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Title: Jimmy Boy
Author: May, Sophie
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Sophie May’s Complete Works



    Illustrated               Per volume, 75 cents.


    _Wee Lucy_
    _Jimmie Boy_
    _Kyzie Dunlee._


    _Little Prudy_
    _Little Prudy’s Sister Susie_
    _Little Prudy’s Captain Horace_
    _Little Prudy’s Cousin Grace_
    _Little Prudy’s Story Book._
    _Little Prudy’s Dottie Dimple_


    _Dottie Dimple at Her Grandmother’s_
    _Dotty Dimple Out West._
    _Dotty Dimple at School_
    _Dotty Dimple at Home_
    _Dotty Dimple at Play_
    _Dotty Dimple’s Flyaway._


    _Little Folks Astray_
    _Prudy Keeping House_
    _Aunt Madge’s Story_
    _Little Grandmother_
    _Little Grandfather_
    _Miss Thistledown._


    _Flaxie Frizzle_
    _Doctor Papa_
    _Little Pitchers_
    _Twin Cousins_
    _Flaxie’s Kittyleen_
    _Flaxie’s Growing up_




Six volumes. Illustrated. Per volume, $1.25.

    _The Doctor’s Daughter_
    _Quinnebasset Girls_
    _In Old Quinnebasset_
    _Our Helen_
    _The Asbury Twins_
    _Janet; A Poor Heiress._

    HER FRIEND’S LOVER.    Cloth, $1.00.
    PAULINE WYMAN. Illustrated.    Cloth, $1.25.

    Illustrated Catalogue of Sophie May’s Stories sent by mail postpaid.



[Illustration: “He looked again and beheld his little sister.”

_Page 12._]





    _All Rights Reserved_







    CHAPTER                        PAGE
       I. WASHINGTON-PIE              9
      II. SEVEN PEPPERMINTS          22
     III. FOURTH OF JULY             35
      IV. WAS IT JUDY?               50
       V. MRS. BIDDY CHICK           63
      VI. JIMMY’S BUTTER             77
    VIII. THE MISSING CAKE          100
      IX. THE INDIAN BASKET         113
       X. A GREAT SECRET            129
      XI. A WEE WEDDING             142




THE pepper-tree in the backyard nodded its long, sweeping branches as
if it were inviting the little white burro to come and stand in its

The burro was coming, with Jimmy-boy on his back and the dog Punch at
his heels.

“Selim is always glad to get home,” said John, the coachman, as he
helped Jimmy-boy down, and fastened the burro to the pepper-tree.

“Yes; he likes to switch flies,” said Jimmy, patting Selim on the

Jimmy was a fine, straight boy, with frank brown eyes and a pleasant
smile. People called him “a noble little fellow;” and so he was on the
whole, but he admired himself rather too much. It was hard for him to
own that Jimmy Sanford Dunlee ever did anything wrong. You will see
this for yourself as we go on with our story.

Jimmy-boy and Punch ran along to the garden at the left of the house.
Here was a little pond with a stone wall around it. It had been made
there just to look pretty; and water went into it from a long pipe that
lay under the ground.

Jimmy paused to converse with a horned toad sitting half hidden under a
black calla. There were three or four horned toads near the pond, all
brought there by Jimmy-boy; but this was the youngest, and his especial
pet. Jimmy had more than once saved the gentle creature from being
pounced upon by Judy, the cat.

“I won’t let Judy get you if I can help it, Jacky Horner. But if she
comes, you must hook her with your little horns, Jacky. Now mind what I

Jacky’s black eyes glistened like two round beads. He did not try to
run away or hide; for he had learned that this small boy who fed flies
to him was his friend.

As Jimmy went toward the front veranda, he heard a pleasant child-voice
singing from somewhere up in the air,—

    “My bonnie sweet Jamie is all my joy.”

The voice was wee Lucy’s, and she was singing a Scotch song which had
been taught her by her sister Kyzie. But where was Lucy? Jimmy looked
up to the tower windows, but could see nothing of her.

“Where are you, Lucy?”

“Up here,” she answered.

“Up where?”

“Up in the sky.”

He looked again, and beheld his little sister sitting high on the limb
of a tall cypress-tree. How had she got there? Jimmy was startled; for
it was all of a quarter of a minute before he saw Mr. Henry Sanford,
who had hidden, laughing, behind the tree. The young man had raised
Lucy to her lofty seat, and was now standing guard over her.

“You never knew your little sister had wings, did you, Jimmy-boy?” said

“I’ll have ’em when I go up to heaven,” cried Lucy, “and I’ll fly this
way!” spreading out her little skirts, and waving her arms above her

It was well that Mr. Sanford was there to catch her before she fell.

“There! I wanted to get down awf’ly!” she cried, as she landed on the
grass. “I _fink_ that pie is done.”

“The Washington-pie,” explained Jimmy to Mr. Sanford. “It’s just a
cake with jelly in. I don’t know why folks call it a pie. Vendla is
making it for George Washington; it’s his birthday to-morrow.”

“Aren’t you a little mistaken there, Jimmy? To-morrow will be Fourth of
July, not Washington’s Birthday.”

“Oh, wasn’t he born to-morrow? I thought papa said so,” said Jimmy,
slowly following Lucy, who had gone in search of the pie.

She had already bounded in at the back door, and, finding no one in
the kitchen, had danced along to the pantry. There it was on the shelf
by the window. Not a pie,—a lovely, plump brown cake. Some people were
coming visiting to-morrow, perhaps a good many people, and Washington
with them. That was the reason the cake was so very large, Lucy thought.

Was it cooling properly? The child hopped about, making little
exclamations, and thinking Washington would like his cake, it was so
large and brown, and so slippery smooth.

“Tastes like choc-lid drops, I s’pose. No; like candy-mels. Wish I knew
how it does taste.” She gazed and gazed. “Would mamma care if I should
touch it with my finger,—so,—my littlest finger, just to see ’f it’s
hard? _I_ wouldn’t hurt it any! Why, it’s just as soft!”

Delightful discovery! And, being soft, a scrap of it adhered to that
littlest finger. Only a _tiny_ scrap. And pray, what could Lucy do but
put it in her mouth?

“_’Tis_ like choc-lid drops. No; I don’t know—maybe it’s like
candy-mels. Can’t tell ’thout I have a bigger piece.”

The first hole had been no deeper than the dimple in Lucy’s cheek; the
next hole went farther in. She was ready for the third nibble when her
brother entered the pantry.

“Lucy Lyman Dunlee!” he exclaimed; “that’s a Fourth o’ July
Washington-pie! Made for company! Now you’ll catch it!”

“I wasn’t hurting Wash’ton’s Fourthy July pie; ’course I wasn’t,”
returned the little mischief very innocently.

“I never saw such a girl. You’re as bad as the captain’s monkey,” said
Jimmy severely. But he was not looking at Lucy; he was looking at the
pie. “Go right away and let it alone! I suppose you don’t mean to go,
though. Why, how you _have_ dented it up!” Here Jimmy seized a knife,
and made a neat little dash at the frosting. “There, _that_ doesn’t
leave any mark.”

A large bit was left on the knife, a much larger one than Lucy had been
able to secure. She opened her mouth expectantly; but, strange to say,
the dainty morsel went straight into Jimmy’s own mouth, not hers!

“Hello! that’s good,” said he. “I don’t like frosting after it’s all
dried up.”

“Nor me, either! Give _me_ some!” pleaded the little sister.

“There, take that; I’m only smoothing it off. You were a naughty
girl to touch it in the first place. Maybe when you get as old as I
am you’ll have some sense. You see,” he added, as he went on making
repairs, “I _have_ to smooth it off, or mamma’ll know what you’ve done,
and you’ll get a snipping.”

It was very interesting business “smoothing it off;” it gave the
children so many chances to find out just how the frosting tasted.

But alas! Jimmy’s knife made worse havoc than Lucy’s finger had done.
Though he tried his best, it would leave deep tracks like a wagon-wheel
in the mud. Or you might have fancied a dozen mischievous brownies had
been driving over that beautiful cake pell-mell on their bicycles.

Jimmy, amazed and alarmed, gave it up at last.

“No use,” said he. “For shame, Lucy Dunlee!” and hid the “Fourth
o’ July Washington-pie” behind a pan, there to dry in all its ugly

Vendla descried it that afternoon, and showed it to her mistress.
Vendla was the new girl, a Swede, who had come after Molly was married.

Mrs. Dunlee summoned Jimmy-boy into the pantry, and pointed out to him
something which looked like a huge mud-ball baked in the sun. It was
the ruins of the Washington-pie. Jimmy was deeply mortified, but tried
to defend himself.

“’Twas Lucy began it, mamma. True’s the world, ’twas Lucy! _Boys_ don’t
do such things. She pitched right in and spoiled it, or I wouldn’t ever
’a’ touched it.”

“James!” said his mother sternly.

“I only tried to smooth it off, mamma, so folks wouldn’t know folks had
touched it. If Lucy”—

“So because Lucy had picked off some of the frosting, you must meddle
with it too. And now you throw all the blame on your little sister! How
shabby of you! Isn’t my boy any more manly than this?”

Jimmy hung his head. It was dreadful not to be a manly boy. He scowled
at the cracks in the floor, and thoroughly despised himself.

“I don’t see,” moaned he, laying his hand with a gesture of despair on
his chest, “I don’t see how such mean things get into my”—he paused,
unable to think of the right word—“into my—stomach.”

He meant his _heart_.

“I’m older’n Lucy is, and I’m a boy. She’s only a girl! I think I was
mean, awful mean, mamma!”

It was a great thing for Jimmy to own this.

“Well said, my son! I like that. But you know you are apt to forget.
You forgot twice last week to be manly toward Lucy. Is there any way to
make you remember?”

Jimmy’s hand, which had been pressed upon his heart, dropped suddenly.
He hoped his mother would not think it necessary to punish him very

“If—if you don’t let me eat any of that Fourth o’ July Washington-pie,

“Certainly I shall forbid the pie at any rate, because you meddled with
it. But now for being a coward, and saying, ‘’Twas Lucy;’ what ought we
to do about _that_?”

“O mamma, mamma!” cried Jimmy in alarm, “you wouldn’t take away my
fire-crackers and pin-wheels and things?—you wouldn’t do it, mamma?”

“My precious boy! I couldn’t bear to deprive you of the beautiful
rockets and Roman candles which Mr. Sanford and your papa have given
you for the Fourth! There must be some easier punishment; let us think.”

Jimmy looked relieved.

“Didn’t Aunt Vi give you some money to spend for candy?”

“Yes, mamma; two bits,” (twenty-five cents). “But I want it! Gilly
Irwin is coming in the morning to go to the candy stores with me. O
mamma, please!”

“But, my dear, if I should pass by your faults you would forget them,
and then you wouldn’t improve. I really think you ought to go without
your Fourth of July candy.”


“I shall not take away the money, however. You may simply drop it in
your bank.”

Jimmy twisted his neck and twirled his fingers, but said not a word.

Two people in this world were always right, he thought,—mamma and
papa. Always right, and never changed their minds; so it wasn’t of the
slightest use to tease.

But Fourth of July, and not a speck of candy! Oh, dear!



GILBERT IRWIN appeared at Mr. Dunlee’s next morning, holding in his
hand a tiny lizard-skin purse, containing a dime and a nickel.

“Come, Jimmy,” said he; “let’s go get our candy.”

Before Jimmy could answer, the Chinese vegetable man, Quon Wo, drove up
to the back door, calling out in a high, squealing tone.—

“Platoes, _sleet_ corn, cabbagee, spinny-gee!”

“What’s a spinny-gee? Give us a spinny-gee!” laughed both the boys,
running up to Quon Wo, whom they knew very well.

“Go ’way! Too much, talkee, talkee!” replied the Chinaman, grinning,
and showing nearly all his white teeth. At the same time, being ready
for a frolic, he pelted both the boys with a handful of spinach.

Vendla stood in the doorway with a basket and a pan. She bought
potatoes and celery. These went into her basket, and then she held out
the pan for something else.

Quon Wo knew what she wanted. He had promised her some nice fresh
ducks’ eggs; and there they were, under the seat of the cart in a
pretty tea-chest.

“Duckee! Duckee!” said Quon Wo. “Duckee heap good!” and counted out the
eggs into her pan, twelve of them, and then drove away.

The boys would have run after him, but Jimmy happened to remember why
the ducks’ eggs had been spoken for. John wanted to put them under a
hen, to be hatched into ducklings. And here came John, carrying in his
arms a white hen, squawking angrily.

“Oh, yes, you must, Polly White; yes, you must!” said John. “You’ve
been wanting to for a good while, and now we’re ready for you. Come,
Vendla, bring on your ducks’ eggs.”

Vendla went to the stable with the pan; the little boys, the dog Punch
and his friend Toby, Mrs. Porter’s dog, close at her heels. After the
eggs had been put in a nice nest of straw, John placed Mrs. White over
them, covering her up with a basket.

“Now stay there,” said John, “and see how you like it.”

Polly was very young, and had never sat on any eggs before. She had
thought it would be good fun; but when the basket was put over her, she
felt as if she should fly. It was not pleasant to be shut up in the

“How long will she have to stay?” asked Gilbert.

“Four weeks. ’Twill be easy keeping count; four weeks from Fourth of

The words “Fourth of July” reminded Gilbert that he must buy his candy.

“Come, Jimmy,” said he, shaking his purse up and down. He liked to hear
the coins jingle. “Where’s your purse, Jimmy?”

Jimmy drew out of his pocket a small, very pretty mother-of-pearl
portemonnaie, and sighed as he opened it. It held a nickel and a
one-cent stamp.

“I can’t buy any candy to-day; but you can buy yours all the same.”

“Why can’t you?”

“’Cause I can’t.”

“Oh, ho! been a bad boy?”

“Not much; not very; no!”

Then, as Gilly jingled his money again, Jimmy added rather tartly,—

“Not half so bad as you are, Gilly Irwin!”

“Me? Who said I’s bad?”

“Well, you are; but your mamma doesn’t know it, and that’s why you
don’t be punished.”

Gilly whistled. Perhaps he felt that there was some truth in this.

“Your mamma punishes _you_ more’n you are naughty,” he said.

“Now you stop!” cried Jimmy. “My mamma always finds out things. She
isn’t talking all the time with ladies in the parlor, the way your
mamma is.”

“Pshaw! You think you have the best mamma and best papa and best
everything!” exclaimed Gilly.

“So I have!” said Jimmy confidently.

This was more than even the mild-tempered Gilly could bear.

“_What_ you mean? My papa is a major, and yours isn’t!”

“H’m! My papa doesn’t want to be a major, and that’s why! Some people
_perfers_ to be ministers!” Jimmy’s eyes were growing fiery. “Don’t
you know,” he went on, “ministers are the nicest men there is in this

But Gilly refused to be crushed.

“Has your papa got a coat with gold cushions on the shoulders, Jimmy
Dunlee? Does he go march, marching, when they beat the drum?”

“No; he just despises to go march, marching! He stays in his pulpit, I
s’pose you know!”

The foolish dispute might have gone on much longer if Gilbert had not
changed the subject by saying,—

“I want some cocoanut taffy.”

But Gilly’s “candy-man” was away that morning. He had just started with
his wife and children for a picnic.

Jimmy did not care very much.

“See the folks, lots and lots of ’em, going to Fourth o’ July,” said
he. “You can’t get any candy to-day, Gil Irwin.”

“Yes, I can. I know where I can get some, better’n _you_ ever saw.
There are some new ladies in that yellow house by the corner that sell
it. I went there the other day with mamma, and got some.”

“Let’s go there, then,” said Jimmy.

They turned into a quiet street, and walked three or four blocks, till
they came to a pretty buff cottage half covered with roses.

The “new ladies,”—really quite old ones,—had lately bought it to live
in; and of course it was not a shop, and they kept nothing to sell.
Only, as it happened, they had given Gilly a cake of maple-sugar the
Thursday before, when he called there with his mamma.

“It doesn’t look a bit like a shop,” said Jimmy, as they walked up
to the front door of this quiet house, and Gilly pounded on the
screen-door. There was an electric bell at the side. Jimmy did not
think candy-shops generally had electric bells. It was too late,
however, to turn back.

A sweet old lady came into the hall, looking rather surprised. She
naturally thought that only rude children would pound in this way for
admission; yet these boys did not look rude nor disrespectful.

“How do you do, my dears? Oh, this is Gilbert Irwin, I think. But whom
have you brought with you, Master Gilly?”

“My name is James Sanford Dunlee,” replied Jimmy, bowing low, hat in

“Ah, yes, the minister’s son. I’m glad to see you both. Please walk in.”

Gilbert entered, followed slowly by Jimmy.

“Can you sell us some candy, ma’am?” asked Gilly in a low voice. It was
dawning upon him that he had made some mistake.

“Candy? Did you think I kept it to sell?”

Mrs. Alvord smiled as she asked the question. She was a gentle,
graceful lady, all in black. She had been putting on her bonnet when
the children knocked, and had not finished tying the strings.

“I don’t keep candy to sell. You’ve come to the wrong place, my dears.”

“Oh!” said Jimmy.

“Oh!” echoed Gilly, gazing regretfully at his portemonnaie. He had kept
it all the while in his hand.

“Have you been trying to buy candy?”

“Yes, ma’am,” answered Gilly; “but the candy-men ’most all have gone
off to Fourth o’ July.”

“What a pity!” said Mrs. Alvord. “I wish I had some candy for you.”

“Come, Gilly,” whispered Jimmy, plucking his companion by the sleeve.
“Come, Gilly; let’s go.”

“Wait a minute,” said Mrs. Alvord. “My sister, Mrs. Lewis, keeps
peppermints sometimes in a box on her bureau. Now, if peppermints will
only do?”

She had turned to go up the staircase. Jimmy felt that it was not
polite to give the kind lady all this trouble; but before he could
think exactly what to say, or indeed whether he ought to say anything
at all, she was gone.

She soon returned, bearing in her hand a pretty gilt-edged plate, on
which were several peppermints, pink and white.

“Just fourteen. I’m so glad there were any left!” said she, smiling.
“Mrs. Lewis wishes she had a boxful. Now hold out your hands, little
boys, and I’ll divide. Seven for you, Master Gilly, and seven for you,
Master Jamie.”

Gilbert had opened his lizard-skin wallet by this time, and was
offering Mrs. Alvord first the nickel, and then the dime.

“No; oh, no; keep your money, child! I _give_ you the peppermints.”

And she put half of them in his hand. He dropped purse and coins on the
hall carpet, and for a minute forgot to say “Thank you.”

“And here are yours, Master James.”

But James did not hold out his hand.

“Don’t you like peppermints?”

“Yes, I thank you.”

“Then why not take them? Gilbert has had his share.”

Jimmy dropped his eyes to the black ruffles on the lady’s skirt, then
turned shyly away. Must folks _always_ answer folks’ questions? Yes; he
had been taught that they must. So, in a low voice, but, as I think,
very bravely, he replied,—

“Mamma told me not to buy any candy to-day.”

“He’s been a naughty boy,” struck in Gilbert, who certainly might have
kept quiet.

Mrs. Alvord looked from one boy to the other, her glance resting at
last very kindly on Jimmy.

“But, my dear, you are not _buying_ this candy; it is given you.”

Still Jimmy did not reach forth his hand.

“Ah! you really think you ought not to take it? Then don’t do it by any
means. You are a noble, manly, little boy, James Dunlee.”

Jimmy blushed for pleasure, but could not raise his eyes. Oh, wasn’t it
grand to be called a manly boy!

“You may have been naughty once, but you are good now, and I shall tell
your mamma so. I’m going to your house to dinner.”

Jimmy’s little face was radiant. Mamma would know he was manly after

“And now shall I give the rest of the peppermints to Gilbert?” asked
Mrs. Alvord.

Gilbert took them eagerly, wondering why Jimmy had refused them, and
suspecting that Jimmy did not care much for peppermints.

“That’s the ‘Jimmy-boy’ the blind Mrs. Pope talks so much about. He
is a boy to be proud of,” said Mrs. Alvord, as she finished tying her
bonnet-strings before the glass in her sister’s room.

“Dear little fellow!” returned Mrs. Lewis. “I am so glad I shall see
him to-day.”



ALL this while wee Lucy was growing impatient.

“I fink Jimmy might come back,” said she.

For she had a small tricycle, and he was teaching her to ride.

“When will he come, Vendla?”

Vendla did not know. She thought he might come by ten o’clock.

“Well, what’s _now_ o’clock?”

“It’s half-past nine o’clock now.”

Lucy ran to the back parlor, and climbed a chair that stood by the
mantel. The pretty marble clock was ticking its best; but she thought
it did not tick fast enough. She opened the door of the clock, and
moved the black hands round.

“Now maybe ’twill strike,” she thought; “and then he’ll come.”

It did strike, again and again, and yet again, till the sweet cathedral
chimes filled all the air, and mamma came hurrying down-stairs to see
what had happened.

“Lucy, Lucy,” said she in a tone of displeasure, “have you been
touching the clock?”

“I _had_ to make it strike, mamma, so my Jimmy would come,” replied the
little rogue, scrambling down from the chair. “Are you _in earnest_,
mamma? Oh, I don’t want you to be in earnest with your little girl!”

She looked in her mother’s face anxiously as she spoke; and Mrs. Dunlee
promised to forgive her if she would never meddle with the clock again.

“No, I won’t ever, mamma, ever any more.”

At that very moment Jimmy appeared. Lucy ran up to him, laughing and
crying; laughing because she had brought him home by making time go
faster; crying because mamma was “in earnest” with her little girl.

“I’m all ready, and my dolly’s been all ready for ever ’n’ ever. ’Most
got the friz out of her hair,” said Lucy reproachfully.

The brother and sister had a long ride, each on a little tricycle; and
Punch, who was in attendance, could not have been prouder of his little
master and mistress if they had owned the whole State of California and
part of Mexico.

Jimmy usually reproved Lucy for “doddlin’ round and wiggling so;” but
was very patient to-day, and said, “You do _pretty_ well—for a girl!
Sometimes you do go so awful slow that it tires me all out to keep up
with you. Now see _me_!”

And away he spun alone on his little wheel, his sister gazing after
him in wonder, admiration, and despair.

They had both planned to give the baby a “Fourthy July” ride in his own
private carriage, to the tune of,—

    “Yankee Doodle came to town
       On a Kentish pony;
     Stuck a feather in his hat,
       And called it Maccaroni.”

But objections were made to this. Eddy was young and tender, and could
not stand the jolting.

“H’m! _boys_ can stand ’most anything,” said Jimmy. “You’d think he was
a girl, to hear ’em talk!”

“Glad he isn’t,” returned Lucy, patting baby’s cheek. “I want him for
a little brother. What do I want of a little sister? _I’m_ a little
sister _myse’f_!”

It was time now for dinner. There were two guests in the parlor, Mrs.
Alvord and Mrs. Lewis. As Mrs. Alvord took Jimmy-boy’s hand, she said,—

“May I kiss you on your cheek, Master James? You don’t know how I
wanted to kiss you this morning!”

Jimmy offered both cheeks with a blush and a smile. He was proud and
happy to be admired by this sweet lady; and he was sure, too, that she
had told, or was going to tell, his mamma all about his call at “the
yellow house by the corner” with Gilly Irwin.

“I am glad to know you too, Master Jimmy-boy,” said Mrs. Lewis, a tall
lady with tiny white curls about her face. “Mrs. Alvord and I love
little children; but we have none at our house, and your mamma has
five. I’m going to ask her if she can’t spare _us_ one,—you or Lucy or
the baby. Which do you think she would give away?”

Jimmy knew very well by the twinkle in the lady’s eye that this was
only said in sport. He reflected a moment, then replied,—

“It’s polite to give away the largest pieces and things; so I think
mamma ought to give _me_!”

Both the ladies laughed, and thought this a bright answer. Jimmy felt
rather proud of it himself, and looked around to see if mamma had heard
it. But Mrs. Dunlee was not in the parlor.

She had stolen into her husband’s study just for a moment, to tell him
Mrs. Alvord’s story of Jimmy-boy.

“A small thing, to be sure,” said she; “he only gave up seven

“_Not_ a small thing, my love,” returned Mr. Dunlee. “It shows that the
boy has _character_. I am as happy about it as you.”

Jimmy thought it a remarkably pleasant dinner-party. There was
maccaroni soup, which reminded Lucy at once of the singular sort of
feather which “that Yankee Doodle boy” had stuck in his cap.

“This is Yankee Doodle soup!” said she in a loud whisper to her
brother, who nearly choked from trying not to laugh.

Sister Kyzie scowled darkly. When would Lucy learn not to whisper at
table? How often must she be told to move her spoon away from, and not
towards, herself in taking soup?

When the dessert came on, strange to say, it was that same
“Fourth-of-July-Washington-pie,” no longer brown and ragged, but
shining as white as the far-off mountains at Christmastide. What had
Vendla done to it? And why did mamma smile every moment? Was she
thinking how much fairer the great cake looked now in this creamy
covering? Jimmy knew she was not thinking of the cake!

After dinner he entertained Aunt Vi and Mr. Sanford on the veranda by
firing off a round of crackers.

“Jimmy, Jimmy!” pleaded his aunt at last. “If you’ll only be quiet a
moment, I’d like to show you something.”

She opened an old book, and he and Lucy drew near to look at the
picture of a man in a military coat and cocked hat.

“I know who that is!” exclaimed Jimmy; “that’s George Washington!”

“Right,” said Mr. Sanford; “the very man you said Vendla made the pie
for. And who was he? What did he do?”

“What did he do?” repeated Jimmy. “Why, I know that just as easy!”

Then, after a long pause,—

“Well, anyway he had a hatchet. No, no,” seeing an amused look on Mr.
Sanford’s face; “’twas when he was little that he had the hatchet! But
afterwards he was—was he the president?”

“Yes; our first president.”

Then Mr. Sanford told as simply as possible what the good man did for
us more than a hundred years ago to make us a free nation.

Jimmy listened carefully, and understood a little of it. He was glad to
learn that we are free.

“I like to be free,” said he, swinging his arms and throwing out his
chest. “I like to have a president ruling over me! Not a queen, you
know, away off in England! That would be awful! Why, we should have
to sail to England in a ship every time we wanted to ask the queen a

“But here is little Lucy,” said Mr. Sanford, “who looks as if she cares
very little about kings and queens. Perhaps she would like to hear the
story of the hatchet.”

Then he took her on his knee, and told her how the little George
Washington long, long ago had the present of a hatchet, and enjoyed
swinging it so well that he cut down a small cherry-tree before he
stopped to think.

Lucy was very indignant. She loved trees, and often stood and gazed up
at them with awe and delight. She was always angry when she saw a man
cut off the tops of eucalyptus trees, even though she knew it was done
to make the trees grow broader and handsomer.

“Georgie was a naughty boy,” she said. “I don’t like Georgie!”

“But,” said Mr. Sanford, “I told you how sorry he was. Don’t you think
children should be forgiven when they are sorry?”

“I do,” returned Jimmy; “’specially when they ‘_can’t tell a lie_!’”

Still Lucy was pitiless.

“They won’t have any more cherries at that boy’s house—_ever_!”

And slipping down from Mr. Sanford’s knee she strode into the house
without looking back.

Mr. Sanford was sorry he had told her the story.

“She doesn’t care much if George Washington _couldn’t_ tell a lie,”
said Jimmy. “All she cares about is the cherries.”

“Perhaps she thinks,” remarked Aunt Vi,—

    “‘If all the trees were cherry-trees,
       And every little boy
     Should have, like young George Washington,
       A hatchet for his toy,
     And use it in a way unwise,
     What should we do for cherry-pies?’”

After tea the whole family, with the guests, Mrs. Alvord and Mrs.
Lewis, met on the veranda to watch the glorious sunset.

“In a few minutes we shall see the fireworks shooting up from the
city,” said Mr. Sanford; “and then we’ll light up our own fireworks,
Jimmy-boy, in honor of this free country.”

So saying, he made a deep bow to the American flags that hung in
clusters all about the veranda.

Jimmy’s eyes shone. He had lived in this free country for five years
and a half, and had never known till to-day that it was free! He
thought of a bird let out of a cage, of a poor wild gopher let out of a
trap. What a splendid thing it is to fly or run, just as one chooses!

He looked at his treasures of fireworks lying beside him on the floor,
and smiled. Ever so many boys were coming to see him send up these
beautiful flaming pictures into the air. He should tell the boys,—maybe
they didn’t know,—he should tell them he did it because this country is

Wee Lucy sat on a stool with a book in her hand. She cared very little
about freedom or fireworks or “Fourthy July.” She was scowling at a
picture in the twilight.

“That’s Georgie; that’s the hatchet-man!” said she wrathfully, and
would have picked out both his eyes with a pin if Aunt Vi had not
stopped her.

“Well, he’s awful! Bad man! Bad man! Is he alive, Auntie?”

“No, dear; the good Washington died long, long ago.”

Lucy clapped her hands in glee.

“Oh, I’m so glad, so glad!”

“What! Glad the good Washington is dead?”

“Yes; ’cause now he can’t come here. I was afraid he’d come to my house
with his hatchet, and cut down some o’ my trees!”

She seemed so relieved that they all laughed; how could they help it?
But no one undertook to correct her opinion of the “father of his

“No use talking to her, she’s such a little goose,” thought Jimmy-boy.
“Wait till she’s as old as I am, and she’ll know all about it.”

But now the sun had fairly dropped behind the wrinkled mountains; the
city fireworks had begun to play, and Jimmy’s fingers were tingling to
be at work on his rockets.

What a grand affair! How the neighbors, large and small, were flocking
to that veranda, and with them half the dogs in town! Which rose higher
and jollier, the human or the canine voices, it would have been hard to

But there were silent guests too. Three horned toads sat near by,
fastened by strings to three stakes. Jimmy had tied them before tea, to
make sure they would have a good time “seeing the sights.” They did see
the sights, and their beady eyes blinked in the light; but if they had
a good time they kept it all to themselves.

Whiz! Fizz! Up soared Jimmy’s fireworks, the finest ever had in town.
First pin-wheels. But that was nothing; after that began the real
business, the grand display.

Each firework was a picture all by itself; and such shouting and
clapping you never heard. But last and best of all was a picture, in
gold and silver fire, of a large, grand man in a soldier’s uniform and
cocked hat.

“’Rah! ’Rah! George Washington!” shouted Jimmy. “Take off your hats!
He’s the father of his country.”

Then every hat came off, and every handkerchief was waved, till the
noble figure of Washington faded into a shower of gold-dust, and made a
path of glory along the evening sky.



FOR a week or two after Polly White had begun to sit on the ducks’
eggs, Lucy asked every day,—

“Where’s my little duckies?”

And then she forgot all about them.

But Polly White was still sitting. It takes only three weeks to hatch
chickens; but it takes four weeks to hatch ducklings, and poor Polly
did not understand it, and was growing very tired. To keep up her
spirits John and Vendla gave her all sorts of nice things to eat.

At last one day the ducklings began to peck out of the shell. And when
they fairly came out how funny they looked! Very large and yellow,
with round bills and yellow, flat feet; and when they tried to walk
they waddled.

Polly looked surprised. Were they all lame? Had they all sprained their
ankles? She had never seen any ducklings before; but she clucked just
as proudly for all that.

“See my children! Aren’t they beauties? That’s a new style of walking.
Isn’t it sweet?”

Kyzie and Edith and Jimmy and Lucy came out to see the funny brood.
Vendla set a pan of corn-meal dough near the back door. Polly was very
hungry; but she would not touch one mouthful till she had called her
little ones to breakfast. There were nine of them, and they dipped in
their round bills like spoons.

“That’s a new style of eating,” clucked Polly. “Don’t you admire it?”

“Do you suppose Polly White thinks those creatures are chickens?” asked

“Yes,” said John, who was looking on; “of course she does, and very
cute chickens too. You see, they belong to her.”

After their breakfast they rolled up their eyes, and John said,—

“Now guess what they’re thinking about.”

No one could guess, and John had to answer his own question.

“They’re thinking they want to swim.”

“Do you believe it?” said Kyzie. “What do they know about swimming?
They never saw any water.”

There was a monstrous clay jar on the back veranda in which water was
always kept cooling; it was called an _olla_ (pronounced _oya_.) But
the ducklings could not have peeped into that. Kyzie was right when she
said “they never saw any water.”

Still these yellow fuzz-balls had made up their minds that there was
water somewhere in the world, and they meant to waddle, waddle, till
they found it. Nobody had ever told them there was a pond in the
garden; but they ran that way as fast as their web-feet could carry
them. Their stepmother, Mrs. White, ran after, anxious to stop them;
but the moment they saw the water they tried to go in. They could not
climb up the wall. John took them in his hands, one by one, and dropped
them into the pond.

Then they were happy. This was the very thing they had been dreaming
about as they lay asleep in their egg-shell cribs!

But poor Polly! How frightened she was! How she flapped her wings and
squawked! She thought her children had gone crazy; she was sure they
would drown.

No, not they! They struck out their little feet like paddles, held up
their heads, and rowed that pond as if they were giving lessons in
swimming. The children all clapped their hands at the gay sight, and
Jimmy cried,—

“Cheer, boys, cheer!”

After a little, Mrs. Polly grew calmer, and began to chuck again,—

“Those are my chickens; they’re all in the swim! See their new style of

Still she did not feel quite easy.

Just then Quon Wo, the Chinaman, drove along, calling out, “_Sleet_
corn, cabbagee, spinney-gee.”

When he found what was going on, he shook his head till his long black
cue danced over his shoulders.

“No so!” he cried. “No _so_! Lil duckee no slim-ee!” (Little ducks
mustn’t swim.)

“Why not?” said John. “See how easy they go.”

But Quon Wo still shook his cue. He thought they ought not to swim yet
without a mother-duck who would know how to oil their feathers for
them. The stepmother hen could not do this. “Wait till they are a
month old before they swim,” was the advice of Quon Wo.

“Well, if you’re going to be so fussy about it, Quon Wo, I’ll take ’em
out,” said John.

And he did. So the fun was all spoiled; at least for this time.

John, Vendla, and the children went into the house. Vendla put on her
sweeping-cap, and began to sweep the chambers, while Jimmy and Lucy
strayed off to the kitchen.

On the long table against the kitchen wall stood an elegant china
fruit-dish which Vendla had brought out from the parlor to wash.

“Pretty dish,” said Lucy, fingering the edges lovingly.

“Let that alone, or you’ll break it,” said Jimmy, in the tone of
command he often used when speaking to his little sister.

Lucy did not obey at once.

“You’re the naughtiest child, Lucy Lyman Dunlee! You’ll go and break
that, and then they’ll go and blame _me_! I _always_ get punished for

Jimmy pitied himself as he heard his own words.

“Yes, Lucy Lyman Dunlee, you’re the awfulest acting-est child!

“If you don’t stop picking cake, and spoiling things, and breaking
things, I’ll—I’ll—why, they’ll think it’s _me_! and I’ll grow up to be

Lucy sprang away from the table in alarm. What it was to “grow up to be
despised” she had no idea. Something bad, if it made Jimmy look like

“There comes Judy! What has she got in her mouth?” cried Jimmy,
forgetting his fear of being “despised.” “It can’t be one of Polly’s

With that, he and Lucy began to chase the cat about the room. Judy
thought it hardly fair to have two children after her at once, and
jumped into a chair, and from the chair to the table.

[Illustration: “Who did that?” cried Jimmy.

_Page 57._]

“She’s smelling the china dish with her nose. Come down; come down!”
said Lucy.

Judy did not come, but continued to sniff at the dish.

“Stop that!” said Jimmy. “Come down, or I’ll pull you down!”

In a frolicsome mood he caught her by the tail, not roughly or
unkindly. He had been taught gentleness to animals; but somehow in
dragging her backward the fruit-dish got in the way. Perhaps Judy’s paw
touched it, perhaps Jimmy’s elbow. Yes, it was probably Jimmy’s elbow.
At any rate, the dish was overturned; and as it fell to the floor it
broke in half a dozen pieces.

“Who did that?” cried Jimmy in dismay. He had not been aware of
touching the dish. It was certainly an accident; still he was old
enough to know that he was to blame for the accident. He should not
have played with the cat while her nose was in the fruit-dish.

Yet he was the good boy who had just been scolding his little sister
for nothing at all! The good boy who never did wrong!

“Oh, that beau’-ful dish!” sighed Lucy. “Poor mamma’ll feel _so_ bad!”

“Well, ’twas the cat did it,” said Jimmy quickly.

His forehead was full of wrinkles; his eyes were full of tears. Lucy
always made ready to cry when he cried, and now she turned up the
corner of her apron; and for half a minute the room was so still that
you could almost have heard a fly walking on the roller-towel.

Jimmy stood on one foot and thought: “I’ll go tell mamma I didn’t mean
to. No; I’ll tell her Judy did it. Judy did, I _think_.”

The fly on the towel gazed at Jimmy; Jimmy gazed at the fly.

“Mamma’s pretty dish,” said Lucy, breaking the silence. Jimmy was not
crying, so she dropped the corner of her apron.

“Judy broke it,” declared Jimmy again.

“Yes,” assented the little sister; “Judy broked it.”

“Well—go tell mamma so. I hear her in the parlor.”

Lucy turned to go.

“No, don’t; I don’t want you to. Needn’t tell mamma anything.”

“No; needn’t tell her anyfing,” said Lucy, whirling about, and looking
at her brother.

She and the little fly both looked at him. Lucy did not know any more
than the fly what was going on in Jimmy’s mind. Neither of them dreamed
it was a battle between right and wrong.

“If I run out to the garden, won’t that be the best way? Then Vendla’ll
come in, and she’ll think the cat broke it. I’ll shut the cat in here
all alone,” thought this little soldier, who was fighting a battle
between right and wrong. “It will not be same as a lie,—I _think_ not.”

Jimmy moved towards the back door, and there he stood quite still.

Why did Lucy stare at him so, as if she were watching to see him make
up his mind?

“Lucy Lyman Dunlee, what makes you look so awful sober? Just as if
papa was dead, and mamma had been hooked by a cow? Why don’t you go
out-doors and see—see where Polly White is?”

Lucy was gone in a twinkling, glad to get away from Jimmy, who was
scowling now “as fierce as ten furies.”

He looked at the door, then at the cat. “Wish I was little like Lucy;
_then_ it wouldn’t be wrong. No matter what you do when you’re little
like Lucy.”

Jimmy sighed.

“Babies like her! _They_ don’t have to be gentlemen. But when you’re a
boy, and getting so big—

“Did George Washington ever shut up a cat? George Washington wouldn’t
do it. ‘_I can’t tell a lie_,’ says George Washington. No, _sir_!”

This seemed to settle the question for Jimmy. The ‘_No, sir!_’ sounded
as loud as a cannon-ball, though even the cat did not hear. The words
were spoken only in Jimmy’s heart.

“No, sir,” said he again, and ran for the parlor as if a mountain-lion
were chasing him. He dared not walk, lest he might not go at all.

How he hated to go! That fruit-dish was a new one only last Christmas.
Mamma would almost cry to know it was broken.

He ran every step of the way. Mamma almost cried, it is true; but it
was just for joy!

“My blessed, blessed Jimmy-boy! I can forgive you for carelessness;
but, oh, if you _had_ shut Judy into the kitchen, and deceived your

“But I didn’t do it, mamma!”

“No, no, no; God kept you from that meanness, the good God.”

“Mamma, your beautiful fruit-dish is broken!” exclaimed Edy, bursting
into the parlor. “Isn’t it too bad?”

“Never mind, daughter; I’m too happy to care for such trifles,”
returned Mrs. Dunlee, with a sunny glance at Jimmy that warmed him to
the very depths of his heart.



WHEN Quon Wo decided that the ducklings were old enough, they were
allowed to swim. But Polly never let them go to the pond alone. She
went with them, and stood on dry land, watching their graceful motions.
She seemed to feel ashamed not to swim herself; but she knew there was
something the matter with her feet, so she never tried to learn.

“I don’t want Judy to catch any of those ducklings,” said Jimmy;
“Judy’s horrid sometimes.”

“Will Punch catch any, do you think?” asked Mr. Sanford.

“Punch!” cried Jimmy indignantly. “Punch isn’t horrid; he’s good.”

“He’s a nice shepherd dog,” said Mr. Sanford, patting the animal’s
head. “But he’s young yet. Let me see, how long have you had Punch?”

“Don’t you remember, Mr. Sanford? I should think you’d remember. ’Twas
that time I had the toothache, and Aunt Vi made some walnut creams. It
ached and ached. Mamma said I must go to the dentist. I didn’t like to;
I was afraid. But Aunt Vi said, ‘Now you go with me, Jimmy, and I’ll
write and tell Mr. Sanford.’ ’Twas when you were gone. Where were you
gone, Mr. Sanford?”

“I was at Los Angeles.”

“Well, so I went to the dentist with Auntie. She said I was brave. Boys
don’t cry, you know; not much. The thing the dentist pulled with was
as sharp as the head of a pin,—no, the _point_ of a pin. But when the
tooth came out it never ached any more after that.

“And then Aunt Vi wrote to you; don’t you know? And you said you’d send
me a present in a bag, and it would come that day to the post-office,
and we must go right off and get it. I never guessed what it was;
nobody could guess.

“How I laughed! how papa laughed! It was a great, strong bag. There,
turn your head round, Punch! He had a blue ribbon round his neck then.
Who would have thought he came in that bag? But he did. Didn’t you,

“He wasn’t half as big then as he is now. He never died at all. No,
Punch, you breathed all the time just the same. And when we took you
out of the bag you were as alive as could be, and wanted some bread and

Punch wagged his tail at this story as if he remembered it all.

“That was last March, if I’m not mistaken,” said Mr. Sanford. “And
Punch was then six months old. That would make him a year old now.

“Well, he’s not very handsome, but he is a knowing dog. I think you did
a good thing when you had that tooth out, Jimmy.”

Jimmy’s head rose a little higher.

“Well, and I told mamma I was willing to go to the dentist again, for
it didn’t hurt much. But mamma said I needn’t go again; ’twas no use to
pull out my teeth when they didn’t ache. And, besides, I don’t want any
more dogs, you know. What do I want of more dogs when I have Punch?

“Punch, come here! When you lick my hand so, and tickle me, I have
to laugh. But he doesn’t look as if he came in a bag, does he, Mr.

Punch pricked up his ears, and began to bark. His big friend Toby
across the way, Mrs. Porter’s dog, was barking, and little Punch never
let Toby make more noise than he did if he could help it. Toby had
espied a wagon coming up the hill. Very soon Punch saw it too through
the trees, and then he knew what he had been barking about.

Dear, merry Mrs. Chick was in the wagon. She had come to town to buy
her a dress, she said. And where was her little Lucy?

Lucy soon appeared on her tricycle, to the great delight of Mrs. Chick.

“I like to see the ducklings swim,” she said; “but it isn’t half so
pretty a sight as my little girl dancing along on that fizzy-me-jig
wheel with all sails flying.”

Mrs. Chick wanted to take two of the children home with her to stay all
night, and Edith and Jimmy were only too glad to be allowed to go.

“This time I may churn butter, mayn’t I, Mrs. Chick?” said Jimmy. “You
always said I might churn butter some time in that pretty green churn.”

“So you shall, if you get up early enough, my boy; so you shall,” said
the good-natured woman cheerily. “The cream will be all ready in the
morning by five o’clock. Do you like to get up at five o’clock?”

“I don’t know. Maybe I do, if you’ll call me, Mrs. Chick.”

Mrs. Chick lived several miles away, on a ranch or farm. If her ranch
had been all paid for she would have been a rich woman. She had
lemon-trees, and a little lemon-house to dry the lemons in; she had
orange and fig and olive trees, and so many different kinds of roses
that she couldn’t remember all their names to save her life. The
palm-trees had trunks that looked like enormous pine-apples. One queer
tree with rough bark was called a “monkey-tree.” Mrs. Chick said she
didn’t know why, unless it was because a monkey couldn’t climb it!

“No,” said Edy; “the needles and thorns on it would prick and scratch
him awfully. I’d like to see the captain’s monkey try to climb it. How
he would cry!”

The young Dunlees never failed to have a good time at Mrs. Chick’s. She
lived alone, and had a funny way of talking to herself, and asking,—

“Do you hear what I say, Biddy Chick?”

Her first name was Bridget.

Then, too, she kept numerous pet animals, which she caressed and talked
to almost like children. Somebody had just given her three bits of
motherless tortoise-shell kittens; and it was interesting to see her
feed them. She had a bottle of milk with a quill in it; and, taking one
kitty on her lap at a time, she said, “Now, my pretty baby,” and put
the quill in its mouth. When the “pretty baby” had sucked all the milk
that it ought to have, she put it down and took up another baby.

The beautiful little creatures were just beginning to see; and what
they thought of their large, fat mother and the bottle with a quill in
it I cannot say. But they always ate heartily, and afterwards rolled
themselves up in little balls close together on a cushion, and went to
sleep in the sun, looking perfectly happy.

There was another pet, a playful young kid with a brass collar on
his neck, who trotted about on his little black feet, following his
mistress everywhere, even into the parlor. He, too, had been brought up
on a bottle, and his name was Trot.

Mrs. Chick had two cows, a horse, and many hens and turkeys. She
sometimes took the turkeys with her when she went visiting. Then there
was a two years’ old baby over the way, who was always dancing in
and out, and making a good deal of trouble; so Mrs. Chick was seldom

The children kept thinking what a lovely time they were having; but
after tea they both felt tired, and at seven o’clock Mrs. Chick sent
Jimmy to bed. The chamber was unfinished, and had no paper or plaster,
and in some places the ceiling was so low that even little Jimmy could
hardly stand upright. There was a live-oak tree close to the window,
and he had seen a bird’s nest in the branches of the tree.

“I’ll hear the birds singing before I wake up,” thought Jimmy drowsily.
“And I’ll go straight to sleep, for I’m going to churn that butter in
the morning.”

But Jimmy did not go straight to sleep, nor did he waken early; and I
will tell you why.

After he had gone up-stairs Mrs. Chick lighted a lamp and sat down in
the kitchen to mend stockings, while Edith sat near her, looking over a
picture-book. Presently Mrs. Chick said,—

“Dear me! I forgot to bring down that maple-sirup. I meant to have it
for the waffles in the morning. But no matter now; I won’t stop to go
after it.”

“Is it up-stairs?” asked Edith, who thought that it would be quite too
bad to eat waffles without sirup.

“Yes; up-stairs in the closet in the northeast room. I keep it there
because it’s a cool place. I used to keep it in the pantry, but
the Morse baby always found out where to look for it. She climbs

“I think that Morse baby is more trouble than the kid,” said Edith.
“But can’t I go up and get the sirup, Mrs. Chick? I’d like to so much.”

Mrs. Chick considered. She was tired, and did not wish to go herself;
but could Edy be trusted with a lamp?

“Just hand down that candle from the mantel-piece, Edy. There,” said
she, after lighting it, “that’s safe enough! The pitcher is right on
the closet floor, under the lowest shelf, behind a box. Will you be
very sure not to carry the candle into the closet?”

“Oh, no, indeed! Oh, _yes_, indeed, I mean! And I’ll be, oh, so

“Well, if you’ll remember to set the candle down by the chamber door, I
think there’ll be no danger.”

“Yes, Mrs. Chick, I will,” said Edith, and danced away joyfully. It was
almost an unheard-of thing for her to be trusted with a light, and she
enjoyed it. She held the candle aloft, and peered rather cautiously
about the unfinished room next door to Jimmy’s. The whole house was so
queer, she thought, and Mrs. Chick put things in such droll places.

“If mamma knew I had this candle she’d be nervous. She talks to me
about lamps and things as if I was a baby; but I guess she’ll find out
I know as much as Kyzie. Kyzie singed her hair once. Father thinks I
can’t take care. I mind all that’s said to me; I mind beautifully.

“Now, I wouldn’t forget what Mrs. Chick told me about this candle, not
for anything! She told me to set it down by the closet door!”

Ah, Edith, a mistake already! She told you the chamber door!

“I remember a great deal better than Gertie Mercer. She can’t remember
eight times nine to save her life. Let’s see, the pitcher’s on the
closet floor behind a box.”

She opened the closet door, the candle still in her hand. What a
delicious odor of apricots and peaches! Did Mrs. Chick keep her fruit
here too? Such a funny woman!

Edith set her candle down by the closet door, and knelt just in front
of it, the bottom of the candlestick almost touching the skirt of her
frock! But as she peered into the closet she forgot there was anything
in the world but a sirup pitcher and some apricots and peaches. That
candlestick with the candle in it was as far away from her thoughts, to
say the least, as the moon in the sky.

But the candle did not forget. It is the duty of a lighted candle
to set fire to anything that is put in its way; and presently, when
Edith by a quick movement thrust her skirt right into the flame of the
candle, what could you expect but a blaze?

Before Edith could explore the closet floor and take out the sirup
pitcher, the blaze was creeping up the back of her frock. She knew
nothing about it till the smell of burning woollen reached her
nostrils; and at the same instant she felt a dreadful sensation of
heat, and knew that she was on fire! She screamed in horror,—

“Mrs. Chick! Mrs. Chick! Fire! Fire!” Oh, how far it was down-stairs!
Could Mrs. Chick hear?

But Mrs. Chick was not in the kitchen. Feeling rather uneasy about
Edith, she had followed her up-stairs, and was on the upper landing
when the child called. She heard the first cry, and came at once to her
aid, followed by Jimmy.

I rejoice to say that the flames had not reached Edith’s hair. Mrs.
Chick wrapped her in her best rug, which was quite spoiled by the
means, to say nothing of the little girl’s pretty red frock; but the
dear child herself was unharmed.



“DON’T cry so, you dear little girl; there is no harm done,” said Mrs.
Chick. “Why, Jimmy-boy! I wish you were asleep. Run right back to bed,
and don’t be so scared. Sister wasn’t hurt a bit.”

All this while Mrs. Chick, having undressed Edith, was rocking her in
her arms like a baby.

“I was a naughty, heedless girl,” said Edith. “I ought to have told
you mamma never trusts me with any kind of a light except a taper in a
tumbler. But I thought I was going to be so careful this time.”

“’Twas all my fault, dearie. I knew you weren’t one of the
stop-to-think kind. You’ll learn by and by,” replied Mrs. Chick
soothingly, as she placed the trembling, exhausted child in bed between
lavender-scented sheets, and turned to leave her.

“’Twas all my fault,” repeated the good woman to herself. “Thank Heaven
no harm came of it! but I should think I was old enough to know better.
I’m so weak-minded about children; can’t deny ’em anything they ask for!

“Now, there’s that cream. I’ve no business to let Jimmy churn it
to-morrow morning. Something will happen to it, as sure as my name’s
Biddy Chick; and I can’t afford to lose the cream. It needs a steady
hand to bring butter, and I’ll do the churning myself before he wakes

After this exciting adventure with the candle, it was some time before
the children could compose themselves to go to sleep. Mrs. Chick had
planned to do an unusual amount of work next day, and wanted an early
breakfast; but she had not the heart to waken her young guests.

“Let ’em have a good rest, poor little things! I remember how I used to
hate to be called up when I was a child; though, to be sure, I knew I’d
got to work, and that makes a difference. Bless me! how I did have to

It was eight o’clock, and the sun was quite high, when the children sat
down to their breakfast of omelet and waffles. The maple-sirup had been
forgotten after all, and Mrs. Chick had to go up-stairs for it.

“I’ve saved the cream for you to churn, Master Jimmy,” said she,
watching his smiles as she spoke.

“I ought to have got it out of the way by half-past five, and all made
into balls; but I don’t have a nice little boy like you come visiting
me every day, and I can’t bear to disappoint you.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Chick,” said Jimmy.

He supposed it would be nothing but fun to make butter, and secretly
hoped he might be allowed to pat it into balls.

After breakfast he followed his kind hostess into the shed, and saw her
pour a jar of rich cream into the green churn. She placed a chair for
Jimmy beside the churn.

“All you’ve got to do,” said she, “is to turn the handle of the churn
’round and ’round and ’round.”

“Oh, that’s nothing; I can do it just as easy,” replied Jimmy.

Mrs. Chick laughed.

“It’s harder than you think, little dear. But when you are tired of it
you can let me know. I shall be close by in the kitchen, making pies.”

“Look here! see what I’m doing! You never churned any butter, now did
you, Edy?”

“No,” said Edith; “and I don’t want to. I’d rather help Mrs. Chick make

For two minutes Jimmy was triumphant.

“How easy it goes! How well I do it!” he thought. “My arms must be
pretty strong.”

But nobody was there to hear or see him. Mrs. Chick had gone into the
kitchen, and was talking to Edith about buttering the plates for the
pies. Through the open shed door he espied the kid nibbling leaves from
some low bushes. The little Morse baby, who never stayed at home if
she could help it, had brought her black doll just inside Mrs. Chick’s
yard, and was rolling her in the sand.

“What a dirty baby to do that!” thought Jimmy.

Still he almost wished she would come into the shed; he did not enjoy
being alone.

He turned the handle of the churn ’round and ’round and ’round. He was
growing tired.

“Mrs. Chick!” he called out, “I think the butter is done.”

But Mrs. Chick paid no attention. She was telling Edy how hard she used
to work when she was a little girl named Biddy Roberts, and lived in

“Perhaps,” said she to Edy, “they wouldn’t have called me Biddy if they
had known I was going to marry a man by the name of Chick!”

“Mrs. Chick!” called Jimmy again.

“Well, what is it, dear?” said she from the kitchen.

“The butter’s done, I guess. Will you please come and see if the butter
is done?”

Mrs. Chick was very busy. She had put some pie-crust on a deep plate,
and was scalloping the crust into a kind of high wall all around the
plate, ready to hold a rich custard.

“I think it’s done; I do truly,” repeated Jimmy.

“No, sonny; the butter can’t have come yet. What are you doing? Don’t
take off the cover of the churn, Jimmy-boy. Only keep on turning the
handle ’round and ’round and ’round.”

“Why, that’s just what I did do! Why, I’ve turned it ’round forty-two
hundred times. I know I have. Can’t I stop now and get a drink of

Mrs. Chick laughed. She was a woman who laughed very easily.

“Yes; get some water if you like.”

There was a large olla (oya) in one corner of the shed, covered by a
white soup-plate. The water in it was always cold. Jimmy left the churn
at once, and went to the olla, and stood to take a long breath. Then he
ran to the pantry for a tumbler; he did not like to drink from the tin
dipper which sat in the soup-plate.

But while he was gone for the tumbler, the Morse baby slipped into the
shed, making hardly any noise. She came in with that dirty, dirty doll,
as full of sand as a pepper-box is full of pepper. She climbed into
Jimmy’s chair, lifted the cover off the churn, which was only set on
edgewise, and said, “Diny, oo go in dare!”

And then she plumped Dinah head-first into the churn.

Nobody heard or saw her. What made her do it? It is of no use trying to
guess. She might have thought such a sandy doll ought to have a bath.
Or perhaps she was making believe Dinah had been naughty, and she was
shutting her up in the closet.

At any rate, as soon as the miserable black object was safe in the
churn, Baby Morse ran away to chase the kid, and forgot all about her

When Jimmy had drunk two tumblers of water, and rested a long
while,—for he was not in the least haste,—he went back to the churn.

The cover was off.

“I did not know I took that off,” said he. And he put it on again

Then he turned the handle ’round and ’ro-ound and ’ro-o-ound. But how
ha-rd it went! Much harder than before. How heavy the cream had grown
all at once! Mrs. Chick had warned Jimmy that it would seem to grow
very heavy at the last.

“Do come, Mrs. Chick!” he cried eagerly. “The butter’s done now. I know
it’s done. It breaks my arm off to turn it ’round.”

Mrs. Chick had just put her second pie into the oven. She went out to
the shed, wondering what Jimmy meant, for she was sure the butter had
not come. She took off the cover of the churn and looked in.

“Why! what’s this?” cried she.

She put in her hand then, and drew out that dirty, dirty doll.

She could not help laughing, though she was very sorry. It was quite
too bad to spoil so much cream, and she was by no means a rich woman.

“I’m glad I didn’t put in all my cream,” she thought. “I had sense
enough to save out half of it.”

But she was just as much amused as either of the children. She never
was cross or sad, whatever happened.

“Of course Baby Morse has been here,” said she; “nobody else would cut
up such a caper. But I haven’t seen her or heard a sound of her all the

“I saw her,” said Jimmy. “She was playing in the dirt with that horrid
black thing; but who’d ’a’ thought of her dropping it in the churn?”

Then they had another hearty laugh, all three of them; and Jimmy never
dreamed that he had been at all to blame. The cream was the color of
Mrs. Chick’s gray gown. She poured it into a pan, to save it for the
animals, and then washed the churn.

“I won’t scold the boy; it was all my own fault,” thought she. “It’s
well I’m going to take these children home to-day. If they were to stay
here much longer, I should let ’em pull the house down over my head.—Do
you hear what I say, Biddy Chick?”

Mrs. Dunlee was very much surprised that afternoon to see Edy walk into
the house wrapped in an old shawl of Mrs. Chick’s, which almost tripped
her up at every step.

“O mamma!” she cried, throwing up her arms, “my dress was just burnt
off me! The back of it, I mean.”

And while Mrs. Chick was trying to tell the story, Edith began to laugh
and cry wildly.

“O mamma!” said she, casting herself on her mother’s neck, “you always
did just right with me; you knew best when you wouldn’t trust me with
candles and things. I _am_ the careless-est girl!”

“There! I’m glad you’ve found it out,” retorted Kyzie. “You never
believed it when anybody else said so.”

Mamma raised a warning finger, and Kyzie was ashamed, and held her
peace. She was the dearest girl in the world, but liked to lecture
Edith; and Mrs. Dunlee thought Edith did not need any lectures now. She
was feeling very humble.

“O mamma!” she went on, “I should think you’d tie my feet and hands
with a rope! yes, I should! Too bad I burnt up Mrs. Chick’s pretty rug!
But then, oh, dear! just think, you know, if there hadn’t been any rug!”

To divert their minds, Mrs. Chick told the story of Jimmy’s butter.
They were much amused; but the funniest part of it was to hear her

“But it was all my fault. I needn’t have been so weak-minded.”

When she left next morning there was a roll under the wagon-seat done
up in brown paper. She had not known that the roll was there till she
got home, when she found it contained a beautiful rug—a far better one
than had been burned.

“Just like Mrs. Dunlee! She knew if I should see it before I came away
I should hate to take it. And what’s this? A bran new shawl! Well,
well, well! She’s a good woman, if there is one. Do you hear what I
say, Biddy Chick?”



IN October a little boy came from New York with his father to visit
Major Irwin. It was Gilly’s cousin, Dick Somers; and Dick was destined
to get Jimmy into trouble.

He was a boastful boy. He told wonderful stories about the city of New
York, where the houses went as high as Jack’s beanstalk, and the people
had so much money that they almost threw it away.

Dick had left a dog at home which seemed to him now as large as a small
burro. Yes, he was sure of it. A dog much brighter than Punch Dunlee,
as well as vastly handsomer.

Dick had a beautiful sister; there was no one like her in California.
She had been married six weeks before this in church; and “I tell you
what, they spread carpets all over the streets for Maggie to walk on;
yes, they did!”

Gilbert only laughed at these remarkable tales; but they annoyed Jamie,
because they made him feel so very inferior.

He tried in his turn to remember and relate strange things that had
happened to him or that he had seen; but he did not succeed very well.
Dick despised rattlesnakes, horned toads, gophers, and road-runners.
He wouldn’t believe there are quicksands in California, where you can
“slump down, down, clear out of sight.”

“Pooh! you needn’t tell _me_!”

It was very discouraging to talk to Dick; still Jimmy was always ready
to talk.

One Saturday morning, Dick and Gilbert came over to the Dunlees’ to
play with Jimmy, who was glad to see them. It was very still in and
about the house that morning. Mr. Sanford had been gone to the city
of Washington for many weeks, and it always seemed odd without Mr.
Sanford. To-day papa was visiting a sick man just out of town; Mrs.
Porter, over the way, had borrowed the baby; Kyzie and Edith were
having a botany lesson with Aunt Vi somewhere in a canyon; and Lucy had
gone to Lincoln Heights to spend the day.

“What a merry time the little boys seem to be having in the stable!”
remarked Mrs. Dunlee to Vendla, as they heard the sound of childish
laughter floating in on the air.

She had asked Jimmy to get some hens’ eggs; for she and Vendla were to
make some cake for tea by a new recipe. There was no haste about the
eggs, however. Vendla stood by the pantry window rolling out pie-crust
with a glass rolling-pin, and would not be ready to begin upon the cake
till her four pies had gone into the oven.

Ah, that cake which had not been baked yet, that cake by the new rule!
If Mrs. Dunlee and Vendla had only known what strange thing would
happen to it that afternoon they certainly would not have made it at
all! But they did not know; and Mrs. Dunlee very soon took down a large
baking-pan and buttered it, saying to herself all the while that she
hoped the baby was behaving well at Mrs. Porter’s. She missed him, and
missed her three girls, and thought what a happy mother she was with
five such dear children. Yet, after all, she was not sorry to have them
out of the house for once on a Saturday morning.

“There’s Jimmy laughing again, above the other boys. He’s a noisy
child; I wonder if Baby Eddy will be as fond of fun as Jimmy? Well, at
any rate, I hope they’ll both grow up to be good.

    “‘And if they fall, or if they rise,
     Be each, pray God, a gentleman.’”

Now it was time for the cake.

“Jimmy, Jimmy!” called Mrs. Dunlee from the window. “You may bring the
eggs now.”

All this while the little boys in the stable had been chatting, and had
hardly thought of the eggs.

“Billy Dow thrashed me last night,” said Gilbert, shaking his fist at
the rafters. “But I tell you I paid him off.”

“Paid him off, that big fellow?” said Jimmy.

“Of course! Did you s’pose Gilly was going to forgive him?” cried the
little cousin from New York contemptuously. “Would you forgive a boy
that thrashed you, Jimmy Dunlee?”

“Ye-es,—if I couldn’t catch him! If he was ever so much larger’n me!”
was Jimmy’s candid reply.

Gilly laughed. “_I_ don’t forgive ’em ’cause they’re big! If I didn’t
dare hit Billy, I could call him awful names, and run out my tongue at
him; couldn’t I? Guess he won’t try to thrash _me_ again!”

“What did you call him?” asked Jimmy, much interested.

“‘Billee! Billee!’ says I, as loud as I could screech; ‘Billee, you’re
an old monkey-wrench!’ says I.”

“Why!” exclaimed Jimmy, struck by Gilly’s boldness. “Why-ee! I’ve had
some o’ those big boys call me a monkey; that’s bad enough!”

“Yes; but I said monkey-wrench,” said Gilly proudly.

“I was the one that told him the word!” cried Dick, eager to share in
the praise; “it’s a word they have in New York.”

Not one of the three little boys thought of asking, “What is a
monkey-wrench?” It sounded like something too bad to be talked about.

“What’s that queer noise?” asked Dick.

It was John laughing all by himself in the stall at what the boys were
saying. But when Jimmy peeped through the slats of the stall at the
pretty chocolate-and-white cow, John stood there looking as solemn as
an owl.

“We’ll get our eggs first, and then go in and play with Jessie,” said
Jimmy, thinking this a great pleasure. But Dick, who had hardly ever
seen a cow, was secretly afraid of Jessie’s “hooks.”

“Let’s see which’ll get the most eggs,” said he, beginning to climb the
ladder to the mow.

And now began a hand-and-knee exploring-expedition after eggs.

“Needn’t dig so deep,” said Jimmy, as Dick thrust both arms up to the
elbows in the straw.

“Well, but I’ve found an egg, Jimmy Dunlee, and you haven’t! Just as
yellow! Do you keep yellow hens?”

The laugh was now against Dick, who “didn’t know everything,” so Gilly
said, “even if he did come from New York.”

“I’ve found two eggs,” said Gilly, “so, now, what you think?”

“And I’ve found four,” cried Jimmy, trying to pitch his voice on a
subdued key. Too much triumph might be impolite to his guests.

“Why, here are two more, makes four. I found ’em myself,” said Gilbert
grandly. “What does your mamma do with so many eggs?”

“She’s going to put these in a cake.”

“I like mince-pies better’n cake,” returned Gilbert.

“I don’t eat ’em,” responded the boy from New York disdainfully, “and
my mamma’s fankful I don’t!”

“What _do_ you eat?” asked Jimmy.

Dick considered a moment.

“Apple-pie and cream candy and wedding-cake. Sometimes I eat bread and
butter—if there’s jelly on it.”

“Oh!” said Jimmy with great respect, mingled perhaps with a little envy.

Did this come of living “back East” in New York? What more delightful
than to be Dick Somers, and live where you have wedding-cake every day
of your life!

“But,” ventured Jimmy with rising courage, “maybe this will be
wedding-cake that mamma’s going to make. She didn’t say.”

The other boys laughed, and Dick said,—

“Pooh! I know better’n that! Say, none of your sisters ever went and
got married, did they, Jim?”

Went and got married! His little sisters! Jimmy pondered on this
foolish question. Dick meant it as an insult to his mamma’s cooking, no
doubt, though he could not see how. Making sport of her cake, indeed,
and before it was baked!

Jimmy had tried to be polite to the boys as his guests; but boys who go
visiting ought to be polite too.

“Dick Somers!” cried Jimmy in a towering rage, “you stop that! I don’t
care if you did come from New York, you don’t know any more about my
mamma’s cake than you do about—about horned toads, so there!”

It was just here that the pleasant voice called from the pantry window,—

“Jimmy, Jimmy, you may bring the eggs now.”

It was well that something should cut short Jimmy’s angry speech. It
was not safe to discuss horned toads above all things with Dick. Jimmy
always grew furious to hear Dick talk so wisely about them, when, as
Gilly said, “he wouldn’t know one from a caterpillar;” whereas Jimmy
had raised a whole family of the queer little creatures, and knew them
like A B C.



IT was pretty warm that Saturday afternoon, but a strong southerly
breeze was blowing. Vendla had just set the last clean dishes on the
pantry shelf, and gone up-stairs, when her mistress heard the sound of
something falling, and, going into the pantry, found that the screen
had fallen out of the window. Jimmy stood just outside, talking with
John, and the screen had fallen close to Jimmy’s feet.

“Here, little one,” said John, “if you’ll hand that up to me, I’ll
pound it in so it won’t come out. But what made you ask about

“Oh, to tell Dick Somers! He won’t believe a word I say.”

“That’s the little fellow from New York, is it? Well, you tell him it’s
all true. He _can_ sink up to his ears in a quicksand, and he may try
it if he wants to.”

“There! there! I knew it all the time,” cried Jimmy. “I wish you’d
tell him I did see two live rattlesnakes, and I did see—oh, lots of
road-runners! He thinks I’m a pretty nearly fool! Almost!”

Mrs. Dunlee heard this scrap of conversation as Jimmy was entering
the house. He came along to the pantry, looking rather vexed and
discontented. His mother suspected he was thinking of the New York boy,
and wondered a little that he should be so anxious to go that very
afternoon to return his visit. Dick did not seem to be a very agreeable
companion, yet he had a sort of fascination for Jimmy.

Jimmy-boy lingered about the pantry. The frosted cake “made by a
new rule” sat cooling on a platter, and the flies outside on the
window-screen were wildly longing to get in and have a share; but the
wire they beat against was hard and strong, and would not let them in.

Jimmy did not blame the flies for desiring the cake. It was certainly
beautiful to behold. Could Dick Somers ever have seen anything more
spotlessly fair, even in the great city of New York?

“Mamma, is this a wedding-cake?”

“No, dear; we only have wedding-cake when people are married.”

“Oh, I forgot that! ’Course we don’t!”

Jimmy looked abashed. How could he have been so stupid? He knew now
why the boys had laughed at him. Yes, and why Dick Somers was always
enjoying such an astonishing amount of wedding-cake. Dick’s sister had
been married in church, and the whole city had been carpeted for her to
walk on, or so Dick pretended. And naturally there had been bushels
and bushels of cake.

“When are you going to cut this, mamma?”

“To-night, my son.”

“Oh, goody! Wish I had a piece this minute to carry to the boys! Dick
Somers thinks we don’t have anything good out here. Why, mamma, he just
makes fun of everything in California!”

“You may give him a piece to-morrow, Jamie.”

“May I?”

The little boy gazed wistfully at the cake. He knew mamma had frosted
it on purpose to please her children; she and papa never ate any

“It does look so smooth and nice before it is cut up. If Dick could
only see it all whole!”

Jimmy seemed to be talking to himself, rather than to his mother,
and Mrs. Dunlee did not answer him. But she recalled the remark
afterwards, indeed that very evening, after something had happened of
which I am about to tell you.

“I must go up-stairs now to change my dress,” said she.

Jimmy followed her out of the pantry, and she shut the door.

“Where are you going, my son?” asked papa a little later, coming home
from his ride, and meeting Jimmy running off at full speed.

“To Gilly Irwin’s, papa; mamma said I might.”

Jimmy was in a hurry,—Mr. Dunlee observed it,—in an unusual hurry. And,
as he rushed away like a whirlwind, he paused an instant to pick up a
basket which stood under the large pepper-tree.

“I wonder what scheme the boy has in hand now,” said Mr. Dunlee to
himself. “There’s not a man in town who carries on so much business as
our James.”

Mrs. Dunlee came down-stairs fresh and smiling in her new cambric dress
with lace trimmings, and sat with her husband in the shaded study.
While she sewed, he read aloud, or sometimes he dropped his book, and
they had a little chat.

It seemed very still, they both said. Not a sound, even of Vendla
stepping about the kitchen, for Vendla was up-stairs sewing.

“How we do miss the children!” said Mrs. Dunlee.

And they agreed that they missed the “Prince Imperial,” as they called
the baby, more than any one of the others. He was such a rollicking
prince, never speaking a single word, but ruling his loving subjects by
laughter and tears, and sometimes by a wave of his royal hand.

At four o’clock he was brought home in Mrs. Porter’s arms, beaming
with joy; but refused to tell where he had been, or who had given him
the string of pretty shells he wore on his neck. He only smiled and
cooed, and mamma knelt at his feet, and said he was “the sweetest baby
ever was born.”

Then Lucy came home with two of her cousins. She had visited a
photographer with Aunt Jessie, and a man had “tooken her picture.”

“He kissed his hand to me, papa, and then he tooked it. But I don’t
know where it is now.”

“Did you keep still, little daughter?”

“Oh, yes, papa; I kept just as still! I was very _gemplumly_.”

It had long been Lucy’s ambition to be “gemplumly, just like Jimmy.”

In a few minutes the two older girls came home. They brought a box full
of wild-flowers, and were rather flushed and tired and talkative. Very
hungry too; for a “tramp dog” had eaten most of their luncheon. Edy
was afraid if she didn’t have something to eat in one minute, her head
would fly into pieces, it ached so hard.

“We can’t allow that,” said mamma. “Go into the dining-room, every one
of you! Draw up your chairs to the table, and I’ll bring you a plate of
bread and butter.”

She went with a light step into the pantry; but when she returned there
was a cloud on her face.

“I don’t know what to think,” said she, setting a plate of bread and
the butter-dish on the table. “I baked a loaf of cake this morning,
intending it for tea; but it is gone! Vendla!” she called, going to the
back staircase.

Vendla came down, looking rather serious.

“I went into the pantry half an hour ago, ma’am,” said she, “and there
was the empty platter sitting on the shelf. And, thinks I, ‘Where’s
that cake? Mrs. Dunlee must have put it in the cake-chest,’ But I
looked in the chest, and it wasn’t there. And that’s all I know about

“Why didn’t you come at once and tell me, Vendla?”

The girl hesitated.

“I thought you might feel troubled about it, ma’am. I was afraid you’d

Mrs. Dunlee knew she would have said, “I was afraid you’d think Master
Jimmy took it.”

But Vendla could not speak the words, and Mrs. Dunlee liked her all the
better for it.

“My good girl,” said she, “did you go down-stairs and lock the back
door this afternoon when I asked you to do so.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“And you saw no one about the house at that time, Vendla?”

“No, ma’am. Master Jimmy had just gone out. I heard his papa ask,
‘Where are you going?’ And Master Jimmy answered, ‘To Gilly Irwin’s.’
That was just as I stood locking the back door. And after that Mr.
Dunlee came into the front hall, and I heard him hasp the screen door.
I’m sure I did, ma’am.”

“And then you went up-stairs again, Vendla? And you didn’t go into the

“No, ma’am; I went straight up-stairs. I was in a hurry to finish my
blouse waist.”

“And you heard no one going or coming?”

“No, ma’am. Only once I heard John’s step; he was looking after the

“That will do, Vendla; I don’t know what to think about this!”

As Vendla left the dining-room, Kyzie looked up quickly, exclaiming, “O
mamma, don’t look so! I can’t believe it was Jimmy!”

“Neither can I,” said Aunt Vi, forgetting to eat her bread and butter.

“It doesn’t seem in the least like him,” returned Mrs. Dunlee.

But she had grown quite pale, and was going toward the study when
her husband entered the dining-room. He had overheard part of the
conversation, and looked as amazed and distressed as his wife.

“Why, my dear,” said he, “it is incredible!”

“So it is, James. The boy is too old to do such a thing; he has too
much conscience. But the question is, who took the cake? It could not
have gone without hands.”

“I see, I see, Prudy. And the doors were all well fastened, and you and
I sitting there in the study.”

“And the house so still,” added Mrs. Dunlee. “You know we spoke two or
three times of the stillness.”

Mr. Dunlee paced the floor in deep thought.

“There must be a way out of this,” he said.

“The cat, you know,” suggested Edith.

“Yes,” said Aunt Vi; “there’s always a cat to be suspected when there
has been mischief.”

“I’m afraid he put it in his basket,” went on Mrs. Dunlee, referring of
course to Jimmy, and not the cat.

“He said he wanted some of the cake for those boys, Gilly Irwin and his
cousin; and I told him he might have a piece to-morrow. But he didn’t
seem quite satisfied; I remember it now distinctly. He said, ‘It does
look so smooth and nice before it is cut up. If Dick could only see it
all whole!’”

“What reply did you make?” asked Mr. Dunlee.

“I believe I didn’t make any reply. Do you suppose, now, Jimmy could
have thought I meant to give him the cake?”

“Hardly likely,” said Mr. Dunlee. “But there is one possibility I can
think of. He may have taken it to show to the boys, intending to bring
it back uncut and uninjured. I know he had a basket in his hand; that
large one he carries.”

“Did he really have that basket?” returned Mrs. Dunlee. “Then it does
look very much as if he put the cake in it! Hush! isn’t that Jimmy’s
step in the hall?”



JIMMY-BOY came in swinging his basket on his arm. It was a remarkably
pretty Indian basket; and ever since Aunt Vi had given it to him two
weeks ago, it had travelled with him wherever he went.

“Jimmy,” said his mother as the little feet reached the threshold,
“Jimmy, I would like to see you in the study.”

The tone was grave; the boy looked up in alarm. Mamma was sure to be
“in earnest” when she spoke like this, and wished to see him in the

The moment they entered the study she closed the door and turned and
looked at him. What was she going to say?

“Jamie, O Jamie! did you carry it off in the basket?”

“Carry what off, mamma?”

“He speaks very innocently, as if it were quite new to him,” thought
his mother.

She took the basket from his hand, and measured it with her eye. Yes,
it was large enough; it could easily have held the whole loaf. But it
was empty now. If Jimmy had carried off the loaf to show to the boys,
he had not brought it back.

“My son, where is the cake I baked and frosted this morning?”

“I don’t know! Why, mamma, you didn’t s’pose _I_ took that cake?”

There was a quiver of pain in the young voice. Mrs. Dunlee looked at
her child eagerly, as if she would read his very soul.

“Did you take it, Jamie? You said you wanted to show it to Dick Somers;
you wished him to see it before it was cut. Now the cake is gone. Did
you take it?”

The tone was very gentle, but it moved Jimmy strangely. He hung his
head and burst into tears. Was he sorry he had been found out? Or did
it grieve him to be suspected wrongfully?

“No, mamma,” said he; “I never did it.”

“Jimmy, I want the truth! Remember your dear Heavenly Father hears what
you say.”

Jimmy only sobbed the harder at this.

“If you took the cake, and are sorry for it, I will forgive you.”

“O mamma! did you think I took it?”

“I hope not, my dear. Only we don’t know what has become of it. And
you said you wanted Dick Somers to see that we have nice things in

Jimmy writhed in strong excitement.

“Yes, mamma, he’s just the meanest boy! I wish I could tell you how
mean he is. When I carried him the”—

Jimmy paused suddenly. There was silence for half a minute while he
struggled with himself. It seemed as if he were almost on the point of
confession, and something held him back. Was it so? His mother could
not be sure, for he would not let her see his face.

“So you carried something to Dick? What was it, Jamie?”

“O mamma, mamma! don’t ask me. I can’t tell. He was so mean about it,

About the cake? Mrs. Dunlee wondered. Had Dick teased the little boy by
finding fault with it? If so, Jimmy would not like to tell her. A word
against his mother, or against anything his mother did, was always very
hard for Jimmy to bear.

“What did Dick say or do that was mean, my son? Do not be afraid to
tell mamma.”

“Oh, I can’t tell you what he said!”

Jimmy had not looked up at all, and now he hid his face in his hands.

“If he was innocent, why should he do so? Why shouldn’t he look at me?”
thought Mrs. Dunlee, her heart aching with grief and pity.

But it was useless urging him. At any allusion to the cake he

“No, mamma, I never.”

As if, having once said the words, he was determined to go on repeating
them over and over. There had always been a strain of obstinacy in
Jimmy’s character, as his mother was well aware. She turned sorrowfully
away, and left the little boy alone in the study, his face buried deep
in his father’s easy-chair.

It was a sad evening for everybody. Even the Prince Imperial ceased to
enjoy his string of shells, and became too low-spirited to smile. No
one but Kyzie had much hope of Jimmy’s innocence; but Kyzie said,—

“It wasn’t one bit like Jimmy-boy to take the cake in the first place.
And then he never would lie about it! Mamma, do think again; couldn’t
a thief have slipped into the house ever so softly by the back door?

“It only makes you sigh, mamma; you think it’s so absurd. I know it’s
absurd. Somebody took that cake off the shelf, and left the platter,
and it seems as if it must be Jimmy. Still, I can’t believe ’twas
Jimmy. I almost think ’twas somebody that dropped down through the

She meant the window in the roof. Lucy called it the sky-hole.

Mr. Dunlee turned as he was pacing the floor.

“I am almost as unreasonable as Katharine,” said he; “I can’t give it
up that Jamie is guilty. I must have a little talk with him myself
before I am convinced.”

He went into the study. The poor boy was still crying bitterly. Mr.
Dunlee seated himself in the big chair, and took him in his arms.

“Perhaps you thought mamma meant to give you the cake? Was that what
you thought? To divide with your little friends?”

Jimmy could not answer.

“If so, that was only a mistake. Perhaps you carried it away, and cut
it up in big pieces for the boys? Tell papa all about it.”

“O papa! I can’t tell; but I never touched the cake.”

“Then what did you carry off in your basket?”

“O papa! please don’t ask me,” wailed Jimmy. “’Twas something—something
I can’t talk about! I promised not to.”

“My son, this grows more and more mysterious. I can’t urge you to break
a promise, though why you should have made one I can’t possibly see. If
you promised not to tell about the cake, that was wrong, and”—

Jamie raised his head earnestly. “O papa! don’t you believe me when I

“My precious child, I do so long to believe you!”

[Illustration: “Jamie, O, Jamie, did you carry it off?”

_Page 114._]

Jimmy slipped down from his father’s knee, and stood upright before
him, his eyes shining with a new thought.

“Does God know everything, papa?”

“Certainly, my child.”

“Well, then, when you go to heaven, papa, you just ask God if I haven’t
told you the truth,” said Jimmy; and broke down again, and shook with

Mr. Dunlee caught the little pleader in his arms. He knew no more than
before what had become of the cake, but he was sure from that moment
that Jimmy had not taken it.

“If he had, he never would have dared make a speech like that,” said
the minister to his wife as he came out of the study, looking much
happier than when he had gone in.

“I hope you are right; I believe you are right,” replied Mrs.
Dunlee, her eyes brimming with tears. “Still, we must wait a while to
make sure.”

The next day, Sunday, was not a happy one. The older children knew the
exceeding sinfulness of a lie, and it was certain that Jimmy knew it
also. Yet what had become of the cake?

“Jimmy, what’s the matter o’ you?” asked wee Lucy, going up to her
brother, and putting her little arms around his neck.

“Oh, they just despise me as hard as anything!” he replied.

It broke his heart to be “despised.” He did not know how everybody
pitied and longed to help him, or he would not have been so unhappy.

Just before dinner Kyzie happened to go into the pantry. As she was
returning to the kitchen she heard a noise at the pantry window, like
the rattling of dishes, and, looking that way, saw Jessie, the pretty
cow, eating a custard-pie.

The pie was sitting on the window-ledge, within easy reach, and Jessie
was helping herself without fork or spoon.

“Come, mamma! come quick!” cried Kyzie.

Mamma came; and Jessie stood still, and finished the pie before her
eyes, licking the plate too, as though she would not miss a morsel.

“Did you ever see such impudence?” said Kyzie, laughing.

But mamma was not listening.

“Jessie ate that cake!” she exclaimed. “Where is John?”

John was surprised to see every one so excited.

“I let the cow out into the back yard yesterday about two minutes,”
said he; “but I never thought of her cutting up a caper in the pantry!
When I went after her, she was standing close to the pantry window, to
be sure, and the screen was out. I put it back; and thinks I, ‘That’s
the second time I’ve done it to-day. I’ll fix that screen Monday so it
will act better.’”

“Did you see Jessie eating the cake?”

“No, ma’am; she must have swallowed it pretty spry, for I never saw a
crumb of it.”

“O Jessie, Jessie! we never knew you were a thief!” said Edith, hugging
the pretty animal whose “sweet tooth” had caused all this trouble.

Mrs. Dunlee had no time or thought for the cow. She was watching the
happy smiles on Jimmy’s face.

“My precious, innocent boy!” said she, holding him close, as if she
could never let him go.

“You made a mistake when you said the cake couldn’t have gone without
hands; didn’t you, mamma?” said Kyzie, trying to laugh; but somehow
the tears would come first.

“Mamma,” whispered Jimmy-boy,—and a lighter-hearted boy you never
saw,—“mamma, put your ear down close; I want to say something. I knew
all the time I didn’t do it, and I knew God knew I didn’t do it.”

“Yes, dear; that is so.”

“And I knew God would tell you and papa all about it when you got to
heaven, mamma; but, oh, I didn’t want to wait!”

“No, you dear, suffering child,” replied his mother. “And, thank God,
we didn’t any of us have to wait! We’re so glad to know it all now!”

And then she kissed Jimmy on his mouth and hair and eyes; and the
children all gathered around, and Kyzie said,—

“Isn’t this a beautiful Sunday? I’d rather have it than a diamond ring.”

It was not till Tuesday that they learned what Jimmy had carried off
in the basket; and then Mr. Somers, Dick’s father, told it, laughing,
to Mr. Dunlee. It was horned toads.

Little Dick had declared that they had eyes in the backs of their
heads. Jimmy and Gilbert disputed this, and told him to look for

“I won’t look,” said Dick. “Guess I _know_! I’ll leave it to my _papa_
if I don’t know!”

The more he was laughed at, the more he insisted, saying at last,—

“I’ll give you five cents, Jimmy Dunlee, for every toad you’ll find
that _hasn’t_ got eyes back of his head! Bring ’em along, sir, and let
my papa see ’em, and I’ll give you fi—ive cents apiece!”

So Jimmy, expecting to make a small fortune, had roamed far and wide,
and collected five toads; for he could not spare his tame ones. But
when he took them to Major Irwin’s, Dick only said,—

“What you s’pose _I_ want o’ those toads?”

Jimmy was angry.

“You _told_ me to bring ’em! Look at ’em now; look this minute! You
_said_ they had eyes back o’ their heads!”

Dick was laughed at by the whole family, and made to confess that these
were the first horned toads he had ever seen. His father called him “a
little braggart;” and for once in his life the boy was ashamed, and ran
crying down cellar to hide.

Jimmy threw back his shoulders proudly. It was a great triumph to have
humbled Dick Somers! And then, besides that, to have earned twenty-five

But when he modestly asked for his money, what did those people all do
but fall to laughing again?

And the wider his honest brown eyes opened with surprise, the harder
they all laughed!

Jimmy could not see anything funny in the affair; he only saw that he
had been cheated and imposed upon. As he turned indignantly on his
heel, Hatty Irwin, Gilbert’s sister, said in a low tone,—

“The little toad-merchant is going home to see if his mamma will buy
his toads.”

Hatty did not expect to be overheard; but Jimmy caught the words, and
was cut to the heart. He shouted wildly,—

“I shall _not_ tell my mamma! I shall _not_ tell any single body at my
house, so there!”

And all the while he was running away from these cruel people as fast
as he could go.

If he had not made this sudden, impulsive promise to Hatty, all might
have been different. For then he would have related his woes to his
own family; mamma would have pitied and soothed him; and, better than
all, there would have been no mystery as to what was carried off in the

Instead of that,—but you know the story, and can fancy how poor
Jimmy-boy suffered.

Dick Somers went home that very week; and Mrs. Dunlee said to her

“I am really glad for Jimmy’s sake. I am sure Jimmy has not been made
very happy by the little boy from New York.”



PEOPLE were beginning to think and talk about Christmas. There was
a pleasant stir in the air of something mysterious and delightful
about to happen. Mamma and Aunt Vi were often together in Aunt Vi’s
“snuggery” up-stairs, and what they were consulting about nobody
ventured to ask; some uncommonly fine present for each of the children,
no doubt.

One day Aunt Vi, who was sewing in the back parlor, looked up from her
work, and said,—

“Jimmy-boy, do you think you could go to the store and buy me some blue
sewing-silk like this pattern?”

And she held up a bit of blue satin.

“Why don’t you ask _me_, Auntie?” exclaimed Edith, dropping the doll
she was dressing in a new tea-gown. “Boys don’t know the difference
between a skein of silk and a clothes-line.”

Aunt Vi secretly thought that she could trust Jimmy better than Edith,
but she did not like to say so.

“Then you may get me the silk, if you will, Edith; two spools.”

“Well, I’ll go with you,” said Jimmy-boy.

“If you’re going, I’ll have to go too,” piped wee Lucy.

“Of course,” thought Edith. “And there’s the dog, _he’ll_ have to
follow,—the ‘inevitable dog,’ Aunt Vi calls him. Oh, dear!”

“If the whole family is to go, we may as well have more errands done!”
exclaimed mamma with a playful smile. “Can I trust you, Edith, to call
at our grocer’s, Mr. Ladd’s, and ask him to send me two pounds of
Santa Isabel butter?”

“‘Can I trust you?’” repeated Edith to herself. “Why do people always
say that to me, as if they didn’t feel _sure_?”

“Yes, mamma,” she added aloud; “two pounds blue silk, two spools San
Isabel’s butter;” then corrected her own mistake, laughing.

The little party went skipping along in a very gay mood, the
“inevitable dog” at their heels. Instead of proceeding at once to the
stores, Edith chose to go two or three blocks out of the way, to watch
a couple of tiny boys riding together on the back of a burro, and to
see how fast the workmen were getting on in building a tall house she
greatly admired.

They passed Mrs. Phillips’s brown cottage, with the bird-of-paradise
flowers in the garden. Edith had a fancy for these gay, graceful
flowers, with their very long scarlet streamers floating on the air
like little banners. But just now she should not have gone that way;
it was one of her mistakes. Her mother had said to her only the day

“Edith, when you are out with Lucy, I would prefer you shouldn’t
go near Mrs. Phillips’s house, for I don’t like to expose Lucy to

Edith would not have “exposed” her little sister on any account if she
had only stopped to think. She believed whooping-cough to be almost
sure death. Hadn’t she had it herself just before Jimmy was born, and
nearly died of it? So she firmly believed. At any rate, the nurse, Mrs.
Chick, had not allowed her to go near the new baby,—only think of that!
She had had to look at Jimmy through the window! She was only two years
old at the time, and could not remember anything about it, but this
was what everybody said. It had always impressed Edith as something
very strange and dreadful, that she had been shut away like that from
her own baby Jimmy! And, after all, he had had whooping-cough just the

“Why, there’s Sadie Phillips at the window!” said Jimmy. “What makes
her face so red?”

Then all in a moment Edith stopped short in the street, and recalled
her mother’s warning. She had done the wickedest, dreadfullest thing
in the world to take Lucy near that cottage! And alas, alas! Sadie
Phillips was coughing; that was what made her face look so red. The
window was closed, it is true; but Edith heard the frightful sound, and
it fell on her heart like a knell.

“What made me come here? What shall I do?” she wailed, seizing her
little sister in her arms, and running furiously down the street.

Wee Lucy screamed, the dog barked, and Jimmy cried out, “What is it?
What is it?” not knowing what to make of this strange behavior.

“Oh, I’ve _esposed_ Lucy! I’ve esposed Lucy!” cried wretched Edith, the
tears raining down her cheeks.

Lucy struggled out of her arms, laughing. She did not know what
“esposed” meant; neither did Jimmy; and it may be that Edith did not
clearly know herself.

“O Lucy darling, don’t laugh; it’s dreadful; it’s awful! What does
make you act so, Jimmy? We must run, run, run! Lucy’s going to have
whooping-cough, sure as you live.”

Upon that the small sister very naturally felt a tickling in the
windpipe, and rasped her throat, trying to see if a cough would come.
Nothing could so have increased Edith’s fright.

The better Lucy succeeded in coughing, the harder Edith cried, and the
louder barked the wondering dog.

This delighted roguish Lucy. She liked to have Edith cry over her; it
made her feel very important. She wished Jimmy would cry too; but he
only said coolly,—

“Hush, Lucy; you haven’t got it; you needn’t _pertend_.”

“I know she hasn’t got it yet,” replied Edith; “it takes a long while.
But what I’m crying about is, she’s going to get it! She’s swallowed
some; she swallowed it when we stood by Sadie’s house.”

It was of no use for Jimmy to say “Pooh!” This was a matter of life and
death to Edith. She wanted to take Lucy home at once, and perhaps have
her shut in a dark room, or at any rate put to bed.

But those errands!

“Jimmy,” said she, as they came in sight of the stores, “my eyes don’t
look very red, do they?”

Truthful James had to reply,—

“Yes, they do,—red as a lobster cactus.”

“Well, I can’t help it. You stay out here with Punch and Lucy, while I
go in for the silk.”

“See here! I’ve thought of something,” said Jimmy, touched by Edith’s
distress. “If Lucy did swallow some, can’t they give her something to
cure it? Mamma could, I guess, or Dr. Devoll.”

“Why, I never thought of that,” returned Edith, gathering courage.

“Now, Lucy, you _will_ be willing to take a pill when we get home if
mamma thinks it’s best?”

Lucy wasn’t quite sure. She thought it would depend somewhat upon the
size of the pill, also upon the sort of jelly it was offered in.

“Oh, how she does act sometimes!” sighed Edith. “Now, Lucy, you stay
out here with the dog and Jimmy; you stay out here till I come back.”

Lucy consented.

It was a red-eyed, broken-hearted little girl who entered Mr. Hall’s
store and asked for blue sewing-silk. You would hardly have known her
for happy Edith Dunlee.

“Oh, no, sir,” she said when a spool was offered her. “Not silk;
_thread_. She wants to _sew_ it!” The salesman looked surprised, then
amused, then sorry; for by this time Edith had begun to cry again.

“Wouldn’t it be well, little miss, for you to go home now, and come
back again when you know your errand.”

Edith had to confess that it would.

She went next to the grocer’s for butter.

“I will send it up,” said the clerk.

But no, Edith was sure mamma had intended that she should carry it.

It was given her in a paper bag, and she held the bag close to her
heart, and cried over it; and by the time they reached home the butter
was ready to melt. She dropped it in a chair, and shrieked out,—

“O mamma, Lucy’s been there! I took her! I _s’posed_ her!”

And down Edith sank upon the sofa in unspeakable woe. Little Lucy
finished the direful story.

“Hookin’-cock, mamma, hookin’-cock! Give me a pill! Please put it in
squinch jelly!”

I must confess that mamma and Aunt Vi fell to laughing in the most
unfeeling manner. Each tried in turn to soothe poor Edith; and mamma
said that even if Mrs. Phillips’s window had been wide open,—and Jimmy
was sure it was shut,—that even with the window open it was hardly
probable that Lucy had been exposed in so short a time.

“And whooping-cough is nothing very serious here in California, my
daughter. Children suffer very little from it in this mild climate. I
wouldn’t mind Lucy’s having it some time, say next spring; but just

Here she looked at Aunt Vi, who blushed and smiled.

“It _would_ be rather awkward just now,” said Aunt Vi.

“Yes,” returned Mrs. Dunlee; “we mustn’t have any whooping-cough in the
house till after the wedding.”

“Wedding?” repeated Edith, “what wedding?”

“Am I not a stupid woman!” exclaimed mamma, putting her hand over her
mouth. “I came very near letting out a great secret.”

“But is there going to be a wedding, mamma?”

Edith’s tears were dried now. She had thrown to the winds all her
whooping-cough fright.

“Is there going to be a wedding, mamma?”

“Yes, dear, sometime and somewhere we hope there will be a wedding. It
isn’t quite time yet to talk much about it. Very soon you will know.”

Edith looked from her mother to her aunt, her eyes full of questions.
But before she had time to put the questions into words, Aunt Vi
inquired about her blue sewing-silk. Too bad to have to stop and
explain all that; for afterwards Edith couldn’t find out the least
thing about the wedding,—whose it was, or where or when. Papa pretended
that it was very likely some Indians from Arizona.

“O papa! now you know it’s not Indians! And it’s nobody in Arizona
either. The wedding belongs right here in California.”

“Indeed! And possibly in this very house. Who knows?”

Edith felt that she was being trifled with. Who was there in this
house to be married but papa and mamma?

And they had been married already.

Then one day somebody said Mr. Henry Sanford was coming home from

“Oh, now I know!” cried Edith. “It’s Mr. Sanford and Aunt Vi; it’s Mr.
Sanford and Aunt Vi!”

She was right. They were to be married at Christmas, just two weeks

“If Lucy doesn’t have whooping-cough, you mean?” said Edith. “If she
does, I s’pose you’ll have to put off the wedding?”

No one answered this question. No one knew how it weighed upon Edith
and Jimmy, or how closely they watched their little sister, fearing she
might suddenly fall to coughing, and put a stop to the whole delightful
and extraordinary plans for Christmas.

But Lucy did not cough,—except when somebody reminded her.



CHRISTMAS was almost here. One morning Mrs. Dunlee went about the house

    “The shepherds heard it overhead;
       The joyful angels raised it then;
     ’Glory to God on high!’ it said,
       ‘And peace on earth to gentle _men_.’”

“That’s _me_,” thought Jimmy. He felt that he had a private and
particular claim on Christmas, for it was his birthday. Now birthdays
were becoming an old story to Jimmy. He had had quantities of them, and
this would be the sixth; but a wedding was something new. “_What was a

Sometimes people came to the house to be married, and papa married
them in the parlor, the children not being allowed to go in. But that
“didn’t count;” what was a _wedding_?

“Where’ll they put it?” asked wee Lucy.

“It isn’t a thing you can put anywhere; it isn’t a vase or a teapot,”
replied Edith. “It’s only something that folks _do_. Aunt Vi is going
to marry Mr. Sanford,—no, he’s going to marry Aunt Vi.”

This did not help the matter much.

“What do they do it for?” asked Jimmy.

Edith herself was perplexed as to that, though she did not like to own

“Oh, mamma says Mr. Sanford is coming here because papa is a
_minister_!” She spoke proudly, as if the world held but one. “Papa is
a minister, and can do it just right. ’Twill be a great deal worse than
Thanksgiving and Christmas. A monstrous cake, black as a shoe,—Kyzie
didn’t mean I should know about that,—and chicken salad, and lobster
salad, and I _think_ turkey salad. Ice-cream, I know; ice-cream,—ever
so many colors, just like a bed of flowers. And—and—well, I can’t
remember the rest.”

Jimmy’s eyes grew very brilliant. The mention of black cake, and cream
all the colors of the rainbow, had placed the wedding in a much clearer
light. He went and reported to wee Lucy, and Lucy mounted a chair and
told the looking-glass.

“Auntie’s going to be mallied! Papa’ll be there in his pulpit right in
the parlor. Roses and i-scream; worse’n Kismus, worse’n birf-days!”

“Cheer, boys, cheer!” added Jimmy, by way of chorus.

The night but one before the wedding he and Lucy were strangely wide
awake. Lucy lay in her crib at least five minutes with open eyes,
wondering why _she_ couldn’t be married as well as Aunt Vi. She meant
to ask mamma. When Jamie fell asleep it was to dream of weddings. The
weddings seemed to be made chiefly of white and pink sugar, and danced
a ring-round-rosy with papa in the middle, papa taking up a deal of
room on account of his pulpit.

There was one thing very remarkable indeed which Edith had not told
Jimmy, simply because she did not know it herself. He learned it next
day from dear Aunt Vi. It was this:—

Jimmy was to be groomsman at the wedding, and Lucy was to be
bridesmaid! Somebody had been making a beautiful white frock for little
Lucy, all embroidered with silk apple-blossoms. Some one else had been
making a charming blue suit for Jimmy, all spangled with silver.

Why shouldn’t these two children go nearly wild with rapture? Why
shouldn’t they think the wedding was made on purpose for themselves,
and that Aunt Vi had little to do with it, except to look on and admire
their new clothes?

Auntie had lived in the house ever since they could remember. They
loved her dearly, and it was very sad that Mr. Sanford should have
taken this sudden notion to come and carry her off to Washington.

“She’ll never, never see any more cherry-trees,” thought Lucy. “Georgie
has cut ’em all down!”

But they had little time to grieve over losing their aunt, little time
to pity her for being obliged to go away; their new clothes filled all
their thoughts. Jimmy felt that life had nothing grander to offer him
than the honor of being “best man” at a wedding. It was as if he was
about to become a king, and wear a royal crown.

As for Lucy, she was in such a flutter of delight, that Kyzie had to
watch her, lest she should run all over town to say to people,— “What
you fink? I’se going to be mallied to Aunt Vi.”

Mr. Sanford arrived from Washington the very day before Christmas.
Lucky for him that he was in season for the wedding!

“May I tell him about it, mamma?” asked Lucy.

Mamma thought it would do no harm.

“There’s going to be _sumfin’_ at my house to-morrow, Mr. Sanford,
worse’n _you_ ever saw! And Jimmy and I are going to stand up in it.
It’s a wedding! _Wasn’t_ you glad you came?”

“Very glad! I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. A wedding, do you
say, Miss Snippet? Pray, who is the bride?”

And he looked solemnly at Aunt Vi, whose cheeks were the color of the
buds on Lucy’s rosebush.

Lucy could not answer. She did not ’member that she had heard anyfing
about a bride.

Jimmy, who was kneeling before Mr. Sanford, had never heard of a bride.

“I’m groomsman, you know,” said he, hoping he did not look as proud
as he felt. “I’m groomsman, and Lucy is bridesmaid. We’ve got some
_splendid_ clothes! But I don’t believe there’ll be any bride. Mamma
never said anything about that.”

“Ah! But, Jimmy, if I were you I would look around sharply, and try to
find a bride. Brides are all the fashion nowadays at weddings.”

“Oh!” said Jimmy coldly. He never troubled his head about fashions. It
struck him, too, that the Dunlees ought to be able to manage their own
wedding, without the help of Mr. Sanford, a man who did not belong in
the family. Still, being a boy of good manners, Jimmy refrained from
speaking all his thoughts; he merely said, “Oh!”

Christmas dawned at last, birthday, wedding, and all. The house was
full of presents; not for the children, though. _They_ had very few
this year. And in the evening people began to call. Whether the
presents and the people made any part of the wedding Jimmy and Lucy
could not fairly make out. Nothing more was heard of a bride.

The children had been dressed quite early, and afterwards kept
up-stairs so long that they began to grow tired. By and by somebody
gave each of them a very large bouquet and said, “Come.”

They heard music, and, keeping step to it, marched gayly down-stairs.
The parlor was full of people, all richly dressed, but none of them so
fine as the little groomsman and bridesmaid—oh, by no means!—or half so
well pleased with their clothes! Aunt Vi and Mr. Sanford were going
into the parlor too.

Nobody spoke; that sweet music was playing. Mamma whispered to Jimmy
to take Lucy’s hand; and the two children went up to join Aunt Vi and
Mr. Sanford in the bay-window. Lucy stood beside Aunt Vi, and Jimmy-boy
beside Mr. Sanford, as had been agreed upon beforehand.

All heads were turned that way. The little groomsman and bridesmaid
felt that the proud moment had come when they were to be seen and
admired by the whole world. Lucy felt Aunt Vi tremble, and wondered why
she should be so frightened. Or was she only cold? Lucy stole a quick
glance at her face. Why, how pale it looked! the pretty pink color all
gone out of her cheeks! Her dress was soft, cream-colored silk, with
only lace on it, not half so sweet as the apple-blossoms on Lucy’s.

[Illustration: “The little groomsman and bridesmaid.”

_Page 150._]

Lucy did not speak. She had promised she wouldn’t; and besides, there
was no chance for anybody to speak. Papa was standing there, just going
to preach, though, to be sure, he had no pulpit. It wasn’t much of
a sermon, either. He only asked some questions, and Aunt Vi and Mr.
Sanford answered so low you could hardly hear. Then there was a ring
put on Aunt Vi’s finger, and papa talked some more, and prayed a little.

Lucy drew a long breath, but kept perfectly quiet. Jimmy was quiet
too, though they both looked sober and surprised. _This_ was not
funny in the least, not at all what they had expected. There was no
“ring-round-rosy,” or “button, button,” or dancing, or _anything_ nice.
And this was what they called a wedding!

But it was over before very long, and then the people began to stir
again. There was a buzz of pleasant talking all through the room.
People here and there laughed softly; but mamma and one or two other
ladies put their handkerchiefs to their eyes. It couldn’t be that they
were crying? How strange! how very strange! Grown-up ladies crying at a

And people were coming up to kiss Aunt Vi, and shake hands with Mr.
Sanford. What was that for? If they had only kissed Jimmy and Lucy, and
said how spl-en-didly they looked, and how well they had behaved, there
might have been some sense in it.

Jimmy’s lip curled a little.

And who was _Mrs. Sanford_? Again and again people went up to Aunt Vi,
and said, “My dear Mrs. Sanford,” which of course wasn’t her name.

Then everybody went out to the dining-room. But think of setting a
noble groomsman like Jimmy, and a fair bridesmaid like Lucy, off in a
corner, and telling them to “stay there and not speak yet”!

And before anybody had a chance to eat much, something else happened.
Jimmy heard wheels, and, peeping through the window, saw that a
carriage had been driven up the gravel path,—a carriage with blue
velvet cushions and two handsome chestnut horses.

There it stood and stood. Nobody knew it was there but Jimmy.

And presently Aunt Vi went off in this carriage, and Mr. Sanford went
with her. The oddest thing! Right away from the company! So impolite!

Mamma was crying just a little in the hall before they started. Auntie
had on a different dress and a new bonnet. She held the children close,
and dropped a tear on Lucy’s cheek. Poor, poor auntie! how she did hate
to go! But Mr. Sanford hurried her into the carriage, which rolled
away; and then mamma and papa went back to the dining-room, and went
on eating chicken-salad.

Up to this time, during all the topsy-turvy proceedings, people had
seemed very cold-hearted, or very forgetful; but now they began to take
notice of Jimmy and Lucy. They said they were the sweetest groomsman
and bridesmaid ever seen, as lovely as fairies; and gave them more
kisses twice over than had been given Aunt Vi.

“I dare say this is the first wedding you ever saw, my love?” asked one
of the ladies of Lucy.

Lucy turned uncertainly to her mother. “Mamma, did Jimmy and I ever
mally anybody before?”

“No, dear.”

The children were eating ice-cream now, their hearts growing every
moment happier and lighter. Still the chief event of the evening
remained a dark mystery.

“What made Aunt Vi go off with Mr. Sanford?” asked the bewildered Jimmy.

Papa replied,—

“Because she loves him best of anybody in the world.”

“Better’n _me_?” said Lucy, looking for her handkerchief.

The good clergyman tried to explain to his children that there are many
kinds of love in the world, but all are beautiful and sweet. Then he
talked of Christmas, and of God’s sending his blessed Son to us upon
that day, a little child.

“God’s love is best of all,” said Mr. Dunlee. “Did you ever fancy for a
moment, little ones, what we should do without our Father’s love?”

“Die, _I_ think,” replied Jimmy, shivering and drawing nearer to his
little sister. “We should all cuddle up together and die in a heap.”

But Lucy could talk of nothing but the wedding.

“Auntie never telled me a thing. Did she mally Mr. Sanford ’cause she
loved him?”

“To be sure,” said Mr. Dunlee.

Lucy drew a quick breath.

“Well, I love my brother better’n that; I love him ’way up to the moon.
Won’t you mally me and my brother?”

“Oh, yes,” laughed papa. “Put down your cake, and stand up here, both
of you.”

They stood up. It was a lovely sight as the full light of the
chandelier shone down upon them in their bridal array, and turned the
hair of both to shining gold.

“I pronounce you brother and sister,” said Mr. Dunlee.

And then he laid his hands upon their innocent heads in silent
blessing. They did not know what he said, for he said it only to God;
but they were both very happy.

“Now you are bound to each other by a chain of love,” said mamma,
embracing them. “I hope you will be more brotherly, Jimmy-boy, every
time you think of it; and I hope you’ll be more sisterly, my little

“So we’ve finished off with a wee wedding,” said Aunt Jessie Pauly.

And the other guests responded,—

“How beautiful!” and drank healths to “the bonnie wee pair,” who were
proud to be the centre of notice at last.


[Illustration: DOTTY GOING WEST

“‘Please stop,’ said Dotty faintly, and the boy came to her, elbowing.
‘I want some of that pop-corn so much! I could buy it if you’d hold
this baby till I put my hand in my pocket.’ The youth laughed, but for
the sake, of ‘making a trade’ set down his basket and took the ‘enfant
terrible.’ There was an instant attack upon his hair, which was so long
and straggling as to prove an easy prey to the enemy.”





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Transcriber’s Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

Page 18, word “to” added to text (to be a manly)

Page 137, word “I” added to text (here till I)

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