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Strawberry Acres by Grace S. Richmond

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"You might get Sally a circus tent," she cried. "As big as this
dining-room! Why, Jarve--"

"She wants the whole family with her," explained Jarvis, with composure.
"That means the tent must be divided off into rooms. And she must have
one section for a living-room. I'm going to have a floor made--the
carpenter will go out in the morning, if he keeps his word. By quick work
we ought to be able to take her out there to-morrow night, but allowing
for delays, the next evening will have to do. Mother, have we any cots?"

"I'm afraid we have no cots. There are two single-width white iron beds
in the attic--"

"All the better. May I have them?"

"I wonder you stop to ask permission of anybody for anything," observed
Josephine. "Mother, have you seen Jarvis look so waked up since he put
on goggles?"

Mrs. Burnside smiled. She was very glad to see her son so interested,
although she felt decidedly doubtful as to the way in which the Lanes
would take his interference in their affairs. Still, as Jarvis had
urged, people who have been friends from childhood, with an old family
friendship of fathers and grandfathers behind them, should have some
rights when it comes to matters so important. And if anybody could manage
Max's proud and intolerant temper, Jarvis, with his quiet firmness,
should be the one. Josephine, also, was of the make-up which can fight
for that which seems right. Between them, if they could not put the thing
through, it would be rather remarkable.

"Joey, will you and mother drive out with me this evening and decide on
where to put the tent?" Jarvis rose from the table, after having made a
hasty meal which did not include any superfluous courses.

"Of course I will." Josephine pushed aside her dessert.

"I will stay at home and look up blankets and bedding," announced Mrs.
Burnside. "Have you thought of the cooking question? Shall we try to
supply the utensils?"

"If you can spare them, mother. I'll buy what you can't contribute. I've
bargained for a little gasolene stove and a small tent for a kitchen. As
for the cooking, is that specimen they have in the flat now good enough
to import to the camp?"

"She's pretty poor. I had luncheon there yesterday with Sally."
Josephine's face spoke louder than her words.

"Mother, could you spare Joanna for a week or two, till they can find
somebody? She can cook almost as well as Sarah, you know. She cooked for
me last fall, when you were away and Sarah was taken ill."

Jarvis's mother looked at him doubtfully. "I think you had better not go
as far as that. Be content with supplying the tent and its equipment, and
see how Max and Alec take it. The young girl they have now will do for a
time, surely."

"All right--if you think that's the better plan. Ready, Sis?"

Jarvis put the gray mare through her paces, and there was still an hour
of daylight left when he and Josephine reached the pine grove.

"It's ten degrees cooler out here than it is in town at this hour,"
declared Jarvis, with satisfaction. He pushed up the goggles and lowered
them again quickly. Even the subdued light in the grove, at a point where
the setting sun did not penetrate, was too much for his eyes. "Confound
the things!" he exploded. "Shall I ever be anything again but an owl in
daylight? Well, where shall the tent go?"

"Over there," replied Josephine, promptly. "There's just one perfect
spot for it--on the top of that little rise, looking toward the south,
and away from the grove."

"Right you are. But the trees are too thick."

He pulled out a foot-rule and began to measure. Presently he announced
the result: "One tree, this little fellow, will have to come down."

"Do you dare?"

"Of course I dare. Where can I get an axe?"

Josephine glanced toward the house. Then she thought of the Ferry
cottage. "The little house beyond the hedge--I know the people--at least,
I've met one of them. Shall we go and ask?"

Jarvis was already hurrying toward a distant gap in the hedge. "I'll go!"
he called back.

In two minutes he reappeared. With him was a sturdy figure. Josephine
recognized the broad shoulders, the thick reddish-brown hair, the gleam
of the hazel eyes. She nodded at Donald Ferry, noting that he was not now
clad in a gray flannel shirt, but in one of white, with a low collar and
silk neck-tie, similar to Jarvis's--hot-weather dress with an urban air
about it. He carried an axe.

"Thank you," said Jarvis, when they had reached the spot which Josephine
had designated. He held out his hand for the axe.

Ferry shook his head, smiling. "Which is the tree?" he inquired.

"Give me the axe, please," repeated Jarvis. "There's no reason why you
should chop down trees for us on a sweltering night like this."

"It won't make me swelter as much as it will you," asserted Ferry
retaining his hold on the axe. "I'm an old woodman. Come, show me the
tree, or I'll chop at a venture. Miss Burnside?"

Josephine pointed out the tree. Ferry lifted the axe and swung it, and it
sank deeply into the trunk. Another blow; it struck the same spot.
Another and another, with an unerring aim. "You are a woodman," admitted
Jarvis, admiringly, watching the powerful swing and the telling blows.

Ferry laughed, without abating the vigour of his work. "There's no better
out-door fun that I know of," said he, "than chopping down a tree. I
couldn't think of missing this chance."



"Sally, will you and Max go for a drive with us? It will cool you off for
sleep." Josephine stood looking in on them, herself in white from head to
foot, a refreshing sight for tired eyes to rest upon.

Sally drew herself up eagerly upon her couch pillows. Max yawned and
stretched in the chair in which he had been half asleep.

"Oh, it would be so good to get out!" Sally rose unsteadily to her feet.

Max rubbed his eyes. "Sally can go. I think I'll go to bed. Much

"Please go, Max. We want you very much, and it's too hot here to sleep."

"He's worn out," explained Sally. "But the drive will rest you, boy,"
she insisted.

"Jarvis is driving. He has something to talk over with you," urged

Max unwillingly put on his coat. He felt tired enough. He had never known
so trying a period of work as that which had been driving him now for
weeks at the bank, with this accompaniment of intense heat which made his
labours seem doubly hard. He gave Sally his arm, down the stairs,
wondering if she felt much weaker than he did, and reflecting that in one
thing she had the advantage over him--she need not work until she should
feel fit. As for himself, he must work, fit or not.

The rest of Sally's family were out. She had been sending them away
nightly to sit in the park by the river bank, allowing only one to remain
with her. Although she had been at home nearly a week, it was difficult
for them to see that she had made any gain in acquiring strength. Each
evening Bob and Uncle Timothy searched the daily paper in vain for
prophecy of change in the weather, and each morning they eyed the flags
upon a certain tall building with a distinct sense of resentment toward
them for persistently indicating "Fair and dry."

"Good! Delighted to be able to lure you out!" called Jarvis, from his
driver's seat. Although it was evening, he wore his goggles, on account
of the myriad bright lights of this down-town district, and they shone
upon his guests like welcoming lamps above his satisfied smile.

"Tired out, old fellow?" he asked Max, as he wheeled the horses about.

"Absolutely done. This heat is the worst I ever knew. The place where my
desk stands is the hottest corner in the hottest bank in the hottest city
in the universe!"

"This certainly has been the worst day yet. That's why I thought you
might like to get out into the country."

"Don't care where I go," said Max. "Excuse me if I shut my eyes and keep
quiet. I haven't energy enough to say any more for a mile."

"All right. Shut your eyes, and I'll tell you when to open them."

Max turned sidewise in his seat, rested his elbow on the back, propped
his head upon his hand, closed his eyes, and appeared to slumber. Jarvis
drove on silently, noting with pleasure the subdued murmur of talk going
on behind him, where Sally, after a long and lonely day, was enjoying the
chance to visit with her friend. The girl lay back against the luxurious
padding of the Burnside carriage, resting and drinking in the refreshing
sense of coolness caused more by the motion than by a greatly lowered
temperature, for the evening was very warm. Presently, however, as they
left the city and turned out upon a country road, the lessening heat and
freer stirring of the air became distinctly perceptible.

A passing stream of automobiles, setting out for some scene of festivity
at a popular resort several miles away, roused Max from his lethargy with
their tooting horns and brilliant lights. "Lucky ducks!" he muttered, in
surly tones. "They can always stir up a breeze."

"They're not the only ones who can stir up breezes," rejoined Jarvis.
"I'm about to stir up one myself."

"I should think you'd own a runabout," remarked Max.

"Perhaps I will some day--when you people get to living out here."

Max looked about him. "Headed for the farm, are we? You seem to have a
fancy for this road."

"It's the prettiest outside the city. Look here, Max"--he lowered his
voice, that Sally might not catch a word of the coming talk--"I want
to own up to something. I've been taking liberties with your place
out here."

Jarvis pulled off his goggles and turned his eyes upon his companion. Max
yawned once more--it was the last time he yawned that evening. From that
moment he became thoroughly awake.

"Well, what is it?" he asked. "Had the house painted and moved in?"

"Not quite so bad as that. I've put up a tent in your grove and
moved out."

Max stared. "_What_?"

"Let's keep our voices low for a bit," urged Jarvis. "I want to surprise
Sally. I knew if I asked your permission to camp in your grove you'd
give it to me without a minute's hesitation, so, banking on your
generosity, I took possession. I wanted to surprise you all. It struck
me that every last one of you needed an outing, and I thought if you
found a tent all in order out here, perhaps you'd like to try camping
through this hot spell."

Max was still staring. Jarvis faced him silently, straining his eyes in
the darkness to see what manner of expression might be discovered upon
the face beside him, showing so whitely through the obscurity. Max did
not reply for the space of a full minute. When he did it was not
necessary for Jarvis to strain his eyes to make out the expression. He
could tell what it was quite without seeing it.

"It may be the proper thing to bank on a person's generosity," said Max,
in a tone of deep displeasure, "but as a rule I think it pays to consult
a man before you take possession of his property."

Now this speech was highly characteristic and therefore not unexpected.
Nevertheless, it made Jarvis Burnside feel exceedingly like kicking his
friend violently from his seat into the road. For a moment, all he could
command himself to do was to tighten his grip on his horses and send them
at a considerably accelerated pace along the smooth turnpike. When he
spoke, however, it was with no change from the quiet good humour of his
former tone.

"You don't mean just that, with an old friend like me. Mother and Jo are
with me in this attempt at a pleasant surprise. They will be tremendously
hurt if you get up on your dignity and take it this way. We knew you had
no time to be arranging camps, here or anywhere else, yet we saw you
working yourself to death, and Sally needing to get out of the heat--"

"I understand. Jo talked this thing at me the last time we were out
here. It's a trick to get round my refusal to live here. You think you
can get in an entering wedge. It's no use won't live out here. It's
nonsense, and--"

Sally's voice interrupted from behind: "Max, isn't this glorious? Don't
you feel like a new person? We must be almost at the farm. Just think, I
haven't seen the farm since April, before a leaf was out!"

But Josephine, who understood the situation, and was anxious to prevent
any interference with the conversation now going on upon the front seat,
promptly drew Sally back to their own interview.

"Max, listen to me." Jarvis spoke in a still lower voice. "Do one thing
for the sake of my pride, if not for yours. I may have blundered, but
you know I didn't mean to. I thought I could count on your understanding
my motives. But anyhow, just for to-night, give way to my schemes, and
don't let the others see that you're offended with us. If after a night
here you still honestly think I'm a fool and a meddler, I won't say
another word--"

"A night here! Do you expect to keep us here all night?"

"Why not?"

"You must think I'm--"

"I think you're a reasonable being and a kind-hearted brother. If Sally
likes the plan and wants to stay, let her. If she doesn't, I'll
cheerfully take you both home. Mother's here to welcome us and make the
thing proper, and we've all planned to stay. Think of the oven your flat
is to-night. Come, be good, and you'll be cool!"

"Do you realize you're treating me like a small boy?"

"I feel rather like one myself--one who has stolen a cake out of the
pantry and is in danger of a thrashing," was Jarvis's whimsical
admission. "See here. I'll give you leave to take it out of me all you
like. I'll agree to meet you at midnight in the timber tract, and take
whatever you see fit to administer--provided you'll keep in before the
rest. What do you say?" In making this preposterous proposition he was
apparently perfectly serious.

It was as Mrs. Burnside had said. If anybody could manage Max's proud
stubbornness, it was Jarvis, with his cool command of himself and his
inborn habit of courtesy to everybody. Yet even Jarvis had his hands full
to-night. Max's physical condition of fatigue and overwrought nerves made
him more than ordinarily captious and difficult to handle.

"Confound you, you've got me in a corner!" he muttered. "That's what I
don't like. If you had come out in the open with your plans--"

"You'd have refused me."

"You just said you counted on my generosity. If you were so sure of it,
why didn't you ask for it?"

Jarvis laughed. "Oh, be reasonable! Don't you let people plot, at
Christmas time and on birthdays, to take you by surprise? You hardly
call it not being in the open because they don't ask your permission to
present you with a house-jacket or a fountain-pen!"

The horses trotted briskly on, quiet ensuing behind them for a little
while. Max fell into a sulky silence; Sally into a happy one, as she
leaned out, watching for the final turn in the road before the pines
should come into sight. Jarvis was wondering just how Max would behave,
and hoping that Sally's pleasure would blind her eyes to her brother's
dissatisfaction. He was counting a good deal on the impression his camp
would make. As he thought it would look in the moonlight, with a little
camp fire before it, it seemed to him it must appeal to anybody.

Sally gave a little cry. "There's the grove! How big and dark it looms up
at night! I can smell it before I get near it--in my imagination. I've
been smelling it all these hot days, and longing for it. Oh, what's that
at the back? Didn't you see a flash of something?"

Sally was fairly hanging out of the carriage, her gaze feasting on the
cool depths of gloom under the tall trees, when she caught sight of the
little leaping flames of the camp fire.

"Somebody must be in there," agreed Josephine. "Perhaps it's Mr. Ferry,
who lives next door, in the white cottage. Remember my telling you about
him? Max gave him leave to inhabit the grove all he liked."

"Everything's so dry, he might set it on fire," considered Sally

"You won't fear any such carelessness on his part when you see him,"
Josephine assured her confidently.

The carriage turned in at the gate. In another minute it had reached a
point where the tent began to show from behind a clump of bushes. Sally's
hand clutched Max's shoulder. Her brother was ill-humouredly surveying
the signs of occupancy of the debatable ground.

"Why, there's a tent there!" she cried. "A big tent, and some one in
front! Who is it--do you know?" She turned excitedly to Josephine; then
she touched Jarvis's shoulder. "I seem to be doing all the exclaiming,"
she declared. "You people must know about this. Is it--is it a

"It seems to be," replied Jarvis, turning to see her face, as the
fire-light struck it, aglow with wonder and anticipation.

Josephine caught her hand. "It's on your land, Sally dear," she said. "Do
you mind?"

"Did it ever strike you," said Jarvis, quickly, in Max's ear, "that this
_is_ Sally's land, and Alec's, and Bob's, quite as much as yours?"

Mrs. Burnside came out to greet the party, and Sally tumbled into her
welcoming arms, hugging her frantically, and pulling away from her again
to look about her. She seemed a different girl from the limp and languid
one who had climbed into the carriage an hour before.

"Isn't it absolutely enchanting?" she exclaimed, gazing eagerly into the
big tent, the open flaps of which showed an outer room arranged with
rugs, chairs, couch, and table. Other open flaps at the corners of this
outer enclosure invited exploration, and Sally promptly obeyed the
summons. She found four smaller rooms, securely partitioned by high,
tightly stretched canvas walls. She came back beaming.

"What does it all mean?" she begged. "Are we to stay here to-night? Was
there ever anything so inviting as those beds and cots? I could hardly
keep from falling into one of them."

"You may fall into one as soon as you choose," said Josephine,
gleefully. "The one on the southeast corner is yours, the one with the
blue Japanese rug on the floor and the wicker chair with the blue
cushion. We've sent a telephone message to the rest of your family, so
they won't expect you back."

Jarvis, returning with Max from the bestowal of his horses in the barn,
found his mother and the two girls sitting in a row upon a rustic seat
at a little distance from the tent, their faces toward the camp fire, now
a mere flicker, which nobody had taken the trouble to revive. It was too
hot a night for camp fires, except as welcoming beacons.

"Well?" questioned Jarvis, standing before the three, upon whom the
bright midsummer moonlight streamed so luminously that the white figures
were visible in every detail.

"Well?" responded Josephine.

"Very well, I think," added Mrs. Burnside.

"More than well!" And Sally clasped her hands in a way both
characteristic and eloquent. "A dozen tonics couldn't have made me feel
so much stronger as the notion of sleeping in that big white tent. I
wish I knew just what the thermometer says it is in the flat at home.
Oh, poor Uncle Timmy, and Bob and Alec! How I wish they were here--don't
you, Max?"

It would have taken a harder heart than that which beat wearily in Max's
breast to allow him to answer his sister sullenly.

"You like it, Sally?" he asked, taking a position where the moonlight did
not illumine his face.

"Like it!" she exclaimed. "Jo says we're to stay if you are willing--live
in this tent, and have the others out, and Mary Ann Flinders! We won't
need Mary Ann long. I'll be strong enough myself to cook in another week.
Oh, wasn't it dear and kind of these people to plan this for us?"

What could he do or say against it all without seeming a churl and an
ingrate? But before he could formulate the inwardly grudging yet
outwardly appreciative reply he felt forced to make, Jarvis himself had
interposed with a flow of lively talk, explaining to Sally various
details of arrangement, and sparing Max the necessity of making any
insincere speeches. And the next thing that happened was the setting
forth by Josephine, on the table in the tent's outer room, of a light but
tempting supper, brought from home in a hamper--the product of no Mary
Ann Flinders, but of the Burnside cook.

"Mm--mm!" The soft but eloquent sound came from Sally's closed lips when
she had taken her first taste of a sandwich of unknown but delicious
compound. "Was ever anything so good? Max, boy, please try one, quick!
What is this perfect drink, Joey?--how it does go to the spot! Oh, if you
are all half as happy as Sally Lunn, you don't know how to express it!"

"We're even happier," said Josephine, laughing softly, "for it seems at
last as if we have Sally Lunn back."

Jarvis had hard work to keep his own pleasure properly subdued. He sat
just across the table from Max, and the light from two candles shone
revealingly into his satisfied face. He put on his goggles to screen his
eyes, hoping that they might assist in concealing his content. Until Max
gave in and agreed to it all, it would never do to let anybody but Sally
crow with delight.

Mrs. Burnside insisted on an early bedtime for Sally, and the
convalescent reluctantly admitted that not even joy was wholly
sustaining to such weakness of limb as was still hers. So she submitted,
with a sigh of appreciation, to being tucked away in the bed in the
southeast enclosure of the tent, and soon was lying peacefully there,
watching through her open tent-flap the moonlight as it lay on the open
lawn, beyond the vista of trees. The air was now stirring refreshingly
through the grove, and Sally, under the thinnest of light summer
blankets, was absolutely comfortable and restful, as she had not been
for many weary nights.

In the adjoining room, Max was asleep in two minutes after he had
stretched himself upon his cot. Outside, by the embers of the camp fire,
Jarvis and Josephine exchanged a brief conversation.

"Is he taking it worse or better than you expected?" Josephine asked, in
the lowest of whispers.

"He took it like the bumptious idiot he can be, at first. He's a trifle
calmer now. I'm hoping by morning he'll be reasonable."

"Don't you think he must see the beauty of it when he looks at Sally?"

"One would think so. I suppose we mustn't blame him too much, for he
certainly is worn out with work in this heat, and isn't himself. If he'll
only be sensible, the staying here will do him as much good as it will
Sally. She is pleased isn't she?"

"Pleased doesn't express it. But she thinks it's all my doing."

"Don't let her think anything else. It was your suggestion, and you've
done half the work."

"It was Mr. Ferry's suggestion. Did you know he put up that rustic bench
out there this afternoon? Made it out of the tree he chopped down."

"I didn't stop to wonder how it came there. I wonder if Max noticed it? I
suppose he will think that was more of our impudence. It was kind of
Ferry, though. He'll be a good neighbour for them."

"Oh, Jarvis, how I wish we could all stay here, too!"

Her brother gave vent to a curious little ejaculation, whether of
agreement or dissent she could not tell. "Of course we can't," he
said shortly.

"Perhaps Max will come round and ask us to put up another tent for

"Not much he won't. Never mind, I'm satisfied if he submits to this."

When Max opened his eyes the next morning it was difficult for him to
realize where he was. He lay staring at the flecks of sunlight on the
pine-needle-strewn ground, wondering how it happened that he had not
wakened in damp discomfort from hot and perspiring slumbers. Before he
felt himself fully awake he was conscious of a voice a few feet away,

"Oh, Mr. Ferry, how kind of you! What splendid strawberries! Out of
your own garden? You must be an accomplished gardener." It was
Josephine's voice.

"Only a novice, but I'm rather proud of these. I hope the first night was
a comfortable one?"

"Perfect! Our friends are still sleeping--though they won't be long if I
shout like this."

"I've been up so long I didn't realize it was barely seven o'clock. But
I wanted to make sure of your having these for the first camp breakfast.
I'll disappear now, and perhaps I can venture to appear again, later in
the day, with my mother. We want to offer our services as neighbours from
whom anything, from axes to apricots, can be borrowed."

Max could hear Josephine's low laugh echoed by a small ecstatic chuckle
from the other side of the canvas wall which separated his head from
Sally's. Her whisper came from very near his ear:

"Max, are you awake? Did you hear what Jo said? We're to have fresh
strawberries, right out of a garden, for breakfast. Aren't you glad
you're alive?"

Where was his ill-temper? He felt for it, in the recesses of his inner
man, and couldn't seem to find it. He had had nine long hours of
refreshing sleep, in the purest air to be found in the country, and had
wakened with a sense of refreshment and well-being such as he had not
experienced in many months. A faint, but appetizing, odour of cookery,
including that of fragrant coffee, was in the air, and there were to be
freshly picked strawberries for breakfast. And on the other side of the
tent wall was a happy young convalescent, demanding of him whether it
was not good to be alive. He found himself answering, in a genuinely
cheerful tone:

"I'm certainly mighty glad you're alive, Sally Lunn!"



"Bobby, let's have a garden, you and I." Bob looked up from the front of
the tent platform, where he sat polishing a pair of much-worn russet
shoes. Riding back and forth, nights and mornings, on a bicycle, over
very dusty roads, made it necessary to polish often. But Bob didn't mind.
The two weeks of camp life he had enjoyed had made him indifferent to any
extra trouble involved.

"Looks as if you had a garden somewhere," he responded, eyeing with
favour the pailful of red raspberries Sally held up. "You must have got
up with the lark, to have picked all those. Mary Ann hasn't more than
started the fire in the kitchen tent. I had to go and help her. That girl
doesn't know how to boil an egg. She cracks it getting it in. Her coffee
is a thick, dark, wicked looking stuff. What do you suppose she does to
it?" he asked in a whisper.

"Never mind. I'm growing stronger every minute, and mean to begin to
cook, next week."

"Thank goodness!" murmured Bob. "I mean," he explained quickly, "that
I'm thankful you're well enough."

Sally laughed, pulled off her wide straw hat, and sat down beside Bob.

"Your cheeks are pink as hollyhocks," he observed, eyeing her with

"I had a lovely time picking those raspberries," she said. "There must
have been a big patch of them back there once. Bob, I want to start a
kitchen garden. Max and Alec haven't waked up yet to the fun it would be
to grow things on this old place, but you're always awake. Come on!"

Bob stood up.

"I'm ready for anything you say, but I don't know any more about planting
gardens than I do about building bridges. You don't plant a garden in
July--I'm sure of that."

"Isn't there a thing that can go in late, and produce a late crop?"

"Don't ask me. Maybe our friend Ferry would know. If there's anything he
doesn't know, I haven't found it out. It's funny a preacher should be
such an all-round sort of fellow, isn't it?"

"A--what?" Sally nearly dropped her raspberries, she was so astonished.

"A preacher. He preaches in the old white church with the big pillars,
away down town in the middle of everything. I just found it out yesterday
from a fellow in the office."

"Why, it can't be! He's always busy round that garden--or chopping wood
up in our timber tract. He asked Max to let him work at that--for the
sake of his muscle, he said."

"If you'll just stop and think, you'll find he isn't round all the time.
He's in the city every day--has to be. He holds a half-hour noon service
in the old church every day in the week for men. Fred Kentner says they
flock in there like sheep--says he goes in often. It's cool in there, and
he likes the things Ferry says. I'm going in with Fred some day soon. I'd
like to find out what a fellow that can chop trees and fight with his
fists can find to say in a pulpit."

"Fight with his fists!"

Bob chuckled. "I tackled him the other evening, out behind his house,
just for fun. I got all I wanted in about two minutes. He was laughing
all the time, but I couldn't get near him. He laid me on my back as
helpless as a baby. Say, if Mary Ann doesn't get round with the oatmeal
pretty soon, I'll have to go without. It's twenty minutes past six now."

"I'll see about it," and Sally hurried away, revolving in her mind this
astonishing news.

"He can't be as young as he looks, then," she said to herself. "I
shouldn't say he was a minute over twenty-five, but he must be."

Her mind turned later that day to a project more immediately promising
than the garden. She wanted to have a house party--a tent party, to be
accurate. The Burnsides had driven out twice to see them since they had
become established, but Jarvis had been having another siege with his
eyes, and Josephine had been entertaining visitors. Sally, in the
fast-increasing strength and enthusiasm of returning health, longed for
her friends, and began to plan how she could have all three with her for
the space of at least two days.

"Wait a little longer," counselled Uncle Timothy. "Your strength is more
that of happiness than of real physical gain, though you are certainly
acquiring health rapidly. There will be plenty of hot weather in August,
and you will be better fit to exert yourself."

Max and Alec backed him, for they were still more or less indifferent to
the charms of active exercise, and when they had been fed, each evening,
were in the habit of falling into postures of ease on the ground before
the tent, while they discussed the happenings of the day.

At the end of another fortnight, however, everybody admitted that Sally
seemed enough like herself to be permitted the mild dissipation of a tent
party, and she proceeded joyfully to plan for the occasion.

"Alec and Bob will have to sleep outside," she decided.

"Thank you, not for me!" said Alec.

"Oh, don't go and be a spoil-sport now, Al!" cried Bob. "I'd a good deal
rather sleep outdoors than not."

"You have my permission," rejoined Alec.

"I will sleep out-doors, with pleasure," said Uncle Timothy.

"Never, if I give you my room!" and Sally looked indignant.

"I should enjoy it," Mr. Rudd insisted. "This out-door life has renewed
my youth. If the weather is favourable during your friends' visit you can
count on having my room for them."

Of course Alec could not allow such a reversal of the natural order of
things, and he announced the fact with firmness mixed with irritation.
Uncle Timothy, however, also persisted, went into town and bought a
hammock, and returning hung it under the trees.

Sally, with the help of Mary Ann, did considerable preliminary baking,
and the Ferrys, hearing of the coming event, contributed a large
basketful of garden produce. Sally, running over to thank Mrs. Ferry,
told her all about her plans. She had already grown very fond of the
little lady, whose happiness at being with her son, after a long period
of separation from him, made her a cheery companion.

"I hope you and Mr. Ferry will come over this evening," urged Sally. "We
want to make it a jolly time for our friends, and I'm sure you'll enjoy
knowing Mrs. Burnside."

"Mother's a little shy," said a voice from behind Mrs. Ferry, who stood
in the small porch, looking down at her visitor. Sally, in a crisp frock
of white with tiny black figures, her sunny head uplifted, and her
cheeks now round and rosy with returning health, looked past Mrs.
Ferry's shoulder, smiling. "She is decidedly modest about showing off
before people, but she could entertain your guests quite by herself, if
she would."

"Donald!" The small lady faced about, as her son's arm came round her
shoulders. "What an idea!"

"She's the finest reader in the state," asserted the young man. "She's a
scholar, she's--"

"Donald, you will lose your car!"

"She taught me all I know, and a great deal more that I don't know,
because my head wouldn't hold it.

'And still the wonder grew,
That one small head could carry all she knew.'

Now I shall have to run for it, which will be most undignified. Good-by,
mother!" He kissed her. "Good-by, Miss Sally! We'll be there to-night."

He swung away down the road at a brisk pace, turning once to wave his hat
at the figure on the porch.

"Such a boy!" breathed the mother. "Yet such a man, Miss Sally, though
his mother says it. And he'll go off with all that nonsense on his lips,
and a head full of talk for those men in the church at noon--talk that
will go straight to their hearts--and, better, to their judgments."

"I haven't yet been able to realize that he's a minister," Sally
ventured. "Somehow, seeing him out-doors here--"

Mrs. Ferry nodded. "I know. Nobody takes him for what he is, because he
will not do what he calls 'dress the part every day.' And he is such a
believer in making the physical life offset the mental and spiritual--if
I may put it so--that I tell him he may be in danger of becoming so
athletic--and so agricultural"--she smiled--"that he will crowd out the
spiritual. Yet he knows I don't mean that. He turns up many a rich
nugget of thought, when he is hoeing the ground--and chops down many an
error when he fells a tree, perhaps!"

"I don't doubt it," agreed Sally, regarding the proud little mother with
real envy of her fortunate son. "Please come over early," she begged, as
she took her leave, after lingering a little to tell Mrs. Ferry more
about her plans for the evening.

"Sally Lunn!" Josephine exclaimed, a few hours later. "What have you been
doing to yourself? You never looked so well. Behold her, Jarvis! But
don't dare take off your blue goggles. Her radiance is fairly dazzling,
and is liable to blind you."

"It's partly sunburn," confessed Sally. "I go deliberately out and let
the sun smite me, first on the right cheek and then on the left. For
awhile I burned my nose at the same time, which was not picturesque. But
now I put a thick coating of talcum powder on my nose, and burn myself
only where it is artistic."

"There's an honest confession for you," and Jarvis shook hands so
heartily that Sally's fingers ached for a minute afterward. "I can see
some of the rouge through my glasses."

"I must look purple to you, then. Red and blue make purple, on cheeks as
well as palettes, don't they? Joey, what made you put on a white dress? I
planned to take you all blackberrying over in the pasture."

"Lovely! Lend me an apron, and I'll risk the dress. This is a beautiful
time of day to pick blackberries."

The three set off. As they passed the garden on the farther side of the
hedge they were hailed by Donald Ferry. "May I go, too?" called the young
man, and he leaped lightly over the hedge.

Jarvis Burnside went forward and held out his hand. "I heard you speak,
this noon," he said, in a low tone.

Ferry returned the pressure heartily. "I saw you," he answered.

"You did? I was away back by the door."

"My eyes are pretty good. And it's easy to see a friend, you know."

"I'll be glad to have you call me that," said Jarvis.

"I've wanted to since I saw you first," replied Ferry, with the
simplicity of manner which won him confidence and warm liking
wherever he went.

He was in a holiday mood. He insisted on carrying all the pails, and
juggled with them, producing a clash of sound which echoed through the
meadows. In his gray flannels and flowing blue tie, he looked much more
like a college boy than a member of the most dignified of professions.

"How strong and healthy he looks!" observed Jarvis to Sally, as they led
the way toward the blackberry pasture. "He couldn't have got his
education without spending more or less time in-doors, but he must have
put in every spare minute in the open air. The sight of him makes me feel
more than ever that I was a fool to dig away as I did, ruining my eyes
for the sake of doing two years' work in one. Gained a lot, didn't I? Do
you realize it's more than a year since I took my degree? And not a
blessed thing since but idle around, waiting for these eyes to get back
into shape."

"It must have seemed a long year," agreed Sally, sympathetically. "But
haven't you made things worse by using your eyes every now and then
against orders?"

"Guilty. The sight of a book is like cheese to a mouse, to me. Just after
a visit to Doctor Meyer I'm meek and obedient as a lamb; then I pass a
book-shop, look in at the windows, glance round to see if any oculists or
mothers observe me, dodge in, get into a corner with some book--and an
hour is gone before I think I've done more than inspect the table of

"I knew you must be breaking rules, when you had so many relapses, after
Jo had said the eyes were better. It's a pity you live in a stone block,
instead of a place like this, where there is out-doors enough to keep any
one busy."

"It is a pity. I wish we lived on a farm like this. I'd like nothing
better than trying my hand at scientific farming. If I'm going to be
everlastingly handicapped by these eyes I might as well look round for an
out-door job. You can't think how I wish now I'd put in my time studying
civil engineering."

"I thought scientific farming called for lots of reading."

"It does, properly. I should have to have a partner to do the studying.
But it also calls for plenty of open-air work, and that--well, it's
getting to have more and more attraction for me. Look up the pasture
there. Isn't that a beautiful scene at this hour of day, even through
blue glasses?"

"If Max only felt as you do! But don't you think he's looking better
since he's been sleeping out here? He actually owned this morning that he
was sorry he couldn't get back in time for the blackberry picking."

"Really? The old boy must be waking up a bit. I'm thinking of offering
to rent a few acres out here, so as to start a market-garden next
spring--if my eyes still need favouring, and there's not much doubt of
that. Perhaps the sight of me digging round here will stir him up."

"If it only would! Oh, Jarvis, how I'd love to spend the winter in that
house!" and Sally turned to gaze back at it.

"Would you--clear off out here among the snow-drifts? Well, I could
imagine myself doing it with enthusiasm--under two conditions. The use of
my eyes and the use of the library at the top of those stairs. By the
way, has Max taken any steps to sell that?"

"He's been consulting a man or two, and he had one out here not long ago.
I've begged him to be careful, if he must sell it, lest he shouldn't get
all it's worth."

"He'd better be mighty careful. I wish he'd trust me with that
commission. I believe I'll mention it to him to-night. I understood he
didn't intend to do anything about it at present, but if he has his mind
on selling it I must have a word with him. I believe the collection is
worth a good deal more than any of us appreciate."

Jarvis did not fail to follow up this idea. When the party returned to
the tent Max was coming from the house. Jarvis talked with him for some
time, and the conference ended with both of them looking cheerful.

Max was undoubtedly feeling the benefit of his taste of out-door life. He
joined in the festivities of the evening with more zest than he had shown
in a long time, greatly to the delight of everybody. It was a merry
evening, and was followed by much jollity over the bestowing of so many
people comfortably for the night.

Going to occupy his hammock, Mr. Rudd found a long figure swinging
reposefully in it.

"Why, Jarvis!" he ejaculated. "This is my place. You are to have a room
in the tent."

"Not while you sleep outside, sir," returned the guest, remaining
composed for slumber. "Beside, I don't get a chance to sleep outdoors
very often, and on such a night as this I wouldn't miss it."

"I don't suppose I can forcibly eject you," admitted Mr. Rudd.

"No, I think not. I may not be as muscular as our friend Ferry, but I
haven't given up my morning exercise before my cold plunge since I left
college, and I'm in fair shape to hold my own with whoever attempts to
take this hammock away from me. Go back to your room, please, Mr. Rudd.
I never was more comfortable in my life."

To prove it, Jarvis went promptly to sleep, and nearly every one else did
the same. Mrs. Burnside was awake for some time, but she, too, fell
asleep at last, leaving only one pair of wide-awake eyes in the tent.
Sally, for some unknown reason, could not feel the first inclination to
repose. She was up and sitting on a pillow beside her open tent flap,
gazing out into the night, when she heard a singular noise.

It was like the distant roar of the sea, but there was no sea within many
miles. It did not sound in the least like wind, yet wind it must be, she
thought, and in the space of a half minute the roar had so gained in
volume that it appeared to be approaching with great rapidity. Sally rose
and peered up toward the sky, for usually she could see a small patch of
it beyond the grove. But she could discern no appearance of the sky,
although a few minutes before the stars had been shining brilliantly.

She had no time within which to take any further observations. Before she
had fairly begun to wonder what might be coming, and to tell herself that
she had heard no growl of thunder and that therefore this could not be
the approach of one of those severe electrical storms with which a
period of intense heat sometimes terminates, the thing had happened. With
a burst, a tremendous blast of wind struck the tent. It swayed and
strained at its guy-ropes, the poles creaked and cracked, and in less
time than it takes to tell it, the whole flapping structure had gone down
with one ballooning heave, flat upon the ground, covering its inmates
with billowing canvas.

Then came a terrific clap of thunder and a flash of the fiercest
lightning Sally had ever seen. Instantly there was a sudden and
overwhelming downpour of rain, as if the heavens had opened. Then
everybody was shouting or calling. Outside the tent, Jarvis, in his
hammock, and Bob, on his blankets on the ground, had been soaked to the
skin before they knew what had happened, and were trying to discover a
place where they could crawl under the wrecked canvas and find a shelter
from the deluge.

"Where are you all? Anybody hurt?" cried Jarvis, groping in the

"All right!" screamed Josephine, who had put her hand under the canvas
partition and found her mother, whose bed was next her own.

"All right!" shrieked Sally, who had received a soaking by having been
close to the open tent-flap when the flood came. But she did not mention
that just now.

"Here's a place to get under!" cried Bob to Jarvis, and the two managed
to work themselves under cover. A convenient table made a nook to receive
them, and kept the tent off their heads.

"I've crawled under my cot!" announced Alec, at the top of his lungs.

"So have I!" called Mr. Rudd. He was congratulating himself that he
had not slept in the hammock, but he was much worried concerning
Jarvis and Bob.

Then Max fired the shot that, sooner or later, he might have been
expected to fire. As loudly as he could vociferate against the roar of
the storm, he sent a triumphant challenge to the party: "I hope you're
all--_satisfied_--with the beauty of sleeping in the--_open air_!"



The storm had passed almost as abruptly as it had come. The rain ceased
as if a trap-door in the heavens had been suddenly closed. The wind had
gone when the rain came, so that the moment the downfall was over the
whole affair was ended. It had not occupied the space of more than four
minutes, but it had managed to make as complete a wreck of the sleeping
arrangements in the pine grove as if it had been of an hour's duration.

"The stars are shining!" announced Bob, putting his head under the edge
of the canvas the moment the rain had stopped. "The show is over."

"So is the tent--and sleep," added Alec. Crawling along under the
wreckage, he had encountered Bob's heel. "This is a nice mess! What on
earth are we to do now?"

"Get everybody out under the sky," commanded Jarvis, working his way out.
He ran round to the back of the tent and found Sally emerging. He gave
her a hand.

"Why, you're wet!" he said, as his hand touched the sleeve of the blue
kimono she had been wearing when she sat in the open doorway.

She felt of his sleeve in turn. "I'm not a circumstance to you," she
answered. "You must be soaked to the skin, you and Bob."

"That's no matter, this warm night. Mother, Jo, where are you? Max, lend
a hand here, and let's lift this canvas so they can get out."

"But it's not a warm night now," declared Mrs. Burnside, when she had
reached the open air, and had found out for herself how wet at least
three of the party were. "We must manage to dry you all, somehow."

"I hope you people are satisfied," Max reiterated. It was the fourth time
he had said it.

"Of course we're satisfied!" cried Sally, with spirit. "Who wants a
camping party without any adventures? We can't have bears here in our
pine grove, so we have thunderstorms."

"Thunderstorms! That was a cyclone, if it was anything!" growled Max.

"If it was, we're safe from ever having another!" cried Bob. "They never
hit the same place twice, I'm told. Hello, there comes a lantern through
the hedge. Thought Mr. Ferry'd be looking us up."

"Ship ahoy!" called a hailing voice. "All hands on deck? Shall I man a
lifeboat? Well, well," in astonishment, as he came nearer, "where are
you, anyhow? Where's the tent?"

"Don't look so high up!" Jarvis called back. "Lower your glass to the
horizon line. We're out in the open sea!"

Ferry surveyed the group by the light of his lantern. "Anybody get wet?"
he asked. "Yes, I should say you did. See here, you wet ones, don't delay
a minute, for the storm has made the air twenty degrees cooler. Run over
to our house. Mother's expecting you all."

"We can't all get inside your house!" chuckled Bob.

"Let's go into our own," urged Sally. "Max has the key, and we can carry
in the cots--they're not wet--and have a fire in the big fireplace--"

Bob pinched her arm. "Say, Sis, it's a chance for you to get into
the house."

"Of course it is," Sally whispered back, her eyes dancing in the light
from the lantern.

"I think that is the best plan, don't you, Max?" questioned Jarvis.

Max nodded reluctantly. No matter how hospitably the tiny cottage might
be thrown open for their reception, it would certainly be overtaxing its
capacity to attempt to make nine extra people comfortable there for the
remainder of the night--it was barely one o'clock.

"We'll gladly stretch the walls to take you all in," said Donald Ferry,
"but perhaps the big house plan is the better. Suppose you ladies go over
and let mother satisfy her longing to be of use by making Miss Sally dry,
while we fellows get the cots into the house, and bring over some wood
from our pile for the fireplace. It will need open windows and a rousing
fire in there to freshen the musty air."

"Jarvis, you must come, too--you and Bob. You're both very wet," urged
Mrs. Burnside.

"Yes, go over, Burnside, and ask mother for some dry clothes of mine,"
said Ferry. "Bob--"

"I've got some dry clothes packed away somewhere in the tent, if I can
only find where they've gone to," answered Bob.

"I'll work myself dry," and Jarvis suited the action to the word by
beginning to unfasten the guy ropes.

"Jarvis!" It was his mother's voice. At the note in it, he stood up
again, laughing. "All right, mother," he agreed, and walked away with her
toward the cottage.

"These people who have been so anxious to camp," said Max to Ferry, "I
hope they're satisfied now."

"Oh, such experiences are a part of the fun of camping," asserted Ferry.
"Mr. Rudd certainly looks cheerful," and he held up his lantern so that
its rays illumined Uncle Timothy's face.

The elder man smiled. "It seems to me we are fortunate to have had
no worse happen," said he. "That was the most violent wind I have
ever known."

"It shook our little house to its foundations," replied Ferry. "I think
it took down a chimney, but I didn't stop to find out. Mother was certain
your camp must be blown over into the next township, and could hardly
wait for me to get out and see. Well, shall we go to work? Tent down
first--and that will take all hands, for wet canvas is heavy."

They fell to, Jarvis soon returning to join them. It took considerable
time to remove the tent from its position, for much care was necessary to
prevent its dampening the tent furniture beneath. But after that it was
easy to move the cots and bedding to the house, the hallway of which was
now lighted by two lamps brought over from the cottage.

"We'll make up the beds!" cried Sally, appearing with Josephine in
the big hall, her face radiant. "I can't lose any more time tamely
discussing this event over there, when I can be here in the midst
of things."

"Good for you! Now, Bob, suppose you and I leave the others to bring over
the rest of the stuff, while we haul some wood for the fireplace," and
Ferry beckoned Bob away to the next job. He was smiling back at Sally as
he went, for her joy, though he did not quite understand its cause, was

So it was not long before a cheerful blaze was throwing grotesque lights
and shadows down the hall, showing up the odd array of cots and beds
which had been brought, without regard to final disposition, into the
hall. Sally selected the long room on the left of the hall, its doorway
directly opposite the fireplace, for the feminine portion of the family,
announcing that the others could sleep in the hall itself. Into this room
she directed Uncle Timothy and Alec to move four of the cots, and set
Mary Ann at work making up the beds in the hall.

"Isn't this more fun than the jolliest picnic you ever went to?" exulted
Sally, as she and Josephine spread sheets and blankets upon the beds.

"It's great! I'm so glad it happened to-night, when we were here.
Sally, do you suppose they can dry the tent and get it up again by
to-morrow night?"

"I hope not! If it would only rain again to-morrow! I'd give worlds to
be forced to stay here in the house, much as I've enjoyed sleeping in
the tent. If I could only make Max take a little liking to the
house--and I could if I just had our things out here from town. But of
course he'll never let me. Hasn't he been funny to-night, with his
solemn 'hoping we're satisfied'? Oh, if the poor dear only had just a
tiny sense of humour!"

"I'm sure he has, if we could wake it up. This scene ought to do it, if
anything would," agreed Josephine. "Look at Mr. Rudd, with his hair all
rumpled and his sleeping-cap still on. See Mary Ann out there; doesn't
she look dazed and serious? Here I am, with my hair in two tails down my
back--and it's the first time I've thought of it. As for you, in that red
sweater jacket, with your curly mop of hair, you look more like a lively
small boy than ever before."

"I'd like to be one. Do you suppose we can ever settle down to slumber
again to-night? I'd like to have larks the rest of the time, till
morning. We will have them to-morrow night, Joey Burnside, if we can
manage to stay in this house."

It certainly was hard to get to sleep under these new conditions. Even
after everybody was quiet, there were still sources of amusement for
Sally. The sound of a low growl in the hall was enough to set her off,
and she leaned over to Josephine's cot to whisper: "That's Max,
muttering, 'I hope you're satisfied!'"--at which Josephine began to
laugh, and the two shook together for some time thereafter.

The first thing in the morning of which Josephine was conscious was Sally
again, breathing joyously in her ear, "Jo, Jo--it's raining!"

So it was. The long dry spell had been broken by the severe storm of the
night, and a heavy rain was now falling. As she dressed, Sally gazed out
upon it with satisfaction.

"How on earth are we to have any breakfast?" came booming from the hall,
as Max, reluctantly getting to his feet, took in the situation.

"Mr. Ferry and I brought all the kitchen tent stuff into the back of this
house," said Bob. "He said it was best in time of peace to prepare for
war, and we might get another storm before morning. So we're all fixed."

"Very nice for those who can stay here, but not so fine for the ones who
have to catch the trolley." Max applied himself discontentedly to the
business of dressing.

"Oh, what's that! Who minds a little walk in the rain? I wouldn't be
such a granny. You've done nothing but fuss ever since the tent came
down. Nobody else has howled a minute. You must enjoy being everlastingly
in a grouch."

It was not often that Bob's good humour forsook him to the point of
addressing his elder brother in such disrespectful terms, and Max glared
at him wrathfully.

"Cut that! I'm a few years older than you are, and you've no business to
be impudent. When you work the way I do, you'll earn the right to have
your rest undisturbed."

"Yes, grandpa," mocked Bob. Alec, sitting on the edge of his cot,
laughed. This was too much for Max. He seized his younger brother by the
collar and attempted to shake him. But Bob was more athletic than Max had
realized. The sturdy young figure resisted doughtily, and Max, who was by
no means muscular, found his hands full. Uncle Timothy and Alec looked on
in amusement as the battle raged, and when Bob finally succeeded in
depositing Max on the latter's own cot, back downward, the victor's knee
on the conquered one's chest, they applauded heartily.

"Take it good-naturedly, nephew," advised Mr. Rudd, catching sight of
Max's angry countenance. "It was a fair encounter, and the lad is
stronger than you."

"If there was any way of pounding a laugh into Maxwell Lane, I'd tackle
him myself," declared Alec.

"Boys, what are you doing?" called Sally. "Are you dressed? May we come
through? We want to help Mary Ann about breakfast."

Max rose to his feet, his face red and his collar awry. As the girls
appeared he strode away up the stairs affecting not to see them.

"Max, are you going up to find out if any burglars got in overnight?"
called Sally after him, "If you are, please see if my jewel case is

To Sally's intense gratification, it rained all day. To be sure, she had
invited her friends to a tent party, not to stay in an empty house, but
it seemed to be so much more fun for everybody to roam about the house,
exploring it from attic to cellar, suggesting what could be done to make
it all inviting and attractive, that the hours by no means dragged. Mrs.
Burnside, especially, seemed to take deep interest in every detail of the
rooms, declaring them to be susceptible to treatment which should easily
make them homelike and beautiful.

The rugs from the tent had been laid in the hall, by the fireplace,
where a small fire burned, its cheer and warmth grateful to those who
gathered round it, for the change in the weather had become more
pronounced as the day advanced, and a north-east wind was doing its part
in making indoors desirable. Such of the camp furniture as fitted the
uses of a sitting-room had also been placed in the hall, and the result
was that at least one spot in the big house presented a highly inviting

"I wish we had some books and magazines now," said Josephine, disposing
herself comfortably in a steamer chair, with her back toward the fire.
"I've read all those we had in the tent."

"I'll find you some," and Sally disappeared--by way of the kitchen, where
Mary Ann was sure to need coaching from time to time. Thence she ran up a
back stairway to the floor above, and on to the small flight of steps
which led to the door opening on the stairway between the walls, above
which was the old library. She meant to make a selection of volumes for
Josephine's delectation, more as a joke than as an offer of reading
matter, for she did not suppose there was much in the collection which
might serve to entertain her friend. To her surprise, she found it
unnecessary to use her key, and went on up the stairs, remembering that
she had not seen Jarvis for the last hour. If he should be up here
reading, it was well that she had come, for the fine print of the old
books was the worst thing possible for his eyes.

But Jarvis was not reading. Instead, she found him standing by one of the
windows, staring out through the curious old wrought-iron latticework,
which, after the fashion in many old houses, made the upper windows
impregnable. His hands were in his pockets, his eyes were fixed on the
outlook of field and meadow stretching away up the slope of the hillside
to the woods beyond. It was a fine prospect, even through the falling
rain, and Jarvis appeared to be fascinated by it, so that he did not hear
the light fall of Sally's footsteps on the stairs.

She came softly up and stood beside him. "Isn't that lovely off there?"
she asked, and Jarvis started. Then he laughed, bringing his gaze back to
rest with a look of pleasure upon the girl at his side.

"It certainly is. From this height one gets a better idea of the way the
farm lies than from below."

"Do you wonder I want to live here?"

"Not a bit. The idea of it grows more attractive to me every time I come
here. If it were any place but yours, I should be strongly tempted to
buy it myself--mother and I, of course, I mean. She would jump at the
idea, I fancy, of this for a summer home."

"Oh, Jarvis!" Sally looked so dismayed that he reassured her in haste:

"Of course I'd never mention such a thing unless you yourself wanted to
sell. But you can see I'm in sympathy with your longing to live here. I
only wish I could see you carry out your plan. If there were anything I
could do to bring it about, I certainly would do it. Look here." He
paused to consider an idea which had just occurred to him. "Do you
suppose if I were seriously to talk of buying the place it might make Max
want to keep it? By all the laws of human nature, the thing ought to work
that way."

"I don't know. You never know how Max is going to take things. If you
offered a good price he might jump at it."

"I wouldn't offer a good price--that is, not the price I would give if I
were very anxious to get it."

Sally thought it over. "I don't know," she said again. "You told me you
were thinking of offering to rent a few acres of us and try some market

"I have thought of that. If I could only get 'the leader of the
opposition' interested to go in with me, your case would be won."

"You never can. He'll have to see somebody making a success of it before
he will think of it for a minute. There's nothing anybody can do before
spring, I suppose."

"There's considerable to be done in winter, I understand. And the spring
work begins so early it's practically winter then."

"You can't think how I want to stay here this winter!" sighed Sally.

"You really mean it? Snow-drifts and isolation, empty rooms and cold
winds, and all?"

"The Ferrys don't think it isolated. When they came, they expected to go
back to rooms in town for the winter, but they've fallen so in love with
their cottage they're going to stay. This isn't the country; it's only
the suburbs, eight minutes' walk from the electrics."

"True enough. It depends upon one's point of view, doesn't it? There's a
lot of fun made of the commuters, but they're not by any means to be
placed all in the same class. To people who genuinely love the country
it's a delight to get out here, no matter how many minutes it takes to
make the run. And it really takes only about twenty-five minutes to get
into the heart of the city. So you honestly want to stay here, do you,
Sally Lunn? From this hour I'm committed to the task of trying to bring
that thing about."

"Jarvis! That's lovely of you! You did bring about my getting out here in
the tent. Yes, I've heard the whole story from Jo--I know what a
strategist you were. You're such a good friend, to take so much trouble."

"Am I? There's nobody I'd rather take trouble for. You know that,
don't you?"

If there were more than friendship in his eyes and voice, Sally did not
perceive it. She was so accustomed to kindness and consideration from
this young man, who had grown up only a few years ahead of her, and who
had been her champion so long that she had never thought of him in any
other light, that no such declaration of his friendly feeling for her was
likely to impress her as at all out of the ordinary. The eyes behind the
blue goggles were hidden from her, the voice to her ear had merely its
usual warm ring of comradeship, and she did not note the fact that upon
the smooth, dark cheek a touch of unwonted colour spoke of feeling deeper
than that hinted at in the simple words.

"I know you're my stand-by, and you know I appreciate it. If you can
possibly bring such a thing about, I'll bless you forever. Now help me
find some books that will entertain Jo and your mother, for I must go
down to them."

He pointed out a number of quaint volumes whose contents he thought might
prove interesting, and she selected several, with which she departed,
taking a gay farewell of him and adjuring him not to use his eyes.

"Thank you, I'll use my brains instead," he answered.

"It will take all you've got!" she called back.

"I wonder if hearts are any help in solving problems?" Jarvis thought,
half-smiling to himself when she had gone. "Hers certainly isn't
concerned with anybody at present. But I wonder if I'm a wise fellow to
be plotting to help her spend the winter next door to the finest chap I
know. I wonder! But I'm certainly committed to the endeavour."

Whatever was the result of his use of the brains with which he had been
endowed, he lost no time in making his first effort. That evening, as the
company finished their dinner and strolled back into the hall, Jarvis
challenged Max to a walk up the cartpath toward the timber tract.

"Too wet," objected Max. "The rain stopped only an hour ago;
everything's soaking."

"I know it, but we've both been shut up all day in-doors, and need the
exercise. Besides, while we were at dinner I saw Ferry making for the
woods with his axe over his shoulder. We'll find him there and have a
jolly visit. He's great company when he's at work--which is saying a good
deal, for better company at any time I don't know of."

Max reluctantly submitted, turned up his trousers widely, shouldered an
umbrella, and the two set out. Sally looked after them, her hopes
following them, for she had received a meaning look from Jarvis which
told her that his schemes were already on foot. She had seen him in
conference with his mother that afternoon, and was sure the two were
agreed upon whatever suggestion of purchase Jarvis might be about to
make. Yet Sally held her breath. What if--what if--Max should, after all,
jump at the offer?



"I'll tell you what I'll do," said Maxwell Lane. "I'll compromise. If
Sally and the rest of you will let up on your nonsensical plan of staying
in this barracks all winter, I'll agree to stick it out till--November."

He encountered Sally's gaze. They were all upon the great, high-columned
porch which gave to the front of the house its impressive air of being an
old family mansion. It was a fortnight after the tent party--a fine
August evening. Josephine and Jarvis Burnside had just driven out, and
Donald Ferry, seeing them come, had strolled over. So not only Sally, but
six other people, were hanging on Max's decision.

He had meant to say "till October." But as he met his sister's eyes it
occurred to him that a compromise, which offered one month instead of
six, might perhaps be considered a trifle too one-sided to be accepted as
a compromise at all. So he finished the sentence, after a perceptible
pause, with "till November." That, surely, was being generous, he
considered. Just why all decisions should be made by him, as supreme
arbiter, can hardly be explained, except that he had assumed that
position three years before, when the other young Lanes had been
negligible factors in all matters of business, and he, by the divine
right of his twenty-one years, had, upon the death of his father, taken
the management of the family affairs into his own hands.

Sally drew a long breath of relief. Anyhow, she now had more than two
months' reprieve. By the end of that period something might happen to
make Max willing to extend it. The tent had been put up again, and all
but Max had returned to sleeping in it. He had announced that he cared to
take no more chances with thunderstorms and cyclones, so Sally had
arranged comfortable quarters for him in the house, in one of the smaller
downstairs rooms, looking out upon the grove. There was a fireplace in
this room, and Bob had placed a well-stocked wood-box beside it, so that
his brother might have no excuse for feeling himself neglected.

"Your compromise gives you so much the bigger half of the bargain," said
Josephine, her brilliant dark eyes fixed on Max, "that I think you ought
to give Sally something to boot. Isn't that the word?"

"What does she want? The house furnished for the two months?"

"Much simpler than that. Sally and I want to have our friends out for
a frolic."

"In an empty house?"

"Yes. What jollier place for a lot of fun? Only it wouldn't seem empty by
the time we had put up a lot of flags and bunting and goldenrod and
balsam branches. That long drawing-room of yours, with crash on the
floor--and a harp and violins behind a screen--and Chinese lanterns all
over the rooms and on the porch and down the driveway--"

Josephine's imagination worked fast. She had gone into a dozen
specifications before Max could get a chance to interpose.

"Very fine, very fine! And a supper-table, loaded with salads and
ices. Glorious idea! How much do you think all this would cost? Of
course that's of no consequence, but just out of curiosity I should
like to know."

"Goodness, we've boxes of lanterns, rolls of bunting and flags, and yards
of crash left from parties way back to my first birthday ones," Josephine
assured him. "As for the supper--" She paused to think it out, for party
suppers are unquestionably expensive details.

"Wait till October and make it a husking-bee," suggested Donald Ferry.
He had become in these few weeks as much a member of this circle of
friends as if he had always belonged to it. "Then you'll need only coffee
and doughnuts and apples and that sort of thing. There'll be corn enough
in my patch to trim your rooms, and plenty for the husking."

"Jolly!" exploded Bob.

"Fine!" cried Alec.

Sally's eyes were radiant. Even Uncle Timothy smiled. Max himself,
being, after all, in spite of his grave air, only twenty-four, and
capable of enjoying gay times like the rest of them, felt his
indifference melt away.

"That would give us a chance to do something in return for all the
invitations we've had ever since we've been in the apartment," urged
Sally. "Wouldn't you like to ask your friends in the bank, Max?"

"If we had the thing, I shouldn't mind asking two of the fellows--Harper
and Ward," Max admitted. "Oh, I suppose we'll have it. When Jo and Sally
get their minds on anything, it has to go through. If you can figure it
out so it doesn't mean a big bill, it may do very well as a wind-up to
this out-door business."

This was being condescending, for Max; and Jarvis smiled to himself as he
reflected that there's nothing like having your own way in big matters
to make you decently amiable as regards small ones.

From this evening the arrangements for the October husking-bee occupied a
more or less prominent part in the plans of the Lanes and their friends.
Meanwhile everybody, including Max himself--although he could seldom be
made to admit it--thoroughly enjoyed the intervening weeks.

"Did you ever see finer corn than this?" asked Ferry, as he and Bob set
up a great shock of rustling stalks at one end of the "drawing-room." "To
be sure, I didn't plant it--I owe the owner of the place for that--but I
hoed it, and I cut it, and I'm reaping the credit."

"It's magnificent, Mr. Ferry," Sally agreed readily, from the floor where
she sat, fitting candles into Chinese lanterns of every form and hue,
from small round ones to gorgeous great affairs of fantastic shape and
design. It was Saturday afternoon, and the entire force was busy. On the
front porch Max and Josephine were hanging lanterns, while Alec was
stringing wires among the trees and down the driveway. It was
extraordinary how many lanterns the Burnsides seemed to have stored away,
and in what fresh condition they were; the bunting and the flags, also.
Although some of this material showed unmistakable signs of use, bales
more of it had had to be hastily rumpled by Josephine, to get it into the
proper condition for lending.

"I'll tell you where I've put in my fine touches," chuckled Bob. "Those
twenty jack-o'-lanterns of mine have teeth, every one of 'em. Maybe you
don't think that was some work."

"Not only was it work, but it shows a trained sense of artistic effect,"
Ferry assured him. "That monster you've put on the porch, with four faces
pointing to the four points of the compass, has Janus, the god of
beginnings, beaten to a finish."

"Sally," Josephine called in at one of the front windows, "I've forgotten
to tell you who are in town! Neil and Dorothy Chase. They just came last
night. Don't you want to ask them out to-night?"

Alec, down the driveway, heard, and was first to shout his approbation of
this idea: "_Sure_! Get 'em here and ask 'em if they think there's room
enough to turn round in!"

Max, from the top of the step-ladder, added his approval: "Have them,
whatever you do, Sally. Of all the chumps!"

Bob whistled. "Neil was afraid he'd burst our rooms in town," he
recalled. "He can get as chesty as he likes out here. You'll have him,
won't you, Sally?"

Sally looked up at their neighbour, who was laughing quietly at the
comments. "You must think we have odd motives for our invitations."

"I think the house is going to give the impression to-night of being a
hospitable mansion," he returned. "It will be just the time to invite
anybody who likes space and effect."

There could be no doubt of this. When all was done, even before the
lanterns and the fires were lighted, the drawing-room, the hall, and the
dining-room all had taken on such a festal air that it could occur to
nobody to miss the furniture which ordinarily occupies houses of this
character. Across the hall two rooms had been arranged for
dressing-rooms, and even these were highly attractive.

After the lanterns were lighted, outside was fairyland! Inside, with the
fireplaces burning huge logs and flashing intermittently over the scene,
the jack-o'-lanterns grinning cheerfully from every corner, the flags and
bunting contributing colour, and the masses of evergreen and clumps of
corn-shocks adding nooks and corners for shadows to dance in, there
certainly could have been no quainter or prettier background for a party.

"What I want to know is, whether the lady of the manor feels her part.
She certainly looks it!"

It was Jarvis's greeting as he came up the steps into the big porch,
after a hasty trip home to dress. Just as he approached the house a
figure in white had come out of the doorway, and he congratulated himself
on having caught Sally alone for the first time in several days.

Sally met him with an eager welcome: "Oh, I'm so glad you got back before
the rest came! I wanted you here to help make things go from the
beginning. Max is having fits with his tie, and Alec is in distress
because his pumps don't look as smart as he thinks they ought. Even Bob
is more than usually fussy about the parting of his hair!"

"Too bad, but such small anxieties always go along with dress occasions.
You don't answer my question. Do you feel like the mistress of an
ancestral home?"

"Do I? I should say I didn't. I feel like a small girl giving her first
party. I hadn't a thing to wear but this old white frock--it's lucky
for me our lights are the sort they are. Electrics would show me up for
what I am."

"Do you know what you are?"

"Hardly--to-night. What am I, do you think?"

"A healthy, happy, sensible girl, who doesn't care if she isn't wearing
a fussy frock from the most expensive place in town. And if you were, you
couldn't look nicer."

"Thank you. That's a straight masculine compliment, and I appreciate it.
How good it seems to see you without those blue glasses! Are you going to
leave them off to-night?"

"I certainly am. I don't care to contribute to the weird effects among
the jack-o'-lanterns. I want to see everything as it is
to-night--including Sally Lane."

She looked straight into his eyes, with the frank friendliness which
never dreamed of turning these pleasant speeches into meaning ones. She
was heartily pleased to see him without the disfiguring glasses, for the
brown eyes were fine ones, and the face was full of character as well as

"No girl ever had such good friends as Sally Lunn," she said. "Do you
think I don't know that no decorations of your house in town ever called
for so much bunting and crash and so many flags and lanterns as we have
here to-night? The others haven't thought of it, but I've done a bit of
estimating, if you please."

Jarvis laughed. "It's hard to get round you. But you don't mind? Mother
and Jo are certainly near enough to being mother and sister to you to be
allowed a bit of fun like this."

"You are sure brother Jarvis didn't have a hand?"

It was on his lips to tell her that whatever relation he might hold to
her, that of brother wouldn't do--but he restrained the words. Not yet!
It would be a pity to risk anything yet--certainly not now, when her mind
was full of the coming party. Beside, he was not at all sure that a word
might not spoil all his chances. Sally, in spite of her twenty years,
was, in some ways, still such a girl.

So he only answered gayly: "Both hands, if you don't mind. It took hands,
shoulders, and back to get the stuff down from our attic!"

Donald Ferry and his mother now came up the steps, and Jarvis and Sally
turned to greet them. Ferry had given them both a quick look of keen
scrutiny as he saw them standing there alone together under the lanterns.
For some time he had been observing that the two seemed to be close
friends. What he thought, however, could not have been told from his
manner, for he had never seemed in a blither mood as he shook hands and
presented himself to Sally in the capacity of one of her right-hand men.

"Thank you," she answered, looking at him precisely as she had looked at
Jarvis, with the girlish fearlessness and absence of coquetry which is so
charming at her age, much as a younger brother sometimes looks at an
elder one whom he sincerely likes and admires. "I've just been telling
Jarvis that no girl ever had nicer friends. You've all worked like
slaves, and I do hope you'll have good times enough to-night to half pay
you. Jarvis, please present Mr. Ferry to the prettiest, jolliest girls we
know, won't you? And don't forget to take advantage of your chance to
dance with the nicest ones yourself," she added, laughing, and leading
the way into the house with Mrs. Ferry, who, with Mrs. Burnside, was to
chaperon the party.

Both Jarvis's and Ferry's eyes followed the graceful young figure as it
made its way with the elder one down the hall, among the parti-coloured
lights. Then, for some reason, they turned to look at each other, and
smiled. "Are you prepared to do your duty by those prettiest and jolliest
girls?" inquired Ferry.

"If you are. It's the surest way of pleasing Sally," replied Jarvis, with

Sally's characterization of the girls who were her guests was undoubtedly
a true one. They were attractive young people, indeed, who shortly came
trooping up the steps, in gauzy gowns of all hues. Youth and happiness
are always good to look upon, and freshness of skin and brightness of eye
make features not strictly beautiful charming in their own way.

There were plenty of young men and youths, Max's companion bank-clerks
were among them, clear-eyed, keen-faced fellows whom the Lanes liked upon
sight and were glad to entertain both for Max's sake and their own. Alec
and Bob had not been denied the privilege of inviting certain youthful
intimates, so it was a somewhat diversified company, in point of age,
which laughed and danced and talked and sang, under the lanterns. For
sing they did now and then, when tempted by some popular air from the
little orchestra--which somehow had been enlarged to include several
other instruments besides harp and violin, Josephine arguing that there
must be sound enough to be heard upon the porch and lawn. It was a gay
company, and the fun was at its height when the last guests to arrive
drove up with a proclaiming flourish of a musical horn.

"It's the Chases--we must go out and meet them, Max," and Sally caught at
her brother as he was hastening by. They reached the porch as Neil and
Dorothy descended from their car and looked about them.

"Well, of all the surprises!" was young Mrs. Chase's greeting, as she
swept across the porch in a Paris gown which fairly took one's breath
away, as it was disclosed by the falling open of a gorgeous evening wrap.

Jarvis Burnside, looking out of a porch window at the moment, as he
fanned one of the "prettiest and jolliest girls," after a brisk
"two-step," noted the contrast between Dorothy and Sally. Mrs. Chase was
twenty-four, as he happened to know, but she looked considerably older,
and one would have said there were at least eight years between them. Yet
Sally, although she seemed so girlish, had the hostess's pretty air of
self-possession which is equal to greeting any number of Parisian gowns
and their wearers.

"Yes, we hoped you would enjoy seeing us again with room enough to shake
hands in," and Sally made them welcome with a hearty greeting apiece.

"This you, Sally?" asked Neil Chase, surveying her with interest. "You
look more like sixteen than ever. Going to put your hair up when you get
to be thirty or forty?"

"My hair is as much up as it can be in the circumstances," retorted
Sally, gayly. "Unless I wear a wig, the best I can do is to tie it this
way with a bow."

"That's so; we did hear you had a fever in the spring. You don't look
much like it now--more like an infant cherub. Well, Max, this the old
place you had left you? My congratulations. It's not half bad, you
know--at least as it looked coming up the drive, by the light of the
lanterns. You must hug yourselves to get out of that six-by-nine flat,
if this _is_ a good way out in the country. Country places are getting
to be the thing these days. Anybody here we know, or is it a
neighbourhood blowout?"

Max stiffened--as he usually did by the time Neil Chase had got out a few
of his patronizing sentences. "I think you'll find the same set here
you'd find in town," he answered. "We haven't asked a crowd--just enough
to be comfortable and have plenty of room. But we have some of our
neighbours here, and jolly people they are, too."

"Sally, I can't possibly husk any corn," Mrs. Chase murmured, as Sally
led her into the drawing-room. "This gauze is a fright now, and I've worn
it only three times. It's awfully expensive--but it's the thing now, you
know, so one must have it." Her eyes fell on Sally's dress as she spoke.
"Sally Lane!" she half-shrieked into Sally's ear, as, at the moment, the
orchestra burst into a swinging waltz, "if that isn't the very same
embroidered Swiss that you had for my wedding, almost four years ago,
when you were a mere child!"

"Absolutely the same. Doesn't it wear well?" Sally answered, serenely.
"Much better than gauze. No, you needn't husk any corn. That's just for
those who want a little fun for a few minutes by and by. Mr. Ferry!"--as
that young man passed with an inquiring look at her which meant, "Do you
want me for anything in connection with these new arrivals?"--and Ferry
was at her side.

She enjoyed presenting him to the Chases, for she wanted to see what
would happen. She had noted a new side of their neighbour to-night. Thus
far their acquaintance had been carried on in tents and wood-lots, in an
out-door, every-day environment, so to speak. Donald Ferry as a good
comrade she had come to know well; Donald Ferry as a popular preacher she
knew by many an enthusiastic report from Jarvis, Alec, and Bob; but the
same person as a society man in evening dress, with most engaging
manners, was a new acquaintance! She observed him with interest as he
made himself entertaining to Neil and Dorothy, and blessed him for his
tact when he presently went off with Mrs. Chase, to do her special honour
as the only young matron present. She observed that Dorothy seemed very
ready to accompany him.

Neil looked after his wife and her companion with an expression of
curiosity. "I'd like to know how you came to have him here?" he
suggested. "Isn't he that chap the papers are full of, who holds forth to
a crowd of men every day down in the Old Dutch Church?"

"He's the one," Max replied. "I haven't heard him yet, though I
mean to soon. Burnside and the boys say he's great. He lives next
door to us here."

"He's not at all the sort I expected to see, from the stories about him.
Still, the sanctimonious sort probably couldn't hold the class of men
they say go there regularly. He lives next door to you here, does he?
That's odd. My brother Ches didn't talk about anything else than Ferry
this morning at breakfast. Says he refused a flattering invitation to a
church in Washington because he preferred to stay by the Old Dutch.
Well, Dorothy didn't realize he was a parson, or she wouldn't have gone
off with him with such a flourish. If she finds it out, you can look to
see her begin to be demure. I say, you've certainly got a stunning old
place here."

"Think so?"

Chase gazed about him at the details of the long drawing-room, noting its
wood-work and general proportions. "I'd rather like to look it over," he
proposed. "Mind taking me about?"

"No, only it's not furnished, nor lighted, except down here where we're

"No electricity, or gas, I suppose, out here. Well, you can raise some
kind of a light to trot round by, can't you? I'm a crank on ancient
houses and furniture. Wish you had some old mahogany--that's what you
need in these rooms."

Max procured a small hand-lamp from the kitchen, and proceeded to
escort his guest about. Neil began by showing a patronizing approval
of details here and there, but as the survey continued he became less
conversational, and walked about in silent inspection of everything,
floors, walls, windows, and ceilings, putting on a pair of
eye-glasses and assuming a hypercritical expression in excess even of
his ordinary attitude.

"Very fair, very fair," was his reply, when Max asked him, at the
conclusion of the round of the second story, how he liked it. Determined
to make the most of his chance to interest this ordinarily bored young
man, Max led the way up the stairs to the old library. Here Neil opened
his eyes. But as he immediately narrowed them again, and began to examine
books with an indifferent air, Max was not sure how much of an impression
the collection was making.

Neil presently sat down. "Suppose we stay a few minutes. Quiet spot.
Rather enjoy getting away from the crowd. Er--not intending to furnish up
and stay here, are you? Quite a distance from town, isn't it?"

"That's the objection to living out here."

"Have you heard that I'm coming back to practise in the city?"

"No. That so? With your father's firm?"

"Yes. Dad's made me a pretty good offer, and while it was considerable of
a sacrifice to leave the business I've built up down there, I'm willing
to humour the old man." He crossed his legs in a superior sort of way,
his head thrown back after a fashion which always made Max want to throw
something at him and disturb his pose. His tone was immensely

"When do you make the move?"

"Right away. The governor's in a hurry, and I've agreed to lose no time.
Don't care to live with the old folks again, so I shall look round a bit
for a place. I drive a car, you know, and I've rather taken a fancy to
having a country place, something on the old-style order. I've picked up
rather a decent collection of old mahogany and prints, Sheffield plate
and Lowestoft china--that sort of thing--that needs a certain background
to show it off. I've heard of a number of places that might suit me;
there are a good many abandoned country places these days--people like to
get into town. Not many care, like me, for the artistic point of view in
such matters. Er--I suppose you'll sell this place?"

His tone was careless, but Max, who was watching him closely, saw a
peculiar gleam in his eye which put him on his guard. Neil Chase was
nothing if not shrewd and sharp to the point where the man who dealt with
him must look closely after his own interests.

"Oh, I don't know," Max replied, slowly. "Haven't made up my mind. I'm
considering an offer now for the place. Some people like to get into
town, as you say, but plenty more appreciate life in the country, when
they can get such a spot as this. Values in such property are going up,
not down, in my opinion."

If Sally could have heard him!



To the strains of the intermezzo from the "Cavalleria Rusticana," which
the orchestra was sending out through the open windows, Max was returning
from the gateway to the house. The October night was so mild that he had
stolen out bareheaded upon the errand which had taken him to the road.
The errand might have been considered an odd one: he wanted to look at
the house!

To be sure, illuminated as it was by many gayly coloured lights, the
lanterns glowing all across the porch and down the driveway, it was well
worth looking at. But it was not this decorative effect which the young
host had come out to exult over. And, viewed as a residence only, he had
certainly observed it many times before, and under varying conditions. He
knew to a nicety just how many slats were lacking from certain of the
blinds, just how the ragged edge of the great chimney showed against the
sky line, precisely where the big pillared porch needed repairing. No,
it was not in any of these aspects that he had come curiously out to view
it now. He wanted to see it with the eyes of the prospective purchasers,
Jarvis Burnside and Neil Chase. He wanted particularly to see it as Chase
saw it, that upon mention of the fact that Max had already been
interviewed by a prospective buyer, he had, in spite of his effort to
appear indifferent, really shown such eagerness to be given an option
upon the place.

Max walked slowly back toward the house, under the shadow of the row of
great trees bordering what had once been a lawn. Two figures had just
come out upon the porch; he recognized them, even at this distance, as
the Chases. At the moment, nobody else occupied the porch. Neil and
Dorothy stood for a moment under the lanterns, looking back into the
hall, then turned and descended the steps. They surveyed the house as
they did so; they backed farther away from it; they strolled round to the
west side, and viewed it from that point. Finally, as Max halted beside a
tree-trunk, watching them, they began to walk slowly down the driveway,
turning from time to time to gaze back at the house-front.

As they passed Max, catching no hint of his presence in the shadow, they
conversed in phrases which were of interest to him, and to which, since
they intimately concerned himself, he might be excused for listening.

"It's simply stunning," Dorothy was saying eagerly, as they passed. "I'd
rather have it than forty new houses. When it's restored it will have
such an air! I don't suppose they appreciate it at all, do they? Oh, do
get hold of it before anybody tells them!"

"Max says Sally is crazy to live in it. But that can't be because she
realizes its value."

"No, she's just old-fashioned child enough to like it because it's
homelike, and her uncle and grandfather lived in it, not because it's
such a swell type of the real old thing that people rave over now."

"Max isn't the sort to care for it either. But he has an eye on the cash.
I shall have to put up a fair price, all right, to get it. I'll try
bluffing first, though. He's too much of an office grind to care for
anything else, so long as he gets his money. I say, won't that gateway be
a corker, when it's put right?"

They walked on out of hearing, but Max had heard all that was necessary
to make him tingle.

"Oh, it will be a corker, will it?" he said to himself, as he made for
the back of the house by way of the pine grove. "Maybe it will, old,
man--but not when _you_ put it right! An office grind, am I? Too dull to
know a good thing when I own it, eh? And you'll try bluffing, will you?
All right, bluff away--and much good may it do you! I'd sell it to Jarve
Burnside before I'd sell it to you, but I--Hello, where are you going?"

He had almost run into Jarvis, hastily emerging from the kitchen door
with a smoking jack-o'-lantern, the declining candle of which had made of
it both a wreck and the source of a horrible odour. Jarvis cast the
pumpkin to one side and wiped his hands on his handkerchief. "Just
prevented a small conflagration of corn-stalks," he explained. "What are
you doing, prowling round your own back door?"

"Making up my mind not to sell this place to you or to anybody else,"
said Max, promptly, speaking under the impulse of his irritation.

"Good work! I don't blame you. I certainly don't want it--_if you do_. I
hope you won't go back on letting me rent a few acres, though, to try my
hand at farming, in the spring?"

"Jarve,"--Max sat down on the kitchen step--"do you seriously think a
fellow could make a living off this land--taking into account all the
squash-bugs and fruit-tree pests and tomato-grubs and every other thing
that I've always understood makes the life of the farmer miserable?"

"I think," replied Jarvis, laughing a little at Max's way of putting it,
but awake to the importance of discussing the matter seriously, if Max
showed an inclination to do so, "that trying to do it, with the help of
all the experience that modern experiment stations have placed at our
hands, would be about the most interesting thing possible. You might not
want to give up all other business till you had proved that you really
could do it, but I certainly do think the thing would be well worth
trying. It's being attempted more and more these days by educated men,
college graduates and professional men of all ranks, partly for the pure
interest of the thing, partly because the out-door life is about the best
worth living. Look at Don Ferry, for an example. Could he possibly have
the hold he has on that crowd of his at the Old Dutch if he weren't a man
made of substantial flesh and blood, his brain as healthy and his heart
as warm as exercise and oxygen can make them?--Well, perhaps he could, if
he were one of your pale and scholarly ghosts, but I doubt it."

"This idea of living out here in winter--" Max went off on a new
tack--"it's seemed to me absolute foolishness. But if Neil Chase is so,
confoundedly anxious to move in before we can move out--"

"Neil Chase!"

"Yes. He practically made me an offer for the place to-night."

"Well, well!" Jarvis's eyes gleamed with satisfaction in the darkness. So
old Neil was helping the thing along, was he? Nothing could have been
better. "Going to consider it?"

"Hardly! See here, could we keep warm in that barracks this winter?"

"You don't have to live all over it. With those fireplaces and waste wood
enough in your lot up there to run a blast-furnace, I don't see why you
should have any fear of freezing."

"Our little stock of furniture wouldn't go anywhere in furnishing."

"It would furnish a certain amount of space. Keep the rest shut up till
you could furnish it."

"I shouldn't think of the thing for a minute," said Max, in the tone of
one who explains the inconsistency of so sudden a change of attitude, "if
I hadn't this day been notified that the price of our flat is to go up
ten dollars a month on the first of November. It's an outrage!"

"It's an extraordinary piece of luck," said Jarvis to himself. But aloud
he admitted that it was a good deal of a jump, and a pretty high price
for the flat.

At this moment some one looked out of the kitchen window, and then asked
Mary Ann inside if she had seen anything lately of Mr. Max.

"I suppose we'll have to go back to the crowd," admitted Max, and they
returned just in time to see the first guests taking their leave.

When all had gone, Jarvis hunted up Sally. He found her in one of the
dressing-rooms, extinguishing candles which had nearly burned to the
bottoms of the lanterns, and were threatening their inflammable

"Here, don't touch those things, with your thin clothes on!" Jarvis
cried. "We fellows must go round and make all safe--no taking any chances
with the house full of dry corn-stalks. But first--have you had a good
time to-night?"

"A glorious time. All the evening I've felt as if I lived here--it looked
so furnished, somehow, with all the lights and decorations."

"It made you want to live here more than ever, didn't it?"

"It did, indeed. And in ten days we shall be going back to town,"

"Perhaps you won't."

She stared at him. "What in the world do you mean?"

"I don't mean anything," said he, laughing. "I'm like a small boy
bursting with the secret information that there's to be ice-cream for
dinner. So I don't mean anything--but I'd like to shake hands on it, just
the same."

"Jarvis!" She let him seize both her hands and shake them up and down.
"You do mean something!"

"Come out in the hall and do the corn-stalk prance with me."

"The corn-stalk prance! What in the world is that? Are you crazy?"

"I'll teach it to you," and he led her out into the wide hall, which had
been all the evening the most attractive spot in the house. He pulled two
stalks from one of the sheaves which stood on each side of the great
fireplace. He handed her one, and throwing the other across his shoulder
as if it were a gun, marched to the drawing-room door. The musicians were
just putting away their instruments, having played till the last guests
were out of hearing.

"Just one more, will you?" he asked, grinning at them in a way which they
understood meant an extra fee.

Then he came back to Sally. "Now for it!" he said. "I never did this
myself,--nor heard of it--but if we can't do an impromptu turn to-night,
on our high spirits, we never can again. Come on!"--as the music burst
forth. And he made her an impressive bow.

Smiling, and ready enough to follow his lead, Sally returned him a
sweeping courtesy, in minuet style.

"Hi, what's this?" cried Bob, returning from the porch, where he, with
the others, had been watching the departure of the procession of
carriages and automobiles which had borne the guests away.

"Here, come and see what's going on!" he shouted back to the porch, and
they came hurrying in. Mrs. Burnside and Donald Ferry, Josephine and
Max, Mrs. Ferry and Alec and Uncle Timothy ranged themselves along the
walls, their faces all enjoyment of the somewhat remarkable affair now
in progress.

Jarvis and Sally might have been improvising, there was no doubt that
they were, but the result was the product of inspiration. Up and down,
double and single, in and out, round and round, with all manner of fancy
steps, both surprising and picturesque, saluting each other every now and

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