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Title: The Children of the Top Floor
Author: Rhoades, Nina, 1863-
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 "The Children of the Top Floor" ***

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THE CHILDREN ON THE TOP FLOOR



    BOOKS BY NINA RHOADES

    "The Brick House Series"

    ONLY DOLLIE
      Illustrated by Bertha G. Davidson
        New cover design. Large 12mo Cloth $1.00

    THE LITTLE GIRL NEXT DOOR
      Illustrated by Bertha G. Davidson
                          Large 12mo Cloth $1.00

    WINIFRED'S NEIGHBORS
      Illustrated by Bertha G. Davidson
                          Large 12mo Cloth $1.00

    THE CHILDREN ON THE TOP FLOOR
      Illustrated by Bertha G. Davidson
                          Large 12mo Cloth $1.00

    HOW BARBARA KEPT HER PROMISE
      Illustrated by Bertha G. Davidson
                          Large 12mo Cloth $1.00

    LITTLE MISS ROSAMOND
      Illustrated by Bertha G. Davidson
                          Large 12mo Cloth $1.00

    PRISCILLA OF THE DOLL SHOP
      Illustrated by Bertha G. Davidson
                          Large 12mo Cloth $1.00

    LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO.

    BOSTON

    [Illustration: The next hour passed very pleasantly.--_Page 144._]



    THE

    CHILDREN ON THE TOP FLOOR

    BY

    NINA RHOADES

    Author of "Only Dollie," "The Little Girl Next Door," and
    "Winifred's Neighbors"

    _ILLUSTRATED BY BERTHA G. DAVIDSON_

    BOSTON

    LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO.


    Copyright, 1904, by Lee and Shepard

    _All rights reserved_

    The Children on the Top Floor

    Published August, 1904.

    Norwood Press

    Berwick & Smith Co.

    Norwood, Mass.

    U. S. A.



CONTENTS


    CHAPTER                                    PAGE

    I.    A Mishap and Its Consequences           7

    II.   Betty's Temptation                     20

    III.  Winifred's Thank Offering              34

    IV.   Gathering Clouds                       48

    V.    Winifred to the Rescue                 65

    VI.   Friends in Need                        80

    VII.  A Chance for Jack                      93

    VIII. The Doctor's Verdict                  105

    IX.   Suspense                              115

    X.    A Letter and a Surprise               124

    XI.   At Navesink                           140

    XII.  Drifting                              153

    XIII. "His Lordship"                        171

    XIV.  Jack's New Friend                     180

    XV.   Something Happens                     196

    XVI.  Uncle Jack                            211



ILLUSTRATIONS


                                               PAGE
    The next hour passed very pleasantly.
    _(Frontispiece)_.                           144

    Little Betty Randall gazing disconsolately
    down on the débris of her three cream cakes, 10

    Betty found them all laughing heartily over
    "My Grandmother's Cat"                       94

    What a delightful afternoon that was!       111

    That sail down the bay was a new and very
    delightful experience                       136

    "There aren't any oars, and we're drifting" 159

    "It is very good," said Lord Carresford     189

    "I'm the happiest boy in the world," said
    Jack                                        219



THE CHILDREN ON THE TOP FLOOR



CHAPTER I

A MISHAP AND ITS CONSEQUENCES


"Will you please let me have two cream cakes?"

The young woman behind the counter of the small bakery glanced kindly at
the maker of this request, a little girl in a rather neat-looking dress,
with a dark, earnest face and a pair of big, solemn brown eyes.

"They're nice and fresh to-day," she remarked pleasantly; "they came out
of the oven only an hour ago."

The customer smiled.

"I'm glad," she said; "my little brother is very fond of cream cakes."

"And how is your little brother to-day?" the woman questioned, at the
same time selecting three large, fat cream cakes from the heaped up
dish on the counter.

"He's pretty well, thank you. Oh, excuse me, but you're giving me three;
I only asked for two."

"Never mind about that, it's all right. Too bad your little brother
can't get out these fine spring days, isn't it?"

A troubled, wistful look came into the child's face.

"He would like to get out," she said sadly; "I wish he could."

"Yes, indeed, I don't wonder; it's just grand in the park these warm
afternoons. My two little boys about live there. If you could take him
out for a drive sometimes, it would do him a lot of good, I'm sure."

Before the child could answer, the door of the bakery opened, and two
more customers, a lady and a little girl of nine or ten, came in.

"Well, Winnie," said the lady smiling, as they approached the counter,
"have you decided which it is to be to-day, macaroons or chocolate
éclairs?"

"I think it had better be éclairs to-day, we had macaroons three times
last week," the little girl said, laughing, and glancing with an
expression of interest at the first customer, who had now received her
package, and was turning to leave the store. "Oh, mother," she added
eagerly, as the door closed, "did you see? that's the little girl who
lives in our house."

"Was it really?" the lady inquired, looking interested in her turn; "I
didn't notice her."

"Oh, yes, I'm quite sure; I've seen her several times on the stairs, you
know. I wish she hadn't gone so quick; I should have liked to speak to
her. It seems so queer not to know a person who lives in the same house
that you do, doesn't it?"

"And a very nice little girl she is too," put in the young woman behind
the counter, glad of an opportunity to say a good word for one of her
favorite customers. "She often comes in here, and we serve the family
with bread. They live in the apartment house on the corner."

"That's where we live," said Winifred; "do you know what the little
girl's name is?"

"Yes; it's Randall, Betty Randall; she told me so herself the other day.
Her mother's a very handsome lady, quite stylish-looking, though I
believe she gives lessons of some kind. She's a widow, with two
children, this one and a little boy, who is a cripple. It's my opinion
they've seen better days. Shall I send these things, ma'am, or will you
take them with you?"

"I will take them, thank you. Come, Winifred."

"Mother," said Winifred, as they left the bakery, "I really do wish I
knew that little girl. She has a very nice face, and if her brother is a
cripple, I might go and read to him sometimes. You know I'm very fond of
cripples."

The lady laughed.

"Well, you may speak to the child, if you like," she said kindly. "I
scarcely know whether it would do for you to call on the family. You
see, dear, a great many people live in that big apartment house, and
they may not all be desirable friends for you. But look, isn't that the
very child you are talking about? Yes, to be sure it is, and she seems
to be in trouble. She must have had a fall."

A moment later little Betty Randall, standing in the middle of the
sidewalk, gazing disconsolately down on the débris of her three cream
cakes, which lay crushed and shapeless at her feet, was startled to hear
a sweet, sympathetic voice saying close to her side:

"I'm sorry; how did it happen?"

"I slipped on a piece of orange peel," explained little Betty, at
once recognizing the lady and little girl she had seen at the baker's,
"and fell right on my bag of cream cakes. They're all spoiled."

[Illustration: Little Betty Randall gazing disconsolately down on the
débris of her three cream cakes.--_Page 10._]

"It's too bad, but hadn't you better go back for some more?" the lady
suggested pleasantly.

Betty hesitated, and her color rose.

"I think not to-day," she said a little primly; "mother might not like
it. I don't mind about myself," she added quickly, "but I'm sorry for
Jack; he's very fond of cream cakes."

"Is Jack your little brother?" Winifred asked.

"Yes; how did you know I had a little brother?"

"The woman at the baker's said so, and she said he was a cripple."

Betty's face softened wonderfully. By this time they had abandoned the
cream cakes to their fate, and were all three walking on together
towards the big apartment house on the next corner.

"Yes, he is a cripple," she said; "he can't walk at all. He had a fall
when he was a baby, and it hurt his spine."

"How very sad," said Winifred sympathetically; "how did it happen?"

"His nurse dropped him one day when mother and father were out. She
didn't tell at first, and nobody knew what was the matter with Jack,
and what made him cry whenever any one touched him. At last the doctor
found out that his spine was injured, and then she confessed."

"How old is he now?" Winifred inquired.

"He will be nine the day after to-morrow, but he seems older than that.
He's a very clever little boy; he reads a great deal, and he can draw
beautiful pictures. Mother thinks it's because he is so much by himself
that he gets to be so old-fashioned. I'm eleven, but I'm not nearly so
clever as Jack."

"I suppose you are very fond of him," said Winifred. "A person would
naturally be very fond of a brother who is a cripple."

"I love him better than anything else in the world," said Betty simply.

At that moment the apartment house was reached.

"Isn't it strange that we live in the same house and never spoke to each
other before?" remarked Winifred, as they mounted the first flight of
stairs together. "We haven't lived here very long, though; only since
January."

"We have lived here for two years," said Betty, "and we don't know any
of the people in the house."

Winifred's eyes opened wide in surprise, but they were already on the
first landing, and her mother had rung the bell of their own apartment.

"Good-bye," she said, "this is where we live. I hope I shall see you
again soon."

Betty stood for a moment gazing at the closed door, behind which her new
acquaintances had disappeared, and then she toiled on, up three more
long steep flights of stairs, until, on the very top landing of all, she
paused, and taking a key from her pocket, proceeded to open a door on
her right.

"Is that you, Betty?" called an eager little voice, as the door swung
open, and Betty passed into the small, narrow hall of the "top floor
rear apartment."

"Yes, dear; but, oh, Jack, I'm so sorry; I slipped on a horrid piece of
orange peel and spilled all the cream cakes. It'll have to be cold meat
and bread and butter to-day."

"You didn't hurt yourself, did you?" the anxious little voice inquired.

"Oh, no, not a bit, and quite an interesting thing happened. Just wait
till I take off my hat, and get your lunch ready, and I'll tell you all
about it."

Five minutes later, Betty, her little dark face somewhat flushed from
recent exertions, but looking, on the whole, very bright and happy,
entered the small front room, bearing a tray containing milk, cold
meat, and a pile of thin bread-and-butter sandwiches.

"I'll put it on the little table, and we can have lunch together," she
said cheerfully. "See what a lot of sandwiches mother's made for us."

As she spoke, Betty drew a small table close to the sofa on which lay
the little cripple. Jack watched her every movement with loving eyes.
Such a pale, wan face as it was; such a poor, shrunken little body! But
it was not a dull face, and the large, beautiful blue eyes had a bright,
glad light in them, despite the fact that their owner spent all his poor
life confined to a sofa.

"Now tell me about the interesting thing," Jack said, when Betty, having
completed her arrangements, had seated herself by his side, prepared to
enjoy the cold meat and bread and butter.

"Yes, I will. It isn't very much, though, only when I was at the baker's
who should happen to come in but the lady and the little girl who live
down on the second floor. You know, I told you about that little girl,
how pretty she was, and how she and her mother were always together.
I've seen her mother taking her to school ever so many mornings, and I
think she was on her way home from school now, for she carried books.
Well, I got my cream cakes--they were lovely ones too, and the woman
gave me three, though I only asked for two--and I was hurrying home as
fast as I could, when all of a sudden I slipped on that old orange peel,
and fell flat. My bag burst open, and of course the cream cakes were all
squashed. I got up, and was standing looking at my poor cream cakes, and
feeling so dreadfully sorry, when the lady and the little girl stopped
to speak to me. They were ever so kind. The lady said I had better go
back to the store for more, but I didn't have money enough for that, you
know."

"You didn't say so, did you?" Jack questioned anxiously.

"Of course I didn't. I just said I thought I wouldn't go back to-day,
and then we all walked home together, and the little girl asked me about
you."

"What did you tell her?"

"Oh, I said you were a very clever boy, and--why, there's the door bell;
I wonder who it can be?"

"Perhaps it's mother come home early," Jack suggested, his pale little
face brightening; "perhaps one of her pupils didn't take a lesson,
or----"

But Betty did not hear. She was already halfway across the little hall,
and in another moment was standing with the open door in her hand,
gazing in surprise at the neat, pleasant-faced servant girl who
confronted her. The girl held in her hand a plate covered with a napkin.

"Is this Miss Betty Randall?" the stranger inquired, smiling.

"Yes," said Betty, in growing bewilderment. She was sure she had never
seen the girl before.

"Well, here are some éclairs for you. Miss Winifred Hamilton sends them
to you and your little brother, and hopes you'll both enjoy them."

And before Betty could recover sufficiently from her surprise to utter a
word of either thanks or protest, the plate was in her hands, and the
servant girl was hurrying away downstairs.

It was with a very bright face, however, that the little girl came
running back into the sitting room, in answer to Jack's eager "What is
it, Betty?"

"It's éclairs, four beautiful chocolate éclairs," she explained
joyfully, "and the nice little girl downstairs has sent them to us.

"She just bought them too, for I heard her mother asking her at the
baker's whether it was to be éclairs or macaroons, and she said éclairs.
Wasn't it kind of her to send them? You do like chocolate éclairs very
much, don't you, Jack, dear?"

"I love them," said Jack heartily, "but, Betty, do you suppose mother
would like it?"

Betty's bright face clouded, but only for a moment.

"I don't believe she'd mind," she said with decision. "You see, things
to eat aren't like money, and I think it would be rude not to take them
when the little girl was so kind."

Jack acquiesced in this view of the matter, and the two children were
soon in the full enjoyment of their unexpected treat.

"Her name is Hamilton, Winifred Hamilton," remarked Betty, poising a
delicious morsel on her fork as she spoke, "and she knows my name too.
The maid asked if I wasn't Miss Betty Randall. She is such a pretty
little girl, Jack; her hair is all fluffy and crimpy round her face, and
she's got beautiful eyes."

"I wish I could see her," said Jack wistfully; "do you suppose she would
come up here if you asked her?"

"I shouldn't wonder," said Betty hopefully; "she said she was very much
interested in cripples."

Jack made an impatient movement, and a look of pain crossed his face.

"I wish I wasn't a cripple," he said, his lip beginning to tremble; "I
wish I could get up and walk like other people. I want to see things."

Betty laid down her fork, and a look of sympathy and almost womanly
tenderness came into her eyes.

"What kind of things do you want to see, Jack?" she asked gently.

"Oh, I don't know; all kinds of things. I get so tired looking out of
the window at roofs and chimneys. I should like to see a park with deer
in it, and swans and a peacock, like the one mother tells about."

"But you couldn't see that park, you know, dear, because that was in
England, away across the Atlantic Ocean."

"Well, but there is a park here, too, isn't there? I heard Mrs. Flynn
talking about it the other day. She said it was beautiful in the park
now, with all the flowers coming out."

"Oh, yes, there's Central Park, and it is very pretty, but not so pretty
as the one mother tells about."

Jack's face brightened again.

"Couldn't I go there some time?" he asked eagerly; "is it too far for
any one to carry me?"

Betty shook her head sadly.

"I'm afraid it's too far for that," she admitted, "but if we only had a
carriage you could go. The janitor would carry you downstairs, I know,
and it wouldn't be a long drive. I don't believe it would hurt your back
one bit. I'll tell you what, Jack. Day after to-morrow will be your
birthday; let's ask mother to hire a carriage, and take us both."

Betty's eyes were sparkling with the sudden inspiration, but now it was
Jack's turn to shake his head and look dubious.

"I'm afraid it would cost too much," he said mournfully; "I should love
it, but I'm really afraid it would."

"I don't believe it would be so very expensive," said hopeful Betty.
"There's a livery stable right across the street, and I'll go over this
afternoon and find out how much it costs. I've got a dollar and five
cents in my bank; I counted it last night, and mother says it's all
mine, to do just what I please with. Oh, Jack, dear, I'm sure it can't
cost more than a dollar, and I should just love to get it for your
birthday present. I wonder why we were all so stupid as never to have
thought of doing it before."



CHAPTER II

BETTY'S TEMPTATION


It was about an hour later when Betty, having washed and put away the
luncheon dishes, and settled Jack with his story book and drawing
materials, ran lightly down the three long flights of stairs to the
Hamiltons' apartment. In one hand she carried Mrs. Hamilton's plate and
napkin, and in the other a small tin money box, which jingled at every
step. At the Hamiltons' front door she paused, and rather timidly rang
the bell. The door was opened by the same girl who had brought the
éclairs.

"I came to bring back the plate," Betty explained, "and will you please
tell Miss Winifred Hamilton that my little brother and I enjoyed the
cakes very much."

"Wouldn't you like to come in and speak to her yourself?" the girl asked
pleasantly; "she's right here."

She moved aside as she spoke, and there, sure enough, was Winifred
standing smiling in the parlor door.

"Yes, do come in," said the little girl hospitably. "Mother's out, but I
stayed at home to make a dress for one of my children. They're really my
_dolls_, you know," she added, smiling at Betty's look of bewilderment,
"but I always call them my children. I'm so very fond of them, you see,
and they do seem something like real children. Come in and I'll show
them to you."

There was no declining this tempting invitation, and Betty was soon
making the acquaintance of Winifred's family, and being introduced
respectively to Lord Fauntleroy, Rose-Florence, Violet-May, Lily-Bell,
and Miss Mollie.

"You see, when my father and mother were away in California I used to be
alone a good deal," Winifred explained, "and so if it hadn't been for
the children I should have been rather lonely. I lived with Uncle Will
and Aunt Estelle then, and Aunt Estelle is a very busy lady and has to
go out a good deal. My mother hardly ever goes out without me, and I
don't have nearly so much time to devote to the children as I used, but
I shouldn't like to have them feel neglected, so sometimes I stay at
home on purpose to look after them a little."

"How old are you?" Betty inquired. To her this conversation seemed
extremely childish. She had never had much time in her busy little life
to care for dolls, Jack having claimed all her thought and attention.

"I shall be ten next July, so as it's April now, father says I'm nine
and three-quarters. Father's very fond of joking, and so is Uncle Will."

"You go to school, don't you?" Betty asked.

"Yes, I go to Miss Lothrop's. I was coming from school when I met you
to-day. Mother almost always takes me and comes for me herself, because
we have only Lizzie, and she has a great deal to do."

"We don't keep any girl at all now," said Betty, "and so I can't go to
school, because there would be nobody to take care of Jack. We did keep
a girl last year, but some of mother's pupils gave up, and she couldn't
get any new ones, so we had to let her go. Mother gives us our lessons
every afternoon when she comes home, and we study in the mornings by
ourselves."

"Is your mother a teacher?" Winifred inquired with interest.

"Yes, she gives music lessons, and she plays beautifully too. We have a
piano, because Jack loves music so, and mother plays to him almost
every evening."

"I guess cripples always like music," said Winifred reflectively. "Mr.
Bradford had a lovely music box; it played twelve tunes."

"Who is Mr. Bradford?"

"He was a crippled gentleman I used to know. He was very kind, and I
loved him very much. I used to read to him, and he liked it. He died
last winter."

"Some cripples are quite strong in other ways, you know," Betty hastened
to explain. Winifred's remark about dying had made her vaguely
uncomfortable. "Jack isn't nearly so delicate as he used to be. I think
if he could only get out in the fresh air sometimes he would be ever so
much better."

"Doesn't he ever go out?"

"No. You see, he can't walk at all, and he's too heavy to carry far.
It's awfully hard for him never to see anything but chimneys. Our
apartment is in the rear, so he can't even see the trolley cars."

"Why don't you take him for a drive sometimes?" Winifred asked
sympathetically.

Betty's eyes sparkled.

"That's just what I'm going to do," she said triumphantly. "I never
thought of it till to-day, but first the woman at the baker's spoke of
it, and then Jack said he wished he could see Central Park. The day
after to-morrow will be his birthday, and I'm going to hire a carriage
and take him for a nice drive. I'm going to pay for it out of my own
money too; it's to be my birthday present."

"That will be nice," said Winifred in a tone of satisfaction. "Does he
know about it?"

"Yes, and he's so pleased. I'm going right over to the livery stable now
to ask how much it will cost. It couldn't be more than a dollar, do you
think it could?"

Winifred, whose ideas on the subject were quite as vague as Betty's own,
and to whom a dollar appeared a rather large sum, replied that she was
sure it couldn't, and after a little more conversation Betty departed on
her errand.

With a beating heart the little girl crossed the street and entered the
office of the livery stable on the opposite corner. A man was writing at
a desk, but he looked up at her entrance, and laid down his pen.

"Well, miss, what can I do for you?" he inquired politely, as Betty
paused, uncertain in just what words to put her request. "Do you want a
cab?"

"No, thank you," said Betty, "at least not to-day, but I think I shall
want one the day after to-morrow. Would you please tell me how much it
would cost to hire a carriage to take us to Central Park?"

The man glanced at a big book which lay open on the desk before him.

"Central Park," he repeated, beginning to turn over the pages, "that
would mean an afternoon drive, of course. Our regular charge for an
afternoon drive is five dollars."

"Five dollars!" Betty gave a little gasp. "I didn't know it would be so
expensive," she said, and without another word she turned and walked
quickly out of the office.

But once outside she did not hurry. Very slowly she recrossed the
street, entered at the familiar door, and began climbing the long
flights of stairs. At the top of the first flight she was stopped by her
new friend Winifred.

"I was watching for you," Winifred explained; "I wanted to know if it
was all right about the carriage. Oh, what's the matter? Didn't you get
it, after all?"

Betty shook her head; she could not speak just then, but all the bright
look of pride and happiness had gone out of her face.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," said Winifred sympathetically. "Were the carriages
all engaged for the day after to-morrow? Perhaps you could get one at
some other stable."

"It isn't that," said Betty, trying hard to steady the quiver in her
voice, "but--but they were very expensive--much more expensive than I
thought. We couldn't possibly have one."

"How much are they?" Winifred inquired with interest.

"Five dollars, the man said."

"Oh!" and Winifred's eyes opened wide in astonishment; "that is a great
deal of money. Uncle Will gave me a five-dollar gold-piece for Easter,
and we thought it was very good of him. But if your little brother wants
to go so very much, and if it's his birthday, don't you think your
mother might possibly let you have the money?"

But Betty shook her head decidedly. "She couldn't possibly," she said,
"I know she couldn't." And then all at once her forced composure gave
way, and she burst into tears.

"Oh, he'll be so disappointed, so dreadfully disappointed," she sobbed.
"Oh, I wish I had never said anything about it to him, but I was so
sure a dollar would be enough, and I promised him--I promised him."

It was some few minutes later when Betty, still with red eyes, but
otherwise looking much as usual, reached the top landing and paused for
a moment outside their own door. Jack was so happy; how could she tell
him that their cherished plan must be given up? She gave a long sigh,
and drawing the door-key from her pocket, was in the act of fitting it
in the lock when she heard the sound of footsteps and rustling skirts
just behind her, and, turning in surprise, caught sight of a rather
stout, florid lady coming up the stairs.

"This is the top floor, isn't it?" the stranger inquired rather
breathlessly, as she reached the landing. She was not accustomed to
climbing stairs, and did not enjoy it.

"Yes," said Betty politely.

"Well, I'm thankful to hear it, I'm sure. I never had such a climb in my
life. It's an outrage not to have elevators in these high buildings. Can
you tell me which is Mrs. Randall's apartment?"

"It's this one," said Betty, looking very much surprised, for she was
sure she had never seen the lady before, "but Mrs. Randall is out. I'm
her little girl; I could take any message."

The lady drew a step back, and stood regarding Betty with keen, though
kindly scrutiny.

"So you are Mrs. Randall's little girl," she said; "I remember she told
me she had children. Well, I suppose I shall have to leave my message
with you, though I am sorry not to see her myself, if only to say
good-bye."

"Won't you come in?" said Betty. "Mother will be at home pretty soon, I
think; she generally gets back by four."

"Oh, no, I couldn't possibly spare the time; my carriage is waiting, and
I have no end of things to attend to this afternoon. Will you tell your
mother that Mrs. Martin called? Mrs. Henry Martin. Perhaps you may have
heard her speak of me."

"Oh, yes," said Betty eagerly; "mother gives music lessons to your two
little boys."

"Yes, to be sure she does, and that is the very thing I wanted to see
her about. My husband has suddenly decided to go to Europe on business,
and we are all going with him. It was arranged only last evening, and we
sail next Saturday. I hate to take the children off like this right in
the middle of the quarter, and that is why I wanted to come and see your
mother about it rather than write her a note. It really can't be helped,
and I know she will understand. Ask her, please, to let me have her
bill, and she needn't trouble to come again; the children will be too
busy to take any more lessons before we sail."

"I'll tell mother," said Betty; "she'll be sorry not to have seen you
herself."

Mrs. Martin was turning away, but she glanced once more at Betty's pale
little face, and then, as if with a sudden thought, she paused and drew
out her purse.

"My little boys are very fond of your mother," she said kindly. "They
mind her better than they ever minded any other teacher they had, and
their father and I are both much pleased with her methods. I hope that
another winter--but one never knows what may happen. Here's a little
present for you, dear; buy something nice for yourself with it."

As she spoke, Mrs. Martin held out her hand, and in it there was a bill.
Betty saw it distinctly; a crisp, new five-dollar bill.

For one breathless, delicious moment, the little girl wavered, while her
heart beat so fast that she could scarcely breathe, and all the blood in
her body seemed to come surging up into her face and neck. Impulsively,
she held out her hand. Another second and her fingers would have closed
upon the tempting gift. Suddenly her hand dropped to her side, and all
the color died out of her face again, leaving it even paler than before.

"You are very kind," she said in a low, unsteady voice; "thank you very
much, but--but mother doesn't like to have us take money."

Mrs. Martin looked surprised, even a little annoyed. For a moment she
seemed inclined to dispute the point, but seeing the child's evident
embarrassment and distress, changed her mind.

"Very well, dear," she said good-naturedly. "I am sorry you won't take
my present, but you are right not to do anything of which your mother
would disapprove. When we come back next autumn you must get your mother
to bring you to see us some time. Now good-bye. You won't forget my
message, will you?"

Jack was watching anxiously for his sister's return. At the familiar
sound of the latch-key he raised himself on his elbow, straining his
eyes for the first glimpse of Betty's face.

"Well, is it all right?" he cried eagerly; "are we going to have the
carriage? Oh, Betty, it isn't; I see it in your eyes."

Betty said nothing, but going over to the sofa, sat down beside her
little brother, slipping her arm lovingly about him. Jack winked hard
and bit his lip, but he, too, was silent after that first exclamation.
Perhaps even Betty herself did not realize how keen this disappointment
was to the little cripple. In a few moments Betty spoke.

"It was five dollars," she said.

"Five dollars!" repeated Jack incredulously. "Oh, Betty, what a lot of
money! Mother could never spare all that at once."

"I could have had it, though," said Betty, speaking fast and nervously.
"I could have had every bit of it. A lady was coming to see mother; I
met her on the stairs. Mother gives her little boys music lessons, and
she came to say they are all going to Europe next week. She was very
kind; she said she wanted to give me a present, and she offered me a
five-dollar bill."

Jack gasped, and two red spots glowed in his cheeks.

"You didn't take it, did you?"

"I wanted to," said Betty slowly; "I wanted to very much. I was just
going to take it in my hand, and then I remembered how mother would
feel, and I didn't."

Jack heaved a deep sigh.

"I'm glad you didn't," he said rather tremulously.

Again there was silence. Both children were trying hard to keep back
the coming tears. Again Betty was the first to speak.

"I suppose some mothers wouldn't mind their children taking presents,"
she said. "I wonder why mother is so very particular?"

"Why, don't you know?" Jack's blue eyes opened wide in surprise. "It's
because we're English, and mother once lived in that beautiful place
with the park and the deer. She can't forget about it, even if she is
poor now. She has to remember she's a lady, and ladies never do take
money from strangers."

Betty sighed impatiently.

"I suppose it's wrong," she said, "but sometimes I can't help wishing
mother hadn't been quite such a grand person when she lived in England.
What's the use of it now when we have to live in a flat, and mother has
to give music lessons and do all the housework herself? If she hadn't
had all those beautiful things once, she wouldn't mind so much about
being poor now."

"Well, but it's nice to have the other things to think about," said
Jack. "Aren't you glad you've got ancestors?"

"I don't think I care very much," said practical Betty; "I'd rather have
relations that are alive now. Winifred Hamilton said her uncle gave her
a five-dollar gold-piece for Easter. I wish we had an uncle, don't you?"

"We have got Uncle Jack," said Jack thoughtfully, "but we don't know
where he is, and mother doesn't like to have us ask her about him.
There's the door bell, and it's mother's ring. Wait one minute, Betty,
please. Don't say anything to her about the carriage; she'd be so sorry
to think we were disappointed, you know."

"No, I won't," said Betty emphatically.



CHAPTER III

WINIFRED'S THANK OFFERING


"Mother, dear, I want to talk to you about something very important."

"Well, my pet, what is it?" And Mrs. Hamilton laid aside her book, and
took her little daughter into her lap.

It was the hour before dinner; the time of day that Winifred always
liked best, because then her mother was never busy, and was quite ready
to tell her stories, play games, or discuss any subject under the sun.

"It's about a story I've been reading," said Winifred, nestling her head
comfortably on her mother's shoulder. "It's a lovely story, all about a
little boy who was stolen and had to act in a circus and live in a
caravan. He had a very hard time, but in the end his father and mother
found him, and they were so happy that his father built a hospital for
poor children just to show how grateful he was. He called it a Thank
Offering."

Winifred paused to give a long, contented glance about the pretty,
comfortable room. Her mother softly stroked the fluffy little head
resting against her shoulder. She knew there was more to come.

"Well," Winifred went on after a moment, "I've been thinking a great
deal about that story. You see, I think I feel very much the way those
people did. Since you and father came home from California, and we came
here to live, I've been so very, very happy. I say a little prayer to
God about it sometimes, but I think I should like to do something for a
Thank Offering too."

"What would you like to do?" Mrs. Hamilton asked, stooping to kiss the
sweet, earnest little face.

"Well, I've been thinking about that, and it seems as if the best thing
would be to make some one else very happy. You know the five-dollar
gold-piece that Uncle Will gave me for Easter?"

"Yes, dear."

"Well, do you think he would mind very much if I spent it all on giving
somebody else a good time?"

"He would not mind in the least, I am sure, but I thought you had
decided to buy a bracelet just like Lulu Bell's."

"Yes, I had; but, you see, that was before I began to think about the
Thank Offering."

"Well, and when did you first begin to think of the Thank Offering?"
Mrs. Hamilton asked, smiling.

"It was yesterday afternoon, when Betty Randall was so disappointed
because the man at the livery stable told her it would cost five dollars
for a carriage to take her little brother for a drive. I've been
thinking about it ever since, and to-day at recess I told Lulu, and she
thinks just the same as I do."

"You mean that you would like to spend your five dollars in hiring a
carriage to take that little cripple boy and his sister for a drive?"

"Yes, mother; do you think I might? I don't know the little boy yet, but
I like Betty very much, and she was so disappointed."

Mrs. Hamilton was looking both pleased and interested.

"I do think you might," she said heartily, "and, Winnie, dear, I like
your idea of a Thank Offering very much indeed. I have been thinking a
good deal about that poor child myself ever since what you told me
yesterday. Didn't you say to-morrow would be the little boy's birthday?"

"Yes, to-morrow; and to-morrow will be Saturday too. Oh, mother, dear,
do you really think we could?"

"I will go up and call on Mrs. Randall this evening," said Mrs. Hamilton
with decision. "I have never met her, but I like her little girl's
appearance very much. I don't believe she will have any objection to
letting the children go with us. There's father's key. Run and open the
door for him and give him a nice kiss."

It was about half-past eight that evening when Mrs. Hamilton left her
own apartment and climbed the three flights of stairs to the top floor.
On the last landing she paused to get her breath before ringing the
Randalls' bell, and at that moment her ear caught the sound of music.
Some one was playing on the piano, and playing in a way that at once
attracted Mrs. Hamilton's attention. This was not the kind of music she
was accustomed to hearing through open windows or thin walls. Mrs.
Hamilton had studied music herself under some of the best teachers the
city could produce, and she knew at once that this was no ordinary
musician. She had heard that Mrs. Randall gave music lessons, but she
had never expected anything like this.

She stood quite still, listening until the piece came to an end, and
then as the last notes of the beautiful nocturne died away, she raised
her head and lightly touched the electric bell. The door was opened by
the same little girl she had seen the day before.

"Good-evening," said the visitor, smiling pleasantly, "is your mother at
home?"

"Yes," said Betty, looking very much surprised, but standing aside to
let the lady pass; "she's in the parlor playing to Jack."

Mrs. Hamilton crossed the narrow hall, and entered the small but very
neat-looking parlor. She noticed at a glance the plants in the window;
the canary in his gilt cage, and the little crippled boy lying on the
sofa. Jack's face was flushed with pleasure, and his blue eyes, full of
sweet content, rested lovingly on the figure of the lady at the piano.
At the sight of the unexpected visitor the lady rose.

"Mother," said Betty eagerly, "it's Mrs. Hamilton--Winifred Hamilton's
mother."

A slight flush rose in Mrs. Randall's cheeks, but her greeting, though
perhaps a little formal, was perfectly courteous. Mrs. Hamilton saw at a
glance that the woman at the baker's had not exaggerated when she had
described Betty's mother as "a very handsome lady." She was very tall
and stately, and she spoke in a low, refined voice. Her eyes were large
and dark, and there was a look in them that seemed to tell of
suffering--a look that went straight to Mrs. Hamilton's kind heart.

It was impossible for any one to remain long ill at ease in the society
of sweet, genial Mrs. Hamilton, and in five minutes the two ladies were
chatting pleasantly together, and Mrs. Randall had almost ceased to
wonder why her neighbor should have intruded upon her at this
unseasonable hour. Mrs. Hamilton made friends with Jack in a way that
won his heart at once, and Betty sat watching her with frank admiration.
At last the visitor said:

"And now I must really explain my reason for troubling you at this time
of the evening, Mrs. Randall. My little Winifred has taken a great fancy
to your Betty, and is most anxious to make the acquaintance of Jack as
well. She and I are going for a drive in the park to-morrow afternoon,
and I have come to ask you if you will allow Betty and Jack to go with
us."

The color deepened in Mrs. Randall's face, and she began to be a little
formal again.

"You are very kind," she began politely, "but I am afraid----"

A low exclamation from both children checked the words on her lips, and
she glanced anxiously from one eager little face to the other. Betty was
actually pale with suppressed excitement, and Jack's blue eyes said
unutterable things.

"You needn't be afraid to trust Jack to us," Mrs. Hamilton went on, just
as if she had not heard her hostess's courteous words; "the janitor can
carry him up and down stairs, and I promise to take the very best care
of him."

"You are very kind," Mrs. Randall said again, and this time there was
more warmth in her tone. "The children would enjoy it immensely, I know.
You would like to go, wouldn't you, Jack, darling?"

"Like it! Oh, mother, I should love it better than anything in the
world."

Of course there was no more hesitation after that, and when Mrs.
Hamilton went downstairs ten minutes later, it was to tell Winifred the
good news that Mrs. Randall had given her consent, and that the carriage
was to be ordered for three o'clock the following afternoon.

"I rather like Mrs. Randall," Mrs. Hamilton said to her husband when
Winifred had slipped away to her room, to tell her children all about
her Thank Offering; "she is a lady, one can see that at once, and, oh,
Phil, she was playing the piano when I went upstairs. I haven't heard
such music in years. I think she has seen better days, and is inclined
to resent anything that seems like patronage. There is a look in her
eyes that somehow made my heart ache."

Mrs. Randall was very silent for some time after her visitor had left.
She closed the piano, and went away to sit by herself in her dark little
bedroom, leaving the children to chatter over the delightful prospect
for the morrow, and when she came back to put Jack to bed, her eyes
looked as if she had been crying.

"Mother," whispered the little boy, laying his cheek softly against his
mother's as she bent to give him a last good-night kiss, "you aren't
sorry you said yes, are you?"

"No, darling," she answered tenderly; "I can never be sorry about
anything that gives my little boy pleasure, but, oh, Jack dear, I wish I
had the money to take you myself."

Betty's first action on waking the next morning was to rush to the
window to ascertain the state of the weather.

"It's perfectly lovely, Jack," she announced joyfully, running from the
room she shared with her mother into the tiny one Jack occupied. "The
sun is shining as bright as can be, there isn't a cloud in the sky.
Here's your birthday present; it's only a box of drawing pencils, but I
couldn't go far enough to buy anything else yesterday, and I thought
you'd like it."

Jack, who was already sitting up in bed, hugging a new story book,
assured his sister that drawing pencils were the very things he most
wanted.

"And see what mother gave me," he added, holding up the new book for
Betty's inspection, "'The Boys of Seventy-six.' Oh, Betty, I do think
birthdays are lovely things, don't you?"

That was a busy morning for the Randalls. Being Saturday, there were no
lessons for Mrs. Randall to give, but there was all the weekly
house-cleaning to be done, and Betty and her mother worked steadily
until luncheon time. If Mrs. Randall had ancestors, she had also plenty
of good common sense. She was not too proud to work for her little ones,
however unwilling she might be to accept favors for them from others,
and she plied broom and mop to such good purpose that by twelve o'clock
the little home was the very picture of neatness and order. Jack lay on
the sofa as usual, too happy in eager anticipations for the afternoon to
forget them even in the interest of his new story book.

Mrs. Randall went out for a little while after luncheon, returning with
a pretty blue sailor cap for Jack. The thought had suddenly occurred to
Betty that her brother possessed no outdoor garments, and for a moment
she was filled with dismay, but her mother assured her that, with the
aid of her own long cape and the new sailor cap, the little boy would do
very well indeed.

"I wish I had time to finish your new dress though, dear," she said,
glancing regretfully at the darn in Betty's skirt. "I tried to do it
last night, but my eyes hurt me, and I was afraid to work any longer."

"I don't mind one bit," declared Betty, remembering to have wakened in
the night just as the clock was striking twelve, and found her mother's
place in bed still empty. "I think this dress is nice enough, and I'm
sure Mrs. Hamilton and Winifred are too kind to care about what people
wear."

"I care though," said Mrs. Randall with a sigh; "I should like to have
people think that my little girl was a lady."

"Well, if I behave nicely and am ladylike, won't they think so any way?"
inquired Betty innocently. At which her mother smiled in spite of
herself, and gave her a kiss.

At three o'clock precisely there was a ring at the door bell, and Mrs.
Hamilton appeared. She was closely followed by Mr. Jones, the
good-natured janitor, who lifted Jack in his strong arms and carried him
downstairs as easily as if he had been a baby. Mrs. Randall accompanied
the party to the sidewalk, and stood by, watching anxiously while the
little cripple was placed carefully and tenderly on the seat of the
comfortable carriage Mrs. Hamilton had procured. She looked so sad and
wistful that kind Mrs. Hamilton longed to ask her to take her place in
the carriage, but dared not, lest in doing so she might arouse her
neighbor's sensitive pride.

At last all was ready, Mrs. Hamilton and the two little girls were in
their places, and the carriage moved slowly away from the door.

"Good-bye, mother, dear," cried Jack, waving his thin little hand as he
leaned comfortably back among his pillows; "I'm having such a lovely,
lovely time."

There were tears in Mrs. Randall's dark eyes as she turned away, and
when she had gone back to her own rooms, instead of at once settling
down to her afternoon's sewing, she threw herself wearily upon Jack's
sofa and buried her face in the pillows with a sob.

What a drive that was! I don't think any one of those four people will
ever forget it.

"It was one of the loveliest experiences I ever had in my life, Phil,"
Mrs. Hamilton told her husband that evening with tears in her eyes. "To
see that dear little fellow's wonder and delight over the very simplest
things was enough to make one ashamed of ever having been dissatisfied
with one's lot or discontented about anything. I never before in my life
saw any one so perfectly happy."

It was pretty to see the devotion of the two little girls to the poor
crippled boy.

"Are you quite sure you're comfortable, Jack?" Winifred kept asking over
and over again, while Betty looked anxiously into her brother's radiant
face to make sure he was not getting tired.

It was a glorious spring afternoon, and the park had never looked more
lovely. How Jack enjoyed it no words could describe.

"I don't believe mother's park was any more beautiful than this one," he
said to Betty, as, in answer to a direction from Mrs. Hamilton the
coachman turned the horses to go round a second time. "I haven't seen
any deer, but there are sheep and swans."

"Where's your mother's park?" Winifred inquired, with pardonable
curiosity.

Betty blushed and gave her brother a warning glance. Jack looked as if
he had said something he was sorry for.

"It's a story mother tells us," he explained, "about a park she used to
see when she lived in England. It was a beautiful park, and we love to
hear about it."

"My friend Lulu Bell's father and mother used to live in England," said
Winifred, "and she went there with them once for a visit. Did you ever
live there?"

"No," answered Betty, Jack's attention having been called off for the
moment by the sight of some new wonder, "father and mother came to this
country before we were born."

"Has your father been long dead, dear?" Mrs. Hamilton asked kindly.

"He died six years ago, when I was only five. I don't remember him very
well, and Jack doesn't remember him at all. Oh, Jack, look at that
carriage without any horses. That's an automobile."

It was nearly five o'clock before the carriage again drew up before the
door of the big apartment house, and Mr. Jones came out and once more
lifted Jack in his arms to carry him upstairs.

There was a tinge of bright color on the little boy's usually pale
cheeks and his eyes were shining.

"I've had the most beautiful time I ever had in my life," he said,
turning to Mrs. Hamilton with a radiant smile. "You've been so very
kind, and so has Winifred, and--and, please, I'd like to kiss you
both."



CHAPTER IV

GATHERING CLOUDS


"Oh, dear! I do wish it would stop raining," sighed Betty, glancing out
of the window one wet afternoon a few days later. "It's rained just as
hard as it can for two whole days, and it doesn't look a bit more like
clearing now than it did yesterday morning."

"I hope mother won't take any more cold," said Jack, rather anxiously,
pausing in his task of endeavoring to draw a sketch from memory of an
automobile. "She coughed dreadfully last night; it woke me up. I wish
she didn't have to go out on rainy days."

"So do I," said Betty decidedly. "Don't you hate being poor, Jack?"

"If you were only grown up," Jack went on, ignoring his sister's
question, "you could go out and give the lessons on wet days or when
mother didn't feel well, and she could stay at home and rest."

"No, I couldn't," said Betty, dolefully. "You know I'm not a bit
musical; I couldn't play like mother if I tried all my life. I don't see
how I'm ever going to be any kind of a teacher if I can't go to school
and get a diploma. People can't teach without diplomas; Mrs. Flynn says
so. Her daughter's trying for one this year."

"Well, you would be able to do something any way," Jack maintained, "and
mother wouldn't have to work so dreadfully hard. I wish you were grown
up, Betty, only then I should have to be grown up too, and I shouldn't
like that."

"Why not?" inquired Betty in some surprise.

Jack flushed, and turned his face towards the wall.

"I don't know exactly," he stammered, "but I think--I'm sure it must be
much worse to be a grown up cripple, than to be a little boy one."

Betty left her seat by the window, and coming over to her brother's
side, sat down on the end of the sofa by Jack's feet.

"You wouldn't mind so much if you could be a great artist and paint
beautiful pictures, would you, Jack?" she asked gently.

"N--no, I don't suppose I should, not quite so much, because then I
could sell my pictures, and make lots of money for you and mother. Then
we could live in a lovely place in the country, and keep a carriage."

"And you could go to drive every day," added Betty, falling in at once
with Jack's fancy, "and mother could have a fine piano, and go to hear
all the concerts and operas. Then we could give money to poor people
instead of having people want to give it to us, and I could be very
accomplished, and go to parties sometimes."

"Yes," said Jack eagerly, "and some time we could all go to England, and
see the place where mother used to live."

Betty looked a little doubtful.

"I don't know whether mother would like that or not," she said. "You
see, when mother lived there she knew father, and now he's dead. It
might make her feel badly to go back."

"So it might; I never thought about that, but she might like to see
Uncle Jack. I should like to see him, shouldn't you, Betty?"

"Yes; I wonder if we ever shall. Mother doesn't like to have us talk
much about him, but I know she loves him very much; her eyes always look
that way when she tells us how handsome and splendid he used to be when
he was a boy."

"Wouldn't it be nice if Winifred Hamilton came to see us this
afternoon," Jack remarked rather irrelevantly; "I do like her very much,
don't you?"

"Yes, she's lovely; she said she'd come to see you some day."

"We haven't seen her since the day we went for the drive. Perhaps she's
waiting for you to call on her first."

"Mother won't let me go," said Betty regretfully; "she says she's afraid
Mrs. Hamilton might not want Winifred to know us."

"But if she hadn't wanted to know us she wouldn't have taken us to
drive, would she?"

"I shouldn't think so, but, any way, mother won't let me go there till
Winifred has been here."

"There's the clock striking four," exclaimed Jack joyfully; "mother'll
be in in a few minutes now. Why don't you light the gas stove, Betty,
and get her slippers nice and warm? She'll be so tired and wet."

"I will," said Betty, springing up with alacrity; "and I'll make her a
cup of tea, too; she'll like that." And away bustled the little
housewife, disappointment and vexation alike forgotten in the pleasant
prospect of making mother comfortable.

She had scarcely finished her preparations, and the kettle was just
beginning to boil, when the familiar ring was heard, and she flew to
open the door.

Jack was quite correct in his predictions; Mrs. Randall was both wet and
tired. Indeed, she came in looking so much more tired than usual that
Betty noticed it, and inquired anxiously as she hung up the dripping
umbrella, and helped her mother off with her waterproof, "Have you got a
headache, mother, dear?"

"Yes, dear, I have a bad headache. My cold is rather bad, too; I have
been coughing a great deal to-day. Is Jack all right?"

"Oh, yes; he ate a good lunch, and was reading all the morning, and
drawing pictures all the afternoon."

"How chilly it feels here," Mrs. Randall said, shivering and coughing as
she spoke.

"I've lighted the stove, and your slippers are nice and warm," said
Betty proudly. "The kettle's boiling too, and I'll have a nice cup of
tea for you in five minutes."

Mrs. Randall's tired face brightened, and she looked rather relieved.

"That is good," she said. "Hurry as quickly as you can with the tea,
dear, for I believe I am really chilled through."

Betty, nothing loath, flew about like a small whirlwind; had her
mother's wet shoes off and the warm slippers in their place; drew the
comfortable armchair as near as possible to the steam radiator, and
darted away to the kitchen, from whence she returned in a twinkling,
with a cup of steaming tea.

Mrs. Randall drank the tea, but though she pronounced it delicious, and
declared herself ever so much better, she still shivered, and cowered
over the radiator for warmth. Jack watched her anxiously, with a
troubled look on his pale little face.

In a little while Mrs. Randall rose.

"I think I will go and lie down," she said, and the children noticed
that her voice was very hoarse. "My head is bad, and if I could sleep
for half an hour I might be all right. Be sure and call me in time to
get dinner, Betty."

"I hope mother isn't going to be ill," said Jack anxiously, when they
were once more alone together.

"Oh, I guess not," said cheerful Betty; "she's only got a cold and a
headache. She'll be better after she's rested. Let's play a game of
lotto."

Jack assented, but though they played several games, and Betty did her
best to be entertaining, the troubled expression did not leave his face.
Suddenly he stopped short in the middle of a game.

"Hear mother coughing, Betty; she can't be asleep. I wish you'd go and
see if she wants anything."

Betty rose promptly, and hurried into the little bedroom. Her mother was
lying on her bed, with flushed cheeks and wide-open eyes. At sight of
her little girl she smiled faintly.

"I'm getting nice and warm now, dear," she said; "that tea did me so
much good. I'm going to get up very soon."

"You look ever so much better," said Betty in a tone of decided relief.
"You've got a lovely color in your cheeks."

Mrs. Randall pressed her hand to her forehead, but said nothing, and
next moment a violent spasm of coughing shook her from head to foot.

The evening that followed was a decidedly uncomfortable one. Mrs.
Randall's cough was very painful, and although she went about as usual,
and tried to appear like herself, it was easy to see that every movement
cost her an effort. Betty noticed that she scarcely tasted any dinner,
and Jack's eyes never left her face. Almost as soon as dinner was over
Jack said he was tired, and would like to go to bed. The others soon
followed, and by nine o'clock the lights were out, and the little family
settled for the night.

But there was little sleep for at least two members of the household.
Mrs. Randall coughed incessantly, and tossed from side to side in
feverish restlessness. Betty lay with wide-open eyes, and a heavier
heart than she had ever known before. It was all very well to assure
Jack that there was not much the matter with mother, and that she would
surely be all right in the morning. She knew nothing about illness, but
she could not help thinking that that dreadful cough and those burning
hands meant something more than an every-day cold.

"I am afraid I am disturbing you very much, dear," Mrs. Randall said at
last, when the clock struck ten, and a restless movement on Betty's part
assured her that the child was still wide awake. "I wish I could be
quieter, but this cough----"

"Never mind, mother, I'm not one bit sleepy. I'm really not. Wouldn't
you like to have me get you some water or something?"

"No, thank you, darling; I'm afraid it wouldn't do any good, but if you
are not asleep I should like to talk to you a little."

Betty took one of the hot hands in both her little cool ones, and patted
it gently. After another fit of coughing, her mother went on.

"You are only a little girl, Betty, but you are very sensible, and in
many ways seem older than you really are. There are some things that I
think you ought to know about, in case anything should ever happen to
me."

"But nothing is going to happen, is it, mother?" Betty asked in a rather
frightened whisper. They both spoke in whispers, so as not to disturb
Jack in the next room.

"No, no, dear, of course not; I only said 'in case.' I am sure I shall
be all right in the morning, but if at any time I should be ill,
Betty--if anything serious were to happen to me--you and Jack would be
all alone."

Betty nestled closer to her mother's side, and softly kissed the hot
fingers.

"I sometimes fear, dear, that I have done wrong in not making more
friends," Mrs. Randall said, after another fit of coughing. "People
would have been kind I dare say, but I have always been so proud and
reserved. Some of the families where I teach would have been friendly
if I had let them. I almost wish now that I had."

"Mrs. Hamilton is very kind," said Betty eagerly; "and she came to see
you."

"Yes, dear, and I liked her too, but I have always so dreaded being
patronized. You know, dear, that I haven't always been poor."

"Yes, mother, I know; you were not poor in England."

"I have often told you about my English home, and about your Uncle Jack,
and how happy we were together when we were children. I have been
thinking a great deal of those times this evening, and all last night I
dreamed of Jack."

"He was your twin brother, wasn't he, mother?"

"Yes; and we were everything to each other. Our mother died when we were
babies, and our two sisters were much older, almost grown up in fact,
while we were still little children. I suppose my father loved us in his
way, but he was very stern, and we were all rather afraid of him. Our
older sisters were very good to us little ones, but they had their own
affairs to think of, and so Jack and I were left a good deal to
ourselves. Such merry times as we had--such pranks as we played."

"You mean the time when Uncle Jack rode the wild colt, and the day you
climbed the plum tree, and fell and broke your arm," said Betty, glad to
have her mother's thoughts turn in this direction, and hopeful of new
stories.

"Yes, those and many others, but, Betty dear, I want to talk to you
about something else to-night. You have never heard very much about your
father, have you, darling?"

"No, mother," said Betty softly; "I know you don't like to talk about
him."

"I ought to like it, but I loved him so dearly that for a long time
after his death I could not bring myself to mention his name to any one,
even my own children."

"Did Uncle Jack love him too?" Betty asked rather timidly; "you said you
always liked the same things."

"They never met. Jack was at college when your father first came into
our neighborhood. He came to visit at the vicarage; Mr. Marvyn, our
vicar, had known his father. By that time both my sisters were married,
and as I was often lonely at home when Jack was away, I got into the
habit of spending a good many days with the Marvyn girls, who were
about my own age. Your father was only a poor artist, but he was very
clever, and people said he would make his mark in the world some day.
Jack was very fond of sketching himself, and I think that was one reason
why I first began to be interested in your father. We used to go off on
sketching expeditions together that spring, and we grew to know each
other very well. Jack was invited to spend his summer vacation in
Switzerland with a party of friends, and he decided to go. It was the
first vacation he had not spent with me, and I think I was more hurt and
jealous than I had any right to be under the circumstances. I wrote him
how I felt, and he, as was only natural, thought me silly, and told me
so. That made me angry, and we quarreled for the first time in our
lives. It was only a foolish little quarrel, but it kept me from telling
him, as I should otherwise have done, how much I was going about with
Archie Randall.

"At first my father did not seem to notice how things were going, but I
think some one must have warned him, for one day when I came back from a
long walk with your father, he called me into his study, and told me he
did not wish me to have anything more to do with young Randall, who was
only a penniless artist, and not a proper companion for one of his
daughters.

"I am not going to tell you about that time, Betty. I was very angry,
and I am afraid I did not behave very well towards my father, who was an
old man, and who I think really loved me. When he found that I would not
obey him, he sent for Archie, and forbade him to see me again. Then all
at once your father and I found out how much we cared for each other. He
was very honorable. He wanted me to wait for him while he went away and
made a name for himself, but I was young and headstrong, and I loved him
better than anything else in the world. The end of it was that we ran
away, and were married in London by special license."

Betty gasped. This was the most interesting, romantic story she had ever
heard.

"And didn't your father ever forgive you?" she questioned breathlessly.

"No, never. He wrote me one letter after my marriage, and only one. He
said that I had disgraced my family, and he never wished to see my face
again. He said he had changed his will, and that neither I nor my
husband should ever inherit a penny of his money."

"And Uncle Jack, was he angry too?"

"He wrote me only once. He was very much grieved, and could not
understand how I could have acted as I had done. That was twelve years
ago and I have never heard a word from him since.

"We came to America, and after a time your father obtained employment as
an illustrator for a publishing firm here in New York. Then you and Jack
were born. We were very happy in those days, and if it had not been for
my longing to see Jack and know that he forgave me, I should have been
quite content. I was too proud to write to him, but kept hoping that
something would happen to bring us together again, and that he and my
husband might become good friends. Then, six years ago, just as we were
beginning to feel that we were really making our way in the world, your
father died."

Mrs. Randall paused, and Betty felt the hand she held quiver
convulsively, but after a moment's pause she went on again.

"It was a terrible struggle at first. I had never been brought up to
support myself, and now I was left alone in the world with two little
helpless children to care for. Little Jack was frightfully delicate. The
doctors told me that it was only by the very tenderest care that I could
hope to save him. Twice I decided to write to my brother Jack. He would
help me, I knew. I even wrote the letters, but I tore them up again. I
was too proud. I could not ask for help even from him.

"My music was my only talent, and in time I succeeded in procuring
pupils. It has been hard work ever since, but I have managed somehow,
and you and Jack have never suffered."

"No, indeed, we haven't, mother; we've had lots of good times, and Jack
is ever so much stronger than he used to be."

"I know that, and I am very thankful. If I can only keep my health--I
have always been very strong. Why, I don't think I have ever been really
ill in my life."

A spasm of coughing interrupted Mrs. Randall's words, and it was several
minutes before she was able to speak again.

"I don't know why I am telling you all this to-night, Betty, unless it
is that I feel so restless and wakeful. If I keep well everything will
be all right, but if anything should ever happen--things do happen
sometimes you know, darling--if you and Jack are ever left alone in the
world, then you must try to find your Uncle Jack. He will be good to
you and love you for my sake, I know."

"Where does he live, mother?"

"I don't know where he is now, but a letter sent to the old home would
probably reach him. My father has been dead for nearly two years--I saw
the notice of his death in an English newspaper--and Jack, as his only
son, would naturally inherit everything. My father was a general, you
know--General Stanhope. In my desk you will find a letter addressed to
John Stanhope, Esq., Stonybrook Grange, Devonshire, England. That is the
address of my old home. You must see that it is stamped and posted. I
wrote it shortly after my father's death. I thought that I ought to make
some provision in case of anything happening to me. In it I have told
him everything, and asked him to care for you and Jack. Why, my darling,
what are you crying for? I didn't say anything was going to happen.
Hush, I hear Jack stirring; I am afraid our talk is disturbing him. Now
turn over like a good little girl, and go to sleep. I feel better than I
did, and I shall try to go to sleep too."

Betty, much reassured by her mother's words, obeyed as far as turning
over was concerned, and soon the only sounds to be heard were the
ticking of the clock and Mrs. Randall's heavy breathing. Betty lay
awake for some time, thinking over the story she had heard, but she was
only a little girl, after all, and before very long her thoughts grew
dim and confused; she fell into a doze, and in a few moments more was
fast asleep.



CHAPTER V

WINIFRED TO THE RESCUE


When Betty next opened her eyes it was broad daylight, and the morning
sunshine was peeping through the chinks of the shutters. Her first
thought was of her mother, and she was glad to find that Mrs. Randall
was still asleep. She was breathing heavily, but her eyes were closed,
and she did not cough. Even when Betty rose softly, and crept round to
the other side of the bed to look at her more closely, she did not move,
although she was as a rule a very light sleeper.

"It's after seven," said Betty to herself, glancing rather uneasily at
the clock; "I don't think mother ever slept so late before."

Just then she heard Jack stirring in his bed, and she hurried into the
next room to tell him to be very quiet, as mother was still asleep.

"Is she better?" Jack inquired in an anxious whisper, as Betty bent over
him in motherly fashion, to arrange his pillows more comfortably.

"Yes, I think so; her eyes are shut, and she's lying very still. I only
just woke up myself."

"I've been awake for ever so long," said Jack; "I've been listening to
mother. She doesn't cough so much any more, but she breathes so hard,
and sometimes she moans. Oh, Betty, I'm frightened; I don't know why,
but I am." And the poor little fellow buried his face in the pillow, and
began to cry.

Betty dropped on her knees by the bedside, striving to comfort her
little brother by every means in her power.

"There isn't anything to be frightened about, Jack, there really isn't,"
she whispered soothingly. "Mother's all right; she told me she was
better last night before she went to sleep, and, oh, Jack dear, she told
me something else; such an interesting story, all about father and our
grandfather and Uncle Jack. I'll tell you all of it by and by. There's
mother calling me; don't let her see you've been crying."

Mrs. Randall's eyes were open when Betty returned to her bedside.
Indeed, the little girl's first impression was that they were unusually
bright. There was a bright color in her cheeks too, but Mrs. Randall's
first words quickly dispelled Betty's hope that she was better.

"I'm afraid I shall not be able to get up this morning, Betty," she
said, and her voice had sunk to a hoarse whisper now; "I seem to have
lost all my strength, and there is such a terrible pain in my chest that
I can scarcely breathe."

"Oh, mother, what shall we do?" cried Betty in sudden consternation.
"Oughtn't you to have a doctor come to see you?"

Mrs. Randall shook her head decidedly.

"No, no," she said impatiently, "I can't afford to have a doctor; I will
lie here for a while, and perhaps I shall feel better. What day is it?"

"Thursday," said Betty, trying to control the sudden trembling of her
knees.

"That's too bad; Mrs. Flynn is always engaged on Thursdays, I know. I
thought she might be able to come in and help. Well, you'll have to
manage about breakfast as well as you can. I don't want anything myself,
but you must prepare some oatmeal, and boil some eggs for Jack and
yourself. Tell Jack he must stay in bed a little while longer, but that
just as soon as I can I will come and dress him."

That was the strangest morning Betty and Jack had ever spent. Never
before in their remembrance had their mother failed to be up and about
by seven o'clock. Even in those sad days, which Betty could just
remember, after their father's death, her own grief had never prevented
her from fulfilling the little household duties. Now she lay still, with
closed eyes, scarcely noticing what went on about her. Betty brought her
some tea, and she drank it thirstily, but refused to touch any food.
Once she roused herself sufficiently to say that she thought a mustard
plaster on her chest might ease the pain, but when Betty inquired
anxiously how to make one, she did not answer, and seemed to have
forgotten all about the matter.

Jack was very good and patient, but he was, if anything, more frightened
than Betty, and his white, drawn little face was pitiful to see. Betty
made him as tidy as she could, gave him his breakfast, and brought him
his new story book to read, but he shook his head mournfully.

"I don't want to read this morning," he said; "I'd rather just lie
still."

"Oh, Jack, you're not going to be ill too, are you?" cried Betty, the
tears starting to her eyes.

"No, I'm not ill, only I can't read; I wish I could see how mother
looks."

"She looks all right," said Betty encouragingly; "she's got a lovely
color in her cheeks, only I wish she'd wake up and talk about things. I
don't know what to do about going to market, and I suppose we ought to
tell her pupils she can't give them any lessons to-day."

"She's talking now, I hear her," said Jack in a tone of relief. "Oh,
Betty, she's calling me. Yes, mother, dear, I'm all right; I'm so glad
you're better."

Betty flew to her mother's side.

"Are you better, mother?" she asked eagerly. "I'm so glad you're awake,
because I want to ask----" She paused abruptly, terrified by the strange
look in those bright, feverish eyes. Her mother was looking straight
into her face, but did not seem to see her.

"Jack, Jack," she kept repeating in her low, hoarse whisper, "Jack, I
want you. I did wrong, I know, but you will forgive me. You will be good
to the children, and love them for my sake, won't you, Jack?"

Betty's face was very white, her eyes big with terror.

"Jack," she gasped, running back to her brother's room, and flinging
herself down beside him in an abandonment of grief and despair,
"mother's talking in her sleep; she doesn't know what she's saying. She
thinks Uncle Jack is here. Oh, what shall we do--what shall we do?"

"We'll have to get some one to come and see her," said Jack with
decision. "Run down and ask Mrs. Hamilton to come; I know she will,
she's so kind."

Betty sprang to her feet.

"I'll go right away," she said, "perhaps she'll know what to do. Mother
says she can't afford to have a doctor. Oh, there's the door bell; I'm
so glad somebody's come."

She ran to the door, threw it open, and then drew back a step in
surprise. The visitor was Winifred Hamilton.

"Good-morning," said Winifred pleasantly. "Mother's gone out shopping
with Aunt Estelle, and she said I might come and see you and Jack. I was
coming before, but I've had a bad cold ever since Saturday, and mother
was afraid of the draughts on the stairs. I haven't been to school all
the week. Why, what's the matter--is Jack ill?"

"No," said Betty; "Jack's all right, but oh, I'm so sorry your mother's
gone out. I was just going to ask her if she wouldn't please come up
here to see mother."

"Is there something the matter with your mother?" Winifred inquired
sympathetically.

"She had a bad cold yesterday, and this morning she's worse. She keeps
her eyes shut most of the time, and doesn't understand the things I say
to her. I'm afraid she is very ill--oh, I'm afraid she is." And Betty
burst into tears.

Winifred's tender little heart was filled with compassion.

"Don't cry, don't," she whispered, throwing her arms impulsively around
Betty's neck; "maybe she'll be all right soon. I'll tell mother about it
the minute she comes in, and she'll come right up. Do you think Jack
would like to have me stay with him for a while? I might read to him
while you're doing things for your mother."

Betty said she was sure Jack would like it very much, and having dried
her eyes on Winifred's handkerchief, she led the way to her brother's
bedside.

"Jack," said Betty softly, "here's Winifred Hamilton. Her mother's out,
but she's going to tell her about mother just as soon as she comes
home."

Jack looked pleased.

"I'm glad to see you," he said politely, holding out his thin little
hand. "I'm usually up on the sofa by this time, but mother wasn't able
to dress me this morning."

"That's all right," said Winifred, giving the outstretched hand a
hearty squeeze. "When people aren't very strong they often stay in bed
quite late, you know. Your mother's awake now, isn't she, Betty? I hear
her talking."

Betty stole on tiptoe to her mother's door, but returned in a moment.

"She's only talking in her sleep," she said anxiously. "I spoke to her,
but she didn't answer. Did you ever see any one who was very ill,
Winifred?"

"I saw Mr. Bradford have an attack once," said Winifred; "his eyes were
shut, and he looked very white. Mrs. Bradford sent for the doctor. Why
don't you have a doctor come to see your mother?"

"She doesn't want one," said Betty, coloring. "I asked her this morning,
and she said she didn't. Would you mind coming to look at her, Winifred?
Perhaps you can tell what the matter is."

Winifred said she would not mind, and, hand in hand, the two little
girls stole into the dark little bedroom, and stood looking down at the
flushed face on the pillow. Mrs. Randall was tossing restlessly from
side to side, and talking in a low, incoherent way.

"Mother," said Betty in a voice that she tried hard to make steady and
cheerful, "here's Winifred Hamilton. She came up to see us, and she's
going to read to Jack."

Mrs. Randall muttered something unintelligible, and her eyes wandered
past the two children, and fixed themselves vacantly on the opposite
wall.

"I'm not going to be ill," she said, apparently addressing some unseen
person; "I can't be ill, you know. I must take care of the children;
there's no one else to do it."

"She's delirious," whispered Winifred, looking frightened. "I never saw
any one like that before, but I've read about it in books. I'm sure a
doctor ought to see her."

Betty's cheeks were scarlet, and her eyes drooped, but she said nothing,
and in silence they went back to Jack. The little boy looked imploringly
at Winifred, as if with some faint hope that she might be able to set
matters right.

"Do you think she's very ill?" he asked tremulously.

"I think a doctor ought to see her," said Winifred decidedly. "My friend
Lulu Bell's papa is a doctor, and he's very kind. Would you like to have
me ask him to come and see your mother?"

"No," said Betty sharply; "mother doesn't want a doctor; I told you so
before."

"But, Betty," persisted Winifred, "she ought to have some medicine or
something, and we don't know what to do for her. I know mother would
send for a doctor right away if she were at home."

To Winifred's surprise, Betty suddenly put up both hands before her
face, and burst into a passion of crying.

"Oh, what shall we do--what shall we do?" she sobbed, rocking herself
backward and forward in her distress; "we can't have a doctor, mother
said we couldn't; she said we couldn't afford it."

For a moment Winifred stood motionless, uncertain what to do or say.
Jack hid his face in the bedclothes, shaking from head to foot with
sobs. Next instant both Winifred's arms were around Betty's neck.

"I'll tell you what I'll do, Betty," she whispered eagerly. "I'll go and
see Dr. Bell myself, and tell him all about it. He's very kind indeed.
Lulu says he often goes to see poor--I mean people who can't afford to
pay him, and when Lulu's kitty got run over by a trolley-car and had her
leg broken, he set the leg himself, and took such good care of the kitty
that she got all well again. I'll go right away; he's always at home in
the morning, and I know he won't mind coming one single bit. Oh, Betty,
please, please do let me."

Betty wavered, but Jack, lifting his tear-stained face from the pillow,
cried imploringly:

"Yes, do go, Winifred, and, oh, please ask him to come right away.
Mother must have a doctor, Betty, and it doesn't matter whether she can
afford it or not."

Winifred waited to hear no more. Three minutes later she was ringing
violently at her own front door bell.

"Oh, Lizzie," she cried breathlessly, as the maid opened the door, "I
want you to put on your hat right away, and come with me to Dr. Bell's!
Mrs. Randall is very, very ill, and Betty and Jack don't know what to do
for her."

At first Lizzie seemed inclined to hesitate, but when the state of the
case had been more fully explained to her, she willingly consented to
leave her ironing, and she and Winifred were soon in the street hurrying
towards the home of Winifred's friends.

As they approached their destination, Winifred's courage began to fail.
After all, she thought, she might be doing a very bold and unheard-of
thing in asking a doctor to go to see a person who had frankly stated
that she could not afford to employ him. What if Dr. Bell were
angry--what if he refused to go? Winifred's heart sank at the thought.
Her friend Lulu would be at school she knew, but possibly her mother or
aunt might be at home. Winifred decided that in that case she would tell
her story to them. It would be much less formidable than appealing
directly to the doctor himself. Her heart was beating very fast as they
mounted Dr. Bell's front steps and when the door was opened by a small
boy in brass buttons, who greeted her with a broad smile of recognition,
she could scarcely summon voice enough to inquire:

"Are Mrs. Bell or Miss Warren at home, Jimmie?"

"No, Miss, they've both of 'em gone out," returned the boy, regarding
her somewhat curiously. "Miss Lulu's out too; she's gone to school."

"Yes, I knew Lulu would be at school," said Winifred, "but I thought
Mrs. Bell or Miss Warren might be in. I--I want to see the doctor."

"Oh, the doctor's in all right. He's got a patient just now, but you
can wait in the front office."

There was no help for it then, and, with a little frightened gasp,
Winifred followed the boy to the doctor's comfortable office, where she
sat down on a sofa to wait until he should be disengaged. She did not
have long to wait. In a few moments she heard the front door open and
close. Then the door of the waiting room opened and the doctor came in.

He was a tall gentleman with a kind, pleasant face, and at sight of
Winifred he came quickly forward, smiling and holding out his hand.

"Good-morning, little Miss Winnie," he said pleasantly, "and what can I
do for you to-day? Nothing wrong at home, I hope."

"Oh, no, sir," said Winifred, half her fears vanishing at the sound of
the doctor's kind voice; "father and mother are very well. I've had a
cold, but I'm all right again now. I come--that is, I want--oh, Dr.
Bell, will you please do me a very great favor?"

"Do you a favor?" the doctor repeated, still smiling, and sitting down
beside her on the sofa. "Yes indeed, I will--that is, if I can. What is
it?"

"It's to go and see Mrs. Randall, who lives in our apartment house,"
Winifred explained timidly. "She's a very nice lady, but she hasn't any
money to pay a doctor with. She's very ill indeed, but she told
Betty--that's her little girl, you know--not to send for a doctor,
because she couldn't afford it."

The doctor looked a little puzzled.

"Perhaps she wouldn't care to see me then," he said, "if she objected to
having a doctor sent for."

"Oh, yes, she would," said Winifred earnestly, "at least she wouldn't
know anything about it, and Betty and Jack would be so very glad. Jack
is a cripple, he can't walk at all; and, oh, it's dreadful to see him so
unhappy. Mrs. Randall is really very ill. She doesn't know Betty and she
keeps talking to herself the way people in books do when they're
delirious.

"I said I'd come and tell you about it, and I was sure you'd come,
because Lulu says you're so very kind."

The doctor smiled, but he was beginning to look really interested.

"Did your mother send you for me?" he asked.

Winifred's eyes sank.

"N--no, sir," she faltered, "mother's out shopping, and doesn't know
anything about it. Perhaps I oughtn't to have come, but I didn't know
what else to do, and I was so very sorry for Betty and Jack."

Winifred's lip quivered, and two big tears rolled slowly down her
cheeks. The doctor patted her shoulder kindly.

"You did quite right to come," he said, "and I will go to see your
friend to-day."

"Will you please go just as soon as you can?" Winifred asked eagerly.

The doctor rose and looked at his watch.

"It is half-past ten now," he said. "I have to stay in my office till
eleven, and then I have one or two serious cases to see, but I will be
at Mrs. Randall's as early as I possibly can."

"Now run along home, and if your mother makes any objections, tell her I
said you did quite right to come, and that I am very glad you did."

"Oh, thank you, sir, thank you very much indeed," said Winifred
gratefully, and the look she gave the doctor said more than any words
could have done. With a sudden impulse, he bent and kissed her.

"You dear little girl," he said. And then another patient was announced,
and Winifred hurried away.



CHAPTER VI

FRIENDS IN NEED


By the time Dr. Bell arrived at the apartment house Betty and Jack were
no longer alone with their mother. Mrs. Hamilton had returned from her
shopping expedition, and as soon as she heard the story from Winifred,
had hastened upstairs to see what could be done. One glance at the
flushed face and bright burning eyes, had been enough to convince her
that Winifred had not exaggerated matters and that Mrs. Randall was
indeed very ill. As for Betty, at the first glimpse of Mrs. Hamilton's
kind, sweet face it had seemed to the little girl as though a great load
had been suddenly lifted from her shoulders.

Mrs. Hamilton did not waste much time in words, but at once set about
the task of making everybody more comfortable. In an incredibly short
time Mrs. Randall's face and hands were bathed, and her bed smoothed;
Jack was dressed in his wrapper, and carried to his usual place on the
sitting-room sofa, and a substantial meal was in preparation in the
kitchen. When the doctor came, Mrs. Hamilton sent Betty to stay with
Jack, and the two children sat silently, hand in hand, listening for any
sounds that might come from their mother's room.

"Do you think the doctor will make her well right away, Betty?" Jack
whispered at last.

"I guess he will if he can. He's got a very kind face, and he smiled at
me when I opened the door. Hark, they're coming out now."

Next moment Mrs. Hamilton and the doctor came into the room together.
They both looked grave and anxious.

"She must have a nurse," Betty heard the doctor say in a low voice. "I
will send one as soon as I can, and be in again myself this evening. You
will stay with her till the nurse arrives?"

"Oh, yes, certainly; and the children, what of them?"

The doctor glanced for the first time towards the sofa where the two
children sat, Jack propped up with pillows, and Betty close beside him,
holding his hand. He remembered what Winifred had said about the little
crippled boy, and his face softened.

"We must see about them by and by," he said, "and in the meantime I
think we can count on their keeping quiet."

"Oh, yes, sir," said Betty eagerly; "Jack is always very quiet indeed,
and I won't make any noise."

"That's right. You are both going to be brave little people, I know, and
perhaps by and by you may like to go and make a little visit to some of
your friends, just until your mother gets stronger."

"We haven't any friends," said Betty; "we don't know any one at all,
except Mrs. Hamilton and Winifred."

The doctor looked surprised, and a little troubled.

"No friends?" he repeated; "no aunts or cousins?"

Betty shook her head.

"We have an uncle in England," she said, "but we've never seen him. We
haven't any relations in this country. Mother has her pupils, but we
don't know any of them."

The doctor said no more, and was turning to leave the room, when Jack
spoke for the first time since his entrance.

"Please, sir," he said tremulously, "would you mind telling us--is
mother going to be well again pretty soon?"

"Pretty soon I hope, my boy," said the doctor kindly, and coming over to
the sofa, he took the thin little hand in his and looked long and
earnestly into Jack's troubled face. "I shall do all I can to make her
well soon, you may be sure of that."

"Thank you, sir," said Jack gratefully. "I think you are a very kind
gentleman," he added in his quaint, old-fashioned little way.

The doctor smiled, gave the small hand a friendly shake and hurried
away, followed by Mrs. Hamilton.

That was about the longest afternoon Betty and Jack had ever known. Mrs.
Hamilton was very kind, but she was too busy to pay much attention to
them, and they were left pretty much to themselves. There was no use in
trying to read or to play games. They tried lotto, but it proved a
miserable failure. Then Betty tried reading aloud, but a big lump kept
rising in her throat and choking her, and they soon gave that up as
well. After all, the most comforting thing seemed to sit hand in hand,
talking in whispers, and listening to every sound from the sick-room.

At about four o'clock there was a ring at the bell, and Betty, hurrying
to admit the visitor, encountered in the hall a tall young woman, with a
bright, sensible face, who carried a traveling bag, and who Mrs.
Hamilton told her was the nurse Dr. Bell had promised to send. After
that there was a good deal of whispering and moving about, but no one
came near the children, and the time seemed very long indeed.

It was nearly dark when the doctor came again. The children heard his
voice in the hall, and after a little while he and Mrs. Hamilton came
into the sitting room together, and Mrs. Hamilton lighted the gas.

"You poor little things," she said cheerfully, "what a long, lonely
afternoon you have had. They've been as quiet as little mice, doctor,
and I feel sure Betty is going to be a great help to Miss Clark. As for
Jack, he is going to be a good, brave little boy, and let Winifred and
me take care of him till his mother gets well again."

She bent over the sofa as she spoke, and softly kissed Jack's forehead.
He looked up in her face rather apprehensively, and his lip trembled.

"You're very kind indeed," he said politely, "but if you please, I'd
rather stay with mother. I'll be very good."

"I know you will be good, dear; but, you see, there isn't very much
room here. Betty will have to sleep in your bed, and then there is Miss
Clark, you know. So I want you to be a very good boy, and come home with
me. Betty shall come down to see you the first thing in the morning, and
you and Winifred will have such good times together."

Jack began to cry.

"I'd rather not, indeed, I would much rather not," he sobbed; "I've
never been away from mother and Betty at night. Mother always puts me to
bed."

Mrs. Hamilton looked distressed and rather helpless, but the doctor came
to the rescue.

"Jack," he said pleasantly, sitting down beside the little boy, "what
would you like to be when you grow up?"

"An artist," said Jack promptly, and in his surprise at the question he
forgot to cry. "My father was an artist, and I want to be one too. My
grandfather was a general, and I'd like to be a soldier, but I couldn't,
you know, on account of not being able to walk."

"I don't know about that," said the doctor, smiling; "fighting isn't the
only part of a soldier's duty, you know. Wouldn't you like to begin by
being a brave little soldier boy now?"

"How could I?" Jack inquired wonderingly.

"Well, one very important part of a soldier's duty is to obey orders.
Now we know that you want to stay here with your mother and Betty, but
we feel that it will be much better for you to go home with Mrs.
Hamilton, who has very kindly offered to take you with her. Betty can be
a great help to Miss Clark, the nurse, if she stays here. You would like
to do something to help your mother get well, wouldn't you?"

"Yes, of course I would," said Jack, with a brightening face.

"Well, the very best thing you can possibly do for her at this moment is
to obey Mrs. Hamilton, and let me carry you downstairs to her rooms."

Jack was silent for a moment; his face was twitching, and he clasped and
unclasped his hands nervously. Then he looked up into the doctor's face.

"All right," he said bravely, "I'll go, only--only, may I kiss mother
good-night first?"

"Your mother is asleep now, but you may look at her if you like. She is
more comfortable than she was this morning. Shall I take you in to have
a peep at her?"

Jack nodded--he was finding it rather hard work to speak just then--and
the doctor lifted him in his arms and carried him into the bedroom.

Mrs. Randall was lying with closed eyes, still breathing heavily, but no
longer talking in that strange, incoherent way that had frightened Betty
so much in the morning. Miss Clark, in her nurse's uniform, sat at the
foot of the bed.

"Good-night, mother," Jack whispered very softly, and he kissed his hand
to the motionless figure on the bed. "I'll be a good boy. Good-night and
pleasant dreams."

The nurse rose, and, at a sign from Dr. Bell, followed them out of the
room.

"This is Miss Clark, Jack," the doctor said; "she is taking splendid
care of your mother."

"Thank you very much," said Jack, trying to smile. "Won't you please be
a little kind to Betty too? I think she'll miss me."

"That I will, dear," said the nurse heartily; and then she turned away
hurriedly with a suspicious moisture in her eyes.

It cost Betty a great effort to see her little brother carried away from
her, and she clung to him passionately for a moment, feeling half
inclined to protest against such a strange state of affairs. But she was
a sensible little woman, and realizing the necessity in this case, she
forced a smile, and the last words that Jack heard as the doctor
carried him downstairs were Betty's cheerful assurances that she should
take good care of mother, and come to see him the very first thing in
the morning.

It was no easy task for Jack to keep back the tears, but he did keep
them back, though he had to bite his lip and to wink very hard indeed in
order to do it. Dr. Bell did not fail to notice the effort, and he found
himself beginning to like this small boy immensely.

Winifred was watching for them at the open door, and she gave Jack such
a rapturous greeting that it would have been impossible not to feel
gratified by it. Almost before he realized what had happened, Jack found
himself settled on a comfortable sofa, with Winifred hovering over him,
and Mrs. Hamilton and Lizzie bustling about completing the arrangements
for his comfort.

"And now I must say good-night, my little soldier," Dr. Bell said,
taking Jack's hand as he spoke. "I shall come to see your mother again
in the morning, and I have an idea that you and I are going to be great
friends. By the way, how long is it that you have been laid up like
this?"

"Ever since I was a baby," said Jack. "My nurse let me fall, and it hurt
my back."

The doctor said nothing, but looked interested, and when he followed
Mrs. Hamilton out of the room a few moments later he asked her how long
she had known the Randall family.

"I never spoke to them until last week," said Mrs. Hamilton, and in a
few words she told the story of Winifred's Thank Offering. The doctor
looked considerably surprised.

"Do you mean to tell me that they are almost total strangers to you, and
yet that you are willing to take all this trouble for them?"

Mrs. Hamilton smiled.

"People learn to help each other where I have lived," she said simply;
"and besides, I am so happy myself now that I think I feel a little as
Winifred does, and should like to make a Thank Offering too."

"I wish there were more people in the world like you and Winifred," said
the doctor heartily. "I am sure it would be a better place than it is if
there were."

       *       *       *       *       *

An hour later Jack was lying in a soft bed in the little room opening
out of Winifred's. Mrs. Hamilton had undressed him almost as tenderly as
his mother could have done; had heard him say his prayers, and when at
last she had bent down to give him a good-night kiss, Jack's warm
little heart had overflowed, and he had suddenly thrown his arms around
her neck.

"I love you," he whispered softly; "oh, I do love you very much."

But when Mrs. Hamilton had turned down the gas and gone away, and Jack
found himself alone in this strange room, away from his mother and
Betty, he began to feel very lonely. There was no one to see the tears
now, and he let them have their own way at last. He tried to cry very
softly, so as not to disturb Winifred in the next room, but in spite of
all his efforts the choking sobs would come. Suddenly the door creaked
slightly, there was a patter of bare feet on the carpet, and a sweet
little voice whispered close at his side:

"Are you asleep, Jack?"

"No," said Jack, speaking in a rather muffled voice, for he had been
trying to stifle his sobs by burying his head in the pillow, "I haven't
gone to sleep yet, but I guess I shall pretty soon."

"I just came to ask if you would like to have one of the children for
company. I know boys don't care much about dolls generally, but they are
very comforting sometimes, especially when people don't feel quite
happy, and I thought you might possibly like Lord Fauntleroy, because
he's a boy too, you know."

"You are very kind," said Jack gratefully; "I should like it. I never do
play with dolls--boys don't, you know, but a boy doll--well, that seems
a little different, doesn't it?"

"Of course it does," said Winifred confidently. "Just wait a minute, and
I'll bring him."

She darted away into her own room, returning in a moment with Lord
Fauntleroy in her arms.

"I'll put him right here on the pillow beside you," she said, "and if
you should feel lonely, you can just put out your hand and touch him.
There isn't anything to be lonely for really, you know, because father
and mother are in the parlor, and I'm right here in the next room, but
people do sometimes feel a little queer in the dark, especially if
they're not used to it. Lulu Bell doesn't like the dark a bit, and she
was ten last December. Now I guess we'd better not talk any more,
because mother said we were to go right to sleep."

Whether it was the presence of Lord Fauntleroy or the thought of the
kind little girl who had brought him I do not know, but, whatever the
cause may have been, Jack did not cry any more that night. He lay awake
for a little while thinking about how kind every one was, and then his
eyes closed, and he fell into a sound sleep from which he did not wake
till morning.



CHAPTER VII

A CHANCE FOR JACK


For several days Mrs. Randall was very ill, much worse than Jack ever
knew, for no one had the heart to tell him of the anxiety that was
filling their minds to the exclusion of almost every other thought. Even
Betty had always a bright smile and a cheerful assurance for her little
brother that mother would soon be better, no matter how heavy her poor
little heart might be. It was impossible to help loving the
sweet-tempered, gentle little cripple, and Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton soon
found themselves growing very fond of their guest, while Dr. Bell seldom
failed to stop for a word or two with his little soldier boy, as he
called him, after each of his visits to the invalid upstairs. As for
Winifred, she constituted herself Jack's willing slave, and the two soon
became firm friends. They read together, played games together, and
finally, as a mark of especial favor, Jack undertook to teach her to
draw, an honor which was highly appreciated by the little girl.

Lulu Bell, hearing the story from her father, came at once to see the
interesting addition to the Hamilton household, and the three children
spent a delightful afternoon together, the little girls teaching Jack
several new games, and being taught several themselves in return. Betty,
coming in for a few moments to see how her brother was getting on, found
them all laughing heartily over "My Grandmother's Cat." Jack's eyes were
fairly dancing, and there was a brighter tinge of color in his cheeks
than she had seen there in many a day. Poor Betty's heart was very heavy
that day, and, somehow, the sight of Jack's happiness--a happiness in
which she had no share--caused her to feel almost angry, although she
could not have told why. It was the first time in his life that Jack had
ever enjoyed anything in which his sister had not an equal share.

Winifred greeted Betty very kindly, and Jack begged her to stay and join
in the fun, but the little girl only shook her head sadly, saying she
must go back to her mother, as Miss Clark might need her.

"But you'll come back very soon, won't you, Betty?" Jack said a little
wistfully, lifting his face for a kiss. "Oh, Betty dear, I am having
such a good time; I wish you could stay."

[Illustration: Betty found them all laughing heartily over "My
Grandmother's Cat."--_Page 94._]

"I can't," said Betty shortly, and having kissed her little brother she
hurried away, winking hard to keep back the tears.

On the stairs she encountered Miss Clark, dressed for her daily walk.

"Your mother is asleep," the nurse explained, "and Mrs. Hamilton is
going to sit with her till I come back. Don't look so worried, dear, she
isn't any worse to-day; indeed, we think she is a little better."

Betty tried to smile, but the effort was rather a failure, and when she
had reached their own apartment, sat down on Jack's sofa, laying her
head down on the cushion on which her little brother's head had so often
rested.

A few moments later, Mrs. Hamilton, going into the kitchen for something
she wanted, was startled by the sound of low, subdued crying. Glancing
in at the door of the sitting room she saw Betty lying face downwards on
the sofa, her whole frame shaking with sobs. Next instant she was
bending over the little figure, softly stroking Betty's tumbled hair.

"Betty," she said tenderly, "poor little Betty, what is it?"

With a start Betty lifted her face, and somewhat to Mrs. Hamilton's
surprise, grew suddenly very red.

"It isn't anything," she said, beginning a hasty search for her
handkerchief, "only--only, I'm a horrid, wicked girl."

"Betty, dear, what do you mean?" Mrs. Hamilton sat down on the sofa and
put an arm affectionately around the trembling child. "Don't you know
what a great help you have been to Miss Clark and me? Why, I have never
seen a more thoughtful, sensible little girl."

"I am wicked, though," Betty maintained stoutly; "I'm jealous. I don't
like to have Jack so happy without me."

Mrs. Hamilton with some difficulty repressed a smile.

"Jealousy is a very common fault in all of us, Betty," she said, "but I
am sure you wouldn't like it if Jack were unhappy and fretting."

"No, oh, no, I shouldn't like that!--but"--with a stifled sob--"he did
seem to be having such a good time, and I'm so unhappy and so worried
about mother."

"I know you are worried about your mother, dear, but we all think her a
little better to-day, and Dr. Bell says that if she continues to
improve for the next twenty-four hours he hopes she will be out of all
danger. And now, Betty, I am going to tell you something that I know you
will be glad to hear. It is about Jack."

"About Jack?" repeated Betty, beginning to look interested.

"Yes, dear. I know how dearly you love your little brother, and how
happy it would make you if anything could be done for him--anything to
help his illness, I mean."

"Oh, Mrs. Hamilton, could anything really----" Betty could say no more,
but her flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes were more expressive than
words.

"Dr. Bell was talking to me about Jack last evening," Mrs. Hamilton went
on. "He is very much interested in the case, and as soon as your mother
is well enough he is going to ask her consent to bring a famous surgeon
here to see Jack."

Betty was actually trembling with excitement.

"And he thinks--he thinks that something might be done, so that Jack
would be able to walk like other people?" she gasped.

"He thinks something might be tried."

"I remember I once heard mother say that when Jack was a baby a doctor
told father that if he ever grew strong enough to bear it an operation
might be performed. Jack was so delicate for a long time that mother
never dared to think of it, but he is much stronger now."

"Well," said Mrs. Hamilton, rising, "we won't talk to any one about it
just yet, least of all to Jack himself, because, you know, it might
amount to nothing, and then think how terribly disappointed he would be.
But you and I can talk about it sometimes, and it will be our little
secret."

"Yes," said Betty eagerly, "and as soon as mother is well enough she
shall know too. Oh, Mrs. Hamilton, you have made me so very, very happy
I don't know what to do."

There was no more jealousy for Betty that day. She went about with a
look of such radiant happiness on her face that, when she came to kiss
Jack good-night, his first words were an eager exclamation. "Oh, Betty,
mother's better; I know she is, or you wouldn't look like that!"

The next morning Mrs. Randall really was better, and Dr. Bell came in
after his early visit to tell Jack the good news.

"You have been a good, brave little soldier," he said kindly, "and in a
few more days you will be able to go back to your mother and Betty."

"Betty has been much braver, though," said Jack, always eager to sound
his sister's praises. "Mrs. Hamilton says she doesn't know what they
would have done without Betty."

"Yes, indeed, Betty has been a famous little helper. I shall tell your
mother she has two little people to be proud of."

It was still some days, however, before Jack could go home, or before
Mrs. Randall was able fully to understand the state of affairs. At first
she was too weak to care much about what went on around her. She would
lie with half-closed eyes, only smiling faintly when spoken to, and
silently accepting all that was done for her without appearing to think
very much about it. But as her strength began to return, cares and
anxieties returned too, and one morning, when Mrs. Hamilton went up to
relieve Miss Clark for an hour, she found the invalid looking so flushed
and distressed that she hastened to inquire, as she took the hand Mrs.
Randall held out to her, "Is anything wrong? Are you not feeling as well
this morning?"

"Oh, yes, I am gaining strength every day," said Mrs. Randall with a
sigh, "but, Mrs. Hamilton, how can I ever repay you for all you have
done for us? I have been questioning Betty, and she has told me
everything."

"Now, my dear Mrs. Randall, please don't let us talk about repaying
anything," said Mrs. Hamilton cheerfully. "You haven't the least idea of
the pleasure your dear little boy has given my Winifred, and as for any
little things that I may have been able to do, why, they have given me
real pleasure too."

"You are very good, very good indeed," Mrs. Randall murmured, "but I
can't help worrying a little when I think of all that this illness of
mine involves. There are so many expenses to think of; the doctor and
the nurse, and other things besides. Miss Clark tells me that it will be
several weeks yet before I am able to go back to my work, and it is so
near the end of the season."

"I told Betty to write to your pupils, telling them of your illness,"
said Mrs. Hamilton. "We found a list of addresses in your desk. Several
notes have come for you, but I was afraid you were not strong enough to
see them before. Would you like to read some of them now?"

Mrs. Randall said she would, and when she had opened and glanced over
the half-dozen notes Mrs. Hamilton brought her, she looked up with tears
in her eyes.

"People are very good," she said a little unsteadily. "I don't think I
ever realized it before, but I have a great deal for which to be
thankful."

"I don't think we ever do realize what true friendship means until
trouble comes," said Mrs. Hamilton gently. "I know I did not until a
great sorrow came to me. I now feel that there is no greater happiness
in the world than being able to show my friends how much I care for
them."

The two ladies had a long talk that morning, and grew to know and like
each other better than either would have believed possible before. When
Mrs. Hamilton had gone back to her own apartment Mrs. Randall called
Betty to her side.

"Betty, darling," she said, and though there were tears in her eyes,
there was a more peaceful expression on her face than the little girl
had ever seen there before. "I am afraid I have been a very foolish,
selfish mother to you and Jack, but we all make mistakes sometimes, and
I am going to try and undo mine as soon as I can. Everybody has been so
good it makes me ashamed of my old foolish pride. Mrs. Hamilton has
taught me a lesson this morning that I shall never forget. I think she
is the best woman I have ever known."

That same afternoon Jack came home. Dr. Bell carried him upstairs and
laid him on the bed beside his mother. How delightful it was to the
little cripple to nestle in his mother's arms once more, and to feel her
tender kisses on his face. Neither of them said very much; but their
happy faces told the story plainly enough, and the doctor's kind eyes
glistened as he turned away rather hurriedly to give some direction to
Miss Clark. But after the first few rapturous moments, Jack found his
tongue and chattered away, telling of all the pleasant times he had had,
and the kind friends he had made, while Mrs. Randall listened; and Betty
hovered over them both with such a radiant face that her mother asked
her smilingly if she had not something delightful to tell as well as
Jack. But Betty only blushed a little and shook her head. She had no
intention of disclosing her secret just yet.

"Oh, Betty, it is nice to be at home again," said Jack, stretching
himself comfortably on the familiar sofa, when Miss Clark had carried
him away to the sitting room, leaving Mrs. Randall to rest for a while.
"I've had a perfectly lovely time, but I do like home."

"You don't love Winifred better than me, do you?" said Betty, with a
little twinge of the old jealousy.

"Why, Betty, how could I possibly do such a thing as that?" Jack's eyes
opened wide in astonishment.

"I didn't know," said Betty, hanging her head. "I'm awfully glad you
don't."

"I love Winifred very much," said Jack slowly, "but then you're my own
sister, and of course a person couldn't love another person as much as
his own sister. Oh, Betty, you didn't really think I could, did you?"

Jack was beginning to look troubled, and Betty, very much ashamed of
herself, hastened to reassure him.

"No, no, of course I didn't, not really, you know," she said, giving her
brother a hearty kiss. "I was silly, that's all, but it's all right now.
Isn't it lovely having mother so much better? Miss Clark says she can
begin to sit up in a few days, and such nice things have happened.
Nearly all mother's pupils have written kind notes, and most of them
have sent checks paying up to the end of the term. I don't think mother
wanted to take the checks at first, but Mrs. Hamilton talked to her, and
she says she's going to try not to mind so much about accepting favors
any more. I think there is only just one other thing in the world that
could make me happier than I am to-day."

"What's that?" Jack inquired.

"To have you able to walk," said Betty softly. She turned her head away
as she spoke, so that her brother should not see the expression in her
eyes.

Jack gave a little start, and drew a long, deep breath.

"But, Betty," he said almost in a whisper, "that's something that
couldn't ever possibly happen, you know. Oh, Betty, dear, please don't
talk about it, because you see it's impossible."

Suddenly Betty laid her face down beside her brother's on the pillow,
with a sob.

"Very, very wonderful things do happen sometimes," she whispered,
"things that are almost as wonderful as fairy stories. If you ever could
be made to walk, Jack, wouldn't you be the very happiest boy in the
whole world?"

"Of course I should," said Jack with decision, "if it only could happen,
but then you know, it couldn't."

Betty said no more, but hugged Jack tight, and kissed him a great many
times, and then she went away to the kitchen to help Miss Clark get
dinner.



CHAPTER VIII

THE DOCTOR'S VERDICT


Miss Clark's prediction proved correct, and in a few days Mrs. Randall
was able to sit up, and to be helped into the sunny little parlor, where
she sat by Jack's sofa, looking happier and more at rest than the
children had ever seen her look before. After that she improved so
rapidly that even Dr. Bell was surprised, and declared he had never seen
a woman with a finer constitution. At the end of another week Miss Clark
went away to another case, and Mrs. Flynn, the good-natured Irishwoman
who did the Randalls' washing, was engaged to come in by the day. So the
bright spring days came and went, and when the sun was brightest and the
air warmest, Jack's pale face would often look a little wistful, but
nothing more was said about drives in the park, and Betty, still waiting
patiently for leave to reveal her secret, began to wonder if after all
Mrs. Hamilton had been mistaken, or Dr. Bell had changed his mind.

One Saturday morning in May, Winifred appeared shortly after breakfast,
looking pleased and excited, and bringing an invitation for Betty.

"It's from Lulu Bell," she explained, when Betty, quite thrilled at the
prospect, had brought the visitor into the parlor to tell the news to
her mother and Jack. "Lulu asked Gertie Rossiter and me to lunch with
her and go to the circus to-day, but Gertie has the measles, so Lulu
telephoned, and asked me to bring Betty instead. Mother says she hopes
you'll let Betty go, Mrs. Randall, because she's sure Mrs. Bell would
like to have her very much."

Mrs. Randall looked pleased.

"I am sure Betty would enjoy it," she said; "you would like to go,
wouldn't you, dear?"

Betty hesitated, and glanced a little uneasily at Jack.

"I should like it," she said. "I've never been to the circus and it must
be lovely, but--but----"

"Oh, Betty, you must go!" cried Jack eagerly. "It'll be so nice, and you
can tell me all about it when you come home."

The time had been, and not so long before either, when Mrs. Randall
would have been inclined to regard this invitation as an attempt at
patronage, but she had been learning more than one lesson in these days
of her convalescence, and Mrs. Hamilton's kindly advice was beginning to
bear fruit.

"Lulu says her mother doesn't want us to wear anything especially nice,"
Winifred went on, "because we shall go around to see the animals before
the circus begins, and it may be dusty. I've got a lovely new book out
of the library; it's called 'Dorothy Dainty,' and I'm going to bring it
up for Jack to read this afternoon. I know he'll like it."

Matters being thus happily arranged, Winifred hurried away to telephone
her friend that Betty would be delighted to accept the invitation, and
Betty made herself very useful, helping Mrs. Flynn with the Saturday
cleaning, feeling all the time as if she were about to enter upon a new
and very interesting experience.

"You're sure you don't mind, Jack," she said, stooping to kiss him at
the last moment before going downstairs to join Winifred.

"Not a bit," said Jack heartily. "I hope you'll have a lovely time, and
it'll be such fun to hear all about it."

"You're not a single mite jealous, are you?" said Betty, with a sudden
recollection of her own feelings on another occasion.

"No, of course not. What does it feel like to be jealous?"

"Well, you know, I never went away and left you for a whole afternoon,
just to have fun before, and I'm going to have a good time, and you're
not. You wouldn't like it if you were jealous."

"But I am going to have a nice time," said Jack, looking rather puzzled;
"I've got that nice book Winifred brought, and mother's going to play
for me. I wonder what being jealous really does feel like."

"It doesn't feel nice," said Betty, blushing, "but I don't believe
you'll ever know anything about it, you're too dear."

It was about twelve o'clock when the two little girls, accompanied by
Mrs. Hamilton, left the apartment house, and started on their walk
across the park, to the Bells' home on Madison Avenue. It was a
beautiful day, and the park was full of children, all making the most of
their Saturday holiday. They met several May parties, and Betty told
them how her mother had once read them Tennyson's "May Queen," and how
Jack had been so much interested in the poem that he had learned it by
heart.

"Jack is really a very clever boy," said Winifred admiringly. "I don't
like boys very much generally, they're so rough, but I respect Jack very
much indeed."

"There isn't any other boy in the world like him," said Betty, with
conviction. "Mrs. Hamilton," she added rather shyly, "do you suppose Dr.
Bell has forgotten Jack, now that he doesn't come to see mother any
more?"

"I am very sure he has not," said Mrs. Hamilton decidedly.

Betty said no more on the subject, but her heart beat high with renewed
hope, and during the rest of the walk she felt as if she were treading
upon air.

Betty could not help feeling a little uncomfortable when she first
caught sight of the handsome house where Winifred's friends lived. She
had met Lulu only once, and although she looked upon the doctor as one
of her best friends, she did not know any other members of the family,
and the thought of being presented to entire strangers was a rather
embarrassing one. Mrs. Hamilton, having another engagement, left them at
the foot of the steps. Winifred rang the bell, and when the door was
opened by the boy in brass buttons, she walked in with the air of a
person very much at home. Betty followed more slowly, wondering rather
uncomfortably what people who lived in such a grand-looking house would
think of her faded brown dress and last year's straw hat. But all such
speculations were speedily forgotten in the kind cordiality of the
greeting she received. Lulu was a charming little hostess, and her
mother and her blind aunt both greeted the little stranger so kindly,
that they soon succeeded in making her feel almost as much at home as
Winifred herself.

At luncheon the ladies asked questions about Jack, and quite won Betty's
heart by telling her of the many kind things the doctor had said about
her little brother. Lulu had a great deal to say about the pretty
seaside cottage her father had just hired for the summer.

"You must come and make us a long visit, Winifred," she said decidedly,
but Winifred shook her head.

"I can't leave mother," she said, with equal decision on her part. "It's
so perfectly beautiful to have her, I can't ever go away from her."

"There is a good hotel very near us," said Mrs. Bell kindly. "Perhaps
your father and mother will come there to board for a while."

But Winifred still looked doubtful. She had an idea that money was not
very plentiful with her family just then, and she had heard her
mother say that a couple of weeks in the mountains, while father had his
vacation, would probably be all they could afford that summer.

[Illustration: What a delightful afternoon that was!--_Page 111._]

As soon as they rose from the luncheon table Mrs. Bell and the three
little girls started for the circus.

What a delightful afternoon that was! Even Betty's wildest anticipations
had scarcely prepared her for the blissful reality. She enjoyed every
moment, and every incident, from the clown who made her laugh till she
cried, to the "Battle of Santiago," which made her shiver and cling
tightly to Winifred's hand.

"It's been the loveliest afternoon I ever knew," she said gratefully to
Mrs. Bell, when it was all over, and the little girls were saying
good-bye at the door of the apartment house. "It was so kind of you to
take me, and I shall have lots and lots to tell Jack."

"I am very glad you could come with us, dear," said Mrs. Bell, smiling
kindly, "and next year I hope we can take Jack with us too."

"I suppose it isn't a very nice thing to say," Lulu whispered to
Winifred, "but I can't help being a little glad Gertie has the measles.
I do like Betty ever so much, and I know mamma likes her too."

At the door of the Hamiltons' apartment the children separated, and
Betty ran gayly upstairs, thinking of the delightful time she should
have living the events of the afternoon all over again in describing
them to Jack. She opened the front door with her key, and was just going
to call out to her mother and Jack, when something in the unusual
stillness of the place caused her to pause suddenly.

"Perhaps mother's lying down," she said to herself, "and Jack doesn't
like to make any noise for fear of disturbing her. I'll go in softly and
see."

She stole on tiptoe to the sitting room door, and peeped in. Her mother
was not there, but Jack was lying on the sofa as usual. At sight of her
the little fellow started up and held out his arms. One glance at his
face was enough to convince Betty that something had happened.

"What is it, Jack?" she whispered, running to his side, and beginning to
tremble with a strange new sensation, but whether of joy or fear she did
not know. "What makes you look so--so queer? Where's mother?"

"Mother's in her room," said Jack; "she shut the door; she's gone to
lie down, I guess." His voice trembled, and he hid his face on Betty's
shoulder.

"But something has happened, I know it has," persisted Betty, trembling
more than ever. "Oh, Jack, what is it?"

"Betty," said Jack softly, "do you remember what you said the other day,
about--about the thing that would make you happier than anything else,
even than mother's getting well?"

"You mean the thing about you--oh, Jack, you mean about your being made
to walk?"

Jack nodded.

"Tell me quick," gasped Betty breathlessly, the circus and everything
else forgotten in the excitement of this wonderful news.

"Well, Doctor Bell came this afternoon right after lunch, and there was
another doctor with him. He was rather old, and not so nice as Dr. Bell,
but I think he wanted to be very kind. First they went in the dining
room, and talked to mother for a little while, and I think I heard
mother crying. Then they came in here, and looked at me. What they did
hurt a good deal, but I tried not to mind, because Dr. Bell called me a
brave soldier boy. Then they went back to the dining room, and talked
some more to mother, and the new doctor went away. After that mother
and Dr. Bell came back here. Mother was crying a good deal, but she
looked awfully glad too, and they told me what it all meant. Next week
I'm to go to a hospital, and have an operation. It won't hurt, Dr. Bell
says, because they'll give me something to make me go to sleep, and when
I get better, they think--they're not quite sure--but they really do
think, that I shall be able to walk."



CHAPTER IX

SUSPENSE


It was very quiet in the Randalls' apartment one warm spring afternoon.
For nearly two hours the only sounds to break the utter stillness had
been the ticking of the clock and an occasional movement from the
kitchen, where Mrs. Flynn tiptoed softly about, preparing dinner. Mrs.
Randall sat in the armchair by the open window. Her face was white and
set, and sometimes her lips moved, but no sound came from them. Betty
felt sure that her mother was saying her prayers. It seemed to Betty as
though a month must have passed since the morning. She had tried to
read, to sew, to do anything to pass the terrible hours of suspense, but
it was of no use, and now she sat on a stool at her mother's feet
resting her head against Mrs. Randall's knee. She was trying very hard
to be brave, but she knew that if she dared glance even for a moment at
Jack's empty sofa, she would no longer be able to choke down the rising
sobs, or keep back the tears which seemed so near the surface.

Early that morning Jack had been taken away to the hospital, and even as
they sat there in silence, Betty and her mother knew the work was being
done which was to decide the fate of the little boy for life.

The doctors had decided that it would be best to perform the operation
before hot weather set in, and besides, as Dr. Bell wisely explained to
Mrs. Randall, it would never do to keep the child in suspense any longer
than necessary, now that he knew what was impending. Mrs. Randall was
not yet strong enough to leave the house, but Dr. Bell had come himself
for Jack, and Mrs. Hamilton had gone with them to the hospital,
promising to remain until the operation was over. Jack had been very
brave and cheerful, and the excitement had helped every one up to the
last moment. Dr. Bell had told funny stories to make them all laugh, and
Mrs. Hamilton had talked about the nice things they would bring Jack
when they came to the hospital to see him. No one had cried, only, just
as the last good-byes were being said, Jack had suddenly thrown his arms
round his mother's neck and clung to her, and Mrs. Randall had clasped
him close to her heart, and held him there in a silence that was far
more expressive than any words. And now it was afternoon, and Betty and
her mother were waiting, in silent, breathless suspense, for the news
that they both knew must come before long. Mrs. Hamilton had promised to
let them know the moment the operation was over.

The door creaked softly and Mrs. Flynn came in with a cup of tea in her
hand.

"Take a drop of tea, dearie, do," she whispered soothingly, bending over
Mrs. Randall's chair; "it'll put heart into ye."

Mrs. Randall shook her head impatiently.

"Not now, Mrs. Flynn; I couldn't touch anything now, it would choke me.
Perhaps by and by----"

Mrs. Flynn turned away with a sigh, and went back to the kitchen,
beckoning to Betty to follow her.

"Can't you do nothin' to cheer her up a bit, darlin'," she whispered,
when Betty joined her in the kitchen. "Not a mouthful of anything has
she touched this whole blessed day, and it's awful to see her sittin'
lookin' like that, her that's just off a sick bed too."

"She's thinking about Jack," said Betty sadly; "she can't eat till she
knows; I couldn't eat either, Mrs. Flynn."

Mrs. Flynn sighed again, and set down the teacup.

"Well, you'll hear pretty soon now, I guess," she said, with an air of
resignation, "and I've got some nice strong chicken soup on the stove. A
cup of that'll do yez both good by and by."

"Oh, Mrs. Flynn," whispered Betty, drawing close to the kind-hearted
Irish-woman, "I'm so frightened. I don't know why, but I am. You don't
think, do you, that anything dreadful is going to happen?"

"Not a bit of it, darlin'," said Mrs. Flynn reassuringly. "Jack'll be
all right, the little angel, and we'll have him back, and runnin' about
like any one else in just no time at all. Why, I shouldn't wonder if
we'd see him ridin' one of them bicycles on Fifth Avenue next month."

"But people don't always get over operations, you know, Mrs. Flynn,"
said Betty, with a choke in her voice.

"Nonsense," retorted Mrs. Flynn, with an indignant toss of her head.
"Sure, didn't me brother-in-law's first cousin have the two legs of him
took off wid a trolley-car on Lexington Avenue, and ain't he walkin'
around now 'most as good as ever on two cork stumps, as they give him
at the hospital? There ain't nothin' them doctors can't do, barrin'
raisin' the dead."

A ring at the door bell at this moment put an end to the Irish-woman's
hopeful predictions. Betty uttered a little half-frightened cry, and
Mrs. Flynn flew to open the door. Mrs. Randall sprang from her chair,
and was in the hall before Mrs. Flynn had left the kitchen. Next moment,
however, there was a little sigh of disappointment from every one; the
visitor was only Winifred.

"I thought I'd come to see you for a little while," she explained to
Betty, who was trying to smile, and not show the disappointment she
felt. "It's lonely downstairs without mother, and I've done all my
lessons. I've brought Miss Mollie; I thought you might like to have
her."

"I am very glad to have her," said Betty, taking the doll in her arms.
She was not very fond of dolls, but she wanted to show Winifred that she
appreciated her kindness. "Let's go into my room, where we can talk and
not disturb mother."

They were moving away, but Mrs. Randall called them back.

"Stay here, children," she said, and her voice sounded sharp from
anxiety. "I like to hear you talk, and you don't disturb me."

So the two little girls went into the parlor, and sat down side by side
on Jack's sofa, Betty still holding Miss Mollie in her arms. They were
both very silent at first, and Winifred kept casting sympathetic glances
towards Mrs. Randall, who had now left her seat, and was standing with
her back to them, looking out of the window. But after a little while
they began to talk in whispers.

"I guess mother will be back pretty soon now," said Winifred, giving
Betty's cold little hand an encouraging squeeze. "She'll be sure to come
and tell you about Jack the very first thing."

Betty said nothing, and after a little pause Winifred went on.

"Won't it be lovely when Jack gets well? Just think, he may be a soldier
after all when he grows up. You know Dr. Bell always calls him a little
soldier boy."

"He'd like to be one," said Betty, brightening at the thought; "our
grandfather was a general, you know."

"Yes, and even if he never goes to war, I think he is much braver now
than a great many real soldiers are. Father says there are not many
little boys only nine years old who would be willing to go away and
stay all by themselves in a big, strange hospital."

"Don't let's talk about that," said Betty, beginning to cry. "I can't
bear to think of his being all by himself."

"Oh, but he won't be, not really. Lulu has been to that hospital to see
the children and take them things, and she says the nurses are very
kind. One of them took care of Lulu's aunt when she broke her knee last
year, and they all liked her very much. And then, you know, Dr. Bell
goes there every day, and we shall go too, just as soon as Jack is well
enough to see us. Oh, Betty, dear, I'm sure God is going to let Jack get
well and be just like other people. I've been saying little prayers to
Him all day about it."

"So have I," said Betty, who was beginning to find Winifred's society
very cheering. "He'll be so happy if he can walk, and mother says Dr.
Bell wants us all to go to the country as soon as Jack is strong
enough."

Winifred heaved a little sigh.

"I think almost every one is going to the country pretty soon," she
said. "School closes the end of next week, and all the girls are going
away the first part of June. I shall miss them all, especially Lulu."

"Dr. Bell said they were going to the seashore the first of June."

"Yes, they're going to Navesink; Lulu says it's a lovely place. There's
the ocean, you know, and a river, where they can fish and catch crabs.
I've never seen the ocean; Aunt Estelle doesn't like sea air, so we
always went to the mountains."

"Wouldn't you like to go to Navesink too?" Betty asked.

"I should just love it. Lulu wants me to come and visit her, but of
course I can't leave mother."

"New York isn't so bad in summer," said Betty cheerfully. "We were here
last year. It's nice in the park and on the Riverside, but of course the
real country must be much nicer."

"I think any place is nice where mother is," said Winifred, with simple
conviction. "Oh, Betty, there's the door bell, and it's mother's ring."

Betty sprang to her feet, and darted out into the hall. Mrs. Randall
took a few quick steps towards the door, but then her strength failed
her, and, with a low cry, she sank on her knees on the floor beside
Jack's sofa, trembling from head to foot, and covering her face with her
hands.

Mrs. Hamilton came straight into the room. She passed the two little
girls without a word, but there was a look on her sweet face that
somehow kept them both silent, eager as they were for news. For one
second she paused beside the sofa, and then dropping on her own knees,
took the trembling, swaying figure right into her kind arms.

"Oh, my dear, my dear," she sobbed, the happy tears streaming down her
cheeks, "I don't know how to tell you, but it is all as we wished. The
operation is over; it was a great success, the doctors say,
and--and--don't tremble so, dear--there is nothing to grieve over, but,
oh, so much to make you glad. I have just come from the hospital, and
Dr. Bell has sent you this message. 'Tell Mrs. Randall,' he said, and
there were tears in his eyes, 'tell Mrs. Randall that everything is
going on splendidly,' and--and--oh, think of it, my dear,--'that her
little boy will walk.'"



CHAPTER X

A LETTER AND A SURPRISE


"Here's a letter for you, Winnie," said Mr. Hamilton, coming into the
dining room, just as his wife and little daughter were sitting down to
breakfast one warm morning in the beginning of July.

"It's from Lulu," exclaimed Winifred joyfully, glancing at the
handwriting. "Oh, I'm so glad! I haven't had a letter from her since she
went away."

"This is a good fat one, at any rate," said Mr. Hamilton, smiling, and
Mrs. Hamilton added:

"Read it to us, dear."

So Winifred opened her letter and began:

"Navesink, N.J., July 6th.

"Dearest Winifred:

"I meant to write to you ever so long ago, but I have been so busy that
I couldn't find the time. This is a lovely place, and we all like it
very much. The ocean is right in front of the house, and in the big
storm last week the waves came up all over the lawn. We go in bathing
every day that the ocean is smooth enough, all but Aunt Daisy. She is
afraid of the big waves, but papa says she wouldn't be if she would only
make up her mind to go in once. On the other side of the house is the
Shrewsbury River, and that is very nice too. All the Rossiters came up
to spend the day last Saturday, and papa took us crabbing. I caught
three, and we had them for luncheon. There is an old boat fastened to
our dock. It hasn't any oars, or rudder, or anything, but it's splendid
to play shipwreck in.

"I see the Randalls almost every day. The house where they are boarding
is only a little way from our cottage. Jack looks ever so much better
than when he came, and papa says the sea air is making him stronger
every day. He can stand all by himself now, and walk a little with his
crutches. Papa thinks by the autumn he will be able to walk as well as
anybody. Mamma has given him a go-cart, and Betty and I push him about
in it. We all go down to the beach, and when we have made a nice seat in
the sand for Jack, he gets out of the go-cart and sits there. I like
Betty and Jack ever so much, and mamma likes to have me play with them.

"Mrs. Randall has a good many pupils already, and mamma thinks she will
have more by and by, when all the summer people get here. Aunt Daisy is
taking music lessons from her, and says she is the best teacher she ever
had. She plays beautifully too. Mamma had her come over and play for
some people the other day, and they all enjoyed it very much.

"I am having a lovely time, but I do miss you very much. Can't you
really come and make me a visit? Mamma and Aunt Daisy would love to have
you, and there are two beds in my room. I should be so very, very happy
if you would only come.

"My hand is getting tired, so I shall have to stop.

"Betty and Jack send their love, and say they would love it if you would
come. Please answer this letter right away, and believe me, with lots of
love and kisses,

    "Your true friend,
    "Louise M. Bell."

"That's a lovely letter," said Winifred in a tone of profound
admiration. "Lulu writes beautifully, don't you think so, mother?"

"She certainly expresses herself very well," said Mrs. Hamilton,
smiling.

"She writes stories too," Winifred went on, putting her letter carefully
back into the envelope; "she intends to be an authoress when she grows
up. She did think once that she would be a missionary, but now she has
decided that she would rather be an authoress like her aunt."

"Wouldn't you like to go to Navesink and make Lulu a visit?" Mr.
Hamilton asked.

Winifred looked a little wistful, but she shook her head decidedly.

"Not without mother. If mother could go too, I should love it better
than anything else in the world."

Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton exchanged glances, but they were both silent, and
nothing more was said on the subject.

As soon as they rose from the breakfast table, Winifred went to put her
letter away in the little box where she kept all her treasures, but
before doing so she sat down on the edge of her bed, and read it all
over again from beginning to end. When she had finished, her face looked
even more wistful than before.

"I should like to go, oh, I should like it very much," she said, with a
long sigh, "but I couldn't go anywhere without mother. I suppose when
people have only had mothers a little while like me, they feel
differently about leaving them from the people who have had them all the
time."

The fact was, Winifred was feeling a little bit lonely. It was very warm
in the city, and now that school was over, and all her friends had left
town, she found time hang somewhat heavy on her hands. The children were
a great comfort, of course, and her mother was everything to her, but
she missed the work and the companionship of school, and there were
times on those hot summer days when even story books seemed to have lost
their charms.

She and Betty had become great friends during the time when Jack was in
the hospital, and when Dr. Bell had decided that the seashore was the
place for Jack, and the Randalls had given up their flat, and gone for
the summer to board at Navesink--the kind doctor having procured
accommodation for them in a house not far from his own--Winifred,
although rejoicing heartily in her friends' good fortune, could not help
feeling very forlorn without them. It was two weeks now since the
Randalls had gone away, and Lulu's letter was the first news Winifred
had received from any of her friends.

On this particular morning things were unusually dull. It was very hot,
for one thing, and then her mother and Lizzie were both very busy in
the kitchen, putting up strawberry preserves. Lulu's letter had
suggested so many pleasant possibilities too. Certainly sea bathing and
playing shipwreck in a real boat sounded much more attractive than
reading story books in a hot little bedroom on the second floor of a New
York apartment house. She did her duty faithfully by the children;
dressed them all; set Lord Fauntleroy, Rose-Florence, and Lily-Bell at
their lessons, arranged Miss Mollie's hair in the latest fashion, and
gave Violet-May a dose of castor oil. Then when there was really nothing
more to be done for her family, and she had learned from her mother that
her services were not desired in the kitchen, she took up "Denise and
Ned Toodles," and settling herself in the coolest spot she could find,
tried to forget other things in the interest of a new story.

"Well, mousie, here you are; deep in a story book as usual."

At the sound of the familiar voice, Winifred dropped her book, and
sprang up with an exclamation of pleasure.

"Oh, Aunt Estelle, I am glad to see you!" she cried joyfully, running to
greet the tall, bright-faced young lady who was standing in the
doorway. "How did you get in? I never heard the bell."

"I didn't ring, the door was open," said her aunt, laughing and kissing
her. "I've been here for some time, talking to your mother in the
kitchen, and now I've come to have a little talk with you."

"Won't you sit down?" said Winifred, hospitably drawing forward the
comfortable rocker in which she had been sitting. "You look awfully
warm. You sit here, and I'll fan you; that'll be nice."

"What have you been reading?" Mrs. Meredith asked, as her little niece
perched herself on the arm of her chair, and began swaying a large
palm-leaf fan back and forth.

"'Denise and Ned Toodles.' It's a very nice story. Mother got it out of
the library for me yesterday. It's all about a little girl who lived in
the country and had a pony."

"Do you think you would like to live in the country?" her aunt asked,
smiling.

"Yes, I think so; I should like it in the summer, at any rate. Oh, Aunt
Estelle, I had such a lovely letter from Lulu this morning. Would you
like to see it?"

"Yes, very much, but not just now, for I am in a hurry. I am going
downtown to do some errands, and then I am coming back here, and,
Winnie, I want you to be ready to go home with me to spend the night."

"To spend the night?" Winifred repeated, looking very much surprised.

"Yes; Uncle Will was grumbling this morning, because he says he never
sees anything of you nowadays. We are going to the country on Saturday,
you know, and this will be our last chance of having you with us for
ever so long."

"I'd like to go if mother says so," said Winifred, rather pleased at the
prospect of this little change.

"Oh, that's all right; everything is arranged, and here comes your
mother to speak for herself."

Winifred turned eagerly to Mrs. Hamilton, who had just entered the room.

"Mother, Aunt Estelle wants me to go home with her to spend the night.
May I go?"

"Yes, dear," said her mother, smiling, "I should like to have you go. I
expect to be very busy this afternoon, and Aunt Estelle says Uncle Will
wants to see you very much."

"Norah is cleaning silver to-day," Mrs. Meredith said, as she rose to
go. "You should have seen her face when I told her I was coming for
you."

Winifred looked flattered.

"I always helped Norah clean silver," she said, "and sometimes I used to
read to her. I'll take 'Denise and Ned Toodles' and read this
afternoon."

The matter having been thus arranged, Mrs. Meredith hurried away to do
her errands, promising to return for Winifred in a couple of hours.

"You're sure you won't miss me very much, mother," Winifred said
anxiously, as she was bidding her mother good-bye. "It's only for one
night, you know, and that is quite different from going away for a real
visit."

"Of course it is," said Mrs. Hamilton, laughing. "Now run along with
Aunt Estelle, sweetheart, and have a good time. I will come for you
early to-morrow morning."

"Mother does seem very busy to-day," remarked Winifred, rather
wonderingly, as she walked along by her aunt's side. "I wonder what
she's going to do this afternoon. It can't be the preserves, because
they're 'most done."

Mrs. Meredith made no answer, and Winifred soon forgot her curiosity in
the interest of other subjects. But she would have wondered a good deal
more if she could have heard the words her mother was at that moment
saying to Lizzie, for no sooner had the door closed behind Winifred and
her aunt than Mrs. Hamilton hurried back to the kitchen.

"We can begin right away now, Lizzie," she said, laughing; "the darling
is safely out of the way for the rest of the day, and we shall have to
work like beavers to accomplish all we have to do. In the first place, I
want you to come with me to the storeroom, and help me to get out that
big trunk."

Winifred had a very pleasant afternoon. She helped Norah with the
silver, and read aloud to her, and then there were Hannah, the German
cook, and Josephine, the French maid, to be talked to, and they both
seemed much pleased to see her. In the evening Uncle Will and Aunt
Estelle made much of her, and when bedtime came, although she missed her
mother's good-night kiss, still it seemed so natural to be going to bed
in the old familiar nursery, where she had spent so many nights, that
she could almost fancy the past happy months were all a dream, and that
her mother had never come back from California at all.

"Only no dream could possibly be so lovely as it really is," she said to
herself, settling herself comfortably on her pillow when Aunt Estelle
had put out the light and gone away. "Oh, I am glad it isn't a dream,
but something really true. I was a wicked girl to wish I could go to the
country and do something different, when I've got such lots and lots of
things to be happy about."

"This is the very perfection of a summer's day," Mr. Meredith remarked
at the breakfast table next morning. "I wish I were not obliged to spend
it cooped up in my office. A trip to the seaside now would be very much
to my liking."

"We're going to take excursions sometimes this summer," said Winifred
brightly. "Father says perhaps we may go down to Manhattan Beach for a
Sunday. Did you ever go to Manhattan Beach, Uncle Will?"

"Yes, several times. I have been to Navesink too. Isn't that where your
friends, the Bells, are spending the summer?"

"Yes; Lulu says it's a beautiful place. She asked me to come for a
visit, but I can't leave mother."

"Too bad, isn't it?" observed Mr. Meredith, with his eyes on his plate.
"Halloo, there's the door bell; I wonder who can be coming to see us so
early in the morning."

"Why, it's father and mother," exclaimed Winifred joyfully, springing
down from her chair, and darting out into the hall as Norah opened the
front door. "Oh, mother, dear, you are early. We've only just finished
breakfast."

"It is such a lovely morning," said Mrs. Hamilton, returning her little
daughter's rapturous embrace, "that your father and I thought we would
take a trip down the bay."

"Oh, how nice," cried Winifred, clapping her hands. "And isn't it funny?
Uncle Will and I have just been talking about trips. Are you sure you
can really get away for a whole day, father?"

"I think I can manage it," said Mr. Hamilton, laughing. "Now run and get
ready, little one, for our boat leaves at ten, and it's after nine
already."

Winifred flew upstairs for her belongings, told the good news to
Josephine, and was back again in less than five minutes. She found her
father and mother in the dining room with Uncle Will and Aunt Estelle.
They had evidently been talking about something which amused them, for
every one was smiling, but as soon as Winifred came in Mr. and Mrs.
Hamilton rose to go.

"Good-bye, Winnie darling," said Mrs. Meredith, kissing her little niece
affectionately, "it has been like a bit of old times having you back
with us. You won't forget to write, Mollie?" she added in a lower tone
to Mrs. Hamilton, as the two ladies went out into the hall together.

"Good-bye, mousie, and don't forget us," said Uncle Will, as Winifred
lifted her face for his good-bye kiss. "I don't know how we shall manage
to get on without you all summer."

"Why, mother," said Winifred, looking puzzled, as they hurried away
towards the elevated railroad station, "Uncle Will and Aunt Estelle said
good-bye just as if they weren't going to see us again, and they're not
going to the country till Saturday."

"Perhaps they were afraid something might prevent our meeting again
before they leave," said Mrs. Hamilton, rather evasively.

That sail down the bay was a new and very delightful experience to
Winifred. She had never traveled much, and every new object of interest
was a delight to her. The big, crowded steamboat, the beautiful bay, the
Statue of Liberty, and the other interesting sights made the little girl
feel as if she could not take in so many new wonders all at once, and
she asked innumerable questions about everything, all of which her
father and mother answered readily.

[Illustration: That sail down the bay was a new and delightful
experience.--_Page 136._]

"What are we going to do when we get to the place where the boat stops?"
she inquired anxiously, as they passed the Floating Hospital. "Must we
go right back to New York again?"

"Well, I think we will go a little way in a train first," said Mr.
Hamilton, trying to look grave, although his eyes twinkled. "It would be
rather a pity to go so far without seeing the ocean, don't you think
so?"

"Oh, are we really going to see the ocean?" cried Winifred joyfully. "I
think this is one of the nicest things that ever happened."

At the Atlantic Highlands they left the boat, and got into a train,
which they found waiting at the pier. There were several trains, in
fact, and a great many people seemed to be getting into them. Winifred
wondered where they were all going, and if any of the other children she
saw were having half as good a time as she was.

"Look, Winnie, there is the ocean," her mother said eagerly, as the
train rushed across a long bridge, and a whiff of sea air blew in their
faces.

"Where, where?" gasped Winifred, stretching her neck out of the car
window. "Oh, I see. Why, how big it is. I never saw water like that
before. Do you suppose it looks like this at Navesink?"

"I should not be at all surprised if it looked very much like it," said
Mrs. Hamilton, laughing.

At that moment the train began to slacken speed.

"Navesink, Navesink," shouted the brakeman, putting his head in at the
car door.

"Isn't it the very loveliest surprise you ever had?" demanded Lulu Bell,
dancing up and down on the platform, and hugging Winifred tight. "I
never knew a single thing about it till last night, but mamma has known
for ever so long, and papa engaged the rooms at the hotel for you. Why,
Winifred, don't look as if you were just waking up. It's the nicest
thing in the world. You're all going to stay at the hotel for a month,
and your father's going to town every day the same as papa does. They
wanted it to be a surprise for you. See, here's Betty, and Jack's right
over there in the go-cart. We all came down to the station to meet you,
and it seemed as if the train would never come, we were so excited."

"Oh," gasped Winifred, finding her voice at last, "it's the very most
beautiful thing that could possibly have happened. Are you quite sure
it's all true, and not a dream?"



CHAPTER XI

AT NAVESINK


"I think the sea is the most beautiful thing in the world," said Jack,
laying down his drawing pencil, and settling himself comfortably in the
warm sand. "I could just sit and look at it all day long."

"Is your sketch finished?" inquired Winifred, looking up from the sand
fort she was building.

"Yes, do you want to see it?" And Jack held out a sheet of foolscap for
his friend's inspection. Jack was a very different-looking boy from the
pale little cripple of two months before. There was a light in his eyes
and a color in his cheeks that no one had ever seen there since the day
of his babyhood. The healthy outdoor life in the bracing sea air was
doing wonders for him. Winifred examined the sketch admiringly.

"It's perfectly lovely," she announced. "That fishing boat with the man
in it looks as natural as can be. I think you will be a splendid artist
when you grow up, Jack."

Jack flushed with pleasure at this frank praise.

"I hope I shall," he said, "I want to be. You know my father was an
artist."

"You will be an artist and Lulu will be an authoress," said Winifred
reflectively. "I wish Betty and I could both be something nice too."

"I'm afraid I shall never be anything in particular, unless it's a
housekeeper," remarked Betty from her seat on the bathing house steps.
"I like to sweep and dust and cook better than anything else."

"You'll be a greater sewer, I think," said Winifred, with an admiring
glance at the stocking her friend was darning. "Mother says she never
saw a little girl who could sew as well as you can."

"Perhaps I shall be a trained nurse. I think I should like being a
comfort to sick people. I heard Lulu's aunt say the nurse she had when
she broke her knee was a great comfort to her."

"Miss Clark was a great comfort to us when mother was ill," said Betty;
"mother had a letter from her yesterday. What's the matter, Jack--are
mosquitoes biting?"

"No," said Jack, frowning, "it isn't the mosquitoes, it's only I don't
like to have you talk about being things when you grow up."

"Why not?" inquired Betty in astonishment.

"Because if I'm an artist I can take care of you and mother. I want you
just to be ladies."

"Well, mother's a lady, isn't she? and she works; and Lulu's aunt writes
books."

Jack looked puzzled.

"I don't know quite how to say it," he said slowly, "but I want you to
be the kind of ladies that mother was when she lived in England; the
kind that live in castles, and have parks and things. They never work,
do they?"

Both little girls laughed, and Betty said practically:

"I guess even queens work sometimes, but I know what you mean, Jack,
only I think I'd like to be a housekeeper better."

"Here comes Lulu," exclaimed Winifred, rising to meet her friend, who
came hurrying along the sand from the direction of her own home. "I've
brought some ginger-snaps," announced Lulu, when she had greeted the
others, and seated herself beside Betty on the bathing house steps. "I
thought we might be hungry before luncheon time. I could have come
before, but I was very busy writing my story. Is yours done yet,
Winifred?"

"No," said Winifred, blushing; "I don't think I can write stories very
well. When I get the ink and paper, and everything ready, I never can
think of anything to say."

"Oh, but you must go on trying," urged Lulu. "It's the easiest thing in
the world when you once get started. Does Betty know about what we're
doing?"

"No," said Betty, looking interested, "tell me about it."

"Why, you see," Lulu explained, "Aunt Daisy is writing a book, and in it
two little girls have to write compositions, and she thought it would be
so nice to have original ones written by real little girls. So she asked
Winifred and me to write some for her, and if she likes them well
enough, she will put them in her book, and they will be published. Won't
that be fun?"

Betty and Jack were both much impressed, and Winifred, who did not find
authorship come at all easy, was struck with a bright idea.

"I don't suppose your aunt cares who writes the stories, so long as she
gets them, does she, Lulu?"

"Why, no, I don't suppose so," Lulu admitted, "but you really must try,
Winnie. Think how grand it will be to have something published."

"I was only thinking that perhaps Betty or Jack could do it better,"
said Winifred, with an appealing glance at her two little friends, both
of whom, however, declined to enter the compact, declaring that they
couldn't write a story to save their lives.

"I can't see why you all find it so hard," said Lulu a little
patronizingly; "it seems very easy to me. I was only five when I made up
my first story, and Aunt Daisy wrote it down on her typewriter. It
wasn't very long, only 'Two little girls went to see two little boys.
They played hide and seek and blindman's buff. Then they had ice cream,
and went home again.' Aunt Daisy said it was a beginning, and I've been
writing stories ever since. Oh, by the way, Aunt Daisy says if you'll
come over this afternoon she'll tell us all stories on the piazza."

The children looked pleased, and accepted the invitation with alacrity,
for Lulu's blind aunt was a famous story-teller and a great favorite
with them all.

"Papa and mamma have gone to the city for the day," said Lulu, "and Aunt
Daisy's very busy this morning, writing on her story, but she's promised
to devote the whole afternoon to us."

The conversation drifted to other things, and the next hour passed very
pleasantly in building sand forts, making mud pies, and doing other
delightful things only possible at the sea shore. The ocean was very
calm, and the little girls took off their shoes and stockings, and let
the little waves splash over their feet. Jack lay on the sand, watching
them and making sketches by turns. Some of the people from the hotels
and cottages came down to the beach to bathe, and almost every one had a
pleasant word for the little boy.

At last the ginger-snaps were produced, and they all sat down to enjoy
them before going home.

"I wonder what makes people so dreadfully hungry at the sea shore,"
remarked Jack, helping himself to his third ginger-snap. "At home I
never used to eat very much."

"It's because you're so much better than you used to be," said Betty,
regarding her brother with happy, loving eyes. "What's the matter, Lulu?
you've dropped your cake."

"My goodness," exclaimed Lulu, clasping her hands in dismay. "I declare
I forgot all about telling you the most important thing. A lord is
coming to stay with us."

"A what?" inquired Betty and Winifred both together.

"A lord," repeated Lulu impressively, "a real live English lord. He's
coming on his yacht. Papa got a letter from him yesterday, and he's on
his way now."

"Where is he coming from?" Winifred asked.

"I don't know, but he's traveling in his yacht. He has a castle in
England, and he's awfully rich. Mamma thinks he will bring a valet with
him."

"How did your family happen to know him?" inquired Betty, much
interested.

"He and papa went to college together in England. He wasn't a lord then,
though; he only got to be one about a year ago, papa says, because his
uncle and his cousin, who were lords, both died, and he inherited the
title."

"Just like Little Lord Fauntleroy," said Winifred; "I wonder if he
minded it the way Fauntleroy did at first."

"Of course not," said Lulu, with superior wisdom. "Fauntleroy was only a
silly little boy. I guess every man would like to be a lord if he had
the chance. He and papa were great friends at college, and papa says he
used to be very jolly and full of fun. I think he must really be rather
nice, for when I asked papa whether I should say 'my lord' or 'your
lordship' when I spoke to him, he only laughed, and said he didn't
believe it would make much difference. I always thought a lord would be
very angry if people didn't say 'my lord' or 'your lordship' whenever
they spoke to him."

"Perhaps it's because he's such a new one that he isn't so very
particular," Winifred suggested. "What made him come over to this
country?"

"I don't know; I suppose because he wants to see it. He cruises about in
his yacht, and mamma doesn't think he will stay very long with us,
though she hopes he will on account of papa's being so fond of him. I
hope he won't make a very long visit, for I suppose it can't help being
rather solemn having a lord in the house."

"Lords in books are just like other people," Betty remarked practically.
"Perhaps you'll like him ever so much, and be sorry when he goes away."

"I hope I shall see him," observed Jack, with unusual animation.

"What for?" inquired Betty, with some scorn. "I don't believe he looks a
bit different from any one else."

"Well, we're English, you know," Jack explained, "and I should like to
see a real English nobleman. It would be the next best thing to seeing
the queen."

"I don't think I should be so very anxious to see the queen," declared
democratic Betty. "I don't believe she's any different looking from
other old ladies."

"Mother says we're subjects of the queen," Jack maintained, "and ought
to love her, and you know if you have to love a person you would
naturally like to see her. I don't know whether we have to love lords or
not, but I should like to see one any way."

"There's mother on the bluff," said Winifred. "She's beckoning to us; I
guess it must be time to go in."

The children scrambled hastily to their feet, Jack was helped into the
go-cart, and the little party started in a homeward direction.

"Oh, mother, dear, we've had a lovely time this morning," exclaimed
Winifred enthusiastically, as they joined Mrs. Hamilton on the bluff,
"and Lulu has asked us all over to her house this afternoon. Her aunt is
going to tell us stories."

"That will be very nice," said Mrs. Hamilton, smiling. "One of the
ladies at the hotel has asked me to drive with her this afternoon, and I
was rather doubtful about leaving you at home alone, but if Miss Warren
wants you it will be all right."

"Mamma has gone to New York," Lulu explained, "but Aunt Daisy wants them
all. I must run home now, for it's nearly one. Be sure you all come by
half-past three. I have to do my lessons right after lunch, but I shall
be all through by then."

"Jack and I have to do some lessons too," said Betty, "but we'll be at
your house by half-past three. We'll stop for you, Winifred, as we pass
the hotel."

Mrs. Randall was standing on the piazza of the boarding-house as Betty
and Jack approached, and her tired face brightened wonderfully at sight
of the two children. Betty was pushing the go-cart, and Jack waved his
hand joyfully to his mother. Both little faces were radiant.

"Aren't you back earlier than usual, mother?" Betty asked, as they went
into the house together, Jack moving slowly and cautiously on his
crutches, but walking as neither his mother or Betty had ever expected
to see him walk.

"Yes, rather earlier. Miss Leroy was going to a luncheon, and didn't
take her full time. I shall be busy all the afternoon until six o'clock,
though, for I begin with two new pupils to-day."

"Lulu Bell has asked us over to her house," said Betty; "her aunt is
going to tell us stories. You don't mind our going, do you?"

"Oh, no, indeed, only don't tire poor Miss Warren out telling you
stories, and if you get home before six, you may take Jack down on the
beach for a little while. Dr. Bell wants him to be in the open air as
much as possible."

"Mother," said Jack suddenly, as his mother was making him comfortable
in the big wicker armchair by the window of their pleasant room on the
ground floor, "did you ever see a lord when you were in England?"

"I think I have seen several in my life," said Mrs. Randall, smiling;
"why do you want to know?"

"Because one is coming to stay at Lulu Bell's house, and I want to see
him very much."

"Lords don't look any different from other people, do they, mother?"
questioned Betty.

"Not in the least. I have an uncle who is a lord."

Mrs. Randall spoke rather absently, as though she were thinking of
something else, but the astonished exclamations from both children
quickly recalled her thoughts.

"You haven't really, have you, mother?" gasped Jack. Betty's eyes grew
big and round with astonishment.

"Yes, my father's older brother was a lord, or is one if he is still
alive. We never knew him very well, for his place was in a different
county, and he and your grandfather were not good friends. I don't want
you to mention this to any one, though," she added, flushing; "it would
sound like bragging, and you know it is never right to do that."

"I always knew we had ancestors," said Betty thoughtfully, "but I never
supposed any of them were lords. Is that the reason why you hate to
accept things from people, mother?"

"I scarcely think that has much to do with it," Mrs. Randall said,
laughing in spite of herself.

"Is your lord uncle in England now, mother?" Jack asked.

"I suppose so if he is still alive. He must be a very old man now, for
he was several years older than your grandfather."

"And if he is dead, who is the lord now?"

"The title would naturally descend to his only son, my cousin. I never
saw him, but I remember hearing that he was a rather promising boy.
There is the bell for luncheon. Remember, children, you are not to
mention this subject to any one, not even to Winifred or Lulu. I shall
be displeased with you if you do."

Both children promised readily, but all through luncheon they were
unusually silent, and when they had gone back to their room, and Mrs.
Randall had started out on her afternoon rounds, Jack remarked suddenly,
as he was turning over the pages in his English history:

"Now, Betty, you know the kind of lady I want you to be. I don't believe
lords' relations ever work; not the lady relations, I mean, of course
the men do."

"I don't see any use in being related to people if we don't even know
them," said Betty, a little discontentedly. "Anyhow, I don't want to
think about it, because if I do I shall forget and tell people, and then
mother will be displeased. I don't care anything about lords, but if we
could find Uncle Jack, that's what I should like."

"Don't you think mother might write to him some time?" Jack inquired
wistfully.

"I know she won't, not unless she should be ill again, and I don't want
that to happen. Now let's hurry and do our lessons, or we sha'n't be
through in time to go to Lulu's house with Winifred."



CHAPTER XII

DRIFTING


Lulu was standing on the piazza, as the three other children approached
the Bells' cottage, Winifred pushing the go-cart this time, and Betty
holding a parasol over Jack's head. Instead of calling out a cheerful
greeting as usual, however, she ran hastily and silently down the steps,
and met them halfway across the lawn.

"We mustn't make any more noise than we can help," she said softly.
"Poor Aunt Daisy has a dreadful headache. It came on all of a sudden,
and she's gone to lie down. She says it may go away by and by if she can
get a nap. Her room is right over the piazza, so we mustn't disturb
her."

The children all expressed their sympathy and regret.

"Shall we go down on the beach and play?" Betty suggested.

Lulu looked doubtful.

"It's pretty hot down there," she objected, "and besides, we were there
all the morning. We might go for a drive, only Thomas is so fussy, he
never will harness the horses unless somebody grown up tells him to.
Jane's ironing, so she can't take us anywhere. I'll tell you what we
might do though"--with a sudden inspiration--"we might go down to the
river and play shipwreck. That old boat that's fastened to the dock is
just great to play shipwreck in. It's quite easy to get into it, even
Jack could manage it all right, and I'd bring one of the cushions off
the piazza to make him comfortable."

"Are you sure it's quite safe?" inquired cautious Betty, looking
doubtful.

"Oh, yes, it's all right. We were in it the day the Rossiters were here,
and papa saw us. It's fastened to the dock by a chain. Nothing could
possibly happen. Come along; it's lovely and cool down there by the
river, and if we stay here we shall be sure to forget and talk loud, and
that will disturb Aunt Daisy."

"Oughtn't we ask some one first?" Winifred suggested.

"There isn't any one to ask. Papa and mamma are in New York, and Aunt
Daisy's asleep. Jane wouldn't know, and she always makes a fuss about
things she doesn't understand. If it hadn't been all right, papa would
have said so when the Rossiters were here."

This seemed a practical argument, and although Betty still felt a little
uncomfortable about the wisdom of the proceeding, she made no further
objections, and five minutes later the little party were standing on the
dock. It was, as Lulu had said, very easy to step into the old rowboat,
which, indeed, looked safe enough even to Betty, being fastened to the
dock by a long chain. With a little help from the girls, Jack succeeded
in crawling over the side, and was made comfortable in the stern, while
the others settled themselves on the benches.

"Isn't it perfectly lovely here?" cried the little boy enthusiastically,
dabbling his hands in the cool water. "I was never in a boat like this
before."

"Of course it's lovely," said Lulu in a tone of unqualified
satisfaction; "I told you it would be. It's much nicer than on that hot
piazza, or on the beach either."

"There are mosquitoes," Winifred remarked, flapping vigorously about her
head with her handkerchief. "Mosquitoes always do bite me most
dreadfully."

"That's because you're so sweet," said Lulu. "Try not to think about
them, and then you won't mind. Aunt Daisy says if only people wouldn't
think about disagreeable things, they would be a great deal happier."

"Look, look; I can make the boat rock," cried the excited Jack.

"Oh, isn't it fun?"

"Now," said Lulu, as usual taking the initiative; "we are a party of
shipwrecked people, escaping in a lifeboat from a sinking ship. We are
away out in the middle of the ocean. All the other people in the ship
have been drowned, and we have escaped in the only boat there was. I am
a widow lady traveling with my little boy. You are my little boy, Jack,
and you are very ill. You must put your head in my lap, and keep your
eyes shut as if you were suffering a great deal. Winifred is our
faithful maid, who has been everywhere with us, and has divided her last
ship biscuit with us."

"And what am I?" inquired Betty, beginning to enter the spirit of the
new game. "Don't make the boat rock quite so hard, Jack, dear, please."

"You are the kind old sailor, who has saved us all. Some bad men on the
ship wanted to take this lifeboat, and leave us to drown, but you shot
them all down, and now you are taking us to an inhabited island you know
about. We have been three days without food, and without seeing a sail,
but I have promised that if you will bring us safely to land I will make
you very rich."

"Are you very rich yourself?" inquired Betty.

"Of course, I'm a very great lady. No, I think I will be a princess;
that will be nicer, and when people do brave things I make them my
knights."

"But there aren't any knights now," Winifred objected.

"Well, then, it isn't now; it's a long time ago, about the time of Queen
Elizabeth, I guess. Now come on, let's begin."

The next half-hour was one of the most delightfully exciting periods the
children had ever enjoyed. Lulu's vivid imagination carried them all
along with it, and even practical Betty forgot everything else in the
interest of the shipwreck. Jack played the suffering child to
perfection; moaned pitiously, and implored his mother in feeble whispers
for a crust of bread or a drop of water. The food was all gone, Lulu
said, but Winifred endeavored to procure the desired water by dipping
her hands in the river, and splashing salt water over Jack's face. Some
of it ran into his eyes, which was not pleasant, but Jack was too polite
to complain. Betty spoke words of encouragement and cheer, while she
scanned the horizon through an imaginary telescope. Lulu hung over her
suffering child, soothing his woes by the tenderest caresses and
promising innumerable purses filled with gold to Betty and Winifred, as
rewards for their faithful services, if ever they should reach the shore
alive.

"There's a dreadful storm coming up," announced Lulu, suddenly glancing
up at the cloudless blue sky, and beginning to wave her arms
frantically. "We shall be drowned, I know we shall. Make the boat rock
as much as you can, Betty, so it will seem as if the sea was getting
rough. Oh, what will become of us? Do you think we shall all perish,
sailor?"

"Can't say; hope not," said Betty, who had an idea that all sailors
spoke in short, jerky sentences.

"You'll save us if you possibly can, won't you?" said Winifred, who was
playing so hard that she was almost frightened.

"Will if I can," returned Betty in the deepest growl she could assume.

"Oh, Lulu, please let us see a sail pretty soon," urged Jack. "I'm
getting so tired of keeping my eyes shut, and it seems so dreadfully
real."

[Illustration: "There aren't any oars, and we're drifting."--_Page
159_.]

"Oh, yes, we shall see one before long," said Lulu reassuringly. "It'll
come just at the last awful moment; it always does in books."

At that moment a sudden burst of sunshine dazzled all their eyes.

"Why, how funny," exclaimed Betty, forgetting her nautical manner, and
speaking in her natural voice; "I wonder what makes it sunny all at
once. It was nice and shady a minute ago."

A shrill scream from Winifred brought Betty's wonder to an abrupt end.

"Look, oh look!" shrieked the little girl, pointing with a shaking
finger towards the shore; "the boat's moving, it's moving all by
itself."

Every one followed the direction of Winifred's terrified gaze. Sure
enough; several feet of water already separated the boat from the shore.

"The chain's broken," gasped Betty, growing very white. "It must have
broken when we made the boat rock so hard. There aren't any oars, and
we're drifting. Oh, what shall we do?"

Winifred began to cry.

"It's all your fault, Lulu," she wailed; "you said it was safe, and now
we shall be drowned, and what will mother do. Oh, oh, oh!"

Lulu was shaking from head to foot, but realizing the truth of her
friend's accusation, she made an effort to think of some way of escape.

"Couldn't we jump out and wade ashore?" she suggested desperately.

"Of course not," said Betty, with prompt decision; "we don't know how
deep the water is, and besides we couldn't leave Jack."

Poor little Jack lifted his white face from his sister's shoulder, where
he had hidden it in the first moment of terror. His eyes were big with
fright, and his lips trembled pitifully.

"Never mind about me," he faltered. "Maybe if you get ashore you can
send some one after me. I'm a boy, you know; I ought to be able to take
care of myself."

"You're the bravest boy I ever knew," sobbed impulsive Lulu, throwing
her arms around Jack's neck, "and we wouldn't leave you for the whole
world, would we, girls?"

"Of course we wouldn't," said Winifred emphatically. Betty said nothing,
but hugged her brother tight in wordless love and admiration.

"We sha'n't be drowned, any way, I know we sha'n't," said Lulu, her
courage beginning to rise. "There are so many boats on the river that
some one will be sure to see us pretty soon."

"There's a man over there fishing on that dock," cried Winifred
hopefully. "He isn't looking this way, but maybe if we shout very loud
he'll hear us."

The four little voices were accordingly raised, and shout succeeded
shout till the opposite bank sent back the echoes, but the fisherman
never turned his head. Perhaps he was deaf, or possibly he was
accustomed to hear children shouting in that way, merely for the sake of
amusement. Not another human being was in sight.

"He won't see us, oh, he won't look," moaned Winifred, once more
beginning to cry. "See how far away from the shore we are getting. Oh,
we shall be drowned, I know we shall."

Betty and Lulu had also noticed how fast the boat was drifting.

"The tide's going out," whispered Betty, with white lips. "Where does
this river go to, Lulu?"

"Into the ocean, I think," said Lulu, shivering. "It has to go round
Sandy Hook first, though," she added more hopefully, "and somebody will
be sure to see us before we get there."

"Are you very frightened, Jack, dear?" Betty whispered, nestling close
to her little brother.

"N--no, not so very," returned Jack tremulously; "only--only, if
anything does happen think how unhappy mother will be, and--and, I did
hope I should be able to walk just like other people."

This was too much for Betty, and she promptly burst into tears.

"Oh, we must do something, we must," cried Lulu, almost beside herself
with anxiety. "It's all my fault, I know, but I really did think it was
safe. I didn't mean to be naughty, I truly didn't, Winifred."

"I know you didn't," sobbed Winifred, hugging her friend in a burst of
remorse. "I didn't mean what I said, not a single word of it, only I was
so dreadfully frightened."

"Perhaps if we keep on shouting all the time, and waving our
handkerchiefs, some one will notice us," Betty suggested.

This seemed a good idea, and was promptly acted upon, but though they
shouted till their throats were sore, and waved till their arms ached,
no friendly face appeared, and faster and faster drifted the little boat
away from home and friends.

"I wonder what time it is," said Winifred, when they had at last left
off shouting, in order to gain a little breath. "It seems as if we had
been out on the river for hours and hours."

"We can't have been as long as that," said Betty, "because the sun is
just as bright as it was when we started. I guess the time seems longer
than it really is."

"I wonder where our mothers are now," remarked Lulu mournfully. "Mine
must be on the boat coming home from the city."

"And mine is driving with Mrs. Martin," said Winifred. "Oh, what will
they all do when they get home and we're not there." The picture called
up by this remark was too dreadful to be borne with fortitude, and all
four children simultaneously burst into tears.

Suddenly Jack's voice broke in upon the wails of the three little girls.

"Look, oh, look! there's a steamboat; it's coming this way."

Every eye was turned in the direction Jack pointed. Sure enough, a large
steam yacht was coming rapidly down the river, her head pointed straight
towards them.

"Wave, keep waving as hard as you can," cried Betty excitedly. "Let's
all shout together again, and perhaps they'll hear us."

"Wait till they get a little nearer, they couldn't hear us yet,"
advised Jack. "Oh, do you really think they'll save us?"

"Of course they will," said Lulu confidently. "Oh, look, look, they see
us already; there's a man waving back to us. Maybe they think we're only
doing it for fun. How shall we let them know we want them to help us?"

"We must shout," said Betty, and she set the example by raising her
voice to its highest pitch.

"Please, please help us! Our boat's drifting, and we haven't got any
oars. Oh, please, do come and help us!"

"They understand us!" cried Lulu joyfully. "See, the man's nodding his
head. Why, they're stopping! Oh, don't you believe they're going to help
us after all?"

For the next few moments the children waited in breathless suspense,
almost too excited to speak. Then Jack announced:

"They're getting into a rowboat. See those two men? That's the one that
nodded to us; I guess he's the captain. Let's shout again."

So again the four little voices were raised in agonized appeal, and this
time there came an answering shout from the other boat.

"Don't be frightened, children, you're all right. We're coming to you as
fast as we can."

The wind brought the cheery, encouraging words straight across the water
to the terrified children, and oh! the relief of that comforting
assurance to each wildly beating little heart. The men in the boat rowed
fast, and soon the splash of approaching oars was heard. Lulu and
Winifred began to cry again, but it was for joy this time, not sorrow.
Betty and Jack clung to each other in speechless relief. In a few
moments the two boats were side by side; a rope was thrown securely
around the oarless craft, and the children were safe.

"And now, my little friends, you must let us take you on board the
yacht," said the man whom Jack had concluded to be the captain.

He was a tall, broad-shouldered man, with a rather handsome face, and it
seemed to the children as though his cheery voice was the pleasantest
sound they had ever heard in their lives. He and his companion--who
appeared to be one of the sailors--began at once rowing back towards the
yacht, keeping the children's boat in tow. A sudden fit of shyness had
fallen upon the party, and nobody spoke until the stranger inquired,
regarding the solemn little faces rather quizzically:

"How did it happen?"

"We were playing in the boat," Betty explained. "It was fastened to the
dock, and we thought it was safe. The chain broke and we hadn't any
oars."

"Have you been drifting long? Were you very much frightened?"

"It seemed like a long time," said Betty, "and we were pretty
frightened. It was very kind of you to come and help us."

The gentleman smiled. He was a gentleman, the children all felt sure of
that, and Lulu afterwards remarked that he had the most beautiful smile
she had ever seen.

Nothing more was said until they reached the side of the yacht. Several
men, evidently members of the crew, were standing on the deck, watching
with interest the approach of the two boats.

"Now," said the gentleman, rising, "do you think you can manage to climb
this ladder? It's perfectly safe, and I will help you."

Lulu and Winifred rose promptly, but Betty remained seated, her arm
around her little brother.

"Don't be afraid," said the gentleman encouragingly; "it's quite easy."

"Oh, I'm not afraid," said Betty, her lip beginning to quiver, "but I
can't leave my brother. He can't climb. He has always been a cripple
until this summer, and he's only just beginning to walk now. We'll have
to stay here till we get to the landing."

While Betty was speaking the stranger's face had softened wonderfully,
and he looked at Jack with an expression of increased interest. Without
a word he stepped to the side of his own boat, and, leaning over, lifted
the little boy in his arms.

"Now I fancy we can manage it, my little man," he said kindly, and in
another moment he had lifted Jack up to one of the men on the yacht, who
in turn had placed the child in safety on the deck. The little girls
were then carefully helped up the ladder, and in less than three minutes
the whole party was standing, safe and dry, on the deck of what they
afterwards learned to be one of the finest steam yachts in the world.

"And now I shall have to take you all as far as the steamboat landing,"
said the stranger, as he placed Jack comfortably in a steamer chair. "It
will not take more than half an hour, and from there we can easily send
word to your friends. Where do you live, by the way?"

"We live at Navesink," said Lulu, suddenly recovering her speech and her
manners now that the danger was over, and remembering all at once that
she had always been considered a very polite little girl. "My papa has a
cottage there, and the others all came over to spend the afternoon with
me. It was my fault about the boat, but I thought it was safe. I think
we must have made it rock too much when we were playing shipwreck."

"Very possibly," said the gentleman, who looked considerably amused by
this explanation. "It is never a very wise plan to make boats rock too
much. But now let me see"--glancing at his watch--"it is only a little
after five, and we shall be at the landing by half-past. Do you think
your friends will be very much frightened about you?"

"I don't think so," said Lulu. "My mother has gone to the city for the
day; Winifred's mother is out driving, and Betty and Jack say their
mother told them they needn't come home before six. My papa has a
telephone, and we can let them know as soon as we get to the landing."

"Not at all a bad idea, and in the meantime won't you make yourselves at
home on board my yacht? By the way, I think shipwrecked people are apt
to be hungry."

"We are not very hungry, thank you," said Lulu politely; "you see, we
didn't start until half-past three."

The stranger smiled again, and said something in a low tone to the
steward, who immediately disappeared.

"We've none of us ever been on a yacht before," said Lulu, feeling that
it was her duty to keep up the conversation, as none of the others
seemed inclined to talk. "I think it's a very nice place."

"I have crossed the Atlantic in this yacht," the gentleman said
pleasantly.

"Have you really?" exclaimed Lulu, looking very much surprised. "I
didn't know people ever did that, except perhaps lords."

"And why lords in particular?" the stranger inquired, smiling.

"I don't know, only a lord is coming to stay with us, and papa says he
has crossed the ocean in his yacht."

"Indeed! and may I ask what your name is?"

"Lulu Bell. My father is Dr. Bell, and we live in New York in winter."

"Well, this is a coincidence, I declare," exclaimed the gentleman,
looking really quite excited. "I had no idea that one of the children in
that rowboat would prove to be the little daughter of my old friend.
Have you ever heard your father speak of Lord Carresford?"

"Why, yes," said Lulu, her eyes opening wide in astonishment; "he's the
lord that's coming to stay with us to-morrow."

"I am Lord Carresford," said the gentleman, laughing and holding out his
hand.

"Children," gasped Lulu, turning to her three companions, who had been
whispering together at a little distance from their rescuer and herself,
and who had not paid much attention to the conversation, "oh, children,
the very most wonderful thing has happened. This really is a lord's
yacht, and this gentleman is--'His Lordship.'"



CHAPTER XIII

"HIS LORDSHIP"


Before the children had fully recovered from the amazement caused by
Lulu's announcement the steward reappeared bearing a tray containing
lemonade and cake, and Lord Carresford requested them to take some
refreshments. Although not in a starving condition, they were all
blessed with healthy appetites, and the cake and lemonade disappeared
very rapidly. While they ate their host talked to them, and he was so
pleasant and merry, and, in fact, talked so much like any other
gentleman, that Winifred whispered to Jack: "Betty was right, wasn't
she? A lord isn't a bit different from anybody else," to which Jack
replied, "No, only rather nicer than most people, don't you think so?"

By the time the impromptu repast was finished the yacht had reached the
steamboat landing, and Lord Carresford hurried away to the telephone
office to inform Dr. and Mrs. Bell of their little daughter's
whereabouts. During his absence the steward--who appeared to be a very
agreeable person--showed the children over the yacht, carrying Jack in
his arms almost as tenderly and carefully as his master had done.

"I think a yacht is the most interesting place I have ever been in,"
Lulu informed "his lordship" on his return from the telephone office. "I
should like very much indeed to cross the ocean in one. We went to
Europe once, and I liked the steamer very much, but mamma and Aunt Daisy
were seasick."

"If you please, sir," interrupted Betty--"I mean, your lordship--do you
know whether our families have been very much worried about us?"

"I think not," said "his lordship," smiling kindly at the earnest little
face. "Dr. Bell himself came to the telephone, and seemed greatly
surprised to learn of the state of affairs. He and his wife have just
returned from the city, and had not yet discovered that their little
girl was missing. He says he will drive over to the landing for you at
once."

Betty drew a long breath of relief.

"I'm so glad," she said; "I was afraid mother might be frightened. She
was very ill last spring, and we shouldn't like to have her worried
about anything."

After that Lord Carresford took them down into the cabin and showed them
some interesting shells and other curious things which he had collected
during his wanderings. He had been nearly all over the world, it seemed,
and was certainly one of the most fascinating "grown-ups" the children
had ever met. So the moments flew, and almost before any one could have
believed such a thing possible, Dr. Bell arrived with the carriage. At
sight of her father Lulu suddenly burst into tears again and flung
herself impulsively into his arms.

"I wasn't naughty, papa, I really wasn't," she sobbed. "I did think the
boat was safe or I wouldn't have asked the others in. Oh, papa, dear,
you won't be angry, will you?"

"No, no, little woman," Dr. Bell said, kissing her. "I am only angry
with myself for not having been more careful. If anything had
happened--Jack, old fellow, how can I thank you?" And the doctor wrung
Lord Carresford's hands in gratitude too deep for words.

The greeting between the two old friends was a very hearty one, and Dr.
Bell would have insisted on Lord Carresford's returning with them at
once to Navesink, but the latter explained that he had promised to dine
with some friends at the Highlands that evening, and would consequently
be unable to arrive at the Bells' before the following day. It was
getting late, and as Dr. Bell was anxious to get his party home as soon
as possible, the good-byes and thanks were quickly said and the four
children were packed into the Bells' comfortable depot wagon. Lord
Carresford insisted on carrying Jack to the carriage.

"Good-bye, my small friend," he said kindly, as he tucked the laprobe
about the little boy's feet. "I shall see you again, I hope, when I come
to Navesink."

"Good-bye, sir, and thank you very much," said Jack, holding out his
hand. "I am very glad I met you. I have wanted for a long time to meet a
lord, but I didn't really believe I ever should."

It was nearly eight o'clock before the party reached home, and Dr. Bell
drove at once to the boarding-house to leave Betty and Jack. Mrs.
Randall was standing on the piazza gazing anxiously out into the
gathering dusk.

"Here we are, mother," called Betty, as the carriage drew up before the
door; "we're all right, and I'm sure Jack hasn't taken cold."

Mrs. Randall hurried down the steps, and took Jack in her arms.

"Let me carry him," she said almost sharply to the doctor, who would
have lifted the child from the carriage. "Oh, my little boy, were you
very, very much frightened?"

"I was pretty frightened at first," Jack admitted, with his arms clasped
tight around his mother's neck, "but afterwards, when the yacht came,
and the lord was so kind, I liked it, and then it was a great comfort to
know you weren't frightened about us."

"Are you sure you were warm enough all the time?" Mrs. Randall
questioned anxiously.

"Oh, yes, as warm as toast," said Jack, laughing. "They wrapped me all
up in the laprobe driving home--and see this pretty silk handkerchief.
The lord tied it around my neck for fear I should be cold."

"The lord?" repeated Mrs. Randall, looking very much puzzled.

"Why, yes, the lord that owns the yacht--and isn't it funny, mother,
he's the same lord that's coming to stay at Dr. Bell's. He said he hoped
he should see me again, and I hope so too, for he is the nicest
gentleman I ever met."

"Mother," said Jack an hour later, when his mother was putting him to
bed, "do you know, I'm more glad than I ever was before that I'm an
English boy."

"Why?" his mother asked, smiling.

"Because when I grow up I shall be an Englishman, and I do think
Englishmen are very splendid. I like Dr. Bell, and Mr. Hamilton, and a
good many other American gentlemen, but I never saw any one quite so
splendid as that lord."

Mrs. Randall laughed.

"You enthusiastic little hero worshiper," she said. "What was the lord's
name, by the way?"

"I don't know," said Jack; "Lulu just called him 'your lordship.' They
might have names like other people, I suppose."

"Yes, of course, and it isn't customary to address a lord as 'your
lordship' either, at least not among people of our class."

"That must be why he laughed when Lulu did it," said Betty reflectively,
"but she only wanted to be very respectful. Dr. Bell called him Jack."

"Betty," whispered Jack, when their mother had left the room, and the
two children were alone together, "do you suppose we shall ever see
Uncle Jack?"

"I don't know," said Betty sadly. "I'm sure mother never will write to
him, and of course he wouldn't be likely to come to America."

"You don't know where he lives in England, do you?"

"Mother told me once, but I forget the name of the place. Why do you
want to know?"

"Because," said Jack slowly, raising himself on his elbow as he spoke,
"if I knew it, I think I would write him a letter myself."

"Oh, Jack, you wouldn't dare?"

"Yes, I think I would," said Jack, "and I think if he really came,
mother would love it."

"She would love to see him," Betty admitted, "but she doesn't like to
write, for fear he might think she wanted money or something like that."

"I want to see him too," said Jack; "I want it very much indeed."

"Why? You never seemed to care so much before."

"No, I didn't, not till to-day, but then you see I had never talked to
an Englishman before."

"And does that make a difference?" Betty asked, somewhat puzzled.

"Of course it does. Uncle Jack is an Englishman too, and perhaps--I
don't really suppose he is--but he might be just a little bit like the
lord."

"You are a funny boy," said Betty, laughing. "The lord was very kind,
and ever so good to us, but then----"

"He was the most splendid man I ever saw," interrupted Jack, "and I
wish--I do wish--that when I grow up I might be just exactly like him."

The Randalls was not the only household in which Lord Carresford was the
subject of conversation that evening.

"Your friend has certainly succeeded in captivating the children's
affections, Charlie," said Mrs. Bell to her husband, as she joined him
and her sister on the piazza after having seen Lulu safely tucked up in
bed. "Lulu has talked of nothing else since she came home, and I have
just been talking to Mrs. Hamilton at the telephone. She says her little
girl is of the opinion that 'his lordship' is the most delightful person
she has ever encountered."

"That was always the way with old Jack," said the doctor, smiling.
"There was never a man, woman, or child who had not something to say in
his praise. He was the most popular man in his class."

"I declare I can hardly wait till to-morrow to make his acquaintance,"
laughed Miss Warren. "Did you ever know any of his people, Charlie?"

"No, I never met any of them. I fancy his father was a rather eccentric
old gentleman, who did not encourage visitors. There was a sister he
used to talk about a good deal, but I never met her. I left college the
year before he did, and I have a vague recollection of having heard that
the sister made an unfortunate marriage, but I have forgotten the
circumstances."

"I hope that poor little Randall boy won't be any the worse for his
adventure of this afternoon," Mrs. Bell said, a little anxiously.

"Oh, no, I think not; we wrapped him up well coming home, and he seemed
as happy as possible. Indeed, I have an idea that he rather enjoyed the
whole adventure, for he is a true boy, after all."

"I like Mrs. Randall very much," remarked Miss Warren. "She is an
excellent teacher, and a thoroughly cultivated woman. I wish I knew more
of her history, and could do something to help her, for I am sure she
has had a hard time. Don't you know anything about her family, Charlie?"

"Nothing whatever. Betty once told me that their only relative is an
uncle in England, whom she has never seen."

"Lulu says Jack's grandfather was a general," said Mrs. Bell. "They are
certainly a most interesting family, and I wish we could manage to do
something for that poor Mrs. Randall. There is a tragedy of some kind
written plainly on her face."



CHAPTER XIV

JACK'S NEW FRIEND


"May I inquire what you are thinking of so intently, Miss Lulu?"

Lulu gave a little start, and glanced up from her seat on the piazza
steps, into Lord Carresford's kind, amused face. "His lordship,"
stretched comfortably in the hammock, with book and cigar, had been
regarding her in silence for several minutes.

"I was thinking," said Lulu slowly, "how differently things generally
happen from the way you expect them to."

"I thought it must be something rather absorbing," said "his lordship"
with a smile, "you looked so very serious. What has put that particular
thought into your head just now, I wonder."

"Why, it was you," said Lulu, flushing a little. "I began by thinking
how different you were from what we thought you were going to be. When
papa said a lord was coming to stay with us, I was really quite
uncomfortable. I thought it would be such a dreadfully solemn thing to
have one in the house."

Lord Carresford laughed.

"And you have since discovered that I am not such a very solemn person
after all, is that it?"

"Yes," said Lulu; "you're not the least bit solemn, you know, but much
nicer than any other gentleman who ever came to stay with us. It's only
two days since you came, but it seems as if we'd all known you a long
time. Betty said she didn't believe lords were any different from other
people, but the rest of us all thought they must be."

"Good for Betty. How did she obtain her superior knowledge about lords?"

"She said the lords in books were just like other people, and then I
suppose being English made her know a little more about such things,
though she's never been in England herself."

"English," repeated Lord Carresford in surprise; "I did not know that
the Hamiltons were English."

"They're not, but Betty isn't Mrs. Hamilton's little girl. Did you think
she was Winifred's sister?"

"Yes, I did think so; and the little lame boy--isn't he a Hamilton
either?"

"Oh, no," said Lulu, laughing; "Winifred hasn't any brothers or sisters
at all. She and I are great friends, but we haven't known Betty and Jack
very long. They lived in the same apartment house with Winifred in New
York, and she got acquainted with them in the spring. Their mother was
very ill, and papa attended her. Jack couldn't walk at all then, but
papa thought he might be cured, so he went to a hospital, and had an
operation. They came down here, because papa thought the sea air would
do Jack good. They're staying at Mrs. Wilson's boarding house, and their
mother gives music lessons. We're growing very fond of Betty and Jack,
and I mean to have them for my friends always."

"I took quite a fancy to Jack myself," said Lord Carresford; "he struck
me as a rather remarkable little fellow."

Lulu's face brightened.

"I'm very glad," she said, "because Jack is so anxious to know you.
Betty says he thinks you are the loveliest gentleman he has ever seen.
He talks about you all the time and when he and Betty came over here
yesterday, and I told him you had gone driving with papa, he looked
dreadfully disappointed."

Lord Carresford seemed both pleased and amused.

"I must make a point of looking up my young friend, and having a little
talk with him then," he said. "Do you suppose he is to be found on the
beach this afternoon?"

"Yes, I know he is; I saw Betty wheeling him down a little while ago.
I'm waiting for Winifred, and then we're going too. I suppose you
wouldn't care to go with us? It's very nice and cool down there."

"I think I should like it very much," said Lord Carresford, smiling.
"Your father will not be at home before six, I believe."

"No, and mamma and Aunt Daisy have gone to a tea. Don't you like teas,
Lord Carresford?"

"Not very much. I prefer sitting here and watching the ocean. Do you
enjoy teas yourself?"

"I think I should like them," said Lulu reflectively; "I like most
grown-up things. Betty says she wants to be a housekeeper when she grows
up, but I should much rather be an authoress. Aunt Daisy is an
authoress, you know, and people always like to talk to her. Jack is
going to be an artist when he grows up, and he doesn't want Betty to be
a housekeeper, because he says English ladies never work. Jack is
really a very unselfish little boy. That day in the boat he wanted us
all to wade ashore and leave him alone. He said he was a boy, and ought
to be able to take care of himself. We think him very brave, and papa
calls him a little soldier. Oh, here comes Winifred." And Lulu sprang to
her feet, and hurried across the lawn to greet her friend.

Winifred was very much impressed when her friend informed her in a
whisper that "his lordship" was actually going to the beach with them,
and the three were soon on their way.

"Lord Carresford," said Lulu rather timidly, as they passed out of the
gate, and turned in the direction of the board walk, "would you mind
very much if I asked you a question?"

"Not in the least."

"Do you like being a lord?"

"Well, I can scarcely say that I dislike it," said "his lordship,"
laughing. "The fact is, I don't think I have quite recovered from the
surprise of the whole thing as yet."

"Why were you surprised? Didn't you always expect to be one?"

"I never even dreamed of such a thing until about a year ago. My uncle
was Lord Carresford as long as he lived, and when he died the title
naturally descended to his son, my cousin. He had always been very
strong and well, but he died suddenly of pneumonia a year ago last
spring, and as he was not married, and I was the nearest male relative,
the title and estates came to me."

"That's just the way it was with little Lord Fauntleroy," said Winifred,
much struck by the coincidence, "and he didn't think he was going to
like it at first, but afterwards he didn't mind so much. Have you got a
beautiful castle in England, like the one Fauntleroy had?"

"I have several rather nice places. If you ever come to England you must
make me a visit at Carresford Towers. You would like that, I think; it
is very pretty."

"We should like it very much," said Winifred politely. "I wish Jack
could go to England some time; he's so much interested in all English
things. Have you got a park with deer in it?"

"Yes, a very nice one."

"And who will be Lord Carresford when you--after you get through?" Lulu
inquired, finding some difficulty in framing her question in the most
delicate manner.

Lord Carresford laughed.

"That depends upon circumstances," he said. "If I should happen to marry
and have a son, he would naturally take my place. Otherwise the title
would go to one of my nephews, if I had any."

"Have you got any nephews now?" Lulu asked.

"No, at least none that I know of. I have two married sisters in
England, but their children all happen to be girls."

"It's all very interesting," said Lulu; "it sounds just like a thing out
of a book. There are Betty and Jack sitting on the bathing house steps.
Won't they be surprised when they see who is with us?"

"Well, my boy, and how have you been amusing yourself to-day?" Lord
Carresford asked kindly, seating himself beside Jack on the steps, as
the three little girls strolled away in search of other amusements.

"I've been having a very pleasant time, sir," said Jack, whose heart was
beating faster than was quite comfortable, and whose cheeks were
flushing and paling by turns. To find himself actually alone with "the
lord," engaged in familiar conversation with him, was an honor he had
never even dreamed of. "Betty and I were on the beach all the morning. I
like it better than any other place."

"You are fond of the sea, then?"

"Oh, yes, indeed, I love just to sit and look at it. It's very
interesting to look at things, don't you think so?"

"Well, yes, I suppose it is, though I can't say I have ever thought very
much on the subject."

"Well, you see, it's rather different with me," Jack explained in his
odd, old-fashioned way, "because until this summer I never saw many
things. I hardly ever went out, and you know one can't see very much
from back windows, especially when one lives on the top floor."

"I should not imagine the view could have been very interesting," said
Lord Carresford, smiling; "but how did it happen that you so seldom went
out?"

"Why, you see, I was too heavy to carry, and of course we couldn't
afford to have a carriage. I did go in a carriage once, though; I saw
Central Park." And Jack launched forth into a description of Winifred's
invitation, and his birthday treat. Lord Carresford began to look really
interested.

"And how did you amuse yourself all day in the house?" he inquired,
rather curiously, when Jack had finished his story.

"Oh, I got on very well. I read a good deal, and drew pictures, and then
Betty was always there, and mother came home in the afternoons. You
never heard my mother play on the piano, did you?"

"No, I have never had the pleasure of meeting your mother."

"I think she plays better than any one else in the world," said Jack
simply. "She used to play for me every evening, because she knew I loved
it, though sometimes she was dreadfully tired. Oh, I had very good
times, though of course it is much nicer here."

"Did you say you drew pictures?" Lord Carresford asked.

"Yes, I like to draw better than almost anything else, but I don't
suppose I do it at all right. I've been making a picture this
afternoon."

"May I look at it? I am very much interested in pictures."

Jack produced a folded paper from his pocket, which he handed to Lord
Carresford.

"I was going to take it home to mother," he explained; "she likes to
keep all my pictures."

Lord Carresford unfolded the paper, and glanced, at first rather
carelessly, at the rough little sketch. Then suddenly his expression
changed, and when he again turned to the little boy there was a new
interest in his manner.

[Illustration: "It is very good," said Lord Carresford.--_Page 189_.]

"Who taught you to draw?" he asked rather abruptly.

"No one," said Jack; "I just did it. My father was an artist, and mother
thinks that may be the reason why I can do it. Please, sir, would you
mind telling me if it's very bad?"

"It is very good," said Lord Carresford heartily; "remarkably good for a
boy of your age. You will be an artist when you grow up, or I am much
mistaken."

Jack's face was radiant.

"Do you really think so?" he asked breathlessly. "Oh, I'm so glad. I
should like so very, very much to be an artist."

"Why are you so anxious on the subject?" Lord Carresford asked, with a
kindly glance at the flushed, eager little face.

"I think it's partly because my father was one, but mostly because I
want to make money," said Jack.

"You want to make money, eh? and what will you do with the money when it
is made?"

"Why, take care of mother and Betty, of course," said Jack, surprised at
the question. "Isn't that what men always do with the money they
make?--take care of their families, I mean."

"Well, I am afraid not always," said Lord Carresford, laughing; "don't
you think that you may need a share for yourself?"

"Oh, not much," said Jack confidently. "You see, I shall always live
with mother and Betty, and if they have things, why, of course I shall
have them too. I don't want mother to give music lessons when I grow up,
and Betty mustn't be a housekeeper, though she says she would like to be
one."

"Have you a particular objection to housekeepers, then?"

"Oh, no, it isn't that, only I don't think--Lord Carresford, would you
mind telling me something?"

"Not at all; what is it?"

"It's about ladies," said Jack, flushing; "English ladies I mean. They
never work, do they?"

"Many of them do when it is necessary. There is nothing to be ashamed of
in honest work, you know."

"Oh, I know there isn't. Mother works, and Lulu's aunt writes books. But
I mean the kind of ladies who have lords for their relations--do they
ever work?"

"Well, they are not very often obliged to, but I have known of cases
where even ladies of title have supported themselves. I see your point,
though; you don't want your sister to be obliged to work."

"No," said Jack; "not if I can take care of her. I want her to live in a
beautiful place, with a park, like mother--I mean like some people--and
never have to do anything she doesn't want to."

"Well," said Lord Carresford, smiling, "I am not certain about the park,
but you ought to be able to make a comfortable home for your mother and
sister. You have talent, my boy, and it should be cultivated. You must
have lessons."

Jack's bright face clouded.

"Don't lessons cost a good deal, sir?" he asked anxiously.

"Yes, but in a case like yours I don't think the expense of the thing
should be taken into consideration. A boy who can draw as well as you
can without ever taking a lesson, ought to have every advantage for
improving his talent. Your mother should place you under one of the very
best teachers in New York, and then when you are older you will be able
to make good use of the advantages you have received."

"But if it costs a good deal of money I'm afraid mother couldn't
possibly afford it," said Jack mournfully. "I shouldn't like to speak to
her about it either, because it might worry her. When mother's worried
about things she doesn't sleep, and then her eyes look so tired."

Lord Carresford was silent. There was something rather pathetic in the
sight of the little patient face, that but a moment before had been so
bright and hopeful. This small boy was interesting him very much. He
thought of his own great wealth, and of how easy it would be to him to
give the child the help he needed. And yet, as he told himself, it would
not do to be too hasty. He really knew nothing whatever about this
family. So when he spoke again, it was on a different subject.

The little girls soon returned, and Lulu requested Lord Carresford to
tell them a story. "His lordship's" powers in that direction had already
been discovered by the little girl. He complied very willingly with the
request, and soon had the whole party listening in breathless interest
to an account of some of his experiences when hunting big game in India.
So Dr. Bell, coming down to the beach on his return from town, found a
very happy little group gathered about his friend, and it was not
without considerable regret that the children bade good-bye to their
fascinating entertainer, and watched him and the doctor walking away
together.

"That little boy interests me very much," Lord Carresford remarked,
pausing to light a cigar, when they had reached the board walk, "and do
you know that he has a great deal of talent?"

"Talent for what?" the doctor inquired in surprise.

"Have you never happened to see any of his sketches?"

"No, never; are they worth anything?"

"My dear fellow, the child is a genius. He tells me he has never had a
drawing lesson in his life, and yet, I assure you, his drawings are
better than many I have seen made by students who have been at work for
years. He ought to have the best teaching that can be procured."

Dr. Bell looked interested.

"I am afraid there may be difficulties in the way," he said. "The mother
is a music teacher, and I am sorry to say is far from strong. I fancy
she has a rather uphill road to travel."

"Well, she ought to be told of her boy's talent at any rate," said Lord
Carresford, rather impatiently. "The raising of sufficient money for
lessons ought not to be difficult. I am sure I should be very glad to
contribute myself to so good a cause."

"It might not be difficult in some cases," said the doctor, laughing,
"but I am afraid that in that particular case there would be a good deal
of trouble. The mother has the airs and manner of a queen. I should like
to see her expression if any one were to propose to her that a fund
should be raised in order to give her small boy drawing lessons. I have
never yet been able to muster sufficient courage to explain to her that
I do not intend sending in a bill for professional services. She was
laid up with a sharp attack of pneumonia this spring. When she was taken
ill she told her children she could not afford to have a doctor sent
for. Fortunately Hamilton's little girl, who happened to be a friend of
theirs, took matters into her own hands, in the absence of her mother,
and came for me. The poor woman was delirious when I reached there, and
we had a hard time to pull her through. I believe that if it were not
for the children she would starve rather than accept a penny from any
one. She adores them, though, especially the boy, and no wonder, for he
is one of the finest little fellows I have ever seen."

"Poor soul," said Lord Carresford, with a sigh. "Well, she must be told
of her boy's prospects, and then she can do as she likes about accepting
the necessary aid."



CHAPTER XV

SOMETHING HAPPENS


"Is it finished, Winifred?"

"Ye--yes," said Winifred slowly, laying down her pencil, and surveying
rather ruefully the large sheet of foolscap in her lap. "It's finished,
but it isn't any good; I know your aunt won't like it."

"Oh, yes, she will," said Lulu encouragingly, coming over to her
friend's side, and surveying the result of her labors with evident
satisfaction. The two little girls were together in Lulu's room, and for
the past half-hour Winifred had been making a desperate effort to finish
her story.

"It isn't as long as mine," Lulu went on, "But I think it's a very
pretty story. 'The Indian' is a nice name, isn't it? I've called mine
'The Discovery of New Haven.' Of course I don't mean the New Haven where
the Boston trains stop. It's just an imaginary place, you know. We must
go and read our stories to Aunt Daisy now. I'm just crazy to know how
she will like them."

Winifred hesitated.

"I know she'll think mine dreadfully silly," she said. "Don't you think
you could possibly read it to her after I go home?"

"Of course not," said Lulu with decision; "you must read it to her
yourself, the same as I do. Come along."

Winifred rose rather reluctantly, and the two little girls went
downstairs, and out on the piazza, where they found Lord Carresford and
Miss Warren sitting together. "His lordship" was reading aloud to the
blind lady, but at the children's approach he laid down his book.

"Well, young ladies," he said pleasantly, "and what have you been doing
all the morning?"

"Winifred has been finishing her story," said Lulu, "and I've been
making a bureau cover for the fair. We came down to read our stories to
Aunt Daisy, but if you're reading to her now we can go away, and do it
another time."

"No, indeed," said Lord Carresford, "I am sure Miss Warren would much
prefer your reading to mine, but may I not be permitted to hear the
stories too?"

Lulu hesitated, and glanced at Winifred.

"We don't usually like to have grown-up people read our things," she
said doubtfully, "but you've been so very kind to us--shall we do it,
Winifred?"

"I'd rather go home, and let you read them both," said Winifred, with a
rather wistful glance in the direction of the distant hotel. "I guess
I'd better go home, any way. Mother's very busy sewing for the fair, and
she might want me to help her, you know."

"No, she won't," said Lulu confidently; "mamma is with her, and grown-up
ladies always like to be by themselves when they sew, don't they, Aunt
Daisy?"

"I don't know, I am sure," said Miss Warren, laughing, "but I really
think Winifred had better stay here. You ought not to mind letting Lord
Carresford hear your story, Winnie; think of all the stories he has told
you himself."

"Yes, and remember how kind he was that day on the yacht," put in Lulu.
"If he hadn't come to help us we might have all been drowned. I think we
each ought to do something to give him pleasure."

"But it wouldn't give him pleasure to hear my silly old story," Winifred
protested, blushing.

Lord Carresford insisted, however, that nothing could possibly give him
greater pleasure at that moment, and Winifred, being a very
good-natured, obliging little girl, made no further objections, only
begging that Lulu's story might be read first. So the two little girls
settled themselves comfortably on the piazza steps, and their elders
prepared to listen.

"My story is called 'The Discovery of New Haven,'" remarked Lulu, with
an air of pride, as she unfolded her manuscript. "Shall I begin now,
Aunt Daisy?"

Miss Warren nodded; Lord Carresford lighted a cigar, and Lulu began.

    "THE DISCOVERY OF NEW HAVEN

"Once there were two little girls, whose names were Lillie and Violet.
Their home was in a beautiful country place called Haven. Lillie and
Violet each had a pony of her own, besides a great many other wonderful
things, including gardens, rabbits, and beautiful toys. Their father and
mother were very good, religious people, and though they were rich
themselves, they were not forgetful of the poor. They wished their
little girls to grow up to be noble women.

"One evening after Lillie and Violet had gone to bed, and their father
and mother--whose names were Mr. and Mrs. Lafayette--were sitting
together in their beautiful parlor all furnished in velvet and gold, Mr.
Lafayette suddenly paused in the middle of a piece he was playing on the
pianola, and said:

"'My dear, I have thought of a most beautiful plan. Let us go to the
city to-morrow, and look for two little poor children, and bring them
home with us to be companions to our little girls. It is time they began
to learn to make other people happy.'

"Mrs. Lafayette was delighted with this suggestion, and the next morning
they started for the city.

"The scene now changes to a dirty, crowded city street----

       *       *       *       *       *

"Don't you think that's a nice expression, Aunt Daisy, 'the scene now
changes'? I got it out of 'Tales from Scott.'"

"It sounds a little like Scott, I think," Miss Warren said, smiling, and
Lulu went on.

       *       *       *       *       *

"The scene now changes to a dirty, crowded city street, where Joe and
Nannie, two poor little beggar children, were busily engaged in selling
matches and shoe lacings. Joe and Nannie were very poor indeed. Their
father and mother were dead, and ever since they were two and three
years old they had been obliged to take care of themselves. They did not
even sleep in a house, but generally passed their nights in areas with
their heads pillowed on the cold stone steps. It was often very
uncomfortable, especially in winter, but they were very brave, cheerful
children, and no one had ever heard one word of complaint from their
lips. They were also very clean, and would often go to the free baths
without being told.

"One very hot day in summer, when Joe and Nannie were standing on a
corner, wishing most earnestly that some one would stop and buy their
matches and shoe lacings a car suddenly stopped just in front of them
and an elegantly dressed lady and gentleman got out."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Don't you think it was rather poor taste in the lady and gentleman to
be so elegantly dressed under the circumstances?" Aunt Daisy asked, with
difficulty restraining a desire to laugh.

Lulu looked a little discomfited.

"It sounds pretty," she said. "I really don't think it matters, Aunt
Daisy, as it's only a story."

       *       *       *       *       *

"The children went up to them and asked them to please buy some of their
things, but the lady, with a most beautiful smile, said:

"'Come with us, dear children, and we will take you to a much nicer
place than you have ever seen in your poor, forsaken little lives.'

"Joe and Nannie, wondering very much, followed the elegant lady and
gentleman, for they trusted them at once. When they came to the station,
Mr. Lafayette bought tickets, and then they all got into the train that
was to take them to Haven. The children had never been in a train
before, and at first they were very much frightened, but their kind new
friends smiled reassuringly upon them, and their fears were soon calmed.

"Lillie and Violet were very much surprised when they saw their father
and mother returning from the city with two strange, ragged children,
but matters were quickly explained to them, and then Mrs. Lafayette
said:

"'We will first take your new companions upstairs, and dress them in
some of your clothes, and then you may take them for a walk, and show
them some of the beauties of the country they have come to live in.'

"So when Joe and Nannie had been neatly dressed, the children all went
out together, each rich child holding the hand of a poor one. Everything
was a joy and a wonder to Joe and Nannie, and they had never been so
happy in their lives. They walked a long distance, much further than
even Lillie or Violet had ever been before, and at last they came to a
great forest. It was very beautiful, and so wild that the children loved
it, and they all sat down to rest.

"Suddenly they heard a strange sound; it was the distant roar of a lion.
Lillie and Violet were frightened, and wanted to run home, but Joe and
Nannie looked at each other with shining eyes, and Joe cried joyfully:

"'That is the roar of a lion, so this must be an uncivilized country.
Perhaps it has never before been discovered, and if so we have
discovered it, and it will belong to us.'

"Then Joe and Nannie embraced each other, and they all hurried home.

"When Mr. Lafayette heard of the adventure, he told them that they had
indeed made a great discovery, for no one had ever before taken
possession of that wild tract of country.

"After that they all went to Washington, and the President gave Joe a
claim to the undiscovered country.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I don't know just what a claim is, but I read about it in a book.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Then they came back again, and Joe and Nannie took possession of their
vast domain, and because they wanted to show the Lafayettes how grateful
they were for all their kindness, they christened their new kingdom,
'New Haven.' In time they became very rich and powerful, and Joe married
an Indian princess, and Nannie married a great duke."

       *       *       *       *       *

"You ought to have had Joe marry one of the Lafayette girls," Lord
Carresford said, laughing, as Lulu paused, and began folding up her
manuscript. "It would have been another little proof of his gratitude,
you know."

"I thought of that," said Lulu, "but an Indian princess sounded so
pretty. Now, Winifred, it's your turn."

"My story isn't nearly as nice as yours," said Winifred modestly; "are
you sure you really want me to read it?"

"Quite sure," said Lord Carresford and Miss Warren both together.

Winifred's cheeks were hot, and her heart was beating uncomfortably, but
she made a mighty effort to steady her voice, and unfolding her paper,
began to read very fast indeed.

    "THE INDIAN

"Once upon a time there was a little girl named Rosalie. She had an
older brother named John, and she had a father but not a mother.

"One day she was in the garden playing with her brother, when she
suddenly saw a very curious-looking figure coming towards them through
the trees. She paused for a moment in amazement, and then called,
'Brother.'

"'What is it, Rosalie?' said her brother.

"'What is that, Brother? Look at that awful thing coming towards us
across the field.'

"'That is an Indian, Rosalie. Let us run to the house, and tell
father.'

"They ran to the house as fast as they could, and told their father.
When their father came out he said in a stern tone. 'Where is that
strange figure that you saw, Rosalie?'

"Rosalie looked all around, and then said: 'There, father; he is up in
that tree. I see his red blanket.'

"'That is an Indian, Rosalie, coming here to camp. I will get rid of
him. Go into the house, and do your lessons.'

"So Rosalie went into the house and did her lessons. When her father
came in she asked, 'How did you get rid of him, father?'

"Then her father answered: 'I did not get rid of him, Rosalie. He was
John, the coachman, coming home from the village with some red blankets.
Neither was it an Indian you saw in the tree, but only a red heron, and
remember, I do not want you ever again to tell me a thing until you are
quite sure it is true. Now, run off and play.'--THE END."

       *       *       *       *       *

"A very nice little story," said Miss Warren, smiling approvingly, as
Winifred paused; "I shall certainly use it in my book."

"I wanted her to make it longer," observed Lulu regretfully, "but she
said she couldn't possibly think of another word to say."

[Note.--The above stories were written word for word by two little girls
eight and ten years of age.]

"It has a good moral at any rate," laughed Lord Carresford, "and that is
more than can be said for every story. Are you going in, Miss Warren?"

"I have a little writing to do this morning," the blind lady explained,
rising, and folding up her knitting as she spoke, "and Mrs. Randall is
coming in half an hour for my music lesson. Are you going to the beach,
Lulu?"

"No; mamma thinks it too hot on the beach to-day, and Mrs. Hamilton
doesn't want Winifred to go either. We've asked Betty and Jack over
here, and mamma says we may have lemonade and cookies by and by."

"Lulu," said Lord Carresford, as the screen door closed behind Miss
Warren, "who is Mrs. Randall?"

"Why, don't you know? She's Betty and Jack's mother, and she gives Aunt
Daisy music lessons. She's a splendid music teacher, every one says so."

"I did not know their name was Randall," said Lord Carresford, looking
interested, though a little troubled as well. "They are English, are
they not?"

"Mrs. Randall is, but Betty and Jack were born in this country. Their
father died when Jack was only two, and they were very poor. Mrs.
Randall doesn't like to have them talk about it; she's a very proud
lady."

At that moment Winifred announced that the Randalls were approaching,
and the two little girls ran off across the lawn to meet their friends.

"Jack," said Lord Carresford, sitting down beside the little boy, when
he had assisted in placing him comfortably in the big steamer chair,
"did you say anything to your mother about what I told you yesterday
afternoon?"

Jack's eyes fell, and the color rose in his cheeks.

"N--no, sir," he faltered; "I told Betty, and we decided it would be
better not to say anything to mother about it. You see, she'd be so very
sorry not to be able to let me have the lessons."

"And have you no relations who could afford to help you--no uncles or
aunts, for instance?"

Jack shook his head.

"We haven't any relations at all," he said mournfully, "only an uncle in
England, and we don't know him."

"Don't know him, eh; but your mother knows him, doesn't she?"

"Oh, yes, at least she used to; he's her brother, you know, but we've
never seen him, and mother doesn't like to have us talk much about him,
because it makes her sad."

"What is your uncle's name?" Lord Carresford spoke quickly, and there
was a kind of suppressed excitement in his manner, which surprised Jack
very much.

"His name is Mr. John Stanhope," said Jack proudly; "I am named for him.
My grandfather was General Stanhope, and we have another uncle, who is
a--but, oh, I forgot; mother said we mustn't talk about him."

Lord Carresford rose hurriedly. He had suddenly grown very pale.

"Is your mother at home now?" he asked in a voice so odd and unsteady
that Jack stared at him in growing bewilderment.

"Yes, I think she is," he said slowly; "she's coming over here pretty
soon to give Miss Warren her music lesson. Don't you feel very well,
sir?"

"Yes, yes, my boy, I am all right. I must see your mother, that is all.
I--I think I used to know her long ago in England."

"Did you really?" inquired Jack, his face brightening. "Oh, I'm very
glad. Perhaps you knew our Uncle Jack too, and can tell us where he
lives."

At that moment Betty's voice was heard from the other end of the
piazza. "Here comes mother, Jack."

Lord Carresford turned his head; took a few hurried steps forward, and
then stood still, gazing at the figure of the tall lady rapidly
approaching across the lawn. He was very white, but there was a strange,
glad light in his eyes. All unconscious of the stranger's eager scrutiny
the lady had almost reached the piazza steps before the sound of Betty's
voice caused her to raise her eyes. Then suddenly her glance met that of
Lord Carresford, and, with a low cry, she started forward with both
hands outstretched.

"Jack," she gasped, "oh, Jack!" And then all at once her strength seemed
to fail her, and she sank down on the lowest step, shaking from head to
foot, while every particle of color went out of her face.

Ten minutes later Mrs. Bell and Mrs. Hamilton, who were spending a
pleasant morning together in the latter's room at the hotel, were
startled by the sudden and violent opening of the door, and the
precipitate entrance of Lulu and Winifred, both hatless, breathless, and
almost beside themselves with excitement.

"Oh, mamma, mamma," cried Lulu, flinging herself upon her astonished
mother, "the most wonderful, exciting, extraordinary thing has
happened! Lord Carresford is kissing Mrs. Randall on our piazza, and
she's got her arms round his neck, and is laughing and crying both at
the same time. We don't know what it all means, but we told Aunt Daisy,
and she said we'd better come for you."



CHAPTER XVI

UNCLE JACK


"I think it's the most interesting thing that ever happened in all our
lives," remarked Lulu in a tone of conviction. "To think of Lord
Carresford's turning out to be Betty's own uncle, and we never knowing a
thing about it."

It was late in the afternoon, and the two little girls were sitting in
their favorite spot on the bathing house steps, discussing the events of
the day.

"It is very interesting," said Winifred, with a little sigh of content.
"It's really quite like a book thing; don't you think so?"

"Just as interesting things happen really as they do in books," said
Lulu with superior wisdom. "Aunt Daisy says truth is stranger than
fiction, and she ought to know, because she writes books herself. Lots
of interesting things have happened to us, but I don't think anything
was ever quite so wonderful as this one."

"I should think Betty and Jack would be just crazy. I know I should be
if a lord turned out to be my uncle, especially if he were as nice as
Lord Carresford."

"Just think," said Winifred reflectively, "the Rossiters said their
mother was surprised we were allowed to be so intimate with Betty,
because we didn't know anything about her family. Won't they be
surprised when they hear all about it. I don't suppose the Randalls will
be any different now they know they've got a lord for a relation, though
it would be enough to make some people rather stuck up; don't you think
it would? You remember how stuck up Elsie Carleton was that time her
uncle's sister-in-law married a duke's son."

"Bother Elsie Carleton," retorted Lulu with scorn. "Betty isn't that
kind of a person, or Jack either."

"Do you suppose they'll go to England and live in a castle?" Winifred
inquired in a rather awestruck tone.

"I suppose so; Lord Carresford is dreadfully rich, you know, and if he
shouldn't ever happen to get married, why, Jack would inherit his title,
and be a lord too."

"He'd rather be an artist, I think," said Winifred, "or a general, like
his grandfather. Oh, here they come; now they'll tell us all about it."

There was certainly no appearance of lofty superiority about the
Randalls, as they came hurrying along the sand, Betty pushing Jack's
go-cart as usual, and their greeting to their friends was very much as
it had been that morning, before they had, as Lulu expressed it, "found
out they had a lord for a relation."

"We're so awfully glad you've come," said Lulu joyfully, helping Jack
out of the go-cart, while Winifred hastily improvised a seat for him in
the sand. "We wanted to go over to see you, but mamma and Mrs. Hamilton
said we mustn't. They thought your mother and Lord Carresford might have
a great many things to talk about, and wouldn't want us around."

"They've been talking all the afternoon in mother's room," said Betty,
"and Jack and I stayed out on the piazza, but a little while ago they
called us in, and told us about everything. You can't think how pretty
mother looks; her eyes are just shining, and she's got such a lovely
color in her cheeks."

"I should think she would be glad," said Lulu comprehendingly. "Does it
feel funny to be so very rich, Betty?"

Betty laughed and blushed.

"We're not so very rich," she said modestly. "We shouldn't have been
rich at all, only that our grandfather was sorry just before he died,
and wanted to make another will, and leave some of his money to mother.
He told Uncle Jack, and he was very glad, and sent right off for a
lawyer, but our grandfather, who was very ill, didn't live till the
lawyer came. But Uncle Jack promised he would try to find mother, and
make it all right about the money. That's what he came to this country
for, but, you see, the trouble was he didn't know what part of America
father and mother had come to. He didn't even know that father was dead.
Mother never heard Lord Carresford's name until she saw him, standing on
your piazza, but even if she had she wouldn't have known he was Uncle
Jack, because she had never heard of the other two Lord Carresfords
being dead."

"I think it's the loveliest thing I ever heard of," said Winifred, "just
think, Jack, you'll live in a castle with a park, like little Lord
Fauntleroy."

"And mother won't have to work any more," said Jack, with sparkling
eyes, "and Betty will be a lady when she grows up, the kind of lady I
wanted her to be. Oh, I'm so happy, I feel as if I should like to fly."

"When father and mother first came home from California I used to think
it must be a dream," said Winifred, "but it was all true, and so is this
lovely thing about your Uncle Jack." And Winifred slipped her kind
little hand lovingly into that of her friend.

Jack gave the small fingers an appreciative squeeze.

"There's only one thing I'm sorry about," he whispered shyly, "and that
is that when we go to England to live we won't see you any more, not
unless you come over there to see us some time."

"Perhaps we shall," said Winifred hopefully. "If we do will you ask us
to stay at your castle?"

"Of course, and--I say, Winnie, when I grow up--I shall be able to walk
like other people then, you know--I'll come over here to see you,
and--and I'll marry you if you want me to. I like you better than any
other girl in the world except Betty."

"There's mother beckoning to me; I must go right away," exclaimed
Winifred, starting to her feet, and looking extremely red. "Good-night,
Jack; good-night, Betty and Lulu." And away flew the little girl, never
pausing or looking back until she was safely at her mother's side.

"I wonder what made Winifred leave in such a hurry," remarked Lulu,
looking after her friend in some surprise, but Jack did not offer any
explanation.

"Well, Jack, my boy," said Lord Carresford, joining his little nephew on
the boarding house piazza that evening after dinner, and laying his hand
affectionately on his shoulder, "what makes you look so serious? No more
difficulties about drawing lessons, eh?"

"Oh, Uncle Jack, I'm so very happy; I was just thinking how beautiful
everything is, and I was wishing----"

"Well, what were you wishing?" his uncle asked smiling, as Jack paused.

"Only that everybody else in the world might be happy too."

"Rather a big wish, isn't it, my boy? but your mother and I have been
talking things over just now, and we have a plan, which I think may give
some of your little friends pleasure. You know you are to leave this
house the day after to-morrow; now where should you like best to go?"

"On board the yacht," said Jack unhesitatingly.

"Well, that is just where we are thinking of going. I want to take your
mother for a short cruise to the coast of Maine, and I propose that we
invite the Bells and Hamiltons to go with us. I believe Dr. Bell and Mr.
Hamilton both talk of taking vacations next week."

Jack's eyes danced with delight.

"I think," he said, with a sigh of deep content, "that it would be the
very nicest thing that could possibly happen."

That evening Lord Carresford had a long talk with his friends Dr. and
Mrs. Bell, the result of which was that three days later "his
lordship's" yacht was gliding smoothly out of the harbor, bound for the
coast of Maine, and carrying on board four very happy children.

"When I said I wished I could go to sea in a yacht the day we were
shipwrecked, I never dreamed it would really happen," remarked Lulu,
surveying her new surroundings with an expression of intense
satisfaction. "I think it's really quite remarkable the way things
happen sometimes."

"I wish your mother and aunt could have come too," said Winifred a
little regretfully. "I don't believe anybody could really be seasick in
this lovely place."

"It isn't always as smooth as this," returned Lulu, remembering past
experiences of Father Ocean. "You see it isn't very comfortable for
people to go on yachts when they are apt to be seasick. Mamma and Aunt
Daisy were both dreadfully seasick when we went to Europe."

"I hope you won't be homesick," said Betty anxiously. "You haven't ever
been away from your mother before, have you?"

"No, but I sha'n't be, I know. It's only for a week, and I'm going to
write her a letter every day, and one to Aunt Daisy too. Then I've got
papa, you know, and Mrs. Hamilton is going to take care of me."

"And no one could possibly be homesick with my mother," added Winifred,
with an adoring glance at Mrs. Hamilton, who was sitting near by,
chatting with Mrs. Randall.

"Well, young people, are you having a good time?" Lord Carresford
inquired, sauntering up to the group.

"Yes, indeed we are," came in chorus from all four voices.

"Come with me to the other side of the boat, and we'll have a last look
at Sandy Hook. Do you want to come too, Jack?"

"No, thank you," said the little boy, smiling happily; "I'd rather
sit here; it's so comfortable."

[Illustration: "I'm the happiest boy in the world," said Jack.--_Page
219_.]

Lord Carresford and the three little girls moved away to the other side
of the yacht, and were soon joined by Dr. Bell and Mr. and Mrs.
Hamilton.

"Are you happy, Jack, darling?" Mrs. Randall whispered, bending down to
kiss the radiant little face, when the two were left alone together.

"Oh, mother, I'm the happiest boy in the world," said Jack, softly
stroking his mother's hand, and laying his cheek against it. "All the
beautiful things I've ever dreamed about have come true. I used to think
that if I could only walk I would never wish for anything else, and now
that's happened, and such lots and lots of other nice things too. We've
found Uncle Jack, and I'm going to be an Englishman and an artist; and
Betty's going to be a lady. Oh, mother, dear, doesn't it all seem just
like a fairy story that's come true?"

THE END



+Only Dollie+

By Nina Rhoades Illustrated by Bertha Davidson Square 12mo Cloth $1.00

This is a brightly written story of a girl of twelve, who, when the
mystery of her birth is solved, like Cinderella, passes from drudgery to
better circumstances. There is nothing strained or unnatural at any
point. All descriptions or portrayals of character are life-like, and
the book has an indescribable appealing quality which wins sympathy and
secures success.

[Illustration]

     "It is delightful reading at all times."--_Cedar Rapids (Ia.)
     Republican_.

     "It is well written, the story runs smoothly, the idea is good,
     and it is handled with ability."--_Chicago Journal_.


+The Little Girl Next Door+

By Nina Rhoades Large 12mo Cloth Illustrated by Bertha Davidson $1.00

A delightful story of true and genuine friendship between an impulsive
little girl in a fine New York home and a little blind girl in an
apartment next door. The little girl's determination to cultivate the
acquaintance, begun out of the window during a rainy day, triumphs over
the barriers of caste, and the little blind girl proves to be in every
way a worthy companion. Later a mystery of birth is cleared up, and the
little blind girl proves to be of gentle birth as well as of gentle
manners.


+Winifred's Neighbors+

By Nina Rhoades Illustrated by Bertha G. Davidson Large 12mo Cloth $1.00

[Illustration]

Little Winifred's efforts to find some children of whom she reads in a
book lead to the acquaintance of a neighbor of the same name, and this
acquaintance proves of the greatest importance to Winifred's own family.
Through it all she is just such a little girl as other girls ought to
know, and the story will hold the interest of all ages.


+The Children on the Top Floor+

By Nina Rhoades Large 12mo Cloth Illustrated by Bertha Davidson $1.00

[Illustration]

In this book little Winifred Hamilton, the child heroine of "Winifred's
Neighbors," reappears, living in the second of the four stories of a New
York apartment house. On the top floor are two very interesting
children, Betty, a little older than Winifred, who is now ten, and Jack,
a brave little cripple, who is a year younger. In the end comes a glad
reunion, and also other good fortune for crippled Jack, and Winifred's
kind little heart has once more indirectly caused great happiness to
others.


+How Barbara Kept Her Promise+

By Nina Rhoades Large 12mo Cloth Illustrated by Bertha Davidson $1.00

Two orphan sisters, Barbara, aged twelve, and little Hazel, who is "only
eight," are sent from their early home in London to their mother's
family in New York. Faithful Barbara has promised her father that she
will take care of pretty, petted, mischievous Hazel, and how she tries
to do this, even in the face of great difficulties, forms the story
which has the happy ending which Miss Rhoades wisely gives to all her
stories.


+Little Miss Rosamond+

By Nina Rhoades Illustrated by Bertha G. Davidson Large 12mo Cloth $1.00

[Illustration]

Rosamond lives in Richmond, Va., with her big brother, who cannot give
her all the comfort that she needs in the trying hot weather, and she
goes to the seaside cottage of an uncle whose home is in New York. Here
she meets Gladys and Joy, so well known in a previous book, "The Little
Girl Next Door," and after some complications are straightened out,
bringing Rosamond's honesty and kindness of heart into prominence, all
are made very happy.

_For sale by all booksellers or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publishers_

LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO., BOSTON





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