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Title: Little Homespun
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 "Little Homespun" ***

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LITTLE HOMESPUN

By Ruth Ogden

(Mrs. Charles W. Ide)

Author Of “A Loyal Little Red-Coat”

“A Little Queen Of Hearts”

“His Little Royal Highness”

“Courage” etc.

With Numerous Original Illustrations By Mabel Humphrey

New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company

1897

[Illustration: 0001]

[Illustration: 0006]

[Illustration: 0007]



ONE MOMENT PLEASE.

In a way, this book, “Little Homespun,” is a story quite by itself. In
another way it is a sequel to “Courage,” although you can “catch
its thread” without having read a line of “Courage.” Now some grown
people, and I presume some children, do not care for sequels at all, but
I happen to know that the children who are good enough to read and care
for my stories are fond of sequels. Those who have taken the trouble
to write me, in little letters that are worth their weight in gold
many times over, almost invariably ask for another book about the same
people. Sometimes they tell me just what to put into the new story
and what name to give it. So here lies my excuse if one is needed for
writing “Little Homespun.” Besides, I could hardly help it, for there
seemed to be quite a little yet to tell about Courage and Sylvia, and
some new little friends of theirs. And one thing more--everything
in this story that has to do with real people or actual events is
absolutely true; a little book, named “Historic Arlington,” giving most
of the information needed. Even old black Joe has his counterpart in
Wesley Morris, one of the slaves of Mr. Custis, born on the estate, and
employed for many years following the war as a workman about the grounds
at Arlington.

“RUTH OGDEN.”

Oakdene

Sept. 1, 1897.



[Illustration: 0013]


{001}



LITTLE HOMESPUN



CHAPTER I.--TWO OLD CRONIES

JUNE morning, clear and cool as October, and everything far and near
fairly revelling in the early summer sunshine. The Potomac, blue as the
sky above it, sparkling and dancing, the new young leaves on the oak
trees shimmering and shining with the marvellous green of springtime,
and the dear old Virginia homestead, overhanging the river, never
looking {002}more homelike and attractive in all its quiet life. The
reason for this did not lie all in the sunshine either. Just outside
the door, on the wide gallery, a darling old lady sat knitting, for as
_darling_ means “dearly beloved,” no other word could so truly describe
her. Everybody worshipped her and regarded her--as well they might--with
unspeakable devotion; for darling old ladies, as you very well know, do
not grow on every bush--quite to the contrary--a great many old ladies
(bless their tired old hearts!) grow fretful and nervous and fussy, and
are hard to please, not to say cranky. But who would blame them for
this for a minute? Just as likely as not you and I will be cranky enough
ourselves, when we have borne the burden of fourscore years, and are
pretty well worn out in mind and spirit and body. But here was an old
lady who was not worn out. Her hair was white with “the incomparable
whiteness of aged hair,” and there were the indelible marks of age on
the sweet, earnest face, but this dear old lady was “sunny.” She had had
her own full share of sorrows and worries, and she had taken them all
very much to heart--as people must whose hearts are big enough to
take things to at all--and as tender as hearts really ought to be. But
somehow or other, she had learned the {003}secret of not being overcome
by the worries and the sorrows, and so, sitting there knitting that
peerless June morning, she and the sunshine together seemed to glorify
everything about them.

[Illustration: 0015]

Presently a little specimen appeared in the doorway; a handsome little
fellow too, though he did not have any curls, as most children do who
find their way into story books, but his hair was golden, and, though
cut quite short, as he insisted upon having it, had a little trick of
straying down on his forehead in quite irresistible fashion.

“Well, what are we going to do to-day?” said his grandmother, gazing
at him as fondly as only fond grandmothers can. In response the little
fellow merely pointed to two straps of gold braid upon his shoulders,
and looked as though, really “grand_na_na” should have known better than
to ask.

“Oh! beg pardon, Brevet, I was so intent upon my knitting I had not
noticed,” and she succeeded in foiling a smile that would at least
have proved annoying; for, as every one about the place knew, the gold
shoulder-straps, worn in imitation of a captain’s uniform in the army,
meant but one thing, and that was that Captain Joe was coming down to
carry Brevet-Captain up to Arlington for the day. Indeed at {004}that
moment a cheery “How’dy, Brevet!” rang out on the still morning air,
and at the same moment a donkey and a two-wheeled cart driven by an old
negro came to a stand at the gate.

“How’dy, Captain, I’m ready for you. Been expecting you ev’ry minute
since breakfast. Good-bye, Gran_na_na, take good care of yourself,” and
a pair of chubby arms gave grandmamma just about as much of a hug as the
old lady could bear up under.

“Good-mornin’, Miss Lindy,” said Captain Joe, stepping up to the gate
and touching his cap deferentially. “I ’spose the little un tol’ you
I’d like him up to Arlington fur de day if you could spare him.”

“No, Joe,” answered Mrs. Ellis, smiling, “Brevet does not think that
necessary now-a-days. He simply dons the blue reefer with the
shoulder-straps, and that means he has his orders for the day from his
captain, and grandmammas are not expected to ask questions.” Brevet
stood by, his hands upon his hips in most independent fashion, as much
as to say, “That describes the case exactly.”

“Well, I reckon he don’ mean no harm, Miss Lindy,” said Joe, a little
anxiously. “He’s dat much in earnest ’bout everythin’, dat he’s a
Brevet-Cap’n sure ’nuff when he gets his straps on.” {005}"Oh, that’s
all right, Joe,”’ answered Mrs. Ellis, “but we’ll just send for you, if
the day comes when we need to court-martial him for insubordination.”

Brevet did not at all understand this last remark, and so, touching his
little blue cap in true soldier-fashion, turned on his heel and marched
down to the donkey-cart as though in command of an army.

“Brevet,” said Joe seriously, as they jogged away from the gate, “You
mus’ be ver’ careful ’bout bein’ spectful like to yo’ Grand_na_na,
case if you don’ dere’s no tellin’ but any day yo’ Cap’n ’ll take away
yo’ straps an’ den you’d jus’ be plain Marse Howard again I reckon.”

“Joe,” said Brevet solemnly, his voice trembling a little, “I could not
bear it if you took away my straps,” and he laid a little brown hand
protectingly upon one shoulder.

“Well, den you have a care, Honey, ‘bout Miss Lindy, an’ de nex’
time Joe invites you down to Arlington fur de day, you des ask yo’
Grand_na_na’s permission. Yo’re my Brevet-Cap’n sure ’nuff, but you’re
yo’ Grand_na_na’s little pickaninny eb’ry day in de week, and don’ you
forget it.”

“I’ll remember, Captain,” with most soldierlike submission, and then for
awhile they drove along in silence. {006}Happy thoughts of anticipation,
however, soon chased the troubled look from Brevet’s little face, for
there was nothing at all could compare with these occasional days spent
with Joe at Arlington. It was owing to them that he had gained
his dearly-loved title of Brevet and the blue soldier-cap and the
shoulder-straps. Joe had been a member of a coloured regiment and had
fought all through the war, and when at last he had come back and had
settled down in his old cabin at Arlington, he was dubbed Captain, in
recognition of his gallant services, by all the coloured folk of the
neighbourhood. And Joe was by no means unworthy of the honour, for save
for the fact that his regiment had been officered by white men, he might
easily have risen to the command of a company. Time and time again in
the face of the greatest danger he had been notoriously fearless, and
had never in a single instance shown the white feather, which is more
than can be said for many of his black comrades. And so from that time
on it had been Captain Joe, and when some thirty years later little
Howard Ellis came to make his home with his grandmother, and soon
afterward came to know Joe, and to spend many a long summer day in his
delightful company, what more natural than that the little fellow, with
his {007}great passion for everything military, should first aspire
to some of the outward insignia, and then, having attained cap and
shoulder-straps by favour of his grandmother, should later be dowered
with the title of “Brevet-Captain,” by favour of Captain Joe himself?

[Illustration: 0021]

“You see it’s des de name fur you, Honey,” Joe had explained, “case
it’ll save any con-fus’n’ of us togedder, an’ at de same time it’s a
very complimentin’ title. It means es how you have it des as a sort of
honour, widout havin’ any of de ’sponsibilities of an out-an’-outer
cap’n like me.”

From that day forward it was “Brevet-Captain,” very tenaciously insisted
upon by Howard himself, but gradually allowed to be abbreviated to
“Brevet” within the home circle. And so Captain Joe and Brevet, having
long ago arrived at the most satisfactory mutual understanding, sat side
by side in the donkey-cart, without feeling the slightest obligation to
say a word.

The road from the Ellis homestead up to Arlington lies through the
woods, and has all the charm of a road that has been left to follow its
own way--and a sweet, wild way at that. There were no fences, either new
or old, for none were needed. On each side a forest of oak, interspersed
with an occasional maple or {008}chestnut, stretched miles away, with
seldom a glimpse of a clearing, while immediately bordering the road
grew the veriest tangle of a natural hedge-row, abloom with some sort of
sweet wild-flower from May to October. The original cut through the wood
had been happily a wide one, and so sunshine and shower even, after all
these years, still had abundant chance to slant this way and that across
the road and coax every growing thing to perfection. Wood-violets, white
and yellow and purple, peered out from under the taller growths of fern
in the early springtime. June brought the sweet wild rose, unfolding
bud after bud well into the summer, and the white berry-blossoms of the
briars. With August came the berries themselves, ripening ungathered in
riotous profusion, and following close upon them advance heralds of the
goldenrod and the asters. It was in very truth a beautiful, dear old
road, and it formed a beautiful setting for the little donkey-drawn cart
slowly making its way along it. A pretty contrast, too, that of the old
negro, still alert and sturdy notwithstanding his threescore years and
ten, with the little golden-haired boy beside him. Together they seemed
the embodiment of happy, confiding childhood and trustful, serene old
age. {009}On came the little cart, each of its occupants apparently
intent upon his own thoughts, until at last Brevet commenced humming
a sweet little refrain; very softly and slowly at first, as though not
quite sure of his ground, then more distinctly as he felt himself master
of the situation. Finally the refrain took to itself words; words that
have since grown commonplace, but which had all the charm of novelty for
Joe, and he listened with absorbed delight as Brevet sang cutely,--

               “I’se a little Alabama Coon

                   And I hasn’t been born very long,

               I ‘member seein’ a great big roun’ moon

                   I ’member hearin’ one sweet song;

               When dey tote me down to de cotton-field,

                   Dar I roll and I tumble in de sun,

               While my daddy pick de cotton mammy watch

                        me grow,

                   And dis am de song she sung:”

Brevet paused for the briefest part of a second to see how Joe was
taking it.

“Go on, Honey, go on,” urged Joe.

“An’ dis am de song she sung:” repeated Brevet.

               “Go to sleep my little pickaninny,

                   Br’er Fox’ll catch if yo’ don t;

               Slumber on de bosom of yo’ ole Mammy Jinny

                   Mammy’s gwine to swatch yo’ if yo’ won’t.

               Sh--Lu-la, lu-la lu-la lu-la lu!

                   Underneaf de silver Southern moon,

               Rock-a-by, hush-a-by, Mammy’s little baby,

                   Mammy’s little Alabama Coon.”

{010}"Again, Honey, again,” in a voice of actual command, so reluctant
was Joe to have his keen enjoyment for one moment interrupted, and
Brevet obeyed, keeping the air perfectly and singing with all his heart,
too, as though himself a veritable little pickaninny, dwelling upon the
many happy memories of babyhood in a cotton-field.

“I clar to yo’, Honey,” said Joe, his voice trembling with delight, “I
can just see dat little baby. Seems ter me I neber done hear anythin’ so
pretty, anythin’ dat fit each other like dat song an’ words. Whar eber
did yo’ Tarn it, Honey?”

“Uncle Harry taught it to me, Joe.”

“Are der any more verses, Honey?”

“There’s one more, Joe, but Uncle Harry says it’s so ordinary it doesn’t
belong with the first verse at all.”

[Illustration: 0027]

“Well now, dat’s a pity,” said Joe, very regretfully, “but yo’ Uncle
Harry he do beat all for gettin’ hol’ of sweet, catchin’ music an’ I kin
des tell yo’, Honey, you done mus’ sing dat song to yo’ ole Cap’n eb’ry
time we fin’ ourselves togedder fur half a shake of a lamb’s {011}tail.
Gib us yo’ han’ on it, Honey, dat you will.”

Brevet put his brown hand in Joe’s black one, his own face beaming with
the pleasure he had given, and so the two boon companions jogged on,
until, high on a hill before them, the pillars of a fine old house came
into view, and a few moments later the donkey-cart drew up at a little
cabin, just in the rear of the fine old house, a cabin that had been
Joe’s home ever since he was as little a fellow as Brevet there beside
him.

“I’ll look around while you put Jennie up,” explained Brevet, as soon as
Joe had lifted him from the cart, and putting his hands in his pockets
he walked up to the big house, straight through the hall, whose doors
stood wide open, and out on to the porch in front. Brevet simply loved
“to look around,” from that porch, and I do not think he ever stood
there without his resolve to be a soldier some day surging up in a
strong, new tide within him. Some of the rest of us, who are quite too
old ever to think of being soldiers, and whose petticoats must at any
age have stood in the way, know exactly how Brevet felt. You know, too,
if you have ever been to Arlington, and, having been born and bred
in these United States of ours, are the true little {012}American you
really ought to be. But in case you never _have_ been to Arlington, and
do not at all know why it should make you feel that you would like to
be a soldier, then let me tell you before you have read another single
line, that Arlington is the great National Cemetery, lying a few miles
out from Washington, and where more than fifteen thousand soldiers lie
buried. From the moment you enter the beautiful grounds, you see the low
mounds stretching away on every side of you, and when you drive up in
front of Arlington House itself, there is brave General Sheridan’s tomb
right in front of you, so you cannot forget for a moment what a host of
noble heroes they were, who fought in our great civil war thirty years
ago, and how grand a thing it is lo be willing to lay down one’s life
if need be, for the honour of one’s country. But perhaps you wonder that
there should be a fine old house in a cemetery, and that Brevet should
so love to go there, thinking a cemetery for your part rather sad and
depressing, and wonder too why Joe should have chosen such a place for
his home; all of which wonders it would take too much time to explain in
this chapter, a chapter that was only meant to introduce you to Brevet
and the Captain, so good-bye for just now to Arlington.


{013}



CHAPTER II.--COURAGE TAKES HEART.

This time, as before, there is a story to tell because of something
braved and dared for Miss Julia’s sake; something that needed less
nerve, perhaps, than the leap Courage took that night on the drawbridge,
but something that called not only for a world of a different sort of
courage, but for infinite patience as well, and that claimed the
whole summer for its doing. The reason for it all lay in four little
words--Miss Julia was dead. Beautiful, strong, radiant Miss Julia! why,
no one had thought of death for her, save as years and years away in the
serene twilight of a calm old age; and yet it had come, suddenly, after
a week’s brief illness, and Courage was simply broken-hearted. She felt
she had no right to her name now, and never should have again. Miss
Julia had been teacher, mother, friend to her, one or the other almost
since her babyhood, and to care for Miss Julia in return, now that she
herself was grown up, to let every thing else “come second,” had been
her only {014}thought. And now to find her hands suddenly empty, and
all the sunshine gone out of her life--was it strange that she felt
despairing and desolate and that nothing whatever was left?

“But we are left,” pleaded a chorus of little voices, and Courage seemed
to see four brighteyed little children; bright-eyed because God had made
them so, but with faces almost as sad as her own. “Yes, we are left,”
 they continued pleading. “Miss Julia was going to do so much for us this
summer; could not you do it in her place for her sake?”

Courage shook her head gravely as in answer to her own thoughts.

“No, I cannot,” she said, firmly. “Everything that I leaned on is gone;
nothing is left to me--nothing.”

“But could you not try just for her sake?” chorused the little voices
over and over in her heart, day after day, in all the sad hours of
waking, and sometimes even in sleeping, until at last she bravely
brushed the tears away and made answer, “Yes, for her sake I will!”

She remembered the day of her six-year-old christening, when her
remarkable name had been given her and she had asked: “Is courage
something that people have, Papa? Have I got it?” and he had told her,
“Courage is {015}something that people have, dear, something fine, and I
hope you will have it.”

Yes, she would try, even in this dark hour, to live up to her father’s
hope for her, and so her resolve was taken.

But the four bright-eyed little children knew nothing of any resolve;
they would not have understood what it meant if they had, and as for
their singing a pathetic little chorus in any one’s heart, they were
altogether unconscious of that as well. But one thing they did know, and
that was they should never see Miss Julia again in this world, and they
thought they also knew that a beautiful plan she had made for them could
never be carried out. The wisest thing, therefore, for these four little
people was to put, so far as possible, all thought of the plan from
their minds, and Mary, the eldest of the four, said as much to the
others.

“Oh, don’t let us think about it any more,” she urged, earnestly. “If
we only could have Miss Julia back what would we care for anything else?
Besides, when you think what has happened, it seems selfish, and as
though we did not have any hearts, to grieve over our own little plans
for a moment.”

“But it wasn’t just over our own little plan,” insisted her younger
brother Teddy, “it was {016}Miss Julia’s plan for us, and I don’t think
it strange a bit that we should grieve over it.”

“Neither do I,” urged Allan, who came next to Teddy in age. “Of course
us boys, not going to the sewing-school, did not know Miss Julia as well
as you, but I just guess there wasn’t a boy who thought more of her than
I did. What’s more I loved her; not making a fuss over her, to be sure,
like you girls, still I did really love her,” (emphasising the word by a
shake of his head, and firm pursing of his lips). “All the same, I think
it’s natural we should feel awfully disappointed.” Gertrude who was
seven, and the youngest of the four, nodded in approval of the stand
Allan had taken, and continued nodding, as he added, “We haven’t
travelled so much, seems to me, or had so much change in our lives as to
settle back to the idea of a hot summer here in town, instead of going
to the country, without feeling it a bit; that is, I don’t think we
have.”

[Illustration: 0035]

Mary sighed and said nothing, as though ready to admit, after all,
that perhaps it was natural that they should take their disappointment
somewhat to heart, but the tears that had sprung suddenly into her eyes
were from real longing for Miss Julia and not from the disappointment.

This quiet talk in which the little Bennetts {017}were indulging, was
being carried on from the backs of two horses--the two girls mounted
upon one and the two boys astride the other--but they happened to be the
quietest horses in the world; horses that never budged in fact, tailless
and headless, and that belonged to the carpenter who lived on the first
floor. The Bennetts lived on the top floor; but whenever there was
anything to be talked over, down they trooped to the yard and climbed
and helped each other to the backs of these high seats, and when all
were able to declare themselves perfectly comfortable the conclave would
commence. The little Bennetts were great talkers. They simply loved to
discuss things, and this shows, when you stop to consider it, that they
must be, on the whole, an amiable little family, for some little people
that we hear of are quite too impatient and self-assertive to be willing
to discuss things at all. But whatever may have been the faults of the
little Bennetts they did have respect for each other’s opinions, and
were generally ready to admit that two heads were better than one, and
“Four heads,” to quote little Gertrude, “four times as better.” This
habit of discussion, for it really amounted to that, was partly no doubt
the outcome of a little strategy on the part of their mother. Mary and
Teddy and Allan and Gertrude were {018}just a “pair of steps,” as the
saying goes, and sometimes the little living-room on the fourth floor
seemed all too small for the noisy company, and then Mrs. Bennett would
exclaim, and as though the most novel sort of an idea had occurred to
her:

“Children, why don’t you run down to the yard and have a _good talk?_”

There was no resisting this appeal, such untold delights were implied
in Mrs. Bennett’s tone and manner, and the children seldom failed to
act upon the advice, and what was more, seldom failed to light upon some
interesting thing to talk about; and then, always as a last resort, some
one could tell a story. The some one was generally Teddy, for he had the
wildest imagination, and could upon any and every occasion invent most
thrilling romances, which were quite as much of a surprise to himself as
to his hearers. And so the children had come to love their perch in the
corner of the city yard, with the uncertain shade of an old alanthus
flickering over them in summer, and the bright sun streaming full upon
them in its leafless winter days. And this was how it chanced that the
Bennett children found themselves in their old haunt that breezy May
morning, and were easing their heavy little hearts by frankly admitting
to one {019}another how very great indeed was their disappointment.

Better so, I think. Wrinkles come earlier and plow deeper, and thoughts
are apt to grow bitter and morbid, when one broods and broods, and will
not take hearts near and dear into one’s confidence. The day never dawns
when truly brave hearts cry out for pity, but sympathy is a sweet and
blessed thing the world over, and God meant not only that we should have
it, but that, if need be, we should reach our hands and grasp it.

There was one little Bennett, however, who did not share in the general
depression. Too short a time in the world to know aught of its joys or
sorrows, Baby Bennett lay comfortably in his mother’s lap, having just
dropped off to sleep after a good half hour of rocking, Mrs. Bennett,
who had herself grown drowsy with her low crooning over the baby,
glanced first at the bustling little clock on the mantel shelf, and
then, leaning her head against the back of the chair, closed her eyes;
but instead of falling asleep she fell to thinking, and then her face
grew very sad and tears made their way from beneath her closed eyelids.
So, you see, the mother-heart was heavy as well as the-child-hearts in
the Bennett family, and for the same reason. It was not because they
were {020}not learning to face and accept the thought that Miss Julia,
whom they so dearly loved, could not return to them; they were trying to
be as brave as Miss Julia herself would have had them. But this was the
day, the very day that they were all to have started, and they could not
seem to forget it for a moment; neither could somebody else, and soon
there came a gentle knock at Mrs. Bennett’s door.

“Come in,” she answered, forgetting the tears in her eyes; and, laying
the baby in its little clothes-basket of a bed, she turned to greet the
newcomer. Courage had mounted the four flights of stairs very bravely,
but the sight of the tears in Mrs. Bennett’s eyes disarmed her, and,
sinking into the nearest chair, she found she would best not try to
speak for a moment.

“Oh, I’m so sorry, Miss Courage, that you should have seen me,” said
Mrs. Bennett, with a world of regret in her voice; “it is so much harder
for you than for anybody, but this was the day, you know, almost the
very hour.”

“Yes, I know,” Courage faltered; “that was why I came.”

“It’s like you, Miss Courage; you’ve Miss Julia’s own thoughtfulness,
but I’m thinking it will be easier for us all when this day’s over.
I got rid of the trunk last week; it seemed to {021}make us all so
disheartened to have it standing round.”

“You didn’t sell it, did you?”

“No, indeed I did not, for it may be the children will have a chance yet
some day, for a bit of an outing.”

“I have decided they are all to have it yet, Mrs. Bennett, this very
summer, and just as Miss Julia planned, too. That’s what I came to tell
you, if you will trust them to me.”

“Trust you! Oh, my dear! but it would be too much care for those young
shoulders; too much by far.”

“Mrs. Bennett,” said Courage, so earnestly as to carry conviction, “I
thought so at first, too, but the plan has grown to be just as dear to
me as it was to Miss Julia, and now, if you do not let me carry it out,
I do not see how I can ever live through this first summer.”

“Then indeed I will let you,” and then she added slowly, and with an
accent on every word, “and you are just Miss Julia’s own child!” and
Courage thought them the very sweetest words she had ever heard, or ever
could hear again.

“May I tell the children?” she asked, eagerly. “Where are they?”

Mrs. Bennett did not answer. I believe she could not, but she opened the
window and {022}Courage knew that meant the children were below in their
favourite corner.

“Oh, let me call them, please,” resting one hand on Mrs. Bennett’s arm
and leaning far out over the sill.

“Children! come up stairs for a moment, I have something to tell you.
Come up quickly.” Courage hardly knew her own voice, it rang out so
cheerily.

“Oh, Miss Courage!” chorused four little voices, only this time the
sound was in her ears as well as in her heart, and as she watched the
children tumble helter-skelter from the horses in the yard way down
below her, a smile that was almost merry drove the shadows from her
face.

[Illustration: 0042]


{023}



CHAPTER III.--A DELIGHTFUL DISCOVERY.


Why, whatever’s going on here?” exclaimed Brevet.

“Oh, yes,” said Joe, turning slowly round, for he knew what had
attracted Brevet’s attention. “I done notice it on de way up ter
Ellismere fo’ you dis mornin’, an’ den I was so took up with dat
fascinatin’ song of yo’s as we drove back, dat I didn’t want to
interrupt you long ’nuff to call yo’ attention to it. Looks as dough
dere mus’ be some one come ter live in de pretty little house, doesn’t
it?”

“Why, yes, it does,” said Brevet, very much interested; “and you don’t
know who it is, Joe?”

“No, I hasn’t knowed nuffin’ ’bout it, till I seed de whole place
lookin’ so pert like dis mornin’,” and Joe brought old Jennie to a
standstill that they might more fully take in the situation.

“Don’t you think I ought to find out, Joe?”

“Why, yes, Honey, seems ter me it would {024}be sort of frien’ly,” and
suiting the action to the word he took Brevet by the arms and dropped
him down over the cart-wheel.

The change that had come over this point in the road was indeed
remarkable. A little house that had remained untenanted for years, in
the midst of an overgrown enclosure, stood this bright June morning with
every door and window open to the air and sunshine. The vines which had
half hidden it from view had already been cut away, and on every hand
were signs that the place was being brought into liveable shape with all
possible expedition. No one was in sight, so Brevet noiselessly pushed
open the gate, and, making his way to the little front porch, reached
upward and lifted the brass knocker of the open door. The unexpected
sound instantly brought a neatly-dressed, elderly-looking woman from
some room in the rear.

[Illustration: 0045]

“How’dy,” said Brevet, instantly put at his ease by the kindness of the
woman’s face.

“What did you say, dear?” she asked, with a puzzled frown.

“I said how’dy,” explained Brevet, wondering that the woman’s face still
wore the puzzled look. “We just stopped to ask who was coming. We go
by here very often, Joe and I,” pointing to the cart, “and we were
{025}wondering what was up seeing this place open that’s been closed so
long.”

“It can’t be that Miss Julia’s self is a comin’ can it?” called Joe, for
the little house was not set so far back from the road but that he could
hear every word spoken between the woman and Brevet.

“Why, did you know Miss Julia?” she asked, stepping at once to the gate,
with Brevet following close behind her.

“No, Miss; dat is not personally, but I knowed dat Miss Julia owned dis
little plantation, an’ I often wonder dat she never done come to live on
it. I can ‘member when her Uncle Dave was livin’, an’ it was den des de
_homiest_ little homestead in de country.”

“You have not heard then of Miss Julia’s death?”

“No,” exclaimed Joe, with as much feeling in his voice as though Miss
Julia had indeed been an old friend; “you don’ tell me! I’se often heard
what a reg’lar lady she was, and often wished I done have a chance to
lay eyes on her.”

“She was a very good friend to me,” said the woman, sorrowfully, “and
she had expected to come down here this summer and open the house, and
bring a little family of city children with her who had never spent a
day in the real country in their lives.” {026}"You don’t say so!” said
Joe, shaking his head sadly. “It’s strange what times de Lord chooses to
call de good folks out of dis worl’.” And then he added, after a moment
of respectful silence, “But de place here, am it sold to some new
party?”

“No; Miss Julia left it in her will to a young lady who was just the
same as a daughter to her, and she has decided to come down in Miss
Julia’s place this summer.”

“And bring the little children?” asked Brevet, eagerly.

“And bring the little children,” answered the woman, her face
brightening. “I have come down to make everything ready for them, and
they are coming on Friday.”

“Oh, do you think I could know them?”

“Of course you can know them. You must come and see them so soon as ever
they come. But you must tell me your name so that I can tell them about
you.”

“My name is Howard Ellis, but that name isn’t any use now. Everybody
calls me Brevet since I and the Captain here have grown to be such
friends. It means kind of an officer in the army, and when I grow up
I’m going to West Point and learn how to be a real officer, and not just
kind of a one at all. But till then everybody’s going to call me Brevet.
And {027}now what is your name please, and the children’s, because I
want to tell my grand_na_na all about you?”

“Well, my name is Mary Duff, dear, and the children are named
Bennett--Mary and Teddy and Allan and Gertrude Bennett.”

“Oh, are two of them boys?” and Brevet’s face was radiant. “I haven’t
had a boy to play with ever hardly, but I s’pose they’re older boys than
me,” he added, a little crestfallen; “almost all boys are.”

“Well, Teddy is not very much older, just a little, and Allan is
just about your age I should say. Never you fear, Brevet, you’ll have
beautiful times with them all, I know.”

[Illustration: 0049]

“When shall I come then?” wishing to have matters very definitely
arranged. “Do you think they would like to have me here to help them
feel at home right off at the very first?”

“Well, I should not wonder but they would like that very much indeed.”

“Then I will come on Friday.”

“You mean you will ask your gran’_na_na, Brevet,” said Joe,
significantly.

“Oh, yes; I mean I will ask if I may come.” This last very quickly and
eagerly, remembering his little lecture of the morning.

“Well, it’s des a comfort to see de ole place in shape once more, an’
I trus’ you an’ de {028}young lady an’ de chilluns will have des a
beautiful summer. P’r’aps some day,” and Joe’s eyes twinkled with the
thought, “dey’ll all come up and spen’ de day with me at Arlington.
Brevet here alway des loves to come. You know Arlington’s where all de
soldiers am buried. I used to be a slave on de place ‘fo’ de wah, an’
dere ain’t much happened dere fur de las’ fifty years dat I hasn’t some
knowledge of, and dey done tell me” (indulging in a little complacent
chuckle) “dat it’s mighty interestin’ ter spen’ de day with Joe at
Arlington.”

“Well, indeed I should think it would be,” said Mary, very much
interested, “and I wish you would stop and see Miss Courage about it the
first time you drive by.”

“Thank you very much, Miss; and now. Brevet, your gran’_na_na will be
watchin’ fur us an’ we had bes’ be joggin’ on I’m thinkin’.”

“All right, Captain,” clambering into the cart, and then Joe and Brevet
courteously touched their caps, in true military fashion, and old Jenny
jogged on.

“Miss _Courage_ did she say?” asked Brevet, the moment they were out of
hearing, just as Joe knew he would.

“Yes; it soun’ like dat, Honey, but some day we must make inquiries.
Dere mus’ be some ‘splanation of a name like dat.”


{029}



CHAPTER IV.--EVERYBODY HAPPY.

It is strange and beautiful,” thought Courage as she moved busily about
her room, putting one thing and another into a trunk that stood open
before the fireplace; “strange and beautiful how difficulties take to
themselves wings, when you once make up your mind what is right to do
and then go straight ahead and do it.”

“Miss Courage,” said a young coloured girl, who was leaning over the bed
trying to fold a black dress in a fashion that should leave no creases
to show for its packing, “I felt all along there was nothing else for
you to do.”

“Then, Sylvia, why did you not say so?” Courage asked, a little sharply.
“You knew how hard it was for me to come to any decision. It was not
because you were afraid to say so, was it?”

“Afraid?” and a merry look shone for a moment in Sylvia’s eyes. “No, I
don’t believe I ever could grow afraid of the little curly-headed girl
I used to work for when we {030}were both children together. No, indeed;
it was only because I thought you ought to see it so yourself. It seemed
as though it was just as plain a duty as the hand before your face, and
I felt sure you would come to it, as you have, if we only gave you time
enough.” It was a comfort to Courage to feel that Sylvia so thoroughly
understood her. Indeed, they were far more to each other than mistress
and maid; they were true friends these two, whose only home for a while
had been Larry Starr’s brave lighter, and for both of whom he had cared
in the same kind, fatherly way. Of course you do not understand about
Larry or Larry’s lighter, unless you have read “Courage,” but then on
the other hand there is no reason why you need to understand. Nor
was Sylvia the only one who approved of what Courage had done. The
Elversons, Miss Julia’s brother and his wife, and with whom Courage
and Miss Julia had lived, were as glad as glad could be to have Courage
carry out Miss Julia’s plan; and so in fact was everybody who saw how
sad and lonely Courage was, and what a blessing anything that would
occupy her thoughts must be to her. And so, in the light of all this,
you can see how sad it would have been if Courage had yielded to her
fears, and persistently turned away {031}from a duty, in very truth as
plain as the hand before your face, as Sylvia had put it. But Courage
had not turned away, nor for one instant wavered from the moment her
resolve was taken.

And now at last the day for the start had dawned. The little Bennetts
had been awake at sunrise. Fancy having three months of Christmas ahead
of you--for it seemed just as fine as that to them. It was a wonder they
had slept at all. They had read about brooks and hills and valleys, and
woods where all manner of beautiful wild things were growing; of herds
of cow’s grazing in grassy pastures; of loads of hay with children
riding atop of them, and of the untold delights of a hay-loft. And
now they were going to know and enjoy every one of these delights
for themselves. Why, they could not even feel sad about leaving their
mother, and indeed she was as radiant as they at the thought of their
going.

“You see,” she explained to them, “I shall have the baby for company,
and such a beautiful time to rest; and your father and I will take a
sail now and then down the bay, or go to the park for the day in the
very warm weather; and then it is going to be such a comfort to have
your father home for two whole months, and that couldn’t have happened
{032}either, you know, if you had not been going away for the summer.”
 The children’s father, Captain Bennett, was one of the pilots who earn
their living by bringing the great ocean steamers into the harbour, and
often he would be aboard the pilot-boat, at sea for weeks at a time,
waiting his turn to take the helm of one of the incoming steamers, and
then, as like as not, he would have to put straight to sea again,
for there were many to keep, and there was need for every hard-earned
dollar. But the Captain’s chance for a vacation had come with the
children’s. He could afford to take it, since four of his little family
were to be provided for, for the entire summer, and so every one was
happy and every one believed that somehow Miss Julia must know and be so
glad for them all.

But this was the day for the start, as I told you, and the children had
started. They were in the waiting-room at the foot of Cortlandt Street,
where Courage was to meet them.

“And here she is,” exclaimed Mary, with a great sigh of relief, being
the first to espy Courage coming through the gate of the ferry-house,
“and doesn’t she look lovely!” Mary was right; Courage did look
lovely as, with Sylvia close behind her, she walked the length of the
waiting-room to where the little group {033}were standing. Other people
thought so too, as she passed, and watched her with keenest interest.
Her stylish black dress and black sailor hat were wonderfully becoming,
and the face that had been so pale and sad was flushed with pleasure
now, and with the rather uncomfortable consciousness that she and her
little party could scarcely fail to be the observed of all observers.
Mrs. Bennett was there, of course, to see them off, and the baby and
the Captain, and it must be confessed that the eyes of both father
and mother grew a little misty as they said “Good-bye” to their little
flock. The girl contingent was a trifle misty, too, but the baby was
the only one who really cried outright. However, I half believe that was
because he wanted a banana that hung in a fruit stand near by, and not
at all because the children were going to leave him; some babies seem to
have so very little feeling. But now it was time to go aboard the boat,
and the Captain and Mrs. Bennett saw the last of the little party
as they disappeared within the ferry-boat cabin, and then in fifteen
minutes more the same little party was ranged along one side of a parlor
car on the “Washington Limited”; then the wheels slowly and noiselessly
commenced to turn and they were really off; all of the little party’s
hearts thrilling {034}with the thought, and all sitting up as prim
as you please, in their drawing-room chairs, quite overawed with the
magnificence of their surroundings and the unparalleled importance of
the occasion.

Courage, very much amused, watched them for a few moments and then
suggested that they should settle themselves for the journey. Bags
were stowed away in the racks overhead, coats and hats banished to coat
hooks, and one thing and another properly adjusted, until at last four
little pair of hands having placed four little footstools at exactly the
desired angle, four pair of brand-new russet shoes found a resting-place
rather conspicuously atop of them, and the four children leaned
comfortably back in the large, upholstered chairs as though now at last
permanently established for the entire length of the journey. But of
course no amount of adjusting and arranging really meant anything of
that sort, or that they could be able to sit still for more than five
minutes at a time, and Courage and Sylvia soon had to put their wits
to work to think up ways of keeping the restless little company in some
sort of order. But fortunately none of the fellow-passengers appeared
disturbed thereby. On the contrary, they seemed very much interested,
and finally a handsome {035}old gentleman came down the aisle, and
leaning over the chair in which Courage was sitting, said courteously:

“My dear young lady, if you will pardon an old man’s curiosity, and do
not for any reason mind telling me, I should very much like to know what
you are doing, and where you are going with this little family?”

“And I am very glad to tell you,” answered Courage cordially, for since
that summer spent with Larry there had always been such a very warm
corner in her heart for all old people; and Teddy, who was sitting next
to Courage, had the grace to offer the old gentleman a chair. Then for
some time he listened intently, his kind old face glowing with pleasure
as Courage told him all about the children, and finally of the cosy
little cottage awaiting their coming down in Virginia.

“But in doing all this,” Courage concluded, “I am simply carrying out
the plans of my dearest friend, Miss Julia Everett.”

“Oh, you don’t mean it!” the old gentleman exclaimed, his voice
trembling. “I knew Miss Everett well. She always stopped with me when
she came to Washington.”

“Can it be that you are old Colonel Anderson?”

“Yes, I am Colonel Anderson, and I suppose {036}I am old,” he added,
smiling; “and can it be you are young Miss Courage, of whom I have heard
so often?”

“Yes, I am Courage, but you will excuse me, won’t you, for speaking as I
did? I only had happened to hear Miss Julia----”

Courage hesitated.

“Oh, yes, dear child, I understand perfectly. You used to hear Miss
Julia speak of me as old Colonel Anderson, and so I am, and I am not
ashamed of it either, although I could not resist the temptation to
tease you a little, which was very rude of me. But now, can it be that
it is to Miss Julia’s estate near Arlington that you are going--to the
home that her Uncle Everett left her when she was just a little slip of
a girl, years before the war?”

“Yes, that is exactly where, but I have never seen it.”

“Well, you will love it when you do. It is the dearest little spot in
the world. I will drive out some day and take luncheon with you and the
children, if I should happen to have an invitation. I could tell you
some interesting things about the old place.”

“Oh, will you come?” exclaimed Mary and Gertrude in one breath, for with
a curiosity as pardonable, I think, as that of old Mr. Anderson, all of
the children had grouped themselves {037}about Courage, and had listened
with keenest interest to every word spoken. And so one more happy
anticipation was added to the many with which their happy hearts were
overflowing.

At last the train steamed into Washington, although at times it had
seemed to the children as though it never would, and then a carriage was
soon secured, and, three on a seat, the little party crowded into it,
and they were off for their eight mile drive to Arlington.


{038}



CHAPTER V.--HOWDY

And meantime what excitement in the little cottage down in Virginia!
Everything was in readiness and everybody was on the tiptoe of
expectation. Everybody meant Mary Duff, (it was she, you know, who had
cared for little Courage through all her babyhood, and who had been sent
down to get everything in order), and besides Mary Duff, Mary Ann the
cook, old Joe and Brevet.

It must be confessed, Brevet had had a little difficulty in winning his
grandmother’s consent to this visit, but he had been able to meet every
objection with such convincing arguments, that he had come off victor in
the encounter.

“You see, Grand_na_na,” he had confidentially explained, with his pretty
little half-southern, half-darkey accent, “I is a perfec’ stranger to
them now I know, but then everything is strange to them down here, so
don’t you s’pose it would be nice for me to be right there waiting at
the gate, where I can call out {039}'How’dy’ just so soon as ever they
come in sight, and so for me not to be a stranger to them more’n the
first minute, and have them find there are folks here who are very glad
to know them right from the start? Besides, the lady--Mary Duff was her
name--told me she just knew those little Bennetts would love to see me,
and that she would surely expect me down to-day for certain.”

And so “Grand_na_na” succumbed, not having the heart to nip such noble
hospitality in the bud, and at two o’clock precisely, the best carriage
wheeled up to the door and Mammy and Brevet were quickly stowed away
within it, to say nothing of a basketful of good things covered with a
huge napkin of fine old damask. But who is Mammy? you ask, and indeed
you should have been told pages ago, for no one for many years had been
half so important as Mammy in the Ellis household. She is an old negro
woman, almost as old as Joe himself, and when on the first of January,
1863, President Lincoln issued the proclamation that made all the slaves
free, she was among the first to turn her back upon the plantation where
she was raised, and make her way to Washington. It was there that Mrs.
Ellis had found her, when in search of a nurse for her two little boys,
and from that day to this she has been the faithful worshipper of the
whole Ellis family. Now in her old age her one and only duty has been to
care for Brevet, a care constantly lessening as that little fellow daily
proves his ability to look out more and more for himself.

Brevet was not to be allowed, however, on the occasion of this first
visit to their new neighbours, to make the trip alone. “Grand_na_na” had
been very firm about that, somewhat to his chagrin, and so, if the truth
be told, Mammy’s presence in the comfortable, old-fashioned carriage was
at first simply tolerated. But that state of affairs did not last long.
Try as he would, Brevet was too happy at heart to cherish any grievance,
imaginary or otherwise, for many minutes together; and soon he and
Mammy were chatting away in the merriest fashion, and the old nurse was
looking forward to the unusual excitement of the day, with quite as
much expectation as her little charge of seven. Had she not devoted the
leisure of two long mornings of preparation to the shelling of almonds
and the stoning of raisins, and then when the day came, with eager
trembling hands, packed all the good things away in the great, roomy
hamper that seemed now to look at her so {041}complacently from the
opposite seat of the phaeton? Yes, indeed, it was every whit as glad a
day for Mammy as Brevet, and she peered out from the carriage just as
anxiously as they drove up to the gate and Mary Duff came out to greet
them. But Mammy had something to say before making any motion to leave
the carriage.

“Are you quite sure, Miss, dat dis yere little pickaninny of ours
ain’t gwine to be in any one’s way or nuffin?” she asked, bowing a
how-do-you-do to Mary, and keeping a restraining hand upon Brevet.

“Oh, perfectly sure.”

“He done told us you wanted him very much,” but in a half-questioning
tone, as though what Brevet “done told them” was sometimes “suspicioned”
 of being slightly coloured by what he himself would like to do,
notwithstanding his general high standard of truthfulness.

“Brevet is perfectly right--we do want him very much,” Mary answered,
heartily.

“Even if you have to take his old Mammy ‘long wid him, kase Miss Lindy
wasn’t quite willin to ‘low him ter come by hisself?”

“And we’re very glad to see you, Mammy,” Mary answered cordially, and
so the last of Mammy’s scruples, which were not as real as {042}Mammy
herself tried to think them, were put to rest, and Brevet was permitted
to scramble out of the carriage, while Mary Duff lent a hand to Mammy’s
more difficult alighting.

“Is dere ere a man ‘bout could lift dis yere basket ter de house for
us?” she asked, looking helplessly up to the hamper, “kase Daniel dere
has instructions from de Missus neber to leave de hosses less’n dere
ain’t no way to help it.”

“Well, I guess dere is,” chuckled a familiar voice behind her back, and
Mammy turned to discover Joe close beside her.

“Well, I klar, you heah!” she exclaimed. “Why, it seems like de whole
county turn out to welcome dese yere little Bennetts. Seems, too, like
some of us goin’ to be in de way sure ‘nuff.”

“Howsomever, some on us don’ take up so much room as oders,” grunted
Joe, surmising, and quite correctly, too, that Mammy considered his
presence on the scene something wholly unnecessary and undesirable.
“I’se heah to help wid de trunks, Mammy,” he then added; “what you heah
to help wid?”

Mammy, scorning the insinuation, turned to Mary Duff as they walked up
the path.

“You know, Honey, de Lord ain’t lef’ no choice ter most on us as ter
what size we’ll be, {043}but pears like you’d better be a fat ole Mammy
like me, than such a ole bag o’ bones as Joe yonder.”

[Illustration: 0067]

But Joe by that time was depositing his basket in the hall-way of the
cottage, and was fortunately quite beyond the fire of this personal
attack. Mary Duff was naturally much amused at the real but harmless
jealousy of these old coloured folk, and realised for perhaps the five
hundredth time what children we all are, be race and nationality what
they may.

Meantime Brevet had taken his position on the top rail of the gate, with
one arm around a slim little cedar that stood guard beside it.

“May I stand right out here, Miss Duff,” he called back to Mary, “so as
to see them a long way off?”

“Bless your heart, yes!” Mary answered, quite certain in her mind that
since Courage herself was a little girl she never had seen such a dear
child. Brevet’s watch was a brief one.

“They are coming! Hear the wheels! They are coming,” he cried
exultingly, with almost the next breath. In just two minutes more they
really _had come_, and Brevet was calling out “How’dy, how’dy, how’dy”
 at the top of his strong little lungs, to the wide-eyed {044}amazement
of the Bennetts, who had never heard this Southern abbreviation of the
Northern “How-do-you-do.” Then jumping down from his perch, he ran up to
the carriage, repeating over again his cordial welcoming “How’dy.”

“How’dy, dear little stranger!” replied Courage, waving a greeting to
Mary; “and who are you I would like to know?”

“I’m Howard Stanhope Ellis, but that’s not what you’re to call me, I
have another name. It’s the name they give--” but he did not finish
his sentence, for charming little fellow though he was, he could not be
allowed to monopolise things in this fashion, and Mary gently pushed him
aside to get him out of her way.

“And so here you are at last,” she said joyously; “welcome home, Miss
Courage. How are you, Sylvia?” while she bent down with a cordial kiss
for each friendly little Bennett. Meantime Courage was making friends
with Brevet, and a moment later the children were crowding close about
him.

“My, but I’m glad to see you all,” he exclaimed, with an emphasising
shake of his head, “and I think I know who’s who too. I believe this is
Gertrude,” laying one little brown hand on Gertrude’s sleeve, “and you
are Mary, because Mary’s the oldest, and you {045}Teddy, because Teddy
comes next, and you--you are Allan.” Brevet had learned his lesson from
Mary Duff quite literally by heart, and altogether vanquished by his’
joyous, friendly greeting, the children vied with each other in giving
him the loudest kiss and the very hardest hug, but from that first
moment of meeting it was an accepted fact that Allan held first place.
There was no gainsaying the special joyousness of his “And you--you are
Allan.” The boy play-fellow for whom he had hitherto longed in vain had
come, and to little Brevet it seemed as though the millennium had come
with him.

All this while Joe and Mammy, barely tolerating each other’s presence,
waited respectfully in the background, so that Mary had a chance to
explain who they were, as Courage stood in the path, delightedly looking
up at the dear little house that was to be her home. But Sylvia had
already made their acquaintance. After paying the driver and making sure
that nothing had been left in the carriage, she went straight toward
them. “I thought I should find some of my own people down here in
Virginia,” she said, cordially extending a hand to each as she spoke,
“but I did not expect they would be right on the spot, the very first
moment, to welcome me,” {046}"Miss Duff done tol’ us ‘bout Miss Sylvy
bein’ of de party,” said Joe with great elegance of manner, while Mammy
looked daggers at him, for replying to a remark which she considered
addressed chiefly to herself. It was queer enough, the attitude of these
two oldtime slaves toward each other, and yet to be accounted for, I
think, in their eagerness to be of use to those whom they claimed the
privilege of serving; and each was conscious, by a subtle intuition, of
a determination to outwit the other if possible in this regard--which
was all very well, if they only could have competed in the right sort of
spirit.

But there is no more time in this chapter for Mammy or Joe, nor anything
else for that matter. Indeed, it would take quite a chapter of itself if
I should try to tell you of the unpacking of Grandma Ellis’s basket, and
then of the children’s merry supper; but it seems to me there are more
important things for me to write about, and for you to read about, than
things to eat and of how the children ate them. By nine o’clock quiet
reigned in the little cottage, and “the children were nestled as snug in
their beds” as the little folk in “The Night before Christmas.” Joe and
Mammy and Brevet had long ago gone home, and Courage and Mary Duff were
sitting together in the {047}little living-room, while Sylvia, in the
hall just outside, was busy arranging the books they had brought with
them, on some hanging shelves.

[Illustration: 0073]

“I think this has been the happiest day in all my life,” said Courage.
“I have simply forgotten everything in the pleasure of those children.”
 And then, sitting down at the little cottage piano and running her hands
for a few moments over the keys, she sang softly,--

               “For all the Saints, who from their labour rest,

               Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.”

The sweet, familiar hymn brought Sylvia to the door.

“Miss Courage,” she said, standing with her arms folded behind her back,
as she had always a way of standing when deeply interested, “you have
forgotten yourself and your sorrow to-day, but not for one moment have
you really forgotten Miss Julia,” and Courage knew that this was true,
and closed the little piano with tears in her eyes and a wondrous joy
and peace in her heart.


{048}



CHAPTER VI.--ARLINGTON BEFORE THE WAR.

No sooner were our little New Yorkers settled in their pretty summer
home than they naturally desired that it should have a name, and after
much discussion, according to the Bennett custom, they all agreed that
“Little Homespun,” one of the names that Courage had suggested, seemed
to fit the cosy, unpretentious little home better than anything else
that had been thought of. No sooner were they settled either before they
became friends firm and fast of the household up at Ellismere. It needed
but very little time to bring that about, because everything was--to use
a big word because no smaller one will do--propitious. You can imagine
what it meant to Courage--taking up her home in a new land, and with
cares wholly new to her--to have a dear old lady like Grandma Ellis call
upon her, as she did the very first morning after her arrival. Of
course Courage had to explain how it was she had come way down there to
Virginia with the little Bennett children in {049}charge. Indeed, almost
before she knew it, and in answer to Grandma Ellis’s gentle inquiries,
she had told her all there was to tell--about Miss Julia, about herself
and Mary Duff and Sylvia, and finally, as always with any new friend,
the why and wherefore of her own unusual name. The tears stood in
Grandma Ellis’s eyes many times during the narration, and her face was
aglow with love and sympathy and admiration as Courage brought her story
to a close.

[Illustration: 0079]

“And now, my dear,” she had said, “I want you should know what little
there is to tell about _us_. We live just three miles from here, and in
the same old Virginia homestead where my husband was born. We, means my
son Harry, and Brevet and myself. Brevet, as you already know, perhaps,
has neither father nor mother. His mother died when he was six months
old, and his father, my oldest son, was drowned when the _Utopia_ went
down, off the coast of Spain five years ago. We are doing our best,
Harry and I, to make up to Brevet for his great loss; but it is sad that
the little fellow should only know the love of an old grandmama like me,
and never of his own young mother. But I do not want to burden you with
my sorrows, dear child; I only want you to know we must all be the best
of friends {050}the whole summer through. It seems to me we just need
each other, and in order to commence right, you must all come and spend
the day with us to-morrow.”

And on the morrow they all did go up to Ellismere, Mary Duff and Sylvia
with the others; the children went again the day after that, and then
all hands from Ellismere came down to Homespun for the day, and so what
with constant coming and going from one house to the other, in just two
weeks’ time it was as though they had known each other always. And
then it was that Joe arranged with Courage for the day to be spent at
Arlington.

“The Ellis’s will all come,” Joe explained, “Mammy wid de res’ of ‘em,
I suppose,” (but very much as though he preferred she should not) “and
I done wish de Colonel could be persuaded to drive out from Washington,
case ‘tween us we knows mos’ dere is of interest happened at Arlington.
He use’ to visit at de big house when General Lee lived in it ’fo’ de
wah, an’ I was a slave on de place.”

“You don’t mean Colonel Anderson, do you, Joe?”

“De berry same, Miss.”

“Well, then, of course he’ll come. He is an old, old friend of Miss
Julia’s. I met him on {051}the train when we came down and he asked me
to invite him out some time,” and so Courage wrote a note of invitation
that very day which Joe, with his own hands, carried into Washington. It
was written on pretty blue paper, which had “Homespun” engraved at the
top of the sheet and Tiffany’s mark on the envelope as well. It must be
confessed that Courage had a little extravagant streak in her; that is,
she loved to have everything just about as nearly right as she could.
Sister Julia had encouraged the little streak, knowing the peculiar
pleasure that the reasonable indulgence of a refined taste brings into
life, “but, dear,” she had often said to Courage, “there is one thing to
look out for, and that is that the more you gratify your own taste
the more you must give to the people who have no taste at all, or very
little of anything that makes life enjoyable,” all of which good advice
Courage had taken to heart and remembered. But extravagant streak or no,
the stylish little blue note accomplished its purpose, for at precisely
nine o’clock the next morning Colonel Anderson wheeled up at Joe’s
cabin, in his high, old-fashioned carriage, and at almost the same
moment arrived the Homespun buckboard with its load of eight (for Sylvia
and Mary Duff were to be in {052}as many good times as possible) and a
moment later Grandma Ellis, Harry, Brevet and old Mammy drove upon the
scene.

“Now, how would we best manage things, Joe?” asked Colonel Anderson,
after everybody had had a. little chat with everybody else, and luncheon
baskets and wraps had been safely stowed away in Joe’s cabin.

“Well, seems ter me we’d better take a look over de house first, den
take a stroll through de groun’s an’ come back to de shade of dat ol’
ches’nut yonder for de story. You can’t make a story bery interestin’
when you hab a walkin’ aujence, an’ de aujence what’s walkin’ can’t
catch on ter de story bery well either.”

It was easy to see that this suggestion was a wise one, so with
the exception of Grandma Ellis and Mammy, for whom comfortable
rocking-chairs were at once placed under the chestnut tree, the little
party made its way into the old colonial house.

“Arlington House is rather a cheerless looking place now, I admit,”
 sighed Colonel Anderson, as they walked through the large empty rooms,
“but wait till we have the story and we’ll fill it full enough.”

“Yes, but don’t let us wait any longer than we have to,” answered
Courage, and as this was the sentiment of the entire party, they
{053}hurried from the house for the walk that was to follow. The four
little Bennetts kept close to each other all the way, Mary, the
eldest, leading little Gertrude by the hand. They were very quiet, too,
wondering and overawed by the unbroken lines of graves on every side.

“I wonder if Teddy and I will have to go to a war when we grow up,” said
Allan at last, half under his breath, with a perceptible little shiver
and as though barely mustering courage to speak.

“We’ll go if there is a war, I can tell you that,” Teddy replied, rather
scornfully.

“Then we’ll be buried here, I suppose,” and Allan shook his head
hopelessly, as though standing that moment at the foot of their two
soldier-graves.

“And so will I,” affirmed Brevet, who had kept his place close beside
his favourite Allan from the start. “I’ll speak to be buried right by
both of you, too, just as though I was one of your family,” and Brevet
stood as he spoke with his arms folded and his brows knit, in solemn and
soldier-like fashion.

Now and then the little party would group itself around Colonel Anderson
as he read the inscription from some monument or headstone, telling of
the valour of the man whose grave it marked and often of the brave deed
{054}dared that cost the hero his life. And so some idea was gained of
the beauty and significance of the great soldier cemetery, and then all
hurried back to Grandma Ellis, and Colonel Anderson began his story.

An odd assortment of rush-bottomed chairs had been brought from Joe’s
cabin for the grown-ups, and the children were scattered about on shawls
and carriage rugs on the ground.

“Now, it isn’t easy,” said Colonel Anderson thoughtfully, “to know just
where to commence.”

“Den I’ll tell you,” said Joe, who was seated at the Colonel’s elbow.
“Dere ain’t no such proper place ter begin as at de beginnin’. Tell ‘em
as how der was a time when Arlington was a great unbroken forest, an’
how way back early in de eighteen hundreds, George Washington Parke
Custis came by de lan’ through his father and built Arlington House.”

“If you are going as far back as that, Joe, you ought to go farther,
and tell how there was an old house here even before this one, which was
built way back early in the seventeen hundreds. It was a little house,
with only four rooms, and it stood down yonder near the bank of the
river, and was bought {055}with the land by John Custis from the
Alexanders. John Custis, you know, children, was Martha Washington’s
son, for she was a widow with two children when she married General
Washington; and George Washington Parke Custis, who lived for awhile
in the little house before he built this beautiful big one, was her
grandson. He was a fortunate young fellow, as the world counts being
fortunate, for he had more money than he knew what to do with. As soon
as this fine house was completed, George Custis was married and brought
his bride to his new home, where for the next fifty years they lived the
most happy and contented life imaginable. They had one daughter, a very
beautiful young lady, as I myself clearly remember, for my birthday and
her wedding-day fell together, and that was why I was allowed to
attend the wedding. My mother and Miss Mollie’s mother were the warmest
friends, but I was only a boy of ten, and would have been left at home,
I think, but for the coincidence of the birthday. I remember my mother
told me Miss Custis said she would like me always to think of her
wedding-day, when my birthday came round, and I can tell you, children,
I always do, even though I am an old man and have started in the
seventies.” {056}"An’ so do I,” chimed in Joe; “I neber done think of
one without de oder, so closely are dey ’sociated in my min’.”

“Why, were you there too, Joe?” asked Brevet, with a merry little
twinkle in his eyes, for if there was one story more often told than any
other for Brevet’s edification, it was the story of Miss Mary Custis’s
wedding.

“Sho’ as yo’ born, Honey,” quite overlooking Brevet’s insinuation in his
absorbing interest in the subject. “It was a bery busy day for me, de
day Miss Mollie was married.”

“How ole was you, Joe, ‘bout dat time?” asked Mammy, her old eyes
a-twinkle with mischief as well as Brevet’s, for Joe’s age, as every
one knew, was a mere matter of guesswork, so careful was he that no one
should ever come to a knowledge of the same.

“Seems ter me dat question ain’t no wise relavent,” replied Joe,
bristling up a little, “but de Colonel and I warn’t so bery far apart
when we was chilluns.”

“Why, were you friends then?” asked Allan Bennett.

“Well, that day made us friends,” answered Colonel Anderson, “and this
was the way it happened. Everything was ready for the wedding. As many
of the guests as it would hold were assembled in the drawing-room, the
{057}room on the left of the front door there as you go in, but the
clergyman had not arrived. Then it was that Mr. Custis, beginning to
grow nervous, called to Joe there, who stood on the porch, as fine as
silk in his best clothes and white cotton gloves, ready to open the
carriage doors for the guests as they arrived.

“‘Joe,’ called Mr. Custis, ‘run down the road, and see if you see a sign
of a carriage anywhere in sight,’ and, children, what do you suppose
Joe did? Well, he just stood stock still, looking down at his bright
polished boots, and he never budged an inch.”

“It’s de truf,” said Joe, shaking his head regretfully, for the children
were looking to him for confirmation of the story.

“You see the boots were very shiny,” continued the Colonel, in a tone
of apology for Joe, “and the roads were very very muddy, so that he just
couldn’t bring himself to do it. Fortunately for Joe, I imagine, Mr.
Custis had not waited to see him start, taking for granted, of course,
that he would obey at once, and then what did I do but spring down the
steps and run on Joe’s errand for him, only too thankful if I could do
anything to prove my gratitude for being allowed to be present at that,
to me, greatest of occasions. I had to wait less than five minutes
before I discovered the open {058}chaise, which had been sent into
Washington to bring the dominie, tearing up the road.

“‘They’re coming, they’ll be here in a minute,’ I called, hurrying back
to Joe, and then he rushed away in his new shiny boots and delivered
my message to Mr. Custis, pretending, as the rogue confessed to me
afterward, to be quite out of breath from the haste with which he
had come. And then in the next moment Mr. Meade, for that was the
clergyman’s name, was really there, but he came in at the back door and
slipped upstairs as quickly as he could, followed by Joe and myself. You
see he had driven right into the heart of a heavy thunder shower, just
outside of Washington, and was drenched to the skin. There was nothing
for it but that he must make a change of clothing as quickly as he
could, so Joe, who knew where Mr. Custis kept his clothes, ran hither
and thither, bringing one article after another, and I helped the
minister into them--but my, how he did look! Mr. Custis was short and
stout, and Mr. Meade was tall and thin, and I didn’t see how any one
could keep their faces straight with such a guy of a minister. They
couldn’t have done it either, if they had seen how he looked, could
they, Joe?”

“No, Colonel, not for a minute,” chuckled Joe. {059}"But why didn’t they
see?” questioned eager little Allan.

“Why, because, of course, he had brought his gown with him, and it
covered him all up,” for Brevet, able to anticipate much of the familiar
story, was glad to have a hand in its telling.

“I wish you could know how the house looked in those days,” said the
Colonel with a sigh of regret, echoed by a much louder and deeper sigh
on the part of Joe. “It was full of the most beautiful things. There was
a magnificent array of old family portraits; among them two or three of
George and Martha Washington. Then there was a marvelous old sideboard
that held many beautiful things that had belonged to Washington. I
remember in particular some great silver candlesticks with snuffers
and extinguishers, and silver wine-coolers, and some exquisite painted
china, part of a set that had been given to Washington by the Society of
the Cincinnati.”

“I do not think you have told the children,” interrupted Grandma Ellis,
“who it was that Miss Custis married.”

“Can that be possible?” provoked that he should have left out anything
so important. “Why, it was General Robert E. Lee!” {060}"I’m afraid we
don’t know who General Lee was,” said Mary Bennett, blushing a little,
and then she added quickly, “you see we live so far away from where
the war was fought,” for Brevet’s undisguised look of astonishment was
really quite paralysing.

“We only know what we have learnt at school,” Teddy further explained,
“and we don’t remember so very much of that.”

“Why, General Lee,” said Brevet earnestly, feeling that he must come
personally to the rescue of such dense ignorance, “was the greatest
general they had down South. He would have whipped us Yankees if any one
could.”

“He was a fine man though, a fine man,” said Joe, solemnly. “He and Miss
Mary lived right on here at Arlington after dey was married and dere
wasn’t a slave of us on de place who wouldn’t hab let Lieutenant Lee
walk right ober us if he’d wanted to. So den when Mr. Custis died in
1857, and Lieutenant Lee done come to be de haid of de house, it was
changin’ one good master for anoder.”

“Was Joe a slave?” asked Allan, drawing himself up to Mammy’s knees,
near whom he happened to be sitting, and speaking in an awe-struck
whisper.

“Why, yes, Honey, Joe was born in a cabin {061}nex’ where he lives
to-day, an’ we was all slaves down here ‘fo’ de wah, but de coloured
folks here at Arlington was always treated ver’ han’some. I wasn’t so
fortunate, Honey--I belonged down to a plantation in Georgia, where de
Missus was kind, but where our Master treated us des like cattle, an’ I
had my only chile sold away from me, when she wasn’t no mo’ den fo’teen
or fifteen, an’ I don’ know ter this day whether she be livin’ or daid.”

“Oh, Mammy!” was all Allan could say in reply, but his little face
looked worlds of sympathy.

Meanwhile Joe and Colonel Anderson between them went on with the story
of Arlington, now one and now the other taking up its thread. Joe told
of the many cosy cabins at that time dotted about the place in which
the slaves lived, and of their happy life on a plantation where they all
felt as though they were part of the household, and took as great pride
and pleasure as the Master himself in everything belonging to it.
He described, too, to the great delight of the children, the wild
excitement of the Autumn hunting parties, when Mr. Custis and a whole
houseful of guests would start off at sunrise, coming home at night
with their game-bags full to a banquet in the house and an evening of
unbounded fun and merri{062}ment. The Colonel told about the house
itself, for from the time he became a young man until the day when,
about to take command of a Washington regiment, he came to say goodbye
to Lieutenant Lee, he had been a constant visitor there. He told of the
luxury and comfort of the delightful home, now so bare and desolate; of
the pretty sewing-rooms in the right wing, set apart for Mrs. Custis
and Miss Mary; of the cosy library in the left wing, and then of the
pictures painted on the walls by Mr. Custis. The pictures represented
five of the battles of the Revolution, and Washington was the central
figure in them all. There is just a trace of some of his work left now
on the rear entrance of the wide hall, but Colonel Anderson admitted
they could never have been considered very fine, rather detracting than
adding to the other beautiful finishings of the house.

“But what became of all the beautiful things and how did the place
ever happen to become a national cemetery?” asked Courage in one of
the pauses, when both Joe and the Colonel seemed to be casting about
in their minds for what would best be told next. She had listened as
intently as any of the children to the whole narrative, and was every
whit as much interested. {063}"Well, it seems to me that is almost a
story in itself,” Colonel Anderson answered, “and that we would better
have out the luncheon baskets and take a bit of rest.”

Even the children agreed but half-heartedly at first to this
interruption, but the avidity with which they afterward settled down to
sandwiches and sponge cake showed that they really had minds not above
the physical demands of life.

[Illustration: 0093]


{064}



CHAPTER VII.--ARLINGTON AFTERWARD.


Miss Sylvy,” asked Joe, rather solemnly, “would you be so kin’ as ter
tell me whar you hail from?”

“Do you mean where I was born?” Joe nodded. “Well, I’m very sorry, but I
can’t tell you,” and the colour surged perceptibly under her dark skin.

“H’m,” said Joe, pressing his lower lip over the upper one, as he had a
habit of doing when he considered any matter required careful thought.
Then after a pause, “Well, your las’ name, Miss Sylvy, will you tell me
dat? I don’ rightly remember eber to have heard it.”

“Sylvester, Joe, but it’s a name I chose for myself. I do not know what
name I was born to.”

“Why, however, Miss Sylvy, did dat happen?” and Joe showed such deep and
tender interest that Sylvia, who cared to talk on the subject with very
few, gladly entered into a full explanation. She told him, as she had
{065}told Courage that summer night so many years before on Larry’s
lighter, how she had found herself landed in the orphan asylum, with
no name as far as any one knew, excepting just Sylvia, and how she had
named herself Sylvester after one of the ladies who came to the asylum
to teach. And then she continued, giving a brief outline of her life
since that time, all of which proved most absorbing to Joe, because with
the telling of Sylvia’s story he learnt so much of interest about Miss
Courage as well.

“But, Honey,” he asked at the end of the story, with a sigh as of one
who has listened with an intentness bordering upon fatigue, “who put you
in dat ’sylum?”

“Some one just left me at the asylum at night, with a card pinned on
to my dress with ‘Sylvia’ written on it, and saying that I had neither
father nor mother, and then ran away in the darkness, but I don’t
believe any one related to me would have treated me like that. I would
rather you would not say anything about all this, Joe. It is only
because you are one of my own people and seem so kind and interested
that I have told you.”

“Thank you bery much for de confidence, Miss Sylvy, for my ole heart
went right out to you from de day you done come walkin’ up de {066}path
at Little Homespun, but I’ll keep it safe, Miss Sylvy, never you fear.”

Joe and Sylvia had been busy washing dishes and clearing up after the
luncheon, and it was when their work was finished and they were waiting
under the chestnut tree for the others to come back, that they had had
their little talk. It reached its natural conclusion just as Colonel
Anderson came strolling up from the river, blowing a shrill whistle
between two fingers, the signal previously agreed upon to call the
children together.

“Now, do you know,” he said, when the little company had bestowed itself
in much the same fashion as in the morning, “I have an idea that you
will have to let Joe and me do all the talking now. We have only a short
afternoon before us, and there is a great deal to tell.”

No one looked as though that would be the least hardship, and Joe
explained that he himself would rather listen than talk, “less’n de.
Colonel disremembered somethin’ very important.”

“Likely as not I shall, Joe, but it seems the point at which to commence
this afternoon is with General Lee. At the time that he married Miss
Mollie Custis he was a lieutenant in the United States Army, but he had
gradu{067}ated at the head of his class at West Point only two
years before. After he was married, as you know, he made his home at
Arlington, but he had to be away from it much of the time because of his
duties in the army. He was a fine fellow, I can tell you, and held one
responsible position after another. He was right in the thick of our war
with Mexico, and won rapid promotion for his courage and daring. After
a brilliant charge at Chapultepec, when he was severely wounded, he was
made a brevet-colonel by General Scott. It seemed after that as though
he was everywhere where a brave, fearless man was needed. He was in
command in Texas when the Indians were attacking the settlers there; and
was in many a bloody engagement. Later on, he was the commanding officer
when the house was charged at Harper’s Ferry, where John Brown had taken
refuge. I wish there was time, children, to stop and tell you about John
Brown. You know the old song about ‘John Brown’s body lies a mouldering
in the grave, but his soul goes marching on.’ Get Joe here to sing it
for you some day, if you don’t. Well, you see by all this that General
Lee had done a great deal for his country; but there came a day when he
felt it his duty to turn against it, that is, to take up arms against
the {068}United States. You all know how the great civil war finally
came about; how the Northern States thought the Southern States should
not hold slaves, and how the Southern States thought they had the right
to decide whether they should or not without any interference from the
North, and so banded themselves together and said they would secede from
the United States and form a confederacy of their own. This Virginia,
whose air we are breathing this minute, was one of those states, and
was General Lee’s native state as well; and when the time came to
choose between his state and his country, he decided to side with the
Confederacy. Then, of course, there was nothing for him to do but to
resign from the United States Army. He sent his letter of resignation to
General Scott on the twenty-second of April, 1861, and then at once
left Arlington with his wife and children, for it was quite too near
to Washington for him to stay now that he had taken a stand against the
Government, and the very next day he was made commander-in-chief of the
army in Virginia. A few days before this, that is, on the fifteenth
of April, President Lincoln had called for seventy-five thousand
volunteers, and three days after the Lees had left, the great army of
the North came pouring into Washington and all the {069}country round
about. Camp-fires crackled among the oaks at Arlington, and the house
itself was taken possession of by the officers, When the troops first
arrived at Arlington they tramped through the deserted rooms, remaining
just as the Lees had left them, and concluding that ‘all’s fair in love
and war,’ they simply helped themselves to the forsaken treasures.

“Oh, but dose were drefful days!” said Joe, as though he must give
vent to the thoughts Colonel Anderson’s words had stirred: “I neber can
forgive dose Union soldiers, neber. Seems as dough dey might done have
respect for a gentleman’s place, but not a bit of it. Seemed as dough
dey could not be spiteful ‘nuff ’gainst de General. Des fancy seein’
things dat had belonged to Washington himself carried out of de house,
and sol’ in de streets up dere in de city of Washington, and some of de
negroes--shame on ’em!--ran away with things an’ sol’ ’em for more
money dan dey themselves would have sol’ for ’fo’ de wah. Oh, it was
pitiful to see the flower beds and lawns tramped over, as dough dey had
been so much rubbish, and it wa’n’t long befo’ de smooth green terraces
were just ragged mud-banks. You’d have thought I’d have gone away,
wouldn’t you? But I couldn’t bring my{070}self to leave de ole place,
until I ’listed an’ went down to Alabama wid a coloured regiment.
Dere, Colonel, I done interrupt you, didn’t I? But really, I was des
thinkin’ aloud more dan talkin’, for I des can’t keep my thoughts to
myself, when I grows ’stracted over de troublousness of dose times.”

“I don’t blame you, Joe, I don’t blame you,” said Colonel Anderson;
“but, as for me, I was feeling pretty hot against General Lee those
days. I didn’t see how he could make up his mind to regularly take up
arms against his country, and I have an idea that I felt for awhile that
he was treated no worse than he deserved; but that’s all bygones now,
as well as the dear old Arlington home, that will never be a home again.
You see, almost at the commencement of the war, children, Washington,
with all the country immediately about, became the hospital centre, and
soon a surgeon’s staff was quartered in the house yonder, in addition
to the officers already there; and at the same time long canvas shelters
were constructed in those woods, to which the poor sick and wounded
soldiers were brought from camp and battlefield--and sadly enough many
of them died here. At first all who died were taken to the Soldiers’
Home Cemetery on the other side of Washington to be {071}buried, but the
day came, as you know, when this very place was turned into a cemetery,
and this was how it came about. One afternoon as President Lincoln was
starting for his usual drive, which seemed to be the only way by which
he could gain any relief from the burdens of that anxious time, he met
General Meigs (who was Quarter-master General then of the United States
Army) walking in the White House grounds. Noticing how tired and worn
out the General looked, the President invited him to drive with him, and
General Meigs accepted. It was the President’s purpose to drive out to
Arlington, and when they reached there, the President started off for a
quiet stroll; but General Meigs, whose thoughts were very busy just then
as to what should be done with the poor soldiers, dying in such numbers
in and about Washington, was soon deep in conference with the surgeons
in charge. You see there would soon have been no more room in other
cemeteries, and it was for the Quarter-master General to decide what was
to be done in the matter. Now they say that General Meigs indulged in
very bitter feelings toward his old friend General Lee, and that when he
rejoined the President he said, ‘Lee shall never return to Arlington, no
matter what the issue of the war may be,’ {072}feeling evidently that he
should be fully punished in any case for the stand he had taken. Just at
that moment a sad little procession came that way. The bodies of several
poor fellows, who had died in the hospital tents, were being carried
on canvas stretchers to a spot from whence they could be taken to the
Soldiers’ Home Cemetery.

“‘How many men are awaiting burial?’ asked General Meigs of the Sergeant
in charge of the squad.

“‘Altogether a dozen, sir,’ the Sergeant answered.

“‘Bury them there,’ ordered the General, pointing to a low terrace
bordering the garden.”

“But did General Meigs have any right to turn General Lee’s place into a
cemetery?” asked Courage, a little warmly, feeling that an interruption
was excusable under the circumstances. To be fair always, if possible,
to everybody, was a working principle with Courage, and this proceeding
of General Meigs’s did not seem to her quite fair.

“Yes, I think he had a perfect right, Miss Courage. In time of war the
Government certainly has a right to take possession, if necessary, of
property belonging to any one in open rebellion against it; and besides,
five {073}months before Arlington was converted into a cemetery, the
place had been put up at public sale and bought by the Government. It
was not, I believe, until 1873, however, that the Lees received any
money for the estate, and that I admit does not seem fair at all. And
there is another right of which I am certain, and that is that the
brave fellows whose bodies rest in these graves had a right to the most
beautiful spot anywhere in these United States of ours for their last
resting-place. No, I think it was fitting that Arlington should become
one of our national cemeteries, and I believe even Joe yonder, thinks so
too.”

“Yes I do, Colonel Anderson,” Joe answered, solemnly. “Much as I love
General Lee, I can’t forget what de war cos’ de country in de loss of
human life, and General Lee done took a great ’sponsibility ’pon
him, when he help de war on by takin’ command of de Southern troops.
Yes, I’m glad dat de fine ole place has been pressed into de service of
de country, in des de way it has been.”

Colonel Anderson’s question put to Joe and Joe’s reply seemed to loosen
the tongues of the little company. Almost every one from Brevet up had
some question or other to ask of the Colonel, and he was quite willing
that they should, for they had all listened so atten{074}tively that
the story had been told more quickly than either Joe or the Colonel had
thought possible.

“And now, children,” said Brevet, with the air of a little grandfather,
“do you wonder that I love to come and spend the day with Joe? Why,
there isn’t a minute when I’m here, that he isn’t telling me something
‘bout before the war, or since the war, and when we go back to the cabin
and Joe makes the hoe-cake and broils a chicken for luncheon, and I
get the china down from the cupboard and set the table, with both of us
talking most interesting all the time, and the smell of the cooking just
filling all the cabin,--well, there isn’t ever such a happy time, is
there, Joe?” Brevet had made his way to Joe’s side as he spoke, and
reaching up, put one chubby little arm around his neck.

“No, bless yo’ little white heart, dere never is quite such a happy
time!” and Joe drew the little fellow into his lap and held him close,
as though he would love to keep him there forever.

“Is being in the cabin and having Joe cook the hoe-cake and the chicken
nicer than having luncheon out here in the grass like this?” asked Allan
Bennett, a whole world of envy in his tone.

{075}"A heap nicer,” was Brevet’s not uncertain reply.

“Do you really t’ink so, Honey?” asked Joe, smiling from ear to ear.
“Well, den, all you little Bennetts is invited on de spot, to take Fo’th
of July dinner wid me in my cabin, an’ if Miss Courage will honour me
wid her presence, an’ de Colonel will come out from Washington, an’ Miss
Sylvy will lend me a hand wid de preparations, strikes me we might hab a
good time sure nuff.”

Everybody accepted Joe’s invitation with alacrity, and there could
not have been a happier ending to a perfect day than to have just such
another perfect day planned for at its close. It simply took all the
bitterness out of the parting that followed soon after.

“Miss Lindy,” whispered Joe importantly, as he helped Grandma Ellis
into the carriage, “I ’spects you and Mars Harry for de Fo’th of July
dinner, but as dere won’t be no room for Mammy I didn’t make no public
mention of your two names. Seemed as dough it might make her feel a bit
uncomfortable if she was de only one not mentioned; but you understan’,
Miss Lindy, de cabin am small an’ Mammy large, an’” (putting his hand
to his mouth and speaking in a still lower whisper) “seems like Mammy
gettin’ {076}too old to be of much use to anybody. You un’erstan’, Miss
Lindy?”

“Oh, yes, I understand perfectly,” Grandma Ellis answered, very much
amused, “and I’ll make it all right with Mammy.” But from Grandma
Ellis’s point of view Mammy did not seem to be growing old one whit more
rapidly than old Joe himself.


{077}



CHAPTER VIII.--TO SAVE BREVET.

Between one happy time and another the summer passed on at Little
Homespun. Not that there was not occasionally an unhappy time--if
everything had moved perfectly smoothly for three whole months together,
in a house where there were four irrepressible children, with many of
the faults common to the average child the world over, it simply would
have been a miracle outright. No, indeed; there were times now and then
when Courage quite lost her patience and would have liked to box and
ship those four little Bennetts straight back to their mother, and there
were days when even good-natured Mary Duff lost her patience completely,
and declared she would chastise the first one of them that dared to
cross the threshold of the kitchen; but then, to be quite fair, I have
more than a glimmering notion that Courage and Mary Duff had their
naughty moods too, as well as the children. You can’t feel perfectly
right, you know, and always behave just as {078}you should every minute
simply because you happen to be grown up. It would be very fine if you
could, and there is no doubt that with both grown-ups and children,
trying hard to get the best of the naughty moods will in time accomplish
wonders.

But taken as a whole the unhappy times at Homespun were nothing more
than motes in the Homespun sunshine. Most of the time merry, happy
voices rang through and about the house from dawn till sunset. Peals
of happy laughter, that made any one laugh who heard them, echoed
everywhere. Bits of childish song floated down stairs and up stairs or
came in at the open windows--“I’se a little Alabama Coon” always the
burden of the refrain when Brevet was down for the day. Then, toward
twilight, or more often a little later, when it had really grown quite
dark, the same dear childish voices blended in a sweet evening hymn
would float out at the open windows, and the little people whose whole
minds had been given to play the long summer day through, would quiet
down and then go contentedly off to bed, their childish hearts full of
a sweet peace that they hardly understood, and which was not strange
at all, for it was simply the peace that “passeth all understanding.”
 {079}But not all the days by any manner of means were spent in or about
Little Homespun. Joe’s Fourth of July dinner had been a great success,
and there had followed several all-day excursions carefully planned in
all their details by Uncle Harry, and every one of them voted a great
success. The fall that had broken Uncle Harry’s arm had proved a
veritable “windfall” for the children, if a windfall means something
very pleasant that comes in your way quite by accident, like apples
strewn by the wind unexpectedly at your feet. It had not been altogether
an unpleasant experience for Uncle Harry either, notwithstanding, though
it was now late in August, the arm was still in a sling. Twice it had
had to be reset, and that had of course been very trying; and yet but
for that arm he would have been delving away the whole summer through
in a hot office up at Washington, and the children, without knowing
of course what they were missing, would in fact have foregone half the
delight of the summer. In Uncle Harry’s profession, no right arm to use
meant nothing to do whatever, and so he was thankful enough that Courage
and the Bennetts had found their way down to old Virginia, and that
he had been able to plan and carry out so many delightful excursions
{080}for their enjoyment. But the summer’s crown of pleasure, as far as
the Bennetts were concerned, had been the days spent at Ellismere with
Brevet on his island.

I half believe I have not mentioned this island before, for which
omission I am perfectly confident Brevet would never forgive me. The
idea of trying to write anything whatever about him and not tell about
that island the very first thing! It was altogether a wonderful place,
I assure you. It lay about a hundred feet out from the shore, just in
front of the Ellismere homestead; and as there was not another island
within sight of it, Brevet always gratefully cherished the belief that
it had been placed there just for him. It was about seventy feet long,
and almost as wide, and it boasted a steep little ledge of rock on the
side near the shore and two very respectable little pine trees. But it
was what the hand of man had achieved upon this little island that made
it the wonderful place it was, and that hand none other than old black
Joe’s. It was he who had said one sunshiny May morning: “Brevet, I’ll
build a camp for you over on that island,” and true to his word Joe had
driven up to Ellismere every day that summer that he could spare from
his not very arduous duties at Arlington, and he had worked {081}away as
zealously as though he had assumed the work under contract.

As a result it had been finished the October previous, and Brevet had
had several weeks to enjoy it before the cold weather obliged him to
break camp for the winter. Grandma Ellis’s contribution to the scheme
had been a cedar row-boat and a pair of spoon oars, by which to have
communication with the island, but for everything else Joe was to be
thanked. He had cut and sewed the tent, to say nothing of a canvas
cot. He had manufactured tables and chairs, and best of all a soldier’s
chest, with

                   HOWARD STANHOPE ELLIS

                        BREVET-CAPTAIN

burned in clear-cut letters upon the lid. There was even a little desk
of rude contrivance upon which Brevet, after the successful conclusion
of most exciting battles, would write cheering letters home to his
grandmother. Outside of the tent hung a good-sized kettle over a bed of
ashes, that bore witness to many a good meal cooked within it, while on
the rocky ledge above, a toy brass cannon commanded the harbour, making
the island quite invulnerable from any assault that might be attempted
from the side near the shore. {082}Was it strange then that to the
Bennetts, and especially to the boys Teddy and Allan, this unique little
spot, with its perfect equipment, offered more possibilities of
good times than anything they themselves could in any way concoct or
invent?--and they had lived up to their possibilities, though that had
involved living at Ellismere most of the time. However, Grandma Ellis
assured Courage they were not a bit of trouble, and Courage took her at
her word, for the sake of what it meant to the children.

But, of all the wildly-exciting and happy days, none had seemed quite so
exciting and happy as the day to which we have now come in this story.
Perhaps the fact that there could not by any chance be many more of
these times, lent its own specially brightening charm to the blessings
that must soon take their flight; for it was the 27th of August by
the calendar, and by the middle of September Little Homespun would be
closed, and Courage and the Bennetts have taken their departure. Joe
had been with the children all day, and he was the one to be thanked
for most of its wildly exciting features. Single-handed, but supposed to
represent a whole regiment, he had tried in a score of ways to effect
a landing on the island; but by dint of unceasing vigi{083}lance the
children had succeeded in keeping him at bay, until at last, despairing
and exhausted, he had beaten a retreat to the main land. Indeed, so hard
and unremitting had been the labours of the children, that about the
middle of the afternoon Courage, who had been having an all-day
chat with Grandma Ellis and was afraid the children would quite wear
themselves out, succeeded in coaxing them to the shore, under promise
of a story, and it was not to be any ordinary, made-up story either.
Naturally in her daily contact with the children, Courage had alluded
now and then to her own childhood, and with the result that they had
extracted from her the pledge that she would tell them all about it some
day. But as yet Courage’s “some day” never had dawned, although they had
repeatedly begged for the story--now they concluded the time had come to
take a stand.

“Will you tell us the story about yourself if we come over?” Teddy
called from the island. “We are all agreed we cannot think of laying
down our arms unless you will.”

“Agreed,” Courage called back, glad to commit them to an hour of quiet
at any cost; and so the children embarked and rowed over, and Grandma
entreated so hard that she might be allowed to listen too, that Courage
{084}yielded, and the little group gathered itself about her big
rocking-chair on the gallery. Joe was also permitted to form one of the
party; but there was another listener, who would not have been tolerated
for a moment if his whereabouts had been known. He was stretched
full length on the hair-cloth sofa just between the windows in the
living-room, and, knowing it would be quite impossible for him to gain
permission to be a hearer, he was just sufficiently unprincipled to
listen without so much as saying “by your leave.”

You know the story that Courage told--if not you may read it if you have
a mind, in the little book to which this is a sequel. At the outset,
of course, she told how she had come by her unusual name, which was the
greatest relief to Joe and Brevet. They had wanted so much to have that
explained the whole summer through and yet had not quite liked to
ask. The remainder of the story was new to all save Grandma Ellis, and
Courage, now that she had really started, tried to be faithful to
every detail that could possibly have any interest, from the day of her
christening to the night when the draw was open and she took her wild
leap in the darkness. When she had finished every one sat perfectly
still for a minute. Courage told her own story much better {085}than
any one else has told or could tell it, and her great absorbing love
for Miss Julia shone out like a golden thread all through the telling.
Grandma Ellis was the first to draw a long breath and break the silence.

“Oh, but I wish I might have known your Miss Julia,” she said.

“You know somebody who is just exactly like her,” said Mary Bennett,
putting her arm about Courage; “_just exactly!_” and this she said very
slowly and firmly, as though she thought Courage might be inclined to
differ with her, but Courage only said, “Dear child,” in a low whisper,
so grateful was she for the most blessed praise that could possibly come
to her.

“Let us see Miss Julia’s picture now, please,” urged the children, and
Courage drew from her dress an exquisite miniature, set in pearls, and
attached to a violet ribbon worn about her neck. They had all seen it
many a time before, but it seemed to take on a new beauty in the light
of all they had been hearing. It was when the picture had been passed
slowly from hand to hand, and the natural thing seemed to be for the
little party to break up, that Allan was the first to discover that one
of the party had disappeared.

“Why, where is Brevet?” he exclaimed, as {086}though part of his
personal belongings had given him the slip.

“Why, sure ‘nuff, where is dat chile?” queried Joe, getting up from his
chair a little stiffly and peering up to the gallery roof and to the
branches of the trees, as though the most unlikely spot imaginable was
precisely the spot in which to expect to find his little Captain. “Seems
to me it looks a little ugly over there toward Fort Meyer,” he added,
stepping to the end of the porch and shading his eyes with his hand.

At these words Harry, who had been thinking over all he had heard, rose
noiselessly from the lounge and slipped away to the rear of the house.
There he saw at a glance that it did indeed look more than “a little
ugly” over toward Fort Meyer. A large, funnel-shaped cloud of a dark
brown color loomed high on the horizon and Harry’s heart sank within
him. He had seen and known during a summer’s surveying in the West, the
wreck and ruin that may follow in the train of such a cloud, and he
knew that everything should be gotten into shape as quickly as possible.
Hurrying quickly to the front porch he said, with as much composure as
he could muster:

“You would better go directly into the house, Grandma, we may be going
to have {087}quite a storm. Send the children through all the rooms and
have every shutter drawn to, and every window closed and fastened.”

“But Brevet,” said Grandma, trying her best to keep her voice steady,
“no one knows where Brevet is. No one saw him go, or has any idea where
he went.”

“Oh, he can’t be far away,” Harry answered, cheerily. “Joe and I will
find him in a jiffy. Now you do as I say, Grandma,” gently pushing her
toward the door, “and, children, whisk these chairs into the house, and
then make for the doors and windows and close them tightly. Don’t stop
to look, or lose a single minute.”

Harry succeeded in speaking calmly, but his manner showed how urgent
he deemed the need of haste, and try as she would Grandma found herself
unequal to the occasion. Her limbs refused to support her, and once
inside the house she sank into the nearest chair, and, burying her face
in her hands, broke into an agony of sobs and tears. To have little
Brevet missing at such an anxious moment was more than her over-strained
nerves could bear. Courage saw instantly it was for her to take command
of the situation, and sending the children hither and thither through
the house as Harry had directed, she herself hurried {088}away for the
stimulant of which Grandma Ellis so sorely stood in need.

Meanwhile poor old Joe, who in his alarm for Brevet’s safety had lost
his head completely, had been wasting precious moments in looking in the
most impossible places.

“Oh, Mars Harry, whar can dat blessed child be?” he said, coming up to
Harry with the tears streaming down his face.

“Have you looked over on the island, Joe?”

“Oh, I never thought of dat, Mars Harry,” but the misery that was
in Joe’s voice showed that he took in instantly all the dreadful
possibilities, if the storm should break with Brevet alone on the
island. They hurried as fast as they could to the shore, and there, sure
enough! was Brevet, hard at work, getting his little camp into shape for
the coming storm he had evidently been the first to discover. At that
precise moment he was busy hauling down the little camp flag, but that
he was not in the least disconcerted was perfectly evident. In the awful
ominous hush preceding the storm, they could even catch the familiar
strain of “I’se a little Alabama Coon.”

“We must not frighten him, Joe,” Harry said, his breath coming short and
fast, “we must just call to him to come right back. {089}But where is
the boat, Joe? _Where_ is the boat?”

“Oh, Mars Harry! Mars Harry! look dere,” and now the fear in Joe’s voice
had turned to veriest anguish; and Harry looking, saw the precious boat
in mid-river, the oars still resting in the oar-locks, but as hopelessly
beyond reach as though in mid-ocean.

“Oh, Joe!” cried Harry, looking down at the helpless arm bound firmly
in the splints. Then, crying, “I will get a man from the stables;
stay right where you are, Joe,” he was gone in a flash. A man from the
stables! Joe knew how long that must take. No, there was just one thing
to be done, and stripping off boots and jacket, in the next second he
was breast deep in the water, and in the next striking out bravely
for the island. It was a hard tug for the old man, for the current was
strong; but Brevet, still unmindful of his danger, sang away with a
will, and the words came distinctly over the water,--

                   “I’se a little Alabama Coon,

                   I hasn’t been born very long.”

“Bless your heart, no you hasn’t,” muttered Joe, keeping his head well
above water. “You hasn’t been born long ‘nuff ter go out dis worl’
yet awhile, I’m thinkin’,” and nerved by {090}the little fellow’s
unconscious calmness, Joe put all his strength in four or five more good
strokes, and reached the camp, but he had no breath left with which to
speak when he reached it. It was dreadful to waste the precious moments,
but his breath was still too laboured from the strenuous effort he had
been making for him to voice a single Word. Just at that moment Brevet
turned to hurry down from the camp, and then stood riveted to the spot,
his face white with terror. He did not see Joe in the dismay of his
discovery.

“Oh, my boat is gone!” he cried, lifting his two little clenched hands
in helpless consternation.

[Illustration: 0121]

“But here’s your Cap’ll,” rang out a dear familiar voice, and Joe
thanked God that he was able to instantly dispel the little fellow’s
fears. One bound, and Brevet was at Joe’s side.

“Did you swim over for me, Captain?” his two arms locked about Joe’s
neck in his joy.

“Yes, I done swim ober for you Honey, an’ now we done goin’ ter swim
back again. Des get on my ole back, dis a-way, Honey, only have a care
not ter choke me an’ don’ be a-feared for a moment.”

It was hardly necessary for Joe to have added that, for on Joe’s back
Brevet felt as {091}safe as any of the rest of us on the deck of an
ocean steamer. Besides, it was such fun to be carried ashore in that
fashion. Only once it seemed to cross his little mind that it might
perhaps be rather hard work for Joe.

“If I’m too heavy, I think I could swim all right. Shall I leave go?”

“No,” gasped Joe, fearing the dauntless little fellow might put his
suggestion immediately into practice, “for Heben’s sake, no, Brevet!”
 and then Brevet tightened his hold as though realising there might be
some danger. How great the danger only Joe himself knew, and he feared
more than once that he would have to give up--that he could not save
Brevet after all.

Harry’s search for help had been futile, and, rushing back to the shore,
what was his joy to discover that Joe had dared to disobey orders and
had safely crossed to the island! But what a terrible risk the old man
was running, and, oh, the chagrin, young man that he was, of not being
able himself to attempt the rescue! With bated breath he watched Joe’s
start for the mainland, and then saw instantly how even the first return
strokes taxed his strength to the full. At the point for which he was
making the far-spreading limbs of two old live-oaks extended out over
the river, and Harry, plung{092}ing into the water and clinging by his
good arm to the heavier of two parallel branches, was able to make his
way to its extreme end, quite a distance from the shore.

“Steer right for me, Joe,” he called, in a voice of earnest entreaty.
“See where I am, Joe, I can help you from here.” But a sudden blackness
had come before Joe’s eyes, and he could see nothing.

[Illustration: 0129]

Meantime Courage had hurried from the house the first moment she could
be spared; had reached the river’s edge and instantly took in the
situation. It would be little enough Harry could do even if poor Joe
succeeded in reaching him--it was for her to gain some point as near him
as possible, and be ready to lend a hand as well. Throwing aside a cloak
she had caught up for protection, she strode into the water, and by aid
of the same strong limb to which Harry was clinging, was able to take
her place close behind him. Meantime not for one instant did Harry
intermit his calls of encouragement, until at last the overhanging
branch was almost reached.

“Joe,” he then called, in a voice of commanding entreaty, “one stroke
more! Now lay hold of me and you’re safe.” Joe had hardly consciousness
enough left to obey, but he made one stroke more, and then his arms
{093}grasped something, he hardly knew what, with an iron grip, and
barely keeping his head above water, his body dragged helplessly down
the river with the current.

“And what shall I do?” gasped Brevet quickly, for he had at last fully
realised the struggle of the crossing and knew that Joe’s strength was
all but gone.

“You lay hold of my arm, Brevet,” cried Courage; “now let go of Joe;
now cling to me and pull yourself up here on this limb. Quick, quick,
Brevet, don’t lose a moment--there--now lie flat down and keep perfectly
still with your arms firm around the branch under you. Now what?” in a
voice of bewildered appeal to Harry.

“Can you shift yourself to that other limb and bend it within Joe’s
reach? I am helpless.” Harry spoke through teeth clenched with the
effort of supporting Joe and his own dead weight by that one arm’s hold
on the branch beside him.

It was not an easy thing that Harry asked, but retreating toward the
shore a little way, to a point where the branches came more closely
together, she safely swung to the other limb, but in making her way out
into the water again, she felt the ground fall gradually away beneath
her feet, {094}"Careful, careful,” called Harry; “don’t get beyond your
depth.”

“I am all right,” Courage answered calmly, though she knew for a
certainty that she was already beyond her depth--but what did that
matter in the imperative need of the moment? All this while Joe, with
closed eyes, still realised that the one thing for him to do was to hold
on. Notwithstanding the deeper water Courage succeeded in working out
along the branch until near enough to Joe to bend it by her weight
within his reach. Then she cried peremptorily, with what little breath
was left her:

“Joe, open your eyes.” Joe mechanically obeyed. “Now see this branch,
Joe; reach for it and get upon your feet. The water is not deep.”

Harry felt Joe’s grasp relaxing from his body, but at the same time
it was apparent that he was too weak and dazed to fully take in the
situation, and was not about to make the effort necessary to seize the
overhanging limb.

“Brevet,” cried Harry, under his breath, “speak to Joe. He is not going
to try to save himself----”

“Joe! Joe!” called Brevet, an agony of appeal in his voice. Joe’s eyes
opened again. {095}"Reach for that branch, Joe, and try to get ashore. I
want you, Joe, I want you------”

Brevet’s dearly loved voice, with its deep sob of entreaty, seemed to
reach some inner consciousness of Joe’s. If Brevet needed him, he must
make one last effort; and, letting go his relaxed hold of Harry, he
reached for the branch; struggled to his feet, stumbling heavily against
Courage; took the necessary steps to reach the shore, and then fell
utterly unconscious.

Meantime the storm had broken in all its fury. A great yellow whirl of
dust and sand came sweeping down upon them, carrying broken twigs
and larger branches, in a twinkling, past them; then came the rain in
torrents, and vivid flashes of lightning. Brevet clung terrified to the
limb, but, manly little fellow that he was, made no outcry. Harry, with
but one arm at his service, hung where he was; the water serving to buoy
his body up, and to sustain his weight, but he was powerless to alter
his position. Courage, by the aid of the limb, made her way to the
shore. Then calling back to Harry, “I will bring help at once,” she
dropped on to her hands and knees, for it was impossible to stand
against the wind and rain, and began creeping up the embankment. But
fortunately for them all, help was {096}at hand. Teddy Bennett, fairly
blown along by the wind, appeared on the ledge above her. Courage,
leaning heavily upon one hand, pointed down the river, and Teddy in
another minute was in the water and close at Harry’s side. It was the
work of but a moment, strong young swimmer that he proved himself, to
help Harry ashore, and then throwing themselves flat upon the ground and
calling out every minute to Brevet to “Hold on and keep a brave heart!”
 they waited for the terrible storm to pass over.


{097}



CHAPTER IX.--JOE HAS AN’ IDEA.

It was two weeks now since that dreadful afternoon up at Ellismere, and
it has been a quiet two weeks for all of our little party. No one has
had the heart for very much fun, for Grandma Ellis has been very ill
up at Ellismere, and dear old Joe is lying helpless in bed in his own
little cabin. After the storm had spent its force they had carried Joe
up to the house, and there he had lain unmindful of everything about
him for three whole days together. Then, when at last consciousness came
back, power to move either right arm or leg did not come with it, and
then they learned that poor old Joe was paralysed. As soon as possible
after that they moved Joe up to Arlington, for he longed for his own bed
and his own familiar cabin. And who do you suppose went up to care for
Joe, but Mammy! “If you can spare me. Miss Lindy,” Mammy had said to
Grandma Ellis, “I would like to look out for Joe de res’ of his days. I
ain’t allers been ober kin’ to dat ole gem’an, an’ I ain’t had no idea
what splendid stuff he had in {098}him,” and it seemed a very little
thing to Grandma Ellis to spare Mammy for the sake of the one who
had saved Brevet’s life. That Joe had saved it there was but little
question, for the storm had seemed to be at its very height when it
reached the island, levelling and demolishing everything upon it. The
tent had been carried off bodily, no one knew where, and the little
pine trees uprooted lay wedged in the rocks as though pounded in with an
anvil, so that it seemed impossible that Brevet could have escaped
being hurled into the river, or dashed against the rocks with the same
terrible force as the pine trees.

Harry had been unable to bring any one from the stables, for both the
men, as it happened, were three miles away at the blacksmith’s, and but
for Joe’s instant action, any help would have come too late.

I doubt if Teddy will ever quite forgive Grandma Ellis, or his sister
Mary, for forbidding him to join the party in search of Brevet, or ever
cease to be thankful that at last, rushing out of the house in spite of
all their protests, he was able to render such timely aid.

As for Joe, he accepted his utter helplessness with a beautiful
resignation, but there was something on Joe’s mind, and one day he said
to Mammy: {099}"Would you min’, Mammy, just sendin’ fo’ Miss Courage to
come heah for awhile dis ebenin’. I’se somethin’ important ter say ter
lier, ‘Tain’t dat I couldn’t trus’ you wid it, Mammy, only you knows dey
am times when a ‘spectable cullud pusson seem ter need der advice of a
pusson what is born ter a different colour and station.’

“Miss Courage shall be sent for dis bery ebenin’, Joe,” for Mammy had
made up her mind that Joe was to be humoured in every particular. And so
Courage came, and with Brevet, who had happened to be spending the day
at Homespun, for her companion. They stopped to leave the buckboard at
the stable, where a young mulatto boy was now doing Joe’s work, and then
Brevet asked permission to run on ahead. He had something on his mind,
as well as Joe, and he was longing to ask him a question that had just
occurred to him the day before, and which had made his little heart very
heavy.

“Joe,” he said in an awed whisper, stepping into the cabin and looking
quickly about to see if Mammy happened to be out of hearing, “are you
asleep, Joe?”

“No, bless your little heart,” and Joe’s old face lighted up with
the joy of Brevet’s coming, “I was des habin a bit o’ a day-dream.”
 {100}"Joe,” whispered Brevet, tip-toeing close to his side, “I want you
to tell me something. You’re paralysed, you know, Joe.”

“Yes, Honey, I knows.”

“Well, it wasn’t because you went in the river for me, was it, Joe? It
just happened to come then, didn’t it, Joe?” in anxious inquiry, and as
though to find out that he was responsible for Joe’s illness would be
more than he could bear.

“Des happen? o’ course, chile, des happen. Why, des look at me, Honey!
I’se pow’ful ole; reckon nobody knows how ole I be,” (which was the
truth, for Joe, if he knew himself, had never told any one), “whereas
mos’ white-haired cullud pussons is par’Iysed long afore my time o’
life, par’Iysed all over too, not des a sort o’ half par’Iysed like me.
No, neber you b’lieve it anythin’ but des happened, no matter what folks
say, case you ‘member Joe tol’ you so, an’ I ought ter know, I reckon,
better’n anybody.”

It was as though a great shadow had been lifted from Brevet. Courage,
wondering how to account for the little fellow’s apparent spiritlessness
all day, wondered now, as she entered, at the little illumined face.

“See here, Brevet,” said Joe, smiling a welcome to Courage, “will you
look ober de {101}place while I’se talkin’ ter Miss Courage. Go up to
de house and down ‘roun’ General Sheridan’s grave, an’ my Oder special
fav’rites, an’ see if eberythin’ is bein’ kept up ter de handle, case no
one knows as well as you, Brevet, how Joe allers like ter hab ‘em kep’.”

Brevet joyously obeyed, proud to be sent on such an important errand;
and after Courage and Joe had exchanged a few words of greeting, Joe at
once settled to the particular business in hand.

“Miss Courage,” he said, very solemnly, “I don’ b’lieve dey’s such anoder
mean contemptible good for nothin’ darkey in all dis county as I is.
Look at dis cabin! des as orderly as can be, an’ den ‘member how I’se
allers treated Mammy. She ain’t nowhere roun’, is she?” raising himself
on one arm and looking cautiously about the room.

“No; Mammy is way up the hill yonder, knitting under the chestnut tree.
I met her as I came, and she told me that you had something important to
say to me, and that she wouldn’t come back until I called her.”

“Beats me,” answered Joe, “ter see Mammy so considerate an’ behavin’
hersel’ in dis fashion. Why, dere ain’t nothin’ Mammy can think of to
make me mo’ comfortable dat she doesn’t up an’ do in a jiffy. Why, when
yo’ {102}Sylvy comes down ebry day or so, ter see if she can len’ a hand
as you are so good as ter sen’ her, dey ain’t, as a rule, nuffin lef for
her ter do, ‘ceptin’ Mammy set her ter make some little relish for me
to pay her fo’ de trouble of cornin’. Now can you ‘magine, Miss Courage,
how all dis mak’ me feel, case I’se allers been down on Mammy? You
‘member I neber so much as invite her ter my Fo’th July dinner. I allers
‘spect Grandma Ellis staid away so as to let Mammy think she was nowise
invited either.”

“But you mustn’t blame yourself too much, Joe,” Courage interrupted,
“for if I’m not mistaken, Mammy has been always rather down upon you. No
wonder that she wants to make amends. You’re a perfect hero in all our
eyes now, Joe. Just think of the terrible risk you ran and of all it has
cost you, Joe--”

“‘Tain’t cost me nuffin, Miss Courage,” Joe said, almost angrily. “Oh, I
des hope for Brevet’s sake dey won’t be sayin’ any such foolish t’ing as
dat. I happen ter know dat Brevet would neber get over it if he thought
he was ‘sponsible for me lyin’ here in bed. No, Miss Courage, dat
paralysis des happened ter come. I want it ter be so understood. I’d had
the queerest numb sort o’ feelin’s creepin’ over me a whole week ‘fo’ I
took dat plunge {103}in de riber--but---but, what I sent for you for am
dis: I’se had a heap o’ time, lyin’ heah, an’ I’se been usin’ my eyes,
an’ sure huff I hab an idea. You know your Sylvy? Well, she tol’ me dat
day when ole Colonel Anderson an’ all of you were at Arlington, an’ we
was clearin’ up de dinner dishes, dat she been ris up in an institution
in Brooklyn, an’ so far as she knew she didn’t hab a relashun in de
worl’. Now, do you happen ter know, Miss Courage, who took Sylvy to dat
‘sylum?”

“No, Joe; and I’m quite sure Sylvia once told me that nobody knew; but
if you wish, I can write and make some inquiry. But why do you want to
know, Joe?”

“Why, case I b’lieve it isn’t de mos’ impossible t’ing in de worl’ dat
Mammy and Sylvy is related,” and Joe lowered his voice to an almost
imperceptible whisper.

“But whatever do you found that upon?” Courage asked, eagerly.

“Observation, Miss Courage, an’ what you might call human probability,”
 (Joe was perfectly delighted to find two such fine long words at his
command) “an’ as I tol’ you, I’se been usin’ my eyes lyin’ heah, an’ dey
has little ways an’ gestures, Mammy and Sylvy, common to bof of ‘em. Den
you know Mammy had a daughter sol’ way from her des befo’ de {104}wah,
an’ as Sylvy ain’t no idea what name she was born to, ‘tain’t impossible
is it, dat she should be Mammy’s gran’chile?”

“No, it isn’t impossible, Joe, but I must honestly say I do not think it
probable. Just think how very little you really have to build upon.”

“Mighty little, I grant you, Miss Courage, ‘cepting dose little ways an’
gestures; but you’ll write, won’t you, case there ain’t the least harm
in writing is there?”

“Yes, indeed I will, Joe, this very night, but you mustn’t hang too many
hopes upon it, so as not to be too much disappointed.”

“Dey’s hung dere already. Miss Courage,” said incorrigible Joe, “an’
I’se not goin’ter take ‘em down till I has ter.”

“All right,” laughed Courage. “May I call Mammy back now? for I should
like to see her for awhile before I go home.”

“Yes, you call her, an’ des you notice, now your ‘tention’s called ter
it, if dere isn’t some ways dat ‘mind you of Sylvy.”

And Courage did notice, and was really so surprised at some points
of resemblance, that she wrote her letter that night with a deeper
conviction that they might be on the verge of a discovery than she had
that morning thought possible.


{105}



CHAPTER X.--BREVET SCORES A POINT.

“Is anybody going to die in this chapter?” asked a little girl who is
very dear to me, as we were reading aloud last evening. The chapter had
certainly a rather ominous title, and if any one was going to die she
preferred to go to bed. Now if we had happened to have been reading this
story together, I am pretty sure I should have met the same question;
for, what with Joe ill in bed, and Grandma Ellis ill at Ellismere, and
both of them pretty old people, it does look, I admit, as though there
might be something sad to write about it. But, happily, for that happy
summer there was to be no sorrowful ending. Grandma Ellis was soon quite
herself again, and Joe improved so much that it seemed as though he
would probably be able to move about his cabin again some day. And so
everything would have been bright and hopeful enough save for this--the
time had come for Courage and the Bennetts and Mary Duff and Sylvia to
go home, and all hearts as a result were as heavy as lead. The Bennetts
were eager to {106}see their father and mother and the baby, but they
did not want to go back to the great, crowded city. And Courage--well,
she wondered what she possibly could find to do at home that would so
absorb her whole thought and time as this Little Homespun household,
and keep her half as happy and contented. She feared that when she went
back, the old loneliness would surely come surging down upon her, and
that life without Miss Julia would seem again intolerable. She was
thinking just such sad thoughts as these as she sat alone in the little
living-room, stitching away at a dress of Mary Bennett’s that needed
mending for the journey on the morrow. Every one but herself and Mary
Duff had gone up to Arlington for a good-bye call upon Joe. Courage was
not planning to go until late in the day, calculating that the afternoon
mail would surely bring her some word from the asylum; and so, as she
sat alone with her own sad thoughts, she was suddenly surprised by a
little figure in the doorway and a larger figure looming above it.

“Where’s everybody?” asked Brevet. “May we come in?”

“Yes, indeed, come in!” Courage answered, cordially. “Indeed, I am glad
to see you, for I’m as blue as can be.” {107}"So are we,” said Brevet,
sitting disconsolately down in a huge armchair that made him look more
disconsolate than ever “Uncle Harry’s hardly spoken to me all the way.”
 Harry made no denial and dropped into the nearest chair.

“And you’ll be bluer still, Brevet, to find that no one’s at home,”
 Courage added. “They have all gone up to Arlington.”

“Well, that doesn’t matter,” Brevet replied, philosophically, “we shall
see them all tomorrow when we come down to see you off; but what we all
care the most about is your going, Miss Courage. Grand_na_na a cries
every time she thinks of it, and Uncle Harry says it will be just like a
funeral all the time for him until he is able to go back to the office,
and I’m just as miserable as I can be.”

“Well, it’s very kind of you all,” sighed Courage. “It seems to me there
never were two such dear places as Homespun and Ellis-mere, and you
cannot imagine how I hate to leave them.”

“What will you all do anyway when you get back to New York?” Brevet
asked, a little sullenly, as though he felt in his heart that really
they were to blame for going.

“Well, we are not going because we want to, Brevet,” Courage answered
almost sharply, {108}for she was herself just down-spirited enough to
be a trifle touchy and childish. “There is no reason why Mary Duff and
Sylvia and I should stay since the Bennetts will not be here to be cared
for.”

“But what is the _reason_ for your going home, Miss Courage?” asked
Brevet, determined to have the whole situation explained.

“Well, Mary Duff is needed at the hospital, where she has charge, you
know, of a whole ward full of little babies; and, as for Sylvia and me,
our home is there you know--we belong there--and I shall try very hard
to find something to fill up all my time, for that is the only way for
me to manage now that I no longer have Miss Julia.”

“But do people always belong to just one place?”

“No, not always,” Courage was forced to admit.

“Well, you and Brevet seem to be having things all your own way,” said
Harry, really speaking for the first time since he had entered.

“Yes; I was thinking it would be more polite if you should join in the
conversation,” Courage answered, colouring a little, for she had felt
annoyed at Harry’s apparently moody silence.

“Well,” he added, slowly, “I do not know {109}on the whole that there is
anything for me to say.”

“Then why did you come?”

“Simply to see you once more.”

“And what was the use of that?” Courage asked, she hardly knew why.

“No use, simply to enjoy the pathetic sort of pleasure of all last
times; but I do not myself understand why you could not have stayed on
and made us a visit? You would have made my grandmother very happy.”

“Oh, Harry, come off!” said Brevet, who had unavoidably acquired a boy’s
measure of slang, and who was old enough to appreciate when Harry was
not his frank, honest self. “That’s all stuff about Grand_na_na--you
want Miss Courage to stay for yourself just as much as Grand_na_na wants
her for herself and I want her for myself.”

“‘Children and fools speak the truth,’” said Harry, looking straight at
Courage.

“Yes, that’s the blessed beauty of them,” looking straight back at him.

“Other people don’t dare,” said Harry.

“Other people lack courage.”

“I quite agree with you. I know a fellow who feels that with Courage he
could defy the whole world.”

“Brevet,” said Courage, folding away the {110}mended dress, “there is a
pile of pictures yonder that I have been collecting from the magazines
and papers for your scrap-book. Bring them here and let us look them
over.”

Brevet was not to be diverted. It was always one thing at a time with
him. The pictures could wait--he couldn’t. He had one or two questions
yet to ask, and he came and stood beside Courage as though to compel her
undivided attention.

“But why couldn’t you visit us? Didn’t you want to?”

“Yes, I should have been glad to come, Brevet; I cannot explain to you
why I couldn’t.”

“I suppose it was because there wasn’t anything particular for you to
do; you always want to be doing something. Now, Miss Courage, I have
heard Grand_na_na say that if Uncle Harry would bring a wife home to
Ellismere some day she would give her all the housekeeping. Now, don’t
you think you could come that way, because then you would have a great
deal to do?”

“Can you not stop this child?” said Courage, turning with a look of
indignant appeal to Harry.

“He is doing very well,” Harry answered, without looking up.
{111}Brevet, intent upon his own line of thought, paid not the least
attention to either of the last remarks.

“Now, Miss Courage,” resting one arm on her chair and speaking
thoughtfully and slowly, “couldn’t you--don’t you think you
could--perhaps--be Uncle Harry’s wife and so belong up to our house and
have lots of things to do?”

“Yes, couldn’t you--perhaps?” said Harry, very earnestly.

Courage gave one glance toward Harry, and then sat gazing straight at
Brevet with a look on her face as though endeavouring to frame some
sort of answer; while Brevet, with appeal in his eyes more eloquent than
words, waited in solemn silence for her answer.

“But, Brevet,” she said, at last, “are you sure, perfectly sure that
your Uncle Harry would not mind?”

“Perfectly sure!” but not so much as looking toward Harry, so completely
did he regard the matter as resting wholly between Courage and himself.

“Well, then, Brevet, I believe I could.”

Then for the first time Brevet showed an inclination to include Harry
in the conversation, but for that matter he had to, for Harry was close
beside Courage now. “There,” he {112}said, with a great sigh of relief,
“what did I tell you? Perhaps she doesn’t care enough to do it for you,
but she cares enough to do it for us all three together.”

“Run, Brevet!” said Courage. “See, there is Mary coming with the mail.
Run, and bring it quickly.”

Brevet scampered off in high feather, and Courage instantly straightened
herself up and looked accusingly at Harry.

“Do you mean to say that you actually talked all this over with Brevet?”

[Illustration: 0147]

“No,” he answered, never looking so handsome or so happy in his life.
“He talked it all over with me. He seemed to think it the one way out of
the difficulty.”

“And you knew he was--he was going to say all this to me?”

“No, I never so much as dreamt it for a minute, I assure you, or that he
was going to take matters into his own hands. On the contrary, I wanted
to come alone this afternoon, but come he would. He had evidently
thought out his own course of action, and I shall bless him for it all
my life.”


{113}



CHAPTER XI.--A RED-LETTER AFTERNOON.

They were a happy trio that set out for Arlington a half hour later.
Harry and Courage walked closely, side by side, for there was much to be
said that could not by any chance have any interest for Brevet; besides,
you could not have kept Brevet still enough for five seconds together to
listen to anything. He was quite as wild with joy as any little
terrier, liberated from his kennel for the first run over the hills in
a fortnight. But the joy that made him run hither and thither, and come
bounding back to press a flower into Courage’s hands, or simply to look
up to her face, or brush affectionately against her in true terrier
fashion, was something more than animal spirits. Courage was coming up
to Ellismere to live! Courage was coming! No little May-time songster
was ever more joyous over the coming of Spring, and Brevet would have
trilled as glad a carol if he could. But of the three Courage was, if
possible, the very happiest, for she had such a happy secret in her
{114}keeping--that is, in her pocket--for the mail had brought the
expected letter. The secret, however, must stay a secret until she
should reach Arlington and could have a little private talk with Joe;
and so she hurried Harry along much faster than was at all to his
liking, for Harry would have been glad to have that walk last for “a
year and a day,” and so perhaps would Courage, save for the letter.

It was not that it contained any wonderful revelation--it simply said
that unfortunately the asylum authorities knew nothing more of Sylvia’s
antecedents than she herself knew; that she had simply been thrust in at
the asylum door by some old woman who succeeded in beating a mysterious
retreat into the darkness before any one had seen her. A scrap of paper
pinned to her dress bore the name of Sylvia, and the statement that
the child had neither father nor mother. In addition to this the only
possible clew lay in two or three articles found at the time in Sylvia’s
keeping. They had been given to her when she left the institution, the
matron impressing upon her the need and importance of guarding them
carefully, as they would possibly prove of great value some day. They
regretted very keenly that they were unable to furnish any further
information. But, nevertheless, the letter stirred the first {115}real
hope for Courage that Joe was right in his conjecture, for it reminded
her of the little belongings Sylvia had once shown her--a coral
necklace, a gay little silver belt set with imitation turquoise and
rubies in great variety, and a much-used devotional book. She remembered
there was no writing in the book save the name of what appeared to be
some gentleman’s country-place and some date way back in the fifties.
She could not recall the name, but she thought she would know it if she
heard it, and felt quite sure, now that she came to think of it, that
she had heard a name on Mammy’s lips that sounded like it. No wonder
that something seemed far more important just then than even her own
great happiness, and that she was impatient to reach Joe’s cabin.

“I will hurry on,” she said, when they came in sight of the cabin. “You
capture Brevet, Harry, and make him understand that he will be reduced
to the ranks if he says one word down here of what has happened up at
Homespun--your mother must be the first to know.”

“You have set me a rather difficult task,” laughed Harry; but he saw the
wisdom of it, and bearing down upon Brevet he detained him an unwilling
little prisoner until he had {116}extracted--but slowly and painfully it
must be confessed--the required promise. Courage found the little cabin
full; that is, Mary Duff, Sylvia and the children all were there as she
expected, but a word to Mammy, to whom Courage’s slightest wish was
law, and the little cabin was cleared in a twinkling, all hands finding
themselves peremptorily shooed like a pack of geese to the pond below,
under some foolish pretext or other.

“Has the letter come?” Joe asked, breathlessly. “Any news in it?”

“Yes, I have a letter,” and Courage drew a rocking-chair close to the
bed; “but there is nothing new in it, only it suggests something to me.
It speaks of some treasures of Sylvia’s that might throw a little light
on the subject. I remember now that Sylvia once showed them to me, and
I do not see why I have been so stupid as not to think of them before.
They were a string of coral beads, a gay belt of some sort, and a little
devotional book.”

“Anythin’ written in de book?” interrupted Joe, his clasped hands
trembling with excitement.

“Nothing much, Joe. We mustn’t grow too hopeful quite yet, but I am
quite sure it was some name such as would belong to a gentleman’s
country-place, and I think I should {117}recall it if I heard it. Now,
doesn’t Mammy sometimes speak of the plantation where she used to live,
by some name or other?”

“Sunnyside,” panted Joe, “Sunnyside; it’s on her lips eb’ry day or two.
Do you t’ink--do you t’ink dat’s it?”

“Oh, I don’t dare to think, Joe, it would be so easy for me to be
mistaken----”

“Call Mammy then, call Sylvy,” Joe cried, excitedly, “call dem quick!”

“Yes, I will call them right away, but, Joe, we must all try to be calm”
 (for she feared the effect of so much excitement). “You must be calm for
your own sake, Joe, and for theirs, and if we should chance to be on
the verge of a happy discovery, we must not spring it too suddenly
upon them. Let me talk to them a little before you ask Sylvia about the
name.”

But Courage in her own mind was quite joyously sure that Sunnyside was
the name in the little book. Mammy and Sylvia came in answer to the
call from Courage--Mary Duff and the Bennetts, wondering what was up,
remained perforce just as obediently behind.

“Sylvia,” said Courage, signalling Joe to be quiet for a moment, “do you
remember once showing me a little devotional book of yours? I was trying
just now to remember its name.” {118}"'Words of Jesus,’ Miss Courage.”

“‘Words of Jesus,’” said Mammy solemnly. “Oh, but I loved dat little
book. My Missus gave it to me years ago, an’ I gave it to my little girl
when she was sol’ away from me way down in Alabama.”

“And, Sylvia, there were some other little things, were there not?”

“Yes, Miss Courage, a little string of coral beads, and a tinsel belt,
you remember.”

Joe and Courage were looking straight at Mammy, who, ashy white under
her dark skin, leaned against the foot of the bed; but Sylvia, all
intent upon Joe, did not notice.

“Come nearer, chile,” said Joe, for his turn had come now, although his
voice all but failed him as he took Sylvia’s hand in his. “Was somethin’
written in de little book?”

“Yes,” said Sylvia, her own voice unsteady now, for she knew there must
be some object in all this questioning.

“Have a care now, Mammy,” cried Joe, exultingly. “Something may be going
to happen, Mammy. Was it Sunnyside, chile?”

“Yes, it was Sunnyside,” she answered, eagerly. “What do you know about
it, Joe?”

But before Joe could explain, Mammy’s arms were about her in one wild
ecstasy of delight, {119}and then dropping into a chair she drew Sylvia
to her lap.

[Illustration: 0155]

“O’ course it was Sunnyside, chile! what else could it be after yo’
sayin’ you owned de corals an’ de tinsel belt? I gave dem all three to
my little daughter thirty years an’ more ago. Yo’ b’longs ter me!”

“But, Mammy dear, who do you suppose I am?” her arms close about Mammy’s
neck.

“Yo’ my little gran’chile, Honey, my little gran’chile come back ter me
after all dese years-----”

“But how can you be sure, Mammy? My having the things doesn’t surely
make me your grandchild,” and Sylvia looked as though not to be able to
be perfectly certain at last would quite break her heart.

“Sure by eb’ryt’ing ‘bout you, Honey; by yo’ face, by yo’ hands, by de
way you walk, by yo’ ebery motion, by de way you drink a cup o’ tea.
Maria was jus’ about yo’ age when she was sol’ away from me, an’
sometimes you’ve so much ‘minded me of her I could scarce bear to look
at you, neber dreamin’ you could possibly b’long ter me. But, Sylvy,”
 and Mammy’s voice at once grew troubled with the thought that occurred
to her, “why hab you neber done try to fin’ yo’ own people, chile?”
 {120}"Why, Mammy! I knew nothing about myself at all. I was just pushed
into the door of a coloured orphan asylum in Brooklyn, when I was a
little bit of a girl, by a very old woman I remember, and I never saw
or heard of her again. There was a little piece of paper pinned on to
my dress which merely said, ‘This little girl hasn’t got any father or
mother,’ and that my name was Sylvia.”

“Then yo’ mamma’s daid, is she?” said Mammy in a low voice, as though
speaking to herself. “I wonder who she married an’ how she drifted ‘way
up North, an’ why she never wrote to her old Mammy--but we’ll never know
in dis work, will we, Honey?--but no matter, no matter, we’s got each
oder now, Sylvy,” and Mammy stroked Sylvia’s hair with one trembling
hand, as the happy realisation chased all the sadness from her face.
“Maria coaxed that little belt from me,” she continued, never one moment
taking her eyes from Sylvia’s face, “one day long ’fo’ she was sol’
from me. My Missus had given it to me when I was jus’ a slip of a girl.
She gave me the dear book too, but I put that into Maria’s pocket an’
begged her to read it now an’ again, cause Maria allers seemed too
lighthearted to give much ’tention to religion. Seems as d’ough _I_
could hardly wait, Sylvy, {121}to lay my eyes on d’ose little keepsakes
once more. An’, Sylvy chile, do you ‘member what you said first words
you spoke ter me an’ Joe? You said, ‘I thought I should find some of my
own people down here in Virginia.’ ‘Lor, chile, you didn’t dream what
gospel trufes you were speakin’.”

Meantime Harry and Brevet had appeared upon the scene, and astonished
beyond measure at what they saw and heard, sat down on a bench beside
the door and listened in mute wonder.

“But who,” said Mammy at last, when she could bring her confused
thoughts into some sort of order, and with Sylvia still seated upon her
lap, “who was de one to find all dis out for me?” turning toward Courage
for an explanation. But Courage simply looked toward Joe for answer.

“Yes, Mammy,” replied Joe, leaning comfortably back against his pillows,
the embodiment of dusky radiance, “I has dat honour, Mammy. Lyin’ here
so helpless when I was first brought back ter de cabin, an’ watchin’ you
an’ Sylvy move roun’ de room togeder, it came home ter me how you took
after each oder in a hundred little ways, an’ den ’memberin’ how Sylvy
had tol’ me one day how she knew nothin’ ’bout who b’longed ter her,
it {122}des ’spicioned me dat she might b’long to you, an’ so Miss
Courage here, she wrote up to de ’sylum an’ de answer des come dis
bery afternoon. But o’ co’se, as you know from Sylvy, dey couldn’t tell
us nuffin, but ter ’mind Miss Courage of de little treasures Sylvy
had in her possession, an’ den Miss Courage ’minded how Sylvy had once
showed dem to her an’ how dere was somethin’ written in de little book,
but o’ co’se we could not des be sure it was de same name as de ole
plantation whar you lived till we sent for Sylvy an’ asked her. An’ oh!
but it’s a happy day for Joe; de happiest day in all my life, an’ it’s
all come of me being par’lysed an’ havin’ a chance ter notice,” and Joe
spoke as though the paralysis was unquestionably something for which he
had need to be devoutly thankful.

“Joe,” said Mammy, who had left her chair and was standing close at his
bedside, “I’se been hard on you an’ unfair to you mos’ o’ my life, Joe,”
 and she stood looking down as shamefacedly as any little school culprit.

“Don’t you say nuffin, Mammy. Hasn’t I allers been hard on you an’
unfair to you?”

“Don’t either of you say anything,” interrupted Courage. “If ever two
people in this world have made up for bygones, I think you two people
have,” and Joe and Mammy shook {123}their old heads in assent, for
happily for them both they knew that Courage had spoken but the truth.

Meantime Brevet had slipped away and had enjoyed the exquisite pleasure
of telling Mary Duff and the Bennetts the wonderful news, whereupon
they had of course hurried pell-mell up to the cabin and joined in the
general jubilation. It was well-nigh sunset before the good-byes were
said--those last good-byes they had come for the purpose of saying--and
before they were all started on their walk home.

Then Courage turned to Harry.

“I think I will run back and _just tell_ Joe and Mammy----”

“Tell all the world,” said Harry, proudly, “the sooner the better.”

A few minutes later Courage appeared in the cabin doorway.

“Come here,” she said, motioning to Mammy and hurrying to Joe’s side.
“There’s another secret in the wind this afternoon, and I want to tell
it to both of you myself. I think I shall come down here to live for
good and all before _very_ long----”

“De Lord be praised!” ejaculated Joe and Mammy in one breath.

“And I’m coming because I am going to marry Harry Ellis----” {124}"'Tis
de Lord’s own doin’s,” cried Joe, fervently, “for we all need you.”

“And never you fear but Sylvia will live here too,” said Courage,
turning radiantly to Mammy. Then in a flash she was gone to hurry after
the little party over the road. With Harry and Brevet, Courage went
straight up to Ellismere that night to see Grandma Ellis, and then
another dear old heart was gladdened beyond all words by the good
news she had to tell. The next day Courage went back to town with the
Bennetts, leaving Sylvia to stay with Mammy until she should return, and
Courage was to return before very long. A good deal had been talked
over and arranged for in the evening spent at Ellismere, and among
other things that there should be a wedding at Little Homespun late
in October. By that time, probably, Joe would be able to drive up from
Arlington, and Colonel Anderson would come down from Washington, and
Courage knew that the Everetts and a few other dear friends would come
down just as gladly from New York, and another matter that had been
as fully agreed upon was, that although Courage’s home was to be
at Ellismere for the winter, she and Harry should move up to Little
Homespun the coming summer, and Mary Duff should bring {125}down some
other party of little city-children to run wild and enjoy all the
delights of the unknown country just as the little Bennetts had done.

And so it came about that there was no real sadness in the good-byes
which were said on the morrow--even the Bennetts found they were glad
to go, now it came to the point, for when all is said, home is home the
world over. Harry and Brevet drove up to Washington to see the little
party off and then drove back to Ellismere, not saying much to each
other by the way, but both very contented and happy. Brevet was humming
his own favourite air, as in all serene and quiet moods, until at last
as though to give vent to the joy within him he broke into the old
words,--

                   “I’se a little Alabama Coon

                   I hasn’t been born very long-”

“Right you are,” laughed Harry, interrupting, “and a dear little coon
into the bargain, and who has been born quite long enough to make the
time tell.”

“What do you mean?” asked Brevet, with puzzled frown.

“Oh, I mean you’ve been born long enough to accomplish quite a great
deal, on the whole, {126}and the finest work you ever put in was up at
Little Homespun yesterday.”

“You mean about asking Miss Courage to come back?”

“Exactly. I think your name will always stick to you now--I’m sure I
shall never call you by any other----”

“You mean my name. Brevet?”

“Yes.”

“But why? I do not quite understand,” for Brevet’s ideas had really
grown a little hazy as to the full meaning of his name.

“Why, Joe gave you the name, you remember, because that is a title given
in the army simply as a reward of merit. You have the honour, that is,
of being a captain without the responsibility. Now it seems to me the
title belongs to you more than ever since yesterday afternoon. You
sailed right in and have won all the glory of persuading Miss Courage to
come back to Virginia, but I do not see that you have assumed a grain
of responsibility. It is a serious thing to have induced her to exchange
her home for ours. Now who’s going to see when she comes that she’s
always perfectly happy and contented, I’d like to know?”

“You are the one to see to that, Uncle Harry. Isn’t that what husbands
have to do? Besides, I don’t think it’s fair to blame me {127}when you
yourself wanted her so much to come.”

“_Blame!_ bless your dear little heart! who thought of blame for a
minute? Irresponsible little rascal though you be, you have earned your
proud title and _Brevet_ you shall be to the end of the chapter.”

Brevet did not quite understand this either, but that did not matter. He
knew that he had succeeded in making everybody very happy, Uncle Harry
in particular, and for the present that was quite enough to know and to
understand.

THE END.





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