Part 2 out of 5
plantation where she had been born and brought up, and she was
therefore quite proficient in it. She found no difficulty in
obtaining work enough to satisfy the moderate wants of herself
and little Pomp.
The latter was a bright little fellow, as black as the ace of
spades, and possessing to the full the mercurial temperament of
the Southern negro. Full of fun and drollery, he attracted plenty
of attention when he came into the village, and earned many a
penny from the boys by his plantation songs and dances.
Now, however, he appeared in a mood entirely different, and it
was easy to see that he was much frightened.
"What's the matter, Pomp?" asked Frank, as he brought his horse
to a standstill.
"Mammy done killed herself," he repeated, wringing his hands in
A moan from the interior of the house seemed to make it clear
that something had happened.
Mrs. Frost pushed the door open and entered.
Chloe had sunk down on the floor and was rocking back and forth,
holding her right foot in both hands, with an expression of acute
pain on her sable face. Beside her was a small pail, bottom
Mrs. Frost was at no loss to conjecture the nature of the
accident which had befallen her. The pail had contained hot
water, and its accidental overturn had scalded poor Chloe.
"Are you much hurt, Chloe?" asked Mrs. Frost sympathizingly.
"Oh, missus, I's most dead," was the reply, accompanied by a
groan. " 'Spect I sha'n't live till mornin'. Dunno what'll become
of poor Pomp when I'se gone."
Little Pomp squeezed his knuckles into his eyes and responded
with an unearthly howl.
"Don't be too much frightened, Chloe," said Mrs. Frost
soothingly. "You'll get over it sooner than you think. How did
the pail happen to turn over?"
"Must have been de debbel, missus. I was kerryin' it just as
keerful, when all at once it upsot."
This explanation, though not very luminous to her visitor,
appeared to excite a fierce spirit of resentment against the pail
in the mind of little Pomp.
He suddenly rushed forward impetuously and kicked the pail with
all the force he could muster.
But, alas for poor Pomp! His feet were unprotected by shoes, and
the sudden blow hurt him much more than the pail. The consequence
was a howl of the most distressing nature.
Frank had started forward to rescue Pomp from the consequences of
his precipitancy, but too late. He picked up the little fellow
and, carrying him out, strove to soothe him.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Frost examined Chloe's injuries. They were not so
great as she had anticipated. She learned on inquiry that the
water had not been scalding hot. There was little doubt that with
proper care she would recover from her injuries in a week or ten
days. But in the meantime it would not do to use the foot.
"What shall I do, missus?" groaned Chloe. "I ain't got nothin'
baked up. 'Pears like me and Pomp must starve."
"Not so bad as that, Chloe," said Mrs. Frost, with a reassuring
smile. "After we have you on the bed we will take Pomp home with
us, and give him enough food to last you both a couple of days.
At the end of that time, or sooner, if you get out, you can send
him up again."
Chloe expressed her gratitude warmly, and Mrs. Frost, calling in
Frank's assistance, helped the poor woman to a comfortable
position on the bed, which fortunately was in the corner of the
same room. Had it been upstairs, the removal would have been
attended with considerable difficulty as well as pain to Chloe.
Pomp, the acuteness of whose pain had subsided, looked on with
wondering eyes while Frank and Mrs. Frost "toted" his mother onto
the bed, as he expressed it.
Chloe accepted, with wondering gratitude, the personal attentions
of Mrs. Frost, who bound up the injured foot with a softness of
touch which brought no pain to the sufferer.
"You ain't too proud, missus, to tend to a poor black woman," she
said. "Down Souf dey used to tell us dat everybody looked down on
de poor nigger and lef' 'em to starve an' die if dey grow sick."
"They told you a great many things that were not true, Chloe,"
said Mrs. Frost quietly. "The color of the skin ought to make no
difference where we have it in our power to render kind offices."
"Do you believe niggers go to de same heaven wid w'ite folks,
missus?" asked Chloe, after a pause.
"Why should they not? They were made by the same God."
"I dunno, missus," said Chloe. "I hopes you is right."
"Do you think you can spare Pomp a little while to go home with
"Yes, missus. Here you, Pomp," she called, "you go home wid dis
good lady, and she'll gib you something for your poor sick
mudder. Do you hear?"
"I'se goin' to ride?" said Pomp inquiringly.
"Yes," said Frank good-naturedly.
"Hi, hi, dat's prime!" ejaculated Pomp, turning a somersault in
"Scramble in, then, and we'll start."
Pomp needed no second invitation. He jumped into the carriage,
and was more leisurely followed by Frank and his mother.
It was probably the first time that Pomp had ever been in a
covered carriage, and consequently the novelty of his situation
put him in high spirits.
He was anxious to drive, and Frank, to gratify him, placed the
reins in his hands. His eyes sparkling with delight, and his
expanded mouth showing a full set of ivories, Pomp shook the
reins in glee, shouting out, "Hi, go along there, you ol'
"Pomp, you mustn't use that word," said Mrs. Frost reprovingly.
"What word, missus?" demanded Pomp innocently.
"The last word you used," she answered.
"Don't 'member what word you mean, missus," said Pomp. "Hi, you
"That's the word?"
"Not say 'debble'?" said Pomp wonderingly. "Why not, missus?"
"It isn't a good word."
"Mammy says 'debble.' She calls me little debble when I run away,
and don't tote in de wood."
"I shall tell her not to use it. It isn't a good word for anybody
"Hope you'll tell her so, missus," said Pomp, grinning and
showing his teeth. "Wheneber she calls me little debble she pulls
off her shoe and hits me. Hurts like de debble. Mebbe she won't
hit me if you tell her not to say 'debble.' "
Mrs. Frost could hardly forbear laughing. She managed, however,
to preserve a serious countenance while she said, "You must take
care to behave well, and then she won't have to punish you."
It is somewhat doubtful whether Pomp heard this last remark. He
espied a pig walking by the side of the road, and was seized with
a desire to run over it. Giving the reins a sudden twitch, he
brought the carriage round so that it was very near upsetting in
Frank snatched the reins in time to prevent this catastrophe.
"What did you do that for, Pomp?" he said quickly.
"Wanted to scare de pig," exclaimed Pomp, laughing. "Wanted to
hear him squeal."
"And so you nearly tipped us over."
"Didn't mean to do dat, Mass' Frank. 'Pears like I didn't think."
Mrs. Frost was too much alarmed by this narrow escape to consent
to Pomp's driving again, and for the moment felt as if she should
like to usurp his mother's privilege of spanking him. But the
little imp looked so unconscious of having done anything wrong
that her vexation soon passed away.
In half an hour Pomp was on his way back, laden with a basketful
of provisions for his sick mother and himself.
CHAPTER XI. PUNISHING A BULLY
It was fortunate for Mrs. Frost that she was so soon called upon
to think for others. It gave her less time to grieve over her
husband's absence, which was naturally a severe trial to her. As
for Frank, though the harvest was gathered in, there were plenty
of small jobs to occupy his attention. He divided with Jacob the
care of the cows, and was up betimes in the morning to do his
share of the milking. Then the pigs and chickens must be fed
every day, and this Frank took entirely into his own charge.
Wood, also, must be prepared for the daily wants of the house,
and this labor he shared with Jacob.
In the afternoon, however, Frank usually had two or three hours
at his own disposal, and this, in accordance with a previous
determination, he resolved to devote to keeping up his studies.
He did not expect to make the same progress that he would have
done if he had been able to continue at school, but it was
something to feel that he was not remaining stationary.
Frank resolved to say nothing to his classmates about his private
studies. They would think he was falling far behind, and at some
future time he would surprise them.
Still, there were times when he felt the need of a teacher. He
would occasionally encounter difficulties which he found himself
unable to surmount without assistance. At such times he thought
of Mr Rathburn's kind offer. But his old teacher lived nearly a
mile distant, and he felt averse to troubling him, knowing that
his duties in school were arduous.
Occasionally he met some of his schoolmates. As nearly all of
them were friendly and well-disposed to him, this gave him
pleasure, and brought back sometimes the wish that he was as free
as they. But this wish was almost instantly checked by the
thought that he had made a sacrifice for his country's sake.
A few days after the incident narrated in the last chapter, Frank
was out in the woods not far from Chloe's cottage, collecting
brushwood, to be afterward carried home, when his attention was
called to an altercation, one of the parties in which he readily
recognized as little Pomp. To explain how it came about, we shall
have to go back a little.
Pomp was returning from Mrs. Frost's, swinging a tin kettle
containing provisions for his mother and himself, when all at
once he met John Haynes, who was coming from the opposite
Now, John was something of a bully, and liked to exercise
authority over the boys who were small enough to render the
attempt a safe one. On the present occasion he felt in a
"I'll have some fun out of the little nigger," he said to
himself, as he espied Pomp.
Pomp approached, swinging his pail as before, and whistling a
"What have you got there, Pomp?" asked John.
"I'se got a pail," said Pomp independently. "Don't yer know a
pail when you see him?"
"I know an impudent little nigger when I see him," retorted John,
not overpleased with the answer. "Come here directly, and let me
see what you've got in your pail."
"I ain't got noffin for you," said Pomp defiantly.
"We'll see about that," said John. "Now, do you mean to come here
or not? I'm going to count three, and I'll give you that time to
Pomp apparently had no intention of complying with John's
request. He had halted about three rods from him, and stood
swinging his pail, meanwhile watching John warily.
"I see you want me to come after you," said John angrily.
He ran toward Pomp, but the little contraband dodged him
adroitly, and got on the other side of a tree.
Opposition only stimulated John to new efforts. He had become
excited in the pursuit, and had made up his mind to capture Pomp,
who dodged in and out among the trees with such quickness and
dexterity that John was foiled for a considerable time. The ardor
of his pursuit and its unexpected difficulty excited his anger.
He lost sight of the fact that Pomp was under no obligation to
comply with his demand. But this is generally the way with
tyrants, who are seldom careful to keep within the bounds of
justice and reason.
"Just let me catch you, you little rascal, and I will give you
the worst licking you ever had," John exclaimed, with passion.
"Wait till you catch me," returned Pomp, slipping, eel-like, from
But Pomp, in dodging, had now come to an open space, where he was
at a disadvantage. John was close upon him, when suddenly he
stood stock-still, bending his back so as to obtain a firm
footing. The consequence was that his too ardent pursuer tumbled
over him, and stretched his length upon the ground.
Unfortunately for Pomp, John grasped his leg in falling, and held
it by so firm a grip that he was unable to get free. In the
moment of his downfall John attained his object.
"Now I've got you," he said, white with passion, "and I'm going
to teach you a lesson."
Clinging to Pomp with one hand, he drew a stout string from his
pocket with the other, and secured the hands of the little
contraband, notwithstanding his efforts to escape.
"Le' me go, you debble," he said, using a word which had grown
familiar to him on the plantation.
There was a cruel light in John's eyes which augured little good
to poor Pomp. Suddenly, as if a new idea had struck him, he
loosened the cord, and taking the boy carried him, in spite of
his kicking and screaming, to a small tree, around which he
clasped his hands, which he again confined with cords.
He then sought out a stout stick, and divested it of twigs.
Pomp watched his preparations with terror. Too well he knew what
they meant. More than once he had seen those of his own color
whipped on the plantation. Unconsciously, he glided into the
language which he would have used there.
"Don't whip me, Massa John," he whimpered in terror. "For the lub
of Heaven, lef me be. I ain't done noffin' to you."
"You'd better have thought of that before," said John, his eyes
blazing anew with vengeful light. "If I whip you, you little
black rascal, it's only because you richly deserve it."
"I'll nebber do so again," pleaded Pomp, rolling his eyes in
terror. Though what it was he promised not to do the poor little
fellow would have found it hard to tell.
It would have been as easy to soften the heart of a nether
millstone as that of John Haynes.
By the time he had completed his preparations, and whirled his
stick in the air preparatory to bringing it down with full force
on Pomp's back, rapid steps were heard, and a voice asked, "What
are you doing there, John Haynes?"
John looked round, and saw standing near him Frank Frost, whose
attention had been excited by what he had heard of Pomp's cries.
"Save me, save me, Mass' Frank," pleaded poor little Pomp.
"What has he tied you up there for, Pomp?"
"It's none of your business, Frank Frost," said John
"I think it's some of my business," said Frank coolly, "when I
find you playing the part of a Southern overseer. You are not in
Richmond, John Haynes, and you'll get into trouble if you
undertake to act as if you were."
"If you say much more, I'll flog you too!" screamed John, beside
himself with excitement and rage.
Frank had not a particle of cowardice in his composition. He was
not fond of fighting, but he felt that circumstances made it
necessary for him to do so now. He did not easily lose his
temper, and this at present gave him the advantage over John.
"You are too excited to know what you are talking about," he said
coolly. "Pomp, why has he tied you up?"
Pomp explained that John had tried to get his pail from him. He
closed by imploring "Mass' Frank" to prevent John from whipping
"He shall not whip you, Pomp," said Frank quietly. As he spoke he
stepped to the tree and faced John intrepidly.
John, in a moment of less passion, would not have ventured to
attack a boy so near his own size. Like all bullies, he was
essentially a coward, but now his rage got the better of his
"I'll flog you both!" he exclaimed hoarsely, and sprang forward
with upraised stick.
Frank was about half a head shorter than John, and was more than
a year younger, but he was stout and compactly built; besides, he
was cool and collected, and this is always an advantage.
Before John realized what had happened, his stick had flown from
his hand, and he was forcibly pushed back, so that he narrowly
escaped falling to the ground.
"Gib it to him, Mass' Frank!" shouted little Pomp. "Gib it to
This increased John's exasperation. By this time he was almost
foaming at the mouth.
"I'll kill you, Frank Frost," he exclaimed, this time rushing at
him without a stick.
Frank had been in the habit of wrestling for sport with the boys
of his own size. In this way he had acquired a certain amount of
dexterity in "tripping up." John, on the contrary, was
unpractised. His quick temper was so easily roused that other
boys had declined engaging in friendly contests with him, knowing
that in most cases they would degenerate into a fight.
John rushed forward, and attempted to throw Frank by the strength
of his arms alone. Frank eluded his grasp, and, getting one of
his legs around John's, with a quick movement tripped him up. He
fell heavily upon his back.
"This is all foolish, John," said Frank, bending over his fallen
foe. "What are you fighting for? The privilege of savagely
whipping a poor little fellow less than half your age?"
"I care more about whipping you, a cursed sight!" said John,
taking advantage of Frank's withdrawing his pressure to spring to
his feet. "You first, and him afterward!"
Again he threw himself upon Frank; but again coolness and
practice prevailed against blind fury and untaught strength, and
again he lay prostrate.
By this time Pomp had freed himself from the string that fettered
his wrists, and danced in glee round John Haynes, in whose
discomfiture he felt great delight.
"You'd better pick up your pail and run home," said Frank. He was
generously desirous of saving John from further humiliation.
"Will you go away quietly if I will let you up, John?" he asked.
"No, d----you!" returned John, writhing, his face almost livid
"I am sorry," said Frank, "for in that case I must continue to
hold you down."
"What is the trouble, boys?" came from an unexpected quarter.
It was Mr. Maynard, who, chancing to pass along the road, had
been attracted by the noise of the struggle.
Frank explained in a few words.
"Let him up, Frank," said the old man. "I'll see that he does no
John rose to his feet, and looked scowlingly from one to the
other, as if undecided whether he had not better attack both.
"You've disgraced yourself, John Haynes," said the old farmer
scornfully. "So you would turn negro-whipper, would you? Your
talents are misapplied here at the North. Brutality isn't
respectable here, my lad. You'd better find your way within the
rebel lines, and then perhaps you can gratify your propensity for
whipping the helpless."
"Some day I'll be revenged on you for this," said John, turning
wrathfully upon Frank. "Perhaps you think I don't mean it, but
the day will come when you'll remember what I say."
"I wish you no harm, John," said Frank composedly, "but I sha'n't
stand by and see you beat a boy like Pomp."
"No," said the farmer sternly; "and if ever I hear of your doing
it, I'll horsewhip you till you beg for mercy. Now go home, and
carry your disgrace with you."
Mr. Maynard spoke contemptuously, but with decision, and pointed
up the road.
With smothered wrath John obeyed his order, because he saw that
it would not be safe to refuse.
"I'll come up with him yet," he muttered to himself, as he walked
quietly toward home. "If he doesn't rue this day, my name isn't
John did not see fit to make known the circumstances of his
quarrel with Frank, feeling, justly, that neither his design nor
the result would reflect any credit upon himself. But his wrath
was none the less deep because he brooded over it in secret. He
would have renewed his attempt upon Pomp, but there was something
in Mr. Maynard's eye which assured him that his threat would be
carried out. Frank, solicitous for the little fellow's safety,
kept vigilant watch over him for some days, but no violence was
attempted. He hoped John had forgotten his threats.
CHAPTER XII. A LETTER FROM THE CAMP
The little family at the Frost farm looked forward with anxious
eagerness to the first letter from the absent father.
Ten days had elapsed when Frank was seen hurrying up the road
with something in his hand.
Alice saw him first, and ran in, exclaiming, "Mother, I do
believe Frank has got a letter from father. He is running up the
Mrs. Frost at once dropped her work, no less interested than her
daughter, and was at the door just as Frank, flushed with
running, reached the gate.
"What'll you give me for a letter?" he asked triumphantly.
"Give it to me quick," said Mrs. Frost. "I am anxious to learn
whether your father is well."
"I guess he is, or he wouldn't have written such a long letter."
"How do you know it's long?" asked Alice. "You haven't read it."
"I judge from the weight. There are two stamps on the envelope. I
was tempted to open it, but, being directed to mother, I didn't
Mrs. Frost sat down, and the children gathered round her, while
she read the following letter:
"DEAR MARY: When I look about me, and consider the novelty and
strangeness of my surroundings, I can hardly realize that it is
only a week since I sat in our quiet sitting-room at the farm,
with you and our own dear ones around me. I will try to help your
imagination to a picture of my present home.
"But first let me speak of my journey hither.
"It was tedious enough, traveling all day by rail. Of course,
little liberty was allowed us. Military discipline is rigid, and
must be maintained. Of its necessity we had a convincing proof at
a small station between Hartford and New Haven. One of our
number, who, I accidentally learned, is a Canadian, and had only
been tempted to enlist by the bounty, selected a seat by the door
of the car. I had noticed for some time that he looked nervous
and restless, as if he had something on his mind.
"At one of our stopping-places--a small, obscure station--he
crept out of the door, and, as he thought, unobserved, dodged
behind a shed, thinking, no doubt, that the train would go off
without him. But an officer had his eye upon him, and a minute
afterward he was ignominiously brought back and put under guard.
I am glad to say that his case inspired no sympathy. To enlist,
obtain a bounty, and then attempt to evade the service for which
the bounty was given, is despicable in the extreme. I am glad to
know that no others of our company had the least desire to follow
this man's example.
"We passed through New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, but I
can give you little idea of either of these cities. The time we
passed in each was mostly during the hours of darkness, when
there was little opportunity of seeing anything.
"In Washington I was fortunate enough to see our worthy
President. We were marching down Pennsylvania Avenue at the time.
On the opposite side of the street we descried a very tall man,
of slender figure, walking thoughtfully along, not appearing to
notice what was passing around him.
"The officer in command turned and said: 'Boys, look sharp. That
is Abraham Lincoln, across the way.'
"Of course, we all looked eagerly toward the man of whom we had
heard so much.
"I could not help thinking how great a responsibility rests upon
this man--to how great an extent the welfare and destinies of our
beloved country depend upon his patriotic course.
"As I noticed his features, which, plain as they are, bear the
unmistakable marks of a shrewd benevolence, and evince also, as I
think, acute and original powers of mind, I felt reassured. I
could not help saying to myself: 'This man is at least honest,
and if he does not carry us in safety through this tremendous
crisis, it will not be for the lack of an honest determination to
do his duty.'
"And now let me attempt to give you a picture of our present
situation, with some account of the way we live.
"Our camp may appropriately be called 'Hut Village.' Imagine
several avenues lined with square log huts, surmounted by
tent-coverings. The logs are placed transversely, and are clipped
at the ends, so as to fit each other more compactly. In this way
the interstices are made much narrower than they would otherwise
be. These, moreover, are filled in with mud, which, as you have
probably heard, is a staple production of Virginia. This is a
good protection against the cold, though it does not give our
dwellings a very elegant appearance.
"Around most of our huts shallow trenches are dug, to carry off
the water, thus diminishing the dampness. Most of the huts are
not floored, but mine, fortunately, is an exception to the
general rule. My comrades succeeded in obtaining some boards
somewhere, and we are a little in advance of our neighbors in
"Six of us are lodged in a tent. It is pretty close packing, but
we don't stand upon ceremony here. My messmates seem to be
pleasant fellows. I have been most attracted to Frank Grover; a
bright young fellow of eighteen. He tells me that he is an only
son, and his mother is a widow.
" 'Wasn't your mother unwilling to have you come out here?' I
asked him one day.
" 'No,' he answered, 'not unwilling. She was only sorry for the
necessity. When I told her that I felt it to be my duty, she told
me at once to go. She said she would never stand between me and
" 'You must think of her often,' I said.
" 'All the time,' he answered seriously, a thoughtful expression
stealing over his young face. 'I write to her twice a week
regular, and sometimes oftener. For her sake I hope my life may
be spared to return.'
" 'I hope so, too,' I answered warmly. Then after a minute's
silence, I added from some impulse: 'Will you let me call you
Frank? I have a boy at home, not many years younger than you. His
name is Frank also--it will seem to remind me of him.'
" 'I wish you would,' he answered, his face lighting up with
evident pleasure. 'Everybody calls me Frank at home, and I am
tired of being called Grover.'
"So our compact was made. I shall feel a warm interest in this
brave boy, and I fervently hope that the chances of war will
leave him unscathed.
"I must give you a description of Hiram Marden, another of our
small company, a very different kind of person from Frank Grover.
But it takes all sorts of characters to make an army, as well as
a world, and Marden is one of the oddities. Imagine a tall young
fellow, with a thin face, lantern jaws, and long hair 'slicked'
down on either side. Though he may be patriotic, he was led into
the army from a different cause. He cherished an attachment for a
village beauty, who did not return his love. He makes no
concealment of his rebuff, but appears to enjoy discoursing in a
sentimental way upon his disappointment. He wears such an air of
meek resignation when he speaks of his cruel fair one that the
effect is quite irresistible, and I find it difficult to accord
him that sympathy which his unhappy fate demands. Fortunately for
him, his troubles, deep-seated as they are, appear to have very
little effect upon his appetite. He sits down to his rations with
a look of subdued sorrow upon his face, and sighs frequently
between the mouthfuls. In spite of this, however, he seldom
leaves anything upon his tin plate, which speaks well for his
appetite, since Uncle Sam is a generous provider, and few of us
do full justice to our allowance.
"You may wonder how I enjoy soldier's fare. I certainly do long
sometimes for the good pumpkin and apple pies which I used to
have at home, and confess that a little apple sauce would make my
hardtack a little more savory. I begin to appreciate your good
qualities as a housekeeper, Mary, more than ever. Pies can be got
of the sutler, but they are such poor things that I would rather
do without than eat them, and I am quite sure they would try my
"There is one very homely esculent which we crave in the camp--I
mean the onion. It is an excellent preventive of scurvy, a
disease to which our mode of living particularly exposes us. We
eat as many as we can get, and should be glad of more. Tell Frank
he may plant a whole acre of them. They will require considerable
care, but even in a pecuniary way they will pay. The price has
considerably advanced since the war began, on account of the
large army demand, and will doubtless increase more.
"As to our military exercises, drill, etc., we have enough to
occupy our time well. I see the advantage of enlisting in a
veteran regiment. I find myself improving very rapidly. Besides
my public company drill, I am getting my young comrade, Frank
Grover, who has been in the service six months, to give me some
private lessons. With the help of these, I hope to pass muster
creditably before my first month is out.
"And now, my dear Mary, I must draw my letter to a close. In the
army we are obliged to write under difficulties. I am writing
this on my knapsack for a desk, and that is not quite so easy as
a table. The constrained position in which I am forced to sit has
tired me, and I think I will go out and 'limber' myself a little.
Frank, who has just finished a letter to his mother, will no
doubt join me. Two of my comrades are sitting close by, playing
euchre. When I joined them I found they were in the habit of
playing for small stakes, but I have succeeded in inducing them
to give up a practice which might not unlikely lead to bad
"In closing, I need not tell you how much and how often I think
of you all. I have never before been separated from you, and
there are times when my longing to be with you again is very
strong. You must make up for your absence by frequent and long
letters. Tell me all that is going on. Even trifles will serve to
amuse us here.
"Tell Frank to send me Harper's Weekly regularly. Two or three
times a week I should like to have a daily paper forwarded. Every
newspaper that finds its way into camp goes the rounds, and its
contents are eagerly devoured.
"I will write you again very soon. The letters I write and
receive from home will be one of my principal sources of
pleasure. God bless you all, is the prayer of your affectionate
husband and father, "HENRY FROST."
It is hardly necessary to say that this letter was read with
eager interest. That evening all the children, including little
Charlie, were busy writing letters to the absent father. I have
not room to print them all, but as this was Charlie's first
epistolary effort, it may interest some of my youthful readers to
see it. The mistakes in spelling will be excused on the score of
Charlie's literary inexperience. This is the way it commenced:
"DEER FARTHER: I am sorry you hav to live in a log hous stuck up
with mud. I shud think the mud wood cum off on your close. I am
wel and so is Maggie. Frank is agoin to make me a sled--a real
good one. I shal cal it the egle. I hope we shal soon hav sum
sno. It will be my berth day next week. I shal be seven years
old. I hope you cum back soon. Good nite.
Charlie was so proud of his letter that he insisted on having it
enclosed in a separate envelope and mailed by itself--a request
which was complied with by his mother.
CHAPTER XIII. MISCHIEF ON FOOT
As may be supposed, John Haynes was deeply incensed with Frank
Frost for the manner in which he had foiled him in his attack
upon Pomp. He felt that in this whole matter he had appeared by
no means to advantage. After all his boasting, he had been
defeated by a boy younger and smaller than himself. The old
grudge which he had against Frank for the success gained over him
at school increased and added poignancy to his mortification. He
felt that he should never be satisfied until he had "come up"
with Frank in some way. The prospect of seeing him ejected from
the farm was pleasant, but it was too far off. John did not feel
like waiting so long for the gratification of his revengeful
feelings. He resolved in the meantime to devise some method of
injuring or annoying Frank.
He could not at once think of anything feasible. Several schemes
flitted across his mind, but all were open to some objection.
John did not care to attempt anything which would expose him, if
discovered, to a legal punishment. I am afraid this weighed more
with him than the wrong or injustice of his schemes.
At last it occurred to him that Mr. Frost kept a couple of pigs.
To let them out secretly at night would be annoying to Frank, as
they would probably stray quite a distance, and thus a tedious
pursuit would be made necessary. Perhaps they might never be
found, in which case John felt that he should not grieve much.
Upon this scheme John finally settled as the one promising the
most amusement to himself and annoyance to his enemy, as he chose
to regard Frank. He felt quite averse, however, to doing the work
himself. In the first place, it must be done by night, and he
could not absent himself from the house at a late hour without
his father's knowledge. Again, he knew there was a risk of being
caught, and it would not sound very well if noised abroad that
the son of Squire Haynes had gone out by night and let loose a
He cast about in his mind for a confederate, and after awhile
settled upon a boy named Dick Bumstead.
This Dick had the reputation of being a scape-grace and a
ne'er-do-well. He was about the age of John Haynes, but had not
attended school for a couple of years, and, less from want of
natural capacity than from indolence, knew scarcely more than a
boy of ten. His father was a shoemaker, and had felt obliged to
keep his son at home to assist him in the shop. He did not prove
a very efficient assistant, however, being inclined to shirk duty
whenever he could.
It was upon this boy that John Haynes fixed as most likely to
help him in his plot. On his way home from school the next
afternoon, he noticed Dick loitering along a little in advance.
"Hold on, Dick," he called out, in a friendly voice, at the same
time quickening his pace.
Dick turned in some surprise, for John Haynes had a foolish
pride, which had hitherto kept him very distant toward those whom
he regarded as standing lower than himself in the social scale.
"How are you, John?" he responded, putting up the knife with
which he had been whittling.
"All right. What are you up to nowadays?"
"Working in the shop," said Dick, shrugging his shoulders. "I
wish people didn't wear shoes, for my part. I've helped make my
share. Pegging isn't a very interesting operation."
"No," said John, with remarkable affability. "I shouldn't think
there'd be much fun in it."
"Fun! I guess not. For my part, I'd be willing to go barefoot, if
other people would, for the sake of getting rid of pegging."
"I suppose you have some time to yourself, though, don't you?"
"Precious little. I ought to be in the shop now. Father sent me
down to the store for some awls, and he'll be fretting because I
don't get back. I broke my awl on purpose," said Dick, laughing,
"so as to get a chance to run out a little while."
"I suppose your father gives you some of the money that you earn,
doesn't he?' inquired John.
"A few cents now and then; that's all. He says everything is so
high nowadays that it takes all we can both of us earn to buy
food and clothes. So if a fellow wants a few cents now and then
to buy a cigar, he can't have 'em."
John was glad to hear this. He felt that he could the more
readily induce Dick to assist him in his plans.
"Dick!" he said abruptly, looking round to see that no one was
within hearing-distance, "wouldn't you like to earn a two-dollar
"For myself?" inquired Dick.
"Is there much work in it?" asked indolent Dick cautiously.
"No, and what little there is will be fun."
"Then I'm in for it. That is, I think I am. What is it?"
"You'll promise not to tell?" said John.
"It's only a little practical joke that I want to play upon one
of the boys "
"On who?" asked Dick, unmindful of his grammar.
"On Frank Frost."
"Frank's a pretty good fellow. It isn't going to hurt him any, is
"Oh, no, of course not."
"Because I wouldn't want to do that. He's always treated me
"Of course he has. It's only a little joke, you know."
"Oh, well, if it's a joke, just count me in. Fire away, and let
me know what you want done."
"You know that Frank, or his father, keeps pigs?"
"I want you to go some night--the sooner the better--and let them
out, so that when morning comes the pigs will be minus, and
Master Frank will have a fine chase after them."
"Seems to me," said Dick, "that won't be much of a joke."
"Then I guess you never saw a pig-chase. Pigs are so contrary
that if you want them to go in one direction they are sure to go
in another. The way they gallop over the ground, with their
little tails wriggling behind them, is a caution."
"But it would be a great trouble to Frank to get them back."
"Oh, well, you could help him, and so get still more fun out of
it, he not knowing, of course, that you had anything to do with
letting them out."
"And that would take me out of the shop for a couple of hours,"
said Dick, brightening at the thought.
"Of course," said John; "so you would get a double advantage.
Come, what do you say?"
"Well, I don't know," said Dick, wavering. "You'd pay me the
money down on the nail, wouldn't you?"
"Yes," said John. "I'll show you the bill now."
He took from his pocketbook a two-dollar greenback, and displayed
it to Dick.
"You could buy cigars enough with this to last you some time," he
"So I could. I declare, I've a good mind to take up your offer."
"You'd better. It's a good one."
"But why don't you do it yourself?" asked Dick, with sudden
"Because father's very strict," said John glibly, "and if I
should leave the house at night, he'd be sure to find it out."
"That's where I have the advantage. I sleep downstairs, and can
easily slip out of the window, without anybody's being the
"Just the thing. Then you agree?"
"Yes, I might as well. Are you particular about the night?"
"No, take your choice about that. Only the sooner the better."
The two boys separated, John feeling quite elated with his
CHAPTER XIV. A RAID UPON THE PIG-PEN
The more Dick thought of the enterprise which he had undertaken,
the more he disliked it. He relished fun as much as any one, but
he could not conceal from himself that he would be subjecting
Frank to a great deal of trouble and annoyance. As he had told
John, Frank had always treated him well, and this thought made
the scheme disagreeable to him.
Still, John had promised him two dollars for his co-operation,
and this, in his circumstances, was an important consideration.
Unfortunately, Dick had contracted a fondness for smoking--a
habit which his scanty supply of pocket-money rarely enabled him
to indulge. This windfall would keep him in cigars for some time.
It was this reflection which finally turned the wavering scale of
Dick's irresolution, and determined him to embrace John's offer.
The moon was now at the full, and the nights were bright and
beautiful. Dick decided that it would be best to defer the
accomplishment of his purpose till later in the month, when
darker nights would serve as a screen, and render detection more
By and by a night came which he thought suitable. A few stars
were out, but they gave only a faint glimmer of light, not more
than was necessary.
Dick went to bed at nine o'clock, as usual. By an effort he
succeeded in keeping awake, feeling that if he once yielded to
drowsiness, he should probably sleep on till morning. At
half-past nine all in the house were abed. It was not till
eleven, however, that Dick felt it safe to leave the house. He
dressed himself expeditiously and in silence, occasionally
listening to see if he could detect any sound in the room above,
where his parents slept. Finally he raised the window softly, and
jumped out. He crept out to the road, and swiftly bent his steps
toward Mr. Frost's house.
As this was not more than a third of a mile distant, a very few
minutes sufficed to bring him to his destination. Dick's feelings
were not the most comfortable. Though he repeatedly assured
himself that it was only fun he was engaged in, he felt very much
like a burglar about to enter a house.
Arrived before the farmhouse, he looked cautiously up to the
windows, but could see no light burning.
"The coast is clear," he thought. "I wish it were all over, and I
were on my way home."
Dick had not reconnoitered thoroughly. There was a light burning
in a window at the other end of the house.
The pig-pen was a small, rough, unpainted building, with a yard
opening from it. Around the yard was a stone wall, which
prevented the pigs from making their escape. They were now, as
Dick could with difficulty see, stretched out upon the floor of
the pen, asleep.
Dick proceeded to remove a portion of the stones forming the
wall. It was not very easy or agreeable work, the stones being
large and heavy. At length he effected a gap which he thought
would be large enough for the pigs to pass through. He next
considered whether it would be better to disturb the slumbers of
the pigs by poking them with a hoe, or wait and let them find out
the avenue of escape in the morning. He finally decided to stir
them up. He accordingly went round to the door and, seizing a
hoe, commenced punching one of the pigs vigorously.
The pig whose slumbers were thus rudely disturbed awoke with a
loud grunt, and probably would have looked astonished and
indignant if nature had given him the power of expressing such
"Get out, there, you lazy beast," exclaimed Dick.
The pig, as was perhaps only natural under the circumstances,
seemed reluctant to get up, and was by no means backward in
grunting his discontent. Dick was earnestly engaged in overcoming
his repugnance to locomotion, when he was startled by hearing the
door of the building, which he had carefully closed, open slowly.
Looking up hastily, the hoe still in his hand, his dismayed
glance fell upon Frank Frost, entering with a lantern.
A half-exclamation of surprise and dismay escaped him. This
called the attention of Frank, who till that moment was
unsuspicious of Dick's presence.
"Dick Bumstead!" he exclaimed, as soon as he recognized the
intruder. "What brings you here at this time of night?"
"A mean errand, Frank," returned Dick, with a wholesome feeling
of shame. He had made up his mind to a confession.
"You didn't come here to--to----" Here Frank stopped short.
"No, not to steal. I ain't quite so mean as that comes to. I come
to let out your pigs, so that in the morning you would have a
long chase after them."
"But what could put such a thing into your head, Dick?" asked
Frank, in great surprise.
"I thought it would be a good joke."
"It wouldn't have been much of a joke to me," said Frank.
"No; and to tell the truth it wouldn't have been to me. The fact
is, and I don't mind telling it, that I should never have thought
of such a thing if somebody else hadn't put it into my head."
"Yes; I'd a little rather not tell who that somebody is, for I
don't believe he would like to have you know."
"Why didn't he come himself?" asked Frank. "It seems to me he's
been making a catspaw of you."
"Yes, haven't you read the story? A monkey wanted to draw some
chestnuts out of the hot ashes, but, feeling a decided objection
to burning his own paws in the operation, drew a cat to the fire
and thrust her paw in."
"I don't know but it's been so in my case," said Dick. "I didn't
want to do it, and that's a fact. I felt as mean as could be when
I first came into your yard to-night. But he offered me two
dollars to do it, and it's so seldom I see money that it tempted
Frank looked puzzled. "I don't see," he said thoughtfully, "how
anybody should think it worth while to pay two dollars for such a
piece of mischief."
"Perhaps he don't like you, and wanted to plague you," suggested
The thought at once flashed upon Frank that John Haynes must be
implicated. He was the only boy who was likely to have two
dollars to invest in this way, and the suggestion offered by Dick
of personal enmity was sufficient to supply a motive for his
"I believe I know who it is, now, Dick," he said quietly.
"However, I won't ask you to tell me. There is one boy in the
village who thinks he has cause of complaint against me, though I
have never intentionally injured him."
"What shall you do about it, Frank?" asked Dick, a little
awkwardly, for he did not want his own agency made public.
"Nothing," answered Frank. "I would rather take no notice of it."
"At any rate, I hope you won't think hard of me," said Dick. "You
have always treated me well, and I didn't want to trouble you.
But the money tempted me. I meant to buy cigars with it."
"You don't smoke, Dick?"
"Yes, when I get a chance."
"I wouldn't if I were you. It isn't good for boys like you and
me. It is an expensive habit, and injurious, too."
"I don't know but you are right, Frank," said Dick candidly.
"I know I am. You can leave off now, Dick, better than when you
At this moment a voice was heard from the house, calling "Frank!"
"I came out for some herbs," said Frank hurriedly. "Jacob isn't
very well, and mother is going to make him some herb tea. I won't
mention that I have seen you."
"All right. Thank you, Frank."
A minute later Frank went into the house, leaving Dick by
"Now," thought Dick, "I must try to remedy the mischief I have
done. I'm afraid I've got a job before me."
He went round to the gap in the wall, and began to lay it again
as well as he could. In lifting the heavy stones he began to
realize how much easier it is to make mischief than to repair
damages afterward. He pulled and tugged, but it took him a good
half-hour, and by that time he felt very tired.
"My clothes must be precious dirty," he said to himself. "At any
rate, my hands are. I wonder where the pump is. But then it won't
do to pump; it'll make too much noise. Oh, here's some water in
Dick succeeded in getting some of the dirt off his hands, which
he dried on his handkerchief. Then with a feeling of relief, he
took the road toward home.
Although he may be said to have failed most signally in his
design, he felt considerably better than if he had succeeded.
"Frank's a good fellow," he said to himself. "Some boys would
have been mad, and made a great fuss. But he didn't seem angry at
all, not even with John Haynes, and did all he could to screen
me. Well I'm glad I didn't succeed."
Dick reached home without any further mischance, and succeeded in
crawling in at the window without making any sound loud enough to
wake up his parents.
The next day John, who had been informed of his intention to make
the attempt the evening previous, contrived to meet him.
"Well, Dick," he said eagerly, "what success last night?"
"None at all," answered Dick.
"Didn't you try?"
"What prevented your succeeding, then?"
"Frank came out to get some herbs to make tea for the hired man,
and so caught me."
"You didn't tell him who put you up to it?" said John
"No," said Dick coolly; "I don't do such things."
"That's good," said John, relieved. "Was he mad?"
"No, he didn't make any fuss. He asked what made me do it, and I
told him somebody else put it into my head."
"You did! I thought you said you didn't."
"I didn't tell who that somebody was, but Frank said he could
"He can't prove it," said John hastily.
"I don't think he'll try," said Dick. "The fact is, John, Frank's
a good fellow, and if you want to get anybody to do him any
mischief hereafter, you'd better not apply to me."
"I don't know as he's any better than other boys," said John,
sneering. He did not enjoy hearing Frank's praises.
"He's better than either of us, I'm sure of that," said Dick
"Speak for yourself, Dick Bumstead," said John haughtily. "I
wouldn't lower myself by a comparison with him. He's only a
laborer, and will grow up a clodhopper."
"He's my friend, John Haynes," said Dick stoutly, "and if you've
got anything else to say against him, you'll oblige me by going
John left in high dudgeon.
That day, to his father's surprise, Dick worked with steady
industry, and did not make a single attempt to shirk.
CHAPTER XV. POMP BEHAVES BADLY
The village of Rossville was distant about five miles from the
long line of railway which binds together with iron bands the
cities of New York and Boston. Only when the wind was strongly
that way could the monotonous noise of the railway-train be
heard, as the iron monster, with its heavy burden, sped swiftly
on its way.
Lately a covered wagon had commenced running twice a day between
Rossville and the railway-station at Wellington. It was started
at seven in the morning, in time to meet the early trains, and
again at four, in order to receive any passengers who might have
left the city in the afternoon.
Occupying a central position in the village stood the tavern--a
two-story building, with a long piazza running along the front.
Here an extended seat was provided, on which, when the weather
was not too inclement, the floating population of the village,
who had plenty of leisure, and others when their work was over
for the day, liked to congregate, and in neighborly chat discuss
the affairs of the village, or the nation, speculating perchance
upon the varying phases of the great civil contest, which, though
raging hundreds of miles away, came home to the hearts and
hearths of quiet Rossville and every other village and hamlet in
The driver of the carriage which made its daily journeys to and
fro from the station had received from his parents the rather
uncommon name of Ajax, not probably from any supposed resemblance
to the ancient Grecian hero, of whom it is doubtful whether his
worthy progenitor had ever heard. He had been at one time a
driver on a horse-car in New York, but had managed to find his
way from the busy hum of the city to quiet Rossville, where he
was just in time for an employment similar to the one he had
One day, early in November, a young man of slight figure,
apparently not far from twenty-five years of age, descended from
the cars at the Wellington station and, crossing the track,
passed through the small station-house to the rear platform.
"Can you tell me," he inquired of a bystander, "whether there is
any conveyance between this place and Rossville?"
"Yes, sir," was the reply. "That's the regular carriage, and
here's the driver. Ajax, here's a passenger for you."
"I have a trunk on the other side," said the young man,
addressing the driver. "If you wild go round with me, we will
bring it here."
"All right, sir," said Ajax, in a businesslike way.
The trunk was brought round and placed on the rack behind the
wagon. It was a large black trunk, securely bound with brass
bands, and showed marks of service, as if it had been
considerably used. Two small strips of paper pasted on the side
bore the custom-house marks of Havre and Liverpool. On one end
was a large card, on which, written in large, bold letters, was
the name of the proprietor, Henry Morton.
In five minutes the "express" got under way. The road wound
partly through the woods. In some places the boughs, bending over
from opposite sides, nearly met. At present the branches were
nearly destitute of leaves, and the landscape looked bleak. But
in the summer nothing could be more charming.
From his seat, beside Ajax, Henry Morton regarded attentively the
prominent features of the landscape. His survey was interrupted
by a question from the driver.
"Are you calc'latin' to make a long stay in our village?"
inquired Ajax, with Yankee freedom.
"I am not quite certain. It is possible that I may."
"There isn't much goin' on in winter."
"No, I suppose not."
After a few minutes' pause, he inquired, "Can you tell me if
there is a gentleman living in the village named Haynes?"
"I expect you mean Squire Haynes," said Ajax.
"Very probably he goes by that name. He was formerly a lawyer."
"Yes, that's the man. Do you know him?"
"I have heard of him," said the young man, non-committally.
"Then you ain't going to stop there?"
An expression of repugnance swept over the young man's face, as
he hastily answered in the negative.
By this time they had come to a turn in the road. This brought
them in view of Chloe's cottage. Little Pomp was on all fours,
hunting for nuts among the fallen leaves under the shagbark-tree.
Under the influence of some freakish impulse, Pomp suddenly
jumped to his feet and, whirling his arms aloft, uttered a wild
whoop. Startled by the unexpected apparition, the horses gave a
sudden start, and nearly succeeded in overturning the wagon.
"Massy on us!" exclaimed an old lady on the back seat, suddenly
flinging her arms round young Morton's neck, in the height of her
"All right, marm," said Ajax reassuringly, after a brief but
successful conflict with the horses. "We sha'n't go over this
time. I should like to give that little black imp a good
"Oh, I've lost my ban'box, with my best bunnit," hastily
exclaimed the old lady. "Le' me get out and find it. It was a
present from my darter, Cynthy Ann, and I wouldn't lose it for a
In truth, when prompted by her apprehension to cling to the young
man in front for protection, Mrs. Payson had inadvertently
dropped the bandbox out of the window, where it met with an
unhappy disaster. The horse, quite unconscious of the damage he
was doing, had backed the wagon in such a manner that one of the
wheels passed directly over it.
When Ajax picked up the mutilated casket, which, with the jewel
it contained, had suffered such irreparable injury, and restored
it to its owner, great was the lamentation. Rachel weeping for
her children could hardly have exhibited more poignant sorrow.
"Oh, it's sp'ilt!" groaned the old lady. "I can never wear it
arter this. And it cost four dollars and sixty-two cents and a
half without the ribbon. Oh, deary me!"
Then, suddenly waxing indignant with the author of the mischief,
she put her head out of the window, and, espying Pomp on the
other side of the stone wall, looking half-repentant and
half-struck with the fun of the thing, she shook her fist at him,
exclaiming, "Oh, you little sarpint, ef I only had you here, I'd
w'ip you till you couldn't stan'."
Pomp was so far from being terrified by this menace that he burst
into a loud guffaw. This, of course, added fuel to the flame of
the old lady's wrath, and filled her with thoughts of immediate
vengeance. Her sympathy with the oppressed black race was at that
moment very small.
"Jest lend me your w'ip, driver," said she, "an' I'll l'arn that
sassy imp to make fun of his elders."
Ajax, whose sense of humor was tickled by the old lady's
peculiarities, quietly took her at her word, and coming round to
the side opened the door of the carriage.
"There, ma'am," said he, extending the whip. "Don't spare him. He
deserves a flogging."
Mrs. Payson, her eyes flashing from beneath her glasses with a
vengeful light, seized the proffered whip with alacrity, and
jumped out of the wagon with a lightness which could hardly have
been anticipated of one of her age.
"Now, look out," she said, brandishing the whip in a menacing
way. "I'll git pay for that bunnit in one way, ef I don't in
Pomp maintained his position on the other side of the wall. He
waited till the old lady was fairly over, and then commenced
running. The old lady pursued with vindictive animosity, cracking
the whip in a suggestive manner. Pomp doubled and turned in a
most provoking way. Finally he had recourse to a piece of
strategy. He had flung himself, doubled up in a ball, at the old
lady's feet, and she, unable to check her speed, fell over him,
clutching at the ground with her outstretched hands, from which
the whip had fallen.
"Hi, hi!" shrieked Pomp, with a yell of inconceivable delight, as
he watched the signal downfall of his adversary. Springing
quickly to his feet, he ran swiftly away.
"Good for you, you old debble!" he cried from a safe distance.
Henry Morton, though he found it difficult to restrain his
laughter, turned to Ajax and said, "I think it's time we
interfered. If you'll overtake the little black boy and give him
a shaking up, just to keep him out of mischief hereafter, I'll go
and help the old lady."
Ajax started on his errand. Pomp, now really alarmed, strove to
escape from this more formidable adversary, but in vain. He was
destined to receive a summary castigation.
Meanwhile, the young man approached Mrs. Payson.
"I hope you're not much hurt, madam," said he respectfully.
"I expect about every bone in my body's broke," she groaned.
Raising her to her feet, it became manifest that the damage was
limited to a pair of hands begrimed by contact with the earth.
Nevertheless, the old lady persisted that "something or 'nother
was broke. She didn't feel quite right inside."
"I shouldn't keer so much," she added, "ef I'd caught that
aggravatin' boy. I'd go fifty miles to see him hung. He'll die on
the gallows, jest as sure's I stan' here."
At this moment a shrill cry was heard, which could proceed from
no one but Pomp.
"Golly, Mass' Jack, don't hit so hard. Couldn't help it, sure."
"You'll have to help it the next time, you little rascal!"
"Le' me go. I hope to be killed if I ever do it ag'in," pleaded
Pomp, dancing about in pain.
"I hope you gin it to him," said the old lady, as the driver
Ajax smiled grimly. "I touched him up a little," he said.
"Oh, my poor bunnit!" groaned Mrs. Payson, once more, as her eyes
fell upon the crushed article. "What will Cynthy Ann say?"
"Perhaps a milliner can restore it for you," suggested Henry
Morton, with an attempt at consolation.
The old lady shook her head disconsolately. "It's all jammed out
of shape," she said dismally, "an' the flowers is all mashed up.
Looks as ef an elephant had trodden on to it."
"As you are the only one of us that has suffered," said the young
man politely, "I think it only fair that your loss should be
lightened. Will you accept this toward making it good?"
He drew from his portemonnaie a five-dollar greenback, as he
spoke, and offered it to Mrs. Payson.
"Are you in airnest?" inquired the old lady dubiously.
"You ain't robbin' yourself, be you?" asked Mrs. Payson, with a
look of subdued eagerness lighting up her wrinkled face.
"Oh, no; I can spare it perfectly well."
"Then I'll take it," she responded, in evident gratification,
"an' I'm sure I'm much obleeged to you. I'm free to confess that
you're a gentleman sech as I don't often meet with. I wouldn't
take it on no account, only the loss is considerable for me, and
Cynthy Ann, she would have been disapp'inted if so be as I hadn't
worn the bunnit. I'd like to know who it is that I'm so much
Henry Morton drew a card from his card-case and handed it with a
bow to Mrs. Payson.
"What's that?" asked the old lady.
"Le's see, where's my specs?" said Mrs. Payson, fumbling in her
pocket. "Oh, I've got 'em on. So your name's Herod. What made 'em
call you that?"
"Henry, madam--Henry Morton."
"Well, so 'tis, I declare. You ain't related to Nahum Morton, of
Gilead, be you; he that was put into the State's prison for
breakin' open the Gilead Bank?"
An amused smile overspread the young man's face.
"I never had any relatives sent to the State's prison," he
answered; "though I think it quite possible that some of them may
have deserved it."
"Jest so," assented the old lady. "There's a good deal of
iniquity that never comes to light. I once know'd a woman that
killed her husband with the tongs, and nobody ever surmised it;
though everybody thought it strange that he should disappear so
suddint. Well, this woman on her death-bed owned up to the tongs
in a crazy fit that she had. But the most cur'us part of it," the
old lady added rather illogically, "was, that the man was livin'
all the while, and it was all his wife's fancy that she'd struck
him with the tongs."
By this time the "express" had rumbled into the main street of
Rossville, and the old lady had hardly completed her striking
illustration of the truth, that murder will out, before they had
drawn up in front of the tavern.
"Ain't you a-goin' to carry me to my darter's house?" she
inquired with solicitude. "I can't walk noway."
"Yes, ma'am, ' answered Ajax, "directly, just as soon as this
gentleman's got out, and they've taken the mail."
He tossed the mail-bag to a small boy who stood on the piazza in
waiting to receive it, and then, whipping up his horses, speedily
conveyed Mrs. Payson to her destination.
"He's a very nice, obleeging young man," said the old lady,
referring to Henry Morton. "I wonder ef his mother was a Bent.
There's old Micajah Bent's third daughter, Roxana Jane, married a
Morton, or it might have been a Moulton. Ever see him afore?"
"No, ma'am. Here you are."
"So I be! and there's Reuben at the gate. How are ye all? Jest
take this carpetbag, will ye, and I'll give you a cent some time
Reuben did not appear much elated by this promise. It had been
made too many times without fulfilment.
The old lady having reached her destination, we take leave of her
for the present, promising to resume her acquaintance in
CHAPTER XVI. FRANK MAKES A FRIEND
Henry Morton rose with the sun. This was not so early as may be
supposed, for already November had touched its middle point, and
the tardy sun did not make its appearance till nearly seven
o'clock. As he passed through the hall he noticed that breakfast
was not quite ready.
"A little walk will sharpen my appetite," he thought. He put on
his hat, and, passing through the stable-yard at the rear,
climbed over a fence and ascended a hill which he had observed
from his chamber window. The sloping sides, which had not yet
wholly lost their appearance of verdure, were dotted with trees,
"It must be delightful in summer," said the young man, as he
looked thoughtfully about him.
The hill was by no means high, and five minutes' walk brought him
to the summit. From this spot he had a fine view of the village
which lay at his feet embowered in trees. A narrow river wound
like a silver thread through the landscape. Groups of trees on
either bank bent over as if to see themselves reflected in the
rapid stream. At one point a dam had been built across from bank
to bank, above which the river widened and deepened, affording an
excellent skating-ground for the boys in the cold days of
December and January. A whirring noise was heard. The grist-mill
had just commenced its work for the day. Down below the dam the
shallow water eddied and whirled, breaking in fleecy foam over
protuberant rocks which lay in the river-bed.
The old village church with its modest proportions occupied a
knoll between the hill and the river. It was girdled about with
firs intermingled with elms. Near-by was a small triangular
common, thickly planted with trees, each facing a separate
street. Houses clustered here and there. Comfortable buildings
they were, but built evidently rather for use than show. The
architect had not yet come to the assistance of the village
Seen in the cheering light of the rising sun, Henry Morton could
not help feeling that a beautiful picture was spread out before
"After all," he said thoughtfully, "we needn't go abroad for
beauty, when we can find so much of it at our own doors. Yet,
perhaps the more we see of the beautiful, the better we are
fitted to appreciate it in the wonderful variety of its
He slowly descended the hill, but in a different direction. This
brought him to the road that connected the village with North
Rossville, two miles distant.
Coming from a different direction, a boy reached the stile about
the same time with himself, and both clambered over together.
"It is a beautiful morning," said the young man courteously.
"Yes, sir," was the respectful answer. "Have you been up looking
at the view?"
"Yes--and to get an appetite for breakfast. And you?"
Frank Frost--for it was he--laughed. "Oh, I am here on quite a
different errand," he said. "I used to come here earlier in the
season to drive the cows to pasture. I come this morning to carry
some milk to a neighbor who takes it of us. She usually sends for
it, but her son is just now sick with the measles."
"Yet I think you cannot fail to enjoy the pleasant morning, even
if you are here for other purposes."
"I do enjoy it very much," said Frank. "When I read of beautiful
scenery in other countries, I always wish that I could visit
them, and see for myself."
"Perhaps you will some day."
Frank smiled, and shook his head incredulously. "I am afraid
there is not much chance of it," he said.
"So I thought when I was of your age," returned Henry Morton.
"Then you have traveled?" said Frank, looking interested.
"Yes. I have visited most of the countries of Europe."
"Have you been in Rome?" inquired Frank.
"Yes. Are you interested in Rome?"
"Who could help it, sir? I should like to see the Capitol, and
the Via Sacra, and the Tarpeian Rock, and the Forum--and, in
fact, Rome must be full of objects of interest. Who knows but I
might tread where Cicero, and Virgil, and Caesar had trodden
Henry Morton looked at the boy who stood beside him with
increased interest. "I see you are quite a scholar," he said.
"Where did you learn about all these men and places?"
"I have partly prepared for college," answered Frank; "but my
father went to the war some weeks since, and I am staying at home
to take charge of the farm, and supply his place as well as I
"It must have been quite a sacrifice to you to give up your
studies?" said his companion.
"Yes, sir, it was a great sacrifice; but we must all of us
sacrifice something in these times. Even the boys can do
something for their country."
"What is your name?" asked Henry Morton, more and more pleased
with his chance acquaintance. "I should like to become better
acquainted with you."
Frank blushed, and his expressive face showed that he was
gratified by the compliment.
"My name is Frank Frost," he answered, "and I live about half a
mile from here."
"And I am Henry Morton. I am stopping temporarily at the hotel.
Shall you be at leisure this evening, Frank?"
"Then I should be glad to receive a call from you. I have no
acquaintances, and perhaps we may help each other to make the
evening pass pleasantly. I have some pictures collected abroad,
which I think you might like to look at."
"I shall be delighted to come," said Frank, his eyes sparkling
By this time they had reached the church, which was distant but a
few rods from the hotel. They had just turned the corner of the
road, when the clang of a bell was heard.
"I suppose that is my breakfast-bell," said the young man. "It
finds me with a good appetite. Good morning, Frank. I will expect
you, then, this evening."
Frank returned home, feeling quite pleased with his invitation.
"I wish," thought he, "that I might see considerable of Mr.
Morton. I could learn a great deal from him, he has seen so
His road led him past the house of Squire Haynes. John was
sauntering about the yard with his hands in his pockets.
"Good morning, John," said Frank, in a pleasant voice.
John did not seem inclined to respond to this politeness. On
seeing Frank he scowled, and without deigning to make a reply
turned his back and went into the house. He had not forgotten the
last occasion on which they had met in the woods, when Frank
defeated his cruel designs upon poor Pomp. There was not much
likelihood that he would forget it very soon.
"I can't understand John," thought Frank. "The other boys will
get mad and get over it before the next day; John broods over it
for weeks. I really believe he hates me. But, of course, I
couldn't act any differently. I wasn't going to stand by and see
Pomp beaten. I should do just the same again."
The day wore away, and in the evening Frank presented himself at
the hotel, and inquired for Mr. Morton. He was ushered upstairs,
and told to knock at the door of a room in the second story.
His knock was answered by the young man in person, who shook his
hand with a pleasant smile, and invited him in.
"I am glad to see you, Frank," he said, very cordially.
"And I am much obliged to you for inviting me, Mr. Morton."
They sat down together beside the table, and conversed on a
variety of topics. Frank had numberless questions to ask about
foreign scenes and countries, all of which were answered with the
utmost readiness. Henry Morton brought out a large portfolio
containing various pictures, some on note-paper, representing
scenes in different parts of Europe.
The evening wore away only too rapidly for Frank. He had seldom
passed two hours so pleasantly. At half-past nine, he rose, and
said half-regretfully, "I wish you were going to live in the
village this winter, Mr. Morton."
The young man smiled. "Such is my intention, Frank," he said
"Shall you stay?" said Frank joyfully. "I suppose you will board
"I should prefer a quieter boarding-place. Can you recommend
"Where," continued Mr. Morton, "I could enjoy the companionship
of an intelligent young gentleman of your age?"
"If we lived nearer the village," Frank began, and stopped
"Half a mile would be no objection to me. As I don't think you
will find it unpleasant, Frank, I will authorize you to offer
your mother five dollars a week for a room and a seat at her
"I am quite sure she would be willing, Mr. Morton, but I am
afraid we should not live well enough to suit you. And I don't
think you ought to pay so much as five dollars a week."
"Leave that to me, Frank. My main object is to obtain a pleasant
home; and that I am sure I should find at your house."
"Thank you, sir," said Frank; "I will mention it to my mother,
and let you know in the course of to-morrow."
CHAPTER XVII. A SHADE OF MYSTERY
Frank found little difficulty in persuading his mother to accept
young Morton's proposition. From her son's description she felt
little doubt that he would be a pleasant addition to the family
circle, while his fund of information would make him instructive
as well as agreeable.
There was another consideration besides which determined her to
take him. Five dollars a week would go a great way in
housekeeping, or, rather, as their income from other sources
would probably be sufficient for this, she could lay aside the
entire amount toward paying the mortgage held by Squire Haynes.
This plan occurred simultaneously to Frank and his mother.
"I should certainly feel myself to blame if I neglected so good
an opportunity of helping your father," said Mrs. Frost.
"Suppose we don't tell him, mother," suggested Frank; "but when
he gets home surprise him with the amount of our savings."
"No," said Mrs. Frost, after a moment's thought, "your father
will be all the better for all the good news we can send him. It
will make his life more tolerable."
Frank harnessed his horse to a light wagon and drove down to the
Henry Morton was sitting on the piazza, as the day was
unusually-warm, with a book in his hand.
"Well," he said, looking up with a smile, "I hope you have come
"That is my errand, Mr. Morton," answered Frank. "If your trunk
is already packed, we will take it along with us."
"It is quite ready. If you will come up and help me downstairs
with it, I will settle with the landlord and leave at once."
This was speedily arranged, and the young man soon occupied a
seat beside Frank.
Arrived at the farmhouse, Frank introduced the new boarder to his
"I hope we shall be able to make you comfortable," said Mrs.
Frost, in a hospitable tone.
"I entertain no doubt of it," he said politely. "I am easy to
suit, and I foresee that Frank and I will become intimate
"He was very urgent to have you come. I am not quite sure whether
it would have been safe for me to refuse."
"I hope he will be as urgent to have me stay. That will be a
still higher compliment."
"Here is the room you are to occupy, Mr. Morton," said Mrs.
Frost, opening a door at the head of the front stairs.
It was a large square room, occupying the front eastern corner of
the house. The furniture was neat and comfortable, though not
"I like this," said the young man, surveying his new quarters
with an air of satisfaction. "The sun will find me out in the
"Yes, it will remain with you through the forenoon. I think you
will find the room warm and comfortable. But whenever you get
tired of it you will be welcome downstairs."
"That is an invitation of which I shall be only too glad to avail
myself. Now, Frank, if you will be kind enough to help me
upstairs with my trunk."
The trunk was carried up between them, and placed in a closet.
"I will send for a variety of articles from the city to make my
room look social and cheerful," said Mr. Morton. "I have some
books and engravings in Boston, which I think will contribute to
make it so."
A day or two later, two large boxes arrived, one containing
pictures, the other books. Of the latter there were perhaps a
hundred and fifty, choice and well selected.
Frank looked at them with avidity.
"You shall be welcome to use them as freely as you like," said
the owner--an offer which Frank gratefully accepted.
The engravings were tastefully framed in black walnut. One
represented one of Raphael's Madonnas. Another was a fine
photograph, representing a palace in Venice. Several others
portrayed foreign scenes. Among them was a street scene in Rome.
An entire family were sitting in different postures on the
portico of a fine building, the man with his swarthy features
half-concealed under a slouch hat, the woman holding a child in
her lap, while another, a boy with large black eyes, leaned his
head upon her knees.
"That represents a Roman family at home," explained Henry Morton.
"Yes, it is the only home they have. They sleep wherever night
finds them, sheltering themselves from the weather as well as
"But how do they get through the winter? should think they would
"Nature has bestowed upon Italy a mild climate, so that, although
they may find the exposure at this season disagreeable, they are
in no danger of freezing."
There was another engraving which Frank looked at curiously. It
represented a wagon laden with casks of wine, and drawn by an ox
and a donkey yoked together. Underneath was a descriptive phrase,
"Caro di vino."
"You don't see such teams in this country," said Mr. Morton,
smiling. "In Italy they are common enough. In the background you
notice a priest with a shovel-hat, sitting sideways on a donkey.
Such a sight is much more common there than that of a man on
horseback. Indeed, this stubborn animal is found very useful in
ascending and descending mountains, being much surer-footed than
the horse. I have ridden down steep descents along the verge of a
precipice where it would have been madness to venture on
horseback, but I felt the strongest confidence in the donkey I
Frank noticed a few Latin books in the collection. "Do you read
Latin, Mr. Morton?" he inquired.
"Yes, with tolerable ease. If I can be of any assistance to you
in carrying on your Latin studies, it will afford me pleasure to
"I am very much obliged to you, Mr. Morton. I tried to go on with
it by myself, but every now and then I came to a difficult
sentence which I could not make out."
"I think we can overcome the difficulties between us. At any
rate, we will try. Have no hesitation in applying to me."
Before closing this chapter, I think it necessary to narrate a
little incident which served to heighten the interest with which
Frank regarded his new friend, though it involved the latter in a
shadow of mystery.
Mrs. Frost did not keep what in New England is denominated
"help." Being in good health, she performed the greater part of
her household tasks unassisted. When washing and house-cleaning
days came, however, she obtained outside assistance. For this
purpose she engaged Chloe to come twice a week, on Monday and
Saturday, not only because in this way she could help the woman
to earn a living, but also because she found her a valuable and
Henry Morton became a member of the little household at the farm
on Thursday, and two days later Chloe came as usual to "clean
The young man was standing in the front yard as Chloe, with a
white turban on her head, for she had not yet laid aside her
Southern mode of dress, came from the street by a little path
which led to the back door. Her attention was naturally drawn to
the young man. No sooner did she obtain a full view of him, than
she stopped short and exclaimed with every appearance of
surprise, "Why, Mass' Richard, who'd'a' thought to see you here.
You look just like you used to do, dat's a fac'. It does my old
eyes good to see you."
Henry Morton turned suddenly.
"What, Chloe!" he exclaimed in equal surprise. "What brings you
up here? I thought you were miles away, in Virginia."
"So I was, Mass' Richard. But Lor' bless you, when de Linkum
sogers come, I couldn't stay no longer. I took and runned away."
"And here you are, then."
"Yes, Mass' Richard, here I is, for sure."
"How do you like the North, Chloe?"
"Don't like it as well as de Souf. It's too cold," and Chloe
"But you would rather be here than there?"
"Yes, Mass' Richard. Here I own myself. Don't have no oberseer to
crack his whip at me now. I'se a free woman now, and so's my
The young man smiled at the innocent mistake.
"Pomp is your little boy, I suppose, Chloe."
"Yes, Mass' Richard."
"Is he a good boy?"
"He's as sassy as de debble," said Chloe emphatically. "I don't
know what's goin' to 'come of dat boy. He's most worried my life
"Oh, he'll grow better as he grows older. Don't trouble yourself
about him. But, Chloe, there's one favor I am going to ask of
"Yes, Mass' Richard."
"Don't call me by my real name. For some reasons, which I can't
at present explain, I prefer to be known as Henry Morton, for
some months to come. Do you think you can remember to call me by
"Yes, Mass'--Henry," said Chloe, looking perplexed.
Henry Morton turned round to meet the surprised looks of Frank
and his mother.
"My friends," he said, "I hope you will not feel distrustful of
me, when I freely acknowledge to you that imperative reasons
compel me for a time to appear under a name not my own. Chloe and
I are old acquaintances, but I must request her to keep secret
for a time her past knowledge concerning me. I think," he added
with a smile, "that she would have nothing to say that would
damage me. Some time you shall know all. Are you satisfied?"
"Quite so," said Mrs. Frost. "I have no doubt you have good and