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´╗┐Title: The Box-Car Children
Author: Warner, Gertrude Chandler
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Box-Car Children" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



scans obtained from the University of Florida.



                    THE BOX-CAR CHILDREN

                _By Gertrude Chandler Warner_

    _Author of "Star Stories For Little Folks" and, with Frances Warner,
    of "Life's Minor Collisions"_


    _With pictures by
    Dorothy Lake Gregory_

    RAND McNALLY & COMPANY

    CHICAGO               NEW YORK

    _Copyright, 1924, by_
    RAND MCNALLY & COMPANY


    [Transcriber's Note: Extensive research did not uncover any evidence
    that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]



THE CONTENTS


    THE FLIGHT                    9

    THE SECOND NIGHT             18

    SHELTER                      27

    A NEW HOME                   34

    HOUSEKEEPING                 43

    EARNING A LIVING             51

    AT HOME                      61

    BUILDING THE DAM             71

    CHERRY PICKING               81

    THE RACE                     88

    MORE EDUCATION               96

    GINSENG                     105

    TROUBLE                     111

    CAUGHT                      120

    A NEW GRANDFATHER           127

    A UNITED FAMILY             134

    SAFE                        142



[Illustration: _Jess shut the door with as much care as she had opened
it_]



THE FLIGHT


About seven o'clock one hot summer evening a strange family moved into
the little village of Middlesex. Nobody knew where they came from, or
who they were. But the neighbors soon made up their minds what they
thought of the strangers, for the father was very drunk. He could hardly
walk up the rickety front steps of the old tumble-down house, and his
thirteen-year-old son had to help him. Toward eight o'clock a pretty,
capable-looking girl of twelve came out of the house and bought a loaf
of bread at the baker's. And that was all the villagers learned about
the newcomers that night.

"There are four children," said the bakeshop woman to her husband the
next day, "and their mother is dead. They must have some money, for the
girl paid for the bread with a dollar bill."

"Make them pay for everything they get," growled the baker, who was a
hard man. "The father is nearly dead with drink now, and soon they will
be only beggars."

This happened sooner than he thought. The next day the oldest boy and
girl came to ask the bakeshop woman to come over. Their father was dead.

She went over willingly enough, for someone had to go. But it was clear
that she did not expect to be bothered with four strange children, with
the bakery on her hands and two children of her own.

"Haven't you any other folks?" she asked the children.

"We have a grandfather in Greenfield," spoke up the youngest child
before his sister could clap her hand over his mouth.

"Hush, Benny," she said anxiously.

This made the bakeshop woman suspicious. "What's the matter with your
grandfather?" she asked.

"He doesn't like us," replied the oldest boy reluctantly. "He didn't
want my father to marry my mother, and if he found us he would treat us
cruelly."

"Did you ever see him?"

"Jess has. Once she saw him."

"Well, did he treat you cruelly?" asked the woman, turning upon Jess.

"Oh, he didn't see me," replied Jess. "He was just passing through
our--where we used to live--and my father pointed him out to me."

"Where did you use to live?" went on the questioner. But none of the
children could be made to tell.

"We will get along all right alone, won't we, Henry?" declared Jess.

"Indeed we will!" said Henry.

"I will stay in the house with you tonight," said the woman at last,
"and tomorrow we will see what can be done."

The four children went to bed in the kitchen, and gave the visitor the
only other bed in the house. They knew that she did not at once go to
bed, but sat by the window in the dark. Suddenly they heard her talking
to her husband through the open window.

"They must go to their grandfather, that's certain," Jess heard her say.

"Of course," agreed her husband. "Tomorrow we will make them tell us
what his name is."

Soon after that Jess and Henry heard her snoring heavily. They sat up in
the dark.

"Mustn't we surely run away?" whispered Jess in Henry's ear.

"Yes!" whispered Henry. "Take only what we need most. We must be far off
before morning, or they will catch us."

Jess sat still for a moment, thinking, for every motion she made must
count.

"I will take both loaves of bread," she thought, "and Violet's little
workbag. Henry has his knife. And all Father's money is in my pocket."
She drew it out and counted it in the dark, squinting her eyes in the
faint light of the moon. It amounted to nearly four dollars.

"You'll have to carry Benny until he gets waked up," whispered Jess. "If
we wake him up here, he might cry."

She touched Violet as she spoke.

"Sh! Violet! Come! We're going to run away," she whispered.

The little girl made no sound. She sat up obediently and tried to make
out the dim shadow of her sister.

"What shall I do?" she said, light as a breath.

"Carry this," said Jess, handing her the workbag and a box of matches.

Jess tiptoed over to the tin box on the table, drew out the two loaves
of bread, and slipped them into the laundry bag. She peered around the
room for the last time, and then dropped two small clean towels and a
cake of soap into the bag.

"All right. Pick him up," she said to Henry.

Henry bent over the sleeping child and lifted him carefully. Jess took
the laundry bag, turned the doorknob ever so softly, opened the door
ever so slowly, and they tiptoed out in a ghostly procession.

Jess shut the door with as much care as she had opened it, listened to
the bakeshop woman's heavy snoring for a moment, and then they turned
and picked their way without a sound to the country road.

"She may wake up before morning, you know," whispered Henry. "We must do
our fastest walking before then. If we can only get to another town
before they find out we're gone, they won't know which way to go."

Jess agreed, and they all walked briskly along in the faint moonlight.

"How far can you carry Benny?" asked Violet.

"Oh, at least a mile," said Henry confidently, although his arms were
beginning to ache. Benny was five years old, and he was a fat, healthy
boy as well.

"_I_ think we could all walk faster if we woke him up," said Jess
decidedly. "We could each take his hand and almost carry him along."

Henry knelt by the roadside and set the little fellow against his knee.

"Come, Benny, you must wake up now and walk!" said Jess coaxingly.

"Go away!" Benny mumbled with his eyes shut, trying to lie down again.

"Let me try," Violet offered softly.

"Say, Benny, you know little Cinnamon Bear ran away to find a nice warm
bed for the winter? Now, you play you're Cinnamon, and Henry and Jess
will help you along, and we'll find a bed."

Violet's little plan worked. Benny was never too cross to listen to the
wonderful stories his sister Violet could tell about Cinnamon Bear. He
stood up bravely and marched along, yawning, while his big brother and
sister almost swung him between them.

Not a soul passed them on the country road. All the houses they saw were
dark and still. And when the first faint streaks of morning light
showed in the sky, all four children were almost staggering with sleep.

"I _must_ go to sleep, Henry," murmured Jess at last. Little Benny was
asleep already, and Henry was carrying him again.

"The first place we come to, then," panted Henry.

Violet said nothing, but she kept her eyes open.

Finally she caught Henry's sleeve. "Couldn't we make that haystack do?"
she asked, pointing across a newly mown field.

"Indeed we could," said Henry thankfully. "What a big, enormous one it
is! I was too sleepy to see it, I guess."

"And see how far away from the farmhouse and barn it is, too!" echoed
Jess.

The sight gave them new courage. They climbed over two stone walls, got
across a brook somehow with the heavy child, and arrived at the
haystack.

Henry laid his brother down and stretched his aching arms, while Jess
began to burrow into the haystack. Violet, after a moment of watching
her, did the same.

"Here's his nest," said Jess sleepily, taking her head out of the deep
round hole she had made. Henry lifted the child into the opening and was
pleased to see that he curled up instantly, smiling in his sleep.

Jess pulled wisps of hay over the opening so that it was absolutely
invisible, and then proceeded to dig out a similar burrow for herself.

"We can stay here just--as long--as we like, can't we, Henry?" she
murmured, digging with her eyes shut.

"We sure can," replied Henry. "You're an old brick, Jess. Get in, and
I'll pull the hay over the hole."

Violet was already curled up in her nest, which was hidden so completely
that Henry spoke to her to see if she were there. Then he wriggled
himself backward into the haycock without stopping to hollow it out,
pulled a handful of hay over his head, and laid his head on his arm.

Just as he did so he heard a heavy voice say, "Now, then, lass, git
along!" Then he heard the rumble of a milk wagon coming down a near-by
lane, and he realized thankfully that they had hidden themselves just
before the first farmer in the neighborhood had set off toward
Middlesex with his milk cans.

"He will say he didn't meet us coming this way," thought Henry, "so they
will hunt for us the other way. And that will give us time to cover a
lot more ground."

He dropped asleep just as the roosters all over the valley began to
answer each other.



THE SECOND NIGHT


The roosters crowed and the hens clucked; the farmer's wife began to get
breakfast, and the four children slept on. Dinner time came and went,
and still they slept, for it must be remembered that they had been awake
and walking during the whole night. In fact, it was nearly seven o'clock
in the evening when they awoke. Luckily, all the others awoke before
Benny.

"Can you hear me, Jess?" said Henry, speaking very low through the wall
of hay.

"Yes," answered Jess softly. "Let's make one big room of our nests."

No sooner said than done. The boy and girl worked quickly and quietly
until they could see each other. They pressed the hay back firmly until
they had made their way into Violet's little room. And then she in turn
groped until she found Benny.

"Hello, little Cinnamon!" whispered Violet playfully.

And Benny at once made up his mind to laugh instead of cry. But laughing
out loud was almost as bad, so Henry took his little brother on the hay
beside him and talked to him seriously.

"You're old enough now, Benny, to understand what I say to you. Now,
listen! When I tell you to _keep still_ after this, that means you're to
stop crying if you're crying, or stop laughing if you're laughing, and
be just as still as you possibly can. If you don't mind, you will be in
danger. Do you understand?"

"Don't I have to mind Jess and Violet too?" asked Benny.

"Absolutely!" said Henry. "You have to mind us all, every one of us!"

Benny thought a minute. "Can't I ask for what I want any more?" he said.

"Indeed you can!" cried Jess and Henry together. "What is it you want?"

"I'm _awful_ hungry," said Benny anxiously.

Henry's brow cleared. "Good old Benny," he said. "We're just going to
have supper--or is it breakfast?"

Jess drew out the fragrant loaf of bread. She cut it with Henry's
jackknife into four quarters, and she and Henry took the two crusty ends
themselves.

"That's because we have to be the strongest, and crusts make you
strong," explained Jess.

Violet looked at her older sister. She thought she knew why Jess took
the crust, but she did not speak.

"We will stay here till dark, and then we'll go on with our journey,"
said Henry cheerfully.

"I want a drink," announced Benny.

"A drink you shall have," Henry promised, "but you'll have to wait till
it's really dark. If we should creep out to the brook now, and any one
saw us--" He did not finish his sentence, but Benny realized that he
must wait.

He was much refreshed from his long sleep, and felt very lively. Violet
had all she could do to keep him amused, even with Cinnamon Bear and his
five brothers.

At last Henry peeped out. It was after nine o'clock. There were lights
in the farmhouse still, but they were all upstairs.

"We can at least get a drink now," he said. And the children crept
quietly to the noisy little brook not far from the haystack.

"Cup," said Benny.

"No, you'll have to lie down and drink with your mouth," Jess explained.
And so they did. Never did water taste so cool and delicious as it did
that night to the thirsty children.

When they had finished drinking they jumped the brook, ran quickly over
the fields to the wall, and once more found themselves on the road.

"If we meet any one," said Jess, "we must all crouch behind bushes until
he has gone by."

They walked along in the darkness with light hearts. They were no longer
tired or hungry. Their one thought was to get away from their
grandfather, if possible.

"If we can find a big town," said Violet, "won't it be better to stay in
than a little town?"

"Why?" asked Henry, puffing up the hill.

"Well, you see, there are so many people in a big town, nobody will
notice us--"

"And in a little village everyone would be talking about us," finished
Henry admiringly. "You've got brains, Violet!"

He had hardly said this, when a wagon was heard behind them in the
distance. It was coming from Middlesex. Without a word, the four
children sank down behind the bushes like frightened rabbits. They could
plainly hear their hearts beat. The horse trotted nearer, and then
began to walk up the hill.

"If we hear nothing in Townsend," they heard a man say, "we have plainly
done our duty."

It was the baker's voice!

"More than our duty," said the baker's wife, "tiring out a horse with
going a full day, from morning until night!"

There was silence as the horse pulled the creaky wagon.

"At least we will go on to Townsend tonight," continued the baker, "and
tell them to watch out. We need not go to Intervale, for they never
could walk so far."

"We are well rid of them, I should say," replied his wife. "They may not
have come this way. The milkman did not see them, did he?"

The baker's reply was lost, for the horse had reached the hilltop, where
he broke into a canter.

It was some minutes before the children dared to creep out of the bushes
again.

"One thing is sure," said Henry, when he got his breath. "We will not go
to Townsend."

"And we _will_ go to Intervale," said Jess.

With a definite goal in mind at last, the children set out again with a
better spirit. They walked until two o'clock in the morning, stopping
often this time to rest and to drink from the horses' watering troughs.
And then they came upon a fork in the road with a white signpost shining
in the moonlight.

"Townsend, four miles; Intervale, six miles," read Henry aloud. "Any one
feel able to walk six more miles?"

He grinned. No one had the least idea how far they had already walked.

"We'll go that _way_ at least," said Jess finally.

"That we will," agreed Henry, picking up his brother for a change, and
carrying him "pig-back."

Violet went ahead. The new road was a pleasant woody one, with grass
growing in the middle. The children could not see the grass, but they
could feel it as they walked. "Not many people pass this way, I guess,"
remarked Violet. Just then she caught her toe in something and almost
fell, but Jess caught her.

The two girls stooped down to examine the obstruction.

"Hay!" said Jess.

"Hay!" repeated Violet.

"Hey!" cried Henry, coming up. "What did you say?"

"It must have fallen off somebody's load," said Jess.

"We'll take it with us," Henry decided wisely. "Load on all you can
carry, Jess."

"For Benny," thought Violet to herself. So the odd little party trudged
on for nearly three hours, laden with hay, until they found that the
road ended in a cart path through the woods.

"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Jess, almost ready to cry with disappointment.

"What's the matter?" demanded Henry in astonishment. "Isn't the woods a
good place to sleep? We can't sleep in the road, you know."

"It does seem nice and far away from people," admitted Jess, "and it's
almost morning."

As they stood still at the entrance to the woods, they heard the rumble
of a train. It roared down the valley at a great rate and passed them on
the other side of the woods, thundering along toward the city.

"Never mind the train, either," remarked Henry. "It isn't so _awfully_
near; and even if it were, it couldn't see us."

He set his brother down and peered into the woods. It was very warm.

"Lizzen!" said Benny.

"Listen!" echoed Violet.

"More water!" Benny cried, catching his big brother by the hand.

"It is only another brook," said Henry with a thankful heart. "He wants
a drink." The trickle of water sounded very pleasant to all the children
as they lay down once more to drink.

Benny was too sleepy to eat. Jess quickly found a dry spot thick with
moss between two stones. Upon this moss the three older children spread
the hay in the shape of an oval bed. Benny tumbled into it with a great
sigh of satisfaction, while his sisters tucked the hay around him.

"Pine needles up here, Jess," called Henry from the slope. Each of them
quickly scraped together a fragrant pile for a pillow and once more lay
down to sleep, with hardly a thought of fear.

"I only hope we won't have a thunderstorm," said Jess to herself, as she
shut her tired eyes.

And she did not open them for a long time, although the dark gray clouds
piled higher and more thickly over the sleeping children.



SHELTER


When Jess opened her eyes it must have been about ten o'clock in the
morning. She sat up and looked all around her. She could see dimly the
opening where they had come into the woods. She looked around to see
that her family was still safely by her. Then she looked up at the sky.
At first she thought it must still be night, and then she realized that
the darkness was caused by an approaching storm.

"Whatever, _whatever_ shall we do now?" demanded Jess of the air.

She got up and looked in every direction for shelter. She even walked
quite a little way into the woods, and down a hill. And there she stood,
not knowing what to do next.

"I shall have to wake Henry up," she said at last. "Only how I hate to!"

As she spoke she glanced into the forest, and her feet felt as if they
were nailed to the ground. She could not stir. Faintly outlined among
the trees, Jess saw an old freight or box car. Her first thought was one
of fear; her second, hope for shelter. As she thought of shelter, her
feet moved, and she stumbled toward it.

It really was a freight car. She felt of it. It stood on rusty broken
rails which were nearly covered with dead leaves. Then the thunder
cracked overhead. Jess came to her usual senses and started back for
Henry, flying like the wind. He was awake, looking anxiously overhead.
He had not noticed that Jess was missing.

"Come!" panted Jess. "I've found a place! Hurry! hurry!"

Henry did not stop to ask questions. He picked up Benny, telling Violet
to gather up the hay. And then they ran headlong through the thick
underbrush in Jess' wake, seeing their way only too well by the sharp
flashes of lightning.

"It's beginning to sprinkle!" gasped Henry.

"We'll get there, all right," Jess shouted back. "It's not far. Be all
ready to help me open the door when we get there!"

By sheer good fortune a big tree stump stood under the door of the
freight car, or the children never could have opened it. As it was, Jess
sprang on the stump and Henry, pausing to lay Benny down, did likewise.
Together they rolled back the heavy door about a foot.

"That's enough," panted Jess. "I'll get in, and you hand Benny up to
me."

"No," said Henry quietly. "I must see first if any one is in there."

"It will rain!" protested Jess. "Nothing will hurt me."

But she knew it was useless to argue with Henry, so she hastily groped
in the bag for the matches and handed them to her brother. It must be
confessed that Jess held her breath while Henry struck one and peered
about inside the car.

"All's well!" he reported. "Come in, everybody!"

Violet passed the hay up to her brother, and crawled in herself. Then
Jess handed Benny up like a package of groceries and, taking one last
look at the angry sky and waving trees, she climbed in after him.

The two children managed to roll the door back so that the crack was
completely closed before the storm broke. But at that very instant it
broke with a vengeance. It seemed to the children that the sky would
split, so sharp were the cracks of thunder. But not a drop of rain
reached them in their roomy retreat. They could see nothing at all, for
the freight car was tightly made, and all outside was nearly as black as
night. Through it all, Benny slept on.

Presently the thunder grew fainter, and rumbled away down the valley,
and the rain spent itself. Only the drip from the trees on the top of
the car could be heard. Then Henry ventured to open the door.

He knelt on his hands and knees and thrust his head out.

The warm sunlight was filtering through the trees, making golden pools
of light here and there. The beautiful trees, pines and white birches
and oaks, grew thickly around and the ground was carpeted with flowers
and wonderful ferns more than a yard high. But most miraculous of all
was a miniature waterfall, small but perfect, where the same little
brown brook fell gracefully over some ledges, and danced away down the
glen.

In an instant Jess and Violet were looking over Henry's shoulder at the
pretty sight.

"How different everything looks with the sun shining!" exclaimed Jess.
"Things will soon be dry at this rate."

"It must be about noon," observed Henry, looking at the sun. And as he
spoke the faint echo of mill bells in the distance was heard.

"Henry!" said Jess sharply. "Let's _live_ here!"

"Live here?" repeated Henry dully.

"Yes! Why not?" replied Jess. "Nobody uses this car, and it's dry and
warm. We're quite far away. And yet we are near enough to a town so we
can buy things."

"And we're near water," added Violet.

Jess hugged her sister. "So we are, little mouse," she said--"the most
important thing of all."

"But--" began Henry.

"_Please_, Henry," said Jess excitedly. "I could make this old freight
car into the dearest little house, with beds, and chairs, and a
table--and dishes--"

"I'd like to live here, too," said a determined little voice from the
corner, "but I don't want to, unless--"

"Unless what?" asked Henry, panic-stricken.

"Unless I can have my dinner," Benny finished anxiously.

"We'll have something to eat right away, old fellow," said Henry,
thankful it was no worse. For he himself was beginning to see what a
cozy home the car really would make.

Jess cut the last loaf of bread into four pieces, but alas! it was very
dry. The children were so hungry that they tore it with their teeth like
little dogs, but Benny was nearly crying. He did not actually cry,
however, for just at the crucial moment Violet started a funny story
about Cinnamon Bear eating bread crusts out of the ash can.

"He ought to have milk," said Jess quietly to Henry.

"He _shall_ have milk," replied Henry. "I'll go down the railroad track
to the town and get some."

Jess counted out a dollar in ten dimes and handed it to Henry. "By the
time our four dollars are gone, you will have some work to do," she
said.

All the same Henry did not like to begin his trip. "How I hate to leave
you alone, Jess!" he said miserably.

"Oh, don't you worry," began Jess lightly. "We'll have a surprise for
you when you come back. You just wait and see!" And she nodded her head
wisely as Henry walked slowly off through the woods.

The moment he was out of sight she turned to Benny and Violet. "Now,
children," she said, "what do you think we're going to do? Do you know
what I saw over in the sunny part of the woods? I saw some blueberries!"

"Oh, oh!" cried Benny, who knew what blueberries were. "Can't we have
some blueberries and milk?"

"We certainly--" began Jess. But the sentence never was finished, for a
sharp crackle of dry leaves was heard. Something was moving in the
woods.



A NEW HOME


"Keep still!" whispered Jess.

Benny obeyed. The three children were as motionless as stone images,
huddled inside the freight car. Jess opened her mouth in order to
breathe at all, her heart was thumping so wildly. She watched like a cat
through the open door, in the direction of the rustling noise. And in a
moment the trembling bushes parted, and out crawled a dog. He was an
Airedale and was pulling himself along on three legs, whimpering softly.

Jess drew a long breath of relief, and said to the children, "It's all
right. Only a dog. But he seems to be hurt."

At the sound of her voice the dog lifted his eyes and wagged his tail
feebly. He held up his front foot.

"Poor doggie," murmured Jess soothingly, as she clambered out of the
car. "Let Jess see your poor lame foot." She approached the dog
carefully, for she remembered that her mother had always told her never
to touch a strange dog unless he wagged his tail.

But this dog's tail was wagging, certainly, so Jess bent over without
fear to look at the paw. An exclamation of pity escaped her when she saw
it, for a stiff, sharp thorn had been driven completely through one of
the cushions of the dog's foot, and around it the blood had dried.

"I guess I can fix that," said Jess briskly. "But taking the thorn out
is going to hurt you, old fellow."

The dog looked up at her as she laid his paw down, and licked her hand.

"Come here, Violet and Benny," directed Jess.

She took the animal gently in her lap and turned him on his side. She
patted his head and stroked his nose with one finger, and offered him
the rest of her breadcrust, which she had put in her apron pocket. The
dog snapped it up as if he were nearly starved. Then she held the soft
paw firmly with her left hand, and pulled steadily on the thorn with her
right hand. The dog did not utter a sound. He lay motionless in her lap,
until the thorn suddenly let go and lay in Jess' hand.

"Good, good!" cried Violet.

"Wet my handkerchief," Jess ordered briskly.

Violet did so, dipping it in the running brook. Jess wrapped the cool,
wet folds around the hot paw, and gently squeezed it against the wound,
the dog meanwhile trying to lick her hands.

"We'll s'prise Henry, won't we?" laughed Benny delightedly. "Now we got
a dog!"

"To be sure," said Jess, struck with the thought, "but that isn't what I
intended for a surprise. You know I was intending to get a lot of
blueberries, and maybe find some old dishes in a dump or something--"

"Can't we look while you hold the dog?" asked Violet anxiously.

"Of course you can, Pet!" said Jess. "Look over there by those rocks."

Benny and Violet scrambled through the underbrush to the place Jess
pointed out, and investigated. But they did not hunt long, for the
blueberries were so thick that the bushes almost bent over with their
weight.

"O Jessy," screamed Benny, "you never saw so many in your life! What'll
we pick 'em into?"

"Come and get a clean towel," said Jess, who noticed that Benny was
already "picking into" his own mouth.

"But that's just as well," she thought. "Because he won't get so hungry
waiting for the milk." She watched the two children a moment as they
dropped handfuls of the bluish globes on the towel. Then she carefully
got up with her little patient and went over and sat down in the center
of the patch. The berries were so thick she did not have to change her
position before the towel held over a quart.

"Oh, dear," sighed Jess. "I wish I could hunt for some dishes, so we
could have blueberries and milk."

"Never mind tonight," said Violet. "We can just eat a handful of berries
and then take a drink of milk, when Henry comes."

But it was even better than that, for when Henry came he had two bottles
of milk under one arm, a huge loaf of brown bread under the other, and
some golden cheese in waxed paper in his pocket.

But you should have seen Henry stare when he saw what Jess was holding!

"Where in the world--" began the boy.

"He _camed_ to us," volunteered Benny. "He camed for a s'prise for you.
And he's a nice doggie."

Henry knelt down to look at the visitor, who wagged his tail. "It
wouldn't be a bad thing to have a watchdog," said Henry. "I worried
about you all the time I was gone."

"Did you bring some milk?" inquired Benny, trying to be polite, but
looking at the bottles with longing eyes.

"Bless his heart!" said Jess, struggling to her feet with the dog.
"We'll have dinner right away--or is it supper?"

"Call it supper," suggested Henry, "for it's the last thing we'll have
to eat today."

"And then tomorrow we'll start having three meals every day," laughed
Jess.

It was certainly a queer meal, whatever it was. Jess, who liked above
all things to be orderly, spread out the big gray laundry bag on the
pine needles for a tablecloth. The brown loaf was cut by a very excited
little hostess into five thick squares; the cheese into four.

"Dogs don't eat cheese," Benny remarked cheerfully. The poor little
fellow was glad of it, too, for he was very hungry. He could hardly wait
for Jess to set the milk bottles in the center of the table and heap the
blueberries in four little mounds, one at each place.

"I'm sorry we haven't cups," Jess remarked. "We'll just have to drink
out of the same bottle."

"No, we won't," said Henry. "We'll drink half of each bottle, so that
will make at least two things to drink out of."

"Good for you, Henry," said Jess, much relieved. "You and Benny use one,
and Violet and I will use the other."

So the meal began. "Look, Benny," directed Henry. "Eat a handful of
blueberries, then take a bite of brown bread, then a nibble of cheese.
Now, a drink of milk!"

"It's good! It's good!" mumbled Benny to himself all through the meal.

You must not imagine that the poor wandering dog was neglected, for Jess
fed him gently, as he lay in her lap, poking morsels of bread into his
mouth and pouring milk into her own hand for him to lap up.

When the meal was over, and exactly half of each bottle of milk
remained, Jess said, "We are going to sleep on _beds_ tonight, and just
as soon as we get our beds made, we are all going to be washed."

"That'll be fun, Benny," added Violet. "We'll wash our paws in the
brook just the way Cinnamon does."

"First, let's gather armfuls of dry pine needles," ordered Jess. "Get
those on top that have been lying in the sunshine." Jess laid the dog
down on a bed of moss as she spoke, and started energetically to scoop
up piles of the fragrant needles. Soon a pile as high as her head stood
just under the freight-car door.

"I think we have enough," she said at last. Taking the scissors from
Violet's workbag, she cut the laundry bag carefully into two pieces,
saving the cord for a clothesline. One of the big squares was laid
across Benny's hay and tucked under. That was the softest bed of all.
Violet's apron and her own, she cut off at the belt.

"I'll sleep next to Benny," said Henry, "with my head up by the door.
Then I can hear what is going on." A big pile of pine needles was loaded
into the freight car for Henry's bed, and covered with the other half of
the laundry bag.

The remainder of the needles Jess piled into the farthest corner of the
car for herself and Violet. "We'll all sleep on one side, so we can
call it the bedroom."

"What'll be the other side?" inquired Benny.

"The other side?" repeated Jess. "Let me think! I guess that'll be the
sitting room, and perhaps some of the time the kitchen."

"On rainy days, maybe the dining room," added Henry with a wink.

"Couldn't it be the parlor?" begged Benny.

"Certainly, the parlor! We forgot that," agreed Jess, returning the
wink. She was covering the last two soft beds with the two aprons. "The
tops of these aprons are washcloths," she said severely. Then armed with
the big cake of soap she led the way to the brook. The dog watched them
anxiously, but when Jess said, "Lie still," he obeyed. From the moment
Jess drew the thorn from his foot he was her dog, to obey her slightest
command and to follow her wherever she went.

The clean cool brook was delightful even to Benny. The children rolled
up their sleeves and plunged their dusty arms into its waters,
quarreling good-naturedly over the soap, and lathering their stained
faces and necks with it. When they were well rinsed with clear water
they dried themselves with the towel. Then Jess washed both towels
nicely with soap, rinsed them, and hung them on the clothesline of tape,
which she had stretched between two slender birch trees. They flapped
lazily in the wind.

"Looks like home already, Jess," said Henry, smiling at the washing.

The tired children clambered into the "bedroom," Jess coming last with
the wounded dog.

"We'll have to leave the door open, it's so hot," said Henry, lying down
with a tired sigh.

And in less than ten minutes they were fast asleep, dog and all--asleep
at six o'clock, asleep without naming the dog, without locking the door,
without fear, for this was the first night in four that they had been
able to go to sleep _at night_, as children should.



HOUSEKEEPING


The next morning Jess was up before the others, as was fitting for a
little housekeeper. That is, she was first if we except the dog, who had
opened one eye instantly every time his little mistress stirred in her
sleep. He sat watching gravely in the door of the car as Jess descended
to get breakfast. She walked from the little waterfall quite a distance
down the brook, looking at it with critical eyes.

"This will be the well," she said to herself, regarding a small but deep
and quiet basin just below the falls. Below that she found a larger
basin, lined with gravel, with flat stones surrounding it.

"This will be the washtub," she decided. "And now I must go back to the
refrigerator." This was the strangest spot of all, for behind the little
waterfall was a small quiet pool in which Jess had set the milk bottles
the night before. Not a drop of water could get in, but all night long
the cool running water had surrounded the bottles. They were now fairly
icy to the touch. Jess smiled as she drew them out.

"Is it good?" asked Benny's voice. There he sat in the door of the car,
swinging his legs, his arm around the shaggy dog.

"It's delicious!" declared Jess. "Cold as ice." She climbed up beside
him as she spoke, bringing the breakfast with her. The other two
children sat up and looked at it.

"Today, Jess," began Henry, "I will go back to town and try to get a job
mowing lawns or something. Then we can afford to have something besides
milk for breakfast."

Milk suited Benny very well, however, so the older children allowed him
to drink rather more than his share. Henry did not waste any time
talking. He brushed his hair as well as he could without a brush, rolled
down his sleeves, and started for town with the second dollar.

"Glad you've got a dog, Jess," he called back, as he waved his straw
hat.

The children watched him disappear around the curve and then turned to
Jess expectantly. They were not mistaken. Jess had a plan.

"We'll explore," she began mysteriously. "We'll begin here at the car,
and hunt all over these woods until we find a dump!"

"What's a dump?" inquired Benny.

"O Benny!" answered Violet. "You know what a dump is. All old bottles
and papers and broken dishes."

"And wheels?" asked Benny interestedly. "Will there be any old wheels?"

"Yes, maybe," assented Violet. "But cups, Benny! Think of drinking milk
out of a cup again!"

"Oh, yes," said Benny, politely. But it was clear that his mind was
centered on wheels rather than cups.

The exploring party started slowly down the rusty track, with the dog
hopping happily on three legs. The fourth paw, nicely bandaged with
Jess' handkerchief, he held up out of harm's way.

"I think this is a spur track," said Jess. "They built it in here so
they could load wood on the cars, and then when they had cut all the
wood they didn't need the track any more."

This explanation seemed very likely, for here and there were stumps of
trees and decaying chips. Violet took note of these chips, and
remembered them some days later. In fact, both girls kept their eyes
open, and pointed out things of interest to each other.

"Remember these logs, Violet, if we should ever need any," said Jess
pointing.

"Blackberry blossoms!" returned Violet briefly, turning one over gently
with her foot.

"Big flat stones!" remarked Jess, later on, as they came upon a great
heap of them.

Here the track came out into the open sunshine, and broken pieces of
rail showed clearly where it had joined the main track at some time in
the past. And here from the top of the wooded hill the children could
plainly see the city in the valley. They walked along the track, picking
out a church steeple here and there, forgetting for a moment the object
of their search.

"There's a wheel!" Benny cried triumphantly from behind.

The girls looked down, and with a glad cry of surprise Jess recognized a
dump at the foot of the hill. They found it not composed entirely of
ashes and tin cans, either, although both of these were there in great
profusion. It was a royal dump, containing both cups and wheels.

"O Benny!" cried Jess, "if it hadn't been for you!" She hugged him,
wheel and all, and began turning over the rubbish with great delight.

"Here's a white pitcher, Jess," Violet called, holding up a perfect
specimen with a tiny chip in its nose.

"Here's a big white cup," said Jess delightedly, laying it aside.

"Want a teapot, Jessy?" inquired Benny, offering her an enormous blue
enameled affair without a handle.

"Yes, _indeed_!" cried Jess. "We can use that for water. I've found two
cups and a bowl already. And Violet, we ought to be looking for spoons,
too."

Violet pointed without speaking to her little pile of treasures. There
were five iron spoons covered with rust.

"Wonderful!" pronounced Jess with rapture. Indeed, it is doubtful if
collectors of rare and beautiful bits of porcelain ever enjoyed a search
as much as did these adventurers in the dump heap.

Benny actually found four wheels, exactly alike, probably from the same
cart, and insisted upon carrying them back. To please him, Jess allowed
him to add them to the growing pile.

"Here's a big iron kettle," observed Violet. "But we won't really cook
with a fire, will we, Jess?"

"We'll take it back, though," replied Jess with a knowing look. "We can
pile lots of dishes in it."

They could, and did, but not until after Benny had discovered his
beloved "pink cup." It was a tea-party cup of bright rose-color with a
wreath of gorgeous roses on it, and a little shepherdess giving her lamb
a drink from a pale blue brook. It had a perfectly good handle, gold
into the bargain. Its only flaw was a dangerous crack through the lamb's
nose and front feet. Jess made a cushion for it out of grass and laid it
on top of the kettle full of treasures. All the things, even the wheels,
were laid on a wide board which the two girls carried between them.

[Illustration: _Benny discovered his beloved "pink cup"_]

Can you imagine the dishwashing when the gay party returned to the
freight car? Children do not usually care for dishwashing. But never did
a little boy hand dishes to his sister so carefully as Benny did. On
their hands and knees beside the clear, cool little "washtub," the
three children soaped and rinsed and dried their precious store of
dishes. Jess scoured the rust from the spoons with sand. "There!" she
said, drying the last polished spoon. The children sat back and looked
admiringly at their own handiwork. But they did not look long. There was
too much to be done.

"Jess," exclaimed Violet, "I'll tell you!" Violet seldom spoke so
excitedly. Even Benny turned around and looked at her.

"Come and see what I noticed inside the car last night!"

Both children followed her, and peered in at the door.

"See, on the wall, right over on the other door, Jess." Now, all Jess
could see were two thick chunks of wood nailed securely to the closed
door opposite the open one. But she whirled around and around as fast as
she could, clapping her hands. When she could get her breath, however,
she skipped over to the board they had carried, dusted it nicely, and
laid it carefully across the two wooden projections. It was a perfect
shelf.

"There!" said Jess.

The children could hardly wait to arrange the shining new dishes on the
shelf. Violet quietly gathered some feathery white flowers, a daisy or
two, and some maidenhair ferns, which she arranged in a glass vase
filled with water from the "well." This she put in the middle, with the
broken edge hidden.

"There!" said Jess.

"You said 'there' three times, Jessy," remarked Benny, contentedly.

"So I did," replied Jess laughing, "but I'm going to say it again." She
pointed and said, "There!"

Henry was coming up the path.



EARNING A LIVING


Henry had all sorts of packages under his arm and in his pockets. But he
wouldn't open them or tell a thing about his adventures until dinner was
ready, he said. "Jess, you're a wonder!" he exclaimed when he saw the
dishes and the shelf.

The big kettle was selected, and they all began to pick blueberries as
fast as they could, telling Henry meanwhile all about the wonderful
dump. At last the tablecloth was spread and Henry unwrapped his parcels
before the whole excited family.

"I bought some more brown bread," he said, producing the loaves, "and
some more milk--in the same little store where I went yesterday. It's
kept by a little old man, and it's called a Delicatessen Shop. He has
_everything_ in his store to eat. I bought some dried beef because we
can eat it in our fingers. And I bought a big bone for the dog."

"His name is Watch," Jess interrupted.

"All right," said Henry, accepting the name. "I bought a bone for
Watch."

Watch fell on the bone as if he were famished, which indeed he nearly
was.

It was a rapturous moment when Jess poured the yellow milk into four
cups or bowls, and each child proceeded to crumble the brown bread into
it with a liberal scattering of blueberries. And then when they ate it
with spoons! Nobody was able to speak a word for several minutes.

Then Henry began slowly to tell his tale.

"I earned a dollar just this morning," he began proudly. "I walked along
the first shady street I came to--nice houses, you know. And there was a
fellow out mowing his own lawn. He's a nice fellow, too, I can tell
you--a young doctor." Henry paused to chew blissfully.

"He was pretty hot," Henry went on. "And just as I came to the gate, his
telephone rang. I heard it, and called after him and asked if he didn't
want me to finish up."

"And he said he did!" cried Jess.

"Yes. He said, 'For goodness' sake, yes!'" Henry answered smiling. "You
see, he wasn't used to it. So I mowed the lawn and trimmed the edges,
and he said he never had a boy trim it as well as I did. And then he
asked me if I wanted a steady job."

"O Henry!" cried Violet and Jess together.

"I told him I did, so he said to come back this afternoon any time I
wanted, or tomorrow--he said he didn't care just when--any time."

Henry gave his cup a last polish with his spoon and set it down
dreamily. "It's a pretty house," he went on, "and there's a big garden
behind it--vegetable garden. And an orchard behind that--cherry orchard.
You ought to see the cherry trees! Well, when I was trimming the edges
near the kitchen door, the cook came and watched me. She's a fat
Irishwoman." Henry laughed at the recollection.

"She asked me if I liked cookies. Oh, if you had smelled them baking
you'd have died laughing, Benny. Dee-licious! So I said I did, and she
passed me out one, and when she went back I put it in my pocket."

"Did she see you?" asked Jess anxiously.

"Oh, no," said Henry confidently. "For I carefully chewed away for a
long time on nothing at all."

Benny began to look fixedly at Henry's pocket. It certainly was still
rather bulgy.

"When I went, the doctor paid me a dollar, and the cook gave me this
bag."

Henry grinned as he tossed the paper bag to Jess. Inside were twelve
ginger cookies with scalloped edges, smelling faintly of cinnamon and
sugar.

"I'm going to keep track of everything I earn and spend," said Henry,
watching Jess as she handed around the cookies with reverence.

"How are you going to write without a pencil?" asked Jess.

"There are pieces of tailor's chalk in my workbag," said Violet.

Henry gave his younger sister a gentle pat, as she returned with her
workbag and fished for the chalk.

While the girls rinsed the empty dishes in the brook and stored away the
food for supper, Henry was beginning his cash account on the wall of his
bedroom. It was never erased, and Henry often now looks at the account
with great affection.

Soon the girls came to inspect it. Meanwhile Benny looked on with great
delight as Watch tried to bury his bone with only one paw to dig with.

"Earned, $1.00; Cash on hand, $3.85," read Jess aloud.

Below, he had written:

    Milk     .24
    Bread    .10
    Bread    .20
    Cheese   .10
    Milk     .24
    Beef     .20
    Bone     .05
    Cloth    .10

"Cloth!" exclaimed Violet. "What on earth?"

Henry laughed a little, and watched her face as he drew out his last
package and handed it to her.

"I thought we ought to have a tablecloth," he explained. "So I got a
yard at the ten-cent store--but it isn't hemmed, of course."

With a cry of delight Violet unwrapped the brown cloth with its edge of
blue. Her clever fingers were already evening the two ends. She was
never so happy as when with a needle.

Henry set off again with a light heart. Here was one sister curled up
happily against a big tree, setting tiny stitches into a very straight
hem. Here was another sister busily gathering pliant twigs into a bundle
for a broom with which to sweep the stray pine needles from the house.
And here was Benny, curled up sound asleep on the ground with the dog
for a pillow.

It was quite late when Henry returned. In fact, it was nearly seven
o'clock, although he didn't know that. Several treasures had been added
in his absence. The broom stood proudly in the corner with a slim stick
for a handle. The new tablecloth had been washed and was drying on the
line. And Jess, who had decided to wash one garment a day, had begun
with Benny's stockings. When Henry came they were being put on again
with much pride by Benny himself. Violet had darned a big hole in each.

This time Henry himself could not wait to tell his sisters what he had.
He passed them the package at once, with shining eyes.

"Butter!" cried Jess with a radiant face.

It was butter, cool and sweet. Nobody remembered that they had been a
week without tasting either butter or meat when at last they sat down to
their royal supper.

"These are trick spoons," explained Henry. "Turn them upside down, and
use the handle, and they become knives."

They were knives; anyway, they were used to spread the delicious morsels
of butter on the brown loaf. With dried beef, and a cookie for dessert,
who could ask for better fare? Certainly not the four children, who
enjoyed it more than the rarest dainties.

"I washed the doctor's automobile this afternoon," Henry related. "Then
I washed both piazzas with the hose, and tomorrow I'm going to hoe in
the garden. Oh, wouldn't I love to have a nice cold swim in that brook!"

Henry was hot and sticky, certainly. He looked with longing eyes at the
waterfall as he finished the last crumbs of his supper.

"I wonder if we couldn't fix up a regular swimming pool," he said, half
to himself.

"Of course we could," replied Violet, as if nothing were too difficult.
"Jess and I know where there are big logs, and big flat stones."

"You do, hey?" said Henry staring at his gentle little sister.

"Well, why couldn't we, Henry?" struck in Jess. "Just a little below
this there is a sort of pool already, only not big enough."

"We sure could!" cried Henry. "Some day I'll stay home from work, and
we'll see."

Nobody realized that Henry had been working only one day in all. Anyway
it seemed as if they had always lived in the comfortable home in the
freight car, with Henry plying back and forth from the city each day,
bringing them new surprises.

Henry went to bed that night with a head full of plans for damming up
the brook. He almost shouted when he thought suddenly of Benny's wheels.
He began to plan to make a cart to carry the heavy stones to the brook.
And that was when he first noticed that Watch was not asleep. He could
see his eyes shining red in the darkness. It must have been around
eleven o'clock.

Henry reached over and patted his rough little back. Watch licked the
hand, but didn't close his eyes. Suddenly he began to growl softly.

"Sh!" said Henry to the dog. Now thoroughly startled, he sat up; Jess
sat up. They did not hear a sound.

"Better shut the door," breathed Henry. Together they rolled the door
very slowly and softly until it was shut.

Still they did not hear anything. But still Watch continued his uneasy
growling.

Violet and Benny slumbered on. Jess and Henry sat motionless, with their
hearts in their mouths.

"Supposing it was some other tramp," whispered Jess, "somebody else that
wanted to sleep here!"

"Watch would bite 'em," whispered Henry briefly. Jess never knew what
confidence Henry had in the faithful dog.

Then a branch cracked sharply outside, and Watch barked out loud. Jess
smothered the dog instantly in her arms. But it had been a bark and it
was loud, clear, and unmistakable.

"That settles it," thought Henry. "Whoever it is, knows there's someone
in here." And the boy waited with the new broom in his hand, expecting
every moment to see the door opened from the outside.

But nothing happened. Nothing at all. The children sat in perfect
silence for at least a half hour, and nothing more was heard. Watch
sniffed a little when Henry finally rolled the door open again. But he
then turned around three times and lay down beside Jess, apparently
satisfied at last.

Taking the dog's conduct as a sure guide, Henry composed himself for
sleep.

"It must have been a rabbit or something," he said to Jess.

The occupants of the freight car slept peacefully until morning.



AT HOME


Jess and Henry had a short committee meeting next morning before the
others awoke. It was agreed that nobody should be allowed to stray off
into the woods alone, not even the dog. And with much mystery Henry left
some orders with all of them, as to what they should build for him
during the morning.

"What for?" asked Benny.

"Shan't tell, old fellow," teased Henry. "You just build it, and you'll
see later."

So Henry walked briskly through the woods, feeling sure that the noise
in the night had been made by a rabbit.

Having no watch, Henry made a slight mistake by appearing at the young
doctor's door before eight o'clock. He was just in time to meet the
doctor coming in from a night call.

If Henry had not been so eager to begin work, he would have noticed how
the young man's dark eyes examined him from head to foot, even to his
plastered hair, wet with brook water. It was not the doctor who directed
his work, but the doctor's mother--the sweet-faced Mrs. McAllister,
whose heart was centered in her son and her vegetable garden.

Her heart warmed to the boy when she saw how carefully he thinned out
the carrots, which had been sadly neglected.

"I have been so busy," she declared, "that I have actually stayed awake
nights worrying about these carrots. There--see that?" She pulled out a
fairly good-sized carrot as she spoke. It had to come out, for it was
much too near its neighbors. In fact, when Henry had thinned out half a
row he had quite a little pile of eatable carrots, each as large as his
thumb. When Mrs. McAllister saw Henry deftly press the earth back again
around the carrots which remained standing, she left him quietly with a
smile. Here was a gardener whom she could trust.

Henry worked steadily in the hot sun, completing row after row of
carrots, parsnips, and onions. When the mill bells rang at noon he
worked on, without noticing that his employer was again watching him.

When he did at last notice her he asked her, smiling, what she wanted
done with the things he had pulled up.

"Oh, throw them away," she said indifferently. "Toss them over into the
orchard, and sometime we'll burn them when they get dry."

"Do you mind if I take them myself?" asked Henry, hesitatingly.

"Oh, no," said Mrs. McAllister cordially. "Have you chickens? That will
be fine."

Henry was thankful that she went right along without waiting for an
answer. But in a way he did have chickens, he thought.

"You must stop working now," she said. "Any time you want to do
something, there will be a place for you here." She gave him a dollar
bill, and left the delighted boy with the piles of precious little
vegetables. As long as Henry expected to return so soon, he hastily
selected an orderly bunch of the largest of the carrots and the smallest
of the onions. He added a few of the miniature parsnips for good
measure. They looked like dolls' vegetables. When Henry walked down the
drive with his "bouquet," he would have seen a face at the window if he
had looked up. But he did not look up. He was too anxious to get to the
little old man's shop and order his meat.

So it happened that Henry walked in upon his little family at about two
o'clock with all the materials for a feast. The feast could not be made
ready before night, Jess hastened to explain to Benny, who was perfectly
satisfied anyway with bread and milk in his pink cup.

"Your building is done," Benny informed his brother. "I builded lots of
it."

"He really did," agreed Violet, leading the way to the sunny open spot a
trifle behind the house. The "building" was a fireplace. With an
enormous amount of labor, the children had made quite a hollow at the
base of a rock. This was lined completely with flat stones. More flat
stones had been set on end to keep out the wind. On top of the stones
lay the most wonderful collection of firewood that you can imagine, all
ready to light. There were chips and bits of crumpled paper, pine cones,
and dry twigs. Beside the big rock was a woodpile. The children had
apparently been working like beavers all the morning. Jess had found a
heavy wire in the dump, and had fastened it between two trees. On the
wire the kettle swung merrily.

"Fine! Fine!" shouted Henry when he saw it. "I couldn't have done it so
well myself." And he honestly believed it.

"We have dinner at night, here," observed Jess impressively. "What did
you buy?"

When the girls saw the tiny vegetables they began with cries of delight
to cut them from their stalks with Henry's knife and a broken paring
knife. They scrubbed them in the "washtub," filled the kettle half full
of water from the "well," and proceeded in great excitement to cut the
raw meat into cubes. When this had been dropped into the kettle, Henry
lighted the fire. It burned frantically, as if it were trying to
encourage the stew to do its best. Violet laid the tin plate over the
top for a cover, and they all stood by to hear the first bubble. Soon
the savory stuff in the kettle began to boil in good earnest. Watch sat
down gravely near it, and gave an approving sniff at intervals.

"Keep it boiling," advised Henry as he departed again. "When I come home
tonight I'll bring some salt. And for mercy's sake, don't get on fire."

Violet pointed silently at the big teapot. The little girl had filled it
with water in case of emergency. "That's if Benny gets on fire," she
explained--"or Watch."

Henry laughed and went on his way happily enough. He wished he might
share the delightful task of keeping the fire going and sniffing the
stew, but when he found out his afternoon's duties, he changed his mind
abruptly.

"Think you can clean up this garage?" asked Dr. McAllister quizzically
when he appeared.

Henry flashed a look around the place, and met the young man's eyes with
a smile. It did need cleaning rather badly. When its owner purred out in
his high-powered little car, Henry drew a long breath and began in
earnest. He opened all the chests of drawers to begin with. Then he
arranged all the tools in the largest deep drawer, and with a
long-handled brush and a can of black paint that was nearly dry, he
labeled the drawer TOOLS with neat lettering. Another drawer he lettered
NAILS, and assorted its contents into a few of the many boxes that were
lying around. He folded up the robes he found, swept off the shelves and
arranged the oil cans in orderly ranks, sorted out innumerable pairs of
gloves, and then swept the floor. He washed the cement floor with the
hose, and while waiting for it to dry he rinsed his brushes in
turpentine.

To tell the truth, Henry had found a few things in the rubbish which he
had stored in his own pocket. The treasure consisted in this case of a
quantity of bent and rusty nails of all sizes, and a few screws and
nuts.

When Dr. McAllister returned at six o'clock he found Henry corking up
the turpentine and arranging the brushes on the shelf.

"My word!" he exclaimed, staring at his garage with his mouth open. Then
he threw back his head and laughed till his mother came down the walk to
see what the matter was.

"Look at my gloves, Mother," he said, wiping his eyes. "All mated up.
They never met each other before, that I remember."

Mrs. McAllister looked the garage over, and observed the newly labeled
drawers. Her son opened one of them, and looked at his four hammers.

"My tack hammer, Mother," he said, "your tack hammer, and two other
hammers! That last one I never expected to see again. If you can use it,
you may have it, my boy."

Now, it is no exaggeration to say that at that moment if Henry had been
asked what he wanted most of anything in the world he would have
answered without any hesitation whatever, "A hammer."

He accepted it gratefully, hardly able to stand still, so anxious was he
to put it into use on the hill he called home.

"Tomorrow's Sunday," said the doctor. "Shall I see you on Monday?"

"Oh, yes," replied Henry, who had lost all track of the days.

"The cherries need picking," said his new friend. "We could use any
number of cherry pickers, if they were as careful as you." He gave him
an odd look.

"Could you?" asked Henry eagerly. "I'll surely come down."

With that, he bade his friends good-by and started for home, richer by
another dollar, two doughnuts the cook had given him, a pocket full of
crooked nails, and the rest of the vegetables.

When he reached his freight-car home a delicious savor greeted him.

"Onions!" he shouted, running up to the kettle. The cook stood by and
took off the cover and put in the salt. It was absolutely the most
tantalizing odor that Henry had ever smelled. Years afterward Jess tried
to duplicate it with the same kettle, vegetables from the same garden
and all stirred with the same spoon, but it didn't equal this stew in
flavor.

"A ladle, as sure as I live!" gasped Henry. Jess had found a tin cup in
the dump, and fastened on a wooden handle with a bit of wire. And when
she ladled out four portions on four plates of all sizes, some of them
tin, and laid a spoon in each, the children felt that the world held no
greater riches. The tiny onions floated around like pearls; the carrots
melted in your mouth; and the shreds of meat were as tender as possible
from long boiling. A bit of bread in one hand helped the feast along
wonderfully. The little wanderers ate until they could eat no more.

"I have time before dark to make Benny's cart," observed Henry, biting a
crisp, sweet carrot.

"With my wheels?" asked Benny.

"Yes, sir, with your wheels," agreed Henry. "Only, when it's done,
you'll have to cart stones in it."

"Sure," said Benny with satisfaction. "Cart stones or _anything_."

"We'll need it in making the dam," explained Henry for the benefit of
his sisters. "Tomorrow's Sunday, so I shan't work down in the town. Do
you think it's all right to build the pool on Sunday, Jess?"

"I certainly do," replied Jess with emphasis. "We're just building the
dam so we can keep clean. I guess if Sunday is your only day off, it'll
be all right."

Henry's conscience was set at rest as he began with great delight to
hammer out his bent nails. He and Benny ran about finding pieces of wood
to fasten the wheels on. A visit to the dump was necessary at last, in
order to find just the right piece of timber for a tongue, but before it
was too dark to see, Henry had pounded the last nail in place and
trundled the flat cart back and forth just to see it go. The cart seemed
valuable enough to all of them to take into the house for the night. And
Henry could not afford to laugh at Benny for going to sleep with his
hand upon one of his precious wheels, for he himself had tucked his new
hammer under his pillow.



BUILDING THE DAM


Even a hammer makes a good pillow if one is tired enough, and the
freight-car family slept until the nine-o'clock church bells began to
ring faintly in the valley. There were at least a dozen churches, and
their far-away bells sounded sweetly harmonious in so many different
keys.

"They almost play a tune," said Violet, as she listened.

"I like music all right," replied Henry in a business-like way, "but I
for one shall have to get to work."

"This will be a good day to wash all the stockings," said Jess. "We'll
all be wading so much in the brook, anyway."

After breakfast the first thing Henry did was to survey, with critical
eyes, the spot they had chosen for a pool. It was a hollow about three
yards across. There were no stones in it at all.

"It's _big_ enough already," remarked Henry at last, "but it hasn't
enough water in it." He measured its depth with a stick. "We'll have to
guess at inches," he said.

"I have a little tape measure in my workbag," ventured his sister
Violet.

Henry flashed a smile at her. "Is there anything you _haven't_ got in
your workbag?" he asked her.

The children measured the wet stick carefully. The water was just ten
inches deep in the deepest part.

Henry explained his plan of engineering to his sisters. "We will have to
haul some big logs across this narrow part and stuff them from this end
with stones and underbrush. It ought to be three feet deep before we get
through."

"O Henry!" protested Jess. "Benny would get drowned."

"Drowned!" echoed Henry. "How tall do you think he is, anyhow?"

They measured the little boy and found him to be forty-two inches tall.
That settled it; the pool was designed to be three feet in depth.

Luckily the largest logs were not far away; but as it was, it was a
matter of great labor for the builders to drag them to the scene of
operations.

"Let's get all the logs up here first," suggested Jess. "Then we can
have the fun of laying them across."

The two older children dragged all the logs, while Violet and Benny
attended to the stones, with the help of the cart. Occasionally Henry
was called upon to assist with a heavy stone, but for the most part
Benny puffed out his cheeks and heaved the stones himself. In fact,
Henry decided at this point to let Benny drop them into the water as he
gathered them. "Splash 'em right in, old fellow," he directed. "Only
keep them in a nice straight line right across this place between these
two trees. It won't make any difference how wet he gets," he added in an
aside to Jess. "We can dry him in the sun."

Jess thought a little differently, although she said nothing. She took
off Benny's little crinkled blouse and one pair of bloomers, and started
to hang them on the line.

"Good time to wash them!" she exclaimed.

"Let me wash them," begged Violet. "You're more useful building the
dam." There was wisdom in this suggestion, so Jess accepted it
gratefully, and even added Henry's blouse to the laundry.

"When we finish the dam they will surely be dry," she said.

As for Henry, he was only too glad to work without it. "Makes me feel
lighter," he declared.

Rare and beautiful birds came and watched the barefooted children as
they scurried around, building their wall of masonry. But the children
did not have any eyes for birds then. They watched with delighted eyes
as each stone was added to the wall under the clear water, and it began
to rise almost to the surface.

"That makes a solid foundation for the logs, you see," explained Henry
with pride. "They won't be floating off downstream the minute we lay
them on."

Then at last the time arrived when they were to lay the logs on.

"Let's wedge the first one between these two trees," said Jess, with a
happy thought. "Then if each end of the log is on the upper side of the
trees, the harder the water pounds the tighter the dam gets."

"Good work!" exclaimed Henry admiringly. "That's just what we'll do."

But the children were not at all prepared for what happened the moment
the first big log was splashed into its place on top of the stone wall.

The water, defeated in its course down the rocky bed, gurgled and chased
about as it met the opposing log, and found every possible hole to
escape.

"Leaks," said Henry briefly, as the water began to rush around both ends
and pour over the top of the log. "We'll make the logs so thick it
_can't_ get through. We'll lay three logs across, with three logs on top
of them, and three more on top of that."

The children set about stubbornly to accomplish this. Violet held great
sprays of fine underbrush in place until each log was laid. Wetter
children never were seen. But nobody cared. They resolutely plugged the
ends with more stones, more underbrush, and more logs. Each time a leak
was discovered, someone dropped a stone over it. Even Benny caught the
fever of conquering the mischievous water which slipped from their grasp
like quicksilver.

When the three top logs were at last dropped into place, the excited
children sat down to watch the pool fill. This it did slowly.

Finding now no means of exit, the water was quieter. It rose steadily
up the barricade of logs. It widened beautifully. Henry could not sit
still. "It slopes!" he cried. "See how clear it is! And still! See how
still it is!"

And then the water began to overflow the logs. It spilled over the top
with a delightful curve. And on the other side it formed a second
waterfall--not high and narrow and graceful like the natural fall above,
but very low and wide. "Just like a regular mill dam," said Henry.

He held the measuring stick out as far as he could and plunged it into
the water. It lacked an inch of being three feet deep.

"Deep enough," he declared.

In fact it looked so deep that Benny could not conceal a slight fear.

"That's the beauty of the slope," observed Jess. "Benny can wade in just
as far as he wants to, and no farther. We all know what the bed of the
pool is like--no holes or stones."

The girls had to leave to prepare dinner, but Henry could not be
persuaded to leave the wonderful swimming pool. "I'd rather swim than
eat," he said.

Luckily for the children, their supply of provisions was the largest of
any day since their flight. The girls lighted the fire and heated up the
remainder of the stew and cut the bread. The butter, hard and cold in
the refrigerator, was taken out, and four portions cut from it. The two
doughnuts made four half rings for dessert.

The cooks rang the dinner bell. This was an ingenious arrangement hung
on a low branch. It consisted of a piece of bent steel swung on a
string. Violet hit it sharply with another piece of steel. It sounded
deeply and musically through the woods, and the boys understood it and
obeyed at once.

It was evident the moment they appeared that at least three of the
family had been swimming. Watch shook himself violently at intervals,
spattering water drops in all directions. Henry and Benny, fresh and
radiant, with plastered hair and clean dry stockings and blouses,
apparently liked to swim and eat, too.

"You can actually swim a few strokes in it, Jess, if you're careful,"
Henry said, with excusable pride, as he sat down to dinner.

Building a dam is wonderful sauce for a dinner. "I think stew is much
better the second day," observed Benny, eating hungrily.

There remained two more adventures for the eventful day. The girls cut
their hair. Violet's dark curls came off first. "They're awfully in the
way," explained Violet, "and so much trouble when you're working."

They were tangled, too, and Jess cut them off evenly by a string, with
Violet's little scissors. Jess' chestnut hair was long and silky and
nicely braided, but she never murmured as it came off too. The two girls
ran to the brook mirror to see how they looked. The new haircut was very
becoming to both.

"I like you better that way," said Henry approvingly. "Lots more
sensible when you're living in the woods."

Around four o'clock the children took a long walk in the opposite
direction from any of their other explorations. They were rewarded by
two discoveries. One was a hollow tree literally filled with walnuts,
gathered presumably by a thrifty squirrel the previous fall. The other
discovery frightened them a little just at first. For with bristling
back and a loud bark, Watch suddenly began to rout out something in the
leaves, and that something began to cackle and half run and half fly
from the intruders. It was a runaway hen. The children succeeded in
catching the dog and reducing him to order, although it was clear he
liked very much to chase hens.

"She had some eggs, too," remarked Benny as if trying to make pleasant
conversation.

Jess bent over incredulously and saw a rude nest in the moss in which
there were five eggs.

"A runaway hen!" said Henry, hardly believing his eyes. "She wants to
hide her nest and raise chickens."

The children had no scruples at all about taking the eggs.

"Almost a gift from heaven," said Violet, stroking one of the eggs with
a delicate finger. "It wouldn't be polite to refuse them."

Scrambled eggs made a delicious supper for the children. Jess broke all
the eggs into the biggest bowl and beat them vigorously with a spoon
until they were light and foamy. Then she added milk and salt and
delegated Violet to beat them some more while she prepared the fire. The
big kettle, empty and clean, was hung over the low fire and butter was
dropped in. Jess watched it anxiously, tipping the kettle slightly in
all directions. When the butter had reached the exact shade of brown,
Jess poured in the eggs and stirred them carefully, holding her skirts
away from the fire. She was amply repaid for her care when she saw her
family attack the meal. Clearly this was a feast day.

"We shall have to be satisfied tomorrow to live on bread and milk," she
observed, scraping up the last delicious morsel.

But when tomorrow came they had more than bread and milk, as you will
soon see.



CHERRY PICKING


Henry meditated awhile all to himself early the next morning as to
whether he ought to take any one with him for the cherry picking. "He
certainly said he could use more than one," he mused.

Failing to decide the question, he laid it before his sisters as they
ate bread and milk for breakfast.

"I can't see any reason, except one, why we shouldn't all go," said
Jess.

"What's that?" asked Henry.

"Well, you see there are four of us, and supposing grandfather is
looking for us, it will be easier to find four than one."

"True," agreed Henry. "But supposing we went down the hill and through
the streets two by two? And you took Watch?"

It was finally agreed that Henry and Benny would attract very little
attention together; Violet and Jess would follow with the dog, who would
trace Henry. And so they set out. They took down the clothesline and
closed the car door. Everything instantly looked as lonesome as heart
could wish. Even the merry little brook looked deserted.

When the children arrived at the McAllister orchard they soon saw that
they were not the only workers. Two hired men and the young doctor
himself were carrying ladders and baskets from the barn, and the Irish
cook was bringing piles of square baskets from the house--the kind that
strawberries are sold in.

"The girls can pick cherries as well as I can," said Henry, introducing
his sisters. "Benny ought not to climb very tall trees, but we had to
bring him."

"Benny can carry the baskets, perhaps," suggested the doctor, much
amused. "You see, this is a cherry year, and we have to work quickly
when we once begin. Perhaps he could fill the small baskets from the big
ones."

It was a "cherry year," certainly. There were two varieties in the
orchard, the pale yellow kind with a red cheek, and the deep crimson
ones which were just as red in the center as they were on the outside.
The red ones were huge, bursting with juice, and the trees were laden
full with the luscious fruit. Even the air was perfumed.

It was a pretty sight that the doctor finally turned his back upon when
he went on his calls. Henry, slim, tanned, and graceful, picked rapidly
from the tallest ladder in the largest tree. The two girls in their
sensible bloomer suits could climb like cats. They leaned against the
ladders easily about halfway up, their fluffy short hair gleaming in the
sun. Benny trotted to and fro, waiting upon the busy pickers, his cheeks
as red as the cherries themselves.

"Eat all you want," Dr. McAllister called back. They did not really obey
this command, but occasionally a set of white teeth bit into one of the
glorious oxhearts.

In less than an hour Benny had made five firm friends. The hired men
joked with him, the cook petted him, the young doctor laughed at him
delightedly, and sweet Mrs. McAllister fell in love with him. Finally he
seated himself comfortably at her side under the trees and filled square
boxes with great care under her direction.

"I never had such a cheerful crowd of cherry pickers before," Mrs.
McAllister said at last. "I'd much rather stay out here than go into the
house where it is cool."

Evidently Mary the cook felt the same way, for she kept coming to the
orchard for some reason or other. When the doctor returned at lunch time
his orchard was ringing with laughter, and good-natured barks from Watch
who could not feel easy in his mind with his mistress so high up in a
tree where he couldn't follow.

Dr. McAllister paused in the garage long enough to give a sniff to the
boiling cherries in the kitchen, and then made his way to the orchard,
where he received a warm welcome.

"There's no use in your going home to lunch," he smilingly observed, at
the same time watching Henry's face carefully. "You can eat right here
in the orchard, unless your mother will be worrying about you."

This remark met with an astounding silence. Henry was the first to
collect his wits. "No, our mother is dead," he said evenly, without
embarrassment.

It was the doctor who hastened to change the subject he had introduced.
"I smelled something when I came in," he said to Benny.

"What did it smell like?" inquired Benny.

"It smelled like cherry slump," replied the doctor with twinkling eyes.

"Cherry _what_?" asked Jess, struggling down her ladder with a full
basket.

"I think that's what they call it--slump," repeated Dr. McAllister. "Do
you care to try it?"

At this moment Mary appeared in the orchard with an enormous tray. And
at the first sight of her cookery, nobody cared the least what its name
was. It was that rare combination of dumpling beaten with stoned
cherries, and cooked gently in the juice of the oxheart cherries in a
real "cherry year." It was steaming in the red juice, with the least
suspicion of melted butter over the whole.

"Do get two more, Mary," begged Mrs. McAllister, laughing. "It tastes so
much better under the cherry trees!"

This was another meal that nobody ever forgot. Even the two hired men
sitting under another tree devouring the delicious pudding, paused to
hear Benny laugh. Nowadays those two men sometimes meet Henry--but
that's another story. Anyway, they never will forget that cherry slump
made by Irish Mary.

Almost as soon as lunch was over Benny rolled over on the grass and went
to sleep, his head, as usual, on the dog's back. But the others worked
on steadily. Mrs. McAllister kept an eye on them from the screened porch
without their knowledge.

"Just see how those children keep at it," she said to her son. "There is
good stuff in them. I should like to know where they come from."

Dr. McAllister said nothing. He sauntered out into the orchard when he
thought they had worked long enough. He paid them four dollars and gave
them all the cherries they could carry, although they tried to object.

"You see, you're better than most pickers, because you're so cheerful."

He noticed that they did not all leave the yard at the same time.

When the cherry pickers returned to their little home they examined
everything carefully. Nothing had been disturbed. The door was still
shut, and the milk and butter stood untouched in the refrigerator. They
made a hilarious meal of raw cherries and bread and butter, and before
the stars came out they were fast asleep--happy and dreamless.

That evening, very much later, a young man sat in his study with the
evening paper. He read the news idly, and was just on the point of
tossing the paper aside when this advertisement caught his eye:

     Lost. Four children, aged thirteen, twelve, ten and five. Somewhere
     around the region of Middlesex and Townsend. $5000 reward for
     information.

     JAMES HENRY CORDYCE

"Whew!" whistled the young man. "James Henry Cordyce!"

He sat in perfect silence for a long time, thinking. Then he went to
bed. But long after he had gone upstairs he whistled again, and could
have been heard to say-if anyone had been awake to hear it--"James Henry
Cordyce! Of all people!"



THE RACE


The Cordyce Steel Mills stood a little aside from the city of
Greenfield, as if they were a little too good to associate with common
factories. James Henry Cordyce sat in a huge leather chair in his
private office. He was a man nearly sixty years of age whose dark brown
hair was still untouched by gray. He had rather hard lines around his
mouth, but softer ones around his eyes. Printed on the ground-glass top
of his door were these words in black and gold:

    J. H. CORDYCE--President
           _Private_

Once a year J. H. Cordyce allowed himself a holiday. If he had a
weakness, it was for healthy boys--boys running without their hats, boys
jumping, boys throwing rings, boys swimming, boys vaulting with a long
pole. And in company with three other extremely rich men he arranged,
once a year, a Field Day for the town of Intervale. The men attended it
in person, and supplied all the money. This was Field Day.

All through the spring and early summer months, boys were in training
for miles around, getting ready for Intervale's Field Day. And not only
boys, but men also, old and young, and girls of all ages into the
bargain. Prizes were offered for tennis, baseball, rowing, swimming,
running, and every imaginable type of athletic feat. But usually the
interest of the day centered on a free-for-all race of one mile, which
everyone enjoyed, and a great many people entered. A prize of
twenty-five dollars was offered to the winner of this race, and also a
silver trophy cup with little wings on its handles. Sometimes this cup
was won by a middle-aged man, sometimes by a girl, and sometimes by a
trained athlete. Mr. Cordyce smiled about his eyes as he closed his
desk, ordered his limousine, and went out and locked the door of his
office. The mill had been closed down for the day. Everyone attended
Field Day.

Henry was washing the concrete drives at Dr. McAllister's at this
moment. He heard the doctor call to him from the road, so he promptly
turned off the hose and ran out to see what was wanted.

"Hop in," commanded the doctor, not stopping his engine. "You ought to
go to see the stunts at the athletic meet. It's Field Day."

Henry did not wish to delay the doctor, so he "hopped in."

"Can't go myself," said Dr. McAllister. "I'll just drop you at the
grounds. There's no charge for admittance. You just watch all the events
and report to me who wins."

Henry tried to explain to his friend that he ought to be working, but
there was actually no time. And when he found himself seated on the
bleachers and the stunts began, he forgot everything in the world except
the exciting events before his eyes.

Henry had no pencil, but he had an excellent memory. He repeated over
and over, the name of each winner as it appeared on the huge signboard.

It was nearly eleven o'clock when the free-for-all running race was
announced.

"What do they mean--free-for-all?" asked Henry of a small boy at his
side.

"Why, just anybody," explained the boy, curiously. "Didn't you ever see
one? Didn't you see the one last year?"

"No," said Henry.

The boy laughed. "That was a funny one," he said. "There was a college
runner in it, and a couple of fat men, and some girls--lots of people.
And the little colored boy over there won it. You just ought to have
seen that boy run! He went so fast you couldn't see his legs. Beat the
college runner, you know."

Henry gazed at the winner of last year's race. He was smaller than
Henry, but apparently older. In a few minutes Henry had quietly left his
place on the bleachers. When the boy turned to speak to him again, he
was gone.

He had gone, in fact, to the dressing room, where boys of all sizes were
putting on sandals and running trunks.

A man stepped up to him quickly.

"Want to enter?" he asked. "No time to waste."

"Yes," replied Henry.

The man tossed him a pair of white shoes and some blue trunks. He liked
the look of Henry's face as he paused to ask in an undertone, "Where did
you train?"

"Never trained," replied Henry.

"I suppose you know these fellows have been training all the year?"
observed the man. "You don't expect to win?"

"Oh, no!" replied Henry, apparently shocked at the idea. "But it's lots
of fun to run, you know." He was dressed and ready by this time. How
light he felt! He felt as if he could almost fly. Presently the
contestants were all marshalled out to the running track. Henry was
Number 4.

Now, Henry had never been trained to run, but the boy possessed an
unusual quantity of common sense. "It's a mile race," he thought to
himself, "and it's the second half mile that counts." So it happened
that this was the main thought in his mind when the starter's gong
sounded and the racers shot away down the track. In almost no time,
Henry was far behind the first half of the runners. But strangely
enough, he did not seem to mind this greatly.

"It's fun to run, anyhow," he thought.

It was fun, certainly. He felt as if his limbs were strung together on
springs. He ran easily, without effort, each step bounding into the next
like an elastic.

After a few minutes of this, Henry had a new thought.

"Now you've tried how _easy_ you can run, let's see how _fast_ you can
run!"

And then not only Henry himself, but the enormous crowd as well, began
to see how fast he could run. Slowly he gained on the fellow ahead of
him, and passed him. With the next fellow as a goal, he gradually crept
alongside, and passed him with a spurt. The crowd shouted itself hoarse.
The field all along the course was black with people. Henry could hear
them cheering for Number 4, as he pounded by. Six runners remained ahead
of him. Here was the kind of race the crowd loved; not an easily won
affair between two runners, but a gradual victory between the best
runner and overpowering odds. Henry could see the finish-flag now in the
distance. He began to spurt. He passed Numbers 14 and 3. He passed 25,
6, and 1 almost in a bunch. Number 16 remained ahead. Then Henry began
to think of winning. How much the twenty-five dollar prize would mean to
Jess and the rest! Number 16 _must_ be passed.

"I'm going to win this race!" he said quietly in his own mind. "I'll
bet you I am!" The thought lent him speed.

"Number 4! Number 4!" yelled the crowd. Henry did not know that the
fellow ahead had been ahead all the way, and just because he--Henry--had
slowly gained over them all, the crowd loved him best.

Henry waited until he could have touched him. He was within three yards
of the wire. He bent double, and put all his energy into the last
elastic bound. He passed Number 16, and shot under the wire.

Then the crowd went wild. It scrambled over and under the fence,
cheering and blowing its horns. Henry felt himself lifted on many
shoulders and carried panting up to the reviewing stand. He bowed
laughing at the sea of faces, and took the silver cup with its little
wings in a sort of dream. It is a wonder he did not lose the envelope
containing the prize, for he hardly realized when he took it what it
was.

Then someone said, "What's your name, boy?"

[Illustration: _Henry felt himself lifted on many shoulders_]

That called him to earth. He had to think quickly under cover of getting
his breath.

"Henry James," he replied. This was perfectly true, as far as it went.
In a moment the enormous signboard flashed out the name:

    HENRY JAMES No. 4. AGE 13
    WINNER OF FREE-FOR-ALL

Meanwhile the man of the dressing room was busy locating Mr. Cordyce of
the Cordyce Mills. He knew that was exactly the kind of story that old
James Henry would like.

"Yes, sir," he said smiling. "I says to him, 'You don't expect to win,
of course.' And he says to me, 'Oh, no, but it's lots of fun to run, you
know.'"

"Thank you, sir," returned Mr. Cordyce. "That's a good story. Bring the
youngster over here, if you don't mind."

When Henry appeared, a trifle shaken out of his daze and anxious only to
get away, Mr. Cordyce stretched out his hand. "I like your spirit, my
boy," he said. "I like your running, too. But it's your spirit that I
like best. Don't ever lose it."

"Thank you," said Henry, shaking hands. And there was only one in the
whole crowd that knew who was shaking hands with whom, least of all
James Henry and Henry James.



MORE EDUCATION


With twenty-five dollars in his hand, Henry felt like a millionaire as
he edged through the crowd to the gate.

"That's the boy," he heard many a person say when he was forced to hold
his silver cup in view out of harm's way.

When Dr. McAllister drove into his yard he found a boy washing the
concrete drives as calmly as if nothing had happened. He chuckled
quietly, for he had stopped at the Fair Grounds for a few minutes
himself, and held a little conversation with the score-keeper. When
Henry faithfully repeated the list of winners, however, he said nothing
about it.

"What are you going to do with the prize?" queried Dr. McAllister.

"Put it in the savings bank, I guess," replied Henry.

"Have you an account?" asked his friend.

"No, but Jess says it's high time we started one."

"Good for Jess," said the doctor absently. "I remember an old uncle of
mine who put two hundred dollars in the savings bank and forgot all
about it. He left it in there till he died, and it came to me. It
amounted to sixteen hundred dollars."

"Whew!" said Henry.

"He left it alone for over forty years, you see," explained Dr.
McAllister.

When Henry arrived at his little home in the woods with the twenty-five
dollars (for he never thought of putting it in the bank before Jess saw
it), he found a delicious lunch waiting for him. Jess had boiled the
little vegetables in clear water, and the moment they were done she had
drained off the water in a remarkable drainer, and heaped them on the
biggest dish with melted butter on top.

His family almost forgot to eat while Henry recounted the details of the
exciting race. And when he showed them the silver cup and the money they
actually did stop eating, hungry as they were.

"I said my name was Henry James," repeated Henry.

"That's all right. So it is," affirmed Jess. "It's clever, too. You can
use that name for your bank book."

"So I can!" said Henry, delighted. "I'll put it in the bank this very
afternoon. And by the way, I brought something for dinner tonight."

Jess looked in the bag. There were a dozen smooth, brown potatoes.

"I know how to cook those," said Jess, nodding her head wisely. "You
just wait!"

"Can't wait, hardly," Henry called back as he went to work.

When he had gone, Benny frolicked around noisily with the dog.

"Benny," Jess exclaimed suddenly, as she hung her dish towels up to dry,
"it's high time you learned to read."

"No school _now_," said Benny hopefully.

"No, but I can teach you. If I only had a primer!"

"Let's make one," suggested Violet, shaking her hair back. "We have
saved all the wrapping paper off the bundles, you know."

Jess was staring off into space, as she always did when she had a bright
idea.

"Violet," she cried at last, "remember those chips? We could whittle out
letters like type--make each letter backwards, you know."

"And stamp them on paper!" finished Violet.

"There would be only twenty-six in all. It wouldn't be awfully hard,"
said Jess. "We wouldn't bother with capitals."

"What could we use for ink?" Violet wondered, wrinkling her forehead.

"Blackberry juice!" cried Jess. The two girls clapped their hands.
"Won't Henry be surprised when he finds that Benny can read?"

Now from this conversation Benny gathered that this type-business would
take his sisters quite a while to prepare. So he was not much worried
about his part of the work. In fact, he sorted out chips very cheerfully
and watched his teachers with interest as they dug carefully around the
letters with the two knives.

"We'll teach him two words to begin with," said Jess. "Then we won't
have to make the whole alphabet at once. Let's begin to teach him
_see_."

"That's easy," agreed Violet. "And then we won't have to make but two
letters, _s_ and _e_."

"And the other word will be _me_," cried Jess. "So only three pieces of
type in all, Violet."

Jess cut the wiggly _s_, because she had the better knife, while Violet
struggled with the _e_. Then Jess cut a wonderful _m_ while Violet
sewed the primer down the back, and gathered a cupful of blackberries.
As she sat by, crushing the juice from the berries with a stick, Jess
planned the ink pad.

"We'll have to use a small piece of the wash-cloth, I'm afraid," she
said at last.

But finally they were obliged to cut off only the uneven bits of cloth
which hung around the edges. These they used for stuffing for the pad,
and covered them with a pocket which Violet carefully ripped from her
apron. When this was sewed firmly into place, and put into a small
saucer, Jess poured on the purple juice. Even Benny came up on his hands
and knees to watch her stamp the first _s_. It came out beautifully on
the first page of the primer, purple and clean-cut. The _e_ was almost
as good, and as for the _m_, Jess' hand shook with pure pride as she
stamped it evenly on the page. At last the two words were completed. In
fact, they were done long before Benny had the slightest idea his
sisters were ready for him.

He came willingly enough for his first lesson, but he could not tell the
two words apart.

"Don't you see, Benny?" Jess explained patiently. "This one with the
wiggly _s_ says _see_?" But Benny did not "see."

"I'll tell you, Jess," said Violet at last. "Let's print each word again
on a separate card. That's the way they do at school. And then let him
point to _see_."

The girls did this, using squares of stiff brown paper. Then they called
Benny. Very carefully, Jess explained again which word said _see_,
hissing like a huge snake to show him how the _s_ sounded. Then she
mixed the cards and said encouragingly, "Now, Benny, point to
_s-s-s-ee_."

Benny did not move. He sat with his finger on his lip.

But the children were nearly petrified with astonishment to see Watch
cock his head on one side and gravely put his paw on the center of the
word! Now, this was only an accident. Watch did not really know one of
the words from the other. But Benny thought he did. And was he going to
let a dog get ahead of him? Not Benny! In less time than it takes to
tell it, Benny had learned both words perfectly.

"Good old Watch," said Jess.

"It isn't really hard at all," said Benny. "Is it, Watch?"

During all this experiment Jess had not forgotten her dinner. When you
are living outdoors all the time you do not forget things like that. In
fact both girls had learned to tell the time very accurately by the sun.

Jess started up a beautiful little fire of cones. As they turned into
red-hot ashes and began to topple over one by one into the glowing pile,
Jess laughed delightedly. She had already scrubbed the smooth potatoes
and dried them carefully. She now poked them one by one into the glowing
ashes with a stick from a birch tree. Whenever a potato lit up
dangerously she gave it a poke into a new position. And when Henry found
her, she was just rolling the charred balls out onto the flat stones.

"Burned 'em up?" queried Henry.

"Burned, nothing!" cried Jess energetically. "You just wait!"

"Can't wait, hardly," replied Henry smiling.

"You said that a long time ago," said Benny.

"Well, isn't it true?" demanded Henry, rolling his brother over on the
pine needles.

"Come," said Violet breathlessly, forgetting to ring the bell.

"Hold them with leaves," directed Jess, "because they're terribly hot.
Knock them on the side and scoop them out with a spoon and put butter on
top."

The children did as the little cook requested, sprinkled on a little
salt from the salt shaker, and took a taste.

"Ah!" said Henry.

"It's good," said Benny blissfully. It was about the most successful
meal of all, in fact. When the children in later years recalled their
different feasts, they always came back to the baked potatoes roasted in
the ashes of the pine cones. Henry said it was because they were poked
with a black-birch stick. Benny said it was because Jess nearly burned
them up. Jess herself said maybe it was the remarkable salt shaker which
had to stand on its head always, because there was no floor to it.

After supper the children still were not too sleepy to show Henry the
new primer, and allow Benny to display his first reading lesson. Henry,
greatly taken with the idea, sat up until it was almost dark, chipping
out the remaining letters of the alphabet.

If you should ever care to see this interesting primer, which was
finally ten pages in length, you might examine this faithful copy of
its first page, which required four days for its completion:

[Illustration:

    page 1
    See
    me
    See me
    O O See me
    Come
    Come to me
    Come to see me
    cat
    rat
]

Henry always insisted that the rat's tail was too long, but Jess said
his knife must have slipped when he was making the _a_, so they were
even, after all.



GINSENG


What Dr. McAllister ever did before Henry began to work for him would be
hard to guess.

There were certainly as many duties always waiting for him as he had
time to do. And it made no difference to the industrious boy what the
job was. Nothing was too hard or too dirty for him to attempt.

One day the doctor set him at the task of clearing out his little
laboratory. The boy washed bottles, pasted labels, and cleaned
instruments for one whole morning. And more than one broken flask on its
way to the rubbish heap was carefully carried up the hill to the hidden
family.

While Henry was busy carefully lettering a sticky label, he noticed a
young man in the outer office who was talking with the doctor.

"Can you tell me if this is real ginseng?" Henry heard him say.

"It certainly is," returned Dr. McAllister. "They will give you two
dollars a pound for the root at any of the drug stores."

Henry ventured to steal a peep, and found he could readily see the plant
the man was holding. It was about a foot high with branching leaves and
a fine feathery white flower. Henry knew it was exactly the same white
puffball that he had noticed in Violet's vase that very morning.

When the young man had gone, Henry said, "I know where I can find a
whole lot of that plant."

"Is that so?" replied the doctor kindly. "It's only the root, you know,
that is valuable. But any one who wants the bother of digging it up can
sell any quantity of that."

When Henry went home at noon he related enough of this incident to set
his sisters to work in good earnest. They started out with both knives
and two strong iron spoons, and the kettle. And with Benny to run about
finding every white flower he could, the girls succeeded, with a great
deal of hard digging, in finding enormous quantities of ginseng root. In
fact that first afternoon's work resulted in a kettle full, not counting
a single leaf or stem. Henry was delighted when he saw the result of
their work, and took it next day to the largest drug store, where he
received three dollars for the roots.

Without any hesitation Henry paid a visit to the dry-goods store, and
came home with a pair of new brown stockings for Benny. That was a great
day in the woods. Benny gave them no peace at all until they had admired
his wonderful new stockings, and felt of each rib.

There had been one other thing that Benny had given them no peace about.
On the night when the children had crept so quietly away from the
baker's wife, Jess had forgotten to take Benny's bear. This bear was a
poor looking creature, which had once been an expensive bright-eyed
Teddy-bear made of brown plush. But Benny had taken it to bed every
single night for three years, and had loved it by day, so that it was
not attractive to any one but himself. Both eyes were gone, and its body
was very limp, but Benny had certainly suffered a great deal trying to
sleep in a strange bed without his beloved bear.

Jess, therefore, had plans on foot, the moment she saw Benny's new
stockings. She washed the old brown stockings with their many neat
darns, and hung them up to dry. And early in the afternoon she and
Violet sat with the workbag between them, each with a stocking.

With Benny sitting by to watch proceedings, Jess mapped out a remarkable
Teddy-bear. One stocking, carefully trimmed, made the head and body,
while the other furnished material for two arms, two legs, and the
stuffing. Jess worked hard over the head, pushing the padding well into
the blunt nose. Violet embroidered two beautiful eyes in black and
white, and a jet black nose-tip.

"You must make a tail, too, Jessy," said Benny, watching her snip the
brown rags.

"Bears don't have tails, Benny," argued Jess--although she wasn't
exactly sure she was right. "Your old bear didn't have any tail, you
know."

"But _this_ bear has a tail, though," returned Benny, knowing that Jess
would put on two tails if he insisted.

And it was true. His bear finally did have a tail.

"What _kind_ of tail?" asked Jess helplessly at last. "Bushy, long and
slim, or cotton-tail?"

"Long and slim," decided Benny with great satisfaction, "so I can pull
it."

"Benny!" cried Jess, laughing in spite of herself. But she made a tail,
long and slim, exactly as Benny ordered, and sewed it on very tightly,
so that it might be "pulled" if desired. She fastened on the legs and
arms with flat hinges, so the bear might sit down easily, and added at
last a pair of cunning flappy ears and a gay collar of braided red
string from a bundle.

"What's his name, Jessy?" inquired Benny, when the wonderful bear was
finally handed over to him.

"His name?" repeated Jess. "Well, you know he's a _new_ bear; he isn't
your old one, so I wouldn't call him Teddy."

"Oh, no," said Benny, shocked. "This is not Teddy. This has a pretty
tail."

"Of course," agreed Jess, trying not to laugh. "Well, you know we sold
that ginseng to pay for your new stockings. And if you hadn't had your
new ones, we couldn't have made this bear out of your old ones."

"You want his name to be Stockings?" asked Benny politely.

"Stockings? No," answered Jess. "I was thinking of 'Ginseng.'"

"Ginseng?" echoed Benny, thinking deeply. "That's a nice name. All
right, I think Ginseng will be a good bear, if Watchie doesn't bark at
him." And from that moment the bear's name was Ginseng as long as he
lived, and he lived to be a very old bear indeed.



TROUBLE


The days went merrily by for the freight-car family. Hardly a day
passed, however, without some exciting adventure. Mrs. McAllister,
finding out in some way that Violet was a clever seamstress, sent home
fine linen handkerchiefs for her to hem. Each one had a tiny colored
rose in the corner, and Violet was delighted with the dainty work. She
sat sewing daily by the swimming pool while Benny sailed wonderful boats
of chips, and waded around to his heart's content.

The freight-car pantry now held marvelous dishes rescued from the dump;
such rarities as a regular bread knife, a blue and gold soap dish, and
half of a real cut-glass bowl.

Henry proudly deposited thirty-one dollars in the savings bank under the
name of Henry James, and worked eagerly for his kind friend, who never
asked him any more embarrassing questions.

Benny actually learned to read fairly well. The girls occupied their
time making balsam pillows for the four beds, and trying to devise
wonderful meals out of very little material. Violet kept a different
bouquet daily in the little vase. She had a perfect genius for arranging
three purple irises to look like a picture, or a single wood lily with
its leaves like a Japanese print. Each day the children enjoyed a cooked
dinner, filling in the chinks with perfect satisfaction with bread and
butter, or bread and milk, or bread and cheese. They named their queer
house, "Home for Tramps," and printed this title in fancy lettering
inside the car.

One day Jess began to teach Benny a little arithmetic. He learned very
readily that two and one make three.

"I knew that before," he said cheerfully. But it was a different matter
when Jess proposed to him that two minus one left one.

"No, it does not left _one_," said Benny indignantly. "It left _two_."

"Why, Benny!" cried Jess in astonishment. "Supposing you had two apples
and I took away one, wouldn't you have one left?"

"You never would," objected Benny with confidence.

"No, but supposing Watch took one," suggested Jess.

[Illustration: _One day the stranger was allowed to see Violet_]

"Watchie wouldn't take one, neither," said Benny. "Would you, doggie?"

Watch opened one eye and wagged his tail. Jess looked at Violet in
despair. "What shall I do with him?" she asked.

Violet took out her chalk and printed clearly on the outside of the
freight car the following example:

    2 - 1 =

"Now, Benny, don't you see," she began, "that if you have two things,
and somebody takes away one, that you _must_ have one left?"

"I'll show you myself," agreed Benny finally with resignation. "Now see
the 2?" He actually made a respectable figure 2 on the freight car.
"Now, here's a nice 1. Now, s'posen I take away the 1, don't you see the
2's left right on the car?" He covered the figure 1 with his chubby hand
and looked about at his audience expectantly.

Jess rolled over against a tree trunk and laughed till she nearly cried.
Violet laughed until she really did cry. And here we come to the first
unpleasant incident in the story of the runaway children.

Violet could not stop crying, apparently, and Jess soon made up her mind
that she was really ill. She helped her carefully into the car, and
heaped all the pine needles around and under her, making her the softest
bed she could. Then she wet cloths in the cool water of the brook and
laid them across her little sister's hot forehead.

"How glad I am that it is time for Henry to come!" she said to herself,
holding Violet's slender brown hands in her cool ones.

Henry came promptly at the usual time. He thought she had a cold, he
said. And this seemed likely, for Violet began to cough gently while the
rest ate a hasty supper.

"We don't want to let her go to a hospital if we can possibly help it,"
said Henry, more troubled than he cared to show. "If she goes there
we'll have to give her name, and then Grandfather will find us surely."

Jess agreed, and together the two older children kept changing the cool
cloths on Violet's aching head. But about ten o'clock that night Violet
had a chill. She shivered and shook, and her teeth chattered so that
Jess could plainly hear them. Apparently nothing could warm the little
girl, although she was completely packed in hay and pine needles.

"I'm going down to Dr. McAllister's," said Henry quietly. "I'm afraid
Violet is very ill."

Nobody ever knew how fast he ran down the hill. Even in his famous race,
Henry hardly touched his present speed. He was so thoroughly frightened
that he never stopped to notice how quickly the doctor seemed to
understand what was wanted. He did not even notice that he did not have
to tell the doctor which way to drive his car in order to reach the
hill. When the car reached the road at the base of the hill, Dr.
McAllister said shortly, "Stay here in the car," and disappeared up the
hill alone.

When the doctor returned he was carrying Violet in his arms. Jess and
Benny and Watch were following closely. Nobody spoke during the drive to
the McAllister house as they flew through the darkness. When they
stopped at last, the doctor said three words to his mother, who opened
the door anxiously.

The three words were, "Pneumonia, I'm afraid." They all heard it.

Irish Mary appeared from the kitchen with hot-water bottles and warm
blankets, and Mrs. McAllister flew around, opening beds and bringing
pillows. A trained nurse in a white dress appeared like magic from
nowhere in particular. They all worked as best they could to get the
sick child warmed up. Soon the hot blankets, hot water, and steaming
drinks began to take effect and the shivering stopped.

Mrs. McAllister left the sick room then, to attend to the other
children. Henry and Benny were left in a large spare room with a double
bed. Jess was put in a little dressing room just out of Mrs.
McAllister's own room. Upon receiving assurances that Violet was warm
again, they went to sleep.

But Violet was not out of danger, for she soon grew as hot as she had
been cold. And the doctor never left her side until ten o'clock the next
morning. Violet, although very ill, did not have pneumonia.

At about nine o'clock the doctor had a visitor. It was a man who said he
would wait. He did wait in the cool front parlor for over half an hour.
Then Benny drifted in.

"Where _is_ the doctor?" asked the man sharply of Benny.

"He's nupstairs," answered Benny readily.

"This means a lot of money to him, if he only knew it," said the visitor
impatiently.

"Oh, _that_ wouldn't make any difference," Benny replied with great
assurance as he started to go out again. But the man caught him.

"What do you mean by that, sonny?" he asked curiously. "What's he
doing?"

"He's taking care of my sister Violet. She's sick."

"And you mean he wouldn't leave her even if I gave him a lot of money?"

"Yes, that's it," said Benny politely. "That's what I mean."

The visitor seemed to restrain his impatience with a great effort. "You
see, I've lost a little boy somewhere," he said. "The doctor knows where
he is, I think. He would be about as old as you are."

"Well, if you don't find him, you can have me, I shouldn't wonder,"
observed Benny comfortingly. "I like you."

"You do?" said the man in surprise.

"That's because you've got such a nice, soft suit on," explained Benny,
stroking the man's knee gently. The gentleman laughed heartily.

"No, I guess it's because you have such a nice, soft laugh," said Benny
changing his mind. The fact was that Benny himself did not know why he
liked this stranger who was so gruff at times and so pleasant at others.
He finally accepted the man's invitation and climbed into his lap to see
his dog's picture in his watch, feeling of the "nice soft suit," on the
way. The doctor found him here when he came down at ten o'clock.

"Better go and find Watch, Benny," suggested the doctor.

"Perhaps some day I'll come again," observed Benny to his new friend. "I
like your dog, and I'm sorry he's dead." With that he scampered off to
find Watch, who was very much alive.

"I expected you, Mr. Cordyce," said the doctor smiling, "only not quite
so soon."

"I came the moment I heard your name hinted at," said James Cordyce. "My
chauffeur heard two workmen say that you knew where my four
grandchildren were. That's all I waited to hear. Is it true? And where
are they?"

"That was one of them," said the doctor quietly.

"That was one of them!" repeated the man. "That beautiful little boy?"

"Yes, he is beautiful," assented Dr. McAllister. "They all are. The only
trouble is, they're all frightened to death to think of your finding
them."

"How do you know that?" said Mr. Cordyce, sharply.

"They've changed their name. At least the older boy did. In public,
too."

"What did he change it to?"

Dr. McAllister watched his visitor's face closely while he pronounced
the name clearly, "Henry James."

A flood of recollections passed over the man's face, and he flushed
deeply.

"That boy!" he exclaimed. "That wonderful running boy?"

Then events began to move along rapidly.



CAUGHT


"They never will go with you in this world," declared Mrs. McAllister
finally to the distracted grandfather, "unless you give us time to break
the news gradually. And above all, when Violet is so ill."

"Couldn't I see them?" begged the man, almost like a boy. "I could
pretend I was a friend of yours, visiting you, who liked children. I
would promise not to tell them until you consented."

"That might do," said Dr. McAllister. "If they grew to like you before
they knew who you were, it would make things easier, certainly."

So James Henry Cordyce's chauffeur was sent for a gold-monogrammed
suitcase and his young man to wait upon him, and Irish Mary held up her
hands in despair when she learned for whom she must cook.

"Don't you worry, Mary Bridget Flynn," said Dr. McAllister with
emphasis. "You could cook for the King of England! Just make one of your
peach shortcakes for lunch and broil a chicken, and I'll answer for
him."

When lunch time came J. H. Cordyce saw all his grandchildren except
Violet. He smiled with delight when he saw Jess coming down the stairs
in her womanly fashion. Henry shook hands with him before he sat down,
but he kept glancing at the stranger all through the meal.

"Where have I seen that man before?" he thought.

Mrs. McAllister had given the children's names clearly when she
introduced them--Jess, Benny, and Henry. Henry James, she had added. But
she had not added the man's name.

"She forgot," thought Jess. "Because she knows him so well, she thinks
we do."

But although nameless, the stranger caught their attention. He told them
wonderful stories about a steel rail which held up an entire bridge
until the people had time to get off, about his collie dog, about a
cucumber in his garden, growing inside of a glass bottle. Henry was
interested. Benny was fascinated.

"I'd like to see the cucumber," said Benny, pausing in the middle of his
shortcake.

"Would you, indeed?" said Mr. Cordyce, delighted. "Some day, if Mrs.
McAllister is willing, you and I will ride over to my garden and pick
it."

"And we'll bring it to Violet?" asked Benny, waiting breathlessly for an
answer.

"We'll bring it to Violet," agreed Mr. Cordyce, resuming his shortcake.

After lunch he went to sleep in the easy-chair in the doctor's big
office. That is, he threw his head back and shut his eyes, and breathed
very heavily. Jess went through the room once with ice water, humming,
for Violet was better. But the moment she saw the stranger asleep, she
stopped her singing abruptly and tiptoed the rest of the way. Then as
suddenly she turned around and came back, and very carefully shoved a
cushion under the man's feet. It was so gently done that even if he had
been really asleep, he would never have wakened. As it was, he could not
resist opening one eye the slightest crack to see the bright chestnut
hair as it passed out of sight.

"No," he thought to himself, "if she really hated me, she would never
have done that."

But the children were very far from hating him. They liked him
immensely. And when at last, one day, he was allowed to see Violet, and
came softly into her room with a nosegay of fragrant English double
violets, for her, they loved him. He won all their hearts when he patted
her dark head and told her very simply that he was sorry she had been
sick.

It would be hard to say that J. H. Cordyce ever had a favorite
grandchild, but certainly his manner with Violet was very gentle. It was
clear to every one, even to the anxious nurse, that the stranger was not
tiring the sick child. He told her in a pleasant everyday voice about
his garden and his greenhouses where the violets came from--about the
old Swede gardener who always said he must "vater the wi-lets."

"I'd love to see him," said Violet earnestly.

"How long you going to stay here?" Benny piped up.

It was not altogether a polite question, but it was clear to them all
that Benny wanted him to stay, so they all laughed.

"As long as they'll let me, my boy," answered the stranger quietly. Then
he left the sick room, for he knew he should not stay long.

But something in the man's last sentence rang in Henry's ears. He
repeated it over and over in his mind, trying to remember where he had
heard that same voice say "my boy." He made an excuse to work in the
flower beds along the veranda, in order to glance occasionally at the
man's face, as he sat under a tree reading.

Often Henry thought he had caught hold of his truant memory. Then the
man turned his head and he lost it again altogether. But suddenly it
came to him, as the man smiled over his book--it was the man who had
shaken hands with him on the day of the race! And he had said, "I like
your spirit, my boy." That was it.

Henry sat down out of sight and weeded geraniums for a few moments. It
is a wonder he did not pull up geraniums instead of weeds, his mind was
so far away.

"I didn't remember him at first, because I was so jolly excited when he
shook hands with me," decided Henry. Then he was apparently
thunderstruck afresh. He sat with his weeder on his knee and his mouth
open. "He's the man who passed me the cup with the wings!" He stole
another look around the corner, and this satisfied him. "Same man
exactly," he said.

When he had finished the flower bed he thought he heard the young doctor
moving in the office. He stuck his head in the open door. The doctor sat
at his desk, taking notes from a book.

"Do you know who presented the prizes Field Day?" asked Henry curiously.
"Know what his name was?"

"James Cordyce, of the Steel Mills," replied the doctor carelessly. "J.
H. Cordyce--over in Greenfield."

Dr. McAllister, to all appearances, returned to his notes. His eyes were
lowered, at any rate. But for Henry the skies were reeling. He withdrew
his head and sat still on the step. That delightful man his
_grandfather_? It was impossible. He was too young, to begin with. Henry
expected a white-haired gentleman with a cane and a terrible voice. But
all the time, he knew in his soul that it was not only possible, but
really true. He recalled the man's reply to Benny's direct question--he
had said he was going to stay as long as they would let him. Could it be
that the man knew them without introducing himself? A perfect torrent of
thoughts assailed Henry as he sat crouched on the office steps. It was
clear to him now that Mrs. McAllister had failed to mention his name on
purpose. It was a wonder Benny hadn't asked what it was, long before
this. He noticed that the man was getting out of his chair under the
trees.

"It's now or never," thought Henry. "I've got to know!"

He walked eagerly after the man who was going toward the garden with his
back turned. Henry easily caught up with him, breathing with difficulty.
The man turned around.

"Are you James Henry Cordyce of Greenfield?" panted Henry.

"I am, my boy," returned the man with a long look. "Does that question
of yours mean that _you_ know that _I_ know that you are Henry James
Cordyce?"

"Yes," said Henry, simply.

The man's eyes filled with tears, and J. H. Cordyce of the Steel Mills
shook hands for the third time with his grandson, H. J. Cordyce of the
Home for Tramps.



A NEW GRANDFATHER


In less than an hour the town was buzzing with the news. The chauffeur
told the maids and the maids told the grocery man, and the grocery man
went from house to house telling that old James Cordyce had found his
four grandchildren at last. In fact the biggest part of the town knew it
before the children themselves.

Jess and Benny came across the lawn to select some white moonflowers for
Violet's tray. They were just in time to hear Henry say, "But,
Grandfather--"

"Grandfather!" echoed Jess, whirling around to gaze at them.

"Yes, Jess," said Henry eagerly. "He's the man we've been running away
from all this time."

"I thought you was old," observed Benny. "And awf'ly cross. Jess said
so."

"I didn't know, Benny," said Jess turning pink. To think of running away
from this kind friend!

But her grandfather did not seem to mind. He stroked her short silky
hair and proposed that they all go up into Violet's room with the
moonflowers. There was no stopping Benny. He rushed into Violet's room,
dragging his grandfather by one hand, and shouting, "It's Grandfather,
Violet, and he's nice, after all, I shouldn't wonder!"

When Violet at last understood just what Benny was trying to tell, she
was perfectly happy to rest against her ruffled pillows with one hand
curled about her grandfather's arm, and listen to the rest.

"_Where_ have you been living?" demanded Mr. Cordyce at last.

The whole company looked at each other, even Dr. McAllister and his
mother. Then they all laughed as if they never would stop.

"You just ought to see!" observed Dr. McAllister, wiping his eyes.

"What?" said the children all at once. "_You_ never saw it in the
daytime!"

"You don't mean it!" returned the doctor, teasing them. "I have seen it
quite a number of times in the daytime."

"Seen what, in heaven's name?" asked Mr. Cordyce at last.

Then they told him, interrupting each other to tell about the beds of
pine needles, the wonderful dishes, the freight-car roof over all, the
fireplace, and the swimming pool.

"That's where Violet got her bronchitis," observed the doctor, "sitting
by that pool. She shouldn't have done it. I thought so from the first."

"_You_ thought so?" repeated Henry, puzzled. "How did you know she sat
by it? I'm sure I didn't myself."

"I was your most frequent visitor," declared the doctor, enjoying
himself hugely.

"I hope you were our _only_ one," said Jess with her mouth open.

"Well, I think I was," said the doctor. "The first night after Henry
mowed my lawn I followed him as far as the hill to see where he lived."

"Why did you do that?" interrupted Mr. Cordyce.

"I liked his looks," returned the doctor. "And I noticed that he didn't
tell much about himself, so I was curious."

"But you surely didn't see the freight car then," said Jess.

"No, but I came back that night and hunted around," replied Dr.
McAllister.

"At about eleven o'clock!" Henry cried. The doctor assented.

"Our rabbit!" said Henry and Jess together.

"I made as little noise as possible when I saw the freight car. Then I
saw the door move, so I thought some one was inside. And when I heard
the dog bark I was sure of it, and went home."

"But you came back?" questioned Jess.

"Yes, every time I knew all of you were safe in my garden, I made you a
little visit, just to be sure you were having enough to eat, and enough
dishes." The doctor laughed. "When I found you had a strainer, and a
vase of flowers, and a salt-shaker, and a cut-glass punch bowl, I
stopped worrying."

"Didn't you suspect they were my children?" demanded Mr. Cordyce.
"Didn't you see my advertisement? Why didn't you notify me at once?"

"They were having such a good time," confessed the doctor. "And _I_ was,
too. I just wanted to see how long they could manage their own affairs.
It was all tremendously interesting. Why, that boy and girl of yours
are born business managers, Mr. Cordyce!"

Mr. Cordyce took note of this.

"But I don't see, yet, how you knew Violet sat by the pool," said Jess
curiously.

"You couldn't know that, of course," replied the doctor. "I went up
twice when I knew Henry had taken the dog down to my barn to catch rats.
I hid behind the big white rock with the flat top."

"That's Lookout Rock," explained Jess, "where we used to let Benny watch
for Henry. But we didn't hear you."

"No," said Dr. McAllister. "I didn't even snap a twig those times. But I
had the very best time when I went with Mother."

"Have you seen it, too?" cried the children.

"I have, indeed!" returned Mrs. McAllister. "I have even had a drink
from your well."

"Every one has seen it but me," said Mr. Cordyce patiently.

"We'll show it to you!" screamed Benny. "And I'll show you my wheels
made on a cart, and my bed out of hay, and my pink cup!"

"Good for you, Benny," said Mr. Cordyce, pleased. "When Violet gets
well, we'll all go up there, and if you'll show me your house, I'll
show you mine."

"Have you got a house?" asked Benny in surprise.

"Yes. You can live there with me, if you like it," replied Mr. Cordyce.
"I have been looking for you for nearly two months."

Under Mrs. McAllister's wonderful care, Violet soon became strong again.
But she had been skipping around the garden for several days before the
doctor would allow the visit to the freight-car house. When at last the
whole party started out in the great limousine, many people looked out
of their windows to watch after Mr. Cordyce and his grandchildren. Many
of them knew Henry as the boy who won the race, and were glad that he
had found such a friend.

But when the children reached their beloved home they were like wild
things. Watch capered about furiously, taking little swims in the pool
and sniffing at all the dear old familiar things. Mr. Cordyce seated
himself on a rock and watched them all, exchanging a glance now and then
with Mrs. McAllister and her son.

"See our 'building,'" shouted Benny, for that was what he always called
the fireplace. "It burns _really_, too. And this is the well, and this
is the dishpan, and this is the 'frigerator'!"

At last every one climbed into the car itself, and Mr. Cordyce saw the
beds, the cash account on the wall, the wonderful shelf, and each
separate dish. Each dish had a story of its own.

"That's more than my dishes have," observed Mr. Cordyce.

Mrs. McAllister, who knew what his dishes were, was silent.

They ate chicken sandwiches on the very same tablecloth, and Benny drank
from his pink cup, and Watch couldn't understand why they went away at
all.

But it was a trifle cool on the hill now when the sun began to sink, and
after rolling the door shut, they left regretfully.

"Tomorrow," suggested Mr. Cordyce, as they drove home, "will you all
come and see my house?"

"Oh, yes," agreed the children happily, little dreaming what was in
store for them on the next day and all the days to come.



A UNITED FAMILY


Mr. Cordyce had been planning this day for more than a week. He had sent
his most trusted foreman to his own beautiful home, to superintend
matters there. The house was being remodeled entirely, after Mr.
Cordyce's own plans, and everywhere were carpenters, painters and
decorators.

On the very day that Mr. Cordyce received word that it was finished, he
suggested the drive.

"Do you live all alone, Grandfather?" asked Benny.

"All alone," answered Mr. Cordyce. "No company at all." At first Benny
did not consider this the exact truth. He considered a cook company, and
also a butler, and a housekeeper. And when he saw the array of maids he
kept perfectly quiet. The house was enormous, certainly. It was at least
a quarter of a mile from its own front gate--and everywhere were
gardens.

"Do you live _here_?" said Henry, thunderstruck, as they rolled quietly
along the beautiful drive.

"You do, too, if you like it," observed his grandfather, watching his
face.

The inside of the house was more wonderful than even the older children
had ever dreamed. The velvet rugs were so thick and soft that no
footfall could be heard. Everywhere were flowers. The great stairway
with steps of marble rose from the center of the big hallway. But it was
upstairs that the children felt most at home.

Here the rooms were not quite so large. They were sunny and homelike.

"This is Violet's room!" cried Benny. It was unmistakable. There were
violets on the wallpaper. The bed was snow white with a thick quilt of
violet silk. On the little table were English violets, pouring their
fragrance into the room.

"What a beautiful room!" sighed Violet, sinking down into one of the
soft cushioned chairs.

But all the children shouted when they saw Benny's room. The wallpaper
was blue, covered with large figures of cats and dogs, the Three Bears,
and Peter Rabbit. There was a swinging rocking-horse, nearly as large as
a real horse, a blackboard, a tool chest, and low tables and chairs
exactly the right size for Benny. There was an electric train with cars
nearly as large as the little boy himself.

"Can I run the cars all day?" asked Benny.

"Oh, no," replied Henry quickly. "You're going to school as soon as it
begins."

This was the first that his grandfather had heard about school, but he
agreed with Henry, and chuckled to himself.

"The finest schools in the country," he said. This came true, for all
the children finally went to the public schools, and are they not the
finest schools in the country?

In Jess' room Benny discovered a bed for Watch. It was, in fact, a
regular dog's straw hamper, but it was lined with heavy quilted silk and
padded with wool. Watch got in at once, sniffed in every corner, turned
around three times, and lay down.

Just then a distant doorbell rang. It had such a low, musical chime that
the children listened delightedly, never once giving a thought as to who
it might be.

But almost at once a soft-footed servant appeared, saying that a man
wanted to see Mr. Cordyce "about the dog." The moment Jess heard that
word "dog" she was frightened. She had never thought Watch a common
runaway dog, and it always made her uncomfortable to see passers-by gaze
curiously at him as he ran by her side.

"They won't take Watch away?" she whispered to Henry, her breath almost
gone.

"Indeed they will not!" declared Henry. "We'll never, _never_ give him
up."

However, Henry followed his grandfather and Jess with great anxiety.

It was indeed about Watch that the man wanted to talk, and Jess' heart
sank again when she saw the dog jump delightedly upon the man, and
return his caresses with short barks.

"He's a runaway, sir, from my kennels out in Townsend," the man
explained to Mr. Cordyce. "I have two hundred Airedales out there, and
this one was sold the day before he ran away. So you see I have to turn
him over to the lady I sold him to."

"Oh, no, you don't," returned Mr. Cordyce quickly. "I will give you
three times what the dog is worth."

The man glanced around uneasily. "I couldn't do that, sir," he
explained. "You see, it isn't a question of money; it's a question of my
promised word to the lady."

Mr. Cordyce failed to "see." "She can find another dog, among two
hundred Airedales, I guess," he returned. "And, besides, you don't know
positively that this is the right dog."

"Excuse me," replied the man, very much embarrassed, "he's the dog, all
right. He knows me, as you see. His name is Rough No. 3. He has a black
spot inside his ear."

It was too true. Indeed, at the mere mention of his name the dog cocked
an ear and wagged his tail. But he had seated himself as close to Jess
as possible, and licked her hand when she patted him.

But it appeared that Henry could understand the man's position even if
Mr. Cordyce could not. He now put in a timid word of his own.

"If the lady would agree to let the dog go, would you be willing?"

"Sure," said the man, shooting a glance at Henry.

"I almost know any one would let us keep Watch, Grandfather," said
Henry earnestly, "if they knew how much he had done for us."

"I'm sure of it, my boy," returned Mr. Cordyce kindly.

The fact that Henry had been the first to make headway with the dog
fancier, had not escaped him.

But it was clear that Jess would not be able to sleep until the matter
had been settled, so the moment the man had gone, the children set out
from their beautiful new home to the address of the lady who had bought
Watch.

The big car purred along from Greenfield to Townsend in no time. And the
whole family, including Watch himself, trooped up the veranda steps to
interview the lady who held it in her power to break their hearts, or to
make them very happy.

She was not terrible to look at. In fact she was quite young, quite
lively, and very, very pretty. She asked them all to sit down, which
they did gravely, for even Benny was worried about losing "Watchie," his
favorite pillow. He could not wait for his grandfather to begin. He
struggled down from his chair and dashed over to the young lady saying,
in one breath, "You'll let us keep Watchie, please, won't you, because
we want him so bad, and Jess didn't know he was your dog?"

By degrees the lady understood just what dog it was.

"We have had him so long," explained Henry, eagerly, "it would be almost
like letting Benny go away. Watch never leaves us even for a minute,
ever since Jess took the briar out of his foot."

"So you are the children who lived in the freight car!" observed the
lively young lady. "I've heard all about that. How did you like it?"

"All right," replied Henry, with an effort. "But we never could have
done it without Watch. He stayed and looked after the girls while I was
away, and he just thinks everything of Jess."

"Well," said the young lady, laughing, "I can see you're worrying
terribly about that dog. Now listen! I wouldn't take that dog away from
you any more than I'd take Benny! In fact, not so much. I think maybe
I'd like to keep Benny instead."

Benny was apparently quite willing that she should. He climbed into her
lap before any one could stop him, and gave her one of his best bear
hugs. And from that moment they were firm friends. But the children
always spoke of her as the "lady who owns Watch," although Mr. Cordyce
paid for the dog in less time than you can imagine. It made no
difference to the children that Watch was a very valuable dog. They had
loved him when he had not been worth a cent; and now they loved him
more, simply because they had so nearly lost him.

It was a happy and reunited family which gathered around the Cordyce
dining table that evening. The maids smiled in the kitchen to hear the
children laugh; and the children laughed because Watch actually sat up
at the table in the seat of honor beside Jess, and was waited upon by a
butler.



SAFE


Would you ever dream that four children could be homesick in such a
beautiful house as Mr. Cordyce's? Jess was the first one to long for the
old freight car.

"O Grandfather," she said one morning, "I wish I could cook something
once more in the old kettle."

"Go out in the kitchen," said her grandfather, "and mess around all you
like. The maids will help you."

Jess brightened up at once, and flew out into the kitchen, where three
or four maids brought her everything she wanted to cook with.

And Benny was the last one to wish for his old home.

"Grandfather," he said one day, "I wish I could drink this milk out of
my own pink cup!"

This set Mr. Cordyce to thinking. He had plenty of pink cups, it is
true, but none of them were as dear to Benny as his own.

"I think I shall have to surprise you children," said Mr. Cordyce at
last. "But before the surprise comes, perhaps you would like to see
Benny's pony." Then he led the way to the stables. He owned several
beautiful horses already, and nearly a dozen wonderful cars. But nothing
was half so interesting as the pony. He was very small and very fat and
black. His wavy tail was so long that it nearly touched the ground. And
his name was "Cracker," because his birthday fell on the Fourth of July,
when firecrackers were popping.

Benny took a short ride around the stable, being "held on" by a groom.
But the second time around, he said, "Cracker doesn't need you to hold
onto him, I shouldn't wonder," and trotted around with great delight,
without help.

All the others sat down on the fragrant hay to watch him ride.

"What am I going to do when I grow up, Grandfather?" asked Henry.

"You're going to take my place, Henry, as president of the steel mills,"
replied Mr. Cordyce. "You will do it better than I ever have." (And one
day this came true, just as most of Mr. Cordyce's prophecies did.)

"And what am I going to do?" asked Jess, curiously.

"All you children must go to school and then to college. Then you may do
whatever you choose for a living," replied Mr. Cordyce. (This also came
true.)

"Of course I have more than enough money to support us all," went on Mr.
Cordyce, "but if you have something to do, you will be happier." (This
not only came true, but it is always and forever true, all over the
world.)

"Am I going to college tomorrow?" asked Benny, stopping his little pony
in front of the group.

"Not tomorrow, Benny," said his grandfather, laughing. "But I 'm glad
you reminded me. All you children must go over to Dr. McAllister's
tomorrow, and stay while the surprise comes."

"Is the surprise very nice?" asked Benny.

"No, not very," replied Mr. Cordyce with a twinkle.

"Did it cost a great deal?" asked Jess.

"It didn't cost me anything," answered her grandfather. "The only thing
I shall have to pay will be express." (He didn't tell them that the
express cost him several hundred dollars.)

However, next day the children rode gladly over to see the kind doctor.
They stayed until Mr. Cordyce telephoned to them that the surprise was
ready. And then Mrs. McAllister and her son rode back with them in the
big car.

Mr. Cordyce was as happy as a boy. He led the merry little procession
out through his many gardens, past the rose garden, through the banks of
purple asters. Then they came to an Italian garden with a fountain in
the middle, and a shady little wood around the edge. Among the trees was
the surprise. It was the old freight car! The children rushed over to it
with cries of delight, pushed back the dear old door, and scrambled in.
Everything was in place. Here was Benny's pink cup, and here was his
bed. Here was the old knife which had cut butter and bread, and
vegetables, and firewood, and string, and here were the letters for
Benny's primer. Here was the big kettle and the tablecloth. And hanging
on a near-by tree was the old dinner bell. Benny rang the bell over and
over again, and Watch rolled on the floor and barked himself hoarse.

The children were never homesick after that. To be sure, a dull and ugly
freight car looked a little strange in a beautiful Italian garden. But
it was never dull or ugly to the Cordyce children or their dog. They
never were so happy as when showing visitors each beauty of their
beloved old home. And there were many visitors. Some of them were
fascinated by the stories of the wonderful dishes and the shelf. And the
children never grew tired of telling them over and over again.

One summer day, many years afterward, Watch climbed out of his beautiful
padded silk bed, and barked until Henry lifted him into the freight car.
There he lay down on the hard, splintery floor, blinking his eyes in the
sun, and watching the children as they sat studying by the fountain.

"He likes the old home best," said Jess Cordyce, smiling at him and
patting his rough back.

And as Benny would say, if he hadn't grown up, "That's true, I shouldn't
wonder."





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