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Title: When Life Was Young - At the Old Farm in Maine
Author: Stephens, C. A. (Charles Asbury), 1844-1931
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "When Life Was Young - At the Old Farm in Maine" ***

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  When Life Was Young

  At the Old Farm in Maine





  _Copyright_, 1912

  _All rights reserved_

  _Electrotyped and Printed by
  C. H. Simonds & Co., Boston, U.S.A._




  Readers of the Youth's Companion





  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE

          THE FARM ON THE PENNESSEEWASSEE                              1

       I. A NOSE IN COMMON                                             5

      II. WHITE SUNDAY                                                13

     III. MONDAY AT THE OLD FARM                                      28

      IV. OUR FIRST JERSEY COW                                        47


      VI. THE VERMIFUGE BOTTLE                                        72

     VII. IMMERSING THE LAMBS                                         94

    VIII. "OLD THREE-LEGS"                                           106

      IX. HOMESICK AGAIN. BLUE, OH, SO BLUE                          119

       X. MUG-BREAD, PONES AND JOHNNY-REB TOAST                      128

      XI. THE BIRDS AND BIRD-SONGS AT THE OLD FARM                   136

     XII. TWO VERY EARLY CALLERS--EACH ON BUSINESS                   153


     XIV. "THERE IS A MAN IN ENGLAND, NAMED DARWIN"                  176

          HUMAN NATURE IN IT                                         187


    XVII. HAYING TIME                                                218

   XVIII. APPLE-HOARDS                                               227


      XX. CEDAR BROOMS AND A NOBLE STRING OF TROUT                   255

     XXI. TOM'S FORT                                                 268

    XXII. HIGH TIMES                                                 286

   XXIII. THE THRASHERS COME                                         297

    XXIV. GOING TO THE CATTLE SHOW                                   308

     XXV. THE WILD ROSE SWEETING                                     321


   XXVII. AT THE OLD SLAVE'S FARM                                    340

  XXVIII. THE OLD SQUIRE'S PANTHER STORY                             384

    XXIX. THE OUTLAW DOGS                                            397

          VISITED US UNINVITED                                       410

When Life Was Young

       *       *       *       *       *


Away down East in the Pine Tree State, there is a lake dearer to my
heart than all the other waters of this fair earth, for its shores were
the scenes of my boyhood, when Life was young and the world a romance
still unread.

Dearer to the heart;--for then glowed that roseate young joy and faith
in life and its grand possibilities; that hope and confidence that great
things can be done and that the doing of them will prove of high avail.
For such is ever our natural, normal first view of life; the clear young
brain's first vision of this wondrous bright universe of earth and sky;
the first picture on the sentient plate of consciousness, and the true
one, before error blurs and evil dims it; a joy and a faith in life
which as yet, on this still imperfect earth of ours, comes but once,
with youth.

The white settlers called it the Great Pond; but long before they came
to Maine, the Indians had named it Pennesseewassee, pronounced
Penny-see-was-see, the lake-where-the-women-died, from the Abnaki words,
penem-pegouas-abem, in memory, perhaps, of some unhistoric tragedy.

From their villages on the upper Saco waters, the Pequawkets were
accustomed to cross over to the Androscoggin and often stopped at this
lake, midway, to fish in the spring, and again in winter to hunt for
moose, then snowbound in their "yards." On snowshoes, or paddling their
birch canoes along the pine-shadowed streams, these tawny,
pre-Columbian warriors came and camped on the Pennesseewassee; we still
pick up their flint arrow-heads along the shore; and it may even be that
the short, brown Skraellings were here before them, in neolithic days.

There are two ponds, or lakes, of this name, the Great and the Little
Pennesseewassee, the latter lying a mile and a half to the west of the
larger expanse and connected with it by a brook.

To the northeast, north and west, the land rises in long, picturesque
ridges and mountains of medium altitude; and still beyond and above
these, in the west and northwest, loom Mt. Washington, Madison,
Kearsarge and other White Mountain peaks.

The larger lake is a fine sheet of water, five miles in length,
containing four dark-green islets; and the view from its bosom is one of
the most beautiful in this our State-of-Lakes.

Hither, shortly after the "Revolution," came the writer's
great-grandfather, poor in purse; for he had served throughout that
long, and at times hopeless struggle for liberty. In payment he had
received a large roll of "Continental Money," all of which would at that
time have sufficed, scarcely, to procure him a tavern dinner. No
"bounties," no "pensions," then stimulated the citizen soldiery. With
little to aid him save his axe on his shoulder, the unremunerated
patriot made a clearing on the slopes, looking southward upon the lake;
and here, after some weeks, or months, of toil, he brought his young
family, consisting of my great-grandmother and two children. They came
up the lake in a skiff, fashioned from a pine log. Landing on a still
remembered rock, it is said that the ex-soldier turned about, and taking
the roll of Continental scrip from his pocket, threw it far out into the
water, exclaiming,--

"So much for soldiering! But here, by the blessing of God, we will have
a home yet!"

While going through the forest from the lake up to the clearing, a
distance of a mile or more, they lost their way, for night had fallen,
and after wandering for an hour, were obliged to sleep in the woods
beneath the boughs of a pine; and it was not till the next forenoon that
they found the clearing and the little log house in which my
great-grandmother began her humble housekeeping.

Other settlers made their way hither; and other farms were cleared.
Indians and moose departed and came no more. Then followed half a
century of robust, agricultural life, on a virgin soil. The boys grew
large and tall; the girls were strong and handsome. It was a hearty and
happy era.

But no happy era is enduring; the young men began to take what was
quaintly called "the western fever," and leave the home county for
greater opportunities in Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa. The young women,
too, went away in numbers to work in the cotton factories at Lowell,
Lawrence and Biddeford; few of them came back; or if they returned, they
were not improved in health, or otherwise.

The third son of the Revolutionary soldier and pioneer remained at the
old farm and lived on alone there after his own sons had left home, to
enter other and less certain avocations than farming.

Then came war again, the terrible Civil War, when every one of these
sons, true to their soldier ancestry, entered the army of the Republic.
Of the five not one survived that murderous conflict. And so it happened
that we, the grandchildren, war waifs and orphaned, came back in 1865-6,
to live at grandfather's old farm on the Pennesseewassee.

We came from four different states of the Union, and two of us had never
before even seen the others. It is, therefore, not remarkable that at
first there were some small disagreements, due to our different ideas of

We were, of course, a great burden upon the old folks, who were
compelled to begin life over again, so to speak, on our account. At the
age of sixty-five grandfather set himself to till the farm on a larger
scale, and to renew his lumbering operations, winters. Grandmother, too,
was constrained to increase her dairy, her flocks of geese and other
poultry, and to begin anew the labor of spinning and knitting.

It is but fair to say, however, that we all--with one exception,
perhaps--had a decent sense of the obligations we incurred, and on most
occasions, I believe, we did what we could to aid in the labors of the

Much as we added to the burdens of our grandparents, I can now see that
our coming lent fresh zest to their lives; they had something new to
live for; they took hold of life again, for another ten years.

Ten years of youth.

It was Life's happy era with us, full of hopes and plans for the future,
full, too, of those many jolts which young folks get from inexperience,
nor yet free from those mistakes which all of us make, when we first set
off on Life's journey. Like some bright panorama it passes on Memory's
walls, so many pictures of that hopeful young life of ours at the old
farm, as we grew up together, getting an education, or the rudiments of
one, at the district school, and later at the village Academy, Kent's
Hill Seminary and Bowdoin College.

And later I may try to relate how we came out and what we are still
doing in life.



It was on a sunny, windy May afternoon, late in the month, that the old
gentleman drove to the railway station, eight miles from the farm, to
fetch home the writer of this narrative. Till that day I had never seen
either of my grandparents. But I knew that grandfather was to meet me at
the station, and immediately on getting out of the car, I saw an erect,
rather tall, elderly man with white hair and blue eyes, peering over the
crowd, as if on the lookout for a boy. The instinctive stir of kinship
made me sure who he was; but from some childish bashfulness I did not
like to go directly to him and came around from one side, then touched
his arm. He glanced down. "Are you looking for a small fellow like me,
sir?" I asked.

"Yes, yes!" he exclaimed and laughed.

He looked at me searchingly, and his face grew sorrowful as he gazed.

"Yes, you are poor Edmund's boy. You've your father's forehead and eyes.
Well, well, my son, I am glad to see you, and I hope you will like with
us. You are coming to your father's old home, where he used to live when
he was a boy. Your grandmother will be glad to see you; and you must not
think of such a thing as being homesick. Your cousins are there; and
there will be plenty of things to take up your mind."

I hastened to say that I was thankful for the home he was giving me, and
that I had come to work and pay my way. (My mother had fully explained
the situation to me.)

Grandfather smiled and looked at me again. "Yes, you are quite a boy!"
he said. "If you are as good a boy as your father was, your coming may
prove a blessing instead of an additional tax on us."

I felt much gratified that he considered me "quite a boy," and said that
I knew so many of us must be a great care; but that I meant to do my
best and to take my father's place with him, if he ever needed a son.
(More of my good mother's ideas, rather than my own, I am afraid.)
Unwittingly I had touched a pleasant chord, albeit a sad one.
Grandfather grasped me by the hand, and I saw that his worn blue eyes
had moistened.

I drew out my baggage check and ran to get my small trunk, which I
dragged forward while grandfather backed the wagon up to the platform.
We drove off much reassured in each other; and I remember still that the
old gentleman's kind words stirred me to an impulsive boyish resolve
never to disappoint his confidence; but it was a resolve that I often
lost sight of in the years that followed.

Presently our road led along the shore of the Pennesseewassee, past
woodland and farms, mile on mile, with the lake often in sight. I was
much interested in watching the loons, and also a long raft of peeled
hemlock logs which four men were laboriously poling down the lake to the

After a time grandfather began to talk more cheerily; he spoke of
farming and of town affairs to me as if I were older; and once or twice
he called me Edmund, although that was not my name; but I did not
correct the mistake; I thought that I could do that some other time.

"There will be six of you now," he said, "six cousins, all in one
family; and all not far from the same age." Then he asked me my age.
"Twelve, almost thirteen," I replied. "Why, I thought you were
fourteen," he said. "Well, now Addison is fifteen, or sixteen, and
Theodora is near fourteen. Addison is a good boy and a boy of character,
studious and scholarly. I do not know what his learning may lead to;
sometimes I am afraid that he is imbibing infidelic doctrines; but he is
a boy of good principles whom I would trust in anything. He is your
Uncle William's son, you know, and came to our house two years ago,
after his father's death at Shiloh. Theodora came at about the same
time; she is your Aunt Adelaide's daughter. Poor Adelaide had to send
her home to me after your Uncle Robert's death at Chancellorsville.
Theodora is a noble-hearted child, womanly and considerate in all her
ways; and she is as good a scholar as Addison.

"Then there's Halstead." Grandfather paused; and looking up in his face,
I saw that a less cheery expression had come there. "Sometimes I do not
know what to do with Halstead," grandfather remarked, at last. "He is a
strange boy and has a very unsteady disposition. He came to us after
your Uncle Henry's death. Your Uncle Henry and Uncle Charles both lost
their lives in the Gettysburg fight. O this has been a terrible war! But
what we have gained may be worth the sacrifice; I hope so! I hope so!"
exclaimed the old gentleman, fervently.

"How old is Halstead?" I asked, after a silence of some minutes.

"He is fifteen; and your little cousins, Ellen and Wealthy, are twelve
and nine," replied the old gentleman, resuming his account of my cousins
to me. "They are your Uncle Charles' little girls, good dutiful children
as one would ever need to have."

It was a long drive. At length the road, bending round the north end of
the lake, led for half a mile or more up an easy hill. Here, on either
hand, fields, inclosed with wide stone walls, were now beginning to
show green a little through the dry grass of last year. Other fields,
ploughed and planted, faintly disclosed long rows of corn, just breaking
ground, presided over by tutelar scarecrows which drummed on pans and
turned glittering bits of tin as the breeze played over them.

"We have lately finished planting," grandfather explained to me. "The
crows are very bold this spring. Halstead and Addison have been
displaying their ingenuity out there, to frighten them off."

At some distance below the farm buildings, we entered between rows of
apple trees, on both sides of the walled road, trees so large and leafy,
that they quite shut out the fields. These were now in blossom.

"To-morrow will be White Sunday," grandfather remarked, as old Sol (the
farm horse) toiled up the long hill. "Nature's own bright Whitsuntide,
never brighter, despite war and mourning."

The great trees stood like huge bouquets; their peculiar, heavy odor
loaded the air, which resounded to the deep, musical hum of thousands of
bees. The near report of a gun rang out, followed by a great uproar of

"The boys are scaring them out of the wheat-field," said grandfather.

I was looking for the house, when old Sol turned in before a high
gate-frame of squared timber, overhung by the apple trees (we sometimes
walked across on the top timber from one tree into the other), and I
jumped down to open the gate. "Pull out the pin," grandfather said. I
did so, and the gate swung of its own accord, disclosing a grassy lane,
marked with wheel-ruts. The farm buildings stood at the head of the
lane; a two-story house, large on the ground, lately painted straw
color. Three great Balm o' Gilead trees towered over it. A long
wood-shed led from the house to a new stable, with a gilt vane and
cupola, which showed off somewhat to the disadvantage of the two larger
barns beyond it; for the latter were barns of the old times, high-posted
with roofs of low pitch, and weathered from long conflicts with storms.
Around them, like stunted children, clustered sheds, sties and a
top-heavy corn-crib, stilted on four long, smooth legs.

Two boys, one carrying a gun, were coming in from the field; and I saw
girls' faces at the front windows.

We drove in at the open door of the stable; and while we were alighting
from the wagon, grandmother came out to welcome me and see, I suppose,
what manner of lad I was. The two boys, larger than myself and bearing
little resemblance to each other, approached to unharness the horse;
they regarded me casually, without much apparent interest; and a sense
of being an utter stranger there fell on me. I hardly ventured to glance
at grandmother, who took me by both hands and looked earnestly in my
face. I feared that she would kiss me before the others and durst not
look at her. "Yes," I heard her say, in a low voice, "it is Edmund's own
boy." She led the way into the house, through the long wood-shed and
ell. Supper was waiting; and after a hasty wash at a long sink in the
wood-shed, I followed grandfather through the kitchen to the room beyond
it, where the large round table was spread. The family all came in and
sat down. I still felt very strange to the place; but a glance into
grandmother's kind face reassured me a little.

Grandmother, as I remember her, was then fair and plump, with hair
partially gray, and a tinge of recent sadness upon a face naturally
genial. With a quiet sigh, she seated me next to her--a sigh for the
last of her boys.

"They are all here now, father," she said, "the last one has come. It's
a strange thing to see them coming as they have and know why they have

My cousins were regarding me with a kind of curious sympathy. I picked
out Halstead at a glance: a boy with a rather low forehead, dark
complexion and a round head, which his short clipped hair caused to
appear still more spherical. A hare-lip, never appropriately treated,
gave his mouth a singular, grieved droop; but, as if in contradiction to
this, his eyes were black and restless. The contrast with the steady
gray eyes, and high forehead of the boy sitting next to him, was as
great as could well be imagined.

As a boy, I naturally looked at the boys first; but while doing so, I
knew that a girl in a black dress, was regarding me in a kind, cousinly
way, a girl with a large, fair face, calm gray-blue eyes and a profusion
of light golden hair. Grandfather's remark, that Theodora was "a
noble-hearted child," came back to me with my first glance at her.

Two smaller girls, who frequently left their chairs, to wait on the
table, were sitting at grandmother's left hand; girls with brown eyes,
brown hair, and rosy faces, one larger than the other; these were Ellen
and Wealthy.

"They don't look much alike," said grandmother, looking at us all, over
her glasses. "One never would mistrust they were cousins."

The old gentleman contemplated us kindly. "Only their noses," said he.
"Their noses are somewhat alike."

Grandmother looked again, _through_ her glasses this time.

"So they are!" cried she. "They've all got your nose, Joseph;" and the
old lady laughed; and we all laughed a little oddly and looked at
grandfather and laughed again. I think we felt a little better
acquainted after that; we had, at least, a nose in common. But even our
laughter that evening was distrait, or seemed to me so, as if shadowed
by something sad.

As evening drew on, we all, save Halstead, gathered in the front
sitting-room without lights; for the windows were open; and there was a
hazy moon. Theodora sat at one window, looking off upon the lake; while
Ellen slowly and rather imperfectly played tunes on a melodeon, lively
tunes, I believe, but the old instrument seemed to me to be weeping and
wailing to us under a mask of pretended music. Beyond doubt I was a
little homesick and tired from my journey; and after a time grandmother
lighted a candle to show me the way up-stairs to bed. I remember feeling
disappointed when she told me that I was to sleep with Halstead. The
latter had come in and followed us up-stairs. He seemed surprised at
finding me in his room.

"Thought you was going to roost with Ad," said he. "Heard the old gent
say so. Guess Ad has been whining to the grandmarm not to have you. He
is a regular old Betty. 'Fraid you'll upset some of his precious

"What are they?" I asked.

"Don't know much about them. I don't go near him, and he keeps his door
fastened. Lets Doad and Nell in once in awhile. No admittance to me.

"Hold on a bit!" he exclaimed, suddenly. "Don't sit down on the side o'
the bed just yet. There's (feeling under the bed-clothes) something soft
in there. Here 'tis (drawing out half a large apple pie). Have a piece?"

Not liking to commit myself to pie under such dubious circumstances, I
said that I guessed not. Halstead began eating it without further

"I always want a luncheon before I go to bed," he explained, between
mouthfuls. "The old folks think it's hurtful to eat and go right to
sleep. I don't; and I generally manage to get a bite stowed away during
the day."

I inquired how he managed it.

"Oh, watch my chance at the cupboard. 'Bout three o'clock in the
afternoon is a pretty good time. Women-folks all in the sitting-room

While Halstead was finishing the pie, I got into bed, taking the farther
side. There was a shockingly hard lump under my back and after trying in
vain to adapt myself to it, I asked Halstead if he knew what it was.

"Oh! I forgot that," said he; and coming round, he made another
investigation in the straw bed and took out an old pistol, a very large,
long one.

"It is loaded!" I exclaimed, for I caught sight of the bright brass cap.

"Course 'tis," said he. "What's the good of a pistol, if you don't load
it? I had a pair. They're hoss pistols. But the old gent don't 'prove of
pistols. He nabbed the other one. I have to keep this one hid."

"I should think they would find it when they make the bed," said I.

"Oh, the grandmarm don't stir the straw very often. She's kind o' fat.
It tires her, I expect. After she's stirred it once, I know I'm safe to
put things in there for quite a spell."

After secreting the pistol in the leg of an old boot, Halstead came to
bed, and was asleep in a few moments. Falling asleep almost as soon as
he touched the bed was one of his peculiarities. I, too, was soon



    'Tis Nature's own bright Whitsuntide,
    The bloom of apple-trees.
    The orchards stand like huge bouquets
    And o'er them hum the bees.

My dreams that first night at the old farm were many and disturbing; and
I waked in the morning with a resentful recollection that I had received
not a few hard knocks; but as everything was quiet, I dismissed the
impression; for I had yet to learn that my new bed-fellow was a
spasmodic kicker in his sleep of great range and power.

Erelong grandmother knocked at our chamber door and called us. Halstead
hastily opened his eyes and rose, as suddenly as he had fallen asleep,
without even a preliminary yawn.

"Sunday, isn't it?" said he, as he dressed. "But we don't have to go to
church to-day. It's the Elder's turn to preach at Stoneham; he only
comes here half the time."

After breakfast and after family prayers, Addison, Halstead and I went
out to the garden and there was some effort at a conversation about
blue-birds, a pair of which were building in a box on a pole which had
been set up in the garden wall. But we did not yet feel much acquainted;
Addison soon went back toward the house; Halstead sauntered off among
the apple trees in the orchard, and gradually approached the wall near
the road; then with a swift glance about him, he sprang over and
crouched out of sight behind it.

It occurred to me that he was doing this to initiate a frolic; and after
waiting for a few moments, I drew near the place and peeped over. But he
was not hidden there. Immediately I espied him down the road, evidently
stealing away.

White Sunday, indeed! The orchard was a sunlit wilderness of pink and
white blossoms. Every breath of the breeze shook off showers of them.
The ground grew white beneath the trees. The garden was bordered with
hedges of currant bushes; and within them stood a regiment of bare
bean-poles in line. On the upper side was a bee-house, also a long row
of grape trellises, covered with dry vines, showing here and there a
large, pale green bud.

Presently Theodora came out.

"Alone, cousin?" she asked. "Where are the other boys?"

I told her that Addison had gone into the house.

"And Halstead?"

I replied that he was in the orchard a few minutes ago.

"He's gone now," said she, glancing through the trees. "Let's go find

No long search was necessary. She led the way directly up-stairs to his
room and tapped at the door. There was a moment's skurry inside and a
voice said, "Who's there?"

"Doad,"--with a smile to me.

The key turned and Addison looked out.

"I have brought our new cousin," she said. "Can we come in?"

"Yes," said he, hesitantly, with a backward glance into the room. "Come
in. Halse isn't there, is he?"

"No, Halse has gone, again," said Theodora.

They looked at each other significantly. Addison then opened the door
and bustled about, clearing out chairs for us. The room seemed filled
with things. On one side there was a great cupboard, stuffed, in a
helter-skelter way, with books, papers and magazines. Farther along
stood a bureau upon the top of which were set several bottles. A
hat-tree in the corner had, perched upon it, a stuffed crow, a hawk and
a blue jay with bright glass eyes. A rough shelf had been put up along
one end, on which lay many glistening stones of all sorts and sizes; and
on the bed was a large book, open to some cuts of birds.

"Naughty boy!" exclaimed Theodora, pointing to several loose feathers on
the bed and on the floor. "What did you promise me?"

Addison reddened.

"No, I will not hush it up!" cried Theodora. "You deserve to be exposed!
A youth who breaks his promises! You shall show us what you've been
doing. I know where you have hidden it!" Before he could hinder her, she
threw back the pillow and lo! more feathers and a small white and black
bird! "Ah-ha, sir!" she exclaimed. "Didn't you say that you would not
'mount' another bird, Sunday?"

"Yes, I did, I own I did," said Addison. "But I only got this bobolink
last night. He would spoil, if I let him go till Monday. Besides, I
shall have to work then. And (holding him up) he's such a little beauty
that I couldn't bear to lose him."

This last appeal disarmed Theodora. "We will pass it over this time,"
she said; "but (lowering her voice) you must not 'stuff' birds, Sunday.
Yet now that you've broken the Commandment in your heart, by beginning,
perhaps you might as well finish it. So we will both go off and let you
get through with your wickedness as soon as you can."

"Addison is a real good cousin," Theodora said to me, apologetically, as
we returned to the orchard. "He is one of the nicest boys I ever saw. He
almost never gets angry, and always speaks in a gentlemanly way to
grandfather and grandmother; and he is real good to us girls, whenever
we have anything hard to do, or want to make flower boxes, or spade up
our flower beds. He knows the different kinds of rocks and trees and
flowers, and the birds, too, and all about their nests and where they go
winters. Uncle William, you know, was a teacher, the preceptor of an
Academy; he understood botany and mineralogy and taught Ad when he was a
little boy. Addison means to get a college education, if he can make his
way to do it.

"I should like to get a good education, too," Theodora added after
awhile. "Have you any plans of your own?"

I replied that I had no plans as yet; but that I, too, would like to
attend school.

"We all go to the district school here," said Theodora, "and we can
learn a good deal, if we study well. But I should like to go to a more
advanced school when I get a little older, so that I could be a teacher
myself, perhaps; though I would rather be something else than a
teacher," she added.

"What is that?" I asked.

"Oh, I don't quite like to tell you that just yet," she said.

"I am going to show you the good apple trees," she continued, and led
the way through the orchard. "These three great ones, here below the
garden wall, are Orange Speck trees; they are real nice apples for
winter; and there is the Gilliflower tree. Over here is the Early Sweet
Bough; and that big one is the August Sweeting; and out there are the
three August Pippins. All those away down there toward the road are
Baldwins and Greenings. Those two by the lane wall are None Such trees.
Out there by the corn-field wall are four Sweet Harvey trees and next
below them, two Georgianas. I learned all their names last year. But
this one here by the currant bushes is a Sops-in-wine. Oh, they are so
good! and they get ripe early, too, and so do the August Pippins and the
Harveys and the August Sweetings; they are all nice. Those small trees
just below the barnyard fence are pears, Bartlett pears, luscious ones!
and those vines on the trellises are the Isabella and Concord grapes;
some years grapes don't get ripe up here in Maine; but they did last
year, pretty ripe, in October. Grandfather carried some of them to the
County Fair and lots of the apples; he had over forty different kinds of
fruit on exhibition. We girls went with him and placed the apples and
pears and the grapes on plates, in the Fair building. You will go with
us this year, I suppose.

"All this ground here is planted to beets and carrots and turnips. You
mustn't step on it," my pleasant-voiced cousin admonished me. "And we
will not go up very close to that little shed there. That is the
bee-house. See all those hives! The bees will sometimes sting any one
they don't know. Ad isn't afraid of them; I am not much afraid; they
have never stung me. They sting Halstead like sport, if he goes up in
front of the hives. Grandfather puts on a veil and some gloves and takes
them off the apple tree limbs, when they swarm. Ellen is afraid of them,
too; but Wealthy will go up and sit right down in her little chair,
close by that biggest, old, dark-colored hive. There's an enormous swarm
in that hive; and they send out two or three young swarms every year;
that is one of them in the white, tall hive there at the end of the

"Last year robber bees came out of the woods and attacked that hive with
the red cap-piece on it. Ad watched them all through one day and threw
hot water on the robbers. You'll see lots of excitement here when a
swarm comes out and grandfather has to hive them. They got fifty cents a
pound for the honey one year; but it isn't so high now. In the winter
the hives stand right out in the cold and snowdrifts. In February, last
winter, the drift in front of the shed was higher than the shed itself.
Grandfather stops up the holes into the hives, that's all; and in March,
before the snow is gone, the bees sometimes come out and get the
honey-sap on the birch and maple logs, when the men-folks are working up
the big woodpile in front of the wood-shed."

Ellen and Wealthy saw us talking by the bee-house, and approached the
garden gate. "Come down here, girls, and get acquainted with our new
cousin," Theodora called to them.

"Don't say much to them at first," she continued to me in a lower tone.
"They are bashful."

Being in much the same case, I looked another way while the two girls
joined us, Theodora having for the moment directed my attention to a
tremendously large queen bumble-bee which came booming along the ground
and began burrowing in a little heap of dry grass.

"Halstead says those big bumble-bees are the kings," Wealthy ventured to

"Well, that is not right," said Ellen. "For Ad says they are the

Theodora looked at me and laughed. "You see Ad's word is law," she said.
"But now I want to show you Gram's geese."

We climbed the garden wall and went around a large shed which joined the
"west barn" and then down into a little hollow behind it, where a rill
from a spring had been dammed to form a goose-pond, fifty or sixty feet
across. Near by the pond, in the edge of a potato field, we found the
geese, seven of them and a gander, which latter extended an aquatic,
pink beak and hissed his displeasure at our approach. "Go back, Job!"
Theodora said to him; Wealthy stepped to the rear of the others, being
still a little afraid of "Job." He was a grievous biter, Theodora
informed me, and had bitten her several times, till she had given him a
switching for it.

"Two old geese are sitting on eggs in a goose-house, under the shed,
near the barn," Ellen said. "That's what makes Job so valiant. It's most
time for them to hatch the goslings; Gram has given us strict orders not
to go nigh them."

My new cousins, having undertaken to show me the sights of the farm,
conducted me next to the large old barns, now empty of hay, disclosing
yawning hay bays, weathered brown beams and grain scaffolds.

On this Sabbath morning, the cobwebbed roofs were vocal with the
twitterings of many tireless, happy swallows, whose mud nests were
placed against the dusty ribs and rafters. Three comma-shaped
swallow-holes in the gable gave them access to the inside, where for two
generations of men they had found a safe breeding-place. Less safe and
less fortunate were the eaves swallows, a row of whose mud nests was
placed along one side of the barn, beneath the eaves without; for wind,
sun and rain often caused their nests to fall; crows, too, at times
stole up and plundered them; and weasels playing along the margin of the
roof, had been known to throttle the fledglings.

"He must go and see the 'Little Sea,'" said Ellen.

"Yes, cousin," Theodora said, "you have no doubt heard of the Black Sea
and the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea; but up here at Gramp's we
have a new sea that no geographer has yet put down on the map. It isn't
every day that anybody can discover a new sea, you know."

Ellen and Wealthy led the way across the fields toward the east side of
the farm; we crossed the road and descended through a wide field of
grass land, and came to a broad stone wall, extending for near half a
mile betwixt the fields and the pastures. Here grew a long, irregular
row of wild red cherry trees and black cherry trees, now just past the
season of bloom.

"The cherries off some of these trees are fine to eat," Theodora
remarked as we stood on the wall and looked about. "This one here is
Gramp's tree," she said. "Those off this tree are nearly half as large
as the 'tame' cherries; and this one by the rock is my tree; and those
out by the pine stump are Ellen's and Wealthy's. Halstead claims a whole
row of those higher up; he talks large if any of us rob his trees; but
the birds get the most of them. Ad thinks they are not really fit to eat
and says there is danger in swallowing the stones. We have enough of the
large, tame cherries, too, all through July and until the first of
August. Those trees that you saw along the barnyard fence of the north
barn are the tame cherry trees. The black cherries do not get ripe till
later; October is the month for them. They are nice when real glossy
black and ripe, after the first frosts. The trees are just loaded down
with them, sometimes; and right there, by that double tree, is where
Uncle Henry and Uncle Edmund (your father) saw a bear in the tree, or in
a tree that stood there then; it may not be the same one, but it was a
cherry tree. The bear was up in the tree, getting cherries. He would
reach out and pull in the branches with his paws, and then draw the
little twigs, all covered with cherries, through his big mouth and
scrape off a lot at once. That was what he was doing there, and he had
broken the top of the tree half off. The boys heard the green limbs
creaking and cracking, and the tree shaking under the bear's weight. So
they stole up and stood on the wall to look; and pretty soon they saw
his black hair amongst the leaves; but the bear was so busy eating
cherries that he did not notice them. They had no gun, so they each
picked up a good big stone and both threw at once; and one of them hit
the bear, thump, on his back! It took him by surprise, I expect, and his
mouth being so full of leaves and cherries, he sucked some of them down
the wrong way, maybe; for they said the old fellow gave an awful
cough!--and then started to slide down the tree. At that they both
turned and ran, like sport, for the house; for they imagined the old
bear meant to pay them back for that stone that had hit him."

"Did the bear chase them?" I cried.

"I rather think not," replied Theodora. "I didn't hear that he did."

"Are there bears around here now?" I inquired.

"Not many; they don't come around the buildings now as they did when our
fathers were boys."

"Old 'Three-Legs' comes into the sheep-pasture after the sheep," said

"Yes, and Halstead says he saw him when he was looking for the cows, one
night this spring," said Wealthy.

"Is 'Three-Legs' a bear?" I asked, greatly interested.

"Yes, a very bold, cunning old bear that lost his right foot in a trap
years ago," Ellen explained. "Halstead says he saw him about a month

"Halstead sees lots of bears," said Theodora, laughing. "I suppose there
are a few about, yet," she added. "They come down out of the Great Woods
once in awhile. But Gramp says there is no danger in our going out in
the pastures and the woods around the farm, except perhaps a little
while in the spring, when they first come out of their winter dens and
are very gaunt and hungry."

"Gram doesn't like to have us go off into the woods," said Wealthy.

"I have been all over the pasture and through all these woods here, and
those on the west side of the farm; and once, last November, I went up
to Mud Pond in the Great Woods, with Ad, after beaver-lily root, and I
never saw any bears," said Theodora.

"Nor I either," said Ellen. "But Gram never likes to have us go off

"Where is the 'Great Woods'?" I asked.

"Oh, away off to the north and the west of the farms," replied Theodora.
"Most anything may come out of the Great Woods! It's a realm of mystery.
It extends off to the White Mountains and to the Lakes and toward
Canada. There are deer and moose in it, and 'lucivees.'"

"What are they?" I asked.

"It's a kind of big woods cat," Ellen said. "Some hunters brought out
three which they had shot, last winter; they were as large as dogs and
had pretty little black tufts on their ears, and such great, round,
silvery eyes and such paws, too, with toe-nails an inch long!"

"Addison thinks that there are valuable minerals up in the Great Woods,"
Theodora remarked; "silver and amethysts and tourmalines. The day he and
I and Kate Edwards went after the beaver-lily root, we climbed part way
up a high mountain and on the side of it Ad found rock crystals. Oh,
such beautiful ones! as large as a pear. He says he is going to explore
all those mountains, by and by."

"Are there mountains in the Great Woods?" I inquired.

"Yes, and ponds and brooks full of trout and I don't know what else. I
would like to explore it myself. Addison said that some time, when the
work is well along, we can get up a party and go up there, to explore
and fish and camp out a week. Wouldn't that be fun?"

"But it isn't often that the work is well along," remarked Ellen. "There
is always lots to do here."

"Well, now we must go down to the 'Little Sea,'" said Theodora; and we
descended through the pasture, a large tract of grazing land, partly
bushy, overgrown in many places by high, rank brakes, and at length came
to a brook, running over a sandy bed. Here at a bend was an artificial
pond, formed by a dam, built of stones laid up in a broad wall across
the course of the brook. In one place the wall was six or seven feet in
height; and through a little sluice-way of planks, the water ran in a
slender stream over the dam and fell into a pool below it. The pond was
perhaps a hundred feet in length by forty or fifty in width; a part of
the bottom was sandy and in one place it was over a boy's head in depth.

"This is the famous Little Sea," said Theodora. "Isn't it an extensive
sheet of water?"

"Who built the dam?" I inquired.

"Oh, your father and mine and all the rest of our uncles, grandfather's
first boys, when they were young."

"What did they build it for?" I asked.

"To wash the sheep. They hold the sheep under the stream of water where
it falls over the sluice-way below the dam here," replied Ellen.

"And to learn to swim in," said Wealthy. "They used to swim here when
they were boys; and Ad and Halstead come down here now, Saturday
evenings, for a bath. Doad and Nell and I are going to have us some
bathing suits and come down here, too, so that if ever we go to the
seashore, we may know how to swim."

The older girls laughed indulgently at Wealthy for thus ingenuously
informing me of their projects.

"Well, you needn't laugh," said Wealthy, coloring. "He's our cousin,
isn't he?"

This made me feel so awkward that, to change the subject, I began
skipping stones, and was very glad to have Ellen ask me whether I knew
how to make "whistles." I did not. "I do," said she. "If you will lend
me your pocket-knife, I will show you how."

"But it is Sunday, Nell," said Theodora, smiling.

"So 'tis!" exclaimed Ellen. "I forgot."

"I guess it need be no harm to make just one, now you've spoken of it,"
said Theodora. So the knife being opened, I was instructed how to cut a
stick of green osier, or maple, shape the end, cut and loosen the bark;
and having slipped the bark off, how further to make the requisite
notches, so that the hollow cylinder of bark being replaced, there would
be a whistle of keen, shrill note.

This bit of sylvan handicraft having been explained to me, in detail,
Theodora announced that it was time to return to the house. "Gram does
not approve of our taking too long strolls on Sunday," said she. "But so
long as we do right, I can see no harm in it. Besides, our new cousin
had never seen the farm before and to-morrow he will have to go to work,
I suppose."

"But there's lots more to show him," said Ellen. "He hasn't seen the
house-leek rocks, nor the old cider mill, nor the artichoke flat, nor
the sap-house, nor the colts."

"Nor the other trout brook where Ad caught the mink, nor the wood-chuck
wall, nor the bog where the big mud-turtle lives, nor the blackberry
hill, nor 'the fort.' Why, he hasn't seen hardly anything, yet," Wealthy

"O well, he will have time to see it all, for he is going to live here,
you know," said Theodora. "But now we really ought to go home, for we
must help Gram get up the dinner, and it is past noon already, I think."

We took our way leisurely up through the fields where the wild
strawberries were in bloom, great patches of them, half an acre in
extent, white with the lowly blossoms. The girls carefully marked
certain places, so as to know where to come early in July, when the
grass was grown tall.

"Gramp does not quite like to have us come into the tall grass, after
strawberries," Theodora remarked, "because we trample the grass down and
make it difficult to mow; but Gram always sends us out and sometimes
goes herself."

"And when she goes, I tell you the grass has to catch it!" exclaimed
Wealthy. "She just creeps along and crushes down a whole acre of it at
one time!"

"Yes, Gramp scolded a little about it one day," said Ellen. "He came in
at noon and said to grandma, 'Ruth Ann, I should think that the
Millerites had been creeping through my east field.' He said that to
tease her, because Gram doesn't approve of the Millerites at all.

"'Joseph,' said Gram, pretty short for her, 'I'm afraid your memory's
failing you.'

"'What's my memory got to do with it?' said Gramp.

"'Didn't I put it in the bargain when I married you, that I should be
allowed to go strawberrying in the hay fields just when I wanted to?'
Gram said.

"At that, Gramp began to laugh and said, that if his memory was failing,
there certainly was nothing the matter with grandma's memory; and he
never said another word about the grass; so I guess he did make some
such promise when they were married."

The girls went into the house; and feeling pretty warm from our walk, I
lay down beneath one of the large old Balm o' Gileads. Addison came out
of the sitting-room and asked where we had been. "I was going to ask you
to go down to the 'Little Sea,'" he added, "for a swim before dinner.
But if you have been down there and back, you would be too warm to go
into the water; so I'll lend you a book to read."

He brought me from his room _Cudjo's Cave_, saying that the Old Squire
and Gram might not consider it wholly proper reading for Sunday, but
that it was his most interesting book, in the way of a story.

"Do you call grandfather the 'Old Squire'?" I asked.

"Yes, that is what the folks around here mostly call him," replied
Addison. "So I do. It doesn't sound quite so childish as to be always
saying grandfather, or grandpa.

"Of course," Addison continued, "we expect girls, or little boys, to say
'grandfather,' or 'gramp'; but we boys when we are out among other boys,
have to say the 'Old Squire,' or the 'old man,' or else they would be
laughing at us for milksops. It doesn't do for a boy to seem too
childish, you know.

"But I never like the sound of 'the old man,'" Addison went on coaching
me confidentially. "Sounds disrespectful and sort of rowdy. I don't like
'old gent,' either. But I sometimes speak of grandfather as the old
gentleman and of grandmother, generally, as 'Gram.' So do the girls. She
likes that, too; for some reason she doesn't like to be called
grandmother very well. I guess it makes her feel too old. For fun I
called her 'Ruth' one day. That is her given name, you know. She looked
at me and laughed. 'Addison,' she exclaimed, 'you are getting to be
quite a young man!'

"But I guess if the truth were known," Addison continued sapiently,
"that no oldish people like to be called grandpa and grandma very well,
till they get to be as much as eighty years old. Then they seem to enjoy

Grandmother provided but two meals on Sunday: breakfast at about eight
in the morning, and dinner at three in the afternoon. Consequently we
were sitting down to dinner, with very good appetites, judging the
others by my own, when one seat was seen to be vacant.

"Where's Halstead?" the Old Squire asked.

There was an expectant hush; and again I saw Theodora and Addison glance
across to each other. As no one seemed to know, nothing further was
said. We were half through dinner, when the absent one came quickly
into the kitchen, looking very red and much heated. With a stealthy
glance through the open door into the dining-room, he hastily bathed his
face in cold water, then came in and took his place. His hair was wet,
his collar limp, and altogether he looked like a boy fresh from a hot

"Where have you been, Halstead?" the Old Squire inquired.

"Up in the sheep pasture, sir," said Halstead promptly. "I can't make
but forty-seven lambs, the way I count. There is one gone."

"A very sudden liking for shepherd life," remarked Addison in an
undertone to Theodora.

"What made you run and heat yourself so?" Gram asked him.

"I was afraid I should be late to dinner," answered Halstead with a bold
look, intended for a frank one.

Grandfather looked at him earnestly; but nothing more was said. We all
felt uneasy. Dinner ended rather drearily.

In the evening Theodora read to us several chapters from _Dred_, Mrs.
Stowe's novel. Anti-slavery books were then well nigh sacred at the old
farm. Almost any other work of fiction would hardly have been considered
fit reading for Sunday.



"I shall expect you to work with us on the farm, 'Edmund,'" grandfather
said to me after breakfast. "But you may have this forenoon, to look
about and see the place. Enjoy yourself all you can."

The robins were singing blithely in the orchard. I went thither and I
think it was four robins' nests which I found in as many different apple
trees, one with three, two with four and one with five blue eggs. Is
there anything prettier than the eggs of a robin, in the eyes of a boy?

As I climbed the orchard wall to cross the road, a milk snake was
sunning on the loose stones among the raspberry bushes, the first I had
ever seen; and I bear witness that the ancestral antipathy to the
serpent leaped within me instantly. I beat his head without remorse, ay,
pounded his tail, too, which wriggled prodigiously, and chopped his body
to pieces with sharp stones.

This sorry victory achieved, I set off across the fields to the west
pasture and thence descended to the west brook, where I saw several
trout in a deep hole beneath the decayed logs of a former bridge. With a
mental resolve to come here fishing, as soon as I could procure a hook
and line, I continued onward through a low, swampy tract overgrown with
black alder and at length reached the "colt pasture," upon a cleared
hill. Here a handsome black colt, along with a sorrel and a white one,
was feeding, and at once came racing to meet me, in the hope of a nib
of provender, or salt. Continuing my voyage of discovery, I came to a
tract of woodland beyond the pasture through which a cart road led to a
clearing where there was a small old house, deserted, and also a small
barn. This, as I had yet to learn, was the "Aunt Hannah lot," an
appendage of the farm, which had come into grandfather's possession from
a sister, my great-aunt of that name. Save a field of oats, the land
here was allowed to lie in grass and remain otherwise uncultivated.
Beyond this small outlying farm, there was a dense body of woodland,
which I did not then attempt to penetrate, but made a circuit to the
northward through pasture land and young wood for half a mile or more,
and by and by crossed the road, looking along which to the northwest, I
could see the farmhouses of several of our neighbors.

Still farther around to the north rose a bold, rocky, cleared hill which
I concluded was the sheep pasture. In a wet run along the foot of the
hill was a stretch of what looked to be low, reddish, brushy grass,
which I ascertained later was the "cranberry swale."

Beyond it to the east, a long field curved around the foot of the sheep
pasture; and on the far side of this field there was woodland again,
descending first to the valley of the east brook where lay the "Little
Sea," then ascending a rugged hill.

A boy, like a bee, must needs take his bearings before he can feel quite
at home in a new place. I crossed the valley and climbed the wooded hill
beyond, a distance of nearly a mile and a half from the farmhouse.
Formerly there had been a grand growth of pine here; and there were
still a few pine trees. Numbers of the old stumps and stubs were of
great size. This rugged ridge bore the name of Pine Hill. From the
summit I gained a fine view of the country around, with its farms and
forest tracts, and of the Pennesseewassee stretching away to the
southward; also of the White Mountains in the northwest; while on the
other side of the hill to the east and southeast, lay an extensive bog
and another smaller lake, or pond, known as North Pond.

For half an hour or more I sat upon a pine stump and pored over the
geography of the district with much boyish interest, noting various
hills, farmhouses and other landmarks concerning which I determined to
inquire of Addison.

At length, beginning to feel hungry and bethinking myself that it must
be getting toward noon, I descended from my perch of observation, and
made my way homeward, although it did not seem very much like home to me
as yet. The tramp had done me good in the way of satisfying my "bump of

Reaching the house in advance of the noon hour, I went out with Theodora
to see the eaves swallows again. We counted fifty-seven nests in a row,
each resembling very much a dry cocoanut shell, with a swallow's head
looking out at a little hole on the upper side. Dora pointed out the
nest of one pair which had experienced much ill luck. Three times the
nest had fallen. No sooner would they finish it and have an egg or two,
than down it would fall on the stones below. But their misfortunes had
finally taught the little architects wisdom. They brought hair from the
barnyard and mixed it with their mud, after the manner of mortar, and so
built a nest which successfully adhered.

All this Theodora told me as we stood watching them, coming and going
with cheery, ceaseless twitterings.

"And I think they've got a kind of reason about such things," Theodora
added with a certain tone of candid concession. "Although Gram says it
is only instinct. She doesn't like to have any one say that animals or
birds reason; she thinks it isn't Scriptural."

Just then Ellen came out with the dinner-horn which, after several
dissonant efforts, she succeeded in sounding, to call the Old Squire and
the boys from the field. Theodora and I were so greatly amused at the
odd sound that we burst out laughing; and Ellen, hearing us, was a good
deal mortified. "I don't care!" she exclaimed. "It goes awfully hard; I
haven't got breath enough to quite 'fill' it; and my lip isn't hard
enough. Ad says it takes practice to get up a lip for horn blowing."

Theodora tried it, and elicited a horrible blare. I did not succeed much
better; something seemed to be lacking in my lip, or my lungs. It
required a tremendous head of wind to make the old tube vibrate; at
last, I got it started a-roaring and made the whole countryside hideous
with an outlandish sort of blast. Theodora begged of me to desist.

"We shall have the neighborhood aroused and coming to see what the
matter is," she said. I was so much elated with my success, however,
that I blew a final roar; and just then Addison, Halstead, grandfather
and two hired men came upon the scene, over the wall from the field

"What on earth are you trying to do with that horn?" Halstead called
out. "Do you think we are deaf? I never heard such a noise!"

"It is only our new cousin getting up his lip," said Ellen, scarcely
able to speak for laughing.

Grandfather told me that if they ever organized a brass band thereabout,
I should have the big French horn to play, for I seemed to have the
makings of a tremendous lip. All these little incidents of my first few
days at the farm are enduringly fixed in my memory.

The day proved a warm one; and after dinner I went into the front
sitting-room and looked at the old family pictures: grandfather's father
and mother in silhouette, General Scott's triumphant entry into the city
of Mexico, Jesus disputing with the Doctors, Martin Luther, George
Washington and several daguerreotypes of my uncles and aunts, framed and
hung on the wall. Next I read the battle parts of a new history of the
War, by Abbott.

Erelong grandfather came in for a nap on the lounge; and I found that
Addison and Halstead were hitching up old Sol and loading bags of corn
into the farm wagon, to go to mill. They told me that the grist mill was
three miles distant and invited me to go along with them. We set off
immediately, all three of us sitting on the seat, in front of the bags.
Halstead wanted to drive; but Addison had taken possession of the reins
and kept them, although Halstead secured the whip and occasionally
touched up the horse, contrary to Addison's wishes; for it proved a very
hilly road. First we descended from the ridge on which the home farm is
located, crossed the meadow, then ascended another long ridge whence a
good view was afforded of several ponds, and of the White Mountains in
the northwest.

Descending from this height of land to the westward for half a mile, we
came to the mill, in the valley of another large brook. It was a
weathered, saddle-back old structure, situated at the foot of a huge
dam, built of rough stones, like a farm wall across the brook, and
holding back a considerable pond. A rickety sluice-way led the water
down upon the water-wheel beneath the mill floor.

When we arrived there was no one stirring about the mill; but we had no
more than driven up and hitched old Sol to a post, when two boys came
out from a small red house, a little way along the road, where lived the
miller, whose name was Harland.

"There come Jock and George," said Addison. "Maybe the old man isn't at
home to-day.

"Where's your father?" he called out, as the boys drew near.

"Gone to the village," replied the larger of the two, who was
apparently thirteen or fourteen years of age.

"We want to get a grist ground," Addison said to them.

"What is it?" they both asked.

"Corn," replied Ad.

"If it's only corn, we can grind it," they said. "Take it in so we can
toll it. Pa said we could grind corn, or oats and pease; but he won't
let us grind wheat, yet, for that has to be bolted."

We carried the bags into the mill; there were three of them, each
containing two bushels of corn; and meantime the two young millers
brought along a half-bushel measure and a two-quart measure.

"It's two quarts toll to the bushel, ye know," said Jonathan, the elder
of the two. "So I must have two two-quart measurefuls out of every bag."
He proceeded to untie the bags and toll them, dipping out a heaped

"Here, here," said Addison, "you must _strict_ those measures with a
square; you're getting a good pint too much on every one."

"All right," they assented, and producing a piece of straight-edged
board, _stricted_ them.

"Have to watch these millers a little," Addison remarked. "And I guess,
Jock, you had better not toll all the bags till you see whether there's
water enough to grind all of it."

"O, there's water enough," said they. "There's a whole damful."

They then poured the first bagful into the hopper over the millstones,
and went to hoist the gate. It was a very primitive, worn piece of
mechanism, and hoisting it proved a difficult task. Addison and Halstead
went to help them. At length they heaved the gate up; the water-wheel
began to turn and the other gear to revolve, making a tremendous noise.
I climbed down beneath the mill, at the lower end, to see the
water-wheel operate. The wheel and big mill post turned ponderously
around, wabbling somewhat and creaking ominously. By the time I went
back into the mill, above, the first bagful of corn was nearly ground
into yellow meal, which came out of the stones into the meal-box quite
hot from the molinary process. Addison was dipping the meal out and
putting it up in the empty bag.

"Is it fine enough?" Jock called out. "I can drop the stone a little, if
ye say so. We will grind it just as ye want it."

Presently something went through the millstones that made an odd noise;
and the young miller, George, accused Halstead of throwing a pebble into
the hopper. They had a dispute about it, and George complained that such
a trick might spoil the millstones.

Another bagful was poured into the hopper and ground out; and then
Addison and I brought along the third bagful.

"Hold on there," said Jock. "I haven't tolled that bag."

We thought that he had tolled it.

"No," said both Jock and George. "You said not to toll that last bag
till we saw whether there was water enough to grind it."

"But you declared that there was water enough, and tolled it!" cried

Addison and I could not say positively whether they had tolled it or
not; and they appeared to think that it had not been tolled. The point
was argued for some moments; finally it was agreed to compromise on it
and let them have one measure of toll out of it. So there was two quarts
of loss or gain, whichever party was in error.

When the last bagful was nearly ground and the hopper empty, all save a
pint or so, Jock and George ran to shut the gate and stop the mill.

"Hold on!" cried Addison. "That isn't fair. There's two quarts in the
stones yet; we shall lose all that on top of toll."

"But we must shut down before the corn is all through the stones!" cried
Jock, "or they'll get to running fast and grind themselves. 'Twon't do
to let them get to running fast, with no corn in."

"Well, don't be in such haste about it," urged Addison. "Wait a bit till
our grist is nearer out."

They waited a few moments, but were very uneasy about the stones, and
soon after the last kernels of corn had disappeared from the hopper,
they pulled the ash pin to let the gate fall. It was then discovered
that from some cause the gate would not drop. The boys thumped and
rattled it. But the water still poured down on the wheel. By this time
the meal had run nearly all out of the millstones and they revolved more
rapidly. The young millers were now a good deal alarmed, and, running
out, climbed up the dam and looked into the flume, to see what was the
matter with their gate.

"It's an old shingle-bolt!" shouted Jock, "that's floated down the pond!
It's got sucked in under the gate and holds it up! Fetch the pike-pole,

George ran to get the pike-pole; and for some moments they tried to
push, or pull, the block out. But it was wedged fast and the in-draught
of the water held it firmly in the aperture beneath the gate. It was
impossible to reach it with anything save the pike-pole, for the water
in the flume over it was four or five feet deep.

Meantime the old mill was running amuck inside. The water-wheel was
turning swiftly and the millstone was whirling like a buzz saw. After
every few seconds we could hear it graze down against the nether stone
with an ugly sound; and then there would fly up a powerful odor of

Jock and George, finding that they could not shut the gate, came
rushing into the mill again in still greater excitement.

"The stones'll be spoilt!" Jock exclaimed. "We must get them to grinding

He ran to the little bin of about a bushel of corn where the old miller
kept his toll and where they had put the toll from our bags. This was
hurriedly flung into the hopper and came through into the meal-box at a
great rate. It checked the speed in a measure, however, and we took
breath a little.

"You had better keep the mill grinding till the pond runs out," Addison

"I would," replied Jock, "but that's all the grain there is here."

It was evident that the mill must be kept grinding at something or
other, or it would grind itself. It would not answer to put in pebbles.
Ad suggested chips from the wood yard; and George set off on a run to
fetch a basketful of chips to grind; but while he was gone, Jock
bethought himself of a pile of corncobs in one corner of the mill; and
we hastily gathered up a half-bushel measureful. They were old dry cobs
and very hard.

"Not too fast with them!" Jock cautioned. "Only a few at a time!"

By throwing in a handful at a time, we reduced the speed of the stones
gradually, and then suddenly piling in a peck or more slowed it down
till it fairly came to a standstill, glutted with cobs. The water-wheel
had stopped, although the water was still pouring down upon it; and in
that condition we left it, with the miller boys peeping about the flume
and the millstones and exclaiming to each other, "What'll Pa say when he
gets back!"

That was my first experience in active milling business, and it made a
profound impression on my mind.

But we were not yet home with our grist, by a great deal! Halstead had
resented it because he had not been able to drive the horse on the
outward trip. While Addison and I were throwing in the last bag, he
jumped into the wagon and secured the reins. Not to have trouble,
Addison said nothing against his driving; and we two walked up the long
hill from the mill, behind the wagon. Reaching the summit, we got in and
Halstead started to drive down the hill on the other side. As I was a
stranger, he wished me to think that he was a fine driver and told me of
some of his exploits managing horses. "There's no use," said he, "in
letting a horse lag along down hill the way the old mossbacks do around
here. They are scared to death if a horse does more than walk. Ad won't
let a horse trot a single step on a hill, but mopes and mopes along.
I've seen horses driven in places where they know something, and I know
how a horse ought to go."

In earnest of this opinion, he touched old Sol up, and we went down the
first hill at such a pace, that I was glad to hold to the seat.

"You had better be careful," said Addison. "Drive with more sense, if
you are going to drive at all--which you are not fit to do," he added.

Out of bravado, I suppose, Halstead again applied the whip and we
trundled along down the next hill at a still more rapid rate.

"Now Halse, if you are going to drive like this, just haul up and let me
walk," Addison remonstrated, more seriously. But Halstead would not
stop, and, touching the horse again, set off down the last hill before
reaching the meadow, at an equally smart pace.

It is likely, however, that we might have got down without accident; but
the road, like most country roads, was rather narrow and as we drew near
the foot of the hill, we suddenly espied a horse and wagon emerging from
amongst the alder clumps through which the road across the meadow wound
its way, and saw, too, that a woman was driving.

"Give us half the road!" Halstead shouted. But the woman seemed
confused, as not knowing on which side of the road to turn out; she
hesitated and stopped in the middle of the road.

Perceiving that we were in danger of a collision, Addison snatched the
reins and turned our horse clean out into the alders; and the off hind
wheel coming violently in contact with an old log, the transient bolt of
the wagon broke. The forward wheels parted from the wagon body, and we
were all pitched out into the brush, in a heap together. The bags of
meal came on top of us.

Halstead had his nose scratched; I sprained one of my thumbs; and we
were all three shaken up smartly. Addison, however, regained his feet in
time to capture old Sol who was making off with the forward wheels.

The woman sat in her wagon and looked quite dazed by the spectacle of
boys and bags tumbling over each other.

"Dear hearts," said she, "are you all killed?"

"Why didn't you turn out!" exclaimed Halstead.

"I know I ought to," said the woman, humbly, "but you came down the hill
so fast, I thought your horse had run away. I was so scared I didn't
know what to do."

"You were not at all to blame, madam," said Ad. "It was we who were at
fault. We were driving too fast."

We contrived at length to patch up the wagon by tying the "rocker" of
the wagon body to the forward axle with the rope halter, and reloading
our meal bags, drove slowly home without further incident. Addison,
having captured the reins, retained possession of them, much to my
mental relief. Halstead laid the blame alternately to the woman and to
Addison's effort to grab the reins. "Now I suppose you will go home and
tell the old gent that I did it!" he added bitterly. "If you had let the
reins alone, I should have got along all right."

Addison did not reply to this accusation, except to say that he was
thankful our necks were not broken. As we drove into the carriage house,
Gramp came out and seeing the rope in so odd a position, asked what was
the matter.

"The transient bolt broke, coming down the Sylvester hill," Addison
replied. "It was badly worn, I see. If you think it best, sir, I will
take it to the blacksmith's shop after work, to-morrow."

"Very well," Gramp assented; and that was all there was said about the

It had been a long day, but my new experiences were far from being over.
A boy can live a great deal during one long May day. After supper I went
out to assist the boys with the farm chores, and took my first lesson,
milking a cow and feeding the calves. The latter were kept tied in the
long, now empty hay-bay of the east barn. I had already been there to
see them; there were ten of them, tied with ropes and neck-straps along
the sides of the bay to keep them apart.

Weaned, or unweaned, they were fed but twice a day, and from six o'clock
in the morning to six at night is a very long time for a young and
rapidly growing calf to wait between meals. As early as four o'clock in
the afternoon those calves would begin to bawl for their supper; by half
past five one could hardly make himself heard in the barn, unless there
chanced to fall a moment's silence, while the hungry little fellows were
all catching breath to bleat again. Then they would all peal forth
together on ten different keys.

How those old bare walls and high beams would resound! Blar-r-rt!
Blaw-ar-ar-ah-ahrt! Blah-ah-aht! Bul-ar-ah-ahrt! There were eager little
altos, soaring sopranos, high and importunate tenors that rose to the
roof and drowned the twitter of the happy barn-swallows.

Addison, Halstead, Theodora and Ellen, who had come to the farm before
me, knew all the calves by sight and had named them. There was Little
Star, Phil Sheridan, Black Betty, Hooker, Nut, Little Dagon, Andy
Johnson and Babe. I do not recollect the others, but have particular
reason to remember Little Dagon.

At the time I made the acquaintance of this broad-headed Hereford calf
he was five weeks old, and the soft buds of his horns were beginning to
show in the curly hair of his forehead. His color was dark red, except
for a milk-white face, two white feet, a white tassel on his tail, and a
little belt of white under his body. Grandfather had unexpectedly sold
this calf's mother, a fine, large, line-backed cow, to a friend at the
village on that very morning.

The old gentleman kindly showed me how to milk and how to hold the pail,
then gave me a milking-stool and sat me down to milk "Lily-Whiteface."
She was not a hard milker, but it did seem to me that after I had
extracted about three quarts of milk, my hands were getting paralyzed.
Halstead, who sat milking a few yards away, had, meanwhile, been adding
to my troubles by squirting streams of milk at my left ear, till Gramp
caught him in the act and bade him desist.

The old gentleman presently finished with his two cows, and went away
with his buckets of milk toward the house. Then, with soothing guile
which I had not yet learned to detect, Halstead offered to finish
milking my cow for me. I was glad to accept the offer. My untrained
fingers were aching so painfully that I could now hardly draw a drop of
milk. My knees, too, were tremulous from my efforts to clasp the pail
between them.

"It made mine ache at first," said Halstead with comforting sympathy as
he sat down on my stool and took my pail between his knees. I stood
gratefully by, and after a few moments he looked up and said, "While I
finish milking your cow, you run over to the west barn and get Little
Dagon. He is dreadfully hungry. His mother was sold this morning, and we
have got to teach him to drink his milk to-night."

"He had better not try to lead that calf!" Addison called out from his
stool, at a distance.

"Why not?" Halse exclaimed. "Oh, he can lead him all right. All he has
to do is to untie the calf's rope from the staple in the barn post. He
will come right along, himself."

It seemed very simple as Halstead put it, and I started off at once.
Addison said no more; he gave me an odd look as I hastened past him, but
I hardly noticed it at the time.

Little Dagon was making the rafters re-echo as I entered the bay. When
he saw me, he jumped to the end of his rope and fairly went into the
air. He had sucked the bow-knot of the rope till it was as slippery as
if soaped, and when I strove to untie it, he grabbed my hands in his
mouth. At length I untied him and then with a clatter on the loose
boards, we went out of the hay-bay, pranced across the barn floor and
out at the great doors.

No one has ever explained satisfactorily what that instinct is which
guides young animals unerringly back home, or in the direction of their
kin. Hungry Little Dagon, tied up in the barn, could hardly have noted
with eyes or ears the direction in which his mother had been driven
away; but as soon as we were out at the barn doors, instead of rushing
to the other barn, where he had hitherto found his mother night and
morning, the rampant little beast headed straight past the house and
down the lane to take the road for the village.

A man could have held him without difficulty. I was in my thirteenth
year, and may have weighed seventy-five pounds, but did not have weight
enough. In the exuberance of his young muscle, Little Dagon erected his
tail and made a bolt in the direction which instinct bade him take.

My one chance of holding him would have been to noose the rope about his
nose and seize him close by the neck, at the start; but this I did not
understand, and, in fact, had no time to study the problem. I clung to
the end of the rope, and away we went. I was not leading the calf.
Little Dagon was leading me. First I took one long step, and then such
strides as I had never made before.

Halstead and Addison had jumped up from their milking-stools and come to
the barnyard bars. "Hold him! Hold him!" they shouted. "Don't let him
get away!"

Grandfather, too, had now come to the kitchen door. "Hold him! Hold that
calf!" he called out, and I clung to the knot in the end of the rope,
with determination.

In a moment Little Dagon was towing me down the long lane to the road.
The gate stood open, and out we went into the highway, on the jump.
There, however, the calf pulled up short, to smell the road. I tried to
catch the strap round his neck and turn him back, but he seized my arm
in his mouth to suck it; and being unused to calves, I was afraid he
would bite me. When I attempted to lead him about, that eager impulse to
find his mother again possessed him, and away he ran down the long
orchard hill.

I do not now see how I contrived to hold on to the rope, but I remember
thinking that if I let go Addison and Halstead would laugh at me, and
that Gramp would blame me.

We raced down that long hill, my feet seeming hardly to touch the
ground, and struck a level, sandy stretch at the foot of it. The sand
felt queer to the calf's feet, and he stopped to smell it. By this
time I was badly out of breath, but I turned his head homeward and began
towing him back. He sulked, but took a few steps with me. Then he gave a
sudden wild prance into the air, headed round and started again. I could
not hold him, and on we went, a long run this time, until we came to the
bridge over the meadow brook. There the planks proved a new wonderment
to the calf, and he pulled up to smell them.

[Illustration: WHEN I LED LITTLE DAGON.]

Just then there appeared in the road ahead Theodora and "Aunt Olive
Witham," a working woman, who came every spring and fall to help
grandmother clean house and to do the year's spinning. Theodora had been
to the Corners that evening, to summon her.

"Oh, help me stop him!" I panted. "For pity's sake, catch hold of this
rope! He is running away with me! I can't hold him!"

Theodora edged across the bridge to bear a hand; but "Aunt Olive" knew
calves, or thought she did.

"Boss-boss-boss!" she crooned to the calf, and extending her hand,
walked straight to his head to get him by the ears. This may have been
the proper thing to do, but it did not work well that time. Little Dagon
suddenly looked up from his snuffing of the planks, and for some reason
his young eyes distrusted "Aunt Olive."

He bounded aside and began again to run. I was clinging fast to the
rope, and Aunt Olive and I collided. Aunt Olive, in truth, recoiled
nearly off the end of the bridge; I was jerked onward. Little Dagon had
learned that he could pull me, and I might as well have tried to hold a
locomotive. Theodora ran a few steps after us, trying loyally to succor
me. Aunt Olive stood endeavoring to recover her breath; ordinarily she
was energy personified, but for the instant stood gasping.

Beyond the meadow there was a hill, and going up that hill I came very
near mastering the calf; but after a hard tussle he gained the top in
spite of me and ran on, over descending ground, where the road passed
through woodland. We were now fully a mile and a half from home. Thus
far I had held on, but strength and breath were about gone. I was
panting hard, and actually crying from mortification.

Now, however, I saw a horse drawing a light wagon coming along the road.
A well-dressed elderly man was driving. I called out to him to aid me.
If I had known who he was, I might have been less unceremonious. "Oh,
help me stop him!" I cried. "Do help me stop him! I can't hold him!"

The stranger reined his horse half round across the road, and Little
Dagon ran full against the horse's fore legs and stopped to sniff again.
The elderly gentleman got out quickly.

"Did the calf run away with you, my son?" he asked, smiling at my heated
and tearful appearance.

"Yes, sir," I replied, panting.

"Well, well, you have had a hot run, haven't you?" and he gave me
several sympathetic pats on the shoulder. "How far have you come, all so

"I came from Grandpa S.'s," I replied, as steadily as I could, for I was
sadly out of breath.

"Your grandfather is Joseph S.?" queried the elderly man.

"Yes, sir," I replied. "I have just come there to live."

"Ah, yes," commented my new acquaintance. "I know your grandpa very
well. I am on my way to call on him. Now let's see. How shall we manage?
Do you think that you could sit in the back part of my wagon and lead
the calf, if I were to drive slowly?"

"I'm afraid he would pull me out!" I exclaimed.

"Not if we both hold the rope, I think," remarked the elderly man, still
smiling broadly. "I will reach back with one hand and help you hold

After much pulling, hauling and manoeuvring, Little Dagon was brought
to the back of the wagon. I then sat in the rear, with my feet hanging
out, and took the line; and my new friend gave hand to the rope over the
back of the seat. The horse started to walk, and Little Dagon was drawn
after; but the perverse little creature settled back in his strap till
his tongue hung out. The stranger laughed.

"It seems that we cannot lead a calf unless the calf pleases," he said.
"Can you think of any better way, my son?"

I thought hard, for I was ashamed to put my new acquaintance to so much
trouble and have nothing to suggest. At last, I said, with some
diffidence, that we might tie the calf's legs with the rope and put him
in the rear of the wagon, while I walked behind.

"That appears to be a practical suggestion," the stranger remarked. "Do
you think you can tie his legs?"

I answered that I believed I could if I had the calf on the ground.
"Well, sir," said he, with a whimsical glance at me, "I think I can
capsize the calf and hold him down, if you will agree to tie his legs
within a reasonable time."

I said I would try; and while I held the rope the stranger alighted,
seized the calf suddenly by the legs, and threw it down on its side.
Little Dagon struggled pluckily, but my new ally held fast and called on
me to do my part. After some hard picking at the knot, I untied the rope
from the neck-strap, then tied the calf's legs into a bunch and
crisscrossed the rope.

"Pretty well done, my son, pretty well done," was the encouraging
comment of my new friend. "Now I will take him by the head while you
seize him by the tail, and we will hoist him into the wagon."

Before we could do so, however, we heard a sudden rattle of wheels close
at hand, and glancing around, I saw Gramp and Addison with old Sol in
the express wagon. They had harnessed and given chase; Theodora and
Aunt Olive, whom they met, had adjured them to drive fast if they hoped
ever to overtake me. Grandfather, on seeing who was helping me,
exclaimed, "Why, Senator, how do you do, sir! My calf appears to be
making you a great deal of trouble."

In fact, my friend in need was none other than Hon. Lot M. Morrill, who
had been Governor of Maine for three terms in succession, and was now
United States Senator. Grandfather and he had been acquaintances for
forty years or more; and I have inferred since that the object of Mr.
Morrill's visit on this occasion was in part political. At this
particular time the Senator was "looking after his political
fences"--although this phrase had not yet come into vogue.

Grandfather and Mr. Morrill immediately drove home together, leaving
Addison and me to put the calf in the express wagon and follow more

Senator Morrill at this time gave me the impression of being a man
oppressed by not a little anxiety, and inclined to be dissatisfied with
his career. As distinctly as if it were yesterday, I recall what he said
to me the next morning as he was about to drive away. "My son," said he
impressively, "don't you be a politician. Be a farmer like your
grandfather. He has had a happier life than I have had."

As it chanced, I was soon to have further experience with headstrong
young cattle.



Theodora had brought home the mail from the post-office out at the
Corners; and I remember that at the breakfast table next morning, the
Old Squire, who was reading the news from the weekly papers, looked up
and said in a tone of solemnity, that General Winfield Scott was dead;
that he had died at West Point, May 29.

The announcement signified little to us young people, whose knowledge of
generals and military events was confined mainly to the closing years of
the Civil War, but meant much to those of the older generation, who
remembered with still glowing enthusiasm the victor of Lundy's Lane in
1814 and the conqueror of Mexico in 1846.

"He was a good man and a patriot as well as an able general," the Old
Squire remarked. "And, old as he had become in 1861, President Lincoln
would have done better to trust more than he did to General Scott's
judgment." At that time the Old Squire and nearly every one else in
Maine feared that President Johnson was a treacherous and exceedingly
dangerous man, whereas the verdict of history seems to be that he was
merely a very egotistical and headstrong one. There was already much
talk of impeaching him and removing him from office, although the Old
Squire had doubts as to the wisdom of so radical a course.

He and Addison were debating the matter quite earnestly, when there came
a knock at the door, which I answered, and saw standing there a strong,
sturdy, well-favored boy of about my own age, one I was to know
intimately all the rest of my life; for this, as I now learned, was
Thomas Edwards, from the farmhouse of our nearest neighbors across the
fields. He had come to fetch word to the Old Squire that another farmer,
named Gurney--a relative of the Edwards--who lived at a distance of
three or four miles, had concluded to sell us one of his _new_ Jersey

That morning, too, I recollect that just as we were finishing breakfast,
grandmother looked around on our enlarged family circle, over her
spectacles, and said to the Old Squire, "Joseph, we really must have
their pictures taken,"--referring to us young folks.

"I want them all taken now, so that we may have them to keep, and know
how they looked when they first came home here," the old lady continued.
"I don't want it put off and not have any pictures of them, if anything
should happen, as we did poor Ansel's and Coville's. (Two of my uncles
who fell during the Civil War.)

"We must go down to the village some afternoon and have them taken,"
grandmother continued quite positively.

"Well, we will see about it," the Old Squire said over his paper.

"It must be done and done soon," Gram insisted.

"Yes, yes, Ruth, I suppose so," he assented.

"There must be no 'suppose so' about it," said Gram, very decidedly. "It
is one of the things that mustn't be put off and off like your trip to
Father Rasle's Monument."

We newcomers had yet to learn that for twenty years the Old Squire had
been talking, every season, of making two wagon excursions, of several
days' duration each, one to Lovewell's Pond, the scene of the historic
fight of Captain Lovewell and his rangers with the Pequawket Indians in
1640, and the other to Norridgewock, where the devoted French
missionary, Father Sebastian Rasle, lost his life in 1724.

Owing to the constant press of farm labors, opportunity for setting off
had never yet fairly occurred. But the Old Squire always fully intended
to go; he was genuinely interested in the early history of our State
and, indeed, remarkably well posted as to it. Francis Parkman, the
historian, had once come to the farm for a day or two, on purpose to
inquire as to certain points connected with the massacre at

Nothing more was said that morning about our pictures, however, for both
the Old Squire and Addison were engrossed in the late disturbing news
concerning President Johnson.

"And father says," continued Thomas, "that I may go over to uncle
Gurney's with Addison and help him get the heifer home."

These, be it said, were the first Jersey cattle ever seen in that
vicinity. Gurney had bought four of them from a stock farm somewheres in
Massachusetts, and their arrival marked an era in Maine dairying.
Farmers were very curious about them. Opinions differed widely as to
their value.

The Jersey cow is now, to quote a certain witty Congressman, one of our
national institutions. Asked to name the five most characteristic
American "institutions," this waggish legislator replied, "The
Constitution, Free Public Schools, Railroads, Newspapers and the Jersey

There is a spice of homely truth underlying the jest. For certainly the
greatest delicacies of our tables are the cream, the butter and the milk
that now come to us from our clean, well-managed dairies; and it is
hardly too much to say that we owe the best of these products to the
Jersey cow.

By careful breeding and feeding the Jersey has gained wonderfully in
size, temper and good appearance, until few handsomer animals can now
be found in the farmer's pasture or barn. But many of us can remember
the first Jerseys, and what a reproach their wizened bodies and piebald
hides were in any herd. It was admitted that their milk was yellow and
wonderfully rich in butter fat; but they were so homely, so
spindle-legged, so brindled along the withers, so pale-yellow down the
sides, so foolishly white in the flanks, down the fore legs and about
the jowls, yet so black-kneed and wildly touched about the eyes, that no
one could admire them.

"That a cow!" cried an honest old Vermont farmer, the first time he ever
saw one. "Why that looks like a cross between a deer and a 'Black

As to the real origin of Jersey cattle, nothing very definite is known.
They are said to have been brought to the Isle of Jersey from Normandy.

There is a theory, supported by tradition and legend, that thirty
centuries ago, when the Druids first came into western Europe, they
brought with them the Hindu sacred cattle, derived from the zebu, or
Brahman ox, in order that their sacrificial rites might be supplied with
the "cream-white heifers" which the altars of that strange, wild
religion demanded.

It is thought that in after centuries the Druid sacred cattle were
cross-bred with the urus or wild German buffalo, described by Cæsar, or
else with native breeds of domestic cattle, owned by the Gauls; and that
the Jersey of to-day is the far-descended progeny of this singular union
of zebu and urus. In color the sacred cattle ranged from white, through
mouse, fawn and brown to black.

But Addison could not go that day; so with a smile at thoughts of my
recent experience leading Little Dagon, the Old Squire said that I might
go; and immediately Thomas and I set off on foot with a rope
nose-halter, a few nubbins of corn in our pockets as "coaxers," and
many injunctions to be gentle. Grandfather supposed that two boys of our
age would be able to get a small heifer home without difficulty, one
leading, the other following after with a switch.

When we reached the farm, we found the odd-looking little white and
brindled heifer tied up at a stanchion in the barn; and Gurney appeared
to have doubts about our ability to take her home.

"She's a Jersey, boys," said he. "They're ticklish creatures. Awful
skittish at everything they see, particularly women-folks. So you must
look out sharp."

Thomas thought we could lead or hold a heifer as small as this one, even
if she was frightened. With the assistance of the farmer and his son, we
adjusted the halter, gave the heifer nubbins of corn, coaxed her out
upon the highway, and set off.

It soon became evident, however, that she was very timid. At every
unusual object along the road her head was raised high, and it was only
by much coaxing that we made any progress. Moreover, her fears appeared
to increase with every onward step. Presently we met a dog, and for five
minutes the heifer careered wildly on both sides of the road. The dog
behaved very well, however, and made a wide detour to pass us.

A horse and buggy and a loaded wagon each made trouble for us. The
driver of the team said, "You've got one of those wild Jerseys there;
I'd sooner try to lead a deer!"

Thomas and I had found already that, small as she was, both of us could
hardly hold her; she had a manner of bounding high with such suddenness
that we had no chance to brace our feet. By this time she was inspecting
everything by the roadside and far ahead, and an hour was spent in going
half a mile.

Suddenly her head went up higher than ever. She had discerned what we
had not yet seen, two girls coming on foot a quarter of a mile away.
Not another inch could we make her budge, either by pulling or
switching. Her eyes were fixed on those girls, and it was plain there
would be trouble when they came nearer. Thomas bethought himself to
blind her, however, and, taking off his jacket, wrapped it about her
head and horns, while I took the precaution to pass the end of the
halter around a post of the wayside fence.

Thus prepared, we stood waiting the approach of the girls, and if they
had gone by quietly, our precautions would have sufficed; but they were
greatly amused by the spectacle of our hooded heifer, and one of them
laughed outright. At the sound of her voice our Jersey went into the
air, broke the halter rope, and leaping blindly against the rail fence
beside which we were holding her, knocked down a length of it and ran
off across the field on the other side, with Thomas's jacket and the
head-stall of the halter still on her head. We gave chase, but the
heifer shook off the jacket and ran for a cedar swamp seven or eight
hundred yards distant.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon in that swamp, engaged in
efforts to approach near enough to the animal to seize and secure her.
By this time all her wilder instincts appeared to have revived. She fled
from one end of the swamp to the other, seeking the densest thickets of
cedar and alder, where she would lie up, still as a mouse, till we found
her; then she would make a break and run to another quarter of the

Hungry and tired out, I now earnestly desired to go home; but my
resolute new acquaintance declared that they would all laugh at us if we
returned without the heifer.

At length, we went back to Gurney's farm, just at dusk, spent the night
there and in the morning proceeded to the cedar swamp again and resumed
the hunt, the farmer and his son Oscar accompanying us out of
compassion for our ill success.

An hour's search convinced us that the heifer had left the cedar
thickets; and she was at last discovered in a pasture half a mile away,
in company with six other young cattle to which she had joined herself
during the night in spite of three intervening fences.

On approaching them, however, it became apparent that the fugitive
Jersey had in some manner infused her own wild fears into these new
acquaintances. They all set off on the run with tails in the air; and
after coursing round the pasture several times, they jumped the fence
and made for a distant wood-lot, our Jersey leading the rout.

By this time I was wholly disheartened. But Thomas still said, "Come on.
We've got to get her;" and I followed wearily after the others.
Proceeding to the farmhouse of the owner of the young cattle, whose name
was Robbins, we informed him what had occurred, and in company with his
son, Luke, spent the forenoon searching for the runaways. Mr. Gurney
returned home, but Oscar went with us. The cattle had made off to an
extensive tract of forest, and after following their tracks hither and
thither for some time longer, hunger impelled us to retrace our steps.
Luke Robbins told us that the six young Durham cattle in their pasture
had previously been docile, and that they had never before broken out.
The Jersey heifer seemed to have demoralized them.

Quite discouraged and tired out, we now started for home, and were glad
enough to meet the Old Squire and Addison driving over to look us up.
Thomas's father, too, had come in quest of him. Night was at hand; we
all went home; and that was the last of the Jersey for months. I may as
well go on here, however, and relate the rest of the story.

Farmer Robbins and his son continued the search next day, but could not
find their stock; and beyond making inquiries, we did nothing further
for four or five months, until "housing time," in November. Then,
shortly after the first snow came, Luke Robbins drove over to tell us
that the fugitive cattle were reported to be in the woods, six miles to
the northwestward of their farm. He thought that we might like to join
in an effort to recover them and get them home before winter set in. Two
deer-hunters had seen them, but they were very wild and ran away at
speed. A party was now made up to attempt their capture, consisting of
the Old Squire and Addison, with two of our hired men and Thomas's
father. Farmer Gurney and his son also joined in the hunt, as also Luke
Robbins and his father. Thomas and myself were allowed to accompany
them, by virtue of our previous experience. Halters, axes and food were
also taken along.

No success attended the search during the first day, and we passed the
night at a newly cleared farm, five miles from home. But cattle-tracks
were discovered in dense fir woods near a large brook during the
following morning; and after following them for two hours we came upon
the whole herd, snugly sheltered in the ox hovel of a deserted

It was a low log structure, roofed with turf, and it had not been
occupied for three years. Bushes and briers had sprung up about it; but
the door was open, and the cattle were inside, lying down. We could see
our Jersey's head as she lay near the door, facing out, as if doing
sentinel duty. But she had not seen us, and was chewing her cud as
peacefully as if in a barn at home.

The situation was carefully studied from the bushes, at a distance; and
then Asa Doane, one of the hired men, crept quietly up from the rear
and, crawling round the corner of the hovel, suddenly clapped the old
door to and held it fast, before the cattle had time to jump up and rush
out. The little herd was now penned up inside; but they made a great
commotion, and we were at a loss how to proceed. After much talk Doane
said that he would take a halter, slip in and secure the Jersey heifer,
if the others would tend the door.

But he had no sooner entered than the heifer attacked him. He seized her
by the horns, and they tumbled about in a lively manner for some
moments. Immediately the other cattle began bawling, and evinced so
unmistakable a disposition to gore Doane that he shouted for us to help
him get out. This was not easily accomplished. At last he reached the
door, and we hauled him forth and clapped it to again. But he had lost
his hat, and his coat was torn in several places. He was also limping,
for in the struggle the cattle had trodden on his feet.

"I wouldn't go in there again for fifty dollars!" he exclaimed. "They
are wild cattle."

As none of the rest of the party had any wish to go in, and night was at
hand, we made the door fast with props and went home.

This last trip ended my own part in the adventure. Our winter school
began the next day, and the Old Squire deemed school of more importance
to me than cattle-hunting.

But the plan finally adopted was to proceed to the place with two yokes
of large, steady oxen, connected by a long draft-chain. A number of
neighbors assisted; and seven or eight "tie-chains," such as are used to
tie up cattle in the barn, were also taken along. After a series of
violent struggles the wild young cattle were secured, one by one, and
tied to the long draft-chain, on each side of it. Then with a yoke of
heavy oxen in advance and another in the rear of the procession, to
steady it, the rebellious creatures were constrained to walk home. For
the first mile or so they bounded and struggled, and some of them even
threw themselves down. But it was of no use; the procession moved
steadily on; and by the time they reached home all were pretty well

We kept this wild-headed little Jersey at the farm for seven or eight
years afterwards, and several of her calves made good cows; but to the
end of her life she was always a skittish little creature, apt to take
fright at any moment. A dog coming along the barn floor in front of her
manger was always the signal for a struggle at her stanchion. But the
object of her worst fears was the sight of a woman! She would leap in
the air, wrench and tear, and even bawl aloud and cast herself flat on
the floor. Neither Gram nor any of the girls ever went in front of
"Little Jersey," if it could be avoided. This fear of women has always
seemed to me rather singular, for I am told that in the Isle of Jersey,
the women usually care for the cows.

But this digression has taken me a long way in advance of my narrative.



"To-morrow we must wash the sheep," the Old Squire remarked at the
breakfast table next day. "We will try your water-warming apparatus,
Addison," he continued. "Do you think that you can get the pipes
together again?"

"I am sure of it, sir," Addison replied. "But I shall have to go borrow
the blacksmith's wrench and pipe-tongs."

"Ad thinks that patent warmer of his is something great," Halstead
remarked ironically.

"I think it is nice to warm the water, and not put the poor sheep into
stone-cold water when they are heated from running, in their heavy, hot
fleeces," said Theodora.

"It seemed to prevent them from taking cold last year," observed the Old
Squire. "Sheep often take cold when washed and sheared," he continued.

"If you girls go with us, you shall help fetch wood and tend fire," said
Halstead. "It is a hard job to keep the fire up under the pipe."

"O we will help," cried Ellen. "It's fun, I think, to fetch dry stuff
and make a big blaze."

"How are you off for soap, Ruth?" the Old Squire asked. "We shall want
two bucketfuls of soft soap for the first washings."

"Well, sir, I don't know about that," replied Gram, not well pleased.
"My soap barrel is getting low; and I have not been able to have Olive
Witham come to make soap yet, nor clean house. I think that a bucketful
will be all I can spare you."

"That will be small soap for seventy-six sheep," remarked Addison.
"There ought to be a pint to every sheep, half a pint at least. You may
work and work, and squeeze and squeeze, but you cannot get their thick
fleeces clean unless you put on plenty of soap."

"Murches' folks never use soap," said Halstead. "The boys just fling the
sheep into the pond and souse them round a few times, then let them
crawl out. They don't bother with warm water and soap. Willis catches
the sheep and pitches them in; and his father and Ben souse them. They
stand in the water up to their waists all the time; but I saw Murch take
a sly pull at a little bottle which he had set behind a stump on the

"Murch does not half wash his sheep," Addison remarked. "When they
carried their wool to market last year, it all had to go at twenty-eight
cents per pound, as unwashed wool, when clean-washed brought forty
cents. I don't like to stand in cold water two hours at a time, either.
A man who takes a drink of liquor every half hour can stand it, maybe;
but all people don't think it best to drink liquor."

"I suppose you would stand and chatter your teeth two hours before you
would take a swallow of whiskey," said Halstead with a laugh.

"I would warm the water," retorted Addison. "Certain people we know
would stand in cold water just for an excuse to get a drink."

It was manifest that Addison had the best of the argument, and that the
Old Squire agreed with him.

"Let's get an early start with our housework," Theodora made haste to
say, "so that we can all go. You must go, too, Gram. It is fun to see
the long fires under the pipe."

"Yes, Gram, I want you to go and see how finely my new water-warmer
works," said Addison. "The Edwardses are going to drive their flock over
here and wash them at the 'Little Sea' this year, so as to try the
warm-water plan. They will come after we finish, in the afternoon."

I now asked Addison whether he really had a patent on his water-warmer.
"O no," replied he, laughing. "You cannot take a patent right for
warming water. Still, it is a rather new idea hereabouts. I use the iron
pipe which we took out of a pump aqueduct a year ago. But you will see
how we do it to-morrow."

We worked putting stove-wood into the wood-house that day; and after
what seemed a remarkably short night, I waked to find Halstead dressing
in haste.

"Ad's up, and gone after the tools," he said. "Ordered us to get up and
help the old gent milk."

"Did he 'order' us to do it?" I asked, a little surprised.

"'Bout's good as that," grumbled Halstead. "Stuck his head in at the
door and hollered, 'Hurry up now and help milk.' O he is
dandy-high-jinks 'round this farm, I tell ye. Everything goes as he
says. The old gent thinks he's a regular little George Washington."

I did not quite know what to think of this talk; it was evident that my
two cousins did not altogether admire each other.

Meantime, Halstead had set off for the barn; but I lingered about the
kitchen, where I was presently impressed into the service of Theodora
and Ellen, who were kindling a fire and making preparations for

"Now, cousin, do please split a few sticks of this wood," the latter
besought me. "It's so large I cannot make it burn; and I am in no end of
a hurry. Here is the axe. But look out sharp now, or you will chop your
toes off. Take care now." She seemed half sorry, I thought, that she had
asked me, after watching my first strokes. For I laid about me with
might and main, causing the splinters to fly, from a boy's natural
instinct to show off before girls.

As there was a great deal of coarse wood in the shed, I continued to
wield the axe, and split a large heap, for which those wily girls
praised me without stint; but I am sure, none the less, that they were
smiling on the sly. Gram, too, came out from the pantry and praised me,
but she also laughed. It is exceedingly difficult for a boy to show off
without exciting risibility. When Gramp came in with two milk-pails,
presently, he also looked into the shed, to bid me good-morning, and
went away smiling.

At length I heard the clang of iron on the doorstep, and looking out,
saw that Addison had returned and thrown down the pipe-tongs. "You're a
good one!" he exclaimed, catching sight of my woodpile. "Gram and those
girls will make a saint of you right off. Splitting kindlings is the
royal road to all their good graces. It means a doughnut, or a piece of
pie, any time, at a moment's notice. All the same it is somewhat sweaty
work," he added, noticing my perspiring brow. "I go a little easy on it
myself; I never refuse when they ask me; but I don't try to make such a
pile as that at one time."

Halse, who had been turning the cows to pasture, now came in; and
breakfast being not quite ready, we went to the wagon-house and got down
the lengths of iron pipe from the loft, preparatory to loading them into
the cart, to be taken to the "Little Sea." It was what hardware dealers
term inch and a quarter pipe, and it was in lengths or sections, each
twelve feet long. These were somewhat heavy, and had screw threads cut
at each end, so that the ten or twelve lengths could all be joined
together by screwing them into couplings, and thus form one continuous
pipe. The pipe-tongs and wrench were needed to turn the couplings.

Addison had called at the post-office, and the Old Squire at once
became engrossed in the papers, containing further news of President
Johnson's quarrel with Congress. He and Addison were discussing politics
during breakfast. It made me feel uncomfortably ignorant, to hear how
well Addison was informed upon such matters, and how much interested
Theodora appeared to be in their conversation. Addison even undertook to
say what was Constitutional and what wasn't.

Not to be utterly outstripped, I ventured to express my opinion that
General Hancock ought to be the next President; but neither Addison nor
grandfather agreed with me, and I was afraid Theodora did not, for I
thought she looked at me compassionately, as if my opinion was immature.

Halstead did not say a word, but ate his breakfast with an air of
supreme indifference. Afterwards, as we were going out through the
wood-shed, he remarked to me that it made him sick to hear Republicans
palaver. "I'm a Democrat," said he. "I'm a 'Secesh,' too. I would be a
Democrat anyway, if Ad was a Republican."

I confess to feeling somewhat "mugwumpish" myself that morning, for it
was pretty plain that I never could lead the Republican party in that
house, as long as Addison was about. Still, I did not like the idea of
being a "copperhead;"--for that was the unhandsome designation which
Addison applied to all lukewarm or doubtful citizens. On the whole, I
decided that I had better be a quiet, not very talkative Unionist, and
not mix too freely in politics. I had some idea, however, of being a
"War Democrat," for General Hancock was then the subject of my very
great admiration. I ventured to intimate darkly to Theodora, a few days
afterwards, that I leaned slightly toward the condition of a "War
Democrat;" but although she admitted, very tolerantly, that a "War
Democrat" might be a decent citizen, I found that she looked upon all
such as a still not wholly regenerate order of beings, and that nothing
less than a fully-fledged, unswerving Republican could command her
respect and confidence. She took pains to let me know, however, that the
fact of my being a "War Democrat" would not by any means constitute a
bar to our future good-fellowship and cousinly acquaintance.

I remarked that Halstead appeared to be a "copperhead."

"Yes," she replied, with a heavy sigh.

"I don't know that I ought to tell you what he said the morning the
dreadful news came, that President Lincoln was assassinated," she
continued, after a pause and in a very saddened tone. "I would not speak
of it if I did not have a reason."

"What did he say?" I asked, curiously.

"He and Addison were splitting stove-wood in the yard," continued
Theodora. "They had been arguing and disputing. Ad does not argue with
Halstead so much now; he has learned better. But that morning they had
been talking pretty loud. Gramp had gone to the post-office, and when he
came back and drove into the yard, he spoke in a low tone and said,
'Boys, there is a terrible rumor abroad.' 'What is it?' exclaimed
Addison, turning around quickly.

"'News has come that the President and Secretary Seward have been
assassinated,' said Gramp. Ad dropped his axe and stood looking at
Gramp, as if spellbound. 'It cannot be!' he said. 'I am afraid it is too
true,' replied grandfather.

"Then what do you think Halstead did but shout, 'Glad of it! Served 'em

"Gramp looked at Halse, astonished; he did not know what to think, and
drove on into the wagon-house without saying a word. But Addison turned
on Halse and said, 'Anybody that will say that ought to be strung up to
the nearest tree!'

"With that Halse shouted again, 'Glad of it! Glad of it!' and then
jumped on a log and, flapping his arms against his sides, crowed like a
rooster. Addison was so disgusted that he did not speak to Halstead for
more than a week.

"And now you see how it is," Theodora continued to me, in a confidential
tone. "That is why I told you this. Halstead has a reckless temper. He
feels and sees, I suppose, that Addison is more talented than he is, and
that all of us naturally place more confidence in what he says and does.
That provokes Halstead to do and say what he otherwise wouldn't. Instead
of doing his best, he often does his worst. Ad is intelligent and
conscientious; he despises anything that is mean, or tricky, and he has
no patience with any one who does such things. So they don't get along
very well; and I often think that it isn't a good thing for them to be
together--not a good thing for Halse, I mean.

"Isn't that a strange thing," continued Theodora, thoughtfully, "that
because one boy is good and manly and intelligent, another one in the
same household may not do nearly as well as he would if the first one
were only just stupid?"

Theodora had taken me into moral waters quite beyond my depth, observing
which, I presume, she went on to say that she wanted me to see and
realize just how it was with Halstead, and always try to bring out his
best side, instead of his worst.

If I could only have seen the matter in as clear a light as she did and
labored as hard as she did to bring out that "best side" of my youthful
kinsman, the outcome might perhaps have been different.

Breakfast over, after a parting glance at the newspaper, Gramp came out
to give directions for the sheep-washing. "I will go to the pasture and
see to getting the sheep myself this spring," said he; for it appeared
that on a previous occasion, Halse and Addison had difficulty, owing to
the injudicious use of a dog, and finally arrived at the brook with the
flock, as well as themselves, in a badly heated condition.

"I wish you would, sir," replied Addison. "I will yoke the oxen and haul
the pipe to the brook while you are gone."

This plan being adopted, the oxen were yoked and attached to the cart;
and under Addison's supervision, I took the goad-stick and received my
first lesson in driving them. "Swing your stick with a rolling motion
towards the nigh ox's head, and say, 'Back, Bright, get up, Broad,' when
you want to call them towards you," he instructed me. "And when you want
them to veer off, step to the head of the nigh ox and rap the off ox
gently on the nose, then reversing your stick, touch up the nigh ox." He
illustrated his teachings and I attempted to imitate him. Halstead stood
at a little distance and laughed; no doubt it was laughable.

"What a teamster he will make!" I heard him saying to the girls. "He
talks to old Bright as if he was afraid of hurting his feelings by
swinging the goad-stick so near his head. Next thing he will say, 'Beg
your pardon, Broad, but I really must rap your head and ask you to gee,
if it will not be too much trouble.'"

They all laughed at Halse's joke, not unkindly, yet I can hardly
describe how much it wounded my vanity and how incensed I felt with the
joker. Slowly the oxen moved away out of hearing. Even my instructor,
Addison, lagged a little behind to indulge in a broad smile. Glancing
backward, I detected his amused expression and was almost minded to
fling away the goad-stick; and I did not feel much reassured when he
remarked that I did very well for a beginner.

"Don't mind what Halse says," Addison continued. "He cannot drive a
cart through a gateway himself without tearing both gate-posts down."

There was solace in that statement. The oxen were very steady and well
broken; and I contrived to drive the cart across the field and down
through the pasture to the brook without much difficulty, although I
noticed several times that old Bright rolled the white of his eye up to
me, in a peculiar manner, as if something in my movements was puzzling
to the bovine mind. I asked Addison whether he did not think that the
oxen had very handsome eyes, for they seemed to me exceedingly soft and

"Yes," replied he, "all cattle have just such large, fine eyes." But he
appeared to be somewhat amused at the way I spoke of it; for the thought
had struck me that it was strange and not quite clear why cattle should
have eyes so much finer and more lustrous than human beings. I ventured
to ask Ad's opinion on that subject, as we were taking out the pipe
beside the brook. "Well," he replied, still laughing, "perhaps it is
because their lives are simpler and they don't have so much evil in them
as human beings do. But I recommend you to ask Elder Witham about that
the next time he spends the night here."

We now took the pipe out of the cart and chained up the oxen to the nigh
cart-wheel. Addison then explained to me his method of warming the water
for washing the sheep. From the dam which formed the Little Sea, there
was a considerable descent in the brook for some distance; and Addison's
device consisted in laying the pipe from the pond above the dam, so as
to carry water to two half-hogshead tubs, ninety or a hundred feet
farther down the bed of the brook. The pipe rested on heaps of stones
placed eight or ten feet apart and was thus elevated a foot and a half
from the ground; and directly beneath it a fire was kindled and kept
burning briskly all the time the washing was going on. The pipe was thus
exposed to the fire along its whole length; and it was found that the
water running through it was rendered very comfortably warm where it ran
out into the first tub. A short spout connected the first tub with the
other, set a little lower down, so that the warm water ran on into that
one. The sheep were first put into the lower tub and there soaped and
scrubbed, then taken to the upper tub and rinsed thoroughly.

"Now get out the wrench and pipe-tongs," said Addison. "The first thing
to do is to screw the pipe together."

This proved a task requiring some little muscular strength; and even
when we had done our best, several of the couplings leaked a little. We
put it together after awhile, however, and set the water running through
it to the two half-hogshead tubs, which had also to be lifted from the
cart and placed on a good foundation. Next, the sheep-yard, close beside
the tubs, had to be repaired, for the brush fence had sunk low during
the previous winter. Fresh bushes needed to be brought and a little
green spruce shrub with which to block up the hole that served as a

An hour or more elapsed while we were thus employed; and then, as we
were about ready to attend to the fire, we heard the voices of the
girls; and lo, besides Theodora and Ellen there was Gram herself, coming
down the pasture side.

"Good," said Addison. "They will help us drag brush and dry stuff from
the woods. It takes a lot of it to keep a good fire going. But the girls
like that. Nothing suits girls half so well as a fire out of doors. You
will see Gram herself fetching brush pretty soon.

"Just in time!" Addison shouted to them. "We were wishing for some help.
Now for a brush-bee!"--and he led the way to the edge of the woods, at a
little distance. "Gather up anything that will burn and carry it to the

Soon we were all running to and fro with armfuls of it, and collected a
large heap, alongside the pipe, which was presently set blazing at one
end. From that point, the fire ran along beneath the whole line of pipe,
and very soon the water came out steaming into the half-hogsheads.

Erelong the bleating of the sheep and lambs was heard. "They're coming!"
Ellen cried. "I can see Wealthy running beside them, and Halse ahead of
the flock with the salt dish. Gramp is behind."

"Now we must form a line down here and guide them into the sheep-yard,"
Addison exclaimed. "The old and cunning ones will not like to go in."

"They have been there before; they know what is in store for them, and
they don't like it," said Gram, laughing. "They are like a little boy
whom I took off the town farm one spring. He had not been washed since
the previous summer. The sight of the tub frightened him dreadfully; he
bleated louder than the sheep do when I put him into it."

The flock came on with a rush, Halstead and Wealthy at the sides and the
Old Squire in the wake. By an adroit distribution of our forces, we
headed them into the yard, although three or four old sheep made
strenuous efforts to escape to one side and gain the woods, particularly
one called "old Mag." This venerable ewe was in great trouble about her
twin lambs that strayed continually in the press. The old hussy found
opportunity, however, to dart out betwixt Addison and myself, and
reached cover of a little hemlock thicket, with one of her lambs. But
anxiety for the other one caused her to emerge again, bleating, when she
was surrounded and ignominiously driven into the pen.

By this time the water was running as warm as fresh milk; and after
taking breath, the Old Squire and Addison removed their coats, rolled up
their sleeves and took their stations at the two tubs. Halstead, too,
prepared to assist.

"Now," said Addison, "let's each one have his or her particular part to
do. I will name you, sir" (addressing Gramp), "_Chief Washer_, if you
please. You may stand at the first, or lower, tub and take each sheep as
it comes from the yard. I will name Halse your _Assistant Washer_. I
will be _Rinser_ and stand at the second, or upper tub. Our new cousin
here, I shall name _Catcher_. It is to be his business to catch the
sheep in the yard and bring them, one by one, to the _Chief Washer_, and
also take them back from the _Rinser_ to the yard; and he will have to
look out sharp, or some of those strong, young sheep will throw him.
Fact, I think I will name Nell, who is pretty nimble and strong,
_Assistant Catcher_. She is to help hold and pull them along to the
tub--and pick Catcher up, if he gets thrown. Wealthy may be
_Sheep-Hole-Tender_; she must guard the sheep-hole and open and close it
with the spruce bush, as ordered by the Catcher and Assistant Catcher.

"I shall name Gram, if she has no objection, _Chief Fireman_, and Doad
her assistant. It is to be their business to put the wood and dry stuff
which we have gathered under the pipe and keep a good fire going.

"Are you all satisfied with your parts?" he then asked.

We all expressed ourselves delighted, except Halse, who desired to be
Catcher, instead of Assistant Washer. Thereupon I offered to resign in
his favor; but for reasons which they did not explain fully, the Old
Squire and Addison opposed my resignation. Halse grumbled a little, but
at length acquiesced.

"Now then," continued Addison, "every one to his or her station, and the
business of the day will open."

Still laughing a good deal, we took our places.

Elevating his voice, Addison then called out, "Catcher, do your duty!"

The Sheep-Hole-Tender hauled aside the bush and Catcher, followed by
Assistant Catcher, entered the yard.

"Take a little one, to begin with," whispered Ellen, who apparently
distrusted my competence for the office. That nettled me and, instead, I
made a plunge for a big wether and fastened both hands into his wool.
The animal gave a tremendous jump and then went round about that yard,
into corners and over the backs of the other sheep, at a rate of speed
that was simply distracting! But I held on. First, I was on my back,
with the rest of the flock leaping overhead. The Assistant Catcher
couldn't overtake us. At last, she turned and ran the other way and
headed us into a corner, and there the wether fell down and I fell on
top of him; and when the flock got done running by, I looked up and saw
that the Chief Washer, Rinser, Chief Fireman and their Assistants had
all left their posts and were peering over the fence into the yard, with
faces wearing every appearance of excessive mirth.

But Addison cried out, "Hurrah for the Catcher!" and that relieved my
embarrassment considerably.

My Assistant, however, looked coldly at me.

"What in the world possessed you to grab that biggest sheep first?" she
commented, as we dragged the now nearly breathless beast out at the
sheep-hole. "And you mustn't run at them in such a savage way. No wonder
the poor thing was scared! Go toward them more calm and gentle-like."

It appeared to me highly unbecoming that my Assistant should take it
upon herself to lecture her superior after that fashion; and I promptly
informed her (my blood being pretty hot by this time) that I would thank
her to obey orders and give advice when it was asked for. Much abashed
at this unexpected blast of spunk, cousin Ellen asked my pardon. When I
delivered the sheep into the hands of the Chief Washer, old gentleman
gazed benignly at me and simply remarked, "Well, well, sir, you had a
dusty time of it, didn't you? But you'll learn, you'll learn, my boy."

They proceeded to soap the animal by pouring strong suds into its wool,
and then seizing it by the legs, threw it upon its side in the tub of
water. Thereupon another struggle ensued, during which the Chief Washer
and his Assistant were plentifully spattered; but the experienced
calmness with which the former bore it, greatly excited my admiration.
After perhaps three or four minutes of scrubbing and squeezing the wool,
the now bedraggled and hopelessly patient creature was passed on to the
Rinser, who in turn immersed and rinsed it in the cleaner water of the
upper tub. Meantime another sheep had been required from the Catcher,
who again entered the yard, followed by his Assistant. This time I was
quite content to attempt the capture of a smaller one, and to approach
the animal in a less precipitate manner; for much as I had spurned my
cousin's advice at the moment of receiving it, I now recognized its

The Catcher and his Assistant were kept very busy during the remainder
of the forenoon, for the Chief Washer was an experienced and rapid
operator. Some of the young sheep proved wild and refractory; and I
remember that both Ellen and I grew very tired by the time the last of
the seventy had been caught, subdued, dragged to the tub, and then
dragged back to the yard from the Rinser's tub. I for one had had quite
enough of it, and was content to sit down and look on, while Halstead,
Addison and Theodora caught several of the lambs, and ducked them in the
tub, by way, as they said, of giving them an early lesson and a
foretaste of what they would have to encounter the next spring, in the
regular order of things.

The fire was now allowed to subside under the water-pipe; and the Chief
Fireman declared that she and the girls must set off for the house at
once, in order to prepare dinner, for by this time the sun was nearing
the meridian and every one getting hungry.

It was an easy matter to drive the now docile and water-soaked flock
back to pasture; and we left pipe and tubs at the brook for our
neighbors. When we returned from the pasture, Gram and the girls had a
hastily prepared meal in readiness, consisting of fried eggs, bacon, and
a "five minute pudding" with cream. What a flavor it all had! My only
fear for some minutes was, lest there would not be half enough of it!
While at table, Rinser, Assistant Washer, Catcher and even Chief Washer
and Chief Fireman laughed a great deal as the various incidents and
mishaps of the morning were recounted. It is certain that work always
passes off much more pleasantly when it is enlivened by some such
play-plan as that which Addison had devised.



"Shall we dip the lambs as we did last spring, after shearing the
sheep?" Addison asked the Old Squire, as we drew back from table.

"I suppose we shall have to do it," the old gentleman replied. "It is a
disagreeable job, but it needs to be done."

"That means another poke stew!" cried Ellen, with a look of disgust.

I was quite in the dark as to what a "poke stew" might be.

"O it's beautiful smellin' stuff!" exclaimed Halstead. "Going to put any
tobacco into it?" he asked.

"A little," replied Gramp. "That is about the only use I ever would like
to see tobacco put to," he added with a glance at Halse, at which the
latter gave me a sly nudge under the table.

"Then I suppose we may as well take two large baskets with tools for
digging, and go down to Titcomb's meadow for the poke," suggested
Addison. "If you can get the arch-kettle hot while we are gone, we can
have the poke put to stew and simmer, so as to be good and strong by day
after to-morrow. I suppose you will shear the sheep that day; and by the
next morning the lambs will need attending to, will they not, sir?"

"Most likely," replied the Old Squire, smiling to see how Addison was
taking the burden of work on his young shoulders. "I can certainly get
the kettle hot," he added, laughing. "That looks like the easiest part
of the job."

"But you worked hard this forenoon, sir," Addison said. "I noticed how
you handled those sheep. To wash seventy sheep is no light job."

"Ad doesn't count me in at all," remarked Halse. "I reckon the
'Assistant Washer' had something to do."

"Yes, my Assistant worked well," said the Old Squire. "I could not have
washed more than fifty, but for his aid."

"Well, there is one thing to be said, right here and now," interposed
Gram with decision. "I cannot and will not have that awful mess of poke,
tobacco and what-not brewed in the kitchen arch-kettle. Now you hear me,
Joseph. Last year you stewed it there and you nearly drove us out of the
house. Such a stench I never smelled. It made me sick all night and
filled the whole house. I said then it should never come into the
kitchen again. You must take the other kettle and set it up out of

"Aren't you growing a little fussy, Ruth?" replied the Old Squire,
evidently to rally her, for he laughed roguishly.

"Maybe I am," replied Gram, shortly. "If you were a little more 'fussy'
about some things, it would be no failing."

This bit of fencing amused Addison and Theodora very much; and I began
to surmise that good-humored as grandmother habitually was, she yet had
a will of her own and was determined to regulate her domain indoors in
the way she deemed suitable.

"Well, we will boil the stuff out of doors this year," replied the Old
Squire. "It is not the kind of perfumery women-folks like to smell," he
added, teasingly.

"Now don't try to be funny about it," rejoined Gram severely. "I never
ran you much in debt for perfumery, as you know. But I don't think it
is quite fair for a man to bring such a nauseous mess as that into the
kitchen to stew, then run off and leave it for the women-folks to stand
over and stir, and finally leave the dirty kettle for them to scrub out
the next day!"

"Hold on, Ruth! Hold on. You've let out a great deal more than I wanted
you to, now!" cried the Old Squire. "I remember now, I did forget that
kettle last year. 'Twas too bad. I don't blame you, Ruth Ann, I don't
blame you in the least for grumbling about it."

With that Gram looked up and laughed, but still gave her head a slight

I watched for a day or two a little anxiously, to see if she really
cherished any resentment, but soon discovered that there was no real
ill-feeling; it was only Gram's way of holding her ground and standing
for her house rights.

As we went out to get shovels and the two baskets, I ventured to ask
Addison, confidentially, whether Gram were really severe. "No!" said he.
"She's all right. She touches the Old Squire up a little once in awhile,
when he needs it; she always gets him foul, too. I suppose he doesn't
try very hard to hold up his end, but she always floors him when they
get to sparring. Then he will laugh and say something to patch things up
again. O they never really quarrel. Gramp once said to me, as we were
going out into the field together, after Gram had been touching him up,
'Addison,' said he, 'your grandmother was a Pepperill. They were nice
folks; but they had spicy tempers, some of them. Old Sir William
Pepperill, that led our people down to Louisburg, was her
great-great-uncle. They were good old New England stock, but none of
them would ever bear a bit of crowding; and I always take that into

Halstead came out and then went to search for a tool which they termed
a "nigger hoe," a hoe with a narrow blade, such as, in the old
plantation days of the South, the negroes are said to have used for
turning over the turf of new fields.

Theodora came to the door of the wagon-house. "Going with us after
poke?" Addison called out to her.

"I wish we could," she replied; "but we have lots to do in the house.
Gram says that, as we were out all the forenoon, we must stay indoors
the rest of the day."

Ellen, too, was espied gazing regretfully after us, as we set off with
the baskets and tools. Halse had a pocketful of doughnuts (which he
always called duffnuts). He had made a raid on the pantry, he said, and
enlivened the way by topping off his dinner with them.

We went out through the fields to the southwest of the farm buildings,
then crossed a lot called the calf pasture, and then a swale, descending
through woods and bushes into the valley of the west brook.

"This is the meadow-brook," said Addison. "But Titcomb's meadow is a
mile below here. We will follow down the brook till we come to it.

"That's poke," he continued, pointing to a thick, rank, green plant,
with great curved leaves, now about a foot in height and growing near
the bank of the brook. Halstead gave one of the plants a crushing stroke
with his hoe, and I noticed that it gave off a very unpleasant odor.

"It is poison," Addison remarked. "It is the plant that botanists call
_veratrum viride_, I believe. But the common name is Indian poke."

"O Ad knows everything; his head is stuffed with long words!" exclaimed
Halse, derisively. "It'll bust one of these days. I don't dare to get
very near him on that account."

"No danger that yours will ever 'bust' on account of what's inside it,"
retorted Addison, laughing.

But Halstead, although he had begun the joking, did not appear to take
this shot back in good part. He turned aside and began to cut a
witch-hazel rod.

"Now quit that, Halse," exclaimed Addison. "Wait till we get the poke
dug, then we will all three cut some rods and fish for half an hour."

But Halstead proceeded to string a hook, bait it with a bit of pork
which he had brought, and then dropped it into a hole beside an alder
bush at a bend of the stream.

"He is the most provoking fellow I ever saw," muttered Addison. "He will
fish all the time, and we will have the poke to dig. I meant to show you
a good hole to fish in, but now he will scare all the trout away!

"Come on, Halse!" he shouted back. "What's the use to skulk and shirk
like that?"

"O you dig viratum-viridy!" cried Halstead. "You understand all about
that, you know. I don't comprehend it well enough; but I guess I can
manage to fish a little." A moment after we saw him haul out a trout,
which glistened as it went wriggling through the air and fell in the
grass. Halse got it, and holding it up so that we could see it, shouted,
"No viratum-viridy about that!"

"No use fooling with him," Addison said to me. "His nose is out of joint
about that word. He will not lift a finger to help us, but will catch a
good string of fish to take home; and if I say a word about it to the
folks, he will declare that I was so overbearing that he couldn't work
with me. That's the song he always sings.

"Sometimes," continued Addison, with another backward glance of
suppressed indignation, "I get so 'mad' all through at that boy that I
could thrash him half to death. If it wasn't for Doad and the old
folks, I believe I should do it.

"But of course that isn't the best thing to do," Addison continued. "The
best way to get along is to have as little to do with him as you can,
and not pay any attention to his quirks. For he is the trick pony in
this family. You cannot go out with him anywheres, without having some
sort of a circus; I defy you to. You see now, if we ever go out
together, without a scrape."

We went on down the brook to the meadow, called after its owner's name;
the stream was more sluggish here, and along its turfy banks the clumps
of Indian poke were very numerous. With shovel and hoe, we then
proceeded to dig up the rank-growing and ranker-smelling plant. To get
out much of the root required a great effort, and we did not like to
smear our hands with the juice. For this plant (which is the same made
use of by homoeopathic physicians as a medicine) proves poisonous to
cattle when, as is sometimes the case in the early spring, the animals
are tempted to crop its rank, fresh leaves. In order to take home enough
in our two baskets, we trod it down with our feet very solidly; and when
at length they were heaped full, each was heavy.

"I wish Ellen could have come, to help us home with it," said Addison.
"There ought to be two to each basket, one on each side, and so change
hands once in a while."

"Are we going to fish now?" I asked.

"Well, but you see the sun is nearly down," replied Addison. "It is
getting late in the afternoon for fishing, and we have a hard job before
us, to tote these baskets home. Besides, Halse has fished away down past
us, in all the good holes. I guess we had better not stop this time, but
wait for a lowery day.

"Come, help carry these baskets home!" he shouted to Halstead, who was
now near the lower end of the meadow. But the latter was very intent at
a trout-hole into which he had just dropped his hook, and did not
respond. We waited a few minutes, then shouldered the baskets, and
carrying our shovels in our free hands, set off. At first the basket did
not seem very heavy; but, by the time I had gone half a mile, I found
myself very tired. Addison, however, plodded sturdily forward with his
basket, and after resting for a few moments, I toiled on in his wake.

Presently Halse overtook us.

"Hullo, shirk!" Addison called out. "How many fish?"

Halstead held up a pretty string of fourteen.

"Well, you've had all the fun so far," said Addison. "Now let's see you
carry one of these baskets."

"What a fuss about a little basket of green stuff!" exclaimed Halstead
contemptuously; and throwing mine on his shoulder, he started on at a
great pace.

Before he had got as far as the "calf pasture," however, he began to
lag, fell behind and at length set down the basket.

"What was the use of stuffing them so full!" he grumbled. "There was no
need of so much."

A few rods farther on, he again set the basket down on a rock. Addison
turned round and laughed at him. "What's the matter with that 'little
basket of green stuff?'" he exclaimed.

"But there's no need of so much!" cried Halstead, and he threw out a
part of it before going on. I gathered up what he threw out and followed
behind him. When we came to the stone wall between the pasture and the
southwest field, Halse set the basket down and hurried on past Addison
to the house, in advance of us.

"He has run ahead to show his trout and tell a fine story," said
Addison, with a laugh. "That's the way he always does. But they know him
pretty well. I don't take the trouble to contradict any of his talk

"Does he tell lies?" I asked.

"Not exactly outright lies," said Addison. "But he will talk large and
try to lead the folks to think that he dug the most of the poke and
brought it home, besides catching the trout. That's the kind of boy he
is; but if I were you, I would not mind anything of that sort. They all
know how it is--a great deal better than they want to know. You will not
lose anything by keeping quiet." Addison saw that I was a little ruffled
on account of the fishing incident, and thought it best to calm me.

By the time I reached the farm-yard, where the Old Squire had hung up a
large iron kettle and had water boiling in it, I was very tired indeed.
What with splitting wood in the early morning, catching seventy sheep
and digging and carrying poke, I had put forth a good deal of muscular
strength that day, for a lad unused to such exertion. In fact, the day
had seemed a week in length to me; for I appeared to myself to have
learned a hundred new things since morning, and had passed through a
wide series of new experiences.

But supper was ready, and supper is a great source of recuperation with
a hungry boy. How delicious the "pop-overs" and maple syrup tasted! I
was ashamed to ask for a sixth "pop-over;" but when cousin Theodora
called for more and slipped a sixth upon my plate, I felt very grateful
to her. Halstead was boasting of his skill fishing, and relating how he
threw the trout out of the holes.

"Won't they taste good for breakfast!" he exclaimed. "Nell, if you will
clean them and fry them, you shall have three. I shall want four for my
share," he continued; "and that will give the rest of you one apiece!"

Addison laughed. "That's real generous of you, Halse, seeing that the
rest of us had such poor luck fishing," said he. Theodora was listening,
and by and by asked me in a whisper--her chair at table being next
mine--whether Halstead had helped dig the poke.

"Ask Addison," I said, laughing in turn.

She did not ask, but I noticed that her face wore a thoughtful
expression during the remainder of the time we were at table.

After supper we put the poke into the kettle. The Old Squire had already
chipped up and thrown into it a pound of tobacco; and during the evening
we brought wood several times from the wood-shed and kept the kettle
boiling. By the time it had grown dark, I was glad to creep away to bed,
for I had grown so sleepy that I could scarcely keep my eyes open. It
seemed to me, too, that I had no more than fallen soundly asleep when I
heard somebody knocking and saying that it was time to get up and dress.
'Twas actually some moments before I could believe that morning had come
again. The sun had risen, however, and Halstead was dressing.
"Grandmarm's up fryin' my trout," said he. "I can smell 'em. O won't
they taste good! But one is all you can have."

"If you had done your part, we might all three have caught some trout,"
I grumbled, for I felt sleepy still and not in a good humor.

"Look here," said Halstead, "I stand a good deal of that kind of talk
from Ad, but you needn't think you can take up his tune."

"What will you do?" I asked.

"Give you a thrashing," said Halstead. "It would do you good, too. One
little George Washington is all we can have in this house."

I had some doubts as to his being able to handle me; still he was
considerably the larger, and I concluded that I had better not provoke
him to a trial of his ability in that direction. But his threat set a
deep resentment brewing in my mind. At breakfast time, however, he
attempted to soften the asperities of boy life between us, by putting
two trout, instead of one, on my plate. I surmised that Theodora had
prompted him to do it, however, but was not certain.

Gramp and Ellen had been to the pasture the previous evening and driven
the flock of sheep and lambs down to the west barn, where they had
remained shut up over night. This was the Old Squire's custom with his
flock the night of the washing, to prevent the sheep from taking cold,
and also from a theory of his that if they were kept warm for two nights
after washing, the oil from their skins would start sufficiently to put
the wool in proper condition for shearing on the third day.

After breakfast, the business of the day was announced to be
bean-planting, at which Halstead groaned audibly. Twelve quarts of
yellow-eyed beans, which had been carefully picked over, were brought
out from the granary chamber for seed; and with tin basins to drop from
and hoes to cover with, we were about setting off for the field, when
the bleating of sheep was heard along the road, and a babel of voices.
"There comes Edwards' flock!" cried Halstead. "And there's Tom and

The flock went streaming along the road; and we young folks turned out
to assist in driving them through the field and pasture, down to the
yard by the Little Sea.

Thomas I had met already. His sister Catherine looked to be a little
older than Ellen. She and our girls appeared to be great friends and
rapidly exchanged a stock of small news and confidences. I felt bashful
about drawing near them, to receive an introduction; but Ellen brought
her young neighbor around, near where I was helping the other boys pen
up the sheep, and informed her that I was the new cousin who had come to
live at the farm, and hence that we must needs become acquainted.
Catherine and I did not become much acquainted, however, for months

Thomas and Catherine had an older brother, who did not appear with them
that morning. Mr. Edwards himself was a strong, weather-browned farmer,
then about forty-five years of age. Addison explained to them the
workings of his water-warming apparatus, and showed them where fuel
could be gathered for a fire beneath the pipes; we then returned to go
to our work. Before we had gone to the field, however, another
interruption occurred. A swarm of bees came out of one of the hives, at
the bee-house in the garden, and after mounting in a dense, brown cloud
into the air over the hives, settled upon the limb of a large apple
tree, a few rods distant. Gram bustled out with a pan and began drumming
noisily upon it, to drown the hum of the queen bee, as she said, and
thus prevent the swarm from flying away.

Meantime the Old Squire was putting on a veil and gloves, and then came
out with a saw in his hand, while Addison brought forth a new hive which
had been hurriedly rinsed out with salt and water.

"Fetch a ladder, quick!" was the order to Halstead and me.

Theodora had brought the clothes-line, which Addison hastily took from
her hands, and climbing the apple tree, attached one end of it to the
bending bough upon which the dark-brown mass of bees now clustered. This
seemed to me then to be a very brave act, for numbers of the bees were
darting angrily about, and one--as he afterwards showed us--stung him on
the wrist.

By this time the Old Squire had set the ladder, and climbing up, sawed
off the bough a little back of the point where the bees were clinging to
it. All this time Gram was drumming vigorously without cessation; and
Theodora having fetched a broad bit of board which she placed on the
ground under the tree, Addison slowly lowered the bough with the bees
till it rested upon the board, when Gramp clapped the empty hive over
them, and the swarm was hived; for during the day the bees went up from
the bough into the top of the hive, and that evening it was gently
removed to a place in the row of hives at the bee-house.

This was an early swarm, hence valuable. Gram repeated to us a proverb
in rhyme which set forth the relative values of swarms.

    "A swarm in May is worth a load of hay.
    A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon,
    But a swarm in July is not worth a fly."

July swarms would not have time to lay up a store of honey during the
season of flowers.

Between bees and neighbors the forenoon was far advanced before we
reached the field and began bean-planting. Quite enough of it remained,
however, to render me certain that farm work, in summer, is far from
being a pastime. We planted the beans among the corn which had been
planted two weeks previously and was now a finger's length above the
ground. The corn hills were three feet and a half apart, and between the
hills of every row we now inserted a hill of beans. Halstead and I
dropped the seed, three beans to a hill, going a few steps in advance of
Addison and the old Squire, who followed us with hoes and covered the
beans. The process of dropping was very simple; we had only to make an
imprint in the soft earth with the right heel, and then drop three beans
in the hole. Yet with the sun hot above my head, I found it a sweaty
task, and was but too glad to hear Ellen blow the horn for dinner.

Bean-planting was the business again after dinner, but dark clouds rose
in the west, shortly before three o'clock, and soon the first
thunder-shower of the season rose, rumbling upward over the White
Mountains. We were compelled to run for the barn. Gramp improved the
opportunity to sharpen the sheep-shears, and as soon as the shower
abated, sent Halstead off to notify a man at the Corners, named Peter
Glinds, a professional shearer, that his services would be required on
the following day. "Old Peter," as he was called, had made shearing
sheep his spring vocation for many years; he was a very tall, lean,
yellow old man, who was reported to use a plug of tobacco a day, the
year round.

Addison set about preparing a half-hogshead tub to hold the poke
decoction for immersing the lambs after the sheep were sheared.

But singeing off caterpillars' nests in the orchard was my work for the
remainder of that afternoon and the following forenoon. I went up to the
west barn a number of times, however, to see Peter Glinds shear sheep,
for I had a great curiosity concerning this piece of farm work.

Addison and Halstead were assisting at the shearing, the latter catching
and fetching the sheep, one by one, to the shearers, while the former
was attending to the fleeces, binding up each one by itself in a compact
bundle with stout twine. Instead of sitting at a bench, or standing at a
table, the sheep-shearer worked on his knees, extending the sheep prone
upon the barn floor. Old Peter could shear a sheep in ten minutes; Gramp
was less speedy with the shears; he contrived to shear about as many as
Peter, however, for, after every fourth sheep, the latter would have to
stop to light his pipe and refresh himself. "A bad habit! A bad habit!"
he would exclaim nearly every time he lighted up. "A bad habit! but I
can't seem to get along 'thout it." He also "chewed" constantly during
the intervals between smokes.

Peter was not very considerate of the feelings of the sheep while under
his hands, and a little careless with the shears. Naturally a sheep will
get clipped occasionally, and lose a bit of skin; but all those that
Peter sheared were plentifully covered with red spots. It nettled the
Old Squire, who always detested needless cruelty to domestic animals.
One of the sheep, in fact, looked so badly that Gramp exclaimed,
"Glinds, if you are going to skin the sheep, better take a butcher

"'Twas a bad nestly sheep; 'twouldn't keep still nowheres," replied

The old man had a thin, but rather long, gray beard; and while shearing
one of the sheep, either in revenge for its cuts, or else, as is more
likely, mistaking Peter's beard for a wisp of hay, it made a fitful grab
at it and tweaked away a small mouthful. Peter cried out angrily and
continued scolding in an undertone about it for some minutes. This
vastly amused Addison, who chanced to see the incident. In addition to
his duties with the wool, Addison was also "doctor." When a sheep was
cut with the shears, Gramp had the spot touched up with a swab, dipped
in a dish of melted tallow, to coat over the raw place and exclude the
air. To be effective, however, the tallow needed to be hot, or at least
quite warm, so that Addison was frequently making trips with the tallow
dipper to the stove in the house kitchen.

Going in with him to tell the girls of the accident to old Peter's
beard, I found them laboring and discouraged over the churn; for some
reason the cream had failed to come to butter that morning in a
reasonable time. They had been churning for nearly two hours. It was an
old-fashioned dasher churn, and the labor was far from light. Addison
could not stop to assist them; but I volunteered to do so, and soon
found that I had embarked in a tiresome business, for we had to work at
the dasher for as much as an hour more before the butter came.

That evening I had an ill turn. It may have been due to change of
climate, or of food, or perhaps the unwonted exercise. Gram, however,
was convinced that I had a "worm-turn;" and that night, for the first
time, I made the acquaintance of the Vermifuge Bottle!

Now Gram was a dear old soul, but had certain fixed ideas as to the
ailments of youngsters and the appropriate remedies therefor. Whenever
any one of us had taken cold, or committed youthful indiscretions in
diet, she was always persuaded that we were suffering from an attack of
Worms--which I am spelling with a big W, since it was a very large
ailment in her eyes. To her mind, and in all honesty, the average child
was a kind of walking helminthic menagerie, a thin shell of flesh and
skin, inclosing hundreds, if not thousands, of Worms! And drastic
measures were necessary to keep this raging internal population down to
the limits where a child could properly live.

For this bane of juvenile existence, Gram had one constant, sovereign
remedy in which she reposed implicit faith, and which she never varied
nor departed from, and that was a great spoonful of Van Tassel's
Vermifuge, followed four hours later by two great spoonfuls of castor
oil. Be it said, too, that the castor oil of that period was the
genuine, oily, rank abomination, crude from the bean, and not the
"Castoria" of present times, which children are alleged to cry for! And
as for Van Tassel's Vermifuge, it resembled raw petroleum, and of all
greenish-black, loathly nostrums was the most nauseous to swallow. It
was my fixed belief and hope in those youthful years that, if anywhere
in the next world there were a deep, dark, super-heated compartment far
below all others, it would be reserved expressly for Van Tassel and his

Whenever, therefore, any one of us put in an appearance at the breakfast
table, looking a little rusty and "pindling," without appetite, Gram
would survey the unfortunate critically, with commiseration on her
placid countenance, and exclaim, "The Worms are at work again! Poor
child, you are all eaten up by worms! You must take a dose of

This diagnosis once made, excuses, prayers, sudden assumptions of
liveliness, or pseudo exhibitions of ravenous appetite, availed nothing.
Gram would rise from the table, walk calmly to the medicine cupboard and
fetch out that awful Bottle and Spoon.

With a species of fascination, the Worm-suspect would then watch her
turn out the hideous, sticky liquid, till the tablespoon was full and
crowning over the brim of it all around. Why, even to this day, as the
picture rises in memory, I feel my stomach roll and see the hard, wild
grin on the face of Halstead as he watched the ordeal approach me.

"Now shut your eyes and open your mouth," Gram would say, and, when the
awful dose was in, "Swallow! Swallow hard!" Then up would come her soft,
warm hand under my chin, tilting my head back like a chicken's. There
was no escape.

On one occasion Halstead bolted, while the Vermifuge was being poured
out, and escaped to the barn. But he had to go without his breakfast
that forenoon, and when he appeared at the dinner table, Bottle, Spoon
and Gram with a severe countenance were waiting for him.

Theodora used to try to take hers without murmuring, although convinced
that it was a mere whim, stipulating only that she might go out in the
kitchen to swallow it. But with Wealthy, who was younger, the ingestion
of Vermifuge was usually preceded by an orgy of tears and supplications.
Addison, who was older and generally well, long smiled in a superior way
at the grimaces of us who were more "Wormy." But shortly after our first
Thanksgiving Day at the farm, he, too, fell ill and failed to come down
to breakfast. On his absence being noted, Gram went up-stairs to inquire
into his plight; and it was with a sense of exultation rather than
proper pity, I fear, that Halse and I saw the old lady come down
presently and get the Vermifuge Bottle. We heard Addison expostulating
and arguing in rebuttal for some minutes, but he lost the case. Wealthy,
who had stolen up-stairs on tip-toe, to view the denouement, informed us
later, in great glee, that Addison had attempted by a sudden movement to
eject the nauseous mouthful, but that Gram had clapped one hand under
his chin and pinched his nose with the thumb and finger of the other,
till he was compelled to swallow, in order to breathe.

About that time it was hopefully observed that the Bottle was nearly
empty. A certain cheerfulness sprang up. It proved short-lived. The next
time the Old Squire went to the village, Gram sent for two more bottles.
The benevolent smile with which she exhibited the fresh supply to us
that night caused our hearts to sink. To have it the handier, she poured
both bottlefuls into an empty demijohn and put the Spoon beside it in
the cupboard.

Addison, although a pretty good boy in the main, was a crafty one. I
never knew, certainly, whether or not Halstead and Ellen had any
previous knowledge as to the prank Addison played with the Vermifuge,
but I rather think not. There was another large flask-shaped bottle in
the same cupboard, about half full of elderberry wine, old and quite
thick, which Gram had made years before. It was used only "for
sickness," and was always kept on the upper shelf. We knew what it was,
however; by the time we had been there a year, there were not many
bottles in that or any other cupboard which we had not investigated.

The Vermifuge and the old elderberry wine looked not a little alike, and
what Ad must have done--though he never fairly owned up to it--was to
shift the thick, dark liquids from one bottle to the other and restore
the bottles to their usual places in the cupboard. Time went on and I
think that it was Ellen who had next to take a dose from the Bottle. It
was then remarked that she neither shed tears nor made the usual wry
faces. Nor yet did she appear in haste to seize and swallow the draught
of consolatory coffee from the Old Squire's sympathetic hand. "Why,
Nellie girl, you are getting to be quite brave," was his approving
comment; and Ellen, with a puzzled glance around the table, laughed,
looked earnestly at Gram, but said nothing; I think she had caught
Addison's eye fixed meaningly on her.

If recollection serves me aright, I was the next whose morning symptoms
indicated the need of Vermifuge; and I remember the thrill of amazement
that went through me when the Spoon upset its dark contents adown the
roots of my tongue and Gram's cozy hand came up under my chin.

"Why, Gram!" I spluttered. "This isn't----!" "Here, dear boy, take a
good swallow of coffee. That'll take the taste out o' your mouth," Gramp
interrupted, his own face drawn into a compassionate pucker, and he
clapped the cup to my mouth. I drank, but, still wondering, was about to
break forth again, when a vigorous kick under the table, led me to take
second thought. Addison was regarding me in a queer way, so was Ellen.
Gram was placidly putting away the Bottle and Spoon; and something that
tingled very agreeably was warming up my stomach. I burst out laughing,
but another kick constrained me to preserve silence.

For some reason we did not say anything to each other about this,
although I remember feeling very curious concerning that last dose. A
species of roguish free-masonry took root among us. Once after that,
when Vermifuge was mentioned, Addison winked to me; and I think we were
pretty well aware that something funny had started, unbeknown to Gram.
Theodora, however, knew nothing of it. Whether this reprehensible
slyness would have continued among the rest of us, until we had taken up
the whole of the elderberry wine, I cannot say; but about a month later,
a dismal exposé was precipitated one Friday night by the arrival of
Elder Witham. There was to be a "quarterly meeting" at the meeting-house
Saturday afternoon and Sunday, and the Elder came to the Old Squire's to
stay till Monday morning.

Elder Witham was getting on in years; and upon this occasion he had
taken a little cold, and being a lean, tall, atra-bilious man, his
appetite was affected. Gram, as usual, had prepared a good supper,
largely on the Elder's account; but I remember that after we had sat
down and the Elder had asked the blessing, he straightened back and
said, "Sister S----, I see you've got a nice supper. But I don't believe
I can eat a mouthful to-night. I'm all out of fix. I'm afraid I shan't
be able to preach to-morrow. If you will not think strange, I want to go
back into the sitting-room and lie down a bit on your lounge, to see if
I can't feel better."

Gram was much disturbed; she followed the Elder from the table and we
overheard her speak of sending for a doctor; but the Elder said no, he
guessed that he should soon feel better.

"Well, but Elder Witham, isn't there something I can give you to take?"
Gram asked. "Some Jamaica ginger, or something like that?"

"Oh, that is rather too fiery for me," we heard the Elder say.

"Then how would a few swallows of my elderberry wine do?" queried Gram.

"But you know, Sister S----, that I don't much approve of such things,"
the Elder replied.

"Still, I think really, that it would do you good," urged Gram.

"Perhaps," assented the Elder; for, truth to say, this was not his first
introduction to the elderberry bottle; and we heard Gram go to the
medicine cupboard.

And "about this time," as the old almanac used to have it, several of us
youngsters at the supper table began to feel strangely interested.
Addison glanced across at Ellen, then jumped up suddenly and took a step
or two toward the sitting-room, but changed his mind and went hastily
out through the kitchen into the wood-shed. After a moment or two, Ellen
stole out after him. As for myself, mental confusion had fallen on me; I
looked at Halse, but he was eating very fast.

The trouble culminated speedily, for it does not take long to turn out a
small glass of elderberry wine, or drink it, for that matter. The Elder
did not drink it all, however; he took one good swallow, then jumped to
his feet and ran to the wood-box. "Sin o' the Jews! What! What! What
stuff's this?" he spluttered, clearing his mouth as energetically as
possible. "You've given me bug-pizen, by mistake!--and I've swallered a
lot of it!"

Inexpressibly shocked and alarmed, Gram could hardly trust the evidence
of her senses. She stared helplessly, at first, then all in a tremble,
snatched up the bottle, smelled of it, then tasted it.

"My sakes, Elder Witham!" she cried, "but don't be scared, it's only
Vermifuge, such as I give the children for Worms!"

"Tsssauh!" coughed the Elder. "But it's nasty stuff, ain't it?"

By this time, Gramp had appeared on the scene, and he fetched a cup of
tea to take the taste out of the Elder's mouth. Halstead snatched a
handful of cookies off the table and decamped. I could not find anything
of Addison or Ellen, and so ventured into the sitting-room, with
Theodora and Wealthy.

Gram, the Old Squire and Elder Witham were now holding a species of
first-aid council. The Elder had taken a full swallow of Vermifuge, and
after reading the "Directions," they all came to the conclusion that the
only safe and proper thing to do was for him to take two tablespoonfuls
of castor oil. This was accomplished during the evening; but it was a
strangely hushed and completely overawed household. Gram, indeed, was
nearly prostrated with mortification. How the Old Squire felt was not
quite so clear; as we milked that night, I thought once that I saw him
shaking strangely as he sat at his cow which stood next to mine; but I
was so shocked myself that I could hardly believe, then, that he was

Addison helped milk, but immediately disappeared again, and Halse soon
retired to bed. Ellen, too, had gone to bed.

Next morning, affairs had not brightened much. Nobody spoke at the
breakfast table. The Elder's breakfast was carried in to him, and the
net result was that he did not preach that afternoon, as was expected;
another minister occupied the pulpit.

Gram gave up going to that quarterly meeting altogether. Shame was near
making her ill; and the clouds of chagrin hung low for several days.

It was not till Thursday, following, that Gram recovered her spirits and
temper sufficiently to inquire into it. Thursday morning she questioned
the whole of us with severity.

Little actual information was elicited, however, for the reason that the
most of us knew but little about it. We confessed what we knew, unless,
perhaps, Ad kept back something. We all--all except Theodora--knew that
we had previously taken elderberry instead of Van Tassel; and Gram gave
us an earnest lecture on the meanness of such concealments of facts. The
Old Squire said nothing at the time; but I think that he had some
private conversation with Addison concerning the matter.

The episode put a damper on the Vermifuge Bottle, however; it was never
quite so prominent afterwards. But I have digressed, and gone in advance
of my narrative of events at the old farm that season.



The sheep were inclosed at the barn that night, partly that they might
not take cold, owing to the sudden loss of their winter coats, partly
also that, being pent up close with the lambs, all the parasites
("ticks") would leave the bare skins of the sheep and take refuge within
the partly grown fleeces of the lambs--and thus the more readily fall
victims to the bath which we had specially prepared for their
extermination on the morrow.

Immersing one hundred lambs, one by one, in a tubful of mingled poke and
tobacco juice is far from an agreeable task; it was a novelty to me
then, however, and I entered into it with much zeal and curiosity. I
wanted to see how the lambs would behave, and also how the parasites
would enjoy it. A boy's mind is eager for all kinds of visual

We put on old clothes, and having set the tub containing the decoction
near the lean-to door of the barn, caught and brought forth the lambs,
one after another. Addison, by virtue of greater experience, undertook
the business of immersion, while Halstead and I caught the lambs. They
struggled vigorously, and the only practicable method of dipping them
was to grasp all four of their legs, two in each hand, and then thrust
them down into the tub, taking care that their noses did not go under
the liquid. Each had then to be held in the bath for about a minute,
giving time for the liquid to thoroughly saturate their wool. But this
was not all, nor yet the most disagreeable part of the affair. On
raising them from the tub, it was necessary to dry their fleeces to some
extent, by squeezing and wringing them in our hands, lest, owing to the
absorbent capacity of their wool, there should soon be nothing left of
our decoction in the tub. Taken with the struggles of the lambs, this
proved a repulsive task. Before half the lambs were dipped, our old
jacket sleeves were soaked. Withal we were nauseated, either from having
our hands in the decoction, or else from the odor which arose from the
tub and the wet lambs. At length, Addison was obliged _to go out behind
the barn_, where he remained for some minutes, and returned looking very
pale. "Good gracious!" he exclaimed. "I think that I shall hate the odor
of tobacco juice to the end of my life."

Not long after he made another trip; and immediately I was compelled to
follow him, in haste. Halse, who was not much affected, derided us; but
he had not held his hands in the tub as much as Addison; besides he was
known to have smoked tobacco on several occasions, and this previous
experience of the weed, perhaps, stood him in stead on this occasion.

Theodora, who had come out to see how we were progressing, was
distressed at our woe-begone condition and ran in to report our
sufferings; and as a result of this bulletin, the Old Squire soon made
his appearance upon the scene and assumed the rôle of immerser. Gram,
too, came out with a dipperful of chamomile tea, of which she
authoritatively exhorted us to imbibe a draught.

We judged from appearances that the lambs were also nauseated, for they
were observed to stand with drooping heads; and the Old Squire told us
that washing either lambs or calves in a strong solution of tobacco had
been known to kill them.

Here I may add that the following year we purchased a device for burning
tobacco and blowing the smoke into the wool of the sheep and lambs,
called a "fumigator." It was said to be even more destructive to the
parasites than the bath of poke and tobacco juices. In point of fact, we
found it quite efficacious, also less sloppy and disagreeable to use;
but it rendered us even more sick, so ill in fact, that we were fully a
day in recovering from the effects. None save a well-seasoned old smoker
of tobacco can use the fumigator with impunity.

There had been a "sea-turn" during the morning with the wind southerly,
and toward noon it set in rainy. The sheep were turned out to feed for a
little while, but at nightfall were driven indoors again. The Old Squire
took scrupulous care of his flock during washing and shearing week. A
few weeks later we drove the flock down to the barn and touched the
nostrils of all the sheep and the older lambs with tar, to prevent a
certain species of fly from depositing its eggs and larvae there,
causing what was known, later in the year, as "grubs in the head," an
affection that often causes many deaths in neglected flocks.

A rainy day is often a farm boy's only holiday. In the afternoon we
talked of going down to the lake to fish for pickerel. It came on to
rain too heavily, however. Halstead had gone up-stairs to our room, and
was hammering at something or other, making a great noise. We heard
Addison, who was trying to read in his room, which adjoined, repeatedly
begging Halse to desist. Theodora and I played a few games at checkers
in the sitting-room, then went up to see Addison. He was reading from
Audubon's work on American birds (_Ornithological Biography_), of which
he had three volumes that had been his father's; but he did not own the
great volumes of engravings which should accompany them, the want of
which he often lamented. I remember that he read to us a number of
little anecdotes of wild geese, among others how a certain "mighty
miller," with a great gun loaded with rifle balls, had shot geese clean
across the Ohio River. He then turned to the description of the heron.
"Herons build their nests down in the pines near the lake," said he. "I
have asked the Old Squire about making a trip there. He says I can go
Saturday afternoon. I would like to have you two and Ellen go with me,
but I do not want Halstead. You know how he always cuts up."

"But he will feel hurt if we go without him," Theodora said.

"If he would go and behave himself, I wouldn't say a word against it,"
replied Addison.

"Perhaps he would this time," said Theodora.

"I don't believe it."

"But he is our cousin, you know."

"The more's the pity, I say."

"But do not say it."

"We shall all say it before long, I'm afraid. Do you know where he goes

"No," said Theodora, with a sigh.

"Well, I do not, but there is something wrong going on. I've thought so
for some time. The Old Squire does not know of it."

"I thought he seemed to suspect something last Sunday," said Theodora.

"Yes, but he doesn't see as much as I do."

"Couldn't you find out more about it?" asked Theodora.

"Very likely; but then I do not like to go spying after Halse."

"But perhaps you ought."

"I don't know about that."

They both seemed perplexed. Addison was turning over leaves in the book;
and Theodora sat looking at the birds, absently.

"Let's not make any secret about going to see the herons," she said at
length. "Even if you don't want to ask Halstead to go, let him know we
are going, and if he wants to go with us, do not say anything against
it. We must not shun him, or have him think we do."

It was left like that.

The Old Squire spoke of our going at breakfast the next morning, and I
heard Halstead asking Theodora about it afterwards. I knew from what he
said that night after we had gone up to bed, that he meant to go.

Saturday was fair. After dinner Addison went up to his room a few
minutes, then came down with the gun. Theodora had put on her hat and
came out under the trees where I was standing. Seeing us, Addison came
along and asked if we were ready. Ellen and little Wealthy also joined
us. Halstead was sitting at the front door, and as we started off, he
came along, saying, "I guess I'll go, too. Ad forgot to invite me, I

Addison did not reply, and we went on for some time without speaking.

Leaving the road at the turn by the school-house, we went through the
pastures toward the valley of Foy Brook. The great pines in which the
herons built stand a little up from the lake. There are several groves
of them; many of the trees were gnarled, for which reason the lumbermen
had rejected them; some of them were four and five feet in diameter and
crooked into fantastic shapes.

Very agreeably and somewhat to our surprise, Halstead was on his good
behavior. He was polite to the girls and helped them over the brush
fences; and when, on coming nearer the pines, Addison asked us to go in
as quietly as we could, he complied, not even allowing a twig to snap
under his feet.

Addison wished to see the herons undisturbed; and the rest of us kept a
little to the rear while he went on cautiously. Presently he stopped,
then turned and whispered to us to come up quietly behind him and look
over his shoulder. "Up there," said he, pointing into the top of one of
the pines. In a fork, formed by the very highest branches, there was a
great mass of sticks and reeds as large as a two-bushel basket.

"That's one of the nests," whispered Addison. "And see that head and
long, pointed beak, just over the top of it! The old hen heron is

"But look there!" whispered Halstead, pointing into another tree.

On a high, dead limb stood a heron on one long leg, perfectly
motionless. The other foot was drawn up so as to be hidden in the
feathers of the under part of its body. Its neck was crooked back so far
that its long bill rested on its breast. It was seemingly asleep, and
looked so ungainly that Ellen laughed outright, despite Addison's
injunctions to be quiet.

Several other nests were presently discovered, high up among the green

"If you want to shoot one, to stuff," whispered Halstead, "you will not
get a better chance than that," pointing to the one asleep. "He is just
in good easy range."

"It seems too bad to shoot him, while he is sleeping," said Theodora.

"Once let him wake up and see us, and he will make himself scarce in a
hurry," said Halstead. "Better make sure of him, Ad."

Addison cocked the gun, and, raising it slowly, fired. The great bird
uttered a hoarse squawk, straightened up, then toppled over and fell to
the ground. Instantly there arose a deafening chorus of squawks. Herons
flew up from the tree tops all about us. The tops of the pines fairly
rocked. Great sticks, dirt and cones came rattling down. Upward they
soared in a great flock, several hundred feet above the trees, then flew
around and around overhead, uttering hoarse cries.

We ran to the place where the wounded heron had fallen. He lay extended
on the ground; but a bright sinister eye was turned up, watching us with
silent defiance.

"Don't go too near," said Addison. "He will strike with his beak. You
know I read to you, from Audubon, how a gentleman came near losing an
eye from the sudden stroke of a wounded heron. They always aim for the

He put out the butt of the gun, extending it slowly toward the bird. The
heron watched it till within a couple of feet, then struck quick as
thought, darting its bill against the hard walnut of the gunstock.

Meanwhile the other herons had flown off to the side of the mountain,
half a mile away. Now and then one would come back and circle about over
the pines.

Addison desired to examine a nest. One of the pines had low knots on the
trunk, within six feet of the ground, and a little higher up drooping
branches. There was a nest near the top. Halstead offered to climb up to
it. Addison and I lifted him up to the knots. He climbed up by these to
the lowest limbs, and then went on from branch to branch toward the top.

"Two eggs!" he shouted, peeping over into the great nest.

"Don't break them!" cried Addison. "Bring them down if you can!"

Halstead took them out and put them into his loose frock, then, before
we guessed what he was going to do, he had upset the nest from the
branches in which it rested, and it came bumping down through the boughs
to the ground. The fall shook it to pieces considerably, yet we could
see what its shape had been. There were some sticks in it three and four
feet long, as thick as a man's wrist. The inside was lined with dry
grass. It was large enough to allow the old heron to double its long
legs and sit in it comfortably. Halse now came down with the eggs. They
were of a dirty white color, the shells rough and uneven. Theodora
imagined that they would be as large as goose-eggs; they were not larger
than those of a turkey,--about two and a half inches in length by one
and a half in width.

"I shall carry them home and hatch them under a hen," said Addison.

"I guess the old hen will cackle when she sees what she has hatched,"
exclaimed Ellen, laughing.

While we were looking at them, a noise in the brush startled us, and,
turning hastily, we saw a young man wearing a glazed cap standing at the
border of alders, near the brook. His appearance startled us somewhat.
Presently we noticed that he was beckoning, evidently to Halstead, and
that the latter seemed very uneasy; he bent over the eggs and pretended
not to see any one. But the fellow continued loitering there; and at
last Halse jumped up, saying, "I'll see what he wants, I guess," and
went out to the alders. The man stepped back and they both disappeared
among the bushes.

We stood waiting for some minutes, then started to go slowly out through
the pines into the pasture and homeward with our trophies.

"Who could that have been?" Ellen exclaimed to Addison in a low voice;
but Addison merely shook his head.

Somewhat to our surprise, we found Halstead at home in advance of us; he
had already sat down to supper with Gramp and Gram.

That night, after milking was done and we had gone up-stairs to our
room, Halstead said to me, "I suppose you saw that fellow that came to
see me down at the pines this afternoon."

I said yes.

"That was a poor chap I promised to buy some seed-corn for," Halse went
on, hastily. "He came around to get the money; and I'm going to try to
make it up somehow, though I haven't got the money just now. Couldn't
let me have seventy-five cents, could you?"

I said that I could, for I felt relieved to think that the mysterious
person was merely a poor farmer.

Halstead regarded me for some moments. "I wish you would ask Doad and
Nell if they won't lend me a quarter apiece," he said at length. "I can
just make it up, if you would. I hate to ask them myself. But I will
give it back to you in the course of a month.

"I wouldn't say anything to Ad about it," Halstead went on; "Ad don't
like me and I don't want to feel beholden to him for anything."

I replied that I did not feel quite well enough acquainted with Theodora
and Ellen yet, to ask such a favor; but as Halstead seemed to feel hurt
that I hesitated about it, I finally promised to speak to them, although
I disliked the errand.

Next day was Sunday, and after breakfast we all set off, except Ellen
and Gram, to go to the old meeting-house, called the "chapel," three
miles distant, on a road leading westward from the farm. It was a very
hilly road, and we three boys walked; but Theodora and Wealthy rode with
the Old Squire in the two-seated wagon.

I had been accustomed to go to church in a more handsomely furnished
edifice, and the old chapel seemed, at first, very rude to me. It was a
weather-beaten structure, having a high gallery across one end and an
almost equally high pulpit at the other. The floor was bare, and the
box-shaped pews were not many of them provided with cushions. There was
a great clatter of feet when the people came in, and the roof gave back
hollow echoes.

The Old Squire and Gram were nominally Congregationalists, and the old
meeting-house had once belonged to that sect; but becoming reduced in
numbers, and being unable to support a clergyman of that denomination
during the entire year, they had allowed the Methodists, and finally the
Second Adventists, to hold meetings there.

The Old Squire, indeed, was by no means a strict sectarian; he attended
the Methodist service and sometimes, not often, the Adventist. Gram was
more conservative and did not go, as a rule, except when there was a
Congregationalist minister, although she always spoke well of the
Methodists; and the Methodist Elder Witham (the same who took the
Vermifuge) frequently visited at the farm.

"All Christians are good people," Gramp was accustomed to say.

"Well," Gram would reply, placidly, "I cannot help believing that we
(meaning the Congregationalists) are in the right."

The Old Squire's chief objection to the Adventists was, that their
preachers had come into the place uninvited, and, by their zealous
efforts, had caused a considerable number to withdraw from the church,
thus breaking up the Congregationalist Society in that town.

"I do not take it upon me to say who is right and who is wrong on these
great religious questions," the old gentleman used to remark, when the
subject came up. "But I disapprove of sowing the seeds of dissension in
any church." However, he used sometimes to go to hear the Adventists'

It was Elder Witham's turn to preach that Sunday. He was a tall, spare
man, and he preached in a long linen "duster." For one I became quite a
good deal interested in the sermon, for the preacher began very
pleasantly by telling us several short anecdotes. Toward the close of
his discourse, he became very earnest and raised his voice quite near
the shouting pitch.

During intermission, there was an attempt made to organize a Sunday
school. The boys and girls were seated in classes in the pews, and
teachers were appointed from the older members of the church.

There was a small Sunday-school library, consisting of quaint little
books with marbled covers. Each of us was permitted to carry home one of
these small volumes; and I recollect that my book that Sabbath was
entitled _Herman's Repentance_.

The Elder rode home with our folks to tea, and Theodora walked with us
boys. There were six or eight others walking with us, the sons and
daughters of neighbors, to whom Theodora kindly introduced me: Georgie
and Elsie Wilbur, very pretty girls of about Ellen's age, also their
brother Edgar, near my own age, and a large, awkward but smiling
youngster, whose name was Henry Sylvester, whom the others called "Bub."
An older boy of rather swaggering manners overtook us on our way, and
began talking patronizingly to me, without an introduction. His name was
Alfred Batchelder. We also overtook a boy named Willis Murch, who had
stopped to sit, waiting for us, on a large rock beside the road. The
Murch family lived a mile beyond the Old Squire's to the northwest.

The quiet of the walk homeward was somewhat broken in upon, however, by
a scuffle and some hard words betwixt Halstead and Alfred Batchelder.

As we came near the great gate opening into our lane, Theodora walked up
to the house with me, a little behind the others, and told me,
confidentially--for my good, I suppose--that Alfred Batchelder was
deemed a reckless chap whose character was not above reproach. I, on my
part, seized the opportunity to proffer Halstead's petition for the loan
of twenty-five cents.

"I could lend it to him," she replied, "and so can Ellen, I think."

But she seemed thoughtful, and by and by asked me to tell her all that
Halstead had said. I did so, and added that he did not wish Addison to
know about it.

"I am sorry for that," she said, "for I should like to ask Ad's advice.
But I suppose we had better not tell him, if Halse is unwilling."

Later that evening she gave me the money, along with twenty-five cents
from Ellen. I handed it to Halstead that night, a dollar and a quarter
in all. He appeared much pleased.

"Does Ad know it, or the old gent?" he asked me, and cried, "Good!" when
I said they did not.

He sat on the side of the bed and tossed up the five quarter pieces,
catching them as they fell.

"I know a way to get plenty of these fellers," he remarked to me at

"What makes you borrow of the girls, then?" I asked.

"O, you needn't be scared. I'll soon pay you all," he retorted.

But I had begun to doubt that the money was to pay for a poor farmer's



Monday morning dawned bright and very warm. As we were about to sit down
to breakfast, Catherine Edwards called at the door and left a letter for
me, from my mother, which had arrived at the Corners post-office on
Saturday, but which Neighbor Edwards, who had brought the mail for us
late that evening, had overlooked; my letter had consequently lain over,
in his coat pocket, until that morning, when he had chanced to discover

My mother had written me a very nice letter, as such letters go,
exhorting me to good behavior in general; and if she had stopped short
at that point, it would have been better. She went on, however, to tell
me of affairs at home, of what she was doing, of "Bush," our cat, of the
canary, of three or four boys and girls with whom I was acquainted, and
also of a grand parade of returned soldiers.

I had not half finished it, when I was seized with such a pang of
homesickness as I hope never to feel again; in fact, I do not believe
that I ever could feel another such pang. It penetrated my entire being;
I could not swallow a mouthful of breakfast. It seemed to me that I
should choke and die right there, if I did not get up and start for home
that very minute;--and I knew I could not go. Blue is no adequate word
with which to describe such sensations. In the course of an hour,
however, this first fit passed off for the most part, but left me very
pensive and melancholy. I was aware, too, that the Old Squire had
noticed my mood.

As we hoed corn that forenoon, a boy came driving a horse and "drag"
into the field; it was Edgar Wilbur, one of the lads whom I had seen the
day before while coming from church. The Wilburs lived at the farm next
beyond the Edwardses, about three-quarters of a mile distant from us.
Mr. Wilbur was not a wholly thrifty farmer, and often borrowed tools at
the Old Squire's. Edgar had now come for the "cultivator," for their

While we were loading it on the drag for him, Edgar told us boys that he
had to go to the back pasture to salt their sheep that afternoon, and
asked us to go with him. Addison replied that we were too busy with our
hoeing; but the Old Squire, who had overheard what was said, looked at
me with a compassionate smile, and said that I might go if I liked. I
suppose he hoped that the trip with Edgar would cheer me up.
Accordingly, after dinner, I was given my liberty, and set off for the
Wilburs, leaving Halstead grumbling over what he deemed my unmerited
good fortune.

The Wilburs lived in a one-story red house; and their barn was a
somewhat weather-beaten, infirm old structure, yet the place had a cozy
appearance; there were beds of flowers by the house door, and a great
bunch of pink hedge roses on one side of the way leading into the yard,
with a thick bush of lilacs on the other. Elsie and Georgie were at the
district school; but Mrs. Wilbur, a fresh-faced, pleasant woman, came to
the door and very kindly asked me in, offering me presently a glass of
spruce beer which had a queer flavor, I thought, and which I was not
quite able to finish.

Meantime Edgar--or Ned, as his mother called him--had filled a six-quart
pail with salt, and we set off immediately for the sheep pasture. The
distance was considerable, fully a mile; we first crossed their hay
fields, then a cow pasture and then a belt of woodland, through which
ran a cart road. Gradually ascending a considerable slope of the
woodland, we came out upon the cleared crest of a long ridge. This was
the "back pasture;" it was inclosed by a high hedge fence, made of
short, dry, spruce shrubs. This fence we climbed, and then Edgar began
calling the sheep,--"Ca-day, ca-day, ca-day, ca-day," stopping at
intervals to give me various items of information as to their flock and
the extent of the pasture. The Murches, who lived on the farm next
beyond the Wilburs, pastured their sheep with them, in this same back
pasture; they had a flock of thirty-eight, while the Wilburs had
thirty-three, but there were over a hundred lambs. Every spring the two
farmers and the boys repaired, or rebuilt, the high hedge fence in
company. The pasture was of seventy-five acres extent, Edgar said; but
it was much broken by crags and grown up to patches of dark, low spruce.

Altogether it was a very wild locality, wholly inclosed by somber
forests; and from the top of one of the ledges, which I climbed, I could
see no cleared land, far or near, save on the side next to their farms,
and that at quite a distance. This ledge, I recollect, had a vein of
white quartz running across it, displaying at one point a trace of
rose-color; and I remember thinking that some time I would come here and
break out specimens of this handsome stone.

At length in response to Ned's calls, we heard a faint _ba-a-a_, toward
the north end of the pasture, and going in that direction, past a number
of spruce copses and many other ledges, we came in sight of the flock of
sheep, feeding in a hollow near a spring. A great mob of lambs were
following their mothers and frisking about the rocks; and there was one
black sheep and one black lamb which, at first sight, I thought were
dogs or some other animals. "That black sheep is Murches'," Ned said.
"She's got two lambs; but that black lamb is in our flock. There's South
Down blood in a good many of them. You can tell the South Downs by their
black fore legs and smut faces. There's fifteen pairs of twins in our
flock and about as many in Murches'. Ca-day, ca-day, ca-day."

Catching sight of us and the salt pail, the flock now came crowding
eagerly about us. The ovine odor was very strong. Black flies troubled
the poor creatures grievously, and another larger, evil-looking fly was
buzzing about their noses.

"We are coming up in a day or two and tar all their noses," said Ned,
dealing out the salt in numerous handfuls, throwing it down on smooth
spots upon the grass, and running backwards to avoid the onward rush of
the sheep.

"Now let's count 'em," he continued. "We always count 'em when we salt
'em. Let's see, can you reckon good? Murches have got thirty-eight sheep
and fifty-three lambs, and we've got thirty-three sheep and forty-eight
lambs. How many does that make in all?"

After some cogitation, we agreed that there must be seventy-one sheep
and a hundred and one lambs, or a hundred and seventy-two all told. That
was what there should be; and we now set out to ascertain by counting if
all were there.

This was a greater feat than would appear at first thought, the flock
was so crowded together and so constantly running about. We made several
attempts, but as many times lost the count, or grew confused. At length,
we drove the sheep apart, and the salt being eaten by this time, we
contrived to enumerate eighty-two on one side and eighty-seven on the

"Now how many's that?" said Ned. I could not make but a hundred and
sixty-nine from it; but Ned said that he guessed 'twas more. After
studying on it awhile, however, he agreed with me; and we then counted
the flock again, twice more, in fact, before we were both satisfied that
there were but a hundred and sixty-nine present.

"Now that's bad," said Ned.

"What suppose has become of them?" I asked.

"Dogs, maybe," replied Ned, "or else a 'lucivee,' or a bear."

"Perhaps 'twas men," I suggested.

"O no, I don't think that," said Ned. "If 'twas in the fall, I should
think it might be, for there are some folks down at the Corners that
have been laid in stealing sheep. But let's see whether it's sheep or
lambs that's gone, and whose 'tis, whether it's ours or Murches'. Now
all our sheep have got two slits in the right ear and a crop off the
left; but Murches' have a crop off both ears; and all our lambs have got
red paint across the fore shoulders, but Murches' have got red on the
rump." This necessitated a new count and a much more difficult one.

"I'll count the ones with slits and crops," said Ned; "and you count the
ones with two crops." But we were nearly half an hour establishing the
fact that one of the "two crops" was missing.

"It is one of Murches' sheep that's gone," said Ned; "I'm glad it isn't
ours." We then counted the lambs and found also that the missing ones
were two of the Murches'.

"It's an old sheep with twins," said Ned.

"Isn't she off by herself somewheres?" I asked.

"Not very likely to be unless she's got hung; they always keep
together," replied Ned. "But she may have got hung in the brush, or else
has tumbled in between big rocks and can't get out. I suppose we ought
to look her up if that's so.

"I'll tell you what we will do," continued Ned; "we will walk clean
round the pasture, in the first place, keeping where we can see the
fence, for she may be hung in it."

Thereupon we set off to walk around the pasture, going along the farther
side to the northwest and the southwest first. The fence skirted the
thick bushes and woods. Toward the southwest corner there was a long,
craggy ledge a little within the pasture fence. It fell off, rough,
rocky and almost perpendicular on that side, from a height of fifteen or
twenty feet, and about the foot of the crag were many of the low, black
spruces, but from the upper side one could walk out on the bare, smooth
rocks to the very brink of the ledge. We approached from this upper
side, and as we came out on it, to look down into the corner of the
pasture, a crow cawed suddenly and sharply, and we saw three crows rise,
flapping, off the ground, below the crag.

"Hoh!" Ned exclaimed. "What are those black chaps up to there?"

We stopped and looked down attentively into the partly open plat of
pasture, inclosed around on the lower side by the seared, reddish line
of the now dried hedge fence.

"Why, Ned, see the wool down there on the ground!" I cried, as a white
mass caught my eye.

"Something's killed the sheep there!" replied Ned, in a low tone. "See
the head there and the meat and bones strung along. Something's killed
her and eaten her half up; and there looks to be part of a lamb farther
along by that little fir."

A very strange sensation, partly fear, stole over me, as we stood there
looking down upon the torn remains of the sheep and lamb. The place was
far off in the woods and the surroundings were wild and somber. There
was something uncanny, too, in the way those crows rose up and went
flapping away. In less degree, I think Ned experienced similar
sensations, for he stood without speaking for a moment, then said, "O it
may have been done by a dog, or maybe she died.

"Let's climb down and see what we can see," he continued.

"We can see that the sheep is dead from up here," I replied, for I did
not like the idea of going down there very well.

"Come along," said Ned, laughing. "You needn't be afraid."

"I'm not afraid," said I. "But it is a kind of lonesome looking place."

"Yes, 'tis," replied Ned, stopping for a little to look again. "But
let's go down and see. They'll ask us all about it, and we've got to
find out what we can."

He walked along the top of the ledge, and, coming to a place where we
could descend between some large split rocks, began to climb down. I
followed after him, a little in the rear. Ned had got down among the
small spruces, at the foot of the crag, when he suddenly called back to
me that one of the lambs was there. "Poor little chap, he's hid here,
under the brush," he continued; and on getting down, I saw the lamb
standing far under the thick, dark boughs.

"I never saw a lamb hide in that way before," said Ned. "He's been awful
scared by something."

We crept around and tried to catch the lamb; it ran along the foot of
the rocks among the evergreens, but did not bleat, nor behave at all as
lambs generally do.

"He's got blood on his side there," remarked Ned. "But he may have got
that off the old sheep."

After looking at the lamb a moment, Ned started to go down where the
carcass of the sheep lay, but I felt a little timid and stood still,
near the foot of the rocks.

It was not far to go, not more than a hundred feet, I think, being about
half way down to the thick, reddish hedge of recently cut spruce. Ned
approached within a few yards and after looking at the fleece and bones
a minute, stopped to pick up a wisp of wool, when from right at hand
there burst forth the most frightful growl that I ever heard. It broke
on the utter stillness of that quiet nook like a thunder peal and it so
wrought on my already alert senses that I yelled outright from sudden

For the moment I could not have told from what quarter the terrible
sound came, for the high rocks behind me reverberated it. Following
instantly upon the growl, however, we heard a cracking of the brush in
the thicket below the hedge fence; and next moment there issued through
a hole in it a large black animal of terrific aspect, that to my
startled eyes looked as large as an ox!

Not that I stopped to estimate its size. I was on the move by the time
it had issued from the hole of the hedge fence;--but a boy's eye will
take in a good deal at one glance, under such circumstances. It was a
steep ascent betwixt the rocks to the top of the ledge; but if I had
possessed wings, I could not have got up much more quickly. As I gained
the top, I thought of striking off for the upper side of the pasture,
and thence running for my life toward the farms; but at the same instant
my eye fell on a low-growing oak, a few rods away, the lower limbs of
which I thought that I could jump up and seize. I had started for it,
but had taken only a bound or two, when I heard Ned say, "Hold on,"
behind me. I looked back. He had gained the top of the ledge almost as
quickly as I had, but had stopped there. "Hold on," he exclaimed in a
low voice. I stopped and stood, half breathless and panting, ready to
bound away again and half inclined to do so.

Ned was looking down from the ledge and motioned to me with his hand to
return. After some hesitation, I tiptoed back to him.

"See him?" he whispered to me. "He's right there behind that little
spruce, close beside the sheep. He's looking up here and harking!" The
black animal was half hidden by the spruce boughs, yet I could see him,
and experienced a curious nervous thrill as I made out its shaggy

"Isn't it a bear?" I whispered.

"Cracky, yes," whispered Ned. "A big one, too!"

"But won't he chase us?"

"Guess not," replied Ned. "Ye see, 'tis the sheep he felt so mad about.
He'd killed the sheep and that lamb last night, I expect, and eaten them
part up. And he had only gone down there a little way into the firs
behind the fence and was kinder watching till he got hungry again. He
saw and heard us come along, but he kept still and didn't say a word
till he saw me stoop down to touch it. Then, sir, he just spoke right
out in meetin'! Told me to get out and let his meat alone. O, don't I
wish I had a good gun, loaded with a ball!"

"Would you dare to fire at him, Ned?" I said.

"Well," replied Ned, doubtfully, looking around and seeing the oak, and
then glancing down the rocks, "I dunno, but I believe I would get good
aim and let strip at him. If I hit him and hurt him, but didn't kill
him, he might come for us, lickety switch. But he couldn't get up here
very quick. We should have time to climb that tree."

"I wish we could shoot him!" I whispered, beginning to wax warlike.

"I've a great mind to let a stone go down there," said Ned, looking
about. "Let's both get stones and throw at once, and see what he will
do. If he starts up here, we'll put for that tree."

This was an extremely exciting proposition, but I was getting bolder. We
found each a stone as big as a coffee-cup.

"Now both together," whispered Ned, and we flung them with all our
power. We did not hit our mark, but they struck the ground near the
spruce and bounced past it, quite closely. The bear growled again,
savagely, and started stiffly out from his covert, past the remains of
the sheep. We both turned to run, but noticing that the creature had
stopped, we pulled up again. The bear saw us and growled repeatedly, yet
did not come far past his jealously guarded treasure. He shuffled about,
keeping his head drawn down in a peculiar manner, but we could see that
his eye was on us. After a few moments, he drew back behind the spruce
again. Thereupon we threw more stones; and again the beast rushed out,
growling and scratching up the grass in an odd manner; he did not appear
inclined to pursue us, however, and we now noticed that there was
something clumsy in its gait, like a limp.

"Gracious!" Ned suddenly exclaimed. "That's old 'Three-Legs!' He's come
round again!"

"What, the bear that lost his foot in a trap?" I asked, remembering what
Ellen and Theodora had told me a few days before.

"Yes, siree!" cried Ned. "He's an awful old sheep-killer! He comes round
once in a while. But he's mighty cunning! He's a savage one, too, but he
can't run very fast."

"Then let's pelt him!" I exclaimed.

"No, no," said Ned. "We must hurry back home and raise a crew. That bear
must be killed, you know. If we don't, he will come round every week and
take a sheep all summer."

We therefore set off in haste, to run to the Wilbur farm, where we
arrived very hot and out of breath just as the family was sitting down
to supper. "Old 'Three-Legs' is in the sheep pasture!" shouted Ned at
the door. "Get the gun, pa! I'm going to tell the Murches!"

Mr. Wilbur owned a gun, but it was not in shooting condition. We then
ran down the hill to the Murch farm, and there our story created
considerable excitement. Ben and Willis at once brought out a
double-barrelled gun, which their father proceeded to load, but they
lacked bullets and heavy shot. Willis and Ned and I therefore ran to the
Edwardses to notify Thomas and his father and procure ammunition. At the
Edwardses they had both shot and also a musket which carried balls. This
latter weapon was at once charged for bear.

Mr. Edwards, however, advised me to go home and notify the Old Squire
and Addison, in order that they, too, might join the hunt, if disposed.

I set off at a run again; but by this time I had become not a little
leg-weary; night, too, was at hand. The boys were milking, and I met the
Old Squire coming toward the house with two brimming pailfuls. "Old
'Three-Legs' has just killed one of Murches' sheep and a lamb, too!" I

"Is that so?" said the old gentleman, but the intelligence did not
excite him so much as I had expected it would. He looked at me and said,
"You look badly heated. You have run too hard."

"But that old bear's killed a sheep!" I exclaimed. "They are all going
after him. They sent me to get you and the boys."

By this time Addison and Halstead had risen off their milking stools to
hear the tidings, and exhibited signs of interest.

"Did you see the bear, my son?" the Old Squire asked.

"Yes, siree!" I exclaimed, and thereupon I poured forth all the
particulars. "They want all of us to load our guns and go with them," I
cried expectantly.

"Well," remarked the Old Squire, with what seemed to me a very provoking
lack of enthusiasm. "If they are all going, I guess they will not need
us. You had better go to the well and wash your face and head in some
cold water, then rest a while and have your supper; it has been a very
hot day."

"But old Three-Legs!" I exclaimed. "He may get away!"

"Yes, he may," said Gramp, laughing. "I should not wonder if he did.

"I will tell you something about bears, my son," he went on,
good-naturedly. "A bear is quite a knowing animal, and sometimes very
cunning. This one they call old 'Three-Legs' is remarkably so. I'm very
sure that, if we all went over there as quick as we could, and stayed
around all night, we shouldn't find him. That bear knew just as well as
you did that you had gone to get help and would be back with it; and I
shouldn't wonder if by this time he was three miles away--and still
going. What that bear did after you and Ned left was to listen awhile,
till he made sure you were gone, then stuff himself with as much more of
that mutton as he could hold, and leave the place as fast as he could
go. He's gone, you may depend upon it;--and he will not come near that
place again for a week or two probably. That is bear nature and bear
wit. They seem to know some things almost as well as men. They know when
they kill sheep that men will make a fuss about it. That bear was lying
quiet there, with his ears open for trouble; he wasn't much afraid of
two boys, but he knows there are men and guns not far off."

I was really very tired and after hearing this view of the case was not
much sorry to rest and have my supper. We learned next day that Thomas
and his father, and Ned and the Murches went over to the pasture with
their guns, but they failed to find the bear. The Murches set a trap at
the place where the sheep had been killed, and kept it there for ten
days. A hound was caught in it, but no bear.

I remember that my sleep that night was somewhat disturbed by exciting
dreams of hunting. At the breakfast table next morning I told the story
of our adventure over again, and described the ugly demonstrations of
the bear at such length, that I presently saw grandfather smiling, and
detected Addison giving a sly wink to Theodora. This confused me so much
that I stopped in haste and was more cautious about my realistic
descriptions in future. Halstead began hectoring me that forenoon
concerning my adventure, and nicknamed me "the great bear hunter." Much
incensed, I retorted by asking him whether he had paid for that
seed-corn. Hearing that, Addison, who was near us, cast an inquiring
look at Halstead, and the latter hurriedly changed the subject; he was
unusually polite to me for several days afterwards.



The jaunt with Edgar and the excitement about old "Three-Legs" had
distracted my thoughts for the time being, but had not cured me of
homesickness. Two days later my mother sent me by mail my book of
arithmetic, the one I had recently used at school; she thought that I
might attend the district school in Maine and need it.

Now there is not usually much in a text-book of arithmetic that excites
fond memories in a boy of thirteen. Often the reverse. But I had no
sooner taken that well-thumbed book from its wrapping of brown paper,
than another pang of homesickness went through me; and this time it was
nostalgia in earnest.

If, at this moment, there is anywhere in the United States, or in the
whole world, a boy or girl who is homesick, I know how to pity each and
all of them. I do not suppose that my pity will do them much good.
Nothing does much good. But I know exactly how they feel, and they have
my heartiest sympathy.

Whoever ridicules and laughs at any one who is truly homesick must have
a hard heart and a shallow mind. It is no laughing matter. Homesickness
is something midway between a physical disease and a mental worry. It
has a real, physiological cause, and is due to the inability of the
brain to adapt itself, without a struggle, to the strangeness of new
scenes and new surroundings; and that struggle is often a very painful

Homesickness had not fallen upon me at first, there were so many new
things to see, so many new cousins and young neighbors to get acquainted
with. For a time my attention was wholly taken up with the novelties of
the place. The farm, the cattle, the birds, the work which we had to do,
everything, in fact, was novel. Perhaps for that very reason, when the
mental struggle to really adapt myself to it came, it was the more
profound and severe.

That morning I had no sooner unwrapped this old book than the pang began
again. I could not swallow a mouthful of breakfast. It really seemed to
me that I should die right then and there if I did not get up and start
for home.

_Blue_ is no adequate word with which to describe what I suffered. It
came upon me with a suddenness, too, which nearly took my breath with
it. At the table were the bright, cheery faces of my cousins, and of the
Old Squire and Gram; but for the moment, how saddening, poor and dreary
everything looked to me! The thought of remaining there, month after
month, gave me heart-sink like death.

Kind parent, if you have a boy or girl off at school, or anywhere at a
distance, whom you wish to be happy and content, do not write very much
to them, and above all things do not go on to tell them of home affairs,
home scenes and familiar objects. It is mistaken kindness. It might
possibly answer--if a boy--to speak of a woodpile soon to be sawn;
or--if a girl--to allude to great heaps of dishes to be washed; but I
would not even advise much of that, nor anything else in the least
suggestive of home scenes; in fact, write as little as possible.

I remember, as I sat there at table, unable to eat, or even to swallow
my coffee, that Cousin Theodora glanced compassionately at me, and Ellen
and Addison curiously. They surmised what ailed me, from their own
previous experience, but said nothing. The Old Squire and Gram, too,
wisely forebore to stir me by foolishly expressed sympathy. How glad I
was that they did not speak to me!

The day passed drearily enough, and as evening drew on, still gloomier
shadows fell into my mind. I stole away to read my mother's letter again
and be alone with my trouble. Billow after billow of the blackest misery
broke over me. I went out into the garden, then around to the back side
of the west barn; the darkening landscape was not more somber than my
heart. How unspeakably dreary the dim, weathered old barn, the shadowy
hills and forests looked to me! Not less dreary seemed my whole future.
I felt exiled. It appeared to me that I should never know another happy
moment, that I never could, by any possibility, enjoy myself again. I
sat down on a stone, in the dark, put my head in my hands, and gave
myself up to the most somber reflections. Cold despair crept into me at
every pore. A fever of tears then filled my eyes. I laid wild plans to
escape; I would run away that very night and go home. The distance, as I
knew, was about five hundred miles; but I was sure that I could walk
twenty miles per day, perhaps thirty. In twenty days I could reach home.
I did not think much about food by the way; it did not appear to me that
I should want to touch a mouthful of anything eatable till I reached
home. If I did so far desire, I fancied that I might gather a few
berries by the wayside. Then I began to plan the details of setting off.
I would go indoors and put on my other suit of clothes, after the family
were asleep; and not to be too mean and cause too much anxiety, I
determined to write a few words on a bit of paper and slip it under
Theodora's door, advising them all not to worry about me, as I had gone
home, "for a time." These latter words I concluded to add, by way of
breaking it a little more gently to them, not that I had the slightest
intention of ever returning.

As I sat there with my hands over my face, planning, and brewing hot
tears, I heard a step in the grass, and looking up, saw a tall, shadowy
figure which I knew must be the Old Squire.

"Is that you, 'Edmund?'" he said, as I jumped up off the stone. He still
called me that sometimes. "It is a close night, I declare," he
continued. "I had about as lief be out here in the cool myself, as in
the house abed. But the mosquitoes bite a little, don't they?".

I had neither noticed that the evening was hot, nor yet that there were
any mosquitoes; I was quite insensible to ordinary physical influences.

The old gentleman lay down on the grass beside me. "Let's lay and talk a
spell," said he. "I never come round back of the barn here, but that I
think of the fox I shot when I was a young man. That fox had a 'brush'
as big 'round as your leg, the biggest fox-tail I ever saw. He had been
coming around the barns for some time; I used to hear him bark,
mornings, about four o'clock."

The Old Squire then went on, at length, to tell me how he watched for
the fox, and how he loaded the old "United-States-piece" musket for it,
and how he finally fired and shot the fox, but that the gun nearly broke
his collar-bone, he had loaded it so heavily. He was nigh half an hour
telling me all about it, and in spite of myself, I grew somewhat

"Why, how these mosquitoes do bite!" he finally exclaimed, giving one a
rousing slap. "Let's go in before they eat us up, and go to bed."

I went in with him and went to bed, but my trouble had now cankered too
deeply to be easily calmed. In the blackness of the bedchamber it beset
me again. Like other maladies, nostalgia, when once set up, must run its
course, I suppose. It never has appeared to me that I slept at all that
night, yet perhaps I did. Long before daylight, however, I was again
shedding hot tears and laying wild plans. But my thoughts had now taken
on an even gloomier and more desperate shade. What was the use of my
going home, I thought; my mother did not want me there. What was the use
of living in such a hopelessly dreary world! Live there at the Old
Squire's I could not, would not; of that I was certain. I never could
endure it. The thought of existing there, as I then felt, week after
week and month after month, was simply unbearable. Better die at once. I
began to think of various cases of suicide of which I had heard, or
read--in my happier days: the rope, poison, drowning. The latter I
believed to be the easier method of death; and I thought of the Little
Sea down where we washed the sheep and had begun to go in swimming on
warm days. There was water enough there in the deepest place;--and once
in, it would soon be over!

As the hours of the night dragged by, I began to take a morbid pleasure
in thinking about it, as if I had fully decided the question. I really
believed that I had as good as decided to drown myself; and when at
length we were called at five o'clock, I rose to dress in a very
unhealthy frame of mind.

"What's the matter with you?" exclaimed Halstead, as we were putting on
our shoes.

"Nothing," said I, heavily.

"You look as if you had lost your best friend," said he, with an
unsympathetic grin.

"I shall lose something more than that before long," I replied, with a
miserable effort at mystery.

"You don't say!" cried he, ironically, and went out with an air of hard
indifference, not at all flattering to my self-love.

How poor and undesirable the house, the farm, the whole world, looked to
me that morning. I plodded about, assisting to do the early chores; I
really had no appetite for my breakfast, and stole away from the table
after a few moments. Gram called after me, to know if I were unwell; I
did not dare trust myself to reply, lest I should burst forth weeping,
and hastening out to the Balm o' Gilead trees, stood looking down the
lane a moment, with a dreadful tumult of repressed misery raging within
me. My mental malady had reached a crisis; I was wild with anguish. It
appeared to me that I never could endure it. One thought only kept its
place in my mind--the Little Sea! I stole away down the lane, crossed
the road, then went on through the east field and pasture, till I
reached the brook.

Not that I now believe there was much likelihood of my drowning myself.
Even if I had been wretched enough to jump in, the first spoonful of
cold water in my nose would probably have sent me scrambling out, as
would have been the case with hundreds who have really drowned
themselves, if only they had not jumped into too deep water. But I
wanted to do something or other very desperate, what, I hardly knew
myself. As I ran, I debated whether I should take off my clothes, or
drown with them on; I did not remember reading how suicides of
hydropathic tendencies had managed that detail. The boys would find my
body Sunday morning when they came down to bathe, I thought. Yet some
one else might find me; and it seemed more decent and proper to drown
with them on. I walked around the Little Sea and singled out the deepest
place in it, where there was four or five feet of water. It looked to be
fully sufficient.

There was now nothing to prevent my going ahead with my project; but
since I had looked into the water and saw how aqueous it appeared,
considered as a place to spend from that morning on till Sunday in,
haste did not seem altogether so desirable, and I was not in nearly so
great a hurry. I sat down on a stone to think it over once more. It
would be unbecoming, I recollected, to take such a step without mental

Still, I actually did half believe that when I rose from that stone, I
should plunge into the pond. I imagine that I sat there for more than
half an hour, and very likely should have remained much longer had the
Old Squire not made his appearance, glancing curiously over the dam, a
few rods below me.

It struck me as a little singular that he should be there so early and
so very soon after breakfast. He had an axe on his shoulder, however,
and it occurred to me that it might possibly be that he was there to
mend the pasture fence. When he saw me sitting there, he smiled broadly,
and coming nearer said, "Oh, this isn't nearly so good a brook for
fishing as the other one on the west side."

"'Fishing!'" thought I. "How little he knows what brought me here! Can
he not see that I haven't a pole?"

"Don't know exactly why," he continued, retrospectively, "but there
never were nearly so many trout here as in the west brook. I meant to
have given you and Addison a day to go over there before now, but work
has been rather pressing ever since you came."

I rose from the stone, thinking--and not wholly sorry to think--that
suicide must necessarily be postponed for that day, at least; for I
could not, of course, harrow the old gentleman's feelings by plunging
into the Little Sea before his very eyes. He seemed so guileless, too,
and so wholly unsuspecting of my fell design!

As we walked away, he told me of great trout which he had caught when a
boy, particularly of one big three-pound trout which he had captured at
a deep hole in the west brook, down near the lake.

My mind was still too much disturbed to enjoy these piscatorial
reminiscences, however; and noting this, after a time, Gramp opened
another subject with me.

"A man has lately made an offer for my farm and timber lands here," said
he. "I do not know that I shall accept it; but I have had some thoughts
of selling and moving out West. If I should, I suppose you would have
to go back to Philadelphia. If I went West to look for a farm, I should
call at Philadelphia on my way. You and I would make the trip there

It is astonishing what an effect that last remark of grandfather's
produced upon me. The whole world changed from deepest, darkest blue to
rose color in one minute; and I said, provisionally, to myself that even
if he did not sell so that we could start for a month, I could perhaps
endure it.

Observing the cheerier light in my face, probably, the old gentleman
laughed good-naturedly. He had not forgotten what it is to be a boy and
feel a boy's intense sorrows as well as joys; and he went on to say that
a journey to Philadelphia was a mere nothing nowadays. Why, one might
start, as for instance, that morning and be at Philadelphia the next
morning at eleven o'clock!

But how glad I was that he did not notice that I was homesick! He did
not even appear to mistrust such a thing. And as for drowning myself,
well, the less said or thought about that now the better.

I walked back to the house with the Old Squire; and I got him to let me
carry the axe, for I wanted Addison and Halse to think that Gramp and I
had been off mending fence together.

At intervals, however, for a month or more, I continued to be afflicted
by transient spasms of homesickness, but none of them were as severe as
these first ones, and they gradually ceased altogether.

Dear boys and girls who are homesick, it is astonishing sometimes how
quickly the spasm will pass off, and how bright and cheery life will
look again a few moments later. So don't jump into deep water without
waiting a bit to think it over. It is a hard old world to live in. I
don't pretend to tell you that it isn't; yet life has a great many
pleasant spots, after all, if only we will have a little patience and
courage to wait and look for them. Scores of poor, desperate young
people have actually drowned themselves, from one cause or another, who
would have scrambled out and lived happily for years afterwards, if only
they had not jumped in where the water was so deep! A safe rule in all
these cases is never try to commit suicide by drowning till after you
have learned to swim.



To this day I recall with what a zest my appetite returned after that
last attack of homesickness, and how good the farm food tasted. That
day, too, Gram had "mug-bread," and for supper pones made into
Johnny-reb toast. But these, perhaps, are unheard-of dishes to many

The pones were simply large, round, thin corn-meal cakes baked in a
fritter-spider in a hot oven. I have lately written to Cousin Ellen, who
now lives in the far Northwest, to ask her just how they used to make
those pones at the old farm. She has replied lightly that for a batch of
pones, they merely took a quart of yellow corn-meal, two tablespoonfuls
of wheat flour, a teaspoonful of salt and half a teaspoonful of soda,
all well stirred to a thin batter in boiling-hot water. This batter was
then poured into large fritter-spiders, forming thin sheets, and baked
yellow-brown in a hot oven. To make these pones into "Johnny-reb toast,"
they were basted while still hot with butter, then moistened plentifully
with Jersey milk which was half cream, allowed to stand five minutes,
then served still warm.

The recipe, I may add, came from Virginia in 1862, being brought home to
Maine by one of my uncles, who lived for a time in an Old Dominion
family, despite all the asperities of the War. From the same sunny
homeland of historic Presidents we obtained the recipe for a
marvellously good spider-cake, but that came later, as I shall relate in
due course.

As a hungry boy I used sometimes to think that pones and "Johnny-reb
toast" were pretty nearly worth the War to us!

Yet neither of these ever came quite up to "mug-bread"--the best flour
bread ever made, I still verily believe.

But the making and the baking of it are not easy, and a failure with
mug-bread is something awful!

The reader may not know it as mug-bread, for that was a local name,
confined largely to our own Maine homestead and vicinity. It has been
called milk-yeast bread, patent bread, milk-emptyings bread and
salt-rising bread; and it has also been stigmatized by several
opprobrious and offensive epithets, bestowed, I am told, by irate
housewives who lacked the skill and genius to make it.

We named it "mug-bread" because Gram always started it in an old
porcelain mug; a tall, white, lavender-and-gold banded mug, that held
more than a quart, but was sadly cracked, and, for safety's sake, was
wound just above the handle with fine white silk cord.

That mug was sixty-eight years old, and that silk cord had been on it
since 1842. Its familiar kitchen name was "Old Hannah." I suspect that
the interstices of this ancient silk string were the lurking-places of
that delightful yeast microbe that gave the flavor to the bread. For
there was rarely a failure when that mug was used.

About once in four days, generally at night, Gram would take two
tablespoonfuls of corn-meal, ten of boiled milk, and half a teaspoonful
of salt, mix them well in that mug, and set it on the low mantel-shelf,
behind the kitchen stove funnel, where it would keep uniformly warm
overnight. She covered in the top of the mug with an old tin coffee-pot
lid, which just fitted it.

When we saw "Old Hannah" go up there, we knew that some mug-bread was
incubating, and, if all worked well, would be due the following
afternoon for supper. For you cannot hurry mug-bread.

The next morning, by breakfast-time, a peep into the mug would show
whether the little "eyes" had begun to open in the mixture or not. Here
was where housewifely skill came in. Those eyes must be opened just so
wide, and there must be just so many of them, or else it was not safe to
proceed. It might be better to throw the setting away and start new, or
else to let it stand till noon. Gram knew as soon as she had looked at
it. If the omens were favorable, a cup of warm water and a variable
quantity of carefully warmed flour were added, and a batter made of
about the consistency for fritters. This was set up behind the funnel
again, to rise till noon.

More flour was then added and the dough carefully worked and set for a
third rising. About three o'clock it was put in tins and baked in an
even oven.

The favorite loaves with us were "cart-wheels," formed by putting the
dough in large, round, shallow tin plates, about a foot in diameter.
When baked, the yellow-brown, crackery loaf was only an inch thick. The
rule at Gram's table was a "cart-wheel" to a boy, with all the fresh
Jersey butter and canned berries or fruit that he wanted with it.

Sometimes, however, the mug would disappear rather suddenly in the
morning, and an odor as of sulphureted hydrogen would linger about, till
the kitchen windows were raised and the fresh west wind admitted.

That meant that a failure had occurred; the wrong microbe had obtained
possession of the mug. In such cases Gram acted promptly and said
little. She was always reticent concerning mug-bread. It had unspeakable

Ellen and Theodora shared the old lady's reticence. Ellen, in fact,
could never be persuaded to eat it, good as it was.

"I know too much about it," she would say. "It isn't nice."

Beyond doubt, when "mug-bread" goes astray at about the second rising,
the consequences are depressing.

If its little eyes fail to open and the batter takes on a greasy aspect,
with a tendency to crawl and glide about, no time should be lost. Open
all the windows at once and send the batter promptly to the
swill-barrel. It is useless to dally with it. You will be sorry if you
do. When it goes wrong, it is utterly depraved.

I remember an experience which Theodora and Ellen had with mug-bread on
one occasion, when Gram was away from home. Aunt Nabbie and Uncle Pascal
Mowbray came on from Philadelphia while she and the Old Squire were

Aunt Nabbie was grandmother's sister, and she and Uncle Mowbray had been
talking all that season of coming to visit us. But September had been
spoken of as the time they were coming.

They changed their minds, however. Uncle Pascal desired to look after
some business venture of his in Portland, and decided to come in August.
It was a somewhat sudden change of plan, but they sent us a letter the
day before they started, thinking that we would get it and meet them at
the railway station.

Now, all dear city cousins, aunts, uncles and the rest of you who visit
your country relatives, summer or winter, hear me! Do not hold back your
letter telling them you are coming till the day before you start.

Nine times out of ten they will not get it. You will get there before
the letter does; and the chances are that you will have to provide your
own transportation for the six or ten miles from the railway station to
the farm, and you will think that distance longer than all the rest of
the journey.

Most likely, too, you will find the farmer gone to a Grange meeting; and
by the time you have sat round the farmhouse door on your trunk till he
gets back at sunset, you will be homesick, and maybe hungry.

Also--for there are two sides to the matter--your country brother and
his wife will be troubled about it. So send your letter at least a week

The first we knew of the coming of Uncle Pascal and Aunt Nabbie, they
drove into the yard with a livery team from the village, and an express
wagon coming on behind with their trunks.

Besides Uncle and Aunt, there was a smiling, dark-haired youth with
them, a grand-nephew of Uncle Mowbray, named Olin Randall, whom we had
heard of often as a kind of third or fourth cousin, but had never seen.
He had never beheld Maine before, and was regarding everything with
curiosity and a little grin of condescension.

That grin of his nearly upset us, particularly Ellen and "Doad," who for
a hundred reasons wished to make a very favorable impression on Uncle
and Aunt Mowbray and all the family. I nearly forgot to mention that
Uncle Mowbray was reputed very fussy and particular about his food.

Our two-story farmhouse was comfortable and big, and we had plenty of
everything; but of course it was not altogether like one of the finest
houses in Philadelphia. For Uncle Mowbray was a wealthy man, one of
those thrifty, prosperous Philadelphia merchants of the era ending with
the Civil War. He never let a dollar escape him.

They came just at dusk. We boys were doing the chores. The girls were
getting supper. Theodora had resolved to try her hand at a batch of
"mug-bread" for the next day, and had set "Old Hannah" up for it.

The unexpected arrival upset us all a good deal, particularly Ellen and
Theodora, who had to bear the brunt of grandmother's absence, get tea,
see to the spare rooms and do everything else. And then there was Olin,
mildly grinning. His presence disturbed the girls worse than everything
else. But Aunt Nabbie smoothed away their anxieties, and helped to make
all comfortable.

We got through the evening better than had at first seemed likely, and
in the morning the girls rose at five and tried to hurry that
"mug-bread" along, with other things, so as to have some of it for
dinner, for they found that they were short of bread.

Ellen, I believe, thought that they had better not attempt the risky
experiment, but should start some hop-yeast bread.

Theodora, however, peeped into the old mug, saw encouraging eyes in it,
and resolved to go on. They mixed it up with the necessary warm water
and flour and set it carefully back for the second rising.

Perhaps they had a little hotter fire than usual, perhaps they had
hurried it a shade too much, or--well, you can "perhaps" anything you
like with milk-yeast bread. At all events, it took the wrong turn and
began to perfume the kitchen.

If they had not been hard pressed and a little flurried that morning,
the girls would probably have thrown it out. Instead, they took it down,
saw that it was rising a little and--hoping that it would yet pull
through--worked in more flour and soda, and hurried four loaves of it
into the oven to bake.

Then it was that the unleavened turpitude of that hostile microbe
displayed the full measure of its malignity. A horrible odor presently
filled the place. Stale eggs would have been Araby the Blest beside it.

The girls hastily shut the kitchen doors, but doors would not hold it
in. It captured the whole house. Aunt Nabbie, in the sitting-room,
perceived it and came rustling out to give motherly advice and

And it chanced that while Theodora was confidentially explaining it to
her, the kitchen door leading to the front piazza opened, and in walked
Uncle Pascal, with Olin behind him. They had been out in the garden
looking at the fruit, and had come back to get Aunt Nabbie to see the

When that awful odor smote them they stopped short. Uncle Mowbray was a
fastidious man. He sniffed and turned up his nose.

"Is it sink spouts?" he gasped. "Are the traps out of order?"

"No, no, Pascal!" said Aunt Nabbie, in a low tone, trying to quiet him.
"It is only bread."

"Bread!" cried Uncle Mowbray, with a glance of rank suspicion at the two
girls. "Bread smelling like that!"

Just then Ellen discovered something white, which appeared to be
mysteriously increasing in size, in the shadow on the back side of the
kitchen stove. After a glance she caught open the oven door.

It was that mug-bread dough! It had crawled--crawled out of the tins
into the oven--crawled down under the oven door to the kitchen floor,
where it made a viscous puddle, and was now trying, apparently, to crawl
out of sight under the wood-box.

Aunt Nabbie burst out laughing; she could not help it. Then she tried to
turn Uncle Mowbray out.

But no, he must stand there and talk about it. He was one of those men
who are always peeping round the kitchen, to see if the women are doing
things right. But Olin scudded out after one look, and the girls saw him
under one of the Balm o' Gilead trees, shaking and laughing as if he
would split.

Poor Doad and Nell! That was a dreadful forenoon for them. As youthful
housekeepers they felt, themselves disgraced beyond redemption. In
three years they had not recovered from it, and would cringe when any
one reminded them of Uncle Mowbray and the mug-bread.



    "Sing away, ye joyous birds,
    While the sun is o'er us."

Looking back to that first fortnight after my arrival at the Old
Squire's, I think what most impressed my youthful mind was the country
verdure and the bird-songs. Everything looked so very green, accustomed
as my eyes were to the red city bricks, white doorsteps and dusty
streets. The universal green of those June days at times well nigh
bewildered me.

Astronomers tell us that there are systems of worlds in outer space,
presided over by green suns; it was as if I had been transported to such
a world. Moreover, the effect was cool and calm and healthful; cities
are abnormal places of abode; man originated and during all the early
ages of his development, lived in the green, arboreal country,
surrounded by rustic scenery and sylvan quiet. The clangor and roar of a
great city, particularly the noise by night, is unnatural; nor are the
reflected colors from urban structures normal to the eye. Add to these
the undue tension to which city life, as a whole, braces the living
substance of brain and nerve, and the reason why city populations have
to be so constantly recruited from the country is in some degree
explained. Children even more than older persons need country

Next to the deep novelty of the wide green landscape, came the
bird-songs. It was June. The air seemed to me all a-quiver with
bird-notes, and I was listening to each and every one. Ah, to my
untried, youthful eyes those fresh great hay-fields, whitening with
ox-eyed daisies, reddening with sweet-scented clover and streaked golden
with vivid yellow butter-cups, over which the song-convulsed bobolinks
hovered on arcuate wings!

I had never heard the nesting song of a bobolink before. What a song it
is!--the eager zeal, the exultation in it. The overflowing, rollicking
joy with which it is poured forth, filled me with such gleeful
astonishment, the first time I heard one, and struck such a chord of
sympathetic feeling in my heart and so powerfully, that I recollect
shouting, "ye-ho!" and racing tumultuously after the rapturous singer.

"What does that bird say?" I cried.

Laughing quietly at my fresh curiosity, the Old Squire told me that the
bird was supposed to say,--

"Bob o' Lincoln, take-a-stick-and-give-a-lick, Bob-olink, Kitty-link,
Withy-link, Billy-seeble, see, see, see!"

Addison gave a somewhat different interpretation which has now slipped
my memory; I deemed the Old Squire's version the more reliable one.
While strawberrying in the fields, that summer, I searched three or four
times for the nests which I felt sure were close by, in the grass, for
the little plain gray wife of the noisy singer sat on the weed-tops,
crying,--"Skack! skack!" but I could not find them.

Once, I remember, the following year Theodora and I resolved that we
would find the nest of one bold fellow that kept singing close over our
heads, as we were gathering strawberries in a grassy swale, in the west
field. We set down our dishes and crept over every foot of a tract at
least a quarter of an acre in extent, and went over a part of it two or
three times. At last, we found it, but not till we had crushed both nest
and eggs beneath our crawling knees--a denouement which distressed
Theodora so much that she declared she would never search for a
bobolink's nest again. "Clumsy monsters that we are," said she; "the
poor thing's nest is crushed into the dirt!"

When we came to mow that swale a few days after, Gramp first marvelled,
then grumbled repeatedly; for the grass was in a mat. He spoke of it at
the dinner table that day, making a covert accusation against Gram,
whereupon Theodora and I owned up in the matter, Doad naively adding
that we had done it "on the strength of Gram's original permit," but
that we had agreed never to do so again. The Old Squire laughed a little
grimly and said he wanted it understood, that the permit, alluded to,
was not transferable. But the old lady now interposed her opinion, that
the permit could be made a moderate use of by others, if she saw
fit--and needed strawberries.

A pair of blue-birds built their nest in a box which Addison had nailed
to a short pole and set up in the barnyard wall; and every morning, as
we milked the cows, we would hear their plaintive notes, repeated over
and over to each other as they flew about;--"Deary, cheer up, Deary,
cheer up!" as if life needed constant mutual consolation, to be
supported. "Old Ummy," the house cat, was much inclined to watch their
box and once attempted to climb up to them.

Two pairs of peewees built about the premises, one just inside the south
barn cellar, the other under a projecting window-sill at the end of the
wagon-house. These two pairs, or younger birds reared there, had built
in these same places for seven or eight years. Night and morning as we
milked, and at noon also, as we sat grinding scythes at the well, those
old peewees would alight on posts, or gables, rub their beaks twice on
the dry wood and cry, "Peewee, peewee, peewitic; pewee, peer-a-zitic!"
For some not very good reason, I took a boyish dislike to peewees. They
are very useful birds, great destroyers of worms, moths and flies, and
so far as I know, never do the slightest harm, which can hardly be said
of all our feathered favorites.

As we hoed potatoes and corn on those green June days, the song of the
little gray ground sparrows was constantly in my ears, although the
others seemed not to notice it.

"And what does that one say?" I asked Gramp.

"What one?" the old gentleman asked.

"Why, that bird! It sings all the time," I rejoined. "Don't you hear

He stopped and appeared to listen, at a loss, for a minute, as to what I

"Oh, those sparrows," replied he, at length. "Addison, can you tell him
what they say?"

"Yes," replied Ad, laughing, "they say and say it very distinctly, too,
'Charlotte, Charlotte, don't you hear me whistle?' Charlotte is his
mate, you know; and the reply to that is 'Philip, Philip's sitting on
the thistle.'"

"That is a little different from what they used to tell me when I was a
boy," Gramp remarked. "I was told that they say, 'War-link, war-link,
christle, christle, christle; high-link, high-link, twiddle, twiddle,

"Good deal anybody knows what a bird says," Halstead exclaimed,
derisively. "They don't say anything that I can make out."

But it seemed to me, after Addison had mentioned it, that the first, or
opening note of the song sparrow, was much like, "Charlotte, Charlotte,
don't you hear me whistle?" They had several other notes, too, not as
easily likened to human language; indeed, these humble little sparrows,
when one comes to listen closely to them in all their moods, have a
curious variety of short _arias_.

During my second week at the farm, I found a sparrow's nest in a small
bunch of hard-hack, a few rods from the cow-pasture bars, with four
eggs, resembling, only a little larger than, speckled garden beans; and
I visited it every morning, till the sprawling, skinny little chicks
were hatched. But on the third morning the nest was empty; something had
taken them. Addison said that it was most likely a crow, but possibly a
snake. We often found the nests, while haying in the fields; the scythe
generally passed over them without doing any harm, and to save them from
the rake, we would put up a stick close beside them. But their enemies
are wofully numerous; not half the nests of young are reared. Ants, I
think, kill numbers of the nestlings, soon after they are hatched, when
they chance to be near an ant-hill.

But in the early mornings and evenings, and before the quickly gathering
south rains, the songsters of all others, which made the air vocal, were
the great, bold, red-breasted robins, not fewer than nine pairs of which
had their capacious nests in the garden, orchard and Balm o' Gilead
trees. They always took the greater part of our cherries, till Addison
at a considerable expense, some years later, bought mosquito netting to
spread over the tree tops; and they also ate strawberries greedily; but
we as constantly overlooked their offenses, they sang so royally and
came familiarly back to us so early every spring. No one can long find
the heart to injure Robin Red-Breast.

I do not think it necessary to qualify, or speak of this our fine bird
as the "American robin, or red-breasted thrush," because a different
bird is called the robin in England. This our bird is the Robin; and we
shall call it so without apology, or explanatory adjectives.

The robin songs in the Balm o' Gileads, just across the yard from our
chamber windows, were the matins that often waked us in June, and
sounded in our drowsy ears as we lay, still half asleep, reluctant to
rise and dress. For however it may be with most boys, I am obliged to
confess that both then and later, I was a sleepy-head in the morning;
it always seemed to me on waking, particularly in the summer months,
that I was not half rested, and that I would give almost anything I
possessed for another hour of sleep. As a fact, I now feel sure that I
did not get sleep enough, from half past nine in the evening to five in
the morning; and I think that most boys and girls of thirteen and
fourteen need nine hours of sleep in every twenty-four hours, especially
where they are in active exercise or work throughout the day. It is
really cruel to drive a boy up when he is so shockingly sleepy! There
was always so much going on, that we could not well go to bed till after
nine in the evening, although I would sometimes steal away up-stairs as
soon as it was dark.

Curiously enough it was when I was but about half awake in the morning,
that those robin-songs sounded the most distinctly, and I seemed to hear
every note and trill which they uttered.

    "Tulip, tulip, tulip; skillit, skillit,
    Tulip, skillit; fill it, fill it, fill it;"--

followed after a moment or two, perhaps, by a shrill and noisy "Piff!
piff! piff!"--as some sudden dissension broke out, or some suspicious
cat, or other marauder, came near the nest tree. The crows, always bold
in the early morning hours, would come into the Balm o' Gileads after
birds' nests, sometimes, before we were astir. I remember that Addison
once cut my nap short by firing his gun from the chamber window at a
crow that was sneaking into the Balm o' Gileads after young robins. He
shot the crow, but my own ear rang for more than two hours, and I was so
confused for a time, that I scarcely knew enough to dress myself.

There is no combination of letters which more nearly represents the song
notes of the robin than the above, I think, although many attempts have
been made to render them into some semblance of human language. Addison
always insisted that they said, "Dew-lip, Dew-lip; bill it, bill it,
bill it;"--the whole song being an exhortation of the robin to his mate
whose name was _Dew-lip_, to get up and _bill it_ for worms. Halstead
had somewheres got hold of a medical rendering of the song, by a waggish
doctor who declared that the robins were constantly admonishing him in
the line of his profession:--

    "Kill 'em, cure 'em; physic, physic."

But the rest of us scouted this partisan interpretation.

The explosive, alarmingly energetic danger cry of, "Piff, piff," which
will so suddenly wake the entire vicinity of the nest, is at times
modified and given quite a different intonation, as if to express
discontent: "Fibb, fibb!" and sometimes even loneliness: "Pheeb,
pheeb!"--very mournful.

During a shower, accompanied by wind in heavy wrenching gusts, in the
night, that summer, a nest containing four young robins fell from a
maple, a few rods down the lane, into the grass beneath. Theodora heard
the outcry of the old robins, blended with the thunder and the roar of
the rain, in the night, and noticing their mournful notes next morning
about the tree, made search and discovered the calamity. Addison and she
gathered up the nestlings and putting them in an old berry box, lined
with grass and cotton batting, tied the improvised nest to a branch of
the maple. For an hour or two the scolding old birds would not go near
the thing, but later in the day we saw them, feeding their young in it,
quite as if nothing had happened to disturb them.

In the rear of the wagon-house there grew a good-sized mountain ash or
round-wood tree which nearly every fall was crowned with the usual great
bright-red clusters of bitter berries. Late in October the robins
always came for those berries, and sometimes a flock of fifty or sixty
would assemble. We often tried to frighten the birds away, for the red
clusters are beautiful in winter, but for a long time we never succeeded
in saving them. The robins would linger about for a week, or more,
rather than leave a single bunch of those berries ungathered. Addison
once placed a stuffed cat-skin in the tree, at which the robins scolded
vociferously for a day or two from the neighboring shrubs and fence; but
they suddenly discovered the deception and got all the remaining berries
in the course of a single forenoon. Addison was boasting a little of the
success of his ruse when, at dinner, Ellen quietly bade him go look at
the tree. The robins had already got every berry and gone, leaving the
feline effigy in the bare tree, an object of mirth and ridicule. A
scarecrow made of old clothes, stuffed with hay and crowned by an old
hat, set up in the tree the following year, served no better purpose.
Ellen and Theodora then hung an old tin clothes boiler in the tree, and
arranged a jangling bunch of tin ware inside it, with a long line
running to the kitchen window, where they could conveniently give it a
jerk every few minutes. This device answered well for a day or two, and
it was very amusing to see those robins scatter from the tree, when the
line was pulled. They were some little time making up their minds
concerning it, and would sit on the back fence and rub their beaks on
the posts, at intervals, as if making a great effort to comprehend the
cause of the "manifestations" inside the boiler. No doubt the more
superstitious ones attributed it to "spirits." Skepticism increased,
however, and by the second day one unbelieving red fellow refused to
budge, till the line was jerked twice, and soon after that they wore the
girls out, pulling it, and got the berries as usual. The year after,
Addison saved the berries by stretching one of his cherry-tree nets over
the round-wood tree, in October. It chanced, however, that the tree
failed to produce a crop of berries the next season and died a year or
two later;--a circumstance which Gram hinted, mysteriously, might be a
"dispensation," on account of our persistent efforts to thwart the
robins. It should be taken into account, however, that the mountain-ash
is not long-lived, and that this was already an old tree.

In a large maple, down the lane, a preacher-bird sang every day in June
and until into August, generally loudest and most continuously, from
eleven till two o'clock. On coming to or going from our dinner, we would
often hear him: sometimes he sang in the morning and now and then after
supper. This bird--it is the red-eyed vireo--has an oddly persistent,
pragmatic note, which can hardly be called singing, being more like
declamation and somewhat disconnected and disjoint, as if the "preacher"
were laying down certain truths and facts and seeking by constant
iteration to impress them upon dullards. Betwixt every one of these
short sentences, there is a little pause, as if the preacher were
waiting for the truth to strike home to his hearers; but if the bird is
watched, he will be seen to be picking and hopping about on the branch
which serves him as a pulpit, snapping up a bug or a seed here and
there. Yet his discourse goes steadily on, by the half hour, or hour,
sometimes with a rising inflection, as after a question, sometimes the
falling, as having given an irrefutable answer, himself. Once the idea
that the bird is preaching has entered a listener's mind, he can never
shake it off.

"My hearers--where are you?--You know it--you see it.--Do you hear
me?--Do you believe it?" And so on, upon the same insistent and at
length tiresome strain.

"Oh, I do wish that preacher bird would stop," Ellen would exclaim at
times. "He has 'preached' steadily all the forenoon!"

His place for singing was always about half way from the ground to the
top of the maple, and he rarely came out in sight. The female was
probably sitting on her nest, hard by. They are trim little olive-tinted
birds and often rear two broods, I think, for they remain north till

Once while Elder Witham was with us, in haying time, Ellen exclaimed,
inadvertently, as we were going in to sit down at table one day,
"There's that preacher bird again!"

The Elder looked at her a moment and said slowly, "'Preacher-bird,
preacher-bird,' what kind of a bird is that, young lady?"

Greatly abashed at her lapse, Ellen hardly knew how to best explain it,
but Addison came to her rescue. "There are two of those vireos," he
remarked in a perfectly natural, matter-of-fact tone. "One of them, the
warbling vireo, they call the 'brigadier' on account of its peculiar
note, and the other or red-eyed vireo, the 'preacher,' from its earnest
manner of utterance. I don't know," Addison continued, with candid
frankness, "that the names are very well chosen, but we have got in the
habit of calling them that way."

The Elder listened to this, observing Addison closely, then appeared
thoughtful for a moment and said, impressively, "Well, all God's
creatures preach, if only we have ears to hear them." Ellen drew a long
breath of relief, and after dinner, out on the wood-shed walk, she took
Addison by the button and said, "You're a treasure, Ad; ask me for a
cooky any time after this."

The brigadier, or warbling vireo, frequently sits on the tops of trees,
when singing; while the preacher takes his stand midway from the ground
upwards; the brigadier, too, more frequently joins in the great opening
overture of all bird voices, at dawn, to usher in the new day, while
preacher reserves his notes till the earlier choir has ceased its
anthem. Withal the little preacher is much more apt to nest in trees
near the habitations of men than his congener, the brigadier, who not
unfrequently makes his abode at a distance from buildings, where forests
border pastures, or old roads enter woody lands.

Another shrill, small songster of habits quite similar to the brigadier
we used sometimes to hear, but rarely saw, on our way over to the "Aunt
Hannah lot," an adjunct of the Old Squire's farm, to reach which we
crossed a tract of sparse woods. Its notes, prolonged on a very sharp,
high key, resembled the words, _My fee-fee-fee-fee-fee!_ each louder and
keener than the preceding.

Addison was quite uncertain as to this bird, during the first and second
summers we were at the farm. We only saw it once or twice; for its
favorite place, while singing, is at the top of some large dense tree;
and we were never able to find its nest. Addison at length decided that
it was an oven-bird, a surmise which he greatly desired to verify by
finding the rest.

Later in life he has often laughed over our ignorance and our fruitless
quests at that time.

Among the raspberry and blackberry briars, beside the stone wall on the
south side of this same old road, leading to the Aunt Hannah lot, we
used to see, occasionally, a deep blue indigo-bird, a very active little
fellow, always flitting and hopping about amongst the briars. But we
never heard it sing, nor utter any note, save rarely a petulant _snip,
snip_, and never found its nest.

To the south of the same lot there was a tract of mixed wood, sapling
pines, maples, a few beeches, and farther down, nearer the brook, white
ash and great yellow birches, with swamp maples, osier and alder. Here
among the beeches, maples and pines, we at times heard a Theresa-bird.
Theodora chanced to know something of this bird; and I remember that the
first time we ever went there together, she called out to us to listen
to the low, sweet note, which otherwise, in our haste, we should not
have noticed. Addison had never heard it then, and his volumes of
Audubon did not describe New England birds very clearly; but Theodora
said this was a Theresa-bird (which we subsequently found to be the
Green Warbler) and that its song was supposed, in Catholic countries, to
be a petition to _St. Theresa_, viz.,--"_Hear me, St. Theresa_,"
beginning quite high and sinking to a much lower strain. I have since
seen in the naturalist Nuttall's work, that this author compares the
note of the Green Warbler to the syllables, _te-de-deritsea_, repeated
slowly and melodiously.

On the north side of the lane, leading from the house down to the road,
opposite the maple above alluded to, where the robins had a nest, there
stood two elms, quite tall trees, in the uppermost of which, during
three summers, a pair of Baltimore orioles built. These orioles had
never come there previously; at least, the Old Squire had never seen
one, but Gram recognized them the first time one sang, as an old
acquaintance of her girlhood days; she called them Golden Robins and was
much delighted to hear them. They came on one of the first days of June;
and as I had arrived but a few days previously, Gram declared that I
"had brought them with me." But the fact is, that the Baltimore oriole
moves its habitat slowly northeastward, in the wake of man and his
orchards and shade trees; for it is one of those birds which, like the
robin, depend on mankind for protection. This pair constructed a hanging
nest from a twig of one of the drooping elm branches and reared a brood
successfully that season; and throughout that entire month of June,
their song, uttered at intervals of their labors, was a daily delight to
us all. Next after the wood thrush and the robin, the loud yet sweetly
modulated call of the Baltimore oriole is the most pleasing of all our
bird notes. Pure and sweet as it is, too, it nearly always startles the
hearer, from its regal volume and 5 strength. Gram's version of its song
was, _Cusick, cusick!_ _So-ho-o-o!_ _Do you know I'm back with you!_ But
the words themselves give no idea whatever of the song, unless uttered
with the strange, liquid modulations which characterize it.

During the third season some accident befell the pair, or their nest;
they suddenly disappeared and thenceforward we missed their melodious
invocations. Gram, in particular, lamented their departure. A pair,
perhaps the same pair, afterwards built in a butternut tree near the
Edwards' farmhouse; but they never returned to us. To the lover of
birds, the oriole in its flight among the trees, like a yellow meteor
flashing past, is a sight that instantly rivets the attention, and is as
delightfully startling to the eye as its song is to the ear. But I know
of no device by means of which they can be attracted to nest in any
given locality; their tastes are not well enough known to us; "houses,"
like those which attract the blue-bird and the martin, possess no charm
for the oriole. With the first of June Gram watched, wistfully, for the
return of this pair, during a number of successive springs; and for her
sake especially, we all hoped they would come back.

I arrived too late the first spring, to hear the woodlands echo to the
May-note of the white-throated sparrow. Once only, while going out to
get the cows with little Wealthy, the second week after I came, I heard
it twice repeated, from the woods along the south side of the pasture,
and when I asked my small companion what kind of a bird that was, she
roguishly cried, "Oh, that's old Ben Peabody."

"Is that what he says?" I asked, for the name at once struck me as being
like the bird's note.

"Yes," cried Wealthy. "He says, 'Old Ben Peabody, Peabody, Peabody,'
just as plain as anything; Theodora says so; and so does Nell and all of
us, but Addison. Ad thinks he says, 'All day whittling, whittling,
whittling.' And Alf Batchelder says,--but I'll not tell what he thinks
the bird says."

"What is it?" I queried.

"It's nothing very pretty," quoth Wealthy, running off to get around the
cows, thereby evading the question altogether, for she had not as yet
grown very well acquainted with me.

But I have perhaps lingered too long with birds and bird-songs. It is a
fond subject, however, and scarcely can I forbear to speak of the
veeries, the vesper-birds, and "hair-birds" whose nests we so often
found in the orchard; the cedar birds or cherry birds which so
persistently stripped the wild cherry trees and pear-plum shrubs; the
wood thrushes that trilled forth such sad, mellow refrains in the cool,
gray border of the wood-lot below the fields, at eventide; the
yellow-hammers that tapped on the pasture stumps and cried out
boisterously when rain was impending; the wrens that filled and
re-filled a bit of hollow aqueduct log on the lane wall, with sticks for
a nest and laid thirteen eggs in it; the hundreds of black-birds that
built in the reeds down at the great bog, near the head of the lake; the
sap-suckers that punctured the trunks of the apple-trees with thousands
of tiny holes; the many-voiced blue-jays that came around when the corn
was ripening in September and sometimes lingered all winter in the

And of the great pileated woodpeckers, a pair of which occasionally
cried loud and long from the five lofty pine stubs in the colt pasture,
beyond the Aunt Hannah lot; the yellow-birds that piped, _pee-chid-aby_,
_pee-chid-aby_, on wavy lines of flight, upon the last days of August,
just ere taking wing for warmer climes; the imitative cat-birds that
built in the alders along the road across the meadow, whose nests the
boys held it lawful to destroy because, forsooth, "they sucked other
birds' eggs," a false accusation rendered plausible, perhaps, from their
disagreeable feline squalls, and not wholly ingenuous imitations of the
songs of the thrush, the veery and the robin.

How well, too, I recall the cuckoos that, night or day, intoned so
moodily in the willow copses below the east field fence and suffered
from a like unpopular accusation of "laying their eggs in other birds'
nests." Also the mated triads of sooty chimney swallows that rumbled
nightly in the great brick flues of the farmhouse, and at first almost
terrified me, but at length furnished the thalamian refrain that most
surely lulled me asleep; the red-headed woodpeckers that with sharp
cries and concave stoop of flight moved fitfully, from tree to tree,
tapping this one loudly, that one low and dull, and whose nest hole in
the dead maple on the hillside was re-occupied year after year, till at
last the stub blew down and broke short off at the hole itself; the
king-fishers that with the same stooping flight, sprung their sharp
rattles along the brooks and lakeside; the martins that feloniously
caught the bees, and every season dragged their squalling, screaming
young out of their pole-house, then poked them off the platform to fly
for themselves, having first, however, cleared the yard of cats.

The militant king birds, too, that built every June on the tops of the
small apple-trees in the young orchard, and raged in mid air, overhead,
pouring out a wild farago of sharp cries, never so happy as when in full
career after crows, hawks, cats or dogs; the moth-catching night-hawks
that cried _peerk_ from their wide mouths, high in the sky at nightfall,
and dived far aslant on stiff wings, with a long drawn _soo-oo-ook_;
the clucking whip-poor-wills, that chanted from the bare flat pasture
rocks; the chickadees that came into the orchard and about the great
loose farm woodpile, in February, with their odd little minor refrain of
_cic-a-da-da-da-da_, mere feathery mites of ceaseless activity that
somehow did not freeze, at 20° below zero.

In this freezing weather, too, came the white-winged flocks of
snow-buntings, that heralded the coming storm and flew away, blending
with the whirling snowflakes, uttering queer thin notes that seemed like
spirit voices from the upper air: all these and many others, Nature's
humble angels, what part and parcel they were of that dear old farm life
of ours!

Nor yet have I mentioned the larger game birds, nor the birds of prey;
the "hoot-owls" that both in summer and winter, but oftenest in March
and October, on still, dark, cloudy evenings, uttered their dismal, deep
bass _hoot, hoot, hoo-oo-oot_, from the depths of the gloomy forest
side, beyond the Little Sea; the hen-hawks that cried down _chickee-ee_
to us, from endless mazy circles high over the farm, and occasionally
decimated the poultry, or were seen sailing low across the fields with a
snake dangling from their claws; the eagles that seldom, but on a few
occasions paid a brief visit to the vicinity; the herons that frogged
along the boggy shore of the lake and built their nests in the tops of
the Foy Brook pines; the wild geese that flew northward in a wide V,
early in the spring and again southward in October; the sheldrake and
the black ducks which Addison had such success shooting every fall, in
the old mill pond, beyond the east wood-lot; the swift-diving loons of
the blue Pennesseewassee, that flew heavily across the hills, to several
northerly ponds, uttering shaken, hollow cries, or that in the early
evening and morning hours, pealed their mellow, alto horns from the calm
bosom of the lake; the partridges that "drummed" in the outlying copses
and patches of second growth, in April, and led forth their broods in
June, subject every autumn to our first excited, early efforts at
gunning; and last of all, the flapping, canny, thievish, black crows
that like the foxes were always about, and always at loggerheads with
the farmers.



Except on Sunday mornings, breakfast at the farm in summer came at six.
The Old Squire himself was often astir at four; and we boys were
supposed to get up at five, so as to have milking done and other barn
chores off, ready to go into the field from the breakfast table. Gram
and the girls also rose at five, to get breakfast, take care of the milk
and look after the poultry. Everybody, in fact, rose with the birds in
that rural community. But often I was scarcely more than half awake at
breakfast; Ellen and Wealthy, too, were in much the same case.

On one of these early mornings when I had been there about three weeks,
our drowsiness at the breakfast table was dispelled by the arrival of
two early callers--each on business.

Gram was pouring the coffee, when the outer door opened and a tall,
sallow, dark-complexioned woman entered, the same whom I had met on the
Meadow Brook bridge, while leading Little Dagon. She wore a calico gown
and sun-bonnet, and may have been fifty years of age; and she walked in
quite as a matter of course, saying, "How do you do, Joseph, how do you
do, Ruth?" to the Old Squire and Gram.

"Why, how do you do, Olive?" said Gram, but not in the most cordial of
tones. "Will you have some breakfast with us?"

"I have been to breakfast, Ruth," replied this visitor, throwing back
her sun-bonnet and thereby displaying a forehead and brow that for
height and breadth was truly Websterian. "I came to get my old dress
that I left here when I cleaned house for you last spring, and I should
also like that dollar that's owing me."

"Olive," rejoined Gram severely, "I do not owe you a dollar."

"Ruth," replied the caller with equal severity, "you do owe me a

She proceeded, as one quite familiar in the house, to the kitchen closet
and took therefrom an old soiled gingham gown.

"Olive," said the Old Squire, "are you quite sure that there is a dollar
due you here?"

"Joseph," replied the lofty-browed woman, "do you think I would say so,
if I did not know it?"

"No, Olive, I don't think you would," said the Old Squire.

"It's no such thing, Olive," cried Gram, looking somewhat heated. "I
always paid you up when you cleaned house for me and when you spun for

"Always but that one time, Ruth. Then you did not--into a dollar,"
replied the sallow woman, positively.

An argument ensued. It appeared that the debated dollar was a matter of
three or four years standing. There was little doubt that both were
equally honest in their convictions concerning it, pro and con. Still,
they were a dollar apart, somehow. Furthermore, it came out, that
"Olive" when she felt periodically poor, or out of sorts, was in the
habit of calling and dunning Gram for that dollar, much to the old
lady's displeasure.

The Old Squire sat uneasily and listened to the talk, with growing
disfavor. At last he pulled out his pocketbook. "I will pay you the
dollar, Olive," he said, "if only to stop the dispute about it."

"You shan't do it, Joseph!" exclaimed Gram. "There's no dollar due

But the Old Squire persisted in handing the woman a dollar.

"I do not care whether it is due or not!" he exclaimed. "I have heard
altogether too much of this."

"I thank you, Joseph, for doing me justice of my hard-handed employer,"
said the tall woman, austerely.

"Now did ever anybody hear the like!" Gram exclaimed, pink from
vexation. "Oh, Olive, you--you--you bold thing, to say that of me!"

"There, there!" cried the Old Squire. "Peace, women folks. Remember that
you are both Christians and public professors."

Gram sat and fanned herself, fast and hard. Our visitor folded the dress
into a bundle and marched slowly and austerely out.

"Olive, I hope your conscience is clear," Gram called after her

"Ruth, I hope your conscience is as clear as mine," the departing one
called back in calm tones, from the yard outside.

She left an awkward silence behind her; breakfast had come to a
standstill; and I improved the elemental sort of hush, to whisper to
Theodora, who had been at the farm a year, and ask who this portentous
disturber of the family credit really was.

"Oh, it is only 'Aunt Olive,'" Theodora whispered back. "She comes here
to help us every spring and fall."

"Is she our actual aunt?" I asked in some dismay.

"No, she isn't our real, kindred aunt," said Theodora, "but folks call
her Aunt Olive. She is a sister to Elder Witham; and they say she can
quote more Scripture than the Elder himself.

"And I'm sort of glad that Gramp gave her the dollar," Theodora added,
in a still lower whisper. "Maybe Gram did forget to pay her, once."

But Gram was both incensed and humiliated. She resumed the interrupted
coffee pouring and handed the Old Squire his cup, with a look of deep

Partly to change the unpleasant subject, perhaps, he said to us briskly,
"Boys, if we have good luck and get our haying work along, so we can, we
will all make a trip over to Norridgewock and see Father Rasle's

"Ruth, wouldn't you like to take a good long drive over to Norridgewock,
after the grain is in?" he asked in pacificatory tones.

"Joseph!" replied Gram, "you make me smile! You have been talking of
driving over to Norridgewock to visit Father Rasle's monument, and of
going to Lovewell's Pond, ever since I first knew you! But you never
have been, and I haven't a thought that you ever will go!"

"Well, but something has always come up to prevent it, Ruth," Gramp
replied hastily.

"Yes, Joseph, and something will come up to prevent it this year, too."

It was at this point that the second early caller had his arrival
announced. Little Wealthy, who had stolen out to watch Aunt Olive's
departure and then gone to the barn to see to her own small brood of
chicks, came running in headlong and cried, "Oh, Gram! Gram! a great big
fox has got one of your geese--on his back--and is running away!"

"What!" exclaimed Gram, setting the heavy coffee-pot down again with a
roiling bump. "Oh, Lord, what a morning. Where, child, where?"

"Out beyond the west barn!" cried Wealthy; but by this time Addison,
Halse and I were out of doors, in pursuit.

Beyond the west barn, there was a little hollow, or swale, where a
spring issued; and a few rods below the spring, a dam had been
constructed across the swale to form a goose-pond for Gram's flock. It
was a muddy, ill-smelling place; but hither the geese would always
waddle forth of a summer morning, and spend most of the day, wading and
swimming, with occasional loud outcries.

As we turned the corner of the barn, we met the flock--minus
one--beating a retreat to the goose-shed. But the fox was not in sight.

"Which way did he go, Wealth?" cried Addison, for Wealthy had run after
us, full of her important news.

"Right across the west field," she exclaimed. "He had the old goose on
his back, and it was trying to squall, but couldn't."

"Get the gun, Halse!" exclaimed Addison. "No, it isn't loaded! Bother!
But come on. The fox cannot run far with one of those heavy geese,
without resting. He is probably behind the pasture wall."

We set off at speed across the field and heard Gram calling out to us,
"Chase him, boys! Chase the old thief. You may make him drop it."

Away through the grass, laden with dew and "hopper spits," we careered,
and came on the trail of the fox where he had brushed off the dew as he
ran. But the rogue was not behind the pasture wall.

"Keep on," cried Addison, "he cannot run fast." We crossed the pasture
and entered the sugar maple grove between the pasture and the Aunt
Hannah Lot. As it chanced, the fox was lurking in the high brakes here,
having stopped to rest, no doubt, as Addison had conjectured. We did not
come upon him here, however; for warned probably by the noise which we
made, the goose-hunter stole out silently on the farther side and ran on
across the open fields of the Aunt Hannah Lot. As we emerged from the
belt of woodland, we caught sight of him, toiling up a hillside beyond
the fields, fifty or sixty rods away.

"It is of no use to chase him any further," said Addison, pulling up.
"He will reach the woods in a few minutes more."

By this time we were all three badly out of breath. The fox had the best
of the race. We could distinguish plainly the white goose across his
back, in contrast to his butter-colored coat and great bushy tail.

"Wouldn't Gram fume to see that!" Halse exclaimed. "Her best old goose
is taking its last ride."

"I think I know where that fox is going," remarked Addison. "I was in
those woods, gunning, one day last fall, and I came to a fox burrow, in
the side of a knoll, among trees. There was no end of yellow dirt, dug
out, and there seemed to be two or three holes, leading back into the
side-hill. I told the Old Squire about it. He said it was a fox-hole,
and that there had been one there for years. When he was a young man, he
once saw six foxes playing around that knoll, and, first and last, he
trapped a number there."

We went back to our interrupted breakfast. Gram heard our tidings with
much vexation. Gramp laughed. "If the foxes got every goose, I shouldn't
cry," said he. "Nasty creatures! Worse than a parcel of pigs about the

"But you like to put your head on a soft pillow as well as any one,"
replied Gram calmly. "If you know of anything that makes better pillows
than _live_ geese feathers, I shall be glad to hear about it."

The Old Squire not having any proper substitute to offer, Gram went on
to say that she wished some of us possessed the energy (I believe she
said _spunk_) to make an end of that fox; for now that it had achieved
the capture of a goose from her flock, it would be quite likely to come
back for another, in the course of a day or two.

This appeal stirred our pride, and after we had gone out to hoe corn
that forenoon, Addison asked the Old Squire whether he thought it likely
we could unearth the fox, if, as we suspected, it had its haunt in the
burrow on the hillside of the Aunt Hannah Lot.

"Maybe," replied the Old Squire, "by digging hard enough and long
enough. But 'tis no easy job."

Addison did not say anything more for ten or fifteen minutes, when he
observed that as Gram seemed a good deal disturbed, he for one would not
mind an hour or two of digging, if it would save her geese.

"Oh, I have nothing against her geese, boys," replied the old gentleman
with a kind of apologetic laugh. "I like to hear her stand up for them
once in a while.

"I wanted to get this corn hoed by to-morrow," he continued. "Let's see,
to-morrow is Saturday. We will take the crowbar and some shovels and
make a little trip over to that burrow, later this afternoon. Don't say
anything about it at dinner; for likely as not we shall not find the fox

After we had hoed for some time longer, Addison said, "What if we have
Halse run over to Edwardses', right after dinner, and ask Tom to take a
bar, or shovel, and go with us. Tom is a good hand at digging,--and that
fox may trouble them, too."

The Old Squire laughed. "You are a pretty crafty boy, Addison," said he.

Ad looked a little confused. "I knew Tom would like to go first rate,"
said he; "and as there may be considerable hard digging before us, I
thought it would be all right to have somebody who could take his turn
at it."

"Quite right," replied Gramp, still laughing. "Craft is a good thing and
often helps along famously. But don't grow too crafty.

"I am quite willing for you to send for Thomas," he added. "I think it
is a good idea."

Accordingly, at noon Halse went to the Edwards homestead, bearing an
invitation to a fox-digging bee. They, too, were busy with their hoeing,
but Mr. Edwards, who was a very good-humored man, gave Thomas permission
to join us at two o'clock. When we went out from dinner to our own
hoeing, we took along an axe, two spades, a hog-hook to pull out the
fox, and a crowbar, also the gun; and after working two hours in the
corn-field, we set off across the fields and pastures for the fox
burrow, just as Thomas came running across lots to join us.

"Mother's glad to have me go," said he. "She lost a turkey last week;
and father says there's a fox over in that burrow, this summer, no
mistake. Father gets up at half-past three every morning now, and he
says he has heard a fox bark over that way at about sunrise for a
fortnight. But we will end his fun for him."

Thomas was such a resolute boy that it was always a treat to hear him

Crossing the pasture, we climbed the hillside of the Aunt Hannah lot,
and again entering the maple woods, went on for forty or fifty rods over
rather rough ground.

"That's the knoll," said Addison, pointing to a hillock among the trees.

"Yes, that's the place," the Old Squire corroborated.

On the side of the knoll next us as we drew near, there was a large
hole, leading downwards and backwards into the bank side. A quantity of
yellow earth had been thrown out quite recently, looking as if dogs had
tried to dig out the fox. Tom looked into the hole.

"Yes, siree," he exclaimed. "There's a fox lives here; I know by these
flies in the mouth of the hole. You'll always see two or three of these
flies at a hole where there's a fox or a wood-chuck."

Farther around the knoll there were two other holes, one beside a rock
and the other under a birch-tree root, which manifestly led into the
same burrow, deep back in the knoll.

"And only look here!" cried Addison. "See these bones and these

"Oho!" said the Old Squire. "'Tis a female fox with her cubs that has
taken up her abode in the old burrow this summer. That accounts for her
raids on the turkeys and geese; she's got a young family to look out

After some discussion, it was agreed to begin our assault at the hole
where the bones and feathers had been brought out; and while Addison and
I went to block up the entrance to the other two holes with stones, the
Old Squire threw off his coat, and seizing the crowbar, commenced to
break down the rooty ground over the hole, while Thomas and Halse
cleared it away with their shovels. We worked by turns, or all together,
as opportunity offered. It was no light task for a warm June afternoon,
and we were soon perspiring freely. Gradually we removed the top of the
knoll, following the hole inward, and came to the intersection of this
one with another farther around to the west side. There was a
considerable cavity here, matted underfoot with feathers and small
bones. From this point the burrow crooked around a large rock down in
the ground.

Listening now at this opening, we could hear faint sounds farther back
in the earth, and an occasional slight sneeze.

"Digging to get away, or get out!" exclaimed Thomas.

While we were resting and listening, a sharp, querulous bark came
suddenly to our ears from out in the woods behind us.

"'Tis the old fox!" said Addison. "She's been away. She isn't in the
hole. But she has come back in sight, and she don't like the looks of us
here." He seized the gun and went cautiously off in the direction of the
sound, but could not again catch sight of the fox.

We resumed our digging, and soon broke into a still larger cavity,
leading off from which were three passages. Fresh earth was flying back
out of one of them.

"We are close hauls on the fox inside!" cried Thomas. "Stand ready with
the gun, Ad; he may make a bolt out by us."

The Old Squire plied the crowbar again, and breaking down a part of the
bank over the passage, we caught sight of three fox cubs, all making the
dirt fly, digging away for dear life, to get farther back. As the bank
broke down and the light fell in upon them, they turned for a moment
from their labors, and casting a foxy eye up at us, "yapped" sharply and
bristled themselves.

"Oh, the little rogues!" cried Addison. "Only look at them! Look at
their little paws and their little noses all covered with yellow dirt!
There they go at it again, digging!"

"Aren't they cunning!" exclaimed Thomas. "Fox all over, too. Regular
little rascals. See the white of those eyes, will you, when they turn
them up at us! Isn't that a rogue's eye now?"

"We will catch them and carry them home, and put them in a pen," said
Addison. "By next November their skins will be worth something."

"They will make you lots of work, to tend them and get meat for them,"
said the Old Squire. "Their pelts will not half pay you for your

These cubs were several weeks old, I suppose, but they were not larger
than half-grown kittens.

"It won't answer for you to grab them with your bare hands," the Old
Squire warned us. "I did that once, when a boy, and found that a fox cub
is sharp-bitten."

They were of rather lighter yellow tint than a full-grown fox, but
otherwise much like, although their legs, we thought, were not yet as
long in proportion as they would become; nor yet were their tails in
full bush.

It was not quite as far across lots to the Edwards farm as it was to the
Old Squire's, and at length Addison and Thomas set off to go there for a
basket to put the foxes in, and some old thick gloves with which to
catch them.

Meantime the rest of us remained hard by, to watch the burrow, lest the
cubs should escape. Once, while the boys were gone, we heard the mother
fox bark. Halse went after her with the gun; she was evidently lingering
about, but he could not catch sight of her.

The boys returned with a bushel basket and an old potato sack, to tie
over the top of it. A little more of the bank was then broken down, when
Addison, reaching in with his hands, protected by a pair of buckskin
gloves, seized first one, then another, of the snapping, snarling little
vulpines and popped them into the basket. It was agreed that Thomas
should have one of them; and in furtherance of this division of the
spoils, Halse and Addison went around by way of the Edwards farm, with
Tom and the basket, while the Old Squire and I loaded ourselves with the
tools and took the direct route homeward.

Supper was ready and Theodora had been blowing the horn for us, long and
loud; in fact, we met her by the corn-field, whither she had at length
come in search of us. I hastily told her of the capture, but the Old
Squire said, "Don't tell your grandmother till the boys come with the
cubs, then we will show them to her."

So we went into the house and leisurely got ready for supper. At length,
Addison and Halse came to the kitchen door with their basket; and Gramp
said, "Come here, Ruth, and see two little fellows who helped eat your
old goose."

Gram came out looking pretty stern at the word goose, and when Ad pulled
the bag partly away and showed the two fox cubs, casting up the whites
of their roguish eyes at her, she exclaimed harshly, "Ah, you little

"But, oh, aren't they cunning! Aren't they pretty!" exclaimed Theodora
and Ellen.

"Well, they are sort of pretty," admitted Gram, softening a little as
she looked at them. "I suppose they are not to blame for their sinful
natures, more than the rest of us."

We then told her of our exploit, digging them out of the burrow. The Old
Squire thought that the mother fox would not trouble the farm-yard
further, now that her family was disposed of.

After supper, Addison gathered up boards about the premises and built a
pen out behind the west barn, in which to inclose the young foxes. As
nearly as I can now remember, the pen was about fifteen feet long by
perhaps six feet in width, with board sides four feet high. We also
covered the top of it with boards upon which we laid stones. A pan for
water was set inside the pen, and we gave them, for food, the various
odds and ends of meat and other waste from the kitchen. For a day or two
we enjoyed watching them very much.

They did not thrive well, but grew poor and mangy; and I may as well go
on to relate what became of them. After we had kept them in the pen
about a month, a dog, or else a fox, came around one night and dug under
the side of the pen, as if making an attempt to get in and attack them.
The outsider, apparently, was not successful in breaking in, and
probably went away after a time, but it had dug a sufficiently large
hole for the two young foxes to escape; they were discovered to be
missing in the morning. Addison thought that it might possibly have been
the mother fox.

One of these cubs--as we believed--came back to the pen under singular
circumstances eight or nine months later. Having no use either for the
old boards, or for the ground on which the pen stood, it was not taken
away, but remained there throughout the autumn and following winter.

One day in April we heard two hounds baying, and as it proved, they were
out hunting on their own account and had started a fox. We heard them
from noon till near four in the afternoon, when Ellen, who was in the
kitchen at one of the back windows, saw them, and, at a distance of
twenty rods or less in advance of them, a small fox, coming at speed
across the field, heading toward the west barn.

Addison and I were working up fire-wood in the yard at the time, and
Ellen ran out to tell us what she had seen. We now heard the hounds
close behind the barn, and getting the gun, ran out there. The fox, hard
pressed evidently, had run straight to that old pen and taken refuge in
it, through a hole in the top where the covering boards were off. But
before we reached the spot, one of the hounds had also got in and shaken
the life out of the refugee.

We could not positively identify the fox, yet it was a young fox, and we
all thought that it resembled one of the cubs which we had kept in the
pen. I am inclined to think that, finding itself in sore straits, it
came to the old pen where, though a captive, it had once been safe from
dogs which came about the place.



A few days later--I think it was June 15th--Gram's constant, urgent
reminders prevailed, and directly after the noontide meal we all set off
for the village, to have our pictures taken. The old lady had never
ceased to mourn the fact that there were two of her sons whose
photographs had not been taken before they enlisted. This was not so
unusual an omission in those days as it would be at present; having
one's photograph taken was then a much less common occurrence. Indeed,
the photograph proper had hardly begun to be made, at least, not in the
rural districts. The ambrotype was still the popular variety of

Personally, I confess to a lingering liking for the old ambrotype, the
likeness taken on a glazed plate, on which the lights are represented in
silver, and the shades are produced by a dark background. I like, too,
the respectful privacy of the little inclosing case which you opened to
gaze on the face of your friend. Best of all, I like its great
durability and fadelessness. The name itself is a passport to favor in a
picture, from _ambrotos_, immortal, and _tupos_, type, or impression:
the immortal-type. Your pasteboard photograph so soon grows yellowed,
dog-eared and stale! For certain purposes I would be glad to see the
dear old ambrotype revived and coming back in fashion. True, you had to
squint at it at a certain angle to see what it was; but when you
obtained the right view, it was wonderfully lifelike and comforting.

One obstacle and another had delayed the trip for several weeks, but on
that sunny June day the word to go was given. With much care and
attention to clean faces, and hair, our best clothes were donned, for to
have one's picture taken was then one of the great occasions of a
youngster's life. There was earnest advice given on all sides in regard
to "smiling expressions." Little Wealthy, especially, was exhorted so
much in this respect, that she actually shed tears before we started. A
"smiling expression" sometimes comes hard. Nor was she alone in her
anxiety. I remember being a good deal worried about it, and that I had
secretly resolved--since the sitting was said to occupy less than a
minute--to draw a long breath, set my teeth together hard, and hold on
to my "smiling expression" for that one minute, at least, if I died for
it afterwards.

Indeed, the young folks of this later generation will hardly be able to
understand what an ordeal it was to sit for an ambrotype, in 1866.

Ambrotypes were the kind of pictures which Gram had in view. Moreover,
she had no notion of investing in more than one likeness apiece for each
of us. This ambrotype was to be kept in the family archives, for the
benefit of generations to come; the idea of having a dozen taken, or
even half a dozen, to give away to one's friends, had not at that time
entered the minds of country people in that portion of New England.

We had at first intended to start by nine in the morning and arrive by
ten or eleven, so as to have the benefit of the midday sun--an important
requisite for an ambrotype. But it was eleven o'clock before all were
properly ready, and Gram then decided to have our noon meal before
setting off. We got off a few minutes past noon. All the doors of the
farmhouse were locked, or otherwise fastened, the garden gate closed and
the horses harnessed. The Old Squire with Gram led the way in the
single wagon, and we six cousins, with Addison driving old "Sol,"
followed in the express wagon, three on a seat. We were conscious that
we presented a curiously holiday appearance and laughed a great deal as
we rattled along the road, although secretly each felt not a little

"Oh, but it's nothing!" Halstead exclaimed over and over. "All you have
to do is to sit still a minute; the cammirror is the thing that does the
work;"--for he was a little shaky on the pronunciation of the word
camera, or the workings of it. To Addison and Theodora's great
amusement, he went on to inform the rest of us in a superior tone, that
the cammirror took a reflection from a person's face, much as a
looking-glass does, and then threw it on a "mess of soft chemical stuff"
which the artist had spread on a little pane of glass. "Being soft, the
reflection naturally sticks in it," Halse continued. "Then all the
fellow has to do is to harden it up--and there you are.

"But he has to be pretty careful, or you come out upside down," Halstead
added. "I had a notion of buying one of those cammirrors once, before I
came here, and starting in the business. I wish I had now. It is a sight
better business than farming. I knew a fellow out at New Orleans that
made thirteen dollars in one day, taking pictures."

"I wonder that you didn't get a 'cammirror,' Halse," Addison remarked.
"You might have become a rich man in a few years."

"Oh, but it's dreadful unhealthy work," replied Halstead, in an offhand
tone. "The chemical stuff they have to mix up gets into the lungs. It
smells terribly. There's two kinds. The worst-smelling kind isn't the
most unhealthy, though; the other kind you can but just smell at all,
but one good whiff of it will about use a man up, if it gets fairly into
his lungs. It doesn't answer for the artist fellow to breathe much when
he is in the little dark place, where he spreads the chemical stuff on
the glass. They generally hold their noses when they are in there."

"If that is true, we had all better be careful how we breathe much this
afternoon," Addison observed, feigning a very anxious glance around.

Little Wealthy looked distressed, however, and erelong intimated a
desire to ride with Gram in the other wagon. She and Theodora and I rode
on the back seat of our wagon; and I heard Theodora whispering to her
reassuringly, that Halstead's talk was all nonsense.

On reaching the village we hitched our horses under two of the
Congregationalist meeting-house sheds, and then proceeded to the small,
low studio, or "saloon," with a large window in the roof, where at that
time one Antony Lockett (or else Locke) practised the art of
photography. He was a tall, large man of sandy complexion, somewhat slow
in his movements and of pleasant manners. Gram opened negotiations with
him directly, as to the price of ambrotypes, etc. She was not a little
distressed, however, to learn from Mr. Lockett that ambrotypes were
somewhat out of fashion, and that a new-fangled thing, called a
photograph, represented the highest art and progress of the day. It was
expensive, however. Of ambrotypes the artist spoke somewhat
apologetically and slightingly. He also talked fluently of "tin-types,"
a kind of small, inferior likeness on a thin metal plate, without case,
or glass. These he offered to make by the dozen at prices which almost
shocked us from their cheapness.

As an artist who wished to exercise his vocation to the extent of its
possibilities, Mr. Lockett argued adroitly in favor of the new
photographs for all of us.

Grandmother was much perplexed. "It appears that times are changing," I
heard her say to the Old Squire. "I should say times were changing,
Ruth!" he replied rather shortly. "If this man is going to charge six
dollars apiece for us all, for photographs, I guess we had better get
our horses and go home."

"Of course we cannot pay any such money as that, Joseph," Gram
concurred. "We shall have to have ambrotypes, as we set out in the first
place. I cannot see any better way. But it's a pity fashion has turned
against them."

Ambrotypes being declared for, artist Lockett made his preparations,
including several trips into his little dark room, the erection of his
camera on its tripod, hanging a little pink sock on a hook upon the wall
to look at, and setting out a chair with an iron head-rest. He then
said, somewhat impressively, "I am ready. Who will sit first?"

None of us wished for that distinction, and to this day I recall the
terrified look in little Wealthy's eye as she sought to make herself
invisible behind Theodora's shoulder. The child was really much alarmed,
largely from the peculiar odor which pervaded the place, and the stories
which Halstead had told on our way down. It was the odor of all
ambrotype "saloons" of that date, which can best be described by saying
that it resembled what might have been, if the place had long been the
haunt of a horde of cats.

"Joseph," said Gram at length, "you had better sit first, you are the

"I am not so very many months older than you, Ruth," replied the Old
Squire, with a twinkle of his eye. "And when I was a young man, it was
held to be the proper thing to seat the ladies first."

"Now don't you go to being funny, Joe," replied Gram, fanning herself
vigorously. "This is no place for it."

Thus rebuked, and after some hesitation, the old gentleman with a queer
expression took his seat in the "chair," and had his iron-gray head
adjusted to the round black disks of the head-rest. Gram arranged his
front lock with her comb, and said, "Now keep your eye on the little
sock, Joseph, and look smilin';"--a superfluous piece of advice, as it
proved, for he had already begun grinning awfully.

The artist, who had his head under the black cloth of his camera, now
suddenly looked forth and gave different advice. "Not too smilin'. Not
so smilin' as that, quite," said he.

But the Old Squire only grinned the more vigorously, showing several

Gram went around in front by the artist. "Oh, no, Joseph, not near so
smilin'!" she exclaimed.

But do their best, they could not get the smile off his face.

"Look more solemn, Joseph," Gram now exhorted him. "You are overdoing

But so certain as the artist raised his hand to take off the cap from
the camera, the Old Squire's face would begin to pucker again, and the
artist was obliged to wait.

We all grew scandalized at his unaccountable levity. Addison sat
laughing silently in a chair behind, and Gram at last lost her patience.

"If you were only a little boy, it wouldn't be quite so silly!" she
exclaimed. "But an old man, with only a few years more on the earth, to
behave so, is all out of character. Think of the shortness of life,
Joseph, and the certainty of death."

But still from some nervous perversity, the old gentleman's face drew up
in the same inveterate pucker whenever Lockett raised his hand to uncap
the camera.

"O Joe, I'm astonished at you! I am for certain!" cried Gram, so vexed
and angry that she lost all patience. She rushed to the door and looked
out, to control her feelings.

Theodora then drew near the Old Squire's side and whispered, "Think of
the War, Grandpa."

The War was then a topic of such terrible sadness for us that the
mention of it, ordinarily, was sufficient to unloose the most poignant
recollections. To grandfather, as to us all, it had brought a sable
cloud of bereavement. But even thoughts of the War did not now long
suffice to remove that grin--longer than till the Old Squire saw
Lockett's hand raised. Then out jumped the all too "smilin' expression"

Gram went out of doors altogether and walked along the sidewalk, in
mortification and despite; her feelings were much outraged.

Lockett now essayed to turn the conversation upon a current political
topic, namely the nomination of General Grant for the Presidency; and it
seemed as if the grin was at last exorcised. Yet when the artist
attempted covertly to remove the cap, a hundred puckers gathered about
Gramp's eyes again, his chin twitched, and even there were wrinkles on
his nose.

With that, Lockett himself walked to the door for a time. Gram now
returned, her face very red, and stalking in, surveyed the offender with
a look of hard exasperation. "My senses, Joseph, you are the most
provoking man I ever set my two eyes on. I do declare you are!"

Lockett returned to his place by the camera, looking somewhat bored.
"Well, shall we try again?" said he.

"If he don't keep his face straight now, I'll know the reason!" Gram
chimed in.

Yet quite the same when Lockett lifted his hand, after an awful pause,
every furrow and pucker reappeared.

"Oh, there!" Gram exclaimed almost in tears, so vexed she had grown.
"Take him. Take him, just as he is, the old Chessy-cat!" and again she
rushed away to the door and snatched out her pocket handkerchief.

Then Addison, who had sat and laughed till he had laughed himself tired
and sober, came to the rescue, with a stroke of genius. Nodding covertly
to Lockett, he approached the Old Squire from behind, and in a tone, as
intended only for his private ear, murmured, "Say, Gramp, d'ye know this
Lockett charges six dollars an hour for his time!"

The old gentleman's face suddenly straightened as his ear caught the
words, and a look of dignified indignation and incredulity overspread
his countenance, observing which the artist removed the cap and the
likeness was taken. What the thoughts of death and War failed to
accomplish was done by sudden resentment. After a moment or two, Gramp
perceived the ruse which Addison had practised on him, and laughed as he
rose from the chair. But Gram would not so much as look at him, and she
scarcely spoke to him again that day.

The Old Squire did not at the time condescend to offer any explanation
of his "smilin' expression;" but years afterwards, on an occasion when
he and I were making a journey together, he told me that he never quite
understood, himself, what whimsical freak took possession of his mind
that day. To have saved his life--he said--he could not have kept a
sober face when Lockett raised his hand to the cap. The ambrotype
faithfully reproduced the sudden resentful expression on his
countenance; and we always spoke of it as the "six dollars an hour

Grandmother sat next, after Theodora and Ellen had arranged or rather
rearranged her somewhat ruffled hair and collar. There was no
troublesome smile on her countenance that afternoon! The flush of
excitement and anger still tinged her cheeks, and her eye looked a
little snappy. Theodora tried to modify the severe expression by saying
pleasant things while helping seat her in a good position, but only half
succeeded; and the picture which we have of her does not do her entire
justice, since it gives an impression of austerity not in keeping with
her usual disposition and character.

I think that Addison sat next, and after him Halstead, who assumed a
somewhat bumptious air, which was to an extent reflected in his picture.

Theodora had the "smiling expression" naturally, and perhaps added a
trifle to it for the occasion. We often said to her afterwards, when
looking at the pictures, that her smile was almost as broad as Gramp's
irrepressible one. Still, it was a very good likeness of her at fifteen
and of the genial, half-amused expression she often wore during those
happy years at the farm.

It now came my turn to sit in the chair and have my head put back
against the rest. For some reason Addison laughed, and then the others
came around in front of me and laughed, too. "Don't he look worried?"
cried Halstead. "Get on your 'smiling expression.' Don't stare at that
poor little sock so hard, you'll knock it down off the hook! The little
sock isn't to blame."

"Smile a little," said the artist gently.

But I had just witnessed what befell Gramp from smiling, and was afraid
to risk it. "Oh, now!" whispered Theodora, "you really mustn't look so
morose. Think of something pleasant. Think of catching trout."

But it would not come to me. "He can't smile," said Addison. "I'll stump
him to smile."

"Oh, but you do look sad!" exclaimed Ellen.

"A regular cast-iron glare," said Halstead.

I grew angry.

"There's going to be a thunder-shower from the looks of his face,"
Addison remarked. "I'm going to get under cover."

They all took the hint and went away from in front of me. It seemed to
me that those iron disks of the head-rest were the only two points on
which my entire weight rested. The little pink sock swam up and down;
and from somewheres in the rear I heard Halse saying, "He will have a
fit in a minute more!"

At that moment Lockett took off the cap. I caught my breath, tried hard
to smile just a little and no more, and clenched my fists. _Click!_ the
cap was replaced, and Lockett said, "That'll do." I got out of the chair
and walked to the door; my ears were singing and both feet had "gone to
sleep." The ambrotype subsequently gave evidence that my last effort to
smile had materialized to the extent of being faintly visible, like a
far-distant nebula on a clear night. The others always hectored me about
that "frozen smile."

Ellen sat next and was taken very quickly, while I stood at the door
recovering myself; but Wealthy suffered even more than I did, I feel
sure. The poor child had stood awestruck and alarmed all the time the
others were sitting. What she had seen had by no means tended to
reassure her. She actually turned pale when Theodora took her to the
chair; her dark eyes looked uncommonly large and wild. The smile which
they finally developed on her face was one of fascination rather than
pleasure; and when at length the cap was replaced and the artist said,
"That'll do," she bounced out of the chair as if made of India-rubber.

We did not get the ambrotypes, in their small, square, black cases, till
some weeks subsequently; and I recollect that the entire bill was twelve
dollars, also that we all--all except Gram--rode home from the village
in very high spirits, as those do who have successfully passed through a
perilous ordeal. Gram, indeed, was unable to recover her equanimity till
next day.



It was the following Sunday morning, if I remember aright, that I first
heard the name of Charles Darwin and received an intimation as to the
now world-famous theory of the origin and descent of mankind. What a
singular name Darwin seemed to me, too, the first time I heard it.

The Old Squire was a great reader, for a Maine farmer, who as a rule has
little time for that, during the summer season. But he always caught a
few minutes for his newspapers at breakfast, or dinner, although we did
not then take a daily paper.

The old gentleman had not received a college education, but he had once
attended Fryeburg Academy, at the time Daniel Webster taught there, and
afterwards had been a student for two terms at Hebron Academy. Even at
the age of sixty-nine he retained a somewhat remarkable thirst for
information of all kinds. I remember that he would sit for a whole
evening, poring so intently in a volume of Chamber's _Encyclopædia_ as
to be hardly aware of what was going on in the room about him. After a
manner, too, he kept pretty well posted, not only on events of current
history and politics, but of scientific progress.

That spring of 1866, he had privately sent to an acquaintance in
Portland to procure for him a copy of _The Origin of Species_, then a
new book, to which he had seen brief allusions in our weekly newspapers,
and concerning which he felt much curiosity. He read it all through,
carefully, without saying much, if anything, about it to Gram, or any
one else. But Elder Witham found out, somehow, that there was such a
book in our house, and his animosity against it was much excited.

Before prayers that Sunday morning the Old Squire looked around--though
I think he had Addison and Theodora chiefly in mind--and said, "There is
a man in England, named Darwin, Charles Darwin, who has written a book,
called _The Origin of Species_, of which a great deal begins to be said.
This Darwin is a scholarly man and writes modestly. I see that a great
many appear to be adopting his views. He holds that man has risen from
certain lower animals, somewhat like the monkeys, or apes, and therefore
that we are related by descent to these animals, instead of having been
created perfect, as the Bible seems to teach.

"This man Darwin brings forward a great many things in support of his
views, some of which seem reasonable. He appears to be a sincere man,
and as such ought not to be condemned hastily. I think it is still too
soon to form a decided opinion as to this, and that it is safer for us
to go on believing as the Scriptures teach.

"I mention this," the Old Squire continued, "Because Elder Witham tells
me that he is going to take up Darwin's book in his sermon a week from
to-day, to warn people against it. The Elder, who is also very sincere,
believes that this Darwin is a dangerous man who is doing vast harm to
Christianity. I do not go quite so far as that, myself, although I still
hold to the Scriptural account of man's creation. But if Mr. Darwin is
as honest a man as he seems and has published what he thinks to be the
truth, I do not believe his book will in the end do any harm in the
world. But it is always better, in such important matters, not to change
our opinions hastily, but to reflect carefully." After a pause Addison
spoke. "Elder Witham's sermon against Darwin will not change my mind,"
said he, very decidedly. "I think Darwin is right. He is a great man.
Elder Witham is always down on everything that touches his narrow views
of the Bible."

"The Elder is an honest, fearless man," was all the reply the Old Squire
made to that. But Gram exclaimed that she hoped none of us would ever
read that wicked book about mankind being from monkeys--which somehow
made me perversely resolve to read it.

The Old Squire, however, kept _The Origin of Species_ put away in some
secret receptacle known only to himself.

That same Sabbath morning, too, the Old Squire read briefly from one of
the papers of a terrible war that was raging in South America, between
Paraguay on one hand and Brazil and the Argentine Republic on the other.
As usual, after reading anything of this kind at table, the old
gentleman commented on it and generally made some point clear to us.

"The trouble down there in South America," said he, "comes wholly from
an unscrupulous man, named Francisco Lopez, who has contrived to make
himself Dictator of Paraguay. Lopez is an imitator of Napoleon
Bonaparte. He has an insatiate ambition to conquer all South America and
found an empire there, much as Napoleon sought to conquer Europe and
establish a great French empire. Napoleon is Lopez' model. He has
plunged Paraguay in misery and mourning.

"When I was a boy," the Old Squire added, "I had a great admiration for
Napoleon Bonaparte and loved to read of his great battles. Nearly all
young people do admire him. But now that I see his motives and his acts
more clearly, I regard him as a monster of egotism and brutal

Halstead had stolen out while the Old Squire was reading to us. We could
not find him during the forenoon, but he came in after we sat down at
dinner, much as on a former Sunday; this time, too, he looked much
heated. Addison and Theodora bent their eyes on their plates, but
nothing was said by any one. Halstead ate hurriedly, with covert glances
around. He seemed disturbed or excited, and after dinner went out in the
garden alone, keeping aloof, but came up to our room late that evening,
after I was abed.

At length I fell asleep, but immediately a noise like scratching or
squeaking on the window pane, roused me suddenly. The window was on the
back side of the house, but there was a driveway beneath it, and any one
outside could, with a very long stick, reach up to the glass panes. It
had grown dark, but when the noise waked me, I found that Halstead was
sitting on the side of the bed, as if listening.

"What was that?" I said, sleepily.

"Oh, nothing," replied Halse. "The wind rattled the window, I guess."

I recollect thinking, that there was no wind that night, and I believe I
said so, but I was very sleepy, and although I thought it queer that
Halse should be sitting up to hear the wind, I soon fell into a drowse
again and probably snored, for my room-mate often accused me of that

I had not fallen soundly asleep, however, when I again heard the tapping
at the window. A sly impulse, suggested probably by Halstead's demeanor,
prompted me to play 'possum and pretend that I had not waked this time.
I even went on breathing hard, on that pretense.

Halstead was still sitting on the bed. He listened for a moment to my
counterfeit breathing, then slid easily off and approached the window.
It was already raised a little and rested on a New Testament which Gram
always kept in our room. Halse gently shoved the window higher and put
out his head. The air of the quiet country night was very still, and I
heard a hoarse whisper from the ground outside, although I could not
distinguish the words.

"Yes," whispered Halstead in reply.

Then the whisper below resumed.

"I don't want to do that," said Halstead.

The whisper outside rejoined, at some length.

"Perhaps," answered Halse.

The other whisper continued.

"When?" asked Halstead.

The whisper replied for some moments.

"By eleven," Halse then said. "Not before."

Then there was a good deal of whispering beneath, and Halstead replied,
"Well, I'll be there."

Not long after, he crept back to bed, I meantime continuing my
fraudulent hard breathing, although by this time I was very much awake
and consumed by curiosity and suspicion. For at least half an hour,
Halse tossed and turned about, seeming to be very restless and uneasy;
in fact, he was still turning, when I fell asleep in very truth.

When I first waked next morning, I did not recollect this circumstance
of the previous evening; in fact, it did not come into my mind till we
had gone out to milk the cows. I then began to think it over earnestly
and continued doing so throughout the forenoon. At first I had no
thought of telling any one what I had heard, for although Halse had
recently threatened me, I did not wish to play the spy on him.

But the idea that something wrong was on foot grew very strong within
me. The more I pondered the circumstances the more certain I felt of it.
At length I concluded to speak of it to Theodora; for some reason my
choice of a confidante fell instinctively on her.

We were "cultivating" the corn that forenoon with old Sol, and hoeing it
for the second time. Finally, I made an excuse to go to the house for a
jug of sweetened water. While preparing it, I found opportunity to call
Theodora into the wood-shed, and first exacting a promise of secrecy
from her, I told her what had occurred the previous evening.

She seemed surprised at first, then terrified, and I went back to the
field with my jug, leaving her greatly disturbed.

When we came in at noon, she motioned me aside in the pantry and said
hurriedly, that I must tell Addison and ask him to speak with her after

Twice during the afternoon we saw Theodora out in sight of the
corn-field, and I knew that she was anxiously looking for a word or sign
from Addison. At last, towards supper time, taking advantage of a few
minutes when Halse had gone to the horse pasture with old Sol, I briefly
mentioned the thing to Addison and proffered Theodora's request for an

Addison listened with a frown. "I think I know who that was under the
window," said he. "Halse has been running round with him, on the sly,
for a month, and they've got some kind of a 'dido' planned out."

"Suppose it is anything bad?" I queried.

"Oh, I don't know," said Ad, impatiently. "Bad enough, I'll warrant you.
If it is the fellow I think it is, he is an out-and-out 'tough' and a
blackguard. One of those chaps that are hanging round Tibbett's rum shop
out at the Corners. You may be sure that a man of that stamp isn't
whispering around under windows, for any good."

"Why, you don't suppose they were planning to steal, or rob, do you?" I
asked, much startled.

"Who knows," replied Addison, coolly. "Halse is a strange boy. He is
just rattle-headed and foolish enough to get coaxed into some scrape
that will disgrace him and all the rest of us. I never saw a fellow in
my life so lacking in good sense.

"Oh yes, I'll talk with Doad," continued Ad, somewhat impatiently. "Doad
is a good girl. She thinks moral suasion and generosity will do
everything. But if I had Halse to manage, I would put him under lock and
key, every night," said Addison, striking his hoe sharply into the

"And if we only let him alone, I guess he will get there, of his own
accord," he added with a fine irony.

I saw quite plainly that, as Theodora had once said to me, Addison had
no patience with Halstead and his but too evident weakness of character.

"I don't like to run to the Old Squire with all that I see and hear,"
Addison went on, in a low tone, for Gramp was hoeing only a few steps
behind us, and Halstead was now coming back from the pasture. "For they
all think now that I don't like Halse and that I am too hard on him. But
they will find out who is in the right about it."

After supper I saw Theodora in earnest conversation with Addison, out in
the garden by the bee-house. Doad was a great friend of the bees; if she
were wanted and not in the house, we generally looked first for her in
the garden, in the vicinity of the bee-house.

Later in the evening, after we had finished milking and were going into
the dairy with our pails, Addison said to me that it was best, he
thought, to say nothing to the old folks just yet. "Doad wants me to
watch to-night and, if Halse gets up to go off anywhere, to stop him and
coax him back to his room.

"It isn't a job I like," continued Addison, "but perhaps we had better
try it; Doad thinks so.

"So if you can keep awake, till ten or eleven, you had better," Addison
went on. "If he gets up to start off, ask him where he is going, and if
he really starts, come and call me, and we will go after him. I can
dress in a minute."

To this proposal I agreed, and I may add here that at about eleven
o'clock we surprised Halse in the act of stealing away to the Corners,
but after some parley and a scuffle with him, succeeded in getting him
back to bed, and I lodged with Addison.

It was but a short night thenceforward till five o'clock in the morning.
Before going down-stairs we peeped into Halse's room, to see if he were
there still. He lay soundly asleep. Addison closed the door softly.
"Poor noodle," said he, as we got the milk pails. "Let him snooze
awhile. I suppose it isn't really his fault that he has got such a head
on his shoulders. He is rather to be pitied, after all. He is his own
worst enemy.

"I've heard," Ad continued in a low tone, as we opened the barnyard
gate, "that Aunt Ysabel, Halse's mother, was a sort of queer, tempery,
flighty person."

The Old Squire had got out a little in advance of us and sat milking.
"Good morning, boys," said he, looking up cheerily, as we passed.
"Another fine day. The whole country looks bright and smiling. Grand
year for crops."

"We will not say a word to him about our scrape with Halse last night,"
Addison remarked to me. "There's no use plaguing him with it. We cost
him so much and give him so much trouble, that I am ashamed to let him
know of this."

When we took in the milk, Theodora was grinding coffee (and how good it
smelled! She had just roasted it in the stove oven). "We got him back
all right, with no great difficulty," Addison whispered to her, in

"Oh, I'm so glad," she replied.

Halse had not come down; and pretty soon we heard the Old Squire call
him, at which Addison laughed a little as he glanced at me. At
breakfast Halstead looked somewhat glum; in fact, he did not look at
Addison and me at all, if he could avoid it.

That forenoon we hoed corn again and talked a good deal of the Fourth of
July celebration which was to come off at the village the following

Toward noon, however, word was sent us that the husband of a cousin of
the Old Squire's who resided in the town adjoining, to the eastward, had
suddenly died, and that the funeral was to be at two o'clock that

No one of the family seemed much disposed to attend it. It appeared that
the deceased had not been a highly respected citizen. It was said that
he had died from the effects of a fit of intoxication. The liquor which
drunkards were able to obtain, by hook or crook, at that period and in
spite of the Prohibitory Law, was of a peculiarly deleterious character.

At dinner the Old Squire remarked that he should attend the funeral, and
that I could go with him, if I liked, but that the others might be
excused. I at once accepted the invitation; almost anything was
preferable to hoeing corn in the hot sun.

It was a pleasant ride of eight miles along the county road to the
northeastward. We first passed numerous farms, then a "mud pond" and a
"clear water pond," following afterwards the valley of a small river
between two high, wooded mountains, till we came at last to a saw-mill,
grist-mill and a few houses at a place whimsically known as the "city."
Here in a little weathered house the last rites and services to the
deceased were held. Elder Witham, still in his duster, preached a short
discourse during which I felt somewhat distressed to hear him express
certain doubts as to the man's future state. The Elder was a thoroughly
upright Yankee and Methodist, who tried to preach the truth and the
gospel, as he apprehended it; he did not believe that all a person's
faults are, or ought to be, forgiven at his death. I remember the
following words which he made use of on that occasion, for they appealed
to some nascent sense of logic in me, I suppose: "The evil which men do
in this life lives on in the world after they die; and even so the just
penalty for it continues with them in a future state."

The Old Squire, although ordinarily a kind and reasonable man, yet
possessed some of the same severe traits of character, which have
descended in the sons of New England, from the days of the Puritans. I
remember that he said, as we drove along the road, going homeward: "The
death of a drunkard is a shameful end. Such a person can expect other
people to mourn only for his folly."

But these sentiments made far less impression upon me then than the
conduct of the wife of the dead man. I had somehow supposed that he was
an old man; but instead, he was only thirty-four years of age; and his
wife was an auburn-haired, strong woman, not more than thirty, unusually
handsome in face and form. She was in a state of great excitement, not
wholly caused by sorrow. It appeared that there had been a violently
bitter quarrel between the pair, the night before the man's death; and
so far from having forgiven her husband, even then, the woman exhibited
the turbulence of her temper and behaved in an unseemly manner during
and after the services. Her outcries gave me a very strange impression
and in fact so shocked and terrified me, that to this day I cannot
recall the scene without a singular sensation of disquiet. Withal, it
was the first funeral which I had ever attended. As a lad I was in not a
little doubt on several points, touching the behavior of widows on such
occasions; and as we drove homeward, I ventured to ask the Old Squire
whether women were often liable to go on at funerals as that one did.
For I remember thinking that if this were really the case, I should
never under any circumstances whatever, be allured into matrimony.

But the Old Squire at once said, positively, that they did not behave
so, and that this woman (her name was Britannia) was an exception to all

My next question upset him, however, for after a few moments of decent
inward satisfaction over his reply, I asked him whether Britannia was a

Gramp turned half around on the wagon seat and looked at me in
astonishment for an instant; he then burst out in a hearty laugh.

"No, no," said he. "She is no Pepperill, no connection whatever of your
grandmother. The shoe is on the other foot. It's on my side this time."

He laughed again as he drove on; and just before we reached home, he
told me, and seemed much in earnest that I should understand it, that
the Pepperills were a very good family, as much or more so than the
average, and that if I had got any different impression from anything I
had heard said, it was utterly erroneous.

"You must never mind any of the nonsense I have over to your grandmother
when we are at table," he continued. "It's all fun. We don't mean
anything. Your grandma is the best woman I ever knew."

I replied that I had thought that was the way of it, myself. As the old
gentleman had expressed himself so magnanimously toward the Pepperills,
I at once resolved not to say a word to Gram, or any of the others,
about this Britannia's behavior. I did not like to have Gramp put at any
disadvantage in the family; so the old gentleman and I kept that
incident quiet between us for a good many years.



The first days of July were very hot and sultry; the hoeing was
finished; haying was at hand. We young folks, however, were now chiefly
interested in the Fourth of July celebration at the village, seven miles
from the farm, and were laying our plans to go, all the previous day. In
fact, the whole family intended to go.

If we were to get the farm chores done, breakfast eaten and reach the
village by six o'clock, in time to see the procession of "fantastics" we
would have to be astir by three in the morning. Addison proposed to
harness old Sol and Nancy to the hay-rack, decorate it with green oak
boughs, making a canopy over it, and all ride to town together, taking
up six or eight of our neighbors, to swell the party.

Theodora and Ellen hailed this plan with delight, but Gram objected both
because of the fact that the hay-rack had no springs, and also upon
grounds of decorum.

"Why, people would think we were a part of the 'fantastics,'" the old
lady exclaimed. "I will never ride in any such gipsy fashion!"

This vigorous declaration tabled the hay-cart scheme. But as we were
milking that evening, Addison obtained the Old Squire's consent to
harness Nancy into the horse-cart, and decorate it for us young folks;
while our elders drove to the village with old Sol in the beach-wagon.
Boughs were accordingly fetched and a canopy made over the cart and by
nine we all retired, so as to secure as much sleep as possible before
three A. M.

But the Pluvian powers forbade the excursion. The southern sky, indeed,
had looked a trifle dark and wet, the previous evening. Raindrops on the
roof waked us shortly before three. We hoped it was but a passing
shower. At daylight, however, the rain was pouring profusely. Wealthy
actually cried; Ellen scolded a little; Halstead made certain irreverent
remarks; while Gram sought to inculcate resignation in the abstract.

It proved one of those profuse southerly rains, such as often occur in
Maine during the summer season. We milked in the barn and put the cows
out to pasture in the midst of the downpour, for it was a warm rain.

"No celebration to-day," remarked Addison; but the Old Squire thought
that it would slacken by noon and perhaps clear.

All the morning it rained too hard even to go fishing. Addison went up
to his room to read Audubon awhile. Halstead went out to the wagon-house
and having appropriated an auger, draw-shave and hammer, took an
umbrella and set off for the old cooper shop below the orchard. Seeing
me standing in the wood-house door, he said, "You can go down to my
shop, if you want to. I wouldn't invite Addison, but I will you."

I ran out to his umbrella, and we went down to the old shop. When we
reached the door, Halstead remarked that I need not _see_ the way he
opened it; so I stepped around the corner for a moment, till he called
to me. I then entered after him and stood around while he set to work on
several odd-looking pieces of wheeled gear. Then with his permission, I
kindled a little fire in the large old fireplace, and dried my clothes
before it.

"I tell ye that's a cute place to roast sweet corn ears," Halstead
remarked. "In the fall I have a fire here evenings and roast corn; I did
last fall and you and I will this next fall. It's jolly fun, after the
nights get cool; I would like to sleep down here, but the old gent wants
me to sleep in the house; I made a bunk of shavings and set out to stay
one night before my fire, but he came down and knocked at the door about
ten o'clock. He said I had better go up to the house.

"The old gent is awful particular about a fellow being out after dark,"
Halstead continued. "I ain't used, myself, to being bossed round so, and
treated as if I was a child that hadn't cut my teeth yet. I've seen
something of the world and can take care of number one, anywheres. It
ain't as if I was a little green chap. I've lived out among folks, till
I came 'way back here. I suppose the old gent and all the rest of them
think, that I don't know any more and must be looked after just like one
of these little greenhorns round here. It's a great bore to me to be
treated that way and I don't like it at all. It makes me mad sometimes.
A fellow that has travelled and seen something, wants more liberty."

I could see that he was talking around to lead up to something he wished
to tell me, and so said nothing.

"Now the other night," Halstead continued, "all I was going off for was
to get some money of a fellow who owes me out at the Corners; I wanted
to get it bad, for I wanted to pay you and the girls what I owe you. I
knew you wanted it for the Fourth and I wanted to pay it; so I thought I
would slip out to the Corners, and see this fellow and get it of him,
for he had promised me I should have it that night. I felt ructious that
I couldn't go, for of course a fellow wants to pay his honest debts, and
it's kinder hard when he can't."

I mentally set this down as one of the things that are important, if
true; it was pretty plain to me, however, that Halstead was hedging, and
making up a story which he thought suited to my understanding. I did not
like to hear him go on, and contrived to change the conversation.

Halstead was in one of his good moods that morning, and as he worked
with the draw-shave, he cast knowing, proud glances first at the wheeled
contrivance, then at me. I concluded that he wanted me to inquire about
it and so asked what it was for.

"A wind-mill," said he. "It will be a buster, too! I'll show 'em a thing
or two 'round here. I mean to run a lathe with it here at the shop and
do wood turning. I'll turn banisters, rolling-pins, gingerbread creasers
and all sorts of things. I can make lots of money off a lathe. I'm going
to set the wind-mill up on a tall post at the corner of the shop here,
and then have a pulley shaft clean across this whole side of it. Won't
it just hum though!"

I grew considerably interested in the proposed wind-mill, as Halse
explained it. He really had some ideas of a lathe, run by wind power,
and went on for some time telling me of his plans, till Ellen called us
to dinner.

It continued to rain till past two o'clock, when the clouds broke away
and the sun came forth very hot and bright.

"Shall we go?" was now the question. "Will there be a celebration now
the day is so far advanced?"

The Old Squire thought it hardly worth the while to set off, assuredly
not in the bough-embowered cart. Gram and the girls therefore decided to
give up going altogether, but we three boys at length harnessed old Sol
into the express wagon and started; for we hoped to see the fireworks in
the evening and perhaps the sack-race and wheelbarrow-race which had
been set for afternoon.

The meadow brook was swollen high out its banks and flowed into the
grass on both sides, and the wet road was full of puddles through which
old Sol splashed prosaically on. There were very few teams on the road.
Alfred Batchelder, the two Murch boys and Ned Wilbur overtook us,
however, when we had nearly reached the village, all four riding on one
seat of an old wagon. We found, too, that Thomas Edwards and Catherine
had come to the village, in advance of us. Catherine came out from one
of the stores to ask us whether Theodora and Ellen had come; she seemed
much disappointed to learn that they had not, and that she was the only
girl from our neighborhood who had ventured forth.

Despite the wet, a crowd of three or four hundred persons, mostly boys
or young men, had collected in front of the Elm House, where they were
popping off firecrackers and playing pranks. Zest was presently lent to
these latter efforts, by the continuous explosion of half a bunch of
crackers beneath the wagon seat of a young farmer who, with his sister,
or some other young lady, was sitting in a wagon on the outskirts of the
crowd, looking on. Both of them were smiling broadly. In the rear end of
their wagon was a butter firkin and a number of packages. Some rogue
lighted the crackers and tossed them directly beneath the wagon seat,
and immediately they began to pop off. Their horse gave a bound; smoke
and sparks flew, and after a moment the girl jumped clear of the wagon
and landed nimbly on her feet two yards away! She looked very wild,
indeed, and did not relish the joke; for an urchin in the crowd,
attempting to follow it up by covertly dropping a lighted cracker near
her feet, was instantly detected and received such a box on the ear as
set him howling.

Meantime the youthful farmer had no small ado to quiet his nag. When
the animal and the crackers had at length subsided into quiet, he began
to look about for the girl. His nerves were not of the highly strung
variety; he looked out for his horse first; he was not much excited, and
smiled broadly when Angelina came forward to climb into the wagon again,
but he was heard to remark in a slightly quickened tone. "By Gaul, 'f I
could find out who throwed them firecrackers, I'd lick him, I would, I

He gazed about over the crowd, with an inquiring eye, as one honestly on
the lookout for accurate information; and although everybody had laughed
uproariously, no one now claimed the honor of having started the fun.

Evidently a mischievous spirit possessed the crowd. In fact, when a
great concourse of people has gathered in expectation of a good time,
and has been balked of the fun, it is well to be wary and keep aloof.
Something is pretty certain to happen, and somebody is likely to be made
a victim of the general disappointment. In such a case the most prudent
thing is to go quietly home.

While all stood laughing and gaping at young Agricola and his fair
companion, another hubbub broke out. A cracker suddenly exploded in the
outer pocket of a long linen duster, worn by a tall youth who at that
moment had his mouth widely distended with laughter. He clapped his hand
to his pocket, when another went off there. With that he whirled around,
the lengthy skirts of the "duster" floating out in a circle amidst a
wreath of blue powder smoke. _Snap-fizz_ went another and another
cracker, the sparks flying and an odor of burnt cloth beginning to
pervade the air. The crowd, shouting in fresh glee, speedily drew out
from the new victim and formed a ring about him.

"Enoch, you're all afire!" exclaimed one of his acquaintances. "Throw
off yer duster." This was sound advice and would probably have been
acted upon by "Enoch;" but some one else cried, "Down and roll over."

The adage advising all whose clothes take fire, to roll on the floor, or
the ground, has become pretty firmly fixed in the public mind; and
hearing it, Enoch at once threw himself down and rolled over and over in
the road, to the accompaniment of a tremendous shout. The maneuver did
not much improve matters; for a lot of crackers had been dropped into
the duster pocket. These continued to pop off, in twos and threes; and
the more alarmingly they popped, the more vigorously Enoch rolled! A
more laughable spectacle, for the onlookers, can hardly be imagined. The
tall fellow's arms and legs flew about in a wonderful manner; the smoke
and sparks flew, too, and every time a cracker snapped, Enoch howled.

Somebody at length ran forward with a pailful of water that was set on
the tavern piazza, and dashed it over him, and withal the road was still
very muddy from the rain. When the water fell over him, he scrambled to
his feet; the crackers had snapped themselves out. But oh, sorrows, what
a fearfully singed and muddy object was Enoch! His own mother would have
looked coldly on him; and the unsympathetic crowd screamed with delight.

But Enoch had arisen in a somber frame of mind; and it was at once
apparent that something was going to be done about it, and that somebody
must settle the account with him. He cast a rueful glance over his
personal remnants, then a wrathy one at the laughter-shaken crowd, took
a step forward and giving vent to certain emphatic remarks, declared,
"The feller that did that has got to suffer!"

Thereupon a group of five or six boys, among them our Halstead and
Alfred Batchelder, not being upheld, perhaps, by the courage of entire
innocence, began to slink away and get behind others. In an instant
Enoch was after them. They took to their heels around to the rear of the
tavern, the crowd shouting, "Catch 'em! Give it to 'em! Go it, Enoch!"

There was a rush to see the denouement. Neither Addison, nor I,
witnessed all which took place. The chase had led the principals far
around to the rear of a stable and sheds. At length, we saw Halstead and
Alfred on the roof of the latter, and heard cries of dismay and distress
from others of the runaway party; Enoch was with them, evidently.

Alfred and Halse continued hastily to climb to the ridge-pole of the
stable and then walked along on the roof of an ell, till they gained the
higher roof of the tavern itself. Presently Enoch came back from the
rear and espying the refugees aloft, began to stone them with vigor,
till the proprietor came out and ordered all parties to the fracas to
desist and leave the premises.

Addison and I now crossed the street and joined Thomas and Kate Edwards,
who were standing on the platform of a store opposite, spectators at a
distance of what had taken place. After a time Halse came to us, having
made a circuit of several buildings from the rear of the Elm House. He
had the generally rumpled appearance of a boy who has been roughly
handled. Occasionally he nursed and rubbed certain spots upon his

"Did he hit ye?" inquired Thomas, good-humoredly.

"Yes, he did," muttered Halse. "The old long-legged loafer! I wish he
had all burnt up!"

"Did you put the crackers in his pocket?" asked Catherine, laughing.

"No, I didn't," replied Halse. "But I know who did," he added, with a
knowing nod. "And I know who lit the match, too."

"You seem to know quite a good deal about it," commented Catherine.

"He needn't have stoned me!" cried Halse. "He had no proof against me.
But I'll pay him out."

"I guess you had better let Enoch alone," said Addison.

Meantime the sun had come out very hot; it was already five o'clock.
Kate persuaded Thomas to carry her to visit an acquaintance of theirs,
living somewhere on the outskirts of the village. We lingered about for
a time, then some one of the crowd of boys proposed going up to the
outlet of the lake, above the dam, to go in swimming. The heat rendered
this proposal agreeable; and as many as fifty set off together, some
intending to go into the water, others to sit in the shade and watch the
swimmers. Enoch, minus his duster, with a number of his friends, was in
the party, observing which Alfred and Halse kept at a respectful
distance in the rear. Ned Wilbur and Willis and Ben Murch went along
with Addison and me.

The distance up to the "swimming hole" was near half a mile; there was a
pretty bit of white, sandy shore, shelving off from shoal into deep
water. In a few minutes, twenty or thirty were splashing, wading and
swimming out, some boldly, as good swimmers will, others timidly, or
feigning to swim and taking good care not to get into water over their

And all along shore the grass was dotted with small heaps, capped with
white, representing each bather's temporarily discarded wearing apparel,
beside which were set his holiday shoes or boots.

It is the common, unwritten code among boys on such occasions, that
while in the water, each swimmer's clothes are to be held sacred from
molestation, even by his sworn enemies; at least, that was the "law," as
the writer understood it, in the year 1866. To meddle with another
boy's clothes while he was in the water was deemed an outlaw act.

Alfred and Halse, however, who had approached in the rear, and observed
Enoch's wardrobe lying unguarded on the shore, determined to redress
their grievances by making a descent upon it, while he was in the pond.
Ned and I, who were sitting under a large maple a little back from the
stream, saw them peering about the heaps of clothes, like a couple of
crows plotting larceny from a robin's nest. We had little idea what they
were about to do, however, for they walked away, and it was not till ten
minutes afterwards that we saw them again, this time with Alfred's horse
and wagon, up in the road, a hundred yards or more from the water.

"Why, Alf's going home!" Ned exclaimed. "I came down with him and I must
go back with him, unless I walk." "Don't go yet," I said. "You can ride
back with us. We are going to stay till evening."

"All right, I will," replied Ned. "I don't like to go with Alf very
well; he is always 'sassing' folks on the road.

"But they have stopped up there," Ned added. "Alf's got out and is
coming down here. Perhaps it's to call me to go home. He is picking up
stones. What suppose he is going to do?"

We watched him curiously. Halse sat in the wagon, holding the reins, but
Alf was stealing down to the shore, and he seemed to have a stone as
large as one's fist in each hand.

"You don't suppose he is going to stone Enoch and run?" queried Ned, in
some excitement. "There'll be high jinks, if he does."

I thought that was the intention, and called out in a low tone to
Addison, who was coming out of the water, a few rods off, to come to us.
But before he had more than heard me, Alfred slipped down past an alder
clump, to the spot where Enoch's clothes lay, and quickly tucking a
stone into each of his boots, threw them off into deep water, then
snatching up his pile of clothes, ran for the wagon.

They had the trick adroitly planned out, and he was not half a minute
executing it. Before an outcry was more than raised and the alarm wafted
out to Enoch, or his friends, Alfred and our Halstead were rattling off
up the road at a great rate.

But when the fact really dawned upon the crowd of boys, there was a roar
of indignant exclamations, and only a very few laughed this time. "After
them!" was the first shout. "Catch them!"--and some said, "Drown 'em!"

Not many were in a condition to make pursuit, however. The perpetrators
of the outrage easily escaped; they were a mile off, indeed, before the
most of the swimmers were dressed.

Poor Enoch was now in bad straits. He and three or four others began
diving for his boots, but failed to bring them up.

Addison was much disturbed. He gave Enoch his undershirt, and another
boy endowed him with a pair of drawers. With these donations, they got
him out of the bushes, and forming a close circle round him, escorted
him barefoot and bareheaded to one of the village stores, where he was
rigged up--on credit--so that he could go home. There was a great deal
of joking, yet the prevalent feeling was one of indignation; and if the
two tricksters had been caught that afternoon, they would have fared
badly, and probably taken a ride on a rail. Altogether, it had been a
bad day for Enoch; but for popular sympathy, he would not only have lost
his "duster," but been obliged to scud home under bare poles.

At sunset we bought crackers and cheese for our supper. Ned and the two
Murch boys were now of our party, but Thomas and Catherine had gone
home. We were but slightly repaid for waiting till evening, however;
only six rockets, five Roman candles and two "pin-wheels" were burned in
the way of fireworks. It was very soon over, although we had been
obliged to wait until a quarter to nine for the exhibition to begin.
Boy-like, however, we would not have missed it for a great deal.

Then came the long ride homeward in the dark, for the night proved
cloudy; but the events of the day furnished us a great deal to talk of,
as old Sol plodded onward,--and there was more to follow.

We had gone about half way home, and were passing a partly wooded tract
on the upper or west side of the highway, when Willis suddenly said,
"What's that thing, hanging down from that tree over the road?"

"I don't see anything," replied Addison.

"I tell you there is!" muttered Willis, excitedly. "Hold on, Ad. Stop."

Addison pulled up.

"Yes, there is something there," Ned said.

I was sure, too, that I could see something different from the branches
and leaves of the tree; there was a reflection as from white cloth, or
human skin.

"It looks like a man hanging there," whispered Willis.

"Gracious! You don't suppose it is a man, hung, do ye?" Ned whispered.

The idea startled us.

"Pshaw!" said Addison. "I don't believe it is any such thing. May be
something some one has lost in the road, and somebody else has found it
and hung it up there, where it will be seen."

"Perhaps," said Willis, doubtfully.

"I'm going to drive along, anyway," continued Addison.

"No, don't. Hold on, Ad. Don't," whispered Ned, for the thing did have a
curious appearance.

Addison persisted and slapped old Sol gently with the reins. The rest
of us cringed down as low as we could, for we did not like the looks of
the object, or the thought of passing close under it. But just as we had
got under it, Addison said, "Whoa," and old Sol stopped short.

"Drive on, Ad, drive on," whispered Ned, nervously.

"No," said Addison. "I'm going to see what that is. Take the reins," and
he gave them to me. "I can reach it by standing upon the seat."

Addison raised himself slowly, and finding that he could reach the
object, began to feel it with his hand.

"Great Scott!" he exclaimed suddenly. "'Tis a man's stocking, _on his

"Ah-h-h!" quavered Ned. "Let's get from under!" He grabbed spasmodically
at the reins and gave a shake. Old Sol took a step, and Addison tumbled
partly over Willis and Ben, who both gave a howl of nervous

"Quit that!" cried Addison, angrily, to me. "Stop, I tell you. You hold
that horse."

I pulled old Sol up short and he backed a little, at which Ned jumped
out and ran on a few steps; Willis and Ben also slipped out behind.

"Hold still," said Addison to me. "Don't let the horse start and pitch
me out."

With that he stood up again and began feeling the object. "'Tis a man's
trouser leg, sure--and stocking--but there's something odd inside. Who's
got a match?"

Ben had a few matches, with which he had been touching off firecrackers
earlier in the day, and ventured up to the back of the wagon. Addison
stood up again and struck one, while the rest of us stared as the match
burned slowly.

"It is a stuffed man," cried Addison; "a scarecrow, I guess, stuffed
with grass. But where have I seen those checkered pants before,
to-day?--and, boys, here is a paper, pinned on to them higher up. Back
the horse a little."

I backed a step, and Addison, striking another match, read aloud on the
piece of paper, "THIS IS ENOCH."

"Oho!" cried Ned. "Alf and Halse did that!"

"Yes, these are Enoch's clothes, sure," said Addison. "There's his hat
on a big pine knot for a head, with his pocket handkerchief tied round
it for a face, and great daubs of wheel grease for mouth, eyes and

"Well, that's a queer sort of joke!" remarked Willis.

"I'm glad they didn't carry Enoch's clothes clean home with them," said

"I was afraid they had," Addison remarked; "and I was thinking whether
or not he could make it out as stealing, against them."

"Had we better take them down and send them back to him?" I asked.

"No, sir-ee," said Addison. "We will not meddle with them. Enoch may
send the sheriff up here by morning. It would be a pretty go if the
clothes were found in our possession. Let them hang right where they
are, I say, and let's be going, too, before any one comes along and
catches us here!"

We drove on accordingly, and reached home without further adventures.
The house was dark; all had retired, except Theodora, who was sitting at
her window looking out for us. She came down stairs quietly, lighted a
lamp and had set on a lunch for us by the time we came in from the
wagon-house. They had gathered three quarts of field strawberries that
afternoon and had saved a quart for us. They were the first strawberries
of the season. How good they did taste, hungry as we were that night,
along with some big slices of Gram's new "mug bread" and butter, and a
plentiful swig of lemonade, a pitcherful of which Theodora had also set
aside for us.

"Doad!" cried Addison, giving her a pat on the shoulder. "You are the
boss girl of this county!"

"Oh, I wanted to hear all the Fourth o' July news," said Theodora. "Now
tell me. But don't talk so loud, or you will wake Gramp and Gram."

"The news, well, jingo, I don't know whether we ought to tell it all, or
not; what think?" said Addison to me, doubtfully.

"Has Halse got home?" I asked.

"Yes, he came just before supper. He said he rode up _with a fellow_ as
far as the forks of the road," replied Theodora.

"Did he say why he left us and came home so early?" asked Addison.

"Yes; he said there was nothing going on, and he had got tired of
loafing around."

Addison laughed; so did I.

"But I knew there was something behind it all," Theodora continued. "Now
what was it?"

"Nothing--much," replied Addison, evasively.

"Oh, but there was," exclaimed Theodora. "Tell me."

"Nothing but the usual 'circus,' when Halse goes out anywhere," replied
Addison wearily, yet still laughing a little.

"But tell me what it was," Theodora urged.

With a certain reluctance which boys always feel, to divulge
circumstances that pertain mainly to boys and boys' affairs, we related
to her the salient events of the afternoon, for it would have been a bad
return for her kindness to us to have refused altogether, and we felt,
too, that her motive was something more than mere curiosity.

Theodora was a fun-loving girl by nature; she laughed over the
snap-cracker episodes, and laughed, indeed, at the Elm House roof
exploit, and even could not help laughing at Alfred and Halse's final
trick with Enoch's clothes.

"But that _was_ mean," she kept saying. "What do you suppose he will do?
Will he have them arrested?"

"No, I guess not," replied Addison. "I think it will pass as a joke.
Enoch will probably get his clothes back, in a day or two, if not his

"But he declared he would give Alf and Halse an awful licking the first
time he meets them out anywheres," I said.

"Well, I shouldn't much blame him, I do say, if he did," observed
Theodora, laughing again.

"I would if I were he," said Addison. "You see, they begun on Enoch in
the first place."

Just then we heard a little creaking noise in the chamber stairway.

"Sh," whispered Theodora. "I believe Halse is there, on the stairs,

"Well, listeners rarely hear much good of themselves," said Addison,
loudly enough for him to hear it. We heard still another little creaking
noise, this time higher up the stairs, as if he were tiptoeing back to
his room.

"I am sorry if he overheard us," Theodora remarked in a low tone, as we
got up to go to our rooms.

"I don't care," said Addison. "What could he expect any one to say of a
mean thing like that?"

When I entered our room, Halse was in bed, and pretended to snore.

"Oh, that's too thin, Halse," said I. "We heard you on the stairs."

"You are a couple of tell-tales!" he exclaimed, hotly. "To come home and
chatter out everything that happened, to the girls!"

There was some little force in the reproach, and I did not at once reply
to it. "Tell-tale, tell-tale!" he kept calling out, tauntingly, as I
was undressing.

"You just wait till Enoch gets hold of you!" I remarked, beginning to
grow irritated.

"I'm not afraid of any of your Enochs!" cried Halse.

"What were you on the top of the Elm House for, then?" I asked,
sarcastically. "I wouldn't like to be in your shoes the next time Enoch
gets his eye on you."

"If he touches me, I'll fix him!" cried Halstead, wrathfully. "And I'll
slap you, too, if you don't keep still," he added, giving me a kick
under the bedspread, which I did not quite dare to resent, and so turned
over to the wall and fell asleep.

Thus ended our first Fourth of July at the farm.

I must add a word here relative to Enoch's clothes, however. The effigy
hung there over the road for two days; but word had been sent to Enoch,
who lived in another town, and on the third day he made his appearance
for the purpose of reclaiming his garments; but meantime, either that
morning or the previous evening, the effigy was stolen, or at least
captured and carried off. The latter offense was finally traced to a
passing tin-peddler, who, when accused of it, declared that he had found
the image lying in the road, and deemed the clothes old togs, fit only
for paper rags and not worth advertising; he had therefore put them in
his cart and driven on. He was subsequently shown to have sold the suit,
not as paper rags; and when threatened with legal proceedings, he
settled the matter on Enoch's own terms.

On the first day of the "Cattle Show," or County Fair, that fall, Enoch
fell in with Alfred Batchelder, in the rear of the cattle sheds, and, to
make use of a phrase common among fighting characters, "wiped up the
ground with him"--not over clean ground, either--for a space of several
minutes. Our Halstead steered clear of him, however, and so far as I
know, never received his just deserts for his share in the
transaction,--which may, perhaps, be said to lie in the line of a remark
which Elder Witham was fond of making in his quaint sermon against the
Universalists. "Justice," quoth the Elder, "certainly does not get done
in this brief, imperfect life of ours. Many of the worst wrongs men do
us go unredressed in spite of our best efforts to square accounts with

I recollect, also, that as we had unharnessed old Sol in the wagon-house
that night and led him out, we noticed a great light in the sky, away to
the southward. It shone up high in the heavens, but was pale, as if a
long distance off. I asked Addison what he thought it could be, and he
said there must be a great fire somewhere in that direction. We thought
no more about it at the time; but toward evening next day a rumor
reached us, afterwards confirmed, that a great part of the city of
Portland had burned, entailing a loss of nearly or quite twenty millions
of dollars.

But along with all these distracting incidents of the Fourth of July,
there was a bit of seriousness and worry that lingered in a back nook of
my mind, connected with that funeral which the Old Squire and I had
attended. I felt that there was something, some question concerning it,
which I must solve, or settle, before I could feel right again. I had
never seen a person lying dead before; I tried not to think about it and
in part succeeded, when there were a good many other things going on,
yet all the time I knew that it was there in my mind and must be thought
about before long. When I was very tired and first shut my eyes, on
lying down at night, I would see that man in his coffin so plainly that
I would fairly jump in bed, and then have to turn over several times
and begin talking with Halstead, somewhat to his annoyance, for without
quite understanding it, I suppose, he yet perceived that it was not a
genuine conversational effort.

During the days following the Fourth, this impression of death which had
entered my mind began to assume more definite limits, and grew pertinent
to my own status. I had heard that the average age of man was
thirty-three years, and granting that I should reach that age, I could
expect to live a little over twenty years more. That was a long time, to
be sure, twenty years; but it would pass, and at the end of it I should
have to die and look as that man looked, and be buried in the ground.
The thought of it caused me to gasp suddenly, and filled me with a sense
of terror and despair so awful that I could scarcely restrain myself
from crying out. Most young people, I conjecture, pass through a similar
mental experience, when the drear fact of death is first realized.

It continued to weigh heavily on my mind; and by way of relief from it,
I followed Theodora out into the garden the next Sunday evening, and
after quite an effort, opened the subject with her. There was no one
else with whom I could have summoned resolution to broach that topic.

"Did you ever see anybody after they were dead?" I asked her.

She did not seem very much surprised at the question, since it was
Sabbath eve. "Do you mean their body?" she inquired.

"Yes, their body," I replied.

"I have seen three," she said, at length.

"Didn't it make you feel strange?" I asked. "It did me. It is an awful
thing to die and be put down into the ground, with all that earth on

"Oh, but they don't know it," said Theodora. "It is only their dead
bodies; their spirits are far away."

"Yes," I said, "but I cannot help thinking of their bodies, and that it
is them still, only they cannot wake up and speak."

"Oh, no, their spirits are far away," replied my gentle cousin,

"But that man, the one whose funeral Gramp and I went to, he died
intoxicated. Where do you honestly think he is now?" I asked her.

"It's a dreadful thing to think of," replied Theodora, solemnly. "You
know the Bible says, no drunkard can go to heaven."

"Then he will be burned forever and ever and ever, won't he?" I said.

"I suppose he will," she said, and taking out her handkerchief, she
wiped her eyes sadly.

"Do you think it will be real fire and that it will smart just as it
does when we burn our fingers?" I asked her.

"Maybe worse," Theodora replied, again wiping her eyes. "But sometimes I
cannot believe that it will be all the time, night and day, year after
year. Maybe it is wicked to hope it will not be, but I do want to think
that _they would stop sometimes_. Universalists teach that nobody will
be punished at all after they die; but Gram thinks they are not real
Christians. Our folks all believe that the wicked will be punished
forever, and the Bible does say so, I suppose. Grandmother says that all
the great Bible scholars agree that the wicked will be punished."

"What does Ad think?" I asked, at length.

"I don't know. I'm afraid that he doesn't think at all," replied
Theodora. "The thing I do not like in Cousin Addison is that he will
never take a serious view of these important questions. The time he had
the measles, he was very sick one day, and I said that I hoped that his
mind was at peace. He looked at me as if he were a little frightened at
first, for I suppose he thought that I thought that he was going to die,
for I did begin in a sort of clumsy way. His head was swelled nearly as
big again as it ought to have been, and he looked very queer about the
eyes. 'O Doad!' he exclaimed, 'please do talk of things that you know
something about.' But of course he felt peevish, being so sick."

"I suppose he did," said I. "But isn't it awful that everybody's got to
die--and no getting away from it?"

"Yes, it does make any one feel dreadfully sad," Theodora assented. "But
the good will be better off."

I did not gain much comfort from the conversation, however, and for
years thereafter the thought of death filled me with the same choking
sense of terror.



Creameries with ice-chests were as yet unheard of in the rural counties
of Maine in 1866. At the old farm, all of the dairy milk was set in pans
on the clean, cool cellar bottom. As the warm mornings of midsummer drew
on, Gram was usually up by five o'clock, attending to her cream and
butter; and about this time, as we issued drowsily forth, in response to
the Old Squire's early rap, we were repeatedly startled at hearing a
sudden eldritch exclamation which was half scream, at the foot of the
bulkhead stairs.

"What's the matter down there, Ruth?" the Old Squire would exclaim.

"Dear me, I've stepped on that hateful toad again!" Gram would reply.
"It's always under foot there! Do, Ellen, you get the tongs and carry
that toad off again. Carry him away out to the foot of the garden, below
the currant bushes. I don't see how he is forever getting back to the
foot of those stairs! It gives me such a start, to put my foot on him!"

And Gram would have to sit down for a time, to fan herself and to
recover her composure.

"Well, Ruth, I should think it would give the toad a start, too," the
Old Squire would comment, dryly.

Meantime Ellen or Addison would proceed to capture the toad--a fine, big
brown chunk of a toad--and exile him to the garden. Once Ellen carried
him, wriggling in the tongs, around to the back side of the west barn.
Ad, too, carried him out into the orchard one night. But by the next
day, or the day following, toady would be back at the foot of the
bulkhead stairs again. There is no doubt that it was the same toad, and
he certainly must have possessed a good sense of locality. We could not
for some time imagine how he obtained entrance to the cellar, for he
returned to his favorite cool spot on days when the outer bulkhead door
was closed. Addison at length decided that he must have got in by way of
the cellar drain, on the back side of the house.

It was contrary to all the homely traditions at the farm to kill or
maltreat a toad. Not less than seven times was that toad carefully
carried away into the garden, or down the lane.

At last Gram's patience was exhausted. Her ire rose. "I'll see if you
come back into my cellar again, old fellow," she exclaimed, before
breakfast one morning after the recusant batrachian had been transported
the night before. This time the old lady seized the tongs herself, and
marched out into the yard, holding toady with no gentle pinch on his
rotund body.

"Ellen, you bring me a quart of that brine out of the beef barrel," she
called back to the kitchen.

Then having put the toad down in the cart road leading out into the
fields, she dashed him with brine, and as he hopped away pursued him
with further douches.

It is not likely that the brine injured the reptile very much, but for
some reason it never came back.

For a long time thereafter the Old Squire was accustomed to touch up
Gram's conscience now and then, by making sly allusion to her
hard-heartedness and cruelty in "pickling toads." The Old Squire, too,
had his bucolic enemies as well as Gram.

Wheet-wh-wh-wh-wh-wheedle! was a note we now began to hear daily about
the stone walls and in the fields of new clover.

"Oh, those wood-chucks!" the old gentleman would exclaim. "They are
making shocking work over in that new piece. Boys, I'll give you five
cents a head for every wood-chuck you will kill off."

Amidst the now rapidly blossoming red clover we could see the fresh
earth of numbers of their burrows, and almost every day a new one would
be espied beside a rock or stone heap. June is the happy month for
wood-chucks, in New England; they riot in the farmer's clover, and
tunnel the soft hillsides with their holes. June is the month, too, when
mother wood-chuck is leading out her four or five chubby little chucks,
teaching them the fear of dogs and man, which constitutes the wisdom of
a wood-chuck's life, and giving them their first lesson in that shrill,
yet guttural note peculiar to wood-chuckdom, which country boys call

It is remarkable how many wood-chucks will not only get a living, but
wax fat on an old farm where the farmer himself has difficulty in making
year's ends meet. Addison estimated that at one time there were seventy
wood-chucks on the Old Squire's homestead, all prosperous and laying by
something, metaphorically speaking, for a rainy day.

Despite all the evil that is said of the wood-chuck, too, he does in
reality a much smaller amount of damage to man than one would imagine
from the outcry against him. Occasionally, it is true, a chuck will
begin nibbling at early pease, or beans, and do real, measurable harm,
but the injury which he inflicts on the farmer in the hay-fields is
generally much exaggerated. In the "south field" that year, there were
two acres of red clover, where not less than seven or eight wood-chucks
dug new holes and threw out mounds of yellow earth, which in some places
crushed down the crop. Then, too, in feeding and running about, they
trampled on plats of the thick clover, particularly where it had
"lodged" from its own rank growth. There were, in all, five or six
square rods of the grass which it was not deemed worth while to attempt
to mow at all, and the loss of which was due in part, but not wholly, to
the wood-chucks. The hired men scolded about it, and Gramp himself, who
had a farmer's natural aversion to wood-chucks, fretted over it. We
boys, too, magnified the damage and discussed ingenious plans for
exterminating them. But after all, I do not believe that we really got
two hundred weight of hay less in the field, in consequence of
wood-chucks; and certainly the clover as it stood was not worth sixty
cents a hundred. A dollar and twenty cents would probably have made good
the entire loss; and I suspect that one-half of the damage from
trampling on the clover was done by us boys, in pursuit of the chucks,
rather than by the chucks themselves. At least, I still remember running
through the grass in a very reckless manner on several occasions.

I am keenly aware that to write anything in defense of the wood-chuck
will prove unpopular with farmers and farmers' boys. Still, I venture to
ask whether we are not, perhaps, a little too much inclined to deem the
earth and everything that grows out of it our own particular property.
The wood-chuck is undoubtedly an older resident on this continent than
men, certainly a far older resident than white men, who came here less
than three hundred years ago. Moreover, he is a quiet, inoffensive
resident, never becomes a pauper, never gets intoxicated, nor creates
any disturbance, minds his own business, and only "whistles" when
astonished or suddenly attacked by man and his dogs. May it not be
possible that he is honestly entitled to a few stalks of clover which
grow in the country which he and his ancestors had inhabited for
centuries before white men knew there was any such place as America?

The writer now owns a farm in Maine, or at least holds a deed of it,
given him, for a consideration, by another man who in turn had bought it
of a previous incumbent who had seized it from the Indians, wood-chucks,
hares, foxes and other original proprietors, without, as I hear, making
them any return whatever; who, in fact, ejected them without ceremony.
For some years whenever the wood-chucks ate anything that grew on the
land, particularly if it were anything which I had sown or planted, I
attacked them with guns, traps and dogs and killed them when I could.

But one day it occurred to me that perhaps my deed did not fairly
authorize me to behave in just that way towards them, and that I was
playing the rôle of a small, but very cruel, self-conceited tyrant over
a conquered species whose blood cried out against me from the ground. I
ceased my persecutions and massacres. Twenty or thirty wood-chucks now
live on the premises with me, unmolested, for the most part. They take
about what they want and dig a hole whenever they want a new one. They
are really very peaceable neighbors, and it is rarely that we have a
difference of opinion in the matter of garden truck,--for I still draw
the line at early pease and beans in the garden.

It is, indeed, quite surprising how little they take, or destroy. I do
not believe that in all that time they have done me damages which any
two fair-minded referees would allow me five dollars for. I am sure I
spent more than that for ammunition, to say nothing of time, traps,
dog-food, etc., during the year or two that I was playing the despot and
trying to exterminate them. Now that I have rid my mind of the barbarous
propensity to kill them, I really enjoy seeing them sitting up by their
holes, or peeping at me over the heads of clover.

But a boy naturally likes to use his trap and his gun, especially on any
animal, or bird, which his seniors represent to him as an outlaw. When
the Old Squire set a bounty of five cents upon wood-chuck scalps, the
desire to go on the war-path against the proscribed rodents at once took
possession of us. A number of rusty fox-traps and mink-traps were
brought forth from the wagon-house chamber, to be set at the entrances
of the wood-chucks' holes. We covered the trenchers of the traps
carefully over with loose dirt and attached the chain to stakes, driven
into the ground a little to one side of the hole. In this way five
chucks were trapped in the south field during the week.

Halstead and I were in partnership trapping them, but Addison preferred
to rely on the gun. It is next to impossible to kill a wood-chuck with
shot so quickly that he will not, after being hit, succeed in running
into his hole, and thus defeat the evidence that he is a dead
wood-chuck. Addison, however, hit upon a stratagem for shooting them at
short range. He could imitate their peculiar "whistle" quite cleverly,
and having observed that when one wood-chuck whistles, all the others
within hearing are apt to exhibit some little curiosity as to what is
going on, he turned the circumstance to account. Going cautiously to a
burrow, he would crouch down, and placing the muzzle of the gun so as to
shoot into the hole, "whistle," as if some neighboring chuck had come
along to prospect the premises. In almost every instance, when there was
a chuck in the hole, it would immediately come up in sight, probably to
greet, or repel its visitor. The instant it appeared, Addison would fire
and nearly always kill the animal; for although often he could not
secure it, he would carefully close up the hole with stones and earth,
and if, after three days, the chuck did not dig out past the
obstruction, he laid claim to the bounty. A roster, which he kept in
notches on the garden gate, showed that he had shot fourteen

I remember that Theodora had something to say several times about our
cruelty to the poor creatures; but we justified it on account of the
damage which the wood-chucks were alleged to do to the grain, grass and

"Oh, Doad would let the wood-chucks eat up everything we plant!" Halse
would say, sarcastically. "'Let them have it,' she would say. 'Don't
hurt the poor little things!' That's just like girls. They don't have to
plant and hoe, so they are very merciful and tender-hearted. But if they
had to plough and work and plant and sow and hoe in the hot sun all day,
to raise a crop, they'd sing a different tune when the plaguey
wood-chucks came around and ate it up!"

We thought Addison's stratagem a very bright one. That he could
"whistle" the chuck out of his hole, and fetch him up to the very muzzle
of the gun, was considered remarkably clever. But an incident which
occurred a few days later rendered it forever unpopular.

Catherine Edwards had come over to go raspberrying, and Theodora, Ellen
and Wealthy set off with her after school for the south field. They had
to go around the clover piece, and as they passed it, Kate espied a
wood-chuck, which, when it heard them, instead of disappearing in its
burrow hard by, ran around in so peculiar a manner that they all stopped
to watch it.

"It's crazy," cried Catherine; and at first they were afraid the animal
would attack them; it ran to and fro in what seemed an aimless sort of
manner. At length, they concluded that it had lost its hole and was
trying to find it. They saw that its head was bare of hair in front, and
presently decided that the poor creature was blind, for its eyes
appeared to be gone, or covered over with an incrustation.

The explanation of its singular appearance and behavior then suddenly
occurred to Ellen. "I know!" she cried. "It's one of those wood-chucks
that Ad has shot in the face and eyes, as they peep out of their holes
when he 'whistles' to them!"

"Oh, the poor, abused thing!" exclaimed Catherine. "I never heard of
anything so hatefully cruel!"

The wood-chuck, although so dreadfully wounded and with its eyes
destroyed by the powder, had yet, after several days, mustered
sufficient strength to come out and feed. But it was totally blind, and
once having lost its course, could not find the way back to its burrow,
but dashed about in terror amidst the clover. Finally it took refuge
beneath some of the lodged grass beside a stone; and meantime those
sympathetic girls held an indignation meeting. Their pity for the poor
creature knew no bounds, and Ellen was despatched to call us boys to the
spot, that the full enormity of our act might be exhibited before our

We were just finishing hoeing the corn, the second time, that afternoon,
and had only a few rows more. With an air of one who has a mission and a
duty to perform, Ellen approached where we were at work and said, "We
want you to come down to the south field this minute!"

"What for?" asked Addison.

"A good reason," replied Ellen, with an accent of suppressed scorn.
"Kate and Doad sent me."

"What is it?" persisted Addison.

"Some of your fine works," said Ellen. "And you just come straight along
and see it."

"We won't go unless you tell," replied Halse.

"Oh, you won't!" exclaimed Ellen severely. "Great wood-chuck hunters you
are!" At the word _wood-chuck_ we began to feel interested, and at
length so far obeyed Ellen's iterated summons as to follow after her to
the south field.

"Well, what's wanted?" demanded Addison, addressing himself to Theodora,
as we drew near.

"I want you to see just what a cruel boy you are!" she replied. "There's
one of the wood-chucks that you pretend to shoot so cutely. Go look at
him, right under the clover there by that stone. Look at his poor little
eyes all burned out, you cruel fellow!"

Not a little dumbfounded by this blast of indignation, thus suddenly let
loose upon us, we drew near and examined the crouching chuck. It was
really a rueful spectacle,--the disabled and trembling creature trying
in vain to see where its enemies were gathered about it.

"I didn't think you were such a cruel boy!" exclaimed Catherine,
sarcastically. "Alf Batchelder might do such a thing. He is hateful
enough always. But I didn't think it of you."

"Well, I shot at him," exclaimed Addison. "I thought I had killed him,
you know."

"Oh yes, you did think, did you!" cried Catherine. "How would you like
to have some one come along to your door or your chamber window, and
speak to you to come out; and then when you stepped to the door to see
what was wanted, to have them fire powder in your face and burn your
eyes out! How would you like that?"

"I don't think I would like it," replied Addison, laughing.

"Now I wouldn't laugh," said Theodora, whose feelings, indeed, had been
wrought upon to the point of tears as she watched the blinded creature.
"You ought not to have such a hard heart. I didn't think you had, once,"
she added reproachfully.

"Oh, he is just like all the rest of the boys," exclaimed Kate. "No, he
isn't," said Theodora, wiping her eyes.

"They are all alike," persisted Kate. "Always killing and torturing

"And all the girls are little saints," mimicked Halse.

"Oh, I'm not speaking to you!" cried Kate. "You're the Alf Batchelder
sort. But I'm ashamed of Addison, to treat any creature in that way!"

In short, those girls read us a dreadful lecture; they berated us hot
and heavy. If we attempted to reply and defend ourselves, they only
lashed us the harder.

"Well, well," said Addison at length, picking up a club. "I'll put the
creature out of its misery, so that at least it will not be caught and
worried by dogs."

"You sha'n't! You sha'n't kill the poor thing!" cried Ellen; and then
finding that Addison was about to do so, they all turned and ran away,
without looking back.

Halstead was inclined to make light of the matter, and ridiculed the
girls, but Addison did not say much about it. I think he felt
conscience-smitten, and I never knew him to attempt to shoot a
wood-chuck in that way afterwards.



It was the custom at the Old Squire's to begin "haying" on Monday after
the Fourth of July. What hot and sweaty memories are linked with that
word, _haying!_

But haying in and of itself is a clean and pleasant kind of farm work,
if only the farmers would not rush it so relentlessly. As soon as haying
begins, a demon of haste to finish in a given number of days seems, or
once seemed, to take possession of the American farmer. Thunder showers
goad him on; the fact that he has to pay two or even three dollars per
day for his hired help stimulates him to even greater exertions; and the
net result is, that haying time every year is a fiery ordeal from which
the husbandman and his boys emerge sunburnt, brown as bacon scraps and
lean as the camels of Sahara, often with blood perniciously altered from
excessive perspiration and too copious water drinking. An erroneous idea
has prevailed that "sweating" is good for a man. Sometimes it is good,
in case of colds or fevers. While unduly exerting himself beneath a
scorching sun, the farmer would no doubt perish if he did not perspire.
None the less, such copious sudation is an evil that wastefully saps
vitality. Few farmers go through twenty haying seasons without
practically breaking down.

The hired man, too, has come to know that haying is the hardest work of
the year and demands nearly double the wages that he expected to receive
for hoeing potatoes--far more disagreeable work--the week before.

As a result of many inquiries, I learn that farmers' boys dread haying
most of all farm work, chiefly on account of the long hours, the hurry
beneath the fervid July sun, and the heat of the close lofts and mows
where they have to stow away the hay. How many a lad, half-suffocated by
hay in these same hot mows and lofts, has made the resolve then and
there never to be a farmer--and kept it!

Is it not a serious mistake to harvest the hay crop on the
hurry-and-rush principle? Why not take a little more time for it? It is
better to let a load of hay get wet than drive one's self and one's
helpers to the brink of sunstroke. It is better to begin a week earlier
than try to do two weeks' work in one. A day's work in haying should and
can be so planned as to give two hours' nooning in the hottest part of
the day.

Gramp was an old-fashioned farmer, but he had seen the folly of undue
haste exemplified too many times not to have changed his earlier methods
of work considerably; so much so, that he now enjoyed the reputation of
being an "easy man to work for." For several years he had employed the
same help.

On this bright Monday morning of July, the hay-fields smiled, luxuriant,
blooming with clover, herdsgrass, buttercup, daisy and timothy. There
was the house field, the west field, the south field, the middle field
and the east field, besides the young orchard, the old orchard, the Aunt
Hannah lot and the Aunt Hannah meadow, which was left till the last,
sixty-five acres or more, altogether. What an expanse it looked to me!
It was my first experience, but Addison and Halse had forewarned me that
we would have it hot in haying. I had already grown a little inured to
the sun during June, however; and in point of fact, I never afterwards
suffered so much from the sun rays as during those first attempts to
hoe corn at the old farm in June.

One of the hired men was no less a personage than Elder Witham, who
preached at the Chapel every second week, and who, like the great
apostle of the Gentiles, was not above working with his hands, to piece
out his small salary. He came Sunday evening, and I did not suppose that
he had come to work with us till the next morning, when, after prayers,
he quietly fetched his scythe and snath down from the wagon-house
chamber, and called on Halstead to turn the grindstone for him. I then
learned that he had worked at haying for us three summers. The Elder was
fifty years old or more, and, though well-tanned, had yet a
semi-clerical appearance. He was austere in religious matters, and the
hired men were very careful what they said before him.

The other two men, who came after breakfast, were brothers, named James
and Asa Doane, or Jim and Ase, as they were familiarly addressed.

I was reckoned too young to mow with a scythe, though Halse and Addison
mowed for an hour or two in the forenoon. I had plenty to do, however,
raking, spreading, and stowing the hay in the barn.

In haying time we boys were called at half-past four o'clock every
morning, with the hired men. It was our business to milk and do the barn
chores before breakfast. Often, too, there would be a load of hay, drawn
in the previous evening, to stow away, in addition to the chores.

Mowing machines and horse-rakes had not then come into general use. All
the mowing was done with scythes, and the raking with hand rakes and
"loafer" rakes. Generally, all hands would be busy for three hours every
bright afternoon, raking the grass which had been cut down in the
forenoon. The Old Squire and the Elder commonly raked side by side, and
often fell into argument on the subject of man's free moral agency, on
which they held somewhat diverse views. Upon the second afternoon, Asa
Doane maneuvered to get them both into a yellow-backed bumble-bees'
nest, which was under an old stump in the hay.

The Elder was just saying, "I tell you, Squire, man was designed for--"
when a yellow-back stung him on his neck, and he finished his sentence
with a rather funny exclamation! Another insect punched Gramp at almost
the same moment, and they had a lively time of it, brandishing their
rakes, and throwing the hay about. The others raked on, laughing
inwardly without seeming to notice their trouble.

But that night after supper, while we were grinding scythes, the Elder
called Gramp out behind the barn, and I overheard him very gravely ask,
in an undertone, "Squire, when we were amongst those bumble-bees, this
afternoon, I hope I didn't say anything unbecoming a minister. I was a
reckless young man once, Squire; and even now, when anything comes
acrost me sudden, like those bumble-bees, the old words are a-dancing at
my tongue's end before I know they are there.

"Because, if I did make a mistake," he continued, "I want to make public
confession of it before these young men."

But the Squire had been too busy with his own bumble-bees to remember.
So the matter passed, by default of evidence; but the Elder felt uneasy
about it, and watched our faces pretty sharply for a day or two.

The heat troubled me not a little, and I then knew no better than to
drink inordinately of cold water. I would drink every five minutes when
I could get where there was water, even after the Old Squire had pointed
out to me the ill effects that follow such indulgence. But it seemed to
me that I must drink, and the more I drank the more I wanted, till by
Friday of that first week I was taken ill. Sharp pain is a severe yet
often useful teacher. I was obliged to desist from frequent potations,
and Gram gave me some bits of snake-root to hold in my mouth and chew.

Both the Doanes were great jokers. There was something in the way of fun
going on, nearly all the time; either there was racing, while mowing, or
raking the heels of the boys ahead of them. They were brimming over with
hay-makers' tricks, and I well remember what a prank they played on me
during the second week.

It befell while we were getting the south field, which was mostly in
clover that summer. We drew in the hay with both oxen and horses. When
the former were employed, they were yoked to a "rack," set midway on the
axle of two large wheels. The rack would carry a ton or more of hay.
During the first week, they had several times set me to tread down the
hay in the rack, but I made a very bad job of loading it; for I did not
know how to "lay the corners" of the load.

At length one afternoon, the Old Squire, observing my faults, climbed on
the cart, and taking the fork, showed me patiently how to begin at
first, and how to lay the hay out at the sides and ends of the rack,
keeping the ends higher than the middle all the way up. He made it so
plain to me that I took a liking to that part of the work. I could not
of course handle the hay as well as a man, but I contrived to stow it
quite well, for I had grasped the principle of loading and managed to
lay a fairly presentable load. As a result I grew a little
over-confident, and was inclined to boast of my skill and make somewhat
rash statements as to the size of loads which I could lay. The others
probably saw that I needed discipline. I must have been dull, or I
should have been on my guard for set-backs from Halse, Addison, or the
mischievous Doanes. When a boy's head begins to grow large and his
self-conceit to sprout, he is sometimes singularly blind to

But to proceed, we had thirty-one "tumbles" of dry clover to get in
after supper that day, from the south field. The Elder and the Old
Squire did not go out with us.

"You will have to make two loads of it," the latter remarked as we set
off. "Put it in the 'west barn.' You need not hurry. The Elder and I
will grind the scythes to-night."

I climbed into the rack and rode out to the field, Asa driving and
Addison coming on behind, to rake after the cart. Jim and Halstead had
gone on ahead, to rick up the hay.

"Two loads, wal, they won't be very large ones," Asa remarked.

"What's the use to go twice?" I said. "I can load that hay all on at

Asa looked round at me, as I afterwards remembered, in a somewhat
peculiar manner, and I now imagine that both he and Addison at once
began plotting my abasement, and passed the "wink" to the others.

"You couldn't do it," said Asa.

I studied the amount of hay on the ground carefully for a moment or two,
reflected on the number of "tumbles" I had previously loaded, and then
foolishly offered to bet that, if they would pitch it slowly, I could
stow every straw of it on the rack at one load and ride the load into
the barn. I had forgotten that our orders were to put the hay in the
west barn, and that the great doors of that barn were not as large as
those of the south barn, the top-piece over them being but twelve feet
high. I did not once think of that!

The others saw the trap which I was setting for myself, but kept quiet
and laid wagers against me. The more they wagered, the more eager I
became to try it, if they would not hurry me.

Asa began slowly pitching on the hay to me. I laid the load broad and
long, and without any very great difficulty stowed the thirty-one
"tumbles." It was a large load but a shapely one. I was not a little
elated, and chaffed the Doanes considerably. They kept ominously quiet.

We started for the barn, I riding in triumph on the load, and I did not
see the danger before me till we were close to the great doors. Asa did
not stop.

"Haw, Buck! Huh, Line, up there!" he shouted, and drove fast. The
top-piece over the doors struck the load fully three feet down from the
top, scraping off about half a ton of hay and myself along with it. I
landed on the ground behind the cart outside of the doors, with all that
hay over me! The rest of the load went in, amidst shouts of laughter
from the others.

I lay still under the hay, to hear what they would say. Then they all
came around and began to call to me. I kept quiet. Finding that I did
not move nor answer, they grew alarmed. The Old Squire and Elder were
seen coming. "Boys," says Asa, "I dunno but it's broke his neck!" With
that he and Jim seized their forks and began to dig for me so vigorously
that I was glad to shout, to keep from being impaled on the fork-tines.

I crept out and rose to my feet a good deal rumpled, bareheaded and

The Doanes, Addison and Halse had been so frightened that they did not
now laugh much. The Elder looked at me with a curious expression; and
the Old Squire, who had begun to say something pretty sharp to Asa and
James (who certainly deserved a reprimand), regarded me at first with
some anxiety, which, however, rapidly gave place to a grim smile.
"Well, well, my son," said he, "you must live and learn."

One afternoon later in the month, while we were getting the hay in the
Aunt Hannah meadow, a somewhat exciting incident occurred. Asa was
pitching on a load of the meadow hay and I loading, for I still kept my
liking for that part of the work and was allowed to do it, although it
was in reality too hard for me. The Old Squire was raking after the
cart, and the others were raking hay into windrows a little way off. As
we were putting on the last "tumble," or the last but one, a peculiar
kind of large fly, or bee, of which cattle are strangely afraid, came
buzzing about old Line, the off ox. The instant the ox heard that bee,
he snorted, uttered a bellow and started to run. The very sound of the
bee's hum seemed to render the oxen quite frantic. Almost at the outset
they ran the offwheel over a rick of logs, nearly throwing me headlong
from the load. I thrust my fork down deep and held to that, and away
went the load down the meadow, both oxen going at full speed, with Asa
vainly endeavoring to outrun them, and Gramp shouting, "Whoa-hish!" at
the top of his voice. We went on over stumps and through water-holes,
while the rest ran across lots, to head off the runaways. At one time I
was tumbling in the hay, then jounced high above it; and such a whooping
and shouting as rose on all sides had never before disturbed that
peaceful meadow, at least within historic times.

Coming to a place where the brook made a broad bend partly across the
meadow, the oxen rushed blindly off the turfy bank, and landed, load and
all, in two or three feet of water and mud. When the load struck in the
brook, I went off, heels over head, and fell on the nigh ox's back. The
oxen were mired, and so was the load. We were obliged to get the horses
to haul the cattle out, and both the oxen and horses were required to
haul out the cart. Altogether, it was a very muddy episode; and though
rather startling while it lasted, we yet laughed a great deal over it



We heard a great deal concerning "Reconstruction" of the Union that
summer. The Old Squire was painfully concerned about it; he feared that
Congress had made mistakes which would nullify the results gained by the
Civil War. The low character of the men, sent to the South to administer
the government, revolted him. He used to bring his newspaper to the
table nearly every meal and would sometimes fling it down indignantly,
crying, "Wrong! wrong! all wrong!" Then he and Addison would discuss
current politics, while the rest of us listened, Theodora gravely,
Halstead scoffing, and I often very absently, for as a boy I had other
more trivial interests chiefly in mind. I recall that the old gentleman
used frequently to exclaim, "You boys must begin to read the
Constitution. Next after the Bible, the Constitution ought to be read in
every family in our land."

I have to confess that at this particular time I was much less
interested in the Constitution than in the luscious fall apples out in
the orchard, and the rivalry to secure them.

"Have you got a hoard?" was the question which, at about this time,
began to be whispered among us.

At first the query was a novelty to me; my thoughts went back to a story
which I had once read concerning a horde of robbers on the steppes of
Central Asia. In this case, however, the thing referred to was a hoard
of early apples. I had gone to the Edwardses on some domestic errand; it
was directly after breakfast, and Thomas, who was putting a new tooth
in the "loafer rake," had set a fine, mellow "wine-sap," from which he
had taken a bite, on the shed sill beside him. "Got a pile of those
fellows in my hoard," he remarked, with a boastful wink. "Have you got a
hoard down at your house?"

"Tom is always bragging about his hoard," said Catherine, who had come
to the kitchen door, to hear any news which I might have to impart. "He
thinks nobody can have a hoard but himself."

"She's got one," Tom whispered to me, as Catherine turned away. "She's
awful sly about it, for fear I'll find it, and I think I know where it
is. I'll bet she has gone to it now," he added, taking another bite; and
jumping up, he peeped into the kitchen. "She _has_" he whispered to me.
"Come on, _still_; don't say a word and we will catch her."

I remember feeling a certain faint sense of repugnance to engaging in a
hunt for Catherine's apple preserve; but I followed Tom around the
wood-shed, past a corn-crib, and then around to the north side of the

"Now sneak along beside the stone wall here," said Tom. "Keep down.
Don't get in sight."

We crawled along in cover of the stone wall and came down opposite the
garden and orchard. Tom then peeped stealthily over.

"There she is!" he whispered, "right out there by the Isabella grape
trellis; keep still now, she's going back to the house. We'll find her

We searched about the grape trellis and over the entire garden for ten
minutes or more, but found no secret preserve of apples.

As we returned to the wood-shed, Kate came out, smiling disdainfully.

"Found it?" she asked us,--a question which I felt to be an embarrassing
one. With an air of triumph, she then displayed a fine yellow Sweet
Harvey. "Oh, don't you think you are cunning?" muttered Tom. "But I'll
find your hoard all the same."

"Let me know when you do," replied Kate, with a provoking laugh.

"Oh, you'll know when I find it," said Tom. "I'll take what there is in
it. That was all a blind--her going out to the grape-vine," he remarked
to me, as Kate turned away about her work. "She went down there on
purpose to fool us, and get us to hunt there for nothing."

I went home quite fully informed in regard to the ethics of
apple-hoards. The code was simple; it consisted in keeping one's own
hoard undiscovered, and in finding and robbing those of others.

"Have you got an apple-hoard?" I asked Addison, as soon as I reached

For all reply, he winked his left eye to me.

"Doad's got one, too," he said, after I had had time to comprehend his

"You didn't tell me," I remarked.

Addison laughed. "That would be great strategy!" he observed,
derisively, "to tell of it! But I only made mine day before yesterday. I
thought the early apples were beginning to get good enough to have a
hoard. I want to get a big stock on hand for September town-meeting," he
added. "I mean to carry a bushel or two, and peddle them out for a cent
apiece. The Old Squire put me up to that last year, and I made two
dollars and ninety cents. That's better than nothing."

"Are you really contented here? Are you homesick, ever?" I asked him.

"Well," replied Ad, judicially, after weighing my question a little, "it
isn't, of course, as it would have been with me if it had not been for
the War, and father had lived. I should be at school now and getting
ahead fast. But it is of no use to think of that; father and mother are
both in their graves, and here I am, same as you and Doad are. We have
got to make our way along somehow and get what education we can. It is
of no use to be discontented. We are lucky to have so good a place to go
to. I like here pretty well, for I like to be in the country better, on
the whole, than in the city. Things are sort of good and solid here. The
only drawback is that there isn't much chance to go to school; but after
this year, I hope to go to the Academy, down at the village, ten or
twelve weeks every season."

"Then you mean to try to get an education?" I asked, for it looked to me
to be a vast undertaking.

"I do," replied Addison, hopefully. "Father meant for me to go to
college, and I mean to go, even if I get to be twenty before I am fitted
to enter. I will not grow up an ignoramus. A man without education is a
nobody nowadays. But with a good education, a man can do almost

"Halse doesn't talk that way," said I.

"I presume to say he doesn't," replied Addison. "He and I do not think

"But Theodora says that she means to go to school and study a great
deal, so as to do something which she has in mind, one of these days," I
went on to say. "Do you know what it is?"

"Cannot say that I do," Addison replied, rather indifferently, as I

"Oh, I suppose it is a good thing for girls to study and get educated,"
Addison continued. "But I do not think it amounts to so much for them as
it does for boys."

This, indeed, was an opinion far more common in 1866 than at the present

"Perhaps it is to be a teacher?" I conjectured.

"Maybe," said Addison.

But I was thinking of apple-hoards. There was a delightful proprietary
sense in the idea of owning one. It stimulated some latent propensity
to secretiveness, as also the inclination to play the freebooter in a
small way.

This was the first time that I had ever had access to an orchard of
ripening fruit, and those "early trees" are well fixed in my youthful
recollections. Several of them stood immediately below the garden, along
the upper side of the orchard. First there was the "August Pippin" tree,
a great crotched tree, with a trunk as large round as a barrel. Somehow
such trees do not grow nowadays.

The August Pippins began to ripen early in August. These apples were as
large as a teacup, bright canary yellow in color, mellow, a trifle tart,
and wonderfully fragrant. When the wind was right, I could smell those
pippins over in the corn-field, fifty rods distant from the orchard. I
even used to think that I could tell by the smell when an apple had
dropped off from the tree!

Then there were the "August Sweets," which grew on four grafts, set into
an old "drying apple" tree. They were pale yellow apples, larger even
than the August Pippins, sweet, juicy and mellow. The old people called
them "Pear Sweets."

Next were the "Sour Harvey," the "Sweet Harvey," and the "Mealy Sweet"
trees. The "Mealy Sweet" was not of much account; it was too dry, but
the Harveys were excellent. Some of the Sweet Harveys were almost as
sweet as honey; at least, I thought so then.

Then there were the "Noyes Apple" and the "Hobbs Apple." The Noyes was a
deep-red, pleasant-sour apple, which ripened in the latter part of
August; the Hobbs was striped red and green, flattened in shape, but of
a fine, spicy flavor.

The "sops-in-wines," as, I believe, the fruit men term them, but which
we called "wine-saps," were a pleasant-flavored apple, scarcely sweet,
yet hardly sour. A little later came the "Porters" and "Sweet
Greenings," also the "Nodheads" and the "Minute Apples," the
"Georgianas" and the "Gravensteins," and so on until the winter apples,
the principal product of the orchard, were reached.

We began eating those early apples by the first of August, in spite of
all the terrible stories of colic which Gram told, in order to dissuade
us from making ourselves ill. As the Pippins and August Sweets began to
get mellow and palatable, we rivalled each other in the haste with which
we tumbled out of doors early in the morning, so as to capture, each for
himself or herself, the apples which had dropped from the trees
overnight. Every one of us soon had a private hoard in which to secrete
those apples which we did not eat at the time. There were numerous
contests in rapid dressing and in reckless racing down-stairs and out
into the orchard.

Little Wealthy, on account of her youth, was, to some degree, exempted
from this ruthless looting. We all knew where her hoard was, but spared
it for a long time. She believed that she had placed it in a wonderfully
secret place, and because none of us seemed to discover it, she boasted
so much that Ellen and I plundered it one morning, before she was awake,
to give her a wholesome lesson in humility.

A little later, just before the breakfast hour, Wealthy stole out to her
preserve--to find it empty. I never saw a child more mortified. She felt
so badly that she could scarcely eat breakfast, and her lip kept
quivering. The others laughed at her, and soon she left the table, and
no doubt shed tears in secret over her loss.

After breakfast Ellen and I sought her out, and offered to give back the
apples that we had taken. The child was too proud, however, to obtain
them in such a way, and refused to touch one of them.

No such clemency as had been shown to Wealthy was practised by any
one toward the others; no quarter was given or taken in the matter of
robbing hoards. For a month this looting went on, and was a great
contest of wits.

[Illustration: THE EARLY APPLES.]

Theodora's was the only hoard that escaped detection during the entire
summer and autumn. She had her apples hidden in an empty bee-hive, which
stood out in the garden under the "bee-shed" about midway in the row of
thirteen hives. The most of us were a little afraid of the bees, but
Theodora was one of those persons whom bees seem never to sting. She was
accustomed to care for them, and thus to be about the hives a great
deal. Not one of us happened to think of that empty bee-hive. The shed
and some lilac shrubs concealed the place from the house; and Doad went
unsuspected to and from the hive, which she kept filled with apples. We
spent hours in searching for her hoard, but did not learn where she had
concealed it until she told us herself, two years afterwards.

Ellen had the worst fortune of us all. We found her hoard regularly
every few days. At first she hid it in the wagon-house, then up garret,
and afterward in the wood-shed; but no sooner would she accumulate a
little stock of apples than some one of us, who had spied on her goings
and comings, would rob her. Even Wealthy found Nell's hoard once, and
robbed it of nearly a half-bushel of apples. Nell always bore her losses
good-denature, and obtained satisfaction occasionally by plundering
Halse and me.

I remember that my first hoard was placed in the very high, thick
"double" wall of the orchard. I loosened and removed a stone from the
orchard side of the wall, and then took out the small inside stones from
behind it until I had made a cavity sufficient to hold nearly a bushel.
Into this cavity I put my apples, and then fitted the outer stone back
into its place, thus making the wall look as if it had not been
disturbed. This device protected my apples for nearly a fortnight; but
at length Ellen, who was on my track, observed me disappear suspiciously
behind the wall one day, and an hour or two later took occasion to
reconnoiter the place where I had disappeared.

She passed the hidden cavity several times, and would not have
discovered it, if she had not happened to smell the mellow August
Pippins of my hoard. Guided by the fragrance which they emitted, she
examined the wall more closely, and finally found the loose stone. When
I went to my preserve, after we had milked the cows that evening, I
found only the empty hole in the wall.

I next essayed to conceal my hoard in the ground. In the side of a
knoll, screened from the house by the orchard wall and a thick nursery
of little apple trees, I secretly dug a hole which I lined with new
cedar shingles. For a lid to the orifice leading into it, I fitted a
sod. A little wild gooseberry bush overhung the spot, and I fancied that
I had my apples safely hidden.

But never was self-confidence worse misplaced! It was a cloudy, wet
afternoon in which I had thus employed myself. Halse had gone fishing;
but Addison chanced to be up garret, reading over a pile of old
magazines, as was his habit on wet days. From the attic window he espied
the top of my straw hat bobbing up and down beyond the wall, and as he
read, he marked my operations.

With cool, calculating shrewdness he remained quiet for three or four
days, till I had my new hoard well stocked with "Sweet Harveys," then
made a descent upon it and cleared it out. Next morning, when, with
great stealth and caution, I had stolen to the place, I found my
miniature cavern empty except for a bit of paper, on which, with a
lead-pencil, had been hastily inscribed the following tantalizing bit of

    "He hid his hoard in the ground
    And thought it couldn't be found;
    But forgot, as indeed he should not,
    That the attic window overlooked the spot."

For about three minutes I felt very angry, then I managed to summon a
grin, along with a resolve to get even with Addison--for I recognized
his handwriting--by plundering his hoard, if by any amount of searching
it were possible to find it. Addison was supposed to have the best and
biggest hoard of all, and thus far none of us had got even an inkling as
to where it was hidden.

I watched him as a cat might watch a mouse for two days, and made pretty
sure that he did not go to his hoard in the daytime. Then I bethought
myself that he always had a pocketful of apples every morning, and
concluded that he must visit his preserve sometime "between days," most
likely directly after he appeared to retire to his room at night.

So on the following night I lay awake and listened. After about half an
hour of silence, I heard the door of his room open softly. With equal
softness I stole out, and followed Addison through the open chamber of
the ell, down a flight of stairs into the wagon-house, and then down
another flight into the carriage-house cellar.

He had a lamp in his hand. When he entered the cellar the door closed
after him, so that I did not dare go farther. I went back into the
chamber, concealing myself, and waited to observe his return. He soon
made his appearance, eating an apple; there was a smile on his face, and
his pockets were protuberant.

Next day I proceeded to search the wagon-house cellar, but for some time
my search was in vain.

There was in the cellar a large box-stove, into which I had often
looked, but had seen only a mass of old brown paper and corn-husks. On
this day I went to the stove and pulled out the rubbish, when lo! in
the farther end I saw three salt boxes, all full of Pippins and August

I was not long in emptying those boxes, but I wanted to leave in the
place of the apples a particularly exasperating bit of rhyme. I studied
and rhymed all that forenoon, and at last, with much mental travail, I
got out the following skit, which I left in the topmost box:

    "He was a cunning cove
    Who hid his hoard in the stove;
    And he was so awful bright
    That he went to it only by night.
    But there was still another fellow
    Whose head was not always on his pillow."

I knew by the sickly grin on Ad's face when we went out to milk the cows
next morning that my first effort at poetry had nauseated him; he could
not hold his head up all day, to look me in the face, without the same,
sheepish, sick look.

Where to put my next hoard was a question over which I pondered long. I
tried the hay-mow and several old sleighs set away for the summer, but
Addison was now on my trail and speedily relieved me of my savings.

There were many obstacles to the successful concealment of apples. If I
were to choose an unfrequented spot, the others, who were always on the
lookout, would be sure to spy out my goings to and fro. It was
necessary, I found, that the hoard should be placed where I could visit
it as I went about my ordinary business, without exciting suspicion.

We had often to go into the granary after oats and meal, and the place
that I at last hit on was a large bin of oats. I put my apples in a bag,
and buried them to a depth of over two feet in the oats in one corner of
the bin. I knew that Addison and Halse would look among the oats, but I
did not believe that they would dig deeply enough to find the apples,
and my confidence was justified.

It was a considerable task to get at my hoard to put apples into it, or
to get them out; but the sense of exultation which I felt, as days and
weeks passed and my hoard remained safe, amply repaid me. I was
particularly pleased when I saw from the appearance of the oats that
they had been repeatedly dug over.

As I had to go to the granary every night and morning for corn, or oats,
I had an opportunity to visit my store without roundabout journeys or
suspicious trips, which my numerous and vigilant enemies would have been
certain to note.

The hay-mow was Halse's hoarding-place throughout the season, and
although I was never but once able to find his preserve, Addison could
always discover it whenever he deemed it worth while to make the search.

To ensure fair play with the early apples, the Old Squire had made a
rule that none of us should shake the trees, or knock off apples with
poles or clubs. So we all had equal chances to secure those apples which
fell off, and the prospect of finding them beneath the trees was a great
premium on early rising in the months of August and September.

I will go on in advance of my story proper to relate a queer incident
which happened in connection with those early apples and our rivalry to
get them, the following year. The August Sweeting tree stood apart from
the other trees, near the wall between the orchard and the field, so
that fully half of the apples that dropped from it fell into the field
instead of into the orchard.

We began to notice early in August that no apples seemed to drop off in
the night on the field side of the wall.

For a long time every one of us supposed that some of the others had
got out ahead of the rest and picked them up. But one morning Addison
mentioned the circumstance at the breakfast table, as being rather
singular; and when we came to compare notes, it transpired that none of
us had been getting any apples, mornings, on the field side of the wall.

"Somebody's hooking those apples, then!" exclaimed Addison. "Now who can
it be?" For we all knew that a good many apples must fall into the

"I'll bet it's Alf Batchelder!" Halse exclaimed. But it did not seem
likely that Alfred would come a mile, in the night, to "hook" a few
August Sweets, when he had plenty of apples at home.

Nor could we think of any one among our young neighbors who would be
likely to come constantly to take the apples, although any one of them
in passing might help himself, for fall apples were regarded much as
common property in our neighborhood.

Yet every morning, while there would be a peck or more of Sweetings on
the orchard side of the wall, scarcely an apple would be found in the

Addison confessed that he could not understand the matter; Theodora also
thought it a very mysterious thing. The oddity of the circumstance
seemed to make a great impression on her mind. At last she declared that
she was determined to know what became of those Sweets, and asked me to
sit up with her one night and watch, as she thought it would be too dark
and lonesome an undertaking to watch alone.

I agreed to get up at two o'clock on the following morning, if she would
call me, for we wisely concluded that the pilferer came early in the
morning, rather than early in the night, else many apples would have
fallen off into the field after his visit, and have been found by us in
our early visits.

I did not half believe that Theodora would wake in time to carry out
our plan, but at half-past two she knocked softly at the door of my
room. I hastily dressed, and each of us put on an old Army over-coat,
for the morning was foggy and chilly. It was still very dark. We went
out into the garden, felt our way along to a point near the August
Sweeting tree, and sat down on two old squash-bug boxes under the
trellis of a Concord grape-vine, which made a thick shelter and a
complete hiding-place.

For a mortal long while we sat there and watched and listened in
silence, not wishing to talk, lest the rogue whom we were trying to
surprise should overhear us. At intervals Theodora gave me a pinch, to
make sure that I was not asleep. An hour passed, but it was still dark
when suddenly we heard, on the other side of the wall, a slight noise
resembling the sound of footsteps.

Instantly Doad shook my arm. "Sh!" she breathed. "Some one's come! Creep
along and peep over."

I stole to the wall, and then, rising, slowly parted the vine leaves,
and tried to see what it was there. Presently I discerned one, then
another dim object on the ground beyond the wall. They were creeping
about, and I could plainly hear them munch the apples.

Then Theodora peeped. "It's two little bears, I believe," she breathed
in my ear, with her lightest whisper, yet in considerable excitement.
"What shall we do?"

I peeped again. If bears, they were very little ones.

I mustered my courage. As a weapon I had brought an old pitchfork
handle. Scrambling suddenly over the wall, I uttered a shout, and the
dark objects scudded away across the field, making a great scurry over
the stubble of the wheat-field, but they were not very fleet. I came up
with one of them after a hundred yards' chase, when it suddenly turned
and faced me with a strange loud squeak! Drawing back, I belabored it
with my fork handle until the creature lay helpless, quite dead, in

Theodora came after me in alarm. "Oh, my, you have killed it!" she
exclaimed. "What can it be?"

I put my hand cautiously down upon its hair, which was coarser than
bristles and sharp-pointed. Turning the body over with the fork handle,
I found that it was really heavy.

We could not, in the darkness, even guess what the animal was, and went
back to the house much mystified. The Old Squire had just arisen, and we
told him the story of our early vigil. "Wood-chucks, I guess," was his
comment, but we knew that they were not wood-chucks. Addison was then
called up, to get his opinion, and when told of the animal's exceedingly
coarse, sharp-pointed hair, he exclaimed, "I know what it is! It's a

He bustled around, got on his boots, and went out into the field with
me. It was now light, and he had no sooner bent down over it than he
pronounced it to be a hedgehog fast enough, or rather a Canada
porcupine. Its weight was over thirty pounds, and some of the quills on
its back were four or five inches in length, with needle-like, finely
barbed points.

The other hedgehog escaped to the woods, and did not again trouble us.
The next summer the August Sweetings that fell into the field from the
same tree were quite as mysteriously taken at night by a cosset sheep,
which for more than a fortnight escaped nightly from the farm-yard, and
returned thither of its own accord after it had stolen the apples. Again
Theodora and I watched for the pilferer, and captured the cunning
creature in the act.

During that first year at the farm, the old folks did not pay much
attention to our apple-hoards, but by the time our contests were under
way the second season, they, too, caught the contagion of it, from
hearing us talk so much about it at the breakfast table. At first the
Old Squire merely dropped some remarks to the effect that, when he was a
boy, he could have hidden a hoard where nobody could find it.

"Well, sir, we would like to see you do it!" cried Halse.

The old gentleman did not say at the time that he would, or would not,
attempt such an exploit. Moved by Ellen's serio-comic lamentations over
her losses, Gram also insinuated that she knew of places in the house in
which she could make a hoard that would be hard for us to find; but the
girls declared that they would like to see her try to hide a hoard away
from them.

Not many days after these conversations had occurred, the Old Squire
rather ostentatiously took a very fine August Pippin from his pocket, as
we were gathering round the breakfast table, and, after thumbing it
approvingly, set it beside his plate, remarking, incidentally, that if
one wanted his apples to ripen well, and have just the right flavor, it
was necessary that he should place his hoard in some dry, clean,
perfectly sweet place.

Of course we were not long in taking so broad a hint as that. Several
sly nudges and winks went around the table.

"He's got one!" Addison whispered to me, as Gram poured the coffee, and
from that time the Old Squire, in all his goings and comings, was a
marked man. He had thrown down a challenge to us, and we were determined
to prove that we were as smart as he had been in his youthful days. But
for more than a week we were unable to gain the slightest hint as to
where his preserve was situated. Meantime Gram had also begun to place a
nice August Sweet beside her own plate every morning, as she glanced
with a twinkle in her eye over to the Old Squire.

We rummaged everywhere that week, and even forgot to carry on mutual
injury and reprisal, in our desire to humble the pride of our elders.
We even bethought ourselves of the words "perfectly sweet," which the
old gentleman had used in connection with hoards, and looked in the
sugar barrel, but quite in vain. Yet all the while we were daily going
by the place where the Old Squire's hoard was concealed; passing so near
it that we might have laid hands on it without stepping out of our way,
for it was in the wood-house beside the walk which led past the tiered
up stove wood into the wagon-house and stable.

Ten or twelve cords of wood, sawed short and split, had been piled
loosely into the back part of the wood-house, but in front of this loose
pile, and next the plank walk, the wood had been tiered up evenly and
closely to a height of ten feet. The Old Squire managed to pull from
this tier, at a height of about four feet, a good-sized block, and then,
reaching in behind it, had made a considerable cavity. Here he deposited
his apples, replacing the block, which fitted to its place in the tier
so well that the woodpile appeared as if it had not been disturbed.
Shrewdly mindful of the fact that our keen nostrils might smell out his
preserve, he cunningly set an old pan with a few refuse pippins in it on
a bench close beside the place.

Gram's hoard was hidden, with equal cunning, in the "yarn cupboard,"
where were kept the woollen balls and yarn hanks, used in darning and
knitting,--a small, high cupboard, with a little panel door, set in the
wall of the sitting-room next to the fireplace and chimney. The bottom
of this cupboard was formed of one broad piece of pine board, which
seemed to be nailed down hard and fast; but the old lady, who knew that
this board was loose, had raised it and kept her apples in a yarn-ball
basket beneath it.

She often had occasion to go to the cupboard to get or replace her
knitting, and for a long time none of the girls suspected her
hiding-place. The plain fact was that those girls, as a rule, steered
clear of the yarn cupboard, for they none of them very much liked to
knit or darn. But at last Ellen happened to go to it one day for a
darning-needle, and smelled the apples. Even then she could not discover
the hoard, but she went in search of Theodora, who penetrated the secret
of the loose bottom board.

They came with great glee to tell us of their discovery, and we were
thereby stimulated to renewed efforts to unearth the Old Squire's
preserve. The girls promised to say nothing of their discovery for a day
or two, and at Ellen's suggestion we agreed that if we could find
Gramp's hoard, we would rob both hoarding-places at once and have the
laugh on them both at the same time.

We had watched the Old Squire closely, and felt sure that he did not go
to his hoard at any time during the day. As he was an early riser, it
seemed probable to us that he did his apple-hoarding before we were
astir. Addison and I accordingly agreed to get up at three o'clock the
following morning and secretly watch all his movements. By a great
effort we rose long before light, and dressing, stole out through the
wood-house chamber and down the wagon-house stairs into the stable. Here
I concealed myself behind an old sleigh, while Addison went back into
the wood-house and posted himself on the high tier of wood that fronted
on the passageway, lying there in such a posture that he could get a
peep of the long walk.

It had hardly begun to grow light, when we heard the old gentleman astir
in the kitchen. Presently he came out through the stable and fed the
horses, then returned. As he went back through the wood-house, he
stopped on the walk beside the high tier of wood on which Addison lay.
After listening and looking about him, he removed the block of wood,
took out a fine pippin from his hoard, and carefully replaced the

This amused Ad so greatly that he nearly shook the tier of wood down in
his efforts to repress laughter, and after the old gentleman had gone
into the house, he came tiptoeing out into the stable to tell me, with
much elation, what he had seen.

During the forenoon we examined the hoard and told the girls about it.
We arranged to rob both the old folks' hoards late that evening, and
fill our own with the plunder. To emphasize the exploit, we agreed to
take some of the largest apples to the breakfast-table next morning. We
fancied that when the old folks saw those apples, and found out where we
got them, they would think there were young people living nearly as
bright as those of fifty years ago.

Theodora did not really promise that she would assist in the scheme, but
she laughed a good deal over it, and seemed to concur with the rest of

That evening as soon as the old folks had retired and the house had
become quiet, Addison and I cleared out the Old Squire's preserve; and,
meantime, Ellen and Theodora had slipped down-stairs into the
sitting-room and emptied Gram's hoard in the yarn cupboard. We met out
in the garden and divided the spoils; then not liking to trust each
other to go directly to our respective hoards, we deposited our shares
of the plunder in three different boxes in the wagon-house, and looked
forward with no little zest to the fun next morning at the

But on visiting the boxes next morning, they were all empty! Some one
had made a clean sweep. Not an apple was left in them! Addison and I
were astounded when we compared notes a few minutes before breakfast.
"Who on earth could have done it?" he whispered, after he found out that
I was not the traitor.

We hurried to the wood-house and peeped into the Old Squire's
hoarding-place. It was brimful of apples! A light began to dawn upon us.
Had the old gentleman watched our performance on the previous evening
and outwitted us all? It looked so, for on going in to breakfast, there
beside the plates of each of the old folks stood a great nappy dish,
heaped full of choice Pippins and Sweets! Addison stole a look around
and then dropped his eyes; I did the same, while Ellen looked equally
amazed and disconcerted. Theodora, too, remained very quiet.

We concluded that our elders had completely outdone us, and that they
were enjoying their victory in a manner intended to convey their
ironical appreciation of our small effort to rob them. The more we
considered the matter, the more sheepish we felt.

"These are charming good pippins, aren't they, Ruth?" said the old
gentleman to Gram.

"Charming," answered she.

Addison gave me a punch under the table, as if to say, "Now they are
giving us the laugh."

"And I'm sure we're much obliged for them," the Old Squire continued.

"Indeed, we are obliged," said Gram.

Their remarks seemed to me a little odd, but I didn't look up.

Not another word was spoken at the table, but afterwards Addison and
Ellen and I got together in the garden and mutually agreed that we had
been badly beaten at our own game.

"They are too old and long-headed for us to meddle with," said Addison.
"I cannot even imagine how they did it. I guess we had better let their
hoards alone in the future." None the less we could not help thinking
that there had been something a little queer about our defeat.

It was nearly two years later before the truth about that night's frolic
came to light. Theodora did it. She could not bear to have the old folks
beaten and humiliated by us, for whom they were doing so much. After we
had robbed their hoarding-places, she sallied forth again and took all
of our shares as well as her own, and then having replenished the looted
hoarding-places, she filled the two nappy dishes from her own hoard and
set them beside their plates.

The best part of the joke was that the Old Squire and Gram never knew
that they had been robbed, and thought only that we had made them a
present of some excellent apples. When Theodora saw how chagrined the
rest of us were, she kept the whole matter a secret.



After haying came grain harvest. There were three acres of wheat, four
of oats, an acre of barley, an acre of buckwheat and an acre and
three-fourths of rye to get in. The rye, however, had been harvested
during the last week of haying. It ripened early, for it was the Old
Squire's custom to sow his rye very early in the spring. The first work
which we did on the land, after the snow melted, was to plough and
harrow for rye. With the rye we always sowed clover and herdsgrass seed
for a hay crop the following year. This we termed "seeding down;" and
the Old Squire liked rye the best of all grain crops for this purpose.
"Grass seed 'catches' better with rye than oats, or barley, or even
wheat," he was accustomed to say.

When we harvested the grain, he would be seen peering into the stubble
with an observant eye, and would then be heard to say, "A pretty good
'catch' this year," or, "It hasn't 'caught' worth a cent."

It was not on more than half the years that we secured a fair wheat
crop. Maine is not a State wholly favorable for wheat; yet the Old
Squire persisted in sowing it, year by year, although Addison often
demonstrated to him that oats were more profitable and could be
exchanged for flour. "But a farmer ought to raise his bread-stuff," the
old gentleman would rejoin stoutly. "How do we know, too, that some
calamity may not cut off the Western wheat crop; then where should we

It is a pity, perhaps, that Eastern farmers do not generally display the
same independent spirit.

But the Old Squire himself finally gave up wheat raising. Gram and the
girls found fault with our Maine grown wheat flour, because the bread
from it was not very white and did not "rise" well. The neighbors had
Western flour and their bread was white and light, while ours was darker
colored and sometimes heavy, in spite of their best efforts.

No farmer can hold out long against such indoor repinings, but the Old
Squire never came to look with favor on Western flour; he admitted that
it made whiter bread, but he always declared that it was not as
wholesome! The fact was that it seemed to him to be an unfarmerlike
proceeding, to buy his flour. For the same reason he would never buy
Western corn for his cattle.

"When I cannot raise fodder enough for my stock, I'll quit farming," he
would exclaim, when his neighbors told him of the corn they were buying.
As a matter of fact, the old gentleman lived to see a good many of his
neighbors' farms under mortgage, and held a number of these papers
himself. It was not a wholly propitious day for New England farmers when
they began buying Western corn, on the theory that they could buy it
cheaper than they could raise it themselves. The net result has been
that their profits have often gone West, or into the pockets of the
railway companies which draw the corn to them.

Another drawback to wheat raising in Maine is the uncertain weather at
harvest time. Despite our shrewdest inspection of the weather signs, the
wheat as well as the other grain would often get wet in the field, and
sometimes it would lie wet so long as to sprout. Sprouted wheat flour
makes a kind of bread which drives the housewife to despair.

"Oh, this dog-days weather!" the Old Squire would exclaim, as the grain
lay wet in the field, day after day, or when an August shower came
rumbling over the mountains just as we were raking it up into windrows
and tumbles.

I had never heard of "dog days" before and was curious to know what sort
of days they were. "They set in," the Old Squire informed me, "on the
twenty-fifth of July and last till the fifth of September. Then is when
the Dog-star rages, and it is apt to be 'catching' weather. Dogs are
more liable to run mad at this time of year, and snakes are most
venomous then." Such is the olden lore, and I gained an impression that
those forty-two days were after a manner unhealthy for man and beast.

Near the middle of August that summer there came the most terrific
thunder shower which I had ever witnessed. Halse, Addison and Asa Doane
had mowed the acre of barley that morning, and after dinner we three
boys went out into the field to turn the swaths, for the sun had been
very hot all day. It was while thus employed that we saw the shower
rising over the mountains to the westward and soon heard the thunder. It
rose rapidly, and the clouds took on, as they rolled upward, a peculiar
black, greenish tint.

It was such a tempest as Lucretius describes when he says,--

"So dire and terrible is the aspect of Heaven, that one might think all
the Darkness had left Acheron, to be poured out across the sky, as the
drear gloom of the storm collects and the Tempest, forging loud
thunderbolts, bends down its black face of terror over the affrighted

Gramp called us in, to carry a few cocks of late-made hay into the barn
from the orchard, and then bade us shut all the barn doors and make
things snug. "For there's a tremendous shower coming, boys," he said.
"There's hail in those clouds."

We ran to do as he advised, and had no more than taken these
precautions when the shower struck. Such awful thunder and such bright,
vengeful lightning had, the people of the vicinity declared, never been
observed in that town, previously. A bolt came down one of the large
Balm o' Gilead trees near the house, and the thunder peal was absolutely
deafening. Wealthy hid herself in the parlor clothes-closet, and Gram
sat with her hands folded in the middle of the sitting-room. Just before
the clouds burst, it was so dark in the house that we could scarcely see
each others' faces. A moment later the lightning struck a large
butternut tree near the calf-pasture wall, across the south field,
shivering it so completely that nearly all the top fell; the trunk, too,
was split open from the heart.

In fact, the terrific flashes and peals indicated that the lightning was
descending to the earth all about us. Two barns were struck and burned
in the school district adjoining ours. Rain then fell in sheets, and
also hail, which cut the garden vegetables to strings and broke a number
of windows. This tempest lasted for nearly an hour, and prostrated the
corn and standing grain very badly. An apple tree was also up-rooted,
for there was violent wind as well as lightning and thunder.

Next morning we were obliged to leave our farm work and repair the roads
throughout that highway district, for the shower had gullied the hills
almost beyond belief. Altogether it had done a great amount of damage on
every hand.

At supper that night, after returning from work on the highway, the Old
Squire suddenly asked whether any of us had seen the colts, in the
pasture beyond the west field, that day.

No one remembered having seen them since the shower, though we generally
noticed them running around the pasture every day. There were three of
them, two bays and a black one. The two former were the property of men
in the village, but Black Hawk, as we called him, belonged to us.

"After supper, you had better go see where they are," the Old Squire
said to us.

Addison and I set off accordingly. The pasture was partly cleared, with
here and there a pine stub left standing, and was of about twenty acres
extent. We went up across it to the top of the hill, but could not find
the colts. Then we walked around by the farther fence, but discovered no
breach in it and no traces where truant hoofs had jumped over it. It was
growing dark, and we at length went home to report our ill-success.

"Strange!" the Old Squire said. "We must look them up." But no further
search was made that night.

"Is that a hawk?" Halstead said to me, while he and I were out milking a
little before sunrise next morning. "Don't you see it? Sailing round
over the colt pasture. Too big for a hawk, isn't it?"

A large bird was wheeling slowly above the pasture, moving in lofty
circles, on motionless wings.

"I'll bet that's an eagle!" Halse cried. "Can't be a hawk. We couldn't
see a hawk so far off."

Suddenly the bird seemed to pause on wing a moment, then descended
through the air and disappeared just over the crest of the ridge.
Perhaps it was fancy, but we thought we heard the roar of its wings.

"Came down by that high stub!" exclaimed Halstead. "Pounced upon
something there! I'll run in and get the shotgun. The folks aren't up
yet. We'll go over. Perhaps we can get a shot at it."

Addison had gone on an errand to the Corners that morning. Halstead got
the gun, and setting down our milk pails, we ran across the field, and
so onward to the pasture. "'Twas near that stub," whispered Halse, as we
began to see the top of it over the crest of the ridge. We peeped over.
Down in the hollow at the foot of the stub was the great bird, flapping
and tugging at something--one, two, three animals, lying stretched out
on the ground! The sight gave us a sudden shock.

"The colts!" exclaimed Halse, forgetting the eagle. "Dead!"

The big bird raised its head, then rose into the air with mighty flaps
and sailed away. We watched it glide off along the ridge, and saw it
alight in an oak, the branches of which bent and swayed beneath its

"All dead!" cried Halstead, gazing around. "Isn't that hard!"

The eagle had been tearing at their tongues, which protruded as they lay
on the ground. There was a strong odor from the carcasses.

"Been dead some time," Halse exclaimed. "What killed them?"

We examined them attentively. Not the slightest mark, nor wound, could
be detected. But a lot of fresh splinters lay at the foot of the pine
stub, close by them.

"Must have been lightning," I said, glancing up. "That's just what it
was! They were struck during that big shower."

We went to the house with the unwelcome tidings. At first the folks
would scarcely believe our account. Then there were rueful looks.

"Ah, those pine stubs ought to have been cut down," exclaimed the Old
Squire. "Dangerous things to be left standing in pastures!"

Later in the day we took shovels and went to the pasture, with Asa
Doane, to bury the dead animals. While this was going on, the eagle came
back and sailed about, high overhead.

"Leave one carcass above ground," said Asa. "That old chap will light
here again. You can shoot him then, or catch him in a trap."

So we left Black Hawk unburied, and bringing over an old fox-trap,
fastened a large stick of wood to it and set it near. During the day we
saw the eagle hovering about the spot, also a great flock of crows,
cawing noisily, and next morning when we went over to see if any of them
had got into the trap, both trap and stick were gone.

"Must have been the eagle," said Addison. "A crow could never have
carried off that trap!" But as neither trap nor eagle was anywhere in
sight, we concluded that we had lost the game.

Several days passed, when one morning we heard a pow-wow of crows down
in the valley beyond the Little Sea. A flock of them were circling about
a tree-top, charging into it.

"Owl, or else a raccoon, I guess," said Addison. "Crows are always
hectoring owls and 'coons whenever they happen to spy one out by day."

Thinking that perhaps we might get a 'coon, we took the gun and went
down there. But on coming near, instead of a raccoon, lo! there was our
lost eagle, perched in the tree-top, with a hundred crows scolding and
flapping him. He saw us, and started up as if to fly off, but fell back,
and we heard a chain clank.

"Hard and fast in that trap!" exclaimed Addison. The stick and trap had
caught among the branches. The big bird was a prisoner. We wished to
take him alive, but to climb a tall basswood, and bring down an eagle
strong enough to carry off a twelve-pound clog and trap, was not a feat
to be rashly undertaken. Addison was obliged to shoot the bird before
climbing after him. It was a fine, fierce-looking eagle, measuring
nearly six feet from tip to tip of its wings. Its beak was hooked and
very strong, and its claws an inch and a half long, curved and
exceedingly sharp.

Addison deemed it a great prize, for it was not a common bald eagle,
but a much darker bird. After reading his Audubon, he pronounced it a
Golden Eagle and wrote a letter describing its capture, which was
published in several New York papers. Gramp gave him all the following
day to "mount" the eagle as a specimen. In point of fact, he was nearer
three days preparing it. It looked very well when he had it done. I
remember only that its legs were feathered down to the feet.



It was a part of Gram's household creed, that the wood-house and
carriage-house could be properly swept only with a cedar broom. Brooms
made of cedar boughs, bound to a broom-stick with a gray tow string,
were the kind in use when she and Gramp began life together; and
although she had accepted corn brooms in due course, for house work, the
cedar broom still held a warm corner in her heart. "A nice new cedar
broom is the best thing in the world to take up all the dust and to
brush out all the nooks and corners," she used to say to Theodora and
Ellen; and when, at stated intervals, it became necessary, in her
opinion, to clean the wood-house and other out-buildings, or the cellar,
she would generally preface the announcement by saying to them at the
breakfast table, "You must get me some broom-stuff, to-day, some of that
green cedar down in the swamp below the pasture. I want enough for two
or three brooms. Sprig off a good lot of it and get the sprigs of a size
to tie on good."

The girls liked the trip, for it gave them an opportunity to gather
checkerberries, pull "young ivies," search for "twin sisters" and see
the woods, birds and squirrels, with a chance of espying an owl in the
swamp, or a hawk's nest in some big tree; or perhaps a rabbit, or a mink
along the brook.

If they could contrive to get word of their trip to Catherine Edwards
and she could find time to accompany them, so much the more pleasant;
for Catherine was better acquainted with the woods and possessed that
practical knowledge of all rural matters which only a bright girl, bred
in the country with a taste for rambling about, ever acquires.

A morning proclamation to gather broom-stuff having been issued at about
this time, the three girls set off an hour or two after dinner for the
east pasture; Mrs. Edwards, who was a very kind, easy-going woman,
nearly always allowed Catherine to accompany our girls. Kate, in fact,
did about as she liked at home, not from indulgence on the part of her
mother so much as from being a leading spirit in the household. She was
very quick at work; and her mother, instead of having to prompt her,
generally found her going ahead, hurrying about to get everything done
early in the day. Then, too, she was quick-witted and knew how to take
care of herself when out from home. Mrs. Edwards always appeared to
treat Kate more as an equal than a daughter. There are children who are
spoiled if allowed to have their own way, and others who can be trusted
to take their own way without the least danger of injury, and whom it is
but an ill-natured exercise of authority to restrict to rules.

The Old Squire was breaking greensward in the south field that afternoon
with Addison and Halse driving the team which consisted of a yoke of
oxen and two yokes of steers, the latter not as yet very well "broken"
to work. My inexperienced services were not required; but to keep me out
of hurtful idleness, the old gentleman bade me pick up four heaps of
stones on a stubble field near the east pasture wall. It was a kind of
work which I did not enjoy very well, and I therefore set about it with
a will to get it done as soon as possible.

I had nearly completed the fourth not very large stone pile, when I
heard one of the girls calling me from down in the pasture, below the
field. It was Ellen. She came hurriedly up nearer the wall. "Run to the
house and get Addison's fish-hook and line and something for bait!" she
exclaimed. "For there is the greatest lot of trout over at the Foy
mill-pond you ever saw! There's more than fifty of them. Such great

"Why, how came you to go over there?" said I; for the Foy mill-pond was
fully a mile distant, in a lonely place where formerly a saw-mill had
stood, and where an old stone dam still held back a pond of perhaps four
acres in extent. The ruins of the mill with several broken wheels and
other gear were lying on the ledges below the dam; and two curiously
gnarled trees overhung the bed of the hollow-gurgling stream. Alders had
now grown up around the pond; and there were said to be some very large
water snakes living in the chinks of the old dam. It was one of those
ponds the shores of which are much infested by dragon-flies, or "devil's
darn-needles," as they are called by country boys,--the legend being
that with their long stiff bodies, used as darning needles, they have a
mission, to sew up the mouths of those who tell falsehoods.

"Oh, Kate wanted to go," replied Ellen. "We went by the old logging road
through the woods from the cedar swamp. She thought we would see a
turtle on that sand bank across from the old dam, if we sat down quietly
and waited awhile. The turtles sometimes come out on that sand bank to
sun themselves, she said. So we went over and sat down, very still, in
the little path at the top of the dam wall. The sun shone down into the
water. We could see the bottom of the pond for a long way out. Kate was
watching the sand bank: and so was I; but after a minute or two,
Theodora whispered, 'Only see those big fish!' Then we looked down into
the water and saw them, great lovely fish with spots of red on their
sides, swimming slowly along, all together, circling around the foot of
the pond as if they were exploring. Oh, how pretty they looked as they
turned; for they kept together and then swam off up the pond again.

"Kate whispered that they were trout. 'But I never saw so many,' she
said, 'nor such large ones before; and I never heard Tom nor any of the
boys say there were trout here.'

"We thought they had gone perhaps and would not come again," Ellen
continued. "But in about ten minutes they all came circling back down
the other shore of the pond, keeping in a school together just as when
we first saw them. We sat and watched them till they came around the
third time, and then Kate said, 'One of us must run home and tell the
boys to come with their hooks.' I said that I would go, and I've run
almost all the way. Now hurry. I'll rest here till you come. Then we
will scamper back."

In a corner of the vegetable garden where I had dug horse-radish a few
mornings before, I had seen some exceedingly plethoric angle-worms; and
after running to the wood-house and securing a fish-hook, pole and line
which Addison kept there, ready strung, I seized an old tin quart, and
going to the garden, with a few deep thrusts of the shovel, turned out a
score or two of those great pale-purple, wriggling worms. These I as
hastily hustled into the quart along with a pint or more of the dirt,
then snatching up my pole, ran down to the field where Nell was waiting
for me, seated on one of my lately piled stone heaps.

"Come, hurry now," said she; and away we went over the wall and through
brakes and bushes, down into the swamp, and then along the old road in
the woods, till we came out at the high conical knoll, covered with
sapling pines, to the left of the old mill dam. There we espied Kate and
Theodora sitting quietly on a log.

"Oh, we thought that you never would come," said the former in a low
tone. "But creep along here. Don't make a noise. They've come around six
times, Ellen, since you went away. I never saw trout do so before. I
believe they are lost and are exploring, or looking for some way out of
this pond. I guess they came down out of North Pond along the Foy Brook;
for they are too large for brook trout. They will be back here in a few
minutes, again. Now bait the hook and drop in before they come back.
Then sit still, and when they come, just move the bait a little and I
think you'll get a bite."

I followed this advice and sat for some minutes, dangling a big
angle-worm out in the deep water, off the inner wall of the dam, while
my three companions watched the water. Presently Theodora whispered that
they were coming again; and then I saw what was, indeed, from a
piscatorial point of view, a rare spectacle. First the water waved deep
down, near the bottom, and seemed filled with dark moving objects,
showing here and there the sheen of light brown and a glimmer of
flashing red specks, as the sunlight fell in among them. For an instant
I was so intent on the sight, that I quite forgot my hook. "Bob it now,"
whispered Kate, excitedly.

I had scarcely given my hook a bob up and down when, with a grand rush
and snap, a big trout grabbed worm, hook and all. Instinctively I gave a
great yank and swung him heavily out of the water, my pole bending half
double. The trout was securely hooked, or I should have lost him, for he
fell first on some drift logs and slid down betwixt them into the water
again. Seizing the line in my hands, since the pole was too light for
the fish, I contrived to lift him up and land him high and dry on the
dam, close at the feet of the girls.

"Well done!" Theodora whispered. "Oh, isn't he a noble great one, and
how like sport he jumps about! Too bad to take his life when he's so
handsome and was having such a good time among his mates!"

"Unhook him quick and throw in again!" cried Kate. "Be careful he don't
snap your fingers. He's got sharp teeth. Don't let him leap into the
water. That's good! We'll keep him behind this log. Now bait again with
a good new worm."

"But they've gone," said Theodora. "They darted away when you pulled
this one out. It scared them."

I had experienced some difficulty in disengaging my hook from the
trout's jaw, but at length put on another worm and dropped in again, not
a little excited over my catch.

"I'm afraid they will not come around again," said Ellen. Kate, too,
thought it doubtful whether we would see anything more of the school. "I
guess they will beat a retreat up to North Pond," said she.

We sat quietly waiting for eight or ten minutes and were losing hope
fast, when lo! there they all came again--swimming evenly around the
foot of the pond in the deep part, as before, winnowing the water slowly
with their fins.

Again I waited till my hook was in the midst of the school; and this
time I had scarcely moved it, when another snapped it. I had resolved
not to jerk quite so hard this time; but in my excitement I pulled much
harder than was necessary to hook the trout and again swung it out and
against the wall of the dam. With a vigorous squirm the fish threw
himself clean off the hook; but by chance I grabbed him in my hands, as
he did so, and threw him over the dam among the raspberry briars--safe.

"Well done again," said Theodora.

In a trice I had rebaited my hook and dropped in a third time; but as
before the vagrant school had moved on. They had seemed alarmed for the
moment by the commotion, and darted off with accelerated speed. But we
now had more confidence that they would return and again settled
ourselves to wait.

"Oh, I want to catch one!" exclaimed Ellen.

"I wish we had more hooks," said Kate. "We would fish at different
points around the pond."

After about the same interval of time and in the same odd, migratory
manner, the beautiful school came around four times more in succession;
and every time I swung out a handsome one. Kate then took the pole and
caught one. Then Ellen caught one; and afterwards Theodora took her turn
and succeeded in landing a fine fellow which flopped off the dam once,
but was finally secured. In the scramble to save this last one, however,
I rolled a loose stone off the dam into the water; and either owing to
the splash made by the stone, or because the trout had completed their
survey of the pond, they did not return. We saw nothing more of the
school although we had not caught a fifth part of them.

After waiting fifteen or twenty minutes we went along the shore on both
sides of the pond but could not discern them anywheres. It is likely
that they had gone back to the larger pond, two miles distant.

At that time, the very odd circumstances attending the capture of these
trout did not greatly surprise me; for I knew almost nothing of fishing.
But within a considerable experience since, I have never seen anything
like it.

We laid the nine large trout in a row on the dam, side by side, and then
strung them on a forked maple branch. They were indeed beauties! The
largest was found that night to weigh three pounds and three quarters;
and the smallest two pounds and an ounce. The whole string weighed over
twenty-two pounds. Going homeward, we first took turns carrying them,
then hung them on a pole for two to carry.

Our folks were at supper when we arrived at the house door with our
cedar and our fish. When they saw those trout, they all jumped up from
the table. Addison and Halse had never caught anything which could
compare with them for size; both of the boys stared in astonishment.

"Where in the world did you catch those whopping trout?" was then the
question which we had to answer in detail.

Kate carried three of them home with her; and we had six for our share.
The Old Squire dressed two of the largest; and grandmother rolled them
in meal and fried them with pork for our supper. I thought at the time
that I had never tasted anything one half as good in my life!

Next morning Addison got up at half past four and having hastily milked
his two cows, went over to the old mill-pond, to try his own hand at
fishing there. He found Tom Edwards there already; but neither of them
caught a trout, nor saw one. Addison went again a day or two after; and
the story having got abroad, more than twenty persons fished there
during the next fortnight, but caught no trout.

Evidently it was a transient school. I never caught a trout in the
mill-pond, afterwards; although the following year Addison made a great
catch in a branch of the Foy stream below the dam under somewhat
peculiar circumstances.

At the far end of the dam, a hundred feet from the flume, there was an
"apron," beneath a waste-way, where formerly the overflow of water went
out and found its way for a hundred and fifty yards, perhaps, by another
channel along the foot of a steep bank; then, issuing through a dense
willow thicket, it joined the main stream from the flume.

Water rarely flowed here now, except in time of freshets, or during the
spring and fall rains; and there was such a prodigious tangle of alder,
willow, clematis and other vines that for years no one had penetrated
it. From a fisherman's point of view there seemed no inducement to do
so, since this secondary channel appeared to be dry for most of the

In point of fact, however, and unknown to us, there was a very deep hole
at the foot of the high bank where the channel was obstructed by a
ledge. The hole thus formed was thirty or forty feet in length, and at
the deepest place under the bank the water was six or seven feet in
depth; but such was the tangle of brush above, below and all about it
that one would never have suspected its existence.

An experienced and observing fisherman would have noted, however, that
always, even in midsummer, there was a tiny rill of water issuing
through the willows to join the main stream; and that, too, when not a
drop of water was running over the waste-way of the dam. He would have
noted also that this was unusually clear, cold water, like water from a
spring. There was, in fact, a copious spring at the foot of the bank
near the deep hole; and this hole was maintained by the spring, and not
by the water from above the dam.

Addison was a born observer, a naturalist by nature; and on one of these
hopeful trips to the mill-pond, he had searched out and found that
hidden hole on the old waste-way channel, below the dam. When he had
forced his way through the tangled mass of willows, alders and vines and
discovered the pool, he found eighteen or nineteen splendid speckled
trout in it.

Either these trout had come over the waste-way of the dam in time of
freshet, and had been unable to get out through the rick of small drift
stuff at the foot of the hole; or else perhaps they were trout that had
come in there as small fry and had been there for years, till they had
grown to their present size. Certain it is that they were now two-and
three-pound trout.

Did Addison come home in haste to tell us of his discovery? Not at all.
He did not even allow himself to catch one of the trout at that time,
for he knew that Halstead and I had seen him set off for the old
mill-pond. He came home without a fish, and remarked at the
dinner-table that it was of no use to fish for trout in that old
pond--which was true enough.

The next wet day, however, he said at breakfast to the Old Squire, "If
you don't want me, sir, for an hour or two this morning, I guess I'll go
down the Horr Brook and see if I can catch a few trout."

Gramp nodded, and we saw Addison dig his worms and set off. The Horr
Brook was on the west side of the farm, while the old mill-pond lay to
the southeast. What Addison did was to fish down the Horr Brook for
about a mile, to the meadows where the lake woods began. He then made a
rapid detour around through the woods to the Foy Brook, and caught four
trout out of the hidden preserve below the old dam. Afterwards he went
back as he had come to the Horr Brook, then strolled leisurely home with
eight pounds of trout.

Of course there was astonishment and questions. "You never caught those
trout in the Horr Brook!" Halstead exclaimed. But Addison only laughed.

"Ad, did you get those beauties out of the old mill-pond?" demanded

"No," said Addison, but he would answer no more questions.

About two weeks after that he set off fishing to the Horr Brook again,
and again returned with two big trout. Nobody else who fished there had
caught anything weighing more than half a pound; and in the lake, at
that time, there was nothing except pickerel. But all that Addison would
say was that he did not have any trouble in catching such trout.

The mystery of those trout puzzled us deeply. Not only Halstead and I,
but Thomas Edwards, Edgar Wilbur and the Murch boys all did our best to
find out where and how Addison fished, but quite without success.

Cold weather was now at hand and the fishing over; Addison astonished
us, however, by bringing home two noble trout for Thanksgiving day.

[Illustration: THOSE BIG TROUT.]

The next spring, about May 1st, he went off fishing, unobserved, and
brought home two more big trout. After that if he so much as took down
his fish-pole, the rumor of it went round, and more than one boy made
ready to follow him. For we were all persuaded that he had discovered
some wonderful new brook or trout preserve.

Not even the girls could endure the grin of superior skill which Addison
wore when he came home with those big trout. Theodora and Ellen also
began to watch him; and the two girls, with Catherine Edwards, hatched a
scheme for tracking him. Thomas had a little half-bred cocker spaniel
puppy, called Tyro, which had a great notion of running after members of
the family by scent. If Thomas had gone out, and Kate wished to discover
his whereabouts, she would show him one of Thomas's shoes and say, "Go
find him!" Tyro would go coursing around till he took Thomas's track,
then race away till he came upon him.

The girls saved up one of Addison's socks, and on a lowery day in June,
when they made pretty sure that he had stolen off fishing, Ellen ran
over for Kate and Tyro. Thomas was with them when they came back, and
Halstead and I joined in the hunt. The sock was brought out for Tyro to
scent; then away he ran till he struck Addison's trail, and dashed out
through the west field and down into the valley of the Horr Brook.

All six of us followed in great glee, but kept as quiet as possible. It
proved a long, hot chase; for when Tyro had gone along the brook as far
as the lake woods, he suddenly tacked and ran on an almost straight
course through the woods and across the bushy pasture-lands, stopping
only now and then for us to catch up. When we came out on the Foy Brook
at a distance below the old dam, the dog ran directly up the stream
till he came to the place where the little rill from the hidden hole
joined it; then he scrambled in among the thick willows.

We were a little way behind, and knowing that the dog would soon come
out at the mill-pond, we climbed up the bank among the low pines on the
hither side of the brook.

Tyro was not a noisy dog, but a few moments after he entered the thicket
we heard him give one little bark, as if of joy.

"He's found him!" whispered Kate. "Let's keep still!"

Nothing happened for some minutes; then we saw Addison's head appear
among the brush, as if to look around. For some time he stood there,
still as a mouse, peering about and listening. Evidently he suspected
that some one was with the dog, most likely Thomas, and that he had gone
to the mill-pond to fish; but we were not more than fifty feet away,
lying up in the thick pine brush.

After looking and listening for a long while, Addison drew back into the
thicket, but soon reappeared with two large trout, and was hurrying away
down the brook when we all shouted, "Oho!"

Addison stopped, looking both sheepish and wrathful; but we pounced on
him, laughing so much that he was compelled to own up that he was
beaten. He showed us the hole--after we had crept into the thicket--and
the ledge where he had sat so many times to fish. "But there are only
four more big trout," he said. "I meant to leave them here, and put in
twenty smaller ones to grow up."

The girls thought it best to do so, and Halstead and I agreed to the
plan; but three or four days later, when Theodora, Ellen and Addison
went over to see the hole again, we found that the four large trout had
disappeared. We always suspected that Thomas caught them, or that he
told the Murch boys or Alfred Batchelder of the hole. Yet an otter may
possibly have found it. In May, two years afterward, Halstead and I
caught six very pretty half-pound trout there, but no one since has ever
found such a school of beauties as Addison discovered.



During the next week there was what is termed by Congregationalists a
"Conference Meeting," at the town of Hebron, distant fifteen miles from
the Old Squire's. Gram and he made it a rule to attend these meetings;
and on this occasion they set off on Monday afternoon with old Sol and
the light driving wagon, in Sunday attire, and did not return till the
following Monday. Wealthy went with them; but the rest of us young folks
were left, with many instructions, to keep house and look after things
at the farm.

Haying was now over; and the wheat and barley were in; but an acre more
of late-sown oats still remained to be harvested, also an acre of
buckwheat. There was not a little solicitude felt for this acre of
buckwheat. With it were connected visions of future buckwheat cakes and
maple sirup. I was assured by Ellen and the others who had come to the
farm in advance of me, that the maple molasses and candy "flapjacks,"
made on pans of hard snow, during the previous spring, had been
something to smack one's mouth for.

The Old Squire had bidden Addison, who was practically in charge, to mow
the oats on Tuesday, and the buckwheat on Thursday, if the weather
continued good. Asa Doane was coming to assist us. The oats were to be
turned on Wednesday and drawn in on Friday. The buckwheat would need to
lie in the swath till the next week and be turned once or twice, in
order to cure properly.

We had also a half acre of weeds to pull, in a part of the potato field
which had thus far been hoed but once; and an acre of stubble to clear
of stones, preparatory to ploughing. The Old Squire did not believe that
abundant leisure is good for boys, left alone under such circumstances.

"If you get the loose stones all off the stubble and have time, you can
begin to draw off the stone heaps from the piece which we are going to
break up in the south field," he said finally, as he got into the wagon
and took the reins to drive away. But he laughed when he said it; and
Addison laughed, too; for we thought that he had already laid out a long
stint for us. Halstead was grumbling about it to himself. "Wonder if he
thinks we can do a whole season's work in a week," he exclaimed,
spitefully. "Never saw such a man to lay off work! Wants a week to play
in, himself, but expects us to stay at home and dig like slaves!"

"Oh, he doesn't want us to hurt ourselves," said Addison. "He will be
satisfied if we manage the grain, the weeds and the stones on the
stubble. It really isn't so very much for four of us. We could do it in
one half the time, by working smart, and have the rest of the time to
play in."

Gram had left corresponding work for the girls, indoors, besides
cooking, getting the three daily meals and caring for the dairy.

We set to work that afternoon and pulled the weeds, finishing this task
before five o'clock. Ellen had found time to make a brief call on Kate
Edwards; and at supper, she informed us that Tom had invited us all to
come to his "fort," that evening. "He is going to have a fire there and
roast some of his early Pine Knot corn," continued Ellen. "He says he
has got a whole basketful of ears, all nice in the milk and ready to

"Where is his 'fort?'" I inquired, for this was the first that I had
heard of such a fortification, although the others appeared to know
something about it.

"Oh, Tom thinks he has got a great fort over there!" said Halse. "It's
no more a fort, like some I've seen, than our sheep pen!"

"Oh, but it is," replied Ellen. "It is a terribly rocky place. Nobody
can get into it, if Tom hasn't a mind to let them."

"Pooh!" exclaimed Halse. "One little six pound cannon would knock it all
down over his head."

"I don't think so," persisted Ellen.

"What do you know about cannon?" cried Halse.

"Well, I don't know much about them," replied Ellen. "But I do not
believe that a small cannon would knock down rocks as big as this

This argument increased my curiosity, and Addison now told me something
about the so-called fortress. "It is a queer sort of place," said he; "a
kind of knoll, with four or five prodigious great rocks around it. I
guess we never have been over there since you came, though we passed in
sight of it the day we went to dig out the foxes. It is on the line
between Mr. Edwards' south field on one side, and the woods of our
pasture where those big yellow birches and rock maples are, on the
other. Those great rocks lie close together there, on that little knoll,
just as if they had been dropped down there like so many big kernels of
corn in a hill.

"From what I have read about geology," continued Addison, reflectively,
"I think it is likely that some mighty glacier, in long past ages, piled
them there. One could imagine that a giant had placed them there, or had
dropped them, accidentally out of his big leather apron, as he strode
across the continent, in early times."

"Oh, hear him!" cried Halse. "Ad will be out giving lectures on geology

"No," said Addison, laughing, "I don't want to give lectures. I don't
know how the rocks got there, but they got there somehow, for there they
are. Two of them, as Nell says, are almost as large as a house; and they
all stand around, irregularly, enclosing a sort of little space inside
them, as large as--how big is it, Doad?"

"Oh, I should think that it was as large as our sitting-room," she

"It is bigger than that," said Ellen. "It is as big as the sitting-room
and parlor together."

"Perhaps it is," assented Theodora. "But it isn't like rooms at all; it
is an odd place and there are nooks like little side rooms running back
between where the sides of the great rocks approach each other. It is a
real pleasant place, sort of gigantic and rustic. I don't wonder that
Thomas and Kate like to go there."

"None of these big rocks quite touch together," continued Addison, "but
Tom has built up between them with stones, all around, except one narrow
place which he calls the fort gate. He has built up all the open places,
six or seven feet high, so that it is really like a fort: and he has
made a stone fireplace against one of the rocks inside, with a little
chimney of flat stones running up the side of the rock, so that he can
have a fire there without being plagued by the smoke."

"And he's got a woodpile in there," said Ellen, "and seats to sit on,
round his fireplace. It is a cozy place, I tell you; the wind doesn't
strike you at all in there; and the knoll is quite a good deal higher
than the ground about it. You climb up a little path and turn the corner
of one big rock, and then go in between that one and another, for
fifteen or twenty feet, till you come to the open place inside, where
the fireplace is. Tom and Kate gave a little party there last fall. Tom
was a number of days building the fireplace and the wall and getting
ready. We all went there one evening and Kate and I played there one
afternoon, a week after that. But I guess they haven't been there at
all this spring and summer. I haven't heard them say anything about it
for a long time, till this afternoon. 'Tell the boys and Doad to come
over here this evening,' Tom said, as I was coming away. 'I'm going to
roast corn down at my fort to-night.'"

"Let's all go over after it gets dark and storm his fort!" exclaimed
Halse. "We can take sods and pitch them over the rocks into his fort
after he gets in there and is roasting corn!"

"I don't think that would be a very polite way of accepting his
invitation," said Theodora.

"That would be contrary to all the laws of war, to storm a neighboring
nation's fort, before war was declared!" said Addison, laughing. "That
would be a sad piece of international treachery."

"Oh, dear, only hear the big words roll out!" cried Halse. "Ad's a
walking dictionary."

"Well, dictionaries are always handy to have about," said Theodora,
smoothing away the rudeness of this ill-natured remark. Addison did not
mind, however; it was only occasionally that Halse's flings disturbed

"Yes, let's all go," said he. "We will get our milking off early and our
chores done. Then we will take a lantern and start; for it will be nine
o'clock before we get back home, and we shall have to go through the
little piece of woods between here and the Aunt Hannah lot."

The girls had prepared a nice supper. Ellen had been making pop-overs,
and Theodora had fried a great panful of crispy doughnuts. They cut a
sage cheese to go with these; and rather unwisely Ellen made a pot of
fresh coffee. It tasted much better than that which we ordinarily had at
breakfast; for she roasted the coffee, then ground it smoking hot from
the oven, and poured it into the pot before it had time to lose its
delicate aroma. They set on a brimming pitcherful of cream to put in it;
and we each had two cupfuls, at table, in consequence of which we all
felt very bright and jolly throughout the evening. But this was not a
wise procedure, from a hygienic point of view; I scarcely slept at all
that night.

In the twilight we loaded our pockets with early apples, then went
across the fields, through the pasture and over the hill, toward the
fort. The great trees in the Aunt Hannah lot pasture favored a covert
approach, and we drew near, very quietly, to surprise our friends. It
was now dusk, and halting under a great beech, we reconnoitered the
rocks on the knoll for some moments. Smoke was rising from out the fort;
at least we could smell it; and presently a pale gleam of firelight
shone up into the leafy top of a great black cherry tree which stood
within the space enclosed by the rocks. But not a word could we hear
spoken inside, or about the fort.

"Perhaps Kate hasn't come down from the house yet," Ellen said. "Let's
steal up softly till we are at the foot of the knoll; then you boys rush
up the path and surprise Tom. Shout 'Surrender, your fort is ours!' as
you rush in."

We approached, apparently without being discovered, and then emerging
suddenly from under the shadow of the great trees, ran up the path and
around the corner of the rock at the gateway with tumultuous cheers!

But we soon found that instead of surprising the fort, we had been
beguiled into a trap, ourselves. Kate and Tom had guessed our tactics,
in advance, and were watching us all the while. We rushed into the
narrow passage, but found our progress arrested there by four or five
stout bars; and then bang! went Tom's gun, from the rocks over our
heads. He and Kate were both up there in a strong position; and Tom's
only response to our shouts was, "Throw down your arms or we will open
fire on you with grape and canister!"

"We may as well surrender," said Addison, laughing. "Nell, you proved a
very bad general. You've lost your whole army before striking a single

"So I see," replied Ellen. "I'm disgraced and shall be superseded at

In 1866 the circumstance of superseding one general by another was still
very familiar in the minds of every one, old and young, in the United

We were now admitted to the fort. To me, at that time, Tom's fort was a
great novelty. I present a photograph of it, as the knoll and rocks now
appear; but the walls have mostly fallen down. I believe that the place
was stormed once by a party of boys who broke down much of the light
stone wall, in imitation of sieges, in ancient warfare. But that evening
it was all new to me and made a lasting impression on my boyish fancy.
They had a fire burning; and a row of short Pine Knot corn ears stood
roasting in front of it. There were two long seats consisting each of a
board placed on piles of flat stones with another board for the back,
held in its place by short stakes, driven into the ground. The light
shone on the great rough sides of the schistose rocks and on the trunks
of the cherry tree and two white birch trees inside the enclosed space.
It was so much shut in as to seem like a room in a house; yet overhead
the stars could be seen shining. Sufficient warmth was radiated from the
fire to make us all quite comfortable as we sat around.

Kate had brought down a large ball of butter and half a dozen
case-knives. We buttered our corn and feasted on it, then finished off
on Early Sweet Bough, Sweet Harvey and August Pippin apples. After every
few minutes, Tom would ascend, by stone steps which he had built up, to
the top of the largest rock of the group, to see if any "enemies" were
about, as he said. It was possible that Alfred Batchelder, or the Murch
boys, or Ned Wilbur, might come around and scale the wall.

As we sat by the fire, regaling ourselves, we talked after the manner of
the young to whom everything under the sun looks possible of
achievement, to whom life looks long enough for every plan that tickles
the fancy and to whom as yet the hard experiences of life have
administered few rebuffs.

Oh, for that splendid courage of youth again! that joyous confidence
that everything can be done! It is the heritage of young hearts. It is
given us but once; and it was then ours.

"I would like to command a strong, big fort on the frontier of the
country," exclaimed Tom. "The enemy wouldn't surprise me. I would be
ready for them. If they attacked me they would get it hot, I tell you!

"I mean to study and try to get an appointment to West Point," he
continued, enthusiastically. "Then I may command a fort somewheres. I
tell you, West Point is the place to go! Don't you say so, Ad?"

"It is a good place to get a military education," replied Addison. "And
a military education is a great thing to have, if there is a war. But
there may never be another war, Tom; most of folks hope there will not
be; but I shouldn't much wonder if there were another, before many

"Oh, I hope not," exclaimed Theodora, fervently. In fact, the Civil War
with its sad afflictions was still too fresh in the minds of all in our
family to be spoken of without a sense of bereavement.

"But I don't think that I should like a military life altogether,"
continued Addison. "Promotion is dreadfully slow, unless there's war;
and even after you are a general, there is no money in it. I want to go
into something that will give me all the money I want; and I want a lot
of it."

"I had rather have fame than money," exclaimed Tom. "Nothing makes
anybody feel so good, as to know that folks are saying, 'He did a big
thing. Nobody else could have done it.'"

"Tom, you want to be a hero," said Theodora.

"Well, I do," replied Tom. "I don't want to be such a hero as there are
in novels. But I want to do something that will put me right up in the

I remember that I felt much like that myself, but did not quite like to
say so outright.

"The trouble is that in common every-day life there do not seem to be
many chances to do great things," remarked Addison, thoughtfully. "There
are always a few distinguished men, like General Grant, General Sherman
and President Lincoln, but only a few. There couldn't be a thousand
famous men in a nation at once. We couldn't think of so many, even if
they all had done great deeds. We could not even remember the names of
so many heroes. So it is pretty plain that only a few, five or six,
perhaps, of the millions of boys and girls in the country, can be really
famous. All the rest have got to take a lower place and make the best of
it. But if a fellow can plan and carry out enterprises to make lots of
money, he can do a great deal with it in the world."

"I don't care just for money!" cried Tom again; "I want to _do_

"Tom, you ought to be an explorer," said Theodora; "a discoverer, like
Livingstone, or Sir John Franklin, or Dr. Kane. If you could discover
the North Pole, or a new race of people in Africa, you would be famous."

"I should like that," exclaimed Tom. "I should like to make a voyage up
north. I can stand any amount of cold; and I never saw the sun so hot
yet that I couldn't work, or run a mile, under it. Those folks that get
sun-struck must be sort of sick, pindling fellows, I guess."

"Tom, I think that you would make a real go-ahead explorer," said Ellen.
"I hope you will stick to it."

"Well, it takes money to fit out exploring expeditions," said Addison.
"But there are other discoveries fully as important as those in the far
north, or in Africa; discoveries in science bring the best kind of fame,
like those of Franklin, Morse, Tyndall, Darwin and Pasteur. There is no
end to the discoveries that can be made in science. It is the great
field for explorers, I think. Grand new discoveries will be made right
along now, and the more there are made the more there will be made; for
one scientific discovery always seems to open the way to another."

"Oh, but I don't know anything about science," exclaimed Tom. "I don't
believe I ever shall."

"No one does without hard study," replied Addison. "But any one can
afford to study if by doing so some splendid new invention can be
brought about."

"Dora, what are we girls going to do?" said Kate, laughing. "It makes me
feel lonesome to hear the boys talk of the great exploits they mean to

"There doesn't seem to be so much that girls can do," replied Theodora,
with a sigh. "Still, I know of one thing I wish to do very much," she
continued with a glance at Addison.

"What is it?" said Tom. "What are you going to astonish the world with?"

"Oh, I haven't the courage to talk about it," replied Theodora. "And it
looks so hard to me and I shall need to study so long to get prepared,
that I sometimes think I never shall do it."

"Well, girls can all make school-mistresses," said Addison.

"Kate is going to make something besides a school-mistress," said Ellen.
"Kate means to study chemistry and be a chemist."

"She said last winter that she meant to learn how to telegraph and be a
telegraph operator," said Halse, laughing.

"Yes, I did," replied Kate, coldly. "But I have changed my mind. I
don't know much about chemistry yet, but I think I like it. I mean to
study it and I mean to learn all about drugs, too, and have a pharmacy
in some large pleasant town. I'll make as much money as Addison; for I
think money is a great thing."

"Shall you have a soda-fountain in your drug store and sell soda with a
'stick' in it?" asked Halse.

"I don't think so," replied Kate. "But if I do, I shall hire somebody
like you to tend the 'stick' part of it."

Halse had sat poking fun at all the others, while they talked of their
plans, pretending to be on the point of fainting away, when Addison, Tom
and Theodora discussed different pursuits in life; and this retort from
Kate hit him hard; he was angry. "I would not work for anyone with a
tongue like yours," he exclaimed.

"Never mind," replied Kate. "We will not quarrel about that now. It is
rather too far ahead. It will take you years and years to get education
enough to tend a soda-fountain," she added, mischievously. "Perhaps you
know enough already about putting the 'stick' in it, as you call it; I'm
rather afraid you do from what I heard your friend Alfred Batchelder say
a few days ago. It doesn't sound well for little boys like you to talk
about 'sticks' in soda."

Halse usually fared ill when he attempted jokes at Kate's expense. It
seemed odd to the rest of us that he did not learn to avoid such
efforts; but he never did; he was always worsted, promptly, and always
got angry. "Tom, if I had such a sister as you've got, I'd tie a hot
potato in her mouth," he exclaimed.

"She is a terrible girl," said Tom, with a wink. "Her tongue is just
like a new whalebone whip with a silk snapper on it. Takes the skin
right off. But as she is all the sister I've got, I try to put up with

"She is a pretty good sister," he added, going across where Kate sat and
sitting down beside her. "I don't know what I should do without her."

"Thank you, Tommy dear," said Kate. "I know now that you want me to coax
father to let you take 'White-foot' (their colt) to the Fair. Perhaps I
will; but it will not amount to anything. You will not get a premium on
White-foot, if you take him. He isn't big and handsome enough. You've
looked at him till your eyes think he is, but he isn't. I shall not tell
father that I think he will take a premium, because I want father to
respect my judgment more than that."

"Kate, you don't know anything about colts!" cried Tom. "That's the best
colt in this town!"

"O my! O my!" groaned Kate. "Once let a boy begin to dote on a colt,
particularly if he calls it _his_ colt, and he can soon see beauty,
size, speed, everything else in it, in matchless perfection. It's a kind
of disease, a horse-disease that gets into his eye. Tom's got it badly.
Please excuse his boasting!

"Here, Tom, pass this nice buttered ear of corn over to Halse, and tell
him that I didn't mean to hurt his feelings--quite so badly," she added.
"I only meant to hurt them a little."

This was like Kate; she would always talk like that; but she rarely said
more than was true and never treasured up ill-feeling, nor wished others
to do so.

But Halse would not accept her peace-offering.

"Ah, well," sighed Ellen, "I really am afraid that there is nothing I
shall ever be able to do that will bring me either fame or money. I
cannot think of a thing that I am good for."

"Oh, yes, there is!" cried Addison. "You have a sure hand on pop-overs,
Nell, pop-overs and cookies."

"Right, Ad, I can make pop-overs," replied Ellen, laughing. "Perhaps I
can get a living, cooking."

"Well, that is a pretty important thing, I think," remarked Thomas,
candidly. "Somebody must know how to cook, and I like to have victuals
taste good."

"I do not think those who cook get much credit for their labors," said
Kate. "Mother and I are cooking every day and our men folks come in, sit
down at table and swallow it all, with never a word of praise when we
cook well; but if we make a mistake, and bread, or cake, or pie does not
taste quite right, then they will growl and look at us as surly as if we
had never cooked well in all our lives. I think that is rather hard
usage and poor thanks for long service. Mother does not mind it. 'Oh,
that is something you must get used to, Kate,' she says to me. 'Men
folks always behave so. We never get much praise for our cooking.' But I
do mind it. When I've made a nice batch of tea rolls, or cakes, I want
them to know it and to act as if they appreciated it."

"That is just the way it is at our house," said Ellen.

"Yes," remarked Theodora. "The only way our boys ever show that they
appreciate our good biscuit, or cake, is by eating about twice as much
of it, which of course makes it all the harder for us to cook more. When
we get a poor batch of bread it will last twice as long as good;--that's
one comfort."

"Why, Doad, I never heard you talk like that before," said Halse, with a
look of surprise.

"No more did I," remarked Addison. "Theodora, I am scandalized."

"I know it is horrid," she replied. "But I have thought it, if I never
have said it, many and many a time, when I've nearly roasted myself over
the hot stove, this summer, and thought I had enough cooked to last two
days, at least; and then in would march you three hungry boys, to table,
and eat it all up, eat my whole panful of doughnuts and finish off with
eight or ten cookies apiece, just because they were good, or a little
better than usual. If they had been a little poorer they would have
lasted two days, surely."

"Doad, you are getting positively wicked," said Addison. "I don't see
what has come over you. You are not yourself."

"She is only telling the cold truth," exclaimed Kate. "Boys all seem to
think that victuals grow ready cooked in the house somewheres, and that
the more they can eat the better it ought to suit us. Here's Tom, a
pretty good sort of boy generally, but he will come into the pantry,
after he has been racing about out-of-doors, and commit ravages that it
will take me hours of hot, hateful work to repair. Oh, he is a perfect
pantry scourge, a doughnut-and-cooky terror! Why, I have had what I knew
must be half a big panful of doughnuts, or cookies, enough for supper
and breakfast, certainly; and then about three or four o'clock of a hot
August afternoon, I would hear Tom's boots clumpering in the pantry, and
by the time I would get there, he would be just sneaking out, grinning
like a Chessy-cat, with his old mouth full and his pockets bulging out.
I will look in my pan and there will not be enough left to put on a
plate once! Then I know I have got to build a fire, get on my old floury
apron and go at it again, when I've just got cool and comfortable, after
my day's work!

"When he does that, I sometimes think I don't know whether I love him
well enough to cook for him, or not. For when he is hungry and comes
tearing in like that, he will carry off more than he can eat. His eyes
want all he sees. He will carry off lots more than he can possibly eat;
I've found it, time and again, laid up out in the wood-shed; and once I
found eight of my doughnuts hid in a hole in the garden wall. He thought
that he could eat the whole panful, but found that he couldn't."

"Oh, that was only laying up a store against days of famine," said Tom,
calmly. "Some days the pantry is awfully bare; and Kate, too, has a
caper of hiding the victuals. I call that a plaguey mean trick--when a
fellow's hungry! I clear the pan when I do find it, to get square with

"Well," Addison remarked, "the girls have presented their side of the
work pretty strongly; but I rather guess the boys could say something on
their side;--how they have to work in the hot sun, all day long, to
plough and harrow and sow and plant and hoe the crops, to get the bread
stuff to cook into food. The girls want cooked victuals, too, as well as
we. The hot, hard work isn't all on one side."

"That's so!" echoed Tom and Halse, fervently.

"I often come in tired, hot and sweaty after a drink of water, in the
sweltering summer afternoons, and find our girls in the cool
sitting-room, rocking by the windows, looking as comfortable as you
please, reading novels," continued Addison.

"That's so!" we boys exclaimed.

"Not that I grudge them their comfort," Addison went on, laughing. "I
don't. I like to see them comfortable. Besides girls ought not to work
so hard and long as boys; they are not so strong, nor so well able to
work in the heat. But I think that a great deal of the hardship that
Kate and Doad and Nell complain of, about cooking over the hot stove, is
due to a bad method which all the women hereabouts seem to follow. They
cook twice every day. Fact, they seem to be cooking all the time. They
all do their cooking in stoves, with small ovens that will not hold more
than three or four pies, or a couple of loaves of bread at once. By the
next day they have to bake again, and so on. In summer, particularly,
their faces are red from bending over the hot stove about half the

"But what would you do, Addison?" asked Theodora.

"I'll tell you what I would do," replied Addison. "I would do just what
I suggested to Gram last spring. The old lady was getting down to peep
into the stove oven and hopping up again about every two minutes. She
looked tired and her face was as red as a peony. 'Gram,' said I, 'I'll
tell you what I'll do, if you want me to. I'll take the oxen and cart
and go over to the Aunt Hannah lot, and draw home some brick there are
in an old chimney over there; and then we will get a cask of lime and
some sand for mortar, and have a mason come half a day and build you a
good big brick oven, beside the wash-room chimney. It can be seven or
eight feet long by four or five wide, big enough to bake all the pies,
bread, pork and beans and most of the meat you want to cook for us, in a
week. Then after you have baked, Saturday afternoon, you no need to have
much more cooking to do till the next Saturday. All you need do over the
stove will be to make coffee and tea, boil eggs and potatoes once in a
while and warm up the food.' 'There's an oven that goes with the
sitting-room chimney,' said she; 'I used always to bake in it; but
somehow I have got out of the way of it, since we began to use stoves.'
I couldn't get her to say that she wanted an oven, so I did nothing
about it. But I know it would be a great deal easier, after she got the
habit of it again."

"But how could you have hot tea-rolls every night and morning, Addison,
with an oven like that?" asked Ellen.

"I should not want them, myself," replied Addison. "They nearly always
smell so strongly of soda that I do not like them; and I do not think
they are wholesome. For my own part I like bread better, or bread made
into toast."

"Well, Ad, I think that sounds like a pretty good plan," said Kate.
"Mother has an oven, too; but we never use it now, except to smoke bacon
in. I think it would save us a great deal of hard work, if we baked in
it once a week."

"Hark," said Tom, suddenly.

Far aloft, overhead, a faint "quark-quock" was heard.

"'Tis a flock of wild geese, going over," said Addison. "It's early in
the season for them to be on their way to the south."

"Gram says that's a sign of an early winter," said Ellen.

We sat listening to the occasional quiet note of the flock gander for
some moments till they passed out of hearing toward the lake. Addison
then lighted our lantern; and after accompanying Tom and Kate a part of
the way to the Edwards place, across the fields, we bade them good night
and made our own way home.

Neighbor Wilbur had called at the door, during the evening, and left our
mail on the doorstep. There was a letter for me from my mother, and also
a circular from some swindling fellow in "Gotham," informing me most
positively that for the sum of one dollar, a powder would be forwarded
to me by mail, which, when dissolved and applied to my upper lip, would
produce a moustache in the course of three or four weeks. I laid it
away, thinking that I was perhaps not quite old enough for so ambitious
an effort, but that it might be of importance to me, later.

We went to "Tom's fort" again on Wednesday evening; and I remember that
one of the stones in the fireplace exploded that night. It burst in
several pieces with a sharp report like that of a pistol. One of these
hit Halse, scorching his wrist somewhat. At first we thought that
someone had mischievously put powder in the fireplace; but after
examining the pieces of stone carefully, Addison decided that it had
burst from some unequal expansion of its substance, or of moisture in
it, due to the heat.

That night, too, those long-delayed ambrotypes came home from artist
Lockett. Lockett sent them up to us by Mr. Edwards, who had driven to
the village that day.

In the sitting-room, that evening, after returning from the "fort," we
examined them with great interest, each anxious to see what the result
had been to us, personally. Halstead, I recollect, was wofully
disappointed in his. Truth to say, the picture was far from good; and it
is supposed that he destroyed it, later, in a fit of pique, for it
mysteriously disappeared.

Indeed, the history of that day's little crop of ambrotypes is rather
tragic. The Old Squire's and Gram's, alas, were lost in the farmhouse
fire (1883). Addison's and Theodora's shared the same fate. Ellen lent
hers to her first sweetheart, a college student named Cobb, at Colby
University. He was unfortunately drowned a few months later; and for
some cause the ambrotype was not returned. Little Wealthy's alone has
survived the vicissitudes of time.

The pictures in this book are mainly from photographs taken



Truth to say, we had a pretty "high time" that week. When not at Tom's
fort evenings, our youthful neighbors came to our house. Sweet corn was
in the "milk;" and early apples, pears and plums were ripe. We roasted
corn ears and played hide-and-seek by moonlight, over the house,
wagon-house, wood-shed, granary and both barns.

I am inclined to believe that the Old Squire did not leave work enough
to keep us properly out of that idleness which leads to mischief. For on
the afternoon of the fourth day, we broke one wheel of the ox cart and
hay rack, while "coasting" in it. There was a long slope in the east
field; and we coasted there, all getting into the cart and letting it
run down backwards, dragging the "tongue" on the ground behind it: not
the proper manner of using a heavy cart.

After we had coasted down, we hauled the cart back with the oxen which
we yoked for the purpose. The wheel was broken on account of the cart
running off diagonally and striking a large stone.

We were obliged to own up to the matter on the Old Squire's return. He
said little; but after considering the matter over night, he held a
species of moot court in the sitting-room, heard all the evidence and
then, good-humoredly, "sentenced" Addison, Halstead and myself to work
on the highway that fall till we had earned enough to repair the wheel,
six dollars; and speaking for myself, it was the most salutary bit of
correction which I ever received; it led me to feel my personal
responsibility for damage done foolishly.

But it is not of the broken cart wheel, or hide-and-seek by moonlight,
that I wish to speak here, but of another diversion next day, and of a
mysterious stranger who arrived at nick of time to participate in it.

Generally speaking, Theodora did not excel as a cook. She was much more
fond of reading than of housework and domestic duties, although at the
farm she always did her share conscientiously. Ellen had a greater
natural bent toward cookery.

But there was one article of food which Theodora could prepare to
perfection and that was fried pies. Such at least was the name we had
for them; and we boys thought that if "Doad" had known how to do nothing
else in the world but fry pies, she would still be a shining success in
life. We esteemed her gift all the more highly for the reason that it
was extra-hazardous. Making fried pies is nearly as dangerous as working
in a powder-mill; those who have made them will understand what this
means. I know a housewife who lost the sight of one of her eyes from a
fried pie explosion. In another instance fully half the kitchen ceiling
was literally coated with smoking hot fat, from the frying-pan, thrown
up by the bursting of a pie.

Let not a novice like myself, however, presume to descant on the subject
of fried pies to the thousands who doubtless know all the details of
their manufacture. Theodora first prepared her dough, sweetened and
mixed like ordinary doughnut dough, rolled it like a thick pie crust and
then enclosed the "filling," consisting of mince-meat, or stewed apple,
or gooseberry, or plum, or blackberry; or perhaps peach, raspberry, or
preserved cherries. Only such fruits must be cooked and the pits or
stones of plums or peaches carefully removed. The edges of the dough
were wet and dexterously crimped together, so that the pie would not
open in frying.

Then when the big pan of fat on the stove was just beginning to get
smoking hot, the pies were launched gently in at one side and allowed to
sink and rise. And about that time it was well to be watchful; for there
was no telling just when a swelling, hot pie might take a fancy to enact
the role of a bomb-shell and blow the blistering hot fat on all sides.

After suffering from a bad burn on one of her wrists the previous
winter, Theodora had learned not to take chances with fried pies. She
had a face mask which Addison had made for her, from pink pasteboard,
and a pair of blue goggles for the eyes, which some member of the family
had once made use of for snow blindness. The mask as I remember wore an
irresistible grin.

When ready to begin frying two dozen pies, Theodora donned the mask and
goggles and put on a pair of old kid gloves. Then if spatters of hot fat
flew, she was none the worse;--but it was quite a sight to see her
rigged for the occasion. The goggles were of portentous size, and we
boys used to clap and cheer when she made her appearance.

As an article of diet, perhaps, fried pies could hardly be commended for
invalids; but to a boy who had been working hard, or racing about for
hours in the fresh air out of doors, they were simply delicious and went
exactly to the right spot. Few articles of food are more appetizing to
the eye than the rich doughnut brown of a fine fried pie.

That forenoon we coaxed Theodora and Ellen to fry a batch of three
dozen, and two "Jonahs;" and the girls, with some misgivings as to what
Gram would say to them for making such inroads on "pie timber," set
about it by ten o'clock. Be it said, however, that "closeness" in the
matter of daily food was not one of Gram's faults. She always laid in a
large supply of "pie timber" and was not much concerned for fear of a

They filled half a dozen with mince-meat, half a dozen with stewed
gooseberry, and then half a dozen each, of crab apple jelly, plum, peach
and blackberry. They would not let us see what they filled the "Jonahs"
with, but we knew that it was a fearful load. Generally it was with
something shockingly sour, or bitter. The "Jonahs" looked precisely like
the others and were mixed with the others on the platter which was
passed at table, for each one to take his or her choice. And the rule
was that whoever got the "Jonah pie" must either eat it, or crawl under
the table for a foot-stool for the others during the rest of the meal!

What they actually put in the two "Jonahs," this time, was wheat bran
mixed with cayenne pepper--an awful dose such as no mortal mouth could
possibly bear up under! It is needless to say that the girls usually
kept an eye on the Jonah pie or placed some slight private mark on it,
so as not to get it themselves.

When we were alone and had something particularly good on the table,
Addison and Theodora had a habit of making up rhymes about it, before
passing it around, and sometimes the rest of us attempted to join in the
recreation, generally with indifferent success. Kate Edwards had come in
that day, and being invited to remain to our feast of fried pies, was
contributing her wit to the rhyming contest, when chancing to glance out
of the window, Ellen espied a gray horse and buggy with the top turned
back, standing in the yard, and in the buggy a large elderly,
dark-complexioned man, a stranger to all of us, who sat regarding the
premises with a smile of shrewd and pleasant contemplation.

"Now who in the world can that be?" exclaimed Ellen in low tones. "I do
believe he has overheard some of those awful verses you have been making

"But someone must go to the door," Theodora whispered. "Addison, you go
out and see what he has come for."

"He doesn't look just like a minister," said Halstead.

"Nor just like a doctor," Kate whispered. "But he is somebody of
consequence, I know, he looks so sort of dignified and experienced."

"And what a good, old, broad, distinguished face," said Ellen.

Thus their sharp young eyes took an inventory of our caller, who, I may
as well say here, was Hannibal Hamlin, recently Vice-President of the
United States and one of the most famous anti-slavery leaders of the
Republican party before the Civil War.

The old Hamlin homestead, where Hannibal Hamlin passed his boyhood, was
at Paris Hill, Maine, eight or ten miles to the eastward of the Old
Squire's farm; he and the Old Squire had been young men together, and at
one time quite close friends and classmates at Hebron Academy.

In strict point of fact, Mr. Hamlin's term of office as Vice-President
with Abraham Lincoln, had expired; and at this time he had not entered
on his long tenure of the Senatorship from Maine. Meantime he was
Collector of Customs for the Port of Boston, but a few days previously
had resigned this lucrative office, being unwilling longer to endorse
the erratic administrative policy of President Andrew Johnson by holding
an appointment from him.

In the interim he was making a brief visit to the scenes of his boyhood
home, and had taken a fancy to drive over to call on the Old Squire. But
we of the younger and lately-arriving generation, did not even know
"Uncle Hannibal" by sight and had not the slightest idea who he was.
Addison went out, however, and asked if he should take his horse.

"Why, Joseph S---- still lives here, does he not?" queried Mr. Hamlin,
regarding Addison's youthful countenance inquiringly.

"Yes, sir," replied Addison. "I am his grandson."

"Ah, I thought you were rather young for one of his sons," Mr. Hamlin
remarked. "I heard, too, that he had lost all his sons in the War."

"Yes, sir," Addison replied soberly.

Mr. Hamlin regarded him thoughtfully for a moment. "I used to know your
grandfather," he said. "Is he at home?"

Addison explained the absence of Gramp and Gram. "I am very sorry they
are away," he added.

"I am sorry, too," said Mr. Hamlin, "I wanted to see them and say a few
words to them." He began to turn his horse as if to drive away, but
Theodora, who was always exceedingly hospitable, had gone out and now
addressed our caller with greater cordiality.

"Will you not come in, sir?" she exclaimed. "Grandfather will be very
sorry! Do please stop a little while and let the boys feed your horse."

Mr. Hamlin regarded her with a paternal smile. "I will get out and walk
around a bit, to rest my legs," he replied.

Once he was out of the buggy, Addison and I took his horse to the
stable; and Theodora having first shown him the garden and the long row
of bee hives, led the way to the cool sitting-room, and domesticated him
in an easy chair. We heard her relating recent events of our family
history to him, and answering his questions.

Meantime the fried pies were waiting and getting cold; and when Addison
and I had returned from the stable, we all began to feel a little
impatient. Ellen and Kate set the pies in the oven, to keep them warm;
we did not like to begin eating them with company in the sitting-room,
and so lingered hungrily about, awaiting developments. "How long s'pose
he will stay!" Halse exclaimed crossly; and Addison began brushing up a
little, in order to go in and help do the honors of the house with

"He is a pretty nice old fellow," Addison remarked to Kate. "Have you
any idea who he is?"

But Kate, though born in the county, had never seen him. Just then the
sitting-room door opened, and we heard "Doad" saying, "We haven't much
for luncheon to-day, but fried pies, but we shall all be glad to have
you sit down with us."

"What an awful fib!" whispered Ellen behind her hand to Kate; and truth
to say, his coming had rather upset our anticipated pleasure; but Mr.
Hamlin had taken a great fancy to Theodora and was accepting her
invitation, with vast good-nature.

What a great dark man he looked, as he followed Theodora out to the

"These are my cousins that I have told you of," she was saying, and then
mentioned all our names to him and afterwards Kate's, although Mr.
Hamlin had not seen fit to tell us his own; we supposed that he was
merely some pleasant old acquaintance of Gramp's early years.

He was seated in Gramp's place at table and, after a brief flurry in the
kitchen, the big platterful of fried pies was brought in. What Ellen and
Theodora had done was, carefully to pick out the two "Jonahs" and lay
them aside. We were now all gathered around. Addison and Theodora
exchanged glances and there was a little pause of interrogation, in case
our caller might possibly be a clergyman, after all, and might wish to
say grace.

He evinced no disposition to do so, however; and laughing a little in
spite of herself, Doad raised the platter and assayed to pass it to our

"And are these the 'fried pies?'" he asked with the broadest of smiles.
"They resemble huge doughnuts. But I now remember that my mother used to
fry something like this, when I was a boy at home, over at Paris Hill;
and my recollection is that they were very good."

"Yes, the most of them are very good," said Addison, by way of making
conversation, "unless you happen to get the 'Jonah.'"

"And what's the 'Jonah?'" asked our visitor.

Amidst much laughter, this was explained to him--also the penalty. Mr.
Hamlin burst forth in a great shout of laughter, which led us to surmise
that he enjoyed fun.

"But we have taken the 'Jonahs' out of these," Theodora made haste to
reassure him.

"What for?" he exclaimed.

"Why--why--because we have company," stammered Doad, much confused.

"And spoil the sport?" cried our visitor. "Young lady, I want those
'Jonahs' put back."

"Oh, but they are awful 'Jonahs!'" pleaded Theodora.

"I want those 'Jonahs' put back," insisted Mr. Hamlin. "I shall have to
decline to lunch here, unless the 'Jonahs' are in their proper places.
Fetch in the 'Jonahs.'"

Very shamefaced, Ellen brought them in.

"No hokus-pokus now," cried our visitor, and nothing would answer, but
that we should all turn our backs and shut our eyes, while Kate put them
among the others in the platter.

It was then passed and all chose one. "Each take a good, deep mouthful,"
cried Mr. Hamlin, entering mirthfully into the spirit of the game.

We all bit, eight bites at once; as it chanced no one got a "Jonah," and
the eight fried pies rapidly disappeared.

"But these are good!" cried our visitor, "Mine was gooseberry." Then
turning to Theodora, "How many times can a fellow try for a 'Jonah'

"Five times!" replied Doad, laughing and not a little pleased with the

The platter was passed again, and again no one got bran and cayenne.

But at the third passing, I saw Kate start visibly when our visitor
chose his pie. "All ready. Bite!" he cried; and we bit! but at the first
taste he stopped short, rolled his eyes around and shook his head with
his capacious mouth full.

"Oh, but you need not eat it, sir!" cried Theodora, rushing round to
him. "You need not do anything!"

But without a word our bulky visitor had sunk slowly out of his chair
and pushing it back, disappeared under the long table.

For a moment we all sat, scandalized, then shouted in spite of
ourselves. In the midst of our confused hilarity, the table began to
oscillate; it rose slowly several inches, then moved off, rattling,
toward the sitting-room door! Our jolly visitor had it on his back and
was crawling ponderously but carefully away with it on his hands and
knees;--and the rest of us were getting ourselves and our chairs out of
the way! In fact, the remainder of that luncheon was a perfect gale of
laughter. The table _walked_ clean around the room and came very
carefully back to its original position.

After the hilarity had subsided, the girls served some very nice large,
sweet blackberries, which our visitor appeared to relish greatly. He
told us of his boyhood at Paris Hill; of his fishing for trout in the
brooks thereabouts, of the time he broke his arm and of the doctor who
set it so unskilfully that it had to be broken again and re-set; of the
beautiful tourmaline crystals which he and his brother found at Mt.
Mica; and of his school-days at Hebron Academy; and all with such
feeling and such a relish, that for an hour we were rapt listeners.

[Illustration: FRIED PIES.]

When at length he declared that he positively must be going on his way,
we begged him to remain over night, and brought out his horse with great

Before getting into the buggy, he took us each by the hand and saluted
the girls, particularly "Doad," in a truly paternal manner.

"I've had a good time!" said he. "I am glad to see you all here at this
old farm in my dear native state; but (and we saw the moisture start in
his great black eyes) it touches my heart more than I can tell you, to
know of the sad reason for your coming here. You have my heartiest

"Tell your grandparents, that I should have been very glad to see them,"
he added, as he got in the buggy and took the reins from Addison.

"But, sir," said Theodora, earnestly, for we were all crowding up to the
buggy, "grandfather will ask who it was that called."

"Oh, well, you can describe me to him!" cried Mr. Hamlin, laughing (for
he knew how cut up we should feel if he told us who he really was). "And
if he cannot make me out, you may tell him that it was an old fellow he
once knew, named Hamlin. Good-by." And he drove away. The name signified
little to us at the time.

"Well, whoever he is, he's an old brick!" said Halse, as the gray horse
and buggy passed between the high gate-posts, at the foot of the lane.

"I think he is just splendid!" exclaimed Kate, enthusiastically.

"And he has such a great, kind heart!" said Theodora.

When Gramp and Gram came home, we were not slow in telling them that a
most remarkable elderly man, named Hamlin, had called to see them, and
stopped to lunch with us.

"Hamlin, Hamlin," repeated the Old Squire, absently. "What sort of
looking man?"

Theodora and Ellen described him, with much zest.

"Why, Joseph, it must have been Hannibal!" cried Gram.

"So it was!" exclaimed Gramp. "Too bad we were not at home!"

"What! Not Hannibal Hamlin that was Vice-President of the United
States!" Addison almost shouted.

"Yes, Vice-President Hamlin," said the Old Squire.

And about that time, it would have required nothing much heavier than a
turkey's feather to bowl us all over. Addison looked at "Doad" and she
looked at Ellen and me. Halse whistled.

"Why, what did you say, or do, that makes you look so queer!" cried
Gram, with uneasiness. "I hope you behaved well to him. Did anything

"Oh, no, nothing much," said Ellen, laughing nervously. "Only he got the
'Jonah' pie and--and--we've had the Vice-President of the United States
under the table to put our feet on!"

Gram turned very red and was much disturbed. She wanted to have a letter
written that night, and try to apologize for us. But the Old Squire only
laughed. "I have known Mr. Hamlin ever since he was a boy," said he. "He
enjoyed that pie as well as any of them; no apology is needed."



Truth to say, farm work is never done, particularly on a New England
farm where a little of everything has to be undertaken and all kinds of
crops are raised, and where sheep, cattle, calves, colts, horses and
poultry have to be tended and provided with winter food, indoors. A
thrifty farmer has always a score of small jobs awaiting his hands.

There were now brakes to cut and dry for "bedding" at the barn, bushes
and briars to clear up along the fences and walls, and stone-heaps to
draw off, preparatory to "breaking up" several acres more of greensward.
The Old Squire's custom was to break up three or four acres, every
August, so that the turf would rot during the autumn. Potatoes were then
usually planted on it the ensuing spring, to be followed the next year
by corn and the next by wheat, or some other grain, when it was again
seeded down in grass.

About this time, too, the beans had to be pulled and stacked; and there
were always early apples to be gathered, for sale at the village stores.
Sometimes, too, the corn would be ripe enough to cut up and shock by the
5th or 6th of September; and immediately after came potato-digging,
always a heavy, dirty piece of farm work.

Not far from this time, "the thrashers" would make their appearance,
with "horse-power," "beater" and "separator," which were set up in the
west barn floor. These dusty itinerants usually remained with us for two
days and threshed the grain on shares: one bushel for every ten of
wheat, rye and barley and one for every twelve of oats. There were
always two of them; and for five or six years the same pair came to our
barn every fall: a sturdy old man, named Dennett, and his son-in-law,
Amos Moss. Dennett, himself, "tended beater" and Moss measured and
"stricted" the grain as it came from the separator;--and it was hinted
about among the farmers, that "Moss would bear watching."

We were kept very busy during those two days; Halse, I remember, was
first set to "shake down" the wheat off a high scaffold, for Dennett to
feed into the beater; while Addison and I got away the straw. I deemed
it great fun at first, to see the horses travel up the lags of the
horse-power incline, and hear the machine in action; but I soon found
that it was suffocatingly dusty work; our nostrils and throats as well
as our hair and clothing were much choked and loaded with dust.

We had been at work an hour or two, when suddenly an unusual snapping
noise issued from the beater; and Dennett abruptly stopped the machine.
After examining the teeth, he looked up where Halse stood on the
scaffold, shaking down, and said, "Look here, young man, I want you to
be more careful what you shake down here; we don't want to thrash

"I didn't shake down clubs," said Halse.

"A pretty big stick went through anyway," remarked Dennett. "I haven't
said you did it a-purpose. But I asked you to be more careful."

They went on again, for half or three-quarters of an hour, when there
was another odd noise, and Dennett again stopped and looked up sharply
at Halse. "Can't you see clubs as big as that?" said he. "Why, that's an
old tooth out of a loafer rake. You must mind what you are about."

Halse pretended that he had seen nothing in the grain; and the machine
was started again; but Addison and I could see Halse at times from the
place where we were at work, and noticed that he looked mischievous.
Addison shook his head at him, vehemently.

Nothing further happened that forenoon; but we had not been at work for
more than an hour, after dinner, when a shrill _thrip_ resounded from
the beater, followed by a jingling noise, and one of the short iron
teeth from it flew into the roof of the barn. Again Dennett stopped the
machine, hastily.

"What kind of a feller do you call yerself!" he exclaimed, looking very
hard up at Halse. "You threw that stone into the beater, you know you

"I didn't!" protested Halse. "You can't prove I did, either."

"I'd tan your jacket for ye, ef you was my boy," muttered Dennett,
wrathfully. He and Moss got wrenches from their tool-box and replaced
the broken tooth with a new one. The Old Squire, who had been looking to
the grain in the granary, came in and asked what the trouble was.

"Squire," said Dennett, "I want another man to shake down here for me.
That's a queer Dick you've put up there."

The Old Squire spoke to Addison to get up and shake out the grain and
bade Halse come down and assist me with the straw. Halse climbed down,
muttering to himself. "I want to get a drink of water," he said; and as
he went out past the beater, he made a saucy remark to Dennett;
whereupon the latter seized a whip-stock and aimed a blow at him. Halse
dodged it and ran. Dennett chased him out of the barn; and Halse took
refuge in the wood-shed.

The Old Squire was at first inclined to reprove Dennett for this
apparently unwarranted act; he considered that he had no right to
chastise Halse. "I will attend to that part of the business, myself," he
said, somewhat sharply.

"All right, Squire," said Dennett. "But I want you to understand you've
got a bad boy there. Throwing stones into a beater is rough business. He
might kill somebody."

Halse did not come back to help me, at once; and at length Gramp went to
the house, in search of him. Ellen subsequently told me, that Halse had
at first refused to come out, on the pretext that Dennett would injure
him. The Old Squire assured him that he should not be hurt. Still he
refused to go. Thereupon the old gentleman went in search of a
horsewhip, himself; and as a net result of the proceedings, Halse made
his appearance beside me, sniffing.

"I wish it had stove his old machine all to flinders and him with it,"
he said to me, revengefully.

"Did you throw the stone into the beater?" I asked. The machine made so
much noise that I did not distinctly hear what Halse replied, but I
thought that he denied doing it; and whether he actually did it, or
whether the stone slid down with the grain owing to his carelessness, I
never knew. Addison shook down till night; and the next day Asa Doane
came to help us; for the Old Squire deemed it too hard for boys of our
age to handle the grain and straw, unassisted.

In May, before I came to the farm, Addison and Halse had planted a large
melon bed, in the corn field, on a spot where a heap of barnyard
dressing had stood. There were both watermelons and musk-melons. These
had ripened slowly during August and, by the time of the September
town-meeting, were fit for eating.

The election for governor, with other State and county officers, was
held on the second Monday of September in Maine.

In order to raise a little pocket money, Addison and Halstead carried
their melons, also several bushels of good eating apples and pears, to
the town-house at the village, early on election day, and rigged a
little "booth" for selling from. They set off by sunrise, with old Nancy
harnessed in the express wagon.

As I had no part in the planting of the melons, I was not a partner in
the sales, although Gramp allowed me to go to the town-meeting with him,
later in the forenoon. The distance was seven miles from the farm.

The boys sold thirty melons at ten cents apiece and disposed of the most
of the apples at two for a cent and pears at a cent apiece; so that the
combined profits amounted to rather over seven dollars. Sales were so
good, that they had disposed of their entire stock by three o'clock in
the afternoon.

The polls were not closed, however, till sunset, that is to say voting
could legally continue till that time. Halse had called on Addison for a
division of the money, at about three o'clock, and received his share;
he then told Addison that he was going home. Addison preferred to
remain, to learn how the town had voted; for he was much interested in a
"temperance movement" which was agitating that portion of the State that

The Old Squire had returned home, shortly after noon, and gone into the
field to see to the digging of the potatoes. When we came in to supper,
at six o'clock, Addison was just coming up the lane, on his way home.

"No doubt Williams is elected!" were his first words.

Williams was the Republican and Temperance candidate for representative
to the State legislature. Addison was much elated; and after we sat down
to supper, he began telling Theodora about the town-meeting; for some
moments none of us noticed that one chair was empty. Then Gram said,
"Where's Halstead?"

"I don't know," said the Old Squire, suddenly glancing at the vacant
seat. "Didn't he come home with you, Addison?"

"No, sir," replied Ad. "He went home afoot, a little while after you
left; at any rate he said that he was going home. I haven't seen him

"I don't think he has come home," said Theodora. "I haven't seen him at
the house."

"Well, he said he was coming home, and I gave him his part of the melon
and apple money," replied Addison. "That's all I know about it."

We thought it likely that he would come during the evening, but he did
not, and we all, particularly Theodora, felt much disturbed about him.

Late in the night (it seemed to me that it must be nearly morning) I was
wakened by Halse coming into our room. He crept in stealthily and
undressed very quietly; but sleepy as I was, I heard him first muttering
and then whistling softly to himself, in what appeared to me a rather
curious manner. But I did not speak to him and soon dropped asleep

He was sleeping heavily when I got up in the morning. I did not wake
him; and I noticed that his clothes and boots were very muddy and wet,
for it had rained during the latter part of the night.

When we sat down to breakfast, he had not come down-stairs; and the Old
Squire went up to our room. What he learned, or what he said to Halse,
we did not ascertain. At noon Gram said that Halse was not well; but he
was at the supper table that night.

As I had heard about the melon money I asked him that evening, after we
had gone up-stairs, if he could let me have the money which I had
borrowed of Theodora and Ellen, for him. I said nothing about my own
loan to him, although I wanted the money. He made me no reply; two or
three nights afterwards I mentioned the matter again; for I felt
responsible, after a manner, for the girls' money.

"I hain't got no money!" he snapped out, with very ungrammatical

"Oh, I thought you had three dollars and a half," I observed.

"Well, I hain't," he said, angrily.

I said no more; but after awhile, he told me that he had set off to come
home from the town-house, but stopped to play at "pitching cents" with
some boys at the Corners, and that while there, he had either lost the
money out of his pocket, or else it had been stolen from him.

I was less inclined to doubt this story than the one about the seed
corn; for I had heard rumors of gambling, in a small way, at the
Corners, by a certain clique of loafers there. It was said, too, that
despite the stringent "liquor law," the hustling parties were provided
with intoxicants. I had little doubt that Halstead had parted with his
money in some such way. I recollected how odd his behavior had been
after coming home that night; and although I could scarcely believe such
a thing at first, I yet began to surmise that he had been induced to
drink liquor of some kind.

A few nights after town-meeting, we lost five or six boxes of honey;
some rogue, or rogues, came into the garden and drew the boxes out of
the hives. The only clue to the theft was boot tracks in the soft earth
and these were not sufficiently distinct to avail as evidence. In a
general way we attributed it to the bibulous set at the Corners. The Old
Squire and Addison had incurred the displeasure of Tibbetts and his
cronies, from their avowed sentiments upon the Temperance question. I do
not think that Halse knew anything of the honey robbery. I asked him the
next day, whether he supposed the honey boxes had gone in search of his
three dollars and a half. He saw that I suspected him, and flatly denied
all knowledge of it; but he added, that if Gramp and Addison did not
have less to say about rum-sellers, they might find themselves watching
a big fire some night!

I asked him if he thought that Tibbetts and his crew were bad enough to
set barns on fire.

"Well, isn't the old gent and Ad trying to break up Tibbetts' business,
all the time!" retorted Halse.

"But do you stand up for them?" said I.

"I stand up for minding my own business and letting other folks alone!"
exclaimed Halse. "And that's what the old man and Ad had better do."

"Maybe," said I, for I was not altogether clear in my mind on that
point. "But they are a bad lot, out there at Tibbetts'; you say so,

"I didn't say so!" Halse exclaimed.

"Why, you told me that you thought they took your money, didn't you?" I

"I said perhaps I lost it there," replied Halse in a reticent tone.

Addison believed that if Gramp would get a search warrant, a part of the
honey might be found in one of two houses, at the Corners; but the Old
Squire would not set the law in motion for a few boxes of honey. We
young folks, however, were much exasperated over the loss of the sweets.

Two cosset lambs were also missing from our pasture at about this time;
and as Addison and I drove past the Corners, on our way to the mill with
another grist of corn, the day after the lambs were missed, we saw
Tibbetts' dog gnawing a bone beside the road.

"Take the reins, a minute!" exclaimed Addison, pulling up. He then
leaped out of the wagon with the whip, so suddenly, that the dog left
the bone and ran off. Addison picked it up and examined it attentively.
"It's a mutton bone, fast enough," said he. "It is one of the leg bones;
the hoof is on it and there's enough of the hide to show that it was
smut-legged, like ours. But of course we cannot prove much from it," he
added, throwing the bone after the dog and getting into the wagon.

On our return, we called at the Post Office which was at Tibbetts'
grocery. The semi-weekly mail had come that afternoon, and quite a
number of people were standing about. I went in to inquire for our
folks' papers and letters; and as I came out, I saw the grocer emerging
from the grocery portion of the store.

"How d'ye do, Mr. Tibbetts," cried Addison. "I'm afraid your dog has
been killing two of our lambs."

"Ye don't say!" said Tibbetts. "What makes ye think so?"

"Why, I thought it might be he; I saw him gnawing the bone of a
smut-legged lamb like ours," replied Addison, with every appearance of
extreme candor. "Cannot say certain of course, but I feel quite sure
'twas from one of ours."

Tibbetts looked at Addison a moment, then replied, "Wal, now, if ye can
prove 'twas my dog killed 'em, I'll settle with the Squire."

"I'm afraid we cannot prove it," replied Addison and drove off.--"I
thought that I would blame it all on the dog," he said, laughing.

Two or three days after that, Theodora, Ellen and Kate Edwards went out
to the Corners to purchase something at the store and, instead of
returning by the road, came home across lots, following the brook up
through the meadows. They often took that route to and from the Corners;
both enjoyed going through the half-cleared land along the brook.

Beside an old log in the meadow, where evidently someone had recently
sat, they picked up and brought home with them, the bottom and about
half the side of one of our lost honey-boxes; bits of fresh comb were
still sticking to it. The rogues who took it had manifestly sat on that
log while they regaled themselves.

After dark that evening, Addison and I carried the fragment out to
Tibbetts' grocery and stuck it up on his platform. Addison also wrote on
it with a blunt lead pencil, "To whom it may concern. This honey box was
picked up on a direct line between the hives from which it was stolen
and this place."

"Even if we cannot prove anything," he said, "I want to let them know
that we've got a good idea who did it."

We thought that we had done a rather smart thing; but when the Old
Squire heard of it, he told us that we had done a foolish one.

"Better let all that sort of thing alone, boys," he said. "Never hint,
or insinuate charges against anybody. Never make charges at all, unless
you have good proof to back you up. Tibbetts and his cronies are too old
birds to care for any such small shot as that. They will only laugh at
you. The less you have to say to them the better."

As Addison and I were talking over this piece of advice, later in the
day, I asked him whether he believed that Tibbetts or any of his crew
would set our barns afire, if the Old Squire took steps to enforce the
liquor law against them.

"I guess they wouldn't dare do that," said Addison.

I then mentioned what Halse had said. Addison was greatly irritated, not
so much from the covert threat implied, as to think that Halse sided
against the Temperance movement.

"Now you see," said Addison, "if we do make a move against Tibbetts,
Halse will be a traitor and carry word to him ahead. We shall have to
watch him and never drop a word about our plans before him." He then
told me, confidentially, that the Temperance sentiment had grown so
strong, that its advocates hoped to be able to get Tibbetts indicted
that fall and so close up his "grocery."

Addison and Theodora, as well as the Old Squire, thought that if the
Corners clique could be broken up, Halstead would be a far better boy.
Liquor was the only bond which held the clique together there. If the
illicit sale of liquor could be stopped at Tibbetts', not only Hannis,
but several others would leave the place; and probably Tibbetts himself
would move away.

I do not think that it occurred to either Addison or Theodora that there
was anything in the least reprehensible in conspiring to drive grocer
Tibbetts out of town. I am sure that I then deemed it a good idea to
drive him away, by almost any means, fair or foul.



About this time we began to hear raccoons, in the early part of the
night. There were numbers of these animals in the woods about the farm;
they had their retreats in hollow trees and sometimes came into the corn
fields. I first heard one while coming home from the Edwardses one
evening; the strange, quavering cry frightened me; for I imagined that
it was the cry of a "lucivee," concerning which the boys were talking a
good deal at this time. One was said to have attacked a farmer on the
highway a little beyond the Batchelder place. The animal leaped into the
back part of the man's wagon and fought savagely for possession of a
quarter of beef. Repeated blows from a whip-stock failed to dislodge it,
till it had ridden for ten or fifteen rods, when it leaped off the
wagon, but followed, growling, for some distance. As nearly as this man
could judge, in the dim light of evening, the animal was as large as a
good-sized dog. The "lucivee," or _loup-cervier_, is the lynx
Canadensis, which ordinarily attains a weight of no more than
twenty-five pounds, but occasionally grows larger and displays great
fierceness and courage.

I made haste home and calling Addison out, asked him whether that
strange cry which still issued at intervals from the woodland, over
towards the Aunt Hannah lot, was made by the much dreaded "lucivee." He
laughed and was disposed to play on my fears for a while, but at length
told me that it was nothing more savage than a 'coon. The wild note had
struck a singularly responsive fiber within me; and to this day I never
hear a raccoon's hollow cry at night, without a sudden recurrence of the
same eerie sensation.

About this time we all became much interested in the approaching Cattle
Show, which was to be held at the Fair Grounds, near the village, during
the last week of September. Thomas bantered me strongly to raise two
dollars and go into partnership with him in an old horse which he knew
of and which he desired to buy and enter for the "slow race." The horse
could be purchased for three or four dollars and was so very stiff in
the knees as to be almost certain of winning the "slow race," thereby
securing a "purse" of ten dollars.

What with Thomas' enthusiasm, this looked to me, at the time, to be a
very alluring investment. Tom had also another scheme for winning the
"purse" of the "scrub race," where every kind of animal took the track
at one and the same time. The Harland boys--where we went to mill--owned
a large mongrel dog that had been taught to haul a little cart. He was
known to be a fast runner; and Tom had intelligence that he was in the
market, at a price of two dollars. If we could secure him, there was
little doubt that the scrub-race purse would easily drop into our hats.
I had to confess to doubts whether the Old Squire would consent to my
embarking in such speculations.

"But you needn't show in it," said Tom quietly. "I'll do all the trading
and keep them over at our barn." The way being thus opened to a silent
partnership, I began a canvass of all my assets.

Thomas was also intending to enter a colt and a yoke of yearling steers
for the premiums on those classes of animals. Addison intended to enter
one of the Old Squire's yokes of steers; and Tom acknowledged to me that
his own chance was slim on steers, since ours were the larger and

Gram usually sent in one or more firkins of butter, several cheeses and
even loaves of bread and cake. The Old Squire exhibited several head of
cattle and sometimes his entire herd; also sheep, hogs and poultry. Then
there was always an extensive exhibit of apples, pears and grapes,
arranged on plates, as also seed-corn, wheat, barley, buckwheat, oats
and garden vegetables. We were occupied for fully a fortnight, that
season, gathering and preparing our various exhibits.

In addition, Halstead and Addison expected to do a flourishing business
selling apples, pears and grapes; they also talked of opening an eating
booth on the Fair Grounds, with baked beans, cakes, pies and hot coffee;
and they had agreed with Theodora and Ellen to prepare the food
beforehand, and take a share in the profits. The previous fall they had
sold cider (moderately sweet) and done very well; but Addison had become
so rigid a temperance reformer, during the year, that he would not now
deal in cider.

This being my first season at the farm, I was not included as a partner
in these lucrative privileges, but expected to be admitted to them all
the following year. Meantime I intended to learn about it, and expected
to derive a great deal of pleasure from attending the coming exhibition.
There were to be numerous "attractions," besides the slow race, and the
scrub race, which was for any kind of animal that had legs and could run
except horses. I had finally raised two dollars to invest with Tom in
the old horse, named "Ponkus," previously alluded to, and by a hard
strain on my resources also became interested to the extent of another
dollar with him in "Tige," the cart dog, for the scrub race.

The Fair Grounds were located near the neighboring village, about seven
miles distant from the Old Squire's, and consisted of a large wooden
building and a high fence, enclosing about thirty acres of land. The
admission fee was fifteen cents. The Fair continued three days: Tuesday,
Wednesday and Thursday, of the last week of September.

We set off at four o'clock of the opening day, Addison, Halse, Thomas
and I driving three ox-carts, loaded with farm products. We had also to
lead "Ponkus" and a two-year-old Hereford bull behind the carts, and
manage a yoke of Durham steers for the "town team;" our progress was
therefore slow and it was nine o'clock in the forenoon before we arrived
at the Grounds and had made a disposition of our various charges.

A great crowd of people was pouring through the gate of the enclosure.
Fully four thousand people were already on the grounds; and a gaudy
array of "side shows" at once attracted our attention. There were
counters and carts for cider, gingerbread and confectionery. Loud-voiced
auctioneers were selling "patent medicines" and knickknacks of all

Close at hand, a snare drum and fife, inside a tent, drew attention to
"a rare and wonderful show of wild animals," which the fakir at the door
declared to consist of "a pair of bald eagles, two panther cubs, a
prairie wolf and Hindoo seal," and sometimes he said "prairie wolf and
Bengal tiger."

Then there were rather disreputable fellows with "whirl-boards" at "ten
cents a whirl;" with "ring-boards" at "five cents a pitch," and ten
cents made when you lodged the rings on the points. There was also a
blind-fold professor of phrenology, who examined heads at fifteen cents
_per cranium_.

In the crowd, too, were even less reputable fellows, who sought to
entrap rural youths into "betting on cards," and making "rare bargains"
in delusive watches. Altogether it was an animated scene, for young
eyes. Addison, Halse and Theodora were occupied with their "booth."
Ellen and Wealthy were with Gram in the Fair building, where the fruit
and dairy products had to be watched and presided over. The Old Squire
was a member of numerous committees on stock and other farm exhibits. We
hardly caught sight of him during the day. For my own part I kept with
Thomas and "Tige," whose little wagon for racing we had brought down in
one of the ox-carts. We avoided the sharpers, for the good reason that
we had very little money in our pockets. We were cheated but once, by a
youthful Philistine who had "tumblers to break," suspended in a row by a

We paid him ten cents, and standing off at a distance of forty feet,
threw a nicely-whittled club at the row of suspended glasses. If we
broke one, we were to receive twenty-five cents. The safety of the
tumblers lay in the extreme lightness of the clubs, which were of dry
pine wood, much lighter than their size indicated. Tom and I each threw
the clubs twice. Not a tumbler was injured. The proprietor called it a
"game of skill;" but it was nearer a game of swindling.

But the slow race and scrub race were the features that interested us
most. In explanation I may say that a "slow race" is not an uncommon
attraction at a county fair. Usually the object in racing horses is to
exhibit speed; but the "slow race" is for the slowest horse--the one
which is longest in hobbling a mile. To prevent cheating, no one is
allowed to drive his own horse; if he enters for the race he must drive
a horse that has been entered by another person. Of course, under such
conditions each man drives over the track as quickly as he can, since it
is for his interest to do so. The "purse," or prize, at the Fair that
fall was ten dollars; that is to say, the man who entered the slowest
old skeleton of a horse, received ten dollars, together with the cheers
and jeers of the crowd. Public sentiment is now more humane and

What Thomas and I had in view was the ten dollars; and we did not
believe there was a horse in the county that could beat our old
"Ponkus" at going slow.

There were no restrictions in the race. Anybody who had a horse was at
liberty to enter him for it. The time set for the race was four o'clock
in the afternoon. A little before that hour, Thomas drove Ponkus on to
the track, in an old "thoroughbrace" wagon.

We found that as many as twelve different horses (or wrecks of horses)
had been entered for the race. It was an odd and venerable-looking troop
that drew up near the judge's stand, which was to be the starting point.

There was one horse with the "spring halt" in both hind legs, and he
lifted his feet nearly a yard high at every step. There was another with
three "spavins" and a "ring-bone" on the remaining leg. Still another
had the "heaves" so badly that its breathing could be heard twenty rods
away. In fact, every one had some ailment or defect. The agents of the
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had not yet made their
way into our locality.

The owners surveyed the rival nags with a critical eye. The bystanders
laughed and made bets. The horse with the "spring halt," that lifted
both hind legs so high, was the popular favorite at first. But soon a
fresh roar from the crowd told of the approach of another "racer."

A tin-peddler, with his cart and great bags of paper-rags on top, came
in. The first glimpse of the peddler's horse sent dismay to the rest of
us. Besides being utterly stiff-kneed and knock-kneed, it was really
nothing but a moving skeleton. Its hair looked as dead as that on a
South American cow-hide, and nearly every bone in its frame might have
been counted.

The crowd shouted, "Room! Room there! Room for old Rack-o'-bones! Don't
breathe or he'll tumble down! Is he balky? Will he kick? Check him up!"

The peddler had been passing the Fair Grounds on his way through the
county, when some wag had hailed him and induced him to enter his horse
for the race. He was a little wiry man forty or fifty years old, dressed
in a soiled tweed coat and a boy's cloth cap.

He wanted to drive his horse, harnessed as it was in the tin-cart; but
the rest of us cried out against it; he therefore took the cart off the
forward wheels, and strapped a salt-box to the axle, to sit on. It was a
queer sort of "sulky." There was not much to choose, however; all the
horses were in rickety wagons, or battered gigs.

The drivers "changed over." They then got the animals as nearly in line
at the bar as possible, ready for the word "Go." Just then it was
discovered that one of the horses had a sharp stone adroitly inserted in
his shoe, so as to press up against the "frog" of his foot, and still
further cripple the poor beast. The judges promptly excluded this horse,
and reprimanded his owner.

"Go!" was then shouted. And they went. The crowd whooped and cheered and
whistled. Such a strident chorus of "Get-daps," "Geh-langs," "Hud-dups!"
and such frantic efforts to get those horses into a trot were never
before seen or heard in those parts! Each jostled and ran against others
in his wild efforts to get past his neighbors and rivals. One gig broke
down, and the driver had to mount on horseback; but he went the better
for that, and got past all the rest. Altogether, it was the noisiest,
dustiest, most harum-scarum race that can be imagined! They got around
at last, the most of them, and began to look about. The peddler's horse
was not to be seen.

"Where's Rack-o'-bones?" we asked each other. The shouts and
gesticulations of the spectators soon told us as to his whereabouts. The
peddler's horse had not yet got _half way round_! A snail could have
crawled almost as fast. The animal could not step more than six inches
at once, to save its life.

The most amusing part of it to the crowd was that the little peddler did
not understand about the race, and thought that instead of winning he
was hopelessly beaten. It took the judges some minutes to make him
comprehend that he had won the race. His small, greedy, gray eyes shone
when he was given the ten dollars.

"Don't envy him, boys," said one of the judges. "The man is entitled to
the pity of the entire assemblage for owning or using such a horse."

The slow race came off the first day; but our folks attended the Fair,
not only upon the following day, which was the principal day, but on the
third day also. We did not reach home at night till eight or nine
o'clock, and were astir and off again by five o'clock next morning; for
we had our stock at the Fair Grounds to look after. Gram had hired Aunt
Olive Witham to stay at the farm that week and keep house; and she not
only kept house, but kept the barn as well, and did all the milking for

On the second day came the _bona fide_ horse trots, of great interest to
all owning horses troubled with that dangerous disease--speed.

On the third and last day, a young fellow with a cageful of dancing
turkeys divided public attention about equally with a white-haired and
long-bearded man from Newfoundland who "ate glass tumblers," biting off
and chewing up great mouthfuls of glass, as if it were a crust of bread.
Afterwards this same old Blue-nose fought with his own large
Newfoundland dog, using only his mouth, growling and snapping in such a
frightful way that it was hard telling which brute was the dog. But the
final and most exciting feature of the day, was the "scrub race," which
came off at four o'clock in the afternoon.

In this race any and every animal was allowed to take part, except
horses. Men, boys, dogs harnessed into carts and carrying their owners,
cows, steers and goats, anything on four legs or two, could compete
except the genus _equus_. The prize was ten dollars to the winner,
meaning he, she or it, that first reached the judge's stand. An extra
rail had been put up in the fence enclosing the race-course, to keep the
contestants on the track and out of the crowd.

Among the competitors were three men and about a dozen boys. The
interest of the spectators, however, centered on the four-footed
"racers." Among these was a little black and white Canadian cow, with
fawn-colored legs and slim black-tipped horns. This creature was the
property of a Frenchman, who could speak scarcely a word of English. She
was harnessed, like a horse, and dragged an old pair of wheels.
_Jinnay_, as her owner called her, galloped over the track at an
astonishing speed.

Then there was a boy with a stub-tailed, brindled bulldog. The dog was
harnessed into a little four-wheeled wagon, just big enough for the
driver to sit in. Another lad, in a two-wheeled cart, drove a great,
curly, shaggy Newfoundland dog. And still another boy drove a small,
stocky, reddish-yellow dog, of no particular breed. This latter dog had
erect, prick ears, and a very surly expression of countenance. His tail
was apparently as straight and stiff as a file. He answered to the name
of Gub, and his master to that of Jimmy Stirks.

Then there was an old man with a large, mouse-colored jackass, and
another man with a mule. The mule, however, was ruled out by the judges,
on the ground that he had "horse-blood" in him.

All in good time Tom drove in with our "Tige."

At the word "Go" from the judges, there was a mad scratch for it. Men,
boys, dogs, cows and donkey started over the course, in most laughable
confusion. Tige barked from pure delight at the uproar, as he dashed
on, swinging his great bushy tail.

The Frenchman with his cow was the popular favorite. Above all the din
of the race, the voice of the little Canadian could be heard screaming,
"_Mush daw! Mush daw!_" as he plied his stick, and sometimes, "_Herret,
Jinnay! Herret, twa sacre petite broot!_" In the height of the
confusion, the jackass brayed. That was the final touch of fun for the

Tige might have won, if he had attended to his business; but his delight
seemed to be in barking, and chasing Jinnay. The little yellow "chunked"
dog, with the prick ears, on the contrary, never turned to right or
left, but shot like an arrow straight for his mark. How those little
cart-wheels did buzz! And he won the race by eight or ten rods, leaving
men, boys, and Jinnay behind. His owner was a proud boy that afternoon,
and a "great man" among his fellows; but Tom and I were somewhat

Addison took a premium with his yoke of yearling Durham steers, much to
the chagrin of Alfred Batchelder who had also entered a pair for the
prize. Alfred so far lost his temper as to talk outrageously to Addison
upon their way home, on the evening of the third day of the Fair, after
the awards had been announced. He alleged that the Old Squire, being on
the stock "committees," had given Addison the premium, unjustly. For he
thought (although no one else did) that his steers were the best on the
grounds. The charge was a baseless one; for the Old Squire was not a
member of the committee on steers that year, but only on oxen and

A ridiculous accident happened as the people were coming home from the
Fair that third night. There was a great deal to be drawn home; and
consequently a very long procession of carts and wagons was tailing
along the road, toward nightfall; also the cows and other cattle which
had been on exhibition. The Edwards family, the Wilburs, as also the
Sylvesters and the Batchelders, were well represented; and not only
those from our immediate neighborhood, but others from various places
more remote. All were journeying homeward along the highway beside the
lake; not less than forty teams all told, loaded with every variety of
farm produce, also the farmers' wives and children.

It was very dusty, and horse teams were constantly driving past the
slower ox-carts, for some of the young fellows and a few of the older
ones were quite ready to show off the paces of their nags. After this
manner they went on, with here and there two or three teams cutting in
ahead of the slower ones, till the forward teams reached "Wilkins Hill,"
a long, and in some places, quite steep ascent in the road about two
miles from the Old Squire's.

Near the top of the hill Roscoe Batchelder--an older brother of
Alfred--who owned a "fast horse" and had been driving past most of the
other teams on the way home, overtook Willis Murch with his ox-team,
consisting of a yoke of oxen and a yoke of two-year-old steers. Willis
had started quite early from the Fair Grounds and hence, although
driving slowly, had secured a long start of the others. Just at the top
of the hill, Roscoe, with a cigar in his mouth, whipped up to drive past
Willis, and feeling fine from some cause or other, cracked his whip at
the steers and gave a wild yell as he dashed past!

This startled the steers, unused to the excitements of the road; they
sprang forward with a jerk which somehow threw out or broke the pin
through the "sword" at the forward end of the cart body. With that the
cart tipped up, dumping the entire load into the road behind. Among
other farm produce in the cart were eight or ten huge yellow pumpkins.
At the Murch farm they always raised fine pumpkins and generally carried
a few large ones to the Fair. They cultivated a kind of cheese-shaped
pumpkins which often grew two feet in diameter, yellow as old gold.

When these great pumpkins were tipped out they began to roll down the
hill. Immediately there arose a shout of trouble and dismay from the
teamsters below. Something very much like a stampede ensued; for the
pumpkins came bounding under the horses and oxen. One cart ran into the
ditch and upset. Alfred Batchelder's prize steers ran away and caught
the hook of a chain which they were dragging, into the wheel of a wagon
belonging to the Sylvesters, and upset it. There was a wreck of all the
jelly and other prepared fruits and preserves in it, Mrs. Sylvester
being somewhat noted for her skill in these particulars. It was said
that the greatly grieved woman shed bitter tears, then and there.

Addison was driving our wagon home and had Gram and all the girls in it.
He was pretty well down toward the foot of the hill and hearing the
outcry farther up, jumped out and seized old Sol by the head, to keep
him from bolting. In consequence of this prudent manoeuver our folks
came through the tumult uninjured and without damage. One pumpkin came
rolling directly down toward Addison; but by a dextrous kick he turned
it aside.

Halstead and I, who were driving oxen and carts, did not fare quite as
well; for the team in advance, belonging to the Edwardses, backed down
into us, and our cattle, running out into the ditch, spilled a part of
our loads, including our exhibits of apples and vegetables. Our case,
however, was not as bad as many of our neighbors, some of whom met with
considerable loss. We were occupied an hour or two gathering up the
spilled loads.

So much for a youngster with a cigar in his mouth and a glass or two of
beer inside him. If an indignant community could have laid hands on
Roscoe Batchelder that night, he would have fared badly.

Addison and Halse had done a tolerable business with their cake, coffee
and fruit stand. They cleared about seven dollars each above expenses;
and Theodora and Ellen received four dollars apiece for their services
as cooks. I was about the only one in the family who had not received
something in the way of premiums and profits. Both my ventures, in the
"slow race" and the "scrub race," had collapsed. The Old Squire laughed
at me when he heard of my efforts to capture prizes, and advised me to
try more creditable schemes in future.



Still another memory goes with that first Cattle Show in Maine--the Wild
Rose Sweeting.

Afterwards I came to know that delicious apple well; but it was at the
Fair that I first made its acquaintance. Willis Murch was peddling them,
and made the place resound, not unmusically, with cries of "Wild Rose
Sweetings! Straight from the Garden of Eden! The best apple that ever
grew! Only a few left!"--and he was actually asking (and getting) four
cents apiece for them.

In some astonishment I drew up to him to see what it could be in the way
of an apple to command such a price and be in such evident demand. They
were truly lovely apples to look at, but noticing that I was still
skeptical as to their exceeding merits, Willis kindly gave me one--by
way of removing all doubts. Truth to say, those doubts were at once

The Wild Rose Sweeting, indeed, is really worthy of a biography, its
history was so romantic, its fate so sad. Let me try to be its humble

As a rule apple-trees that come up wild, bear fruit that is either sour
or else bitter-sweet. All such trees need to be budded, or grafted and
cultivated, to be of value to man. It is only once in a million times
that a really good apple comes up as natural fruit.

The value to the world of such a choice apple may be enormous. The
Baldwin, for example, which first appeared growing wild in a
Massachusetts town, could hardly be reckoned to-day as worth less than a
hundred millions of dollars. We can bud, graft, cultivate and do much
to improve existent apples; but it is only by chance that we propagate a
new one that is really good.

The Wild Rose Sweeting was named by Miss Alice Linderman, a young lady
from Philadelphia, who had come to our northern hill country several
years previously in the vain hope of recovery from advanced pulmonary
disease. She named it from the wild-rose tint on one cheek of the apple.

The tree was discovered by Willis, who kept the secret of it to himself
as long as he could, for his own behoof. He was sufficiently generous to
give some of the apples to Miss Linderman, but he demanded a cent apiece
from others. He even asked four cents apiece after the fame of the
apples spread abroad.

The year after he discovered the tree Willis carried a bushel to the
county fair, and began peddling them at a cent apiece. Nearly every one
who bought an apple came back for more. Willis raised the price to three
and four cents. Presently a gentleman who had bought two came back and
took the last ten in the basket at a dollar!

This fact shows better than any description could what a really luscious
apple it was. There was that in the flavor of it that impelled people to
get more.

The Wild Rose Sweeting more nearly resembled the Sweet Harvey than any
other apple to which I can liken it. The flavor was like that of the
Sweet Harvey thrice refined, perhaps rather more like the August or Pear
Sweeting; and it melted on the palate like a spoonful of ice-cream.

It will not seem strange to those who know something of the "apple-belt"
of New England that apple-trees, even good ones, should be discovered
growing wild in back pastures and secluded openings in the woods.

Oxford County, Maine, abounds in wild apple-trees. By looking about a
little, the farmer there can readily pick up enough young trees, growing
wild, to set an orchard. They spring up everywhere. For this is one of
the world's natural apple regions. North and northeast of the Old
Squire's farm rose wooded hills; and extending back among them was a
valley, down which ran a brook, abounding in trout-holes at the foot of
ledges and large rocks.

At one time the land here was cleared, but being stony and rough it had
been used for pasture, and was partly overgrown with bushes. There were
thousands of young wild apple-trees here, scrubby and thorny, where
cattle had browsed them.

The boys often went fishing in this brook, spring, summer and fall. Far
up the valley, at a point where the brook flowed over a ledge, there was
a well-known hole. Willis Murch was fishing here one afternoon in the
latter part of August, when he saw a red squirrel carrying an apple in
its mouth by the stem, and coming out from some thick young hemlocks
that grew along the west bank of the brook. He was sitting so still that
the squirrel ran close up to him; but when he suddenly thrust out his
hand, the animal dropped the apple and scudded away with a shrill

The apple rolled close to Willis's feet, and he picked it up. Apples
were common enough, but this one looked so good that he rubbed it on his
sleeve and bit it. Then his eyes opened in surprise, for this was no
sour cider-apple, but far and away the best apple he had ever tasted.

"It must grow near here," he said to himself, looking curiously around.
"That squirrel didn't bring it far. The stem is fresh, too. He has just
gnawed it off the tree."

Thereupon Willis began searching. He crept into the hemlocks on hands
and knees. Presently he came upon several other gnawed apples; but even
with this clue, he was half an hour finding the tree. There were four
or five huge rocks back from the brook among the thick hemlocks. At last
he crawled in past two of these that stood close together, and came upon
the apple-tree, in a little sheltered amphitheater. It was at the foot
of another large rock, twelve or fifteen feet high. A tiny spring oozed
out at the foot of the rock; and here this apple-tree had grown up,
unwatched and undiscovered save by the squirrels and birds. The tree was
a thrifty one. The trunk had attained a diameter of six inches; and when
Willis found it, there were, he says, four or five bushels of those
delicious Sweetings, now just beginning to ripen. Willis first ate all
he desired, then took off his coat, made a bag of it, and shook down the
ripest of the apples to carry home to his family and the neighboring
boys and girls.

"Won't they smack their lips!" he said to himself. "Won't they be up
here for more!"

But on the way he took second thought, and craft entered his heart. "I
won't tell them where it is," he said to himself. "Let them hunt. They
never will find it." For the place was a mile and a half or two miles
from the nearest farm.

Willis as yet had not thought of selling the apples or making a profit
from his discovery; that idea came into his mind later, after he found
how fond every one was of them. But that night when asked where this
tree grew, Willis laughed and said darkly, "Oh, I know!"

Such secretiveness was deemed piggish, and was resented. Several
declared that they could and would find that tree and get every apple on
it. Willis laughed and said, "Let me know when you do."

That was the beginning of the long search for "Willis Murch's good
tree." First and last, hours, days and, altogether, weeks of time were
spent scouring the pastures, fields and clearings. Willis was watched
constantly, in the hope of tracking him.

Alfred Batchelder lay in wait for days together on a hill overlooking
the Murch farm, expecting to see Willis set out for the tree. At one
time Alfred and another boy, named Charles Cross, had thoughts of
waylaying Willis, and extorting the secret from him by threats or

Willis steered clear of them, however, and remained close-mouthed. He
had grown very crafty, and went to the tree by night only, or sometimes
early on Sunday mornings, before other people were astir.

During the August moon of the second season after discovering the tree,
he brought home a bushel of the apples on three different occasions by
night; and he now began canvassing among the farmers who had orchards,
to sell scions, to be delivered in May of the following spring. After
eating the apples, not a few signed for them at fifty cents a graft.

It required a fair share of courage on the part of a boy of fifteen to
go to the tree by night, for the distance from Willis's home was fully
two miles; and at that time bears and lynxes frequented the "great

Willis afterward told the other boys that a bear came out in the path
directly ahead of him one night, as he was hurrying home with a bushel
of Wild Rose Sweetings on his shoulder. The creature sniffed, and Willis
shouted to frighten it. He was on the point of throwing down his apples,
to climb a tree in haste, when the bear shambled away.

Willis seems now to have had great designs of selling scions to
orchardists and nurserymen over the whole country. Only a tiny twig,
three inches long, is requisite for a scion for grafting into other
trees. The Wild Rose Sweeting tree would produce thousands of such
scions. Willis, who was a Yankee lad by ancestry, resolved to preserve
the secret of the tree at all hazards. He appears to have had dreams of
making a fortune from it.

Thus far no one had been able to find the tree, as much from nature's
own precaution in hiding it as from Willis's craft. By the middle of
September that autumn he had gathered most of the apples, when the same
chance which had first led his steps to the tree revealed it to the eyes
of his enemies.

For about that time Alfred Batchelder and Charles Cross's brother,
Newman, went fishing up the brook, and in due course arrived at the
trout-hole where Willis had sat when he saw the squirrel. They crept up
to the hole, baited and cast in together.

There were no bites immediately; but as they sat there they heard a red
squirrel _chirr_! up among the thick hemlocks, and presently caught the
sound of a low thud on the ground, soon followed by another and another.

"He's gnawing off apples," said Alfred. "There's an apple-tree among
those hemlocks."

Then the two cronies glanced at each other, and the same thought
occurred to both. "Who knows!" exclaimed Newman. "Who knows but what
that may be the tree?"

They stopped fishing and began searching. They could still hear the
squirrel in the apple-tree, and the sounds guided them to the little
dell among the rocks. There were a few apples remaining on the tree; and
they no sooner saw them than they knew that Willis Murch's famous tree
was found at last.

They were so greatly pleased that they hurrahed and whooped for joy.
Then they secured what apples there were left, ate all they wanted, and
filled their pockets with the rest. No more fishing for them that day.
They had found the famous tree, and now were intent on thinking how they
could most humiliate Willis.

Neither of them knew of his grand scheme to sell scions; but it had long
provoked their envy to see him peddling Wild Rose Sweetings at the Fair
for four cents apiece. They would find him now and thrust a
pink-cheeked apple under his nose!

But that would not be half satisfaction enough. They wanted to cut him
off from his tree forever, to put it out of his power ever to get
another apple from it. Nothing less would appease the grudge they bore

And what those two malicious youths did was to take their jack-knives
and girdle that Wild Rose Sweeting tree close to the ground. They went
clear round the tree, cutting away the bark into the sap-wood; and not
content with girdling it once, they went round it three times in
different places.

That done, they went home in great glee, thrust the apples in Willis's
face, and bade him look to his good tree.

"We have found your tree, old Cuffy!" they cried to him. "You never will
get any more apples off that tree!"

Beyond doubt Willis was chagrined. He did not know that they had girdled
the tree, but he thought it not worth the while to go up there again
that fall, since there were no more apples. Yet even if Alfred and
Newman had found it, and even if they got the apples next season, he
supposed that he would still be able to cut scions from the tree. Late
in March, directly after the sap started, he went up there with knife
and saw to secure them.

Not till then did he discover that the tree had been cruelly girdled,
and that the spring sap had not flowed to the limbs. He cut a bundle of
scions, some of which were afterward set as grafts; but none of them
lived. The tree was killed. It never bore again. Nor can I learn that
sprouts ever came up about the root. It was quite dead when I first
visited the place.

Thus perished, untimely, the Wild Rose Sweeting. Ignorance and small
malice robbed the world of an apple that might have given delight and
benefit to millions of people for centuries to come.

I have sometimes thought that an inscription of the nature of an epitaph
should be cut on the great rock at the foot of which the tree stood.



So occupied were our minds with the Fair and its incidents, that not one
of us had thought to go or send to the post office during that entire
week. We had even passed near it, without thinking to call.

But on Sunday morning the Old Squire suddenly bethought himself of his
religious newspaper, _The Independent_, which he commonly read for an
hour after breakfast. He called me aside and, after remarking that he
did not make a practice of going, or sending, to the post office on the
Sabbath, said that I might make a trip to the Corners and bring home the
mail. As the post office was at the residence of the postmaster, letters
and papers could be taken from the office on any day or hour of the

I went to the Corners, accordingly, and at the door of the post office
met Catherine Edwards who had also come there on a similar errand.

She looked very bright and smart that morning and laughed when she saw

"Your folks forgot the mail, too," said she. "Father told me to go down
across the meadow, so that the Old Squire's folks needn't see me, going
to the post office; for you know father stands in great awe of your
grandpa's opinions. I shall tell him when I get home that he needn't
have been so cautious."

Kate did not hasten away; and I summoned courage to say, "Please wait
for me," although it cost me a great effort.

"All right," she replied. "I'll go on slow."

The postmaster had again to look up his glasses and was, I thought, a
long while peering at the letters and papers. At length he handed out my
package and I hurried away. Kate had not proceeded very far, however,
and I soon overtook her. But she was obliged to take the lead in

"Our school doesn't begin this winter till after Thanksgiving," she
remarked. "Have your folks heard who the schoolmaster is going to be?"

We had not.

"Well then, it is a young man, named Samuel Lurvy," said Kate. "He lives
at Lurvy's Mills; and they say that his father, who owns the mills, has
sent him for three terms to the Academy. Mr. Batchelder is our district
school agent, you know; and his wife is a relative of the Lurvys; that's
the reason, father says, that he came to hire Sam. Our folks are a
little surprised and so are the Wilburs; for this Sam isn't more than
nineteen or twenty years old; and mother says that she doesn't believe
that he can be a very good scholar, for his parents are very ignorant.

"I was in hopes that they would have a good teacher this winter; for I
want to make a start in Algebra," Kate continued. "I suppose you are
nicely along in your studies. They must have better schools at
Philadelphia than we do, away back here in the country."

It appeared, however, that whatever advantages I might have had in this
respect, I was yet not as far advanced in Arithmetic as Kate; nor yet in
any other branch. I had barely reached Compound Interest, while Kate had
finished her Practical Arithmetic the previous winter.

"I could do all the examples in it when school was done last winter,"
she said. "I reviewed it once this summer, under Miss Emmons; I think
like as not I might trip on some of them now. But I know that Theodora
can do them all. She is a little older than I am; and she is a real good
scholar, though I don't think that she is quite so good as Addison. He
is different, somehow; he knows lots about everything and can talk real
interesting with the teachers, in the classes. I know he is hoping we
will have a good teacher, so he can finish up all his common school
studies. You tell him that we are going to have Sam Lurvy, and see what
he thinks about it.

"But it will be a long time before school begins," Kate continued,
"nearly two months. We only have about nineteen weeks of school in a
year here."

By this time we had reached the meadow where the bridge spanned the
meadow brook.

"Go easy on the bridge and look off the lower end of it," Kate advised.
"We may see a big trout."

We did so and saw several trout, swimming away, but not very large ones.

"Well, I guess I shall go up the meadow and across the fields home,"
remarked Kate. "It is nearer for me; and it is a little nearer for you;
but perhaps you would rather go by the road, seeing it is Sunday."

"I had rather go with you up the meadow," I said, but I felt somewhat
abashed; and it seemed to me very bold to take such a long walk through
meadow, pasture and fields, with a girl, alone, of about my own age, and
not a cousin.

We proceeded up the meadow, following the meanderings of the brook, past
numerous bush clumps. At length, we drew near a large bend where the
brook looked to be both wide and deep. "This is the best trout hole on
the meadow," Kate told me in a low tone. "Just wait a moment and keep
back out of sight, while I catch a grasshopper." She hunted about in the
dry grass, alternately stealing forward on tip-toe, then making a quick
dash and pressing her hand suddenly on the grass. "I've got two," she
said, coming cautiously forward. "Now creep up still to that little
bunch of basswood bushes, on the edge of the bank. Get down low and
crawl and don't jar the ground. I'm going to throw in a grasshopper. Oh
dear me, look at the 'molasses' the nasty thing has put on my hand!"

Kate threw the grasshopper into the pool at the bend; and it seemed to
me that it had barely touched the water, when _flop_ rose a fine trout
and snatched it.

"Oh, if it wasn't Sunday and we had a hook here to put this other
grasshopper on," said Kate eagerly, "wouldn't it be fun to haul that
trout out here!

"I caught ten here one day last June," she continued. "Oh, I _do_ love
to fish!--Do you think it is very horrid for girls to fish?" she asked

"Girls don't fish as much as boys, but I didn't know there was any harm
in it," I said.

"I'm glad you don't think it isn't nice," said Kate. "Tom is always
hectoring me about it. I sometimes catch more than he does; and I think
that is the reason he wants to plague me."

"But we must go away from here!" Kate exclaimed. "For I don't think it
is quite right to want to fish so badly, on Sunday. I think it is as bad
to want to catch a fish as to catch one, or almost as bad."

This being our moral condition, we veered off from the brook a little;
and Kate pointed out to me a bank of choke-cherry bushes, from which we
gathered a few cherries, not very good ones.

"It isn't a good cherry year," said Kate. "Last year was. We got
splendid ones off these same bushes, last September."

Kate also pointed out to me some small bird pear trees, growing beside
an old hedge fence across the upper end of the meadow, where we climbed
over and going through a tract of sparse woodland entered the pasture
below the Old Squire's south field.

"Oh, I do love to be out in the woods and pastures on a bright pleasant
day like this!" exclaimed Kate, with a long breath of enjoyment. "I
wish I could camp out and be out of doors all the fall. That makes me
think, has Addison or Dora said anything to you about our making a trip
to the 'great woods' this fall, after the apples are picked?"

"I have heard Addison say that he would like to go," said I. "And
Theodora said that they had talked of making a camping trip once. But I
haven't heard anything about it lately."

"Oh dear, I'm afraid they will all give it up," said Kate. "There is a
place away up in the woods where there is a nice chance to camp. Tom was
up there once. It is quite a good ways. We should have to camp out over
night. Wouldn't that be fun? There's a brook up there full of fish, they
say; and there are partridges and lots of game. My folks will let Tom
and me go, if Theodora and Ellen and Addison go. Mother thinks Dora is
the nicest girl there ever was about here; she holds her up as a pattern
for me, regularly. But I happen to know that Dora enjoys having a good
time, as much as I do.

"Now you put them up to go," Kate added, as we came to the west field
bars, where our ways homeward diverged. "Good-by. I've had a real nice

It was certainly very polite for her to say that; for she had been
obliged to do nearly all the talking.

Addison and Theodora were standing out near the bee hives and saw me
coming across the field to the house. A great and embarrassing fear fell
upon me, as I saw them observing my approach. Even now, Catherine was
still in sight, at a distance, crossing Mr. Edwards' field. My two
cousins had been waiting about for me to bring _The Portland Transcript_
and _The Boston Weekly Journal_, which they read very constantly in
those days.

"Aha! aha!" exclaimed Addison, significantly. "Seems to me that you have
been gone a long time after the mail!"

"And who is that young lady we saw you taking leave of, over at the
bars?" put in Theodora.

A very small hole would have sufficed for me to creep into at about that

"See how red he is," hectored Addison. "We've found him out. I had no
idea he was any such boy as this!"

"Dear me, no," said Theodora, pretending to be vastly scandalized. "Just
see how bold he behaves! I never would have thought it of him!" Thus
they tormented me, winking confidentially to each other; and an eel
being skinned alive for the frying-pan would not have suffered more than
I did from their gibes.

For a number of days after the Fair, we found it difficult to settle
down to farm work, so greatly had it interrupted the ordinary course of
events. When we did get to work again, our first task was to pick the
winter apples, the Baldwins and Greenings, and barrel them, for market.
Gramp did not allow these apples to be shaken off the trees; they must
all be hand-picked, then carefully sorted up and the first layers placed
in the barrels in rows around the bottom. Baldwins and Greenings, thus
barrelled, will keep sound till the following March; but if care be not
used and apples which have fallen from the trees be put in, the barrel
of fruit may wholly decay before February.

It was pleasant, but tiresome work, climbing to the top of the great
trees, holding on with one hand and picking apples with the other. We
were well provided with "horses," ladders and hooks, however, and in
four days, picked and put up one hundred and thirty barrels. Lest some
farmer's son well versed in this kind of work, be inclined to think my
story large, I may explain that there were six of us, including the two
Doanes and the Old Squire; and I must also add that the girls helped us
at the sorting and barrelling.

The fact was, that we were all working with good will; for Addison had
taken opportunity to ask the Old Squire and Gram about making that
excursion to the "great woods;" and although the latter had not yet
consented to allow Theodora and Ellen to go, Gramp had said that we boys
might have four days, after the apples were picked. Addison had told me
about it, but had said nothing to Halstead, for he had expressly
stipulated with the old gentleman, that Halse should not be allowed to
accompany us.

Addison's plan to exclude Halse disturbed Theodora, however; she thought
it was wrong to treat him in that manner, even if we did not like his
ways. Addison, however, declared that we would be sure to have trouble,
if Halstead went, he was so headstrong and bad-tempered. We had several
very earnest private discussions of the matter. Addison would not yield
the point; he would as lief not go, he said, as to go with Halse.

Thomas and Catherine Edwards, and Willis Murch, had been advised of the
proposed expedition and asked to go. We should thus make a party of
seven, Addison urged, and would have a fine time; for the Edwards young
folks and Willis were good-tempered and intelligent, with tastes much
like our own. Ned Wilbur had been invited, but declined, having to
choose between this trip and a long promised visit to some friends, in
another county.

The matter was pending all the time we were gathering apples. Theodora
even argued for Halstead with Gramp; but Addison stood in well with the
old gentleman; he declared that he wished and needed to take a gun with
us, and that he, for one, did not dare go out with Halse, if the latter
had a gun; nor did he believe that any of us would be safe, if Halse had
the handling of one.

Unfortunately there was only too much truth in this latter argument.
Theodora then urged that Halse might be allowed to go and made to
promise in advance not to take up the gun at all while we were gone.
Addison retorted that those might trust his promises who wished, but
that he would not.

Wealthy, whom grandmother judged too young to go, at length told
Halstead of the proposed trip and informed him that he, at least, would
have to stay at home with her. Thereupon Halstead began to question me
in our room at night about the trip. I told him bluntly that Gramp did
not think it prudent for him to go, lest he should make trouble.

"So I've got to stay at home and work!" he exclaimed bitterly.

"Well, you might behave better when you are out, then," I said. "It's
your own fault."

"What have I done?" he exclaimed.

"Picked a quarrel with 'Enoch' on Fourth o' July," said I, to refresh
his memory.

"I don't care; he stoned me!" Halse exclaimed.

"But you began the fuss," I put in.

"Oh, you say that because Ad does. You and he are about alike!" cried
Halse, angrily.

"Then there was town-meeting night," I went on to say. "I think you came
home intoxicated that night; I think you had been gambling, too."

"You say that again and I'll thrash you!" exclaimed Halse, now very hot.

"Well, I think so, or I shouldn't say it," I repeated.

In an instant Halse was upon me, as I sat on the side of our bed, and
there was an unseemly scuffle. Halse was the larger, and I think that I
would have gotten the worst of the squabble, but at this juncture,
Addison, hearing the racket, rushed in from his room and pulled us

"Who began this row?" quoth our separator.

"I did, and I'll thrash him!" shouted Halse. "He said I was drunk
town-meeting night."

"Well, you were," said Addison. "We all know that."

Halse then tried to throw a boot at Addison who set him down violently
in a chair.

"Do you know what I would do with you, if I were in the Old Squire's
place?" cried Addison. "I would put you at the Reform School, you little

Up jumped Halse to seize the other boot to throw, but was set down
again, this time so hard that the whole room shook. He sat panting a
moment, then began to whimper. Theodora came to the door.

"Oh, boys," said she in a low voice, "please don't. Do try not to
disturb Gramp to-night; he is very tired and has just gone to bed."

I suppose that we all felt ashamed of ourselves. I did; for I knew that
I had been somewhat to blame, to provoke Halstead so far. We fell asleep
in anything but a kindly mood toward each other; I had remained awake
till Halse was snoring, being a little afraid of him, to tell the truth.
Even after he was asleep, he kept starting and muttering, he had become
so much excited.

But for this incident I think that Theodora would have won her way, and
Halse would have been invited to go; she was very persevering, to carry
her point, when she thought a thing was right.

But now we were so embittered that Halstead declared next morning he
would not go with us, if we asked him.

"But you will all be sorry for this before you get back!" he blurted
out;--words which made me feel uneasy, for they seemed to imply a threat
of some sort. I said nothing about it, however, not believing that he
really would do anything.

That afternoon we finished picking the apples; and the Old Squire said
that the hired men could gather up those on the ground, for home use,
subsequently. Since we were going on a trip, he thought that we had
better go at once, before the weather turned colder. The fact was, that
Ad had succeeded in interesting Gramp in the trip. The old gentleman
owned a number of lots of wild land, up in the "great woods." There had
been stories that there was silver in some of the mountains there;
Addison often talked about finding mines; and as he already knew quite a
good deal about the different kinds of rocks and ores, the Old Squire
thought that he might possibly discover something of value.

That evening we were busy with our preparations for the trip; and I do
not remember seeing Halstead at all; Catherine and Tom Edwards came
over, and Willis Murch a little later, to ask about taking his gun.
Addison thought that one gun would be enough to carry; for we found out,
as every camping party does, that our luggage would prove burdensome and
must be reduced to the least possible weight. We wanted to take, in
addition to four "comforters" and two blankets, only what things we
could pack in two common bushel baskets which are convenient to carry,
either on one's shoulder, or for two persons where one lends a hand at
either ear of the basket. In one basket we packed our tinware,
frying-pan, tin dippers, plates, etc., along with four or five loaves of
bread, sugar, coffee, salt, pepper, etc., and four dozen eggs. In the
other was stowed potatoes, pork, a little bag of coarse corn meal for
mush, butter and a score other little articles that are often forgotten
at the start and sadly missed later on. Finally on top of each basket
was strapped the comforters and blankets.

It being past the middle of October, when frosty nights might be
expected, we all wore thick winter clothing and strong boots.

Gram had at last consented to allow Ellen and Theodora to go, although
it must be said that such a jaunt was not at all to the dear old lady's
taste, and violated many of her traditions of what girls should do.

There were none too many hours passed in sleep by any of us that night,
I feel sure; for we did not finish our preparations and packing, till
towards midnight; and Addison waked us promptly at five o'clock. When he
came to my door to call me, Halse waked up and lay scowling, as I
dressed by the light of a candle. "You feel mighty smart, don't ye?" he
said at length. I did not blame him much for being out of sorts, and so
did not reply.

"I hope it will rain every day you are gone!" he exclaimed. "I hope the
'Cannucks' will rob ye!"

There were rumors concerning parties of Canadian outlaws that were
thought to infest the "great woods," or at least to pass through it and
rendezvous somewhere in its recesses, on their way to and from Canada.
Hence the name of Cannucks.



We had breakfast at six; and then Asa Doane hitched up old Sol and Nancy
to the farm wagon on which we loaded our outfit and set off to take up
our friends, Thomas and Kate, also Willis Murch. We were to have four
days, five, including Sunday (for this was Thursday); Gramp expressly
stipulated, however, that we should remain quiet in our camp over the

"Now, boys," said the old gentleman, coming out to see us off, "be
prudent and careful, avoid rash encounters with man or beast.

"Addison," he continued in a lower voice, "I shall expect you to see
that everything goes right."

Gram's instructions to the girls had been given already and many times
repeated. We drove off in high spirits; and the old folks stood looking
after us. Happening to cast a glance to the upper windows of the house,
I saw Halstead's face, with so black a frown on it, that I experienced a
sudden foreboding.

But the beauty of the early autumnal morning, and the exaltation which
we all felt at starting out for a holiday, soon dispelled other

We had, as I now think, done wrong to exclude Halse; but it was a choice
of evils. His disposition was so peculiar, that we should most likely
have had trouble, if he had gone with us; and yet in leaving him behind,
we were prompting him to some bad act on account of the slight.

Thomas and Kate were waiting for us by the roadside and, after a joyous
greeting, climbed into the wagon; we then drove on to take up Willis,
whom we found equally on the alert. Each made contributions to the
common stock of provisions and outfit.

Half a mile above the Murch farm, the road entered the borders of the
"great woods," and immediately became little better than a trail, rather
rough and bushy; yet a well-marked track extended for five miles into
the forest, as far as Clear Pond from the shores of which pine lumber
had been drawn out two years previously. From the pond a less well
trodden trail led on over a high ridge of forest land, to the northwest,
for three miles, then descended into a heavily timbered valley, to an
old log structure known as "the skedaddlers' fort."

From "the skedaddlers' fort," there was still the faint trace of a path
through the woods, for two miles further, to the banks of Lurvy's

Thence the path continued along the bank of this large brook, for four
or five miles, then crossed it at a sandy ford, to a large opening in
the forest, partly natural meadow and partly cleared, called "the old
slave's farm," where there were two deserted log cabins.

Years before, a negro, said to have been a slave who had escaped from
one of the Southern States and was fleeing to Canada, settled in the
woods here by the stream, thinking perhaps that he had reached Canada
already. He cleared land, subsisted somehow, and made for himself a
considerable farm upon the naturally open intervale. He lived here alone
for many years, seen at times by passing lumbermen, or hunters. Some
ludicrous stories are told of the fright which the sight of a jet black
man gave inexperienced whites who chanced to stumble upon him suddenly
and alone in the woods! There were certain ignorant persons who always
considered this poor, lonely outcast as being a near relative of "old

During the Civil War he disappeared from his "farm" and may have
returned to the South, being no longer in fear of bondage. A little
cabin of hewn logs had sufficed him for a house and a few yards distant
another cabin gave shelter to his poultry and cow. These cabins having
stood unoccupied for many years in snow and rain, had bleached
themselves into cleanliness, and were not unfit to camp in for a few
days. It was here that we had decided to make our headquarters, while
exploring the streams and forest adjacent.

We had taken an ax as well as a gun; and by stopping to clear an
occasional windfall from the old road and going slowly over the logs,
stones and holes, the horses took us up to Clear Pond in about two

The deciduous trees were now nearly bare, save here and there a beech or
a deep purple ash. The golden red foliage of the sugar maples and the
yellow birches lay rustling under foot.

The woods looked light and open since the leaves had fallen. Only the
hemlocks and spruces retained their somber density, with a few firs in
the swamps and here and there a lofty pine on the mountain sides. All
the summer birds had gone already; but a few red-headed woodpeckers were
still tapping decayed tree trunks; and numerous jays made the woodland
resound to their varied outcries, first shrill and obstreperous, then
plaintive. Far up a hillside of poplar, a horde of crows were clamoring
over some corvine scandal, perhaps.

It was a sylvan, but wholly lonely scene, save for the partridges
rising, after every few rods, from the path in rapid whirring flight, or
standing still for a moment with sharply nodding heads and a quick,
short note of alarm, ere taking wing.

Willis, walking ahead with his gun, soon startled us with its near
report, adding a fine speckled cock to our prospective larder; erelong
he shot another and still another. These fine birds were very plenty in
the borders of the "great woods."

On reaching Clear Pond, we were obliged to say good-by to our team. The
wagon could go no further; for here the more recent lumber road
terminated, the trail beyond being older and much obstructed by fallen

Then began the real labor of carrying our baskets. Addison and I led off
with one basket and the ax; while Tom and Willis followed with the
other. The girls came on at leisure, in the rear; they were seeing a
great deal that was novel in the woods; and having but light loads, they
could enjoy it better than we boys who were carrying the bushel baskets.

Going up the side of the wooded ridge, a pine marten was espied in full
chase after a red squirrel, up and down the trunk of a spruce.

"What a specimen he would make to mount!" Addison exclaimed, and
dropping his "ear" of our basket, unslung his gun and ran forward to get
a shot; but the shy creature vanished in time to save its life, through
the thick tops of the adjacent trees. Near the top of the ridge, he
fired at a red-tailed hawk which had alighted on the top of a pine stub;
the distance was too great, however, and the hawk sailed away placidly.

After crossing the ridge, the path led us through denser, darker woods.
A large animal which Willis thought to be a bear, but Addison and Thomas
deemed more likely to be a deer, was heard to run away through a copse
of cedar, a little in advance of us. We passed some very large swamp
elms here and several basswoods fully four feet in diameter.

At length, a few minutes before twelve o'clock, by the old silver watch
(which Kate had brought from home to keep time for us during the trip)
we came out at the "skedaddlers' fort," where we had planned to stop
for lunch and make a pot of coffee. This was the first time I had heard
of this old structure, thus singularly named. But Willis, Thomas and
Kate knew its history; Addison and our girls had also heard accounts of

It stood in the midst of a little opening--now overgrown again--made by
felling the great bass, hemlock, and spruce trees, of which its log
walls were built. In length, it may have been forty feet, by about
twenty-five in width. It was substantially roofed with logs and "splits"
covered with gravel. There were little ports, six or eight inches
square, at intervals in the walls, at a height of six or seven feet from
the ground, and one heavy door, or gate, of hewn plank, five or six
inches thick. The little brook in the valley flows beneath one corner of
the building, ensuring water to those who may have dwelt within.

This log structure, suggestive both of warfare and refugee life, was a
great puzzle to a party of city young men who not many years ago
penetrated these forest solitudes, on a hunting excursion. They
concluded that it was built at a time when defense against the Indians
was necessary. A writer for a New York magazine, who seems to have
stumbled on this old "block-house," as he calls it, also came to the
conclusion that it was a relic of early border warfare.

It is nothing of the sort, however, and instead of being a hundred years
old, it is less than fifty. The city visitors did not make proper
allowance for the rapidity with which, in a damp, dense forest,
everything made of wood becomes moss-grown and decays.

During the Civil War, there was a class of so-called "skedaddlers;"
fellows undeserving the name of citizens, who, when the Republic called
for their services, ran away to Canada, or, gaining some remote covert
in the forest, defied the few officials who could be spared from the
front, to enforce law at home. But to the honor of our people it can be
truthfully said, that these weak-hearts were comparatively few in
number. Such there were, however; and to a party of them the
"skedaddlers' fort" owes its existence. It was built at about the time
the first "draft" of men was ordered in 1862. There were two or three
leading spirits, and altogether a gang of eighteen or twenty men banded
together in that vicinity to elude the enrollment. They "skedaddled" one
night--that was the time this ugly word originated--and took refuge in
the woods with their guns; and not long after, it is supposed, they
built this log fortalice in the depths of the wilderness.

In the dubious state of public feeling at that time, the people of the
county did not say much, directly, about the skedaddlers. No one, not of
the gang, knew who or how many were at the fort. At one time it was
rumored that there were a hundred armed men in the woods, probably an
exaggeration. Several farmers lost young cattle, which it was supposed
were stolen to supply food for the fort. One story was, that a number of
cows had been driven into the woods, to furnish a supply of milk. It is
hardly probable that these men could have been so ignorant as to think
that they would be able to resist the power of the government, if
official action were taken against them, although the fact of their
building a fort gave color to such a supposition. The wildest boasts
were made, indirectly, through sympathizers with them. Ten thousand
troops, it was asserted, could not drive them out of the woods! The
skedaddlers, it was said, were about to set up a new State there in the
wild lands and declare themselves free of the United States! Another
threat was that they would get "set off" and join Canada. If a Federal
soldier showed his blue coat in those woods (so rumor said), he would
suddenly meet a fate so strange that nobody could describe it!

Some months passed, when a boy named Samuel Murch--an older brother of
Willis and Ben--who trapped in the woods every fall, discovered the fort
one day and reconnoitered it. He had followed a cow's tracks up from the
cleared land. Several men were seen by him about the stockade, and there
was a large camp-fire burning outside, with kettles hanging from a pole
over it.

Every two or three days thereafter, Sam Murch, as he trapped, would go
around for a sly peep at the "fort;" and he kept people informed as to
appearances there.

It chanced that in October, that fall, a young volunteer, named Adney
Deering, came home on a furlough. He had been wounded slightly in the
leg, by a fragment of shell.

Adney, who was a bright, handsome young fellow, then in his twentieth
year, looked very spruce in his blue uniform. He was brimful of
patriotism and gave graphic accounts of battles, with warlike ardor.
When he heard of the "skedaddlers" and their fort, he expressed the
greatest indignation and contempt for them. At a husking party one
evening, several of the young men proposed that Adney should go with
them on a deer hunt in the "great woods," before he went back to his
regiment. Someone then remarked that, if he went, he had better not wear
his uniform, as threats had been made of shooting the first soldier who
showed his head in the woods. This aroused Adney's ire. "Let them
shoot!" he exclaimed. "I will wear my uniform anywhere I choose to go! I
will go all through those woods and walk right up to the door of their

Several of the older men then advised him not to go near the "fort."

"Pooh!" cried Adney. "I used to know many of those fellows. They are a
set of cowards. Ten to one, they wouldn't dare fire at a soldier!"

Others who were present thought they would dare; and Adney became
excited. "It is a disgrace," he exclaimed, "that those skulkers are
allowed to harbor there!" And he offered to wager that he could take six
soldiers and drive them out, without firing a single cartridge.

One or two of his friends laughed at this boast, which so exasperated
Adney that he instantly declared that he could drive them out alone. All
laughed still more heartily at that. The laughter only stimulated Adney
to make good his rather loud boast, if possible; and the result was,
that he hit on the following stratagem for routing the "skedaddlers."
There was no lack of drums in the neighborhood, for in those days the
boys, who were not old enough to volunteer, had fond dreams of going to
the War as drummer-boys. Adney went about privately next morning with
Sam Murch and induced three or four young fellows to take drums and go
with him into the woods that afternoon. Under Sam's lead the little
party arrived in the vicinity of the "fort," shortly before nightfall.
Adney then stationed one of the boys with his drum at a point to the
northeast of the log fortress, at a distance of about half a mile from
it, in the thick woods. Another was posted farther around to the north;
and still another to the northwest.

Adney's orders to them all were to keep quiet at their posts until they
heard him fire a gun. Then all three were to beat the "long roll," then
a quickstep; in fact, they were to make all the drum-racket they could,
as if a number of companies, or regiments, were advancing on the fort
from all quarters, except the south.

Adney himself went down near the fort, just at dusk, and contrived to
give the inmates a glimpse of his figure in his army blue--as if he were
a spy, reconnoitering the place. He then withdrew, and ten or fifteen
minutes later, fired off his gun, when at once from three different
points, in the darkening forest, there burst forth the roll of drums,
Adney calling out in military accents, "_Steady! Close up! Forward!

The result showed that the young soldier's estimate of the valor of the
skedaddlers was a perfectly correct one. For no sooner did they hear the
roll of drums, than, fancying that they were being surrounded by a force
of soldiers, they deserted their fort and skedaddled again, out through
the woods on the south side. From the stories they afterward told, it is
pretty clear that they did some remarkable running that night, and were
about as badly frightened as they could be. Six or seven of them kept to
the woods and made their way into Canada, where they lived till after
the close of the War. One, the "Lieutenant" of the gang, ran home--as
his wife told the story--and hid under a pile of old straw in the back
yard. Several others were known by their neighbors to be lurking at
their homes, keeping in cellars and chambers, during the following week.
In short, this well-planned "attack" of Adney's broke up their
rendezvous in the "great woods," and the fort was never occupied
afterwards. The young soldier, who had approached near enough to witness
the stampede, bivouacked his small drum-corps there that night very
comfortably, and marched home in triumph next morning. The affair
created much merriment and many jokes; and the moral would seem to be,
that a fellow who will sneak off when his country calls for his
services, is never a person to be feared as a warrior.

It was not a very pleasant place to linger in; and directly after we had
taken our luncheon, we resumed our journey along the old trail, having a
hard jaunt before us (as Addison well knew) to reach the "old slave's
farm" before nightfall. There were a great many windfalls across the
trail from the "fort," to the stream; we were an hour at least making
the two miles, and the path along the bank was even worse, for freshets
had lodged great quantities of drift stuff on the flats, so that, at
last, we abandoned the trail altogether and took to the less obstructed
woods, a little back from the banks.

The stream is a pretty one, being here not above forty or fifty feet in
width, running over a sandy bed, sometimes pebbles, and again bending
around in a deep pool where there are trout of good size, or at least
were then.

It seemed a very long way to the opening; the girls were becoming tired;
and we boys with the baskets had quite enough of it, long before we
reached the ford which Addison and Thomas, who had been here before,
remembered to be near two very tall pines. Several times we feared that
we must have passed it; but finally, at about four o'clock, the great
bushy opening on the other side of the stream came in view. Immediately
then Addison saw the pines, and taking off our boots and stockings, we
all walked across on a sandy bar over which the water ran in a shallow,
being nowhere over a foot deep. It was quite cold, however, so that we
were glad to replace socks and boots, after crossing.

The old slave's cabins stood about two hundred yards from the brook and,
as above described, were situated some twenty yards apart. The land
about them had been cleared at one time and put into grass, or corn. But
low clumps of hazel-nut bushes were now growing around the cabins. About
a year previously a party of deer hunters had camped here for a few days
and, thinking the cabins snug and pleasant, had cleared them out nicely
and built bunks in them to sleep in. We found the remains of their old
couches of fir boughs still in the bunks. Their camp-fire had been made
in the open space, midway between the two cabins; and they had
constructed a species of stone fireplace for setting their kettles in.

"Here we are!" Addison exclaimed, as we set down our baskets. "What say
to this for a camping-place, girls!"

"Oh, this is jolly!" cried Kate. "And won't it be nice, Doad, we girls
can have a whole cabin all to ourselves! Now which one can we have?"

"You are privileged to take your choice," replied Addison. "Take the one
you like best."

The girls went peeping into each, to examine them well, and were in
doubt for some moments. In fact, there was not much to choose betwixt
the two.

At length, Kate announced that they would have the one "the old slave"
lived in, himself.

"No doubt he spent many a lonesome hour there," said Theodora. "I should
like to know his history."

"That's what nobody can find out," said Tom. "But I am glad he lived
here and left his hut for us to camp in."

We sat on the grassy sward of the old yard and rested for some minutes,
then began our preparations for supper.

"Now we must all fall to with a will," said Addison. "It is a job to get
things fixed up nice for night."

"Addison, you be captain and tell us each what to do," suggested Kate.
"We will all obey and work like good soldiers;--for we all want some
supper, I guess."

"Well, then," said Addison, "what do you want for your supper?"

"Poached eggs on toast!" cried Ellen.

"I think some of those partridges would go well," said Kate.

"Would it take long to fricassee them?" Addison asked.

"Oh, not very long," said Theodora.

"I can dress them off in ten minutes," said Willis, "if you don't insist
on their being picked and will let me skin them instead; for I can take
their skins off, feathers and all, in just one minute apiece."

"Go ahead," exclaimed Addison; "Tom, get dry wood from that drift-heap
down by the brook and build a nice camp-fire; and Kate, you and Doad
unpack the baskets and get the coffee-pot, tin kettle and frying-pan
ready. While you are doing that, the rest of us can throw out those old
yellow boughs from the bunks, then cut new ones and make the bunks all
up sweet and fresh for night; and after that we will drag up a lot of
wood for our camp-fire, through the evening."

"Shall we not keep a camp-fire burning all night?" Theodora asked.

"Oh, yes! let's not let the fire go out!" cried Ellen. "We're a dreadful
ways from home, up here in the great woods! How many miles have we come,

"About seventeen miles, all told."

"Yes; do let's have a good roaring fire all night," said Kate.

It quite frightened the girls to think how far they were from home, in
the forest, now that the sun began to sink behind the tree tops.

"All right!" laughed Addison. "Gather lots of wood. It will take piles
of it to burn all night."

But Theodora made a discovery which gave them a good deal of comfort.

"We've got a door to our cabin!" she called out from inside it. "Quite a
good door. See," she said, swinging it. "We can shut our cabin up, just
like any house, and fasten it, too. Here's a great button on the
door-post. Nothing can get in to hurt us after we shut and button our
door. Have you got any door to your cabin?"

Investigation of our cabin disclosed no door. There was a _button_ on
the door-post; but the door had been removed.

The girls laughed at us. "A fine house you've got!" said Kate. "No door!
You will be carried off before morning by a panther."

"Never mind us," replied Addison. "Fasten up your own door, snug and

"When we get ready to go to bed," said Willis, "we will _turn our
button_; I guess that will answer for us.

"But I've got the partridges all dressed," he continued, "and I'm going
to cut them up and put them into the tin kettle, to parboil, and then,
when they are partly cooked, you can put them into the frying-pan, if
you like."

"Can't you thicken up some kind of a flour and butter gravy to go with
those partridges, Kate?" said Tom.

"Why, bless you, Thomas, there's no flour!" replied his sister.

"I think I could use Indian meal instead of flour," said Theodora,
"though I wouldn't promise it would be as good, since it might taste a
little coarse."

"Well, try it, anyway," said Tom; "for I like that kind of a gravy first

"Oh, it just makes me laugh to hear boys talk about cooking," exclaimed
Kate. "They do have such droll ideas!"

"Well, I know what I like," said Tom; "and I wouldn't give much for a
girl that cannot make a gravy."

"Oh, the nice, agreeable boy! So he should have his gravy on his
partridge," teased Kate.

"I've too much regard for the reputation of our family to quarrel with
my sister before folks," laughed Thomas. "She's an awful provoking
thing, though!"

"Oh, the dear boy!" retorted Kate.

"Somebody give me some cold water to hold in my mouth," groaned Tom.
"She must have the last word, anyway."

That was quite a common kind of encounter between Tom and his sister
Kate; yet I never saw brother and sister more attached to each other.
Only about a year and a half younger than her brother, Kate was a match
for him in about everything and rather more than a match in repartee.

Meantime Theodora was toasting some squares of bread to put in the
partridge fricassee, and looking about for a dish to manufacture Tom's
butter and meal gravy in.

There was a copse of little firs, standing about a low, wet piece of
ground, a few hundred feet away. To these we had recourse for the
material to fill the bunks.

Thomas having collected a woodpile of good proportions, proceeded to put
on fourteen potatoes to boil, reckoning two for each member of the
party; and as the partridges were boiling briskly, fast progressing to
the cooked condition, Catherine made coffee. It was agreed, however,
that after that evening, we were to take coffee but once per day; and
everybody voted to have it in the morning.

Addison now busied himself devising a "table;" and in this matter he was
assisted by the labors of the previous party of deer-hunters who had
left a large board behind them, to be set on forked stakes, driven into
the ground; there were also two rough benches for seats.

It was not till after dusk had fairly settled over the wilderness that
our supper was pronounced ready by the many cooks who had taken a hand
in its preparation. The camp-fire was replenished, so that a genial glow
and plenty of light was diffused about; and then our meal began. We had
the three partridges quite well cooked; and Thomas had his dear gravy.
There were boiled potatoes and some pork, fried crisp, to suit Willis;
also boiled eggs for all and plenty of toasted bread with butter. Kate
had also brought a lot of "cookies," which went well with coffee.

Addison sat at one end of the table and dished out the partridges.
Theodora presided over the coffee; and Ellen and Kate looked after the
toast. The long jaunt had given us fine appetites and we cleared the
rude board of the eatables, enjoying it as only a hungry party of
campers, who have had their own supper to get and have waited an hour or
two for it to cook, can enjoy such a meal.

Dishes had then to be picked up, and water brought and heated; for
dishes must needs be washed.

"Oh dear!" sighed Ellen. "I did hope I could get to a place once where
there were no dishes to be washed. I always have it to do at home."

"You've got to that place!" exclaimed Thomas. "I'll wash them, if you
girls will agree to eat off them next meal and find no fault."

"I'll wipe them if Tom'll wash them!" cried Willis. "'Tis tough for
girls always to have to wash dishes."

"I agree to find no fault for one," said Ellen.

"We might do as they are said to do in the lumbering camps," remarked
Addison; "that is to eat off the same plates without washing, till we
forget what we ate off them last."

"I object to such a plan as that!" cried Theodora. "I would rather wash
them all, myself."

Tom and Willis washed the dishes that night, however; and the girls sat
back on their bench and smiled and pinched each other, to see the

By the time the dishes question was disposed of and everything had been
tidied up and the fire once more attended to, the darkness of an October
night had fallen. Everything outside the circle of our firelight was
veiled in obscurity. There was no moon and it was a little cloudy, at
least, the stars did not seem to show much. Very soon as we sat on our
benches in front of the girls' cabin, we began to hear various wild
notes from the great somber forest about us.

"What is that kind of plaintive cry that I hear now and then near the
stream?" Theodora asked. "It's like the word _seet_! I have heard it
several times since dark, once or twice back of the cabins, and now out
there by the two pines."

"That? Oh, that is the night note of a little mouse-catching owl," said
Addison. "Some term it the saw-whet owl, I believe. There are numbers of
these little fellows about at night, in these woods. They catch lots of
woods mice and such small birds as chickadees."

"But hark! what was that strange, lonesome, hollow cry?" said Ellen, as
an outcry at a distance, came wafted on the still air.

"Oh, that's a raccoon," said Tom. "He's trying to attract the notice of
some other 'coon. You'll hear him for fifteen or twenty minutes now,
every minute or so."

"They came into our corn-field last year," said Willis. "We heard them
every night, calling to each other. I set a trap, but never could get
any of them into it."

Willis went on to relate several raccoon stories which his older
brothers had told him. "Hullo!" he suddenly interrupted himself. "Hear
that? away off up there by the foot of the mountain?"

"I know what that was," said Tom. "That was a screamer."

"What is a 'screamer?'" Theodora asked.

"Oh, it's a kind of wild-cat," replied Thomas. "You tell her, Addison."

"If it is a wild-cat, it is the same as the 'lucivee,' or loup-cervier,"
replied Addison. "But I have never heard one cry out at night; so I
cannot say for certain."

"Oh, I have," said Willis. "They have little tassels on the top of their
ears and are about as big as a fair-sized dog. But they never come near
a camp; they are so shy that you never can get sight of one, though the
lumbermen tell stories of having fights with them. They've got long
claws and could scratch like sin, if they were cornered up anywheres."

"Sometimes they will follow after anybody for a long ways," said Thomas.
"Father told me that, when he was a boy, the mill stream at the village
got so low one fall that they could not grind wheat or corn there. So
grandpa sent him over to Pride's grist mill, in Willowford, with the
horse and wagon and a load of corn. There were a lot of grists in ahead
of him; and before the miller got around to grind out father's corn, it
was dark, and he had to drive home, thirteen miles, in the evening. It
was woods nearly all the way then; and after he had gone a mile, or two,
and it had come on very dark, so dark he could hardly see his hand
before him, he heard a snarling noise behind him. Turning round, he saw
two bright spots just behind the wagon. It scared him; he started the
horse up, but those spots came right close along after him. Every time
he looked around, he would see them, and he could hear the creature's
feet _pat_ in the road, too, as it ran after the wagon. He kept the
horse trotting along pretty fast and held the butt of his whip all ready
to strike, if the creature jumped into the wagon. It didn't jump in, but
kept near the hind end of the wagon; and it followed father for as much
as two miles, till he met a man with an ox team. He was so taken up
watching for those eyes, back there in the dark, that he came near
running into the ox team; but the man shouted to him to pull up. He told
the man that something had been chasing him; but the eyes had
disappeared; and he saw nothing more of them. Father thinks now that it
was a 'screamer,' though it might have been a panther. There were lots
of panthers in the woods, in those days."

"Are there any now?" asked Theodora, looking a little uncomfortable.

"No," said Addison. "I don't think there are."

"Well, I'm not so sure of that," said Thomas. "There may be one passing
through here, once in a while. Did you ever hear the Old Squire tell the
story of the panther that he and my grandfather killed, when they were

"No," said Addison. "The old gentleman never talks much of his early

Ellen said that she had heard Gram speak of it once.

"Tell the story, Tom," said I.

"Oh, you get the old gentleman to tell it to you, sometime," replied
Tom. "I can't tell it good. But 'twas real _scarey_ and interesting.
Something about a cow. The panther killed my grandfather's father's cow,
I believe. The men were all away. It was in the winter time; and those
two boys followed the panther's track away up into the great woods here
somewheres and shot it. It's a real interesting story. You get the old
gentleman to tell it to you some evening."

"We will," said Theodora. "I'll ask him the first night after we go

"My! Did you hear what an awful noise _that_ was, just now?" exclaimed

We had all heard it--a singular yell, not wholly unlike the human voice,
yet of ugly, wild intonation. Addison and Thomas exchanged glances.

"Queer what a noise a screech owl will make," the former remarked, after
a moment's silence.

"Dear me, was that a screech owl?" said Theodora.

"Oh, I guess so," replied Addison carelessly. "They make an awful outcry

Tom did not say anything, but he told me next day that it was a bear
which had made that cry, only a little ways from the camp; and that he
had winked to Addison not to tell the girls, for they were looking
nervously about them, after hearing the "screamer" story.

It was not a cold night, for October; yet as the evening advanced the
fire felt very comfortable.

As we sat talking, several striped squirrels came out in sight into the
firelight. There were hundreds of these little fellows there in the
clearing, gathering the hazel nuts for their winter store. The hazel
nuts were very large, nearly the size of those sold as filberts. The
squirrels made their winter burrows in the ground about the old stumps.
Kate had gathered a pint dipper full of the nuts before dark; and as we
sat talking, we cracked them with round stones from the stream. Once we
heard a great rushing and running, as of large animals through the
bushes, at no great distance away.

"Hear the deer go!" Willis exclaimed.

Tom laughed. "We will pop over some of them to-morrow," said he. But he
whispered to me a few minutes later, that he expected two bears were
having a squabble over there in the brush. By and by we heard them
running again; and this time they passed around to the south of our
camping place, and we heard them go, splashing, through the stream and
away into the woods on the other side. Willis jumped up and gave a loud
_so-ho!_ which resounded far across the darkened wilderness; and then
for a time all the wild denizens of the forest seemed to remain quiet,
as if listening to this unusual shout.

"Oh, don't, Willis!" cried Ellen. "It seems as if you were telling all
these wild creatures where we are!"

"So I am," said Willis; "if they want to call on us, they will find a
load of buckshot all ready for them."

"What time is it, Kate?" Addison at length asked.

"Twenty-five minutes to ten," she replied.

"Well, we want to get an early start to-morrow morning," said Addison.
"So I guess we had better go to bed and try to get as much sleep as we
can. I'm for one."

"So am I," said Theodora. "But I don't believe I shall sleep much."

"Oh, you need not be the least bit afraid," said Addison.

"We'll look out for you, girls," said Thomas. "I will kindle up a good
fire, so that it will shine right into your cabin; and you can close and
button your door. You need not be one bit afraid to go to sleep. Nothing
will come near this fire."

"You are going to keep the camp-fire burning all night, Addison, aren't
you now?" said Theodora.

"Oh, yes," replied he, cheerily. "If I don't get too soundly asleep," he
added, in a lower voice, at which Tom and Willis laughed, well knowing
that it is one thing for a tired party to talk of tending a fire all
night, but quite another thing to actually do so, as the morning's cold
ashes generally show.

"If I don't miss of it," said Tom, "I'm going to have a rare dish for
breakfast. I hope I sha'n't over-sleep."

"What is it?" Ellen asked.

"Oh, you will find out at breakfast," he replied.

"Well, good-night, boys," said Kate. "I hope you will all sleep well,
but not so well as to forget the camp-fire."

"No, please now do not let that go out," added Theodora.

"We will look out for it," said Willis--"in the morning!"

Good-nights were interchanged; the girls then went into their cabin and
not very long after shut and fastened their door.

We boys, in the doorless cabin, soon spread up our own bunks; we were
all tired, and novel as the situation was to me, I think I had not been
lying down over ten or fifteen minutes, when I fell soundly asleep.

As a rule, healthy young folks, from twelve to fifteen years of age, do
not lie awake much in the night, under any circumstances. Once asleep,
they are not apt to wake, till well rested. The normal condition of a
boy of that age, is to be in the open air all day, actively employed,
either in play, or work, which keenly interests him, and to have all the
good food he wants, at suitable hours. To a boy thus engaged, the period
from the time he falls asleep in the evening till next morning, is apt
to be one of utter oblivion. That is the way to sleep. Older persons,
troubled by insomnia and its usual cause, bad digestion, would do well
to return to these simple and health-giving modes of life, best seen in
an active boy, or girl.

Somebody shook me. I thought I had but that moment fallen asleep. It was
Thomas. "Wake up," he whispered. "Let's you and I go catch some trout
for breakfast. They say this brook is full of them. I brought along my
hooks. Come on."

The word _trout_ is a good one to get a sleepy boy's eyes open with; I
rose at once.

"Let's go out still," whispered Tom, "so as not to wake the girls. I
don't want them to see us start off, for we may not have any luck, you
know; and it's a thing I never could stand, to come back from fishing,
with no fish, and have folks asking me where my fish are."

Addison was awake and lay regarding us, sleepily; but Willis had already
got up and gone out with the gun. It was quite light and nearing
sunrise; there was a slight frost on the crisp grass about the cabins.
The fire had gone out, hours before; not even a smoldering ember or a
wreath of smoke, remained of it. The squirrels had already begun to
"chicker" in the hazel copses; and a large pileated woodpecker was
calling out loudly from the top of a tall pine stub, off in the opening.

We had nothing for bait, except a bit of white, fat pork. First we went
down to the ford. "Look there," said Tom, pointing to our tracks of
yesterday in the sand and some more recent impressions, nearly or quite
as large. "See those bear tracks! Some bear has been smelling about
here, during the night! Oh, this is quite a place for game. But don't
talk _bear_ much before the girls, or we shall get them so skittish that
we cannot stir. They'll feel quite courageous this morning, when they
wake up and find nothing has carried them off, if they don't see these
bear tracks." Thomas proceeded to scuff the tracks over with his boot.

We then cut two hazel fishing rods, tied a line and hook to each, baited
the hooks with a scred of the pork, and then going down the stream, till
we came to a pool at a bend, crept carefully up to the verge of the bank
and gently dropped in our hooks.

"Shake 'em just a little easy," whispered Tom; for as yet my education
in the art of trout fishing had been neglected. "Shake the bait easy,
and kind o' bob it up and down; and if you get a bite don't yank very
hard, just a little pull, and then swing him out on to the bank."

His words were hardly out, before I felt a vigorous tug at my hook, and
quite forgetful of advice, gave a tremendous jerk and flung a half pound
trout clean over our heads and into the hazel bushes!

"Gracious! you've scared every fish in this hole!" exclaimed Tom. "But
that's a good trout. Pick him up and string him. I guess I'll go up
stream now, and you fish on down stream. When we each get a dozen, we
will go to the camp; but don't stay too long, anyway."

Tom was a little disgusted, I suppose, with the way I yanked out that
trout, and thought that I had better fish by myself. He went off up the
brook. I determined to catch a dozen as quickly as he did. So I strung
my half-pound fish on a hazel twig, and scud along to the next bend of
the brook. I had no more than looked to my bait and dropped in there,
when I had a bite and (this time more carefully) swung out a thumping
big trout that would have weighed near a pound! His sides were well
specked with red; he was a beauty!

Taking him off the hook, after some trouble with him in a bunch of
brush, I strung him, dropped in again, and had a third one
out--smaller--in less than half a minute. The brook was plainly well
stocked with trout. Baiting again, I tossed in and caught a fourth in
less time than it had taken me to cut off the scred of pork. I got a
fifth and a sixth, both good-sized, and had my seventh bite, when,
jerking, I lost him, and the hook, catching on a dry pine branch which
stuck out from a pile of drift, was broken. It was the only one I had,
and I stamped the ground with vexation. Tom would beat me now; and as it
would do no good to linger after the hook was gone, I took my string of
half a dozen--weighing fully three pounds--and went back to camp as fast
as I could, in order to show good time on the half dozen.

I was in a few minutes ahead of Thomas. But he brought a dozen nice
ones, though some of his were smaller than mine. He had one larger than
my largest, however. The eighteen, as we laid them out on the grass,
were a pretty lot to look at, with the sunshine playing on their spotted

Meantime, I had heard Willis's gun several times, and Tom said that he
had heard it, too. "He's shooting partridges, or else gray squirrels, I
guess," Tom remarked. "Gray squirrels, where they have fed on hazel nuts
for a month or two, make a luscious good stew."

Addison had just come out and kindled a fire; and before we had our
trout dressed, ready to fry, Willis came in with a string of four
partridges, but no squirrels.

"Are the partridges plenty?" Ad asked.

"Well, there's some. They seem a little shy, though," replied Willis,
taking the cap off the tube of the gun, which had a percussion lock. "I
shouldn't wonder if some hunter had been firing among them, by the way
they fly," he added. "But we can get all we shall want."

"Aren't the girls up yet?" said Thomas. "Wonder what they would say if
they knew the fire all went out by eleven o'clock! There's lots of bears
round here, too."

"That's so," said Willis. "I've seen bear sign out here in the opening
this morning in more'n a dozen places."

"Well, keep quiet about it," said Thomas. "We'll call it _deer_. When
any of us speak of _deer_, we boys will know that it's bear. It's of no
use to scare the girls; and the bears won't touch us this time of year

We began getting breakfast. Potatoes were put to roast in the embers;
but the chief dish was to be trout. Thomas began frying them in butter
and meal and set a big tin platter down by the fire to keep them hot,
after he had taken them from the pan. Willis tended the fire and kept
the embers banked over the potatoes; and Addison got on water for
coffee. About this time the door of the girls' cabin was heard to creak;
and we saw Catherine and Theodora peeping out.

"What lazy things girls are!" Addison exclaimed, derisively. "Here it is
nigh seven o'clock and you sluggards are not out yet."

"Oh, we've been awake and up a long time," said Kate. "It was fun to lie
and hear you boys pottering about, trying to get breakfast, and to hear
you talk, too. I suppose we shall all be obliged to go down to the brook
to wash our faces," she added. "I don't believe any of you boys have
thought of washing your faces yet! Tom looks frowzy; I won't say
anything about the others."

"No," said Addison. "We don't think of such a thing as washing our faces
up here!"

"Well, then, you had better, if you are going to take breakfast with us;
hadn't they, Theodora?"

"Indeed, they had!" cried Theodora. "I decline to sit down to breakfast
with any fellow who hasn't washed his face."

Thereupon the three girls set off for the ford, with combs, soap and

"You will see a lot of _deer_ tracks down there in the sand," Thomas
called after them, with a wink to the rest of us.

Our breakfast was nearly ready, and with everything keeping warm by the
fire, we now ran down to the ford, to perform our own rather tardy
ablutions. The girls, looking fresh as pinks, had finished theirs and
were gathering more hazel nuts, and Theodora and Kate had crossed the
ford to gather a few bunches of high-bush cranberry fruit, which they
espied hanging temptingly out over the stream, on that side. These
cranberries make a nice relish for meat, or fish.

"Come on, girls!" Tom called out, as soon as we had doused our faces and
ran a comb through our locks. "Come on now, lively! Breakfast is all
ready and I've got something nice, I assure ye."

We went back to the cabins together.

"I didn't know that deer made such big tracks as those down there in the
sand," said Theodora. "I thought deer made little tracks more like sheep

"Oh, caribou deer make tremendous tracks, as big as a man's almost,
because they step down upon their fetlocks and their feet are hairy,"
said Thomas, with a wondrous wise look to the rest of us.

"But are there caribou deer in Maine?" Theodora asked.

"Oh, a good many," replied Addison.

"Don't ask them any more questions, Doad," said Kate. "They are
deceiving us about something, I don't know what, exactly. But let them
enjoy it, if they find so much sport in it."

We sat down to breakfast at once, and the trout were delicious, at least
we all thought so; and so were the baked potatoes, eggs and toast.

"Now," said Addison after we had finished, "my program for to-day is to
climb the mountain over on the other side of the stream, and search for
some mineral ledges which I have heard of there. I don't want the others
to go with me, unless they want to, and would rather do that than
anything else. There are plenty of nice trips to make. Those who wish
can go to dig spruce gum upon the side of that dark-looking mountain on
the far side of the opening here; or they can go fishing, or hunting, or
go out here and collect hazel nuts for winter. For we can carry home a
bushel of nuts with us if we choose."

"We might get ten bushels," said Thomas, "if we could only dig out the
hoards of these squirrels that have been at work all the fall."

"Then there is another trip that I want to make," said Addison. "They
say there is a mountain side, about five miles up here to the northeast
of us, that is covered with balm o' Gilead trees, thousands of them. I
want to find out if that is really so, and if the trees are easy to
reach. For I have heard that druggists, in Boston and New York, pay four
dollars a pound for the buds of this tree, when gathered at the proper
season, in the early spring, to use for liniments and other medicines.
If that is so, and there are great numbers of the trees, I want to make
a trip up here about the first of May, next spring, and gather two
bushel baskets full. I don't see why a small party might not earn a
couple of hundred dollars in a few days."

"Good idea!" exclaimed Catherine. "And will you include us girls in your
money-making party?"

"Of course," said Addison, "If you will go and help gather the buds, it
shall be share and share alike."

"Then Addison," said Kate, laughing, "I guess I will join your
expedition to-day. For you seem to be a pretty good business man, and I
like folks that look out for making money."

"My sister Kate is a great girl for money," said Thomas.

"That is so," replied Kate. "I think that money is a great institution.
I would like to get lots of it."

"I know that we all want to go on each and all of these trips," said
Theodora. "I do, at any rate. So why not all go with Addison to-day,
then go to look for the balm o' Gileads to-morrow; and then all go after
spruce gum the next day."

"Next day is Sunday!" exclaimed Ellen.

"Well, then, Monday," said Theodora.

"But Monday we have to go home," said Willis. "My father told me to get
back Monday and no mistake about it."

"Well then, we shall have to make a short trip after gum and go
hazel-nutting and fishing all in one day," said Addison. "I don't see
but that Tom and Willis will have to make the exploring trip up to the
balm o' Gilead place to-day, if they are willing."

"All right," said Thomas.

"Why not make the trip this forenoon," said Willis, "and so come around
to join you at this mountain over across where you are going for

"That will suit me," said Addison.

Our plans for the day were laid accordingly; and half an hour later,
Addison and I, with the three girls, set off on our excursion to the
mountain side; while Tom and Willis took the gun and went up the brook,
in the direction of the balm o' Gilead hill.

"We shall get around where you are by noon," said Thomas. "You will hear
us shouting for you."

Our party of five had first to ford the brook, then make a trip of two
miles or more through the forest. We took a lunch of bread and cheese,
and a dipper along with us, as it was doubtful whether we should return
till late in the day. The forest on the intervale between the stream and
the mountain was mainly of spruce, basswood, yellow birch and a few
firs. The balsam blisters on the leaden gray trunks of the latter were
now plump and full, and when punctured, yielded each a few drops of
balsam, as clear as crystal--the same "Canada balsam" which
microscopists make so much use for preserving their "slides" of
specimens. The French Canadians call the tree _epinette blanche_; it is
very abundant in the swamps of the eastern provinces.

The yellow birches were large trees of very solid wood, displaying
trunks shaggy with curling bark and moss. Many of the basswoods, too,
were very large; the trunks of these when old had furrowed bark not
wholly unlike sugar maples, but rather less rugged, and more regularly
grooved. The great white ash trees, too, presented similar furrowed
bark, but of lighter gray tint.

The spruces which were here most numerous, varied from a foot to two
feet in diameter, being such as are ordinarily cut for lumber throughout
Maine and Canada. These are the trees which afford the chewing gum, sold
in the larger towns and cities. Kate was not long discovering some fine
great lumps of it which studded a seam in a large spruce. "Lend me your
knife, Addison," she exclaimed. "I want to dig some gum. Come here,

Enough was dug in a few minutes to keep our whole party chewing all that
day and at intervals for many subsequent days. It is a rather bootless
kind of effort, at best, though it may tend to develop the muscles of
one's jaws.

In the course of an hour we reached the foot of the mountain, then began
climbing up the side of it, which was quite steep and rough. Boulders
of all sizes obstructed the way and we soon came to high ledges of bare
gray rock which Addison declared to be mostly of granite. Through these
rocks and ledges, however, there ran a great many veins of white quartz.
Some of these veins were narrow, only an inch, or a few inches, thick;
but others were wider and we presently found one of lovely tinted rose
quartz not less than a yard thick.

"Oh, how beautiful!" Theodora exclaimed; she and Kate sat down by it,
admiring the fine rosy tint. They wished to break off pieces to carry
home; but we had brought no sledge, or other stone mason's tools. By
searching about at the foot of the ledge below, however, Addison found a
number of rosy fragments which had broken off in the lapse of time and
fallen down the hillside. Such specimens are attractive to gather up,
but heavy to carry home.

The girls having grown somewhat fatigued by this time, Addison and I
left them at the rose quartz ledges, and went on more rapidly, to search
for other minerals. We climbed higher up the mountain side, then went
back and forth for nearly an hour. At last we came to the place he was
in search of, a long crevice extending up and down the rough face of a
ledge which rose almost perpendicularly to a height of forty feet.

The crevice was only wide enough to thrust in one's fingers and seemed
to be lined with large, hexagonal crystals, as clear as water. The
points of these crystals, which had beautiful facets, jutted out past
each other in many places, and seemed to match together like teeth in
opposed jaws. Still higher up in the same ledges, there were scores of
quartz veins, converging and crossing each other in a network; and in
some of this white quartz there were minute, bright, yellow specks which
Ad said was gold. He thought that there was both gold and silver in this
ledge, and that if the top were blasted off, the quartz beneath would be
found still richer in these precious metals;--that being the theory of
mining engineers, as he had heard his father explain it.

After we had looked it over for a time, I went back to conduct the girls
to the place; and with half an hour of hard climbing, they arrived at
the foot of the crag.

Immediately then we discovered Addison, laboriously at work, attempting
to break out fragments containing the crystals, by beating on the
adjacent rock with a large stone. He had already succeeded in crushing
off some of the crystals; but he ruined far more of the handsome points
than he secured whole.

"Oh, aren't they beautiful!" was Theodora's first exclamation. "Do let's
get a lot of them!"

"Is this what the hunters call the 'diamond ledge?'" Catherine asked.

"Yes," replied Addison, "but of course these crystals are only of quartz
and by no means very valuable, save to put in collections of minerals.
They are nothing but quartz rock."

"But they are very pretty," said Kate. "I would like to get a lot of
them to set around our front doorstep."

"If only we had drills and a hammer, with a few pounds of gunpowder, we
could throw out handsome specimens!" exclaimed Addison. "Sometime, let's
get some tools and come up here. Who knows what lovely ones there may be
deeper down in the crevice!"

As he was speaking, we heard a distant halloo, away to the north of us.
"That's Tom and Willis," said I. "They're coming round this way."

We answered their shouts and soon heard another halloo.

"They'll find us now," said Addison.

"Let's spread our luncheon down here in the shadow of the crag," said

There was no water at hand, so I took the little pail in which the lunch
had been brought, and set off down the mountain in quest of some.
Descending into a little hollow, I found a spring issuing from beneath a
large rock. It was very cold water; the spring was shallow, yet with the
dipper, I was able slowly to dip up a three quart pail nearly full. It
was a delicate task to carry it up the steep mountain side, without
spilling it. When at length I rejoined the party, at the foot of the
crag, Tom and Willis were coming up from another direction.

"Hullo, Ad!" exclaimed Tom. "Seen any game?" I thought from the way he
spoke that he and Willis had seen something in that line.

"No," said Addison, "we have been looking for something different. Have
you seen any?"

"Yes, sir-ee!" said Tom.

"What was it?" inquired Kate.

"_Deer_," said Tom with a knowing look at the rest of us boys.

"You don't say so!" exclaimed Addison. "Really _deer_! How snug did you
get to a _deer_?"

"Snug enough to put our hands on him!" said Willis, with a chuckle.

"What, have you killed a _deer_?" asked Addison, incredulously.

"Really and truly we have!" said Tom, with a ring of exultation in his
voice. "'Twasn't a very big one, though," he added.

"No," said Willis, "it was only a yearling _deer_. We came upon him
behind a tree root. He only ran a few steps and then turned round to
snuff at us. Tom let him have a load of heavy shot and knocked him stiff
as a mitten."

"We shot two hedgehogs, too, up there at the balm o' Gilead hill," said

"Did you skin that _deer_?" Addison inquired, laughing.

"Yes; and we've got ten or twelve pounds of the meat, wrapped up in the

"But where is the skin?" I asked.

"Oh, we left the skin, with the meat wrapped up in it, back here a few
steps by a rock," replied Thomas. "I thought," he added with a knowing
glance at us boys, "that I wouldn't bring such a thing as a green hide
right up here where you had your luncheon spread out."

"Thomas," said Kate, looking sharply at him, "you are telling some kind
of crooked story."

"Willis," said Thomas carelessly, "go get that _deer_ hide."

Willis hesitated an instant, then went off through the bushes and in a
few moments returned with a gory skin, rolled up, with the _hair_ side
carefully turned in.

"Want to examine it, Kate?" said he, holding it towards her.

"No, no," said Catherine and Theodora both in a breath. "Do take the
dreadful thing away! But there's something wrong about your story all
the same, Tom," Kate added with a searching look at him. "I can tell
when you are fibbing just as well as need be; and I shall find out what
you boys are looking so funny at each other for, yet."

"You are a very knowing girl, Kate," said Tom. "But let's have some
luncheon and change the subject."

"Not till you go down to the spring and wash your hands," said
Catherine, "after handling that dreadful thing."

Peace having been restored by the washing of hands, luncheon was eaten.

"Yes," said Willis, "and we saw two minks and a fish-cat, as we went up
the stream; but they all three got out of sight before Tom could draw a
bead on them."

"Wise minks," said Ellen.

"And Willis thinks that he caught a glimpse of a 'screamer,' just as we
were going through a little fir thicket," Tom remarked.

"I'm almost sure it was one," corroborated Willis. "Oh, I wish we had a
lot of traps and could stay up here a fortnight. I should like two dozen
mink traps and a couple of big traps."

"What do you want of such big traps?" said Kate carelessly. "To catch
_deer_ in?"

"Of course not," said Willis. "No hunter around here ever sets traps for

"I was thinking I had never heard of such a thing," replied Catherine,

"But how about the balm o' Gileads?" Addison asked suddenly.

"Oh, there's quite a growth of them!" replied Tom. "On the slope of the
mountain, there are twenty or thirty old trees and no end of young ones
coming up. I should think there was fifty acres of them altogether,
shouldn't you, Willis?"

"I should," said Willis. "There would be buds enough there, though I
should think it would be a stint to gather them."

"Oh, I don't think it would be such a very bad job," said Tom. "We could
bend down the tops of the young trees and pick the buds off fast. I
believe I could pick five or six pounds a day, anyhow."

"Five pounds would be twenty dollars, according to Addison's reckoning,"
said Theodora.

"Very fair wages for us!" said Kate. "I would even work for less."

"None of your jokes!" exclaimed Addison.

"I think that I could get a living, digging spruce gum up here," Kate
went on. "Spruce gum is said to bring a dollar per pound, when nice and
clean; I could dig gum days, and scrape it clean evenings, and live in
the 'old slave's cabin;' that is, I could if the '_deer_' didn't scare
me away," she added, with a significant glance at us boys which made us
feel rather foolish.

"Kate, you are almost as knowing as your grandma!" exclaimed Tom,
derisively; "and you're not a quarter as old yet. Fact, you are almost
too knowing for your age."

"Don't think other folks are too knowing because you are a little
backward yourself, Thomas!" cried Kate. "Your _deer_ stories are not
quite right; there is something weak in them."

"Take a swallow of cold water in your mouth, Tom," said Addison,

Luncheon being disposed of, we gathered up our specimen crystals and the
fragments of rose quartz, packed the crystals in moss, in the pail, and
then tied up the rose quartz in one of our jackets. The latter made a
rather heavy pack and, together with the pail, proved quite a load down
the mountain and back through the woods to the opening. Willis took the
_deer_ skin; and Tom carried the _deer_ meat. We returned across the
wooded intervale, seeing no game but a partridge, which Willis shot, and
reached the ford and the cabins at about four o'clock in the afternoon.

All of us were somewhat tired and sat down on the grass, or the benches,
to rest awhile. The sun had already sunk near the tree-tops again; for
by October 20th the afternoons are short in Maine. It was chilly, too.

"There will be a harder frost to-night than there was last night,"
Addison remarked.

Thomas brought wood and kindled a fire. "We must be stirring," he said.
"It takes a long time to get dinner."

"What are we going to have to-day for dinner?" Ellen asked.

"_Deer_ steak, I suppose," said Catherine, laughing.

"We must have those partridges that Willis shot this morning," said

"I can catch more trout," said Thomas.

"No; let's have the trout for breakfast," remarked Theodora. "They are
splendid, fresh caught, for breakfast."

Willis went to get the partridges which he had hung up in a clump of
hazels, a little way back of the cabins, but immediately returned,
saying that they were missing. "Some creature has smelled them and
pulled them down, I guess," said he.

"Suppose it was a _deer_?" asked Kate.

"Keep quiet," said Tom. "You've said enough about _deer_."

"If she says _deer_ again, let's tie that green deer hide over her head,
Tom!" exclaimed Willis.

"You will not hear me say anything more, but I shall go on thinking, all
the same," replied Catherine.

Theodora had gone into their cabin, to fetch our tin ware and

"Why!" she exclaimed, coming hastily out, in some fluster, "almost all
our bread is gone!"

"Then somebody's been here," said Addison, "while we were away."

"Everything in the baskets has been pulled over," said Theodora.

We went to examine and found the baskets had really been disturbed, but
nothing save bread had been removed.

"Some hungry hunter, I guess," said Addison. "Well, I hope it did him

"I reckon there's where the partridges went," said Tom.

"Well, he wasn't a very bad visitor," said Willis, "or he might have
stolen a good deal more."

"Indeed, he might," said Theodora.

"But I wish he had left our bread and butter alone," exclaimed Ellen.
"Who knows how dirty his hands were!"

"This raid cuts our dinner down a little,--losing those partridges,"
said Tom. "So let's have our _venison_ and some eggs fried with it."

But on looking into the basket, all the eggs were found to have
disappeared, save eight!

"Worse and worse!" Addison exclaimed. "We shall have to fall back on
potatoes, and do some good hunting and fishing during the rest of our
stay here."

Tom was already slicing up the rather odd-looking venison, getting it
ready to fry. Addison brought water and put on potatoes to boil; and
Kate declared that she was going to make a dish of Indian meal mush, and
have some of it to fry for breakfast, next morning.

Willis took the gun and slipped away, intending to knock over a few more
partridges, to go with the one he had just shot, across the stream.

Ellen, too, went out to gather hazel nuts.

A dark bank of clouds had risen in the west, and the wind began to blow
a little; it was not quite as pleasant as on the previous evening.

In the course of an hour our dinner was ready. Ellen had gathered a
quart of nuts, and Willis came in with another partridge. It was not a
good night for shooting, he said; and when he went inside our cabin to
set aside the gun, he privately told Addison and me, that he had heard a
dog bark off in the woods, to the west of the opening. Somehow it made
us feel uneasy to think that some person, or persons, might be hanging
about the place, though they had not shown themselves very evilly
disposed toward us, having merely taken a loaf or two of bread and some
eggs. Still there was no knowing who they were, or what their intentions
might be.

The table was rigged up and we sat down to it as before. The fried
_venison_ was good and went well with our potatoes; and we had an egg
apiece. But Kate's corn meal mush was the best dish, for we had plenty
of butter and sugar to garnish it; and we also toasted some cheese.

The sky had grown wholly overcast; and by the time we had finished our
dinner, night came on. We had still to collect wood for a camp-fire; and
all four of us boys set about this task at once and also carried armfuls
of dry pine from a stub, a little way off, into our cabin to have in the
morning for our fire, in case of rain. The wind was blowing and the air
felt chilly and raw. There was not much pleasure in sitting out of
doors, even before a fire; so we at length carried our benches into the
girls' cabin and placed them around, just inside the open door, where
the firelight shone in pleasantly. It was much more comfortable there
than out in the wind. The smoke also drifted into our own cabin a good
deal, but here we were quite out of it.

Nell produced her pailful of hazel nuts, and with this rather late
dessert for our dinner, we whiled away an hour or more, Thomas or
Addison going out now and then to tend the fire and keep it blazing

"What shall it be to-morrow," Theodora at length said; "fishing, or

"Fishing in the morning and hazel-nutting in the afternoon will be a
good plan, I guess," Addison remarked,--when, as he spoke, we heard a
rather strange sound off in the woods. It was the first wild note of any
kind which had come to our ears during the evening; the inhabitants of
the forest seemed not to be musically inclined that night.

"I would like to know what made that noise," Tom said. "That wasn't a
bear, nor a 'screamer.'"

We sat listening and pretty soon heard it again, a peculiar,
long-drawn-out, hollow note.

"It doesn't sound like an animal's cry," said Addison. "It is more like
a noise I have heard made by blowing through some big sea-shell."

"Not very likely to be sea-shells up here in the woods," remarked

"Are there really any Indians in the 'great woods?'" I asked.

"I think not," said Addison.

Just then we heard the noise again. It seemed to be nearer and appeared
to have moved around towards the stream.

"Well, that beats me all out for a noise!" exclaimed Willis. "I can't
even guess what makes it."

"Nor I," said Tom. "Never heard anything like it."

To hear a mysterious sound like that, off in the wilderness, at night,
will disturb almost anyone. Addison kept laughing and trying to talk of
other things. Thomas stepped out as if to fix up the fire, but slipped
into the other cabin and got the gun. He came out to one side, however,
so that the girls did not see him from where they sat, and stood the gun
against their cabin. All the while Addison was talking on, telling the
girls how the Indians cooked hedgehogs by coating them all over with
clay, then roasting them under their camp-fires. The girls were not very
good listeners, however, for we kept hearing that same hollow, moaning
noise, and it did not seem to be very far off. We were all pretty sure
that it was not an animal, and concluded that it must be a man, or a
number of men; but why they were making such a strange noise as that, we
could not understand.

Suddenly the sound burst forth close at hand, apparently near the
stream. It startled us all badly, and Thomas reached for the gun.

"I think, boys," said Kate quite calmly, yet with a curious little
flutter in her voice, "that we had better all get inside the cabin here
and shut the door."

"Perhaps we had," said Addison. "For if it is anybody who means
mischief, it is foolish for us to sit in the light here where we can be
seen so plainly."

Thereupon we all beat a retreat inside the cabin, shut the door and
buttoned it; the firelight shone in, however, both through cracks in the
door and chinks betwixt the logs. Tom drew the partridge charge from his
gun and put in another heavier one, with five or six buckshot, mixed
with the bird shot.

A moment or two after, we heard the noise again; and this time it seemed
to be just in the rear of the other cabin. Addison stood with an eye at
a crack, looking out.

"It's human beings, fast enough," he said in a low voice.

The girls were of course a good deal alarmed. We made the door fast with
a prop in case an attack should be made.

Suddenly a large stone fell on the roof with a tremendous bump and
clatter! It caused the girls to cry out in affright!

"Ad, this is somebody trying to scare us!" Tom muttered.

"Or murder us!" cried Ellen.

"You don't suppose it is Halse, do you?" I asked. "He threatened us with
something or other!"

"Maybe," said Addison, doubtfully. "No; I don't believe he would dare
come up here alone in the night," he added, after a moment's thought.
"Halse is a great coward in the dark."

On the whole it did not seem likely that Halstead would be so many miles
from home, in the woods, at that time of night.

Another stone struck on the roof, and soon a third struck the door! Then
several seemed to fall on the roof at once, which led us to surmise that
there was more than one person concerned in the attack.

Both Addison and Tom kept their eyes at the cracks, looking out to see
if any of our assailants showed themselves.

"They are standing out there in that hazel clump, just beyond the other
cabin," Addison muttered. "I can see the bushes move there, every time a
stone is thrown."

Just then a tremendous thump came against the door!

"I'll let them know they can't pelt us like that!" exclaimed Tom, taking
up the gun. "Open the door just a crack, Ad, so I can push the muzzle

"I would not fire right at the bush," said Addison. "But fire high to
let them know we are armed."

Tom thrust out the gun--and next instant we were all nearly deafened by
the report!

Immediately following the report, too, there came a loud cry, a cry that
thrilled me through and through, for I thought that I recognized the
voice. Theodora cried out, "Oh, that's Halse! You've shot him! You've
shot him!"

"That did sound a little like Halse!" cried Willis.

We were terror-stricken, yet uncertain. Addison cautiously opened the
door and stepped out. Tom and I followed him. Willis, however, caught up
the gun and began hastily to reload it.

"Halse!" Addison at length called out. "Are you there, Halse?"

Theodora followed us out and also Kate. "Oh, I'm so afraid he's killed!"
Theodora cried out, almost sobbing.

Several of us called out; but there was no reply; and we could now hear
no movement in the hazels.

"Do let's go and see," implored Theodora; and then Addison and Thomas
took brands from the camp-fire and, waving these about, went out
cautiously towards the bush clumps. We kept close behind them, Willis
with the gun loaded; he was afraid that this was some trick to draw us
into an ambush.

But on reaching the hazels, there was nothing to be found, save three
round stones as big as a man's fist or bigger, evidently brought there
from the bed of the stream, to throw at the cabin.

"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Theodora. "I suppose he has dragged himself away
somewheres. I know he was hit by the way he cried out."

"I did not aim right at the bush," said Tom; "but I suppose the gun may
have scattered."

"Plague take him!" exclaimed Willis. "I don't much care if he is hit."

"Oh, don't talk so!" cried Ellen.

"No; don't talk so," said Catherine. "If he is hit and has crept away,
we must find him if we can."

"Of course," said Addison who was peering about on the ground, "we will
do all we can to find him and care for him, if it really was he."

"Halse! Halse!" Tom shouted, as loudly as he could. "Answer, Halse, if
you are hurt! We will take care of you!"

There was no reply.

"He may be dead by this time!" lamented Theodora.

Then we began searching in earnest; we rekindled the fire, and taking
brands, looked the ground all over for twenty rods or more from the
cabins, in that direction. Not a trace could be discovered.

"I guess he wasn't hurt much," Willis said privately to me.

But that wild outcry had taken a dreadful hold on Theodora's fancies.
With the tears starting constantly to her eyes, she searched and
implored the rest of us to keep looking about. I half expected we might
come upon Halse in the bushes; for I knew that if one of those heavy
shot had struck him, it might cause a fatal wound.

Tom, too, felt very badly and very nervous; so did Kate.

At last we went back to the cabin, for it seemed of no use to search
longer. Theodora was so wrought up, that she even wanted to start off
for home in the darkness, to notify the Old Squire. Nothing could
persuade her that Halse was not wounded or killed.

But Addison said at once that we could not think of making such a trip
in the night; that we would wait till morning and see what could be
discovered then; and he advised the girls to go to sleep and get as good
a night's rest as they could.

"It will do no good to cry, or keep awake, Doad," he said. "We can do
nothing till daylight."

Accordingly we went to our own cabin and left the girls to shut
themselves into theirs and sleep if they could. We all felt very much
disturbed; yet I, for one, fell asleep and slept through the rest of the
night quite soundly. I doubt whether Theodora slept, however. She was
awake and out with Addison long before I roused up. Catherine and Ellen,
too, were astir, and they had all four been searching, ever since it had
grown light enough.

Willis had gone to fish for trout; he came back with a fine string of
them, just as I was waking up. As he sat dressing them to fry for
breakfast, he declared again that he was not at all afraid that Halse
was much injured.

But all the rest of us had our fears, and not much interest was felt in
breakfast or anything else, save to get ready to start for home, as
quickly as possible. For Addison had decided that the best thing to do,
under the circumstances, was to go home and see what could be learned
there of Halse's movements.

We therefore ate a breakfast of such food as could be most quickly
prepared, then packed up our luggage, and began our long trip back home,
through the woods. It was far from being a pleasant walk. The zest and
anticipation of our outing had departed. We plodded drearily on and
reached Clear Pond at about one o'clock. Here, after a hasty lunch,
Addison ran on ahead, to reach home and come back with the team. The
entire burden of the baskets, guns, etc., now fell on Tom, Willis and
me; the girls were tired, and we got on slowly.

At last, after two or three hours, we heard Addison coming along the
winter road with the horses and wagon, while still at a considerable
distance. The girls sat down to wait for him to come near enough to
speak. Theodora, in particular, feared the worst.

But as soon as Addison came in sight, where we were sitting on a log by
the side of the trail, he swung his hat, and shouted, "All right!"

"Thank Providence!" burst from Theodora's lips; and we all jumped up and
shouted for joy.

"But was it Halse?" exclaimed Tom and Kate and I, all in a breath.

"Yes, it was," replied Addison with a touch of scorn in his voice. "He
and Alf Batchelder."

"And he isn't hurt?" Theodora asked.

"Well, no, not by _us_," said Addison dryly. "The Old Squire has held a
private interview with him out at the west barn. Halse may not be quite
as comfortable now as he might be."

"Good enough!" shouted Willis, Tom and Kate in chorus; and I am afraid
that Ellen and I joined in the sentiment. Theodora only looked unhappy.

"Halse has confessed," Addison continued, after we were all in the
wagon, jogging on homeward. "The Old Squire made him tell everything and
disciplined him afterwards. It was like this. After dinner yesterday,
Halse pretended that he was sick and went up-stairs. Gram followed him
up there with the Vermifuge bottle. She found him in bed. He wouldn't
say what ailed him. After she went down-stairs, he got out on the ell
roof and ran away, over to Batchelder's. Alf and he then put their heads
together and started for the old slave's farm, intending to play they
were Cannucks and frighten us nearly to death. That was old Hewey's
moose-horn that they were _booing_ through; they borrowed it of the old
man, on their way up, pretending they were going moose-hunting."

"Then Halse wasn't hit after all," said Kate.

"No; it was Alf. We were all wrong about that voice. One of Tom's little
partridge shot struck Alf on his wrist. It did not injure him much, but
drew blood and frightened him.

"They then cut sticks for home; and Halse tried to get into his room
over the ell roof at about three o'clock this morning. But our folks had
already discovered that he had run away. The Old Squire heard him on the
roof and nabbed him just as he was crawling in at the window.

"He was quite a subdued, tearful-eyed, peaceable-looking boy, when I saw
him an hour ago," Addison concluded, with a curl of his lip.

"But let's not say a word to plague him any further," said Theodora.

"Oh, I shall not speak of it," replied Addison.

"Nor I," said Willis. "But I would like to have had hold of the Old
Squire's whip a spell."

And thus, in this miserable way, our first camping trip terminated. It
was raining the following morning and continued very wet for several
days; we were not able to return to "the old slave's farm" that fall.



It seemed good, even after only three days' camping out, to sit down in
the house again and see the supper table nicely set and Gram at the head
of it. She welcomed us home as warmly as if we had been absent for
weeks; the Old Squire was still a little disturbed, from his recent
"interview" with Halstead.

Halse, himself, did not come to supper; and nobody mentioned his name
during the entire evening.

Little Wealthy was plainly overjoyed to see us back and, despite the
pout which she had worn when we went off without her, talked very fast
to us and told us of all the occurrences during our absence.

"Aunt Olive" was with us for a week; she and Gram and Wealthy had begun
to dry apples; and after supper, Aunt Olive brought in three bushel
basketfuls of bruised Baldwins and Greenings, along with some natural
fruit; she also produced the old paring machine, coring knives and a
hank of stringing twine and needle, and in short made ready for a busy

"Now, young folks," quoth she, "you've been off and had a fine time; and
I s'pose you're all ready to make the apples fly! It will not take us
long to do up these three bushels to-night, if you all work smart."

It was an invitation not to be refused, under the circumstances, though
Theodora and Ellen made wry faces. They disliked to cut apples, it is
such dirty, sticky work and blackens one's hands so badly. Addison took
up the paring machine, good-naturedly.

"Here's my old friend of last year," said he, screwing it to the leaf of
the kitchen table. "I pared bushels with it last fall, and I guess I'll
pare them now, while the rest of you trim and core and string them. We
must have dried apples, I suppose, for pies and sauce; at least, Gram
says we must."

He fixed an apple on the fork of the machine and then in a moment had
whirled the skin off it, in a long, thin ribbon which descended into the
basket set beneath the table. I thought it looked to be fun;--but that
was before I understood the business as well as I subsequently came to

Finding that we had mustered in good force to cut the apples, Gram got
out her basket of socks to darn and presently summoned Theodora to
assist her. The Old Squire sat at the other side of the table and began
to read his _Maine Farmer_, which had come that night from the post
office; but he stopped reading often to hear what Addison had to tell of
our trip. Ellen and I trimmed and halved the apples, as Addison pared
them; "Aunt Olive" cored and Wealthy strung the cored halves.

At length, when Gramp seemed to have looked his paper pretty nearly
through, Theodora said that we had a particular favor to ask of him that

"Ah!" said the old gentleman, looking over the top of his glasses. "What
can Theodora want?"

"But I want you to promise to grant it before I tell what it is,"
replied Theodora.

The Old Squire laughed. "That's asking quite a good deal," he remarked.
"But I hope I am not running much risk."

"Well, then, grandfather," said Theodora, "we all want you to tell us
the story of the panther that you and Mr. Edwards shot up in the great
woods when you were boys. Thomas and Catherine have been telling us
about it; and we want to hear the story."

"Yes, sir," said Addison. "Please tell us about that."

The old gentleman hedged a little. "Oh, that is not much of a story,"
said he.

"Come, Squire, I've heard tell o' that 'ere catamount that you and Zeke
Edwards killed; but I never could get the particulars," said Aunt Olive.
"Jest give us the particulars."

Gramp tried to put us off. "I'm no great hand at stories," he said. "You
must get Hewey Glinds to tell you bear and catamount stories."

"But you promised me, Gramp," Theodora reminded him.

At length, after some further excuses, the Old Squire was induced to
make a beginning, and having begun, told us the following story which I
give in words as nearly like his own as I can now remember.

"It was in the year 1812. I was little more than a boy at that time, and
the country was quite new here. We had a clearing of about fifty acres
and had not yet built our present buildings; and our only neighbors,
nearer than the settlement in the lower part of the township, where the
village now stands, were the Edwardses. Old Jeremy Edwards came here at
about the same time that my father came.

"Eighteen-twelve was the time of our second war with England. Soldiers
for it did not volunteer then; troops had to be raised by draft. Father
and neighbor Edwards were both drafted. I well remember the night they
were summoned. Mother and Mrs. Edwards cried all night. But there was no
help for it. There were no such things as substitutes then. They had to
go the next morning, and leave us to take care of ourselves the best we

"Little Ezekiel Edwards--Thomas's and Kate's grandfather--was just about
my age; and the men being away, everything depended on us. Those were
hard times; we had a great deal to do. We used to change works, as we
called it, so as to be together as much as we could; for it was rather
lonesome, planting and hoeing off in the stumpy, sprouted clearings.
That was a long, anxious summer! We heard from father only once. He was
somewhere near Lake Champlain.

"We were getting things fixed up to pass the winter as well as we could,
when one night, about the first of November, Ezekiel came running over
to ask if we had seen anything of old Brindle, their cow. It had been a
bright, Indian-summer day, and they had turned her out to feed; but she
had not come up as usual, and was nowhere in sight. It was dusk already,
but I took our gun and, starting out together, we searched both
clearings. Brindle was not in the cleared land.

"'We shall have to give her up to-night, Zeke,' said I; 'but I will go
with you in the morning. She's lost or hedged up somewhere among
windfalls.' We heard 'lucivees' snarling, and as we went back along, saw
a bear digging ground-nuts beside a great rock. These were common enough
sounds and sights in those days; still, we did not care to go off into
the forest after dark.

"Several inches of snow came during the night and the next morning was
cloudy and lowering. Zeke came over early. Brindle had not come in. He
brought his gun and had taken Skip, their dog; and we now started off
for a thorough search in the woods. Everything looked very odd that
morning, on account of the freshly fallen snow. The snow had lodged upon
all the trees, especially the evergreens, bending down the branches; and
every stump and bush was wreathed in white.

"As the cows used frequently to follow up the valley--where the road now
is--to the northward, we entered it and kept on to where it opens out
upon Clear Pond, at the foot of the crags which you probably noticed as
you passed. There is just a footpath between the crags and the pond,
which is very deep on that side. About the pond and the crag the trees
were mostly spruce. This morning they looked like multitudes of white
tents, lined with black. And this appearance, with the ground all white,
and the not yet frozen water looking black as ink, made everything
appear so strange, that although we had several times been there before,
we now scarcely knew the place.

"As yet we had seen no traces of Brindle. But just as we came out on the
pond, at the foot of the crag, we heard a fox bark, quite near at first,
then at a distance. Skip sprang ahead among the snowy spruces, but came
back in a few moments, and, looking up in our faces, whined, then ran on

"'He's found something!' exclaimed Zeke.

"We hurried forward on his track, and a few rods further, saw him
standing still, whining; and there, under a thin covering of snow, near
the water, lay old Brindle, torn and mangled, and partially eaten.

"A feeling of awe crept over us at the sight.

"'Dead!' whispered Zeke.

"'Something's killed her!' I whispered back.

"There were fresh fox tracks all around, and the carcass had been
recently gnawed in several places. Some transient little fox had been
improving the chance to steal a breakfast. But what savage beast had
throttled resolute old Brindle?

"With strange sensations we gazed around. Not a breath of air stirred
the snow-laden boughs; and the wild, gray face of the precipice,
towering above us, seemed to grow awesome in the stillness.

"Looking more closely, we now discerned, partially obscured by the more
recent snowflakes, some broad footprints, as large as old Brindle's
hoofs, leading off along the narrow path between the crag and the pond.
After examining our priming, we followed slowly on these tracks, Skip
keeping close to us, and glancing up earnestly in our faces.

"Very soon, however, the tracks stopped. Beyond a certain point there
were no footprints. Skip whined, almost getting under our feet in his
efforts to keep near us. Suddenly then a piercing scream broke the
stillness, and on a jutting rock, fully twenty feet above us, and in the
very attitude of springing, we saw a large gray creature, its claws
protruding on the ledge, its ears laid back and its long tail switching
to and fro! It screamed again, then leaped down. Zeke and I started to
run back along the path, but both stumbled on the snowy rocks. Next
moment we heard a yell from Skip, then a loud growl. The panther had
seized him; and then we saw it go bounding back up the rocks, grappling
and gathering up the dog in its mouth, at every leap. Climbing still
higher, it gained a projecting ledge, along which it ran to a great
cleft, or fissure, seventy or eighty feet above the path. There it

"Its onslaught had been so sudden, that for some moments we stood
bewildered. Then, remembering our danger, we turned to run again, but
had taken only a few steps when another scream rooted us to the path!
The panther had come out in sight and was running to the place where it
had climbed up.

"Frightened as we were, we knew that it was of little use to run and
both pulled up. As long as we stood still, the animal crouched, watching
us; but the moment we stirred, it would rise and poise itself as if to
spring. We were afraid if we ran that the animal would bound down and
chase us.

"How long we stood there, I don't know, but it seemed very long. We grew
desperate. 'Let's fire,' Zeke whispered; and we raised our old
flint-locks. They were well charged with buckshot, if they would only
go off. The panther growled, seeing the movement, and started up; but we
pulled the triggers. Both guns were discharged. We then sprang away down
the path, but glancing back, beheld the panther struggling and clinging
to one of the lower ledges to which it had jumped, or fallen, from the
rocks above.

"'We hit him!' exclaimed Zeke. 'Hold up,'--and we both turned.

"For a long time the beast clung there, writhing and falling back.
Screech after screech echoed from the mountain side across the pond. We
could see blood trickling down the rock.

"The animal grew weaker, at length, and by and by fell down to another
rock, where, after fainter struggles and cries, it finally lay still. We
loaded and fired again, and the fur flew up, but there was no further
movement. Skip and Brindle were avenged, as much as they could be; but
it was a long time before the Edwards family ceased to lament their

"We went to the place twice afterwards during the winter. A mass of gray
fur was still lying on the rock, thirty or forty feet above the path.
And for years after, we could see some of the panther's bones there."

To us young folks who had so recently been camping in the "great woods"
and had passed along the foot of this very crag where the panther had
been shot, the Old Squire's story was intensely interesting. We could
vividly imagine the scene and the fears of the two pioneer boys, on that
snowy November forenoon, more than fifty years ago.

When I went up to bed that night, I found Halse soundly asleep. He did
not wake and I did not disturb him; but he was astir and dressing, when
I waked next morning, and before we went down, he began to laugh and to
ridicule us, on account of the fright we were in at the cabin when those
stones were tumbling on the roof. "And I broke up your camping trip,
anyway," he added, exultantly. "You were the scaredest lot of chickens
I ever saw! Shut yourselves up in your shanty and fastened the door with

I did not much blame him for wanting to crow a bit, after all that had

On the whole it was fortunate that we came home when we did. The storm
continued; all next day it poured and drove furiously; but apple-cutting
went on blithely indoors. What was rare for him, Addison had a bad cold
with a very sore throat; and we all retired early that night, not having
as yet caught up all arrears of broken sleep from the camping trip.

But it was not to be a night of rest; and I for one was destined to have
an exciting experience before morning. Shortly after midnight there came
an obstreperous knocking and thumping at the outer door, so loud that it
waked us in our beds up-stairs. It was repeated twice; and then I heard
the Old Squire below call out, "Who's there?"

"It's me," replied a troubled voice.

"Well, but who's 'me?'"

"Bobbie Sylvester. And please, sir, my folks want you to send one of the
boys after the doctor, quick!"

There was a sudden exclamation of wrath and indignation from Addison in
his room, with a chain of comments, which it is not necessary to

"Why, what's the matter?" we heard the Old Squire call out. But just
then we distinguished the murmur of Gram's voice, and a moment later
heard her coming up the stairs to speak to us.

"Boys," said she, "one of you must ride to the village after the doctor
for Mrs. Sylvester."

"But, Gram, it's a terrible night," Ad expostulated.

"I know it, boys," said she. "It's a bad night, but somebody must go."

"Let Sylvester go himself, then!" cried Addison, angrily.

"Well, but you know he hasn't any horse, and has rheumatism," said the
old lady.

Then began to dawn on me what I came to know full well later, that
whenever certain of our poorer neighbors were taken ill, or an
additional small member was about to be added to their families, they
were very prone to come hurrying to our door at dead of night,
beseeching some of us to ride seven miles to the village for the doctor.

Addison was really unfit to go. No doubt he felt unusually irritable.
"By the holy smoke!" he exclaimed. "I wish there wasn't a baby under the
Canopy!"--and while I was trying to puzzle out and piece together all
these darkling hints and inferences, the Old Squire came up stairs and
after a word with Addison and Gram, told me that I would have to rig up,
get on old Sol's back and take my first turn riding for Dr. Cummings.
That settled it.

Thereupon I began dressing in haste, Halstead lying at his ease and
crowing over me as I did so; and I am sorry to add that I was in a mood
so un-cousinly that I at length gave him a swipe with my thick jacket as
I put it on to hasten down stairs.

It was still raining fiercely; but they rigged me up as best they could
for the trip--buttoned me into an old buffalo coat (it was a huge fit
for a boy, thirteen), tied a woollen comforter around my neck, and
another one over the top of my cap, to hold that on my head and keep my
ears warm. Wool socks, a pair of large boots, and some heavy mittens
completed my outfit.

Gram herself went to the stable and looked to the saddle. I mounted;
Gramp pulled the great door of the stable open, and I rode forth into
the rain and darkness.

After a few moments outside, I could see objects, in outline. So much
rain had fallen that the road was completely saturated. I got on pretty
well, however, until I came to the meadow a mile from home, where the
road crossed low ground and a large brook. There was a plank-bridge here
twenty feet long. The brook was now very high--a good deal higher, in
fact, than any of us had anticipated. It had risen several feet since

The moment I came to the meadow I found that there was water all over
it, and also in the road, extending back two hundred yards from the
bridge to the foot of the hill. I could not see how it looked, and, of
course, did not fully realize how high and rapid the stream had grown.
Old Sol splashed through the water till we came near the bridge. There
the water was up to my feet, in the road. On pulling up, I could hear it
rushing and swirling along over the bridge. I supposed the bridge was
undisturbed, for there were stones laid on the planks at each end, I
could see nothing save a black expanse all round me. Hesitating a
moment, I summoned my courage and dug my heels into old Sol's sides. He
went forward till his feet touched the first planks. There he stopped
and snorted. I gave him the spur. He leaped forward and seemed to strike
his feet on planks. But, as was afterwards ascertained, some of them
were washed out, and all of them were afloat. At his next spring his
legs went down among them. Then the full force of the current struck
him, he rolled over sidewise, and horse and boy went off the lower end
of the bridge, in eight feet of swift water.

It is needless to say that I was holding to the horse's mane for dear
life. As we rolled over the "stringer" of the bridge, I was partly under
the horse. We went down and I distinctly touched bottom with my left
foot, but clutched the horse's mane with both hands and hugged the
saddle with both legs. It seemed to me that we rolled over before we
came to the surface. Then we went under again, but a moment later, the
horse got foothold in shallower water, and floundered out on the further
side of the brook.

If I had let go of him I would certainly have been drowned; for the
skirts of the buffalo coat had been driven by the current over my head,
and with all those water-soaked clothes on, not even a powerful swimmer
could have got out. I felt as if I weighed a ton. My cap was gone, and
with it, my comforters.

I wasn't very much frightened, I hadn't had time to be, though I
remember thinking when we rolled off the end of the bridge, that no
doctor would get to the Sylvesters' that night.

The horse waded off the meadow to a set of bars, and we got back into
the road; and on coming to the foot of the hill I dismounted and partly
wrung some of my clothes, though it still rained heavily. If I had not
been on the further side of the stream, I'm sure I would have gone home,
for I felt awfully cold and homesick.

The road was badly gullied, and I had still another brook to cross; but
the stream there was not so rapid, and after reconnoitering the bridge
as well as I could in the dark, I ventured upon it, and found that I
could pass.

I do not think that I was more than an hour and a half reaching the
village. It was so dark that I had difficulty in finding the doctor's
house, though I knew the place. A moment later I dismounted, and knocked
at his door. After a while a window was raised, and Dr. Cummings asked
what was wanted. I told him, and I can safely assert that he did not
seem overjoyed.

"How are the roads?" he asked, after some hesitation.

"Pretty bad."

"Hum! And the bridges?"

I replied that I thought one of them had been washed away.

"Washed away? How did you get over then?"

"My horse swam."

"Well, I'll tell you," said the doctor. "I'm about used up, and have
just come in from a hard ride. You call Dr. Green. He's a young man,
just settled here. I don't want to be hoggish with him. Call Dr. Green."

Dr. Green was a young homoeopathist who had come to the village the
year before. It was said that Dr. Cummings did not like him, also that
Dr. Green reciprocated the sentiment.

"Shall I tell Dr. Green that you sent me for him?" I asked, as I got on
my horse.

Dr. Cummings did not reply.

I then went to Dr. Green's door, and did my errand there. "Have you been
for Dr. Cummings?" was his first question.

"Yes," said I, "and he sent me to you."

"He's a shirk," said the young doctor, "but I'll go."

He came out directly, saddled his own horse and set off with me, asking
no questions about the road. It still rained, and the wind was in our
faces. I led the way. The doctor followed. He kept up pretty well. He
had on a suit of yellow oil-skin, and I could see that some ways back.

When we got to the hill near the meadow, I pulled up and told him about
the bridge. "You can try it," said I, "if you want to, but I am going to
wait till it gets light before I try it again."

"You are a pretty fellow," said he. "Why didn't you tell me of that

"I was afraid you might not come," said I, "and it was my business to
get a doctor."

"Go ahead, then," said he, grittily. "Let's try it."

"No, thank you," said I. "Once in that brook is enough for me, in one

"Well, then," said he, "do you know any other bridge or ford?"

I knew of a bridge two miles above. The road was like porridge, but we
reached it, tried it carefully, and at length got across without
swimming. The remainder of the way was comparatively uneventful; and we
reached the Sylvesters' just as day began to dawn. Four old ladies were
there, including Gram. They greeted the doctor with great glee. He was
late--but all was well.

Nevertheless, that was a good trip for young Dr. Green. The folks
thereabouts said that he must be a staunch young fellow to turn out on
such a night. I always felt that they might have added a word for me,

The doctor told me a while ago that that ride was worth a thousand
dollars to him.

"Well, then, doctor, suppose we divide that thousand," I said.

"Why?" said he. "What for?"

"Well, I went after you that night, and piloted you up there," said I.

"That's true," said he, "but you must collect your fee of the patients,
as I do."

"Little there's left for me when you are done with them," said I.

I found my cap and comforters about a fortnight after that, in the top
of some choke-cherry bushes below the bridge.



Not a little farm work still remained to be done;--our farm work, in
fact, was never done. For a fortnight after our return from the camping
trip, we were busy, ploughing stubble ground, drawing off loose stones
and building a piece of "double wall" along the side of the north field.
There was also a field of winter rye to be got in. The Old Squire was,
moreover, preparing to re-embark in the lumbering business at certain
lots of timber land which he owned up in the "great woods." Loggers
would be hired for this work, however, for Addison, Halstead and I
expected to attend the district school which was announced to begin on
the Monday after Thanksgiving.

It was mostly dull, hard work now, all day long, and often we were
obliged to husk corn, or dry apples, during the evening. The only
amusement for a time was one or two husking parties, and an "apple bee"
at the Murches'.

On the morning of the 30th of October we waked to find the ground white
with snow; several inches had fallen; but it went off, after a day or
two; the weather had grown quite cold, however. Ice formed nearly every
night. The cattle were now at the barns, but the sheep were still
running about the pastures and fields. On the night of the 5th of
November the upper part of the lake froze over, as well as the smaller
ponds in the vicinity. I found that the boys thereabouts knew how to
skate, and was not long in buying a pair of skates, myself. I had much
difficulty in learning to use them for several days; at length, I caught
the knack of it, and felt well repaid for a good many hard falls, when
at last I could glide away and keep up with Halse, Addison and Thomas
Edwards, who skated well. Even Theodora and Ellen could skate.

For a week that fall Lake Pennesseewassee was grand skating ground.
Parties of boys from a distance came there every evening and built
bonfires on the shore to enliven the scene.

I think that it was the third day before Thanksgiving that eight of us
went to the lake, at about four in the afternoon, to have an hour of
skating before dark. We found Alfred Batchelder there in advance of us.
As Alfred did not now speak to our boys, he kept a little aloof from us.

Near the head of the lake is an island and above it a bog. We had skated
around the head of the lake, and keeping to the east side of the island,
circled about it, and were coming down on the west side along an arm,
some two hundred yards wide, where there was known to be deep water. We
thought the ice perfectly firm and safe there, since that on the east
side of the island, over which we had just skated, had proved so. All of
us were at full racing speed, and Alfred was keeping six or eight rods
further out, but parallel with us. Suddenly we heard a crash and saw
Alfred go down. The water gushed up around him.

There was no premonitory cracking or yielding. The ice broke on the
instant; and so rapidly was he moving that a hole twelve or fifteen feet
long was torn by the sheer force with which he went against it. As he
fell through, he went under once, but luckily came up in the hole he had
made, and got his hands and arms on the edges of the ice, which,
however, kept bending down and breaking off. The breaking and his fall
were so sudden that he had not even time to cry out till he came up and
caught hold of the ice.

Instinctively we all sheered off toward the west shore at first. Then
came the impulse to save him. A peeled hemlock log lay stranded on the
shore upon rocks, with about four feet of its length frozen in the ice.
I remember rushing to this, to get it up and slide it out to him.
Finding I could not wrench it loose with my hands, I kicked it with
first one foot and then the other, and broke both my skates; but the ice
held it like a vise. Then I started on my broken skates to find a pole;
two or three of the other boys were also running for poles, shouting

All the while Alfred was calling despairingly to us; every time the ice
broke, he would nearly disappear under the water, which was deadly cold.

Addison who had first pulled off his skates, then thought of green alder
poles. Running to the nearest clump, he bent down and hurriedly cut off
two, each as large as a pump-brake. Before I was done kicking the peeled
hemlock log, or Halse was back from his pole hunt, Addison had shoved
one of the long alders out to Alf, who managed to clutch hold of it.

Addison had hold of the butt end, and Willis Murch, nearer the shore,
had reached out the top of the second alder to Addison. The ice yielded
somewhat and the water came up; but they all held fast. By this time the
rest of us had cut more alders, one of which was thrust out to Willis;
and then by main strength we hauled Alfred out and back where the ice
was firmer.

It is doubtful whether we should have got him out of the lake but for
this expedient; for the water was so cold and the wind so bitterly
sharp, that he could not long have supported himself by those bending
ice edges. His teeth chattered noisily when at length we hauled him
ashore; Addison's, too! Both were wet through. We started and ran as
hard as we could towards home. Two of us had to drag Alf at the start;
but he ran better after the first hundred yards; and we were all very
warm by the time we got him home.

It is often difficult to determine why the ice on some portions of a
pond should be thin and treacherous, as in the above instance, while on
other portions it is quite safe. Indeed, there is no way of determining
except by cautious inspection.

I must do Alfred the justice to record that he came around quite
handsomely to thank Addison, and then asked his pardon for the hard
words that he had used at Fair time.

The morning following is marked forever in my memory by an unexpected
trip up to the "great woods"--the result of certain disturbing rumors
which had been in circulation throughout the autumn, but of which I have
not previously spoken, since they were confined mainly to a school
district two miles to the east of the Old Squire's farm.

On that morning a party of not less than thirty men and boys, with
hounds, was made up to go in pursuit of a pack of outlaw dogs which had
been killing sheep and calves in that town and vicinity. As yet the
flocks in our own neighborhood had not been molested, but there was no
saying how soon the marauders might pay us a visit; and a public effort
had been inaugurated to hunt the pack down and destroy it.

The history of these dog outlaws was a singular one and parallels in
canine life the famous story of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." The fact that
dogs do occasionally lead double lives--one that of a docile house-dog
by day, and the other that of a wild, dangerous beast by night--is well
established. In this case a trusted dog had become not only an outlaw
himself, but drew others about him and was the leader of a dangerous

A farmer named Frost, three miles from us, began to lose sheep from a
flock of seventy which he owned and which were kept in a pasture that
included a high hill and sloped northward over rough, bushy land to the
great woods. It was not the custom there to enclose the sheep in pens or
shelters, at night. They wandered at will in the pasture, and were
rarely visited oftener than once a week, and that usually on Sunday
morning. Then either the farmer or one of his boys would go to the
pasture to give the sheep salt and count them. This was the custom among
the farmers in that locality, nearly all of whom owned flocks sometimes
as small as twenty, but rarely larger than seventy-five, since sheep in
New England do not thrive when kept in large flocks.

Farmer Frost was not the only one who had lost sheep at this time. Six
other flocks were invaded, but his loss occurred first. His son Rufus,
going to the pasture to salt and count the sheep on a Sunday morning,
found that two ewes and a grown lamb were missing. Later in the day the
partially devoured remains of the sheep were found in the pasture not
far from a brook.

"Bear's work," the farmer and his neighbors said, although an old hunter
who visited the spot pronounced against the theory. But a bear had been
seen recently in the vicinity; and Monday morning the Frost boys loaded
their guns for a thorough hunt. Two traps were also set near the
carcasses, which were left as found, to lure the destroyer back.

The destroyer did not return; the traps remained as they were set; and
the youthful hunters were unsuccessful in rousing a bear in the woods.
But on the following Wednesday night a farmer named Needham, living a
mile and a half from Frost, lost two sheep, the bodies of which were
found in his pasture, partly eaten.

It chanced that Farmer Needham, or his son Emerson, owned a dog which
was greatly prized. They called him Bender. Bender was said to be a
half-breed, Newfoundland and mastiff, but had, I think, a strain of more
common blood in his ancestry, for there was a tawny crescent mark
beneath each of his eyes. Bender was the pink of propriety and a dog of
unblemished reputation.

On this occasion Bender went with the farmer and his boys to the sheep
pasture, and smelled the dead sheep with every appearance of surprise
and horror. The hair on his shoulders bristled with indignation. He
coursed around, seeking for bear tracks, and ran barking about the
pasture. In short, he did everything that a properly grieved dog should
do under the circumstances, and so far from touching or eating any of
the torn mutton, he plainly scorned such a thing.

The boys took Bender with them to hunt bears, as their main reliance and
ally, and Bender hunted assiduously. Three or four other dogs, belonging
at farms in the vicinity, were also taken on these hunts. One was a
collie, another a mongrel bulldog, and a third a large brindled dog of
no known pedigree. Still another half-bred St. Bernard dog set off with
the others, but on reaching the sheep pasture, where they went first to
get the trail and make a start, this latter dog behaved oddly, left the
others and slunk away home.

Some of the boys attributed this to cowardice, and he was hooted; others
suspected Roke, for that was his name, of having killed the sheep.
Suspicion against him so increased that his master kept him chained at

No bears were tracked to their dens, and none were caught in the traps,
which were also set in the Needham pasture; but less than a week later
another farmer, this time the owner of the mongrel bulldog, lost three
sheep in one night. As previously, the sheep were found dead and partly

If Roke's _alibi_ had not had a tangible chain at one end of it that
night, his character would have been as good as lost; for his refusal to
hunt with the other dogs and the manner in which he behaved while near
the dead sheep, had rendered him a public "suspect." When near the
carcasses he had growled morosely, and shown his teeth. When barked at
by the other dogs, he had taken himself off.

A few nights afterward Farmer Frost lost two more sheep from his flock
in the pasture, and the following night Rufus watched in the pasture
with a loaded gun, quite without results.

About that time two or three others watched in their pastures. Some shut
up their sheep. But the losses continued to occur. Within a radius of
three or four miles as many as twenty-four sheep were killed in the
course of three weeks.

None of the watchers by night or the hunters by day had, as yet,
obtained so much as a trace or a clue to the animal which had done the
killing. They came to think that it was quite useless to watch by night;
the marauding creature, whether bear, wild-cat, or dog, was apparently
too wily, or too keen-scented, to enter a pasture and approach a flock
where a man was concealed.

Rufus Frost, who had watched repeatedly, then hit on a stratagem. First
he cut off about a foot from the barrel of a shotgun, to shorten it, and
then made a kind of bag, or sack, by sewing two sheep-pelts together.
Thus equipped, he repaired to the pasture after dark, and joined himself
to the flock, not as a watcher, _but as a sheep_. That is to say, he
crept into the sheepskin bag, which was also capacious enough to contain
the short gun, and lay down on the outskirts of the flock, a little

The sheep were lying in a group, ruminating, as is their habit, by
night. Rufus drew a tangle of wool over his head, and otherwise
contrived to pose as a sheep lying down. He assumed that when thus
bagged up in fresh sheepskin, the odor of a sheep would be diffused, and
the appearance of one so well counterfeited as to deceive even a bear.
His gun he had charged heavily with buckshot; and altogether the ruse
was ingenious, if nothing more.

Nothing disturbed the flock on the first night that he spent in the
pasture, nor on the second; but he resolved to persevere. It was no very
bad way to pass an autumn night; the weather was pleasant and warm, and
there was a bright moon nearing its full.

He had kept awake during the first night, listening and watching for the
most of the time; but he caught naps the second, and on the third was
sleeping comfortably at about two in the morning, when he was suddenly
set upon, tooth and nail, by what he believed, on first waking, to be a
whole family of bears. One had him by the leg, through the bag, shaking
him. Another was dragging at the back of the bag, while the teeth of a
third were snapping at his face. Still other teeth were chewing upon his
arm, and the growling was something frightful!

This was an alarming manner in which to be wakened from a sound nap, and
it is little wonder that Rufus, although a plucky youngster, rolled over
and over and yelled with the full power of his lungs.

His shouts produced an effect. First one and then another of his
assailants let go and drew back; and getting the wool out of his eyes,
Rufus saw that the creatures were not bears, but four astonished dogs,
standing a few feet away, regarding him with doubt and disgust.

To all appearance he had been a sheep, lying a little apart from the
others, and they had fallen upon him as one; but his shouts led them to
think that he was not mutton, after all, and they did not know what to
make of it!

Rufus, almost equally astonished, now lay quite still, staring at them.
The dogs looked at each other, licked the wool from their mouths, and
sat down to contemplate him further.

Rufus, on his part, waxed even more amazed as he looked, for by the
bright moonlight he at once identified the four dogs. They were, alas!
the highly respectable, exemplary old Bender, the collie, Tige, the
brindle, and the mongrel bulldog--all loved and trusted members of
society. Rufus was so astonished that he did not think of using his
blunderbuss; he simply whistled.

That whistle appeared to resolve the doubts of the dogs instantly. They
growled menacingly and sprang away like the wind. Rufus saw them run
across the pasture to the woods, and afterward, for some minutes, heard
them washing themselves in the brook, as roguish, sheep-killing dogs
always do before returning home.

But in this case the dogs appeared to know that they had been detected,
and that so far as their characters as good and virtuous dogs went, the
game was up. Not one of them returned home. All four took to the woods,
and thereafter lived predatory lives. They were aware of the gravity of
their offenses.

During October and early November they were heard of as a pack of bad
sheep-killers, time and again; but they now followed their evil
practices at a distance from their former homes, where, indeed, the
farmers took the precaution of carefully guarding their sheep. On one
night of October they killed three calves in a farmer's field, four
miles from the Frost farm. Several parties set off to hunt them, but
they escaped and lived as outlaws, subsisting from nocturnal forays
until snow came, when they were tracked to a den beneath a high crag,
called the "Overset," up in the great woods.

It was Rufus Frost and Emerson Needham, the former owner of Bender, who
tracked the band to their retreat. Finding it impossible to call or
drive the criminals out, they blocked the entrance of the den with large
stones, and then came home to devise some way of destroying them--since
it is a pretty well-established fact that when once a dog has relapsed
into the savage habits of his wild ancestry he can never be reclaimed.

Someone had suggested suffocating the dogs with brimstone fumes; and so,
early the following morning, Rufus and Emerson, heading a party of
fifteen men and boys, came to the Edwards farm and the Old Squire's to
get brimstone rolls, which we had on account of our bees. Their coming,
on such an errand, carried a wave of excitement with it. Old Hewey
Glinds, the trapper, was sent for and joined the party, in spite of his
rheumatism. Every boy in the neighborhood begged earnestly to go; and
the most of us, on one plea and another, obtained permission to do so.

All told, I believe, there were thirty-one in the party, not counting
dogs. Entering the woods we proceeded first to Stoss Pond, then through
Black Ash Swamp, and thence over a mountainous wooded ridge to Overset

In fact we seemed to be going to the remote depths of the wilderness;
and what a savage aspect the snowy evergreen forest wore that morning!
At last, we came out on the pond. Very black it looked, for it was what
is called a "warm pond." Ice had not yet formed over it. The snow-clad
crag where the cave was, on the farther side, loomed up, ghostly white
by contrast.

Rufus and Emerson had gone ahead and were there in advance of us; they
shouted across to us that the dogs had not escaped. We then all hurried
on over snowy stones and logs to reach the place.

It was a gruesome sort of den, back under an overhang of rocks fully
seventy feet high. Near the dark aperture which the boys had blocked,
numbers of freshly gnawed bones lay in the snow, which presented a very
sinister appearance.

Those in advance had already kindled a fire of drift-stuff not far away
on the shore. The hounds and dogs which had come with the party,
scenting the outlaw dogs in the cave, were barking noisily; and from
within could be heard a muffled but savage bay of defiance.

"That's old Bender!" exclaimed Emerson. "And he knows right well, too,
that his time's come!"

"Suppose they will show fight?" several asked.

"Fight! Yes!" cried old Hewey, who had now hobbled up. "They'll fight
wuss than any wild critters!"

One of the older boys, Ransom Frost, declared that he was not afraid to
take a club and go into the cave.

"Don't you think of such a thing!" exclaimed old Hewey. "Tham's
desperate dogs! They'd pitch onto you like tigers! Tham dogs know
there's no hope for them, and they're going to fight--if they get the

It was a difficult place to approach, and several different plans of
attack were proposed. When the two hounds and three dogs which had come
up with us barked and scratched at the heavy, flat stones which Rufus
and Emerson had piled in the mouth of the cave, old Bender and Tige
would rush forward on their side of the obstruction, with savage growls.
Yet when Rufus or any of the others attempted to steal up with their
guns, to shoot through the chinks, the outlaws drew back out of sight,
in the gloom. There was a fierceness in their growling such as I never
have heard from other dogs.

The owner of Watch, the collie, now crept up close and called to his
former pet. "I think I can call my dog out," said he.

He called long and endearingly, "Come, Watch! Come, good fellow! You
know me, Watch! Come out! Come, Watch, come!"

But the outlawed Watch gave not a sign of recognition or affection; he
stood with the band.

Tige's former master then tried the same thing, but elicited only a deep
growl of hostility.

"Oh, you can whistle and call, but you won't get tham dogs to go back on
one another!" chuckled old Hewey. "Tham dogs have taken an oath
together. They won't trust ye and I swan I wouldn't either, if I was in
their places! They know you are Judases!"

It was decided that the brimstone should be used. Live embers from the
fire were put in the kettle. Green, thick boughs were cut from fir-trees
hard by; and then, while the older members of the party stood in line in
front of the hole beneath the rocks, to strike down the dogs if they
succeeded in getting out, Rufus and Emerson removed a part of the
stones, and with some difficulty introduced the kettle inside, amidst a
chorus of ugly growls from the beleaguered outlaws. The brimstone was
then put into the kettle, more fire applied, and the hole covered
quickly with boughs. And now even we younger boys were allowed to bear a
hand, scraping up snow and piling it over the boughs, the better to keep
in the smoke and fumes.

The splutter of the burning sulphur could plainly be heard through the
barrier, and also the loud, defiant bark of old Bender and the growls of

Very soon the barking ceased, and there was a great commotion, during
which we heard the kettle rattle. This was succeeded presently by a
fierce, throaty snarling of such pent-up rage that chills ran down the
backs of some of us as we listened. After a few minutes this, too,
ceased. For a little space there was complete silence; then began the
strangest sound I ever heard.

It was like the sad moaning of the stormy wind, as we sometimes hear it
in the loose window casements of a deserted house. Hardly audible at
first, it rose fitfully, moaning, moaning, then sank and rose again. It
was not a whine, as for pity or mercy, but a kind of canine farewell to
life: the death-song of the outlaws. This, too, ceased after a time; but
old Hewey did not advise taking away the boughs for fifteen or twenty
minutes. "Make a sure job on't," he said.

Choking fumes issued from the cave for some time after it was opened and
the stones pulled away. Bender was then discovered lying only a few feet
back from the entrance. He appeared to have dashed the kettle aside, as
if seeking to quench the fire and smoke. Tige was close behind him,
Watch farther back. Very stark and grim all four looked when finally
they were hauled out with a pole and hook and given a finishing shot.

It was thought best to burn the bodies of the outlaws. The fire on the
shore was replenished with a great quantity of drift-wood, fir boughs
and other dry stuff which we gathered, and the four carcasses heaved up
on the pile. It was a calm day, but thick, dark clouds had by this time
again overspread the sky, causing the pond to look still blacker. The
blaze gained headway; and a dense column of smoke and sparks rose
straight upward to a great height. Owing to the snow and the darkening
heavens, the fire wore a very ruddy aspect, and I vividly recall how its
melancholy crackling was borne along the white shore, as we turned away
and retraced our steps homeward.



Thanksgiving was always a holiday at the old farm. Gram and the girls
made extensive preparations for it and intended to have a fine dinner.
Besides the turkey and chickens there were "spareribs" and great
frying-panfuls of fresh pork which, at this cold season of the year, was
greatly relished by us. On this present Thanksgiving-day, two of Gram's
nephews and their wives were expected to visit us, as also several
cousins of whom I had heard but vaguely.

It chanced, too, that on this occasion we had especially good reason to
be thankful that we were alive to eat a Thanksgiving dinner of any kind,
as I will attempt to relate. Up to the day before Thanksgiving the
weather, with the exception of two light snow storms, had been bright
and pleasant, and the snow had speedily gone off. On that day there came
a change. The Indian-summer mildness disappeared. The air was very
still, but a cold, dull-gray haze mounted into the sky and deepened and
darkened. All warmth went out from beneath it. There was a kind of
stone-cold chill in the air which made us shiver.

"Boys, there's a 'snow bank' rising," the Old Squire remarked at dinner.
"The ground will close for the winter. Glad we put those boughs round
the house yesterday and banked up the out-buildings."

The sky continued to darken as the vast, dim pall of leaden-gray cloud
overspread it, and cold, raw gusts of wind began to sigh ominously from
the northeast. Gramp at length came out where we were wheeling in the
last of the stove-wood. "Have you seen the sheep to-day?" he asked
Addison. "There is a heavy snow storm coming on. The flock must be
driven to the barn."

None of us had seen the sheep for several days; the flock had been
ranging about; and Halse ran over to the Edwardses to learn whether they
were there, but immediately returned, with Thomas who told us that he
had seen our sheep in the upper pasture, early that morning, and theirs
with them.

Immediately then we four boys rigged up in our thickest old coats and
mittens, and set off--with salt dish--to get the sheep home. The storm
had already obscured the distant mountains to eastward when we started;
and never have I seen Mt. Washington and the whole Presidential Range so
blackly silhouetted against the westerly sky as on that afternoon, from
the uplands of the sheep pasture.

The pasture was a large one, containing nearly a hundred acres, and was
partially covered by low copses of fir. Seeing nothing of the sheep
there, we followed the fences around, then looked in several openings
which, like bays, or fiords, extended up into the southerly border of
the "great woods." And all the while Tom, who was bred on a farm and
habituated to the local dialect concerning sheep, was calling, "Co'day,
co'day, co'nanny, co'nan." But no answering ba-a-a was heard.

"They are not here," Addison exclaimed at length. "The whole flock has
gone off somewheres."

"Most likely to 'Dunham's open,'" said Tom, "and that's two miles; but I
know the way. Come on. We've got to get them."

We set off at a run, following Thomas along a trail through the forest
across the upper valley of the Robbins Brook, but had not gone more than
a mile when the storm came on, not large snowflakes, but thick and
fine, driven by wind. It came with a sudden darkening of the woods and
a strange deep sound, not the roar of a shower, but like a vast
elemental sigh from all the surrounding hills and mountains. The wind
rumbled in the high, bare tree-tops and the icy pellets sifted down
through the bare branches and rattled inclemently on the great beds of
dry leaves.

"Shall we go back?" exclaimed Halse.

"No, no; come on!" Thomas exclaimed. "We've got to get those sheep in

We ran on; but the forest grew dim and obscure. "I think we have gone
wrong," Addison said. "I 'most think we have," Thomas admitted. "I ought
to have taken that other path, away back there." He turned and ran back,
and we followed to where another forest path branched easterly; and
here, making a fresh start, we hastened on again for fifteen or twenty

"Oughtn't we to be pretty near Dunham's open?" demanded Addison.

"Oh, I guess we will come to it," replied Tom. "It is quite a good bit
to go."

Thereupon we ran on again for some time, and crossed two brooks. By this
time the storm had grown so blindingly thick that we could see but a few
yards in any direction. Still we ran on; but not long after, we came
suddenly on the brink of a deep gorge which opened out to the left on a
wide, white, frozen pond. Below us a large brook was plunging down the
"apron" of a log dam.

Thomas now pulled up short, in bewilderment. Addison laughed. "Do you
know where you are?" said he. "Tom, that is Stoss Pond and Stoss Pond
stream. There's the log dam and the old camp where Adger's gang cut
spruce last winter. I know it by those three tall pine stubs over

Tom looked utterly confused. "Then we are five miles from home," he
said, at length.

"We had better go back, too, as quick as we can!" Halse exclaimed,
shivering. "It's growing dark! The ground is covered with snow, now!"

Addison glanced around in the stormy gloom and shook his head. "Tom,"
said he, "I don't believe we can find our way back. In fifteen minutes
more we couldn't see anything in the woods. We had better get inside
that camp and build a fire in the old cook-stove."

"I don't know but that we had," Tom assented. "It's an awful night. Only
hear the wind howl in the woods!"

We scrambled down the steep side of the gorge to the log camp, found the
old door ajar and pushed in out of the storm. There was a strange smell
inside, a kind of animal odor. By good fortune Addison had a few matches
in the pocket of the old coat which he had worn, when we went on the
camping-trip to the "old slave's farm." He struck one and we found some
dry stuff and kindled a fire in the rusted stove. There were several
logger's axes in the camp; and Tom cut up a dry log for fuel; we then
sat around the stove and warmed ourselves.

"I expect that the folks will worry about us," Thomas said soberly.

"Well, it cannot be helped," replied Addison.

"But we haven't a morsel to eat here," said Halse. "I'm awfully hungry,

Thereupon Tom jumped up and began rummaging, looking in two pork
barrels, a flour barrel and several boxes. "Not a scrap of meat and no
flour," he exclaimed. "But here are a few quarts of white beans in the
bottom of this flour barrel; and we have got the sheep salt. What say to
boiling some beans? Here's an old kettle."

"Let's do it!" cried Halse.

A kettle of beans was put on and the fire kept up, as we sat around, for
two or three hours. Meantime the storm outside was getting worse. Fine
snow was sifting into the old camp at all the cracks and crevices. The
cold, too, was increasing; the roaring of the forest was at times
awe-inspiring. On peeping out at the door, nothing could be discerned;
snow like a dense white powder filled the air. Already a foot of snow
had banked against the door; the one little window was whitened.
Occasionally, above the roar in the tree-tops, could be heard a distant,
muffled crash, and Tom would exclaim, "There went a tree!"

We got our beans boiled passably soft, after awhile, and being very
hungry were able to eat a part of them, well salted. Boiled beans can be
eaten, but they can never rank as a table luxury.

While chewing our beans, toward the end of the repast, an odd sound
began to be heard, as of some animal digging at the door, also
snuffling, whimpering sounds. We listened for some moments.

"Boys, you don't suppose that's Tyro, do you?" cried Tom at length.
"I'll bet it is! He has taken my track and followed us away up
here!"--and jumping up, Tom ran to the door. "Tyro" was a small dog
owned at the Edwards homestead.

When, however, he opened the door a little, there crept in, whimpering,
not Tyro, but a small, dark-colored animal, which the faint light given
out from the stove scarcely enabled us to identify. The creature ran
behind the barrels; and Tom clapped the door to. Addison lighted a
splinter and we tried to see what it was; but it had run under the long
bunk where the loggers once slept. After a flurry, we drove it out in
sight again, when Tom shouted that it was a little "beezling" of a bear!

"Yes, sir-ee, that's a little runt of a bear cub," he cried. "He's been
in this old camp before. That's what made it smell so when we came in."

Addison imagined that this cub had run out when he heard us coming to
the camp, but that the severity of the storm had driven it back to
shelter. It was truly a poor little titman of a bear. At length we
caught it and shut it under a barrel, placing a stone on the top head.

[Illustration: THE BEEZLING BEAR.]

After our efforts cooking beans and the fracas with the "beezling bear,"
it must have been eleven o'clock or past, before we lay down in the
bunk. The wind was still roaring fearfully, and the fine snow sifting
down through the roof on our faces. In fact, the gale increased till
past midnight. Addison said that he would sit by the stove and keep
fire. Tom, Halse and I lay as snug as we could in the bunk, with our
feet to the stove and presently fell asleep.

But soon a loud _crack_ waked us, so harsh, so thrilling, that we
started up. Addison had sprung to his feet with an exclamation of alarm.
One of those great pine tree-stubs up the bank-side, above the camp, had
broken short off in the gale. In falling, it swept down a large fir tree
with it. Next instant they both struck with so tremendous a crash, one
on each side of the camp, that the very earth trembled beneath the
shock! The stove funnel came rattling down. We had to replace it as best
we could.

It was not till daylight, however, that we fully realized how narrowly
we had escaped death. A great tree trunk had fallen on each side of the
camp, so near as to brush the eaves of the low roof. Dry stubs of
branches were driven deep into the frozen earth. Either trunk would have
crushed the old camp like an eggshell! The pine stub was splintered and
split by its fall. There was barely the width of the camp between the
two trunks, as they lay there prone and grim, in the drifted snow.

The gale slackened shortly after sunrise and the storm cleared in part;
although snow still spit spitefully till as late as ten o'clock.

"What a Thanksgiving-day!" grumbled Halse.

After a time we started for home, leaving the little bear shut up. As
much as two feet of snow had fallen on a level and the drifts in the
hollows were much deeper. It was my first experience of the great snow
storms of Maine; my legs soon ached with wallowing, and my feet were
distressingly cold.

Our homeward progress was slow; none the less, Tom and Addison decided
to go to Dunham's open, which was nearly a mile off our direct course,
to look for the sheep. Now that it was light, they knew the way. Halse
refused to go; and as my legs ached badly, he and I remained under a
large fir tree beside the path, the fan-shaped branches of which, like
all the other evergreens, were encrusted and loaded down by a white

Addison and Thomas set off and were gone for more than an hour, but had
a large story to tell when they rejoined us. Not only had they found the
flock, snowbound, in Dunham's open, but had seen two deer which had
joined the sheep during the storm. The whole flock was in a copse of
firs, in the lee of the woods; and two loup-cerviers were sneaking about
near by. Thomas declared that their tracks were as large as his hand;
and Addison said that they had trodden a path in a semicircle around the

We resumed our wallowing way home, but erelong heard a distant shout.
Addison replied and immediately we saw two men a long way off in the
sheep pasture, advancing to meet us.

"I expect that one of them is my good dad," Thomas remarked dryly. "If I
know my mother, she has been worrying about this cub of hers all night."

It proved to be farmer Edwards, as Tom had surmised, and with him the
Old Squire, himself.

"Well, well, well, boys, where have you been all night?" was their first
salutation to us.

Addison gave a brief account of our adventure; we then proceeded
homeward together, and were in time for Gram's Thanksgiving dinner at
three o'clock, for which it is needless to say that we brought large
appetites. But I recall that the pleasures of the table for me were
somewhat marred by my feet which continued to ache and burn painfully
for two or three hours.

There was a snowdrift six feet in depth before the farmhouse piazza. The
drifts indeed had so changed the appearance of things around the house
and yard that everything looked quite strange to me.

None of the guests, whom we had expected to dinner, came, on account of
the storm; but a rumor of our adventure at the logging-camp had spread
through the neighborhood; and at night, after the road had been "broken"
with oxen, sled and harrow, Ned Wilbur and his sisters, the Murch boys,
and also Tom and Catherine, called to pass the evening.

Perhaps the snow storm with its bewildering whiteness had turned our
heads a little. That, or something else, started us off, making rhymes.
After great efforts, amidst much laughter and profound knitting of
brows, we produced what, in the innocence of youth, we called a
poem!--an epic, on our adventure. I still preserve the old scrawl of it,
in several different youthful hands, on crumpled sheets of yellowed
paper. It has little value as poesy, but I would not part with it for
autograph copies of the masterpieces of Kipling, or Aldrich.

It must have been akin to snow-madness, for I remember that Thomas who
never attempted a line of poetry before, nor since, led off with the
following stanzas:--

    "Four boys went off to look for sheep,
    Co'day, co'day, co'nanny, co'nan.
    And the trouble they had would make you weep,
    Co'day, co'day, co'nanny, co'nan.

    "They searched the pasture high and low,
    Then to Dunham's Open they tried to go.
    But the sky was dark and the wind did blow
    And the woods was dim with whirling snow.

    "They lost their way and got turned round,
    Co'day, co'day, co'nanny co'nan.
    It's a wonder now they ever were found.
    Co'day, co'day, co'nanny, co'nan.

    "The storm howled round them wild and drear.
    Stoss Pond did then by chance appear.
    They all declared 'twas 'mazing queer.
    'We're lost,' said Captain Ad, 'I fear.'"

Then either Kate or Ellen put forth a fifth and sixth stanza:--

    "But Halse espied an old log camp,
    Co'day, co'day, co'nanny, co'nan.
    And into it they all did tramp,
    Co'day, co'day, co'nanny, co'nan.

    "'Here's beans,' said Tom. 'Here's salt,' said Ad.
    'Boiled beans don't go so very bad,
    When nothing else is to be had.
    Let's eat our beans and not be sad.'"

I cannot say, certainly, who was responsible for these next stanzas, but
the handwriting is a little like my own at that age.

    "They ate their beans and sang a song,
    Co'day, co'day, co'nanny, co'nan.
    And wished the night was not so long,
    Co'day, co'day, co'nanny, co'nan.

    "Said Ad, 'What makes that whining noise?'
    'By jinks!' cried Tom, 'That's Tyro, boys!'
    But when he looked, without a care,
    In crawled a little beezling bear!"

There is a great deal more, not less than twenty stanzas; but a few will
suffice. Besides, too, I shrink from presenting the more faulty ones. To
strangers they will be merely the immature efforts of nameless young
folks; but for me a halo of memories glorifies each halting versicle.
The one where the tree fell runs as follows. It was Addison's; and in
his now distant home, he will anathematize me for exposing his youthful
bad grammar.

    "But the night grew wild and wilder still,
    Co'day, co'day, co'nanny, co'nan.
    The forest roared like an old grist-mill,
    Co'day, co'day, co'nanny, co'nan.

    "At last there came a fearful crack!
    A big pine tree had broke its back.
    Down it fell, with a frightful smack!
    And missed the camp by just a snack!"

Theodora alone made a stanza or two more in keeping with that finer
sentiment which the occasion might have inspired in us.

    "And we who sat and watched at home,
    Co'day, co'day, co'nanny, co'nan;
    And wondered why they did not come,
    Co'day, co'day, co'nanny, co'nan.
    What dread was ours through that long night,
    That they had perished was our fear,
    Scarce could we check the anxious tear,
    Nor slept at all till morning light.

    "But safe from storm and falling tree,
    Co'day, co'day, co'nanny, co'nan.
    Their faces dear again we see,
    Co'day, co'day co'nanny, co'nan.
    They slept mid perils all unseen,
    Some Guardian Hand protecting well;
    E'en though the mighty tree trunks fell,
    The little camp stood safe between."

After dinner, Mr. Edwards with Asa Doane went after the sheep, and by
tramping a path in advance of the flock, drove them home to the barns.

Next day Asa and Halse took a bushel basket, with a bran sack to tie
over it, and went to Adger's camp, to liberate and fetch home the little
"beezling bear," but found that bruin junior had upset the barrel and
made his escape.


    |          Transcriber's Note           |
    |                                       |
    | Page 191 murk changed to Murch        |
    | Page 344 defence changed to defense   |
    | Page 405 offences changed to offenses |

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