Part 4 out of 5
"I mean for you to offer him fifty dollars against the principal
of the mortgage. No matter of whom you would get money, you
would have to pay the same interest you pay Strout now and no
matter whom I might get money from for you, so that you could pay
off Strout and get rid of him, there would be the additional
expense of making the new mortgage, and all that."
"But is he to be trusted?"
"Not at all. At the end of the year he will want more money, if
he thinks you will have difficulty in getting it and there is a
chance of your having to give up your home."
"But a year from now I prophesy," said Mr. Day, "that your little
house will be worth much more than it is to-day. At least it
will be worth no less. It will be easier a year from now to
raise another mortgage than it is right now. Just toll Strout
along a little," and he laughed.
"Do you think I can do this, Mr. Day?" asked Mrs. Carringford
"You can to it for your children's sake, I have no doubt. And
remember, in any case, if Strout demands the entire mortgage paid
at once, within three days I will try to obtain for you a new
mortgagee. You shall not lose your home, or what money you have
already put into it, if I can help it."
"Oh, Mr. Day! exclaimed the woman, warmly. "If I can go home
with this confident feeling--"
"You may. Of course, you are in debt. It is going to be a hard
struggle for you to get along. But your children are growing up
and in time will be able to shoulder a part of the burden which
you have assumed for their sake. Take courage, Mrs. Carringford.
Everything will turn out right in the end, I am sure."
It was plain that Mrs. Carringford was greatly comforted. When
she left, Janice whispered to her father: "I'm awfully proud of
you, Daddy. You do have such a way with you!"
But helping other people out of their troubles was not helping
the Days out of their particular Slough of Despond. So many
difficulties seemed reaching out to clutch at Janice and Daddy!
The girl thought it was like walking through a briar-patch.
Every step they took, trouble retarded them.
First and foremost the disappearance of that strange Olga
Cedarstrom, and the loss of the box of heirlooms, was continually
in Janice's mind. The girls at school knew about it, although
only Amy knew just how serious the loss was to the Days.
The puzzle regarding the girl named Olga who had helped in the
Latham's kitchen the night of Stella's birthday party, had been
noised abroad among Janice's school friends, and more or less
comment was made upon it.
"Say, Janice, did you ever find out what became of that Swede who
broke Mrs. Latham's dish the night we were all there?" asked one
of the girls one day. "Didn't you say she might be the very girl
who ran away from your house?"
"Yes! I did think so. But it was not the same. Her friends
said this girl was not named Cedarstrom."
"Well, who'd want such a name, anyway?" laughed another of the
Stella was herself one of those present; but at this time she was
not speaking to Janice. She laughed maliciously when Janice Day
"What's the matter with you, Stella?" asked Bertha Warring.
"Your 'ha, ha' is like that of the villain in the melodrama.
What is the matter?"
"Oh, never mind," returned Stella, apparently very much enjoying
her own secret thoughts.
"Tell us, Stella; then we'll all laugh," urged another.
"Oh, no. You girls say I can't keep a secret. But I'll
show you--and that Janice Day--that I can. I know something
about the Olga-girl that she'd like to know; but Janice shall
never learn it from me," and Stella laughed again maliciously.
CHAPTER XXI. THE CLOSING OF SCHOOL
Janice heard from Gummy and Amy just how Abel Strout acted and
what he said when he came to see their mother about the renewal
of the mortgage and the payment of the half year's interest.
Gummy was very much excited over it.
"You strought to see that Stout man, anyway--"
"Oh, dear, me, Gummy, there you go again!" gasped Janice, with
laughter, while the boy's sister giggled desperately, too.
"What's the matter now?" he demanded, in some surprise.
"Another lapsus linguae--I looked it up, and that is what they
call it," said Janice.
"Say! Why don't you talk so people can understand you?" Gummy
demanded. "Don't talk Latin to a fellow."
"And you sounded as though you were using 'pig-Latin,'" laughed
Amy. "You said we "strought' to see Mr. 'Stout'."
"Oh! Jicksy! Did I?" exclaimed the boy. I'm always saying one
thing and meaning another, aren't I? Is that a lapsus linguae?
"It is in this case, Gummy. But go on--do."
"Well, Mr. Strout looks just like a piece of that green-speckled
cheese Mr. Hardman has in his showcase --in the face, I mean."
"In the face of the showcase?" giggled Amy.
"Or the face of the cheese?" asked Janice demurely.
"Now, say, you girls go too far," complained Gummy, yet
good-naturedly. "I mean Strout's face. It looks like the
cheese, for he's all speckled. And the cheese is called
Rockyford and tastes funnier than it looks."
"Oh, oh!" cried Janice, "you've got your cheese mixed with melons
this time. It is Rockyford melons and Roquefort cheese."
"Jicksy! They sound pretty near the same," grumbled Gummy.
"Anyhow, that is how Abel Strout looks in the face--speckled.
And he came in, in that yellow dust-coat of his, looking like a
peeled sapling--so long and lean."
"My, what a wealth of description you have at your tongue's end,"
cried Janice, still in a gale of laughter. "A face like
Roquefort cheese with a figure like a peeled sapling. Well!"
"You keep on you girls, and I won't ever get anywhere,"
"Go on, Gummy," urged Janice.
"Well, he was just as nasty-mean as he always is. The only time
I ever saw him pleasant was when he was wheedling mother out of
her money before she bought the house. But he started in real
bossy this time."
"I should say he did," agreed Amy, feelingly.
"'Well, Mrs. Carringford,' said Strout, 'I hope you are ready to
take up that mortgage right now, without no hanging back.' He
knew of course that mother didn't have a whole thousand dollars
left--no, sir! He knows all right just what she had in the
beginning, and that we've been living off it for more than a
year," said Gummy.
"So mother told him she could not take up the mortgage. That she
did not dare put any more money into the place --except the
interest and the taxes--until prospects were brighter.
"'Well,' he said--mean old hunks!--'money is dreadful
tight right now, and I don't see how I can let you have
a thousand any longer. 'Tain't in the bill of
"Mother said: 'Mr. Strout, when you sold me the place you said I
could have plenty of time to pay for it. You knew my children
were small and that I could not do much toward paying the
mortgage until they grew bigger and could help.'
"'You got anything like that writ into your contract?' asked Mr.
"'It was verbally understood,' said mother.
"'That don't mean nothin' in business,' said Strout. 'I might
tell you the moon was made o' green cheese, but I wouldn't
guarantee it. Talk's one thing; a written guarantee is another.
That mortgage is writ for a year, and the year is up.'
"Oh!" exclaimed Gummy hotly, "I could have hit him for speaking
so mean to my mother."
"I don't blame you," Janice said sympathetically. "But never
mind. Tell the rest."
"Why, all mother could say was what your father told' her to say.
She said: 'You said when you were here several weeks ago that you
would let me pay off some of the principal and let the mortgage
"'How much?' he snapped at her--just like a hungry dog
at a bone, you know," continued Gummy.
"'I will spare fifty dollars,' said mother.
"'Fifty fiddlestrings!' shouted Strout. 'Won't hear to it!
Won't listen to it!'
"But already, you see," chuckled Gummy, "mother had pushed the
interest money toward him across the table. He grabbed it. He
couldn't keep his hands off real money, I guess--his own or
"Oh, Gummy!" murmured Amy.
"Well, didn't he just act so?" cried the boy. "Why, he counted
that interest money just as hungrily! And he folded it and put
it in his wallet."
"You tell it just as it was," sighed Amy. "Of course I do. Well,
mother said: 'You can give me my receipt for that, Mr. Strout, if
you don't mind.' And then he did go off the handle!" chortled
Gummy. "You see, he had tricked himself."
"How was that, Gummy?" Janice asked wonderingly.
"He made mother pay interest on the note six months in advance.
When he accepted that interest he--what do you call it?--Oh! He
tacitly renewed the note, which runs what they call concurrently
with the mortgage. So the mortgage is good for another year."
"Oh! Is that what daddy told your mother to do?" cried Janice.
"Now I understand." exclaimed the delighted
"Oh! Daddy didn't mean it as a trick--"
"Not a tricky trick," explained Gummy volubly. "Of course not.
But mother just let Mr. Strout trick himself. When he saw what
he had done he tried to hand the money back; but mother said:
"'Oh, no, sir!, You can give me the written receipt or not, just
as you please. Both of these children'-- that's Amy and me--'saw
me give you the money and know its purpose. Their testimony is
good in court.
You have refused any payment on the principal of the mortgage;
but you have accepted interest for the ensuing six months. You
have therefore renewed the note for a year, as it is written for
"Oh, wasn't Strout mad!" chuckled Gummy.
"And I was proud of mamma," added Amy.
"You bet! Strout said to mother: 'Somebody's been talking to
you--I can see that.'
"'Yes, they have,' she told him. 'And somebody who knows you
very well, Mr. Strout.' Meaning your father, Janice, of course.
"'So you think you will hold on to this shack and make something
on it, do you?' he remarked.
"'At least,' mother answered, 'I hope to keep it for a shelter
for my children and not lose what I have put in it.'
"'Well,' said he, in such a nasty tone! 'You just wait!' And then
he stamped out of the house."
"Oh, but I am afraid of him," sighed Amy. "He spoke so
"Yes, Momsy and Amy think he has something up his sleeve," said
Gummy, carelessly. "But I think Abel Strout is licked, thanks to
Janice was very careful to repeat the particulars of this scene
Gummy had so vividly related to her father in the evening.
"Maybe he has something 'up his sleeve,' as Gummy says," Janice
observed. "Can that be possible, do you think, Daddy?"
"Well, it is hard to say. Now that I have gone into this thing
for Mrs. Carringford, I suppose I might go a little deeper. Do
you know if she had the title to that property searched before
she bought it?"
"I'll ask her, Daddy."
"Don't ask in a way to frighten her," advised Mr. Day, on second
thought. "It may be all right. Just ask her who looked up the
title. Tell her I will have the money ready for her to take up
Strout's mortgage when it becomes due next time; but that
meanwhile I shall have to have the title searched if that was not
"Oh, Daddy! do you believe there could be some--some--"
"Some flaw in it?" asked her father, supplying the word that
Janice had heard but could not remember.
"There might be. This is an old part of Greensboro, and some of
the old titles conflicted."
"But then Mrs. Carringford would not have to lose, would she?
Wouldn't Mr. Strout have to give her back her money?"
"Perhaps not. Not if he could prove that he knew nothing about
the flaw in the title. Or rather, not if Mrs. Carringford could
not prove that Strout did know his title was fraudulent.
Besides, the place might have been sold for taxes some time.
That would invalidate the title in this state, unless the
original owner, or his heirs, who owed the taxes, had
"Dear me, Daddy Day? she cried, "it sounds awfully complicated."
"It is, for little girls. But we will see what we shall see,"
which to say the least, was not a very comforting statement.
Janice had found a colored woman who lived at the end of Love
Street to take the washing home each week and who did it very
satisfactorily. But the woman had small children and so could
not go out to work.
Besides, such women as they had hired to come in to work by the
day had been very unsatisfactory. Nobody seemed to take any
interest in the work.
"Why," Janice thought, "we haven't even cleaned house properly
this spring. And here it is June--and school almost closing!"
It was a fact that the last few days of the spring term were at
hand. Janice was so busy that she did not know what to do. When
she went to see Mrs. Carringford to ask her the question Daddy
had told her to put, she broke down and cried, telling Amy's
mother how bad she felt about the house.
"I got down the curtains and put them to soak; but I can't starch
them and put them on the stretcher and hang them again,"
confessed Janice "The house looks so bare! And every inch of
paint needs scrubbing--even in the rooms that Mrs. Watkins shut
up so tight. She did not clean the paint."
"Can't you hire somebody to help you?" asked Mrs. Carringford.
"If you mean can daddy pay for it--he'd be glad to!" cried
Janice. "But I just can't find anybody at all."
"I might come over and help you a couple of days, Janice," said
Mrs. Carringford, doubtfully.
"Oh! Could you?"
"I can't come very early in the morning; but Amy can get supper
for the children, so that I could stay until after your dinner at
"Mrs. Carringford! if you'll come and help us," gasped Janice, "I
think I'll just cry for joy."
"Don't do that, my dear. Of course, this is only a stop-gap.
But I will try to do what I can for you toward cleaning house and
putting everything to rights again."
And a single day's work made such a difference Daddy came into
the house toward evening without knowing what Janice had arranged
with Mrs. Carringford, and began to "snuff" at once.
"Why, Janice, how clean everything smells!" he cried when the
girl ran to meet him. "What is happening?"
"We are cleaning house. At least, she is."
"'She'? Who?" he cried.
"You'll never guess."
"I--I--Surely none of the neighbors has taken pity on us and come
in to clean?"
"That is exactly what has happened," Janice said. "Mrs.
"Mrs Carringford!" he repeated. "Not come to work for us?"
"Oh, dear! I wish she was going to work for us all the time,"
confessed the girl with a sigh. "But she is going to put us all
straight once more, at least. The children don't want her to go
out to work; but she will do this for us."
"Well, 'small mercies thankfully received; larger ones in
proportion,'" murmured daddy. "The whole house to be cleaned
once more? And without my Janice to be dragging herself to
"Well, I have been worried, dear," he confessed. "I wrote your
Aunt Almira, half promising that you should go to see them after
"Oh, Daddy!" shrieked Janice again. "To Poketown?"
"You won't find it so bad. And you need a rest, I believe. This
"Oh! you sha'n't talk so about our beautiful home," gasped
"If it is going to be such a burden to you, my dear--"
"It isn't! It isn't " she cried excitedly, and actually stamping
her feet. "You don't mean to shut up our home, Daddy? I won't
hear to it," and she burst into a flood of tears.
Mrs. Carringford came into the living-room, neat, smiling, and
very, very good to look upon, the man thought. It was a blessing
to have a real housekeeper, and homemaker as well, in the house.
"Quite overwrought, Mr. Day," she said putting her arms about the
sobbing Janice. "She works too hard and tries to do too much."
"I know it," he said, shaking his head.
"And, besides," said the good woman, "Janice is growing up. She
is growing too fast, perhaps. And she does need, Mr. Day,
something that no father--no matter how willing and thoughtful he
may be--can give her."
"That is--?" asked the man, paling a little.
"The companionship of a woman, Mr. Day," said Mrs. Carringford.
"She should be more with some woman whom you can trust. Not the
women you have had here to work for you."
Janice had run away to bathe her eyes and make herself tidy.
Broxton Day listened to this woman's advise with a serious
"I was just suggesting her going to spend a part of the summer
with her aunt in Vermont. And she doesn't want to," he
"That would take her a long way from you and from her home. She
loves her home, Mr. Day. Janice is a born homemaker, I believe."
"What can I do, then?" exclaimed the man, at his wit's end.
"Were any people ever situated so unfortunately as Janice and I?"
"There have been thousands like you and your daughter," said Mrs.
Carringford. "Janice will be all right after school closes, for
she will not have so much to do. Let her books rest this summer.
See that she plays instead of works. If you will, let her be a
good deal with other girls."
"I would be willing to have her fill the house with them. Only
that, too, adds to the work."
"Well, we'll see," sighed Mrs. Carringford, preparing to go back
to the kitchen. "She can run over and see my Amy, and Amy can
come here. They are about the same age, and like kittens they
should play more than work. I will gladly do what I can for you,
Mr. Day. You have been very kind to me and mine."
He wanted to tell her that that was not so. That he had really
done nothing, and the favor was on the other side. But she
hurried away to attend to dinner.
And it was a nice dinner that was served at the Day table that
evening. Like the faded-out lady, Mrs.
Carringford sat down to eat with them. But there was a different
air about Mrs. Carringford. She was really a gentlewoman.
Janice recovered her spirits and chattered like a magpie; and Mr.
Day himself found that for the first time in many months, he had
really enjoyed a well-cooked meal and a social meal at his own
Mrs. Carringford came day after day until the entire house was
cleaned. Daddy found a man to clean up the yard, cart away
ashes, smooth the walks and dig over the flowerbeds. The local
florist supplied growing plants for out of doors, and the Day
place bloomed again as it was wont to do when Mrs. Day was alive.
Meanwhile Janice and her mates were just as busy as bees
concluding the spring term at school. There were the final
examinations which were now close at hand. Janice really trembled
"My sakes, Amy! what if I shouldn't pass? I'm awfully shaky on
"Goodness, Janice! you'll pass, of course. Anybody as bright and
quick as you are!"
"It's awfully nice of you to say that. But my recitations have
gone off like anything lately and I really am afraid of these
Amy tried to comfort her friend, but with little success.
Then there were many outside pleasures, and Janice, in a happier
mood this time, remarked that school really did interfere with
the real business of life--such as the picnics that the beautiful
spring days made so thoroughly pleasurable.
"Dear me, I'd like to go to a picnic every day," she sighed
happily to Amy one Saturday afternoon, after jolly hours spent
with the boys and girls of her circle of closest friends in the
woods, now white with dogwood.
Some of the girls were going away for a part of the summer
vacation. But Janice would not admit that she even contemplated
such a change.
Stella Latham was one of those who expected to migrate. She was
going to some relatives who had a summer place on the shore of
one of the Great Lakes, and she talked a good deal about it.
But she did not talk to Janice. All she said in the latter's
hearing was something that only puzzled and annoyed Daddy's
daughter. "I guess if somebody who thinks she is so smart only
knew what I know about that Swedish girl, Olga, she'd give her
very eyes to have me tell her--so now!"
"I don't even know what she means," confessed Janice, wearily, to
"She just means to be mean--that's all!" said the practical Amy.
CHAPTER XXII. SOMETHING DOES HAPPEN
"I hope something will happen so I can't go to Poketown," was the
thought continually rising to the surface of the troubled pool of
Janice Day's mind.
She did not know what Mrs. Carringford had said to daddy, nor how
much he had been influenced by that wise woman's observations
regarding this very matter. So, as the days went by, Janice
continued to fear the worst.
For the very worst that could happen, Janice thought, was for her
to be separated from her father and from her home. When the
possibility of his having to go to Mexico was first talked about,
the thought of their separation had made a very deep impression
on the girl's mind. She had never recovered--how could she?
--from the going away of her mother. If her father went out of
her life too, it seemed to Janice as though she would be an
So, without knowing anything personally about her Aunt Almira or
Uncle Jason or Marty, her cousin, the girl felt that their
association could in no way replace that of daddy.
"I just wish something would happen so that I couldn't go to
Poketown," was repeated over and over in her thought.
"Perhaps that is wicked," Janice told herself. "But wicked, or
not, it does seem as though it would just kill me to leave home."
After Mrs. Carringford had finished cleaning house, the home
seemed so much better and brighter that Janice loved it more than
ever. She did not want to leave Eight Hundred and Forty-five
Knight Street, even for a day.
"I don't care if Arlo Junior does toll cats into our back kitchen
and we entertain dancing bears and that half-crazy Delia and
folks like Mrs. Watkins or Olga Cedarstrom," she said to daddy.
"This is just the nicest house in all the world. Don't you think
so yourself, Daddy?"
"I never expect to have so much happiness in another house as I
have had in this one, my dear," Mr. Day said. "And we will hope
for more happiness here in the future. But my little girl must
not try to do everything. It is all right to be a homemaker; but
you must not try to do it all yourself. We must find somebody to
Secretly Janice was urging Mrs. Carringford to come every day to
the house and keep it in that "neat as a new pin" condition in
which the sweet-natured woman had left it when the extra cleaning
"But my dear child, how will my own house get along without me?
Amy cannot do it all, even if it is vacation-time."
"But, dear Mrs. Carringford, just think!" begged Janice. "Kate
and Sydney are both big enough to help Amy."
"And they are a team!" sighed Mrs. Carringford.
"They'll be good. They will do a good deal for me," said Janice
"You bribe the twins."
"Oh, they are only teeny, weeny bribes, and of course children
expect pay when they do things for you. Look how eagerly Gummy
works for his pay," for Gummy was working every day for Mr.
Harriman now, and his wages had been doubled.
"Don't let him hear you catalogue him as a child," said the boy's
mother, smiling. "I must do nothing to neglect my own brood.
Yet I feel that I must earn money. Gummy's wages will not even
feed us. And it will last only until September. He must go back
to school again then."
"Then come and see daddy," urged Janice. "You know he'll be more
than glad to have you. Why, it would be just heavenly for us.
"I must think about it," said the over-urged woman. "If I could
get work in a store downtown I would have more regular hours
perhaps. For a home cannot be kept on an eight-hour-a-day
But Janice hoped. To do something to bring about peace and
comfort for daddy and herself had been her determination for
weeks. If only Mrs. Carringford could be coaxed to agree, Janice
foresaw plain sailing.
This had been her hope ever since she had seen how perfectly
Amy's mother kept her own poor cottage. It had been her hope
when she had first brought Mrs. Carringford and Mr. Day together.
But would her hope come to fruition?
Nevertheless, she was happier now that she did not have to go to
school. She had time to work out of doors in the flowerbeds and
to get dainty little suppers, sometimes, for daddy.
Yet, at other times she was very tired. She showed daddy a
cheerful countenance almost always. But there were occasions
when Janice Day felt anything but cheerful "inside," as she
Somehow daddy seemed to guess, however, when she was not quite
herself during these sultry days, for often at breakfast he said:
"Daughter, dress yourself in your best bib and tucker and meet me
at the corner of Joyce Street at four-thirty. I'll be on the
Maplewood car and will save a seat for you. We will go out to
the Branch Inn for supper."
Such excursions delighted Janice, especially with daddy. It made
her feel positively grown up to be taken about by such a
well-groomed and handsome man as Broxton Day.
And almost everywhere they went people seemed to know daddy.
Even the managers and waiters at the inns and restaurants knew
him, for Mr. Day often attended business conferences and
luncheons with the bank's customers, at these places.
Sometimes very well dressed men came and sat down at their table
and talked business with Broxton Day. They were always very kind
and polite to Janice.
But whenever she heard Mexico and the Mexican mines mentioned,
the girl was worried and listened attentively. She knew that
those properties down beyond the Rio Grande in which her father
was interested so deeply, were still in a very uncertain state.
As yet dividends from her father's investment, she knew, had been
She thought daddy watched her very closely at times. His keen
glance seemed almost like that of a person "lying in wait" for
one. That was the way Janice expressed it to herself.
She did not understand what these looks meant. Did he doubt that
she was really quite as cheerful and happy as she would appear?
On her own part, after she had gone to bed, Janice Day listened
often for his step, to and fro, hour after hour, on the
honeysuckle-sheltered porch. Was he thinking about the lost
letters? Would neither he nor his daughter ever be able to get
over--to forget-- the mementoes of dear mother, and their
disappearance with Olga Cedarstrom?
Janice often cried herself to sleep thinking of this loss. But
she cried quietly so that daddy should not hear her; and she was
always very careful in the morning to remove all traces of tears
or sleeplessness before appearing in his presence at the
"What's been done to-day, daughter?" was often daddy's question
at night, accompanied by one of his keenly interrogating glances.
When she catalogued the day's industries sometimes he shook his
"But where is the fun? When do you play? What have you been
doing to celebrate your freedom from the scholastic yoke?" he
"We-ell, you know, Daddy, I can't be a gadabout all the time--and
with Miss Peckham watching me from behind her blinds every time I
go out," and she giggled.
"Miss Peckham be eternally-- Hem! I don't suppose I can use
strong language in regard to the lady who has washed her hands of
us, can I?"
"Not very strong language, Daddy," she rejoined, laughing aloud
"Well, in that case, we'll merely ignore our neighbor. That means
you, too, Janice; and you must play a little more in spite of
"But, Daddy, I do play, as you call it. There was the picnic in
Emmon's Woods, and the straw ride to Clewitt--"
"And the picnic on the Latham farm to which I found you did not
go," interrupted daddy. "How about that, daughter?"
"Oh--oh--well, you know, Daddy, I--I--"
"What's all this stammering about, honey," asked daddy, putting
his arm about his daughter.
"Daddy, Amy and I just couldn't go to that picnic. Of course, it
was not given by Stella, but by all the boys and girls of our
crowd, but it was on Stella's farm. And-- Well, Daddy, Stella
doesn't really like Amy and me just now. It's nothing--just
about that dress Amy wore to Stella's party. I told you all
about that. Stella promised not to tell, you know, and then she
did. I'm not mad at Stella--I was, though, for a while--but
she's still mad at me. She'll be all right in a little while,
"I trust so, daughter. Do your best to make friends again. You
will all be happier if you are on a friendly footing with your
These first days of the long vacation were not really happy ones
for Janice, although she tried to make believe they were. All
the time she was hoping to herself that daddy would not insist on
her visiting his relatives in the East.
He had not really said that he contemplated sending her
willy-nilly, to Aunt Almira. Yet the girl felt that daddy
believed her health called for a change. And that was not what
she needed. She was sure that the air of Poketown would never in
this world make her feel any happier or healthier than she felt
right here at home in Greensboro.
"I just hope something will happen to keep me from going to
Poketown--or anywhere else," Janice repeated, over and over
And then, it did happen. Nothing that she had imagined, of
And this happening shocked Janice Day almost as much as anything
could. It came in the afternoon, when she was getting dinner for
daddy. She heard the clang of a gong, and an automobile stopped
before the house. She ran to the window. It was a white painted
ambulance-- not from the City Hospital, but a private ambulance.
And two men in white uniforms were preparing to take somebody on
a stretcher out of the car.
CHAPTER XXIII. THE SILVER LINING TO A VERY BLACK CLOUD
Janice dropped the mixing spoon and the dishcloth and ran out
upon the side porch, and from thence down the steps and the walk
to the gate. Her heart beat so that she could scarcely get her
The white uniformed men were drawing the stretcher out of the
ambulance, and Janice, horrified and all but breathless, suddenly
saw her father sitting up on the stretcher.
"Don't be scared, Janice. Be a brave girl," he cried. "It is
only my leg."
"But--but what have they done to your leg, Daddy?" she cried,
wringing her hands.
One of the uniformed men laughed. It was a cheerful laugh, and
he was a jolly looking man. But Janice thought it was very easy
indeed for him to laugh.
"It isn't his leg--or any of his relations" she thought.
"I tell you what they have done to him," he said, taking hold of
both handles at the foot of the stretcher. "They have just set a
compound fracture below the knee and put it into splints. Your
daddy is going to have a glass leg for some time to come, and you
must take good care of it. Where shall we carry him?"
While he spoke and the other man was taking hold of the other
handles of the stretcher, Mr. Day lay down again. He did not
groan, but he was very white. He gave Janice's hand a strong
grip, however, when she got to him.
"Pluck up your courage, dear," he said. "This is no killing
But now neighbors began to hurry to them. Children, of course,
for Knight Street was well supplied with them. But Mrs. Arlo
Weeks and Mrs. Peckinpaw came from across the street, while Miss
Peckham appeared from her cottage.
"Dear me! Was he picked up that way?" asked Mrs. Weeks, in her
high, strident tone. "My Arlo had a fit once--"
"Tain't a fit," said Mrs. Peckinpaw, who was a very old woman and
who never spoke to Miss Peckham because of some neighborhood
squabble which had happened so long before that neither of them
remembered what it was about.
"Tain't a fit," she said acidly; "for then they foam at the
mouth, or drool. I never knew he had anything the matter with
The jolly looking man laughed. Miss Peckham on the other side of
the stretcher, and without looking at the other women, asked:
"Oughtn't he be took to the hospital? There's nobody here to
take care of him but that fly-away young one."
"I won't have him taken to a hospital!" cried Janice stormily.
"You bring him right into the house--"
"Well, 'tain't fittin'," said Miss Peckham decidedly.
"I guess both Mr. Day and his daughter know what they want," said
the cheerful looking man, decidedly. "He wanted to be brought
home. Now, my little lady, where shall we put him? All ready,
"All ready," said Bill, who had the handles at the head of the
"But what's the matter with him?" demanded Mrs. Peckinpaw again.
"Is it ketchin'?"
"He has a compound fracture of the tibia," declared the cheerful
"Oh! My mercy!" ejaculated Mrs. Peckinpaw, shrinking away from
the stretcher. "I--I didn't kmow Mr. Day drank!"
She had evidently heard alcoholism called by so many queer
sounding terms that anything she not understand she set down to
that dread trouble. But Miss Peckham had run ahead into the
"Take him right up to his bedroom," she said commandingly to the
men with the stretcher.
"Well, if that woman's goin' to take hold, they don't need me,"
said Mrs. Peckinpaw, snappishly, and she retained her stand upon
the strictly neutral ground of the sidewalk.
Mrs. Arlo Weeks was "all of a quiver," as she herself said. She
followed the men as far as the steps and there sank to a seat.
"My, my! I feel just like fainting," she murmured.
Meanwhile the two uniformed men were carrying Mr. Day into the
"Right up here!" cried Miss Peckham from the stairway.
"No," said Mr. Day, "put me on the couch in the living room. Fix
At this Janice awoke from her apathy. She rushed in ahead and
fixed the pillows on the couch, and got a warm cover to put over
"I'm to be laid up some weeks," Mr. Day said courageously. "I
don't want to be put upstairs where I don't know a thing about
what's going on in the house. I'll stay downstairs."
"That couch ought to be made up like a bed for you, Mr. Day,"
said the cheerful man, as Janice dropped down the back which made
it into a bed-lounge.
"Do that later," said Mr. Day. "Here! Where's Mrs. Weeks?"
Janice ran to call her. Miss Peckham was descending the stairs,
her nose in the air. She seemed offended that she could not rule
"Mrs. Weeks," said Janice to the woman from across the street,
"will you come in? Father wants to speak to you."
"I--I don't know as my legs will carry me," sighed Mrs. Weeks.
"Have they put him to bed? Has he got his clo'es off?"
"He just wishes to speak to you," explained Janice. "Right in
She led the way into the living room. Miss Peckham was still
"sniffing" in the doorway. The two ambulance men were preparing
"When Arlo Weeks comes home from business, tell him I want to see
him," said Mr. Day to the woman. "He'll help me off with my
clothes and get me into bed here. I shall be all right."
He spoke quite cheerfully now, and even Janice was recovering her
"Oh, well, I'll telI him," murmured Mrs. Weeks. "I'm sick o'
shock, myself. But we have to sacrifice when our neighbors needs
us. Yes, Mr. Day, I'll send Arlo over."
She trailed out after the two men. Mrs. Peckham sniffed after
"Well," the spinster said, "I can make him some broth. He'll need
nourishing victuals. And he ain't been gettin' anything of late,
I guess, but what that child's messed up."
She departed kitchenward. Janice and daddy looked at each other
hopelessly. Then together, and in chorus, they murmured:
"But I thought she had washed her hands of us!"
"I don't want broth," grumbled Broxton Day, after a minute. "I
want my dinner. What have you got that's good, Janice?"
"Stew--lamb stew. Nice," she groaned. "And plenty of vegetables
like you like."
"'Like you like' is almost as good as the stew will be," chuckled
her father faintly. "We must get that woman out of the house,
Janice. She will be an Old Man of the Sea."
"No, no!" giggled the girl. "An 'Old Maid of the Sea,' you
"Maybe I do. But how to get rid of her--"
"I know! Wait!" Janice dashed out of the room and out of the
house. A crowd of children was still at the gate.
"Arlo Junior!" she called into the dusk, "Come here! I want you."
"You want my pa. He ain't home yet," said Junior, drawing near
"I want you to do an errand for me," said Janice hastily. "Come
here--close. I'll tell you. Your mother won't mind."
"All right," said Junior, offering an attentive ear.
"You know where Gummy Carringford lives?"
"Course I do."
"Well, you run there, and see his mother; and you tell her--"
Janice in whispers told the boy just what to say to Mrs.
Carringford, and he repeated it before he darted off on the
errand. Arlo Junior was a great boy to play tricks, but he would
not play them at such a time as this.
Janice went back to her father's side and left Miss Peckham, whom
she heard moving about the kitchen, strictly alone. Daddy told
her all about the accident.
It seemed, when he came down the stairs from the Chamber of
Commerce, where he had gone on an errand, a scrubwoman had left a
cake of soap on the next to the top step."
"Of course, it was just my luck to find it for her," said Broxton
Day, with rather a grim laugh. "Maybe she wanted that soap. But
I did not. I kicked right up, Janice, and it is a wonder I did
not break my back as well as my leg."
"I landed so hard at the bottom of the flight that I was
unconscious for a few minutes. Luckily Dr. Bowles, the surgeon,
has offices in that very building. They picked me up and carried
me to him and he fixed up the leg. It will be as good as new, he
says, after a while."
"Oh, dear, Daddy! you might have been killed," cried Janice,
"Well, it's all over now--but the shouting," muttered Mr. Day,
his face suddenly contorted with pain. "Don't fuss, my dear.
This is something that can be mended, I am sure. Don't give way
"Oh, but, Daddy! I know! I know!" sobbed the girl, hiding her
face in his shoulder. "But something did happen--and I--I wished
"Wished for me to break my leg?" gasped daddy.
"Oh, no! Oh, no! But I wished something would happen so that I
would not have to go to live at Poketown this summer.
"Quite true, my dear," said Mr. Day, after a moment's silence.
"You got your wish. But as usual, you did not get it just as you
wished it. Still, the very blackest cloud has its silver
Janice could not imagine a silver lining to this cloud --not just
at that moment. She only realized that daddy was suffering from
an accident that it did seem her wish had brought to him. It was
a very serious and disturbing thought for the girl
Janice did not want to go out into the kitchen to see what Miss
Peckham was about. She had left the tender breast and shoulder
of lamb for the stew simmering on the back of the stove, and the
vegetables were all ready to put in it. What the spinster would
do toward making broth Janice did not know. And daddy did not
Just now, however, the girl felt too much disturbed to entertain
an argument with Miss Martha Peckham. Things would have to go on
as they would, until--
Suddenly Janice heard voices in the kitchen-- Miss Peckham's
high-pitched voice and another. Janice saw that her father was
quiet and did not notice, so she got up from his side and stole
to the kitchen door to listen.
"Well, ma'am? exclaimed Miss Peckham, don't see as it's any more
of your business than 'tis mine. I'm makin' this gruel--"
"And I will finish preparing the dinner, if you do not mind, Miss
Peckham," said the soft voice Mrs. Carringford. "I see that
Janice has it almost ready. Do you think, Miss Peckham, that a
man with a broken leg needs gruel?"
"Well, I couldn't find nothing to make broth out of--"
"Or broth?" pursued Mrs. Carringford. "I know Mr. Day's
appetite, and I do not believe that broken leg
has made it any the less hearty."
"Seems to me you know a good deal!" snapped Miss Peckham.
"Specially about this kitchen."
"You know, I have been working here for some time," Mrs.
Carringford said. "Thank you, Miss Peckham. You need not stay.
If there is anything we need you for, I will let you know.
The spinster banged out at the kitchen door without even coming
into the front part of the house.
"Not even to 'wash her hands of us' again!" giggled Janice, who
ran out into the kitchen with a cry of joy.
"Oh, Mrs. Carringford!" she said, throwing her arms about the
woman's neck, "have you really come to stay?"
"I guess I shall have to, my dear. Daytimes, anyway," said Amy's
mother, kissing her. "You'd soon go to rack and ruin here with
the neighbors coming in and littering everything up. Yes, tell
your father I will accept the offer he made me. And now, we'll
have dinner just as soon as possible. How is he?"
"He says he is all right," gasped Janice, catching her breath.
"And he says there is always a silver lining to the very blackest
cloud. Now I know he's right. You are the silver lining to this
cloud, Mrs. Carringford--you really, truly are!"
CHAPTER XXIV. "WHERE THERE'S SMOKE THERE'S FIRE."
If it had not been for Mrs. Carringford's presence in the house,
this experience certainly would have been a very hard one for
Janice Day. For although the trials of housekeeping had been
serious for the young girl, they were not all that had so vexed
her and weighted her mind with sorrow.
But her father's injury shocked her out of the mental rut which
she had been following. She had to wait on him, hand and foot;
and it gave her so many new thoughts and new things to do, that
for a time at least Janice Day's old troubles were pretty much
They had managed to make Mr. Day comfortable on the living-room
couch, and it was easier to care for him there than it would have
been were he in his bedroom. Besides, he very much objected to
"being invalided to the upper story" while he was tied down with
a broken leg.
Mr. Arlo Weeks came in night and morning to help turn the injured
man, and remake his bed. Mr. Weeks was, after all, a good
neighbor; he was more helpful than anybody else who came to the
Day house, save Mrs. Carringford.
The surgeon came now and then to restrap the broken leg. Some of
Mr. Day's business associates called to see how he was getting
on. The injured man was not hard to take care of. He could
read, propped up on the couch, and although he suffered
considerable pain he did not allow Janice to discover that he was
But at first he did net sleep well at night, and he had some
fever. Mrs. Carringford was careful in his diet; and she never
seemed to contradict him or to thwart his wishes. She had a way
with her that Janice could but admire and pattern after.
The girl saw that even daddy was not quite his very sensible self
when he was an invalid. He had to be humored at times; and they
did all that was possible to keep him from fretting.
Broxton Day had been a very active man. Business affairs of
which he had sole charge were bound to go wrong when he could not
wield power as he was wont. And these things all bothered him
when the nagging pain of the broken leg increased, as it
sometimes did, at night.
"Oh, what should I have done without you, Mrs. Carringford?"
breathed Janice, often taking comfort in the kindly woman's arms
for a momentary hug. I do think Amy and Gummy and the little
ones are awfully nice not to make any more objection than they do
to your being up here."
"Oh, they quarrel enough with me about it at times," laughed Mrs.
Carringford. "But I tell them if it was not here, it would have
to be somewhere else. I have got to work, my dear. I can see
that plainly. Every day the appetites of my little family
increase and their needs grow. The rate at which Kate and Edna
May and Syd wear out shoes-- Well!"
"Let them go barefooted," giggled Janice. "I know they are
teasing you all the time about it"
"No!" cried Mrs. Carringford, with warmth. "I know we live in
Mullen Lane and it is not always possible for me to dress my
children as nicely as I wish; but they shall not run barefoot
like the little hoodlums that live about us. And Syd bothers me
to death about it."
But Janice could only laugh a bit at this. She herself sometimes
ran barefooted around the house and yard, though she was growing
too big for that now, and she did not blame the little
Carringfords for wanting to do so.
At any rate, she was very, very grateful to Mrs. Carringford for
stepping into the breach at this time and helping them--and
grateful to Amy and Gummy, as well.
Amy was a smart little housewife, and she had a gentle but firm
way with the smaller children that kept them well in hand when
their mother was out of the way.
Gummy, driving Mr. Harriman's delivery wagon, was at the Day
house once or twice a day to see his mother, and of course Mrs.
Carringford was always at home by seven or eight o'clock at
night. The Days had set forward their dinner hour while Mr. Day
was held in the house.
Janice would not sleep upstairs herself at first, while her
father so often needed her. She made up a bed on another couch
that was drawn in from the dining room, and slept there. Often
in the night daddy grew restless and was thankful for a glass of
fresh water or for some other small comfort.
There was one night Janice knew she should never forget, no
matter to what age she lived. It was soon after her father was
brought home "an invalid," as he laughingly called it. He had
been in much pain all day, and Janice new it well enough,
although he smothered his groans when she was within hearing.
But he could not smother his mutterings at night. Toward dark he
grew feverish and very restless. And when one has a "glass leg,"
as the ambulance man had called it and cannot twist and toss to
relieve that restless feeling, one's situation is, indeed,
Janice put out the living-room light early. The light only made
the night flying insects buzz and blunder at the window screens.
And how is it that moth millers will get into the most closely
screened house? This was a vexing mystery to Janice.
After it was dark and the insects went to buzz elsewhere daddy
dropped to sleep. Janice had been upstairs to remove her
clothing, and had come down again with a thin negligee over her
She listened to her father's uneven breathing and to his restless
murmurs. Before creeping into her own cot across the room, she
went softly to daddy's side and knelt on the floor. His face was
flushed and his thick hair wet with perspiration. The barber had
not been to shave him for two days, and Janice just knew the
"prickles" on his face must feed very uncomfortable.
His head rolled from side to side upon the pillow. She wished
she could do something to relieve him. She did not want to wake
him up; but if she could only lave his face and hands with cool
Suddenly his mutterings became intelligible. Janice was held
there on her knees--absorbed and almost breathless.
The name was uttered so passionately--so reverently --that
Janice found the tears spring unbidden to her eyes. Daddy had
spoken her dead mother's name in his sleep. Indeed, it seemed as
though he called to the loved one who had gone from them never to
"Daddy!" breathed the girl. "It's me, not mamma! I-- I'm all
that's left to you!"
He seemed, even in his sleep, to have heard Janice's murmured
"All that was left to me," Broxton Day sighed, repeating, as
Janice thought, what she had said. Or did he repeat Janice's
words? "Your dear thoughts-- and gone! gone! If I could only
find them again. The box--Olga." His mutterings trailed off into
unrecognizable delirium. He muttered, and his inflamed face
moved from side to side upon the pillow. He did not know her at
all this heartsick, sobbing little daughter!
For Janice could understand at last what went on in his poor,
troubled brain. He was dreaming of the packet of letters--the
letters that were so precious to Broxton Day. In the secret
compartment of the lost treasure-box. In the fever of the man's
brain nothing else seemed so important to him as his lost wife's
Of course, all of Janice Day's school friends did not go away
from Greensboro for the summer vacation; or, if they did go away
for a little visit, they were soon back again.
And when the girls heard that Janice's father had broken his leg
and that Janice was tied to the house with him, they began to
come to see her, and inquire about daddy, and cheer her up.
None of them realized that, with Mrs. Carringford at the head of
housekeeping affairs, Janice had not felt so free and cheerful
for some months as she did at this time.
Daddy soon grew better, and he began to sleep peacefully at
night. The surgeon, Dr. Bowles, who came occasionally, said the
bones were knitting all right. Mr. Weeks and Janice even got the
patient up into a wheel chair which had an arrangement that made
it possible for the broken leg to rest stiffly before daddy, and
he could wheel himself out on the front
There was just the one thing to trouble the girl; that was the
mystery of the lost treasure-box and the secret sorrow she felt
because she had been careless with it. Without her carelessness,
she told herself, Olga Cedarstrom would never have taken it out
of the house --if that was really how the keepsakes had come to
It was Bertha Warring who chanced, when she first came to see
Janice after her return from an exciting trip to Chicago, to
mention that girl, Olga. At least she spoke of the "Olga" who
had been at the Latham house and had broken Mrs. Lantham's glass
dish the night of Stella's party.
"I meant to speak to you about what Stella said, Bertha remarked,
"before I went away. But we went in such a hurry. You know,
Stella can be awfully mean."
"Why, she's not always nice," admitted Janice whose opinion of
the farmer's daughter had changed a good deal during the past few
"I must say you let Stella down easy when you say that," laughed
"Oh, she gets mad, and says mean things. But I don't think--"
"Now, stop it, Janice Day!" exclaimed the other girl "You know
very wall that Stella is just as mean as a girl can be. See how
she spoke of Amy Carringford. And Amy is an awfully nice girl."
"Yes, Amy is nice," admitted Janice, happily.
"Well, now, look here," said Bertha, earnestly. "Stella said
something you did not hear once about that Swedish girl."
"Oh, I guess I am not particularly interested in that girl,"
Janice said slowly. "My father asked the Johnsons about her.
You know that girl was staying with them at the time of the
party. She ran away, I guess, because she was afraid Mrs. Latham
would make trouble about the broken dish. But the Johnsons said
her name was not Cedarstrom."
"Mercy, what a name!" laughed Bertha. "Just the same, there is
something about that girl that Stella knows, and that she said
you would give a good deal to know."
"Why, I can't imagine--"
"That's just it," said Bertha, quickly. "It sounded so
mysterious. I ought to have told you about it there and then.
But you know how jumbled up everything was, just the last days of
"That is so," admitted the puzzled Janice.
"But, you know, Stella and I went away on the same train
"No! Did you?"
"Yes. She changed cars before we got to Chicago; but she sat in
the chair car with me for a long way. And I pumped her about
what she meant when she spoke the way she did regarding that
"Why, she giggled, and made fun, and wouldn't say anything much
at first. But I hammered at her," said Bertha, "until I got her
mad. You know Stella loses her temper and then--well, it's all
off!" and Bertha laughed gaily.
"Oh, Bert!" admonished Janice warmly, "I don't think we ought to
get her mad."
"Oh, she'll get glad again," said Bertha carelessly. "Don't worry
about Stella, Miss Fussbudget."
Janice laughed then, herself. She did not mind Bertha Warring's
"Well, as I was saying, I got her finally to say something more
about that Olga. And what do you suppose she did say?"
"I could not guess," said the wondering Janice.
"Why, that it was very true her name was not Cedarstrom now.
That is just the way she said it before she got up and flounced
out of the car." "Oh, Bert!" gasped Janice.
"Do you see? I was some minutes catching on to it," Bertha said,
rather slangily. "But you see, I guess. That girl had been known
as 'Olga Cedarstrom' at some time or other, you mark my word.
And Stella found it out and would not tell you."
"Then she must be married. Of course her name is not Cedarstrom
now," murmured Janice.
"Oh! Is that it? I didn't know but she was a real crook," said
Bertha, "and had what they call an 'alias.'"
"No-o, I don't believe so. The last daddy learned about her over
at Pickletown, some of the Swedish people there thought she must
have gone off to get married. She was going with a young man who
works in one of the pickle factories. His name is Willie
"And what's become of him?" asked the interested Bertha.
"He went away, too."
"They ran off and got married! Of course!" cried the
romance-loving Bertha. "And that Stella Latham found it out and
wouldn't tell you. Maybe your father-- Oh! but he can't go
looking for them now that he has a broken leg, can he?"
"I am afraid not. We'll have to wait. But do you really
suppose, Bert, that Stella is sure of what she says? Perhaps she
doesn't really know for sure about that Olga."
"Where there's so much smoke there must be some fire," Bertha
said, with a laugh, as Janice walked out to the front gate with
her. "I guess Stella knows-- Oh, Janice! Talking about smoke,"
cried Bertha suddenly, looking back at the Day house and up at
the roof, "what is all that smoke coming out of your kitchen
Her startled friend looked in the direction indicated. Out of the
chimney-mouth, and between the bricks, poured a vomit of black
smoke. Then, as the girls looked, red flames darted out with the
smoke-- spouting four or five feet into the air above the top of
CHAPTER XXV. ABEL STROUT AT THE ROOT OF IT
The shock of seeing the chimney on fire did not overcome Janice
Day as much as the thought that daddy was lying down, resting, in
the living room, and that she would never be able to get him up
and into his wheelchair and out of doors before the whole house
was in a blaze.
For those lurid flames darting out of the chimney looked very
terrifying indeed. Bertha Warring ran out into the street,
screaming; but Janice darted back into the house.
Somebody outside screamed. "Fire! Fire!" Janice believed it must
have been Miss Peckham. Little ever got past the sharp eyes of
that neighbor in the next cottage.
Janice heard her father ejaculate some exclamation, but she did
not go to him first. She rushed, instead, to the telephone in
Seizing the receiver, she rattled the hook up and down, hoping to
get a quick response.
"Janice!" she heard her father call.
"Yes, Daddy. I'm coming!" she cried. Then her ear came the
"Central! give me the Fire Department--please!" ejaculated the
"Number, please?" again drawled the unruffled Central.
"Oh, quick! Quick!" cried Janice into the instrument. "Give me
the Fire Department. Our house is on fire!"
"Great heavens!" ejaculated her father from the living room. He
was awake and heard Janice now.
"Do be quick, Central!" cried Janice. "The Fire De--"
"Market, two, three hundred," said Central.
"It's a wonder," thought Janice, even in her present state of
mind, "that she doesn't call 'Information'!"
"Janice! Where is the fire?" called her father.
"It's the chimney. Wait, Daddy! I'll come and help yon. The
kitchen chim-- Oh!"
Somebody on the wire just then said crisply: "Central Fire
Station. What's wanted?"
"Fire!" shouted Janice. "Our house! Eight-forty-five Knight
"I hear you!" exclaimed the man at the other end, and Janice
almost threw the receiver back on the hook, and darted into the
Mrs. Carringford happened to be out. Janice, now that Bertha
Warring had deserted her, was all alone in the house with the
"Oh, Daddy!" she gasped, seeing him already in his chair.
"Give me a push, child. Where is the fire? This is something
new--the first time the Days were ever burned out."
"It's the kitchen chimney. But I can't get you down the front
Meanwhile she was pushing him out on the porch. People were
running toward the house now and many were shouting. But it did
not look like a very helpful crowd.
Just then Janice saw a wagon being driven rather wildly along the
street toward the house. It was not a part of the Fire
Department equipment, although she looked eagerly for that. The
nearest fire station was fully half a mile from the Day house.
The children in the street scattered as the horse's pounding feet
on the macadam warned them of his approach. The driver stood up,
his feet braced against the dashboard, yelling to the horse to
stop as he swung back on the reins.
It was Gummy!
"Hi, Janice! Your chimneys on fire!" he shouted, when he had
stopped the horse.
"Well, for goodness sake!" exclaimed Janice, "doesn't he suppose
we know it, with all this crowd--and noise --and everything?"
Gummy tumbled out of the covered wagon. He came down on all
fours, he was in such a hurry; but he was up again in a moment.
"Hi, Janice! I can put it out, if I can get out on to that ell
roof through that little window up there." he cried.
"That's the hired' girl's room," gasped Janice.
"What's he going to do? Take pails of water out there and throw
them down the chimney?"
"Give the boy a chance," said daddy. "Maybe he can do
something." And to Janice's amazement, her father was smiling.
Gummy ran around to the back of the wagon. He dropped the
tailboard, backed around, and got a bag on his shoulders. With
this he staggered toward the house.
"Oh, Gummy!" screamed Janice, "what have you got in that sack?"
"Salt," replied the boy, panting up the steps. "Half a shushal
of balt. I was takin' it out to Jones's.
"Salt?" gasped Janice, in her excitement not noticing at all that
Gummy had again "gummed up his speech," to quote his own
expression. "Why, what good is salt? That chimney is blazing."
"Salt will do the trick. Show me the way to that window. Salt
will put out a fire in a chimney better than anything else."
"Let him have his way, Janice," said her father quickly.
She thought she heard the gong of some of the fire apparatus
approaching; but she was not sure. She gave Gummy a hand, and
they ran upstairs with the sack of salt between them.
Here was the small room. She flung open the door and Gummy flung
up the lower sash of the window. He almost dived out upon the
tinned roof of the kitchen ell.
"Quick! Give me that salt I" he cried reaching in for it.
Janice helped him lift the bag out of the window. He dragged it
along the roof toward the chimney that now vomited black smoke
and flames in a very threatening volume. Fortunately the light
wind drifted it away from the main part of the house.
"Oh, Gummy, you'll be burned to death--and then what will your
mother say?" cried Janice.
Gummy was so much in earnest that he did not even laugh at this.
He dragged the sack of salt as close to the burning chimney as he
dared. Then he got out his pocketknife and cut the string.
Everybody in the street below was yelling to him by this time,
telling him what to do and how to do it. Gummy gave them little
The smoke choked him and occasionally a tongue of flame seemed to
reach for him. But Gummy Carringford possessed a good deal of
pluck, and he was strong and wary for so young a boy. Shielding
his face as best he could from the heat and smoke, he began to
cast double handfuls of salt into the chimney.
The chimney was fortunately not as high as his head and Gummy
could do this as well as a man. The soot which had gathered in
the chimney (perhaps it had not been cleaned out since the house
was built) was mostly at the bottom, and the flames came from
down there; but the hot bricks would soon set the roof on fire,
if not the walls inside the house.
The salt smothered the fire wherever it landed. It was better
than sand for such a purpose, for salt is damp and seems to
possess smothering qualities all its own when rained upon the
Before half the contents of the bag had been thrown down the
chimney the flames no longer leaped above its top. The smoke
continued to roll up, and Gummy had pretty well smothered it
himself when the Fire Department apparatus came clanging up to
One of the fireman with a portable extinguisher rushed upstairs,
got out at the small window and reached Gummy's side quickly.
"Good boy, kid," he said. "Let's give it the lad," and he began
to squirt the contents of the fire extinguisher down the chimney.
Gummy staggered back and sat down, coughing. His face and hands
were pretty black and he was breathless. When he got back
downstairs and the firemen had declared the conflagration
entirely extinguished, Gummy found himself quite a hero.
The excitement had hurt nobody, after all. Janice was glad Mrs.
Carringford was not there at the time, or she certainly would
have been worried about Gummy.
"You are an awfully smart boy, Gummy," Janice declared, clinging
to the boy's hand. "I won't ever make fun of you again when you
get mixed up in talking."
Mr. Day overheard this and laughed heartily. He too, shook Gummy
cordially by the hand.
"You have a head on you, son," he said. "How came you to think
about the salt?"
"I saw a chimney on fire in the country once, and they put it out
with salt," the boy replied. "I've got to hurry back to the
store and get more salt for the Jones's now. I guess Mr.
Harriman will be mad."
"Oh, no he won't. I'll call him up on the telephone and tell him
to put this sack on my account. He won't scold you, I am sure,"
said Mr. Day.
In fact, everybody who heard about the matter praised Gummy
Carringford. They began to say "that boy with the funny name is
considerable of a boy," and things like that. Mr. Day gave him a
little money, although Gummy did not want to take that.
"You treat your little brothers and sisters with it, Janice's
father said laughing. "They didn't have the fun of seeing you
put out the fire."
"We-ell," said the thoughtful boy, "I'll see what Momsy says
about it first."
When Mrs. Carringford returned to the house Mr. Day himself told
her of the fire and of what Gummy had done, and how proud she
should be of him, too. And Mrs. Carringford was proud--Mr. Day
could see that.
"Boys are awfully nice to have around the house, aren't they,
Daddy?" Janice said that evening as they sat alone. "I never did
think before that I'd care to have a brother. You see, you are
just like a brother to me, Daddy."
"I see," said Daddy, chuckling. "When it comes to chimney fires
and such excitement, a boy comes in handy, is that it?"
"Why--ye-es, Berta Warring ran away, crying, and I couldn't do
much but squeal myself," said Janice gravely.
"And telephone for the Fire Department, and help me out, and aid
Gummy to carry up the salt, and--"
"Oh, but, Daddy, those are all such little things!" sighed
Janice thought things were going pretty well after that. They
were so glad to have their house saved from destruction, and so
proud of Gummy, that everybody seemed all right. But there was
trouble coming, and one afternoon Amy brought it to the Day
Amy, in tears, came to see her mother. Janice chanced to be in
the kitchen when she entered from the Love Street gate. Amy had
in tow a curly-haired dapper little man who looked too oily to be
honest, and with little gimlet eyes that seemed to bore right
"Oh, Mother!" gasped Amy, "this--this man's come to take our
house away from us!"
"What is this now?" exclaimed Mrs. Carringford, in as much
surprise as fear.
"Yes, he has. He said so. He's got papers, and all," sobbed
"Ahem! the young lady puts it very crassly indeed," said the
curly-haired man. "You, I presume, are Mrs. Josephine
Carringford," he went on, reading from a paper.
"I am serving you in the suit of Mrs. Alice G. Blayne, of
Croydon, Michigan, my client, to recover a certain parcel of
property situated on Mullen Lane and now occupied by you and your
family, Mrs. Carringford," said the man glibly, and thrusting a
paper into the woman's hand.
"But I bought my home through Mr. Abel Strout, of Napsburg,"
gasped Mrs. Carringford. She did not recognize Jamison, the farm
hand, in the transaction at all. She now felt that man was but
Abel Strout's tool.
"Oh! As to that, I have nothing to say," said the curly-haired
lawyer, smiling in a way Janice did not like at all. "I merely
represent my client. The property has been claimed by several
people, I believe, and may have been sold a dozen times. That
will not invalidate my client's claim."
"But I never even heard of this Mrs, Blayne," murmured Amy's
"A poor widow, ma'am," said the lawyer blandly. "And one who can
ill afford to lose her rights. She as heir of old Peter
Warburton Blayne who lived in that house where you now reside for
a great many years. He died. His heirs were not informed. The
place was sold for taxes--for a nominal sum, ma'am. Of course, a
tax-deed has no standing in court if the real owner of the
property comes forward ready to pay the back taxes, accrued
interest, and the fixed court charges."
"But I got a warranty deed!" cried Mrs. Carringford.
"That is a matter between you and the person you say you bought
the house of," said the lawyer calmly. "If you consider that you
have a case against him you will have to go to court with him.
Ahem! An expensive matter, my dear madam, I assure you.
Probably the man who sold to you had every reason to believe he
had a clear title. It has passed through several hands since
Peter Blayne died, as I say.
"I cannot advise you as to that, ma'am," pursued the lawyer.
"Those papers are in regard to this suit that is already entered
against you. Of course, it would be cheaper for you to settle
the case out of court; but you will probably want to fight us.
Most women do."
At this point Janice got to her feet and ran out of the room.
She rushed in to where her father was writing on a lapboard
across the arms of his chair.
Meanwhile Mrs. Carringford and Amy were clinging together and
facing the dapper, voluble, little lawyer in the kitchen. Amy
was sobbing excitedly; but her mother said firmly:
"Abel Strout is at the root of this--"
"I assure you," said the lawyer politely, "my client is Mrs.
Blayne. I have nothing to do with Abel Strout."
"He is at the root of it, nevertheless," said Mrs. Carringford
confidently. "I saw it in his eye when he was last in my house.
He means to turn me and my children out, and ruin us!"
CHAPTER XXVI. THE CLOUDS LOWER
Janice was so excited she could scarcely speak intelligibly for a
minute. But finally she made her father understand what was
going on in the kitchen.
"And he's come to take their house right away from them,"
concluded the girl. "He's given her a paper, and she's got to
give him the house--and everything!"
"Oh, no; not so bad as all that," said daddy, soothingly.
"Things aren't done in just that way-- not even by shyster
lawyers. This is just a notice of suit he has given her. But
you run, Janice, and tell them to come in here. I will hear what
this man has to say."
So Janice ran back to the kitchen. She held the door open, and,
with rather a commanding air for so young a girl, looking
straight at the curly-haired man:
"You and Mrs. Carringford come into the living room. My father
wants to see you."
"Hey?" said the man. "Who is this?"
"Mr. Broxton Day," said Mrs. Carringford, quietly. "I think we
had better see Mr. Day before we go any farther in this matter."
"Oh, I have no interest in seeing anybody else, ma'am," said the
lawyer hastily. "Of course, you can take advice if you wish to.
Every move you make, however, will cost you money, as you'll
find. It will be throwing good money after bad money, I assure
"Now if you feel like settling the matter out of court--"
"We will go in, and you can say all that before Mr. Day," said
Mrs. Carringford firmly. "It seems to me I shall understand it
better in front of him."
"Daddy is waiting for you," said Janice urgently. "He has a
broken leg so he can't come here to get you," she added looking
at the lawyer significantly.
Maybe the fact of this assurance--that Broxton Day was
practically helpless physically--led the lawyer to take a chance
in the living room. But he was manifestly very ill at ease from
the moment he heard Mr. Day's name mentioned.
"Will you oblige me with your name, sir?" said daddy in his
The curly-haired man fumbled for a card and finally handed one to
"'Mr. Jonas Schrimpe,'" repeated daddy. "Are you practising at
the bar here in Greensboro?" "My office is in Napsburg, Mr. Day.
Three Forty-two Main Street."
"Ah! Are you acquainted with Mr. Abel Strout?"
"I have nothing to do with Mr. Strout," said the man, rather
sharply. "I have already told the lady that. My client is Mrs.
"I understand," said Mr. Day suavely. "I merely asked you a
question, Mr. Schrimpe. Do you know Mr. Strout?"
"Well--I know him by sight."
"Naturally. As I chance to remember his office is in the same
building on Main Street as your own. I remember the number,"
said Mr. Day smiling. "Three Hundred and Forty-two Main Street."
Mr. Schrimpe fidgeted and turned very red in the face. Mr. Day
went on quietly:
"Is this client of yours in Napsburg?"
"She lives in Croydon, Michigan."
"In Michigan! How came she to pick out you Mr. Schrimpe, for an
attorney in this matter? Forgive the question; I am curious."
"Why--I--I was recommended to her."
"Ah! By a friend, I suppose."
"She--she heard of me down here, and wanted to put the case in a
lawyer's hands on the spot."
"'On the spot,'" repeated Mr. Day. "Why not in some lawyer's
hands in Greensboro, rather than Napsburg?"
Mr. Schrimpe seemed very confused, as well as angry; but he did
not dare to assert himself. Mr. Day held out his hand for the
paper the lawyer had given to Mrs. Carringford.
"Just leave it to me, Mrs. Carringford," he said confidently. "I
know just what to do. Possibly had I not broken my leg I would
have been able to warn you of this."
"Then that Abel Strout is at the root of it, just as I said," she
"Not a doubt of it," replied Mr. Day. "That John Jamison was but
"I assure you," began the red-faced lawyer, but Mr. Day
"Your assurances would not be accepted before this court, I am
afraid, Mr.--ah Schrimpe. Now would you mind, as you are in
town, calling upon Mrs. Carringford's legal adviser in regard to
"Oh, Mr. Day!" interjected Mrs. Carringford, "a lawyer's services
cost so much."
"This man is my own lawyer," said Mr. Day promptly. "I assure
you that he will look into this suit without charging you much,
Mrs. Carringford. If Mr. Schrimpe--"
"Oh, if it's not out of my way as I go back to the railroad
station," growled the curly haired man.
"Not at all. It is over the bank--the Farmers and Merchants
Bank. Mr. Randolph E. Payne is the gentleman."
"Great Scott!" gasped Mr. Schrimpe, actually appearing to
shrivel, "Mr. Payne?"
"Yes. He is known to you?"
"Everybody knows Mr. Payne."
"He is well known. As good a lawyer, I believe, as we have in
this part of the State. You do not mind meeting him?"
"Er--will he see me, Mr. Day?"
"I will telephone to him at once. I assure you he will give you
a hearing--and thank you. Good day, Mr. Schrimpe."
Although daddy could not leave his chair, Janice saw that he had
a way of getting rid of visitors promptly when he wanted them to
go. Mr. Schrimpe scuttled out in a hurry.
"Wheel me to the telephone, Janice," said Mr. Day cheerfully. "I
hope Payne frightens that little shrimp out of a year's growth.
If ever I saw a shyster lawyer, I saw one when that fellow came
into the room."
"Oh, Mr. Day! but this suit? That summons? What shall I do?"
"Do nothing yet! assure you, Mrs. Carringford, you will have one
of the best lawyers in the State to tell you what to do when the
times comes. Of course, if the matter comes to court, you will
have to go into court and meet them. But don't worry till that
time comes. That is my advice."
"Then they can't take our home away from us?" cried Amy
"Hold on!" advised Daddy. "I do not say that. I don't wish to
encourage you with any false hopes--nor to discourage you,
either. I know nothing--absolutely nothing--regarding the legal
status of this case. I have my suspicions that Abel Strout is
"Oh, I am sure of that!" cried Mrs. Carringford.
"Nevertheless, it may be that there is an unsatisfied claimant of
the old Peter Warburton Blayne property. This Mrs. Alice G.
Blayne may be perfectly honest in her contention."
"But in that case won't Mr. Strout or Mr. Jamison give me my
money back?" asked Mrs. Carringford.
"If there was much chance of that, do you think Strout would have
stirred up any such suit as this?" asked Mr. Day quietly. "No.
Strout at least thinks he sees his way to making you lose the
house. Jamison was his dummy--used by him in order to keep,
himself out of trouble."
"Oh, Mr. Day! Don't say that"
"I say he thinks he has a chance. But he may be mistaken.
Strout is sly. This may be merely 'strike suit' started in the
hope of scaring you into making a disastrous settlement with him.
He wants to get the property back. The foundations for that
factory are already being laid. Property values Mullen Lane are
"Oh, dear me!" sighed Mrs. Carringford, starting back toward the
kitchen, "this is a wicked world."
"Nothing the matter with the world," said Mr. Day, cheerfully.
"It's some of the folks in it."
He called Mr. Randolph E. Payne's office then and talked to the
successful lawyer for some time. To Janice, afterward, he would
say nothing more encouraging than he had said to the widow.
"When one mixes up with a sharper like Abel Strout, one is likely
to be burned before he is through. Strout is always and forever
trying little, nasty, legal tricks. And Schrimpe is an instrument
fitted to Strout's hand.
"Perhaps they have found some ignorant woman who really was a
relative of Peter Blayne, and who may have a small claim on the
property. It is enough to invalidate the deed Mrs. Carringford
has and yet she will be unable to prove that Strout and his man
Jamison knew about the fault in the title.
"If he makes her sue to recover the thousand dollars she paid the
legal fees will eat up that sum--and he can afford to hire
lawyers and dribble along through the courts better than she
"Yes, I am afraid, if Strout--or, rather, Schrimpe-- has a good
case it will be better to settle it out of court."
"But, dear Daddy! Mrs. Carringford has no money to pay lawyer's
fees, or settle cases," urged Janice.
"True. And that is the unfortunate part of it. Let us wait and
see what Mr. Payne advises after he has looked into the matter.
Whatever he says, she would better do."
This ended the matter for the time being. But all the dark
clouds of trouble seemed to have lowered upon the Carringfords
again. Janice Day was sorry for them, but this was a case in
which she positively could not "do something" to help. She could
only offer her sympathy.
CHAPTER XXVII . INFORMATION THAT IS TOO LATE
During the days immediately succeeding the fire and the
Carringford's poignant trouble, Janice Day had a mental problem
to solve which occupied her thoughts a good part of the time.
Daddy's broken leg was getting along nicely. With the aid of
crutches he could get around very well indeed. He had even gone
down to the bank in an automobile.
So Janice did not have to give him quite the close care and
attention that she previously had. Daddy declared she was making
a mollycoddle of him, anyway--that she babied him too much.
She had more freedom of action, therefore, and now she proceeded
to put a certain plan she had made into effect. Janice had not
forgotten what Bertha Warring had said regarding the information
Stella Latham had hidden from her, Janice, at the time school
Could it be that, after all was said and done, the Olga who had
broken Mrs. Latham's dish was the same Olga that had run away
with the Day's treasure-box? Was it Olga Cedarstrom, with her
name changed, and Stella had known it to be so, all the time?
Really, when Janice thought of this she felt exceedingly angry
with Stella. She had intended, after Stella had acted so meanly
toward Amy Carringford, to let the farmer's daughter strictly