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Title: Courage
Author: Ogden, Ruth
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Courage" ***

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



COURAGE

A Story Wherein Every One Comes To The Conclusion That The Courage In
Question Proved A Courage Worth Having

By Ruth Ogden

Illustrated by Frederick C. Gordon

With Twenty Original Illustrations

New York

Frederick A. Stokes Company

1891

[Illustration: 0001]

[Illustration: 0004]

[Illustration: 0005]



COURAGE



CHAPTER I.--NAMED AT LAST.


If one has a fairy tale in mind, why then, of course, the more mystery
the better; but when you have a story to tell about people who cannot
fly from hill-top to hill-top, and who to live at all must have food
more substantial than rose-leaves and honey-dew, why then, say I, the
less mystery the better. Therefore, let me tell you at once that the
Courage of this story is not at all the sort of thing you might at first
imagine. Auburn-haired, brown-eyed, and rosy-cheeked was this particular
Courage; in point of fact, as charming a little maiden as you would meet
on a long day's journey, and with Courage for her name. An odd name no
doubt you think it. Courage herself did not like it, but the suns of a
half-dozen summers and winters had risen for the little lady in question
before she could so much as lay claim to any name whatsoever. All
that while she was simply known as Baby Masterson. Her father, Hugh
Masterson, was foreman in a machine shop over on the west side of the
city, and "a very queer man," people said. Probably they were right
about it. He was unquestionably a very clever man, and queerness and
cleverness seem to go hand-in-hand the world over. He was the author of
at least three successful inventions, but, as often happens, others
made more money out of them than he. Hugh, nevertheless, did not seem
inclined to grumble at this state of affairs. Having a wife whom he
loved devotedly and a comfortable home of his own, he felt thoroughly
contented and happy. Then when, one bright June morning, Hugh found
himself the father of a lovely baby daughter, happy was no name for it,
and he was quite beside himself with joy. But, sadly enough, the joy was
soon over, for scarcely three months after the baby-life came into the
little home the mother-life went out of it, and then it seemed to poor
Hugh as though his heart would break. He hired a kind-hearted woman
named Mary Duff to care for his baby, and plunged harder than ever into
his work, hoping by delving away at all sorts of difficult problems to
grow less mindful of his great sorrow; but do what he would, there was
always a sense of irreparable loss hanging over him. However, between
his work and his sorrow he did often succeed in altogether forgetting
his baby. Still the little daughter grew and flourished, apparently none
the worse for this neglect. Mary Duff was love and tenderness itself,
and it were well for the children if every mother in name were just such
a mother at heart. But at last there came a time when Hugh Masterson
could no longer fail to notice his baby's charms. She had taken it into
her wise little head to grow prettier and prettier, and more and
more cunning with every day, till there was no more forgetting of her
possible; and first thing her father knew, he found himself thinking of
her right in the midst of his work, and then hurrying home through the
crowds of laboring people at night, fairly longing for a sight of her.
And so it happened that the little girl grew to fill a larger and still
larger place In his life, till on her sixth birthday he decided that
she really ought to have a name, that little woman beginning strongly to
resent the fact that she was known only as Baby Masterson to the small
world in which she lived. So when Sunday came, Hugh carried her in his
arms up to St. Paul's to be christened. But the name that he gave her!
Well, it was not in the least like other little girls' names, as you
know. No wonder Mary Duff, who was standing godmother, was more than
surprised when she heard it, having simply taken for granted that
Baby would be named for her mother. Baby herself was naturally greatly
mystified at the whole proceeding.

[Illustration: 0012]

"What did you say I had been, papa?" she asked, as with her hand held
fast in his she trudged home beside him.

"I said you had been christened, darling."

"Christened!" she repeated softly, wondering just what the word might
mean.

"And did you say I had a name now, papa?"

"Yes, dear; and you think it was time, don't you?"

"I have wanted one for a very long while," she said, with a little half
sigh; "but did you say my name was Courage?"

"Yes, Courage; it's a pretty name, isn't it?"

"I don't know," rather doubtfully. "Do other little girls have it?"

"No, I believe not; but probably they don't deserve it."

"I would like to have been named Arabella," she replied, somewhat
aggrieved. "Why did you not let me choose, papa?"

"Why, I never thought of that, Baby; besides, it isn't customary to
consult children about what names they shall have--is it, Mary?" turning
to Mary Duff, who, because of the narrow flagging, was walking just
behind them.

"No, I believe not, Mr. Masterson," said Mary; "but then, sir, no more
is it customary to delay a naming of them till they're old enough to be
consulted."

"Well, I reckon Mary's right about that, Baby, and perhaps I ought to
have talked matters over with you; but I can tell you one thing, I never
should have consented to Arabella--never in this world. I should
say Arabella was a regular doll name, and not at all suited to a
sturdy-limbed little girl like you."

"But there are other beautiful names, papa--Edith and Ethel and Helen! I
love Helen." Then suddenly coming to a standstill and eagerly looking up
to her father's face, she exclaimed: "Papa, if we hurried back perhaps
the minister would un-un-christen me"--proud to have remembered the
proper word and evidently comprehending that the rite was a binding one.

"No, I fear not," laughed her father; "but take my word for it, you'll
like Courage after a while; it's just the name for you."

"Does it mean something, papa?"

"Yes, something fine. Why, when you grow up, Baby" (for the new name was
quite too new for use), "you'll discover that there's nothing finer than
courage."

"Is courage something that people have? Have I got it?"

"Some people, dear, and I hope that you have it."

"But why am I named it, if you are not sure, papa?"

"Because then perhaps the name may help you to get it; but the best
reason of all is this, that the sight of you, darling, always puts new
courage into me and although she did not in the least understand it,
Baby felt somehow that that was a beautiful reason, and as her father
lifted her up in his arms, gave him a tight little hug and was perfectly
satisfied.

"How do you like my new name?" she said, looking over her father's
shoulder at Mary.

"Faith, darling." said Mary, taking hold of her little extended hand,
"I thought it some queer at the first, but now that I've learned the
reason, I think it's an elegant name."

It may be that you do not agree with Mary Duff in this, and yet you must
know that it was just because Courage proved to be so well named that
there is this little story to tell about her.



CHAPTER II.--ON THE WATCH.


At the time of the commencement of our story Courage was twelve years
old. To be sure, she was only six over in that little first chapter, but
to be quite honest, that wasn't a first chapter at all. It was simply
what is termed an introduction, but we did not dare to mention the fact,
because, if you will believe it, that is something many people cannot
be persuaded to read. So the real story commences with a twelve-year-old
Courage standing one May morning on the edge of a wharf at the foot of
a West side street. The wind was tossing her auburn hair and winding her
little plaid skirt close about her, but was not strong enough by half to
blow a sad, wistful look from her brown eyes. Morning after morning she
had taken her position at exactly the same spot, and there had sat or
stood for hours at a time. The men who worked on the wharf had come
to know her, and some of them to wish her a cherry good-morning as she
tripped by. It was evident that she was watching for somebody, and that
the somebody did not come. After awhile they began to feel sorry for
her, and finally one of them--Big Bob they called him--resolved to
stroll out to where she was standing that breezy May morning and have a
word with her.

"Be yez watchin' for some one, miss?" he said.

"Yes," answered Courage; "I've been watching a great many days."

"That's what the men was a-noticin', miss. Is it for yer father ye're
lookin'?"

"No, not for him and there was a sadness in her voice which even the big
burly Scotchman was not slow to detect.

"Mayhap ye've no longer a right to be lookin' for him on ony o' this
world's waters," said the man, gazing down sympathetically over the
ledge of his great folded arms.

Courage bit her lip, and the tears sprang into her eyes, but she managed
to answer, "My father died two weeks ago, sir--just two weeks ago
to-day," while the man looked the sympathy he could not speak. "That is
why I am watching for Larry," Courage added.

"For Larry!" he exclaimed. "Is it for Larry Starr ye're watchin'?"

"Why, yes," said Courage, as though she thought any one should have
known that; "do you know him?"

"Of course I do. Every 'longshoreman knows Larry."

"Have you seen him lately?" very eagerly.

"No, not for a twelvemonth; but come to think of it, he often ties up at
this very wharf."

"Yes, often," said Courage; "but it's two months now since he's been
here, and he never stays away so long as that. You don't think"--she
paused a moment, as though afraid to give words to her fears--"you don't
think, do you, that he can have died too, somewhere?"

Poor little Courage! with her mother dead since her babyhood and her
father lately gone from her, no wonder she felt it more than possible
that Larry would never come back.

"Oh, no, miss," said the man reassuringly; "he'd never a-died without
our a-hearin' of it; still, it's some old he's a-gettin', is Larry."

"He's a good strong man yet, though," Courage replied, not willing to
admit the possibility of waning powers in her hero.

"Faith, and I know he's a good man, miss, and no doubt, too, but his
strength will be as his day."

"But you don't know anything about where he is now?" Courage asked
rather hopelessly.

"No, not for this twelvemonth, as I was a-tellin' ye; but like as not
some of the men has heard some word on him. Gang back wi' me and we'll
speir 'em a question or two," whereupon he extended his hand, which
Courage took rather reluctantly, it was such a powerful-looking hand;
but there proved to be nothing rough in the way it closed over the small
brown hand she placed in it. So side by side, in this friendly fashion,
they walked up the dock to where the men were unloading a Southern
steamer.

[Illustration: 0020]

"Has ony o' ye heard a word o' Larry Starr o' late?" called Big Bob, but
in a tone so different from the one in which he had spoken to Courage,
that she gave a little start of surprise, and then hoped he had not seen
it. Most of the men shook their heads in the negative. "Niver a wurrud,"
answered an old Irishman. Indeed, only one of the number made no reply
whatsoever, so that Courage thought he could not have heard. It was his
place to free the huge iron hook from the bales, after they had
been landed on the wharf, and he seemed all absorbed in his work.
Fortunately, however, he had heard, and as he stood watching the hook
as it slowly swung back aboard of the vessel, he called out, "Yes, I has
some word on him, Bob; anybody 'quiring for him?"

"O' course there is, just the verra little leddy what I've here by the
hand. If ye'd eyes worth the name, John, ye'd seen her 'fore this!"

"Oh, is it you, miss?" said John, looking for the first time toward
Courage, and at once recognizing the little girl who had been so long
on the watch. "Well, then, I can tell ye he'll be at this wharf this
day week, certain. The Lady Bird's due here on Friday or Saturday, and
Larry's under contract to carry part of her cargo down to the stores
Monday morning. It's a pity, miss, you hadn't asked me afore, I could
a-told you the same any day back for a fortni't. But run down bright and
early next Monday morn-in', and take my word for it, you'll find Larry's
lighter swinging up to this wharf, as sure as my name's Jack Armstrong."

Courage, meantime, had grown radiant. "Oh, he'll come sooner than that!"
she exclaimed exultingly. "He'll tie up Saturday night and spend Sunday
with us. He always does that when he has work at this pier for Monday."
Then, looking up to Big Bob, she said gratefully, "Thank you very much
for finding out for me. I will run right home now and tell Mary Duff," and
suiting the action to the word, Courage was at the wharf's end and up
the street and out of sight before the slow-moving longshoremen had
fairly settled to work again.

Now that Courage was sure that Larry was coming, as sure as though it
had been flashed across the blue May sky in letters of silver, all the
hours of weary foreboding and waiting were quite forgotten. So true is
it, as Celia Thaxter sings in that peerless song of hers, as brave as
any bird note, and as sweet:=

```"Dark skies must clear, and when the clouds are past,

```One golden day redeems a weary year."=



CHAPTER III.--LARRY COMES.


Strange as it still may appear to you that a little girl should have
Courage for her name, yet, true it is, that she was no sooner named
herself than she had a namesake. It was none of your little baby
namesakes either, but a stanch and well-built boat, and one that was
generally admitted to be the finest craft of her class in the harbor.
The Courage Masterson was what is commonly known as a lighter, and to
whom of course did she belong but to Larry Starr, Hugh Masterson's best
friend; but she was no common lighter, I can assure you. Larry had
given his whole mind to her building, and it was unlike any of the other
lighters that make their way up and down the river or out on the bay,
with their great cumbersome loads. She had a fine little cabin of her
own, a cosey, comfortable cabin, with two state-rooms, if you can give
them so fine a title, opening out of it, and a tiny kitchen beyond,
lighted by a small sky-window. All this, as any one knows, was very
luxurious, but Larry had put the savings of many years into that boat,
and he meant to have it as he liked it. To be sure, the cabin, occupying
as it did some twenty square feet, greatly lessened her carrying
capacity, for one square foot on the deck of a lighter stands for
innumerable square feet of merchandise, which may be piled to almost any
height upon it. Larry was quite willing, however, to lose something from
the profits of every trip for the sake of the added comfort. But it
was six years now since the lighter had been launched, and so it had
happened that all that time, while the little girl Courage had been
having a variety of experiences on land, the big boat Courage had
been sailing under "fair skies and foul" on the water, and safely
transporting many a cargo that netted a comfortable living for Larry.
And now Saturday afternoon had come, and Courage was down in her old
place at the dock's end with a happy certainty in her eyes, and yet with
a sorrowful look overshadowing it, for there was such sad news to be
told when at last Larry should come, and at last he came.

[Illustration: 0025]

Courage first thought she discovered a familiar boat away down the
river, and then in a moment there was no longer a doubt of it. The
lighter, with her one broad sail spread to the wind, came slowly
nearer and nearer, and Courage in her eagerness stood way out on the
farthermost corner of the dock, so that Larry caught sight of her long
before she put her two hands to her mouth, trumpet fashion, and called,
"Hello there, Larry," at the top of her strong little lungs.

"Hello there, Courage," rang back Larry's cheery answer, as leaning hard
against the tiller, he swung his boat into place with the skill of a
long-time sailor.

"I knew you'd find out somehow that I was coming," he called, and then
in another second he was ashore and had Courage's two hands held fast
in his, and was gazing gladly into her face. But instantly the look of
greeting in her eyes faded out of them. She could find no words for the
sad news she had to tell. Larry was quick to see her trouble, and his
voice trembled as he asked, "Why, Courage, child, what has happened?"
and then he drew her to a seat beside him on a great beam that flanked
the wharf.

[Illustration: 0027]

It was easier to speak, now that she could look away from Larry's
expressive face, and she said slowly, "The saddest thing that could
happen, Larry. Papa----" and then she could go no further.

"You don't mean that your father is----" but neither could Larry bring
himself to voice the fatal, four-lettered little word.

"Yes," said Courage, knowing well enough that he understood her, "nearly
three weeks ago. He had typhoid fever, and he tried very hard to get
well, and we all tried so hard, Larry--the Doctor and Mary Duff and
me--but the fever was the kind that wouldn't break. And then one day
papa just said, 'It isn't any use, darling. I'm going to give up the
fight and go to your blessed mother, but you need have never a fear,
Courage, while Larry Starr is in the world.'"

"Did he say that really?" asked Larry, tears of which he was not ashamed
rolling down his bronzed face.

"Yes," said Courage solemnly; "but oh, Larry, I have been waiting here
for so many days that I began to think perhaps you would never come,
and if you hadn't come, Larry--" and then the recollection of all these
hours of watching proved quite too much for her overwrought little
frame, and burying her face in her hands on Larry's knee, she cried very
bitterly.

"It is best," thought Larry, "to let her have her cry out." Besides he
was not sure enough of his own voice to try to comfort her, so he just
stroked the auburn hair gently with his strong hand, and said not a
word. Meanwhile another old friend had come upon the scene, and stood
staring at Larry and Courage with a world of questioning in his eyes.
He seemed to have his doubts at first as to the advisability of coming
nearer. He discovered, it was evident, that there was trouble in the
air. That he was greatly interested, and fully expected to be confided
in sooner or later, was also evident from the beseeching way in which
he would put his head on one side and then on the other, looking up to
Larry, as much as to say, "When are you going to tell me what it is all
about?" But never a word from Larry and never a glance from Courage,
till at last such ignominious treatment was no longer to be borne, and
walking slowly up, he also laid his head upon Larry's knee. Courage
felt something cold against her cheek and started up to find a pair of
wonderfully expressive eyes raised beseechingly to hers. "Oh, Bruce, old
fellow," she cried, "I forgot all about you," and then, flinging her arms
about his neck, she literally dried her tears on his beautiful silky
coat. But Bruce would not long be content with mere passive acceptance
of affection, and in another second rather rudely shook himself free
from her grasp, and began springing upon her, so that she had to jump
to her feet and cry, "Down, Bruce," three or four times before he would
mind her; but Bruce was satisfied. Things could not have come to such a
terrible pass if it took no more than that to make Courage seem her old
self again, and finally, concluding that she really said "Down, Bruce,"
quite as though she meant it, he decided to give his long legs a good
run, and call on an old collie friend of his who picked up a living
on Pier 17. Never, however, had visit of sympathetic friend proved as
timely as this call of Bruce's. With what infinite tact had he first
sympathized with and then tried to cheer his little friend! And he had
succeeded, for both Larry and Courage now found themselves able to talk
calmly of all that had happened, and of what had best be done.

"So you would like to come on the lighter with me for the summer," said
Larry somewhat doubtfully, after they had been conferring for some time
together, and yet with his old face brightening at the thought.

Courage simply nodded her head in the affirmative, but her eyes said,
"Oh, wouldn't I, Larry," as plainly as words.

"And Mary Duff thinks it would be all right, too?"

"The very best thing for the summer, Larry."

"Well then, bless your heart, you shall come; but how about next
winter? Why, then I suppose I shall have to send you away to a school
somewhere."

Courage shrugged her shoulders rather ruefully.

"Perhaps," she said; "but next winter's a long way off."

"That's so," said Larry, every whit as glad of the fact as was Courage
herself. "And you said," he continued, "that Mary Duff is going to care
for that little lame Joe of John Osborne's."

"Yes," Courage answered, "though Mr. Osborne can't afford to pay her
anything, as papa did for me; but she says she doesn't mind; if she only
has her home and her board she can manage, and that it's just her life
to care for motherless little children that need her."

"Ah! but that Mary Duff's a good woman," said Larry, and Courage mutely
shook her head from side to side, as though it were quite hopeless to so
much as attempt to tell how very good she was.

After awhile Larry went down to the boat to give some directions to his
cabin-boy, Dick, and Courage went with him. When that was completed, a
long shrill whistle brought Bruce bounding from some mysterious quarter,
and the three started up the dock. The 'longshoremen were just quitting
work as they neared them, and Larry paused to have a word with Big Bob
and the other men whom he knew, Courage keeping fast hold of his hand
all the while.

"Now she's got him she don't mean to let him go," said one of the men as
they passed on.

"I'd like to be in Larry's shoes, then," muttered Big Bob, who led
rather a lonely life of it, and would have been only too glad to have
had such a little girl as Courage confided to his keeping.


[Illustration: 0033]



CHAPTER IV.--MISS JULIA.


It was "high noon" in New York, as our English cousins say, but in a
wider sense than our English cousins use it. Not only was it twelve by
the clock, with the sun high in the heavens, flooding the streets with
brilliant sunshine, but the whole city apparently was in the highest
spirits. The sidewalks were alive with gayly dressed people, gayly
liveried carriages rolled up and down the avenue, violets and lilacs
were for sale at the flower-stands, and the children were out in crowds
for an airing.

Here a little group of them, with unspeakable longing in their hearts,
surrounded a grimy man who had snow-white puppies for sale; there
another and larger group watched a wonderful ship in a glass case,
riding angular green waves which rose and fell with the regularity of a
pendulum, and some of them furtively glanced up now and then, with eyes
full of astonished admiration, to the gray-bearded man who claims the
honor of the invention.

But notwithstanding it was Saturday, with half the world bent on a
holiday, and schools as a rule at a discount, there was one school
over on the West side that threw open its doors to an eager company of
scholars. It was a school where the children came because they loved to
come, and no wonder. You had only to see the teachers to understand it.
They were lovely-looking girls, with their bright, wide-awake faces and
becoming, well-fitting dresses; enthusiastic, earnest girls, thoroughly
abreast of the times, interested in everything, and fond of all that
is high and ennobling--working in the sewing school this afternoon,
attractive matinées notwithstanding, and talking it over in some bright
circle this evening; girls, the very sight of whom must somehow have
done good to the very dullest little maids upon their roll books.
But queen among even this peerless company reigned "Miss Julia," the
superintendent, or whatever the proper name may be for the head teacher.
She was lovely to look at, and lovely in spirit, and beyond that it is
useless to attempt description, so impossible is it to put into words
the indefinable charm that won every one to her. But with the bright
May Saturday, about which we are writing, the afternoon for closing the
school had come, and there was a wistful expression on the faces of many
of the children. Not that they were exactly anxious to stitch on and
on through the spring-time, when every healthy little body loves
out-of-door life and lots of it, but no sewing school meant no Miss
Julia; so, with reason, they looked less glad than sorry.

Miss Julia, as was her custom, had started in abundance of time from her
old-fashioned home in Washington Square, but not too early, it seemed,
to find at a corner near the chapel where the school was held, half a
dozen little girls already on the look-out. As soon as they spied her
they flocked down the street to meet her, and then with her in their
midst flocked back again. Presently, in twos and threes, the young
teachers began to arrive, and soon it was time to open the school and to
settle down to the last day's lesson.

Courage Masterson happened to be in Miss Julia's own class, and was
ordinarily a most apt little scholar; but on this particular Saturday
her thoughts seemed to be everywhere rather than on her work; indeed,
she had to rip out almost every stitch taken, until Miss Julia wondered
what could have happened. Afterward, when the children had said their
good-byes and gone home, and the teachers, with the exception of
Miss Julia, had all left the building, Courage, who had been standing
unnoticed in one corner, rushed up to her, burying her red-brown curls
in the folds of her dress and sobbing fit to break her heart.

"Why, Courage, dear, what is the matter?" and Miss Julia, sitting down
on one of the benches, drew Courage into her lap. "I was afraid all
the lesson that something had gone wrong. Poor child! have you some new
sorrow to bear?"

"No, Miss Julia; I am going to do just what I want to do most; I am
going to live on a boat; but, oh! I can't bear to go away from you and
Mary Duff."

"Going away, and to live on a boat! why, how is that, Courage?" and then
as Courage explained all the plans, and how she was to spend the whole
summer out on the bay with "Larry, the goodest man that ever was," her
sad little face gradually grew bright again.

"Look here," said Miss Julia, after they had been talking a long while
together, "I am sure"--and then she paused and looked Courage over quite
carefully--- "yes, I am sure I have something that will be just the
thing for you now that you are to be so much on the water; wait here
for a moment," and going into a little room that opened from the chapel,
she immediately returned with something in her hands that made Courage
open her eyes for wonder. It was a beautiful astrachan-trimmed blue
coat, with a wide-brimmed hat to match. They had belonged to a little
niece of Miss Julia's--a little niece who no longer had need for any
earth-made garment, and so here they were in Miss Julia's hands awaiting
some new child-ownership.

She had already thought of Courage Masterson as one to whom they would
prove not only useful but becoming, and yet had feared to excite the
envy of the other children. But if Courage was going away, that settled
it; she should have them; for in that case her less fortunate little
sisters need never be the wiser. So Miss Julia gladly held them up to
view, for she dearly loved little Courage, while Courage, incredulous,
exclaimed: "For me? Oh, Miss Julia!" and proceeded to don the coat and
hat with the alacrity of a little maid appreciative of their special
prettiness. Then what did the little witch do but run post-haste to the
rear of the chapel, mount the high and slippery organ-bench, and have a
peep into the mirror above it. Miss Julia could not keep from smiling,
but said, as she came running back: "It does look nicely on you,
Courage, but you must not let it make you vain, darling."

"Was it vain to want to see how it looked?"

"No, Courage; I don't believe it was."

"I'm glad I did see just once, though, because, Miss Julia, I guess
it will not do for me to have it," and Courage reluctantly began to
unfasten the pretty buttons.

"Not do for you to have it! Why, Courage dear, what do you mean?"

"It is so bright-looking, Miss Julia. Even this curly black stuff
doesn't darken it much (admiringly smoothing the astrachan trimming with
both little hands), and one of the girls said to-day in the class that
'orphans as had any heart always wore black.' At any rate, she said
she shouldn't think if I had loved my father _very_ much I'd wear a gay
ribbon like this in my hair," whereupon Courage produced a crumpled
red bow from the recesses of a pocket to which it had been summarily
banished; "So, of course, Miss Julia, it would be dreadful to wear a
blue coat like this. It's queer Mary Duff newel told me about orphans
wearing black always."

"But they do not always wear it, Courage. It seems sad to me to see a
child in black, and I think Mary Duff did just right in not putting you
into mourning."

"Into mourning?" queried Courage.

"Yes; into black dresses, I mean, because some one had died."

Courage looked critically at Miss Julia, noticing for the first time
that her dress was black, and that even the little pin at her throat was
black, too.

"Why, Miss Julia," she said, her voice fairly trembling with the
surprise of the discovery, "you are in mourning!"

"Yes, Courage."

"And did somebody die, Miss Julia?"

"Some one I loved very much."

"Long ago?" and Courage came close to the low bench, and lovingly laid
her hand upon Miss Julia's shoulder.

"Yes, very long ago."

"Not your father or mother, was it?"

"No, darling."

"And you mind still?" ruefully shaking her head from side to side.

"Yes, Courage; I shall always mind, as you call it, but I am no longer
miserable and unhappy--that is, not very often, and one reason is that
all you little girls here in the school have grown so dear to me. But
about the coat; you must surely keep it. I scarcely believe your father
would like to have seen his little girl all in black; and besides, black
does not seem to belong with that brave little name of yours."

Courage stood gazing into Miss Julia's face with a puzzled look in her
eyes, as though facing the troublesome question. Then suddenly
diving again into her spacious pocket--a feature to be relied upon in
connection with Mary Duffs dressmaking--and evidently discovering
what she sought, she said, eagerly: "Miss Julia, will you wait here a
moment?"

"Certainly, dear; but what are you up to?" Courage, however, had no time
to explain, and with the blue coat flying out behind her, darted from
the chapel, across the street, into a little thread-and-needle store,
and was back again in a flash, carrying a thin flimsy package. Hastily
unwrapping it, she disclosed a yard of black ribbon, which she thrust
into Miss Julia's hands.

"What is this for, Courage?"

In her excitement Courage simply extended her left arm with a "Tie it
round, please," indicating the place with her right hand. Miss Julia
wonderingly did as she was bid.

[Illustration: 0041]

"You tie a lovely bow," said Courage, twisting her neck to get a look
at it. "You know why I have it, don't you?" Miss Julia looked doubtful.
"It's my mourning for papa. I have seen soldiers with something black
tied round their arms because some other soldier had died, haven't you?"

"Oh, that is it," said Miss Julia, very tenderly.

"Yes, that is it; and now you sec I don't mind how bright the coat
is--the little bow tells how I miss him. Will you just take a stitch in
it, please, so that it will stay on all summer?"

So Miss Julia reopened her little sewing-bag, and the stitches were
taken, and a few moments later Courage was on h er way home, proud
enough of the beautiful coat and hat, and eager to show them to Mary
Duff, and yet sad at heart, too, for she had said good-bye to "Miss
Julia."



CHAPTER V.--SYLVIA.


There had been a week of active preparation, and now everything was
ready, and Mary Duff and Courage, seated on a new little rope-bound
trunk, were waiting for Larry to come. The house looked sadly forlorn
and empty, for Mary had sold most of the furniture, that the money it
brought might be put in the bank for Courage, and the only thing yet to
be done was to hand over the keys to the new tenant expecting to take
possession on the morrow. Mary had intentionally arranged matters in
just this fashion. It was not going to be an easy thing to say good-bye
to the little girl she had so lovingly cared for since her babyhood, and
she knew well enough that to come back alone to the old home would half
break her heart; therefore she had wisely planned that it should be
"good-bye" to Courage and "how do you do" to little lame Joe in as
nearly the same breath as possible.

At last there came a knock at the door, and Courage bounded to open it.
Bruce, unmannerly fellow, crowded in first, and after Bruce, Larry, and
after Larry--what? who? A most remarkable-looking object, with tight
curling hair braided fine as a rope into six funny little pig-tails,
with skin but a shade lighter than her coal-black eyes, and with a
stiffly starched pink calico skirt standing out at much the same angle
as the pig-tails. Mary Duff apparently was not in the least surprised at
this apparition, but Courage stared in wide-eyed wonder. "Oh, isn't she
funny?" were the words that sprang to her lips, but too considerate to
give them utterance, she simply asked, "Who is she, Larry?"

"This is Sylvia," said Larry; "Sylvia, this is Miss Courage," whereupon
Sylvia gave a little backward kick with one foot, which she meant to
have rank as a bow.

"And who is Sylvia?" in a friendly voice that went straight to Sylvia's
heart.

"She's to be company for you on the lighter, Courage, and a little maid
of all work besides."

"Spesh'ly I'se to wash up," Sylvia volunteered, beaming from ear to ear.

"What do you mean?" asked Courage, with considerable dignity, seeming to
realize at a bound the relation of mistress and maid.

"Mean dat on boats dere's allers heaps an' heaps to wash up--pots an'
kittles an' dishes an' lan' knows what--an' dat me's de one dat's gwine
do it. A-washin' of demselves is all de washin' dat's 'spected of dose
little lily white han's, Miss Courage, case de Cap'n say so--didn't yer,
Cap'n?" whereupon Sylvia gave a marvellous little pirouette on one foot,
that made pigtails and skirt describe a larger circle than ever.

"Yes, that's what I said," answered Larry, rather taken aback by this
performance, and wondering if he had gotten more than he had bargained
for in this sable little specimen, chosen somewhat at random from the
half dozen presented for his inspection at an asylum the day before. But
Courage had no fears, and saw in anticipation delightful opportunities
for no end of fun, and, when it should be needed, for a little
patronizing discipline. Meanwhile Bruce, who seemed unquestionably
worried as to what sort of a move was pending, had made his way out of
doors, and taken up his stand near the boy who stood in waiting with a
hand-cart, ready to carry the trunk to the boat. When at last the trunk
was in the cart, with Sylvia's bundle atop of it, and it became evident
that the little party were actually on their way to the lighter, his
delight knew no bounds, and he flew round and round after his tail, as a
relief to his exuberant feelings.

Courage kept tight hold of Mary Duff's hand all the way. Of course it
was going to be lovely out on the water all summer, and with Larry; but
oh, how she wished Mary was to be there too! But that always seemed to
be the way somehow--something very nice and something very sad along
with it. Glancing ahead to Sylvia, who, with a jolly little swing of her
own, was trotting along at the side of the cart, steadying her bundle
with a very black hand, Courage wondered if she had found it so too, and
resolved some day to ask her.

The good-byes were said rather hurriedly at the last. Mary Duff first
went down into the cabin with Courage and helped to unpack her trunk.
Then, when finally there was nothing more for her to do, there was just
a good hard hug and two or three very hard kisses, and then you might
have seen a familiar figure disappearing around the nearest corner of
the dock, and Mary Duff was gone. As soon as she was out of sight she
stopped a moment and wiped the tears from her eyes with a corner of her
shawl, for they were fairly blinding her, and then hurried right on
to the little cripple, to whom her coming was to prove the very most
blessed thing that had ever happened. As for Courage, she went to her
own little room and had a good cry there, and though neither of them
knew of the other's tears, the skies soon looked clearer to them both.
But there was one pair of eyes in which tears were not for a moment to
be thought of. Tears! with the great orphan asylum left behind and all
the delights of life on that beautiful boat opening out before her? No
indeed! Let Miss Courage have her little cry out if she must, but
for Sylvia, a face wreathed in smiles so broad as to develop not
unfrequently into an audible chuckle. And so while Courage was trying
to get herself in hand, for she did not want Larry to know how badly she
felt, Sylvia, acting under orders, was as busy as could be, setting the
table in the cabin, and making supper ready in the tiny kitchen.

When Courage again came on deck, the lighter had cleared the wharf and
was well out upon the river. Larry was at the helm, and she made her
way straight to him and slipped her hand in his, as much as to say, "I'm
yours now, you know, Larry," and Larry gave it a tight little squeeze,
as much as to say, "Yes, I know you are, dear," and they understood each
other perfectly, though not a word was spoken.

"Don't you think I had better call you uncle or something instead of
just Larry?" said Courage after she had stood silently at his side for
ever so many minutes.

"Why?" asked Larry, amused at the suggestion.

"Oh, because it doesn't seem right for a child like me to call you by
your first name. I should have thought that they would have taught me
different."

"Oh, bless your heart, Courage! nobody taught you what to call me..You
just took up 'Larry' of yourself in the cutest sort of a way, and before
you could say half-a-dozen words to your name, and now to tack an uncle
on to it after all these years would sound mighty queer, and I shouldn't
like it."

"Well, then, we'll just let it be Larry always," and indeed Courage
herself was more than willing to have things remain as they were. As for
Sylvia, she soon decided that her one form of address for Larry should
be "my Cap'n," for was he not in very truth _her_ captain by grace of
his choice of her from among all the other little colored orphans
whom he might have taken? Indeed, Sylvia fairly seemed to revel in the
two-lettered personal pronoun, for if there is a Saxon word for which
the average institution child has comparatively little use it is that
word _my_. Where children are cared for by the hundreds, _my_ and _me_
and _mine_ and all that savors of the individual are almost perforce
lost sight of. No wonder, then, when Sylvia said "my Cap'n," it was in
a tone implying a most happy sense of ownership, and as though it stood
for the "my father" and "my mother" and all the other "mys" of more
fortunate little children.

At last Sylvia's supper was ready, and before announcing the fact, she
stood a moment, arms akimbo, taking a critical survey of her labors.
Then, convinced that nothing had been forgotten, she cleared the cabin
stairs at a bound, and beckoning to Larry and Courage, called out
excitedly, "Come 'long dis minute, please, 'fore it all gets cold."

Larry, who had many misgivings as to the result of his protegee's first
efforts, was greatly surprised on reaching the cabin to find a most
tempting little table spread out before them, but it was hard to tell
whether surprise or indignation gained the mastery In the eyes of
astonished Courage. That the table looked most attractive no one could
for a moment deny, but what most largely contributed thereto was
a glorious bunch of scarlet geraniums, to compass which Sylvia had
literally stripped a double row of plants standing in the cabin window
of every flower. These plants had been Mary Duff's special pride for
several seasons, and she herself had carefully superintended their
transportation in a wheelbarrow to the lighter the day before.

[Illustration: 0051]

Who could marvel, then, that the tears came unbidden, as Courage at one
glance took in the whole situation--the elaborate decorations, the sadly
despoiled plants.

"Oh, Sylvia, how could you?" was all she found words to say. Poor
Sylvia, never more surprised in her life, stood aghast for a moment,
looking most beseechingly to Larry. Then a possibility dawned upon her.

"Am it dem posies, Miss Courage?" and the question let the light in on
Larry's bewildered mind.

"Of course I mean the flowers," said Courage, laying one hand
caressingly on a poor little dismantled plant. "You have not left a
single one, and I wouldn't have had you pick them for all the world."

"But I was 'bliged to, Miss Courage," with all the aplomb of a
conscientious performance of duty.

"Obliged to?" and then it seemed to occur simultaneously to Larry and
Courage that they had possibly secured the services of a veritable
little lunatic.

"Yes, Miss Courage; hab you neber hearn tell of a kitchen garden?"

"Never," said Courage; and now she and Larry exchanged glances as to the
certainty of Sylvia's mental condition.

"Well, I'se a kitchen-garden grajate," Sylvia announced with no little
pride.

"Bless my stars! if you're not a stark little idiot," muttered Larry
under his breath, but fortunately Sylvia was too absorbed to hear.

"Well, dere ain't much you kin tell a kitchen-garden grajate," she
continued complacently, "'bout setting tables and sich like. Dere's
questions and answers 'bout eberyting, you know, an' when Miss Sylvester
ses, 'What must yer hab in de middle ob de table?' the answer is, 'Fruit
or flowers so as there wasn't no fruit, why--" and Sylvia, pausing
abruptly, gave a little shrug of her shoulders, and with a grandiloquent
gesture, pointed to the geraniums, as though further words were
superfluous.

"Oh, I didn't understand," said Courage, for both she and Larry were
beginning to comprehend the situation, and a little later on, when they
had had time to realize more fully the careful arrangement of the table,
to say nothing of the tempting dishes themselves, they were ready to
pronounce the little lunatic of a few moments previous a veritable
treasure. The ham was done "to a turn;" the fried potatoes were
deliciously crisp; dainty little biscuits fairly melted in your mouth;
the coffee was perfection, and Sylvia sat beaming and radiant, for there
was no lack of openly expressed appreciation.

"What did you say you were, Sylvia?" asked Courage during the progress
of the meal.

"Oh, I didn't say I was nuffin 't all," nervously fearing that in some
unconscious way she might again have offended her new little mistress.

"Yes, you did, don't you know?" pretending not to notice the
nervousness. "It was something nice to be; it began with kitchen."

"Oh, yes," said Sylvia, much relieved, "a kitchen-garden grajate. Want
to see my di-diplomer?" including both Larry and Courage in one glance
as she spoke. Wholly mystified as to what the article might be, both of
course nodded yes, whereupon Sylvia, plunging one little black fist
down the neck of her dress, vainly endeavored to bring something to the
surface.

"It kinder sticks," she explained confidentially, but in another second
a shining medal attached to a blue ribbon came flying out with appalling
momentum. "Dere now," she said, giving a backward dive through the
encircling ribbon, "dat's what I got for larning all dere was to larn."

Courage took the medal and examined it. It was made of some bright
metal, and was stamped with the figure of a girl with a broom in her
hand. Across the top were the words "Kitchen Garden," and on a little
scroll at the bottom the name Sylvia Sylvester.

"Why do they call it a kitchen garden?" asked Courage, passing the medal
on for Larry's inspection; "it's an awful funny name."

"Glory knows! ain't no sense in it, I reckon."

"And that medal," added Courage, "was a sort of a prize for doing things
better than the others, wasn't it?"

"No, Miss Courage, dat's a reg'lar diplomer. All de chillens in de
school had 'em when, dey grajated."

Courage looked appealingly toward Larry, to see if he knew what she
meant, and Larry looked just as appealingly to Courage. The truth was,
Sylvia had the best of them both. To be sure, she used a pronunciation
of her own, but it was near enough to the original to have suggested
graduate and diploma to minds in anywise familiar with the articles.

"And did they teach you to cook in the kitchen garden?" Courage asked,
feeling that she must remain quite hopelessly in the dark regarding the
words in question.

"No, dat was an extry. One ob de lady man'gers, Miss Caxton, teached us
de cookin'. She was a lubly lady--sich a kind face, and sich daisy gray
haar, and allers so jolly. She came twic't a week, case she was dat
fond ob cookin' and liked chillens. She ses black skins didn't make no
difference. One ob dese days I'se gwine to write down for yer all de
dishes what she teached how to cook."

And so the first meal aboard the lighter fared on, and before it was
over Larry made up his mind that as soon as he could afford it he would
send five dollars to the orphan asylum and a letter besides, in which he
would warmly express his approval of an institution that sent its
little waifs out into the world so well equipped for rendering valuable
service.



CHAPTER VI.--ABOARD THE LIGHTER.


It took such a very little while for Courage to feel perfectly
contented and at home on the boat, that she was more than half inclined
to take herself to task for a state of things which would seem to imply
disloyalty to Mary Duff. As for Sylvia, she felt at home from the very
first minute, and was constantly brimming over with delight. Nor was
Larry far below the general level of happiness, for work seemed almost
play with Courage ever at his side. As for Larry's boy, Dick, of a
naturally mournful turn of mind, he too seemed carried along, quite in
spite of himself, on the tide of prevailing high spirits. On more
than one occasion he was known to laugh outright at some of Sylvia's
remarkable performances, though always, it must be confessed, in
deprecatory fashion, as though conscious of a perceptible loss of
dignity. And who would not have been happy in that free, independent
life they were leading! To be sure, there were discomforts. Sometimes,
when the lighter was tied to a steaming Wharf all day, the sun would
beat mercilessly down upon them, but then they could always look forward
to the cool evening-out upon the water; and so happily it seemed to be
in everything--a hundred delights to offset each discomfort. Even for
Larry and Dick, when work was hardest and weather warmest, there was
a sure prospect of the yellow pitcher of iced tea, which Courage never
failed to bring midway in the long morning, and then at the end of the
day the leisurely, comfortable dinner, for they were quite aristocratic
in their tastes, this little boat's company.

[Illustration: 0057]

No noon dinner for them, with Larry in workaday clothes and the stove
in the tiny kitchen piping its hottest at precisely the hour when its
services could best be dispensed with, but a leisurely seven-o'clock
dinner, with the lighter anchored off shore, and when, as a rule, Dick
also had had time to "tidy up," and could share the meal with them. And
in this, you see, they were not aristocratic at all. Even little black
Sylvia had a seat at one side of the table, which she occupied as
continuously as her culinary duties would admit.

One night, when Larry stood talking to a friend on the wharf, Courage
and Sylvia overheard him say, "They're a darned competent little pair, I
can tell you." Now, of course, this was rather questionable English for
a respectable old man like Larry, but he intended it for the highest
sort of praise, and the children could hardly help being pleased.

"Larry oughtn't to use such words," said Courage.

"But den I specs he only mean dat we jes' knows how to do tings," said
Sylvia apologetically; and as that was exactly what Larry did mean, we
must forgive him the over-expressive word; besides they were, in point
of fact, the most competent pair imaginable.

Early every morning, when near the city, Dick would bring the lighter
alongside a wharf, and Courage and Sylvia would set off for the nearest
market, Sylvia carrying a basket, and always wearing a square of bright
plaid gingham knotted round her head. There was no remembrance for her
of father or of mother, or of much that would have proved dear to her
warm little heart, but tucked away in a corner of her memory were faint
recollections of a Southern fish market, with the red snapper sparkling
in the morning sunlight, and the old mammies, in bandana turbans, busy
about their master's marketing; and as though to make the best of this
shadowy recollection, Sylvia insisted upon the turban accompaniment to
the basket.

[Illustration: 0060]

Then, after the marketing, came the early breakfast; and after that, for
Courage, the many nameless duties of every housekeeper, whether big
or little; and for Sylvia the homelier tasks of daily recurrence; but
fortunately she did not deem them homely. Why should she, when pretty
Miss Sylvester, as perfect a lady as could be, herself had taught her
how to do them, every one? Nor was this work, so dignified by the manner
and method of teaching, performed in silence. Every household task had
its appropriate little song, and the occasions were rare on which Sylvia
did not make use of them.=

``"Washing dishes, washing dishes, suds are hot, suds are hot,

``Work away briskly, work away briskly, do not stop, do not stop,"=

was the refrain that would greet the ear first thing after breakfast,
followed by=

```"First the glasses, rinse them well, rinse them well,

```If you do them nicely, all can tell, all can tell,"=

and so on _ad infinitum_.

Then, after everything had been gotten into "ship-shape" condition, came
the mending, of which there seemed to be an unending supply. Tarry and
Dick were certainly very hard on their clothes, and when, once a week,
Dick brought the heaping basketful aboard from the washer-woman, who
lived at the Battery, Courage and Sylvia knew that needles and thimbles
would need to be brought into active requisition.

Then, in odd hours, there was studying and reading, and whenever they
could manage it, a little visit to be paid to Mary Duff. In addition
to all this, Courage had taken upon herself one other duty, for big,
fifteen-year-old Dick did not so much as know his letters. He one day
blushingly confessed the fact to Courage, who indeed had long suspected
it, with tears in his honest blue eyes. Dick's mother--for that is what
she was, though most unworthy of the name--had shoved him out of the
place he called home when he was just a mere slip of a lad, and since
then it had been all he could manage simply to make a living for
himself, with never a moment for schooling. But a happier day had
dawned. No sooner was Courage assured of his benighted condition than
she won his everlasting gratitude by setting about to mend it. Their
first need, of course, was a primer, and they immediately found one
ready to the hand, or rather to the _eye_, for it could not be treated
after the fashion of ordinary primers.

There were only seven letters in it, five capitals and two small ones,
and the large letters were fully ten feet high. It did not even commence
with an A, but C came first, and then R; then another R, followed by
a little o and a a little f; and after that a large N and a large J.
Indeed, C. R. R. of N. J. was all there was to it, for the letters were
painted on a depot roof that happened to be in full sight on the evening
when Dick commenced his lessons. And so Dick finally mastered the entire
alphabet by the aid of the great signs in the harbor, and do you think
they ever rendered half such worthy service?

This, then, was the story of the uneventful days as they dawned one
after the other, until at last May yielding place to June, and June to
July, Saturday, the first day of August, came in by the calendar, ran
through its midsummer hours, and then sank to rest in the cradle of a
wonderful sunset. It was such a sunset as sometimes glorifies the bay
and the river, and will not be overlooked. Long rays of gold and crimson
shot athwart even the narrowest and darkest cross streets of the city,
compelling every one who had eyes to see and feet to walk upon to come
out and enjoy its beauty; while a blaze of light, falling full upon the
myriad windows of Brooklyn Heights, suggested the marvellous golden city
of the Revelation. Full in the wake of all this glory, and just to the
southeast of Bedloe's Island, Larry had moored the lighter. It was a
favorite anchorage with all the little boat's company.

[Illustration: 0064]

"The Statue of Liberty", standing out so grandly against the western sky,
and with the light of her torch shining down all night upon them, seemed
always a veritable friend and protector.

To-morrow, perhaps, they would touch at Staten Island, and locking the
cabin, "all hands" repair to a little church they loved well at New
Brighton; or, should it prove a very warm day, they might have a little
service of their own on board instead, sailing quite past the church and
as far down the bay as the Bell Buoy.

But for the present there was nothing to be done but watch the sun set,
so they sat together in the lee of the cabin, silently thinking their
own thoughts as the sun went down. Courage had on the blue coat and hat,
and from the wistful look in her eyes, might easily have been thinking
of Miss Julia. Larry sat looking at Courage more, perhaps, than at the
sunset, and his face was grave and sad. Courage had noticed that it had
often been so of late, and wondered what could be the trouble. After
awhile Larry slowly strolled off by himself to the bow of the boat, and
Courage gazed anxiously after him; then, turning to Dick, she said with
a sigh, "We had better have a lesson now, Dick."

"Ay, ay," answered Dick, always glad of the chance.

"It's too dark for a book," Courage added, "but there's a good sign;"
whereupon Dick set himself to master two large-lettered words over on
the Jersey shore, one of which looked rather formidable.

"Begin with the last word, Dick. You've had it before."

"D-o-c-k--dock, of course."

"Now the first word. Try to make it out yourself."

Dick shrugged his shoulders, for it was rather a jump to a word of three
syllables, but success at last crowned his efforts. "National Docks!" he
exclaimed, with the delight of unaided discovery, feeling as though the
attainment had added a good square inch to his height. Then came another
sign with the one word Storage, but that was easy, for "Prentice Stores"
had been achieved the day before off the Brooklyn warehouses, and it was
only a step from one word to the other. Finally, when there were no new
signs to conquer, Courage began a sort of review, from memory, of all
they had been over. In the midst of it Sylvia suddenly ran to the side
of the boat, arched one black hand over her eyes that she might see the
more clearly, and then flew back again.

"Dat horrid statue boy is comin'," she cried excitedly; "I thought
it looked like him, an' if onct he gets a foot on dis boat he'll keep
comin', he will; I knowed him."

"I don't see that you can help it, though," laughed Courage; "you can't
tell him that we just don't want to have anything to do with him."

Sylvia looked perplexed, but only for a moment; then, indulging in one
of those remarkable pirouettes with which she was accustomed to announce
the advent of a happy thought, she ran back again to the boat's edge.

Meanwhile every dip of the oars was bringing the objectionable boy
nearer, and a horrid boy he was, if one may be permitted to speak quite
honestly. Dick and Sylvia had made his undesirable acquaintance one
evening when Larry had sent them to the island to learn the right time.
He was the son of one of the men employed to care for the statue, and
was, alas! every whit as disagreeable in manners as in looks, which is
not to put the case mildly.

"Hello, Miss Woolly-head!" he called, bringing his boat to the lighter's
side, and tossing a rope aboard, which Miss Woolly-head was supposed to
catch, but didn't, so that the boat veered off again.

"What's the name of your little missus?" called the boy, apparently not
in the least nonplussed by his rather chilling reception. The knowledge
that Sylvia had a little "missus" had been obtained by means of several
leading questions which had characterized the young gentleman's first
interview with Sylvia and Dick, and which they had regarded as the very
epitome of rudeness.

"Dis yere lighter is called for my missus," said Sylvia, "so you kin
jes' read her name dere on de do' plate," pointing to the lettering at
the bow of the boat, "an den again, mebbe you can't," she chuckled.

It looked as though the statue boy "couldn't," for he did not so much
as glance toward the bow, as he added, "Well, it's your missus I want to
see, and not you, you little black pickaninny."

"Dat's all right, sah," and Sylvia folded her arms aggressively, "but
you can't see her."

"Ain't she in?"

"Yes, she's in, but she begs to be excuged." This last in the most
impressive manner possible.

Dick and Courage, who were sitting just out of sight, looked at
each other and almost laughed outright. What remarkable phrases
Sylvia seemed always to have at her tongue's end! Indeed, Dick did
not know at all what was meant by the fine phrase, but fortunately the
statue boy did--that is after a moment or two of reflection.

"So she don't want to see me," he said, sullenly adjusting his oars with
considerable more noise than was necessary; "well, no more then do I
want to see her. I ain't no mind to stay where I ain't wanted, but I
reckon it's the last time you'll be 'lowed to anchor your old scow over
the line without there being a row about it," and with this parting
rejoinder their would-be caller beat a welcome retreat.

"Oh, Sylvia, how did you happen to think to say that?" laughed Courage.

"Why, dat's what you must allers say when anybody calls. Dey teached it
in a game in de Kitchen Garden. We all stood up in a ring, an' a girl
came an' knocked on yer back and axed, 'Is Mis' Brown to home?' Den you
turn roun' an' say, 'Mis' Brown are to home, but begs to be excuged,'
and den it was yer turn to be de caller and knock on some other girl's
back."

"But, Sylvia, if Mrs. Brown wanted to see the caller what would you
say?"

"I don' prezachly recommember. I mos'ly likes de excuged one de bes'."

Meantime Dick made his way to Larry.

"Did you know we were anchored inside the line?" he said. Larry stood
up to take his bearings. "Why, so we are," with evident annoyance, for
Larry prided himself on his observance of harbor rules.

[Illustration: 0071]

"And I guess we've done it before," added Dick; "the boy from the island
there said it would be the last time we'd be 'lowed to do it."

"And it ought to be," for Larry was thoroughly out of patience with
himself; "we'll show 'em we meant to obey orders anyway. Let go her
anchor, Dick," and then in a moment the big sail, that had been furled
for the night, was spread to the wind once more, and the Courage
Masterson was running out upon the bay, that she might swing in again
and anchor at the proper distance from the island.

"What's up, I wonder," said Sylvia, starting to her feet when she felt
the lighter in motion. "Oh, I know; Dick's told Larry we were anchored
too near," and she settled down again in the most comfortable position
imaginable, on the rug beside Courage.

"Tell me, Sylvia, what is your other name?" Courage asked after a little
pause; "I've been meaning to ask you this ever so long. I think it was
on the medal, but I do not remember it."

"Sylvester," said Sylvia complacently, smoothing out her gingham apron.
"Sylvy Sylvester; dose two names hitch togedder putty tol'ble, don't
dey, Miss Courage?"

"Yes, they go beautifully together; that's why you're named Sylvia, of
course."

Sylvia shook her head. "No, dat's why I'se named Sylvester." Courage
looked puzzled. "I'se named arter Miss Sylvester, one ob de Kitchen
Garden ladies."

"But, Sylvia, children can only have their first names given to them;
they're born to their last names."

"Dis chile wa'nt, Miss Courage; leastways nobody didn't know at de
'sylum what name I was bawn to, cep'n jes' Sylvy, so I picked mine out
mysel'. One day I went to Miss Sylvester an' sez, kind o' mischievous,
'How do yer like yer namesake?' 'Ain't got none, Sylvy,' sez she. 'Yes
you hab,' I done told her. 'It's ten year old an' its black, but I hope
yer don't mind, 'case it's me.' An' she didn't mind a bit, jes' as I
knowed she wouldn't, and she sez some beautiful 'things 'bout as I mus'
'allers be a honor to the name, an' arter dat she gimme two books,
wid Sylvy Sylvester wrote into 'em, from her everlastin' friend an'
well-wisher, Mary Sylvester. Youse done seen dose two books on my
table, Miss Courage. One's called--" but the sentence was not finished.
Something happened just then that made both children spring to their
feet and hold their breath for fear of what was coming. A few minutes
before they had noticed that one of the large Sandy Hook boats seemed
to be bearing down upon them, and that to all appearances they were
directly in her track. But their faith in Larry was supreme. He would
surely manage to get out of the way in time, but alas! they were
mistaken, for the great boat came looming up like a mountain beside
them, and in another second there was a deafening, heart-sickening
crash, and splintering of timbers. Sylvia gave one piercing, terrified
scream, while she and Courage clung as for their lives to the coping of
the cabin roof. And indeed it was a terrible moment. The force of the
collision sent the lighter careening so much to one side that it seemed
for an instant hopeless that she could possibly right herself; and oh!
low frightful to go down, down into that cruel dark water; but then in
another instant she swung violently to the other side, and they knew
that the danger of capsizing was over, though the boat was still rocking
like a cradle. Then they saw the captain of the St. Johns come hurrying
to the deck-rail, and heard him angrily call out, "Man alive there, are
you drunk?"

"No, I'm not drunk," Larry answered, from where he stood, pale and
trembling, leaning heavily against the tiller.

"Not drunk? Then you're too green a hand to be minding a helm in salt
water. Only for our reversed engines you'd not have a shingle under
you."

Larry made no reply; Courage, still holding Sylvia by the hand, looked
daggers at the man. To think of any one daring to speak like that to
good old Larry. Of course he was not the one to blame, and but that the
two boats were fast drifting apart, she would then and there have told
the St. Johns' captain what she thought of him. Just at this moment
Courage noticed a lady and gentleman on the rear deck of the steamer.
She saw the lady give a start of surprise and speak hurriedly to
the gentleman, who immediately called in as loud a voice as he could
command, "What is your name, little girl? Tell me quickly." He meant
Courage, and Courage knew that he did; but Sylvia not so understanding
it, a confusion of sounds smote the air, of which a shrill little Syl
was all that could by any chance be distinguished; then in a second
they were all hopelessly out of hearing of each other, and the big boat
steamed on to her pier, none the worse for the encounter save for a
great ugly scar on her white-painted bow.

But alas! for Larry's lighter. Although she was still sound as a nut
below the water's edge, above it she looked as though a cyclone had
struck her. And so it was a subdued though a thankful little company
that stowed themselves away in their berths an hour or so later, after
the boat had again been brought to anchor, and they had had time to talk
everything over. But there was one pillow that lay unpressed that night.
With his mind full of anxiety, bed was out of the question for Larry,
and for hours he slowly paced the deck; at least, it seemed hours to
Courage, as she lay awake in her little state-room, counting his steps
as he went up and down, until she knew precisely at just what number
he would turn. She had first tried very hard to go to sleep. She had
listened to the water quietly lapping the boat's side, imagining it a
lullaby, but the lullaby proved ineffectual. At last she pulled back the
curtain from the little window over her berth, so that the light from
the statue might stream in upon her, entertaining a childish notion
that she might perhaps sort of blink herself to sleep; but all in vain.
Finally she heard Larry come into the cabin and apparently stop there.
Why didn't he go on into his state-room, she wondered. When she could
stand it no longer, she put on her wrapper and slippers, and stole out
into the cabin. The little room, lighted by Liberty's torch, was bright
as her own, and Larry sat at the table, his head bowed upon his folded
arms. Courage went close to him, and putting out one little hand, began
softly to stroke his gray hair. Larry did not start as she touched him,
so she knew he must have heard her coming.

[Illustration: 0076]

"Do you feel so very sorry about the lighter, Larry?" she asked
anxiously; "will it take such a great lot of money to mend it?"

Larry did not raise his head, but it seemed to Courage that a sob, as
real as any child's, shook his strong frame.

"Please, Larry, speak to me," Courage pleaded, and feeling her two hands
against his face, Larry suffered her to lift it up. Yes, there were
tears in his eyes. Courage saw them and looked right away--even to
the child there was something sacred in a strong man's tears--but she
slipped on to his knee, nestled her head on his shoulder, and then
said, in the tenderest little voice, "It isn't just the accident, is it,
Larry? Something's been troubling you this long while. Please tell me
what it is. Don't forget about my name being Courage, and that p'r'aps I
can help you."

The words fell very sweetly upon Larry's ear, and he drew her closer to
him, but she could feel him slowly move his head from side to side, as
though it were hopeless to look for help from any quarter. Suddenly
a dreadful possibility flashed itself across her mind, and sitting
upright, she said excitedly, "You're not going to die, Larry? Say it
isn't _that_, quick, Larry!"

"No, darling, it isn't that," Larry hastened to answer, deeply touched
by the agony in her voice, "but it's almost worse than dying;
I'm going--" and then the word failed him, and he passed his hand
significantly across his eyes.

"Not _blind_, Larry?" yet instantly recalling, as she spoke, many a
little incident that confirmed her fears.

"Yes, blind, Courage; that's the way it happened to-night. It was all my
fault. I couldn't rightly see."

"But, Larry, hardly any one could see, it was getting so dark."

"Courage, darling," Larry said tenderly, "it's been getting dark for me
for a year. I shall never sail a boat again. They told me in the spring
that I wasn't fit for it, but then I found you'd set your heart on being
on the water with me, and so, with Dick's eyes to help, I thought I
could manage just for the summer; but it's all over now, and it's plain
enough that I've got to give in."

And so Larry has done all this for her. At first Courage cannot speak,
but at last she contrives to say, in a tearful, trembling voice, "Try
not to mind, Larry. If you'll only let me take care of you, it won't
matter at all whether we live on the water or not. I can be happy
any-where with you."

And Larry is in no small degree comforted. How could it be otherwise
with that loyal child-heart standing up to him so bravely in his trial!
And finally he tells Courage of a plan, that has come into his mind, to
spend the remainder of the summer in the queerest little place that
ever was heard of, and he proceeds to describe the little place to her.
Courage is delighted with the scheme, and they talk quietly about it
for ever so long, till after awhile, right in the midst of a sentence,
Courage drops asleep on Larry's shoulder. Then, rather than disturb
her, Larry sits perfectly motionless, and at last the noble gray head,
drooping lower and lower, rests against the red-brown curls, and Larry
is also asleep, while across them both slants a band of marvellous light
from the torch of the island statue.



CHAPTER VII.--"THE QUEEREST LITTLE PLACE."


It's mos' as nice as de boat, an' eber so much like it," said Sylvia.

"Yes, most as nice," Courage conceded, "and the next best thing for a
man like Larry, who's lived all his life on the water. It looks a sight
better than when we came, doesn't it? But hush! Look, Sylvia; isn't that
a bite? Have the net ready."

And Sylvia had the net ready, and in another second a great sprawling
crab was landed in the boat beside them, for you must know that mistress
and maid are out crabbing on the South Shrewsbury, and are meeting with
much better luck than is generally experienced in midsummer weather.
Directly over their heads is the queer little place that has recently
become their home. That chink there is in the floor of Sylvia's
carpetless room, and those wisps of straw are sticking through from
Bruce's kennel. To be sure, you have heard nothing of that young
gentleman since the day when Courage dried her tears on his coat, but
that is only because there have been more important things to tell
about. He has, however, been behaving in the most exemplary manner all
the while, and has been, as always, Larry's constant companion.

As for the queer little place, you have probably never seen anything at
all like it, unless, as is possible, you have chanced to see this very
little place itself. It is a house, of course, but wholly unlike other
houses. It has several rooms, but they are all strung along in a row,
and boasts neither attic nor cellar. There is water under it and water
on every side of it; in short, it is on the drawbridge that spans the
river between Port-au-Peck and Town Neck, and is what I presume may be
called a draw-house. Of the many bridges spanning the inlets threading
all that region of sea-board country, this South Shrewsbury Bridge is by
far the longest, and therefore the most pretentious.

[Illustration: 0081]

The draw, to accommodate the channel of the river, has been placed near
the southern end, while at either end of it on the main bridge are gates
that swing to for the protection of teams when the draw itself is open.
The house also stretches its length along the main bridge toward its
southern end.

From the day when the ice goes out of the river to the day when it
locks it in again it is David Starr's home, and David is Larry Starr's
brother. David's wife has been dead these many years; all his children
are married and settled; and David, not wishing, as he says, "to be
beholden to ony of 'em," minds the South Shrewsbury draw. For nine
months or thereabouts he stays on the bridge, and then, while the river
is ice-bound, retreats to a little house on the main-land, living quite
by himself all the while.

And this is the place to which Larry has come with Courage and Sylvia,
and lonely old David is glad enough to see them, particularly as Larry
proposes to pay a snug little sum weekly, by way of board.

What they will do when cold weather sets in Larry has not yet decided;
he fully expects, however, to send Courage to school somewhere in the
city, if it take half his savings to do it; but for Larry himself, alas!
the darkness is settling down more and more surely. Meantime, Courage
and Sylvia do all in their power to cheer him, and everybody, Larry
included, tries hard not to think of the on-coming blindness. As for
Larry's cabin-boy, Dick, he could not, unfortunately, be included in
this new plan, but Courage, at Larry's dictation, wrote him a most
promising sort of a reference, and one which succeeded in obtaining him
just as promising a situation. And there was one other important matter
attended to before they all took final leave of Dick and the dear old
lighter. Larry painted out her name from the bow with the blackest
of black paint. He would sell his boat if he must, but the Courage
Masterson, never!

But while I have been telling you all this, Courage and Sylvia, their
crabbing concluded, have tied their boat to the shore, and with a
well-filled basket swinging between them, are coming down the bridge.
Over against the house Larry sits in the sunshine, smoking his pipe,
that is now more of a comfort than ever, and with Bruce at his feet.
He hears the children and knows their tread almost the instant they
set foot on the roadway, his good old ears seeming kindly bent on doing
double service.

"Any luck?" he calls out, as soon as he reckons them within speaking
distance.

"Yes, twelve big ones," answers Sylvia; "but Lor'! Ise don' know nuffin
'bout how to cook things what's alive to start with."

"David'll tell you how to manage," laughs Larry, and just then a
carriage, crossing over the bridge, comes close upon them. Courage
instinctively glances over her shoulder, and straightway dropping her
end of the basket, cries out, with what little remaining breath surprise
has left her, "Why, Miss Julia!"

"Why, Courage, dear, _where_ did you come from?" and instantly the
phaeton is brought to a standstill, and Courage bounds into it, and then
there is the report of a kiss loud enough to have started any save the
most discriminating of ponies on the wildest of gallops.

"But I thought you were to be on a boat all summer!" exclaims Miss Julia
the next minute.

"Yes, I was, but--" and then, feeling that there is something even
more important than an immediate explanation, Courage bounds out of
the carriage again, that she may lead Larry to Miss Julia, and they of
course shake hands very heartily, as two people should who have heard so
much of each other. Then Larry and Courage between them explain matters,
and Miss Julia in turn tells of her summer home, but a mile away on the
Rumson Road, and of how very often she drives over the Shrewsbury Draw.

Meanwhile poor Sylvia has been having an anxious time of it. When
Courage so unceremoniously dropped her end of the basket, several of the
crabs went scrawling out of it, and, as you know, there is nothing more
lively than a hard-shell crab, struggling with all its might to regain
its native element. But with the aid of Miss Julia's man, who has sprung
down from the rumble to help her, Sylvia does succeed in recapturing
four of the runaways, not, alas! however, before two beauties have
succeeded in gaining the edge of the bridge, and in plumping themselves
back into the water with a splash that must have consumed with envy the
hearts of their less fortunate fellows.

At last it is time for Sylvia to be introduced, and, as usual, her
beaming face expresses her satisfaction. Then there is a general
chatting for a little while longer, in which each bears a hand.

"And how pretty you have made it all!" says Miss Julia, taking up the
reins, preparatory to driving on. "I never should have known the place,
with the dainty dimity curtains at the windows and these starch boxes
full of plants along the rail here; such nice old-fashioned plants,
too--geraniums and lemon verbena and that little low plant with the
funny name--oh, yes, I remember--portulaca. How long has it taken you to
work such a transformation, Courage?"

"Only a week, Miss Julia. We came down last Monday; but then Sylvia and
I have worked pretty hard."

"Of course you have. You're a pair of regular wonder-working fairies,
you and your faithful Sylvia. And now I must say good-bye, but not until
Larry promises that you shall come, both of you, and spend day after
to-morrow with me. I will send John down for you, with the ponies,
bright and early, and we'll have such a day of it."

Larry promised, Miss Julia drove on, and the children looked a delight
which was, in very truth, unspeakable.



CHAPTER VIII.--COURAGE DOES IT.


Really, I believe it's nicer than being on the boat."

"Yes," responded Sylvia, with a supreme faith in any assertion that
Courage might choose to make; "but why?"

"Because we have the fun of living out on the water, and Miss Julia
besides."

"Oh, yes, to be sure!" half ashamed to have ventured so obvious a
question.

Miss Julia besides! No one could imagine what those three little words
meant to Courage. It was a delight in itself simply to waken in the
morning, and know that before night Miss Julia would probably come
riding over on her beautiful "Rex" or driving the gray ponies, or if not
to-day, then to-morrow. Whenever she came she would stop for a chat, and
more likely than not bring with her some little gift from the wonderful
place on the Rumson--a plant from the greenhouse, a golden roll of
delicious butter, or just a beautiful flower or two that her own hands
had picked in the garden. And so the summer was crowned for Courage by
the happy accident of nearness to Miss Julia, and the only sad moments
were when, now and then, a great longing for her father surged over
her, or when the realization of Larry's ever-increasing blindness
pressed heavily down upon even her buoyant spirit.

[Illustration: 8089]

As for life on the draw, the days slipped by as uneventfully as on
the lighter, though no doubt they were more monotonous. There were no
morning trips through the busy streets to market (David had all their
supplies sent over from Red Bank), and nothing, of course, of the
ever-changing life of the harbor; but the children were more than
contented. Sylvia was never so happy as when at work, and somehow or
other there always seemed to be plenty of work for the little black
hands to do. But, it must be confessed, there were times when Courage
did find the days rather dull--times when she did not feel quite like
reading or studying, and when she could think of nothing that needed to
be done. There was one recreation, however, that always served to add
a zest to the quietest sort of a day. Every clear afternoon, somewhere
between four and six o'clock, she would don the pretty blue hat, and
when it was anywise cool enough the blue coat, too--for she loved to
wear it--and then go out and perch herself safely somewhere on the top
of the bridge rail and with her back to the sun, should he happen to
be shining. Then in a little while some of her friends, out for their
afternoon drive, would be pretty sure to come crossing the bridge, and
though possibly lacking the time to stop for a chat, would at least
exchange a few cheery words as they perforce walked their horses over
the draw. I say some of her friends, for already there were many of
them, for people could hardly escape noticing the pretty little house
and the kind-faced, halfblind old man sitting in the door-way, or
failing these, the little girl in the handsome blue coat and hat. Some
had either guessed or found out the meaning of the black bow on the
sleeve, and ever afterward seemed to regard her with an interest close
bordering on downright affection. Indeed, in one way and another, the
household on the draw became known far and wide, and strangers sometimes
driving that way for no other reason than to see the beautiful little
girl with the remarkable name, were disappointed enough if they did not
chance to come across her; but of this far-reaching notoriety Courage
fortunately never so much as dreamed.

And so the days fared on much as I have described until there came an
evening when something happened. It was an evening early in October, and
our little party sitting down to their six o'clock supper were every one
in a particularly happy frame of mind. The sun had gone down in a blaze
of gold and crimson, and the river, which is wide enough below the
bridge to be dignified as a bay, lay like a mirror reflecting the
marvellous color. Later, when the twilight was fusing all the varying
shades into a fleecy, wondrously tinted gray; a brisk little breeze
strode up from the west, and instantly the water rose in myriad tiny
waves to meet it, and each wave donned a "white-cap," as in honor of its
coming.

Low down on the horizon the veriest thread of a new moon was paying
court to the evening star, that was also near its setting, but both
still shone out with more than common brilliancy through the early
evening air. Here, then, was one cause for the generally happy feeling,
and another, no doubt, lay in the all-pervading cheeriness of the little
home. Humble and small it was, to be sure, but there was comfort, and
plenty of it, on every side--comfort in the mere sight of the daintily
set table; comfort of a very substantial kind in the contents of the
shining teapot, in the scrambled eggs sizzling away in a chafing-dish,
which Sylvia had cleverly concocted, and, above all, in the aroma,
as well as in the taste, of the deliciously browned toast. People who
chanced to come driving over glanced in at the cosey, lamp-lighted
table, caught a whiff of the savory odors, and then the moment they were
off the draw urged on their horses in elusive hope of finding something
as inviting at home. During the progress of the meal, and while Sylvia,
who was an inimitable little mimic, was giving a lisping impersonation
of one of the teachers at the Asylum, a carriage rolled rapidly by, and
some one called, "Hello there, Courage!" Quickly recognizing the voice,
Courage rushed out-of-doors, almost upsetting the table in her eagerness,
but even then Miss Julia was a long way past, having actually trotted
her ponies right over the draw itself in most unprecedented fashion.
This was a grave offence in David's eyes, and Courage, retaking her seat
at the table, wondered what he would have to say about it.

"Miss Julia must have been in a great hurry," she ventured.

"Yes, a ten-dollar hurry," growled David.

"Oh, you won't fine her!" Courage exclaimed, alarmed at the mere thought
of anything so ungracious; "she just couldn't have been thinking."

"Well, then, we'll just teach her how to think;" but Sylvia, quite
sure that she detected a lack of determination in David's tone, said
complacently, "Neber you fear, Miss Courage. Mr. David don' sure nuff
mean what he sez, I reckon," whereupon Mr. David shook his head, as much
as to say, "Well, he rather guessed he did," but Courage saw with relief
that there really was nothing to fear. After supper Larry and David took
a turn on the bridge while the table was being cleared, and then coming
back to the little living-room, Courage read aloud for an hour from one
of Sylvia Sylvester's namesake books. It chanced to be the incomparable
story of "Alice in Wonderland," and David and Larry were as charmed as
the little folk themselves. At nine o'clock the book was laid away and
Larry went directly to bed. Courage and Sylvia hurried into coats and
hats for a run in the bracing night air, and David, stopping first to
light his pipe, followed them out onto the bridge. All three found to
their surprise that the sky had grown suddenly lowering and overcast,
while the breeze of the twilight was fast stiffening to a vigorous west
wind.

[Illustration: 0094]

"We're in for a blow, I'm thinkin'," said David, looking down-river,
with the children standing beside him, "and, bless me! there isn't a
star to be seen. Who'd a-thought it after that sunset."

Courage, seeing something in the distance, paid no attention to this
last remark. "Mr. David, what's that?" she exclaimed, pointing in the
direction in which she had been gazing.

"Sure it looks like a sail, Courage. Can it be that they're wantin'
to get through, I wonder? What's a boat out for this time o' night,
anyhow?" Then for several minutes all was silent.

"Listen," said Sylvia at last; "doesn't that sound like rowing?"

"Yes it do," said David, after listening intently, his hand to his ear.
"I thought it didn't 'pear just like a sail-boat; howsomever, there's a
white thing dangling to it that looks--" but here David was interrupted
by a coarse voice calling out, "Hello there! Open the draw, will you?"

"Hello there!" David answered; "but what'll I open it for? Ye're rowin',
aren't ye?"

"Yes, we're rowing to gain time, but there's a sail to the boat as plain
as daylight, isn't there? Now hurry, man alive, and do as you're told;
we've sprung aleak."

"Sprung aleak! Then ye're fools not to make straight for the shore,"
reasoned David.

"That's our lookout; but for land's sake! open the draw, instead of
standing there talking all night," and David, realizing that there may
be danger for the men in longer parleying, puts his hand to the lever,
hurriedly dispatching the children to close the gates at either end;
and away they fly, eager to render a service often required of them when
there was need for special expedition. Indeed, one can but wonder how
David sometimes managed when alone, and a boat tacking against the wind
had need to make the draw at precisely the right moment.

But to-night it happens that he is in too great haste, and while yet
several yards from the gate, Courage, with horror, feels the draw
beginning to move under her. "Wait," she calls back to David, but her
voice is weak with fear, and her feet seemed weighted. Oh, if she cannot
reach the end in time to make the main bridge and close the gate, and
some one should come driving on in the darkness, never seeing that
the draw was open! At last she is at the edge, but only the tenth of a
second more and it will be too late to jump. Shall she try it? It will
be taking a dreadful risk. She may land right against the rail, be
thrown back into the water, and no one know in time to hasten to her
rescue. She hesitates. _No_--and then _yes_, for an instantly deciding
thought has come to her.

The draw swings clear of the bridge. The men in the boat, grumbling at
everything, pad-die clumsily through, while over the other gate, reached
barely in time, Sylvia hangs breathless and trembling. At the same
moment with Courage, she, too, felt the draw begin to move, but luckily
chanced to be nearer her goal. Meanwhile, where is Courage? Not in the
water, thank God, but prone upon the bridge above it, lying just where
she fell when, as she jumped, the rail of the draw struck her feet and
threw her roughly down upon it. She feels terribly jarred and bruised,
and tries in vain to lift herself up. But, hark! is that the sound of
horses on the road? Yes, surely, and they are coming nearer; and
now they are on the bridge, and the gate--the gate is open. With one
superhuman effort she struggles to her feet, reaches out for it, and
swings it to. Then, leaning heavily against the rail, she utters one
shrill, inarticulate scream. There is another scream almost as shrill in
answer, and instantly a pair of ponies, brought to an alarmingly sudden
standstill, rear high in the air beside her, and Courage, unable to
stand another moment, drops in a limp little heap to the flooring.

"My darling, darling Courage!" whispers some one close bending above
her.

"_Dear_ Miss Julia," and a little hand all of a tremble gropes for Miss
Julia's face in the darkness.

The draw swings back into place, and Sylvia is on it in a flash.

"Oh, you didn't gib us 'nough time," she cries accusingly to David as
she flies past. David instantly divines her meaning, for they both know
Courage well enough to fear she may have run some terrible danger, and
seizing the lantern, hanging midway in the draw, David follows Sylvia
as fast as tottering limbs will carry him. What a sickening sensation
sweeps over him as the horses loom up in the darkness and he sees a
group of people crowding about something hung on the bridge!

[Illustration: 0099]

"She isn't deaded! she isn't deaded!" Sylvia joyfully calls out, and
that moment the light from the lantern falls athwart a prostrate little
figure in the midst of the group.

"I think I can get up now" are the words that meet David's ear, and an
answering "God be praised!" escapes from his quivering lips. Then some
one turns the heads of the quieted horses, and two ladies, one on either
side of Courage, help her back to the house. Larry, who has heard the
commotion, succeeds in getting dressed and out to the door just as the
little party reach it. He starts alarmed and surprised at the sight
of Courage, but fortunately is too blind to see the alarming stains of
blood on her little white face, but the moment they enter the light the
others are quick to see them. Courage is lifted into David's big rocker,
and Larry, groping into his own room, brings a pillow for her back;
Sylvia disappears and returns in a trice with a towel and a basin of
water; Miss Julia, with shaking hands, measures something into a
glass; the other lady, with a little help from Courage, removes the
dust-begrimed coat, and then lays it very tenderly over a chair. And now
the color begins to surge back into the little pale face. The cut under
the curls, which is not severe enough to need a surgeon, is tightly
bound, and then at last they all sit down to get their breath for a
moment. The horses, which of course were none other than Miss Julia's
gray ponies, are secured to a rail outside, and David brings a strange
gentleman into the room.

"This is my brother, Courage," says Miss Julia--"he has often heard me
speak of you--and this lady is his wife."

Courage smiles in acknowledgment of the introduction, for, indeed,
she does not feel equal to talking yet, and so keeps perfectly quiet,
listening to all the others--to David's reiterated self-accusations for
forgetting, in his haste, to make sure that the children were clear
of the draw; to Sylvia's excited account of the way she had "jes' ter
scrabble" to get over in time; to Miss Julia's explanation of how they
had set out at that late hour, and on a sudden impulse, to pay a call
down at Elberon, and of how, in her eagerness to spend as little time
as possible on the road, she had forgotten to walk the ponies over the
draw; and then to her description of her terror when the scream smote
her ears, and she reined in her ponies so suddenly as to almost throw
them over backward; until, at last, Courage herself feels inclined to
put in a little word of her own.

"And you didn't hear me call at all, Mr. David?" she asked in a low
little voice.

"Never a word, darling--never a word. Oh, it's dreadful to think what
might ha' happened, and I so careless!"

"It's all right now though, Mr. David," Courage said comfortingly, "but
it was terrible to have to jump at the last moment like that. I thought
I couldn't at first, that no team would be likely to come over so late,
and then--oh, it's wonderful how many things you can think just in a
moment--I remembered that Miss Julia was over the draw, and I felt I
must try to do it," and Courage looked toward Miss Julia with eyes that
said, "There is nothing in the world I would not try to do for you," and
then what did Miss Julia herself do but break right down and cry.

"Oh, why are you crying?" asked Courage, greatly troubled.

"Because I cannot help it, Courage. It was so brave to risk so much, and
all for my sake, too."

"But I was not really brave, Miss Julia. You see"--and as though fully
convinced of the logic of her position--"I think I was not going to do
it at all till I remembered about you. And if I hadn't, and even if no
one had happened to come on the bridge, I should have been ashamed of it
always every time any one called me Courage."

"And so you are not going to take the least credit to yourself," said
Mr. Everett, Miss Julia's brother. "Well, you certainly are a most
unheard-of little personage."

Courage was not at all sure whether this was complimentary or otherwise,
but no matter. She had not much thought or heed for anything beyond the
fact that Miss Julia was crying, and she very much wished she wouldn't.

Meanwhile, Miss Julia's sister sat thinking her own thoughts with a sad,
far-away look in her eyes. She knew that little blue coat so well, and
this was not the first time she had come across it since, months before,
she had sent it away, expecting never to see it again.

"Courage," she asked at last in what seemed an opportune moment, "were
you not on a lighter that was run into by the St. Johns a few weeks
ago?"

"Why, yes," answered Courage, surprised; "and were you the lady and the
gentleman?" (glancing toward Mr. Everett).

"Yes; we wanted to learn your name, but you and Sylvia here both
answered at once, so we could not make it out."

"But why did you want to know?"

"Because I thought I recognized the little blue coat you had on, and now
that I have seen you again, I feel sure of it. I think it must have been
given to you by Miss Julia."

"Why, yes," said Courage; "and did you know the little girl it used to
belong to?"

"It belonged to my own little girl, Courage."

"To your little girl? Oh, I would love to have seen her wear it, it's
such a beautiful coat! Did she mind having it given away?"

"Courage," said Miss Julia sadly, "little Belle died last winter, and so
there was no longer any need for it."

"Oh, dat's how it was," said practical Sylvia, who had listened
attentively to every word. "We've spec'lated of 'en an' over--ain't we,
Miss Courage?--why a jes-as-good-as-new coat was eber gib away."

"Hush, Sylvia!" whispered Courage, feeling instinctively that this
commonplace remark was untimely; and then by grace of the same beautiful
intuition she asked gently, "Did it make you feel very badly to see your
little Belle's coat on a strange little girl?"

"It almost frightened me. Courage, for Belle had auburn curls, too, and
you seemed so like her as you stood there. Then, after a moment, when
I had had time to think, I felt pretty sure it must be Belle's own coat
that I saw."

"I am sorry that I happened to have it on," said Courage; "I would not
like to have seen anything of my papa's on anybody else."

"And so I thought," said Mrs. Everett, wondering that a child should so
apparently understand every phase of a great sorrow, "but I find I was
mistaken," and Mrs. Everett, moving her chair close beside Courage, took
her little brown hand in hers, as she added: "More than once since that
evening it has been on my lips to ask Miss Julia if she knew who was the
owner of Belle's coat."

"And more than once," said Miss Julia, "it has been on my lips to tell
without your asking, and then I feared only to start for you some train
of sad thoughts." Miss Julia by this time had gotten the best of her
tears, and stood behind Courage affectionately stroking the beautiful
wavy hair, for both she and Mrs. Everett were longing to give expression
to the overpowering sense of gratitude welling up within them.

"Do you know what the black bow is for?" Courage asked of Mrs. Everett.

"I thought it was mourning for some one, perhaps."

"Yes; it is mourning for my papa. A little girl told me I ought to wear
all black clothes, but Miss Julia thought not; only she just tied this
bow on for me the last day of sewing-school, because I wanted to have
something that would tell that I was very lonely without him. Soldiers
wear mourning like that, you know."

All this while Larry had sat quietly on one side, his dimmed eyes
resting proudly on Courage; but now he had something to say on his own
account.

"It was all my fault, sir," he began abruptly, addressing Mr.
Everett--"that accident on the bay a few weeks back. I was losing my
sight, and was just going to give up my life on the water when I found
that Hugh Masterson had died, and that Courage there had set her heart
on spending the summer with me on the boat. And so I tried for her sake
to hold on a while longer, but it wa'nt no use, and I'd like to made an
end to us all that evening. I wish sometime when ye're aboard the
St. Johns ye'd have a word with the captain, and tell him how it all
happened, and that Larry Starr has not touched a drop of liquor these
twenty years; he thought I was drunk, you know, and no wonder."

"Indeed I will, Larry, and only too gladly," Mr. Everett promised,
drawing closer to Larry's side, that they might talk further about it.

Not long after this Miss Julia made a move to go, not, however, you
may be sure, until she had seen Courage tucked away in her own bed,
and dropping off into the soundest sort of a sleep the moment her tired
little head touched the pillow. But before Miss Julia actually gave
the reins to her ponies for the homeward drive there was a vigorous
hand-shaking on all sides, for the exciting experiences of the last hour
had made them all feel very near to each other.

"Well, Julia, we must do something for that precious child," said Mrs.
Everett as soon as the ponies struck the dirt road, and it was less of
an effort to speak than when their hoofs were clattering noisily on the
bridge.

"And what had it best be?" asked Miss Julia, and yet with her own mind
quite made up on the subject.

"Nothing less than to have her make her home with us always."

"Nothing less," said Miss Julia earnestly.

"Bless her brave heart! nothing less," chimed in Mr. Everett; "but what
will become of poor Larry?"

True enough! what would become of poor Larry? and would it be right
to ask him to make such a sacrifice? It was not necessary, however, to
discuss all the details of the beautiful plan just then, and even Mr.
Everett, who had raised the question, had faith to believe that somehow
or other everything could be satisfactorily arranged. For the remainder
of the drive home not a word was spoken. People who have just been face
to face with a great peril, and realize it, are likely to find thoughts
in their hearts quite too deep for utterance and too solemn.



L'ENVOI


You may not happen to know what this "l'envoi" means. Neither do I
exactly, only nowadays poets who try to make English poems like French
ones put it at the head of their last verse; so I have a notion to
follow their example and put it at the head of this last chapter.

As to its meaning as the poets use it, I find that even some pretty wise
people are not able to enlighten us, so we'll have it mean just what we
choose, and say that it stands for the winding up of a story by which
you learn what became of all the people in it. At any rate, as that's
what this chapter's to be, we'll press this mysterious little L'Envoi
into service in lieu of such a long title. Confidentially, however, I
have an idea that it isn't "the thing" to wind up a story at all.
That to give you merely an intimation as to what probably happened to
Courage, and to leave you wholly in ignorance as to the others, would be
far more in keeping with modern story-telling; but why try to be modern
unless it is more satisfactory? Then I imagine you really would like to
know something more of the friends we have been summering with through
these eight chapters, and besides, if someday you should yourself go
driving over the South Shrewsbury draw, you would naturally expect to
at least have a chat with David Starr, feeling that he was a fixture,
whatever might have become of Larry and Courage and Sylvia. But alas!
that cannot be, and you ought to know it beforehand. The same little
house is there, and in summer weather the same boxes of geraniums,
verbena, and portulaca line the rail in front of it, but the old man at
present employed at the draw is as much of a stranger to me as to you.

It is several years now since that eventful night on the bridge, and all
this while Courage has been living in Washington Square, for it had been
easily arranged with Larry that she should make her home with Miss Julia
and Mrs. Everett. Indeed, it had proved an immense relief to Larry's
anxious heart to know that her future would be so well provided for, and
it all came about at the right time, too, for the very next winter Larry
died. He had not been feeling well for a few days, and Sylvia, who had
been left behind at the bridge, wrote for Courage; and Courage, losing
not a moment, came in time to care for him for two whole weeks before
he passed away. His illness was not a painful one, and now that complete
darkness had closed in about him, he had no great wish to live. The many
mansions of the Father were very real to Larry, and the eyes that were
blind to all on earth seemed to look with wondrous keenness of vision
toward "the land that is very far off;" while to have Courage at his
side in this last illness summed up every earthly desire that remained
to him. He was buried in the cemetery over at Shrewsbury, and it was not
long before a grave was dug for faithful Bruce, who seemed to lose all
heart from the hour his master left him.

When Courage went back to Washington Square, the day after the funeral,
Sylvia went with her, to assist in the care of a blessed Everett baby
that had lately come to gladden every one in the home; and Sylvia was
overjoyed to be once more under the same roof with Courage.

For a year or two after that David continued to keep the draw, living
alone in the same way as before, which must have seemed a more lonely
way than ever, with Larry out of the world and Courage and Sylvia quite
the same as out of it, as far as he was concerned. But finally David had
to give up. "The rheumatics," as he said, "got hold of him so drefful
bad that there was no help for it but that he must just go and be
beholden to his daughter," which, as you can imagine, must have been no
little trial to independent old David.

And Courage! brave little Courage! just how does the world fare with
her? Well, she is quite a young lady by this time, with the beautiful
auburn curls twisted into a knot, and dresses that sometimes have trains
to them, and yet she is just the same Courage still. It seems to Mr.
and Mrs. Everett as though they could hardly have loved their own
little Belle more, while to Miss Julia it seems as though she could not
possibly live without her; and no one who truly knows Courage wonders
at this for a moment. As for Courage herself, she looks up to Miss Julia
with all the saint-like adoration of the old sewing-school days, and
Miss Julia is every whit worthy of such loyal devotion. At the same
time, they are the best of friends.

[Illustration: 0111]

During these five years of daily companionship Miss Julia has been
unconsciously training Courage to be just such another noble woman as
she is herself, and so they have been constantly growing nearer and
still nearer to each other, if that were possible. They love the same
books, they enjoy the same things, and now that regular school-life is
over for Courage, they have the happiest sort of time together, day in
and day out. Often, indeed, they have a very merry time of it, largely
accounted for by the fact that Courage, being well and strong, as well
as young, is often brimming over with a contagious buoyancy, sometimes
called animal spirits, but to my thinking, it deserves a better name
than that.

Everywhere that Miss Julia goes Courage goes too that is, if she is
wanted (and seldom is she not), and one of the places where they go most
frequently, and never empty-handed, is to a great hospital, where, since
little lame Joe died, Mary Duff has become one of the sisters who give
their lives to caring for sick children.

Courage even has a class next to Mill Julia's in the sewing-school where
she used to be a scholar. Now and then she feels some little finger
pointing at her, and knows well enough what is being said. One Saturday
afternoon, when on her way to the chapel, she noticed two rather unkempt
little specimens in close conference. "Yes, that's her," she heard
the smaller girl exclaim as she neared them, "and ain't she sweet and
stylish! Well, she used to belong down here somewhere, but now she lives
in a beautiful house with Miss Julia in Washington Square."

"Like as not she didn't do nothin' to deserve it, either," said the
larger girl enviously, with a sullen shrug of her shoulders.

"Didn't do nothin'? Well, perhaps you don't know that she just saved
Miss Julia's life; that's something, ain't it?" And with the color
mantling forehead and cheeks Courage hurried on, grateful for the
championship of her unknown little friend.

[Illustration: 0114]





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