Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories, 1904
A Fortunate Mistake
An Unpremeditated Ceremony
At the Bay Shore Farm
Freda's Adopted Grave
How Don Was Saved
Miss Madeline's Proposal
Miss Sally's Company
Mrs. March's Revenge
Natty of Blue Point
Penelope's Party Waist
The Girl and The Wild Race
The Promise of Lucy Ellen
The Pursuit of the Ideal
The Softening of Miss Cynthia
Them Notorious Pigs
Why Not Ask Miss Price?
A Fortunate Mistake
"Oh, dear! oh, dear!" fretted Nan Wallace, twisting herself about
uneasily on the sofa in her pretty room. "I never thought before that
the days could be so long as they are now."
"Poor you!" said her sister Maude sympathetically. Maude was moving
briskly about the room, putting it into the beautiful order that
Mother insisted on. It was Nan's week to care for their room, but Nan
had sprained her ankle three days ago and could do nothing but lie on
the sofa ever since. And very tired of it, too, was wide-awake, active
"And the picnic this afternoon, too!" she sighed. "I've looked forward
to it all summer. And it's a perfect day—and I've got to stay here
and nurse this foot."
Nan looked vindictively at the bandaged member, while Maude leaned out
of the window to pull a pink climbing rose. As she did so she nodded
to someone in the village street below.
"Who is passing?" asked Nan.
"Is she going to the picnic?" asked Nan indifferently.
"No. She wasn't asked. Of course, I don't suppose she expected to be.
She knows she isn't in our set. She must feel horribly out of place at
school. A lot of the girls say it is ridiculous of her father to send
her to Miss Braxton's private school—a factory overseer's daughter."
"She ought to have been asked to the picnic all the same," said Nan
shortly. "She is in our class if she isn't in our set. Of course I
don't suppose she would have enjoyed herself—or even gone at all, for
that matter. She certainly doesn't push herself in among us. One would
think she hadn't a tongue in her head."
"She is the best student in the class," admitted Maude, arranging her
roses in a vase and putting them on the table at Nan's elbow. "But
Patty Morrison and Wilhelmina Patterson had the most to say about the
invitations, and they wouldn't have her. There, Nannie dear, aren't
those lovely? I'll leave them here to be company for you."
"I'm going to have more company than that," said Nan, thumping her
pillow energetically. "I'm not going to mope here alone all the
afternoon, with you off having a jolly time at the picnic. Write a
little note for me to Florrie Hastings, will you? I'll do as much for
you when you sprain your foot."
"What shall I put in it?" said Maude, rummaging out her portfolio
"Oh, just ask her if she will come down and cheer a poor invalid up
this afternoon. She'll come, I know. And she is such good company. Get
Dickie to run right out and mail it."
"I do wonder if Florrie Hamilton will feel hurt over not being asked
to the picnic," speculated Maude absently as she slipped her note into
an envelope and addressed it.
Florrie Hamilton herself could best have answered that question as she
walked along the street in the fresh morning sunshine. She did feel
hurt—much more keenly than she would acknowledge even to herself. It
was not that she cared about the picnic itself: as Nan Wallace had
said, she would not have been likely to enjoy herself if she had gone
among a crowd of girls many of whom looked down on her and ignored
her. But to be left out when every other girl in the school was
invited! Florrie's lip quivered as she thought of it.
"I'll get Father to let me to go to the public school after vacation,"
she murmured. "I hate going to Miss Braxton's."
Florrie was a newcomer in Winboro. Her father had recently come to
take a position in the largest factory of the small town. For this
reason Florrie was slighted at school by some of the ruder girls and
severely left alone by most of the others. Some, it is true, tried at
the start to be friends, but Florrie, too keenly sensitive to the
atmosphere around her to respond, was believed to be decidedly dull
and mopy. She retreated further and further into herself and was
almost as solitary at Miss Braxton's as if she had been on a desert
"They don't like me because I am plainly dressed and because my father
is not a wealthy man," thought Florrie bitterly. And there was enough
truth in this in regard to many of Miss Braxton's girls to make a very
uncomfortable state of affairs.
"Here's a letter for you, Flo," said her brother Jack at noon. "Got it
at the office on my way home. Who is your swell correspondent?"
Florrie opened the dainty, perfumed note and read it with a face that,
puzzled at first, suddenly grew radiant.
"Listen, Jack," she said excitedly.
"Nan is confined to house, room, and sofa with a sprained
foot. As she will be all alone this afternoon, won't you come
down and spend it with her? She very much wants you to
come—she is so lonesome and thinks you will be just the one
to cheer her up.
"Are you going?" asked Jack.
"Yes—I don't know—I'll think about it," said Florrie absently. Then
she hurried upstairs to her room.
"Shall I go?" she thought. "Yes, I will. I dare say Nan has asked me
just out of pity because I was not invited to the picnic. But even so
it was sweet of her. I've always thought I would like those Wallace
girls if I could get really acquainted with them. They've always been
nice to me, too—I don't know why I am always so tongue-tied and
stupid with them. But I'll go anyway."
That afternoon Mrs. Wallace came into Nan's room.
"Nan, dear, Florrie Hamilton is downstairs asking for you."
"Yes. She said something about a note you sent her this morning. Shall
I ask her to come up?"
"Yes, of course," said Nan lamely. When her mother had gone out she
fell back on her pillows and thought rapidly.
"Florrie Hamilton! Maude must have addressed that note to her by
mistake. But she mustn't know it was a mistake—mustn't suspect it.
Oh, dear! What shall I ever find to talk to her about? She is so quiet
Further reflections were cut short by Florrie's entrance. Nan held out
her hand with a chummy smile.
"It's good of you to give your afternoon up to visiting a cranky
invalid," she said heartily. "You don't know how lonesome I've been
since Maude went away. Take off your hat and pick out the nicest chair
you can find, and let's be comfy."
Somehow, Nan's frank greeting did away with Florrie's embarrassment
and made her feel at home. She sat down in Maude's rocker, then,
glancing over to a vase filled with roses, her eyes kindled with
pleasure. Seeing this, Nan said, "Aren't they lovely? We Wallaces are
very fond of our climbing roses. Our great-grandmother brought the
roots out from England with her sixty years ago, and they grow nowhere
else in this country."
"I know," said Florrie, with a smile. "I recognized them as soon as I
came into the room. They are the same kind of roses as those which
grow about Grandmother Hamilton's house in England. I used to love
"In England! Were you ever in England?"
"Oh, yes," laughed Florrie. "And I've been in pretty nearly every
other country upon earth—every one that a ship could get to, at
"Why, Florrie Hamilton! Are you in earnest?"
"Indeed, yes. Perhaps you don't know that our 'now-mother,' as Jack
says sometimes, is Father's second wife. My own mother died when I was
a baby, and my aunt, who had no children of her own, took me to bring
up. Her husband was a sea-captain, and she always went on his
sea-voyages with him. So I went too. I almost grew up on shipboard. We
had delightful times. I never went to school. Auntie had been a
teacher before her marriage, and she taught me. Two years ago, when I
was fourteen, Father married again, and then he wanted me to go home
to him and Jack and our new mother. So I did, although at first I was
very sorry to leave Auntie and the dear old ship and all our lovely
"Oh, tell me all about them," demanded Nan. "Why, Florrie Hamilton, to
think you've never said a word about your wonderful experiences! I
love to hear about foreign countries from people who have really been
there. Please just talk—and I'll listen and ask questions."
Florrie did talk. I'm not sure whether she or Nan was the more
surprised to find that she could talk so well and describe her travels
so brightly and humorously. The afternoon passed quickly, and when
Florrie went away at dusk, after a dainty tea served up in Nan's room,
it was with a cordial invitation to come again soon.
"I've enjoyed your visit so much," said Nan sincerely. "I'm going down
to see you as soon as I can walk. But don't wait for that. Let us be
good, chummy friends without any ceremony."
When Florrie, with a light heart and a happy smile, had gone, came
Maude, sunburned and glowing from her picnic.
"Such a nice time as we had!" she exclaimed. "Wasn't I sorry to think
of you cooped up here! Did Florrie come?"
"One Florrie did. Maude, you addressed that note to Florrie Hamilton
today instead of Florrie Hastings."
"Nan, surely not! I'm sure—"
"Yes, you did. And she came here. Was I not taken aback at first,
"I was thinking about her when I addressed it, and I must have put her
name down by mistake. I'm so sorry—"
"You needn't be. I haven't been entertained so charmingly for a long
while. Why, Maude, she has travelled almost everywhere—and is so
bright and witty when she thaws out. She didn't seem like the same
girl at all. She is just perfectly lovely!"
"Well, I'm glad you had such a nice time together. Do you know, some
of the girls were very much vexed because she wasn't asked to the
picnic. They said that it was sheer rudeness not to ask her, and that
it reflected on us all, even if Patty and Wilhelmina were responsible
for it. I'm afraid we girls at Miss Braxton's have been getting
snobbish, and some of us are beginning to find it out and be ashamed
"Just wait until school opens," said Nan—vaguely enough, it would
seem. But Maude understood.
However, they did not have to wait until school opened. Long before
that time Winboro girlhood discovered that the Wallace girls were
taking Florrie Hamilton into their lives. If the Wallace girls liked
her, there must be something in the girl more than was at first
thought—thus more than one of Miss Braxton's girls reasoned. And
gradually the other girls found, as Nan had found, that Florrie was
full of fun and an all-round good companion when drawn out of her
diffidence. When Miss Braxton's school reopened Florrie was the class
favourite. Between her and Nan Wallace a beautiful and helpful
friendship had been formed which was to grow and deepen through their
"And all because Maude in a fit of abstraction wrote 'Hamilton' for
'Hastings,'" said Nan to herself one day. But that is something
Florrie Hamilton will never know.
An Unpremeditated Ceremony
Selwyn Grant sauntered in upon the assembled family at the homestead
as if he were returning from an hour's absence instead of a western
sojourn of ten years. Guided by the sound of voices on the still,
pungent autumnal air, he went around to the door of the dining room
which opened directly on the poppy walk in the garden.
Nobody noticed him for a moment and he stood in the doorway looking at
them with a smile, wondering what was the reason of the festal air
that hung about them all as visibly as a garment. His mother sat by
the table, industriously polishing the best silver spoons, which, as
he remembered, were only brought forth upon some great occasion. Her
eyes were as bright, her form as erect, her nose—the Carston
nose—as pronounced and aristocratic as of yore.
Selwyn saw little change in her. But was it possible that the tall,
handsome young lady with the sleek brown pompadour and a nose
unmistakably and plebeianly Grant, who sat by the window doing
something to a heap of lace and organdy in her lap, was the little
curly-headed, sunburned sister of thirteen whom he remembered? The
young man leaning against the sideboard must be Leo, of course; a
fine-looking, broad-shouldered young fellow who made Selwyn think
suddenly that he must be growing old. And there was the little, thin,
grey father in the corner, peering at his newspaper with nearsighted
eyes. Selwyn's heart gave a bound at the sight of him which not even
his mother had caused. Dear old Dad! The years had been kind to him.
Mrs. Grant held up a glistening spoon and surveyed it complacently.
"There, I think that is bright enough even to suit Margaret Graham. I
shall take over the whole two dozen teas and one dozen desserts. I
wish, Bertha, that you would tie a red cord around each of the handles
for me. The Carmody spoons are the same pattern and I shall always be
convinced that Mrs. Carmody carried off two of ours the time that
Jenny Graham was married. I don't mean to take any more risks. And,
Something made the mother look around, and she saw her first-born!
When the commotion was over Selwyn asked why the family spoons were
being rubbed up.
"For the wedding, of course," said Mrs. Grant, polishing her
gold-bowed spectacles and deciding that there was no more time for
tears and sentiment just then. "And there, they're not half done—and
we'll have to dress in another hour. Bertha is no earthly use—she is
so taken up with her bridesmaid finery."
"Wedding? Whose wedding?" demanded Selwyn, in bewilderment.
"Why, Leo's, of course. Leo is to be married tonight. Didn't you get
your invitation? Wasn't that what brought you home?"
"Hand me a chair, quick," implored Selwyn. "Leo, are you going to
commit matrimony in this headlong fashion? Are you sure you're grown
"Six feet is a pretty good imitation of it, isn't it?" grinned Leo.
"Brace up, old fellow. It's not so bad as it might be. She's quite a
respectable girl. We wrote you all about it three weeks ago and broke
the news as gently as possible."
"I left for the East a month ago and have been wandering around
preying on old college chums ever since. Haven't seen a letter. There,
I'm better now. No, you needn't fan me, Sis. Well, no family can get
through the world without its seasons of tribulations. Who is the
party of the second part, little brother?"
"Alice Graham," replied Mrs. Grant, who had a habit of speaking for
her children, none of whom had the Carston nose.
"Alice Graham! That child!" exclaimed Selwyn in astonishment.
Leo roared. "Come, come, Sel, perhaps we're not very progressive here
in Croyden, but we don't actually stand still. Girls are apt to
stretch out some between ten and twenty, you know. You old bachelors
think nobody ever grows up. Why, Sel, you're grey around your
"Too well I know it, but a man's own brother shouldn't be the first to
cast such things up to him. I'll admit, since I come to think of it,
that Alice has probably grown bigger. Is she any better-looking than
she used to be?"
"Alice is a charming girl," said Mrs. Grant impressively. "She is a
beauty and she is also sweet and sensible, which beauties are not
always. We are all very much pleased with Leo's choice. But we have
really no more time to spare just now. The wedding is at seven o'clock
and it is four already."
"Is there anybody you can send to the station for my luggage?" asked
Selwyn. "Luckily I have a new suit, otherwise I shouldn't have the
face to go."
"Well, I must be off," said Mrs. Grant. "Father, take Selwyn away so
that I shan't be tempted to waste time talking to him."
In the library father and son looked at each other affectionately.
"Dad, it's a blessing to see you just the same. I'm a little dizzy
with all these changes. Bertha grown up and Leo within an inch of
being married! To Alice Graham at that, whom I can't think of yet as
anything else than the long-legged, black-eyed imp of mischief she
was when a kiddy. To tell you the truth, Dad, I don't feel in a mood
for going to a wedding at Wish-ton-wish tonight. I'm sure you don't
either. You've always hated fusses. Can't we shirk it?"
They smiled at each other with chummy remembrance of many a family
festival they had "shirked" together in the old days. But Mr. Grant
shook his head. "Not this time, sonny. There are some things a decent
man can't shirk and one of them is his own boy's wedding. It's a
nuisance, but I must go through with it. You'll understand how it is
when you're a family man yourself. By the way, why aren't you a family
man by this time? Why haven't I been put to the bother and
inconvenience of attending your wedding before now, son?"
Selwyn laughed, with a little vibrant note of bitterness in the
laughter, which the father's quick ears detected. "I've been too busy
with law books, Dad, to find me a wife."
Mr. Grant shook his bushy grey head. "That's not the real reason, son.
The world has a wife for every man; if he hasn't found her by the time
he's thirty-five, there's some real reason for it. Well, I don't want
to pry into yours, but I hope it's a sound one and not a mean,
sneaking, selfish sort of reason. Perhaps you'll choose a Madam Selwyn
some day yet. In case you should I'm going to give you a small bit of
good advice. Your mother—now, she's a splendid woman, Selwyn, a
splendid woman. She can't be matched as a housekeeper and she has
improved my finances until I don't know them when I meet them. She's
been a good wife and a good mother. If I were a young man I'd court
her and marry her over again, that I would. But, son, when you pick
a wife pick one with a nice little commonplace nose, not a family
nose. Never marry a woman with a family nose, son."
A woman with a family nose came into the library at this juncture and
beamed maternally upon them both. "There's a bite for you in the
dining room. After you've eaten it you must dress. Mind you brush your
hair well down, Father. The green room is ready for you, Selwyn.
Tomorrow I'll have a good talk with you, but tonight I'll be too busy
to remember you're around. How are we all going to get over to
Wish-ton-wish? Leo and Bertha are going in the pony carriage. It won't
hold a third passenger. You'll have to squeeze in with Father and me
in the buggy, Selwyn."
"By no means," replied Selwyn briskly. "I'll walk over to
Wish-ton-wish. Ifs only half a mile across lots. I suppose the old way
is still open?"
"It ought to be," answered Mr. Grant drily; "Leo has kept it well
trodden. If you've forgotten how it runs he can tell you."
"I haven't forgotten," said Selwyn, a little brusquely. He had his own
reasons for remembering the wood path. Leo had not been the first
Grant to go courting to Wish-ton-wish.
When he started, the moon was rising round and red and hazy in an
eastern hill-gap. The autumn air was mild and spicy. Long shadows
stretched across the fields on his right and silvery mosaics patterned
the floor of the old beechwood lane. Selwyn walked slowly. He was
thinking of Esme Graham or, rather, of the girl who had been Esme
Graham, and wondering if he would see her at the wedding. It was
probable, and he did not want to see her. In spite of ten years'
effort, he did not think he could yet look upon Tom St. Clair's wife
with the proper calm indifference. At the best, it would taint his own
memory of her; he would never again be able to think of her as Esme
Graham but only as Esme St. Clair.
The Grahams had come to Wish-ton-wish eleven years before. There was a
big family of girls of whom the tall, brown-haired Esme was the
oldest. There was one summer during which Selwyn Grant had haunted
Wish-ton-wish, the merry comrade of the younger girls, the boyishly,
silently devoted lover of Esme. Tom St. Clair had always been there
too, in his right as second cousin, Selwyn had supposed. One day he
found out that Tom and Esme had been engaged ever since she was
sixteen; one of her sisters told him. That had been all. He had gone
away soon after, and some time later a letter from home made casual
mention of Tom St. Clair's marriage.
He narrowly missed being late for the wedding ceremony. The bridal
party entered the parlour at Wish-ton-wish at the same moment as he
slipped in by another door. Selwyn almost whistled with amazement at
sight of the bride. That Alice Graham, that tall, stately, blushing
young woman, with her masses of dead-black hair, frosted over by the
film of wedding veil! Could that be the scrawny little tomboy of ten
years ago? She looked not unlike Esme, with that subtle family
resemblance that is quite independent of feature and colouring.
Where was Esme? Selwyn cast his eyes furtively over the assembled
guests while the minister read the marriage ceremony. He recognized
several of the Graham girls but he did not see Esme, although Tom St.
Clair, stout and florid and prosperous-looking, was standing on a
chair in a faraway corner, peering over the heads of the women.
After the turmoil of handshakings and congratulations, Selwyn fled to
the cool, still outdoors, where the rosy glow of Chinese lanterns
mingled with the waves of moonshine to make fairyland. And there he
met her, as she came out of the house by a side door, a tall, slender
woman in some glistening, clinging garment, with white flowers shining
like stars in the coils of her brown hair. In the soft glow she looked
even more beautiful than in the days of her girlhood, and Selwyn's
heart throbbed dangerously at sight of her.
"Esme!" he said involuntarily.
She started, and he had an idea that she changed colour, although it
was too dim to be sure. "Selwyn!" she exclaimed, putting out her
hands. "Why, Selwyn Grant! Is it really you? Or are you such stuff as
dreams are made of? I did not know you were here. I did not know you
He caught her hands and held them tightly, drawing her a little closer
to him, forgetting that she was Tom St. Clair's wife, remembering only
that she was the woman to whom he had given all his love and life's
devotion, to the entire beggaring of his heart.
"I reached home only four hours ago, and was haled straightway here to
Leo's wedding. I'm dizzy, Esme. I can't adjust my old conceptions to
this new state of affairs all at once. It seems ridiculous to think
that Leo and Alice are married. I'm sure they can't be really grown
Esme laughed as she drew away her hands. "We are all ten years older,"
she said lightly.
"Not you. You are more beautiful than ever, Esme. That sunflower
compliment is permissible in an old friend, isn't it?"
"This mellow glow is kinder to me than sunlight now. I am thirty, you
"And I have some grey hairs," he confessed. "I knew I had them but I
had a sneaking hope that other folks didn't until Leo destroyed it
today. These young brothers and sisters who won't stay children are
nuisances. You'll be telling me next thing that 'Baby' is grown up."
"'Baby' is eighteen and has a beau," laughed Esme. "And I give you
fair warning that she insists on being called Laura now. Do you want
to come for a walk with me—down under the beeches to the old lane
gate? I came out to see if the fresh air would do my bit of a headache
good. I shall have to help with the supper later on."
They went slowly across the lawn and turned into a dim, moonlight lane
beyond, their old favourite ramble. Selwyn felt like a man in a dream,
a pleasant dream from which he dreads to awaken. The voices and
laughter echoing out from the house died away behind them and the
great silence of the night fell about them as they came to the old
gate, beyond which was a range of shining, moonlight-misted fields.
For a little while neither of them spoke. The woman looked out across
the white spaces and the man watched the glimmering curve of her neck
and the soft darkness of her rich hair. How virginal, how sacred, she
looked! The thought of Tom St. Clair was a sacrilege.
"It's nice to see you again, Selwyn," said Esme frankly at last.
"There are so few of our old set left, and so many of the babies grown
up. Sometimes I don't know my own world, it has changed so. It's an
uncomfortable feeling. You give me a pleasant sensation of really
belonging here. I'd be lonesome tonight if I dared. I'm going to miss
Alice so much. There will be only Mother and Baby and I left now. Our
family circle has dwindled woefully."
"Mother and Baby and you!" Selwyn felt his head whirling again. "Why,
where is Tom?"
He felt that it was an idiotic question, but it slipped from his
tongue before he could catch it. Esme turned her head and looked at
him wonderingly. He knew that in the sunlight her eyes were as mistily
blue as early meadow violets, but here they looked dark and
"Tom?" she said perplexedly. "Do you mean Tom St. Clair? He is here,
of course, he and his wife. Didn't you see her? That pretty woman in
pale pink, Lil Meredith. Why, you used to know Lil, didn't you? One of
the Uxbridge Merediths?"
To the day of his death Selwyn Grant will firmly believe that if he
had not clutched fast hold of the top bar of the gate he would have
tumbled down on the moss under the beeches in speechless astonishment.
All the surprises of that surprising evening were as nothing to this.
He had a swift conviction that there were no words in the English
language that could fully express his feelings and that it would be a
waste of time to try to find any. Therefore he laid hold of the first
baldly commonplace ones that came handy and said tamely, "I thought
you were married to Tom."
"You—thought—I—was—married—to—Tom!" repeated Esme slowly. "And
have you thought that all these years, Selwyn Grant?"
"Yes, I have. Is it any wonder? You were engaged to Tom when I went
away, Jenny told me you were. And a year later Bertha wrote me a
letter in which she made some reference to Tom's marriage. She didn't
say to whom, but hadn't I the right to suppose it was to you?"
"Oh!" The word was partly a sigh and partly a little cry of
long-concealed, long-denied pain. "It's been all a funny
misunderstanding. Tom and I were engaged once—a boy-and-girl affair
in the beginning. Then we both found out that we had made a
mistake—that what we had thought was love was merely the affection of
good comrades. We broke our engagement shortly before you went away.
All the older girls knew it was broken but I suppose nobody mentioned
the matter to Jen. She was such a child, we never thought about her.
And you've thought I was Tom's wife all this time? It's—funny."
"Funny. You mean tragic! Look here, Esme, I'm not going to risk any
more misunderstanding. There's nothing for it but plain talk when
matters get to such a state as this. I love you—and I've loved you
ever since I met you. I went away because I could not stay here and
see you married to another man. I've stayed away for the same reason.
Esme, is it too late? Did you ever care anything for me?"
"Yes, I did," she said slowly.
"Do you care still?" he asked.
She hid her face against his shoulder. "Yes," she whispered.
"Then we'll go back to the house and be married," he said joyfully.
Esme broke away and stared at him. "Married!"
"Yes, married. We've wasted ten years and we're not going to waste
another minute. We're not, I say."
"Selwyn! It's impossible."
"I have expurgated that word from my dictionary. It's the very
simplest thing when you look at it in an unprejudiced way. Here is a
ready-made wedding and decorations and assembled guests, a minister on
the spot and a state where no licence is required. You have a very
pretty new dress on and you love me. I have a plain gold ring on my
little finger that will fit you. Aren't all the conditions fulfilled?
Where is the sense of waiting and having another family upheaval in a
few weeks' time?"
"I understand why you have made such a success of the law," said Esme,
"There are no buts. Come with me, Esme. I'm going to hunt up your
mother and mine and talk to them."
Half an hour later an astonishing whisper went circulating among the
guests. Before they could grasp its significance Tom St. Clair and
Jen's husband, broadly smiling, were hustling scattered folk into the
parlour again and making clear a passage in the hall. The minister
came in with his blue book, and then Selwyn Grant and Esme Graham
walked in hand in hand.
When the second ceremony was over, Mr. Grant shook his son's hand
vigorously. "There's no need to wish you happiness, son; you've got
it. And you've made one fuss and bother do for both weddings, that's
what I call genius. And"—this in a careful whisper, while Esme was
temporarily obliterated in Mrs. Grant's capacious embrace—"she's got
the right sort of a nose. But your mother is a grand woman, son, a
At the Bay Shore Farm
The Newburys were agog with excitement over the Governor's picnic. As
they talked it over on the verandah at sunset, they felt that life
could not be worth living to those unfortunate people who had not been
invited to it. Not that there were many of the latter in Claymont, for
it was the Governor's native village, and the Claymonters were getting
up the picnic for him during his political visit to the city fifteen
Each of the Newburys had a special reason for wishing to attend the
Governor's picnic. Ralph and Elliott wanted to see the Governor
himself. He was a pet hero of theirs. Had he not once been a Claymont
lad just like themselves? Had he not risen to the highest office in
the state by dint of sheer hard work and persistency? Had he not won a
national reputation by his prompt and decisive measures during the big
strike at Campden? And was he not a man, personally and politically,
whom any boy might be proud to imitate? Yes, to all of these
questions. Hence to the Newbury boys the interest of the picnic
centred in the Governor.
"I shall feel two inches taller just to get a look at him," said Ralph
"He isn't much to look at," said Frances, rather patronizingly. "I saw
him once at Campden—he came to the school when his daughter was
graduated. He is bald and fat. Oh, of course, he is famous and all
that! But I want to go to the picnic to see Sara Beaumont. She's to be
there with the Chandlers from Campden, and Mary Spearman, who knows
her by sight, is going to point her out to me. I suppose it would be
too much to expect to be introduced to her. I shall probably have to
content myself with just looking at her."
Ralph resented hearing the Governor called bald and fat. Somehow it
seemed as if his hero were being reduced to the level of common clay.
"That's like a girl," he said loftily; "thinking more about a woman
who writes books than about a man like the Governor!"
"I'd rather see Sara Beaumont than forty governors," retorted Frances.
"Why, she's famous—and her books are perfect! If I could ever hope to
write anything like them! It's been the dream of my life just to see
her ever since I read The Story of Idlewild. And now to think that
it is to be fulfilled! It seems too good to be true that
tomorrow—tomorrow, Newburys,—I shall see Sara Beaumont!"
"Well," said Cecilia gently—Cecilia was always gentle even in her
enthusiasm—"I shall like to see the Governor and Sara Beaumont too.
But I'm going to the picnic more for the sake of seeing Nan Harris
than anything else. It's three years since she went away, you know,
and I've never had another chum whom I love so dearly. I'm just
looking forward to meeting her and talking over all our dear, good old
times. I do wonder if she has changed much. But I am sure I shall know
"By her red hair and her freckles?" questioned Elliott teasingly.
"They'll be the same as ever, I'll be bound."
Cecilia flushed and looked as angry as she could—which isn't saying
much, after all. She didn't mind when Elliott teased her about her pug
nose and her big mouth, but it always hurt her when he made fun of
Nan's family had once lived across the street from the Newburys. Nan
and Cecilia had been playmates all through childhood, but when both
girls were fourteen the Harrises had moved out west. Cecilia had never
seen Nan since. But now the latter had come east for a visit, and was
with her relatives in Campden. She was to be at the picnic, and
Cecilia's cup of delight brimmed over.
Mrs. Newbury came briskly into the middle of their sunset plans. She
had been down to the post office, and she carried an open letter in
"Mother," said Frances, straightening up anxiously, "you have a
pitying expression on your face. Which of us is it for—speak
out—don't keep us in suspense. Has Mary Spearman told you that Sara
Beaumont isn't going to be at the picnic?"
"Or that the Governor isn't going to be there?"
"Or that Nan Harris isn't coming?"
"Or that something's happened to put off the affair altogether?" cried
Ralph and Cecilia and Elliott all at once.
Mrs. Newbury laughed. "No, it's none of those things. And I don't know
just whom I do pity, but it is one of you girls. This is a letter from
Grandmother Newbury. Tomorrow is her birthday, and she wants either
Frances or Cecilia to go out to Ashland on the early morning train and
spend the day at the Bay Shore Farm."
There was silence on the verandah of the Newburys for the space of ten
seconds. Then Frances burst out with: "Mother, you know neither of us
can go tomorrow. If it were any other day! But the day of the picnic!"
"I'm sorry, but one of you must go," said Mrs. Newbury firmly. "Your
father said so when I called at the store to show him the letter.
Grandmother Newbury would be very much hurt and displeased if her
invitation were disregarded—you know that. But we leave it to
yourselves to decide which one shall go."
"Don't do that," implored Frances miserably. "Pick one of us
yourself—pull straws—anything to shorten the agony."
"No; you must settle it for yourselves," said Mrs. Newbury. But in
spite of herself she looked at Cecilia. Cecilia was apt to be looked
at, someway, when things were to be given up. Mostly it was Cecilia
who gave them up. The family had come to expect it of her; they all
said that Cecilia was very unselfish.
Cecilia knew that her mother looked at her, but did not turn her face.
She couldn't, just then; she looked away out over the hills and tried
to swallow something that came up in her throat.
"Glad I'm not a girl," said Ralph, when Mrs. Newbury had gone into the
house. "Whew! Nothing could induce me to give up that picnic—not if a
dozen Grandmother Newburys were offended. Where's your sparkle gone
"It's too bad of Grandmother Newbury," declared Frances angrily.
"Oh, Fran, she didn't know about the picnic," said Cecilia—but still
without turning round.
"Well, she needn't always be so annoyed if we don't go when we are
invited. Another day would do just as well," said Frances shortly.
Something in her voice sounded choked too. She rose and walked to the
other end of the verandah, where she stood and scowled down the road;
Ralph and Elliott, feeling uncomfortable, went away.
The verandah was very still for a little while. The sun had quite set,
and it was growing dark when Frances came back to the steps.
"Well, what are you going to do about it?" she said shortly. "Which of
us is to go to the Bay Shore?"
"I suppose I had better go," said Cecilia slowly—very slowly indeed.
Frances kicked her slippered toe against the fern jardinière.
"You may see Nan Harris somewhere else before she goes back," she said
"Yes, I may," said Cecilia. She knew quite well that she would not.
Nan would return to Campden on the special train, and she was going
back west in three days.
It was hard to give the picnic up, but Cecilia was used to giving
things up. Nobody ever expected Frances to give things up; she was so
brilliant and popular that the good things of life came her way
naturally. It never seemed to matter so much about quiet Cecilia.
Cecilia cried herself to sleep that night. She felt that it was
horribly selfish of her to do so, but she couldn't help it. She awoke
in the morning with a confused idea that it was very late. Why hadn't
Mary called her, as she had been told to do?
Through the open door between her room and Frances's she could see
that the latter's bed was empty. Then she saw a little note, addressed
to her, pinned on the pillow.
Dear Saint Cecilia [it ran], when you read this I shall be on
the train to Ashland to spend the day with Grandmother
Newbury. You've been giving up things so often and so long
that I suppose you think you have a monopoly of it; but you
see you haven't. I didn't tell you this last night because I
hadn't quite made up my mind. But after you went upstairs, I
fought it out to a finish and came to a decision. Sara
Beaumont would keep, but Nan Harris wouldn't, so you must go
to the picnic. I told Mary to call me instead of you this
morning, and now I'm off. You needn't spoil your fun pitying
me. Now that the wrench is over, I feel a most delightful glow
of virtuous satisfaction!
If by running after Frances Cecilia could have brought her back,
Cecilia would have run. But a glance at her watch told her that
Frances must already be halfway to Ashland. So she could only accept
"Well, anyway," she thought, "I'll get Mary to point Sara Beaumont out
to me, and I'll store up a description of her in my mind to tell Fran
tonight. I must remember to take notice of the colour of her eyes.
Fran has always been exercised about that."
It was mid-forenoon when Frances arrived at Ashland station.
Grandmother Newbury's man, Hiram, was waiting for her with the pony
carriage, and Frances heartily enjoyed the three-mile drive to the Bay
Grandmother Newbury came to the door to meet her granddaughter. She
was a tall, handsome old lady with piercing black eyes and thick white
hair. There was no savour of the traditional grandmother of caps and
knitting about her. She was like a stately old princess and, much as
her grandchildren admired her, they were decidedly in awe of her.
"So it is Frances," she said, bending her head graciously that Frances
might kiss her still rosy cheek. "I expected it would be Cecilia. I
heard after I had written you that there was to be a gubernatorial
picnic in Claymont today, so I was quite sure it would be Cecilia. Why
isn't it Cecilia?"
Frances flushed a little. There was a meaning tone in Grandmother
"Cecilia was very anxious to go to the picnic today to see an old
friend of hers," she answered. "She was willing to come here, but you
know, Grandmother, that Cecilia is always willing to do the things
somebody else ought to do, so I decided I would stand on my rights as
'Miss Newbury' for once and come to the Bay Shore."
Grandmother Newbury smiled. She understood. Frances had always been
her favourite granddaughter, but she had never been blind,
clear-sighted old lady that she was, to the little leaven of
easy-going selfishness in the girl's nature. She was pleased to see
that Frances had conquered it this time.
"I'm glad it is you who have come—principally because you are
cleverer than Cecilia," she said brusquely. "Or at least you are the
better talker. And I want a clever girl and a good talker to help me
entertain a guest today. She's clever herself, and she likes young
girls. She is a particular friend of your Uncle Robert's family down
south, and that is why I have asked her to spend a few days with me.
You'll like her."
Here Grandmother Newbury led Frances into the sitting-room.
"Mrs. Kennedy, this is my granddaughter, Frances Newbury. I told you
about her and her ambitions last night. You see, Frances, we have
talked you over."
Mrs. Kennedy was a much younger woman than Grandmother Newbury. She
was certainly no more than fifty and, in spite of her grey hair,
looked almost girlish, so bright were her dark eyes, so clear-cut and
fresh her delicate face, and so smart her general appearance. Frances,
although not given to sudden likings, took one for Mrs. Kennedy. She
thought she had never seen so charming a face.
She found herself enjoying the day immensely. In fact, she forgot the
Governor's picnic and Sara Beaumont altogether. Mrs. Kennedy proved to
be a delightful companion. She had travelled extensively and was an
excellent raconteur. She had seen much of men and women and
crystallized her experiences into sparkling little sentences and
epigrams which made Frances feel as if she were listening to one of
the witty people in clever books. But under all her sparkling wit
there was a strongly felt undercurrent of true womanly sympathy and
kind-heartedness which won affection as speedily as her brilliance won
admiration. Frances listened and laughed and enjoyed. Once she found
time to think that she would have missed a great deal if she had not
come to Bay Shore Farm that day. Surely talking to a woman like Mrs.
Kennedy was better than looking at Sara Beaumont from a distance.
"I've been 'rewarded' in the most approved storybook style," she
thought with amusement.
In the afternoon, Grandmother Newbury packed Mrs. Kennedy and Frances
off for a walk.
"The old woman wants to have her regular nap," she told them.
"Frances, take Mrs. Kennedy to the fern walk and show her the famous
'Newbury Bubble' among the rocks. I want to be rid of you both until
Frances and Mrs. Kennedy went to the fern walk and the beautiful
"Bubble"—a clear, round spring of amber-hued water set down in a cup
of rock overhung with ferns and beeches. It was a spot Frances had
always loved. She found herself talking freely to Mrs. Kennedy of her
hopes and plans. The older woman drew the girl out with tactful
sympathy until she found that Frances's dearest ambition was some day
to be a writer of books like Sara Beaumont.
"Not that I expect ever to write books like hers," she said hurriedly,
"and I know it must be a long while before I can write anything worth
while at all. But do you think—if I try hard and work hard—that I
might do something in this line some day?"
"I think so," said Mrs. Kennedy, smiling, "if, as you say, you are
willing to work hard and study hard. There will be a great deal of
both and many disappointments. Sara Beaumont herself had a hard time
at first—and for a very long first too. Her family was poor, you
know, and Sara earned enough money to send away her first manuscripts
by making a pot of jelly for a neighbour. The manuscripts came back,
and Sara made more jelly and wrote more stories. Still they came back.
Once she thought she had better give up writing stories and stick to
the jelly alone. There did seem some little demand for the one and
none at all for the other. But she determined to keep on until she
either succeeded or proved to her own satisfaction that she could make
better jelly than stories. And you see she did succeed. But it means
perseverance and patience and much hard work. Prepare yourself for
that, Frances, and one day you will win your place. Then you will look
back to the 'Newbury Bubble,' and you will tell me what a good
prophetess I was."
They talked longer—an earnest, helpful talk that went far to inspire
Frances's hazy ambition with a definite purpose. She understood that
she must not write merely to win fame for herself or even for the
higher motive of pure pleasure in her work. She must aim, however
humbly, to help her readers to higher planes of thought and
endeavour. Then and only then would it be worth while.
"Mrs. Kennedy is going to drive you to the station," said Grandmother
Newbury after tea. "I am much obliged to you, Frances, for giving up
the picnic today and coming to the Bay Shore to gratify an old woman's
inconvenient whim. But I shall not burden you with too much gratitude,
for I think you have enjoyed yourself."
"Indeed, I have," said Frances heartily. Then she added with a laugh,
"I think I would feel much more meritorious if it had not been so
pleasant. It has robbed me of all the self-sacrificing complacency I
felt this morning. You see, I wanted to go to that picnic to see Sara
Beaumont, and I felt quite like a martyr at giving it up."
Grandmother Newbury's eyes twinkled. "You would have been beautifully
disappointed had you gone. Sara Beaumont was not there. Mrs. Kennedy,
I see you haven't told our secret. Frances, my dear, let me introduce
you two over again. This lady is Mrs. Sara Beaumont Kennedy, the
writer of The Story of Idlewild and all those other books you so
The Newburys were sitting on the verandah at dusk, too tired and too
happy to talk. Ralph and Elliott had seen the Governor; more than
that, they had been introduced to him, and he had shaken hands with
them both and told them that their father and he had been chums when
just their size. And Cecilia had spent a whole day with Nan Harris,
who had not changed at all except to grow taller. But there was one
little cloud on her content.
"I wanted to see Sara Beaumont to tell Frances about her, but I
couldn't get a glimpse of her. I don't even know if she was there."
"There comes Fran up the station road now," said Ralph. "My eyes,
hasn't she a step!"
Frances came smiling over the lawn and up the steps.
"So you are all home safe," she said gaily. "I hope you feasted your
eyes on your beloved Governor, boys. I can tell that Cecilia
forgathered with Nan by the beatific look on her face."
"Oh, Fran, it was lovely!" cried Cecilia. "But I felt so sorry—why
didn't you let me go to Ashland? It was too bad you missed it—and
"Sara Beaumont was at the Bay Shore Farm," said Frances. "I'll tell
you all about it when I get my breath—I've been breathless ever since
Grandmother Newbury told me of it. There's only one drawback to my
supreme bliss—the remembrance of how complacently self-sacrificing I
felt this morning. It humiliates me wholesomely to remember it!"
The Ingelows, of Ingelow Grange, were not a marrying family. Only one
of them, Elizabeth, had married, and perhaps it was her "poor match"
that discouraged the others. At any rate, Ellen and Charlotte and
George Ingelow at the Grange were single, and so was Paul down at
It was seventeen years since Elizabeth had married James Sheldon in
the face of the most decided opposition on the part of her family.
Sheldon was a handsome, shiftless ne'er-do-well, without any violent
bad habits, but also "without any backbone," as the Ingelows declared.
"There is sometimes hope of a man who is actively bad," Charlotte
Ingelow had said sententiously, "but who ever heard of reforming a
Elizabeth and her husband had gone west and settled on a prairie farm
in Manitoba. She had never been home since. Perhaps her pride kept her
away, for she had the Ingelow share of that, and she soon discovered
that her family's estimate of James Sheldon had been the true one.
There was no active resentment on either side, and once in a long
while letters were exchanged. Still, ever since her marriage,
Elizabeth had been practically an outsider and an alien. As the years
came and went the Ingelows at home remembered only at long intervals
that they had a sister on the western prairies.
One of these remembrances came to Charlotte Ingelow on a spring
afternoon when the great orchards about the Grange were pink and white
with apple and cherry blossoms, and over every hill and field was a
delicate, flower-starred green. A soft breeze was blowing loose petals
from the August Sweeting through the open door of the wide hall when
Charlotte came through it. Ellen and George were standing on the steps
"This kind of a day always makes me think of Elizabeth," said
Charlotte dreamily. "It was in apple-blossom time she went away." The
Ingelows always spoke of Elizabeth's going away, never of her
"Seventeen years ago," said Ellen. "Why, Elizabeth's oldest child must
be quite a young woman now! I—I—" a sudden idea swept over and left
her a little breathless. "I would really like to see her."
"Then why don't you write and ask her to come east and visit us?"
asked George, who did not often speak, but who always spoke to some
purpose when he did.
Ellen and Charlotte looked at each other. "I would like to see
Elizabeth's child," repeated Ellen firmly.
"Do you think she would come?" asked Charlotte. "You know when James
Sheldon died five years ago, we wrote to Elizabeth and asked her to
come home and live with us, and she seemed almost resentful in the
letter she wrote back. I've never said so before, but I've often
"Yes, she did," said Ellen, who had often thought so too, but never
"Elizabeth was always very independent," remarked George. "Perhaps she
thought your letter savoured of charity or pity. No Ingelow would
"At any rate, you know she refused to come, even for a visit. She said
she could not leave the farm. She may refuse to let her child come."
"It won't do any harm to ask her," said George.
In the end, Charlotte wrote to Elizabeth and asked her to let her
daughter visit the old homestead. The letter was written and mailed in
much perplexity and distrust when once the glow of momentary
enthusiasm in the new idea had passed.
"What if Elizabeth's child is like her father?" queried Charlotte in a
"Let us hope she won't be!" cried Ellen fervently. Indeed, she felt
that a feminine edition of James Sheldon would be more than she could
"She may not like us, or our ways," sighed Charlotte. "We don't know
how she has been brought up. She will seem like a stranger after all.
I really long to see Elizabeth's child, but I can't help fearing we
have done a rash thing, Ellen."
"Perhaps she may not come," suggested Ellen, wondering whether she
hoped it or feared it.
But Worth Sheldon did come. Elizabeth wrote back a prompt acceptance,
with no trace of the proud bitterness that had permeated her answer to
the former invitation. The Ingelows at the Grange were thrown into a
flutter when the letter came. In another week Elizabeth's child would
be with them.
"If only she isn't like her father," said Charlotte with foreboding,
as she aired and swept the southeast spare room for their expected
guest. They had three spare rooms at the Grange, but the aunts had
selected the southeast one for their niece because it was done in
white, "and white seems the most appropriate for a young girl," Ellen
said, as she arranged a pitcher of wild roses on the table.
"I think everything is ready," announced Charlotte. "I put the very
finest sheets on the bed, they smell deliciously of lavender, and we
had very good luck doing up the muslin curtains. It is pleasant to be
expecting a guest, isn't it, Ellen? I have often thought, although I
have never said so before, that our lives were too self-centred. We
seemed to have no interests outside of ourselves. Even Elizabeth has
been really nothing to us, you know. She seemed to have become a
stranger. I hope her child will be the means of bringing us nearer
"If she has James Sheldon's round face and big blue eyes and curly
yellow hair I shall never really like her, no matter how Ingelowish
she may be inside," said Ellen decidedly.
When Worth Sheldon came, each of her aunts drew a long breath of
relief. Worth was not in the least like her father in appearance.
Neither did she resemble her mother, who had been a sprightly,
black-haired and black-eyed girl. Worth was tall and straight, with a
long braid of thick, wavy brown hair, large, level-gazing grey eyes, a
square jaw, and an excellent chin with a dimple in it.
"She is the very image of Mother's sister, Aunt Alice, who died so
long ago," said Charlotte. "You don't remember her, Ellen, but I do
very well. She was the sweetest woman that ever drew breath. She was
Paul's favourite aunt, too," Charlotte added with a sigh. Paul's
antagonistic attitude was the only drawback to the joy of this
meeting. How delightful it would have been if he had not refused to be
there too, to welcome Elizabeth's child.
Worth came to hearts prepared to love her, but they must have loved
her in any case. In a day Aunt Charlotte and Aunt Ellen and shy,
quiet Uncle George had yielded wholly to her charm. She was girlishly
bright and merry, frankly delighted with the old homestead and the
quaint, old-fashioned, daintily kept rooms. Yet there was no
suggestion of gush about her; she did not go into raptures, but her
pleasure shone out in eyes and tones. There was so much to tell and
ask and remember the first day that it was not until the second
morning after her arrival that Worth asked the question her aunts had
been dreading. She asked it out in the orchard, in the emerald gloom
of a long arcade of stout old trees that Grandfather Ingelow had
planted fifty years ago.
"Aunt Charlotte, when is Uncle Paul coming up to see me? I long to see
him; Mother has talked so much to me about him. She was his favourite
sister, wasn't she?"
Charlotte and Ellen looked at each other. Ellen nodded slyly. It would
be better to tell Worth the whole truth at once. She would certainly
find it out soon.
"I do not think, my dear," said Aunt Charlotte quietly, "that your
Uncle Paul will be up to see you at all."
"Why not?" asked Worth, her serious grey eyes looking straight into
Aunt Charlotte's troubled dark ones. Aunt Charlotte understood that
Elizabeth had never told Worth anything about her family's resentment
of her marriage. It was not a pleasant thing to have to explain it all
to Elizabeth's child, but it must be done.
"I think, my dear," she said gently, "that I will have to tell you a
little bit of our family history that may not be very pleasant to hear
or tell. Perhaps you don't know that when your mother married
we—we—did not exactly approve of her marriage. Perhaps we were
mistaken; at any rate it was wrong and foolish to let it come between
us and her as we have done. But that is how it was. None of us
approved, as I have said, but none of us was so bitter as your Uncle
Paul. Your mother was his favourite sister, and he was very deeply
attached to her. She was only a year younger than he. When he bought
the Greenwood farm she went and kept house for him for three years
before her marriage. When she married, Paul was terribly angry. He was
always a strange man, very determined and unyielding. He said he would
never forgive her, and he never has. He has never married, and he has
lived so long alone at Greenwood with only deaf old Mrs. Bree to keep
house for him that he has grown odder than ever. One of us wanted to
go and keep house for him, but he would not let us. And—I must tell
you this although I hate to—he was very angry when he heard we had
invited you to visit us, and he said he would not come near the Grange
as long as you were here. Oh, you can't realize how bitter and
obstinate he is. We pleaded with him, but I think that only made him
worse. We have felt so bad over it, your Aunt Ellen and your Uncle
George and I, but we can do nothing at all."
Worth had listened gravely. The story was all new to her, but she had
long thought there must be a something at the root of her mother's
indifferent relations with her old home and friends. When Aunt
Charlotte, flushed and half-tearful, finished speaking, a little
glimmer of fun came into Worth's grey eyes, and her dimple was very
pronounced as she said,
"Then, if Uncle Paul will not come to see me, I must go to see him."
"My dear!" cried both her aunts together in dismay. Aunt Ellen got her
"Oh, my dear child, you must not think of such a thing," she cried
nervously. "It would never do. He would—I don't know what he would
do—order you off the premises, or say something dreadful. No! No!
Wait. Perhaps he will come after all—we will see. You must have
Worth shook her head and the smile in her eyes deepened.
"I don't think he will come," she said. "Mother has told me something
about the Ingelow stubbornness. She says I have it in full measure,
but I like to call it determination, it sounds so much better. No, the
mountain will not come to Mohammed, so Mohammed will go to the
mountain. I think I will walk down to Greenwood this afternoon. There,
dear aunties, don't look so troubled. Uncle Paul won't run at me with
a pitchfork, will he? He can't do worse than order me off his
premises, as you say."
Aunt Charlotte shook her head. She understood that no argument would
turn the girl from her purpose if she had the Ingelow will, so she
said nothing more. In the afternoon Worth set out for Greenwood, a
"Oh, what will Paul say?" exclaimed the aunts, with dismal
Worth met her Uncle Paul at the garden gate. He was standing there
when she came up the slope of the long lane, a tall, massive figure of
a man, with deep-set black eyes, a long, prematurely white beard, and
a hooked nose. Handsome and stubborn enough Paul Ingelow looked. It
was not without reason that his neighbours called him the oddest
Ingelow of them all.
Behind him was a fine old farmhouse in beautiful grounds. Worth felt
almost as much interested in Greenwood as in the Grange. It had been
her mother's home for three years, and Elizabeth Ingelow had loved it
and talked much to her daughter of it.
Paul Ingelow did not move or speak, although he probably guessed who
his visitor was. Worth held out her hand. "How do you do, Uncle Paul?"
Paul ignored the outstretched hand. "Who are you?" he asked gruffly.
"I am Worth Sheldon, your sister Elizabeth's daughter," she answered.
"Won't you shake hands with me, Uncle Paul?"
"I have no sister Elizabeth," he answered unbendingly.
Worth folded her hands on the gatepost and met his frowning gaze
unshrinkingly. "Oh, yes, you have," she said calmly. "You can't do
away with natural ties by simply ignoring them, Uncle Paul. They go on
existing. I never knew until this morning that you were at enmity with
my mother. She never told me. But she has talked a great deal of you
to me. She has told me often how much you and she loved each other and
how good you always were to her. She sent her love to you."
"Years ago I had a sister Elizabeth," said Paul Ingelow harshly. "I
loved her very tenderly, but she married against my will a shiftless
Worth lifted her hand slightly. "He was my father, Uncle Paul, and he
was always kind to me; whatever his faults may have been I cannot
listen to a word against him."
"You shouldn't have come here, then," he said, but he said it less
harshly. There was even a certain reluctant approval of this composed,
independent niece in his eyes. "Didn't they tell you at the Grange
that I didn't want to see you?"
"Yes, they told me this morning, but I wanted to see you, so I came.
Why cannot we be friends, Uncle Paul, not because we are uncle and
niece, but simply because you are you and I am I? Let us leave my
father and mother out of the question and start fair on our own
For a moment Uncle Paul looked at her. She met his gaze frankly and
firmly, with a merry smile lurking in her eyes. Then he threw back his
head and laughed a hearty laugh that was good to hear. "Very well," he
said. "It is a bargain."
He put his hand over the gate and shook hers. Then he opened the gate
and invited her into the house. Worth stayed to tea, and Uncle Paul
showed her all over Greenwood.
"You are to come here as often as you like," he told her. "When a
young lady and I make a compact of friendship I am going to live up to
it. But you are not to talk to me about your mother. Remember, we are
friends because I am I and you are you, and there is no question of
The Grange Ingelows were amazed to see Paul bringing Worth home in his
buggy that evening. When Worth had gone into the house Charlotte told
him that she was glad to see that he had relented towards Elizabeth's
"I have not," he made stern answer. "I don't know whom you mean by
Elizabeth's child. That young woman and I have taken a liking for each
other which we mean to cultivate on our own account. Don't call her
Elizabeth's child to me again."
As the days and weeks went by Worth grew dearer and dearer to the
Grange folk. The aunts often wondered to themselves how they had
existed before Worth came and, oftener yet, how they could do without
her when the time came for her to go home. Meanwhile, the odd
friendship between her and Uncle Paul deepened and grew. They read and
drove and walked together. Worth spent half her time at Greenwood.
Once Uncle Paul said to her, as if speaking half to himself,
"To think that James Sheldon could have a daughter like you!"
Up went Worth's head. Worth's grey eyes flashed. "I thought we were
not to speak of my parents?" she said. "You ought not to have been the
first to break the compact, Uncle Paul."
"I accept the rebuke and beg your pardon," he said. He liked her all
the better for those little flashes of spirit across her girlish
One day in September they were together in the garden at Greenwood.
Worth, looking lovingly and regretfully down the sun-flecked avenue of
box, said with a sigh, "Next month I must go home. How sorry I shall
be to leave the Grange and Greenwood. I have had such a delightful
summer, and I have learned to love all the old nooks and corners as
well as if I had lived here all my life."
"Stay here!" said Uncle Paul abruptly. "Stay here with me. I want you,
Worth. Let Greenwood be your home henceforth and adopt your crusty old
bachelor uncle for a father."
"Oh, Uncle Paul," cried Worth, "I don't know—I don't think—oh, you
"I surprise myself, perhaps. But I mean it, Worth. I am a rich, lonely
old man and I want to keep this new interest you have brought into my
life. Stay with me. I will try to give you a very happy life, my
child, and all I have shall be yours."
Seeing her troubled face, he added, "There, I don't ask you to decide
right here. I suppose you have other claims to adjust. Take time to
think it over."
"Thank you," said Worth. She went back to the Grange as one in a
dream and shut herself up in the white southeast room to think. She
knew that she wanted to accept this unexpected offer of Uncle Paul's.
Worth's loyal tongue had never betrayed, even to the loving aunts, any
discontent in the prairie farm life that had always been hers. But it
had been a hard life for the girl, narrow and poverty-bounded. She
longed to put forth her hand and take this other life which opened so
temptingly before her. She knew, too, that her mother, ambitious for
her child, would not be likely to interpose any objections. She had
only to go to Uncle Paul and all that she longed for would be given
her, together with the faithful, protecting fatherly love and care
that in all its strength and sweetness had never been hers.
She must decide for herself. Not even of Aunt Charlotte or Aunt Ellen
could she ask advice. She knew they would entreat her to accept, and
she needed no such incentive to her own wishes. Far on into the night
Worth sat at the white-curtained dormer window, looking at the stars
over the apple trees, and fighting her battle between inclination and
duty. It was a hard and stubbornly contested battle, but with that
square chin and those unfaltering grey eyes it could end in only one
way. Next day Worth went down to Greenwood.
"Well, what is it to be?" said Uncle Paul without preface, as he met
her in the garden.
"I cannot come, Uncle Paul," said Worth steadily. "I cannot give up my
"I don't ask you to give her up," he said gruffly. "You can write to
her and visit her. I don't want to come between parent and child."
"That isn't the point exactly, Uncle Paul. I hope you will not be
angry with me for not accepting your offer. I wanted to—you don't
know how much I wanted to—but I cannot. Mother and I are so much to
each other, Uncle Paul, more, I am sure, than even most mothers and
daughters. You have never let me speak of her, but I must tell you
this. Mother has often told me that when I came to her things were
going very hard with her and that I was heaven's own gift to comfort
and encourage her. Then, in the ten years that followed, the three
other babies that came to her all died before they were two years old.
And with each loss Mother said I grew dearer to her. Don't you see,
Uncle Paul, I'm not merely just one child to her but I'm all those
children? Six years ago the twins were born, and they are dear, bright
little lads, but they are very small yet, so Mother has really nobody
but me. I know she would consent to let me stay here, because she
would think it best for me, but it wouldn't be really best for me; it
couldn't be best for a girl to do what wasn't right. I love you, Uncle
Paul, and I love Greenwood, and I want to stay so much, but I cannot.
I have thought it all over and I must go back to Mother."
Uncle Paul did not say one word. He turned his back on Worth and
walked the full length of the box alley twice. Worth watched him
wistfully. Was he very angry? Would he forgive her?
"You are an Ingelow, Worth," he said when he came back. That was all,
but Worth understood that her decision was not to cause any
estrangement between them.
A month later Worth's last day at the Grange came. She was to leave
for the West the next morning. They were all out in Grandfather
Ingelow's arcade, Uncle George and Aunt Charlotte and Aunt Ellen and
Worth, enjoying the ripe mellow sunshine of the October day, when Paul
Ingelow came up the slope. Worth went to meet him with outstretched
hands. He took them both in his and looked at her very gravely.
"I have not come to say goodbye, Worth. I will not say it. You are
coming back to me."
Worth shook her brown head sadly. "Oh, I cannot, Uncle Paul. You
know—I told you—"
"Yes, I know," he interrupted. "I have been thinking it all over every
day since. You know yourself what the Ingelow determination is. It's a
good thing in a good cause but a bad thing in a bad one. And it is no
easy thing to conquer when you've let it rule you for years as I have
done. But I have conquered it, or you have conquered it for me. Child,
here is a letter. It is to your mother—my sister Elizabeth. In it I
have asked her to forgive me, and to forget our long estrangement. I
have asked her to come back to me with you and her boys. I want you
all—all—at Greenwood and I will do the best I can for you all."
"Oh, Uncle Paul," cried Worth, her face aglow and quivering with
smiles and tears and sunshine.
"Do you think she will forgive me and come?"
"I know she will," cried Worth. "I know how she has longed for you and
home. Oh, I am so happy, Uncle Paul!"
He smiled at her and put his arm over her shoulder. Together they
walked up the golden arcade to tell the others. That night Charlotte
and Ellen cried with happiness as they talked it over in the twilight.
"How beautiful!" murmured Charlotte softly. "We shall not lose Worth
after all. Ellen, I could not have borne it to see that girl go
utterly out of our lives again."
"I always hoped and believed that Elizabeth's child would somehow
bring us all together again," said Ellen happily.
Freda's Adopted Grave
North Point, where Freda lived, was the bleakest settlement in the
world. Even its inhabitants, who loved it, had to admit that. The
northeast winds swept whistling up the bay and blew rawly over the
long hill that sloped down to it, blighting everything that was in
their way. Only the sturdy firs and spruces could hold their own
against it. So there were no orchards or groves or flower gardens in
Just over the hill, in a sheltered southwest valley, was the North
Point church with the graveyard behind it, and this graveyard was the
most beautiful spot in North Point or near it. The North Point folk
loved flowers. They could not have them about their homes, so they had
them in their graveyard. It was a matter of pride with each family to
keep the separate plot neatly trimmed and weeded and adorned with
It was one of the unwritten laws of the little community that on some
selected day in May everybody would repair to the graveyard to plant,
trim and clip. It was not an unpleasant duty, even to those whose
sorrow was fresh. It seemed as if they were still doing something for
the friends who had gone when they made their earthly resting places
As for the children, they looked forward to "Graveyard Day" as a very
delightful anniversary, and it divided its spring honours with the
amount of the herring catch.
"Tomorrow is Graveyard Day," said Minnie Hutchinson at school recess,
when all the little girls were sitting on the fence. "Ain't I glad!
I've got the loveliest big white rosebush to plant by Grandma
Hutchinson's grave. Uncle Robert sent it out from town."
"My mother has ten tuberoses to set out," said Nan Gray proudly.
"We're going to plant a row of lilies right around our plot," said
Every little girl had some boast to make, that is, every little girl
but Freda. Freda sat in a corner all by herself and felt miserably
outside of everything. She had no part or lot in Graveyard Day.
"Are you going to plant anything, Freda?" asked Nan, with a wink at
Freda shook her head mutely.
"Freda can't plant anything," said Winnie Bell cruelly, although she
did not mean to be cruel. "She hasn't got a grave."
Just then Freda felt as if her gravelessness were a positive disgrace
and crime, as if not to have an interest in a single grave in North
Point cemetery branded you as an outcast forever and ever. It very
nearly did in North Point. The other little girls pitied Freda, but at
the same time they rather looked down upon her for it with the
complacency of those who had been born into a good heritage of family
graves and had an undisputed right to celebrate Graveyard Day.
Freda felt that her cup of wretchedness was full. She sat miserably on
the fence while the other girls ran off to play, and she walked home
alone at night. It seemed to her that she could not bear it any
Freda was ten years old. Four years ago Mrs. Wilson had taken her from
the orphan asylum in town. Mrs. Wilson lived just this side of the
hill from the graveyard, and everybody in North Point called her a
"crank." They pitied any child she took, they said. It would be worked
to death and treated like a slave. At first they tried to pump Freda
concerning Mrs. Wilson's treatment of her, but Freda was not to be
pumped. She was a quiet little mite, with big, wistful dark eyes that
had a disconcerting fashion of looking the gossips out of countenance.
But if Freda had been disposed to complain, the North Point people
would have found out that they had been only too correct in their
"Mrs. Wilson," Freda said timidly that night, "why haven't we got a
Mrs. Wilson averred that such a question gave her the "creeps."
"You ought to be very thankful that we haven't," she said severely.
"That Graveyard Day is a heathenish custom, anyhow. They make a
regular picnic of it, and it makes me sick to hear those school girls
chattering about what they mean to plant, each one trying to outblow
the other. If I had a grave there, I wouldn't make a flower garden
Freda did not go to the graveyard the next day, although it was a
holiday. But in the evening, when everybody had gone home, she crept
over the hill and through the beech grove to see what had been done.
The plots were all very neat and prettily set out with plants and
bulbs. Some perennials were already in bud. The grave of Katie Morris'
great-uncle, who had been dead for forty years, was covered with
blossoming purple pansies. Every grave, no matter how small or old,
had its share of promise—every grave except one. Freda came across it
with a feeling of surprise. It was away down in the lower corner where
there were no plots. It was shut off from the others by a growth of
young poplars and was sunken and overgrown with blueberry shrubs.
There was no headstone, and it looked dismally neglected. Freda felt a
sympathy for it. She had no grave, and this grave had nobody to tend
it or care for it.
When she went home she asked Mrs. Wilson whose it was.
"Humph!" said Mrs. Wilson. "If you have so much spare time lying round
loose, you'd better put it into your sewing instead of prowling about
graveyards. Do you expect me to work my fingers to the bone making
clothes for you? I wish I'd left you in the asylum. That grave is
Jordan Slade's, I suppose. He died twenty years ago, and a worthless,
drunken scamp he was. He served a term in the penitentiary for
breaking into Andrew Messervey's store, and after it he had the face
to come back to North Point. But respectable people would have nothing
to do with him, and he went to the dogs altogether—had to be buried
on charity when he died. He hasn't any relations here. There was a
sister, a little girl of ten, who used to live with the Cogswells over
at East Point. After Jord died, some rich folks saw her and was so
struck with her good looks that they took her away with them. I don't
know what become of her, and I don't care. Go and bring the cows up."
When Freda went to bed that night her mind was made up. She would
adopt Jordan Slade's grave.
Thereafter, Freda spent her few precious spare-time moments in the
graveyard. She clipped the blueberry shrubs and long, tangled grasses
from the grave with a pair of rusty old shears that blistered her
little brown hands badly. She brought ferns from the woods to plant
about it. She begged a root of heliotrope from Nan Gray, a clump of
day lilies from Katie Morris, a rosebush slip from Nellie Bell, some
pansy seed from old Mrs. Bennett, and a geranium shoot from Minnie
Hutchinson's big sister. She planted, weeded and watered faithfully,
and her efforts were rewarded. "Her" grave soon looked as nice as any
in the graveyard.
Nobody but Freda knew about it. The poplar growth concealed the corner
from sight, and everybody had quite forgotten poor, disreputable
Jordan Slade's grave. At least, it seemed as if everybody had. But one
evening, when Freda slipped down to the graveyard with a little can
of water and rounded the corner of the poplars, she saw a lady
standing by the grave—a strange lady dressed in black, with the
loveliest face Freda had ever seen, and tears in her eyes.
The lady gave a little start when she saw Freda with her can of water.
"Can you tell me who has been looking after this grave?" she said.
"It—it was I," faltered Freda, wondering if the lady would be angry
with her. "Pleas'm, it was I, but I didn't mean any harm. All the
other little girls had a grave, and I hadn't any, so I just adopted
"Did you know whose it was?" asked the lady gently.
"Yes'm—Jordan Slade's. Mrs. Wilson told me."
"Jordan Slade was my brother," said the lady. "He went sadly astray,
but he was not all bad. He was weak and too easily influenced. But
whatever his faults, he was good and kind—oh! so good and kind—to me
when I was a child. I loved him with all my heart. It has always been
my wish to come back and visit his grave, but I have never been able
to come, my home has been so far away. I expected to find it
neglected. I cannot tell you how pleased and touched I am to find it
kept so beautifully. Thank you over and over again, my dear child!"
"Then you're not cross, ma'am?" said Freda eagerly. "And I may go on
looking after it, may I? Oh, it just seems as if I couldn't bear not
"You may look after it as long as you want to, my dear. I will help
you, too. I am to be at East Point all summer. This will be our
grave—yours and mine."
That summer was a wonderful one for Freda. She had found a firm friend
in Mrs. Halliday. The latter was a wealthy woman. Her husband had died
a short time previously and she had no children. When she went away in
the fall, Freda went with her "to be her own little girl for always."
Mrs. Wilson consented grudgingly to give Freda up, although she
grumbled a great deal about ingratitude.
Before they went they paid a farewell visit to their grave. Mrs.
Halliday had arranged with some of the North Point people to keep it
well attended to, but Freda cried at leaving it.
"Don't feel badly about it, dear," comforted Mrs. Halliday. "We are
coming back every summer to see it. It will always be our grave."
Freda slipped her hand into Mrs. Halliday's and smiled up at her.
"I'd never have found you, Aunty, if it hadn't been for this grave,"
she said happily. "I'm so glad I adopted it."
How Don Was Saved
Will Barrie went whistling down the lane of the Locksley farm, took a
short cut over a field of clover aftermath and through a sloping
orchard where the trees were laden with apples, and emerged into the
farmhouse yard where Curtis Locksley was sitting on a pile of logs,
idly whittling at a stick.
"You look as if you had a corner in time, Curt," said Will. "I call
that luck, for I want you to go chestnutting up to Grier's Hill with
me. I met old Tom Grier on the road yesterday, and he told me I might
go any day. Nice old man, Tom Grier."
"Good!" said Curtis heartily, as he sprang up. "If I haven't exactly a
corner in time, I have a day off, at least. Uncle doesn't need me
today. Wait till I whistle for Don. May as well take him with us."
Curtis whistled accordingly, but Don, his handsome Newfoundland dog,
did not appear. After calling and whistling about the yard and barns
for several minutes, Curtis turned away disappointedly.
"He can't be anywhere around. It is very strange. Don never used to go
away from home without me, but lately he has been missing several
times, and twice last week he wasn't here in the morning and didn't
turn up until midday."
"I'd keep him shut up until I broke him of the habit of playing
truant, if I were you," said Will, as they turned into the lane.
"Don hates to be shut up, howls all the time so mournfully that I
can't stand it," responded Curtis.
"Well," said Will, hesitatingly, "maybe that would be better after all
than letting him stray away with other dogs who may teach him bad
habits. I saw Don myself one evening last week ambling down the
Harbour road with that big brown dog of Sam Ventnor's. Ventnor's dog
is beginning to have a bad reputation, you know. There have been
several sheep worried lately, and—"
"Don wouldn't touch a sheep!" interrupted Curtis hotly.
"I daresay not, not yet. But Ventnor's dog is under suspicion, and if
Don runs with him he'll learn the trick sure as preaching. The farmers
are growling a good bit already, and if they hear of Don and Ventnor's
dog going about in company, they'll put it on them both. Better keep
Don shut up awhile, let him howl as he likes."
"I believe I will," said Curtis soberly. "I don't want Don to fall
under suspicion of sheep-worrying, though I'm sure he would never do
it. Anyhow, I don't want him to run with Ventnor's dog. I'll chain him
up in the barn when I go home. I couldn't stand it if anything
happened to Don. After you, he's the only chum I've got—and he's a
Will agreed. He was almost as fond of Don as Curtis was. But he did
not feel so sure that the dog would not worry a sheep. Will knew that
Don was suspected already, but he did not like to tell Curtis so. And
of course there was as yet no positive proof—merely mutterings and
suggestions among the Bayside farmers who had lost sheep and were
anxious to locate their slayer. There were many other dogs in Bayside
and the surrounding districts who were just as likely to be the guilty
animals, and Will hoped that if Don were shut up for a time, suspicion
might be averted from him, especially if the worryings still went on.
He had felt a little doubtful about hinting the truth to Curtis, who
was a high-spirited lad and always resented any slur cast upon Don
much more bitterly than if it were meant for himself. But he knew that
Curtis would take it better from him than from the other Bayside boys,
one or the other of whom would be sure soon to cast something up to
Curtis about his dog. Will felt decidedly relieved to find that Curtis
took his advice in the spirit in which it was offered.
"Who have lost sheep lately?" queried Curtis, as they left the main
road and struck into a wood path through the ranks of beeches on Tom
"Nearly everybody on the Hollow farms," answered Will. "Until last
week nobody on the Hill farms had lost any. But Tuesday night old Paul
Stockton had six fine sheep killed in his upland pasture behind the
fir woods. He is furious about it, I believe, and vows he'll find out
what dog did it and have him shot."
Curtis looked grave. Paul Stockton's farm was only about a quarter of
a mile from the Locksley homestead, and he knew that Paul had an old
family grudge against his Uncle Arnold, which included his nephew and
all belonging to him. Moreover, Curtis remembered with a sinking heart
that Wednesday morning had been one of the mornings upon which Don was
"But I don't care!" he thought miserably. "I know Don didn't kill
"Talking of old Paul," said Will, who thought it advisable to turn the
conversation, "reminds me that they are getting anxious at the Harbour
about George Finley's schooner, the Amy Reade. She was due three
days ago and there's no sign of her yet. And there have been two bad
gales since she left Morro. Oscar Stockton is on board of her, you
know, and his father is worried about him. There are five other men on
her, all from the Harbour, and their folks down there are pretty wild
about the schooner."
Nothing more was said about the sheep, and soon, in the pleasures of
chestnutting, Curtis forgot his anxiety. Old Tom Grier had called to
the boys as they passed his house to come back and have dinner there
when the time came. This they did, and it was late in the afternoon
when Curtis, with his bag of chestnuts over his shoulder, walked into
the Locksley yard.
His uncle was standing before the open barn doors, talking to an
elderly, grizzled man with a thin, shrewd face.
Curtis's heart sank as he recognized old Paul Stockton. What could
have brought him over?
"Curtis," called his uncle, "come here."
As Curtis crossed the yard, Don came bounding down the slope from the
house to meet him. He put his hand on the dog's big head and the two
of them walked slowly to the barn. Old Paul included them both in a
"Curtis," said his uncle gravely, "here's a bad business. Mr.
Stockton tells me that your dog has been worrying his sheep."
"It's a—" began Curtis angrily. Then he checked himself and went on
"That can't be so, Mr. Stockton. My dog would not harm anything."
"He killed or helped to kill six of the finest sheep in my flock!"
retorted old Paul.
"What proof have you of it?" demanded Curtis, trying to keep his anger
"Abner Peck saw your dog and Ventnor's running together through my
sheep pasture at sundown on Tuesday evening," answered old Paul.
"Wednesday morning I found this in the corner of the pasture where the
sheep were worried. Your uncle admits that it was tied around your
dog's neck on Tuesday."
And old Paul held out triumphantly a faded red ribbon. Curtis
recognized it at a glance. It was the ribbon his little cousin, Lena,
had tied around Don's neck Tuesday afternoon. He remembered how they
had laughed at the effect of that frivolous red collar and bow on
Don's massive body.
"I'm sure Don isn't guilty!" he cried passionately.
Mr. Locksley shook his head.
"I'm afraid he is, Curtis. The case looks very black against him, and
sheep-stealing is a serious offence."
"The dog must be shot," said old Paul decidedly. "I leave the matter
in your hands, Mr. Locksley. I've got enough proof to convict the dog
and, if you don't have him killed, I'll make you pay for the sheep he
As old Paul strode away, Curtis looked beseechingly at his uncle.
"Don mustn't be shot, Uncle!" he said desperately. "I'll chain him up
all the time."
"And have him howling night and day as if we had a brood of banshees
about the place?" said Mr. Locksley sarcastically. He was a stern man
with little sentiment in his nature and no understanding whatever of
Curtis's affection for Don. The Bayside people said that Arnold
Locksley had always been very severe with his nephew. "No, no, Curtis,
you must look at the matter sensibly. The dog is a nuisance and must
be shot. You can't keep him shut up forever, and, if he has once
learned the trick of sheep-worrying, he will never forget it. You can
get another dog if you must have one. I'll get Charles Pippey to come
and shoot Don tomorrow. No sulking now, Curtis. You are too big a boy
for that. Tie the dog up for the night and then go and put the calves
in. There is a storm coming. The wind is blowing hard from the
His uncle walked away, leaving the boy white and miserable in the
yard. He looked at Don, who sat on his haunches and returned his gaze
frankly and open-heartedly. He did not look like a guilty dog. Could
it be possible that he had really worried those sheep?
"I'll never believe it of you, old fellow!" Curtis said, as he led the
dog into a corner of the carriage house and tied him up there. Then he
flung himself down on a pile of sacks beside him and buried his face
in Don's curly black fur. The boy felt sullen, rebellious and
He lay there until dark, thinking his own bitter thoughts and
listening to the rapidly increasing gale. Finally he got up and flung
off after the calves, with Don's melancholy howls at finding himself
deserted ringing in his ears.
He'll be quiet enough tomorrow night, thought Curtis wretchedly, as he
went upstairs to bed after housing the calves. For a long while he lay
awake, but finally dropped into a heavy slumber which lasted until
his aunt called him for milking.
The wind was blowing more furiously than ever. Up over the fields came
the roar and crash of the surges on the outside shore. The Harbour to
the east of Bayside was rough and stormy.
They were just rising from breakfast when Will Barrie burst into the
"The Amy Reade is ashore on Gleeson's rocks!" he shouted. "Struck
there at daylight this morning! Come on, Curt!"
Curtis sprang for his cap, his uncle following suit more deliberately.
As the two boys ran through the yard, Curtis heard Don howling.
"I'll take him with me!" he muttered. "Wait a minute, Will."
The Harbour road was thronged with people hurrying to the outside
shore, for the news of the Amy Readers disaster had spread rapidly.
As the boys, with the rejoicing Don at their heels, pelted along, Sam
Morrow overtook them in a cart and told them to jump in. Sam had
already been down to the shore and had gone back to tell his father.
As they jolted along, he screamed information at them over the shriek
of the gale.
"Bad business, this! She's pounding on a reef 'bout a quarter of a
mile out. They're sure she's going to break up—old tub, you
know—leaky—rotten. The sea's tremenjus high, and the surfs going
dean over her. There can't be no boat launched for hours yet—they'll
all be drowned. Old Paul's down there like a madman—offering
everything he's got to the man who'll save Oscar, but it can't be
By this time they had reached the shore, which was black with excited
people. Out on Gleeson's Reef the ill-fated little schooner was
visible amid the flying spray. A grizzled old Harbour fisherman, to
whom Sam shouted a question, shook his head.
"No, can't do nothin'! No boat c'd live in that surf f'r a moment. The
schooner'll go to pieces mighty soon, I'm feared. It's turrible!
turrible! to stan' by an' watch yer neighbours drown like this!"
Curtis and Will elbowed their way down to the water's edge. The
relatives of the crew were all there in various stages of despair, but
old Paul Stockton seemed like a man demented. He ran up and down the
beach, crying and praying. His only son was on the Amy Reade, and he
could do nothing to save him!
"What are they doing?" asked Will of Martin Clark.
"Trying to get a line ashore by throwing out a small rope with a stick
tied to it," answered Martin. "It's young Stockton that's trying now.
But it isn't any use. The cross-currents on that reef are too
"Why, Don will bring that line ashore!" exclaimed Curtis. "Here, Don!
Don, I say!"
The dog bounded back along the shore with a quick bark. Curtis grasped
him by the collar and pointed to the stick which young Stockton had
just hurled again into the water. Don, with another bark of
comprehension, dashed into the sea. The onlookers, grasping the
situation, gave a cheer and then relapsed into silence. Only the
shriek of the gale and the crash of the waves could be heard as they
watched the magnificent dog swimming out through the breakers, his big
black head now rising on the crest of a wave and now disappearing in
the hollow behind it. When Don finally reached the tossing stick,
grasped it in his mouth and turned shoreward, another great shout went
up from the beach. A woman behind Curtis, whose husband was on the
schooner, dropped on her knees on the pebbles, sobbing and thanking
God. Curtis himself felt the stinging tears start to his eyes.
When Don reached the shore he dropped the stick at Curtis's feet and
gave himself a tremendous shake. Curtis caught at the stick, while a
dozen men and women threw themselves bodily on Don, hugging him and
kissing his wet fur like distracted creatures. Old Paul Stockton was
among them. Over his shoulder Don's big black head looked up, his eyes
asking as plainly as speech what all this fuss was about.
Meanwhile some of the men had already pulled a big hawser ashore and
made it fast. In half an hour the crew of the Amy Reade were safe on
shore, chilled and dripping. Before they were hurried away to warmth
and shelter, old Paul Stockton caught Curtis's hand. The tears were
running freely down his hard, old face.
"Tell your uncle he is not to lay a finger on that dog!" he said. "He
never killed a sheep of mine—he couldn't! And if he did I don't care!
He's welcome to kill them all, if nothing but mutton'll serve his
Curtis walked home with a glad heart. Mr. Locksley heard old Paul's
message with a smile. He, too, had been touched by Don's splendid
"Well, Curtis, I'm very glad that it has turned old Paul in his
favour. But we must shut Don up for a week or so, no matter how hard
he takes it. You can see that for yourself. After all, he might have
worried the sheep. And, anyway, he must be broken of his intimacy with
Curtis acknowledged the justice of this and poor Don was tied up
again. His captivity was not long, however, for Ventnor's dog was soon
shot. When Don was released, Curtis had an anxious time for a week or
two. But no more sheep were worried, and Don's innocence was
triumphantly established. As for old Paul Stockton, it seemed as if
he could not do enough for Curtis and Don. His ancient grudge against
the Locksleys was completely forgotten, and from that date he was a
firm friend of Curtis. In regard to Don, old Paul would say:
"Why, there never was such a dog before, sir, never! He just talks
with his eyes, that dog does. And if you'd just 'a' seen him swimming
out to that schooner! Bones? Yes, sir! Every time that dog comes here
he's to get the best bones we've got for him—and more'n bones, too.
That dog's a hero, sir, that's what he is!"
Miss Madeline's Proposal
"Auntie, I have something to tell you," said Lina, with a blush that
made her look more than ever like one of the climbing roses that
nodded about the windows of the "old Churchill place," as it was
always called in Lower Wentworth.
Miss Madeline, sitting in the low rocker by the parlour window, seemed
like the presiding genius of the place. Everything about her matched
her sweet old-fashionedness, from the crown of her soft brown hair,
dressed in the style of her long ago girlhood, to the toes of her
daintily slippered feet. Outside of the old Churchill place, in the
busy streets of the up-to-date little town, Miss Madeline might have
seemed out of harmony with her surroundings. But here, in this dim
room, faintly scented with whiffs from the rose garden outside, she
was like a note in some sweet, perfect melody of old time.
Lina, sitting on a little stool at Miss Madeline's feet with her curly
head in her aunt's lap, was as pretty as Miss Madeline herself had
once been. She was also very happy, and her happiness seemed to
envelop her as in an atmosphere and lend her a new radiance and charm.
Miss Madeline loved her pretty niece very dearly and patted the curly
head tenderly with her slender white hands.
"What is it, my dear?"
"I'm—I'm engaged," whispered Lina, hiding her face in Miss Madeline's
flowered muslin lap.
"Engaged!" Miss Madeline's tone was one of surprise and awe. She
blushed as she said the word as deeply as Lina had done. Then she went
on, with a little quiver of excitement in her voice, "To whom, my
"Oh, you don't know him, Auntie, but I hope you will soon. His name is
Ralph Wylde. Isn't it pretty? I met him last winter, and we became
very good friends. But we had a quarrel before I came down here and,
oh, I have been so unhappy over it. Three weeks ago he wrote me and
begged my pardon—so nice of him, because I was really all to blame,
you know. And he said he loved me and—all that, you know."
"No, I don't know," said Miss Madeline gently. "But—but—I can
"Oh, I was so happy. I wrote back and I had this letter from him
today. He is coming down tomorrow. You'll be glad to see him, won't
"Oh, yes, my dear, and I am glad for your sake—very glad. You are
sure you love him?"
"Yes, indeed," said Lina, with a little laugh, as if wondering how
anyone could doubt it.
Presently, Miss Madeline said in a shy voice, "Lina, did—did you ever
receive a proposal of marriage from anybody besides Mr. Wylde?"
Lina laughed roguishly. "Why, yes, Auntie, ever so many. A dozen, at
"Oh, my dear!" cried Miss Madeline in a slightly shocked tone.
"But I did, really. Sometimes it was horrid and sometimes it was
funny. It all depended on the man. Dear me, how red and uncomfortable
most of them looked—all but the fifth. He was so cool and business
like that he almost surprised me into accepting him."
"And—and what did you feel like, Lina?"
"Oh, frightened, mostly—but I always wanted to laugh too. You must
know how it is yourself, Auntie. What did you feel like when somebody
proposed to you?"
Miss Madeline flushed from chin to brow.
"Oh, Lina," she faltered as if she were confessing something very
disgraceful, yet to which she was impelled by her strict truthfulness,
"I—I—never had a proposal in my life—not one."
Lina opened her big brown eyes in amazement. "Why, Aunt Madeline! And
you so pretty! What was the reason?"
"I've often wondered," said Miss Madeline faintly. "I was pretty, as
you say—it's so long ago I can say that now. And I had many gentlemen
friends. But nobody ever wanted to marry me. I sometimes wish
that—that I could have had just one proposal. Not that I wanted to
marry, you know, I do not mean that, but just so that it wouldn't have
seemed that I was different from anybody else. It is very foolish of
me to wish it, I know, and even wicked—for if I had not cared for the
person it would have made him very unhappy. But then, he would have
forgotten and I would have remembered. It would always have been
something to be a little proud of."
"Yes," said Lina absently; her thoughts had gone back to Ralph.
That evening a letter was left at the front door of the old Churchill
place. It was addressed in a scholarly hand to Miss Madeline
Churchill, and Amelia Kent took it in. Amelia had been Miss Madeline's
"help" for years and had grown grey in her service. In Amelia's loyal
eyes Miss Madeline was still young and beautiful; she never doubted
that the letter was for her mistress. Nobody else there was ever
addressed as "Miss Madeline."
Miss Madeline was sitting by the window of her own room watching the
sunset through the elms and reading her evening portion of Thomas à
Kempis. She never liked to be disturbed when so employed but she read
her letter after Amelia had gone out.
When she came to a certain paragraph, she turned very pale and Thomas
à Kempis fell to the floor unheeded. When she had finished the letter
she laid it on her lap, clasped her hands, and said, "Oh, oh, oh," in
a faint, tremulous voice. Her cheeks were very pink and her eyes very
bright. She did not even pick up Thomas à Kempis but went to the door
and called Lina.
"What is it, Auntie?" asked Lina curiously, noticing the signs of
unusual excitement about Miss Madeline.
Miss Madeline held out her letter with a trembling hand.
"Lina, dear, this is a letter from the Rev. Cecil Thorne. It—it is—a
proposal of marriage. I feel terribly upset. How very strange that it
should come so soon after our talk this morning! I want you to read
it! Perhaps I ought not to show it to anyone—but I would like you to
Lina took the letter and read it through. It was unmistakably a
proposal of marriage and was, moreover, a very charming epistle of its
kind, albeit a little stiff and old-fashioned.
"How funny!" said Lina when she came to the end.
"Funny!" exclaimed Miss Madeline, with a trace of indignation in her
"Oh, I didn't mean that the letter was funny," Lina hastened to
explain, "only that, as you said, it is odd to think of it coming so
soon after our talk."
But this was a little fib on Lina's part. She had thought that the
letter or, rather, the fact that it had been written to Miss Madeline,
funny. The Rev. Cecil Thorne was Miss Madeline's pastor. He was a
handsome, scholarly man of middle age, and Lina had seen a good deal
of him during her summer in Lower Wentworth. She had taught the infant
class in Sunday School and sometimes she had thought that the minister
was in love with her. But she must have been mistaken, she reflected;
it must have been her aunt after all, and the Rev. Cecil Thorne's
shyly displayed interest in her must have been purely professional.
"What a goose I was to be afraid he was in love with me!" she thought.
Aloud she said, "He says he will call tomorrow evening to receive your
"And, oh, what can I say to him?" murmured Miss Madeline in dismay.
She wished she had a little of Lina's experience.
"You are going to—you will accept him, won't you?" asked Lina
"Oh, my dear, no!" cried Miss Madeline almost vehemently. "I couldn't
think of such a thing. I am very sorry; do you think he will feel
"Judging from his letter I feel sure he will," said Lina decidedly.
Miss Madeline sighed. "Oh, dear me! It is very unpleasant. But of
course I must refuse him. What a beautiful letter he writes too. I
feel very much disturbed by this."
Miss Madeline picked up Thomas à Kempis, smoothed him out repentantly,
and placed the letter between his leaves.
When the Rev. Cecil Thorne called at the old Churchill place next
evening at sunset and asked for Miss Madeline Churchill, Amelia showed
him into the parlour and went to call her mistress. Mr. Thorne sat
down by the window that looked out on the lawn. His heart gave a bound
as he caught a glimpse of an airy white muslin among the trees and a
ripple of distant laughter. The next minute Lina appeared, strolling
down the secluded path that curved about the birches. A young man was
walking beside her with his arm around her. They crossed the green
square before the house and disappeared in the rose garden.
Mr. Thorne leaned back in his chair and put his hand over his eyes. He
felt that he had received his answer, and it was a very bitter moment
for him. He had hardly dared hope that this bright, beautiful child
could care for him, yet the realization came home to him none the less
keenly. When Miss Madeline, paling and flushing by turns, came shyly
in he had recovered his self-control sufficiently to be able to say
"good evening" in a calm voice.
Miss Madeline sat down opposite to him. At that moment she was
devoutly thankful that she had never had any other proposal to refuse.
It was a dreadful ordeal. If he would only help her out! But he did
not speak and every moment of silence made it worse.
"I—received your letter, Mr. Thorne," she faltered at last, looking
distressfully down at the floor.
"My letter!" Mr. Thorne turned towards her. In her agitation Miss
Madeline did not notice the surprise in his face and tone.
"Yes," she said, gaining a little courage since the ice was broken.
"It—it—was a very great surprise to me. I never thought you—you
cared for me as—as you said. And I am very sorry because—because I
cannot return your affection. And so, of course, I cannot marry you."
Mr. Thorne put his hand over his eyes again. He understood now that
there had been some mistake and that Miss Madeline had received the
letter he had written to her niece. Well, it did not matter—the
appearance of the young man in the garden had settled that. Would he
tell Miss Madeline of her mistake? No, it would only humiliate her and
it made no difference, since she had refused him.
"I suppose it is of no use to ask you to reconsider your decision?" he
"Oh, no," cried Miss Madeline almost aghast. She was afraid he might
ask it after all. "Not in the least use. I am sorry—so very
sorry—but I could not answer differently. We—I hope—this will make
no difference in our friendly relations, Mr. Thorne?"
"Not at all," said Mr. Thorne gravely. "We will try to forget that it
He bowed sadly and went out. Miss Madeline watched him guiltily as he
walked across the lawn. He looked heart-broken. How dreadful it had
been! And Lina had refused twelve men! How could she have lived
"Perhaps one gets accustomed to doing it," reflected Miss Madeline.
"But I am sure I never could."
"Did Mr. Thorne feel very badly?" whispered Lina that night.
"I'm afraid he did," confessed Miss Madeline sorrowfully. "He looked
so pale and sad, Lina, that my heart ached for him. I am very thankful
that I have never had any other proposals to decline. It is a very
unpleasant experience. But," she added, with a little tinge of
satisfaction in her sweet voice, "I am glad I had one. It—it has made
me feel more like other people, you know, dear."
Miss Sally's Company
"How beautiful!" said Mary Seymour delightedly, as they dismounted
from their wheels on the crest of the hill. "Ida, who could have
supposed that such a view would be our reward for climbing that long,
tedious hill with its ruts and stones? Don't you feel repaid?"
"Yes, but I am dreadfully thirsty," said Ida, who was always practical
and never as enthusiastic over anything as Mary was. Yet she, too,
felt a keen pleasure in the beauty of the scene before them. Almost at
their feet lay the sea, creaming and shimmering in the mellow
sunshine. Beyond, on either hand, stretched rugged brown cliffs and
rocks, here running out to sea in misty purple headlands, there
curving into bays and coves that seemed filled up with sunlight and
glamour and pearly hazes; a beautiful shore and, seemingly, a lonely
one. The only house visible from where the girls stood was a tiny grey
one, with odd, low eaves and big chimneys, that stood down in the
little valley on their right, where the cliffs broke away to let a
brook run out to sea and formed a small cove, on whose sandy shore the
waves lapped and crooned within a stone's throw of the house. On
either side of the cove a headland made out to sea, curving around to
enclose the sparkling water as in a cup.
"What a picturesque spot!" said Mary.
"But what a lonely one!" protested Ida. "Why, there isn't another
house in sight. I wonder who lives in it. Anyway, I'm going down to
ask them for a drink of water."
"I'd like to ask for a square meal, too," said Mary, laughing. "I am
discovering that I am hungry. Fine scenery is very satisfying to the
soul, to be sure, but it doesn't still the cravings of the inner girl.
And we've wheeled ten miles this afternoon. I'm getting hungrier every
They reached the little grey house by way of a sloping, grassy lane.
Everything about it was very neat and trim. In front a white-washed
paling shut in the garden which, sheltered as it was by the house, was
ablaze with poppies and hollyhocks and geraniums. A path, bordered by
big white clam shells, led through it to the front door, whose steps
were slabs of smooth red sandstone from the beach.
"No children here, certainly," whispered Ida. "Every one of those clam
shells is placed just so. And this walk is swept every day. No, we
shall never dare to ask for anything to eat here. They would be afraid
of our scattering crumbs."
Ida lifted her hand to knock, but before she could do so, the door was
thrown open and a breathless little lady appeared on the threshold.
She was very small, with an eager, delicately featured face and dark
eyes twinkling behind gold-rimmed glasses. She was dressed
immaculately in an old-fashioned gown of grey silk with a white muslin
fichu crossed over her shoulders, and her silvery hair fell on each
side of her face in long, smooth curls that just touched her shoulders
and bobbed and fluttered with her every motion; behind, it was caught
up in a knot on her head and surmounted by a tiny lace cap.
She looks as if she had just stepped out of a bandbox of last century,
"Are you Cousin Abner's girls?" demanded the little lady eagerly.
There was such excitement and expectation in her face and voice that
both the Seymour girls felt uncomfortably that they ought to be
"Cousin Abner's girls."
"No," said Mary reluctantly, "we're not. We are only—Martin Seymour's
All the light went out of the little lady's face, as if some
illuminating lamp had suddenly been quenched behind it. She seemed
fairly to droop under her disappointment. As for the rest, the name of
Martin Seymour evidently conveyed no especial meaning to her ears. How
could she know that he was a multi-millionaire who was popularly
supposed to breakfast on railroads and lunch on small corporations,
and that his daughters were girls whom all people delighted to honour?
"No, of course you are not Cousin Abner's girls," she said
sorrowfully. "I'd have known you couldn't be if I had just stopped to
think. Because you are dark and they would be fair, of course; Cousin
Abner and his wife were both fair. But when I saw you coming down the
lane—I was peeking through the hall window upstairs, you know, I and
Juliana—I was sure you were Helen and Beatrice at last. And I can't
help wishing you were!"
"I wish we were, too, since you expected them," said Mary, smiling.
"Oh, I wasn't really expecting them," broke in the little lady. "Only
I am always hoping that they will come. They never have yet, but
Trenton isn't so very far away, and it is so lonely here. I just long
for company—I and Juliana—and I thought I was going to have it
today. Cousin Abner came to see me once since I moved here and he said
the girls would come, too, but that was six months ago and they
haven't come yet. But perhaps they will soon. It is always something
to look forward to, you know."
She talked in a sweet, chirpy voice like a bird's. There were pathetic
notes in it, too, as the girls instinctively felt. How very quaint and
sweet and unworldly she was! Mary found herself feeling indignant at
Cousin Abner's girls, whoever they were, for their neglect.
"We are out for a spin on our wheels," said Ida, "and we are very
thirsty. We thought perhaps you would be kind enough to give us a
drink of water."
"Oh, my dear, anything—anything I have is at your service," said the
little lady delightedly. "If you will come in, I will get you some
"I am afraid it is too much trouble," began Mary.
"Oh, no, no," cried the little lady. "It is a pleasure. I love doing
things for people, I wish more of them would come to give me the
chance. I never have any company, and I do so long for it. It's very
lonesome here at Golden Gate. Oh, if you would only stay to tea with
me, it would make me so happy. I am all prepared. I prepare every
Saturday morning, in particular, so that if Cousin Abner's girls did
come, I would be all ready. And when nobody comes, Juliana and I have
to eat everything up ourselves. And that is bad for us—it gives
Juliana indigestion. If you would only stay!"
"We will," agreed Ida promptly. "And we're glad of the chance. We are
both terribly hungry, and it is very good of you to ask us."
"Oh, indeed, it isn't! It's just selfishness in me, that's what it is,
pure selfishness! I want company so much. Come in, my dears, and I
suppose I must introduce myself because you don't know me, do you now?
I'm Miss Sally Temple, and this is Golden Gate Cottage. Dear me, this
is something like living. You are special providences, that you are,
She whisked them through a quaint little parlour, where everything was
as dainty and neat and old-fashioned as herself, and into a spare
bedroom beyond it, to put off their hats.
"Now, just excuse me a minute while I run out and tell Juliana that we
are going to have company to tea. She will be so glad, Juliana will.
Make yourselves at home, my dears."
"Isn't she delicious?" said Mary, when Miss Sally had tripped out.
"I'd like to shake Cousin Abner's girls. This is what Dot Halliday
would call an adventure, Ida."
"Isn't it! Miss Sally and this quaint old spot both seem like a
chapter out of the novels our grandmothers cried over. Look here,
Mary, she is lonely and our visit seems like a treat to her. Let us
try to make it one. Let's just chum with her and tell her all about
ourselves and our amusements and our dresses. That sounds frivolous,
but you know what I mean. She'll like it. Let's be company in real
earnest for her."
When Miss Sally came back, she was attended by Juliana carrying a tray
of lemonade glasses. Juliana proved to be a diminutive lass of about
fourteen whose cheerful, freckled face wore an expansive grin of
pleasure. Evidently Juliana was as fond of "company" as her mistress
was. Afterwards, the girls overheard a subdued colloquy between Miss
Sally and Juliana out in the hall.
"Go set the table, Juliana, and put on Grandmother Temple's wedding
china—be sure you dust it carefully—and the best tablecloth—and be
sure you get the crease straight—and put some sweet peas in the
centre—and be sure they are fresh. I want everything extra nice,
"Yes'm, Miss Sally, I'll see to it. Isn't it great to have company,
Miss Sally?" whispered Juliana.
The Seymour girls long remembered that tea table and the delicacies
with which it was heaped. Privately, they did not wonder that Juliana
had indigestion when she had to eat many such unaided. Being hungry,
they did full justice to Miss Sally's good things, much to that little
She told them all about herself. She had lived at Golden Gate Cottage
only a year.
"Before that, I lived away down the country at Millbridge with a
cousin. My Uncle Ephraim owned Golden Gate Cottage, and when he died
he left it to me and I came here to live. It is a pretty place, isn't
it? You see those two headlands out there? In the morning, when the
sun rises, the water between them is just a sea of gold, and that is
why Uncle Ephraim had a fancy to call his place Golden Gate. I love it
here. It is so nice to have a home of my own. I would be quite content
if I had more company. But I have you today, and perhaps Beatrice and
Helen will come next week. So I've really a great deal to be thankful
"What is your Cousin Abner's other name?" asked Mary, with a vague
recollection of hearing of Beatrice and Helen—somebody—in Trenton.
"Reed—Abner Abimelech Reed," answered Miss Sally promptly. "A.A.
Reed, he signs himself now. He is very well-to-do, I am told, and he
carries on business in town. He was a very fine young man, my Cousin
Abner. I don't know his wife."
Mary and Ida exchanged glances. Beatrice and Helen Reed! They knew
them slightly as the daughters of a new-rich family who were
hangers-on of the fashionable society in Trenton. They were regarded
as decidedly vulgar, and so far their efforts to gain an entry into
the exclusive circle where the Seymours and their like revolved had
not been very successful.
"I'm afraid Miss Sally will wait a long while before she sees Cousin
Abner's girls," said Mary, when they had gone back to the parlour and
Miss Sally had excused herself to superintend the washing of
Grandmother Temple's wedding china. "They probably look on her as a
poor relation to be ignored altogether; whereas, if they were only
like her, Trenton society would have made a place for them long ago."
The Seymour girls enjoyed that visit as much as Miss Sally did. She
was eager to hear all about their girlish lives and amusements. They
told her of their travels, of famous men and women they had seen, of
parties they had attended, the dresses they wore, the little fads and
hobbies of their set—all jumbled up together and all listened to
eagerly by Miss Sally and also by Juliana, who was permitted to sit on
the stairs out in the hall and so gather in the crumbs of this
"Oh, you've been such pleasant company," said Miss Sally when the
girls went away.
Mary took the little lady's hands in hers and looked affectionately
down into her face.
"Would you like it—you and Juliana—if we came out to see you often?
And perhaps brought some of our friends with us?"
"Oh, if you only would!" breathed Miss Sally.
Mary laughed and, obeying a sudden impulse, bent and kissed Miss
"We'll come then," she promised. "Please look upon us as your 'steady
The girls kept their word. Thereafter, nearly every Saturday of the
summer found them taking tea with Miss Sally at Golden Gate. Sometimes
they came alone; sometimes they brought other girls. It soon became a
decided "fad" in their set to go to see Miss Sally. Everybody who met
her loved her at sight. It was considered a special treat to be taken
by the Seymours to Golden Gate.
As for Miss Sally, her cup of happiness was almost full. She had
"company" to her heart's content and of the very kind she
loved—bright, merry, fun-loving girls who devoured her dainties with
a frank zest that delighted her, filled the quaint old rooms with
laughter and life, and chattered to her of all their plans and frolics
and hopes. There was just one little cloud on Miss Sally's fair sky.
"If only Cousin Abner's girls would come!" she once said wistfully to
Mary. "Nobody can quite take the place of one's own, you know. My
heart yearns after them."
Mary was very silent and thoughtful as she drove back to Trenton that
night. Two days afterwards, she went to Mrs. Gardiner's lawn party.
The Reed girls were there. They were tall, fair, handsome girls,
somewhat too lavishly and pronouncedly dressed in expensive gowns and
hats, and looking, as they felt, very much on the outside of things.
They brightened and bridled, however, when Mrs. Gardiner brought Mary
Seymour up and introduced her. If there was one thing on earth that
the Reed girls longed for more than another it was to "get in" with
the Seymour girls.
After Mary had chatted with them for a few minutes in a friendly way,
she said, "I think we have a mutual friend in Miss Sally Temple of
Golden Gate, haven't we? I'm sure I've heard her speak of you."
The Reed girls flushed. They did not care to have the rich Seymour
girls know of their connection with that queer old cousin of their
father's who lived in that out-of-the-world spot up-country.
"She is a distant cousin of ours," said Beatrice carelessly, "but
we've never met her."
"Oh, how much you have missed!" said Mary frankly. "She is the
sweetest and most charming little lady I have ever met, and I am proud
to number her among my friends. Golden Gate is such an idyllic little
spot, too. We go there so often that I fear Miss Sally will think we
mean to outwear our welcome. We hope to have her visit us in town this
winter. Well, good-by for now. I'll tell Miss Sally I've met you. She
will be pleased to hear about you."
When Mary had gone, the Reed girls looked at each other.
"I suppose we ought to have gone to see Cousin Sally before," said
Beatrice. "Father said we ought to."
"How on earth did the Seymours pick her up?" said Helen. "Of course we
must go and see her."
Go they did. The very next day Miss Sally's cup of happiness brimmed
right over, for Cousin Abner's girls came to Golden Gate at last. They
were very nice to her, too. Indeed, in spite of a good deal of
snobbishness and false views of life, they were good-hearted girls
under it all; and some plain common sense they had inherited from
their father came to the surface and taught them to see that Miss
Sally was a relative of whom anyone might be proud. They succumbed to
her charm, as the others had done, and thoroughly enjoyed their visit
to Golden Gate. They went away promising to come often again; and I
may say right here that they kept their promise, and a real friendship
grew up between Miss Sally and "Cousin Abner's girls" that was
destined to work wonders for the latter, not only socially and
mentally but spiritually as well, for it taught them that sincerity
and honest kindliness of heart and manner are the best passports
everywhere, and that pretence of any kind is a vulgarity not to be
tolerated. This took time, of course. The Reed girls could not discard
their snobbishness all at once. But in the end it was pretty well
taken out of them.
Miss Sally never dreamed of this or the need for it. She loved Cousin
Abner's girls from the first and always admired them exceedingly.
"And then it is so good to have your own folks coming as company," she
told the Seymour girls. "Oh, I'm just in the seventh heaven of
happiness. But, dearies, I think you will always be my favourites—mine
and Juliana's. I've plenty of company now and it's all thanks to you."
"Oh, no," said Mary quickly. "Miss Sally, your company comes to you
for just your own sake. You've made Golden Gate a veritable Mecca for
us all. You don't know and you never will know how much good you have
done us. You are so good and true and sweet that we girls all feel as
if we were bound to live up to you, don't you see? And we all love
you, Miss Sally."
"I'm so glad," breathed Miss Sally with shining eyes, "and so is
Mrs. March's Revenge
"I declare, it is a real fall day," said Mrs. Stapp, dropping into a
chair with a sigh of relief as Mrs. March ushered her into the cosy
little sitting-room. "The wind would chill the marrow in your bones;
winter'll be here before you know it."
"That's so," assented Mrs. March, bustling about to stir up the fire.
"But I don't know as I mind it at all. Winter is real pleasant when it
does come, but I must say, I don't fancy these betwixt-and-between
days much. Sit up to the fire, Theodosia. You look real blue."
"I feel so too. Lawful heart, but this is comfort. This chimney-corner
of yours, Anna, is the cosiest spot in the world."
"When did you get home from Maitland?" asked Mrs. March. "Did you
have a pleasant time? And how did you leave Emily and the children?"
Mrs. Stapp took this trio of interrogations in calm detail.
"I came home Saturday," she said, as she unrolled her knitting. "Nice
wet day it was too! And as for my visit, yes, I enjoyed myself pretty,
well, not but what I worried over Peter's rheumatism a good deal.
Emily is well, and the children ought to be, for such rampageous young
ones I never saw! Emily can't do no more with them than an old hen
with a brood of ducks. But, lawful heart, Anna, don't mind about my
little affairs! The news Peter had for me about you when I got home
fairly took my breath. He came down to the garden gate to shout it
before I was out of the wagon. I couldn't believe but what he was
joking at first. You should have seen Peter. He had an old red shawl
tied round his rheumatic shoulder, and he was waving his arms like a
crazy man. I declare, I thought the chimney was afire! Theodosia,
Theodosia!' he shouted. 'Anna March has had a fortune left her by her
brother in Australy, and she's bought the old Carroll place, and is
going to move up there!' That was his salute when I got home. I'd have
been over before this to hear all about it, but things were at such
sixes and sevens in the house that I couldn't go visiting until I'd
straightened them out a bit. Peter's real neat, as men go, but, lawful
heart, such a mess as he makes of housekeeping! I didn't know you had
a brother living."
"No more did I, Theodosia. I thought, as everyone else did, that poor
Charles was at the bottom of the sea forty years ago. It's that long
since he ran away from home. He had a quarrel with Father, and he was
always dreadful high-spirited. He went to sea, and we heard that he
had sailed for England in the Helen Ray. She was never heard of
after, and we all supposed that my poor brother had perished with her.
And four weeks ago I got a letter from a firm of lawyers in Melbourne,
Australia, saying that my brother, Charles Bennett, had died and left
all his fortune to me. I couldn't believe it at first, but they sent
me some things of his that he had when he left home, and there was an
old picture of myself among them with my name written on it in my own
hand, so then I knew there was no mistake. But whether Charles did
sail in the Helen Ray, or if he did, how he escaped from her and got
to Australia, I don't know, and it isn't likely I ever will."
"Well, of all wonderful things!" commented Mrs. Stapp.
"I was glad to hear that I was heir to so much money," said Mrs. March
firmly. "At first I felt as if it were awful of me to be glad when it
came to me by my brother's death. But I mourned for poor Charles forty
years ago, and I can't sense that he has only just died. Not but what
I'd rather have seen him come home alive than have all the money in
the world, but it has come about otherwise, and as the money is
lawfully mine, I may as well feel pleased about it."
"And you've bought the Carroll place," said Mrs. Stapp, with the
freedom of a privileged friend. "Whatever made you do it? I'm sure you
are as cosy here as need be, and nobody but yourself. Isn't this house
big enough for you?"
"No, it isn't. All my life I've been hankering for a good, big, roomy
house, and all my life I've had to put up with little boxes of places,
not big enough to turn round in. I've been contented, and made the
best of what I had, but now that I can afford it, I mean to have a
house that will suit me. The Carroll house is just what I want, for
all it is a little old-fashioned. I've always had a notion of that
house, although I never expected to own it any more than the moon."
"It's a real handsome place," admitted Mrs. Stapp, "but I expect it
will need a lot of fixing up. Nobody has lived in it for six years.
When are you going to move in?"
"In about three weeks, if all goes well. I'm having it all painted and
done over inside. The outside can wait until the spring."
"It's queer how things come about," said Mrs. Stapp meditatively. "I
guess old Mrs. Carroll never imagined her home was going to pass into
other folks' hands as it has. When you and I were girls, and Louise
Carroll was giving herself such airs over us, you didn't much expect
to ever stand in her shoes, did you? Do you remember Lou?"
"Yes, I do," said Mrs. March sharply. A change came over her sonsy,
smiling face. It actually looked hard and revengeful, and a cruel
light flickered in her dark brown eyes. "I'll not forget Lou Carroll
as long as I live. She is the only person in this world I ever hated.
I suppose it is sinful to say it, but I hate her still, and always
"I never liked her myself," admitted Mrs. Stapp. "She thought herself
above us all. Well, for that matter I suppose she was—but she needn't
have rubbed it in so."
"Well, she might have been above me," said Mrs. March bitterly, "but
she wasn't above twitting and snubbing me every chance she got. She
always had a spite at me from the time we were children together at
school. When we grew up it was worse. I couldn't begin to tell you all
the times that girl insulted me. But there was once in particular—I'll
never forgive her for it. I was at a party, and she was there too, and
so was that young Trenham Manning, who was visiting the Ashleys. Do you
remember him, Dosia? He was a handsome young fellow, and Lou had a
liking for him, so all the girls said. But he never looked at her that
night, and he kept by me the whole time. It made Lou furious, and at
last she came up to me with a sneer on her face, and her black eyes
just snapping, and said, 'Miss Bennett, Mother told me to tell you to
tell your ma that if that plain sewing isn't done by tomorrow night
she'll send for it and give it to somebody else; if people engage to
have work done by a certain time and don't keep their word, they
needn't expect to get it.' Oh, how badly I felt! Mother and I were
poor, and had to work hard, but we had feelings just like other
people, and to be insulted like that before Trenham Manning! I just
burst out crying then and there, and ran away and hid. It was very
silly of me, but I couldn't help it. That stings me yet. If I was ever
to get a chance to pay Lou Carroll out for that, I'd take it without
"Oh, but that is unchristian!" protested Mrs. Stapp feebly.
"Perhaps so, but it's the way I feel. Old Parson Jones used to say
that people were marbled good and bad pretty even, but that in
everybody there were one or two streaks just pure wicked. I guess Lou
Carroll is my wicked streak. I haven't seen or heard of her for
years—ever since she married that worthless Dency Baxter and went
away. She may be dead for all I know. I don't expect ever to have a
chance to pay her out. But mark what I say, Theodosia, if I ever have,
Mrs. March snipped off her thread, as if she challenged the world.
Mrs. Stapp felt uncomfortable over the unusual display of feeling she
had evoked, and hastened to change the subject.
In three weeks' time Mrs. March was established in her new home, and
the "old Carroll house" blossomed out into renewed splendour.
Theodosia Stapp, who had dropped in to see it, was in a rapture of
"You have a lovely home now, Anna. I used to think it fine enough in
the Carrolls' time, but it wasn't as grand as this. And that reminds
me, I have something to tell you, but I don't want you to get as
excited as you did the last time I mentioned her name. You remember
the last day I was to see you we were talking of Lou Carroll? Well,
next day I was downtown in a store, and who should sail in but Mrs.
Joel Kent, from Oriental. You know Mrs. Joel—Sarah Chapple that was?
She and her man keep a little hotel up at Oriental. They're not very
well off. She is a cousin of old Mrs. Carroll, but, lawful heart, the
Carrolls didn't used to make much of the relationship! Well, Mrs. Joel
and I had a chat. She told me all her troubles—she always has lots of
them. Sarah was always of a grumbling turn, and she had a brand-new
stock of them this time. What do you think, Anna March? Lou
Carroll—or Mrs. Baxter, I suppose I should say—is up there at Joel
Kent's at Oriental, dying of consumption; leastwise, Mrs. Joel says
"Lou Carroll dying at Oriental!" cried Mrs. March.
"Yes. She came there from goodness knows where, about a month
ago—might as well have dropped from the clouds, Mrs. Joel says, for
all she expected of it. Her husband is dead, and I guess he led her a
life of it when he was alive, and she's as poor as second skimmings.
She was aiming to come here, Mrs. Joel says, but when she got to
Oriental she wasn't fit to stir a step further, and the Kents had to
keep her. I gather from what Mrs. Joel said that she's rather touched
in her mind too, and has an awful hankering to get home here—to this
very house. She appears to have the idea that it is hers, and all
just the same as it used to be. I guess she is a sight of trouble, and
Mrs. Joel ain't the woman to like that. But there! She has to work
most awful hard, and I suppose a sick person doesn't come handy in a
hotel. I guess you've got your revenge, Anna, without lifting a finger
to get it. Think of Lou Carroll coming to that!"
The next day was cold and raw. The ragged, bare trees in the old
Carroll grounds shook and writhed in the gusts of wind. Now and then a
drifting scud of rain dashed across the windows. Mrs. March looked out
with a shiver, and turned thankfully to her own cosy fireside again.
Presently she thought she heard a low knock at the front door, and
went to see. As she opened it a savage swirl of damp wind rushed in,
and the shrinking figure leaning against one of the fluted columns of
the Grecian porch seemed to cower before its fury. It was a woman who
stood there, a woman whose emaciated face wore a piteous expression,
as she lifted it to Mrs. March.
"You don't know me, of course," she said, with a feeble attempt at
dignity. "I am Mrs. Baxter. I—I used to live here long ago. I thought
I'd walk over today and see my old home."
A fit of coughing interrupted her words, and she trembled like a leaf.
"Gracious me!" exclaimed Mrs. March blankly. "You don't mean to tell
me that you have walked over from Oriental today—and you a sick
woman! For pity's sake, come in, quick. And if you're not wet to the
She fairly pulled her visitor into the hall, and led her to the
"Sit down. Take this big easy-chair right up to the fire—so. Let me
take your bonnet and shawl. I must run right out to tell Hannah to get
you a hot drink."
"You are very kind," whispered the other. "I don't know you, but you
look like a woman I used to know when I was a girl. She was a Mrs.
Bennett, and she had a daughter, Anna. Do you know what became of her?
I forget. I forget everything now."
"My name is March," said Mrs. March briefly, ignoring the question. "I
don't suppose you ever heard it before."
She wrapped her own warm shawl about the other woman's thin shoulders.
Then she hastened to the kitchen and soon returned, carrying a tray of
food and a steaming hot drink. She wheeled a small table up to her
visitor's side and said, very kindly,
"Now, take a bite, my dear, and this raspberry vinegar will warm you
right up. It is a dreadful day for you to be out. Why on earth didn't
Joel Kent drive you over?"
"They didn't know I was coming," whispered Mrs. Baxter anxiously.
"I—I ran away. Sarah wouldn't have let me come if she had known. But
I wanted to come so much. It is so nice to be home again."
Mrs. March watched her guest as she ate and drank. It was plain enough
that her mind, or rather her memory, was affected. She did not
realize that this was no longer her home. At moments she seemed to
fancy herself back in the past again. Once or twice she called Mrs.
Presently a sharp knock was heard at the hall door. Mrs. March excused
herself and went out. In the porch stood Theodosia Stapp and a woman
whom Mrs. March did not at first glance recognize—a tall,
aggressive-looking person, whose sharp black eyes darted in past Mrs.
March and searched every corner of the hall before anyone had time to
"Lawful heart!" puffed Mrs. Stapp, as she stepped in out of the biting
wind. "I'm right out of breath. Mrs. March, allow me to introduce Mrs.
Kent. We're looking for Mrs. Baxter. She has run away, and we thought
perhaps she came here. Did she?"
"She is in my sitting-room now," said Mrs. March quietly.
"Didn't I say so?" demanded Mrs. Kent, turning to Mrs. Stapp. She
spoke in a sharp, high-pitched tone that grated on Mrs. March's
nerves. "Doesn't she beat all! She slipped away this morning when I
was busy in the kitchen. And to think of her walking six miles over
here in this wind! I dunno how she did it. I don't believe she's half
as sick as she pretends. Well, I've got my wagon out here, Mrs. March,
and I'll be much obliged if you'll tell her I'm here to take her home.
I s'pose we'll have a fearful scene."
"I don't see that there is any call for a scene," said Mrs. March
firmly. "The poor woman has just got here, and she thinks she has got
home. She might as well think so if it is of any comfort to her. You'd
better leave her here."
Theodosia gave a stifled gasp of amazement, but Mrs. March went
"I'll take care of the poor soul as long as she needs it—and that
will not be very long in my opinion, for if ever I saw death in a
woman's face, it is looking out of hers. I've plenty of time to look
after her and make her comfortable."
Mrs. Joel Kent was voluble in her thanks. It was evident that she was
delighted to get the sick woman off her hands. Mrs. March cut her
short with an invitation to stay to tea, but Mrs. Kent declined.
"I've got to hurry home straight off and get the men's suppers. Such a
scamper to have over that woman! I'm sure I'm thankful you're willing
to let her stay, for she'd never be contented anywhere else. I'll send
over what few things she has tomorrow."
When Mrs. Kent had gone, Mrs. March and Mrs. Stapp looked at each
"And so this is your revenge, Anna March?" said the latter solemnly.
"Do you remember what you said to me about her?"
"Yes, I do, Theodosia, and I thought I meant every word of it. But I
guess my wicked streak ran out just when I needed it to depend on.
Besides, you see, I've thought of Lou Carroll all these years as she
was when I knew her—handsome and saucy and proud. But that poor
creature in there isn't any more like the Lou Carroll I knew than you
are—not a mite. The old Lou Carroll is dead already, and my spite is
dead with her. Will you come in and see her?"
"Well, no, not just now. She wouldn't know me, and Mrs. Joel says
strangers kind of excite her—a pretty bad place the hotel would be
for her at that rate, I should think. I must go and tell Peter about
it, and I'll send up some of my black currant jam for her."
When Mrs. Stapp had gone, Mrs. March went back to her guest. Lou
Baxter had fallen asleep with her head pillowed on the soft plush back
of her chair. Mrs. March looked at the hollow, hectic cheeks and the
changed, wasted features, and her bright brown eyes softened with
"Poor Lou," she said softly, as she brushed a loose lock of grey hair
back from the sleeping woman's brow.
Nan was polishing the tumblers at the pantry window, outside of which
John Osborne was leaning among the vines. His arms were folded on the
sill and his straw hat was pushed back from his flushed, eager face as
he watched Nan's deft movements.
Beyond them, old Abe Stewart was mowing the grass in the orchard with
a scythe and casting uneasy glances at the pair. Old Abe did not
approve of John Osborne as a suitor for Nan. John was poor; and old
Abe, although he was the wealthiest farmer in Granville, was bent on
Nan's making a good match. He looked upon John Osborne as a mere
fortune-hunter, and it was a thorn in the flesh to see him talking to
Nan while he, old Abe, was too far away to hear what they were saying.
He had a good deal of confidence in Nan, she was a sensible,
level-headed girl. Still, there was no knowing what freak even a
sensible girl might take into her head, and Nan was so determined when
she did make up her mind. She was his own daughter in that.
However, old Abe need not have worried himself. It could not be said
that Nan was helping John Osborne on in his wooing at all. Instead,
she was teasing and snubbing him by turns.
Nan was very pretty. Moreover, Nan was well aware of the fact. She
knew that the way her dark hair curled around her ears and forehead
was bewitching; that her complexion was the envy of every girl in
Granville; that her long lashes had a trick of drooping over very
soft, dark eyes in a fashion calculated to turn masculine heads
hopelessly. John Osborne knew all this too, to his cost. He had called
to ask Nan to go with him to the Lone Lake picnic the next day. At
this request Nan dropped her eyes and murmured that she was sorry, but
he was too late—she had promised to go with somebody else. There was
no need of Nan's making such a mystery about it. The somebody else was
her only cousin, Ned Bennett, who had had a quarrel with his own girl;
the latter lived at Lone Lake, and Ned had coaxed Nan to go over with
him and try her hand at patching matters up between him and his
offended lady-love. And Nan, who was an amiable creature and
tender-hearted where anybody's lover except her own was concerned, had
agreed to go.
But John Osborne at once jumped to the conclusion—as Nan had very
possibly meant him to do—that the mysterious somebody was Bryan Lee,
and the thought was gall and wormwood to him.
"Whom are you going with?" he asked.
"That would be telling," Nan said, with maddening indifference.
"Is it Bryan Lee?" demanded John.
"It might be," said Nan reflectively, "and then again, you know, it
John was silent; he was no match for Nan when it came to a war of
words. He scowled moodily at the shining tumblers.
"Nan, I'm going out west," he said finally.
Nan stared at him with her last tumbler poised in mid-air, very much
as if he had announced his intention of going to the North Pole or
"John Osborne, are you crazy?"
"Not quite. And I'm in earnest, I can tell you that."
Nan set the glass down with a decided thud. John's curtness displeased
her. He needn't suppose that it made any difference to her if he took
it into his stupid head to go to Afghanistan.
"Oh!" she remarked carelessly. "Well, I suppose if you've got the
Western fever your case is hopeless. Would it be impertinent to
inquire why you are going?"
"There's nothing else for me to do, Nan," said John, "Bryan Lee is
going to foreclose the mortgage next month and I'll have to clear out.
He says he can't wait any longer. I've worked hard enough and done my
best to keep the old place, but it's been uphill work and I'm beaten
Nan sat blankly down on the stool by the window. Her face was a study
which John Osborne, watching old Abe's movements, missed.
"Well, I never!" she gasped. "John Osborne, do you mean to tell me
that Bryan Lee is going to do that? How did he come to get your
"Bought it from old Townsend," answered John briefly. "Oh, he's within
his rights, I'll admit. I've even got behind with the interest this
past year. I'll go out west and begin over again."
"It's a burning shame!" said Nan violently.
John looked around in time to see two very red spots on her cheeks.
"You don't care though, Nan."
"I don't like to see anyone unjustly treated," declared Nan, "and that
is what you've been. You've never had half a chance. And after the way
you've slaved, too!"
"If Lee would wait a little I might do something yet, now that Aunt
Alice is gone," said John bitterly. "I'm not afraid of work. But he
won't; he means to take his spite out at last."
"Surely Bryan isn't so mean as that," she stammered. "Perhaps he'll
change his mind if—if—"
Osborne wheeled about with face aflame.
"Don't you say a word to him about it, Nan!" he cried. "Don't you go
interceding with him for me. I've got some pride left. He can take the
farm from me, and he can take you maybe, but he can't take my
self-respect. I won't beg him for mercy. Don't you dare to say a word
to him about it."
Nan's eyes flashed. She was offended to find her sympathy flung back
in her face.
"Don't be alarmed," she said tartly. "I shan't bother myself about
your concerns. I've no doubt you're able to look out for them
Osborne turned away. As he did so he saw Bryan Lee driving up the
lane. Perhaps Nan saw it too. At any rate, she leaned out of the
"John! John!" Osborne half turned. "You'll be up again soon, won't
His face hardened. "I'll come to say goodbye before I go, of course,"
he answered shortly.
He came face to face with Lee at the gate, where the latter was tying
his sleek chestnut to a poplar. He acknowledged his rival's
condescending nod with a scowl. Lee looked after him with a satisfied
"Poor beggar!" he muttered. "He feels pretty cheap I reckon. I've
spoiled his chances in this quarter. Old Abe doesn't want any
poverty-stricken hangers-on about his place and Nan won't dream of
taking him when she knows he hasn't a roof over his head."
He stopped for a chat with old Abe. Old Abe approved of Bryan Lee. He
was a son-in-law after old Abe's heart.
Meanwhile, Nan had seated herself at the pantry window and was
ostentatiously hemming towels in apparent oblivion of suitor No. 2.
Nevertheless, when Bryan came up she greeted him with an unusually
sweet smile and at once plunged into an animated conversation. Bryan
had not come to ask her to go to the picnic—business prevented him
from going. But he meant to find out if she were going with John
Osborne. As Nan was serenely impervious to all hints, he was finally
forced to ask her bluntly if she was going to the picnic.
Well, yes, she expected to.
Oh! Might he ask with whom?
Nan didn't know that it was a question of public interest at all.
"It isn't with that Osborne fellow, is it?" demanded Bryan
Nan tossed her head. "Well, why not?" she asked.
"Look here, Nan," said Lee angrily, "if you're going to the picnic
with John Osborne I'm surprised at you. What do you mean by
encouraging him so? He's as poor as Job's turkey. I suppose you've
heard that I've been compelled to foreclose the mortgage on his farm."
Nan kept her temper sweetly—a dangerous sign, had Bryan but known it.
"Yes; he was telling me so this morning," she answered slowly.
"Oh, was he? I suppose he gave me my character?"
"No; he didn't say very much about it at all. He said of course you
were within your rights. But do you really mean to do it, Bryan?"
"Of course I do," said Bryan promptly. "I can't wait any longer for my
money, and I'd never get it if I did. Osborne can't even pay the
"It isn't because he hasn't worked hard enough, then," said Nan. "He
has just slaved on that place ever since he grew up."
"Well, yes, he has worked hard in a way. But he's kind of shiftless,
for all that—no manager, as you might say. Some folks would have been
clear by now, but Osborne is one of those men that are bound to get
behind. He hasn't got any business faculty."
"He isn't shiftless," said Nan quickly, "and it isn't his fault if he
has got behind. It's all because of his care for his aunt. He has had
to spend more on her doctor's bills than would have raised the
mortgage. And now that she is dead and he might have a chance to pull
up, you go and foreclose."
"A man must look out for Number One," said Bryan easily, admiring
Nan's downcast eyes and rosy cheeks. "I haven't any spite against
Osborne, but business is business, you know."
Nan opened her lips to say something but, remembering Osborne's
parting injunction, she shut them again. She shot a scornful glance at
Lee as he stood with his arms folded on the sill beside her.
Bryan lingered, talking small talk, until Nan announced that she must
see about getting tea.
"And you won't tell me who is going to take you to the picnic?" he
"Oh, it's Ned Bennett," said Nan indifferently.
Bryan felt relieved. He unpinned the huge cluster of violets on his
coat and laid them down on the sill beside her before he went. Nan
flicked them off with her fingers as she watched him cross the lawn,
his own self-satisfied smile upon his face.
A week later the Osborne homestead had passed into Bryan Lee's hands
and John Osborne was staying with his cousin at Thornhope, pending his
departure for the west. He had never been to see Nan since that last
afternoon, but Bryan Lee haunted the Stewart place. One day he
suddenly stopped coming and, although Nan was discreetly silent, in
due time it came to old Abe's ears by various driblets of gossip that
Nan had refused him.
Old Abe marched straightway home to Nan in a fury and demanded if this
were true. Nan curtly admitted that it was. Old Abe was so much taken
aback by her coolness that he asked almost meekly what was her reason
for doing such a fool trick.
"Because he turned John Osborne out of house and home," returned Nan
composedly. "If he hadn't done that there is no telling what might
have happened. I might even have married him, because I liked him very
well and it would have pleased you. At any rate, I wouldn't have
married John when you were against him. Now I mean to."
Old Abe stormed furiously at this, but Nan kept so provokingly cool
that he was conscious of wasting breath. He went off in a rage, but
Nan did not feel particularly anxious now that the announcement was
over. He would cool down, she knew. John Osborne worried her more. She
didn't see clearly how she was to marry him unless he asked her, and
he had studiously avoided her since the foreclosure.
But Nan did not mean to be baffled or to let her lover slip through
her fingers for want of a little courage. She was not old Abe
Stewart's daughter for nothing.
One day Ned Bennett dropped in and said that John Osborne would start
for the west in three days. That evening Nan went up to her room and
dressed herself in the prettiest dress she owned, combed her hair
around her sparkling face in bewitching curls, pinned a cluster of
apple blossoms at her belt, and, thus equipped, marched down in the
golden sunset light to the Mill Creek Bridge. John Osborne, on his
return from Thornhope half an hour later, found her there, leaning
over the rail among the willows.
Nan started in well-assumed surprise and then asked him why he had not
been to see her. John blushed—stammered—didn't know—had been busy.
Nan cut short his halting excuses by demanding to know if he were
really going away, and what he intended to do.
"I'll go out on the prairies and take up a claim," said Osborne
sturdily. "Begin life over again free of debt. It'll be hard work, but
I'm not afraid of that. I will succeed if it takes me years."
They walked on in silence. Nan came to the conclusion that Osborne
meant to hold his peace.
"John," she said tremulously, "won't—won't you find it very lonely
"Of course—I expect that. I shall have to get used to it."
Nan grew nervous. Proposing to a man was really very dreadful.
"Wouldn't it be—nicer for you"—she faltered—"that is—it wouldn't
be so lonely for you—would it—if—if you had me out there with you?"
John Osborne stopped squarely in the dusty road and looked at her.
"Nan!" he exclaimed.
"Oh, if you can't take a hint!" said Nan in despair.
It was all of an hour later that a man drove past them as they
loitered up the hill road in the twilight. It was Bryan Lee; he had
taken from Osborne his house and land, but he had not been able to
take Nan Stewart, after all.
Natty of Blue Point
Natty Miller strolled down to the wharf where Bliss Ford was tying up
the Cockawee. Bliss was scowling darkly at the boat, a trim new one,
painted white, whose furled sails seemed unaccountably wet and whose
glistening interior likewise dripped with moisture. A group of
fishermen on the wharf were shaking their heads sagely as Natty drew
"Might as well split her up for kindlings, Bliss," said Jake McLaren.
"You'll never get men to sail in her. It passed the first time, seeing
as only young Johnson was skipper, but when a boat turns turtle with
Captain Frank in command, there's something serious wrong with her."
"What's up?" asked Natty.
"The Cockawee upset out in the bay again this morning," answered
Will Scott. "That's the second time. The Grey Gull picked up the men
and towed her in. It's no use trying to sail her. Lobstermen ain't
going to risk their lives in a boat like that. How's things over at
Blue Point, Natty?"
"Pretty well," responded Natty laconically. Natty never wasted words.
He had not talked a great deal in his fourteen years of life, but he
was much given to thinking. He was rather undersized and insignificant
looking, but there were a few boys of his own age on the mainland who
knew that Natty had muscles.
"Has Everett heard anything from Ottawa about the lighthouse business
yet?" asked Will.
Natty shook his head.
"Think he's any chance of getting the app'intment?" queried Adam
"Not the ghost of a chance," said Cooper Creasy decidedly. "He's on
the wrong side of politics, that's what. Er rather his father was. A
Tory's son ain't going to get an app'intment from a Lib'ral
government, that's what."
"Mr. Barr says that Everett is too young to be trusted in such a
responsible position," quoted Natty gravely.
Cooper shrugged his shoulders.
"Mebbe—mebbe. Eighteen is kind of green, but everybody knows that
Ev's been the real lighthouse keeper for two years, since your father
took sick. Irving Elliott wants that light—has wanted it for
years—and he's a pretty strong pull at headquarters, that's what.
Barr owes him something for years of hard work at elections. I ain't
saying anything against Elliott, either. He's a good man, but your
father's son ought to have that light as sure as he won't get it,
"Any of you going to take in the sports tomorrow down at Summerside?"
asked Will Scott, in order to switch Cooper away from politics, which
were apt to excite him.
"I'm going, for one," said Adam. "There's to be a yacht race atween
the Summerside and Charlottetown boat clubs. Yes, I am going. Give you
a chance down to the station, Natty, if you want one."
Natty shook his head.
"Not going," he said briefly.
"You should celebrate Victoria Day," said Adam, patriotically.
"'Twenty-fourth o' May's the Queen's birthday, Ef we don't get a
holiday we'll all run away,' as we used to say at school. The good old
Queen is dead, but the day's been app'inted a national holiday in
honour of her memory and you should celebrate it becoming, Natty-boy."
"Ev and I can't both go, and he's going," explained Natty. "Prue and
I'll stay home to light up. Must be getting back now. Looks squally."
"I misdoubt if we'll have Queen's weather tomorrow," said Cooper,
squinting critically at the sky. "Looks like a northeast blow, that's
what. There goes Bliss, striding off and looking pretty mad. The
Cockawee's a dead loss to him, that's what. Nat's off—he knows how
to handle a boat middling well, too. Pity he's such a puny youngster.
Not much to him, I reckon."
Natty had cast loose in his boat, the Merry Maid, and hoisted his
sail. In a few minutes he was skimming gaily down the bay. The wind
was fair and piping and the Merry Maid went like a bird. Natty, at
the rudder, steered for Blue Point Island, a reflective frown on his
face. He was feeling in no mood for Victoria Day sports. In a very
short time he and Ev and Prue must leave Blue Point lighthouse, where
they had lived all their lives. To Natty it seemed as if the end of
all things would come then. Where would life be worth living away from
lonely, windy Blue Point Island?
David Miller had died the preceding winter after a long illness. He
had been lighthouse keeper at Blue Point for thirty years. His three
children had been born and brought up there, and there, four years
ago, the mother had died. But womanly little Prue had taken her place
well, and the boys were devoted to their sister. When their father
died, Everett had applied for the position of lighthouse keeper. The
matter was not yet publicly decided, but old Cooper Creasy had sized
the situation up accurately. The Millers had no real hope that Everett
would be appointed.
Victoria Day, while not absolutely stormy, proved to be rather
unpleasant. A choppy northeast wind blew up the bay, and the water was
rough enough. The sky was overcast with clouds, and the May air was
raw and chilly. At Blue Point the Millers were early astir, for if
Everett wanted to sail over to the mainland in time to catch the
excursion train, no morning naps were permissible. He was going alone.
Since only one of the boys could go, Natty had insisted that it should
be Everett, and Prue had elected to stay home with Natty. Prue had
small heart for Victoria Day that year. She did not feel even a thrill
of enthusiasm when Natty hoisted a flag and wreathed the Queen's
picture with creeping spruce. Prue felt as badly about leaving Blue
Point Island as the boys did.
The day passed slowly. In the afternoon the wind fell away to a dead
calm, but there was still a heavy swell on, and shortly before sunset
a fog came creeping up from the east and spread over the bay and
islands, so thick and white that Prue and Natty could not even see
Little Bear Island on the right.
"I'm glad Everett isn't coming back tonight," said Prue. "He could
never find his way cross the harbour in that fog."
"Isn't it thick, though," said Natty. "The light won't show far
At sunset they lighted the great lamps and then settled down to an
evening of reading. But it was not long before Natty looked up from
his book to say, "Hello, Prue, what was that? Thought I heard a
"So did I," said Prue. "I sounded like someone calling."
They hurried to the door, which looked out on the harbour. The night,
owing to the fog, was dark with a darkness that seemed almost
tangible. From somewhere out of that darkness came a muffled shouting,
like that of a person in distress.
"Prue, there's somebody in trouble out there!" exclaimed Natty.
"Oh, it's surely never Ev!" cried Prue.
Natty shook his head.
"Don't think so. Ev had no intention of coming back tonight. Get that
lantern, Prue. I must go and see what and who it is."
"Oh, Natty, you mustn't," cried Prue in distress. "There's a heavy
swell on yet—and the fog—oh, if you get lost—"
"I'll not get lost, and I must go, Prue. Maybe somebody is drowning
out there. It's not Ev, of course, but suppose it were! That's a good
Prue, with set face, had brought the lantern, resolutely choking back
the words of fear and protest that rushed to her lips. They hurried
down to the shore and Natty sprang into the little skiff he used for
rowing. He hastily lashed the lantern in the stern, cast loose the
painter, and lifted the oars.
"I'll be back as soon as possible," he called to Prue. "Wait here for
In a minute the shore was out of sight, and Natty found himself alone
in the black fog, with no guide but the cries for help, which already
were becoming fainter. They seemed to come from the direction of
Little Bear, and thither Natty rowed. It was a tough pull, and the
water was rough enough for the little dory. But Natty had been at home
with the oars from babyhood, and his long training and tough sinews
stood him in good stead now. Steadily and intrepidly he rowed along.
The water grew rougher as he passed out from the shelter of Blue Point
into the channel between the latter and Little Bear. The cries were
becoming very faint. What if he should be too late? He bent to the
oars with all his energy. Presently, by the smoother water, he knew he
must be in the lea of Little Bear. The cries sounded nearer. He must
already have rowed nearly a mile. The next minute he shot around a
small headland and right before him, dimly visible in the faint light
cast by the lantern through the fog, was an upturned boat with two men
clinging to it, one on each side, evidently almost exhausted. Natty
rowed cautiously up to the one nearest him, knowing that he must be
wary lest the grip of the drowning man overturn his own light skiff.
"Let go when I say," he shouted, "and don't—grab—anything, do you
hear? Don't—grab. Now, let go."
The next minute the man lay in the dory, dragged over the stern by
Netty's grip on his collar.
"Lie still," ordered Natty, clutching the oars. To row around the
overturned boat, amid the swirl of water about her, was a task that
taxed Netty's skill and strength to the utmost. The other man was
dragged in over the bow, and with a gasp of relief Natty pulled away
from the sinking boat. Once clear of her he could not row for a few
minutes; he was shaking from head to foot with the reaction from
tremendous effort and strain.
"This'll never do," he muttered. "I'm not going to be a baby now. But
will I ever be able to row back?"
Presently, however, he was able to grip his oars again and pull for
the lighthouse, whose beacon loomed dimly through the fog like a great
blur of whiter mist. The men, obedient to his orders, lay quietly
where he had placed them, and before long Natty was back again at the
lighthouse landing, where Prue was waiting, wild with anxiety. The men
were helped out and assisted up to the lighthouse, where Natty went to
hunt up dry clothes for them, and Prue flew about to prepare hot
"To think that that child saved us!" exclaimed one of the men. "Why, I
didn't think a grown man had the strength to do what he did. He is
your brother, I suppose, Miss Miller. You have another brother, I
"Oh, yes—Everett—but he is away," explained Prue. "We heard your
shouts and Natty insisted on going at once to your rescue."
"Well, he came just in time. I couldn't have held on another
minute—was so done up I couldn't have moved or spoken all the way
here even if he hadn't commanded me to keep perfectly still."
Natty returned at this moment and exclaimed, "Why, it is Mr. Barr. I
didn't recognize you before."
"Barr it is, young man. This gentleman is my friend, Mr. Blackmore. We
have been celebrating Victoria Day by a shooting tramp over Little
Bear. We hired a boat from Ford at the Harbour Head this morning—the
Cockawee, he called her—and sailed over. I don't know much about
running a boat, but Blackmore here thinks he does. We were at the
other side of the island when the fog came up. We hurried across it,
but it was almost dark when we reached our boat. We sailed around the
point and then the boat just simply upset—don't know why—"
"But I know why," interrupted Natty indignantly. "That Cockawee does
nothing but upset. She has turned turtle twice out in the harbour in
fine weather. Ford was a rascal to let her to you. He might have known
what would happen. Why—why—it was almost murder to let you go!"
"I thought there must be something queer about her," declared Mr.
Blackmore. "I do know how to handle a boat despite my friend's gibe,
and there was no reason why she should have upset like that. That Ford
ought to be horsewhipped."
Thanks to Prue's stinging hot decoctions of black currant drink, the
two gentlemen were no worse for their drenching and exposure, and the
next morning Natty took them to the mainland in the Merry Maid. When
he parted with them, Mr. Barr shook his hand heartily and said: "Thank
you, my boy. You're a plucky youngster and a skilful one, too. Tell
your brother that if I can get the Blue Point lighthouse berth for him
I will, and as for yourself, you will always find a friend in me, and
if I can ever do anything for you I will."
Two weeks later Everett received an official document formally
appointing him keeper of Blue Point Island light. Natty carried the
news to the mainland, where it was joyfully received among the
"Only right and fair," said Cooper Creasy. "Blue Point without a
Miller to light up wouldn't seem the thing at all, that's what. And
it's nothing but Ev's doo."
"Guess Natty had more to do with it than Ev," said Adam, perpetrating
a very poor pun and being immensely applauded therefor. It keyed Will
Scott up to rival Adam.
"You said that Irving had a pull and the Millers hadn't," he said
jocularly. "But it looks as if 'twas Natty's pull did the business
after all—his pull over to Bear Island and back."
"It was about a miracle that a boy could do what he did on such a
night," said Charles Macey.
"Where's Ford?" asked Natty uncomfortably. He hated to have his
exploit talked about.
"Ford has cleared out," said Cooper, "gone down to Summerside to go
into Tobe Meekins's factory there. Best thing he could do, that's
what. Folks here hadn't no use for him after letting that death trap
to them two men—even if they was Lib'rals. The Cockawee druv ashore
on Little Bear, and there she's going to remain, I guess. D'ye want a
berth in my mackerel boat this summer, Natty?"
"I do," said Natty, "but I thought you said you were full."
"I guess I can make room for you," said Cooper. "A boy with such grit
and muscle ain't to be allowed to go to seed on Blue Point, that's
what. Yesser, we'll make room for you."
And Natty's cup of happiness was full.
Penelope's Party Waist
"It's perfectly horrid to be so poor," grumbled Penelope. Penelope did
not often grumble, but just now, as she sat tapping with one
pink-tipped finger her invitation to Blanche Anderson's party, she
felt that grumbling was the only relief she had.
Penelope was seventeen, and when one is seventeen and cannot go to a
party because one hasn't a suitable dress to wear, the world is very
apt to seem a howling wilderness.
"I wish I could think of some way to get you a new waist," said Doris,
with what these sisters called "the poverty pucker" coming in the
centre of her pretty forehead. "If your black skirt were sponged and
pressed and re-hung, it would do very well."
Penelope saw the poverty pucker and immediately repented with all her
impetuous heart having grumbled. That pucker came often enough without
being brought there by extra worries.
"Well, there is no use sitting here sighing for the unattainable," she
said, jumping up briskly. "I'd better be putting my grey matter into
that algebra instead of wasting it plotting for a party dress that I
certainly can't get. It's a sad thing for a body to lack brains when
she wants to be a teacher, isn't it? If I could only absorb algebra
and history as I can music, what a blessing it would be! Come now,
Dorrie dear, smooth that pucker out. Next year I shall be earning a
princely salary, which we can squander on party gowns at will—if
people haven't given up inviting us by that time, in sheer despair of
ever being able to conquer our exclusiveness."
Penelope went off to her detested algebra with a laugh, but the pucker
did not go out of Doris' forehead. She wanted Penelope to go to that
Penelope has studied so hard all winter and she hasn't gone anywhere,
thought the older sister wistfully. She is getting discouraged over
those examinations and she needs just a good, jolly time to hearten
her up. If it could only be managed!
But Doris did not see how it could. It took every cent of her small
salary as typewriter in an uptown office to run their tiny
establishment and keep Penelope in school dresses and books. Indeed,
she could not have done even that much if they had not owned their
little cottage. Next year it would be easier if Penelope got through
her examinations successfully, but just now there was absolutely not a
"It is hard to be poor. We are a pair of misfits," said Doris, with a
patient little smile, thinking of Penelope's uncultivated talent for
music and her own housewifely gifts, which had small chance of
flowering out in her business life.
Doris dreamed of pretty dresses all that night and thought about them
all the next day. So, it must be confessed, did Penelope, though she
would not have admitted it for the world.
When Doris reached home the next evening, she found Penelope hovering
over a bulky parcel on the sitting-room table.
"I'm so glad you've come," she said with an exaggerated gasp of
relief. "I really don't think my curiosity could have borne the strain
for another five minutes. The expressman brought this parcel an hour
ago, and there's a letter for you from Aunt Adella on the clock shelf,
and I think they belong to each other. Hurry up and find out. Dorrie,
darling, what if it should be a—a—present of some sort or other!"
"I suppose it can't be anything else," smiled Doris. She knew that
Penelope had started out to say "a new dress." She cut the strings
and removed the wrappings. Both girls stared.
"Is it—it isn't—yes, it is! Doris Hunter, I believe it's an old
Doris unfolded the odd present with a queer feeling of disappointment.
She did not know just what she had expected the package to contain,
but certainly not this. She laughed a little shakily.
"Well, we can't say after this that Aunt Adella never gave us
anything," she said, when she had opened her letter. "Listen,
My Dear Doris
I have decided to give up housekeeping and go out West to
live with Robert. So I am disposing of such of the family
heirlooms as I do not wish to take with me. I am sending you
by express your Grandmother Hunter's silk quilt. It is a
handsome article still and I hope you will prize it as you
should. It took your grandmother five years to make it. There
is a bit of the wedding dress of every member of the family in
it. Love to Penelope and yourself.
Your affectionate aunt,
"I don't see its beauty," said Penelope with a grimace. "It may have
been pretty once, but it is all faded now. It is a monument of
patience, though. The pattern is what they call 'Little Thousands,'
isn't it? Tell me, Dorrie, does it argue a lack of proper respect for
my ancestors that I can't feel very enthusiastic over this
heirloom—especially when Grandmother Hunter died years before I was
"It was very kind of Aunt Adella to send it," said Doris dutifully.
"Oh, very," agreed Penelope drolly. "Only don't ever ask me to sleep
under it. It would give me the nightmare. O-o-h!"
This last was a little squeal of admiration as Doris turned the quilt
over and brought to view the shimmering lining.
"Why, the wrong side is ever so much prettier than the right!"
exclaimed Penelope. "What lovely, old-timey stuff! And not a bit
The lining was certainly very pretty. It was a soft, creamy yellow
silk, with a design of brocaded pink rosebuds all over it.
"That was a dress Grandmother Hunter had when she was a girl," said
Doris absently. "I remember hearing Aunt Adella speak of it. When it
became old-fashioned, Grandmother used it to line her quilt. I
declare, it is as good as new."
"Well, let us go and have tea," said Penelope. "I'm decidedly hungry.
Besides, I see the poverty pucker coming. Put the quilt in the spare
room. It is something to possess an heirloom, after all. It gives one
a nice, important-family feeling."
After tea, when Penelope was patiently grinding away at her studies
and thinking dolefully enough of the near-approaching examinations,
which she dreaded, and of teaching, which she confidently expected to
hate, Doris went up to the tiny spare room to look at the wrong side
of the quilt again.
"It would make the loveliest party waist," she said under her breath.
"Creamy yellow is Penelope's colour, and I could use that bit of old
black lace and those knots of velvet ribbon that I have to trim it. I
wonder if Grandmother Hunter's reproachful spirit will forever haunt
me if I do it."
Doris knew very well that she would do it—had known it ever since
she had looked at that lovely lining and a vision of Penelope's vivid
face and red-brown hair rising above a waist of the quaint old silk
had flashed before her mental sight. That night, after Penelope had
gone to bed, Doris ripped the lining out of Grandmother Hunter's silk
"If Aunt Adella saw me now!" she laughed softly to herself as she
In the three following evenings Doris made the waist. She thought it a
wonderful bit of good luck that Penelope went out each of the evenings
to study some especially difficult problems with a school chum.
"It will be such a nice surprise for her," the sister mused
Penelope was surprised as much as the tender, sisterly heart could
wish when Doris flashed out upon her triumphantly on the evening of
the party with the black skirt nicely pressed and re-hung, and the
prettiest waist imaginable—a waist that was a positive "creation" of
dainty rose-besprinkled silk, with a girdle and knots of black velvet.
"Doris Hunter, you are a veritable little witch! Do you mean to tell
me that you conjured that perfectly lovely thing for me out of the
lining of Grandmother Hunter's quilt?"
So Penelope went to Blanche's party and her dress was the admiration
of every girl there. Mrs. Fairweather, who was visiting Mrs. Anderson,
looked closely at it also. She was a very sweet old lady, with silver
hair, which she wore in delightful, old-fashioned puffs, and she had
very bright, dark eyes. Penelope thought her altogether charming.
"She looks as if she had just stepped out of the frame of some lovely
old picture," she said to herself. "I wish she belonged to me. I'd
just love to have a grandmother like her. And I do wonder who it is
I've seen who looks so much like her."
A little later on the knowledge came to her suddenly, and she thought
with inward surprise: Why, it is Doris, of course. If my sister Doris
lives to be seventy years old and wears her hair in pretty white
puffs, she will look exactly as Mrs. Fairweather does now.
Mrs. Fairweather asked to have Penelope introduced to her, and when
they found themselves alone together she said gently, "My dear, I am
going to ask a very impertinent question. Will you tell me where you
got the silk of which your waist is made?"
Poor Penelope's pretty young face turned crimson. She was not troubled
with false pride by any means, but she simply could not bring herself
to tell Mrs. Fairweather that her waist was made out of the lining of
an old heirloom quilt.
"My Aunt Adella gave me—gave us—the material," she stammered. "And
my elder sister Doris made the waist for me. I think the silk once
belonged to my Grandmother Hunter."
"What was your grandmother's maiden name?" asked Mrs. Fairweather
"Penelope Saverne. I am named after her."
Mrs. Fairweather suddenly put her arm about Penelope and drew the
young girl to her, her lovely old face aglow with delight and
"Then you are my grandniece," she said. "Your grandmother was my
half-sister. When I saw your dress, I felt sure you were related to
her. I should recognize that rosebud silk if I came across it in
Thibet. Penelope Saverne was the daughter of my mother by her first
husband. Penelope was four years older than I was, but we were
devoted to each other. Oddly enough, our birthdays fell on the same
day, and when Penelope was twenty and I sixteen, my father gave us
each a silk dress of this very material. I have mine yet.
"Soon after this our mother died and our household was broken up.
Penelope went to live with her aunt and I went West with Father. This
was long ago, you know, when travelling and correspondence were not
the easy, matter-of-course things they are now. After a few years I
lost touch with my half-sister. I married out West and have lived
there all my life. I never knew what had become of Penelope. But
tonight, when I saw you come in in that waist made of the rosebud
silk, the whole past rose before me and I felt like a girl again. My
dear, I am a very lonely old woman, with nobody belonging to me. You
don't know how delighted I am to find that I have two grandnieces."
Penelope had listened silently, like a girl in a dream. Now she patted
Mrs. Fairweather's soft old hand affectionately.
"It sounds like a storybook," she said gaily. "You must come and see
Doris. She is such a darling sister. I wouldn't have had this waist if
it hadn't been for her. I will tell you the whole truth—I don't mind
it now. Doris made my party waist for me out of the lining of an old
silk quilt of Grandmother Hunter's that Aunt Adella sent us."
Mrs. Fairweather did go to see Doris the very next day, and quite
wonderful things came to pass from that interview. Doris and Penelope
found their lives and plans changed in the twinkling of an eye. They
were both to go and live with Aunt Esther—as Mrs. Fairweather had
said they must call her. Penelope was to have, at last, her longed-for
musical education and Doris was to be the home girl.
"You must take the place of my own dear little granddaughter," said
Aunt Esther. "She died six years ago, and I have been so lonely
When Mrs. Fairweather had gone, Doris and Penelope looked at each
"Pinch me, please," said Penelope. "I'm half afraid I'll wake up and
find I have been dreaming. Isn't it all wonderful, Doris Hunter?"
Doris nodded radiantly.
"Oh, Penelope, think of it! Music for you—somebody to pet and fuss
over for me—and such a dear, sweet aunty for us both!"
"And no more contriving party waists out of old silk linings," laughed
Penelope. "But it was very fortunate that you did it for once, sister
mine. And no more poverty puckers," she concluded.
The Girl and The Wild Race
"If Judith would only get married," Mrs. Theodora Whitney was wont to
Now, there was no valid reason why Judith ought to get married unless
she wanted to. But Judith was twenty-seven and Mrs. Theodora thought
it was a terrible disgrace to be an old maid.
"There has never been an old maid in our family so far back as we know
of," she lamented. "And to think that there should be one now! It just
drags us down to the level of the McGregors. They have always been
noted for their old maids."
Judith took all her aunt's lamentations good-naturedly. Sometimes she
argued the subject placidly.
"Why are you in such a hurry to be rid of me, Aunt Theo? I'm sure
we're very comfortable here together and you know you would miss me
terribly if I went away."
"If you took the right one you wouldn't go so very far," said Mrs.
Theodora, darkly significant. "And, anyhow, I'd put up with any amount
of lonesomeness rather than have an old maid in the family. It's all
very fine now, when you're still young enough and good looking, with
lots of beaus at your beck and call. But that won't last much longer
and if you go on with your dilly-dallying you'll wake up some fine day
to find that your time for choosing has gone by. Your mother used to
be dreadful proud of your good looks when you was a baby. I told her
she needn't be. Nine times out of ten a beauty don't marry as well as
an ordinary girl."
"I'm not much set on marrying at all," declared Judith sharply. Any
reference to the "right one" always disturbed her placidity. The real
root of the trouble was that Mrs. Theodora's "right one" and Judith's
"right one" were two different people.
The Ramble Valley young men were very fond of dancing attendance on
Judith, even if she were verging on old maidenhood. Her prettiness was
undeniable; the Stewarts came to maturity late and at twenty-seven
Judith's dower of milky-white flesh, dimpled red lips and shining
bronze hair was at its fullest splendor. Besides, she was "jolly," and
jollity went a long way in Ramble Valley popularity.
Of all Judith's admirers Eben King alone found favor in Mrs.
Theodora's eyes. He owned the adjoining farm, was well off and
homely—so homely that Judith declared it made her eyes ache to look
Bruce Marshall, Judith's "right one" was handsome, but Mrs. Theodora
looked upon him with sour disapproval. He owned a stony little farm at
the remote end of Ramble Valley and was reputed to be fonder of many
things than of work. To be sure, Judith had enough capability and
energy for two; but Mrs. Theodora detested a lazy man. She ordered
Judith not to encourage him and Judith obeyed. Judith generally obeyed
her aunt; but, though she renounced Bruce Marshall, she would have
nothing to do with Eben King or anybody else and all Mrs. Theodora's
grumblings did not mend matters.
The afternoon that Mrs. Tony Mack came in Mrs. Theodora felt more
aggrieved than ever. Ellie McGregor had been married the previous
week—Ellie, who was the same age as Judith and not half so good
looking. Mrs. Theodora had been nagging Judith ever since.
"But I might as well talk to the trees down there in that hollow," she
complained to Mrs. Tony. "That girl is so set and contrary minded. She
doesn't care a bit for my feelings."
This was not said behind Judith's back. The girl herself was standing
at the open door, drinking in all the delicate, evasive beauty of the
spring afternoon. The Whitney house crested a bare hill that looked
down on misty intervals, feathered with young firs that were golden
green in the pale sunlight. The fields were bare and smoking, although
the lanes and shadowy places were full of moist snow. Judith's face
was aglow with the delight of mere life and she bent out to front the
brisk, dancing wind that blew up from the valley, resinous with the
odors of firs and damp mosses.
At her aunt's words the glow went out of her face. She listened with
her eyes brooding on the hollow and a glowing flame of temper
smouldering in them. Judith's long patience was giving way. She had
been flicked on the raw too often of late. And now her aunt was
confiding her grievances to Mrs. Tony Mack—the most notorious gossip
in Ramble Valley or out of it!
"I can't sleep at nights for worrying over what will become of her
when I'm gone," went on Mrs. Theodora dismally. "She'll just have to
live on alone here—a lonesome, withered-up old maid. And her that
might have had her pick, Mrs. Tony, though I do say it as shouldn't.
You must feel real thankful to have all your girls married
off—especially when none of them was extry good-looking. Some people
have all the luck. I'm tired of talking to Judith. Folks'll be saying
soon that nobody ever really wanted her, for all her flirting. But she
just won't marry."
Judith whirled about on the sun warm door step and came in. Her black
eyes were flashing and her round cheeks were crimson.
"Such a temper you never saw!" reported Mrs. Tony afterwards. "Though
'tweren't to be wondered at. Theodora was most awful aggravating."
"I will," repeated Judith stormily. "I'm tired of being nagged day in
and day out. I'll marry—and what is more I'll marry the very first
man that asks me—that I will, if it is old Widower Delane himself!
How does that suit you, Aunt Theodora?"
Mrs. Theodora's mental processes were never slow. She dropped her
knitting ball and stooped for it. In that time she had decided what to
do. She knew that Judith would stick to her word, Stewart-like, and
she must trim her sails to catch this new wind.
"It suits me real well, Judith," she said calmly, "you can marry the
first man that asks you and I'll say no word to hinder."
The color went out of Judith's face, leaving it pale as ashes. Her
hasty assertion had no sooner been uttered than it was repented of,
but she must stand by it now. She went out of the kitchen without
another glance at her aunt or the delighted Mrs. Tony and dashed up
the stairs to her own little room which looked out over the whole of
Ramble Valley. It was warm with the March sunshine and the leafless
boughs of the creeper that covered the end of the house were tapping a
gay tattoo on the window panes to the music of the wind.
Judith sat down in her little rocker and dropped her pointed chin in
her hands. Far down the valley, over the firs on the McGregor hill and
the blue mirror of the Cranston pond, Bruce Marshall's little gray
house peeped out from a semicircle of white-stemmed birches. She had
not seen Bruce since before Christmas. He had been angry at her then
because she had refused to let him drive her home from prayer meeting.
Since then she had heard a rumor that he was going to see Kitty Leigh
at the Upper Valley.
Judith looked sombrely down at the Marshall homestead. She had always
loved the quaint, picturesque old place, so different from all the
commonplace spick and span new houses of the prosperous valley. Judith
had never been able to decide whether she really cared very much for
Bruce Marshall or not, but she knew that she loved that rambling,
cornery house of his, with the gable festooned with the real ivy that
Bruce Marshall's great-grandmother had brought with her from England.
Judith thought contrastingly of Eben King's staring, primrose-colored
house in all its bare, intrusive grandeur. She gave a little shrug of
"I wish Bruce knew of this," she thought, flushing even in her
solitude at the idea. "Although if it is true that he is going to see
Kitty Leigh I don't suppose he'd care. And Aunt Theo will be sure to
send word to Eben by hook or crook. Whatever possessed me to say such
a mad thing? There goes Mrs. Tony now, all agog to spread such a
delectable bit of gossip."
Mrs. Tony had indeed gone, refusing Mrs. Theodora's invitation to stay
to tea, so eager was she to tell her story. And Mrs. Theodora, at that
very minute, was out in her kitchen yard, giving her instructions to
Potter Vane, the twelve year old urchin who cut her wood and did
sundry other chores for her.
"Potter," she said, excitedly, "run over to the Kings' and tell Eben
to come over here immediately—no matter what he's at. Tell him I want
to see him about something of the greatest importance."
Mrs. Theodora thought that this was a master stroke.
"That match is as good as made," she thought triumphantly as she
picked up chips to start the tea fire. "If Judith suspects that Eben
is here she is quite likely to stay in her room and refuse to come
down. But if she does I'll march him upstairs to her door and make him
ask her through the keyhole. You can't stump Theodora Whitney."
Alas! Ten minutes later Potter returned with the unwelcome news that
Eben was away from home.
"He went to Wexbridge about half an hour ago, his ma said. She said
she'd tell him to come right over as soon as he kem home."
Mrs. Theodora had to content herself with this, but she felt troubled.
She knew Mrs. Tony Mack's capabilities for spreading news. What if
Bruce Marshall should hear it before Eben?
That evening Jacob Plowden's store at Wexbridge was full of men,
sitting about on kegs and counters or huddling around the stove, for
the March air had grown sharp as the sun lowered in the creamy sky
over the Ramble Valley hills. Eben King had a keg in the corner. He
was in no hurry to go home for he loved gossip dearly and the
Wexbridge stores abounded with it. He had exhausted the news of Peter
Stanley's store across the bridge and now he meant to hear what was
saying at Plowden's. Bruce Marshall was there, too, buying groceries
and being waited on by Nora Plowden, who was by no means averse to the
service, although as a rule her father's customers received scanty
tolerance at her hands.
"What are the Valley roads like, Marshall?" asked a Wexbridge man,
between two squirts of tobacco juice.
"Bad," said Bruce briefly. "Another warm day will finish the
"Are they crossing at Malley's Creek yet?" asked Plowden.
"No, Jack Carr got in there day before yesterday. Nearly lost his
mare. I came round by the main road," responded Bruce.
The door opened at this point and Tony Mack came in. As soon as he
closed the door he doubled up in a fit of chuckles, which lasted until
he was purple in the face.
"Is the man crazy?" demanded Plowden, who had never seen lean little
Tony visited like this before.
"Crazy nothin'," retorted Tony. "You'll laugh too, when you hear it.
Such a joke! Hee-tee-tee-hee-e. Theodora Whitney has been badgering
Judith Stewart so much about bein' an old maid that Judith's got mad
and vowed she'll marry the first man that asks her.
Hee-tee-tee-hee-e-e-e! My old woman was there and heard her. She'll
keep her word, too. She ain't old Joshua Stewart's daughter for
nothin'. If he said he'd do a thing he did it if it tuck the hair
off. If I was a young feller now! Hee-tee-tee-hee-e-e-e!"
Bruce Marshall swung round on one foot. His face was crimson and if
looks could kill, Tony Mack would have fallen dead in the middle of
"You needn't mind doing up that parcel for me," he said to Nora. "I'll
not wait for it."
On his way to the door Eben King brushed past him. A shout of laughter
from the assembled men followed them. The others streamed out in their
wake, realizing that a race was afoot. Tony alone remained inside,
helpless with chuckling.
Eben King's horse was tied at the door. He had nothing to do but step
in and drive off. Bruce had put his mare in at Billy Bender's across
the bridge, intending to spend the evening there. He knew that this
would handicap him seriously, but he strode down the road with a
determined expression on his handsome face. Fifteen minutes later he
drove past the store, his gray mare going at a sharp gait. The crowd
in front of Plowden's cheered him, their sympathies were with him for
King was not popular. Tony had come out and shouted, "Here's luck to
you, brother," after which he doubled up with renewed laughter. Such a
lark! And he, Tony, had set it afoot! It would be a story to tell for
Marshall, with his lips set and his dreamy gray eyes for once
glittering with a steely light, urged Lady Jane up the Wexbridge hill.
From its top it was five miles to Ramble Valley by the main road. A
full mile ahead of him he saw Eben King, getting along through mud and
slush, and occasional big slumpy drifts of old snow, as fast as his
clean-limbed trotter could carry him. As a rule Eben was exceedingly
careful of his horses, but now he was sending Bay Billy along for all
that was in him.
For a second Bruce hesitated. Then he turned his mare down the field
cut to Malley's Creek. It was taking Lady Jane's life and possibly his
own in his hand, but it was his only chance. He could never have
overtaken Bay Billy on the main road.
"Do your best, Lady Jane," he muttered, and Lady Jane plunged down the
steep hillside, through the glutinous mud of a ploughed field as if
she meant to do it.
Beyond the field was a ravine full of firs, through which Malley's
Creek ran. To cross it meant a four-mile cut to Ramble Valley. The ice
looked black and rotten. To the left was the ragged hole where Jack
Carr's mare had struggled for her life. Bruce headed Lady Jane higher
up. If a crossing could be made at all it was only between Malley's
spring-hole and the old ice road. Lady Jane swerved at the bank and
"On, old girl," said Bruce, in a tense voice. Unwillingly she
advanced, picking her steps with cat-like sagacity. Once her foot went
through, Bruce pulled her up with hands that did not tremble. The next
moment she was scrambling up the opposite bank. Glancing back, Bruce
saw the ice parting in her footprints and the black water gurgling up.
But the race was not yet decided. By crossing the creek he had won no
more than an equal chance with Eben King. And the field road before
him was much worse than the main road. There was little snow on it and
some bad sloughs. But Lady Jane was good for it. For once she should
not be spared.
Just as the red ball of the sun touched the wooded hills of the
valley, Mrs. Theodora, looking from the cowstable door, saw two
sleighs approaching, the horses of which were going at a gallop. One
was trundling down the main road, headlong through old drifts and
slumpy snow, where a false step might send the horse floundering to
the bottom. The other was coming up from the direction of the creek,
full tilt through Tony Mack's stump land, where not a vestige of snow
coated the huge roots over which the runners bumped.
For a moment Mrs. Theodora stood at a gaze. Then she recognized both
drivers. She dropped her milking pail and ran to the house, thinking
as she ran. She knew that Judith was alone in the kitchen. If Eben
King got there first, well and good, but if Bruce Marshall won the
race he must encounter her, Mrs. Theodora.
"He won't propose to Judith as long as I'm round," she panted. "I know
him—he's too shy. But Eben won't mind—I'll tip him the wink."
Potter Vane was chopping wood before the door. Mrs. Theodora
recognizing in him a further obstacle to Marshall's wooing, caught him
unceremoniously by the arm and hauled him, axe and all, over the
doorstone and into the kitchen, just as Bruce Marshall and Eben King
drove into the yard with not a second to spare between them. There was
a woeful cut on Bay Billy's slender foreleg and the reeking Lady Jane
was trembling like a leaf. The staunch little mare had brought her
master over that stretch of sticky field road in time, but she was
Both men sprang from their sleighs and ran to the door. Bruce Marshall
won it by foot-room and burst into the kitchen with his rival hot on
his heels. Mrs. Theodora stood defiantly in the middle of the room,
still grasping the dazed and dismayed Potter. In a corner Judith
turned from the window whence she had been watching the finish of the
race. She was pale and tense from excitement. In those few gasping
moments she had looked on her heart as on an open book; she knew at
last that she loved Bruce Marshall and her eyes met his fiery gray
ones as he sprang over the threshold.
"Judith, will you marry me?" gasped Bruce, before Eben, who had first
looked at Mrs. Theodora and the squirming Potter, had located the
"Yes," said Judith. She burst into hysterical tears as she said it and
sat limply down in a chair.
Mrs. Theodora loosed her grip on Potter.
"You can go back to your work," she said dully. She followed him out
and Eben King followed her. On the step she reached behind him and
closed the door.
"Trust a King for being too late!" she said bitterly and unjustly.
Eben went home with Bay Billy. Potter gazed after him until Mrs.
Theodora ordered him to put Marshall's mare in the stable and rub her
"Anyway, Judith won't be an old maid," she comforted herself.
The Promise of Lucy Ellen
Cecily Foster came down the sloping, fir-fringed road from the village
at a leisurely pace. Usually she walked with a long, determined
stride, but to-day the drowsy, mellowing influence of the Autumn
afternoon was strong upon her and filled her with placid content.
Without being actively conscious of it, she was satisfied with the
existing circumstances of her life. It was half over now. The half of
it yet to be lived stretched before her, tranquil, pleasant and
uneventful, like the afternoon, filled with unhurried duties and
calmly interesting days, Cecily liked the prospect.
When she came to her own lane she paused, folding her hands on the top
of the whitewashed gate, while she basked for a moment in the warmth
that seemed cupped in the little grassy hollow hedged about with young
Before her lay sere, brooding fields sloping down to a sandy shore,
where long foamy ripples were lapping with a murmur that threaded the
hushed air like a faint minor melody.
On the crest of the little hill to her right was her home—hers and
Lucy Ellen's. The house was an old-fashioned, weather-gray one, low in
the eaves, with gables and porches overgrown with vines that had
turned to wine-reds and rich bronzes in the October frosts. On three
sides it was closed in by tall old spruces, their outer sides bared
and grim from long wrestling with the Atlantic winds, but their inner
green and feathery. On the fourth side a trim white paling shut in the
flower garden before the front door. Cecily could see the beds of
purple and scarlet asters, making rich whorls of color under the
parlor and sitting-room windows. Lucy Ellen's bed was gayer and larger
than Cecily's. Lucy Ellen had always had better luck with flowers.
She could see old Boxer asleep on the front porch step and Lucy
Ellen's white cat stretched out on the parlor window-sill. There was
no other sign of life about the place. Cecily drew a long, leisurely
breath of satisfaction.
"After tea I'll dig up those dahlia roots," she said aloud. "They'd
ought to be up. My, how blue and soft that sea is! I never saw such a
lovely day. I've been gone longer than I expected. I wonder if Lucy
Ellen's been lonesome?"
When Cecily looked back from the misty ocean to the house, she was
surprised to see a man coming with a jaunty step down the lane under
the gnarled spruces. She looked at him perplexedly. He must be a
stranger, for she was sure no man in Oriental walked like that.
"Some agent has been pestering Lucy Ellen, I suppose," she muttered
The stranger came on with an airy briskness utterly foreign to
Orientalites. Cecily opened the gate and went through. They met under
the amber-tinted sugar maple in the heart of the hollow. As he passed,
the man lifted his hat and bowed with an ingratiating smile.
He was about forty-five, well, although somewhat loudly dressed, and
with an air of self-satisfied prosperity pervading his whole
personality. He had a heavy gold watch chain and a large seal ring on
the hand that lifted his hat. He was bald, with a high, Shaksperian
forehead and a halo of sandy curls. His face was ruddy and weak, but
good-natured: his eyes were large and blue, and he had a little
straw-colored moustache, with a juvenile twist and curl in it.
Cecily did not recognize him, yet there was something vaguely familiar
about him. She walked rapidly up to the house. In the sitting-room she
found Lucy Ellen peering out between the muslin window curtains. When
the latter turned there was an air of repressed excitement about her.
"Who was that man, Lucy Ellen?" Cecily asked.
To Cecily's amazement, Lucy Ellen blushed—a warm, Spring-like flood
of color that rolled over her delicate little face like a miracle of
"Didn't you know him? That was Cromwell Biron," she simpered. Although
Lucy Ellen was forty and, in most respects, sensible, she could not
help simpering upon occasion.
"Cromwell Biron," repeated Cecily, in an emotionless voice. She took
off her bonnet mechanically, brushed the dust from its ribbons and
bows and went to put it carefully away in its white box in the spare
bedroom. She felt as if she had had a severe shock, and she dared not
ask anything more just then. Lucy Ellen's blush had frightened her. It
seemed to open up dizzying possibilities of change.
"But she promised—she promised," said Cecily fiercely, under her
While Cecily was changing her dress, Lucy Ellen was getting the tea
ready in the little kitchen. Now and then she broke out into singing,
but always checked herself guiltily. Cecily heard her and set her firm
mouth a little firmer.
"If a man had jilted me twenty years ago, I wouldn't be so
overwhelmingly glad to see him when he came back—especially if he had
got fat and bald-headed," she added, her face involuntarily twitching
into a smile. Cecily, in spite of her serious expression and intense
way of looking at life, had an irrepressible sense of humor.
Tea that evening was not the pleasant meal it usually was. The two
women were wont to talk animatedly to each other, and Cecily had many
things to tell Lucy Ellen. She did not tell them. Neither did Lucy
Ellen ask any questions, her ill-concealed excitement hanging around
her like a festal garment.
Cecily's heart was on fire with alarm and jealousy. She smiled a
little cruelly as she buttered and ate her toast.
"And so that was Cromwell Biron," she said with studied carelessness.
"I thought there was something familiar about him. When did he come
"He got to Oriental yesterday," fluttered back Lucy Ellen. "He's going
to be home for two months. We—we had such an interesting talk this
afternoon. He—he's as full of jokes as ever. I wished you'd been
This was a fib. Cecily knew it.
"I don't, then," she said contemptuously. "You know I never had much
use for Cromwell Biron. I think he had a face of his own to come down
here to see you uninvited, after the way he treated you."
Lucy Ellen blushed scorchingly and was miserably silent.
"He's changed terrible in his looks," went on Cecily relentlessly.
"How bald he's got—and fat! To think of the spruce Cromwell Biron got
to be bald and fat! To be sure, he still has the same sheepish
expression. Will you pass me the currant jell, Lucy Ellen?"
"I don't think he's so very fat," she said resentfully, when Cecily
had left the table. "And I don't care if he is."
Twenty years before this, Biron had jilted Lucy Ellen Foster. She was
the prettiest girl in Oriental then, but the new school teacher over
at the Crossways was prettier, with a dash of piquancy, which Lucy
Ellen lacked, into the bargain. Cromwell and the school teacher had
run away and been married, and Lucy Ellen was left to pick up the
tattered shreds of her poor romance as best she could.
She never had another lover. She told herself that she would always be
faithful to the one love of her life. This sounded romantic, and she
found a certain comfort in it.
She had been brought up by her uncle and aunt. When they died she and
her cousin, Cecily Foster, found themselves, except for each other,
alone in the world.
Cecily loved Lucy Ellen as a sister. But she believed that Lucy Ellen
would yet marry, and her heart sank at the prospect of being left
without a soul to love and care for.
It was Lucy Ellen that had first proposed their mutual promise, but
Cecily had grasped at it eagerly. The two women, verging on decisive
old maidenhood, solemnly promised each other that they would never
marry, and would always live together. From that time Cecily's mind
had been at ease. In her eyes a promise was a sacred thing.
The next evening at prayer-meeting Cromwell Biron received quite an
ovation from old friends and neighbors. Cromwell had been a favorite
in his boyhood. He had now the additional glamour of novelty and
He was beaming and expansive. He went into the choir to help sing.
Lucy Ellen sat beside him, and they sang from the same book. Two red
spots burned on her thin cheeks, and she had a cluster of lavender
chrysanthemums pinned on her jacket. She looked almost girlish, and
Cromwell Biron gazed at her with sidelong admiration, while Cecily
watched them both fiercely from her pew. She knew that Cromwell Biron
had come home, wooing his old love.
"But he sha'n't get her," Cecily whispered into her hymnbook. Somehow
it was a comfort to articulate the words, "She promised."
On the church steps Cromwell offered his arm to Lucy Ellen with a
flourish. She took it shyly, and they started down the road in the
crisp Autumn moonlight. For the first time in ten years Cecily walked
home from prayer-meeting alone. She went up-stairs and flung herself
on her bed, reckless for once, of her second best hat and gown.
Lucy Ellen did not venture to ask Cromwell in. She was too much in awe
of Cecily for that. But she loitered with him at the gate until the
grandfather's clock in the hall struck eleven. Then Cromwell went
away, whistling gaily, with Lucy Ellen's chrysanthemum in his
buttonhole, and Lucy Ellen went in and cried half the night. But
Cecily did not cry. She lay savagely awake until morning.
"Cromwell Biron is courting you again," she said bluntly to Lucy Ellen
at the breakfast table.
Lucy Ellen blushed nervously.
"Oh, nonsense, Cecily," she protested with a simper.
"It isn't nonsense," said Cecily calmly. "He is. There is no fool like
an old fool, and Cromwell Biron never had much sense. The presumption
Lucy Ellen's hands trembled as she put her teacup down.
"He's not so very old," she said faintly, "and everybody but you likes
him—and he's well-to-do. I don't see that there's any presumption."
"Maybe not—if you look at it so. You're very forgiving, Lucy Ellen.
You've forgotten how he treated you once."
"No—o—o, I haven't," faltered Lucy Ellen.
"Anyway," said Cecily coldly, "you shouldn't encourage his attentions,
Lucy Ellen; you know you couldn't marry him even if he asked you. You
All the fitful color went out of Lucy Ellen's face. Under Cecily's
pitiless eyes she wilted and drooped.
"I know," she said deprecatingly, "I haven't forgotten. You are
talking nonsense, Cecily. I like to see Cromwell, and he likes to see
me because I'm almost the only one of his old set that is left. He
feels lonesome in Oriental now."
Lucy Ellen lifted her fawn-colored little head more erectly at the
last of her protest. She had saved her self-respect.
In the month that followed Cromwell Biron pressed his suit
persistently, unintimidated by Cecily's antagonism. October drifted
into November and the chill, drear days came. To Cecily the whole
outer world seemed the dismal reflex of her pain-bitten heart. Yet she
constantly laughed at herself, too, and her laughter was real if
One evening she came home late from a neighbor's. Cromwell Biron
passed her in the hollow under the bare boughs of the maple that were
outlined against the silvery moonlit sky.
When Cecily went into the house, Lucy Ellen opened the parlor door.
She was very pale, but her eyes burned in her face and her hands were
clasped before her.
"I wish you'd come in here for a few minutes, Cecily," she said
Cecily followed silently into the room.
"Cecily," she said faintly, "Cromwell was here to-night. He asked me
to marry him. I told him to come to-morrow night for his answer."
She paused and looked imploringly at Cecily. Cecily did not speak. She
stood tall and unrelenting by the table. The rigidity of her face and
figure smote Lucy Ellen like a blow. She threw out her bleached little
hands and spoke with a sudden passion utterly foreign to her.
"Cecily, I want to marry him. I—I—love him. I always have. I never
thought of this when I promised. Oh, Cecily, you'll let me off my
promise, won't you?"
"No," said Cecily. It was all she said. Lucy Ellen's hands fell to her
sides, and the light went out of her face.
"You won't?" she said hopelessly.
Cecily went out. At the door she turned.
"When John Edwards asked me to marry him six years ago, I said no for
your sake. To my mind a promise is a promise. But you were always weak
and romantic, Lucy Ellen."
Lucy Ellen made no response. She stood limply on the hearth-rug like a
faded blossom bitten by frost.
After Cromwell Biron had gone away the next evening, with all his
brisk jauntiness shorn from him for the time, Lucy Ellen went up to
Cecily's room. She stood for a moment in the narrow doorway, with the
lamplight striking upward with a gruesome effect on her wan face.
"I've sent him away," she said lifelessly. "I've kept my promise,
There was silence for a moment. Cecily did not know what to say.
Suddenly Lucy Ellen burst out bitterly.
"I wish I was dead!"
Then she turned swiftly and ran across the hall to her own room.
Cecily gave a little moan of pain. This was her reward for all the
love she had lavished on Lucy Ellen.
"Anyway, it is all over," she said, looking dourly into the moonlit
boughs of the firs; "Lucy Ellen'll get over it. When Cromwell is gone
she'll forget all about him. I'm not going to fret. She promised, and
she wanted the promise first."
During the next fortnight tragedy held grim sway in the little
weather-gray house among the firs—a tragedy tempered with grim comedy
for Cecily, who, amid all her agony, could not help being amused at
Lucy Ellen's romantic way of sorrowing.
Lucy Ellen did her mornings' work listlessly and drooped through the
afternoons. Cecily would have felt it as a relief if Lucy Ellen had
upbraided her, but after her outburst on the night she sent Cromwell
away, Lucy Ellen never uttered a word of reproach or complaint.
One evening Cecily made a neighborly call in the village. Cromwell
Biron happened to be there and gallantly insisted upon seeing her
She understood from Cromwell's unaltered manner that Lucy Ellen had
not told him why she had refused him. She felt a sudden admiration for
When they reached the house Cromwell halted suddenly in the banner of
light that streamed from the sitting-room window. They saw Lucy Ellen
sitting alone before the fire, her arms folded on the table, and her
head bowed on them. Her white cat sat unnoticed at the table beside
her. Cecily gave a gasp of surrender.
"You'd better come in," she said, harshly. "Lucy Ellen looks
Cromwell muttered sheepishly, "I'm afraid I wouldn't be company for
her. Lucy Ellen doesn't like me much—"
"Oh, doesn't she!" said Cecily, bitterly. "She likes you better than
she likes me for all I've—but it's no matter. It's been all my
fault—she'll explain. Tell her I said she could. Come in, I say."
She caught the still reluctant Cromwell by the arm and fairly dragged
him over the geranium beds and through the front door. She opened the
sitting-room door and pushed him in. Lucy Ellen rose in amazement.
Over Cromwell's bald head loomed Cecily's dark face, tragic and
"Here's your beau, Lucy Ellen," she said, "and I give you back your
She shut the door upon the sudden illumination of Lucy Ellen's face
and went up-stairs with the tears rolling down her cheeks.
"It's my turn to wish I was dead," she muttered. Then she laughed
"That goose of a Cromwell! How queer he did look standing there,
frightened to death of Lucy Ellen. Poor little Lucy Ellen! Well, I
hope he'll be good to her."
The Pursuit of the Ideal
Freda's snuggery was aglow with the rose-red splendour of an open fire
which was triumphantly warding off the stealthy approaches of the dull
grey autumn twilight. Roger St. Clair stretched himself out
luxuriously in an easy-chair with a sigh of pleasure.
"Freda, your armchairs are the most comfy in the world. How do you get
them to fit into a fellow's kinks so splendidly?"
Freda smiled at him out of big, owlish eyes that were the same tint as
the coppery grey sea upon which the north window of the snuggery
"Any armchair will fit a lazy fellow's kinks," she said.
"I'm not lazy," protested Roger. "That you should say so, Freda, when
I have wheeled all the way out of town this dismal afternoon over the
worst bicycle road in three kingdoms to see you, bonnie maid!"
"I like lazy people," said Freda softly, tilting her spoon on a cup of
chocolate with a slender brown hand.
Roger smiled at her chummily.
"You are such a comfortable girl," he said. "I like to talk to you and
tell you things."
"You have something to tell me today. It has been fairly sticking out
of your eyes ever since you came. Now, 'fess."
Freda put away her cup and saucer, got up, and stood by the fireplace,
with one arm outstretched along the quaintly carved old mantel. She
laid her head down on its curve and looked expectantly at Roger.
"I have seen my ideal, Freda," said Roger gravely.
Freda lifted her head and then laid it down again. She did not speak.
Roger was glad of it. Even at the moment he found himself thinking
that Freda had a genius for silence. Any other girl he knew would have
broken in at once with surprised exclamations and questions and
spoiled his story.
"You have not forgotten what my ideal woman is like?" he said.
Freda shook her head. She was not likely to forget. She remembered
only too keenly the afternoon he had told her. They had been sitting
in the snuggery, herself in the inglenook, and Roger coiled up in his
big pet chair that nobody else ever sat in.
"'What must my lady be that I must love her?'" he had quoted. "Well, I
will paint my dream-love for you, Freda. She must be tall and slender,
with chestnut hair of wonderful gloss, with just the suggestion of a
ripple in it. She must have an oval face, colourless ivory in hue,
with the expression of a Madonna; and her eyes must be 'passionless,
peaceful blue,' deep and tender as a twilight sky."
Freda, looking at herself along her arm in the mirror, recalled this
description and smiled faintly. She was short and plump, with a
piquant, irregular little face, vivid tinting, curly, unmanageable
hair of ruddy brown, and big grey eyes. Certainly, she was not his
"When and where did you meet your lady of the Madonna face and
twilight eyes?" she asked.
Roger frowned. Freda's face was solemn enough but her eyes looked as
if she might be laughing at him.
"I haven't met her yet. I have only seen her. It was in the park
yesterday. She was in a carriage with the Mandersons. So beautiful,
Freda! Our eyes met as she drove past and I realized that I had found
my long-sought ideal. I rushed back to town and hunted up Pete
Manderson at the club. Pete is a donkey but he has his ways of being
useful. He told me who she was. Her name is Stephanie Gardiner; she is
his cousin from the south and is visiting his mother. And, Freda, I am
to dine at the Mandersons' tonight. I shall meet her."
"Do goddesses and ideals and Madonnas eat?" said Freda in an awed
whisper. Her eyes were certainly laughing now. Roger got up stiffly.
"I must confess I did not expect that you would ridicule my
confidence, Freda," he said frigidly. "It is very unlike you. But if
you are not interested I will not bore you with any further details.
And it is time I was getting back to town anyhow."
When he had gone Freda ran to the west window and flung it open. She
leaned out and waved both hands at him over the spruce hedge.
"Roger, Roger, I was a horrid little beast. Forget it immediately,
please. And come out tomorrow and tell me all about her."
Roger came. He bored Freda terribly with his raptures but she never
betrayed it. She was all sympathy—or, at least, as much sympathy as a
woman can be who must listen while the man of men sings another
woman's praises to her. She sent Roger away in perfect good humour
with himself and all the world, then she curled herself up in the
snuggery, pulled a rug over her head, and cried.
Roger came out to Lowlands oftener than ever after that. He had to
talk to somebody about Stephanie Gardiner and Freda was the safest
vent. The "pursuit of the Ideal," as she called it, went on with vim
and fervour. Sometimes Roger would be on the heights of hope and
elation; the next visit he would be in the depths of despair and
humility. Freda had learned to tell which it was by the way he opened
the snuggery door.
One day when Roger came he found six feet of young man reposing at
ease in his particular chair. Freda was sipping chocolate in her
corner and looking over the rim of her cup at the intruder just as she
had been wont to look at Roger. She had on a new dark red gown and
looked vivid and rose-hued.
She introduced the stranger as Mr. Grayson and called him Tim. They
seemed to be excellent friends. Roger sat bolt upright on the edge of
a fragile, gilded chair which Freda kept to hide a shabby spot in the
carpet, and glared at Tim until the latter said goodbye and lounged
"You'll be over tomorrow?" said Freda.
"Can't I come this evening?" he pleaded.
Freda nodded. "Yes—and we'll make taffy. You used to make such
delicious stuff, Tim."
"Who is that fellow, Freda?" Roger inquired crossly, as soon as the
Freda began to make a fresh pot of chocolate. She smiled dreamily as
if thinking of something pleasant.
"Why, that was Tim Grayson—dear old Tim. He used to live next door to
us when we were children. And we were such chums—always together,
making mud pies, and getting into scrapes. He is just the same old
Tim, and is home from the west for a long visit. I was so glad to see
"So it would appear," said Roger grumpily. "Well, now that 'dear old
Tim' is gone, I suppose I can have my own chair, can I? And do give me
some chocolate. I didn't know you made taffy."
"Oh, I don't. It's Tim. He can do everything. He used to make it long
ago, and I washed up after him and helped him eat it. How is the
pursuit of the Ideal coming on, Roger-boy?"
Roger did not feel as if he wanted to talk about the Ideal. He noticed
how vivid Freda's smile was and how lovable were the curves of her
neck where the dusky curls were caught up from it. He had also an
inner vision of Freda making taffy with Tim and he did not approve of
He refused to talk about the Ideal. On his way back to town he found
himself thinking that Freda had the most charming, glad little laugh
of any girl he knew. He suddenly remembered that he had never heard
the Ideal laugh. She smiled placidly—he had raved to Freda about that
smile—but she did not laugh. Roger began to wonder what an ideal
without any sense of humour would be like when translated into the
He went to Lowlands the next afternoon and found Tim there—in his
chair again. He detested the fellow but he could not deny that he was
good-looking and had charming manners. Freda was very nice to Tim. On
his way back to town Roger decided that Tim was in love with Freda. He
was furious at the idea. The presumption of the man!
He also remembered that he had not said a word to Freda about the
Ideal. And he never did say much more—perhaps because he could not
get the chance. Tim was always there before him and generally
One day when he went out he did not find Freda at home. Her aunt told
him that she was out riding with Mr. Grayson. On his way back he met
them. As they cantered by, Freda waved her riding whip at him. Her
face was full of warm, ripe, kissable tints, her loose lovelocks were
blowing about it, and her eyes shone like grey pools mirroring stars.
Roger turned and watched them out of sight behind the firs that cupped
That night at Mrs. Crandall's dinner table somebody began to talk
about Freda. Roger strained his ears to listen. Mrs. Kitty Carr was
speaking—Mrs. Kitty knew everything and everybody.
"She is simply the most charming girl in the world when you get really
acquainted with her," said Mrs. Kitty, with the air of having
discovered and patented Freda. "She is so vivid and unconventional and
lovable—'spirit and fire and dew,' you know. Tim Grayson is a very
"Are they engaged?" someone asked.
"Not yet, I fancy. But of course it is only a question of time. Tim
simply adores her. He is a good soul and has lots of money, so he'll
do. But really, you know, I think a prince wouldn't be good enough for
Roger suddenly became conscious that the Ideal was asking him a
question of which he had not heard a word. He apologized and was
forgiven. But he went home a very miserable man.
He did not go to Lowlands for two weeks. They were the longest, most
wretched two weeks he had ever lived through. One afternoon he heard
that Tim Grayson had gone back west. Mrs. Kitty told it mournfully.
"Of course, this means that Freda has refused him," she said. "She is
such an odd girl."
Roger went straight out to Lowlands. He found Freda in the snuggery
and held out his hands to her.
"Freda, will you marry me? It will take a lifetime to tell you how
much I love you."
"But the Ideal?" questioned Freda.
"I have just discovered what my ideal is," said Roger. "She is a dear,
loyal, companionable little girl, with the jolliest laugh and the
warmest, truest heart in the world. She has starry grey eyes, two
dimples, and a mouth I must and will kiss—there—there—there! Freda,
tell me you love me a little bit, although I've been such a besotted
"I will not let you call my husband-that-is-to-be names," said Freda,
snuggling down into the curve of his shoulder. "But indeed, Roger-boy,
you will have to make me very, very happy to square matters up. You
have made me so unutterably unhappy for two months."
"The pursuit of the Ideal is ended," declared Roger.
The Softening of Miss Cynthia
"I wonder if I'd better flavour this cake with lemon or vanilla. It's
the most perplexing thing I ever heard of in my life."
Miss Cynthia put down the bottles with a vexed frown; her perplexity
had nothing whatever to do with flavouring the golden mixture in her
cake bowl. Mrs. John Joe knew that; the latter had dropped in in a
flurry of curiosity concerning the little boy whom she had seen about
Miss Cynthia's place for the last two days. Her daughter Kitty was
with her; they both sat close together on the kitchen sofa.
"It is too bad," said Mrs. John Joe sympathetically. "I don't wonder
you are mixed up. So unexpected, too! When did he come?"
"Tuesday night," said Miss Cynthia. She had decided on the vanilla and
was whipping it briskly in. "I saw an express wagon drive into the
yard with a boy and a trunk in it and I went out just as he got down.
'Are you my Aunt Cynthia?' he said. 'Who in the world are you?' I
asked. And he says, 'I'm Wilbur Merrivale, and my father was John
Merrivale. He died three weeks ago and he said I was to come to you,
because you were his sister.' Well, you could just have knocked me
down with a feather!"
"I'm sure," said Mrs. John Joe. "But I didn't know you had a brother.
And his name—Merrivale?"
"Well, he wasn't any relation really. I was about six years old when
my father married his mother, the Widow Merrivale. John was just my
age, and we were brought up together just like brother and sister. He
was a real nice fellow, I must say. But he went out to Californy years
ago, and I haven't heard a word of him for fifteen years—didn't know
if he was alive or dead. But it seems from what I can make out from
the boy, that his mother died when he was a baby, and him and John
roughed it along together—pretty poor, too, I guess—till John took
a fever and died. And he told some of his friends to send the boy to
me, for he'd no relations there and not a cent in the world. And the
child came all the way from Californy, and here he is. I've been just
distracted ever since. I've never been used to children, and to have
the house kept in perpetual uproar is more than I can stand. He's
about twelve and a born mischief. He'll tear through the rooms with
his dirty feet, and he's smashed one of my blue vases and torn down a
curtain and set Towser on the cat half a dozen times already—I never
was so worried. I've got him out on the verandah shelling peas now, to
keep him quiet for a little spell."
"I'm really sorry for you," said Mrs. John Joe. "But, poor child, I
suppose he's never had anyone to look after him. And come all the way
from Californy alone, too—he must be real smart."
"Too smart, I guess. He must take after his mother, whoever she was,
for there ain't a bit of Merrivale in him. And he's been brought up
"Well, it'll be a great responsibility for you, Cynthia, of course.
But he'll be company, too, and he'll be real handy to run errands
"I'm not going to keep him," said Miss Cynthia determinedly. Her
thin lips set themselves firmly and her voice had a hard ring.
"Not going to keep him?" said Mrs. John Joe blankly. "You can't send
him back to Californy!"
"I don't intend to. But as for having him here to worry my life out
and keep me in a perpetual stew, I just won't do it. D'ye think I'm
going to trouble myself about children at my age? And all he'd cost
for clothes and schooling, too! I can't afford it. I don't suppose his
father expected it either. I suppose he expected me to look after him
a bit—and of course I will. A boy of his age ought to be able to
earn his keep, anyway. If I look out a place for him somewhere where
he can do odd jobs and go to school in the winter, I think it's all
anyone can expect of me, when he ain't really no blood relation."
Miss Cynthia flung the last sentence at Mrs. John Joe rather
defiantly, not liking the expression on that lady's face.
"I suppose nobody could expect more, Cynthy," said Mrs. John Joe
deprecatingly. "He would be an awful bother, I've no doubt, and you've
lived alone so long with no one to worry you that you wouldn't know
what to do with him. Boys are always getting into mischief—my four
just keep me on the dead jump. Still, it's a pity for him, poor little
fellow! No mother or father—it seems hard."
Miss Cynthia's face grew grimmer than ever as she went to the door
with her callers and watched them down the garden path. As soon as
Mrs. John Joe saw that the door was shut, she unburdened her mind to
"Did you ever hear tell of the like? I thought I knew Cynthia
Henderson well, if anybody in Wilmot did, but this beats me. Just
think, Kitty—there she is, no one knows how rich, and not a soul in
the world belonging to her, and she won't even take in her brother's
child. She must be a hard woman. But it's just meanness, pure and
simple; she grudges him what he'd eat and wear. The poor mite doesn't
look as if he'd need much. Cynthia didn't used to be like that, but
it's growing on her every day. She's got hard as rocks."
That afternoon Miss Cynthia harnessed her fat grey pony into the
phaeton herself—she kept neither man nor maid, but lived in her big,
immaculate house in solitary state—and drove away down the dusty,
buttercup-bordered road, leaving Wilbur sitting on the verandah. She
returned in an hour's time and drove into the yard, shutting the gate
behind her with a vigorous snap. Wilbur was not in sight and, fearful
lest he should be in mischief, she hurriedly tied the pony to the
railing and went in search of him. She found him sitting by the well,
his chin in his hands; he was pale and his eyes were red. Miss Cynthia
hardened her heart and took him into the house.
"I've been down to see Mr. Robins this afternoon, Wilbur," she said,
pretending to brush some invisible dust from the bottom of her nice
black cashmere skirt for an excuse to avoid looking at him, "and he's
agreed to take you on trial. It's a real good chance—better than you
could expect. He says he'll board and clothe you and let you go to
school in the winter."
The boy seemed to shrink.
"Daddy said that I would stay with you," he said wistfully. "He said
you were so good and kind and would love me for his sake."
For a moment Miss Cynthia softened. She had been very fond of her
stepbrother; it seemed that his voice appealed to her across the grave
in behalf of his child. But the crust of years was not to be so easily
"Your father meant that I would look after you," she said, "and I mean
to, but I can't afford to keep you here. You'll have a good place at
Mr. Robins', if you behave yourself. I'm going to take you down now,
before I unharness the pony, so go and wash your face while I put up
your things. Don't look so woebegone, for pity's sake! I'm not taking
you to prison."
Wilbur turned and went silently to the kitchen. Miss Cynthia thought
she heard a sob. She went with a firm step into the little bedroom off
the hall and took a purse out of a drawer.
"I s'pose I ought," she said doubtfully. "I don't s'pose he has a
cent. I daresay he'll lose or waste it."
She counted out seventy-five cents carefully. When she came out,
Wilbur was at the door. She put the money awkwardly into his hand.
"There, see that you don't spend it on any foolishness."
Miss Cynthia's Action made a good deal of talk in Wilmot. The women,
headed by Mrs. John Joe—who said behind Cynthia's back what she did
not dare say to her face—condemned her. The men laughed and said that
Cynthia was a shrewd one; there was no getting round her. Miss Cynthia
herself was far from easy. She could not forget Wilbur's wistful eyes,
and she had heard that Robins was a hard master.
A week after the boy had gone she saw him one day at the store. He was
lifting heavy bags from a cart. The work was beyond his strength, and
he was flushed and panting. Miss Cynthia's conscience gave her a hard
stab. She bought a roll of peppermints and took them over to him. He
thanked her timidly and drove quickly away.
"Robins hasn't any business putting such work on a child," she said to
herself indignantly. "I'll speak to him about it."
And she did—and got an answer that made her ears tingle. Mr. Robins
bluntly told her he guessed he knew what was what about his hands. He
weren't no nigger driver. If she wasn't satisfied, she might take the
boy away as soon as she liked.
Miss Cynthia did not get much comfort out of life that summer. Almost
everywhere she went she was sure to meet Wilbur, engaged in some hard
task. She could not help seeing how miserably pale and thin he had
become. The worry had its effect on her. The neighbours said that
Cynthy was sharper than ever. Even her church-going was embittered.
She had always enjoyed walking up the aisle with her rich silk skirt
rustling over the carpet, her cashmere shawl folded correctly over her
shoulders, and her lace bonnet set precisely on her thin shining
crimps. But she could take no pleasure in that or in the sermon now,
when Wilbur sat right across from her pew, between hard-featured
Robins and his sulky-looking wife. The boy's eyes had grown too large
for his thin face.
The softening of Miss Cynthia was a very gradual process, but it
reached a climax one September morning, when Mrs. John Joe came into
the former's kitchen with an important face. Miss Cynthia was
preserving her plums.
"No, thank you, I'll not sit down—I only run in—I suppose you've
heard it. That little Merrivale boy has took awful sick with fever,
they say. He's been worked half to death this summer—everyone knows
what Robins is with his help—and they say he has fretted a good deal
for his father and been homesick, and he's run down, I s'pose. Anyway,
Robins took him over to the hospital at Stanford last night—good
gracious, Cynthy, are you sick?"
Miss Cynthia had staggered to a seat by the table; her face was
"No, it's only your news gave me a turn—it came so suddenly—I didn't
"I must hurry back and see to the men's dinners. I thought I'd come
and tell you, though I didn't know as you'd care."
This parting shot was unheeded by Miss Cynthia. She laid her face in
her hands. "It's a judgement on me," she moaned. "He's going to die,
and I'm his murderess. This is the account I'll have to give John
Merrivale of his boy. I've been a wicked, selfish woman, and I'm
It was a humbled Miss Cynthia who met the doctor at the hospital that
afternoon. He shook his head at her eager questions.
"It's a pretty bad case. The boy seems run down every way. No, it is
impossible to think of moving him again. Bringing him here last night
did him a great deal of harm. Yes, you may see him, but he will not
know you, I fear—he is delirious and raves of his father and
Miss Cynthia followed the doctor down the long ward. When he paused by
a cot, she pushed past him. Wilbur lay tossing restlessly on his
pillow. He was thin to emaciation, but his cheeks were crimson and his
eyes burning bright.
Miss Cynthia stooped and took the hot, dry hands in hers.
"Wilbur," she sobbed, "don't you know me—Aunt Cynthia?"
"You are not my Aunt Cynthia," said Wilbur. "Daddy said Aunt Cynthia
was good and kind—you are a cross, bad woman. I want Daddy. Why
doesn't he come? Why doesn't he come to little Wilbur?"
Miss Cynthia got up and faced the doctor.
"He's got to get better," she said stubbornly. "Spare no expense or
trouble. If he dies, I will be a murderess. He must live and give me a
chance to make it up for him."
And he did live; but for a long time it was a hard fight, and there
were days when it seemed that death must win. Miss Cynthia got so thin
and wan that even Mrs. John Joe pitied her.
The earth seemed to Miss Cynthia to laugh out in prodigal joyousness
on the afternoon she drove home when Wilbur had been pronounced out of
danger. How tranquil the hills looked, with warm October sunshine
sleeping on their sides and faint blue hazes on their brows! How
gallantly the maples flaunted their crimson flags! How kind and
friendly was every face she met! Afterwards, Miss Cynthia said she
began to live that day.
Wilbur's recovery was slow. Every day Miss Cynthia drove over with
some dainty, and her loving gentleness sat none the less gracefully on
her because of its newness. Wilbur grew to look for and welcome her
coming. When it was thought safe to remove him, Miss Cynthia went to
the hospital with a phaeton-load of shawls and pillows.
"I have come to take you away," she said.
Wilbur shrank back. "Not to Mr. Robins," he said piteously. "Oh, not
there, Aunt Cynthia!"
"Of course not," Miss Cynthia said.
Them Notorious Pigs
John Harrington was a woman-hater, or thought that he was, which
amounts to the same thing. He was forty-five and, having been handsome
in his youth, was a fine-looking man still. He had a remarkably good
farm and was a remarkably good farmer. He also had a garden which was
the pride and delight of his heart or, at least, it was before Mrs.
Hayden's pigs got into it.
Sarah King, Harrington's aunt and housekeeper, was deaf and crabbed,
and very few visitors ever came to the house. This suited Harrington.
He was a good citizen and did his duty by the community, but his bump
of sociability was undeveloped. He was also a contented man, looking
after his farm, improving his stock, and experimenting with new bulbs
in undisturbed serenity. This, however, was all too good to last. A
man is bound to have some troubles in this life, and Harrington's were
near their beginning when Perry Hayden bought the adjoining farm from
the heirs of Shakespeare Ely, deceased, and moved in.
To be sure, Perry Hayden, poor fellow, did not bother Harrington much,
for he died of pneumonia a month after he came there, but his widow
carried on the farm with the assistance of a lank hired boy. Her own
children, Charles and Theodore, commonly known as Bobbles and Ted,
were as yet little more than babies.
The real trouble began when Mary Hayden's pigs, fourteen in number and
of half-grown voracity, got into Harrington's garden. A railing, a fir
grove, and an apple orchard separated the two establishments, but
these failed to keep the pigs within bounds.
Harrington had just got his garden planted for the season, and to go
out one morning and find a horde of enterprising porkers rooting about
in it was, to put it mildly, trying. He was angry, but as it was a
first offence he drove the pigs out with tolerable calmness, mended
the fence, and spent the rest of the day repairing damages.
Three days later the pigs got in again. Harrington relieved his mind
by some scathing reflections on women who tried to run farms. Then he
sent Mordecai, his hired man, over to the Hayden place to ask Mrs.
Hayden if she would be kind enough to keep her pigs out of his garden.
Mrs. Hayden sent back word that she was very sorry and would not let
it occur again. Nobody, not even John Harrington, could doubt that she
meant what she said. But she had reckoned without the pigs. They had
not forgotten the flavour of Egyptian fleshpots as represented by the
succulent young shoots in the Harrington domains. A week later
Mordecai came in and told Harrington that "them notorious pigs" were
in his garden again.
There is a limit to everyone's patience. Harrington left Mordecai to
drive them out, while he put on his hat and stalked over to the
Haydens' place. Ted and Bobbles were playing at marbles in the lane
and ran when they saw him coming. He got close up to the little low
house among the apple trees before Mordecai appeared in the yard,
driving the pigs around the barn. Mrs. Hayden was sitting on her
doorstep, paring her dinner potatoes, and stood up hastily when she
saw her visitor.
Harrington had never seen his neighbour at close quarters before. Now
he could not help seeing that she was a very pretty little woman, with
wistful, dark blue eyes and an appealing expression. Mary Hayden had
been next to a beauty in her girlhood, and she had a good deal of her
bloom left yet, although hard work and worry were doing their best to
rob her of it. But John Harrington was an angry man and did not care
whether the woman in question was pretty or not. Her pigs had rooted
up his garden—that fact filled his mind.
"Mrs. Hayden, those pigs of yours have been in my garden again. I
simply can't put up with this any longer. Why in the name of reason
don't you look after your animals better? If I find them in again I'll
set my dog on them, I give you fair warning."
A faint colour had crept into Mary Hayden's soft, milky-white cheeks
during this tirade, and her voice trembled as she said, "I'm very
sorry, Mr. Harrington. I suppose Bobbles forgot to shut the gate of
their pen again this morning. He is so forgetful."
"I'd lengthen his memory, then, if I were you," returned Harrington
grimly, supposing that Bobbles was the hired man. "I'm not going to
have my garden ruined just because he happens to be forgetful. I am
speaking my mind plainly, madam. If you can't keep your stock from
being a nuisance to other people you ought not to try to run a farm at
Then did Mrs. Hayden sit down upon the doorstep and burst into tears.
Harrington felt, as Sarah King would have expressed it, "every which
way at once." Here was a nice mess! What a nuisance women were—worse
than the pigs!
"Oh, don't cry, Mrs. Hayden," he said awkwardly. "I didn't mean—well,
I suppose I spoke too strongly. Of course I know you didn't mean to
let the pigs in. There, do stop crying! I beg your pardon if I've hurt
"Oh, it isn't that," sobbed Mrs. Hayden, wiping away her tears. "It's
only—I've tried so hard—and everything seems to go wrong. I make
such mistakes. As for your garden, sir. I'll pay for the damage my
pigs have done if you'll let me know what it comes to."
She sobbed again and caught her breath like a grieved child.
Harrington felt like a brute. He had a queer notion that if he put his
arm around her and told her not to worry over things women were not
created to attend to he would be expressing his feelings better than
in any other way. But of course he couldn't do that. Instead, he
muttered that the damage didn't amount to much after all, and he hoped
she wouldn't mind what he said, and then he got himself away and
strode through the orchard like a man in a desperate hurry.
Mordecai had gone home and the pigs were not to be seen, but a chubby
little face peeped at him from between two scrub, bloom-white cherry
"G'way, you bad man!" said Bobbles vindictively. "G'way! You made my
mommer cry—I saw you. I'm only Bobbles now, but when I grow up I'll
be Charles Henry Hayden and you won't dare to make my mommer cry
Harrington smiled grimly. "So you're the lad who forgets to shut the
pigpen gate, are you? Come out here and let me see you. Who is in
there with you?"
"Ted is. He's littler than me. But I won't come out. I don't like you.
Harrington obeyed. He went home and to work in his garden. But work as
hard as he would, he could not forget Mary Hayden's grieved face.
"I was a brute!" he thought. "Why couldn't I have mentioned the matter
gently? I daresay she has enough to trouble her. Confound those pigs!"
After that there was a time of calm. Evidently something had been done
to Bobbles' memory or perhaps Mrs. Hayden attended to the gate
herself. At all events the pigs were not seen and Harrington's garden
blossomed like the rose. But Harrington himself was in a bad state.
For one thing, wherever he looked he saw the mental picture of his
neighbour's tired, sweet face and the tears in her blue eyes. The
original he never saw, which only made matters worse. He wondered what
opinion she had of him and decided that she must think him a cross old
bear. This worried him. He wished the pigs would break in again so
that he might have a chance to show how forbearing he could be.
One day he gathered a nice mess of tender young greens and sent them
over to Mrs. Hayden by Mordecai. At first he had thought of sending
her some flowers, but that seemed silly, and besides, Mordecai and
flowers were incongruous. Mrs. Hayden sent back a very pretty message
of thanks, whereat Harrington looked radiant and Mordecai, who could
see through a stone wall as well as most people, went out to the barn
"Ef the little widder hain't caught him! Who'd a-thought it?"
The next day one adventurous pig found its way alone into the
Harrington garden. Harrington saw it get in and at the same moment he
saw Mrs. Hayden running through her orchard. She was in his yard by
the time he got out.
Her sunbonnet had fallen back and some loose tendrils of her auburn
hair were curling around her forehead. Her cheeks were so pink and her
eyes so bright from running that she looked almost girlish.
"Oh, Mr. Harrington," she said breathlessly, "that pet pig of Bobbles'
is in your garden again. He only got in this minute. I saw him coming
and I ran right after him."
"He's there, all right," said Harrington cheerfully, "but I'll get him
out in a jiffy. Don't tire yourself. Won't you go into the house and
rest while I drive him around?"
Mrs. Hayden, however, was determined to help and they both went around
to the garden, set the gate open, and tried to drive the pig out. But
Harrington was not thinking about pigs, and Mrs. Hayden did not know
quite so much about driving them as Mordecai did; as a consequence
they did not make much headway. In her excitement Mrs. Hayden ran over
beds and whatever came in her way, and Harrington, in order to keep
near her, ran after her. Between them they spoiled things about as
much as a whole drove of pigs would have done.
But at last the pig grew tired of the fun, bolted out of the gate, and
ran across the yard to his own place. Mrs. Hayden followed slowly and
Harrington walked beside her.
"Those pigs are all to be shut up tomorrow," she said. "Hiram has been
fixing up a place for them in his spare moments and it is ready at
"Oh, I wouldn't," said Harrington hastily. "It isn't good for pigs to
be shut up so young. You'd better let them run a while yet."
"No," said Mrs. Hayden decidedly. "They have almost worried me to
death already. In they go tomorrow."
They were at the lane gate now, and Harrington had to open it and let
her pass through. He felt quite desperate as he watched her trip up
through the rows of apple trees, her blue gingham skirt brushing the
lush grasses where a lacy tangle of sunbeams and shadows lay. Bobbles
and Ted came running to meet her and the three, hand in hand,
disappeared from sight.
Harrington went back to the house, feeling that life was flat, stale,
and unprofitable. That evening at the tea table he caught himself
wondering what it would be like to see Mary Hayden sitting at his
table in place of Sarah King, with Bobbles and Ted on either hand.
Then he found out what was the matter with him. He was in love,
fathoms deep, with the blue-eyed widow!
Presumably the pigs were shut up the next day, for Harrington's garden
was invaded no more. He stood it for a week and then surrendered at
discretion. He filled a basket with early strawberries and went across
to the Hayden place, boldly enough to all appearance, but with his
heart thumping like any schoolboy's.
The front door stood hospitably open, flanked by rows of defiant red
and yellow hollyhocks. Harrington paused on the step, with his hand
outstretched to knock. Somewhere inside he heard a low sobbing.
Forgetting all about knocking, he stepped softly in and walked to the
door of the little sitting-room. Bobbles was standing behind him in
the middle of the kitchen but Harrington did not see him. He was
looking at Mary Hayden, who was sitting by the table in the room with
her arms flung out over it and her head bowed on them. She was crying
softly in a hopeless fashion.
Harrington put down his strawberries. "Mary!" he exclaimed.
Mrs. Hayden straightened herself up with a start and looked at him,
her lips quivering and her eyes full of tears.
"What is the matter?" said Harrington anxiously. "Is anything wrong?"
"Oh, nothing much," Said Mrs. Hayden, trying to recover herself. "Yes,
there is too. But it is very foolish of me to be going on like this. I
didn't know anyone was near. And I was feeling so discouraged. The
colt broke his leg in the swamp pasture today and Hiram had to shoot
him. It was Ted's colt. But there, there is no use in crying over it."
And by way of proving this, the poor, tired, overburdened little woman
began to cry again. She was past caring whether Harrington saw her or
The woman-hater was so distressed that he forgot to be nervous. He sat
down and put his arm around her and spoke out what was in his mind
without further parley.
"Don't cry, Mary. Listen to me. You were never meant to run a farm and
be killed with worry. You ought to be looked after and petted. I want
you to marry me and then everything will be all right. I've loved you
ever since that day I came over here and made you cry. Do you think
you can like me a little, Mary?"
It may be that Mrs. Hayden was not very much surprised, because
Harrington's face had been like an open book the day they chased the
pig out of the garden together. As for what she said, perhaps Bobbles,
who was surreptitiously gorging himself on Harrington's strawberries,
may tell you, but I certainly shall not.
The little brown house among the apple trees is shut up now and the
boundary fence belongs to ancient history. Sarah King has gone also
and Mrs. John Harrington reigns royally in her place. Bobbles and Ted
have a small, blue-eyed, much-spoiled sister, and there is a pig on
the estate who may die of old age, but will never meet his doom
otherwise. It is Bobbles' pig and one of the famous fourteen.
Mordecai still shambles around and worships Mrs. Harrington. The
garden is the same as of yore, but the house is a different place and
Harrington is a different man. And Mordecai will tell you with a
chuckle, "It was them notorious pigs as did it all."
Why Not Ask Miss Price?
Frances Allen came in from the post office and laid an open letter on
the table beside her mother, who was making mincemeat. Alma Allen
looked up from the cake she was frosting to ask, "What is the matter?
You look as if your letter contained unwelcome news, Fan."
"So it does. It is from Aunt Clara, to say she cannot come. She has
received a telegram that her sister-in-law is very ill and she must go
to her at once."
Mrs. Allen looked regretful, and Alma cast her spoon away with a
"That is too bad. I feel as if our celebration were spoiled. But I
suppose it can't be helped."
"No," agreed Frances, sitting down and beginning to peel apples. "So
there is no use in lamenting, or I would certainly sit down and cry, I
feel so disappointed."
"Is Uncle Frank coming?"
"Yes, Aunt Clara says he will come down from Stellarton if Mrs. King
does not get worse. So that will leave just one vacant place. We must
invite someone to fill it up. Who shall it be?"
Both girls looked rather puzzled. Mrs. Allen smiled a quiet little
smile all to herself and went on chopping suet. She had handed the
Thanksgiving dinner over to Frances and Alma this year. They were to
attend to all the preparations and invite all the guests. But although
they had made or planned several innovations in the dinner itself,
they had made no change in the usual list of guests.
"It must just be the time-honoured family affair," Frances had
declared. "If we begin inviting other folks, there is no knowing when
to draw the line. We can't have more than fourteen, and some of our
friends would be sure to feel slighted."
So the same old list it was. But now Aunt Clara—dear, jolly Aunt
Clara, whom everybody in the connection loved and admired—could not
come, and her place must be filled.
"We can't invite the new minister, because we would have to have his
sister, too," said Frances. "And there is no reason for asking any one
of our girl chums more than another."
"Mother, you will have to help us out," said Alma. "Can't you suggest
a substitute guest?"
Mrs. Allen looked down at the two bright, girlish faces turned up to
her and said slowly, "I think I can, but I am not sure my choice will
please you. Why not ask Miss Price?"
Miss Price! They had never thought of her! She was the pale,
timid-looking little teacher in the primary department of the
"Miss Price?" repeated Frances slowly. "Why, Mother, we hardly know
her. She is dreadfully dull and quiet, I think."
"And so shy," said Alma. "Why, at the Wards' party the other night she
looked startled to death if anyone spoke to her. I believe she would
be frightened to come here for Thanksgiving."
"She is a very lonely little creature," said Mrs. Allen gently, "and
doesn't seem to have anyone belonging to her. I think she would be
very glad to get an invitation to spend Thanksgiving elsewhere than in
that cheerless little boarding-house where she lives."
"Of course, if you would like to have her, Mother, we will ask her,"
"No, girls," said Mrs. Allen seriously. "You must not ask Miss Price
on my account, if you do not feel prepared to make her welcome for her
own sake. I had hoped that your own kind hearts might have prompted
you to extend a little Thanksgiving cheer in a truly Thanksgiving
spirit to a lonely, hard-working girl whose life I do not think is a
happy one. But there, I shall not preach. This is your dinner, and you
must please yourselves as to your guests."
Frances and Alma had both flushed, and they now remained silent for a
few minutes. Then Frances sprang up and threw her arms around her
"You're right, Mother dear, as you always are, and we are very selfish
girls. We will ask Miss Price and try to give her a nice time. I'll go
down this very evening and see her."
In the grey twilight of the chilly autumn evening Bertha Price walked
home to her boarding-house, her pale little face paler, and her grey
eyes sadder than ever, in the fading light. Only two days until
Thanksgiving—but there would be no real Thanksgiving for her. Why,
she asked herself rebelliously, when there seemed so much love in the
world, was she denied her share?
Her landlady met her in the hall.
"Miss Allen is in the parlour, Miss Price. She wants to see you."
Bertha went into the parlour somewhat reluctantly. She had met Frances
Allen only once or twice and she was secretly almost afraid of the
handsome, vivacious girl who was so different from herself.
"I am sorry you have had to wait, Miss Allen," she said shyly. "I went
to see a pupil of mine who is ill and I was kept later than I
"My errand won't take very long," said Frances brightly. "Mother wants
you to spend Thanksgiving Day with us, Miss Price, if you have no
other engagement. We will have a few other guests, but nobody outside
our own family except Mr. Seeley, who is the law partner and intimate
friend of my brother Ernest in town. You'll come, won't you?"
"Oh, thank you, yes," said Bertha, in pleased surprise. "I shall be
very glad to go. Why, it is so nice to think of it. I expected my
Thanksgiving Day to be lonely and sad—not a bit Thanksgivingy."
"We shall expect you then," said Frances, with a cordial little
hand-squeeze. "Come early in the morning, and we will have a real
friendly, pleasant day."
That night Frances said to her mother and sister, "You never saw such
a transfigured face as Miss Price's when I asked her up. She looked
positively pretty—such a lovely pink came out on her cheeks and her
eyes shone like stars. She reminded me so much of somebody I've seen,
but I can't think who it is. I'm so glad we've asked her here for
Thanksgiving came, as bright and beautiful as a day could be, and the
Allens' guests came with it. Bertha Price was among them, paler and
shyer than ever. Ernest Allen and his friend, Maxwell Seeley, came out
from town on the morning train.
After all the necessary introductions had been made, Frances flew to
"I've found out who it is Miss Price reminds me of," she said, as she
bustled about the range. "It's Max Seeley. You needn't laugh, Al. It's
a fact. I noticed it the minute I introduced them. He's plump and
prosperous and she's pinched and pale, but there's a resemblance
nevertheless. Look for yourself and see if it isn't so."
Back in the big, cheery parlour the Thanksgiving guests were amusing
themselves in various ways. Max Seeley had given an odd little start
when he was introduced to Miss Price, and as soon as possible he
followed her to the corner where she had taken refuge. Ernest Allen
was out in the kitchen talking to his sisters, the "uncles and cousins
and aunts" were all chattering to each other, and Mr. Seeley and Miss
Price were quite unnoticed.
"You will excuse me, won't you, Miss Price, if I ask you something
about yourself?" he said eagerly. "The truth is, you look so
strikingly like someone I used to know that I feel sure you must be
related to her. I do not think I have any relatives of your name. Have
you any of mine?"
Bertha flushed, hesitated for an instant, then said frankly, "No, I do
not think so. But I may as well tell you that Price is not my real
name and I do not know what it is, although I think it begins with S.
I believe that my parents died when I was about three years old, and I
was then taken to an orphan asylum. The next year I was taken from
there and adopted by Mrs. Price. She was very kind to me and treated
me as her own daughter. I had a happy home with her, although we were
poor. Mrs. Price wished me to bear her name, and I did so. She never
told me my true surname, perhaps she did not know it. She died when I
was sixteen, and since then I have been quite alone in the world. That
is all I know about myself."
Max Seeley was plainly excited.
"Why do you think your real name begins with S?" he asked.
"I have a watch which belonged to my mother, with the monogram 'B.S.'
on the case. It was left with the matron of the asylum and she gave it
to Mrs. Price for me. Here it is."
Max Seeley almost snatched the old-fashioned little silver watch, from
her hand and opened the case. An exclamation escaped him as he pointed
to some scratches on the inner side. They looked like the initials
"Let me tell my story now," he said. "My name is Maxwell Seeley. My
father died when I was seven years old, and my mother a year later. My
little sister, Bertha, then three years old, and I were left quite
alone and very poor. We had no relatives. I was adopted by a
well-to-do old bachelor, who had known my father. My sister was taken
to an orphan asylum in a city some distance away. I was very much
attached to her and grieved bitterly over our parting. My adopted
father was very kind to me and gave me a good education. I did not
forget my sister, and as soon as I could I went to the asylum. I found
that she had been taken away long before, and I could not even
discover who had adopted her, for the original building, with all its
records, had been destroyed by fire two years previous to my visit. I
never could find any clue to her whereabouts, and long since gave up
all hope of finding her. But I have found her at last. You are Bertha
Seeley, my little sister!"
"Oh—can it be possible!"
"More than possible—it is certain. You are the image of my mother, as
I remember her, and as an old daguerreotype I have pictures her. And
this is her watch—see, I scratched my own initials on the case one
day. There is no doubt in the world. Oh, Bertha, are you half as glad
as I am?"
Bertha's eyes were shining like stars. She tried to smile, but burst
into tears instead and her head went down on her brother's shoulder.
By this time everybody in the room was staring at the extraordinary
tableau, and Ernest, coming through the hall, gave a whistle of
astonishment that brought the two in the corner back to a sense of
"I haven't suddenly gone crazy, Ernest, old fellow," smiled Max.
"Ladies and gentlemen all, this little school-ma'am was introduced to
you as Miss Price, but that was a mistake. Let me introduce her again
as Miss Bertha Seeley, my long-lost and newly-found sister."
Well they had an amazing time then, of course. They laughed and
questioned and explained until the dinner was in imminent danger of
getting stone-cold on the dining-room table. Luckily, Alma and Frances
remembered it just in the nick of time, and they all got out, somehow,
and into their places. It was a splendid dinner, but I believe that
Maxwell and Bertha Seeley didn't know what they were eating, any more
than if it had been sawdust. However, the rest of the guests made up
for that, and did full justice to the girls' cookery.
In the afternoon they all went to church, and at least two hearts were
truly and devoutly thankful that day.
When the dusk came, Ernest and Maxwell had to catch the last train for
town, and the other guests went home, with the exception of Bertha,
who was to stay all night. Just as soon as her resignation could be
effected, she was to join her brother.
"Meanwhile, I'll see about getting a house to put you in," said Max.
"No more boarding out for me, Ernest. You may consider me as a family
Frances and Alma talked it all over before they went to sleep that
"Just think," said Frances, "if we hadn't asked her here today she
might never have found her brother! It's all Mother's doing, bless
her! Things do happen like a storybook sometimes, don't they, Al? And
didn't I tell you they looked alike?"