Part 2 out of 7
striped back emerge, covering long leaps of terror.
Johnny knew the creature for a cat afraid of Uncle
Jonathan. Then he saw the grass move behind the
first leaping, striped back, and he knew there were
more cats afraid of Uncle Jonathan. There were
even motions caused by unseen things, and he
reasoned, "Kittens afraid of Uncle Jonathan."
Then Johnny reflected with a great glow of indigna-
tion that the Simmonses kept an outrageous num-
ber of half-starved cats and kittens, besides a quota
of children popularly supposed to be none too well
nourished, let alone properly clothed. Then it was
that Johnny Trumbull's active, firm imagination
slapped the past of old romance like a most thorough
mustard poultice over the present. There could be
no Lincoln Green, no following of brave outlaws
(that is, in the strictest sense), no bows and arrows,
no sojourning under greenwood trees and the rest,
but something he could, and would, do and be.
That rainy day when Johnny Trumbull was a good
boy, and stayed in the house, and read a book,
marked an epoch.
That night when Johnny went into his aunt
Janet's room she looked curiously at his face, which
seemed a little strange to her. Johnny, since he had
come into possession of his grandfather's watch,
went every night, on his way to bed, to his aunt's
room for the purpose of winding up that ancient
timepiece, Janet having a firm impression that it
might not be done properly unless under her super-
vision. Johnny stood before his aunt and wound up
the watch with its ponderous key, and she watched
"What have you been doing all day, John?" said
"Stayed in the house and -- read."
"What did you read, John?"
"Do you mean to be impertinent, John?"
"No, ma'am," replied Johnny, and with perfect
truth. He had not the slightest idea of the title of
"What was the book?"
"A poetry book."
"Where did you find it?"
"In Uncle Jonathan's library."
"Poetry In Uncle Jonathan's library?" said Janet,
in a mystified way. She had a general impression
of Jonathan's library as of century-old preserves,
altogether dried up and quite indistinguishable one
from the other except by labels. Poetry she could
not imagine as being there at all. Finally she
thought of the early Victorians, and Spenser and
Chaucer. The library might include them, but she
had an idea that Spenser and Chaucer were not fit
reading for a little boy. However, as she remem-
bered Spenser and Chaucer, she doubted if Johnny
could understand much of them. Probably he had
gotten hold of an early Victorian, and she looked
"I don't think much of a boy like you reading
poetry," said Janet. "Couldn't you find anything
else to read?"
"No, ma'am." That also was truth. Johnny,
before exploring his uncle's theological library, had
peered at his father's old medical books and his
mother's bookcases, which contained quite terrify-
ing uniform editions of standard things written by
"I don't suppose there ARE many books written for
boys," said Aunt Janet, reflectively.
"No, ma'am," said Johnny. He finished winding
the watch, and gave, as was the custom, the key to
Aunt Janet, lest he lose it.
"I will see if I cannot find some books of travels
for you, John," said Janet. "I think travels would
be good reading for a boy. Good night, John."
"Good night. Aunt Janet," replied Johnny. His
aunt never kissed him good night, which was one
reason why he liked her.
On his way to bed he had to pass his mother's room,
whose door stood open. She was busy writing at her
desk. She glanced at Johnny.
"Are you going to bed?" said she.
Johnny entered the room and let his mother kiss his
forehead, parting his curly hair to do so. He loved
his mother, but did not care at all to have her kiss
him. He did not object, because he thought she
liked to do it, and she was a woman, and it was a
very little thing in which he could oblige her.
"Were you a good boy, and did you find a good
book to read?" asked she.
"What was the book?" Cora Trumbull inquired,
absently, writing as she spoke.
Cora laughed. " Poetry is odd for a boy," said she.
"You should have read a book of travels or history.
Good night, Johnny."
"Good night, mother."
Then Johnny met his father, smelling strongly of
medicines, coming up from his study. But his father
did not see him. And Johnny went to bed, having
imbibed from that old tale of Robin Hood more of
history and more knowledge of excursions into realms
of old romance than his elders had ever known during
much longer lives than his.
Johnny confided in nobody at first. His feeling
nearly led him astray in the matter of Lily Jennings;
he thought of her, for one sentimental minute, as
Robin Hood's Maid Marion. Then he dismissed
the idea peremptorily. Lily Jennings would simply
laugh. He knew her. Moreover, she was a girl,
and not to be trusted. Johnny felt the need of
another boy who would be a kindred spirit; he
wished for more than one boy. He wished for a
following of heroic and lawless souls, even as Robin
Hood's. But he could think of nobody, after con-
siderable study, except one boy, younger than him-
self. He was a beautiful little boy, whose mother
had never allowed him to have his golden curls
cut, although he had been in trousers for quite a
while. However, the trousers were foolish, being
knickerbockers, and accompanied by low socks,
which revealed pretty, dimpled, babyish legs. The
boy's name was Arnold Carruth, and that was against
him, as being long, and his mother firm about al-
lowing no nickname. Nicknames in any case were
not allowed in the very exclusive private school
which Johnny attended.
Arnold Carruth, in spite of his being such a beau-
tiful little boy, would have had no standing at all
in the school as far as popularity was concerned
had it not been for a strain of mischief which tri-
umphed over curls, socks, and pink cheeks and a
much-kissed rosebud of a mouth. Arnold Carruth,
as one of the teachers permitted herself to state
when relaxed in the bosom of her own family, was
"as choke-full of mischief as a pod of peas. And the
worst of it all is," quoth the teacher, Miss Agnes
Rector, who was a pretty young girl, with a hidden
sympathy for mischief herself -- "the worst of it is,
that child looks so like a cherub on a rosy cloud that
even if he should be caught nobody would believe
it. They would be much more likely to accuse poor
little Andrew Jackson Green, because he has a snub
nose and is a bit cross-eyed, and I never knew that
poor child to do anything except obey rules and learn
his lessons. He is almost too good. And another
worst of it is, nobody can help loving that little imp
of a Carruth boy, mischief and all. I believe the
scamp knows it and takes advantage of it."
It is quite possible that Arnold Carruth did
profit unworthily by his beauty and engagingness,
albeit without calculation. He was so young, it
was monstrous to believe him capable of calculation,
of deliberate trading upon his assets of birth and
beauty and fascination. However, Johnny Trum-
bull, who was wide awake and a year older, was alive
to the situation. He told Arnold Carruth, and
Arnold Carruth only, about Robin Hood and his
"You can help," said this wise Johnny; "you can
be in it, because nobody thinks you can be in any-
thing, on account of your wearing curls."
Arnold Carruth flushed and gave an angry tug
at one golden curl which the wind blew over a
shoulder. The two boys were in a secluded corner
of Madame's lawn, behind a clump of Japanese
cedars, during an intermission.
"I can't help it because I wear curls," declared
Arnold with angry shame.
"Who said you could? No need of getting mad."
"Mamma and Aunt Flora and grandmamma
won't let me have these old curls cut off," said
Arnold. "You needn't think I want to have curls
like a girl, Johnny Trumbull."
"Who said you did? And I know you don't like
to wear those short stockings, either."
"Like to!" Arnold gave a spiteful kick, first of
one half-bared, dimpled leg, then of the other.
"First thing you know I'll steal mamma's or Aunt
Flora's stockings and throw these in the furnace --
I will. Do you s'pose a feller wants to wear these
baby things? I guess not. Women are awful queer,
Johnny Trumbull. My mamma and my aunt Flora
are awful nice, but they are queer about some
"Most women are queer," agreed Johnny, "but
my aunt Janet isn't as queer as some. Rather guess
if she saw me with curls like a little girl she'd cut
'em off herself."
"Wish she was my aunt," said Arnold Carruth
with a sigh. "A feller needs a woman like that till
he's grown up. Do you s'pose she'd cut off my curls
if I was to go to your house, Johnny?"
"I'm afraid she wouldn't think it was right unless
your mother said she might. She has to be real
careful about doing right, because my uncle Jonathan
used to preach, you know."
Arnold Carruth grinned savagely, as if he endured
pain. "Well, I s'pose I'll have to stand the curls and
little baby stockings awhile longer," said he. "What
was it you were going to tell me, Johnny?"
"I am going to tell you because I know you aren't
too good, if you do wear curls and little stockings."
"No, I ain't too good," declared Arnold Carruth,
proudly; "I ain't -- HONEST, Johnny."
"That's why I'm going to tell you. But if you
tell any of the other boys -- or girls --"
"Tell girls!" sniffed Arnold.
"If you tell anybody, I'll lick you."
"Guess I ain't afraid."
"Guess you'd be afraid to go home after you'd
"Guess my mamma would give it to you."
"Run home and tell mamma you'd been whopped,
would you, then?"
Little Arnold, beautiful baby boy, straightened
himself with a quick remembrance that he was
born a man. "You know I wouldn't tell, Johnny
"Guess you wouldn't. Well, here it is --" Johnny
spoke in emphatic whispers, Arnold's curly head close
to his mouth: "There are a good many things in
this town have got to be set right," said Johnny.
Little Arnold stared at him. Then fire shone in
his lovely blue eyes under the golden shadow of his
curls, a fire which had shone in the eyes of some
ancestors of his, for there was good fighting blood
in the Carruth family, as well as in the Trumbull,
although this small descendant did go about curled
and kissed and barelegged.
"How'll we begin?" said Arnold, in a strenuous
"We've got to begin right away with Jim Sim-
mons's cats and kittens."
"With Jim Simmons's cats and kittens?" repeated
"That was what I said, exactly. We've got to
begin right there. It is an awful little beginning,
but I can't think of anything else. If you can, I'm
willing to listen."
"I guess I can't," admitted Arnold, helplessly.
"Of course we can't go around taking away money
from rich people and giving it to poor folks. One
reason is, most of the poor folks in this town are
lazy, and don't get money because they don't want
to work for it. And when they are not lazy, they
drink. If we gave rich people's money to poor
folks like that, we shouldn't do a mite of good.
The rich folks would be poor, and the poor folks
wouldn't stay rich; they would be lazier, and get
more drink. I don't see any sense in doing things
like that in this town. There are a few poor folks
I have been thinking we might take some money
for and do good, but not many."
"Who?" inquired Arnold Carruth, in awed tones.
"Well, there is poor old Mrs. Sam Little. She's
awful poor. Folks help her, I know, but she can't
be real pleased being helped. She'd rather have the
money herself. I have been wondering if we couldn't
get some of your father's money away and give it
to her, for one."
"Get away papa's money!"
"You don't mean to tell me you are as stingy as
that, Arnold Carruth?"
"I guess papa wouldn't like it."
"Of course he wouldn't. But that is not the point.
It is not what your father would like; it is what that
poor old lady would like."
It was too much for Arnold. He gaped at
"If you are going to be mean and stingy, we may
as well stop before we begin," said Johnny.
Then Arnold Carruth recovered himself. "Old
Mr. Webster Payne is awful poor," said he. "We
might take some of your father's money and give
it to him."
Johnny snorted, fairly snorted. "If," said he,
"you think my father keeps his money where we
can get it, you are mistaken, Arnold Carruth. My
father's money is all in papers that are not worth
much now and that he has to keep in the bank
till they are."
Arnold smiled hopefully. "Guess that's the way
my papa keeps HIS money."
"It's the way most rich people are mean enough
to," said Johnny, severely. "I don't care if it's
your father or mine, it's mean. And that's why
we've got to begin with Jim Simmons's cats and
"Are you going to give old Mrs. Sam Little cats?"
Johnny sniffed. "Don't be silly," said he.
"Though I do think a nice cat with a few kittens
might cheer her up a little, and we could steal enough
milk, by getting up early and tagging after the milk-
man, to feed them. But I wasn't thinking of giving
her or old Mr. Payne cats and kittens. I wasn't
thinking of folks; I was thinking of all those poor
cats and kittens that Mr. Jim Simmons has and
doesn't half feed, and that have to go hunting
around folks' back doors in the rain, when cats hate
water, too, and pick things up that must be bad
for their stomachs, when they ought to have their
milk regularly in nice, clean saucers. No, Arnold
Carruth, what we have got to do is to steal Mr.
Jim Simmons's cats and get them in nice homes
where they can earn their living catching mice and
be well cared for."
"Steal cats?" said Arnold.
"Yes, steal cats, in order to do right," said Johnny
Trumbull, and his expression was heroic, even
It was then that a sweet treble, faltering yet
exultant, rang in their ears.
"If," said the treble voice, "you are going to
steal dear little kitty cats and get nice homes for
them, I'm going to help."
The voice belonged to Lily Jennings, who had
stood on the other side of the Japanese cedars and
heard every word.
Both boys started in righteous wrath, but Arnold
Carruth was the angrier of the two. "Mean little
cat yourself, listening," said he. His curls seemed
to rise like a crest of rage.
Johnny, remembering some things, was not so
outspoken. "You hadn't any right to listen, Lily
Jennings," he said, with masculine severity.
"I didn't start to listen," said Lily. "I was look-
ing for cones on these trees. Miss Parmalee wanted
us to bring some object of nature into the class, and
I wondered whether I could find a queer Japanese
cone on one of these trees, and then I heard you
boys talking, and I couldn't help listening. You
spoke very loud, and I couldn't give up looking for
that cone. I couldn't find any, and I heard all
about the Simmonses' cats, and I know lots of other
cats that haven't got good homes, and -- I am going
to be in it."
"You AIN'T," declared Arnold Carruth.
"We can't have girls in it," said Johnny the mind-
ful, more politely.
"You've got to have me. You had better have
me, Johnny Trumbull," she added with meaning.
Johnny flinched. It was a species of blackmail,
but what could he do? Suppose Lily told how she
had hidden him -- him, Johnny Trumbull, the cham-
pion of the school -- in that empty baby-carriage!
He would have more to contend against than Arnold
Carruth with socks and curls. He did not think Lily
would tell. Somehow Lily, although a little, be-
frilled girl, gave an impression of having a knowledge
of a square deal almost as much as a boy would;
but what boy could tell with a certainty what such
an uncertain creature as a girl might or might not
do? Moreover, Johnny had a weakness, a hidden,
Spartanly hidden, weakness for Lily. He rather
wished to have her act as partner in his great enter-
prise. He therefore gruffly assented.
"All right," he said, "you can be in it. But just
you look out. You'll see what happens if you tell."
"She can't be in it; she's nothing but a girl,"
said Arnold Carruth, fiercely.
Lily Jennings lifted her chin and surveyed him
with queenly scorn. "And what are you?" said she.
"A little boy with curls and baby socks."
Arnold colored with shame and fury, and subsided.
"Mind you don't tell," he said, taking Johnny's cue.
"I sha'n't tell," replied Lily, with majesty. "But
you'll tell yourselves if you talk one side of trees
without looking on the other."
There was then only a few moments before
Madame's musical Japanese gong which announced
the close of intermission should sound, but three
determined souls in conspiracy can accomplish much
in a few moments. The first move was planned in
detail before that gong sounded, and the two boys
raced to the house, and Lily followed, carrying a toad-
stool, which she had hurriedly caught up from the
lawn for her object of nature to be taken into class.
It was a poisonous toadstool, and Lily was quite
a heroine in the class. That fact doubtless gave her
a more dauntless air when, after school, the two
boys caught up with her walking gracefully down
the road, flirting her skirts and now and then giving
her head a toss, which made her fluff of hair fly into
a golden foam under her daisy-trimmed straw hat.
"To-night," Johnny whispered, as he sped past.
"At half past nine, between your house and the
Simmonses'," replied Lily, without even looking at
him. She was a past-mistress of dissimulation.
Lily's mother had guests at dinner that night,
and the guests remarked sometimes, within the little
girl's hearing, what a darling she was.
"She never gives me a second's anxiety," Lily's
mother whispered to a lady beside her. "You can-
not imagine what a perfectly good, dependable child
"Now my Christina is a good child in the grain,"
said the lady, "but she is full of mischief. I never
can tell what Christina will do next."
"I can always tell," said Lily's mother, in a voice
of maternal triumph.
"Now only the other night, when I thought
Christina was in bed, that absurd child got up and
dressed and ran over to see her aunt Bella. Tom
came home with her, and of course there was nothing
very bad about it. Christina was very bright; she
said, 'Mother, you never told me I must not get up
and go to see Aunt Bella,' which was, of course,
true. I could not gainsay that."
"I cannot," said Lily's mother, "imagine my
Lily's doing such a thing."
If Lily had heard that last speech of her mother's,
whom she dearly loved, she might have wavered.
That pathetic trust in herself might have caused her
to justify it. But she had finished her dinner and
had been excused, and was undressing for bed, with
the firm determination to rise betimes and dress
and join Johnny Trumbull and Arnold Carruth.
Johnny had the easiest time of them all. He simply
had to bid his aunt Janet good night and have the
watch wound, and take a fleeting glimpse of his
mother at her desk and his father in his office, and
go whistling to his room, and sit in the summer
darkness and wait until the time came.
Arnold Carruth had the hardest struggle. His
mother had an old school friend visiting her, and
Arnold, very much dressed up, with his curls falling
in a shining fleece upon a real lace collar, had to be
shown off and show off. He had to play one little
piece which he had learned upon the piano. He had
to recite a little poem. He had to be asked how old
he was, and if he liked to go to school, and how
many teachers he had, and if he loved them, and
if he loved his little mates, and which of them he
loved best; and he had to be asked if he loved his
aunt Dorothy, who was the school friend and not his
aunt at all, and would he not like to come and live
with her, because she had not any dear little boy;
and he was obliged to submit to having his curls
twisted around feminine fingers, and to being kissed
and hugged, and a whole chapter of ordeals, before
he was finally in bed, with his mother's kiss moist
upon his lips, and free to assert himself.
That night Arnold Carruth realized himself as
having an actual horror of his helpless state of pam-
pered childhood. The man stirred in the soul of the
boy, and it was a little rebel with sulky pout of lips
and frown of childish brows who stole out of bed,
got into some queer clothes, and crept down the
back stairs. He heard his aunt Dorothy, who was
not his aunt, singing an Italian song in the parlor,
he heard the clink of silver and china from the
butler's pantry, where the maids were washing the
dinner dishes. He smelt his father's cigar, and he
gave a little leap of joy on the grass of the lawn.
At last he was out at night alone, and -- he wore long
stockings! That noon he had secreted a pair of
his mother's toward that end. When he came home
to luncheon he pulled them out of the darning-bag,
which he had spied through a closet door that had
been left ajar. One of the stockings was green silk,
and the other was black, and both had holes in
them, but all that mattered was the length. Arnold
wore also his father's riding-breeches, which came
over his shoes and which were enormously large,
and one of his father's silk shirts. He had resolved
to dress consistently for such a great occasion. His
clothes hampered him, but he felt happy as he sped
clumsily down the road.
However, both Johnny Trumbull and Lily Jen-
nings, who were waiting for him at the rendezvous,
were startled by his appearance. Both began to
run, Johnny pulling Lily after him by the hand,
but Arnold's cautious hallo arrested them. Johnny
and Lily returned slowly, peering through the dark-
"It's me," said Arnold, with gay disregard of
"You looked," said Lily, "like a real fat old man.
What HAVE you got on, Arnold Carruth?"
Arnold slouched before his companions, ridiculous
but triumphant. He hitched up a leg of the riding-
breeches and displayed a long, green silk stocking.
Both Johnny and Lily doubled up with laughter.
"What you laughing at?" inquired Arnold, crossly.
"Oh, nothing at all," said Lily. "Only you do
look like a scarecrow broken loose. Doesn't he,
"I am going home," stated Arnold with dignity.
He turned, but Johnny caught him in his little iron
"Oh, shucks, Arnold Carruth!" said he. "Don't
be a baby. Come on." And Arnold Carruth with
difficulty came on.
People in the village, as a rule, retired early. Many
lights were out when the affair began, many went
out while it was in progress. All three of the band
steered as clear of lighted houses as possible, and
dodged behind trees and hedges when shadowy
figures appeared on the road or carriage-wheels were
heard in the distance. At their special destination
they were sure to be entirely safe. Old Mr. Peter
Van Ness always retired very early. To be sure,
he did not go to sleep until late, and read in bed,
but his room was in the rear of the house on the
second floor, and all the windows, besides, were
dark. Mr. Peter Van Ness was a very wealthy
elderly gentleman, very benevolent. He had given
the village a beautiful stone church with memorial
windows, a soldiers' monument, a park, and a home
for aged couples, called "The Van Ness Home."
Mr. Van Ness lived alone with the exception of a
housekeeper and a number of old, very well-disci-
plined servants. The servants always retired early,
and Mr. Van Ness required the house to be quiet for
his late reading. He was a very studious old gentle-
To the Van Ness house, set back from the street
in the midst of a well-kept lawn, the three repaired,
but not as noiselessly as they could have wished. In
fact, a light flared in an up-stairs window, which
was wide open, and one woman's voice was heard
in conclave with another.
"I should think," said the first, "that the lawn
was full of cats. Did you ever hear such a mewing,
That was the housekeeper's voice. The three,
each of whom carried a squirming burlap potato-bag
from the Trumbull cellar, stood close to a clump
of stately pines full of windy songs, and trem-
"It do sound like cats, ma'am," said another voice,
which was Jane's, the maid, who had brought Mrs.
Meeks, the housekeeper, a cup of hot water and
peppermint, because her dinner had disagreed with
"Just listen," said Mrs. Meeks.
"Yes, ma'am, I should think there was hundreds
of cats and little kittens."
"I am so afraid Mr. Van Ness will be disturbed."
"You might go out and look, Jane."
"Oh, ma'am, they might be burglars!"
"How can they be burglars when they are cats?"
demanded Mrs. Meeks, testily.
Arnold Carruth snickered, and Johnny on one side,
and Lily on the other, prodded him with an elbow.
They were close under the window.
"Burglars is up to all sorts of queer tricks, ma'am,"
said Jane. "They may mew like cats to tell one
another what door to go in."
"Jane, you talk like an idiot," said Mrs. Meeks.
"Burglars talking like cats! Who ever heard of such
a thing? It sounds right under that window. Open
my closet door and get those heavy old shoes and
throw them out."
It was an awful moment. The three dared not
move. The cats and kittens in the bags -- not so
many, after all -- seemed to have turned into multi-
plication-tables. They were positively alarming in
their determination to get out, their wrath with one
another, and their vociferous discontent with the
"I can't hold my bag much longer," said poor little
"Hush up, cry-baby!" whispered Lily, fiercely,
in spite of a clawing paw emerging from her own
bag and threatening her bare arm.
Then came the shoes. One struck Arnold squarely
on the shoulder, nearly knocking him down and
making him lose hold of his bag. The other struck
Lily's bag, and conditions became worse; but she
held on despite a scratch. Lily had pluck.
Then Jane's voice sounded very near, as she leaned
out of the window. "I guess they have went,
ma'am," said she. "I seen something run."
"I can hear them," said Mrs. Meeks, queru-
"I seen them run," persisted Jane, who was tired
and wished to be gone.
"Well, close that window, anyway, for I know I
hear them, even if they have gone," said Mrs. Meeks.
The three heard with relief the window slammed
The light flashed out, and simultaneously Lily
Jennings and Johnny Trumbull turned indignantly
upon Arnold Carruth.
"There, you have gone and let all those poor cats
go," said Johnny.
"And spoilt everything," said Lily.
Arnold rubbed his shoulder. "You would have
let go if you had been hit right on the shoulder
by a great shoe," said he, rather loudly.
"Hush up!" said Lily. "I wouldn't have let my
cats go if I had been killed by a shoe; so there."
"Serves us right for taking a boy with curls," said
But he spoke unadvisedly. Arnold Carruth was
no match whatever for Johnny Trumbull, and had
never been allowed the honor of a combat with him;
but surprise takes even a great champion at a dis-
advantage. Arnold turned upon Johnny like a flash,
out shot a little white fist, up struck a dimpled leg
clad in cloth and leather, and down sat Johnny
Trumbull; and, worse, open flew his bag, and there
was a yowling exodus.
"There go your cats, too, Johnny Trumbull,"
said Lily, in a perfectly calm whisper. At that mo-
ment both boys, victor and vanquished, felt a simul-
taneous throb of masculine wrath at Lily. Who was
she to gloat over the misfortunes of men? But retri-
bution came swiftly to Lily. That viciously claw-
ing little paw shot out farther, and there was a limit
to Spartanism in a little girl born so far from that
heroic land. Lily let go of her bag and with diffi-
culty stifled a shriek of pain.
"Whose cats are gone now?" demanded Johnny,
"Yes, whose cats are gone now?" said Arnold.
Then Johnny promptly turned upon him and
knocked him down and sat on him.
Lily looked at them, standing, a stately little
figure in the darkness. "I am going home," said
she. "My mother does not allow me to go with
Johnny rose, and so did Arnold, whimpering
slightly. His shoulder ached considerably.
"He knocked me down," said Johnny.
Even as he whimpered and as he suffered, Arnold
felt a thrill of triumph. "Always knew I could if I
had a chance," said he.
"You couldn't if I had been expecting it," said
"Folks get knocked down when they ain't ex-
pecting it most of the time," declared Arnold, with
more philosophy than he realized.
"I don't think it makes much difference about the
knocking down," said Lily. "All those poor cats
and kittens that we were going to give a good home,
where they wouldn't be starved, have got away,
and they will run straight back to Mr. Jim Sim-
"If they haven't any more sense than to run back
to a place where they don't get enough to eat and
are kicked about by a lot of children, let them run,"
"That's so," said Arnold. "I never did see what
we were doing such a thing for, anyway -- stealing
Mr. Simmons's cats and giving them to Mr. Van
It was the girl alone who stood by her guns of
righteousness. "I saw and I see," she declared, with
dangerously loud emphasis. "It was only our duty
to try to rescue poor helpless animals who don't
know any better than to stay where they are badly
treated. And Mr. Van Ness has so much money he
doesn't know what to do with it; he would have been
real pleased to give those cats a home and buy milk
and liver for them. But it's all spoiled now. I will
never undertake to do good again, with a lot of boys
in the way, as long as I live; so there!" Lily turned
"Going to tell your mother!" said Johnny, with
scorn which veiled anxiety.
"No, I'm NOT. I don't tell tales."
Lily marched off, and in her wake went Johnny
and Arnold, two poor little disillusioned would-be
knights of old romance in a wretchedly common-
place future, not far enough from their horizons for
They went home, and of the three Johnny Trum-
bull was the only one who was discovered. For him
his aunt Janet lay in wait and forced a confession.
She listened grimly, but her eyes twinkled.
"You have learned to fight, John Trumbull," said
she, when he had finished. "Now the very next
thing you have to learn, and make yourself worthy
of your grandfather Trumbull, is not to be a fool."
"Yes, Aunt Janet," said Johnny.
The next noon, when he came home from school,
old Maria, who had been with the family ever since
he could remember and long before, called him into
the kitchen. There, greedily lapping milk from a
saucer, were two very lean, tall kittens.
"See those nice little tommy-cats," said Maria,
beaming upon Johnny, whom she loved and whom
she sometimes fancied deprived of boyish joys.
"Your aunt Janet sent me over to the Simmonses'
for them this morning. They are overrun with cats
-- such poor, shiftless folks always be -- and you can
have them. We shall have to watch for a little while
till they get wonted, so they won't run home."
Johnny gazed at the kittens, fast distending with
the new milk, and felt presumably much as dear
Robin Hood may have felt after one of his successful
raids in the fair, poetic past.
"Pretty, ain't they?" said Maria. "They have
drank up a whole saucer of milk. 'Most starved. I
Johnny gathered up the two forlorn kittens and
sat down in a kitchen chair, with one on each shoul-
der, hard, boyish cheeks pressed against furry, pur-
ring sides, and the little fighting Cock of the Walk
felt his heart glad and tender with the love of the
strong for the weak.
DANIEL AND LITTLE DAN'L
DANIEL AND LITTLE DAN'L
THE Wise homestead dated back more than a
century, yet it had nothing imposing about it
except its site. It was a simple, glaringly white cot-
tage. There was a center front door with two win-
dows on each side; there was a low slant of roof,
pierced by unpicturesque dormers. On the left of
the house was an ell, which had formerly been used
as a shoemaker's shop, but now served as a kitchen.
In the low attic of the ell was stored the shoemaker's
bench, whereon David Wise's grandfather had sat
for nearly eighty years of working days; after him
his eldest son, Daniel's father, had occupied the same
hollow seat of patient toil. Daniel had sat there for
twenty-odd years, then had suddenly realized both
the lack of necessity and the lack of customers, since
the great shoe-plant had been built down in the vil-
lage. Then Daniel had retired -- although he did
not use that expression. Daniel said to his friends
and his niece Dora that he had "quit work." But
he told himself, without the least bitterness, that
work had quit him.
After Daniel had retired, his one physiological
peculiarity assumed enormous proportions. It had
always been with him, but steady work had held it,
to a great extent, at bay. Daniel was a moral
coward before physical conditions. He was as one
who suffers, not so much from agony of the flesh as
from agony of the mind induced thereby. Daniel
was a coward before one of the simplest, most in-
evitable happenings of earthly life. He was a coward
before summer heat. All winter he dreaded summer.
Summer poisoned the spring for him. Only during
the autumn did he experience anything of peace.
Summer was then over, and between him and another
summer stretched the blessed perspective of winter.
Then Daniel Wise drew a long breath and looked
about him, and spelled out the beauty of the earth
in his simple primer of understanding. Daniel had
in his garden behind the house a prolific grape-vine.
He ate the grapes, full of the savor of the dead sum-
mer, with the gusto of a poet who can at last enjoy
triumph over his enemy.
Possibly it was the vein of poetry in Daniel which
made him a coward -- which made him so vulnerable.
During the autumn he reveled in the tints of the
landscape which his sitting-room windows com-
manded. There were many maples and oaks. Day
by day the roofs of the houses in the village be-
came more evident, as the maples shed their crimson
and gold and purple rags of summer. The oaks re-
mained, great shaggy masses of dark gold and burn-
ing russet; later they took on soft hues, making
clearer the blue firmament between the boughs.
Daniel watched the autumn trees with pure delight.
"He will go to-day," he said of a flaming maple
after a night of frost which had crisped the white
arches of the grass in his dooryard. All day he
sat and watched the maple cast its glory, and did
not bother much with his simple meals. The Wise
house was erected on three terraces. Always through
the dry summer the grass was burned to an ugly
negation of color. Later, when rain came, the grass
was a brilliant green, patched with rosy sorrel and
golden stars of arnica. Then later still came the
diamond brilliance of the frost. So dry were the
terraces in summer-time that no flowers would
flourish. When Daniel's mother had come to the
house as a bride she had planted under a window a
blush-rose bush, but always the blush-roses were
few and covered with insects. It was not until the
autumn, when it was time for the flowers to die, that
the sorrel blessing of waste lands flushed rosily and
the arnica showed its stars of slender threads of
gold, and there might even be a slight glimpse of
purple aster and a dusty spray or two of goldenrod.
Then Daniel did not shrink from the sight of the
terraces. In summer-time the awful negative glare
of them under the afternoon sun maddened him.
In winter he often visited his brother John in
the village. He was very fond of John, and John's
wife, and their only daughter, Dora. When John
died, and later his wife, he would have gone to live
with Dora, but she married. Then her husband also
died, and Dora took up dressmaking, supporting
herself and her delicate little girl-baby. Daniel
adored this child. She had been named for him,
although her mother had been aghast before the propo-
sition. "Name a girl Daniel, uncle!" she had cried.
"She is going to have what I own after I have
done with it, anyway," declared Daniel, gazing with
awe and rapture at the tiny flannel bundle in his
niece's arms. "That won't make any difference, but
I do wish you could make up your mind to call her
after me, Dora."
Dora Lee was soft-hearted. She named her girl-
baby Daniel, and called her Danny, which was not,
after all, so bad, and her old uncle loved the child
as if she had been his own. Little Daniel -- he always
called her Daniel, or, rather, "Dan'l" -- was the only
reason for his descending into the village on summer
days when the weather was hot. Daniel, when he
visited the village in summer-time, wore always a
green leaf inside his hat and carried an umbrella
and a palm-leaf fan. This caused the village boys to
shout, "Hullo, grandma!" after him. Daniel, being
a little hard of hearing, was oblivious, but he would
have been in any case. His whole mind was con-
centrated in getting along that dusty glare of street,
stopping at the store for a paper bag of candy, and
finally ending in Dora's little dark parlor, holding his
beloved namesake on his knee, watching her bliss-
fully suck a barley stick while he waved his palm-
leaf fan. Dora would be fitting gowns in the next
room. He would hear the hum of feminine chatter
over strictly feminine topics. He felt very much
aloof, even while holding the little girl on his knee.
Daniel had never married -- had never even h ad a sweet-
heart. The marriageable women he had seen had not
been of the type to attract a dreamer like Daniel Wise.
Many of those women thought him "a little off."
Dora Lee, his niece, privately wondered if her
uncle had his full allotment of understanding. He
seemed much more at home with her little daughter
than with herself, and Dora considered herself a
very good business woman, with possibly an unusual
endowment of common sense. She was such a good
business woman that when she died suddenly she
left her child with quite a sum in the bank, besides
the house. Daniel did not hesitate for a moment.
He engaged Miss Sarah Dean for a housekeeper,
and took the little girl (hardly more than a baby)
to his own home. Dora had left a will, in which
she appointed Daniel guardian in spite of her doubt
concerning his measure of understanding. There was
much comment in the village when Daniel took
his little namesake to live in his lonely house on
the terrace. "A man and an old maid to bring up
that poor child!" they said. But Daniel called
Dr. Trumbull to his support. "It is much better for
that delicate child to be out of this village, which
drains the south hill," Dr. Trumbull declared.
"That child needs pure air. It is hot enough in
summer all around here, and hot enough at Daniel's,
but the air is pure there."
There was no gossip about Daniel and Miss
Sarah Dean. Gossip would have seemed about as
foolish concerning him and a dry blade of field-grass.
Sarah Dean looked like that. She wore rusty black
gowns, and her gray-blond hair was swept curtain-
wise over her ears on either side of her very thin,
mildly severe wedge of a face. Sarah was a notable
housekeeper and a good cook. She could make an
endless variety of cakes and puddings and pies, and
her biscuits were marvels. Daniel had long catered
for himself, and a rasher of bacon, with an egg,
suited him much better for supper than hot biscuits,
preserves, and five kinds of cake. Still, he did not
complain, and did not understand that Sarah's fare
was not suitable for the child, until Dr. Trumbull
told him so.
"Don't you let that child live on that kind of food
if you want her to live at all," said Dr. Trumbull.
"Lord! what are the women made of, and the men
they feed, for that matter? Why, Daniel, there are
many people in this place, and hard-working people,
too, who eat a quantity of food, yet don't get enough
nourishment for a litter of kittens."
"What shall I do?" asked Daniel in a puzzled way.
"Do? You can cook a beefsteak yourself, can't
you? Sarah Dean would fry one as hard as sole-
"Yes, I can cook a beefsteak real nice," said
"Do it, then; and cook some chops, too, and
plenty of eggs."
"I don't exactly hanker after quite so much sweet
stuff," said Daniel. "I wonder if Sarah's feelings
will be hurt."
"It is much better for feelings to be hurt than
stomachs," declared Dr. Trumbull, "but Sarah's
feelings will not be hurt. I know her. She is a wiry
woman. Give her a knock and she springs back
into place. Don't worry about her, Daniel."
When Daniel went home that night he carried a
juicy steak, and he cooked it, and he and little Dan'1
had a square meal. Sarah refused the steak with a
slight air of hauteur, but she behaved very well.
When she set away her untasted layer-cakes and
pies and cookies, she eyed them somewhat anxiously.
Her standard of values seemed toppling before her
mental vision. "They will starve to death if they
live on such victuals as beefsteak, instead of good
nourishing hot biscuits and cake," she thought.
After the supper dishes were cleared away she went
into the sitting-room where Daniel Wise sat beside
a window, waiting in a sort of stern patience for a
whiff of air. It was a very close evening. The sun
was red in the low west, but a heaving sea of mist was
rising over the lowlands.
Sarah sat down opposite Daniel. "Close, ain't
it?" said she. She began knitting her lace edging.
"Pretty close," replied Daniel. He spoke with
an effect of forced politeness. Although he had such
a horror of extreme heat, he was always chary of
boldly expressing his mind concerning it, for he had
a feeling that he might be guilty of blasphemy, since
he regarded the weather as being due to an Almighty
mandate. Therefore, although he suffered, he was
"It is awful up-stairs in little Dan'l's room," said
Sarah. "I have got all the windows open except the
one that's right on the bed, and I told her she needn't
keep more than the sheet and one comfortable over
Daniel looked anxious. "Children ain't ever over-
come when they are in bed, in the house, are they?"
"Land, no! I never heard of such a thing. And,
anyway, little Dan'l's so thin it ain't likely she feels
the heat as much as some."
"I hope she don't."
Daniel continued to sit hunched up on himself,
gazing with a sort of mournful irritation out of the
window upon the landscape over which the misty
shadows vaguely wavered.
Sarah knitted. She could knit in the dark. After
a while she rose and said she guessed she would go
to bed, as to-morrow was her sweeping-day.
Sarah went, and Daniel sat alone.
Presently a little pale figure stole to him through
the dusk -- the child, in her straight white night-
gown, padding softly on tiny naked feet.
"Is that you, Dan'l?"
"Yes, Uncle Dan'l."
"Is it too hot to sleep up in your room?"
"I didn't feel so very hot, Uncle Dan'l, but skeet-
ers were biting me, and a great big black thing just
flew in my window!"
"A bat, most likely."
"A bat!" Little Dan'l shuddered. She began a
little stifled wail. "I'm afeard of bats," she la-
Daniel gathered the tiny creature up. "You can
jest set here with Uncle Dan'l," said he. "It is jest
a little cooler here, I guess. Once in a while there
comes a little whiff of wind."
"Won't any bats come?"
"Lord, no! Your Uncle Dan'l won't let any bats
come within a gun-shot."
The little creature settled down contentedly in the
old man's lap. Her fair, thin locks fell over his
shirt-sleeved arm, her upturned profile was sweetly
pure and clear even in the dusk. She was so deli-
cately small that he might have been holding a fairy,
from the slight roundness of the childish limbs and
figure. Poor little girl! -- Dan'1 was much too small
and thin. Old man Daniel gazed down at her
"Jest as soon as the nice fall weather comes,"
said he, "uncle is going to take you down to the
village real often, and you can get acquainted with
some other nice little girls and play with them, and
that will do uncle's little Dan'l good."
"I saw little Lucy Rose," piped the child, "and
she looked at me real pleasant, and Lily Jennings
wore a pretty dress. Would they play with me,
"Of course they would. You don't feel quite so
hot, here, do you?"
"I wasn't so hot, anyway; I was afeard of bats."
"There ain't any bats here."
"Uncle don't believe there's any skeeters, neither."
"I don't hear any sing," agreed little Dan'l in a
weak voice. Very soon she was fast asleep. The
old man sat holding her, and loving her with a simple
crystalline intensity which was fairly heavenly. He
himself almost disregarded the heat, being raised
above it by sheer exaltation of spirit. All the love
which had lain latent in his heart leaped to life be-
fore the helplessness of this little child in his arms.
He realized himself as much greater and of more
importance upon the face of the earth than he had
ever been before. He became paternity incarnate
and superblessed. It was a long time before he car-
ried the little child back to her room and laid her,
still as inert with sleep as a lily, upon her bed. He
bent over her with a curious waving motion of his
old shoulders as if they bore wings of love and pro-
tection; then he crept back down-stairs.
On nights like that he did not go to bed. All the
bedrooms were under the slant of the roof and were
hot. He preferred to sit until dawn beside his open
window, and doze when he could, and wait with
despairing patience for the infrequent puffs of cool
air breathing blessedly of wet swamp places, which,
even when the burning sun arose, would only show
dewy eyes of cool reflection. Daniel Wise, as he sat
there through the sultry night, even prayed for
courage, as a devout sentinel might have prayed
at his post. The imagination of the deserter was
not in the man. He never even dreamed of appro-
priating to his own needs any portion of his savings,
and going for a brief respite to the deep shadows of
mountainous places, or to a cool coast, where the
great waves broke in foam upon the sand, breathing
out the mighty saving breath of the sea. It never
occurred to him that he could do anything but re-
main at his post and suffer in body and soul and
mind, and not complain.
The next morning was terrible. The summer had
been one of unusually fervid heat, but that one day
was its climax. David went panting up-stairs to
his room at dawn. He did not wish Sarah Dean to
know that he had sat up all night. He opened his
bed, tidily, as was his wont. Through living alone
he had acquired many of the habits of an orderly
housewife. He went down-stairs, and Sarah was in
"It is a dreadful hot day," said she as Daniel
approached the sink to wash his face and hands.
"It does seem a little warm," admitted Daniel,
with his studied air of politeness with respect to the
weather as an ordinance of God.
"Warm!" echoed Sarah Dean. Her thin face
blazed a scarlet wedge between the sleek curtains
of her dank hair; perspiration stood on her triangle
of forehead. "It is the hottest day I ever knew!"
she said, defiantly, and there was open rebellion in
"It IS sort of warmish, I rather guess," said
After breakfast, old Daniel announced his in-
tention of taking little Dan'l out for a walk.
At that Sarah Dean fairly exploded. "Be you
gone clean daft, Dan'l?" said she. "Don't you know
that it actually ain't safe to take out such a delicate
little thing as that on such a day?"
"Dr. Trumbull said to take her outdoors for a
walk every day, rain or shine," returned Daniel,
"But Dr. Trumbull didn't say to take her out if
it rained fire and brimstone, I suppose," said Sarah
Daniel looked at her with mild astonishment.
"It is as much as that child's life is worth to take
her out such a day as this," declared Sarah, viciously.
"Dr. Trumbull said to take no account of the
weather," said Daniel with stubborn patience, "and
we will walk on the shady side of the road, and
go to Bradley's Brook. It's always a little cool
"If she faints away before you get there, you
bring her right home," said Sarah. She was almost
ferocious. "Just because YOU don't feel the heat,
to take out that little pindlin' girl such a day!" she
"Dr. Trumbull said to," persisted Daniel, al-
though he looked a little troubled. Sarah Dean
did not dream that, for himself, Daniel Wise would
have preferred facing an army with banners to going
out under that terrible fusillade of sun-rays. She
did not dream of the actual heroism which actuated
him when he set out with little Dan'l, holding his
big umbrella over her little sunbonneted head and
waving in his other hand a palm-leaf fan.
Little Dan'l danced with glee as she went out of
the yard. The small, anemic creature did not feel
the heat except as a stimulant. Daniel had to keep
charging her to walk slowly. "Don't go so fast,
little Dan'l, or you'll get overhet, and then what
will Mis' Dean say?" he continually repeated.
Little Dan'l's thin, pretty face peeped up at him
from between the sides of her green sunbonnet. She
pointed one dainty finger at a cloud of pale yellow
butterflies in the field beside which they were walk-
ing. "Want to chase flutterbies," she chirped.
Little Dan'l had a fascinating way of misplacing
her consonants in long words.
"No; you'll get overhet. You just walk along
slow with Uncle Dan'l, and pretty soon we'll come
to the pretty brook," said Daniel.
"Where the lagon-dries live?" asked little Dan'l,
"Yes," said Daniel. He was conscious, as he
spoke, of increasing waves of thready black floating
before his eyes. They had floated since dawn, but
now they were increasing. Some of the time he
could hardly see the narrow sidewalk path between
the dusty meadowsweet and hardhack bushes, since
those floating black threads wove together into a
veritable veil before him. At such times he walked
unsteadily, and little Dan'l eyed him curiously.
"Why don't you walk the way you always do?"
"Uncle Dan'l can't see jest straight, somehow,"
replied the old man; "guess it's because it's rather
It was in truth a day of terror because of the heat.
It was one of those days which break records, which
live in men's memories as great catastrophes, which
furnish head-lines for newspapers, and are alluded
to with shudders at past sufferings. It was one of
those days which seem to forecast the Dreadful
Day of Revelation wherein no shelter may be found
from the judgment of the fiery firmament. On that
day men fell in their tracks and died, or were rushed
to hospitals to be succored as by a miracle. And on
that day the poor old man who had all his life feared
and dreaded the heat as the most loathly happening
of earth, walked afield for love of the little child.
As Daniel went on the heat seemed to become pal-
pable -- something which could actually be seen.
There was now a thin, gaseous horror over the blaz-
ing sky, which did not temper the heat, but in-
creased it, giving it the added torment of steam.
The clogging moisture seemed to brood over the
accursed earth, like some foul bird with deadly
menace in wings and beak.
Daniel walked more and more unsteadily. Once
he might have fallen had not the child thrown one
little arm around a bending knee. "You 'most
tumbled down. Uncle Dan'l," said she. Her little
voice had a surprised and frightened note in it.
"Don't you be scared," gasped Daniel; "we
have got 'most to the brook; then we'll be all right.
Don't you be scared, and -- you walk real slow and
not get overhet."
The brook was near, and it was time. Daniel
staggered under the trees beside which the little
stream trickled over its bed of stones. It was not
much of a brook at best, and the drought had caused
it to lose much of its life. However, it was still
there, and there were delicious little hollows of cool-
ness between the stones over which it flowed, and
large trees stood about with their feet rooted in the
blessed damp. Then Daniel sank down. He tried to
reach a hand to the water, but could not. The
black veil had woven a compact mass before his
eyes. There was a terrible throbbing in his head,
but his arms were numb.
Little Dan'l stood looking at him, and her lip
quivered. With a mighty effort Daniel cleared
away the veil and saw the piteous baby face. "Take
-- Uncle Dan'l's hat and -- fetch him -- some water,"
he gasped. "Don't go too -- close and -- tumble in."
The child obeyed. Daniel tried to take the drip-
ping hat, but failed. Little Dan'l was wise enough
to pour the water over the old man's head, but she
commenced to weep, the pitiful, despairing wail of
a child who sees failing that upon which she has
leaned for support.
Daniel rallied again. The water on his head gave
him momentary relief, but more than anything else
his love for the child nerved him to effort.
"Listen, little Dan'l," he said, and his voice
sounded in his own ears like a small voice of a soul
thousands of miles away. "You take the -- um-
brella, and -- you take the fan, and you go real slow,
so you don't get overhet, and you tell Mis' Dean,
Then old Daniel's tremendous nerve, that he had
summoned for the sake of love, failed him, and he
sank back. He was quite unconscious -- his face,
staring blindly up at the terrible sky between the
trees, was to little Dan'l like the face of a stranger.
She gave one cry, more like the yelp of a trodden
animal than a child's voice. Then she took the open
umbrella and sped away. The umbrella bobbed
wildly -- nothing could be seen of poor little Dan'l
but her small, speeding feet. She wailed loudly all
She was half-way home when, plodding along in
a cloud of brown dust, a horse appeared in the road.
The horse wore a straw bonnet and advanced very
slowly. He drew a buggy, and in the buggy were
Dr. Trumbull and Johnny, his son. He had called
at Daniel's to see the little girl, and, on being told
that they had gone to walk, had said something
under his breath and turned his horse's head down
"When we meet them, you must get out, Johnny,"
he said, "and I will take in that poor old man and
that baby. I wish I could put common sense in
every bottle of medicine. A day like this!"
Dr. Trumbull exclaimed when he saw the great
bobbing black umbrella and heard the wails. The
straw-bonneted horse stopped abruptly. Dr. Trum-
bull leaned out of the buggy. "Who are you?" he
"Uncle Dan'l is gone," shrieked the child.
"Gone where? What do you mean?"
"He -- tumbled right down, and then he was --
somebody else. He ain't there."
"Where is 'there'? Speak up quick!"
"The brook -- Uncle Dan'l went away at the
Dr. Trumbull acted swiftly. He gave Johnny a
push. "Get out," he said. "Take that baby into
Jim Mann's house there, and tell Mrs. Mann to
keep her in the shade and look out for her, and you
tell Jim, if he hasn't got his horse in his farm-wagon,
to look lively and harness her in and put all the ice
they've got in the house in the wagon. Hurry!"
Johnny was over the wheel before his father had
finished speaking, and Jim Mann just then drew up
alongside in his farm-wagon.
"What's to pay?" he inquired, breathless. He
was a thin, sinewy man, scantily clad in cotton
trousers and a shirt wide open at the breast. Green
leaves protruded from under the brim of his tilted
"Old Daniel Wise is overcome by the heat," an-
swered Dr. Trumbull. "Put all the ice you have
in the house in your wagon, and come along. I'll
leave my horse and buggy here. Your horse is faster."
Presently the farm-wagon clattered down the road,
dust-hidden behind a galloping horse. Mrs. Jim
Mann, who was a loving mother of children, was
soothing little Dan'l. Johnny Trumbull watched
at the gate. When the wagon returned he ran out
and hung on behind, while the strong, ungainly
farm-horse galloped to the house set high on the
When old Daniel revived he found himself in the
best parlor, with ice all about him. Thunder was
rolling overhead and hail clattered on the windows.
A sudden storm, the heat-breaker, had come up and
the dreadful day was vanquished. Daniel looked
up and smiled a vague smile of astonishment at Dr.
Trumbull and Sarah Dean; then his eyes wandered
"The child is all right," said Dr. Trumbull;
"don't you worry, Daniel. Mrs. Jim Mann is tak-
ing care of her. Don't you try to talk. You didn't
exactly have a sunstroke, but the heat was too much
But Daniel spoke, in spite of the doctor's man-
date. "The heat," said he, in a curiously clear
voice," ain't never goin' to be too much for me again."
"Don't you talk, Daniel," repeated Dr. Trum-
bull. "You've always been nervous about the heat.
Maybe you won't be again, but keep still. When I
told you to take that child out every day I didn't
mean when the world was like Sodom and Gomor-
rah. Thank God, it will be cooler now."
Sarah Dean stood beside the doctor. She looked
pale and severe, but adequate. She did not even
state that she had urged old Daniel not to go out.
There was true character in Sarah Dean.
The weather that summer was an unexpected
quantity. Instead of the day after the storm being
cool, it was hot. However, old Daniel, after his re-
covery, insisted on going out of doors with little
Dan'l after breakfast. The only concession which
he would make to Sarah Dean, who was fairly fran-
tic with anxiety, was that he would merely go down
the road as far as the big elm-tree, that he would sit
down there, and let the child play about within sight.
"You'll be brought home agin, sure as preachin',"
said Sarah Dean, "and if you're brought home ag'in,
you won't get up ag'in."
Old Daniel laughed. "Now don't you worry,
Sarah," said he. "I'll set down under that big ellum
and keep cool."
Old Daniel, at Sarah's earnest entreaties, took a
palm-leaf fan. But he did not use it. He sat peace-
fully under the cool trail of the great elm all the
forenoon, while little Dan'l played with her doll.
The child was rather languid after her shock of the
day before, and not disposed to run about. Also,
she had a great sense of responsibility about the old
man. Sarah Dean had privately charged her not
to let Uncle Daniel get "overhet." She continually
glanced up at him with loving, anxious, baby eyes.
"Be you overhet. Uncle Dan'l?" she would ask.
"No, little Dan'l, uncle ain't a mite overhet,"
the old man would assure her. Now and then little
Dan'l left her doll, climbed into the old man's lap,
and waved the palm-leaf fan before his face.
Old Daniel Wise loved her so that he seemed, to
himself, fairly alight with happiness. He made up his
mind that he would find some little girl in the village
to come now and then and play with little Dan'l.
In the cool of that evening he stole out of the back
door, covertly, lest Sarah Dean discover him, and
walked slowly to the rector's house in the village.
The rector's wife was sitting on her cool, vine-shaded
veranda. She was alone, and Daniel was glad. He
asked her if the little girl who had come to live with
her, Content Adams, could not come the next after-
noon and see little Dan'l. "Little Dan'l had ought
to see other children once in a while, and Sarah Dean
makes real nice cookies," he stated, pleadingly.
Sally Patterson laughed good-naturedly. "Of
course she can, Mr. Wise," she said.
The next afternoon Sally herself drove the rec-
tor's horse, and brought Content to pay a call on
little Dan'l. Sally and Sarah Dean visited in the
sitting-room, and left the little girls alone in the
parlor with a plate of cookies, to get acquainted.
They sat in solemn silence and stared at each other.
Neither spoke. Neither ate a cooky. When Sally
took her leave, she asked little Dan'l if she had had
a nice time with Content, and little Dan'l said,
Sarah insisted upon Content's carrying the cookies
home in the dish with a napkin over it.
"When can I go again to see that other little girl?"
asked Content as she and Sally were jogging home.
"Oh, almost any time. I will drive you over --
because it is rather a lonesome walk for you. Did
you like the little girl? She is younger than you."
Also little Dan'l inquired of old Daniel when the
other little girl was coming again, and nodded em-
phatically when asked if she had had a nice time.
Evidently both had enjoyed, after the inscrutable
fashion of childhood, their silent session with each
other. Content came generally once a week, and
old Daniel was invited to take little Dan'l to the
rector's. On that occasion Lucy Rose was present,
and Lily Jennings. The four little girls had tea to-
gether at a little table set on the porch, and only
Lily Jennings talked. The rector drove old Daniel
and the child home, and after they had arrived the
child's tongue was loosened and she chattered. She
had seen everything there was to be seen at the rec-
tor's. She told of it in her little silver pipe of a voice.
She had to be checked and put to bed, lest she be
"I never knew that child could talk so much," Sarah
said to Daniel, after the little girl had gone up-stairs.
"She talks quite some when she's alone with me."
"And she seems to see everything."
"Ain't much that child don't see," said Daniel,
The summer continued unusually hot, but Daniel
never again succumbed. When autumn came, for
the first time in his old life old Daniel Wise was
sorrowful. He dreaded the effect of the frost and
the winter upon his precious little Dan'l, whom he
put before himself as fondly as any father could
have done, and as the season progressed his dread
seemed justified. Poor little Dan'l had cold after
cold. Content Adams and Lucy Rose came to see
her. The rector's wife and the doctor's sent dainties.
But the child coughed and pined, and old Daniel
began to look forward to spring and summer -- the
seasons which had been his bugaboos through life
-- as if they were angels. When the February thaw
came, he told little Dan'l, "Jest look at the snow
meltin' and the drops hangin' on the trees; that is
a sign of summer."
Old Daniel watched for the first green light along
the fences and the meadow hollows. When the trees
began to cast slightly blurred shadows, because of
budding leaves, and the robins hopped over the
terraces, and now and then the air was cleft with
blue wings, he became jubilant. "Spring is jest
about here, and then uncle's little Dan'l will stop
coughin', and run out of doors and pick flowers," he
told the child beside the window.
Spring came that year with a riotous rush. Blos-
soms, leaves, birds, and flowers -- all arrived pell-
mell, fairly smothering the world with sweetness
and music. In May, about the first of the month,
there was an intensely hot day. It was as hot as
midsummer. Old Daniel with little Dan'l went
afield. It was, to both, as if they fairly saw the car-
nival-arrival of flowers, of green garlands upon tree-
branches, of birds and butterflies. "Spring is right
here!" said old Daniel. "Summer is right here!
Pick them vilets in that holler, little Dan'l." The
old man sat on a stone in the meadowland, and
watched the child in the blue-gleaming hollow gather
up violets in her little hands as if they were jewels.
The sun beat upon his head, the air was heavy with
fragrance, laden with moisture. Old Daniel wiped
his forehead. He was heated, but so happy that he
was not aware of it. He saw wonderful new lights
over everything. He had wielded love, the one in-
vincible weapon of the whole earth, and had con-
quered his intangible and dreadful enemy. When,
for the sake of that little beloved life, his own life
had become as nothing, old Daniel found himself
superior to it. He sat there in the tumultuous heat
of the May day, watching the child picking violets
and gathering strength with every breath of the
young air of the year, and he realized that the fear
of his whole life was overcome for ever. He realized
that never again, though they might bring suffering,
even death, would he dread the summers with their
torrid winds and their burning lights, since, through
love, he had become under-lord of all the conditions
of his life upon earth.
BIG SISTER SOLLY
BIG SISTER SOLLY
IT did seem strange that Sally Patterson, who,
according to her own self-estimation, was the
least adapted of any woman in the village, should
have been the one chosen by a theoretically selective
providence to deal with a psychological problem.
It was conceded that little Content Adams was a
psychological problem. She was the orphan child of
very distant relatives of the rector. When her par-
ents died she had been cared for by a widowed aunt
on her mother's side, and this aunt had also borne
the reputation of being a creature apart. When the
aunt died, in a small village in the indefinite "Out
West," the presiding clergyman had notified Edward
Patterson of little Content's lonely and helpless
estate. The aunt had subsisted upon an annuity
which had died with her. The child had inherited
nothing except personal property. The aunt's house
had been bequeathed to the church over which the
clergyman presided, and after her aunt's death he
took her to his own home until she could be sent to
her relatives, and he and his wife were exceedingly
punctilious about every jot and tittle of the aunt's
personal belongings. They even purchased two
extra trunks for them, which they charged to the
Little Content, traveling in the care of a lady who
had known her aunt and happened to be coming
East, had six large trunks, besides a hat-box and two
suit-cases and a nailed-up wooden box containing
odds and ends. Content made quite a sensation
when she arrived and her baggage was piled on the
Poor Sally Patterson unpacked little Content's
trunks. She had sent the little girl to school within
a few days after her arrival. Lily Jennings and
Amelia Wheeler called for her, and aided her down
the street between them, arms interlocked. Content,
although Sally had done her best with a pretty
ready-made dress and a new hat, was undeniably a
peculiar-looking child. In the first place, she had
an expression so old that it was fairly uncanny.
"That child has downward curves beside her
mouth already, and lines between her eyes, and what
she will look like a few years hence is beyond me,"
Sally told her husband after she had seen the little
girl go out of sight between Lily's curls and ruffles
and ribbons and Amelia's smooth skirts.
"She doesn't look like a happy child," agreed the
rector. "Poor little thing! Her aunt Eudora must
have been a queer woman to train a child."
"She is certainly trained," said Sally, ruefully;
"too much so. Content acts as if she were afraid to
move or speak or even breathe unless somebody
signals permission. I pity her."
She was in the storeroom, in the midst of Con-
tent's baggage. The rector sat on an old chair,
smoking. He had a conviction that it behooved him
as a man to stand by his wife during what might
prove an ordeal. He had known Content's deceased
aunt years before. He had also known the clergyman
who had taken charge of her personal property and
sent it on with Content.
"Be prepared for finding almost anything. Sally,"
he observed. "Mr. Zenock Shanksbury, as I re-
member him, was so conscientious that it amounted
to mania. I am sure he has sent simply unspeakable
things rather than incur the reproach of that con-
science of his with regard to defrauding Content of
one jot or tittle of that personal property."
Sally shook out a long, black silk dress, with jet
dangling here and there. "Now here is this dress,"
said she. "I suppose I really must keep this, but
when that child is grown up the silk will probably
be cracked and entirely worthless."
"You had better take the two trunks and pack
them with such things, and take your chances."
"Oh, I suppose so. I suppose I must take chances
with everything except furs and wools, which will
collect moths. Oh, goodness!" Sally held up an
old-fashioned fitch fur tippet. Little vague winged
things came from it like dust. "Moths!" said she,
tragically. "Moths now. It is full of them. Ed-
ward, you need not tell me that clergyman's wife
was conscientious. No conscientious woman would
have sent an old fur tippet all eaten with moths into
another woman's house. She could not."
Sally took flying leaps across the storeroom. She
flung open the window and tossed out the mangy
tippet. "This is simply awful!" she declared, as she
returned. "Edward, don't you think we are justi-
fied in having Thomas take all these things out in
the back yard and making a bonfire of the whole
"No, my dear."
"But, Edward, nobody can tell what will come
next. If Content's aunt had died of a contagious
disease, nothing could induce me to touch another
"Well, dear, you know that she died from the
shock of a carriage accident, because she had a weak
"I know it, and of course there is nothing con-
tagious about that." Sally took up an ancient
bandbox and opened it. She displayed its contents:
a very frivolous bonnet dating back in style a half-
century, gay with roses and lace and green strings,
and another with a heavy crape veil dependent.
"You certainly do not advise me to keep these?"
asked Sally, despondently.
Edward Patterson looked puzzled. "Use your
own judgment," he said, finally.
Sally summarily marched across the room and
flung the gay bonnet and the mournful one out of the
window. Then she took out a bundle of very old
underwear which had turned a saffron yellow with
age. "People are always coming to me for old linen
in case of burns," she said, succinctly. "After these
are washed I can supply an auto da fe."
Poor Sally worked all that day and several days
afterward. The rector deserted her, and she relied
upon her own good sense in the disposition of little
Content's legacy. When all was over she told her
"Well, Edward," said she, "there is exactly one
trunk half full of things which the child may live to
use, but it is highly improbable. We have had six
bonfires, and I have given away three suits of old
clothes to Thomas's father. The clothes were very
"Must have belonged to Eudora's first husband.
He was a stout man," said Edward.
"And I have given two small suits of men's clothes
to the Aid Society for the next out-West barrel."
"Eudora's second husband's."
"And I gave the washerwoman enough old baking-
dishes to last her lifetime, and some cracked dishes.
Most of the dishes were broken, but a few were only
cracked; and I have given Silas Thomas's wife ten
old wool dresses and a shawl and three old cloaks.
All the other things which did not go into the bon-
fires went to the Aid Society. They will go back out
West." Sally laughed, a girlish peal, and her hus-
band joined. But suddenly her smooth forehead
contracted. "Edward," said she.
"I am terribly puzzled about one thing." The
two were sitting in the study. Content had gone to
bed. Nobody could hear easily, but Sally Patterson
lowered her voice, and her honest, clear blue eyes had
a frightened expression.
"What is it, dear?"
"You will think me very silly and cowardly, and
I think I have never been cowardly, but this is really
very strange. Come with me. I am such a goose,
I don't dare go alone to that storeroom."
The rector rose. Sally switched on the lights as
they went up-stairs to the storeroom.
"Tread very softly," she whispered. "Content is
The two tiptoed up the stairs and entered the
storeroom. Sally approached one of the two new
trunks which had come with Content from out West.
She opened it. She took out a parcel nicely folded
in a large towel.
"See here, Edward Patterson."
The rector stared as Sally shook out a dress --
a gay, up-to-date dress, a young girl's dress, a very
tall young girl's, for the skirts trailed on the floor as
Sally held it as high as she could. It was made of
a fine white muslin. There was white lace on the
bodice, and there were knots of blue ribbon scattered
over the whole, knots of blue ribbon confining tiny
bunches of rosebuds and daisies. These knots of
blue ribbon and the little flowers made it undeniably
a young girl's costume. Even in the days of all ages
wearing the costumes of all ages, an older woman
would have been abashed before those exceedingly
youthful knots of blue ribbons and flowers.
The rector looked approvingly at it. "That is
very pretty, it seems to me," he said. "That must
be worth keeping, Sally."
"Worth keeping! Well, Edward Patterson, just
wait. You are a man, and of course you cannot un-
derstand how very strange it is about the dress."
The rector looked inquiringly.
"I want to know," said Sally, "if Content's aunt
Eudora had any young relative besides Content. I
mean had she a grown-up young girl relative who
would wear a dress like this?"
"I don't know of anybody. There might have
been some relative of Eudora's first husband. No,
he was an only child. I don't think it possible that
Eudora had any young girl relative."
"If she had," said Sally, firmly, "she would have
kept this dress. You are sure there was nobody
else living with Content's aunt at the time she died?"
"Nobody except the servants, and they were an
old man and his wife."
"Then whose dress was this?"
"I don't know, Sally."
"You don't know, and I don't. It is very strange."
"I suppose," said Edward Patterson, helpless be-
fore the feminine problem, "that -- Eudora got it in
"In some way," repeated Sally. "That is always
a man's way out of a mystery when there is a mys-
tery. There is a mystery. There is a mystery which
worries me. I have not told you all yet, Edward."
"What more is there, dear?"
"I -- asked Content whose dress this was, and
she said -- Oh, Edward, I do so despise mysteries."
"What did she say, Sally?"
"She said it was her big sister Solly's dress."
"Her big sister Solly's dress. Edward, has Con-
tent ever had a sister? Has she a sister now?"
"No, she never had a sister, and she has none
now," declared the rector, emphatically. "I knew
all her family. What in the world ails the child?"
"She said her big sister Solly, Edward, and the
very name is so inane. If she hasn't any big sister
Solly, what are we going to do?"
"Why, the child must simply lie," said the rector.
"But, Edward, I don't think she knows she lies.
You may laugh, but I think she is quite sure that
she has a big sister Solly, and that this is her dress.
I have not told you the whole. After she came home
from school to-day she went up to her room, and
she left the door open, and pretty soon I heard her
talking. At first I thought perhaps Lily or Amelia
was up there, although I had not seen either of
them come in with Content. Then after a while,
when I had occasion to go up-stairs, I looked in her