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Title: A Merry Scout
Author: Brett, Edna Payson
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Merry Scout" ***


[Illustration: _Tilda and baby Maggie in her brand-new coach_]




  _Illustrated by_





  _Copyright, 1922, by_


  Made in U.S.A.



  A MERRY SCOUT                      7

  LENDING THE BABY                  28

  ROBERT’S ADVENTURE                44

  SANDY’S VALENTINE                 55

[Illustration: _Davy was counting the time until he could be a real



He didn’t belong to any patrol--he wasn’t a real scout at all, but it
wasn’t Davy’s fault. He was only nine and a half, you see, and that
meant two years and six months of waiting--oh, such long waiting it
seemed to Davy--before he could wear the coveted arrow-head badge of
the tenderfoot scout and go hiking and camping like big Cousin Fred.

That is how the figures stood late in December. It was the summer
before, at Grandfather’s, that Davy had first begun counting the time
until he should be twelve. There, at the farm, he had met Cousin
Fred. Fred was sixteen years old, a first-class scout, patrol leader
in his home town, and a winner of the life-saving merit badge. But he
had never felt too big to take Davy for a Sunday hike over the hills,
relating thrilling tales of scout camp life and wood-craft; telling
all about scout law, with its twelve hard things every scout must be
and the daily good turn every scout must do; explaining the different
badges, the oath, and the salute. What wonder that Davy wanted to be a
scout most of anything in the world!

Shortly after his return in the autumn Davy determined to take
matters into his own hands. Accordingly, one day, standing before
his looking-glass and raising his right hand, palm to the front, he
solemnly swore to the oath, all by himself; then he pinned under his
jacket, right over his heart, a secret badge of his own designing.
There he had worn it ever since, and considered himself as honor-bound
to the oath as any scout living.

[Illustration: _Standing before his looking-glass, Davy swore to the
oath, by himself_]

It was now two days before Christmas. There had been a snowstorm,
clearing about noon. Davy had hailed it with whoops of delight. Now,
by shoveling walks, he might earn money to get a Christmas present for
Mother and Father, after all. It could not be the magnificent azalea
and real leather pocketbook he had first dreamed of--that had been
on the expectation of at least six snowstorms; but there was a gay
little Jerusalem cherry tree for Mother, and for Dad a beauty of a tie,
red and green changeable. Davy had selected them days ago--all he was
waiting for was a job. What luck it should be Saturday and no school!

[Illustration: _For one reason or another, nobody seemed to need Davy’s

When the one o’clock whistle blew, Davy and his snow shovel were well
on their way, bound for an attractive-looking corner house out on the
avenue--corner houses were twice the job of ordinary places. Davy
pressed the bell button confidently. A sour-looking maid opened the
door an inch, snapped out “No,” and banged it to before Davy could
get out a word. He stood staring at the door for a moment, his mouth
still open, but a minute later he was striding across the street to
the opposite corner, once more wearing his sturdy scout smile. There,
however, they kept a hired man; next door, a big boy was already
at work. For one reason or another, nobody seemed to need Davy’s
services, and it began to look as if Daddy and Mother might not get
their Christmas gifts at all; only, Davy was determined. At last a nice
little lady twinkled “yes” over her spectacles. But Davy was only on
his third contract, with a shortage of ten cents staring him in the
face, when the town clock struck four.

“Well, I declare, you work as if you meant business!” A jolly old
man paused at Davy’s elbow. “Come up to number seventy Lexington
Avenue--electric light in front--and I’ll give you a job. My pay is
thirty cents. If you aren’t there by a quarter of five, I’ll take it
you’ve struck something nearer by and do it myself.”

“Oh, I’ll be there, all right. Thank you, sir!” Davy’s spirits rose
to the crown of his cap. The necktie and cherry tree were in sight
again--and a box of candy too.

[Illustration: _Davy nearly ran down a young lady dashing along with
a suitcase and an umbrella, in a frantic effort to overtake a passing

Fifteen minutes later he was scuttling out to Lexington Avenue. As he
was crossing the street, a block or two from the railroad station, he
nearly ran down a young lady dashing along with a suitcase, a handbag,
and an umbrella, in a frantic effort to overtake a passing trolley.

“Hey, there, hey!” yelled Davy, but the car whizzed right along.

“Oh, dear!” panted the young lady, dropping her suit case. “I’ve
lost it, and there won’t be another Fletcher Avenue car for fifteen
minutes.” She looked as if about to drop, herself, and Davy
involuntarily stretched out a small hand to steady her.

“Thank you,” she gasped. “I do feel a little shaky, running with this
heavy luggage. I believe I’ll go around the corner to the drug store
and get something hot--provided I can secure a trusty young man to
watch my suitcase.” She smiled confidently down into Davy’s honest
face. “I’ll be back in ten minutes, in time to catch the next car.”

“Oh, you can trust me, _sure_!” Davy smiled back. A scout has to be
helpful and courteous, especially to people in trouble.

“And you’ll stay right here with it and not let anyone touch it? It
contains all my Christmas presents, you see.”

Davy promised with his hand over his badge, but of course she couldn’t
see that away under his jacket!

He watched her anxiously as she crossed the street and turned the
corner. Then he sat down on one end of the bag, his snow shovel at his
feet, and began to consider.

It was now twenty-two minutes after four by the clock in the little
tailor shop at his left, and he must meet his appointment at a quarter
of five or lose his job. Luckily, he had planned to get there ahead of
time--and she would be back in ten minutes--so he’d keep his date all

Trinity chimes pealed the half-hour. Eight minutes gone, and she hadn’t

Now in the distance appeared a Fletcher Avenue car--_her_ car, that she
would surely be back to take! It approached, passed--and she hadn’t
come. Something must have happened! If he could only go around the
corner and find out--but there was his promise.

Another five minutes gone--why didn’t she come? He might still make it
if he ran.

The chimes rang out a quarter of five! It was all up now about the job,
and he was still ten cents short on his Christmas fund, for he could
not take a tip from the lady--a scout may never accept pay for a good
turn. A chill wind was coming up, and it was growing darker and darker
on the lonely corner. Davy stood up and stamped his feet to get out
the numbness. But a scout has to be cheerful, no matter _what_, and he
tried to whistle.

The town clock struck five. The little tailor came out of his little
shop, rattled his big key in his door, and was gone, leaving Davy
lonesomer than ever. He brushed his eyes with his coat sleeve. A scout
cry? Never! But he was so cold and lonesome and disappointed about the
job! He hadn’t thought that being a scout would be just like this.

Then suddenly, clearer than the chimes, he seemed to hear Cousin Fred’s
cheerful voice again, reciting their favorite passage from the law: “_A
scout is brave. He has the courage to face danger in spite of fear._”
And Davy knew, for sure, that he wasn’t going to desert his post, no,
not even if it meant an all-night watch! He turned up his coat collar
and with better success started whistling again, keeping time with his
toes as he paced up and down.

“Hello, pard, waitin’ fer yer airship?” A burly young tough whom Davy
had noticed hanging around the opposite corner swaggered up with a
cigarette in his mouth. “What yer got there? Nuggets or bombs?” giving
the suitcase a kick. “Aw, say,” he added, with a crafty smile, “I’ll
mind it whilst yer beat it to Jakey’s fer a bag o’ peanuts,” and he
held out a nickel.

[Illustration: _Davy turned up his coat collar and started whistling_]

“Oh, no, thank you.” Davy sat down on the suitcase in a hurry. “I
couldn’t think of leaving it to anyone, not even somebody I know. I
promised her, you see--the young lady--to keep it till she came back.
It’s got all her Christmas presents in it!” Davy added proudly.

The ruffian’s eyes narrowed. He cunningly changed his tactics. “Say,
kid, what did she look like--her that belongs to the bag?”

“All kind o’ brown clothes and pretty and dreadful white in the face.
Maybe you’ve seen her?” wistfully.

“Well, what do yer know!” Davy felt his arm clutched tight. “Believe
_me_, pard, that young lady’s a pertic’ler friend o’ mine! And if
you’ll jest remove yerself from her trunk there, I’ll be _dee_-lighted
to fetch it to her. Here, I’ll stand fer her tip,” trying to slip a
coin into Davy’s hand.

“No, sir!” Davy set his jaw fast and plumped down his little body more
protectingly than ever over his charge.

“Aw, yer won’t, won’t yer? We’ll see,” sneered the ruffian, casting a
furtive glance to right and left.

In an agony Davy followed his glance, but no help was in sight--save
an approaching trolley, and that probably wouldn’t stop. Oh, if only
some one _would_ come, or if he were only bigger, or had a magic sling
like that David of old! But no, all unarmed he must meet _his_ giant
Goliath. Was ever a true scout up against heavier odds? Then, in his
dire need, he seemed to hear Cousin Fred’s voice again, “_A scout has
the courage ... to stand up for the right ... against the threats of
enemies ... and defeat does not down him_.”

Davy braced himself for whatever might come--and it came promptly. A
sharp wrench, a vicious punch, and the suitcase was in the hands of
the enemy, and Davy flattened on the ground, well-nigh winded. It was
a black moment for the brave little scout. Everything lost--and what
would _she_ think? And he had tried so hard!

[Illustration: _“Aw, yer won’t, won’t yer? We’ll see,” sneered the

Then--Ah, the trusty snow shovel, Davy’s ally that hadn’t been reckoned
on. _Trip-ity-rip!_ Over it went the enemy with an ugly growl,
sprawling into the gutter!

And the car _had_ stopped, depositing a broad-shouldered young
man who saw what had occurred and was now making rapid strides
toward Davy. The ruffian, scenting trouble, picked himself up, and
limped a double-quick retreat through the shadow and around the
corner--with_out_ the bag!

“Well, well, here you are, standing by your guns, just as she said
you’d be!” The young man was addressing Davy, who had managed to get
on his legs once more and regain his charge. “Say, but you’re game
all right!” At the word of appreciation and the comradely slap on his
shoulder, Davy suddenly didn’t mind any more about the long waiting,
losing the job, and having the wind knocked out of him.

“You’re looking pretty white about the gills, though,” the big young
man’s voice was very kind. “Beastly long ten minutes, wasn’t it? She
didn’t count on fainting, you see, and that sort of thing. She’s my
sister--teaches in the South--was going to spring a surprise on the
family by coming home for the holidays. Here, I’ll take that ark off
your hands and start you homeward. Your folks’ll be getting worried
about you.”

[Illustration: _Ah, the trusty snow shovel, trip-ity-rip! Over it went
the enemy_]

Oh, how Davy longed to accept the proffered release! But no, “I--I--I
can’t,” he stammered. “I promised, and a scout has to keep his word.”
Oh, it was hard to say “no” to this friendly young man. It took almost
more courage than fighting the ruffian.

“Well, that’s a good one on me!” The big young man turned away his face
to save Davy’s feelings. “A _scout_, did I hear you say?” He was quite
serious now. “But you’re some way short of twelve?”

Then, of course, Davy had to tell about the secret badge, who he was,
where he lived, Cousin Fred, and the encounter with the ruffian.

“Come, give us your hand, brother scout. You’re the real article,
certificate or no certificate!” Davy’s small, mittened palm was taken
in a mighty grip. “Now stand on the suitcase and look here”--the big
young man opened his greatcoat--“on my sleeve, can you see?” taking out
a pocket flashlight.

Davy saw. The badge of the scout master--a sure guarantee of all that
was honorable and loyal, trustworthy and brave. It was like the coming
of the Prince in fairy tales. Davy’s eyes glowed. Words failed him,
but off came his right red mitten and three fingers were raised to his
forehead in reverent salute. Then he quietly slipped from the suitcase,
and, the weary watch over at last, joyfully resigned his charge into
lawful hands.

“I say! you’re a dandy little scout, just the kind I’m looking for. And
if only I were a magician, I’d hustle those next three birthdays of
yours along in no time at all. But here’s your car--you’ll hear from us
later. Good-by!” And with a parting slap for Davy and a nickel to the
conductor, the scout master was gone.

On Christmas morning there came a package and a letter for Davy, both
in the same unfamiliar hand. The package contained a most wonderful
book, and the letter read:


  Yes, that is what I have named you, for where would there have been
  any Merry Christmas for me but for your valiant defense of my
  precious bag! I am so sorry for what you had to endure on my behalf,
  but I am very happy to add to my acquaintance one more person who
  can be trusted, whatever the cost to him. Surely, never was a real,
  truly boy scout more faithful to his oath than my little scout of the
  secret order.

  I hope you will enjoy the _Animal Book and Camp-Fire Stories_, by
  Dan Beard, National Scout Commissioner, which my brother and I are
  sending you as a small token of our gratitude.

  We are planning to see you very soon.

                     Most cordially your friend,
                                                           AGATHA ALDEN.

“Gee!” gasped Davy, turning rapturously from letter to book and back to
letter again. “But any scout would have had to do it, wouldn’t he, Dad?”

Father, admiring his new Christmas tie before the sideboard mirror,
smiled down into Davy’s earnest face reflected therein. “I should
certainly say he would, my son,” he agreed, without hesitation. But
the eyes he turned to Mother, across the room, were brimming over with

[Illustration: _On Christmas morning there came a package and a letter
for Davy_]

“_Our_ little Merry Christmas Scout,” softly responded Mother, who was
tending a gay little Jerusalem cherry tree at the window. Sometimes
there are bargains, you know, the last thing before Christmas, and so
Davy’s ten-cent shortage didn’t matter, after all!


Lakeside Park was fairly a-blossom with children that bright summer
morning, babies _and_ babies--chubby little boys in clean jaunty
blouses, dainty little girls, fresher than the posies as they skipped
about in their spick-and-span frocks--all safeguarded by grown-ups.

Bumpity-bump! Nurses, big sisters, and children turned out in a hurry
to make room for Tilda, of the tenement, and baby Maggie in her
brand-new coach. Tilda nodded and smiled shyly at the other little boys
and girls as she pushed along the gorgeous gocart, a present that very
morning from dear, freckled, carrot-headed Pete, of the same crowded
tenement. Pete had made it his own self a-purpose for Maggie, out of
a nice soap box and a pair of old wheels taken in trade with the rag
man. And the red paint--the crowning glory of it all--he had earned
doing odd jobs for Michael, the carpenter.

Wee Maggie, scrubbed to a polish, dimpled and babbled as she rumbled
along. And what mattered to Tilda any longer the hot mile of dusty
city walk--the tiresome journey from the tenement--now at last she
had reached her beloved park? Oh, the cool, woodsy, sweet-smelling
park! Here you could see such lots of the blue sky above the wavy
trees and look as much as you liked at brilliant beds of geraniums and
verbenas--so long as you didn’t pick them. And here, down by the ripply
water, you could watch the whitest swans gliding along so elegantly,
but not too superior to accept the bits of cake tossed from the bank by
their young admirers.

By and by Tilda turned into a secluded path and came suddenly upon a
lady seated all alone on a rustic bench. She was leaning her head on
one hand and paying not a speck of attention to any of the beautiful
things about her, not even to Mr. Robin, who was calling “cheer up” so
insistently from the tip-toppest twig of the neighboring birch.

Deary me, what could be the matter? Tilda halted for exactly one
quarter of a minute, then, dropping the cart handle, tiptoed across the
grass, and, gently nudging the lady’s arm, whispered, “Are you sick,

The stranger started and glanced up, very much surprised to find a
small girl in a faded, patched gingham gazing at her with solicitous
gray eyes.

“Oh, no, child, I’m not ill, thank you! What made you think--but who
is that little one in the wagon?” she asked with a sudden show of
interest, interrupting herself.

[Illustration: _Deary me, what could be the matter?_]

“Why, that’s my baby.” Tilda grew tall with pride.

“_Your_ baby!” The sad lady very nearly smiled.

“Yes, isn’t she grand?” Tilda shoved the cart close up to the bench.
“She’s Maggie. Open your mouth, Maggie, and show the missis your teeth.”

“She _is_ a dear baby,” agreed the lady wistfully, patting Maggie’s
little tow head with tender fingers.

“Maybe you’ve got one at home, too?” ventured Tilda.

“N-no, not now.” The lady’s voice was, oh, so sorry! A big lump came
right up into Tilda’s throat and tears had started on their way when a
happy idea sent them straight back again.

In less than two shakes of a lambkin’s tail she had snatched wee Maggie
from the gocart and landed her pat on the strange lady’s lap.

[Illustration: _The lady snuggled Maggie close and held out one hand to

“I’ll lend you my baby, missis,” she offered softly. “You can take her
every day. I’ll fetch her in the gocart and”--Tilda faltered, then
continued bravely--“you can make b’lieve she’s yours and not ours at

“Oh, thank you, dear!” Really truly smiles now chased away the lady’s
tears. She snuggled Maggie close and held out one hand to Tilda.

“Yes, indeed, I should like to borrow wee Maggie often, and you, too,
little mother! You are better than the sunshine. Come sit down here and
tell me all about yourself and baby.”

The stray passers-by smiled with friendly interest at the odd trio
seated there so cozily on the park bench: cheery little Tilda from the
tenement in her faded blue gingham, punctuating the conversation with
intermittent bobbings of her funny, homemade Dutch cut; the beautiful
young woman known to society as a wealthy banker’s wife--Tilda
immediately had dubbed her “Fairy Godmother”--in an immaculate white
costume; and wee, rosy Maggie in a pink dotted calico cuddled between

Fairy Godmother listened with a strange, new awakening as Tilda, with
glowing eyes, went on to enumerate all her riches. First, of course,
there was Maggie, the sweetest baby in the world, and dear Mother,
who worked so hard to provide for them since Father’s death. Then
there were her precious day school and Sunday school, the enchanted
park--Tilda loved to pretend it was full of fairies--and there were
Pete and the gocart, and now there was Fairy Godmother herself.

“Tilda,” a light struggled bravely through the mist in Fairy
Godmother’s eyes, “this is my own baby’s birthday--darling little Anne,
who was lent to us for twelve happy months, then taken back by the
Father of us all. It was to this same park nurse and I used to bring
her, and so I came here today to keep her birthday. But your bright
little selves have shown me a better way. Yes, I’m going to borrow
you both and take you to my home to help me change this day from the
saddest to the gladdest day of all the year.”

[Illustration: _Shortly they were spinning along in the trolley, the
gocart on the rear platform_]

Shortly they were spinning along in the trolley, with the precious
gocart on the rear platform. And before Tilda had a chance to really
“come to,” Fairy Godmother was saying, “Here we are.” The car stopped,
the jolly conductor helped them out, gocart and all, and in a moment
more Tilda found herself entering the “stylishest” house she had ever
seen. She followed on tiptoe into the grand hall, up the wide stairs,
and stepped straight into fairyland. It wasn’t any dream kind, either,
that you wake up from right in the most exciting place. Tilda made sure
of that by biting her finger hard--and it _hurt_.

Fairy Godmother deposited Maggie on the lovely blue center of the
loveliest-of-all rugs--Tilda’s feet were loth to tread on any of
them. Then she touched a funny little button, and, presto! it was
just like Arabian Nights, excepting it wasn’t one of the _genii_ that
appeared--only a pretty, rosy-cheeked woman, in the tiniest white cap
and apron. She stood in the doorway, looking so surprised at the little
strangers that Tilda became suddenly conscious of the patches in her
gingham frock, and the places where there _should_ have been patches in
her shoes.

“Norah,” reminded Fairy Godmother gently, “this is little Anne’s
birthday, and these dear children have come to spend it with me and
help to make it glad.”

“Yes, marm,” responded Norah. And Tilda followed her glance to the
life-sized portrait of a wee blue-eyed baby as sweet--yes, as Maggie
herself. Fairy Godmother had a little tête-à-tête with Norah, who soon
left the room, turning as she went to send an assuring smile to the now
welcome visitors.

Then Tilda and Maggie went to a wonderful concert--all the time staying
just where they were. Ladies and gentlemen they couldn’t see at all
came and sang to them, and whole orchestras and bands, all from the
same mysterious little box, played music that set delicious thrills
shivering down Tilda’s back, and her feet to beating time. Sousa’s band
had just finished “El Capitan” when some sweet little chimes tinkled
out in the hall.

“Come, Tilda.” Fairy Godmother picked up Maggie and led the way
downstairs, out to the honeysuckle porch overlooking the garden.

[Illustration: _Tilda and Maggie went to a wonderful concert--all the
time staying just where they were_]

There, as if the fairies had been at work, stood the dearest little
table that ever was, on land or sea, with rosebuds in the middle and
set for just three, with little rosebud dishes. My! but that was a
party for any royal princess, cocoa with a lovely white foam on top,
tiny three-cornered chicken sandwiches, ice cream and strawberries--two
plates if you wanted them--frosted cake and candy besides, and milk for
Maggie from a real silver cup! The only sorry part of it was baby Anne
could not be there, too, for her own birthday. Probably heaven was just
as nice, though Tilda could scarcely believe it.

After the “party” Maggie was tucked up cozily on the veranda couch for
a nap, and Tilda was escorted to the garden to meet General Jack, Lady
Gay, Baltimore Belles, American Beauties, and other celebrities, to
say nothing of the pert little Pansy folk, who turned up their saucy
faces at her. And Fairy Godmother said she might pick all the roses
she wanted, her own self. Fancy it--dozens of them--red, white, and
pink, like the grandest lady of the land! And every now and then, as
Tilda stole a shy glance at Fairy Godmother’s glad face, her own beamed
brighter than ever.

[Illustration: _Fairy Godmother said she might pick all the roses she

An hour flew by as hours only can in Fairyland gardens.

“Honk, honk!” Tilda jumped to one side quicker than pop, it sounded
so near, and Fairy Godmother, standing on the porch with wide-awake
Maggie in her arms, laughed outright.

“It is talking to us, Tilda,” she explained, “and says, ‘Come out

There by the curb stood a splendid great, shiny auto, waiting for Tilda
and Maggie.

Out from the front seat hopped a nice big man with a nice big smile to
match, to help them all in and get them settled.

“This is ‘Fairy Godfather,’ Tilda,” introduced Fairy Godmother. “He’s
heard all about you and Maggie over the ’phone.”

“I’m delighted to meet you, Miss Tilda and Maggie,” he said in a
nice big voice as he held out his hand, and Tilda felt almost too
magnificent to live.

Norah now came flying out with a mysterious box, which she handed right
over to Tilda. Then Fairy Godfather packed in the gocart and away they
whizzed for the tenement--by way of the shore.

Two hours later, when tired Mother came home from her long day’s work,
a radiant and breathless Tilda met her at the door and invited her to a
royal spread.

“Do have some more cake and another cup of tea,” insisted the little
hostess gayly. “And just think, Mother, a trip to the country for
all of us for two whole weeks! Isn’t it grand? And there’ll be cows
and chickens and green grass and flowers, and the rent paid all the
while we’re gone! But most the wonderfulest part of it all”--Tilda’s
eyes grew starry--“was how Fairy Godmother kept getting gladder ’n’
gladder all the time. And she said ‘thank you’ to me, Mother, and Fairy
Godfather did, too, ’s if _I’d_ done anything, when you know positive
sure I never did one single thing ’cept lending Maggie.”

“I’m not so sure about that, dear.” And Mother patted the scraggly
Dutch cut tenderly, smiling into Tilda’s questioning eyes.


“Good-by, Robert,” called Mother, as she and Father drove off for the
city one summer afternoon. “Don’t forget to fill the wood box, dear,
and to feed the chickens.”

“Good-by,” answered the boy from the stone wall, without looking up.

Robert was discontented. He was tired of filling the wood box and
feeding the chickens every day, and for only five cents a week. Five
cents a week! Yes, that was all he had to spend for candy, marbles, and
everything, while Timmie Marsh, who lived down the road, had a nickel
about every day, and he never had to work at all.

Robert had been thinking and thinking what could be done about it, and
at last he had made up his mind. He would go to Blakeville that very
afternoon to old Nurse Tucker’s. He could walk four miles easily, and
Nurse would be so glad to see him.

“Of course,” he said to himself, “I’ll write to Mother, so she’ll know
I’m not drowned or anything. And I’ll tell her how Nurse gives me five
cents for candy every day--’course she will--and how I don’t have to do
any work, either. Then won’t Daddy come for me quick and say if I’ll
only go back with him, I needn’t bring in the wood or feed the chickens
or do anything unless I feel like it, and I can have all the money I
want, besides!”

And now, as the buckboard vanished in the distance, Robert turned
toward the house to carry out his plan. He could hear Mandy, the hired
girl, singing at her work as he tiptoed cautiously in at the wood-shed
door and up to his room.

After giving his hair one hasty stroke with the brush and putting on
his Sunday shoes and stockings, he considered his toilet completed and
was soon stealing out of the wood shed again, unobserved by Mandy.

A moment later Robert was skulking through the barnyard, making a
bee line for the blueberry lot and the turnpike. But what made the
chickens act so queerly? Mrs. Bantam, with her head cocked on one
side, eyed him suspiciously as he crept along, while the great white
rooster flew upon the coop and screamed right out, so loud that Robert
feared the whole village would hear. “_What-you-going-to-do-oo?
What-you-going-to-do-oo?_” Robert did not think best to answer, but was
only more eager than ever to move on his journey.

He had no sooner struck the blueberry lot, however, than Lady Ann, the
Jersey cow, started for him, and, poking out her head, exclaimed in
mild surprise, “_Oo-oo! oo-oo!_”

[Illustration: “_What-you-going-to-do-oo? What-you-going-to-do-oo?_”]

And he had barely reached the road, when, to cap the climax, the sheep
from the stony pasture across the way began to chide him. “_Ba-ad!
Ba-ad!_” they bleated.

“No, I’m _not_ bad, either!” cried Robert almost in tears. Here he had
gone cross-lots purposely to escape the villagers and now the animals
were all after him! And, stuffing his fingers in his ears, he began to

The summer sun was blazing; still Robert kept on, though with
ever-slackening speed, meeting no one but a stray dog or two and an
occasional ox-team with its sleepy driver. At length he came to a big
sign post which read:


“P’r’aps I’d better sit down a minute,” he said to himself. “I’m not
tired, of course, and my shoes don’t hurt--only just a little bit. I
guess there won’t be anybody to catch me ’way out here.” And as he
sat rubbing his hands over the shoes that did not hurt, he encouraged
himself with visions of the candy counter at Nurse’s village store.

“Why, Robert, little man, what are you doing so far from home?” There
was no escaping an answer this time, for it was Mrs. Bronson, the
minister’s wife, who stood before him.

“O--er, I’m--er going for a walk, Mrs. Bronson,” he stammered, jumping
up; and, taking off his cap, he turned on his heel and started on
again, never once daring to look behind.

But the Sunday shoes were soon pinching in good earnest. He could
stand them no longer, so he pulled them off, and, swinging them on his
shoulder, went on in his stocking feet.

Uphill and downhill he trudged. How hot the sun was! And how tired and
bruised his poor feet were getting!

“I guess I’ll take another little rest,” he said as he limped across
the road. “It’s nice and shady here by the brook and I _am some_

Down upon the sweet green grass he lay. The candy counter at Blakeville
was beginning to lose its charm, and--

Robert sat up in a sudden fright. A solemn voice was calling to him
from the woods: “_Bubby-gu-hum! Bubby-gu-hum!_”

Robert turned fearfully, and there, on a stone in the brook, sat a
great, blinking frog.

“I won’t go home, you naughty frog!” he cried. “I’m going to Nurse’s.”
Then, ka-splash! and Mr. Frog had disappeared.

There was a queer buzzing in Robert’s head, and presently he was fast
asleep in spite of himself.

The sun set. The little boy slept on. A cool breeze came up, and Robert
tried to pull the bedclothes over him, but there weren’t any clothes to
pull--and he awoke.

He sat up and looked around. What could it all mean? When finally
it dawned upon him where he was, he set up a wail and then stood in

[Illustration: _“I won’t go home, you naughty frog,” Robert cried_]

In a moment he started in fresh horror, hearing wheels close at hand.

“Supposing it’s gypsies,” he groaned, “and they should carry me off! Oh
dear! Oh dear!”

Nearer came the wheels. There was no way of escape. All he could do was
to drop down beside the road and keep so still maybe they’d think he
was a log of wood.

Now he heard voices. There might be twenty of them. Twenty gypsies!
Could it be they were going by without noticing him? Robert hardly
dared to breathe.

“Whoa there! What’s this?”

A big man leaped from the team. Robert closed his eyes and tried to
pray. But all that he could think of was, “Now I lay me,” and that
would never do.

A lantern was flashed in his face. “Bless my stars, if it isn’t our own

“O Daddy, Daddy!” sobbed a frightened little voice.

Two strong arms lifted the shivering little fellow and placed him in
the buckboard right beside his own mother.

“Robert, Robert!” she cried tremulously. “How did you ever get way out
here at this time of night?--and in your stocking feet!”

[Illustration: “_Oh, Mother, I want to go home, and I’ll bring in the
wood, and feed the chickens_”]

“Oh, Mother, I was g-going to Nurse’s and my shoes hurt and I went to
sleep, but I don’t want to go there any m-more. I want to go ho-home,
and I’ll bring in the wood, and f-feed the chickens every day, and you
needn’t give me any m-money at all!”

Then Mother, who was a wonderful magician, understood all about it.

“Oh,” she cried softly, “supposing we had gone home by the other road!”

But Father said, “Let’s see. It isn’t too late yet. Shan’t we turn
around and carry him to Blakeville?”

“Oh, no, no!” pleaded Robert, clutching his father’s arm, “I want to go

“Humph! you’ve really changed your mind then, have you? Well if that’s
the case, we’ll jog right along. Get up, Daisy.”

And Robert, snuggled there up against Mother, so safe and warm, at that
moment would not have changed places with any boy living; no, not even
for all the candy in the Blakeville store!


“Tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day, Jeanie.”

“Yes, Sandy, I know.” Jeanie turned gently to the little brother, whose
face was all swollen with mumps.

“Say, Jeanie, wouldn’t it be nice to have a truly valentine with lace
and angels on it, like what’s in the store windows? Do you ’spose I
will get one tomorrow?” he asked wistfully.

“Maybe you will, Sandy.” Jeanie smiled bravely, but her heart ached for
the disappointment she feared was in store for him. How she was longing
for a “truly” valentine herself, she did not breathe to Sandy.

There were many things that sadly puzzled seven-year-old Jeanie. Why
should Father have gone to heaven to stay forever when they all
needed him so badly? Why did the rent man come so often to take all
Mother’s money as fast as she saved it? Why did the grocer never bring
a turkey to their house on Thanksgiving or Christmas? And why did the
postman never stop at their door, even on holidays, when he had so many
packages? It seemed as if one, at least, must certainly be meant for

Jeanie was turning it all over in her mind now, as she made Sandy’s
bed, this morning before Valentine’s Day, when suddenly a bright idea
came into her head, and, darting across the room to a rickety little
table, she opened the drawer and pulled out a piece of druggists’ white
paper. Smoothing it out on the table, she folded the two short edges
carefully together.

“It looks just like boughten letter paper now, don’t it, Sandy? But
you mustn’t ask a single question, because it’s a surprise,” she said,
settling herself to write. Then for thirty long minutes, Jeanie’s stub
pencil crawled painfully over the white surface. It was a hard task for
her, especially as Mother wasn’t at home to help with the spelling.

[Illustration: _Jeanie was turning it all over in her mind as she made
Sandy’s bed_]

At last Jeanie heaved a deep sigh of relief. “There,” she said aloud,
“it’s all ready now but the unvelope.” Whereupon she took from the
family Bible a treasured envelope she had picked up in the street one

“It’s a perfectly good unvelope, all unstuck same’s a new one,” she
said to herself “and a nice green stamp on it. All the matter is, it’s
wrote on a little, but I can scratch that out all right.” And soon the
second-hand envelope was ready and the letter tucked inside.

“I must go to school now, Sandy!” cried Jeanie, running for her coat
and hat. “Mother’ll be home pretty soon. Good-by.” In a moment she was
out of the door and hurrying to the mail box on the corner, where,
standing on tiptoe, she dropped in the precious missive.

That noon, as Postman Green sat at dinner with his wife, he suddenly
exclaimed, “Oh, I ’most forgot my valentine!” and he pulled from his
pocket a sorry-looking envelope, directed to “Mister Postman himself.”

[Illustration: _Jeanie, standing on tiptoe, dropped in the precious

“From one of my young admirers on Gregory Street,” he laughed, passing
it to his wife.

Mrs. Green tore it open. “Why, it’s a letter,” she said, proceeding to
read aloud:


  I thort I wood rite you about Sandy’s valuntin; he wants one
  orful--one of those kind with lace and angels on it what come in
  unvelops. He has got the mumps and can’t go out, and Mother ain’t got
  any money to buy a valuntin, and father has been in heaven a long
  time. Won’t you plees look everywhere around the post-orfice, and
  in all the boxes on the lamp-posts, and see if you can’t find one
  for him? His name is Sandy Keith, and we live in the little brown
  house, number 27 Gregory Street, wher you don’t ever stop, even on
  Christmus. I will be looking for you at the winder tomorer noon.
  Plees don’t go by or cross the street this time.

      From your frend,

                                                            JEANIE KEITH

“Poor little things! They mustn’t be disappointed!” cried Mrs. Green.

“Indeed, they shan’t be,” answered the postman soberly. “I’ve just
thought up the nicest little scheme. I’ll tell you how it all comes
out tomorrow.”

[Illustration: _The door was opened by a pale-faced little girl,
leaning on a crutch_]

Late that afternoon Postman Green rang the bell of a fine stone house
on Hillside Avenue. The door was opened quickly by a pale-faced little
girl, leaning on a crutch.

“Only five of them for you in this mail,” laughed the postman, as she
held out her hand, “but here’s a valentine _I_ got this morning I’d
like you to see. I’ll call for it tomorrow.”

“Poor little rich girl!” he said to himself, as he went away. “She’ll
have something new to amuse her now.”

The next noon Jeanie came home from school in a quiver of excitement.
Sandy met her with a rueful face. “It ain’t come, Jeanie,” he cried

“But Valentine’s Day isn’t over yet,” laughed Jeanie gaily. And, dinner
dispatched as soon as possible, she took her stand at the window.

At that moment, several blocks away, the postman was again stopping at
the door of the great stone house.

“I’m so glad that you showed me your valentine,” the little girl on
the crutch was saying, with sparkling eyes, “else I’d never have known
anything about them. Thank you so much. It’s the best fun I ever had.”

It seemed a long time to Jeanie, stationed at the window, before the
familiar blue coat came in sight.

“Oh, here he comes, Sandy!” she cried at last, clasping her hands
tightly together, “and he sees me, and he’s waving something white!”

Jeanie flew to the door and opened it before the postman had time to

“For Master Sandy Keith,” he announced, holding out a great white

“That’s him, that’s him!” cried Jeanie wildly, pointing to Sandy, who,
regardless of mumps, had followed her. “Oh, thank you, Mister Postman!
I knew you’d come. But where did you ever find such a big one?”

“For Miss Jeanie Keith,” continued the postman, not seeming to hear,
taking from his pack another envelope as big as the first.

“Why, that’s me!” Jeanie caught her breath. “And I wanted one awful.
But how did you know?” The postman only smiled.

“By the way,” he said, as he turned to go, “I’ll be stopping again
before long. There’s a Christmas box that ought to have been left here
nearly two months ago. I’m real sorry I’ve neglected you all this
while.” Then he hurried off.

Such valentines were never seen in Gregory Street before as were set
up in the window of number twenty-seven that day, nor two such bright
faces as peeped out from behind.

“Do you ’spose there’s anybody in the whole world as happy as we are,
Sandy?” Jeanie asked a dozen times over.

“’Course not!” responded Sandy indignantly each time.

But they did not know about the little girl on a crutch in the fine
stone house, who was brimming over with joy that day because she had
adopted two little stranger friends, to be their valentine the whole
year round.


  Italicized text is surrounded by underscores: _italics_.

  Superscripted letters are preceded by a carat character: M^cNally.

  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Merry Scout" ***

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