by Susan Coolidge
CHAPTER I. LADY
JANE AND LORD
CHAPTER III. MR.
CHAPTER IV. A
DAY WITH THE
CHAPTER V. HOW
THE BLACK DOG
HAD HIS DAY.
BETWEEN THE OLD
HOME AND THE
CHAPTER IX. SHUT
UP IN THE OVEN.
CHAPTER X. A
LONG YEAR IN A
CHAPTER XI. A
STORM ON THE
CHAPTER I. LADY JANE AND LORD
[Illustration: THE FALCON'S NEST.]
It wanted but five minutes to twelve in Miss Fitch's schoolroom, and
a general restlessness showed that her scholars were aware of the fact.
Some of the girls had closed their books, and were putting their desks
to rights, with a good deal of unnecessary fuss, keeping an eye on the
clock meanwhile. The boys wore the air of dogs who see their master
coming to untie them; they jumped and quivered, making the benches
squeak and rattle, and shifted their feet about on the uncarpeted
floor, producing sounds of the kind most trying to a nervous teacher. A
general expectation prevailed. Luckily, Miss Fitch was not nervous. She
had that best of all gifts for teaching,calmness; and she understood
her pupils and their ways, and had sympathy with them. She knew how
hard it is for feet with the dance of youth in them to keep still for
three long hours on a June morning; and there was a pleasant, roguish
look in her face as she laid her hand on the bell, and, meeting the
twenty-two pairs of expectant eyes which were fixed on hers, rang
itdear Miss Fitchactually a minute and a half before the time.
At the first tinkle, like arrows dismissed from the bow-string, two
girls belonging to the older class jumped from their seats and flew,
ahead of all the rest, into the entry, where hung the hats and caps of
the school, and their dinner-baskets. One seized a pink sun-bonnet from
its nail, the other a Shaker-scoop with a deep green cape; each
possessed herself of a small tin pail, and just as the little crowd
swarmed into the passage, they hurried out on the green, in the middle
of which the schoolhouse stood. It was a very small green, shaped like
a triangle, with half a dozen trees growing upon it; but
Little things are great to little men,
you know, and to Miss Fitch's little men and women the Green had
all the importance and excitement of a park. Each one of the trees
which stood upon it possessed a name of its own. Every crotch and
branch in them was known to the boys and the most daring among the
girls; each had been the scene of games and adventures without number.
The Castle, a low spreading oak with wide, horizontal branches, had
been the favorite tree for fights. Half the boys would garrison the
boughs, the other half, scrambling from below and clutching and
tugging, would take the part of besiegers, and it had been great fun
all round. But alas, for that had been! Ever since one unlucky day,
when Luther Bradley, as King Charles, had been captured five boughs up
by Cromwell and his soldiers, and his ankle badly sprained in the
process, Miss Fitch had ruled that The Castle should be used for
fighting purposes no longer. The boys might climb it, but they must not
call themselves a garrison, nor pull nor struggle with each other. So
the poor oak was shorn of its military glories, and forced to comfort
itself by bearing a larger crop of acorns than had been possible during
the stirring and warlike times, now for ever ended.
Then there was The Dove-cote, an easily climbed beech, on which
rows of girls might be seen at noon-times roosting like fowls in the
sun. And there was The Falcon's Nest, which produced every year a few
small, sour apples, and which Isabella Bright had adopted for her tree.
She knew every inch of the way to the top; to climb it was like going
up a well-known staircase, and the sensation of sitting there aloft,
high in air, on a bough which curved and swung, with another bough
exactly fitting her back to lean against, was full of delight and
fascination. It was like moving and being at rest all at once; like
flying, like escape. The wind seemed to smell differently and more
sweetly up there than in lower places. Two or three times lost in
fancies as deep as sleep, Isabella had forgotten all about recess and
bell, and remained on her perch, swinging and dreaming, till some one
was sent to tell her that the arithmetic class had begun. And once,
direful day! marked with everlasting black in the calendar of her
conscience, being possessed suddenly, as it were, by some idle and
tricksy demon, she stayed on after she was called, and, called again,
she still stayed; and when, at last, Miss Fitch herself came out and
stood beneath the tree, and in her pleasant, mild voice told her to
come down, still the naughty girl, secure in her fastness, stayed. And
when, at last, Miss Fitch, growing angry, spoke severely and ordered
her to descend, Isabella shook the boughs, and sent a shower of hard
little apples down on her kind teacher's head. That was dreadful,
indeed, and dreadfully did she repent it afterward, for she loved Miss
Fitch dearly, and, except for being under the influence of the demon,
could never have treated her so. Miss Fitch did not kiss her for a
whole month afterward,that was Isabella's punishment,and it was
many months before she could speak of the affair without feeling her
eyes fill swiftly with tears, for Isabella's conscience was tender, and
her feelings very quick in those days.
This, however, was eighteen months ago, when she was only ten and a
half. She was nearly twelve now, and a good deal taller and wiser. I
have introduced her as Isabella, because that was her real name, but
the children and everybody always called her Eyebright. I. Bright it
had been written in the report of her first week at Miss Fitch's
school, when she was a little thing not more than six years old. The
droll name struck some one's fancy and from that day she was always
called Eyebright because of that, and because her eyes were bright.
They were gray eyes, large and clear, set in a wide, low forehead, from
which a thick mop of hazel-brown hair, with a wavy kink all through it,
was combed back, and tied behind with a brown ribbon. Her nose turned
up a little; her mouth was rather wide, but it was a smiling,
good-tempered mouth; the cheeks were pink and wholesome, and
altogether, though not particularly pretty, Eyebright was a
pleasant-looking little girl in the eyes of the people who loved her,
and they were a good many.
[Illustration: To her there was a great charm in all that goes to
the making of pictures.PAGE 7.]
The companion with whom she was walking was Bessie Mather, her most
intimate friend just then. Bessie was the daughter of a
portrait-painter, who didn't have many portraits to paint, so he was
apt to be discouraged, and his family to feel rather poor. Eyebright
was not old enough to perceive the inconveniences of being poor. To her
there was a great charm in all that goes to the making of pictures. She
loved the shining paint-tubes, the palette set with its ring of
many-colored dots, and the white canvases; even the smell of oil was
pleasant to her, and she often wished that her father, too, had been a
painter. When, as once in a great while happened, Bessie asked her to
tea, she went with a sort of awe over her mind, and returned in a
rapture, to tell her mother that they had had biscuits and apple-sauce
for supper, and hadn't done any thing in particular; but she had
enjoyed it so much, and it had been so interesting! Mrs. Bright never
could understand why biscuits and apple-sauce, which never created any
enthusiasm in Eyebright at home, should be so delightful at Bessie
Mather's, neither could Eyebright explain it, but so it was. This
portrait-painting father was one of Bessie's chief attractions in
Eyebright's eyes, but apart from that, she was sweet-tempered, pliable,
and affectionate, anda strong bond in friendship sometimesshe liked
to follow and Eyebright to lead; she preferred to listen and Eyebright
to talk; so they suited each other exactly. Bessie's hair was dark; she
was not quite so tall as Eyebright; but their heights matched very
well, as, with arms round each other's waist, they paced up and down
the green, stopping now and then to take a cookie, or a bit of bread
and butter, from the dinner-pails which they had set under one of the
Not the least attention did they pay to the rest of the scholars,
but Eyebright began at once, as if reading from some book which had
been laid aside only a moment before:
At that moment Lady Jane heard a tap at the door.
'See who it is, Margaret,' she said.
Margaret opened the door, and there stood before her astonished
eyes a knight clad in shining armor.
'Who are you, Sir Knight, and wherefore do you come?' she cried, in
'I am come to see the Lady Jane Grey,' he replied; 'I have a
message for her from Lord Guildford Dudley.'
'From my noble Guildford,' shrieked Lady Jane, rushing forward.
'Even so, madam,' replied the knight, bowing profoundly.
Here Eyebright paused for a large bite of bread and butter.
Go onplease go on, pleaded Bessie, whose mouth happened to be
empty just then.
Mumble, mumble,the Lady Jane sank back on her couchresumed
Eyebright, speaking rather thickly by reason of the bread and butter.
She was very pale, and one tear ran slowly down her pearly cheek.
'What says my lord?' she faintly uttered.
'He bids me to tell you to hope on, hope ever,' cried the knight;
'the jailer's daughter has promised to steal her father's keys
to-night, unbar his door, and let him escape.'
'Can this be true?' cried Margaretthat's you, you know,
Bessiebe ready to catch me.'Help! my lady is about to faint with
Here Eyebright sank on the grass, while Bessie made a dash, and
raised her head.
'Is it? Can it betrue?' murmured the Lady Jane,her languid
hand meanwhile stealing into the dinner-pail, and producing therefrom a
big red apple.
'It is truethe blessed news is indeed true,' cried the
'I feel new life in my veins;' and the Lady Jane sprang to her
feet. Here Eyebright scrambled to hers.
'Come, Margaret,' she cried, 'we most decide in what garb we shall
greet my dearest lord when he comes from prison. Don't you think the
cramcramcramberry velvet, with a net-work of pearls, and,'what
else did they wear, Bessie?
Girdles? ventured Bessie.
'And a girdle of gems,' went on Eyebright, easily, and quite
regardless of expense. 'Don't you think that will be best, girl?'
Oh, Eyebright, would she say 'girl?' broke in Bessie; it doesn't
sound polite enough for the Lady Jane.
They all do,I assure you they do. I can show you the place in
Shakespeare. It don't sound so nice, because when people say 'girl,'
now, it always means servant-girl, you know; but it was different then;
and Lady Jane did say 'my girl.' And you mustn't interrupt so, Bessie,
or we shan't get to the execution this recess, and after school I want
to play the little Princes in the Tower.
I won't interrupt any more, said Bessie; go on.
'Yes, the cramberry velvet is my choice,' resumed Eyebright. 'Sir
Knight, accept my grateful thanks.'
He bent low and kissed her fair hand.
'May naught but good tidings await you ever-more!' he murmured.
'Sorrow should never light on so fair a being.'
'Ah,' she said, 'sorrow seems my portion. What is rank or riches or
ducality to a happy heart!'
What did you say? What was that word, Eyebright?
Ducality. Lady Jane's father was a duke, you know.
The knight sighed deeply, and withdrew.
'Ah, Guildford,' murmured the Lady Jane, laying her head on the
shoulder of her beloved Margaret, 'shall I indeed see you once more? It
seems too good to be true.'
Eyebright paused, and bit into her apple with an absorbed
expression. She was meditating the next scene in her romance.
So the next day and the next went by, and still the Lady Jane
prayed and waited. Night came at last, and now Lord Guildford might
appear at any moment. Margaret dressed her lovely mistress in the
velvet robe, twined the pearls in her golden hair, and clasped the
jewelled girdle round her slender waist. One snow-white rose was pinned
in her bosom. Never had she looked so wildly beautiful. But still Lord
Guildford came not. At last a tap at the door was heard.
'It is he!' cried the Lady Jane, and flew to meet him.
But alas! it was not he. A stern and gigantic form filled the
door-way, and, entering, looked at her with fiery eyes. No, his helmet
was shut tight. Wouldn't that be better, Bessie?
Oh yes, much better. Do have it shut, said the obliging Bessie.
His lineaments were hidden by his helmet, resumed Eyebright,
correcting herself; but there was something in his aspect which made
her heart thrill with terror.
'You are looking to see if I am one who will never cross your path
again,' he said, in a harsh tone. 'Lady Jane Greyno! Guildford Dudley
has this day expiated his crimes on Tower Hill. His headless trunk is
already buried beneath the pavement where traitors lie.'
'Oh no, no; in mercy unsay the word!' shrieked the Lady Jane, and
with one quick sob she sank lifeless to the earth, while Margaret sank
beside her. We won't really sink, I think, Bessie, because the grass
stains our clothes so, and they get so mussed up. Wealthy says she
can't imagine what I do to my things; there was so much grass-green in
them that it greened all the water in the tub last wash, she told
mother; that was when we played the Coramantic Captive, you know, and I
had to keep fainting all the time. We'll just make believe we sank, I
'Rouse yourself, Lady,' went on the stern warrior 'I have more to
communicate. You are my prisoner. Here is the warrant to arrest you,
and the soldiers wait outside.'
One dizzy moment, and Lady Jane rallied the spirit of her race. Her
face was deadly pale, but she never looked more lovely.
'I am ready,' she said, with calm dignity; 'only give me time to
breathe one prayer,' and, sinking at the foot of her crucifix, she
breathed an Ave Maria in such melodious tones that all present
refrained from tears.
'Lead on,' she murmured.
We now pass to the scene of execution, proceeded Eyebright, whose
greatest gift as a storyteller was her power of getting over difficult
parts of the narrative in a sort of inspired, rapid way. I guess we
won't have any trial, Bessie, because trials are so hard, and I don't
know exactly how to do them. It was a chill morning in early spring.
The sun had hid his face from the awful spectacle. The bell was
tolling, the crowd assembled, and the executioner stood leaning on the
handle of his dreadful axe. The block was ready!
Oh, Eyebright, it is awful! interposed Bessie, on the point of
At last the door of the Tower opened, went on the relentless
Eyebright, and the slender form of the Lady Jane appeared, led by the
captain of the guard, and followed by a long procession of monks and
soldiers. Her faithful Margaret was by her side, drowned in tears. She
was so young, so fair and so sweet that all hearts pitied her, and when
she turned to the priest and said, 'Fa-ther, do not we-ep'
Eyebright here broke down and began to cry. As for Bessie, she had
been sobbing hard, with her handkerchief over her eyes for nearly two
'I am go-ing to hea-ven,' faltered Eyebright, overcome with
emotion. 'Thank my cousin, Bloody Mary, for sending me th-ere.'
Can you tell me the way to Mr. Bright's house? said a voice just
The girls jumped and looked round. In the excitement of the
execution, they had wandered, without knowing it, to the far edge of
the green, which bordered on the public road. A gentleman on horseback
had stopped close beside them, and was looking at them with an amused
expression, which changed to one of pity, as the two tear-stained faces
met his eye.
Is any thing the matter? Are you in any trouble? he asked,
Oh no, sir; not a bit. We are only playing; we are having a
splendid time, explained Eyebright.
And then, anxious to change the subject, and also to get back to
Lady Jane and her woes, she made haste with the direction for which the
stranger had asked.
Just down there, sir; turn the first street, and it's the fourth
house from the corner. No, the fifth,which is it, Bessie?
Let me see, replied Bessie, counting on her fingers. Mrs.
Clapp's, Mr. Potter's, Mr. Wheelwright's,it's the fourth, Eyebright.
The gentleman thanked them and rode away. As he did so, the bell
tinkled at the schoolhouse door.
Oh, there's that old bell. I don't believe it's time one bit. Miss
Fitch must have set the clock forward, declared Eyebright.
Alas, no; Miss Fitch had done nothing of the sort, for at that
moment clang went the town-clock, which, as every one knew, kept the
best of time, and by which all the clocks and watches in the
neighborhood were set.
Pshaw, it really is! cried Eyebright. How short recess seems! Not
longer than a minute.
Not more than half a minute, chimed in Bessie. Oh, Eyebright, it
was too lovely! I hate to go in.
The cheeks and eyelids of the almost executed Lady Jane and her
bower maiden were in a sad state of redness when they entered the
schoolroom, but nobody took any particular notice of them. Miss Fitch
was used to such appearances, and so were the other boys and girls,
when Eyebright and Bessie Mather had spent their recess, as they almost
always did, in playing the game which they called acting stories.
CHAPTER II. AFTER SCHOOL.
Four o'clock seemed slow in coming; but it struck at last, as hours
always will if we wait long enough; and Miss Fitch dismissed school,
after a little bit of Bible-reading and a short prayer. People nowadays
are trying to do away with Bibles and prayers in schools, but I think
the few words which Miss Fitch said in the Lord's ear every nightand
they were very few and simplesent the little ones away with a sense
of the Father's love and nearness which it was good for them to feel.
All the girls and some of the boys waited to kiss Miss Fitch for
good-night. It had been a pleasant day. Nobody, for a wonder, had
received a fault-mark of any kind; nothing had gone wrong, and the
children departed with a general bright sense that such days do not
often come, and that what remained of this ought to be made the most
There were still three hours and a half of precious daylight. What
should be done with them?
Eyebright and a knot of girls, whose homes lay in the same direction
with hers, walked slowly down the street together. It was a beautiful
afternoon, with sunshine of that delicious sort which only June knows
how to brew,warm, but not burning; bright, but not dazzling. It lay
over the walk in broad golden patches, broken by soft, purple-blue
shadows from the elms, which had just put out their light leaves and
looked like fountains of green spray tossed high in air. There was a
sweet smell of hyacinths and growing grass and cherry-blossoms;
altogether it was not an afternoon to spend in the house, and the
children felt the fact.
I don't want to go home yet, said Molly Prime. Let's do something
pleasant all together instead.
I wish my swing were ready, and we'd all have a swing in it, said
Laura Wheelwright. Tom said he would put it up to-day, but mother
begged him not, because she said I had a cold and would be sure to run
in the damp grass and wet my feet. What shall we do? We might go for a
walk to Round Pond; will you?
No; I'll tell you, burst in Eyebright. Don't let's do that,
because if we do, the big boys will see us and want to come too, and
then we sha'n't have any fun. Let's all go into our barn; there's lots
of hay up in the loft, and we'll open the big window and make thrones
of hay to sit on and tell stories. It'll be just as good as out-doors,
and no one will know where we are or come to interrupt us. Don't you
think it would be nice? Do come, Laura.
Delicious! Come along, girls, answered Laura, crumpling her soft
sun-bonnet into a heap, and throwing it up into the air, as if it had
been a ball.
Oh, may we come too? pleaded little Tom and Rosy Bury.
No, you can't, answered their sister, Kitty, sharply. You'd be
tumbling down and getting frightened, and all sorts of things. You'd
better run right home by yourselves.
The little ones were silent, but they looked anxiously at Eyebright.
I think they might come, Kitty, she said. They're almost always
good, and there's nothing in the loft to hurt them. Yes; they can
Oh, very well, if you want the bother of them. I'm sure I don't
mind, replied Kitty.
Then they all ran into the barn. The eight pairs of double-soled
boots clattered on the stairs like a sudden hail-storm on a roof.
Brindle, old Charley, and a strange horse who seemed to be visiting
them, who were munching their evening hay, raised their heads,
astonished; while a furtive rustle from some dim corner in the loft
showed that Mrs. Top-knot or Mrs. Cochin-China, hidden away there,
heard too, and did not like the sound at all.
Oh, isn't this lovely! cried Kitty Bury, kicking the fine hay
before her till it rose in clouds. Barns are so nice, I think.
Yes, but don't kick that way, said Romaine Smith, choking and
sneezing. Oh dear, I shall smother. Eyebright, please open the window.
Quick, I am strangling.
Eyebright, who was sneezing too, made haste to undo the rusty hook,
and swing the big wooden shutter back against the outside wall of the
barn. It made an enormous square opening, which seemed to let in all
out-doors at once. Dark places grew light, the soft pure air, glad of
the chance, flew in to mix with the sweet, heavy smell of the dried
grasses; it was as good as being out-doors, as Eyebright had said.
The girls pulled little heaps of hay together for seats, and ranged
themselves in a half-circle round the window, with Mr. Bright's
orchard, pink and white with fruit blossoms, underneath them; and
beyond that, between Mr. Bury's house and barn, a glimpse of valley and
blue river, and the long range of wooded hills on the opposite bank. It
was a charming out-look, and though the children could not have put
into words what pleased them, they all liked it, and were the happier
for its being there.
Now we're ready. Who will tell the first story? asked Molly Prime,
I'll tell the first, said Eyebright, always ready to take the
lead. It's a splendid story. I read it in a book. Once upon a time,
long, long ago, there was a little tailor, who was very good, and his
name was Hans. He lived all alone in his little house, and had to work
very hard because he was poor. One day as he sat sewing away, some one
knocked at the door.
'Come in,' said Hans, and an old, old man came in. He was wrapped
up in a cloak, and looked very cold and tired.
'Please may I warm myself by your fire?' he said.
'Why of course you may,'said good little Hans. 'A warm at the
fire costs nothing, and you are welcome.'
So the old man sat down and warmed himself.
'Have you come a long way to-day?' Hans said.
'Yes,' said the old man,'a long, long way. And I'm ever so cold
'Poor old fellow,' thought Hans. 'I wish I had something for him to
eat; but I haven't, because there is nothing for my own dinner except a
piece of bread and a cup of milk.' But then he thought, 'I can do with
a little less for once. I'll give the old man half of that.' So he
broke the bread in two, and poured half the milk into another cup, and
gave them to the old man, who thanked him, and ate it up. But he still
looked so hungry, that Hans thought, 'Poor fellow, he is a great deal
older than I. I can go without a dinner for once, and I'll give him the
rest.' Wasn't that good of Hans?
Yes, very good, replied the children, beginning to get interested.
When the old man had eaten up all the bread and milk, he looked
much better. And he got up to go, and said, 'You have been very good,
and given me all your own dinner. I wish I had something to give you in
return, but I have only got this,' and he took from under his cloak a
shabby, old coffee-millthe shabbiest old thing you ever saw, all cut
up with jack-knives, you know, and scratched with pins, with ink-spots
on it,Eyebright, drawing on her imagination for shabby particulars,
was thinking, you see, of her desk at school, which certainly was
Hans could hardly keep from laughing; but the old man said
severely, 'Don't smile. This mill is better than it looks. It is a
magic mill. Whenever you want any thing, you have only to give the
handle one turn, and say, Little mill, grind so and so, open sesame,
and, no matter what it is, the mill will begin of itself and grind it
for you. Then when you have enough, you must say, Little mill, stop
grinding, Abracadabra, and it will stop. Good-by,' and before Hans
could say a word, the old man hurried out of the door and was gone,
leaving the queer old mill behind him.
Of course Hans thought he must be crazy.
I should have thought so, said Bessie Mather, who was cuddled in
the hay close to Eyebright.
Well, he wasn't! Hans at first thought he would throw the mill
away, it looked so dirty and horrid, but then he thought, 'I might as
well try it. Let me see, what do I want most at this moment? why, my
dinner to be sure. I gave mine to the old man. I'll ask for a
gooseroast goose, with hot buttered rolls and coffee. That's a dinner
for a prince, let alone a tailor like me.'
So he gave the handle a turn, and said to the mill, 'Little mill,
grind a fat roast goose, open sesame,'not believing a bit that it
would, you know. And, just think! all of a sudden, the handle began to
fly round as fast as the wind, and, in one second, out of the top came
a beautiful roast goose, all covered with stuffing and gravy. It came
so fast that Hans had to catch hold of its drumsticks and take it in
his hand, there wasn't time to fetch a dish. He was so surprised that
he stood stock-still, staring at the mill with his mouth open, and the
handle went on turning, and another goose began to come out of the top.
Then Hans was frightened, for he thought, 'What shall I do with two
roast geese at once?' and he shouted loudly, 'Little mill, stop
grinding, Abracadabra,' and the mill stopped, and the other goose,
which had only began to come out, you see, doubled itself up, and went
back again into the inside of the mill as fast as it came.
Then Hans fetched a pitcher, and he said, 'Little mill, grind hot
coffee with cream and sugar,' and immediately a stream of coffee came
pouring out, till the pitcher was full. Then he ground some
delicious rolls and butter, and then he set the mill on his shelf,
and danced about the shop for joy.
'Hans,' he said, 'your fortune is made.'
And so it was. Because, you know, if people came and asked, 'How
soon could you make me a coat?' Hans just had to answer, 'Why,
to-morrow of course;' and then, when they were gone, he would go to the
mill, and say, 'Little mill, grind a coat to fit Mr. Jones,' and there
it would be. The coats all fitted splendidly and wore twice as long as
other coats, and all the town said that Hans was the best tailor that
ever was, and they all came to him for things, and he got very rich and
took a big shop. But he was just as kind to poor people as ever, and
the mill did every thing he wanted. Wasn't it nice?
I wish there really was a mill like that; I know what I would
grind, said Romaine.
Well, what would you, Romy?
A guitar with a blue ribbon, like my cousin Clara Cunningham's. She
puts the ribbon round her neck and sings, and it's just lovely.
But you don't know how to play, do you? inquired Molly.
No, but afterwards I'd grind a big music-box, and just as I began
to playno, to pretend to playI'd set it off, and it would sound as
if I was playing.
Pshaw, I'd grind something a great deal better than that, cried
Kitty. I'd grind a real piano, and I'd learn to play on it my own
self. I wouldn't have any old make-believe music-boxes to play for me.
You never saw a guitar, I guess, rejoined Romaine, pouting, or
you wouldn't think so.
I'd grind a kitten, put in Rosy, a white one, just like my
Snowdrop. Snowdrop has runned away. I don't know where she is.
How funny she'd look, coming out of the coffee-mill, mewing and
purring, said Eyebright. Now stop telling what you'd grind, and let
me go on. Hans had a neighbor, a very bad man, whose name was Carl.
When he saw how rich Hans was getting to be, he became very enverous.
Enverous. He didn't like it, you know.
Don't you mean envious? said Molly Prime.
Yes, didn't I say so? Mother says I mispronounce awfully, and it's
because I read so much to myself. I meant enverenvious, of course.
Well,Carl noticed that every day when people had gone home to their
dinners, Hans shut his door, and stayed alone for an hour, and didn't
let anybody come in. This made him suspect something. So one day he
bored a little round hole in the back door of Hans' house, and he sat
down and put his eye to it, and thought, 'Here I stay, if it is a
month, till I find out what that little rascal does when he is alone.'
So he watched and watched, and for a long time he didn't see any
thing but Hans sewing away and waiting on his customers. But at last
the clock struck twelve, and then Hans shut his door and locked it
tight, and Carl said to himself, 'Ha, ha, now I have him!'
Hans brought out the coffee-mill, and set it on the table, and Carl
heard him say, 'Little mill, grind roast veal, open sesame,' and a nice
piece of veal came out of the mill, and fell into a platter which Hans
held to catch it, and then Carl snapped his fingers and jumped for joy,
and ran off to the wharf, where there was a pirate ship whose captain
was a friend of his, and he said to the pirate captain, 'Our fortunes
'What do you mean? asked the pirate.
'I mean,' said Carl, 'that that little villain, Hans the tailor,
has got a fairy mill which grinds every thing he asks for, and I know
where he keeps it, and what he says to make it grind, and if you will
go shares, I'll steal it this very night, and we'll sail off to a
desert island, and there we'll grind gold and grind gold till we are as
rich as all the people in the world put together. What do you say to
So the pirate captain was delighted, of course, because you know
that's all that pirates want, just to get gold, and he said 'Yes,' and
that very night, when Hans was asleep, Carl crept in, stole the mill,
ran to the wharf, and he and the pirate captain sailed away, and Hans
never saw his mill again.
Oh, what a shame! Poor little Hans, cried the children.
Well, it didn't make so much matter, explained Eyebright,
comforting them, because Hans by this time had got to be so well
known, and people liked him so much, that he kept on getting richer and
richer, and was always kind to the poor, and happy, so he didn't miss
his mill much. The pirate ship sailed and sailed, and by and by, when
they were 'way out at sea, the captain said to Carl, 'Suppose we try
the mill, and see if it is really as good as you think.'
'Very well,' said Carl, 'what shall we grind?'
'We won't grind any gold yet,' said the captain, 'because gold is
heavy, and we can do it better on the desert island. We'll just grind
some little thing now for fun.' Then he called out to the cook, and
said, 'Hollo, cook, is there any thing wanting there in your kitchen?'
'Yes, sir, please,' said the cook, 'we're out of salt; we sailed so
quick that I couldn't get any.'
So Carl fetched the mill, and set it on the cabin table, and said,
'Little mill, grind salt, open sesame.'
And immediately a stream of beautiful white salt came pouring out,
till two bags which the cook had brought were quite full, and then the
captain said, 'That's enough, now stop it.'
Just at that moment Carl recollected that he didn't know how to
stop the Mill.
Here Eyebright made a dramatic pause.
Oh, what next? What did he do? cried the others.
He said all the words he could think of, continued Eyebright;
'Shut, sesame!' and 'Stop!' and 'Please stop!' and 'Don't!' and ever
so many others; but he couldn't say the right one, because he didn't
know it, you see! So the salt kept pouring on, and it filled all the
bags, and boxes, and barrels, andandall thesalt-cellars, in the
ship, and it ran on to the table, and it ran on to the floor; and the
pirate captain caught hold of the handle and tried to keep it from
turning; and it gave him such a pinch that he put his fingers into his
mouth, and danced with pain. Then he was so mad that he got an axe and
chopped the mill in two, to punish it for knocking him. But immediately
another handle sprouted out on the half which hadn't any, and that made
two mills, and the salt came faster than ever. At last, when it was up
to their knees, Carl and the pirate captain ran to the deck to consult
what they should do; and, while they were consulting, the mills went on
grinding. And the ship got so full, and the salt was so heavy, that,
all of a sudden, down they all sank, ship and Carl and the pirates and
the mills and all, to the bottom of the sea.
Eyebright came to a full stop. The children drew long breaths.
Didn't anybody ever get the mill again? asked Bessie.
No, never. There they both are at the bottom, grinding away as hard
as they can; and that's the reason why the sea is so salt!
Is it salt? asked little Rosy, who never had seen the sea.
Why, Rosy, of course. Didn't you ever eat codfish? They come out of
the sea, and they're just as salt as salt can be, said Tom, who was
about a year older than Rosy.
Now, Molly, you tell one, said Eyebright. Tell us that one which
your grandma told you,the story about the Indian. Don't you
Oh, yes; the one I told you that day in the pasture. It's a true
story, too, every bit of it. My grandma knew the lady it happened to.
It was ever and ever so long ago, when the country was all over woods
and Indians, you know, and this lady went to the West to live with her
husband. He was a pio-nary,no, pioneer,no, missionary,that was
what he was. Missionaries teach poor people and preach, and this one
was awfully poor himself, for all the money he had was just a little
bit which a church in the East gave him.
Well, after they had lived at the West for a year, the missionary
had to come back, because some of the people said he wasn't orthodox. I
don't know what that means. I asked father once, and he said it meant
so many things that he didn't think he could explain them all; but ma,
she said, it means 'agreeing with the neighbors.' Anyhow, the
missionary had to come back to tell the folks that he was orthodox, and
his wife and children had to stay behind, in the woods, with wolves and
bears and Indians close by.
The very day after he started, his wife was sitting by the fire
with her baby in her lap, when the door opened, and a great, enormous
Indian walked in and straight up to her.
I guess she was frightened; don't you?
'He gone?' asked the Indian in broken English.
'Yes,' she said.
Then the Indian held out his hands and said,'Pappoose. Give.'
Oh, my! cried Romaine. I'd have screamed right out.
Well, the lady didn't, continued Molly. What was the use? There
wasn't any one to scream to, you know. Beside, she thought perhaps the
Indian was trying her to see if she trusted him. So she let him take
the child, and he marched away with it, not saying another word.
All that night, and all next day, she watched and waited, but he
did not come back. She began to think all sorts of dreadful
things,that perhaps he had killed the child. But just at sunset he
came with the baby in his arms, and the little fellow was dressed like
a chief, in a suit of doe-skins which the squaws had made, with cunning
little moccasins on his feet and a feather stuck in his hair. The
Indian put him in his mother's lap, and said,
'Now red man know white squaw friend, for she not afraid give
And after that, all the time her husband was gone, the Indians
brought venison and game, and were real kind to the lady. Wasn't it
The children drew long breaths of relief.
I don't think I could have been so brave, declared Kitty.
Now I'll tell you a story which I made up myself, said Romaine,
who was of a sentimental turn. It's called the Lady and the Barberry
Once upon a time, long, long ago, there was a lady who loved a
barberry bush, because its berries were so pretty, and tasted so nice
and sour. She used to water it, and come at evening to lay her
snow-white hand upon its leaves.
Didn't they prick? inquired Molly, who was as practical as Romaine
No, of course they didn't prick, because the barberry bush was
enchanted, you know. Nobody else cared for barberry bushes except the
lady. All the rest liked roses and honeysuckles best, and the poor
barberry was very glad when it saw the lady coming. At last, one night,
when she was watering it, it spoke, and it said,'The hour of
deliverance has arrived. Lady, behold in me a Prince and your lover!'
and it changed into a beautiful knight with barberries in his helmet,
and knelt at her feet, and they were very happy for ever after.
Oh, how short! complained the rest. Eyebright's was a great deal
Yes, but she read hers in a book, you know. I made mine up, all
I'll tell you a 'tory now, broke in little Rosy. It's a nice
'tory,a real nice one. Once there was a little girl, and she wanted
some pie. She wanted some weal wich pie. And her mother whipped her
because she wanted the weal wich pie. Then she kied. And her mother
whipped her. Then she kied again. And her mother whipped her again. And
the wich pie made her sick. And she died. She couldn't det well, 'cause
the dottor he didn't come. He couldn't come. There wasn't any dottor.
He was eated up by tigers. Isn't that a nice 'tory?
The girls laughed so hard over Rosy's story that, much abashed, she
hid her face in Kitty's lap, and wouldn't raise it for a long time.
Eyebright tried to comfort her.
It's a real nice story, she said. The nicest of all. I'm so glad
you came, Rosy, else you wouldn't have told it to us.
Did you hear me tell how the dottor was eated up by tigers? asked
Rosy, peeping with one eye from out of the protection of Kitty's apron.
Yes, indeed. That was splendid.
I made that up! said Rosy, triumphantly revealing her whole face,
joyful again, and bright as a full moon.
Who'll be next? asked Eyebright.
I will, said Laura. Listen now, for it's going to be perfectly
awful, I can tell you. It's about robbers.
As she spoke these words, Laura lowered her voice, into a sort of
There was once a girl who lived all alone by herself, with just one
Newfoundland dog for company. He wasn't a big Newfoundland,he was
pretty small. One night, when it was all dark and she was just going to
sleep, she heard a rustle underneath her bed.
The children had drawn closer together since Laura began, and at
this point Romaine gave a loud shriek.
What was that? she asked.
All held their breaths. The loft was getting a little dusky now, and
sure enough, an unmistakable rustle was heard among the hay in a
This loft would be a very bad place for a robber, said Eyebright,
in a voice which trembled considerably, though she tried to keep it
steady. A robber wouldn't have much chance with all our men down
below. James, you know, girls, and Samuel and John.
Yes,and Benjamin and Charles, chimed in the quick-witted Molly;
and your father, Eyebright, and Henry,all down there in the barn.
While they recited this formidable list, the little geese were
staring with wide-open, affrighted eyes into the corner where the
rustle had been heard.
And, continued Eyebright, her voice trembling more than ever,
they have all got pitchforks, you know, and guns, andoh, mercy! what
was that? The hay moved, girls, it did move, I saw it!
All scrambled to their feet prepared to fly, but before any one
could start, the hay in the corner parted, and, cackling and screaming,
out flew Mrs. Top-knot, tired of her hidden nest, or of the
story-telling, and resolved on escape. Eyebright ran after, and shoo-ed
her downstairs. Then she came back laughing, and said,
How silly we were! Go on, Laura.
But the nerves of the party were too shaky still to enjoy
robber-stories, and Eyebright, perceiving this, made a diversion.
I know what we all want, she said; some apples. Stay here all of
you, and I'll run in and get them. I won't be but a minute.
Mayn't I come too? asked the inseparable Bessie.
Yes, do, and you can help me carry 'em. Don't tell any stories
while we're gone, girls. Come along, Bess.
Wealthy happened to be in the buttery, skimming cream, so no one
spied them as they ran through the kitchen and down the cellar stairs.
The cellar was a very large one. In fact, there were half a dozen
cellars opening one into the other, like the rooms of a house. Wood and
coal were kept in some of them, in others vegetables, and there was a
swinging shelf where stood Wealthy's cold meat, and odds and ends of
food. All the cellars were dark at this hour of the afternoon, very
dark, and Bessie held Eyebright's hand tight, as, with the ease of one
who knew the way perfectly, she sped toward the apple-room.
In the blackest corner of all, Eyebright paused, fumbled a little on
an almost invisible shelf with a jar which had a lid and clattered, and
then handed to her friend a dark something whose smell and taste showed
it to be a pickled butternut.
Wealthy keeps her pickles here, she said, and she lets me take
one now and then, because I helped to prick the butternuts when she
made 'em. I got my fingers awfully stained too. It didn't come off for
almost a month. Aren't they good?
Perfectly splendid! replied Bessie, as her teeth met in the spicy
acid oval. I do think butternut pickles are just too lovely!
The apple-room had a small window in it, so it was not so dark as
the other cellars. Eyebright went straight to a particular barrel.
These are the best ones that are left, she said. They are those
spotty russets which you said you liked, Bessie. Now, you take four and
I'll take four. That'll make just one apiece for each of us.
How horrid it would be, said Bessie, as the two went upstairs
again with the apples in their aprons,how horrid it would be if a
hand should suddenly come through the steps and catch hold of our
Good gracious, Bessie Mather! cried Eyebright, whose vivid
imagination represented to her at once precisely how the hand on her
ankle would feel, I wish you wouldn't say such things,at least till
we're safely up, she added.
Another moment, and they were safely up and in the kitchen. Alas,
Wealthy caught sight of them.
Eyebright, she called after them, tea will be ready in ten
minutes. Come in and have your hair brushed and your face washed.
Why, Wealthy Judson, what an idea! It's only twenty minutes past
There's a gentleman to tea to-night, and your pa wants it early,
so's he can get off by six, replied Wealthy. I'm just wetting the tea
now. Don't argue, Eyebright, but come at once.
I've got to go out to the barn for one minute, anyhow, cried
Eyebright, impatiently, and she and Bessie flashed out of the door and
across the yard before Wealthy could say another word.
It's too bad, she said, rushing upstairs into the loft and
beginning to distribute the apples. That old tea of ours is early
to-night, and Wealthy says I must come in. I'm so sorry now that I went
for the apples at all, because if I hadn't I shouldn't have known that
tea was early, and then I needn't have gone! We were having such a nice
time! Can't you all stay till I've done tea? I'll hurry!
But the loft, with its rustles and dark corners, was not to be
thought of for a moment without Eyebright's presence and protection.
Oh, no, we couldn't possibly; we must go home, the children said,
and down the stairs they all rushed.
Brindle and old Charley and the strange horse raised their heads and
stared as the little cavalcade trooped by their stalls. Perhaps they
were wondering that there was so much less laughing and talking than
when it went up. They did not know, you see, about the perfectly
awful robber story, or the mysterious rustle, or how dreadfully Mrs.
Top-knot in the dark corner had frightened the merry little crowd.
CHAPTER III. MR. JOYCE.
Wealthy was waiting at the kitchen-door, and pounced on Eyebright
the moment she appeared. I want you to know Wealthy, so I must tell you
about her. She was very tall and very bony. Her hair, which was black
streaked with gray, was combed straight, and twisted round a hair-pin,
so as to make a tight, solid knot, about the size of a half-dollar, on
the back of her head. Her face was kind, but such a very queer face
that persons who were not used to it were a good while in finding out
the kindness. It was square and wrinkled, with small eyes, a wide
mouth, and a nose that was almost flat, as if some one had given it a
knock when Wealthy was a baby, and driven it in. She always wore dark
cotton gowns and aprons, as clean as clean could be, but made after the
pattern of Mrs. Japhet's in the Noah's arks,straight up and straight
down, with almost no folds, so as to use as little material as
possible. She had lived in the house ever since Eyebright was a baby,
and looked upon her almost as her own child,to be scolded, petted,
ordered about, and generally taken care of.
Eyebright could not remember any time in her life when her mother
was not ill. She found it hard to believe that mamma ever had been
young and active, and able to go about and walk and do the things which
other people did. Eyebright's very first recollections of her were of a
pale, ailing person always in bed or on the sofa, complaining of
headache and backache, and general misery,coming downstairs once or
twice in a year perhaps, and even then being the worse for it. The room
in which she spent her life had a close, dull smell of medicines about
it, and Eyebright went past its door and down the entry on tiptoe,
hushing her footsteps without being aware that she did so, so fixed was
the habit. She was so well and strong herself that it was not easy for
her to understand what sickness is, or what it needs; but her
sympathies were quick, and though it was not hard to forget her mother
and be happy when she was rioting out-of-doors with the other children,
she never saw her without feeling pity and affection, and a wish that
she could do something to please or to make her feel better.
Tea was so nearly ready that Wealthy would not let Eyebright go
upstairs, but carried her instead into a small bedroom, opening from
the kitchen, where she herself slept. It was a little place, bare
enough, but very neat and clean, as all things belonging to Wealthy
were sure to be. Then, she washed Eyebright's face and hands, and
brushed her hair, retying the brown bow, crimping with her fingers the
ruffle round Eyebright's neck, and putting on a fresh white apron to
conceal the ravages of play in the school frock. Eyebright was quite
able to wash her own face, but Wealthy was not willing yet to think so;
she liked to do it herself, and Eyebright cared too little about the
matter, and was too fond of Wealthy beside, to make any resistance.
When the little girl was quite neat and tidy,Go into the
sitting-room, said Wealthy, with a final pat. Tea will be ready in a
few minutes. Your pa is in a hurry for it.
So Eyebright went slowly through the kitchen, which looked very
bright and attractive with its crackling fire and the sunlight
streaming through its open door, and which smelt delightfully of ham
and eggs and new biscuit,and down the narrow, dark passage, on one
side of which was the sitting-room, and on the other a parlor, which
was hardly ever used by anybody. Wealthy dusted it now and then, and
kept her cake in a closet which opened out of it, and there were a
mahogany sofa and some chairs in it, upon which nobody ever sat, and
some books which nobody ever read, and a small Franklin stove, with
brass knobs on top, in which a fire was never lighted, and an odor of
mice and varnish, and that was all. The sitting-room on the other side
of the entry was much pleasanter. It was a large, square room,
wainscoted high with green-painted wood, and had a south window and two
westerly ones, so that the sun lay on it all day long. Here and there
in the walls, and upon either side of the chimney-piece, were odd,
unexpected little cupboards, with small green wooden handles in their
doors. The doors fitted so closely that it was hard to tell which was
cupboard and which wall; anybody who did not know the room was always a
long time in finding out just how many cupboards there were. The one on
the left-hand side of the chimney-piece was Eyebright's special
cupboard. It had been called hers ever since she was three years old,
and had to climb on a chair to open the door. There she kept her
treasures of all kinds,paper dolls and garden seeds, and books, and
scraps of silk for patchwork; and the top shelf of all was a sort of
hospital for broken toys, too far gone to be played with any longer,
but too dear, for old friendship's sake, to be quite thrown away. The
furniture of the sitting-room was cherry-wood, dark with age; and
between the west windows stood a cherry-wood desk, with shelves above
and drawers below, where Mr. Bright kept his papers and did his
He was sitting there now as Eyebright came in, busy over something,
and in the rocking-chair beside the fire-place was a gentleman whom she
did not recognize at first, but who seemed to know her, for in a minute
he smiled and said:
Oho! here is my friend of this morning. Is this your little girl,
Yes, replied papa, from his desk; she is minemy only one. That
is Mr. Joyce, Eyebright. Go and shake hands with him, my dear.
Eyebright shook hands, blushing and laughing, for now she saw that
Mr. Joyce was the gentleman who had interrupted their play at recess.
He kept hold of her hand when the shake was over, and began to talk in
a very pleasant, kind voice, Eyebright thought.
I didn't know that you were Mr. Bright's little daughter when I
asked the way to his house, he said Why didn't you tell me? And what
was the game you were playing, which you said was so splendid, but
which made you cry so hard? I couldn't imagine, and it made me very
It was only about Lady Jane Grey, answered Eyebright. I was Lady
Jane, and Bessie, she was Margaret; and I was just going to be beheaded
when you spoke to us. I always cry when we get to the executions; they
are so dreadful.
Why do you have them, then? I think that's a very sad sort of play
for two happy little girls like you. Why not have a nice merry game
about men and women who never were executed? Wouldn't it be
Oh, no! It isn't half as much fun playing about people who don't
have things happen to them, said Eyebright, eagerly. Once we did,
Bessie and I. We played at George and Martha Washington, and it wasn't
amusing a bit,just commanding armies, and standing on platforms to
receive company, and cutting down one cherry-tree! We didn't like it at
all. Lady Jane Grey is much nicer than that. And I'll tell you another
splendid one, 'The Children of the Abbey.' We played it all through
from the very beginning chapter, and it took us all our recesses for
four weeks. I like long plays so much better than short ones which are
done right off.
Mr. Joyce's eyes twinkled a little, and his lips twitched; but he
would not smile, because Eyebright was looking straight into his face.
I don't believe you are too big to sit on my knee, he said; and
Eyebright, nothing loth, perched herself on his lap at once. She was
such a fearless little thing, so ready to talk and to make friends,
that he was mightily taken with her, and she seemed equally attracted
by him, and chattered freely as to an old friend.
She told him all about her school, and the girls, and what they did
in summer, and what they did in winter, and about Top-knot, and the
other chickens, and her dolls,for Eyebright still played with dolls
by fits and starts, and her grand plan for making a cave in the
garden, in which to keep label-sticks and bits of string and her
Won't it be lovely? she demanded. Whenever I want any thing, you
know, I shall just have to dig a little bit, and take up the shingle
which goes over the top of the cave, and put my hand in. Nobody will
know that it's there but me. Unless I tell Bessie, she added,
remembering that almost always she did tell Bessie.
Mr. Joyce privately feared that the trowel would become very rusty,
and Eyebright's cave be apt to fill with water when the weather was
wet; but he would not spoil her pleasure by making these objections.
Instead, he talked to her about his home, which was in Vermont, among
the Green Mountains, and his wife, whom he called mother, and his
son, Charley, who was a year or two older than Eyebright, and a great
pet with his father, evidently.
I wish you could know Charley, he said; you are just the sort of
girl he would like, and he and you would have great fun together.
Perhaps some day your father'll bring you up to make us a visit.
That would be very nice, said Eyebright. Butshaking her
headI don't believe it'll ever happen, because papa never does take
me away. We can't leave poor mamma, you know. She'd miss us so much.
Here Wealthy brought in supper,a hearty one, in honor of Mr.
Joyce, with ham and eggs, cold beef, warm biscuit, stewed rhubarb,
marmalade, and, by way of a second course, flannel cakes, for making
which Wealthy had a special gift. Mr. Joyce enjoyed every thing, and
made an excellent meal. He was amused to hear Eyebright say, Do take
some more rhubarb, papa. I stewed it my own self, and it's better than
it was last time, and to see her arranging her mother's tea neatly on
What a droll little pussy that is of yours! he said to her father,
when Eyebright had gone upstairs with the tray. She seems all
imagination, and yet she has a practical turn, too. It's an odd
mixture. We don't often get the two things combined in one child.
No, you don't, replied Mr. Bright. Sometimes I think she has too
much imagination. Her head is stuffed with all sorts of notions picked
up out of books, and you'd think, to hear her talk, that she hadn't an
idea beyond a fairy-tale. But she has plenty of common sense, too, and
is more helpful and considerate than most children of her age. Wealthy
says she is really useful to her, and has quite an idea of cooking and
housekeeping. I'm puzzled at her myself sometimes. She seems two
different children rolled into one.
Well, if that is the case, I see no need to regret her vivid
imagination, replied his friend. A quick fancy helps people along
wonderfully. Imagination is like a big sail. When there's nothing
underneath it's risky; but with plenty of ballast to hold the vessel
steady, it's an immense advantage and not a danger.
Eyebright came in just then, and as a matter of course went back to
her perch upon her new friend's knee.
Do you know a great many stories? she asked suggestively.
I know a good many. I make them up for Charley sometimes.
I wish you'd tell me one.
It will have to be a short one then, said Mr. Joyce, glancing at
his watch. Bright, will you see about having my horse brought round? I
must be off in ten minutes or so. Then, turning to Eyebright,I'll
tell you about Peter and the Wolves, if you like. That's the shortest
story I know.
Oh, do! I like stories about wolves so much, said Eyebright,
settling herself comfortably to listen.
Little Peter lived with his grandmother in a wood, began Mr. Joyce
in a prompt way, as of one who has a good deal of business to get
through in brief time.
They lived all alone. He hadn't any other boys to play with, but
once in a great while his grandmother let him go to the other side of
the wood, where some boys lived, and play with them. Peter was glad
when his grandmother said he might go.
One day in the autumn, he said: 'Grandmother, may I go and see
William and Jack?' Those were the names of the other boys.
'Yes,' she said, 'you can go, if you will promise to come home at
four o'clock. It gets dark early, and I am afraid to have you in the
wood later than that.'
So Peter promised. He had a nice time with William and Jack, and at
four o'clock he started to go home; for he was a boy of his word.
As he went along, suddenly, on the path before him, he saw a most
beautiful gray squirrel, with a long bushy tail.
'Oh, you beauty!' cried Peter. 'I must catch you and carry you home
Now, this was humbug in Peter, because grandmother did not care a
bit about gray squirrels. But Peter did.
So Peter ran to catch the squirrel, and the squirrel ran, too. He
did not go very fast, but kept just out of reach. More than once, Peter
thought he had laid hold of him, but the cunning squirrel always
slipped through his fingers.
At last the squirrel darted up into a thick tree, where Peter could
not see him any more. Then Peter began to think of going home. To his
surprise it was almost dark. He had been running so hard that he had
not noticed this before, nor which way he had come, and when he looked
about him, he saw that he had lost his way.
This was bad enough, but worse happened; for, pretty soon, as he
plodded on, trying to guess which way he ought to go, he heard a long,
low howl far away in the wood,the howl of a wolf. Peter had heard
wolves howl before, and he knew perfectly well what the sound was. He
began to run, and he ran and ran, but the howl grew louder, and was
joined by more howls, and they sounded nearer every minute, and Peter
knew that a whole pack of wolves was after him. Wolves can run much
faster than little boys, you know. They had almost caught Peter, when
Mr. Joyce paused to enjoy Eyebright's eyes, which had grown as round
as saucers in her excitement.
Oh, go on! she cried, breathlessly.
when he saw a big hollow tree with a hole in one side. There was
not a moment to spare; the hole was just big enough for him to get
into; and in one second he had scrambled through and was inside the
tree. There were some large pieces of bark lying inside, and he picked
one up and nailed it over the hole with a hammer which he happened to
have in his pocket. So there he was, in a safe little house of his own,
and the wolves could not get at him at all.
That was splendid, sighed Eyebright, relieved.
All night the wolves stayed by the tree, and scratched and howled
and tried to get in, continued Mr. Joyce. By and by the moon rose,
and Peter could see them putting their noses through the knotholes in
the bark, and smelling at him. But the knotholes were too small, and,
smell as they might, they could not get at him. At last, watching his
chance he whipped out his jack-knife and cut off the tip of the biggest
wolf's nose. Then the wolves howled awfully and ran away, and Peter put
the nose-tip in his pocket, and lay down and went to sleep.
Oh, how funny! cried Eyebright, delighted. What came next?
Morning came next, and he got out of the tree and ran home. His
poor grandmother had been frightened almost to death, and had not slept
a wink all night long; she hugged and kissed Peter for half an hour and
then hurried to cook him a hot breakfast. That's all the story,only,
when Peter grew to be a man, he had the tip of the wolf's nose set as a
breast pin, and he always wore it.
Here Mr. Joyce set Eyebright down, and rose from his chair, for he
heard his horse's hoofs under the window.
Oh, do tell me about the breast-pin before you go! cried
Eyebright. Did he really wear it? How funny! Was it set in gold, or
I shall have to keep the description of the breast-pin till we meet
again, replied Mr. Joyce. My dear, and he stooped and kissed her, I
wish I had a little girl at home just like you. Charley would like it
too. I shall tell him about you. And if you ever meet, you will be
friends, I am sure.
Eyebright sat on the door-steps and watched him ride down the
street. The sun was just setting, and all the western sky was flushed
with pink, the very color of a rosy sea-shell.
Mr. Joyce is the nicest man that ever came here, I think, she said
to Wealthy, who passed through the hall with her hands full of
tea-things. He told me a lovely story about wolves. I'll tell it to
you when you put me to bed, if you like. He's the nicest man I ever
Nicer than Mr. Porter? asked Wealthy, grimly, walking down the
Eyebright blushed and made no answer. Mr. Porter was a sore subject,
though she was only six years old when she knew him, and had never seen
He was a young man who for one summer had rented a vacant room in
Miss Fitch's school building. He took a great fancy to Eyebright, who
was a little girl then, and he used to play with her, and carry her
about the green in his arms. Several times he promised her a doll,
which he said he would fetch when he went home. At last, he went home
and came back, but no doll appeared and whenever Eyebright asked after
it, he replied that it was in his trunk.
One day, he carelessly left open the door of his room and Eyebright,
peeping in, spied it, and saw that his trunk was unlocked. Now was her
chance, she thought, and, without consulting anybody, she went in,
resolved to find the doll for herself.
Into the trunk she dived. It was full of things, all of which she
pulled out and threw upon the floor, which had no carpet, and was
pretty dusty. Boots, and shirts, and books, and blacking-bottles, and
papers,all were dumped one on top of the other; but though she went
to the very bottom, no doll was to be found, and she trotted away,
almost crying with disappointment, and leaving the things just as they
lay, on the floor.
Mr. Porter did not like it at all, when he found his property in
this condition, and Miss Fitch punished Eyebright, and Wealthy scolded
hard; but Eyebright never could be made to see that she had done any
He's a wicked man, and he didn't tell the trufe, was all she would
say. Wealthy was deeply shocked at the affair, and never let Eyebright
forget it, so that even now, after six years had passed, the mention of
Mr. Porter's name made her feel uncomfortable. She left the door-step
presently, and went upstairs to her mother's room, where she usually
spent the last half-hour before going to bed.
It was one of Mrs. Bright's better days, and she was lying on the
sofa. She was a pretty little woman still, though thin and faded, and
had a gentle, helpless manner, which made people want to pet her, as
they might a child. The room seemed very warm and close after the fresh
door-step, and Eyebright thought, as she had thought many times before,
How I wish that mother liked to have her window open! But she did not
say so. Was your tea nice, mamma? she asked, a little doubtfully, for
Mrs. Bright was hard to please with food, probably because her appetite
was so fickle.
Pretty good, her mother answered; my egg was too hard, and I
don't like quite so much sugar in rhubarb, but it did very well. What
have you been about all day, Eyebright?
Nothing particular, mamma. School, you know; and after school, some
of the girls came into our hayloft and told stories, and we had such a
nice time. Then Mr. Joyce was here to tea. He's a real nice man, mamma.
I wish you had seen him.
How was he nice? It seems to me you didn't see enough of him to
judge, said her mother.
Why, mamma, I can always tell right away if people are nice or not.
Can't you? Couldn't you, when you were well, I mean?
I don't think much of that sort of judging, said Mrs. Bright,
languidly. It takes a long time to find out what people really
Why, mamma! cried Eyebright, with wide-open eyes. I couldn't know
but just two or three people in my whole life if I had to take such
lots of time to find out! I'd a great deal rather be quick, even if I
changed my mind afterward.
You'll be wiser when you're older, said her mother. It's time for
my medicine now. Will you bring it, Eyebright? It's the third bottle
from the corner of the mantel, and there's a tea-cup and spoon on the
[Illustration: Eyebright fetched the medicine and the cup, and her
mother measured out the dose.PAGE 61.]
Poor Mrs. Bright! Her medicine had grown to be the chief interest of
her life! The doctor who visited her was one of the old-fashioned kind
who believed in big doses and three pills at a time, and something new
every week or two; but, in addition to his prescriptions, Mrs. Bright
tried all sorts of queer patent physics which people told her of, or
which she read about in the newspapers. She also took a great deal of
herb tea of different sorts. There was always a little porringer of
something steaming away on her stove,camomile, or boneset, or
wormwood, or snakeroot, or tansy, and always a long row of fat bottles
with labels on the chimney-piece above it.
Eyebright fetched the medicine and the cup, and her mother measured
out the dose.
I can't help hoping that this is going to do me good, she said.
It's something new which I read about in the 'Evening Chronicle,'Dr.
Bright's Cosmopolitan Febrifuge. It seems to work the most wonderful
cures. Mrs. Mulravy, a lady in Pike's Gulch, Idaho, got entirely well
of consumptive cancer by taking only two bottles; and a gentleman from
Alaska writes that his wife and three children, who were almost dead of
cholera collapse and heart-disease, recovered entirely after taking the
Febrifuge one month. It's very wonderful.
I've noticed that those folks who get well in the advertisements
always live in Idaho and Alaska and such like places, where people
ain't very likely to go a-hunting after them, said Wealthy, who came
in just then with a candle.
Now, Wealthy, how can you say so! Both these cures are certified to
by regular doctors. Let me see,yes,Dr. Ingham and Dr. H. B. Peters.
Here are their names on the bottle!
It's easy enough to make up a name or two if you want 'em,
muttered Wealthy. Then, seeing that Mrs. Bright looked troubled, she
was sorry she had spoken, and made haste to add, However, the medicine
may be first-rate medicine, and if it does you good, Mrs. Bright, we'll
crack it up everywhere,that we will.
Eyebright's bedtime was come. She kissed her mother for good-night
with the feeling which she always had, that she must kiss very gently,
or some dreadful thing might happen,her mother break in two, perhaps,
or something. Wealthy, who was in rather a severe mood for some reason,
undressed her in a sharp, summary way, declined to listen to the wolf
story, and went away, taking the candle with her. But there was little
need of a candle in Eyebright's room that night, for the shutters stood
open, and a bright full moon shone in, making every thing as distinct,
almost, as it was in the daytime. She was not a bit sleepy, but she
didn't mind being sent to bed, at all, for bedtime often meant to her
only a second playtime which she had all to herself. Getting up very
softly, so as to make no noise, she crept to the closet, and brought
out a big pasteboard box which was full of old ribbons and odds and
ends of lace and silk. With these she proceeded to make herself fine; a
pink ribbon went round her head, a blue one round her neck, a yellow
and a purple round either ankle, and round her waist, over her
night-gown a broad red one, very dirty, to serve as a sash. Each wrist
was adorned with a bit of cotton edging, and, with a broken fan in her
hand, Eyebright climbed into bed again, and putting one pillow on top
of the other to make a seat, began to play, telling herself the story
in a low, whispering tone.
I am a Princess, she said; the most beautiful Princess that ever
was. But I didn't know that I was a Princess at all, because a wicked
fairy stole me when I was little, and put me in a lonely cottage, and I
thought I wasn't any thing but a shepherdess. But one day, as I was
feeding my sheep, a ne-cro-answer he came by and he said:
'Princess, why don't you have any crown?'
Then I stared, and said, 'I'm not a Princess.'
'Oh, but you are,' he said; 'a real Princess.'
Then I was so surprised you can't think, Bessie.Oh, I forgot that
Bessie wasn't here. And I said, 'I cannot believe such nonsense as
Then the necroanswer laughed, and he said:
'Mount this winged steed, and I will show you your kingdom which
you were stolen away from.'
So I mounted.
Here Eyebright put a pillow over the foot-board of the bed, and
climbed upon it, in the attitude of a lady on a side-saddle.
Oh, how beautiful it is! she murmured. How fast we go! I do love
Dear silly little Eyebright! Riding there in the moonlight, with her
scraps of ribbon and her bare feet and her night-gown, she was a
fantastic figure, and looked absurd enough to make any one laugh. I
laugh, too, and yet I love the little thing, and find it delightful
that she should be so easily amused and made happy with small fancies.
Imagination is like a sail, as Mr. Joyce had said that evening; but
sails are good and useful things sometimes, and carry their owners over
deep waters and dark waves, which else might dampen, and drench, and
[Illustration: EYEBRIGHT MAKING HERSELF FINE.]
CHAPTER IV. A DAY WITH THE SHAKERS.
Three weeks after Mr. Joyce's visit, the long summer vacation began.
The children liked school, but none the less did they rejoice over the
coming of vacation. It brought a sense of liberty, of
long-days-all-their-own-to-do-as-they-liked-with, which it was worth
going to school the rest of the year to feel. Each new morning was like
a separate beautiful gift, brought and laid in their hands by an
invisible somebody, who must be kind and a friend, since he continually
did this delightful thing for them.
One hot August afternoon, Eyebright and two or three of her special
cronies had gone for coolness to the ice-house, a place which they had
used as a playroom before on especially sultry days. It was a large,
square underground cave, with a shingled roof set over it, whose eaves
rested on the ground. The ice when first put in, filled all the space
under the roof, and it was necessary to climb up to reach the top
layer; later, ice and ground were on a level, but by August so much ice
had been used or had melted away, that a ladder was wanted to help
people down to the surface. The girls had left the door a little open,
but still the place was dark, and they could only dimly see the tin
chest in the corner where Wealthy kept her marketing, and the shapes of
two or three yellow crocks which lay half buried, their round lids
looking like the caps of droll little drowning Chinamen.
It was so hot outside, that the dullness of the ice was as
refreshing as very cold water is to people who have been walking in the
sun. The girls drew long breaths of relief as they entered. Such a
sharp change from heat to cold is not quite safe, and I imagine Wealthy
would probably have had a word to say on the subject, had she spied
them going into the ice-house; but Wealthy happened to be looking
another way that afternoon, so she did not interfere; and as, strange
to say, it harmed nobody that time, we need not discuss the wisdom of
the proceeding, only don't any of you who read this go and sit in an
ice-house without getting leave from someone wiser than yourselves.
Oh, this is delightful, said Romaine. It's just like the North
Pole and the Arctic regions which Pa read about in the book. Don't you
come here sometimes and play shipwreck and polar bears, Eyebright? I
should think you would.
We did once, but Harry Prime broke a butter-jar, and Wealthy was as
mad as hops, and said we must never play here again, and I must never
let another boy come into the ice-house. She didn't say we girls
mustn't come, though, and I'm glad she didn't; for it's lovely in hot
weather, I think.
I wish we had an ice-house, sighed Kitty Bury, you do have
such lots of nice things, Eyebright, ice-houses and hay-lofts and a
great big garret, and a room to yourself; I wish I was an only child.
I'd rather have some brothers and sisters than all the ice-houses
in creation, said Eyebright, who never had agreed with Kitty as to the
advantages of being 'only.' It's a great deal nicer.
That's because you don't know any thing about it. Brothers and
sisters are nice enough sometimes, but other times they're nothing but
a plague, snapped Kitty, who seemed out of sorts for some reason or
other; you can't imagine what a bother Sarah Jane is to me. She's
always taking my things, and turning my drawers over, and tagging round
after me when I don't want her; and if I bolt the door, and try to get
a little peace and quiet, she comes and bangs, and says it's her room
too, and I've no business to lock her out; and then mother takes her
part, and it isn't nice a bit. I would a great deal rather be an only
child than have Sarah Jane.
But don't you have splendid times at night and in the morning? I
always thought it must be so nice to wake up and find another girl
there ready to play and talk. Eyebright's tone was a little wistful.
Well, it's nice sometimes, admitted Kitty.
Just then the door at the top of the ladder opened, and a fresh face
Oh, it's Molly Prime, they all cried. Here we are, Molly, come
Molly scrambled down the ladder.
I guessed where you were, she said. Wealthy didn't know, so I
took care not to say a word to her, but just crept round and looked in.
Oh, girls! what do you think is going to happen?something nice.
Miss Fitch is going to have a picnic and take us to the Shakers.
The Shaker settlement was about ten miles from Tunxet. I am not sure
that I have remembered to tell you that Tunxet was the name of the
place where Eyebright and the other children lived, but it was, Tunxet
Village. They were used to see the stout, sober-looking brethren in
their broad-brimmed hats, driving about the place in wagons and selling
vegetables, cheese, and apple-butter. But, as it happened, none of the
children had ever visited the home of the community, and Molly's news
produced a great excitement.
Goody! goody! they all cried, when are we going, Molly, and how
did you know?
Miss Fitch told father. She came to borrow our big wagon, and Ben
to drive, and Pa said she could have it and welcome, because he thinks
ever so much of Miss Fitch, and so does mother. We are going on Friday,
and we are not to carry any thing to eat, because we're sure to get a
splendid dinner over there. Mother says nobody makes such good things
as the Shakers do. Won't it be lovely? All the school is going, little
ones and all, except Washington Wheeler, and he can't, because he's got
Oh, poor little Washington, that's too bad, said Eyebright, but
I'm too glad for any thing that we're going. I always did want to see
the Shakers. Wealthy went once, and she told me about it. She says
they're the cleanest people in the world, and that you might eat off
their kitchen floor.
Well, if Wealthy says that, you may be sure it is true, put in
Laura Wheelwright. Ma declares she's the cleanest person she
Oh, Wealthy says the Shakers wouldn't call her clean a bit,
replied Eyebright. They'd never eat off her floor, she says.
Shall we really have to eat off a floor? inquired Bessie,
Oh, no. That's only a way of saying very clean indeed! explained
All was expectation from that time onward till Friday came. The
children were afraid it might rain, and watched the clouds anxiously.
Thursday evening brought a thunder-storm, and many were the groans and
sighs; but next morning dawned fresh and fair, with clear sunshine, and
dust thoroughly laid on the roads, so that every thing seemed to smile
on the excursion. There was but one discord in the general joy, which
was that poor little Washington Wheeler must be left behind, with his
measles and his disappointment. Eyebright felt so sorry for him that
she told Wealthy she was afraid she shouldn't enjoy herself; but bless
her! no sooner were they fairly off, than she forgot Washington and
every thing else, except the nice time they were having; and neither
she nor any one beside noticed the very red and very tear-stained
little face, pressed against the pane of the upper window of Mr.
Wheeler's house, to watch the big wagon roll through the village.
Such a big wagon, and packed so very full! There were twenty-three
of them, including Miss Fitch, and Ben, the driver, and how they all
got in is a mystery to this day. The big girls held the little ones in
their laps, the boys were squeezed into the bottom, which was made soft
with straw, and somehow every body did have a place, though how, I
can't explain. The road was new to them after the first two or three
miles, and a new road is always exciting, especially when, as this did,
it winds and turns, now in the woods, and now out, now sunshiny, and
now shady, and does not give you many chances to look ahead and see
what you are coming to. They passed several farmhouses, where boys whom
they had never seen before ran out and raised a shout at the sight of
the wagon and its merry load. A horse in a field, who looked like a
very tame, good-natured horse indeed, took a fancy to them, and trotted
alongside till stopped by a fence. Then he flung up his head and
whinnied, as if calling them to come back, which made the children
laugh. Soon after that they reached a bit of woodland, where trees
arched over the road and made it cool and shady, and there they saw a
squirrel, running just ahead of the wagon over the pine needles. He did
not seem to notice them at first, but the boys whooped and hurrahed,
and then he was off in a minute, flashing up a tree-trunk like a
streak of striped lightning. This was delightful; and no less so a
flight of crows which passed overhead, cawing, and flying so low that
the children could see every feather in their bodies, which shone in
the sun like burnished green-black jet, and the glancing of their
Going to steal from some farmer's wheat-crop, said Miss Fitch, and
she repeated these verses about a crow, which amused the children
Where are you bound to, you sooty-black crow?
What is that noise which you make as you go?
You are a sad wicked thief, as I know,
Held by no honesty, keeping no law
What do you say, sir? The crow he said
Corn is still green, oh, you naughty, bad crow,
Wheat is not ripe in the meadow below.
What is your errand? I think it is low
Thus to be stuffing and cramming your maw,
Robbing the farmers! The crow he said
Bring me my gun. Now you sinful old crow,
Right at your back I take aim as you go.
You are a thief and the honest man's foe!
Therefore I shoot you. Click! Bang!but, oh pshaw!
Off flew the crow, and he laughed and said
By the time that the children had done giggling over the
crow-rhymes, the Shaker village was in sight, looking, against its
back-ground of green trees, like a group of nice yellow cheeses,only
the cheeses were not round. All the buildings were cream-colored, and
seemed freshly painted, they were so very clean. The windows had no
shutters, but inside some of them hung blue paper shades to keep out
the sun. Every thing looked thrifty and in excellent order. The orchard
trees were heavy with half-grown apples and pears; the grass fields had
been newly cut, and nothing could be imagined neater than the vegetable
gardens which lay on one side of the houses. All the green things stood
in precise straight rows,every beet, and carrot, and cucumber with
his hands in his own pocket, so to speak; none of that reaching about
and intruding on neighboring premises which most vegetables indulge in;
but every one at home, with a sedate air, and minding his own business.
Not a single squash-vine could be detected tickling another
squash-vine; each watermelon lay in the middle of his hill with a
solemn expression on his large face; the tomatoes looked ashamed of
being red; and only a suit of drab apiece seemed wanting, to make the
pumpkins as respectably grave as the other members of the community.
Two small boys, in wide-brimmed hats and legs of discreet tint, were
weeding these decorous vegetables. They raised their heads and took one
good stare as the big wagon rattled past, then they lowered them again,
and went on with their work, laying the pig-weeds, which they pulled
out of the ground, in neat little piles along the garden walk.
At the door of the principal building, a stout, butternut-colored
Elder stood waiting, as if to learn their business.
We have driven over to see your village, said Miss Fitch, in her
pleasant voice, and we should like dinner, if you can give it to us.
Yea, said the Elder. He pronounced the word as if it were spelled
ye. That was all he said; but he helped the children to get down from
the wagon, and led the way through a very clean, bare passage to a room
equally clean and bare, where four women in drab gowns with wide
collars and stiff white caps were sitting, each on a little platform by
herself, darning stockings, with a basket of mending beside her.
One of these introduced herself to Miss Fitch as Sister Samantha.
She had a round, comfortable face, and the boys and girls, who had felt
an awe of the grave Elder, recovered courage as they looked at her. She
said they could go round if they wanted to, and called a younger
sister named Dorcas to show them the way.
Sister Dorcas had a pale, rather dissatisfied face. She did not seem
so happy as Sister Samantha. She showed the children all that there was
to see, but she said very little and took no pains to explain any
thing, or to make the visit pleasant. They saw the bedrooms where the
sisters slept, and the bedrooms where the brothers slept, all exactly
alike, comfortable, plain, and unadorned, except for wonderful
patchwork quilts on the beds, and the gay pulled rugs on the floors.
They were shown the kitchen where the food for all the community was
cooked, a kitchen as clean and shining as the waxen cell of a bee, and
the storerooms, full of dried fruits and preserved fruits, honey,
cheeses, beeswax, wooden ware, brooms, herbs, and soap. There was an
office also, where these things were for sale to any one who should
choose to buy, and great consultations took place among the children,
who had almost all brought a little shopping money. Some chose
maple-sugar, some, silk-winders, some, little cakes of white wax for
use in work-baskets. Molly Prime had a sudden bright thought, which she
whispered about, and after much giggling and mysterious explanations in
corners, they clubbed together and got a work-basket for Miss Fitch. It
cost a dollar and a quarter, and was a great beauty, the children
thought. Miss Fitch was very much pleased with it, and that added to
their pleasure, so that the purchase of the work-basket was one of the
pleasantest events of the day. Eyebright spent what was left of her
money in buying a new mop-handle as a present for Wealthy, who wanted
one, she knew. She was a good deal laughed at by the other boys and
girls, but she didn't mind that a bit, and shouldering her mop-handle
as if it had been a flag-staff, followed with the rest wherever Sister
Dorcas chose to lead them.
Sister Dorcas took them to see the big barns, sweet with freshly
made hay, and to the dairy and cheese-house, with white shelves laden
with pans of rich milk and curds, the very sight of which made the
children hungry. Next they peeped into the meeting-house for Sundays,
and then they were taken to the room where fruit was packed and sorted.
Here they found half-a-dozen young Shakeresses, busy in filling baskets
with blackberries for next day's market.
These Shaker girls pleased the children very much; they looked so
fresh and prim and pretty in their sober costume, and so cheerful and
smiling. Eyebright fell in love at once with the youngest and
prettiest, a girl only two or three years older than herself. She
managed to get close to her, and, under pretence of helping with the
blackberries, drew her a little to one side, where they could talk
without being overheard.
Do you like to live here? she asked confidentially, as their
fingers met in the blackberry basket.
Yea, said the little Shakeress, glancing round shyly. Then as she
saw that nobody was noticing them, she became more communicative.
I like itpretty well, she said. But I guess I shan't stay here
Won't you? What will you do then? Where will you go?
I don't know yet; but Ruth Berguinshe is my sister in the
fleshwas once of this family, and she left, and went back to the
world's people and got married. She lives up in Canada now, and has got
two babies. She came for a visit once, and fetched one of them. Sister
Samantha felt real badly when Ruth went, but she liked the baby ever so
much. I mean to go back to the world's people too, some day.
Oh my! perhaps you will get married, suggested Eyebright,
greatly excited at the idea.
Perhaps I shall, answered the small Shakeress with unmoved
Then she told Eyebright that her name was Jane, and she was an
orphan, and that she and sister Orphah, whom she pointed out, slept
together in one of the bedrooms which the children had seen upstairs,
and had very good times after the lights were out, whispering to each
other and planning what they would do when they were old enough to do
any thing. Sister Orphah, too, had a scheme for returning to the
world's peopleperhaps they might go together. The idea of these good
times rather tickled Eyebright's imagination. For a few minutes she
reflected that perhaps it might be a pleasant thing to come and join
the Shakers. She and sister Jane grew intimate so fast, and chattered
so merrily, that Bessie became jealous and drew near to hear what they
were saying, and presently one of the elder Shakeresses joined them,
and gently sent Jane away on an errand. Eyebright's chance for
confidences was over: but she had made the most of it while it lasted,
and that is always a comfort.
By the time that they had finished the round of the premises dinner
was ready,welcome news; for the children were all very hungry. It was
spread in an enormous dining-room on two long tables. The men Shakers
sat at one table, and the women Shakers at the other. Miss Fitch and
her scholars were placed with the latter, and some of the young sisters
waited on them very neatly and quietly. Sister Jane was one of these
and she took especial care of Eyebright whom she seemed to regard as a
friend of her own. No one spoke at either table except to ask for
something or to say thank you; but to make up for this silence, a
prodigious amount of eating was done. No wonder, for the dinner was
excellent, the very best dinner, the children thought, that they had
ever tasted. There was no fresh meat, but capital pork and beans,
vegetables of all kinds, delicious Indian pudding, flooded with thick,
yellow cream, brown bread and white, rusk, graham gems, oat-meal and
grits, with the best of butter, apple-sauce, maple-molasses, and plenty
of the richest milk. Every thing was of the nicest material, and as
daintily clean as if intended for a queen. Miss Fitch praised the food,
and Sister Samantha, who looked pleased, said they tried to do things
thoroughly, as to the Lord. Miss Fitch said afterward that she
thought this was an admirable idea, and she wished more people would
try it, because then there would be less bad cooking in the world, and
less saleratus and dyspepsia. She said that to be faithful and thorough
in every thing, even in getting dinner ready, was a real way of serving
God, and pleased Him too, because He looks beyond things, and sees the
spirit in which we do them.
At three o'clock the wagon came to the door, and they said good-by
to the kind Shakers. Miss Fitch paid for the dinner; but the elder was
not willing to take much. They entertained the poor for nothing, he
said. A small compensation from those who were able and willing to pay,
did not come amiss, but a dinner for boys and girls like those, he
guessed, didn't amount to much. Miss Fitch privately doubted this. It
seemed to her that a regiment of grown men could hardly have devoured
more in the same space of time than her hungry twenty-one; but she was
grateful to the elder for his kindness, and told him so. Eyebright
parted from Sister Jane with a kiss, and gave her, by way of keepsake,
the only thing she had,a china doll about two inches long, which
chanced to be at the bottom of her pocket. It was a droll gift to make
to a solemn little Shakeress in drab; but Jane was pleased, and said
she should always keep it. Then they were packed into the wagon again,
and with many good-bys they drove away, kissing their hands to the
sisters at the door, and carrying with them a sense of cleanliness,
hospitality, and quiet peace, which would make them for ever friendly
to the name of Shaker.
The drive home was as pleasant as that of the morning had been. The
children were not at all tired, and in the most riotous spirits. They
hurrahed every five minutes. They made jokes and guessed riddles, and
sang choruses,Tranquidillo was one; We'll bear the storm,
it won't be long, another; and Ubidee, which Herman Bury had picked
up from a cousin in college, and which they all thought grand. Past the
farmhouses they went, past the tree where the squirrel had curled
himself to sleep, and the fields from which the thievish crows had
flown. They stopped a minute at Mr. Wheeler's to leave some maple-sugar
for Washington,not the best diet for measles, perhaps, but pleasant
as a proof of kind feeling, and then, one by one, they were dropped at
the doors of their own homes.
Well! said Wealthy, eying her mop-handle with great satisfaction.
That's what I call sensible. I expected you'd spend your money on some
pesky gimcrack or other. I never thought 't would be a handy thing like
this, and I am obliged to you for it, Eyebright. Now run up and see
your ma. She was asking after you a while ago.
CHAPTER V. HOW THE BLACK DOG HAD HIS
You've got the black dog on your shoulder, this morning; that's
what's the matter with you, said Wealthy.
This metaphorical black dog meant a bad humor. Eyebright had waked
up cross and irritable. What made her wake up cross I am not wise
enough to explain. The old-fashioned doctors would probably have
ascribed it to indigestion, the new-fashioned ones to nerves or malaria
or a febrile tendency; Deacon Bury, I think, would have called it
Original Sin, and Wealthy, who did not mince matters, dubbed it an
attack of the Old Scratch, which nothing but a sound shaking could
cure. Very likely all these guesses were partly right and all partly
wrong. When our bodies get out of order, our souls are apt to become
disordered too, and at such times there always seem to be little imps
of evil lurking near, ready to seize the chance, rush in, fan the small
embers of discontent to a flame, make cross days crosser, and turn bad
beginnings into worse endings.
The morning's mischances had begun with Eyebright's being late to
breakfast;a thing which always annoyed her father very much. Knowing
this, she made as much haste as possible, and ran downstairs with her
boots half buttoned, fastening her apron as she went. She was in too
great a hurry to look where she was going, and the result was that
presently she tripped and fell, bumping her head and tearing the skirt
of her frock half across. This was bad luck indeed, for Wealthy, she
knew, would make her darn it as a punishment, and that meant at least
an hour's hard work indoors on one of the loveliest days that ever
shone. She picked herself up and went into the sitting-room, pouting,
and by no means disposed to enjoy the lecture on punctuality, which
papa made haste to give, and which was rather longer and sharper than
it would otherwise have been, because Eyebright looked so very sulky
and obstinate while listening to it.
You will all be shocked at this account, but I am not sorry to show
Eyebright to you on one of her naughty days. All of us have such days
sometimes, and to represent her as possessing no faults would be to put
her at a distance from all of you; in fact, I should not like her so
well myself. She has been pretty good, so far, in this story; but she
was by no means perfect, for which let us be thankful; because a
perfect child would be an unnatural thing, whom none of us could quite
believe in or understand! Eyebright was a dear little girl, and for all
her occasional naughtiness, had plenty of lovable qualities about her;
and I am glad to say she was not often so naughty as on this day.
When a morning begins in this way, every thing seems to go wrong
with us, as if on purpose. It was so with Eyebright. Her mother, who
was very poorly, found fault with her breakfast. She wanted some hotter
tea, and a slice of toast a little browner and cut very thin. These
were simple requests, and on any other day Eyebright would have danced
off gleefully to fulfil them. To-day she was annoyed at having to go,
and moved slowly and reluctantly. She did not say that she felt waiting
on her mother to be a trouble, but her face, and the expression of her
shoulders, and her dull, dawdling movements said it for her; and poor
Mrs. Bright, who was not used to such unwillingness on the part of her
little daughter, felt it so much that she shed a few tears over the
second cup of tea after it was brought. This dismayed Eyebright, but it
also exasperated her. She would not take any notice, but stood by in
silence till her mother had finished, and then, without a word, carried
the tray downstairs. A sort of double mood was upon her. Down below the
anger was a feeling of keen remorse for what she had done, and a voice
inside seemed to say: Oh dear, how sorry I am going to be for this by
and by! But she would not let herself be sorry then, and stifled the
voice by saying, half aloud, as she went along: I don't care. It's too
bad of mother. I wish she wouldn't.
Wealthy met her at the stair-foot.
How long you've been! she said, taking the tray from her.
I can't be any quicker when I have to keep going for more things,
Nobody said you could, retorted Wealthy, speaking crossly herself,
because Eyebright's tone was cross. Mercy on me! How did you tear your
frock like that? You'll have to darn it yourself, you know; that's the
rule. Fetch your work-box as soon as you've done the cups and saucers.
Eyebright almost replied I won't, but she did not quite dare, and
walked, without speaking, into the sitting-room, where the table was
made ready for dish-washing, with a tub of hot water, towels, a bit of
soap, and a little mop. Since vacation began, Wealthy had allowed her
to wash the breakfast things on Mondays and Tuesdays, days on which she
herself was particularly busy.
Ordinarily, Eyebright was very proud to be trusted with this little
job. She worked carefully and nicely, and had proved herself capable,
but to-day her fingers seemed all thumbs. She set the cups away without
drying the bottoms, so that they made wet rings on the shelves; she
only half rinsed the teapot, left a bit of soap in its spout, and ended
by breaking a saucer. Wealthy scolded her, she retorted, and then
Wealthy made the speech, which I have quoted, about the black dog.
Very slowly and unwillingly Eyebright sat down to darn her frock. It
was a long, jagged rent, requiring patience and careful slowness, and
neither good-will nor patience had Eyebright to bring to the task. Her
fingers twitched, she pshawed, and oh deared, ran the needle in and
out and in irregularly, jerked the thread, and finally gave a fretful
pull when she came to the end of the first needleful, which tore a
fresh hole in the stuff and puckered all she had darned, so that it was
not fit to be seen. Wealthy looked in just then, and was scandalized at
the condition of the work.
You can just pick it out from the beginning, she said. It's a
burning shame that a great girl like you shouldn't know how to do
better. But it's temperthat's what it is. Nothing in the world but
temper, Eyebright. You've been as cross as two sticks all day, Massy
knows for what, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself, whereon she
gave Eyebright a little shake.
The shake was like a match applied to gunpowder. Eyebright flamed
into open revolt.
Wealthy Ann Judson! she cried, angrily. Let me alone. It's all
your fault if I am cross, you treat me so. I won't pick it out. I won't
darn it at all. And I shall just tell my father that you shook me; see
if I don't.
Wealthy's reply was a sound box on the ear. Eyebright's naughtiness
certainly deserved punishment, but it was hardly wise or right of
Wealthy to administer it, or to do it thus. She was far too angry to
think of that, however.
That's what you want, said Wealthy, and you'd be a better girl if
you got it oftener. Then she marched out of the room, leaving
Eyebright in a fury.
I won't bear it! I won't bear it! she exclaimed, bursting into
tears. Everybody is cruel, cruel! I'll run away! I'll not stay in this
house another minutenot another minute, and, catching up her
sun-bonnet, she darted through the hall and was out of the gate and
down the street in a flash. Wealthy was in the kitchen, her father was
out, no one saw her go. Rosy and Tom Bury, who were swinging on their
gate, called to her as she passed, but their gay voices jarred on her
ear, and she paid no attention to the call.
Tunxet village was built upon a sloping hill whose top was crowned
with woods. To reach these woods, Eyebright had only to climb two stone
walls and cross a field and a pasture, and as they seemed just then the
most desirable refuge possible, she made haste to do so. She had always
had a peculiar feeling for woods, a feeling made up of terror and
attraction. They were associated in her mind with fairies and with
robbers, with lost children, redbreasts, Robin Hood and his merry men;
and she was by turns eager and shy at the idea of exploring their
depths, according to which of these images happened to be uppermost in
her ideas. To-day she thought neither of Robin Hood nor the fairies.
The wood was only a place where she could hide away and cry and be
unseen, and she plunged in without a thought of fear.
In and in she went, over stones and beds of moss, and regiments of
tall brakes, which bowed and rose as she forced her way past their
stems, and saluted her with wafts of woodsy fragrance, half bitter,
half sweet, but altogether pleasant. There was something soothing in
the shade and cool quiet of the place. It fell like dew on her hot
mood, and presently her anger changed to grief, she knew not why. Her
eyes filled with tears. She sat down on a stone all brown with soft
mosses, and began to cry, softly at first, then loudly and more loud,
not taking any pains to cry quietly, but with hard sobs and great gulps
which echoed back in an odd way from the wood. It seemed a relief at
first to make as much noise as she liked with her crying, and to know
that there was no one to hear or be annoyed. It was pleasant, too, to
be able to talk out loud as well as to cry.
They are so unkind to me, she wailed, so very unkind.
Wealthy never slapped me before. She has no right to slap me. I'll
never kiss Wealthy again,never. O-h, she was so unkind
O-h! echoed back the wood in a hollow tone. Eyebright jumped.
It's like a voice, she thought. I'll go somewhere else. It isn't
nice just here. I don't like it.
So she went back a little way to the edge of the forest, where the
trees were less thick, and between their stems she could see the
village below. Here she felt safer than she had been when in the thick
wood. She threw herself down in a comfortable hollow at the foot of an
oak, and, half sitting, half lying, began to think over her wrongs.
I guess if I was dead they'd be sorry, she reflected. They'd hunt
and hunt for me, and not know where I was. And at last they'd come up
here, and find me dead, with a tear on my cheek, and then they'd know
how badly they had made me feel, and their hearts would nearly break. I
don't believe father would ever smile again. He'd be like the king in
the 'Second Reader':
'But waves went o'er his son's bright hair,
He never smiled again.'
Only, I'm a daughter, and it would be leaves and not waves! Mother,
she'd cry and cry, and as for that old Wealthybut Eyebright felt it
difficult to imagine what Wealthy would do under these circumstances.
Her thoughts drifted another way.
I might go into a convent instead. That would be better, I guess.
I'd be a novice first, with a white veil and a cross and a rosary, and
I'd look so sweet and holy that all the other children,no, there
wouldn't be any other children,never mind!I'd be lovely, anyhow.
But I'd be a Protestant always! I wouldn't want to be a Catholic and
have to kiss the Pope's old toe all the time! Then by and by I should
take that awful black veil. Then I could never come out any morenot
ever! And I should kneel in the chapel all the time as motionless as a
marble figure. That would be beautiful. Eyebright had never been able
to sit still for half an hour together in her life, but that made no
difference in her enjoyment of this idea. The abbess will be
beautiful, too, but stern and unrelenting, and she'll say 'Daughters'
when she speaks to us nuns, and we shall say 'Holy Mother' when we
speak to her. It'll be real nice. We shan't have to do any darning, but
just embroidery in our cells and wax flowers. Wealthy'll want to come
in and see me, I know, but I shall just tell the porter that I don't
want her, not ever. 'She's a heretic,' I shall say to the porter, and
he'll lock the door the minute he sees her coming. Then she'll be mad!
The Abbess and Mère GénéfrideEyebright had just read for the
fourth time Mrs. Sherwood's exciting novel called The Nun, so her
imaginary convent was modelled exactly after the one there
describedthe abbess and Mère Généfride will always be spying
about and listening in the passage to hear what we say, when we sit in
our cells embroidering and telling secrets, but me and my Paulineno,
I won't call her PaulineRosalbasister Rosalbathat shall be her
namewe'll speak so low that she can't hear a word. Then we shall
suspect that something strange is taking place down in the cellar,I
mean the dungeons,and we'll steal down and listen when the abbess and
the bishop and all of them are trying the sister, who has a bible tied
on her leg! Here Eyebright gave an enormous yawn.
Andifthemobdoes comeWealthywill be sure tosure to
But of what we shall never know, for at this precise moment
Eyebright fell asleep.
[Illustration: ASLEEP IN THE WOODS.]
She must have slept a long time, for when she waked the sun had
changed his place in the sky, and was shining on the western side of
the village houses. Had some good angel passed by, lifted the black
dog from her shoulder, and swept from her mind all its foolish and
angry thoughts, while she dreamed there under the trees? For behold!
matters and things now looked differently to her, and, instead of
blaming other people and thinking hard things of them, she began to
How naughty I was, she thought, to be so cross with poor mamma,
just because she wanted another cup of tea! Oh dear, and I made her
cry! I know it was mejust because I looked so cross. How horrid I
always am! And I was cross to papa, too, and put my lip out at him. How
could I do so? What made me? Wealthy hadn't any business to slap me,
But then I was pretty ugly to Wealthy, she went on, her conscience
telling her the truth at last, as consciences will, if allowed. I just
tried to provoke herand I called her Wealthy Ann Judson! That always
makes her mad. She never slapped me before not since I was a little
mite of a girl. Oh, dear! And only yesterday she washed all Genevieve's
dolly thingsher blue muslin, and her overskirt, and alland she said
she didn't mind trouble when it was for my doll. She's very good to me
sometimes. Almost always she's good. Oh, I oughtn't to have spoken so
to WealthyI oughtn'tI oughtn't! And Eyebright began to cry afresh;
not angry tears this time, but bright, healthful drops of repentance,
which cleansed and refreshed her soul.
I'll go right home now and tell her I am sorry, she said,
impetuously; and, jumping from her seat, she ran straight down the hill
and across the field, eager to make her confession and to be forgiven.
Eyebright's fits of temper, big and little, usually ended in this way.
She had none of that dislike of asking pardon with which some persons
are afflicted. To her it was a reliefa thing to be met and gone
through with for the sake of the cheer, the blue-sky-in-the-heart,
which lay on the other side of it, and the peace which was sure to
follow, when once the forgive me was spoken.
In at the kitchen door she dashed. Wealthy, who was ironing, with a
worried frown on her brow, started and exclaimed at the sight of
Eyebright, and sat suddenly down on a chair. Before she could speak,
Eyebright's arms were round her neck.
I was real horrid and wicked this morning, she cried. Please
forgive me, Wealthy. I won't be so naughty againnot ever. Oh, don't,
don't! for, to her dismay, Wealthy, the grim, broke down and began to
cry. This was really dreadful. Eyebright stared a moment; then her own
eyes filled, and she cried, too.
What a fool I be! said Wealthy, dashing the drops from her eyes.
There, Eyebright, there! Hush, dear; we won't say any more about it.
And she kissed Eyebright, for perhaps the tenth time in her life.
Kisses were rare things, indeed, with Wealthy.
Where have you been? she asked presently. It's four o'clock and
after. Did you know that? Have you had any dinner?
No, but I don't want any, Wealthy. I've been in the woods on top of
the hill. I ran away and sat there, and I guess I fell asleep, said
Eyebright, hanging her head.
Well, your pa didn't come home to dinner, for a wonder; I reckon he
was kept to the mill; so we hadn't much cooked. I took your ma's up to
her; but I never let on that I didn't know where you was, for fear of
worrying her. She has worried a good lot any way. Here, let me brush
your hair a little, and then you'd better run upstairs and make her
mind easy. I'll have something for you to eat when you come down.
Eyebright's heart smote her afresh when she saw her mother's pale,
You've been out so long, she said. I asked Wealthy, and she said
she guessed you were playing somewhere, and didn't know how the time
went. I was afraid you felt sick, and she was keeping it from me. It is
so bad to have things kept from me; nothing annoys me so much. And you
didn't look well at breakfast. Are you sick, Eyebright?
No, mamma, not a bit. But I have been naughtyvery naughty indeed,
mamma; and I ran away.
Then she climbed up on the bed beside her mother, and told the story
of the morning, keeping nothing backall her hard feelings and anger
at everybody, and her thoughts about dying, and about becoming a nun.
Her mother held her hand very tight indeed when she reached this last
part of the confession. The idea of the wood, also, was terrible to the
poor lady. She declared that she shouldn't sleep a wink all night for
thinking about it.
It wasn't a dangerous wood at all, explained Eyebright. There
wasn't any thing there that could hurt me. Really there wasn't, mamma.
Nothing but trees, and stones, and ferns, and old tumbled-down trunks
covered with tiny-weeny mosses,all green and brown and red, and some
perfectly white,so pretty. I wish I had brought you some, mamma.
Woods are never safe, declared Mrs. Bright, what with snakes, and
tramps, and wildcats, and getting lost, and other dreadful things, I
hardly take up a paper without seeing something or other bad in it
which has happened in a wood. You must never go there alone again,
Eyebright. Promise me that you won't.
Eyebright promised. She petted and comforted her mother, kissing her
over and over again, as if to make up for the anxiety she had caused
her, and for the cross words and looks of the morning. The sad thing
is, that no one ever does make up. All the sweet words and kind acts of
a lifetime cannot undo the fact that onceone bad day far away behind
uswe were unkind and gave pain to some one whom we love. Even their
forgiveness cannot undo it. How I wish we could remember this always
before we say the words which we afterward are so sorry for, and thus
save our memories from the burden of a sad load of regret and
When Eyebright went downstairs, she found a white napkin, her
favorite mug filled with milk, a plateful of bread and butter and cold
lamb, and a large pickled peach, awaiting her on the kitchen table.
Wealthy hovered about as she took her seat, and seemed to have a
disposition to pat Eyebright's shoulder a good deal, and to stroke her
hair. Wealthy, too, had undergone the repentance which follows wrath.
Her morning, I imagine, had been even more unpleasant than Eyebright's,
for she had spent it over a hot ironing table, and had not had the
refreshment of running away into the woods.
It's so queer, said Eyebright, with her mouth full of bread and
butter. I didn't know I was hungry a bit, but I am as hungry as can
be. Every thing tastes so good, Wealthy.
That's right, replied Wealthy, who was a little upset, and tearful
still. A good appetite's a good thing,next best to a good
conscience, I think.
Eyebright's spirits were mounting as rapidly as quicksilver. Bessie
Mather appeared at the gate as she finished her last mouthful, and,
giving Wealthy a great hug, Eyebright ran out to meet her, with a
lightness and gayety of heart which surprised even herself. The blue
sky seemed bluer than ever before, the grass greener, the sunshine was
like yellow gold. Every little thing that happened made her laugh. It
was as though a black cloud had been rolled away from between her and
I wonder what makes me so particularly happy to-night, she
thought, as she sat on the steps waiting for papa, after Bessie was
gone. It's queer that I should, when I've been so naughtyand all.
But it was not queer, though Eyebright felt it so. The world never
looks so fair and bright as to eyes newly washed by tears of sorrow for
faults forgiven; and hearts which are emptied of unkind feelings grow
light at once, as if happiness were the rule of the world and not the
CHAPTER VI. CHANGES.
It happens now and then in life that small circumstances link
themselves on to great ones, and in this way become important, when
otherwise they might pass out of mind and be forgotten. Such was the
case with that day's naughtiness. Eyebright remembered it always, and
never without a sharp prick of pain, because of certain things that
followed soon afterward, and of which I must tell you in this chapter.
Miss Fitch's winter term opened on the 15th of September. The boys
and girls were not sorry to begin school, I think. They had played
themselves out during the long vacation, and it was rather a pleasant
change now to return to lessons and regular hours. Every thing seemed
new and interesting after three months' absence, the schoolhouse, the
Green, all the cubby-holes and hiding-places, just as shabby playthings
laid aside for a while come out looking quite fresh, and do not seem
like old ones at all. There was the beautiful autumn weather, beside,
making each moment of liberty doubly delightful. Day after day, week
after week, this perfect weather lasted, till it seemed as though the
skies had forgotten the trick of raining, or how to be of any color
except clear, dazzling blue. The wind blew softly and made lovely
little noises in the boughs, but there was a cool edge to its softness
now which added to the satisfaction of breathing it. The garden beds
were gay as ever, but trees began to show tips of crimson and orange,
and now and then a brown leaf floated gently down, as though to hint
that summer was over and the autumn really begun. Small drifts of these
brown leaves formed in the hollows of the road and about fence corners.
The boys and girls kicked them aside to get at the chestnut burs which
had fallen and mixed with them,spiky burs, half open, and showing the
glossy-brown nut within. It was a great apple-year, too, and the
orchards were laden with ripe fruit. Nearly all the Saturday afternoons
were spent by the children in apple-gathering or in nutting, and autumn
seemed to them as summer had seemed before autumn, spring before
summer, and winter in its turn before spring,the very pleasantest of
the four pleasant seasons of the year.
With so many things to do, and such a stock of health and spirits to
make doing delightful, it is not strange that for a long time Eyebright
remained unconscious of certain changes which were taking place at
home, and which older people saw plainly. It did cross her mind once or
twice that her mother seemed feebler than usual, and Wealthy and papa
worried and anxious, but the thought did not stay, being crowded out by
thoughts of a more agreeable kind. She had never in her life been
brought very close to any real trouble. Wealthy had spoken before her
of Mrs. So-and-so as being in affliction, and she had seen people
looking sad and wearing black clothes, but it was like something in a
book to her,a story she only half comprehended; though she vaguely
shrank from it, and did not wish to read further. With all her quick
imagination, she was not in the least morbid. Sorrow must come to her,
she would never take a step to meet it. So she went on, busy, healthy,
happy, full of bright plans and fun and merriment, till suddenly one
day sorrow came. For, running in from school, she found Wealthy crying
in the kitchen, and was told that her mother was worse,much
worse,and the doctor thought she could only live a day or two longer.
Oh, no, no, Wealthy, was all she could say at first. Then, Why
doesn't Dr. Pillsbury give mamma something? she demanded; for
Eyebright had learned to feel a great respect for medicine, and to
believe that it must be able to cure everybody.
Wealthy shook her head.
It ain't no use specylating about more medicines, she said, your
ma's taken shiploads of 'em, and they ain't never done her any good
that I can see. No, Eyebright dear; it's got to come, and we must make
the best of it. It's God's will I s'pose, and there ain't nothing to be
said when that's the case.
Oh, dear! how can God will any thing so dreadful? sobbed
Eyebright, feeling as if she were brought face to face with a great
puzzle. Wealthy could not answer. It was a puzzle to her, also. But she
took Eyebright into her lap, held her close, and stroked her hair
gently; and that helped, as love and tenderness always do.
Some very sad days followed. The doctor came and went. There was a
hush over the house. It seemed wrong to speak aloud even, and Eyebright
found herself moving on tiptoe, and shutting the doors with anxious
care; yet no one had said, Do not make a noise. Everybody seemed to
be waiting for something, but nobody liked to think what that something
might be. Eyebright did not think, but she felt miserable. A great
cloud seemed to hang over all her bright little world, so happy till
then. She moped about, with no heart to do any thing, or she sat in the
hall outside her mother's door, listening for sounds. Now and then they
let her creep in for a minute to look at mamma, who lay motionless as
if asleep; but Eyebright could not keep from crying, and after a little
while, papa would sign to her to go, and she would creep out again,
hushing her sobs till she was safely downstairs with the door shut. It
was such a melancholy time that I do not see how she could have got
through with it, had it not been for Genevieve, who, dumb as she was,
proved best comforter of all. With her face buried in the lap of
Genevieve's best frock, Eyebright might shed as many tears as she
liked, whispering in the waxen ear how much she wished that mamma could
get well, how good, how very good she always meant to be if she did,
and how sorry she was that she had ever been naughty or cross to her;
especially on that day, that dreadful day, when she ran off into the
woods, the recollection of which rankled in her conscience like a
thorn, Genevieve listened sympathizingly, but not even her affection
could pull out the thorn, or make its prick any easier to bear.
I do not like to tell about sad things half so well as about happy
ones, so we will hurry over this part of the story. Mrs. Bright lived
only a week after that evening when Eyebright first realized that she
was so much worse. She waked up before she died, kissed Eyebright for
good-by, and said, My helpful little comfort. These sweet words were
the one thing which made it seem possible to live just then. All her
life long they came back to Eyebright like the sound of music, and when
the thought of her childish faults gave her pain, these words, which
carried full forgiveness of the faults, soothed and consoled her. After
a while, as she grew older, she learned to feel that mamma in heaven
knew much better than mamma on earth could, how much her little
daughter really had loved her, and how it grieved her now to remember
that ever she should have been impatient or unkind.
But this was not for a long time afterward, and meanwhile her chief
pleasure was in remembering, that, for all her naughtiness, mamma had
kissed her and called her a comfort before she died.
After the funeral, Wealthy opened the blinds, which had been kept
tight shut till then, and life returned to its usual course. Breakfast,
dinner, and supper appeared regularly on the table, papa went again to
to the mill, and Eyebright to school. She felt shy and strange at
first, and the children were shy of her, because of her black alpaca
frock, which impressed their imaginations a good deal. This wore off as
the frock wore out, and by the time that Eyebright had ripped out half
the gathers of the waist and torn a hole in the sleeve, which was
pretty soon, the alpaca lost its awfulness in their eyes, and had
become as any common dress. In the course of a week or two, Eyebright
found herself studying, playing, and walking at recess with Bessie,
quite in the old way. But all the while she was conscious of a change,
and a feeling which she fought with, but could not get rid of, that
things were not, nor ever could be, as they had been before this
Home was changed and her father was changed. Eyebright was no longer
careless or unobservant, as before her mother's death, and she noticed
how fast papa's hair was turning gray, and how deep and careworn the
lines about his mouth and eyes had become. He did not seem to gain in
cheerfulness as time went on, but, if any thing, to look more sad and
troubled; and he spent much of his time at the cherry-wood desk
calculating and doing sums and poring over account-books. Eyebright
noticed all these little things, she had learned to use her eyes now,
and though nobody said any thing about it, she felt sure that papa was
worried about something, and in need of comfort.
She used to come early from play, and peep into the sitting-room to
see what he was doing. If he seemed busy, she did not interrupt him,
but drew her low chair to his side and sat there quietly, with
Genevieve in her lap, and perhaps a book; not speaking, but now and
then stroking his knee or laying her cheek gently against it. All the
time she felt so sorry that she could not help papa. But I think she
did help, for papa liked to have her there, and the presence of a love
which asks no questions and is content with loving, is most soothing of
all, sometimes, to people who are in perplexity, and trying to see
their way out.
But none of Eyebright's strokes or pats or fond little ways could
drive the care away from her father's brow. His trouble was too heavy
for that. It was a kind of trouble which he could not very well explain
to a child; trouble about business and money,things which little
people do not understand; and matters were getting worse instead of
better. He was like a man in a thorny wood, who cannot see his way out,
and his mind was more confused and anxious than any one except himself
At last things came to such a pass that there was no choice left,
and he was forced to explain to Eyebright. It was April by that time.
He was at his desk as usual, and Eyebright, sitting near, had Genevieve
cuddled in her lap, and the Swiss Family Robinson open before her.
Now you're done, arn't you, papa! she cried, as he laid down his
pen. You won't write any more to-night, will you, but sit in the
rocking-chair and rest. She was jumping up to get the chair, when he
I'm not through yet, my dear. But I want to talk with you for a
O papa, how nice! May I sit on your knee while you talk?
Papa said yes, and she seated herself. He put his arm round her, and
for a while stroked her hair in silence. Eyebright looked up,
Yes, dear, I'll tell you presently. I'm trying to think how to
begin. It's something disagreeable, Eyebright,something which will
make you feel very bad, I'm afraid.
Oh dear! what is it? cried Eyebright, fearfully. Do tell me,
What should you say if I told you that we can't live here any
longer, but must go away?
Away from this house, do you mean, papa?
Yes, away from this house, and away from Tunxet, too.
Not away for always? said Eyebright, in an awe-struck tone. You
don't mean that, papa, do you? We couldn't live anywhere else for
always! giving a little gasp at the very idea.
I'm afraid that's what it's coming to, said Mr. Bright, sadly. I
don't see any other way to fix it I've lost all my money, Eyebright. It
is no use trying to explain it to a child like you, but that is the
case. All I had is gone, nearly. There's scarcely any thing left,not
enough to live on here, even if I owned this house, which I don't.
Not own their own house! This was incomprehensible. What could papa
But, papa, it's our house! she ventured timidly.
Papa made no answer, only stroked her hair again softly.
And the mill? Isn't the mill yours, papa? she went on.
No, dear, I never did own the mill. You were too little to
understand about the matter when I took up the business. It belongs to
a company; do you know what a 'company' means?and the company has
failed, so that the mill is theirs no longer. It's going to be sold at
auction soon. I was only a manager, and of course I lose my place. But
that isn't so much matter. The real trouble is that I've lost my own
property, too. We're poor people now, Eyebright. I've been calculating,
and I think by selling off every thing here I can just clear myself and
come out honest but that's all. There'll be almost nothing left.
Couldn't you get another mill to manage? asked Eyebright, in a
No, there is no other mill; and if there were, I shouldn't want to
take it. I'm too old to begin life over again in the place where I
started when I was a boy to work my way up. I have worked,
too,worked hard,and now I come out in the end not worth a cent. No,
Eyebright, I couldn't do it!
He set her down as he spoke, and began to walk the room with heavy,
unequal steps. The old floor creaked under his tread. There was
something very sad in the sound.
A child feels powerless in the presence of sudden misfortune.
Eyebright sat as if stunned, while her father walked to and fro.
Genevieve slipped from her lap and fell with a bump on the carpet, but
she paid no attention. Genevieve wasn't real to her just then; only a
doll. It was no matter whether she bumped her head or not.
Mr. Bright came back to his chair again.
I'll tell you what I've been thinking of, he said. I own a little
farm up in Maine. It's about the only thing I do own which hasn't got a
mortgage on it, or doesn't belong to some one else in one way or
another. It's a very small farm, but there's a house on it,some kind
of a house,and I think of moving up there to live. I don't know much
about the place, and I don't like the plan. It'll be lonely for you,
for the farm is on an island, it seems, and there's no one else living
there, no children for you to play with, and no school. These are
disadvantages; but, on the other hand, the climate is said to be good,
and I suppose I can raise enough up there for our living, and not run
into debt, which is the thing I care most for just now. So I've about
decided to try it. I'm sorry to break up your schooling, and to take
you away from here, where you like it so much; but it seems the only
way open. And if you could go cheerfully, my dear, and make the best of
things, it would be a great comfort to me. That's all I've got to say.
Eyebright's mind had been at work through this long sentence. Her
reply astonished her father not a little, it was so bright and eager.
What is the island in, papa? A lake?
No, not a lake. It's in the sea, but very near the coast. I think
there's some way of walking across at low tide, but I'm not sure.
I thinkI'm rather glad, said Eyebright slowly. I always did
want to live on an island and I never saw the sea. Don't feel badly,
papa, I guess we shall like it.
Mr. Bright was relieved; but he couldn't help shaking his head a
You must make up your mind to find it pretty lonesome, he said,
The Swiss Family Robinson didn't, replied Eyebright. But then,
she added, there were six of them. And there'll only be four of
If Eyebright had taken the news too calmly, Wealthy made up for it
by her wild and incredulous wrath when in turn it was broken to her.
Pity's sakes! she cried. Whatever is the man a-thinking about?
Carry you off to Maine, indeed, away from folks and church and every
thing civilized! He's crazy,that's what he is,as crazy as a loon!
Papa's not crazy. You mustn't say such things, Wealthy, replied
Eyebright, indignantly. He feels real badly about going. But we've got
to go. We've lost all our money, and we can't stay here.
A desert island, too! went on Wealthy, pursuing her own train of
reflection. Crocodiles and cannibals, I suppose! I've heard what a
God-forsaken place it is up there. Who's going to look after you, I'd
like to know?you, who never in your life remembered your rubber shoes
when it rained, or knew winter flannels from summer ones, or best
frocks from common? Words failed her.
Why, Wealthy, shan't you come with us? cried Eyebright, in a
I? No, indeed, and I shan't then! returned Wealthy. I'm not such
a fool as all that. Maine, indeed! Then, her heart melting at the
distress in Eyebright's face, she swooped upon her, squeezed her hard,
and said: What a cross-grained piece I be! Yes, Eyebright dear, I'll
go along. I'll go, no matter where it is. You shan't be trusted to that
Pa of yours if I can help it; and that's my last word in the matter.
Eyebright flew to papa with the joyful news that Wealthy was willing
to go with them. Mr. Bright looked dismayed.
It's out of the question, he replied. I can't afford it, for one
thing. The journey costs a good deal, and when she got there, Wealthy
would probably not like it, and would want to come back again, which
would be money thrown away. Beside, it is doubtful if we shall be able
to keep any regular help. No, Eyebright; we'd better not think of it,
even. You and I will start alone, and we'll get some woman there to
come and work when it's necessary. That'll be as much as I can manage.
Of course, when Wealthy found that there were objections, her wish
to go increased tenfold. She begged, and Eyebright pleaded, but papa
held to his decision. There was no helping it, but this difference in
opinion made the household very uncomfortable for a while. Wealthy felt
injured, and went about her work grimly, sighing conspicuously now and
then, or making dashes at Eyebright, kissing her furiously, shedding a
few tears, and then beginning work again, all in stony silence. Papa
shut himself up more closely than ever with his account-books, and
looked sadder every day; and Eyebright, though she strove to act as
peacemaker and keep a cheerful face, felt her heart heavy enough at
times, when she thought of what was at hand.
They were to start early in May, and she left school at once; for
there was much to be done in which she could help Wealthy, and the time
was but short for the doing of it all. The girls were sorry when they
heard that Eyebright was going away to live in Maine, and Bessie cried
one whole recess, and said she never expected to be happy again. Still,
the news did not make quite as much sensation as Eyebright had
expected, and she had a little sore feeling at her heart, as if the
others cared less about losing her than she should have cared had she
been in their place. This idea cost her some private tears; she
comforted herself by a poem which she called Fickleness, and which
It is wicked to be fickle,
And very, very unkind,
And I'd be ashamed
but no rhyme to fickle could she find except pickle, and it was so
hard to work that in, that she gave up writing the verses, and only
kept away from the girls for a few days. But for all Eyebright's
doubts, the girls did care, only Examination was coming on, and they
were too busy in learning the pieces they were to speak, and practising
for a writing prize which Miss Fitch had promised them, to realize just
then how sorry they were. It came afterward, when the Examination was
over, and Eyebright really gone; and it was a long timea year or two
at leastbefore any sort of festival or picnic could take place in
Tunxet without some child's saying, wistfully: I wish Eyebright was
here to go; don't you? Could Eyebright have known this, it would have
comforted her very much during those last weeks; but the pity is, we
can't know things beforehand in this world.
So, after all, her chief consolation was Genevieve, to whom she
could tell any thing without fear of making mischief or being
There's just one thing I'm glad about, she said to this chosen
confidante, and that is that it's an island. I never saw any islands,
neither did you, Genevieve; but I know they must be lovely. And I'm
glad it's in the sea, too. But, oh dear, my poor child, how will you
get along without any other dolls to play with? You'll be very lonely
sometimesvery lonely, indeedI'm afraid.
CHAPTER VII. BETWEEN THE OLD HOME AND
Wealthy, said Eyebright, I want to tell you something.
Wealthy was kneading bread, her arms rising and falling with a
strong, regular motion, like the piston of a steam-engine. She did not
even turn her head, but dusting a little flour on to the dough, went
straight on saying briefly,
I've been thinking, continued Eyebright, that when papa and I get
to the Island, perhaps some days there won't be anybody to do the
cooking but me, and it would be so nice if you would teach me a few
things,not hard ones, you know,little easy things. I know how to
toast now, and how to boil eggs, and make shortcake, and stew rhubarb,
but papa would get tired of those if he didn't have any thing else, I
You and your Pa'll go pretty hungry, I guess, if there's no one but
you to do the cooking, muttered Wealthy. Well, what would you like to
Is bread easy to make? I'd like to learn that.
You ain't hardly strong enough, said Wealthy, with a sigh, but she
set her bowl on a chair as she spoke, and proceeded to give Eyebright a
kneading lesson on the spot. It was much more fatiguing than Eyebright
had supposed it would be. Her back and arms ached for a long time
afterward, but Wealthy said she got the hang of it wonderfully for a
beginner, and this praise encouraged her to try again. Every Wednesday
and Saturday, after that, she made the bread, from the sifting of the
flour to the final wrap of the hot loaf in a brown towel, Wealthy only
helping a very little, and each time the task seemed to grow easier, so
that, before they went away, Eyebright felt that she had that lesson at
her fingers' ends. Wealthy taught her other things also,to broil a
beefsteak, and poach an egg, to make gingerbread and minute biscuit,
fry Indian pudding, and prepare and flavor the dip for soft toast.
All these lessons were good for her, and in more senses than one. Many
a heart-ache flew up the chimney and forgot to come down again, as she
leaned over her saucepans, stirring, tasting, and seasoning. Many a
hard thought about the girls and their not caring as they ought about
her going, slipped away, and came back brightened into good-humor, in
the excitement of watching the biscuits rise, or moulding them into
exact form and size. And how pleasant it was if Wealthy praised her, or
papa asked for a second helping of something and said it was good.
Meanwhile, the business of breaking up was going on. Wealthy, whose
ideas were of the systematic old-fashioned kind, began at the very top
of the house and came slowly down, clearing the rooms out in regular
order, scrubbing, sweeping, and leaving bare, chill cleanness behind
her. Part of the furniture was packed to go to the Island, but by far
the greater part was brought down to the lower floor, and stacked in
the best parlor, ready for an auction, which was to take place on the
last day but one. It was truly wonderful how many things the house
seemed to contain, and what queer articles made their appearance out of
obscure holes and corners, in the course of Wealthy's rummagings. There
were old fire-irons, old crockery, bundles of herbs, dried so long ago
that all taste and smell had departed, and no one now could guess which
was sage and which catnip; scrap-bundles, which made Eyebright sigh and
exclaim, Oh dear, what lots of dresses I would have made for
Genevieve, if only I had known we had these! There were boxes full of
useless things, screws without heads, and nails without points,
stopples which stopped nothing, bottles of medicine which had lost
their labels, and labels which had lost their bottles. Some former
inhabitant of the house had evidently been afflicted with mice, for six
mouse-traps were discovered, all of different patterns, all rusty, and
all calculated to discourage any mouse who ever nibbled cheese. There
were also three old bird-cages, in which, since the memory of man, no
bird had ever lived; a couple of fire-buckets of ancient black leather,
which Eyebright had seen hanging from a rafter all her life without
suspecting their use, and a gun of Revolutionary pattern which had lost
its lock. All these were to be sold, and so was the hay in the barn, as
also were the chickens and chicken-coops; even Brindle and old Charley.
The day before the auction, a man came and pasted labels with
numbers on them upon all the things. Eyebright found 24 stuck on the
side of her own special little stool, which papa had said she might
take to the Island, but which had been forgotten. She tore off the
label, and hid the stool in a closet, but it made her feel as if every
thing in the house was going to be sold whether or no, and she half
turned and looked over her shoulder at her own back, as if she feared
to find a number there also. Wealthy, who was piling the chairs
together by twos, laughed.
I guess they won't put you up to 'vandoo,' she said; or, if they
do, I'll be the first to bid. There, that's the last! I never did see
such a heap of rubbish as come out of that garret; your Ma, and your
Grandma, too, I reckon, never throwed away any thing in all their days.
Often and often I used to propose to clean out and kind of sort over
the things, but your Ma, she wouldn't ever let me. They was sure to
come in useful some day, she said; but that day never come,and there
they be, moth-and-rust-corrupted, sure enough! Well, 'tain't no use
layin' up treasures upon earth. We all find that out when we come to
clear up after fifty years' savin'.
Next morning proved fine and sunny, and great numbers of people came
to the auction. Some of them brought their dinners in pails, and stayed
all day, for auctions do not occur very often in the country, and are
great events when they do. Eyebright, who did not know exactly how to
dispose of herself, sat on the stairs, high up, where no one could see
her, and listened to the auctioneer's loud voice calling off the
numbers and bids. No. 17, one clock,who bids two dollars for the
clock? No. 18, lounge covered with calliker. I am offered seven-fifty
for the lounge covered with calliker. I am offered seven-fifty for the
lounge covered with calliker. Who bids eight? Thank you, Mr.
Browngoing at eightgone. And No. 17 was the kitchen clock, which
had told her the hour so many, many times; the lounge covered with
calliker was mother's lounge, on which she had so often lain. It
seemed very sad, somehow, that they should be goinggone.
Later in the day she saw, from the window, people driving away in
their wagons with their bargains piled in behind them, or set between
their knees,papa's shaving-glass, Wealthy's wash-tubs, the bedstead
from the best room. She could hardly keep from crying. It seemed as if
the pleasant past life in the old house were all broken up into little
bits, and going off in different directions in those wagons.
She was still at the window when Wealthy came up to search for her.
Eyebright's face was very sober, and there were traces of tears on her
Eyebright, where are you? Don't stay mopin' up here, 'tain't no
use. Come down and help me get tea. I've made a good fire in the
sittin'-room, and we'll all be the better for supper, I reckon.
Auctions is wearin' things, and always will be to the end of time. Your
Pa looks clean tuckered out.
Are all the people gone? asked Eyebright.
Yes, they have, and good riddance to them. It made me madder than
hops to hear 'em a-boastin' of the bargains they'd got. Mrs. Doolittle,
up to the corner, bid in that bureau from the keepin'-room chamber for
seven dollars. It was worth fifteen; the auction-man said so himself.
But to kind of match that, her daughter-in-law, she giv' thirty cents a
yard for that rag-carpet in your room, and it didn't cost but fifty
when it was new, and that was twelve years ago next November! So I
guess we come out pretty even with the Doolittle family, after all!
added Wealthy, with a dry chuckle.
Eyebright followed downstairs. The rooms looked bare and unhomelike
with only the few pieces of furniture left which Wealthy had bid in for
her private use; for Wealthy did not mean to live out any more, but
have a small house of her own, and support herself by tailorin'. She
had bought a couple of beds, a table, a few chairs, and some cooking
things, so it was possible, though not very comfortable, to spend one
night more in the house. Eyebright peeped into the empty parlor and
shut the door.
Don't let's open it again, she said. We'll make believe that
every thing is there still, just as it used to be, and then it won't
seem so dismal.
But in spite of make-believes, it would have been dismal enough
had they not been too busy to think how altered and forlorn the house
looked. One more day of hard work, and all was cleared out and made
clean. Wealthy followed with her broom and actually swept herself
out, as Eyebright said, brushing the last shreds and straws through
the door on to the steps, where the others stood waiting. Mr. Bright
locked the door. The key turned in the rusty lock with a sound like a
groan. Mr. Bright stood a moment without speaking; then he handed the
key to Wealthy, shook hands with her, and walked quickly away in the
direction of Mr. Bury's house, where he and Eyebright were to spend the
Wealthy was feeling badly over the loss of her old home; and
emotion, with her, always took the form of gruffness.
No need to set about kissing to-night, she said, as Eyebright held
up her face, I'm a-comin' round to see you off to-morrow.
Then she, too, stalked away. Eyebright looked after her for a little
while, then very slowly she opened the garden-gate, and went the round
of the place once more, saying good-by with her eyes to each well-known
object. The periwinkle bed was blue with flowers, the daffodils were
just opening their bright cups. Old maids, Wealthy had been used to
call them, because their ruffled edges were so neatly trimmed and
pinked. There was the apple-tree crotch, where, every summer since she
could remember, her swing had hung. There was her own little garden,
bare now and brown with the dead stalks of last year. How easy it would
be to make it pretty again if only they were going to stay! The cave
had fallen in, to be sure, and was only a hole in the ground, but a
cave is soon made. She could have another in no time if onlyhere
Eyebright checked herself, recollecting that if only did not help the
matter a bit, and, like a sensible child, she walked bravely away from
the garden and through the gateway. She paused one moment to look at
the sun, which was setting in a sky of clear yellow, over which little
crimson clouds drifted like a fleet of fairy boats. The orchards and
hedges were budding fast. Here and there a cherry-tree had already tied
on its white hood. The air was full of sweet prophetic smells.
Altogether, Tunxet was at its very prettiest and pleasantest, and, for
all her good resolutions, Eyebright gave way, and wept one little weep
at the thought that to-morrow she and papa must leave it all.
She dried her eyes soon, for she did not want papa to know she had
been crying, and followed to Mrs. Bury's, where Kitty and the children
were impatiently looking out for her, and every one gave her a hearty
But in spite of their kindness, and the fun of sleeping with Kitty
for the first time, it seemed grave and lonesome to be anywhere except
in the old place where she had always been, and Eyebright began to be
glad that she and papa were to go away so soon. The home feeling had
vanished from Tunxet, and the quicker they were off, the better, she
The next morning, they left, starting before six o'clock, for the
railroad was five miles away. Early as it was, several people were
there to say good-by,Bessie Mather, Laura Wheelwright,who hadn't
taken time even to wash her face,Wealthy, very gray and grim and
silent, and dear Miss Fitch, to whom Eyebright clung till the very end.
The last bag was put in, Mr. Bury kissed Eyebright and lifted her into
the wagon, where papa and Ben were already seated. Good-bys were
exchanged. Bessie, drowned in tears, climbed on the wheel for a last
hug, and was pulled down by some one. Ben gave a chirrup, the horses
began to move, and that was the end of dear old Tunxet. The last thing
Eyebright saw, as she turned for a final look, was Wealthy's grim, sad
face,poor Wealthy, who had lost most and felt sorriest of all, though
she said so little about it.
It was a mile or two before Eyebright could see any thing
distinctly. She sat with her head turned away, that papa might not
notice her wet eyes. But perhaps his own were a little misty, for he,
too, turned his head, and it was a long time before he spoke. The
beautiful morning and the rapid motion were helps to cheerfulness,
however, and before they reached the railroad station Mr. Bright had
begun to talk to Ben, and Eyebright to smile.
She had never travelled on a railroad before, and you can easily
imagine how surprising it all seemed to her. At first it frightened her
to go so fast, but that soon wore off, and all the rest was enjoyment.
Little things, which people used to railroads hardly notice, struck her
as strange and pleasant. When the magazine-boy chucked Ballou's Dollar
Monthly into her lap, she jumped, and said, Oh, thank you! and she
was quite overcome by the successive gifts, as she supposed, of a paper
of pop-corn, a paper of lozenges, and a prize package, containing six
envelopes, six sheets of note-paper, six pens, a wooden pen-handle and
a piece of jewelry,all for twenty-five cents!
Did he really give them to me? she asked papa, quite gasping at
the idea of such generosity.
Then the ice-water boy came along, with his frame of tumblers; she
had a delicious cold drink, and told papa she did think the railroad
was so kind, which made him laugh; and, as seeing him laugh brightened
her spirits, they journeyed on very cheerfully.
About noon, they changed cars, and presently after that Eyebright
became aware of a change in the air, a cool freshness and odor of salt
and weeds, which she had never smelt before, and liked amazingly. She
was just going to ask papa about it when the train made a sudden curve
and swept alongside a yellow beach, beyond which lay a great shining
expanse,gray and silvery and blue,over which dappled foamy waves
played and leaped, and large white birds were skimming and diving. She
drew a long breath of delight, and said, half to herself and half to
papa, That is the sea!
How did you know? asked he, smiling.
Oh, papa, it couldn't be any thing else. I knew it in a minute.
After that, they were close to the sea almost all the way. Eyebright
felt as if she could never be tired of watching the waves rise and
fall, or of breathing the air, which seemed to fill and satisfy her
like food though it made her hungry, too, and she was glad of the nice
luncheon which Mr. Bury had packed up for them. But even pleasant
things have a tiring side to them, and as night drew on, Eyebright
began to think she should be as glad of bed as she had been of dinner.
Her heavy head had been nodding for some time, and had finally
dropped upon papa's shoulder, when he roused her with a shake and
Wake up, Eyebright, wake up! Here we are.
At the Island? she asked, drowsily.
No, not at the Island yet. This is the steamboat.
To see a steamboat had always been one of Eyebright's chief wishes,
but she was too sleepy at that moment to realize that it was granted.
Her feet stumbled as papa guided her down the stair; she could not keep
her eyes open at all. The stewardessa colored womanlaughed when she
saw the half-awake little passenger; but she was very good-natured,
whipped off Eyebright's boots, hat, and jacket, in a twinkling, and
tucked her into a little berth, where in three minutes she was napping
like a dormouse. There was a great deal of whistling and screeching and
ringing of bells when the boat left her dock, heavy feet trampled over
the deck just above the berth, the water lapped and hissed; but not one
of these things did Eyebright hear, nor was she conscious of the
rock-ing motion of the waves. Straight through them all she slept; and
when at last she waked, the boat was no longer at sea, and there was
hardly any motion to be felt.
It was not yet six o'clock. The shut-up cabin was dark and close,
except for one ray of yellow sun, which straggled through a crack, and
lay across the carpet like a long finger. It flickered, and seemed to
beckon, as if it wanted to say, Get up, Eyebright, it is morning at
last; get up, and come out with me. She felt so rested and fresh that
the invitation was irresistible; and slipping from the berth, she put
on dress and boots, which were laid on a chair near by, tied the hat
over her unbrushed hair, and with her warm jacket in hand, stole out of
the cabin and ran lightly upstairs to the deck.
Then she gave a great start, and said, Oh! with mingled wonder and
surprise; for, instead of the ocean which she had expected to see, the
boat was steaming gently up a broad river. On either side was a bold,
wooded shore. The trees were leafless still, for this was much farther
north than Tunxet, but the rising sap had tinted their boughs with
lovely shades of yellow, soft red, and pink-brown, and there were
quantities of evergreens beside, so that the woods did not look cold or
bare. Every half mile or so the river made a bend and curved away in a
new direction. It was never possible to see far ahead, and, as the
steamer swept through the clear green and silver water, it continually
seemed that, a little farther on, the river came to end, and there was
no way out except to turn back. But always when the boat reached the
place where the end seemed to be, behold, a new reach of water, with
new banks and tree-crowned headlands, appeared, so that their progress
was a succession of surprises. Here and there were dots of islands too,
just big enough to afford standing-room to a dozen pines and hemlocks,
so closely crowded together that the trees next the edge almost seemed
to be holding fast by their companions while they leaned over to look
at their own faces in the water.
These tiny islets enchanted Eyebright. With each one they passed she
thought, Oh, I hope ours is just like that! never reflecting that
these were rather play islands than real ones, and that Genevieve was
the only member of the family likely to be comfortable in such limited
space as they afforded. She had the deck and the river to herself for
nearly an hour before any of the passengers appeared; when they did,
she remembered, with a blush, that her hair was still unbrushed, and
ran back to the cabin, when the stewardess made it tidy, and gave her a
basin of fresh water for her face and hands. She came back just in time
to meet papa, who was astonished at the color in her cheek and the
appetite she displayed at breakfast, which was served in a stuffy cabin
smelling of kerosene oil and bed-clothes, and calculated to discourage
any appetite not sharpened by early morning air.
Little did Eyebright care for the stuffy cabin. She found the boat
and all its appointments delightful; and when, after breakfast, the old
captain took her down to the engine-room and showed her the machinery,
she fairly skipped with pleasure. It was a sort of noisy fairy-land to
her imagination; all those wonderful cogs and wheels, and shining rods
and shafts, moving and working together so smoothly and so powerfully.
She was sorry enough when, at eleven o'clock, they left the boat, and
landed at a small hamlet, which seemed to have no name as yet, perhaps
because it was so very young. Eyebright asked a boy what they called
the town, but all he said in reply was, 'Tain't a teownand
something about a Teownship, which she didn't at all understand.
Here they had some dinner, and Mr. Bright hired a wagon to take them
'cross country to Scrapplehead, which was the village nearest to
Causey Island, as Eyebright now learned that their future home was
called. Cosy, papa pronounced it. The name pleased her greatly, and
she said to herself, for perhaps the five-hundredth time, I know
it is going to be nice.
It was twenty-two miles from the nameless village to Scrapplehead,
but it took all the afternoon to make the journey, for the roads were
rough and hilly, and fast going was impossible. Eyebright did not care
how slowly they went. Every step of the way was interesting to her,
full of fresh sights and sounds and smells. She had never seen such
woods as those which they passed through. They looked as if they might
have been planted about the time of the Deluge, so dense and massive
were their growths. Many of the trees were old and of immense size.
Some very large ones had fallen, and their trunks were thickly crusted
with fungi and long hair-like tresses of gray moss. Here and there were
cushions of green moss, so rich and luxuriant as to be the softest
sitting-places imaginable. Eyebright longed to get out and roll on
them; the moss seemed at least a yard deep. Once they passed an oddly
shaped broad track by the road-side, which the driver told them was the
foot-mark of a bear. This was exciting. And a little farther on, at the
fording of a shallow brook, he showed them where a deer had stopped to
drink the night before, and left the impression of his slender hoofs in
the wet clay.
It was as interesting as a story to be there, so near the haunts of
these wild creatures. Then, leaving the woods, they would come to wide
vistas of country, with pine-clad hills and slopes and beautiful
gleaming lakes. And twice from the top of an ascent they caught the
outlines of a bold mountain-range. A delicious air blew down from these
mountains, cool, crystal clear, and spiced with the balsamic smell of
hemlocks and firs and a hundred lovely wood-odors beside.
Oh, isn't Maine beautiful! cried Eyebright, in a rapture. She felt
a sort of resentment against Wealthy for having called it a
God-forsaken place. But Wealthy didn't know: she never was here,
was her final conclusion. If she ever had been here, she couldn't have
been so silly.
It was too dark to see much of Scrapplehead when at last they got
there. It was a small place, nestled in an angle of the hills. The
misty gray ocean lay beyond. Its voice came to their ears as they
descended the last steep pitch, a hushed low voice with a droning tone,
as though it were sleepy-time with the great sea. There was no tavern
in the village, and they applied at several houses before finding any
one willing to accommodate them. By this time, Eyebright was very
tired, and could hardly keep from crying as they drove away from the
What shall we do if nobody will take us in? she asked papa
dolefully. Shall we have to sit in the wagon all night?
Guess 't won't come to that, said the cheery driver. Downs'll
take you. I'll bet a cookie he will. When he came to Downs's, he
jumped out and ran in. They're real clever folks, he told Mrs. Downs;
and the little gal is so tired, it's a pity to see.
So Mrs. Downs consented to lodge them; and their troubles were over
for that day. Half blind with sleep and fatigue, Eyebright ate her
bread and milk, fried eggs, and doughnuts, fell asleep while she
undressed, gave her head a knock against the bedpost, laughed, hurried
into bed, and in three minutes was lost in dreamless slumber. The wind
blew softly up the bay, the waves sang their droning lullaby, a
half-grown moon came out, twinkled, and flashed in the flashing water,
and sent one long beam in to peep at the little sleeper in bed. The new
life was begun, and begun pleasantly.
CHAPTER VIII. CAUSEY ISLAND.
When Eyebright awoke next morning, she ran straight to the window,
with the hope that she might see Causey Island. But the window did not
look toward the sea. Only a barn, a bit of winding road, and a green
hill with a rocky top, were to be seen; and she dropped the paper shade
with a sense of disappointment.
Dressing herself as fast as she could, she ran downstairs. Mrs.
Downs, who was frying fish in the kitchen, pointed with a spoon in
answer to her question, and said,
It's up that way the island is, but 'taint much to look at. It's
too fur for you to see the house.
Eyebright didn't particularly care about seeing the house. She was
satisfied with seeing the island. There it lay, long and green, raised
high out of the blue sea like a wall, with the water washing its stony
shore. There seemed to be a good many trees and bushes on top, and
altogether she thought it a beautiful place, and one where a little
girl might be happy to live.
You ain't the folks that's coming to live up to the island, be
you? said Mrs. Downs. Do tell if you are? We heard there was some
one. There hain't been nobody there for quite a spell back, not since
the Lotts went away last year. Job Lott, he farmed it for a while; but
Miss Lott's father, he was took sick over to Machias, and they moved up
to look after him, and nobody's been there since, unless the boys for
blueberries. I guess your Pa'll find plenty to do to get things
straightened out, and so will the rest of you.
There isn't any 'rest' but me.
Do tell now. Hain't you any Ma?
No, said Eyebright, sadly. Mother died last November.
You poor little thing! cried kind Mrs. Downs; and hain't you got
no brothers and sisters either?
No; not any at all.
Why, you'll be lonesome, I'm afraid, up to the island. You never
lived in such a sort of a place before, did you?
Oh, no; we always lived in Tunxet. But I don't believe I shall be
lonesome. It looks real pretty from here. Why is it called Cosy Island,
Well, I'm sure I don't know. Folks always called it that. I never
thought to ask nobody. Perhaps he'll know when he comes in.
He was Mr. Downs; but he knew no more than his wife about the name
of the island. Mr. Bright, however, was better informed. He told them
that the name, in the first place, was Causeway, from the natural
path, uncovered at each low tide, which connected it with the shore,
and that this had gradually been changed to Causey, because it was
easier to pronounce. Eyebright was rather disappointed at this
I thought it was 'Cosy,' she said, because the island was cosey.
Mr. Downs gave a great laugh at this, but papa patted her head
kindly, and said,
We'll see if we can't make it so, Eyebright.
The tide would not serve for crossing the causeway till the
afternoon, but Mr. Downs offered to put them over in his boat without
waiting for that. It was arranged that they should come back for the
night, and Mrs. Downs packed some bread and cheese and doughnuts in a
basket to serve them as dinner. Eyebright took the basket on her arm,
and ran down to the shore in high spirits. It was a lovely day. The sea
was as blue as the sky, and, as the boat pushed off, little ripples
from the incoming tide struck the pebbly beach, with swift flashes of
white, like gleaming teeth, and a gay little splash, so like a laugh
that Eyebright laughed too, and showed her teeth.
What are you smiling at? asked her father.
I don't know, she answered, in a tone of dreamy enjoyment. I like
it here, papa.
Near as the island looked, it took quite a long time to reach it,
though Mr. Downs pulled strongly and steadily. It was very interesting,
as each stroke took them nearer and nearer, and showed more and more
distinctly what their future home was like. The trees, which at first
had seemed a solid green mass, became distinct shapes of pines,
hemlocks, and sumachs. A little farther, and openings appeared between
them, through which open spaces on top could be seen, bushes, a field,
and yes, actually! a little brown patch, which was a house. There it
was, and Eyebright held Genevieve up that she might see it, too.
That's our house, my child, she whispered. Aren't you glad? But
my! don't it look small?
It was small, smaller even than it looked, as they found, when,
after saying good-by to Mr. Downs, and getting directions for crossing
the Causey, they climbed the steep path which led to the top, and
came out close to the house. Mr. Bright gave a low whistle as he looked
at it, and Eyebright opened her eyes wide.
It's a comfort that we're not a large family, isn't it? she said,
quaintly. I'm almost glad now that Wealthy didn't come, papa. Wouldn't
she say it was little? Littler than Miss Fitch's schoolhouse, I do
The front door was fastened only by a large cobweb, left by some
industrious spider of last year, so it was easy to make their way in.
There was no entrance-hall. The door opened directly into a square
kitchen, from which opened two smaller rooms. One had shelves round it,
and seemed to be a sort of pantry or milk-room. As they went into the
other, a trickling sound met their ears, and they saw a slender stream
of clear spring water running into a stone sink. The sink never seemed
to get any fuller, but the water ran on and on, and there was no way to
stop it, as Eyebright found after a little examination.
Isn't that splendid? she cried. It just runs all the time, and we
shan't have to pump or any thing. I do like that so much! Then, as if
the sound made her thirsty, she held her head under the spout, and took
a good long drink.
Do taste it. It's the best water that ever was, she declared.
This spring-water, always at hand, was the only luxury which the
little house afforded. All the rest was bare and plain as could be.
Upstairs were two small chambers, but they were more like chicken-coops
than bedrooms; for the walls, made of laths not yet plastered, were
full of cracks and peep-holes, and the staircase which led to them
resembled a ladder more than was desirable. There was plenty of
sunshine everywhere, for there were no blinds, and the sweet yellow
light made a cheerfulness in the place, forlorn as it was. Eyebright
did not think it forlorn. She enjoyed it very much as though it had
been a new doll's-house, and danced about gleefully, planning where
this should go, and that; how papa's desk should have a corner by one
window, and her little chair by the other, and the big mahogany table,
which Wealthy had persuaded them to bring, by the wall. She showed a
good deal of cleverness and sense in their arrangement, and papa was
well content that things should be as she liked.
We must have the upstairs rooms plastered, I suppose, he said.
That'll require some time, I'm afraid. Plaster takes so long to dry.
We must arrange to wait at Mr. Downs's for a week or two, Eyebright.
He sighed as he spoke, and sat down on the door-step, his elbows on
his knees, his chin in his hands, looking tired and discouraged.
Oh, must we? cried Eyebright, her face falling. That won't be
nice a bit. Papa! I've got an idea. Don't plaster the walls. Let me fix
them. I'll make them real nice, just as nice as can be, if you will,
and then we shan't have to wait at all.
Why, what can you do with them? How do you mean? demanded her
Oh, papa, it's a secret, I'd rather not tell you. I'd rather have
it a surprise,mayn't I?
Papa demurred, but Eyebright coaxed and urged, and at last he
Well, I don't care about it one way or the other. Try your idea if
you like, Eyebright. It will amuse you perhaps, and any thing will do
for the summer. We can plaster in the fall.
I don't believe you'll want to, remarked Eyebright, shaking her
head mysteriously. My way is much prettier than plaster. Just you wait
and see, papa. I'm sure you'll like it.
But papa seemed down-hearted, and it was not easy to make him smile.
To tell the truth, the look of the farm was rather discouraging. He
kicked the earth over with his foot, and said the soil was poor and
every thing seemed run down. But Eyebright would not give in to this
view at all. It was a lovely place, she insisted, and she ran about
discovering new beauties and advantages every moment. Now it was a
thicket of wild roses just budding into leaf. Next a patch of
winter-green, with white starry blossoms and red berries. Then, peeping
over the bank, she called papa's attention to a strip of pebbly beach
on the side of the island next the sea.
Here's where we can take baths, she said. Why, I declare, here's
a path down to it. I guess the people who used to live here made it;
don't you? Oh, do come and see the beach, papa!
It was a rough little path which led to the beach, and overgrown
with weeds; but they made their way down without much trouble, and
Eyebright trampled the pebbles under foot with great satisfaction.
Isn't it splendid! she cried. See that great stone close to the
bank, papa. We can go behind there to dress and undress. It's a real
nice place. I'm going to call it the 'The Dressing-room.' How wide the
sea is on this side! And what is that long point of land, papa?
For the island lay within a broad curving bay. One end of the curve
projected only a little way, but toward the north a long, cape-like
tongue of land, with a bold, hilly outline, ran out to sea, and made a
striking feature in the landscape.
Those are the Guinness Hills, said Mr. Bright. Canada begins just
the other side of them. Do you see those specks of white on the point?
That is Malachi, and in the summer there is a steamboat once a week
from there to Portland. We can see it pass in clear weather, Mr. Downs
That will be nice, said Eyebright, comfortably. I'm glad we've
got a beach of our own, papa; aren't you? Now I want to look about some
To the left of the house the ground rose in a low knoll, whose top
was covered with sassafras bushes. This was the source of the spring
whose water ran into the back kitchen. They came upon it presently, and
could trace the line of spouts, each made of a small tree-trunk, halved
and hollowed out, which led it from the hill to the house. Following
these along, Eyebright made the discovery of a cubby,a veritable
cubby,left by some child in a choice and hidden corner formed by
three overlapping moosewood bushes. The furniture, except for a table
made of three shingles, consisted entirely of corn-cobs; but it was a
desirable cubby for all that, and would be a pleasant out-door parlor
for Genevieve on hot days, Eyebright thought. It made the island seem
much more home-like to know that other children had lived there and
played under the trees; and, cheered by this idea, she became so merry,
that gradually papa brightened, too, and began to make plans for his
farming operations with more heart than he had hitherto shown, deciding
where to plant corn and where potatoes, and where their little
vegetable garden would better be.
I suppose it's no use to try for fruit, he said; the climate is
Not too cold for blueberries, Eyebright replied. There are lots
of them, Mrs. Downs says, and lots of cranberries, and Mr. Downs's
brother has got an apple-tree.
An apple-tree! Dear! dear! Think of getting to a place where people
have only one apple-tree, muttered Mr. Bright.
By the time that they had made the circuit of the island it was
twelve o'clock. This was dinner-time, Eyebright declared, and she
produced the lunch-basket. Mrs. Downs's bread had yellow specks of
saleratus in it, and was very different from Wealthy's delicious
loaves; but they were too hungry to criticise, though Eyebright shook
her head over it, and thought with satisfaction of the big parcel of
yeast-powder which she and Wealthy had packed up. She knew exactly
where it was, in the corner of a certain red box, and that reminded her
to ask papa when the boxes would be likely to come.
They are due at this moment, he replied, I suppose we may look
for them at any time now. Mr. Downs says there have been head winds for
this week past, and I presume that has kept the sloop back. Perhaps she
may come to-day.
I do hope she will. I want dreadfully to begin and fix the house.
Doesn't it seem a great while since we left Tunxet, papa? I can't
believe that it is only three days, so much has happened.
The tide had been going out since eleven o'clock, and by four, when
they were ready to cross, the causeway was uncovered. It was a wide
pathway of sand, not flat and even all the way, but high in some places
and low in others, with shells and pebbles shining here and there on
its surface. It was like a beach, except for being narrower, and having
water on both sides of it, instead of on only one. The sand was still
wet enough to make good hard footing, and Eyebright skipped gayly over
it, declaring that she felt just like the children of Israel in the
middle of the Red Sea.
It is so strange to think that, just a little while ago, this was
all water, she said; and just a little while longer, and it will be
all water again. It is the most interesting thing we've got on our
island, I think, papa; but it makes me feel a little afraid, too.
There's nothing to be afraid of if you're only careful not to come
here except when the tide is going out, said her father. Now remember
this, Eyebright,you must never try to cross when the tide is rising,
even if the sand looks perfectly dry and the water seems a good way
off. The sea comes in very fast up here on these northern shores, and
if you made a misstep and sprained your ankle, or had an accident of
any kind, you might be drowned before any one could come to your help.
Remember, my child.
Yes, papa, I will, said Eyebright, looking rather nervously at the
water. It was slipping farther away every moment, and seemed the most
harmless thing in the world; but papa's words made her feel as if it
were a dangerous and deceitful creature which could not be trusted.
It was over a mile from the causeway to the village, though at first
sight the distance looked much less Plodding along the sandy shore was
slow work, so that they did not reach the village till nearly six. A
smell of frying met them as they entered the door. Mrs. Downs, wishing
to do them honor, was making blueberry flapjacks for tea. Did any of
you ever eat blueberry flapjacks? I imagine not, unless you have
summered on the coast of Maine. They are a kind of greasy pancake, in
which blueberries are stirred till the cakes are about the color of a
bruise. They are served swimming in melted butter and sugar, and in any
other place or air would be certain indigestion, if not sudden death,
to any person partaking of them. But, somehow, in that place and that
air they are not only harmless but seem quite delicious as well.
Eyebright thought so. She ate a great many flapjacks, thought them
extremely nice, and slept like a top afterward, with never a bad dream
to mar her rest.
A big gray sail at the wharf was the glad sight that met their eyes
when they came down next morning. The sloop had come in during the
night, with all Mr. Bright's goods on board. He had hoped that it might
be possible to land them on the island, but the captain said it was out
of the question; he couldn't get near enough, for one thing, and if he
could, he wouldn't; for how were heavy things like them to be dumped on
a shelvin' bank like that, he'd like to know? So the goods were landed
on the dock at Scrapplehead, and Mr. Downs undertook to find an ox-team
to draw them across the causeway at low tide.
Getting oxen was not an easy matter at that season of the year, but
Mr. Downs, who had taken a fancy to his lodgers, bestirred himself, and
at last found some one willing to let his yoke go in consideration of a
dollar and a quarter. So, at exact low tide, the great cart, piled with
boxes and barrels, creaked slowly across the sandy bar, Mr. Downs
driving, and papa walking behind with Eyebright, who was more than ever
reminded of the crossing of the Red Sea. It took much lugging and
straining and gee"-ing and haw"-ing to get the load up the steep bank
on the other side; but all arrived safely at last in front of the
house. There the cart was unloaded as fast as possible, a few things
set indoors, the rest left outside, and, getting into the cart, they
all drove back across the causeway. It was harder work than when they
came, for the tide was rising, and the sand had grown soft and
yielding. One great swirling wave ran up and curled around the oxen's
hoofs just as they reached firm ground, but, though Eyebright gave a
little scream, and Mr. Downs frowned and said, by gosh! no harm was
done, and the momentary fright only made pleasanter their drive to
Scrapplehead, which they reached just as the sun sank for the night
into a great soft-looking bed of purple and crimson clouds.
This was their last night with the Downs family. Early next morning
they started for the island in Mr. Downs's boat, taking with them their
last bundles and bags, and Mrs. Downs, who had kindly offered to give
them a day's help. Very helpful it proved, for there was every thing to
Mr. Bright, like all men, wanted to do every thing at once, and
Eyebright was too inexperienced to know what should come first and what
second; so Mrs. Downs's good sense and advice were of great value.
Under her directions the bedrooms were swept and cleaned, and the
bedsteads put together, first of all, for, as she said, You've got to
sleep, anyhow, and if you don't do it comfortable you'll be sick, and
that would never do. Next, while Eyebright swept the kitchen, she and
Mr. Bright got the stove into place, fixed the pipe, and lighted a
fire, after which Mrs. Downs scoured the pantry shelves, and unpacked
china and tins.
There, she said, surveying the result with great satisfaction.
That begins to look folksy. What's sewed up in that old comforter? A
rocking-cheer. Let's have it out!
So the rocking-chair was unsewed, and papa's desk and the big table
were unpacked; and as each familiar article came to view, Eyebright
felt as though an old friend were restored to her. She patted the arm
of her own little chair, and put the plaided cover from the old
sitting-room over the table, with a sense of cheer and comfort. She and
papa and Mrs. Downs dined on bread and cheese in the intervals of work,
and by five o'clock they were very fairly in order, and Mrs. Downs made
ready to go back to her own family. Eyebright walked with her as far as
the causeway, and parted with a hearty kiss. Mrs. Downs seemed like a
second Wealthy, almost, she had been so kind and thoughtful all that
Papa was sitting in the rocking-chair, by the stove, when she went
back. She stopped to kiss him as she passed, and proceeded to set the
table and get supper. Mrs. Downs had started them with a supply of
bread, butter, and milk; but the tea and sugar came out of one of the
Tunxet boxes, and so did the tumbler of currant-jam, opened in honor of
the occasion. Wealthy had made it, and it seemed to taste of the
pleasant old times. Eyebright did not care to think much about Wealthy
just then. The tide was drawing over the causeway, cutting them off
from everybody else in the world. She felt lonely and the least bit
afraid, in spite of papa's being there; and only keeping very busy till
bedtime saved her from homesickness, which she felt would be a bad
beginning, indeed, for that first evening in her new home.
Next morning was fair. All the days had been good so far, which was
fortunate, for a half-settled house is a dismal place enough in rainy
weather. Eyebright opened her eyes, and after one bewildered stare
began to laugh, for through the slats of her coop, she could
distinctly see papa, half-dressed, and brushing his hair in his, on the
other side of the entry. This was not to be endured, so after
breakfast, while he went to the village for some provisions, she set to
work with great energy on her plan for reforming the bedroom walls.
This was to cover them with picture papers. There was an abundance of
material for the purpose at hand, for her mother had taken Harper's
Bazar and Frank Leslie's Illustrated for several years; and as she
saved all the back numbers, a large pile had collected, which Wealthy
had carefully packed. These Eyebright sorted over, setting aside all
the pictures of cows, and statesmen, and steamboats, and railroad
trains for papa's room, and keeping the kittens, and dogs, and boys,
and girls, and babies for her own. She fastened the papers to the laths
with tacks, and the ceilings were so low that she was able to do all
but the very top row herself. That she was forced to leave for papa. So
hard did she work that the whole of his room was done before he
appeared, climbing the path, with a big bundle under one arm, a basket
in his hand, and looking very warm and tired.
It's a hard pull up the shore, he said, wiping his forehead. I
shall have to get a boat whether I can afford it or not, I'm afraid.
It'll be worse when hot weather comes, and there'll always be the need
of going over to the village for something or other.
A boat, cried Eyebright, clapping her hands Oh, papa, that would
be splendid. I can learn to row it my own self, can't I? It'll be as
nice as a carriage of our own,nicer, for we shan't have to catch the
horse, or feed him either. Now, papa, let me carry the basket, and oh,
do come quick. I want to show you how beautifully I have done your
Papa liked the bedroom very much. He was glad to be saved the
expense and delay of plastering, only he said he was afraid he should
always be late to breakfast, because he should want to lie in bed and
study his picture-gallery, which joke delighted Eyebright highly.
It was several days before she had time to attend to her own
papering, for there was a great deal else to do,boxes to unpack,
places to settle, and outside work to begin. Mr. Bright hired a man for
one week to plow and plant and split wood. After that, he thought he
could keep things in running order by himself. He had been brought up
on a farm, but years of disuse had made him stiff and awkward at such
labor, and he found the work harder than he had expected. Eyebright was
glad to see the big woodpile grow. It had a cosey look to her, and
gradually the house was beginning to look cosey too. The kitchen, with
its strip of carpet and easy-chairs and desk, made quite a comfortable
sitting-room. Eyebright kept a glass of wild roses or buttercups or
white daisies always on the table. She set up a garden of her own, too,
after a while, and raised some balsams and Johnny-jump-ups from seeds
which Mr. Downs gave her, and some golden-brown coreopsis. As for the
housekeeping, it fared better than could have been expected with only a
little girl of thirteen to look after things. Once a week, a woman came
from the village for the day (and half a dollar), did the washing and
part of the ironing, roasted a joint of meat if there was one to roast,
made a batch of pies, perhaps, or a pan of gingerbread, and scoured the
pots and pans and the kitchen floor. This lightened the work for the
next seven days, and left Eyebright only vegetables and little things
to cook, and the ordinary cleaning, bed-making, and dusting to do,
which she managed very well on the whole, though sometimes she got
extremely tired, and wished for Wealthy's strong hands to help her.
Milk and butter came from Mr. Downs's every other day, and papa was
very good and considerate about his food, and quite contented with a
dinner of potatoes or mush if nothing better was to be had, so the
little housekeeper did not have any heavy burden on her mind so far as
he was concerned.
The boat proved a great comfort when it came, which was not till
more than a month after their settlement on Causey Island. Eyebright
took regular rowing lessons and practised diligently, so that after a
few weeks she became really expert, and papa could trust her to go
alone as far as the village, when the weather was fair and the sea
smooth. These rows to and fro were the greatest treats and refreshments
after house-work. Sometimes it happened that her errands kept her till
sunset, and she floated home on the incoming tide, just dipping the
oars gently in now and then, and carried along by the current and a
singing wind, which followed close behind and pushed the boat on its
way. These were Eyebright's real play times. She kept a story going
about a princess and a boat, and some water-fairies and a water-prince,
and whenever the chance came for a solitary row, she acted it by
herself in the old pleasant way, always wishing that Bessie or some
other girl could be along to play it with her. Another girl,some one
to share work and fun, waking and sleeping, with her,that was all
which was wanted, she thought, to make Causey Island as pleasant as
CHAPTER IX. SHUT UP IN THE OVEN.
You will probably think that it was a dish of pork-and-beans, or an
Indian pudding of the good, old-fashioned kind, which was shut up in
the Oven. Not at all. You are quite mistaken. The thing shut up in the
Oven was Eyebright herself! And the Oven was quite different from any
thing you are thinking of,cold, not hot; wet, not dry; with a door
made of green sea-water instead of black iron. This sounds like a
conundrum; and, as that is hardly fair, I will proceed to unriddle it
at once and tell you all about it.
The Oven was a sort of cave or grotto in the cliffs, four miles from
Scrapplehead, but rather less than three from the causeway. Its real
name was The Devil's Oven. Country people, and Maine country people
above all others, are very fond of calling all sorts of strange and
striking places after the devil. If Eyebright had ever heard the whole
name, perhaps she might not have ventured to go there alone as she did,
in which case I should have no adventure to write about. But people
usually spoke of it for shortness' sake as the Oven, and she had no
idea that Satan had any thing to do with the place, nor, for that
matter, have I.
It was from Mrs. Downs that she first heard about the Oven. Mrs.
Downs had been there once, years before. It was a natteral curosity,
she said, with all sorts of strange sea-creatures growing in pools, and
the rocks were red and quite beautiful. It wasn't a dangerous place,
either, and here Mr. Downs confirmed her. You couldn't get in after
half-tide, but anybody could stay in for a week in ordinary weather,
and not be drowned. There were plenty of places a-top of the cave,
where you could sit and keep dry even at high water, though it would be
sort of poky, too. Eyebright's imagination was fired by this
description, and she besought papa to take her there at once. He
promised that he would some day, but the day seemed long in coming,
as holidays always do to busy people; and June passed, and July, and
still the Oven was unvisited, though Eyebright did not forget her wish
August came at last,the delicious north-of-Maine August, with hot,
brilliant noons, and cool, balmy nights, so different from the murky,
steamy August of everywhere else,and was half over, when one
afternoon papa came in with a piece of news.
What should you say, Eyebright, if I were to go off for the whole
day to-morrow? he asked.
Why, papa Bright, what do you mean? You can't! There isn't anywhere
to go to.
Oh, papa, not in our little boat!
No, in a schooner belonging to Mr. Downs's brother. It has just put
in with a load of lumber, and the captain has offered me a passage if I
like to go. He expects to get back to-morrow evening about nine
o'clock. Should you be lonesome, do you think, Eyebright, if I went?
Not a bit, cried Eyebright, delighted at the idea of papa's having
a sail. I'll do something or other that is pleasant. Perhaps I'll go
and stay all day with Mrs. Downs. Anyhow, I'll not be lonely. I'm glad
the captain asked you to go, papa. It'll be nice, I think.
But next morning, when she had given papa his early breakfast,
watched him across the causeway, and seen the sails of the schooner
diminish into two white specks in the distance, she was not sure that
it was nice. She sang at her dish-washing and clattered her cups and
spoons, to make as much noise as possible; but for all she could do,
the house felt silent and empty, and she missed papa very much. Her
plan had been to go to the village as soon as her work was done, and
make Mrs. Downs a visit, but later another idea popped into her mind.
She would go to the Oven instead.
I know about where it is, she thought. If I keep close to the
shore I can't miss it, anyway. Mr. Downs said it wasn't more than two
miles and three-quarters from the causeway. Two miles and
three-quarters isn't a very long walk. It won't be half-tide till after
ten. I can get there by a little after nine if I start at once. That'll
give me an hour to see the cave, and when I come back I'll go down to
the village and stay to dinner with Mrs. Downs. I'll take some bread
and butter, though, because one does get so hungry up here if you take
the least little walk. What a good idea it is to do this! I am glad
papa went to Malachi, after all.
Her preparations were soon made, and in ten minutes she was speeding
across the causeway, which was safe walking still, though the tide had
turned,her pocket full of bread and butter, and Genevieve in her
arms. She had hesitated whether or not to take Genevieve, but it seemed
too sad to leave her all alone on the island, so it ended in her going
too, in her best bonnet and a little blanket shawl. The morning was
most beautiful, dewy and fresh, and the path along the shore was
scented with freshly cut hay from inland fields, and with spicy
bayberry and sweet fern. A belated wild rose shone here and there in
the hedges, pale and pink. Tangles of curly, green-brown fringe lay
over the clustering Virgin's Bower. The blue lapping waves, as they
rose and fell, were full of sea-weeds of a lovely red-brown tint, and a
frolicsome wind played over the surface of the sea, and seemed to be
whispering something funny to it, for the water trembled in the sun and
dimpled as if with sudden laughter.
The way, as a general thing, lay close by the shore, winding over
the tops of low cliffs covered with dry yellow grasses. Now and then it
dipped down to strips of shingle beach, or skirted little coves with
boundaries of bushes and brambles edging the sand. Miles are not easy
to reckon when people are following the ins and outs of an irregular
coast. Half a dozen times Eyebright clambered to the water's edge and
peeped round the shoulder of a great rock, thinking that she must have
got to the cave at last. Yet nothing met her eyes but more rocks, and
surf, and fissures brown with rust and barnacles. At last, she came on
a group of children, playing in the sand, and stopped to ask the way of
There were two thin, brown little girls in pink-and-gray gingham
frocks, and pink-and-gray striped stockings appearing over the tops of
high, laced boots. They were exactly the same size, and made Eyebright
think of grasshoppers, they were so wiry and active, and sprang about
so nimbly. Then there were three rosy, hearty-looking country children,
and a pair of little boys, with sharp, delicately cut faces, who seemed
to be brothers, for they looked like each other and quite unlike the
rest. All seven were digging holes in the sand with sticks and shovels,
and were as much absorbed in their work as a party of diligent beavers.
When Eyebright appeared, with Genevieve in her arms, they stopped
digging and looked at her curiously.
Do you know how far the Oven is from here? asked Eyebright.
No, and What's the Oven? answered the children, and one of the
gray-and-pink little girls added: My, what a big doll! Eyebright
scarcely heeded these answers, she was so delighted to see some
children after her long fast from childhood.
What are you making? she asked.
A fort, replied one of the boys.
Now, Fweddy, you said you'd call it a castle, put in one of the
Well, castles are just the same things as forts. My mother said
Is that your mother sitting there? asked Eyebright catching a
glimpse of a woman and a baby under a tree not far off.
Oh, dear, no! That's Mrs. Waurigan. She's Jenny's mother, you know,
and 'Mandy's and Peter Paul Rubens's. She's not our mother at all. My
mother's name is Mrs. Brown, and my papa is Dr. Azariah P. Brown. We
live in New York city. Did you ever see New York city?
[Illustration: When Eyebright appeared with Genevieve in her arms,
they stopped digging and looked at her curiously.PAGE 172.]
No, never. I wish I had, said Eyebright.
It's a real nice place, went on the pink-and-gray midge. You'd
better make haste and come and see it quick, 'cause it's de-te-rotting
every day; my papa said so. Don't you think Dr. Azariah P. Brown is a
beau-tiful name? I do. When I'm mallied and have a little boy, I'm
going to name him Dr. Azariah P. Brown, because it's the beautifulest
name in the world.
She's 'gaged already, said the other little sister. She's 'gaged
to Willy Prentiss. And she's got a 'gagement wing; only, she turns the
stone round inside, so's to make people b'lieve it's a plain gold wing
and she's mallied already. Isn't that cheating? It's just as bad as
telling a weal story.
No, it isn't either! cried the other, twirling a small gilt ring
round on a brown finger, and revealing a gem made, apparently, of
second-rate sealing-wax, and about the color of a lobster's claw. No,
it isn't cheating, not one bit; 'cause sometimes the wing gets turned
round all by itself, and then people can see that it isn't plain gold.
And Nelly's 'gaged, too, just as much as I am, only she hasn't got any
wing, because Harry Sin
Now, Lotty! screamed Nelly, flinging herself upon her, you
mustn't tell the name.
So your name is Lotty, is it? said Eyebright, who had abandoned
Genevieve to the embraces of Jenny, and was digging in the sand with
No, it isn't. My really name is Charlotte P., only Mamma calls me
Lotty. I don't like it much. It's such a short name, just Lotty. Look
here, you didn't ever see me till to-day, so it can't make much
difference to you, so won't you please call me Charlotte P.? I'd like
it so much if you would.
Eyebright hastened to assure Charlotte P. of her willingness to
grant this slight favor.
Are these little boys your brothers, LotCharlotte P., I mean?
Oh, no! cried Nelly. Our bwother is lots and lots bigger than
they are. That's Sinclair and Fweddy. They ain't no 'lation at all,
'cept that they live next door.
Their mamma's a widow, interposed Charlotte P. She plays on the
piano, and a real handsome gentleman comes to see her 'most every day.
That's what being a widow means.
Look here what I've found! shouted Sinclair, who had gone farther
down the beach. I guess it's a shrimp. And if I had a match I'd make a
fire and cook it, for I read in a book once that shrimps are
Let me see him! Let me see him! clamored the little ones. Then, in
a tone of disgust: Oh, my! ain't he horrid-looking and little. He
isn't any bigger than the head of a pin.
That's not true, asserted Sinclair: he's bigger than the head of
my mamma's shawl-pin, and that's ever so big.
I don't believe he's good a bit, declared Lotty.
Then you shan't have any of him when he's cooked, said Sinclair.
I've got a jelly-fish, too. He's in a hole with a little water in it,
but he can't get out. I mean to eat him, too. Are jelly-fish good? to
I don't believe they are, she replied. I never heard of anybody's
I like fishes, went on Sinclair. My mamma says she guesses I've
got a taste for nat-nat-ural history. When I grow up I mean to read all
the books about animals.
And what do you like? asked Eyebright of the other little boy, who
had not spoken yet, and whose fair baby face had an odd, almost
Fried hominy, was the unexpected reply, uttered in a sharp,
distinct voice. The children shouted and Eyebright laughed, but Freddy
only smiled faintly in a condescending way. And now Eyebright
remembered that she was on her road to the cave,a fact quite
forgotten for the moment,and she jumped up and said she must go.
Perhaps Mrs. Waurigan will know where the Oven is, she added.
I guess so, replied Lotty; because she does know about a great
many, many things. Good-by!do come again to-morrow, and bring Dolly,
won't you? and she gave Genevieve one kiss and Eyebright another.
You're pretty big to play with dolls, I think. But
thenmeditativelyshe's a pretty big doll too.
Mrs. Waurigan was knitting a blue-yarn stocking. She could tell
Eyebright nothing about the Oven.
I know it's not a great way off, she said. But I've never been
there. It can't be over a mile, if it's so much as that; that I'm sure
of. Have you walked up all the way from Scrapplehead? I want to know?
It's a long way for you to come.
Not so far as New York city, said Eyebright, laughing. Those
little girls tell me they come from there.
Yes; the twins and Sinclair and Freddy all come from New York.
Their mother, Mis' Brown, who is a real nice lady, was up here last
year. She took a desprit fancy to the place, and when the children had
scarlet fever in the spring, and Lotty was so sick that the doctor
didn't think she'd ever get over it, she just packed their trunk and
sent them right off here just as soon as they was fit to travel. She
said all she asked was that I'd feed 'em and do for 'em just as I do
for my own; and you wouldn't believe how much they've improved since
they came. They look peaked enough still, but for all that nobody'd
think that they were the same children.
And did the little boys come with them?
Yes. They're neighbors, Miss' Brown wrote, and their mother wanted
to go to the Springs, or somewhere, so she asked mightn't they come,
too. At first, I thought I couldn't hardly manage with so many, but
they haven't been a bit of trouble. Just set them anywheres down on the
shore, and they'll dig all day and be as happy as clams. The only bad
things is boots. Miss' Brown, she sent seven pairs apiece in the trunk,
and, you would hardly believe it, they're on the sixth pair already.
Rocks is dreadful hard on leather, and so is sand. But I guess their Ma
wont care so's they go back strong and healthy.
I'm sure she won't, said Eyebright. Now I must be going, or I
shan't be able to get into the cave when I find it.
You'd better come in and get a bite of something to eat as you come
back, said Mrs. Waurigan. That's the house just across that pasture.
'T ain't but a step out of your way.
Oh, thank you. How kind you are! replied Eyebright. Then she said
good-by and hurried on, thinking to herself,Maine is full of good
people, I do believe. I wish Wealthy could come up here and see how
nice they are.
It seemed more than a mile to the Oven, but she made the distance
longer than it was by continually going down to the water's edge to
make sure that she was not passing the cave without knowing it. It was
almost by accident that in the end she lighted upon it. Strolling a
little out of her way to pick a particularly blue harebell which had
caught her eye, she suddenly found herself on the edge of a hollow
chasm, and, peeping over, perceived that it must be the place she was
in search of. Scrambling down from her perch, which was about half-way
up one side, she found herself in a deep recess, overhung by a large
rock, which formed a low archway across its front. The floor ran back
for a long distance, rising gradually, in irregular terraces, till it
met the roof; and here and there along these terraces were basin-like
holes full of gleaming water, which must be the pools Mrs. Downs had
Eyebright had never seen a cave before, though she had read and
played about caves all her life, so you can imagine her ecstasy and
astonishment at finding herself in a real one at last. It was as good
as the Arabian Nights, she thought, and a great deal better than the
cave in the Swiss Family Robinson. Indeed, it was a beautiful place.
Cool green light filled it, like sunshine filtered through sea-water.
The rocky shelves were red, or rather a deep rosy pink, and the water
in the pools was of the color of emerald and beautifully clear. She
climbed up to the nearest pool, and gave a loud scream of delight, for
there, under her eye, was a miniature flower-garden, made by the
fairies, it would seem, and filled with dahlia-shaped and
hollyhock-shaped things, purple, crimson, and deep orange; which were
flowers to all appearance, and yet must be animals; for they opened and
shut their many-tinted petals, and moved and swayed when she dipped her
fingers in and splashed the water about. There were green spiky things,
too, exactly like freshly fallen chestnut burrs, lettuce-like
leaves,pale red ones, as fine as tissue-paper,and delicate filmy
foliage in soft brown and in white. Yellow snails clung to the sides of
the pool, vivid in color as the blossom of a trumpet-creeper; and, as
she lay with her face close to the surface of the water, a small,
bright fish swam from under the leaves, and darted across the pool like
a quick sun ray. Never, even in her dreams, had Eyebright imagined any
thing like it, and in her delight she gave Genevieve a great hug, and
Aren't you glad I brought you, dear, and oh, isn't it beautiful?
There were several pools, one above another, and each higher one
seemed more beautiful than the next below. The very biggest dahlia of
allAnemone was its real name, but Eyebright did not know thatwas in
the highest of these pools, and Eyebright lay so long looking at it and
giving it an occasional tickle with her forefinger to make it open and
shut, that she never noticed how fast the tide was beginning to pour
in. At last, one great wave rolled up and broke almost at her feet, and
she suddenly bethought herself that it might be time to go. Alas! the
thought came too late, as in another minute she saw. The rocks at the
side, down which she had climbed, were cut off by deep water. She
hurried across to the other side to see if it were not possible to get
out there; but it was even worse, and the tide ran after as she
scrambled back, and wetted her ankles before she could gain the place
where she had been sitting before she made this disagreeable discovery.
That wasn't safe either, for pretty soon a splash reached her there,
and she took Genevieve in her arms and climbed up higher still, feeling
like a hunted thing, and as if the sea were chasing her and would catch
her if it possibly could.
It was a great comfort just then to recollect what Mr. Downs had
said about the cave being safe enough for people who were caught there
by the tide, in ordinary weather. Eyebright worried a little over
that word ordinary, but the sun was shining outside, and she could
see its gleam through the lower waves; the water came in quietly, which
proved that there wasn't much wind; and altogether she concluded that
there couldn't be any thing extraordinary about this particular day. I
think she proved herself a brave little thing, and sensible, too, to be
able to reason this out as she did, and avoid useless fright; but, for
all her bravery, she couldn't help crying a little as she sat there
like a limpet among the rocks, and realized that the Oven door was fast
shut, and she couldn't get out for ever so many hours. All of a sudden
it came to her quite distinctly how foolish and rash it was to have
come there all alone, without permission from papa, or letting anybody
know of her intention. It was one comfort that papa at that moment was
in Malachi, and couldn't be anxious about her; but, Oh dear!
Eyebright thought, how dreadfully he would feel if I never did get
out, and he came back and found me gone, and nobody could tell him
where I was. I'll never do such a bad, naughty thing again, never,if
I ever do get out, that is she reflected, as the water climbed
higher and higher, and again she moved her seat to avoid it, still with
the sense of being a hunted thing which the sea was trying to catch.
Her seat was now too far from the pools for her to note how the
anemones and snails were enjoying their twice-a-day visit from the
tide, how the petals quivered and widened, the weeds grew brighter, and
the fish darted about with renewed life and vigor. I don't believe it
would have been much comfort to her if she had seen them. Fishes are
unfriendly creatures; they never seem to care any thing about human
beings, or whether they are feeling glad or sorry. Genevieve, for all
her being made of wax, was much more satisfactory. What was
particularly nice, she lent Eyebright her blanket-shawl to wear, for
the cave had begun to feel very chilly. The shawl was not large, but it
was better than nothing; and with this round her shoulders, and Dolly
cuddled in her arms, she sat on the very highest ledge of all and
watched the water rise. She couldn't go any higher, so she hoped it
couldn't, either; and as she sat, she sang all the songs and hymns she
knew, to keep her spirits up,Out on an Ocean, Shining Shore (how
she wished herself on one!), Rosalie, the Prairie Flower, Old Dog
Tray, and ever so many others. It was a very miscellaneous concert,
but did as well for Eyebright and the fishes as the most classical
music could have done; better, perhaps, for Mozart and Beethoven might
have sounded a little mournful, and songs without words would never
have answered. Songs with words were what were wanted in that
The tide halted at last, after filling the cave about two-thirds
full. Once sure that it had turned and was going down, Eyebright felt
easier, and could even enjoy herself again. She ate the bread and
butter with a good appetite, only wishing there was more of it, and
then made up a delightful story about robbers and a cave and a
princess, in which she herself played the part of the princess, who was
shut in the cave of an enchanter till a prince should come and release
her through a hole in the top. By the time that this happened and the
princess was safely out, the uppermost pool was uncovered, and
Eyebright clambered down the wet rocks and took another long look at
it, making believe that it was a garden which a good fairy had
planted to amuse the princess; and, indeed, no fairy could have
invented a prettier one. So, little by little, and following the
receding sea, she was able at last, with a jump and a long step, to
reach the rocky pathway by which she had come down, and two minutes
later she was on top of the cliff again, and in the sunshine, which
felt particularly warm and pleasant. The sun was half-way down the sky;
she had been in the cave almost six hours, and she knew it must be late
in the afternoon.
Neither Mrs. Waurigan nor the party of children was visible as she
passed the house. They had probably gone in for tea, and she did not
stop to look them up, for a great longing for home had seized upon her.
The tide delayed her a little while at the causeway, so that it was
past six when she finally reached the island, and her boots were wet
from the soaked sand; but she didn't mind that a bit, she was so very
glad to be safely there again. She pulled them off, put on dry
stockings and shoes, made the fire, filled the tea-kettle, set the
table, and, after a light repast of bread and milk, curled herself up
in the rocking-chair for a long nap, and did not wake till nearly nine,
when papa came in, having been set ashore by the schooner's boat as it
passed by. He had a large codfish in his hand, swung from a loop of
Well, it has been a nice day, he said, cheerfully, rubbing his
hands. The wind was fair both ways. We did some fishing, and I caught
this big fellow. I don't know when I have enjoyed any thing so much.
What sort of a day have you had, little daughter?
Eyebright began to tell him, but at the same time began to cry,
which made her story rather difficult to understand. Mr. Bright looked
very grave when at last he comprehended the danger she had been in.
I shan't dare to go anywhere again, he said. I thought I could
trust you, Eyebright. I supposed you were too sensible and steady to do
such a wild thing as this. I am very much surprised and very much
These words were the heaviest punishment which Eyebright could have
had, for she was proud of being trusted and trustworthy. Papa had sat
down and was leaning his head on his hand in a dispirited way. All his
bright look was overclouded,the pleasant day seemed forgotten and
almost spoiled. She felt that it was her fault, and reproached herself
more than ever.
Oh, please don't say that, papa, she pleaded, tearfully. I can
be trusted, really and truly I can. I won't ever go to any dangerous
place alone again, really I won't. Just forgive me this time, and
you'll see how good I'll be all the rest of my life.
So papa forgave her, and she kept her promise, and never did go off
on any thoughtless expeditions again, as long as she lived on Causey
CHAPTER X. A LONG YEAR IN A SHORT
It was Christmas Eve, and Eyebright, alone in the kitchen, was
hanging up the stockings before going to bed. Papa, who had a headache,
had retired early, so there was no one to interrupt her. She only
wished there had been. Half the fun of Christmas seems missing when
there is nobody from whom to keep a secret, no mystery, no hiding of
things in corners and bringing them out at just the right moment. Very
carefully she tied papa's stocking to the corner of the chimney and
proceeded to fill it; that is, to put in a pair of old fur gloves
which she had discovered in one of the boxes, and had mended by way of
a surprise, and a small silk bag full of hickory-nut meats, carefully
picked from the shells. These were all the Christmas gifts she had been
able to get for papa, and the long gray stocking-leg looked very empty
to her eyes. She had wished much to knit him a comforter, but it was
three weeks and more since either of them had been able to get to the
village; besides which, she knew that papa felt very poor indeed, and
she did not like to ask for money, even so little as would have carried
out her wish. This must do, she said, with a quick sigh. Then she
hung up her own stocking, and went upstairs. Eyebright always had hung
up her stocking on Christmas Eve ever since she could remember, and she
did it now more from the force of habit than any thing else, forgetting
that there was no Wealthy at hand to put things in, and that they were
living on an island which, since winter began, seemed to have changed
its place, and swung a great deal farther away from things and people
and the rest of the world than it had been.
For winter comes early to the Maine coasts. Long before
Thanksgiving, the ground was white with snow, and it stayed white from
that time on till spring. After the first heavy storm, the farmers
turned out with snow-ploughs to break paths through the village. As
more snow fell, it was shovelled out and thrown on either side of the
path, till the long double mounds half hid the people who walked
between. But there was no one to break a path along the shore toward
the causeway. The tide, rising and falling, kept a little strip of sand
clear for part of the distance, and on this Eyebright now and then made
her way to the village. But it was a hard and uncertain walk, and as
rowing the boat was very cold work, it happened sometimes that for
weeks together neither she nor papa left the island, or saw anybody
except each other.
This would have seemed very lonely, indeed, had not the house-work
filled up so much of her time. Papa had no such resource. After the
wood was chopped, and the cow fed, and a little snow shovelled,
perhaps,that was all. He could not find pleasure, as Eyebright did,
in reading over and over again a book which he already knew by heart;
the climate did not brace and stimulate him as it did her; the cold
affected him very much; he moped in the solitude, and time hung heavily
upon his hands.
Eyebright often wondered how they could ever have got alongor, in
fact, if it could have been possible to get along at allwithout their
cow. Papa had bought her in the autumn, when he began to realize how
completely they were to be shut off from village supplies in bad
weather. She was a good-natured, yellow beast, without any pedigree, or
any name till Eyebright dubbed her Golden Rod, partly because of her
color, and partly because the field in which she grazed before she came
to them was full of goldenrod, which the cow was supposed to eat,
though I dare say she didn't. She gave a good deal of milk, not of the
richest quality, for her diet was rather spare, but it was a great help
and comfort to have it. With milk, potatoes, cabbages, and beets from
their own garden; flour, Indian meal, and a barrel of salt beef in
store, there was no danger of starvation on Causey Island, though
Eyebright at times grew very tired of ringing the changes on these few
articles of diet, and trying to invent new dishes with which to tempt
papa's appetite, which had grown very poor since the winter set in.
Altogether, life on the island was a good deal harder and less
pleasant now than it had been in summer-time, and the sea was a great
deal less pleasant. Eyebright loved it still; but her love was mingled
with fear, and she began to realize what a terrible thing the ocean can
be. The great gray waves which leaped and roared and flung themselves
madly on the rocks, were so different from the blue, rippling waves of
the summer, that she could hardly believe it the same sea. And even
when pleasant days came, and the waves grew calm, and the beautiful
color returned to the water, still the other and frightful look of the
ocean remained in her memory, and her bad dreams were always about
storms and shipwrecks. Many more boats passed between Malachi and
Scrapplehead in winter than in summer. Now that the inland roads were
blocked with snow, and the Boston steamer had ceased to run, the mails
came that way, being brought over every week in a sail-boat. Even
row-boats passed to and fro in calm weather, and what with lumber
vessels and fishing smacks, and an occasional traveller from
out-of-the-way Canada, sails at sea, or the sound of clinking oars off
the bathing-beach, became of frequent occurrence. These little boats
out in the great fierce ocean weighed heavily on Eyebright's mind
sometimes. Especially was this the case when heavy fogs wrapped the
coast, as occasionally they did for days together, making all landmarks
dangerously dim and indistinct. At such times it seemed as if Causey
Island were a big rocky lump which had got in the way, and against
which ships were almost certain to run. She wished very much for a
light-house, and she coaxed papa to let her keep a kerosene lamp
burning in the window of her bedroom on all foggy and very dark nights.
The little gal's lamp, the Malachi sailors called it, and they
learned to look for it as a guide, though its reflective power was not
enough to make it serviceable in a fog, which was the chief danger of
There was no fog, however, when she opened her eyes on Christmas
morning, but a bright sun, just rising, which was a sort of Christmas
present in itself. She made haste to dress, for she heard papa moving
in his room, and she wished to get down first, but he was as quick as
she, and they finally met at the stair-top, and went down together.
When he saw the stockings, he looked surprised and vexed.
Dear me! did you hang up your stocking, Eyebright? he asked, in a
depressed tone. I quite forgot it was Christmas. You'll have no
presents, my child, I'm afraid.
Never mind, papa, I don't care; I don't want any thing, said
She spoke bravely, but there was a lump in her throat, and she could
hardly keep from tears. It seemed so strange and dreadful not to have
any thing at all in her stocking,not one single thing! She had not
thought much about the matter, but with childish faith had taken it for
granted that she must have somethingsome sort of a present, and for a
moment the disappointment was hard to bear.
Papa looked very much troubled, especially when he spied his own
stocking and perceived that his little daughter had remembered him
while he had forgotten her. He spent the morning rummaging his desk and
the trunks upstairs, as if in search of something, and after dinner
announced that he was going to the village to get the mail. The mails
came into Scrapplehead twice a week, but he seldom had any letters, and
Eyebright never, so, as a general thing, they were not very particular
about calling regularly at the post-office.
Eyebright wanted to go, too, but the day was so cold that papa
thought she would better not. She wrapped him in every warm thing she
could find, and drew the fur-gloves over his fingers with great
They will keep you quite warm, won't they? she said. Your fingers
would almost freeze without them, wouldn't they? You like them, don't
Very much, said Mr. Bright, giving her a good-by kiss.
Then he stepped into the boat and took the oars, while she wrapped
her arms in her shawl and watched him row away. Her breath froze on the
air like a cloud of white steam. She felt her ears tingle, and
presently ran back to the house, feeling as if Jack Frost were nipping
her as she ran, but with glowing cheeks and spirits brightened by the
Just before sunset papa came rowing back. He was almost stiff with
cold, but when once he had thawed out in the warm kitchen, he seemed
none the worse for that. It was quite exciting to hear from the village
after such a long silence. Papa had seen Mrs. Downs and Mr. Downs and
the children. Benny had had the mumps, but he was almost well again.
Mrs. Downs sent her love to Eyebright, and a mince pie pinned up in a
towel. This was very nice, but when Eyebright unpinned the towel and
saw the pie, she gave a scream of dismay.
Why, papa, it's all hard, she said, and it's just like ice. Touch
it, papa; did you ever feel any thing so cold?
In fact, the pie was frozen hard, and had to be thawed for a long
time in the oven before it was fit to eat. While this process was going
on, papa produced a little parcel from his pocket. It was a Christmas
present,a pretty blue neck-tie. Eyebright was delighted, and showed
her gratitude by kissing papa at least a dozen times, and dancing about
Oh, and here's a letter for you, too, he said.
A letter for me. How queer! I never had a letter before, that I
remember. Why, it's from Wealthy! Papa, I wish you'd read it to me. It
looks very hard to make out, Wealthy writes such a funny hand. Don't
you recollect how she used to work over her copy-book, with her nose
almost touching the paper, and how inky she used to get?
It was the first time they had heard from Wealthy since they left
Tunxet, more than eight months before. Wealthy wrote very few letters,
and those few cost an amount of time, trouble, and ink-spots, which
would have discouraged most people from writing at all.
This was the letter:
DEAR EYEBRIGHT: I take my pen in hand to tell you that I am
well, and hope you are the same. All the friends here is
well, except Miss Bury. She's down with intermitting fever,
and old Miss Beadles is dead and buried. Whether that's being
well or not I can't say. Some folks think so, and some folks
don't. I haint written before. I aint much of a scribe, as
you know, so I judge you haven't been surprised at not
hearing of me. I might have writ sooner, but along in the
fall my arm was kind of lamed with rheumatism, and when I got
over that, there was Mandy Harmon's weddin' things to
do,Pelatiah Harmon's daughter, down to the corners, you
know. What girls want so many clothes for when they get
married, I cant for the life of me tell. The shops don't shut
up for good just afterward, so far as anybody knows, but
you'd think they did from the fuss some of them make. Mandy
had five new dresses. They was cut down to Worcester, but I
made them, besides two calikus and ten of every thing, and a
double gown and an Ulster and the Lord knows what not. I've
had to stick to it to put 'em through, but they're all done
at last, and she got married last week and went off, and
she'll spend the next few years a-alterin' of them things
over, or I miss my guess. That Mather girl keeps asking me
about you, but I tell her you haint wrote but twice, and I
don't know no more than she does. Mr. Bury got your Pa's
letter. We was glad to hear you liked it up there, but most
places is pleasant enough in summer. Winter is the tug. I
suppose it's cold enough where you are, sometimes, judging
from Probbabillities. Mr. Asher has took the house. Tell your
Pa. It dont look much like old times. He has put wooden
points on top of the barn and mended the back gate, and he's
got a nasty Newfoundland which barks most all the time. Now I
must conclude.Yours truly,
WEALTHY A. JUDSON.
P. S.My respects to your Pa and to all inquiring friends. I
was thinking that that water-proof of your Ma's had better be
cut over for you in the spring. What kind of help do you get
up in Maine?
Oh, how like dear, funny old Wealthy that is! cried Eyebright, as
between smiles and tears she listened to the reading of this letter.
Whom do you suppose she means by 'all inquiring friends'? And isn't it
just like her to call Bessie 'that Mather girl'? Wealthy never could
endure Bessie,I can't imagine why. Well, this has been a real nice
Christmas, after all. I'm glad you didn't go to the post-office last
week, papa, for then we should have got the letter sooner, and
shouldn't have had it for to-day. It was much nicer to have it now.
Winter's the tug. Eyebright thought often of this sentence of
Wealthy's as the long weeks went by, and still the cold continued and
the spring delayed, till it seemed as though it were never coming at
all, and papa grew thinner and more listless and discouraged all the
time. The loneliness and want of occupation hurt him more than it did
Eyebright, and when spring came, as at last it did, his spirits did not
revive as she had hoped they would. Farming was trying and depressing
work on Causey Island. The land was poor and rocky,out of heart, as
the saying is,and Mr. Bright had neither the spirit nor the money to
bring it into condition. He missed his old occupation and his old
neighbors more than he had expected; he missed newspapers; and a
growing anxiety about the future, and about Eyebright,who was getting
no schooling of any kind,combined to depress him and give him the
feeling that he had dropped out of life, and there was no use in trying
to make things better.
It was certainly a disadvantage to Eyebright, at her age, to be
taken out of school; still life on the island was a schooling for all
that, and schooling of a very useful kind. History and geography are
excellent things, but no geography or history can take the place of the
lessons which Eyebright was now learning,lessons in patience,
unselfishness, good-humor, and helpfulness. When she fought with her
own little discontents and vexations, and kept her face bright and
sunny for papa's sake, she was gaining more good than she could have
done from the longest chapter in the best school-book ever printed. Not
that the school-books are not desirable, too, or that Eyebright did not
miss them. After the first novelty of their new life was over, she
missed school very much,not the fun of school only, but the actual
study itself. Her mind felt as they say teething dogs do, as if it must
have something to bite on. She tried the experiment of setting herself
lessons, but it did not succeed very well. There was no one to explain
the little difficulties that arose, and she grew puzzled and confused,
and lost the desire to go on.
Another thing which she missed very much was going to church. There
had never been either a church or a Sunday-school in Scrapplehead, and
the people who made any difference for Sunday made it by idling about,
which was almost worse than working. At first, Eyebright tried to
observe the day after a fashion, by learning a hymn and studying a
short Bible lesson, but such good habits drop off after a while, when
there is nothing and nobody to remind or help us, and little by little
she got out of the way of keeping it up, and sometimes quite forgot
that it was Sunday till afterward. Days were much alike on the island,
especially in winter, and it was not easy to remember, which must be
her excuse; but it was a sad want in her week, and a want which was
continually growing worse as she grew older.
Altogether, it was not a good or wholesome life for a child to lead,
and only her high spirits and sweet, healthful temper kept her from
being seriously hurt by it. It was just now that Mr. Joyce's words were
proved true, and the quick power of imagination with which nature had
gifted her became her best friend. It enabled her to take sights and
sounds into the place of play-fellows and friends, mixing them with her
life as it were, and half in fun, half in earnest, getting
companionship out of them. Skies and sunsets, flowers, waves,
birds,all became a part of the fairy-world which lay always at hand,
and to which her mind went for change and rest from work too hard and
thoughts over-anxious for a child to bear. She was growing fast, but
the only signs she gave of growing older were her womanly and
thoughtful ways about papa and his comforts, and a slight, very slight,
difference in her feeling toward Genevieve, whom she played with no
longer, though she took her out now and then when she was quite alone,
and set her in a chair opposite, as better than no company at all.
Eyebright had no idea of being disloyal to this dear old friend, but
her eyes had opened to the fact that Genevieve was only wax, and do
what she could, it was impossible to make her seem alive any more.
Her rapid growth was another trouble, for she could not wear the
clothes which she had brought with her to the island, and it was very
hard to get others. Papa had no money to spare, she knew, and she could
not bear to worry him with her difficulties, so she went to Mrs. Downs
instead. Mrs. Downs had her hands full of sewing for him and her
three boys; still she found time to advise and help, and between her
fitting and Eyebright's sewing, a skirt and jacket were concocted out
of the water-proof designated by Wealthy, which though rather queer in
pattern, did nicely for cool days, and relieved Eyebright from the
long-legged sensation which was growing over her. This, with a calico,
some of Mrs. Bright's underclothing altered a little, and a sun-bonnet
with a deep cape, made a tolerable summer outfit. Gloves, ruffles,
ribbons, and such little niceties, she learned to do without; and when
the sweet summer came again with long days and warm winds, when she
could row, sit out-doors as much as she liked, and swing in the
wild-grape hammocks which festooned the shore, she did not miss them.
Girls on desert islands can dispense with finery.
But summers in Maine are very short, and, as lengthening days and
chilly nights began to hint at coming winter, Eyebright caught herself
shivering, and knew that she dreaded it very much indeed.
How long it will seem! she thought. And how will poor papa bear
it? And what am I to do when all mamma's old clothes are worn out? I
don't suppose I ever shall have any new ones, and how I am to manage, I
CHAPTER XI. A STORM ON THE COAST.
Summers are short in Maine; still the autumn that year seemed
in no haste to begin its work. September came and went, bringing only
trifling frosts, and the equinoctial week passed without a storm. In
its place appeared an odd yellow mist, which wrapped the world in its
folds and made the most familiar objects look strange and unnatural.
Not a fog,it was not dense enough for that. It seemed more like air
made visible, thickened just a little, and tinted with color, but
common air still, warm, thin, and quiet. The wind blew softly for many
days; there was a general hush over land and sea, and the sun blinked
through the golden haze like a bigger and hotter moon.
This strange atmosphere lasted so long that people grew accustomed
and ceased to wonder at it. Some of the old sailors shook their heads
and said it would end with a gale; but old sailors are fond of
prophesying gales, and nobody was frightened by the prediction, or saw
any reason for being so, as long as the weather remained thus warm and
The little steamer from Malachi to Portland made her last trip for
the season on the 30th of September; and the day before, Mr. Bright,
who had some potatoes to ship to market, went over with them to
Malachi, in a small sail-boat belonging to Captain Jim, Mr. Downs's
brother's son. They were not to return till next day, so it was
arranged that Eyebright should spend the night with Mrs. Downs, as papa
did not like to leave her alone on the island. She went with him as far
as the village, and kissed him for good-by on the dock, when the little
cargo was all on board and Captain Jim just ready to push off.
I shall go home early to-morrow, and make some egg-toast and some
frizzled beef for your supper, papa, so mind you don't stop to tea with
Mrs. Downs, were her last words.
All rightI won't, said her father; and Captain Jim laughed and
You'd better not put the frying-pan on till you see us a-coming,
for with this light wind there's no knowing when we'll get over, and
the frizzle might be sp'iled.
Then the sail flapped and filled, and off they went over the yellow
sea. Eyebright watched till the boat passed behind the island, and out
of sight; then she walked up the road to the Downs's, saying to
What funny weather! I never saw any thing like it. It isn't a bit
like last September.
Next morning showed the same sultry mist, a little thicker if any
thing. Eyebright stayed with Mrs. Downs till after dinner, helped in
the weekly baking, hemmed two crash towels, told Benny a story, and set
out for home a little after four, carrying a blueberry pie in a basket
for papa's supper. As she toiled over the sand of the causeway and up
the steep path, she was conscious of a singular heaviness in the air,
and it struck her that the sea was making a sound such as she had never
heard before,a sort of odd shuddering moan, as if some great creature
was in pain a long way out from shore. The water looked glassy calm,
and there did not seem to be much wind, which made the sound even
stranger and more startling. But she forgot about the sound when she
reached the house, for there was a great deal to do and not much time
to do it in, for Captain Jim expected to get back by six o'clock or
soon after. What with sweeping and dusting and fire-making, an hour
passed rapidly, when suddenly a dusky darkness settled over the house,
and at the same moment a blast of wind blew the door open with a bang.
Oh dear, there is going to be a thunder-storm, thought Eyebright.
She was afraid of thunder and lightning and did not like the idea at
Going to the door to shut it, she stopped short, for she saw a
strange sight. One side of the heavens was still thick with the yellow
haze, but toward the sea a bank of black clouds was whirling rapidly up
from the horizon. It had nearly reached the zenith, and had already
hidden the sun and turned the afternoon into temporary twilight. The
sea was glassy smooth near the shoreas smooth as oil; but farther
out, the waves had begun to toss and tumble, and the moaning sound was
become a deep hollow boom, which might easily be imagined the very
voice of the approaching storm.
Filled with anxiety, Eyebright ran down to the cliff above the
bathing-beach and looked toward the long cape at the end of which lay
Malachi. The dots of houses showed plainer and whiter than usual
against the cape, which had turned of a deep slate-gray, almost black.
Two or three ships were in sight, but they were large ships far out at
sea, and the strange darkness and the confusion and tumble of the
waves, which every instant increased, made it difficult to detect any
object so small as a boat. She was just turning away, when a sudden
gleam of light showed what seemed to be a tiny sail far out in the bay,
but it disappeared and, at the same moment, a sudden, violent wind
swept in from the sea, and almost threw her down. She caught hold of a
sapling-stem to steady herself, and held tightly till the gust passed.
Next instant came a great roar of blinding rain, and she was forced to
run as fast as she could to the house. It took but two minutes to reach
it; but already she was drenched to the skin, and the water was running
in streams from her dress and the braids of her hair.
She had to change all her clothes. As she sat before the fire,
drying her hair with a rough towel, she could hear the rain pouring on
the roof with a noise like thunder, and every few minutes great waves
of wind surged against the house, making it shake and tremble till the
rafters creaked. There were other sounds, too,odd rattlings, deep
hollow notes like groans, and a throbbing as of some mighty pulse,but
there was no thunder; indeed Eyebright doubted if she could have heard
it had there been any, so loud was the tumult of noises.
She sat by the fire and dried her hairwhat else was there to
do?but feeling all the time as if she ought to be out in the rain
helping papa somehow. The tears ran down her cheeks; now and then she
wrung her hands tightly, and said, O papa! O papa! Never had she felt
so little and helpless and lost in all her life before. She tried to
say a prayer, but it seemed to her just then that God could not hear a
weak, small voice like hers through such a rage of storm. She could not
realize what it would have been such a comfort to feel,that God is
never so near his children or so ready to listen, as when storms are
wildest and they need him most. And so she sat, till by and by the
clock struck six, and made her jump at the idea that papa might come in
soon and find no supper ready for him.
I mustn't let that happen, she thought, as, with shaking
hands, she mended the fire, laid the table, and set the kettle on to
boil. She would not allow herself to question the fact that papa would
comemust come, though he might be a little late; and she
shaved the dried beef, broke the eggs, and sliced bread for toasting,
so as to be able to get supper as soon as possible after he should
appear. This helped her through with another hour. Still no sign of
papa, and still the storm raged, as it seemed, more furiously than
Eight o'clock, nine o'clock, ten, half-past ten. I don't know how
that evening passed. It seemed as long as two or three ordinary days.
Many times, thinking she heard a sound, Eyebright flew to the door, but
only to come back disappointed. At last the rain slackened, and, unable
to sit still any longer, she put on her water-proof and India rubbers,
tied a hood over her head, and, taking a lantern, went down to the
cliff again. It would have been of no use to carry an umbrella in that
wind, and the night was so dark that, even with the help of the
lantern, and well as she knew the path, she continually wandered from
it, and struck and bruised herself against stumps and branches which
there was not light to avoid.
At last she gained the top of the bank over the beach. The sea was
perfectly black; she could see nothing and hear nothing, except the
roar of waves and the rattle of the shingle below. Suddenly came a
flash of lightning. It lit the water for a minute, and revealed a dark
spot which might be a boat borne on the waves a little way out from
shore. Eyebright did not hesitate an instant, but tumbled and scrambled
down the bank at once, waving the lantern, and crying, Here I am,
papa! this way, papa! as loud as she could. She had scarcely reached
the beach, when another flash showed the object much nearer. Next
moment came a great tumbling wave, and out of the midst of it and of
the darkness, something plunged on to the beach; and then came the
lightning again. It was a boatand a man in it.
Eyebright seized and held with all her might.
Oh, hurry and get out, papa, she cried; for though she could not
see, she felt another wave coming. I can't keep hold but a minute.
And thenshe hardly knew how it happenedthe man did get
outtumble out ratherupon the sand; and, as she let go the boat and
caught hold of him, in sped the wave she had dreaded, with a loud roar,
splashed her from head to foot, and rolled back, carrying the boat with
it. The man lay on the beach as if unable to move, but by the sense of
touch, as well as the dim light of the lantern, Eyebright already knew
that it was not papa, but a stranger, whose arm she clutched.
Get up, oh, do get up! she screamed. You'll be drowned if you
don't. Don't you see that you will? Oh, what shall I do?
The man seemed to hear, for he slowly struggled up to his feet, but
he did not speak. It was terrible work getting him up the cliff. The
wind in furious moments seemed to seize and pin them down, and at such
times there was nothing to be done but to stand still, flatten
themselves against the bank, and wait till its force abated. Eyebright
was most thankful when at last they reached the top. She hurried the
stranger with what speed she could across the field to the house,
keeping the path better than when she came down, because the light in
the kitchen window now served her as a guide. The man stumbled
continually, and more than once almost fell down. As they entered the
kitchen he quite fell, and lay so long on the floor as to frighten
Eyebright extremely. She had never seen any one faint, and she feared
the man was dead. Not knowing in the least what she ought to do, she
ran for a pillow to lay under his head, covered him with a blanket, and
put some water on his forehead. This last was rather unnecessary,
considering his wet condition, but Bessie had always brought to the
Lady Jane in that way, so Eyebright thought it might be the right
thing. After a long time, she had the comfort of seeing him open his
Oh, you are better; I am so glad, she said, Do try to get into
the rocking-chair. The floor is so hard. Here, I will help you.
And she took hold of his arm for the purpose. He winced and shrank.
Not that armdon't touch that arm, please, he said. I have hurt
it in some way. It feels as if it were broken.
Then very slowly and painfully he got up from the floor and into the
rocking-chair which Eyebright had covered with a thick comfortable to
make it softer. She made haste to wet the tea, and presently brought
him a cup.
Thank you, he said, faintly. You are very kind.
She could see his face now. He was not a young man, at all. His hair
and beard were gray, and he seemed as old as papa; but he was so wet
and pale and wild-looking just then, that it was not easy to judge what
he was like. His voice was pleasant, and she did not feel at all afraid
of him. The tea seemed to revive him a little, for, after lying quiet a
while with his eyes closed, he sat up, and, fumbling with his left hand
in an inner pocket, produced a flat parcel tied in stout paper, with a
direction written upon it; and, beckoning Eyebright to him, said:
My dear, it is a bad night to ask such a favor in, and I don't know
how far you may be from the village; but could you manage to send this
over to the stage-office at once? It is of great consequence to me, or
I would not ask it. Have you a hired man who could go? I will pay him
handsomely for taking it. He must give it to the driver of the stage to
put into the express-office at Gillsworth, and take a receipt for it.
Please ask him to be particular about that, as the parcel has money in
We haven't any hired man, said Eyebright. I'm so sorry, sir. But
even if we had, he couldn't get across for ever so long.
Yes; this is an island. Didn't you know that? We can walk over to
the other shore at low tide; but the tide won't be low till after five,
even if we had a man. But there isn't anybody but just me.
After five,and the mail goes out at six, muttered the stranger.
Then I must manage to go myself.
He tried to get up, but his arm fell helplessly by his side, he
groaned, and sank back again. Presently, to Eyebright's terror, he
began to talk rapidly to himself, not to her at all, as it seemed.
It must go, he said, in a quick, excited way. I don't mind
what I pay or what risk I run. Do you think I'm going to lose every
thing?lose every thing?other people's money? A long pause; then,
What's a wetting?he went on, in a loud tonethat's nothing. A
wetting!my good name is worth more than money to me.
He was silent after that for a long time. Eyebright hoped he had
gone to sleep, when suddenly he opened his eyes, and said, imploringly:
Oh, if you knew how important it was, you would make haste. I
am sure you would.
He did not say much more, but seemed asleep, or unconscious; only
now and then, roused for a moment, he muttered some word which showed
him to be still thinking about the parcel, and the necessity for
sending it to the office immediately.
Eyebright put another blanket round him, and fetched a chair for his
feet to rest upon. That seemed all she could do, except to sit and
watch him, getting up occasionally to put wood on the fire, or going to
the door to listen, in hopes of hearing papa's step in the path. The
parcel lay on the table where the stranger had put it. She looked at
it, and looked at it, and then at the clock. It was a quarter to five.
Again the broken, dreamy voice muttered: It must go,it must go. A
sudden, generous impulse seized her.
I'll take it myself! she cried. Then it will be sure to be in
time. And I can come back when papa does.
Poor child, so sure still that papa must come!
It lacked less than three-quarters of an hour to low water. At that
state of the tide the causeway was usually pretty bare; but, as she
descended the hill, Eyebright, even in the darkness, could see that it
was not nearly bare now. She could hear the swish of the water on the
pebbles, and, by the light of her lantern, caught sight of more than
one long wave sweeping almost up to the crest of the ridge. She would
not wait, however, but set bravely forward. The water must be shallow,
she knew, and fast growing more so, and she dared not delay; for the
walk down the shore, in the wind, was sure to be a long one, I mustn't
miss the stage, she kept saying, to encourage herself, and struck in,
feeling the way with the point of her umbrella, and holding the lantern
low, so as to see where she stepped. The water was only two or three
inches deep,less than that in some places; but every few minutes a
wave would rush across and bury her feet above the ankles. At such
times, the sand would seem to give way and let her down, and a sense of
sinking and being carried off would seize upon her and take away all
her strength. She dared not move at these moments, but stood still, dug
her umbrella into the sand, and waited till the water ran back.
As she got farther from the island, a new danger assailed her. It
was the wind, of which she now felt the full force. It bent and swayed
her about till she felt like a plaything in its grasp. Once it caught
her skirts and blew her over toward the deeper water. This was the most
dangerous moment of all; but she struggled back, and the gust relaxed
its grasp. More than once the fury of the blast was so great that she
dared not stand upright, but crouched on the wet sand, and made herself
as flat as possible, till it passed by. Oh, how she wished herself back
at home again. But going back was as dangerous as going forward, and
she kept on, firm in her purpose still, though drenched, terrified, and
half crying, till, little by little, wet sand instead of water was
under her feet, the waves sounded behind instead of immediately beside
her, and at last, stumbling over a clump of blueberry bushes, she fell
forward on her knees upon the other shore,a soggy, soaked,
disagreeable shore enough, but a most welcome sight just then.
So tired and spent was she, that for some minutes she lay under the
blueberry clump before she could gather strength to pull herself up and
go on. It was a very hard and painful walk, and the wind and the
darkness did all they could to keep her back; but the gallant little
heart did not fail, and, at last, just as the first dim dawn was
breaking, she gained the village and Mr. Downs's door.
Mrs. Downs had been up nearly all night, so great was her anxiety
for Captain Jim and Mr. Bright. She had just fallen asleep in her
clothes, when she was roused by a knock.
That's them at last, she cried, jumping up, and hurrying to the
Great was her surprise at the little soaked figure which met her
eyes, and greater still when she recognized Eyebright.
Why, what in the name ofwhy! was all she could say at first.
Then, regaining her wits, Eyebright, my dear child, what has fetched
you out at this hour of day; and massy's sake, how did you come?
I came on the causeway. Oh, Mrs. Downs, is papa here?
Over the causeway! cried Mrs. Downs. Good land alive! What
possessed you to do such a fool hardy thing? I only wonder you were not
So do I. I was almost. But, Mrs. Downs, is papa here? Oh, do tell
No, they haven't got in yet, said Mrs. Downs, affecting an ease
and security which she did not feel. The storm has delayed them, or,
what's more likely, they never started at all, and will be over to-day.
I guess that'll turn out to be the way of it. Jim's got too good sense
to put out in the teeth of a heavy squall like this has been. An' he
must ha' seen it was a-comin'. But, my dear, how wet you are! And what
did make you do such a crazy thing as to set out over the causeway in
I couldn't help it, with a sob. There's a poor man up at our
house, Mrs. Downs. He came in a boat, and was 'most drowned, and he's
hurt his arm dreadfully, and I'm afraid he's very sick beside; and he
wanted this parcel to go by the stage-driver. He said it must go, it
was something very important. So I brought it. The stage hasn't gone
yet, has it? I wanted so much to be in time.
Well, I declare! cried Mrs. Downs, furiously. He must be a pretty
man to send you across the bar in the night and such a storm, to fetch
his mail. I'd like to throw it right straight in the water, that I
would, and serve him right. The idea!
Oh, he didn't mean that I should go,he didn't know any thing
about it, protested Eyebright. He asked me to send our hired man, and
when I told him we hadn't any hired man, he said then he would come
himself; but he was too sick. He said such queer things that I was
frightened. And then he went to sleep, and I came. Please tell me what
time it is; I must go to the office right away.
Indeed you won't, said Mrs. Downs. You'll come straight upstairs
and go to bed. I'll wake him up. He'll take it. There's plenty of time.
'T isn't six yet, and the stage'll be late this morning, I'll bet.
Oh, I can't go to bed; I must go back to the island, Eyebright
pleaded. The man who came is all alone there, and you can't think how
sick he is.
Poor man or not, you'll go to bed, said Mrs. Downs, inexorably,
helping the tired child upstairs. Me and Mr. Downs'll see to the poor
man. You ain't needed to carry the hull world on your back as long as
there's any grown folks left, you poor little mite. Go to bed and
sleep, and we'll look after your man.
Eyebright was too tired to resist.
Oh, please ask Mr. Downs to take a receipt, the man was so
particular about that, was her only protest.
She fell asleep the moment her head touched the pillow, and knew
nothing more till after noon, when she opened her eyes, feeling for a
moment entirely bewildered as to where she was. Then, as it all came
back to her mind, she jumped up in a hurry. Her clothes, nicely dried,
lay on a chair beside the bed. She hurried them on, and ran downstairs.
Nobody was visible except little Benny, who told her that his mother
had gone along up to the island.
She said you was to eat some breakfast, he added. It's in the
oven a-keepin' warm. Shall I show you where it is?
Oh, never mind, cried Eyebright. Never mind about breakfast,
Benny. I don't feel hungry.
Ma said you must, declared Benny, opening the oven door and
disclosing a plate full of something very dry and black. Oh, dear,
it's all got burned up.
I'll drink some milk instead, said Eyebright. Who's that coming
up the road, Benny?
It's Pa. I guess he's come back to get you, said Benny, running
out to meet him.
Mr. Downs had come to fetch Eyebright. He looked very grave, she
When she asked eagerly, had papa come yet, Mr. Downs shook his head.
Perhaps they had stayed over in Malachi, to avoid the storm, he said,
and would get in later. He helped Eyebright into the boat, and rowed to
the island without saying another word. The wind had abated, but the
sea was still very rough, and long lines of white surf were breaking on
the rocks and beaches.
The kitchen looked very queer and crowded, for Mr. Downs had brought
down a mattress from upstairs, and made a bed on the floor, upon which
Eyebright's man was now sleeping. His wet clothes had been changed
for some dry ones belonging to Mr. Bright, and, altogether, he looked
far less wild and forlorn than he had appeared to be the night before,
though he evidently was seriously ill. Mrs. Downs didn't think his arm
was broken; but she couldn't be sure, and he was sent up the shore to
fetch Dr. Treat, the natural bone-setter. There was no regular doctor
The natural bone-setter pronounced the arm not broken, but badly cut
and bruised, and the shoulder dislocated. He tied it up with a liniment
of his own invention, but both fever and rheumatism followed, and for
some days the stranger tossed in pain and delirium. Mrs. Downs stayed
on the island to nurse him, and both she and Eyebright had their hands
full, which was well, for it helped them to endure the suspense of the
next week as nothing else could have done.
It was not for some time, even after that dreadful week, that they
gave up the hope that Captain Jim had waited over in Malachi and would
appear with the next fair wind. Then a sloop put in, bringing the
certain news that he and Mr. Bright had sailed about two hours before
the storm began. After that, the only chanceand that a vague
onewas, that the boat might have landed on the coast farther below,
or, blown out to sea, been picked up by some passing ship. Days passed
in this hope. Whenever Eyebright could be spared for a moment, she
always ran to the cliff on the sea-side, in the hope of seeing a ship
sailing in with papa on board, or news of him. She never spoke as if
there was any doubt that he would come in the end, and Mrs. Downs,
dreading to cloud her hopefulness, replied always as confidently as she
could, and tried to be hopeful, too.
So a fortnight passed over the busy, anxious household, and poor
Eyebrightthough her words were still courageouswas losing heart,
and had begun to feel that a cold, dreadful wave of sorrow was poising
itself a little way off, and might presently break all over her, when,
one day, as she stood by the bedside of their patient,much better now
and quite in his senses,he looked at her with a sudden start of
recognition, and said:
Why, I know you. You are Mr. Bright's little girl,are you not?
You are Eyebright! Why did I not recognize you before? Don't you
recollect me at all? Don't you know who I am?
And, somehow, the words and the pleasant tone of voice, and the look
which accompanied them made him look different, all at once, to the
child, and natural, and Eyebright did know him.
It was Mr. Joyce!
CHAPTER XII. TRANSPLANTED.
It is strange that I did not recognize you before, said Mr. Joyce
next day; and yet not so strange either, for you have grown and
altered very much since we met, two years and a half ago.
He might well say so. Eyebright had altered very much. She was as
tall as Mrs. Downs now, and the fatigue and anxiety of the last
fortnight had robbed her of her childish look and made her seem older
than she really was. Any one might have taken her for a girl of
seventeen, instead of fourteen-and-a-half. She and Mr. Joyce had had
several long talks, during which he learned all about their leaving
Tunxet, about her anxiety for her father, and, for the first time, the
full story of the eventful night which had brought him to Causey
Island. He was greatly startled and shocked when he comprehended what
danger Eyebright had run in doing his errand to the village. My dear,
dear child, he said; you did me a service I shall never forget. I
could never have forgiven myself had you lost your life in doing it. If
I had had my senses about me I would not have let you go; pray believe
that. That unlucky parcel came near to costing more than it's worth,
for it was on its account that I set out to row over from Malachi that
To take the stage? suggested Eyebright.
Yesto catch the stage. The parcel had money in it, and it was of
great consequence that it should reach Atterburywhere I liveas soon
as possible. You look curious, as if you wanted to hear more. You like
stories still, I see. I remember how you begged me to tell you one that
night in Tunxet.
Yes, I like them dearly. But I hardly ever hear any now. There is
no one up here to tell them.
Well, this isn't much of a story, or rather it would be a long one
enough if I gave the whole of it; but the part which I can tell isn't
much. Once upon a time there was a thief, and he stole a quantity of
money out of a bank. It was the Atterbury Bank, of which I am the
president. The theft came at the worst possible time, and there was
great danger, if the money could not be recovered, that the bank would
have to stop payment. Fortunately, we got a clue to the thief's
whereabouts, and I started in search of him, and caught him in a little
village in Canada where he had hidden himself away, and was feeling
quite safeWhat makes you look so excited?
It is so interesting, said Eyebright. Weren't you a bit
afraid when you saw him? Did he have a pistol?
Pistol? No. Ah, you are thinking of the thieves in story-books, I
see,terrible villains with masks and blunderbusses. The kind we have
nowadays are quite different,pretty young men, with nice mustaches
and curly hair, who are very particular about the fit of their gloves
and what kind of cigars they smoke. That's the sort who make off with
bank money. This thief of ours was a young fellow, only a few years
older than my Charley, whom I had known all my life, and his father
before him. I would a great deal rather have had it one of the
old-fashioned kind with a blunderbuss. Well, I found him, and I got
back the moneythe bulk of it. A part he had spent. Having secured it,
my first thought was how to get home quickest, for every day's delay
made a great difference to the bank. I had just time to drive over and
catch the Portland steamer, but my wagon broke down six miles from
Malachi, and when I got in she had been gone an hour and a half. I made
inquiries, and found that the Scrapplehead stage started next morning,
so I hired a boat and undertook to row across. It was not storming
then. The man who let the boat did say that the weather looked 'kind of
unsartin,' but I could see no change; it was thick and murky, but it
had been that for days back, and I was in such haste to get in, that I
should probably have tried it had it looked worse than it did. The
distance is not great, and I am used to rowing. Only God's mercy saved
me from capsizing when the first squall struck the boat. After that, I
have only confused memories. All I could do was to keep the boat head
on to the waves, and it was so intensely dark that I could see nothing.
I must have been rowing for hours in the blackness, without the least
idea where I was or which way I was going, when I saw a light moving
toward me. That, from what you say, must have been your lantern. I had
just strength left to pull toward it, and the waves carried me on to
the beach. My arm was all right then. I must have hurt it when I fell
over the side of the boat. It was a miraculous escape, and I believe
that I owe my life to the fact of your coming down as you did. I shall
never forget that, Eyebright.
People often say such things in the warm-heartedness of a great
deliverance from danger, or recovery from sickness, and when they get
well again, or the danger fades from their minds, they cool off a
little. But Mr. Joyce did not cool; he meant all he said. And very soon
after came the opportunity of proving his sincerity, for the great wave
of trouble, which Eyebright had dimly felt and dreaded, broke just then
and fell upon her. The boat in which Captain Jim Downs and her father
had sailed was picked up far down the coast, floating bottom upward,
and no doubt remained that both had lost their lives in the storm of
that dreadful night.
How the poor child could have borne this terrible news without Mr.
Joyce at hand to help her, I cannot imagine. She was almost
broken-hearted, and grew so thin and pale that it was pitiful to see.
Her sorrow was all for papa; she did not realize as yet the loss which
had fallen on herself; but it would have been hard to find in the world
a little girl left in a more desolate position. In losing papa she lost
every thing that she hadhome, protection, support. Nobody wanted her;
she belonged to nobody. She could not stay on the island; she could not
go back to Tunxet; there was no one in the worldunless it was
Wealthyto whom she had the right to go for help or advice; and
Wealthy herself was a poor woman, with little in her power to give
except advice. Eyebright instinctively dreaded the idea of meeting
Wealthy, for she knew that Wealthy would think if she did not
say it, that it was all papa's fault; that he ought never to have taken
her to Maine, and the thought of having papa blamed hurt her terribly.
These anxieties as yet were all swallowed up in grief for papa, but
whenever she happened to think about herself, her mind grew perfectly
bewildered and she could not in the least see what she was to do.
And now what a comfort Mr. Joyce was to her! He was nearly well now,
and in a great hurry to get back to his business; but nothing would
have induced him to leave the poor child in such trouble, and he stayed
on and on, devoting himself to her all day long, soothing her, telling
her sweet things about heaven and God's goodness and love, letting her
talk as much as she liked of papa, and not trying even to check the
crying which such talks always brought on. Eyebright responded to this
kindness with all her warm little heart. She learned to love Mr. Joyce
dearly, and turned to him and clung to him as if he had been a friend
always instead of for a few days only. But all this time her future
remained unsettled, and she was at the same time too inexperienced and
too much oppressed with sorrow to be able to think about it or make any
Other people were thinking about it, however. Mrs. Downs talked the
matter over with her husband, and told Mr. Joyce that He was willing
she should take Eyebright, provided her folks, if she had any, would
consent to have her bound to them till she was of age. They never had
kept help, and she didn't need any now; it wasn't for that she wanted
the child, and as for the binding out, 'twasn't nothing but a
formality, only Mr. Downs was made that way, and liked to have things
done regular and legal. He set store by Eyebright, just as she did
herself, and they'd see that she had a comfortable home and was well
treated in every way. Mrs. Downs meant kindly, but Mr. Joyce had other
schemes for Eyebright. As soon as the fact of her father's death became
certain, he had written to his wife, and he only waited an answer to
propose his plan. It came at last, and as soon as he had read it, he
went in search of Eyebright, who was sitting, as she often did now, on
the bank over the bathing-beach, looking sorrowfully off toward the
I have a letter from home, he said, sitting down beside her, and
I find that I must go back at once,day after to-morrow at latest.
Oh, must you? said Eyebright, in a voice which sounded like a sob.
She hid her face on his arm as she spoke, and he knew that she was
Yes; but don't cry, my dear child. I don't mean to leave you here
alone. That is not my plan at all. I want you to come with me. Long
ago, I wrote to my wife to propose this plan, and I only waited to hear
from her before telling you about it. Will you come and live with us,
Eyebright? I can't take your father's place to you,nobody could do
that, and it wouldn't be right they should; but we'll all do our best
to make you happy and at home, and you shall be just like our own girl
if you'll come. What do you say, my dear? Will you?
How kindhow kind you are! replied Eyebright, in a dazed,
wondering way. I can't think what makes you so good to me, dear Mr.
Joyce. But do you think I ought to come? I'm afraid I should be
troublesome. Wealthy used to say 'that other folks's children always
were troublesome,' and that it was mean to 'settle down' on people.
Never mind Wealthy or her maxims, said Mr. Joyce, with a smile.
We'll risk your being troublesome, Eyebright. Will you come?
Do you think papa would have wished to have me? asked Eyebright,
wistfully. There's nobody for me to ask now except you, you know. Papa
always hated 'being under obligations' to people. If I stay with Mrs.
Downs, she added, timidly, I can work and help her, and then I shan't
be a burden. I'm afraid there isn't any thing I can do to help if I go
Oh, Mrs. Downs has told you of her plan, has she, said Mr. Joyce,
half vexed. Now, listen, my child. I do really and seriously think
that your father, were he here, would prefer that you should go with
me. If you stay with Mrs. Downs, you must give up your education
entirely. She is a kind woman and really fond of you, I think; but with
her you can have no advantages of any sort, and no chance to fit
yourself for any higher sort of work than house-work. With me you will
have the opportunity of going to an excellent school, and, if you do
your best, by the time you are twenty-one you will be able to teach,
and support yourself in that way, if it becomes necessary. And, my
dear, you are mistaken in thinking that there is nothing you can do to
help us. We have never had a daughter, but we always have wished for
one. My wife and I are getting on in life, and there are lots of ways
in which a young girl will cheer and brighten us up, and help to make
the house pleasant for Charley. It is dull for a boy with no sisters,
and only an old father and mother. So, you see, we really are in need
of a girl, and you are just the girl we need. So, will you come?
Oh, I'll come gladly! cried Eyebright, yielding to the
pleasantness of the thought. I'd rather live with you than anybody
else in the world, Mr. Joyce, if only you are sure it is right.
It was settled from that moment, though Eyebright still felt a
little qualm of shyness and fear at the thought of the unknown Mrs.
Joyce. How horrible it would be if she didn't like me when I get
there! she said to herself.
Only one more day at Causey Island, and that a very busy and
confused one. The little house, which it had taken so many days to get
in order, was all pulled to pieces and dismantled in a few hours. Some
things, such as papa's desk, and Eyebright's own special chair, Mr.
Joyce ordered packed, and sent after them to Atterbury; the rest were
left to be sold, or perhaps let with the cottage, if any one should
hire it. Several articles, at his suggestion, Eyebright gave to Mrs.
Downs, and she gratified Mr. Downs extremely by making him a present of
You couldn't have done nothing to please me better, he said.
It'll come real handy to have another boat, and we shall think a heap
of its being yours. And, I'll tell you what, we'll just change its
name, and call it 'The Eyebright,' after you. The first spare day I
get, I'll paint the name on the stern, so's we'll always be reminded of
you whenever we see it.
This was quite a flight of fancy for Mr. Downs.
By sunset the house was cleared of all that was to be taken away,
and Eyebright's trunk packed and locked. A very little trunk it was,
and all it held very old and shabby. Even Mrs. Downs shook her head and
said the things were hardly worth taking; but Eyebright didn't much
mind. Her head was full of other thoughts, and, beside, she had learned
to rely on Mr. Joyce as a helper out of all difficulties, and she was
content to leave herself and her future wants to him.
So, at early dawning of the third day, they left the island, rowing
down to the village in the newly christened Eyebright, now the
property of Mr. Downs. The good-byes had been taken the evening before,
and Eyebright did not turn her head, as they glided away, to look at
the green tufted shore or the blue sea, bluer than ever in the calm
hush of a cloudless sunrise. Very steadily and carefully she rowed,
dipping her oars, and feathering, as papa had taught her, as if only
intent on doing her task as well as possible for this the last time.
But later, after they reached the village, when the farewells had all
been spoken, the Downs family kissed, and herself and Mr. Joyce were in
the stage-wagon ready to start, she turned again for one moment, and
her eyes sought out the blue-green outline which they knew so well.
There it lay, with the calm waters all about it, the home which had
been at the same time so hard and so pleasant, and was now so sad.
Tears rushed to her eyes as she gazed, and she whispered to herself so
softly that no one else could hear, Good-by. Good-by, papa.
How strange and yet how familiar, the road seemed!the very road
over which she and papa had passed less than two years before. It was
the one journey of her life, and she recollected every thing perfectly.
There was the nameless village, looking exactly the same, but no longer
nameless; for a wooden board was suspended over the steamboat landing,
with Pocobasset painted upon it in large letters. Pretty soon the
steamboat came along, the same identical steamboat, and down the river
they went, past all the tiny islands and wooded capes which she
remembered so well; only the light was of sunset now instead of
sun-rising, and the trees, which then were tinged with coming spring,
now bore the red and yellow leaves of autumn. There was the
good-natured stewardess and the captain,nobody was changed,nothing
had happened, as it seemed, except to herself.
They left the boat, very early in the morning, at a point some fifty
miles short of that from which she and papa had embarked, and,
travelling all day, reached Atterbury late on the second afternoon.
Eyebright had plenty of time to recall her dread of Mrs. Joyce as they
drove up from the station. The town was large and thriving, and looked
like a pleasant one. There were many white-painted, green-blinded
houses, with neat court-yards, of the kind always to be found in New
England villages; but among these appeared, here and there, a quaint,
old-fashioned mansion; and the elm-shaded streets gave glimpses of
pretty country beyond, woodlands, cultivated valley-lands, and an
encircling line of hills with softly rounded outlines. Eyebright
thought it a delightful-looking place. They drew up before a wide,
ample house, whose garden blazed with late flowers, and Mr. Joyce,
lifting her out, hurried up the gravel walk, she following timidly,
threw open the front door, and called loudly: Mother! Mother! where
are you, Mother?
At the call, a stout little lady, in a pink-ribboned cap, hurried
out of a room at one side of the hall.
Oh, Benjamin, is it really you? My dear husband. Well, I am
glad; and she gave him such a kiss. Then, turning to Eyebright,
she said in the kindest voice,
And this is your little girl, is it? Why, Benjamin, she is taller
than I am! My dear, I am very glad to see you; very glad, indeed.
Father says you are his girl; but you must be mine, too, and
learn to love the old lady just as fast as you can.
Was not this a delightful reception for a weary, journey-stained
little traveller? Eyebright returned the kiss with one equally warm,
and all her fears of Mrs. Joyce fled for ever.
You shall go right upstairs, said this new friend; tea will be
ready soon, and I know you are longing for some cold water to wash off
the dust. It's the most refreshing thing always after a journey.
She led the way, and left Eyebright to herself in a little bedroom.
Such a pretty bedroom it was! Eyebright felt sure at once that it had
been got ready expressly for herself. It was just such a room as a
young girl fancies, with a dainty white bed, white curtains at the
window, a white-frilled toilet-table, and on the toilet-table a smart
blue pincushion, with Welcome stuck upon it in shining pins. Even the
books on the table seemed to have been chosen to suit her taste, for
there lay The Dove in the Eagle's Nest; The Wide Wide World; The
Daisy Chain, in two fat blue volumes; and Mrs. Whitney's charming tale
of We Girls. She peeped at one title after another with a little jump
of satisfaction. How long, how very long it was since she had had a new
story-book to read. A whole feast of enjoyment seemed shut up inside
those fascinating covers. But she would not nibble the feast now; and
closing The Daisy Chain, begun to unpack her handbag.
She opened the top bureau-drawer, and said, Oh! quite aloud, for
there appeared a row of neat little linen collars and cuffs, some
pretty black neck-ties, a nubè of fleecy white wool, and a couple of
cunning paper boxes with the jeweller's mark on their lids. Could they
be meant for her? She ventured to peep. One box held a pair of jet
sleeve-buttons; the other, a small locket of shining jet, with a ribbon
drawn through its ring, all ready for wear. She was still wondering
over these discoveries, when a little tap sounded on the door, followed
immediately by the appearance of Mrs. Joyce.
I just came to see if you had all you wanted, she said. Oh, you
have found those little duds. I knew, from what Father wrote, that you
couldn't get any thing in the place where you were, so I chose those
few little things, and to-morrow we'll see what more you want. Then,
cutting short Eyebright's thanks, she opened the closet door and called
out: Let me have your jacket to hang up, my dear. There's some shelves
at this end for your hats. And now I'll help you unpack. You'll never
begin to feel at home till you're all unpacked and put away. Nobody
It was a real satisfaction to Mrs. Joyce to notice how few clothes
Eyebright possessed, and how shabby they were. All the time that she
folded, and arranged, she was saying to herself, gleefully She wants
this, she needs that: she must have all sorts of things at once.
To-morrow I'll buy her a nice Henrietta cloth, and a cashmere for every
day, and a pretty wrap of some kind and a hat.
She betrayed the direction of her thoughts by turning suddenly with
What sized gloves do you wear, my dear?
I don't know, was the reply. I haven't had any gloves for two
years, except a pair of worsted mittens last winter.
Gracious! said Mrs. Joyce, but I think she was rather pleased than
otherwise. The truth was, all her life long she had been spoiling for
a daughter to pet and make much of, and now, at last, her chance had
come. Boys are all very well, she told Mr. Joyce that night. But
once they get into roundabouts, there is absolutely nothing more which
their mothers can do for them in the way of clothes. Girls are
different. I always knew that I should like a girl to look after, and
this seems a dear child, Benjamin. I'm sure I shall be fond of her.
The tea-bell rang in the midst of the unpacking; but, as Mrs. Joyce
observed, they had the rest of the week before them, and it didn't
matter a bit; so she hurried Eyebright downstairs, and into a cheerful
dining-room. Cheerfulness seemed the main characteristic of the Joyce
establishment. It was not at all an elegant house,not even, I am
sorry to say, a tasteful one. Nothing could possibly be uglier or more
common-place than the furniture, the curtains, or the flaps of green
reps above the curtains, known to village circles as lamberkins, and
the pride of Mrs. Joyce's heart. The carpets and wall paper had no
affinity with each other, and both would have horrified an artist in
home decoration. But everywhere, all through the house, were neatness,
solid comfort, and that spirit of family affection which makes any
house pleasant, no matter how pretty or how ugly it may be; and this
atmosphere of loving-kindness was as reviving to Eyebright's drooping
spirits as real sunshine is to a real plant, drenched and beaten down
by heavy storms. She felt its warmth through and through, and from the
first it did her good.
Mr. Joyce had just asked a blessing, and was proceeding to cut the
smoking beefsteak before him, when the door opened, and a tall boy,
with curly hair and a bright manly face, hurried in.
Why, father, I didn't know you were here, or I should have been in
long ago. How are you, sir? ending the sentence, to Eyebright's
amazement and amusement both, with a hug and a hearty kiss, which his
father as heartily returned.
Yes; I'm at home again, and very glad and thankful to be here,
said Mr. Joyce. Here's the new sister, Charley; you didn't see her,
did you? Eyebright, this is my son Charley.
My son Charley, like most boys of sixteen, was shy with girls whom
he was not acquainted with. He shook hands cordially, but he said
little; only he watched Eyebright when she was not observing, and his
eyes were very friendly. He liked her face, and thought her pretty,
which was certainly very good of him, for she was looking her
worsttired and pale, with none of her usual sparkle, and dressed in
the water-proof suit which was not at all becoming.
So here, in this secure and kindly haven, I think we may leave our
little storm-tossed girl, with the safe assurance that she will be
tenderly and wisely cared for. I know that a few among you will want to
hear more. No story was ever written so long or so conclusive, that
some child-reader did not pop up at the end with, Oh, but just tell us
this one thing. I cannot satisfy such; still, for their benefit, I
will just hint at a remark made by Mrs. Joyce some months later. She
and Mr. Joyce were sitting on the porch, and Eyebright, who had grown
as dear as a daughter to the old lady's heart, was playing croquet with
[Illustration: Eyebright, who had grown as dear as a daughter to the
old lady, was playing croquet with Charley.PAGE 246.]
It really does seem the luckiest thing that ever was, your being
shipwrecked on that island, she said. I was almost frightened to
death when I heard about it, but if you hadn't we never should have got
hold of that child as we did, and what a pity that would be? She
certainly is the nicest girl I ever sawso sweet-tempered and loving
and helpful, I don't believe any of us could get along without her now.
How fond she and Charley seem of each other! I can't help thinking
they'll make a match of it when they grow up. It would be an excellent
idea, don't you agree with me, Benjamin? Charley could never find
anybody whom he would like better, and then we should keep Eyebright
with us always.
Mr. Joyce roared with laughter.
She's only fifteen and Charley won't be seventeen till next
Saturday, he said. Don't you think you'd better put off your castles
in the air till they are both a little older, Mother?
Such castles are absurd; still it is by no means impossible that
this may come to pass, and if it should happen to do so, I fancy Mr.
Joyce will be as much pleased as Mother, every whit.