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Title: Our Little Canadian Cousin
Author: MacDonald, Elizabeth Roberts
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Transcriber's Note: Bold text is surrounded by =equal signs= and italic
text is surrounded by _underscores_.]



Our Little Canadian Cousin



THE

Little Cousin Series

(TRADE MARK)


    Each volume illustrated with six or more full-page plates in
    tint. Cloth, 12mo, with decorative cover,
    per volume, 60 cents


    LIST OF TITLES

    BY MARY HAZELTON WADE
    (unless otherwise indicated)

    =Our Little African Cousin=

    =Our Little Alaskan Cousin=
        By Mary F. Nixon-Roulet

    =Our Little Arabian Cousin=
        By Blanche McManus

    =Our Little Armenian Cousin=
        By Constance F. Curlewis

    =Our Little Australian Cousin=

    =Our Little Brazilian Cousin=
        By Mary F. Nixon-Roulet

    =Our Little Brown Cousin=

    =Our Little Canadian Cousin=
        By Elizabeth R. MacDonald

    =Our Little Chinese Cousin=
        By Isaac Taylor Headland

    =Our Little Cuban Cousin=

    =Our Little Dutch Cousin=
        By Blanche McManus

    =Our Little Egyptian Cousin=
        By Blanche McManus

    =Our Little English Cousin=
        By Blanche McManus

    =Our Little Eskimo Cousin=

    =Our Little French Cousin=
        By Blanche McManus

    =Our Little German Cousin=

    =Our Little Greek Cousin=
        By Mary F. Nixon-Roulet

    =Our Little Hawaiian Cousin=

    =Our Little Hindu Cousin=
        By Blanche McManus

    =Our Little Indian Cousin=

    =Our Little Irish Cousin=

    =Our Little Italian Cousin=

    =Our Little Japanese Cousin=

    =Our Little Jewish Cousin=

    =Our Little Korean Cousin=
        By H. Lee M. Pike

    =Our Little Mexican Cousin=
        By Edward C. Butler

    =Our Little Norwegian Cousin=

    =Our Little Panama Cousin=
        By H. Lee M. Pike

    =Our Little Philippine Cousin=

    =Our Little Porto Rican Cousin=

    =Our Little Russian Cousin=

    =Our Little Scotch Cousin=
        By Blanche McManus

    =Our Little Siamese Cousin=

    =Our Little Spanish Cousin=
    By Mary F. Nixon-Roulet

    =Our Little Swedish Cousin=
        By Claire M. Coburn

    =Our Little Swiss Cousin=

    =Our Little Turkish Cousin=


    L. C. PAGE & COMPANY
    New England Building,      Boston, Mass.

[Illustration: "TWO CHILDREN SAT ON THE GRASS UNDER THE LILACS"

(_See page 2_)]



Our Little Canadian Cousin

By Elizabeth Roberts MacDonald

    _Illustrated by_
    L. J. Bridgman

[Illustration]

    Boston
    L. C. Page & Company
    _Publishers_

    _Copyright, 1904_
    BY L. C. PAGE & COMPANY

    (INCORPORATED)

    _All rights reserved_

    Published July, 1904

    Fifth Impression, June, 1908



Preface


IN "Our Little Canadian Cousin," my intention has been to tell, in a
general way, although with a defined local setting, the story of
Canadian home life. To Canadians, _home life_ means not merely sitting
at a huge fireplace, or brewing and baking in a wide country kitchen, or
dancing of an evening, or teaching, or sewing; but it means the great
outdoor life--sleighing, skating, snow-shoeing, hunting, canoeing, and,
above all, "camping out"--the joys that belong to a vast, uncrowded
country, where there is "room to play."

This wide and beautiful Canadian Dominion possesses, of course, a great
variety of climate and of scenery. To treat at all adequately of those
things, or of the country's picturesque and romantic history, would
require far more scope than is afforded by this one small story.



List of Illustrations


                                                       PAGE

  "TWO CHILDREN SAT ON THE GRASS UNDER THE LILACS"
         (_See page 2_)                       _Frontispiece_

  FREDERICTON                                            22

  IN THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE GROUNDS                        28

  "THE TREE-CLAD SHORES WORE A FAIRY GLAMOUR"            47

  "A GREAT BONFIRE WAS BUILT"                            64

  "NOTHING, DORA THOUGHT, COULD BE MORE BEAUTIFUL
        THAN THOSE WOODS IN WINTER"                      99



Our Little Canadian Cousin



CHAPTER I.


IT was the very first day of the loveliest month in the year. I suppose
every month has its defenders, or, at least, its apologists, but
June--June in Canada--has surely no need of either. And this particular
morning was of the best and brightest. The garden at the back of Mr.
Merrithew's house was sweet with the scent of newly blossomed lilacs,
and the freshness of young grass. The light green of the elms was as yet
undimmed by the dust of summer, and the air was like the elixir of
life.

Two children sat on the grass under the lilacs, making dandelion chains
and talking happily.

Jack, a little fair-haired boy of six, was noted for his queer speeches
and quaint ideas. His sister Marjorie was just twice his age, but they
were closest chums, and delighted in building all sorts of air-castles
together. This afternoon, when she had finished a chain of marvellous
length, she leant back against the lilac-trees and said, with a sigh of
happiness:

"Now, Jack, let's make plans!"

"All right," Jack answered, solemnly. "Let's plan about going to Quebec
next winter."

"Oh, Jackie! Don't let's plan about winter on the first day of June!
There's all the lovely, lovely summer to talk about,--and I know two
fine things that are going to happen."

"All right!" said Jackie again. It was his favourite expression. "I
know one of them; Daddy told me this morning. It's about Cousin Dora
coming to stay with us."

"Yes--isn't it good? She's coming for a whole year, while uncle and aunt
go out to British Columbia,--to make him well, you know."

"I wish she was a little boy," said Jackie, thoughtfully. "But if she's
like you, she'll be all right, Margie. What's the other nice thing you
know?"

"Oh, you must try to guess, dear! Come up in the summer-house; it's so
cosy there, and I'll give you three guesses. It's something that will
happen in July or August, and we are _all_ in it, father and mother and
you and Cousin Dora, and a few other people."

They strolled up to the vine-covered summer-house, and settled down on
its broad seat, while Jack cudgelled his brains for an idea as to a
possible good time.

"Is it a picnic?" he asked at last.

Marjorie laughed.

"Oh, ever so much better than that," she cried.

"Try again."

"Is it--is it--a visit to the seaside?"

"No; even better than that."

"Is it a pony to take us all driving?"

"No, no. That's your last guess. Shall I tell you?"

"Ah, yes, please do!"

"Well,--mother says, if we do well at school till the holidays, and
everything turns out right, she and father--will--take us camping!"

"Camping? Camping out? Really in tents? Oh, good, good!"

And Jackie, the solemn, was moved to the extent of executing a little
dance of glee on the garden path.

"Camping out" is a favourite way of spending the summer holiday-time
among Canadians. Many, being luxurious in their tastes, build tiny
houses and call them camps, but the true and only genuine "camping" is
done under canvas, and its devotees care not for other kinds.

As our little New Brunswickers were talking of all its possible joys, a
sweet voice called them from the door of the big brick house.

"Marjorie! Jack! Do you want to come for a walk with mother?"

There was no hesitation in answering this invitation. The children
rushed pell-mell down the garden path, endangering the swaying buds of
the long-stemmed lilies on either side.

Mrs. Merrithew stood waiting for them, a tall, plump lady in gray, with
quantities of beautiful brown hair. She carried a small basket and
trowel, at sight of which the children clapped their hands.

"Are we going to the woods, mother?" Marjorie cried, and "May I take my
cart and my spade?" asked Jackie.

"Yes, dearies," Mrs. Merrithew answered. "We have three hours before
tea-time, and Saturday wouldn't be much of a holiday without the woods.
Put on your big hats, and Jack can bring his cart and spade, and
Marjorie can carry the cookies."

"Oh, please let me haul the cookies in my cart," said Jack. "Gentlemen
shouldn't let ladies carry things, father says,--but Margie, you _may_
carry the spade if you want something in your hands very much!"

"All right, boy," laughed Marjorie. "I certainly do like something in my
hands, and a spade will look much more ladylike than a cooky-bag!"

The big brick house from which Mrs. Merrithew and the children set out
on their walk stood on one of the back streets of a little New
Brunswick city,--a very small but beautiful city, built on a wooded
point that juts out into the bright waters of the St. John River. Of
this river the little Canadian Cousins are justly proud, for, from its
source in the wilds of Quebec to its outlet on the Bay of Fundy, it is
indeed "a thing of beauty and a joy for ever."

Our little party soon left the streets, went through a wide green space
covered with venerable maples, crossed a tiny stream and a railway
track, and entered the woods that almost covered the low hill behind the
town. Though it was really but one hill, the various roads that
subdivided it gave it various names, some derived from the settlements
they led to, and some from buildings on the way. It was through the
woods of "College Hill" that Marjorie and Jack and their mother
wandered. Being all good walkers, they were soon back of the fine old
college, which stands looking gravely out over the tree-embowered town
to the broad blue river.

When the delicious green and amber shadows of the woods were reached,
little Jack at once began to search for fairies. Marjorie contented
herself with looking for wild flowers, and Mrs. Merrithew sought for
ferns young enough to transplant to her garden.

"I am afraid I have left it rather late," she said at last. "They are
all rather too well-grown to stand moving. But I will try a few of the
smallest. What luck have my chicks had? Any fairies, Jackie?"

Jackie lifted a flushed face from its inspection of a tiny hole in the
trunk of a fir-tree.

"No fairies _yet_, mother; but I think one lives in here, only she won't
come out while I am watching."

Mrs. Merrithew smiled sympathetically. She heartily agreed with the
writer (though she could not remember who it was) who said: "I always
expect to find something wonderful, unheard-of, in a wood."

"In olden days," she said, "people believed that there were beautiful
wood-spirits, called dryads, who had their homes in trees. They were
larger than most fairies, and yet they were a kind of fairy."

"Please tell more about them, mother," said Marjorie, coming up with her
hands full of yellow, speckled adder's-tongue.

"I know very little more, I am sorry to say," their mother answered,
laughing. "Like Jackie with _his_ fairies, I have always hoped to see
one, but never have as yet."

"Are they good things?" Jackie asked, "or would they frighten little
boys?"

"Oh, my dear, they were always said to be kind and beautiful, and rather
timid, more apt to be frightened themselves than to frighten any one
else. But remember, dears, mother did not say there _were_ such things,
but only that people used to think so."

"Please tell us a story about one, mother," Jack pleaded.

But Mrs. Merrithew shook her head.

"We will keep the story for some other time," she said. "Let us have a
cooky now, and a little rest, before we go home."

This proposal was readily agreed to. They chose a comfortable spot where
a little group of white birches gave them backs on which to lean, opened
the precious bag, and were soon well occupied with its crisp and
toothsome contents. Mrs. Merrithew, knowing well that little folk are
generally troubled with a wonderful thirst, had also brought a cup and a
bottle of lemonade. How doubly delicious things tasted in the clear,
spicy air of the woods!

By the time Jack had disposed of his sixth cooky he felt ready for
conversation.

"Mother," he said, "I wish you would tell us all about Dora."

"All about Dora, dearie? That would take a long time, I expect. But it
would _not_ take long to tell you all that I know about her. I have only
seen her twice, and on one of those occasions she was a baby a month
old, and the next time only two years,--and as she is now, I do not know
her at all."

"But--oh, you know, mother--tell us about her father and mother, and her
home, and everything like that. It makes her more interesting," urged
Marjorie.

Mrs. Merrithew saw that she was to be beguiled into a story in any case,
so she smiled and resigned herself to her fate.

"Well, my dears, I know a great many things about Dora's father, for he
is my only brother, and we were together almost constantly until we were
both grown up. Then your Uncle Archie, who had studied electrical
engineering, went up to Montreal, and there secured a good position. He
had only been there a short time when he met a very charming young lady"
("_This_ sounds quite like a book-story," Marjorie here interposed) "by
whom he was greatly attracted. She was partly French, her mother having
been a lady of old French family. But her father was an English officer,
of the strongest English feelings, so this charming young lady (whose
name was Denise Allingham) combined the characteristics--at least all
the best characteristics--of both races. Do you know what that means,
Jackie?"

Jack nodded, thoughtfully.

"I think so, mother. I think it means that she--that young lady--had all
the nicenesses of the French and all the goodnesses of the English."

"That is just it, my dear, and a very delicate distinction, too," cried
his mother, clapping her hands in approval, while Jackie beamed with
delight.

"Well, to continue: Miss Denise Allingham, when your Uncle Archie met
her, was an orphan, and not well off. She was teaching in an English
family, and not, I think, very happy in her work. She and your uncle had
only known each other about a year when they were married."

"And lived happily ever after?" Marjorie asked.

Mrs. Merrithew considered a moment, then:

"Yes, I am sure I can say so," she answered. "They have had some
business troubles, and a good deal of sickness, but still they have been
happy through it all. And they have one dear little daughter, whom they
love devotedly, and who is named 'Dora Denise,' after her mother
and--who else?"

"You, mother, you," both children exclaimed.

"The chief trouble this happy trio has had," Mrs. Merrithew continued,
"has been the delicate health of your uncle. For the last four years he
has not been strong. Twice they have all three gone away for his health,
and now the doctors have ordered him to try the delightful climate of
British Columbia, and to spend at least a year there if it agrees with
him. He needs all his wife's attention this time, and that, my dears, is
why little Dora Denise Carman is coming to spend a year with her New
Brunswick relations.

"And now, chicks, look at that slanting, golden light through the trees.
That means tea-time, and homeward-bound!"



CHAPTER II.


IT was a tired and homesick little girl that Mr. Merrithew helped out of
the coach and led up the steps of his house, about a fortnight after our
story opens. The journey from Montreal had been long and lonely, the
parting from her parents hard, and the thought of meeting the unknown
relatives had weighed upon her mind and helped to make her unusually
subdued. But when the door of the Big Brick House (which had been named
by the neighbours when it was the only brick house on the street, and
the largest one in town) opened, and her aunt's motherly arms closed
around her, while Marjorie's rosy, laughing face and Jackie's fair,
cherubic one beamed on her in greeting, her spirits began to revive.
The greeting was so warm and kind, and the joy at her coming so genuine,
that her fatigue seemed turned, as by magic, to a pleasant restfulness,
and her homesickness was lost in this bright home atmosphere.

Mrs. Merrithew took the little newcomer to her room, had her trunks
settled conveniently, and then left her to prepare for the late tea
which was waiting for them all. When Dora was ready, she sat down in the
little armchair that stood near a table piled with books, and looked
about her contentedly.

There was an air of solid comfort and cosiness about this house that
rested her. This room--which her aunt had told her was just opposite
Marjorie's--was all furnished in the softest shades of brown and blue,
her favourite colours. The carpet was brown, with a very small spray of
blue here and there; the wallpaper was lighter, almost creamy, brown,
with a dainty harebell pattern, and the curtains had a rich brown
background with various Persian stripes, in which blue and cream and
gold predominated. The bed, to her great delight, had a top-piece, and a
canopy of blue-flowered chintz, and the little dressing-table was draped
to match it. Just over the side of the bed was a book-shelf, quite
empty, waiting for her favourite books. While she sat and looked about
in admiration, the door was pushed gently open, and a plump maltese
kitten came in, gazed at her doubtfully a moment, and then climbed on
her lap. Then Marjorie's bright face appeared at the door, and, "May I
come in?" she asked.

"Oh, please do," Dora cried. "Kitty has made friends with me already,
and I think that must be a good omen."

Marjorie laughed, as she patted the little bunch of blue-gray fur in
Dora's lap.

"_Jackie_ has made friends with you already," she said, "and I think
that is a better omen still. He told mother he thought you were 'the
beautifulest girl he ever saw.'"

Dora's eyes opened wide with astonishment. "It is the first time I ever
was called beautiful," she said, "let alone 'beautifulest.' What a dear
boy Jack must be."

Then they both laughed, and Marjorie, obeying one of her sudden
impulses, threw her arms around Dora's neck and gave her a cousinly hug.
"You and I will be friends, too," she said. "I knew it as soon as I
looked at you."

Dora's dark brown eyes looked gravely into Marjorie's blue ones. She
seemed to be taking the proposition very seriously.

"I have always wished for a real friend, or a twin sister," she said,
thoughtfully. "The twin sister is an impossibility, and I have never
before seen a girl that I wanted for a great, _great_ friend. But
you,--ah, yes! You are like my father, and besides, we are cousins, and
that makes us understand each other. Let us be friends."

She held out her hand with a little gesture which reminded Marjorie that
this pale, dark-haired cousin was the descendant of many French _grandes
dames_. She clasped the slender hand with her own plump fingers, and
shook it heartily. So, in girlish romance and sudden resolution, the
little maids sealed a compact which was never broken, and began a
friendship which lasted and grew in beauty and strength all through
their lives.

At the breakfast-table the next morning there was a merry discussion as
to what should be done first to amuse Dora. Jackie, who had invited her
to sit beside him and beamed at her approvingly over his porridge and
cream, suggested a walk to his favourite candy-store and the purchase of
some sticks of "pure chocolate." Marjorie proposed a picnic at Old
Government House. This was approved of, but postponed for a day or two
to allow for preparations and invitations. Mr. Merrithew said "Let us go
shooting bears," but even Jackie did not second this astounding
proposition. As usual, it was "mother" who offered the most feasible
plan.

"Suppose, this morning," she said, "you just help Dora unpack, and make
her thoroughly at home in the house and garden; then this afternoon
perhaps your father will take you for a walk, and show Dora the house
where Mrs. Ewing lived, and any other interesting places. That would do
for to-day, wouldn't it? Then, day after to-morrow we could have the
picnic; and for the next week I have a magnificent idea, but I want to
talk it over with your father," and she nodded and smiled at that
gentleman in a way which made him almost as curious as the children.

"That's the way with mother," Marjorie said to Dora after breakfast.
"She never ends things up. There is always another lovely plan just
ahead, no matter how many you know about already."

And Mr. Merrithew, who overheard the remark, thought that perhaps this
was part of the secret of his wife's unfailing youthfulness both in
looks and spirits.

The walk that afternoon was one which Dora always remembered. Mr.
Merrithew had, as Jackie said, "the splendidest way of splaining
things," and found something of interest to relate about almost every
street of the little city. They went through the beautiful cathedral,
and he told them how it had been built through the earnest efforts of
the well-known and venerated Bishop Medley, who was afterward
Metropolitan of Canada. Then they wandered down the street along the
river, and saw the double house where Mrs. Ewing (whose stories are
loved as much in the United States and in Canada as they are in
England) lived for a time, and where she wrote.

[Illustration: FREDERICTON]

She had called this house "Rika Dom," which means "River House," and had
written in many of her letters of the beautiful river on which it
looked, and the gnarled old willows on the bank just in front of her
windows. These willows she had often sketched, and Dora carried away a
spray of the pale gray-green leaves, in memory of her favourite
story-writer. It was one of Dora's ambitions, kept secret hitherto, but
now confided to Marjorie, to write stories "something like Mrs.
Ewing's."

They saw, too, the picturesque cottage in which a certain quaint old
lady had attained to the ripe age of a hundred and six years,--a record
of which Fredericton was justly proud. This venerable dame had been
addicted to the unlimited eating of apples, and her motto--she was not a
grammatical old lady!--had been (according to tradition), "Apples
never hurts nobody."

They spent some time in the Legislative Library, where was enshrined a
treasure in the shape of a magnificent copy of Audubon's Books of Birds.
Then in the Departmental Buildings, near by, there was a small but
well-arranged museum of stuffed birds and beasts, all Canadian, and most
of them from New Brunswick. There were other things, too, to see, and
many anecdotes to hear, so that it was a somewhat tired, though happy
and hungry party which trudged home just in time for tea.

And such a tea, suited to hearty outdoor appetites born of the good
Canadian air! There were fresh eggs, made into a white and golden
omelette by Mrs. Merrithew's own hands; for even Debby, who had cooked
for the family all their lives, owned that an omelette like Mrs.
Merrithew's she could not manage,--"No, _sir_, not if I was to cook day
and night." There was golden honey in the comb; there was johnny-cake,
hot and yellow and melting in your mouth; strawberry jam that tasted
almost as good as the fresh fruit itself; ginger-cake, dark and rich and
spicy; milk that was almost cream for the children, and steaming
fragrant coffee for their elders.

"It is rather nice to get _good and hungry_," Jackie gravely
observed,--"that is, if you have plenty in the house to eat. I think
life would be very dull without meals."

These philosophical remarks rather astonished Dora, who was not yet
accustomed to the contrast between Jack's sage reflections and his
tender years. Just now they seemed especially funny, because he was
almost falling asleep while he talked. When Mrs. Merrithew saw him
nodding, she rang, and the nurse--who, like Debby, was a family
institution--came in and carried him off in her stalwart arms, to his
little white bed. When his mother stole up a little later to give him a
final good-night kiss, she heard Susan singing and paused at the door to
listen. "Now the day is over" was ended, and then a drowsy voice
murmured:

"Now, Susan, my very favourite song!"

And then Susan sang, in her soft, crooning voice "The maple-leaf, the
maple-leaf, the maple-leaf for ever!"



CHAPTER III.


THE day of the picnic was hot, very hot, for June, but that did not
discourage the younger picnickers at all.

"It will be pretty warm on the river," Mr. Merrithew remarked,
tentatively, as they sat at dinner. The dining-room windows were open,
and the soft air, sweet with the scent of lilacs, blew the white
curtains into the room with lazy puffs.

"It will be so lovely when we get to Government House, though," Marjorie
cried. "There is always a breeze up there, father, and there are plenty
of trees, and three summer-houses, and that big veranda. Oh, I think it
will be perfect."

"Yes, Daddy, I do, too! I think it will be _gorlious_!" said Jackie.

When, after much hurrying about, telephoning to tardy members of the
party, and good-natured discussion as to the arrangement of the
canoe-loads, they were at last afloat on the blue, shining river, they
all agreed with Jack. Dora was charmed with the slender Milicete canoes.
She had seen chiefly canvas and wooden ones. Her father, indeed, had
owned a bark canoe, but it was of much heavier and broader build than
these slim beauties, that glided through the water like fairy craft,
impelled this way or that by the slightest turn of the steersman's
wrist.

[Illustration: IN THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE GROUNDS]

They landed just back of Government House, the grounds of which sloped
down to the water. The house is a long, stone building, with a broad
veranda at the back, and in front nearly covered with Virginia creeper.
At the time of the picnic it was empty, and in charge of a caretaker,
who lived in a small cottage on the grounds. When a suitable spot had
been chosen for tea, and the baskets piled close by, Mrs. Merrithew
proposed an excursion through the house, and Mr. Merrithew went with
Jackie to procure the key. When he returned, they all trooped merrily up
the front steps, and soon were dispersed through the great echoing halls
and lofty rooms. Most of the grown people of the party had danced here
at many a stately ball, for in those days Government House had been kept
up in the good old-fashioned way. Marjorie and Jack delighted in hearing
their mother tell of her "coming out" at one of these balls, and how she
had been so proud of her first train that she had danced without holding
it up, which must have been trying for her partners. Dora was greatly
interested in seeing the room where King Edward, then the slim young
Prince of Wales, had slept, on the occasion of his visit to
Fredericton. When the furniture of Government House was auctioned, a few
years before our story opens, the pieces from this room, which should
have been kept together as of historic interest, were scattered about
among various private purchasers. Mrs. Merrithew described them to Dora,
who wished she could have seen the great bed, so wide that it was almost
square, with its canopy and drapings of rich crimson, and its gilt
"Prince of Wales feathers," and heavy gold cords and tassels.

When they came out of the dim, cool house into the warm air, the elders
looked apprehensively at the heavy black clouds which had gathered in
the west.

"That looks ominous," one of the gentlemen said. "There will certainly
be thunder before night."

Thunder! That was Marjorie's horror! Her round, rosy face grew pale, and
she clung tightly to her mother's arm. The men and matrons held a
hurried consultation, and decided that the storm was probably not very
near, and that it would be safe to wait for tea if they hurried things a
little. It would be a terrible disappointment to the children (all, at
least, but Marjorie!) to be hurried away without "the picnic part of the
picnic." So they all bustled about, and in a short time the cloth was
spread, and well covered with good things. The fire behaved well, as if
knowing the need of haste, and the coffee was soon made, and as
delicious as picnic coffee, by some apparent miracle, generally is. By
the time the repast was over, the clouds had drawn closer, the air was
more sultry, and even the most optimistic admitted that it was high time
to start for home. The canoes were quickly loaded, the best canoe-men
took the paddles, and soon they were darting swiftly down-river, running
a race with the clouds.

In spite of their best speed, however, the storm broke before they
reached their journey's end. The thunder growled and muttered, a few
bright flashes lit up the sultry sky, and just as they landed a
tremendous peal caused the most courageous to look grave, while poor
Marjorie could scarcely breathe from terror. Then the rain came, and the
pretty muslin dresses and flower-trimmed hats looked very dejected
before their wearers were safely housed! Still, no one was the worse for
that little wetting, Marjorie recovered from her fright as soon as she
could nestle down in a dark room with her head in her mother's lap, and
they all agreed with Jackie that it _had_ been "a gorlious time."

Before the children went to bed Mrs. Merrithew told them about the plan
which she had mentioned two days before, and to which Mr. Merrithew had
heartily consented. He was to take a whole holiday, on Thursday of the
following week, and drive them all up to the Indian Village, about
thirteen miles above town, to see the Corpus Christi celebrations.

Corpus Christi, a well-known festival in the Roman Catholic Church, is
one which has been chosen by the Indians for special celebration. As it
comes in June, and that is such a pleasant time for little excursions,
many drive to the Indian Village from Fredericton and from the
surrounding country, to see the Milicetes in their holiday mood.

The day being fresh and lovely, with no clouds but tiny white ones in
the sky, Mr. and Mrs. Merrithew and the three children set off early on
Thursday morning. They had a roomy two-seated carriage, and two big
brisk, white horses, plenty of wraps and umbrellas in case history
should repeat itself with another storm, and an ample basket of
dainties. The road, winding along the river-bank most of the the way,
was excellent, and the scenery Dora thought prettier than any she had
seen. The river was smooth as a mirror, reflecting every tree and bush
on its banks. Little islands, green and tree-crested, were scattered all
along its shining length.

It was almost time for the service when they reached the picturesque
little village which went climbing bravely up its hill to the chapel and
priest's house near the top. The horses were taken charge of by a sedate
young half-breed, evidently proud of his office as the "priest's man,"
and our party at once filed into the chapel. A plain enough little
structure in itself, to-day it was beautiful with green boughs, ferns,
and flowers. The congregation consisted chiefly of Indians and
half-breeds, with a scattering of interested visitors. Most of the
natives were clad in gorgeous finery, some of the older ones having
really handsome beaded suits and beautifully worked moccasins, while
others were grotesque in their queer combination of the clothes of
civilization and savagery. The priest, a tall, good-looking man with
piercing eyes, sang high mass, and then the procession formed. First
came an altar-boy carrying a cross, then six boys with lighted tapers,
and two walking backward scattering boughs. These were followed by the
priest bearing the host and sheltered by a canopy which four altar-boys
carried. These boys were all Indians, and the mild well-featured
Milicete faces had lost their stolidity, and were lit up with an
expression of half-mystic adoration. After them came the congregation,
bare-headed, and singing as they walked. Marjorie and Dora clasped hands
as they followed, their eyes shining with excitement. They went down the
road and entered a schoolhouse not far from the church, where the host
was placed in a little tabernacle of green boughs while the service was
continued. Then the procession re-formed and went back to the church.

After they had disbanded, the Indians scattered to their houses to
prepare for the various other events of the day. Mr. and Mrs. Merrithew
and the children were carried off by the priest (whom Mr. Merrithew knew
well) to have dinner with him in his house near the chapel. The children
stood a little in awe of him at first, but he was so companionable and
kind that they were soon quite at their ease. His mother, who kept house
for him, was evidently very proud of her son, and did her best to
entertain his visitors worthily. The house was rather bare, but clean as
wax and the perfection of neatness, while the repast, spread on the
whitest of linen, was excellent, and not without some rather unusual
dainties,--such as candied fruits of many colours for the children, and
guava jelly brought out especially in Mrs. Merrithew's honour.

After dinner the good father offered to show them through the village,
and they set out together on a tour of inspection. All the full-grown
Indians, the priest told them, were holding a pow-wow in the
schoolhouse, for the purpose of electing a chief. "There is no need of
my being there this afternoon," he said, in answer to Mr. Merrithew's
inquiry; "but this evening, when they have their feast and their
games,--ah, then I will keep my eye on them!"

Evidently this priest held very parental relations toward his people.
The visitors noticed that some boys playing baseball on the green
eagerly referred their disputes to him and accepted his word as final.
He took them into several of the little wooden houses, all of which,
probably in honour of the day, were in splendid order. In one they found
twin papooses, brown as autumn beech-leaves, sleeping side by side in a
basket of their mother's making. In another a wrinkled old squaw had
most dainty moccasins to sell, the Milicete slipper-moccasins, with
velvet toe-pieces beautifully beaded. Mr. Merrithew bought a pair for
each of his party (himself excepted), letting them choose their own.
Mrs. Merrithew promptly selected a pair with yellow velvet on the toes;
Dora's choice had crimson, and Marjorie's blue, while Jackie's tiny pair
was adorned with the same colour as his mother's.

"You see, mother dear," he said quite seriously, "yours are a _little_
larger, so we won't be mixing them up!"

Then, being in a gift-making mood, Mr. Merrithew bought them each a
quaint and pretty basket, besides a big substantial scrap-basket for his
own study, and handkerchief-cases, gorgeous in pink and green, for Susan
and Debby. The small baskets all had broad bands of the fragrant "sweet
hay" which grows on many islands of the St. John, but which very few
white people can find. Dora was much interested in the Milicete women,
with their soft voices and kind, quiet faces. She tried to learn some of
their words, and won their hearts by singing two or three songs in
French, a language which they all understood, though they spoke it in a
peculiar patois of their own.

The bright summer afternoon went all too quickly. Mrs. Merrithew was
anxious to reach home before too late an hour, so at five o'clock, after
tea and cakes, they "reembarked" for the return trip. The horses were
fresh, the roads good, the children just pleasantly tired. As they drove
on and on through magic sunset light and fragrant summer dusk, Dora
thought drowsily that this was a day she would always remember, even if
she lived to be as old as the dame who ate the innumerable apples.

"I will have such lovely things to write to father and mother about,"
she murmured, in sleepy tones,--and those were the last words she said
till the carriage stopped at the door of "the Big Brick House," and she
and Jackie were tenderly lifted out and half led, half carried up the
steps. Then she opened her eyes very wide and looked about her in
wonder.

"Why, I believe I _nearly_ went to sleep for a moment," she said.

And even Jackie woke up enough to laugh at that!



CHAPTER IV.


THE day before they left for camp, Dora received a letter from her
mother, telling something of their surroundings and of the beauties of
the Western land. As the others were keenly interested, she read them
many extracts, which even Jackie enjoyed.

"We are now," her mother wrote, after describing the journey by the
great Canadian Pacific Railway, and speaking encouragingly of the
invalid's condition, "comfortably settled in Victoria--which, as of
course you know, dear, is the capital city of British Columbia. It is a
truly beautiful spot, and the climate is delightful. There are great
varieties of climate, we hear, in this maritime province of the West;
Victoria is supposed to enjoy a very mild and even one, with roses and
geraniums blooming outdoors in December, and the cold weather confined
almost entirely to parts of January and February. There is another
delightful part of the country which we may visit later; it is in one of
the valleys which cut across the Coast Range of mountains. These deep
valleys are entirely shut off from the north winds, and freely admit the
warm breezes from the coast, while the rays of the sun are concentrated
on their steep sides, helping to make, at times, almost tropical
weather. We may spend part of next winter there, as it is even drier
than Victoria, and that is very important for your father. Some of our
new acquaintances have recommended the southern part of Alberta, where
the winter is shortened and made almost balmy by the wonderful chinook
winds--so named from the Chinook Indians, who used to occupy that part
of the country from which they blow. These west winds, coming from the
mountains across the plains, are warm and particularly drying. When they
melt the light and infrequent snowfalls of the winter, they also dry the
ground almost immediately, so that even the hollows and ravines are free
from dampness. Your father is greatly interested in these 'warm
chinooks,' and we are almost sure to try their effect later. Another
pleasure to which we look forward, when he grows a little stronger, is a
trip by boat along the coast. The fiords of British Columbia are said to
resemble those of Norway, and the whole coast, with its wooded shores,
snowy mountain-peaks, and flashing cataracts, is marvellously
beautiful."

Dora went to sleep that night with her mother's letter under her pillow,
and dreamt that they were camping out on the shore of a British
Columbian fiord, when a warm wind came and blew all the tents into
little boats, in which they went sailing away to some wonderful country,
where no one would ever be sick, and where no winds blew but balmy west
ones. She had nearly reached the land, when a soft touch woke her, and
she found Marjorie's happy face bending over her.

"Hurry up, dear! Hurrah for camp! We want to start by ten at the latest,
and it is seven now, and such a perfect day. Mother says we can take
Kitty with us; won't that be fun?"

And Marjorie was off without waiting for an answer. Dora heard her
singing, laughing, chatting, as she flashed here and there, helping and
hindering in about equal proportions.

The whole house was filled with the pleasant bustle of preparation. Mr.
Merrithew was as much of a boy, in the matter of high spirits, as the
youngest of the party. Mrs. Merrithew, blithe and serene, had
everything perfectly planned, and engineered the carrying out of the
plans with quiet skill. It was she who remembered where everything was,
thought of everything that ought to be taken, and saw that every one of
the party was properly clad. The party, by the way, was quite a large
one, consisting of another whole family (the Greys) besides the
Merrithews, Will Graham, a young collegian who was a friend of Mr.
Merrithew's, and Miss Covert, a rather delicate and very quiet little
school-teacher whom Mrs. Merrithew had taken under her wing from sheer
kindness, but who proved a charming addition to the party. The Greys
were six in number: Doctor Grey, a grave professor; Mrs. Grey, a tiny,
vivacious brunette, who had been Mrs. Merrithew's "chum" since their
schoolgirl days; Carl and Hugh, twin boys of fourteen; and two girls,
Edith, just Jackie's age, and Alice, so much older than the rest that
she was "almost grown-up," and Marjorie and Dora looked upon her with
admiring awe.

Doctor Grey, both mammas, Susan (who was to do the cooking, as Debby did
not dare venture on anything so wild as sleeping out-of-doors), Jackie,
little Edith Grey, and all the provisions, tents, and bedding, were to
go by stage, while Mr. Merrithew, Will Graham, and the twins were to
divide the charge of three canoes and the four girls.

At ten o'clock the big lumbering stage rattled up to the door, and the
canoeists saw the others properly packed and waved them a cheerful
adieu. Then they gathered up paddles, wraps, and lunch-baskets, and
hastened gaily off to the boat-house on the river-bank. Here the work of
embarking was quickly accomplished, and the four slender birches shot
out into the stream, turned, and swept upward, propelled against the
current by vigorous arms.

"Please sing, Daddy," Marjorie begged, and Mr. Merrithew promptly began
an old favourite, but could get no further than the first verse.

    "In the days when we went gypsying,
       A long time ago,
     The lads and lasses in their best
       Were dressed from top to toe--"

So far he sang, and then declared that both memory and breath had given
out, and that the ladies, who had no work to do, must forthwith provide
the music. After a little hesitation and some coaxing from Marjorie,
Dora sang, in a clear, sweet treble, the well-known and much-loved "En
Roulant ma Boule" ("Rolling My Ball"). Then some one started "Tenting on
the Old Camp Ground," and all, even the paddlers, joined in, the little
school-teacher providing a rich alto that took them all by surprise.

[Illustration: "THE TREE-CLAD SHORES WORE A FAIRY GLAMOUR"]

The river was deep-blue, reflecting the little clouds that floated in
the azure overhead. Near the town the river was very broad; as they
forged upward, it gradually narrowed, and was thickly studded with
islands. They passed Government House, left the ruined Hermitage behind,
and then began to feel that they were at last out of civilization, and
nearing the goal of summer quiet that they sought. It was slow work,
this paddling against the current, but the time went in a sort of
enchanted way; the tree-clad shores wore a fairy glamour, and the
islands, where masses of grape-vine and clematis were tangled over the
bushes, might have been each the home of an enchanted princess, a dryad,
or any of the many "fair forms of old romance." When about five miles
had been covered, they heard the rush of water hurrying over shallows
and nagging at the rocks. This was what the children delighted to call
"The Rapids," but old canoemen simply dubbed it "a stretch of swift
water." But by whichever name it went, it called for strong and skilful
paddling, and Mr. Merrithew proposed that, before they undertook it,
they should land and fortify themselves with lunch. This suggestion met
with great favour; the canoes were swiftly beached, and soon a merry
little picnic party sat under a clump of gray shore-willows, while
sandwiches, tarts, and cakes of many kinds, vanished as if by magic.
Success to the camp was drunk in lemonade--_not_ ice-cold--and speeches
were made that proved the good spirits, if not the oratorical gifts, of
the group.

They rested here for an hour, for one of the camp mottoes was, "Time was
made for slaves," and they knew that the ones who had gone on by stage
were resting comfortably in a farmhouse, just opposite their
destination, till the canoeing party should come to ferry them over. The
farmhouse was owned by old friends with whom Mrs. Merrithew and Mrs.
Grey would be glad to spend a little time, and for Jack and Edith the
whole place would be full of wonders.

When it came to actually facing the rapids, Dora's heart failed her; her
cheeks paled, and her eyes grew very large and dark; but she held on
tight to both sides of the canoe, fixed her eyes on Marjorie's back, and
said not a word. She tried hard not to see the swirling water and the
scowling rocks, but no effort could shut out the confused seething
noises that made her feel as if nothing in the world was stable or
solid. When at last the rush was over, the sounds grew softer, and the
triumphant canoemen drew their good craft in to shore, and paused to
rest their tired muscles, Dora gave a deep sigh of relief.

Marjorie turned a beaming face to see what ever was the matter.

"_Frightened_, dear?" she said. "I forgot that you have not had much
canoeing. It's too bad."

But Dora laughed, and the colour came back to her face.

"I ought not to mind," she said, "for I have shot the Lachine Rapids.
But I think being in a large boat gives one a feeling of safety. I know
I wasn't half so afraid then as I was to-day. It seemed to me there was
nothing between me and the dreadful confusion."

"Shooting the Lachine Rapids is a great experience," Mr. Merrithew said.
"I must confess I would not like to try those in a canoe, as Champlain
did! But now, boys, let us set off briskly, or we won't get things
comfortable before night."

And they did hurry, but for all their speed it was nearly dusk by the
time the five white tents were pitched on Saunder's Island. This was a
fairly large island, ringed by a sandy beach from which the ground rose
steeply to a green bank on which elms, white birches, and maples stood,
with a tangle of raspberry-bushes, and flowering shrubs among them.
Inside the belt of trees was a broad sweep of rich meadow-land, with
here and there a row of feathery elms or a cluster of choke-cherry-trees.
Toward the upper end of the island stood an old stone house, empty and
almost a ruin; not far from this house were two barns, kept in good
repair for the storing of the sweet island hay.

The tents were pitched about a hundred yards from the house, just inside
the tall bordering trees, so that part of the day they would be in the
shade. These trees, too, would make ideal places for slinging the
numerous hammocks which Mrs. Merrithew and Mrs. Grey had brought.

Dora and Marjorie greatly enjoyed watching the speed with which the
tent-poles--two stout uprights and a horizontal ridge-pole--were got
into position, and the skill with which the white canvas was spread
over them and stretched and pegged down and made into a cosy shelter.
There was a tiny "A tent" tucked away in the shadiest spot for the
provisions, and a large tent in a central position which Mr. Grey named
"Rainy-Day House," and which was to be used as dining-room and parlour
in case of severe rains; then the other three were called respectively,
"The Chaperons' Tent," "The Boys' Tent," and "The Girls' Tent."

The chaperons' abode was inhabited by Mrs. Merrithew, Mrs. Grey, Susan,
Jackie, Edith, and the kitten; "The Boys' Tent" was well filled by Mr.
Merrithew and Doctor Grey (who insisted on being boys for the occasion),
Will Graham, and the twins; and "The Girls' Tent" sheltered Miss
Katherine Covert, Alice Grey, Marjorie, and Dora. The beds were of hay,
liberally provided by the friendly farmer,--the owner, by the way, of
island, house, and barns. Under each bed was spread either a rubber
sheet or a piece of table oilcloth, then over the hay a thick gray
blanket was laid. There was another thick blanket to wrap around each
person, and still another to put over him, or her, as the case might be.
In the chaperons' tent only were they more luxurious; there, two large
mattresses took the place of the hay, and made a delightfully
comfortable couch for three grown-ups and two children.

While the tents and beds were being attended to, Susan, with a little
help from Mrs. Merrithew, had succeeded in getting tea without waiting
for any sort of a fireplace to be constructed.

She was rather anxious about the reception of this first meal, as it had
been cooked under difficulties. But when she saw the speed with which
her fried beans disappeared, and found Mrs. Grey taking a third cup of
tea, her spirits rose, and she decided that campers were thoroughly
satisfactory people for whom to cook!

After tea was over, and all the dishes were washed, one of the old
campers proposed the usual big bonfire, whereby to sit and sing, but
every one was too sleepy, and it was unanimously resolved that just this
once the delightful evening of song and story must be omitted. Hearty
"good-nights" were exchanged, and soon each tent for a brief while
shone, like that in the "Princess," "lamp-lit from the inner,"--to be
more absolutely accurate, lantern-lit; but what is a trifle of one word,
that it should be allowed to spoil a quotation?

Then gently, sweetly, silence settled down over the little encampment;
silence, save for the soft murmur of the river in its sleep, and
sometimes the drowsy chirping of a bird among the branches.



CHAPTER V.


JACK was the first to wake in the delicious stillness of the morning.
When his mother opened her eyes a little later, she found him sitting up
beside her with a look of delight and wonder on his face.

"The river talks in its sleep," he said, leaning over her with shining
eyes.

"What does it say, Jackie-boy?" Mrs. Merrithew asked.

"I don't know the words,--yet," he answered, "but I will some day."

"Yes, I believe you will, dear," his mother said, with a smile and a
sigh, for she firmly believed that her boy, with his vivid imagination
and quick apprehension, had the life of a poet before him.

Just then a shout from the boys' tent proclaimed that the twins were
awake; then Mr. Merrithew's cheery voice was heard, and soon the camp
was alive with greetings and laughter. Under Mr. Merrithew's direction
(and with his active assistance), a cooking-place was soon made, and a
bright fire inviting to preparations for breakfast. The device for
cooking consisted of two strong upright sticks with forked tops, and a
heavy horizontal pole resting upon them. On this pole two pothooks were
fastened, from which hung the pot and kettle, and the fire was kindled
under it. Then a little circle of flat stones was made for the
frying-pan, the pot and kettle were filled with fresh water, and Susan's
outfit was complete.

Pending the erection of a "camp wash-stand," and the choice of a safe
and suitable bathing-place, faces and hands were washed in the river
amid much laughter, and with careful balancing on stones in the
shallows. The toilets were barely completed when three toots on the
horn announced that breakfast was ready. A long table and benches were
among the furniture which Doctor Grey and Mr. Merrithew had planned to
make; until their construction, they were glad to group themselves,
picnic-fashion, around a table-cloth on the ground. The way that
breakfast was disposed of showed that the true camp appetites had begun
already to assert themselves. Porridge and molasses, beans, bacon and
eggs, and great piles of brown bread and butter, vanished like smoke.
Jackie astonished the party (and alarmed his mother) by quietly
disposing of a cup of strong coffee, passed to him by mistake, and
handing it back to be refilled with the comment that it was "much more
satisfyinger than milk."

After breakfast they all set to work with enthusiasm to make camp more
comfortable. Susan washed dishes and arranged the provision tent with
housewifely zeal; Mrs. Merrithew and Mrs. Grey brought the blankets out,
and spread them on the grass to air, drove shingle-nails far up on the
tent-poles to hold watches, pin-cushions, and innumerable small but
necessary articles, and superintended the stretching of a rope from one
pole to another, about a foot from the ridge-pole. This last arrangement
proved most useful, all the garments not in use being hung over it, so
that the chaperons' tent, at least, was kept in good order. The
gentlemen busied themselves in building the promised table and seats.
Mr. Andrews had told them to make use of anything they wanted on his
island, so the twins had hunted about till they discovered a pile of
boards near one of the barns. These served admirably for the necessary
furniture, and after that was finished several cosy seats were made, by
degrees, in favourite nooks along the bank. The morning passed with
almost incredible swiftness, and even the youngest (and hungriest) of
the campers could scarcely believe their ears when the horn blew for
dinner.

In the afternoon some, bearing cushions and shawls, chose shady spots
for a read and a doze; some set off in the canoes for a lazy paddle; and
others organized themselves into an exploring party to visit the
deserted house. Marjorie and Dora, Miss Covert, and Will Graham formed
the latter group. The stone house was a curious structure, with an air
of solidity about it even in its neglected and failing condition. It had
been built many years before by an Englishman, who did not know the
river's possibilities in the way of spring freshets. When he found that
he had built his house too near the shore, and that April brought water,
ice, and debris of many sorts knocking at his doors and battering in his
windows, he promptly, if ruefully, abandoned it to time and the
elements. It might, long ago, have been so arranged and protected as to
make it a very pleasant summer residence, but, instead, it was now used
only for a week or two in haying-time, when the haymakers slept and ate
in its basement,--for this quaint little house had a basement, with a
kitchen, dining-room, and storeroom. Our visitors, having gained
entrance to the hall by a very ruinous flight of steps and a battered
door, descended to the basement first, admired the fireplace in the
kitchen, and looked rather askance at the deep pile of straw in the
dining-room, where the haymakers had slept. There was a rough table in
one corner of the room, and on it some tin cups and plates and a piece
of very dry bread. The haying on the island was about half-done; there
was a short intermission in the work now, but it was to begin again very
soon.

They found nothing else of especial interest in the basement, so went to
the hall above. Here were two good-sized rooms, one on each side of the
hall. Each had a fine, deep fireplace, and in one were two old-fashioned
wooden armchairs and a long table. The windows--two in each room--were
narrow and high, and had small panes and deep window-seats.

"Oh, what fun it would be to play keeping-house here, Dora!" Marjorie
cried.

"Wouldn't it!" Dora answered. "Let us, Marjorie! Let us pretend it is
ours, and choose our rooms, and furnish it!"

"That will be fine," Marjorie answered, fervently, and soon the little
girls were deep in a most delightful air-castle.

"Let us play, too," said Will, persuasively, and Katherine answered
without hesitation:

"Yes, let us! I feel just like a child here, and could play with a doll
if I had one!"

"Well,--let me see; we will begin by deciding about the rooms," said
Will. "Let us have this for the study,--shall we?--and put the books
all along this wall opposite the windows!"

And so these two "children of a larger growth" played house with almost
as much zest as Marjorie and Dora,--and greatly to the amusement and
delight of the latter couple when they caught a word or two of their
murmured conversation. Up-stairs were four rather small rooms with
sloping ceilings, and in the middle of the house, just over the front
door, a dear little room without the slope, and with a dormer-window.

"This shall be our boudoir," Dora said, as they entered, and then
stopped and exclaimed in surprise, for against one wall stood a piano!
Almost the ghost of a piano, or the skeleton, rather,--at the very best,
a piano in the last stage of decrepitude, but still a piano. Its
rosewood frame had been whittled, chopped, and generally ill-treated,
and more than half its yellow keys were gone, but oh, wonder of
wonders, some of those remaining gave a thin, unearthly sound when
struck! It seemed almost like something alive that had been deserted,
and the little group gathered around it with sympathetic exclamations.

While they were talking and wondering about it, lively voices proclaimed
the approach of the twins.

"We won't say anything about our housekeeping play," said Dora, hastily,
turning to Mr. Graham, and Marjorie loyally added, "except to mother."

"All right, if you like," the student agreed, and Miss Covert quickly
added her assent. The twins admired the stone house, the fireplaces, and
the piano, but with rather an abstracted manner. Soon the cause of their
absent-mindedness transpired. Mr. Merrithew had met some Indians that
afternoon, when they were out paddling, and had bought a salmon from
them. This had led to a conversation about salmon-spearing, and the
Indians had promised to come the following night, and show them how it
was done. They could take one person in each canoe, and Mr. Merrithew
had said that Carl and Hugh should be the ones. Of course they were
greatly excited over this prospect, and chattered about it all the way
back to the tents.

[Illustration: "A GREAT BONFIRE WAS BUILT"]

That evening, when dusk had settled down, a great bonfire was built, and
they all sat around it on rugs and shawls, in genuine camp-fashion.
First, some of the favourite games were played,--proverbs, "coffee-pot,"
characters, and then rigmarole, most fascinating of all. Rigmarole, be
it known, is a tale told "from mouth to mouth," one beginning it and
telling till his invention begins to flag or he thinks his time is up,
then stopping suddenly and handing it on to his next neighbour. The
result is generally a very funny, and sometimes quite exciting,
medley. To-night Mr. Merrithew began the story, and his contribution
(wherein figured a dragon, an enchanted princess, and a deaf-and-dumb
knight) was so absorbing that there was a general protest when he
stopped. But the romancer was quite relentless, and his next neighbour
had to continue as best he could. Even Jackie contributed some startling
incidents to the narrative, and when at last Mrs. Grey ended it with the
time-honoured (and just at present, most unfortunately, out-of-fashion!)
assurance that they all, even the dragon, "lived happy ever after,"
there was a burst of laughter and applause. Then some one began to sing,
and one after another the dear old songs rose through the balmy night.
Sometimes there were solos, but every now and then a chorus in which all
could join. Dora sang every French song she knew,--"A la Claire
Fontaine" ("At the Clear Fountain"), "Malbrouck," and "Entre Paris et
Saint-Denis" ("Between Paris and St. Denis") proving the favourites.
Mrs. Grey, who declared she had not sung for years, ventured on "The
Canadian Boat-Song" and "Her bright smile haunts me still." At last,
when voices began to grow drowsy and the fire burned low, they sang,
"The Maple-Leaf For Ever" and "Our Own Canadian Home," then rose and
joined in the camp-hymn,--"For ever with the Lord," with its:

    "And nightly pitch our moving tents
     A day's march nearer home."

The next day seemed to fly, to every one, at least, but Carl and Hugh.
Their hearts were so set on the salmon-spearing that for them the time
went slowly enough till night brought the four Indians with their
torches and spears. Doctor Grey and Mr. Merrithew walked along the shore
to see what they could of the proceedings, but the rest--and even
Will--were content to sit around the fire as before. Carl sat in the
middle of one canoe, and Hugh in the other, both greatly excited and
both trying to think themselves quite cool. Only the steersmen
paddled,--the bowmen kneeling erect and watchful, with their spears in
readiness. (The salmon-spear is a long ash shaft, with two wooden prongs
and a metal barb between them. The spearing of salmon, by the way, is
restricted by law to the Indians, and any white man who undertakes it is
liable to a fine.) Sticking up in the bow of each canoe was a torch,
made of a roll of birch-bark fastened in the end of a split stick. The
red-gold flare of these torches threw a crimson reflection on the dark
water, and shone on the yellow sides of the birches, and the intent,
dusky faces of the fishermen watching for their prey. Slowly, silently,
they paddled up the stream, till at last the silvery sides of a
magnificent fish gleamed in the red light. Then, like a flash, a spear
struck down, there was a brief struggle, and the captive lay gasping in
the foremost canoe. It was too much for Hugh. He had enjoyed with all
his boyish heart the beauty and the weirdness of the scene, but the
beautiful great fish, with the spear-wound in his back,--well, that was
different. He was not sorry that the Indians met with no more luck, and
was very silent when the others questioned them, on their return, as to
the joys of salmon-spearing. When he confided to Carl his hatred of the
"sport," the latter shook his head doubtfully.

"But you will help eat that salmon to-morrow," he said.

"Well,--perhaps," Hugh answered, "but, all the same, it's no fun to see
things killed, and I'm not going to if I can help it!"

The fortnight of camp life passed like a dream, and it is hard to tell
who was most sorry when the day of departure came. Dora, who had written
a regular diary-letter to her father and mother, and begun one of the
stories that were to be like Mrs. Ewing's, said that never in all her
life had she had such a beautiful time. Katherine Covert, with life-long
friends to "remember camp by," and all sorts of happy possibilities in
her once gray life, bore the same testimony with more, if more quiet,
fervour. Mr. Merrithew said that he was ten years younger, and Jackie
opined that, in that case, they must have been living on an enchanted
island,--but added, that he was very glad _he_ had not been made ten
years younger, like Daddy!

Brown and plump and strong of arm, the campers brought back with them
hearty appetites, delightful recollections, and inexhaustible material
for dream and plan and castles in the air.

Many pleasant things were waiting to be done on their return; first and
foremost, Miss Covert had come to live at the Big Brick House, to teach
the children when holiday time should be over, and to be a help
generally to Mrs. Merrithew. Also, according to Mrs. Merrithew's plans,
to have a little real home life and happiness,--for Katherine had been
an orphan since her childhood, and for five years had taught school
steadily, although it was work that she did not greatly like, and that
kept her in a state of perpetual nervous strain. Teaching a few
well-bred and considerate children, whom she already loved, would be
quite different, and almost entirely a pleasure.



CHAPTER VI.


IN the delightful autumn days that followed, the children, accompanied
sometimes by Mrs. Merrithew, sometimes by Katherine, spent much of their
time in the woods, and taking long strolls on the country roads. In
October the woods were a blaze of colour,--clear gold, scarlet, crimson,
coppery brown, and amber. The children brought home great bunches of the
brilliant leaves, and some they pressed and varnished, while others
Katherine dipped in melted wax. They found that the latter way was the
best for keeping the colours, but it was rather troublesome to do. They
pressed many ferns, also, and, when the frosts became keener, collected
numbers of white ferns, delicately lovely. Most of these treasures,
with baskets full of velvety moss and yards of fairy-like wild vines,
were stowed away in a cool storeroom to be used later in the Christmas
decorations.

When the last of October drew near, Mrs. Merrithew made up her mind to
give a little Hallow-eve party. She let the children name the friends
they wished her to ask, and added a few of her own; then they all busied
themselves in preparations, and in making lists of Hallow-eve games and
tricks. At last came the eventful evening, and with it about thirty
merry people, old and young, but chiefly young. All of the Greys were
there, of course; also Mr. Will Graham, who was taking his last year at
college, and who spent most of his spare time at Mr. Merrithew's. So the
whole camping-party met again, and the camp-days, dear and fleeting,
came back in vivid pictures to their minds.

In the Big Brick House was a large room known as "the inner kitchen,"
but used as a kitchen only in the winter. This room Mrs. Merrithew had
given up to the entertainment of the Hallow-eve party. It was
lighted--chiefly, that is, for a few ordinary lamps helped out the
illumination--by lanterns made of hollowed pumpkins. Ears of corn hung
around the mantel, and a pyramid of rosy apples was piled high upon it.
There was a great old-fashioned fireplace here, and a merry fire
sparkled behind the gleaming brass andirons. Every trick that their
hostess's brain could conjure up was tried. Those who cared to, bobbed
for apples in a tub of water, and some were lucky enough to find
five-cent pieces in their russets and pippins. An apple was hung on a
string from the middle of a doorway, then set swinging, and two
contestants tried which could get the first bite,--and this first bite,
gentle reader, is not so easy as you might imagine! A pretty little
ring was laid on a mound of flour, and whoever could lift it out between
their lips, without breaking down the mound, was to win the ring. This
necessitated a great many remouldings of the flour,--but finally the
prize was captured by Miss Covert. A little later, Dora noticed it
hanging on Mr. Graham's watch-guard.

Some of the braver spirits took turns in walking backward down the
garden steps, and to the end of the middle path, a looking-glass in one
hand and a lamp in the other. What each one saw in the looking-glass, or
whether, indeed, they saw anything, was, in most cases, kept a secret,
or confided only to the very especial chum! Then there were fortunes
told by means of cabbages,--a vegetable not usually surrounded with
romantic associations. Marjorie was the first to try this mode of
divination. Well-blindfolded, she ventured alone into the garden, and
came back soon with a long, lean, straggly cabbage with a great deal of
earth attached to its roots. This foretold that her husband would be
tall and thin, and very rich!

There were many other quaint methods of fortune-telling, most of them
derived from Scottish sources. After these had been tried, amid much
merriment, they played some of the old-fashioned games dear to children
everywhere,--blind-man's buff, hunt-the-feather, post-towns, and other
favourites. By and by, when the fun began to flag, and one or two little
mouths were seen to yawn, a long table was brought in and soon spread
with a hearty (but judiciously chosen) Hallow-eve supper.

When the days began to grow short and bleak, and the evenings long and
cosey, the children were thrown more and more upon indoor occupations
for their entertainment. It was on one of these bleak days, when a few
white flakes were falling in a half-hearted way, and the sky was gray
and gloomy, that Jackie had a brilliant idea. Four of them--Katherine,
Marjorie, Dora, and Jackie himself--were sitting by the fire in Mrs.
Merrithew's "Den," the very cosiest room in the house. Mr. Merrithew had
a den, too, but he called his a study. Somehow it looked too much like
an office to suit the children very well. Most of the volumes on his
shelves, too, were clumsy law-books; all the books that any one wanted
to read, except the children's own, were in "mother's den." Then, one
could come to mother's room at any hour of the day or night, while
sometimes no one, excepting Mrs. Merrithew, was admitted to the study.
On this particular day Katherine was reading "Rob Roy," and Jack
building a castle of blocks, while Dora dreamed in the window-seat,
watching the scanty flakes, and Marjorie, on the hearth-rug, tried to
teach reluctant Kitty Grey to beg.

Now Jack had accompanied his mother on the previous Sunday to the
anniversary service of the Sons of England, a well-known patriotic
society. He had been greatly impressed by the procession, the hymns, and
the sermon, and on coming home had asked his father many questions as to
the "why and wherefore" of the society. It was this episode which
suggested the bright idea to his active little brain.

"Aunt Kathie," he said,--for Miss Covert was now a fully accepted
adopted aunt,--"why couldn't _we_ form a patriarchal society?"

"A _what_, dear?" said Kathie, in rather startled tones, laying "Rob
Roy" on the table, for she liked to give her whole mind to Jackie's
propositions and queries.

"A patri--oh, you know what; like the Sons of England, you know!"

"Oh, yes! _Patriotic_, dearie; a patriotic society. You know a patriot
is one who loves his country. What sort of a patriotic society would
you like to have, Jack?"

"Oh, pure Canadian, of course! Let me see,--we couldn't be the Sons of
Canada, because we are not all sons."

"Not _quite_ all," murmured Dora, with drowsy sarcasm, from the window.

"Why not Children of Canada?" suggested Kathie.

"No, Aunt Kathie, that would never do at all, for mother and Daddy and
you must be in it, and you _couldn't_ be called children,--though, of
course, you're not so _very_ old," he added, as if fearing he had hurt
her feelings.

"Well," said Marjorie, thoughtfully, "how would The Maple-leaves, or The
Beavers, do?"

But Jackie scorned this suggestion.

"_Those_ are names that baseball clubs have," he said. "No; I believe
'The Sons and Daughters of Canada' would be the best of all, because
everybody is either a son _or_ a daughter, even twins!"

This statement, and the name, were accepted with acclamation, and the
quartette, entering thoroughly into the spirit of Jackie's plan, helped
him zealously to put it into execution. They insisted that he should be
president, and requested him to choose the other officers. So he made
his father and mother the honourable patrons, Dora and Marjorie
vice-presidents, and Kathie secretary-treasurer. This office, I may
mention, she nobly filled, and also the informal one of general adviser,
suggester, and planner. It was she who proposed the twins, Alice and
Edith, as members, and the president gave his consent, though he
considered Edith rather too young!

"For my part," he said, "I should like Mr. Will Graham, if none of you
would mind!" No one seemed to mind, so Mr. Graham's name was added to
the list, which Katherine was making out beautifully, with Gothic
capitals in red ink, on her very best paper. Her next proposal was a
regular course of study in Canadian history and literature, and this was
enthusiastically received. When Mr. and Mrs. Merrithew came home at
tea-time, they found a well-organized "Sons and Daughters of Canada"
club, and Miss Covert already engaged in composing an article on "The
Beginnings of Canadian History,"--with Jackie in her mind as an
important member of her future audience, and therefore an earnest effort
to make it simple in language and clear in construction.

All through the winter the club flourished, and indeed for a much longer
time. The members met every week, and the history and literature proved
so absorbing that the S. A. D. O. C. night came to be looked forward to
as eagerly by the older as by the younger sons and daughters. Kathie had
the gift of making scenes and people of long-past days live before one,
and Cartier and Champlain, La Salle and De Maisonneuve, and many another
hero became the companions of our patriotic students, both waking and in
their dreams. The works of Canadian poets and novelists began to fill
their book-shelves, and pictures of these celebrities to adorn their
walls. They had regular weekly meetings, at which there were readings
and recitations, and always one short historical sketch. Even Jack
learnt his "piece" each time, and said it with a severe gravity which
seemed to defy any one to smile at a mispronunciation! Mrs. Merrithew
designed their badges,--maple-leaf pins in coloured enamel, with a
little gilt beaver on each leaf,--and Mr. Merrithew had them made in
Montreal. But perhaps the proudest achievement of the club was Alice
Grey's "Sons and Daughters of Canada March," which was played at the
opening and closing of every meeting.

So much pleasure and profit, many happy evenings, and an ever deeper
love for their country, were some of the results of Jackie's bright
idea.



CHAPTER VII.


NOW there came, warming the frosty heart of December, that delightful
atmosphere of mystery and expectation which forms one pleasure of the
great Yule-tide festival. The Big Brick House seemed particularly full
of this happy spirit of the season. There were many mysterious shopping
excursions, and much whispering in corners,--a thing not usual in this
united family. Jackie showed a sudden and severe self-denial in the
matter of sticks of pure chocolate, and was soon, therefore, able to
proudly flourish a purse containing, he told his mother, "a dollar all
but eighty-five cents," saved toward buying his presents for the family.
He also spent much time at a little table in his own room, cutting out
pictures and pasting them into a scrap-book for a little lame boy of
his acquaintance.

Mrs. Merrithew and Kathie had each, besides innumerable other matters, a
water-colour painting on hand. Each picture, strange to say, was of a
house. Mrs. Merrithew's, the Big Brick House itself, with its trees and
vines, was clearly intended for Daddy; but for whom, the children
wondered, was Aunt Kathie's? It was a spirited little view of the old
stone house on Saunder's Island; not so pretty a subject as Mrs.
Merrithew's, but set in such a delicate atmosphere of early morning
light that even the sombre gray of the stone seemed etherialized and
made poetic. While Marjorie and Dora wondered for whom it was meant,
Jackie promptly inquired,--but she, his dear Aunt Kathie, who had never
refused to answer question of his before, only laughed and shook her
head, and said that every one had secrets at Christmas-time.

Marjorie and Dora did not, as was their wont, spend all of their time
together, for each was making a present for the other. Marjorie was
working hard over a portfolio, which she knew was one of the things Dora
wanted. She had carefully constructed and joined the stiff cardboard
covers, and plentifully provided them with blotting-paper, and now she
was embroidering the linen cover with autumnal maple-leaves in Dora's
favourite colour, a rich, vivid red. As for Dora, though she had no love
for needlework, she was laboriously making a cushion of soft, old-blue
felt for Marjorie's cosey-corner, working it with a griffin pattern in
golden-brown silks. Marjorie had a particular fancy for
griffins,--partly, perhaps, because a griffin was the chief feature of
the family crest.

As the long-looked-for day drew nearer, there was other work to do,
almost the pleasantest Christmas work of all, Dora thought,--the making
wreaths out of fir and hemlock and fragrant spruce. They worked two or
three hours of each day at the decorations for the beautiful little
parish church which they all attended, and which, being very small, was
much easier than the cathedral or the other large churches to transform
into a sweet-smelling tabernacle of green. Then they trimmed the Big
Brick House almost from attic to cellar. The drawing-rooms were hung
with heavy wreaths, with bunches of red cranberries here and there,
making a beautiful contrast to the green. In the other rooms there were
boughs over every picture, and autumn leaves, ferns, and dried grasses
here and there. Mr. Merrithew was sure to buy some holly and mistletoe
at the florist's on Christmas Eve, so places of honour were reserved for
these two plants, which have become so closely entwined with all our
thoughts of Christmas and its festivities. The holly would adorn the
old oil-painting of Mrs. Merrithew's great-aunt, Lady Loveday
Gostwycke, which hung over the mantelpiece in the front drawing-room. As
for the pearly white berries of the mistletoe, they were to hang from
the chandelier in the hall, where people might be expected forgetfully
to pass beneath them. Jackie, who was very useful in breaking twigs for
the wreath-making, begged a few fine wreaths as a reward, and carried
them off to decorate little lame Philip's room. These lengths of
aromatic greenery gave the greatest pleasure to the invalid, and
scarcely less to his mother, who spent the greater part of her time in
that one room.

Besides all these pleasant doings, there were great things going on in
the kitchen. Such baking and steaming and frying as Debby revelled in!
Such spicy and savoury odours as pervaded the house when the kitchen
door was opened! Marjorie and Dora liked to help, whenever Debby would
let them, with these proceedings. It was great fun to shred citron and
turn the raisin-stoner, and help chop the mince-meat, in the big
kitchen, with its shining tins, and general air of comfort. Jackie liked
to take a share in the cooking, too, and as he was Deborah's pet, he
generally got the wherewithal to make a tiny cake or pudding of his own.
When it came to the making of the big plum pudding, all the family by
turns had to stir it, according to a time-honoured institution. Then Mr.
Merrithew would make his expected contribution to its ingredients,--five
shining five-cent pieces, to be stirred through the mixture and left to
form an element of special interest to the children at the Christmas
dinner. Besides this big pudding, there were always three or four
smaller ones (without any silver plums, but very rich and good), for
distribution among some of Mrs. Merrithew's protégés.

On Christmas day all the old customs were faithfully observed. It was
the rule that whoever woke first in the morning should call the others,
and on this occasion it was Jackie who, as the great clock in the hall
struck six, came running from room to room in his moccasin slippers and
little blue dressing-gown, shouting "Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas,"
at the top of his voice.

Every one tumbled out of bed, as in duty bound, and soon a wrappered and
slippered group, all exchanging Christmas wishes, met in Mrs.
Merrithew's den. Here a fire glowed in the grate, and here, too,
mysterious and delightful, hung a long row of very fat white
pillow-cases! These were hung by long cords from hooks on the
curtain-pole. Each pillow-case bore a paper with the name of its owner
written on it in large letters, and they were arranged in order of age,
from Jackie up to Mr. Merrithew. This had been the invariable method of
giving the Christmas presents in this particular family for as long as
any of them could remember.

Armchairs and sofas were drawn near the fire, and the party grouped
themselves comfortably; then Mr. Merrithew lifted down Jackie's
pillow-case and laid it beside him, as he sat with his mother in the
largest of the chairs. Every one looked on with intensest interest
while, with shining eyes, and cheeks red with excitement, he opened his
parcels, and exclaimed over their contents. Truly a fortunate little boy
was Jack! There were books--the very books he wanted,--games, a top, the
dearest little snow-shoes, a great box of blocks,--evidently Santa Claus
knew what a tireless architect this small boy was,--a bugle, drum, and
sword, a dainty cup and saucer, a picture for his room, and, too large
for the pillow-case, but carefully propped beneath it, a fine sled, all
painted in blue and gold and crimson, beautiful to behold!

When Jackie had looked at every one of his presents, it was Marjorie's
turn, and she was just as fortunate as her brother. So it went on up the
scale, till they had all enjoyed their gifts to the very last of Mr.
Merrithew's, and every box of candy had been sampled. And still Aunt
Kathie's picture of the little stone house had not appeared!

When at last, a merry party, they went down to breakfast, Deborah and
Susan came forward with Christmas greetings, and thanks for the
well-filled pillow-cases which they had found beside their beds. The
dining-room in its festal array looked even cheerier than was its wont.
By every plate there lay a spray of holly, to be worn during the rest of
the day. The breakfast-set was a wonderful one of blue and gold, an
heirloom, which was only used on very special occasions. In the centre
of the table stood a large pot of white and purple hyacinths in full
bloom, the fourth or fifth of Mr. Merrithew's presents that morning to
his wife.

At eleven o'clock there was the beautiful Christmas service, which all
the family attended, with the exception of Jackie. He was considered too
young to be kept still for so long a time; so he stayed at home with
Susan, trying all the new toys and having samples read aloud from each
new book. Kitty Grey, decorated with a blue ribbon and a tiny gilt bell,
also kept him company, and seemed to take great pleasure in knocking his
block castles down with her soft silvery paws.

When the churchgoers returned there was lunch; then, for the children, a
long, cosey afternoon with their presents. Mrs. Merrithew and Katherine
early disappeared into the regions of the kitchen and dining-room, for
the six o'clock dinner was to have several guests, and there was much to
be arranged and overseen. But by half-past five the whole family was
assembled in the big drawing-room, and neither Mrs. Merrithew nor Kathie
looked as if they had ever seen the inside of a kitchen. Mrs. Merrithew
wore her loveliest gown, a shimmering silver-gray silk with lace sleeves
and fichu, and lilies-of-the-valley at her neck and in her abundant
hair. As for Katherine, in her fawn-coloured dress with trimmings of
yellow beads, and deep yellow roses, Jackie said she looked like a fairy
lady,--and on the subject of fairies he was an authority. The little
girls were in pure white, with sashes of their favourite colours, and
the gold and coral necklaces which had been among their gifts; while
Jackie, in his red velvet suit and broad lace collar, looked not unlike
the picture of Leonard in "The Story of a Short Life."

Presently the guests began to arrive. First came Miss Bell, a second
cousin of Mr. Merrithew's, and the nearest relative he had in
Fredericton. She was very tall, very thin, quite on the shady side of
fifty, and a little deaf. Nevertheless, she was decidedly handsome, with
her white hair, bright, dark eyes, and beautifully arched brows. She was
a great favourite with the children, and always carried some little
surprise for them in her pocket. A little later came a widowed aunt of
Mrs. Merrithew's, fair, fat, and frivolous; and a bachelor uncle, who
came next in the esteem of the children to Cousin Sophia Bell. Two young
normal school students, sisters, who were not able to go home for the
holidays, soon swelled the party, and last, but not least, came Mr. Will
Graham, looking very handsome in his evening clothes.

When they went out to dinner Jackie escorted Cousin Sophia, and Marjorie
overheard him saying, in urgent tones:

"I _wish_ that you and Uncle Bob would come and live with us,--but I
_don't_ want Aunt Fairley; she is too funny all the time!"

The Christmas dinner was much like other Christmas dinners, except that
Debby's cooking was unsurpassable. After every one had tasted
everything, and three of the five-cent pieces had come to light, the
chairs were pushed back a little, and while nuts and raisins were being
discussed, they had also catches, rounds, and choruses. Each person with
any pretence to a voice was expected to give one solo at least. Jackie,
who had a very sweet little voice, sang "God Save the King," with great
fervour. But the favourite of the evening was the beautiful "Under the
Holly Bough," with the words of which they were all familiar.

Presently, Jackie, who had been promised that he should choose his own
bedtime that night, was found to be fast asleep with his head on his
green-leaf dessert plate, and a bunch of raisins clasped tightly in one
hand. He was tenderly carried away, undressed, and tucked into bed,
without once opening an eye. As Kathie turned to leave him, she picked
up one of his best-beloved new books,--"Off to Fairyland," in blue and
gold covers, with daintily coloured pictures,--and laid it beside him
for a pleasant waking sight the next morning. Down-stairs she found the
rest of the party gathered around the fire, telling stories of Auld Lang
Syne. As almost every one had been up early that morning, no very lively
games seemed to appeal to them; but the children thought no game could
be so interesting as these sprightly anecdotes and rose-leaf-scented
romances that were being recalled and recounted to-night. "Do you
remember--" Cousin Sophia would say; then would follow some entrancing
memories, to which Mr. and Mrs. Merrithew, Uncle Bob, and Mrs. Fairley
would contribute a running comment of "Yes, yes! she was a lovely girl!"
"He never held up his head after she died!" and so on. Then Mrs.
Fairley would hum an old-time waltz, and branch off into reminiscences
of balls,--and of one in particular at Government House, where she had
lost her satin slipper, and the governor's son had brought it to her,
and called her Cinderella. She put out a satin-shod foot as she talked,
and Marjorie thought that, though it certainly was tiny, it was not at
all a pretty shape, and began to understand why her mother made her wear
her boots so loose.

About ten, Susan brought tea and plum-cake, and when this had been
disposed of, they all, according to another time-honoured custom,
gathered around the piano, and sang the grand old words that unnumbered
thousands of voices had sung that day:

    "Oh, come, all ye faithful,
     Joyful and triumphant;
     Oh, come ye, oh, come ye
       To Bethlehem!

     Come and behold him
     Born the King of angels;
     Oh, come let us adore him,
       Christ the Lord!"

[Illustration: "NOTHING, DORA THOUGHT, COULD BE MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN
THOSE WOODS IN WINTER"]



CHAPTER VIII.


SNOW-SHOEING is one of the national sports of Canada, in which most
Canadians, big and little, are proficient. Marjorie and her cousin were
no exception to the rule, and Jackie proved a very apt pupil. He soon
learned to avoid striking one snow-shoe against the other, and fell
quickly into that long, easy swing, which makes the snowy miles go by so
quickly. Sometimes the three children tramped on the broad, frozen
river, but that was a cold place when there was any wind, so they
generally chose the hill-roads or the woods. Nothing, Dora thought,
could be more beautiful than those woods in winter, with the white
drifts around the grayish tree-trunks, the firs and hemlocks rising like
green islands out of a snowy sea, and the wonderful tracery of brown
boughs against the pale blue of the sky. Once, Mr. and Mrs. Merrithew
went with them for a moonlight tramp, and that was something never to be
forgotten.

It was just after a heavy snowfall, and the evergreens were weighed down
with a white covering that sparkled and glittered as with innumerable
jewels. Another favourite amusement was coasting,--not tobogganing, but
good, old-fashioned coasting, generally on College Hill, but sometimes
down the steep bank of the river. Coasting parties were frequent, and it
was a pretty sight to see the hill dotted with blanket-coated and toqued
or tam-o'-shantered figures, and pleasant to hear the merry voices and
laughter as the sleds skimmed swiftly down the road.

The winters in Eastern Canada, though cold, are wonderfully bright and
clear, and the air is so free from dampness that one does not realize
how cold it sometimes becomes, unless one consults the thermometer.
Canadians, as a rule, spend a great deal of time in the open air in
winter as well as summer, and are as hardy a race as can be found
anywhere, but when they _are_ indoors they like their houses good and
warm,--no half-measures, no chilly passages and draughty bedrooms for
them!

Mr. Merrithew did not keep horses, but occasionally he would hire a big
three-seated sleigh and take the family for a delightful spin. They
would all be warmly wrapped in woollens and furs, and snuggled in
buffalo-robes; the bells would jingle merrily, the snow would "skreak"
under the horses' feet, and the white world slip by them like a dream.

One day, about the middle of February, Mrs. Merrithew announced, at
breakfast, that it was high time for the drive to Hemlock Point, which
Mr. Merrithew had been promising them all winter. As the latter quite
agreed with this idea, they decided to go on the following morning,
spend a long day with the friends they always visited there, and return
by moonlight. Hemlock Point was somewhere between ten and twenty miles
up-river,--it does not always do to be too exact,--and their friends
lived in a quaint old farmhouse, on high ground, well back from the
river-bank.

That evening, when they sat in the Den after lessons were done, Marjorie
told Dora about the good folk who lived there,--an old bachelor farmer,
the most kind-hearted and generous of men, but as bashful as a boy; his
two unmarried sisters, who managed his house and thought they managed
him, but really spoilt him to his heart's content; and an orphan niece,
who had lived with them for several years, and who was the only modern
element in their lives. She graphically described the old loom, the big
and little spinning-wheels, and the egg-shell china, till Dora was as
anxious as Jackie for to-morrow to come.

The three-seated sleigh and the prancing horses were at the door of the
Big Brick House by eight the next morning, for the drive would be long
and the load heavy, and it was well to be early on the way. The girls
and Jackie wore their blanket-suits,--Dora's and Jackie's crimson and
Marjorie's bright blue,--and Mrs. Merrithew herself, snugly wrapped in
furs, brought a grand supply of extra cloaks and shawls. She was always
prepared for any emergency. Mr. Merrithew said that he never knew her
fail to produce pins, rope, a knife, and hammer and nails, if they were
needed. But the hammer and nails she repudiated, and said it was twine,
not rope, she carried! The sky was a little overcast when they started,
but the prospect of a snow-storm did not daunt them in the least.

The bells, of which there were a great many on the harness, kept up a
musical, silvery accompaniment to the conversation, as the horses swung
at a good speed along the level. When the hills began to rise, the pace
slackened, and the passengers had a better chance to enjoy the beauties
spread on both sides of the road.

"But oh, you ought to see it in summer!" Marjorie said, when Dora
praised the varied and lovely landscapes. "There are so many things yet
for you to see all around here. You will have to stay two or three years
more at least!"

But Dora laughed at this.

"What about all the things there are for you to see in Montreal?" she
said. "What about the Ice Palace, and--"

"Please tell about the Ice Palace, Dora," Jack interrupted. "That must
be a gorlious sight!"

So Dora tried to give her cousins some idea of the great palace of
glittering ice, and the hundreds of snow-shoers, in bright costumes and
carrying torches, gathered together to storm this fairylike fortress.

"It must be fine," said Marjorie, when the story was done, "but I'd
rather storm Hemlock Point, and get fried chicken and buttermilk as the
spoils of war."

Marjorie, being a tremendous home-girl, generally tried to change the
subject if Dora made any allusions to a possible visit of Marjorie alone
to Montreal. She could not bear the thought of parting with Dora, but to
part with mother and Daddy and Jack would be three times worse!

The last part of the road was decidedly hilly, and the horses took such
advantage of Mr. Merrithew's consideration for their feelings, that
Jackie, lulled by the slow motion and the sound of the bells, fell
asleep against his mother's shoulder, and knew no more till he woke on
a couch in Miss Grier's sitting-room. The oldest Miss Grier--whom every
one called Miss Prudence--was bustling about, helping Marjorie and Dora
off with their things, and giving advice to Miss Alma, who was hastening
to start a fire in the great old-fashioned Franklin. Miss Dean, the
niece, was taking off Mrs. Merrithew's overboots, in spite of her polite
protests. Jackie's eyes were open for some moments before any one
noticed him; then he startled them by saying, in perfectly wide-awake
tones:

"I think, Miss Lois Dean, you are the very littlest lady in the world!"

Miss Dean, who certainly could not well be smaller and be called
grown-up at all, and whose small head was almost weighted down by its
mass of light hair, looked at her favourite with twinkling eyes.

"Never mind, Jackie, the best goods are often done up in small parcels;
and I'm big enough to hold you on my lap while I tell you stories, which
is the main thing, isn't it?"

"Yes, indeed," Jack cried, jumping up to hug her, which resulted in the
pretty hair getting loosened from its fastenings and tumbling in wild
confusion around the "littlest lady," where she sat on the floor.

"Now you are a fairy godmother! Now you are a fairy godmother!"
exclaimed Jackie, dancing around her.

"Then I will put a charm upon you at once," Lois said. "No more dancing,
no more noise, no more _anything_, until we get the wraps all off and
put away; then you and I will go and--fry chicken--and sausages--for
dinner!"

The last part of the sentence was whispered in Jack's ear, and caused
him to smile contentedly, and to submit without a murmur to the process
of unwrapping.

After dinner,--which did great credit to Lois and her assistant,--they
gathered around the Franklin in the sitting-room, with plates of
"sops-of-wine" and golden pippins within easy reach, and Mr. Grier and
Mr. Merrithew talked farming and politics, while Miss Prudence recounted
any episodes of interest that had taken place at or near Hemlock Point
during the past year.

Mrs. Merrithew, who had spent her summers here as a girl, knew every one
for miles around, and loved to hear the annals of the neighbourhood,
told in Miss Prudence's picturesque way, with an occasional pithy
comment from Miss Alma.

Dora sat, taking in with eager eyes the view of hill and intervale,
island and ice-bound river; then turning back to the cosey interior,
with its home-made carpet, bright curtains, and large bookcase with
glass doors.

After a little while Lois, who saw that the children were growing weary
of sitting still, proposed a stroll through the house, to which they
gladly consented. Katherine asked if she might go with them, and they
left "the enchanted circle around the fire," and crossed the hall to the
"best parlour,"--which Miss Prudence always wished to throw open in Mrs.
Merrithew's honour, and which the latter always refused to sit in,
because, as she frankly said, it gave her the shivers. This was not on
account of any ill-taste in the furnishing, but because it was always
kept dark and shut up, and Mrs. Merrithew said it could not be made
cheery all of a sudden. The children, however, loved the long room, and
the mysterious feeling it gave them when they first went in, and had to
grope their way to the windows, draw back the curtains, and put up the
yellow Venetian blinds, letting the clear, wintry light into this
shadowy domain. This light brought out the rich, dark colours of the
carpet, and showed the treasures of chairs and tables that would have
made a collector's mouth water. There was a round table of polished
mahogany in the centre of the room, a tiny butternut sewing-table in one
corner, and against the wall, on opposite sides of the room, two
rosewood tables, with quaint carved legs, and feet of shining brass. On
the tables lay many curious shells, big lumps of coral, and rare,
many-coloured seaweeds,--for there had been a sailor-uncle in the
family,--annuals and beauty-books in gorgeous bindings, albums through
which the children looked with never-failing delight, work-boxes and
portfolios inlaid with mother-of-pearl; almost all the treasures of the
family, in fact, laid away here in state, like Jean Ingelow's dead year,
"shut in a sacred gloom."

When this room had been inspected and admired, they lowered the blinds,
drew the curtains, and left it again to its solitude. The rest of the
house was much less awe-inspiring, but it was all delightful. The loom,
now seldom or never used, stood in one corner of the kitchen. Not far
away was the big spinning-wheel. Miss Dean tried to teach them to spin,
and when they found it was not so easy as it looked, gave them a
specimen of how it should be done that seemed almost magical. There is,
indeed, something that suggests magic about spinning,--the rhythmically
stepping figure, the whirling brown wheel, the rolls of wool, changed by
a perfectly measured twirl and pull into lengths of snow-white yarn, and
the soothing, drowsy hum, the most restful sound that labour can
produce.

Then there was the up-stairs to visit. The chief thing of interest there
was the tiny flax-wheel which stood in the upper hall, and which
certainly looked, as Jack said, as if _it_ ought to belong to a fairy
godmother. In the attic, great bunches of herbs hung drying from the
rafters, and the air was sweet with the scent of them. There were sage,
summer-savoury, sweet marjoram, sweet basil, mint, and many more, with
names as fragrant as their leaves. On the floor, near one of the
chimneys, was spread a good supply of butternuts, and strings of dried
apples stretched from wall to wall at the coolest end of the one big
room.

"If I lived in this house," Dora said, "I would come up here often and
write,--try to write, I mean!"

"I come up here often and read," Miss Dean said, with a quick glance of
comprehension at the little girl's eager face. "I love it! And
sometimes, when I feel another way and it's not too cold, I put up one
blind in the best parlour, and sit in there."

"I wish you were coming down to sit in mother's den, and read--and
talk--and everything!" said Marjorie, and the others echoed the wish.

"So I am, some time or other," Lois answered. "Mrs. Merrithew has asked
me, and now it's just a question of how soon Aunt Prudence can spare me.
That may be next week,--or it may be next winter!"

"It may be for years and it may be for ever," Dora quoted, laughing, and
Jackie added, "and then--when you do come--we will make you a Son and
Daughter of Canada right away!"

The search for the egg-shell china took them back to the sitting-room,
where Lois begged Miss Prudence to exhibit this most fragile of her
belongings. With natural pride, that lady unlocked a china-closet, and
brought out specimens of the beautiful delicate ware which their
grandmother had brought over with her from Ireland, and of which, in all
these years, only three articles had been broken. It certainly was
exquisite stuff, delicately thin, of a rich cream-colour, and with gilt
lines and tiny wreaths of pink and crimson roses.

"I thought we would have them out for tea," Miss Alma suggested, but
Mrs. Merrithew, with three children, all rather hasty in their
movements, to look after, begged her not to think of such a thing.

"Your white and gold china is pretty enough for any one;" she said,
"and, my dear Prudence, if you are determined to give us tea after that
big dinner, we will have to ask for it soon, or we will be spending most
of the night on the road."

"Dear, dear!" said Miss Prudence, putting back her treasures tenderly,
"it does seem as if you'd been here about half an hour, and I do hate to
have you go! But I know how you feel about being out late with the
children, and you won't stay all night. Come along, Alma, let's hustle
up some tea, and let Lois talk to Mrs. Merrithew awhile."

And "hustle" they certainly did, spreading a board that groaned with the
good old-fashioned dainties, for the cooking of which Miss Prudence was
noted throughout the country. Then the horses were brought to the door,
tossing their heads in haste to be off, wraps were snugly adjusted,
good-byes said many times, and they were off.

"I believe Grier has given these horses nothing but oats all day," Mr.
Merrithew muttered, as the pretty beasts strained and tugged in their
anxiety to run down-hill; but when it came to the up-hill stretches,
they soon sobered down, and were content with a reasonable pace. Warm
and cosey, nestled against his mother, Jackie soon slept as before; but
the others, with rather a reckless disregard of their throats, sang song
after song, in spite of the frosty air, and dashed up to the door of
the Big Brick House, at last, to the sound of:

    "'Twas from Aunt Dinah's quilting party
     I was seeing Nellie home."



CHAPTER IX.


TO invalids, or to the really destitute, Canadian winters, clear and
bright though they are, may seem unduly long; but for our little
Canadian Cousins, warmly clad, warmly housed, and revelling in the
season's healthful sports, the months went by as if on wings. With
March, though the winds were strong, the sun began to show his power,
and by the middle of the month the sap was running, and the
maple-sugar-making had begun. Jackie persuaded his father to take him
out one morning to the woods, and to help him tap a number of trees.
When they went back later and collected the tin cups which they had left
under the holes in the trees, they found altogether about a pint of sap.
This they took carefully home, and Jack persuaded every one to taste
it, then boiled the remainder until it thickened a little,--a very
little, it is true,--and the family manfully ate it with their muffins
for tea, though Mrs. Merrithew declared that she believed they had
tapped any tree they came across, instead of keeping to sugar-maples.

Toward the end of the month Mrs. Grey got up a driving-party to one of
the sugar-camps, and though it was chiefly for grown people, Mrs.
Merrithew allowed Dora and Marjorie to go. The drive was long, and
rather tiring, as the roads were beginning to get "slumpy," and here and
there would come a place where the runners scraped bare ground. But when
they reached the camp they were given a hearty welcome, allowed to
picnic in the camp-house, and treated to unlimited maple-syrup, sugar,
and candy.

The process of sugar-making has lost much of its picturesqueness, since
the more convenient modern methods have come into use. Mrs. Grey
remembered vividly when there were no camp-houses, with their big
furnaces and evaporating pans, and no little metal "spiles" to conduct
the sap from the trees to the tins beneath. In those days the spiles,
about a foot in length, were made of cedar, leading to wooden
troughs,--which, she maintained, gave the juice an added and delicious
flavour. But this their host of the sugar-camp would not admit, though
he agreed with her that the process of boiling must have been much more
interesting to watch when it was done in big cauldrons hung over
bonfires in the snowy woods. When the visitors left camp, each one
carried a little bark dish (called a "cosseau") of maple-candy,
presented by the owner of the camp, and most of them had bought
quantities of the delicious fresh sugar.

April brought soft breezes, warmer sunshine and melting snow. It seemed
to Dora that people thought of scarcely anything but the condition of
the ice, and the quantity of snow in the woods. Then they began to say
that there would be a freshet, and Debby, who was apt to forebode the
worst, announced that the bridges would go this time, sure! Mr.
Merrithew only laughed when Marjorie asked him about it, and said that
this prophecy had been made every year since the bridges were built, and
that there was no more danger this year than any other. But Mrs.
Merrithew, though she could not be said to worry, still quietly decided
what things she would carry with her in case of a flight to the hills!
The freshet which was talked about so much was, in spite of Mr.
Merrithew's laughter, a remote possibility; certainly not a probability.
In his own and Mrs. Merrithew's youth, it had been so imminent that
people actually _had_ gone to the hills. A tremendous jam had been
formed a few miles above town; but a few days of hot sun had opened the
river farther down, and the danger had passed. Since the two bridges,
however, had been built, some people thought that there was a chance of
the ice jamming above the upper bridge. Usually the worst jams were
between the islands, not far above town.

Each day some fresh word was brought in as to the river's condition.
"The River St. John is like a sick person, isn't it?" Dora said one
afternoon. "The first thing every one says in the morning is, 'I wonder
how the river is to-day.'"

The words were scarcely out of her mouth when Mr. Merrithew came in
hastily, calling out:

"Come, people, if you want to see the ice go out. The jam by Vine Island
is broken. Come quick. It's piling up finely!"

In a very few minutes the whole family answered to his summons, and they
set out in great excitement to watch their dear river shake off its
fetters. They made their way quickly to the wooden bridge, and found a
good share of the population of Fredericton there assembled. It was
truly a sight well worth going to see. Below the bridge the dark water
was running swiftly, bearing blocks of ice, bits of board, and
logs,--indeed, a fine medley of things. But _above_ the bridge! Jackie
clapped his hands with delight, as he watched the ice, pushed by the
masses behind it, throw itself against the mighty stone piers, and break
and fall back, while the bridge quivered afresh at each onslaught. It
was truly grand to see, and they stayed watching it for more than an
hour; stayed till Jackie began to shiver, and Mrs. Merrithew hurried
them home.

By the next morning the river was rapidly clearing, so that some
reckless spirits ventured to cross in boats and canoes, dodging the
ice-cakes with skill worthy to be employed in a better cause. In a day
or two more the deep whistle of the river-boat was heard; a sound that
brings summer near, though not a leaf be on the trees. But it was not
until the ice had entirely ceased running, and the river had begun to go
down, that really warm weather could begin, for, until then, there was
always a chill air from the water.

But after that,--ah, then spring came in earnest, with balmy airs and
singing birds, pussy-willows, silver gray, beside the brooks, and little
waterfalls laughing down the hills. Then came the greening fields, the
trees throwing deeper shadows, and the Mayflowers, pink and pearly and
perfect, hiding under their own leaves in damp woodland hollows! The
children made many excursions to gather these fragrant blooms, and kept
quantities of them in the Den until the season was over. It would be
hard, Mrs. Merrithew thought, to find anything more lovely, and to show
how thoroughly she appreciated their attention, she made for each child
a little Mayflower picture in water-colours. In Marjorie's the flowers
were in a large blue bowl, on a table covered with an old-blue cloth;
for Jackie she painted them in a dainty shallow basket, just as he had
brought them from the woods; and for Dora there was a shadowy green bit
of the woodland itself, and a few of the braver blossoms just showing
among leaves and moss.



CHAPTER X.


ONCE more the lilacs were in blossom in the garden of the Big Brick
House. The blackbirds called and chuckled in the lofty branches of the
elms, and robins hopped about the lawns, seemingly with the express
purpose of tantalizing Kitty Grey. On the lawn, where the hammocks hung,
a happy group was gathered. Mr. and Mrs. Merrithew were there, Marjorie
and Dora, Katherine and Jack, and two others who evidently formed the
centre of attraction. Of these, one was a tall, thin man, with a frame
that must once have been athletic, and a pathetic stoop in the broad
shoulders. He sat in a deep armchair, with Dora contentedly nestled on
his knee. In a hammock near him sat a lady, with a dark, lovely face,
beautifully arched brows, and soft eyes, so like Dora's that a stranger
might have guessed their relationship.

Mr. Carman, though still an invalid, was wonderfully better, and both he
and his wife were full of praises of the great, beautiful West, its
scenery, its climate, and its possibilities.

"I have come to the conclusion," Mr. Carman said, after an enthusiastic
description of a sunset in the Rocky Mountains, "that it is no wonder we
Canadians are proud of our country."

"Then you and Aunt Denise shall be 'Sons and Daughters,'" cried Jackie,
"and you can read a paper about the West at our very next meeting. That
_will_ be fine!"

And Uncle Archie and Aunt Denise were accepted then and there as members
of the S. A. D. O. C.

The travellers had only arrived the day before, so there was still much
to ask and tell; but Dora and her parents had already had a long talk
as to plans and prospects, and the little girl was radiant with delight
over the arrangements that were decided upon. Marjorie, who could not
help being a little cast down at the prospect of a separation from her
cousin, wondered that Dora did not seem to mind at all. But when, by and
by, they strolled off together to the grape-arbour for a talk, she
understood the reason of this cheerfulness.

"I want to tell you all about our plans," Dora began, as soon as they
were seated in their favourite nook. "You see, mother says that dear
father, though he is certainly better, won't be able to work for a long,
long time. Next winter they will probably go to Barbadoes, where some
friends of mother's are living; and if they do, I am to stay with you
_all winter_ again,--if you will have me, Marjorie! Your mother says
_she_ will!"

"_Have_ you!" Marjorie exclaimed. "Oh, but I am glad! I don't know what
I will do without you all summer, but it is fine to know that at least
we will have the winter together."

Then Dora burst into a peal of laughter, and clapped her hands over the
news that she had to tell.

"Oh, I've got the best to tell you yet," she said. "Father and mother
have quite decided to stay _here_, in Fredericton, all summer! They want
to rent a furnished house, just as close to this one as they possibly
can; and then we will be together almost every minute, just as we are
now. _Won't_ it be lovely?"

Marjorie sat quiet for a minute, and thought it over with shining eyes.
Then she gave Dora a regular "bear-hug," and cried:

"I feel just like Jackie does when he dances a war-dance! I was going to
say that it was too good to be true, but mother says she doesn't like
that saying, for there is nothing too good to come true sometime, if it
isn't already. Come and tell Jack and Aunt Kathie, quick! They will be
almost as glad as I am!"

So these little Canadian Cousins went hand in hand down the garden-path,
full of happy thoughts of the long bright summer days that spread before
them.


THE END.



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=The Little Colonel.= (Trade Mark.)

The scene of this story is laid in Kentucky. Its heroine is a small
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=The Giant Scissors.=

This is the story of Joyce and of her adventures in France. Joyce is a
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=Two Little Knights of Kentucky.=

WHO WERE THE LITTLE COLONEL'S NEIGHBORS.

In this volume the Little Colonel returns to us like an old friend, but
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=Mildred's Inheritance.=

A delightful little story of a lonely English girl who comes to America
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=Cicely and Other Stories for Girls.=

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=Aunt 'Liza's Hero and Other Stories.=

A collection of six bright little stories, which will appeal to all boys
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=Big Brother.=

A story of two boys. The devotion and care of Steven, himself a small
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=Ole Mammy's Torment.=

"Ole Mammy's Torment" has been fitly called "a classic of Southern
life." It relates the haps and mishaps of a small negro lad, and tells
how he was led by love and kindness to a knowledge of the right.


=The Story of Dago.=

In this story Mrs. Johnston relates the story of Dago, a pet monkey,
owned jointly by two brothers. Dago tells his own story, and the account
of his haps and mishaps is both interesting and amusing.


=The Quilt That Jack Built.=

A pleasant little story of a boy's labor of love, and how it changed the
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=Flip's Islands of Providence.=

A story of a boy's life battle, his early defeat, and his final triumph,
well worth the reading.


_By EDITH ROBINSON_


=A Little Puritan's First Christmas.=

A Story of Colonial times in Boston, telling how Christmas was invented
by Betty Sewall, a typical child of the Puritans, aided by her brother
Sam.


=A Little Daughter of Liberty.=

The author introduces this story as follows:

"One ride is memorable in the early history of the American Revolution,
the well-known ride of Paul Revere. Equally deserving of commendation is
another ride,--the ride of Anthony Severn,--which was no less historic
in its action or memorable in its consequences."


=A Loyal Little Maid.=

A delightful and interesting story of Revolutionary days, in which the
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=A Little Puritan Rebel.=

This is an historical tale of a real girl, during the time when the
gallant Sir Harry Vane was governor of Massachusetts.


=A Little Puritan Pioneer.=

The scene of this story is laid in the Puritan settlement at
Charlestown.


=A Little Puritan Bound Girl.=

A story of Boston in Puritan days, which is of great interest to
youthful readers.


=A Little Puritan Cavalier.=

The story of a "Little Puritan Cavalier" who tried with all his boyish
enthusiasm to emulate the spirit and ideals of the dead Crusaders.


=A Puritan Knight Errant.=

The story tells of a young lad in Colonial times who endeavored to carry
out the high ideals of the knights of olden days.


_By OUIDA (Louise de la Ramée)_


=A Dog Of Flanders:= A CHRISTMAS STORY.

Too well and favorably known to require description.


=The Nurnberg Stove.=

This beautiful story has never before been published at a popular price.


_By FRANCES MARGARET FOX_


=The Little Giant's Neighbours.=

A charming nature story of a "little giant" whose neighbours were the
creatures of the field and garden.


=Farmer Brown and the Birds.=

A little story which teaches children that the birds are man's best
friends.


=Betty of Old Mackinaw.=

A charming story of child-life, appealing especially to the little
readers who like stories of "real people."


=Brother Billy.=

The story of Betty's brother, and some further adventures of Betty
herself.


=Mother Nature's Little Ones.=

Curious little sketches describing the early lifetime, or "childhood,"
of the little creatures out-of-doors.


=How Christmas Came to the Mulvaneys.=

A bright, lifelike little story of a family of poor children, with an
unlimited capacity for fun and mischief. The wonderful never-to-be
forgotten Christmas that came to them is the climax of a series of
exciting incidents.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired.





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