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Title: Kathie's Soldiers
Author: Douglas, Amanda Minnie, 1831-1916
Language: English
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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 "Kathie's Soldiers" ***

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KATHIE'S SOLDIERS

by

AMANDA M. DOUGLAS

       *       *       *       *       *

BOOKS BY AMANDA M. DOUGLAS

       *       *       *       *       *

THE HELEN GRANT BOOKS

    New Popular Edition. Nine volumes. ILLUSTRATED
    Price per volume, $.60

    HELEN GRANT'S SCHOOL-DAYS
    HELEN GRANT'S FRIENDS
    HELEN GRANT AT ALDRED HOUSE
    HELEN GRANT IN COLLEGE
    HELEN GRANT, SENIOR
    HELEN GRANT, GRADUATE
    HELEN GRANT, TEACHER
    HELEN GRANT'S DECISION
    HELEN GRANT'S HARVEST YEAR

       *       *       *       *       *

LITTLE RED HOUSE SERIES

    ILLUSTRATED. Price per volume, Net $1.00; Postpaid $1.10

    THE CHILDREN IN THE LITTLE OLD RED HOUSE
    THE RED HOUSE CHILDREN AT GRAFTON
    THE RED HOUSE CHILDREN'S VACATION
    THE RED HOUSE CHILDREN'S YEAR
    THE RED HOUSE CHILDREN GROWING UP

       *       *       *       *       *

  ALMOST AS GOOD AS A BOY. Illustrated   _Net_ $1.25
  HEROES OF THE CRUSADES. Fifty
      full-page Illustrations from
     GUSTAVE DORE                          _Net_  1.35
  LARRY (THE $2000 PRIZE
      STORY)                               _Net_  1.00
  THE KATHIE STORIES. Six Volumes.
      Illustrated. Per volume                      .50
  THE DOUGLAS NOVELS. Twenty-four
      Volumes. Per volume                          .60

       *       *       *       *       *

    LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO., BOSTON


       *       *       *       *       *


[Illustration: "I WISH YOU AND I COULD GO OUT WITH THE GIFTS."--_Page
99._]


KATHIE'S SOLDIERS

by

AMANDA M. DOUGLAS

Author of "Helen Grant Books," "Little Red
House Series," etc.

Frontispiece by C. Howard



[Illustration]

Boston
Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871,
by Lee and Shepard,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

Copyright, 1899, by Amanda M. Douglas.

All Rights Reserved.



KATHIE'S SOLDIERS.



CONTENTS.


    CHAPTER I.
                                              PAGE
    ENLISTING IN THE GRAND ARMY                  9

    CHAPTER II.
    DRAFTED                                     27

    CHAPTER III.
    TRUE TO ONE'S COLORS                        42

    CHAPTER IV.
    LITTLE STEPS BY THE WAY                     60

    CHAPTER V.
    ONE OF THE SMALL DEEDS                      80

    CHAPTER VI.
    GIVING AND RECEIVING                        98

    CHAPTER VII.
    A VISIT                                    116

    CHAPTER VIII.
    COMFORT IN NEED                            135

    CHAPTER IX.
    THORNS IN THE PATH                         151

    CHAPTER X.
    UNDER FIRE                                 172

    CHAPTER XI.
    IN ANOTHER'S STEAD                         192

    CHAPTER XII.
    HOME AGAIN                                 208

    CHAPTER XIII.
    GOOD NEWS                                  223

    CHAPTER XIV.
    PUT TO THE TEST                            241



CHAPTER I.

ENLISTING IN THE GRAND ARMY.


"HURRAH!" exclaimed Robert Alston, swinging his hat in the air, as he
came up the path; "hurrah! there's going to be a draft at Brookside!
Won't it be jolly?"

The group assembled glanced up at him,--a fair, fresh, rosy boy, without
any cowardly blood in his veins, as you could easily tell, but given, as
such natures often are, to underrating the silent bravery of others.

"What will there be so jolly about it, Rob?" asked his uncle, with a
peculiar light in his eye.

"Why,--the whole thing,"--and Rob made a little pause to think, though
it did not seem half so funny now as out on the street with a crowd of
boys, who had been singing at the top of their lungs, "John Brown's
Body," and "My Johnny has gone for a Soldier,"--"the surprise, Uncle
Robert, when some of the fellows who have been skulking back and afraid
to go find themselves compelled."

"So you think it rather funny to be forced to do what you would not
choose of your free-will?" and Uncle Robert gave a queer little smile.

"But--" and Rob looked around considerably perplexed at not finding his
argument at hand, and overwhelming. "O, you know what I mean!" throwing
himself down upon the grass. "If men haven't patriotism enough to
volunteer when their country needs them, why, I think they ought--I just
wish I was old enough! I'd go in a moment. I'd like the fun of 'marching
on'!"

"There is something beside marching," said Kathie, in her soft voice,
thinking in a vague way of General Mackenzie.

"Well, I'd like all of it!"

"The being drafted as well?"

It was Uncle Robert who spoke.

"No, I'd never be drafted!" and Rob's fair face flushed with a boy's
impulsive indignation; "I'd go at once,--at the first call."

"But if you were a man and had a wife, as well as bairnies, three or
four, or half a dozen, and were compelled to leave them to poverty?"

"There is the bounty, and the pay."

"Neither of which would be as much as a man could earn in a year at
home. And if he never came back--"

"But, Uncle Robert, don't you think it right for a man to be patriotic?"
asked his nephew, in a little amaze.

"Yes. One can never approve of cowardice in any act of life. Still, I
fancy there may be a great many brave and good men who have not
volunteered, and who, if they are drafted, will do their country loyal
service. It may not look quite so heroic, but God, who can see all sides
of the question, will judge differently."

"The soldiers don't feel so, Uncle Robert. It seems to me that the men
who volunteer _do_ deserve a good deal of credit."

"A great many of them do; but still numbers go for the novelty, or, as
you say, the fun. They like a rambling, restless life, and care little
for danger, little for death; but is it an intelligent courage,--the
highest and noblest kind? Does not the man who says, 'If my country in
her sorest strait needs me, I will go and do my duty to the utmost,'
deserve some credit, especially if he gives up what most men hold most
dear?"

"I believe I didn't look at it in that light altogether. It seemed to me
that it was only the cowards and the selfish men who waited to be
drafted."

"Then you think I ought to volunteer?" said Uncle Robert, with a dry but
good-natured smile.

There was a very general exclamation.

"You!" exclaimed Rob, aghast at the unlooked-for application.

"I have neither wife nor children. I am young, strong, in good health,
and though I do not fancy a military life above all others, I still
think I could endure the hardships like a good soldier, and if I stood
in the front ranks to face the enemy I do not believe that I should run
away."

He rose as he said this, and, folding his arms across his chest, leaned
against the vine-covered column of the porch, looking every inch a
soldier without the uniform.

It would break his mother's heart to have Uncle Robert go, and there
was Aunt Ruth, and Kathie, and Freddy; but--what a handsome soldier he
would make! Major Alston, or Colonel Alston,--how grand it would sound!
So you see Rob was quite taken with military glory.

Kathie came and slipped her hand within Uncle Robert's. "We could not
spare you," she whispered, softly.

"But if I were drafted?"

"Well," exclaimed Rob, stubbornly clinging to his point, "the boys over
in the village think it will make some fun. There's a queer little
recruiting shanty on the green, and a fifer and a drummer. If our quota
isn't filled by next Wednesday,--and they all say it won't be,--the
draft is to commence. I'm glad I'm not going away until the first of
October. I only wish--"

"I wish you were, if that will do you any good," answered Mr. Meredith,
glancing up from his book which he had been pretending to read.

"I'd rather enlist than go to school."

"Maybe enlisting in the home-guard will prove a wise step for the first
one."

"Home-guard?" and Rob looked a bit perplexed.

"Yes. We all do considerable soldiering in our lives unconsciously; and
if it comes hard to obey our captains here, I am not sure that we should
always find it so easy out on the field. There are some things that take
more courage than to march down to the valley of death as did the 'Six
Hundred.'"

"O," said Rob, fired again with a boy's enthusiasm, "that's just the
grandest thing that ever was written! I don't like poetry as a general
thing, it always sounds so girlish to me; but Marco Bozzaris and that
are so fine, especially the lines,--

    'Theirs not to reason why,
     Theirs but to do and die.'"

"After all, dying is not the grandest thing," said Aunt Ruth, quietly;
"and the detached instances of heroism in one's life have not always
required the most courage."

"No, indeed," answered Mr. Meredith, warmly. "I know men who have
acquitted themselves bravely under fire, who at home possessed so small
an amount of moral courage that they really could not resist temptations
which were to their mental and physical detriment."

"But it is the fighting that interests me," said Robert.

"One may be a brave soldier with purely physical courage, but to be a
good soldier one needs moral courage as well."

Just then Ada Meredith came down on the porch. She was Kathie's little
New York friend, and her uncle had brought her to Cedarwood for a few
days. She was growing tall rapidly, and considered herself quite a young
lady, especially as she had been to Saratoga with her mother.

So this made a little break in the conversation. Rob somehow didn't get
on very well with her; but then he admitted that he didn't like girls
anyhow, except Miss Jessie. He was rather glad, therefore, to see Dick
Grayson coming up the path, taking it for an excuse to get away.

Ada looked after them with secret mortification. Dick was quite a young
man in her estimation, and only that morning he had been very gallant.
She hated to have Rob take him off to the lake or any other haunt, so
she bethought herself of a little stratagem.

"You promised me a game of croquet," she said to Kathie, with great
earnestness.

Kathie glanced up in surprise. When she had proposed it that morning Ada
declared it stupid, and said she had grown tired of it. Uncle Robert,
knowing nothing of this, answered for her. "Of course," he said; "there
are the boys. Rob, don't go away, you are wanted."

Rob made an impatient gesture with his hand, as if he would wave them
all out of sight. Uncle Robert walked down to the boys. "Ada would like
to play croquet," he remarked, pleasantly.

"I'm just in the humor for a game myself," answered Dick; but Rob's brow
knit itself into a little frown.

"Come, girls!"

Mr. Meredith accompanied them. "We will be umpires," he declared.

Ada chose Dick for a partner. Rob thought it wasn't much fun playing
with Kathie. He was rather careless, and in the first game they were
badly beaten, which made Rob altogether out of humor. Why couldn't the
girls have stayed on the balcony and talked?

"I can't play!" he said, throwing down his mallet.

Uncle Edward picked it up. "Now, Kathie, let us beat them all to ribbons
and fragments!" he exclaimed, gayly, taking her brother's place.

Rob fell out of the ranks to where his uncle stood in the shade of a
great tulip-tree.

"Soldiers!" he said, in a low, half-laughing tone.

Rob colored. "I didn't want to play a bit! I wish girls--"

"But a brave soldier goes off of the field after a defeat in good order.
If he has done his best, that is all that is required of him."

Rob knew that he had not done his best at all, although he was angry
with the mortification of losing the game.

    "Theirs not to reason why,
     Theirs but to do and die,"

said Uncle Robert, using his quotation against him.

"But that doesn't mean paltry little matters like this!"--with all a
boy's disdain in his voice.

"It means everything when one is right. As Mr. Meredith said a few
moments ago, there is a good deal of soldiering in life which must be
all voluntary. That ought to suit your ideas. And I think the great
Captain is often very patient with us, Rob. He bought us all with a
price, you know, whether we serve him or not."

"But it is so hard for me to be"--Rob made a great effort and said,
frankly--"good-tempered."

"I do not think that is it altogether."

"What then?" and Rob looked up in a little astonishment.

"We will put it on a military basis,--shirking one's duty because it is
not pleasant."

"There was no particular duty about playing croquet!"--in the same
surprised tone.

"Why did you do it at all then?"

"Because--"

"Courtesy to a guest becomes a duty in a host."

"But there was Kathie. Dick and I were going down to take a row."

"I have a fancy Dick likes the croqueting as well as he would have liked
the rowing."

Dick Grayson's pleasant laugh floated over to them as he said, "Not so
bad a beat, after all, Mr. Meredith."

"The life soldiering is not quite so arbitrary. A good deal of it is
left to conscience. But if a sentinel at some outpost followed his own
devices and let a spy pass the line--"

"He would be shot, of course."

"It seems hard, doesn't it, just for one little thing? Yet if one or two
men escaped punishment the army would soon be in a state of
insubordination. Then when a captain came to lead them in battle each
man might consider his way and opinion best. Would it answer?"

"No, it wouldn't," replied the boy. "But, Uncle Robert, if God had made
us--stronger."

"He offers us his strength daily."

"But it is so--I mean you never can think of it at the right moment."

"That is the secret of our duty to him,--to think of his wishes at the
right time. He means, in this life, that we shall not seek to please
ourselves altogether; but there is no guard-house, no bread-and-water
rations, only a still, small voice to remind us."

Rob was silent for some moments, watching the players, and wondering why
everything fretted him so easily. Were all the rest of the world to have
their own way and pleasures, and he never? "Uncle Robert," he began,
presently, "don't you think it fair that I should follow out my own
wishes _sometimes_? Is it not unjust to ask me to give up always?"

"Are you asked to give up always?"--and the elder smiled.

"Well--" Rob grew rather red and confused.

"Which would give you the most satisfaction,--to know that you had made
two or three people happy, or to enjoy some pleasure alone by yourself?
This is the chief thing the Captain asks of us voluntary soldiers; and
did not a wise man say that 'he who ruleth his own spirit is greater
than he who taketh a city'?"

"There is more in volunteering than I thought," Rob said, gravely, after
a long pause; "I am afraid, after all, that I am one of the kind waiting
for a draft."

"And, if you wait for that, you may be left out altogether. Rob, it is
not very easy work to march and countermarch, to dig trenches, throw up
earthworks, keep your eyes open and your senses keen through dreary
night-watches and the many other duties that fill up a soldier's life.
It is harder for some men to keep faithful to these than to go into
battle and die covered with glory. But on the other side there will be a
few questions asked. What was the man's life? I often think of what the
Saviour said,--not be faithful _in_ death, but be 'faithful _unto_
death.' There, we have had quite a sermon. Next month you will be a new
recruit, you know."

"Two games!" exclaimed Dick, as they advanced. "Each party has won one."

"And I am tired," said Ada, languidly.

"Just one more," pleaded Dick; "I know that I shall have better luck."

"I can't," Ada replied.

Rob's first impulse was to say, "I'll take her place"; but he felt that
would leave Ada to her own resources again. He did not care anything
about Ada's noticing him,--indeed, she rather ignored him when Dick was
around; but he had a fancy that Dick was _his_ friend, and did not
belong so exclusively to the girls.

"Rob, I'll try you," Mr. Meredith exclaimed, remarking the wistful face.

So Ada and Dick had a ramble about the grounds, as Kathie, feeling she
was not very earnestly desired, lingered to watch the players. It was a
pretty sharp game, but Robert beat.

"Though I do not think you played your best at the last," the boy said.

Uncle Edward gave a queer little smile that set Rob to musing. What if
people sometimes acted a little differently, for the sake of sparing his
unlucky temper!

"I shall have to fight giants," he confessed to himself, understanding,
as he never had before, how serious a warfare life really is.

Dick could not be persuaded to remain to supper, though Ada made herself
very charming. But they passed a pleasant evening without him. Indeed,
it seemed to Rob that there was some new element in their enjoyment. Was
it because Ada was more gracious than usual?

Uncle Robert could have told the secret easily.

"Don't you get dreadfully dull sometimes?" Ada asked as they were alone
in their room, for Ada had chosen to share Kathie's.

"Dull!" and Kathie gave her pleasant little laugh.

"When there is no company? For it is not quite like the city, where one
can have calls and evening amusements."

"I hardly ever think of it. You know I was not here last winter, and the
summer has been so very delightful!" Kathie's cheeks glowed at the
remembrance.

"But your brother will be away this coming winter."

"Yes." It would make some difference, to be sure, but Kathie fancied
that she should not be entirely miserable.

"If I were you, I should want to go to boarding-school. Where there is a
crowd of girls they always manage to have a nice time."

"But I have nice times at home. I do not want to go away."

"What a queer girl you are, Kathie!"

It was not the first time she had been called queer. But she said,
rather gayly, "In what respect?"

"I shouldn't like to do as you have to. Why, there are five servants in
our house, and only one in this great place! And we have only four
children, while your mother has three. It is hardly fair for you to be
compelled to do so much work when there is no necessity."

"Mamma thinks it best," Kathie answered.

"If you expected to be very poor--or would have to do housework--"

"I might," returned Kathie, pleasantly. "People are sick sometimes, and
servants go away."

"Isn't your uncle willing that you should have a chambermaid?"

"I suppose he would be if mamma desired it."

"So you have to keep your own room in order, and dust the parlor, and do
all manner of little odds and ends. I believe I saw you wiping some
dishes in the kitchen this morning."

"And it did not injure me," returned Kathie, laughingly.

"But all this work makes your hands hard and red. Mine are as soft as
satin. I believe no money would tempt me to sweep a room!"

Ada uttered this in a very lofty fashion.

"Mamma thinks it best for me to learn to do everything. She was brought
up in a good deal of luxury, but met with reverses afterward."

Kathie smiled inwardly at the picture she remembered of the little room
where her mother used to sit and sew, and how _she_ did errands, swept,
washed dishes, and sometimes even scrubbed floors. Her hands were not
large or coarse, for all the work they had done.

"I think it would be hard enough if one was compelled to do it. I am
thankful that I have no taste for such menial employments. I do not
believe that I could even toast a piece of bread"; and Ada leaned back
in the low rocker, the very picture of complacency.

Kathie was silent, revolving several matters in her mind "all in a
jumble," as she would have said. She knew it would be useless to
undertake to explain to Ada the great difference between their lives.
Mamma, Aunt Ruth, and Uncle Robert believed in the great responsibility
of existence. Weeks, months, and years were not given to be squandered
away in frivolous amusement. To do for each other was one of the first
conditions, not merely the small family circle, but all the wide world
outside who needed help or sympathy. And if one did not know how to do
anything--

"But when you go to school you cannot do so much," pursued Ada. "There
will be all your lessons. I suppose you will study French and Italian.
You cannot think how I was complimented on my singing while I was at
Saratoga. Several gentlemen said my pronunciation was wonderful in one
so young. I hope I shall be able to come out next summer."

"Come out!" repeated Kathie, bewildered.

"Yes, be regularly introduced to society. I am past fifteen, and growing
tall rapidly. I hope I shall have an elegant figure. I want to be a
belle. Don't you suppose you shall ever go to Saratoga?"

"I don't know,"--dubiously.

"It would be a shame for you to grow up here where there is no society.
You would surely be an old maid, like your Aunt Ruth."

"She isn't so very old," returned Kathie, warmly.

"But every woman over twenty-five is an old maid. I mean to be married
when I am eighteen."

Kathie brushed out her hair, hung up her clothes, and waited for Ada to
get into bed so that she might say her prayers in peace. Ada had
outgrown "Our Father which art in heaven," and "had no knack of making
up prayers," she said.

But it seemed to Kathie that there were always so many things for which
to give thanks, so many fresh blessings to ask. She almost wondered a
little, sometimes, if God didn't get tired of listening.



CHAPTER II.

DRAFTED.


MISS JESSIE smiled a little at Ada's assumption of womanhood when the
two girls came over to drink tea.

"Ah," said Grandmother Darrell, wiping her glasses, "she's no such a
girl as Kathie! The child's worth half a dozen of her. After all,
there's no place like the country to bring up boys and girls."

For Grandmother Darrell, like a good many other people, fancied
everything that came from the city must be more or less contaminated.

"I think Miss Darrell _would_ make your uncle a very nice wife," Ada
said, graciously. "Do you suppose there is anything in it?"

Kathie flushed scarlet, remembering the pain and trouble of last winter.
"I don't want to talk about it," she answered, in a low tone.

Ada nodded her head sagaciously. It was quite evident that she had hit
upon the truth.

Some of the Brookside girls thought Ada "so splendid," Lottie Thorne
among them, who now treated Kathie in a very amiable manner, and always
took pains to speak with her as they came out of church. Of course,
Lottie was growing older and a little more sensible, as well as worldly
wise.

They took Ada to all the pleasant haunts, rowed over the lake, made two
or three visits, and Mrs. Alston invited some girls, or rather young
ladies, to tea; but Ada showed a decided preference for the young
gentlemen. Even unsuspicious Kathie remarked how soon her headaches
disappeared, and how ready she was to sing if some of the boys would
stand at the piano and turn her music.

"A budding coquette," said Aunt Ruth, with a quiet smile.

"What a pity that girls should be reared to such idle, frivolous lives,
and have their minds so filled with vanity and selfishness!" Mrs. Alston
replied. "Can such blossoming bring forth good, wholesome fruit?"

Mr. Meredith felt a little annoyed. The visit was not quite the success
he had hoped, and he saw more clearly than ever the difference between
the two girls; but ah, how unlike their mothers were!

Was he growing more serious, clearer-eyed? What was there about this
family that charmed so insensibly? The higher motives, the worthier
lives, with a more generous outlook for neighbor and friend!

Kathie was ashamed to confess it even to herself, but she said good by
at the station with a sense of relief. For days a horrible thought had
been haunting her,--suppose Uncle Robert _should_ be drafted! The
abruptly terminated conversation had not been renewed; indeed, there had
been so many pleasures at Cedarwood that one hardly wanted to bring in
such a subject. But if it did happen, Kathie felt she should want no
stranger eyes to witness her grief.

For when the question came directly home, she felt that she could not
give him up; yet how brave she had been last winter! If General
Mackenzie could look into her heart, he would find that she hardly
deserved all his praise.

But all Brookside was much excited over the prospect. Business was very
dull and bounties tempting; so numbers enlisted.

"Uncle Robert," Kathie said, as they were riding homeward, "could a
drafted man offer a substitute just the same?"

"Why, yes, to be sure."

He uttered the words in such a light-hearted manner that she felt quite
relieved, but lacked courage to pursue the subject further. A little
quiver would keep rising from her heart to her throat, interfering with
the steadiness of her voice.

By Monday night seventy men were still needed to complete the quota.
That gave Brookside about forty.

Kathie wondered how they could all go on with their usual routine. Aunt
Ruth, even, sat by the window and sang "Bonnie Doon," as she sewed upon
Rob's outfit. His uncle had decided upon a school about sixty miles
distant, a flourishing collegiate institution, in a healthy locality,--a
quaint, quiet, old-fashioned town, with a river where the boys could
have boating and swimming.

"It is so far!" Mrs. Alston had said at first.

"Not too far, though. Of course we do not expect him to come home every
few weeks. That always unsettles a boy."

So she made no further demur. The principal, Dr. Goldthwaite, was a
truly religious man, and the place was held in high esteem. Perhaps this
took their thoughts a little from the subject that was so absorbing to
Kathie.

Rob went over to the hall and hung about all the morning. He did find a
good deal of amusement in it. The crowd was disposed to be rather jolly,
and several of the men took their luck with great good-humor. It was as
his uncle had said. While they would not willingly leave their homes and
families, still, if the country had need of them in her imminent peril,
they would go. Others, sure of a substitute, took the news with
unconcern. Only a few exhibited any anger, or declared loudly what they
would and what they would not do.

At three o'clock the printed list was complete, and the notices were
being made up.

"So your uncle's in for it, Rob!" exclaimed a voice at his side.

"No, you're mistaken. I listened to every name."

"Here it is,--Robert Conover!"

Rob followed the grimy finger down the list. Sure enough! His heart
stood still for a moment.

"He will get a sub, though! He'd be a fool to go when he's rich enough
to stay at home!"

"Yes, that's it!" and a burly fellow turned, facing them with a savage
frown. "It's the poor man this 'ere thing comes hard on! Rich men are
all cowards! They kin stay to hum and nuss themselves in the
chimbly-corner. I say they're cowards!"

Rob's heart swelled within him for a twofold reason. First, the shock.
He had not been able to believe that the draft would touch them, and the
surprise was very great. Then to have his uncle called a coward! All the
boy's hot, unreasoning indignation was ablaze.

"He is not!" he answered, fiercely.

"Say that agin and I'll knock you over!"

Rob was not to be dared or to be bullied into silence. He stood his
ground manfully.

"I say that my uncle is no coward, whether he gets a substitute or not!"

The fellow squared off. It was Kit Kent, as he was commonly called, a
blacksmith of notoriously unsteady habits.

"None of that!" and a form was interposed between Bob and his
assailant. "Hit a fellow of your size, Kent, not a boy like that."

"Let the youngster hold his tongue then! Much he knows!"

Rob did not stir, but his lips turned blue and almost cold with the
pressure. If he had been a little larger, it seemed to him that he could
not have let Kent alone.

"There's a chance for you to make some money," exclaimed a voice in the
crowd. "Six or seven hundred dollars, and you're grumbling about being
out of work! It's a golden opportunity, and you'll never find another
like it."

That turned the laugh upon Kent. Rob walked off presently. Turning into
a quiet street, he nearly ran over two men who stood talking.

"The trouble is that you can hardly find a substitute. Most of the
able-bodied men who will go have enlisted or been drafted. The look is
mighty poor!"

That startled Rob again. He began to feel pretty sober now. What if--

Kathie and Aunt Ruth had gone out into the garden, and were taking up
some flowers for winter.

"O Rob!" exclaimed Kathie, with a cry, "is there any news? It's the
worst, I know," answering her own question, her breath almost strangling
her.

"Yes, it is the worst!"

"Uncle Robert has been drafted!" Kathie dropped her trowel and flew to
her mother. "But he won't go," she sobbed; "do you think he will? How
can we spare him?"

"It would be no worse for us than for hundreds of others," replied her
mother. "Kathie, my darling, be brave until we know, at least."

"Where is he?"

"He went to Connor's Point with Mr. Langdon. Hush, dear, don't cry."

Kathie wiped away her tears. "It is very hard," she said. "I never
realized before how hard it was."

But the flowers lost their charm. Kathie put away her implements, laid
off her garden-dress, as she called it,--a warm woollen sack and
skirt,--and sat down, disconsolately enough, to practise her music. Next
week she was going to school.

She heard Uncle Robert's voice on the porch at the side entrance. Rob
was talking in great earnest; but somehow she couldn't have gone out, or
trusted the voice still so full of tears.

He came in at length. "You have heard the news, Kitty?"

She rose and went to his arms, hid her face upon his shoulder. "O Uncle
Robert!"

"What ought I to do, little one?"

It was such a solemn question that she could not answer it readily,
selfishly.

"Rob came very near getting into a row on my behalf. It was rather
funny. Poor boy! I believe he would go willingly in my stead."

The story interested Kathie a good deal, and turned the current of her
feelings somewhat. Then one or two of the neighbors came in, and they
had no more quiet until they gathered round the supper-table. Freddy
thought it a great honor to be drafted.

"Is it true that there is a scarcity of substitutes?" asked Rob of his
uncle.

"I believe it is. Mr. Langdon put in one about a month ago, and paid a
thousand dollars."

"But you could afford that," said Rob, decisively.

"What about the cowardice of the proceeding?"

Rob colored. The matter appeared so different to him now.

"O Uncle Robert!"--in a most deprecating tone.

"I will not perplex you, nor keep you in suspense," he said, gravely.
"If your father was alive I think I should not hesitate a moment. The
country is at her sorest need, and calls upon her loyal children for
assistance. It is the duty of every man who can be spared to answer the
call, to swell the list so that the struggle may be brief. It seems to
me that another year will certainly see our war ended, now that we have
such brave and able generals in the field, but if the stress should be
any greater, I _must_ respond. Now, however, I shall do my best to
procure a substitute."

They all drew a relieved breath. Kathie looked up with a tender light in
her eyes.

"I am so glad!" she said afterward, nestling beside him upon the sofa.
"Did it surprise you when you heard that you were drafted?"

"I must confess that it did. I had a presentiment that I should escape,
so it seems such things are not always to be depended upon."

Kathie was silent for some time, her eyes engrossed with a figure in the
carpet.

"Well, Miss Thoughtful, what is it now? Are you not satisfied to have me
stay, or am I less of a hero in your eyes?"

"No, Uncle Robert. I was only thinking of the men who were compelled to
go and did not want to, who had families to leave--"

"My darling, it is not necessary to lay the cares of others so deeply to
heart. Instead, we must do all we can for those who are left behind."

"I don't think a draft quite a fair thing, after all," declared Rob,
coming out of a brown study.

Mrs. Alston entered the room. "Mr. Morrison is over here and wishes to
see you,--Ethel's father."

Uncle Robert rose and went out.

In the mean while Aunt Ruth and Rob had quite a warm discussion
concerning the draft. Kathie somehow felt very tender-hearted, and was
silent.

Presently they heard steps in the hall and the door opened.

"I have brought Mr. Morrison in to see you all," Mr. Conover said, "and
to explain to you that he desires to go in my stead, a willing
substitute."

There was something very solemn and withal sweet in Uncle Robert's
voice. Rob winked away a tear, Kathie walked over to Mr. Morrison and
laid her hand in his,--a pretty white hand if she did dust the rooms and
do gardening with it.

"It is so very kind and generous in you," she began, falteringly,
thinking of another love and another substitute.

"No, Miss Kathie, it isn't all pure generosity, so don't praise me too
soon. If I'd been real lucky about getting work, maybe I shouldn't have
taken the idea so strongly into my mind, or if poor Ethel's mother had
lived. But times are unsettled, and business of all kinds is so very
dull that I'd half made up my mind to 'list and get the bounty. That
would be something for my little girl in case she didn't have me. Then
when I heard talk of the draft I thought to myself, 'If Mr. Conover gets
taken I'll offer to go in his place'; and so I waited. Being an
Englishman, I am not liable, you know."

"And that makes it the more noble," returned Kathie, softly. "It was so
good to--to think of him"; and her voice sank to a whisper.

"You have all been so kind to my poor old mother, and to me, for that
matter, as well. I seem to owe some sort of duty to you first."

"Did you mean to enlist any way?" asked Kathie.

"Yes, miss, it would have come to that; for, said I, 'Here is a country
and a government battling in a good cause, begging for men, and willing
to provide for the little ones they may leave behind.' Though I should
be no skulk, nor eye-server, Miss Kathie, if I did go for the money."

"We should never think that of you," returned Uncle Robert, warmly.

"So I'll be glad to go in your place, sir, if it's any favor; and if
you'll look after Ethel a little, if anything should happen to me. If
I'm too bold in asking--"

"No," said Aunt Ruth; "it will be a sacred duty, and a pleasure as well;
but we shall count upon your return."

"Life is uncertain with us all," was the grave reply. With that he rose
and bowed. Uncle Robert left the room with him, for he had much more to
say.

"I couldn't have uttered a word," exclaimed Rob, his voice still a
little tremulous. "Why, it's just like a dream! There are noble and
heroic men who may go to war even for the money, though I think they are
a good deal sneered at,--subs, as the boys call them; but I shall never
ridicule them again,--never, although bad men may do the same thing."

"It is not quite the same," subjoined Kathie.

"No, the motive makes a great difference."

Uncle Robert returned and took his seat between the children. He
appeared to be invested with a new virtue in their eyes, as if he had
just escaped an imminent and deadly peril. And there is something in the
simplest act of chivalry that touches one's soul.

"It was so good in Mr. Morrison to think of you," Rob said, after a
while.

"Yes; going farther back, I don't know but we owe it all to Kathie. If
she had not thought of our trusty and efficient gardener, we should
never have known his brother. The lodge has made a charming home for
them, and they feel deeply grateful."

"It is worse to go away to war than I imagined," Rob continued, gravely
following out his own musings.

"You have been looking at the glory and listening to the music, my boy;
but there is quite another side to it. It is one thing to go out as a
mounted officer, in glittering uniform, with a servant to wait upon you,
and if you fall in battle to have whole cities weep your loss, and quite
another to tramp as a common soldier, often weary and footsore, to be
subject to the caprice of those in authority, to work night and day
sometimes, to stand in the front rank and be swept down by a terrific
charge, be trampled under foot and thrown into a nameless grave, perhaps
forever lost to your kindred. It is no light matter, Rob, and requires a
good deal of courage when a man does it intelligently."

"You wouldn't have gone out as a private, though!"

A grave smile crossed Uncle Robert's face "I should not have gone for
the glory, but the duty. Yes, Rob, I should have taken my place in the
ranks, and if the great Captain of all had said, 'Friend, come up
higher,' I should have trusted through his grace to be ready for the
promotion. But one goes in my stead."

Kathie thought of the One who had gone in the place of us all, been
mocked, derided, spit upon, and put to a cruel death. Maybe the rest
remembered it too, for there was no more talking. Their hearts were too
full.



CHAPTER III.

TRUE TO ONE'S COLORS.


THERE was a week of great excitement at Brookside. Head-quarters were
established on the confines of the town to render it accessible to
Taunton and the adjacent places. Hundreds thronged the camp daily;
uniforms were sent down, and drilling commenced in good earnest.

Kathie began school on Monday morning. A large, pleasant room had been
obtained, and Mrs. Wilder opened with ten young ladies, though nearly as
many more had been enrolled.

"I feel as if I were drafted," she declared to Uncle Robert. "I know it
is my duty to go and do the best that I can, but I would so much rather
have remained at home."

"You find, then, that no one is quite exempt from the warfare?" and he
smiled. "Still, I think I can trust you to be a good soldier."

"I am second in the regiment," she said. "Mr. Morrison must always stand
first."

It seemed very quiet and lonesome in that large room, where you were put
upon your honor not to speak, and the silence was broken only by the
recitations, or some remark of Mrs. Wilder. A long, dull day, though the
session closed at two, there being no intermission.

Lottie Thorne was the only girl Kathie was well acquainted with. That
ambitious young lady had pleaded very hard for boarding-school, and,
being disappointed, was rather captious and critical. Emma Lauriston sat
next to her, and Kathie fancied she might like her very much. She had
met her in the summer at the rowing-matches.

But she was glad enough to get home. Rob had his head full of Camp
Schuyler, and Freddy had arrayed himself in gorgeous regimentals and sat
out on a post drumming fearfully.

"I want a little more talk about this substitute business," said Uncle
Robert, at the table. "Mr. Morrison offered to go for seven hundred
dollars. He has three hundred of his own. Now what do you think we ought
to give him?"

He addressed the question more particularly to Rob and Kathie.

Rob considered. In his boy's way of thinking he supposed what any one
asked was enough.

"Would a thousand dollars be too much?" Kathie ventured, timidly. "It
doesn't seem to me that any money could make up to Ethel for--"

There Kathie stopped.

"He will come back," exclaimed Rob.

"We were talking over Ethel's future this morning. Mr. Morrison would
like to have her educated for a teacher. I am to be appointed her
guardian in case of any misfortune."

"It ought not to be less than a thousand," said Aunt Ruth.

"I thought so myself. And I believe I shall pledge my word to provide a
home for Ethel in case of any change at her uncle's."

Kathie's deep, soft eyes thanked him.

The next day the bargain was concluded. Mr. Morrison handed his small
sum over to Mr. Conover for safe-keeping, and the whole amount, thirteen
hundred dollars, was placed at interest. Then he reported himself at
Camp Schuyler for duty.

Kathie tried bravely to like her school, but home was so much dearer and
sweeter. It was quite hard after her desultory life, and spasmodic
studying made so very entertaining by Uncle Robert's explanations, to
come down to methodical habits and details. She meant to be a good
soldier, even if it did prove difficult in the early marches.

But this week was one of events. On Thursday afternoon Mr. Meredith
surprised them all again. It seemed to Kathie that there was something
unusual in his face. Uncle Robert was absent on important business, and
at first he appeared rather disappointed.

"It is such a glorious afternoon, Kitty, that I think you will have to
invite me out to drive, by way of comfort. Are the ponies in good
order?"

"Yes, and at home. How fortunate that Rob did not take them!"

Kathie ordered them at once.

"You have had great doings here. So you came near losing your dear
uncle, my child?"

Kathie winked away a tear. There would always be a tender little spot in
her heart concerning the matter.

"It is best under the circumstances," was Mr. Meredith's grave comment.
"I should not want him to go."

They took their seats in the phaeton. "Where shall we drive?" Kathie
asked. "To--" breaking off her sentence with a little blush.

"Miss Darrell is away from home. It is owing to that circumstance that
you are called upon to entertain me"; and he laughed a little, but less
gayly than usual.

It was a soft, lovely autumn day, full of whisperings of oaks and pines
and cedars, fragmentary chirps of birds, and distant river music, Kathie
drew a few long breaths of perfect content, then with her usual
consideration for others she stole a shy glance to see if Mr. Meredith
was enjoying it as well, he was so very quiet.

"I am afraid something troubles you," she said, softly; and her voice
sounded as if it might have been a rustle of maple branches close at
hand. "Is it about Uncle Robert?"

"No, child," in a grave, reflective tone; "it is--about myself."

She did not like to question him as she would have done with Uncle
Robert.

"Kitten," he began, presently, "I have been thinking this good while,
and thinking slowly. A great many things puzzle me, and all my
perplexities have culminated at last in one grand step; but whether I am
quite prepared for it--"

The sentence was a labyrinth to Kathie, and she was not quite sure that
she held the clew.

"I am going to enlist--at least, I am going out for three months--with
my regiment. They have volunteered, most of them."

"And what troubles you?" in her sweet, tender voice, and glancing up
with an expression that no other eyes save Kathie Alston's could have
had.

"Child," he asked, "how did you stand fire last winter when you were so
suddenly brought to the front? About the singing, I mean."

She understood. He referred to the Sunday evening at Mrs. Meredith's
when she had refused to join Ada in singing songs. The remembered pain
still made her shiver.

"There _is_ something about you, Kathie, just a little different from
other children,--other girls. You often carry it in your face; and for
the life of me I cannot help thinking how the wise virgins must have
been illuminated with their tiny lamps while the others stood in
darkness. Is it a natural gift or grace?"

She knew now what he meant. She was called upon to give testimony here,
and it was almost as hard as in Mrs. Meredith's grand drawing-room. She
felt the warm blood throbbing through every pulse.

"You did a brave thing that night, little girl. I shall never forget
it--never. _Can_ you answer my question? What _is_ it?"

She could only think of one thing, one sentence, amid the whirl and
confusion of ideas and the girlish shrinking back,--"The love of Christ
constraineth us."

"It wasn't merely your regard for your mother or Uncle Robert?"

"It was _all_,"--in her simple, earnest fashion.

"I'm going out there, Kathie," nodding his head southward, "to stand
some pretty hard fire, doubtless. I am not afraid of physical pain, nor
the dropping out of life, though existence never was sweeter than now;
but if, in the other country, the record of my useless years rises sharp
against me, what shall I answer? I have never tried to do anything for
the glory of God! Child, you shame all our paltry lives!"

"O, don't!" with a suggestion of pain in her voice; "what I can do is
such a very little."

She would never know how the simple acts of her life, springing from the
hidden centre that was deeper even than her every-day thought, was to
bear fruit on wide-spread branches.

"And yet we--I--do nothing. I should have to go empty-handed."

She cast about for some words of comfort. As girl or woman Kathie Alston
would never be able to realize all the frivolousness, to say nothing of
vanity, selfishness, and deeper sins, crowded into this man's life,
which still looked so fair by outward comparison with others.

"Ever since Mr. Morrison offered to go in Uncle Robert's place this
verse has been lingering in my mind: 'Greater love hath no man than
this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.' It seems to me that
it doesn't mean physical life altogether, but all the times and places
when we take something precious out of our own lives and put it into
that of others. And every man who goes now may be called upon to suffer
in some other's stead. If he do it bravely, is it not a little of the
good fruit? I can't explain all I mean, only just as the Saviour loved
us we ought to love every one else."

Edward Meredith had listened to many an eloquent sermon, and dissected
it in a purely intellectual fashion, his heart never warming with any
inward grace, or hungering after the true bread. But he understood now
the secret of this little girl's life. Not doctrine, not so much creed,
or form, or rule, "but the taking something precious out of her daily
existence and noiselessly placing it in that of others." And the same
love which enabled her to do this rendered her brave, pure, and sweet. A
child's religion, that a year or two ago he would have sneered at, and
now he had come to learn of her because he was too proud to ask others,
and perhaps ashamed.

"But you had a substitute!" she said, presently, bethinking herself.

"Yes. He has served his time out honorably, has had the good fortune to
come home without harm of any kind. You remember how Mackenzie bantered
me last winter, though he was in dead earnest. But the country is at her
extremest need now; if Grant, Sherman, and our other generals, are
strengthened by good reinforcements, it seems to me that in six months
we might have peace. I have done a good deal of holiday soldiering in my
life, but this is to be sober earnest."

He looked as if it might be.

"When will you go?"

"We start for Washington on Saturday morning."

"So soon! Does--Miss Jessie know?" Kathie could not help but ask it,
though the lids trembled over her shy, downcast eyes.

"She should have received my note this morning. I suppose she did not,
or she would have been at home. Kathie, I ought to thank you for your
rare delicacy in keeping our secret. There are some matters that one
does not like to have talked about."

What would Miss Jessie say? Of course she loved Mr. Meredith very much.
Kathie's heart ached a little in silence, but this was one of the
burdens that could not be borne by another.

On they went through lovely scenery, now and then catching a glimpse of
the river that wound around like a silver cord through its bed of green.
Here in the stillness they heard the chatter of squirrels and the sound
of dropping nuts, or an autumn-tinted leaf went floating on the air like
some gorgeous bird with his wings all aflame. Golden-rod and great
clumps of purple Michaelmas daisies starred the roadside, with frequent
clusters of scarlet sumach, pendent bitter-sweet berries with the still
glossy green leaves, and the dark tint of spruce and fir.

Kathie began to realize how her heart and intellect had expanded. She
was no longer a little girl. How she had grown within and without was a
great mystery, as well as how her soul had enriched itself with drawing
near to others, and going forth again with the sweet, half-comprehending
sympathies of girlhood.

"I have been a dull companion," Mr. Meredith said, at length. "But,
Kathie, I shall never forget the happy days I have spent at Cedarwood.
To have known you is one of the bright events in my life."

They were coming up the avenue, and saw Uncle Robert standing on the
broad porch. She might never have another opportunity to speak, and he
had been so peculiarly serious this afternoon.

"O Mr. Meredith, you won't forget--when you are out there--that there is
another service, and another Captain--"

"Pray for me, Kathie, that I may be one of His faithful soldiers to my
life's end."

She ran up stairs afterward, and the two gentlemen had a long talk in
the library. After supper Mr. Meredith said good by, as he expected to
leave the Darrells' to take the early morning train.

"I do believe everybody is going to war!" exclaimed Rob, rather
ruefully. "I wonder if we shall ever have such good times again."

Rob spent the next forenoon in packing.

"How all these things are to be gotten into one trunk I cannot imagine!"
he exclaimed, in despair.

"I fancy that you had better put the clothes in first, and leave the
'things,' as you call them, until the last," said Aunt Ruth, with a
quiet smile.

"But I shall want them all, I'm sure."

"Not your whole tool-chest!"

"Some of the articles would come in so handy."

"To assist you in learning your lessons?" asked his mother.

"O, you know what I mean. Now, mother, you won't let Freddy meddle with
them while I am gone,--will you? He always does manage to get into
everything."

"The best way will be to put all that you can in the closet of your
play-room, and give Uncle Robert the key. Lock all your drawers as
well."

One would have fancied that Rob was going to Europe, to say the very
least. After he had tumbled the articles in and out about twenty times,
he concluded that he would go down to the stable to see about some
trifle.

So his mother soon had the trunk in order, though she quietly restored
half the "traps" to their place in the play-room, and I doubt if Rob
ever missed them.

Saturday was another very busy time with him. He had to take a farewell
glimpse of Camp Schuyler, to visit hosts of the boys, to take a last
row, a last ride, a last game of ball, and one might have imagined from
all these preparations that he was about to enter a dungeon and leave
the cheerful ways of life behind.

But Rob was beginning to have quite serious moods occasionally; and the
last Sunday at home was one of them. He did not feel nor understand the
transition state as keenly as Kathie, he was such a thorough, careless,
rollicking boy. He would play until the last gasp,--"until whiskers
began to sprout," he said,--and he would make one of the men to whom
recollections of boyish fun would always be sweet.

The sermon in the morning touched him a little, and then the talk with
Charlie Darrell. The Darrells felt very badly over the present loss of
their dear friend; and Kathie just pressed Miss Jessie's fingers, but
spoke no word.

"I do mean to _try_," Rob said, that evening, to Kathie. "It seems
almost as if I were really going to war, as well as the rest of them."

"Yes," she answered, gravely; "you will find enough fighting to
do,--foes without and within."

"I have learned some things, though,"--with a confident nod,--"and I
shall never forget about the giants. What odd times we have had, Kathie,
from first to last!"

"I wonder if you will be homesick?"

"Pshaw! No. A great boy like me! No doubt there'll be lots of fun."

"But I hope you will not get into any troubles or scrapes. O Rob! it is
real difficult to always do just what is right, when oftentimes wrong
things seem so much pleasanter."

"I wonder why it is, Kathie? It always looked rather hard to me. Why
didn't God make the wrong so that you could see it plainly?"

"If we see it, that is sufficient. Maybe if we kept looking at it
steadily it would grow larger; but you know we often turn to the
pleasant side when we should be watching the danger."

"I don't believe that I can ever be real good; but I'll never tell a
lie, nor be mean, nor shirk, nor cheat! I want to be a real splendid man
like Mr. Meredith!"

Rob would never outgrow that boyish admiration. Edward Meredith would
have felt a good deal humbled if he had known how this boy magnified
some of his easy-going ways into virtues.

They had a sweet, sad time singing in the evening. Kathie had begun to
play very nicely, with a great deal of expression and tenderness; and
to-night all the breaks, all the farewells, and the loneliness to come,
seemed to be struggling in her soul. She was glad that no one saw her
face, for now and then a tear dropped unbidden.

Rob and his mother had their last talk at bed-time. Her heart was sad
enough at the thought of the nine months' absence, for at Westbury there
were no short vacations. True, she would have the privilege of visiting
him, but such interviews must, of necessity, be brief.

He lay awake a long while, thinking and resolving. How many times he had
"tried to be good." Why couldn't he remember? What was it that helped
his mother, and Uncle Robert, and Kathie? The grace of God; but then how
was one to get this grace?

Wandering off into the fields of theology, Rob fell asleep, and never
had another thought until the breakfast-bell rang. Then, as he recalled
his perplexity, he said slowly to himself, "I don't believe religion
comes natural to boys."

The parting was sad, after all. A thousand thoughts rushed into his
mind. What if he should be homesick? Here was the roomy playhouse, with
its store of tools, books in abundance, the ponies, the lake, the
boys,--O, everything! and Rob's fast-coming breath was one great sob.

"A good soldier," Kathie whispered, as his arms were round her neck.

Uncle Robert did not return until the next day. The accounts were very
encouraging. Clifton Hall had taken Rob's fancy at once. The boys were
coming in on Monday; so there was little done beside fraternizing and
being classified and shown to their dormitories. He had written a little
scrap of a note stating that "everything was lovely."

They missed him very much. Kathie began to wonder if _her_ winter
wouldn't be lonesome. No gay Mr. Meredith to drop in upon them now and
then; no noisy, merry boys such as had haunted the grounds all summer.
She began to feel sadly disconsolate.

But she rallied presently. "I must fight as well as my soldiers," she
said to herself.

The next event was Mr. Morrison's departure. Uncle Robert took both
families over the day they "broke camp."

Mr. Morrison wrung Uncle Robert's hand warmly. "It will be all right,
whatever comes," he said. "If I had not gone for you I should have done
it for some one else, so never give yourself an anxious thought about
it. I know my little lass is in good hands."

He kissed Ethel many, many times, and she clung to him with an almost
breaking heart. Kathie's quick eyes saw a duty here.



CHAPTER IV.

LITTLE STEPS BY THE WAY.


BUT Kathie found that the regiment's marching off to Virginia had not
taken all the interest of life. They had left the woods behind, glowing
with rich autumnal coloring, the glorious blue heavens, the ripening
fruits, and the changeful scenes, that opened afresh every day.

Her afternoons were quite a delight. Uncle Robert always held himself in
readiness, and they had either a ride or a ramble. There were new
collections of ferns to make, and with these she often had an
entertaining lesson in botany.

October was very pleasant indeed. There was no frost to mention until
the middle of the month, and by that time the flowers were safely
housed. Hugh Morrison had built a conservatory against the south side of
the barn, and promised Kathie bouquets all winter.

Kathie began to look up her old friends as well, and she joined the
girls in several nutting expeditions, at which they had rare fun.

Withal she had a brief note from Ada, who wondered if she approved the
foolish step Uncle Edward had taken. Papa was positively angry about it!
And then the idea of going out as a private, even if it was in a "crack"
regiment. However, they really didn't mean to fight, and that was some
comfort. He would be at home by the first of January.

But General Grant evinced no desire to go into winter quarters, while at
the South and West there was unusual activity.

"It looks as if there might be considerable fighting before Christmas!"
declared Uncle Robert.

For the few who chose to find them there were duties enough. Brookside,
as well as other places, began to feel the effects of the war. There
were soldiers' widows and orphans, the sick and the wounded who were
sent home to make room for newer cases. Then the churches at Brookside
decided to give a grand Fair and Festival for this benevolent object, to
be held Thanksgiving week.

Kathie found her hands quite full. Still she found time to dust the
parlor every morning and take care of her own room, and often managed
to get half an hour for her music practice. To be sure, she did not
dawdle over her dressing, neither was there a waterfall wonderfully
constructed, and adorned with puffs and braids.

"I mean to keep my little girl simple in her tastes as long as I can,"
Mrs. Alston replied to the dressmaker. "Nothing can be prettier than her
hair as it is, and I do not feel justified in dressing her expensively
when there are so many children suffering with cold and hunger."

"But young girls feel so sensitive on these matters," was the reply.
"They all want to look like their companions."

"I hope there are some sensible mothers left," returned Mrs. Alston with
a smile.

Kathie was very much interested in getting contributions and making
fancy articles, though hers tended rather to the useful. And Aunt Ruth,
to her great amusement, made up a dozen stout gingham kitchen aprons
with bibs, a stack of kettle-holders, and knitted some dishcloths out of
soft cotton.

In the mean while Kathie was delighted with a letter from Mr. Meredith.
He was in the gayest spirits and related a host of comical episodes. He
had been in several skirmishes, but no regular battle, was well and
hearty, and brown as a berry already. Just at the last he said, "I have
not forgotten our pleasant ride, and the other fighting we talked
about."

Mr. Morrison was doing very well also. Kathie began to think that it was
not such a terrible thing to go to war, after all.

As for Rob, his record was pretty fair. He did confess to being a little
homesick at first. The Latin was "awful tough work," and some of the
rules "rather hard on a fellow who was new to them." But they had a
"jolly set of boys," and he liked it first-rate.

So Kathie had no need to worry about her soldiers. She said a little
prayer for them night and morning, and thought of them often. But she
was so busy and so happy that she was little inclined to look upon the
dark side.

The Fair was a decided success. It was held at Mason's Hall and opened
on Monday evening. Emma Lauriston, and a number of the larger girls,
were in attendance upon the tables. The band came up from Connor's Point
and discoursed patriotic music. The hall was large, well lighted, and
presented a very gay appearance.

But the most amusement was created by a "Dutch kitchen." Several ladies
had transformed a small ante-room into a very attractive place of
resort. There were great brown rafters overhead, from which depended
hams, flitches of bacon, strings of onions, bunches of herbs, and at the
edge were stowed away miscellaneous articles. A great eight-day clock,
chairs, and an old brass-handled dresser that might have come over in
the Mayflower, while four pretty young girls, in the quaint old costume
of their grand-mothers, waited upon the table with all grace and ease.
This was crowned with an immense dish of beans and pork, and a stout,
rosy Dutch woman was baking waffles. Altogether this was the place for
fun.

Kathie had been in and out half a dozen times. Her Fortunatus's purse
was full to repletion, and every time she passed the door she saw some
children standing there with wistful eyes. It was such a delightful
thing to make any one happy.

Sauntering round, she came to a rather oddly arranged table,--Miss
Weston's. She was the primmest and queerest of old maids,--a little
body with weak eyes and flaxen hair, who always looked at you sharply
through gold-bowed spectacles.

"O dear!" she exclaimed, "how you young things do go flyin' round! As
for me, I'm that tired I'm just ready to drop. I've been here ever sence
two o'clock and never set down a minnit. I fixed all my table myself,
and I made nigh onto all the things. Cousin Hitty, she sent me them
there child's aperns; but land! what a sight of folly it is to do all
that braidin' and nonsense! I never had no sech thing when I was little!
Been in the Dutch kitchen?"

"O yes, time and again."

"I'd like to go, I'm sure. I've been standin' stiddy on my feet sence
two o'clock. If some one would come along and take my table!"

"Couldn't I?" asked Kathie.

"O, you're so flighty! All gals are nowadays. Why, when I was no older
'n you I had seven bed-quilts pieced, and had begun to lay by sheets and
pillow-slips, and had a dozen pairs of as han'some hum-knit stockings as
you'd find in a day's walk!"

Miss Weston really did look tired. Kathie was debating whether she
should not insist, though this was an out-of-the-way corner, and rather
dull.

"Well, I guess I'll go. You won't be likely to sell anything; nothing
much sells the first night, and I hain't no nonsense and flummery. Good
useful articles, but nobody can see their virtue nowadays. It's the way
of the world!"--a little spitefully. "All the prices are marked in plain
figgers, and I won't have a thing undersold. O dear, I am a'most beat
out."

"I'll do my best," said Kathie, sweetly.

After giving about a dozen more orders Miss Weston moved slowly away,
though, truth to tell, she was more anxious to go than she appeared; and
whom should she meet just at the entrance but Mr. Denslow, who paid the
ten cents' admittance fee. Mr. Denslow, moreover, was a widower, and
Miss Weston had not quite given up the hope that the bed-quilts and the
stores of linen might some day be called into use.

Kathie took her place behind the table, and, when the moments began to
hang heavy, ventured upon a few improvements. The passers-by just gave
the place a glance, and preferred to go where there were some pretty
girls or some fun. Kathie found it exceedingly dull.

At last Mary Cox spied her out. Charlie Darrell was escorting her round.

"Why, Miss Weston," he said, softly, "where's your specs? And why isn't
your hair done up in queer little puffs?"

"What an ugly table!" exclaimed Mary. "How did you come to take it?"

"Miss Weston was so tired."

"She is in the Dutch kitchen, desperately sweet upon Mr. Denslow. It's
so seldom that she gets a beau that you needn't expect her for the next
hour. What a lovely time you will have waiting!"

Charlie would have been very well satisfied to stay and talk to Kathie,
but Mary wanted the amusement of rambling round and laughing with every
one; and though Kathie said, beseechingly, "Don't go!" Mary replied, "O,
we must!" and the child was left alone again.

Down at the end of the hall they were having a merry time. She saw grave
Emma Lauriston laughing, and Aunt Ruth was talking and smiling. Why
didn't some one think of her?

"How much fur these caliker aperns?" asked a country woman.

Kathie roused a little at the question, and took her eyes from the
entertaining circle.

"Half a dollar!"

"Half a dollar!"--in the utmost surprise. "Why, they ain't wuth it!
Ain't more 'n two yards of caliker in 'em, and I kin buy jest sich for
fifteen cents a yard."

"But the making," suggested Kathie.

"O, that was throwed in! Always is in char'table objects. Tell you what
I'll do,--give three shillin's apiece for two of 'em. It's a good
object."

Now Kathie knew that the calico could not be bought for less than
eighteen cents a yard, which would give just one cent profit; besides,
Miss Weston had charged her particularly not to undersell. "The table is
not mine," she answered; "I am keeping it for a friend."

Perhaps the woman considered there was a better chance of
bargain-making; at all events she lingered and haggled until Kathie grew
nervous, and wished Miss Weston would come.

"Well, you're dreadful dear,--that's all I've got to say"; and the
woman flounced off angrily. "It's just the way at these fairs and
things; but you can't cheat me out of my eyes, char'ty or not." Then
Kathie was left alone again.

Presently Harry Cox ran over. "We're having such fun, and Charlie sent
me for you. There's no one here, so why can't you shut up shop?"

Kathie longed to very much. She might keep an eye on the table and have
a little fun besides; but it would be deserting her post. No true
soldier would do that. "I'm obliged to you, but I think I had better
stay; Miss Weston will soon be here."

"She's an old humbug!"

The sights and sounds were so tantalizing! What _was_ Miss Weston doing
in the Dutch kitchen all this while?

At last a bit of good-fortune befell Kathie. Mr. and Mrs. Adams and Mr.
Langdon came along. Mr. Langdon had been away from Brookside for several
weeks, and had a host of questions to ask.

"But what are you doing over here? You look as if you had quarrelled
with your neighbors, and gone off in disdain."

Kathie explained that it was not her table.

"Have you sold anything?"

"Not a penny's worth!"

"Then I must patronize you a little," declared Mrs. Adams.

She found a number of useful articles, and some that she could give away
to her poor parishioners. Kathie was quite proud of the four dollars in
the small cash-box.

At last she was relieved, and gave a great breath of thankfulness.

"Is that _all_ you've taken in?" asked Miss Weston, rather sharply. "Are
you sure you've been here all the time? But you never can find any one
who will do for you as you do yourself."

"I did not have but one customer," returned Kathie, in justification;
and she felt that Mrs. Adams had made her purchases from a sense of
personal friendship.

"I might better 'a' stayed with my table," was the ungracious answer;
and that was all the thanks Kathie received for her kind deed and the
discomfort. But she solaced herself with the consciousness that a great
many good deeds meet with no reward in this world. Miss Weston must
certainly have had some pleasure, or she would not have stayed so long.

Kathie was glad to get back to her mother and Aunt Ruth. The great
source of amusement over here was the confectionery table with packages
of "gift" candy, each parcel of which contained a present, and some of
them were exceedingly comical.

"We have had such fun!" exclaimed Mary. "You don't know what you have
missed!"

But Charlie glanced up and met Kathie's eyes with a look that seemed to
understand it all; and Miss Jessie said afterward, "I think you were
very good to keep Miss Weston's table such a long while. I didn't know
but she meant to spend the whole evening in the kitchen."

At ten o'clock they began to put everything in order for closing up. The
evening had been a wonderful success, considering that it was the first.
Kathie was full of delight and excitement, and declared that she did not
feel a bit sleepy, though it was after eleven when she went to her room.

The sleepiness came the next morning. Lessons were rather dull work, and
she counted the moments eagerly until school closed. At first she had
half a mind to run over to the hall to see how matters were progressing.

"But then it will be so much gayer this evening," she thought to
herself, "and I must study my lessons a little."

She had sufficient courage to refuse all entreaties, and walked home by
herself, trying to recall several subjects on which she had not been
very perfect to-day. Mrs. Wilder was a little indulgent, for she knew
how much the Fair had engrossed their attention.

The house was very quiet, so Kathie studied and had a good long music
practice before mamma and Aunt Ruth returned. But as they were planning
at the supper-table Mrs. Alston said, "I would rather not have you go
to-night, Kathie."

"O mamma, why?"--with a touch of entreaty in her voice.

"You were up late last night, and you will want to be there again on
Wednesday evening. You certainly need a little rest between."

"But last evening was like--lost time to me, or pretty nearly. I stayed
at Miss Weston's table in that dull corner for more than an hour, while
the other girls were enjoying themselves."

"Was it really lost time?" and a half-smile crossed Mrs. Alston's face.

Kathie bethought herself. "I suppose it ought not to have been, but it
was very dull."

"Are you sorry that you did it?"

"Why, no,"--in a tone of faint surprise. "And yet she did not seem very
much obliged to me. Not that I cared so much for the thanks,"--rather
hastily.

"I was glad to see you willing to give up that much of your pleasure.
Miss Weston is peculiar, but she was very ready to help everybody all
the afternoon, and had her pins, scissors, strings, tacks, and hammer
always ready. She did a great deal of work."

"But what a pity she cannot be--"

"Well," said Uncle Robert, filling the long pause.

"A little more gracious, I believe I was going to say, or not quite so
'queer.'"

"It is unfortunate, when Miss Weston is so good-hearted in the main. But
then she always talks about the trouble she has taken, the hard work she
has done, and really dims the grace of her kind deeds."

"I came very near doing it myself," admitted Kathie, quite soberly.

"I do not believe Kathie desired any extra indulgence to-night because
she gave up hers last evening," exclaimed Uncle Robert, with that
namelessly appreciative light in his eyes.

"O no, do not think that of me, mamma, only I should like to go
to-night. All the girls are to be there."

"Three nights' dissipation in succession is rather too much for a little
girl, unless there was an urgent necessity. You will enjoy Wednesday
evening all the better for having had a rest."

Kathie entreated no further, but it was a great disappointment, the more
so because it had come so unexpectedly. And it seemed to her that she
felt rested and bright enough to keep awake until midnight. She had
studied all her lessons too.

However, she kissed her mother cheerfully. Aunt Ruth was tired, and did
not mean to go either.

"You might put me to bed," exclaimed Freddy, lingering in the
sitting-room.

Kathie somehow could not feel generous all at once. The idea of nursing
her disappointment awhile looked rather tempting.

"Why, I never do it now," she answered.

"No, you don't,"--considerably aggrieved. "Nor ever tell me stories,
either! And it's so lonesome since Rob went to school."

Kathie had a faint consciousness that _not_ to think of herself would be
the best thing she could do.

"And you never told me about the Fair, either!"

"Well, run up to bed, and I will come presently," she said, in her
bright, pleasant way.

Freddy kissed Aunt Ruth and went off in high feather. It was quite like
old times to sit beside him and talk, and Kathie was not a little amused
by his questions, some of which were very wise for a little head, and
others utterly absurd. Then came some very slow, wandering sentences,
and Kathie knew then that dusky-robed Sleep was hovering about the
wondering brain until it could wonder no more.

"Good night,"--with a soft kiss.

Aunt Ruth was lying on the lounge, so she ran down to the drawing-room
and had half an hour's study over some "accidentals," that had tried her
patience sorely in the afternoon. Delightful and all as music was, how
much hard labor and persistence it required!

But by and by she could play the troublesome part with her eyes shut,
counting the time to every note.

"Mr. Lawrence cannot find any fault with that!" she commented inwardly.

So she went back to Aunt Ruth in a very sweet humor, and, drawing an
ottoman to the side of the lounge, sat down with Aunt Ruth's arm around
her neck.

The room looked so lovely in its soft light. The shadowy flowers and
baskets of trailing vines in the great bay-window, the dusky pictures on
the wall, and the crimson tint given by the furniture. It was so sweet
and restful that Kathie felt like having a good talk, so she drew a long
breath by way of inspiration.

"Aunt Ruth," she said, in a little perplexity, "why is it that a person
is not always willing to try to do right first of all? One wishes to and
does not in the same breath."

"I suppose that is the result of our imperfect natures; but it is good
to have the desire even."

"Yet when one means to try--is trying--will it never come easy?"

"Do you not find it easier than you did two years ago?"

"But I am older, and have more judgment."

"And a stronger will on the wrong side as well as on the right, beside
many more temptations."

"You conquer some of them, though."

"Yet with every new state of life others spring up. Life is a continual
warfare."

"And you never get perfect!"

"Never in this life."

"It is discouraging,--isn't it, Aunt Ruth?"

"Is it discouraging to eat when you are hungry?"

"Why, no!"--with a little laugh.

"It seems to me the conditions of spiritual life are not so very unlike
the conditions of physical life. It is step by step in both. The food
and the grace are sufficient for the day, but they will not last
to-morrow, or for a month to come."

"Yet the grace was to be sufficient always," Kathie said, with some
hesitation.

"And have you proved it otherwise?" The voice was very sweet, and Aunt
Ruth's tone almost insensibly lured to confidence.

"But what troubles me is--that little things--" and Kathie's voice
seemed to get tangled up with emotion, "should be such a trial
sometimes. Now I can understand how any great sacrifice may call for a
great effort; but after we have been used to doing these little things
over and over again--"

"One becomes rather tired of making the effort; and it is just here
where so many people who mean to be good go astray. They leave the small
matters to take care of themselves, and aspire to something greater; so,
without being really aware of it, they are impatient, selfish,
thoughtless for others, and fall into many careless ways. Would one
really grand action make amends for all?"

"No, it would not," Kathie answered, reflectively.

"So we have to keep a watch every moment, be fed every day and hour, or
we shall hunger."

Kathie sighed a little. Why had it not been as easy to be good and
pleasant to-night as some other times when mamma did not think a coveted
indulgence necessary? Yet her perplexity appeared so trivial that she
hardly had the courage to confess it even to this kind listener.

"You took the right step to-night, Kathie," said Aunt Ruth, presently.
"I was glad to see you do it. Brooding over any real or fancied burden
never lightens it. And though it seems a rather sharp remedy in the
midst of one's pain to think of or help some other person, it works the
speediest cure."

She saw that. So little a thing as entertaining Freddy had soothed her
own disappointment.

"But I ought not--" and Kathie's voice trembled.

"Stoicism is not the highest courage, little one. And God doesn't take
away our natural feelings when he forgives sin. There is a good deal of
sifting and winnowing left for us to do. And I believe God is better
pleased with us when we have seen the danger, and struggled against it,
than if it had not touched us at all. The rustle of the leaves seems to
give promise of fruit."

"I think I see," Kathie answered, slowly. "There is some marching as
well as all battle."

"Yes"; and Aunt Ruth kissed the tremulous scarlet lips.

Kathie was so soundly asleep that she did not hear mamma and Uncle
Robert come home. But she was bright and winsome as a bird the next
morning.



CHAPTER V.

ONE OF THE SMALL DEEDS.


KATHIE'S lessons, even to her music, were perfect the next day. Indeed,
Mr. Lawrence quite complimented her.

Mrs. Alston said, "Kathie, if you would like to come over after school
and relieve me a little while, I should be very glad."

So Kathie went straight from school There was quite a crowd already.
Whole families had come in from the country, farmers with their wives
and little ones.

"What taste you do see displayed!" Lottie remarked, sauntering to
Kathie's vicinity. "Look at that woman's shawl with a yellow centre.
Isn't it hideously ugly? And that purple bonnet with red flowers! Why
didn't she put blue, by way of contrast?"

The wearer of the purple bonnet glanced at the two girls with a flushed
and rather indignant face,--a hard-featured countrywoman, neither young
nor pretty.

"O don't," whispered Kathie. "She heard you."

"As if I cared! Any person who outrages taste in that manner is a fit
subject for criticism. How horridly that gored skirt hangs! Home-made to
the last thread. If I couldn't have a dressmaker I would not have any
new dresses."

Kathie was feeling quite distressed. She disliked to have Lottie to
stand here and make remarks on every one who passed by.

"How do you make them 'ere things?" inquired a coarse but fresh young
voice at her side.

Lottie tittered, and put her handkerchief to her face.

"What?" asked Kathie, in great confusion.

"These 'ere," pointing to some very pretty moss and lichen brackets.

"The moss is fastened to a piece of wood just the right shape,--like
this"; and she turned the bracket round.

"Pasted on?"

"You could use paste or glue,--anything that adheres quickly."

"Adheres?"--with a kind of wondering stare.

"Sticks!" exclaimed Lottie, in a peculiar tone.

"I wasn't talking to you," said the girl, rather gruffly.

Lottie tossed her head with a world of scorn, and moved a little lower
down to speak to some stylish friends that she saw coming.

"Thinks she's dre'dful fine!" continued the girl. "You find them things
in the woods. I have lots of 'em, but I never thought o' puttin' them up
anywheres. I've some a good deal bigger 'n any you have here."

She was referring to the lichens now.

"They must be very fine," said Kathie.

"Some of 'em are pinky, and all streaked, in rows like this. Don't you
s'pose I could put 'em up? And I know Jim'd make me some fine things to
stick the moss on. He's powerful handy with tools. Means to be a
carpenter."

She was a nice, wholesome-looking girl of fifteen or thereabout. Kathie
wished that she dared to correct her words and sentences a little.

"You might make your parlor or your own room look very pretty with some
of these adornments," she remarked, with quiet interest.

"The youngsters would soon smash 'em up in my room," she said, with
rough good-nature; "but ma'am will let me fix up the parlor, I know. And
if you'd only tell me--" The girl wriggled around with painful
hesitation.

"Well?" Kathie went on, encouragingly.

"About them 'ere frames that look like straw."

"They are straw."

"There, I was sure of it! Ain't they han'some! Do you know how to make
'em?"

"Yes."

"S'pose you wouldn't like to tell me?"--bashfully.

"Why, yes," answered Kathie, smiling. "First, you find some nice, long
pieces of straw that are smooth and round, and, holding them together
this way,--four or five or six, as wide as you want your frame,--sew
them backwards and forwards with a fine needle and cotton. When you have
made your four pieces cross them so, and fasten them through on the
pictures at the corner. Then you tie a little bow over the sewing."

"Well, now, it isn't hard, after all! I mean to make some. What's the
price of that?"

"Fifty cents."

"I mean to have one of 'em. I'll hunt up mother and come back." With
that the girl dashed into the crowd.

"Profitable customer!" sneered Lottie.

Just then there was a rush to the table, and Kathie was kept very busy
for ten minutes or so, while Lottie went over to Mrs. Wilder's table and
began to "take off" Kathie's young woman, as she called her. It sounded
very funny to the group of girls, exaggerated a little by Lottie's love
of a good story.

Half an hour afterwards, when Kathie had almost forgotten, the girl came
dragging her mother rather unwillingly up to the table.

"Here she is! I've made her come, though she said fust she wouldn't. But
you was so real sweet to me that I couldn't give it up."

Kathie recognized the identical purple bonnet and dull red roses, and
she flushed a little at the woman's sharp scrutiny.

"You ain't the one that laughed awhile ago," she said, the features
relaxing a little. "City gals may think themselves a heap finer than
country folk, but I can see bad manners as quick as the next one."

"I was very sorry for it," exclaimed Kathie, in a low tone.

"Then my gal wouldn't give me any peace till I come back"--apparently
much mollified. "Now, Sary Ann, where's the picter you want?"

"O, they're all so _bew_-tiful!" exclaimed the girl. "And I know I can
make the frames after I go home. Look at this 'ere cross and this basket
of flowers, and these roses! O dear!"--in despair.

"She's so fond o' flowers,--is Sary Ann. She's had the beautifullest
garden this summer that you ever see. Well, Sary Ann? I'd take the
basket of flowers."

"But the cross!" exclaimed the girl, longingly.

They looked them over while Kathie went to wait upon another customer.

"I've concluded to get 'em both for her," announced the woman. "Sary
Ann's a real good girl, and a powerful sight o' help to me. There's six
younger 'n she, and Jim older; but boys can't do much about a house."

Kathie did up the pictures with a little sensation of triumph.

"O mother, look what a pretty baby's cap! Wouldn't it be sweet for
Lily, and you promised to buy her one the fust time you went to town."

"She would have the baby called Lily," said the woman, as if in apology.
"What's the price of this?"

"Two dollars and a half."

"O, that's too dear."

"We have cheaper ones."

"But this is such a beauty," said Sary Ann.

"I crocheted it myself," Kathie returned, quietly.

"O mother, I'd like to have something she's done her own very self! Did
you make the frames?"

"No, my aunt did those, but I know how,"--with a sweet smile.

After a good deal of talking they concluded to take the cap; then Sary
Ann wanted a pretty white apron for the "patron" of it, she declared.

"Nonsense!" said her mother.

But Sary Ann carried the day, and afterward she found something else.

Altogether the bill amounted to seven dollars and sixty-four cents. Not
so bad, after all. The woman paid it without a bit of grumbling.

"It's a good cause," she said. "I often think of the poor fellows out
there," nodding her head; "and sence the Lord gives 'em strength and
courage to go, we ought to do something besides prayin' for 'em. My old
man he put up a lot of turkeys an' chickens, an' apples and onions, an'
sez he, 'Though we ain't any children out there, we've neighbors and
friends, and every chap among the lot deserves a Thanksgiving dinner.'"

Kathie forgot all about the red and purple, thinking of the red, white,
and blue, and of the tender place in this woman's heart.

"I want to give you a little picture to frame," she said to "Sary Ann";
"it will help you to remember me, as well as the cause."

It was a pretty colored photograph of two children,--"The
Reconciliation."

The girl was so delighted that the quick tears sprang to her eyes.
"There's no fear of my forgetting you," she declared, warmly. "I've had
a splendid time!"

Kathie opened her portmonnaie and dropped the quarter in the drawer. Her
mother had taught her to be scrupulously honest about such matters, and
she wanted the gift to be altogether hers.

It was getting quite dusky now. Uncle Robert had brought Mrs. Alston
over in the pony-carriage, and was to take Kathie back, "to smooth her
ruffled plumes," the child said; for the knot of girls around Emma
Lauriston had been discussing what they would wear.

"There'll be a great jam here to-night," said one. "Everybody will turn
out, and I want to look as pretty as possible."

Kathie had begun to have some rather troublesome thoughts on the subject
of dress. The larger girls at school talked considerably of the
fashions. She realized her own position much better than she had a year
ago, and knew that a certain style was expected of her. She hated to be
considered mean or shabby, or, worst of all, deficient in taste; yet how
much of it was right? Need it occupy all one's time and one's desires?

She felt very strongly inclined to make herself "gorgeous" to-night, as
Rob would have phrased it; yet the only ornament she indulged in was a
little cluster of flowers at her throat.

A jam it was, sure enough. Everybody had to look half a dozen ways at
once. The hum of the laughing and talking almost drowned the music. By
nine o'clock some of the tables began to wear a rather forlorn aspect,
and two or three "shut up shop," having been entirely sold out.

Miss Weston's luck appeared less brilliant than that of many others.

"I wish you could take some one there who would buy ever so many
things," Kathie said to Uncle Robert; "I am afraid she is feeling a good
deal discouraged."

He smiled at the thoughtfulness, but made no immediate reply. Only
Kathie noticed his standing there a considerable length of time.

When he came back to her he said, softly, "Kathie, will you not come and
keep her table for a little while? I want to take her to the supper-room
for some refreshments."

Kathie gave him a rather beseeching look.

"I'll be sure and not let her spend more than fifteen minutes. After
that we will have a gay promenade."

Was it selfish not to want to stay here? Yet Kathie put on her most
attractive smiles and actually sold several articles while Miss Weston
was gone.

Then, hunting up Emma Lauriston, they set out on a tour, Uncle Robert
said. They went to the Dutch kitchen, where Miss Jessie was one of the
"young ladies" to-night; and very pretty she looked, though Uncle Robert
insisted that she could not talk a word of Dutch. They had cream
afterward, candy, nuts, and fruit, until it appeared to Kathie that she
had eaten enough to last a week.

There had been a discussion at first about continuing the Fair on
Thanksgiving day, but, as the articles were so nearly sold out, it was
decided to have an auction. That made great fun indeed. By eleven
o'clock the tables were emptied, and the refreshments reduced to a
rather fragmentary state. The crowd, too, began to thin out.

Such a hunting for baskets and hampers and boxes of every description,
such a hurrying and scurrying and confusion of voices, was seldom
witnessed in quiet Brookside. In the crowd Kathie ran over Lottie.

"O dear!" the latter exclaimed, fretfully, "aren't you half tired to
death, Kathie Alston? I've ruined my dress too,--this lovely blue silk!
I am sure I don't know what ma will say. Some one trod on it, as I was
sitting down, and tore off the trimming, and that clumsy Harry Cox
spilled lemonade on me. Children ought not to be allowed in such places,
especially boys who do not know how to behave!" and she uttered this
with a great deal of emphasis. "And I've lost one of my new kid gloves.
They were such a lovely shade. There is nothing in Brookside like them!

"She ought to have known better than to dress in such state, as if she
was going to a party," whispered Emma Lauriston. "I am cream and pie and
cake-crumbs, and goodness only knows what, and devoutly thankful that I
shall not have to go to school to-morrow. But it _has_ been a success.
Mrs. Wilder made one hundred and forty dollars at her table,--our
table," with a laugh.

"And mamma has made nearly two hundred."

"I long to hear the aggregate."

"It will not be less than two thousand," exclaimed Uncle Robert, trying
to open a path for the girls.

Kathie was very tired when she reached home, and with a good-night kiss
ran off to her own room, where she fell asleep with a strange jumble of
ideas in her head.

Two thousand three hundred and twenty dollars for the widows and orphans
when all expenses were paid. Everybody felt very well satisfied, and,
after a good Thanksgiving dinner, affairs at Brookside rolled on as
calmly as before.

Except, perhaps, that there were more anxious hearts. General Sherman
was sweeping on to the sea, and brave Sheridan was carrying
consternation to the heart of the enemy by his daring raids. Grant was
drawing nearer and nearer to Richmond, but there would be some pretty
hard work at the last, every one thought.

Some days afterward Kathie finished a letter to Mr. Meredith, giving him
a glowing account of their labors at home.

"If he could come back to keep Christmas with us!" Kathie said,
longingly. "And dear Rob--and O, the hundreds more who are away from
pleasant firesides!"

Uncle Robert decided to pay Rob a Christmas visit, and they concluded to
pack a small box to send. He was so fond of "goodies" that Kathie tried
her hand at some of the Fair recipes and had excellent success. A few
new articles were needed for every-day use, but these comprised only a
very small share.

"He will have quite a feast," Kathie said, delightedly. "And there is
not much fear of Rob being like Harry in the story."

Uncle Robert would be back by Christmas. They had planned to have a tree
again, but Kathie declared that she could not think of a single thing
she needed. She was quite busy with various other little matters,
however, that required strict seclusion in her own room.

How different it was from last year! She and Aunt Ruth talked it
over,--the waiting, the disappointment, and the sacrifice that after all
had ended so happily.

"It seemed as if everything must have happened then, and that there
would be nothing left for this year," she said.

Uncle Robert brought most satisfactory accounts from his nephew. Rob was
well, contented and happy, and growing tall in an astonishing manner. He
sent oceans of love and thanks to everybody, and wished that he could
come home and see them.

"And here is a letter for you," said Kathie, taking it from the rack on
his desk. "It is from Mr. Meredith. See if he is not going to surprise
us. The ninety days will soon be ended."

Uncle Robert sat before the grate fire, sunning himself in the cheerful
glow, but Kathie remarked that his face grew very grave.

"What is it?" she asked, anxiously. "He is not sick, or--"

"He is well. You may read this."

He folded down a little slip at the top and handed the letter to the
child, who read:--

"Tell Kathie that I have seen General Mackenzie, her hero of last
winter, and that he was delighted to have some tidings of her. And that
during the last fortnight my ideas and sphere of duty seem to have
enlarged. I think she will approve of my decision,--my brave little
Captain who stood by her colors so nobly last winter, and preferred to
minister to her suffering aunt rather than share the most tempting
pleasures. So I shall give up my own comfort and idleness awhile longer,
and stand by the dear country that needs every man in this last great
struggle."

"Oh!" with a tender little cry. "He is not coming home!"

"No. He has resolved to stay and see the war through," was the grave
reply.

Kathie looked into the glowing fire. It was very brave and noble in him
for he did _not_ like military life under the auspices in which he was
seeing it.

"There is a little more," Uncle Robert said.

The "little more" brought the tears to her eyes. She stooped and laid
her head on Uncle Robert's shoulder, nestling her face in the corner by
his curly beard.

"He thinks--it will be--all right with him," she whispered, tremulously,
a little sob quivering in her voice.

"Living or dying," returned Uncle Robert, solemnly. "My darling, I am
very grateful for your share in the work. It seems to me that Mr.
Meredith is capable of something really grand if he can once be roused
to a sense of the responsibility and preciousness of life. There is so
much for every one to do."

"But it doesn't seem as if I did anything."

"No act is without some result, my dear child, when we think that it
must all bear fruit, and that we shall see the result in the other
country, whether it be brambles or leaves or fruit; and we cannot bear
fruit except we abide in the Master."

It seemed to Kathie, child as she was, that she had a blessed glimpse of
the light and the work, the interest and sympathy, the prayers and
earnest endeavor, which were to go side by side with the Master's. A
warm, vivifying glow sped through every pulse. Was this the love of
God,--the grace which was promised to well-doing? She hardly dared
believe, it was so solemnly sweet and comforting,--too good for her, she
almost thought.

"You see, little one, that _He_ puts work for us everywhere, that his
love and presence is beside it always. We may wait a long while for the
result, yet it is sure. And we need not be sparing of our seed; the
heavenly storehouse is forever open to us. He is always more ready to
give than we to receive."

"O Uncle Robert! I am so glad for--for Mr. Meredith. It seems as if I
couldn't take it all in at once!" and both of Kathie's arms were around
his neck, her soft, rosy cheek, wet with tears, pressed against his.

"It is something to think of for all time, my darling."

"Uncle Robert," she said, after a long, thoughtful pause, in which she
appeared to have glimpses of the life stretching out before her, and
leading to the gate of the other country, "I used to wish that I could
have--religion--myself, like mamma and Aunt Ruth--"

"My little Kathie, the 'kingdom of heaven' is within you. We have only
to do _His_ will, and we shall know of the doctrine. That is the grand
secret of it all."



CHAPTER VI.

GIVING AND RECEIVING.


KATHIE had begged, instead of having anything grand herself, that she
might be allowed to play Santa Claus. To be sure, there were gifts to
the Morrisons, to Lucy and Annie Gardiner, and several of her olden
schoolmates, but that was not quite it.

"I mean the highways and byways," she said to her mother; "some of the
poor people who really have no Christmas."

They made out quite a list,--three or four widows with little children,
some old women, and several homes in which there was sickness. Aunt Ruth
fashioned some garments,--Kathie buying the material out of her
Fortunatus's purse; two or three good warm shawls had been provided, and
different packages of provisions, some positive luxuries. They stood in
a great pile at the lower end of the hall, all ready for distribution.

"If you were not too tired--" Kathie said, after supper.

"I am not utterly worn out," and Uncle Robert smiled a little. "What is
it?"

"I wish you and I could go out with the gifts, instead of Mr. Morrison."

"Why not, to be sure?" reading the wistful glance in the soft eyes.

"It would be so delightful. And as we are not to have our Christmas
until to-morrow--"

"Bundle up then, for it is pretty sharp out. I will go and order the
horses."

It was so easy to ride around and dispense benefits that Kathie almost
wondered if there was any real merit in it.

"My little girl," Uncle Robert said, "you must not begin to think that
there can be no religion without sacrifice. God gives us all things
richly to enjoy, and it would be ungrateful if we did not accept the
good, the joy."

All things. As they hurried softly on, the roads being covered with a
light fall of snow, she drank in the beauty around her,--a glimmer of
silvery moonlight flooding the open spaces, the shadowy thickets of
evergreens, whose crisp clustering spines were stirred dreamily with the
slow wind, making a dim and heavenly music, as if even now it might lead
kings and shepherds to the place where the Christ Child had been born,
the myriad of stars overhead in that blue, spacious vault, and the
heaven above it all. And thinking of the distant plains of Judæa brought
her to the plains nearer home,--the broad fields of Virginia dotted with
its camps and tents, and bristling with forts. Thousands of men were
there, keeping Christmas eve, and among them Mr. Meredith. How many
beside him saw the star and came to worship the Saviour!

She felt the living Presence in the awe of this hush and beauty. Her
child's soul was hovering on the point of girlhood, to open into
something rare and precious, perhaps, having greater opportunities than
many others. She was not so fearful or doubting as she had been an hour
ago, for it seemed to her now that she had only to go forward.

They paused first at a little tumble-down cottage. There were seven
people housed in it,--the old folks, Mrs. Maybin, whose husband had gone
to the war, and four children. Mrs. Maybin went out washing and
house-cleaning. Jane, the eldest daughter, thirteen, worked in the
paper-mill.

Uncle Robert looked at the label by moonlight. "I'll just put it down on
the door-step and knock," he said. "You hold the ponies."

The knock made Kathie's own heart beat. Uncle Robert ran back to the
carriage, which stood in the shade of a great black-walnut tree.

Kathie leaned over. Jane Maybin came to the door, lamp in hand, and
looked around wonderingly. Then, spying the great bundle, she cried,
loudly, "O mother, come here, quick!"

The ponies wore no bells to-night, so they drove off noiselessly, a
peculiar smile illuminating Kathie's face. If the Maybins thought their
good fortune rained down from heaven, so much the better. The child was
always a little shy of her good deeds, a rare and exquisite humility
being one of her virtues. And though any little act of ingratitude
touched her to the quick, she never went about seeking praise.

A dozen homes made glad by unexpected gifts, and three times that number
of hearts. In several instances they had difficult work to escape
detection, but that added to the fun and interest of it, Kathie
declared; and she came home in a bright, beautiful glow, her cheeks
glowing with a winter-rose tint, and her pretty mouth smiling in a more
regal scarlet than the holly berries nodding their wise little heads
above picture-frames.

Aunt Ruth kissed her quietly. It seemed as if she understood the steps
in the new life which the child was taking, and knew by experience that
silent ways were sometimes the most pleasant.

Of all Kathie's Christmas remembrances--and even Dr. Markham sent her a
beautiful gift--there was one so unexpected and so touching that it
brought the tears to her eyes. She was running through the hall just
before church-time, when the door-bell rang; the Alstons did not
consider it necessary that Hannah should always be summoned from her
duties to attend the call, so Kathie opened the door.

A stout, country-looking lad, just merging into awkward young-manhood,
with a great shock of curly, chestnut-colored hair, and a very wide
mouth, stood with a parcel in his hand.

"I want to see Miss Kathie Alston," he said, blushing as red as a
peony.

"I am the person," she answered, simply.

He stared in surprise, opening his mouth until there seemed nothing but
two rows of white, strong teeth.

"Miss--Kathie--Alston?" in a kind of astonished deliberation.

"Yes."

"I was to give this to you. She," nodding to some imaginary person,
"told me to be sure to put it into your hands for fear. She thought
you'd like it."

"Who is _she_?" and Kathie could not forbear smiling.

"She writ a letter so's you'd know. That's all she said, only to ask if
you were well; but you look jest like--a picter."

The compliment was so honest and so involuntary that Kathie bowed, her
bright face flushing.

He ran down the steps and sprang into a common country sleigh, driving
off in a great hurry.

There was a letter attached to the parcel. She tore off the wrapping of
the package first, however, and found that it had been done up with
great care. Inside of all, the largest and most beautiful lichen she
had ever seen,--a perfect bracket in itself. The rings of coloring were
exquisite. The soft woody browns, the bright sienna, the silvery drab
and pink, like the inside of a sea-shell. The vegetation was so rank
that it resembled the pile of velvet.

Like a flash a consciousness came over her, and although she heard Aunt
Ruth's voice, she could not resist the desire to look at her letter.

A coarse, irregular hand, with several erasures and blotted words, but
the name at the bottom--Sarah Ann Strong--made it all plain. The Sary
Ann of the Soldiers' Fair. Kathie's heart gave a great bound.

"Come!" exclaimed Uncle Robert; "are you ready?"

There was no time for explanations. She laid the letter and parcel in
her drawer in the great bookcase, thrust her ungloved hands into her
muff, and ran out to Aunt Ruth, who stood on the step, waiting to be
assisted into the carriage.

"Was it some more Christmas?" asked Uncle Robert, "or is it a secret?"

"It is no secret, but a very odd circumstance, and has quite a story
connected with it. I think I will wait until we get home," she
continued, slowly, remembering how short the distance was to church, and
that a break in the narrative would spoil it.

But she had very hard work to keep her mind from wandering during the
service, she wondered so what Sarah had to say, and how she came to
remember the simple talk about the brackets. And was Sarah having a
bright Christmas?

Afterward she told her small audience, beginning with the unlucky
remarks about the purple bonnet. Uncle Robert admired the lichen very
much, and Aunt Ruth declared that she had never seen its equal.

Then came Sarah's letter. What pains and trouble and copying it had cost
the poor girl Kathie would never know.

"To Miss Kathie Alston," it began. "I take my pen in hand to let you
know that"--here were two or three words crossed out--"I want to send
you a cristmas present. I haint forgot about the fair, and how good you
was to me, I made some straw frames and they're real hansum, and I put
the picture you give me in one and it hangs up in the parlor, and I've
got some brackets, but Jim found this splendid one, and I want to send
it to you for cristmas, for I don't think you have forgotten all about
me. I've been going to school a little this winter again, for Martha is
big enough to help mother and i only stay home to wash. I always
remember how beautiful you talked and my teacher says its grammar which
I'm studying, but I cant make head nor tail of it, but he told me never
to say this ere, and I don't any more, but I never could be such a lady
as you are. I spose you've got beautiful long curls yet. I do love curls
so and my hair's straight as a stick. Mother says i must tell you if you
ever come to Middleville to stop and see us, we live on the back road,
Jotham Strong, and we'll all be glad to see you. I hope you'll like the
bracket, and I wish you merry cristmas a thousand times. Jim went to
town one day and found out who you was--he seen you the night of the
fair too. Excuse all mistakes. I aint had much chance for schooling, but
I'm going to try now. I spose you are a lady and very rich, and don't
have to do housework, but you're real sweet and not stuck up, and so
you'll forgive the boldness of my writing this poor letter.

                                "Yours respectfully,
                                           "SARAH ANN STRONG."

Kathie had been leaning her arm on Uncle Robert's knee as she read
aloud.

"Not such a bad letter," he said. "I have known some quite stylish
ladies 'who didn't have to do housework' to make worse mistakes than
this girl, who evidently has had very little chance. And then country
people do not always understand the advantages of education."

"I wanted to ask her that evening not to say 'this 'ere,' or 'that 'ere'
so much, but I was afraid of wounding her feelings. I thought there was
something nice about her, and her mother was very generous in buying.
But to think that she should have remembered me all this while--"

"'A cup of cold water,'" repeated Aunt Ruth, softly.

"It was such a very little thing."

"One of the steps."

Yes. It was the little things, the steps, that filled the long, long
path. A warm glow suffused Kathie's face. She was thinking far back,--an
age ago it appeared, yet it was only two years,--that her mother had
said the fairies were not all dead. If Puck and Peas-blossom and Cobweb
and Titania no longer danced in cool, green hollows, to the music of
lily bells, there were Faith and Love and Earnest Endeavor, and many
another, to run to and fro with sweet messages and pleasant deeds.

"I am very glad and thankful that you were polite and entertaining,"
Uncle Robert remarked, presently. "We never know what a kind word or a
little pains, rightly taken, may do. It is the grand secret of a useful
life,--sowing the seed."

"I must answer her letter, and express my thanks. But O, isn't it funny
that she thinks me such a great lady!"

"Suppose we should drive out to see her on some Saturday? Where is
Middleville?"

"North of here," returned Aunt Ruth, "in a little sort of hollow between
the mountains, about seven or eight miles, I should think."

"How delightful it would be!" exclaimed Kathie.

"We will try it some day. I am very fond of plain, social country
people, whose manners may be unpolished, but whose lives are earnest and
honest nevertheless. We cannot all be moss-roses, with a fine enclosing
grace," said Uncle Robert.

Kathie read her letter over again to herself, feeling quite sure that
Sarah had made some improvement since the evening of the Fair.

"Do you want to put the lichen up in your room?" asked Uncle Robert.

"Not particularly,--why?"

"It is such a rare and beautiful specimen that I feel inclined to
confiscate it for the library."

"I will give it up with pleasure," answered Kathie, readily, "since it
remains mine all the same."

The Alstons had a quiet Christmas dinner by themselves. Uncle Robert
gave the last touches to the tree, and just at dusk the small people who
had been invited began to flock thither. Kathie had not asked any of her
new friends or the older girls. She possessed by nature that simple
tact, so essential to fine and true womanhood, of observing the
distinctions of society without appearing to notice the different
position of individuals.

Ethel Morrison came with the rest. She was beginning to feel quite at
home in the great house, and yielded to Kathie's peculiar influence,
which was becoming a kind of fascination, a power that might have proved
a dangerous gift but for her exceeding truth and simplicity.

The tree was very brilliant and beautiful. If the gifts were not so
expensive, they appeared to be just what every one wanted. Kathie was
delighted with the compliment to her discernment.

Charlie Darrell made his appearance quite late in the evening, with Dick
Grayson. The tapers were just burning their last.

"Farewell to thee, O Christmas tree!" sang Dick. "Was Santa Claus good
to you, Miss Kathie?"

"Very generous indeed."

"But O, didn't you miss Rob?"

Kathie had to tell them about Uncle Robert's visit. "And then, you know,
I wasn't home last year"--in answer to their question.

"True. There was a gay time here at Cedarwood. When Rob sets out, he is
about as funny as any boy I know. Don't you suppose he is just aching to
be at home?"

"I expect to get off next year," said Dick, "to Yale. But I shall be
dreadfully homesick at first."

"So should I," responded Charlie; "but Rob is such a jolly,
happy-go-lucky fellow."

"Has he been in any scrapes yet, Miss Kathie?"

"Not that I have heard," said Kathie, laughing.

A group around the piano were clamoring for Kathie to play. She had
promised them some carols.

Dick and Charlie joined. A happy time they had, singing everything they
knew. Kathie had become a very fair musician already.

While the little ones were hunting up their wraps, Kathie lingered a
moment beside Charlie.

"How is Miss Jessie to-night?" she asked.

"Quite well." Then, looking into her eyes, "You have heard--"

"About Mr. Meredith? yes."

"It is too bad,--isn't it? And he has had a substitute in the war. I
think he ought to have come back."

Kathie was silent. How much duty did a man or a woman owe to these great
life questions? And was there not something grander and finer in this
last act of heroism than many people were capable of? If she could have
chosen for him, like Charlie, she would have desired his return; but if
every wife and every mother felt so about their soldiers?

She kissed Ethel with a peculiar sympathy when she bade her good night.
Mr. Morrison was well and satisfied with the new life,--liked it,
indeed.

For the next fortnight it seemed to Kathie that nothing
happened,--school life and home life, and she a little pendulum
vibrating between the two, waiting for some hour to strike.

She answered Sarah's letter, and promised that she and her uncle would
drive up when there came a pleasant Saturday with the roads in
comfortable order.

There had been quite an accession to the school on the first of January.
Mrs. Wilder had twenty-one pupils now. Mr. Lawrence came in to give them
lessons in music, French, and penmanship. Kathie felt quite small, there
were so many young ladies.

Several new families had moved into Brookside the preceding summer, and
the Alstons' acquaintance had slowly widened among the better class.
Kathie remembered how grand she had once considered Miss Jessie, and now
she was really beyond that herself.

At twelve the girls had fifteen minutes' intermission. Sometimes they
took a little run through the long covered walk, but oftener gathered
around the stove or visited at one another's desks. There was always a
vein of school-girlish gossip on dress, or amusements, or parties, or
perhaps the books they were reading. This generally took in the circle
just above Kathie, yet she used occasionally to listen, and it always
brought a thought of Ada to her mind.

She sat puzzling over some French verbs one rainy day, while Emma
brought out her cathedral that she was doing in India-ink. The talk from
the group before them floated to their hearing. It was styles and
trimming, velvet and laces that were "real," and gloves with two
buttons.

Emma glanced up with an odd smile. Kathie, seeing it, smiled too.

"Let us take a turn in the walk," Emma said.

She was so much taller that she put her arm around Kathie with an odd,
elder-sisterly feeling.

"They seem never to get tired of it," she began. "I wonder if there
isn't something better to this life than the clothes one wears?"

"Yes," Kathie answered, in a slow, clear tone, though she shrank a
little from giving her opinion. She had a shy desire to escape these
small responsibilities, yet the consciousness of "bearing witness"
always brought her back.

"What is it?"

The blunt question startled her, and a faint color stole into her face.

"I watch you sometimes when I suppose you are not dreaming of it. We
have been sitting here together for three months, we were at the
Fair,--and there is something different about you from what I find in
most girls. I wonder if it is your taste or your nature."

"We are none of us alike," said Kathie, with a peculiar half-smile.

"It is not that specific difference which we all have. You appear to be
thinking of others, you never answer crossly, you often give up your own
ease and comfort, and there is a little light in your eyes as if
something out of your soul was shining through them. And all this talk
about dressing and what one is going to do by and by never touches you
at all. I suppose you could have everything you want! Lottie Thorne says
your uncle idolizes you, and--he is rich, I know."

"I have all that is necessary, and many luxuries," Kathie answered,
slowly.

"But what makes you--what keeps you in such a heaven of content? O, I
can't explain what I mean! I wonder if you have religion, Kathie
Alston."

Do her best, Kathie could not keep the tears out of her eyes. What was
there to cry about? But somehow she felt so strange and shy, and full of
tender pain.

"I think we ought all to try," she answered, with a sweet seriousness in
her voice. "Even if we cannot take but one step--"

"I wish I knew _what_ it was!"

Kathie's heart was in her throat. She only understood part of the steps
herself. How could she direct another? So they took two or three turns
in silence, then the bell rang.

"There! I had so much to say, and maybe I shall never feel in the mood
again. About dress, too. Some of it troubles me sadly."

She stooped suddenly and kissed Kathie on the forehead, gave her hand a
sudden, earnest pressure, and then was her olden grave self.

And Kathie wondered a little if she had not shirked a duty! It seemed
now as if it would be very easy to say, "I have enlisted in that greater
army of the Lord, and will do what service I can." Why had it been so
hard a moment ago? Had she been challenged at the outpost and found
without a countersign?



CHAPTER VII.

A VISIT.


"DO you think we could go to Middleville to-day?" Kathie asked, one
bright Saturday morning.

It was a sharp, keen winter's day, but the roads had been worn tolerably
smooth with the sleighing, and it was by far too cold for alternate
freezing and thawing; but the sky was of a clear, steely blue, and the
sun as brilliant as a midwinter's sun could be.

"If you did not mind the cold. What is your opinion, Dora?"--turning to
Mrs. Alston.

"I suppose you could stand it if you were wrapped up good and warm."

"Would you take the buggy?" asked Aunt Ruth.

"O yes!" answered Kathie, eagerly; "I cannot bear to be shut up in a
close prison, as if I was being taken off somewhere for my misdeeds."

"It will be a good deal colder."

Uncle Robert laughed as he met Kathie's mirthful eyes.

"I shall not freeze, auntie. I like the sensation of this strong, fresh
wind blowing square into my face; it takes the cobwebs out of my
brains."

So the ponies had orders, and pricked up their ears as if they were
rather interested in trying the bracing wind as well.

Kathie bundled herself up quite to mamma's liking. She slipped a little
parcel under the seat,--two books that she had read time and again, and
which she fancied might interest Sarah, and a few other little matters,
the giving of which depended upon circumstances.

They said good by, and were off. "Up in the mountains" was always spoken
of rather sneeringly by the Brookside community. They really were not
mountains, but a succession of rough, rocky hills, where the vegetation
was neither lovely nor abundant. Several different species of cedar,
scrubby oaks, and stunted hemlocks, were the principal variety, with a
matted growth of underbrush; and as there were many finer "woods" around
Brookside, these were seldom haunted by pleasure-lovers or
wonder-seekers.

The dwellers therein were of the oldest-fashioned kind. You could
always tell them when they came to shop at Brookside by their queer
bonnets and out-of-date garments, as well as by the wonderful contrast
of colors. But the small settlements enjoyed their own manner of living
and their own social pleasures as thoroughly as their more refined
neighbors.

For quite a stretch the road was level and good, then the ascent began,
the houses were wider apart, and with an air of indifference as to paint
and repairs, while fences seemed to be vainly trying to hold each other
up.

The ponies were fresh and frisky, and did not mind the tug. Kathie was
silent for the most part, her brain in a kind of floating confusion, not
at all unpleasant, but rather restful.

"Now, which is the back road, I wonder?" said Uncle Robert, slowly,
checking the horses a trifle.

Both roads were exceedingly dreary-looking, but they decided to take the
one farther north, and before they had gone a quarter of a mile they met
a team, driven by a young lad.

"Is this Middleville?" asked Uncle Robert.

"Yes."

"Which is the back road?"

"Keep straight along. You're right."

"Where does Mr. Jotham Strong live?"

"Over there in that yaller house," the boy answered, nodding his head.

The place began to take on quite a village look. There was a brown,
weather-beaten meeting-house, a small country store, and houses
scattered around at intervals. Some were quite tidy-looking, but the
most had a kind of dilapidated air.

Mr. Strong's was large and roomy on the ground-floor, as numerous
additions had been made on three sides of the building. There was a
door-yard in front, where in summer they must have an abundance of
roses, and two wide flower-beds down the path. Such signs went to
Kathie's heart at once.

Uncle Robert sprang out and knocked at the door. The hard-featured face
that Kathie remembered so well in connection with the purple bonnet
peered through the kitchen window.

The child would have laughed at the commotion inside, if she could have
seen it,--how Sary Ann dragged the floating ends of her hair into a
knot, caught up a towel and wiped her face, making it redder than
before, jerked down her sleeves, which, having neither hooks nor
buttons, hung round her wrists.

She stared as she opened the door to a strange man, but glanced past him
to the carriage.

"I have brought Miss Kathie Alston up to see you," Mr. Conover
announced, in his warm, cheerful voice, for he recognized Sarah from
Kathie's graphic description.

"O my! and I'm all in a heap; but I'm so glad!" and she ran out to the
wagon, but stopped at the gate with a sudden sensation of bashfulness,
and a wonder if she ought not to have said something more to the
gentleman.

"How do you do, Sarah?" Kathie's voice was like the softest of silver
bells pealing on the frosty air.

"O, I'm so glad! I didn't hardly believe you'd come. I looked last
Sat'day. Your letter was so nice. I'm glad you liked the lichen. Jim and
me hunted over hundreds of 'em, and found the very biggest. Do get out
and come in the house; you must be perished! Is that the uncle you wrote
about in your letter?"

"Yes." Uncle Robert had come down the path by this time. "My uncle, Mr.
Conover," Kathie said, gracefully, "and Miss Sarah Strong."

Sarah made a dash at her hair again as if she was afraid of its tumbling
down, and courtesied to Uncle Robert so in the style of a country
school-girl that he smiled inwardly. "O, coax her to get out!" she
exclaimed, appealingly. "I've got a fire all ready to light in the best
room, and I want you to see my pictures,"--with a very long emphasis on
the last syllable. "Mother 'xpects you to stay to dinner, and my
Sat'day's work is 'most done. Come in,--do."

By this time Mrs. Strong had made herself tidy and appeared at the hall
door.

"Come in," she exclaimed, cordially,--"come in. Sary Ann, show the
gentleman how to drive right down to the barn. Jim's there thrashin' and
he'll see to the hosses!"

Kathie was handed out. Sarah turned the horses to face the path to the
barn.

"Down there," she said. "Steve, come here!"

Steve, thirteen or thereabout, sheepishly obeyed, and took the rest of
his sister's order in silence.

"Don't you go," said Mrs. Strong to Mr. Conover. "There's boys enough to
the barn, and they know all about hosses. Come in an' get warm. You must
be about froze! I'm right glad to see you, child."

Kathie introduced Uncle Robert again. They were marshalled into a large,
uncarpeted kitchen, full of youngsters, with a great red-hot stove in
their midst.

"Get out of the way, childern! Sary Ann, run light the fire in the
parlor while they're gettin' warm."

"It is not worth while to take that trouble," returned Uncle Robert. "We
came up for a call, but judged it best to take the pleasantest part of
such a cold day. So do not let us interfere with your usual
arrangements."

"You ain't a goin' to stir a step until after dinner. Sary'll be awful
disapp'inted. We've plenty of everything, and you won't put us out a
bit. We've been looking for you, like, ever sence Sary Ann had her
letter. Take off your things, child! Ain't your feet half froze?"

"O no."

There was no resisting, however. Mrs. Strong talked and worked, tumbled
over the children, picked them up and set them on chairs, bidding them
keep out of the way, insisted that Kathie should sit beside the roasting
stove, and presently Sarah returned. She had brushed her hair into a
more respectable shape, and tied a most unnecessary scarlet ribbon in
it, seeing that the hair was of a sandy reddish color.

But her clean calico dress certainly did improve her. Yet as she entered
the room she was seized with a fit of awkward bashfulness.

"I believe I will go out and look at the ponies," remarked Mr. Conover.

"Mind they're put out. You're not going to stir a step till you've had
your dinner. Marthy, you peel them taters; quick now." This to a rather
pretty girl of ten, who had been writing with a pin on the steamed
window-pane.

"Come in the other room," said Sarah to Kathie.

The child followed. It was not very warm yet, but there was a great
crackling, blazing fire upon the hearth, which was a delightful picture
in itself.

Sarah stood and viewed her guest wonderingly. The long golden curls, the
clear, fine complexion, the neat-fitting dress, the small white hands,
and the dainty kid boots, were all marvels to her.

"You're very rich," she said, presently, in a peculiar manner, as if she
could almost find it in her heart to envy Kathie and grow discontented
with herself. Kathie's fine sense and tact detected it.

She stretched out her hand and took Sarah's,--a little rough, but soft
and plump. "My uncle is," she answered; "he is very good to us children.
My father died when I was a tiny little girl."

"Did he?" Sarah knelt down, and began to wind the silken curls over her
finger. "But you are so--so different. You don't have to work,--do you?"

"A little," and Kathie smiled.

"What! a lady like you? Don't you keep servants? For Jim said the place
was like a palace!"

"We keep one servant only, and a gardener. Mamma thinks it right that
every one should learn to be useful."

"But if I was rich I wouldn't do a thing! I actually wouldn't."

"I am afraid you would soon get tired of idleness."

"O, I'd have books, and read, and paint pictures, and a pianny--"

"Piano," corrected Kathie, gravely, as if she had been a teacher with
her class.

Sarah turned scarlet, then gave a little embarrassed laugh. "I never can
get the words all right. They do plague me so; but I haven't been to
school for two years. Mother wanted me home, for Martha was so little.
That's why I'd like to be a lady, and know just what was right to do and
say. I thought you was so elegant that night!"

"There are a great many 'ladies,' as you call them, much poorer than
you; and some rich people who are coarse and ignorant."

"There ain't only two or three men in Middleville any richer than
father. He owns sights of land and timber, but he thinks that if you can
read and write and cipher a little it is enough. I don't suppose I could
ever be as nice as you are, though,"--with a sadness in her tone and a
longing in her eyes.

"In what respect?" Kathie smiled encouragingly.

"Well--to talk as you do. I thought that night at the Fair that it was
just like a story-book or music. I know I'm always makin' mistakes."

"Then you must try to be careful. Does not your teacher correct you?"

"Well, I am learning a little; but it seems to be such hard work. How
did you do it?"

"I have always been sent to school, and then my mother has taken a good
deal of pains with me. It seems unfortunate that people should fall into
such careless habits of pronouncing, and oftentimes of spelling."

"Was my letter all right?" Sarah asked, with quick apprehension. "I
tried so hard, and wrote it over ever so many times."

"I let my uncle read it, and he said he had seen letters from older
women that would hardly bear comparison. There were very few mistakes in
it."

Kathie's honesty impelled her to say this, though under some
circumstances she would have uttered no comment.

"Tell me what they were. I think I could do better now."

"Do you really wish me to?"

"Yes, I do," with a good deal of rising color.

"Your pronoun I, when you speak of yourself, must always be a
capital,--never a small i, and dotted."

"But how can you tell?"

"It is a personal pronoun, and is never used in any other way. A single
I must always be a capital."

"Always! I'll be sure to remember that," Sarah answered, with great
earnestness; "and what else?"

"Christmas wasn't quite right. That begins with a capital, because it is
a proper name, and the first syllable is spelled just like Christ."

"Is it? Why, I never thought! and I've seen it so many times too. What
other mistakes were there?"

"I really cannot remember," said Kathie, laughing; and she spoke the
truth. "The lichen was so lovely, Uncle Robert put it up in the library.
Where do you find such beautiful specimens?"

"Over in the swamp, about a mile south of here. There are so many pretty
things. Do you know Indian pipe?"

"Yes!" exclaimed Kathie, with a touch of enthusiasm.

"Isn't it lovely?--just as if it was cut out of white wax. I like to go
rambling round to find all manner of odd things; but I never thought of
putting them up anywhere, or making frames. O, come see mine!"

Both girls rose, and Kathie really took her first survey of the parlor.
There was a dull-colored ingrain carpet on the floor, the flowers of
which ran all over it; a square, stiff-backed sofa, studded with brass
nails; some rush-bottomed chairs, two old family portraits, and a pair
of high brass candlesticks on the mantelpiece.

But above this Sarah had hung her two pictures, and put up the lichen
brackets.

"I couldn't make my frame as pretty as yours," she said; "and I broke
ever so many straws."

"But you succeeded very well, I think."

"And I made this. I took the picture out of a book."

It was a moss frame, very neatly manufactured, but the picture was a
rather coarsely colored fashion-plate.

"I do love pictures so! I wish I had a whole houseful! And if I could
only make 'em myself,--them, I mean," coloring, and correcting her
speech.

"I have brought you two more--O, they were left in the wagon!--and some
books."

Sarah's eyes sparkled. "Would you mind running out? The boys have some
rabbits down to the barn, and there's a great swing,--O, and loads of
nuts! Do you ever go chestnutting?"

"I have been, but there are not a great many trees around Brookside."

"Here's a shawl; just wrap yourself head and ears in it. We're going
down to the barn, mother."

They found Uncle Robert entertaining Jim and Steve, the latter of whom
sat in wide-eyed astonishment; but the entrance of the girls broke up
the conclave.

Sarah took, Kathie all round, showed her Whitefoot and Jenny, both of
whom whinnied gratefully. Then there was the beautiful little Durham
heifer that Jim was raising, hens of every variety, the rabbits, the
loft strewn with corn, nuts, and strings, and packages of seeds.

Then Kathie must swing. Steve pushed her until the dainty kid boots
touched the beam, and she experienced the sensation of standing upon her
head.

In the midst of this a shrill blast from a horn reached their ears.
Kathie started.

"That's for dinner. Father's gone to mill to-day with Mr. Ketcham, and
he won't be home."

The three younger ones took the lead, while Uncle Robert and Jim
lingered behind, discussing ways and means of making money at farming.

Such a table full of youngsters looked strange to Kathie's eyes. On the
whole they behaved very well, a little awed, perhaps, by the presence of
strangers. Sarah paused now and then to watch Kathie, whose quiet
manners were "so like a lady." She made no clatter with her knife and
fork, did not undertake to talk with her mouth full, and said "Thank
you" to everything that was handed to her.

"I never can be like that!" she thought with a despairing sigh, and yet
unconsciously her manners took tone from this unobtrusive example.

Uncle Robert and Kathie made themselves at ease with truest politeness.
Mrs. Strong talked over the Fair, and how much she enjoyed it, and told
Kathie that the children were delighted with their gifts. Then followed
some conversation on the war. The Strongs were very patriotic, to say
the least. Sarah was excused from helping to wash the dishes, so she and
Kathie went to the parlor again, and the package was opened.

A very pretty story-book, one of Kathie's favorites, and a copy of
Longfellow's Evangeline, illustrated. She had also brought two colored
photographs,--the sad-eyed Evangeline, and the "Children," companion
pictures.

"I don't know whether you like poetry or not, but it always seems to me
that it is pleasant to know the story of anything that interests you."

"I like--some verses--" Sarah returned, rather hesitatingly, "and the
book is beautiful. But--I can't say anything at all--"

The tears were so near to her voice that it rendered her almost
ungracious.

"You will enjoy them better by and by," Kathie went on, softly. "Some
day you may be able to make pretty frames for the pictures. And I
brought you a set of crochet-needles. Can you crochet?"

"Only to make a chain. I can do that with my fingers. I wish I did know
how. And if I could ever knit a cap like the baby's!"

"We will sit down here and talk, and I can show you one or two patterns
of edgings that are simple and pretty."

"How good you are!"

Sarah was no dullard, after all. Though her fingers appeared rather
clumsy at first, she soon managed to conquer the intricate loops,
turnings, and stitches.

"Why, I wouldn't have believed it!"--in great joy. "I've done a whole
scallop by myself."

Kathie laughed in answer.

"Now, if you'll only tell me something more about grammar, and putting
the right word in--the place where it belongs. You see all the big girls
at school know so much more than I do--"

Kathie understood. She explained several matters that had been great
mountains to her in the beginning.

Now and then a bright light illumined the clear hazel eye, and a pleased
smile played around the lips. "How good you are to take so much
trouble!" she exclaimed, gratefully.

By and by Mrs. Strong came in to have a little visit with their guests.
Sarah displayed the books and pictures, and the three inches of rather
soiled crocheted edging.

"Sary Ann's a curis girl," explained her mother; "she has a great notion
of larnin', and all that, but her father hasn't much faith in it. He
thinks gals and wimmen were a good deal better when they didn't know so
much; and then you begin to want--everything. There's so much dressin'
and foolin' goin' on nowadays."

"It is rather the lack of education, I should imagine. True knowledge
expands one's soul as well as one's mind," said Uncle Robert.

"Well, mebbe, if it's the right sort; but this gettin' their heads so
full of dress--"

"Which is a sign that something better should be in them," was the
pleasant response.

"And then they're ashamed of their homes, and their parents as slaved to
bring them up, and make fun of everything that isn't right according to
their thinking. I've seen it more'n once."

Kathie blushed, remembering Lottie Thome's criticism. Mrs. Strong
certainly did look prettier in this clean calico gown and white collar
than in her purple bonnet with red roses.

"Yes," he answered; "it does happen, I know. But it seems to me that any
daughter or sister who acquired with her other knowledge true views of
her duty towards God and those around her could hardly fail to be
benefited by an enlargement of her narrow sphere of thought. Our first
duty is at home, but we do not stop there."

"Few people think of duties of any kind nowadays."

"Does not God leave a little to us? We who know them ought to make them
attractive to others."

"It's so much easier to be bad; and I often wonder at it," whispered
Sarah, through Kathie's shimmering curls. "But if some one would make
all that is right and good attractive, as your uncle says--I wish I
could live with you awhile. I don't believe you ever have anything to
worry you!"

"Yes, I do," answered Kathie; "I have to try pretty hard sometimes."

Sarah studied her in surprise. "But if I were to try I never could be
half so good."

"Will you try?" Kathie uttered it with unconscious earnestness, and the
light that so often shone about her came out in her face.

But Uncle Robert, looking at his watch, declared that it was time for
them to go. Mrs. Strong was so sorry not to have "Father" see them, and
begged them to come again.

"It's been such a beautiful visit," exclaimed Sarah, with a tremble in
her voice. "I'll try to remember everything you have told me!"

Steve brought a bag of nuts to put in the wagon, and Jim shook hands
rather sadly with Uncle Robert.

"He is one of the right kind"; and with that he went back to the barn,
whistling thoughtfully.



CHAPTER VIII.

COMFORT IN NEED.


"WELL, Kathie, was the visit a success?"

They had ridden a long way before Uncle Robert asked this question. He
had been remarking the changes that passed over Kathie's face like light
drifts of summer clouds.

"I am very glad that we went."

"What perplexes you then, Kitty?"

"A good many things, Uncle Robert. Some grave questions that I cannot
understand," in a half-hesitating way.

"Can I help you?" The tone was gravely sweet.

"You always do,"--smiling. "Something Mrs. Strong said troubled me.
Sarah _is_ ambitious, she has a desire for education, and a longing for
refinement,"--with deliberation in her slow tones. "But what if--she
_should_ be ashamed of her home, after all? It is not so very
attractive,--pretty, I mean. Why, the only lovely thing in that great
parlor was the bright blazing fire."

"If Sarah takes hold of the right end of life, she will try to make her
home more pleasant for the others as well as herself."

"But, Uncle Robert, it is so hard to see when you are right in the midst
of a thing,--a sort of muddle. A person standing on the outside would be
likely to discover the best paths. And I thought--what if I should be
the means of making her discontented instead of happy."

"So you are not quite convinced that it is wisest to sow beside all
waters?"--with his peculiar smile.

"If I was certain I had the right seed."

"The seed is all alike,--love, faith, patience. Yes, I can catch your
meaning,"--as the little face grew very sober. "You do not want to rouse
her to a sense of and love for beauty to which she can never attain."

"That is it."

"I do not imagine you need begin to feel anxious immediately. Her crude
attempts at beautifying will be very good exercise for her awakening
brain, and she has so much of the practical to learn that she will be
less likely to run into vanity, at least no more than one would
naturally expect. If you choose, Kathie, you might help her in a very
good work."

"I do choose."

"When you find that you have too much on your small hands, you must pass
the heaviest over to me. Remember that I shall always stand ready. And
doing these bits of girl-work for girls will make the woman-work plainer
by and by. It is taking up the little opportunities as they come, not
waiting for a great deed to be shaped to your hand presently."

"I think I must always do little deeds. They seem so much safer to me
than the large ones."

"I heard Sarah ask if she might write to you; what did you answer?"

"I said that I should be glad to hear. And I shall want to know how she
likes her books. You do not think mamma would object?"

"O no. It is the best and wisest act that you could do for her. There
was something so sweet and grateful in her sending you the lichen that I
have a good deal of faith in her capabilities. It will be good ground in
which to sow seed. Sarah's whole life may be the better for the chance
friendship."

"But if she should become refined and--"

"That is looking to the flavor of the fruit, my dear. God means that we
shall not see it any faster than it can grow."

She smiled, satisfied.

The air was very keen indeed now. A bitterly cold night it would be. The
tender heart went out to the thousands on "tented field," and prayed for
peace, that they might return to warm, pleasant firesides.

Aunt Ruth ran down stairs as she saw them coming.

"Let Freddy take the horses," she said. "A telegram has come for you,
and it may be important."

Freddy was elated with the permission. He was indulged now and then with
short drives, but, being rather anxious to display his skill, he was
sometimes quite venturesome.

Kathie drew a long, anxious breath. As was natural, her first thought
was for Rob.

An expression serious almost to pain crossed Uncle Robert's face.

"Sad tidings for the close of our happy day," he said. "I am summoned to
Alexandria immediately. Mr. Meredith--" Then he handed the slip of paper
to Kathie.

Mr. Meredith had been severely wounded, and sent to the hospital at
Alexandria, whether fatally or not the message did not state.

"The express train goes through at six," Uncle Robert said, "and in this
case there is no time to be lost."

They all felt that when Mr. Meredith sent, the summons must be urgent
indeed. Mr. Conover had more than an hour to make the few preparations
he would require. But there were two or three letters to answer, so he
went to the library, while Mrs. Alston hurried the tea.

Kathie stood by the window in a mood of peculiar silence. Somehow,
though she had known the danger all along, with the confidence of love
she could hardly believe that any evil would betide her soldiers.
Numbers of men had served their three years without any serious mishap,
and it seemed as if God would watch over these two among the many
thousands.

"Aunt Ruth, do you suppose--"

"My darling, we can suppose nothing, only hope for the best."

"But it is so terrible to think of him--in any great peril."

So gay and laughing always, so full of vivacity with all his gentlemanly
indolence, so strong and buoyant! In fancy she saw him stretched upon a
hospital pallet, very white, like Aunt Ruth, last winter, or perhaps
having undergone some fearful operation.

And then there came to Kathie a remembrance of the last drive together,
of the few lines in the letter. It was so precious to know that, living
or dying, all was well with him. Kathie clung to that comfort with all
her fond, trembling heart. Was it God's love and grace that brought
human souls so near together and made them one great family?

"I have one request to make," exclaimed Uncle Robert, entering the room;
"if you should see any of the Darrells do not mention this circumstance,
unless they may have heard. I will telegraph home as soon as I reach the
hospital, and write at my earliest convenience. Kathie, will you run
over to the Lodge and ask Mr. Morrison to drive me to the station by
six?"

Kathie wrapped up head and ears in a blanket-shawl, and ran down the
drive. When she came back supper was ready and Uncle Robert's
portmanteau packed.

They bade him a tender good-by, and Kathie whispered a fond and precious
message.

Afterward they went to Aunt Ruth's sitting-room. Kathie felt rather
drowsy and indolent with her ride through the keen air, and took
possession of Aunt Ruth's lounge; for she was in no mood to read or sew,
or even to take up her fancy crocheting.

"Did you have a nice visit?" asked her mother, at length.

That roused Kathie. "It was very peculiar, mamma, and I enjoyed it a
good deal. I like Sarah, although she is not--"

"Not much cultivated, I suppose," said Aunt Ruth.

"Mamma, why did not we, when we were very poor, grow careless? I don't
know as I can explain just what I mean," Kathie raised her face,
perplexed and rosy.

"I think I understand. It is not the result of a few years, or even of
poverty, but the lack of culture. Often a whole village or settlement,
where there is no particular ambition for education, will fall into
careless and rough habits of action and speech. Every one does the same,
and it is hardly remarked."

"But I suppose there has always been a school at Middleville,--and it
is so near Brookside and other towns."

"Many of these old country settlers are very sensitive. They think their
way as good as any one's, and, if a few families are particularly
refined, accuse them of holding themselves in high esteem, and being
above their neighbors. It often proves difficult to overcome old habits
of pronunciation and the manners and customs to which one has always
been used. It was different in our case. Aunt Ruth and I were brought up
in a city, and had the best advantages. I was not very likely to forget
what I had learned as a girl."

It _did_ make some difference, then, whether a person was rich or poor;
and if one could not help his or her position--

"Mamma, wasn't it very hard to lose your fortune?"

"Yes, dear," Mrs. Alston answered, simply.

"But we might have been poorer still. There are all the Maybins--and the
Allens--and we had a very comfortable home."

"Yes. We owned our cottage, and had an income of just seventy dollars a
year. It was a great deal better than nothing, though many a stitch had
to be taken to provide for the rest of our needs."

Kathie remembered,--staying in the house to sew long simple seams for
mamma, doing errands, washing dishes, sweeping rooms, and wearing
dresses that were faded, shoes a little shabby, and never having more
than a few pennies to spend. How great the change was! And it did not
end with personal comforts merely. Nearly all the rich people in the
neighborhood came to visit them. Every one nodded to her as she drove
out in her pony-carriage. Yet, if she lost her fortune, would they let
her drop out of sight and out of mind? Ah, how very cruel it would be!

"It is a very delightful thing to have an abundance," Mrs. Alston went
on, as if she held the key to her daughter's thoughts. "Not that it ever
makes a person better, socially or morally, though the world, society,
generally gives the precedence to money. It affords you leisure for
cultivation; it frees you from a great many harassing cares, though it
may bring others in their stead, for no life is exempt. And it certainly
does add many new duties."

"It is right to have the cultivation, the pretty houses, the beautiful
furniture and pictures and--dresses?"

Kathie asked her question with a sort of hurried abruptness, as if a
definite answer was of the utmost importance to her, as if, indeed, she
longed for a fuller understanding of the subject.

"Yes," answered her mother, slowly. "All these things were given to us
to enjoy, to use, yet not abuse. But when we seek them selfishly, when
we think of nothing beyond our own personal needs, and of ministering to
our vanity and self-love, they do become a great snare and temptation."

"If one could tell just where the dividing line ought to be," Kathie
said, shyly.

"It is quite easily found if one searches in earnest: to think of others
rather than of one's self; to give as well as to receive, not merely
money or clothes, but sympathy, love, tender thoughts, little acts of
pleasure; to minister to the poor in spirit as well as the poor in
purse."

"And that brings me back to Sarah, mamma. Her father may be as rich
as--we are," rather hesitatingly. "At all events Mrs. Strong spent a
good deal at our table at the Fair, and never seemed to mind it a bit.
But their house has such a barren look. They have very few books or
pictures or pretty articles of any kind, yet I do believe Sarah would be
very fond of them. She has not been to school for nearly two years, so
she has had very little chance to improve. Her father is afraid that if
she should learn a great deal she will be ashamed of her home, and all
that. I do not see how she could like it very much, because there is so
little in it to please."

"Some old-fashioned people seem to be afraid of education, but I believe
it is from a lack of true appreciation of it. Whether rightly or not,
civilization has made our wants extend beyond the mere necessities of
life. We need some food for the soul as well as for the body."

"But if education should make Sarah discontented and unhappy?"

"We cannot always see what the result will be, but we are exhorted to
work, nevertheless."

"She asked me to write to her again, mamma. You do not think it will
be--" Kathie could hardly get hold of the right word to use.

"Injudicious, I suppose you mean? No, I do not. You may learn something
as well."

Kathie was glad that her mother looked upon it in that light, and yet
she smiled a little to herself, not exactly discerning her own lesson in
the matter.

"Our Saviour said, 'Freely ye have received, freely give'; and, my
little girl, it seems to me that we have received very generously. When
I was prosperous before, I am afraid that I did not think much of the
needs of those around me; but in my poverty I saw so often where a
little would have been of great assistance to me. I feel now as if God
had placed a great treasure in my hands to be accounted for to the
uttermost farthing at the last day. It will be good then to have other
lips speak for us."

Kathie understood. "Yes, it will, mamma." Then she lapsed into silence.
How all these things crowded upon one as the years went by! Fourteen
now; in three years she would be quite a young lady. Looking at it
caused her to shrink back to the cloisters of girlhood.

Afterward her heart wandered out with Uncle Robert on his lonesome
night-journey, and to the other face pictured still and white before
her. All she could do in this case was to pray.

They went to church on Sunday, and saw Miss Jessie, bright and smiling
as usual. Then she did not know! It actually startled Kathie a little.

"Where is your uncle?" Charlie asked, as they were standing together.

"He was called away upon some business," Mrs. Alston answered for
Kathie.

The telegram came on Monday. "Arrived safely," it said. "No change in
Mr. Meredith. Look for a letter to-morrow."

So they could still tell nothing about him. Kathie had grown so very
anxious that it appeared as if she could not wait. The day was a little
cloudy, and she made that an excuse for not driving out. Even her music
failed to interest. She just wanted to sit and wonder, never coming to
any definite conclusion.

The Tuesday letter was long, written at intervals, and contained the
whole story. Mr. Meredith was out with a scouting-party early in the
week before, when they were surprised by the enemy and made a desperate
resistance. But for his coolness and bravery none of them would have
escaped. Two or three were killed and several wounded,--he very
seriously indeed; and he had been sent immediately to Alexandria. The
journey had doubtless aggravated the injury. He was in a high fever
now; and though he had recognized Mr. Conover at first, he soon lapsed
into forgetfulness again. Mr. George Meredith had been on, and was
unable to remain; but Uncle Robert had decided that this was his post of
duty for the present. He had also written to Miss Jessie, he said.

"We must give him up willingly, therefore," Mrs. Alston remarked.

Yes; Kathie least of all felt inclined to grudge another the cheerful,
comforting presence.

"But it is terrible!" she said; "it did not seem to me as if Mr.
Meredith _could_ die."

"He may not. If they can succeed in keeping the fever under control
there will be hope. The wound itself is quite manageable, Uncle Robert
believes."

But by the end of the week Miss Jessie and her father had been summoned.
There was very little if any hope.

One of Ada's occasional letters reached Kathie about this time. "Isn't
it dreadful?" she wrote. "Mamma says that she can hardly forgive Uncle
Edward for going in the first place, when there really was no need, and
he was crazy to enlist afterward; and it puts everything out so! I must
tell you that mamma intended to give a grand party. The cards had been
printed, and some of the arrangements made, but when papa came home he
would not hear a word about it. I have been out quite a good deal this
winter, and have several elegant party dresses. I was to have a
beautiful new pink silk for this, but mamma wouldn't buy it when she
heard the worst news. It's _too_ bad; and if Uncle Edward should be lame
or crippled-- O, I cannot bear to think of it! If he had been an officer
there would have been a great fuss made about it. I really felt ashamed
to see just 'Edward Meredith, wounded,' as if he were John Jones, or any
common fellow! But I hope he will not die. Death is always so gloomy,
and mamma would have to wear black; so there would be an end to gayeties
all the rest of the winter."

Kathie felt rather shocked over this, it sounded so heartless. Was death
only an interruption to pleasure? As for her, she carried the thought in
her heart day and night, and began to feel what the Saviour meant when
he said, "Pray without ceasing." How easy it seemed to go to him in any
great sorrow!

"But O, isn't it lonely?" she said to her mother. "If Uncle Robert had
been compelled to go, how could we have endured it?--and Rob away
too,--dear Rob!"

That reminded her that she owed him a letter. It was such an effort
nowadays to rouse herself to any work of choice or duty. "Which is not
marching steadily onward," she thought to herself. "I can only pray for
Mr. Meredith, but I may work for others. Rouse thee, little Kathie!"



CHAPTER IX.

THORNS IN THE PATH.


IT appeared to Kathie that she had never known so long a fortnight as
the first two weeks of Uncle Robert's absence; yet everything had gone
on just the same, none of the duties were changed, only the absence and
the dreadful suspense.

Yet something else had happened, or was working itself out slowly day by
day. Among the new scholars were several quite stylish and fashionable
girls, who felt inclined to draw a line, or make some kind of a social
distinction.

Foremost among these was Isabel Hadden, a tall, showy girl, who prided
herself upon her figure and style. Her father had made a fortune as an
army contractor, and was now in Washington. He had purchased a very
pretty country residence at Brookside, and installed his family there,
though Mrs. Hadden frequently joined him for weeks at a time.

Belle had been at a second-rate boarding-school for a year before the
family had attained their present grandeur. Now a distant connection
filled the position of governess to the host of younger children; but
Belle considered herself too large to come in with "that crowd," as she
rather disdainfully termed them.

She was sent to school every morning in the carriage, and it not
infrequently came for her in the afternoon. Rather distant and haughty
at first, she had not made friends very easily. Mrs. Thorne happened to
meet Mrs. Hadden at an evening party, and it was followed by a mutual
acquaintance. Thereupon Isabel and Lottie became friends, though the
latter was somewhat younger. Lottie's mother was very ambitious for her,
and since Mr. Thorne would not consent to the expense of a
boarding-school, she sent Lottie to Mrs. Wilder, as it was so much more
genteel.

Belle became the leader of the small clique who discussed fashions
habitually. She criticised the dresses, cuffs, collars, and laces for
the edification of her youthful hearers, until Emma Lauriston said one
day, "Miss Hadden is as good as a fashion-magazine. I don't know but
she would be invaluable in a fancy goods' store."

Lottie still kept to her old habit of calling upon Kathie for assistance
when lessons were puzzling. For several days in succession she had
occupied Kathie's short intermission, and Mrs. Wilder found that she
began to depend too much upon this kindly help.

"Miss Kathie," her teacher said at length, "I have a request or a
command in my mind,--you can consider it as which ever is easiest to
obey," and Mrs. Wilder smiled.

Kathie smiled as well, in her pleasant fashion.

"I am sorry to find fault with any generous deed that school-girls do
for one another, but I think Lottie Thorne has come to depend altogether
too much upon you. It is hardly fair to occupy your few moments of
recreation when by a little closer application she could solve her own
problems and translations. This is really necessary for her own good."

"I did not like to be disobliging," Kathie answered, by way of excuse.

"Your generosity is carried almost to a fault at times. You must learn
to say 'No' occasionally."

Kathie's soft eyes were downcast. It _would_ be very hard to refuse.

"Lottie has as much time to study her lessons at home as you have, and I
am always ready to explain any difficulty. That is one of my duties
towards my pupils. I am in a measure answerable for her improvement; and
if she slips through upon the assistance of others she will be the loser
in the end. You understand what I mean?--that while I do not wish to
discourage a helpful feeling among the girls, I desire that each one
should study for herself."

"Yes," Kathie said, in a low tone.

"And, my little friend, it is necessary that one should learn to be just
as well as generous."

Kathie felt the force of the remark. Uncle Robert had explained this
occasionally to her in connection with Rob, who was rather fond of
making her extensively useful. Then she always hated to say no to
others. It was easier to sacrifice her own pleasures or desires.

To smooth the matter for her, Mrs. Wilder announced that morning that
she wished each girl's translations to be exclusively her own work, and
if there was any great difficulty she would be glad to have them apply
to her.

Kathie left the school-room the instant recess began. Lottie was still
puzzling over her algebra, and, having finished that, she took up her
imperfect French, meaning to go in search of her little helper.

Two or three girls were discussing a party.

"I helped Hattie Norman make out her list last night," said Belle
Hadden. "It is to be very select. Her mother insisted that all the
Brookside rabble should not be invited."

Hattie Norman was one of the new-comers. Lottie's heart beat a little
faster as she wondered whether she would be classed among the rabble.

"The Norman boys are elegant," pursued Belle. "They have all been to
dancing-school; and there will be two of Hattie's cousins from the
city,--five young gentlemen of one's own."

"You might tell us who the lucky ones are," pleaded a voice.

"That is _my_ secret. The invitations are to be sent out to-day. I
wouldn't miss it for anything. Mamma brought me an elegant tarlatan
overskirt the last time she came from New York. It is just a mass of
fluted ruffling. I shall wear it over my blue silk, I think; blue is so
becoming to me."

Lottie lingered, talking and listening, and before she imagined the
moments were half gone the bell on Mrs. Wilder's table rang.

"O Kathie, just stop an instant!" she cried; but the girls were hurrying
in, and somehow Kathie passed on with them. Fifteen minutes after, the
French class was summoned.

"You must write your translation over for to-morrow, Miss Thorne; and
yours, Miss Hadden, is not very perfect; a little revision would improve
it."

Much as she disdained the patient governess at home, Belle found her
very useful.

Kathie kept out of Lottie's way. It looked rather mean to her, but it
was better than an open refusal.

The trial came the next day, however. To Lottie's great delight, she was
invited to the party, and her head had been so full of it that all the
lessons suffered. She was casting about in her mind what she could have
new, or what could be altered to look like new.

"O Kathie!" she exclaimed at recess, "just help me out with these few
lines. I made so many blunders yesterday, and I was so busy last
evening."

"You remember what Mrs. Wilder said on Tuesday." Kathie's heart beat
rapidly with the effort, and she felt quite inclined to run away like a
little coward.

"What?--O, about asking _her_! but then she never tells one anything.
You might, I am sure; or if you will just let me read over your
translation."

"It would not be quite fair." Kathie's tone was rather slow and
hesitating.

"You needn't be so afraid! I should not copy," was the sharp answer.
"Just tell me this case."

One answer surely would not be a crime.

"And this line; I can't make beginning nor end of it."

"I am sorry, Lottie; but Mrs. Wilder said the girls were not to help
each other so much,--that each one was to get her own translation--"

"Well, I mean to get my own; I just asked you a question. You are very
short and hateful about it!"

"O Lottie, I do not want to disobey Mrs. Wilder! I would help you if I
could--if it was right." Kathie uttered the words hurriedly, as if after
a moment she should not have the courage to say them at all.

"You are setting up for a saint, we all know; and it is very convenient
to talk about right when one means to be cross and disobliging! I would
do anything _I_ could for a friend, I am sure."

Kathie was silent. She knew by experience that Lottie had a habit of
teasing until she accomplished her purpose.

"So you really won't do that little favor?"

"Miss Alston!" called one of the girls; and Kathie was glad to go.

Lottie dropped two or three tears of mortification and disappointment.
She had come to depend a great deal upon Kathie, and it was hard doing
without the help. "She is a hateful little thing, after all," was her
internal comment.

Belle Hadden let her look over her translation "just a moment." Lottie
had a quick eye and a good memory; but the lesson was not so perfect
that it could escape Mrs. Wilder's attention.

"Please take a little more pains, Miss Thorne," she said; "I shall have
to mark you for both days."

Coming out of school, they paused, in girl fashion, to say a few last
words. A rather rusty-looking rockaway wagon passed by, in which were
two females, one of whom was driving. The other leaned out suddenly,
with a cry of joy: "O Miss Kathie! Mother, stop,--do!"

Kathie colored a little. There was the identical purple bonnet and red
roses, and Sarah Ann had two long rooster-feathers stuck in her jockey
hat, which certainly were waving in the breeze rather ungracefully; but
the child went straight up to the wagon, thrusting aside the cowardly
shame.

"I'm so glad to see you! Do you go to school there? O my! what a lot
of--young ladies!" and Sarah blushed. "There's the one that laughed at
mother when we were at the Fair! Do you like her?"

"We are all schoolmates, you know," said Kathie, in a peculiar, but
gentle tone. "Are you well? This is quite a surprise!"

"You are a good, sensible gal," remarked Mrs. Strong, with a meaning
look, which showed Kathie that she was not so deficient in perception,
after all.

"O yes! How is your uncle? Jim thinks he's just splendid! We did have
such a nice time that day! I've commenced a long letter to you, and
I've read both books aloud. We liked the story so much! and I cried over
the Evangeline,--I couldn't help it. I'm so glad to have the picture!
Wasn't it sad?" and the ready tears came into Sarah's eyes.

"It's a real pleasure to meet you"; and Mrs. Strong's face softened to a
motherly glow. "I've come down to get a cousin whose husband was killed
in Tennessee fightin', and the poor thing's a'most begged her way back
with one little child, so I want her to come up and make a good visit
while she's gettin' over the worst. Sez I to father, 'We ain't suffered
any from the war, and gettin' good prices all the time for farmin'
truck, and it's a pity if we can't make it a little easier for them who
have.' She was such a nice young gal, and used to teach school there at
Middleville; but she's seen sights o' trouble sence. And then Sary Ann
begged to come, 'cause her father give her money to buy a new gown."

"And I coaxed mother to go to your house, but she wouldn't," said Sarah,
shyly. "I wanted to hear something about you so much! I'm so glad!"

"And so am I," returned Kathie, warmly.

Plain and unrefined as Mrs. Strong was, she had a good, generous heart.
"We must not keep Miss Kathie standin' here in the cold," she said.
"Which way you goin'?"

"Straight on to Crosby Street."

"I wish you'd jump in and ride."

"O do!" pleaded Sarah.

The girls had pretty well dispersed. Even Emma Lauriston was walking
slowly down the street. Kathie declined at first, but they urged so
strongly that finally she acceded; and, driving slowly, they had quite a
nice talk, though Mrs. Strong insisted upon taking her nearly home, as
their shopping was all done.

But the episode had not been suffered to pass unremarked.

"What an elegant turnout!" sneered Belle Hadden. "Some of Kathie
Alston's country relations, I suppose."

"No," answered Lottie, "it is some people she met at the Fair."

"What horrid taste,--and what coarse, uncouth creatures! Who _is_ Kathie
Alston, anyhow? A decided _parvenu_, to my thinking. Are they really
rich,--the Alstons?"

"No, it is Kathie's uncle, Mr. Conover. He made a fortune off in
Australia, I believe. They were poor enough before!" Lottie uttered this
rather spitefully. Kathie's refusal to assist her that noon still
rankled in her mind.

"Did they live here then?"

"O yes! in one of a row of little cottages; and Mrs. Alston had to sew
for a living."

The murder was out. Lottie had a misgiving that this was decidedly mean
and treacherous; and yet, she said to herself, it was every word true.
Why should the Alstons be ashamed of it? Only it did seem mortifying.

"This is just about what I thought. Kathie Alston hasn't a bit of style
or dignity; and how they _do_ dress her! There was some common linen
edging on that ruffle she wore to-day, and I don't believe she ever has
more than two dresses at the same time. Plebeian blood will tell. Hattie
Norman asked me about them, but I told her Kathie was only a little chit
that she wouldn't care to invite. I don't suppose they let her go to
parties, or that she knows how to dance. What is the inside of their
house like?"

"It is very beautiful."

"Tawdry and cheap, I fancy. Such people have no taste. There is a great
deal in birth. My mother was one of the Van Cortlands, of New
York,--real old blue blood; and I can always tell commoners. I wish
there could be some distinction here."

"Mrs. Alston is considered very ladylike," said Lottie, with a touch of
remorse.

"By people who are no judges, I suppose. And Mrs. Wilder treats Kathie
as if she were the greatest lady in the land! I think we ought to put
her down. Where I went to boarding-school we had two parties,--patricians
and plebeians,--and the plebeians were made to keep their places. There
ought to be just such a distinction here. The idea of being intimate
with a girl whose mother has worked for a living! Why, we shouldn't
think of recognizing our dressmaker in society!"

This sounded quite grand to foolish Lottie. That _she_ was considered
good enough to go to the Normans' to a party was a great thing. And then
Lottie remembered about some great-grandmother of hers, who had belonged
to the French nobility, and escaped during one of the revolutions.
Didn't that make her blood a little blue? If it would only make the
French exercises come easy as well!

Lottie scarcely noticed Kathie the next day. It was rainy, and the
"patricians" lingered about the stove, discussing the Norman party.
Eight or ten played blind-man's-buff in the walk, and had a gay time,
bringing the roses to their cheeks.

Two or three of them had bantered Kathie a little about her "friends,"
but she accepted it in a very good-natured way.

A day or two after, Emma Lauriston took her drawing over to the window
where it was lighter, and still lingered at the table when school
closed. Afterward they all fell into a pleasant talk.

"So you have come over to our side," exclaimed Miss Hadden.

"Your side?"--with a look of surprise.

"Yes, the patricians."

Emma Lauriston had always been called proud, and it was well known that
she was to be quite an heiress by and by, her grandmother having left
her a considerable fortune.

"I think there can be no question about my tastes or sympathies," she
said, rather haughtily. "Refinement, truth, and honor make my
nobility."

"Refinement is absolutely necessary to me," remarked Belle, with an
elegant air. "Sometimes I am teased about it, but all kinds of
coarseness and vulgarity are odious to me, whether it is in dress or
behavior. And loud voices or loud manners are equally my detestation."

Emma did not dissent. One or two thoughts of her own took up her
attention, and the rest of the talk seemed to float around her like the
waves of a distant sea.

Kathie remarked the change very quickly, for she was keenly sensitive.
That Lottie should be vexed with her she did not so much wonder at, but
why should the other girls shun her? She certainly had done nothing to
them. And it gave her a pang to see some small circle fall apart when
she joined it, each girl giving knowing glances to the others. Then,
too, she was left out of the plays and talks, and though they did
nothing absolutely rude, she seemed to understand that there was a kind
of social ostracism, and she was being pushed over to the side she did
not admire,--to the half-dozen rather coarse girls.

Belle was not slow in spreading abroad the report. The Alstons were
mushroom aristocracy. Nobody knew _how_ the uncle had made his fortune.
People did everything in Australia,--robbed, cheated, even murdered. And
Mrs. Alston had actually sewed for a living!

Yet it must be confessed that these very girls fairly envied her the
pony phaeton and the elegant house.

"Uncle Robert is coming home," said her mother, one afternoon. "We have
received a good long letter from him, and some news that will surprise
you."

Kathie's face was aglow with interest.

"You may read it all yourself. He had not time to write any more than
one letter."

Kathie sat down to her treasure.

"O mamma! And Miss Jessie is married to--Mr. Meredith! What will Ada
say? But O, will he never get well? It would be harder than ever to have
him die. How strange it seems! Dear Miss Jessie!"

The doctors had conquered the fever, but there were some serious
complications with his wound, and he was so reduced that it appeared
almost impossible for him to rally. Kathie could see that Uncle Robert
had very little hope.

"Still he is very happy and resigned," the letter said. "Since his
marriage he seems to have not a wish left ungratified. Mr. and Mrs.
George Meredith were present, and the lady was considerably surprised by
this unlooked-for termination; still, she was very gracious to Jessie.
But the best of all is his perfect peace and trust. A precious hope the
Saviour's love has been, and in his mind his whole brief religious life
seems connected with our darling little Kathie. Every day he speaks of
her. It is true that God has ordained praise out of the mouths of
babes."

The loving messages brought the tears to Kathie's eyes. And most
delightful of all was the hope of seeing dear Uncle Robert again. So for
two days satirical school shafts fell harmless.

Rob had a flying visit first of all, but the joy at Cedarwood was
delightful. Uncle Robert reached home just at dusk, and Kathie could do
nothing all the evening but watch him and talk. All the story had to be
told over again, and with it many incidents that could not be
written,--the heroic bravery, the patient endurance and sweet faith.

"Then he is not sorry that he re-enlisted?" Kathie asked, anxiously.

"No, my darling. He thinks that his country needed him, and his last act
was to procure some very valuable information. He would like to live if
it is God's will, but it will be well with him either way."

Uncle Robert held the little hand in his and gave it a fond pressure.
Kathie knew what it said, but her heart felt very humble.

The next morning she had to tell him about Sarah Strong.

"And how kind it is in Mrs. Strong to take home this poor cousin!"
Kathie said. "I liked her manner of speaking of it so much. But I
think--"

Kathie made a long pause.

"A remarkable thought it must be!" said her uncle, smiling.

Fred ran in to have his pencil sharpened, and also to announce that one
of the cunning little guinea-pigs was dead. So Kathie's school
discomfort passed out of her mind.

But it met her on the threshold again. She was rather early at school,
as Uncle Robert wished to drive about the village to do several errands.

Half a dozen girls were discussing tableaux. Kathie joined them with a
face full of interest.

"O," she exclaimed, "I do love to hear about tableaux! Are you really
going to have them?"

There was a coolness and silence in the small circle.

"It was a little matter of our own that we were discussing," said Belle
Hadden, loftily.

Kathie turned. She had been in such a happy mood that she was ready for
anything. And the two or three experiences in tableaux had left such a
delightful memory that she was fain to try it again.

She went to her seat quietly. The voices floated dimly over to her.

"It is mean not to ask her!"

"Girls, I know Mrs. Wilder will notice it, and speak of it."

"You can all do as you like, but if you want Tom, Dick, and Harry, and
everybody in them, I beg leave to be excused," said a rather sharp,
haughty voice.

"But Kathie Alston isn't--"

"I would as soon have Mary Carson, or any one of that class. They are
all alike."

Mary Carson's father had made a fortune in buying and selling iron. She
was as coarse as Sarah Strong, without her ambition or good, tender
heart.

Somehow Kathie rebelled at being placed in the same category. She took
up her book and tried to study, but her heart was swelling with a sense
of injustice. What had she done to these girls? She was not coarse, or
vulgar, or mean.

"Plebeian and patrician," some one said with a laugh, as they dispersed
at Mrs. Wilder's entrance.

Kathie heard of the plan through the course of the day. Some of the
larger girls had proposed that they should give a little entertainment
for the benefit of the wife and children of a Captain Duncan who had
been killed in one of the recent battles. Mrs. Duncan was staying at
Brookside, quite prostrated by her misfortunes.

Thirteen of the school-girls had been asked. Mrs. Coleman, Mrs. Duncan's
warmest friend, had offered her parlor and dining-room. Sue Coleman was
hand and glove with Belle Hadden.

Now and then Kathie glanced over to Mary Carson. Vulgarity was written
in every line of her broad, freckled face. Something beside
plainness,--snub nose, wiry brown hair, and the irregular teeth, which
looked as if they were never brushed,--an air of self-sufficiency, as if
she considered herself as good as the best. She was continually talking
of what they had at home, and made the most absurd blunders, which Mrs.
Wilder patiently corrected. The small satires of the other girls never
pierced the armor of her complacency. "And they think me like her!"
Kathie mused, with a sad, sore heart. "I suppose because our fortune
came so suddenly; and yet mamma always was a lady. However, I must bear
it patiently."

Uncle Robert, seeing her so grave, fancied that it was on account of Mr.
Meredith; and he was so busy that for a few days they had no
confidential talks.

It was very hard to feel so entirely alone. Even Emma Lauriston was at
home sick with a sore throat.



CHAPTER X.

UNDER FIRE.


EMMA LAURISTON was absent from school three days, and then took her
place, looking somewhat pale and languid; but several of the girls were
rather impatient to see her.

"Have you heard bad news?" she asked of Kathie. "My cousin said your
uncle had returned."

"Yes," in a grave tone, rather unlike the sunshiny Kathie.

"That was quite a romance about your friend Miss Darrell. Do they think
Mr. Meredith will--never get well?"

"They are afraid."

The little bell sounded to call them to order, and then began the usual
lessons. Kathie's were always perfect, and yet, oddly enough, it seemed
to Emma that her whole heart was not in them.

She had fallen into the habit of watching Kathie very narrowly. The
"something different from other girls" was still a puzzle to her; and
when the doctor had said, a few days ago, "You just missed having a
severe attack of diphtheria," it startled Emma a good deal. She knew
several who had died of diphtheria; and if she were to die--

Of course she wanted to live. She was young, and full of hope; and there
would be the fortune by and by,--one of those odd bequests of which she
reaped little benefit now, as it was to go on accumulating until she was
twenty-one; but then she would be able to do a great many delightful
things with it. That was not all, however. There was something very
terrible in the idea of death.

"O Miss Lauriston, we have ever so much to tell you and to talk about!"
exclaimed Sue Coleman. "We are going to have some tableaux for a
charitable object, and we want you to stand in several of them. You will
make such a lovely Sister of Charity in Consolation."

With that the ball was fairly opened. Emma was pleased and interested at
once.

"You are all to come over to my house after school. Belle Hadden has
planned everything. She is a host in herself."

Kathie had been walking up and down with two or three girls that she did
not care much about, only they had joined her, and were, perhaps, better
company than her lonely thoughts.

"You are going over to Mrs. Coleman's,--are you not?" asked Emma, in
surprise. "Don't you like tableaux?"

"Very much, but--Good by"; and Kathie made a feint of kissing her hand.

"Girls, haven't you asked Kathie Alston?" exclaimed Emma, in the first
lull, for the talk had been very energetic; "she would make up lovely in
ever so many characters."

There was a silence, and the girls glanced at each other with
determination in their faces.

"What is the matter? Has she offended you? I noticed something a little
peculiar in school to-day."

"Kathie Alston is well enough--in her place."

Emma colored. "Her place is as good as any of ours, I suppose," she made
answer, slowly.

"Well, I don't quite think it is"; and Belle took up the glove. "There
are some social distinctions--" The rest of the sentence was rather
troublesome.

"I am sure the Alstons are rich, if that is what you mean."

"That is not altogether what I mean"; yet Belle was a trifle embarrassed
at being forced to meet the issue so squarely, though every girl felt in
her secret soul that Emma was undeniably aristocratic. "If we are to
take up everybody who becomes suddenly rich, there is Mary Carson and
several others; and I've never been used to it. Mamma _is_ particular
about my associates."

"But the Alstons are educated, refined, and were always wealthy until
they met with a reverse of fortune when Mr. Alston died."

"And Mrs. Alston used to sew for the whole neighborhood, I've heard.
Fancy being compelled to meet your seamstress as an--an equal! Mrs.
Wilder ought to be more exclusive about her scholars. Mamma said so
herself. And only a few days ago some horrid country clowns stopped
right in front of the school, and she went off to take a ride in their
forlorn old wagon. Our cook is actually related to these people! Their
name is Strong,--a coarse, vulgar set, I know."

Belle talked very rapidly, and her face flushed with excitement. For
several moments Emma hesitated. The distinction appeared paltry and mean
to her. Then she really _did_ like Kathie. "Girls," she began, at
length, "I think you are unjust. I have been at Cedarwood, and met all
the family. They are refined, intelligent, have a lovely home, and
are--truly noble and Christian people." Emma uttered the last in spite
of herself.

"Well, every one can do as she likes"; and Belle gave her head a haughty
toss. "I don't think because a man digs up a nugget of gold in Australia
he is entitled to a king's position at once. There are some girls at
school that I should not associate with under _any_ circumstances."

Emma had a feeling that this was really absurd; yet most of the girls
had ranged themselves on this side, and it did require a good deal of
courage to go against the opinions of her mates and friends. Still, when
she came to think of it, Mrs. Grayson visited the Alstons, the Darrells
were their firm friends, and that rich and elegant Mr. Meredith! But
Kathie _was_ rather inclined to be hand and glove with people beneath
her.

"And Kathie Alston _does_ take up everybody," said one of the girls.
"Every few days you see her having some common thing in that
pony-phaeton of hers. She hasn't a bit of pride or good taste, and it
seems to me that is next of kin to refinement."

"Let us go on with the tableaux."

Emma listened to the arrangements in silence. This made such a beautiful
scene,--that was so brilliant, or so pathetic, and must not be left out.
And before they were aware the dusky evening dropped down about them.

"Girls," she said at length, in a soft, low voice, "I have decided that
I will not take part in the tableaux. Kathie Alston and I have been
friends, and I shall do nothing that I am quite sure to be ashamed of
afterward. You have been very kind to ask me, and I am not angry with
any of the opinions I have heard expressed, though they may not please
me. Good night."

"Let her go over to the plebeians!" said some one, with a laugh.

At home Kathie had two pleasant surprises. First, a letter from Miss
Jessie all to herself, in which they hoped, very faintly indeed, that
Mr. Meredith had taken a turn for the better. If the good news should
prove true, they meant, as soon as it would be safe, to remove to a
private house. And then she said, "My darling little Kathie, we often
feel that we would give half the world to see you."

The other was from Sarah,--a decided improvement upon her Christmas
epistle,--not a word misspelled, and the sentences very fairly
constructed. The last part was filled with Cousin Ellen and her little
boy. Sarah told the whole story in her innocence, without the least
intention of boasting. Mr. and Mrs. Strong had offered these poor
wayfarers a home until they could do better.

"It is very good of them,--isn't it?" said Kathie. "If the Strongs are
not polished, they have generous hearts."

"It certainly is most kind; and I am wonderfully pleased with the
improvement in Sarah."

"Uncle Robert, would it be rude to send Sarah a pretty blue hair-ribbon,
and tell her a little about contrasting colors? I wish she would not
wear so much scarlet. Is it wrong for everybody to look as pretty as he
or she can?"

"No, my dear; and sometimes a delicate hint proves very useful. Sarah
has entirely too much color for scarlet; she needs something to tone her
down."

Kathie had been casting about for some time how to manage this matter
nicely, and her present idea appeared both delicate and feasible to her.
Looking over her store, she found a fresh, pretty ribbon, and forgot all
about the school trouble.

The tableaux progressed rapidly. A number of the Academy boys were
invited to join. Mr. Coleman had some tickets printed, which sold
rapidly, and the affair promised to be successful.

But one evening Dick Grayson said, "Emma Lauriston would look prettier
in Consolation, and make the best Evangeline, of any girl in Brookside.
Why haven't you asked her and Kathie Alston?"

"Emma declined," was the almost abrupt answer.

"But Kathie is the sweetest little girl I ever saw. She is always ready
for everything."

There was no response. Belle Hadden had gone quite too far to admit that
_her_ line of distinction had been wrongly drawn. Lottie Thorne felt
both sorry and ashamed; but there was no going back without a rather
humiliating admission. And yet if she only had _not_ spoken that day!

But Emma and Kathie drew nearer together in a quiet way through these
troubled times. There were some petty slights to endure, and many
unkindnesses. Friends and companions can wound each other so often in a
noiseless manner,--pain and sting without the buzzing of a wasp, so
patent to all the world,--and I often think these unseen hurts are the
hardest to bear.

The evening at Mrs. Coleman's was both delightful and profitable. The
Brookside Standard contained quite a glowing account of the
entertainment, and praised the young ladies for their labor in so good a
cause. The sum received, with several donations, amounted to
eighty-seven dollars.

"Why did you not speak of it, Kathie?" asked Uncle Robert. "We would all
have gone."

Now, there had not been even a ticket offered to Kathie. Indeed, the
space being limited, Sue and Belle had made out a list of guests
beforehand.

Kathie colored violently, and Uncle Robert looked quite astonished.
Seeing that she was expected to answer, she summoned her courage.

"It was a--a party affair of the larger girls in school. They did not
ask every one."

"But we might have sent a gift, the object was so very worthy."

Kathie made no reply to that. Uncle Robert studied the grave face, and
decided that something had gone wrong.

Dick Grayson dropped in that evening. "I was so disappointed about your
not being there," he said. "You would just have fitted in two or three
of the tableaux."

But Kathie did not appear to be disposed to converse on the subject, so
they wandered off into a talk about Rob, and then Mr. Meredith claimed
their attention.

The patricians flourished in grand style. It would have been really
laughable to sensible people to see how one after another copied Belle
Hadden's airs and graces, and how the gulf widened in school. Several of
the girls asked to have their seats changed, until the plebeians were
left quite to themselves.

And yet the matter worked out a very odd and rather mortifying
retaliation. One afternoon Dick Grayson overtook Emma Lauriston walking
homeward. He had that day received a letter from her brother Fred, and
repeated some of the contents.

"Are you going to Belle Hadden's party?" he asked, presently.

"I have not had any invitation." Emma's tone was rather curt.

"No?" in the utmost surprise. "What has happened among you girls? You
and Kathie were not at the tableaux. Is there a standing quarrel?"

Dick and Emma were excellent friends in boy-and-girl fashion.

"There is something very mean and foolish. I wish somebody could look at
it with clear eyes and give Belle Hadden a lesson!"

Emma's usually soft voice was indignant, and her face crimsoned with
excitement.

"But how did Kathie Alston come to get mixed up with it. It seems to me
that she is the last one to quarrel."

"There was no quarrel, at least no words. There are some very
aristocratic girls in school, and Belle is forever talking about her
mother's family. So they have divided the girls into patricians and
plebeians."

"But Mr. Conover is a gentleman, and the Alstons are all refined. The
idea of putting Kathie on the plebeian side is absurd! And you too--"

"I went over there," she said, sharply. "I would not take part in the
tableaux on that account. Kathie had done nothing to them. It was
because her mother used to sew, I believe, and then Kathie herself is
not a bit proud. I suppose if they made a great show and parade like the
Haddens--"

"I did not think Belle was that small! And you are a splendid champion,
Emma. But Kathie is worthy of the best friendship in the world. She is
never mean or envious, or looking out for the best places, and Mr.
Conover is just royal. The idea of the Haddens setting themselves up!
Why, Mrs. Alston used to sew for my mother, and mother is one of her
warmest friends. Isn't there something very unjust about girls,--some
girls, I mean?" blushing as he corrected himself. "And why does not Mrs.
Wilder interfere, or is she on the patrician side?"

"Mrs. Wilder really doesn't know anything about it. The little hateful
acts are done on the sly, just looks and tones, or some sentence that no
one can take hold of. It would seem silly to complain of not being
noticed. But it takes away the pleasant feeling that used to exist."

"And how does Kathie bear it?"

"Like a little angel. It hurts her cruelly too. About the time this
first began, some very common-looking people spoke to Kathie in the
street, and the girls have laughed and sneered at that. Indeed, nothing
that she does escapes them. I almost wish that I wasn't a girl!"

"Boys don't badger a fellow that way, if they did there would be some
thrashing! But I know just how to come up with Belle Hadden, and I'll do
it!"

With that Dick laughed.

Emma was so much exasperated that the thought rather delighted her.

"What will you do?"

"I can't tell you until afterward. Don't I wish Rob Alston was home,
though! He would enjoy the fun."

They separated at Emma's gate. She was not altogether sure that she was
right in her desire, but she determined not to worry herself on that
score.

Belle's party was to be quite a grand affair. A number of the Academy
boys were invited, those who were rich and stylish; Belle did not come
to school the next day, and the girls were rather indiscreet without
their leader.

The rooms were beautiful, the supper elegant, the music fine, but--there
were so _few_ young gentlemen! Not Dick Grayson, nor Walter Dorrance,
nor Charlie Darrell, nor--ever so many others that had been counted upon
sure.

Emma guessed as she heard the floating talk.

"I do suppose Belle Hadden was as deeply mortified last night as she
could be," Emma said to Kathie. "If ever I have another cause that I
want righted I will place it in Dick Grayson's hand. He is equal to
Arthur's knights."

"What did he do?"

"He said he had a plan. I know now that it must have been to keep the
nicest boys away from the party. Belle likes Dick so much too. It must
have been worth seeing,--their disappointment. A host of wall-flowers
with no one to lead them out to dance!"

"You didn't ask him to do it?" Kathie's face was full of pain and
regret.

"No, not exactly. Indeed, I did not know what he meant to do, only I was
telling him about Belle Hadden's meanness, and he thought of a way to
pay her back."

"I am so sorry it was--that way."

"Kathie!"

"O Emma dear, don't think me ungrateful! You have stood by me of your
own accord, I know," and Kathie clasped her hand. "I am so much obliged
to you. They had nothing against you at first, and they were very sorry
not to have you at the tableaux. But it always troubles me to know that
other people have suffered--"

"Not when they deserve it, surely!"

"Always--if it can be helped."

"And you would not have done this? You think it was not right for me to
tell?"

What could Kathie say,--blame her brave comrade?

"No, you do not think it right. I can see that in your face! Kathie, how
_can_ you bear everything so patiently?"

"God makes it all right at last. He asks us to wait his time. And though
it is very hard--" Kathie's lip quivered and her voice grew unsteady.

"It seems to me this has been the meanest thing I ever knew. You cannot
guess what gave it the first start."

"Yes. It was while you were sick that the girls--took a dislike to me. I
spoke to some people one day, some friends," correcting herself, "and
Belle laughed at them. Then the girls talked about--mamma."

"It was shameful!"

"We _were_ poor, and we had to work. Mamma could not help all that. And
then Uncle Robert came, and we have been so very happy ever since.
Thinking of it all, I don't mind this little trouble much. All that
Belle says cannot make us coarse and vulgar and ignorant, and I have
been trying all the time to look on the best and brightest side."

Emma put her arm suddenly around Kathie.

"What is it," she asked, in a husky voice,--"what is it that makes you
sweet and patient and tender and forgiving, always ready to minister to
others and to the poor, even if you are laughed at and teased? Maybe
it's the same grace that takes away the fear of death! O, I wish I knew!
I wish I had it! I am sometimes so miserable, Kathie. Do you believe
that your God _could_ love and pity me a little?"

"'Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.'"

It was all that Kathie could think of to say as Emma stopped short in
her walk, trembling, excited, and tearful.

"But how to come?"

Kathie hesitated. It seemed that she knew so little herself, how then
could she direct another? She remembered the other time when she failed
to bear witness, and though her shy, delicate nature shrank from
anything like a parade of her most sacred feelings, strength was given
her when she asked for it.

"I do not know how it is always--" in her sweet, faltering voice, "but
when I first wanted to try--to be good,--to follow HIM even a little, it
was just as if I reached out my hand and prayed him to take it, and kept
close to him by endeavoring to do what he wishes--"

"And you did not have--any great light--"

"I had only a love and a desire to obey him. And it seemed as if
everybody helped me,--mamma, Aunt Ruth, and Uncle Robert. But there is
always something to overcome, some battle to fight."

"And I am a poor, raw recruit. Do you think He will accept me, Kathie?"

"Every one--to the uttermost."

They walked to the corner, where their paths diverged.

"I wish you would come and see me," Kathie said, with her ready grace.
"Fred was there occasionally last summer, and Uncle Robert liked him so
much!"

"And you will forgive that--revenge? Perhaps I ought to have waited."

Kathie's look was sufficient, though she could not have spoken.

But the child went home in a gravely sweet frame of mind. She was in a
mood to tell Uncle Robert the whole story that evening; but there were
several guests, so there could be no confidences.

The next morning, after school was opened, Mrs. Wilder rose and told
them she had a few words to say upon a subject that had been a source of
much disquiet for several days; and then she very kindly but wisely took
up the matter that had so divided and agitated the girls, and severely
condemned the folly of which some of them had been guilty. "They would
find as they grew older," she said, "that with people of culture and
refinement social distinctions did not depend so much on a little more
or a little less money, but nobleness of soul, thought, and
feeling,--deeds that could brave and endure the scrutiny of clear eyes,
and not those which must always slink away and hide themselves behind
whispered insinuations."

It seemed, after all, as if, in some mysterious way, Mrs. Wilder had
learned all the particulars. She mentioned no names, and did not in the
least seek to exalt Kathie; but the child knew by the kiss and the
lingering glance bestowed upon her that afternoon that all her silence
and pain had been appreciated.

If Belle needed anything further to lower her self-esteem, she had it on
her return home. Mr. Conover, Mrs. Alston, and Mrs. Grayson had met at
the house of a mutual friend when Mrs. Hadden happened to call.

"Belle," she began, sharply, "how could you have committed such a
blunder as to omit that pretty little Miss Alston from your party-list?
Her mother and her uncle are very charming people, and they have a host
of elegant friends in New York. Mrs. Havens was here last summer to
visit them, and those aristocratic Merediths are warm friends of theirs.
I am so sorry it should have happened!"

"Miss Alston is a regular little Methodist,--too good to go to parties,"
returned Belle, rather crossly.

And so ended the reign of the patricians. Belle somehow lost prestige at
school. Even Lottie began to be pleasant again with Kathie, secretly
hoping that Belle would never repeat her unlucky remark.

Dick Grayson and Charlie had to tell Kathie one evening how they spoiled
a good deal of the fun at Belle Hadden's party.

"I felt so sorry," Kathie said, gravely.

"Well, you are the queerest girl I ever saw," was Charlie's comment; yet
something inside told him she was a noble one as well.

But the sweetest of all was the talk with Uncle Robert.



CHAPTER XI.

IN ANOTHER'S STEAD.


CLOSER pressed the ranks of brave men who were to strike a final blow
for the good cause, nearer, nearer, marching on with a steady, crushing
step. The nation rejoiced over victories, but firesides, from palace to
hovel, missed and mourned some dear, familiar face, some cheerful voice
that would never speak again.

Kathie used to watch daily. The campaign was growing more exciting as it
approached the end. Her heart used to beat chokingly as she glanced down
the lists. And this was what she saw one day: "Missing, William
Morrison."

"O mamma!" with a quick cry, "did you read this?"

Mrs. Alston looked. "Oh!" she exclaimed, with sudden pain. "Uncle Robert
and Mr. Morrison have gone to the nursery to select a few more
fruit-trees. They will doubtless hear of it at the village."

"You do not think--he has been--killed!"

Kathie's face was very pale and her sweet voice faltered.

"Hardly," returned Mrs. Alston. "But one can never be quite certain what
becomes of the missing."

Kathie put on her shawl and hood presently, and walked slowly down the
winding drive. She had not sufficient courage to enter the cottage,
though through the window she saw Ethel and Jamie having a game of
romps. The child's cheeks were like roses, and now and then a careless
laugh floated out to Kathie, who shivered with something more than cold.

Presently the wagon approached slowly. When Uncle Robert caught sight of
his little niece he sprang out and greeted her warmly.

"I have some good news for you, Kitty," he said, in his bright, breezy
tone. "Mr. Meredith is really better. They hope to bring him home before
long. Why--isn't it delightful?" seeing that she made no answer.

"Yes, I am very, very thankful."

"But, Kathie--what has happened, little one?"

"Our other soldier--"

"Mr. Morrison--O child, what tidings of him?"

"There has been another battle, and he is--missing."

"The news might be worse then. There is a little hope, so do not despair
at once."

Kathie grasped his arm tighter, and they walked nearly to the house in
silence. Then he said, "Of what are you thinking, my darling?"

There were tears in her soft, violet eyes.

"Uncle Robert, what a strange and solemn thing it is to have any one die
for you,--in your stead."

"Yes. I wonder if we do not sometimes forget the One who died eighteen
hundred years ago? But this brings it home to you and me in a manner
that we shall always remember."

"And, looking at that, all our little trials and burdens seem as
nothing. I thought it quite hard to be treated so unjustly at school,
but what was it compared with giving up one's life?"

"It is something, my darling, when we bear reviling from that highest of
all motives,--His sake. Even the little steps are precious in his sight.
We are not all called upon to walk the sorrowful way he trod."

"But poor little Ethel!"

"We promised, you know, to make all the amends in our power to her."

"But it seems to me that nothing could comfort me if you were gone."

He took the cold little face in his hands, as they were standing on the
broad porch now, at the very door.

"Do you love me so well, my child? But we must not forget that those who
stay at home are sometimes called from the earthly ranks. God asks of us
that his will and pleasure shall be ours as well."

"Yes, I know "; but her voice was quite faint as he kissed her.

It was dusk, and as he opened the door the cheerful light and warmth of
the hall were most grateful. Kathie gave a shiver as if she were shaking
off the wintry cold.

"Do not anticipate the worst," he said, pleasantly. "To-morrow's news
may be different."

She smiled faintly. "I am not a very good soldier, after all," she
returned, with a little faltering in her tones.

"My darling, when our Captain calls us out to fight, he always gives us
grace and strength. But we must never look away from him; that is part
of the promise."

She hung up her hood, smoothed her hair, that had been blown about by
the wind, and went in to supper. They all talked a little about Mr.
Morrison, but it appeared to Kathie that they were wonderfully hopeful.
Indeed, the news from Mr. Meredith was so very encouraging that it
seemed to dim the force of the other.

Afterward Mr. Conover went down to the cottage. Freddy brought his
solitaire-board to Kathie.

"I've forgotten how it is done," he said, "and I want you to show me.
Let me take them out, and you just tell me when I go wrong."

It really seemed that Fred had a marvellous faculty for going wrong.
Kathie felt very much as if she did not care to be bothered. She was
restless and nervous, and wanted to curl herself up on Aunt Ruth's
lounge and think a little.

"Greater love hath no man--" the words kept running through her mind.
But the love began in little things, even the love which suffered at
last upon the cross. So she roused herself to patience and interest.

Uncle Robert looked quite grave when he returned. The Morrisons had
heard the tidings, and were very anxious.

"I must write to Mr. Morrison's captain to-morrow," he said. "We must
make every effort to find him. He may have been wounded and carried off
of the field unnoticed."

Kathie prayed fervently for Mr. Morrison's safety. Uncle Robert made
immediate inquiries, and they waited in half fear, half hope. In the
mean while events in Virginia had the stirring ring of near victories.
All was breathless excitement throughout the land. Sorties, surprises,
battles, Sherman coming up from his march to the sea, Sheridan brave and
dashing as ever, and Grant going slowly with his men, like some
ponderous machine that was to crush at last.

And then the telegraph flashed the news far and wide: "Lee has
surrendered!" "Richmond has been taken!"

It seemed so odd to Kathie to be going on in her quiet, uneventful
fashion. School lessons, music practices, home duties,--nothing grand
or heroic. Mrs. Wilder's lecture to the girls had been productive of a
little good, beside breaking the foolish cabal; for in it she had
touched upon dress and parties, and tried to set before them the urgency
of paying some attention to their studies. So there were fewer bows, a
plainer arrangement of hair, and less talk of fashion.

"I think it was mean to crowd Kathie Alston out," declared Sue Coleman.
"Mamma says the Alstons are people one might be proud of anywhere; and
they are extremely well connected. She met them one evening at Mrs.
Adams's, and that elegant Mr. Langdon thinks Mr. Conover about perfect.
Mamma is so sorry that we did not have her in the tableaux. Every one
noticed it. That was your fault, Belle!"

"Of course you are all quite at liberty to choose your own friends,"
Belle answered, loftily; "I'm sure you agreed to it. You did not want
Mary Carson and all that rabble."

"Mary and Kathie are not friends in our acceptation of the term. She is
polite to Mary, and I am not sure but that a ladylike courtesy is more
effectual in keeping people at a distance than absolute rudeness. I
believe Kathie and Emma Lauriston are the only two girls in the school
who have not indulged in rudeness in some form or other."

"If she is not hand and glove with Mary Carson, she has another friend
who is no better, whom she visits and sends pictures to, and I don't
know what all. It's a second or third cousin of our cook. Of course
these Strongs are rich; so it is not the breeding as much as the money.
But, as I said, you can all do as you like. It seems to me that half of
the town has gone crazy on the subject of Kathie Alston."

Emma was a little troubled with these talks about Sarah Strong. She had
a certain delicacy which held her aloof from any such associations.
"Kathie," she said at length, "I wish you would tell me how you came to
take a fancy to those people who were at--the Fair, I believe."

Kathie colored a little. "I don't know as you would understand it," she
answered, slowly.

"I am beginning to comprehend some things," her eyes drooping a little,
and glancing past Kathie.

"I noticed them at the Fair--because--something was said to hurt their
feelings--"

"O, I know! Lottie Thorne came over to our table and made fun of the
woman. But--do you not think--such people always take advantage of a
little notice?--and then it leads to mortifying embarrassments."

"Maybe that is just one of the things God puts in the daily warfare to
make us good soldiers. It is like being a private in the army. Sometimes
people sneer at the hard, rough work the soldiers have to do, and yet it
often helps the officers to gain the victory."

"And the officers have the credit. That looks rather unjust, doesn't
it?"

"It would seem hard if God did not remember it all."

"But how did you come to visit the Strongs?"

Kathie told the whole story. "I cannot explain these things to you just
as Uncle Robert does," she went on, with a rather perplexed smile.
"Always when I am in any doubt or trouble I go to him. He thinks when
people are anxious for mental or social improvement a helping hand does
them so much good. Persons in their own station cannot give it, as a
general thing. And the Saviour said, 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto
the least of these--'"

"Yes, I see. But it is harder to do your good in that way, Kathie."

"Digging in the trenches"; and Kathie smiled.

"Ah, you have gone out as a private in the ranks; and I am afraid, after
all, that very few of us like to be privates," Emma returned. "But it
certainly did show a good deal of delicate feeling and remembrance when
Sarah Strong sent you the lichen."

"I thought so. And our visit was very pleasant."

"Only, if she had not spoken to you that day in the street, it would
have saved you a good deal of pain and trouble," returned Emma.

"Maybe it was just what I needed. Life is so pleasant and lovely to me
that I might forget who gives it all if every once in a while something
did not bring me back to Him. And it is so good, when others
misunderstand and blame, to know that God sees all, and never makes a
mistake in his judgment."

Emma was silent. It was the keeping near to Him that rendered Kathie
meek, patient, and full of love. And it seemed to Emma as if she strayed
continually.

Was it because Kathie always had some good work in hand?

But amid all the rejoicing, and the certainty that Mr. Meredith would
recover, the other shadow seemed to be growing deeper. Three weeks, and
not a word of Mr. Morrison yet. His captain remembered the man, and
could only account for the disappearance by supposing that he had been
buried among the rebel dead. Twice since the battle they had exchanged
prisoners, and he had not been returned among the well or wounded; and
now every one was flocking to the Union lines.

"Mr. Darrell went to Washington to-day," Uncle Robert announced to
Kathie. "He is to bring Jessie and Mr. Meredith home."

"Here,--to Brookside?"

"Yes," with a smile. "He needs the quiet and the country air, and I
fancy there are two or three people here whom he is longing to see."

Kathie's heart beat with a great bound.

By and by she found herself rambling slowly toward the cottage. Hugh was
busy with some spring preparations, pruning trees and vines. He nodded
to her, but did not seem inclined to stop and talk, and Jamie caught
hold of her dress, begging her to come in.

Grandmother took off her spectacles and wiped them; she often did this
now, for her eyes grew dim many times a day.

"So you have had good news," she said, after the first greeting. "I am
glad there is a little joy saved out of the great wreck. Such a handsome
young man as Mr. Meredith was too; but there's many a bonny lad sleeping
under the sod, who was fair enough to his mother."

Kathie slipped her hand within the one so wrinkled and trembling.

"It is such a sorrow to us all," she said, in her soft, comforting tone.
"I keep thinking of it day and night. It was so noble in him to go--to
suffer--"

"It is the one thing, Miss Kathie, that gives me a little resignation. I
shall always feel thankful that he went in your dear uncle's stead, not
for the money merely. And if it has saved him--if it has kept you all
together; but this is too sad a talk for you, dear child."

The tears were dropping from Kathie's long bronze lashes.

"Dear grandmother, there has not been a morning nor night but that I
have remembered him and his generous deed. I know his life was as
precious to you as Uncle Robert's was to us, and now poor little Ethel
is an orphan--for my sake. How strange that the whole world keeps doing
for one another, and that, after all, no one really stands alone in it!"

"We are nearer than we think for--rich and poor, when one takes God's
word aright. We can't any of us do without the other unless there comes
a sense of loss and something that is not quite right. You and yours see
further into it than most folk. I'm glad to have the precious comfort of
knowing that William went safely, and that in the other country he has
met his dear wife. I shall soon go to them, and I know well that little
Ethel will never lack for friends. William felt it with great
certainty."

Another duty was laid upon Kathie. This orphan was to be more to her
than any chance friend. What could she do of her own self? Only to show
her now how truly she appreciated the sacrifice and loss, and to put a
few simple pleasures in her life, to give her tenderness and affection
that might make some slight amends.

She thought of something else that evening.

"Uncle Robert," she said, "do you believe there is any hope that Mr.
Morrison may still be alive?"

"It is very slight now," he answered. "And yet I can hardly be
reconciled to the loss amid this general rejoicing. It seems so much
harder to have him dead now that the war is over and many of the
soldiers will soon return home."

"I feel so sorry that he had to die out there alone. If some one could
have given him only a cup of cold water--"

"Perhaps they did."

"But if it had been you!" Kathie clung closely to him as if there might
be danger yet.

"It was not, my darling. God seems to hold me in the hollow of his hand,
and while he takes such care of me I feel more than ever the need of
doing his work. And now little Ethel has been added to us."

"Uncle Robert, I think I ought to take a special share in it, since God
has left me the delight of your love."

"As Ethel grows older, there will be many things that you can do."

"But I have thought of this one now. The interest on Ethel's little
fortune amounts to almost one hundred dollars."

"A little more than that. I put it in bonds."

"And if it could be saved for her,--since she will want but very little.
She will have her home with her aunt, and need only her clothes. I'd
like to buy those for her as a kind of thank-offering."

"But, my darling, in a few years more you will be a young lady, and
there will come parties, journeys, and pleasures of different kinds,
where it may be necessary for you to be dressed in something besides the
simple garments of childhood. Perhaps you will want more money
yourself!"

"I never have to give up anything needful, but I was thinking that I
should like now and then to make a real sacrifice, relinquish some
article that I wanted very much, and use it for her instead. It would
help me to remember what her father had done for me."

Uncle Robert stooped and kissed her, touched to the heart by her simple
act of self-denial.

"It shall be as you wish," he replied, tenderly. "And, my dear child, I
am glad to see you willing to take your share in the great work there
is to be done in the world."

"It is so little, after all, and so many blessings come to me."

Ah, was it not true that God restored fourfold? After many days the
bread we have cast upon the waters comes floating back to us. Well for
us then if we are not shamed by niggardly crumbs and crusts flung out
impatiently to some wayside beggar while we ourselves feasted. For God's
work and love go together, and there is always something for the willing
hand.



CHAPTER XII.

HOME AGAIN.


THE pony phaeton stood before the school-house. Jasper and Hero nodding
their heads impatiently in the April sunshine. The prettiest striped
lap-robe imaginable was thrown over the empty seat, the plating of the
harness made a silvery glitter, and altogether it was a turnout that one
might be rather proud of, if one's self-complacency was nurtured upon
such things.

And the driver thereof was not to be despised. The girls, as they
trooped down stairs, thought Kathie Alston "so lucky!" No one in
Brookside had a father or uncle or brother so devoted,--not old, by any
means, and certainly good-looking, but, best of all, showing his
affection in a manner that made her envied of others.

Sue Coleman had met him several times through the course of the winter,
and pronounced him "magnificent," in her enthusiastic fashion. Indeed,
he was the kind of man to be very attractive to young girls. She bowed
now in her most gracious manner. Belle bit her lip angrily. If she had
taken up Kathie instead of that insignificant little gossiping Lottie
Thorne! Her mother had been to call at Cedarwood, but it wasn't at all
likely that she would be invited within its charmed precincts. Of course
she said she did not care; but there was a gnawing jealousy at her
heart.

Uncle Robert was so in the habit of coming for Kathie that she sprang
in, nodded a gay farewell to the group, and went on for some distance
before she thought it anything more than a pleasure drive.

Suddenly her heart gave a quick bound. "You are going to the Darrells'?"
she said.

"Yes." Disguise it as he might, there was a glow in the half-averted
eyes.

"O, Mr. Meredith hasn't--come home!"

"Hasn't he? Are you quite sure?"--with a little smile.

"O Uncle Robert!"

"They came at twelve. I was in there half an hour, when he insisted that
I should drive over for you."

It was very flattering to be remembered first of all; and yet there was
something connected with it which made Kathie's heart beat in an
unwonted manner, and a quiver came into her throat almost as if she
wanted to cry. Six months ago!--how much had happened since then!

He fastened the horses, and entered the hall with Kathie, who seemed
strangely shy.

"They took him right up to Miss Jessie's room," said her uncle.

Thither they went, though there was a sound of joyous voices in
grandmother's room, just across the hall. The two halted a moment, then
Uncle Robert pushed the door a little wider open.

"Have you brought her?"

The dear, well-known voice, sounding a bit husky and tremulous, and with
something in it which brought the tears to Kathie's eyes. What with the
flood of sunshine, the white bed and pillows a little tumbled, and a
gray travelling-wrap thrown partly over somebody, she seemed to see
nothing but confusion at first; then a thin white hand was stretched
out.

"I am so tired that I cannot rise. Dear Kathie! Dear child!"

They were both crying then, and neither felt ashamed. Just a miracle
that he was here at all; and if he had gone to the other country, the
golden key opening the gates set with jasper and pearl must have been
Kathie's precious words.

"My dear Kathie, I've lost all the little sense I ever did have. I sent
Jessie away for fear she might indulge in a scene, and here I am crying
like a baby! But there are so many things to think of, and it is so
delightful to see familiar faces once more!"

Then Kathie took a look at him. He was very thin and pale, the hair and
beard cropped quite close, the eyes sunken, yet with the old bright glow
she had watched so many times; and, oddest of all, the once plump hands
looking, as Hannah would have said, like "chickens' claws."

"Well, should you know me?"

"Yes, but you are changed."

"And if you had seen me a month ago! The doctors have cut me open,
turned me inside out, and run up and down my body with lodestone in
search of a stray rebel ball. When they had me nearly killed, they would
leave off a little while; but as soon as they saw signs of coming to
life they went at it again. It's a kind of gymnastics that a man can't
get fat on, try his best."

"I should think not"; and Kathie couldn't help laughing.

"But it's through now. I feel like saying, with Joe Gargery, 'And now,
Pip, old chap,' (Pip, in this instance, standing for country) 'we've
done our duty by one another.' School is out, and Uncle Sam is sending
us home as fast as possible. I've nothing to do now but to be gloriously
lazy, and have every one wait upon me."

"O, I am so glad, so thankful," and Kathie pressed the thin hands in her
own, so soft and warm, "to have you back here, when we were afraid--"

"It has been a hard struggle, little Kathie. I shall never see a blue
coat again without thinking of what many a brave fellow has had to
suffer. I seem to have been feasted upon roses; but hundreds of them had
no such luck."

"And to come to peace at last,--to know there will be no more calls!"

"It certainly is good tidings of great joy. And though I couldn't be in
at the last, losing all the triumph and glory, I feel that I did a
little good work, and shall never regret the rest."

Her soft eyes answered him.

"And there is something else. I want to tell you that your precious
words bore good fruit after many days. My dear child," drawing her
closer to him until the silken curls swept his cheek, "I owe you more
than I can ever express, ever pay. It was your sweet, simple daily life,
and your unconscious heroism that first led me to think. I have heard
hundreds of sermons, and had hosts of religious friends, but nothing
ever touched me like your gentle firmness that night so long ago at my
brother's, and your rare modesty afterward, and all your straightforward
course, even when it involved pain and sacrifice. I can't exactly tell
you how the truth and the peace came to me, enabling me to do my duty to
God and man; but when I was ill and helpless, and hovering on the verge
of death, I want you to know that _His_ love was infinitely precious to
me. It took away all perplexity, all care and trouble, and gave me rest
in the dreariest of nights. And as He suffered for us, so ought we to be
willing to suffer for one another. I never realized before what a great
and grand thing life was when obedience to God crowns it first of all
And even out there it seemed as if I was always taking lessons of you,
remembering what you had said and done."

"O no, no!" she cried, with her utmost sweet humility. "I am not worthy
of so much."

"My darling friend, I think you are one of God's own messengers. Through
you I have found him, come to see him as he is, a tender, loving
Father."

She hardly dared to taste the rich ripe fruit gathered here to her hand.
It was such a sacred work to have guided another soul ever so little,
and she could scarcely believe that it had come through her.

"Are you going to keep Kathie all the afternoon?" asked a soft, pleading
voice.

Both started. For many minutes they had been silently thinking of the
little steps that reached to God, made so much more simple and easy by
the tender spirit-leading than all the learned philosophy of the world.

"O Miss Jessie!"

"Mrs. Meredith, if you please," he exclaimed with a little laugh in his
tone. "There, you have kissed enough. Come, sit down and look at me. I
am afraid you will forget about my being one of our country's noble
sons."

Jessie might have been a little thinner with all her anxiety and
watching, but she was the same dear, sweet friend, and Kathie thought
prettier than ever, with her half shy, tender grace.

"He has grown very exacting," the young wife said, with a smile.

Kathie blushed. "It seems so odd for you to--be--"

"Married," exclaimed Mr. Meredith. "Why, what else could I do? When I
was a poor, helpless log, unable to stir hand or foot, some one had to
take pity upon me. She was very good, I assure you."

"As if I had not known it long before!" and a host of old memories
rushed over Kathie.

"Isn't it odd," Mr. Meredith said, in a lower tone, taking his wife's
hand, "that it was through Kathie we came to know each other? I can just
see the picture she made in the great hall of the hotel, like a little
wild-flower blown astray by a gust of wind."

Jessie thought of something else,--how she and Charlie were sitting by
the cheerful fire one winter night, when he had expressed a desire to
make her happy in some way, because she was always studying the pleasure
of others. But for that she might never have known the Alstons so
intimately, and of course--

There she had to stop with a dainty blush.

It was very odd, Kathie decided, in her simple child's way.

"And we have to thank Kathie for a good deal of delicacy in keeping our
secret," Mr. Meredith said. "Circumstances gave it into her hands long
ago."

She smiled a little. "What did Ada say?" she asked, rather shyly.

"I have not been favored with Ada's opinion, but she and her mother are
to pay me a short visit presently. George wanted me to come immediately
to New York, but I fancied Jessie must be a trifle homesick; and, to
confess the truth, I was longing for a glimpse of Brookside. Have you
begun gardening yet, Kathie? And tell me the story of the whole winter.
I'm just famishing for gossip."

Uncle Robert proposed returning presently, but they would not listen to
his taking Kathie. Mr. Meredith begged her and Jessie to have tea up in
the room, where he could look at them. His side was still very weak, and
his journey had fatigued him too much to admit of his sitting up. "But I
shall soon be about with a crutch," he announced, gayly.

Passing the lodge cottage again that evening, Kathie gave a tender
thought to its inmates, and the childish longing for fairy power came
back to her. No wand, nothing but a Fortunatus's purse with one piece of
gold in it, and that could not do everything.

Kathie was up betimes the next morning. There were lessons to study, an
exercise to write, and a music practice to be sandwiched in somewhere,
for Mr. Lawrence was to come that afternoon. And her head was still so
full of Mr. Meredith and dear Jessie.

"It will not do," she said, presently, to herself, when she found that
she was listening to every bird, and watching the cloud of motes in the
sunshine; so with that she set to work in good earnest.

Belle Hadden was loftier than ever on this day, and seemed to hold
herself quite apart. "A new kink of grandeur," Emma Lauriston said.

Lottie Thorne always had the earliest news. Now she made sundry
mysterious confidences, prefaced with, "Would you have believed it?"

"What is that, Lottie?" asked one of the girls.

"O, haven't you heard?" the face aglow with a sense of importance. "Papa
told us last night, though I suppose it is all over. Poor Belle! Why,
it would kill me!"

"But what _is_ it?"

"About Mr. Hadden. He has been embezzling, or making false returns, or
something, and charged the government with a great deal more than he
supplied. Why, I believe it is almost a million! And he is in prison!"

"Not so bad as that," subjoined Sue Coleman, quietly.

"But he _is_ in prison."

"Yes, there is some trouble, but maybe it will not amount to much."

"I should think she would be ashamed to show her face!"

"How can _she_ help it?" said the softest and sweetest of voices. "It is
very hard to punish her or make her answerable for her father's faults."

"What should you do, Kathie Alston, if you had been intimate with her?"
It was Sue Coleman who spoke, and there was a husky strand in her voice.

"I should keep on just the same. It will be very painful for her to bear
anyhow. Suppose it was one of us!"

"You don't know what hateful things she said about your uncle ever so
long ago," pursued Lottie.

"But if they were false, her merely saying them could not make them
true, you know."

It was a bit of philosophy quite new to the girls, though each one might
have thought of it long before, and was one of the things that had been
a great comfort to Kathie many a time.

"But this _is_ true."

"It will be bitter enough to bear, then, without our adding to the
burden"; and a tremulous color flitted over Kathie's fair face, not so
much at what she had been saying as the fact that these girls were
grouped around listening for her verdict.

"I don't believe she will come to-morrow," two or three voices decided.

They never knew how hard her coming was, how she had begged and
entreated her mother to let her stay at home, and finally threatened
_not_ to go, when Mrs. Hadden had taken her in the carriage. There was
no pride in her soul as she stepped out of it, only a bitter, haughty
hatred.

"Don't act like a fool!" was her mother's parting advice. "The matter
will soon blow over."

For Mrs. Hadden felt that she should not be utterly crushed. The deed of
the house was in her name, and the furniture bills had been made out in
the same manner, consequently that much was secure. Mr. Hadden had
probably not done more than hundreds of others, and she felt confident
that he would get out of it somehow. They had plenty of money, and could
start afresh in a new place, but the people here should see that she was
able to hold her head as high as the best of them.

There was a little bouquet on Belle's desk. No one knew who put it
there. They would have suspected Kathie Alston, of course, if they had
not seen her come in empty-handed, but no one guessed it was her second
coming that morning.

The Brookside Standard copied the report, stating also that Mr. Hadden
had asked a suspension of public opinion for the present.

"Do you suppose it is really true?" inquired Kathie of Uncle Robert.

"I believe Mr. Hadden's reputation does not stand very high, at the
best. I can forgive a man who is tempted to retrieve himself by some
desperate step, when on the brink of ruin; but the men who wronged our
poor brave boys with clothing that was but half made, and food of the
poorest kind, enriching themselves while the country was at her sorest
need, do deserve punishment. Still, it would be hardly kind to begin by
meting it out to his children."

"How terrible it must be, Uncle Robert, to know that some one you held
dear was guilty of such a crime!"

"Yes, I think it would be worse than taking up poor and uncultivated
people"; and a peculiar smile crossed his face. "You will have an
opportunity to show your blue blood, Kathie. I believe I never knew a
Conover who struck a fallen foe."

"Yes," she answered, wondering if it would be foolish to tell him about
the flowers; but just then Freddy ran in, full of tribulation as usual.

Mr. Meredith improved rapidly. Kathie had to take him in her way some
time during the day, or there was a most heart-rending complaint.

"It is so delightful to have them all love him so well!" she said to
Aunt Ruth. "Charlie has a hero of his own now."

They received a long and characteristic letter from Rob, who wished he
was a bombshell and could be dropped down into Brookside. The war was
actually ended, and "Johnny was marching home," and everything had
happened about right. "Only I am awful sorry about Mr. Morrison. I can't
seem to believe but that he will come to light somewhere yet. It gave me
such a strange feeling,--thinking, for a moment, if it _had_ been Uncle
Robert. We will try all our lives to make it up to Ethel. I will never
tease her again, at any rate." Which was all the resolve in Rob's power
at present.



CHAPTER XIII.

GOOD NEWS.


IT seemed to Kathie in these days as if she had her hands very full. The
weeks were hardly long enough. Yet what could be left out? The daily
call at the Darrells', or the Morrisons', for now Ethel looked to see
her every day, and used to confide to her the sums that bothered, the
thoughts that puzzled, and the many things which come to trouble little
girls; and if sometimes Kathie considered them tiresome or foolish, she
remembered how patient dear Aunt Ruth used to be with her in the old
times,--and now she had Uncle Robert saved to her by Ethel's loss.

No, neither of those could be given up, nor the school-lessons, nor the
music, nor even Sarah, who _was_ improving.

The blue ribbon had delighted her exceedingly. Kathie said, very gently
indeed,--that is, prefacing and ending it with something pleasant,--"I
think it will be much prettier for your hair than any other color." That
started Sarah upon a new tack.

"I wish you would tell me something about colors," she begged in her
next letter. "I always remember how lovely you looked that night at the
Fair, and some of the ladies too. I can't be pretty, I know, but I'd
like to look nice, so that people wouldn't laugh at me. Now that I have
begun, there are so many things that I want to know. Cousin Ellen helps
me a good deal, and she is such a rest to mother. She has the
pleasantest way of managing the children, and does such a deal of
sewing. Father said I might raise all the chickens I wanted to this
summer, and I think I'll buy a nice rocking-chair for the parlor. O, I
have crocheted two beautiful tidies, and one of them is about as good as
sold for two dollars and a half. If it isn't too much trouble, I would
like to send the money to you, and let you buy me some books. You know
what is pretty and interesting. And if you would only tell me what would
be nice for summer dresses and a hat."

The ice being once broken, discussions upon dress followed quite
frequently. When Kathie was in any doubt she referred the subject to
Aunt Ruth. It was plain that Sarah was emerging from her crude and
barbaric state, yet she showed no disposition thus far to drift over
into the frothy waves of vanity. With her other knowledge seemed to come
shrewd, practical self-knowledge.

Jim too had been made the happy recipient of some useful books. He
seemed to have a great taste for wood-working,--"conjuring," his father
said,--and talked a little of going to the city to learn a trade, but
Mr. Strong had no fancy for giving him up now, when he was such a help.

"The farm is plenty large enough for two," Mr. Strong said, "and there's
no life so independent."

But Mr. Conover felt that it ought to be rendered interesting as well.
So he asked Jim to come down to Cedarwood and take a look around, which
delighted the youth greatly, and gave him some new ideas.

The rumors concerning Belle Hadden's father proved too true. It was an
aggravated case, and each day brought new circumstances to light. It was
useless to think of holding their position in Brookside. Acquaintances
began to make ceremonious calls, or bow coldly. A few of the girls in
school openly rejoiced.

"Thank the Lord my father never stole nor cheated," said Mary Carson.
"I'd rather be a plebeian than a thief."

The mortification was too much. Belle begged and prayed that she might
be allowed to leave Brookside, and finally a visit to an aunt was
determined upon. She was a queen to the last moment, though, and said
her good-bys to the few with a haughty grace.

"Thus endeth the reign of the patricians," commented Emma Lauriston.

There was a grave, perplexed light in Sue Coleman's eyes.

"Belle was real fascinating," she said; "but I wonder that we--that some
of us hadn't more sense last winter. We all went to persecuting and
ruling out Kathie Alston, who bore it all like a saint. Belle had
courage and pride, but there was something nobler in Kathie." Yet Sue
knit her brows in silent perplexity.

"But there is another view of it that puzzles me, after all," she said,
breaking her long silence. "Where _do_ people make a distinction? Now
suppose Kathie Alston invited this _protégée_ of hers to her house, and
you or I should drop in--it would look ill-bred to take Kathie away from
her guest, and yet it is not likely her talk would interest us much.
Then as Kathie grows larger--well, it is all of a muddle in my brain. I
dare say these Strongs are good, honest, respectable people, and--there
is no use in smoothing it over--Mr. Hadden was dreadfully dishonest. All
their grandeur and fine clothes belong by right to some one else. And
yet they are allowed to go into the best society. Is it _quite_ right?"

"Not the _very_ best, perhaps," returned Emma, slowly. "A good many
people do insist upon worth, virtue, honesty, and all that."

"And then, as Kathie said, Belle was not to blame for her father's
sins."

"It seems to me now that Belle's mistake was in trying to decide who
should be greatest, and pushing down all who did not exactly suit her.
She had no right to be the judge."

"Who of us has? And here is another question. You remember Mrs. Duncan?
She went to the city about a fortnight ago, and had a business offer.
First, I must tell you that she was very elegantly brought up, but her
father died, and somehow the fortune melted into thin air. She went to
visit an aunt, and met Mr. Duncan, who was cashier in a bank. They have
always lived very nicely,--stylishly, Belle would say,--but now they
have nothing, and Mrs. Duncan has no friends who can take care of
her. She has forgotten a good deal of her French and her other
accomplishments, and teachers' situations are hard to get. Well, a Mrs.
Marsh in the city has offered Mrs. Duncan eight hundred dollars a year
to take a position in her millinery establishment. She has a marvellous
faculty for trimming,--equal to any French woman. And why wouldn't she
be just as good and just as much of a lady if she did take it? Will it
make her coarse and vulgar?"

"No," answered Emma, decisively.

"Yet I dare say the Hadden children would not be allowed to associate
with the Duncan girls. I cannot seem to get at the wrong, nor where it
comes in."

"I believe, after all, Kathie Alston has the secret,--the little leaven
which leavens the whole lump."

"Only some of us object to being leavened"; and Sue finished with a
laugh.

But though Kathie had not heard the talk, there was a secret uneasiness
in her soul as well. Sarah Strong was begging her to come up to
Middleville again, and Uncle Robert believed the relaxation would do her
good.

"Mamma," she said, thoughtfully, "there are one or two puzzles that I
cannot make quite clear to my own mind."

"What is the matter now? Any new gift for Sarah?"

"Not a gift exactly, but--a great pleasure. When I was with them in the
wagon that day, and they were both so cordial and warm-hearted, it
appeared rude, or at least impolite, not to ask them to call here. Mrs.
Strong said, 'Sarah wouldn't look well among your grand people'; but
there was such a sad, wistful look in Sarah's eyes, as if somehow she
felt that she was shut out."

"And you would like to have her come?" returned Mrs. Alston, with a
smile.

"I was thinking how happy it would make her, mamma. I don't believe she
ever saw so many pretty things together in her life,--and she is so fond
of them."

"And what puzzles you?"

"Whether it would be quite--I don't mean that I am too proud," catching
herself with a quick breath, while a scarlet flush quivered from brow to
chin.

"Whether it would be proper,--is that what you mean?" asked her mother.

"Yes"; and Kathie began to twist the fringe of the nearest tidy.

"Miss Jessie asked you to her house, you know. We lived very plainly
then, and you had to wear a cheap delaine for best dress all winter."

"Then you think I may?" she exclaimed, joyously, while her soft eyes
brightened.

"It all depends upon the manner of the asking. I think she might come
some Saturday when you were alone and have a very pleasant visit. It is
not likely she would enjoy meeting several of the girls here."

"O mamma, I should ask no one!"

"Not because we should be so ashamed of Sarah, but on account of her
feelings. It is best for little girls to exercise tact, as well as
grown-up people; and sometimes it proves awkward work trying to make
different kinds or sets harmonize. By observing a few simple rules, and
studying the comfort of both parties, you may be able to give all
greater happiness."

"Then, when I go up, I shall invite Sarah in so cordial a manner that
her mother will see that I mean every word."

"Yes; for the unkindest invitation of all is to ask people purely out of
compliment."

The smooth brow was slightly shadowed again. "Mamma," she said, in a low
tone, "can people--grown-up ladies, I mean--get along without saying or
doing things that they really do not mean to have taken in earnest?"

"They had better not say them. A Christian woman will be truthful first
of all; but it is not necessary to make candor a cloak for the
indulgence of unkind or heartless remarks. Religion, it seems to me,
holds the essence of true politeness,--to do unto others as you would
have them do unto you."

The next day Kathie was quite late in getting home, having stopped at
the Darrells'. Uncle Robert and mamma were up in Aunt Ruth's room.

"What will you give me for a letter with a grand seal as if it came from
the very Commander-in-Chief or the President? Look! To 'Miss Kathie
Alston.' What correspondent have you in Washington, we would all like to
know?"

Uncle Robert held the letter above her head. A bold, peculiar
handwriting that she had never seen before. Whose could it be?

"I am sure I don't know," coloring with interest and excitement. "I have
a gold piece in my purse."

"I will not be quite so mercenary as that. You shall tell us whom it is
from."

Kathie took the letter and broke it open so as not to destroy the seal,
saw the beginning,--"My dear little friend,"--ran her eye over the two
pages without taking in anything, and looked at the signature.

"O," with a cry of surprise, "it is from General Mackenzie! Why,"--and
then she began to read in good earnest,--"Mr. Morrison is alive, safe!
General Mackenzie found him. O Uncle Robert!"

She could not finish the rest, but buried her head on Uncle Robert's
shoulder to have a good little cry out of pure joy and thankfulness.

"Shall I read it aloud?"

She placed the letter in his hand.

      "MY DEAR LITTLE FRIEND,--I dare say you will be
      surprised at receiving a letter from a busy old
      soldier like me, but I met with an incident a few days
      ago with which you are so intimately connected that I
      cannot resist the good excuse. Of course all the
      glorious news and rejoicing has reached you, but we
      here on the spot are hearing new things daily, some
      joyful, but many sad. We went up the James River one
      morning to a small settlement originally negro
      quarters, where we heard a number of wounded prisoners
      had been taken. We found thirty poor fellows in all,
      who had suffered terribly from neglect, for though the
      negroes were well-meaning and very warm-hearted, they
      were miserably poor and ignorant. Half a dozen of the
      soldiers had been very ill from fevers, and upon
      questioning them I found one was--whom do you
      think?--your uncle's substitute, a William Morrison.
      That took me back to last winter at once, and to my
      little friend, so do not wonder if we had a good long
      talk about you and the beautiful Cedarwood of which I
      have heard so much. I believe it did the poor fellow a
      world of good. He was wounded and taken prisoner, and
      brought up here by the negroes, as far as I can learn.
      In those few days of our final successes the small
      events were overlooked in the glory of the grander
      ones. His wound was not very severe, but fever set in,
      and for three weeks he was delirious. About ten days
      ago he wrote home, but he was not sure that his
      messenger was reliable. He was much better, and we
      despatched those who could travel to head-quarters at
      once. I fancy that he will be mustered out as soon as
      possible. If his friends should not have heard, will
      you please inform them? He holds you all in such warm
      and grateful remembrance that it was delightful to
      talk to him. I rejoice with you that he is safe, and I
      do not question but that he has done a soldier's whole
      duty, I thought I discerned in him the spirit of
      another little soldier, who I dare say finds some
      battles to fight. Give my regards to your family, and
      do not feel surprised when I tell you that you may
      expect me at Cedarwood some day before long.

                         "Truly yours,
                              "W. MACKENZIE, U. S. A."

"It hardly seems possible!" Kathie said, with a sob. "But they have not
heard, and they will be so glad!"

Uncle Robert began to pace the room, much moved. Of late death had
appeared such a certainty, and though he knew the life had been freely
given for his, his first emotions were those of devout gratitude to God
that this sacrifice had not been required. Then he paused before
Kathie. "My little darling," he said, "it is _your_ good news. And
though the Morrisons may hear it in a day or two from other sources, we
owe it to them immediately. Will you go?"

Kathie wanted to very much, but O, how was she ever to get through with
it! Her voice seemed to be all a quiver of tears.

"Would you like me to accompany you?

"If you will."

So Kathie bathed her face and tried to rub the little throbs out of her
temples. In a few moments she was ready, and the two walked down the
avenue.

"There _cannot_ be any mistake?" she exclaimed, pausing at the door.

"O no."

Grandmother was holding the baby, who had a slight cold and fever. Ethel
sat at the window, hemming some breadths of ruffling. She sprang up and
brought out chairs for them, and after one or two little inquiries went
back to her work. Oddly enough the conversation ceased for a few
moments, and in the silence Kathie fancied that she heard her heart
beat, it was in such a tumult.

"I believe Kathie has some news for you," announced Mr. Conover,
gravely.

Kathie rose and twined her arms around Ethel's neck.

"It is this," she said, all in a tremble,--"I cannot tell it as I ought,
but your dear father is alive, Ethel, and is coming home soon."

"Not William! Miss Kathie!" and grandmother almost let the baby fall.

"Yes," replied Mr. Conover; "we heard to-day. I have brought the
letter."

"The Lord be praised!" Then grandmother came over to Kathie, but she and
Ethel were crying softly in each other's arms.

"Child, are you one of God's own--Heaven-sent? for you bring us joy
continually."

"But it was sent to me," Kathie said, over a great break and falter. "If
I could have made it so in the beginning,--but I couldn't, and God kept
him safely. We all waited and prayed."

"And I despaired! I am worse than doubting Thomas! Ah, how good God is
to us all!"

Mrs. Morrison entered with a pail of milk "O," she exclaimed, "you have
had news! Have they found his body?"

"His body and soul. He will be back shortly. The tidings came through a
friend of Kathie."

"Dear Ethel, little one, it is blessed news! You would never have wanted
for love and kindness while Hugh and I were alive; but there's no love
quite like a parent's. How Hugh will rejoice! He never could give him up
altogether."

"Mr. Conover has a letter to read," said grandmother.

Little did General Mackenzie imagine that his words would bring so great
a joy. They all listened breathlessly, and then wanted it read over
again to lengthen out the good news. And when at dusk Uncle Robert
declared they must go, they all begged for Kathie to stay and drink tea,
and would take no refusal.

"But I must return," said Uncle Robert, "or the table will be kept for
us both."

Mrs. Morrison made some biscuits, and brought out her china, as well as
a damask table-cloth. Hugh, coming in, wondered at the feast; but
Ethel's first word told him all. She, poor child, was brimful of joy. It
did one good to look at the roses on her cheeks, and hear the little
laughs that came for joy, and yet were so near to tears.

When Kathie reached home she was absolutely tired with all the
excitement, and mamma said there must be no lessons that night; so they
took the lounge in the shaded half-light of the library, and Kathie laid
her head in Uncle Robert's lap, for it almost ached. And there they had
a tender talk.

"But we shall never forget it," she said. "It seems as if it would help
me to remember all the pains and sorrows and burdens that we can try to
bear for one another."

"It is what God means us to learn and to do. 'For no man liveth unto
himself, and no man dieth unto himself.'"

"And we are all so oddly linked in with one another,--such a little
thing brought the Morrisons here, and then my meeting General Mackenzie
gave him an interest. The news would have come in a day or two, I
suppose; but, Uncle Robert, it seemed so good, since he risked his life
in your place, that we should be the first to take the joyful tidings to
them. I haven't anything in the world to ask."

"Yes, my darling, I am so glad that General Mackenzie did find him; and
more than glad that our brave soldiers can return to their own pleasant
firesides."

"Neither of _our_ soldiers was very grand in the world's estimation,
that is, as to position, but they have both suffered a good deal for the
cause. It is so sweet to think that, though the world knows nothing
about it, God remembers."

"And that no act of self-denial or heroism goes without its reward
there. It is hard sometimes to see it passed so unnoticed in this world,
but I suppose that is where patience needs to have her perfect work."

Kathie wrote a little note to Rob the next morning, beside getting her
lessons; and before the day ended they had a letter from Mr. Morrison
himself, announcing that he was to be sent home on a furlough.

"I shall have a dangerous rival," exclaimed Mr. Meredith, in his teasing
tone, "and when General Mackenzie comes I expect to be quite
overshadowed. No stars nor bars nor shoulder-straps,--nothing but a poor
unknown private! What good could he do?"

"He followed his captain and did his duty."

"Good!" exclaimed Charlie, who was standing beside his brother-in-law.
"You will never find Kathie being caught by the glitter and show."

The old smile twinkled in Mr. Meredith's eyes.

"Well, I will promise not to be _very_ jealous. Only you know you sent
me off to war, so you ought to allow me some special indulgence."

"I!" exclaimed Kathie, coloring violently.

"Yes, you cannot disown me; I am one of your soldiers. Dear little
Kathie, I hope always to be true to my colors."

The last was uttered in a low tone, but it brought a more vivid flush
than the preceding sentence. Though now her eyes were downcast, yet in
her heart of hearts she understood.

"It seems as if Rob ought to come home in the general returning. How
glad I shall be to see the dear old fellow!"

Was Rob fighting the good fight?



CHAPTER XIV.

PUT TO THE TEST.


THE days were so long and pleasant now that Uncle Robert thought they
would not start for Middleville until after dinner, especially as there
would be a bright moon in the evening. Kathie had written a little note
to Sarah, and now the two started in high satisfaction. For since the
good news about Mr. Morrison Kathie seemed full of happiness and
content.

The place looked less dreary than in winter, though the houses appeared
rather more shabby by contrast. One or two were being painted, which
would shame the rest sadly. But the hillsides were taking on an emerald
tint, and groups of cows were wandering about as if patiently waiting
for the grass to grow into nibbling length.

Sarah was standing by the gate, watching for them. A very decided change
_had_ come over her. She was taller and looked less stout, her
complexion was not so rough and red, her dress, a striped green and
white gingham, fitted nicely, and was finished at the throat by a linen
collar. She had eschewed waterfalls and rolls, though she laughingly
admitted to Kathie afterwards that it was because she couldn't get her
hair up to look like anything. But the great thick coil was really
beautiful, and the green ribbon very becoming.

She had changed somewhat in manners as well, being less boisterous and
effusive. Indeed, Kathie thought her very lady-like as she ushered them
into the house.

"Is your brother anywhere about?" asked Uncle Robert. "If so, I will go
and find him while you girls have a talk."

"He is up in the lot. Steve will show you, or, better yet, call him."

Then she led Kathie into the parlor. There were green paper shades at
the windows, which softened the light in the room, and Kathie's first
glance took in a world of improvements.

Sarah colored with a little conscious pride as she led her to a
veritable modern sofa, instead of the old stiff one, worn at the edges.

"Take off your hat and sack," she said, with a touch of bashfulness.

Kathie complied.

"I am so glad to see you. I have such a host of things to tell you."

"And you have been out gathering violets. How pretty and spring-like
they are!"

"Yes, Jim helped me. We thought you would like them so much. And I have
been trying to--to get fixed up a little. It cannot be anything like
your house, but somehow I want it as nice as I can make it. Jim is so
good too, and Cousin Nelly; and I am so happy sometimes that I really
wonder if I be I, like the old woman."

"I am very glad"; and Kathie gave the hand a squeeze in her own tender
little fashion.

"I want to tell you all before any one comes in. Isn't it delightful to
have this sofa? I made father half a dozen shirts all by myself, and he
was so pleased,--you can hardly think! He gave me twelve dollars to
spend just as I pleased; but I told mother I would rather let it go
towards a new sofa than to buy the finest dress. Nelly said it would be
so much more comfortable than that hard, shabby thing, that looked as
if it might have come out of Noah's Ark. So mother gave me fifteen,--she
has all the money for the milk and butter and eggs,--and when father
heard of it he added three more. I was afraid he would think I wanted to
be too fine, but he only laughed a little. Mother and Nelly went to the
city and bought it. I was so glad that I could have cried for joy, and I
know father is very proud of it, though he does not say it in so many
words."

"It is a very nice one, and furnishes the room quite prettily, beside
the comfort of it."

"Jim made me this table, and Cousin Nelly and I covered it with paper
and then varnished it over, and we have a pretty chintz one up stairs.
Nelly and I have a room together now. I can keep everything so much more
tidy than when the children pulled all the rubbish about. And look at my
two new pictures!"

They were large colored engravings,--one, "The Wood-Gatherers," and the
other the interior of a German peasant's cottage, where the mother was
putting a babe to sleep in its odd wicker cradle.

"Jim bought them at a newspaper-stand one day, and only paid twelve
cents apiece for them. He's powerful--no, I mean very fond of them. I am
trying to leave off all those old-fashioned words and expressions. Then
he made the frames, and Nelly and I covered them with pine-cones."

They certainly were very creditable.

"But how industrious you must be!" exclaimed Kathie. "You still go to
school?"

"Yes. I wouldn't give that up for half the world. You see Cousin Nelly
helps mother a good deal, and she helps me too. I have been telling her
ever so much about you, how good and lovely you were. But O, wasn't I a
clown and an ignoramus when you first saw me! I don't wonder that girl
laughed, though it was hateful in her; but I shall never, never forget
how kind you were. O Miss Kathie, it seems to me if the real nice people
in the world _would_ only help the others a bit, we should get along so
much faster. I feel as if I'd had it in me all the time,--a great hungry
longing for something,--and I find now that it is beauty and order and
knowledge."

Sarah's face was in a glow, and her steady, ardent eyes held in them a
soft and tender light. It seemed to Kathie that she was really pretty,
or something more than that,--electrified with soul beauty.

"Father pretends that he is afraid I shall get too proud and not be good
for anything, though he was ever so much pleased when he saw the parlor
in such nice order. And he thought the shirts a wonder. I shall not be
sixteen until November, and there are girls older than I who could not
do it. In vacation I am going to make Jim a whole new set of nice ones
with linen bosoms."

It seemed to Kathie that there was very little danger of Sarah's being
spoiled by acquiring knowledge.

"You deserve the utmost credit," she returned, in her simple manner,
that had in it no shade of patronage or condescension.

"I ought to do something for the pains and trouble you have taken."

"It is a pleasure too."

"Miss Kathie, you are so different from some rich people. I wonder what
makes it?"

A soft color stole up into her face. She would fain have kept silence,
but she saw that Sarah was waiting for an answer. "I think it is because
mamma and Uncle Robert believe that wealth was not given for purely
personal or selfish purposes. It is God's treasure, and we are to put it
out at usury, like the parable of the talents, and the usury means
making other people happy if we can."

"Then I suppose I ought to try and make some one happy?"

"Do you not?" asked Kathie, simply.

"Yes, I do occasionally when it is quite a trouble. The children beg me
to read to them,--they are so fond of stories; and now father always
wants me to read our paper to him. It comes on Saturday and he is always
so tired that night. Still, that isn't--" and Sarah paused as if she
despaired of rendering her meaning clear to her young listener.

"I think Uncle Robert would say that _is_ it surely. Once in a while we
can do larger things; but isn't it the little deeds that require the
most patience? It is the steps that make up the whole path."

"So it is. I never thought of it before"; and she smiled, relieved. "You
believe, Miss Kathie, that what we do at home is just as good in God's
eyes as if we did it for a stranger? It almost seemed to me as if I
ought to go out and look for some poor ignorant person instead."

"Both are doing good in different ways. Maybe it is best to learn to do
the good at home first"; and Kathie remembered her early efforts in
assisting her mother.

"I want father to see that all my knowledge and my queer likes, as he
calls them, will not really spoil me. Grandmother Strong has just such
old-fashioned notions. She thinks my going to school perfectly absurd.
But Cousin Ellen says the world has changed a good deal since
grandmother was young."

"And I have brought your books," said Kathie, when there was a pause of
sufficient length. "The three are half of a pretty set; some time you
may like to get the others."

"You are so kind. I hated to bother you, but I knew you could make the
best choice."

"It was no trouble at all,--Uncle Robert did it, and he bought them for
half a dollar less than their usual price."

"I am so much obliged!" and Sarah's face was in a grateful glow.

Kathie had wanted very much to supply the other three.

"If Sarah were poor," replied Uncle Robert, "I should not object; but
when such a person asks you to do a favor, it is best to keep simply to
the letter of the request. If you gave her so much more, she would
hesitate about asking you to do such a thing a second time, that is, if
she possessed any real delicacy."

Kathie saw the force of the reasoning.

Presently Cousin Ellen came down. She was a neat, commonplace-looking
woman of about thirty, but with a good deal of shrewd sense in her dark
gray eyes. Her black calico dress was the perfection of tidiness, and
the merest little ruff of book-muslin edged it round the neck.

Kathie liked her very much. She had been in the midst of the war
operations for the last three years, and to please Sarah she related
numberless incidents that interested Kathie exceedingly. Then she had to
go up stairs and see their room, take a tour around, and have all the
flower-beds explained to her, to go to the barn and inspect several new
articles Jim was making. Uncle Robert and the boys joined them here, and
Kathie was introduced to Mr. Strong.

"Don't you have a little too much in-doors and study?" he asked,
pleasantly. "I shouldn't like to see one of my gals look as white as you
do."

"O, she is always white, father," said Sarah, admiringly.

"And she has plenty of roses too, for the most part," explained Uncle
Robert, "only for the last few weeks she has been rather overtaxed, I
think. We have had a returned soldier, a very dear friend, ill, and been
in great anxiety about another."

"Thank the Lord for all who've come home safe," said Mr. Strong, in his
clear, forcible tone, and every one of them felt like adding an "Amen"
to it.

Martha ran out to call them to tea.

There was the great table spread, and all the children around it, even
to fatherless Willie, who would never need a friend while Jotham Strong
lived.

It was a very enjoyable supper. The new influence was perceptible even
in sturdy Mrs. Strong, who took a little pains that she might not shame
Sarah before her company.

Kathie asked Mrs. Strong to let Sarah come down some Saturday and make
her a visit.

"I can't exactly explain, Miss Kathie, and I hate to be ungrateful for
your kindness, but I feel as if you and your friends were above Sarah.
Folks ain't all alike, and I s'pose the Lord didn't mean 'em to be, but
I don't want Sarah laughed at, and I don't want any one to think she's
trying to crowd in We're plain, old-fashioned people"--

Mrs. Strong paused, very red in the face.

"No one will think that at Cedarwood," answered Kathie, softly.

So presently the promise was given. In a fortnight Cousin Ellen and
Sarah were to go down to Brookside to do some shopping. Ellen wanted to
call on several of the relatives, but Sarah might go at once to
Cedarwood.

"I expect it will be like a little bit of heaven," the girl whispered.
"I never was in a real elegant house in all my life."

Kathie described her visit to Aunt Ruth in glowing terms. "I think it
_is_ delightful to be rich, after all," she said, contentedly. "You can
make so many people happy."

"And while you study the happiness of others and your duty towards them
the riches will hardly prove a snare," returned Aunt Ruth.

Before another week had ended they had a new joy for which to be very
thankful,--the return of Mr. Morrison. He still looked a little pale and
thin, but had improved wonderfully since the day when General Mackenzie
found him in the forlorn negro quarters. Glad enough he was to get home
to his little Ethel, who hardly let him go out of her sight. Nothing
would do but that the whole family must come down to the cottage and
drink tea.

"I must express my obligations once more to you," said Uncle Robert, in
the evening; "and I am most grateful to God for your return, and that he
did not require so costly a sacrifice at my hands."

"He knows that I am glad enough to come back; but if you'll believe me,
sir, it was a great comfort, when I thought myself dying, that it was in
your stead, and that your life, so much more valuable than mine, had
been spared. I believe you would have sorrowed for me truly,--and Miss
Kathie here,--as well as my own."

Kathie took his hand. "I've been thinking of this ever since the night
you offered to go: 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay
down his life for his friends.'"

The sweet voice trembled a little. It would always have a tender strand
in it when it came to that verse.

"Ah, Miss Kathie, those precious words were for the Saviour of us all.
What can we ever do to merit them?" and the soldier drew the back of his
hand across his eyes.

"God gives the grace to weak human nature," Uncle Robert said, with
solemn sweetness.

Walking home, Kathie started from her revery. "Now if Rob could only
come back," she exclaimed, "our soldiers would all be together. You
remember the day he was so elated about the draft?"

"Yes. Dear Rob! I hope he has done good service. I am very anxious to
see him again."

Then Kathie began to count on the promised visit. "It is not because I
am so proud of Cedarwood, or the handsome things in it," she explained
to Uncle Robert, "though I do think them all very lovely; but it will be
such a pleasure to her,--just as my going to Miss Jessie's when we were
so poor."

"I understand"; and he smiled.

There had been quite a discussion about having a second girl. Uncle
Robert fancied that Kathie's further knowledge of household details had
better be postponed until she had less upon her hands. Jane Maybin, who
had been a good deal out of health lately, and unable to work in the
factory, as the dust irritated her lungs and made her cough, was quite
anxious to take the situation. What with company and increasing social
duties, Mrs. Alston found her time much interrupted.

Hannah did all the sweeping on Friday, but it was a heavy tax; so Kathie
only dusted awhile on Saturday morning, cut fresh flowers and arranged
them, and busied herself about little odds and ends. Mrs. Alston decided
to have Jane, and Aunt Ruth took a walk over to the cottage.

Kathie waited in a peculiar state of anxiety, Lucy and Annie Gardiner
had proposed to come over that very afternoon, but she preferred to have
Sarah quite alone, that she might feel free to enjoy everything.

It was almost twelve when she reached Cedarwood. Kathie was haunting the
cottage, where she could have a good look down the street, but she
hardly recognized the figure at first. It seemed as if Sarah grew every
week. She looked quite like a young lady, Kathie thought. Her light gray
dress was trimmed with several rows of blue ribbon, and the sack,
matching it, made a very neat suit. Her white straw hat was trimmed with
blue, and a cluster of crisp, fresh flowers, that looked almost good
enough to be natural. There was nothing in that outfit to be ashamed of.

"O," she exclaimed, with a long breath, "it's like going into the Garden
of Eden! The house and the trees, and that lovely lake! I should want to
be out of doors forever."

"Uncle Robert has promised to row us around the lake this afternoon. A
month later it will be much more beautiful. Did you finish your
shopping?"

"O yes, though we were bothered a good deal, and that made me later.
Nelly wanted me to go to dinner at Cousin Rachel's."

"I am glad that you did not."

Sarah could not be hurried into the house. She wanted to view the
fountain, the groups of evergreens, the broad porch, and fancy just how
the roses and honeysuckle would look. But presently they entered. Kathie
led her up stairs to her room, to lay aside her hat.

"O, I don't wonder Jim said it was a palace!" she exclaimed, with
breathless delight. "What a lovely room! Why, it's pretty enough for any
one's parlor!"

Kathie smiled a little, remembering the day on which she had thought it
wonderful as well.

Sarah was hardly satisfied with her inspection when the bell rang for
dinner. In the hall they met Aunt Ruth, and in the dining-room Kathie
introduced Sarah to her mother.

A girl with less natural adaptation or ambition might have been very
awkward. But Sarah had watched Kathie to some purpose, and now gave
herself courage with the thought that she could not go far astray if she
copied Kathie. To be sure she blushed and hesitated a little, and, as
she afterward confessed at home, "trembled all over"; but she did acquit
herself very creditably.

"I can scarcely realize that it is the same girl who wrote you the
Christmas letter," whispered Mrs. Alston in a soft aside, and Kathie
smiled gratefully at her mother's commendation.

Then the two girls began a regular tour about the house. The pictures,
the statues, the furniture, Aunt Ruth's beautiful bay-window still full
of vines and flowers, and the abundance of books, were so many marvels
to Sarah. And here, in the midst of all this beauty, hung her lichen.
The tears of delight came to her eyes, in spite of her strong effort at
repression.

"Now if you would only play and sing for me," she pleaded, bashfully.
"You're so good that I hate to ask anything."

"With pleasure."

It seemed as if Sarah could never get enough music. She listened as if
she was entranced, the new spiritual light coming into her eyes, showing
the strong and earnest capabilities of her soul.

Uncle Robert looked in upon them.

"I think you had better go out on the lake now," he said. "The air is so
delightfully soft."

Sarah sighed. "I cannot imagine which is the best, everything is such a
pleasure."

"We will have some music when we return. You will like the sail, I
know."

They found their hats and ran down the broad steps. Quite a party were
coming up the drive. Charlie and Dick, Mr. and Mrs. Meredith, and O,
joy! this tall, soldierly man could be no other than General Mackenzie!

"My dear, dear young friend"; and, stooping, he kissed the forehead in
his grave, tender fashion.

"So you see I have surprised you this time," laughed Mr. Meredith.
"Where were you going gypsy fashion?"

"To the lake, but it doesn't matter." There was no Uncle Robert to help
her, so she turned to where Sarah stood blushing and abashed, drew her
kindly forward, and gave her an introduction to each one. Dick connected
her with the party and Belle Hadden at once.

"Kathie was right to stand up for her," was his mental verdict. "There
are plenty of worse-looking and worse-behaved girls in the world."

At this junction Uncle Robert joined them. The whole party entered the
parlor. Kathie seated Sarah by herself, and General Mackenzie joined
them. Mrs. Alston and Aunt Ruth were summoned, and the conversation
became most genial. And when Sarah ventured a remark, frightened half to
death the moment afterward, General Mackenzie smiled and answered her.
Dick Grayson, anxious to see "what kind of stuff she was made of," came
round to the back of the _tête-à-tête_, and joined the talk.

But the wonders had not all come to an end. The door-bell sounded again,
and Hannah ushered two young ladies into the hall. Kathie caught a
glimpse of the faces,--Sue Coleman and Emma Lauriston.

They saw Dick and Charlie and the grand soldier beside this
plain-looking girl,--some of the Darrells, maybe,--and, accepting
Kathie's cordial invitation, joined the group.

"Miss Strong," Kathie said, with sweet, gracious simplicity; and Sue for
a moment was abashed. Something in Dick's face announced the truth.

General Mackenzie did not seem to think her beneath him. Just now she
was speaking of her cousin's husband and their having Mrs. Gilbert and
Willie at home.

"Miss Strong," he said, gravely, "I honor your parents for the act.
There will be so many widows and orphans for whom the scanty pension
will be as nothing. But the generous-hearted men and women who open
their houses to these poor unfortunates pay our dead soldiers a higher
compliment, and evince a truer appreciation of their gallant heroism,
than if they made grand processions and built marble monuments."

Sarah blushed with embarrassment, and some deep, delicate feeling that
she could not have expressed. She had not done it boastingly; indeed,
until this moment, she had hardly thought of any special kindliness in
the deed.

Actually complimented by General Mackenzie! Lottie Thorne would have
died of envy.

Somehow the time ran away very fast. They went out on the lawn in the
sunshine, when Sue and Emma discovered that they must go, and the two
boys walked with them. Then it came Sarah's turn, as she had promised to
be at Cousin Rachel's by five.

"I've had such a lovely, lovely time, Miss Kathie, though I felt
dreadfully frightened when your grand company came; but they were all
so--so nice that I quite forgot about being an awkward country girl. And
isn't General Mackenzie plain and charming?--yes, that is the very word.
I don't believe General Grant is a bit nicer. I shall tell mother just
what he said. It will help to make up for the girls laughing about her
bonnet."

Kathie had a simple gift to send to Baby Lily. Then the girls said a
lingering good-by to each other, and Kathie went back to her hero.

"I must take the night return train," he declared, "on account of
important business in Washington; but if you will allow me to visit you
in the summer, and bring my son, I will accept it as a great favor."

Uncle Robert gave him a most cordial invitation.

"And, my little friend, I must congratulate you that your soldiers did
their duty without flinching, even in the most trying moments. It is not
our lives only, but our wills, our comforts and pleasures, that we are
required to give up. And I am thankful that God watched over them every
hour, and sent them back safely at last."

"I think they were braver than I, sometimes," Kathie answered, in a low
tone. "After all, I have done so little; I do not deserve the praise."
Her voice seemed to lose itself in a tender humility.

"My dear child, I know what you thought of the other warfare. It is a
soldier's duty to bring in all the recruits that he can. God will clothe
them in his righteousness, and make the path plain before them as they
go to do battle with the arch-enemy. He only asks us to lead them to
him. You are doing this in a brave, steady manner."

There were tears in Kathie's downcast eyes; but Mr. Meredith's hand
stole over her shoulder, and their fingers met with a clasp that was
more expressive than words.

"People often look too far off for duties," continued the old soldier.
"We are to take up the task that lies before us, even if it does not
seem to wear the grace of the heroic. God knows when and where to add
the golden fruit. Some day, my little girl, we will have a long talk
about these matters."

The soft spring-twilight was falling as they said good-by to General
Mackenzie. The grave, kindly eyes rested last of all on the child's
simple, earnest face.

Mr. and Mrs. Meredith went also when Uncle Robert drove the General to
the station. Kathie sat by the window, peering out into the darkness,
long after the sound of the wheels had ceased. One star came out
presently.

Shining on and on. The old, old lesson, the child's purpose growing
stronger with the passing years, and Kathie prayed that as her soldiers
had been faithful, she also might be faithful unto the end.



LITTLE RED HOUSE SERIES

By AMANDA M. DOUGLAS


    Illustrated by Louise Wyman 12mo Cloth
    Price, Net, $1.00 each Postpaid, $1.10


THE CHILDREN IN THE LITTLE OLD RED HOUSE

THE very title of this book gives promise of a good story, and when we
know that there are _eight_ of these children, as loving as they are
lively, there can be no doubt of the good things in store for the
reader. Their efforts to help the dearest of mothers, their merriment,
which no poverty can subdue, and the great and well-deserved good
fortune which comes to them, move us in rapid succession to sympathy,
amusement, and delight.

[Illustration]

"It is a sunshiny story of the best things in life. Men and women today
need such stories quite as much as the children. It is as quaint as the
"Pepper Books" for little folks, but carries a deeper treasure for older
people."--_Universalist Leader._


THE RED HOUSE CHILDREN AT GRAFTON

EIGHT bright children, with a kind and loving mother, make up the Red
House family, and the change to better circumstances through a new
father, and a good one, does not in the least "spoil" them. There is
some doubt on the part of a few of their new neighbors as to whether
these numerous brothers and sisters will be good to know, but all who
meet them are speedily won to friendship. Fun and frolic in plenty are a
part of their wholesome development, and the story does not drag for a
moment.

[Illustration]

"It is filled with fun and frolic, and yet has a tendency to carry the
children's minds to higher and better things."--_Buffalo Commercial._


    _For sale by all booksellers or sent postpaid on receipt of
    price by the publishers_

    LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO., BOSTON



HELEN GRANT SERIES

By AMANDA M. DOUGLAS

    Illustrated by AMY BROOKS. Cloth. Price per volume $.60


    Helen Grant's Schooldays
    Helen Grant's Friends
    Helen Grant at Aldred House
    Helen Grant in College
    Helen Grant, Senior
    Helen Grant, Graduate
    Helen Grant, Teacher
    Helen Grant's Decision
    Helen Grant's Harvest Year

[Illustration]

      HELEN GRANT and her friends represent the best type of
      college girls, those of the highest aims and ideals,
      and she herself develops to admiration in each
      successive phase of her career.--_Milwaukee Free
      Press._

      Helen Grant is a lovable and capable American girl,
      and the young people who follow her experiences as
      depicted by Miss Douglas are sure to be the better for
      it.--_Herald and Presbyter._

      Miss Douglas has had long experience in writing books
      for girls. Into her stories she puts the influence of
      high ideals, remembering all the time that girls are
      not to be deprived of their good times, but that play
      and earnest endeavor contribute each a share to the
      making of womanly character.--_Christian Register._

      In "Helen Grant," Miss Douglas has created a splendid
      type of American girlhood, strong, energetic,
      intelligent, and winsome. Her progress under
      difficulties, and her unusual power to win and keep
      friends, have delighted her readers.--_Chicago
      Advance._

[Illustration]

    For sale by all booksellers or sent postpaid on
    receipt of price by the publishers

    LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO.,
    BOSTON



Fifty Flower Friends

    With Familiar Faces

    By EDITH DUNHAM

    A FIELD BOOK FOR BOYS AND GIRLS

    With twelve full-page colored plates, decorations and fifty text
    illustrations from nature by W. I. BEECROFT $1.35 _net_


CHILDREN cannot too soon begin to know the wild flowers, and here they
are told in a charming way where and when to look for each of fifty
widely distributed common flowering plants; also how they get their
names, and how to know them from the remarkably accurate drawings of Mr.
Beecroft, a skilled botanist and superior artist. Each of the fifty
flowers has a page of accurate botanical description in addition to its
story. Thus the book is suited for varying ages.

[Illustration]

      "The greatest praise can be bestowed upon and every
      mother and father should have one and by it better
      educate their children in nature, which will prove not
      only an enjoyable study, but an instructive
      one."--_Providence News._

      "Good brief descriptions, good clear pictures,
      portraits almost, of each flower friend, a beautiful
      cover, convenient arrangement, and fine large print,
      make a perfect book to own, or to give to any one,
      especially a child."--_Universalist Leader._

      "If the children do not learn something new about
      flowers this summer it may be because their unkind
      parents have not bought them Miss Edith Dunham's Fifty
      Flower Friends."--_New York Times._

      "The boy or girl into whose hands this book is placed
      can hardly fail to acquire a real and lasting interest
      in our every-day wild flowers."--_The Dial._

      "It has no rival in books of its kind, either in text
      or illustration."--_Boston Budget._

    _For sale by all booksellers or sent postpaid on receipt of
    price by the publishers_

    LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO., BOSTON



DOROTHY BROWN

By NINA RHOADES

    Illustrated by Elizabeth Withington Large 12mo
    Cloth $1.35 _net_

THIS is considerably longer than the other books by this favorite
writer, and with a more elaborate plot, but it has the same winsome
quality throughout. It introduces the heroine in New York as a little
girl of eight, but soon passes over six years and finds her at a select
family boarding school in Connecticut. An important part of the story
also takes place at the Profile House in the White Mountains. The charm
of school-girl friendship is finely brought out, and the kindness of
heart, good sense and good taste which find constant expression in the
books by Miss Rhoades do not lack for characters to show these best of
qualities by their lives. Other less admirable persons of course appear
to furnish the alluring mystery, which is not all cleared up until the
very last.

[Illustration]

      "There will be no better book than this to put into
      the hands of a girl in her teens and none that will be
      better appreciated by her."--_Kennebec Journal._


MARION'S VACATION

By NINA RHOADES

    Illustrated by Bertha G. Davidson 12mo $1.25 _net_

THIS book is for the older girls, Marion being thirteen. She has for ten
years enjoyed a luxurious home in New York with the kind lady who feels
that the time has now come for this aristocratic though lovable little
miss to know her own nearest kindred, who are humble but most excellent
farming people in a pretty Vermont village. Thither Marion is sent for a
summer, which proves to be a most important one to her in all its
lessons.

[Illustration]

      "More wholesome reading for half grown girls it would
      be hard to find; some of the same lessons that proved
      so helpful in that classic of the last generation 'An
      Old Fashioned Girl' are brought home to the youthful
      readers of this sweet and sensible story."--_Milwaukee
      Free Press._

    _For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of
    price by the publishers_

    LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO., Boston



BRAVE HEART SERIES

By Adele E. Thompson

    Illustrated 12mo Cloth _Net_ $1.25 each


Betty Seldon, Patriot

A BOOK that is at the same time fascinating and noble. Historical events
are accurately traced leading up to the surrender of Cornwallis at
Yorktown, with reunion and happiness for all who deserve it.


Brave Heart Elizabeth

IT is a story of the making of the Ohio frontier, much of it taken from
life, and the heroine one of the famous Zane family after which
Zanesville, O., takes its name. An accurate, pleasing, and yet at times
intensely thrilling picture of the stirring period of border settlement.


A Lassie of the Isles

THIS is the romantic story of Flora Macdonald, the lassie of Skye, who
aided in the escape of Charles Stuart, otherwise known as the "Young
Pretender."


Polly of the Pines

THE events of the story occur in the years 1775-82. Polly was an orphan
living with her mother's family, who were Scotch Highlanders, and for
the most part intensely loyal to the Crown. Polly finds the glamor of
royal adherence hard to resist, but her heart turns towards the patriots
and she does much to aid and encourage them.

American Patty A Story of 1812

Patty is a brave, winsome girl of sixteen whose family have settled
across the Canadian border and are living in peace and prosperity, and
on the best of terms with the neighbors and friendly Indians. All this
is suddenly and entirely changed by the breaking out of war, and
unwillingness on the part of her father and brother to serve against
their native land brings distress and deadly peril.

[Illustration]

_For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by
the publishers_

LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO., BOSTON



HOME ENTERTAINING

What to Do, and How to Do It

Edited by WILLIAM E. CHENERY

    12mo Cloth Price, Net, $.75 Postpaid, $.85

THIS book is the product of years of study and the practical trying-out
of every conceivable form of indoor entertainment. All the games,
tricks, puzzles, and rainy-day and social-evening diversions have been
practised by the editor; many are original with him, and many that are
of course not original have been greatly improved by his intelligence.
All are told in the plainest possible way, and with excellent taste. The
book is well arranged and finely printed. At a low price it places
within the reach of all the very best of bright and jolly means of
making home what it ought to be--the best place for a good time by those
of all ages.

[Illustration]

      "The book is bright and up to date, full of cheer and
      sunshine. A good holiday book." _Religious Telescope,
      Dayton, Ohio._

      "For those who want new games for the home this book
      supplies the very best--good, clean, hearty games,
      full of fun and the spirit of laughter."--_N. Y.
      Times._

      "Altogether the book is a perfect treasure-house for
      the young people's rainy day or social evening."--_New
      Bedford Standard._

      "The arrangement is excellent and the instructions so
      simple that a child may follow them. A book like this
      is just the thing for social evenings."--_Christian
      Endeavor World._

      "A book giving the best, cleanest and brightest games
      and tricks for home entertaining."--_Syracuse Herald._

      "The book is clearly written and should prove of value
      to every young man who aspires to be the life of the
      party."--_Baltimore Sun._

      "Only good, bright, clean games and tricks appeal to
      Mr. Chenery, and he has told in the simplest and most
      comprehensive manner how to get up 'amusements for
      every one.'"--_Hartford Courant._


    _For sale by all booksellers or sent on receipt of postpaid
    price by the publishers_

    LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO., BOSTON



FOUR GORDONS

By EDNA A. BROWN

    Illustrated Large 12mo Decorated Cover $1.35 _net_

LOUISE and her three brothers are the "Four Gordons," and the story
relates their experiences at home and school during the absence of their
parents for a winter in Italy. There is plenty of fun and frolic, with
skating, coasting, dancing, and a jolly Christmas visit. The
conversation is bright and natural, the book presents no improbable
situations, its atmosphere is one of refinement, and it has the merit of
depicting simple and wholesome comradeship between boys and girls.

      "The story and its telling are worthy of Miss Alcott.
      Young folks of both sexes will enjoy it."--_N. Y.
      Sun._

      "It is a hearty, wholesome story of youthful life in
      which the morals are never explained but simply
      illustrated by logical results."--_Christian
      Register._


UNCLE DAVID'S BOYS

By EDNA A. BROWN

    Illustrated by John Goss 12mo Cloth
    Price $1.35 _net_

THIS tells how some young people whom circumstances brought together in
a little mountain village spent a summer vacation, full of good times,
but with some unexpected and rather mysterious occurrences. In the end,
more than one head was required to find out exactly what was going on.
The story is a wholesome one with a pleasant, well-bred atmosphere, and
though it holds the interest, it never approaches the sensational nor
passes the bounds of the probable.

      "A story which will hold the attention of youthful
      readers from cover to cover and prove not without its
      interest for older readers."--_Evening Wisconsin._

      "For those young people who like a lively story with
      some unmistakably old fashioned characteristics,
      'Uncle David's Boys,' will have a strong
      appeal."--_Churchman._

       *       *       *       *       *

    _For sale by all booksellers or sent postpaid on receipt of
    price by the publishers_

    LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO., BOSTON.



JEAN CABOT SERIES

By GERTRUDE FISHER SCOTT

    Illustrated by Arthur O. Scott 12mo Cloth
    Price, Net, $1.25 each


JEAN CABOT AT ASHTON

HERE is the "real thing" in a girl's college story. Older authors can
invent situations and supply excellently written general delineations of
character, but all lack the vital touch of this work of a bright young
recent graduate of a well-known college for women, who has lost none of
the enthusiasm felt as a student. Every activity of a popular girl's
first year is woven into a narrative, photographic in its description of
a life that calls into play most attractive qualities, while at the same
time severely testing both character and ability.


JEAN CABOT IN THE BRITISH ISLES

THIS is a college story, although dealing with a summer vacation, and
full of college spirit. It begins with a Yale-Harvard boat race at New
London, but soon Jean and her room-mate sail for Great Britain under the
chaperonage of Miss Hooper, a favorite member of the faculty at Ashton
College. Their trip is full of the delight that comes to the traveler
first seeing the countries forming "our old home."


JEAN CABOT IN CAP AND GOWN

JEAN CABOT is a superb young woman, physically and mentally, but
thoroughly human and thus favored with many warm friendships. Her final
year at Ashton College is the culmination of a course in which study,
sport and exercise, and social matters have been well balanced.


JEAN CABOT AT THE HOUSE WITH THE BLUE SHUTTERS

SUCH a group as Jean and her most intimate friends could not scatter at
once, as do most college companions after graduation, and six of them
under the chaperonage of a married older graduate and member of the same
sorority spend a most eventful summer in a historic farm-house in Maine.

       *       *       *       *       *

    For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt
    of price by the publishers

    Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co.  Boston



American Heroes and Heroines

By PAULINE CARRINGTON BOUVÉ Illustrated

    12mo Cloth $1.25 _net_

THIS book, which will tend directly toward the making of patriotism in
young Americans, contains some twenty brief, clever and attractive
sketches of famous men and women in American history, among them Father
Marquette, Anne Hutchinson, Israel Putnam, Molly Pitcher, Paul Jones,
Dolly Madison, Daniel Boone, etc. Mrs. Bouvé is well known as a writer
both of fiction and history, and her work in this case is admirable.

      "The style of the book for simplicity and clearness of
      expression could hardly be excelled."--_Boston
      Budget._


The Scarlet Patch

The Story of a Patriot Boy in the Mohawk Valley

    By MARY E. Q. BRUSH Illustrated $1.25 _net_

"THE Scarlet Patch" was the badge of a Tory organization, and a loyal
patriot boy, Donald Bastien, is dismayed at learning that his uncle,
with whom he is a "bound boy," is secretly connected with this
treacherous band. Thrilling scenes follow in which a faithful Indian
figures prominently, and there is a vivid presentation of the school and
home life as well as the public affairs of those times.

      "A book that will be most valuable to the library of
      the young boy."--_Providence News._


Stories of Brave Old Times

Some Pen Pictures of Scenes Which Took Place Previous to, or Connected
With, the American Revolution

    By HELEN M. CLEVELAND Profusely illustrated
    Large 12mo Cloth $1.25 _net_

IT is a book for every library, a book for adults, and a book for the
young. Perhaps no other book yet written sets the great cost of freedom
so clearly before the young, consequently is such a spur to patriotism.

      "It can unqualifiedly be commended as a book for
      youthful readers; its great wealth of illustrations
      adding to its value."--_Chicago News._

       *       *       *       *       *

    For sale by all booksellers or sent postpaid on receipt of price
    by the publishers,

    LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO., BOSTON



_THE RANDY BOOKS_

_By AMY BROOKS_

    12mo CLOTH ARTISTIC COVER DESIGN IN GOLD AND COLORS
    ILLUSTRATED BY THE AUTHOR PRICE, _Net_, $1.00 EACH

The progress of the "Randy Books" has been one continual triumph over
the hearts of girls of all ages, for dear little fun-loving sister Prue
is almost as much a central figure as Randy, growing toward womanhood
with each book. The sterling good sense and simple naturalness of Randy,
and the total absence of slang and viciousness, make these books in the
highest degree commendable, while abundant life is supplied by the
doings of merry friends, and there is rich humor in the droll rural
characters.

  Randy's Summer          Randy's Good Times
      Randy's Winter            Randy's Luck
          Randy and Her Friends    Randy's Loyalty
              Randy and Prue            Randy's Prince

      "The Randy Books are among the very choicest books for
      young people to make a beginning with."--_Boston
      Courier._

      "The Randy Books of Amy Brooks have had a deserved
      popularity among young girls. They are wholesome and
      moral without being goody-goody."--_Chicago Post._

       *       *       *       *       *

LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO., BOSTON



       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:

Obvious punctuation errors were corrected.

Page 41, "commom" changed to "common" (a common soldier)





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