way altogether and make Miss Kendall think she was quite
mad.

But apparently the church call was drawing to a close.  The caller once
more consulted her notebook and arose.  "Four calls," she said with a
satisfied air.  "I wonder if I couldn't put down five.  You said there
wasn't a Miss Turner here?"

"No, unless she came recently.  Shall I inquire?"

"Oh, no thank you, I really can't spare the time.  I have several other
places to visit.  I think she's a domestic, Mr. MacAllister said.  One
has to take all sorts, you know.  I can count her, anyway, and here's a
card for her if you happen to find her."

Elizabeth took the little bundle.  She noticed that Miss Kendall's day
was not marked in the corner, but instead the inscription, "St.
Stephen's Young Women's Christian Guild."

"Those are our cards," said the visitor, noticing Elizabeth's glance.
"Of course everyone understands by that, that it's not a social call
one is making.  You see, Miss Gordon, one must keep those things
separate."

"Yes, I am sure one ought to," agreed Elizabeth with deep meaning, as
she bowed the church caller out.  She fairly soared to the top flat,
convulsed with mirth.  Jean would not appreciate the church call, she
would not see the funny side of it, and might even resent it.  But the
boys would understand.

They did not fail her, they put away their books and gave themselves
over to hilarity as she described the manner in which the Young Woman's
Christian Guild of St. Stephen's had set about welcoming the homeless
girls of Seaton Crescent.

"How 'll you explain your Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde existence next time
you meet Miss Kendall at a Green Tea?" asked John as the supper-bell
interrupted the nonsense.

Elizabeth paused as she gathered up her cloak.

"John Gordon!  I never thought of that!  And I had orders to cultivate
her society!"  For a moment she looked troubled.  "May a kind fate send
her a short memory," she added.  "Come along, which of you isn't too
hungry to see me home?"

Neither was, and they both saw her safely to the door of the Seaton
Court vestibule; and as she rehearsed the church call once more by the
way, she quite forgot to ask Charles Stuart how his name happened to be
mixed up with it.

Her eyes were still sparkling with fun, as she ran up the stairs and
swept into Mrs. Jarvis's sitting-room.

"At last!" cried that lady looking up with a pleased smile, and at the
same moment a tall man arose from a seat near the fire.  He was a very
fine-looking gentleman, faultlessly dressed and slightly pompous in
manner.  A certain stoutness of figure and thinness of hair told that
he had passed his youth.  He had, moreover, the air of a man who has
reached a high rung on the ladder of success.

Mrs. Jarvis stretched out her hand and drew Elizabeth forward, the girl
could not help noticing that she seemed pleasurably excited.

"Come, Beth, here is an old acquaintance.  This is Mr. Huntley, Miss
Gordon."

Mr. Huntley advanced with a look of genuine pleasure on his rather
round face.

"Ah," he said, with a most flattering accent.  "I am charmed to be
presented once more to Queen Elizabeth."



CHAPTER XV

WHAT OF THE NIGHT?

Since that day in Cheemaun when Elizabeth had met Mrs. Jarvis, and
unconsciously stumbled upon what Miss Gordon deemed her fortune, the
girl had enjoyed her aunt's highest approval.  She had made several
holiday visits to the old home, and each time Miss Gordon had noted new
signs of improvement.  And now that Elizabeth had further distinguished
herself by writing a poem, Miss Gordon's approbation broke out in an
affectionate letter, that warmed the girl's love-craving heart.

The Gay Gordons, each after his own fashion, expressed his views of
this new development of the wild streak, producing all sorts of
opinions from Mr. Gordon, who memorized the pretty verses and hummed
them over at his work and to Jean, who, while confessing that the
little rhyme had no literary value, declared herself exceedingly glad
that Lizzie was about to do something.

Mrs. Jarvis was the most highly pleased, and to add further to her joy,
sent a copy of the _Dominion_ containing the poem to her niece in
Cheemaun.  The Olivers had not been on the best of terms with their
aunt since Madeline had been superseded by an interloper, and Mrs.
Jarvis was not above enjoying her niece's chagrin.

Elizabeth heard of the effect of the poem from Estella.  She wrote a
rapturous letter, two pages of which were filled with congratulations,
the other ten with a description of the perfectly horrid, mean way the
Olivers were acting--except Horace--and the perfectly frightful time
she was having with all her clamoring suitors.  Horace was not excepted
this time.  She ended up by declaring she almost felt like marrying
Horry just to spite Madeline--who still refused to notice her
socially,--only he had been Beth's beau so long, she felt it would be
cruel and wicked.

Elizabeth wrote renouncing all claim upon the youth, and signing over
whatever rights she may have had to Estella.  She sighed a little over
Madeline's case, for they had been old school-mates, and Elizabeth felt
keenly her position as usurper.  Nevertheless, she was happier now than
she had been since she left The Dale as Mrs. Jarvis's companion.  She
believed that her pen had found for her a purpose in life.  Under all
Elizabeth's gay exterior, unquenched by the idle life of fashion, there
lay a strong desire to be of use in a large, grand way--the old Joan of
Arc dream.  When she had first entered the new world with Mrs. Jarvis,
her dream had centered about Eppie, her forlorn little school-mate.
The pathos of Eppie's old-fashioned figure and pale face had never
ceased to touch Elizabeth's heart.

At first her conscience, trained by Mother MacAllister, had rebelled at
the thought of accepting a luxurious home from the woman who had,
through callous indifference, allowed Eppie to be turned away from her
poor little log-cabin home in the forest.  But Elizabeth could never
have explained to her aunt her reluctance to accept the brilliant
prospects before her, so she had gone into the new life determined to
use whatever influence she could gain with her new companion towards
bringing back Eppie and her grandfather to Forest Glen.  But the years
had passed, and, so far, she had accomplished nothing.  Old Sandy and
Eppie had disappeared, and even should she find them Elizabeth had
little hope of help from Mrs. Jarvis.  She could be indolently and
weakly generous in the face of a pressing need, presented directly to
her, but her young companion had always found her callously indifferent
to any tale of distress that called for an effort of any sort.

And so Elizabeth's ambition had gradually waned, until she was in
danger of developing into a mere woman of fashion.  But now she had
found a new avenue for her activities.  She would produce a great song
one day, something that would make the world better and that would
command Charles Stuart's approbation, no matter how unwilling he was to
give it.  Accordingly she made a bolder flight into the realm of poesy,
and sent this second venture to the _Dominion_.  To her dismay it was
promptly sent back without a remark.  A third and fourth effort to gain
an entrance to lesser publications, ending in failure, convinced her
that once more she had made a mistake.  The Pretender was right, she
had not the divine fire.  She tried prose next, but she could not weave
a story had her life depended upon it, and as for those clever articles
other women wrote, she did not even understand what they were about.
No, she was a failure surely, she told herself.  This little song was
like her acting on the school stage in the old days at home.  She had
promised to be a star and had suddenly set in oblivion.

She gave up literature entirely, and once more that old imperative
question, of what use was she to be in the world, faced her.  She might
have found opportunities in plenty in St. Stephen's Church, but the
only young ladies she knew in the congregation belonged to the select
Guild of which Miss Kendall was a member, and since her encounter with
that lady Elizabeth had wisely avoided her.  Besides, she felt that
John and Charles Stuart would surely disown her if she were caught
connecting herself with that society.

But the opportunities for self-examination and consequent
self-dissatisfaction grew fewer as the winter advanced.  Luncheons,
receptions, bridge tournaments, and theater parties followed each other
with such bewildering swiftness that Elizabeth seldom had time for
serious thought.  So busy was she that often a week flew past without
an opportunity even to run over to No. 15, much to the satisfaction of
Mrs. Jarvis, who was often jealous of its attractions.

There was a new reason, too, for Elizabeth's many engagements, other
than her popularity.  Ever since the evening early in the autumn when
Mr. Huntley had recognized his little Queen Elizabeth of the Forest
Glen woods, he had been paying her marked attentions.  He was a wealthy
man now, one of the city's most prominent lawyers, a large shareholder
in one of the new and most promising railroads, and--as Mrs. Jarvis
joyfully pointed out to Elizabeth at every opportunity--the best match
to be met in their social circle.

At first his notice had flattered Elizabeth and pleased her.  It was
just what she had thought she wanted.  There had been very little of
such pleasant experiences in her life.  She had been a spectator of
many pretty romances, but had always stood on the outer edge of the
enchanted land, longing, yet fearing to enter.  Looking back she had to
confess that Horace Oliver had produced her only romance, and now
Horace was gone.  Some of the young men she met in the fashionable
world attracted her at first, and finally bored her.  Often some one of
them, captivated by her star-like eyes and her vivacity, would single
her out for special favors, and be met with great cordiality.  Then
suddenly, to Mrs. Jarvis's disgust, Elizabeth would grow weary of him
and take no pains to hide her feelings.  The young men soon ceased to
run the risk of being so treated.  "Miss Gordon was eccentric," they
said, "and besides had a sharp tongue."  Elizabeth noticed wistfully
that all possible suitors drifted away and wondered what was the matter
with her.

But Mr. Huntley promised to be entirely constant, and his intentions
grew more obvious every day.

He was almost a middle-aged man now, and not likely to have passing
fancies.  But here as elsewhere Elizabeth found herself behaving in an
unexpected fashion.  She told herself that Mrs. Jarvis was right, and
that if Mr. Huntley asked her to marry him she would indeed be a
fortunate young woman, and yet when he came to their apartments in
Crescent Court she was always seized with a wild desire to run away to
Jean and the boys.

Nevertheless she reveled in the idea of being loved, and as long ago
she had striven to put her pretty teacher upon a pedestal for
worshipping, just because a teacher was always a glorified being, so
she sought to surround Mr. Huntley's rather pompous middle-aged figure
with the rose mist of her girlish dreams.  For Elizabeth wanted to be
loved more than anything else in the wide world.

And so the winter sped away in days crammed with pleasure-seeking, and
the light of Mother MacAllister's teaching had almost faded from
Elizabeth's life.  But just as it had grown too dim to be seen by
mortal eye, there came softly stealing into her heart the first hint of
that dawn which was soon to break over her spirit and melt the
gathering clouds of uselessness and selfishness.  Slowly and almost
imperceptibly the day was advancing, just as it had risen that summer
morning so long ago when her wondering child-eyes had seen it steal
over The Dale.  There was no light as yet.  Forms of right and wrong
remained dim and not yet to be distinguished from each other;
nevertheless the first note of the approaching dawn-music was soon to
be sounded.  It was to be a very feeble note,--the cry of a bird with a
broken pinion--but it was to usher in the day of Elizabeth's new life.

Spring had begun to send forth her heralds in the form of high March
winds.  It was a chilly afternoon, and Mrs. Jarvis, her attempts at
youthfulness all laid aside, was sitting huddled between the grate fire
and the steam radiator drinking her tea.

"Beth," she called sharply, "don't forget your engagement for this
afternoon."

Mrs. Jarvis's tone told Elizabeth that the usual dispute regarding her
goings and comings was at hand.  Generally she managed to cajole her
querulous companion into permitting her her own way, but prospects did
not look very bright at present.  She emerged slowly from the pretty
blue bedroom looking very handsome in her rich furs and a gray-blue
toque that matched her eyes.

"You mean that committee of Miss Kendall's?  I'm afraid if I go I'll
get tangled up in that awful Guild."

Since the day she had met Miss Kendall doing charitable work in Seaton
Crescent, Elizabeth had managed by much scheming to avoid that young
lady.  But a few days previous a little note had come from her asking
Miss Gordon to come to the committee rooms at the church to help
arrange some private theatricals which the Young Woman's Guild purposed
giving for an Easter entertainment.  The proceeds were to go to the
poor, and Miss Kendall felt sure Miss Gordon would be interested;
besides, she had heard Miss Gordon had especial talent for the stage.
As Miss Kendall knew nothing whatever about Miss Gordon, the latter had
wondered where she got her information, until Mr. Huntley had
enlightened her.  He had dropped in the same evening with a dozen
roses, and had intimated that he had helped Miss Kendall make out her
list.  Mrs. Jarvis had been overjoyed, and now the day had come and
Elizabeth was in some dismay as to how she was to get out of the
predicament.

"Miss Withrow, the president, sent me an invitation to come to a
meeting in the church.  Some missionary man is to give an address.
Now, wouldn't you rather I'd go there than to those giddy theatricals?
The Withrows are quite as important as the Kendalls."

"Don't be sarcastic.  It's very unladylike.  I'm not so anxious for you
to join the Guild, but I want you to go to Blanche's meeting.  Mr.
Huntley was telling me those girls are getting their heads full of
romantic notions about slumming and all that nonsense.  I know he
doesn't like that type of woman, so you are as well out of it."

Elizabeth's long lashes drooped rebelliously.

"What has he to do with my affairs?"

"Oh indeed!  What has he to do with them?"  Mrs. Jarvis imitated her
voice and manner.  "He acts just now as though he had everything to do
with you."  She suddenly grew serious.  "Mr. Huntley is a very
fastidious gentleman, Miss Elizabeth, and you'd better not let him know
anything about your eccentric tricks.  It might spoil your chances."

Elizabeth's face flushed.  "My chances of what, for instance?" she
inquired.

Mrs. Jarvis laughed good-naturedly.

"Don't be absurd.  Whatever you are you're not dull.  Why do you
persist in ignoring what is patent to everybody?  Do you mean to stand
there, Elizabeth Gordon, and tell me you never imagined yourself Mrs.
Huntley?"

"Oh, as to that: there's no limit to what one can imagine.  I've
imagined myself Joan of Arc, often--and Mrs. Horace Oliver, and Jake
Martin's third--supposing he dared outlive Auntie Jinit--and a circus
rider, and a pelican of the wilderness, and any other absurd thing,
without seriously considering taking up any of the afore-mentioned
professions."

"Oh, you absurd young hypocrite.  Run away now, and don't bother me.
Go right over to the church at once and help Blanche.  You always seem
to miss every chance for getting better acquainted with her."

Elizabeth went slowly down the stairs, telling herself whimsically that
the way of the transgressor was hard.  She had not gone many steps
before her spirit caught the mood of the radiant March day.  There had
been a light fall of snow in the morning, and the streets were
beautiful for the moment under their fresh covering.  The keen air and
the dazzling sunlight brought a glow to her checks and a light to her
eyes.  She could not be troubled on such a radiant day by all the Miss
Kendalls in Canada.

As she crossed the park, now a sparkling fairy garden, she was suddenly
made conscious that a familiar figure was hastening along a crosspath
in her direction; a comfortable-looking, middle-aged figure that moved
with a stately stride.  For an instant Elizabeth was possessed with a
perverse feeling of irritation, as though he were guilty of the
restrictions laid upon her.  That he was the innocent cause of some of
them could not be denied, for he was a very particular gentleman as to
his own and everyone else's deportment, and the sight of him always
raised in her a desire to do something shocking.

He smiled with genuine pleasure as he greeted her; though his manner
was formal and a trifle pompous.

"And how is Queen Elizabeth this afternoon?" he asked.  "As radiant as
usual, I perceive."

She returned his greeting a trifle constrainedly, gave the requested
permission to accompany her, and walked demurely at his side, her eyes
cast down.  She was wondering mischievously what he would say if she
should tell him her reasons for wishing to escape her afternoon's
engagement.

Their way led for a short distance along a splendid broad avenue that,
starting at the park, stretched away down into the heart of the city.
Its four rows of trees, drooping under their soft mantle of snow,
extended far into the dim white distance.

"Toronto is a fine city," said Mr. Huntley proudly, "and just at this
point one sees its best.  Here are our legislative buildings, yonder a
glimpse of our University, here a hospital, there a church and----"

"And here," said Elizabeth, unexpectedly turning a corner--"another
aspect of the same city."

She had turned aside into a narrow alley, which, in but a few steps led
into a scene of painful contrast to the avenue.  It was the slum
district--right in the center of the beautiful city--the worm at the
heart of the flower.  Here the streets were narrow and dirty.  Noisy
ragged children, Italian vendors, Jewish ragpickers, slatternly women,
and drunken men brushed against them as they passed.

"You should not have come this way, Miss Gordon," said Mr. Huntley
solicitously, as he guided her across the black muck of the crossing,
to which the snow had already been converted.  "I hope you do not come
here alone."

"I was never here before," said Elizabeth.  "How terrible to live in
comfort with this at one's back door, as it were."  She shuddered.

Mr. Huntley looked slightly disturbed.  "I am glad you are not one of
those sentimental young ladies of St. Stephen's, who have been seized
with the romantic idea that they can overturn conditions here.  These
people are better left alone."

Elizabeth was silent.  They had just passed a wee ragged girl, whose
blue, pinched face and hungry eyes made her sick with pity.  The child
was calling shrilly to an equally ragged boy who had paused on the
sidewalk a little ahead of them.  The youngster was absorbed in
tormenting a feeble old man, whose little wagon with its load of soiled
clothing he had just overturned into the mud of the street.  The man
was making pitiful attempts to gather up his bundle, but his poor old
frame, stiffened and twisted with rheumatism, refused to bend.  The
urchin shouted with laughter, and his victim leaned against a wall
whimpering helplessly.  The sight of him hurt Elizabeth even more than
the little girl's hungry face.  She thought of her own father, and felt
a hint of the anguish it would mean if ho should one day be
ill-treated.  The tears came, blinding her eyes so that she stumbled
along the rotten sidewalk.

A young woman suddenly appeared from the door of a hovel that stood
half-way down an alley just across the way.  She had a ragged shawl
over her head, her thin cotton shirt flapped about her meager limbs,
and her feet were incased in men's boots.  She ran swiftly to the old
man, routed the urchin, and with many pitying, comforting words began
gathering up the contents of the wagon.  Elizabeth longed to stay and
help and comfort them both; she listened eagerly, after they had
passed, to catch what the girl was saying.  "Poor grandaddy," she heard
again and again.  "Poor grandaddy, I shouldn't have let ye go alone."

There was something about her that drew Elizabeth to her.  She wanted
to stop and thank her for the assurance that love could blossom so
beautifully even in this barren spot.  Her voice, too, haunted her.
Where had she heard that soft Highland accent before?  It seemed to
bring some vague memory of childhood.  She glanced up at her companion,
wondering if she dared step back and speak to the pair.

But Mr. Huntley did not seem to have noticed them.  He was looking
across the street with an air of half-amused interest.

"I'm rather glad you brought me around this way, Miss Gordon," he said,
the amusement in his face deepening.  "I own some property here that I
haven't seen for years."  He waved his cane in the direction of the row
of houses across the street.  Elizabeth looked back, the old man and
the girl were disappearing down the alley into one of them.

"They are a hard lot, my tenants.  If some of the young ladies of St.
Stephen's experienced a little of the difficulty my agent has
collecting rent, or came across one fraction of the fraud and trickery
these people can practice, their philanthropy would cool slightly."

Elizabeth was too much moved to speak.  It hurt her so to find him
unsympathetic.  To her unaccustomed eyes the signs of want on all sides
were unspeakably pitiful, and in the face of it his indifference was
callous and cruel.  She struggled to keep back the tears, tears of both
sorrow and indignation.

They had emerged into the region of broad, clean streets now, and her
companion, glancing down at her, saw she was disturbed.  He strove to
raise her spirits by cheerful talk, but Elizabeth refused to respond.
She looked so depressed he suddenly thought of a little surprise he had
in store for her, which would be likely to make her happy.

"By the way, what is your brother going to do when he graduates next
spring?" he inquired.

"I don't know," said Elizabeth, reviving somewhat at the mention of
John.  This was a subject upon which the brother and sister had had
much anxious discussion.  It was imperative that he should earn some
money immediately, to pay his college debts, for this last year was to
be partially on borrowed money.

"John's just worrying about that," she added frankly.  "He'd like to
get some experience in a hospital, but he really ought to be earning
money."

"They want a young medical this spring up on this new North American
line I'm interested in.  There are hundreds of men on the construction.
Ask him if he'd like that.  It is a good thing, lots of practice, and
more pay."

Elizabeth looked up at him, her eyes aglow with gratitude.  To help
John was to do her the greatest favor.  She had heard him again and
again expressing a desire for some such appointment.

"Oh, how can I thank you?" she cried, the light returning to her face.
"It would mean everything to John.  You are so kind."  She gave him
another glance, that set his middle-aged heart beating just a trifle
faster.

They had reached the steps of St. Stephen's by this time, and
Elizabeth's leave-taking was warmly grateful.  Yes, she would be home
in the evening when he called, she promised.

As she ascended the steps of the church she was reminded by the booming
of the bell in the city tower that she was half an hour early.  Why not
run back to No. 15 and tell John the good news?  His afternoon lectures
had stopped and he would probably be studying.  She turned quickly and
ran down the steps.  As she did so she was surprised to meet several
young men and women ascending them.  Surely they could not all belong
to Miss Kendall's dramatic troupe, she reflected, as she hurried away.

John was in his room and alone, and when he heard Elizabeth's news he
caught her round the waist and danced about until Mrs. Dalley sent up
by one of her maids to inquire if them young men didn't care if the
plaster in the ceiling below all fell down?  The dancers collapsed
joyously upon the sofa, and Elizabeth, looking at John's glowing face,
felt what happiness might be hers one day if she had wealth enough to
help her family to their desires.

"This is the bulliest thing that ever happened," cried John boyishly.
"Say, he thinks all manner of things about you, Lizzie, I can see."

Elizabeth blushed.  "Nonsense.  It's your profound learning and great
medical skill that attracted him."

"When did he tell you?"

"Just this afternoon.  I was going to the church to a committee meeting
of Miss Kendall's--the church caller, John, just think, haven't I the
courage of a V. C.?--and he walked there with me--and oh, John, we came
through Newton Street, and it's an awful place.  I never dreamed there
was such poverty right near us.  Isn't it wicked to eat three meals a
day and be well dressed, when people are starving right at one's door?"

"I suppose some of those poor beggars do have a kind of slim diet, but
it's half their own fault.  Don't you go and get batty over them, now.
Mac has it so bad I can't stand another."

"Stuart?  What about him?"

"He's got into some kind of mission business down in that hole; but
don't tell him I let it out.  He's the kind that would cut his right
hand off if it hinted its doings to his left hand."

"Why, what does he do there?"  Elizabeth's voice had a wistful note.
This was just what she should have been doing, but Charles Stuart had
never appealed to her for help.  He knew better, she told herself, with
some bitterness.

"Oh, all sorts of stunts--boys' club and Sunday school; everything from
nursing babies to hammering drunks that abuse their wives.  He keeps me
and old Bagsley humping, too.  It's good practice, but the pay's all
glory.  Bags has about a dozen patients down there now."

Elizabeth was silent; that old, old feeling of despair that used to
come over her when John and Charles Stuart disappeared down the lane,
leaving her far behind, was stealing over her.  They had gone away
ahead again, and she--she was no use in the world, and so was left to
drift.

"I suppose he's going to be a minister after all, then," she said at
last, rising and wrapping her fur around her slim throat.  "Mother
MacAllister will be happy."

"I don't know if he is.  He's got all muddled up in some theological
tangle.  Knox fellows come over here and they argue all night
sometimes, and Mac doesn't seem to know where he's at in regard to the
Bible."  John laughed easily.  "Never mind, Betsey, I'm acting
physician to the new British North American Railroad, and you're a
brick, so you are!"

But the light did not return to Elizabeth's face.  John followed her
down to the door, bidding her an affectionate and grateful farewell.

"This is better than putting up my shingle in Forest Glen and living in
old Sandy's house, eh?" he asked laughingly, as they parted.

Elizabeth smiled and nodded good-by.  John had always prophesied
dolefully that he would set up a practice in Forest Glen with her as
his housekeeper.  They would live in old Sandy McLachlan's log house,
for he was sure he could not afford anything better, and it would suit
Lizzie's style of housekeeping.

The reference to the old place cleared some misty memory that had been
struggling for recognition in Elizabeth's brain.  She stopped short on
the street--"Eppie!" she said, almost aloud.  Could it be Eppie she had
seen on Newton Street, and could that old man be her grandfather?



CHAPTER XVI

"THE MORNING COMETH"

She dismissed the notion, the next moment, as absurd; but it returned
again and again, each time more persistent; slowly she once more
ascended the steps of the church absorbed in the thought.

At one side of the wide vestibule, a door led into a long hall.  In one
of the many rooms opening from it Miss Kendall was holding her meeting.
The door was heavy and swung slowly.  Just before Elizabeth opened it
sufficiently to gain a view of the hall, she heard her own name spoken
in Miss Kendall's decisive tones.

"Pardon me, Miss Withrow, but you are mistaken.  The Miss Gordon you
have reference to is a student or milliner or something; we certainly
haven't asked her to join us.  I know because I met her over on Seaton
Crescent when I was calling on those tiresome boarders.  Mrs. Jarvis's
Miss Gordon is quite another person, I don't know her personally, but
they say Mr. Huntley is quite enamored and----"

Elizabeth shrank back closing the door softly.  Here was a predicament
indeed!  The approaching swish of silken skirts sounded along the hall,
and she ran noiselessly up the carpeted stairway looking for some place
of concealment.  The door leading into the auditorium confronted her,
and shaking with silent laughter she pushed it open and slipped
noiselessly within.  A soft hushed movement like one breathing in sleep
filled the great space.  She paused, startled--the church was crowded.

Away up in the dim pulpit at the other end a man was speaking.
Elizabeth dropped breathlessly and embarrassed into the pew nearest the
door.  She had no idea what this gathering was for or who the speaker
was.  Mrs. Jarvis attended the regular Sunday morning services in St.
Stephen's, whenever a headache did not prevent, and Elizabeth
accompanied her.  But beyond this the girl had not the slightest
connection with any of the activities of this religious body of which
she was a member.  Otherwise she might have known that this was a great
gathering of students, many of whom were young volunteers for the army
of the King that was fighting sin far away in the stronghold of
heathenism.  She would have heard, too, that the man up there in the
pulpit, with every eye set unwaveringly upon him, was one who had
stirred the very pulses of her native land by his call to the laymen of
the church to a wider vision of their duty to the world.  But poor
Elizabeth knew very little more about this great movement than if she
had been one of the heathen in whose behalf it was being made.

And perhaps because she had been so long shut away from the great
things of life, for which her heart vainly cried, her very soul went
out to the words of the speaker.  He was nearing the end of his
address, and was making his appeal to those young people to invest
their lives in this great work for God and humanity.

Looking back upon that scene afterwards, it almost seemed miraculous to
Elizabeth, that the first words of his message she heard were from that
prophetic poem that had always moved her to tears in her childhood days
when her father read them at family worship.

"The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, the
desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.  It shall blossom
abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing."  This was the
promise to those who responded to their Master's call.  The
wildernesses of the earth, the sad and solitary places, were to be made
glad and beautiful at their coming.

And then Elizabeth grasped the purpose of the gathering.  She read it
as much in the sea of eager upturned faces as in the speaker's words.
She knew, too, that he was not speaking to her.  She had no part nor
lot in this great onward march of the world.  She belonged to those who
were clogging the wheels of progress.  A feeling of intense envy seized
her, all her old yearning for love and service came over her with
twofold strength, and with it the bitter remembrance that she had
wasted her life in worse than idleness.

The low, deep, appealing voice went on, and she bowed her head in
humiliation.  But surely he was speaking to her now.  "Do you want to
find Jesus Christ?" he was asking.  "Have you lost your hold on Him?
Then go out where the drunkard and the orphan and the outcast throng in
their sin and misery--you will find Him there!"

For a brief space Elizabeth heard no further word.  That message was
especially for her.  For she had lost her hold upon Him, and with Him,
she realized it for the first time, she had lost the joy and power of
life.  She had been very near Him many times--when her father read of
His love and sacrifice, or Mother MacAllister showed her the beauty of
His service.  The Vision Beautiful had been hers, and she had refused
to go out at the call of the hungry, and so it had not stayed.

And now a new vision--the tormenting picture of what she might have
made of her life was being shown her through the magic of the speaker's
words.  "The King's Highway," he called his address.  "And an highway
shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness.
The unclean shall not pass over it, the wayfaring men, though fools,
shall not err therein."  He pictured to their eager young eyes, what
that Way would be for the world, when they prepared it for the coming
of their King.

"Would they make this way of holiness accessible to someone?" he asked.
"To those wayfaring men who were sure to err unless guided thereto."

He ended with the Prophet's words, and the choir, away up in their
brightly lighted gallery arose and burst forth into the glorious words
that closed the vision.

"Then shall the redeemed of the Lord come to Zion with songs and
everlasting joy upon their heads.  They shall receive joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."

Elizabeth could bear no more.  She arose, the tears blinding her, and
slipped quietly out.  She had seen Jean looking over the gallery
railing with serious eyes, and Stuart standing by a pillar with a group
of fellow-students, his face pale and tense.  She dared not risk
meeting them or anyone else she knew.  She hurried down the stairs and
out along the street struggling for her self-control.  Half consciously
her footsteps turned in the direction of that little street where she
had seen the girl that looked like Eppie.  The tumult of
self-accusation within drove her to immediate action.  She would go
down there at once and see that girl, and help and comfort her, and
perhaps--even though she had wandered so far away, she might prove the
speaker's words true--she might find the Vision return.  Choking back
her sobs she hurried along.  The memory of the sad sight, that pitiful
ill-clad girl striving to comfort the still more pitiful old man
driving her forward as if with a whip.

The twilight had fallen and the dingy street looked even more gloomy.
She was terrified by the glimpses of rough-looking men and slatternly
women, by the loud voices and the sounds of violence that issued from
many of the houses.  But her fear did not once make her think of
turning back.  Her soul now recognized the fact that there were things
more to be dreaded in the life of uselessness from which she was
fleeing.

She turned down the dark alley from which she had seen the girl emerge,
stumbling over heaps of garbage.  Even in her terror she had a faint
sense of grim enjoyment at the thought of how horrified Mr. Huntley
would be could he know.  She almost hated him for his solicitous care
of her when she compared it with his indifference to these ragged
shrill-voiced women about her.  She paused at length before one of the
low hovels and timidly knocked.  At the same moment the door suddenly
opened and a young man came lounging heavily out.  By the light from
the doorway Elizabeth caught a glimpse of a heavy brutal face, as he
slouched past her.  She started back, about to run, but stopped.  Just
beyond him in the doorway stood the girl she sought.  The pale light of
a flickering gas jet above her head revealed her face.  There was no
mistaking her now.  Elizabeth forgot her fears and went forward with a
joyful little run.

"Eppie!" she cried, "oh, Eppie!  Do you know me?"

The girl stood staring.

"Is it?--Is it you--Lizzie?" she whispered.

"Yes--it's Lizzie.  May I come in, Eppie?"

The girl shrank back as though afraid, but there was a pleading look in
her hungry eyes, a gleam of something like hope that drew Elizabeth in.
She stepped down into the chilly little room.  The flickering gas jet
shed a pale circle of light around the wretched place.  At one glance
every detail of the sordid surroundings seemed to be stamped upon
Elizabeth's brain; the low bed in the corner under the sloping roof,
where the old man lay, covered by a ragged quilt, the rusty fireless
stove, with the water falling drip, drip upon it from the melting snow
on the sagging roof, the old cupboard with its cracked dishes and its
smell of moldy bread.  And yet she looked only at her lost school-mate,
at the hungry, frightened eyes and the white thin face.  She saw, too,
how the girl shrank from her, fearful and yet hopeful, and a great
flood of pity surged over her.  She took both the thin rough hands in
her delicately gloved ones and tried to smile.

"Oh, Eppie!" she cried, "where have you been this long, long time, my
dear?"

The effect of her words alarmed her.  Eppie clutched her hands and
burst into a storm of sobs.  Frightened and dismayed, and at a loss
what to do, Elizabeth blindly did the very best thing.  She put her
arms about the shaking little figure and held it close.  She drew her
down to an old box that stood by the damp wall, and the two old
school-mates, so widely separated by fate, clung to each other and
sobbed.

"Oh, Lizzie! oh, Lizzie," the girl kept repeating her friend's name
over and over.  "You always promised you'd come and see me, and I
thought you'd forgot me--you being such a grand lady.  I thought you'd
forgot me!"

"Eppie," whispered Elizabeth, "don't! oh, don't!  I wanted to find
you--long ago--but I didn't know where you were.  Hush, dear, don't cry
so, you will make yourself ill.  See, you will waken your grandfather."

She stopped at this, choking back her sobs.  "It's because I'm so glad
you came, Lizzie, and you such a fine lady," she whispered.  "I hadn't
nobody left."  She sat up and wiped away her tears on her ragged apron.

"I seen you at that boarding-house where Charles Stuart was," she
continued, "but you looked so grand I wouldn't let on to you I was
there.  I thought you wouldn't want me.  And I wouldn't let him tell
even Jean.  But the woman wouldn't keep me, I was no good, and I was
ashamed to tell Charles Stuart I'd gone, he was so awful good, and so
me and grandaddy moved in here and I didn't let on, and I got washing;
but the lady didn't pay me, and oh, Lizzie, grandaddy's sick and
I--couldn't help it."

"Couldn't help what?" asked Elizabeth, puzzled over the incoherent
recital.  "Tell me all about it, Eppie."

"Tell me, dear," she patted her as though she had been a hurt child.

So Eppie began at the day they came to Toronto and told their whole sad
history.  They had lived with her father for a time.  He had written
them to come, for he had a little grocery store and was doing well.  He
had been kind and good at first, and they had been happy.  But he had
began to drink again--drink had always been his trouble, and at last
everything had to be sold and he went away West, leaving her and her
grandfather alone.  Then commenced a sorrowful story--the story of
incompetence struggling with greed and want.  They would have starved
she declared only for Charles Stuart.  It was he was the good kind lad.
He had met her on the street one day last autumn and for a long while
he had done everything to help them.  He had found a place where
grandaddy could board, and got work for her again and again.  But she
had always failed.  "I tried, Lizzie," she said, sitting before her
friend with hanging head, twisting the corner of her ragged apron
pitifully, "but I'd never been learned how to do things, and I guess I
was awful slow.  When the ladies scolded I would just be forgetting
everything, and then they would send me away.  And when Charles Stuart
got me a place at Mrs. Dalley's and I lost it, too, I was that ashamed
I couldn't tell him.  So we moved down here to this house, for I'd
saved a little money, and grandaddy was pleased because he said it was
a home of our own again, and he didn't seem to mind the water coming in
on the bed.  But the rent's awful dear, and the man that owns it he
said he'd send me to jail if I didn't pay him next time.  I hadn't any
money last time, because the lady I worked for wouldn't pay me.  Oh,
Lizzie, don't you think rich people ought to pay folks that work for
them?"

"Who didn't pay you?" asked Elizabeth, her eyes burning.

"Miss Kendall.  She's a grand lady and works in the church and Charles
Stuart asked her to let me work for her.  But she'd always tell me to
come back some other day when I went and asked her for money, and next
week they're going to turn us out.  Oh, Lizzie, do you mind yon Mr.
Huntley that put grandaddy and me off our farm?  He owns this house and
now he's putting us out again!  Grandaddy says God is good and kind and
that He'll never forsake us.  But I don't think He cares about us, or
He wouldn't let all these awful things happen to us."  She had been
growing more and more excited as the recital continued.  Her cheeks
burned and she plucked nervously at her apron.  Now a desperate look
came into her eyes, her voice rose shrilly and Elizabeth gazed at her
in terror.

"Did you see that man that was here when you came?"  Elizabeth nodded,
a new terror clutching her heart.  Until now she had not realized that
there might be far fiercer beasts of prey than even the wolves of
poverty following Eppie's footsteps.  "He's a bad man, Lizzie, but he's
been kind to me.  He gave me money yesterday or grandaddy would a'
starved.  Bad people are better to you than good people.  He gave me
money if I'd promise to go and keep house for him.  And I'm
going--to-morrow--and I'll get bad too--everybody round here's bad and
I don't care any more----"

She burst into violent sobbing again, and Elizabeth could only hold her
tight and say over and over in helpless woe, "Oh, Eppie, my poor
Eppie."  For of the two girls clinging together in the damp little
hovel, perhaps the more fortunate one was experiencing a greater depth
of despair.  A very chaos of darkness had descended upon Elizabeth's
soul.  She was taking her first glimpse of that world of misery and
shame into which Eppie was being so ruthlessly driven, and her whole
soul recoiled.  To her excited imagination the girl in her arms was the
sacrifice offered for her own comfort.  It seemed as though the price
of the boxes of roses and candy that were lavished upon her, had been
wrung from those poor helpless hands now clutching her so desperately.
And Mrs. Jarvis too; Elizabeth arraigned her before the ruthless
tribunal of her awakened conscience.  Why had she let all this happen,
when she could have prevented it with a word?

Suddenly Eppie stopped sobbing and raised her head listening.
Elizabeth looked at her and followed her eyes to the bed.  The old man
had made a slight movement, and uttered a strange, choking cough.  His
granddaughter ran to him with incoherent murmurs of endearment.
Elizabeth following tenderly, the girl turned down the ragged coverlid,
and laid her hand on his wrinkled forehead.  There was the stamp of
death on his peaceful old face.

"What's the matter?" whispered Elizabeth.

Eppie turned upon her wild eyes of terror.  "I don't know.  There's
something wrong with him.  Oh, what'll I do?  What'll I do?"

"I'll get a doctor," cried Elizabeth, darting towards the door.  Her
heavy fur stole slipped from her shoulders, but she took no notice of
it.  She fled out into the night and went stumbling once more over the
garbage heaps of the dark alley.

Mr. MacAllister had come in late for his supper that evening, and Mrs.
Dalley's latest dining-room maid had served him with an air of cold
reproach that almost gave that kind-hearted young man an attack of
indigestion.  He hurried away from the uncomfortable atmosphere, and
found that his room-mate had gone out.  He did not go to his books at
once, but sat in their one easy-chair, his hands deep in his pockets,
staring at his boots.  John always declared the Pretender drew his
inspiration therefrom, for after any prolonged study of those
goodly-sized appendages he always arose and accomplished something
startling.  This time his meditation was longer than usual; his mind
was on the lecture of that afternoon.  Finally he arose and drew from
the table a writing-pad.  He wrote a long letter, and as he sealed it
his dark eyes shone.  For he knew that away up in a little northern
valley, a woman with a sweet wistful face, who had waited for the
message that letter contained, many long anxious years, was still
waiting for it, and its coming would fill her heart with joy and
thankfulness.

He had just finished when he heard his chum come thundering up the
stairs.  He looked up with laughing expectation.  He knew by the manner
of John's ascent that there was something grand and glorious doing.

"What's up now?  You came up that stairs like an automobilly-goat.  Is
the house on fire?"

John leaped across the room, threw his cap upon the floor, and had
poured out his good news before he got his overcoat off.

"Isn't that the dandiest luck?" he finished up.  "I've just been down
at Huntley's office.  He telephoned just before supper.  And I'm to
have all expenses paid beside, and nothing but Dagoes and Chinamen to
dope."  He had taken off his boots by this time and was rummaging in
the bedroom for his slippers, never pausing a moment in his talk.

"Huntley's a gentleman all right, isn't he?  Of course, it's all 'cause
he's so sweet on Lizzie; but I'm mighty thankful his sweetness came in
my direction.  A chap like you, with one of the best farms in Ontario
at his back, can't have any idea what it's like to go to college on
wind.  Say, won't it seem funny to have little Lizzie married to that
chap.  She wouldn't confess to-day, but I could see there was something
up."

He paused at last, for it was being borne in upon his joy-blended
senses that his chum, who had always heretofore rejoiced when he
rejoiced, was making no response.

"It'll be good practice for my first year, don't you think?" he asked
rather lamely.

"Oh, yes, I suppose so."  Charles Stuart's answer was even lamer.

John emerged from his room bearing the captured slippers.

"You're not sick, are you, old man?" he asked.

"Sick?  No!  What makes you ask such a fool question?"

"Why, you're looking perfectly green round the gills.  You're not going
out, are you?"

For the Pretender had sprung up and was dragging on his boots.  He was
finding it impossible to pretend any longer.

John watched him anxiously, all uncomprehending.

"Better let me take your temperature, Mac.  Diphtheria's fairly booming
in your year.  Packard has it now."

"Nonsense!  I'm all right.  You meds. are always on the trail of death
and disease."

"I thought you said you were going to plug to-night."

Charles Stuart was savagely dragging on his overcoat.  "Well, I'm not,
I'm going out."

"You haven't a pain or an ache anywhere, have you?"

The patient might have answered truthfully that he was conscious only
of one great ache through his whole being, but instead he answered
shortly: "Pain?  Your granny!  No, of course not!"

The door slammed soundingly behind him, and John sat gazing at it until
the house shook with another tremendous bang, this time from the street
door.

"Well, I'll be----" said the young man, and then paused, feeling how
utterly hopeless it was to find a word expressive of his feelings.  In
all the years of their life-long comradeship he had never known Charles
Stuart to behave in such a manner.  "He's gone batty!" he said at last
to the closed door, and then slowly and meditatively he returned to his
books.  "He's fixing for dip. all right," he added; "I'll have Bags in
to overhaul him when he comes back."  Then, with the satisfaction of a
medical student who has correctly diagnosed and prescribed for a case,
he settled himself comfortably in the easy-chair and went to work.

Meanwhile the supposed victim of incipient diphtheria was striding down
the street as though pursued by that and every other fell disease.  A
worse malady had seized him, and he was calling himself a fool that he
had been so blind to its symptoms.  Life without the sunshine of
Elizabeth's presence was a problem he had never faced.  That he and she
belonged to each other since the beginning of time had always been his
deep-rooted conviction.  And now he had lost her, and had realized it
for the first time on the very day when he had found the true glorious
meaning of life.  His senses were numbed by the irony of his fate.  He
was conscious only of the fact that he had received a blow, and that he
must move swiftly and more swiftly.  He was whirling round a corner
when he heard his name called sharply.  He stopped short in mingled joy
and fear.  Someone was crossing the street towards him with headlong
speed.  It was she herself!--Elizabeth--coming to him with outstretched
hands.  He went swiftly to meet her.

"Lizzie!  What is it?" he cried, catching the hands in his.

"Oh, Charles Stuart!" she cried with a sob of relief, "come--quick!
I've found Eppie!"



CHAPTER XVII

DAWN CLOUDS

"And so you see; Aunt Margaret, I could not possibly have acted
otherwise.  I had to leave it all."

Miss Gordon sat a trifle straighter in her stiff chair.  "I fear I must
confess I cannot see it as you do at all, Elizabeth.  You say yourself
that Mrs. Jarvis would have been willing to pay Eppie's expenses up
here, or support her in the city, and why you should have made her the
cause of such an eccentric act I cannot understand."

Elizabeth looked out of the window in silent misery.  Before her, Tom
Teeter's fields stretched away bare and brown, with patches of snow in
the hollows and the fence-corners.  Rain had fallen the night before, a
cold March rain, freezing as it fell, and clothing every object of the
landscape in an icy coat that glittered and blazed in the morning
light.  But the sun and the fresh wind, dancing up from the south and
bringing a fragrant hint of pussy-willows from the creek banks, were
causing this fairy world of glass to dissolve.  Such a glorious world
as it was seemed too radiant and unreal to last.  There was a sound of
pouring water and a rattle as of shattered glass as the airy things
tumbled to pieces.

The fences along Champlain's Road and the lane were made of polished
silver rails that gave back the sunbeams in blinding flashes.  The
roofs of the houses and barns were covered with glass, the trees were
loaded with diamonds.  From the east windows of the dining-room where
Elizabeth sat by the fire, she could see the orchard and the
out-houses.  They were all transformed, the former into a fairy forest
of glass, the latter into crystal palaces.  Even the old pump had been
changed into a column of silver.

The breeze, dancing up over The Dale, set the fairy forest of glass
swaying, with a silken rustle.  On every swinging branch millions of
jewels flashed in the sunlight.  With a soft crashing sound some tree
would let fall its priceless burden in a dazzling rain of diamonds.
Crash! and the silver roof of the barn slid down into the yard,
collapsing in a flood of opals.  The whole world seemed unreal and
unstable, toppling to pieces and vanishing in the rising mist.

To Elizabeth it seemed like her new radiant world of usefulness, which
she had been building on her journey from Toronto.  It was falling to
pieces about her ears, before the breath of her aunt's disapproval.

The glorious freshness of the breeze, the dazzling blue of the sky, and
the quivering, flashing radiance of the bejeweled world set all her
city-stifled nerves tingling to be up and away over the wind-swept
fields and the wet lanes.  But she sat in the old rocker by the
dining-room fire and clasped her hands close in her efforts to keep
back the tears.  This homecoming had been so sadly different from all
others.  She had not been welcome.  The Dale and every dear old
familiar nook and corner of the surrounding fields had seemed to open
their arms to her and Eppie when John Coulson brought them out from
Cheemaun three days before.  Her father had received them with
unquestioning joy.  Mary and the boys had been hilarious in their
welcome.  Her aunt alone had met her with a greeting tempered by
doubts.  Notwithstanding the years of worldly success to Elizabeth's
credit, Miss Gordon still lived in some fear lest the wild streak
reappear.  She had reserved her judgment, however, until her niece
should explain, and the opportunity for a quiet talk had come upon the
third morning after their arrival.  As soon as breakfast was over, and
the early morning duties attended to, Miss Gordon took her
embroidery--Mary did the darning now--to the dining-room fire and
called Elizabeth to her.

The old stone house was very quiet.  Sarah Emily's successor, a shy
little maid from an orphan home, was moving noiselessly about the
kitchen under Mary's able supervision.  Jamie was far on the road to
Cheemaun High School, his books slung over his back, and Mr. Gordon was
shut in his study.  Eppie lay upstairs in the big airy room that had
once been the boys'.  Even where she sat Elizabeth could catch the echo
of her racking cough.

Miss Gordon seated herself comfortably before the fire, bidding
Elizabeth do the same.

They had not yet had a moment to talk about the future, she said
pleasantly.  There had been so much to say about poor little Eppie.
But they must discuss Elizabeth's own affairs now.  First, how long
could she remain at home?  She hoped Mrs. Jarvis did not want her to
return immediately?

Elizabeth felt, rather than saw, the look of sharp inquiry her aunt
bent upon her.  There was no hope of putting off the explanation any
longer.  She turned towards her with a sinking heart.  It had always
been impossible to explain her actions to Aunt Margaret.  And now,
though she was a woman, Elizabeth felt a return of her old childish
dread of being misunderstood.

She began carefully--away back at the resolution her young heart had
made to use her influence with Mrs. Jarvis to help Eppie.  Of her
higher aims and aspirations she could not speak; and because she was
forced to do so, to be silent concerning her yearnings for a higher
life, and the revelation that had come to her that wonderful afternoon
in St. Stephen's; because of this, even to her own ears, her story did
not sound convincing.  Her course of conduct did not appear so
inevitable as it had before she faced her aunt.

When she had bidden Mrs. Jarvis farewell, declaring she could no longer
endure the life of fashion and idleness which they lived, and had
buried poor old Sandy and taken Eppie and fled home with her, she had
been as thoroughly convinced as Charles Stuart, her aider and abettor,
that this was the only line of conduct to pursue.  To Elizabeth's mind
it had appeared beyond doubt that, from the day her benefactress,
acting through Mr. Huntley, had allowed Eppie to be driven from her
home, that those two had been directly responsible for all the girl's
misery.  And this one case had revealed to her the awful train of
innocent victims that must surely follow in the path of selfish
idleness which Mrs. Jarvis pursued, or that of money-making followed by
Mr. Huntley.  And Elizabeth, too, was of their world, eating of their
bread, accepting all the luxury that came from this wrong-doing.  This
was the thought that had stung her into such headlong action.  She had
told Mrs. Jarvis the whole truth, offending her bitterly thereby, and
had escaped without even a word of farewell to Mr. Huntley.  But now,
in the telling of it all, she seemed to see herself each moment growing
more culpable and ridiculous in her aunt's eyes.

And when she finished her story with an appeal, she was met by that
old, old sentence that had been so many times pronounced upon her:

"I cannot understand you."

Elizabeth did not quite understand herself.  She knew only that an
inner voice--an echo from the thrilling words spoken in the church--had
commanded and she could not but obey.  The King's Highway was calling
for her--she was needed to make it smooth for someone's feet.  That
voice had promised great things, too,--that the wilderness and the
solitary places should be glad because of her coming, that the rose of
Sharon should blossom by her side--that, because of her, some little of
the sorrow and sighing of this sad world should flee away.  And now,
instead, there were thorns along the pathway, and she had brought
distress upon one she loved.

If she could only explain, she said to herself in despair.  She looked
out of the west window away down Champlain's Road with its swaying,
towering hedge of bejeweled elms, to the old farm-house against the
pines of Long Hill.  Mother MacAllister would understand without any
explanation.  If she were only telling Mother MacAllister!

"It seems so unnecessary, your leaving Mrs. Jarvis," Miss Gordon
continued.  "Someone else could have brought Eppie.  And what we are to
do with her I cannot tell.  You cannot but see that she is consumptive,
and it would be folly for us to allow her to be in the same home with
Mary.  Even you must understand that Mary is in danger of that disease,
Elizabeth."

The girl's face blanched.  "I will take complete care of her, aunt,"
she said hastily.  "Mary need not go near her.  But both Mr. Bagsley
and Mrs. Jarvis's doctor said Eppie would soon get better with fresh
air and good nursing."

"One never can tell with a disease like that.  And as for good
nursing--I see clearly that as usual the burden must fall upon me."
Miss Gordon sighed deeply and hunted in her basket for her spool.  "It
is quite out of the question for you to undertake nursing her.  I could
not allow it in any case, but it would be unfair to Mrs. Jarvis.  She
must expect your return any day?"  She looked up inquiringly, and
Elizabeth's clasped hands clenched each other again.  She made a
desperate attempt to be brave, and turned squarely towards her aunt.
The very necessity of the case drove her to take courage.

"Aunt Margaret," she said deliberately, "you do not quite understand
yet.  I--I cannot--I am not going back to Mrs. Jarvis--any more."

Miss Gordon dropped the linen square she was embroidering, but
recovered it instantly.  Even in the shock of dismay, she was dignified
and self-restrained.

"Elizabeth," she said with a dreadful calm, "what is this you are
telling me?"

"I cannot go back," repeated the girl with the courage of despair.  "I
am sorry--oh, sorrier than I can possibly tell you, Aunt Margaret, that
I have brought all this trouble upon you.  But I had to leave.  I
explained to Mrs. Jarvis how I felt--that it seemed as if we both had
profited at Eppie's expense, and that as she had allowed Eppie to be
turned out of her home, I felt as if she were responsible--as well as
myself.  And so I came away.  I couldn't live that kind of life after
seeing Eppie's home--and what she was almost driven to.  Oh, Aunt
Margaret, can't you understand that I couldn't!"

Miss Gordon was staring at her in a way that robbed Elizabeth of her
small stock of courage.  "Wait," she said, raising her hand to stop the
incoherent flow.  "Do I understand you to say that you--you insulted
Mrs. Jarvis--and left her?"

"I didn't mean to insult her," whispered Elizabeth with dry lips.
"I--I felt I was as much to blame as she--and I said so."

"And Mr. Huntley?  What of him?"  The girl looked up suddenly, a wave
of indignation lending a flash to her gray eyes.

"Aunt Margaret, he owned the house Eppie lived in!" she cried, as
though it were a final condemnation.

Miss Gordon waved her aside.

"And he was ready to offer you marriage.  Mrs. Jarvis told me so in her
last letter.  Elizabeth,--do you at all comprehend what a disastrous
thing you have done?"

Elizabeth looked out of the window in dumb despair.  Miss Gordon arose,
and, crossing the room, closed the door leading into the hall.  In all
the years in which she had seen her aunt disturbed over her
wrong-doing, Elizabeth had never witnessed her so near losing her
self-control.  The sight alarmed her.

Miss Gordon came back to her seat and threw her work aside.  She faced
her niece, clasping and unclasping her long slender hands, until her
heavy, old-fashioned rings made deep marks in the flesh.

"Elizabeth," she said with an effort at calm, "the only possible excuse
that can be made for your conduct is that you must have been out of
your mind when you acted so.  If you realized what you were doing, you
have acted criminally.  You have brought this consumptive girl here,
and endangered Mary's life, just when I felt she was beginning to be
strong.  You have destroyed John's prospects.  He cannot possibly
accept this position, since you have treated Mr. Huntley in this
fashion.  You have utterly ruined your own chances in life.  And what
chances you have had!  Never was a girl so fortunate as you.  But you
have all your life deliberately flung aside every piece of good fortune
that came your way.  And wait,"--as Elizabeth strove to speak--"this is
not the worst.  You have never known that we live here in The Dale
merely by Mrs. Jarvis's favor.  Your father has no deed for this
property, no more than old Sandy McLachlan had for his.  He might claim
it by law, now,--but if Mrs. Jarvis asks us to leave, we must do so.
Thank Heaven, some of the Gordons have pride!  And that she will ask us
now, after the outrageous manner in which you have met all her
generosity, I have not the slightest doubt.  We shall all be turned out
of our home, and you will bring your father's gray hairs down with
sorrow to the grave."

She arose and walked up and down, wringing her hands.  Her extravagant
words and actions were so pregnant with genuine grief and despair, that
they smote Elizabeth's heart with benumbing blows.  Mary, John, her
aunt, and now the best beloved of all--her father!  She was bringing
ruin upon them all!  Totally unaccustomed to deliberate thinking, she
was unable to view the situation calmly, and took every accusation of
her aunt's literally.

"Aunt Margaret!" she cried desperately, moved more by the sight of the
stately woman's abandon than by the thought of her own shortcomings.
"Oh, Aunt Margaret,--don't!  It may not be so bad!  And can't you see I
didn't mean to do wrong?  Oh, I truly didn't.  You always taught us to
do our duty first.  We knew it was the sense of duty that kept you here
when you wanted to go back to Edinburgh.  And I felt it was my duty to
bring Eppie and come away.  Oh, if you could only have seen the place
where poor old Sandy died!  And Eppie need not stay here.  Tom and
Granny Teeter want to take her--and the Cleggs, and,--oh, if you'll
only forgive me!"  Elizabeth broke down completely.  She had made a
horrible mistake somehow--she did not understand how, any more than she
had understood in her childhood how she was always bringing sorrow upon
her aunt.

Miss Gordon came and stood over her.  She was once more calm and
self-contained.  "I can never forgive you, Elizabeth," she said
deliberately, "until you have become reconciled to Mrs. Jarvis.  Go
back to her and beg her pardon for your conduct, and then come and ask
mine."

She gathered up her work, and in her stateliest manner walked from the
room.  Elizabeth's first impulse was to fling herself upon the sofa in
a passion of despair, but the remembrance of Eppie saved her.  She sat
a few minutes fighting for self-control, and praying for help, the
first real prayer she had uttered for years.  When she was sufficiently
calm she went up to the room where Eppie lay with the March sunshine
streaming over her pillow.  Her eyes brightened at the sight of
Elizabeth, but instantly the old look of dull despair came back.
"You're a little better to-day, aren't you, dear?" Elizabeth asked,
striving to be cheerful.  Eppie nodded.  "Yes, I'm better," she said
drearily.

"And it's the loveliest day, Eppie.  Why, we have glass trees in the
lane, and it's so sunshiny.  If you'll only hurry up and get strong,
you'll be in time to pick the first May flowers that grow down by the
old place."

"I think I'd rather not see it, Lizzie," said the sick girl.
"Grandaddy and me used to talk by the hour about comin' back to Forest
Glen.  And I always wanted to get back that bad it made me sick.  But
now I think I'd sooner not see the old place, because he can't see it
too."

Elizabeth's forced calm was forsaking her.  The tears welled up in her
eyes.

"Ye're not well yourself to-day, Lizzie," whispered Eppie.  "What's
troublin'?"

"Nothing you can help, dear," said Elizabeth hastily.  "See, I'm going
to get you some milk and then you must sleep."  She fled from the room,
and down the hall towards her own little bedroom.  At the head of the
stairs she met Mary carrying a covered dish.  Mary was not ignorant of
the turn affairs had taken, and her sympathy was all for her sister,
for she would have welcomed any disaster that brought Lizzie home.

"I've made Eppie a custard," she said comfortingly.  "I'll give it to
her and you can go to see Mother MacAllister--she'll help."  There was
a secret bond of sympathy between the sisters that enabled Mary to
divine that whatever was the nature of Elizabeth's trouble, Mother
MacAllister would prove an excellent doctor.

But Elizabeth took the bowl.  "No, I must attend to Eppie myself.  Aunt
Margaret does not want you to be with her.  Never mind me, Mary dear,
I've made a big muddle of things, as usual, but it can't be helped now.
I shall go and see Mother MacAllister as soon as Eppie goes to sleep."

It was afternoon before Elizabeth found an opportunity to leave.
Eppie's cough was painful and persistent, and Miss Gordon kept her room
prostrated with a nervous headache.  But late in the day both invalids
sank into slumber, and finding nothing to do, Elizabeth flung on her
coat and hat and fled downstairs.

She paused for a moment at the study door as she passed.  Her father
was sitting at his desk, over his accounts.  Elizabeth approached and
gently laid her hand upon his shoulder.  It was a very thin, stooped
shoulder now, and the hair on his bowed head was almost white.  The
mental picture of him being driven from The Dale through her act rose
up before his daughter, and choked her utterance.  Unaccustomed to any
affectionate demonstrations as the Gordon training had made her, she
could not even put her arms about his neck, as she longed to do, but
stood by him silent, her hand on his shoulder.

"Well, Mary, child," he said in his absent way.  Then he glanced up.
"Eh, eh, it's little Lizzie?  Well, well!  Tuts, tuts, of course you
are home again."  He patted the hand on his shoulder affectionately.

"Are you glad to have me home, father?" whispered the girl when she
could find her voice.  It was a foolish question, but she longed to
hear him say she was welcome.

"Glad?" he said.  "Tuts, tuts, there's been no sunshine in the house
since 'Lizbeth left.  Eh, eh, indeed, I think I must just be sending
word to that Mrs. Jarvis that I can't spare you any longer."

Elizabeth smiled wanly.  She could not trust herself to speak again.
She wanted to tell him she had come home to stay, and all that her
homecoming meant.  But she could not bear to trouble him.  She merely
patted his hand and slipped away before the tears could come.

The radiant morning had been succeeded by a dull afternoon.  Every opal
and diamond of the opening day had vanished.  Low sullen clouds drifted
over the dim-colored earth, and the wind was chill and dreary.
Elizabeth's mood was in perfect accord with the grayness.  She was
about to give herself up to melancholy when, as she plodded up the
muddy lane, she was hailed cheerfully from the road.  The speaker was
Auntie Jinit McKerracher, as she was still called, though correctly
speaking, she had been for some time past Auntie Jinit Martin.
Evidently her life as mistress of the red-brick house, from which she
had just come, had been a success.  Auntie Jinit looked every inch a
woman of prosperous independence.  Though the low clouds threatened
rain, she wore a very gay and expensive bonnet, adorned with many pink
roses that scarcely rivaled the color of her cheeks.  The dress she
held up in both hands, high above her trim gaiter-tops, was of black
satin, much bedecked with heavy beaded trimming.  From all appearances
Auntie Jinit had, to use her own phrase, been "up sides" with Jake
Martin, since her second marriage.

"And is yon yersel', Lizzie lass!" she cried heartily.  "An' hoo's the
pair bit lamb the day?"

"Eppie?  Oh, not much better, Auntie Jinit.  I'm afraid sometimes poor
Eppie will never be better."

A sympathetic light shone in Auntie Jinit's bright eyes, and a shrewd,
knowing pair of eyes they were.  Not much escaped them, and her visit
to The Dale the day before, coupled with Elizabeth's disappointed
appearance, told her plainly that all was not well between the girl and
her aunt.

"Tuts, lass," she said, "the warm weather 'll be along foreby, an'
she'll pick up.  Ah'll send oor Charlie ower wi' a bit jug o' cream
ivery morn, an' it'll mak the pair thing fatten up a wee."

"Thank you, Auntie Jinit," said Elizabeth, the kindness bringing the
tears to her eyes.  "You're so good."

Mrs. Martin glanced at her sideways again.  She had seen little of
Elizabeth within the last few years, but her regard for the girl had
never changed.  She was as proud of her as though she had been her own
daughter.  Her eyes rested fondly on the slim, erect figure in the long
gray coat, the smart, blue-gray velvet toque that matched the deep eyes
beneath, and the soft, warm coils of the girl's brown hair.  Lizzie was
a lady and no mistake, Mrs. Martin declared to herself, a lady from her
heart out to her clothes; and if that stuck up bit buddy at The Dale,
who thought herself so much above her neighbors, had been worrying the
lass, she, Auntie Jinit, was going to find out about it.

"Ye'll need help in lookin' after her," she said, feeling her way, "an'
Mary's no able to gie it."

"That's just the trouble," said Elizabeth, responding to the sympathy.
"I wouldn't mind caring for her myself entirely, but Aunt Margaret--I
mean we all feel a little afraid for Mary--she's not strong.  And, to
tell you the truth, Auntie Jinit," she added hesitatingly, "I don't
quite know what to do with poor Eppie."

"Hoots, lassie."  Auntie Jinit's voice was very sympathetic.  She was
beginning to understand fully.  "There's mair folk than ah can name
that's jist wearyin' to tak the bairn.  There's Tom Teeter----"

"But granny could never give her proper care, auntie, and it wouldn't
be right to burden her."

"Weel, there's Noah Clegg, an' there's yer ain Mother MacAllister, aye,
an' there's Jinit Martin, tae.  We've a braw hoose ower by yonder, jist
wearyin' to be filled.  Ah'll tak the bit lass masel," she finished up
suddenly, and closed her firm mouth with a resolute air.

Elizabeth looked at her in amazement and admiration.  Jake Martin's
house was the last place in Ontario she had supposed one would choose
as a refuge for an orphan.  Certainly Auntie Jinit had worked a
revolution there.

"But there's Susie, Auntie Jinit, she's not as strong as Mary."

"Ah'll mind Susie, niver you fear, ma lass----"

"And--Mr. Martin?" hesitatingly.

Auntie Jinit laughed a gay, self-sufficient laugh.  "Ah'll mind him
tae," she said firmly.  "Ah've sed to Jake mony's the time--there'll be
some awfu' jedgment come upon this house, Jake Martin, because ye
turned a bit helpless bairn an' a decreepit auld buddy oot o' their
hame.  An' Jake kens ah'm richt.  He's been a bit worrit aboot it, an'
ah'll jist pit it till him plain that if he taks Eppie it'll jist avert
the wrath o' the Almichty."

Had Elizabeth's heart been a little less heavy, she must have enjoyed
immensely this slight revelation of the change in affairs at the Martin
home.  Auntie Jinit had indeed worked a transformation there.  The
house was well-furnished and comfortable.  The younger children were
receiving an education; Charlie, one of the older sons, had returned to
help his father on the farm; Susie, under the care of the best doctors
in Cheemaun, was slowly creeping back to health and strength, and Mrs.
Martin herself was the finest dressed woman who drove along Champlain's
Road of a Saturday with her butter and eggs.

Something like a smile gleamed in Elizabeth's eyes, as she looked at
her, tripping along by the muddy roadside.

"So don't ye worry, ma lass," she said.  "It's a braw fine thing ye
did, bringin' the pair stray lamb back to the auld place, an' berryin'
the auld man; an' it's no fit ye'll be carryin' the burden.  Beside,
ye'll be leavin' us a' sune, ah doot.  Yon braw leddy 'll no be able to
spare ye lang."

Elizabeth slowly shook her head.  "I don't intend going back," she
whispered.

"Not gaun back!"  Auntie Jinit's very figure was a living interrogation
mark.  But her penetrating glance saw the misery in the girl's face,
and her pity, always more active than even her curiosity, made her
pause.  She tactfully changed the subject.  She could afford to wait;
for all things that were hidden within the surroundings of Forest Glen
were certain to be revealed sooner or later to Mrs. Jake Martin.

"It's a raw day," she said.  "Ah didna like to venture oot, but ah
thocht ah'd jist rin ower an' see pair Wully.  He's no weel, an' he
wearies for me whiles.  Ah tauld Jake if he wesna jist himsel, ah'd
bide wi him the nicht."  She gave a sidelong glance as she said this,
half amused, half defiant.  But Elizabeth had not been home long enough
to understand the full meaning of the words and look.  These periodical
illnesses to which "pair Wully" was so strangely subject had a peculiar
significance in the Martin household.  It was reported throughout the
neighborhood that when Jake grew obdurate, as he sometimes dared, even
yet, his wife, by some process of mental telepathy, became convinced of
the notion that pair Wully would be jist wearyin' for her, he wasna'
weel onyway, an' micht jist slip awa' afore she saw him; and away the
devoted sister would hie, leaving the forsaken husband and his home to
whatever ill-luck fate might send.  As his house was faultlessly and
economically run when its mistress was there, and fell into ruinous
neglect in her absence, Jake generally succumbed at an early date.
Wully's physical condition having a strange correspondence to Jake's
mental state, they always recovered at precisely the same time, and
Auntie Jinit returned triumphant.  On this present occasion, the
proposed papering of the Martin parlor had caused a serious
indisposition in the Johnstone home, and Auntie Jinit was on her way
gayly thither, prepared to nurse her brother until the paper was ready
to be hung.  She anticipated a struggle over Eppie, but Auntie Jinit
knew her power and was ready for the fray.

She kissed Elizabeth affectionately as she left her at the MacAllister
gate, bidding her be cheery, it would all end right, and tripped away
down the road to her brother's home.  Elizabeth found Mother
MacAllister sitting in her accustomed seat by the kitchen window.  She
had more time to sit there now, for Wully Johnstone's only unmarried
daughter had come to be the helper in the MacAllister kitchen when
Sarah Emily became the wife of Peter, and declared she couldn't put up
with anybody's penoeuvres when she was cooking a dinner.

Mother MacAllister's eyes rested fondly on the girl as she laid off her
coat and hat.  Lizzie was still to her the little daughter she had
lost, and her homecomings brought her joy second only to that of her
own son.

"And you'll not be looking yourself, lovey," she said tenderly when
Eppie had been inquired for.  "Is it a trouble I could be helping?"

Yes, it was just for help she had come, Elizabeth explained, and
sitting on her old seat, the milking-stool, at Mother MacAllister's
knee, she told her all, how she had left Mrs. Jarvis, and the life of
fashion they had lived, because she had been given a glimpse of another
life--one employed in the King's service.  And she had seen also the
life that the unfortunate ones of the earth led, the cruel misery they
suffered, and it had all seemed to her the direct result of her own
self-indulgence.  She had fled from that selfish life, and now her act
was likely to bring disaster upon those she loved best, and she was in
doubt.  Perhaps she had done wrong.  Had she?  And was it possible a
right act could bring such dire results?

And then Mother MacAllister went, as she always did in times of
perplexity, to the story of the One Who had suffered all man's
infirmities and knew as no other knew how to sympathize with man's
troubles.  She read of how He turned away from worldly power and
triumph and chose a life of poverty, and a death of shame, because He
loved, and love gave all.  And sitting there, listening, with swelling
heart Elizabeth lived again that radiant evening when Mother
MacAllister had first shown her a glimpse of what His service meant.
And this was a renewed vision, a lifting of the clouds that still
obscured the dawn.  She went home with a feeling of exaltation in her
heart.  "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have
done it unto Me," Mother MacAllister had said in parting.  Lizzie had
done right and she must leave the consequences with Him.  He would see
that it came out all right.  As she paused to open the sodden gate
leading into The Dale lane, she glanced back at the old farm-house
against the dark background of pines.  Above the long hill the wind had
opened a long golden rent in the gray skies.  Elizabeth smiled.  It was
a beautiful omen, and hopeful.

She soon discovered that she needed all the light that her vision of
love and duty could shed upon her pathway; for the ensuing days proved
dark ones.  The possibilities of coming disaster hung over her head,
and her aunt's attitude of aggrieved reproachfulness was torture to the
girl's loving heart.  To add to her suffering, Miss Gordon insisted,
martyr-like, in taking charge of Eppie.  Elizabeth strove to assist,
but she was always doing things wrong, and her aunt sighed and declared
she only added to her burdens.  Offers of a home for Eppie had come
from all sides, but at first Miss Gordon refused each one.  For, after
all, the lady of The Dale was made of fine material.  Never could she
be brought to turn an orphan from her door, and her stern sense of duty
drove her to nurse the girl with all the care and skill she could
command.  But hers was a nature that, while it was capable of rising to
the height of a difficult task, failed in the greater task of carrying
the burden bravely.

So Tom Teeter, the Johnstones, the Cleggs, and the MacAllisters were
forced to content themselves with sending gifts of cream and fresh eggs
and chicken-soup and currant jelly to the poor little guest at The
Dale, until her hosts were embarrassed by their riches.  But Auntie
Jinit's offer was not to be so put aside.  For what was the use of
vanquishing a husband if one could not display the evidence of one's
triumph?  The new gay paper on the parlor wall witnessed to brother
Wully's complete recovery from rheumatism, but the crick in his back,
brought on by his brother-in-law's stormy refusal to take old Sandy
McLachlan's child into his home was long and persistent.  It had
vanished at last on a certain evening when Jake sheepishly presented
himself at the Johnstone home to inquire when his truant wife was
coming back.  This was always the enemy's sign of capitulation.  Auntie
Jinit sailed home with flying colors, and the next morning presented
herself at The Dale and demanded that Eppie go home with her.

Not even Miss Gordon dared deny her, and so Eppie went to her new
home--one where every care a motherly heart could contrive was given
her.  But Elizabeth's position was no less uncomfortable after Eppie
was gone.  Her aunt treated her with stately politeness, her manner
saying plainly that she was merely waiting for her erring niece to
confess herself mistaken, and ready to make amends.  But Elizabeth
still clung forlornly to her resolution.  She gained some comfort from
seeing Eppie growing strong and rosy, and much from Mother
MacAllister's counsel.

Annie and John Coulson sympathized, too, though even Annie could not
quite understand.

Just one event broke the monotony of Elizabeth's days before John's
homecoming.  This was a visit from Estella and Horace.  They drove out
one sunny afternoon and remained to tea.  Horace wore an apologetic
air, as though he felt guilty of having jilted Elizabeth, and Estella's
manner was of the same quality, with a dash of triumph.  On her way
upstairs to remove her wraps, Estella explained in an ecstatic whisper
that they were really and truly engaged, and didn't Beth think she had
the loveliest diamond ring ever?  Horace was such a dear, and the only
thing that marred her perfect happiness was--well, of course it was a
delicate matter--but neither she nor Horry could ever be quite happy
until Beth said she would forgive them.

Too amused to resent the imputation, Elizabeth granted a free and full
pardon, and then the true purport of Estella's visit was revealed.

"What on earth has happened between you and Aunt Jarvis?" she asked,
sitting down on the edge of the bed and fluffing up her light hair
before the mirror.  "You see I call her Aunt Jarvis already--I might as
well, you know, we'll be married so soon.  Whatever has happened, Beth;
was the old crank nasty to you?"

"Oh, Stella!  No, she was always good and kind, but I--oh, I can't
explain, only it was all my fault."

"Well, then, you'd better get to work and make it all right, you silly
thing.  Madeline's just out of her head with joy about it.  She's quite
the nastiest thing that ever lived, Beth Gordon, even if she is to be
my sister-in-law.  Neither she nor old mother Oliver have called on me,
or noticed our engagement in any way, and Madeline's getting ready to
go to the Old Country with Aunt Jarvis--instead of you, Beth, and if
you let her I'll never, never forgive you.  We'd just love to take our
wedding-trip to the Old Country--I mean to go abroad, nobody in
Cheemaun ever says the Old Country now--but we can't.  Mr. Oliver's as
stingy mean with poor darling Horry as ever he can be.  And if Madeline
goes I'll--Oh, Beth, whatever did happen to make you act so?"

Elizabeth explained that she could not possibly interfere.  She was not
to return to Toronto.  Mrs. Jarvis probably did not want her any more.
Then, to quit the uncomfortable subject, she suggested they go down to
her aunt and Horace.

"My, you're so close," grumbled Estella, rising and shaking out her
silk skirts.  "I came out here on purpose to get it all out of you.
But I'll do it anyway--see if I don't."

"Do what?" added Elizabeth, half-alarmed.

Estella laughed gayly.  "Never you mind, Betsey dear.  I can be as mum
as yourself, never fear.  It'll be a good turn for you, anyway," and
she kissed her old schoolmate with genuine affection.

The subject was not referred to again, as Estella occupied the
remainder of her visit talking about her trousseau, and she left
without Elizabeth discovering just what she intended to do.

The days passed slowly and painfully, and the next event was John's
homecoming.  Elizabeth had looked forward to it, with something of the
feeling a ship-wrecked mariner experiences when he sees an approaching
vessel.

But John's presence did not bring the comfort she had fondly expected.
He said not one word of reproach; but his sister could not help seeing
he was deeply disappointed over the loss of his position.  He had
received no further orders from Mr. Huntley regarding his appointment,
and had hesitated to approach him.  He would send for him, the lawyer
had said, when all arrangements were completed, but no summons had come
yet, and John was feeling very much depressed indeed.

"Oh, John," groaned Elizabeth, as they wandered in the lane one warm
spring evening, "I wish--I can't tell you how I wish I hadn't spoiled
this chance of yours.  But I can't see how I could have acted
otherwise."

"It's all right, Lizzie," he said comfortingly.  "Don't you worry.  Of
course, I can't see just why you went and busted up things in such a
wholesale manner.  But I know you felt it was the thing to do, and I
can go somewhere else.  I may get in with Dr. Harper here in Cheemaun."

"I feel I did right," Elizabeth said mournfully, "but it seems to have
turned out all wrong.  What does Jean say?"

"Jean?"  John laughed.  "She wasn't saying anything to anybody but old
Bags when I came away.  Boys, oh!  If I didn't forget.  She cautioned
me to break the news that they were engaged."

"Engaged!  Who?"

"Why, Jean and Bagsley."

"Jean and--and what?" screamed Elizabeth.  "Not the bone man?"

"Yes, why not?  He's all right I tell you, Lizzie.  Finest chap in our
year.  Going to be gold medalist, sure."

"But how on earth?--what in the world?--John Gordon, are you telling me
the truth or is it a joke?"

"Both.  Mac and I nearly took hysterics the night Bags told us.  We
never suspected it.  He never met a girl on the street without shying,
and how he and Jean made it up is a mystery.  But it's all right, and
Aunt Margaret 'll be tickled to death.  Say, you must tell her.  Go and
do it now like a good kid.  I'm going over to have a chat with Tom."

But Elizabeth would not let him go.  She had not recovered from the
shock.  For the first time since her return home she felt her old
spirits return.  As yet, to Elizabeth, all love-making was something of
a joke, and this was undoubtedly the funniest thing that had ever
happened in Cupid's line.  She deluged John with questions.  What had
put it into the bone-collector's shaggy head?  And having got it there,
where did he get the courage to propose?  He must have done it by
telephone, and long-distance, too.  Or did he come stumbling into
Jean's study and inquire in awful tones, "Miss Gordon, will you lend me
your heart?" and then dash out and fall downstairs?  And even if one
could imagine his offering himself, how could anyone who knew Jean
conjure up a picture of her stopping her mathematics long enough either
to accept or reject?  What a "come-downer" it would be for Jean to be
merely married!

The brother and sister laughed together, in the disrespectful way that
younger brothers and sisters have, and Miss Gordon, seated at her
sewing by the open parlor window, heard Elizabeth's gay voice with
rising resentment.  The care-free laughter seemed to her but another
indication of the girl's defiant indifference to her wishes.

Elizabeth entered, radiant with her news, but the sight of her aunt's
face smote her.  Miss Gordon had aged under her disappointment, and
looked pale and dispirited.

"Is your head aching, Aunt Margaret?" the girl asked timidly.

"No, I thank you, Elizabeth," was the answer in the tones of stately
politeness which Miss Gordon always used towards her wayward niece.  "I
am merely worried.  But I have become accustomed to that lately."

She sighed deeply, and glad of a diverting subject, Elizabeth delivered
John's report of Jean.  The effect was most gratifying.  Her aunt grew
immediately alert and full of eager questions.  Elizabeth had very
little to tell.  She wisely kept her own impressions of the young man
to herself, but she dwelt upon the glowing report of Dr. Bagsley both
John and Charles Stuart had given, not forgetting to add that he had
greatly helped the latter in his philanthropic work.

"Jean has really done very well, then," Miss Gordon said, her face
suffused with a pleased flush.  "I really did not look to her for a
good match.  But Jean will always be a success, no matter in what
sphere she is placed."

Elizabeth was silent.  She could not picture Jean as a great success at
cooking the bone-man's dinner, though perhaps he never ate anything.
Mary was coming up the garden path from the lane, and as she looked at
her she wondered why girls always seemed to be trained for some other
life than that which fate brought them.  She herself should have been a
nurse, and so prepared to care for Eppie, and to do that work upon
which she had now determined.  Mary was perfectly fitted for a
home-maker, and the chances of Mary's marrying were very small, and
Jean was a mathematical machine and knew no more about housekeeping
than Dr. Bagsley himself might be expected to know.  It was such a
puzzling world--especially for girls.

"Two letters for you, Lizzie," Mary cried.  "Jamie's been to the
post-office.  One's a gentleman's handwriting, I can tell," she added,
teasingly, "and the other's from Mrs. Jarvis.  I know her writing."

Elizabeth took the letters tremblingly.  She recognized Mr. Huntley's
hand on the first, and the second was indeed from Mrs. Jarvis.  She was
painfully conscious that her aunt was watching her keenly as she opened
the latter.  The contents were even more of a surprise.  It began, as
Mrs. Jarvis's letters invariably did, with an account of her
sufferings.  Such prostrating headaches she had endured.  Dr. Ralston
had declared she was on the verge of a nervous collapse, and must leave
the city as soon as she was able to travel.  She did not wish to
reproach Beth, but there could be no doubt as to the cause.  It had
been so all her life.  Those to whom she had given most, for whom she
had made the greatest sacrifices, were always the ones who turned
against her.  First her husband, then her niece and Madeline, and
lastly Both, whom she had believed really loved her.  But--and here
Elizabeth received her surprise--she was ready to forgive.  It was her
way--her weakness, indeed, but she always forgave those who used her
most cruelly.  Yes, she would take Beth back if she would say she was
sorry.  That she was truly repentant Miss Raymond had assured her.
Horace and his pretty fiancée had called to see her when they were in
the city the day before, and Mrs. Jarvis had understood from them that
Beth loved her in spite of her strange, cruel actions, and was ready to
return.  The doctor had prescribed a sea voyage, and just as soon as
she could get a little strength to do some shopping, she would start
for Europe.  She was going with a party--Mr. Huntley was to be one of
them--and Beth must come too.  Yes, she really must.  Mrs. Jarvis was
ready to forgive and forget.  So was Mr. Huntley, she felt sure.  Of
course, he was grieved and hurt at Beth's conduct.  He could not
understand why she had gone away without a word of farewell.  She
herself had smoothed matters over as well as she could, but the worry
of it all had got on her nerves.  She did not pretend to understand
what strange notions Beth had got into her head.  As though she and Mr.
Huntley and Blanche Kendall were responsible for all the poverty in
Toronto.  Well, there was no use discussing the matter further--it only
made her nerves worse--and Dr. Ralston had said any more worry might
prove fatal.  But she felt that the sea-voyage would perhaps help her.
Beth must write at once and say what she would do, for Madeline would
come if Beth forsook her.  Madeline had written, indeed, offering her
services.  There was more about the headaches and nerves, but it ended
with words of genuine affection, that brought the tears to Elizabeth's
eyes.  To fight against love was the hardest task for Elizabeth.
Almost everyone she cared for, John, her aunt, Mrs. Jarvis, and
Estella, warm-hearted and loyal as she was in spite of many faults,
seemed arrayed against her to force her to yield.

The other letter was in Mr. Huntley's best formal and semi-pompous
style.  He, too, began in a slightly aggrieved tone.  He did not know
until lately that Miss Gordon was not coming back to Toronto at once.
He had fancied that some slight announcement of her departure was due
him, but, of course, she knew best.  Her brother, too, had gone without
acquainting him of the fact.  His appointment was still open, and he
would be expected to be on duty within a week's time.  Of course, Dr.
Gordon might not care to accept the position now; Mr. Huntley had
gathered from Mrs. Jarvis that somehow Miss Gordon was offended with
him.  He was not conscious of any offense given, and hoped to hear from
her that their relations were as friendly as when she had left the
city.  In which case he hoped to meet Dr. Gordon at his office not
later than Thursday, when the final arrangements for his work would be
made.

Elizabeth scarcely noticed the polite closing of the letter.  Her heart
was beating to suffocation.  She was dazzled by the prospect that had
suddenly opened before her.  To accept meant to gain everything the
world could give to make her happy; her home secured, John established
in his profession, her aunt content.  Then she thought of the sermon in
St. Stephen's Church with its call to a higher life, of Mother
MacAllister's words concerning One Who had Himself trod a thorny path
and Whose true disciple must be content to follow.

She looked up and saw her aunt's eyes fixed upon her in intense
eagerness.

"Your letter is from Mrs. Jarvis?"  Miss Gordon could not keep the
painful anxiety from showing in her face.

"Yes," faltered Elizabeth.  She did not offer to show it, as had been
her habit in the old days.  Miss Gordon turned away with a hurt,
grieved air.  "Of course," she said coldly, "I must not ask for your
confidence, Elizabeth.  I find it hard to remember that you do not
consult me any more in your affairs."

"Oh, Aunt Margaret!" cried the girl brokenly.  It was the cry of a
motherless child appealing for its rights to the one who had, in spite
of all deficiencies, filled a mother's place in her life.  "Here,--read
them both.  I do want your advice."  She shoved both letters into her
aunt's hands as she spoke.  Then she rose and fled upstairs to her
little room.  Something told her that in that act she had put away from
herself the power to choose; that she had turned her back upon the
Vision.



CHAPTER XVIII

DARKNESS

And so, once more Elizabeth failed.  This time the world did not
recognize the failure as such, and it was regarded by her family, and
especially by her aunt, as the highest success.  But Elizabeth knew;
that wiser inner self, always sternly honest, called her action by its
right name.  On the very evening she wrote Mrs. Jarvis, promising to
return, she felt the full bitterness of failure.  For at family worship
her father read from the life of that One whom she had, for a brief
time, tried to follow.  The Man of Nazareth had been showing His
disciples how His pathway must lead to the cross, and "from that time
many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him."  The
sorrowful words kept repeating themselves over and over to Elizabeth
after she had gone to bed--"went back and walked no more with Him"; and
though she had that day chosen wealth and worldly prosperity, in place
of hardship, poverty, and discomfort, she sobbed herself to sleep.

As the days passed and preparations for her departure went forward, she
struggled to regain her habitual cheerfulness.  John had gone West,
full of joyful ambitions, her home and her father's peace were assured,
her aunt was once more kind and happy.  But Elizabeth could not be
content.  Too honest to compromise with her conscience, she allowed
herself no false hopes in regard to making her life with Mrs. Jarvis a
useful one.  She could not bear to look into Mother MacAllister's eyes
the day she told her of her altered plans.  For the joy over Charles
Stuart's new life had made those eyes shine with a beautiful new
radiance, and the girl was grieved to see it dim.  And just what
Charles Stuart himself would say when he returned and found her gone,
was a speculation that could not but be disturbing.

By working hard, visiting here and there, writing letters, and spending
much time with Eppie, she managed to make the few remaining days pass.
When left alone she found her only refuge from pangs of regret was in
keeping herself extremely busy.  For this reason, having the big stone
house to herself one morning, she set to work at the housecleaning.
Annie and the babies had been with them for a day, and had gone home,
taking Mary and Miss Gordon with them for a day's shopping.  Elizabeth,
whose fickle allegiance was always given to the latest arrived Vision
in Annie's family, missed the soft cooing little voice and adorable
antics of Baby Betty, to the verge of heartache.  She realized that on
this quiet day she must do something strenuous.

Her first task was to see her father happily at work in his garden, and
her next was to send her little maid to the Martin farm to help Auntie
Jinit with her late spring soap-making.  Not that Auntie Jinit needed
help, but the Gordons strove in every way to show their friendliness
towards their kind neighbor.  Thus safe from the shocked protestations
that were sure to follow upon her engaging in anything useful,
Elizabeth set feverishly to work.

She would thoroughly clean the room Eppie had occupied, she resolved.
Arraying herself in a dress of Mary's which was much too long, an apron
of the little maid's that was much too short, and a huge dust-cap of
her aunt's, she set vigorously to work, washing, scrubbing, and
cleaning windows.  There was some grim satisfaction in the hard
physical labor, her last chance, she felt, to do something useful, some
satisfaction, too, in wondering what the fastidious Mr. Huntley would
say, could he see her.

She had finished the hardest part of her task and was just tacking up
with loving hands an old photograph of Annie's first Vision, in a long,
white robe, when she heard the front door open suddenly, and knew by
the bounding step that Sarah Emily had arrived.  Ever since her
marriage Mrs. Peter Johnstone regularly visited The Dale, at short
intervals, and in spite of many broad hints from her former mistress,
she had never yet become sufficiently formal to knock at the door.
"Come right up, Sarah Emily," Elizabeth called over the balustrade.

"I knowed you'd be alone, Lizzie," said the visitor, mounting gayly.
"I seen the rest o' the folks goin' off in all directions, an' ses I,
'I'll scoot over an' slap up a batch o' biscuits or somethin',' for I
knowed you couldn't get any dinner.  For the love o' the crows, you
ain't housecleanin'!"

"Doesn't this room look as if I were?"

Sarah Emily sniffed the damp clean odor.  "Well, I never.  If this
ain't a come-downer for a lady like you!"  She turned and regarded the
girl with affectionate reproach.  "What d'ye do it for?" she continued,
puzzled.

"Because I like it, Sarah Emily.  I'd like to go on doing it all my
life."

Sarah Emily laughed.  Of course this was only Lizzie's nonsense, and
she didn't mean a word of it.

"You're a pretty one," she declared, assuming her old air of authority,
which came to her easily in the presence of the Gordon children.
"Here, if you ain't gone and cleaned up the whole place an' that
stove-pipe not moved."

Elizabeth uttered an ejaculation of dismay.  "Oh, I forgot.  Can't we
do it yet?"

"Course we can!" said Sarah Emily cordially.  "Come along, I'll show
you!"

She flung aside her shawl and soon Elizabeth was in her old subordinate
position.  Sarah Emily took matters in her own hands.  She proceeded to
remove the stove from the study below and the pipes from the room
above, flying upstairs and downstairs in her old authoritative way,
much to Elizabeth's amusement.  At her peremptory summons Mr. Gordon
came in from his garden to lend a hand, evidently under the impression
that Sarah Emily had never left, and was merely attending to her
customary duties.  There was much running to and fro, and banging of
stove-pipes, and a great deal of talk and laughter, for Sarah Emily was
always in the gayest spirits if she happened to be at The Dale during
the absence of its mistress.  Besides, she was a born commander, and
shouted orders to her two subordinates with the greatest enjoyment.

All went smoothly and swiftly until the work was almost accomplished,
when a delay occurred.  Mr. Gordon was downstairs removing the
stove-pipes from the study.  Above, Sarah Emily, mounted upon a chair,
was supporting the long black column that ran into the chimney, while
Elizabeth, down on her knees, was preventing another column from
descending into the room below.

"Now, you down there!" shouted Sarah Emily, "you carry out them pipes
to the barnyard, so's the sut won't fly onto them clothes on the line,
an' me an' Lizzie 'll hold these till you get back."

Mr. Gordon, obedient to the voice from above, took the pipes, and his
retreating footsteps could be heard along the passage leading to the
kitchen.  While they waited his return Sarah Emily beguiled the time
with a story of how she circumvented that there Pete, who had
determined to sell the brindled cow to a butcher in Cheemaun.  But she
showed him who was boss, so she did.  Though married Sarah Emily still
kept up her show of cruel indifference, and never lost an opportunity
of telling how she trampled upon her husband.  The neighbors, however,
knew that she waited upon Peter hand and foot, and that he was growing
fat and arrogant.  So Elizabeth did not know just how much the
brindled-cow story was colored by the story-teller's imagination.  She
responded with a tale of the city, such as Sarah Emily liked, full of
finely dressed ladies, and flower-bedecked drawing-rooms.  Then Sarah
Emily recounted once again her experiences when she worked as maid for
Mrs. Oliver and first became acquainted with high life and Mrs. Jarvis.
This last circumstance she thankfully declared to be the beginning of
Lizzie's good luck.

But in spite of much entertaining talk, it soon began to be borne in
upon the minds of the two that both time and the stove-pipes were
hanging rather heavily on their hands.  Elizabeth shifted her cramped
position and wondered what could be keeping father; and Sarah Emily
braced herself against the wall and declared some folks were slower
than a seven years' famine.  It was impossible to leave their places,
for the pipes would collapse into the study below, so that there was
nothing to do but wait, Casabianca-like.  Elizabeth misquoted something
about the noble two who held the pipes in the brave days of old.  But
Sarah Emily did not understand the allusion, and the joke fell very
flat.  Her arms were cramped too, and her sense of humor was becoming
dulled.

They waited and called and waited, until at last Elizabeth became
alarmed, fearing something had happened to her father.  Still holding
her uncomfortable burden, she rose to her feet, whence she could
command a view from the windows overlooking the kitchen-garden.  One
glimpse she caught and uttered a shriek of laughter, which threatened
dislodgment of the stove-pipes.  For there, far down the garden, near
to Tom Teeter's fence, peacefully hoeing in his potato-patch, stood her
absent-minded father!

But Sarah Emily did not laugh.  Declaring that Lizzie's pa was the most
forgettable man that ever pestered the soul out of a body, she managed
to place herself so that her strong arms supported both sections of the
pipe and dispatched Elizabeth after the truant.

Mr. Gordon flung up his hands in dismay at his daughter's appearance,
and fled back to the house full of apologies enough to appease even
Sarah Emily, who was by this time both cramped and cross.  Elizabeth
followed more slowly, filled with laughter.  It was impossible to hurry
indoors on such a morning.  The orchard path was bordered with soft
grass, vividly green.  The bluebirds hopped and twittered in the
branches above, and on every side the undulating fields stretched away,
shimmering in the warm sunshine.  When Elizabeth looked back in later
years at the picture of herself walking gayly down the orchard path on
that radiant morning, she wondered how she could have laughed, and how
it was possible that not the smallest premonition was given her of the
storm of anguish so rapidly approaching.

As she reached the end of the orchard path the rattle of wheels
attracted her.  She looked up to see John Coulson driving slowly down
the lane.  She ran through the house and out to the garden gate in glad
surprise, full of questions.  What had brought him out here at this
hour?  And why did he come alone?  And what did he mean by leaving Baby
Bet at home?  And what did he do with Mary and Aunt Margaret?  And
didn't he think she looked fetching in this cap and apron?

And then some subtle change in John Coulson's kindly manner made itself
felt.  She slipped her hand into his arm as they went up the garden
path.

"Is anybody sick, John Coulson?  How is baby?"

"She's all right, dear.  No, Annie isn't ill, nor anyone--only--I--have
something to tell you, Lizzie.  Come in, I want to see you alone."

The study stove-pipes were still being removed, and Elizabeth led her
brother-in-law into the parlor.  Her heart seemed clutched by a cold
hand.  Something was the matter, or why should John Coulson call her
Lizzie, and look at her with such sorrowful eyes.

"John Coulson!" she cried, clutching his arm, "I know something's
happened.  Oh, is it baby?"

No, it wasn't baby, he answered her again, but he led her to the sofa
and sat beside her, holding her hand.  And then he told her--Elizabeth
never knew just how he broke the news, whether it had been gently or
suddenly.  She only knew that he had come to tell her that John was
dead; that John had been killed by an explosion of dynamite, at the
blasting of a tunnel on the British North American Railroad.

She listened quietly to the faltering words, and when they were ended
she said nothing.  She sat looking at her brother-in-law, her hands
hanging inertly, and thought how strange it seemed to see a big, strong
man like John Coulson with tears running down his face.  It seemed
strange, too, that she was not sorry that John had been killed.  Often
in earlier years she had tormented herself by imagining the death of
some member of the family, and her heart had scarcely been able to bear
the anguish of such a thought.  And now John was dead, and she did not
mind.  She felt sorry for John Coulson, of course, he seemed so very,
very sad.  He was looking at her with such anguished eyes, that she
patted his arm comfortingly.

"Poor John Coulson," she said.  "Why, we won't need to call you John
Coulson any more, will we?--only John."  Then she arose and called her
father and Sarah Emily, so that they might be told, and went quietly
upstairs to finish the task she had left.

But she did not go to work.  Instead she sat down in the chair upon
which Sarah Emily had stood, and tried to reason herself into some
feeling of grief.  Why, she had not even felt like shedding a tear, and
Aunt Margaret would be home soon, and she would think her so cold and
cruel.  She must really try to cry a little when Aunt Margaret came,
even though she didn't feel sorry that John was dead.  The stove-pipes
had been removed, and she sat by the empty pipe-hole listening idly to
the sound from below.  She could hear John Coulson's low, deep voice,
and Sarah Emily's loud lamentations.  She wished she could act like
Sarah Emily, it seemed so much more sympathetic.  Her mind seemed to
have become possessed of a keenness never felt before.  She thought out
every detail of the changed circumstances John's death must bring,
forgetting nothing.  It would mean that she could not leave home quite
so soon, she reflected, and even wondered how Mrs. Jarvis would feel
when she learned that Elizabeth must wear black.

And all the time she was feeling ashamed that she could sit so
callously making plans, while even now John's dead body must be on its
way home.  But then she did not feel sorry.  She wondered if there had
ever before been anyone bereaved who had been so heartless.

The sound of wheels reached her alert senses, and she arose and went to
the window overlooking the lane.  She saw a carriage come down with her
aunt and Mary in it, and Charles Stuart driving.  She did not think it
strange that he should be there, but only wondered if he felt sorry
about John.  Evidently Mary did, for she was sobbing convulsively, and
Aunt Margaret walked so slowly that Charles Stuart gave her his arm up
the garden path.  Elizabeth arose and softly closed the door, lest her
aunt come and find her.  She was not sorry that John was killed.

She came back to her seat by the pipe-hole and again listened to the
sounds of lamentation from below.  Then the study door closed and she
could hear only the voices of Charles Stuart and John Coulson.  She
peeped down and saw Charles Stuart's face.  He was sitting by her
father's desk, and he did not look sorry, only angry.  His face was
ghastly pale and his eyes burned red as he stretched his clenched fist
along the top of the desk.  Elizabeth leaned down and deliberately
listened in the hope that she might hear some details of the accident,
that would make her feel sorry.

"Oh, John Coulson," the low, anguished voice was saying, "it's devilish
work this money-making.  It's blood money that man Huntley is getting,
and he declares he knew nothing about it--and I suppose he doesn't, but
he'll take the money, you'll see!  And Mrs. Jarvis has shares in it.
And--and Lizzie----"

His voice broke.  There was a deathly silence.

"This must never reach her ears, Stuart, nor any of them.  It would
kill Aunt Margaret."  That was John Coulson's voice, and Elizabeth held
her breath to catch what this was she must not hear.  If it were so
terrible, surely it would make her feel just a little regretful
concerning John.

"No, no," Charles Stuart answered.  "They'll never know, and the public
will never know.  The man who did the dastardly thing will see to that.
And his company, headed by Huntley, will shield him."

"Can't they be exposed?"  John Coulson's voice was a mere whisper.

"Exposed!  Not they.  The papers say it was merely an accident, with
only one white man killed.  That is Huntley's story too, and who cares
that a hundred or so Chinamen were blown to pieces?  Nobody is going to
be so crude as to announce that they were put out of the way when the
company was done with them, to save big arrears in wages.  And nobody
can prove it.  They'll make a fuss about John----"  The voice broke
again.  Elizabeth did not wait to hear more.  She arose and went
quietly down to the study.  She opened the door and stood facing the
two men.  She did not feel one pang of grief as yet, but she wanted to
make things plain.  She wanted to explain to John Coulson and Charles
Stuart that it was not the President of the British North American
Railroad that had killed John, but she, his favorite sister; because it
was she who in her stepping aside from the path of her plain duty had
sent him to his death.  This she was determined to tell, but somehow
the words seemed so slow in coming.  She stretched out her hands in an
attempt to explain herself.  Then she saw Charles Stuart spring towards
her out of a mist, and there fell over her a great darkness.



CHAPTER XIX

SUNRISE

Long before the sun appeared above Arrow Hill Elizabeth was dressed and
sitting at her bedroom window watching the lane.  For she had promised
Auntie Jinit that she would be off to the creek at the earliest hour to
gather violets and lady's-slippers and swamp lilies to decorate the
tables for the wedding breakfast.  Charlie Stuart had promised to call
for her at sunrise, but she was too excited to rest.

For this was Eppie's wedding-day.  Poor little Eppie had found her home
at last--her old home too.  Jake Martin, at his wife's instigation, had
handed over to his son the little farm that had once belonged to old
Sandy and there Charlie and Eppie were to start their new life.  And so
just as the stars were sinking into the faint blue vault of heaven, and
the earth was rising slowly from its shroud of darkness and sleep,
Elizabeth had arisen and was now dressed and waiting for Charles Stuart
long before he could be expected.

The grand forward march of day had commenced; very slowly and
majestically it was approaching, and the waking earth stirred at the
sound of its footsteps.  From every bush and tree looming up from the
grayness, from every field spread out in dark waving folds, and from
the black swamp beyond uprose the welcoming chorus.  Elizabeth was
reminded of that early dawn she had witnessed so long ago when she had
sat at this same window watching for Charles Stuart.  That was the
morning she had seen Annie steal down the orchard path to meet her
lover, the morning she had experienced her first hint of that desire,
now strong within her, to sing of the glories of earth and sky.

She leaned forward over the window-sill, listening to the great chant
earth was raising to heaven.  Up behind the black trees of Arrow Hill
shone a faint crystal transparency--the airy curtain that yet obscured
the wonders of the dawn.  A mist gathered in Elizabeth's eyes.  Those
words that had come to her in that dawn years before returned:--"Who
coverest thyself with light as with a garment; who stretchest out the
heavens like a curtain."  Slowly, imperceptibly, that garment of light
was growing brighter, changing to a faint luminous gold as the gray
earth changed to a deep blue.

Down the drive lane, near the creek stood the old elm, its topmost
branch still towering into the heavens, its lower limbs sweeping the
earth.  Remembering how it had come to life that other morning,
Elizabeth leaned farther out to listen.  And as it slowly took form,
gathering itself from the blue background, there arose the musical
accompaniment to its birth, the loud rapture of a robin's morning hymn.

It paeaned the waking note to the watcher as well.  Elizabeth's soul
soared up with it in ecstatic worship, voiced in the notes of a new
song, that came from her heart as freely as did the robin's.  For years
her fettered spirit had been struggling to express its music, but the
repression of her early life, disobedience to the call to higher and
nobler things, and later a crushing sorrow had stifled her voice.  But
now she was free.  She had not been disobedient to the heavenly vision.
Her soul had turned at last to meet the dawning need, valiant for
doing.  It had arisen at last, warm and radiant, and she was permitted
to sing its welcoming chorus in notes that were to make her name known
throughout the length and breadth of her native land.

The dawn had come to Elizabeth through storm and darkness.  She never
quite recovered from the blow that had driven her back, wounded and
faint, to the path of duty.  Never a day passed that she did not miss
the dear companionship of John, did not listen half-unconsciously for
his footsteps, never a night she did not remember with anguished heart
the manner of his death.  But a year had passed, helping to heal the
wound, and Elizabeth had found happiness in service.  One year more and
she would be a graduate of a nurses' training school, and a brilliant
graduate too, her superior officers predicted.  For at last Elizabeth
was succeeding.  And so her useless days left, she had chosen her life
this time without hesitation.  Mrs. Jarvis had gone, bidding her an
affectionate farewell, and leaving in her hands the title-deeds to The
Dale.  Her going closed the door of that side of Elizabeth's life.  She
was to be some use in the world at last.  And because she had found a
place that satisfied the highest instincts of her nature, the
long-stifled song came welling forth.

The faint gold of the east was turning to a soft rose, the blue of the
earth was growing brighter.  And keeping pace with the growing light,
the earth-chorus was swelling into a storm of music.  Elizabeth thought
of that dawn of her childhood days, and of her struggle to grasp its
meaning.  Now she knew.  Its message came to her in the words of a
hymn.  They were the words they had sung in Forest Glen Church the day
they laid John in the grassy graveyard:

  "_But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day,
  The saints triumphant rise in bright array,
  The King of Glory passes on His way,
          Hallelujah!_"


The King of Glory had come, and the gates of Elizabeth's soul had
lifted up their heads that He might enter.

She slipped noiselessly from the room, taking care to waken no one, and
descended to her father's study.  There she seated herself at the desk
and strove to put upon paper the great hope and longing and happiness
that were filling her heart.

Charles Stuart was whistling at the garden gate before she noticed him.
She ran down the path to meet him, brushing the dew from the border of
mignonette with her light gown.

"What a glorious day Eppie's going to have!" she cried, plucking a rosy
sweet-pea that nodded over the gate.

"I wish it was our day," Charles Stuart said enviously.  "Two years
more to wait, Lizzie."

She smiled up at him hopefully.  "But we'll make them beautiful years,"
she whispered.  "See," she held up a sheet of paper.  "I've done it
again."

He took it, but did not look at it immediately.  For Elizabeth was as
radiant as the morning, and his eyes could not turn from her so soon.
He did not need to be a Pretender any more either, for the love-light
in his eyes was answered by her own.

As they walked down the lane with the sunrise gleaming in Elizabeth's
uncovered head, he read her verses.

"Has it a soul?" she asked mischievously.

There was a mist in Charles Stuart's deep eyes as he turned towards her.

"Lizzie!  It has an immortal soul!  It's a musical morning-glory!  It
has come at last, hasn't it?"

"It was my own fault that it was so long in coming," she said.  "But I
think it was waiting for you, Stuart."

Charles Stuart's answer was not verbal, but it was more expressive than
the most eloquent words.

They plunged gayly down the bank of the creek, hand in hand like two
children.

"Oh, oh," cried Elizabeth, "just look at the forget-me-nots!  I'm going
to make a wreath of them for Eppie's hair."

Far up the creek, a cat-bird, hidden amongst scented basswood blossoms,
was singing a gay medley of purest music.  On either side the banks
were hidden in a luxury of reeds, water-lily leaves, blue
forget-me-nots, and gay bobbing lady's-slippers.  And between, the
winding stream shone pink and gold in the sunrise.

Charles Stuart stood watching his lady as she filled her hands with
blossoms.

"You love this place, don't you, 'Lizbeth of The Dale?" he said.

"Love it?  There is no spot on earth like it."

"And how can you bear to leave it all to come away with me--and to a
foreign land, too?"

She raised her face from her rosy bouquet and looked into his eyes.
And Charles Stuart smiled, knowing he had said a very absurd thing
indeed.

They sat down under an overhanging willow, and talked of the days that
were past, and the yet more interesting days to come.

"I remember I used to discuss the possibility of my being a foreign
missionary with Mother MacAllister," Elizabeth said, "in sun-bonnet
days.  But I did not think the dream would really come true."

"I remember, too, that when your contemplation of unclothed heathen and
boa-constrictors was too much for your courage, you used to remark
despairingly that you supposed you would just stay at home and marry
Charles Stuart."

Elizabeth laughed.  Her ideas concerned with marrying Charles Stuart
had undergone a radical change in the past year.

From the tower over the Martin woodshed a big bell clanged out a
startling interruption.  They sprang up, looking at each other
guiltily.  Auntie Jinit had threatened to so remind them of their duty
if they remained too long at the creek.  For such a pair for stravagin'
over the fields as Lizzie and Charles Stuart, she declared she had
never seen, and she was thankful Eppie wasn't given that way.

They scrambled gayly up the bank.  "They're ringing the wedding-bells
already," cried Elizabeth.  "There go Mary and Jean; they promised to
set the tables--and brother Bone-Bagsley too--the dear!  We must hurry."

Nevertheless they still lingered.  When they reached the top of the
slope, they stood for a moment in the rosy sunlight and, with a common
impulse, looked back.

"It's almost a year ago," whispered Elizabeth.

"Yes, almost a year," answered Charles Stuart.

Down the bank past the mill, and up the opposite shore ran the little
stony path they had so often trodden in schooldays.  It crossed The
Slash, now a trim clover-field, and disappeared into the cool depths of
Forest Glen.  But they could follow it still in imagination.  It passed
Eppie's old-new home they knew, went down the lane, skirted the
highway, and curved round into the grassy churchyard where John lay.

They turned at last and went up the lane together.  There were tears in
Elizabeth's eyes, but the words of a song were on her lips:--

  "_And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
  Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
  And hearts are brave again and arias are strong,
          Hallelujah!_"



THE END





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