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Mother Carey's Chickens by Kate Douglas Wiggin

Part 3 out of 5

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"I shall 'come out' here," Nancy announced, as the three girls stood in
the centre of the floor, surrounded by bedsteads, tables, bureaus, and
stoves. "Julia, you can 'debut' where you like, but I shall 'come out'
here next summer!"

"You'll be only seventeen; you can't come out!" objected Julia

"Not in a drawing room, perhaps, but perfectly well in a barn. Even you
and Kitty, youthful as you will still be, can attend my coming out
party, in a barn!"

"It doesn't seem proper to think of giving entertainments when everybody
knows our circumstances,--how poor we are!" Julia said rebukingly.

"We are talking of next summer, my child! Who can say how rich we shall
be next summer? A party could be given in this barn with mother to play
the piano and Mr. Popham the fiddle. The refreshments would be
incredibly weak lemonade, and I think we might 'solicit' the cake, as
they do for church sociables!"

Julia's pride was wounded beyond concealment at this humorously intended
suggestion of Nancy's.

"Of course if Aunt Margaret approves, I have nothing to say," she
remarked, "but I myself would never come to any private party where
refreshments were 'solicited.' The very idea is horrible."

"I'm 'coming out' in the barn next summer, Muddy!" Nancy called to her
mother, who just then entered the door. "If we are poorer than ever, we
can take up a collection to defray the expenses; Julia and Kitty would
look so attractive going about with tambourines! I want to do what I can
quickly, because I see plainly I shall have to marry young in order to
help the family. The heroine always does that in books; she makes a
worldly marriage with a rich nobleman, in order that her sister Kitty
and her cousin Julia may have a good education."

"I don't know where you get your ideas, Nancy," said her mother, smiling
at her nonsense. "You certainly never read half a dozen novels in
your life!"

"No, but Joanna used to read them by the hundred and tell me the
stories; and I've heard father read aloud to you; and the older girls
and the younger teachers used to discuss them at school;--oh! I know a
lot about life,--as it is in books,--and I'm just waiting to see if any
of it really happens!"

"Digby Popham is the only rich nobleman in sight for you, Nancy!" Kitty
said teasingly.

"Or freckled Cyril Lord," interpolated Julia.

"He looks like an unbaked pie!" This from Kitty.

Nancy flushed. "He's shy and unhappy and pale, and no wonder; but he's
as nice and interesting as he can be."

"I can't see it," Julia said, "but he never looks at anybody, or talks
to anybody but you, so it's well you like him; though you like all boys,
for that matter!"

"The boys return the compliment!" asserted Kitty mischievously, "while
poor you and I sit in corners!"

"Come, come, dears," and Mrs. Carey joined in the conversation as she
picked up a pillow before returning to the house. "It's a little early
for you to be talking about rich noblemen, isn't it?"

Nancy followed her out of the door, saying as she thoughtfully chewed a
straw, "Muddy, I do believe that when you're getting on to sixteen the
rich nobleman or the fairy prince or the wonderful youngest son does
cross your mind now and then!"



Matters were in this state of forwardness when Nancy and Kathleen looked
out of the window one morning and saw Lallie Joy Popham coming down the
street. She "lugged" butter and milk regularly to the Careys (lugging is
her own word for the act), and helped them in many ways, for she was
fairly good at any kind of housework not demanding brains. Nobody could
say why some of Ossian Popham's gifts of mind and conversation had not
descended to his children, but though the son was not really stupid at
practical work, Lallie Joy was in a perpetual state of coma.

Nancy, as has been intimated before, had a kind of tendency to reform
things that appeared to her lacking in any way, and she had early seized
upon the stolid Lallie Joy as a worthy object.

"There she comes!" said Nancy. "She carries two quarts of milk in one
hand and two pounds of butter in the other, exactly as if she was
bending under the weight of a load of hay. I'll run down into the
kitchen and capture her for a half hour at five cents. She can peel the
potatoes first, and while they're boiling she can slice apples
for sauce."

"Have her chop the hash, do!" coaxed Julia for that was her special
work. "The knife is dull beyond words."

"Why don't you get Mr. Popham to sharpen it? It's a poor workman that
complains of his tools; Columbus discovered America in an open boat,"
quoted Nancy, with an irritating air of wisdom.

"That may be so," Julia retorted, "but Columbus would never have
discovered America with that chopping-knife, I'm sure of that.--Is
Lallie Joy about our age?"

"I don't know. She must have been at least forty when she was born, and
that would make her fifty-five now. What _do_ you suppose would wake her
up? If I could only get her to stand straight, or hold her head up, or
let her hair down, or close her mouth! I believe I'll stay in the
kitchen and appeal to her better feelings a little this morning; I can
seed the raisins for the bread pudding."

Nancy sat in the Shaker rocker by the sink window with the yellow bowl
in her lap. Her cheeks were pink, her eyes were bright, her lips were
red, her hair was goldy-brown, her fingers flew, and a high-necked
gingham apron was as becoming to her as it is to all nice girls. She was
thoroughly awake, was Nancy, and there could not have been a greater
contrast than that between her and the comatose Lallie Joy, who sat on a
wooden chair with her feet on the side rounds. She had taken off her
Turkey red sunbonnet and hung it on the chair-back, where its color
violently assaulted her flaming locks. She sat wrong; she held the
potato pan wrong, and the potatoes and the knife wrong. There seemed to
be no sort of connection between her mind and her body. As she peeled
potatoes and Nancy seeded raisins, the conversation was something
like this.

"How did you chance to bring the butter to-day instead of to-morrow,
Lallie Joy?"

"Had to dress me up to go to the store and get a new hat."

"What colored trimming did you get?"

"Same as old."

"Don't they keep anything but magenta?"

"Yes, blue."

"Why didn't you try blue for a change?"

"Dunno; didn't want any change, I guess."

"Do you like magenta against your hair?"

"Never thought o' my hair; jest thought o' my hat."

"Well, you see, Lallie Joy, you can't change your hair, but you needn't
wear magenta hats nor red sunbonnets. Your hair is handsome enough, if
you'd only brush it right."

"I guess I know all 'bout my hair and how red 't is. The boys ask me if
Pop painted it."

"Why do you strain it back so tight?"

"Keep it out o' my eyes."

"Nonsense; you needn't drag it out by the roots. Why do you tie the
braids with strings?"

"'Cause they hold, an' I hain't got no ribbons."

"Why don't you buy some with the money you earn here?"

"Savin' up for the Fourth."

"Well, I have yards of old Christmas ribbons that I'll give you if
you'll use them."

"All right."

"What do you scrub your face with, that makes those shiny knobs stick
right out on your forehead and cheek bones?"

"Sink soap."

"Well, you shouldn't; haven't you any other?"

"It's upstairs."

"Aren't your legs in good working order?"

Uncomprehending silence on Lallie Joy's part and then Nancy returned to
the onslaught.

"Don't you like to look at pretty things?"

"Dunno but I do, an' dunno as I do."

"Don't you love the rooms your father has finished here?"

"Kind of."

"Not any more than that?"

"Pop thinks some of 'em's queer, an' so does Bill Harmon."

Long silence, Nancy being utterly daunted.

"How did you come by your name, Lallie Joy?"

"Lallie's out of a book named Lallie Rook, an' I was born on the Joy
steamboat line going to Boston."

"Oh, I thought Joy was _Joy_!"

"Joy Line's the only joy I ever heard of!"

There is no knowing how long this depressing conversation would have
continued if the two girls had not heard loud calls from Gilbert
upstairs. Lallie Joy evinced no surprise, and went on peeling potatoes;
she might have been a sister of the famous Casabianca, and she certainly
could have been trusted not to flee from any burning deck, whatever the

"Come and see what we've found, Digby and I!" Gilbert cried. "Come,
girls; come, mother! We were stripping off the paper because Mr. Popham
said there'd been so many layers on the walls it would be a good time to
get to the bottom of it and have it all fresh and clean. So just now, as
I was working over the mantel piece and Digby on the long wall, look in
and see what we uncovered!"

Mrs. Carey had come from the nursery, Kitty and Julia from the garden,
and Osh Popham from the shed, and they all gazed with joy and surprise
at the quaint landscapes that had been painted in water colors before
the day of wall paper had come.

Mr. Popham quickly took one of his tools and began on another side of
the room. They worked slowly and carefully, and in an hour or two the
pictures stood revealed, a little faded in color but beautifully drawn,
with almost nothing of any moment missing from the scenes.

"Je-roosh-y! ain't they handsome!" exclaimed Osh, standing in the middle
of the room with the family surrounding him in various attitudes of
ecstasy. "But they're too faced out to leave's they be, ain't they, Mis'
Carey? You'll have to cover 'em up with new paper, won't you, or shall
you let me put a coat of varnish on 'em?"

Mrs. Carey shuddered internally. "No, Mr. Popham, we mustn't have any
'shine' on the landscapes. Yes, they are dreadfully dim and faded, but I
simply cannot have them covered up!"

"It would be wicked to hide them!" said Nancy. "Oh, Muddy, _is_ it our
duty to write to Mr. Hamilton and tell him about them? He would
certainly take the house away from us if he could see how beautiful we
have made it, and now here is another lovely thing to tempt him. Could
anybody give up this painted chamber if it belonged to him?"

"Well, you see," said Mr. Popham assuringly, "if you want to use this
painted chamber much, you've got to live in Beulah; an' Lem Hamilton
ain't goin' to stop consullin' at the age o' fifty, to come here an'
rust out with the rest of us;--no, siree! Nor Mis' Lem Hamilton wouldn't
stop over night in this village if you give her the town drinkin' trough
for a premium!"

"Is she fashionable?" asked Julia.

"You bet she is! She's tall an' slim an' so chuck full of airs she'd
blow away if you give her a puff o' the bellers! The only time she come
here she stayed just twenty-four hours, but she nearly died, we was all
so 'vulgar.' She wore a white dress ruffled up to the waist, and a white
Alpine hat, an' she looked exactly like the picture of Pike's Peak in my
stereopticon. Mis' Popham overheard her say Beulah was full o' savages
if not cannibals. 'Well,' I says to Maria, 'no matter where she goes,
nobody'll ever want to eat _her_ alive!'--Look at that meetin' house
over the mantel shelf, an' that grassy Common an' elm trees! 'T wa'n't
no house painter done these walls!"

"And look at this space between the two front windows," cried Kathleen.
"See the hens and chickens and the Plymouth Rock rooster!"

"And the white calf lying down under the maple; he's about the prettiest
thing in the room," said Gilbert.

"We must just let it be and think it out," said Mother Carey. "Don't put
any new paper on, now; there's plenty to do downstairs."

"I don't know 's I should particularly like to lay abed in this room,"
said Osh, his eyes roving about the chamber judicially. "I shouldn't hev
no comfort ondressin' here, nohow; not with this mess o' live stock
lookin' at me every minute, whatever I happened to be takin' off. I
s'pose that rooster'd be right on to his job at sun-up! Well, he
couldn't git ahead of Mis' Popham, that's one thing; so 't I shouldn't
be any worse off 'n I be now! I don't get any too much good sleep as 't
is! Mis' Popham makes me go to bed long afore I'm ready, so 't she can
git the house shut up in good season; then 'bout 's soon's I've settled
down an' bed one short nap she says, 'It's time you was up, Ossian!"'

"Mother! I have an idea!" cried Nancy suddenly, as Mr. Popham took his
leave and the family went out into the hall. "Do you know who could make
the walls look as they used to? My dear Olive Lord!"

"She's only sixteen!" objected Mrs. Carey.

"But she's a natural born genius! You wait and see the things she does!"

"Perhaps I could take her into town and get some suggestions or some
instruction, with the proper materials," said Mrs. Carey, "and I suppose
she could experiment on some small space behind the door, first?"

"Nothing that Olive does would ever be put behind anybody's door," Nancy
answered decisively. "I'm not old enough to know anything about
painting, of course (except that good landscapes ought not to be
reversible like our Van Twiller), but there's something about Olive's
pictures that makes you want to touch them and love them!"

So began the happiest, most wonderful, most fruitful autumn of Olive
Lord's life, when she spent morning after morning in the painted
chamber, refreshing its faded tints. Whoever had done the original work
had done it lovingly and well, and Olive learned many a lesson while she
was following the lines of the quaint houses, like those on old china,
renewing the green of the feathery elms, or retracing and coloring the
curious sampler trees that stood straight and stiff like sentinels in
the corners of the room.



The Honorable Lemuel Hamilton sat in the private office of the American
Consulate in Breslau, Germany, one warm day in July. The post had been
brought in half an hour before, and he had two open letters on the desk
in front of him. It was only ten o'clock of a bright morning, but he
looked tired and worn. He was about fifty, with slightly grey hair and
smoothly shaven face. He must have been merry at one time in his life,
for there were many nice little laughing-wrinkles around his eyes, but
somehow these seemed to have faded out, as if they had not been used for
years, and the corners of his mouth turned down to increase the look of
weariness and discontent.

A smile had crept over his face at his old friend Bill Harmon's spelling
and penmanship, for a missive of that kind seldom came to the American
Consulate. When the second letter postmarked Beulah first struck his
eye, he could not imagine why he should have another correspondent in
the quaintly named little village. He had read Nancy's letter twice now,
and still he sat smoking and dreaming with an occasional glance at the
girlish handwriting, or a twinkle of the eye at the re-reading of some
particular passage. His own girls were not ready writers, and their
mother generally sent their messages for them. Nancy and Kitty did not
yet write nearly as well as they talked, but they contrived to express
something of their own individuality in their communications, which were
free and fluent, though childlike and crude.

"What a nice girl this Nancy Carey must be!" thought the American
Consul. "This is such a jolly, confidential, gossipy, winsome little
letter! Her first 'business letter' she calls it! Alas! when she learns
how, a few years later, there will be no charming little confidences; no
details of family income and expenditures; no tell-tale glimpses of
'mother' and 'Julia.' I believe I should know the whole family even
without this photograph!--The lady sitting in the chair, to whom the
photographer's snapshot has not done justice, is worthy of Nancy's
praise,--and Bill Harmon's. What a pretty, piquant, curly head Nancy
has! What a gay, vivacious, alert, spirited expression. The boy is
handsome and gentlemanly, but he'll have to wake up, or Nancy will be
the man of the family. The girl sitting down is less attractive. She's
Uncle Allan's daughter, and" (consulting the letter) "Uncle Allan has
nervous prostration and all of mother's money." Here Mr. Hamilton gave
vent to audible laughter for the third time in a quarter of an hour.
"Nancy doesn't realize with what perfection her somewhat imperfect
English states the case," he thought. "I know Uncle Allan like a book,
from his resemblance to certain other unfortunate gentlemen who have
nervous prostration in combination with other people's money. Let's see!
I know Nancy; friendly little Nancy, about fifteen or sixteen, I should
judge; I know Uncle Allan's 'Julia,' who hems in photographs, but not
otherwise; I know Gilbert, who is depressed at having to make his own
way; the small boy, who 'is the nicest of us all'; Kitty, who beat all
the others in getting to mother's shoulder; and the mother herself, who
is beautiful, and doesn't say 'Bosh' to her children's ideas, and
refuses to touch the insurance money, and wants Gilbert to show what
'father's son' can do without anybody's help, and who revels in the
color and joy of a yellow wall paper at twenty cents a roll! Bless their
simple hearts! They mustn't pay any rent while they are bringing water
into the kitchen and making expensive improvements! And what Hamilton
could be persuaded to live in the yellow house? To think of any one's
wanting to settle down in that little deserted spot, Beulah, where the
only sound that ever strikes one's ear is Osh Popham's laugh or the
tinkle of a cow bell! Oh! if my own girls would write me letters like
this, letting me see how their minds are growing, how they are taking
hold of life, above all what is in their hearts! Well, little Miss Nancy
Carey! honest, outspoken, confidential, clever little Nancy, who calls
me her 'dearest Mr. Hamilton' and thanks me for letting her live in my
yellow house, you shall never be disturbed, and if you and Gilbert ever
earn enough money to buy it, it shall go to you cheap! There's not one
of my brood that would live in it--except Tom, perhaps--for after
spending three hundred dollars, they even got tired of dancing in the
barn on Saturday nights; so if it can fall into the hands of some one
who will bring a blessing on it, good old Granny Hamilton will rest
peacefully in her grave!"

We have discoursed in another place of family circles, but it cannot be
truthfully said that at any moment the Lemuel Hamiltons had ever assumed
that symmetrical and harmonious shape. Still, during the first eight or
ten years of their married life, when the children were young, they had
at least appeared to the casual eye as, say, a rectangular
parallelogram. A little later the cares and jolts of life wrenched the
right angles a trifle "out of plumb," and a rhomboid was the result.
Mrs. Hamilton had money of her own, but wished Lemuel to amass enough
fame and position to match it. She liked a diplomatic life if her
husband could be an ambassador, but she thought him strangely slow in
achieving this dignity. No pleasure or pride in her husband's ability to
serve his country, even in a modest position, ever crossed her mind. She
had no desire to spend her valuable time in various poky Continental
towns, and she had many excuses for not doing so; the proper education
of her children being the chief among them. Luckily for her, good and
desirable schools were generally at an easy distance from the jewellers'
shops and the dressmakers' and milliners' establishments her soul loved,
so while Mr. Hamilton did his daily task in Antwerp, Mrs. Hamilton
resided mostly in Brussels or Paris; when he was in Zittau, in Saxony,
she was in Dresden. If he were appointed to some business city she
remained with him several months each year, and spent the others in a
more artistic and fashionable locality. The situation was growing
difficult because the children were gradually getting beyond school age,
although there still remained to her the sacred duty of settling them
properly in life. Agnes, her mother's favorite, was still at school, and
was devoted to foreign languages, foreign manners, and foreign modes of
life. Edith had grown restless and developed an uncomfortable fondness
for her native land, so that she spent most of her time with her
mother's relatives in New York, or in visiting school friends here or
there. The boys had gone far away; Jack, the elder, to Texas, where he
had lost what money his father and mother had put into his first
business venture; Thomas, the younger, to China, where he was woefully
lonely, but doing well in business. A really good diplomatic appointment
in a large and important city would have enabled Mr. Hamilton to collect
some of his scattered sons and daughters and provide them with the
background for which his wife had yearned without ceasing (and very
audibly) for years. But Mr. Hamilton did not get the coveted
appointment, and Mrs. Hamilton did not specially care for Mr. Hamilton
when he failed in securing the things she wanted. This was the time when
the laughing-wrinkles began to fade away from Mr. Hamilton's eyes, just
for lack of daily use; and it was then that the corners of his mouth
began to turn down; and his shoulders to stoop, and his eye to grow less
keen and brave, and his step less vigorous. It may be a commonplace
remark, but it is not at these precise moments in life that tired,
depressed men in modest positions are wafted by Uncle Sam to great and
desirable heights; but to Mrs. Hamilton it appeared that her husband was
simply indolent, unambitious, and unlucky; not at all that he needed to
be believed in, or loved, or comforted, or helped, or braced! It might
have startled her, and hurt her wifely pride, if she had seen her lonely
husband drinking in little Nancy Carey's letter as if it were dew to a
thirsty spirit; to see him set the photograph of the Carey group on his
desk and look at it from time to time affectionately, as if he had found
some new friends. It was the contentment, the hope, the unity, the
pluck, the mutual love, the confidence, the ambition, of the group that
touched his imagination and made his heart run out to them. "Airs from
the Eden of youth awoke and stirred in his soul" as he took his pen to
answer Nancy's first business communication.

Having completed his letter he lighted another cigar, and leaning back
in his revolving chair clasped his hands behind his head and fell into a
reverie. The various diplomatic posts that might be opened to him
crossed his mind in procession. If A or B or C were possible, his wife
would be content, and their combined incomes might be sufficient to
bring the children together, if not quite under one roof, then to points
not so far separated from each other but that a speaking acquaintance
might be developed. Tom was the farthest away, and he was the dearest;
the only Hamilton of the lot; the only one who loved his father.

Mr. Hamilton leaned forward abstractedly, and fumbling through one
drawer of his desk after another succeeded in bringing out a photograph
of Tom, taken at seventeen or eighteen. Then by a little extra search he
found his wife in her presentation dress at a foreign court. There was
no comfort or companionship in that, it was too furbelowed to be
anybody's wife,--but underneath it in the same frame was one taken just
after their marriage. That was too full of memories to hold much joy,
but it stirred his heart, and made it beat a little; enough at any rate
to show it was not dead. In the letter case in his vest pocket was an
almost forgotten picture of the girls when they were children. This with
the others he stood in a row in front of him, reminding himself that he
did not know the subjects much more intimately than the photographers
who had made their likenesses. He glanced from one family to the other
and back again, several times. The Careys were handsomer, there was no
doubt of that; but there was a deeper difference that eluded him. The
Hamiltons were far more stylishly dressed, but they all looked a little
conscious and a little discontented. That was it; the Careys were
happier! There were six of them, living in the forgotten Hamilton house
in a half-deserted village, on five or six hundred dollars a year, and
doing their own housework, and they were happier than his own brood,
spending forty or fifty times that sum. Well, they were grown up, his
sons and daughters, and the only change in their lives now would come
from wise or unwise marriages. No poverty-stricken sons-in-law would
ever come into the family, with Mrs. Hamilton standing at the bars, he
was sure of that! As for the boys, they might choose their mates in
Texas or China; they might even have chosen them now, for aught he knew,
though Jack was only twenty-six and Tom twenty-two. He must write to
them oftener, all of them, no matter how busy and anxious he might be;
especially to Tom, who was so far away.

He drew a sheet of paper towards him, and having filled it, another, and
yet another. Having folded and slipped it into an envelope and addressed
it to Thomas Hamilton, Esq., Hong Kong, China, he was about to seal it
when he stopped a moment. "I'll enclose the little Carey girl's letter,"
he thought. "Tom's the only one who cares a penny for the old house, and
I've told him I have rented it. He's a generous boy, and he won't grudge
a few dollars lost to a good cause. Besides, these Careys will increase
the value of the property every year they live in it, and without them
the buildings would gradually have fallen into ruins." He added a
postscript to his letter, saying: "I've sent you little Miss Nancy's
letter, the photograph of her tying up the rambler rose, and the family
group; so that you can see exactly what influenced me to write her (and
Bill Harmon) that they should be undisturbed in their tenancy, and that
their repairs and improvements should be taken in lieu of rent." This
done and the letters stamped, he put the photographs of his wife and
children here and there on his desk and left the office.

Oh! it is quite certain that Mother Carey's own chickens go out over the
seas and show good birds the way home; and it is quite true, as she
said, "One real home always makes another, I am sure of that!" It can
even send a vision of a home across fields and forests and lakes and
oceans from Beulah village to Breslau, Germany, and on to Hong
Kong, China.



Mrs. Henry Lord sent out a good many invitations to the fairies for
Cyril's birthday party, but Mr. Lord was at his critical point in the
first volume of his text book, and forgot that he had a son. Where both
parents are not interested in these little affairs, something is sure to
be forgotten. Cyril's mother was weak and ill at the time, and the
upshot of it was that the anger of The Fairy Who Wasn't Invited was
visited on the baby Cyril in his cradle. In the revengeful spirit of
that fairy who is omitted from these functions, she sent a threat
instead of a blessing, and decreed that Cyril should walk in fear all
the days of his life. Of course, being a fairy, she knew very well that,
if Cyril, or anybody very much interested in Cyril, went to declare that
there was no power whatever behind her curse, she would not be able to
gratify her spite; but she knew also, being a fairy, that if Cyril got
into the habit of believing himself a coward, he would end by being one,
so she stood a good chance of winning, after all.

Cyril, when he came into the world, had come with only half a welcome.
No mother and father ever met over his cradle and looked at him
together, wondering if it were "well with the child." When he was old
enough to have his red-gold hair curled, and a sash tied around his baby
waist, he was sometimes taken downstairs, but he always fled to his
mother's or his nurse's knee when his father approached. How many times
he and his little sister Olive had hidden under the stairs when father
had called mother down to the study to scold her about the grocer's
bill! And there was a nightmare of a memory concerning a certain
birthday of father's, when mother had determined to be gay. It was just
before supper. Cyril, clad in his first brief trousers, was to knock at
the study door with a little purple nosegay in his hand, to show his
father that the lilac had bloomed. Olive, in crimson cashmere, was to
stand near, and when the door opened, present him with her own picture
of the cat and her new kittens; while mother, looking so pretty, with
her own gift all ready in her hand, was palpitating on the staircase to
see how the plans would work. Nothing could have been worse, however, in
the way of a small domestic tragedy, than the event itself when it
finally came off.

Cyril knocked. "What do you want?" came from within, in tones that
breathed vexation at being interrupted.

"Knock again!" whispered Mrs. Lord. "Father doesn't remember that it's
his birthday, and he doesn't know that it's you knocking."

Cyril knocked again timidly, but at the first sound of his father's
irritable voice as he rose hurriedly from his desk, the boy turned and
fled through the kitchen to the shed.

Olive held the fort, picture in hand.

"It's your birthday, father," she said. "There's a cake for supper, and
here's my present." There was no love in the child's voice. Her heart,
filled with passionate sympathy for Cyril, had lost all zest for its
task, and she handed her gift to her father with tightly closed lips and
heaving breast.

"All right; I'm much obliged, but I wish you would not knock at this
door when I am writing,--I've told you that before. Tell your mother I
can't come to supper to-night, but to send me a tray, please!"

As he closed the door Olive saw him lay the picture on a table, never
looking at it as he crossed the room to one of the great book-cases that
lined the walls.

Mrs. Lord had by this time disappeared forlornly from the upper hall.
Olive, aged ten, talked up the stairs in a state of mind ferocious in
its anger. Entering her mother's room she tore the crimson ribbon from
her hair and began to unbutton her dress. "I hate him! I _hate_ him!"
she cried, stamping her foot. "I will never knock at his door again! I'd
like to take Cyril and run away! I'll get the birthday cake and fling it
into the pond; nothing shall stop me!". Then, seeing her mother's white
face, she wailed, as she flung herself on the bed: "Oh, mother,
mother,--why did you ever let him come to live with us? Did we _have_ to
have him for a father? Couldn't you _help_ it, mother?"

Mrs. Lord grew paler, put her hand to her heart, wavered, caught
herself, wavered again, and fell into the great chair by the window. Her
eyes closed, and Olive, frightened by the apparent effect of her words,
ran down the back stairs and summoned the cook. When she returned,
panting and breathless, her mother was sitting quite quietly by the
window, looking out at the cedars.

"It was only a sudden pain, dear! I am all well again. Nothing is really
the matter, Bridget. Mr. Lord will not be down to supper; spread a tray
for him, please."

"I'd like to spread a tray for him at the bottom of the Red Sea; that's
where he belongs!" muttered Bridget, as she descended to the kitchen to
comfort Cyril.

"Was it my fault, mother?" asked Olive, bending over her anxiously.

Her mother drew the child's head down and leaned her own against it
feebly. "No, dear," she sighed. "It's nobody's fault, unless it's mine!"

"Is the pain gone?"

"Quite gone, dear."

Nevertheless the pain was to prove the final wrench to a heart that had
been on the verge of breaking for many a year, and it was not long
before Olive and Cyril were motherless.

Mr. Lord did not have the slightest objection to the growing intimacy
between his children and the new family in the Yellow House, so long as
he was not disturbed by it, and so long as it cost him nothing. They had
strict orders not to play with certain of their village acquaintances,
Mr. Lord believing himself to be an aristocrat; the fact being that he
was almost destitute of human sympathy, and to make a neighbor of him
you would have had to begin with his grandfather and work for three
generations. He had seen Nancy and Gilbert at the gates of his place,
and he had passed Mrs. Carey in one of his infrequent walks to the
post-office. She was not a person to pass without mental comment, and
Mr. Lord instantly felt himself in the presence of an equal, an unusual
fact in his experience; he would not have known a superior if he had met
one ever so often!

"A very fine, unusual woman," he thought. "She accounts for that
handsome, manly boy. I wish he could knock some spirit into Cyril!"

The process of "knocking spirit" into a boy would seem to be
inconsistent with educational logic, but by very different methods,
Gilbert had certainly given Cyril a trifling belief in himself, and
Mother Carey was gradually winning him to some sort of self-expression
by the warmth of her frequent welcomes and the delightful faculty she
possessed of making him feel at ease.

"Come, come!" said the petrels to the molly-mocks in "Water Babies."
"This young gentleman is going to Shiny Wall. He is a plucky one to have
gone so far. Give the little chap a cast over the ice-pack for Mother
Carey's sake."

Gilbert was delighted, in a new place, to find a boy friend of his own
age, and Cyril's speedy attachment gratified his pride. Gilbert was
doing well these summer months. The unceasing activity, the authority
given him by his mother and sisters, his growing proficiency in all
kinds of skilled labor, as he "puttered" about with Osh Popham or Bill
Harmon in house and barn and garden, all this pleased his enterprising
nature. Only one anxiety troubled his mother; his unresigned and
mutinous attitude about exchanging popular and fashionable Eastover for
Beulah Academy, which seat of learning he regarded with unutterable
scorn. He knew that there was apparently no money to pay Eastover fees,
but he was still child enough to feel that it could be found, somewhere,
if properly searched for. He even considered the education of Captain
Carey's eldest son an emergency vital enough to make it proper to dip
into the precious five thousand dollars which was yielding them a part
of their slender annual income. Once, when Gilbert was a little boy, he
had put his shoulder out of joint, and to save time his mother took him
at once to the doctor's. He was suffering, but still strong enough to
walk. They had to climb a hilly street, the child moaning with pain, his
mother soothing and encouraging him as they went on. Suddenly he
whimpered: "Oh! if this had only happened to Ellen or Joanna or Addy or
Nancy, I could have borne it _so_ much better!"

There was a good deal of that small boy left in Gilbert still, and he
endured best the economies that fell on the feminine members of the
family. It was the very end of August, and although school opened the
first Monday in September, Mrs. Carey was not certain whether Gilbert
would walk into the old-fashioned, white painted academy with the
despised Beulah "hayseeds," or whether he would make a scene, and
authority would have to be used.

"I declare, Gilly!" exclaimed Mother Carey one night, after an argument
on the subject; "one would imagine the only course in life open to a boy
was to prepare at Eastover and go to college afterwards! Yet you may
take a list of the most famous men in America, and I dare say you will
find half of them came from schools like Beulah Academy or infinitely
poorer ones. I don't mean the millionaires alone. I mean the merchants
and engineers and surgeons and poets and authors and statesmen. Go ahead
and try to stamp your school in some way, Gilly!--don't sit down feebly
and wait for it to stamp you!"

This was all very well as an exhibition of spirit on Mother Carey's
part, but it had been a very hard week. Gilbert was sulky; Peter had had
a touch of tonsillitis; Nancy was faltering at the dishwashing and
wishing she were a boy; Julia was a perfect barnacle; Kathleen had an
aching tooth, and there being no dentist in the village, Was applying
Popham remedies,--clove-chewing, roasted raisins, and disfiguring bread
poultices; Bill Harmon had received no reply from Mr. Hamilton, and when
Mother Carey went to her room that evening she felt conscious of a
lassitude, and a sense of anxiety, deeper than for months. As Gilbert
went by to his own room, he glanced in at her door, finding it slightly
ajar. She sat before her dressing table, her long hair flowing over her
shoulders, her head bent over her two hands. His father's picture was in
its accustomed place, and he heard her say as she looked at it: "Oh, my
dear, my dear! I am so careworn, so troubled, so discouraged! Gilbert
needs you, and so do I, more than tongue can tell!" The voice was so low
that it was almost a whisper, but it reached Gilbert's ears, and there
was a sob strangled in it that touched his heart.

The boy tiptoed softly into his room and sat down on his bed in the

"Dear old Mater!" he thought. "It's no go! I've got to give up Eastover
and college and all and settle down into a country bumpkin! No fellow
could see his mother look like that, and speak like that, and go his own
gait; he's just got to go hers!"

Meantime Mrs. Carey had put out the lamp and lay quietly thinking. The
last words that floated through her mind as she sank to sleep were those
of a half-forgotten verse, learned, she could not say how many
years before:--

You can glad your child or grieve it!
You can trust it or deceive it;
When all's done
Beneath God's sun
You can only love and leave it.



Another person presumably on the way to Shiny Wall and Peacepool, but
putting small energy into the journey, was that mass of positively
glaring virtues, Julia Carey. More than one fairy must have been
forgotten when Julia's christening party came off. No heart-to-heart
talk in the twilight had thus far produced any obvious effect. She had
never, even when very young, experienced a desire to sit at the feet of
superior wisdom, always greatly preferring a chair of her own. She
seldom did wrong, in her own opinion, because the moment she entertained
an idea it at once became right, her vanity serving as a pair of
blinders to keep her from seeing the truth. The doctors did not permit
any one to write to poor Allan Carey, so that Julia's heart could not be
softened by continual communication with her invalid father, who, with
Gladys Ferguson, constituted the only tribunal she was willing to
recognize. Her consciousness of superiority to the conditions that
surrounded her, her love of luxury, the silken selfishness with which
she squirmed out of unpleasant duties, these made her an unlikable and
undesirable housemate, and that these faults could exist with what Nancy
called her "everlasting stained-glass attitude" made it difficult for
Mother Carey to maintain a harmonious family circle. It was an outburst
of Nancy's impetuous temper that Mrs. Carey had always secretly dreaded,
but after all it was poor Kathleen who precipitated an unforgettable
scene which left an influence behind it for many months.

The morning after Mother Carey's interview with Gilbert she looked up as
her door was pushed open, and beheld Julia, white and rigid with temper,
standing on the threshold.

"What is the matter, child?" exclaimed her aunt, laying down her work in

Close behind Julia came Kathleen, her face swollen with tears, her
expression full of unutterable woe.

Julia's lips opened almost automatically as she said slowly and with
bitter emphasis, "Aunt Margaret, is it true, as Kathleen says, that my
father has all your money and some of Uncle Peter's?"

Something snapped in Mother Carey! One glance at Kathleen showed only
too well that she had committed the almost unpardonable sin of telling
Julia what had been carefully and tenderly kept from her. Before she
could answer Kathleen had swept past Julia and flung herself on the
floor near her mother.

"Oh, mother, I can't say anything that will ever make you understand.
Julia knows, she knows in her heart, what she said that provoked me! She
does nothing but grumble about the work, and how few dresses we have,
and what a drudge she is, and what common neighbors we have, and how
Miss Tewksbury would pity her if she knew all, and how Uncle Allan would
suffer if he could see his daughter living such a life! And this morning
my head ached and my tooth ached and I was cross, and all at once
something leaped out of my mouth!"

"Tell her what you said," urged Julia inexorably.

Sobs choked Kathleen's voice. "I said--I said--oh! how can I tell it! I
said, if her father hadn't lost so much of my father's and my mother's
money we shouldn't have been so poor, any of us."

"Kathleen, how could you!" cried her mother.

If Julia wished to precipitate a tempest she had succeeded, and her face
showed a certain sedate triumph.

"Oh! mother! don't give me up; don't give me up!" wailed Kathleen. "It
wasn't me that said it, it was somebody else that I didn't know lived
inside of me. I don't expect you to forgive it or forget it, Julia, but
if you'll only try, just a little bit, I'll show you how sorry I feel.
I'd cut myself and make it bleed, I'd go to prison, if I could get back
to where I was before I said it! Oh! what shall I do, mother, if you
look at me like that again or say 'How could you!'"

There was no doubting Kathleen's remorse; even Julia saw that.

"Did she tell the truth, Aunt Margaret?" she repeated.

"Come here, Julia, and sit by me. It is true that your Uncle Peter and I
have both put money into your father's business, and it is true that he
has not been able to give it back to us, and perhaps may never do so.
There is just enough left to pay your poor father's living expenses, but
we trust his honor; we are as sorry for him as we can be, and we love
him dearly. Kathleen meant nothing but that your father has been
unfortunate and we all have to abide by the consequences; but I am
amazed that my daughter should have so forgotten herself as to speak of
it to you!" (Renewed sobs from the prostrate Kathleen).

"Especially," said Julia, "when, as Gladys Ferguson says, I haven't
anybody in the world but you, to turn to in my trouble. I am a
fatherless girl" (her voice quivered here), "and I am a guest in
your house."

Mrs. Carey's blood rose a little as she looked at poor Kitty's shaken
body and streaming eyes, and Julia's unforgiving face. "You are wrong
there, Julia. I fail to see why you should not take your full share of
our misfortunes, and suffer as much as we, from our too small income. It
is not our fault, it is not yours. You are not a privileged guest, you
are one of the family. If you are fatherless just now, my children are
fatherless forever; yet you have not made one single burden lighter by
joining our forces. You have been an outsider, instead of putting
yourself loyally into the breach, and working with us heart to heart. I
welcomed you with open arms and you have made my life harder, much
harder, than it was before your coming. To protect you I have had to
discipline my own children continually, and all the time you were
putting their tempers to quite unnecessary tests! I am not extenuating
Kathleen, but I merely say you have no right to behave as you do. You
are thirteen years old, quite old enough to make up your mind whether
you wish to be loved by anybody or not; at present you are not!"

Never had the ears of the Paragon heard such disagreeably plain speech.
She was not inclined to tears, but moisture began to appear in her eyes
and she looked as though a shower were imminent. Aunt Margaret was
magnificent in her wrath, and though Julia feared, she admired her. Not
to be loved, if that really were to be her lot, rather terrified Julia.
She secretly envied Nancy's unconscious gift of drawing people to her
instantly; men, women, children,--dogs and horses, for that matter. She
never noticed that Nancy's heart ran out to meet everybody, and that she
was overflowing with vitality and joy and sympathy; on the contrary, she
considered the tribute of affection paid to Nancy as a part of Nancy's
luck. Virtuous, conscientious, intelligent, and well-dressed as she felt
herself to be, she emphatically did not wish to be disliked, and it was
a complete surprise to her that she had not been a successful
Carey chicken.

"Gladys Ferguson always loved me," she expostulated after a brief
silence, and there was a quiver in her voice.

"Then either Gladys has a remarkable gift of loving, or else you are a
different Julia in her company," remarked Mother Carey, quietly, raising
Julia's astonishment and perturbation to an immeasurable height.

"Now, Kathleen," continued Mother Carey, "Mrs. Godfrey has often asked
you to spend a week with Elsie, and you can go to Charlestown on the
afternoon train. Go away from Julia and forget everything but that you
have done wrong and you must find a way to repair it. I hope Julia will
learn while you are away to make it easier for you to be courteous and
amiable. There is a good deal in the Bible, Julia, about the sin of
causing your brother to offend. Between that sin and Kathleen's offence,
there is little, in my mind, to choose!"

"Yes, there is!" cried Kathleen. "I am much, much worse than Julia.
Father couldn't bear to know that I had hurt Julia's feelings and hurt
yours too. I was false to father, and you, and Uncle Allan, and Julia.
Nothing can be said for me, _nothing_! I am so ashamed of myself that I
shall never get over it in the world. Oh, Julia, could you shake hands
with me, just to show me you know how I despise myself?"

Julia shook hands considerably less like a slug or a limpet than usual,
and something very queer and unexpected happened when her hand met poor
Kitty's wet, feverish little paw and she heard the quiver in her voice.
She suddenly stooped and kissed her cousin, quite without intention.
Kathleen returned the salute with grateful, pathetic warmth, and then
the two fell on Mother Carey's neck to be kissed and cried over for a
full minute.

"I'll go to the doctor and have my ugly tooth pulled out," exclaimed
Kathleen, wiping her eyes. "If it hadn't been for that I never could
have been so horrible!"

"That would be all very well for once," answered her mother with a tired
smile, "but if you pluck out a supposed offending member every time you
do something wrong, I fear you will not have many left when you are an
old lady!"

"Mother!" said Kathleen, almost under her breath and not daring to look
up, "couldn't I stay at home from Charlestown and show you and Julia,
here, how sorry I am?"

"Yes, let her, Aunt Margaret, and then I can have a chance to try too,"
pleaded Julia.

Had the heavens fallen? Had the Paragon, the Pink of Propriety and
Perfection, confessed a fault? Had the heart of the smug one, the prig,
melted, and did she feel at last her kinship to the Carey chickens? Had
she suffered a real grievance, the first amongst numberless deeds of
tenderness, and having resented it like an "old beast," forgiven it like
a "new" one? It certainly seemed as if Mother Carey that week were at
her old trade of making things make themselves. Gilbert, Kathleen, and
Julia had all fought their way under the ice-pack and were getting a
glimpse of Shiny Wall.



Mother Carey walked down the village street one morning late in August,
while Peter, milk pail in hand, was running by her side and making
frequent excursions off the main line of travel. Beulah looked
enchanting after a night of rain, and the fields were greener than they
had been since haying time. Unless Mr. Hamilton were away from his
consular post on a vacation somewhere on the Continent, he should have
received, and answered, Bill Harmon's letter before this, she was
thinking, as she looked at the quiet beauty of the scene that had so
endeared itself to her in a few short months.

Mrs. Popham had finished her morning's work and was already sitting at
her drawing-in frame in the open doorway, making a very purple rose with
a very scarlet centre.

"Will you come inside, Mis' Carey?" she asked hospitably, "or do you
want Lallie Joy to set you a chair on the grass, same as you had
last time?"

"I always prefer the grass, Mrs. Popham," smiled Mrs. Carey. "As it's
the day for the fishman to come I thought we'd like an extra quart of
milk for chowder."

"I only hope he'll make _out_ to come," was Mrs. Popham's curt response.
"If I set out to _be_ a fishman, I vow I'd _be_ one! Mr. Tubbs stays to
home whenever he's hayin', or his wife's sick, or it's stormy, or the
children want to go to the circus!"

Mrs. Carey laughed. "That's true; but as your husband reminded me last
week, when Mr. Tubbs disappointed us, his fish is always fresh-caught,
and good."

"Oh! of course Mr. Popham would speak up for him!" returned his wife. "I
don't see myself as it makes much diff'rence whether his fish is good or
bad, if he stays to home with it! Mebbe I look on the dark side a little
mite; I can't hardly help it, livin' with Mr. Popham, and he
so hopeful."

"He keeps us all very merry at the Yellow House," Mrs. Carey ventured.

"Yes, he would," remarked Mrs. Popham drily, "but you don't git it
stiddy; hopefulness at meals, hopefulness evenin's, an' hopefulness
nights!--one everlastin' stiddy stream of hopefulness! He was jest so as
a boy; always lookin' on the bright side whether there was any or not.
His mother 'n' father got turrible sick of it; so much sunshine in the
house made a continual drouth, so old Mis' Popham used to say. For her
part, she said, she liked to think that, once in a while, there was a
cloud that was a first-class cloud; a thick, black cloud, clean through
to the back! She was tired to death lookin' for Ossian's silver linin's!
Lallie Joy's real moody like me; I s'pose it's only natural, livin' with
a father who never sees anything but good, no matter which way he looks.
There's two things I trust I shan't hear any more when I git to
heaven,--that's 'Cheer up Maria!' an' 'It's all for the best!' As for
Mr. Popham, he says any place'll be heaven to him so long as I ain't
there, callin' 'Hurry up Ossian!' so we have it, back an' forth!"

"It's a wonderful faculty, seeing the good in everything," sighed Mrs.

"Wonderful tiresome," returned Mrs. Popham, "though I will own up it's
Ossian's only fault, and he can't see his own misfortunes any clearer
than he can see those of other folks. His new colt run away with him
last week and stove the mowin' machine all to pieces. 'Never mind,
Maria!' he says, 'it'll make fust-rate gear for a windmill!' He's out in
the barn now, fussin' over it; you can hear him singin'. They was all
here practicin' for the Methodist concert last, night, an' I didn't
sleep a wink, the tunes kep' a-runnin' in my head so! They always git
Ossian to sing 'Fly like a youthful hart or roe, over the hills where
spices grow,' an' I tell him he's too old; youthful harts an' roes don't
fly over the hills wearin' spectacles, I tell him, but he'll go right on
singin' it till they have to carry him up on the platform in a
wheeled chair!"

"You go to the Congregational church, don't you, Mrs. Popham?" asked
Mrs. Carey. "I've seen Lallie and Digby at Sunday-school."

"Yes, Mr. Popham is a Methodist and I'm a Congregationalist, but I say
let the children go where they like, so I always take them with me."

Mrs. Carey was just struggling to conceal her amusement at this
religious flexibility on Mrs. Popham's part, when she espied Nancy
flying down the street, bareheaded, waving a bit of paper in the air.

"Are you 'most ready to come home, Muddy?" she called, without coming
any nearer.

"Yes, quite ready, now Lallie has brought the milk. Good morning, Mrs.
Popham; the children want me for some new enterprise."

"You give yourself most too much to 'em," expostulated Mrs. Popham; "you
don't take no vacations."

"Ah, well, you see 'myself' is all I have to give them," answered Mrs.
Carey, taking Peter and going to meet Nancy.

"Mother," said that young person breathlessly, "I must tell you what I
didn't tell at the time, for fear of troubling you. I wrote to Mr.
Hamilton by the same post that Mr. Harmon did. Bill is so busy and such
a poor writer I thought he wouldn't put the matter nicely at all, and I
didn't want you, with all your worries, brought into it, so I wrote to
the Consul myself, and kept a copy to show you exactly what I said. I
have been waiting at the gate for the letters every day for a week, but
this morning Gilbert happened to be there and shouted, 'A letter from
Germany for you, Nancy!' So all of them are wild with curiosity; Olive
and Cyril too, but I wanted you to open and read it first because it may
be full of awful blows."

Mrs. Carey sat down on the side of a green bank between the Pophams'
corner and the Yellow House and opened the letter,--with some
misgivings, it must be confessed. Nancy sat close beside her and held
one edge of the wide sheets, closely filled.

"Why, he has written you a volume, Nancy!" exclaimed Mrs. Carey. "It
must be the complete story of his life! How long was yours to him?" "I
don't remember; pretty long; because there seemed to be so much to tell,
to show him how we loved the house, and why we couldn't spend Cousin
Ann's money and move out in a year or two, and a lot about ourselves, to
let him see we were nice and agreeable and respectable."

"I'm not sure all that was strictly necessary," commented Mrs. Carey
with some trepidation.

This was Lemuel Hamilton's letter, dated from the office of the American
Consul in Breslau, Germany.

MY DEAR MISS NANCY,--As your letter to me was a purely
"business" communication I suppose I ought to begin my reply:
"Dear Madam, Your esteemed favor was received on the sixth
inst. and contents noted," but I shall do nothing of the sort.
I think you must have guessed that I have two girls of my own,
for you wrote to me just as if we were sitting together side
by side, like two friends, not a bit as landlord and tenant.

Mother Carey's eyes twinkled. She well knew Nancy's informal epistolary
style, and her facile, instantaneous friendliness!

Every word in your letter interested me, pleased me, touched me.
I feel that I know you all, from the dear mother who sits in
the centre--

"What does he mean by that?"

"I sent him a snap shot of the family."

"_Nancy_! What for?"

"So that he could see what we were like; so that he'd know we were fit
to be lifelong tenants!"

Mrs. Carey turned resignedly to the letter again.

From the dear mother who sits in the centre, to the lovable
little Peter who looks as if he were all that you describe
him! I was about his age when I went to the Yellow House to
spend a few years. Old Granny Hamilton had lived there all her
life, and when my mother, who was a widow, was seized with a
serious illness she took me home with her for a long visit.
She was never well enough to go away, so my early childhood
was passed in Beulah, and I only left the village when I was ten
years old, and an orphan.

"Oh, dear!" interpolated Nancy. "It seems, lately, as if nobody had both
father and mother!"

Granny Hamilton died soon after my mother, and I hardly know who
lived in the house for the next thirty years. It was my
brother's property, and a succession of families occupied it
until it fell to me in my turn. I have no happy memories
connected with it, so you can go ahead and make them for
yourselves. My only remembrance is of the west bedroom, where
my mother lived and died.

"The west bedroom; that isn't the painted one; no, of course it is the
one where I sleep," said Mrs. Carey. "The painted one must always have
been the guest chamber."

She could only move from bed to chair, and her greatest pleasure
was to sit by the sunset window and look at the daisies and
buttercups waving in that beautiful sloping stretch of field
with the pine woods beyond. After the grass was mown, and that
field was always left till the last for her sake, she used to
sit there and wait for Queen Anne's lace to come up; its tall
stems and delicate white wheels nodding among the grasses.

"Oh! I do _like_ him!" exclaimed Nancy impetuously. "Can't you _see_
him, mother? It's so nice of him to remember that they always mowed the
hayfield last for his mother's sake, and so nice of him to think of
Queen Anne's lace all these years!"

Now as to business, your Cousin Ann is quite right when she
tells you that you ought not to put expensive improvements on
another person's property lest you be disturbed in your
tenancy. That sort of cousin is always right, whatever she
says. Mine was not named Ann; she was Emma, but the principle
is the same.

"Nancy!" asked Mrs. Carey, looking away from the letter again, "did you
say anything about your Cousin Ann?"

"Yes, some little thing or other; for it was her money that we couldn't
spend until we knew we could stay in the house. I didn't describe her,
of course, to Mr. Hamilton; I just told him she was very businesslike,
and yes, I remember now, I told him you said she was a very fine person;
that's about all. But you see how clever he is! he just has 'instinks,'
as Mr. Popham says, and you don't have to tell him much about anything."

If you are intending to bring the water from the well into the
house and put a large stove in the cellar to warm some of the
upper rooms; if you are papering and painting inside, and
keeping the place in good condition, you are preserving my
property and even adding to its value; so under the
circumstances I could not think of accepting any rent in

"No rent! Not even the sixty dollars!" exclaimed Nancy.

"Look; that is precisely what he says."

"There never was such a dear since the world began!" cried Nancy
joyously. "Oh! do read on; there's a lot more, and the last may
contradict the first."

Shall I tell you what more the Careys may do for me, they who
have done so much already?

"So much!" quoted Nancy with dramatic emphasis. "Oh, he _is_ a dear!"

My son Tom, when he went down to Beulah before starting for
China, visited the house and at my request put away my
mother's picture safely. He is a clever boy, and instead of
placing the thing in an attic where it might be injured, he
tucked it away,--where do you think,--in the old brick oven of
the room that is now, I suppose, your dining room. It is a
capital hiding-place, for there had been no fire there for fifty
years, nor ever will be again. I have other portraits of her
with me, on this side of the water. Please remove the one I
speak of from its wrappings and hang it over the mantel shelf
in the west bedroom.

"My bedroom! I shall love to have it there," said Mother Carey.

Then, once a year, on my mother's birthday,--it is the fourth of
July and an easy date to remember,--will my little friend Miss
Nancy, or any of the other Careys, if she is absent, pick a
little nosegay of daisies and buttercups (perhaps there will
even be a bit of early Queen Anne's lace) and put it in a vase
under my mother's picture? That shall be the annual rent paid
for the Yellow House to Lemuel Hamilton by the Careys!

Tears of joy sprang to the eyes of emotional Nancy. She rose to her feet
and paced the greensward excitedly.

"Oh, mother, I didn't think there could be another such man after
knowing father and the Admiral. Isn't it all as wonderful as a fairy

"There's a little more; listen, dear."

As to the term of your occupancy, the Careys may have the Yellow
House until the day of my death, unless by some extraordinary
chance my son Tom should ever want it as a summer home.

"Oh, dear! there comes the dreadful 'unless'! 'My son Tom' is our only
enemy, then!" said Nancy darkly.

"He is in China, at all events," her mother remarked cheerfully.

Tom is the only one who ever had a bit of sentiment about
Beulah, and he was always unwilling that the old place should
be occupied by strangers. The curious thing about the matter
is that you and yours do not seem to be strangers to me and
mine. Do you know, dear little Miss Nancy, what brought the
tears to my eyes in your letter? The incident of your father's
asking what you could do to thank the Yellow House for the
happy hour it had given you on that summer day long ago, and the
planting of the crimson rambler by the side of the portico. I
have sent your picture tying up the rose,--and it was so
charming I was loath to let it go,--with your letter, and the
snap shot of the family group, all out to my son Tom in China.
He will know then why I have let the house, to whom, and all
the attendant circumstances. Trust him never to disturb you
when he sees how you love the old place. The planting of that
crimson rambler will fix Tom, for he's a romantic boy.

"The planting of the rose was a heavenly inspiration if it does 'fix
Tom!' We'll call Tom the Chinese Enemy. No, we'll call him the Yellow
Peril," laughed Nancy in triumph.

I am delighted with the sample of paper you have chosen for the
front hall.

"I don't see why you didn't go over to Germany yourself, Nancy, and take
a trunk of samples!" cried Mrs. Carey, wiping the tears of merriment
from her eyes. "I can't think what the postage on your letter must have

"Ten cents," Nancy confessed, "but wasn't it worth it, Muddy?--Come,
read the last few lines, and then we'll run all the way home to tell the

Send me anything more, at any time, to give me an idea of the
delightful things you are doing. I shall be proud if you honor
me with an occasional letter. Pray give my regards to your
mother, whom I envy, and all the "stormy petrels," whom I envy

Believe me, dear Miss Nancy,

Yours sincerely,


"I can't remember why I told him about Mother Carey's chickens," said
Nancy reflectively. "It just seemed to come in naturally. The Yellow
Peril must be rather nice, as well as his father, even if he is our
enemy. That was clever of him, putting his grandmother in the brick
oven!" And here Nancy laughed, and laughed again, thinking how her last
remark would sound if overheard by a person unacquainted with the

"A delightful, warm, kind, friendly letter," said Mother Carey, folding
it with a caressing hand. "I wish your father could have read it."

"He doesn't say a word about his children," and Nancy took the sheets
and scanned them again.

"You evidently gave him the history of your whole family, but he
confines himself to his own life."

"He mentions 'my son Tom' frequently enough, but there's not a word of
Mrs. Hamilton."

"No, but there's no reason there should be, especially!"

"If he loved her he couldn't keep her out," said Nancy shrewdly. "She
just isn't in the story at all. Could any of us write a chronicle of any
house we ever lived in, and leave you out?"

Mrs. Carey took Nancy's outstretched hands and was pulled up from the
greensward. "You have a few 'instinks' yourself, little daughter," she
said with a swift pat on the rosy cheek. "Now, Peter, put your marbles
in the pocket of your blue jeans, and take the milk pail from under the
bushes; we must hurry or there'll be no chowder."

As they neared Garden Fore-and-Aft the group of children rushed out to
meet them, Kitty in advance.

"The fish man didn't come," she said, "and it's long past his time, so
there's no hope; but Julia and I have the dinner all planned. There
wasn't enough of it to go round anyway, so we've asked Olive and Cyril
to stay, and we've set the table under the great maple,--do you care?"

"Not a bit; we'll have a real jollification, because Nancy has some good
news to tell you!"

"The dinner isn't quite appropriate for a jollification," Kitty observed
anxiously. "Is the news good enough to warrant opening a jar or a can of

"Open all that doth hap to be closed," cried Nancy, embracing Olive
excitedly. "Light the bonfires on the encroaching hills. Set casks
a-tilt, and so forth."

"It's the German letter!" said Gilbert at a venture.

"What is the dinner, Kitty?" Mother Carey asked.

"New potatoes and string beans from the aft garden. Stale bread made
into milk toast to be served as a course. Then, not that it has anything
to do with the case, but just to give a style to the meal, Julia has
made a salad out of the newspaper."

Nancy created a diversion by swooning on the grass; a feat which had
given her great fame in charades.

"It was only the memory of Julia's last newspaper salad!" she murmured
when the usual restoratives had been applied. "Prithee, poppet, what
hast dropped into the dish to-day?"

Julia was laughing too much to be wholly intelligible, but read from a
scrap in her apron pocket: "'Any fruit in season, cold beans or peas,
minced cucumber, English walnuts, a few cubes of cold meat left from
dinner, hard boiled eggs in slices, flecks of ripe tomatoes and radishes
to perfect the color scheme, a dash of onion juice, dash of paprika,
dash of rich cream.' I have left out the okra, the shallot, the
estragon, the tarragon, the endive, the hearts of artichoke, the
Hungarian peppers and the haricot beans because we hadn't any;--do you
think it will make any difference, Aunt Margaret?"

"It will," said Nancy oracularly, "but all to the good."

"Rather a dull salad I call it," commented Gilbert. "Lacks the snap of
the last one. No mention of boned sprats, or snails in aspic, calves'
foot jelly, iced humming birds, pickled edelweiss, or any of those
things kept habitually in the cellars of families like ours. No dash of
Jamaica ginger or Pain-killer or sloe gin or sarsaparilla to give it
piquancy. Unless Julia can find a paper that gives more up-to-date
advice to its country subscribers, we'll have to transfer her from the
kitchen department to the woodshed."

Julia's whole attitude, during this discussion of her recent culinary
experiments, was indicative of the change that was slowly taking place
in her point of view. The Careys had a large sense of humor, from mother
down as far as Peter, who was still in the tadpole stage of it. They
chaffed one another on all occasions, for the most part courteously and
with entire good nature. Leigh Hunt speaks of the anxiety of certain
persons to keep their minds quiet lest any motion be clumsy, and Julia's
concern had been of this variety; but four or five months spent in a
household where mental operations, if not deep, were incredibly quick,
had made her a little more elastic. Mother Carey had always said that if
Julia had any sense of humor she would discover for herself what a
solemn prig she was, and mend her ways, and it seemed as if this might
be true in course of time.

"What'll we do with all the milk?" now demanded Peter, who had carried
it all the way from the Pophams', and to whom it appeared therefore of
exaggerated importance.

"Angel boy!" cried Nancy, embracing him. "The only practical member of
the family! What wouldst thou suggest?"

"Drink it," was the terse reply.

"And so't shall be, my liege! Fetch the beaker, lackey," identifying
Cyril with a royal gesture. "Also crystal water from the well, which by
the command of our Cousin Ann will speedily flow in a pipe within the
castle walls. There are healths to be drunk this day when we assemble
under the Hamilton maple, and first and most loyally the health of our
American Consul at Breslau, Germany!"



If the summer months had brought many changes to the dwellers in the
Yellow House and the House of Lords, the autumn was responsible for many
more. Cousin Ann's improvements were set in motion and were promised to
be in full force before cold weather set in, and the fall term at Beulah
Academy had opened with six new, unexpected, and interesting students.
Happily for the Careys and happily for Beulah, the old principal, a
faithful but uninspired teacher, had been called to Massachusetts to
fill a higher position; and only a few days before the beginning of the
term, a young college man, Ralph Thurston, fresh from Bowdoin and
needing experience, applied for and received the appointment. The thrill
of rapture that ran like an electric current through the persons of the
feminine students when they beheld Ralph Thurston for the first
time,--dignified, scholarly, unmistakably the gentleman,--beheld him
mount the platform in the assembly room, and knew him for their own,
this can better be imagined than described! He was handsome, he was
young, he had enough hair (which their principals seldom had possessed),
he did not wear spectacles, he had a pleasing voice, and a manner of
speaking that sent tremors of delight up and down a thirteen-year-old
spine. He had a merry wit and a hearty laugh, but one had only to look
at him closely to feel that he had borne burdens and that his
attainments had been bought with a price. He was going to be difficult
to please, and the girls of all ages drew deep breaths of anticipation
and knew that they should study as never before. The vice-principal, a
lady of fine attainments, was temporarily in eclipse, and such an
astounding love for the classics swept through young Beulah that nobody
could understand it. Ralph Thurston taught Latin and Greek himself, but
parents did not at first observe the mysterious connection between cause
and effect. It was all very young and artless and innocent; helpful and
stimulating too, for Thurston was no budding ladies' man, but a
thoroughly good fellow, manly enough to attract the boys and hold
their interest.

The entrance of the four Careys and two Lords into the list of students
had an inspiring effect upon the whole school. So far as scholarship was
concerned they were often outstripped by their country neighbors, but
the Careys had seen so much of the world that they had a great deal of
general culture, and the academy atmosphere was affected by it. Olive,
Nancy, and Gilbert went into the highest class; Kathleen, Julia, and
Cyril into the one below.

The intimacy of Nancy and Olive was a romantic and ardent one. Olive had
never had a real companion in her life; Nancy's friends dotted the
universe wherever she had chanced to live. Olive was uncommunicative,
shy, and stiff with all but a chosen few; Nancy was at ease in all
assemblies. It was Nancy's sympathy and enthusiasm and warmth that
attracted Olive Lord, and it was the combination of Olive's genius and
her need of love, that held Nancy.

Never were two human creatures more unlike in their ways of thought.
Olive had lived in Beulah seven years, and knew scarcely any one because
of her father's eccentricities and his indifference to the world; but
had you immured Nancy in a convent she would have made a large circle of
acquaintances from the window of her cell, before a month passed over
her head. She had an ardent interest in her fellow creatures, and
whenever they strayed from the strict path of rectitude, she was
consumed with a desire to set them straight. If Olive had seen a drunken
man lying in a ditch, she would scarcely have looked at him, much less
inquired his name. Nancy would have sat by until he recovered himself,
if possible, or found somebody to take him to his destination. As for
the delightful opportunity of persuading him of his folly, she would
have jumped at the chance when she was fifteen or sixteen, but as she
grew older she observed a little more reticence in these delicate
matters, at least when she was endeavoring to reform her elders. She had
succeeded in making young Nat Harmon stop cigarette smoking, but he was
privately less convinced of the error of his ways than he was bewitched
by Nancy. She promised readily to wear a blue ribbon and sit on the
platform in the Baptist Chapel at the Annual Meeting of the Junior
Temperance League. On the eve of the affair she even would gladly have
made a speech when the president begged her to do so, but the
horror-stricken Olive succeeded in stopping her, and her mother firmly
stood by Olive.

"Oh! all right; I don't care a bit about it, Muddy," she answered
nonchalantly. "Only there is something splendid about rising from a band
of blue-ribboned girls and boys and addressing the multitude for a great
cause." "What do you know about this great cause, Nancy dear, at
your age?"

"Oh, not much! but you don't have to know much if you say it loud and
clear to the back settees. I've watched how it goes! It was thrilling
when we gave 'Esther the Beautiful Queen' in the Town Hall; when we
waved our hands and sang 'Haman! Haman! Long live Haman!' I almost
fainted with joy."

"It was very good; I liked it too; but perhaps if you 'faint with joy'
whenever your feet touch a platform, it will be more prudent for you to
keep away!" and Mother Carey laughed.

"Very well, madam, your will is my law! When you see the youth of Beulah
treading the broad road that leadeth to destruction, and looking on the
wine when it is red in the cup, remember that you withheld my hand
and voice!"

Gilbert and Cyril were much together, particularly after Cyril's
standing had been increased in Beulah by the news that Mr. Thurston
thought him a remarkable mathematician and perhaps the leading student
in his class. Cyril himself, too pale for a country boy of fourteen,
narrow-shouldered, silent, and timid, took this unexpected fame with
absolute terror, but Olive's pride delighted in it and she positively
bloomed, in the knowledge that her brother was appreciated. She herself
secretly thought books were rather a mistake when paints and brushes
were at hand, and it was no wonder that she did not take high rank,
seeing that she painted an hour before school, and all day Saturday,
alternating her work on the guest chamber of the Yellow House with her
portrait of Nancy for Mother Carey's Christmas present.

Kathleen and Julia had fallen into step and were good companions.
Kathleen had never forgotten her own breach of good manners and family
loyalty; Julia always remembered the passion of remorse that Kathleen
felt, a remorse that had colored her conduct to Julia ever since. Julia
was a good plodder, and Mr. Thurston complimented her on the excellence
of her Latin recitations, when he had his wits about him and could
remember that she existed. He never had any difficulty in remembering
Nancy. She was not, it must be confessed, especially admirable as a
_verbatim et literatim_ "reciter." Sometimes she forgot entirely what
the book had said on a certain topic, but she usually had some original
observation of her own to offer by way of compromise. At first Mr.
Thurston thought that she was trying to conceal her lack of real
knowledge, and dazzle her instructor at the same time, so that he should
never discover her ignorance. Later on he found where her weakness and
her strength lay. She adapted, invented, modified things
naturally,--embroidered all over her task, so to speak, and delivered it
in somewhat different shape from the other girls. (When she was twelve
she pricked her finger in sewing and made a blood-stain on the little
white mull apron that she was making. The stuff was so delicate that she
did not dare to attempt any cleansing process, and she was in a great
hurry too, so she embroidered a green four leaf clover over the
bloodstain, and all the family exclaimed, "How like Nancy!") Grammar
teased Nancy, algebra and geometry routed her, horse, foot, and
dragoons. No room for embroidery there! Languages delighted her,
map-drawing bored her, and composition intoxicated her, although she was
better at improvising than at the real task of setting down her thoughts
in black and white. The class chronicles and prophecies and songs and
poems would flow to her inevitably, but Kathleen would be the one who
would give new grace and charm to them if she were to read them to
an audience.

How Beulah Academy beamed, and applauded, and wagged its head in pride
on a certain day before Thanksgiving, when there were exercises in the
assembly room. Olive had drawn The Landing of the Pilgrims on the
largest of the blackboards, and Nancy had written a merry little story
that caused great laughter and applause in the youthful audience.
Gilbert had taken part in a debate and covered himself with glory, and
Kathleen closed the impromptu programme by reciting Tennyson's--

O young Mariner,
You from the haven
Under the sea-cliff,
You that are watching
The gray Magician
With eyes of wonder,...
follow the Gleam.

Great the Master,
And sweet the Magic,
When over the valley,
In early summers,
Over the mountain,
On human faces,
And all around me,
Moving to melody
Floated the Gleam.

O young Mariner,
Down to the haven,
Call your companion,
Launch your vessel
And crowd your canvas,
And, ere it vanishes
Over the margin,
After it, follow it,
Follow the Gleam.

Kathleen's last year's brown velveteen disclosed bronze slippers and
stockings,--a novelty in Beulah,--her hair fell in such curls as Beulah
had rarely beheld, and her voice was as sweet as a thrush's note; so
perhaps it is not strange that the poem set a kind of fashion at the
academy, and "following the gleam" became a sort of text by which to
study and grow and live.

Thanksgiving Day approached, and everybody was praying for a flurry of
snow, just enough to give a zest to turkey and cranberry sauce. On the
twentieth it suddenly occurred to Mother Carey that this typical New
England feast day would be just the proper time for the housewarming, so
the Lord children, the Pophams, and the Harmons were all bidden to come
at seven o'clock in the evening. Great preparations ensued. Rows of Jack
o' Lanterns decorated the piazza, and the Careys had fewer pumpkin pies
in November than their neighbors, in consequence of their extravagant
inroads upon the golden treasures of the aft garden. Inside were a few
late asters and branches of evergreen, and the illumination suggested
that somebody had been lending additional lamps and candles for the
occasion. The original equipment of clothes possessed by the Careys on
their arrival in Beulah still held good, and looked well by lamplight,
so that the toilettes were fully worthy of so important a function.

Olive's picture of Nancy was finished, and she announced the absolute
impossibility of keeping it until Christmas, so it reached the Yellow
House on Thanksgiving morning. When it was unwrapped by Nancy and
displayed for the first time to the family, Mother Carey's lips parted,
her eyes opened in wonder, but no words came for an instant, in the
bewilderment of her mind. Olive had written the title "Young April"
under the picture. Nancy stood on a bit of dandelion-dotted turf, a
budding tree in the background, her arm flung over the neck of a Jersey
calf. The calf had sat for his portrait long before, but Nancy had been
added since May. Olive, by a clever inspiration, had turned Nancy's face
away and painted her with the April breeze blowing her hair across her
cheek. She was not good at painting features, her art was too crude, but
somehow the real thing was there; and the likeness to Nancy, in figure,
pose, and hair, was so unmistakable that her mother caught her breath.
As for the calf, he, at least, was distinctly in Olive's line, and he
was painted with a touch of genius.

"It is better of the calf than it is of you, Nancy," said Gilbert

"Isn't Mr. Bossy lovely?" his sister responded amiably. "Wouldn't he put
any professional beauty out of countenance? I am proud to be painted
beside him! Do you like it, Muddy dear?"

"Like it?" she exclaimed, "it is wonderful! It must be sent to Boston
for criticism, and we must invent some way of persuading Mr. Lord to
give Olive the best instruction to be had. This picture is even better
than anything she has done in the painted chamber. I shouldn't wonder a
bit, Nancy, if little Beulah were to be very proud of Olive in the
years to come!"

Nancy was transported at her mother's praise. "I felt it, I knew it! I
always said Olive was a genius," she cried, clapping her hands. "Olive
is 'following the gleam'! Can't you feel the wind blowing my hair and
dress? Don't you see that the calf is chewing his cud and is going to
move in just a minute? Olive's animals are always just going to
move!--Oh, Muddy dear! when you see Olive nowadays, smiling and busy and
happy, aren't you glad you stretched your wings and took her under them
with the rest of us? And don't you think you could make a 'new beast'
out of Mr. Henry Lord, or is he too old a beast even for Mother Carey?"



That was just what Mother Carey was wondering when Nancy spoke, and as
the result of several hours' reflection she went out for a walk just
before dusk and made her way towards The Cedars with a package under
her cloak.

She followed the long lane that led to the house, and knocked at the
front door rather timidly. In her own good time Mrs. Bangs answered the
knock and admitted Mrs. Carey into the dreariest sitting room she had
ever entered.

"I am Mrs. Carey from the Hamilton house," she said to Mrs. Bangs. "Will
you ask Mr. Lord if he will see me for a moment?"

Mrs. Bangs was stupefied at the request, for, in her time, scarcely a
single caller from the village had crossed the threshold, although there
had been occasional visitors from Portland or Boston.

Mrs. Carey waited a few moments, silently regarding the unequalled
bareness, ugliness, and cheerlessness of the room. "Olive has a sense of
beauty," she thought, "and Olive is sixteen; it is Olive who ought to
make this place different from what it is, and she can, unless her
father is the stumbling-block in the way."

At this moment the possible stumbling-block, Henry Lord, Ph.D., came in
and greeted her civilly. His manner was never genial, for there was
neither love in his heart nor warm blood in his veins; but he was
courteous, for he was an educated fossil, of good birth and up-bringing.
He had been dissecting specimens in his workroom, and he looked capable
of dismembering Mother Carey; but bless your heart, she had weapons in
her unseen armory that were capable of bringing confusion to his paltry
apparatus!--among others a delicate, slender little sword that pierced
deep on occasion.

Henry Lord was of medium height; spare, clean-shaven, thin-lipped, with
scanty auburn hair, high forehead, and small keen eyes, especially
adapted to the microscope, though ill fitted to use in friendly

"We are neighbors, Professor Lord, though we have never met," said Mrs.
Carey, rising and giving him her hand.

"My children know you better than I," he answered, "and I feel it very
kind in you to allow them to call on you so frequently." They had lived
at the Yellow House for four months save at meal times, but as their
father was unaware of the number and extent of their visits Mrs. Carey
thought it useless to speak of them, so she merely said:

"It is a great pleasure to have them with us. My children have left many
friends behind them in Massachusetts and elsewhere, and might have been
lonely in Beulah; besides, I often think the larger the group (within
certain limits), the better chance children have of learning how
to live."

"I should certainly not have permitted Olive and Cyril to attend the
local academy but for your family," said Professor Lord. "These country
schools never have any atmosphere of true scholarliness, and the speech
and manners of both teachers and pupils are execrable."

"I dare say that is often the case. If the academies could furnish such
teachers as existed fifty years ago; and alas! if we parents could
furnish such vigorous, determined, ambitious, self-denying pupils as
used to be sent out from country homes, we should have less to complain
of. Of course we are peculiarly fortunate here in Beulah."

Mr. Lord looked faintly amused and infinitely superior. "I am afraid, my
dear lady," he remarked, "that you have not had long enough experience
to comprehend the slenderness of Mr. Philpot's mental equipment."

"Oh, Mr. Philpot resigned nearly three months ago," said Mrs. Carey
easily, giving Henry Lord, Ph.D., her first stab, and a look of
amusement on her own behalf. "Ralph Thurston, the present principal, is
a fine, unusual fellow."

"Really? The children have never mentioned any change, but I regret to
say I am absent-minded at meals. The death of my wife left many gaps in
the life of the household."

"So that you have to be mother and father in one!" (Stab two: very
delicately delivered.)

"I fear I am too much of a student to be called a good family man."

"So I gathered." (Stab three. She wanted to provoke curiosity.)

Mr. Lord looked annoyed. He knew his unpopularity, and did not wish any
village gossip to reach the ears of strangers. "You, my dear madam, are
capable of appreciating my devotion to my life work, which the neighbors
naturally wholly misunderstand," he said.

"I gathered nothing from the neighbors," responded Mrs. Carey, "but a
woman has only to know children well to see at a glance what they need.
You are so absorbed in authorship just now, that naturally it is a
little hard for the young people; but I suppose there are breathing
places, 'between books'?"

"There are no breathing places between mine; there will be six volumes,
and I am scarcely half through the third, although I have given seven
years to the work. Still, I have an excellent housekeeper who attends to
all our simple needs. My children are not fitted for society."

"No, not quite." (Stab four). "That is the reason they ought to see a
good deal of it, but they are very fine children and very clever."

"I am glad you think so, but they certainly write bad English and have
no general knowledge whatsoever."

"Oh, well, that will come, doubtless, when you have more time with
them." (Stab five.) "I often think such mysterious things as good speech
and culture can never be learned in school. I shouldn't wonder if that
were our department, Dr. Lord!" (Stab six.) "However, you will agree,
modest parent as you are, that your Olive is a genius?"

"I have never observed it," replied her father. "I cannot, of course,
allow her to practice on any musical instrument, because my studies
demand quiet, but I don't think she cares for music."

"She draws and paints, however, in the most astonishing way, and she has
a passionate energy, and concentration, and devotion to her work that I
have never seen coupled with anything but an extraordinary talent. She
is destined to go very far, in my opinion."

"Not too far, I hope," remarked Mr. Lord, with an icy smile. "Olive can
paint on plush and china as much as she likes, but I am not partial to
'careers' for young women."

"Nor am I; save when the gift is so commanding, so obvious, that it has
to be reckoned with;--but I must not delay my business any longer, nor
keep you from your work. We are having a housewarming this evening at
seven. Olive and Cyril are there now, helping in the preparations, and I
want to know if they may stay to supper, and if you can send for them at
half past nine or ten."

"Certainly they may stay, though I should think your supper table could
hardly stand the strain."

"Where there are five already, two more make no difference, save in
better appetite for all," said Mother Carey, smiling and rising.

"If you will allow me to get my hat and coat I will accompany you to the
main road," said Mr. Lord, going to the front hall, and then opening the
door for Mrs. Carey. "Let me take your parcel, please."

He did not know in the least why he said it and why he did it. The lady
had interfered with his family affairs to a considerable extent, and had
made several remarks that would have appeared impertinent, had they not
issued from a very winsome, beautiful mouth. Mrs. Ossian Popham or Mrs.
Bill Harmon would have been shown the door for saying less, yet here was
Henry Lord, Ph.D., ambling down the lane by Mother Carey's side,
thinking to himself what a burden she lifted from his shoulders by her
unaccountable interest in his unattractive children. He was also
thinking how "springy" was the lady's step in her short black dress, how
brilliant the chestnut hair looked under the black felt hat, and how
white the skin gleamed above the glossy lynx boa. A kind of mucilaginous
fluid ran in his veins instead of blood, but Henry Lord, Ph.D., had his
assailable side nevertheless, and he felt extraordinarily good natured,
almost as if the third volume were finished, with public and publishers
clamoring for its appearance.

"I don't know where Olive could have got any such talent as you
describe," he said, as they were walking along the lane. "She had some
lessons long ago, I remember, and her mother used to talk of her amusing
herself with pencil and paint, but I have heard nothing of it
for years."

"Ask to see her sketches when you are talking with her about her work
some day," suggested Mother Carey. (Stab seven.) "As a matter of fact
she probably gets her talent from you."

"From me!" Printed letters fail to register the amazement in Professor
Lord's tone.

"Why not, when you consider her specialty?"

"_What_ specialty?"

Really, a slender sword was of no use with this man; a bludgeon was the
only instrument, yet it might wound, and she only wanted to prick. Had
the creature never seen Olive sketching, nor noted her choice
of subjects?

"She paints animals; paints nothing else, if she can help it; though she
does fairly well with other things. Is it impossible that your study of
zoology--your thought, your absorption for years and years, in the
classification, the structure, the habits of animals--may have been
stamped on your child's mind? She has an ardor equal to your own, only
showing itself in a different manner. You may have passed on, in some
mysterious way, your knowledge to Olive. She may have unconsciously
blended it with some instinct for expression of her own, and it comes
out in pictures. Look at this, Professor Lord. Olive gave it to
me to-day."

They stood together at the gate leading out into the road, and Mrs.
Carey unwrapped the painting and poised it against the top of the gate.

Olive's father looked at it for a moment and then said, "I am no judge
of these things, technically or otherwise, but it certainly seems very
creditable work for a girl of Olive's age."

"Oh, it is surely more than that! My girl Nancy stands there in the
flesh, though her face is hidden. Look at the wind blowing, look at the
delightful, the enchanting calf; above all look at the title! Who in the
world but a little genius could have composed that sketch, breathing
youth in every inch of it,--and called it 'Young April'! Oh! Professor
Lord, I am very bold, because your wife is not living, and it is women
who oftenest see these budding tendencies in children; forgive me, but
do cherish and develop this talent of Olive's."

The eyes the color of the blue velvet bonnet were turned full upon Henry
Lord, Ph.D. They swam in tears and the color came and went in her cheek;
she was forty, but it was a lovely cheek still.

"I will think it over," he replied with some embarrassment as he wrapped
the picture again and handed it to her. "Meantime I am certainly very
much obliged to you. You seem to have an uncommon knowledge of young
people. May I ask if you are, or have been, a teacher?" "Oh, no!" Mrs.
Carey remarked with a smile, "I am just a mother,--that's all!
Good night."



The housewarming was at its height, and everybody agreed once in every
ten minutes that it was probably the most beautiful party that had ever
happened in the history of the world.

Water flowed freely through Cousin Ann's expensive pipes, that had been
buried so deep in their trenches that the winter frosts could not affect
them. Natty Harmon tried the kitchen pump secretly several times during
the evening, for the water had to run up hill all the way from the well
to the kitchen sink, and he believed this to be a continual miracle that
might "give out" at any moment. The stove in the cellar, always alluded
to by Gilbert as the "young furnace," had not yet been used, save by way
of experiment, but it was believed to be a perfect success. To-night
there was no need of extra heat, and there were great ceremonies to be
observed in lighting the fires on the hearthstones. They began with the
one in the family sitting room; Colonel Wheeler, Ralph Thurston, Mr. and
Mrs. Bill Harmon with Natty and Rufus, Mr. and Mrs. Popham with Digby
and Lallie Joy, all standing in admiring groups and thrilling with
delight at the order of events. Mother Carey sat by the fireplace;
little Peter, fairly radiant with excitement, leaning against her knee
and waiting for his own great moment, now close at hand.

"_When ye come into a house, salute it; and if the house be worthy, let
your peace come upon it_.

"_To all those who may dwell therein from generation to generation may
it be a house of God, a gate of heaven_.

"_For every house is builded by some man, but he that built all things
is God, seeing that he giveth to every one of us life and breath and all
good things_."

Mother Carey spoke these words so simply and naturally, as she looked
towards her neighbors one after another, with her hand resting on
Peter's curly head, that they hardly knew whether to keep quiet or
say Amen.

"Was that the Bible, Osh?" whispered Bill Harmon.

"Don't know; 'most everything she says sounds like the Bible or
Shakespeare to me."

In the hush that followed Mother Carey's salutation Gilbert approached
with a basket over his arm, and quickly and neatly laid a little fire
behind the brass andirons on the hearth. Then Nancy handed Peter a
loosely bound sheaf, saying: "To light this fire I give you a torch. In
it are herbs of the field for health of the body, a fern leaf for grace,
a sprig of elm for peace, one of oak for strength, with evergreen to
show that we live forever in the deeds we have done. To these we have
added rosemary for remembrance and pansies for thoughts."

Peter crouched on the hearth and lighted the fire in three places, then
handed the torch to Kathleen as he crept again into his mother's lap,
awed into complete silence by the influence of his own mystic rite.
Kathleen waved the torch to and fro as she recited some beautiful lines
written for some such purpose as that which called them
together to-night.

"Burn, fire, burn!
Flicker, flicker, flame!
Whose hand above this blaze is lifted
Shall be with touch of magic gifted,
To warm the hearts of chilly mortals
Who stand without these open portals.
The touch shall draw them to this fire,
Nigher, nigher,
By desire.
Whoso shall stand on this hearth-stone,
Shall never, never stand alone.
Whose home is dark and drear and old,
Whose hearth is cold,
This is his own.
Flicker, flicker, flicker, flame!
Burn, fire, burn!"[1]

[Footnote 1: Florence Converse.]

Next came Olive's turn to help in the ceremonies. Ralph Thurston had
found a line of Latin for them in his beloved Horace: _Tibi splendet
focus_ (For you the hearth-fire shines). Olive had painted the motto on
a long narrow panel of canvas, and, giving it to Mr. Popham, stood by
the fireside while he deftly fitted it into the place prepared for it.
The family had feared that he would tell a good story when he found
himself the centre of attraction, but he was as dumb as Peter, and for
the same reason.

"Olive has another lovely gift for the Yellow House," said Mother Carey,
rising, "and to carry out the next part of the programme we shall have
to go in procession upstairs to my bedroom."

"Guess there wan't many idees to give round to other folks after the
Lord made _her_!" exclaimed Bill Harmon to his wife as they went through
the lighted hall.

Gilbert, at the head of the procession, held Mother Hamilton's picture,
which had been taken from the old brick oven where "my son Tom" had
hidden it. Mother Carey's bedroom, with its bouquets of field flowers on
the wall paper, was gaily lighted and ready to receive the gift. Nancy
stood on a chair and hung the portrait over the fireplace, saying, "We
place this picture here in memory of Agatha, mother of Lemuel Hamilton,
owner of the Yellow House. Underneath it we lay a posy of pressed
daisies, buttercups, and Queen Anne's lace, the wild flowers she
loved best."

Now Olive took away a green garland covering the words "_Mater Cara_,"
that she had painted in brown letters just over the bricks of the
fireplace. The letters were in old English text, and a riot of
buttercups and grasses twined their way amongst them.

"_Mater Cara_ stands for 'mother dear,'" said Nancy, "and thus this room
will be full of memories of two dear mothers, an absent and a
present one."

Then Kathleen and Gilbert and Julia, Mother Carey and Peter bowed their
heads and said in chorus: "_O Thou who dwellest in so many homes,
possess thyself of this. Thou who settest the solitary in families,
bless the life that is sheltered here. Grant that trust and peace and
comfort may abide within, and that love and light and usefulness may go
out from this house forever. Amen_."

There was a moment's silence and then all the party descended the stairs
to the dining room.

"Ain't they the greatest?" murmured Lallie Joy, turning to her father,
but he had disappeared from the group.

The dining room was a blaze of glory, and great merriment ensued as they
took their places at the table. Mother Carey poured coffee, Nancy
chocolate, and the others helped serve the sandwiches and cake,
doughnuts and tarts.

"Where is Mr. Popham?" asked Nancy at the foot of the table. "We cannot
be happy without Mr. Popham."

At that moment the gentleman entered, bearing a huge object concealed by
a piece of green felt. Approaching the dining table, he carefully placed
the article in the centre and removed the cloth.

It was the Dirty Boy, carefully mended!

The guests naturally had no associations with the Carey Curse, and the
Careys themselves were dumb with amazement and despair.

"I've seen this thing layin' in the barn chamber in a thousand pieces
all summer!" explained Mr. Popham radiantly. "It wan't none o' my
business if the family throwed it away thinkin' it wan't no more good.
Thinks I to myself, I never seen anything Osh Popham couldn't mend if he
took time enough and glue enough; so I carried this little feller home
in a bushel basket one night last month, an' I've spent eleven evenin's
puttin' him together! I don't claim he's good 's new, 'cause he ain't;
but he's consid'able better'n he was when I found him layin' in the
barn chamber!"

"Thank you, Mr. Popham!" said Mrs. Carey, her eyes twinkling as she
looked at the laughing children. "It was kind of you to spend so much
time in our behalf."

"Well, I says to myself there's nothin' too good for 'em, an' when it
comes Thanksgivin' I'll give 'em one thing more to be thankful for!"

"Quit talkin', Pop, will yer?" whispered Digby, nudging his father.
"You've kep' us from startin' to eat 'bout five minutes a'ready, an' I'm
as holler as a horn!"

It was as cheery, gay, festive, neighborly, and friendly a supper as
ever took place in the dining room of the Yellow House, although
Governor Weatherby may have had some handsomer banquets in his time.

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