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Title: Silver Rags
Author: Allen, Willis Boyd
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Silver Rags" ***

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  Author of “PINE CONES”

  “Like beggared princes of the wood,
  In silver rags the birches stood.”


  COPYRIGHT, 1886,



  CHAPTER                             PAGE

     I. Overboard!                       7

    II. Where is the Watch?             21

   III. The Trial                       41

    IV. Fire!                           52

     V. In the Den                      74

    VI. A Small Hero                    92

   VII. Oak Leaves and Hay             110

  VIII. Poor Tom!                      129

    IX. A Mountain Camp                137

     X. The Storm                      158

    XI. The Great Base-Ball Match      172

   XII. Hunted to Earth                185

  XIII. Found at Last                  196

   XIV. Quiet Days at The Pines        207

    XV. Good-bye!                      216




“Help! Help!”

It was a girl’s voice, clear and sharp with distress. The cry echoed
over Loon Pond, and rang through the woods which surrounded its dimpled

In a small, flat-bottomed boat, about fifty yards from the shore,
crouched a young girl of perhaps sixteen years, her face blanched with
terror as she gazed into the depths beneath and uttered again and again
that piercing cry:

“Help! O quick, quick! Help!”

Something dark rose slowly to the surface of the pond, and a small
white hand waved frantically in the air a moment, then sank,
struggling, out of sight. Again it came up, this time more quietly,
and again disappeared, while the occupant of the boat screamed louder,
her voice breaking into sobs. The only oar to be seen was floating
quietly on the water, almost within reach.


Would no one come? The birches that crowned the hill-top close by
shivered in the sunlight; on the farther shore, the pines stood
motionless in dark, silent ranks.

Just as the object in the water rose for the third and last time,
scarcely breaking the surface, the bushes hiding the nearest bank
suddenly parted, and a boy dashed out into the pond which was shallow
at this point, with a smooth, sandy beach.

“Hold on, Kittie, I’m coming!” he shouted lustily, splashing ahead with
all his might, and making the water fly in every direction.

Presently he sank deeper, and began to swim with such powerful strokes
that half a dozen of them brought him nearly alongside the boat.

“There, there, Randolph!” screamed Kittie Percival, pointing to the
sinking form.

Randolph gave one look, doubled over in the water, and with a desperate
effort dived headlong in a line to cut off the drowning girl before
she reached the bottom. After a few seconds which to Kittie seemed
days, he reappeared, holding his helpless burden, and clutched the
stern of the boat. The poor girl’s head lay back on his shoulder,
white, cold, and motionless.

“Haven’t--you--got--an oar?” puffed Randolph.

“It fell out when I wasn’t noticing,” sobbed Kittie, “and floated off.
We both leaned over to reach it, and Pet fell into the pond.”

“All right, I’ll swim for it. Here goes.” And allowing his feet to
rise behind him, with one arm around the girl and the other hand
still grasping the boat, he struck out, frog-fashion, for the shore.
Presently he resumed his upright position, but found the water was
still over his head. A dozen more pushes, and the second experiment
was successful. He announced that he felt bottom under his feet, and
presently the bow of the boat grated on the sand. Kittie now jumped
into the water beside him, regardless of skirts and boots, and assisted
him in raising the unconscious girl, from whose garments and long,
bright hair the water streamed as they lifted her tenderly in their
arms, and carried her to the shore.

While they were thus engaged, a third actor appeared on the scene,
no other than “Captain Bess” Percival herself, whom, with her sister
Kittie, the readers of _Pine Cones_ will remember.

“O Kittie, Kittie, what has happened? Did she fall overboard? Is she

“We don’t know,” panted Randolph, answering her last question. “She was
just going down the third time. Where shall we take her?”

“Up to the Indians’ tent,” said Bess. “It’s only a few steps from here.
I left Tom and Ruel there, while I came to look for you. Here, let me

“Bring her lilies,” added Kittie sadly. “Poor little Pet, she had only
gathered two!”

The mournful procession took up its march through the woods, Bess and
Randolph carrying Pet between them. Kittie followed, with the lilies,
helping when she could.

Pet Sibley was a girl slightly younger than her companions, who lived
near the Percivals in Boston. When the invitation came from uncle Will
Percival in June for them to spend their summer vacation, or a part
of it, with him and aunt Puss--as the children called his wife--at
The Pines, the girls begged permission, which was heartily granted,
to bring their friend Pet with them. She was a frank, good-hearted
girl, with light, rippling hair, blue eyes, and a sunny disposition
which always looked on the bright side of everything and perhaps was
a bit too forgetful of the earnest in life. If that, and her evident
pleasure in her own pretty face, were faults, they were very forgivable
ones; for she was sweet and true at heart, after all. The fun of the
whole thing was, that she had never lived in the country. She was a
thoroughly city-bred girl; had travelled in Europe when she was a wee
child, had lived two or three years in hotels and “apartments,” and
knew absolutely nothing of field and forest. A more complete contrast
to sober, thoughtful Kittie, and energetic “Captain Bess,” could hardly
be imagined. So it came about that, as often happens with people of
widely varying dispositions, all three loved one another dearly.

Randolph was in the second class at the Boston Latin School, and had
won three prizes that spring, two for scholarship, and one for drilling.

On this particular morning Ruel, a guide, trapper, and man-of-all-work
at Mr. Percival’s farm in the heart of the Maine woods, had taken the
young folks off for a tramp to Loon Pond, a pretty sheet of water some
four miles long by one and a half broad. They had enjoyed themselves
immensely--Randolph, Tom, and the three girls--running races along the
forest paths, gathering mosses, ferns and queer white “Indian pipes,”
or listening to Ruel’s quaint sayings as he talked of birds and wild
creatures of the wood, with not a little philosophy thrown in.

At the distance of about a furlong from the pond, they had come out
upon a little clearing, on the further edge of which was a rude tent
of canvas. In the doorway sat an Indian squaw, with one tiny brown
pappoose in her arms, and another playing on the grass near by. The
father of the babies she said, on inquiry, was off somewhere in the
woods. She had a few baskets for sale, and while Bess and the two boys
stopped to look at these and play with the babies, Kittie and Pet had
run on ahead, and having reached the shore of the pond, had come upon
an old boat, apparently used for a long time past by no one, except
perhaps the Indian when he was not too lazy to fish. Into this boat
they had climbed, screaming and laughing, girl-fashion, and hastily
pushing it off with the one oar which lay in the bottom, had been
trying to collect a bunch of lilies to surprise the rest, when the
accident happened as Kittie described it.

It took but a few minutes for the mournful little group to reach the
camp, though the distance seemed miles. Pet showed not the slightest
sign of life and her pretty hair almost touched the ground as it hung
over Randolph’s shoulder and swayed to and fro as he walked.

Ruel’s quick eye was the first to catch sight of them, and to take in
the situation.

“Bring her here,” he said sharply, springing to his feet and wasting no
time in questions. “Now turn her on her face--so--there, that’ll do.
Poor little gal! I dunno whether we c’n bring her to, but we c’n try,

“Shall I run for the doctor, Ruel?” asked Tom, trembling from head to

“No doctor nearer’n six mile,” said the guide grimly. “By the time he’d
git here we shouldn’t need him, either ways. Bess, you’n’ Kittie take
her inside the tent--here, let me lift her--git her wet clothes off an’
roll her in blankets. Grab ’em up anywhere you c’n find ’em. I’ll fix
it with the Injuns. Randolph, you’re wet’s a mink yourself. Take Tom
with you and run fer home. Mis’ Percival will give ye some hot tea and
put ye to bed.”

“But what shall I do, Ruel?” asked Tom again.

“You git a couple of them big gray shawls of your aunt’s an’ bring
’em in the double team to the back road, where this path comes
out--remember it?”

“Yes, Ruel, but--”

“Git Tim to put the horses in, and drive. He’ll hurry ’nuff, once git
him goin’.”

Tom and Randolph were off like a flash, and Ruel turned to the squaw,
who had been standing motionless, after having picked up her pappoose
that Ruel had tipped over when he jumped up.

“Say, Moll, can’t ye take holt and help the gals a little?”

The squaw came forward crossly enough, mumbling and grumbling to
herself, and, entering the tent, pulled the flap down behind her. Once
inside, she worked harder than any of them, with hands as gentle and
skilful as those of a hospital nurse.

Fifteen minutes passed. It was a hot day in late June, and Ruel wiped
his brow repeatedly as he paced to and fro before the tent. The Indian,
he knew, would bear no interference, and her knowledge and experience
were invaluable.


“Any signs of life?” he asked aloud, when he could bear the suspense no

Kittie put a white face out between the hangings, and said “No.”

Twenty minutes. A thrush from a thicket near by, sang a few notes, and
stopped. The air went up in little waves of heat, from the tree-tops.
It was very still.

Suddenly there was an exclamation inside the tent; both girls cried out
at once, and were hushed by the guttural tones of the Indian.

Another long silence, almost unendurable to the big-hearted man
outside, who felt in some way accountable for what had happened.

He hid his face in his hands, and walked slowly off toward the thicket
where the thrush had sung.

Again there was a stir within the tent.

“See!” cried Bess joyfully. “She moved her eyelids! She’s alive! She’s

Soon a new voice was heard behind the canvas--a low, troubled moan,
then a pitiful crying, like that of a beaten child. Poor little Pet,
it was hard, coming back to life again! She writhed in agony for a
few minutes, crying and catching her breath brokenly. But at last
her sweet blue eyes opened. “Mamma!” she said, with trembling lips,
looking about wonderingly at her strange surroundings.

“O Pet, darling, I’m so glad!” sobbed Kittie, falling on her knees and
kissing the pale face again and again. “You’re all safe and alive! It
was my fault, taking you out--of course you thought it was like the
Public Gardens--oh, dear, and here are your two lilies!” And Kittie
burst out crying afresh at sight of them.

While she had been talking, Pet had gazed at her and the dark face of
the Indian alternately. Slowly came back the memory of the walk in
the woods, the first view of the shining lake, the laughing scramble
into the boat, the fair lily faces, looking up at her. Then, the
terrible moment when she felt herself falling down, down, with all the
world flying away from her, and only the thick, green, stifling water
pressing against her face.

She tried to put up her little hands to shut out the picture, but she
was too tightly rolled in the blanket. Then she looked up and--laughed!
At the same moment the Indian threw back the tent-flap, and beckoned to
Ruel, who was hurrying toward her at the sound of the voices. Pet lay
swathed in cloths and blankets of all colors, as old Moll had snatched
them from bed and floor, so that up to her chin she looked like a
gay-colored little mummy. Her head, with its long golden hair, rested
in Bessie’s lap; and a smile was on her lips.

“Thank God!” exclaimed Ruel, taking off his woodsman’s cap. Then he
dropped into his old-fashioned, easy drawl once more, and commenced
active preparations for the homeward trip.

“I--think I--can--walk--” whispered Pet faintly, wriggling a little in
her cocoon.

“Wall, I’ve no doubt you c’d fly, ef we’d let ye,” remarked the guide,
busying himself in wringing out her wet clothes and rolling them into
a bundle; “but I guess we’ll hev the fun of carryin’ of ye, this time.
Tom’ll be back soon--”

“Here he comes, now!” interrupted Bess, as the boy hurried forward with
his arms full of shawls.

“Is she--is she--?” he stammered, halting a few paces distant.

“She’s all right, my boy,” said Ruel kindly. “She’s ben a laughin’, and
is all high fer walkin’ home, ef we’d let her.”

The boy’s face twitched with emotion, and in spite of himself he could
not prevent two or three tears from rolling over his cheeks.

“Here’s some cordial,” he managed to say, “that aunt Puss said
would--would be good for her. And uncle Will himself was at home, and
will meet us at the cross-road with his team.”

Before leaving the tent, Ruel, at Tom’s request, tried to make Moll
accept a small sum for her services. But she would not take a cent.

“These Injuns are queer people,” said Ruel, leading the way with Pet
in his arms, toward the road. “Sometimes they do act like angels from
heaven, an’ sometimes--they don’t! You never know whar to hev ’em.”

“Where does this family come from?” asked Tom, trudging beside Ruel and
holding twigs aside from Pet’s face.

“From up North somewhars. They won’t tell who they are, and I shall be
glad, fer one, when they leave.”

“I shall be thankful to them as long as I live, for what that woman did
for Pet,” said Kittie warmly.

“Wall, that’s so; she was a master hand, an’ no mistake. Give me an
Injun fer any kind of a hurt you kin git in the woods.”

Right glad were they all to find uncle Will and his noble grays,
waiting for them at the road. Just what the kind old man had suffered,
sitting there helplessly for the last five minutes, no one will ever
know--except perhaps his gentle wife Eunice--“aunt Puss”--with whom he
talked the whole matter over, after the children had gone to bed that

In a moment he had Pet in his trembling arms, and with Ruel at the
reins they were all soon comfortably disposed in the big wagon, and
rattling homeward.

How they drove up to the door of the farm-house, with Pet waving her
slender white hand feebly, between Bess and Kittie; how aunt Puss,
strong woman as she was, broke down utterly at sight of her, and
afterward hugged her, and cried over her, and “cosseted” her, the
rest of that memorable day, need not be described. Enough to say that
Pet steadily regained her strength, and by night was able to sit with
the rest under the broad elms before the house and listen to uncle
Percival’s stories.

It was not until bedtime that as the girls were going slowly up-stairs,
arm in arm, she stopped suddenly, and exclaimed “My watch!”

“Your watch?” echoed the others. “Why, what’s the matter with it?”

“It’s lost!”


“I wore it to the pond this morning. It was that lovely little watch
that mamma gave me last Christmas, gold and blue enamel, with my name
in it. There was a chain, too, and a tiny key. Oh, dear, what shall I
do! Where can it be? It couldn’t have fallen out, for ’twas hooked into
my button-hole, just as tight!”

“I can tell you what’s become of your watch, Pet,” exclaimed Randolph,
from the hall below.


“The Indians!”



“I’m afraid,” said Mr. Percival at breakfast next morning, “that your
watch will not be recovered, Pet. I sent Ruel over to the pond two
hours ago, and he reports that the Indians are gone, bag and baggage.
They generally stay only a few weeks at a time in any one spot.”

“I thought I saw a queer look in old Moll’s face when we left,” put in
Ruel, joining the conversation with a down-East “hired-man’s” freedom.
“You know she wouldn’t take any money, which, with an Injun, is ’nuff
to make you suspect somethin’s up.”

Tom was sleeping late, and had not come down to breakfast. At The
Pines, one of the comforts was that you could sleep just as long as you
wanted to in the morning.

“They’re growing young things,” aunt Puss would say, “and they have to
get up early all winter to get ready for school. It’s a pity if they
can’t lie abed here, so long’s they’re resting, till afternoon, if they

The real fact was that ordinarily the days were so filled with good
times that nobody wished to lose an hour in the morning, and so all
hands were up bright and early.

“How much do you think the watch was worth, Pet?” asked her aunt.
“Bessie, let me give you another mug of milk.”

Pet sat next to aunt Puss, looking very pale and quiet this morning. It
was observed that she started nervously every time she was addressed;
but this remnant of yesterday’s fright wore off during the day.

“I don’t know exactly,” she answered, “but I think mamma paid six
hundred francs for it in Geneva last year.”

“That’s about one hundred and twenty dollars,” said Mr. Percival. “It
would be worth at least a hundred and fifty in America, when it was

“Can’t it have dropped out of her pocket?” suggested Kittie.

“Ruel searched every foot of ground where you went.”

“Why can’t the thieves be pursued?” exclaimed Randolph, starting to his
feet. “I’ll join a party, for one, to overtake them and recover the

“Sit down and finish your coffee, my boy,” said his uncle, smiling.
“The sheriff and two assistants started on their track half an hour
ago. But I fear it won’t be of much use, as they are too cunning to be
easily caught. Of course they will deny all knowledge of the watch,
probably having hidden it when they heard the officers coming.”

“Will they be arrested?”


The girls began to look frightened.

“And where will they be brought, sir?”

“Here. I am a Trial Justice in this county,” said Mr. Percival, rising.

Just then Tom entered the room, looking as if he had not slept very
soundly, after all.

“Uncle,” he said in a low voice, glancing at the rest as they left
their places at the table with a clatter of chairs on the kitchen
floor, “uncle, can I see you alone for a moment?”

Mr. Percival patted him on the shoulder. “Better eat your breakfast, my
boy, the first thing you do. I have some matters to look after in the
barn and you can find me there, if you want to. You must forget about
the accident yesterday,” he added kindly, seeing the boy’s pale face.
“Pet’s all right now, and we sha’n’t let her fall in again, you may be

“I know, sir, but--”

Here aunt Puss bustled up with a plate of hot flapjacks, and uncle Will
stepped aside with a laugh.

“Eat ’em while they’re hot, Tom,” said Ruel gravely, pausing a minute
at the door, “or Mis’ Percival will have her feelin’s awfully hurt.”

So Tom was fain to put off his interview with his uncle, till some
better season. Ah, Tom, if you had but spoken a moment earlier, or
insisted one whit more strongly! But Mr. Percival went off where his
duties called him, and Tom found no chance to see him alone that day,
nor the next. Whatever the subject was, it did not seem to disturb him
so much after a good breakfast; and he promised himself he would attend
to it a little later.

The forenoon was spent quietly in the barn, in the capacious bays of
which the mounds of fragrant hay had just been stored, still warm
with the midsummer sunshine, and furnishing an occasional sleepy
grasshopper, by no means startled out of his dignity by his sudden
change of residence. The west wind blew softly in at the open doors,
through which one could look, as one lay on the mow, into the sunny
world outside, and catch a few bars of an oriole’s call, or of robin’s
cheery note. The cattle were all out to pasture. Over the floor
walked the hens, in serene meditation, placidly clucking, or uttering
a remonstrative and warning “Wha-a-a-t!” as a swallow careened too
near them in the bars of dusty sunlight. The only other noise was the
occasional bird-twitter from one of the dozen or more nests upon the
rafters overhead, and the tapping of bills on the floor as the sober
fowls now and then gleaned a stray insect or bit of seed-food.

“I don’t see,” said Tom lazily, gazing up toward the ridge-pole, where
a swallow was busily engaged in feeding her clamorous family, “I don’t
see what people ever want to live in the city for!”

“If people could spend their time on hay-mows, half asleep,
or--Ow!--tickling their sisters’ ears with straws!--”

“Well, that’s all girls do, anyway. A feller might just’s well stretch
out here as curl up on a sofa and _crochet_ all day!” Tom delivered
this remark with emphasis, expressive of his manly disgust at all
fancy-work in general, and “crochet” under which head he classed every
home industry connected with worsted--in particular.

“I should like to see a ‘feller’ do Kensington,” remarked Bess calmly.
“Seems to me I remember one who wanted to knit on a spool, one time
when he was sick, and--”

“O let up, Bess; that don’t count?”

“--And after he had knit two inches and dropped thirteen stitches, gave
it up because ‘it made his head tired!’” concluded Bess mercilessly.

When the laugh had subsided, and Bess had emerged from the armful of
dried clover and red-top under which Tom had extinguished her, Kittie
spoke up, more soberly.

“I guess I know what Tom means, and he isn’t so far out of the way
either. We do waste lots of time now, really, don’t we, girls?”

“So do boys,” said Bess, stoutly.

“I know; but boys have something hard and useful to do, ’most every
day,” persisted Kittie, whom the five Justices of the Supreme Bench
couldn’t have diverted from her point. “Boys go to school until they’re
ready to work or enter college. Then they never stop working, till they

“Yes,” said Tom solemnly, “that’s what uses me up so; it’s just hard

“You look like it!” exclaimed Randolph, burying Tom in his turn. “I’ll
tell you what it is, girls,” he added, as he gave Tom a final shot,
“there’s a good deal in what Kittie says. But work is good for us,
anyway; and besides, when we do get in a little play, betweenwhiles, we
have a glorious time, I can tell you!”

“But I know lots of boys, and young men too,” put in Pet eagerly, “who
just go to parties and don’t work hard at all.”

“O, I don’t count those things _boys_,” said Kittie. “They’re just
dolls; and if there’s anything I always despised, it’s boy-dolls.”

“What do you think girls could do, Kittie?” asked Bess, “when they
don’t have lessons to get, I mean.”

“I think they could make useful things to give poor people,” answered
Kittie, her gray eyes sparkling with earnestness. “If we put the
same amount of time into making up nice, plain clothes for poor
people--special poor people, I mean, that we could find out about,
ourselves--that we do into ‘crochet,’ as Tom says--what a lot of things
we could make and give away in one winter!”

“I never could bear to sew,” sighed Pet, surveying her pretty, plump
fingers. “It seems just old ladies’ work, pulling over rag-bags and
‘piecing’ together. It’s dreadful, trying to save.”

“It depends on what you do with the rags,” said Randolph. “My
grandmother had one of those bags that she was always using out of, and
yet ’twas always full of rags, just crammed, so you couldn’t pull the
puckers of the bag together at the top.”

“What ever did she make with them?”

“Mats and carpets, mostly. That is, she didn’t make ’em herself, but
used to hire poor people to make ’em, after she’d showed them how.
She’d always arrange it so’s to help two at once. ‘It’s better,’ she
used to say, ‘to feed two birds with one crumb, than kill them with a

“Why, how did she do it?” queried practical Bess, much interested.

“She’d find out through the city missionaries generally, some woman
that was awfully poor, and she’d send for her and say, ‘I know a family
down in such a street that are very poor; they earn just enough to live
on--not enough to _walk_ on, for they haven’t any carpets on their bare
floors, this cold weather.’”


“Well, then she’d show the poor woman, the first one, how to ‘pull’ a
rag mat, and would hire her to make one, giving her enough rags from
that bag. When ’twas done, she’d praise it up and say how pretty ’twas,
’specially this row, or that flower, and so on; and then pay her for
the work.”

“And did your grandmother give the first poor woman’s carpet to the
second poor woman?” asked Pet, knitting her brows over the algebraic
difficulty of the problem.

“Not herself. She sent it by the first poor woman so’s to let her have
the pleasure of giving.”

“How lovely!” exclaimed Pet. “I’m going to have a rag-bag of my very
own this winter--with nothing but plush in it!”

“No,” said Bess, “that won’t do; plush catches dust.”

“Who’s up in my hay-mow!” The voice was deep and strong, but entirely
pleasant, and so nearly underneath them that the girls jumped.

“O uncle Will,” they all cried at once, “do come up here--it’s just
perfect--and tell us a story!”

“If it’s ‘just perfect’ already, I don’t think I’d better come!”
Nevertheless the good-natured old man mounted the steep ladder, and was
at once allotted the breeziest and softest seat.

“Well, well,” he said, baring his head to the gentle west wind, “this
is comfortable. How many times I’ve lain on the hay here, when I was a
boy, and dreamed what I would do--sometime!”

“You never dreamed yourself such a dear uncle as you are,” said Bess
softly, stroking his hair.

“Now you are trying to spoil me! What story shall I tell, I wonder?
It must be short, because I may be called away at any moment. Let me
see--how would one of my younger day scrapes do?”

[Illustration: PET.]

“Splendid! splendid!”

“Well, this wasn’t much of an adventure for youngsters like you who
travel about over the country, a hundred miles a day. But to us,
Fred and me, it seemed a good deal at the time. Fred always loved
mountain-climbing. He went to Europe while still a young man, and only
last week he sent me a paper containing an account of his ascent of one
of the loftiest among the Bernese Alps.”

“Is he the stout gentleman that we saw here last summer, uncle, and who
told us so much about Switzerland?”

“The same one, Kittie. ‘Frederic Cruden, Esq., F. R. S.,’ he is now.
But in those days he was just a slim, fun-loving boy, and the only
‘Fellow’ he was, was a very good fellow indeed. Well, while we were
both in our teens, our two families made up a party and visited the
White Mountains.”

“There was no railroad through the Notch then?”

“I should say not! If one wished to see the grandest localities of the
White Mountains, he must either foot it or ride over the rough roads
in the big, jolting stage-coach which often carried more outside than
in, and occasionally tipped its passengers out upon the moss-banks
beside the road. Bears, too, were more abundant than now, and that’s
saying considerable; for in many of the little New Hampshire towns of
Coos County, farmers are to-day prevented from keeping sheep by the
inroads of Bruin, who loves a dainty shoulder of mutton for supper
only too well. I saw by the papers recently that the selectmen of one
township during last year paid bounties on eleven bears and two wolves!”

Here Tom uttered a series of ferocious growls, but was covered with hay
and sat upon by his cousin until he promised to behave himself.

“We were stopping at the fine, new Profile House,” continued Mr.
Percival, “Fred and I, with our fathers and mothers, as I said.
Being of nearly the same age, we were always planning some sort of
excursion together. One day we had begged to be allowed to ascend Mount
Lafayette, a peak about twenty miles southwest of Mount Washington,
and only second to the latter in point of interest. A guide-book which
we had procured told of a fine house on the summit, and we would just
stop there long enough to cool off after our walk, before coming down
by the ‘well-worn bridle-path.’ We were sturdy little fellows, and
though we had never yet accomplished such a feat as the ascent of a
five thousand-foot mountain, felt quite equal to the task.”

“How old did you say you were, uncle?” asked Randolph.

“About fourteen, but large of our age. We started off at about two
o’clock in the afternoon, with many injunctions to be back by tea-time,
and on no account to linger by the way.

“It was in the highest of spirits that we strode away on the level
road, up the valley, toward the peak that lay so softly brown against
the blue sky just beyond. Before long we struck into the bridle-path,
which was exceedingly muddy near the base, and became constantly more
steep and slippery as we ascended. Boy-like, we were quite heedless
of the lapse of time, and often stopped to gather birch bark, climb
after squirrels’ nests, or take a bite of the sandwiches we had stuffed
into our pockets at the last moment. The forest, I remember, was
singularly silent, no breeze among the stiff tops of the hemlocks, no
merry singing of birds; only now and then the muffled gurgle of a
brook among the mossy stones beside the path, or the single, plaintive
whistle of a thrush, far away on the mountain-side.

“When we had stopped for breath, about half-way up, a descending
horseback-party passed us. We asked them about the house on the summit,
but they only laughed, and said it had good walls and a high roof.
This disturbed us a little, but we soon forgot our apprehensions,
and pressed forward. Half a mile beyond this point, we came to that
strange, nameless pool of water, seeming half cloud, half dream,
hanging like a dew-drop on the slope of the mountain. As we stamped our
feet on the moss which composed its banks, the whole surface of the
ground, for rods away, trembled as if with an earthquake, and made us
feel as if we were walking in a nightmare. It occurred to us that it
would add to the glory of our exploit if we could catch some dream-fish
out of this strange, unreal pond among the clouds; so we spent an hour
or more in useless angling in its clear depths.

“Then Fred looked up at the sky, and uttered an exclamation. I followed
his glance--and dropped my pole. The sun was almost resting on the
edge of the mountains in the west, and it was plain that it would be
dark in less than an hour.”

“And all those bears!” murmured Pet, gazing at the narrator with round
eyes. “O, I should think you _would_ have been scared!”

Mr. Percival smiled. “If I had been as old as I am now, I should have
said ‘Fred, we’re caught this time by our own thoughtlessness. We can
go down in half or quarter of the time it took us to climb up; and
once on the main road in the valley, we shall be all right.’ But a boy
of fourteen doesn’t reason in that way. We were tired and hungry. We
thought of the welcome we should receive from the people on the summit,
and of the good things they would doubtless have for supper.”

“‘Besides,’ said Fred, ‘we must be nearly up now. The trees don’t last
much longer--they aren’t higher than our heads here. It’ll be all rocks
pretty soon, and then we shall be right at the top, just like Mt.

“So we started up again, with, we afterward confessed to each other,
uncomfortable misgivings in our breasts. It was really my fault,
though, for I was the older of the two, and ought to have known better.

“Well, in ten minutes the sun was out of sight behind the hills, and
I tell you, boys, the shadows felt cold. It was like walking into a
running brook in the middle of a hot day, and we shivered and buttoned
our jackets tight around our throats as we clambered along over the
rocks, panting in the thin air, and stopping for breath every few rods.

“It was tough work, especially as the wind began to rise and dodge at
us from behind great bowlders, cutting like knives with its chilling
breath. Darker and darker it grew, so that we could hardly distinguish
the path, that was now a mere series of scratches over the rocks. In
vain we strained our eyes for a friendly twinkle of light from the
windows ahead. All was still, silent, dark. I confess, Pet, I thought
of the bears, and halted half a dozen times, with beating heart, at
sight of some dark rock that crouched behind the path. We were just
thinking, Fred and I, of curling up for shelter under some overhanging
ledge, and so spending the night, when a queer object caught our eyes.
It was like a tree, stripped of every branch, and standing grimly
alone there in the rocky desert, like a solitary Arab. A few steps
more showed us what it was, and, at the same time, the tremendous
mistake we had made, from the very outset of our plan, flashed upon
us. It was clear that we were at last standing upon the very tip-top
of Mount Lafayette, lifted in the air nearly a mile straight up, above
the level of our home by the sea-shore. But alas, where was the inn,
with its longed-for fires, its well-spread table, its comfortable beds
and friendly hosts? The little weather-beaten flag-pole (for such was
our naked tree), stood stiffly erect beside a blackened and crumbling
stone wall, which enclosed a small space partially floored with charred
boards, partially choked with rubbish that had fallen in long ago.

“‘Seems to me I remember something about its being burned up once,’
said Fred, faintly. ‘I s’posed of course they built it again!’

“Yes, there were the openings, where windows and door had been set, and
which now looked out into the dreary night like eyeless sockets.

“There was no time to be lost. The air was growing colder every moment,
and the bitter wind was driving up a huge bank of clouds from the east.
Although it was early in September, we afterward learned that ice
formed in many places through the mountains that night. Such cases are
by no means rare, and, indeed, in some of the ravines and gorges of the
White Mountain group, snow and ice may be found the whole year round.

“Entering the roofless walls, and placing our sandwiches in a small
niche which probably had once served for a cupboard, we set vigorously
to work, ripping up the pieces of boards that still remained, and
piling them in one corner where the wall was highest. In five minutes
we had a roaring fire, by the light and warmth of which we constructed
a rude shelter in the form of a ‘lean-to,’ against the rocks, and crept
under it to sup off our scanty provisions, and reflect.”

“Were you frightened, sir?” asked Tom slyly.

“Well, I suppose there was no great danger, Tom, but to boys who had
spent their lives in comfortable homes, surrounded by care, and gentle,
watchful attentions from those they loved most, it was a thrilling
experience. There, alone on the mountain-top, high in air, far above
any trace of vegetation save a few frightened Alpine flowers that
huddle together under the rocks for a few weeks in summer, the darkness
about them like a shroud, the wind rising and moaning over the bare
ledges, and a storm creeping up through the valleys to assault their
fortress at any moment. At last it came. Like a tornado, an icy blast
rushed upon us with a howl and a roar, blowing our fire out in a moment
while the red flames leaped back to the glowing brands only to be
hurled off into the darkness again and again.

“And the rain! In less time than it takes to tell it, we were drenched
to the skin, and pinched and pulled by the fingers of the storm that
were thrust in through a hundred little crannies in our almost useless
shelter. The thunder crashed, the rain rattled on the loose boards, the
fire hissed feebly and turned black in the face, and the night closed
in about us colder and drearier than ever. All we could do was to lie
still, and shiver, and hope for morning.

“A little after midnight the tempest abated, and, tired, healthy boys
as we were, we dropped into a troubled sleep. At the first glimmer of
daylight, however, we stretched ourselves with groans and moans, and
crawled stiffly out into the open air. It was bitter, bitter cold; so
that I remember it was a long while before I could manage my fingers
well enough to light a match.

“What did we do for kindling? Why, I forgot to say that when it first
began to rain, I took out all the birch bark I had gathered on my way
up, and tucked it under my shoulder; so that for the most part the
inner strips were pretty dry, and sputtered cheerily when I touched
them off. I believe nothing ever did me so much good as that fire.
Under its influence, we were so much cheered that we actually walked
out to see the sunrise, which was glorious.

“It didn’t take us long to descend that mountain, I can tell you; and
we reached the Profile House in season to tell the whole story to
the family (who, in truth, had slept little more than we) over the

Just as the story was completed, a rattle of wheels was heard in
the driveway leading to the house. Presently a wagon drove up,
containing--besides a short, thick-set man whom Randolph recognized
as the sheriff, and the two young fellows who served as deputies--an
Indian half covered in a blanket, a squaw, and two dignified brown
pappooses. It was easy to recognize them as the Loon Pond campers.



It was decided to give the Indians their dinner before examining them.
Mr. Percival knew they would be more likely to tell the truth if
well-treated; and all he wanted was to obtain the watch, not to punish
the thieves. Accordingly they were conducted to the kitchen, and there,
under charge of the sheriffs, they were provided with a bountiful meal
by aunt Puss.

The captors meanwhile explained that they had found their prisoners
encamped about ten miles down the road. They had been very angry at
first, but the sheriff, who was really a good-natured farmer living
about three miles from Mr. Percival’s place, had managed to pacify
Sebattis, the father of the family, and he kept Moll in good order.
They all, added Mr. Blake, the sheriff, had denied any knowledge of the
watch, from first to last.

After dinner, to which the Indians did ample justice, the whole party
were conducted to the sitting-room. Mr. Percival took his seat beside a
table, at one end of the room, and asked Sebattis to hold up his right
hand. He then administered the oath to the prisoner with a dignity and
solemnity which impressed the young people, and which were specially
admired by Randolph, who had several times seen the ceremony flippantly
performed in the city courts.

The magistrate now proceeded with the examination.

“What is your name, sir?” he asked gravely but pleasantly.

The Indian, gratified by the title given him, answered with promptness:
“Sebattis Megone.”

“That is your wife with you?”

“Yis. She Moll Megone.”

“Where have you been camping for the last month?”

Sebattis hesitated a moment, then glanced at his wife and replied,
“Tent down by Loon Pond. No good. Bad place. Me leave him.”

“What was the matter with the place?”

“No fish. Water bad drink.”

“Then why didn’t you go away before?”

Again the Indian paused, scowled slightly, and threw his blanket across
his shoulder with a gesture not without dignity.

“Me go when like; stay when like.”

Here Moll gave a sharp look at her husband, which Randolph was just in
time to catch. Seeing that her glance was noticed, she made the best of
it and spoke up boldly.

“We go sell baskit,” she said. “Plenty folk in big town to buy ’em--”

“Wait a moment,” interrupted Mr. Percival. “You shall tell your story
in a moment. Eunice, you give this woman a comfortable place in the
kitchen with her babies, will you?”

Both Indians seemed inclined to resent this move, but the magistrate
was evidently not a man to be trifled with, and Moll sullenly withdrew,
bearing a pappoose on each arm.

“Now,” continued Mr. Percival once more, “did you, Sebattis, see any of
these young people yesterday?”

“No. Me hunt on furder side Loon Pond.”

“Did your wife tell you about it when you came back to the tent at

“When me come wigwam, Moll say girl-with-gold-hair fall in pond, come
near drown. Ver’ hard make alive ag’in. That all.”

“Didn’t she show you something she had found?”

“Yis.” And the Indian gravely held up his hand, making a circle with
his thumb and forefinger.

“What was it?”

The children leaned forward expectantly, Pet’s eyes sparkling.

The Indian never showed by the movement of a muscle nor a glance of the
eye the irony with which he had purposely led his questioners to this

“Half dollar,” he replied, in his slow, guttural tones. “Moll find it
where white hunter, _that_ man,” indicating Ruel, who was standing
near, “drop it in bushes when he go pray.”

All turned and looked at Ruel, who flushed to his hair, but stood his

“How do you know he prayed?” asked Mr. Percival gently.

“Wife find where he two knees go down on moss. Half dollar drop out.
Wife say no keep. I say yis, keep him for work an’ wet blankit.”

Mr. Percival smiled in spite of himself at the man’s confession;
nevertheless he looked troubled.

“Do you mean to tell me, Sebattis,” he said sternly, after a moment,
“that you have never seen this girl’s watch? If half a dollar fell out
of a pocket, so could a watch. Come, my man, own up and give it back,
and I’ll let you go this time.”

The Indian’s brow darkened, and he drew himself up to his full height.

“Sebattis no see watch. Know nothing ’bout him.”

He delivered himself of this remark with more emphasis than he had yet
used; then sat down, pulling his blanket around him; and not another
word would he speak, save a few guttural sentences in his own language
to his wife, who was now called in once more. The scowl remained on
his forehead, and Kittie whispered to Bess that she saw him eying the
windows and their fastenings.

Moll was now sharply questioned, but with no better result. She had
seen the gold watch-chain, she admitted, when the girls first reached
the tent. It was dangling from _her_ pocket--pointing to Kittie!

“O,” cried Kittie, “but that’s impossible, for I haven’t any watch nor
chain myself, and I never even touched Pet’s but once, and that was the
day we all got here and she was showing it to aunt.”

Mr. Percival looked grave; the sheriff shut one eye knowingly; the
girls edged off, half-scared, after Kittie had spoken. Moll alone
appeared to retain her perfect self-possession.

“It was in that one’s pocket,” she persisted, using much better English
than her husband. “I was ’fraid pappooses grab it, and break. Maybe she
take it,” she added, with a malicious look at poor Kittie.

“Silence!” said uncle Will sternly. “Answer my questions, and nothing
more. When did you say you saw this chain?”

“When gal first come.”

“Not after they returned from the pond?”

“No. Forget all about it. Too much drown,” said the squaw grimly.
“Didn’t see him no more.” And no other answer nor admission could be

Ruel, Randolph and the girls were now asked a few questions each, to
bring out their story in the hearing of the Indians. The latter denied
nothing, and admitted nothing.

Mr. Percival looked perplexed. To him the guilt of the Indians seemed
plain, especially after the palpable falsehood of the squaw. Nothing
could have been easier, in the excitement of the restoration of the
half-drowned girl, than to draw the watch from her cast-off clothes,
and conceal it. The ground over which the party had passed had been
scrutinized inch by inch, as well as the smooth, hard bottom of the
lake where the accident had occurred; and by eyes that were as sharp
as those of the Indians themselves. When Ruel said quietly after his
morning search, that the watch was not in the woods nor the lake, that
possibility was dropped, as settled beyond doubt. There had not been
much ground to examine, for Pet distinctly remembered, and in this she
was corroborated by Randolph, that she had taken out her watch and
named the time of day, just before they first reached the wigwam.

Still, the magistrate could not commit the prisoners without some
shadow of real proof; and he was obliged to admit to himself that there
was none whatever. He called Mr. Blake aside, and held a consultation
with him in low tones. The attention of the others was for the moment
taken up with the pappooses, who were indulging themselves in various
grunts and gasps and queer noises, accompanied by energetic struggles
as if they were attacked by some internal foe, such as occasionally
invades babyland. Moll sat holding them, sullen and silent.

“It must be a pin--” began aunt Puss, with a sympathetic movement
toward the baby whose uncouth wails were the wildest; but she did
not finish her sentence. A crashing of glass close at hand startled
everybody in the room; and one glance at the shattered window-sash told
the whole story. Sebattis, watching his opportunity, and seeing both
doors of the room blocked by his persecutors, had sprung through the
lower half of the window, carrying glass and all before him, and in an
instant was out of sight in the forest.

The babies, strange to say, had become perfectly quiet and no one
having seen the quick gleam of triumph in the squaw’s eyes, she was
not suspected of having been the cause of their previous outcries, by
various sly pinches under the blanket.

The officers of the law at once sprang toward the door, but Mr.
Percival checked them. “It’s of no use,” he said. “The only real
misdemeanor that can be proved against the fellow is assault and
battery on my window,” he added, gazing ruefully at the ragged edges
of the glass. “It rather relieves us, Blake, of the necessity of a
decision in the watch matter, for you might scour the woods for a month
without finding an Indian who wanted to keep out of the way.”

“I only hope,” said the sheriff, “that he won’t lay it up against us,
round here. These chaps are ugly enough to burn a barn, if no worse,
for sheer revenge.”

Here Ruel whispered to Mr. Percival, who proceeded to act at once upon
what was evidently the guide’s suggestion.

“Moll,” he said to the squaw, who had watched the faces of the men with
hardly concealed eagerness, “I’m sorry your husband ran away, for I
should have let him go, anyway. Now these men will carry you back to
your tent. If you ever find that watch,” he added meaningly, looking
her full in the eye, “bring it to me and you shall have twenty dollars

Without a word the woman rose, and passing out, seated herself once
more in the wagon, which drove off rapidly down the road in the
direction of her wigwam. The trial was over, and the prisoners
discharged; but the vexed question still remained, Where was the watch?

In the afternoon, while Ruel and Tim repaired the broken window--for
panes of glass, putty and carpenter’s tools were always ready at hand
in the workshop--the boys walked over to the pond and examined the
path and its vicinity carefully for themselves, and even took turns
diving to the bottom of the pond, in a vain search for the missing
article. Wherever it might be, it clearly had been carried off by some
human agency. Pet’s father and mother were at this time stopping in
a large hotel near Boston, and had written for her to come up for a
day or two, as there were friends visiting them from the West whom
they were particularly anxious for her to meet and help entertain. She
could return to Mr. Percival’s, her mother wrote, by the middle of the
following week.

With a sad heart, both at leaving her friends, and because she felt
she was abandoning all hope of her watch, she started off early on
the morning after the trial, with Ruel as driver, for the Pineville
Station where she was to take the cars on a Branch of the Maine Central
Railroad, for Boston.

All the young folks except Tom, who unexpectedly declined to go, on the
plea of a headache, accompanied Pet to the station, telling her about
their “Camp Christmas” of the preceding winter, and waving hats and
handkerchiefs until the train rounded a curve and crept out of sight.

Meanwhile Tom languidly rose from his bed, as soon as he heard the
laughing wagon-load drive away; went down to breakfast with a sulky
face and red eyes, as if he had been up late the night before, or
had been crying--and hardly waiting to reply to his uncle’s cheery
good-morning, walked off with his hands in his pockets, in the
direction of Loon Pond. After an absence of a couple of hours, he
returned, looking tired out, and passed the rest of the forenoon in the
barn, lying on the hay-mow with a book. But if you had peeped over his
shoulder, you would have seen that the pages were upside-down, and that
now and then a tear rolled slowly over the boy’s cheeks, while his lips
twitched nervously. Tom was evidently, on this bright June day, one of
the unhappiest of boys. What could have happened?



“I wonder if they _are_ so different!” Pet Sibley found the summer
hotel very pleasant. She was fond of gayety and pretty dresses and
music; and of these she found a plenty at the “Everglades.” The hotel
was within a half-hour’s ride of Boston, but was situated in the very
heart of a beautiful, shadowy grove of pines, whose breath made the
air sweet all through the long hours of the languid summer day. If the
trees were more civilized and conventional in their appearance than the
wide-branching, free-tossing pines in Uncle Percival’s upland pastures
and hundred-acre wood-lot, Pet was not yet enough waked-up to know the
difference; in fact, found it rather nice to be able to stroll about
the well-kept grounds of the “Everglades,” without fear of tearing her
skirts in the underbrush, or losing her way if she left the path. There
was no underbrush here, and it was pretty much all path.

Within a few minutes’ walk, and bordering the grove on the further
side, a river wound pleasantly and peacefully through a bright strip
of meadow-land. On this river the Sibleys kept a boat, with carpet and
cushioned seats--not much like the rough little affair which had tipped
Pet over into Loon Pond.

Life at the Everglades flowed softly and calmly, like the river; and on
the surface floated, like its radiant lilies, the fair ladies, young
and old, who fanned and smiled and danced away the summer, without a
thought of the suffering thousands in the hot city, fifteen miles away.

Without a thought? Yes, there were some who thought, and who brought
poor and ailing children out to a Country Home near by; but these were

Pet Sibley, I am glad to say, was one of those who remembered the
narrow streets of the North End, and the swarms of ragged men, women
and children who panted, dog-like, on curbstone and doorstep, along the
foul streets as the sun went down each night.

The people from the West, Pet learned, were relatives, and though
their views of life hardly agreed with her own--if, indeed, she had any
views--she found the new-comers very pleasant. On the third day after
her return, her cousin Mark, whose home was in Chicago, and with whom
already, in the free intimacy of hotel life, she felt well acquainted,
had taken her out on the river.

A half-hour had slipped by, during which her cousin had instructed her
how to sit safely in a boat, and even how to row a little. Just as they
turned a bend in the stream and floated into a cove where birches and
wild grape-vines afforded a grateful bit of shade, the girl stopped
rowing, and looking up at Mark, who sat indolently in the stern of the
boat, made the remark with which this chapter began:

“I wonder if they are so--_different_!”

Pet’s pretty young forehead had a puzzled little wrinkle as she leaned
forward, with the oar-blades rippling through the water, and the muslin
sleeves falling back from her brown wrists.

“_Are_ they so different, cousin Mark?”

Her companion gave an impatient twitch to his straw hat.


“Why, of course! They are not like you, Pet. They are ignorant and
poor and--and not clean, you know. They were born to it and they like

“But it doesn’t seem right. I heard a lady on the piazza this morning
say something about ‘those creatures’ in such a way that I thought she
was speaking of rats or snakes. It turned out she meant the convicts
who attacked their keepers at the prison last July.”

Pet spoke warmly, as she was apt to do when she once took up a subject.
If she was yet a gay young creature, very fond of “good times,” and
ready for any sort of fun, she yet was one of those girls with whom
shallow young men at summer hotels are rather shy of entering into
conversation. She was only fifteen, and one by one the terribly real
problems of the day were marshalling themselves before her. She would
not pass them by with a gay laugh, after the prevailing mode of her
merry companions. She felt somehow that it belonged to her to help the
world and make it better, as well as to the missionaries and other good
people upon whose shoulders we so willingly pack responsibilities.

For this childish enthusiasm she was smiled on indulgently by her
friends. Kitty and Bess knew the best there was in her, and loved her
for it.

Pet gave two or three quick strokes, and paused.

“Isn’t there any way to help these poor people, Mark? It must be the
way these people live and are brought up that makes them so rough and
bad. Isn’t there any way to help them?”

“None that amounts to much. Besides, that isn’t our business. There are
men enough who do nothing else--are paid for it--missionaries and the
like. And you can’t make everybody rich, you know. The Bible itself
says, ‘Ye have the poor always with you.’”

“Perhaps that doesn’t mean that we ought to have them,” replied Pet,

“Well, they’re here, and we may as well make the best of it.”

“But what is the best? That’s just it.”

“What is the use of your thinking about it? You can’t do anything,
and you don’t even know the kind of people we’re talking of; the
North-Enders, for instance. You have never seen and touched them; and
if you should meet them face to face, I don’t believe you would care
for any further acquaintance. They’re simply disgusting.”

Pet said no more on the subject, and just as the sun dropped into the
arms of the waiting pines on the hill they reached the little wharf on
the river-bank, moored the boat, and walked up to the hotel. She went
straight to her mother’s room, and, after her fashion, as straight to
the point.

“Mother, I want to go into the city right away, and spend the night
with aunt Augusta.”

“But, my child, it’s tea-time already, and there’s a hop this evening.
You had better wait till morning.”

“Mother, I so much want to go now. The train leaves in fifteen minutes.
I don’t care for the hop, anyway; it’s too warm to dance. Please,

Of course impulsive little Pet had her way, and was soon whirling along
toward the city, with a strong resolve in her mind.

“I’ll walk up to auntie’s from the depot, and to-morrow I’ll go down to
North Street with uncle.”

The train stopped at all the small stations, and was delayed by various
causes, so that it was quite dark when she started on her walk. She
was glad, after all, to find the streets well-lighted, and filled with
respectable-looking people.

On reaching Washington Street, however, everything appeared weird
and unnatural. The sidewalks along which one could hardly pass in
the daytime, for the crowd, were nearly deserted. All the spots that
were bright by sunlight, were now dark, and all the ordinarily dark
places light. It was exactly like the negative of a photograph, and
gave Pet a sense of looking on the wrong side of everything. Once she
saw something move behind the broad plate-glass windows of a railroad
agency, on a corner that in the daytime was a business centre. She
approached, and was startled to find the object a huge rat, trotting
silently about, over the polished engravings and placards, behind the
glass, a very spirit of solitude and evil. It was all like a nightmare,
and she began most heartily to wish herself back at the Everglades,
dancing the Lancers with cousin Mark.

Coincidences happen; not in stories simply, but in real life. The
vessel is wrecked in sight of port; the day the owner dies; the man we
meet on the steamboat at the headwaters of the Saguenay River, has,
unknown to us until then, ate, drank, and slept in the next house all
winter, within ten feet of us; the dear friend we have known so long,
is at last discovered to be intimate with that other dear friend we
love so well, and finally it comes out that all three of us were born
in the same little town in New Hampshire.

Now the coincidence that happened on this particular evening was as

While Pet was making her way along Washington Street in the dark,
another girl about thirteen years of age, named Bridget Flanagan, was
standing on the third gallery of the Crystal Palace, in the same good
city of Boston, looking down into Lincoln Street. Like Pet, she was
wondering whether anything could be done to aid the poor. Not that
any such words passed through her mind. Dear me, no! I doubt if she
would have even known what “aid” meant, that word being in her mind
associated solely with lemons of a shrivelled and speckled character.
If she had spoken her thoughts, which she sometimes had a queer way of
doing, she might have said something like this: “Don’t I wish I could
git out o’ this! An’ the rich folks wid all the money they wants, an’
nothin’ to do but buy fans an’ use ’em up. My! ain’t it hot?”

It _was_ hot. There was a man playing on a bag-pipe in the street
below, and not only had a crowd of children and idlers surrounded him
as he stood before a brilliantly lighted (and licensed) liquor store,
but the long rickety galleries which run in front of each floor in the
“Palace” were full of half-dressed, red-faced women and children, who
leaned on the dirty railing and listened to the music, just as the
guests at the “Everglades” at the same time were listening to their
orchestra of a dozen pieces.

In the gallery overhead Bridget heard two women dancing and shouting
noisily. Somewhere in the building a child was crying loudly in a
different key from the bag-pipe. Bridget didn’t notice these things
particularly; she was used to them. Only there came over the young
human girl-heart which was beating beneath the rags and in the midst of
this wretchedness a sick longing for--what? Bridget did not know.

“It’s the hot weather it is,” she said to herself; “it’s usin’ me up
intirely. I’ll jist go an’ have a bit av a walk.”

Accordingly she issued forth, shortly afterward, with a broken-nosed
pitcher in her hand, and made her way to one of the shops across the
street. There were plenty to choose from--the city had looked out for
that. Their licenses were as strong as the Municipal Seal, stamped on
one corner, with its picture of church steeples and clouds, and heavens
above and pure, broad sea beneath, could make them. Nearly every second
house in the street beckoned with flaring lights to its pile of whiskey
barrels and shining counters; the dark intervals along the street,
between these shops, were the ruined homes of those who went in at the
lighted doors.

Opposite, the Crystal Palace, then at its filthiest and worst, reared
its ugly shape like a fat weed, watered day and night by whiskey and

[Within the last twelvemonth this building has been torn down, and
Lincoln Street largely reclaimed from the squalor and wretchedness
which marked it on the evening of which I am speaking; but within a
stone’s throw of the same spot, the same sights may be witnessed any
night in the week. The district is popularly known as the “South Cove.”]

As Bridget pattered along the sidewalk with her bare feet, a
coarse-looking woman in front of her threw something down on the
bricks and laughed hoarsely. The “something” resolved itself into a
kitten, which picked itself up and walked painfully over to a burly,
broad-shouldered man who was sitting on the steps of a basement alley,
so that his arms rested on the sidewalk. The kitten curled up beside
him. The man put out his big, red hand and stroked it once, then went
on with his smoking. The kitten was purring and licking its aching
feet as Bridget, who had paused a moment from some dull feeling of
compassion, went on her way.

Leaving her pitcher at the bar, with the injunction that it should be
filled and ready for her return, she passed out of the store and walked
slowly down Lincoln Street toward the Albany Station. The street was
full of children running to and fro with shouts and screams of laughter
or pain; some of them going in and out of the shops with pitchers and
mugs, some lying stupidly in the gutter. The air was stifling, and
as Bridget reached the corner she saw the groups of belated people
hurrying out to the Newtons and Wellesley, where they might cool
themselves in the pure air, with whatever means of comfort money could

Pet Sibley and Bridget Flanagan both reflected upon this as they
unconsciously drew nearer and nearer together. Pet was tired, and was
beginning to look for a horse-car to take her to her aunt’s house. The
little Irish princess had turned and left her “Palace” until she was
now near the head of Summer Street.

Ten steps further, and they met upon the corner, with the great gilded
eagle’s wings outstretched above their heads. Both paused for a moment.
Pet was dressed as she had been in the boat--all in white, with a
pretty fluffy ostrich feather curving around her broad straw hat, and a
fleecy shawl thrown over her shoulders. Bridget’s shawl was not fleecy,
and her dress was not white. Nor did she wear lawn shoes.

What either would have said I do not know. Perhaps nothing. Perhaps
their lives, just touching at this point, would have glided farther and
farther apart, until there was no room in this earth for them to meet
again. But at that moment something happened.

“Look o’ that!” cried Bridget.

“See!” cried Pet at the same moment; and they both pointed to the
third story of a high granite block across the street. One of the
windows was slightly open, and through this narrow space a delicate
curl of blue smoke floated softly out, laughed noiselessly to itself,
and disappeared. They could hardly have seen it at all, but for the
powerful electric light upon the corner. Another puff of smoke, and
another; then a steady stream, growing blacker and larger every moment.
A faint glow, reflected from somewhere inside, shone upon the window

“What shall we do?” cried Pet; “it’s all on fire, and nobody knows!”
Instinctively she looked at Bridget for an answer. Somehow the
difference between herself and the ragged little Irish girl did not
seem so great just then.

The fire had broken out near the place where the great fire of 1872
started. Each of the girls could remember dimly that awful night of red
skies and glittering steeples. The massive blocks had been rebuilt,
business had rolled through the streets once more, property of value
untold lay piled away in those great warehouses on every side, and only
these two slender, wide-eyed girls knew of that ugly black smoke, with
its gleaming tongues of flame, gliding about over counter and shelf, as
Pet had seen the rat, a few minutes before.

“Sure we must give the alar-r-m,” said Bridget, hurriedly, gathering
the faded shawl about her neck.

“But I don’t know how. Do you?”

“Don’t I? You jist come along wid me--run, now!”

They almost flew down the street, dainty shoes and bare brown feet side
by side.

“Here’s the box,” panted Bridget, pausing suddenly before an iron box
attached to a telegraph pole. “Can yer read where it says the key is?”

Pet read: “Key at Faxon’s Building, corner of Bedford and Summer

To reach the corner, rouse the watchman, snatch the key from his sleepy
hands, rush back again, and whisk open the iron box was the work of two

Perfect silence everywhere.

“Look a-here, now,” said Bridget, breathlessly, standing on tiptoe.
“I’ve seen ’em do it.”

She pulled the handle once, twice. Then they waited, their hearts
beating fiercely. They were off the travelled ways, and no one passed
by them. All this time the smoke was creeping up the stairways of the
lofty building, and the red fire was quietly devouring yard after yard
of wood-work.

Bridget raised her hand to pull the lever for the third and last
time--when they both started.

All over the broad, restless, wakeful city, the heavy bells rang out,
one following another like echoes. Sick people turned wearily in their
beds; babies awoke to bewail their broken naps; men and women stopped
at the corners of streets to count the number, and shook their heads.

“Bad place, down by Summer and Chauncey Streets--let’s go!” said one to


Miss Augusta Vernon consulted her fire-alarm card, which always hung by
the sitting-room mantel-piece; then she went to the front window and
threw open the blinds. There was a faint flush on the sky, like the
coming dawn.

“Dear me!” exclaimed aunt Augusta. “It’s a real fire. And this hot
night, too! I do hope they’ll have it out soon, poor fellows!”

As she took her seat by the window, and watched the light growing
broader and redder every moment, her strong, kind features showed much
more anxiety than one would expect, considering that it was not her
store that was burning, nor her firemen fighting the fire. But aunt
Augusta, in the city, had a curious way like that of aunt Puss up in
the Maine woods, of concerning herself with other people’s troubles
and trying to lighten them, with loving-kindness or with money. As she
had a plentiful supply of both, her sympathy in such cases was apt to
be a substantial affair, really worth counting upon--as many a poor
creature, sick and in prison, could testify.

As soon as the bells rang out, a great awe fell upon the two girls.
What mighty host of giants had they roused from sleep, calling hoarsely
to one another over the housetops?

Pet drew closer to Bridget, and grasped her hand. Even Bridget seemed
dismayed at first, but quickly recovering herself, she half pushed,
half drew Pet up a flight of high stone steps near by.

“Yer’ll git yer dress all kivered wid mud, if yer don’t kape out o’ the
strate,” she said, as she turned away. “I’m a-goin’ ter stay down an’
tell ’em where the fire is. It says so on them little cards.”

“But the crowd! When they come you will get hurt.”

“Hm! I’m used to worse crowds nor ever you saw. There! I hear ’em now!”

As Pet listened there rose a faint, far-off rattle of wheels upon the
pavement, mingled with a jangling sound of gongs and horns.

“It’s the ingine!” cried Bridget, in great excitement. “It’s comin’!”

But other things were coming too. Bridget had taken her stand directly
in front of the alarm-box, and a stream of men and boys who poured
around the corner jostled her roughly and pushed her to and fro.

“Come!--come quick!” called Pet, just able to make herself heard above
the noise of the crowd. But Bridget shook her head, and pointed down
the street.

It was a grand sight--the engine, with its scarlet wheels, and its
polished stack sending out a long trail of brilliant sparks like
shooting stars, the two powerful black horses tearing furiously over
the pavements, yet subject to the slightest word or touch of their
driver, who sat behind them firmly braced against the foot-board, the
reins taut as steel, and the gong sounding beneath without pause.

“Get out of the way here!” shouted a burly policeman, forcing his way
through the crowd.

The men surged back, and nobody noticed the little barefooted figure
who was hurled violently against the building. She uttered a faint
cry, and held up one foot, as a lame spaniel might do. A young man
with delicate clothes and a light cane, who had stopped on his way to
the station to “see the fun,” had set his heavy boot on the little,
shrinking foot. She might have got out of the way more quickly, but she
_must_ keep to the front to tell the firemen.

The engine thundered up to the box and stopped, hissing and smoking
furiously. The black horses quivered and pawed the pavement, shaking
white flecks of foam over their sleek bodies.

“Where’s the fire?” called the driver sharply.

“Blest if I know--” began one of the men addressed, but he was

“Sure it’s on Summer Street, sir, ’most up to Washington, on the other

It was a surprisingly small, shrill voice for such an important piece
of information, but it sounded reliable. The driver knew that every
moment now might mean the loss of thousands of dollars, and, giving
his horses the rein, was galloping off up the street again, almost
before Bridget’s words were out of her mouth. A few moments after, the
panting engine and the distant shouts of the firemen told of the work
they were doing.

Well, the block was saved. A few thousand dollars’ damage on goods
fully insured was all. Next morning the papers, being somewhat hard
pressed for news, gave “full particulars” of the fire.

“It was fortunate,” said the eloquent reporter, in closing his account,
“that the fire was discovered by some passer-by, who promptly pulled in
an alarm from box fifty-two. Five minutes later, and the loss must have
been almost incalculable.”

“Full particulars?” Perhaps not quite full.

When the engine rattled away, with the crowd after it, Pet had come
timidly down the steps. Bridget had been borne away by the crowd, and
was not to be found.

“Where are you?” she called. “I do not know your name--oh-h!” She
stopped with a pitiful little cry.

Bridget was crouched in a miserable heap just around the corner. She
was stroking her bruised foot with trembling hands, and crying softly
to herself. Somehow she felt like the kitten, only she had no one to go
to; and her head was so dizzy!

Then she looked up, and saw the white shawl and the ostrich feather and
Pet’s eyes. And once more Pet forgot the difference.

A policeman found them there a few minutes later. Pet had her arms
around the faded shawl, and Bridget’s tously little head was lying
wearily against her shoulder. The poor trampled foot was bound up in
somebody’s embroidered handkerchief.

Pet did not give the officer time to speak. She was on her own ground

“Will you call a hack or a herdic, please? This girl is sick.”

The tone was quiet, but plainly said it was accustomed to giving
directions, and having them obeyed, too.

The policeman had approached with a rough joke on his tongue’s end, but
it turned into a respectful “Yes’m, certainly.”

Of course they went straight to aunt Augusta, who was still sitting by
the window, and who was so used to emergencies that she took the whole
affair quite as a matter of course.

“I’ve told the Lord I’m not worth it,” she had been heard to say, once,
“but such as I am, I want to help. So I’m always expecting Him to give
me something of the sort, just as my father used to let me hold the
tacks when he was at work on pictures or carpets.”

Bridget was promptly put to bed and her foot dressed by Miss Augusta’s
own deft hands. Before long she was fast asleep, which probably didn’t
make much difference with her state of mind, as the whole scene, with
Pet and the motherly woman hovering about her, was the best kind of a

Meanwhile Pet told the story to her aunt; she had learned from the
Irish girl, on the way to the house, that she had no father or mother
living, but made her home with a dissipated uncle and brother, who
took turns in the prisoner’s dock of the criminal court; where, likely
enough, Bridget would have taken her own turn, before long.

“I know what I’m going to do,” said Miss Augusta, decisively. “I’m
going to send her up to Mrs. Percival. When are you going back, Pet?”

“Day after to-morrow, I think.”

“Well, you can take her along as well as not.”

“But her family--”

“I’ll see Mr. Waldron--he’s the City Missionary--and he’ll fix it all
right. We’ve often arranged matters like this.”

“But do you suppose Mrs. Percival will take her?” asked Pet rather

“I don’t see’s she can help it,” said Miss Augusta, with a short laugh.
“Don’t you fear. I know ‘aunt Puss’ better than you do, though I never
’ve seen her. Kittie and Bess told me all about her, last spring.” So
it came about that when Pet took her seat in the Northern train, a few
days later, a neatly dressed little Irish girl sat beside her, awed
into silence by the furniture of the car and, shortly afterward, by its
rapid motion.

When the conductor came round for the tickets, her hand furtively stole
over and clutched a fold of Pet’s rich dress, for protection from the
man in uniform. And Pet had to reassure her, and point out interesting
bits of landscape as they flew northward toward The Pines, side by



At The Pines, during Pet’s absence, the summer days passed swiftly
and joyously; joyously at least for all but one of the party. Tom was
no longer the bright, merry, mischievous Tom of old. He joined in the
sports and rambles of the others, it is true, but with a sober face and
lagging step quite unnatural for him; and he was often away from the
house, alone. As these strange ways grew more marked, Randolph tried to
get at the source of the boy’s trouble. But Tom shrugged his cousin’s
arm off from his shoulders where it had been affectionately laid, and
told him gruffly to “let a fellow alone--nothing was the matter!”

It was almost time for Pet to return. The young people had arranged to
ride over to the railroad and meet her, with Ruel and the big wagon.
They had received a letter from her, telling a little about her
experience at the fire, and they were extremely anxious to hear the
whole story, and to see little Bridget, the heroine of the occasion.
Mr. Waldron, with his great, kindly heart, had given Miss Augusta all
the aid she asked, and more; so there was no obstacle in the way of
Bridget’s coming, unless it were aunt Puss. And the idea of aunt Puss
being an obstacle--!

On the day before, Kittie and the captain had planned to go into the
woods and gather oak leaves for trimming, to decorate Pet’s room. What
was their dismay, on waking that morning, to hear the rain pouring
steadily on the shingles over their heads.

“Now we can’t get any leaves!” exclaimed Bess sorrowfully, as she stood
at the window, looking out at the blurred landscape and the slanting
lines of rain between her and the wood-lot. “What ever _shall_ we do,
all day?”

“O, I don’t know,” laughed Kittie, giving her sister’s long brown
hair a toss up backward and down over her eyes. “Uncle Percival will
think of something nice, I guess. And I’m glad the storm didn’t come
to-morrow, anyway!”

“Perhaps it will.”

“Perhaps it won’t!” Kittie’s face and voice were full of sunshine.

“That’s right, Kittlin’,” said aunt Puss, coming in at that moment, and
kissing the girls. “That’s right, dear, always look on the bright side;
and if you can’t find it in to-day, borrow it from to-morrow. The Bible
doesn’t anywhere say, ‘sufficient unto the day is the _good_ thereof.’”

“Please, ma’am,” said Kittie, returning the kiss affectionately, “what
did you call me?”

“It’s the old Scotch form of ‘kitten,’” said aunt Puss, smiling. “I
first came across it in George MacDonald’s story of Alec Forbes--which
you both must read before you’re much older.”

The sunshine from Kittie’s face began to rest on Bess, and to shine
back a little.

“That’s what Kit always does, auntie,” she declared; “looks on
the bright side. When anybody’s sick at our house, and there’s no
particular change, she always says to people that inquire, ‘No worse,
thank you!’ instead of ‘No better,’ the way some folks do.”

[Illustration: THE WEST WINDOW.]

At the kitchen table, the subject was started up again, and Randolph
volunteered one of the little rhymes his brother had written. It was as


  A dandelion in a meadow grew
    Among the waving grass and cowslips yellow;
  Dining on sunshine, breakfasting on dew,
    He was a right contented little fellow.

  Each morn his golden head he lifted straight
    To catch the first sweet breath of coming day;
  Each evening closed his sleepy eyes, to wait
    Until the long, dark night should pass away.

  One afternoon, in sad, unquiet mood,
    I passed beside this tiny, bright-faced flower,
  And begged that he would tell me, if he could,
    The secret of his joy through sun and shower.

  He looked at me with open eyes, and said:
    “I know the sun is somewhere shining clear,
  And when I cannot see him overhead,
    I try to be a little sun, right here!”

When the applause had ceased, and the talk had drifted in other
directions, Mr. Percival looked around the circle and with a twinkle in
his eye proposed that after breakfast the young people should make him
a visit in his den.

“And we’ll have a rag fire,” he added soberly.

“A _rag_ fire?”

“Yes. In the summer time I rarely burn anything but rags in the den.”

Now this “Den” was a most mysterious locality, which they had often
heard alluded to, but where little company was admitted. Mr. Percival,
I should add, was, as you may have guessed from aunt Puss’ remarks
about the “kittlin’,” a most earnest reader and lover of George
MacDonald’s books, which perhaps accounts for the curious arrangement I
am about to describe.

“Are we to put on our wraps, Uncle?” asked Kittie, in some doubt
whether the Den was out-of-doors. “O, I _wish_ Pet was here!”

“Pet shall come too, the very first rainy day. No; you’ll need no
wraps, dear. Only follow me softly, and don’t speak aloud!” And his
eyes twinkled again as he led the way out of the kitchen, and toward
the front part of the house.

I have already, in the former volume of this series, partly described
this old “mansion-house” which the Percivals had occupied for
generations. The earliest of the family, Sir Richard Percyvalle,
came over from the north of England in 1690 or thereabouts. Half a
Scotchman, he brought with him alike the love of wild country, and of
the ancient castles and baronial halls so dear to the Englishman. This
“mansion-house,” as it was called throughout the county, situated
in the heart of a pine forest, near rugged hills and dancing brooks,
was the result. And here some branch of the Percival stock had lived
contentedly ever since, respected and loved by their few neighbors;
some, indeed, finding their way to the great cities and universities
and even back across the Atlantic, in pursuit of their education and
professional studies; but at least one manly representative of the
family always inhabiting the old house, which stood as stanchly as
ever against the blasts of the North Wind and the rigors of the New
England winter. It had all sorts of wings, ells and additions built
on, extending the original structure as the occupant’s whims or needs
demanded. The portion in actual use by the family throughout the year
was but a small fraction of the whole house.

The injunction not to speak aloud considerably increased the fun
as well as the awe of the occasion, as Randolph, with his cousins,
followed their uncle in a dumb but not altogether silent row.

Leaving the kitchen, they crossed a narrow passage-way leading into the
sitting-room. Beyond this was a sort of closet or cloak-room, and then
the front entry, a cold, cheerless place with a green fan-light over
the door which was now entirely disused.

“Here the carriages used to drive up in ancient days,” said Mr.
Percival, “the postilions cracking their whips and the clumsy wheels
lumbering heavily over the driveway. Then elegant ladies would alight,
and passing through the open door ascend that staircase, their long
gowns, stiff with silk and brocade, trailing behind them. Hark! Do you
hear them rustling past us and up the stairs?”

The girls listened, partly for the fun of the thing, and partly because
of the impressiveness of their uncle’s manner. The rain beat drearily
upon the door, and long, hanging vines brushed against it on the
outside. Within, it was so dark that they could scarcely distinguish
the staircase.

On they went again, up the very stairs the bygone beauties had
ascended, through two broad chambers whose shutters were closed and
nailed tight. Then down again, over a narrow flight of steps, and along
a crooked passage, so dark that they had to feel their way.

Kittie laughed nervously, as she clutched Bessie’s hand.

“Did you ever see anything like it!” she whispered. “I feel exactly as
if I were in a story.”

“I wish we’d stayed in the kitchen,” said Tom. “What’s the good of
coming into this dark hole? I’m going back.” And in spite of the
remonstrances of the others, he turned and retraced his steps.

The sound of his footfalls, echoing down the passage, made the place
drearier than ever.

“Hush!” said Mr. Percival, out of the darkness. “Listen!”

They paused and strained their ears to catch a sound above that of the
storm, whose dull roar beat indistinctly, like ocean waves, on the
gables overhead.

“I hear something!” exclaimed Randolph under his breath, entering fully
into the spirit of the adventure.

“So do I!” said both girls at once. “It’s a kind of creaking, snapping

“Here,” added Mr. Percival solemnly, throwing open a door they had not
before perceived, “is the entrance to the Den.”

The room into which they now emerged from the narrow entry was
apparently once intended for a dining-hall, though the young people had
never before known of even its existence. It was of oblong shape, and
had at one end a huge fireplace. The windows were heavily shuttered;
the air was damp and musty. In the dim light they could make out
clusters of old-fashioned candelabra, projecting here and there from
the walls like spectral arms.

“Come on!” said Mr. Percival, advancing toward the end of the shadowy
room. To the surprise of all three, he walked straight into the
fireplace, stooping but slightly to avoid the mantel. The rest followed
him, wondering. The snapping noise was now louder than ever. Outside,
the wind moaned drearily.

Mr. Percival now turned sharply to the left and pressed with the flat
of his hand against a projecting brick upon that side of the fireplace.

What was the utter amazement of Randolph and the girls, as they crowded
up to discover what he was about, to see--not a brick wall where had
been one a moment before, but mere black space.

“Come on!” said their uncle again, stepping into the opening.

Randolph went in after him, and the girls next, not without their

“It’s exactly like a dream!”

“Or the Arabian Nights. Pinch me, Bess, to see if I’m asleep!”

As soon as they found themselves in the new passage, they heard the
wall close behind them. Half a dozen steps further, and--

“This is my Den!” said Mr. Percival.

The girls rubbed their eyes, and stared silently. This is what they saw:

A small room, perhaps ten feet square. One window, with a deep
casement, making a window-seat at least two feet wide. A warm-tinted
carpet on the floor, where three Maltese kittens tumbled over each
other in solemn play; walls lined with books from floor to ceiling;
an open fire of twigs and stiff birch bark, blazing cheerily in a wee
fireplace--and in front of it, rocking serenely to and fro with her
knitting, aunt Puss! She looked up with her pleasant smile as the young
people entered.

“He gave you a good surprise this time, dears, didn’t he?”

“I never saw anything like it!” they exclaimed in a breath. “How in
the world did _you_ get here, ma’am?”

Mrs. Percival looked at her husband, who took his seat in the large,
old-fashioned arm-chair which played an important part during the “Pine
Cone stories” in the winter; at the same time motioning to the others
to lie down on a bear-skin rug, before the fire. It must be borne in
mind that in Northern Maine it is cool enough for fires, on stormy
days, throughout the year.

“I suppose,” he began, “it’s of no use making a mystery of it any
longer. The fact is, you are in a chimney at this minute. Look!”

He pointed to the ceiling, which they now noticed was of some dark
wood. In the centre, or nearly so, was an opening, about eighteen
inches square and cased in the same wood, through which they could see
the sky. The opening was covered at the top, far above the level of the
ceiling, by a dull, glazed window, which could be raised or closed from
below by means of strong cords.

“But what--what has become of the fire and the bricks, and all that,

“I’ll tell you,” said uncle Will, stooping to pick up two of the
kittens in one hand. “In old times, when my great-grandfather lived
here, there was always danger of attack of some kind. The woods were
full of Indians, though most of them hereabout were friendly, and there
was a large Indian village on the shores of the pond, where the old
gentleman and his family were held in equal love and respect. However,
roving bands were likely to turn up at any time, with tomahawk and
scalping-knife. Then there were privateering squads of outlaw French
and Canadians, who made raids on the frontier; and as we were always
stanch Whigs, the family was not safe even from the English, the
royalist partisans having suspicions of a spy in this locality.”

“I thought ‘Whigs’ were the government party in England,” put in

“So they are, to-day; but in the old Revolutionary times the Tories
were for the king, and the Whigs for independence. Well, for all these
reasons, it was thought best to have some secret hiding-place and way
of escape, in case of need. Where we are now, stood a huge chimney,
some eight feet square, supported on stone-and-brick arches in the
cellar. Around this chimney, as a precaution against fire, was left
a space of two or three feet between the bricks and the wall of the
house on that side where you see my little window. A sliding door was
constructed in the side of the dining-hall fireplace, by which one
could enter this space, and from that a trap-door opened upon a rough
staircase, into the cellar under the masonry.”

“It doesn’t seem possible that such things can really be, right here in
Maine!” exclaimed Bess. “It’s like stories.”

“If they can really be--as they are--in thousands of ancient dwellings
in Europe and the East, why not in America, where the dangers were
quite as terrible? Besides, dear, you will find out some day that the
real life of people going on everywhere around you is much more strange
than any story-book you ever read.”

“But please, wouldn’t one starve or smother in that place down cellar?”

“From the narrow space under the arches, I am told there led a long,
underground passage-way, which came to the surface within a quarter of
a mile of the house. I always fancied it was in the pasture, but never
could find it. This end was tightly closed up--if indeed the whole
passage-way was not an empty tale--years before I was born.”

“And what has become of the chimney?”

“It was taken out as useless and unsafe, when I was a boy. A few years
ago it occurred to me to wall in and fit up the space as a little
study. The ordinary entrance is from the sitting-room closet, only ten
feet from where you sit now. That is the way your aunt Puss came in.”

The girls gave a relieved laugh as the vague terrors of the winding and
shadowy halls melted.

“It’s as cosey as it can be,” said Kittie, stroking one of her
namesakes, and glancing over the books, the writing desk in one corner,
and the dancing flames.

“But the rags, the rags!” cried Bess. “You said you only burned rags,
Uncle. Now I’ve caught you!”

“Randolph,” remarked Mr. Percival, without directly answering her
question, “will you please hand me that small book on the third shelf
behind you--no, the next--that’s it.”

He ran the leaves over rapidly, and handed the book back, open, to
the boy. “Please read that verse. The writer, who you will see is Mr.
Trowbridge, is supposed to be searching the woods for a bird whose song
he has just heard.”

Randolph turned his back a little to the fire, as he lay on the
bear-skin, and read as follows:

  Long-drawn and clear its closes were--
    As if the hand of Music through
    The sombre robe of silence drew
  A thread of golden gossamer;
    So pure a flute the fairy blew.
  Like beggared princes of the wood,
  In silver rags the birches stood;
  The hemlocks, lordly counselors,
  Were dumb; the sturdy servitors,
  In beechen jackets patched and gray,
  Seemed waiting spell-bound all the day
  That low, entrancing note to hear,--
            “_Pe-wee! pe-wee! peer!_”

The reader looked up, and seeing the interested faces of his listeners,
begged leave to read two more verses, they were so quaintly lovely:

  I quit the search, and sat me down
    Beside the brook, irresolute,
    And watched a little bird in suit
  Of sombre olive, soft and brown,
    Perched in the maple branches, mute;
  With greenish gold its vest was fringed,
  Its tiny cap was ebon tinged,
  With ivory pale its wings were barred,
  And its dark eyes were tender-starred.
  “Dear bird,” I said, “what is thy name?”
  And twice the mournful answer came,
  So faint and far, and yet so near,--
            “_Pe-wee! pe-wee! peer!_”

  For so I found my forest bird,--
    The pewee of the loneliest woods,
    Sole singer in these solitudes,
  Which never robin’s whistle stirred,
    Where never blue-bird’s plume intrudes.
  Quick darting through the dewy morn,
  The redstart trilled his twittering horn
  And vanished in thick boughs; at even
  Like liquid pearls fresh showered from heaven,
  The high notes of the lone wood-thrush
  Fell on the forest’s holy hush;
  But thou all day complainest here,--
            “_Pe-wee! pe-wee! peer!_”

“It _is_ lovely!” said Bess.

“There’s one word in it that I don’t like, though,” remarked aunt Puss,
making her needles gleam in the firelight as they flew faster than ever.

“I know,” cried Kittie, catching her eye, “it’s ‘complainest’!”

Just then Tom came in, evidently from the guidance of Ruel, outside.
His sisters were too much interested in the room and the poem to notice
that his clothes were wet, as if he had been in the rain.

“Better come up by the fire, old fellow,” said Randolph, so quietly
that the others did not hear. Tom started, but did as his cousin
suggested, without a word.

“You are right, dear,” continued aunt Puss, “no bird ever ‘complains’.”

“Oh! but it’s just poetry, you know, Aunt,” said Bess eagerly. “Of
course the birds don’t _really_ complain--”

“Good poetry is always true,” said Mr. Percival. “Your aunt seems to me
quite right, my girl. The lovely things that our Father has made should
not be described as ‘complaining,’ even in fancy. After what is said
in the Book, about sparrows, surely no bird ought to complain even of
falling to the ground. The real secret of it was, I suspect, that the
writer was himself in an unquiet mood, and made the ‘little bird in
suit of sombre olive’ sing out his own discontent--as we are very apt
to do.”

“But the rags--O, I see, I see, it’s just birch bark hanging on the
trunks and boughs of the trees!”

“Let me see,” said uncle Percival, smiling, “whose favorite tree was
the white birch, when we were talking around our pine-cone fire last

“Mine,” said Bess. “But I never thought of the bark as ‘silver rags’;
nor of the trees as princes.”

“Why not have a silver-rag story as well as pine-cone stories?” asked
Randolph. “We can throw on bits of bark to keep the fire up, just as we
did the cones; we only want a little blaze, anyway.”

“I was afraid of it, I was afraid of it!” exclaimed Mr. Percival in
mock dismay. “I think I have an engagement in the lower pasture!”

An immediate assault followed, from which the good-natured old man
rescued himself at last, breathless and rumpled, on promise of a story.
Several broad sheets of birch bark were drawn from a little cupboard
beside the fireplace and given to the girls, who tore them into thin,
silky strips, to be tossed on the fire during the progress of the



“Did you ever hear how a small boy--a very small boy indeed--saved
Holland?” began Mr. Percival, after reflecting a moment.

“O no, sir. Is it a true story?”

“Absolutely true, with the exception, perhaps, of the name.”

“We never heard of him, anyway.”

“If you were a set of Dutch young people, you would have! The boy Hans,
that did this brave deed, was a far finer fellow than Casabianca, who
‘stood on the burning deck,’ and supposed his father wanted him to
burn to death for nothing but sheer obedience. For Hans accomplished
something by his grand courage and endurance; he saved a whole nation!”

“Do tell us about him. Kittie, throw on another piece of bark, and
don’t let that cunning little Maltee tumble into the fire!”

“Well, Holland, you see, is a queer place. Hundreds of years ago people
came upon a great swampy piece of land, running far out into the sea,
and said, ‘Now if we could only keep out the ocean in some way, this
would be a nice place to live in. We could have towns and cities all
along the coast, and we could build ships to sail around the world, and
at last we should become so powerful that any nation would be glad to
call us friends.’

“Accordingly they set their wits to work to devise some plan for
holding back the salt tides, which rose and fell as they pleased all
through the borders of this country. Then they began to build huge
mounds of earth, or ‘dykes,’ along the shore; and they kept on building
until they had a strong earthen wall nearly or quite around their land.
Randolph, do you know any similar place in the Western Continent?”

“In some parts of Nova Scotia, I believe, sir.”

“And along the Mississippi,” added Tom.

“Right, both of you. The result was that the sea could no longer
flood the fields, but threw its great waves and white foam against
the outside of the dykes as if it were always trying to push its way
in. As soon as people were sure their farms would not be washed away
and their cattle drowned, they built towns, which grew and prospered
amazingly. There was so little high land that there were but few
streams powerful enough to turn mill-wheels, so they made wind-mills to
grind their wheat and corn. Finally the country was named ‘Holland,’
and, as the first dyke-builders had expected, great nations were glad
to win their good-will.

“Not many years ago there lived in Holland a small boy, rather strong
for his age and size, whom we will call Hans Van Groot. His home was
near the sea; and after he had attended to all his duties about home,
he liked nothing better than to take a walk with his father along the
top of the dyke, and watch the white cows, as he called the foamy
waves, come rushing up to the shore, shaking their heads and bellowing
at him.

“‘No, no!’ he would cry out, laughing gleefully, ‘you can’t get in, you
can’t get in! The fence is too strong for you!’


“He might well say so; for this was a peculiarly dangerous point on the
coast, and the people knew that if the ocean should break the dyke all
Holland would be in peril, and thousands of lives, as well as no end of
valuable property, would be lost. So they had made the sea-wall doubly
thick and high for several miles in each direction.”

“I’ve seen the waves dash up that way on Star Island, at the Shoals,”
said Bess. “They are awful, after a storm.”

“On one of these quiet evening walks Hans’ father had been talking to
him about little faults.

“‘If you do wrong once, my boy,’ he said, ‘no matter how little a wrong
it is, there will some other bad thing be pretty apt to follow it;
and so all the good in you may be swept away, bit by bit, until it is
almost impossible to stop it.’

“‘But it could be stopped very easily at first, father, you mean?’

“‘Yes, Hans; just as you could stop with one finger a tiny leak in this
dyke, which before morning would be a roaring flood so strong that no
human power could hold it back. And Holland would be lost.’

“Hans pondered over this a great deal, in his quiet way, as he went to
bed that night and drove the cattle back and forth from their pasture
during the next few days. He was thinking of it as he walked along the
sea-shore about a week later. His father was not with him this time,
having gone to a city several miles away to spend the night with a sick

As Mr. Percival reached this point in his story, a gust of wind arose
that made the old house creak and tremble in every joint; floods of
rain dashed against the little window, and the smoke at intervals
puffed from the fireplace out into the room.

“There had been a long storm, and to-night the waves were running
enormously large--larger than Hans had ever seen them. It was flood
tide; and as they rolled up, one by one, like long green hills, they
would topple over and break with a sound like thunder, so near that
the spray flew all over Hans and soaked him through before he had been
there two minutes. He was plodding along, with head bent down against
the wind, when all at once his heart stood still, and he could almost
feel his hair start up in terror at what he saw. If you had seen it,
perhaps you wouldn’t have noticed it; but he knew what it meant. It was
a very, very small stream of water trickling out through the soil and
gravel on the _inside_ of the dyke. Hans knew it was the sea, which had
at last found its way through. ‘Before morning,’ his father had said!
Hans thought one moment of the awful scene that was coming, and the
picture of his own home, surrounded by the terrible waves, rose before

“He threw himself flat upon the dyke, and thrusting the forefinger of
his right hand into the hole, shrieked for help.

“It was about sunset, and the good Dutch country people were all at
home for the night. The nearest house was half a mile away.”

“Why didn’t he put a rock or a stick of wood in?” demanded Kittie

“There was no wood handy, I suppose; and even if there had been, the
water would have soon forced it out of the hole. A pebble would have
been useless for the same reason. No, the boy must hold the ocean with
his one little hand--the wind pushing, the moon pulling against him.

“‘Help! help! The dyke is breaking!’

“Nobody came. The night-fogs began to creep up from the sea, the wind
shifted back to the old stormy quarter and blew hard toward the land.
The tide was still rising, and the ‘white cows’ outside bellowed more
and more terribly. The stars went out, one by one.

“‘Help!’ Hans felt his finger, his hand, his whole arm, beginning to
ache from the strained position, but he did not dare to change. Would
nobody come?

“Blacker and blacker grew the night. The awful booming of the sea
drowned entirely the now feeble cry of the boy. The leak was stopped:
but could he bear it much longer? The pain shot up and down his arm and
shoulder like fire-flashes, until he groaned and cried aloud. He said
his prayers, partly for somebody to come and partly for strength to
hold out till they did.

“The temptation came to him powerfully to take out his aching hand and
run away. Nobody would know of it; and the pain was so keen! But he
said his little Dutch prayers the harder, and--held on.

       *       *       *       *       *

“In the early gray of the morning a party of men came clambering along
the dyke, shouting and swinging lanterns. At last one of them--can
you guess which?--espied what looked like a heap of rags lying on the

“‘It’s his clothes!’ he cried, in a trembling voice. Then, ‘It’s
Hans himself, thank God! thank God!’


“He had ‘held on,’ you see, until he fainted with pain and exhaustion.
Wet through, cold as ice, his whole hand and arm swelled terribly, he
still held on, unconsciously, with his finger in the leak.

“So Hans prevented the destruction of the great dyke. He lost his own
right hand in doing it, to be sure; but in losing that he had saved

“One more! One more!” chorused the children, as their uncle concluded.
“That was so short!”

“Well,” said he, good-naturedly, “throw on a few more ‘silver rags’,
Tom; there’s just time for a very short one before dinner. Do you
remember that little Fred Colebrook who came here for a few minutes,
the day the Indians were tried?”

“The one with the curly hair? Yes, sir. He’s visiting at Mr.
Thompson’s, isn’t he?”

“Yes; his home is in a queer place--at least, what was his home till
last year, when his folks moved to the city.

“It was a little valley, with huge mountains on every side, so steep
and so close together that you would think there was no way to get
through to the world outside. Some of the mountains were covered with
pine and spruce trees, clinging to their sides like the shaggy fur of
a Newfoundland dog; others were bare from top to bottom, with bits of
red stone tumbling over their ugly-looking ledges almost every day.
The valley itself was pretty enough, with its tiny green meadow, and
a brook which laughed and played in the sunshine all day long. It was
rather a lonesome place, to be sure, but Fred did not mind that; for
did he not have his father, and his mother, and the workingman for
company; besides the old red cow, the horses, and five small gray
kittens? These kittens were Fred’s special pets. He was never tired
of feeling their soft fur and cool little feet against his cheek, and
hearing their sleepy _purr-r-purr-r_. Sometimes he would carry one of
them slyly up to the sober cow, feeding quietly in front of the house,
and place the kitten on her back. It was hard to tell which was more
astonished, the kitten or the cow. At any rate, they both would jump,
with such funny looks of surprise, and the kitten would run away as
fast as ever she could, to tell her adventure to the other four.

“One warm afternoon in June, Fred was sitting on the piazza watching
the kittens, as they tumbled about after their own tails, scampered
across the green, or hunted grasshoppers from spot to spot. The breeze
blew softly, and there was no sound in the air but the rush of the
brook, just below the hill.

“The kittens raced about harder than ever. One of them in particular,
whose name was Mischief, was more active than all the rest. She would
jump up into the air, turn somersaults, and finally took several steps
on her hind paws in her eagerness to catch a bright red butterfly, just
over her head. All this amused Fred greatly as he sat there in the warm
sunlight, with his head leaning against the door-post. But Mischief
still kept on, becoming more and more daring. She seemed to have fairly
learned to keep her balance on two feet, with the aid of her bushy
tail, for she ran about, to and fro, with her fore-paws stretched out
after the butterfly, like a child. Once or twice she laughed aloud. It
did not seem so strange, when she was standing up in that fashion, nor
was Fred at all surprised to notice that she seemed much larger than
ever before.

“‘Of course,’ he thought, ‘one is taller standing up than when one
is on one’s hands and knees.’ The other kittens had by this time
disappeared entirely from sight, leaving only Mischief, who now walked
about more slowly, and, having caught the butterfly, came sauntering up
to where Fred was sitting.

“‘Mischief,’ he began severely, ‘you’ve no right to treat that poor
butterfly’--Here he stopped, rather puzzled; what she held in her hand
was certainly no butterfly; it was a fan, covered with soft black and
scarlet feathers, and richly ornamented with gems.

“‘Well,’ said the kitten, carelessly, ‘go on. You were saying it was
nothing but-a-fly, I think;’ and she stooped slightly to arrange the
folds of her dress. This was of delicate gray velvet, fitting closely
to her pretty figure and trailing on the grass behind her. Indeed, Fred
now saw that she was not a kitten at all, but a dainty little lady,
about as high as his shoulder. She watched him with an amused smile,
and continued to fan herself. ‘I had such a run for this fan,’ she went
on, as if to put the boy at his ease; ‘the wind blew it quite out of my
hand, and--dear me, there it goes again!’

“As she was speaking, the fan made a queer sort of flutter in her
hands, and floated off into the sunshine. She sprang lightly into the
air, whirled around after it until Fred’s head was giddy, then walked
back quietly and stood before him again, fanning herself slowly, as if
nothing had happened.

“Fred felt that to be polite he ought to say something.

“‘I don’t understand, Miss ---- Miss ----’ he paused doubtfully.

“‘That’s right; Mischief,’ she said promptly. ‘You needn’t trouble
yourself to name me over again.’

“‘But you’re not Mischief,’ persisted Fred. ‘At least not the one I
know. She’s a kitten.’

“‘Well, what am I, pray?’ Fred rubbed his eyes; there she stood,
looking almost exactly as she had a minute before; yet that was
certainly a fuzzy gray tail resting on the grass, and these were
certainly his kitten’s paws and round eyes. She was purring softly.

“‘Now, Mischief,’ he cried out eagerly, ‘you’ve been playing tricks,
and I’m going to stroke you the wrong way, to pay up for it.’

“The kitten stopped purring. ‘Don’t,’ she said, sharply; ‘you’ll
crumple my dress! There,’ she added, in a gentler tone, seeing his
dismay, ‘you didn’t mean any harm. Be a good boy and I’ll let you take
a walk with me.’ She threw away her fan, and held out her little gloved
hand to him, as she spoke, for she was a lady again beyond all doubt.
Fred took her hand with some hesitation, and off they started together.
As they walked along, side by side, Mischief kept up such a steady,
soft little flow of talk that Fred could not tell it from purring half
the time. At last they reached the foot of one of the high mountains,
and Mischief began to scramble up, pulling him along as she did so.

“‘But I--never--was here before,’ he tried to say, as his little guide
leaped from rock to stump, catching them gracefully, and swinging him
up after her. Mischief never stopped, however, until they reached the
very tip-top. Then they sat down to rest on a mossy rock. The view was
glorious; Fred could see his house, nestling in the valley far, far
below him, and looking no bigger than a pin in a green pincushion.

“‘Speaking of pins,’ said Mischief, as if she read his thoughts, ‘how
many pine needles are there in a bunch? I suppose you learned that at

“‘No,’ said Fred, ‘we had how many shillings there are in a guinea,
and how many rods make a furlong, and--’ Here Mischief appeared so
intensely interested that he was quite confused, and stopped short.

“‘Go on,’ she cried, impatiently; ‘how do you make your fur long?’

“Fred was dreadfully puzzled. ‘Excuse me,’ he said, ‘I don’t think you
quite understood me.’

“‘Well, never mind. How about the needles?’

“‘I never learned that table.’

“‘Humph! I thought everybody knew there were three in a bunch on a
pitch pine, and five in a bunch on a white pine. It’s in the catechism.’

“‘No, it’s not,’ said Fred, decidedly.

“‘It ought to be, then, which is precisely the same thing with us

“‘It isn’t with folks,’ said Fred.

“‘Well, let me see if you know anything at all. Do you see that black
cloud coming up over the hills?’


“‘Probably it will rain to-night, will it not?’

“‘Yes’m,’ replied Fred again, meekly.

“‘Why should it?’

“Fred looked at the cloud blankly; he really had never thought of this

“‘Of course you don’t know,’ said Mischief, after waiting a moment for
him to answer. ‘It’s because every drop of water in that cloud has
thin, gauzy wings of fog, and when they happen to come across a cold
breeze--as they often do in these high mountains--they shiver and fold
up their wings so they can’t fly any more, and down they come in what
you call a rain storm. I knew that before I had my eyes open. Now,’ she
continued, ‘I’m going to try you just once more, and then we must be
going. Did you ever see a kitten walk on tip-toes?’

“‘Never,’ said Fred. ‘Except,’ he added slyly, ‘when they jump after

“Mischief laughed outright. ‘Dear me, you funny boy,’ she said, ‘where
_have_ you been to school? Why, _all_ kittens walk on tip-toes, from
morning till night. That little crook that looks like a knee is really
a kitten’s heel. Horses walk the same way, only they have just one
toe to walk on, and that longer then your arm. You ask that little
gray-bearded man with the blue spectacles, that comes here once in a
while, and he will tell you that many thousand years ago horses had as
many toes as kittens, but they are such great, awkward things that all
their other toes have been taken away from them. A cow has--’

“‘I know!’ cried Fred. ‘She has a cloven hoof, without any toes at all.’

“‘You’re all wrong, as usual,’ said Mischief briskly; ‘what you call
hoof is her two toes. Though why she should be allowed to keep more
than a horse, I never could see. Great red thing!’ Just then, a big
drop of rain came down, spat! on Mischief’s nose. She rubbed it off
hastily with her nice little mouse-gray gloves, and looked about her
with a frightened air. ‘It never will do for me to be caught in a
shower,’ she said, ‘or my gloves and dress will be spotted. They’ve
been in the family a long time and were imported from Malta.’ Another
drop struck her face, tickling her so that she sneezed violently.

“‘Come!’ she cried, and started off at a full run, down the
mountain-side, pulling Fred after her as before. ‘Hurry, hurry,’ she
screamed; ‘faster, faster!’

“Fred now saw, to his horror, that instead of descending the side on
which they had come up, she was making straight toward the slope where
the rocks were bare and red.

“‘Stop, stop, Mischief!’ he cried breathlessly, ‘we shall go over the

“Before the words were fairly out of his mouth they were on the
crumbling edge of a precipice. In that instant Fred could see the road
and the brook a thousand feet below them.

“He braced his feet against the stones and tried to snatch his hand
away, but Mischief held it more tightly than ever. With one wild bound
they were over the brink, out in the empty air, falling down, down--

“Come, come, Fred, you’ll be wet through!”

“Fred looked about him in amazement. He was sitting on the piazza, and
there was Mischief in his lap. She was shaking off the rain-drops as
they fell thickly upon her soft fur, and was struggling to get away
from his hand, which was tightly clasped about one of her fore-paws.
His other hand was held by his mother, who stood over him, laughing
and talking at the same time. ‘Why, Fred, have you been here all the
afternoon? I guess the kitten has had a nice nap; and just see how it

“‘Mischief,’ began Fred solemnly, letting go her paw, ‘what have you
been--?’ but Mischief had already jumped and run off to the barn, to
find her brothers and sisters.”



How it did pour that afternoon! It was of no use to think of going into
the woods for leaves, and the girls had just about given up all idea of
decorating Pet’s room, when the kitchen window was obscured by a queer

Kittie came flying out from the sitting-room, closely followed by the

“What can it be?” she cried. “O, I know! It’s Ruel--just see what he’s

Sure enough, the kindly trapper, who loved the young folks almost as
if they were his own children, had tramped off quietly to the wood,
gathered a huge armful of green oak boughs--and now stood, beaming out
of the midst of them, like a good-natured Faun, fairly dripping from
head to foot.

“I thought you mout like to be workin’ while your uncle was tellin’
stories,” he called out. “Where’ll you have em?”

“O, in the barn, the barn. We’ve been cooped up in the house all day,
and I’m just longing for a breath of fresh air.”

Thus the energetic Bess.

“But the leaves are all wet,” objected Kittie. “Won’t they hurt the
hay, Uncle?”

Mr. Percival smiled, and patted the eager brown head. “I guess they
won’t spoil the whole mow,” he said. “But of course I can’t tell you
any stories, because I’m going to toast my feet all the afternoon in
the Den.”

Kittie saw a twinkle in his eye.

“Ah,” she said coaxingly, “you’re just teasing us. You’re going to
come out where you can see to Tim and Ruel while they work, and then
you’re going to climb up into the hay-mow and _tell_, while we make
trimming--aren’t you, Uncle?”

“‘_Aren’t_ you, Uncle?’” repeated Mr. Percival in a whimsical tone.
“Why, if you’re such a very earnest little puss about it, I suppose--I

It didn’t take long to prepare for the barn. Hooded and water-proofed,
the girls ran across the little open space as fast as they could go,
wagging in and out under a big umbrella, screaming and laughing,

Tom and Randolph followed in more military style, double-quicking in
fine order from porch to barn. The men were already there. In one of
the broad bays on the ground level of the barn was a mow of new hay;
and on the centre of this was deposited a huge heap of leaves, wet and
shining, pretty material for busy fingers to transform into links and
wreaths and festoons for Pet’s chamber.

Mr. Percival was soon made comfortable in a hay-nest especially
hollowed out for him, and the rest seated themselves in a semi-circle
before him. The boys were set to work at once, stripping off leaves.

“There,” said Bess, beginning to turn the stout stems and piercing the
tough green tissue of the leaves, “this is really--”

“Nice,” furnished Randolph gravely. “That’s a good Boston word. Girls
always say that the weather is nice, and ice cream is nice, and going
to Europe is nice, and the sermon was nice, and--”

“O hear him, hear him!” interrupted Kittie. “I guess ‘nice’ is as good
a word as ‘jolly.’ Boys all say that.”

“Many a nice time, yes, and jolly too,” said uncle Will, as he watched
the swallows overhead, and listened with an amused smile to the
children’s funning, “I’ve had in this barn, in old times.”

“Were there many fellows about here?” asked Tom.

“Not many, but perhaps we appreciated one another all the better. The
district school was about a half a mile from the cross-roads, and we
boys were always ready for a good time. Once, though, our sport came
near turning out pretty seriously for me.”

“How was that, sir?” The rest looked up with interested faces, but kept
on with their work.

“Why, it was on a Saturday afternoon, I remember, at about this time of
year--no, it must have been later--in August, I think.

“There were seven of us, just out of school, and ready for anything in
the shape of fun. It had been a clear race from the schoolhouse--we
never could go anywhere without a run or a leap-frog, or something of
the sort--till we reached the shade of an apple-tree, laughing, panting
and eating apples. The ground was covered with small, juicy fruit,
mellow on the upper side, and hard underneath. They were pretty sour,
but we didn’t care.

“It was only half-past four, and we had two good hours before
supper-time all to ourselves. So we lay there, filling our pockets with
apples after we had eaten enough, and began to propose plans.

“‘Let’s go down to the mill and see ’em saw logs.’

“‘Too far.’

“Well, who says ‘I spy,’ then?

“This suggestion was well received, and I, who had made it, proceeded
to count off, one dropping away every time until the last, who happened
to be Bob Andrews--poor fellow, he was shot at Antietam!--was ‘It,’ and
was posted against the tree with his eyes covered.

“‘Fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty--I’m comin’ when I get to three
hundred!’ he shouted, as we scattered in all directions.

“At first I made for a low wall near the house, and had hardly
time to gain it when Bob gave a flourish, and with a loud ‘Three
hundred--comin’!’ started for his prey.

“Peeping through a crevice in the wall, and finding he was coming in my
direction, I hurriedly glanced about for a new hiding-place.

“At that moment a red squirrel bounded lightly along the tops of the
stones, and disappeared in a crevice between two boards of the barn.

“Instantly I followed the hint. Creeping on my hands and knees, I soon
reached the corner of the old gray building, and a moment later was in
the centre of the mow, burrowing down out of sight, until I was pretty
confident that it would take a smarter boy than Bob Andrews to find me
that time.

“It was remarkably comfortable in that mow. The hay was fresh on top,
and although I had reached the under layer of last year’s crop, I
took care not to disturb it much, so that the dust did not trouble
me. I could hear the shouts of the boys as they were discovered, one
after the other, and the complaining tones of Bob, who, to my great
satisfaction, was ransacking every nook and corner of the place except
the right one.

“A couple of swallows flew in and out over my head, twittering softly.
Perhaps they were returning for a last look at their old home, for it
was almost time they were away.

“Whether it was the soft August air, or the distant, faint shouts of
the boys, or the voice of the swallows, I never knew; but when I roused
myself to climb down and have my laugh at the rest of the fellows,
to my surprise I found it was quite dark. At the same time I began to
experience a smothering sensation, and an almost unbearable heat.

“I put up my hand. It instantly came into contact with hay so dry that
it made me sneeze.

“I tried to push it aside and to rise; but, to my dismay, found myself
held down tightly by an immovable mass above, below, on all sides. I
had at first supposed the hay had tumbled or been thrown down for fun
upon me; but all in a flash, I realized the truth. I had fallen asleep,
and while unconscious, had been covered, by some of the farm-hands,
who, I remembered, had been directed that very morning to pitch the
entire contents of another mow upon this, as the flooring of the first
needed repairs.

“I was sixteen, then, and pretty rugged for a boy of my years; but I
confess I felt a lump in my throat and a faint, dizzy terror sweep over
me from head to foot.

“Buried alive in a hay-mow! For a few minutes I was quite frantic. I
shrieked for help; I dug furiously with hands and kicked with feet,
until my smarting eyes, nostrils and throat, half-choked with fine
hay-dust, compelled me to desist.

“Then I began to plan more deliberately. It was pitch-dark, remember,
and so close that I could hardly breathe. The perspiration, too, was
streaming from every pore. If I had known my points of compass, I
could have made a bee-line for the nearest limit of the mow, but I had
turned in sleeping, and struggled so violently afterward, that I was as
completely lost as though I had been in the Maine wilderness.

“There was no time to spare. My breath came in a quick, heavy panting.
I felt my strength growing plainly less. At the same time, I began to
be hungry and thirsty. How much time had elapsed since I had hidden
away I could not tell. Perhaps it was supper-time.

“What would I have given to have been sitting in the smooth-floored,
old kitchen, with my bowl of bread and milk before me, relating my
strange adventure to the half-sympathizing, half-laughing faces around
the table?

“I began slowly to loosen the hay upon my right side, which I judged
was toward the centre of the barn. If so, my course would bring me out
through the side of the mow, twenty feet above the floor.

“It was tedious work, for I dared not hurry lest I should be overcome
with heat and the dust, which kept me coughing almost incessantly.

“Handful after handful I pulled out and crowded behind me. Every muscle
ached with the cramped position, and the air became more and more
close. Still, I worked on steadily, desperately. How long it was I
cannot tell--I never knew.

“I was drawing away the tightly-packed masses of hay, a small bunch at
a time, when the air suddenly became perceptibly cooler and sweeter. I
dug at the cruel hay wall more furiously. Somewhere beneath me I heard
a slight scrambling and rustling, which soon ceased.

“A moment later, my finger-ends struck the rough surface of boards,
and, as they did so, a cold, delicious draught of air, like
spring-water in a desert, blew upon my hot cheek.

“I felt about eagerly, still seeing nothing, and soon came upon a small
hole or interstice, with roughened sides, as if gnawed by some animal,
between the edges of two of the boards which formed the partition I had
met. It did not take me long, country boy as I was, to reason out the
nature of that opening. It was a squirrel’s hole, without doubt the
very spot where my bushy-tailed guide had disappeared, as I watched him
from behind the stone wall.

“I put my eye to the opening, and looked out. To my astonishment, the
stars were shining brightly. Yes, and the moon! By its position in the
eastern sky--for it was past the full--I knew at last how long I had
been in that hay-mow. It was between twelve and one o’clock, and for
eight hours I had been buried, lost, in the hay.

“I say had been, for now I felt quite at ease. No more exploring for
me that night! When morning came, I could easily call through my
squirrel’s front-door, and the men who came out early to milk would
pitch off the hay, and release me.

“The only trouble was hunger and thirst, which, now that I had time to
think of them, oppressed me more than ever. Then I remembered those
apples. I suppose nothing will ever taste so good as that sour, hard
apple did that night. After I had made a bountiful lunch, I enlarged
my quarters a little, settled back comfortably, and waited for

“That’s all there really is to tell. In due time, the stars faded, one
by one; the sky flushed all sorts of lovely roses and pinks; the cattle
began to stir about uneasily underneath; a distant door creaked, and
heavy boots slowly approached.

“I placed my lips to the crack, and called in a low tone. You see, I
didn’t want to rouse all the folks. I knew they wouldn’t be worried,
because I had planned to go over to Merritt’s and stop with him that
very night.

“Well, ten minutes later I stood on the barn-floor, brushing the
hay-seed from my hair and clothes, and stretching my aching limbs. I
found the witch-grass had cut my fingers a little, and that was about
all the harm that came of it.

“I expected them all to laugh at the breakfast-table, and told my
story rather sheepishly; but when I got through, and looked round, the
folks had anything but smiling faces, and two of them passed me the
doughnuts, both at once. Mother cried outright.

“‘If he hadn’t taken the right direction,’ she said, ‘or had kept going
in a circle’--

“Then she stopped; and so will I.”

“Ah,” said Kittie, drawing a long breath, “that was a narrow escape.
It makes me feel stifled just to think of it.”

“Was it this very barn, Uncle?”

“Yes, Tom; and that further mow on the other side, where Kittie found
the man last winter, and had such a fright.”

The trimming was nearly completed, but it still needed to be brought
into better shape, and a special yard or two of smaller leaves made for
the looking-glass, Bess said. “And can’t you tell us one more hay-mow
story, uncle Will.”

“Let me speak to Tim a minute,” said Mr. Percival. “After I’ve given
him some directions, I’ll see if I can remember one.

“It was a warm day in the early part of April,” he began, as soon as he
returned. “The air was mild, the sky was blue, with sunlight, and the
gentle spring breezes were full of all sorts of nice smells of fresh
earth and green, growing turf. The turf was in the moist places on the
sunny side of the old wall; above it, in their willow-baskets, pussies
were beginning to stretch out their little gray paws sleepily, as they
awoke one by one from their long nap.

“As Zip spattered along the muddy roadside on his way home from
Sunday-school, he thought the world a pretty nice place to live in, on
the whole. ‘Zip,’ by the way, was short for ‘Zephaniah,’ which was his
long name. Folks only called him that when they were full of fun or
very cross; indeed, you could generally tell which by their tone.

“A robin in the overhanging boughs of an apple-tree whistled cheerily
as Zip drew near. Instantly the boy seized a stone, and threw it at the
red feathers. The bird uttered a shrill cry of alarm, but flew away
unharmed, and presently was heard again far away in the orchard. Zip
was rather glad of this, after all. He wasn’t a cruel boy, but whenever
he saw a bird or a squirrel, something in him, he couldn’t tell what,
made him throw stones at it.

“Now Zip, as I said, had just been to Sunday-school, and had been
thinking almost all the way home of the lesson. It was the story of
the very first Christian people, who started so bravely to be good and
true, and who tried to do just as Christ of Nazareth had taught them
and their fathers a few years before.

“‘What a beautiful world it would be,’ the teacher had said, at the
close of school, ‘if everybody tried to do so now!’

“Zip was only twelve years old, and didn’t know much about the world
any way, but he had seen some acts that were quite unlike those of the
apostles so long ago. His father and mother were plain country people,
working hard from morning till night, and giving no anxious thought to
the morrow, but a great deal to to-day, which was pretty much the same
thing, only they were one day behind, and somehow could never catch
up. The hard-featured man at the counter of his country store, and the
tired-looking woman in the kitchen, each spent their lives, it seemed
to Zip, in getting dinner or clearing it away. So it happened that the
boy was glad enough of his Sunday afternoon, when, after returning from
school, he had three hours to himself before supper.

“As he neared home he saw the small cattle-door of the barn left
invitingly open. He turned aside, picking his way among the brown
pools and streamlets that dimpled and twinkled in the sunlight, and
entered the great fragrant cave, lighted only by cracks between the
uneven boards, and a knot-hole here and there far above his head. The
oxen raised their broad foreheads, knocking their horns against the
stanchions. Zip gave them each a little pat between their meek brown
eyes, and scrambled up the ladder into the hay-mow.

“It was a delicious place for a quiet Sunday afternoon. He waded over
to the very centre of the mow, dug a little hollow with his hands, and
cuddled down into it. Over his head were the dark beams with their
dusty webs and last year’s swallow’s nests; beneath him he could hear
the cattle munching away at their hay and grain, and now and then
putting down a heavy foot on the floor of their stalls. A dozen hens
were stalking about, picking wisely at various bits of grass-seed, and
clucking in soft tones. All around was the sweet scent of the hay.

“As Zip lay in his snug nest he thought drowsily of what the teacher
had said about everybody being good. How comfortable and happy it would
be! The more he thought about it the pleasanter it seemed. Just then
there came a long, low note from one of the hens on the wide floor
below. The sound had so many quirks and turns in it, that Zip half
thought for a moment that it was some one speaking to him, and started
up to answer. Then he remembered it was only a hen, and leaned back
with a smile.

“Presently he heard the same hen clucking, or cackling, again, and so
slowly and clearly did the notes come that he could have stated to
a positive certainty that something had been said down there on the
barn-floor, and that, too, about himself. He crept to the edge of the
mow and looked over. There were the hens just as he had often seen
them, only looking wiser than ever. Even while he looked the brown
pullet gave a vigorous scratch or two, pecked at the dusty boards once
or twice, shook her feathers, and said distinctly,

“‘If they only knew!’

“Zip stared. Then a deep, soft voice, hardly more than a long, long
sigh, came from directly beneath him, ‘They would soon learn to be as
quiet as we are.’

“It was Star, the off-ox; there couldn’t be a doubt of it.

“‘I don’t know,’ answered the brown pullet, winking upside-down after
her custom, ‘you great things are almost too quiet. One has to be
lively to get one’s supper, you know.’

“As she spoke she made a quick run after a tiny insect which had been
called out of its cranny by the warm sun, caught it on the wing, and
went on with what she had been saying.

“‘In the first place, Star,’ she said, more gravely, ‘no one would be
angry without good reason, and then they wouldn’t beat animals for
nothing, would they, Billy?’

“The horse who was thus addressed seemed to shake his mane, and said
something which Zip took to be a very prolonged ‘nay,’ but he wasn’t
quite sure he answered at all.

“‘Nobody would be selfish, and everybody would be kind,’ continued
Brown Pullet, ‘and trying to please others instead of themselves. They
wouldn’t hurt the feelings of anybody nor any thing. There’s Zip, now,
he wouldn’t throw stones at a robin; he would think how the poor little
bird-heart was beating faster and faster, and the soft red feathers
throbbing on her breast, as the ugly stone came whizzing through the
air to take her life!’

“Zip did think, and was sorry he threw the stone. It was a comfort that
he didn’t hit the bird, however, and he made up his mind to throw out
some crumbs on the well-curb that very night.

“‘I declare,’ said Brown Pullet, with her feathers just a bit ruffled,
‘when I think of how pleasant and kind and polite and gentle folks
might be, and how they do say sharp, hurtful things (which I’ve
heard people say do bruise one more even than rocks), it makes me
really--there!’ she interrupted herself, ‘I declare, I’m getting angry
myself, which don’t help matters much. The best way for me to bring on
the good times is to begin myself. Speckle, Speckle,’ she called to one
of her companions, ‘here’s the plumpest barleycorn I’ve found to-day. I
sha’n’t have any peace till I see you eat it, to make up for my being
cross to you this morning when you tipped the water over on my toes. It
was cold, to be sure, but ’twas all an accident, and I oughtn’t to have
pecked you for it. Dear, dear, how late it’s getting! It’s quite dark,
da-a-rk, da-r-r-rk!’

“Zip gave a little jump, he hardly knew why, and looked about him. The
hens were still walking about the floor below, for he heard them as
plainly as before, only he couldn’t seem to make out what they said,
and somehow, too, he was back in his soft hay-nest again. He rubbed his
eyes, and stretched his sturdy little arms, found his way down the
ladder, and looked hard at the brown pullet. But she merely clucked
in her old way, and, turning her head on one side, looked up at him
curiously out of her wise, round eyes.

“Zip then went over to see the two oxen, but they only lifted their
heads and watched him in silence for a moment, then gave two great,
soft, sweet-breathed sighs, and went on eating their hay.”

       *       *       *       *       *

The oak-leaf decorations were now quite finished. The remainder of the
day, until dark, was spent in festooning them about Pet’s room, over
the doorways, and even in the chamber to be occupied by poor little
Bridget Flanagan, the unrecognized heroine of the Summer Street fire.

Ruel, coming in to supper, reported bright streaks in the west, and
predicted fair cool weather on the morrow.



That Ruel was a good weather-prophet, there could be no doubt. Long
before blue eyes and brown were opened at The Pines, the sun was
shining over hill and valley, and birds singing in every thicket, to
welcome the bright day.

Plans were eagerly discussed at breakfast, and by eight o’clock the
great wagon was before the door, ready for a start. Tom alone hung back
and refused to go, saying he wanted to walk over to the Pond; so they
drove off without him, toward the Pineville Station.

The horses, who had just enjoyed a rainy day’s rest in their stalls,
stepped off merrily. How sweet the air was! The girls and Randolph
drew in long breaths, and shouted and sang till they were tired. Mr.
Percival listened, and watched them with kindly eyes, now and then
engaging in the conversation himself.

“Aren’t there any boys and girls around here except ourselves?” asked
Randolph as they whirled along over the road, here carpeted with pine

“O there are plenty in Readville and Jamestown,” replied his uncle,
touching the glossy flank of the off horse with his whip. “There’s a
good-sized school in each town, and they draw the young folks together,
from all parts.”

“What do they do for fun, I wonder?”

“Well, just now they’re full of base-ball. The boys do the hard work,
out in the sun, and the girls make caps and badges for them and watch
them play. There’s a club in each town, I’m told.”

“How nice!” exclaimed Bess. “I do so like to see real exciting games!”

“Don’t you believe we could drive over sometime, Uncle?” asked Kittie.

“Yes indeed, yes indeed; take you over to-morrow if you like--or send
you with Ruel.”

“They’d be glad enough to git the boys to play with ’em,” remarked
Ruel, chiming in as his name was spoken. “They always think city boys
must know how, because they’ve seen the big clubs.”


It might as well be added right here that the boys did go over to
Readville, though not on the following day; and the village club were
so well pleased with their playing, that they invited the new-comers to
join their nine, during vacation, and to take part in any matches that
might occur. Randolph, indeed, so gained in favor by his pleasant ways
and cool head that he was regularly elected Captain. Tom did well, too,
being a more graceful player than his cousin, but not so reliable in an
emergency. All this I have mentioned, to explain how the great Match
Game came about, of which we shall hear before long.

Meanwhile the ride to the railroad progressed pleasantly. An excursion
to Bessie’s mountain (where she had lighted the birch-tree torch during
the thunder-storm) was planned in all its details.

“Pet will soon be rested,” said Kittie in gleeful tones, “and then
we’ll have our picnic. Ruel, you must take plenty of matches, and your

“What’s the axe fer?”

“O tables, and a tent, perhaps.”

“And birch bark,” added the guide.

“Birch bark? I thought you cut that off with penknives. O, can we get a
lot, to carry home?”

“Don’t see why not, ef you c’n stan’ the work.”

“Has Pet another watch?” asked Randolph suddenly. “She said something
about it in her last letter to you, Bess, didn’t she?”

“No. Her father thinks it was careless of her to lose it, now that it’s
certain it didn’t go into the pond when she fell overboard.”

“I should like to know what’s the matter with Tom,” broke in Kittie.
“He’s acted queer, ever since that day.”

“Yes,” said Mr. Percival soberly. “I’m troubled about the boy. He isn’t
his old merry self at all.”

“What did he say about the Indians that afternoon, Uncle?”

“Said he believed they took the watch and hid it; and that he hadn’t
seen it himself, and knew nothing about it.”

“Was that at the trial?”

“Just before. He wasn’t in the house when we examined the Indians.”

“Well, he thinks everything of Pet,” said Randolph. “I guess he feels
bad about her losing it, and that’s what ails him. Hulloa, see that
crow on the fence just ahead there!”

“He’s gone, he’s gone! O what are those little birds fluttering round

“Them’s king-birds,” said Ruel. “They can’t put up with crows, nohaow.”

“What, are they fighting him now?”

“Teeth an’ claws. Look at him dive, to git out o’ their way!”

“Do crows do any good, Ruel?”

“Wal, I d’no. I s’pose, when you come right daown to it, the creeturs
ought ter be killed off. They do suck small bird’s eggs, an’ they’re a
powerful nuisance in a cornfield. But thar, I do hate to shoot anything
with wings on ’em, in these big woods.”

“Why, Ruel?” inquired the boy curiously.

“Wal, fer one reason, they’re good company, even those black rascals.
Many’s the time I’ve been off alone in the woods, in the winter, when
I couldn’t see nor hear a livin’ thing fer a week together. An’ some
mornin’ I’d hear a queer croakin’ noise near my cabin, an’ thar’d be a
crow--head on one side, a-talkin’ to a neighbor over’n a pine. Their
talkin’ ain’t anything like their reg’lar cawin’.”

“What does it sound like?”

“O, I d’no. Like a hoarse old man, talkin’ to himself, p’raps. Anyway,
it sounds sort o’ human, and I couldn’t knock ’em over, to save me.”

By this time the girls had found something else to interest them by the
roadside, in the tree-tops, or the sky overhead; and so the ride went
on, happily, toward Pineville.

But it is time to look back a little, and see what Tom is about, left
alone at The Pines.

       *       *       *       *       *

As soon as the rest were gone, Tom glanced carelessly over his
shoulder, and sauntered off toward the woods. At a distance of about a
thousand feet from the house, he paused and looked curiously about him.
He had entered a clump of oaks and birches, just on the edge of the
pine forest; before him lay a little valley, into which he descended,
and leaving the path, followed the course of what was evidently in the
spring season a small stream, now entirely dry. Stepping cautiously,
to avoid treading upon dry twigs, he kept on down the ravine until he
reached a large bowlder, forming the outworks of a picturesquely broken
cliff whose fern-draped front towered some forty feet or more above his

An aged beech-tree, rooted about half-way up the juncture of the
boulder and the cliff, had bent downward in the course of years, until
its lowermost branches almost touched the ground. Seizing the nearest
of these, and aiding himself by slight projections and crannies in the
ledge itself, Tom drew himself up to the thick end of the tree, upon
the curving trunk of which he seated himself, breathless. He was now
in a sort of cavity, formed by the fall of the bowlder in ages past,
which had given shelter to the young beech and collected soil for its
nourishment. Ferns grew thickly above, below, on every side, along the
shelving surfaces, which, projecting over Tom’s head, made a snug nook
some five or six feet deep. This hiding-place the boy flattered himself
was entirely his own discovery, and thither he was accustomed to betake
himself on long summer afternoons; then, stretching out comfortably
at full length in the green shade, he would fancy himself in a wild
country, flying from Indians; or would pull a book from his pocket, and
lose himself in tales of peril and adventure.

On this occasion, however, he had no book, and gave himself up to no
day dreams. Instead, he seemed worried and frightened, and peering
downward through the leaves, listened for any footstep that might be

No, he was quite alone. Only a thrush, singing musically, near by; and
from beyond, the solemn, never-ceasing murmur of the pines.

With slow and careful movements, taking care not to disturb the loose
rocks or soil in the cavity, the boy turned and thrust his arm into a
narrow cleft that had been concealed by a clump of ferns.

When he drew back his hand, something bright gleamed in it. It was
round, and shone gayly in an innocent bit of sunlight that came
flickering down through the tree-tops. It was talking to itself, too,
in a very busy and wise little way, as Tom satisfied himself at once,
holding it to his ear and listening anxiously.

What would Pet have thought, as she whirled along in the North-bound
express from Boston that fair morning, could she have seen Tom
crouching on the shadowy ledge, trembling at every sound in the forest,
pale and frightened, clasping in his hand--her lost watch? Poor Tom!



“I should like to know,” said Pet breathlessly, as she clambered up the
steep slope of Saddleback, a day or two after her return to The Pines,
“whether there really is any top to this hill! Where was the birch you
set on fire, Bess?”

The party paused a minute beside the path, to rest and get breath.

“O, ever so far from here, away over on the Readville side of the

“It spiles the looks of the tree,” observed Ruel, leaning on his axe,
“or I’d start one for ye naow. Leaves ’em all black, an’ sometimes
kills ’em, right aout--not to say anything ’bout settin’ the rest o’
the woods on fire.”

“What sort of a birch is that, over by that rock, uncle Will?” asked

“That? That’s a black birch. Nice tasting bark. When we get to the top
and have lunch, we’ll talk about birches a little, if you like. Let me
see, whose favorite tree was it last year? Tom’s?”

“Bessie’s, of course. Tom’s was the oak, because it wore squirrels and
oak-leaf trimming!”

“Anyway,” said Tom, who, though a shade paler than in the old days,
seemed to have partially recovered his spirits, “oak trees are stronger
and tougher than pines or birches either; and I notice that uncle Will
has a white oak cane, this very minute!”

“Time’s up!” interrupted Ruel, who always assumed the place of guide,
not to say leader, in such tramps as these. “It’s eleven o’clock naow,
and we’ve got a good piece to go yet, ’fore we’re onto the top of old

The woods were very still, the air cool and fragrant, the moss deep and
soft under their feet, as they passed onward and upward.

  Climbing, climbing,
  Climbing up Zion’s hill!

sang the girls, over and over, till the rest caught the air and joined
in heartily, keeping step with the music. Now they turned an abrupt
corner, and from the summit of a high ledge could look far off over
the valley, with its piney woods and peaceful columns of smoke rising
here and there. Loon Pond glistened gayly in the full radiance of the
noon sun; now they attacked a rough natural stairway of bowlders and
fallen trees, the boys clambering up first, baskets on arm, and then
reaching down to give the others a helping hand. Pet, who was not used
to such rough travelling, had to stop and rest every few feet; but no
face was sunnier or laugh merrier than hers. Tom kept as near her side
as possible, and gave her many a helpful lift with his strong arm, over
the worst places. At one time she suddenly remembered that she had left
her handkerchief at the last halting-place; her cavalier was off before
she could stop him, racing down the steep path and returning with the
missing article in an incredibly short time.

Still upward. The bowlders were prettily draped with ferns, which had
sunbeams given them to play with. In the underbrush close by, a flock
of partridges walked demurely and fearlessly along beside the party,
clucking in soft tones their surprise and curiosity. Tiny brooks
crossed the path and ran off laughing down the hill. Now there arose a
rushing sound, louder and more steadily continuous than the wind-dreams
in the tree-tops.

It was a cataract, falling some eight feet into a black pool, covered
with little floating rafts of foam. And now they could see sky between
the trunks of trees ahead.

“Hurrah!” shouted Tom. “There’s the top!”

But the top was a good walk from there, and when at last they emerged
upon the little rocky plateau forming the summit, they were both tired
and hungry.

“Rest for thirty minutes,” proclaimed Mr. Percival. “Then we’ll take
the back track.”

“The back track! Oh-h-h!”

“How about dinner, uncle?”

“I’m just _starving_, sir!”

“What time is it? Who’s got a watch?”

Tom turned fiery red at this last question, and a sober look crossed
Pet’s face; but a moment later she was merry again.

“_Please_, uncle Will,” she pleaded, “mayn’t we have lunch before we go

“_Please_, Miss Pet, turn one of those brooks upside-down, and bring
up a few nice large birch trees--and this will be quite a comfortable
spot for dinner! No, dear, we’ll look all we want to at this beautiful
view, and then we’ll walk down a bit--only a few steps, and not just
the way we came--to a spot Ruel knows of, where shade, fuel and fresh
water are all at hand.”

The view was indeed lovely: lakes shining here and there in the
woods; far-away villages, with tiny white church spires; mossy green
acres--thousands on thousands--of forest; the dim blue of Katahdin, to
the northeast; overhead, the tenderest and bluest of midsummer skies.

“How beautiful that mountain looks!” said Pet slowly, from the turfy
couch where she had thrown herself down. “I wonder if there are strange
Indian stories and legends about it?”

“A good many, I expect,” replied Mr. Percival, baring his forehead
to the cool breeze. “The Indians have always had a great respect for
mountains, especially where there was some peculiar formation or
feature which impressed their imagination--the ‘Profile,’ for instance,
in the White Mountains.”

“I have heard the same about the Mount of the Holy Cross in Colorado,”
added Randolph. “That was one of the--” he paused and flushed a little,
as if uncertain whether to go on.

“Yes, yes,” laughed uncle Will, guessing from his manner what he was
about to say. “It’s that famous brother of yours again. You ought to
bring him up here sometime, to recite his own verses. However, you do
it very well, for him.”

“What has he written about that mountain, Randolph?” asked Kittie in a
respectful tone that made the rest laugh.

“O, only three or four verses,” said Randolph. “You know the Cross is
formed by two immense ravines near the summit of the mountain, where
the ice and snow lie all the year round. These are the verses.


  Down the rocky slopes and passes
    Of the everlasting hills
  Murmur low the crystal waters
    Of a thousand tiny rills;

  Bearing from a lofty glacier
    To the valley far below
  Health and strength to every creature,--
    ’Tis for them ‘He giveth snow.’

  On thy streamlet’s brink the wild deer
    Prints with timid foot the moss;
  To thy side the sparrow nestles,--
    Mountain of the Holy Cross!

  Pure and white amid the heavens
    God hath set His glorious sign:
  Symbol of a world’s deliverance,
    Promise of a life divine.”


A little pause followed the poem, which Randolph had repeated in low,
quiet tones. At length it was time to go, and with Ruel for guide once
more, they threaded their way over fallen trees, around stumps and
treacherous ledges, down the mountain side until, at a distance of
perhaps a furlong from the summit, the guide threw down his axe.

“I guess this’ll dew,” said he.

“This” was a small cleared spot, some fifty feet across, along the
further side of which ran the brook, forming half a dozen mimic
cataracts. The woods on all sides were composed of evergreens,
interspersed with clumps of white birch showing prettily here and there
among the darker shadows.

“Now,” said Mr. Percival briskly, “you and the girls can start a fire
and set the table, Randolph, while Tom helps Ruel and me to build a

“O, a camp! Where shall we make the fire?”

“Over against that rock, on the lee side of the clearing, so the smoke
sha’n’t bother us.”

All hands were soon at work vigorously. Ruel cut two strong, crotched
uprights, and a cross-pole, which Tom carried to their position near
the brook, as directed by his uncle. A frame-work was soon erected, and
long, slender poles stretched from the cross-piece back to the ground.
Next, Ruel took his sharp axe, and calling for the rest to follow,
plunged into the woods. In two minutes they came to a halt in the midst
of a group of fine birches, whose boles shone like veritable silver.

The guide raised his axe, and laying the keen edge against the bark of
the nearest, as high as he could reach, drew it steadily downward. The
satiny bark parted on either side at the touch, asking for fingers to
pull it off. Ruel served a dozen other trees in the same way, and then
all set to work, separating bark from trunk. Tom found that his was
apt to split at every knot, but by watching his uncle he soon learned
to work more carefully, often using his whole arm to pry off the bark
instead of merely taking hold with his fingers.

In this way they soon had a lot of splendid sheets, averaging about
four feet wide by five or six long. These they rolled into three
bundles, each taking one, and bore them back in triumph to the camp.
They found the table set, fire crackling, and company waiting with
sharpened appetites. Ruel declared, however, that he must “git the
bark onto the camp afore he eat a crumb;” and the rest helping with a
will, the task was soon accomplished. If Ruel had taken a quiet look
at the sky, and had his own reasons for finishing the hut--he kept his
forebodings to himself, and worked on in silence. The sheets of bark
were laid upon the rafters, lapping over each other like shingles,
while other poles were placed on top, to keep the bark in place. By the
aid of stout cord, side sheets were lashed on roughly, but well enough
for a temporary shelter on a summer day; and the camp was complete.

“What shall we name it?” asked Kittie.

“‘Camp Ruel’!” cried Pet, clapping her hands. “Three cheers for Camp
Ruel!” And they were given lustily, with many additional “tigers” and
cat-calls by the boys.

After the more serious part of lunch was disposed of, the party were
comfortably seated in front of the camp, on rocks and mossy trunks.
Close at hand ran the brook, talking and laughing busily to itself.

“I wish, Uncle,” said Bess, taking her favorite position by his side,
“you’d tell us a story about this brook. If you don’t know any, you can
make it up.”

“I suppose,” said Mr. Percival reflectively, “I could tell you about
Midget. Only Midget was such a little fellow, and you boys and girls
are so exceedingly mature nowadays!”

“O, do!”

“Well, Midget, you see, is an odd little fellow. He has long, light
hair, which the other boys on the street would make fun of if they were
not so fond of him; a rather pale face, though it is browner now, after
half a summer in the country; and big blue eyes, that seem like bits of
sky that baby Midget caught on his way down from heaven, ten years ago,
and never lost.

“Last September, Midget was at Crawford’s, in the White Mountains:
and one bright morning he took a walk, all alone, in a path that runs
beside a little brook leaping down the mountain-side near the hotel.
Now there is this curious thing about Midget--and that’s why I began by
calling him odd--namely, that when he is alone, all sorts of things
about him begin to talk; at least, he says they do, with a funny
twinkle and a sweet look in his blue eyes, which make me half believe
that the talk he hears comes from heaven too. At any rate, Midget had a
wonderful report to make of his walk that morning; and, as nearly as I
can remember, this was his account:

“He said he had not gone far into the forest when he was startled, for
a moment, by hearing a group of children, somewhere in the woods, all
laughing and talking together, and having the merriest time possible.
Through the tumult of their happy cries he could distinguish a woman’s
voice, so deep and musical and tender that it filled him with delight.
He hurried up the path, turned the corner where he expected to find
them, and behold! it was the brook itself talking and laughing.

“Every separate tiny waterfall had its own special voice, as different
from the rest as could be, but all chiming together musically and
joining with the grander undertone of what most people suppose to be
merely a larger cataract, but which Midget plainly perceived was a
tall, lovely lady, with flowing, fluttering robes of white.

“And now she was singing to him. How he listened! Her song, he says,
was something like this:

  Down from the mosses that grow in the clouds
  My children come dancing and laughing in crowds;
  They dance to the valleys and meadows below,
  And make the grass greener wherever they go.

“‘But they have to go always just in one place,’ said Midget,
addressing the waterfall Lady.

“‘That’s true,’ said the Lady.

“‘It can’t be much fun,’ said Midget.

“‘Oh, yes!’ said the Lady, merrily, letting a cool scarf of spray drift
over the boy’s puzzled face.

“‘But I like to go wherever I like,’ said Midget.

“‘So do my children. They like to go wherever they’re sent. They know
they’re doing right, so long as they do that, and doing right makes
them like it.’

“‘H’m,’ said Midget.

“‘Besides,’ added the Lady, ‘once in a while, in the spring, they’re
allowed to take a run off into the woods a bit, just for fun.’

“‘I should like that,’ said Midget decisively. ‘But who--who sends
them, ma’am?’

“‘Ah!’ said the Lady, softly, ‘that’s the best part of all. It is our
Father, who loves us, and often walks beside his brooks and through the

“As she spoke, the end of the white scarf floated out into the
sunshine, and instantly glistened with fair colors. And at the same
moment the Lady began to sing:

    Down from the mountain-top
      Flows the clear rill,
    Dance, little Never-stop,
      Doing His will;
    Through the dark shadow-land,
      Down from the hill,
    To the bright meadow-land,
      Doing His will,
  Loving and serving and praising Him still.

“Just then a low rumble was heard, far off on the slopes of Mt.
Washington, across the valley.

“‘There!’ exclaimed Midget, ‘I must be going. Good-by, dear Lady-fall!’

“‘Good-by, good-by!’ sang the brook, as Midget hurried away down the
path toward the hotel.

“He arrived just in time to escape a wetting. How it did rain! The
lightning glittered and the thunder rolled until the people huddled
about the big fire in the parlor were fairly scared into silence.

“But Midget, with wide-open eyes, was not a bit frightened, and kept
right on telling me this story.”

“Ah,” said Pet, “that’s lovely. But I suspect it was a dear old
gentleman, and not a small boy, who heard the waterfall lady sing.”

“She is there, anyway,” said uncle Will, “and I can show her to you at
Crawford’s, within two minutes’ walk of the hotel, the very next time
we go there.”

Pet looked puzzled, but said nothing.

“Uncle,” said Kittie, throwing a few strips of bark on the fire, “you
said something about having a talk on birches.”

“Well, dear--it must be a short one--how many kinds of birches do you
suppose there are in our woods?”

“O, two--no, let me see--three. White, and Black--”

“And Yellow,” put in Tom with an air of wisdom.

“And Red and Canoe,” added Mr. Percival, with a smile.

“So many! What are they good for?”

“Canoes, tents and--nurses.”


“The growth of birches is so rapid that they are excellent for planting
beside other trees which are less hardy, so that the birches, or
‘nurses,’ as the gardeners call them, may shelter the babies from
extreme heat or cold.”

“How funny! I knew, of course, that a garden of young trees was called
a nursery!”

“Then the real Canoe Birch, which isn’t common hereabouts, was formerly
much used by the Indians for canoes and wigwams.”

“How did they make the pieces stay?”

“Sewed them.”


“The slender roots of spruces. See!” And pulling up a tiny spruce that
grew by the rock on which he sat, he showed them the delicate, tough
rootlets. “Then,” he added, “of course the bark is very useful for
kindling, in the woods. The White Birch is almost always found with or
near the White Pine.”

“I like to think of their being ‘princes,’ in ‘silver rags’,” said
Pet. “I should think there ought to be a legend about that, among the

Something in their uncle’s expression made them all shout at once,
“There is! There is! O, please tell it!”

“Well, well,” laughed Mr. Percival, “fortunately for all of us, it
isn’t very long. Tom, keep the fire going, while you listen. The rest
of you may interrupt and ask questions, whenever you wish.

“A great, great many years ago, centuries before Columbus dreamed of
America, the Indians say the country was ruled by a king whose like was
never known before nor since. In an encampment high up on the slopes of
the Rocky Mountains he lived, and held his royal court. No one knew his
age, but though his beard fell in white waves over his aged breast, his
eye was as bright as an eagle’s and his voice strong and wise in every
council of the chiefs.”

“What was his name?” asked Randolph.

“He was called Manitou the Mighty. In his reign the Indian people grew
prosperous and happy. So deeply did they love and revere him that it
was quite as common to speak of him as ‘father,’ as to address him as

“‘Yes,’ said the monarch, when he heard of this, ‘yes, truly they are
my children. They are all princes, are they not?--my forest children!’

“So the years sped by. The king showed his age not a whit, save by his
snowy locks; and peace ruled throughout the land.

“At last Manitou the Mighty called his chiefs, his ‘children,’ together
in council.

“‘I am going away,’ he said, ‘to far-off countries, perhaps never to
return. But I shall know of my subjects, and shall leave them a book of
laws and directions, and they shall still be my children, and I shall
be their father and king.’

“Then the chiefs hid their faces and went out to the people with the
sorrowful tidings. And when the next morn broke, the Manitou had

“A week passed; and now began jealousies, hatred, avarice, tumults.”

“Why didn’t they obey the laws in that book?” asked Kittie.

“Well, in the first place, some professed to believe that the chiefs
made up the story about the book altogether, and had written the laws
themselves; though a child might have known that no other than Manitou
could possibly have thought and written out such glorious and gentle
words as the law book contained. Others pretended to live by the book,
but so twisted the meaning of its words that the result was worse than
if they had openly transgressed the law.

“So matters went on, from bad to worse. Messages arrived now and then
from the king, with pleading and warning words, but in vain.

“There came a day, in the dead of winter, when the chiefs met in stormy
conclave. Each one would be king. ‘Manitou,’ cried one and another,
‘called me his child, said I was a prince! Who shall rule over me!’

“The sound of a far-off avalanche, high up among the ice-fields of
the mountains, interrupted the assembly. Clouds gathered, black and
ominous. Rain-drops fell, hissing, upon the pine-tops and the wigwams
of Manitou’s wayward children. A hurricane arose, and swept away into
the roaring flood of the rapidly rising river all the wealth they had
been so eager to gain. The rumbling of avalanche upon avalanche grew
more terrible, nearer, nearer. The people turned to fly, with one
accord, but it was too late. Behold, the Manitou stood in their midst,
his long white beard tossed in the storm, his terrible eyes flashing
not with rage, but with grieved love.

“‘Children, children!’ he cried, in a voice that, with its sad and
awful sweetness, broke their very hearts for shame and remorse, ‘Is it
thus that the princes of our race obey their father and fit themselves
to rule with him in the land beyond the great waters!’

“Then the people bowed their heads and moaned and threw up their arms
wildly, and swayed to and fro in the storm, and wailed, until--until--”

The girls leaned forward breathlessly. Tom forgot to heap bark upon the
fire. Ruel had slipped away to the summit, some minutes before.

“Until there was no longer a prince to be seen, but only a vast
assembly of writhing, tossing, quivering forest trees, the rain
dropping from their trembling leaves, their branches swaying helplessly
in the wind which moaned sadly through the forest. Only one trace
remained of their former greatness. Their bark, unlike that of every
other tree, was silvery white, and hung in tatters about them--as you
have seen them to-day, along this mountain side. For since that hour
the beggared princes have wandered far and wide, still wearing their
silver rags, still weeping and moaning when the storms are at their
highest, and they recall that awful day.”

Pet drew a long breath. “And Manitou, what became of him?”

“He still reigns, the legend goes, in the bright land beyond the great

“And must the princes always be birches?”

“Ah, Pet, that is the most beautiful part of the tradition. By patient
continuance in well-doing, by self-sacrifice, by living for others, the
poor trees may at last make themselves worthy to see the king once more
as his children, leaving the withered tree-house behind. But not until
life is done, and well done.

“So you see, every white birch is eager to give its bark for fuel and
protection, which is nearly all it can do, save to watch over the young
trees of the forest, as I have told you, to shield them from harm.

“It is a long time for a birch to wait, sometimes many, many years
before even a little child will strip off one of its tattered shreds
and laugh for delight at the pretty bit of silver in its hand, little
dreaming of the prince whose garment it is; but the tree quivers with
joy at the thought that it has made one of these little ones happy for
even a moment, for so it has become more worthy to meet the king.”

As Mr. Percival finished, Ruel returned from the summit of Saddleback.

“You’d better get the things into camp, and foller ’em yourselves.
There’s a storm comin’. The wind’s jest haowlin’, over in the birches
on the west side of the maounting.”



It was fortunate that Ruel made that little exploring expedition, all
by himself, for the storm was evidently rising fast. The sun went out;
clouds rolled up over the western sky until it seemed as if evening
were coming on; the forest was perfectly silent, except for a troubled
rustling of the birches, the plash of the brook, and a dull, far-off
sound like the waves of a distant ocean.

Mr. Percival drove all the party into the camp, and Ruel busied himself
in laying on extra poles and closing every crack where the rain might
beat in at the sides.

Kittie and Bess had been out in a storm before with their uncle, so
they didn’t much mind it. Pet nestled up close beside them, and waited
with wide-open eyes, hardly knowing whether to be more frightened or
delighted at the prospect. Tom was by far the most nervous of the
party, fidgeting about, begging Ruel to come inside, and behaving so
queerly that Bess declared with a laugh that she believed he felt like
the princes, when the Manitou was coming. As she spoke there was an
ominous and prolonged roll of thunder, and the tree-tops bent under the
first rush of the on-coming tempest.

Tom started and turned white to the very lips, but answered never a

“Don’t bother the boy,” said Mr. Percival kindly. “See--the storm is
really upon us now!”

A glittering flash of lightning accompanied his words, and was followed
by a rattling discharge of thunder. Up to this time, not a drop of rain
had fallen, but now it began to patter like bullets on the dry leaves,
the fire, and, loudest of all, on the bark roof above them.

Ruel crept in at last, and all seven curled up in as small compass, as
far from the half-open front, as possible. How it did pour! It came
down in torrents, in sheets, with an uninterrupted roar.

“Fire’s gittin’ tired,” remarked Ruel, after about two minutes of this;
and sure enough, nothing was left but a few charred brands, steaming

The lightning and thunder now came almost simultaneously, flashing and
booming until the very sky above them seemed ablaze.

After a few attempts at conversation the young folks gave it up,
and remained silent. Pet was very much frightened and hid her face
on Kittie’s shoulder, giving a little involuntary cry whenever an
unusually loud peal of thunder crashed overhead.

For a full half-hour the fury of the storm lasted. Then it rolled away
over the hills and left only a light rain falling. It was still far
too wet for them to leave their shelter, but the party recovered their
spirits, and Ruel even managed to coax a new fire to blaze on the ruins
of the old, with the aid of some dry bark and sticks he had prudently
stowed away at the first alarm. The cheerful blaze and hissing crackle
of the fire were reassuring, and voices soon rose again, as merrily as

“What time do you s’pose it is?”

“Three o’clock!”

“Say, aren’t you _awfully_ stiff? Do let me move my foot a little!”

“Kit, let’s have a song. That one about the pines.” This was from Tom.

Kittie accordingly sang the following lines, to a bright little air.
They were written by Randolph’s brother, she admitted with a blush and
a laugh; the tune was in Whiting’s Third Music Reader:

  The pines have gathered upon the hill,
    To watch for the old-new moon;
  I hear them whispering--“Hush, be still,
    It is coming, coming soon;
            Coming, coming soon!”

  The brown thrush sings to his small brown wife
    Who broods below on her nest,
  “Of all the wide world and of all my life,
    It is you I love the best,
            You I love the best!”

  But the baby moon is wide awake,
    And its eyes are shining bright;
  The pines in their arms the moon must take
    And rock him to sleep to-night,
            Rock him to sleep to-night!

Kittie’s voice was a soft contralto, and though not strong, was very
sweet. There were hand-clapping and thanks in profusion; then a
unanimous cry for a story--something about a thunder-shower.

These young people, be it said, always called on their uncle Will for a
story upon any subject, with as much confidence as you would have in
ordering roast beef or cake at a hotel, without looking at the bill.

“Very well,” said the story-teller, after a moment’s reflection, “I’ll
tell you about Patsy’s Prayer.”

“It was a sultry afternoon in August. In the government offices, from
the Alleghanies to Eastport, men were busily making up weather reports
of what promised to be the hottest day of the season. Pretty soon, some
of them began to find difficulty in managing their telegraph wires; the
air seemed charged with electricity; the men took their observations,
and worked harder than ever. At length the sergeant in charge of one
of the largest and busiest stations glanced up quickly from a bunch of
dispatches he had just read, examined the barometer with a great deal
of care, made a few notes in a huge memorandum book, and scratched off
a message, which was handed at once to the telegraph operator sitting
a few feet away. In five minutes the government weather officials
throughout New England knew that a dangerous storm-centre was rapidly
moving toward them; and up went their signals accordingly.

“The Brookville farmers had heard nothing of all this, but they looked
at the sky knowingly, and hurried a little at their work. At the quiet
old Coburn house the ‘women folks’ were up-stairs asleep, in the lull
between dinner and supper; the men were afield, working with all their

“‘I dunno,’ said Patsy, ‘but I’ll take a bit av a walk wid Shock. Sure,
they won’t mind ef I’m back before tay.’

“Patsy Dolan and his four-year-old sister Shock (probably so-called in
reference to the usual state of her hair) were Boston children, who
had been sent into the country for a week by the Missionary Society.
Patsy himself was only nine, and knew nothing of the world outside of
his native city. As he stepped out of the back door of the old house,
leading his little sister, he instinctively glanced over his shoulder.
Then he laughed a little at himself.

“‘No p’leecemen here!’ he said aloud, with a chuckle. ‘A feller can
kape onto the grass all he wants.’

“It was very slow walking, for Shock was not an accomplished
pedestrian, even on brick sidewalks; and here the ground was very
uneven. Besides, it must be confessed that her temper was rather
uncertain, and on this particular hot afternoon she constantly
required soothing. But Patsy cared little for this. He had been used
to taking care of his baby sister almost ever since she was born, and
he patiently submitted to her whims, now stopping to disentangle her
little bare feet from briery vines, now lifting her in his arms and
bearing her over an unusually rough spot. So they went on, across the
field, over a tiny brook, through a narrow belt of woods, and out upon
an open pasture, which bulged up here and there like a great quilt,
with patches of moss and grass, and with round juniper bushes for
buttons. At least, this was the image that vaguely suggested itself to
Patsy as he tugged his hot little burden along farther and farther away
from home.

“Suddenly he stopped and looked up.

“‘Sure, it’s comin’ on night,’ said he. ‘The sun’s gone entirely, it
is. We must be goin’ back.’

“But Shock had reached the limit of feminine endurance, and declined,
with all the firmness of her nature, this unexpected move. She objected
to that extent that she sat down hard on the ground, and wailed with
heat and weariness.

“Patsy was a little nonplussed, for it was growing very dark. He was
acquainted with Shock’s resources of resistance, and hesitated to call
them forth. While he deliberated he winked and winced at the same
moment; a broad drop of water had struck full upon his upturned face.

“‘Come out o’ that, Shockie,’ he cried, ‘we _must_ go now. The rain is

“Thereupon Shock made her next move, which was to lie flat on her back
and cry louder. She hadn’t begun to kick yet, but Patsy knew she would.

“Another great drop fell, and another. It grew bright about them, then
suddenly darker than ever, as if somebody had lighted the gas and blown
it out.

“Hark! Rumble, rumble, boom, bo-o-m--bo-o-m! Patsy pricked up his ears;
for even a city boy knows thunder, though it is half drowned by the
roar of the wagons and pavements. Without more words he dived at Shock,
and bore her away struggling, across the pasture. It had grown so dark
that he could not well see where to put his feet, so he fell once or
twice, bruising his wrists badly. But he managed to tumble in a way to
save Shock, so it didn’t matter.

“There was a moaning and rustling sound in the far-off forests that
notched the horizon on every side. Then the wind and the rain joined
hands, and rushed forward wildly with a mighty roar that appalled the
boy, staggering under his heavy load.

“He halted, and crouched in a little hollow. The voice of the storm now
quite swept away the feeble crying of the exhausted child in his arms.
As he cast a wild look about him, like a hunted rabbit, a brilliant
flash of lightning showed for an instant what promised a refuge which,
slight though it might be, seemed blessed compared with this bare field
where the storm was searching for him with its terrible, gleaming eyes
and hollow voice. If he could only reach that spot, Patsy thought,
he would feel easy. It was a single huge elm-tree, like those on the
Common, only standing quite alone in the pasture. It would be such a
nice place in a thunder-storm--poor Patsy!

“A dim recollection of the prayers the mission people had taught him,
came into his mind. But he couldn’t think of anything but, ‘Now I lay
me,’ so he concluded to try for the tree first, and say his prayers
after he got there.

“He lifted Shock once more in his aching arms, and started.

“But God heard his little heart-prayer above all the booming of the
thunder; and this was how He answered it.

“The boy was getting on bravely, when Shock, whose fright was renewed
by the motion, gave a sudden struggle. His foot slipped,--down, down he
went, into a gully that had lain, unseen, across his path. The bushes
broke his fall, but he lay a moment quite breathless and discouraged.
But it would not do to remain so; for there was Shock, by no means
injured, and crying lustily. Patsy picked himself up, and felt about
him until his hand struck the side of a large rock. There was a dry
place under one side, which projected slightly. He reached for Shock,
and deposited her in this sheltered spot, on some leaves the wind had
blown in there last autumn. He wished he could get in, too; but there
was barely room for one.

“‘Told, told,’ moaned Shock, shivering, and drawing up her little limbs.

“Without an instant’s hesitation Patsy threw off his wet jacket, and
tucked it round her. In three minutes he knew by her stillness and
regular breathing that she was asleep.

“Then he began to be cold--very cold himself. Every whizzing rain-drop
seemed like ice, striking on his bare feet and bruised hands. If he
could only have that jacket, or put his feet in with Shock under it
just for a minute!

“‘I don’t s’pose she’d know,’ he said to himself, with chattering
teeth. ‘But I won’t--no, I won’t. A feller must look out fer his

“Then he remembered the prayers again; and the best thing he could
think of was the psalm he had been taught only the Sunday before. He
cuddled up as close to the rock as he could, and began:

“‘The Lord is my shepherd--I shall--I shall--’ Here he forgot, and had
to commence again.

“‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall--not--want nothin’. He maketh me
to lie down in green pastures--’ Patsy paused, and peered into the
darkness doubtfully. ‘I dunno,’ he said, ‘as I want--’

“He never finished that sentence. And this was what interrupted him. A
great shimmering, glittering flash, that filled all the air, and at the
very same moment an awful crash--and the storm beat down upon a little
white face, upturned silently to the black sky.

       *       *       *       *       *

“‘Hallo--hallo--o--o!’ The shout rang out clear and strong on the
evening air. Far off among the hills the last rumble of thunder was
dying away.

“‘They must have gone along here,’ cried Farmer Coburn; ‘hold your
lantern, Tom--see, there’s their tracks.’

“‘Hallo! hallo--o--o!--Why, what--’ What makes Farmer Coburn stop so
suddenly, and then dart forward with one of the lanterns? A wee sound,
and a sad, sad sight. The sound is the waking voice of Shock, who turns
uneasily on her bed of dry leaves; the sight is a little white face,
upturned to the star-dotted sky.

“How those rough men bent over the little fellow, the tears running
over their cheeks, as they noticed the jacket!

“‘He’s alive!’ shouts Tom, with a half-sob, catching the boy up in his
arms, ‘he’s only stunned. The lightnin’ must have struck round here
somewhere, just near enough to knock him over. He’s comin’ to now!’

“And Patsy comes. He soon as he can talk, he tells them about it.

“‘Why,’ he says, straightening up in Tom’s arms (Shock is sound asleep
again, with her tousled head bobbing on Farmer Coburn’s shoulder at
every step)--‘why, there’s the tree, sure--’

“The men looked, and turned away with a shudder. The noble elm would
never again lift its green boughs toward the sky. Scorching, rending,
shattering, the red lightning had torn its way down the huge trunk,
throwing the fragments on every side, and leaving the twisted fibres
thrust into the air, white and bare, in a way that told of the terrible
force that had had the mastery of them.

“Patsy thought it all over very soberly. He remembered his prayer and
his psalm.

“‘I dunno--’ he said.”

       *       *       *       *       *

As uncle Will ceased, his auditors were very still; thinking, perhaps,
how they too had been kept safely from the fury of the tempest on the
lonely mountain-side.

Ruel now looked out and announced that the storm was over; and indeed
there was hardly need of telling it, for the sunbeams came dancing
down to the little birch camp with the same story. Out poured the
young folks, the girls holding their skirts daintily from contact with
the dripping undergrowth, of which, fortunately, there was not an
abundance. The brook was much higher than before, and laughed and spoke
in deeper tones; as if, like many a young human life, it had grown old
during the storm, and was no longer a child.

The whole party now “broke camp” and turned their faces homeward. Their
feet they could not keep dry, of course; but they were not far from The
Pines, and they knew that aunt Puss was waiting for them with dry socks
and a good supper.

Down the path they ran, filling the air with their shouts and laughter.
Ruel came last, with a huge bundle of bark, made from the sheets they
had used on the hut.

“No use to leave it there,” he said, in answer to Randolph’s laughing
question. “In a week ’twould jest be good fer spiders to live in--all
curled up in the sun. Daown ’t the house we c’n use it fer your uncle’s
fires, this tew months.”



There was great excitement at The Pines. Randolph and Tom had practised
several times with the Readville Base-Ball Nine, as I have said,
Randolph taking the lead, finally, of the whole club. On a certain
afternoon, about a week after the mountain tramp, a dozen or more boys
were gathered on the little open plot of ground which the Readville
people called the “Common,” eagerly discussing a subject which was
interesting enough to make their eyes sparkle and their voices all
chime in together as they talked.

“Now, hold on, fellows,” exclaimed one of the tallest, raising his hand
for silence. “We may as well do this business up squarely on the spot.
I’ll read the challenge, if you’ll all keep still.”

The boys threw themselves on the ground, and in various easy attitudes
prepared to listen.

Randolph, who was speaker, remained standing, and drawing a paper from
his pocket, read as follows:

  “The Jamestown High School Nine hereby challenge the Readville Nine
  to a game of base-ball, to be played on Readville Common, on the
  afternoon of next Saturday, at three o’clock--”

“Next Saturday!” interjected one of the listeners.

  “--five innings to count a game if stopped by rain. League rules to
  be followed.

                                                         “HIRAM BLACK,
                                         “Captain Jamestown B. B. Nine.”

A chorus of cheers and cat-calls broke out immediately on the
conclusion of the challenge; but Randolph raised his hand once more.

“The question is, Shall we accept? Those in favor say ‘Aye!’”

A tremendous shout rent the air.

“Those opposed, ‘No!’”

Dead silence.

“It is a vote. Now for positions and players.”

So far, there had been no dispute as to Randolph’s authority. He had
such a pleasant way of getting on with the boys that they followed his
lead willingly.

When they came to the choice of positions, however, there was a little
more feeling. As to first, second and third base, the matter was easy
enough. There were two fellows who played shortstop well, but they were
warm friends, and each was ready to yield to the other.

Dick Manning was acknowledged to be the best pitcher in town, having a
“drop twist” which he had gained by days of practice, at odd moments,
behind his father’s barn, and upon which he greatly prided himself in a
modest way.

Up to this point all went smoothly.

“Now, as to catcher,” said Randolph. “I know it’s a show place, and I
don’t want to put myself forward. But it’s an important game, and I
_think_ I understand Dick’s delivery better than the rest of you. Bert
Farnum is a tip-top hand behind the bat, I know; but--”

Randolph hesitated as he saw Bert look down and dig his heel into the
ground, half sullenly.

Bert was a graceful player, a strong hitter and swift thrower. His
chief trouble was uncertainty. You couldn’t depend either on his temper
or his nerve in a closely-contested game. Randolph knew this, and now
endeavored to smooth over matters by suggesting that Bert should play
centre-field at first, and come in for a change during the close of
the game, if necessary.

Right and left-fielders were easily appointed, and the boys seized
their bats and balls for a couple of hours’ practice.

Bert excused himself gruffly, and wandered down by the river alone.
He wanted catcher’s position for that game, and felt defrauded by his

All the girls from the institute would be sure to come and cluster
around the in-field, while the centre-fielder would be stationed away
off by himself, with, perhaps, not a single chance to win applause.

Bert’s father was one of the wealthiest men in town, and the boy was
used to having his own way.

Only yesterday, a fine new catcher’s mask had come up from the city. Of
course, he had meant to lend it freely to the nine in all their games;
but now he resolved he would say nothing about it. The old mask was
nearly worn out, and, if struck at certain points, was sure to hurt the

If Randolph Percival was so particular about catching, he could wear
the old thing, for all Bert cared.

Having gone so far as this, the unhappy boy suddenly hit upon another
scheme to obtain his revenge. He stopped short and scowled darkly.

“I’ll do it,” he said to himself; then turned and walked homeward,
meditating all the way on the surest means to accomplish his purpose.

It was no less than to bring about the defeat of his own companions.
How he succeeded will be seen.

There were only four days before the afternoon set for the match, and
uncle Will found his young folks so full of the coming game that they
could think of nothing else. Tom, who made a lively third base, seemed
for the time to have forgotten his troubles, and entered heartily into
the sport. Dick Manning came over from the village every afternoon, and
tried his favorite “delivery” with Randolph, who practised catching
whenever he could get anybody to throw balls at him. He was continually
enticing little Bridget out to perform this duty, which she did with
such earnestness and energy that he had to fairly beg for mercy.

[Illustration: KITTIE AT WORK.]

It was wonderful to see how the little North Street waif expanded and
grew, mentally, physically and morally, in this pure air, and under
the gentle teaching of aunt Puss, who had received her with open
arms. The girl’s sallow cheeks grew plump and wholesome to look at;
her dull eyes brightened; she worked, or tried to, all day, and slept
soundly all night. She even learned to play a little, which was the
hardest of all. When Randolph had gravely suggested that she could
make herself useful by throwing a ball at him, out in the orchard, she
accepted the proposition in perfect good faith.

“Sure I wull,” said Bridget, taking the ball from Randolph’s hand.

Her throws, he found, were just wild enough to give him practice; while
their velocity left nothing to be desired. She flung the ball at him
as if she were determined to annihilate him on the spot. It was only
when he rolled over in the grass, laughing and crying for mercy, that a
bewildered smile came into her face.

“Sure ye tould me fire hard, thin,” she said slowly, tossing back her
long hair.

“So I did, Bridget. And if ever I get back to Boston, I’ll propose your
name as champion pitcher in the League team!”

The little Irish girl having retired, Pet, who just then came up,
offered to take her place; but her services were gratefully declined.
Pet’s soft but erratic tosses were already only too familiar to the

Well, the great day came at last. The wagon was filled, immediately
after dinner, and the whole party, with uncle Will at the reins,
drove over to Readville. They stationed themselves on the edge of
the base-ball grounds, where Randolph said they could obtain a good
view, and their team would not be in the way of the players. The air
was warm, but a gentle westerly breeze, mountain-cooled, prevented
discomfort from the heat.

By two o’clock, groups of young people, in twos and threes, began to
stroll toward the Common.

Already a number of players were on hand engaged in vigorous
practice, their jaunty uniforms showing prettily against the green,
closely-cropped ball-field. The Jamestown nine wore blue stockings and
gray suits; the “Readvilles,” white, with red stockings.

The crowd increased. At about a quarter before three, two of the
players, one from each nine, separated at a distance from the Common,
and came to it from different directions.

One of them was the captain of the “Jamestowns,” a rough, black-eyed
fellow, whom nobody liked, but who was a fine player. The other was
Bert Farnum.

As the hour for the game drew near, the excitement in the Percival
wagon was at fever heat. Tom and his cousins were in the field,
practising, and the girls watched eagerly every play the two made.
Randolph wore the old mask, and worked steadily with Dick, a little to
one side. Quite a crowd of Jamestown people had come over to witness
the game and cheer for their nine, who were considerably heavier than
their opponents. The knowing ones among the spectators gave their
opinion that if the “Readvilles” were to win, they would have to do it
by spryness in the field; the “Jamestowns” would bat more effectively,
and throw well. Bert Farnum was spoken of as a splendid thrower, on
whom much depended.

“They say that Boston fellow, Percival, is a master hand,” said one
broad-shouldered young farmer who had sauntered up within hearing of
the wagon-party. “Jest look at him now, practisin’! He ketches them
swift, twisty balls like clockwork!”

Kitty and Bess pinched each other, and their faces glowed with pride.

“I knew it,” whispered Kittie confidentially to Pet, “but I like to
hear somebody else say it, just the same.”

Further conversation was suddenly hushed by a movement among the
players. Three o’clock had arrived, and in presence of the umpire the
two captains tossed up a cent. The “Readvilles” won the toss, and sent
their opponents to the bat.

As the red-stockings walked past them into the field, the Jamestown
captain winked at Bert, who nodded slightly in return, blushing at the
same time and glancing over his shoulder to see if he was observed.

“Low ball--play!” called the umpire.

Dick Manning drew himself up, looking carelessly about the field; then
suddenly, with a swift movement, sent the white ball whizzing directly
over the plate, about two feet from the ground.

“One strike!” shouted the umpire.

The Jamestowner looked surprised, and before he had gathered himself
for the next ball it was past him again and in the hands of Randolph,
who waited till the umpire called “Strike, two!” and then ran up
behind the bat, adjusting the old mask over his face.

The next two balls delivered were wide. The third was just right, and
the Jamestowner hit with all his force. It soared far up in the air,
toward the centre-field.

“Bert! Bert Farnum!” cried Randolph as two or three of the fielders
started for the ball.

Bert ran, and stretched out his hands--a little awkwardly, his friends
thought. The next moment the ball struck the ground six feet away, and
the striker was safe on second base.

A prolonged “Oh-h-h!” came involuntarily from the crowd, and Bert
returned with a sullen air to his station, after fielding the ball.

The Jamestowns now succeeded in getting the striker and another man
round the bases. Randolph put out the third, by running a long distance
under a foul fly, almost reaching the wagon before he secured it.

The “Readvilles” were retired without making a run. Score, 2 to 0, in
favor of Jamestown. The girls clenched their hands in silence, while
the Jamestown people on the other side of the grounds cheered lustily.

The game proceeded, and was contested hotly at every point. The
visitors seemed possessed with but one ambition, and that was to knock
the ball down to centre. Time and again it started in that direction,
but dropped short, or into the hands of one of the other fielders.

At last the ninth inning was reached. The score was a tie--eight to
eight. “Jamestown” came to the bat, and two men went out in quick
succession, one on afoul fly, the other at first base. The third
striker got the ball just where he wanted it, and sent it high up in
Bert’s direction.

Now, Bert had already begun to repent of the treacherous part he was
playing. Here was a chance to redeem himself. He made a desperate run
backward for the ball, but tripped and fell just as it was coming to
his hands. Again he heard that long note of dismay from his friends.
The sound nerved him. Leaping to his feet, he darted after the ball
like a deer, and, picking it up lightly, as it rolled, faced about. The
runner was making the round of the bases, amid the shouts and jeers of
the Jamestown people who had come over to see the game.

Bert gathered himself for a mighty effort, and, drawing back his arm,
threw the ball with all his strength. Randolph was waiting for it
eagerly, with his foot on the home-plate. It seemed impossible that the
ball could get there in time, and the Jamestowners cheered more lustily
than ever, as the blue stockings went flying along the base-line toward
home; but still more swiftly came the ball, sent with unerring aim from
Bert’s far-away arm.

Just a wee fraction of a second before the runner touched the plate the
ball settled into Randolph’s hands, which swung round like lightning,
and Jamestown was out--score, 8 to 8.

On coming in with his side for their last turn at the bat, Bert found
himself all at once a hero.

“Never was such a throw seen on the grounds!” they said; and poor Bert
hung his head, and answered not a word.

The spectators were now fairly breathless with excitement. The score
tied, and Readville at the bat for the last time.

Tom, whose turn it was, took his place amid encouraging shouts from his
side. After a nervous “strike,” he made a good hit that carried him
to second, where he seemed likely to be left, as the next two at the
bat struck easy flies, and went out. It was Bert’s turn. Heretofore
he had purposely struck out every time he came to the bat. Now his
hands clenched the stick firmly, and he braced his feet as if he meant
business. The crowd saw the slight movement, and cheered to encourage

“Strike one!” called the umpire, as the ball flew over the plate a
little higher than Bert wanted it.

“Strike two!”

Still not just right. Bert waited calmly. The crowd were silent, and
looked downcast. Suddenly they gave a wild cheer. Hats were flung into
the air, and handkerchiefs waved. Bert had made a terrific hit, sending
the ball far beyond the rightfielder. In another moment Tom had reached
home, and scored the winning run--score, Readvilles, 9; Jamestowns, 8.

The great match was finished.



As soon as the excitement over the base-ball match had died away, Tom’s
moodiness returned. It was now near the end of August, and the little
party at the Pines began to show signs of breaking up. Kittie and her
sister, with Tom, were to meet their father and mother at Portland
on the twenty-fifth of the month, returning to Boston in season for
school. Randolph, too, was due in the Latin School ranks on September
fifth; Pet received a letter from her family, telling her to join them
at the mountains at about the same time.

As the remaining days of vacation rapidly dwindled, the fun, on the
contrary, increased. Bert Farnum had a long talk with Randolph, shortly
after the match, and made a clean breast of his treachery, telling
him how he had suffered from remorse at the unmanly part he had
played in the earlier part of the great game, and how repentant he
was for the whole affair. The result of this confession was that the
two boys became firm friends, and Bert, in company with Dick Manning
and a good-natured sister Polly, often joined the Bostonians in their
mountain tramps, hay-cart rides, and other good times.

Old Sebattis and his wife were reported as encamped near the county
road, fifteen miles away. Of course, nothing had been heard of the
watch, the secret of its whereabouts being locked in the breast of one
unhappy boy.

One hot, sultry afternoon, when the rest had gone off to the woods on
a picnic, Tom started alone for his favorite hiding-place in the cliff
near the alder run. He walked slowly down the path, looking neither to
right nor left, and seeing nothing of the beauty of flower and bird and
tree about him. He was saying over and over to himself, “I’ll do it! I
won’t stand it any longer! I’ll do it this very afternoon!”

He made his way across the field, down through the pasture, and along
the dry brook-channel to the drooping beech-tree. Glancing about him
carelessly, from mere habit, he swung himself up to the trunk and
clambered into the snug nook among the ferns.

Had he, for once, scrutinized his surroundings more earnestly, and
peered around the corner of the large fallen bowlder at the foot of
the cliff, he might have seen two dark eyes fastened upon him, from
among the undergrowth. Their gaze was so full of spite and low cunning
that it would have been well for Tom had he caught a glimpse of them
and sprung away at once. But without a thought of danger, his mind
concentrated on one object alone, he reached his high perch, and seated
himself on a rock to regain his breath.

Already his face had a better expression than it had worn for weeks.
His lips were set, as if with a firm and noble resolve; his eyes
flashed with the light that always shines full on the face that is
turned toward the Right. It was plain that Tom had made up his mind at
last, and was happier for it, whatever might be the consequences.

After resting a few moments, he carefully removed a few odd bits of
stone and moss from the mouth of a crevice in the rock, and drew out
Pet’s watch. He at once examined it thoroughly, holding it to his ear
as he had done on a previous occasion.

“Yes,” said he to himself, with great satisfaction, “it’s all right.
One good rub, to brighten it up, and in fifteen minutes it shall be in
uncle Will’s hands.”

He drew a piece of flannel from his pocket, and polished the case of
the pretty little timepiece, inside and out, until it shone so that
he could see his own face reflected in the gold. Then he placed it
carefully in an inner pocket, and rising to his feet with a sigh of
relief, stepped down toward the slanting trunk of the beech, on which
he was prepared to descend, as usual.

He had no sooner stooped for this purpose, however, when he started
back with an involuntary cry of alarm.

About six feet below him, staring upward with a face full of malignant
cunning, was Sebattis Megone, in the very act of seizing the swaying
limbs of the tree to mount the ledge. The moment he saw that he was
detected, he released his grasp on the boughs, and stood still, looking
up at Tom with an ugly grin.

“Ugh!” he grunted, Indian-fashion. “What boy do on rocks? What he want
in woods?”

Tom glanced about him hastily. If the man had evil intentions, there
was no way of escape. It seemed as if he could feel the little watch
beating against his own heart. He tried to answer with an appearance of

“I come here most every day and read,” he said. “It’s cool in the

“What climb up high for?”

“There’s a good place here to sit down. I like to be alone, sometimes,
don’t you, Sebattis?”

The good-will of the tone was lost on the Indian, who evidently knew
more than he cared to tell.

“Where Gold-hair’s watch?” he asked suddenly and fiercely, to throw Tom
off his guard.

“It was lost that day she fell into the lake.”

“Yis. Me remember. See!” and Sebattis scowled darkly as he laid his
hand on a scar where the broken window, probably, had cut his forehead.

“I am sorry you were hurt,” began Tom, nervously.

“You know where watch is. Give me!”

“Why do you think I know about it?” Tom wanted to gain time. His only
hope was that some one might stray down into the woods within reach
of his voice. As to the cliff, he knew well enough, for he had often
examined it, and even tried the feat in fun once or twice, that it
could not be scaled. From the hollow where he stood, the face of the
rock slanted outward above him, rendering escape in that direction out
of the question.

“If you no give me, I come up and take watch--maybe hurt you!” snarled
the Indian in his guttural tones.

“Hold on,” said poor Tom, at his wit’s end; more anxious, now, for the
safety of the watch than for himself. “It will be easier for me to come
down than for you to climb way up here.”

“You come then--quick!”

The man was plainly growing angry, and laid his hand on his knife as he
spoke, by way of menace.

But Tom had no idea of coming down. Instead of that, he suddenly drew
back a step, and shouted at the top of his lungs,

“_Help! Help! Tim, uncle Percival! Help!_”

For a moment the Indian seemed taken aback at this unlooked-for move,
glancing fearfully over his shoulder as if he expected to hear Tim’s
sturdy footfalls. Then his rage got the better of him, and, grasping
the branches once more, he began to clamber upward.

Fortunately, being rather stout, he could not manage the ascent quite
so nimbly as Tom. The boy, pale as death, sprang back into the furthest
corner of the cavity, intending to fight to the last, in defence of
the watch, the loss of which had brought such sorrow to Pet, and such
disgrace and unhappiness to his own summer vacation at his uncle’s.

What would have been the result of such a struggle, I cannot tell. The
Indian was armed, and the boy would have been but a baby in his hands,
if the issue depended upon mere strength. But at this moment a strange
thing happened.

When Tom drew back into the hollow formed by the angle of the rocks,
he crowded in among the ferns and thick moss further than he had ever
been before. As he did so, he threw one despairing look about him for a
weapon. What seemed to be a loose stone caught his eye. It was covered
with many years’ growth of lichens, but it came up easily in his hand.
As he was stooping to raise it, what was his astonishment to find
beneath it a dark opening into what appeared a sort of inner cave, the
mouth of which had been concealed by rubbish.

With the instinct of a hunted animal, as he heard the boughs of the
beech-tree creak under the weight of his enemy, he tore aside the rocks
and moss which were easily dislodged and in a moment more he was in
the hole, pulling the largest stone within reach over the mouth of his
strange retreat as he disappeared within it.

His first sensation was one of relief. The Indian, he knew, would
hesitate about entering a trap like this, where his unseen foe might
spring upon him from any side. Already his footsteps were heard, on the
stones above, and his short, surprised grunt when he found his victim
had sunk into the ground like a mole. He was beginning to cautiously
remove the rubbish from the opening, when Tom thought it was time to
beat a further retreat.

At first, plunging suddenly into darkness out of the sunny afternoon,
he had been able to see nothing. Now the few rays of light that entered
enabled him to distinguish the nature of his surroundings. He found
that he was in a little rocky chamber, perhaps ten feet square and half
as many high, partly natural and partly cleared by the hand of man;
as he could tell by the regular arrangement of stones here and there.
At the further end was a blacker space than anywhere else. He moved
across the cave, and found that this was the entrance to an inner
tunnel or passage-way, apparently leading to still further recesses.
The Indian had now ceased work, and Tom felt more nervous than when he
could hear him scratching and digging at the mouth of the cave. There
seemed nothing for it but to keep on, in the black passage, where the
darkness, at least, would favor him. He had to get down on his hands
and knees, as this inner opening was less than three feet in diameter;
and in this way he crawled ahead, into the depths of the little cave.

Up to this moment he had never stopped to reason out the possible cause
for such a queer, underground chamber. Now it suddenly flashed upon
him that it must be the secret passage-way that his uncle had told
about; for although Tom had not been in the room when Mr. Percival had
described this ancient provision for escape in case of sudden attack,
he had heard his sisters speak of it afterward. Where it came out, he
did not know; but the thought that he must be moving toward the house
gave him new courage.

Making as little noise as possible, he crept along the passage-way,
hoping every minute that it would expand to a size sufficient to allow
of his walking erect. After a short halt for rest, he started on again,
having made such good progress that he believed he must be half-way to
the house. Two or three times he bumped his head, but he paid little
attention to bruises. So far he was safe, with the watch in his pocket,
from his ugly pursuer.

He had not gone a dozen feet, however, when he came to a second halt,
his heart beating fast. What was the matter with the boy? With a good
chance of escape before him, and half of the tunnel passed, he ought
to have been pressing forward. But here he was, crouching almost flat
to the earth, stock still, as if afraid to advance another inch. What
could be the matter? Tom could have told you very quickly, what he had
been suspecting for the last five minutes, and what was now true beyond
a question. _The passage-way was contracting!_ Instead of growing wider
and higher it was now so small that he could barely squeeze through
on his hands and knees. Presently he lay down at full length, and
wriggled along, the perspiration pouring from every inch of his body,
the earth falling in a fine shower about his hair and neck. What if
the tunnel should come to an end? Should he remain there wedged in
this terrible place, _buried alive_? Ah, this was not all that made Tom
tremble, and urge his way still more earnestly through the narrowing
tunnel. When he had paused, a moment before, he had heard, plainly as
through a speaking-tube, a slight disturbance, a sound of scratching,
the fall of a distant rock in the passage behind him. He could not hide
from himself the meaning of those sounds. The Indian had explored the
cave, had discovered his method of escape, and was now actually in the
tunnel, in close pursuit.



Mr. Percival had spent a busy half-day in the open air, superintending
matters on his farm. There were early potatoes to be dug, heavily
laden branches of apple and pear trees to be propped up, and a small,
low-lying piece of meadow-land to be mown. Slowly the deliberate oxen
had plodded to and fro, with the heavy cart creaking and thumping
behind them; while Tim or Ruel tramped beside, urging them on with an
occasional “Haw! Ha’ Bright! Gee! Star!”

Mr. Percival was a good farmer, and nothing “shiftless” could be found
on his place. The barn was always fresh and sweet, fences and walls
upright; and even the pigs seemed to enjoy a clean, dry corner in their
pen where they could lie in the sunshine and grunt contentedly in their

In the afternoon the men had their work well laid out, and the master
retired for an hour or two, as was often his custom, to the “Den.” The
little windows, above and on the side, were wide open, the air that
floated in was cooled by the shadows of the many-elled old house. Now
and then came the faint sounds of Tim’s encouraging shout to his oxen,
a cackle or long-drawn crow from the poultry-yard, the bark of a dog,
digging at a squirrel-hole under the wall.

Mr. Percival stretched himself out comfortably in an old cane-seat
chair, having taken from its shelf a copy of Thackeray’s “Henry
Esmond,” and began to read. As the story was perfectly familiar to him,
he opened the book in the middle, striking into the narrative where
Colonel Esmond--one of the finest gentlemen in story--went to the wars
under gallant old General Webb.

The air was soft and warm, and the out-door rustle of wind and bough
so soothing, after the hard forenoon’s work, that Mr. Percival’s fancy
began to play him queer tricks. He thought that lovely Beatrix Esmond
was nodding and smiling to him through the little casement, and he was
about to speak to her when he returned to consciousness with a start,
laughed to himself as he saw the bit of apple-bough, with sunlight
playing on the leaves, that had tricked him; fixed his eyes on the
book again, read six lines, and went sound asleep.

His dreams still followed the course of the book he had been reading.
He thought he was in England, and that Ruel was the exiled heir to
the throne, whom it was his business to support; but that aunt Puss
persisted in wearing diamonds at court and purring constantly (the
maltese kittens had trotted into the Den and one of them jumped into
Mr. Percival’s lap) while Ruel himself proceeded to ride about the
room on a base-ball bat, in a manner quite inconsistent with royal
dignity. Beatrix then came on the scene, but she talked with a brogue
and confided to him, Mr. Percival, that her real name was Bridget, and
that she had a yoke of oxen which were trained to gallop off with a
fire-engine at every alarm. In fact, the oxen (who had been all the
time eating hay behind Ruel’s throne) now advanced, and holding a
hose-pipe in their paws--they were now very large red cats, he noticed
carelessly--began to play on the fire.

The curious part of it was that the hose-pipe did not play water at
all, but cannon-balls. Indeed, it was not hose, on closer view, but
cannon, which aunt Puss, commanding the English forces, was firing
against the French.

_Boom! Boom!_ went the cannon. The noise of the conflict was terrible.
Aunt Puss stopped purring and rode off on one of the cats, which were
now oxen once more.

_Boom! Boom! Boom!_ It fairly shook the room--no, the fort--that
is--yes--what!--could it be? Mr. Percival rubbed his eyes and sat
upright in his chair. Thackeray had dropped upon the floor; a few
gray hairs in his lap, and a fading sensation of warmth in the same
locality, betrayed the recent presence of Kittie. But--

_Boom! boom! boom!_ The cannonading went on! Now fairly awake, Mr.
Percival recognized the fact that there was an energetic pounding
against the floor directly beneath his feet.

“Bless me!” exclaimed the good man aloud, jumping up and surveying the
carpet suspiciously, “what can it be?”

The cellar, he knew, extended under the Den. That is, the base of
the old chimney had been there, and--ah! that long disused passage!
The little stone chamber under the arches, where one could stifle so
easily, the girls had thought! A muffled cry, sounding strangely like
“Help!” now accompanied the blows, which seemed lessening in force.

Hesitating no longer, and dismissing from his mind the silly
ghost-stories that had been handed down in the family, from old times,
he knelt and tore up the strip of straw matting that covered the spot
at which the blows seemed to be directed; at the same time knocking
back, in answer.

“It may be some of the boys’ fun,” he said to himself, “but it won’t do
to run any risks.”

The straw matting being removed, there appeared a square, dimly marked
out in the flooring, by the edges of boards which had apparently been
let in, long after the neighboring portions.

“The old trap-door!”

Mr. Percival recognized the place instantly; at the same time he was
puzzled to know how to act. For the door had long ago been removed, and
these short sections of planks nailed down in its place.

“Hold on!” he shouted. “I’ll be back in a minute!”

Very nimbly, for a man of his years, he hurried out of the room, and
presently returned with tools--an axe, a large, heavy chisel, a saw,
and a kind of sharp-pointed hammer, like an ice-pick. With the aid of
these, he soon had the end of one board, then another, pried up. It
must be confessed that he was startled by the apparition that emerged
from the opening thus effected. Could that be Tom! A face, deadly
white, but streaked with perspiration and dust, and bleeding from a
bruise on the forehead; clothes, hands, every part of him, covered with
dirt; eyes half-blinded by the sudden light, form trembling from head
to foot; it was altogether a strange figure to come up through uncle
Will’s floor--but Tom it was, beyond a doubt.

“O uncle Will,” he sobbed brokenly, the tears running over his
mud-stained cheeks, “I’m so sorry. Here’s the watch!”

And to Mr. Percival’s utter bewilderment, the boy laid Pet’s little
watch in his hands, safe and whole.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a long story, but Tom managed to tell it. At the very first,
he spoke with a shudder of the Indian, and Mr. Percival despatched
Ruel and Tim to the woods, rightly judging that the pursuit of Tom
had ceased. The men returned within a few minutes and reported that
Sebattis had been seen limping away toward the road, covered with mud.
He had turned and shaken his fist at them, but on the whole seemed more
frightened than angry, and mainly anxious to get as far away from the
farm as possible.

“And now about the watch,” said Mr. Percival gravely, but kindly, as
soon as the farm-hands had left the room.

Tom hung his head still lower, but launched manfully into his

“I took it out of Pet’s pocket for fun,” he said, “very soon after
we started on our walk, that morning. Then I tucked it into Kitty’s
sacque, with the chain hanging out.”

“Where Moll saw it!” exclaimed Mr. Percival, a light breaking in on him.

“Yes, sir, I suppose so. After that, we came to the Indians, and Pet
fell into the pond, and I forgot all about it. Just as I was going to
bed, I heard the girls say something about a watch being lost, and it
came to me that it was my fault. I felt awfully about it that night,
and hardly slept a bit. Next morning I tried to get a chance to tell
you about it--do you remember, sir? but you were busy; and instead
of _making_ you hear, or owning up at once, about my carelessness and
foolish trick, I thought I would put it off; perhaps the watch would be
found; perhaps the Indians took it, after all.”

“But why didn’t you tell me frankly, that afternoon, my boy?”

“I was ashamed to; and after the trial, it was all the harder. Then--I
found the watch! It was tucked into an old stump, near the spot where
the Indian babies, the little pappooses, had been playing. I suppose
one of them had picked it up and hidden it there.

“Now was the time, I know, sir, when I ought to have told. But every
minute made it harder. I was afraid Randolph would be ashamed of me,
and the girls wouldn’t like me, and you would be angry for all the
trouble I had made, and the expense of the sheriffs and everything.
Besides,” continued the boy eagerly, “really and truly, sir, I did
mean, every day, to give the watch back--every day. But--somehow--it
grew harder and harder, and I didn’t. It began to seem now as if I had
stolen it!”

It was a poor, miserable story of a weak boy’s foolishness; for Tom
was weak, and cowardly, too. A little manliness at the start would have
prevented all the shame and wretchedness.

Don’t you see how he could do it? Do you wonder how he could wish to
keep the secret, for such silly reasons?

Stop a moment. Are you quite sure that you yourself would have done
differently? Have you not, even now, some little uncomfortable secret
hidden in your heart, that you had rather father or mother would not
know? If you have, let me beg you to turn down a leaf, or put in a
book-mark, at this very page, and go this moment to those dear hearts
who are so ready to hear everything and forgive everything with that
wonderful love of theirs which is most of anything on earth, like the
love of our Father above.

Tom kept nothing back, but related all his faults, his concealments,
his misgivings. At length his narrative reached the point at which we
stopped in the last chapter, where he felt the passage narrowing, and
the Indian following behind.

“I made one more push,” he said, “and this time wasn’t I glad to find
that the tunnel was just a little larger? It was like an hour-glass;
and I had passed the narrowest part, in the middle! As soon as I was
sure of this, I felt about for some means to block the passage of the
Indian. I dug with all my might into the earth, and pretty soon struck
a good-sized rock. This almost filled the space, and, with the loose
dirt around it, I hoped would discourage Sebattis--as I guess it did.

“I struck my forehead on a sharp stone and made it bleed, though I
didn’t know that till just now. At the end of the tunnel was a little
stone chamber and a half a dozen wooden steps leading up to the floor.
These were so old that they crumbled when I stepped on them; but I
managed to climb up on the side wall, and strike with a rock on the
boards overhead. I was afraid every moment that the Indian might be
upon me, and oh! I was so glad when I heard your voice!”

What further words passed between the repentant boy and his uncle, Tom
never told. An hour later he came out of the Den, walked up to Pet
(who had returned from her ride) with a white face but firm step, and
placing the watch and chain in her hands, said, with trembling lips,

“I took it for fun, Pet, and was ashamed to tell--”

He could get no further, and Pet, after one glance at his face, forgave
him on the spot. Nor did she ever ask him a single question about her
lost watch.



Who can describe the long, peaceful days of early autumn in the
country? To our boys and girls at uncle Will’s, the hours were full
of delight, though there were no more hair-breadth escapes, and no
fatiguing expeditions undertaken.

On the day after Tom’s adventure with the Indian, Mr. Percival visited
the old ledge with his men, and placing a charge of blasting powder in
the mouth of the cave, tumbled the overhanging rocks together in such
a way that the passage was closed forever. The boy slowly regained his
cheerfulness, and, rather shyly, took part in the pleasuring of the

Only two days now remained before the party was to break up.

There was little time for story-telling, for the girls were busy,
packing various collections of ferns, moss, and other memorials of
their good times in field and forest; and their kind host was occupied
from morning till night, in overseeing the fall work on the farm.

One evening, however, as they were sitting under one of the aged elms,
near the house, the conversation turned upon mountains and mountain

“Did you and that boy--wasn’t his name Fred?--ever have any more
adventures together?” asked Pet.

“Oh, yes, a good many, my dear. If you’re not too sleepy, I can tell
you about a bit of a dangerous climb I once had myself, when we two
were abroad together.”

The moonlight rested softly on the little circle, and on uncle Will’s
face, as he talked. Pet put her hand in his, and begged him to go on.
It was their last story for the summer.

“We were both pretty well tired out, one July evening when we reached
Chamounix. Fred could bear mountain-climbing, and, what was worse,
mule-back riding, much better than I, so that, while I was glad to find
my way to my room, in the top of the queer old hotel, at an early hour
in the evening, Fred remained in the parlor, busily studying up maps
and guides for an excursion over the Mer de Glace to the ‘Garden,’ a
small, fertile spot, surrounded by eternal ice, in the very heart of
the mountains.

[Illustration: QUIET MOMENTS.]

“Next morning, he was off at four o’clock, leaving me to spend the day
quietly in the valley. I was disturbed but once more before rising;
this time by a herd of goats, who scrambled along under my windows,
with bells tingling merrily enough.

“In the course of the forenoon, I strolled away, book in hand,
following the course of the Arve for a little while, and then striking
off at right angles, up the banks of a small brook, which joins the
larger stream just above the village.

“The air was soft and sweet with summer sunlight and the breath of the
silent forests, reaching from my feet, higher and higher, until the
front rank looked on those desolate, glittering fields of snow that
crown Mount Blanc.

“Beside the brook the velvety turf was dotted with wild forget-me-nots
and pansies, growing there as peacefully as if they were not in the
very track of last year’s avalanche.

“At length I came to a spot where the brook had in ages past strewn
its own path with fragments of huge rocks, which it had loosened and
thrown down from some far-off height, where the foot of man never trod.

“One gigantic bowlder lay completely across the original bed of the
stream, and rose like a wall beside the water, that turned out of its
way, and ran off with a good-natured laugh.

“The sun here lay warm and bright, just counteracting the chill breeze
that came from the glaciers through the narrow gorge. I gathered a few
dry sticks, kindled a fire, merely for company, and nestled comfortably
down into an easy corner to read the rocks, the brook, the sky, and,
if there were time left, my book, which, if I remember rightly, was

“How long I sat there I cannot tell. It must have been two or three
hours, for it was past noon when I looked at my watch, threw the
smouldering firebrands into the brook, and rose to return to the hotel.

“As I did so, I noticed half a dozen footsteps in the steep, sandy bank
that formed the side of the ravine at this point. It suddenly occurred
to me that I had read in my guide-book, while I was sitting in my
own room, six months before, of a certain waterfall, which, from the
description, must surely be on this brook. Yes, I recollected the base
of the zig-zag path, that we had seen as we rode along the valley, on
our way from Tête Noire, late the preceding afternoon.

“I was feeling much refreshed and rested by my siesta, and, by a short
cut up over this embankment, I could doubtless strike that path after a
three minutes’ scramble, as some one had evidently done before me.

“So I would have a little adventure, and see one of the sights of
Chamounix all by myself.

“Certainly there was nothing rash in this resolve, or formidable in the
undertaking; though a certain feebleness resulting from a recent ill
turn at Geneva should have warned me against tasking my strength too

“At any rate, at it I went, laughing at the easiness of the ascent as
I followed the broad footsteps of my predecessor. My calculation was
that I should come out on the path at a point about seventy-five to one
hundred feet above my starting-place.

“Before I had proceeded far, however, the convenient tracks abruptly
ceased. Beyond, and on each side, there was nothing but the gravelly
bank, with here and there a big rock ready to drop at the lightest

“Plainly enough, the first climber had become discouraged at this
point, and had picked his way to the bottom again. As I looked back
I was startled to observe the elevation which I had reached, and I
involuntarily crouched closer to the earth, with a sensation as of
tipping over backwards.

“The movement, slight as it was, dislodged a clump of stones and sand,
which went rolling and plunging down at a great rate to the brook, the
sound of whose waters was now hardly audible. No wonder the man had
given it up! Should I go on, or literally back down, as he had done?

“My pluck was stirred, and although I heartily wished Fred was on hand
with his sympathetic courage, I resolved to complete what I had begun.

“It was tough work. Hands and knees now--and carefully placed every
time, at that. Once I nearly lost my balance by the unexpected yielding
of a large stone, which gave way under my foot. How fearfully long
it was before I heard it smite on the bowlders below! I knew if I
slipped, or missed one step, the impetus of a yard would send me after
the stone. As I looked over my shoulder, it seemed like clinging to the
slope of a cathedral roof, where a puff of wind might be fatal.

“There was no question now as to the course I must take. It was
‘Excelsior’ in sober earnest--only I didn’t have the inspiration of a
maiden, with a tear in her bright blue eye, looking on.

“Steeper and steeper! I was panting heavily in the rarified atmosphere,
and trembling from exhaustion. It was so terribly lonely. Nothing but
the dark forms of the trees, the waste of ice and snow, and now and
then a bird, winging its way silently over the gulf, until my brain
whirled as I watched its slow flight.

“By to-morrow they would miss me, and organize a search, with Fred at
their head. They would find my footprints beside the brook, where I
had leaped carelessly across after pansies; then they would come upon
the blackened traces of the little fire, and the loosened gravel of
the steep bank; they would look upward with a shudder, and search the
harder. Pretty soon one of them would lean over a crevice among the
bowlders, shrink back with a cry of horror, and beckon to the others.
All this if I failed by one step!

“Still I worked on laboriously, often pausing for giddiness or a want
of breath, and digging with my finger-nails little hollows in the hard
bank for my feet.

“Once or twice a long, tough root of grass saved me; and soon, to
my joy, straggling bushes, strong enough to support a few pounds of
weight, thrust their tops through the sand-bed.

“Then came scrubby trees, cedar and fir, oftentimes growing straight
out from a vertical face of rock, and quivering from root to tip as I
drew myself cautiously up.

“I shall never forget the agony of the moment when one of them came out
entirely, and let me fall backward. Fortunately its comrades were near
enough to save me, though it was with rough hands.

“To shorten the story, I climbed at last out upon a small, level spot,
which proved to be the longed-for path.

“Following it painfully up for a few rods, I reached a little hut,
where I found a kind old Frenchwoman, who refreshed me with food and
drink, helped me to make my tattered clothes presentable, and held up
her hands after the demonstrative fashion of her nation, when she heard
of my climb.

“‘Had any one ever ascended to the cataract upon that side?’” I asked.

“‘_Jamais, monsieur; jamais, jamais!_’” (Never, monsieur; never, never.)

“And could she tell me the height from the valley?”

“_Mille pieds._”

“A thousand feet! Well, I had had mountain-climbing enough for one
day, and after a visit to the Cascade, which was close by, I hobbled
down the easy path and back to the hotel, to read ‘Redgauntlet,’ until

“When Fred got back, and heard the story, his eyes were round enough,
as he declared he would not leave me behind again, to play invalid,
until we came in sight of the wharf in East Boston. And he kept his



The morning of the last day at The Pines was full of sunshine. Ruel’s
voice was heard, as early as five o’clock, out by the barn. The young
folks, by a preconcerted plan, all rose at sunrise, in order to make as
long a day as possible, and joined the men, who were milking.

“Well, well,” said Ruel, looking up from his foaming pail, into which
the white streams were drumming merrily, “you _hev_ got up with the
birds this time, sartin!”

“We didn’t want to lose a minute,” answered Kittie rather sadly. “O
Ruel, I wish we could stay till winter!”

“’Twouldn’t do,” replied the other, shaking his head. “Thar’s plenty to
do in the city, an’ everybody has his place. Sometimes I’ve wished--”
but Ruel did not say what he had wished.

“Ruel,” said Bess, after a moment’s silence, “why couldn’t you come to
Boston in the winter and work. Surely you could earn more money there?”

Ruel shook his head again, more soberly than before.

“My place is here with your uncle,” he replied. “I was born and brought
up in these parts. I’m at home in the woods, an’ I couldn’t bear to
walk raound on bricks an’ stones. No, here I be, an’ here I must stay.”

“But wouldn’t you like to spend a month in the city? You said the other
day you had never been there.”

The old trapper seemed at a loss for words, but presently answered: “I
can’t jest tell ye haow I feel abaout it, Bess, but somehaow I sh’d
feel shet in, and kept away from the blue sky. What with lookin’ aout
fer teams an’ horses an’ folks, an’ seem’ all sorts o’ strange sights,
an’ p’raps thinkin’ o’ makin’ money--why, I’m afeerd I shouldn’t feel
so much of a man. In the woods it’s all so still that I can almost hear
the trees a-growin’. Then a bird flies through the baoughs overhead,
an’ I look up an’ see all the firs with their leetle crosses, and the
pines pointin’ up, an’ so I keep lookin’ higher, an’ thar’s the blue,
an’ the clouds, an’ I remember who’s up thar, an’ who made woods an’
birds an’ all!”

The little company of daintily dressed boys and girls felt awed into
silence as they listened to this outburst from the rough preacher,
sitting on a milking-stool, and never forgetting his work, as he
talked. It was a sermon they would remember long after the old barn and
The Pines and Ruel himself were hundreds of miles away.

“What hev ye planned fer to-day?” said Ruel in his ordinary, quiet
tones, breaking the silence that had followed his earnest words.

“O, there’s a lot of packing. The ‘silver rags’ are to be tied up, to
take home. And we’re going to every spot on the farm where we’ve had
good times this lovely summer!”

“I was thinkin’ that p’raps you might like to wind up with a little
fishin’ trip this afternoon.”

“O good! Where shall we go?”

“Right daown by where we were cuttin’ wood last
winter--remember?--thar’s a little brook that always has plenty of
trout in it.”

“That’s first-rate!” exclaimed Randolph. “The girls can take a
lunch--just a small one, without much fuss--and Tom and I will furnish
a string of trout.”

“They’re awful little,” added Ruel, “but they’re sweet’s nuts. You can
ketch a dozen in fifteen minutes.”

The boys had been fishing several times during their vacation, but had
never taken the girls along.

The forenoon was full of both duty and play. Trunks were filled to
the brim and sat upon; great bundles of birch bark were tied up and
labeled. All the cattle received toothsome bits of their favorite
varieties of food, and were bidden goodbye, with strokings and
pattings, all of which they received with abundance of patience and
long sighs.

Meanwhile aunt Puss busied herself in preparing an appetizing little
lunch for the last picnic, and for the morrow’s journey. All the men
were hard at work in the potato patch and the orchard. At about three
o’clock Ruel threw down his hoe and informed the boys, with one of his
quiet laughs, that Mr. Percival had given him a half-day vacation.

“Get your party together,” said he, “and meet me in fifteen minutes out
here by the pasture bars. I’ll have the bait ready. You can bring the
poles you used last Monday.”

With baskets for lunch and for final collections of fresh ferns, the
girls joined the rest, and all started down the long pasture lane
through which they had watched the cattle wandering slowly homeward
so many times during the past weeks. By special invitation the little
Irish girl was included in the party, much to her delight.

In a few minutes they were in the shade of the forest. The pines
whispered softly to them, and the birches, in the little clearings here
and there, fluttered their dainty leaves in the sunlight overhead. No
one felt much like talking and almost the only sound was the occasional
call of a thrush or the piping of a locust in the tree-tops. At length
the brook was reached. The boys rigged their fishing tackle and were
soon busily creeping down the banks of the little stream, uttering an
exclamation now and then, as they captured or lost a lively trout.

The girls threw themselves down on a mossy bank, close beside a tiny
spring which Ruel pointed out. There were fir-trees intermingled with
the pines and hemlocks around it; and on its brink a fringe of ferns
bent over the clear water. Randolph had known of the place before, but
his cousins had never found it.

When the fishermen came back, they found lunch spread upon napkins, and
awaiting only the trout. These Ruel took in hand, dressing and broiling
them with the deftness of an old camper. Sheets of birch bark served
for plates, and the boys whittled out knives and forks from the twigs
of the same tree. Bridget, whose first camping experience it was, sat
motionless, in a state of stupefied wonder and delight.

“Now, sir,” said Pet, addressing Randolph, “we need one thing more. As
it’s a farewell meeting, we ought to have a poem, an original poem.”

“O, his brother--” exclaimed Kittie.

“No,” said Pet decisively, “that won’t do. We’ll give you just twenty
minutes to write one, Randolph. If your brother can do it, of course
you can. One, two, three, begin!”

Fortunately for the boy, who was extremely confused by the sudden
request and the six bright eyes bent upon him, he had been in the habit
of scribbling in a note book such bits of verse as occurred to him when
he was by himself; and this very spring had suggested itself as a
pretty subject for a poem. When the time was up, accordingly, he came
forward with the following, handing it with a low bow to Miss Pet, who
read it aloud:


  Deep within a mountain forest
    Breezes soft are whispering
  Through the dark-robed firs and hemlocks,
        Over Dollie’s Spring.

  Swiftly glides the tiny streamlet,
    While its laughing waters sing
  Sweetest song in all the woodland--
        “I--am--Dollie’s Spring!”

  Round about, fleet-footed sunbeams,
    In a golden, fairy ring
  Dancing, scatter brightness o’er it,
        Pretty Dollie’s Spring!

  In the dim wood’s noontide shadow
    Nod the ferns and glistening
  With a thousand diamond dew-drops
        Bend o’er Dollie’s Spring.

  Shyly, on its mossy border,
    Blue-eyed Dollie, lingering,
  Views the sweet face in the crystal
        Depths of Dollie’s Spring.

  Years shall come and go, and surely
    To the little maiden bring
  Trials sore and joys uncounted,
        While, by Dollie’s Spring,

  Still the firs shall lift their crosses
    Heavenward, softly murmuring
  Prayers for her, where’er she wanders--
        Far from Dollie’s Spring.

“Oh, oh, oh!” cried Kittie and Bess together, as Pet concluded, “who
is Dollie? which one of us is Dollie?” But Randolph only laughed and
wouldn’t tell.

With their gay spirits fully restored--for it is as hard for boys and
girls to keep solemn as for squirrels to keep from climbing--they
told stories, laughed, talked, and raced, all the way home. Supper
over, the evening passed swiftly, and bidding uncle Will and aunt Puss
good-night, they trooped off to their rooms for the last time. Tom and
Randolph were soon asleep, but the girls, I suspect, stayed awake for a
good while, talking over the long, sweet summer days that were ended.
At last brown eyes and blue were closed. High above, out of all reach
of night, but shining down lovingly into it, the stars kept watch over
the old farm-house; and He who neither slumbers nor sleeps, held the
weary child-world in His arms.

       *       *       *       *       *

Did our young friends return home safely? Did they see much of each
other that winter in Boston? Was Randolph successful in school; and how
did they all pass Christmas? There is no room here for answering so
many questions; but you can find out all about them in the next number
of this series,



  Italicized text is surrounded by underscores: _italics_.

  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

  Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been standardized.

  Archaic or alternate spelling has been retained from the original.

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