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Strawberry Acres by Grace S. Richmond

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then with bows, with wavings of the corn-stalks, with gestures of
greeting and farewell.

Jarvis, without his glasses, his face brilliant with life and merriment,
looked a different fellow from the one his friends had been accustomed to
see of late; and Sally, her cheeks like crimson carnations, her eyes dark
with fun and happiness, her steps the embodiment of youthful grace, was a
fascinating figure to watch.

"Isn't that the prettiest thing you ever saw?" asked Josephine of Donald
Ferry, as he stood beside her with folded arms.

He nodded.

"I suppose they're making it up as they go along," he said, "but it's
very clever and charming. I didn't know your brother had it in him to
be so gay."

"Oh, he has. It's this long bother with his eyes that has made him look
like an owl, and feel like one. He has plenty of fun and energy in him
when it gets a chance."

"I'm beginning to find him out. I like a chap who can relax like that,
and show the boyish side of himself now and then."

"And isn't Sally perfectly dear? I never saw her look prettier than
to-night," declared Josephine, with an unconscious glance from Sally's
white frock, which she knew was an old and much mended one, down at her
own pale blue gown, just home from an expensive shop. She was thinking
that if she looked half as well in her fine things as Sally in her
simple old ones, she should be quite content.

Ferry looked down at the dark head beside him. He remembered no less than
three fair maids who had, that evening, called his attention, by one
means and another, to points less attractive than their own in other
girls. It struck him, as it had done more than once before, that a very
warm generosity characterized the friendship between Josephine and Sally,
inasmuch as each had seemed to him to be most anxious to have him
appreciate the charms of the other.

As for Josephine herself, though he would not bluntly tell her so, she
had seldom presented a more winsome picture than to-night. Her dark
colouring and piquant features possessed a quality very close to beauty,
and her smile at Sally, at a moment when the girl, sweeping close, made
her friend a special salutation, was undoubtedly a very attractive thing.

A burst of enthusiastic applause greeted the final whirl and bows of the
"corn-stalk prance," and Sally, breathless, dropped upon the bottom step
of the wide staircase. Jarvis, coming close to Max, whose hand-clapping
was of the heartiest, said in his friend's ear, "Why not tell her now
that you've decided to stay here? If you do, you'll make this the
happiest night of her life."

Max looked at him. Sally's elder brother was in a more genial mood than
he had been in for some time. Somehow his new understanding that the
Lanes possessed a more valuable piece of property than they had realized,
property for which two buyers were ready at any hour to give them a
satisfactory price, had put him into good humour. Then he had been all
the evening playing the pleasant part of host under conditions which had
called forth many complimentary remarks from guests whose opinions he
valued, and he was experiencing the comfortable glow which comes with
such a role.

Just now, the sight of his little sister making of herself so charming a
spectacle, had caused him to feel an unusual stirring of pride in her.
All these factors combined to help Jarvis's suggestion.

He approached his sister as she sat, rosy cheeked and laughing, on the
lowest stair, and stood before her. "That wasn't so bad," he said,
approvingly. "You and Jarve had better get out a copyright on
that--you worked in some pretty fancy steps. Got your skates on
to-night, haven't you?"

Sally thrust forward a small, white-shod foot. "No, only some badly
used-up pumps. If it hadn't been for Bob and his pipe-clay they would
never have been presentable again."

"You're certainly great on making things go. Er--that is--suppose you
could make six chairs, a table, and an old couch furnish that room in
there--for the winter?"

Their eyes met. Those who happened to be observing from a little
distance--and of these there were at least three who had as yet been
unable to take their eyes off Sally--saw such a wave of delight sweep
over her expressive face as made it even more vivid than they had ever
seen it. After an instant's wide-eyed silence, her lips parted, the girl
was on her feet.

"Max! Do you mean it? Are we to stay? Oh--you old dear! Make our things
furnish that room? Of course I can!"

Her arms were round his neck for the space of two seconds; then she had
seized his hand, and was pulling him toward the others. Jarvis, watching
Max's face, saw there more amiability than he could have hoped. Yet it
would have been a strangely flinty heart, he thought, that could have
resisted Sally to-night.

"Ladies and gentlemen,"--Sally made them a low bow,--"we are so glad
you've enjoyed our hospitality. Allow us to express our hope that we may
have the pleasure of entertaining you often during the winter. We shall
be at home here every Saturday evening throughout the season--pop-corn
refreshments and corn-stalk-fiddle music, with conversation!"

Bob was first to respond. With a shout, he dashed into the long
drawing-room, from which the musicians had now departed, and relieved
his feelings by turning a series of handsprings from one end of it to
the other.

Alec, who had not much cared to spend the winter in the country, but had
of late become immensely drawn toward Donald Ferry, reflected that there
might be good times forthcoming out here which would never happen in
town. So he grinned pleasantly enough.

Uncle Timothy, beaming, said, "That's very good!" to Mrs. Burnside, and
she returned warmly:

"Indeed, I think it is, Mr. Rudd."

Josephine clapped both her hands, then ran to wring Sally's and Max's,
declaring joyfully:

"You'll be the most popular resort outside the city."

Jarvis followed, to observe, in a calm tone--to cover his delight, though
he succeeded in only partially concealing it from Max, and not at all
from Sally--"I think it's a wise decision, and I hope it will mean a
partnership in strawberries and squashes next summer. You'll see me out
soon with seed-catalogues--since we didn't find any behind that locked
door last April."

"We shall be so glad to have such neighbours for the winter," said Mrs.
Ferry, with genuine pleasure in her face. "And I hope Donald and I can do
something toward making you feel that you have real country neighbours of
the kind who are counted as assets."

"If it weren't for you people, I don't think I should have the courage to
try it," acknowledged Max.

"We'll make it such a winter you'll never have the courage to go back,"
prophesied Ferry. "I have a pair of toboggans stowed away somewhere; I'll
send for them when the snow comes. That slope from your timber lot down
across the fields--"

Bob, returning from the handspring episode, caught these words and raised
a whoop of anticipation. "Hi--toboggans!" he was heard to ejaculate at
intervals during the next ten minutes.

"Sally," said Uncle Timothy Rudd, "up in New Hampshire, where I used to
live before I came to stay with your family, there is an attic full of
old furniture which belonged to my father. I have never disposed of it,
because certain associations made me have an affection for it. It is
pretty old style, and not, I am afraid, in very good condition, but if
you care for it--"

"Oh, Uncle Timmy! No matter how old it is or how shaky, we can use it."

"Probably the older and shakier it is, the more valuable when it has been
restored," suggested Mrs. Burnside.

"I should say so," declared Jarvis, with emphasis. "You should have heard
the Neil Chases rave over some of theirs. Neil found a sideboard in an
old cabin down South; it had the doors nailed on with strips of leather;
they kept corn meal and molasses in it. He wouldn't take five hundred
dollars for it now."

"I don't imagine," said Uncle Timothy, cautiously, "that any of my things
are as valuable as that, so don't get your expectations too high, Sally.
But they may help you in the matter of supplying chairs and beds for your
friends. I take it this will be a hospitable homestead, when Sally is
mistress of it."

"How could it help being hospitable," cried Sally, happily, "with friends
like ours for guests?"

"Let's make a circle on the hearth, for good luck," proposed Josephine.

Beckoning, she led the way toward the fireplace, where the flames of
the big logs, which had leaped and danced there all the evening,
carefully fed by Bob from time to time, had now died down into a mass
of brilliant coals.

On either side the sheaves of yellow corn-stalks stood like sentinels,
and above a row of jack-o'-lanterns, whose candles had been renewed when
they threatened to burn low, looked cheerfully down from the high

"All join hands," commanded Josephine, "and sing 'Auld Lang Syne.'"

"Will you let such new acquaintances join in that song?" asked Mrs.
Ferry, as Alec, who was next her, caught her hand in obedience to orders.

"Of course we will. We hope that time will make you old friends,"
answered Uncle Timothy, gallantly, stretching out his hand, as he stood
next upon her other side.

It is rather curious how, in any such grouping, certain combinations come
about. Neither Jarvis Burnside nor Donald Ferry seemed to make any abrupt
moves, and there certainly was a moment when it might have seemed the
natural thing that Jarvis should grasp Uncle Timothy's hand, Ferry seize
upon Bob's. But so it did not turn out.

When the circle began slowly to revolve before the fire, one of Sally's
hands was in Jarvis's, the other in that of the neighbour who could chop
down trees as easily as he could address audiences, and whose hand,
therefore, possessed a warm and even grip which suggested both
friendliness and strength. Upon Donald Ferry's farther side was
Josephine, and Max clasped her other hand. As for Alec and Bob, it did
not matter much to them whose hands they held, so that the circle moved
briskly and sang lustily. And this it surely did.

"Are you happy, little girl?" asked Jarvis, bending to speak into Sally's
ear, as the circle broke up.

Smiling, Sally dashed away a tear. "So happy I'm almost crying," she
owned. "It's beginning to seem as if we were going to have a--home, a
real home once more--as much as we ever can--without--"

"I understand," he whispered, and led her away down the hall, that she
might recover the poise the singing of the old song had shaken.

"They must have been here often when we children were little," she
murmured, pausing by the open door under the staircase, which led to a
side porch. Just here she was hidden from the rest.

"I'm sure they were. I remember driving out here once with your father,
and seeing him sit in front of that hall fireplace with your Uncle
Maxwell, talking business. They were here more, I imagine, when you were
very small, than afterward, when you were old enough to remember."

"They've been here," said Sally softly. "They've walked about these old
floors and looked out of these windows. That makes it home to me. And if
I can only make it home to the others--"

"You couldn't help making it home--anywhere."

"Oh, Jarvis, you're such a good friend!--I keep telling you that, till
you must be tired of hearing it."

"I'm not tired of hearing it."

There followed an eloquent little silence, during which Jarvis took the
girl's hand in both his own and held it close in a way which meant to her
the comprehending sympathy with all her joys and sorrows which he had
long given her. To him it meant so much more that he dared not give
expression to it in any but this mute fashion. But his heart beat high
with longing and with hope, though he was firmly bidding himself
wait--and wait a long time yet before he put his fortune to the touch,
"to win or lose it all!"

Then Sally wiped her eyes, put her handkerchief away, and faced about.

"Now I can go back," she said. "Thank you for giving me a chance to put
Sally Lunn in order. The mistress of a mansion like this must always have
herself in hand, mustn't she?"

Standing on her own hearth-stone, Sally said good-night to all her guests
like the grand lady she gayly affected to be. But like the girl she was,
she ran after them to wave her hand at them from the big porch, crying,
"Come again--please _all_ do come again--oh, _very_ soon!"





"Well, here he comes," announced Maxwell Lane. With his hands in his
pockets he was standing by a window which commanded a view of the gateway
and approach to the house. "He 'phoned me this morning he'd be
out--loaded for bear. I'll wager if he has one treatise on farming in
that cutter he has forty."

Sally ran to look. "I don't see anything unusual," said she, her eyes on
the trim sleigh drawn by a pair of fine grays, the driver waving an arm
at the window as he caught sight of the faces thereat. "Expect to see
horse-hoes and threshing machines sticking out from under his furs?
Jolly!--that's a magnificent fox-skin robe he has over his knees. Looks
like a farmer, doesn't he, now? Think a fellow in a silk-lined overcoat
and driving-gloves like those knows anything about farming?--Or ever can
know?" he added skeptically.

"I don't see why not. There's nothing about a silk-lined overcoat to
prevent." Sally's tone was spirited. She thrust her hands into the
pockets of the small ruffled apron she wore, and her elbows assumed an
argumentative air. The black ribbon which tied her lengthening curly
locks into a knot upon her head seemed to acquire a defiant effect.
Evidently she was prepared to take sides in this matter. "If rich men's
sons can learn railroading and mining and every other kind of business
that soils their hands, I don't know what's to prevent one of them from
learning farming."

"Oh, he'll get hold of a tremendous amount of book wisdom--I'm prepared
for that," admitted Max. "But it takes a practical man to be a farmer.
He'll want to use up a lot of money in experiments, of course--"

But Sally had disappeared into the hall, and was throwing open the front
door. The sleigh, however, was going on past the house to the barn. "That
means he intends to stay," reflected the girl and ran back to the kitchen
for a few hurried words with Mary Ann Flinders. It was not the habit of
the house materially to change any plans for the table on account of
unexpected arrivals, but there were certain dishes Jarvis was known to
enjoy so much that Sally liked to confront him with at least one of them,
when she could.

"Make some of the apple-fry to go with the baked beans, please, Mary,"
she directed. "And be sure to put in plenty of sugar so it will get brown
and candied, the way we like it. Use the Baldwin apples, and leave the
red skins on the slices--that makes it look prettiest."

She peeped into the small kitchen mirror as she went by, the mirror whose
presence was designed to point out to Mary Ann that her rough red locks
might now and then need smoothing. Sally's own hair was the source of
considerable bother at present, it having reached that stage, in its
growth since her fever, when it was neither short nor long, and called
for much skill in arrangement. She tucked in a stray curl or two, gave a
perk to the black bow, stood on her tip-toes to make sure that the silk
knot which fastened her sailor collar was in trim shape, and felt of the
crisp strings which tied her decidedly coquettish apron, to ascertain
that that bow was also snug. Then she looked round at Mary Ann, and
caught that young person eyeing her slyly, but with great admiration.
Sally laughed, and Mary Ann giggled. Then the latter glanced
significantly out of the kitchen window toward the barn, whence a tall
figure was issuing with its arms full of books and magazines.

"I guess I'd know, Miss Sally," ventured Mary Ann, "who was comin' if I
didn't see for myself. Apple-fry, an' you primpin' up like that when you
don't need it at all, bein' always tidy--"

"Mary, I'm surprised at you," said Sally severely, and walked out of
the kitchen with her head up. But she had laughed, and Mary Ann was
not afraid.

"Ridiculous!" said Sally to herself, in the hall. "I shall never look in
that kitchen glass again, when anybody is here. As if I ever did any
special 'primpin'' for an old friend like Jarvis! Girls like that are
always thinking silly things." And she walked on to the hall door, of
half a mind not to open it after all, lest Jarvis himself think his
welcome too eager. Yet, as she always did open it for him, or for any
other of their special friends whom she chanced to see approaching, she
promptly discarded this line of conduct as absurd, and threw the door
wide with the hospitable sweep to which he was so accustomed that he
would have been surprised and puzzled at its absence.

He looked at her over his armful of books, his face red with the sting of
the sharp January air, his eyes keen through the eye-glasses astride his
nose. Goggles were now a thing of the past, but the eyeglasses, their
lenses thick with the combination of formulae which had ruled their
grinding, were a permanent necessity. It was the first time Sally had
seen him since he had acquired them.

"Very becoming," she said, critically, as he put down the books on the
hall table, pulled off the handsome driving-gloves which, according to
Max, helped to disqualify him for his present ambitions, and shook hands
with heartiness. "You no longer look pathetic, but distinguished--even

"'Scientific' is the word, if you want to flatter me," he declared,
throwing off his overcoat and gathering up the books again. "I'm
acquiring agricultural science by the peck measure--chock full and
running over. I've reached the point where I must get rid of some of it
upon my partners or suffer serious consequences. Max here? Was it he at
the window? I can't see more than a rod through these things yet--not
used to them."

"Yes, he's here. He always spends his Saturday half-holiday at home now.
The rest are away. Alec and Bob are off on the hill by the timber lot,
trying Mr. Ferry's toboggan with him--it's just come. Uncle Tim has gone
over to see how they're making it go."

"Glad the coast is clear. It might embarrass me to set forth my schemes
to more than two at once."

Sally led the way to the living-room--in old times the "drawing-room,"
but now deserving the less imposing title after a fashion which made it
the most homelike of apartments. It was the only room on the lower
floor--except the dining-room and kitchen--which the Lanes had attempted
to furnish for the winter, so the rugs and chairs, tables and couch, of
the little flat had been all that was necessary to make it habitable and
pleasant. A brisk fire burned on the wide hearth, of itself a furnishing
without which many a sumptuous room may seem cheerless and in-hospitable.
The walls were covered with a quaint old paper of white, with gold
stripes about which green ivy leaves wound conventionally. This might
have given the room a cold aspect, but Sally had hung curtains of
Turkey-red print at the windows, and had covered the couch and its
pillows with the same warm-coloured fabric, with a result so pleasing to
the eye that visitors, at the first sight, were wont to exclaim: "Who
would think you could have made this big room look so homelike? How have
you done it?"

"Thirty-two yards of Turkey-red," was Sally's customary demure answer,
and the visitor, if a woman, was sure to respond, "Oh, yes, of course.
Such a lovely idea for winter." If a man, he was more apt merely to stare
at Sally, with real respect for the feminine comprehension of the
influence of a hue upon a general effect, not understanding the matter
himself, but dimly comprehending that the result had been accomplished
and the room made to look like a refuge from the bitterest storms which
might sweep outside.

"Well, primed to the muzzle?" was Max's greeting. He had not taken the
trouble to go to the hall to welcome the guest, but had thrown himself
among the red pillows, facing the fire. The wide couch stood always in
comfortable proximity to the hearth, and was a favourite resort for the
entire household. Not unadvisedly had Sally covered the eight pillows
with the strong red fabric. It could withstand the wear and tear of
pillow fights and of use as seats upon the floor before the fire better
than almost any material that could be found at the price.

"Look at the titles of these, and see if I haven't a right to be primed.
Mother and Jo have taken turns reading to me for a week--they too are
possessed of an extraordinary amount of miscellaneous information."

"Miscellaneous--that's undoubtedly the word. It will be a long day before
any of us have any classified and usable knowledge to work with."

With a critical eye Max scanned the titles of the books as Jarvis set
them forth in an impressive row upon the old mahogany table where the
reading lamp stood, surrounded by books, magazines, and papers, in
generous quantity.

"Strawberries--Market Gardening--Analyses of the
Soil--Bacteria--Nitrogen--Drainage--Agricultural Implements--Increasing
the Fertility of the Land--and so forth--and so forth," Max murmured, as
his eye ran hurriedly along the subjects represented. "Well, you've
certainly gone in deep."

"Nearly submerged, at times. But I think I've got my head out of water
now, and have evolved a scheme that will do to begin on--with your
approval. I wish you'd go at the reading of these--some of them,
anyhow. I've marked what seemed to be the most important. You can do it
while I'm away. I'm planning to take a trip around to the best farms I
can hear of, and have a series of talks with the owners. I shall end up
with a scientific experiment station, for by that time I ought to have
some working knowledge to build on, and can understand what I'm trying
to get at."

From among his pillows Max gazed at his friend. Saturday afternoon was
always a time of relaxation for the bank clerk, when he could get through
with his work and hurry home. He did not as yet feel a particle of
enthusiasm over the farming plans, and it was difficult for him to
comprehend Jarvis's interest. But he had ceased to oppose the project,
except by comments skeptical to a degree. Jarvis was to assume the risk
of all expensive experiments during the first two seasons, and Max was
not to leave the bank, so there was everything to be gained and nothing
to be lost by giving the experimenter a free hand.

Jarvis was sitting bolt upright by the table, his shoulders back, his
head up, energy in every outline. Sally, studying him, and remembering
his long exile from all active labour while his eyes were recovering from
their misuse at college, silently rejoiced in his appearance of vigour.
Just now, as he spoke of his plans, he seemed especially full of life and
determination, and the contrast between the two young men was one which
made the girl wonder rather anxiously if they could really become
partners in this new enterprise.

"When will you go?" Max inquired. "Wish I weren't tied to a desk. I'd go
too--for the trip."

"I wish you could. You'd enjoy not only the trip but the interviews. I'd
guarantee your interest before we'd made half our rounds."

"Any idea what you'll make the chief crop?" Max inquired, his eyes again
wandering over the titles of the books.

"Strawberries," his prospective partner responded, at once.

"Strawberries! Expect to make a living off those?"

"Strawberries!"--This was Sally, in a tone of delight. "Lovely! I'll
help pick. Can we have them next June? Oughtn't we to have sowed them
last fall?"

A roar from the young man on the couch, and an irrepressible broad smile
on the face of the one by the table, made Sally colour with chagrin. "I
suppose I've said something awful?" she queried.

"Max and I'll make worse blunders than that before we are through,"
Jarvis consoled her, while Max, chuckling, attempted to instruct his
sister and prove that after all he did know a thing or two about farming.

"You don't sow strawberries for a crop," he explained, wisely, "you set
out plants. And you don't get a crop the first year, either--eh, Jarve?
So Sally needn't begin to make a sun-bonnet to wear picking berries
next June."

"Nor the second June, either, perhaps," admitted Jarvis, reluctantly.
"To get the best results we shouldn't use land that's just been ploughed
where there's been only sod for years. We ought to plant potatoes or
cabbages the first year, to get the ground in shape. Then it'll need a
lot of fertilizing after that. We have to get rid of the grubs in the
old sod--"

"Grubs!" Max sat upright with a jerk. "There you are, at the first drop
of the hat. Grubs--pests--not only after you get your plants out but two
seasons beforehand."

He eyed his friend, as if he had presented a conclusive argument against
strawberry raising. But Jarvis only laughed good-humouredly.

"That's part of the game," said he. "Meanwhile, there are some quick
crops we ought to be able to market the first year. But, after talking
with several city dealers and commission men, I'm confident it will pay
us to go about strawberry culture with the most careful preparation we
can make. Some cities are surrounded by strawberry gardeners, but there's
almost nobody in that business around here. No reason why not--soil and
climate all right enough--so it seems to me it's our chance. The city
gets most of its 'home-grown' strawberries from a hundred miles away,
which means that they can't be marketed as fresh as ours can be. I
propose to build up a demand for absolutely fresh berries, picked at dawn
and marketed before the dew is off, strictly fine to the bottom of the
full-sized basket. Several grades, but our reputation on the big ones, of
course. There's no reason why we can't do it--"

But he had gone as far as could have been expected without an ironic
comment from Max. "Oh, it's all clear as daylight!" that young man
agreed. "Even the grubs that infest the soil now will take to the woods
when they hear of the onslaught that's coming. We've only to set out the
plants, sit on the fence till the gigantic berries are ripe, than haul in
the nets. No May freezes, no droughts, no--"

"You _are_ a pessimist, aren't you?" Jarvis broke in. "I know of only one
thing that will ever work a reformation in you--and that's a summer's
work in the open air."

"Pessimist, am I? Well--"

It was Sally who interrupted, this time. During Jarvis's explanation of
his plan she had been absorbed in the contemplation of a new idea. She
proceeded to launch it against the tide of Max's retort, and her
enthusiastic shriek overbore his deeper-toned growl. "I've a name for
this place!" she cried, clapping her hands. "A name! I've tried and
tried to think of one, you know, Jarvis, and nothing has suited. Uncle
Maxwell never named it anything. Uncle Timothy thinks '_The Pines_'
would be a good name but I'm sure there are hundreds of country places
called '_The Pines_.' Alec says '_Woodlands_,' and Bob votes for
'_Farview_'--though there's no far view at all till you get up to the
hill by the timber lot. But now--I have the name!"

She spoke impressively, and they both looked at her, waiting for the
revelation about to fall from her lips. She did not keep them
waiting long.

"'_Strawberry Acres_.'"

Silence ensued. Sally looked from one to the other. Max began to laugh.

"Better call it '_Prospective Strawberry Acres_'" said he.

"It's certainly an original name," mused Jarvis. "Not a high-sounding
one, certainly. But you don't want a high-sounding name--for a farm."

"It's a nice, colourful name," argued Sally.

"'Colourful!'--Now, by all that's eccentric, what's a colourful name?"
demanded Jarvis, laughing.

"Think of strawberries among the green leaves, in the sun--Jarvis, let's
have green leaves on all the baskets!--and think of crushed strawberries,
and the beautiful, rich, red juice. It's a nice, rich name, just as my
Turkey-red curtains make a warm, homey-looking room."

Jarvis shook his head. "These are mysteries too deep for my imagination,"
he owned. "But you can call it '_Pumpkin Hollow_,' if you like--that's a
colourful name, too, I should judge--a fine natural yellow."

"Oh," Sally exclaimed, "we must raise pumpkins, among the corn--of course
we'll have corn. Pumpkins lying about among shocks of corn in the fall
sunshine make the most delightful picture."

Max lay back among his pillows, apparently overcome with emotion. "Oh,
you're a practical person for a farmer's housekeeper!" he jeered. "Your
one idea will be to have the crops look pretty in the sunshine. You'll be
tying ribbons on the strawberry baskets to match the fruit."

Sally nodded. "Maybe I shall," she acknowledged. "Anyhow, I know people
buy the things that are most artfully put up."

A loud bang of the front door made her pause to listen. Hurried footsteps
clattering through the hall prepared the party for the bursting open of
the door. Bob, his cheeks like winter apples, his boots crusted with
snow, shouted at the company:

"Oh, pull yourselves loose from this stuffy fire and come up on the
hill. Mr. Ferry's toboggan goes like lightning express from the top of
the hill clear down to the big elm in the middle of the south meadow.
He's a dandy at it. I can't steer the thing yet, at all, but he'll teach
me. Put on your duds and come on--he sent me for you."

Max settled himself more reposefully than ever among his pillows. "Go
'way," he commanded. "My half-holidays are not for work."

But Sally sprang to her feet, seeing which Jarvis got promptly to his.

"Sorry we haven't blanket tobogganing suits, Bob," said Jarvis, "but we
can try it in derby hats and kid gloves. I'm ready."

Sally rushed away to array herself in a miscellaneous costume composed of
Max's gray sweater-jacket, Bob's crimson skating cap, Uncle Timothy's
white muffler, and a short, rainy-day skirt of her own. The others eyed
her approvingly as she rejoined them, the crimson cap on her blonde curls
proving most picturesque. Out of doors the colour in her cheeks, stung by
the frosty air, presently brought them to match the cap. By the time the
three reached the hill they looked as ready for sport as Donald Ferry
himself. That young man, in a regulation toboggan suit of gray blanket
cloth, with a cap of the same, looked like a jolly boy as he brought the
toboggan into place with a flourish and invited his guests to "pile on."

It was glorious fun. Certainly Ferry was an accomplished tobogganist,
for he steered with great skill over a somewhat complicated course,
including excursions between trees set rather closely together, over
hummocks and through erratic dips, at a pace which quite took his
passengers' breath away.

"It's the best fun I ever had in my life," cried Sally, as they climbed
the hill for the third time. "What a shame for Max not to come."

"We'll have him out next time. To taste tobogganing is to become an
enthusiast," declared Ferry, walking at one side of the crimson cap,
while Jarvis kept close upon the other. Alec and Bob were doing tricks in
the snow all the way up the hill, to the amusement of Uncle Timothy Rudd,
who watched interestedly from the top, but could not be prevailed upon to
try a journey.

Suddenly Sally looked down toward the house. She shielded her eyes
with one hand.

"There's Mary Ann Flinders, watching at the kitchen window," she
exclaimed. "Poor child, how she must envy us!" She stopped short and
looked at the toboggan's owner. "Why can't we ask her up for a little
while, Mr. Ferry?" she suggested. "You wouldn't mind, would you?"

"Not in the least. Shall I go for her?"

"I'll go. Please don't come." And Sally was off like the wind, down over
the path which much tramping had made through the snow. Jarvis and Ferry
looked at one another and smiled.

"Do you know another girl in the world who would have thought of doing
that?" asked Jarvis, with amusement.

"Not many, out of those who happened to have devoted cavaliers beside
them, certainly," admitted the other young man, looking after the rapid
transit of the crimson cap across the snowy fields. "But Miss Sally is a
law unto herself--and the unexpected is the thing one may expect from her
every time. Yet she's not capricious purely for the sake of being
capricious, like so many girls. She can be counted on--at the same time
that one doesn't know exactly where to find her." He laughed. "There's a
paradox for you."

"Counted on to do the thing you're glad afterward she has done,"
supplemented Sally's old friend.

If Sally could have heard them, her small ears--burning with the
transition from cold air to warm, as in the kitchen she hurriedly forced
Mary Ann, protesting with feeble giggles, into whatsoever garments could
be adapted to the purpose--would have burned even more fiercely. But it
is quite safe to say that she had no thought whatever of the effect her
impulsive little act might have upon anybody--except Mary Ann herself.



"Mother, won't you drive out to the farm with us? Jo will tell you I
drive like a veteran, and the roads aren't bad--with chains on the
rear tires."

Jarvis's hand was on the door as he spoke. He wore a motorist's cap,
coat, and leather gauntlets.

Mrs. Burnside shook her head, smiling. "I'll make my first trip into the
country when the chains are not needed, son. Give Sally my love, and tell
her that now spring is at hand I shall come out with you often."

"Let me tell her you'll come out and spend the whole season there.
Furnish the west side of the house, take Joanna, share expenses--and
chaperon her."

"Whom--Joanna?" Josephine Burnside, sheathing herself in veils for the
drive in the chilly early April air, glanced at her brother with a
mischievous air. "She's forty, if she's a day. Surely she doesn't need--"

"I wish you people would take me seriously. Could you find a pleasanter
place to spend the summer? I expect to spend every daylight hour of every
day there, from the fifteenth of April on."

"Then it's you who need the chaperon," declared Josephine. "Uncle Timothy
Rudd is dragon enough for Sally."

"I shall want to be out there for every noon meal. Can't break off work
and rush home three times a day, even with the new car--and she'll make
it in twenty minutes, when the roads are good. I shall have to take my
lunch in a pail, like my farm hands, if you don't come, for I'm not going
to cast myself on the Lanes for food, except now and then."

"Come on, I'm ready. Talk to me about it on the way out, and when I come
back I'll put it to mother so artfully she can't refuse." And Josephine
took the control of the door-knob out of her brother's hand.

Jarvis applied himself silently to his steering-wheel until they were out
of the city, for although after a month's practice he drove with
considerable skill, he had not yet reached the point where steering
through city traffic becomes purely mechanical. But once on the open
road, with few vehicles in the way, Jarvis continued the subject.

"Do you think mother really dislikes the idea? It seems to me the most
practical in the world. Those west rooms would be fine, furnished with
summer stuff--I wouldn't for the world have you put anything in them that
would make the other part of the house look shabby by contrast."

"Jarvis! As if we would! Why, it would be just mattings and wicker
chairs, muslin curtains, and that sort of thing. And I think mother
rather likes the idea. But she is afraid we should be forcing ourselves
on them, as we did last summer with the tent. She doesn't doubt they
would all like it, except Max. But he's so queer--he never likes what
he's expected to."

"Max is the very one who would favour it this time. He said the other day
he wished I could live out here, since I'm to run everything this season.
I said I'd like mighty well to be on the ground, but couldn't, of course,
in the circumstances, unless the family were along. He said, 'Set up for
yourselves in the west wing, and be here to get up with the lark, in the
approved farmer's style. I propose to sleep till the last minute, and let
the early birds get all the worms they like.'"

"Oh, he was only joking."

"Of course he was joking, but I feel certain he'd favour the plan. He
has reason to give me my head in every way, hasn't he? I'm equipping the
place with farm tools and machines at my own expense, hiring help out of
my own pocket, and taking all the risk. If I can't have the west wing for
the summer I'll send back that disc-harrow that arrived yesterday--I'm as
proud of it as I am of the car."

"Would you dare mention it to Sally?"

"The disc-harrow--or the plan? If she likes the plan as well as she does
the harrow, she'll welcome it with open arms. I tell you, if I could
strike the sparks out of Max with an expensive seed-sower that the mere
sight of a set of hoes and rakes for her flower garden does with Sally,
I'd be content. No, I don't dare mention it to Sally, but I should think
you might. She'd certainly be delighted to have you and mother there--and
she has to have me there anyhow, whether she likes it or not."

"Whether she likes it or not! Of course she likes it! Aren't you and she
the best friends in the world?"

"I'm not so sure. Sally's good friends with everybody--but 'the best in
the world'--well--I don't know!"

His tone was peculiar. Josephine looked quickly at him, through her
enveloping veils. He was staring at the road ahead--as the driver of a
high-powered motor through April mud must do, of course--yet his sister
thought she detected a curious compression of the lips not due wholly to
the strain of driving under difficulties.

"You're not afraid of her next-door neighbour, are you?" ventured the
girl, casually, as if she meant nothing by the query.

"I like him immensely, as you know," was the quick reply. "And trust him,
too--like a brother. But--well--it's no use talking about it. It's a fair
field and no favours--and I can't complain of that. But--I'd rather like
the advantage of being on the ground all summer, don't you see? Alone,
there, even though I'm off in the fields half the time, I'll have to be
everlastingly careful that I don't make myself intrusive. With you and
mother there, the whole situation would be different. You do see, don't
you, Sis?"

He looked round at her for an instant, to search her face beneath the
masking veils, confident that if he could be sure of her sympathy his
sister was the strongest ally he could have. The subject had never
been brought up quite so definitely between them before, although
Jarvis had no doubt that both mother and sister understood the long
persisting intention which within the last year had grown in him so
overwhelmingly strong.

The machine, after the manner of motor-cars, took the opportunity of his
momentary relaxation of vigilance to skid rather alarmingly in a
particularly slippery section of clay road. Though Jarvis promptly
brought it about and had things in hand again, Josephine forgot to answer
while she resumed control over the function of breathing. But when her
brother gently repeated his question she answered warmly:

"Indeed I do, boy--and more clearly than I have before. For myself, I
should love to spend the summer with Sally, and I'll do my best to bring
it about."

That was all he wanted, and he plunged into talk about the farm, what had
been done, what was being done, and what remained to do. It seemed that,
while much had been accomplished, a mountain of tasks remained. The place
had been running down so long that every inch of it required immediate
taking in hand.

"There's not much to expect the first year in the way of crops," he
explained. "We shall plough all we can in April, and sow it in May to

"Buckwheat! What do you want of that?"

"Nothing--but to turn it under and give the ground a chance to enrich
itself. All the north meadow we shall let come to the haying--by the way,
that'll be a jolly time for you to be there. I believe Sally has great
plans for the haying. The old apple orchard we had carefully pruned in
February, and we're going to plough it--Sally's not pleased at that, she
says it will be prettier not ploughed; but the poor old roots need to be
saved from starving. We nearly came to blows over that, and of course I
was sorry to oppose her about anything that has to do with the beauty of
the place. But the quickest road to lasting improvement is the one we
must take, and I hope there'll be enough more blossoms on the trees in
the future to make up for the loss of the grass."

"You won't lose ground with Sally by opposing her, now and then. She'll
come round in the end to seeing you're right."

"I'll have plenty of chances to win favour by opposition with everybody.
Even Mr. Rudd has his ideas about what ought to be, because of what was
when he was a boy on the farm up in New Hampshire. Max wanted the new
fence posts of ash, though locust is much more lasting, and there's
plenty to spare in the timber lot. As for the neighbouring farmers,
they're already keenly alive to our first efforts, and some of them are
watching eagerly to see us make mistakes--but not all. There are several
who are progressive enough themselves to want to see us win out with
modern methods."

"With all your studying, I suppose you'll make some mistakes."

"Mistakes!--Dozens of them. But we won't make the same one twice. Jo, if
you could have heard those fellows talk whom I heard on my trip, the ones
who run the really successful farms on scientific methods, you wouldn't
wonder at my interest."

He was still talking away when he turned the car in through the now
restored gateway. It may be worth while to mention that the first thing
in which Max had shown a real interest was the restoration of that
gateway. He had declared--nobody knew why--that it must be in absolutely
correct shape before the Neil Chases came through it again. So the mason
who came to mend the broken chimney found himself, much to his surprise,
put first at the tumble-down stone pillars of the gateway. The carpenter,
also, who arrived prepared to repair the porch columns and floor, and to
mend the broken shutters, was led at once by the young master of the
place to the gateway and instructed that he must make the old gate
itself substantial, and hang it so that it should swing true. But
although it was nearly six months since the Chases had tried to buy the
place, they had not yet driven through that restored gateway. Possibly
they did not care to be in haste to look at the place they could not own.

"There's Sally, in the old garden. She told me she could hardly wait to
begin on it," and Josephine waved her hand at a distant figure with a
spade in its hand. The spade was promptly cast aside and the worker came
running around the house to meet the arriving car. "Isn't she looking
splendidly?" Sally's friend murmured in her brother's ear, as the figure
came near enough for a pair of very blooming cheeks to show clearly in
the April sunshine.

"Never better. Out-door life is going to make her a Hebe," replied the
driver of the car, under his breath, though he kept his eyes dutifully
on the roadway until the car came to a standstill and he had stopped
his engine.

"Come and see the garden, and listen to my plans," commanded Sally, the
moment her friends were on the ground. "No, I don't mean Jarvis. I know
he has more important business--in the orchard, or the barns, or the
woods, or the south lot--"

"Meadow, please," corrected Jarvis, with a smile which suggested past
efforts to teach Sally the nomenclature of the farm.

"--or anywhere that he can walk to in the mud, and come back covered with
stick-tights, with a tear in his coat. He looks happiest when his clothes
are most demoralized and his boots thickest with clay."

"The sign of your true farmer," urged Jarvis.

But Sally had no further attention to bestow on him, and immediately led
Josephine away over the damp and spongy sod to that portion of the ground
at the rear of the house which showed, by a few lingering signs, that it
once had been a proud and stately old-time garden.

"You see the old box border is still in pretty good condition, only
winter-killed--is that the word?--in a few places. I shall try to fill
those in, for I care more for the box than for anything I could have. See
how it outlines all those funny little curving paths, where I suppose
roses and larkspur and bleeding hearts and sweet-williams used to grow.
They're going to grow again, if I can make them."

"Lovely! I can see it now. And phlox--Sally, you must have masses of
phlox--and candy-tuft, and mignonette, and sweet alyssum--"

"And love-in-a-mist, and forget-me-nots, and sweet peas, and hollyhocks.
Only the hollyhocks are not going to be in the garden, but in a long row
back there, to screen away the kitchen garden from the lawn. Only--oh,
dear, you have to wait so long for the things you want most! Hollyhocks
don't bloom the first year from seed--and I want to see them there this
first summer, pink and white and red and yellow in the sun, like a row of
children dressed for a party."

"Can't you get plants somewhere?"

"Perhaps, from the neighbours--only country people don't go in much for
the old-fashioned flowers now. They have rubber-plants and hydrangeas--in
tubs--just think--in tubs! And geraniums in tomato cans!"

"Sally! Not all of them. They have nasturtiums--."

"Yes, and pink sweet peas beside them, to set one's teeth on edge. By the
way, my sweet peas are in!" Her voice proclaimed triumph, and she led the
way down one of the damp, moss-grown paths to a sunny spot where a long
strip of freshly raked earth showed that somebody had lately been at
work. "Bob dug it up for me, Uncle Timmy fertilized it, I raked it and
planted the seeds, while the whole family stood around and gave advice.
Max wanted them sowed thinner and Alec thicker. I consulted the seed
catalogue and the directions on the paper packet, and then sowed them
just as my judgment directed."

"As you haven't a particle of judgment--"

"Experience, you mean. No, I haven't experience, but I consider that I
have judgment, and I sowed the seeds according to that. In June I will
pick you a gorgeous bunch of them."

"In June--if I'm not away somewhere. In which case you can send them to
me in a paste-board box."

"Joey Burnside!" Sally picked up a rake lying in the path and brandished
it fiercely. "Don't you dare to go away--anywhere. You're to come and
visit me--from June till September."

"How would May till November do?"

"Still better. The idea of your expecting me to get along without you,
the very first summer I live in a place big enough for anybody to visit
me in! You can go off to your fashionable resorts in the winter, if you
want to--I can spare you better, then. But this summer! Jo, think of the
moonlight nights, with the odour of mignonette coming up to the porch
from the garden--"

"I don't think the odour of the mignonette would carry so far."

"We can walk within range, then. And the evenings on the porch, with Mr.
Ferry and his sister over--and his sister's friend--"

"I didn't know he had a sister--or that the sister had a friend."

"She's been in Germany the last two years, living with an aunt, and
studying music--the piano. The friend has a voice. Oh, we'll have the
jolliest times--you can't think. And in July will be the haying. Jo,
we'll have larks during haying--real country larks--and a barn dance.
You _can't_ go away anywhere--not even for a week-end house party! Say
you won't!"

"You artful schemer--I don't see how I can," and Josephine looked as if
she couldn't. "But see here, Sally. I couldn't come and visit you here
and leave mother alone. You know she would go with me, if it were to the
mountains or to the sea-side."

"I'd love to have her come too," said Sally, quickly, "if she would care
to. How I wish she would. Then I shouldn't have to bother Mrs. Ferry to
come over every time we had the young people all here. If I could just
furnish the west wing for you--"

"Why not let us furnish it?" Josephine jumped at her opportunity.
Somehow, during the last few minutes she had become firmly convinced
that she could not think of spending the summer months anywhere but at
the farm. All sorts of pictures had leaped into her mind at Sally's
outlines of what the summer was to be. The stage seemed set for
happenings of extraordinary interest, from which she did not want to be
left out. There would be other things going on at the old place besides
ploughings and plantings, harvestings and threshings--or perhaps it might
be that these very terms in the vegetable kingdom might come to be used
significantly of doings in the human sphere of action.

Sally looked up with a flash of protest in her eyes. "Let you furnish
it!" she exclaimed. "Oh, but I couldn't--I know what your furnishing it
would mean. Persian rugs and silk hangings, Satsuma jars and cut-glass
bowls filled with roses. And on the other side of the hall our poor
things would look"--she stopped short, and was silent for an instant.
Then, "I'm an envious pig," she owned. "If you'll only come you may
furnish it in teak wood and Chinese embroidery, and I'll be contented on
my--bare floors."

But Josephine's affectionate arm was around her friend's shoulders.
"Sally Lunn," said she, soothingly, "give us credit for better taste than
that, entirely from the standpoint of harmony. In a summer home on a
farm people of sense don't use Persian rugs or teak wood. We'd put plain
white straw matting on the floors, hang muslin curtains at the windows,
and use the simplest willow furniture to be had. The windows should be
open every minute, and there would be bowls of roses about--only I'd
rather it would be sweet-williams or clove-pinks. Sally, don't you adore
the old-fashioned clove-pinks, with their dear, spicy smell? And the
bowls themselves wouldn't be cut glass--I despise cut glass for
old-fashioned flowers, and so do you. Now, will you let us come?"

Sally looked at her friend for a minute, thinking as she did so that
for a rich girl Josephine Burnside possessed the sweetest common sense
ever owned by anybody. Then she dropped her rake and pulled at
Josephine's hand.

"Come!" she cried. "Let's go back and look at the west wing. And the
bedrooms over it are the nicest in the house. I haven't used them only
because they were so big. But you won't care how many acres of straw
matting have to be used to cover them."

"Do you think Max will be willing for us to come?" Josephine asked with
some anxiety, as they went in. "You remember, about the tent--"

"Oh, he's anxious now to get Jarvis on the ground. And he's spoken more
than once about the desirability of our renting some of our unused space,
only of course I wouldn't hear of it, before, to strangers."

Josephine plunged into details. They would bring Joanna for the season,
that paragon of cooks. She should assist Mary Ann--

At which Sally laughed, and said that if incompetent little Mary Ann
could assist dignified, competent Joanna, it would be a matter for

"We'll all dine together every night in the big dining-room, with all the
windows also open, and more flowers on the table."

Josephine would have gone on to further details, but as they crossed the
hall to the west wing, the knocker on the front door banged with a
decisive sound, and Sally opened to find Donald Ferry on the threshold.

"I came on a matter of business," said he, when he had shaken hands, "if
you can call asking a favour business. Shall I plunge into it?--A certain
storage house in a city near our old home has gone out of commission, and
we are notified that everything my mother has had stored there since we
left the home must be moved at once. Now that my sister and her friend
are to be here with us through the summer we should like to have my
sister's piano where she could use it. But"--he spread out his arms with
a gesture conveying the idea of great proportions--"the piano is a
grand--and not a miniature grand at that--concert size. We couldn't
possibly put it in our little house. Would it be asking too much of you
to allow it to stand in one of your rooms through the summer, where Janet
could do some practising on it? I assure you her practising is of the
nature of a morning musicale," he added--as if Sally might need assurance
in the matter.

Sally turned to Josephine. "It's a special providence," said she
solemnly, "to keep me from envying you your matting and willow furniture.
Will you have a concert grand in the west wing? I trow not."

Then she answered to her questioner. "Of course we shall be delighted,"
she told him. "And as I say, it will have a chastening effect on the
Burnside family, who are thinking of furnishing our west wing and
spending the summer with us. I'm sure they won't think of bringing a
grand piano out here."

Donald Ferry looked greatly pleased at this news. "That's fine," said
he. "Mother has been promising Miss Constance Carew and Janet all
sorts of pleasures in the country, and I should say this makes a sure
thing of it. If four girls on a farm can't have a good time
together--even when not aided and abetted by as many boys--there will
be something wrong with them--and the boys. Can't we be called
boys?--That's great news. And I may tell mother you will prove your
good friendship by taking the white elephant of a piano? May we send it
right away? You see, since it must be moved at once, it had best come
where it is to stay. And we'll send around a tuner. Please use it all
you can, just to keep it in good shape."

"I'm not the tiniest sort of a musician," said Sally regretfully. "But
Josephine is--she'll keep it in tune for you. I'll merely see that
it's dusted."

When he had gone Sally and Josephine looked at each other. "Miss
Burnside," said Sally, solemnly, "I feel it in my bones that you and Miss
Ferry and Miss Carew and Miss Lane are to take part, this summer, in a
melodrama of thrilling interest. Country setting, background of
hay-field, with cows coming down the lane. Curtain rises to the time of
'Sweet Lavender.' Miss Burnside is discovered, sun-bonnet on head, rake
in hand, pretending to accomplish the bunching up of one hay-cock before
the sun goes down. Enter at right young city clergyman, also in rustic
attire. At the same time, enter, left, Miss Carew, in rival sun-bonnet.
Miss Burnside gives one glance at her rival--"

But a warm hand over Sally's saucy mouth, and a protesting--"Sally Lane,
if you begin that sort of thing I won't live a minute in your west
wing,"--put an end to the stage directions.

"All right, dear," agreed Sally. "We won't talk any such silly stuff.
We'll be four little country girls together, playing in the hay, and if
we want to go barefoot we will--when there's nobody to see. But I hope,
don't you, Jo? that 'Miss Carew' isn't as grand as she sounds!"



"I feel," said Sally Lane, impressively, "that the way to receive them
properly is to have afternoon tea on the lawn. What is the use of having
a lawn--even though it's still rather hummocky--and four magnificent
ancestral oaks--ancestral oaks sounds like an English novel--if we don't
have afternoon tea on It--under Them?"

She stood in the doorway of the front room in the west wing, where Mrs.
Burnside and Josephine were sitting, the one busy with some small piece
of sewing, the other writing letters at a desk.

"Are they coming over before we call on them?" Josephine inquired, with
poised pen. "Coming to-day? Why, they only arrived last night."

"I saw Mr. Ferry this morning, and he said he did not want to wait for us
to come over with our hats and gloves on and call, he wanted to bring the
girls and his mother over this afternoon, so as to lose no time in having
them find out what was on the farther side of the hedge. I asked him why
he hadn't brought them with him then--it was at eight o'clock this
morning. But he said he wanted to bring them himself, and he was then on
his way to his car--otherwise he thought he should not have hesitated at
all on account of the hour. He said they were crazy to come."

"Sally! He didn't say they were _crazy_ to come."

"He didn't use that particular word, perhaps--men never do, of course.
But he said 'eager,' or 'anxious,' or something like that--it means the
same thing. Evidently they've been told all about us. What would you
give, Jo Burnside, to know how we've been described?"

"We probably haven't been described. Men never describe people. They just
say, 'She's all right, you'll like her,' or something equally vague."

"It would give me a chance to wear my lilac muslin," mused Sally quite
irrelevantly, but Josephine caught her meaning.

"Afternoon tea on the lawn? Then do let's have it. Anything to see you in
that lilac muslin."

"Then we'll trail over the lawn to meet them--only the lilac muslin
doesn't trail--and we'll hold out our hands at a medium sort of angle, so
that we'll be prepared to reciprocate whatever sort of high-low shake
fresh from abroad they give us. Since Dorothy Chase came back last fall
she gives a side-to-side jerk that stops your breath short just where it
happens to be at the moment. What do you suppose they'll be like? Young
ladies from two years' residence in Germany, or just plain, jolly girls?"

Josephine shook her head, but her mother replied in a quiet tone of
conviction: "I doubt if the daughter of that family will be anything
but a simple-mannered girl, no matter how experienced she may be in
foreign usages."

Sally nodded. "So I'm hoping. But 'Miss Carew'--with a voice--sounds more
formidable. It's for Miss Carew I'm going to have afternoon tea. I'll go
out now and make my little cakes. And I'll have very, very thin bread and
butter. I've just one cherished jar of the choicest Orange Pekoe, so the
tea will be above reproach. And my one pride is my linen--you know how
much mother always kept--not only her own but Grandmother Rudd's." Then
she vanished, quite suddenly, from the doorway, as if, having once
mentioned the mother of whom she seldom spoke, she could not come back
again to other subjects until a period of silence had intervened.

"I'm so anxious to see her put away the black clothes," said Josephine
to her mother. "It will be good for her to wear the lilac muslin, for now
she's made it she can't bring herself to put it on, though she knows how
we all want to see her in colours again. Speaking of colours--Jarvis said
this morning that by the fence in the south meadow the grass was blue
with wild violets. I believe I'll go and pick a big bunch for Sally's

"It seems rather early for tea on the lawn," suggested Mrs. Burnside,
"though I couldn't bear to damp Sally's ardour by saying so."

"Oh, it's really very warm, and the lawn seems quite dry. I don't
blame Sally for wanting to show off the 'ancestral oaks.' It's almost
like June."

But--alas for plans which count upon the most June-like May weather--no
guests were served with afternoon tea that day except under a roof more
substantial than the low-hanging boughs of the great oaks. At
mid-afternoon, treacherously enough, the sky showed not a cloud, except
over beyond the timber lot, where they had risen to some height before
they could be discerned from the lawn. There Sally, lilac-clad, was
laying her fine linen cloth, setting out her thin teacups of the old
gold-banded china, and arranging Josephine's blue meadow-violets in a
curious, engraved glass bowl of Grandmother Rudd's. A small gust of wind,
lifting the edges of the heavy damask cloth and nearly capsizing the
violets, first called her attention to a change in the weather. Uncle
Timothy, bringing out chairs at her behest, paused and scanned the
horizon with an experienced eye.

"Looks a little dubious to me, Sally," he observed, although he came on
with his chairs. "Company due pretty soon?"

"It's four o'clock--they'll come very soon, for I sent word that we'd
have tea early on account of its growing cool after five. Yes--there is a
little bit of a dark cloud in the south beyond the woods, but you don't
think it will bring rain right away, do you?"

"If it begins to blow, it will--look out, there--" for another
brisk little zephyr lifted the corner of the tea-table cloth again,
and threatened the teacups. "Weather changes pretty suddenly
sometimes, in May."

"But the sun is so bright--and a minute ago I was thinking that it was
lucky the branches are so thick on this old oak, for the sunshine was
really uncomfortably hot. It can't rain right away. I'll bring out
everything, and be ready to offer them tea the minute they've said 'Good

Sally hurried away to the house, leaving Uncle Timothy standing
guard over the tea-table and keeping a weather eye on the gathering
patch of clouds.

But it could rain right away, as it presently proved. By the time Sally
crossed the lawn with her plates of bread and butter and tiny sugary
cakes, Mary Ann following with the tray holding the tea equipage, there
were strong indications of what was soon to happen. Sally had not more
than decided that it was best to retreat to the porch and await
developments, than the first drops on her upturned forehead warned her
that the retreat could not be too hasty.

The Ferry party, coming through the gap in the hedge a few minutes
earlier than they would have done if it had not seemed expedient to
forestall the gathering shower, saw the scurrying hosts. Jarvis and Max
were with them, for it was Saturday afternoon. The Ferrys themselves were
forced to make haste also, and as a result, guests and hostess, tea-tray
and chairs, bread-and-butter and violets, reached the shelter of the big
porch at nearly the same time, and sixty seconds later the first pursuing
dash of rain rattled against the pillars.

"It's too bad," cried Sally, breathless and laughing, as she turned
around to greet her guests, little curls escaping about her forehead and
over her ears, in spite of all her previous care to insure their smooth
order. But her hand gave warm welcome all around the circle, and she led
the party into the wide hall, now transformed by the waxing of its dark
floor and the presence of several old-time rag rugs, into a
hospitable-looking entrance. "Put the tea-table here by the open door,
please, Max," she directed. "We'll be as near out of doors as we can."

At the first sound of voices Mrs. Burnside and Josephine had appeared,
and between them things were in order in the new setting in less time
than it takes to tell it. A great bunch of daffodils on an old table near
the door made the spot seem quite festive enough for the occasion, and
Sally, when she had caught her breath and pushed back the distracting
curls, proved herself to possess a fair amount of the poise of the
accustomed hostess whom nothing can really upset. She rearranged her
tea-table just inside the hall door, and before she had finished, a dash
of sunshine fell across it, making her declare, as she settled the bowl
of violets, that if the shower could just have confined its efforts to
her garden, which needed watering, and not to sprinkling the lawn, which
didn't need it, she would not have felt so ungrateful to it.

"And we came especially to see the garden," said Janet Ferry. "We've
heard of that garden in every letter since the first of April." She
looked at her brother with a mischievous twinkle in her hazel eyes, much
like his own.

"Do tell me what you have heard," said Sally serenely, preparing to make
her tea, and sending Max for the hot water. "The really important things,
like the coming up of the sweet peas, or unimportant ones, like the
strange way the weeds have of appearing faster than the seeds?"

From the nonchalance of this question it will be seen that Sally herself
thought nothing of the fact that items concerning her garden should have
seemed of sufficient importance to go into the letters of a brother whose
time was ordinarily occupied with affairs much more momentous. The garden
was of overwhelming importance to Sally, why shouldn't it be interesting
to everybody? But there were two people in the company besides his sister
who glanced rather quickly at Donald Ferry. He, however, seemed to think
there could be no reason for anybody's minding what he might choose to
write about.

"Here were two girls," he said, from his position in the doorway,
where he stood leaning against the lintel, watching the process of tea
making, "writing long descriptions of all sorts of rural beauties
they had discovered in their travels about Germany and France--given
them as a reward for long study by a discerning aunt. They professed
special interest in gardens. Should I refrain from telling them about
the only one in sight, even though it couldn't be said to have reached
the show stage?"

"You certainly didn't refrain," said Miss Constance Carew, smiling at him
from her seat near Sally. "We were told that if we would spend the summer
here, one of our chief joys would be the old, box-bordered garden."

"So long as it helped to bring you, I don't regret it," said he,
returning the smile in a way which made those who observed decide at once
that these other two were old and familiar friends. Miss Carew, though
she was not precisely a pretty girl, was really beautiful when she
smiled, and had, at all times, an undeniable charm about her which came
from one knew not just what. She was rather tall but very graceful, and
her manner had about it an indefinable something which made one like to
watch her, admiring each move she made as something done just a little
differently from the way other people did it.

Sally poured her tea, and the three young men handed about the cups.
Everybody fell to talking at once. Max, who had had an approving eye
on Miss Janet Ferry from the first, and had decided that he should much
prefer her conversation to that of her more impressive friend, drew up
a chair beside her when his duties were over, and presently proved her
to be as blithely entertaining as her appearance had promised. She was
a small person in stature, but her personality was one not to be
ignored. She looked like a miniature edition of her brother, heavy
braids of the same red-brown hair wound about her small head, the same
brilliant, good-humoured hazel eyes looking out of a prepossessing
young face, and the same seemingly quick appreciation of everything
other people said and did making her a delightful person to talk with.
Max, as he supplied her with bread-and-butter, plied her with questions
about her life in Germany, and listened to her vivacious stories of her
experiences, thinking that it was a long time since he had met a girl
he liked so well.

"You don't know how much it means to Constance and Janet to find two
girls of their own sort so near," declared Donald Ferry, bringing his cup
to take it with Josephine close beside the doorway. "I think they've been
feeling a little dubious over finding us out here in a place which had
neither lake, seashore, nor mountains to recommend it."

"Perhaps they're still feeling so," suggested Josephine. "There's not
much about tea in a shower to cheer their spirits."

"Do they look as if they needed cheering?"

Josephine glanced from Janet, laughing whole-heartedly at something Max
was apparently describing with great eloquence, to Constance Carew,
leaning back in her chair and looking up at Jarvis, who stood beside her,
with the smile which made her face a picture to study.

"It's delightful for us, I'm sure, that they've come," Josephine
said warmly.

"You'll find Janet up to the wildest schemes for sport you can devise.
And Constance, though she looks so stately, can unbend like a
school-girl. As for her voice--you must hear her pretty soon. Janet is
anxious to touch her old piano again, and both are always obliging with
their music. They are equal to quite a concert between them."

"So we've been hoping. Sally has dusted the piano no less than five
times to-day in anticipation. You can't think what a pleasure it is to
Sally just to see that piano standing there. It happens to be almost
the precise duplicate of the one that was sold when her old home was
broken up."

"I'm glad. I hope she uses it?"

"Not in a way that she would let me call using it. She sits down
and plays little bits--mostly out of her head, I think. She--Why,
what's that?"

It was Bob, tearing by the front door and yelling as he ran:

"Team running away in the south meadow--man knocked down!"

In an instant three teacups clinked and clattered as they were set
hastily down, and three male figures bolted out of the door, without
apology further than three ejaculations of surprise and chagrin. Mr. Rudd
followed at a brisk walk. As for the portion of the company remaining,
they also put aside teacups and plates, and followed Sally to the

They ran in to the four windows of the long room, between two of which
stood the piano. Janet Ferry gave it a private nod and pat as she went
by, whispering, "You dear old thing! I'll speak to you as soon as I can."

They could see the runaway team, a plough jerking at their heels, dashing
madly across the furrows, one of the horses apparently much wilder than
the other. They saw Jarvis, Ferry, and Max reach the rail fence at nearly
the same moment, and go over it at a rate of speed which suggested danger
to trousers-legs. Bob could be discerned, racing frantically in the wake
of the careering horses, and in the nearer distance Mr. Rudd could be
heard shouting something wholly unintelligible.

One of the running figures halted near the fence, stooping, and the
watching eyes understood that the presumably injured ploughman was
lying there.

"It's Don that has stopped," said Janet Ferry to her mother. "Now
he'll probably have a new case on his hands. I do hope the man isn't
much hurt."

"I can't stay here to look!" cried Sally, and, gathering up her lilac
skirts, ran away out of the room. In a moment they saw her flying across
the wet grass, her tea-party forgotten.

"I am going too," and Janet Ferry, delicate folds of pale gray silk
caught up as Sally had caught up her muslin, was off in Sally's train.

Josephine and Constance Carew looked at each other. The guest nodded. "I
don't mind the wet grass," said she--though one glance at the ephemeral
fabric of her frock made Josephine say, as the two hurried to the hall,
"Had you really better? The grass is soaking."

"Who cares for clothes when there's a runaway?" replied Miss Carew.
"Besides, this will tub, and yours won't."

"But the man may be badly hurt," and away went Josephine, high-heeled
pumps making her flight a trifle dangerous, over the slippery turf. And
her guest ran at her side.

By the time they reached the meadow fence the team had been brought
panting to a standstill, cornered by Bob and Jarvis at the far end of the
meadow. When Donald Ferry looked up from the prostrate form of the
ploughman, he beheld four figures in dainty dresses also brought to a
stand-still by a splintery rail fence over which it did not seem
discretion to attempt to scramble unless the need were dire.

It was not dire. Jake Kelly had only been stunned by striking his head
upon a big stone just upturned by his plough. He was already opening his
eyes and the colour was returning to his sunburned face. He put his hand
to his head.

"All right," called Ferry to the row of anxious faces by the fence, at
which the tense expressions relaxed, and certain dimples began to play.
If nobody were seriously hurt, the situation certainly had its amusing
side. Five minutes ago they had all been demurely drinking afternoon tea,
with the most correct society manners evident on all sides. They had not
known each other very well, but each had wondered what the others were
like upon less formal occasions. And suddenly a decidedly less formal
occasion had been precipitated into their midst.

"Guess I ain't much the wuss for wear," declared Jake Kelly, sitting up.
"All's hurt's my feelin's at havin' that there team git away from me like
that. The old mare's steady's a clock--thought she could hold the young
one down, if he did git lively. Dunno now what he took off at. Serves me
right for trustin' 'em a minute while I lit up my pipe."

Bob, on the old mare's back, and Jarvis, at the bits of the young horse,
were bringing back the plough undamaged by its brisk career across the
field. Jarvis certainly presented a somewhat incongruous appearance in
his afternoon attire, as he plunged along the furrows in foot-gear not
intended for locomotion over freshly ploughed land. Jake rose to his
feet, answering the queries of Ferry at his side as to his fitness for
continuing work with a decided: "Sure I am. Sha'n't get even with myself
for that fool trick till I've done a good dozen furrows. You don't ketch
that there pair o'hosses gittin' away from Jake Kelly again this day!"

"The rescue party may as well go back to the teacups," observed
Jarvis, as the whole group, standing partly on the one and partly on
the other side of the rail fence, watched the now subdued team take a
fresh start under the guidance of a vigilant driver with a large bump
on the back of his head, which he had refused to have treated in any
way but with contempt.

Saying which, Jarvis mounted the fence--tearing a slight rent near the
hem of his trousers-leg because he was not looking where he went. He had
been observing the effect of the now brilliant sunshine on an uncovered
fair head, and in the fashion of Jake he accepted the proffered sympathy
of Bob on the disaster to his clothing with a murmured: "Serves me right
for not attending strictly to business."

The company marched back in more orderly ranks than it had come forth.
Max found himself by the side of Constance Carew, and discovered that she
had quite as strong a sense of humour as Janet Ferry, for she described
to him most amusingly the way in which the four girls had abandoned all
concern for their afternoon finery, and had rushed forth prepared to help
bear a stretcher down a wet ploughed field, or share in dashing about in
the attempt to catch the runaway team.

"This is what comes," said he, in reply, and looking around at Sally with
mirth in his eye, "of trying to be fashionable on a farm."

"Trying to be fashionable!" cried Sally, behind him, catching the words.
"I was merely trying to be hospitable. But Fate evidently didn't mean I
should be either. Twice in one afternoon!"

"Let's go back and turn the tea-drinking into a musicale," suggested
Ferry. "I know my sister is longing to get her hands on the piano."

"You shouldn't propose to have your own family perform," Janet reproached
her brother.

"Why shouldn't I? I haven't heard you play for two years, nor Constance
sing for three. No false modesty shall keep me from demanding to be

"I heard somebody telling somebody else I had dusted the piano five times
to-day," said Sally, as she led the way in, "and I surely ought to be
rewarded for such care as that."

So they trooped in, a somewhat less faultlessly attired party than they
had gone out, for Sally's curls were more rebellious than ever,
Josephine's skirts had a mud stain on their hem, Jarvis's rent showed
plainly, and everybody's foot-gear was decidedly the worse for the run
over wet sod and fresh earth. But they had left behind them all stiffness
born of untried acquaintance, had discovered that there was nobody in the
company who could not be depended upon to play a gallant part in whatever
emergency might arise, and were in a mood thoroughly to enjoy the
remainder of the visit.

Without being asked again Janet went straight to the piano, sat down at
it as if it were the old friend it claimed to be, and with one or two
affectionate soft layings of her hands upon it in almost noiseless
chords, as if she were asking it something to which it responded under
its breath, swept into a movement from one of the greatest compositions
the world knows.

When she finished she looked up at her brother, who had come to stand
close beside the instrument. Her eyes were full of tears, and his were by
no means free from a suspicion of moisture. Evidently the sound of the
familiar keys had many associations for both, and they were associations
which their mother shared, for her face was turned away toward the open
window, and she was very still.

But in a minute more Janet had turned to beckon to her friend, and was
beginning an accompaniment without so much as waiting for Constance to
reach the piano. Smiling, the tall girl found a place beside it just in
time to take up her part. And then--the listeners held their breath. The
golden notes rang through the rooms and out upon the warm May air, while
the singer herself seemed as little to be "performing" as if the song had
been a mere child's play tune.

"What made you start with that?" protested Constance, in her friend's
ear, the moment it was over. "Such a show song!"

But Donald, from the other side of the piano, leaned across. "Don't
mind," he whispered. "Any of the simple things would have done us out
just now."

Constance nodded quickly. The next minute, with a word to Janet, she had
plunged into a gay little German song, with a spirit in it as light as
the spring itself, and every one was smiling.

When they had gone, Jarvis, passing through the hall with a glance into
the room where the piano stood, caught a glimpse of Sally standing by the
open window, looking after the four who were just disappearing through
the hedge. He crossed the room softly and looked out over her head.

"They're all right, aren't they?" said he.

"Splendid!" agreed Sally. "I like them both, even more than I expected."
Then she added, in a lower tone, "I'd give the hair off my head to be
able to make such music as that, either with my hands or with my voice."

Jarvis, smiling to himself, unperceived touched one fair strand with a
reverent hand. "I wouldn't give," said he, "even for such magnificent
music as that, so much as that one curl over your right ear--if another
wouldn't grow there in its place."

Sally faced about. "The idea!" said she. "Of course you wouldn't. It's
not yours, sir, to give! But I'd cut it off, when you weren't looking!"



"Shall we make the haying a society affair for ladies in French frocks,
or an athletic event for a lot of young fellows who don't know a rake
from a pitchfork?"

The questioner was a tall young man in corduroy trousers and high boots,
a blue flannel shirt and a nondescript hat--though the hat had come off
as he approached the garden, where Sally Lane, in blue gingham and short
sleeves, was carefully setting out some spice-pink roots.

Sally looked up. She had become accustomed in a measure to seeing
the heir of the house of Burnside thus attired, and to noting the
daily deepening coat of tan upon his face and arms, but it never
failed to strike her afresh as a miracle which a year ago would not
have seemed possible.

"I haven't the faintest intention of inviting any ladies in French
frocks," she replied. "Do you know any gentlemen in frock coats who wish
to be asked?"

"Plenty--but I'm not asking any invitations for them--this time.
No--it's a bunch of the Reverend Donald Ferry's friends I want to

"The Reverend--how odd that sounds!--Who are they?"

"News-boys, boot-blacks, office-boys, messenger boys--every kind of boy.
He proposes to buy or borrow the rakes and pitchforks, have out a
different set of lads for two days running, and present us with the
labour of the crowd in return for the lark he expects it to be for them.
Janet and Constance will supply the lunch. Of course the amount of work
the boys do isn't to be reckoned on like that of trained hands. But our
ten acres of hay isn't a tremendous crop, and with Jake Kelly and myself
to boss the job, we ought to get through in respectable season, if the
weather favours."

"Do have them come. Max is going to let Bob have his way at last, and
leave the office, so he'll be on hand, too."

"Good! Bob's been on tenter-hooks all the week, I know, but I didn't know
old Max had given in. Alec will be the next deserter from the ranks of
the business men. Max may hang on through this season and next, but
you'll see him with us the third, or I'll sacrifice my hat." He surveyed
the specimen in his hands as he spoke. "Valuable offering it would make,
wouldn't it? That hat began its career at a university and ends it on a
farm. In my present state of mind I don't call that a come-down."

"Don't you?" asked a voice behind him, and Jarvis swung round to behold
Janet Ferry, gloves and weeding instrument in hand. "Then I suppose it's
not a come-down for my gloves, bought in Berlin, worn in London, and worn
out in Sally's service in a garden composed mostly of weeds."

"Weeds! Will you have the goodness to look at my sweet-peas?" Sally
indignantly waved an earth-bestained hand toward the trellis, where three
pink, one white, and one brilliant crimson blossom flaunted themselves in
the July sunshine as the first blooms of the sweet-pea season.

"I take it back," admitted Janet, "and I'll not call my work 'weeding.'
What are you doing, idling here, Mr. Farmer? I thought you never allowed
a moment to go to waste."

"I'm not wasting any now," disputed the farmer. "I merely paused a moment
on my way to the barn where I intend to rig up a fork for unloading. I'm
consulting the Lady of Strawberry Acres about letting your brother's boys
come and rake hay for us."

"Oh, yes. He's full of that plan. I'll give you fair warning, Sally,
if you give Don half an opening he'll have you overrun here with his
proteges. Have you the least idea how many men, boys, and babies he
has on his lists? And every one of them is a personal and particular
friend of his."

"I know he's a tremendous worker." Sally rose to her feet and surveyed
the result of her labours. "They look dreadfully droopy, don't they?"

"You need more water. I'll get it." And Jarvis picked up her
sprinkling-can and was off with it.

"I shall be delighted to have the boys come, Janet," Sally went on
heartily. "I think your brother's work is fine--great--and if the old
farm can help in any way I shall be glad."

"I thought you were arranging to have a house-party from town, and I was
afraid his plan would interfere."

"I did plan that, some time ago, but I like this idea much better. What's
the use of exerting ourselves to entertain a lot of indifferent people
when we can give a jolly time to the ones who never have any fun at all?"

"That's what Don says. And these boys are his special care. He has
club-rooms for them in the city, and he's working now to get all
sorts of additions to it--baths and showers and gymnasium apparatus.
Oh, I think it's fine, too. I didn't at first, when he wrote me about
it, but now that I'm here and see for myself, I'm immensely interested
and want to help."

They discussed the coming event fully as they worked. It was discussed
by everybody during the next few days, and plans were carefully
perfected with the view of combining a good time for the young guests
with the serious purpose of getting the haying done as promptly and
effectually as possible.

So, on a certain day in early July, Jake Kelly cut the hay, the entire
ten acres, and reported a fair crop for land that had been running wild
so long, a rather rainy spring having helped matters considerably. On the
morning of the next day Ferry's boys were to arrive.

"I wish it were a holiday for me," admitted Max, as he left the house to
catch his car. "I'd rather enjoy seeing the mess Ferry and Jarve get into
with a corps of bootblacks to make hay for them. They'll '_make hay_,'
all right, mark my word."

"Each of us girls is going to drive one load down to the barn," called
Sally gayly, from the porch.

As he ran down the driveway, Max waved his hand with a gesture of
despair as if to indicate that this announcement certainly finished the
prospect of getting anything done on the farm.

"Don't mind him," said Jarvis, appearing in the doorway behind her. "I'm
going to drive out the Southville road about five miles after a hay-fork
and tackle I've bought of a man who's selling out. We don't really need
one for our small crop, but it's too cheap to refuse. Back in a jiffy.
Don't you want to go?"

"Thank you--too busy."

"You don't look it--" for she was starting away at a moderate pace down
the driveway, her fresh blue-and-white print skirts giving forth a crisp
little sound as she walked.

"But I am. I'm going on an errand."

"Which way?"

"Down the road--Mrs. Hill's."

"Wait a minute and I'll have you there quicker than you can walk."

He ran in for his driving-gloves, and out through the back hall to the
old carriage house where the car stood. He was only a minute in getting
under way, for he had learned to leave his machine in a condition in
which it could be used the next time without waiting to fill gasoline
tanks or radiators. It was natural for him to go at things in a
systematic way, and he kept his car, as he kept his books and papers, in
order, quite without thinking much about it.

But with all his haste Sally had reached the driveway and gone a rod or
two down the road before he overtook her. He slowed down at her side.

"Why didn't you wait? Jump in," said he, "and I'll have you there in one
burst of speed."

Sally stepped up on the running board and stood there, her arm on the
back of the roadster's seat.

"Get clear in, please," requested Jarvis. "There'll be no bursts of speed
with you standing there."

"I can hold on perfectly well."

"So can the car stand still. It will stand still till you get in."

Sally took the seat. "Now hurry up, please," said she. "There isn't any
use in my getting in at all, just for a foot or two of ride."

The car moved off. "Let's make it longer," Jarvis urged. "Drive out with
me for the fork. We won't be half an hour away, and you can't have
anything very pressing left on hand, with all the work you girls have
done to get ready for those youngsters."

He opened his throttle, as he spoke, and the car responded. Sally shook
her head, decidedly.

"No, no--I'm not going. I told Jo I'd be back in five minutes with the
big pail Mrs. Hill said we might take for the lemonade."

"They won't need lemonade for two hours yet. Come on--I want company."

"Slow down, please," requested Sally, for the car was already approaching
the farm house which was her destination. But instead of slowing down
Jarvis deliberately increased his speed.

"I'm in the habit of doing most things you ask me to," said he, "but this
time I'm going to have my way. There are plenty of people there to finish
it all, this morning. I'll have you back before they miss you." And the
car shot by the Hill farm house at a pace which supported his promise.

Sally sat back silently. Although Jarvis went on talking about various
things she did not reply, and her silence lasted until, having gone a
mile on his way, Jarvis slowed down a little and turned to look at her.

"What's the matter?" he asked. "You're certainly not angry with me for
running away with you?"

She nodded, looking straight ahead. This was not like Sally, who, though
she possessed plenty of spirit, was seldom known to sulk.

"Well, I'm sorry if you are--but not sorry I ran away with you. You can
talk to me or not, but you can't get away. I'm in too much of a hurry to
have time to take you back, so I can keep you to myself for one straight
half-hour. And that's--whether you know it or not--more than I've had for
a month--six weeks--two months."

This declaration unlocked Sally's lips. "How absurd," said she, still
gazing straight ahead.

"It may be absurd, but it's true. You may not have noticed it, but it's
true just the same. I don't know whether it's intentional on your part or
not--and I don't know which I would rather have it, that you've meant to
keep away, or that you haven't noticed that you have. I think," he added,
judicially, "that not knowing that you have would be much the worse, so I
choose to think you've meant to do it. And I want to know why."

He turned and looked at her again. The cheek next him was pink, and
momentarily growing pinker. Sally again murmured something which sounded
like "perfectly absurd." But Jarvis considered that no answer at all. The
car began to climb a long grade.

"Please tell me," he urged.

"There's nothing to tell," said the girl, reluctantly. "There are ever so
many of us, now, and we're naturally all together--or some of us are

"And some of us aren't."

"We're just a lot of boys and girls--"

"Are we? I feel rather grown up myself."

Sally spoke quickly. "I'm not. Or, at least, I don't want to be. I want
to stay a girl--a little girl, I'd be, if I could--just as long as I can.
I want to have good times--all together. Not--two and two." The cheek
next him was a very deep pink indeed, now.

"Do I try to make it 'two and two'?"

"You seem to."

"And you don't want me to?"


"If I happen to see you alone in the garden, must I go and get your Uncle
Tim or my mother?"

"Not if you'll talk sense."

"I don't talk sense?"

Sally did not answer this question, so he repeated it, in the form of an
accepted statement: "So I don't talk sense."

This certainly called loudly for an explanation, and Sally made it--in a
way. "I think you know what I mean."

"I know what _I_ mean, but I didn't know it deserved that name."

"It's only--" Sally hesitated, then she went through with it, speaking
hurriedly: "I don't want you to bother about me--doing things for
me--except as you do them for us all. You--you--are getting--"

"Well, what am I getting? Out with it!"

"To seem--not like my old friend Jarvis Burnside. And--I'd rather have
him back."

It was certainly out now. Jarvis drove on up the hill steadily, without
any further questioning. It was precisely like Sally thus bravely to have
shown him where he stood. It was a position clearly defined; he had stood
on it so long that he ought surely to be able easily to go back to it.
But he had driven to the top of the hill and on for two miles down the
road, had taken the turn to the left and pursued that road for another
mile, so that he was nearly at his destination, before he spoke. When at
last he did speak it was only to say, very quietly and cheerfully--at
least, so it sounded:

"All right, Sally."

Then he turned in at an open gate, and in less than five minutes,
with the hay-fork and tackle and ropes at their feet, he was turning
out again.

The drive back was rather a silent one. Jarvis spoke often, and Sally
replied, but it was about things to be seen along the wayside, or of the
plans for the day. The trip was made rather faster than it had been
done in coming, and the pace was excuse enough for there being no
prolonged conversation on any subject. Jarvis was now an expert driver
and by no means an over-cautious one, though he took no risks that he
would have called by that name, when he was not alone. More than once
his passenger held her breath, but realized afterward that she had been
in no real danger. Then they were at home, and Sally was saying, "Thank
you very much," as she jumped out, quite as if she had eagerly requested
to be taken.

"You are entirely welcome," was his response, in such an odd tone that
she looked round at him. He was smiling, but not at her--at the driveway
before him, and she could not help noting that he did not appear to be at
all crushed by anything that had occurred that morning. It struck her
that he had never seemed a stronger or more attractive figure than he
looked at this moment, sitting at the wheel with the bright July sunlight
touching his brown cheek and clean-cut profile; his head, with its heavy
crop of dark hair, bare and breeze-tossed; his powerful engine throbbing
before him. Suddenly she wanted to say: "You don't mind, do you?" with a
queer little feeling that he didn't mind quite enough! But the car was
already off, and she went on into the house with a sense of not feeling
quite so relieved as might have been expected at having brought about
something she had been wishing for some time to accomplish, but hadn't
known just how.

But she had no time left in which to do any thinking about her own
affairs. As was easily to be discerned by the distant shoutings, Ferry's
city guests had arrived, and had taken possession of the hayfield. From
the kitchen window they could be seen, swarming about with rakes and
pitchforks, like so many black spiders. There were many more of them than
could possibly be used to any advantage, it seemed; but as about half of
the distant figures appeared to be standing on their heads it might be
taken for granted that employment of some sort could be had for

At noon the four girls captured Jake and his horses, filled the bottom of
the hay-wagon with baskets and pails, and were borne up to the fields,
where they were hailed with cheers. Under a tall elm, at one side of the
scene of operations, they spread the lunch, and a motley crowd was
presently encamped around it. Their entertainers thought they had never
seen a happier lot of youngsters. They were of all sorts and sizes, but
in one point they were alike: their ignorance of the country and their
delight in this interesting and novel experience. They were very plainly
all devoted friends of the young man who had brought them there, as could
be seen in their every look at him.

"How long have you known Mr. Ferry?" Josephine asked of one slim, tall
lad, with black hair drooping over a pair of sharp black eyes, his pale
face full of animation.

"Oh, ever since he come down our street one day an' axed me 'bout a
feller I knowed that jes' come back from the horspital. Chap got run
over--Mr. Ferry was feared he wouldn't have no home to stay in when he
got out o' horspital. No more he didn't--till then. After that day, he
did, all right."

Josephine glanced toward the subject of these remarks and then back at
the lad, who nodded. "Bet yer life 'twas him fixed it," he declared.
"There don't no kid go without some kind of a home, if he can fix
things for 'em."

"You boys must think a good deal of him," suggested Josephine.

The boy's lips answered only "You bet!" But his face instantly
became eloquent.

After lunch the first load of hay was pitched upon the wagon, Jarvis,
Jake, and Ferry wielding the pitchforks, Sally driving, and a big boy at
the bridle of the colt that had run away during the ploughing season and
so could not be trusted entirely to Sally, although she begged to be
allowed to manage him without help. He was not exactly a colt, after all,
being four years old, but he was new in the traces of the work-horse and
Jake kept an eye on him.

"You fellers pitch pretty well fer green hands," acknowledged Jake, when
the load was nearly on. He was on the wagon with Sally, placing the
forkfuls as they were pitched on. "Expected to see one or 'tother of you
git winded and go set down under the ellum. 'Bout the third load'll git
you, though, I calc'late."

The two contestants exchanged laughing glances under the forkfuls at
the moment lifted above their heads. "This fellow's a Hercules for
muscle," said Jarvis to Jake, "but I've discovered several places in my
anatomy not so well developed as they might be. I'm going to get after
them right away and train them up to the standard. Great Caesar, but
it's a hot day!"

He stood up and wiped his perspiring brow.

"I think it's deliciously cool," remarked Sally from the top of the load.

"It's perfectly comfortable here," called Janet, from the fence near by,
where the other three girls were perched.

Jake grinned. He had been grinning more or less all day. This "haying
it" with a field full of boys and young ladies was a new and interesting
experience for Mr. Kelly.

At this moment a diversion arose. Two of the guests, disputing for the
possession of a pitchfork, both naturally preferring it to a rake for
bunching up from the winrows--being raked by Bob with a horse-rake--had
decided to settle the matter, street fashion, with their fists. They were
pretty evenly matched and a rough-and-tumble fight ensued. Ferry stopped
to watch the bout and see that fair play was enforced. Everybody else
stopped work also, and stood looking that way. Jake Kelly, perhaps the
most interested spectator in the field, slid down from the load and
strolled toward the affair, still grinning. Jarvis, with the precaution
of a glance around at the wagon, on the top of which perched Sally, took
a few steps in the same direction. It was hot, and he was glad of a
moment's respite from his labours. He did not see that the lad at the
bridle of the "colt" had relaxed his hold.

Suddenly one of the lads in the affair of the pitchfork got in a bit of
unfair work--unfair according to the standards Ferry had introduced among
these young friends of his. A protesting yell from at least a dozen
throats instantly called the fighters' attention to this fact, and Ferry
himself called out, "No fouls, Bates!"

At the yells the "colt" plunged, carrying his mate with him. Sally,
though unprepared, hung on gallantly to the lines, trying hard to pull
the pair to a standstill. The ground was uneven, and not free from an
occasional stone. The wagon had not gone its own length before a shriek
from the girls on the fence had brought Jarvis, Jake, and Ferry to the
right-about, and all three rushed for the horses' heads. But they were
too late to prevent the accident which is always liable to happen in a
hayfield, particularly when the driver is a novice. The right front wheel
swerved into a hollow, the wagon tipped, the "colt" plunged again. Sally
slipped, and tried to throw herself down in safety upon the top of the
load, but it slid with her, and in an instant the spectators and the
three dashing to the rescue saw the whole load go like a green mountain
to the ground, covering Sally from sight.

Now a forkful of hay is light, but a load of the fragrant stuff is very
heavy and very smothery, and it depends entirely upon where the victim
lands under such an avalanche whether the matter is serious or otherwise.
For a minute nobody could be sure just where the slender, blue-clad
figure might be, for it made no outcry. The hearts of them all were in
their throats for a minute, as the men tore at the hay with their hands,
Jarvis thundering at the tall lad, who seized upon a pitchfork, "Don't
touch it with that, you fool!"

He was blaming himself savagely as he worked for leaving the girl for an
instant, under such conditions. Ferry was calling, "Don't be frightened,
we'll have you out in a minute!" Jake was grunting, "Hope the little gal
ain't far under--hope to mercy she ain't!" and Josephine, Janet, and
Constance were trying to get a chance to help, though the most they could
do was to keep clear of the desperately working arms of the men.

It was Jarvis who, with a hoarse ejaculation of thankfulness, came first
upon a fold of the blue skirt. Sally had not been under the heaviest part
of the load, and doubtless it was only the smother of the hay which kept
her from calling out--if the fall itself had not hurt her. In a minute
more they had her out, very red and choky, her eyes blinded with dust,
her curls full of hay-seed; and she was lying on a soft mound of the
fragrant stuff, the girls fanning her, Ferry bringing her lemonade from
the pail, and Jarvis watching her with his heart in his eyes--only,
fortunately, considering the conversation of the morning, her own eyes
were too full of sticks to see.

"You're not hurt anywhere, dear?" one or other of the girls asked her, at
close intervals, and Sally shook her head each time, until at length she
was able to clear her throat enough to murmur: "Only my feelings, as Jake

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