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´╗┐Title: Bessie among the Mountains
Author: Mathews, Joanna H. (Joanna Hooe), 1849-1901
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Bessie among the Mountains" ***

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BESSIE AMONG THE MOUNTAINS



THE BESSIE BOOKS.


  I. BESSIE AT THE SEASIDE. 16mo           $1.25
 II. BESSIE IN THE CITY. 16mo               1.25
III. BESSIE AND HER FRIENDS. 16mo           1.25
 IV. BESSIE AMONG THE MOUNTAINS. 16mo       1.25

     "Bessie is a very charming specimen of little girlhood. It
     is a lovely story of home and nursery life among a family of
     bright, merry, little children."--_Presbyterian._

     "A lively entertaining series, which picture child-life to
     perfection."--_Standard._

     "We owe to the authoress perhaps the most delightful
     conception of child-character, under Gospel influences, in
     all modern juvenile literature."--_American Presbyter._

     "The author evidently understands how to write of and for
     children. There is a simplicity and naturalness of style and
     incident and religion, of the most attractive and healthful
     kind."--_Christian Instructor._

[Illustration: Bessie among the Mountains. FRONTISPIECE.]



BESSIE

AMONG

THE MOUNTAINS.

BY

JOANNA H. MATHEWS,

AUTHOR OF "BESSIE AT THE SEASIDE," "BESSIE IN THE CITY," AND
"BESSIE AND HER FRIENDS."

"Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."

NEW YORK:

ROBERT CARTER AND BROTHERS,

530, BROADWAY.

1872.


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by

ROBERT CARTER AND BROTHERS,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for
the Southern District of New York.


CAMBRIDGE:
PRESS OF JOHN WILSON AND SON.



TO

RICHARD HOWLAND HUNT,

The Dear Little Boy,

WHO "NEARLY KNOWS HOW TO READ, AND THINKS COUSIN JOSIE'S STORIES HAVE
NOT A BIT OF STUPIDNESS IN THEM."



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER                                    PAGE.

    I. UP THE MOUNTAIN                         9

   II. THE SQUIRRELS AND THE ICE GLEN         33

  III. A VISIT TO AUNT PATTY                  55

   IV. LEM AND DOLLY                          74

    V. THE GARDENS                            98

   VI. THE SUNDAY SCHOOL                     113

  VII. THE SILVER CUP                        128

 VIII. A KIND WORD FOR LEM                   147

   IX. DOL'S REVENGE                         163

    X. THE BANANAS                           183

   XI. "GOOD FOR EVIL"                       203

  XII. UNCLE RUTHVEN'S WORK                  220

 XIII. A RIDE ON THE SHEAVES                 236

  XIV. BLACKBERRYING                         255

   XV. A FRIEND IN NEED                      276

  XVI. LEM'S SORROW                          299

 XVII. DOLLY GOES HOME                       317

XVIII. GOOD-BY TO CHALECOO                   336


[Illustration: (decorative)]

BESSIE AMONG THE MOUNTAINS.



I.

_UP THE MOUNTAIN._


UP, up! What a height it was, and how the horses toiled as they
drew the heavy wagons up the mountain side. Whenever they came to
a very steep place, the boys and all the gentlemen, except Colonel
Rush, would jump out and walk, so as to lighten the load. Aunt Annie
and Aunt Bessie, who was really Aunt Bessie now, for she was Uncle
Ruthven's wife, also tried this; but they soon tired, and were glad to
take their seats in the wagon again.

Maggie thought she must take her turn too, and asked papa to lift her
out. Papa consented, warning her, however, that she would find it
harder work than she imagined to clamber up these steep ascents on her
own two small feet. But Maggie thought she would like to be "a relief
to the horses," so papa took her out.

Then Bessie's sweet little voice piped up from the snug corner, where
she sat nestled between Colonel Rush and his wife.

"Mamma, bettn't I walk a little too, on 'count of the poor horses?"

At which Mr. Porter who walked beside the wagon, holding the reins,
and now and then chirruping to the willing creatures who needed no
whip or harsh command, turned his head towards the tiny figure with a
merry twinkle in his eye.

"I think not, darling," said mamma; "by the time we are at the Lake
House you will be more than tired enough with this long day's journey."

"I do not wish to walk, mamma," said Bessie, "only for the horses."

"The horses don't make much account of your weight, I reckon," said
Mr. Porter, good-naturedly, "and though this seems mighty hard work
to you, they are used to it, and don't mind it so much. Besides, they
know that every pitch takes them nearer to their stable, where they'll
have a good rest and a feed of oats. They'd rather go up than down any
day."

"How do they know it?" asked Bessie, who had already made friends with
Mr. Porter.

"Well," said Mr. Porter, taking off his hat and fanning himself with
it, "I can't just say how; certain it is they do know it."

"Maybe it's their instinct," said Bessie.

"That's about it," he answered, with a smile.

"These are fine teams of yours, Mr. Porter," said Colonel Rush.

"You may say that, sir," answered the old man, looking with pride at
the noble beasts, "and this is the best of the lot. These are Vermont
horses, sure-footed as goats, as they need to be on these mountain
roads; strong as elephants, and wiser than many a creature that goes
on two feet. Why, I could tell you stories of this fellow," and he
nodded towards the horse nearest him, "that maybe you'll find it hard
to believe. I named him 'Solomon,' thinking it suitable; but the boys
they shortened it to 'Sol,' and that's what he goes by. I tell you, he
knows a thing or two, that horse."

Mr. Porter paused for breath, and Bessie, after waiting a moment or
two in hopes of the stories of old Sol, said,--

"We'll believe you, Mr. Porter, if you tell us those stories."

"So I will," he answered, "but not now. It takes the breath out of a
man trudging up these hills, and I can't tell you long stories now.
But you come into the kitchen some evening, and I'll tell you a bushel
full."

Maggie had found that "trudging up the hills" took the breath out of
a little girl, and papa's words soon proved themselves true; but she
plodded along perseveringly, flushed and panting, holding to papa's
hand, and happy in her belief that she was sparing the horses by her
own exertions.

And now they came to a level spot where all might rest. A beautiful
resting place it was, a perfect bower of the wild clematis, rock ivy
and briar rose, the latter now in full flower. The long, slender
sprays flung themselves from tree to tree, or ran climbing over the
rocks, while the delicate pink blossoms hung, many of them, within
the children's reach. Uncle Ruthven's warning checked Maggie's too
eager fingers until he could cut them carefully with his knife, and
place them in her hands stripped of their sharp little thorns. Maggie
thanked him for his thoughtful kindness when she saw the misfortune
which had happened to Hafed; for the little Persian, always anxious to
please his "Missys," had grasped too heedlessly the tempting branches,
and was now wringing his fingers as he danced about, half laughing,
half crying, and saying,--

"Prettys no good, no good."

Maggie and Bessie were quite distressed for him, until his master,
having taken out the thorns, bade him wash his bleeding fingers in
the brook which ran by the roadside. Bessie had been taken from the
wagon that she might rest herself by running about a little after her
long ride, and now she and Maggie, as well as Hafed, forgot pricks
and scratches in the pleasure of watching the brook, and feeling
its cool, clear waters trickle through their fingers. What a noisy,
merry, frolicksome stream this was, gurgling and splashing, rushing
and tumbling in its rocky bed; now leaping gracefully in a miniature
waterfall over some narrow ledge, now rippling and singing about the
roots of the trees and over the pebbles that lay in its course, now
flashing in the sunlight, and now hiding in a crevice of the rocks as
if it were playing at Bopeep.

"What a fuss it makes about nothing," said Harry, as he dipped his
fingers into the water, and carried some of the clear, sparkling
drops to his lips, "One would think it was doing a wonderful lot of
work."

"So it does," said Maggie, following her brother's example.

"What work does it do?" asked Harry, always ready to listen to any of
Maggie's new ideas.

"Sometimes it gives a thirsty boy a drink, and he is very ungrateful,
and says it makes a fuss about nothing," said Maggie, mischievously.

Harry playfully sprinkled her with the drops which hung from his
fingers. "And what else?"

"It waters the flowers and mosses and trees," said Maggie; "and the
birds and squirrels can come and take a drink too, if they like."

"And it makes a pretty waterfall for us to see, and a nice, pleasant
noise for us to listen to," said Bessie.

"All that is no better than play," said Harry.

"And it helps to make the sea," said Bessie. "Mamma said so."

"Ho!" said Fred; "much this little brook does towards filling the sea,
Queen Bess."

"But _it helps_, and does all it can, Fred."

"Yes," said Maggie; "one little brook runs on until it finds another
little brook, and then they join, and run on together, and then they
meet another and another till they all make a small river, and that
joins other little rivers and brooks, till there is a very large one
like that we sailed on this morning, and that runs into the great,
great sea that we used to see at Quam Beach last summer."

"Hallo, Midge!" said Fred; "where did you find out so much?"

"It's not my own finding out," said Maggie; "the other day my
geography lesson was about rivers, and mamma told me all that, and
Bessie heard too; so when we first saw this brook farther down the
mountain, we remembered what mamma said, and Aunt May said a very nice
thing."

"What was it?" asked Harry.

"She said little children might be like the brooks and springs. Not
one could do a great deal by himself, but every little helped in the
work God gave his creatures to do for him, just as every brook helped
to fill the great sea to which it ran; and if we were good and sweet,
it made everything bright and pleasant about us, just like a clear and
running stream. But cross and naughty children were like the muddy
brooks and dull pools, which no one could drink, or make of any use. I
hope I won't be like an ugly, muddy pool that does no good to any one,
but just stands still, and looks disagreeable all the day long, and
has toads and things in it."

The boys laughed at the ending of Maggie's speech, so like herself,
and Uncle Ruthven as he dipped a drinking cup into the flashing
stream, said,--

"I do not think we need fear that, little Maggie."

"No," said Harry; "there is rather too much sunshine and sparkle
about Maggie to think that she would become a stagnant pool, full of
ugly tempers and hateful faults, like 'toads and things.'"

"Yes," laughed Fred, "and she could not stand still with nothing to
do; could you, Midget Fidget?"

Maggie was in too sunny a humor to be teased by anything Fred could
say, though she did not like the name he called her, and she answered
with good temper,--

"No, indeed, I could not, Fred; but if I am naughty I suppose I do
not run just the way I ought to, and perhaps I grow a little muddy
sometimes."

"It don't last long then, I'll say that for you," answered Fred,
touched by his little sister's sweet-tempered honesty.

"No, it does not," said Bessie, who had been listening to the last
few sentences with a sober face, "and my own little brook Maggie is
the best and brightest brook of all the family. No, thank you, Uncle
Ruthven," as her uncle offered her a drink from his cup; "the water
tastes better this way;" and she dipped her tiny hand again in the
stream.

"But it would take you till sundown to satisfy your thirst out of that
make-believe hand, Princess," said Mr. Stanton, "and Mr. Porter is
ready for a fresh start."

So Bessie took a drink from her uncle's cup, and the other children
were glad to do the same, since they were now forced to leave this
pleasant spot.

Mamma said she thought Maggie had walked far enough, so she once more
took her seat in the wagon, and as Mr. Porter said they had passed the
steepest part of the ascent, the gentlemen and boys all did the same.
The scene did not grow less beautiful as they went on upward. They
could see to a great distance, and the view was very lovely. Behind
and below them lay hills and forests, with here and there a break or
clearing where some cozy home farm nestled, with the smoke from its
chimney curling lazily up into the quiet summer air. Still farther
down, the valleys with their glistening ponds and streams, and the
villages clustering here and there, their houses and churches looking
from this height almost as small as toys; while far in the distance,
flashing in the sunlight, rolled the noble river up whose waters they
had come that morning.

Around them and above them lay great swells of land, over which they
had yet to pass, rising one above another till they were crowned with
the lofty summit of the mountain. Here stood out sharply against the
sky a gray, bare mass of rock, with a tuft of pine-trees growing on
the very top. By some people this was called "The Point," by others,
"The Chief's Head," because they fancied it looked like an Indian's
head wearing a plume of feathers. It could be seen for many miles, and
long before our party began to ascend the mountain, Mr. Bradford had
pointed it out to the children. The boys at once imagined they saw the
Indian's head plainly. Maggie sometimes thought she did, sometimes
thought she did not, and was very eager about it; but now as the road
took a sudden bend, bringing the great rock into nearer view, she
declared the likeness was to be seen distinctly, nose, mouth, chin and
all.

Bessie could not see any resemblance, and since Maggie could, was
rather distressed; but mamma and the Colonel consoled her by saying
that they, like herself, could see nothing but a huge, gray stone,
crowned by a few lonely-looking trees.

"There's more fancy than anything else about it, I believe myself,"
said Mr. Porter; "if it was not for the old story probably no one
would see any resemblance."

"What story?" asked Harry, eagerly.

"Why," answered Mr. Porter, "it is said that a tribe of Indians once
lived among these valleys and mountains, whose chief died. He left
twin sons, both famous warriors, and it was doubtful which would be
chosen by the tribe to be their chief or king in the father's place.
One of the brothers was very anxious for this honor. He was a proud
and selfish man, who seemed to care for no one in the world but his
beautiful young wife, whom he dearly loved. His brother was more of a
favorite with the people, and he feared that their choice would fall
upon him, so he determined to kill him that he might be out of his way.

"The brother was fond of climbing to the mountain top, and sitting
there to look out over the broad lands which had belonged to his
fathers for so many years. One night when the wicked chief was
returning from the hunt, he saw, as he thought, in the dim moonlight,
his brother sitting in his usual place. This was very near the edge of
the rock, where a slight push might throw him over, and it came into
the bad man's heart to climb up softly behind him, and, with a sudden
shove, to send him down upon the rocks below. He gave himself no
time to think, and in a few moments he had reached the quiet figure
which was half concealed by a clump of trees, and, with a push of his
powerful hand, sent it whirling over into the valley below."

"Oh, the bad, bad man!" said Bessie. "He was just like a Cain, and his
poor brother who never did him any harm! I think that is a bad story."

"Probably it's not true, but just a fable," said Mr. Porter.

"Then they oughtn't to say it about the poor Indian," said Bessie,
indignantly. "If he didn't do it, they ought not to make it up about
him."

"And likely enough the man himself never lived," said Mr. Porter.

"Then they oughtn't to say he did," persisted Bessie; "And to make
him so wicked too. There's enough of bad people without making up any
more."

"Well, what was the end of it?" asked Fred.

"Just as the poor lost one went over the edge, a scream rang out on
the night air, and the Indian knew it was the voice of his beloved
wife whom he had thus sent to her death. The story goes on to say
that he was so stricken with horror and grief when he found what he
had done, that he wished the earth might open and swallow him, which
it did, all but his head, which was turned into stone, and so has
remained to speak of the punishment of his wicked deed."

"That tribe of Indians must have been giants then," said Harry,
laughing as he looked up at the enormous mass of stone.

"Now I know that story never was," said Bessie. "People don't be
turned into stone because they are bad, and nobody ever had such a big
head, and people ought not to say it."

Bessie had heard many a fairy tale, many a fable, and had never
objected to them, though she always preferred to listen to stories
which were, or might be, true; but somehow, no one could tell why,
this fancy about the rock seemed to shock her sense of truth, and
from this time she could never be persuaded to call it the "Chief's
Head." Her mother also noticed that when she was out of doors, she
always sat or stood with her back towards it if she could possibly do
so.

But they were by no means to mount so far as this before they came to
their resting-place. Chalecoo Lake lay a good way below the "Point,"
nestled in a beautiful basin among the hills, and here the road ended.
Those who wished to go higher must do so by a rough mountain path
which led to the very summit.

The children were delighted to see what a quantity of birds and
squirrels there appeared to be in the woods. The former were hopping
about all over the trees, singing among the branches, and seeming
scarcely disturbed by the approach of the wagons.

As for the squirrels, they were as saucy as possible, waiting and
watching with their sharp, bright eyes till the travellers were close
upon them, then gliding ahead to a short distance and looking back,
or perhaps leaping from one to another of the old fallen trunks which
lay by the roadside almost within arm's length.

Once as the party, who were all growing somewhat tired, were rather
quiet, they suddenly heard a long, loud chirrup; and looking round
to the side whence the noise came, there, upon a heap of stones, sat
a large gray squirrel, with his tail curled gracefully over his back
like a plume, and seeming to call attention to himself by his song.
Not in the least alarmed by the eager delight of the children, or the
whistling and shouts of the boys, he sat still till all the wagons had
passed, when he darted ahead of the foremost one, and seating himself
this time on an old rail fence, began his pretty call again, and took
a second close look at our friends. This he did five or six times in
succession, to the great amusement and satisfaction of the little
ones, who were beginning to hope he would go with them all the way
to the house, when with a pert, defiant whisk of his bushy tail, he
leaped down the bank, and was lost to sight in the thick trees of the
ravine.

At another time a rabbit ran across the road, but he was by no means
so sociable as Bunny, and scampered away as if his life depended on
hiding himself among the bushes as fast as possible.

"You wait till to-morrow morning," said Mr. Porter, as Bessie said how
sorry she was that the squirrel had not kept on with them; "You wait
till to-morrow morning and you'll see squirrels enough for the asking.
Tame as your little dog there, they are too."

"Oh, Mr. Porter!" said Bessie, "do you shut the poor little squirrels
up in a cage?"

"Not I," answered Mr. Porter. "I would not allow it on any account,
and never did. You'll see how my boy Bob manages them."

And now they came to the lake itself. What a wild, curious place it
was, such as none of the children had ever seen, not even Harry,
who was considered by his brothers and sisters quite a travelled
young gentleman, because he had at one time gone with his father to
Washington, and at another to Niagara.

Great masses and blocks of granite lay piled one above another round
three sides of the lake, here and there poised in such a manner that
many of them looked as if the slightest touch must send them headlong
into the waters below. And yet thus they had remained for hundreds,
perhaps thousands of years, held firmly by the Almighty Hand which had
given to each its place. Mosses and lichens, of all shades of gray,
green and brown, covered their weather-beaten sides, while their tops
were crowned with oaks, maples, pines and firs.

Around the southern side, and close to the mountain, which here rose
still farther up, up, steep and rugged, to the Point, or Indian's
Head, wound the road; and a dangerous road it looked, with the deep
waters of the lake on one side, the rough mountain on the other where
the huge boulders overhung the travellers as they passed on. But with
sure-footed, steady horses, and a careful driver, Mr. Bradford said
there was no danger, for the road was good and strong, "built upon a
rock," and kept in capital order by Mr. Porter and his industrious
sons. Still, more than one of the ladies drew a breath of relief when
it was safely passed.

Away at the eastern end, where there was a break in the rock, and a
little back from the lake, stood Mr. Porter's house, a long, low,
pleasant-looking building, painted white, with green blinds, wide
piazzas, and magnificent shade trees. Garden, orchard and fields lay
behind on the slope of the hill where it fell gently away to the
valley below, and the whole place told of order and industry, showing
in beautiful contrast to the wild grandeur of the other sides of the
lake.

So here Maggie and Bessie were at last, at the long-talked-of Chalecoo
Lake; and glad enough they, as well as the rest of the party, were to
be at their journey's end, pleasant though it had been. Ten hours of
steady travelling was tiresome work for little people.

In the wide-open doorway stood Mrs. Porter, waiting to welcome them.

"What a jolly-looking old lady!" exclaimed Fred. "I shall like her, I
know. She looks as if she belonged to this dear old place."

"That's so," said Mr. Porter, putting his head on one side, and gazing
admiringly at his wife; "She's as jolly as she looks, and as good as
she's jolly. My! but she'll spoil your children, Mrs. Bradford."

Mrs. Bradford smiled, and did not look as if she thought the
"spoiling" would hurt her children very much; and now, with a loud
"whoa," Mr. Porter drew in his horses, and his wife with her two
daughters came down to help unload.

"You see I have brought you a large family, Mrs. Porter," said Mrs.
Bradford, "but you have room for all, I believe?"

"Yes, and heart room too," was the answer, as the old lady took baby
from her nurse, and covered her with kisses. Miss Baby looked for a
moment as if she had half a mind to resent this liberty, but thought
better of it, and presently was crowing and smiling in the kind old
face, which looked so pleasantly at her. Indeed, not one of the
children could resist the cheery, coaxing voice and tender manner; and
in five minutes they were all crowding about her, as she told of all
the treats she had in store for them; and even shy Maggie had summoned
up courage to ask a question which had long been troubling her.

"Mrs. Porter," she whispered, pulling the old lady's head down towards
her, "may I ask you a secret?"

"To be sure, my lamb, a dozen if you like," answered Mrs. Porter.

"Do you have trundle beds?" whispered Maggie again.

"Trundle beds? Well, I believe there is an old one up garret," said
Mrs. Porter, "but I'll have it down for you, and put to rights if you
like."

"Oh, no!" said Maggie, "please don't. I _do hate_ them so, and I had
to sleep in one all last summer at Quam."

"Oh! that's it," said Mrs. Porter, "well, you shall sleep in no
trundle bed here, since you don't like it. Come along up-stairs, and
you shall see what nice little cottage beds we have for you young
ones."

So this trouble was at an end, and Maggie felt quite free to enjoy all
the new pleasures about her, without fear of the dreaded trundle bed.

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



II.

_THE SQUIRRELS AND THE ICE GLEN._


MAGGIE would have liked very well to run about a little on that
first evening of their arrival at Chalecoo; but Bessie was so tired
that her mother wished her to keep quiet; and as Maggie would not go
out without her sister, they both contented themselves with making
acquaintance with the house and the people who belonged there. And a
delightful house it was to make acquaintance with,--full of all kinds
of odd nooks and corners, with two or three steps here leading up
to one room, two or three there going down to another; queer little
pantries and cupboards and crooked passages, and altogether unlike
any other house the children had ever seen. Through the centre was a
wide, cool hall with a green blind door at either end, a capital place
for a play-room on a rainy day; and around three sides ran a broad
piazza, well shaded with vines and the noble old trees among which the
house stood.

From the front, one looked out upon the lake and rocks; from the back,
far away over hill and valley, mountain and river. Green fields and
meadows lay below, with here and there an orchard or a lovely piece of
woods. Then the rooms were so large and pleasant, with so many doors
and windows that not a breath of air could stir but a breeze must
sweep through them, while nothing could be more neat, clean and fresh.
Not a speck or spot was to be seen anywhere, not a thing was out of
place, and Bessie looking gravely about her as she noticed these signs
of care, said anxiously to Mrs. Porter,

"Are you very particular about your nice house, ma'am?"

"Well, yes," answered Mrs. Porter, looking around with an air of some
pride and satisfaction, "don't it suit you?"

"Oh! yes, ma'am," said Bessie, "it suits me very much, but you know
sometimes children make a little disorder when they play, and I only
meant would you mind if we mussed up your nice house just a very
little bit?"

"Not I," said Mrs. Porter, "there's plenty of hands to set to rights
any disorder you may make. Just you play away and don't trouble your
head about that."

The measure of Maggie's content was full when she followed the old
lady up stairs and saw the two neat, small, white beds intended for
Bessie and herself.

"Bessie," she said, a little later, "don't you think this place is
nicer than Quam Beach?"

They were standing together in the lower hall, looking out upon the
lake, while the rays of the setting sun came flickering through the
vine leaves, and dancing over the two little figures standing in the
doorway, as if it were bidding them a friendly good night, and giving
them a promise of a fair day for tomorrow's rambles.

"I think it is very nice," answered Bessie.

"But don't you think it _nicer_ than Quam, Bessie?"

"No, Maggie, for the sea is not here."

"But the lake is," said Maggie.

"But the lake is not the sea," said Bessie.

Maggie could not contradict this, but she did not feel satisfied that
Bessie should not be as well pleased as she was herself, and she said
wistfully,--

"But don't you think you could be a little contented here, Bessie?"

"I can be much contented here, Maggie," answered the little girl.
"Why, dear, do you think I would be so ungrateful of this very nice
place, and the kind people that are here as not to be contented? Oh! I
like the mountains very much, but not quite so very much as the sea."

"Oh, ho!" said Mr. Porter, who had just come up behind them and heard
what Bessie had said last, "so you do not like the mountains as well
as the sea? Well, I shall make you change that tune. Why, you don't
know all the things there are to see here. Before you've been here
a week you'll tell me you like the mountains a heap better than the
ocean."

But Mr. Porter was mistaken. He never heard Bessie say that. She
spent a very happy summer, and was well satisfied with all the new
pleasures she found among the mountains, but they never could make her
forget her beloved sea, nor could the old gentleman persuade her to
acknowledge that she liked the one as well as the other.

Bessie might well say they were nice people in this house. Besides Mr.
and Mrs. Porter, who have already been introduced, were their five
sons, "the boys," Mr. Porter called them. Queer "boys," Maggie and
Bessie thought them; all, save the youngest, great, sturdy men with
sunburned faces and toil-hardened hands. But though their hands were
hard, their hearts were not, and seemed to have a particularly soft
spot for all these little ones. Mr. Porter's family were all fond of
children, and never seemed to think anything too much trouble which
could possibly give them pleasure. Next to these grown up "boys," came
Fanny and Dolly, two lively, good natured young women; and last of
all, Bob, a boy about fourteen, quite ready to make friends with the
children, and to show them all the wonders of the place.

The first thing to be thought of after breakfast the next morning was
the squirrels. Bob was as anxious to show them to the little strangers
as they were to see them; and followed by the whole troop, he led the
way to their haunt. This was a great black-walnut tree, which stood at
a short distance from the house, and threw its green branches far and
wide, casting a delightful shade below, and furnishing a cosy home and
leafy play-ground for the squirrels. About half way up the trunk was a
hole which was the entrance to their nest. At this hour of the day,
Mr. and Mrs. Bunny and their family were generally to be seen frisking
about all over and among the boughs, waiting for the nice breakfast
which was sure to be provided for them by the kind young master who
had chosen them for his pets. If the squirrels could have reasoned
about it, they would probably have said that Bob Porter was a capital
master to belong to. He fed them and played with them, never shutting
them up or asking any work in return; their love was all he wanted,
and that he had gained in a way curious to see.

They were usually ready enough to welcome his approach; but now,
startled by the unaccustomed sight of so many strangers, every
mother's son and daughter of them scampered away to hide themselves
in the nest. In half a moment not the end of a tail or the tip of a
nose was to be seen, and the children feared that they were to be
disappointed.

But telling them to stand at a little distance from him, yet not so
far but that they could see all that passed, Bob sat down upon the
end of a log and began calling gently, "Bunny, Bunny."

Presently a black nose, two cute little ears, and a pair of sharp,
bright eyes appeared at the opening in the tree. The nose sniffed
about in a very suspicious manner, and the eyes wandered from Bob to
the group beyond, and then back again to Bob, as if they would ask,
"Who are all these strange people? Are they friends or foes? and why
have you brought them here?"

But at last, as if satisfied that the new faces were friendly ones,
Papa Squirrel, for it was he, put forth his whole head, next his gray
body appeared, and then his beautiful, feathery tail. Running along
a branch he curved his tail over his head, and sitting down, gave
a cheerful, chirruping call, which perhaps meant that there was no
danger; for in a moment the whole tree seemed to be alive with the
rest of the family. Eleven squirrels in all, large and small, were
counted by the delighted children. But although they watched their
young visitors from among the branches, they still seemed too timid to
come nearer and take the tempting breakfast which Bob had provided for
them; till Mrs. Bunny, either more hungry or less cautious than her
mate and children, came whisking down the trunk of the walnut-tree,
and in another moment was seated upon Bob's shoulder, holding in her
fore-paws the almond he had given her, and opening it with her sharp,
pointed teeth. This was too much for the others, and one after another
they descended the tree and received their breakfast. There sat Bob, a
squirrel upon each shoulder, one on his head, others on his knees and
hands, while one little fellow perched upon the toe of his boot, and,
with a very contented air cracked and ate his almond.

It was a pretty sight, and a proud boy was Bob, as he sat thus
surrounded by his pets, and listened to the exclamations of delight
and wonder uttered by the other children in a low tone, lest they
should again startle the little creatures. They were particularly
amused by the antics of one saucy rogue, who, not satisfied with the
share which had fallen to him, crept under Bob's arm, and actually
began thrusting his nose into his pocket in search of more almonds.
Not finding any, he became indignant, and raced off to the tree, where
he seated himself on the end of a bough, and chattered away as though
he were scolding at Bob for not having provided more.

"He is the greedy one of the lot," said Bob, "and I have to watch him,
or he eats his own share and then robs those that are weaker than
himself, if he gets the chance."

"But how did you do it, Bob?" asked Harry. "How did you tame them so
when they were not in a cage?"

"Oh! it's not so hard," said Bob, a little boastfully. "You see father
will never let me shut up any animal or any bird that is used to being
free; and I was set upon having a tame squirrel. This old fellow
here," and Bob pointed to the largest of the squirrels which sat upon
his shoulder; "this old fellow and his mate lived in the walnut, and I
was wild to catch them. But, as father said no, I thought I would hit
upon a plan by which they would learn to know me, and come at my call.
So one day I left two nuts here on the log, and went away. When I came
back some time after, the nuts were gone. This I did the next day and
the next, always keeping about for a while first. Then I put down the
nuts and went off yonder to that maple, where I waited. It's not so
far but that the squirrels could see me, but after watching me for
a few moments as if they thought I might be laying a trap for them,
they whisked down after the nuts, and then whisked back again in a
terrible hurry. Every day I came a little nearer than the day before,
and they soon learned to know me; I could even see that they watched
for me. At last one day I laid a couple of almonds on one end of the
log, and sat down on the other. It was a good while before they would
come down that day, but at last they did, and after that I had no more
trouble. When they found I did not try to touch them, they came nearer
and nearer, till at last they took the nuts from my hand, and now as
you see, they are as tame as squirrels could be, and have taught their
young ones to have no fear of me. It is two years this summer since I
tamed the old pair, and now the rest all know me as well as they do."

"It's jolly fun to see them," said Fred.

"And it's a great deal jolly funnier than if you caught them and shut
them up in a cage, is it not?" said Bessie.

The boys laughed.

"Yes, indeed," answered Bob. "Hi, hi! what ails the fellows?" as all
the squirrels sprang from him and whisked up the walnut tree. What
"ailed the fellows," was soon seen, for even as he spoke, Flossy,
who had been left shut up in the house lest he should frighten the
bunnies, came tearing round a great rock, and rushed to the foot of
the tree, where he commenced a great barking. But the squirrels were
all safe in their green house, and as if they knew this, peeped down
from among the leaves at Flossy with the greatest unconcern.

Flossy was followed by papa, Uncle Ruthven and the Colonel; and Uncle
Ruthven confessed himself the guilty person who had let Flossy escape
out of his prison.

"The poor fellow thought it hard he should not have his share of fun,
and was making a pitiful whining and whimpering," said Mr. Stanton,
"so I let him out on the promise that he should be good."

"But how could he promise when he can't speak?" said Bessie.

"I asked him if he would be quiet and good like a well brought up
puppy if I let him out, and he said 'wow,' which in dog language means
yes, does it not?" asked Uncle Ruthven.

"And it means no, and thank you, and if you please, and I love you,
and everything else he wants to say," said Maggie, catching up her
frisky pet in her arms and giving him a hug, which he returned by
putting his cold nose in her face, after which he struggled to be put
down again, for so glad was he to be free this pleasant morning that
he wished to show it by frolicking about on his own four feet.

And now papa proposed they should visit the Ice Glen, to which the
children, who had had enough of the squirrels for the present, readily
agreed. This Ice Glen was a very wonderful place, interesting even to
grown people, and the whole party were anxious to visit it; so they
stopped at the house that mamma and the other ladies might join them.
The last part of the walk was rather rough, and it was as much as the
Colonel, with the help of his cane and Mr. Bradford's arm, could do
to make his way over the rocks and fallen trees. Uncle Ruthven helped
the ladies, and lifted the little girls over such places as were too
hard for them. But Maggie would not have much help, and scrambled and
climbed almost as if she had been a squirrel herself. As for Flossy,
if he had made that promise of which Uncle Ruthven spoke, he certainly
did not keep it.

Bessie said she thought that "wow" had meant no, not yes.

First, the mischievous puppy started a little black and white rabbit,
and sent it scampering away as fast as its feet could carry it,
rushing after it among all the underbrush and briars, and never
heeding the coaxing calls of his little mistresses or the louder and
sterner voices of their brothers; then coming back he rushed into a
brook which ran by the way, and after rolling himself in it till the
water was dripping from his silky coat, he shook himself and sent a
shower of drops over the clean white dresses of the little girls; and
then finding the hole of a wood-chuck, he began scratching and burying
himself in the earth in a frenzy to find the poor creature; so that,
his hair being wet, he was a sight to behold when Harry pulled him
out, covered with mud from head to foot, and had to be sent behind in
disgrace.

The Ice Glen was truly a curious spot. A narrow pathway led through
it, on one side of which was a wall of rock, so steep that not even
nimble Fred could have climbed it; on the other was a shelving bank
covered with tall pines and firs. It was a gloomy place where the sun
never shone, and our party felt the chill from it before they entered,
so that mamma said she was half afraid to have Bessie go in, so great
was the change from the warm summer air without. But Mr. Bradford said
there was no danger if they did not stay too long, or sit down in the
glen. At the foot of the wall of rock lay great stones piled one over
another; and looking through the spaces between these, the little
girls saw masses of ice hard as the rock above, which lay there all
the year round. How far below the surface they reached, no one knew;
but there must have been a great quantity of ice there, since summer
or winter, it never disappeared. Little rills and springs, cold as the
ice itself, and delicious to drink, slowly trickled from each end of
the glen, but though they ran all summer long, they never seemed to
make any difference in the great mass which lay within. The children
thought it wonderful, as indeed it was, and were very unwilling to
come away when mamma said they had stayed there as long as she thought
safe. They were forbidden to go there without some grown person, but
this command was scarcely needed by the little girls, since Bessie
could not have made her way alone without the help of some stronger
hand; and though Maggie thought the glen a great curiosity, she did
not like the chill and gloom of the place, and was glad to come out
once more into the bright sunshine which met them at the entrance.

And here there was another thing which interested her and Bessie very
much. Directly over the little stream which ran from the glen, was a
small, neat, wooden building, carefully closed. The children had asked
what it was when they passed it the first time, but papa said he did
not know; it had been put up since he had been there last. But now
they saw Fanny Porter unlocking the door, and Maggie and Bessie ran
eagerly forward to ask the use of the little house.

"I'll show you," said Fanny, good-naturedly, and she threw open the
door and window shutters, letting in the light and air. "This is our
new dairy, Mrs. Bradford," she continued, as the older people came
nearer. "Will you not walk in with the other ladies and gentlemen?"

The whole party were well pleased to enter the neat, pleasant-looking
dairy. The floor was paved with large flat stones, sloping from the
front and back of the building towards the middle, and through the
channel thus formed was led the clear, cold stream which ran from the
glen. In the icy water stood several great earthen pots, carefully
covered. Around the room ran a broad shelf, also of stone, and on this
were placed the bright tin pans, most of them now full of milk, and in
one corner were two or three churns. The whole dairy was as neat as
hands could make it, so it was quite a pleasure to think of milk and
butter which should come from such a place.

"Father thought he would make the Ice Glen useful as well as curious,"
said Fanny Porter. "See, Mrs. Bradford, what this cold water does for
our butter;" and taking the cover from one of the stone pots, she
handed a wooden spaddle to the lady. Mrs. Bradford pressed it upon the
butter, which she found almost as firm and hard as the rock.

"Do you make butter here?" asked Bessie.

"Indeed we do," said Fanny. "I am going to churn now, and if your
mother will let you stay, you may see how I do it."

Permission was given, and the grown people went away, leaving Maggie
and Bessie with the good-natured Fanny.

"Could you let us help you a little?" asked Bessie.

"Help me?" repeated Fanny, looking with a smile at the tiny figure she
was just lifting upon a high stool, the only seat the dairy contained.
"I guess you do not know what hard work churning is, do you?"

"Oh, we are accustomed to it," said Bessie. "We have a little churn at
home, and we churn water, only it never makes butter."

"No, I suppose not," said Fanny. "And now would you like a drink after
your walk?"

The children said they would, and taking down a dipper from the wall,
Fanny gave them a drink of the rich, cold milk. After this she poured
into the churn a quantity of thick, yellow cream, and putting on the
cover, she told Bessie to stand upon the stool and go to work.

But Bessie found churning water in her own little churn at home, was
a very different thing from trying to make the butter come with that
heavy dasher; she could scarcely stir it, and in a moment she was
quite satisfied. Maggie being stronger, pulled the dasher up and down
a few times, and did not give up until she was red in the face, and
her little hands were smarting with the hard work they were not used
to.

The butter did not come by any means as quickly as the children
expected, even when Fanny took hold; and, tired of waiting for it,
they presently began to amuse themselves with sailing the acorn cups
which they had picked up in their walk, in the stream which ran
through the dairy. It was great fun to launch them at the upper end,
and watch them as they floated down, now driven against a butter pot,
now passing round it, and at last carried out at the farther end of
the dairy.

By the time they had had enough of this amusement, the kind Fanny
said the butter had come, and taking off the cover of the churn, she
dashed in a quantity of cold water from that convenient little stream,
having first lifted Maggie and Bessie upon the shelf, so that they
might be high enough to look down into the churn. The butter which
was floating about in tiny lumps, instantly collected together, and
bringing a dish, Fanny scooped it out with a wooden ladle, and laid it
in a rich, creamy mass. Then she threw in a little salt, and having
worked and pressed it till it was free from every drop of water, she
packed it away in a stone pot, and set that with the others in the
running water. The children watched her with great interest until all
was done, and were still standing by while she skimmed the cream from
some of the many pans of milk, when Jane came to tell them their mamma
wished them to come back to the house.

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



III.

_A VISIT TO AUNT PATTY._


MR. BRADFORD had brought from the city a famous rockaway, or carryall,
large enough to hold all his own family and one or two persons beside;
light but strong, and just the thing for these mountain roads. The
first use to which it was to be put was to take them all for two
visits that afternoon, one to Aunt Patty, the other to the homestead
where Cousin Alexander lived. It was a bright, sunny afternoon, yet
not too warm to be pleasant, the air was gay with the hum of bees and
butterflies, the blue sky, dappled with fleecy clouds, was reflected
in the clear water, mingled with the shadow of the rocks and trees;
swallows skimmed over the surface of the lake, chasing the myriads of
insects which hummed in the summer air; and as the carriage drove
along the road which lay between the water and the great overhanging
rocks, more than one fish was seen to dart swiftly away from the shady
pool where he had been snugly lying till disturbed by the rumble of
the wheels.

They did not go down the mountain by the road up which they had come
the night before, but struck into another which led in an opposite
direction. It ran through the forest for a long distance, and was not
so steep, and more shady, which was no objection on this warm day.

"Stop at Todd's cottage, if you please, Mr. Porter," said Mr.
Bradford, as they came out of the forest and saw before them a small
farm-house, with half a dozen out-buildings about it.

"Who is Todd, papa?" asked Maggie.

But before Mr. Bradford could answer, all curiosity about Todd, or why
they were to stop at his house, was set at rest. As they turned the
corner they saw, standing in the porch of the farm-house, a woman with
a baby in her arms; while hanging over the gate and whistling as he
looked up the road, was a boy about the size of Fred. They were Mrs.
Richards and Willie, no longer "blind Willie," the sightless little
child whose sad face and patient, waiting manner, had so touched the
hearts of all who looked upon him. A delicate looking boy Willie was
still, though two weeks' stay in this fresh, pure, mountain air had
done wonders for him. It was a pretty sight to see his delight in all
about him, in the sunshine and clouds, in the blue sky and the bright
water, in the grass and flowers, in birds and animals, and above all
in the dear faces which had been shut out from his poor eyes for so
many weary months.

A light flush mounted to his pale cheeks as he caught sight of his
friends in the carriage, the good, kind friends to whom he owed so
much; and calling to his mother, he sprang from the gate, as Mr.
Porter drew in his horses, and hastened to open it.

"Never mind, Willie," said Mr. Bradford; "we cannot come in this
afternoon. Some other day, perhaps; but now we only stopped to ask how
you are coming on? How do you do, Mrs. Richards?"

"Bravely, sir," answered the smiling Mrs. Richards; "and as for Willie
and the baby, they are improving wonderfully, thanks to your kindness."

"It is my little girls you must thank, Mrs. Richards," said Mr.
Bradford.

"But we don't want to be thanked," said Bessie, quickly. "We quite
liked to have you come up here, Mrs. Richards, and we felt very much
thankful ourselves when Uncle Ruthven gave us the money to send you."

"Willie," said Maggie, "do you enjoy being _disblinded_ just as much
as you did at first?"

"Oh, yes," answered Willie, laughing at Maggie's new word; "and
everything looks so much nicer than it did before I was blind.
Somehow, I think the world _did_ grow prettier while I could not see
it, though mother says it only seems so to me."

"Ah, that is often the way, Willie," said Mr. Bradford. "God sometimes
has to teach us the worth of the blessings He has given us by taking
them from us."

After a little more talk with Willie and his mother, they bade
good-by; kind Mr. Porter first saying he would send down for Willie
some day and let him come up to his place.

They drove on till they came to the more open country, and saw before
them Aunt Patty's house, and beyond that, the grand old homestead of
which they had heard so much, and of which papa was so fond.

Aunt Patty's home was a pretty, snug cottage on the side of a hill;
its front covered with a beautiful trumpet creeper, which went
climbing up to the very top of the many-cornered old chimney, and
wreathing itself over the little porch and the bow window of the
sitting-room, until the house looked like a quiet green nest. A great
white cat peeped out from behind the geraniums which filled the
window; a greyhound lay upon the doormat, and beneath and about the
porch hung several bird-cages, containing half a dozen canaries and
two mocking-birds, while a donkey and a tame goat looked, the one
over, the other between the bars of the fence which divided their
little pasture ground from the neat garden. For Aunt Patty was very
fond of dumb pets, and had collected about her a number, each one of
which knew her voice, and would come at her call; and she was never
sharp and short with them as she sometimes was with her own fellow
creatures, for they never, even by accident, gave her offence.

The old lady herself came to the door to meet her guests, more pleased
than she would have been willing to say, that they had come to visit
her on the first day of their stay at Chalecoo. She seized Frankie
in her arms and covered him with kisses; but that roguish young
gentleman after exclaiming, "Hallo, Patty!" would have nothing more
to say to her, and struggled to be set free that he might run and see
"dat nanny-doat and dat pony wis long ears."

Maggie and Bessie were more polite than their little brother, and
though they would have liked to follow him at once, waited quietly
till Aunt Patty asked them if they did not wish to run about and make
acquaintance with all her pets.

Glad of the permission, the little girls ran out, and turned to the
paddock, where they found Frankie seated upon the donkey's back.

The boys had not gone into the house, but after shaking hands with
Aunt Patty at the door, had remained without in search of what
amusement they could find. The donkey was the first thing that had
taken their attention as well as that of Frankie; and when the little
fellow came out clamoring for a ride, they were quite ready to indulge
him. Harry had been half doubtful if they had not better first ask
Aunt Patty's permission, but Fred had said,--

"Pooh! what's the use? She would let Frankie dance on her own head, if
he wanted to."

So Harry had allowed himself to be persuaded, and in another moment
the donkey, much to his own astonishment, found Frankie seated upon
his back.

Now this donkey was not at all accustomed to children; for those of
Mr. Alexander Bradford, who lived at the homestead, seldom came to
see Aunt Patty, and when they did so, they would as soon have thought
of asking to ride upon her back as upon that of the donkey. To be
harnessed in the little pony-carriage, and trot about with the old
lady for her daily drive, was all the work to which Nonesuch was
used; and when he found Frankie perched upon him, he was very much
displeased, and began a series of antics and prancings which were more
becoming some frisky pony than a sober, well-behaved donkey. But try
as he would, he could not shake Frankie off. The bold little rogue
was not at all frightened, and clung like a burr to his indignant
steed. It was hard to tell which would come off victor. But at the
side of the paddock ran one of the many streams in which this mountain
country rejoiced, shadowed with a growth of elder, sumach, and other
high bushes. Nonesuch had raced with Frankie to the very edge of this
little rivulet, and then stood still for a moment as if considering
what he would do next, when a hand, holding a long, thorny switch, was
suddenly put forth from the clump of bushes, and Nonesuch received a
stinging blow across his haunches. Down went the donkey's nose and up
went his heels, as he sent Frankie flying directly over his head into
the stream, and then tore away to the further side of the field.

Maggie and Bessie were very much startled, and screamed aloud, and
even Harry and Fred were a good deal alarmed; but the child himself
did not seem to be at all frightened, and when his brothers pulled him
out of the water, did not cry, but looked after the donkey in great
surprise, exclaiming,--

"Why, dat pony spilled me a little!"

Harry and Fred laughed at this, but Maggie and Bessie thought it no
laughing matter; nor did mamma, when alarmed by their screams the
grown people came running from the house. Frankie was drenched from
head to foot, and had to be carried at once to the house, undressed
and rubbed dry. Then he was wrapped in a blanket, while a messenger
was sent to the homestead to borrow some clothes for him. The little
fellow thought this rather hard, and a very poor ending to his
afternoon's amusement, especially when no clothes could be found to
fit him but those of little Katy Bradford.

Meanwhile Fred was off, no one knew where. At the moment Frankie had
gone over the donkey's head a loud mocking laugh had resounded from
behind the clump of bushes, as though the person who had given the
blow were rejoicing in the mischief he had done.

Fred only waited to see Frankie safely out of the water, and then,
leaving him to the care of his brother and sisters, darted across the
stream and forced his way through the bushes in search of the guilty
person. At a little distance from him stood two miserable looking
objects, a boy about his own size, a girl rather younger; both dirty,
ragged, and half-starved, hatless and shoeless. A wicked looking boy
and girl they were too, and as Fred appeared they greeted him with
grimaces and vulgar noises; then as he darted at the boy, turned and
ran.

Fred gave chase, and in a moment had overtaken the girl. But
hot-tempered and hasty though he was, Fred was not the boy to fight
with one who was weaker than himself; and he passed her without
notice, keeping on after her companion. But active as he was, he soon
found he was no match for the young rascal in front of him, whose feet
scarcely seemed to touch the ground, and who threw himself headlong
over fences and hedges, as though he had forgotten he had a neck and
limbs which might be broken.

So turning about, Fred went after the girl, and soon had his hand
upon her arm, calling upon her to stop. She did so, at the same time
cowering and raising the other arm to shield her head and face as if
expecting a blow.

"You don't think I am going to strike you?" said Fred, "a nice kind of
a chap I'd be to strike a girl. I say, what did you hit that donkey
for?"

"I didn't," she replied sullenly, "it was him."

"What did he do it for? Nobody was doing anything to him. And I'll be
bound you had the will to do it."

"He did it cos he had a mind to," she said, shaking herself free from
Fred's hold, "and he'll do it agin if he has a mind to."

"He'd better not," said Fred, "if he does, I'll fix him."

"S'posin' you can catch him," she answered, growing bold and impudent,
as she saw she need fear no violence from Fred. "'Taint none of your
donkeys."

"It was my little brother he meant to plague though," said Fred. "He'd
better look out how he troubles us again. Just you tell him that."

"He aint afraid of you," said the girl, "I jist hope the young un's
fine clothes was spoiled. Good enough for him," and making up a
hideous face at Fred she ran off a few steps, and then as if the
spirit of mischief within her were too strong even for her fear of
him, stooped, and picking up a large stone threw it with all her
strength. It hit Fred upon the knee with such force that, brave as he
was, he could scarcely help crying aloud, and was obliged to sit down
upon the ground until the pain had somewhat passed. By the time he was
on his feet again the girl was out of sight, and poor Fred limped
back to Aunt Patty's cottage.

Here the bruised and swollen knee was bathed and bound up, but Fred
was forced to keep still, not only this afternoon, but for several
succeeding days.

It would be hard to tell with what horror the children looked upon the
boy and girl whom Fred described, and who had done all this unprovoked
mischief.

After the donkey and goat, the birds, kittens and other pets had been
visited, there was not much to interest the children in Aunt Patty's
house; and they were not very sorry when the visit came to an end, and
they were all on their way to the homestead.

There was certainly enough to please them here. It was a grand old
house, standing in the midst of a grove of maples, and behind it
stretched an immense orchard, with its mossy old apple trees giving
promise of the rich harvest they would furnish a few months later.
There was the flower garden, delicious with all kinds of roses now
in full bloom; the very swing where papa used to swing when he was a
boy, the stream and pond where he used to sail his boats and set up
his water-mills; and beyond all, the large farm-yard with its many
outbuildings, looking almost like a village by itself; while from
one of the great barns whose wide doors stood open came the cackling
of poultry and cooing of pigeons, the lowing of cows and oxen, and
bleating of calves, all the pleasant noises of a large and thrifty
farm.

The children were all anxious to see the spot where the old burnt
barn had stood, the place where Aunt Patty had saved Uncle Aleck from
the fire; but all trace both of fire and barn had long since passed
away, and a bright green pasture field, where a flock of sheep were
feeding, took up the very ground where, as Maggie said, "the story had
happened."

The children of the homestead, eight in number, of all ages and sizes,
from cousin Ernest, a tall youth of eighteen, down to little Katy,
the household darling and pet of four, were only too glad to welcome
their city cousins and show them all the wonders of the place.

They had the most delightful summer play-room; one side of the
verandah enclosed with a lattice work, covered with flowering vines,
where they kept their bats and balls, graces, hoops, rocking horse and
other toys. They had a little garden house too, where they kept their
spades, rakes and other tools, for each child had a plot of ground
for its own, and every fall they had a flower and fruit show, when
their father and mother gave prizes, not only for the best flowers and
fruit, but also to those whose gardens had been neatly kept during the
summer.

Poor Fred with his lame knee could not run about with the others, and
as he sat on the verandah with his cousin Ernest, who stayed with him
lest he should be lonely, and heard all about the flower show, he
began to wish that he and his brother could have something of the same
kind.

"I dare say Mr. Porter would give us each a little piece of ground,"
he said, "but then it is too late to plant things, is it not?"

"Oh, no," replied his cousin, "it is only the middle of June, and
there are several things which you might yet plant. Then you could
join us and try for the prizes at our show, and I would ask father to
have it a little earlier in the fall, before you go home. There are
lots of seeds and plants that we will give you if you have a mind to
try."

Fred was eager enough, as he always was for every thing new, and
promised to ask his brother if he would like to have a garden, and
also to speak to his father and Mr. Porter about it.

"And your sisters, too," said Ernest, "would they not like to try what
they could do?"

"Oh! they are too little," said Fred. "What could such a mite as
Bessie do with a garden of her own? She might dig and plant in it to
be sure, but then she would not know how to take care of her flowers
and things, and she would only be disappointed if she failed."

"You and Harry might help her," said Ernest, "and even if she did
not have any fine flowers she might gain a prize if she had been
industrious, and tried as well as she knew how. It is not so much for
the worth and beauty of the flowers themselves, as for the pains we
have taken with them and what we deserve, that father rewards us. Why,
last year dear little Katy took a prize and for what do you think?
Why, for a poor forlorn zinnia which she had nursed through the whole
summer, and which bore but one scanty flower."

"I'll tell Maggie and Bessie then," said Fred, "and Harry and I will
do all we can to help them with the work that is too hard for them. I
am sure papa will be willing for us to try, if your father will allow
us to join you."

"He is willing enough," said Ernest, "indeed he was saying the other
day he should like it. You had better ask Mr. Porter for the ground
and begin directly."

Fred was so anxious to talk over this new plan with his brother and
sisters, and to ask his father and Mr. Porter what they thought of it,
that he could scarcely wait to do so till it was time to go home.

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



IV.

_LEM AND DOLLY._


As soon as they were all once more in the carriage, and the horses'
heads turned homeward, Fred told what Ernest had proposed. Mr.
Bradford willingly gave permission for his children to join their
cousins in preparing for the flower show, and promised to furnish
whatever seeds and plants it would be best for them to have, in case
Mr. Porter could give them the ground.

"That I will," said the old man readily. "And, by the way, there's a
plot in the lower part of the garden that will be just about the right
thing for you. There's nothing planted there yet, for I only took it
in this spring, but it has been all dug and raked over, and is ready
for whatever is to go in it. I'll give you boys each ten feet square,
and the girls six. I guess that's about as much as they can manage."

"More, I fear," said Mrs. Bradford, "at least such little hands as
those of my Bessie, are scarcely strong enough for work that could
raise any flowers fit to take a prize."

"But we will help her, mamma," said Fred "and if she tries, and
cousin Alexander thinks she has done her best, that is all that is
necessary." And he told the story of little Katy and her zinnia.

"I may try, mamma, may I not?" said Bessie earnestly, "Katy is a very
little girl, only four years old; and I am quite old, you know, for I
was six last month."

"Certainly you may try, my very old girl," said mamma, kissing the
little, eager, upturned face; "and I will do all I can to help you;
but then if you and Maggie do not take the prizes you must not be too
much disappointed."

"Oh! no, and I can have satis--fac--tion in my garden any way,
mamma," said Bessie, "in 'tending to it and watering it; and then I
can give my flowers to you and Aunt May and every one else I love, and
that will be enough of pleasure for me."

Mamma smiled and thanked her, and thought if her dear little girl were
to give flowers to every one who loved _her_ she would need a very
large garden with a great many blossoms in it.

Mr. Porter knew that Frankie had been in the water, but he had not
heard how the accident came about, nor of its after consequences; and
now as he saw Fred moving restlessly to ease his aching knee, he asked
him how he had been hurt.

Fred told the story of Frankie's ducking, of his own chase after the
mischief-makers, and of what had happened to himself.

"Whew--ew--ew!" said Mr. Porter, as he finished, "I am sorry to hear
this; sorry enough, sorry enough. Can you tell me what kind of looking
boy and girl they were?"

Fred described the boy and girl, as nearly as he could, and Mr. Porter
gave another long dismayed whistle.

"Yes, I thought so," he said, "there's no one here about but those two
who would have been up to such an ugly trick as that. So, they're back
again. I hoped we were rid of them for good and all."

"Who are they?" asked Mr. Bradford.

"Lem and Dolly Owen, sir; as bad a pair, and the children of as bad
a father as one could find on a long summer day. Poor neglected
creatures, they are to be pitied too; but it is useless to try to do
anything for them, for all help is worse than thrown away. They live
in a little tumble-down shanty back of the rocks at the lower end of
the lake, and a terrible nuisance they are to me and every one in the
neighborhood. The father is a drunkard of the worst sort, the mother
long since dead, and these two children, liars, vagabonds and thieves,
up to every sort of wicked mischief, and a terror to all the children
in Chalecoo. They live as they can, by robbing orchards, hen-roosts,
dairies and cornfields during the summer; picking up odd bits, and
stealing whatever they can lay their fingers on in the winter, half
starved and half frozen the most of the time."

"Can nothing be done for them?" asked Mr. Bradford.

"No, sir; as I say, it is not worth while to try to help them. All
that the father can lay his hands on he spends in drink. My wife was
distressed about the children, especially the girl, to think she
should be growing up in such wickedness and misery; and last winter
she fixed up a suit of warm clothes for her, and coaxing her into
the house with a deal of trouble, for she is as wild as a hawk, she
dressed her in them, and promised to give her and her brother a good
meal every day if they would come quietly to the house and get it. My
dear old woman hoped she might do them both some good if she could
but keep a hold on them in this way. But the girl just took what she
could get that day as sullenly as you please, never speaking a word
of thanks, and making no promises, though she did look mighty proud
of her new clothes, and hugged herself up in them as if she were glad
to feel herself in something warm and comfortable. My wife, knowing
what a thief she was, watched her all the time, and thought she could
not possibly carry off anything; but somehow the sly creature got
the better of her, and she had scarcely gone when a china plate was
missed. Now my wife set a deal by that plate, for it had been hers
when she was a little child, and the boys set out at once in search
of Dolly. Well, will you believe it? no sooner did she catch sight
of them, and guess what they were after, than she just dashed the
plate down on the rocks, smashing it to atoms, and ran like a deer.
They'd promised their mother not to hurt her, so they let her go; but
the next day she was seen in all her old rags, and we found the new
clothes had been sold by Owen at the next village. Of course they
went for liquor, and that's the way everything goes. Kindness is all
wasted on the children; they'll take what you give them with one hand,
and steal from you with the other, and then abuse you for what you've
done for them."

"Did Dolly and her brother come to get the nice meal kind Mrs. Porter
promised them?" asked Bessie.

"No, indeed; they've kept clear enough of the family ever since; not
that they are ashamed, but afraid."

"I should think they ought to be ashamed," said Maggie, indignantly.
"I never heard of such ungratefulness, and Mrs. Porter ought to serve
Dolly right, and never do another thing for her; she don't deserve it."

"Ah! my little girl, if we were all served right, and had nothing
but what we deserve, where would we be?" said the old man. "But that
did just discourage my wife, and she has left the wretched creatures
to themselves since. She saw it was of no use. Owen won't leave his
children a decent thing to their backs, a bed to sleep on, or a cup or
plate to eat from. My old woman is not the first that has taken pity
on them, and tried to make them a little comfortable; but whatever is
given them just goes for drink, drink; and we have all given it up as
a hopeless job. Besides, the children themselves are so lawless and
thankless, that every kindness that is done for them they only turn
into a means of mischief."

"Does the father ill-treat them?" asked Mrs. Bradford.

"Yes, he not only encourages them to steal and lie, but beats them
when they bring nothing home which he can exchange for liquor. We
often hear their cries away up at my house, but there's no way of
stopping it, as I see."

"And must these poor children just be left to go to ruin?" asked Mrs.
Bradford, sadly.

"There's no one can reach them to teach them better, I am afraid,"
said Mr. Porter. "You'll just get hard words and worse for your pains
if you try it. Why, there was the clergyman from down in the village,
came up to see them, and he brought along a bundle of good things and
gave them to Dolly; and while he was talking kindly to her, he got a
blow on the back with a big stone, and others came about him thick and
fast. He knew it was Lem, but what could he do? He could not see the
boy or fix it on him. And that's the way; they are both so sly and
artful, they are seldom or never caught in the act; so though when
a melon patch or hen-roost is robbed, or some fine young trees are
hacked to pieces, every one feels sure it was Lem or Dolly who did
the mischief, yet it is difficult to prove it on them. Lem has had
more thrashings than any boy of his size that ever lived, I believe,
but what's the use? It only makes him worse than ever. Farmer Grafton
caught him once stealing clothes from the bleaching-ground, and
handed him over to the constable for a few days; but that night his
hay-ricks were burnt down. Folks first thought it was Owen that did
it, but he was proved to have lain dead drunk all night in the liquor
shop down in the village; and then everybody believed it was Doll,
and with reason too, for she's just bad enough to do it, young as she
is. Last March they all went off, father and children, and I did hope
we should see no more of them; but here the young ones are back, it
seems. I trust Owen is not with them. If you little ones come to me
to-night, I'll tell you what old Sol here did for that fellow, and how
the dumb beast showed himself the wisest of the two."

"I am very sorry for Lem and Dolly," said Bessie. "If their mother
had not died maybe they would not have been so naughty. It's very
sorrowful for children not to have any mamma to teach them better.
Don't they have any one to love them, Mr. Porter?"

"Well, they seem to love one another after their own rude fashion,"
answered Mr. Porter. "It's about the only mark of good that's left in
them."

"I wish we could do something to make them a little better," said
Bessie.

"The Lord love you for the wish," said Mr. Porter, looking kindly
around at her, "but you could never do anything, you little lamb. Why,
they'd tease you out of your senses if you went to speak to them,
and they're not fit for the like of you to notice either. Just you
keep out of their way as much as you can, dearie, or they'll do you a
mischief if they find the chance."

Mr. Bradford here began to talk of something else, and they all forgot
Lem and Dolly for the time. But as they were about half way home,
Fred, who was sitting in front with Mr. Porter, suddenly exclaimed,--

"There are those children!" and looking before them, they all saw
the ragged, miserable boy and girl standing on a stone at a little
distance from the road side.

As the carriage approached, they darted away into the woods, but soon
after a shower of gravel and sand flying into the carriage, as it
slowly toiled up a hill between two walls of rock, made it known in a
very disagreeable manner that they had returned to annoy our party by
further mischief. They kept out of sight behind the trees and rocks,
however; and when Fred, who was furiously angry, begged Mr. Porter
to go after them with his long whip, the loud, taunting laugh which
rang from above told that their tormentors felt themselves secure from
punishment.

The carriage was soon beyond this narrow pass, and they saw and heard
no more of Lem and Dolly, and reached home without further mischief.

"Why, how long you stayed," said good Mrs. Porter, coming out as they
drove up to the door. "I waited to feed the chickens, as I promised
the dear little girls here; but I am afraid they want their supper
badly. Come along, my darlings," and with a pan in each hand, and
followed by Maggie, Bessie and Frankie, the kind old lady went out to
feed the fowls.

"Margaret and Bessie, come here," said Mr. Stanton, calling his wife
and sister to the door as they passed through the hall. "Is not that a
picture?"

A picture it was indeed, and one which mamma thought so pretty that
she had to call the rest of the family to enjoy it. Beneath a great
spreading pear-tree sat the motherly old lady, the last golden rays of
the setting sun falling over her ample figure, in her neat black gown,
white apron, and snowy kerchief folded over her bosom, spectacles in
hand, and in her lap the pan which held the corn and barley; while
around her were the three little ones dipping their chubby hands into
the measure, and scattering the contents among the noisy, scrambling
crowd of fowls, themselves full of glee and happiness at this, to
them, new pleasure.

[Illustration: Bessie among the Mountains. p. 86.]

There was one jealous old fellow, a pet rooster and a great beauty,
who would take his supper from no hand but that of his mistress;
and flying on the bench beside her, he courted her notice and a supper
by himself. Mrs. Porter was about to indulge him, but Flossy, who was
seated by her, watching with great satisfaction the feeding of the
chickens, seemed to think it quite unfair that he should not take his
chance with the others, and soon chased him from the bench. Upon which
the rooster refused to eat at all, and after pecking one or two of
the smaller chickens pretty severely, he strutted away with his neck
stretched very straight, and expressing his displeasure in a loud and
by no means pleasant voice. In vain did Mrs. Porter call him by his
name, "Coxcomb," which he knew quite well; he only flapped his wings
and walked farther away, screaming louder than ever.

"He is a very naughty bird, and now he must just go without any
supper," said Maggie.

"Ah! my poor Coxcomb," said Mrs. Porter, "don't you think he is
pretty?"

"Yes," said Maggie, "he is very pretty but he is not a bit good. He
is not at all 'handsome is that handsome does--' pecking that dear
little yellow chicken! I'd rather be that brown guinea hen who is so
nice and good, even if she is not so very pretty."

"Yes, yes," said Mrs. Porter, "that is the way, all the beauty in the
world will not make us loved if we are not kind and sweet."

The feeding of the fowls was scarcely done when they were called in to
their own supper; and when this was over, our little girls with their
elder brothers ran off to find Mr. Porter, and beg for the story about
old Sol.

The old man was seated outside the kitchen door, enjoying the lovely
summer twilight, and waiting, he said, to see if the children would
not come to claim his promise. He took Bessie upon his knee, and bade
Fanny bring a stool for Maggie, while Harry and poor limping Fred, who
came slowly after the others, sat upon the curb stone which ran around
the old well.

"It was just about this time last year," began Mr. Porter, when they
were all settled, "that I hired a new farm hand. His name was Ted,
and he was a simple, half witted fellow, easily led by those about
him. I don't think he had much judgment or conscience of his own, poor
lad, but was ready to do either right or wrong according as he was
persuaded at the moment. Tell him to do a certain thing in a certain
way and he would obey, unless some one else came along and told him
differently; when he would do as the last speaker said, and forget all
his former orders. He meant to be faithful, but of course he was not
to be trusted without a good deal of watching to make sure he was not
interfered with, and there were folks enough, bad boys and girls, who
were always ready to meddle with him and set him up to some mischief,
just for the bit of fun it would make for themselves. He was the son
of a poor widow in the village, who had hard work to keep herself and
her seven children fed and warmed through the winter; and Ted, who
was ready enough to help his mother so far as he knew how, could get
no steady work. No one had patience with the simple lad who was so
easily led astray without intending to do wrong; and who would come
and confess his mistakes with the most triumphant air, believing that
he must have done right since he had obeyed the last orders he had
received.

"But I thought with me and the boys to look after him, he could get
along here, so I hired him. He was a capital hand with horses, and his
work was mostly about the stable, feeding the horses, rubbing them
down and the like. He used to pet the dumb creatures and talk to them
as if they were human beings, and it was wonderful to see how fond
they all became of him, old Sol in particular. He would run to meet
Ted, and follow him about the fields just as your little Flossy there
follows you; or if he was in the stable would whinny with delight the
moment he heard his step.

"Ted had a way of curling himself up in Sol's manger and going to
sleep when his work was done, and the horse would never suffer any one
to come near or disturb him till he had had his nap out.

"Well, so Ted was doing very well, being obedient and industrious,
when one day about Christmas time my son Bill went down to the
steamboat landing to bring up a load of stores which had been brought
from the city. There was a deep snow on the ground, with a prospect
of more to come that day, and I did not feel just so willing to have
him caught in the storm. A snow storm on these mountain roads is not a
nice thing to be out in, I can tell you; but some of the stores were
pretty badly wanted, and we were afraid they would spoil, lying on the
dock.

"So Bill started off, taking Ted with him to help him load up, and
driving Sol and Nero before the sledge.

"When he reached the village he went to the post-office, where he
found a letter to himself, telling him his favorite brother Walter,
who was at college in the city, was very ill and wanted to see him.
There was but an hour or two before the train would be along, not time
enough for him to come up home and go back again; so he went to the
dock, loaded up the sledge, and giving the reins to Ted, bade him go
straight home and stop for nothing.

"Ted would have done this had he been let alone; but as he came back
through the village, a lot of mischievous fellows got hold of him and
told him he was to stop at the public house and rest his horses before
they set out for their pull up the mountain. When they had persuaded
him they led him on to drink, till he became noisy and more foolish
than ever; and when they had had their fun with him they let him go.

"As he was leaving, Seth Owen came out with his jug of whiskey and
begged to be taken up the mountain. Now I had many times warned Ted
against Owen, for I knew he was just the one to lead the poor fellow
wrong if it was only to spite me; but he told Ted I had sent orders
he was to take him home, and the lad was persuaded to do it.

"I suppose after they were on their way, Owen drank afresh himself,
and led Ted to do the same. However that was, the hours went by, and
when Bill did not come I began to be uneasy, all the more as by this
time it was snowing heavily. I was standing on the piazza, looking
down the road, and thinking if it was not best to yoke up a team of
oxen and go in search of my boy, when I saw the sledge coming up the
side of the lake. But no Bill and no Ted were with it, the horses
were alone, plodding along through the snow, and if ever it was said
without words, 'there's something wrong, come as quick as you can,'
old Sol said it that day. We pitched off the load, quick as lightning,
and I, with my other boys, started in search of Ted. My fears for Bill
were set at rest by finding, pinned to one of the bags, a note saying
where he had gone; for the dear thoughtful fellow had been afraid Ted
would forget to give it to me, and so put it where he knew I must see
it.

"Sol and Nero went straight ahead without orders or guidance, for I
just let them have the rein, thinking the faithful creatures knew
better than I did where they should go. Half way down the mountain
they went, and night was just beginning to fall, when they stopped
short in one of the most break-neck places on the whole road. We
looked about us, and there, sticking up out of the snow, was a man's
leg. We pulled him out in less than no time, but it was not poor Ted,
but Seth Owen. We searched all about for the poor lad in vain; when,
seeing old Sol was mighty uneasy, and stretching his neck out as if
he wanted to get free, I took him out of the harness, thinking the
creature might help us.

"Sure enough, he turned about, and going to a spot where the mountain
fell sheer down a hundred feet or so, he pawed away the snow, and
there, half on, half over the edge of the precipice, hung Ted, his
clothes caught by a bush, and holding him back from sure destruction.
He, as well as Owen, was dead drunk.

"We were putting him on the sledge when I saw Sol, who had trotted
back to the place where we found Owen, pawing away once more at the
snow, snorting and sniffing as if he were displeased. I went to see
what he was about, thinking here was some other fellow buried in the
snow; but as I came up to him, he uncovered the whiskey jug, the cause
of all this mischief. He smelled about it for a moment, and then,
with a snort of disgust, turned about, and dashing his heels upon it,
sent it flying over the cliff, then walked quietly to the sledge, and
placed himself ready to be harnessed, with an air which said, 'That
can do no more harm.' We lost no time in getting home, where Ted, and
Owen too, were brought round with difficulty. An hour more and they
would both have been frozen to death. So you may believe we have cause
to think much of old Sol."

"But how did the two men happen to fall from the sledge so nearly in
the same place?" said Harry.

"We supposed they were both stupefied, partly by drink, partly with
the cold, and that the sledge had run upon the bank, causing it to
tip sideways, and they had slipped off, while the load being securely
fastened with ropes had remained in its place."

"And did Ted ever get drunk again?" Bessie.

"Not while he was with me," said Mr. Porter, "and I hope he never will
again. When he was told of his narrow escape and of what old Sol had
done, he said, 'Nice old horse, nice old horse, he knew better than
Ted. He teach Ted never touch whiskey stuff again.' His mother moved
out west this spring, and he went with her; but I think his poor dull
brain has received a lesson it will never forget."

"And what did Owen say about his jug?" asked Fred.

"He was very angry, and swore he would make me pay for it, seeming
to think little of the saving of his life since he had lost that. He
managed to pick up another one in a day or two, and the lesson did him
no good."

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



V.

_THE GARDENS._


BESSIE thought a great deal of those two poor, wicked, neglected
children, who had no one to care for them; and when she went up to bed
and had knelt at her mother's side, and said her evening prayers, she
paused a moment before she rose and said,--

"Please, dear Jesus, send some one to teach Lem and Dolly about you,
and how you loved little children, and let me help them a little if
there is any way I could do it, 'cause I am so sorry for them. Amen."

Mamma laid her hand very tenderly on her darling's head, though she
said nothing, for she did not see how it was possible for her gentle
little girl to help the two forlorn outcasts upon whom all kindness
seemed worse than thrown away.

"Yet who knows what even she might do?" thought the mother, as having
seen each little birdling safe in its nest, she went slowly and
musingly down stairs to join the rest of the family, thinking as she
went of Bessie's simple prayer, "who knows what even she might do?
for--

     'Often such _childish_ heart is brought
     To act with power beyond its thought,
     For God by ways they have not known
         Will lead his own.'"

It would not be the first time, as the mother knew, that the seed
innocently dropped by that baby hand had taken root, and brought forth
fruit rich and flourishing in the garden of the Lord.

"Maggie," said Bessie, the next morning as they sat together upon the
piazza step, waiting for Mr. Porter to take them to the garden and
give them their plots of ground, "Maggie, would you not like to do
something for Lem and Dolly?"

"Yes, that I would," said Maggie; "I would just like to give Lem a
good soaking in the lake, and to make Dolly's knee hurt just as much
as Fred's."

"But that would be naughty," said Bessie; "it's not the way Jesus
would like us to do, and it's not the Golden Rule that you like so
much, Maggie. I think it is to give evil for evil."

"Well, I s'pose it is," said Maggie; "and it is rather naughty, I do
believe, Bessie; but I do not mean I would do it, only I would like to
do it. I think I'll be about as naughty as that."

"Don't you think you can forgive them, Maggie?"

"No, not quite," said Maggie. "I'll forgive them a little, but I can't
give them the whole of my forgiveness. Why, they were so very bad, and
did so many mean things to us, when we did not do a single thing to
them. Don't you feel a bit angry with them, Bessie?"

"Yes," said Bessie, "I'm 'fraid I do. When I think about it I feel
pretty angry. But I want to try and forgive them enough to do a kind
thing to them if I have a chance."

"Oh," said Maggie, "we could never do a kind thing to them even if we
wanted to. You see they just come and do something bad, and then run
away, 'cause their guilty conscience knows they ought to be punished.
And besides, Bessie, they're not fit 'ciety for us. The copy book
says, 'Shun evil company,' and mamma said that meant we must not go
with wicked people. And they are so ragged and dirty. You would not
like to touch them or sit down by them, would you?"

"No," said Bessie, quickly, for she was very dainty and delicate in
all her ways, and the thought of coming near the miserable, dirty
children was not at all pleasant to her; "but maybe sometimes we might
say a kind word to them without going very close to them; and if we
showed them we did not feel very mad with them, perhaps they would not
be so naughty to us. I am so very sorry for them, 'cause they have no
one to teach them better, and no mother, and such a bad father, who
tries to make them more wicked. If you ever had the chance to do a
little bit of kindness for them, Maggie, would you not do it?"

"I don't know," said Maggie, "that's a great thing to make up my
resolution about, and I'll have to think about it a little. Oh, here
are Mr. Porter and the boys. Now let us go."

"Maggie and Bessie, mamma wants to speak to you in her room before you
go," said Harry, looking very full of glee.

The little girls ran in, and there, oh, delight! there stood mamma
with a tiny spade, rake and hoe in each hand. It was quite impossible
to mistake who they were meant for. They were just of the right size
for our two small gardeners; and mamma's look and smile as she held
them out told that they were for their use.

Maggie gave a shriek of delight and went capering all about the room;
and Bessie's bright smile and the color which flushed her cheeks told
that though less noisy, she was not less pleased than her sister.

"Oh, you darling, precious mamma," said Maggie, pausing in her capers
to examine the pretty toys, "they are just what we wanted. How did you
get them so quickly?"

"I brought them with me," said mamma, "thinking that some day when you
wanted, something to do, they might furnish you with a new pleasure;
but I did not think they would prove useful so soon. You must be
careful of them, and not leave them lying out in the damp, or they
will be spoiled."

The children readily promised, and ran off to show their treasures to
their brothers and Mr. Porter.

Mr. Porter soon measured off such a square of ground as he had
promised for each of them, adding one for Hafed, who was much pleased
to do as the others, and fell to with a good will at digging and
planting. Mr. Porter also kindly gave them such seeds as would do
to plant at this late season; and papa, who had driven down to the
village with the Colonel and Uncle Ruthven, came back with a number of
verbenas, heliotropes, geranium slips and other pretty things, which
were set out in the new gardens. Nor was this all, for Uncle Ruthven
had bought a small watering-pot for each child, and they had gone to
the carpenter's, where the Colonel had ordered two wheel-barrows, one
of a fit size for Maggie and Bessie, the other a little larger for the
boys, and these were to be done in a day or two. In short, nothing
seemed wanting to success but patience and industry on the part of the
young gardeners.

The girls chose to have only flowers in their gardens, but the boys
had some vegetables as well. Mr. Porter told them the beds must be
kept nicely weeded, and watered when the weather was dry.

There was only one fault which Maggie and Bessie could find with their
gardens, and that was that they lay at such a distance from the house
that mamma could not allow them to go there without their brothers or
nurse to have an eye upon them. Not that they were not to be trusted
out of sight, but mamma did not think it safe for two such little
girls.

For some days after this, the four boys, Harry, Fred, Hafed and Bob,
seemed to have an immense amount of whittling to do. At all odd times
they were found with their knives and small strips of wood in their
hands, and these bits of wood were all fashioned into one size and
shape. But to what use they were to be put was kept a grand secret,
until one day when Maggie and Bessie went with Jane to work in their
gardens, they found a neat little fence about five inches high all
around their plots. The kind brothers had made this agreeable little
surprise for them.

"Our peoples are always doing nice things for us," said Bessie, when
they had thanked the boys.

"Yes," said Maggie, "I am quite expecting to be surprised all the
time."

At which the Colonel and Mrs. Rush, who were standing by, laughed,
though Maggie could not see why.

Meanwhile nothing more had been seen or heard of Lem and Dolly. Mr.
Porter had found out that Owen had not returned with them, and that
the two children were alone in their miserable shanty. One day when
Maggie and Bessie were out walking with some of their older friends,
they came upon this wretched home, if home it could be called. The
rock against which it leaned formed one side of the house, the other
three were of single boards nailed together. A square hole was cut for
a window, but had neither glass nor casement; and the door hung by one
rusty hinge, which looked as if it might give way at any moment. There
was no one about; Lem and Dolly were away, probably busied in some
new mischief or theft, and our party peeped within the open door. No
furniture of any kind was there. A heap of dried leaves and dirty rags
upon the hard, uneven ground which formed the floor, was the only bed;
and the little girls drew back in disgust. Without, upon the rocks,
were the charred embers of a fire, and over them two crooked sticks,
and they, with a battered tin pan, and numberless bones and feathers
which lay scattered about, told that there the ill-gotten food was
cooked and eaten.

It must have been a hard heart which was not saddened by the thought
that this was all the home of two young children; and Bessie felt more
pity than ever for Lem and Dolly. Maggie felt it, too, and as they
turned away, she whispered to her sister,--

"Bessie, I never saw such a dreadful place to live in. I _would_ do a
kind thing for Lem and Dolly, if I could."

It was a lovely spot, too, but for the signs of poverty and filth
around. Before them the mountain fell suddenly away, leaving on two
sides a beautiful view of the open country, dotted with its fields and
farm-houses. Away to the north stretched range after range of blue
hills, till those in the distance were lost in the veil of mist which
hung over their tops. The woods around were full of wild flowers,
briar roses, delicate primroses, and the bright red columbine, and
even here and there, a late anemone; the little star-like flower,
looking almost as if it had dropped from heaven, and wondered to find
itself alone and solitary, so far away from its sister stars.

A perfect silence lay upon all around; not a sound was heard; not a
leaf seemed to stir in the summer air; not a bird was heard to utter
a note; and a hush fell upon the party as they turned into the lovely
little wood-path which led them homeward.

Bessie lingered a little, with her eyes fixed far away, and her head
on one side as if she were hearkening to something.

"What is it, darling?" asked her father. "Are you not ready to go?"

"Yes, papa," she answered, putting her hand into his; "I was only
listening to the _still_."

Her father smiled, and led her on till they had joined the rest. They
were quite near home when the Colonel, who had fallen a little behind
with his wife, called to Maggie and Bessie.

"To-morrow is Sunday," he said. "Have you found a place where you can
have your Sunday-school class?"

No, Maggie and Bessie said, they had not thought of it.

"But perhaps Mr. Porter will let us have it in one of his barns, as
Mr. Jones used to do last summer," said Bessie.

"I have found a better place than that for you," said Colonel Rush;
"that is, on a pleasant Sunday. When it rains, we must find cover
within doors. See, here, what do you think of this for a Sunday-school
room?" And he guided them a little to one side, where a sloping path
and four or five natural steps led down into a broad crevice or cleft
among the rocks which surrounded the lake.

A lovely room it was indeed, carpeted with moss, curtained and shaded
by the green trees which waved overhead, and furnished with seats made
by one or two fallen stones on one side, on the other by a ledge of
rock which jutted out at just such a height as to make a convenient
bench for little people. The steps by which they had descended, closed
them in behind; in front lay the lake; beyond that again the gray old
rocks, the mountain rising bold and stern above the peaceful waters.
No glimpse of the Lake House or its cheerful surroundings could be
seen, unless one peered around the edge of the inclosing mass of rock,
and this the Colonel would not permit the children to do, lest they
should fall into the water which washed at the very foot of the pretty
retreat.

The little ones were enchanted, as was their dear teacher, Mrs Rush,
or "Aunt May," as they always called her now.

"I thought you would like it," said the Colonel. "I was strolling
about this morning when I came upon this nook, and thought what a
pleasant Sunday-school room it would make. So convenient, too. See,
this great stone will do for a seat for May, and here is one for her
table; while this ledge makes a capital resting-place for you. Try it,
little ones."

The bench certainly did very well for Maggie, but Bessie's feet would
not touch the ground. However, the Colonel made that all right by
rolling over a flat stone which answered for a footstool, and Maggie
and Bessie thought there was nothing more to be desired.

"Harry and Fred want to come," said Bessie, "do you think you could
let them, Aunt May? Sunday evening we always tell them the stories the
Colonel tells us in the morning, but they say they would like to hear
them for themselves."

"And Uncle Ruthven would like Hafed to come too," said Maggie. "He
said he was going to ask you. Hafed likes to learn, Aunt May, and he
knows English pretty well now, and tries to understand all that is
said to him."

"Certainly," said Mrs. Rush, "they may all come if they wish, and then
we shall not miss Gracie and Lily so much."

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



VI.

_THE SUNDAY SCHOOL._


WHEN Sunday afternoon came they all met as had been arranged, in the
lovely nook the Colonel had chosen for them. The little girls were
there with Harry, Fred and Hafed. Bob Porter had asked that he might
come too. Mrs. Rush was quite willing, but she feared that such great
boys would not care for the simple lessons she taught to Maggie and
Bessie. She knew they were all too gentlemanly to interrupt or trouble
her; but she thought they might grow tired or think it was like
babies' play; so she told them they might go if they did not like it.

But she was quite mistaken, for they all, even Bob, who was the
oldest, listened not only with respect and attention, but also with
great interest, and joined in the lessons with the best of good will.

Frankie was there too, for he had begged to come, and had been allowed
to do so on the promise that he would behave very well and sit still.
Sitting still was even harder work for Frankie than it was for Maggie;
but he meant to be good and quiet, and would probably have kept his
word if he had not been troubled. For by and by they all found that
even in this quiet nook they were not to remain undisturbed.

Frankie sat as far as possible from Bob, with whom he was much
displeased, though he had no good reason to be so. A short time before
this, the little ones had all been playing on the grass in front of
the house, while the grown people sat upon the piazza. It would have
been thought that it was not easy for any one of them to get into
mischief or danger with so many to watch them; but Frankie had a way
of doing this which was quite surprising. Never was such a fellow
for climbing as that Frankie, and his neck was in danger half a
dozen times a day, in spite of all the care that could be taken. His
mother's eye had been off of him for scarcely two minutes, when she
was startled by hearing Maggie say in a terrified voice, "Oh, mamma,
do come to Frankie!"

At the side of the house, and just beyond the end of the piazza stood
the old well, which supplied them with fresh, cool water. There was
a high stone curb around it through which ran a wooden spout, which
carried off any waste water which might be poured from the bucket.
This spout was partly outside, partly inside the well, and sloped
towards the ground. The children, who wanted a drink, had run around
to the well, and were waiting for some one to come and draw water for
them, when Frankie climbed upon the spout, and before his sisters
could stop him, perched himself astride the well curb. Mrs. Bradford
turned her head at the sound of her little daughter's voice, and
saw them both holding Frankie, the one by his skirts, the other by
his leg, while the child was struggling in a frantic manner to free
himself from their hold. Had he done so, he must surely have fallen
into the well. Before any of the startled group upon the piazza could
reach him, Bob Porter darted from the kitchen door, and snatching
the child from the well curb, carried him, still struggling, to his
mother. Mrs. Bradford thought it best to punish Frankie, and tying the
mischievous little feet together with papa's pocket-handkerchief, she
made him sit quiet upon the piazza steps for half an hour. When she
let him go, he promised to do so no more but he was not reasonable;
and instead of being sorry for his own naughtiness, was angry with
Bob, who had carried him to his mother, and who, he thought, had
caused him to be punished; and now he would not come near him or speak
to him, which amused Bob very much.

When the children had all taken their places, and had done expressing
their delight at the pleasant place in which they found themselves,
Mrs. Rush opened the school; while the Colonel with his book stretched
himself upon the rocks above, until he should be called upon for his
accustomed story.

Every child then repeated a hymn, except Hafed, who could not yet
master enough English for this, after which Mrs. Rush asked each one
for a Bible verse.

"Can you say a pretty verse for me, Frankie?" she asked of the little
boy who had just seen a fish throw himself out of the lake, and was
eagerly watching for a second glimpse of him.

"Yes'm. Dat's a pollywod, I dess," said Frankie, with his eyes on the
water.

"That's a great Bible verse," said Fred, beginning a giggle, in which
the other boys could not help joining.

"Hush, Fred," said Mrs. Rush. "What was that nice verse I heard mamma
teaching you this morning, Frankie?"

"Suffer 'ittle chillens--dat _is_ a pollywod, Fred--suffer 'ittle
chillers to tome unto me;" said Frankie.

"And who said that, Frankie?"

"Jesus," answered Frankie, bringing his eyes back from the lake to the
face of his teacher, and becoming interested. "Jesus said it, and it
means me."

"Yes, it means you, Frankie."

"And Maddie and Bessie," said Frankie.

"And all other little children," said Mrs. Rush.

"Not Bob," said Frankie, with a defiant shake of his head at the big
boy, who had to put his hand over his face to hide the smile which
would have way.

"Yes, and Bob, too. Jesus meant all children whoever they may be, or
wherever they are."

"But Bob is naughty," said Frankie. "He telled mamma to tie my foots."

"Bob is very good, and Frankie must not be angry with him," said Mrs.
Rush. "Frankie was naughty himself, and so mamma had to tie his
little feet so that he might remember he was not to run into mischief."

"Jesus don't love naughty boys," said Frankie, with another reproving
look at Bob.

"Jesus loves all children, the good ones and the naughty ones," said
Mrs. Rush. "It makes him sorry when they are naughty and forget what
he tells them, but he still loves them, and wants them to come to him
and learn to love him, and be sorry for their sins."

"Did Jesus say I was naughty when I wode on the well?" asked Frankie.

"Did you not know mamma did not want you to climb on the well?" said
Mrs. Rush.

"Yes'm; mamma said 'don't do by de well,' and I did do dere."

"And Jesus says little boys must mind their mothers; so he was sorry
when he saw Frankie disobey his kind mamma."

"Is he sorry wis me now? I not do so any more," said Frankie.

"He is sorry if you are cross, and do not feel pleasant to Bob,"
answered Mrs. Rush.

Frankie jumped down from his seat, and running over to Bob, put up his
rosy lips for a kiss, which the other was quite ready to give.

"Aunt May," said Maggie, "do you think Jesus _could_ love children
like Lem and Dolly?"

"He loved them so much that he came to die for them, Maggie. If he did
not love them, he would not grieve to see them going so far from him;
and to them, too, he says, 'Come unto me,' and stands ready to forgive
them, and make them his own little lambs."

"Perhaps they never heard about Jesus, and do not know that he loves
them," said Bessie. "I don't believe they have any one to teach them."

"I am afraid not," said Mrs. Rush. "Perhaps some time one of us may
find a way to tell them."

"They would not let us speak to them," said Maggie.

"If we could persuade them that we felt kindly to them, they might
listen to us," said Mrs. Rush; "at least, we could try."

"But I don't think I do feel kindly to them," said Maggie, "and even
if I did, I do not see how we could find the chance to show it."

"I do not say that you will, only that you _may_ find it," said Mrs.
Rush; "but if you have a chance and do not take it, it will be a jewel
by the way which you will not stoop to pick up that you may carry it
to your Father in Heaven."

"And Benito would not have passed it by," said Maggie softly. "We will
try to be like him, will we not, Bessie?"

When the proper time came, the Colonel was called upon and came down
among the children. His story proved even more interesting than usual;
and all, from Mrs. Rush down to Bessie, were so taken up with it, that
they were not thinking of Frankie, who for some time sat quiet between
his little sisters, busy with the Colonel's pencil-case and a piece
of paper, on which he was making scrawls which he called "pollywods."
He had seen some pollywogs, or young frogs, in the brook the day
before, and his mind had been quite full of them ever since; and he
was very anxious to catch one, and have it for his own.

Suddenly all were astonished by a loud sob and a half angry, half
frightened "stop dat" from the little boy; and looking at him, they
saw him with flushed cheeks, quivering lips, and eyes swimming in
tears, gazing up at the bushes which overhung the rocks.

"What is it, dear?" asked Mrs. Rush; and as she spoke Maggie and
Bessie both caught sight of a hideous face which thrust itself with a
threatening look from among the leaves.

"Somebody bad and ugly, he mates faces at me," said Frankie, with
another sob.

"It's Lem; I know it is," said Maggie; "and he is making such horrid
faces."

All looked up. No face was to be seen, for it had been drawn back;
but at that instant down came a shower of sticks, stones and dried
leaves, and the loud, taunting laugh they had heard before, rang out
from above.

This was too much for the patience of the boys; even cool-headed,
steady-going Harry started to his feet in a rage; and he, Bob and
Hafed rushed out of the cleft, while Fred, who still had to move
slowly, was only kept from following by the Colonel's express commands.

Colonel Rush was out of patience himself, but he knew it would only
make bad worse for the boys to get into a fight; and he would not
suffer Fred to go, and called loudly on the others to return.

In the heat of the chase they did not hear him, but he need not have
feared. Lem and Dolly had no mind to be caught, and were off before
the boys reached the top of the steps. Lem ran like a hare, and was
out of sight among the trees in an instant; while Dolly, finding the
boys were gaining upon her, threw herself upon the ground when she
came to the brow of a steep hill, and rolled over and over until she
reached the foot, not heeding the stones which must have hurt and
bruised her as she went. This had its droll side, and the three boys
stood above and laughed as they watched her, though Harry almost
feared she would break her neck. But she reached the bottom in safety,
and jumping to her feet with a loud whoop of defiance, darted away
among the thick woods of the ravine, and was gone.

When the boys came back, the Colonel and Mrs. Rush tried to have the
children all settle down quietly again; but the little ones were
uneasy and disturbed, starting at every sound,--the twitter of a bird,
the splash of a fish, or the dropping of a leaf,--and the Colonel,
seeing this, hastened to bring his story to a close, and take them
back to the house.

When Mr. Porter heard of the new trouble at the hands of Lem and
Dolly, he said they had no right to be there, for it was his ground,
and he should see it did not happen again, for he would not have his
boarders disturbed. He told Colonel Rush they had better take the
house-dog, old Buffer, with them the next Sunday, and let him watch
on the rocks above, so that no one could come near. Buffer was a wise
dog, and if put on guard, he would not leave his post till he was told
he might; so now the children felt they would be safe in their "Sunday
bower," as they called the cleft in the rock.

When Mrs. Bradford went up stairs with her children at their bed time,
she always read a chapter from the Bible to Maggie and Bessie, and
this night she chose the fifth chapter of Matthew. She had no especial
thought of Lem and Dolly Owen when she did so; but as she finished,
Maggie said,--

"Mamma, don't you think Lem and Dolly 'despitefully use us, and
persecute us?'"

"Yes, dear, I think they do," answered mamma, taking pains not to
smile.

"I am sure they do," said Maggie. "I do not know if any one could do
it worse; for we never did a thing to them."

"Then you know what you are to do for them," said mamma. "It was
our Saviour himself who said these words, 'pray for them which
despitefully use you and persecute you.' If we could do nothing else,
there is still this left to us."

"And could that be a jewel by the way which we might carry to our
Father in heaven, mamma?" asked Maggie.

"Yes, love, indeed it would be," said her mother, thinking as she
spoke of Bessie's heartfelt prayer for the miserable children a few
nights since, and sure that it would indeed prove a jewel bright and
lovely in the eyes of Him to whom it was offered.

Maggie's face looked as if her little head was full of grave thoughts,
and she went to bed more soberly than usual, whispering to Bessie as
she lay down,--

"We'll take up the jewel of prayer, any way, won't we Bessie?"

Dear little pilgrims! there were jewels in their way such as they did
not dream of; but it was only earnest seeking such as theirs which
could find them; for they lay hidden beneath many a thorn and bramble
and unsightly weed; and they were to be found only by the help of this
very jewel of prayer which shone so brightly that its light guided the
little feet to the dark places where the hidden gems lay.

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



VII.

_THE SILVER CUP._


DAY after day passed by at Chalecoo and each one seemed to bring some
new happiness. A book could be filled in telling all the children
did in this charming place, of the drives they took in the great
rockaway, of their rows upon the lake, of their walks in the lovely
woods and glens, and even of one or two wild clambers over the higher
rocks where the little girls had to be helped up and down, and Bessie
often to be carried in the arms of papa or Uncle Ruthven. Sometimes,
however, the grown people and boys went on expeditions which Mrs.
Bradford thought too fatiguing, or hard, for her little girls, and
they staid at home with grandmamma and Colonel and Mrs. Rush; for the
Colonel having, as he said, only one leg he could fairly call his own,
did not choose to risk that or his neck, by climbing up and down steep
places on the make believe one.

But there were always pleasures enough to be found around the Lake
House, and Maggie and Bessie were never at a loss what to do with
themselves when they were left behind, and could see these parties go
off without a word of murmuring.

Then there were visits now and then to the homestead and Aunt Patty,
and on the way there they would stop and ask after Willie Richards and
his mother. It was quite surprising to see how both Mrs. Richards and
her boy improved in this bracing mountain air. The poor little baby,
too, began to grow well and fat, and to look like other babies of its
age. It was a great pleasure to Maggie and Bessie to think they had
done so much towards bringing all this about.

Now and then Lem and Dolly gave them some trouble, though they were
never annoyed by them again in the "Sunday Bower." Mr. Porter and
Buffer took good care of _that_. But the boys had built for their
sisters what they called a "Fairy Bower," made by drawing together the
top branches of some young alder trees to form a roof, and weaving in
branches at the back. This pretty, leafy house was furnished with a
table formed of an old mossy stump, and with a couple of small logs
for seats, and here the children used to play, as Bessie said with
"the greatest cunningness." Here they kept house with their dollies,
having acorns for cups and saucers, and bits of flat stone for dishes
and plates; and here one afternoon, Miss Margaret Colonel Horace Rush
Bradford behaved very badly because her young mamma would not leave
her there to spend the night. It would be quite impossible to tell all
the trouble the mamma and aunt had in carrying this very naughty child
to the house, where she was immediately undressed and put to bed as
a punishment for her naughtiness. But she only remained there about
ten minutes, for the doctor said she was not very well and prescribed
a ride with the rest of the family. Perhaps this same doctor, Uncle
Ruthven, knew that her mamma felt lonely without her and wished an
excuse for taking her up.

But Margaret Colonel Horace and her mamma both had reason to be glad
that she was not left to her own will; for the next morning the "Fairy
Bower" was found destroyed, the cups and dishes scattered, the table
and seats rolled over the rocks, and the arbor itself rudely pulled to
pieces. It was easy to guess who had done this; and if the doll had
been left she would have shared the same fate or been carried away.

Another time the boys left quite a fleet of little boats moored near
the lower end of the lake, and the next day they also were destroyed.
But these, after all, were not very great troubles, and were soon
remedied; for another bower was built beneath two tall althea bushes
near the house, where no evil disposed person would dare to come;
and the boys took care not to leave their boats where they could be
meddled with again.

And when the first anger and disappointment had passed over, Maggie
and Bessie were more sorry than ever for the poor unhappy children who
could take delight in such wanton mischief.

The gardens were coming on finely, and though they were planted so
late, by the first of August they looked very green and pretty. The
slips of geranium, heliotrope, and verbena had taken root, and were
growing nicely, while lady-slippers, petunias, mignonette, and other
seed plants had sprung up, and began to spread as if they meant to
make up for lost time. Two of the former were the especial pride and
delight of the little girls; the one a rose geranium belonging to
Maggie. This, though a mere slip when it was set out, had shot up
and spread itself around, and thrust out new leaves and buds in such
a profuse, hearty, make-the-most-of-it manner, that it was quite a
wonder to all who saw it. The other was a heliotrope which had been
given to Bessie by her papa, and which also had been little more than
a sprig when she first had it; but it was now a flourishing little
plant, not running riotous in the way Maggie's geranium did, but fresh
and fair, with a cluster or two of delicate, perfumed blossoms, and
the promise of more. Upon these two the children bestowed particular
care, hoping, and not without reason, that Cousin Alexander would
think them each worthy of a prize.

That gentleman used to come up quite often to look at the gardens,
for he gave prizes, not only for the fine plants and vegetables, but
also for the neatness and order in which the gardens were kept; and he
always gave great praise to all five.

Perhaps Maggie and Fred might not have kept their plots in such good
order, or worked so perseveringly at weeding, raking, and watering,
had it not been for Harry and Bessie, who never forgot to go each day
and look at their plants, and never suffered a weed to do more than
show the tip of its head above the soil. When anything needed to be
done which was too hard for Maggie and Bessie, the boys would help
them with it, especially Hafed, who seemed to take more interest in
their gardens than in his own, and who would have done all the work
for them if they had allowed it.

Frankie had at last gratified his desire of catching a pollywog, and
this he did in a manner not quite so pleasant to some of his friends
as to himself.

[Illustration: Bessie among the Mountains. p. 134]

There was a little brook which ran by the side of the house, and
joined that which came from the glen, after which they went on
together until they emptied into the lake. In this the children were
sometimes allowed to play, since it was shallow, and they had great
fun there, building little dams, sailing the tiny boats which the boys
made for them, or dipping the water out in some small pails mamma had
bought for them, and carrying it from place to place. Any little
child who has played in such a stream, knows in how many ways it can
amuse itself with the bright running water. But the greatest delight
of all was a paddle in this same brook; and when mamma thought it best
they should not go on some wished-for excursion, this was sometimes
granted in its place, and was considered a great treat. It was at one
of these times, when Maggie, Bessie, and Frankie were all enjoying
themselves as much as three happy children could do; with shoes and
stockings off, pattering about with bare feet in the cool, sparkling
water, while mamma, grandmamma and Aunt Patty sat with their work upon
the piazza, that the little fellow secured his prize. He was stooping
to pick up a smooth, round pebble from the bottom of the stream, when
he saw a pollywog making its way from beneath a stone which lay half
in, half out of the water. In an instant he had pounced upon it, and
firmly grasping the wriggling creature, he rushed out of the brook,
and running over the grass as fast as his little wet, bare feet could
carry him, went up to Aunt Patty, and laying the slimy, muddy reptile
on her lap, exclaimed, with an air of great triumph and generosity,--

"Dere, Patty! dere's a pollywod, and I will dive him to oo. Oo may
have him for oo own."

To have the pollywog for her own, or to have him any where near her,
was the last thing Aunt Patty desired, for she had a great fear of
snakes, toads, frogs and such creatures; and now she started back in
dismay as the sprawling thing was laid upon her handsome black silk
dress.

The poor pollywog was as much frightened as she was, and was,
moreover, considerably hurt by the tight clasp of the fat, little
hand, and lay kicking and sprawling upon Mrs. Lawrence's lap, till
the old lady, rising, threw it upon the ground, where Flossy began to
bark at it, and turn it over and over with his nose. Mrs. Bradford and
Jane were taken up with rubbing the mud and water from Aunt Patty's
dress, and did not notice what he was doing; and the pollywog was in a
bad way, between Frankie who was trying to catch it again, and Flossy,
when the Colonel and Mrs. Rush came in from a walk; and the Colonel,
seeing the poor reptile would never be well again, speedily put him
out of his pain.

Frankie was much disturbed at the fate of his pollywog; but the
children buried it with great ceremony, which consoled him a little.
He wanted to keep it even after it was dead but mamma told him it
would become disagreeable; and for some days after this, the family
were much amused to see him constantly running to the spot where it
was buried, and putting his nose down to the ground to see if his
"pollywod smelt bad yet."

Fred laughed as if he would never stop when he heard of this, and
humored the joke all he could. He also, for some reason best known to
himself, nicknamed his Aunt Annie, "Pollywog;" and once when he went
to the city with his father for a day or two, the rogue actually
wrote a letter to her and addressed it to

"Miss P. Wog,
    Care Thomas Porter,
        Chalecoo Lake House."

Mr. Porter, going to the post-office, was given this letter by the
postmaster, and did not wish to take it, as he said no "Miss Wog" was
living in his house; but the direction was so plainly to the Lake
House that he carried it to Mr. Stanton, who was in the carriage,
and asked if he had ever heard of any one of that name. Mr. Stanton
understood the joke at once, and directed Mr. Porter to give it to his
sister, who was highly amused.

Fred was delighted when he heard of the success of his joke, and that
Mr. Porter had been completely puzzled.

There was one place of which Maggie and Bessie never tired, and this
was of the Ice Glen dairy. To go there each day with Fanny, and
see her churn, or skim the rich cream from the milk, or roll the
beautiful yellow butter into dainty little pats for the table; or, to
have the butter spaddles put into their own hands, and help Fanny in
this last piece of work; or sometimes even to pack the butter down
into the great stone pots,--all these were pleasures which never lost
their charm.

Bessie had a very handsome silver cup which had been given to her when
she was a baby by her Aunt Bessie, for whom she was named. Of this
cup she was very fond, and before she could speak plain would take
her drink from nothing else; and she had never lost her fancy for it.
Mrs. Bradford wished Bessie to drink plenty of milk, for she thought
it would make her well and strong, and the little girl herself thought
it a medicine that was not bad to take. So she not only had it every
day for her breakfast and supper, but when she went with Fanny to the
dairy, she used to take her silver cup with her, and Fanny would fill
it with the rich milk which did her so much good.

One morning the little girls had gone as usual to the dairy with
Fanny; and first Maggie and Bessie had taken a drink of milk, after
which Bessie had washed her cup in the stream which ran through the
centre of the little building. There could be no doubt that it was
quite clean, since the water was poured in and out of it about a
hundred times before she was satisfied. When she had washed it to her
mind, she asked Fanny if she and Maggie might make some butter pats.
Fanny consented; and when she had furnished them with a bowl of butter
and a pair of spaddles apiece, Bessie handed her the cup, and Fanny
set it upon the shelf that ran around the room. Now, this shelf was
just on a level with a small window at the back of the dairy. The
window stood open and looked out upon three or four great boulders, or
masses of rock which lay piled one on top of another just behind the
dairy, and were overhung with fir and pine trees.

Flossy had been lying with his nose on his paws, sleepily watching
his little mistresses at their play; but soon he suddenly started up
with an angry bark, and was about to rush out of the dairy as if he
were going to give chase to something, when Maggie caught him up.

"No, no, Flossy," she said, "you are not going after those poor little
rabbits again. No, no, sir; be quiet; I shall not let you go, so you
need not struggle so, or be so angry. There, that's a good Flossy."

But Flossy was not good, or at least, would not be quiet, and for a
moment continued to struggle to free himself from Maggie's hold, and
to give short, sharp barks as if he were displeased.

"It's not the rabbits he's after when he barks that way," said Fannie.
"He thinks he has seen or heard somebody about;" and, going to the
door, she looked around, up the glen and down the path leading to the
house. "There's no one here," she said. "What ails you, little doggie?
Did you think you heard some one who had no right to be here?"

At last Flossy was persuaded to be quiet, with the exception of a low
grumbling "woof" now and then, as if he still thought his wrongs too
great to be borne; and the children returned to their butter.

"Oh, Fannie," said Bessie, "you forgot to give us anything to put our
butter rolls in when they are made."

"So I did," said Fanny; "and here are my hands in this cream cheese,
and I cannot reach a bowl for you. See, take this milk pan that stands
on the floor, Maggie. It is rather large, to be sure, but it will do
for this time; and there is a dipper to pour the water in it."

"Bring the dipper for yourself, and give me my cup for myself," said
Bessie, "and then we can both dip the water."

Maggie brought the pan and the dipper, and then went for the silver
cup, but it was not where she expected to find it.

"Why Fanny," she said, "where's Bessie's cup? I thought you put it
right here."

"So I did," said Fanny. "I stood it just there by the window."

"It's not there now," said Maggie, standing on tip-toe that she might
see over the shelf.

"It must be, child; no one has been here to touch it," said Fanny,
leaving her cream cheese and coming to see for herself. "Why, where
can it be? I certainly put it just here, opposite the window, but not
so near that it need have fallen out. But we'll go round and look."

And out all three went, going round to the back of the dairy, and
hunting among the stones and bushes there.

"No, it is not here," said Fannie; "and I didn't see how it could have
fallen out without hands to help it. Oh!" as her quick eye, trained to
notice the smallest sign, or change which took place in this mountain
country, saw where the moss upon the grey rocks had been torn off as
though some one had slid over it. "Oh, some one _has_ been here. Oh,
Flossy did not bark for nothing. Some one has been here behind the
rocks, and when my back was turned, has climbed over, and snatched the
cup. What shall I do?"

And Fanny turned first red, then white, fearing that she might be
blamed for the loss of the cup; then scrambled upon the rocks to see
if she could find any trace of the thief. Two figures were in sight;
the one that of a man with a pack on his back, who was trudging along
the road between the mountain and the lake, going as if he were in a
hurry too; the other that of a boy who was climbing up the steep and
rugged path which led to the "Chief's Head."

Fanny took little notice of the former, though he was the nearer of
the two; but shading her eyes with her hand, gazed up the mountain
side after the boy.

"It's Lem Owen," she exclaimed in an excited tone. "I might have known
it. He has taken it. There's nobody else hereabouts who would do such
a thing."

Distressed at the loss of her beloved cup, startled at the thought
that Lem had been so near them, and still more frightened by Fanny's
excitement, Bessie burst into a loud passionate cry.

"Oh! make him give it back," she said. "It's mine; it's my very own
cup that Aunt Bessie gave me. I _will_ have it; the bad, bad boy. Oh!
make him give it back, Fanny."

Maggie threw her arms about her, and she, too, burst into tears.

"Come, we'll send some one after him," said Fanny, springing down from
the rocks and forgetting her open dairy; leaving butter, cream cheese,
all, just as it stood, she seized a hand of each frightened child, and
they ran towards the house as fast as Bessie's small feet could go.

Mrs. Bradford was not a little startled when they rushed in upon her,
all three excited and out of breath; and Bessie sprang into her arms
with another outbreak of cries and exclamations.

As soon as they discovered the cause of the trouble, Mr. Bradford,
Mr. Stanton, and Mr. Porter's oldest son started for the "Chief's
Head" to see if they could find the supposed thief and recover the
lost cup.

[Illustration]



VIII.

_A KIND WORD FOR LEM._


The path up the mountain could be plainly seen from below for nearly
half its length; then it was often hidden by many a sharp turn and
corner, or the trees and bushes which bordered it on either side. As
John Porter and the two gentlemen stood at its foot and gazed upward,
they could see nothing of Lem; and they went on cautiously, looking
from side to side lest he should be hiding among some one of the many
nooks and crannies of the rocks. But they did not find him till they
reached the very crown of the "Chief's Head," where they came upon
him lying full length upon his back beneath the shade of a pine-tree,
eating an apple.

They had mounted so quietly that not even his quick ear had heard them
till they were close upon him, and he caught sight of John Porter
turning a corner of the rock. Then he sprang to his feet, and, with a
guilty but fierce look, darted around so as to bring the pine-trees
between him and his pursuers.

But there was no chance of escape on this bare, high point of the
mountain. To throw himself down, or go rushing and scrambling over
the rocks and every thing else that lay in his way, as he would have
done in another place, would not do here, where a false step or a slip
would carry him to certain death; and, in a moment, John Porter had
his hand upon his collar, and giving him a rough shake, ordered him to
give up the cup.

"What cup? I aint got no cup," answered Lem.

"None of that; give it up now," said John, and plunging his hand
several times into Lem's pockets, he brought out, no silver cup, but
half a dozen large bough apples.

"My own Osborn apples!" exclaimed John, quite forgetting the cup at
this sight. "I'd know them anywhere. The rascal must have stripped the
tree, and it is the first year it has borne. I set so much store by
them! I'll fix you for this," and John gave his prisoner two or three
hard cuffs.

"Stop, John," said Mr. Bradford, "that is not the way to deal with
him;" and speaking gently but firmly to Lem, he told him that if he
would tell where the cup was to be found he should not be punished so
severely as if he still continued to keep it concealed.

But the boy still declared he knew nothing of any cup; and, after
hunting in vain for it among all the clefts of the "Chief's Head,"
they had to give up the search. There were a thousand places on the
way up where he might have hidden it, and it was useless to look
without some clew.

So, having picked up his beloved apples, John Porter led his prisoner
down the mountain, followed by Mr. Bradford and Mr. Stanton. They
had nearly reached the end of the path, when Dolly suddenly appeared
upon it. She was about to start aside, and either run or hide herself,
after her usual fashion, when her eye fell upon Lem in John Porter's
grasp. Now Dolly had heard nothing of the cup, but she knew that Lem
had meant to rob John Porter's tree of its tempting fruit, and she
was on her way to meet him at the "Chief's Head," according to his
bidding, and have a share of the ill-gotten prize. When she saw him,
she supposed that John had taken him prisoner for stealing his apples;
and Lem had too often before been in such trouble for her to think it
a very serious matter. She did not look for any thing worse, as the
consequence of this wickedness, than a whipping, or perhaps that he
should be shut up for a few hours; and, although she scowled angrily
at her brother's captors, she said nothing to them or to him, but
turned and followed at a little distance.

When they reached the house, Mrs. Bradford came out, and begged her
husband and brother not to be too hasty in making up their minds that
Lem had stolen the cup. For, when they had started to go after the
boy, it was supposed that Fanny had seen him take it, but it appeared
she had not.

Fanny, though kind and good-natured, was not a very wise young woman;
and when she had rushed into the house in such an excited manner, she
said that she had put the cup on the shelf of the little window, that
Lem had come over the rocks at the back of the dairy, put his hand in
at the window, snatched out the cup, and run up the mountain with it.

Now Fanny fully believed that Lem had done all this; but she did not
_know_ that he had, for she had not seen him. Wicked boy though she
knew him to be, she would not have willingly accused him of that of
which he was not guilty; but she had spoken as if she knew it to be
so, and the two gentlemen, thinking there was no time to lose if the
cup was to be recovered, had at once set out after the supposed thief.

But when Maggie and Bessie had been quieted and questioned, their
answers showed that no one of the three had seen the cup go; but when
they missed it, they had gone out to look for it behind the dairy.
Then Fanny, noticing the traces on the rocks, and next seeing Lem
climbing the mountain-path, had at once concluded that the bad boy
must be the thief.

Next it came out there was another person who might have made his way
to the back of the dairy and stolen the cup, and this was the man with
the pack on his back, whom they had all three seen going down the lake
road. This proved to have been a pedler, who had been up to the house,
and whom Mrs. Porter, who never suffered such people about, and who
did not like the man's looks, had warned off the place.

Still, every one believed that Lem had been the thief. The boy
stoutly and fiercely denied it; and Dolly, when she heard of what
he was accused, went into a violent rage, crying and screaming, and
threatening, if he was not allowed to go, all manner of revenge,
especially against the children, whom she seemed to think were chiefly
to blame for this. Mrs. Bradford and the other ladies tried to comfort
the poor, desolate child; but she would suffer no one to come near
her, cursing and striking about her in a way which made every one fear
to approach her. Mrs. Porter carried her some dinner, but she threw it
in the kind old lady's face, and then ran off as fast as she could.
Mr. Porter sent Bob and one of his older brothers to search once more
for the lost cup, and John Porter went down to the village to see if
he could find any trace of the pedler.

Meanwhile Mr. Porter said he should shut Lem up until the next
morning: a punishment which he deserved for the theft of the apples,
which he could not deny, since they had been found upon him, and the
tree was entirely stripped.

"Maybe it was that which frightened him, and made him look so guilty
when you came upon him," said Mr. Porter; "I am sure, bad and
troublesome as he is, I hope it may be so."

"I wasn't scared, neither," said Lem, sullenly; "takin' a few apples
aint no great; but I knowed for sure they was after me for some harm.
Nobody ever comes after Dol and me for no good."

Though this was said in a sulky, defiant way, there was something
in the speech which went straight to Bessie's tender little heart.
Perhaps it also touched more than one grown person there, and made
them wish, more earnestly than before, that they might do something
for these two poor, neglected children.

But Mr. Porter was no hard jailer. Lem was taken to a little disused
tool-house, where he was locked up, and one of the hired men put on
guard outside, so that he might do no mischief; Mr. Porter having
first provided him with a good meal, if he chose to eat it.

"Maggie," said Bessie to her sister that afternoon, "did you hear what
Lem said when Mr. Porter spoke about his being frightened when papa
and Uncle Ruthven found him?"

"Yes," said Maggie, "and it made me very sorry for him, and that thing
came into my throat that comes when you want to cry, and you're afraid
some one will ask what you are crying about."

"I wonder if we could not do something to show him we would like to be
kind to him," said Bessie.

"But he is shut up," said Maggie.

"Yes; but you know that there is a pile of logs by the window of that
little house, and we could get up on it and speak to him, and let him
know we would like to come near him to do him good. We'll go and tell
him we will ask Mr. Porter to let him out if he will promise not to
steal any more."

"Yes," said Maggie, "Mr. Porter said he would do any thing for me for
my birthday that I asked him, if it was reasonable; and I s'pose he
wouldn't mind doing it a little before, and I think this is pretty
reasonable, don't you, Bessie?"

"Yes, and that's a very nice idea of you, Maggie," said Bessie; and
this being agreed upon, they went off together.

The pile of logs which lay at the side of the tool-house was not
hard to climb, and they had more than once played upon it with their
brothers, and now they mounted upon it, and put their two little
faces close to the wooden bars which crossed the small window. It was
growing late, and the tool-house was rather dark, but they could just
see the boy's figure as he sat all in a heap upon the floor. As the
little light which came through the bars was partly darkened by the
two small faces, he started up, saying roughly, "Clear out now!"

At this, Maggie ducked, fearing she scarcely knew what; but Bessie,
though she also was rather frightened, held her ground, and said,
gently,--

"We want to speak to you, Lem."

"None of your speaking. Be off with you, will you?" said the boy,
looking around for something he might throw at the window.

But there was nothing on which he could lay his hands. Mr. Porter had
taken care to carry off every thing which could possibly be turned to
mischief.

"But we are going to do you a favor," said Bessie.

"I want none of your favors; let me alone now," answered Lem.

"But we are going to do it to you whether you think you want it or
not," said Bessie; "'cause you _will_ be glad of it. We are going to
ask Mr. Porter to let you out. Will you promise not to steal any more,
Lem?"

"I didn't touch your cup," said Lem.

"Well, maybe you did not," said Bessie; "I'd rather think you did not.
I'd rather think it was the pedler-man."

"Much you'd care who took it, if you once got it back," said the boy,
sulkily.

"But I would care, and so would Maggie," said Bessie. "I'd
rather--yes--I think I would--I'd rather be sure you hadn't taken it
and never find it, than to find it and know you did steal it. Yes, I
would, Lem, and I do love my cup very much."

"Oh! come now," said Lem, "you aint goin' to make me say I took it by
any of that cant. Are you goin' or not?" and he came closer to the
window, with a threatening look.

"We'll go in a minute," said Bessie. "This is my Maggie," and she put
her arm about the neck of her sister, who had summoned up courage
to peep in at the window again. "Pretty soon she is going to have a
birthday, and Mr. Porter said he would do any thing she asked him for,
and so she is going to ask him to do it for her now, and to let you
out. Will you be glad of that, Lem?"

"You aint a goin' to make me say I took your old cup," persisted Lem,
with some very bad words; and, too much shocked to talk to him any
more, the little girls slipped down from the logs and ran away.

But shocked and frightened though they were, they did not forget their
kind purpose; and a couple of hours later, Mr. Porter unlocked the
door of the tool-house. His son John stood by, a lantern in his hand.

"I am going to let you out," said Mr. Porter to Lem; "not that you
deserve it, if it was only on account of the apples, and I did mean
to keep you here till to-morrow night at least; but those dear little
girls that you've plagued so, have begged you off, and I couldn't
refuse them. So just you bear that in mind, my lad, and let them alone
for the time to come, or you won't find me so easy when next you fall
into my hands. Here," and Mr. Porter put a package of food into the
boy's hands, "take this, and be off with you. My son will see you safe
home; for it's an awful dark night, and you might break your neck on
the rocks without a light."

Had Lem done as he wished, he would have rushed off without waiting
for company or light; but it was a terribly dark night, not a star
was to be seen, for the whole sky was covered with the black clouds
which told that a storm was coming, and he knew well enough that he
could never find his way home over those dangerous rocks, without the
light of the lantern. John Porter, though a good-natured man, was not
at all pleased that his father had let Lem off so easily. The loss
of the first of his much-prized Osborn apples, while they were yet
half-ripe, had vexed him sorely, and he would have liked that Lem
should have been severely punished for that theft, even had he not, in
common with the rest of the household, believed that he had stolen the
silver cup.

So, although he had agreed to his father's wish that he should see the
boy safely over the most dangerous part of his way home, he did it
with no good-will, and trudged along in silence, turning over in his
mind whether or no he could resolve to let Lem go without giving him
a good thrashing. But he had been in the kitchen that evening, when
Maggie and Bessie had gone to the porch to speak to his father for
Lem, and he had heard all that had passed; and now, as he remembered
how sweetly and generously the two dear little girls had pleaded for
the boy who had treated them so badly, he could not resolve to give
him even a part of the punishment he so richly deserved.

"The little dears mightn't like it if they knew it," he said to
himself, "and I wouldn't like to be outdone in forgiveness by two
babies such as they are, so I'll keep my hands off him, though it does
go against the grain to do it."

Perhaps Lem guessed something of what was passing in John Porter's
mind, for he took good care to keep beyond the reach of his powerful
arm until they reached the miserable hovel which served him for a home.

"Well," said John, raising his lantern so as to throw its light within
the crazy door, "this is a pleasant kind of a place to pass such a
night as this is like to be. I'm thinking you'd have done better in
our old tool-house, my lad. Where's t'other one?" meaning Dol.

"Dunno, and don't care," answered Lem.

"Off on some new mischief, I'll be bound," said John. "Well,
good-night to you, if you can pass a good night here," and he walked
away, in haste to be home before the storm should break.

Dol was, alas! in some new mischief,--mischief such as John did
not dream of; or, although the gust swept through the forest and
over the lake, and the rain poured heavily down just as he set his
foot upon the threshold, he had not gone so quietly to his mother's
sitting-room, and read the paper aloud to her, as she knitted away on
his next winter's stockings.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]



IX.

_DOL'S REVENGE._


LEM had told John Porter he did not know and did not care where Dol
was on that dark night; but he had not told the truth when he said he
did not care. He _did_ care, for she was the only thing he loved in
all the wide world, and had he known where to look, he would certainly
have gone in search of her. But, reckless as he was, he knew that a
blind hunt over the mountain on such a stormy night would be worse
than useless; and he could do nothing but wait patiently as he might
till the morning came.

The storm raged all night: the rain poured down in a driving flood;
the lightning flashed; the thunder pealed without rest, echoing from
one to another of the mountain-peaks in a long, heavy roll; and the
wind blew in furious gusts, shaking even Mr. Porter's comfortable,
well-built house, and seeming as if it would lay flat the miserable
walls of Lem's poor house, so that the boy was afraid to stay within,
and sheltered himself as well as he could beside the rock.

He was troubled about his sister. In all their freaks, in all their
wicked doings, they generally kept together, and stood by one another,
and he had expected to find her in the hovel when he returned to it
that evening. He knew well enough that no one would care to take her
in for the night; for, if they did so, they were sure to suffer for it
before she left the place which had given her shelter. He waited till
an hour or so after daybreak, when the storm was dying away, and was
just setting out to look for her, when he saw her coming wearily up
the little wood-path.

Accustomed as he was to her miserable appearance, even Lem was struck
by the wretched plight she was in. The water was dripping from her
uncombed, tangled hair and poor rags; her face was pale, and her bare
arms and knees were cut and bleeding; and, although the morning was
clearing up close and warm, she shivered and drew herself together as
if she were suffering from cold. But the wan, haggard face lighted up
for a moment when she saw her brother, and she exclaimed,--

"Oh! Lem, did you cheat 'em, and break out?"

"No," said Lem, "he le'me out; and Dol, I say, it was all along of
those two little gals. They said they'd beg me off, and the old man
said they did, and I aint goin' to trick 'em no more. Where was you
last night?"

"In the Ice Glen," answered Dolly.

Lem gave a long, astonished whistle.

"You aint goin' to say you slept in the Ice Glen?"

"I didn't do no sleepin', but I was there all night, after I come away
from Porter's. But I fixed 'em down there fust," she added with a
malicious grin.

"But how came you into the Ice Glen; didn't you know better?" asked
Lem.

In answer, she told him how she had been hanging about Mr. Porter's
grounds till long after dark, when the storm broke, and she had lost
her way; and, after one or two bad falls, had found herself in the
Ice Glen; that, knowing the danger in the darkness of a fall over the
rocks or into the lake, she had remained there all night, fearing to
move till there was sufficient daylight to show her the way home.

"And what was you doin' to keep you down to Porter's so long?" asked
Lem.

The reply to this question, instead of being received with praise and
exclamations of triumph as she had expected, was met by a curse; and
poor Dol shrank down in fear of a blow; for, though Lem was not often
angry with her, when he was, she was used to feeling the weight of his
hand. But he did not strike her now, but turned sullenly from her, and
began trampling down the wet grass with his bare feet.

"What's come over you, now?" she asked at last.

"Nothin'. 'Taint no odds," he answered.

"Aint you glad I fixed 'em off so?"

"No: 'twant fair after they begged me off."

"They got you shut up first, sayin' you took the cup when you didn't."

"How do you know I didn't?"

"'Cause I know who did."

"Did you?"

"No, but I know who did; and what's more, I know where it is now," she
answered.

"Tell me then."

But Dolly turned sulky in her turn, and refused to say a word more;
and Lem, knowing it was useless to try to make her speak when she
did not choose, strolled into the woods to see if he could find any
berries for his breakfast; while she, still shivering from her night's
exposure in the Ice Glen, tried to kindle a fire from the wet sticks
which lay around; and finding this in vain, crept to her wretched bed,
and tried to warm herself there.

But it is time to tell what was the new piece of mischief by which
Dolly had thus brought punishment upon herself.

Two little pairs of feet danced through the hall, and out upon the
piazza of the Lake House that morning.

"Oh, what a nice, pleasant day after the rain!" said Bessie. "The
birdies are singing so to tell us how they like it."

"And it is so nice and cool after all the heat," said Maggie. "See!
see! papa, how the rain-drops are hanging on the leaves, and how the
sun shines in them and makes them sparkle. But what a lot of leaves
are lying about over the grass! and there is a branch broken and
hanging down."

"There is another lying by the well," said Bessie, "and those large
bushes are all leaning over. Did the rain do that, papa?"

"The wind did it," said papa. "The storm was very severe last night,
and I fear it may have done some harm to the farm and garden."

"Not to our gardens, I hope," said Maggie. "They looked so nicely
yesterday, and Cousin Alexander is coming up to-day to see them; and
if the storm did hurt them, we won't have time to fix them up again
before he comes."

"If my garden was mussed up a little bit, I shouldn't mind it so very
much, if only my dear heliotrope is not hurt," said Bessie.

"And my geranium," said Maggie. "We would be too disappointed if any
thing happened to those two. Papa, do you know when Cousin Ernest was
here the other day, he said not one of the children had such a fine
heliotrope or geranium, and he thought they were sure to take prizes?
and besides, he said our gardens were so neatly kept it was a pleasure
to look at them."

"Yes," said papa: "you have been very industrious and persevering, and
deserve much praise. Here comes Mr. Porter."

"What a terrible night it has been," said Mrs. Bradford, coming out
at that moment. "I could not sleep for the noise of the thunder and
the wind. I wonder what those two forlorn children have done: that
wretched hut could be but poor protection on such a night."

"Better than they deserve," growled Mr. Porter, in a tone very
unusual with him, coming up the piazza steps as Mrs. Bradford spoke.
"Good-morning, madam. A bad night's work this. I've just been round
with the boys to see what damage has been done."

"Not much I hope," said Mrs. Bradford.

"Well, not so much from the storm," said Mr. Porter. "The corn is
beaten down a little, but it will rise again in a day or two, and some
branches here and there stripped off; but there's been worse than the
wind and rain abroad last night. Mr. Bradford, I'll speak with you a
minute, sir."

Mr. Bradford walked aside with the old man, who said to him in a low
voice,--

"There's a sore trouble in store for those little dears, and I hadn't
the heart to tell them myself. You'll know best how to do it. Their
gardens are all destroyed, root and branch; not a thing left. Their
pet plants, the heliotrope and geranium that they set so much store
by, are rooted up and torn to bits, not a piece left as big as my
hand. And it was not the storm either that did it, but just those
wicked children, Lem and Dolly, or one of them. I don't think it could
have been the boy, for I don't see how he could have found his way
down here again last night after John saw him home; but, alone or
together, the girl has had a hand in it for sure. John picked up a
dirty old sunbonnet she used to wear, lying right in Bessie's garden,
and he says she was not at home when he went up with Lem last night.
She's done it out of revenge for his being shut up, and I wish Buffer
had caught her at it, so I do. My patience is quite at an end, and
I'll have them routed out of that place, and sent off somewhere, as
sure as my name is Thomas Porter."

Mr. Bradford was very much troubled, for he knew how greatly the
children would be distressed; and, as the breakfast-bell rang just
then, he said he should not tell them till the meal was over, or no
breakfast would be eaten by Maggie or Bessie. He could scarcely eat
his own as he watched the bright faces of his two little daughters,
and thought what a different look they would wear when they heard the
bad news.

It was as he had feared: their grief was distressing to see, all
the more so when they found who had done this injury to them. Their
father had wished to keep this secret, but they begged so to go and
see the gardens, that he thought it best to take them and let them
know the worst at once; and they were so astonished when they saw the
utter desolation of their own beds, and the difference between them
and those which lay around, and asked so many questions, that he was
obliged to tell them.

The two brothers, with Hafed and Bob, were already on the spot, spades
and rakes in hand, to see what could be done; but, alas! there was
little or nothing.

It was indeed sad to see the ruin of what had, but yesterday, looked
so neat and pretty. The tiny fences were pulled up, and scattered
far and wide; lady-slippers, mignonette, verbenas, and all the other
simple flowers which had flourished so well, and given such pride and
delight to the little gardeners, were rooted up and trampled into the
earth; and, worse than all, the beloved heliotrope and geranium were
torn leaf from leaf and sprig from sprig, while their main stems had
been twisted and bent, till no hope remained that even these could be
revived.

The boys' gardens had suffered some, but not so much as those of the
little girls; whether it was that Dolly fancied Maggie and Bessie had
been the most to blame for Lem's imprisonment, and so chose first to
revenge herself on them; whether it was that their gardens lay nearer
to her hand and she had been interrupted in her wicked work before she
had quite destroyed the boys',--could not be known.

The grief of the children was pitiful to see. Bessie's could not find
words, but she clung about her father's neck, and sobbed so violently
that he feared she would be ill, and carried her back to the house to
see if mamma could not comfort her. Maggie's was not less violent,
but it was more outspoken, and she said and thought many angry things
of Lem and Dolly, as she gathered up the bruised leaves and stalks of
her own geranium and Bessie's heliotrope. The boys were quite ready to
join her in all, and more than all, that she said.

"What are you going to do with that, pet?" asked Uncle Ruthven, coming
down to see the ruin, and finding Maggie sitting on an upturned
flower-pot, her hot tears still falling on the remains of the two
favorite plants.

"Oh! Uncle Ruthven!" sobbed poor Maggie, "I could not bear to see them
lying there in the mud and dirt. It seems to me 'most as if they were
something live, and we were so fond of them. I don't think I can bear
it. And, oh! I am so sorry we asked Mr. Porter to let Lem out, just
so he could do this,--the bad, wicked boy!"

"I do not think it was Lem's doing, dear," said Mr. Stanton; and then
he told Maggie how John Porter had taken Lem home last night just
before the storm began, and that it was scarcely possible that the
boy could have made his way back in the darkness and worked all this
mischief.

"Well, it was Dolly, then," said Maggie; "and I can never, never
forgive her: no, never, Uncle Ruthven."

Uncle Ruthven would not argue with her, or try to persuade her to feel
less hardly towards Dolly now: he knew it was not the time; the wound
was too fresh, the little heart still too sore. Nor did he think it
worth while to try and make her forget the trouble yet, but talked to
her about it in an interested but soothing manner, till at last he led
her back to her mother in a more quiet, gentle mood than he had found
her.

Meanwhile the boys had all four set to work with a good will to
try what they could do to make the poor gardens look somewhat less
forlorn. It was too late in the season to think of planting new seeds
or roots; and the flowers which had been torn up were too entirely
destroyed ever to revive again.

Hafed would have taken up every flower from his own garden and
transplanted it to those of his "Missy's," if the other boys had not
made him understand that this would be useless, and most of them would
only droop and die.

The disordered beds were raked smoothly over; the little fence
carefully cleaned from the mud which covered it, and set up again;
and all the withered, bruised flowers and leaves carried away. Then
came John Porter and his brothers, bringing a dozen or so of flowering
shrubs in pots, which were neatly set out, taking from the gardens the
desolate look they had worn. Next, some bright lady-slippers, sweet
pinks and other late summer flowers were taken up with plenty of earth
about their roots so that they might not droop, and they too, were
put down in their new home.

When all was done, the little girls were called down to see the
improvement that had been made. They thanked the boys very heartily;
but, in spite of all the pains that had been taken, the gardens were
not the same they had been before, not the work of their own hands,
the gardens they had watched and tended for the last six or seven
weeks.

"Besides," said Maggie, with a mournful shake of her head, "our own
dear heliotrope and geranium are quite gone, so we need not hope for
any prize. It is too late now to try with any thing else, and we
couldn't expect Cousin Alexander to give us one when we have nothing
to show that we have taken care of ourselves."

"I don't know about that," said Fred, "Cousin Alexander came down here
this morning; and, although he did not mention the word prize, he said
he thought he ought to take into account all you had done, as well as
what you might have done, and asked us if we did not agree with him.
Of course we said yes; so we shall see what he will do."

But not all the petting and coaxing they received, or all the new
amusements provided for them, could make Maggie and Bessie forget
their ruined gardens, or recover their usual spirits that day. Indeed
it was rather a mournful day for the whole family. The melancholy
faces of the two little girls grieved their older friends; and,
besides, it was sad to know that children like Lem and Dolly should
take delight in such wicked, wanton mischief, and to know that there
seemed to be no way to do them good; since they only came near those
who were weaker and younger than themselves to do them harm, and ran
from those who were older and wiser, in fear of the punishment and
reproof their wickedness deserved. Neither by kindness nor severity
did it seem possible to reach these poor creatures.

Mr. Porter said that one of the dogs should be fastened in the garden
for a few nights, till he should see what might be done about having
Lem and Dolly removed to some place where they could give no more
annoyance to himself and his boarders.

"My darlings," said Mrs. Bradford that night, when she had gone
upstairs with the children, "what are you going to do now?"

"To say our prayers, mamma," answered Bessie, rather surprised at the
question.

"What prayers, Maggie?"

"Why, 'Now I lay me,' and 'Pray God bless,' and 'Our Father which art
in Heaven,'" said Maggie.

"And when we say 'Our Father,' what do we say about forgiveness?"

"'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against
us,'" said Bessie. "I know what you mean, mamma."

"And so do I," said Maggie; "but I _cannot_ do it, mamma, I cannot
forgive Lem and Dolly as I want to be forgiven myself, so I think I
had better leave out that part of 'Our Father,' to-night. I wouldn't
like to pray a story."

"Nor would I wish you to say what you did not feel, dearie, but I
should like you to pray that from your heart."

"But I could not, mamma," said Maggie. "Why, we have forgiven Lem and
Dolly so often, and it is not a bit of use."

"Do you remember what I was reading to you the other night?" said
mamma, "how Peter came to our Lord, and asked Him how often he should
forgive his enemy. What answer did Jesus make?"

"He said 'forgive him till seventy times seven,'" said Bessie.

"O mamma!" said Maggie. "I never could do that. I think I could be
like Peter, and forgive Lem and Dolly seven times; but every time I do
it, it grows harder and harder, and I never could do it by the time it
was seventy times seven. That is such a lot! Every bit of forgiveness
in me would be used up by that time."

"Our Lord only said 'seventy times seven,' to show that we must
forgive a great number of times, Maggie. He did not mean to measure
our forgiveness any more than He measures His own. He is ready to
pardon all who go to Him, as often and as freely as they need. But we
must ask Him from our hearts; and can we do so if those hearts are
full of unkindness and hard feeling towards those who have injured
us? I know how hard it is for you both, my darlings; I know by my own
feelings how hard it is to forgive Lem and Dolly; but I cannot hope
to be forgiven myself for what I have done wrong this day, unless I
forgive them the harm they have done to me."

"They did not harm you, mamma, did they?" asked Maggie.

"Yes: they hurt my two little blossoms, Maggie and Bessie, and so
grieved me very much. But I can hope my flowers will soon get the
better of the harm they have received; not only of their sorrow, but
also of their anger and hard feeling towards those poor, unhappy
children. Suppose you had at this moment a chance to do a kind thing,
or speak a kind word to Lem and Dolly,--would either of you do it?"

"Mamma," said Bessie, "I think I would. It would be very hard, and I'm
afraid I wouldn't quite like to do it; but I would try to think how
often Jesus forgave me, and I would say, 'forgive me my trespasses' as
I forgive Lem and Dolly, and maybe that would make it easier."

"It will indeed, my darling; and what does my Maggie say?"

"I'll try too, mamma--but--but--I can't help thinking I'd be pretty
glad if the chance never came."

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



X.

_THE BANANAS._


"MADDIE," said Frankie, running up to his sister the next morning with
a pair of worsted reins in his hands, "will oo fis my weins?"

"Pretty soon, Frankie: I'm busy now," answered Maggie.

"Oo're not: oo're doin' nossin' but sittin'," said the little boy. "Do
it now."

"Yes; I am in a meditation, and you must not interrupt me," said
Maggie, with a solemn, important face.

Frankie walked round and round her on every side, looking curiously at
her, and peering down at her; then said,--

"I don't see it, Maddie."

"Don't see what?" asked Maggie.

"Dat sing oo are in," replied Frankie.

"He means that meditation you said you were in," said Bessie.

At this Maggie laughed merrily, and all her meditations were put to
flight.

"O foolish child!" she said. "I s'pose he thought a meditation meant a
kind of a thing you could see."

"Maggie," said Bessie gravely, "if you laugh at Frankie, you'll have
to laugh at me too, 'cause I don't know what a meditation means
either."

"It means," said Maggie, arranging Frankie's reins for him, "to be
thinking about whether a thing is right or wrong, and to be trying to
make up your resolution to do something that you know you ought to do,
but that you don't want to do."

"Oh!" said Bessie in a very satisfied tone; "then I know what you was
having a meditation about. And how did you make up your resolution,
Maggie?"

"Oh! just to forgive Lem and Dolly without any more fuss about it,"
said Maggie. "But for all that, Bessie, I would like never to hear or
see or think or know or dream any thing more about those two children."

"Who would like to go and play in the woods?" asked Harry, coming out
to them. "Mamma says we may all go if we choose."

"I will."

"And I."

"I too," came from his two sisters and Frankie.

"Who is going to take care of us?" asked Bessie.

"Jane and Starr," said Harry. "Fred and I could do it well enough; but
mamma is afraid of those two ragamuffins, and the Colonel said they
would not dare to trouble us if Starr was with us, and he could very
well spare him."

"Hurrah!" cried Fred, rushing out of the house. "Papa, Uncle Ruthven,
Aunt Bessie, and Aunt Annie are going with us, and we are going to
have a grand corn-roasting up in the woods; hurrah! hurrah!" and Fred
tossed his cap in the air, and turned two or three somersets on the
grass, which Frankie immediately tried to imitate, but only succeeded
in tumbling over on his side. He was quite contented with his own
performance, however, and said, with a self-satisfied shake of his
head, "I somersat mysef fee times."

The party were soon ready, and started off, grandmamma and mamma,
Colonel and Mrs. Rush promising to follow by and by when the fire
should be made, and the roasted corn nearly ready for eating.

Butter and salt were packed in a tin pail by Mrs. Porter and carried
by Hafed, while Starr brought a basket with plates and knives. The
corn was to be plucked from a cornfield which they would pass on their
way. The spot chosen was at some distance from the house, up in the
woods, where a pure, bright spring bubbled up from the rocks, and
then went rippling and singing away in one of those hundred mountain
streams. Here was a little cleared space among the trees, and a broad
flat stone on which the fire was to be built; while two or three
great trunks and stumps formed excellent seats,--excellent, that is
to say, for those people who had both their limbs left to them,--but
the Colonel did not find them quite so comfortable; so Starr slung a
camp chair over his arm to have it ready for his master's use when he
should come.

When they came to the cornfield, to reach which they had to take
rather a roundabout path, each child loaded itself with as many ears
of corn as it could carry. Papa and Uncle Ruthven each took an armful
too; so, when they were all laid together, there was quite a pile.

"We will want a pretty large fire to roast all that corn," said
Bessie; "we'll have to pick up a great many sticks."

Picking up sticks for the fire was not thought hard work, however, but
famous fun; and the little ones began to gather them up with a good
will. This was by no means the first fire they had built on this very
convenient stone: it had seen many a potato-roast and candy-boiling,
though this was the first corn-roasting they had had.

But here quite a misfortune happened to Bessie. As she was coming
towards the fireplace, with her hands full of dry branches, she
tripped and fell her full length directly in the ashes of the old
fires. Her father and other friends could not be thankful enough that
the match had not yet been put to the sticks which lay ready for
lighting; for if the fire had been burning, she must have fallen into
the flames and been badly burned.

But her arms and knees were somewhat bruised on the hard rock, and her
white dress and apron sadly soiled and black from the ashes.

Now Bessie was a very neat child,--particular about her dress,--and
could not bear to have any thing near her that was not quite clean.
The little knees and arms could be washed in the stream, and dried on
the towel which had been brought; but there was no way of cleansing
the blackened clothes, and Bessie was distressed at the thought of
passing the whole morning in such a condition.

"Come then, Miss Bessie," said Starr, "I'll just take you over home,
where you may have clean clothes put on, and bring you back before the
others know you have gone."

Bessie thanked him, and said she would be very glad; and taking her up
in his arms, so that they might get over the ground in short time, the
good-natured soldier strode away with her.

Mamma was a good deal surprised, and a little startled, to see her
Bessie coming back so soon in Starr's arms; but it was presently
explained, and the little girl made quite neat and clean again. She
was about leaving the house once more with Starr, when she heard
Colonel Rush calling her, and ran back to his room.

"Bessie," said the Colonel, "here are half a dozen bananas,--one
a-piece for each of you children,--yourself and Maggie, your three
brothers and Hafed. Would you not enjoy them up in the woods?"

"Yes," said Bessie; "but we will save them till you all come, so all
our big people can have some too."

"Oh, no! keep them for yourselves," said the Colonel; "your big people
all had enough last night, and I kept these out for you, knowing how
fond you and Maggie were of them."

Bessie thanked and kissed him, and ran off, giving her prize to Starr
to carry for her.

"There's a way by which I can take you back quicker, if you didn't
mind being lifted up a steep place in the rocks. It's quite safe:
would you like it, Miss Bessie?" said Starr.

Bessie said she would rather go by the shortest way; and Starr struck
into a path, if path it could be called, which was quite new to her.
But he carried her safely over the rugged way, while she chatted
merrily to him.

"Starr," she said, "I'm going to give you a piece of my banana,
'cause you're so very kind and good to me."

"Thank you kindly, miss," said the man; "but I never eat them, not if
a shipful was before me."

"Don't you like them?" asked the little girl.

"No, miss."

"Oh! I like them better than any thing,--I mean better than any
thing else to eat," said Bessie; "and I was very much pleased when
the Colonel gave me these, 'cause I didn't have one since I came to
Chalecoo."

"Then I am glad, too, miss," said Starr, who in the city had often
been sent by his master to buy bananas to indulge this favorite fancy
of Bessie's. "Now, Miss Bessie, I am just going to put you on top of
this great stone, and climb up myself afterwards, and then we'll be
but a few rods from where the ladies and gentlemen are."

Just before them was a mass of rock, four or five feet high, which
seemed to bar the way; but lifting Bessie as high as he could, Starr
set her safely upon the top, then handing her the bananas began to
clamber up himself.

At that moment a slight rustle made Bessie turn her head, and she
found herself face to face with Dolly Owen. Before she had time to
utter her astonishment and alarm, Starr stood beside her, and he was
the first to speak.

"So, you're there, are you?" he said, sternly. "What wickedness are
you up to now, I'd like to know?"

Dolly made no answer, but sat with her eyes fixed upon Bessie, or
rather upon the tempting bunch of bananas she held in her small hands.
The girl was half lying, half sitting upon the ground, her head and
shoulders resting against the trunk of a large tree, her face drawn as
if she were in great pain. It seemed as if she must have crept into
this nook as a hiding-place, for on all sides, save the one by which
Starr and Bessie had come, was a thick growth of underbrush, with only
a narrow outlet where the bushes had been partly broken down. From
beyond this came the sound of gay voices and merry laughter, showing,
as Starr had said, that the rest of the party were not far distant.
Very lonely and dreary the wretched child looked, lying there with
those happy sounds ringing in her ears, telling that others were so
much better off, so much happier than she was.

"What's them?" she asked, looking greedily at the bananas.

"Now are you not ashamed to be speaking to the little lady after what
you've done?" said Starr. "Those are not for such as you, and you
needn't be asking what they are. And look you here, young one, you
let me catch you a step nearer the gentlefolks, and I'll let you hear
something you won't like. _My_ patience is about come to an end."

Still Dolly took no notice of him. Instead of running away, or
cowering in fear of punishment, as she generally did when any grown
person came near her, she remained crouched, without moving, upon the
ground.

"Gi' me one," she said to Bessie.

"Did I ever hear such impudence!" exclaimed Starr, roused out of his
usual stiffness; "well, you are the most graceless creature I ever did
see. Come on, Miss Bessie, if you please."

But Bessie gently put aside Starr's hand, as he would have led her
away.

"Please wait a minute, Starr."

"I say, gi' me one," said Dolly again; "I aint eat nothin' to-day nor
yesterday, and Lem's gone away."

It was, indeed, a bold thing for Dolly to ask any thing of one whom
she had injured so much; but she was ravenous with hunger, and having
no shame, she had no thought save how she might satisfy it.

Bessie stood looking from her to the bananas. Should she give Dolly
her own or not? She wanted it very much herself; but she had asked her
Father in heaven to let her find some way to be kind to Lem and Dolly,
and now was He not answering her prayer? It had been very pleasant to
think of sharing the delicious fruit with her own dear friends whom
she loved so much, or even of giving a piece to Starr, who was always
so kind and good to her; but to give it all to this bad girl who had
done so much cruel mischief to her and hers, was another thing.

Perhaps strong, healthy children, who can enjoy whatever is set before
them, can have little idea what a piece of self-denial this was to
Bessie. She was a delicate child, with a slight appetite which needed
some coaxing, and, as she had said to Starr, if there was any one
thing which she liked particularly, it was a fine banana.

Yes, she wanted it very much; but there was poor Dolly who wanted it
very much too,--who said she had had nothing to eat all day yesterday,
who probably had never tasted such a fruit; for she had asked what
they were when she saw them,--who, even Bessie's innocent eyes could
see, looked very ill. Was not here a chance to "render good for
evil;" to do the kind thing she had said she would do if she could
but find the way?

She had a moment's struggle with herself; then, breaking one of the
bananas from the stem, she went a little nearer to Dolly and held it
out at arm's length, for she feared the mischievous girl too much to
go very close to her.

Dolly raised herself slowly and clutched at the banana, but sank back
again with a cry of pain.

"Have you hurt yourself, Dolly?" asked Bessie, gently.

Dolly made no answer, but stretched out her hand again for the fruit.

Bessie went a little nearer, and timidly placed it in her hand.

"That's not the way," she said, as the girl greedily bit into the
close, tough skin. "You must peel it. I will show you."

Dolly held fast to the banana for a moment, as if she feared Bessie
was about to take it back; then, with a wondering look into the sweet,
pitiful little face, gave it up.

[Illustration: Bessie among the Mountains. p. 196.]

"Now, don't you be waiting on her, Miss Bessie," said Starr; "you've
done more than enough already, to give her your banana. Will you come,
miss, and just leave that girl to herself?"

"I think I'd better fix it for her, Starr. She don't know how, and
I think there's something the matter with her," said Bessie: and,
stripping the peel from the fruit, she placed it once more in Dolly's
hand.

"Does something hurt you?" she asked, as the girl moaned again when
she moved.

"Yes, I hurts all over," answered Dolly.

"Did you fall down?"

"No, I didn't," mumbled Dolly, with her mouth full.

"Then how did you hurt yourself so much?"

"Dunno," said Dolly, sullenly. But she did know; she knew right well
that those terrible racking pains came from that night spent in the
Ice Glen. She had a feeling as if Bessie must know it too. "Now just
you and that man clear out. I came here first," she muttered.

"Don't fret yourself: your company's not so pleasant, nor your talk so
sweet, that the little lady need want more of it," said Starr. "Miss
Bessie, my dear, won't you come?"

"Yes," said Bessie, "in a moment," and then, turning again to the
girl,--"Dolly, I am very sorry for you."

"Humph," said Dolly, in a tone as if she could not believe this.

"Don't you think I am?" said Bessie.

"I knows better," was the answer she received.

"But I am, Dolly, really. I am very sorry for you, 'cause you have
that pain, and 'cause you don't have any one to love you, and take
care of you, and teach you. Wouldn't you let me be a little kind to
you?"

"If you're so sorry, give me another of them," said Dolly again,
looking at the bananas with a greedy eye. She had never tasted any
thing so delicious in her life, and the one which Bessie had given
only made her more anxious for a second.

Bessie gave a little sigh.

"I would if they were mine," she said; "but they are not, and so I
cannot give them to you."

"Be off then. You're glad I ache so; I know you are 'cause I plagued
you so."

Starr's patience was at an end; and, lifting his little charge in his
arms, he plunged through the opening in the bushes.

"Miss Bessie," he said, "you ought to let that girl alone; she's not
fit for you to care for, and it's all kindness thrown away."

Bessie looked very grave and thoughtful.

"Starr," she said, presently, "if she is fit for Jesus to care for,
she must be fit for us to care for."

Starr was silenced: he had not another word to say.

When Bessie reached her playfellows, the fire was burning famously;
but they had waited to husk the corn till she should come to have her
share in that pleasure.

"But where is your banana?" asked Maggie, when her sister divided the
Colonel's gift.

"It is gone," answered Bessie.

"Oh!" said Maggie, "why, didn't you wait to eat it with the rest of
us? But never mind, you shall have half of mine."

"Let's husk the corn now," said Harry; "we'll have the bananas by and
by."

The ears were soon stripped of their green dress and silken tassels,
and laid round the fire to roast. Then Bessie told Maggie she wanted
to tell her a secret, and drew her a little aside from the others.

"Maggie," she said, "I did not eat my banana; I gave it away."

"Did you?" said Maggie. "That was very good of you, 'cause you're so
fond of them. Who did you give it to?"

"To Dolly," answered Bessie.

"To Dolly! that bad thing!" exclaimed Maggie; "where _did_ you see
her?"

Bessie told how she and Starr had found Dolly, and of what had passed,
ending with,--

"I would have given her another banana if any of them had been mine,
Maggie; and I thought you would have given her yours too, to show her
you wanted to be kind to her, if you only knew about it."

"So I would," said Maggie, "and I wouldn't have cared if you had given
it to her. I will let you do just what you choose with any thing of
mine, Bessie, and not be a bit provoked."

"But it was not mine, you see," said Bessie, "and I didn't think it
would be right when you did not tell me to."

"I'd give it to her now, if I was to see her," said Maggie; "but then
we couldn't go and find her, you know. She might do something to us."

"I don't think she could very well," said Bessie. "It hurts her so to
move; and her speaking sounds like mine when I have the croup. Starr
said he thought she looked very sick. She's just over behind those
bushes, and some one could go and take care of us. I think she would
be sure we are sorry for her if we took it to her. Shall we ask papa
about it?"

Maggie agreed, and papa was called and told the whole story, and of
their wish to take the second banana to Dolly.

He thought it over for a moment or two, and then said he would let
them take it, and would go with them to see that no harm befell them
at Dolly's hands.

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



XI.

"_GOOD FOR EVIL._"


DOLLY was found lying in the same spot, and almost in the same
position, in which Bessie and Starr had left her; but now she was half
asleep.

Thinking she might receive the children's kindness in a better spirit,
if there was no older person to look on, Mr. Bradford helped his
little daughters through the screening bushes, and then drew back a
few steps where he might still watch them, and hear all that passed,
but where Dolly could not see him.

At the rustling of the children's footsteps upon the dry leaves and
branches, Dolly started and opened her heavy eyes, to see Maggie and
Bessie standing hand in hand before her. The old, fierce, defiant
look flashed into them for one moment, then died out again before
timid Maggie had time to start back and draw her sister with her.

"My Maggie came to bring you her banana," said Bessie, gently. "_I_
couldn't give it to you, 'cause it was not mine; but when I told her
you didn't have any thing to eat for 'most two days, she was sorry for
you, and said you should have it."

"It's good. I like it," said Dolly, as Maggie, summoning all her
courage, stepped slowly towards her and gave her the banana.

"Dolly," said Bessie, "will you believe now that we are sorry for you,
and want to be kind to you?"

"I s'pose so," answered Dolly, gruffly, as if she were still half
unwilling or unable to believe that they meant what they said.

They stood in silence, watching the half-famished creature as she eat
her fruit, then Bessie said,--

"Dolly, why don't you go home?"

"No, I shan't neither, I aint goin' to stir," she answered
snappishly, with one quick, suspicious glance at the children, and
another towards the trunk of the old tree against which she leaned.
"I've got a right here, if I've a mind to stay. 'Taint your ground nor
Porter's neither."

"Oh, no!" said Bessie, "I did not mean that, only you have such a bad
cold, and it hurts you so to move, and these rocks are so hard, I
should think you'd be more comfortable in your bed at home."

"Guess my home's a sight more comfortable than these rocks, aint it?"
said Dolly, with a grin. "One's about as good as t'other."

"Poor Dolly!" said Bessie, "I wish you had a better home, and some one
to care for you and Lem."

"What for? I s'pose you think I wouldn't bother you then."

"I hope you wouldn't," said Bessie; "but I was not thinking about
that. It was only 'cause I am so sorry that you don't have a nice home
and plenty to eat, and people to love you. But, Dolly, you know Jesus
loves you."

"No, he don't neither," was the answer.

"But he does, indeed he does," said Bessie, earnestly; "he loves you
all the time, and it makes him sorry when you are naughty; but if you
won't do so any more, but will try to love him, he will be glad, and
then you will be his own little child, 'cause he says, 'Suffer little
children to come unto me,' and he means all children. Mrs. Rush taught
us that one Sunday."

"I say," said Dolly, "I could ha' plagued you last Sunday if I'd had a
mind to. The old dog wasn't there."

"No: Buffer was sick last Sunday afternoon," answered Bessie. "Did you
come by our Sunday bower?"

"I came by the place where you go of Sundays," said Dolly; "but I
didn't do nothin', 'cause I had a mind to hear you singin'. It sounded
nice: I liked it."

"Will you come next Sunday?" said Bessie, eager for the slightest
chance of doing Dolly good. "Mrs. Rush and the Colonel would let you,
I am sure; and they'll tell you about Jesus a great deal better than
I can, and how he loves you, and will take you to heaven, if you will
only be a good girl and love him. Wouldn't you like to hear about it?"

"Dunno," said Dolly; "I like to hear you sing. Jesus is God, aint he?"

"Yes," said Bessie, coming closer to the poor girl, and drawing Maggie
with her. "He is God's Son, and he came away from his heaven to die
for us, so we could go there, and live with him, if we would only love
him and do what he tells us. And heaven is such a beautiful place!
Dolly, the angels are there; and every one will be so happy; and no
one will be hungry or sick or tired there; and Jesus will take care of
us always, always. Wouldn't you like to go there, Dolly?"

"I'd like to go somewhere," said Dolly wearily; "I'm about tired of
this. I'd like not to be hungry, nor to have this pain no more. But
'taint likely your Jesus wants me in his beautiful place. I s'pose he
wants clean folks with nice clothes, not old dirty rags like mine."

Maggie was beginning to feel braver as she saw that Dolly was quiet
and not in a mood for mischief, and now she spoke.

"Jesus won't mind about rags if you only have a heart that loves him,"
she said. "He loves you just as much in your rags, as he loves some
other little girl who is dressed nicely."

"How do you know he loves me?" asked Dolly.

"'Cause the Bible says so," said Maggie; "so it must be true, 'cause
the Bible is God's word. And besides, Dolly, if Jesus came to die for
you, so you could go to heaven, don't you think he must love you? When
a person does a very kind thing for you, don't that make you think
they love you?"

"Did you give me them goodies 'cause you loved me?" said Dolly.

Maggie was rather disturbed at this question, and did not know how to
answer it; but Bessie, seeing her trouble, spoke for her.

"Why, no, Dolly," she said, "I'm 'fraid we don't love you very much;
you know you couldn't 'spect us to: but we wanted to be kind to you,
and to make you know we wanted to forgive you for troubling us so."

"You _was_ real good to give me them things," said Dolly; "they was
first rate. And you was good to get Lem let out too; he told me. But I
say,"--and Dolly really looked half ashamed,--"'twant him did that."

Bessie thought she was speaking of the cup.

"I don't believe very much that he did," she said. "Mr. Porter thinks
maybe the pedler-man took it, 'cause he went to Farmer Todd's house,
and after he was gone some spoons were lost; and they think he stole
them, so maybe he has my cup too."

"I didn't mean that," answered Dolly, slowly. "I meant 'twant Lem
spiled your gardens, but--I _am_ sorry I done it--there now. And Lem
aint got your cup; you can just know it."

"We try to believe he didn't," said Bessie. Then she added, with a
quiver of her lip and a tear or two gathering in her eyes, "I don't
think _any one_ could have taken it if they had known how very fond I
was of it. You see, Dolly, I had that cup a great, great many years,
ever since I was a little baby; and I always had my drink out of it,
so you see we grew up together, and I don't know how I can bear never
to see it again. I was pretty much troubled to lose my cup and my
garden too."

Dolly looked uneasily at her, moved restlessly on her hard bed, and
sank back again with another moan.

"I guess we'll have to go now," said Maggie.

"Will you come next Sunday and hear Mrs. Rush tell about Jesus and how
he loved you?" said Bessie. "Or papa and mamma would tell you about it
if you liked. They can do it a great deal better than we can."

"No," said Dolly, "I don't want to hear big folks. I don't mind your
speaking to me if you choose. But, I say, don't you never sing but on
Sundays?"

"Oh, yes!" said Bessie, "we sing every day and sometimes a good many
times in the day."

"I like music," said Dolly. "Lem whistles fustrate."

"Yes, we know it," said Maggie. "Once we heard him when we couldn't
see him, and we asked Mr. Porter who it was, and he told us it was
Lem; and we listened as long as we could hear him: it sounded so sweet
and clear. I never heard any one whistle like that."

"Yes," said Dolly, looking pleased; "nobody can beat _him_ at that.
S'pose you couldn't sing me a tune 'fore you go, could you? It's so
lonesome, lying here."

"Why, yes: we will if you want us to," Bessie answered readily, though
she as well as Maggie was much surprised at the request. "We'll sing,
'I want to be an angel.'"

So they stood, these two "ministering children," and sang; their
young voices rising sweet and clear amid the solemn stillness of the
grand old woods; for very still it was. As the first notes arose, the
friends whom they had left, hushed laughter and merry talk that they
might not lose one of the sweet sounds. They only knew that Maggie
and Bessie had wandered off with papa, and thought this was meant as a
pleasant surprise for them.

But it was a higher, greater Friend,--a "Friend above all
others,"--whom our little jewel-seekers were just then trying to
please; and, although they might not know it, they had that day taken
up the first link of the golden chain, by which poor Dolly's soul was
to be drawn out of the clouds and darkness in which it had lain, up
into the light and sunshine of his glorious presence. A very slight
and fragile link it might seem, but it was doubtless very precious in
the eyes of the heavenly Father, whose hands could make it strong and
lasting, and fit to shine before him in the "day when he shall make up
his jewels."

Very precious it was, too, in the eyes of the earthly father, who
watched the scene, and looking from his own tenderly cared for,
daintily dressed darlings, to the forlorn, ragged outcast, thanked God
that for all three alike had the blessed words been spoken, "Suffer
little children to come unto me."

"Is that place the song talks about that heaven you was telling
about?" asked Dolly when the children had finished "I want to be an
angel."

"Yes," said Bessie. "You do want to go there; don't you, Dolly?"

"'Taint no use wantin," said Dolly. "I'll never get there, nor Lem
neither. Sing some more."

"We'll sing 'Rest for the weary,' 'cause she said she was so tired,"
said Maggie.

When they were through, Mr. Bradford stepped from behind the bushes
which had hidden him until now.

Dolly started when she saw him, and the old look, half guilty, half
defiant, came back to her eyes. But she soon found she need not be
afraid; for, bending over her, he said, kindly,--

"My poor girl, you are in great pain, I fear. How did you hurt
yourself?"

"Didn't hurt myself," grumbled Dolly, still suspicious, and shrinking
from that grave, steady look.

"Then you are ill," said Mr. Bradford, noticing the burning cheeks and
heavy eyes, "you must not lie here, or you will be worse. Can you go
home?"

"I shan't go home," said Dolly, passionately, and with another quick
glance over her shoulder.

Mr. Bradford did not insist, though he meant she should obey him, but
said, kindly,--

"Are you still hungry? Would you like some roasted corn?"

Dolly muttered something which might be either no or yes, falling back
into her old sullenness; but Mr. Bradford answered as kindly as if she
had spoken pleasantly, and told her she should have some.

"Shall we bring it to her, papa?" asked Bessie.

Mr. Bradford said no; for he had been rather startled when he found
Dolly was ill, not hurt, as he had first supposed; and he was not
willing his little daughters should come near her again, till he was
sure what ailed her.

He told the children to bid Dolly good-by, which they did; the girl
replying in a more gentle tone than she had yet used, and then calling
Bessie back, saying, "Here, littlest one."

But when Bessie looked back to see what she wanted, she refused to
speak, and, shutting her eyes, turned her face away.

Mamma and grandmamma, Colonel and Mrs. Rush, had all arrived when our
little girls came back to the fire; and the corn was nicely roasted,
waiting to be eaten. So the merry, happy party gathered round to enjoy
it.

Dolly was not forgotten; for Maggie and Bessie picked out a couple of
nice, brown ears, and Starr was sent to carry them to her,--an errand
which he did not do very willingly. He came back, saying that he had
found her angry, and that she refused to touch or look at the corn.

When all had had enough, Mr. Bradford asked Mr. Stanton if he would
go with him and see the poor girl, and tell, if he could, what might
be done for her. Uncle Ruthven was not a doctor, but he knew a good
deal about medicine, and had often practised it in his travels when no
physician was at hand. He willingly agreed to see Dolly, and the two
gentlemen went off immediately.

As Mr. Bradford had expected, his brother-in-law pronounced Dolly to
be very sick. She would answer no questions, but it was easy to see
that she had a bad cold and a high fever, and that the pain, which
became so bad when she moved, was rheumatism. Mr. Stanton at once
said that she must no longer lie upon the hard, cold rock; she must
go home: but it seemed to be doubtful if she could walk. When the
gentlemen tried to raise her, they found this no longer doubtful, but
quite impossible: the girl's cramped limbs could not hold her up; she
could not stir one step. Perhaps she would not have gone had she been
able to do so, for she broke forth into angry cries and refusals to be
moved, which were only stopped by a violent fit of coughing.

These cries brought the Colonel, with Mrs. Stanton and Starr, to see
if they could be of any assistance; and Colonel Rush, finding there
was difficulty in moving Dolly, proposed that his camp chair should be
brought, and the sick girl carried home in that.

No sooner said than done. Starr was sent for the chair, and when it
was brought, Dolly was gently raised and placed in it. She would still
have resisted, but she saw that the gentlemen were determined, and it
was such agony to move that she thought it as well to submit. When she
was in the chair, Mr. Stanton and Starr raised it, and began to move
off.

"Wait a bit! wait a bit!" exclaimed Dolly.

"Well, what is it?" asked Mr. Stanton, kindly.

"S'pose I might as well tell," muttered Dolly, as if speaking to
herself; "he'll just come back and get it, and I'd liever she'd have
it. I say," she added, in a louder tone, "I want to speak to the
little gals' pa."

"Well?" said Mr. Bradford, coming nearer.

"You won't say Lem took it, will you?" asked Dolly.

"I would not say Lem took any thing unless I was quite sure of it,"
said the gentleman.

"Well, then, you just may be sure he didn't take it, and I didn't
neither; 'twas the pedler, and I seen where he put it. He didn't know
I was behind the bushes, but I seen him. That's why I stayed about, so
as to scare him off if he came; but Lem didn't know nothin' about it.
I guess I'll tell where he put it, 'cause the little gal was good to
me after I plagued her. Jes' you put your hand in that hole, and see
what you find;" and, with trembling fingers, she pointed to a hole in
the trunk of the old tree against which she had been leaning.

Mr. Bradford put his hand into the opening, and, after feeling about
a little, drew forth a bundle. Opening it, he found not only what he
had expected to see, Bessie's lost cup, but also Farmer Todd's silver
spoons, and one or two other small articles which he thought must have
been stolen. The finding of the spoons with the cup, made it almost
certain that Lem had not taken the latter; and Mr. Bradford was very
glad that he had not suffered appearances to make him judge the boy
too harshly.

And now Mr. Stanton and Starr moved on with the chair. They carried
it as steadily as possible, but the way was rough, and with all their
care every step gave great pain to Dolly. Mr. Bradford and Mrs.
Stanton followed to see what could be done to make the poor creature
comfortable. Comfortable! that seemed a hopeless task, indeed, when
they reached the wretched hovel and looked about them.

Dolly was laid upon the pile of leaves and rags which served for a
bed; and Mr. and Mrs. Stanton stayed with her while Mr. Bradford,
taking Starr with him, went back to beg from Mrs. Porter what was
needful for her.


[Illustration]



XII.

_UNCLE RUTHVEN'S WORK._


DOLLY, quite tired out with pain, had sunk into a restless sleep;
and Mr. and Mrs. Stanton were sitting on the rocks outside the door,
waiting till Mr. Bradford should return, when a sweet, clear whistle,
like a bird-call, rang through the wood. It was repeated again, and
yet again, and was plainly some signal. Each time it came nearer,
and at the third sounded close at hand; and the next instant Lem
sprang round a point of the rock. As he caught sight of the lady and
gentleman before the hovel door, he started, and, after staring at
them for one instant, turned to run away.

But Mr. Stanton's voice stopped him.

"Do not run off again," he said, kindly; "your sister is very sick,
and lying here in the house. Come and see her."

Lem stood a moment, half doubtful; then rushed past the gentleman
into the house. He came out again presently, his eyes wide open with
astonishment and alarm.

"What you been a doin' to her?" he said, fiercely.

"We found her lying upon the rocks, unable to move," said Mr. Stanton,
not heeding the angry tone, "and so brought her here in this chair. We
have sent to Mrs. Porter for some things to make a bed for her, but no
bed can be kept fit for her unless it is quite dry; and I fear this
roof of yours is not water-tight. I wonder if you and I could not make
it so. Do you know where you can buy some straw?"

"Know where there's plenty of straw for them as can pay for it,"
answered Lem.

"Oh, well," said Mr. Stanton, cheerfully, "you find the straw, and
I'll do the paying. There; bring as many bunches as they will give
you for that," and he put fifty cents into Lem's hand.

The boy gazed at the money open-mouthed,--probably he had never in
his life had so much, honestly come by, in his hands at once,--turned
it over, stared at Mr. Stanton, and then again at the money. That any
one should trust him with money, or with any thing that had the least
value, was something so new that he could scarcely believe his own
senses.

"They'll say I didn't come by it fair, and won't give me no straw," he
said at last, thrusting the money back upon Mr. Stanton.

The gentleman knew this was only too likely, and too well deserved;
and, taking a pencil and slip of paper from his pocket-book, he wrote
a few words, and handed the paper to Lem.

Lem could neither read nor write, but he was no fool; and he knew that
those few black marks would do more for him than any amount of talking
on his own part; but he was even yet a little suspicious. He stood
hesitating for a moment, looking back into the house, where his sister
lay moaning in her uneasy sleep, then darted away into the path which
led down the mountain.

"Do you think he is to be trusted, Ruthven?" said Mrs. Stanton. "Will
he come back?"

"I think so," replied her husband; "any way, I thought I would try it.
It may give me some hold upon him."

In less time than could have been thought possible by one who knew the
distance he had to go, Lem was back; but a good deal had been done in
the mean time. Mr. Bradford had returned with Starr and John Porter,
bringing a straw bed and pillow, a coarse but clean pair of sheets,
and a blanket. Good old Mrs. Porter came too, full of pity for the
forlorn, sick child, and carrying a kettle of tea, ready milked and
sugared.

The bed had been made,--upon the floor, to be sure: there was no other
place to put it,--Dolly had been given some medicine, her fevered
face and hands washed, and she laid in the bed. A fire had been
kindled without, and the tea warmed afresh; and when Lem came back
with the straw, Mrs. Porter was just offering Dolly a drink. She took
it eagerly; but, although she knew Lem, she would not speak to him,
and soon sank again into an uneasy sleep or stupor. Lem had brought
six bundles of straw; and, throwing them down, he handed Mr. Stanton
some change, saying the man from whom he had bought them could let him
have no more, and had given him back that money.

Mr. Stanton privately asked John Porter how much the straw should have
cost, and found that Lem had brought him the right change. So here was
something gained: the boy had been true to his trust for once.

"Now we will go to work," said Mr. Stanton to Lem; and he told him to
follow him deeper into the woods, where he soon cut down a dozen or so
of tall, slender saplings, and bade Lem strip them of their leaves
and branches.

When these were finished, some long strips of birch bark were cut
by Mr. Stanton, while Lem stood looking on, and wondering if it
were possible the gentleman could be taking so much trouble for him
and Dolly, and what in the world he could be going to do with those
things. That was soon seen. When all had been made ready and carried
to the hut, Mr. Stanton made Lem climb upon the low roof, and,
directing him how to lay the straw so as to cover the worst part,
bound it in its place with the saplings, and tied them down with the
strips of birch. Lem wondered and admired as the strong, firm fingers
twisted and knotted, making all close and tight, and at last broke out
with,--

"I say, mister, was you brought up to roof-mending?"

"Not exactly," replied Mr. Stanton, with a smile; "but I have had to
contrive many a strange roof for myself and others. What should you
say to a roof made of a single leaf, large enough to shelter twelve
men from a scorching sun? Or to one of snow; ay, to roof, walls,
floor, all of snow,--making a warm, comfortable home too?"

"Are you the fellow they tell about that's hunted lions and tigers and
wild beasts?" asked Lem, gazing with new interest at the gentleman.

"I am the man," said Mr. Stanton.

"And never got ate up?" questioned Lem, eagerly.

"I am here to answer for that, though I have been pretty near it once
or twice. Should you like to hear some of my adventures some time?"

"Wouldn't I, though! I s'pose you couldn't tell a feller now?"

"Not now," said Mr. Stanton, "we have done the best we can for the
roof, and I must go home; but I shall come over again this afternoon
to see Dolly, and I will tell you the story of a tiger hunt then.
But"--looking about him,--"this is not a very nice place to sit down
and tell a story in, with all these bones, ashes, and bits of old iron
lying about."

"I'll fix it up, fustrate," exclaimed Lem; "but now, I say, mister,"
and Lem hitched up his ragged pantaloons, scratched his head, and dug
his bare toes into a patch of moss in an unwonted fit of shame.

"Well," said Mr. Stanton, kindly.

"I didn't take little Shiny-hair's cup, now, I didn't; and I wish you
wouldn't think it."

"I do not think it, Lem. The cup is found, and I do not believe you
took it."

"Don't you, now?" said Lem, looking up; "well, I thought may be you
didn't when you gi' me the money for the straw."

"I am glad to know that I may trust you, Lem," said Mr. Stanton.

Mr. Bradford, Mrs. Stanton, and the Porters had long since gone away,
leaving Mr. Stanton to finish the roof. He walked slowly homeward,
wondering if he had that morning really gained any hold on these
wretched children; or if, as so many others had proved, his pains had
all been labor thrown away. When he reached the fireplace, he found
that the rest of the party had gone home; for the mending of the roof
had been a good two hours' work, and it was now nearly Mrs. Porter's
early dinner hour.

When Mr. Bradford left Lem's hovel, and joined his wife and children,
he found his little girls very eager for news of Dolly. He told them
of all that had been done, and then said,--

"Bessie, I have a pleasant surprise for you. Can you guess what it may
be?"

"I know what I would _like_ it to be, papa, but I suppose it couldn't;
and mamma said it was not best to wish for things that cannot be."

"Well," said Mr. Bradford, "suppose you let me hear what you would
like it to be."

"Papa, I would like it to be my cup; but if it was, I would be _too_
surprised and _too_ glad for any thing, and I try not to think too
much about it."

Mr. Bradford put his hand into his pocket, and, pulling out the
beloved cup, held it before the delighted eyes of his little daughter.
She gave a glad cry, and the next moment both small hands were holding
fast the recovered treasure, and clasping it to her breast. She even
kissed it in her joy and thankfulness. Then papa was asked when and
how he had found it, and told the whole story. Maggie and Bessie were
very glad to hear that it was probably the pedler who had taken the
cup; for since they had been trying to act and feel kindly towards Lem
and Dolly, they were anxious to believe as much good and as little ill
of them as possible.

"For you see, papa," said Maggie, "you see the pedler is quite a
stranger to us, and we know Lem and Dolly a little. It's a pretty poor
kind of a way to be acquainted, to be sure; but then we are pretty
interested about them, and we like to think they did not do this one
bad thing. And I think it would be rather astonishing if Dolly was
not mad when Lem was shut up, and she knew he had not taken Bessie's
cup. I would have been, if some one had shut up Fred or Harry, and I'm
afraid I would have wanted to return them a little evil; so now it is
a little easier to forgive her about our gardens."

"And she said she was sorry about the gardens," said Bessie; "maybe it
was her sorriness that made her tell where my cup was. Oh, my dear,
dear cup! I am so glad it has come back."

And now the cup must have a good washing in the spring; after which,
Bessie took a long drink from it. Not that she was in the least
thirsty, but it was such a pleasure to drink once more from the
beloved cup, and she thought no water had ever tasted so delicious.
Then each one of her friends was obliged to take a drink, and to say
how very nice it was; and for the rest of the day, she was every five
minutes asking some one if they were not thirsty, and if she could
persuade them to say yes, she would run and fill the cup. So much
water did she and Maggie find it necessary to drink, and so much did
they persuade, and even bribe, Frankie to take, that mamma was obliged
to put a stop to the fun lest they should make themselves sick.

When Mr. Stanton and Mr. Bradford went up to the hut that afternoon,
they found that Lem had been as good as his word. All the old bones
and feathers, bits of rusty iron, half-burnt sticks, and ashes, had
been picked up, and put out of sight. Lem had even made a poor broom
out of some dry birch twigs and a stick, and with this he had tried
to sweep off the broad slab of rock on which the house stood. It was
not half done, to be sure; Lem was not used to sweeping, or to making
things tidy; but he thought he had made the place very fine for his
new friends, and they did not fail to praise and admire. Moreover,
Lem had washed his face, for the first time perhaps in many weeks
or months; and, although he had left his cheeks all streaked and
channelled, it was at least an attempt at something better, and, so
far, even this was promising.

Dolly was awake, but quite wild, and talked in a rambling way of
silver cups and angels, of gardens and music, of the Ice Glen and the
dark, dark night. Her fever was very high, and her poor head rolled
from side to side; but, in spite of her restlessness, she could not
move hand or foot, for the terrible pains which racked her and made
her cry out on the slightest motion.

"She's awful sick, aint she?" said Lem, as he stood beside the two
gentlemen, and saw with what grave faces they watched his sister.

"She is very sick, Lem," said Mr. Bradford; "too sick to be left here
alone with you. I must go and see if I can find some one to come and
take care of her to-night;" and, after saying a few words in French to
his brother-in-law, Mr. Bradford walked away.

Mr. Stanton stayed behind. He had brought with him the upper half of
an old window-sash which he had begged from Mr. Porter, a hammer, and
some large nails; and he now told Lem they must go to work again, and
he would tell the promised story as they worked. The sash was too
large for the square hole in the side of the house which served for
a window; but Mr. Stanton made it answer for the time, hanging it by
strips of leather, nailed at one end to the sash, at the other to the
boards above the window. This now served the purpose, since it could
be raised or let down as might be needed. Then the crazy door was
taken down, and hung anew on its two hinges; and, as the old latch was
quite worn out and useless, Mr. Stanton fashioned a wooden button by
which it might be fastened.

Meanwhile he told in low tones, that Dolly might not be disturbed, the
story of a famous tiger hunt. Lem listened eagerly,--listened with
ears, eyes, and mouth, if such a thing could be; for the two latter
were so wide open that he seemed to be drinking in the tale by these
as well as by the proper channel. But Mr. Stanton soon found he was
not to be depended upon for work. Accustomed to an idle, lazy life,
Lem could not fix his attention and employ his hands at the same
time. If Mr. Stanton reminded him of his work, he would hammer or cut
away for one moment; the next his hands would be clasping his knees in
an ecstasy of delight and wonder at the strange but true tale he was
listening to.

The gentleman let it pass, however. Lem's help was not of much account
at the best; and his object just now was to gain a hold on the boy,
and interest him. Teaching, advice, or reproof might come by and by,
when he had made Lem feel he meant to be a friend to him.

Nevertheless, Lem had not the least idea that he had not done his own
share of the work; and when the door and make-shift window were both
in their places he exclaimed,--

"We did fix it up fustrate; didn't we mister?"

"I am glad you like it," said Mr. Stanton, looking about him. "What
have you there, Lem?" and he pointed to four small rustic boxes
standing at the side of the hut. They were made of twigs and bits of
wood curiously woven together, and were filled with earth. Two of
these held nothing else, in each of the others grew two scraggy little
plants.

"Oh, them!" said Lem, "them's nothing but Doll's pots. She made 'em
at odd times, always had a knack that way; and them things growin' in
'em is marygools, I guess. She picked up a paper with some seeds in
it, on the road one day, and nothin' would serve her but to plant 'em.
So she made the pots for 'em and stuck 'em in, but none of 'em come
to nothin', only them two. I tell her there's lots of better lookin'
things in the woods, to be had for the pickin'; but somehow she sets a
heap by them old things, and waters 'em every day.

"Then you must take care of them for her, while she is sick; won't
you?" said Mr. Stanton.

"S'pose so," said Lem; "but they'll never be no good."


[Illustration]



XIII.

_A RIDE ON THE SHEAVES._


MR. BRADFORD had gone in search of Mr. Porter; but when he reached the
Lake House, he did not find him there; for this was harvest time, and
the old man, still strong and hearty, was out in the fields, helping
his sons and hired men to mow and carry in the grain. The whole flock
of little ones, boys and girls, were out in the harvest fields too,
and there went papa.

What a pretty, joyous sight it was! At the farther side of the fields,
were the reapers, cutting with long, regular sweeps the yellow grain;
while, nearer at hand, were others binding it in sheaves. Among these
were Harry, Fred, and Hafed.

Upon an overturned sheaf, sat mammy, her baby on her knee, the little
one crowing and laughing, and shaking her dimpled hands, each of which
grasped half a dozen ears of wheat, a new and wonderful plaything to
baby's eyes, as they bobbed their heads up and down with the motion.

Near by, where the wheat still lay as it had been cut, in long even
rows, was Frankie, in busy mischief as usual, snatching up whole
handfuls of it, and tossing it above his head with shouts of glee.
Mr. Porter would not have him stopped; no one minded a little more
trouble, provided the children had their fun, he said. The old man
himself stood by the side of the great ox cart, which was filled
with golden sheaves; and on the top of these Maggie and Bessie sat
in state, their hands and round straw hats filled with bright, red
poppies. John Porter was about to give them a ride up to the great
barn where the wheat was to be stored.

Mr. Bradford stood for a moment looking at it all, then walked up to
Mr. Porter.

"Mr. Porter," he said, "can you tell me where I can find some one who
will go and nurse that poor girl? She is too ill to be left with no
one but her brother to take care of her."

Mr. Porter shook his head.

"I don't know of a soul that would be willing to go. 'Taint a place
where one would care to pass the night, with the chance, too, of Owen
coming home."

"If good pay could induce any one to do it, that shall not be
wanting," said Mr. Bradford. "Is there no one in the village who would
do it for that?"

"Well, I do know of a poor woman who might be glad to earn a little
that way," said Mr. Porter; "but we could not get at her to-night. It
is too late now to go down the mountain, with the roads washed as they
were by the rain of night before last. There's no moon, and it would
not be safe coming back; but I'll send for her in the morning, if you
say so."

"I do say so," replied Mr. Bradford; "but what are we to do for
to-night?"

Maggie and Bessie heard no more; for just then John Porter gave the
word to his oxen, and they started off, leaving papa and Mr. Porter
still talking.

What a pleasant ride that was: out of the field where the bars
had been let down; past other fields ready, or nearly ready, for
the harvesting; pale green oats, and golden wheat, the white,
sweet-scented buckwheat, and the tall Indian corn; then through the
orchard where a flock of sheep were feeding, past the locust grove,
and then into the farmyard; stopping at last between the open doors of
the great barn!

But, in spite of it all, our little girls were rather thoughtful as
they jogged slowly on.

"Maggie," said Bessie, presently, "won't it be dreadful if papa can't
get any one to take care of poor sick Dolly to-night?"

"Yes," said Maggie: "I wonder what she will do."

"If I was big, and mamma would let me, I'd go myself," said Bessie.

"Would you?" said Maggie; "well, I am afraid I wouldn't: so it's
better that I am not big, 'cause then I needn't have a troubled
conscience for not doing it."

They were both silent for a moment or two. John Porter was walking at
his oxen's heads, out of hearing, if the children lowered their voices.

"Bessie," said Maggie, in a whisper, "John Porter might do it,
mightn't he? He is big and strong enough."

"Yes," answered Bessie, "and he heard what papa said too; but he
didn't say he'd go. Perhaps it didn't come into his head. Shall we try
to put it there, Maggie?"

"Yes: maybe you can coax him to do it."

"I'll try, and see if I can make him compassioned of poor Dolly.
John," she said, in a louder tone, "you are very glad you are well and
strong; are you not?"

"Surely," said John.

"And you wouldn't like to be sick at all, would you, John?"

"Not one bit," said John. "I'd scarce know myself, for I never was
sick in my life, that I remember."

"Then I s'pose you feel very thankful for it, and as if you'd like to
help make sick people as well as you are; don't you?" said Bessie.

"Guess I wouldn't make much hand at that," answered John.

"But you are big and strong, John."

"Yes, I'm big and strong enough; but it takes more than that to make
a good nurse. If it came in my way to do a good turn for a sick body,
and there was no one else to do it, why I'd lend a hand; but I don't
know as they'd thank me for it."

"Oh yes they would, John," said Maggie, eagerly; "if I was sick and
had no one to take care of me, and you came to do it, I'd thank you
ever so much."

"Well, I'll do it when you come to that pass," said John, without the
least idea what the little girls were driving at.

"He don't seem to understand yet," whispered Maggie to her sister;
"try him with the 'Golden Rule.'"

"John," said Bessie, "are you not very fond of doing as you would be
done by?"

"As fond as most folks, I guess," said John. "'Gee, there! gee,
Whitefoot!"

Bessie waited till they had passed through the gate of the orchard,
then began again.

"John, if there was a chance to do as you would be done by, and you
did not think of it, would you like some one to tell you of it?"

John looked round at her and laughed.

"If there's any thing you want me to do for you, out with it. It's no
good beating about the bush. You know I always like to do for you what
I can."

"Yes: you are very good to us," said Bessie; "but it was not us: it
was Dolly. Don't you think it would be doing as you would be done by
to go and take care of her to-night?"

"Whew! that's it, is it?" said John. "Maybe it would be; but that
_would_ be a good thing to see me taking care of Dolly Owen;" and John
laughed loud and long.

Bessie was displeased, and drew herself up with a little dignified air.

"I don't think he is coaxed a bit," she whispered; "he is very
hard-hearted."

"No," said Maggie: "I don't believe he is the kind to be coaxed."

"Then I'll have to be a little strict with him, and show him it's his
duty," said Bessie, in the same tone.

"Yes, to let him see he ought to do it, whether he likes it or not,"
said Maggie; "maybe he's never been taught that."

"John," said Bessie, folding her little hands gravely in her lap, and
trying to look sternly at the young man, "perhaps you don't know that
if we know we ought to do a thing and don't do it, our Father is not
very pleased with us."

"May be so," said John; "but I don't feel it's _my_ duty to go and
take care of Dolly."

"Whose duty is it, then?" asked Bessie.

"Not any one's that's likely to do it, I guess."

Bessie was in despair, but she thought she would try a little more
severity.

"John," she said, "when you are poor and ragged, and sick and bad, I
hope some one will have pity of you, and go take care of you."

"I hope so too; but I don't feel there's any call on me to go and look
after that thieving beggar, nor for you to trouble yourselves about
her, after all she's done to you," answered John.

"John," said Bessie, solemnly, "I'm afraid we don't think you quite so
very nice as we did this morning; and I'm afraid you are one of those
to whom our Lord will say, 'I was sick, and ye visited me not.'"

But John was only amused at her displeasure, and laughed aloud again.

Neither of the children spoke till they reached the barn, when John
came to the side of the cart and lifted them down.

"Well, you are just two of the funniest, forgivingest little things,"
he said, as he put Bessie on her feet.

Bessie deigned no answer; but with an air of great displeasure turned
away, and stood at a little distance with Maggie, watching the men
pitch the sheaves up into the loft.

"Are you going back with me?" asked John, when he was ready to start
for the harvest-field again.

"No," Bessie answered, rather shortly.

"Why, you're not offended with me, are you?" said John, "and all along
of that ragamuffin up there."

"We're displeased with you," said Bessie. "It's right to be displeased
with people when you tell them what is right, and they don't do it;
but if you're going to repent, we'll forgive you."

John answered with another "ha-ha."

"Well, no," he said; "I don't think I'm ready for repentance in that
line yet. I hope I'll never do any thing worse than refusing to take
care of a sick beggar."

"I hope so too," said Bessie, reprovingly. "That's quite worse
enough," and she and Maggie walked out of the farmyard, and turned
into the lane which led up to the house.

"Hallo!" John called out, mischievously; "if you feel so bad about
Dolly, why don't you ask your father or uncle to go up and see after
her?"

Neither of the little girls turned their heads, but walked straight
on in the most dignified silence, followed by the sound of John's
merriment.

"That's a little too much," said Maggie, when they were beyond
hearing; "idea of papa or Uncle Ruthven staying all night in that
dirty place!"

Bessie did not like the idea either, but her little head was puzzled.
If she thought it right for John Porter to go, ought she not to think
it right for her papa or uncle? She did not at all thank John for
putting the thought into her head: it was fresh cause of offence
against him; but now that it was there, she could not shut it out.

"Maggie," she said, "I wonder if we ought not to put it into papa's or
Uncle Ruthven's mind?"

"Pooh! no," said Maggie; "they've sense enough to think it out for
themselves if they ought to go: but I don't think John Porter is very
sensible; do you?"

"I guess I won't say he's unsensible just now," said Bessie. "I'm
'fraid I feel 'most too mad."

"What difference does that make?" asked Maggie.

"'Cause mamma said, when I was angry it was better not to say unkind
things about a person; and then when I was pleased with them again I
would see that the unkind things were only in my own heart, and not
quite true. She didn't say just those very words, but that was what
she meant."

"I'm never, never going to be pleased with John Porter again," said
Maggie, shaking her head very decidedly. "Oh! there's Mrs. Porter
going to feed the chickens; let's go help her."

The chickens had been fed and had gone to roost, and the little girls
had been with Dolly and Fanny to the pasture to see the cows milked,
before they went back to the house, and met Uncle Ruthven just coming
home. They ran up to him, and each taking a hand, asked for news of
Dolly. It was not good,--worse, if any thing, than the last; and they
looked rather sober as they walked with their uncle up the steps of
the piazza, where all the rest of the family were gathered.

"Well," said Uncle Ruthven to papa, "have you had any success?"

"Not the least," said Mr. Bradford; and then he told what Mr. Porter
had said.

"She must be looked after to-night," said Mr. Stanton. "Lem does not
know what to do for her, and is frightened half out of his senses at
the thought of being alone with her. It would be cruel to leave them."

"Yes," said Maggie, indignantly; "we were trying to make John Porter
see it was his duty to go and take care of her, but he would not. He
has not a bit of compassion."

"We said every thing we could, till we were quite despaired of him,"
put in Bessie; "but it was all of no use."

"What makes you think John Porter ought to go and take care of her?"
asked Uncle Ruthven.

"Oh! 'cause he's such a big, strong fellow," said Maggie, "so we
thought it was his duty; but he would not be put in mind of it."

"Well," said Uncle Ruthven, "there is another big, strong fellow whom
you have put in mind of _his_ duty. He had an inkling of it before,
but I must say he was not very willing to see it."

"Ruthven!" exclaimed his wife, "you do not mean you are going to that
dreadful place to pass the night!"

"I do not see that Maggie and Bessie have left me any choice," he
answered, smiling, and sitting down on the steps beside her, "at
least not if being a big, strong fellow makes it one's duty to go."

"Oh, Uncle Ruthven!" said Maggie, "we never meant you."

"Perhaps not, Maggie; but the shoe fits, so I think I must put it on."

"Is there no one we could find to do it if they were well paid?" said
his wife, pleadingly.

"I expect to be well paid, love," he said in a low tone and with
another smile. "I shall have all the reward I can ask."

Little Bessie was standing at Mrs. Stanton's knee, twisting one over
another her aunt's soft, white fingers, and as her uncle spoke she
looked up brightly.

"We know what he means, don't we, dear Aunt Bessie? He means the cup
of cold water given in Jesus' name shall have its reward. I think
Uncle Ruthven is taking up a jewel."

"Thank you, darling," said Aunt Bessie, with a quiver in her voice.

"For what, Aunt Bessie?"

But Aunt Bessie only smiled and kissed her, and Uncle Ruthven said,--

"I shall borrow the Colonel's camp chair with his permission, and take
some candles and a book, so I shall do very well on this fine, still
night."

"And I shall keep awake all night and think about you, Uncle Ruthven,"
said Maggie; "so if you feel lonely you can know my soul is over there
with you."

So when tea was over, Uncle Ruthven with a lantern, the Colonel's
camp-chair, and some other needful things for Dolly, went over to pass
the night at the wretched hut.

The little girls stood beside Aunt Bessie and watched him as he walked
away, and Bessie, taking Mrs. Stanton's hand in hers, laid her cheek
upon it in her own caressing way, and said,--

"Aunt Bessie, I think we'll _all_ have to try to bear Dolly's burden
to-night."

"It's too bad!" exclaimed Maggie; "it's an awful burden to bear,
it makes me feel homesick, and I want to cry about it, and I just
will--there now!" and Maggie burst into tears.

Mamma came, and after a little petting carried them off to bed, for
they were both tired. But on the way she had to stop in the kitchen
to speak to Mrs. Porter, and there her little girls followed her and
found John.

Now we know Maggie had said she "_never, never_ meant to be pleased
with John again;" but when he called to them, and said he had a treat
for them the next day, she somehow found herself, she did not quite
know how, talking away to him, and begging to know what it was, as if
she had never been displeased with him in her life.

But after she was in bed and mamma had gone, she suddenly popped up
her head and said,--

"Bessie, what do you think? I went and forgot I was mad with John
Porter. Now, what shall I do about it?"

"I guess you'll have to stay unmad," said Bessie, sleepily.

"Yes, I s'pose I will," said Maggie; "and I believe I'm rather glad
of it. I don't feel very nice when I keep displeased with people, and
John is real good to us, if he wouldn't go stay with Dolly. Are you
going to stay awake all night, and think about Uncle Ruthven?"

"I'd like to," said Bessie; "but I'm 'fraid I can't. I'm so tired and
sleepy, my eyes won't stay open."

"Mine will," said Maggie. "I'm going to make them. I don't mean to
sleep a single wink, but just think about Uncle Ruthven all the
time. Isn't he kind and good, Bessie? John Porter is pretty good
too: I wonder where he's going to take us to-morrow, and if mamma
will let us go,--and s'pose--maybe--Uncle Ruthven in the--rocks--and
I'm--not--going"--

"Maggie," said Uncle Ruthven, the next morning, "I rather think I
missed the company of those constant thoughts you promised me last
night, at least for part of the time."

Maggie climbed on her uncle's knee, put her arms about his neck and
her lips very close to his ear, and whispered,--

"_Please_ don't tell any one, Uncle Ruthven; but I am afraid I did go
to sleep for a few minutes last night. I didn't mean to, but I did."

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



XIV.

_BLACKBERRYING._


"MAMMA, mamma, mamma!" cried Maggie and Bessie, dancing into the room
with sparkling eyes and glowing cheeks.

"What is it, Sunbeams?" asked mamma.

"Oh! a blackberry party, mamma,--such a splendid blackberry
party!--and we are all to go if you will let us. John is going to take
us; and Dolly and Fanny are going, and Jane, too, if you would like to
have her. Can we go, can we? Oh, say yes, mamma!"

"And please don't say I am too little, mamma," said Bessie. "John will
take very good care of me, and carry me over all the hard places. And
if we pick more berries than we want to eat for tea, Mrs. Porter is
going to make them into blackberry jam for us to take home with us.
So you see it will be very useful, as well as very pleasant, for us to
go."

"Very well," said mamma, "that being the case, I think I must let you
go."

Half an hour later the party started, armed with baskets and tin
pails. Away they went, laughing and singing, by the lake road, and
then down the side of the mountain to a spot where John said the
blackberry bushes grew very thick. The way was pretty rough, and not
only Bessie, but Maggie also, was glad of John's help now and then.
Indeed, Bessie rode upon his shoulder for a great part of the way.

The blackberries were "thick as hops" when they came upon them,--some
still green, some red or half ripe, others as black as ink; and these
the children knew were what they must pick. The fingers of large and
small were soon at work, but Maggie and Bessie did not find it quite
as great fun as they expected.

"Ou, ou!" exclaimed Maggie, as she plunged her hand into the first
bush. "Why, there are horrid prickers on it!"

"And on mine too," cried Bessie. "They stick me like every thing. Oh,
my finger is bleeding!"

"To be sure," said Fanny; "you must be careful: blackberry bushes are
full of thorns."

Maggie and Bessie had not bargained for the thorns, and felt somehow
as if they had been rather imposed upon; but they picked away more
carefully. Now and then a berry found its way into a small mouth
instead of into the pails, and very ripe and juicy it tasted.

By and by Bessie gave a little sigh and said,--

"Maggie, do you think it is so very nice?"

"I'm trying to think it is," said Maggie; "but they do scratch
awfully, don't they? and the sun is pretty hot too. How many have you,
Bessie?"

"I guess about five hundred,--maybe it's a thousand," said Bessie.
"Can you count them?"

"Let's sit down there in the shade and do it," said Maggie. "One,
two, three, four,--there's seventeen, Bessie. That's a pretty good
many."

"Is it 'most a thousand, Maggie?"

"No," said Maggie, "I'm afraid it will take about fifty more to make
a thousand. Here's Bob; we'll ask him," as Bob and Hafed came by with
their baskets. "Bob, Bessie has seventeen berries; how many more will
it take to make a thousand?"

"Seventeen from a thousand," said Bob, "why it will take--nine
hundred--and--and--eighty-three. You haven't the beginning of a
thousand there yet."

"Have I enough to make a pot of jam?" asked Bessie, wistfully, looking
into her pail. "Your mother said she would make me a pot of my own if
I brought enough berries."

"A small pot it would be," said Bob, laughing. "Take two to show the
pattern, I guess," and he ran off.

Hafed lingered behind. He understood enough to know that Bessie was
disturbed because she had so few berries; and suddenly emptying his
basket, which was about a third full, into her pail, he said,--

"Me blackberry pick Missy Bess, all give."

"Oh! no, Hafed," said Bessie. "I thank you very much, but it wouldn't
be fair to take your berries."

"Please, missy, make Hafed feel good," he answered, holding his basket
behind him when Bessie would have poured the berries back. "Me much
find; bring, too, some Missy Mag--" by which he meant he would bring
some more to Maggie,--and he went after Bob.

"Oh! you're tired, are you?" said Jane, turning around to look what
her young charges were doing, and seeing them on the rock. "Maybe
you'd like a little lunch too; and here's some biscuits, and a couple
of cookies your mother told me to bring lest you should be hungry.
Then you can eat some of your berries; or, stay, I'll give you some of
mine so you may keep all your own."

So the kind nurse opened the paper containing the biscuits, and
spread it on the flat stone on which the children sat; next she pulled
two broad mullein leaves, and put a handful of berries on each, and
then having produced the drinking cup she always carried when the
children went on an expedition, she asked John where she should find a
stream, and one being near at hand as usual, the cup was soon filled
and placed beside the other things.

"There," said Jane, "I don't believe Queen Victoria herself had a
better set-out when she went blackberrying."

The children thought not; and the rest and unexpected little lunch
made them both feel refreshed and bright again.

"Bessie," said Maggie, as they sat contentedly eating it, "do you not
think foreigner boys are a great deal nicer than home-made boys?"

"What does foreigner mean?" asked Bessie.

"It means to come out of another country. Hafed is a foreigner, and
that little French boy who was so polite to us on board the steamboat
was a foreigner, and so is Carl."

Carl was Uncle Ruthven's Swedish servant.

"Are not Harry and Fred home-made boys, Maggie?"

"Yes; but, of course, I don't mean them: they're our brothers; but, of
example, don't you think Hafed is a great deal nicer and politer than
Bob?"

"Oh, yes! Bob laughed at me 'cause I had only a few berries; and Hafed
did not laugh a bit, but gave me his."

"Midget and Bess," came in Fred's clear tones from a little distance,
"come over here; here are lots of berries, lying on top of one another
almost, ripe and sweet; and calling out, 'Come pick me!' They hang
low, so we'll leave them for you, and it's nice and shady too."

"Fred is a nice home-made boy; is he not?" said Bessie, as they obeyed
his call.

"Yes, and Harry too," said Maggie. "I did not mean to pass any remarks
of them."

There were indeed lots of blackberries in the spot to which Fred had
called them; and, screened from the rays of the sun, they picked them
with comfort; besides which, many a large berry which they did not
pick themselves found its way into their pails; so that, by the time
Hafed came with his offering to Maggie, her own berries made quite a
show, and she steadily refused to take his.

Then John said they must be moving homeward. They went by a different
road from that by which they had come, stopping every now and then,
where the berries were fine and thick, to add a few more to their
store.

Seeing some which they thought particularly fine, the rest of the
party climbed a steep rocky path to get them; while Maggie and Bessie,
being tired, sat down to rest upon a fallen trunk. Suddenly a rustling
beside them startled them; and, looking round, they saw a large pair
of bright, soft eyes, gazing at them. A pair of ears were there also,
a black nose too; in short, the whole of some animal's pretty head;
and, before the little girls had time to call out or run away, a
beautiful little fawn sprang out from the bushes and ran to them as if
he was glad to see them. It had a red collar about its neck with some
letters on it; but the children had no need to look at them: they knew
the pretty creature quite well. It belonged to the little cousins down
at the homestead, and was a great pet, and now it came rubbing its
head against them, and putting its hoof into their laps, as if it were
very glad to see some familiar faces. It must have wandered from home,
the children knew; and so John said, when he came a moment later.

"I shall have to take the poor creature back," he said. "It would
never do to take it up home, for Buffer would tear it to pieces; and,
besides, they'll be worrying about it down there; so I'd better go at
once. You can find your way home from here, Fan; take that right-hand
path, and it will bring you out just below Owen's shanty."

The fawn seemed quite unwilling to leave the children; indeed it would
not go at all, till John tied a string to its collar, and drew it
after him. As it was found out afterwards, it had been lost since the
day before; and the homestead children were in great distress, and had
hunted for it in vain.

The path pointed out by John brought them, as he said it would, very
near Owen's hut, and, looking towards it, they saw Mr. Stanton and his
wife and Mrs. Bradford standing in front of it.

While Mr. Bradford had gone to the village to send the doctor, and try
to find a nurse for Dolly, the two ladies had come with Mr. Stanton to
see the sick child.

She was quieter than she had been through the night, but was, if any
thing, more ill. She moaned incessantly, and Lem said, was all the
time begging for something, he could not make out what.

Mrs. Stanton laid her soft, cool hand on the girl's burning forehead.
Dolly seemed to like the touch, and looking up into the lady's face,
said something in a beseeching tone.

"Do you want any thing, Dolly?" asked Mrs. Stanton, bending lower.

"I want," muttered Dolly; "I want to--to be angel."

"Poor Dolly," said the lady in a gentle, pitying tone.

"What is it she wants?" asked Lem.

"She says she wants to be an angel."

"Want to be an angel," moaned Dolly again. "Somebody loves the
angels--up in His place--not tired there--rest for the weary; that's
tired folks--that's me. I'm so tired--want to be an angel."

"Dolly," said Mrs. Stanton, not knowing if the girl could understand
her, yet hoping that she might even now speak a word in season,
"Dolly, you may be an angel some day if you will come to Jesus. He
wants you to come and love Him. He wants you to be a good girl so that
He may take you to His heaven, where there will be no more pain or
sorrow, where you will never be tired, where you will be an angel.
Will you love Him, Dolly; will you be a good girl, and try to please
Him?"

"Don't love _me_," said Dolly, who, with her eyes fixed on the lady's
face, had grown quiet, and really seemed to understand what she was
saying; "loves little gals, maybe, what sings: they has nice frocks,
and I aint fit for His beautiful place."

"Jesus will make you clean and white, and fit for His heaven, if you
ask Him, Dolly. He does love you. He is waiting for you to come to
Him."

"Little gals said He loved me; but can't ask Him, He don't come here."

"Yes, He does, Dolly. He is here now. You cannot see Him; but He
sees you, and is sorry for you. Shall we ask Him to make you fit for
heaven?"

"Yes," said Dolly.

"Dear Jesus," said the lady, "we ask Thee to give this little girl a
new, clean heart, and to make her fit to live with Thee"--

"To be an angel," put in Dolly, eagerly.

"Make her fit to be an angel, make her love to please Thee, and, when
it is time, take her to the home where there shall be no more pain or
trouble. Amen."

"No more pain--no more trouble," murmured Dolly, her mind wandering
again; "want to be an angel--I'll give her the cup," she cried; "they
say it kills folks to be too long in the Ice Glen, but I can't get
out; they'll send Lem to jail, will they? I'll fix 'em with their fine
gardens--want to--rest for the weary."

Then her eyes closed, but presently opened again; and, looking from
one to another of the kind faces above her, she said,--

"I say, did He see me give up the cup?"

"Yes," said Mrs. Stanton. "He sees all we do."

"And did He like me a little 'cause I did it?"

"Jesus was glad when He saw you give up the cup, Dolly, because it
was not yours, and it was right for you to tell where it was. He is
always glad when we do right, or when we are sorry for doing wrong."

"Can I speak to Him?"

"Yes: He is always ready and willing to listen to you, my poor child."

"Guess I'll tell Him," muttered Dolly; and, trying to put her hands
together as she had seen Mrs. Stanton do, she said, "Jesus, I'm true
sorry I sp'iled them gardens, and I want to be a angel, if you _could_
please to let me."

It was the first prayer that ever passed Dolly's lips; she did not
even know it was a prayer; she only knew she was speaking to Jesus,
the great friend of whom little Bessie and this kind lady had told her.

Then the poor child turned her face around and fell into one of her
short, troubled slumbers; while Mr. and Mrs. Stanton and Mrs. Bradford
went outside, followed by Lem.

The two ladies and the gentleman sat down upon the rocks, while Lem
took his place in front of them, hugging up his knees, and staring
from one to another with half-frightened, half-sorrowful, looks. They
were all silent for a little time, then Lem suddenly said,--

"Mister, when folks goes to be angels they mostly dies, don't they?"

"Always, Lem," said Mr. Stanton, gently. "Angels are happy spirits
whom God has taken from all the pain and trouble of this world to live
with Him in that happy home where sorrow and death never come."

"Is Doll going to die?" asked the boy.

"I cannot tell: that will be as God sees best. Dolly is very sick; but
we will do for her all we can, and we will ask Him to make her His own
little child, so that if she dies she may be fit to live with Him, and
if she lives, she may be ready to serve Him and love Him on earth."

"I'll tell you, mister," broke forth Lem, after another moment or two
of silence, "I was awful sorry when I heard what Doll did to them
gardens after the little gals begged me out; but you see she didn't
know it, and she thought I was took to jail. I guess she's sorry too.
Wasn't you awful mad about it?"

"I did feel pretty angry, Lem; but we won't talk any more about that.
I do not think either you or Dolly will trouble our little girls
again; will you?"

"I shan't," said Lem, "and if Doll gets well and does, I'll fix her:
that's all."

Lem scarcely spoke without using some very bad word, such as is not
best for me to write or you to read; and Mr. Stanton was waiting his
time to speak to him about this. It came now.

"But maybe she'll die," continued Lem. "Anyhow, you and your folks
has been real good to me and Doll: what for I don't know, for we did
plague you awful. I don't s'pose I'll ever get the chance to do you a
good turn; but, if I do, you see if I don't."

"Lem," said Mr. Stanton, "you might do me a good turn now if you
choose."

"Can I, though?" said Lem; "well, I will fast enough; for you're a
fustrate fellow, and you tell fustrate tiger and bear stories. S'pose
you don't know another, do you?"

"Plenty more," said Mr. Stanton; "what I want you to do for me, is not
to use bad words."

"Never had no schoolin'," said Lem, a little sulkily.

"Schooling will not help you in the way I mean," said Mr. Stanton;
and then he explained to Lem what kind of words he did mean, telling
him how wicked and useless they were, and how it distressed those
who loved God to hear His holy name taken in vain. Lem said he would
do so no more; but the habit was so strong upon him, that, even as
he promised, he used more than one profane word to make the promise
strong.

But now a cry from Dolly told that she was awake and suffering, and
the two ladies went in, and found her quite wild again.

"I want to be a angel," she said; "there's no pain, no tired,
there--where's the singin'--I like it," and so she wandered on,
calling upon the little girls and begging them to sing. In vain did
Mrs. Bradford and Mrs. Stanton sing for her the two hymns which had
taken her fancy, she only looked about more wildly for Maggie and
Bessie, crying that she wanted "little one and t'other one," to sing
for her. She grew worse and worse, till at last even the presence
of the two ladies seemed to make her more wild; and they went out,
leaving Lem to do the best he could with her. Mrs. Bradford was just
saying she did not know what to do, since the children were from home,
when the blackberry party appeared at the turn in the wood-path.

"Here are the children, heaven-sent, I believe," said their mother,
and she beckoned to her little girls.

They came running towards her, eager to show their berries, and to ask
for news of Dolly. Mamma told them how ill she was, calling for them;
and asked if they would go and sing for her.

Bessie said yes, at once; but timid Maggie looked half doubtfully at
the dark, ugly, little house, and had a short struggle with herself
before she could make up her mind to venture in. And after they were
inside, she held Bessie tightly by the hand, and for a moment or two
could scarcely find voice to sing.

Dolly's wild eyes turned towards them, and softened a little with
pleasure at the sight; and her loud, hoarse cries ceased. It was
evident she knew them.

"Sing, 'I want to be an angel,' my darlings," said mamma.

It was strange to see how the sweet sounds now soothed the sick child,
though they had failed when tried by Mrs. Bradford and Mrs. Stanton.
A love for music was, beside her affection for Lem, the one soft spot
in poor Dolly's sinful, hardened heart; but the practised voices of
the two ladies had not half the charm for her of the simple, childish
tones which had first sung to her the hymn which had taken such hold
upon her fancy, or rather on her heart. They sang it again and again,
varying from that only to "Rest for the weary," for no other hymns
seemed to satisfy the sick girl. She grew calm and quiet, and at last
even appeared to forget her pain as she lay listening.

Once, when they paused, she beckoned to Bessie, and said, "Do you
sometimes speak to Him?"

"To whom?" asked Bessie.

"To Him what has the angels, and is glad if we're good,--Jesus."

"Oh, yes!" said Bessie; "we speak to Him very often: when we say our
prayers, that is speaking to Jesus; and He always listens too."

"Then you speak to Him for me, will you? You knows Him better than I
do: I don't know Him much, only what you and the lady telled me, and
what the song says."

"What shall we tell Him?" asked Bessie.

"Tell Him I'm so tired this long while, and the pain aches so, and if
He _could_ just let me be a angel, I'd never do so no more; and I'm
sorry I plagued you, and I'll do just what He bids me. I'm sorry I
broke Miss Porter's plate too."

"Yes, we'll tell Him," said Bessie gently; "but, Dolly, Jesus would
like you to tell Him yourself too."

"I done it, and I'll do it some more," said Dolly, feebly; "make some
more singin'."

Maggie and Bessie sang again, and before long poor Dolly's eyes
closed, and she lay quietly sleeping; while our little girls, having
left some of their berries for Lem to give her when she woke, went
home with their mother and other friends.

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



XV.

_A FRIEND IN NEED._


THREE weeks had passed away, and still Dolly lay very ill. The
terrible rheumatic pains were better, it is true, and she could now
be moved without causing her so much agony; but she had a racking
cough and much fever, and showed, in many other ways, how very sick
she was. Lem said she had had a cough for a good while before that
night spent in the Ice Glen, and that she had always been complaining
of feeling tired. The doctor from the village shook his head when he
was questioned about her, and so did Mr. Stanton and old Mrs. Porter.
She had not wanted for such care as could be given her in her wretched
home. Mr. Bradford had found a woman who, in consideration of being
well paid, was willing to come and take care of her, and kind Mrs.
Porter provided her with such food as she could take. Maggie and
Bessie, and some of the ladies from the Lake House, came up to see her
every day when the weather permitted, and would sing to her, and tell
her of Jesus and His love.

It was strange to see how readily she listened, how eagerly she drank
it all in, especially when Bessie talked to her. Perhaps the simple,
earnest words of this little teacher were easier to be understood
by her poor, untaught mind, than those of others who were older
and wiser. Or it might be that she felt Bessie had been her first
friend,--the first one to extend to her the hand of forgiveness and
kindness,--or perhaps it was both of these things. However it was, she
was always glad to see the little girls and have them tell her of that
Friend above who was so full of pity, love, and forgiveness.

Dolly had heard of God before, but not as the kind, loving
Father,--the merciful, gracious Saviour,--who stands ready to receive
all who will turn to Him, who comes after us when we go from Him, and
who had now put out His pitying hand to draw to Himself this poor
little stricken lamb who had wandered so far from his fold. She had
heard His holy name taken in vain every day of her miserable little
life; she had never until now heard it spoken in love and reverence;
and the only idea she had had of Him, had been as some great but
terrible being who some day might find her out, and punish her for
the naughty things she had done. But the dread of this uncertain
punishment had not checked her in her wicked ways; and so she had gone
on, till the God she did not love and scarcely feared, had laid his
hand upon her, and then sent these little messengers to bring to her
the glad tidings of peace and pardon.

Day by day she grew more gentle, more humble, more quiet, more unlike
the Dolly of old, on whom kindness and harshness had both been thrown
away. Poor child, perhaps it was that she had had so much of the
latter, that she had not known how to believe in the former when it
came to her. It was touching to see her penitence for past offences,
and how anxious she now became to be forgiven by those whom she had
wronged. But her ideas of right and wrong were still very strange, and
rather difficult to deal with.

One day Mrs. Porter came to see her and brought some nice broth, with
which she fed her. As she was leaving, Dolly called her back, and told
her to look in the corner beneath a heap of dried sticks and see what
she would find. Willing to please the child, Mrs. Porter did so, and
drew out a soiled but fine pocket-handkerchief.

"There," said Dolly, "I'm going to give you that for your plate that I
broke. I'm right sorry I broke it. Jesus didn't like me much then, I
guess."

Mrs. Porter was quite sure that Dolly had not come honestly by the
handkerchief, and would not take it, which greatly distressed the
child. Just at that moment, Mrs. Bradford came in, and Mrs. Porter
told her the trouble.

"Dolly," said Mrs. Bradford, gently, "where did you get this
handkerchief?"

"Off old Miss Mapes' currant-bush," said Dolly, promptly; adding, in
an aggrieved tone, "I want her to have it 'stead of her plate, and she
won't."

"Because it is not yours to give away."

"Then 'taint mine to keep," said Dolly; "and I guess Jesus don't want
me to have it."

"He wants you to give it back to Mrs. Mapes, because that is the only
right thing to do, Dolly."

"Old Miss Mapes is hateful," answered Dolly. "She chased me off the
road when I didn't do nothin', and threw a hoe at me and cut my foot,
and that's why I took it; I'd liever Miss Porter would have it. She's
good."

"But if you want to be a good girl, and please Jesus, you must do what
He wants you to, not what you had rather do yourself."

"Would He rather I'd give the handkercher back to Miss Mapes?"

"Yes," said Mrs. Bradford. "He was grieved when He saw you take it;
and He will know you are truly sorry if you send it back to her."

"I'll do it, then," said Dolly; "you can take it to her: but don't you
tell her I did it for her, 'cause I don't,--it's only for Him."

Poor child! it was perhaps as much as was to be expected from one so
ignorant; and Mrs. Bradford, fearing to do her harm, said no more,
trusting that even this blind striving after right was pleasing in the
eyes of Him who has said, that little should be required of him to
whom little has been given.

"Say 'Gentle Jesus,'" said Dolly, turning to Bessie, who had stood by
while her mother was talking.

Next to the two hymns which had first taken her fancy, this seemed
to be the one Dolly liked best; and now she often asked for it.
Bessie repeated it. When she came to the two last lines of the second
verse,--

     "In the kingdom of thy grace,
     Give a little child a place,"

Dolly said, "I'm going to say, 'Give a better child a place,' 'cause
I'll be a better child now: true I will."

"With Jesus' help, Dolly," said Mrs. Bradford.

"He did help me," said Dolly. "He let her"--motioning towards
Bessie--"come and tell me about Him."

The small, dirty hut, with the hard ground for its floor, its
miserable roof, and chinks and crannies which let in the wind and
damp, was no place for a sick child on these cool August nights; and
now that Dolly could be moved without putting her to so much pain,
it was thought best it should be done. The poor-house was many miles
away, and now that Maggie and Bessie had come to take such an interest
in her, and she in them, Mr. Porter said it would be cruel to send her
so far, and offered to have her put in the old tool-house. So, for two
or three days, the four boys and Starr busied themselves in repairing
it for her, papa and Uncle Ruthven furnishing what they needed to
make it comfortable. A few planks and nails, a little whitewash and
paint, a sash-window, and some willing hands, soon made it secure
against wind and rain. Then Mrs. Porter had it cleaned, and a cot-bed,
a pine-table, and two chairs were put in it. Plain and bare enough it
was, to be sure, but a wonderful contrast to Dolly's former home; and
the children thought with great pleasure of seeing her brought there.
This was to be done in a few days, but Dolly was not to be told of it
until the time came.

As Maggie and Bessie were on their way home with their mother, they
met Uncle Ruthven and Aunt Bessie, the Colonel and Mrs. Rush, all
going for a walk, and were invited to join them. Mamma agreed, if
Bessie were not too tired, but the little girl declared she was not;
and Uncle Ruthven promised to take her on his shoulder if she gave
out before they reached home. Many a ride had the little "princess"
taken on this kind, strong shoulder during their mountain rambles,
and she now often wondered that she could ever have had "objections"
to this dear, loving uncle who was always so ready to help and please
her. So they all turned back together, and, passing by the end of the
lake, struck into the road which led down the mountain. They strolled
slowly down this for some little distance, and then Mrs. Bradford,
and Colonel and Mrs. Rush, sat down to rest before they began their
homeward walk; while Mr. and Mrs. Stanton and the two little girls
wandered about, gathering wild flowers and mosses. Blue gentians,
golden-rod, Michaelmas daisies, and the pretty, red partridge-berry
grew all about, and the children soon had their hands full.

Suddenly, Maggie spied a cluster of bright scarlet maple leaves, the
first of the season. The gravelly side of the mountain sloped away
here for a few feet, then fell sheer down in a tremendous precipice
to the valley beneath; and a foot or so below the edge grew this
beautiful, tantalizing bunch of leaves. It was quite beyond Maggie's
reach, for she had been forbidden to go near that side of the road,
where a slip, or false step, might have sent her down, down a thousand
feet.

"O Aunt Bessie!" she cried, "look what a lovely bunch of red leaves.
It is just what you said you wanted for that c'llection you are
making. I wonder if Uncle Ruthven could not reach it for you."

Aunt Bessie turned and looked.

"I can reach it for myself," she said. "Uncle Ruthven is upon the
rocks, after those climbing-ferns. I will stand here and hook it up
with this crooked stick."

"Take care, Bessie, take care!" called her brother, the Colonel; "that
is loose gravel there; if it slips with you, you are lost;" and, "Come
back, Bessie, come back!" called her husband from above, seeing the
danger more plainly than any of the others.

It was too late. She looked up, kissed her hand gayly to her husband,
and turned to obey. But her foot was already upon the treacherous
gravel, and she slipped a little, recovered herself; then, startled,
tried too suddenly to spring upon firmer ground, and slipped again.
The gravel gave way more and more beneath her weight. She went
sliding, sliding down, and, in an instant, had disappeared from the
sight of the terrified group above.

"Ruthven! O Ruthven!" was the wild cry that rang out on the still
summer air, followed by a shriek of terror from the two little girls,
and a groan from the Colonel's lips. Then a stillness like death
itself, and the next moment Uncle Ruthven stood among them.

But--how very strange Maggie and Bessie thought it--he did not seem
frightened at all. His face was very white, to be sure; but his voice
was steady and quiet, only it did not sound like Uncle Ruthven's
voice, but like that of some stranger, and as if it came from far, far
away.

"She is holding by the bushes below," he said; and, as he spoke, he
threw himself flat upon the ground, half on, half over, the edge of
the precipice, and, reaching one arm, he succeeded in grasping, and
but just grasping, the wrist of his wife.

For it was as he had said. As she slid downwards, Mrs. Stanton had
clutched wildly at the bushes growing below, and had succeeded in
laying hold of them. But the bushes were slender, and not deeply
rooted in the loose gravelly soil, and though Mrs. Stanton was a
small, slight woman, even her light weight was too much for them, and
they were just giving way, when her husband's strong, firm grasp was
upon her wrist. Yes, he had her fast, holding back the precious life;
but for how long? and what was to be done next?

Mr. Stanton dared not rise upon his feet or even upon his knees, and
so try to draw her up; he was a large, heavy man; the treacherous
edge, which would not bear his wife's far lighter weight, would give
way beneath his, and send them both to a fearful death below. Even
now loose pebbles and gravel were falling down, and striking upon the
sweet, upturned face which looked to him for help. Had her feet even
been upon the slope, or the ledge beneath it, he might have drawn her
up; but they were below it, hanging over that terrible precipice.

In vain did the Colonel, kneeling beside his brother-in-law, clasp his
arms about his waist, and so try to draw both him and his sister to a
place of safety; the ground only broke away more as the added strain
came upon Mr. Stanton's arm, and a fresh shower of gravel and stone
went rolling down upon the poor sufferer below.

Then came her voice in feeble tones. "Ruthven, it is of no use, love;
my clothes are caught and I cannot free them. Let me go, my husband:
it is only throwing away your life."

"Not while God gives life and power to this hand. Courage, my darling,
courage. Go, some of you, for help, ropes and men," he said, turning
his haggard face towards the others, and still speaking in that
strange tone, so unlike his own.

In an instant, Mrs. Bradford was far up the road on her way to the
house. To her little girls she seemed scarcely to touch the ground; to
herself, it seemed as though leaden weights were upon her feet, and
that she made no way at all. Just as she reached the lower end of the
lake, she met her husband coming down to join them. Scarcely pausing,
she spoke half a dozen words which sent him in haste on his way; then
herself sped on towards the house.

Meanwhile, how long the moments seemed to the agonized group below.
There was nothing more to be done till help came. Could Mr. Stanton
hold on, could that cruel gravel bear them both, till that should be?
God, in whom alone they trusted, only knew.

Mrs. Rush sat white and sick upon the bank, the little girls clinging
to her and crying bitterly, but quietly. No sound broke that terrible
stillness, except Uncle Ruthven's voice as he now and then spoke a
few words of hope and encouragement to his wife, till a bird lighted
a little way off, and broke into a joyous song. Maggie could not bear
it: it seemed a mockery of their grief and agony; and, although at
another time she would have been shocked at herself for doing such a
thing, she now chased it away.

"Oh! why don't help come to us?" she sobbed out. "Why don't God send
us help?"

Bessie raised her head from Mrs. Rush's lap, where she had hidden her
face.

"Maybe we did not ask Him quite right," she said. "Aunt May, say a
prayer for Aunt Bessie and for us all."

Mrs. Rush tried to speak, but could not. One ceaseless, agonized
prayer had been going up from her heart; but she could not put it into
words, and only shook her head. Bessie looked at her for a moment, and
then, as if she understood, said,--

"Shall I say it, Aunt May?"

Mrs. Rush nodded assent; and, kneeling at her side, Bessie clasped her
little hands, and looking up to heaven, said,--

"Dear Father in heaven, we are so very troubled, we don't any of us
know quite what to say; but you know what we want, even if we can't
find the words, and our heart-prayers do just as well for you. Please
send dear Aunt Bessie some help very quick. Have pity on her, and make
her know our Father don't forget her. Amen."

It was said with many a gasp and sob of terror and distress; and, when
it was finished, the little one hid her face in Mrs. Rush's lap again.

But she was right. The all-merciful Father had heard their earnest
"heart-prayers," which could not be put into words; and help, such as
they did not look for, was at hand.

None saw the figure bounding down the mountain side with such headlong
speed--now swinging itself down some steep ascent by the branches of a
tree, now springing from rock to rock like a wild goat--till it stood
among them, breathless and eager.

The Colonel had risen to his feet, and, going a few steps up the bank
where the ground was firmer, grasped the trunk of a tree for support,
and looked over the edge at his poor sister. God had been merciful to
her, and now sense and feeling had left her, and she hung unconscious
in her husband's hand. Colonel Rush saw now what he had not known
before,--a narrow ledge of rock, scarce six inches wide, jutted beyond
the slope of gravel, and, on this, his sister's form partly rested.
Well that it was so, or not even her husband's tremendous strength
could have supported the strain so long. The Colonel eyed this ledge
eagerly. It must have been on this that his brother-in-law relied,
when he called for men and ropes. Could some one but reach it, and be
held from above, they might fasten a rope about his sister's waist,
and so she be drawn safely up. Could Ruthven hold on till then?

The Colonel looked around him, for a moment, with a wild thought of
trying to reach it himself; the next he put it away as worse than
folly. There was no rope, nothing to hold him or his sister; and if
there had been, who was there to support and guide it? No one but a
weak woman and two little children. He himself was a tall man, of no
light weight, and with a lame foot: the attempt was sure to bring
destruction upon himself, his sister, and her husband.

As he turned away, with another silent appeal for help, Lem stood
before him.

"I seen it up there," he said, hurriedly, "and thought I'd never git
here. I say, mister,"--to Mr. Stanton,--"if I only had a rope, or a
bit of something to fasten about me, I know I could get down there,
and put it about her, so you could histe her up."

The quick eye of the boy, used to all manner of make-shifts and
hair-breadth escapes, had taken it all in, and saw a way of safety, if
the means were but at hand. He looked around, and spied a light shawl
lying unheeded upon the ground. He snatched it up, tried its strength,
and shook his head.

"'Twon't do," he said, "'taint long enough so; and, if we split it,
'twon't be strong enough."

The children and Mrs. Rush had risen, and were listening; and now a
quick thought darted into Maggie's mind.

"Uncle Horace," she said, springing eagerly forward, and pointing to
the broad plaid ribbon about her sister's waist, "there's my sash and
Bessie's. Wouldn't they be of any use?"

"Thank God! the very thing!" exclaimed the Colonel; and, in an
instant, the broad, stout ribbons were untied from the children's
waists, and strongly knotted together.

"Can you hold the boy, Horace?" asked Mrs. Rush.

"With God's help, and what you can give me, I trust so," he answered.

"You must keep far enough from the edge not to slide over yourselves,
you see," said Lem, coolly, as he and the Colonel drew strongly upon
the knot.

The Colonel measured the ribbon with his eye. Tied around Lena's
waist, it would scarcely give the length they needed, and it was
not safe to fasten it to any of the boy's ragged, worn-out clothes.
He snatched up the shawl, twisted and wound it about Lem's waist,
fastening it securely, then drew the ribbon through it. As he did so,
Bessie cried out,--

"Papa! here's dear papa! That is help."

No one could bring such help as papa, Bessie thought; and there he
came, running down the hill, and stood among them. A few words made
him understand what they were about; and, as Lem was now ready, he,
with the Colonel, took fast hold of the long ribbon.

Slowly and carefully, with the Colonel's cane in his hand, the boy
stepped over the edge,--not just above Mrs. Stanton, but at the spot
where the Colonel had looked over at her,--down, step by step, till
he had disappeared from the sight of all but Mr. Stanton, who, lying
over the edge, watched him, God only knows, with what sickening hope;
the loose soil crumbled and slid beneath him; but, light and sinewy
as he was, his bare feet, trained to all kinds of mountain climbing,
took hold where those of a heavier person, with shoes upon them, must
have faltered and slipped past all recovery. He had reached the ledge,
and now, step by step, slowly neared the lady. Sure-footed as a goat,
steady of head and nerve, reckless of danger, yet with sense enough
to remember the Colonel's charge not to look below him, he reached
her side, freed her clothes from the clinging bushes; then, with a
care and steadiness which Mr. Stanton, spite of his agonizing anxiety,
wondered to see, unrolled the shawl from his own body, and fastened it
about that of the senseless figure beside him; then gave the word to
raise her.

Up, up, steadily, inch by inch, was the precious form drawn, till her
husband's arm could grasp her waist, and she was lifted safe,--but
oh! so white and still,--and laid upon the grassy bank; while Uncle
Ruthven, almost as white, fell exhausted beside her. But he was on his
knees and bending over her, by the time that Mr. Bradford and Colonel
Rush had lowered the ribbon again; and Lem, flushed and triumphant,
was drawn up unhurt. The boy was very proud, and perhaps justly so, of
the feat he had performed, and would have broken out into some loud,
exultant expressions, if Mr. Bradford had not checked him; and then,
before a word was spoken, the gentlemen uncovered their heads, and Mr.
Bradford spoke a few words of earnest, solemn thanksgiving for the
wonderful mercy just shown them. Lem stared, open-mouthed; and the
instant he was allowed to speak, sprang forward to Mr. Stanton,--

"I told you I'd do you a good turn, if I got the way, mister; and I
did, didn't I?"

"By God's mercy, yes," said Mr. Stanton. "May he bless you for this,
my brave boy. I will be a friend to you as long as I live."

Lem immediately turned half a dozen somersets, which, in spite of
their admiration and gratitude, greatly disgusted Maggie and Bessie;
for they did not see how he could have the heart to do such a thing
while dear Aunt Bessie lay there, so white and still. They could
scarcely believe Aunt May's assurance that she was not dead, but had
only fainted, and were still filled with terror and distress.

And now, Uncle Ruthven lifted her in his arms, and they all set out
on the way home; Lem keeping close to Mr. Stanton with his precious
burden, as if he felt that he had some sort of a claim on her. But
when they were about half way home, they met all the men and boys from
the Lake House coming down the road with ropes, and Lem was taken with
a sudden fit of shyness, and, turning about, rushed away without a
word.


[Illustration]



XVI.

_LEM'S SORROW._


IT would be impossible to tell what joy and gratitude filled the
hearts of all at the Lake House that night. It was true, indeed, that
the dear one who had been snatched from such a fearful death was very
ill from the fright and shock, weak and exhausted, and dreadfully
nervous. Her arm, too, was badly hurt with the long-continued strain
upon it, and her sweet face scratched and bruised with the falling
stones and gravel; but the precious life had been spared, by God's
great mercy, and they might hope, that, in a few days, she would be
herself again.

The whole family had been sadly shaken by the terrible accident. Not
only on that night, but for several succeeding ones, Maggie and
Bessie were constantly starting awake with cries of fear, and then
they would sob and tremble so, that it was difficult to quiet them.
Maggie would burst into tears for the merest trifle,--sometimes,
even if she were spoken to suddenly, and then would cry and laugh
by turns; and Bessie was often found in some corner, with her face
hidden, sobbing as if her heart would break. "Just because I could not
help it, mamma," she would say, when asked the reason; and she would
shudder and quiver all over, at the least mention of that dreadful
day. The shock had been too much for the tender young hearts, and it
took them some time to recover from it.

It was necessary to keep the house very still, on account of Aunt
Bessie, who was so very nervous that the least sound disturbed her;
and roguish, noisy Frankie was, by Aunt Patty's earnest request,
allowed to go to her house, where, for a few days, he lorded it over
that humble servant of his to his heart's content. But there was no
need to send the little girls away; they were only too quiet, and
moped about the house in a way that was quite melancholy to see. The
weather was damp and rainy, so they could not be much out of doors;
and, although their friends did all they could to divert them with
stories, reading aloud, and games, they did not seem able to shake
off their sadness. The truth was, they could not forget Aunt Bessie's
face, as they had seen it lying on Uncle Ruthven's shoulder, white and
still; and it scarcely seemed possible to them that she could ever be
well again.

But one day, grandmamma, coming out of Aunt Bessie's room, found the
two little maidens sitting disconsolately on the stairs, looking
wistfully at the door of the sick-room. She stepped back, spoke a few
words to those within, and then, coming to the children, asked them if
they would like to go and see the dear invalid. Bessie sprang eagerly
forward, but Maggie, with the fear of seeing Aunt Bessie look as she
had done on that dreadful day, hung back a little, till Bessie urged
her forward.

They went in with hushed steps, for grandmamma said they must be very
quiet, stay but a moment, and on no account must they speak of the
accident. There lay Aunt Bessie on the pillows. Very white still was
her face; but life and love looked out at them from the dear eyes: it
was Aunt Bessie's own sweet smile which welcomed them, her own gentle
voice which told them how glad she was to see them, her own warm kiss
which met theirs.

"Aunt Bessie!" said her little namesake, and then she nestled her face
on the pillows beside her, and said no more. But there was no need:
there was a whole world of tenderness and joy in those two words, and
Aunt Bessie felt it.

Maggie said nothing, but stood with swimming eyes, and rising color,
gazing at her aunt, till Mrs. Stanton said,--

"Have you not a word for me, dear Maggie?"

Then Maggie gave a wistful kind of a smile, and tried to speak, but
broke down in a half-choked sob.

"Do not be worried about me, dearie," said Aunt Bessie; "I shall be
quite well again in a few days."

Maggie did not answer, except by gently kissing the poor hurt hand,
which lay upon the coverlet; but it was plainly to be seen that she
was a good deal excited; and Uncle Ruthven, fearing one of her sudden
bursts of crying, said the children had stayed long enough, and led
them from the room.

Then Maggie's tears came forth, but they were happy tears, for she and
Bessie were both satisfied about Aunt Bessie now; and she soon wiped
them away, and from this time was her own bright, merry self.

And that afternoon there was a new subject of interest for them, for
the weather cleared up warm and beautiful, and it was thought safe to
bring Dolly to the better quarters provided for her. Mrs. Bradford
and Mrs. Porter went to tell her what was to be done, and then came
John Porter and one of his brothers to carry her over. They lifted her
bed between them, and moved as carefully as possible, but it was a
rough way, with many ups and downs, and spite of all their care Dolly
suffered very much.

As they left the shanty, the sick child raised her head a little, and,
looking towards the side where her flower-pots stood, cried out,--

"Oh! my posy boxes, bring 'em along, Lem."

Lem obeyed, and, taking up the two flower-pots which contained the
scragly, sickly looking plants, trotted along beside Mrs. Bradford
with one on each arm.

"She sets such a heap on the old things," he said to the lady as if in
excuse. "I'm sure I don't know what for; but since she's been better,
she's like crazed about 'em, and would have 'em brought in every day
for her to see. I've watered 'em all along 'cause _he_ told me to."

The _he_ of whom Lem spoke was Mr. Stanton; and whatever he said
and did had become right in the boy's eyes. Lem had improved a good
deal during these three weeks, though the change was by no means
so surprising in him as it was in Dolly. Dolly was trying in her
own simple, ignorant way, to please that Heavenly Friend of whom
she had so lately learned; while Lem, as yet, looked no higher than
man's praise. Still it was much that such a hold had been gained
upon the boy. He looked up to Mr. Stanton with a blind admiration
and desire for his approval, which kept him from much mischief and
wrong-doing. It was very strange, he thought, that this magnificent
gentleman--whose appearance, tremendous strength, and wonderful
adventures, made him a great hero in Lem's eyes--should trouble and
interest himself so much about a poor, ragged boy, for whom every one
had a hard word; and who, Lem knew very well, richly deserved all that
could be said of him. To please Mr. Stanton had now become the aim of
Lem's life, and with this purpose he was learning to give up many
of his old bad ways. Mr. Stanton had even partly succeeded in curing
him of his habit of using bad words every time he spoke. One day when
he was telling the boy a story in which he was much interested, Lem
suddenly broke out with some expression of delight, mingling with it
a dreadful oath. Mr. Stanton immediately ceased his tale; and, when
asked by Lem why he did so, told him that he could not talk to a boy
who dared to take the name of his Maker in vain. Lem was disappointed,
and angry too, but it did him good; and when, the next day, the
gentleman offered to finish the interrupted story, he was very careful
not to offend again. This happened more than once, and each time Lem
became more unwilling to risk not only the loss of his story, but also
the look of grave displeasure on his new friend's face. He also tried
to keep the old place a little tidier, and, when he knew that any of
the family from the Lake House were coming there, would wash his face
and hands; and a comb having been brought by some of the ladies for
Dolly's use, he would draw it a few times through his tangled locks.
On the day before this, Mrs. Bradford had given him an old suit of
Harry's, and he was now dressed in this, which, though too large for
him, was at least clean and whole; and a proud boy was Lem as he
walked by the lady's side.

Lem thought himself rather a hero, and not without reason, for the
share he had had in saving young Mrs. Stanton's life; and was much
inclined to talk of it to any one who would listen to him. He was
still rather shy of the boys; but since the little girls had been so
often to see Dolly, he had been quite friendly with them; and they
were ready enough to allow him all the credit he deserved for the
service he had rendered to their dear Aunt Bessie. Poor boy! praise
and encouragement were so new to him, that it was perhaps no wonder he
craved all that could fall to him.

On that memorable afternoon, he had been sitting on the rock in front
of the hut, watching our friends as they sauntered down the road
below him. He saw them stop, some sitting down to rest, while Mr. and
Mrs. Stanton and the little girls wandered about in search of flowers.

He saw the lady fall, and was off in an instant, dashing over every
thing which lay in his way, with a reckless, headlong speed, that soon
brought him to the spot. Thanks to his wild, rambling life, Lem knew
every foot of the mountain, and, even as he went, thought of what he
might do, quite sure that he could keep his footing on that narrow
ledge, if he could but once reach it. How well he had done, we know;
and Lem knew right well himself, and meant that others should know it
too. Too much puffed up in his own conceit, he certainly was; but we
must remember how ignorant he was, and even this was better than that
he should feel himself the miserable, degraded outcast of a few weeks
since, whose "hand was against every man, and every man's hand against
him."

He had not seen Mr. Stanton since the day of the accident; for, now
that his wife was ill, the gentleman had not the time and attention to
give to him and Dolly that he had before; but he knew that he was not
forgotten, for more than one kind message had been sent to him.

"Think I could get a sight of my gentleman, to-day?" he asked of Mrs.
Bradford.

"Of my brother?" said the lady. "Yes, I think so; he said he would see
you when you came to the Lake House."

"That was a fustrate job I did for him--getting the lady up; now,
warn't it? He said he'd never forget it."

"We shall none of us forget it," said Mrs. Bradford; "but, Lem, when
one has done a great kindness to another person, it is better not to
talk of it too much."

"No, I aint goin' to," said Lem, with a self-satisfied air. "I'll tell
you if it hadn't been for me, the lady would have been gone afore
those fellers got there with the ropes. He couldn't ha' held on much
longer, and like enough they'd both gone down together."

Mrs. Bradford shuddered at the thought.

"Now, what do you s'pose he's goin' to do for me?" continued Lem.
"Somethin' fustrate?"

"I think he is going to try to teach you to do right, and to put you
in the way of earning an honest living, Lem. What would you like him
to do for you?"

"Well," said Lem, "you give me these clothes, and now I'd just as
lieve he'd give me one of his old hats and a red shirt; so I'd be
decent-like; and then I'd like him to get me to be an engine driver on
one of them railroads. If it wasn't for Dolly I'd like to be sent off
on a ship to the place where the tigers and elephants is, so I could
hunt 'em. But then she'd be lonesome after me; and if I was engine
driver, I could come home every spell and see her. And I'm goin' to
fix her a fustrate home, when I get a livin'. But I was thinkin'
what will I do with her meantime. Do you think if _he_ spoke a word
for her, Porters would let her stay round their place? I guess she
wouldn't plague 'em none now; and, when she gets well, she could do
errands and such like for them."

Mrs. Bradford thought this a fitting time to tell Lem what he must
know sooner or later.

"Dolly is going to a better home than any that you or we can give her,
Lem," she said, gently. "She is going to that home which Jesus has
made ready for her,--His own bright, glorious heaven, where she will
never be tired or sick or hungry any more."

Lem stopped short in the path, and turned to the lady.

"She aint, I tell you," he said, fiercely. "You mean she's a goin' to
be an angel,--what she's always talking about nowadays,--and she'll
have to die for that,--_he_ said so,--and she aint agoin' to. She's
better now, I know; for she don't screech out with the pain like she
used to."

"No," said Mrs. Bradford, standing still beside him, as he looked
down the path after Dolly and her bearers, "she does not suffer as she
did; but she is more ill and grows weaker every day. She cannot live
many days, Lem; and she knows that she is going to Jesus, and wanted
that you should be told."

Lem set down the flower-pots, and dug his knuckles into his eyes.

"She shan't neither," he exclaimed. "I'm goin' to ask _him_ to make
her well. He can do it, I know; and, if he will, I won't ask him for
nothin' else along of the good turn I done him, gettin' up the lady."

"My poor boy," said Mrs. Bradford, pityingly, "neither my brother, nor
any other person can do more for Dolly than to make her comfortable
for the few days she will be here. Her life is not in his hands, or
in the doctor's, but in those of God, who sees best to take her to
Himself."

Lem threw himself passionately upon the ground.

"'Taint fair," he sobbed. "She's all I've got, and I always was good
to her, now; ask her if I wasn't. I always gave her half what I got,
and I saved her many a beatin'."

"Yes," said Mrs. Bradford, sitting down beside him, and laying her
hand with a soothing touch upon his arm, "Dolly says you have been a
good brother to her, and the only thing that makes her sorry to go is
the fear that you may miss her."

"Like enough I'll miss her," said Lem, in a sullen kind of sorrow.

"But," said Mrs. Bradford, "you may see her again if you will live so
that Jesus may some day take you to dwell with Him in His glorious
home. Will you not try to do this, Lem?"

"Couldn't no way," replied Lem, sitting upright; "they say only good
folks get to heaven, and don't you know they say I'm the worst boy
here about? They used to say Doll was the worst girl too, and--don't
you tell nobody I said it--she did do a heap of bad things, that's so!
How's she goin' to get to heaven?"

"God says in His Word, 'believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou
shalt be saved.' Dolly does believe on her Saviour, and He will wash
her soul from all its sin and fit it to live with Him. He has given
her but little time to serve Him on earth since she has learned to
love and trust Him; but she is doing all that she can: she is sorry
for past sin, and whatever she thinks Jesus would like her to do, she
tries to do."

"She's gettin' awful good, that's true," said Lem. "She made you take
back old Miss Mapes' handkercher, and made me go and tell Miss Jones
she was sorry for unhookin' her clothes-line and lettin' down the
clothes in the dirt; and, oh! do you think, there's the biggest kind
of a squash down in Todd's cornfield, and I was a goin' to get it for
_him_, and Dol coaxed me not. She said 'twant right; and, when I said
I guessed God had liever he'd have it than Farmer Todd, she said, No:
God gave it to Todd, and so he ought to have it. She was so set about
it, I had to tell her I wouldn't take it."

"Such things show Dolly's true repentance and love to her Saviour,"
said Mrs. Bradford. "If we wish to please Jesus and come to Him, and
are truly sorry for the wrong things we have done, we will try to undo
them so far as we can."

She talked to Lem a little more of Dolly's new hope, and the Saviour's
great love and forgiveness, and then told him they had better go on.

"Wonder what she wants these for, if she's goin' away to leave 'em,"
said Lem, sorrowfully, as he took up his flower-pots.

"Sick people often take such fancies," said Mrs. Bradford; "and when
Dolly has gone you will be glad to think that you have pleased her by
even such a small thing as caring for her plants."

"And I do think they've picked up a bit," said Lem. "See, this one has
two buds on it. I wouldn't wonder if they made flowers."

When Mrs. Bradford and Lem reached the tool-house, or "Dolly's
home," as the children now called it, they found the sick girl laid
comfortably in the neat bed which had been provided for her; while
Mrs. Rush and Mrs. Porter were beside her, feeding her with some nice
beef-tea.

"Good Lem," she cried, when she saw the flower-pots; and then, turning
to Mrs Porter, she asked, "Could you let them stay here?"

"To be sure, child," said Mrs. Porter; and Mrs. Bradford, taking
the flower-pots from Lem, placed them in the little casement window
opposite to Dolly's bed. Dolly looked pleased, but she was too much
worn out to say more; and, when she had taken her tea, turned her face
on her pillow, and fell into the most quiet sleep she had had since
her illness.

[Illustration]


[Illustration]



XVII.

_DOLLY GOES HOME._


DAY after day of the lovely September weather passed by, bringing
change to God's world without and within. The days were warm and
sunny, but the nights were cool; and now and then came the quiet
frost, painting the grand old forest-trees and their clinging vines.
The Virginia creepers--always the first to change--turned a bright
crimson; here and there a maple flung out a scarlet branch, like a
gorgeous banner in the air; while chestnuts and birch showed a few
golden leaves, in beautiful contrast to the vivid green of the foliage
which was yet untouched.

Each day Aunt Bessie improved. She came out among the family once
more, and sat with them in hall, parlor, and piazza, and even took
short drives and walks, though she was still pale, and the poor hurt
arm could not yet be taken from the sling. But, as she said, she had
now a dozen pairs of hands instead of one, for all were anxious to
serve her, and could not do enough for the dear treasure they had so
nearly lost.

But, though strength and health came to her with tender nursing and
the lovely air and sunny days, they did not bring them to the poor
little waif who had been cast upon the care and pity of these kind
friends. She did not suffer much now, except when the cough racked her
poor little wasted frame; but she grew weaker and weaker, and all knew
that the end must soon come. Dolly had long been ailing, far more so
than she imagined. Lem knew no more than herself, and there had been
no one else to care for her. There had been no mother's quickened ear
to mark the warning cough, no mother's loving eye to see the sunken
cheek, no mother's tender hand to guard her child from damp and cold;
and so the trouble had gone on unheeded and unchecked, till the night
spent in the Ice Glen had finished the mischief already at work.

Maggie and Bessie came in to see her very often, bringing her fruit
and flowers, and now and then some other little offering; some dainty
which had been given to themselves and saved for her, a picture or a
toy. For the toys she did not care much; indeed, they were so new to
her that she scarcely understood them, and was too weak to play with
them; but the pictures always interested her, especially one of Christ
blessing little children, which Bessie had brought her. She would lie
for hours with this in her hand, looking at it now and then with a
pleased, happy smile, which said that it told its own story to her.

But as the poor little body grew weaker, her love and trust in her
Saviour grew stronger and brighter. A very simple faith was that of
poor Dolly; but she knew in whom she had trusted,--the Jesus who had
died on the cross to save her soul and fit it for His heaven; and who
had said, "Suffer little children to come unto me." And the "little
one," as she called Bessie, had told her that Jesus meant _all_ little
children; that whoever would, might come to this blessed Saviour, and
he would take them in His arms, and love and care for them. And Dolly
"loved Him because he had first loved" her, and longed to go and live
with Him for ever in that bright world where she had been told He
waited for her.

It was wonderful to see how, without any direct teaching, she caught
the words of the hymns the children sang to her, and how she would fit
them to herself and her own needs.

As for Lem, he watched her with a sort of dumb sorrow which was
touching to see. When he first saw Mr. Stanton, he made a piteous
appeal to him, "to get her well, not to let her die;" and when the
gentleman told him, as Mrs. Bradford had done, that he could do
nothing, and that life and death were in the hands of God, who saw fit
to take Dolly to Himself, he refused to speak or think of any thing
for his own good.

"Lem," said Dolly to him one day, "why don't you be glad I'm going to
Jesus? I'm glad. I asked Him a many times to take me."

"'Cause I can't," said Lem, sullenly. "I thought we was goin' to get
along fustrate if _he_ looked after us; but 'taint no good gettin' to
be engine driver now, if you're goin' away."

"Oh, yes, it is!" said Dolly; "and you'll be good, won't you, Lem, and
not steal no more, and try to come to Jesus too; and I'll ask Him to
help you like He helped me?"

"I don't see as it's much help to make you sick and let you die," said
Lem.

"I don't know," said Dolly. "I guess, maybe it's just the bein' sick
and dyin' is a good help. You know, Lem, if I hadn't a been sick and
the little one found me there, I'd never a heard about Jesus, and
I guess the best help He can give me is to take me right up there.
I asked little one t'other day how she come in that out-of-the-way
place, where I thought nobody never come 'cept for hidin', and she
said the man brought her; but she thought Jesus sent him, so she
could tell me 'bout Him. I guess He did too; I guess He knew I was
lonesome and tired, and would like to be an angel. Don't you think
that was help, Lem; and wasn't He good to let it come to me?"

This had been said with many a pause and very feebly, for Dolly was
too weak to talk much now; and a sudden fit of coughing took away her
breath before Lem could answer.

The dying child had never lost her interest in the poor, sickly
marigolds in her pots. They had for some reason, too, thrived rather
better in their new home, and the two buds Lem had pointed out to
Mrs. Bradford had grown larger, and one of them was now opening
into a ragged, stunted flower. But it was very beautiful in poor
Dolly's eyes, for she had raised and cared for it herself; and no
other blossom could be so lovely for her. But the more she loved and
cherished her own plant, the more bitterly did she grieve over the
destruction of the gardens of the two little girls who had been so
kind and forgiving to her. She knew for what purpose they had taken
so much pains with them, especially with the heliotrope and geranium
which had been so ruthlessly torn to pieces; for Mrs. Porter had told
her, and her sorrow and repentance were very bitter and very sincere.

One Sunday morning, towards the end of September, Maggie and Bessie
went over with their mother to see her. She was lying with her sunken
eyes fixed on the marigolds, which stood on a small table beside the
bed; and, oh, how wan, white, and wasted she looked! Yet there was a
look of perfect peace on the poor face; and, when the children came
in, she turned to them with a bright smile.

"They're coming on nice, aint they?" she said; "don't they look
pretty?"

Maggie and Bessie were rather uncomfortable, for they did not think
the forlorn marigolds pretty, and they did not wish to hurt Dolly's
feelings by saying so; but mamma came to their relief, by saying, as
she could with truth,--

"It has agreed with your pets to be up here, Dolly; they have done
better since you came."

"Yes," said Dolly; and then asked, "Could you give me a nice bit of
white paper and a scissor?"

"Certainly," said Mrs. Bradford, and sent Maggie over to the house for
these things.

When Maggie came back, Dolly wanted to raise herself and take the
things from her, but could not do it. Mrs. Bradford put her arm
under the pillow and lifted her. Then the child tried to fold and
cut the paper; but the trembling fingers had no power, and paper and
scissors fell from them; while Dolly looked about her with a piteous,
disappointed air.

"What is it you want, Dolly?" asked Mrs. Bradford; "cannot we do it
for you?"

"I know," said Lem; "she wants to fix up her posy, like the gardener
fixes 'em up to the big farm." Lem meant the homestead. "She seen him
through the hedge, one day, doin' of it, and she said this mornin' she
wanted hers fixed up that way."

Mrs. Bradford understood at once. Poor, simple Dolly had seen the
gardener shielding his choice blossoms by a circlet of fringed paper;
and she would fain do as much for the stunted little favorite which
was so lovely in her eyes.

"Maggie will cut it for you," said the lady; and, under her mother's
direction, Maggie's deft little fingers soon prepared the paper to
suit Dolly.

But she could not be satisfied without putting it about the flower
with her own hands, while Lem held the pot for her; and it was
touching to see how the poor, wasted fingers fluttered feebly about
the blossom that was to outlive her,--touching it so tenderly, and
folding the fringed paper about it with such care. It was done at
last, and, as Mrs. Bradford laid her back, she looked at her work with
a contented smile; and then, exhausted with the effort, closed her
eyes, and whispered faintly, "Sing."

The little ones sang her favorite hymns, until she slept,--slept the
last sleep which was to know an awakening upon earth,--and then stole
softly out with their mother.

But mamma was back and forth all day,--far more so than usual; and in
the afternoon, when the hour came for Sunday school, the children,
knowing she was there, ran over to give her a kiss before they went to
their class.

"We'll ask Dolly what she wants us to sing," said Maggie; "for you
know she can hear us quite well from our Sunday bower."

The door stood open, for the day was so soft and warm, that, save
for the changing leaves which showed that autumn was at hand,
they might have thought themselves in midsummer. It was a lovely
afternoon,--scarce a breath of air was stirring, and the lake lay
calm and placid, the trees and rocks reflected on its surface with
surprising clearness. A Sabbath hush was in the air; a kind of glory
from the golden sunshine seemed to fall on all around,--on lake and
mountain, woods and rocks, on the lawn and the cosy old house. It
streamed through the lattice of Dolly's little window too, and fell
upon the small head which lay on the pillow. Mrs. Porter would have
shut it out; but Dolly murmured, "No, no," and seemed to like it.

There was even a deeper stillness within the room than without, for
there was an angel waiting there, and those who watched little Dolly
felt his presence.

The children felt the solemn hush; and their little feet paused upon
the threshold of the open door. Mamma and papa were there, Uncle
Ruthven and Mrs. Porter; and poor Lem, crouched at Mr. Stanton's feet,
his hands clasped about his knees, his head bent upon them.

Mamma put out her hand, and beckoned to the children; and, with
careful steps, they came to the bedside.

"Would you like to speak to my little girls, Dolly?" asked Mrs.
Bradford, gently.

Dolly opened her eyes, and fixed them on the children, with a wistful
smile.

"You was good to Doll," she said, in a faint whisper. "Jesus sent you.
He loves you, 'cause you was good--and--I'll be an angel--and tell
Him--you teached me about Him, and--He'll love you more. Good-by."

"Good-by, Dolly," said Bessie, not knowing this was to be the last
good-by, and yet with the tears gathering in her eyes.

"Good-by, Dolly," whispered Maggie; "we are going to our Sunday
school, and you will hear us sing."

"We'll think a good deal about you, and sing all your hymns, shall
we?" asked Bessie.

"Rest for the weary," sighed Dolly.

"My darlings," said mamma, "ask Aunt May to leave the lessons for this
afternoon, and let you sing as long as you can;" and drawing them to
her, she kissed first one, and then the other, with a long, tender
kiss.

Dolly's eyes followed them, as they went out, and then came back to
Mrs. Bradford's face with a longing, wistful look.

"What is it, my child?" asked the lady.

"I guess, if I'd had a mother, she'd kiss me, like that,--don't you?"

"Shall I kiss you, Dolly?" asked Mrs. Bradford, with tearful eyes.

"Could you?" said Dolly, with a brightening look.

Warm from the loving mother's heart came the motherly kiss, which
Dolly had never known before; and with a long, satisfied sigh, she
again closed her eyes.

Then came the sweet voices of the children and their teacher, hymn
after hymn of infant praise floating in, as it seemed, on that soft,
shimmering sunshine, and filling the little room with music. Dolly
lay still, and they could not tell whether she were listening or not.
Presently, she opened her eyes again, started, and murmured,--

"Oh! I don't want to go in the Ice Glen; it's dark and cold,"--then,
more gently, "well, never mind; Jesus will take care of me, I
guess,--yes, Jesus will. He'll let me--be an angel--to praise
Him--day--and--night. He does--care--for me."

Slowly, slowly the words dropped from her lips; then came one or two
fluttering sighs; and a little ransomed soul, thirsting for the water
of life, had flown away, and was safe within the bosom of Him who has
said, "Suffer little children to come unto me." The little, weary,
homesick child had gone home to the love that never fails, to the care
that never tires.

Lem came over to the Lake House, the next day, carrying one of Dolly's
flower-pots on each arm; and, setting them down before Maggie and
Bessie, who were on the piazza with Uncle Ruthven and Aunt Bessie,
drew his sleeve across his eyes, and said,--

"She telled me I was to bring 'em to you, and say, maybe they'd go a
little bit to make up for the sp'ilin' of your gardens, and maybe,
when the flowers was out, they'd do to go to the show. That was what
she was settin' so much by 'em for, when she lay a dyin'."

The tears which had not fallen over the happy little child who had
gone to be an angel, fell fast over the simple tokens of gratitude and
repentance she had left behind her; and faithful was the care bestowed
upon them by our Maggie and Bessie.

Not with any thought of taking them to the flower show, however; it
was only for Dolly's sake: it would never do to display these wretched
little plants beside some of the really beautiful and flourishing
things which their more fortunate brothers and cousins had raised.
Besides, these were not of their own growing, and Maggie and Bessie
had, long since, given up all thought of trying for a prize.

A few days after Dolly's death, Mrs. Bradford took up Maggie's second
volume of "The Complete Family," which she had not looked over for
some time, and there she found written something which touched her
very much. Mingled with many other things, giving an account of their
summer among the mountains, and written in Maggie's own droll,
peculiar way, ran the story of Lem and Dolly, of their persecutions,
and of the difficulty she and Bessie had had in forgiving their many
injuries; but all that was not new to the mother, who now read for the
first time what Maggie had written during the last week. It ran thus,
leaving out Maggie's mistakes:--

     "M. and B. Happy were very thankful to our Father in heaven,
     because he let them be of a mind to forgive Dolly. If they
     had not forgiven her, and made up their resolutions to do a
     kind thing for her, then B. would have run away when she saw
     Dolly, and not waited to speak to her and give the banana,
     and so nobody might have known that Dolly was sick, and she
     might have died without knowing about Jesus, who died for
     her; but she never knew it till Bessie told her. And, oh,
     how dreadful that would have been for M. and B. Happy! but
     God was so good as to spare them of it, and Dolly learned
     about Jesus, and loved Him, and wanted to please Him, only
     she did not have much time; but Jesus does not care about
     that, so long as she believed on Him, and loved Him, and He
     took Dolly away to His own heaven to live with Him. And M.
     and B. Happy were happy about it, even if Dolly was dead,
     because papa and mamma, and all our grown-up, wise people,
     think she is happy with Jesus; and we hope our Father will
     let it be a little jewel to carry to Him, when the angel
     takes us over the river, and the Elder Brother will say we
     did it unto Him, because we did it to His poor little lamb
     that did not know about Him. And now M. and B. Happy do not
     mind so much about the gardens, even though they can't try
     for a prize, and B. says she had rather have Dolly's little
     marigold than the prettiest prize that ever was, but I am
     afraid M. would not; but then, you see, she is not so very
     perfect as B., and besides I don't like the smell of the
     marigolds: I think it's awful. And God let M. have a very
     happy dream. M. knows it is foolish to think much about
     dreams, because they are not a bit of consequence, and
     she hopes any one who reads this will not think she was so
     foolish as to believe any thing about it; but it did make
     her feel a little glad about it, and B. liked it too. The
     dream was this: I was out by the lake with Bessie, but it
     was the night, and oh! there were so very many stars, and
     Dolly's little bed was out by the lake too, and she was in
     it, quite alive. And we heard voices all around, but we
     could not see where they came from; but we knew it was the
     angels, and they were calling to Dolly, and she came out of
     her bed, and tried to go, but she could not, because she had
     no wings. Then such a beautiful thing happened,--the stars
     came down out of the sky, and fixed themselves down to the
     ground where Dolly stood, and she went up, up, up on them,
     just as if they were steps, to heaven. And when she stepped
     over each one, it went right back to its place in the sky;
     but it left a long light behind it, like the shooting star
     we saw the other night; and at the top of the stair of stars
     was a soft, white cloud; and when Dolly came to it, a hand
     came out of the cloud, and took her in, and we knew she was
     quite safe, and would never come back again. But for all
     I was glad M. cried, and dear mamma came and woke her up,
     and asked me why I cried, and kissed me, and I told her I
     was glad Dolly went to heaven, because she had no precious
     mamma to kiss and love her, or to tell her troubles and
     happinesses to. So it was a very happy, grateful thing, all
     about Dolly."

A very happy, grateful thing, the dear mamma thought it too; and very
happy, grateful tears were those which dimmed her eyes as she read her
little daughter's simple story, and then thanked God that the lessons
of love and forgiveness which were given to her little ones fell not
upon stony ground, but took root and bore precious fruit in those
tender young hearts.


[Illustration]



XVIII.

_GOOD-BY TO CHALECOO._


AND now there was much talk of going home, and the time for the flower
show was at hand, and our Maggie and Bessie could not help a little
feeling of sorrow, that they had nothing to show that they had tried
to do as well as the others. They had thought they should not mind it
so very much; but as the time drew near, they found they did; and many
a sigh and sad thought went to the memory of the lost heliotrope and
geranium.

The day came, and the whole party from the Lake House, from grandmamma
down to baby, were to go and spend the day at the homestead, and to
have a grand family dinner after the flower show.

Soon after breakfast, the wagons came to the door, and the happy,
merry party were ready to be packed in. The boys had already taken
their seats in the last one, where the prize flowers and vegetables
had been stored; and the little girls were waiting their time to be
put snugly in between some of the older people, when Bessie suddenly
bethought herself of the marigolds, which had not been attended to
that morning.

"O Maggie!" she said: "we forgot to water Dolly's marigolds. Let's run
and do it before we go."

Away they scampered to the side of the house where they had stood
Dolly's treasures, but came back in a moment, with wondering faces,
crying out,--

"Somebody has moved our marigolds."

"Where are our marigolds?"

"Never mind the marigolds now," said papa, catching up Bessie, and
putting her into the wagon, where, the next moment, she was seated on
Colonel Rush's knee,--"never mind the marigolds; they are safe, and
will keep until you come back again;" and then he whisked Maggie into
the wagon, and she was nestled into a seat beside Uncle Ruthven, with
his arm about her to keep her from falling out.

Away they went, the whole party as merry as crickets,--laughing,
singing, and joking, as they drove down the mountain. They might make
as much noise as they pleased, on this lonely mountain road; there was
no one but the squirrels and the wood-pigeons to be consulted, and
they did not seem to object to the fun. The woods were lovely to-day.
Crimson and gold, scarlet and purple, were gaining fast upon the green
of the past summer; each moment, some one was calling to the others to
look here, and look there, at the brilliant leaves, so wonderful in
the richness and variety of their gay coloring.

When they had come down into the valley, where farms and cottages lay,
and where people were coming and going, papa said they had better
make less noise, or these good, quiet folks would think them a band of
wild Indians coming down from the mountains. But the boys were beside
themselves with fun and frolic, and it seemed impossible for them to
be quiet. They had a flag with them, which they waved and cheered
whenever they passed a house or saw laborers at work in the fields;
and the people seemed to like it, and came running to see the fun, and
waved and cheered in return, as good-naturedly as if they thought it
was all done for their pleasure.

As they passed Aunt Patty's cottage, she drove out of the gate in
her low pony carriage, with Nonesuch before it, on their way to the
homestead. The old lady nodded and smiled, as if she were glad to see
them so happy, but Nonesuch seemed not only surprised, but displeased,
at finding himself in such jolly company; and, after some shaking of
his head and putting back of his ears, stood stock still in the middle
of the road; nor could all Aunt Patty's coaxing or scolding, or even
some gentle touches of the whip, persuade him to go on, till the
whole party were out of sight. Aunt Patty and Nonesuch often had such
differences of opinion, and I am sorry to say the donkey generally had
the better of the old lady.

What a delightful bustle there was when our friends arrived at the
homestead, and the whole family came pouring out to receive them!
For the time, Maggie and Bessie forgot the little sore spot in their
hearts which was caused by the thought that they had no share in that
which brought them all together, until lisping little Katy Bradford,
who was very fond of her young cousins, said,--

"Maggie and Bethie, I'm tho thorry you have no flowerth for the thow."

"Yes," said Bessie, "it's a very mournful thing for us; but we try not
to think too much about it."

"Papa ith going to give very nith prithes," said Katy, taking a very
poor way to console her cousins; but she meant well. "We think he
ith going to give thome one a canary-bird. Thith morning there hath
been a bird thinging--oh, tho thweetly!--in the libr'y where papa hath
the pritheth, and will not let uth go in, and Aleck thaid it wath a
canary."

Maggie gave a little sigh.

"Bessie and I want a canary very much," she said. "There is one in the
nursery at home; but we want one for our own room, and we are going to
ask mamma to let us have it next Christmas."

"I'd jutht like you to have thith one, 'cauthe you're tho good and I
love you," said Katy, and she put up her lips, for a kiss, to first
one little cousin and then the other.

And now Mr. Alexander Bradford said he should like to have papa, and
Uncle Ruthven and the Colonel come with him, and act as judges on the
fruit and flowers.

While the gentlemen were gone, making these last arrangements, the
children had a good play; and in about an hour's time they were all
called in to take part in the great event of the day. The spot chosen
for this was the latticed piazza which served as the children's
summer play-room; and here a long table was set out with the fruit,
vegetables, and flowers, each of which it was hoped by the young
owners might gain a prize.

The place looked very pretty. It was festooned with dahlias,
chrysanthemums, and other bright-colored autumn flowers and leaves;
and, although the display upon the table might not have seemed very
grand to less interested eyes, the children desired nothing better;
and it certainly did them great credit.

"Bessie," whispered Maggie, as they went in, "does it make you feel a
little as if you was homesick for our geranium and heliotrope?"

"Yes," answered Bessie, in the same tone; "it makes the cry come in my
throat, Maggie; but I am not going to let it come out, and I shall try
to find enough of 'joyment in the others' 'joyment."

They kept very close together, these two generous little girls, and
hand in hand walked round the table to look at the pretty sight. Each
article was labelled with its owner's name, and behind such as took a
prize was the reward it was thought to have merited. Not a child but
had some one pretty or useful gift; even the little Persian, who had
not been very successful, but to whom Mr. Alexander Bradford had given
a humming-top and ball, as the reward of his industry and perseverance.

Fred displayed an enormous melon which had been ripe for some days,
and was now rather too mellow and soft, and, having been jolted
somewhat severely on its ride down the mountain, had fallen to
pieces, presenting, as joking Fred said, "a very _melon_choly sight."
But Cousin Alexander had seen the melon in its glory, before it
was taken from the vine; and, in spite of its present distressed
appearance, Fred found a handsome six-bladed knife placed beside the
fragments,--"A blade for each piece, and the handle thrown in," said
pleased Fred; adding, that he thought Cousin Alexander wanted an
excuse for giving presents.

The little girls were standing lost in admiration of a miniature set
of croquet, just the thing for small hands, and which had rewarded
the care bestowed by Katy upon a lovely tea-rose, when Harry called
suddenly from the other side of the room,--

"Hallo! Midget and Queen Bess, how came these old things here?" Then
in a tone of still greater astonishment, "Why, I declare! Oh, what
jolly good fun! Come here, pets, and see this!"

Maggie and Bessie ran round to the other side; and there, to their
great surprise, stood Dolly's two marigolds. Forlorn enough they
certainly looked among the flourishing plants and bright blossoms
which had been the fruit of their cousins' labors; even more forlorn
than they had done when Dolly left them as her dying legacy to the
dear little ones who had been her friends.

The flower which had been in blossom when she died, now hung black
and withered on its feeble stem, kept there only by the fringed paper
which she had put about it with such touching care. The second bud had
half opened into another scragly, stunted flower, about which not even
the most loving eyes could see the slightest beauty, and, in spite of
the care which Maggie and Bessie had given them, the leaves of both
plants were wilted and drooping. But there was more than one heart
at that table for which those feeble, sickly plants had a value far
beyond that of the richest and rarest exotic.

Beside the marigolds stood a bird-cage, and in it, hopping about,
and with his little head perking from side to side, as he watched
the scene so curious and new to him, was a beautiful canary-bird.
He was not singing now, for he did not know what to make of it all,
and was not quite sure whether he were pleased or no; but, as the
children stood looking from him to the marigolds in blank amazement,
he gave a little inquiring "cheep, cheep!" as a first move to a better
acquaintance.

"Oh, the darling birdie!" cried Bessie; "who is he for?"

But Maggie exclaimed with a trembling lip,--

"Fred, Fred! it wasn't fair. You ought not to make fun of poor Dolly's
marigolds, and to hurt our feelings that way."

"I did not do a thing," said Fred, "and knew no more about it than
yourself."

"Nor I," said Harry: "most likely it was papa or some grown-up person;
and certainly no one has meant to make fun of you. Don't you see the
card on the cage, and what is written on it?"

Maggie looked at the card, as her brother moved the cage nearer to her.

"'For our Maggie and Bessie--the dear'--oh! what is it Harry? read it
to me quick."

Harry read it,--

     "For our Maggie and Bessie, the dear little workers in
     the garden of the Lord, who tended the Christian plants
     of patience, kindness, and forbearance, till their lovely
     blossoms overran the evil weeds of malice and ill-will, and
     sowed the seeds of that which brought forth fruit for the
     glory of God."

"I don't understand it," said Maggie. "Does it mean the canary is for
Bessie and me?"

"Of course," said Harry.

"But I am sure we ought not to have any credit about the marigolds,"
said Maggie, still wondering. "If there is any, it is Dolly's or
Lem's."

"And Harry," said Bessie, "the marigolds are pretty ugly. I don't much
think we ought to have a prize, even if we had grown them up."

"Dolly left you the marigolds," said Harry; "so, if they win a prize
you ought surely to have it, and I am glad of it,--that I am. But I
don't quite think it was these poor little scrubs that had that honor."

"But, O Maggie! just to think of that lovely, darling, little birdie
being for us," said Bessie, pleasure beginning to have its way over
surprise; "and we never 'spected a thing 'cause we had no flowers."

"Yes," said Maggie, now in great delight as she began to understand
how it was, "and we would rather have had it than any thing else."

Never was a birdie coaxed with more pretty names than was this one
during the next ten minutes; and he seemed to like them well, for,
after answering with one or two more half-timid "cheeps," he broke
into a soft trill, which soon swelled into a clear, sweet song of joy.

Maggie and Bessie were in ecstasies, and Cousin Alexander certainly
had reason to think his kindness had given all the pleasure he
intended it should.

This was the last day they were to spend at the homestead, and the
children made the most of it. Every nook and corner was visited, and
all kinds of odd traps were dragged to light, and presented by the
young cousins to be kept in memory of the old place, "family relics,"
Maggie called them; and very curious "family relics" some of them
were. Among other things were two or three peacock feathers, a turkey
wing, some pebbles from the brook where papa used to sail his boats
when he was a boy, a piece of rusty tin pipe, which, because it looked
black and smoky, and came from the field where the burnt barn had
stood, they persuaded themselves must be a part of the very leader
down which papa slid when he ran for the ladder to save his little
brother,--all these, and other treasures of like value, were carefully
collected and stowed in the wagons, to be carried to the Lake House,
and thence to the city.

But at last the busy, happy day came to an end, and farewell had to be
said to the dear old homestead and the kind family there.

Birdie did not like his ride up the mountain at all, but chirped in a
very miserable, beseeching manner all the way; and, when he was safely
at the Lake House and hung up out of the reach of Mrs. Porter's old
pussy cat, tucked his head under his wing, and went to sleep at once,
as if he were glad to forget all his troubles.

But he was bright enough the next morning; for he woke the little
girls with his song some time before the hour at which they were
accustomed to rise. Bessie, always a light sleeper, was the first to
be roused by his sweet notes, that soft, half-doubtful little trill
with which he began; but, as it rose into a gush of joyous music,
Maggie, too, stirred, and opened her eyes. She listened a moment, then
turned towards Bessie, who lay with her eyes fixed on the bird with a
dreamy, thoughtful look.

"What are you thinking of, Bessie?" she asked, softly.

"I was thinking," said Bessie, "that it seemed as if our Father was
letting the jewel of forgiveness sparkle a little for us here before
we carried it over the river to Him."

"Yes," said Maggie, "I was thinking something like that last night,
but I did not put it in such nice words; and I am just going to put in
the Complete Family, that B. Happy said it. And perhaps, Bessie, if we
had not taken up the jewel of prayer, and asked our Father for help,
we might never have found the other jewels."

"Or, if He had not helped us very much, we might not have taken them
up, when we did find them," said Bessie. "It was pretty hard work to
take up that first one of giving the banana to Dolly; and, Maggie, do
you know I did such a very naughty thing as 'most to wish He did not
give me the chance I had asked for: but, after that, all the rest were
very easy to take up, and I did not find it at all hard to forgive
Dolly every thing she had done."

"Yes," said Maggie: "I guess that's always the way, and after all, I
did not have to forgive Lem and Dolly near so many times as 'seventy
times seven.' Oh, yes, you darling birdie! do you want to say you know
all about it? Bessie, let's think the canary is a kind of keepsake
from Dolly, 'cause you know it seems as if it came by her, and mamma
says it is of no use to take the marigolds to town, for they will be
quite dead in a few weeks."

"Yes, so we will, Maggie, and that's a very nice idea of you; and
then we might call our birdie 'Marigold,' for memory of the poor
little plants as well as Dolly."

"Oh, yes!" said Maggie; "that's lovely, so we just will."

So from this day the canary was called Marigold, nor was it long
before he knew his name, and would answer with a chirp when it was
called.

In two or three days more, they said good-by to Chalecoo and all its
pleasures. The parting was a hard one on all sides, especially for Mr.
Porter's family, who knew how much they would miss the sweet childish
voices, the merry laughter, and patter of little feet, which had made
the old house so gay and bright through all the long summer.

As for poor Lem, he was in despair. He had begged hard to go with Mr.
Stanton, promising the best of behavior if he were only allowed to do
so; but the gentleman did not think the city was the best place for a
boy like Lem, and thought it wiser to leave him in the care of Mr.
Porter, who promised to keep him for the winter, and give him work if
he would try to do well, and be honest and industrious. In the spring,
if Mr. Porter could give a good account of him, Mr. Stanton meant
to send him out to sea, with some good, careful captain who would
try to do well for the boy. Lem had such a fancy for a roving life,
that this was thought the best thing for him; but just now even this
promised pleasure was lost sight of in his grief at the loss of his
kind friend. His father had never come back; and, from all that could
be learned, it was believed that he had gone to a far-away country,
leaving his poor children to shift for themselves.

All agreed that it was better so. A heavenly Father had cared for
these poor desolate ones, and sent them help in the time of their
greatest need. One had no longer need of earthly care, but was safe
with Jesus in that home which He had bought for her with His precious
blood; and for the other, there was much to be hoped. A strong desire
to please Mr. Stanton, and a fear of doing what would have grieved
Dolly, kept him from much that was wrong; and he could scarcely be
known for the same boy, who a few months since had been a terror to
every small child and harmless animal, and a torment to every farmer
and housekeeper in Chalecoo.

"Good-by! good-by! good-by!" The words, so hard to say, were spoken;
and dear old Mrs. Porter stood upon the piazza steps, wiping her eyes
with her apron, as she watched the wagons going slowly past the lake,
and carrying our friends down the mountain for the last time.

"Well, I hope we may see them all back another summer," she said to
Dolly and Fanny, who stood beside her, feeling almost as mournful; "if
I'd known I'd feel so bad to part with them, I don't know as I could
have made up my mind to take them: but those dear little ones have
just taken the heart right out of me. Well, God bless them, wherever
they may go."

"As He does," said Fanny, "for surely they have brought a blessing
here this summer. Who would have thought such little things could do
a bit of good to those two?" and she looked at Lem, who lay with his
face buried in the grass, trying to hide his tears; "and yet see what
they've been the means of bringing to them."

"Ay, Fanny," said her mother, "little hands may do God's work, if they
but take it up in His strength and with His help."

"Well," said Mr. Porter, when he had taken the homeward-bound party
safely to the place where they were to take the boat down the river,
"I reckon one of the best jobs I ever did was to take you up Chalecoo
mountain for the first time, and one of the worst to bring you down
for the last."

"But you can find _consolement_ to think we are coming back some other
time," said Maggie; "and we thank you very much for letting us have a
nice time this summer, Mr. Porter."

"Yes," said Bessie, "we had a lovely, happy time among the mountains,
even if the sea was not there."

And now as we leave our Maggie and Bessie, are there not some little
friends who will say that they have spent a useful as well as a happy
summer among the mountains?

[Illustration: THE END]


Cambridge: Press of John Wilson and Son.



Transcriber's Notes

Minor punctuation typos have been silently corrected.

Retained both spellings of "Fanny" and "Fannie."

Page 41: Changed "eat" to "ate."
  (Orig: cracked and eat his almond.)

Page 354: Retained original sentence, but Dolly was dead.
  (Orig: "Well, I hope we may see them all back another summer,"
  she said to Dolly and Fanny, who stood beside her,)





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