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Title: Little Hickory: or, Ragged Rob's young republic
Author: Browne, George Waldo
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Little Hickory: or, Ragged Rob's young republic" ***

Transcriber’s Notes:

Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_), and text
enclosed by equal signs is in bold (=bold=).

Additional Transcriber’s Notes are at the end.

       *       *       *       *       *

No. 4



or Ragged Rob’s Young Republic





       *       *       *       *       *


  Ragged Rob’s Young Republic




       *       *       *       *       *

  Copyright, 1901
  By Norman L. Munro

  Little Hickory

       *       *       *       *       *



“I vum! I eenamost feel as if I was lost, though there do seem to be
plenty o’ folks round.”

“Black yer boots and make ’em shine; only cost ye half a dime!” cried
a cheery voice at the speaker’s elbow, and, looking down, the tall man
was surprised to see a specimen of boyhood quite unknown to him. The
features were regular enough, and would have been quite handsome had it
not been for big patches of shoe blacking smeared over cheek and brow.
Blue eyes peered out from the dark stains around them with a roguish
twinkle, and there was a certain fearless independence in his looks
and attitude which could not fail to show the most casual observer
the fearlessness and self-reliance of his nature. It was his clothes,
his general deportment, the air of cool contempt for everything and
everybody around him which caused the stranger fresh from the country
to stare upon the bootblack of the great city with speechless wonder.

“When yer eyes git done working and blinking, mister, p’raps ye will
give yer tongue a chance,” said the young knight of the blacking brush,
beginning to remove from his shoulder the ever-handy kit of his trade.
“Better hev yer brogans shined up, mister; they need it bad.”

The reply of the man showed that something of greater moment to him at
that time than his personal appearance was uppermost in his mind.

“Say, bub, can you tell me where there is a good tavern that a chap
could stop at till to-morrer?”

“Sold ag’in, Ragged Rob!” cried one of half a dozen companions of his
ilk, who had appeared upon the scene from all quarters. “When ye git
through wi’ th’ ol’ hayseed, ye mought as well git out o’ bizness,
for ye won’t hev blackin’ ’nough ter tip a gent’s boot. So long!” and
the crowd beat a hasty retreat, to look for work in a more favorable

“Get a move on you, old mossback, or the cops will haul you in for
obstructing the sidewalks!” muttered a beetle-browed passer-by, who
followed his words with a push which nearly threw the countryman off
his feet.

“Geewhillikins, how the folks do crowd! Beats all natur’. What’s that
you say, bub?”

“I say ye might find sich a stable as ye want by lookin’ in the
right-hand corner. Luck to ye, ennyway,” and the bootblack was speedily
lost in the crowd.

“Drat the leetle feller’s pictur! If I had my thumb and finger on him
I’d pinch his throat for answering a civil question in that oncivil

“What was that you said, friend?” asked a man, who had come hurrying
toward him. “Why, can this be possible?” continued the newcomer,
slapping him on the shoulder. “By Jove, but this is the pleasantest
surprise of my life. Have you just come to New York, Mr. Reyburnbrook?”

By this time the man from the country was able to get a good view of
the speaker, who was a tall, genteel, well-dressed person of middle
life, and he said:

“Guess ye air mistook in your man this time, mister. I ain’t no sich
name as Bumbrook at all. I’m just plain Elihu Cornhill, deacon o’ the
church at Basinburg, where I wish I was this blessed minute. Things
and folks air so tarnal thick round here one can’t draw a long breath,

“Excuse me,” interrupted the other, “I can see my mistake now, Deacon
Cornhill, and I offer a thousand apologies for troubling you. Do you
know you look as like a friend of mine as a pea in the same pod?

“It’s funny queer!” exclaimed the bewildered Deacon Cornhill, “folks
air in sich a pesky hurry they can’t stop to put one on his right
track. I s’pose I must keep jogging, as if I was over in our lot
looking for the cows.”

Meanwhile, the man who had left so abruptly after accosting him, sought
another a short distance away, and who had evidently been waiting for
him. Together the couple hastily examined a condensed New England
directory, which the former produced from his pocket. After a short
consultation they separated, one going at right angles to the street,
followed by the unsuspecting countryman, while the other gave him

Finding that the crowd of passers-by jostled him as he hastened on his
way, Deacon Cornhill gathered his huge gripsack close under his right
arm, pulled his hat down upon his large head, and kept stubbornly on
his way, regardless of the elbowing and pushing of others, saying under
his breath:

“Puts me in mind o’ goin’ through Squire Danvers’ brush lot, but I
reckon I can stand it if they can.”

He soon reached a corner where, if the pedestrians were less numerous,
he was more than ever perplexed over the course for him to follow. On
every hand the tumult of street traffic and the noise and confusion
of city life bewildered him. As he stood there for a moment, looking
anxiously about him, the sound of loud, angry voices arrested his
attention, when he saw a small party of boys disputing and wrangling
over some question. Then one of the group broke suddenly away from the
others and fled, with two in furious pursuit.

Looking back over his shoulder as he ran, the youth did not seem to pay
any heed to the course he took, and in spite of the deacon’s warning he
struck him with such force that the startled man was hurled upon the

The boy fell on top of him, and the next moment the foremost of his
pursuers cried:

“I’ve got ye, Slimmy! Say yer lied, or I’ll knock th’ teeth right out
yer jaw!”

“Not for Joe!” retorted the fugitive, regaining his feet, but pulled
down by the other.

“Won’t, won’t ye, ye sneak-eyed sinner! Oh, I’ll wallop----”

He had begun to pommel his victim unmercifully, while his companions
urged him on with words of encouragement. This was more than the
kind-hearted Deacon Cornhill, who had regained his feet, could witness
without interfering, and, dropping his gripsack on the sidewalk, in
order to have his hands free, he went to the rescue of the smaller boy,

“Let him alone, you ragamuffin!” at the same time trying to catch the
aggressive youngster by the collar. But the boy easily slipped from
his grasp, and ran down the cross street, followed by his friends, the
party giving utterance to peals of laughter.

Deacon Cornhill, in his great indignation, started to give them chase,
but after going a few steps thought better of his foolishness, and
turned back.

He was just in season to see the boy he had been defending dodging
around the corner with his gripsack.

“Here, stop, you thief! Catch him, somebody, he’s makin’ off with my
satchel,” giving pursuit as he uttered his frantic cries.

The swift-footed boy quickly disappeared around a street corner, and
when the irate deacon reached the place he was nowhere to be seen. He
had now left the main street, and but a few people were in sight, no
one paying any heed to his distracted cries.

“Oh, shucks! What shall I do? All my spare clothes, my shirt and a big
hunk o’ the church money. What will the folks say? What shall I do?”

Bewildered and disheartened, the strong man stood trembling from head
to foot, while he wept like a child, as a stranger stopped in front of
him, saying in a free and easy manner, while he laid his hand on his

“Hello, deacon! You are the last man I should have expected to meet,
and here I find you in the heart of the big city. What can you be doing
here? I don’t see that you have aged a bit since I saw you at your
home in Basinburg four years ago. Four years, did I say? Bless me if
it hasn’t been seven, or will be the coming summer. How is your good
wife, and how are all the folks about town?”

Then, seeing the look of bland astonishment on the other’s florid
countenance, he rattled on in a different strain:

“Is it possible you do not remember me, Deacon Cornhill? It would be
perfectly natural if you didn’t, seeing I have changed considerable
since we last met. Knocking about the world, my good deacon, does put
age-lines on one’s face, let them differ who will. Let me refresh a
memory which is seldom at fault. Remember Harry Sawyer, a nephew of
your town clerk, John Sawyer, who has held the office so many years?
Recall the scapegrace? I am glad to say he has improved with age.
Recollect the race we had one afternoon running after the steers that
tore down the fence and plundered a neighbor’s cornfield? I finally
caught one of the ramping creatures, after the rest of you had cornered
him. He ripped my coat from hem to collar, and I barely escaped being
gored to death. That catches your memory? It does me good to grasp the
horny hand of an honest man. Don’t be afraid of mine suffering; if it
is soft, it is tough.”


While the voluble stranger, who had introduced himself as Harry Sawyer,
kept up his innocent flow of language, Deacon Cornhill was speechless.
He saw that the speaker was a well-dressed young man, and his professed
friendship instantly won his confidence.

“I have been robbed!” he exclaimed. “I had my money in my satchel, and
a parcel of boys came along and one o’ ’em stole my money, my clothes,
satchel and----”

“Stole your money?” fairly gasped the stranger, in genuine concern.
“Tell me about it, quick--before it is too late to act.”

In a somewhat disjointed way the other told how he had found the boys
in the midst of a quarrel, and the part he had acted, to be robbed by
the very one he had tried to succor.

“It was a sham fight--a dodge of those contemptible youngsters to throw
you off your guard. And you were fool enough to let them get away with
your money!” turning to leave the unfortunate man in apparent disgust.

“Don’t leave me here alone, mister! They didn’t get all my money, but
my shirt, and----”

“Then you have some of your money left?” catching him by the arm with
a grip which made the strong man wince. “How much did the rapscallions

“Over thirty dollars.”

“How much have you left?”

“Ninety. But you are hurting my arm like time, mister, the way you hold

“Excuse me, deacon; I was so excited over your loss that I forgot
myself. But go on. You have ninety dollars left?”

“Jess that, as Mandy and I counted it jess afore I started. You see, I
have come down here to buy our Sunday school library some new books,
and I was to get some new things for Mandy, and she and me ’lowed it
would be better to keep the money in separate places, though I was
shallow enough to put in ten of the church money in my satchel. You
see, my wallet was that crowded I couldn’t do much different. Now that
has gone, with Mandy’s new things and my shirt and----”

“Let me tell you, deacon, you were lucky to have that much safe and
snug in your wallet. Always carry your money in your pocket.”

“We must find the boys afore they can spend it.”

“As well to look for a needle in a haystack, deacon, as to look for a
boy in New York. But come with me, and to-morrow I will see what can be

“Do you think you can get my money and shirt, and----”

“Quite sure of it, deacon. I’ll put a couple of detectives on their
tracks, who will run them to earth as a hound would a fox. I don’t like
to mention such personal trifles, but it was providential for you that
I came along as I did.”

“I know it, I know it,” replied the deacon, who was in better spirits
now that he felt there was a prospect of getting back his money. “To
think them boys should have played such a trick.”

“Learned their trade young, deacon. But come with me to-night. Nothing
can be gained by following, or rather trying to follow, those slippery
young thieves. The police will know where to look for them.”

Keeping up a continual flow of words, he who called himself Harry
Sawyer led the way along street after street, each one as they advanced
seeming to grow more narrow and crooked. Bewildered as he was, Deacon
Cornhill finally became aware of this. There was an unfavorable aspect
about everything he saw, and he began to feel there was something wrong.

“Hold on, mister, I have forgot your name, but are you sure you are on
the right road? This looks pesky crooked, and----”

In the midst of his speech he saw another man come swiftly out of a
dark alley on the left, and caught sight of an object coming swiftly
toward him. Then the missile struck him on the side of the head, and he
fell to the pavement with a low moan of pain.

“Well done, Bill,” declared Sawyer. “Now, I will pull the old sheep’s
wool in a trice, after which we must run down the precocious youngsters
who have cheated us of a goodly share of our goods.”

The process of “pulling the old sheep’s wool” was evidently the
stealing of the unconscious man’s pocketbook, for the speaker began to
rifle him of whatever he carried of value. But he was interrupted in a
most unexpected manner.

At the very moment his fingers closed on the well-filled wallet, an
agile figure bounded out of the shadows of the alley, striking the
stooping form of the robber with such force as to send him headlong
into the gutter, the newcomer crying at the same time:

“The cop! The cop!”

This so startled the second ruffian that he turned and fled, while
robber No. 1 scrambled to his feet just in season to see the boy who
had given him such a blow seize the plethoric pocketbook and disappear
around a corner.

“Stop thief!” cried the would-be robber. “Bill, where are you? Stop the

The twain then gave furious pursuit.

While this chase was taking place, a passer-by was attracted by the
prostrate figure of Deacon Cornhill, and thinking murder had been
committed, he was about to give an alarm, when a voice at his elbow

“Don’t stir a noise, Jim.”

Looking abruptly around, the man was surprised to find the young
bootblack beside him whom Deacon Cornhill had met at the outset of
his troubles, and who was none other than the boy who had snatched
his pocketbook away from the thief. He had found little difficulty in
eluding his pursuers.

“’Twon’t do any good to get a mob here. I’ll look arter the old gent,
if you’ll help me get him to Brattle’s.”

“This you, Little Hickory?”

“I reckon, Jim. Does the old gent show any signs of picking up the
leetle sense he had?” and depositing his kit of tools, with the other’s
gripsack, on the sidewalk, he looked closely into his face.

“’Twas a hard clip the sandbagger give him! I could not have got
here---- Hello! He’s starting his breathing machine. He’s soon going to
be on his feet. So’ll the mob soon begin to corner here. Lend a hand,
Jim, and we’ll see if he can stand alone.”

Curious spectators were beginning to gather near at hand, and the
unfortunate man beginning to open his eyes, his friends raised him to
an upright position, where, by their aid, he was able to remain.

“Mandy, where are you?” he asked, putting out his hands. “I vum, I
b’lieve I’m lost!”

“Lean on me, old gent,” said the boy, “and you’ll soon be where you can
ask as many questions as ye like. Just now, the least said the sooner
forgot. I wouldn’t ’vise you to call all New York together. Ef I’d got
sich a biff on my head in sich a silly way, I’d hold my tongue, if I
had to tie a knot in it. Easy on his collar, Jim. Lean on me, old gent,
as much as you wanter.”

“My money!” exclaimed the bewildered man, now recalling his loss with a
vivid memory.

“Ef it’s in your wallet, it’s safe; fer I’ve got that and yer handbag
safe and sound.”

Deacon Cornhill uttered a low thanksgiving, and assisted by the two he
moved slowly down the street, until they came to a cheap lodging house,
with the single word over the weather-beaten door: “Brattle.”

The entrance was about half its size below the sidewalk, and they
descended the old steps, which trembled beneath the weight of Deacon
Cornhill. At the foot Little Hickory opened a door in keeping with
its rusty surroundings, and the three entered a dingy, low-walled
apartment, with a desk at the farther end and a row of seats around the

“You can go now, Jim,” said the young bootblack.

“That you, Rob?” asked a man behind the desk, leaving his high stool
and coming out into the middle of the floor.

“I leave it with you, Brattle, to say. A body, as far as I know, is not
expected to carry an introduce card pasted in his collar. I can take
care of the old gent, thank you.”

“Been drinking, eh?” asked Brattle.

“Now you insult a good man, Brattle. He got a clip on the side of the
head from some sandbaggers, that’s all. He’s coming ’round slick as a
button. You can tip over on the seat, old gent, if you wanter,” when
Deacon Cornhill sank upon the bench, saying:

“You said you had my money?”

“What I said you can bank on, as the big boodlers say, I reckon you
don’t remember me, so I must introduce myself. I’m the chap who asked
to black your boots a bit ago, and in return you asked me for a place
to hang your hat for the night. Mebbe I didn’t answer you as I oughter,
for your boots did need trimming and shining the wuss kind, and I set
you down as a stingy old duffer from Wayback, who didn’t know what made
a gempleman. Then, when you had gone, and I took ’count of stock and
balanced up what a lamb you would be for the wolves, and seeing one
of the critters follering you, I tuk your tracks, too. I got along in
season to see the kids make off with your grip, when I took arter ’em
tooth and nail. With some lively sprintin’, and a bit of scrimmage I
fetched your old gripsack out’n Sodom, and then I pegged it on your
track ag’in. I didn’t get along in season to save you that clip on the
head, but I did get there in time to play the thief myself. I led them
chaps a wild-goose chase, and here I am with the hull establishment
connected, wired and running in tiptop shape!”

As the youth, who could not have been over seventeen, despite his
daring feats, finished his rather lengthy explanation, he handed Deacon
Cornhill his pocketbook and pushed his gripsack over by his side.


Deacon Cornhill listened with open-mouthed wonder to the rapid account
of his youthful friend, unable to speak until he had concluded, when he
managed to say:

“I don’t know what is proper to say to you, boy. You have done me a
sarvice I shall never forget, if I live to be as old as Methusaleh;
I shan’t, I vum I shan’t. I want to pay for it. Who’d thought them
slick-seeming men were sich cutthroats?”

“Black your boots and make ’em shine? I ain’t no time to waste in
perlaver. They need it. Time’s money, and bizness must be ’tended to
afore pleasure.”

“Go ahead,” consented the deacon, putting out his right foot for the
bootblack to begin work. Then, as the boy went about his task in a
manner which showed that he had thoroughly mastered it, he asked:

“What’s your name, youngster?”

“I’m called Little Hickory,” spitting on the blacking and beginning to
rub vigorously.

“You don’t say? Can’t be your regular Scripture name?”

“’Bout as near Scripter as an old man like me has ever got, mister.
Excuse me, Deacon Cornhill.”

“Bless me, how did you know my name?”

“Overheard you give it to the sharper. But, oh, my! Ain’t your
underpinners in bad shape! Can’t get a Broadway shine on ’em to save my

“You ain’t told me your name yet,” persisted Deacon Cornhill, who had
taken a strong liking for the strange youth. “And why do you mock at
fate by calling yourself old? It’s a sin and a shame, of which you must
repent some time in sackcloth and ashes.”

“I know as leetle of your sackcloth and ashes as you know of me,
mister--I mean, Deacon Cornhill. Reckon I was older when I was born ’n
many are when they die. I thought it proper for me to give you the name
that b’longs to me where you found me. Mother calls me Rob.”

“That sounds more Christian-like. Robert is a good old family name.
What name did your father have?”

“I couldn’t begin to ’numerate ’em, mis--I mean, deacon. I reckon he’s
had a good round dozen, first and last.”

“Sho! but you don’t mean it! Where is he?”


“What! Don’t know where your father is? How long have you lived this
harum-scarum life?”

“As long as I can remember. Push that foot out a leetle furder.”

“And you like it?”

“Don’t know any other, deacon.”

The good man from Basinburg groaned, saying after a minute:

“It’s too bad--too bad! You seem like a proper sort of a boy, with the
right kind of management.”

“I shouldn’t want to bank on your judgment, squire--I mean
deacon--seeing the way you let them sharpers pull the wool over your

Deacon Cornhill relapsed into silence, while he watched the swift,
dexterous movements of the cheerful bootblack, who began to sing a
snatch of song. He was one of those broad-minded, whole-souled men who
never see another in lowly circumstances without wanting to lift him
up. The frank honesty of Little Hickory, as the boy persisted in being
known, had won his confidence, and to have done that was to insure a
friendship not to be swerved from its purpose. A new light came over
his florid countenance, as he pondered, and forgetting him at work on
his boot, he sprang suddenly to his feet, exclaiming:

“I’ll do it!”

Though taken completely by surprise at this frantic action, Little
Hickory caught him by the wrist, and with the strength one would not
have looked for in the youthful arm, he flung him back upon the bench,
crying sharply:

“No, you don’t, till I get that other schooner in proper trim. You’d
look well, wouldn’t you, with ’em in such shape?”

“Forgive me, my son.”

“‘My son!’ Forsooth, as the play-actor says: None of your soft solder
on me. All I ask is for you to keep still till I can put the polish on
this other brogan.”

It is needless to say that Deacon Cornhill obeyed, and not until the
young workman was done did he say:

“I don’t exactly get the hang of you, my dear boy----”

“Hold right on there, deacon. If you have got anything to say, leave
off the finery, and cut the garment plain. I ain’t much on soap, but
I’m honest clear through. Go ahead with your tongue notions.”

“Rob,” resumed the other, recalling the fact that the boy had given at
least so much of a name, “I ain’t going to perlaver. I want you to go
hum with me.”

Little Hickory showed his surprise without speaking.

“I’m in dead ’arnest. Mandy and I have talked this all over time and
again. We ain’t got chick nor child, and she was saying only yesterday
how cheering it would be to have a boy in the house. I ain’t rich as
some, but I’m comfortably fixed, and what I’ve got shall be yours, as
soon as I’m through with it. You shall have my name, too, and be Elihu
Cornhill, Jr.”

Rob still was too much surprised to speak, which allowed Deacon
Cornhill to continue:

“It would be the making of you, Rob. It would get you away from the
wickedness of this sinful city, and----”

“And away from my bizness.”

“Luddy me, you don’t call this blackin’ folks’ shoes and boots bizness!”

“By it I get my living, sir,” said the youthful speaker, with a pride
one in better circumstances might have failed to display.

“But you would have a better and more honorable----”

“Hold right on, Deacon Cornhill! I reckon honesty is honorable
anywhere. I should be like a fish out of water up there in the

“But out of this wilderness of wickedness. There you could go to Sunday
school, and be up in society. You have got the making of a smart boy in
you. You have done me a great help, and I have taken a fancy to you.
I’ll get you a new suit of clothes, and you’ll look slick as a mouse.
Then, as soon as I can finish my bizness, we’ll go hum and s’prise
Mandy. Hum! How does that sound to you, Rob?”

If at first Little Hickory had thought that Deacon Cornhill was not
in earnest, he could see now that he was intensely determined in what
he said. But he had no idea of accepting an offer made with so much
abruptness, so he said:

“If I could leave my bizness, which I ain’t owned up to yet, I couldn’t
leave my mother.”

Deacon Cornhill showed by his looks that this was a contingency he had
not taken into account.

“So your mother is living, Rob?”

“She was when I left home this morning.”

“She can come along, too. She will be help for Mandy. I vow, it’ll be
all the better for you to have her with us.”

“And my friends?” asked Rob, showing by his manner that he was becoming

Before Deacon Cornhill could reply, the sound of many feet was heard
entering the place, and a body of men quickly appeared on the scene.
The foremost was a burly, bewhiskered fellow, who at sight of our
couple cried exultantly:

“Here he is, boys! Nab him!”


At sight of the mob crowding into the place, Deacon Cornhill gave a cry
of fear and turned pale, as he looked hurriedly about for some way of

The room seemed to have but one door opening on the street, and that
was now blocked with the incoming men, the leader of whom showed a
bright button on his coat, while he flourished a club in his right hand
as he uttered the words given in my last chapter.

The owner behind the counter uttered a cry of terror, and ducked his
head out of sight, while the clinking of breaking glass followed his
disappearance, a big pitcher having been upset and rolled off onto the

So, all in all, it was a pretty exciting scene for a while.

Ragged Rob spoke next, at the same time stepping forward to meet the
officer fearlessly:

“Who are you looking for, Whalen?”

“That chap behind ye.”

“Name him and you may have him. But not till you do,” replied Little
Hickory, defiantly.

“I reckon names don’t matter when we run down sich covies.”

“They do in this case. This ain’t the man you are after, Whalen!”

“W’at d’ye know erbout it, Little Hickory?”

“All there is to be known, Whalen. Can’t ye see this is a hayseed from
the country? Your man is a thorough-bred. Oh, I know who you are after.”

“I reckon a man’s a man,” muttered the officer, who appeared as if he
had seen that he had made a mistake, but disliked to own up to it.

“Half an hour ago your man was steering toward the point, Whalen.
’Pears to me, with sich a reward at stake, I wouldn’t lose any more
time with sich an old duffer as this covey, who won’t be worth a cent
to ye after all yer trouble.”

Whalen could see the truth of this statement, and he cleared his way to
get out by asking:

“You ain’t giving me misleader, Little Hickory?”

“No, Whalen. I advise ye to get on to the trail while the scent is

Without another word the officer turned about, and, still followed by
his crowd, left the saloon.

Deacon Cornhill stood staring after the departed officer and his men
for some time in silence, while Ragged Rob resumed work upon his shoes.

Brattle’s head reappeared above the top of the counter, coming into
sight slowly and with evident caution on the part of the owner, as if
he was in doubt about the wisdom of the move.

“You haven’t answered my question,” said the bootblack, bringing Deacon
Cornhill back to his situation. “Can my friends come with me?”

“Sart’in; every one of them. How many are there?”

Rob shook his head, though evidently not in reply to the other’s
question, but relative to some thought in his mind. Presently he said:

“You are very kind, sir, but it cannot be. This is my life, and I could
not fit into another. Good-day, sir; but, stay! I’ll not leave you in
the gutter this time. If you want to find a stopping place for the
night I will show you the way.”

Feeling that it would be useless to press his wishes further then,
Deacon Cornhill followed him in silence, though resolved in his mind to
renew the subject at his first opportunity. In the midst of their rapid
advance he suddenly became aware of the presence of another boy who was
five or six years younger than Rob. He was more ragged than the other;
in fact, he was little but rags, though there was a saucy defiance in
his pinched, unwashed features which showed that he had little care for
his personal appearance, or what another might think.

Rob evidently knew him, for he asked, familiarly:

“What luck to-day, old man?”

“Made eleven cents and blowed in three. Say,” he added, in an
undertone, though loud enough to be heard by Deacon Cornhill, “got a
big duck? Looks awful green.”

“Hush!” warned Rob, adding in a louder key: “I’ve got to see the gent
here gets to Bradford’s O. K. Then I’ll hev you go home with me.”

“What’s your name, bub?” asked the deacon, who felt it a duty to say


“I mean the name your parents gave you.”

“Golly; what an idee. Never had any, mister.”

“Where do you live?”


“Onpossible. Where’d you stop last night?”

“Corner A and Tenth Street.”

“Whose house, I mean. I hope it was a good man’s.”

“Dunno ’bout that, sir. I didn’t see him, nor I didn’t go in.”

“But you said you stopped there?”

“So I did.”

“How could that be if you did not go in?”

“My cracky! ain’t you green? S’pose I’d gone in, how long d’ye s’pose
I’d been guv to git out?”

“I don’t understand you, bub.”

“Any more’n I do sich a cabbage as you. I reckon there’s a way o’
stopping at a gentleman’s house without bothering him wid your comp’ny.”

“How can that be?” asked the wondering deacon, believing the boy was
guying him. “How could you stop at a man’s house without seeing any one
or they seeing you?”

“Slept under th’ covin’, mister.”

“Marcy me! out in the night? S’posin’ it’d rained?”

“I’d got wet, I s’pose, seein’ I’m not canvas-backed,” with a grin.

“And got your death of cold?”

“Ain’t so sure on that, mister. Th’ sun has alwus dried a feller out
slick, and I ain’t heerd as he’s goin’ out’n bizness jis yit.”

“What do you do, Chick?--I think you said that was your name?”

“Pick up odd jobs, by which I can turn a penny, sir. My family is
small, so I don’t hev to hev much.”

“Ain’t you got any folks?”


“Don’t you get tired of living like this?”

“Don’t know any other way, mister.”

“What a pity! In this Christian land, too!”

“Got any more questions to ax, mister?” as the other hesitated; “’cos
if ye hev I shall hev to begin to ax ye a fee, same’s the big chucks
do up in the recorder’s office.”

Before Deacon Cornhill could reply he became aware of the confusion
arising from a crowd of people standing about the entrance to a gloomy
structure near at hand.

“What’s the matter?” he asked, in surprise.

“Only a girl up for vagrancy,” replied a bystander. “It don’t take much
to draw a crowd. But she is a pert one, and with a boy’s name.”

“What is it?” asked Rob, beginning to show interest.

“Joe Willet, or some such a name, she gave the recorder.”

Without waiting for him to finish his speech, Rob began to elbow his
way through the jostling crowd, and a moment later passed the high
portals of the wide door.

“Here, here, my son!” cried Deacon Cornhill, excitedly, “hold on for
me!” And, regardless of the jeers and outbursts of the spectators, he
made a furious dash after his young guide.

“Hi, mister!” cried Chick, trying to keep beside the other, “keep
with me an’ we’ll find Little Hickory.” Then he added to the amused
onlookers; “Of all the dratted old fools I ever see he’s the lunkinest!”

Meanwhile Rob had got inside of the building, and, regardless of the
curious spectators gathered on either hand, he pushed his way forward
until he had reached a small court or opening before a high desk,
above which the gray head of the stern recorder could be seen, as he
looked calmly down at a frail girl, trembling from head to foot, as she
stood beside the iron railing in grief and terror.

She was clad in a ragged dress, without any covering for her head.
Though her features were bathed in tears, her brown hair had been cut
short, and there was a general appearance of despair in her looks and
actions, she was an attractive girl.

At sight of her Rob stopped suddenly in his impetuous advance, crying,
in a voice heard in every part of the old building:

“Joey! I have found you at last. Have courage! Ragged Rob is still your
friend, if every one else in the world turns against you.”


At sound of Ragged Rob’s ringing words every gaze in the spacious room,
even to that of the grim recorder, was turned upon the fearless young
bootblack, who, despite his grimy features and soiled, ragged clothes,
looked every inch a hero. One countenance lightened at sight of him,
and she at the prisoner’s bar cried, in a joyful voice:

“Oh, Rob!” and then she seemed about to fall, as if the glad appearance
of her friend had overcome her. But she quickly mastered her weakness,
saying, in a supplicating tone:

“Save me from the workshop, Rob! Mother does so need me.”

“I will, Joey; never fear. What is the charge, Mister Recorder?”

“Vagrancy, coupled with trying to pass bad money and being generally a
suspicious character,” replied the recorder, recovering his usual stern

“There’s not a word of truth in it!” exclaimed Rob, impetuously.

“Order!” commanded the recorder, and a burly officer moved toward the
excited youth, ready to seize him at the word from his superior. A
murmur of excitement ran over the throng of spectators.

“Has she been sentenced?” asked Rob, recovering his self-possession,
and speaking with a calmness he was far from feeling.

“Blackwell’s--thirty days,” was the stern reply.

“It must not be!” declared Rob, boldly. “She cannot be guilty, Mister
Recorder. Is there no way to save her from the workhouse?”

“As this seems to be her first offense, if there was some one to answer
for her, she might be let off this time,” and though it may have been
his imagination, Rob thought the recorder said this gladly. At any
rate, it gave him hope, and he said, promptly:

“I will answer for her, Mister Recorder.”

“That could hardly be, as you are but a minor, as well as unknown to

Rob’s countenance fell; but at that moment a loud voice from the rear
of the courtroom exclaimed:

“I’ll answer for her, judge! That gal must never go to the workhouse.
It would be a burning shame, in this Christian age.”

A buzz of surprise ran over the scene, while Deacon Cornhill, who had
made the bold declaration, pushed his way forward to the side of the
young bootblack.

“It’s too bad to send such an innercent to the workhouse, judge. How
much is there to pay?”

“Who are you, sir?” demanded the recorder, looking askance at the
countrified speaker.

“Deacon Elihu Cornhill, of Basinburg, your honor.”

“And you promise that she shall be provided for, Mr. Cornhill?”

“I do, judge.”

“Very well. In that case sentence is suspended during good behavior.
She is too young and apparently too innocent to be sent to the
workhouse. But, remember, miss, if you are brought back here a double
sentence will be imposed.”

“Shameful, judge. Send such a bright girl to the workhouse----”

“Silence!” ordered the recorder, at the same time pushing a ponderous
book toward the discomfited deacon. “Please put your name down there.”

As soon as Deacon Cornhill signed the necessary document, and finding
that she was at liberty to do so, the young prisoner took Rob’s hand.
Then, without further delay, while a generous murmur of applause ran
over the crowd, the three left the courtroom, to be joined at the door
by Chick.

“Where have you been, Joe, since that dreadful night when the old
rookery was torn down over our heads, and we lost each other?”

“Everywhere, Rob. I am so thankful now that you saved me from the
workhouse that I cannot say anything.”

“It was not I, Joey, but this kind gentleman, Deacon Cornhill.”

“I wish to thank you, sir. If you will only come home I am sure mother
will do it much better than I can. Poor mother! how she must have been
worrying about me.”

“How is she, Joe?”

“No better, Rob. And I have been away all day. You will go home with

“Yes; that is, as soon as I have showed this gentleman to Bradford’s.”

“Don’t stop to do that, my son. Go home with the leetle one first. If
she don’t object, I’ll go along with you.”

“Of course I don’t object, and mother will be glad to see you. How you
have grown since I saw you last.”

“No more than you, Joe. Why, you are almost as tall as mother now. But,
as we walk along, you must tell us how you were brought up before the
recorder. Chick, you will go with us.”

“Well, you see, Rob,” began the girl, “mother has been so poorly for a
week that I have neglected business. But to-day, seeing we had nothing
in the house to eat and no money, I had to start out in earnest. I
seemed pretty lucky at once, for inside of an hour I met a fine, old
gent, who gave me ten cents to carry his portmanteau three squares

“The lazy bones!” interjected Deacon Cornhill. “Do you mean to say,
miss, the man let you carry his satchel alone?”

“I was glad to have him, sir, for it meant dinner for poor mother, and
medicine, too.”

“Isn’t your father living?”

“No, sir. He died twelve years ago. And mother has been ill for four

“What do you do for a living?”

“Sell flowers, papers, or do anything that will bring me a few cents.
Sometimes I run errands or carry gentlemen’s bundles.”

The kind-hearted deacon groaned, while she resumed:

“After I had parted with the old gent I found a flashily dressed young
man, who wanted me to run an errand for him, and when I got back he
gave me a silver quarter. It seemed so much for him to pay for so
little work that I wanted him to take a part of it back, and he took my
ten-cent piece. From that time until noon I earned only three cents;
but, with my quarter, I felt quite well pleased. So I thought to buy
something real nice for mother and go home. When I come to pay for the
rolls and cake the man said the money was bad. I could not believe
it, and while I tried to explain to him how I got it, he called in the
police, when I was taken to the recorder’s court and kept there until
you found me.”

“The sinfulness of this sinful city!” exclaimed the deacon. “And to
think they were going to take you to the workshop.”

“I wish to thank you for your kindness, sir. You see, Rob and I used
to be old cronies; but we have not seen each other for over two years.
But here we are at home. How glad mother will be to see me, and you,
too, Rob, and Deacon Cornhill, I am sure. But, dear me! here I have not
brought her a crumb to eat. How could I have forgotten it?”

“Is it possible you live here, Joey? But go right in with Deacon
Cornhill, while I go after something for her and you to eat. I will be
back soon. Chick can shift for himself.”

“Buy something good,” said Mr. Cornhill, pulling out his well-filled
pocketbook and handing Rob a five-dollar bill, which, however, he made
the exchange for one of a smaller denomination.

If Deacon Cornhill had learned to like bluff, hearty Little Hickory, he
was not less pleased with the bravehearted girl, whose only name, as
far as he had found out, had that decided masculine ring of Joe.

“If the leetle one is willing, I’ll step in and see her mother.”

“Of course, sir; come right in. But you must be prepared to find scanty
room. Our house is so small--that is, narrow, our rooms are not more
than three feet wide. Still, now we have got used to them, we get along
quite comfortably.”

Deacon Cornhill, by this time, was prepared to be surprised at nothing
in New York; but this dwelling fairly staggered his senses. The entire
width of this building, which was four stories in height, was scarcely
five feet, outside measure. Was it a wonder the man, fresh from the
country, where space is a matter of small consideration, was amazed at
this peculiar structure, with its long, narrow apartments, where he
could barely turn around? It seemed that at some time the land upon
which it stood had been a matter of contention, until finally the
owner, to spite his neighbor, had erected this tall, narrow building on
his limited grounds.

It was occupied, at this time, by three families, one of whom was the
Willets, mother and daughter, Josephine, Rob’s “Little Joe.”

Deacon Cornhill, as soon as he had somewhat recovered from his
astonishment, was ushered into the presence of the invalid woman, who,
after giving Joey a joyous greeting, received him in a manner which
told that she had been well bred.

“But I am so helpless here,” she said. “I feel very grateful to you
for befriending Joe, who is my mainstay. I must have been taken to the
poorhouse soon after I was obliged to give up work but for her. And she
cannot stand it much longer, poor thing! It has been so hard since my
husband died. Ah! John and I never dreamed of what was in store for us
when we left our old home in Maine to begin a new life in the big city.
It was a new life, but a hard one. He was a good mechanic, but we had
not been here two years before he was taken down with the fever. Of
course, as soon as he stopped work his wages stopped, and when he died
I was without a penny, and Joey a little girl. How many times have I
pined for the old home, but, alas! I shall never see it!”

“You shall!” cried Deacon Cornhill, vehemently, for almost at the
outset of their conversation the subject uppermost in his mind had
received an impetus he had not anticipated. “That is, you may not see
the old home, but you can see another as good.”

If at first she thought him demented, he quickly explained the
proposition he had made to Rob, when Joey clapped her hands with

“It might bring back your health, mother.”

“I know the sweet scent of the country air would do me good, my
daughter; but do not raise any false hopes. We have not a cent to get
there, if we had any place to flee to.”

“Hurrah!” cried the usually dignified deacon, forgetting his staid ways
in the excitement of the moment; “my case is as good as won. You shall
both of you go, if you will, and never return to this wicked city.”

“Here comes Rob!” cried the happy Joe, beginning to dance along the
length of the narrow room. “We’ll talk it all over with him, and what a
happy day it will be!”


“I can do it, and I will!”

The mixed train from the south was drawing slowly out of Wenham
Junction, as Phil Hardy simultaneously uttered this speech and threw
himself upon the back of old Jim, his father’s farm horse. It was in
the early part of April, and the mud along the country roads was deep
and soft, which fact was shown by the appearance of the horse and its
boyish rider.

Phil was the eldest son of ’Squire Hardy, one of the leading citizens
of Basinburg. He was a harum-scarum youth of eighteen, who always
seemed to be mixed up in every affair of a shady character taking
place within a radius of twenty miles. Like boys of his ilk, he ever
seemed to be present whenever anything of an unusual nature was taking
place, and “to get his fingers into the pie,” using a common expression
current at the time in the quiet, out-of-the-way hamlet of Basinburg.
Not another boy in town would have ridden five miles through the mud
that day to have been in Wenham at this time. But Phil had not missed
it, and as he picked up Jim’s reins, heading the horse homeward, he
added to what he had already said:

“They oughter know it just as quick as they can, and they shall! Won’t
they stick out their eyes, though? Let me see. This train goes by the
Bradford loop, makes four stops, and it will use up forty minutes in
getting to Basinburg. Old Jim ought to take me there in half an hour.
He can, and he shall! Go, you old veteran of the plow! we’re the bearer
of the news to Ghent.”

Laughing, as he gave expression to this whimsical speech, Phil urged
Jim ahead at the top of his speed, while the good people of Wenham
had further occasion to comment upon the wild ways of ’Squire Hardy’s
scapegrace son.

The road to Basinburg was sparsely settled, so Phil saw few people
until he entered the quiet hamlet, which, as its name indicates, was
shaped very much like a huge basin, with roads around the rim. Most of
the population of the town lived on these circular roads, that met at
the lower end, where was located the post office, church and store.

The sight of his mud-bespattered figure and the foaming condition of
his horse called the more easily excited of the inhabitants from their
houses, while he shouted at frequent intervals:

“Come and see the elephant! Nothing like it ever came to town!”

Utterly regardless of his grammar, or the comments he was calling upon
himself, Phil repeated his rather incoherent speech, and by the time he
had uttered it a dozen times, the boys began to follow him, wondering
what new scheme their leader was carrying out. This aroused Phil to
more earnest cries, while he prodded poor old Jim harder than before.

Small wonder if the older people began to rush after the crazy rider,
until a mob of excited men and women, as well as boys, was at his heels.

“What is it, Philip?” asked the gray-headed parson, running out in his
slippers, hatless and coatless.

“Deacon Cornhill--hoodlums of New York--a mob!” was all that the
anxious crowd could distinguish in the medley of cries.

Still Phil showed no signs of stopping or checking his wild ride, his
course now being toward the little way station about half a mile below
the post office village. On account of the high grade this had been as
near as the cars could come into the town.

At every house the trail of followers was increased by one or more
members, every one believing that something terrible had happened or
was about to take place.

Hardly looking back, Phil rode straight on toward the depot, old Jim
covered with mud and panting for breath. As he came in sight of the
low, wooden building the whistle of the approaching train was heard a
quarter of a mile away.

“I’m in season!” exclaimed Phil, triumphantly. “Come on, you folks, if
you want to see the sight of your life!”

The oncoming spectators needed no urging to do this, and scarcely had
the boyish rider reined up his spent horse by the narrow platform
before the foremost of his pursuers, regardless of the slush, ankle
deep about the station, rushed upon the scene. Others rapidly added to
their numbers.

“What is it, Phil?” asked Lon Wiggles, who had outrun all others in
reaching the place. Phil and he were close friends. “What has brought
you home from Wenham like this?”

“I know!” replied Phil, with a knowing toss of his head, as he sprang
from old Jim’s back.

“I s’posed you did, but that needn’t make a crab of you.”

“Excuse me, Lon. I see Deacon Cornhill on the train down at Wenham.”

“Is that all?” and looks of disgust and disappointment settled on the
features of those near enough to overhear this dialogue. It is needless
to say that Phil was maintaining this air of mystery more for their
sakes than Lon’s.

“Can’t you wait till a feller has time to think? No, it is not all.
The deacon is coming home with a carload of New York cattle! But here
comes the train; look for yourself. Ladies and gentlemen, Deacon
Cornhill is coming home with all of the poor of New York at his heels.
See for yourselves,” waving his hand in a tragical manner, as the long
train came pounding along the iron rails.

With puffs and snorts, as of rage at being stopped in its wild career,
the engine came to a standstill just beyond the upper end of the
station, so as to bring the two passenger cars nearly opposite the

With a faint inkling of what they were to expect, the spectators
stood looking on with gaping mouths and staring eyes, while the
tall, stoop-shouldered figure of Deacon Cornhill appeared on the
rear platform. His benevolent features were lighted with an uncommon
glow, as he gazed upon the crowd gathered thus unexpectedly about the
station. Hesitating but a moment, he stepped down the steps, and then
turned to look back.

The object of his gaze was soon apparent, for at that moment other
passengers were following him from the car. In the lead of these came
a tall, rather good-looking, but plainly dressed, boy of seventeen,
with pinched features, but flashing eyes, none other than Ragged Rob,
ex-bootblack of New York. Leaning on his arm was a middle-aged woman,
beyond doubt in the minds of the onlookers his mother. Her countenance
was thin and careworn, while her brown hair was thickly streaked with
threads of silver.

No sooner had Rob assisted his mother down the steps than he turned to
help others in lifting a pallid-faced woman, who was an invalid, from
the car. Close behind her came a pale, frightened girl, who shrank near
to Rob at sight of the wondering spectators. They were Mrs. Willet and

While the poor invalid was carried to a settee at one side of the
station, a woman, with cadaverous countenance and wild eyes, and a
man who had to be lifted down from the car, reached the platform, the
latter being borne to a second bench. Then an elderly woman, with a
strange-looking peaked cap and squat figure, followed, while close
behind her came a girl of fourteen and five boys, ranging in ages from
ten to fifteen years.

During this brief delay a small lot of baggage had been thrown upon the
station floor, and as the last of the ill-favored passengers alighted,
the conductor waved his hand, the bell rang, the engine puffed anew,
the wheels began to revolve, and the train rolled away, leaving the
little group of fifteen persons the center of observation for many
pairs of eyes.

“For gracious’ sake, what have you been doing, deacon?” asked ’Squire
Hardy, a short, thickset individual, who had been among the first
to reach the place. He was troubled with asthma, and the exertion in
reaching the station had put him both out of breath and good humor.

Though amazed at this most unexpected greeting, Deacon Cornhill soon
recovered his surprise enough to say:

“I have just brung home a leetle comp’ny, ’squire. I----”

“Huh!” was the rejoinder, “Comp’ny? I should say comp’ny! Where’d you
pick that ’sortment of folks?”

“In the streets of New York,” replied the deacon. “Never see sich
sights in my life, ’squire. Why, the ground is just running over with
folks, and sin and wickedness is thicker’n the folks! I swan! it’s
too bad; and so I persuaded these half-starved creeturs to come to
Basinburg with me. I know you’ll lend a helping hand for ’em to have
homes. Them empty houses’n deserted farms on the Hare road can be as
well filled as not.”

All the time he was speaking the crowd pressed nearer and nearer,
causing the newcomers to huddle close together, with half-frightened
looks on their faces. Though used to seeing mobs, and having lived in
crowded streets, there was something about these spectators which sent
a feeling of terror to their hearts. Rob was the only exception, and as
an over-anxious, burly individual pushed his way close to the helpless
man and woman, he stepped brusquely forward, exclaiming:

“Stand back, sir! you’re crowding a sick man and woman. Seems to me
there oughter be room out here for ’em.”

The man retreated, muttering:

“Be keerful how ye sass yer betters, ye insolent critter.”

At this a murmur went over the crowd, which it was plain to see
were generally unfriendly to the new arrivals. They did form a
motley-looking party.

“They look like furrin truck!” declared some one, whereupon a general
nod of assent was given.

“Please stand back all!” implored Deacon Cornhill.

“Want us to stand here ankle deep in the mud, I s’pose!” exclaimed one
near the background.

“Yes; stand back, one and all!” ordered ’Squire Hardy, and at his
command there was a slight moving back. It was plain he was the one to
whom the majority looked for guidance. If he had said, “Be friendly
to these unprepossessing strangers,” Deacon Cornhill would have had
no cause for further worry over the matter. Unfortunately, though
there was no evidence of it in their outward appearance, this couple
entertained a bitter dislike for each other, owing to an old trouble.
Of course the deacon had his friends present, if no one had spoken an
encouraging word, but they were very much in the minority. But, as Mr.
Hardy appeared disposed to be fair, he gathered new courage, saying:

“I will explain all as soon as I have made these poor sick ones more

No one had suggested that they be taken into the station, so their
kindly protector did not offer to do it. But he removed his overcoat
and placed it over Mrs. Willet, so as to keep her warm, while he
arranged the man so that his position was more easy. Fortunately the
day was mild, and as Deacon Cornhill turned to face the half-angry
crowd, the setting sun threw a wide bar of golden splendor over the
western sky, which halo was reflected on the distant hills, giving to
the spring scene a hint of summer. A flaw of April wind stirred the
long, thin locks of the gray-haired philanthropist, as he slowly raised
his spare right hand to admonish silence.

If a calm had fallen on the scene it was the calm that usually precedes
the storm. Deacon Cornhill dreaded it; ’Squire Hardy expected it;
and the aroused spectators were anxious to show their willingness in
sending out of the town this unexpected addition to their population.


“Ahem!” began Deacon Cornhill, clearing his throat, and while he did so
looking anxiously over the crowd, wondering still how so many came to
be there. “Ahem! I--you see, fri’nds, this is sich a s’prise to me that
I hardly know how to begin. You see I got to New York, and I never see
sich sights, I swan, I never did! I hadn’t more’n got into town afore
a spruce chap stepped up and slapped me on the shoulder, just same’s
Sam Williams would, and you all know Sam’s terrible common. Wa’al, he
claimed he knowed me up here in Basinburg--told a whopping story ’bout
chasin’ a calf out of my garden seven or eight years ago. But all the
time he was arter the church money, and ’tween him and ernother and a
parcel of boys they eenamost got it, and----”

“Not got the church money, Elihu!” cried a shrill voice from the
rear of the throng of spectators, and then Mrs. Cornhill, who had
been attracted to the scene the same as the others, pushed her way
frantically forward, until she stood on the station platform in front
of the abashed deacon. “You don’t say you hev lost the church money,

Several among the spectators groaned.

“Don’t get ’scited, Mandy; don’t git ’scited. I didn’t lose the church
money, thanks to this boy here. But if them dog----”

“Hush, deacon! It’s you who is getting ’scited.”

“Wa’al, if you had been where I have, Mandy, and seen what I did you’d
get ’scited. But this boy here got my money all back, and then, when he
tuk me round and showed me how folks live in that big, wicked city, I
swan, I felt like giving ’em all homes right here in Basinburg!”

“I should think you had brought back a good part of the city,” said one
of the bystanders.

“Pity the poorest if you call these good,” cried another.

“I tuk a fancy to Rob, here,” continued the deacon, unheeding the
interruption, ’arter the good turn he did me. But when I come to ax him
to go home with me, he said he couldn’t leave his mother. I told him
to take her right along, too. But he had fri’nds, and I told him to
take ’em along, though I didn’t s’pose there were more’n a house full.
Lordy me! when I come to see how they lived, I wouldn’t take no for an
answer, with all the land, and fresh air, and room we have out here.

“Why, it nearly tuk away my breath to just look in their houses. If
you will b’lieve it, Mr. Little,” pointing to the invalid man, “lived
in a den right under the street, with teams driving overhead, and he
a suffocating in a leetle room nine feet under ground. It was only six
feet by eight, and he had no fire, only a part of an old bedstead to
lie on, an old tick half full of musty hay and a dirty pillow. Mrs.
Willet and her darter lived in a house only four feet wide, though the
Lord only knows how high it was. Just think of that, and then of the
houses that stand empty here the year round.

“These youngsters here were running round wild, like colts turned out
to parster, only there weren’t no fences to keep ’em within bounds, and
there was no halter on ’em to lead ’em to their stalls when it come
night. I tell you, it made my blood bile just to see sich works right
in this civilized land. I thought of ’em houses on Hare road standing
empty, and says I to myself, ‘there’s room for ’em, and I know the good
people of Basinburg will turn to and lend a helping hand.’”

He was perspiring freely, while he showed great excitement, but his
animated speech was greeted with a profound silence. It is true some
one started to cheer him, but he did not have the courage to give full
expression to his feelings. The majority were waiting for ’Squire Hardy
to speak, and the rest were too timid to venture an opinion, until he
had spoken. Clearing his throat, he finally said:

“It might have been well enough, deacon, if you hadn’t brought a
carload. It’s a mystery to me how they got money enough to pay their

Deacon Cornhill was modest enough not to mention the fact that it
had cost him nearly fifteen dollars to make up for their deficit.
Withholding this fact, he demanded:

“Am I to understand that you are opposed to treating these poor people
like neighbors, ’squire?”

“I’m opposed to nothing that’s humane, but you know there is a limit to
what we can endure. I never was in favor of foreign immigration. What
do you say, good folks?” appealing to those around him. “No doubt the
good old deacon meant all right, but look at the crowd he has brought
among us, and say if you want them.”

“Paupers, every one of them!” cried a voice from the crowd.

“Perhaps worse’n that,” declared another. “They look to me like a
parcel of thieves!”

“Paupers and thieves!” exclaimed a dozen in the same breath, until
Deacon Cornhill turned pale, as he felt that ominous results were
likely to come from his well-meant intentions.

The little party of strangers huddled together in great trepidation,
excepting their leading spirit, Ragged Rob, who had so gladly yielded
to the counsel of their protector and lent his influence toward getting
them here. Something of the spirit of the stern man for whom he had
been nicknamed flashed in Little Hickory’s eyes, and drawing his figure
to its full height with a dignity felt all the more for the ragged suit
in which he was clothed, he exclaimed, in a tone heard to the limit of
the scene:

“Paupers and thieves, never! We are poor, but we are willing to earn an
honest living. Deacon Cornhill, if we are not wanted here----”

“Tut, tut, lad!” said the other, in an undertone, “this will soon blow
over,” though he had his misgivings.

“You see how it is, deacon, and how the people feel,” said the ’squire,
with a ring of triumph in his voice. “This settling so many city
hoodlums in our midst is a risky experiment. For my part, I had rather
my house should burn down than to have such people in it.”

“It would be pretty sure to if they were in it,” cried a zealous friend.

“I do not believe there is a house on the Hare road they could get.”

“No, no, no!” came from every quarter.

’Squire Hardy looked exultant, while Deacon Cornhill was dumfounded. No
one had dared to speak a word in his behalf.

“What have you done, Elihu?” asked his wife, who had but a vague
understanding of the situation.

“Don’t get ’scited, Mandy; it’ll soon blow over. Fri’nds,” he
continued; addressing the crowd, “don’t misjudge your neighbors. These
poor folks are all honest, as I am willing to vouch. Why, if it hadn’t
been for this boy I shouldn’t have been living to come home. He not
only saved my money, but my life, and I’ll stand by him now!”

“Good for you, deacon!” some one was bold enough to cry out, when a
faint cheer followed. This encouraged him to resume:

“But if you don’t want these poor folks in your houses, I’ll look ’em
up some places. They can stop at my place to-night. But here we are,
keeping this sick man and woman here, to say nothing of the rest. I
wish I had my two-hoss jingle wagon here, I swan, I do!”

At first no reply was made to this, but finally a farmer from the upper
part of the town said:

“If you want to go arter your wagon, deacon, you may have my team to go
with, only if you’ll leave a barrel of flour that is in the wagon at
Widder Short’s.”

Deacon Cornhill gladly accepted this offer, and he lost no time in
starting, saying, as he clambered into the high-backed seat:

“You can go with me if you want to, Rob.”

“I thank you, sir, but I had rather remain with mother and the rest. I
think it will be best for me to do so.”

“If you please, mister, I would like to go,” said Chick.

“So you can, my boy; and you, too,” nodding to another, a year older
than Chick, and known as Ruddy.

The boys were happy, but Deacon Cornhill was too deeply engrossed
over the situation to pay much heed to his young companions, as he
gathered up the reins and drove away from the station. This reception
was very different from the triumphal entry into town of which he had

“The ’squire is still ag’in me, and he means to make trouble,” he said,
giving expression to his thoughts. “If he won’t let ’em go on the Hare
road, they shall go somewhere. I have it! I’ll put ’em up to Break o’
Day; that’s just what I’ll do. Git along, old Jim! that’s just what
I’ll do.”

So absorbed was the good man in his plans that he did not notice
he had already got the raw-boned horse into a smart gait, so that
the old wagon was drawn through the mud and over the rocks at a
tremendous rate, giving the boys about all they could do to hold upon
the high-backed seat, while the barrel of flour rolled about at the
imminent risk of being sent from the vehicle altogether.

“The Break o’ Day is their only hope,” repeated the deacon, as he rode

So absorbed was the good man in his plans and his anxiety to get
back to the station, that he failed to heed the tremendous speed he
had urged the horse to take until by the time they had reached the
outskirts of the village the spirited animal was flying along the
country road at the top of its speed. The way was rough, and the wagon
jolting over the stony places kept the barrel of flour in constant
motion. In fact, an uncommonly severe movement sent one head flying out
into the mud, and the white, fluffy mass within, caught up by the wind,
flew about like a perfect cloud over the occupants of the vehicle.

“Ginger and snap!” cried Chick, who was enjoying the situation, “ain’t
we spinning, Ruddy?”

“You bet! this is better’n the circus. Get up, old nag! If this is
country life, it jess knocks the spots off’n New York at her best.”

The boys were enjoying the affair if the deacon was not. Then, in the
midst of this wild flight, when it seemed as if the sober member of
Basinburg church had really lost his head, those inhabitants of the
village who had not gone to the station rushed out of their houses to
see what was taking place.

Getting a vague outline of the deacon’s stalwart figure amid the
cloud of flour, they began to cry out in dismay. This only served to
arouse the deacon the more, and, swinging his long whip in the air, he
shouted, louder than ever:

“Get erlong there, Jim Crow. It’s Break o’ Day or nothing!”

The old wagon, making a noise and confusion heard to the farthest
section of the village, the half-crazed deacon and his young
companions, who were shouting with laughter, were borne on at a wilder
pace than ever. In the midst of this they passed the parsonage, when
the horrified minister rushed out of the house, bareheaded and with
outstretched arms, calling out to the horse to stop. Then, recognizing
the form of his respected parishioner enveloped in the cloud of flour,
he shouted, in amazement:

“Why, Deacon Cornhill! what has happened? Stop--stop--st----”

“It’s Break o’ Day or nothing, parson; snowstorm or no snowstorm! Get
erlong, Jim!”

The old man barely saved himself from being run over, as the deacon and
his companions were carried past, the latter crying out in the ears of
the bewildered preacher:

“Did you ever get left on the pavements?”


Meanwhile the crowd about the station had watched the departure of
Deacon Cornhill in silence, but no sooner had he disappeared in the
distance than Squire Hardy held a consultation of a few words with his
nearest friends. Then he turned to address Rob, who, realizing that a
crisis of some kind was at hand, calmly waited for him to speak.

“Youngster,” began the ’squire, “it must be plain to you by this time
that you and your followers made a mistake in coming here as you have.
In the first place, it can be of no advantage to you, and in the second
place, you are not wanted by us.”

“I am sorry, sir, that it has happened as it has, but it does not seem
to me that any one is to blame. We have come with honest intentions----”

“It requires honest people to carry out honest intentions. It’s the
doing that counts. Come, it is nearly night, and you have barely time
in which to get out of town before dark. The walking is good on the
railroad track.”

The tone, more than the words, nettled Ragged Rob, and he exclaimed:

“It will be better or worse before I or my friends go that way.”

“Don’t you throw any of your New York sass in my face, you ragged dog.
You’ll either get out of town pretty lively of your own account, or
we will get help for you in a way you may not like. I give you fair
warning, and five minutes of time to get started in.”

A groan came from the suffering man on the settee, while the others of
the forlorn little group turned pale with fright. But Little Hickory
was made of sterner stuff, and, drawing his slender figure to its
full height, making him like a fairy prince in a disguise of rags, he
replied, in a tone heard by the most distant of the spectators:

“Sir, you cannot drive us away without making trouble for yourself. We
have come here peacefully, and we demand fair treatment. This poor man
here”--pointing to the invalid Mr. Little--“cannot take a step to save
his life. And this sick woman”--now pointing to Mrs. Willet--“deserves
kind treatment at your hands.”

This fearless speech was received with varying effect by the onlookers.
It won the respect, if not the admiration of some, while still others
thought that perhaps the ’squire had been hasty in his denouncement.
Others again looked askance toward the justice, while he, feeling that
he had been openly and defiantly humiliated, shook with anger, and he
exclaimed, in a voice husky with passion:

“Fool! if you think this high-handed piece of impudence is going
through all right you’ll find yourself most ---- mistaken.”

’Squire Hardy used a word where I have inserted the dash which I do
not care to quote, while he advanced toward Ragged Rob with a look of
intense hatred. He seemed about to seize the brave boy in his grasp of
iron, when the latter said:

“Lay a hand on me if you dare, Mr. Hardy!”

“Be careful how you make yourself liable for striking the boy,” spoke
up one of the spectators, who was standing at the corner of the station.

“If it wasn’t for the law I’d throw the young rapscallion into ----”
using another word that may have fitted his feelings, but which grated
harshly even on that exciting scene. “As it is I will make out a
warrant for their arrest as quick as I can find pen and paper to do it,

“If you do you will have to get Sheriff Stanyan to serve it, ’squire.”

“I suppose you think I ought to let these hoodlums go where they wish,
Johnson. I tell you the safety of the public demands that I stop them
where they are.”

“You mistake my meaning, ’squire. While I may be sorry that they have
come, I believe in fair treatment, and abiding by the law.”

“I should like to know who is breaking the law if it is not them,”
snapped the justice, who was already inquiring for pen, ink and paper.

“I hardly know what charge you can bring against them, ’squire, but you
are doubtless better posted than I.”

“If I weren’t I’d hold my mouth,” muttered the other, though being
careful not to speak loud enough for Mr. Johnson to hear. In a louder
tone he cried:

“I can arrest the whole crowd for vagrancy, and bring them up as
suspicious characters. I calculate enough can be brought against them
to put them in the lockup to-night, and to send them adrift to-morrow.
At any rate, I propose to see what can be done. I want some one to go
for Sheriff Stanyan. As Mr. Jones, the station agent, may wish to have
his place cleared of such stock before night, I should advise that the
messenger go for the officer with all speed possible.”

At the conclusion of this speech the ’squire turned to see what effect
his words had upon the little group of homeless strangers. He was
disappointed to find that they had not brought any visible show of
trepidation to any of them.

“Look here, Trask,” addressing one of the spectators, continued the
justice, “you have got a good horse. Go to Bradford and find Sheriff
Stanyan. Tell him I will have the papers all made out by the time he
gets here.”

“It’s awful traveling, ’squire, and my horse----”

“Don’t stop to consider the traveling, Trask, at a time like this. The
safety of the public must be upheld. You shall lose nothing by the

Without further opposition the man called Trask started for his team,
which was hitched nearby, and a minute later he rode away on his
errand, while ’Squire Hardy went into the station agent’s office to
make out the required paper.

Though there was little display of excitement on the surface, it was
really an exciting situation. The onlookers began to gather in little
knots to talk over the affair, a few blaming the ’squire, but the
majority upholding him in his decisive action. As is usual under such
conditions, the forlorn strangers, ragged and penniless, proved to be
equally friendless.

Ragged Rob improved the opportunity to speak a few words of
encouragement to his companions, trying to assure them that it would be
all right as soon as Deacon Cornhill should return. But even he felt
in his heart that the kindly deacon would be powerless to meet and
overcome the increasing enmity of his townspeople.


To add to the uncomfortableness of the situation, threatenings of rain
began to appear about this time, but the crowd of spectators showed no
signs of dispersing, one and all waiting with curious interest to see
what the end would be.

In the midst of the lull in the scene the ’squire reappeared, holding
in his hand now the warrant for the arrest of the newcomers under the
charge of Ragged Rob, who stood by the side of Joe and her mother at
this time.

“I reckon I have made it strong enough to hold ’em,” declared the
justice, referring to the paper in his hand. “I hope Stanyan will get
here before dark. Ah, it’s going to rain soon. I wish Stanyan were here

The same wish may have been in the minds of others, and ’Squire Hardy
was not the only one who consulted his watch and calculated that it
would be fully an hour later before the officer could be expected.

At this juncture the sound of a wagon approaching was heard, and all
turned expectantly up the road, to discover a double team coming toward
the station at a smart rate of speed. The seat contained one man and
two boys. Covered from head to foot with the flour that had blown over
him, it was no wonder the driver was not recognized until he was near
at hand.

“It’s Deacon Cornhill!” cried one of the bystanders. “But what in the
world has he been doing with himself?”

The deacon did present a singular appearance, but he was unmindful of
this, as he drove his team alongside the station platform, calling out,
in his cheery voice:

“I hope you ain’t got tired o’ waiting, but I went as spry as I could.
Here, boys, help throw the things in, and then we’ll give the sick ones
a boost. Jim, jess hold my hosses.”

“Don’t know as I care about mixing up in sich an affair,” muttered the
man addressed, quickly retreating to the rear of the crowd to escape a
second invitation of the kind.

“I should like to know what you are up to?” demanded ’Squire Hardy,
advancing, while he flourished the document in his hand so the other
might see it. “I have sent for Mr. Stanyan to attend to these folks. I
reckon he’ll be in time to look after them,” pulling out his watch and
consulting it.

“We won’t bother Mr. Stanyan, and there was no need for you to send for
him, ’Squire Hardy.”

“I ain’t so sure about that, deacon. At any rate I have sent for him,
and before I shall let these critters go, I want to know what you are
going to do with them.”

“So long as they are peaceful you have no business to meddle. Won’t
some of you lend a hand here to get this poor cripple into the wagon?”
appealing to the bystanders.

“I asked you a civil question and you haven’t answered it, deacon,”
said ’Squire Hardy, stepping in front of the other.

No one had volunteered to lend their assistance in reply to his request
to help him and Rob lift Mr. Little into the wagon, while the horses
were becoming restive each moment, and there was no one at the bit.
The rain was beginning to fall in big drops, and altogether it was no
wonder Deacon Cornhill began to grow nervous and discouraged.

“Why not let them go, ’squire?” asked Mr. Johnson, who seemed to be an
honest man. “It’s going to rain hard in a few minutes, and the deacon
needs every moment if he would get under cover before it strikes.”

With these words the speaker took hold to help, and in a few minutes
the entire party were seated in the wagon, though by that time the rain
was falling fast.

Deacon Cornhill climbed up to the driver’s seat, taking the reins
stoutly in his hands. It needed no urging on his part to start the
animals, and with a series of yells and gibes ringing in his ears, the
good man drove smartly away, glad to escape so easily.

’Squire Hardy stood silent, but his face was livid with rage as he saw
the strange party leave the station. The crowd of spectators had now
sought the cover of the building, and were exchanging comments with one
another upon the singular conduct of the deacon.

“Let the old fool go in the rain,” declared the ’squire. “He ain’t
heard the last of this, not by a long shot. I’ll set Stanyan after ’em,
and if he can’t cook their goose I will, if it costs me all I’m worth.
Deacon Cornhill needn’t think he is going to jeopardize the safety of
the whole town by any such tomfoolery. I’ll give you a dollar, Joe
Dollard, if you’ll foller ’em so as to tell where they go. If the
deacon takes ’em home you will see lively times before morning.”

But Deacon Cornhill had no intention of taking his party home. He
feared too much the sharp tongue of Mrs. Cornhill, whom he had already
found was opposed to his scheme, to hazard such a venture. So he
followed a road which led out of the village on the east, and drove
ahead at a smart gallop through the rain, which was soon falling in a
torrent. As there was no covering to the wagon, the entire party was
exposed to the downpouring elements, though the two invalids had been
so covered with a large rubber blanket in the wagon that they were
partially sheltered from the rain.

The only ones who really enjoyed the ride were the three boys--Chick,
Ruddy and Tony--though two others, known as Tom and Jerry, joined with
them in the outbursts of merriment.

Rob, their leader, realized that the halo had fled from the picture,
and that only the dark background was now revealed. He saw a bitter
struggle ahead in order to meet the dangers likely to surround them in
this new life. In this unexpected crisis his companions were not likely
to prove of help, but he was the last boy to despair. His whole life
had been a battle against adverse circumstances, and he was not going
to falter now.

Thus he spoke encouragingly to his low-spirited companions, and looked
hopefully forward to their destination, trying to form an idea of the
looks of the place, little dreaming in his youthful enthusiasm of its
actual desolation.

The road to Break o’ Day, as the place to which they were going was
known, wound up through a deep wood for over four miles, and not a
dwelling was to be seen on the entire route. Though they were somewhat
protected from the rain under the overhanging forest, it was a dismal
ride, and every one hailed with joy the opening at the summit of the
hill or mountain.

The deacon spoke encouragingly to the weary horses, which started into
a smart trot now that the way was comparatively level.

The Break o’ Day tract of country really consisted of a thousand acres
of wild land, for the most, which had been largely cleared of its first
growth by charcoal burners a few years before, and had been allowed to
send up a second growth of saplings now in that age termed “sprouts.”

Of course, the strangers to this isolated spot paid little heed to
their surroundings, as one and all tried to escape as much as possible
the drenching rain, which was falling faster than ever, if that were
possible. But Rob looked in vain for any sign of a house until they
had gone half a mile, when he discovered a solitary frame house of two
stories, and which had once been painted red on the outside. This paint
was now worn off so that the broad sides of the building looked brown
and dilapidated in the storm. There was not a whole window in the house
and the door at the front side hung from one hinge.

But the gaze of the approaching observers was suddenly attracted by the
sight of a couple of horsemen riding up in front of the building from
the opposite direction.

Deacon Cornhill had seen the two men and, pulling up the horses he was
driving, he said, in a low but husky tone:

“It’s Sheriff Stanyan and ’Squire Hardy. They’ve got here ahead of us.”


The reins trembled in the hands of Deacon Cornhill, who dared not
contemplate the result of another meeting with his enemy. Rob proved
himself better fitted to meet this emergency, and he asked:

“Is there no other house that we can have?”

“This is the only house on Break o’ Day. There are some sod houses that
the coal burners lived in, but they are not fit places for you to stay.”

“If others have lived there we can. I do not believe they have seen us.
See? they are dismounting and leading their horses under the shelter of
the trees. Can we get to one of these sod houses without passing that

“Oh, yes; there are two or three of them down this cartway a short

“Then drive down there, and we will see what the ’squire will do.”

Nothing loath, the deacon headed the horses down a narrow grass-grown
path, where neither the footfalls of the animals nor the revolutions of
the wheels gave back any sound.

Little dreaming of the close proximity of those for whom they were
looking, Sheriff Stanyan and ’Squire Hardy, after seeing that their
horses could not stray, hastily sought the old house, that they might
escape the pelting rain while they watched and waited for their prey.

Meanwhile Deacon Cornhill drove slowly along the pathway, where the
bushes overhung them so that they slapped the occupants of the wagon
in the face unless they held them back with their hands. After going
a little way a small clearing was reached, on the upper edge of which
Rob saw the open door of a couple of the oddest dwellings he had ever
seen. In the great city some of his companions had left dark, dismal
quarters under the very streets to come to this remote region to seek
the shelter of low structures built of poles standing up in slanting
position so their tops met, and the inclined plane covered with grass
and sods. The rear ends of these simple dwellings were formed by big
rocks against which they had been constructed, while the front was
open the size of a door. Stone chimneys had been built at the further
extremity, and through the open doorway could be seen the rough

As the deacon stopped the horses in front of one of these primitive
dwellings, Rob and the rest of the boys sprang down to the ground, and
a hasty unloading of the few articles brought was begun. Mrs. Willet
was lifted from the wagon and carried into the sod house, to be placed
on one of the blankets. Then came Mr. Little’s turn, and he was carried
into the rude dwelling just beyond, it having been decided to divide
into two parties.

Deacon Cornhill had not forgotten to take along a small supply of food,
a few potatoes, some flour and pork and other articles of scarcely less
account, though less bulky. But there was no furniture, and when the
last thing had been removed from the wagon and Deacon Cornhill surveyed
the scanty store and the wet, gloomy surroundings, he could not help
feeling a bitter disappointment at the way his bright plans had turned

“Well, keep up good courage, boys, and we will see to-morrow if
something can’t be done for you. This is all my land round about here,
and such as it is make as free with it as if you owned it. I know it
ain’t rich soil, but in the valleys you will find a chance to dip up
patches to plant. The coal burners plowed up some of the best places,
so it won’t be quite like new sod. There is plenty of wood, and I
advise you to build a fire the first thing you do.

“I s’pose I shall have to go home, as mother will be anxious about me.
But I will come up in the morning, when we will lay our plans for the
futur’. I hope the sheriff won’t find you. If he does, you must do the
best you can, Rob. I can’t see how he can arrest you so long as you
are peaceful. I will come up as early as I can to-morrow. Let me advise
the rest of you to mind Rob in what he says. He’s got a good head on
him, and he will help you out if anybody can.”

With these words, the honest-hearted man climbed back to the
wagon-seat, gathered up the reins and headed the horses homeward,
though, as he rode away, his gaze was turned backward until the bushes
hid him from view.

“There is one honest man in this wilderness,” said Mrs. Willet, “but it
seems as if every one else was against us. I suppose we must hope for
the best.”

“To be sure, mother,” replied Rob, who always addressed her thus, “and
with the clearing away of the rain we will hope for better fare. Come,
boys, help me get some wood so we can have a fire.”

The other boys lending their assistance, while Rob’s mother and the
girls cleaned up the interior of the camps, a fire was soon blazing
merrily in each of the rude dwellings, giving a surprising cheerfulness
to the scene. Preparations for supper were begun at once, and
altogether the newcomers were as comfortable and hopeful as could be

The rain was still falling steadily, though not as rapidly as at first,
while it was growing dark.

Without stopping to eat supper with the others, Rob left the camp
to see if he could learn anything of the two men at the old house,
promising not to be gone long.

Upon coming out into the road within sight of the place no sign of
life was apparent, until he came near enough to see the horses still
standing where their owners had left them.

Rob smiled as he thought of the officers waiting within for the
appearance of himself and companions, while he stationed himself so
he could watch for them to appear, if they were in the house, as he

Fifteen minutes wore tediously away, and it was becoming too dark to
distinguish an object very far off, when he saw two men leave the old
red house. He had no doubt these were Stanyan and Hardy, a fact which
was made conclusive when he overheard the latter say:

“By Jove, Stanyan! I wouldn’t stay there any longer for all the
hoodlums of New York.”

“So the old red house is haunted after all,” said the companion of the
’squire, and even in the darkness Rob could understand that the two men
were greatly excited, if not frightened, over something they had seen
or heard.

“Them sounds--sort of murder cries--sent the cold chills up my back,”
acknowledged Hardy. “Come, Stanyan, it can’t be the deacon has taken
his tribe up this way, and we might as well go home. What an awful dark
night it is getting to be.”

“It was a mistake we hadn’t come the other way.”

“Oh, well, it can’t make any difference in the end. Wherever they have
gone for the night, we can fix ’em to-morrow, eh? I’ll give you a cool
fifty dollars to help me outwit the rascally deacon, Stanyan!”

“That’s easy enough done, ’squire. Whoa, Tom! what in the world are you
snorting for, just as if you had seen a ghost out here in the dark?”

“Perhaps he was asleep and you scart him by coming up so sudden,” said
his companion.

“I believe I heard some one move in the bushes!”


Rob, who was crouching in the bushes close by, dared not breathe lest
he should be discovered by the sheriff, who came within easy reach of
him. But the sheriff’s search was short, and made in such a blundering
manner that he failed to discover our hero.

“Come, Stanyan,” called out Hardy, “what’s the use of stumbling around
there in the wet bushes? We shall get soaking wet, and I am always
liable to have an attack of rheumatism when I get wet.”

The ’squire was already unhitching his horse, and a minute later Rob
had the satisfaction of hearing the two riding away.

“Good riddance!” said Rob, under his breath, as he started to return to
the coal camps.

When Rob got back to the sod houses containing his friends he found
the others anxiously awaiting him. A plain supper, prepared after
considerable trouble, there being only a couple of small pails in
which to do the cooking, was ready to be eaten by the firelight, and
while our hero joined in with the others, he told what he had seen
and overheard at the old red house, excepting the statements of the
two men in regard to the place being haunted. Rob was wise enough to
believe that no good would come of mentioning such a fact, if it were
true, which he did not even entertain.

After supper further preparations were made for the comfort, such
as could be provided, for the two parties. The united numbers made
fourteen persons in the little band of strangers in a strange
land. These consisted of Robert Bayne, our hero, and his mother, a
kind-hearted woman into whose life had seemed to come all the shadows
and sufferings arising from the evil doings of a husband who was a
fugitive from justice. It was not really known whether Mr. Bayne was
living or not, but if he were, there was a price set on his liberty,
and his wife breathed easier in his absence than she could possibly
have done knowing his whereabouts. Mrs. Bayne had pinned her faith on
Rob, and hoped and looked forward to a future freer from care than her
past twenty years had been. But, in spite of her outward cheerfulness
the shadow of the past still darkened her life.

Then there were Mrs. Willet, the invalid widow, and her only daughter,
Josephine, or Joe, as she was generally called. Joe was one year
younger than Rob, of a cheerful disposition and a willing worker, with
a judgment remarkable for one of her years.

Mr. James Little, still, as he believed, suffering from an injury
received when thrown from a heavy truck wagon in New York City; his
wife Sarah, and their children--Lawrence and Mary--aged, respectively,
eighteen and sixteen, made up another family. We shall soon learn more
of them.

A kind old lady was “Aunt Vinnie,” whose only care--and that was
enough--was to look after her “boys,” Tom and Jerry. The history of
these three was quite unknown, except that Aunt Vinnie claimed the boys
to be the children of a sister who had died when they were very young.
They were twins. At some time the three must have had surnames, but
none of their present companions ever heard them spoken.

Besides these were the three street waifs, who had been picked up
and championed by Ragged Rob--Chick, Ruddy and Tony--whose ages ran
from ten to twelve years, all of whom were far older in the varied
experiences which come to such outcasts.

Both Mr. Little and Mrs. Willet were given the first attention, and
they were made so comfortable that they slept for the most part of
the night. The younger members, used to sleeping out of doors on the
pavements, or at least under some box or wall, lay down on the earthen
floor of these sod houses and soon fell into a refreshing sleep. But
neither Rob nor his mother sought sleep, while Aunt Vinnie and Mrs.
Little only nodded at times.

The rain cleared away before midnight, and the following morning the
sun shone brightly, and the clear, warm atmosphere of a spring day made
the landscape beautiful and stirred the hearts of the lonely wayfarers
with the spirit of good cheer.

“Isn’t this beautiful, delightful!” cried Joe Willet, clapping her
hands in wild ecstacy of joy. “Look yonder, Rob! did you ever see such
lovely flowers?” pointing to some clumps of mountain laurels. “I can
hardly stop to get breakfast before I pick some of them. Oh, I know we
shall be so happy here; shan’t we, mother?”

“I trust so, my child,” and the mother did not dare to speak of the
fear in her heart.

“The country looks pretty, Joe,” replied Rob, “and I hail it as a good
sign that the storm has cleared away so soon. But I must look around a
bit to see what we can do. I hope Deacon Cornhill will get here before

Now that it was daylight Rob saw that no signs of a dwelling was in
sight. In fact, it was as quiet, except for the songs of a few birds,
as if they had been left in the heart of a great wilderness. This
seemed very strange for those who had come from the din, bustle and
confusion of the great city.

“We shall soon get used to it,” declared Rob.

“Mercy me!” exclaimed Aunt Vinnie, “I don’t b’lieve I ever can. And as
for Tommy and Jerry, why, they will go just wild.”

After breakfast Rob and Larry went up to the old red house, but found
no evidence that the building had been occupied for some time. It
showed even worse ruin inside than it did outside. At places boards had
been torn off, as if used for fuel, and few of the doors remained. As
they passed from room to room the floor creaked dismally beneath their
feet, while bats and birds flew about their heads, screaming out as if
angry at this invasion of their domains.

“If we come here to live it will require lots of fixing up,” said Rob.

“I don’t care what you think of it,” declared Larry, “but I jess feel
like cutting off my big toe for coming up here into this dead man’s

When the forenoon had passed without bringing the deacon to see them,
Rob grew anxious, and soon after dinner, accompanied by Chick and
Ruddy, he started for Basinburg, hoping to meet their friend on the way.

Finally they came in sight of Basinburg without meeting any one.
Rob was beginning to feel that there was something wrong about the
non-appearance of Deacon Cornhill, and not having been to the latter’s
house, he was obliged to inquire of the first person they met how to
reach his place. This individual proved to be a tall, slab-sided
youth, a little older than Rob, who eyed the other closely without
replying to his question.

“When you get done looking at us,” said Rob, “I shall be glad to have
you tell me where Deacon Cornhill lives.”

“Reckon ’ou’re some uv th’ tribe what came to town yesterday?” he
ventured to question.

“I shall be pleased to have you answer my question,” said Rob.

“By gum! you’re cooners!” and he started on a run toward the village.

“I should say you’re the biggest cooner!” muttered Rob, not liking the
conduct of the other. However, he kept on in the direction of the town,
closely followed by Chick and Ruddy.

The store and post office was soon seen, standing in a little clump of
buildings, and it was evident that the tow-headed youth had spread the
news of their coming, for a crowd was beginning to gather in front of
the place. It required but a glance from Rob to see that the looks of
this party boded him anything but good.

Believing that it was best for him to put on a bold front and meet
the men squarely in whatever they should try to do, Rob showed no
hesitation in his advance.


It was apparent from the looks of the spectators that they had anything
but a friendly greeting for the newcomers. Among them Rob saw ’Squire
Hardy seated on a big box, closely watching their approach. A number
of boys, whose ages ranged from twelve years to twenty, had hastily
collected, and these pushed themselves forward into the pathway of the
three from Break o’ Day.

One of these, whom Rob was soon to learn was the son of ’Squire Hardy,
immediately made himself prominent, saying, in a sneering tone, as he
pointed at Rob:

“Ain’t he a pretty duck, boys?”

“I wish to ask where Deacon Cornhill lives,” said Rob, concealing his
chagrin at the words of Ralph Hardy.

His intended question was followed by a painful silence, until the
’squire said:

“Well, why don’t you ask your question and have done with it? I should
think you would want to know the fix you have got the pious old deacon
into. Whose barn did you sleep in last night?”

“Nobody’s barn, sir. Will you tell me where Deacon Cornhill lives?”

At this point the ’squire held a hurried consultation with one of his
companions without heeding the words of Rob.

Not caring to have more to say to this crowd, Rob started to go on up
the village, when young Hardy stepped in front of him, saying:

“You ain’t answered the old man’s question yet. Where’d you stop last

“I do not know as that matters to you as long----”

“Mean to sass me, do you?” demanded Ralph Hardy, doubling up his fist
and acting as if he meant to fight. Half a dozen other boys, evidently
thinking there was going to be some “fun,” pressed forward closely upon
his heels.

By this time Rob and his companions were surrounded, so it looked as if
they would have trouble before they could get away.

“Punch him, Ralph; he’s nothing but a cooner!” called out the voice of
the tow-headed youth from the rear.

None of the men offered to stop the boys, but they watched the
proceedings with evident pleasure.

“I’m not meddling with you; let me go,” said Rob.

“You ain’t answered dad’s question. You can’t go till you have answered
that, you New York hoodlum.”

Though the words and tone of the speaker nettled Rob, he did not like
to begin a quarrel there, which he knew would likely work against
him, whatever the immediate result, so he started to move away without
paying further heed to the pugilistic young Hardy.

At that moment some one threw a ball of mud which struck him upon the
cheek, where the most of it stuck until he had wiped it away.

At this loud laughter, in which the men joined, rang tauntingly on his

“Looks well!” cried out one of the spectators. “Let me see if I can’t
fix the other cheek like it,” and a second mud-ball struck Rob in the
face, the moist dirt filling one eye so that he could not see plainly
with it. Abused nature could stand no more, and Little Hickory was
aroused. As soon as he could make himself heard for the loud huzzas
that followed this last insult, he said, in a tone that showed he was
in earnest:

“Stand aside, sir, and let me pass.”

“Lay so much as a finger on me if you dare!” replied Ralph Hardy,
without offering to let him pass. “I dare you to touch me!”

“I don’t want any trouble with you,” replied Rob. “We came here
peacefully, and it is you who are making the fuss.”

“You lie!” exclaimed young Hardy, shaking his fist in Little Hickory’s
face, “and daresn’t say you don’t!”

“If it were you alone and myself alone I’d make you eat them words,”
retorted Rob, his face now showing his righteous anger, while he
continued to advance.

“You’re a sneaking, low-lived, dirt-covered hoodlum of the alleys of
New York, and you have no business----”

Ralph Hardy had got so far, when, flourishing his fist in the face of
Little Hickory, he hit him plump on the nose.

It is doubtful if young Hardy had really intended to strike Rob, as it
was his purpose to make the latter begin the fight if he could, and the
blow was not a severe one. But, coupled with what had been said, it
was more than undaunted Little Hickory could bear, and he caught the
surprised bully by the waist with a strength which enabled him to lift
the other clear from the ground.

Just how it was done none of the spectators could say, but they saw
’Squire Hardy’s son descrying a circle in the air, and then he was
carried upward until he fell sprawling in the midst of a big mud puddle
half a rod away.

“Hooray!” cried Chick, who, with Ruddy, had been an anxious witness of
the preceding scene, but his cry was drowned by the uproar coming from
the crowd of men and boys.

“He’s killed Ralph!” shouted ’Squire Hardy. “Take him, boys!”

The onlookers immediately made a rush for the intrepid youth and his
two companions.

For a moment it looked as if Rob would be torn limb from limb, but in
order to do that it was first necessary to catch him.

If Little Hickory did not possess a pair of light feet, he did own a
pair of strong arms.

The first boy to reach him after Ralph shared the fate of the other.
The next was sent headlong to the ground at the foot of the steps
leading to the store.

By this time some of the crowd had rushed upon the rear, to be met by
Chick and Ruddy. This twain, if small, proved themselves to be worthy
of their leader. The first boy to feel their furious resistance was the
tow-headed youth already mentioned, and he was doubled to the earth by
their united efforts. Then they came in pairs, and so thick and fast
that the doughty Chick and Ruddy soon found more on their hands than
they could well handle.

Finding himself so hard pressed that he was likely to be borne to the
ground--crushed by an overwhelming power--Chick nimbly climbed the
tall figure of a stalwart young man, where he perched himself on his
shoulders, keeping his position in spite of the efforts of the other to
take him off.

Ruddy was scarcely less nimble, and finding himself beset by so many
enemies that he could not hold his own, dodged between the legs of the
nearest, sending him heels over head to the ground.

A second shared his fate, and, by dodging to and fro, squirming like
an eel as he passed one after another of the excited assailants, Ruddy
reached the outskirts of the crowd.

He might have easily escaped then, but seeing the desperate situation
of Rob, to say nothing of Chick, he sprang back into the fight like a
little game-cock, that never knows when it is getting the worst of it.

Assailed upon every hand, Little Hickory, as valiant a battle as he was
waging, sorely needed whatever assistance he could have. Regardless
of what might follow, in his excitement and awakened determination to
win at any cost, he sent his enemies reeling backward on either hand,
fairly forcing his way through the crowd.

“Don’t let the hoodlums get away!” cried ’Squire Hardy, hurrying
forward to join in the fray if necessary. “He’s killed Ralph!”

This announcement was enough to cause the men to take a hand in the
affray, and they rushed into the exciting scene just as Rob had finally
succeeded in reaching the side of Ruddy.

At that moment some one threw a stone the size of a man’s fist, and
the missile striking Little Hickory, he fell to the ground with a low
cry of pain.

“They’ve killed Rob!” cried Ruddy. “I’ll kill the hull scab of ’em!”

Catching up a handful of stones that lay only too handy for him, he
began to hurl them into the midst of the crowd, which so frightened the
men and boys that a hasty retreat was begun.

Crash went a pane of glass, where one of the rocks went hurling through
the store window, followed by a series of wild cries:

“Look out for the little devil or he’ll kill us!”


As Ruddy raised his right arm over his head to throw the missile, which
might have struck some one with deadly effect, a clear, sharp voice
rang out over the startling scene, quickly ending the outbreak:

“Hold, boy! don’t throw that stone, or I will horsewhip you within an
inch of your life!”

The first word had been sufficient to check the rash boy in his
dangerous work, when he turned hastily about to find a man had ridden
close to the edge of the crowd, and, standing up in his carriage, held
a long, stout whip poised over his head ready to send its stinging lash
around his body did he fail to obey him.

“What is all this rumpus about?” demanded this newcomer, who instantly
made himself master of the situation.

“These youngsters are raising particular cain with our boys, Dr.
Menter. I don’t know but they have killed Ralph,” said ’Squire Hardy.

“Looks as if your boy was coming out of it better than this fellow
with the bleeding head,” replied the man in the carriage, who was the
village physician, beginning to step out upon the ground.

Ruddy had dropped the rocks in his hands and stood with looks of
combined fear and wonder. Chick had already dropped from his perch on a
man’s shoulders and sought the side of Ruddy.

“I hope he has been killed!” declared the ’squire.

“Look out what you say, ’Squire Hardy, for such words as those might
make you trouble and be inconvenient to explain in a courtroom.”

“So you stand up for the hoodlum, do you, doctor?”

“No, sir; I simply speak for fair play. It was a coward who threw that
stone, and he has laid himself open to the law and a serious punishment
if this boy has been fatally injured.”

“He began the quarrel, and it was done in self-defense.”

“Let me advise you as a friend, ’squire, not to say too much. I will
see if the boy is seriously hurt.”

While the other muttered over something under his breath, Dr. Menter
knelt beside Rob, to make an examination of the wound. This was not
found to be of a serious nature, and in a few minutes our hero was able
to sit up.

“You’ve come out all right, youngster,” said the physician, “but it
came pretty near being a close call.”

Upon finding that no one had been killed, the spectators, who had been
rather frightened over the outcome of the affair a little while before,
now boldly stepped forward.

“Stand back!” ordered Dr. Menter. “The boy is coming around all right,
and there is no need of crowding upon us so.”

“Perhaps you have not heard who this fellow is, doctor,” said the
’squire, determined to follow up his side of the question. “He belongs
to a herd of cattle the demented Deacon Cornhill brought into our midst
yesterday from the slums of New York.”

“The deacon has told me of his colonization scheme,” replied the
doctor, smiling. “But I am afraid he will never see it carried out.”

“You are right, there. We are not going to let them stay in town any
longer than it takes to get them out.”

“I do not believe you understand me, ’squire. The deacon took a
sudden cold in the rain yesterday and is sick in bed threatened with

As this was a bit of startling news to the spectators, one and all
showed considerable concern.

“No business to have been fooling around with sich critters in the
rain. He’d been all right if he’d gone right home,” declared the
unfeeling ’squire.

“I can’t say about that, but he is a very sick man. There, I guess you
will come out in good shape,” said the physician to Rob, as he placed a
plaster over the cut the latter had received on his head.

“Thank you, sir. I come down to the town to see Deacon Cornhill,” said
Rob. “I do not know what I shall do if he is sick.”

“He certainly cannot do anything for you now. Still, if you want to go
up to his house you can ride with me. I am going right back as soon as
I can go to the post office.”

Rob thanked the physician, who seemed like an honest man, and concluded
to accept his offer. Chick and Ruddy he advised to go back to Break
o’ Day. The crowd continued to scowl upon them, but the fact that Dr.
Menter had spoken in their behalf kept any one, even ’Squire Hardy,
from uttering any further threats against them at that time.

On the way to the home of Deacon Cornhill the doctor questioned Rob
closely in regard to his situation, when our hero frankly explained the
matter from the time he had met Mr. Cornhill in New York.

“I am afraid you can’t do much,” said Dr. Menter, frankly, as Rob
concluded. “You do not seem to have anything to work with. Besides, I
should judge that you must all have a very slight idea of getting a
living in the country. You say you want to cultivate the land at Break
o’ Day. What do you know about taking care of crops?”

Rob had to confess that he and his associates knew nothing. In fact,
he realized more than he had ever before the peculiar helplessness of
himself and companions.

“The best thing you can do is to go back to the city,” said the doctor.

“We haven’t the money to do it,” acknowledged Rob. “All together, we
cannot raise a dime.”

The doctor whistled.

“How do you think you are going to live here? Had the deacon promised
you any money?”

“No, sir; but he thought we could get work. We are willing to try our

“It would be surprising if you all felt that way. I should judge a
crowd picked up in the way yours was would have at least some who would
be deadheads on the hands of the others. You say there are several
among you who are unable to work if they wished?”

“Two,” faltered Rob, for the first time losing courage. Somehow the
candid words of Dr. Menter struck to his heart as nothing said by
others had done.

“Do you know what I think?”

“That we made a mistake in coming?”

“Worse than that, young man. The deacon is famous for his foolish
schemes, and that this caps the climax. No other man in town would
have gone good for Jonas Lyford, and with the prospect of paying up
another’s debt, which is likely to take all he is worth, I should have
thought Deacon Cornhill would have felt like letting you and your
companions alone.”

“We shall not make Mr. Cornhill any extra trouble, sir.”

“The safest way for you to make good your words will be by leaving town
at once. I can see that you have created an unfavorable impression
already. Still, I feel very sure that money enough to pay your fare to
the city will be forthcoming if you conclude to go. I will give five
dollars toward it myself.”

“You are very kind, sir.”

“You think you will go?”

Rob hesitated a moment before replying, but there was no mistaking his
meaning when he spoke, low, but firmly:

“I can’t answer for my friends, but I have come to stay.”


Dr. Menter made no reply to Rob’s last statement, but a few minutes
later, as he turned his horse into the driveway leading to a
comfortable-looking, old-fashioned, two-story house, he said:

“This is where the deacon lives. He is so sick I do not believe he will
care to see you, so you had better remain in my carriage until I come
out. I will say to him that you have come.”

Rob could do no better than to take up with this advice, though the
time hung heavy on his hands until the physician reappeared.

“I have spoken to the deacon about you, and he seems greatly concerned
over your welfare. I could not think of letting you see him in his
present state. But, as your situation is such that something has got to
be done at once, I will act for him for a few days, until we can see
how he gets along. Now say to me just what you have come here to say to

“I am sorry Deacon Cornhill is so sick,” said Rob. “Is there nothing I
can do for him?”

“You show a pretty unselfish spirit to think of some one else before
yourself, considering the hopeless situation you are in. I do not think
you can do anything for the deacon at present. Is there anything I can
do for you?”

“We need tools, sir, to begin work on the land, and we want to find
chances to work so we can earn money.”

“Now you talk business. In regard to the first matter, I shall take the
liberty to borrow of the deacon for you. In the second case, I have got
to do a little thinking. How many of you wish places, and what can you

“There is Larry Little; he’s eighteen and stout enough to do anything
he knows about. Then there are Tom and Jerry, younger than he is, but
they could do chores. Besides ’em, there is myself, who is willing to
try anything.”

“None of you know much about farm work. But I will see in a little
while. First I will look after those tools, and I will take them along
with you as far as I am going.”

Dr. Menter, who was considerable of a farmer himself, having spent his
boyhood on a farm, went into Deacon Cornhill’s tool house, soon coming
out with two shovels, two hoes, an ax and a pickax.

“These will be enough for you to begin with,” he said, with a smile, as
he placed them in his carriage.

As has been shown, there were two roads leading to Break o’ Day, and
as Dr. Menter had another patient to visit in the west part of the
town, he advised Rob to ride with him in that direction, and after
leaving him take what was called “The Flying Jump” road to Break o’
Day. On the way the physician explained to Rob considerable about
farming, and told him how to begin by spading up the ground ready for

“Select the level places between the ridges and the hollows where the
soil is richer and deeper. There is some good land on Break o’ Day, but
there is more that is poor, either sandy or rocky. Let me advise you
not to dig anywhere the grass won’t grow.”

So Rob went back to his humble home by the same road that ’Squire Hardy
and Sheriff Stanyan had taken in going to Break o’ Day. He found his
mother and friends anxiously awaiting his coming, excepting Chick and
Ruddy, who had not returned.

Rob gave as encouraging an account of his visit to the village as he
could, and as he displayed the tools he had brought with which to begin
there was a curious examination made and many utterances of surprise
which must have sounded ridiculous to the farming population of
Basinburg. But it must be remembered that none of the younger members
of the party had ever seen anything of the kind, or had the remotest
idea of the uses to which they could be applied. Even Rob, who had
listened attentively to what Dr. Menter had said, could not give any
very clear explanation.

He believed the best illustration he could give was to put them to use,
and he at once looked about for the most suitable place to begin his

“Come, Larry, here is a shovel for you. Tom and Jerry can each use a

“Oh, my! won’t that be fun?” cried the latter.

It was not surprising that the girls, and even Mrs. Willet and Aunt
Vinnie, came out to witness the “breaking of the sod” for the new life.

But strange tools in new hands become awkward, and at the very outset
Larry blundered and fell in a heap, amid the clapping of hands and
merry peals of laughter from his companions.

Picking himself up rather crestfallen, Larry went at his task more
judiciously than at first, so that in a few minutes he was doing nearly
as well as Rob.

But it was hard work for these green hands, and though Little Hickory
stuck to his task with commendable perseverance, Larry soon tired of
it. Tom and Jerry had gone off to chase a bird, and he could not see
why he should toil so while the others were enjoying themselves, so
he threw his shovel into the bushes and followed after his younger

Rob said nothing, keeping steadily at his work, soon turning over a
good square of sod.

Joe Willet, having seen where Larry had flung his shovel, went and got
the tool, and began herself to imitate Rob with a hearty good will.

“Stop, Joe,” said Rob, “this is no work for girls to do. There are
enough of us boys to do this.”

“I wish I was a boy, so I could,” she said. “A girl does not seem to
amount to much out here. I am afraid----”

“You’re afraid of nothing, Joe. There is enough for you to do in the

“I am afraid Larry does not like work so well as you do, Rob.”

“P’raps he’ll do better next time, Joe. I did not want to scold him the
first time. I don’t see where Chick and Ruddy are. I am more anxious
about ’em.”

This anxiety on the part of Rob increased as the afternoon wore away
without seeing the return of the two boys, and just as the sun was
sinking toward the tree-tops in the west, Rob shouldered his shovel and
started toward the coal camps with his companions, resolved to go in
search of the missing ones.

“You’ll have supper first,” said his mother. “It is all ready, and you
must be tired.”

Rob could not deny this, though he said nothing about his aches and
pains as he seated himself upon a rock to eat his plain supper of salt
pork and brown bread from a piece of hemlock bark that he had picked up
for a plate. Everything was in keeping with his forlorn condition, and
to add to its dreary aspect his mother said:

“I don’t know what we shall do to-morrow, Rob, as there is not enough
for all of us to live upon until the next day.”

“I shall----”

“Here comes some gemmens in a wagon!” cried Tony, running into the
place at that moment.

Rob looked out to see a horse and wagon, the latter containing three
men, drawn up in front of their home. That they boded him evil he was
aware from the fact that one of the trio was ’Squire Hardy.

“So this is where you have landed?” said the latter.

Rob made no reply, while he saw the other men get out of the wagon and
begin to drive up a stake in front of the coal camp, dealing lusty
blows with an ax as the piece of wood sank deep into the earth. When
this had become firmly set, they produced a sheet of paper which Rob
could see was covered with writing, and tacked it upon a strip of
board, that was in turn nailed to the upright.

“What does this mean?” demanded Rob.

“Read for yourself, you New York vagrant,” cried ’Squire Hardy, “and
see if you dare to defy the law any longer.”

“It is quite likely he cannot read,” said one of the other men, with a
look around the scene.

“Well, read it to him and his precious brood,” snapped the ’squire.


“It is a notice for you and your crowd to leave the town within
twenty-four hours,” replied the man addressed, pointing to the paper he
had just helped affix to the stake.

“And it is signed by these gentlemen, who are two of the selectmen of
the town,” added ’Squire Hardy, triumphantly. “Now I guess you’ll get.
If you don’t the worst’ll be your own. We’ll show you that New York
can’t dump her slums here.”

Rob offered no reply, and without further words the three men rode
away, leaving a frightened group behind them.

“Oh, Rob!” cried Mrs. Bayne, “what shall we do? what shall we do?”

“Oh, why did we ever leave the city?” moaned Aunt Vinnie. “Why weren’t
we satisfied with what we had?”

“Aunt Vinnie,” said Joe, stoutly, “I wouldn’t go back to the city
for all it holds. They can’t kill us, and we’ll get our living here
somehow, won’t we, Rob?”

“To be sure we will, Joe. Have courage, mother. I wish I knew where
Chick and Ruddy are.”

“What shall we do?” moaned Aunt Vinnie. “This terrible country will be
the death of us.”

While Rob was more concerned over the outcome of this last movement on
the part of his enemy, he tried to appear cheerful, saying:

“They will not touch us for at least another day, and sometimes great
things happen in twenty-four hours. Just now I am more anxious about
Chick and Ruddy. I am afraid something has happened to ’em. I must go
to the village again.”

“Let Larry go with you,” said Joe.

“You need him here more than I do. Never fear for me, Joe. I had hoped
we might have got a better house to stop in before night, but the
deacon being sick has put all of us back. But as soon as he is well we
shall get ahead in shining shape.”

With these hopeful words Rob started toward Basinburg village to find
Chick and Ruddy if possible. Knowing that they had intended to come
home by the east road he followed that way, and so rapidly did he
walk--it being all down grade going that way--that in the course of
half an hour he was nearly down to the village.

He had been disappointed in not meeting the boys, as he had hoped, and
becoming more alarmed than ever over their strange non-appearance, he
kept on toward the village.

Presently the houses on the distant hillside could be seen, and he came
in sight of the little collection forming the nucleus of Basinburg,
Captain Jarvis’ store, where the post office was kept, forming the most
conspicuous building.

Quite a crowd had gathered about this place, and the men seemed to be
discussing in an excited manner some topic of conversation.

Fearless of any harm to himself, Rob boldly approached the group, with
his eyes and ears open for whatever might happen. At first no one
noticed him, so that he had got almost into the midst of the crowd
before the friend of ’Squire Hardy, called Trask, exclaimed:

“Hi, youngster! if ye ain’t a brazen chap I’ll hoe taters for the
deacon a week fer nothing, and that’s the pizenest thing I could think
of doing.”

Rob made no reply to this rude speech, but approached nearer the throng
to find that neither he nor his friends, as he had half expected at
first, furnished the topic under discussion.

“They ain’t far away, that’s certain, and somebody will run ercross
them kerslap like in a way that’ll make their hair stand on end.
Sich critters ain’t forgot their ’arly ways if they have been under
subjection for a little while.”

“That’s so, Dan,” said another. “Hello!” catching sight of our hero,
“if here ain’t a tiger o’ different sort. What has brought you to town

“He’s come to look over the place to see where to begin his thieving,”
spoke up some one in the background.

Unheeding this speech, Rob said:

“I am looking for the boys who were with me this morning. Perhaps you
can tell me if you have seen them.”

“Do you mean the red-headed youngster with the freckled face and the
pert little bantam with him?”

“I mean Ruddy and Chick. Ruddy has got red hair.”

“Well, I guess we can tell what has become of them, can’t we, Jones?”
speaking to a companion. “If we can’t, Jackson, the chairman of the
selectmen, can.”

Retraining his vexation at this bit of insolence, Rob said, in an even

“As you seem to know, I wish you would tell me, so as to save me
further trouble.”

“I reckon they are down to the county farm by this time, seeing Bagley
has got a good hoss, and he wouldn’t be likely to let any grass grow in
the road with sich company,” which speech was greeted by a cheer from
the spectators.

At a loss to act under the oppression of such an announcement, Rob was
silent. Then a commotion a short distance away caught the attention of
all. A newcomer was saying:

“A part of the children have got home, but the doctor’s girl and boy,
with two others, went over on Sander’s hill and have not been seen
since two o’clock. Some see them tigers up that way, so the doctor and
his family are scared to death over the children.”

“Come on, boys,” called out one of the spectators, “we must hunt ’em
up. Get your guns and come on.”

In a moment Rob learned that all this excitement was occasioned by
the escape of a couple of tigers from a menagerie the day before, the
animals having been seen in that vicinity within a few hours. The
danger to the missing children was apparent to every one. If they had
not already met the ferocious beasts they were likely to do so at any

But Rob felt that he had as much trouble on hand as he could meet at
present, and after satisfying himself that Chick and Ruddy had actually
been taken to the county farm, he started homeward with a heavy heart.

About half a mile out of the village, where the road entered the woods
at the foot of Break o’ Day hill, he was startled at first by the wild,
incoherent cries of a man, who seemed to be running toward him at a
furious gait.

He had only to wait a moment before the frightened person burst into
sight, hatless and coatless, his face as white as a sheet, where he
came down the road running for dear life.

“What is it?” asked Rob, as he came nearer.

“The--the--tig-er! he’s killed the children and eaten ’em up!”

“Where are they?”

“Down in the clearing back----”

That was all Rob could catch, for the terrified wretch had not stopped
in his wild flight, but was speeding on toward the village as if a
hundred wild tigers were at his heels.

Without stopping to think of what the consequence might be to him, Rob
bounded toward a clearing off on the right and which entered the woods
like a huge wedge driven in from the open country.

He had not gone half a dozen rods before a shrill scream in a childish
voice reached his ears.

He knew then he was going in the right direction.

A moment later he saw a sight which fairly froze the blood in his veins.

A short distance below him was a little group of children who had been
gathering May flowers, while, crouching near them, where it had crept
with the cunning and stealthiness peculiar to its race, was a huge

The cry of the frightened boys and girls had suddenly aroused its rage,
and lashing the ground with its long tail, the infuriated brute was
ready to spring upon its prey.

It was a situation where a moment’s time means a life. Unarmed as he
was, Little Hickory could not stand idle while others were in such
deadly peril.

Regardless of what the result might bring him, he picked up a small
rock at his feet, and hurled it with all the force he could muster
straight toward the springing tiger!


So well did Rob throw the stone that it struck the crouching tiger upon
the back, when the brute uttered a fierce growl, which brought another
scream from the frightened children that were clinging to each other a
few feet away.

Fearing that his first shot had not drawn the attention from its
intended victim, Little Hickory poised a second stone, sending it with
such precision that it fell between the animal’s ears with a resounding

Another shriek from the surprised tiger rang out, louder and fiercer
than the first, when the creature wheeled furiously about to see who
this assailant from its rear might be.

Rob had picked up another stone, and as the maddened beast faced him,
he threw it with all the power he could command.

But this time he missed his target, though the tiger gave vent to its
rage in another howl of anger, and whipped the ground with its long

Rob now realized that his situation was a desperate one. The aroused
brute was preparing to attack him, and in a hand-to-hand battle with
the terrific animal he must be torn limb from limb.

Again he snatched up a stone, and hurled it with such unerring aim that
it fell squarely upon the tiger’s nose. But this fusillade, instead
of checking the onset of the brute, served to awaken its furious
nature, and with another growl it leaped into the air, its forepaws
outstretched to grapple with him, while its white teeth gleamed
fiercely in the gathering gloom of the evening.

If Little Hickory had not possessed uncommon nerve and agility his
career must have ended then, for there was a deadly earnestness in this
attack of the tiger, all of whose native ferocity had been awakened.

But, never losing his presence of mind, Rob watched the movements of
the angry beast intently, and as its body darkened the air he sprang
nimbly aside, so it just grazed his body to fall a couple of yards away
sprawling on the greensward.

Knowing that the battle had but just begun, and to run away would be
to incur certain death from the brute, Little Hickory quickly faced
the animal, looking it squarely in the eye, while he slowly advanced
instead of retreating.

The tiger showed that this bold defiance puzzled it, if it did not for
the time hold in check its wild passions. With a prolonged growl it
crouched lower to the earth, and while its tail descried circle after
circle in the air, it watched intently the youth who fairly held it at
bay by his superhuman bravery.

Still Little Hickory knew there must be a change in this situation
before long. It seemed only a matter of how long he could hold the
animal at bay. He had heard cries from the children, and he judged by
such sounds as he had heard that they were fleeing from the place. Of
course it would not do for him to look around, or even to speak.

In the midst of this intense suspense a loud, commanding voice fell on
the scene, and the words of the tiger’s keeper rang out clearly on the
silence of the startling _tableau_:

“Back, Leo! lie still!”

The tiger growled low and sullen, while its glaring eyes shifted from
Rob to this newcomer, who had approached swiftly and silently to the
spot unseen and unheard by both our hero and the brute before him.

“Step aside, young man, but do not let your eyes leave him,” said the
man. “I think I can manage him now. Down, Leo, down!”

Rob gladly moved backward, and at the same time the keeper, who carried
in his hand a stout, heavy whip, advanced, repeating his command to the

This creature was in too ill humor to obey willingly. Perhaps the
short period of freedom he had enjoyed had made him unwilling to return
to his captivity. At any rate, he continued to lash himself into a
rage, while his keeper slowly moved nearer.

“Back, Leo, back!” commanded the latter, and to give greater force and
impressiveness to his words he brought his heavy whip smartly about the
body of the tiger.

The beast uttered a terrific growl, and as if goaded to desperation
leaped straight at the throat of his one-time conqueror.

The spell of subjection was broken. Once more the wild, untamed and
untamable spirit of the jungle asserted itself. The stern command, the
crack of the whip, the flashing eye had no longer any terror for the
aroused brute, and he cared only to devour his whilom master.

Little Hickory felt greater fear in witnessing this attack on his
deliverer than when he had himself faced the angry creature. But the
suspense was of short duration this time.

A quick movement of the right hand on the part of the keeper, the flash
of powder, and the report of a firearm were closely followed by the
death cry of the doomed tiger, whose last leap ended with his frantic,
dying struggles.

“It was too bad, too bad,” declared the man, as he watched the futile
efforts of the brute to regain its feet. “He was a valuable animal,
but it was his life or mine, and mine was worth more to me.”

“I was beginning to think it would be my life,” said Rob, “but you came
in good season.”

“Ay, lad, you were in a tight box, but you showed true grit. Do
you know, young fellow, there ain’t one in ten thousand who could
have stood up there as you did? I saw it all, but I knew it would
precipitate a crisis if I made a move before I was near enough to
hope for an effect. Say, if you will go with me I will guarantee you
a position where you can earn good money and a good-sized pile of it.
What do you say?”

“I thank you, sir, but I cannot leave to do it.”

“It will pay you. What do you say to a thousand a year to begin with?”

“I shall have to say no, sir. I wonder what became of those children?”

“They have reached the village by this time. Ha! there come some of
the townspeople, and I’ll warrant they will give you a kind word. You
deserve it.”

Without knowing what reply to make, Rob watched in silence the approach
of the party from the village, among whom he saw Dr. Menter and ’Squire

“Come right along and have no fear, gentlemen,” said the voluble
keeper. “This creature is powerless to harm you now.”

The relief of the newcomers was shown by their actions as well as
words, and when the slayer of the tiger came to describe how Rob had
saved the lives of the children, one at least in the crowd was warm in
his praise.

That person was Dr. Menter, whose children had been among those saved,
and he grasped Rob’s hand, saying fervently:

“Young man, I thank you from the depths of my heart. If you will come
down to the house Mrs. Menter will join her thanksgiving with mine. You
have done us a favor to-day which will take more than money to repay.”

As these were the first really kind words Rob had heard since coming to
Basinburg, they gladdened his heart with uncommon joy, but he was too
anxious to get home to accept Dr. Menter’s urgent request to go with

During this brief conversation Rob knew that the ’squire was watching
them with baleful eyes, and when he started homeward, leaving the crowd
still standing about the body of the dead tiger, he knew the other was
glad of his riddance. He heard Dr. Menter say:

“Give that boy a chance and he will make a smart man.”

’Squire Hardy lost no time in replying.

“All rogues and cutthroats possess such smartness. I am surprised,

The rest was lost by Rob, nor did he hear the next remark of the
physician, as he hastened on his way toward Break o’ Day.

He had got about halfway home, when he was surprised by a shuffling
sound in the bushes by the roadside. His mind still alive to tiger
fights, his first thought was naturally of such animals, and he looked
about for some means of self-defense.


At his second glance Rob caught sight of a boyish figure skulking in
the growth, and recognizing a familiar form, he called out:

“Hello, is that you, Chick?”

“Shades of Cherry Corner!” replied the well-known voice of that boy.
“It’s Little Hickory, Ruddy!”

The next moment the twain bounded head first out into the road, Chick
falling headlong in the middle of the highway.

“Where in the world have you come from?” asked Rob. “They told me you
had been taken to the county farm.”

“Jes’ shows how the lunkheads were mistook. It’ll take a smarter gump
’n that countryman to get us there, eh, Ruddy?”

“Then they did try to take you there?”

“Ye jess lay your bottom rock on that, old Hick. But me and Ruddy ain’t
in fer no county farm--not yet!”

On being questioned more closely, the two confessed that they had been
started for the county farm, but that before reaching the place they
had jumped from the wagon and managed to escape their guard.

“Golly gee!” exclaimed Ruddy, laughing till it seemed as if he would
never stop, “we purtended to be awful green, and we got the old duffer
to tell erbout everything we see. This tickled him to think he knowed
so much more’n we did, and, by hookey! he’d stop to s’plain so much
that we got tired. Then, when he come to magnify the beauty of some
birds so black and homely as to make yer laugh, we skid out! Shouldn’t
be s’prised if the old feller is there now a-chinning on ’em.”

While Little Hickory realized that this turn in affairs might prove to
their advantage in the end, he was secretly glad that his companions
had escaped, and the journey to Break o’ Day was continued with a
lighter heart than he had known since coming into this region. Somehow
he felt that his adventure with the tiger was likely to redound to his

It must be understood that it was already dark, and by the time the
coal camps were reached it was well into the evening. They found their
coming anxiously awaited by their friends, and their stories found
eager and pleased listeners.

“What a hero you are getting to be, Rob,” said Joe, proudly. “I guess
they’ll think you are somebody soon.”

“But think of the narrow place he was in,” said Rob’s mother. “I
tremble all over now to think of it.”

“Let it pass, mother. I do not think I shall lose anything by it. At
any rate, I feel better than I did when I started down to the town, and
I am going to look for better times.”

Rob’s hopefulness afforded comfort to the others, and the next morning
found them all more light-hearted than they had been before, in spite
of the ominous notice at their door.

“I’ve a mind to tear it down,” said Larry.

“Better save your strength to work that shovel in the sod, Larry,” said
Little Hickory, with a laugh. “You know yesterday----”

“I’m sore and lame now, so I-- hello! what’s up?”

“There’s somebody coming here. He looks like a real gentleman. He--here
he comes!”

The exclamation was caused by the sudden appearance of Tom and Jerry,
who appeared hatless, barefooted and very much out of breath.

In a moment great confusion and excitement reigned about the coal
camps, while the occupants swiftly disappeared from the scene with the
exception of Rob, Larry and Joe Willet, though half a dozen heads soon
appeared at the low doorways.

Rob’s misapprehension quickly disappeared as he caught sight of the
approaching person.

“Why, it’s Dr. Menter,” he said, in a low tone, while in a louder voice
he addressed the newcomer:

“Good-morning, sir. I hope you are well, and that it is not any bad
news that you fetch to Break o’ Day?”

“In the name of goodness, are you living here?” demanded the physician,
allowing his usual polite speech to be overcome by his surprise.

“Yes, sir.”

“I supposed you were stopping in the red house. The deacon owns that.”

“It wasn’t convenient, sir, at the time.”

“But these sod camps are not fit for a pig to live in, let alone human

“We hope to get into better houses some time, sir.”

Dr. Menter had discovered the notice posted by the selectmen, and when
he had hastily run it over, he exclaimed:

“Have they gone as far as that? When was that put up?”

“Yesterday afternoon, sir.”

“Well, well; that beats me. ’Squire Hardy is behind it. For some reason
he does not like you, and I had rather have half of the town against me
than the ’squire. What do you propose to do about it?”

“We haven’t decided yet, sir.”

“Let me see! Ha, that’s it! I tell you what I would do inside of an
hour. Move up into the old red house. That happens to stand over the
line in another town, and I do not believe you will be troubled there.
At any rate, the authorities of Basinburg cannot disturb you, as long
as you do no harm inside its boundaries.”

Rob was quick to catch upon this information, and it gave him a ray of
hope immediately.

“You are very kind, sir, and we shall do as you say. But I do not know
how we can get the sick ones up there.”

“Got sick ones, have you? Let me see them. As I didn’t come up here
professionally there will be no charge.”

Dr. Menter here left his carriage, and while Chick stood by his horse,
he followed Rob into the camp, where Mr. Little was suffering on his
primitive couch. Upon entering the low, damp place the good physician
could not refrain from uttering sundry ejaculations and comments on the
dreary situation.

“A well man could not live here without being sick. I should judge,
my dear man, that you had been living in some place just like this
before. Yours is a bad case of low circulation, with rheumatism and its
kindred complaints hanging over you. What you need more than medicine
is fresh air and sunlight and cold water. Why, man, if you will take a
cold water bath, with a good, smart rubbing with a coarse towel, every
morning, get all the sun you can, and just drink in the rarefied air of
Break o’ Day for six months, I’ll warrant you will be at work in the
cabbage patch with the boys.”

“God knows I wish I could, doctor.”

“God is willing you should, if you will take his medicine. His medicine
is cheaper than any other doctor’s, too.”

Though the doctor spoke less enthusiastically of Mrs. Willet’s
condition, he spoke hopefully, and on the whole, his visit was like a
ray of sunshine in itself, and from that hour Dr. Menter was fairly
worshiped by the older members of Ragged Rob’s young republic.

The suggestion of a move to the old house had found a ready response
among the party, so Rob was beginning to carry out the idea. But what
puzzled him most was how to move Mr. Little and Mrs. Willet until Dr.
Menter offered to take them there in his carriage. This was not a very
difficult undertaking, and inside of an hour the removal was made

“It is a sorry tenement to move into,” declared the doctor, “but it is
a palace compared to those coal camps, and you can soon make it quite
comfortable. There is plenty of room for all of you at present. I see
you are pretty short of provisions, which brings me to my real errand
in coming up here.

“Mrs. Cornhill needs help about her work, now that the deacon is down
with the fever, and if one of the girls will go and work for her a
few weeks she will be well paid. Help is needed, too, on the farm, so
there is a chance for one of the boys. The deacon is in a hard corner
financially, but he pays his help. As he is too ill to look after such
matters, I will advance you enough to set up housekeeping.”


Dr. Menter’s kind words brought the tears to more eyes than one among
these waifs of humanity forming Ragged Rob’s young republic, but they
were tears of joy surging up from emotions too deep for utterance.

“Heaven bless you!” said Mrs. Bayne, fervently. “You are very kind, Dr.
Menter, and I hope that you will get your pay for it.”

“I should be less than human, my dear woman, did I not do this much,
when I cannot forget that my two dear children at home owe their lives
to Rob. He risked his life nobly to save them, and I will do all I can
for him and his friends.”

“You said Mrs. Cornhill wanted to get a girl to help her,” said Joe, at
this moment. “I will go, and the money I earn shall go toward helping
make better the house here.”

“You are needed at home, Joe,” spoke up Mary Little; “let me go. You
know I am stronger than you.”

A short discussion followed, when it was decided that Mary should go,
and she declared that she was ready to go at once.

“You can ride down with me,” said the doctor. “You will need different
clothes, but I think Mrs. Cornhill will fit you out in fine shape. So
jump in and we will drive down there immediately. I will send you up a
load of goods this forenoon, Rob.”

The little band of colonists could not refrain from watching the
kind-hearted doctor until his carriage had disappeared behind a row
of bushes growing by the roadside, when they turned to their task of
putting their new home into better shape with a hearty good will.

Water was brought from a neighboring spring, and cleaning was begun,
while Rob, Larry, Tom and Jerry began to make such repairs in the way
of fixing up doors and windows as they could. As little as they had
to do with, before noon the old house presented a far more inviting
appearance. But all this was new to the boys, and they soon tired of
the work. Larry, though older and larger than even Rob, was the first
to murmur.

“I didn’t suppose we’d come out here to break our backs lifting and
working,” he said. “I don’t know how the rest of ye feel, but I’d
ruther be back in Smoky Alley.”

“Oh, you’ll soon get used to it,” replied Joe. “I think it is just
delightful. I never felt so well in my life. Come, Larry, be somebody.
See how Rob has worked, and he----”

“Of course you’d stand up fer Rob. Nothing he does is bad, but as fer

“Hold your tongue, Larry! We don’t want any grumbler in Break o’ Day!”

As the old red house was amply large for so many, it was decided to
divide into three families, though much of the work would have to be
done together, particularly the cooking. Mrs. Bayne and Rob, with the
boys--Chick, Ruddy and Tony--were to form one family; Mrs. Willet and
Joe another; while the Littles, Aunt Vinnie and her “boys,” Tom and
Jerry, made up the third.

As the noon hour drew near, Aunt Vinnie, who was inclined to look on
the dark side, began to bewail their condition if Dr. Menter should
fail to send the supplies as he had promised. But this was useless
talk, as grumbling generally proves to be, for at last the team came
fairly loaded. How the boys shouted, while the older members felt quite
as jubilant. There were edibles, such as potatoes, flour, apples, etc.,
with a table, chairs, two beds, and cooking utensils of various kinds,
and a second-hand stove. Besides these articles, every one of which
seemed so valuable to the destitute ones, were some boards with which
to make repairs, with a saw, plane, hammer, and some nails.

The man who brought this load said but little, though he eyed the
colonists with a curious gaze.

“The doctor told me to say that the feller who is to help the deacon
will be expected to-morrow morning. Work is awfully behind at the
deacon’s. But there, I don’t s’pose it matters much with him, as they
say the doctor has given up hope of him getting up ag’in.”

Rob heard this bit of news with a sorrowful heart, and promised he
would be promptly on hand the next day.

As he would be away after that day and not be able to attend to
the work on the land, Rob felt anxious to make a beginning that
afternoon, so he asked Larry to take hold with him. This the latter did
reluctantly, while Tom and Jerry positively refused to work. Already
Rob was beginning to feel that right at home he was likely to have
serious trouble. Still, he did not feel that the time had come for him
to express himself as he would like to have done.

Larry took his shovel and began work by the side of Rob, though he
moved slowly and did his work so poorly that Little Hickory said
nothing when finally he threw down the tool, saying:

“I’m too tired to work to-day.”

Rob kept steadily at his task until nearly sunset, and having the
satisfaction of knowing he had quite a patch spaded up, he was about to
start toward the house, when he saw a horse and wagon approaching.

The occupants of the wagon were the two selectmen who had posted up
the notice for them to leave Basinburg that day.

“What are you doing here?” demanded the spokesman, as he stopped his
horse, which began to nibble at the grass as soon as its head was free.

“At work, sir, getting ready to do a little planting, as----”

“Weren’t you ordered to move out of these regions, young man?”

“We have moved, sir,” replied Rob.

The chairman of the board of selectmen was about to reply, when his
companion touched him on the arm, and a hurried consultation took place
between them. Just what they said Rob was unable to tell, but he knew
well enough that it had reference to their present situation, for at
its conclusion the twain drove away without speaking to him again.

“P’raps you’ve learned where you are,” said Rob to himself, as he went
to the house, where he found the best supper awaiting him that he had
ever eaten in his life, his recent work having given him an appetite he
had never felt before.

It was a happy company of friends that rested under the old red house
roof that night, even if the majority of them slept on pallets of straw.

The following morning Rob was astir early, feeling pretty sore after
his work of yesterday, but the sun was not very high when he reached
the home of Deacon Cornhill to begin his first day’s real work.

He learned that the deacon was very ill. He did not see Mary, but was
told that she was getting along very well with her work.

It would be tedious, perhaps, to describe the events of the following
week. But it showed considerable advance in certain lines with the
colonists of the young republic. Rob worked every day at Deacon
Cornhill’s, going home to Break o’ Day every night and returning in the
morning. This made it harder for him, but he felt that he was needed to
look after matters at home.

This was made doubly important from the fact that Larry, Tom and Jerry,
with the smaller boys, showed no disposition to begin work. Joe had
bravely undertaken to spade up the ground to be planted, until Rob had
requested her to stop. On Saturday, a day that will never be forgotten
by the members of the young republic, Rob stayed at home to begin the
garden, which needed attention.

“Come, boys,” he said, cheerily, “lend a hand. The garden must be made
ready to plant.”

The others made no reply, Larry taking the shovel and following

“I’ve found a place easier to dig,” he said, finally, as Rob approached
the place where he had begun digging.

Tom and Jerry were sulking in the background.

“I think this is the best place,” replied Rob to Larry, who had already
started to a sandbank a few rods away. Upon reaching this place Larry
began work, his shovel sinking its length into the light earth.

“Let’s see who can shovel the most,” said he.

“It will do no good to work there,” replied Rob, who could see that a
crisis was at hand.

“I ain’t going to dig in that hard, rocky ground when there is sich
easy stuff as this.”

“But nothing’ll grow there,” said Rob. “Dr. Menter said so.”

“I don’t keer what you nor Dr. Menter says, I reckon I’ll dig where I’m
a mind to. Ye needn’t think, Rob Bayne, thet ye are going to boss me,
fer ye ain’t, and the sooner ye know it the better.”

Little Hickory bit his lip, and slowly approaching Larry said, in a
low, firm tone:

“I shall be sorry to have any trouble with you, Larry, and I’ve no wish
to boss you, but I say ag’in it is no use to dig in that sand.”

“I dig here or nowhere,” gritted Larry, glowering upon his companion
fiercely. “I s’pose ye think ye are guv-ner here, and not one o’ us
dare to yip. But I want ye to onderstand that I’m older and bigger’n
ye, and that I hev got more backers ’n ye hev. Come, Tom, Jerry, Chick,
Ruddy and Tony, and help me show Rob Bayne he ain’t guv’ner here, if he
does feel so big. We’ll lick him or bu’st the guv’ment!”

Larry threw aside his shovel, and as the other boys stepped quickly
forward, he advanced swiftly toward Little Hickory with both fists
doubled up and a dark, malignant scowl on his features.

He showed in every look and action that he meant a bitter fight, which
Ragged Rob had neither the inclination nor the opportunity to escape,
however hazardous it might prove to him.


Chick, Ruddy and Tony, the three smaller boys, who had hastened to
the side of Larry at his call, now that they really understood the
situation, quickly stepped away as Larry advanced toward Rob.

“Golly!” said the irrepressible Chick, “there’s going to be some fun.
I’ll put my money on Little Hickory.”

“He ain’t so big as Larry,” replied Ruddy, doubtfully.

“This ain’t no quarrel of mine, Larry,” said Rob, “and if you get the
worst of it you mustn’t blame me.”

“Who’s a-blaming ye, Rob Bayne, and who’s getting the wust of it?”
retorted the other. “It’s high time we knowed who’s boss here.”

“If we settle it in this way, Larry, will you agree to stand by the

“You bet I will. I reckon I’m taller and bigger and stouter, and jess
as spry. Oh, I’m itching all over to get at ye. Ye show ye are afraid
of me! I reckon there ain’t no cops round here to meddle, and I’ll hev
the fun of my life with ye. But if I whup ye, I’m to be guv’ner. Is
thet yer say, Little Hickory?”

“Yes, Larry; but if ye get----”

The other did not wait for him to finish, but sprang forward with the
evident intention of overpowering Rob before he could defend himself.
But Rob was not to be caught off his guard so easily. Warding off the
blow aimed at his body, Little Hickory fairly lifted his adversary from
his feet by a dexterous movement under the other’s guard, to send him
flat upon the ground.

Chick cheered, but the rest looked on as if spellbound.

Larry was soon on his feet again, to find Rob calmly confronting him,
with his arms folded low down upon his body in the favorite position of
the professional pugilist.

“Ye took me unawares!” cried Larry. “I’ll down ye to pay fer thet, and
once I get my knee on ye I’ll choke the blood out’n ye!”

It would have been better for Larry to have said less, and tried more
to curb his anger. But he advanced more warily this time, making
several feints to the right and left, when, thinking he saw Little
Hickory’s front exposed, he concentrated all his strength to deal him a
blow that should send him upon his back.

No doubt he would have done it had he hit Rob. But he had mistaken the
maneuvers of Little Hickory. The latter had purposely offered this
apparent opportunity, and then, as Larry threw himself into the attack,
he sent his arm upward and planted his own fist under the other’s chin
with a force that made his teeth chatter and sent him reeling backward.

Larry managed to save himself, and then he called for assistance by
crying to his companions:

“Come on, Tom and Jerry! gi’n him fits!”

These boys evidently felt it their duty to help defend their companion,
for they rushed to his assistance, both of them seizing upon Rob from
the rear.

Assailed on every hand it began to look as if Little Hickory would have
more than he could attend to. But he was not one to give up. Giving the
twain behind a tremendous kick, which sent Jerry flying heels over head
into the dirt, he closed in with Larry.

By that time the outcries had reached those at the house, and Joe, Mrs.
Bayne and Aunt Vinnie all came running to the scene, excited over the
rather startling situation.

Unheeding them or their cries, Little Hickory continued to struggle
with Larry, while the other two boys, Jerry having recovered himself,
lent their assistance as best they could.

Aunt Vinnie called for her boys to come away, and Rob’s mother appealed
to him to desist. Joe Willet was alone silent. She had seen that Larry
was discontented and jealous of Rob’s influence, and better than the
others, knew that it could not be overcome in any other way than to
show him he was not master by brute strength. She would fain have
assisted Rob, but saw no way of doing it. It would be better, too, for
Rob to win his victory alone, if he could win it at all.

So the four boys--three against one--struggled to and fro, back and
forth. Larry had seized on Rob’s collar with a grip he could not break,
while Tom and Jerry were pulling at his legs, and trying by all means
in their power to trip him.

Finally Little Hickory managed to get his hand on the collar of Tom,
when the latter suddenly found himself lifted up and ranged by the
side of Larry. Then, with his right hand on the shoulder of Larry,
he suddenly brought the heads of the two boys together with a force
which filled the air about them with stars, and caused them to utter
involuntary cries of pain.

At that moment Jerry succeeded in pulling one foot from under Rob, and
the last was forced down upon one knee, when it seemed as if Larry and
Tom, who had rallied, would crush him to the ground.

“It’s a shame!” cried Joe, running forward to lend her assistance to
Little Hickory. “Three to one----”

By this time the blood of Little Hickory was up, as the expression
goes, and half a dozen boys like Tom and Jerry could not have availed
against him. A smart kick sent Jerry flying a rod away, where he lay
cramped with pain, and uttering piteous cries, as Rob bore both Tom and
Larry backward to the earth, a hand about the throat of either.

“Oh--oh--oh!” groaned the pair in unison. “You’re--choking--me!”

Now that he had obtained an advantage Little Hickory resolved not to
let either up until he had obtained an acknowledgment of submission
from both.

Thus he pressed still harder upon them, as he said in his low,
determined tone:

“Ye have lost, Larry! I’m too much for all of ye. What are ye going to
do about it?”

But Larry remained silent, his stubborn nature not allowing him to
yield at once. Again Rob made his demand, in his suppressed excitement
falling into the slang of the streets, which he had dropped to a
considerable extent since coming to Break o’ Day. His fingers closed
harder upon the other’s throat.

Larry made a painful cry, and moved as if he would rise.

“Do ye cave to me, Larry? Nod yer head if ye mean it.”

The eyes flashed, but his head did not move.

“Ye are true grit, Larry, but ye shall never get on to yer feet till
ye hev promised to do as I want ye to after this, or else go away from
Break o’ Day. Are ye ready to answer?”

Another squeeze, and the head of Larry nodded slightly.

“Hev ye got yer answer ready, Tom?”

The latter nodded quickly.

Then, as Little Hickory loosened simultaneously his holds on the
throats of his assailants, he said:

“Mind ye, boys, no treachery. I hev asked ye a square question: Are you
going away from Break o’ Day or stay?”

“I’m going to stay,” muttered Larry.

“And do as I say?”

“I knuckle, Little Hickory. I thought I could whup ye, but ye are too
menny for us all.”

“And ye, Tom and Jerry?”

“I’m with ye, Rob,” replied both.

“Good,” said Little Hickory, though there was no sign of triumph in his
manner as he stepped back. “I’m glad you are going to stay.”

“So am I,” said Joe, taking Larry’s hand. “You made a good fight,
Larry, and I like you better for it, now that you are all right. It is
only right Little Hickory should be at our head. We’ll agree to mind
him in all he says.”

Larry made no reply, though the others knew well enough the victory had
been fully won by Little Hickory. Chick would have given three cheers
and a tiger or two, but the conqueror stopped him.


Little Hickory had no further trouble among his companions at Break o’
Day. If reluctant at first, Larry went to work beside him in spading
up the ground, and that very afternoon they planted their first seed.
To these foundlings of the great city this was an event, little to be
appreciated by those brought up in the country. All but Mrs. Willet and
Mr. Joe Little joined the planters, Joe having the honor of dropping
the first seed into the “hills.”

That evening Dr. Menter paid them a short visit, and when he found
how the garden had been begun, he promised to arrange so that a man
with a pair of horses and a plow should come up the first of the
following week to help out the boys in their spading. He had also
found a situation for Larry, which the latter accepted after a little

The visit of the genial doctor lent additional inspiration to the
hearts of the members of the young republic, and when he had gone, the
three families met together, at Larry’s suggestion, and there in the
presence of them all he took the hand of Rob, saying:

“Little Hickory, you deserve your name, and I was a fool for trying to
lick ye. Now if ye’ll let thet be fergot I’ll stand by ye after this.”

“I do,” replied Rob, fervently. “You have got the right stuff in you,
Larry, and I know we shall get along first-rate.”

“I’ll do my part, Little Hickory, and you know I never fergit.”

Larry was noted among his friends for his wonderful memory, and though
he did not realize it then, it was a gift that was going to help him in
times to come.

Joe took his hand cordially, and thanked him for his generosity. And
Joe’s thanks were worth all of the others to him.

So the little band forgot their enmities, and that evening, at least,
were happy. Already both the invalids declared that they were feeling
better, and they looked forward to the time when they should be fully

The four weeks that followed were uneventful. ’Squire Hardy seemed to
have forgotten his enmity, though if Rob ever met him he scowled darkly
upon him and turned away. The authorities of the town in which the
old red house stood ignored entirely the new inhabitants within their

Thus the close of this month of peace to the young republic found Rob
still working for Deacon Cornhill, who was lingering with a slow
fever, from which it would take him many weeks longer to fully recover.
Little Hickory continued to go home every night, and during the odd
moments that he could get he assisted the small boys in the task of
caring for the growing crops.

Joe was really the master spirit at home now, and others must have
been struck by the new phase of life taken on at Break o’ Day. The old
house had been repaired, cleaned and so altered in appearance that
it presented a look of comfort, if not of comeliness. Just below the
smooth, green yard, the scene of the settlement of the mastery between
Little Hickory and Larry Little, was a garden of fresh-growing plants,
which was a source of unlimited pride and pleasure to the dwellers in
the old house.

Dr. Menter had proved a true prophet in the case of Mr. Little and
Mrs. Willet. The first was already able to sit in the doorway on warm,
pleasant days, enjoying both the sunshine and the country air. Mrs.
Willet, very much to Joe’s joy, was in the habit of sitting by one of
the windows, the color coming back to her countenance and the strength
to her tired body, due largely to the pure air and the sunshine.

One cloud now rested on their everyday lives. Dr. Menter had bade them
good-by for several months, while he took a much-needed vacation in

“This seems too good to last,” declared Aunt Vinnie, who seemed always
looking for the clouds.

“Let us enjoy the sun while we may, auntie,” said Joe, in her buoyant
way. “See how beautifully the sun is setting behind yonder rim of
mountains. It makes me in love with the country, and I never, never
want to see the hot, dusty city again. I don’t see what makes Rob so
late to-night. He thought he would get home early.”

Perhaps it is well we cannot read what is taking place beyond our
sight, or light-hearted Joe would have shuddered at that moment over
the fortunes of her youthful lover.

Let us see what Rob is doing at this moment.

In going back and forth between Break o’ Day and the home of Deacon
Cornhill he had found the west route by way of the “Flying Jump” his
best course, it being nearly a mile shorter, though more broken at

Rob had not been at work many days for Deacon Cornhill before he found
there a second-hand bicycle left by a nephew, and which Mrs. Cornhill,
who was overcoming her prejudice for him, kindly loaned to Little
Hickory. In the morning he found his wheel of considerable help to him,
though in returning to his home he had to walk more than half the way.

On this particular evening when Joe was so light-hearted and not a
cloud had been discovered on the horizon of the young republic, Rob
was climbing one of the long ascents leading to Break o’ Day, wheeling
his bicycle along beside him as he slowly advanced.

About midway in the ascent was that wild section of the route called
“Flying Jump,” where the mountain road, after hanging for several rods
on the very brink of a high precipice, took a sudden turn and descended
with dizzy abruptness into a narrow, dark ravine, to rise on the other
side with equal steepness.

A small stream wound through the lonely valley, at places finding a
difficult passage, so that at high water it would overflow the gorge to
a considerable depth.

Little Hickory always walked this portion of his route, and at this
time he had barely reached the western summit, and was casting swift
glances over his wild surroundings, when he was suddenly confronted by
two masked men, who had stepped silently from the thicket overhanging
the road.

It was evident that they had been lying in wait for him, for,
simultaneously with their appearance, both drew revolvers, and pointing
the deadly weapons at Rob’s head, one of them cried out, in a sharp

“Throw up your hands, youngster, or yer life ain’t worth a dead
rabbit’s hide!”

Though taken completely by surprise, Little Hickory realized that he
was at the mercy of these bold villains, and accordingly he did as he
was bid, at the same time allowing his bicycle to rest against his body.

“Good!” exclaimed the spokesman of the twain, “ye act like a sensible
chap. It pays to know when ye’re knocked under. See what he carries in
his pocket, Jed.”

The waylayer addressed lowered his weapon and stepped forward to carry
out the order of his companion, as he did so for a moment coming
between his accomplice and the victim.

It was Little Hickory’s golden opportunity.

Quick as a flash he dealt the ruffians each a tremendous blow with his
fists, sending them staggering back into the bushes, with exclamations
of terror.

He had barely accomplished this feat and was about to follow up his
advantage by seizing their weapons and thus turning the tables upon
them, when a pistol shot came from the growth and a bullet whistled so
close to his head that it cut away a lock of hair!

An oath followed the report of the weapon, when a hoarse voice cried

“Quick, lads! nab the fool chap afore he gets away!”

A crash in the bushes succeeded, another shot, and Little Hickory knew
he was in the midst of enemies thirsting for his blood.


As this was an eventful evening in the fortunes of the colonists of
Break o’ Day, and it is best to keep as square a front as is possible
with the date, it seems necessary to record at this time a peculiar
incident which befell another member of the party. If not as serious
a situation as that of Little Hickory’s, it held enough of horror and
terror to satisfy at least the participant.

Larry Little, upon finding that Rob was his master in the athletic
trial, quietly accepted the situation and became a loyal follower of
him whom he could not lead. Some are born to be rulers, it would seem,
while others must content to be followers. It is needless to say that
the latter class is quite as essential and fully as creditable as the

Larry had gone to work for a Mr. Howlitt on a farm just out of the
village, and did not return to his home at night, as Rob did. If he
found farm work pretty hard at first, and he blistered his hands, went
to bed at night with an aching back, to feel tired and sleepy in the
morning, he did not murmur very loud. He had taken hold in earnest,
resolved to make the most of it.

Mr. Howlitt was a well-to-do farmer, having one other hand to help him
besides Larry. He had no boys of his own, but this deficit was more
than made up, as Larry soon came to think, by having one of the most
charming daughters in the world.

Lucy Howlitt was an exceedingly pretty girl, in her seventeenth year,
and, what was better, a very sensible one. If Larry had felt a deep
yearning for Joe Willet longer than he could remember, this affection
was transferred inside of two weeks to Lucy Howlitt, and he was happy.
That is, Larry would have been happy if he had been sure he was the one
favored by her.

Unfortunately for his peace of mind, he had a rival. What seemed to be
worse for him, this aspirant for the very smiles and friendship that he
coveted was an audacious, educated, quick-witted, well-dressed youth,
who was the son of a rich man, and who was at that time studying law
with the purpose of practicing that profession. But, with all this in
his favor, he was an arrant coxcomb, and a favorite with only a small
circle of acquaintances.

His name was Pluto Alexander Snyder, as he invariably signed it, giving
a sort of double twist to the S and an unmeaning curl underneath the
whole signature.

Larry sized him up as a snob, but trembled in the fear that he was
likely to lose in the race against such a competitor. To add to
his discomfiture, Pluto Snyder, who was at least three years older
than Larry, was raising a mustache, though he had not yet succeeded
in coaxing a growth of over half a dozen hairs under each nostril.
As these were of a very light color they did not make a very strong

As for the young law student, it should be said Larry’s presence
did not for a moment disturb his peace of mind. In fact, he did not
consider the “ragged boor” worth the dignity of being considered a
rival for the hand of the sweet Lucy Howlitt, forsooth!

Larry had at least one opportunity to display his superiority over his
supercilious rival, even if it was in an humble manner.

Pluto Snyder lived in an adjoining town, though less than a mile and a
half away, and it was his delight to take Lucy out to rides on pleasant
afternoons whenever she would go, which seemed unnecessarily often to
watchful Larry. But, if priding himself upon being able to drive a
horse upon the road, Pluto had never mastered the intricacies of that
common wearing apparel of the animal known as the harness. The terms of
hames, saddle, girth, bits, etc., were less understood by him than the
expressions of Blackstone were to the poor boy digging in the field by
the roadside with a load at his heart which troubled him more than his
hard work.

Thus one day, as he was returning from one of those pleasure trips,
accompanied by Miss Howlitt, by some means the girth became unbuckled,
and, descending a hill at that time, the thills of the wagon were
thrown up so that the horse was frightened and threatened to run.
Pluto, more alarmed than the animal, shouted for it to stop, and
pulling on one rein, steered the team into the ditch.

The horse grew more unmanageable, and the driver leaped to the ground,
forgetful of his companion, while he continued to make his mixed cries.

By this time Lucy was frightened, and her cries were added to those of
her companion, though she did not jump from the wagon.

Fortunately, Larry was working in the adjoining field, in company
with Job Westcott, the hired man, and he ran to the assistance of the
couple, followed by Job.

Seeing what the trouble was, though himself a novice in the matter of
harnesses, Larry called out for young Snyder to stop pulling on the
reins. He then ran to the horse’s head, and led it back into the road.

Job then reached the spot, and seeing the girth dangling in the air,
buckled that, and looked the harness over without discovering any other

“Blamed ijit!” he said, “if you had as much sense as the hoss and let
him take his own way, you’d come out better.”

This nettled Pluto, who exclaimed, loudly:

“If I don’t know as much as such a clodhopper as you are, I’ll hoe
weeds all day the Fourth, and you may go in my place to make the
oration at Gainsboro.”

“Drat my pictur’, if I couldn’t shout to more puppose’n you can, I’d
send a calf in my place,” muttered Job, starting back into the field in
a high dudgeon.

Pluto Snyder was climbing back into the wagon, and he had no sooner
gained his seat than he called out in his loud voice for Larry to let
go of the horse’s bridle.

“Don’t let go,” pleaded Lucy; “please let him lead him to the foot of
the hill?”

The animal was still restive, and even Pluto did not offer further
objection to Larry’s assistance, now that he had some one else to share
the responsibility with him.

When the foot of the descent had been reached and the horse, under
ordinary conditions a very quiet creature, seemed to have got over its
fright, Larry released his hold and stepped aside to let the wagon pass.

“Please accept my thanks for your help, Lawrence,” said Lucy, with a
smile. She always called him by his full name. “I do not know what we
should have done if it had not been for you.”

“Don’t give the lunkhead more credit than he deserves,” said
Pluto Alexander. Then, seeming to feel that he ought to make some
acknowledgment to his rescuer, he turned back to say:

“Quite clever in you, young fellow. You can come over to Gainsboro and
hear my oration the Fourth.”

Larry made no reply, though he did not return to the field until the
wagon and its occupants had disappeared around a bend in the road.

“It don’t take much of a block to make a fool,” said Job, as Larry
rejoined him. “Quite clever in him to allow you th’ privilege of goin’
to hear him orate.”

“What does he mean?” asked Larry.

“Oh, jess that he’s going to stump th’ crowd at the Fourth celebration
at Gainsboro. I sh’u’d like to know what fool got him to ’orate,’ but I
s’pose his dad got him the chance, which it were easy to do, with his

“D’you s’pose Lucy will ever marry him?” Larry asked, before he could
realize what he was saying.

“I dare say; money cuts a mighty big figger with some.”

Larry dropped the conversation there, but the thought of the coming
Fourth of July celebration remained with him all the afternoon.

“I s’pose he will take Lucy there,” he mused, “and he will cut a big
swell. I wish I could take her with me,” and then, frightened by the
mere thought, he hoed away at the grass and weeds with such force that
Job called out to him to “go easy, afore ye get tuckered.”

A few days later Larry fairly frightened himself by saying to Lucy that
he wished he could go to Gainsboro the Fourth. She seemed almost as
surprised as himself, saying:

“It would be nice, Lawrence, but have you any clothes to wear?”

Seeing his confusion, she bit her lip for saying as much, and ran away
to be by herself. He sought the companionship of Job, feeling very

Still, it would look as if good was to come of this little incident,
for within a week Mr. Howlitt said to Larry:

“How would you like a day off, eh, Larry? You have been a faithful boy,
and to-morrow I am going to Middletown to look over the market, so that
you may go, too, by driving Old Jerry over with a load of truck. I am
owing you a little money, and if you want to it will be a good time for
you to get a suit of clothes. I do not know how the minx knows it, but
Lucy thinks you would like to go to Gainsboro on the Fourth.”

Larry wondered if his blushes showed through his coat of tan, as he
stammered his reply.

Larry’s enjoyment of that trip to Middletown was doubled when he found
that Lucy was to accompany her father. He received another pleasant
surprise when Mr. Howlitt placed ten dollars in two new, crisp bills,
in his hands as soon as the load of farm products had been sold.

“Do with it as you wish, lad,” he said, and Larry lost no time in
hastening to a ready-made clothing store, where he bought a new suit of
clothes, and even shoes and underwear. It took all of his money, and
the outfit was a plain one, but serviceable, and it is safe to say that
Larry will never buy another which will give him half the pleasure of
that one.

On his way home, and he started some time ahead of Mr. Howlitt and
Lucy, as Old Jerry was a slow horse under ordinary circumstances, he
could think of nothing else. Time and again he took up the bundle to
examine it from the outside, and then tossed it back into the bottom of
the wagon, saying over to himself:

“It is mine!”

Finally the idea entered his busy brain that it would be a fine thing
to appear at home in his new suit. Why not put it on now? He was riding
along a road where there was no house for a long distance, and he would
risk meeting a team. Accordingly, almost before he realized what he was
doing, he had stripped off his old coat, and never thinking in his wild
exuberance of spirits that he might ever need to wear it again, flung
it as far as he could into the bushes, crying out:

“Lay there, old coat, and may you rest in peace!”

Casting hasty glances up and down the road to see that no team was in
sight, he sent one after another of his remaining garments into the
bushes, until he stood in the wagon as unclothed as at the time of his

Anxious now to don his new suit he reached down in the wagon to take up
the bundle, when to his horror he could not find it!

It had been jostled out of the wagon and was gone!

In the midst of this startling plight the sound of carriage wheels
behind him caught his attention. Glancing wildly backward, he found
that he was being followed by the last persons on earth that he would
care to meet at that time--Pluto Snyder and Lucy Howlitt!


It would be impossible to describe the dismay of Larry Little as he
found that he was followed by Pluto Snyder and Lucy Howlitt, who was
laughing and apparently enjoying herself.

Fortunately for Larry, he had prudently ducked down behind the wagon
seat at the same moment he had looked around at the sound of the
approaching team.

What could he do in that sorry plight?

He cried out to Old Jerry, but he knew the clumsy farm horse would
prove no match for the spirited animal driven by his rival.

As if to add to his horror, the latter was driving at a smart gait, and
he was rapidly overtaking him.

In vain he urged Old Jerry on.

He was in for it!

In his agony he thought of jumping from the wagon, let the consequence
be what it might. But that would only add to the worst side of his
foolish adventure. There was no escape for him!

In this horrible dilemma, while continuing to urge Old Jerry on,
he caught up the oilcloth Mr. Howlitt had thrown over the load of
produce, and wrapped this hastily about his form. Then, speaking
coaxingly for Jerry to slacken his gait, he kept his arms concealed as
much as possible, and waited desperately for the others to pass.

Larry’s awful suspense was of short duration, for in a minute Pluto and
his fair companion came dashing alongside.

“Old Jerry seems to be wide-awake,” greeted Lucy, who did not seem to
realize the real situation, “so I thought we should not overtake you. I
think you must have lost a bundle out of your wagon, for I saw this by
the wayside, and made Mr. Snyder stop and pick it up.”

With these words she tossed into the market wagon at Larry’s feet the
bundle containing his new clothes.

He dared not stoop to take it up, and he was too confused and
bewildered to make the grateful acknowledgment that he felt in his
heart like doing.

“Father will soon be along,” said Lucy, as she and her companion
rapidly left poor Larry behind. “I met Mr. Snyder in Middletown, and he

The rest was too indistinct for Larry to understand, but it did not
matter. The fearful ordeal was over, his new clothes safe, and he felt
like shouting in his joy.

Now that he came to himself, he began to see how foolish he had been in
throwing away so hastily his old clothes.

“I had no business to do it,” he said. “I’ve a mind to drive back and
see if I can find them.”

He concluded to do this, but not until he had first arrayed himself
properly, in case anybody else should come along. Then he retraced his
course, and finding the discarded garments, went back into the woods,
where he could put them on with less chance of being interrupted.

Upon reaching Mr. Howlitt’s, Larry could not help imagining that every
one was thinking of his recent escapade, and he went about his work
in a confused way. Somehow he did not dare to show his new clothes,
so he carried them to his room when no one was looking. But he was
not to keep his secret long, if it could be called a secret, for the
next morning he was questioned in regard to them. It proved that his
employer had given him the money in the way he had in order to see what
he would do with it.

“I will tell you, papa,” said Lucy, “for I think Lawrence is too modest
to do so. He has a new suit of clothes, and I think we ought to see how
they look on him, don’t you?”

So Larry was persuaded to try on his new suit, and while he felt in a
most uncomfortable frame of mind, the clothes were declared to be a
good fit, and well worth the money.

“I see no reason now why you cannot attend the Fourth at Gainsboro,”
said Mr. Howlitt, with a laugh.

“I mean to, sir,” replied Larry, though he little dreamed under what

A few days later, as he and Job were at work in what was called “the
further field,” on their way home they overheard some one talking in a
loud tone in an old barn standing some distance from the road.

Drawn thither out of curiosity, they looked into the building through
one of the cracks between the boards, to find Pluto Alexander Snyder
there reciting a “piece” with all the gusto at his command.

“By gum!” whispered Job, “if he ain’t oratin’ his Gainsboro stump
speech, he may hitch me up to draw the cultivator ’tween the corn rows
to-morrer. Ain’t he a squelcher?”

Unconscious of his intent listeners, Pluto, the embryo lawyer,
continued to practice on his “oration,” going entirely through the
speech twice, and dwelling upon what he considered its finest points
over and over again.

“If that don’t set out John Howlitt’s eyes I don’t know what will,” he
said to himself. “When he hears this Fourth of July oration of mine he
will think I am fit to associate with his daughter. As if the Howlitts
were anywhere near as good as the Snyders!”

Job had hard work to keep from laughing outright while he listened,
and as soon as they were a safe distance from the old barn, he lay down
on the ground and rolled and roared until he was completely out of

“Did you ever see th’ beat of thet, Larry. Say, my boy, if you could
orate like that, your fortun’ would be made, ha--ha--ha!”

“I believe I can, Job. Now listen.”

Then, to the amazement of his companion, Larry Little repeated the
“oration” of Pluto Snyder’s from beginning to end. He may have made
some mistakes, but they were of small account, and Job listened with
open-mouthed astonishment.

“By gum!” exclaimed Job, after a long pause, “how in creation did
you do thet? Jess as Pluck Snyder had it, word fer word, even to the
flourishes. Could yer do thet ag’in?”

“Of course I could, Job. It was always easy for me to remember.”

“If I had a hang-on to my memory like thet, I’d make my fortin’, see if
I wouldn’t.”

As Larry and Job were working up that way the next day they took time
to call at the old barn, to find Pluto Snyder already there going
through his daily rehearsal. Nor was that the last time the amused
twain sought their post to listen, for they continued to do this until
they tired of it, and Larry could repeat every word and gesture. To
prove this he went through the entire “oration” before Job the day
preceding the Fourth.

Though Larry had got his new suit of clothes, he knew that Lucy had
promised to go to Gainsboro with young Snyder, so he spared himself the
humiliation of being refused.

In his disappointment he donned his best clothes, and though Mr.
Howlitt had intended for him to ride along with the family, he went on
foot and alone, “the same as the girl who went to get married.”

The day was pleasant, and he found a large crowd gathered in the grove,
where merriment reigned supreme. A stranger among strangers, he held
aloof from the rest, until he was both surprised and pleased to see
Rob, Tom and Jerry there.

“Hello!” greeted the first, “you didn’t say you were coming over here.”

“Neither did you,” replied Larry.

“Say, Rob, don’t Larry look fine in his new clothes? Where’d you get
’em, Larry?”

“Bought them with money of my own earning,” retorted Larry, who was not
disposed to do much talking even with his friends.

The truth was, he had been on the watch for Lucy and Pluto Snyder, but
they had not appeared, though it was already past the time set for the
speaking, and he knew they were waiting for the “orator” up at the
grand stand. Then he saw Mr. Howlitt arrive, and Lucy was with him, so
that his wonder increased.

He was about to go and speak to her, when Job touched him on the arm,
saying, in a low voice:

“They want you up to the spouter’s stand.”

Larry was not more surprised at the words than he was to find that Job
was present, as he had not expected him to come.

“What do you mean, Job?”

“Jess what I say, Larry. Pluck Snyder sent word by me that he can’t be
here to-day, and he wants you to orate his speech fer him.”


To explain the appearance of Rob at the Fourth of July celebration in
Gainsboro, we shall have to go back to his meeting with the masked men
on the summit of “Flying Jump,” where we left him just as he had flung
aside two of his assailants to be fired on by others in concealment.

Knowing from the sounds that two or three were coming to the assistance
of the two men he had for the moment baffled in their attack, Little
Hickory felt that his only way of escape lay in flight.

Thus he quickly sprang into the saddle of his bicycle, and just as
the men in front recovered enough to renew their assault and those
in the bushes burst into sight, he started down the steep grade at a
tremendous velocity.

“Hi, there! hold up or we will shoot ye!” cried the leader of the party.

But nothing was farther from the purpose of Little Hickory, even had
it been possible for him to check his headlong flight at this juncture
without deadly peril to himself.

The road was strewn with loose rocks and rent with deep gullies at
places, but despite the awful peril constantly menacing his progress,
he kept on down “Flying Jump” at a rate of speed in keeping with its

Two of his enemies sent shots after him, but they flew over his head
harmlessly, and the entire party stood as if riveted to their tracks,
while they watched the flight of their intended victim, expecting every
moment to see him flung head first upon the rocks, where he would be an
easy prey to them.

But Little Hickory had too clear a head and too steady a nerve to fall
in any such manner. It is true, he was not an experienced bicyclist,
but what he lacked in experience he more than made up in fearless
foresight and swiftness of action. Never for an instant “losing his
head,” he guided the wheel down the descent, around loose stones and
bowlders, along the very rim of gullies, down, faster and faster, until
he fairly flew into the valley, and carried on by the fearful momentum
he had gained, sped up the ascent on the opposite side.

By that time the amazed men awakened to the fact that their bird was
fast leaving them, and with oaths of madness they rushed down the hill
in pursuit.

It would be of no avail to fire shots now, as Little Hickory was beyond
the range of their weapons.

By the time they had gained the foot of “Flying Jump” he was out of
sight, having nearly gained the summit on the east, carried up half
the rise on his bicycle, when he sprang lightly to the ground and
continued his flight on foot.

“Curse him!” cried the leader of the masked men, “he’ll get away from
us. He must not.”

“He’s good’s done it, ’cording to my figuring,” replied a panting
companion. “Great Scott! how he winged it down the----”

“Fool! if you and Jed hadn’t been sich blunderers, he’d been our game

“Don’t be too sure on thet, old man. He’s a whirlwind, he is, and no
man would a stopped him once he got started.”

Little Hickory kept on home without seeing or hearing anything more of
his enemies, and what became of them was likely to remain unknown.

He did not think it wise to speak of his adventure at home, as he knew
it would only make those at the old house uneasy and afraid to remain
there while he and Larry were away. So he greeted his mother with
his usual light-heartedness, though it was many days before he fully
recovered from the thrilling experience of coasting “Flying Jump.”

On the morning of the Fourth of July, it being a holiday, he resolved
to take his first “day off” since coming to Break o’ Day, and though he
had no new suit to wear, as was the case with Larry, he brushed up his
old clothes, put on a new pair of pants, which he had been obliged to
buy, and started on foot.

It had been his wish that Joe should go with him, but she declared that
she could not think of that, as she had positively “nothing fit to
wear.” Besides, she was needed at home.

Thus we find Rob at Gainsboro, and no one was more surprised than he at
the declaration of Job Westcott to his friend Larry.

At this juncture one of the committee came hurriedly to the spot,

“Are you the young man who is to take the place of Mr. Snyder, who was
to speak here to-day? If so, come right along, for the people are tired
of waiting. It’s strange Snyder could not have notified us of this
arrangement before.”

Larry was thus suddenly placed in a position he could not understand,
and with the efforts of Job, he was taken to the speaker’s stand before
he had fully recovered from his surprise. Then he looked around to find
himself staring into the upturned faces of the crowd of amazed people.

“Reel it off, Larry, jess as you did to me down in the hayfield t’other
day, and you’ll s’prise ’em all--especially Lucy!” whispered Job, as he
turned to go away. A moment later a few heard him say in a low tone to

“If this don’t make me even with Pluck Snyder, I’ll try ag’in!”

The chairman of the occasion by this time had arisen, and not knowing
personally the expected speaker, had begun to introduce the “orator”
in glowing terms as “the gifted son of the rich Orestes Snyder, and
the talented young lawyer of the silver tongue, destined to make his
mark in the world,” and much more in that line, until he ended, and a
breathless silence fell on the scene.

Was ever one in such a situation as Larry at that moment? One of the
committee whispered for him to rise and begin, while others half lifted
him to his feet.

He did not have either the courage or the presence of mind to explain
the mistake that had been made, even if he really understood that one
had been made. He simply did what seemed the only thing for him to do.
He began to repeat his stolen “oration.”

Larry’s voice rang out loud and clear, so that he caught the attention
of his listeners at the very outset. Then, all feeling of fear and
hesitation fled, fairly forgetting himself in his efforts, he went
on with the patriotic address ringing with eloquent expression and
beautiful descriptions.

It was evident that the good people of Gainsboro were being highly
pleased, and Larry Little, the impromptu orator, was soaring high in
one of Pluto Snyder’s most labored periods, when that person’s voice
broke on the hushed scene like a note sadly out of tune:

“Here, you farm lunkhead! that’s my oration. Stop! I say, stop! before
I have you arrested for stealing----”

The rest was lost in the midst of the hubbub his words had created,
while the irate speaker, fairly wild with anger and excitement,
continued to push the crowd aside, while he rushed toward the platform.

It was a scene which made that Fourth of July at Gainsboro memorable.


“I tell you everybody says the old house is haunted, and only last
night I heard awful cries and groans, so I didn’t dare to lie in bed
till I went to sleep.”

Chick uttered these words, and his manner showed that he believed what
he said. Then Aunt Vinnie joined in, for it must be supposed that this
conversation was taking place at home.

“There, boy, that just agrees with what I’ve heerd. Only three nights
ago I lay awake and listened to the most distracting cries you ever
heerd. Seemed jess like a child crying when it began, and then it
sounded like a grown person, to end off with a terrible scream, as if
it were a ghost.”

“How do you know, Aunt Vinnie, that ghosts have such screams?” asked
Joe, who was inclined to discredit the story.

“They say,” spoke up Chick, “that an awful murder was done here once.
A man living here all alone was killed by another man working for him,
and it was supposed that this man died here himself, for he was never
seen afterward.”

“Oh, nonsense, Chick,” said Mrs. Bayne, “you must not believe all you
are told.”

“What everybody says must be so,” persisted Chick. “Ruddy has heard as
much as I have, only he darsn’t tell of it.”

“I had darst to speak of it,” retorted the latter. “And I heard Bill
Wythe say that he had been past here in the night when the house would
be all lighted from cellar to garret and nobody was living here then,

“He just told you that to frighten you, Ruddy,” said Joe. “I have not
seen anything strange since we came here.”

“I have,” affirmed Ruddy. “Just Thursday night----”

“You didn’t hear that Thursday night,” interrupted Chick.

“I did.”

“You didn’t. You were fast asleep and snoring all the time, ’cos I
prodded you----”

“I weren’t asleep any more’n you were, Chick Nobody. I was just
a-making believe to see what would be done.”

“You lie, Ruddy from Nowhere,” replied Chick. “And if you don’t take
back that name you called me I’ll lick you.”

“You can’t, nobody’s chicken, and you know it. I downed you only
yesterday in the garden, and----”

“I’ll show you how you downed me!” cried the redoubtable Chick,
catching hold of Ruddy.

“Stop, boys!” said Joe. “There is nothing to quarrel over. I wouldn’t
be so foolish.”

“He don’t sass me,” muttered Chick, giving Ruddy a push that sent him
reeling backward.

By this time the latter’s anger was raised, and springing to his feet
he rushed upon the other, when the twain closed in a furious struggle
for the mastery. In vain the older members of the group tried to part

“Oh, dearie me!” cried Aunt Vinnie, “them boys will be the death and
destruction of me. Here, Chick! here, Ruddy! do stop that fighting. Oh,
luddy! they’ll pull their lights and livers right out’n their bodies.
I’m thankful thet I was never a boy!”

Joe was about to interpose again, when she discovered some one coming
up the road at a run.

“It’s Mary,” she declared. “It must be they have let her off from work
this afternoon. How anxious she must be to get home, the way she is

“She is crying,” said Mrs. Little. “Why, Mary, what has happened?”
running forward to meet the girl, who was coming toward the house as
fast as she could run, her hair flying in the air and a wild, hunted
look on her face.

“They are after me!” she cried. “Don’t let them get me! Don’t let them
get me! I never did it! I never did it!”

Mary then fell into the outstretched arms of her mother, where she lay
without speaking, but sobbing as if her heart would break.

“What is it, Mary? what is it, my child?” begged the mother. “Tell me
the worst, Mary; if it be ever so bad I’ll not believe it.”

Joe and the others were now beside them, and doing what they could to
soothe the weeping girl.

“Let’s get her into the house,” said Joe.

“Hide me somewhere!” implored Mary. “Don’t let ’em get me. I never
stole the things.”

“Who said you stole?” asked her mother.

“Mrs. Cornhill and the rest. They claim they have been missing things
right along since I have been there, but I never took a thing. I do not
care what they say.”

“Don’t let that worry you, my child. We will not believe it, and they
shall not touch you.”

“They will!” she panted. “The sheriff is after me now. I ran away from
him and the others, but they are following me. I ran all the way up

“I wish Rob was here,” said Joe, the tears filling her eyes. “But they
shan’t take you away, Mary, if we can help it.”

“You can’t. Let me hide somewhere.”

“You shall,” cried her mother. “Come into the house.”

The others followed the mother and her daughter, not knowing what to do
or say.

“I do not believe they will come way up here after you,” said Joe, more
hopefully than she felt.

“They will. I heard ’Squire Hardy say that he would send every one of
us to the jail or county farm inside of two weeks. And that boy of his
shouted after me, and when I ran he gave chase. He overtook me, but
when he tried to drag me back, or hold me until the sheriff got there,
I pushed him over the bank and ran again.”

“Did--did you kill him?” fairly gasped her mother.

“I don’t know. Where can I hide?”

Confused and excited, the others began to look about for some corner or
place of concealment for the fugitive girl, without stopping to think
if it was right or wrong to do so, when Chick dashed into the house

“They are coming--right here--’Squire Hardy, Sheriff Stanyan, and two
or three others!”

“We’re too late!” moaned Mrs. Little. “I will fight before they shall
take her away.”

“You must not do that,” said Joe. “Then they would take you, too.
Quick, mother, get Mary into the closet in my room, while I go out and
stop them, so they shall not come into the house.”

By the time the brave Joe had reached the door the officer and his
companions were within a few yards of the house.

At sight of her they stopped, the sheriff saying:

“We want the girl who has been at work to Deacon Cornhill’s. If she
will come out peacefully the rest of you will not be troubled.”

“At this time,” added ’Squire Hardy.

“What do you want of Mary Little?” asked Joe, showing very little fear
as she spoke.

“I am not obliged to answer that, miss. Stand aside and let me come in.”

“This is our house, sir, and I do not know as I am obliged to let you
come in until you have told me your errand.”

Joe was surprised at the calmness with which she spoke, and she stood
at her post undaunted.

“I will show the little vixen who is who!” cried the infuriated
sheriff. “Let me come in, girl, or I will----”

“Don’t do anything rash, Stanyan,” admonished Hardy. “If we manage this
right we can land the whole crowd in jail before night.”


“Isn’t there another door?” asked the sheriff. “I do not care to meddle
with this vixen if I can help it.”

“You had better not,” cried Joe, but her heart began to fail as she
realized how helpless she was. She could only hope that the others had
succeeded in secreting Mary so the officers could not find her. But if
they did, what then?

The sheriff lost no time in seeking the side door, ’Squire Hardy and
one of the men remaining in front, as if he was afraid to face the
brave girl in the doorway alone.

“It will be better for the girl to come along peaceably,” he said.

But Joe made no reply, while she listened for sounds of what was taking
place within the house.

Sheriff Stanyan did not gain an entrance until Mary had been concealed
in a closet, but the frightened aspect of the little group in the room
told the keen-eyed officer that he was on the right track.

“Where is the girl?” he demanded. “Oh, she need not think she can
escape me. I saw her enter this house, and I will find her if we have
to tear the old shell down. It is a fitting abode for such as you, and
you may thank your stars that I am not after the whole of you.”

Mrs. Bayne tried to speak, but the words died away in a whisper, while
Mrs. Little could only sob out her anguish.

At that moment Mr. Little, leaning heavily on his cane, entered the
room. He had overheard enough to know what was causing the excitement,
and facing the sheriff, he said, defiantly:

“Our daughter a thief! never, sir! Begone from these premises, and
never darken----”

“So you dare to offer resistance?” cried the officer. “Nothing suits me
better than to snap these handcuffs on your wrists, which, no doubt,
have felt their like before.”

The women screamed, and Mr. Little, in his righteous indignation,
ordered the sheriff to stand back. In the midst of the scene the door
opened, and Mary stepped into the apartment, saying:

“Let them take me, father. It will be better so. I am not a thief, but
it does not matter what they will do with me.”

Tears and cries of pain followed, but they availed nothing. Eager to
finish his work, the officer took Mary Little by the arm and led her
from the room, his associates covering his retreat.

“Don’t let them rob me of my child!” moaned the distracted mother; but
her grief and her appeals fell on hearts of stone.

Joe Willet realized how futile had been their defence, as she saw the
exultant party drive away with poor Mary in their midst, a prisoner,
charged with stealing from her employer.

At the same time Mary was being taken away by Sheriff Stanyan, Larry
Little, without dreaming of the ill fate which had overtaken his
sister, was the central figure in a scene of most peculiar and vivid

The young orator paused suddenly in the midst of his speech, and at
sight of Pluto Snyder the following words issued from his lips:

“Get down there, you cow-headed----”

“Stop the fool!” cried some one, directing his remarks against the
newcomer, rather than Larry.

A constable happening to stand near, and misunderstanding the real
situation, he seized upon Pluto and began to drag him from the scene.
The more the hapless young Snyder struggled the firmer he was held in
the grasp of the officer, who showed him no mercy, but pulled him away,
while the crowd cheered him for his efforts.

In a moment the quiet was restored, but Larry stood dumb with dismay,
unable to know what to do.

“Go on!” cried Job Westcott. “That fellow shan’t pester you any more.”

Others urged Larry to proceed, and, like one taking a leap in the
dark, he again began his speech. The well-rounded periods of the law
student gone from him, Larry was obliged to depend upon himself. It was
the best thing that could have happened to him. Fortunately, too, he
selected a subject familiar to him, and in glowing language he pictured
the lives of those lowly ones dwelling in the narrow streets and dark
alleys of the great city who had never heard of a Fourth of July, much
less tasted of its joys.

As he kept on, Larry really waxed eloquent, and for more than twenty
minutes he held his listeners’ undivided attention.

It was an address which is still talked over at Gainsboro. At its close
a deafening applause, which lasted for several minutes, rang up and
down the grove.

When he stepped down from the platform Larry was greeted by a circle
of admirers, and as soon as she could reach his side Lucy came forward
with her compliments, which were worth more than all the other praise
showered upon him. But he was too confused to speak intelligently.

“It was all a mistake--a miserable mistake, and----”

At this juncture Pluto Snyder, having broken from his captors, reached
the spot, and, boiling with rage, cried out:

“Let me get at the hoodlum! He stole my speech--he is a sneaking----”

Seeing Lucy standing by Larry, he suddenly stopped his storm of abuse,
saying, in a milder tone:

“You here, Miss Lucy, in the company of such a scapegoat? Let us go
home, and I will tell you of the miserable trick he played on me.”

Lucy Howlitt, to whom all this was a mystery, not liking the appearance
of Mr. Snyder under his excitement, declined to go home with him,
pleading that her father was waiting for her.

Thereupon the crestfallen law student went away in a high dudgeon,
using language neither becoming a gentleman or fit to be spoken in the
presence of a lady.

“Come, Lawrence,” said Lucy, “you will please ride home with papa
and me. There is plenty of room, and I want to hear your explanation
of this affair. I did not dream you were capable of making such an

As she would not take no for an answer, and Mr. Howlitt joined his
invitation with his daughter’s, Larry could do no better than to
accept. On the way home he showed his innate honesty by confessing to
all he knew of the matter of the speech, which did not throw much light
on the situation, though, to his joy, neither Mr. Howlitt nor Lucy
blamed him.

“You say the last part was original with you?” said Lucy. “I think that
was altogether the best, and I am proud of you, Lawrence.”

“Pluto Snyder is a silly coxcomb,” said her father, “and I am glad if
he has been taken down a notch.”

The next day Job Westcott acknowledged that he had caused young Snyder
to miss coming to the celebration in season to address the meeting, and
that his coming at all was simply because the one left in charge of
Pluto had been bought off by the irate “orator.”

“I’ll l’arn him how to use offensive stuff to me. I jess paid off an
old debt, and Larry weren’t a whit to blame. But, by gum! didn’t he hum
with madness! I tell ye, ye never see what it is for one to be mad till
ye hev seen a fool lose his temper.”

Though the Howlitts were disposed to blame Job for the part he had
taken, Larry rose in their estimation, and another’s loss was his gain.

A little later Larry forgot all about his recent triumph by hearing of
the fate which had befallen his sister, and he lost no time in going
home to learn the whole truth.


The arrest of Mary Little for theft at Deacon Cornhill’s was a bitter
blow to her friends, none of whom could believe her guilty.

Rob lost no time in going to the Cornhill home, hoping that he could
enlist the folks in her favor, or, at least, get at the truth of the
matter. But he found Mrs. Cornhill fully convinced of Mary’s guilt, and
severely blaming herself that she had ever let the “idle hussy into the

It was in vain that Rob pleaded that Mary had been a faithful servant.
The fact remained that Mrs. Cornhill had been missing article after
article from the household ever since the girl had come to work for
her. She had not spoken of this at first, as she had been so favorably
impressed by her that she had hesitated about accusing her of such
misdoings. Finally, after watching and waiting for weeks, she had felt
obliged to act in the matter.

Deacon Cornhill was now so far recovered from his recent illness as
to sit up in his great easy-chair, though he was but a shadow of his
former genial self.

“Don’t be hard on the gal, Mandy,” he said, compassionately. “No doubt
she was driven to it. The articles were not worth very----”

“Tweren’t the wurth, but the principle in it,” snapped his wife. “Arter
the way I treated her, to hev the idle hussy turn on us just at this
time of all others,” and the good woman fell to crying.

“Don’t break down, Mandy,” said he, but his own voice was husky and Rob
was sure there were tears in his eyes.

Mistaking the cause of this emotion Rob spoke more hopefully, when he
learned that he and his friends were not alone in their misfortunes, as
disaster had overtaken this family. It proved that Deacon Cornhill had
become responsible for large sums of money through another individual,
and this person proving worthless, he was held for the full amount.
When paid, practically every dollar would be swept away, and he and his
family would be turned out of their home penniless.

“The earnings of two lives, my father’s and mine, are thus lost, and
Mandy and I are homeless and friendless; for, at this time, when we
need our friends most, there is not one to speak a consoling word. I
eenamost wish the fever had done its work, for I had rather been laid
in my grave than to have lived to see this day.”

“Oh, Elihu! it is wicked to talk like that,” said his wife. “But it is
dreadful to be robbed of our home at this time in life.”

Rob went away feeling that he was not alone in his misfortunes, and
when he told the others at Break o’ Day good Deacon Cornhill had
several sincere sympathizers, if they were helpless to aid him.

The arrest of Mary, who was then taken to jail, where she must remain
until her trial, nearly two months later, cast a gloom over the entire
party, as they could do nothing for her.

Rob returned to work at Deacon Cornhill’s, where he was greatly needed,
every other hand having deserted him at this critical time, on the
ground that he could not pay them. As much as he needed his wages,
Little Hickory resolved to take his chances, pitying the unfortunate
man in his distress, and believing he would eventually pay him all that
was due to him.

Larry remained at Mr. Howlitt’s, probably the happiest of the entire
number who had come to Basinburg.

So far Tom and Jerry had not found situations to work, and had remained
at home. But Rob secured a chance for employment in a portable sawmill,
where they went to work.

This was a severe “breaking in” for them, and more than once both were
on the verge of throwing up their jobs. Probably the only thing that
kept them at work was the fear that Little Hickory would send them
back. Their task was to take away boards after they had been thrown
from the carriage by the sawyer, and at times they had to hustle to
keep the “run” clear. Not a night but found them glad to seek their
rude bunks at an early hour, where they slept “like Turks,” as the
expression goes.

As the mill was located more than three miles from home, and stood in
the midst of the timber-lot, they did not go home oftener than once a

They boarded with the rest of the hands in the “shanty,” but, as there
was not room enough for them there to sleep, they had to make up
“shake-downs” in the mill. As it was warm weather they rather liked
this arrangement.

They were reasonably faithful to their employer, and everything
appeared to be going on well, until one afternoon, while the sawyer was
crowding them uncommonly hard with boards, they got behind, so that the
course got completely filled.

Now, it is always easier to keep square with one’s work than to catch
up, once any time is lost. The fault, such as it was, was really Tom’s,
as he had taken half an hour’s rest, saying it would be an easy matter
to clear the run.

But the time lost could not be recovered, and in vain they worked to
gain what they had neglected to keep. The sawyer was a crusty old man,
who shouted angrily to them to clear the way. Unfortunately, the boss
happened along just then, and, seeing the situation, he ordered that
another hand should be put on the work.

Tom resented this, and answered back somewhat hastily. Bitter words
followed, and almost before he knew it, Tom had lost his situation and
Jerry was frightened over the affair.

It was then nearly night, and, having a dread of going home, Tom
resolved to remain with his brother until morning, intending then to
acknowledge his fault and beg of the boss to be allowed to return to
his post. Had he done this then and there it would have saved him an
ordeal of which he little dreamed.

It could not have been far from midnight, as he was tossing uneasily
on his rough couch, while he pondered upon his recent mistake, when he
heard some one moving about the mill. Then he discovered two youths a
little older than himself moving cautiously about the premises.

One of the couple carried a lighted torch in his hand, and which he
kept moving to and from as he led his companion over the place.

“Look out, Phil,” said the latter, “or you will set the old shell on

“Sho! this wouldn’t burn, it’s so green,” and, as if to prove his
words, he thrust the burning brand into the midst of a pile of
combustible matter. To his dismay, the dried material instantly
ignited, and the flames sprang upward with a suddenness and fury that
frightened the newcomers.

“You have set the mill on fire!” gasped the other.

“Quick!” exclaimed the one who had done the mischief, dropping the
torch in his terror, “run for your life, Nate. We must not be found

By this time Tom had sprung from his couch, but he was too late to stop
the runaway boys, though he did reach the scene of the fire and just
picked up the smoldering torch as one of the millmen, who had been
attracted by its light, appeared on the scene.

“Here, you little devil!” he roared. “Trying to burn up the mill, are
you? It’s lucky I have caught you at your devilish work.”

Tom was powerless to flee, if he had wished to, and in a moment he
found himself flung to the floor by a pair of strong arms, and just as
his brother reached the spot he was tied hands and feet.

Jerry was then seized and treated in the same manner.

Though others came speedily to the scene the fire had gained such
headway in a short time that the mill was burned down in spite of all
that could be done to save it.

In vain Tom and Jerry pleaded their innocence. The latter had not seen
the two boys prowling about the place, and Tom’s story was ridiculed
until he held his tongue in bitter silence. His quarrel with the boss
of the previous afternoon was retold, and, with the hatred of their
former associates raised against them, the hapless brothers were taken
as prisoners, on the serious charge of incendiarism.

“That’s good for twenty years apiece,” said ’Squire Hardy, rubbing his
hands in a pleased manner. “We’re picking them off, one by one, and now
the deacon has got shut off, the work will be easier.”


A terrible blow to those at Break o’ Day was the misfortune which had
fallen upon Tom and Jerry. This seemed but the precursor of even worse
troubles to follow.

Aunt Vinnie was distracted, and the rest had all they could do to keep
her from going to see “her boys,” as useless as would have been such a

Rob and Joe, the bravest of the little party, did all they could to
soothe the sorrow of their friends, trying to solace them with the, to
them, hopeless thought that it is always darkest just before dawn.

“Do not give up,” said Rob. “Larry and I are earning wages, and we will
hope that Tom, Jerry and Mary will be set free when their trials come.
Mrs. Cornhill only yesterday seemed very sorry that she had proceeded
against Mary.”

“But, my boys, how can you save them? Ah, it was the sorriest day
of my life when we left the city, with all its wickedness, for this
friendless wilderness, where everybody is against us.”

“Not all of them, auntie,” said Joe. “Let us not give up.”

Deacon Cornhill’s affairs were rapidly growing worse, and the poor man
seemed to be failing in strength, as if the ordeal was more than he
could stand. Mrs. Cornhill grew fretful, and more than once she accused
Rob of bringing the trouble upon them.

“It came with you,” she repeated. “If the deacon had not provoked
’Squire Hardy by bringing you and your friends to Break o’ Day, he
would never have done what he has against us, and I firmly believe he
is at the root of this evil.”

Rob would attempt no reply to this rather contradictory speech, but
kept on at his work, resolving to be faithful to his benefactor, let
the result be what it might.

About ten days after the arrest of Tom and Jerry, as Rob was down to
the village on business for the deacon, he found that everybody there
was wildly excited over a robbery that had been committed the night
before, the store and post office having been broken into by burglars
and considerable money and property stolen.

A crowd of men gathered on the piazza, among whom ’Squire Hardy was
conspicuous, were arguing the matter pro and con as Rob drew near.

“Sam Sawyer is ready to swear on the witness stand,” the ’squire was
saying, “that the man he discovered climbing out of the store window
last night, and who was one of the burglars, if there was more than
one, was the same man he met yesterday afternoon on the Hare road, and
who inquired the way to Mount Riga, which was the name once given to
Break o’ Day.”

“Didn’t Sam give the name of this stranger?” asked a bystander.

“He did; and that is the best part of it. He said he was one Gideon
Bayne, and that he lived in town here when he was a small boy, but
thought perhaps people had forgotten him now, as he had forgotten the

“Bayne?” half queried, half exclaimed, another, as if the name was
one that he vaguely recalled. “Wasn’t that old miser’s name Bayne,
who lived and died at the old red house when such a flurry was raised

“Just that--Timothy Bayne. Folks thought he was killed by his hired
man, but neither could be found when they come to look for ’em. They
were a hard crowd.”

“But old Tim Bayne had neither chick nor child, living all alone.”

“That does not hinder him from having thieving relatives, running
around the country breaking into stores and post offices, does it?”

“But Tim Bayne owned all of that quarter of the town when he died,
though I can’t say it was very valuable.”

“Just so; and there being no one to claim it when he died or
disappeared--I never thought the man was dead--the Cornhills got the
whole of it for a mere song. But it hasn’t done the deacon much
good. Ill-gotten gains never do,” added the squire, aiming to be

“I don’t quite recall any other Bayne in town them days,” declared an
old resident, “though my memory doesn’t often go back on me.”

“That may be, but it doesn’t require much to recall the fag-end Bayne
that we have with us now,” remarked ’Squire Hardy, who had just seen
Rob, who had stopped at the outside of the party. “Say, youngster,
wasn’t your father Gid Bayne?”

The question was so unexpected, the situation so ominous to him in its
outcome, that Little Hickory had hard work to command his feelings. As
it was, he feared a moment later that he had betrayed himself by his

“I have just come, sir, and I do not know what you mean.”

“Calculate you’d know if you wanted to. There is no doubt you belong
to the same breed of cats, for there was never but one family by that
name. By ----! it is a mighty apt one, too! I don’t see why Stanyan
don’t come. If I was sheriff, I’d manage to be on hand once in my life.”

Rob thought it good policy for him to withdraw from the company, but he
had not taken half a dozen steps before the ’squire thundered to him:

“You stop where you are, Rob Bayne. We are going up to your place as
soon as the sheriff gets here, and we want you to go with us.”

“What errand can you have to our home, sir?” demanded Little Hickory,
with flashing eyes, having recovered his usual self-possession.

“Your stupid head is thicker than I thought for, if you do not know
already. If you do not know it may save you a short time of the bitter
dose you are going to take. Here comes Stanyan, and there is no need to
delay longer.”

The sheriff was indeed driving up to the place, and the ’squire
immediately ordered his team brought in front of the store.

“Here is the chip-of-the-old-block Bayne,” declared Hardy, waving his
hand toward Rob. “I thought it would be a good thing to take him right

“A capital idea,” replied the officer. “Jump in here with me, young
man, and, mind you, no monkeying about this!”

Rob’s first thought was to refuse to go, but, fortunately, a wiser
thought decided him, and he entered the sheriff’s wagon, saying:

“I do not understand what you want of me, but I am willing to go, for I
have done no wrong.”

“That remains to be seen,” retorted the officer, sharply, and a moment
later he started in the direction of Break o’ Day, with the ’squire
close behind him, while as many as a dozen teams followed the latter.

Rob’s mind was deeply impressed that evil was about to fall upon him
and his friends, but he could not see clearly its nature. He could not
realize that his father, after all the years he had been away, had
appeared in this country town, making his coming more tragical by being
concerned in the recent robbery. As yet he could not believe his father
had sunk so low as to become a common housebreaker.

As they came in sight of his home Rob caught sight of his mother at one
of the windows, but she quickly disappeared.

“Look out sharp for the youngster, Hardy,” called out the sheriff. “I
will look after our man inside, while the rest of you”--addressing
his companions--“surround the house and see that the dog does not
escape. Remember, you will be justified in shooting him if he offers

Having given this command, Mr. Stanyan started toward the door.

It was opened by Mrs. Little, who asked:

“What is wanted?”

“We want him!” exclaimed the officer. “I am the sheriff, so stand aside
for the law.”

“There is nobody here that you can want, sir. We are honest----”

“We are after Gid Bayne, and we know he is hiding here. If he’ll give
up peaceably we’ll not hurt the rest of you.”

“Who said he was here?” asked the frightened woman, and through that
question the hopes of Rob fell like lead. His father was there!

“I do!” thundered the sheriff, and Mrs. Little retreated before his
terrific appearance.

How Little Hickory chafed at his own helplessness, and catching sight
of his mother at that moment, he cried to her:

“Do not let them frighten you, mother. They cannot harm you.”

“What do you accuse my husband of now?” she demanded of the officer,
bravely facing the other.

“Of breaking and entering the store and post office of Basinburg.”

“He is innocent, sir!”

“Bah! who heeds the words of such as you? It will prove a sweet job for
him when we catch him. Where is he?”

“That remains for you to say, and not me, sir. I am only a defenceless
woman, but it will be a sorry hour if you harm me.”

With these spirited words, she stepped aside, allowing the officer and
his followers to enter.

A furious search followed, when the old house was ransacked from cellar
to garret. Every corner and niche imaginable was searched, the sheriff
sparing neither time nor the building, but, look where and how he
would, he could find no trace of the fugitive.

Finally, his dark features livid with rage, he joined ’Squire Hardy,
giving expression to words unfit to repeat here.

“He must have got word of our coming and run away,” declared the
’squire. “But, if so, we can and must find him, Stanyan.”

“You can bet your bottom dollar I will find him if I have to move
heaven and earth to do it,” replied the sheriff. “More than that, I
will take the boy here with us, and if he doesn’t get a place to hang
his hat for the next ten years I’ll resign my office.”

Then the party prepared to drive away, with Little Hickory a prisoner
among them.

Seeing what was being done, Mrs. Bayne rushed out of the house, crying,
in her despair:

“Oh, sir! do not take my boy. He has done nothing but what is right.
His father had rather----”

“Stop, mother!” cried Little Hickory, sternly. “Say nothing you may
repent of later. I go without resistance, and you must keep up good
courage here until I get back.”

’Squire Hardy looked back with a mocking laugh at the weeping
spectators they were leaving behind.


Mrs. Bayne was wild with grief, as she saw Rob taken away in this
heartless way.

“This is the worst blow yet,” she moaned. “Oh, why have they taken my
boy--our support?”

“And my poor Mary,” cried Mrs. Little.

“And my boys, Tom and Jerry,” added Aunt Vinnie.

It was a hopeless group, and Joe, the only one among them who could
look bravely up, had all she could do to try and console them.

“Let us hope for the best,” she said. “They cannot harm Rob. He has
surely done no wrong.”

“But we are so helpless,” said Mr. Little. “That infernal----”

“Hush! Hush!” spoke up Joe. “You must be careful how you speak. We can
only hope and wait.”

“Oh, that Gideon should come home at this time and under such
conditions as these!” moaned the distracted wife.

“Don’t condemn him,” said Joe, courageously. “We know all the others
are innocent, and we will think he is until we know differently.”

“He says he is not guilty of this terrible thing. But what will become
of us? We are so helpless!”

“We must not give up,” said Joe. “I wonder what they will do with Rob?
I’ve a mind to go to the village.”

“Go, Joe. We can take care of ourselves.”

“I think you had better,” assented Mr. Little. “How I wish that I was
well again. It is so hard to suffer and do nothing when one is so

“But you are so much better than in the city,” said Mrs. Little. “It is
that alone which keeps me from wishing that I was back to the city once

Having decided to go to Basinburg, Joe lost no more time in making such
preparations as she could for the visit, having really no idea of what
good it could do. She hoped to find out what would be done with Rob,
and that was incentive enough.

She was ready to start in less than five minutes. She had very little
change to make in her apparel, for the reason that, despite the desires
of Rob, she had not allowed much to be bought for her. She did have a
new print dress, a pair of shoes, and a straw hat. These she put on in
place of her everyday clothes, and bidding the others be of good cheer
until she returned, she started on a run toward the village.

So rapidly did she go that inside of half an hour she came in sight of
the village.

The crowd about the store was larger than when Rob had been there, and
the excitement was running higher than even. She learned that Rob had
been put under close surveillance, and that the sheriff and his posse
were searching for Gideon Bayne.

At first nobody seemed to notice her, and then she began to attract
attention, when sneering remarks were made, and she heard several
suggest that it would be the proper thing to arrest her as one of a
gang of outlaws and public enemies.

She did not mind this as much as she would have done under ordinary
circumstances. In her anxiety to learn what she could of Rob, she dared
much, ay, jeopardized her own safety.

She had become confident that no harm would be done him until another
day, when he would be given a justice trial before being taken to jail.

Determined to be present, she started homeward, happily unconscious
that it had already been decided to arrest her, though she was not
followed to her home.

Incidentally she had learned that Deacon Cornhill had been demanded
to meet his liabilities, and that he was about to sign over all his
property to satisfy his creditors.

These things were among those she told to her anxious friends at home,
whom she found anxiously awaiting her coming.

No new development had taken place since her departure, except that two
or three men had been seen hovering about the house, who it was thought
were spies who had been left by Sheriff Stanyan.

So the occupants of the old red house saw the shades of night fall with
dire misgivings.

To make their situation more gloomy, threatenings of a storm appeared,
and the wind moaned through the trees overhanging the back side of the

“I shall go crazy,” declared Aunt Vinnie.

At that moment Chick and Ruddy, their faces white with terror, burst
into the room, exclaiming:

“We have heard it ag’in! There are ghosts, and they are crying and
moaning, ‘Murder! Murder!’”

This announcement, given at this time, sent a thrill of horror through
the frames of the little group, the most of whom shivered and remained

“Nonsense, Chick,” said Joe. “You are frightened and imagined you heard
such sounds.”

“Come up into the back chamber if you think we lie, Joe. I----”

A peal of thunder caused the frightened Chick to stop in the midst of
his speech, while he crept nearer the others.

The first alarm of the rising storm was quickly followed by another
flash of lightning, and a second peal of thunder louder and nearer than
the first.

Soon after the rain began to fall, while the lightning and the thunder
gradually passed over, but not until it seemed as if the old house
would be destroyed.

When the fury of the storm was beginning to wane, the little party of
frightened people slowly gained courage.

“It must be leaking into the chambers,” said Joe. “I will get one or
two of those old buckets in the cellar and put them under the worst

“Oh, don’t dare to move,” admonished Aunt Vinnie. “This is awful.”

Not to be deterred from her purpose, Joe lit the stump of a candle, and
carefully descended the old stairs leading to the damp, musty cellar.
But she had not gone far before she was startled to find a light
already in the dismal place.

At first she thought the house must be on fire, but a second look
showed her that the glare came from a lantern, and in a moment she was
alert for what might be discovered.

Concealing her own light behind her, instead of crying out or beating
a hasty retreat, she descended the stairs more stealthily than before
until she could command a full view of the cellar.

What she now saw was a sight calculated to have sent a thrill of terror
to the heart of a less brave girl.

Three men were near the farthest corner, one of them holding the
lantern, while another was digging hurriedly into the earth, the third
seeming to have no other occupation than to watch the work of his
laboring companion.

“Hark!” he exclaimed, suddenly. “I thought I heard some one move.”

“Bosh!” said the one with the lantern. “I never see you so nervous,
Jed, as you are to-night. It was only one of the trees scraping against
the roof of the old house.”

“I guess you’d be nervous if you were in my place. A man’s mind plays
the devil with him sometimes. I ain’t forgot----”

“So does his tongue,” interrupted the other. “The--ha! you have reached
it, Bill!”

Joe could hear the spade strike something which gave back a hollow,
metallic sound that sent a shiver through her body, but she bravely
stood her ground.

The man with the spade resumed his work, throwing up the earth faster
than before, until suddenly he stopped. He peered closer into the pit
he had dug.

“Hold the lantern lower, Bill.”

The other quickly obeyed, when the one who had made the request gave
expression to a low cry of dismay.

The one holding the light now looked sharper down into the ground, when
he exclaimed:

“Great heavens! it is a human skeleton! What does this mean, Jed?”

Then the trembling man called by this name glanced downward, to start
back with a wild cry of fear.

“I made a mistake, boys. I--I----”

He started to flee without finishing his sentence.


Before Joe could realize just what was taking place, and the terrified
man had not taken his second step, a section of the big chimney which
had been built from the bottom of the cellar was torn down, and from
out of the midst of flying brick and _débris_ stood the figure of a man.

Seen by the dim lantern light he appeared like a giant in stature,
while in either hand he held a cocked revolver, one weapon leveled
at the fleeing miscreant, while the other was pointed toward his
confederates, and his stentorian voice, sounding uncommonly loud and
clear in that underground room, commanded:

“Hold! Another step and I will measure the earth with your foul body!”

“I’m lost!” cried the frightened fugitive, falling upon his knees.
“It’s the ghost of Tim Bayne!”

It was little wonder if the man’s companions stood trembling with fear,
and that Joe Willet, brave girl that she was, nearly fainted.

Slowly advancing from the cloud of dust and dirt which had enveloped
his form, the man with the deadly weapons continued:

“I have caught you in your own trap. The man who lifts a finger dies
like a dog. It would be a blessing to man if I should send these
bullets through your worthless bodies.”

“Oh, spare me! Spare me!” begged the wretch upon his knees. “I did not
want to come here, but they made me. It was the buried treasure that
did it. We were going away as soon as we got that.”

A commotion which had been suddenly started overhead at that moment
arrested the attention of the others. Besides loud voices, could be
heard the tramp of many feet, so that it seemed as if a large party had
forced an entrance into the house.

Joe had heard this sudden outbreak above, and it had suddenly occurred
to her that the sheriff and his posse had returned.

But the peril, as great as it was, seemed to arouse her to swift
action. Though the man who was holding the desperadoes at bay was
unknown to her, he was proving himself an enemy to the night marauders,
and this fact told her that she could look to him for friendship.

In this dilemma she boldly addressed him. He showed no surprise at her

“I need your assistance,” he said. “Get me some strong cord or rope, so
I may secure my birds. After that we will look further.

“I will get you the rope in a minute,” replied Joe, starting up the

It was prudent that she should move cautiously, expecting, as she did,
that she was to find enemies in the house. But she had barely reached
the top of the stairs before the well-known voice of Little Hickory
came to her ears, sending a thrill of joy to her heart.

“Where is Joe?” he asked.

“Here!” she replied, bursting into the room; and regardless of the
others present, she threw herself into his arms, sobbing:

“I am so glad you have come, Rob.”

“I hope nothing more has happened here to harm you, Joe. Dr. Menter got
home this evening, and upon hearing of my predicament he would not rest
until he had seen me. Then he called ’Squire Hardy out of his bed, and
demanded my release in such terms that I was given up. But he has come
with us. Thank him, Joe, for what we owe to him.”

Joe now saw that the genial doctor was present, and he stepped forward
to grasp her hand. She also saw Larry, who was clasped in his mother’s
arms. Besides these twain there were others present, whom she did not
recognize in her joy, while she murmured her thanks to Dr. Menter for
the kind assistance he had given Rob.

“I am his debtor still,” replied the physician. “I am glad I got home
as I did. I wish I had been here before, for I might have saved you
much suffering.”

Then Joe acted very queerly, as it seemed to the others, for she
suddenly sprang back, exclaiming:

“Oh, the man in the cellar. I forgot him. You must go to his help, Rob,
with a rope.”

In a few hurried words she explained the startling _tableau_ being
enacted below them, when Rob and the men with him started to see what
could be done, while the women stood all together in a group, half in
tears and half in fright over the strange situation.

No change had taken place in the cellar, for the unknown man held his
victims so at bay not one dared to move. The lantern had dropped from
the hand of the man called Bill, but it had not been extinguished.

“They are a string of precious scamps on whose heads there is a good
price set. Tie them fast and firm.”

Willing hands did this, and though the baffled outlaws raved and
cursed, begged and implored, they were soon prisoners.

“We came in the nick of time,” said Dr. Menter, “and though I do not
fully understand what this move means, I feel certain it is going to
work in your favor, Robert. Ha! what means this skeleton here in the
ground? I believe we are about to get at the mystery of the old red

“You are,” said the stranger, who had put aside his revolvers, and
having brushed the dirt from his clothes, appeared before the rest a
fine specimen of manhood. “I think I can give you the key. But let us
go above, as I have matters of closer interest to me that I want to
speak of first.

“Rob, though you have grown so I should not have recognized you if your
name had not been spoken, I am Gideon Bayne, your father!”


It was not until he had been folded in the arms of his new-found father
that Little Hickory could realize the truth of what had been spoken.

They had reached the floor now, and his mother stood close beside them,
while the others stood apart, silent but appreciative spectators.

“I am so glad,” murmured Mrs. Bayne. “Your father did come yesterday,
though I had not the opportunity to tell you. It seems strange but
natural that he should have come here. Then the officers came, and
knowing he was again a hunted man, he concealed himself in the opening
made in the old chimney for that very purpose by his eccentric uncle,
Timothy Bayne.”

“What your mother says is true, my son,” said the father. “At last I
am free from the law, and no longer a fugitive. I sought for you and
your mother in the big city till I was forced to give up. Then I came
here simply because Uncle Tim lived here when I was a boy, and I was
naturally attracted hither. I reached the village in the night to see
these miscreants here just as they left the store on their depredation.
It proved that I was wretched, and, instead of hunting for the real
culprits, I was again made a fugitive. But I did not know this until I
had reached here.

“You may judge of my surprise and pleasure at finding your mother here.”

The others were deeply moved by the simple story of a man who had been
more wronged than guilty. He was a man still in the prime of life, with
a stalwart form and clear, fearless manner.

“Now that I have found you,” he resumed, “I mean to stay by you, unless
you drive me away, or the law does. At any rate, I shall consider
myself a fugitive no longer.”

“Neither are you,” spoke up Dr. Menter. “If I mistake not, these men in
captivity here have a story to tell which will lift much of the cloud
that hangs over you. At any rate, I am not going to let Rob remain any
longer the victim of a man who has persecuted him out of a matter of a
little spite against another.”

“You are very kind,” replied Rob.

“Not half as kind, nor one-hundredth part as brave as you were when you
staked your life to save my dear boy and girl.”

“This is a happy moment,” said Aunt Vinnie, “and if my boys were only
here I could enjoy it with the rest of you.”

“And my Mary,” said Mrs. Little.

“Mary will be with us again before another night,” spoke up Larry.
“Only this evening I learned of a strange thing, and I was coming
to tell you of it. Lucy Howlitt was up to Deacon Cornhill’s this
afternoon, and Mrs. Cornhill told how Mary, as she thought, had been
taking things, and it wasn’t half an hour after that before Lucy caught
a tame crow belonging there carrying off a silver spoon in its bill.
She called Mrs. Cornhill, and they watched the crow go straight to a
place where he had hidden all the things that had been lost. Then Mrs.
Cornhill knew that the crow, and not Mary, had stolen what she had
missed, and she cried, she felt so bad over it.”

“That will set Mary free, and Mrs. Cornhill is willing to do anything
she can to be forgiven.”

“I am so glad,” murmured the mother. “I knew my daughter could not be
guilty of such a thing as stealing.”

“It looks as if we were coming out all right,” said Rob.

“So you are, my boy,” said the doctor. “Right always triumphs in the
end. I had rather be in your place than ’Squire Hardy’s, by a big
difference. Now listen, Aunt Vinnie, for I have a bit of news that will
give you joy as well as the others.

“The boy who was out on a night’s lark with Phil Hardy has confessed
that he and Phil were at the sawmill the night it burned, and that
young Hardy set it on fire. Of course Phil denies it, but it is a
crushing blow for the Hardys, and it will save your boy from jail.”

“Hurrah!” cried Aunt Vinnie, shaking her apron in the air. “This is
the happiest moment in my life, or will be when I clasp my boys once
more in my arms. I did not never see anything like this,” getting her
language somewhat twisted, but her heart was all right, and the others
felt as joyous as she did.

Leaving the inmates of the old red house to enjoy their new peace of
mind, and to anticipate the happiness of the coming day, Dr. Menter
looked to the safety of their prisoners.

When he had seen that they were still secure, he called Rob to one
side, saying:

“While our friends here stand guard over the captives, how would it do
for you and I to do a little investigating on our own hook?”

Little Hickory and his father willingly assented, when the three
returned to the cellar.

“I thought it might be as well to keep our business to ourselves in
part,” said the doctor, as soon as they were alone. “I have reason to
think that we are about to make important discoveries.

“I do not think it good policy to say so now to every one, but I am
ready to say to you that one of these precious fellows upstairs is the
murderer of Timothy Bayne. They have said enough to let us know that
they were here after a buried treasure. Do you know anything about
this, Mr. Bayne?”

“Only that uncle was supposed to be very wealthy, but eccentric. He was
killed for his money, as it was supposed, by a man who had been working
for him. I am sure the ruffian upstairs is the man. Whether he got
uncle’s money is more than I know. They were seeking for something of
the kind here to-night.”

“Well, we will do a little digging ourselves.”

Mr. Bayne then took the shovel, and in a few minutes a skeleton of a
man was divulged to their sight. Nothing more.

“It is probably that of Mr. Bayne,” said the doctor. “I do not believe
we had better dig any more, and we will leave the bones just as we
found them.”

“I thought the shovel struck something that was not a rock. Let me take
it,” said Little Hickory.

Beginning to dig a little to one side of the exposed skeleton, he soon
unearthed an iron box of considerable size, and which proved to be of
great weight.

With what feelings the three raised the buried box may be imagined.

“Hold, my son!” said his father. “This treasure, if it shall prove
such, has been found on the property of another man. It is not ours.”

“By as good a right, and better, than any one else’s,” said Dr. Menter.
“This property is now in the hands of Deacon Cornhill, who came into
possession by a collector’s deed, it being sold for taxes some eighteen
or nineteen years ago. A deed of this kind is open to contest for
twenty years. So as the heir to Timothy Bayne, it looks to me as if you
could hold the treasure. But here we are arguing over what may be a
valueless thing. Then, too, the deacon is an honest man, and will not
try to hold what does not belong to him.”

It was decided not to open the box until another day, and further
investigation had been made, so the three returned to those who were
anxiously awaiting in the room above.

It was not told to the outsiders of the discovery that had been made,
but the inmates of the house listened to the description of the find
with unbounded interest.

Never was day waited for more eagerly than by the party here, and as
its first rosy light appeared, the harbinger of a fair and a happy day,
Dr. Menter started for the village, taking one of the men with him.
In a few hours Sheriff Stanyan came, but he brought no terror to the
members of Ragged Rob’s young republic.

He spoke graciously to them, and complimented Rob on his good fortune.

“The ’squire is pretty badly cut up over Phil, and well he should
be, for he is a bad boy. It will take a good slice of the old man’s
property to settle this matter, but I do not think Phil will have to go
to jail.”

With these words the sheriff took away the sullen prisoners from the
red house, leaving the others in easier spirits.

Half an hour later Dr. Menter returned accompanied by Deacon Cornhill,
who greeted his colonists with great affection.

“The light is breaking,” he said, gladly, “and you are coming out all
right, thanks to Rob, here.”

“Not more to me than to our friends,” said Little Hickory.

The deacon had aged in appearance more than ten years since the others
had last seen him, and the hearts of all went out to the kind-hearted
man, who had done so much for them, and had himself suffered so much.

But the moment of darkness was already fleeting, and a new light was
coming into their lives.

The iron-bound box was soon broken into, and the overjoyed spectators
beheld a sight which made them fairly wild with strange visions of joy
and of mystery.

It was a treasure box indeed.

Made up of bank notes, government bonds, gold and silver, it held the
equivalent of over fifty thousand dollars.

Is it a wonder there were dancing and wild exclamations?

The more sober of the party could not realize it as true, while the
others did not try to realize anything but their joy.

At last, when something like rational feelings again held sway, Rob
suggested that it belonged to Deacon Cornhill, but he would not admit
it. But there was a happy compromise.

Little Hickory proposed that a portion go to him, and this, under
consideration of his difficulties, he accepted with tears in his eyes,
and blessings upon his lips.

So the hoardings of Timothy Bayne at last came to do much good. It
cleared Deacon Cornhill from his debts. It placed the members of Rob’s
young republic all in comfortable circumstances, for it was his own
wish and that of his father and mother, that it should be shared among
all alike.

What followed can be imagined.

First of all, Mary Little and Tom and Jerry were restored to home.
The prisoners were given a fair trial, at which it was shown that one
of them was the murderer of Timothy Bayne, and that he had buried the
miser’s body in the cellar. He had afterward got a clew of the treasure
buried in the cellar near where he had made the grave of his victim. He
was induced to accompany his companions to dig for the treasure. The
result is known. He and his pals were the ones who had robbed the store
and post office, also the masked men who had tried to rob our hero on
Flying Jump.

They were sentenced as their crimes demanded, and the public felt safer.

Phil Hardy, as Dr. Menter had said, escaped the jail. It was evident
he had not really intended to set the fire, and the mill owner was
more willing to receive pay for his property than to see the boy go to
prison. It was a good lesson to Phil. Nor was it lost on his father,
who afterward treated Rob and his friends as they deserved.

In fact, the families of Break o’ Day were now looked upon as the
equals of any others in town. Rob knew this came about largely from the
fact that they were among the richest now, but he did not mind that,
having resolved to merit the good bestowed upon him.

Three new houses were built that fall on Break o’ Day, so it was a busy
season. They had decided to live there, though the village people had
hoped they would come into town.

Then followed plans for the future. As ours is a story of to-day, these
cannot be followed to any great extent. Mr. Bayne and his happy wife
live in a comfortable home, eagerly waiting to welcome their son home
from college, while Mrs. Willet, quite recovered from former illness,
lives with them, waiting, too, for a daughter to graduate, when the two
young people expect to join their fortunes in married life.

There will be another marriage at the same time, when Larry Little will
wed sweet Lucy Howlitt, and go to her home to live. Larry is destined
to be a prominent citizen of Basinburg, and the coming Fourth he is to
deliver the oration of Gainsboro, without having to borrow anything
from that consummate snob and worthless fellow, Pluto Snyder.

The other boys and girls of Break o’ Day are also finishing their
education, for they believe in acquiring such knowledge as they can to
help them in after life. I do not know what their plans are, but I do
know that Rob intends to begin the study of medicine with Dr. Menter,
and when next I go to Basinburg I expect to find him the regular
physician there.

Deacon Cornhill has fully recovered his old-time spirits, and happy in
the good work that he was instrumental in bringing about. He is honored
and respected in Basinburg, and everywhere he is known, while he never
tires of telling the story of his visit to “the big, wicked city, where
houses are built edgewise, and men live under the streets.”

I do not think I have left anything unsaid which cannot be readily
understood. Of course the strange sounds heard at the old house were
not of a supernatural origin, unless the branch of a tree moved by the
wind so as to scrape on the roof of the dwelling could be called such.

It has been nearly twenty years since I last visited Break o’ Day, but
I remember distinctly the old red house where I stopped overnight,
listening that evening to the thrilling story of the murder and mystery
of “Old Tim Bayne.” I remember with equal vividness the dreary camps
of the coal burners, then falling into decay, and but one of them
occupied. I also remember the picture of utter loneliness the dismal
scene presented, as the setting sun sank behind the distant forest. But
all this has changed, and where then existed darkness and desolation
are now to be found life and activity, comfort and happiness, peace
and prosperity, for here, on the site of that thriving village known
by the happier title of Mount Delight, was founded, under such adverse
circumstances as must have discouraged a less courageous heart, Ragged
Rob’s young republic.


       *       *       *       *       *

FRANK MERRIWELL’S _Book of_ Physical Development


This book, written by the author of the famous Tip-Top Weekly, is
the most complete work of its kind. It contains directions for a
thorough and systematic course of athletic training, which, if followed
faithfully, cannot fail but aid all young men of the present day to
acquire what they are striving for--physical perfection.

It is printed on good paper and is illustrated with full-page half-tone


If sent by mail, add FOUR CENTS for postage


       *       *       *       *       *


_THE WORKS OF Horatio Alger, Jr._

This author’s books are perhaps better known than those of any other
author of his class. He had the happy faculty of depicting boy-life
as it really is, and his stories are full of incident, adventure and

Buy one and you will want them all. Published in the MEDAL LIBRARY.

   42. The Young Acrobat.
   50. Dean Dunham.
   51. Tom Tracy.
   52. From Farm Boy to Senator.
   53. The Adventures of a N. Y. Telegraph Boy.
   61. The Erie Train Boy.
   78. Both Sides of the Continent.
   87. The Five Hundred Dollar Check.
   93. A New York Boy.
  118. Ned Newton, or, The Fortunes of a N. Y. Bootblack.
  122. Tom Brace.
  130. From Canal Boy to President.
  138. Striving for Fortune.
  154. Paul, the Peddler.
  159. Phil, the Fiddler.
  163. Slow and Sure.
  166. Try and Trust.
  170. Strong and Steady.

These books are for sale by all booksellers or sent postpaid, by the
publishers, upon receipt of price and 4 cents additional to cover

  _Street & Smith, Publishers

       *       *       *       *       *



The Boat Club Series

Every boy knows how interesting the works of this author are. We have
published six of his best in the MEDAL LIBRARY.

Every intelligent boy should read them....

  =No. 1--The Boat Club.=
        =No. 3--All Aboard.=
              =No. 5--Now or Never.=

  =No. 9--Try Again.=
        =No. 46--Poor and Proud.=
              =No. 160--Little by Little.=

For sale at all newsdealers or sent postpaid by the publishers upon
receipt of price and 4c. additional to cover postage.

  _Street & Smith, Publishers

       *       *       *       *       *


This author’s famous books have been read with breathless interest by
the youth of every country. His stories are extremely interesting,
being crowded full of exciting sport and adventure.

The following are published in our Medal Library. Every boy should read

   14. The Young Colonists.
   19. Jack Archer.
   23. The Dragon and the Raven.
   25. Through the Fray.
   29. True to the Old Flag.
   32. The Curse of Carne’s Hold.
   35. In the Reign of Terror.
   85. Facing Death.
   90. Out on the Pampas.
   95. By Sheer Pluck.
  100. Maori and Settler.
  106. The Boy Knight.
  113. The Bravest of the Brave.
  119. The Final Reckoning.
  124. St. George for England.
  128. For Name and Fame.
  134. Orange and Green.
  140. The Young Buglers.
  145. Friends Though Divided.
  149. With Wolfe in Canada.
  153. Bonnie Prince Charlie.
  158. With Lee in Virginia.
  164. The Cornet of Horse.
  168. Among Malay Pirates.
  172. The Young Midshipman.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid, by the publishers, upon
receipt of price and 4 cents additional for postage.

  _Street & Smith, Publishers

       *       *       *       *       *


Don Kirk The Boy Cattle King


_Author of the Rockspur Athletic Series_

No? Well you have missed something, boys. The two books in this series
are among the best we have ever had the pleasure of offering you. Don
Kirk is a poor boy with plenty of grit, who by dint of his skill and
business head becomes a rich man in spite of the machinations of his

  =No. 10--Don Kirk, The Boy Cattle King=
  =No. 12--Don Kirk’s Mine=

These two books are copyrighted and to be found only in our Medal

Also (by the same author),

  =No. 24--The Boy From the West=
  =No. 28--The Boy Boomers=
  =No. 33--Jud and Joe, Printers and Publishers=

Postpaid from the publishers at the same price.


       *       *       *       *       *

_Here is a good one, boys!_

The Cruise _of_ The Restless


_On Inland Waterways_


Is one of the most captivating stories of the season. Read it and
you will tell your friends to read it. This book can be had in Medal
Library, No. 99, and is for sale by all booksellers and newsdealers.

  238 William St., New York City

       *       *       *       *       *

The Frank Merriwell Stories


No modern series of tales for boys and youth has met with anything like
the cordial reception and popularity accorded to the Frank Merriwell
Stories, published exclusively in Street & Smith’s Tip Top Weekly,
a publication which has today a circulation larger than that of all
similar publications combined.

There must be a reason for this, and there is. Frank Merriwell, as
portrayed by the author, is a jolly, whole-souled, honest, courageous
American lad, who appeals to the hearts of the boys.

He has no bad habits, and his manliness inculcates the idea that it is
not necessary for a boy to indulge in petty vices to be a hero. Frank
Merriwell’s example is a shining light for every ambitious lad to

There is sometimes, with parents, a prejudice against all forms of
boys’ literature in novel style.

We earnestly ask all parents to examine the Tip Top, confident that
they will commend it to their boys as suitable and profitable to be

Issued Weekly. Sold by all newsdealers.

5 Cents a copy

STREET & SMITH, Publishers, New York

       *       *       *       *       *


A weekly publication devoted to high-class literature for boys. Feb.
28, 1903.

NO. 4

Public records will show that there have been more women restored to
health and strength, and more lives saved by

Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound

than by any other medicine in the world.

It therefore _must_ be the best medicine in the world for woman’s
special ills.

NOTE.--If you are ill why don’t you write to Mrs. Pinkham at Lynn,
Mass., and get the advice which has restored more than a million women
to health? It will cost you nothing, and may save your life.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

Punctuation has been made consistent.

Variations in spelling and hyphenation were retained as they appear in
the original publication, except that obvious typographical errors have
been corrected.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Little Hickory: or, Ragged Rob's young republic" ***

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