Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Twilight Stories by Various Authors

Part 3 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Some of the older boys were for venturing to return, but Aunt
Polly held them back with her prudent arguments. If their
parents had considered it safe for them to come home they would
have sent for them. The British, she said, had been known to
impress boys, as well as men, into service, and the wisest way
was to keep out of their sight.

"The gentle, motherly advice prevailed, and even Dan Parsons
contented himself with climbing the tallest trees in the
vicinity, from which he could see the chimneys of several of the
nearest houses. From these pinnacles he would call out to us at

" 'The smoke comin' out o' Deacon Mileses chimly has a queer
look, somethin' like burnin' feathers I shouldn't wonder a mite
if them Britishers was burnin' up his furnitoor! Sam Kelly's
folks hain't had a spark o' fire in their fireplace to-day. Poor
critters! Mebbe there ain't nobody left ter want one.'

"With these dismal surmises, Dan managed to keep our forlorn
little flock as uncomfortable as even he could wish; and as the
second night drew on, I suppose the homesickness of the smaller
ones must have been pitiful to see. Aunt Polly patted and
cuddled the forlorn little things to the best of her ability, but
it was past midnight before the last weary, sobbing baby was
fairly asleep, while all night long one or another would start up
terrified from some frightful dream, to be soothed into quiet by
the patient motherly tenderness of their wakeful protector.

"Next morning the brow of the farmer wore an ominous frown, and
his wife, as she distributed to each the scant measure of brown
bread and milk remarked, grudgingly, that she should think 'twas
'bout time that her house was cleared of a crowd o' hungry,
squallin' young ones; and then Mr. Gubtil took out his
account-book and wrote down the name of each child, with an
estimate of the amount of bread, milk and potatoes consumed by
each. He did this with the audible remark that 'if folks thought
he was a-feedin' an' a-housin' their young ones for nothin'
they'd find themselves mightily mistaken.'

"The third morning dragged slowly away. Dinner was over and
still no message for us forlorn little ones. At last Aunt Polly
slowly arose from her seat upon the doorstep, with the light of a
strong, courageous resolve on her little face.

"Children!' she called loudly, and after we had gathered at her
call, she spoke to us with an encouraging smile:

" 'I've made up my mind that 'twon't be best for us to stay here
another night. We're in the way, and the little ones would be
better off at home with their mothers. We know that the fightin'
is all over, and I don't believe the English soldiers'll be bad
enough to hurt a lot o' little helpless children, 'specially if
they're under a flag o' truce.'

"Here she drew a handkerchif from her pocket. This she fastened
carefully to a stick. Then putting it into the hands of my
brother Ben, a well-grown lad of twelve, she went on with her

" 'We'll form in procession, just as we came, and you, Benjie,
may march at the head with this white flag a-wavin' to let them
know that we come in peace. I'll follow next with the biggest
boys, and the girls, with the little ones, must keep behind where
it's safest.'

"Perhaps it was the contagion of Aunt Polly's cheerful courage,
but more likely it was the blessed hope of seeing home and father
and mother again, that made the little folks so prompt to obey
her directions. We formed ourselves in line in less time than it
takes to tell about it; we elder girls took charge of the wee
ones who were so rejoiced to leave the inhospitable roof of the
Gubtils' that they forgot all their fears of the terrible
English, and trotted along as blithely over the deserted road as
if not a fear had ever terrified their childish hearts, and as if
English soldiers were still simply those far-off monsters that
had served as bugbears to frighten them now and then into
obedience to maternal authority.

"The Gubtils watched us off without a word of encouragement or
friendliness. Aunt Polly walked close behind the flag-bearer
with a firm step, but I could see that she was very pale, and
when we came to descend the little hill that led into the
village, and when just at its foot, where then stood the grocery
of old Penn Parker, we caught a glimpse of the scarlet uniforms
of several soldiers loafing about--then even we children could
see that her steps faltered; and I remember I thought she was
fearful of some violence.

"But the next moment she was walking steadily along again as if
no thought of danger or retreat had ever entered her mind; and as
we came opposite the grocery and a tall man in an officer's
uniform strolled out toward us with a curious, questioning look
upon his handsome face, she gave the word of command to her
little brigade in a voice as clear as a bell:

" 'Halt, children!'

"We all stood still as mice, eying the stranger with looks in
which fear and admiration were probably curiously blended, while
Aunt Polly, taking the white flag from her color-bearer, advanced
with a firm front to meet the foe who now, reinforced by several
men, stood beside the way, evidently wondering what this queer
parade was about.

" 'Sir!' and Aunt Polly's voice trembled perceptibly but she
waved the white flag manfully under his very nose, 'sir, I demand
a safe passage for these innocent children to their different

"The officer stared, and his mouth twitched mischievously as if
he had hard work to keep from laughing outright. But he was a
gentleman; and when he spoke, he spoke like one.

" 'My good woman,' he said kindly, 'these children are nothing to
me. If you wish permission for them to go to their own homes you
are welcome to it, though in what way the matter concerns me I
must confess I am at a loss to imagine."

Then, and not till then, Aunt Polly broke down and sobbed aloud:

" 'Run, children,' she cried as soon as she could speak; 'go home
just as fast as you can scud; an' tell your folks,' she added
with a gust of gratitude, 'that there's worse folks in the world
than an Englishman.'

"You may be sure that we waited for no further urging; and as we
flew, rather than ran, in the direction of our different homes, I
heard the irrepressible burst of laughter with which the officer
and his men received the grateful spinster's compliment which, to
the day of her death, she loved to repeat whenever she told the
thrilling story of her adventure with the English officer, 'when
Hampden was took by the British in 1814;' always concluding with
this candid admission:

" 'An' really, now, if he'd 'a' been anybody but an Englishman,
an' an inimy, I should 'a' said that I never sot eyes on a
better-built, more mannerly man, in all my born days.' "

Heigho! Baby Mine!
Now where are you creeping,
With such a rapid pace
across the nursery floor?
Only out to Mamma
who'll give you royal greeting,
With coddling and petting
and kisses


Inside of me says I am naughty,
But truly, I know I am not;
For if Brother Joe could see me
Right in this very same spot,
He'd let me do just
what I'm doing,
I'm very sure; that is,
perhaps. Oh dear! however do
big folks
Hold this thing
straight in their

It slips, an' it slips, an'
it slips,
You naughty old
Banjo, oh dear!

Is he coming? then what
will he do
To find me sitting up
here! Ho, ho! 'twas a mouse
--how silly
An' frightened I've actually been;
For he'd say, "If you hold it quite still,
You may take it, I'm willing, Corinne!"

I know: so now I'll begin it;
How does he go "tum-ty tum ting,"
An' make such beautiful tunes;
Too lovely for anything?
I ain't a bit 'fraid they may hear,
--The house-people 'way off below--
Me playing in Brother Joe's room,
Still I better be careful, you know.

If they didn't say 'twas amusing,
I sh'd think 'twas stupid to play,
To tug at such tiresome strings
An' make them come over this way;
But it must be delightful. I'll pull
A very fine tune at first;
Now, "tum-ty ting tw-a-n-g!"
It sound's as if something had burst!

That string must 'a' truly been cracked,
Don't you s'pose? or moth-eaten, p'raps;
'Tisn't pleasant to practice, I'm sure,
But forlorn, when anything flaps.
So I guess I have finished; hark, hark!
He really IS coming--Oh my!
Now, Banjo, I know mamma wants me,
An' so I must bid you good-by!

Mr. Bunny was a rabbit,
Mr. Bunny was a thief!
He hopped into my garden
And stole a cabbage leaf.

He ate up all my parsnips
Without asking if he may,
And when I tried to catch him
Kicked up his heels
and ran away.


Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn,

The clustered spires of Frederick stand
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.

Round about them orchards sweep,
Apple and peach-tree fruited deep,

Fair as a garden of the Lord
To the eyes of the famished rebel horde,

On that pleasant morn of the early fall,
When Lee marched over the mountain-wall--

Over the mountains winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town--

Forty flags with their silver stars,
Forty flags with their crimson bars,

Flapped in the morning wind: the sun
Of noon looked down, and saw not one.

Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;

Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag the men hauled down:

In her attic window the staff she set,
To show that one heart was loyal yet.

Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.

Under his slouched hat, left and right,
He glanced: the old flag met his sight.

"Halt"--the dust-brown ranks stood fast,
"Fire!"--out blazed the rifle-blast.

It shivered the window, pane and sash;
It rent the banner with seam and gash.

Quick as it fell from the broken staff,
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf;

She leaned far out on the window sill,
And shook it forth with a royal will.

"Shoot if you must this old gray head,--
But spare your country's flag," she said.

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came;

The nobler nature within him stirred
To life at that woman's deed and word.

"Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a dog! March on!" he said.

All day long through Frederick street
Sounded the tread of marching feet.

All day long that free flag tossed
Over the heads of the rebel host;

Ever its torn folds rose and fell
On the loyal winds that loved it well;

And through the hill-gaps, sunset light
Shone over it with a warm good-night.

Barbara Frietchie's work is o'er,
And the rebel rides on his raids no more.

Honor to her!--and let a tear
Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall's bier.

Over Barbara Frietchie's grave,
Flag of Freedom and Union wave!

Peace, and order, and beauty, draw
Round thy symbol of light and law;

And ever the stars above look down
On thy stars below at Frederick town!


A sturdy cow-boy I would be
And chase this buffalo out in the West.
An Indian pony I know I could ride,
And "round up" with all the rest.


(Used by special arrangement with J. B. Lippincott Company,
Philadelphia, publisher of Mr. Read's Poems.)

Up from the South at break of day,
Bringing to Winchester fresh dismay,
The affrighted air with a shudder bore,
Like a herald in haste, to the chieftain's door,
The terrible grumble and rumble and roar,
Telling the battle was on once more,
And Sheridan twenty miles away.

And wilder still those billows of war
Thundered along the horizon's bar,
And louder yet into Winchester rolled
The roar of that red sea uncontrolled,
Making the blood of the listener cold
As he thought of the stake in that fiery fray,
And Sheridan twenty miles away.

But there is a road from Winchester town,
A good, broad highway leading down;
And there through the flash of the morning light,
A steed as black as the steeds of night,
Was seen to pass as with eagle's flight--
As if he knew the terrible need,
He stretched away with the utmost speed;
Hills rose and fell--but his heart was gay,
With Sheridan fifteen miles away.
Still sprung from these swift hoofs, thundering South,
The dust, like the smoke from the cannon's mouth,

Or the trail of a comet sweeping faster and faster,
Foreboding to traitors the doom of disaster;
The heart of the steed and the heart of the master,
Were beating like prisoners assaulting their walls,
Impatient to be where the battle-field calls;
Every nerve of the charger was strained to full play,
With Sheridan only ten miles away.

Under his spurning feet the road
Like an arrowy Alpine river flowed;
And the landscape sped away behind
Like an ocean flying before the wind.
And the steed, like a bark fed with furnace ire,
Swept on with his wild eyes full of fire,
But lo! he is nearing his heart's desire--
He is snuffing the smoke of the roaring fray,
With Sheridan only five miles away.

The first that the General saw were the groups
Of stragglers, and then the retreating troops;
What was done--what to do--a glance told him both,
And striking his spurs with a terrible oath,
He dashed down the line 'mid a storm of huzzahs,
And the wave of retreat checked its course there because
The sight of the master compelled it to pause.
With foam and with dust the black charger was gray,
By the flash of his eye, and his red nostrils' play,
He seemed to the whole great army to say,
"I have brought you Sheridan all the way
From Winchester down to save the day!"

Hurrah, hurrah for Sheridan!
Hurrah, hurrah for horse and man!

And when their statues are placed on high
Under the dome of the Union sky--
The American soldiers' Temple of Fame--
There with the glorious General's name
Be it said in letters both bold and bright:
"Here is the steed that saved the day
By carrying Sheridan into the fight,
From Winchester--twenty miles away!"

See-saw, Margery Daw,
Jenny shall have a new master,
She shall have but a penny a day,
Because she can't work any faster.

An old Hippopotamus lived on the Nile,
If she hasn't gone away, she's been there quite a while.
She gives all her children a ride on her back,
Broad enough to accommodate the whole scrambling pack.


Between the dark and daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations
That is known as the Children's Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamp-light,
Descending the broad hall-stair,
Grave Alice and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence;
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret,
O'er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me,
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses;
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old Mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all?

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down in the dungeon,
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there I will keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away.

I will dig me a garden and plant it with seeds,
I will hoe and water it and keep down the weeds;
Then perhaps some of these bright summer days,
To mamma I can carry big boquets.


"He put in his thumb
And pulled out a plum."

So sang Caryl over the stairs.

"Now if HE pulled out a plum, why shouldn't SHE?" she said to
herself, halting a bit by the landing window. "And a good big
plum too--nice and juicy. O Aunt Sylvia, Aunt Sylvia!"

She fairly hugged herself in glee, then drew one long breath and
dashed on to her own poor little room.

"Oh, you here, Viny?" she exclaimed in surprise as she flung open
the door.

A small figure rose to a perpendicular position in front of the
old bureau, while a shoving-to of the under drawer proclaimed
some attention having been paid to the pretty laces, ribbons, and
various other adornments packed away for safe keeping.

Caryl remembered leaving the key in the drawer after taking out a
bit of lavender ribbon the night before for Aunt Sylvia's cap.

"What have you been doing?" she asked sharply; and taking hold of
the small wiry shoulder, she looked down into a little black face
whose eyes were staring solemnly into the farthest corner of the

"Ben doin'?" repeated Viny, scared almost to death inwardly, but
preserving a cool exterior. "Nothin', only shettin' the draw';
plaguey thing wouldn't stay put. Tore my dress," she added
mumblingly to fill out the pause.

"Where?" said Caryl, looking sharply at her.

"Dar," said Viny, with a violent twist, so that she could compass
the back breadths of her blue gingham frock, and she pointed
abruptly to a cat-a-cornered rent.

"Oh, no, you didn't," contradicted Caryl, looking her through and
through, and giving her a small shake, "tear that either; I heard
Maum Patty scold you yesterday for letting Jip bite it and snip
out a piece."

"Well, somefin tore," said Viny. "I donno whar 'tis, but it's
somewhars. A mighty smart tare, too, Miss Ca."

"I'll lock, and lock, and lock," declared the young girl, now
down on her knees before her precious drawer, "before I run the
chance of your rummaging fingers getting here again. Now then,

"Yes'm," said the little black girl obsequiously, and rolling her
eyes to all quarters; "Oh, yes'm!"

"We are going to move, Viny," said her young mistress, taking the
key out of its lock, and turning her back on drawers and
contents, to sit on the floor with hands folded in her lap while
she watched the effect of her words.

"MOVE?" echoed Viny with a start; "Oh, lawks! whatever's dat,

"Why, go to a new place," said Caryl, laughing in spite of
herself. "For mercy's sake, child, do take your eyes in! It'll
be very fine, Viny, oh, so fine!" she cried enthusiastically.

"An' lib here nebber no mo'?" cried the little black figure in a
shrill scream; "wot, an' hev no leaky sink dat keps me a-swashin'
and a-swashin', an' no old ruf dat lets in hull buckets full o'
water onter de bed, an'--"

"No," said Caryl, interrupting the steady stream of invective
against the old heuse, "everything's to be as new and nice and
neat as a pin, Viny--sinks and everything else; you can't begin
to think how splendid it's to be!"

"I'm goin' to tell gramma," cried Viny, wholly off her balance,
"dis berry same minnit. Lawks! but won't she be tickled to
leave the ole shell! Den I'll git my bunnet an' go wid yer, Miss
Ca, in tree shakes of a lobster's whisker!"

She scampered in the greatest excitement to the door, when a
detaining pull on the end of her long apron, brought her to a
full stop.

"You are crazy, child!" exclaimed Caryl, bursting into a laugh
and holding her fast. "We can't go this moment, no matter how
bad the old house is. Listen, Viny!"

But the small figure flung itself into a heap on the floor so
suddenly that she nearly pulled her young mistress with her,
while the little black hands clapped themselves over the bead
like eyes, wail after wail of disappointment making the room to

"Will you STOP!" cried Caryl in perfect despair. "Aunt Sylvia's
head will snap with your noise! If you don't stop crying, Viny,
you sha'n't go when the rest of us are ready to move, so there,

Threats had the power to do what nothing else could. Viny wiped
off all the tears with the backs of her grimy little paws, gave
two or three concluding sniffs, sat up straight, and was
immediately all right for further developments.

"Now then"--Caryl pointed off her sentences briskly on the tips
of her rosy fingers--"you must try to help--well, an awful great
deal, Viny, yourself, or else it can't be a moving for any single
one of us."

Viny's eyes widened fearfully, but she didn't stir.

"If you will take care--mind! SPLENDID care of Aunt Sylvia every
morning," said Caryl slowly and with extreme empressment-- "watch
and get her everything she wants, not wait for her to ask for
anything, then I can go off down street and make lots and lots of
money, Viny. Think of that, lots and lots! Then we can move,
and Aunt Sylvia will maybe get well."

Caryl's gray eyes were only a thought less big than those of her
small black audience, who presently caught the infectious
enthusiasm and emitted several lusty crows.

"Jiminy--oh, I DIDN'T say it--I didn't--I didn't! O Jiminy, I
didn't--I didn't--O Jimmy, I--"

"Stop saying it, then," exclaimed her young mistress decidedly,
and enforcing her words by a vigorous shake.

"Oh, I didn't--I will--O Jiminy! yes, I will!" cried the little
black delinquent, the full tide of original sin taking an unfair
advantage of her excitement to engulf her. "Oh--er--

Caryl came to her rescue by giving her a new idea.

"See how splendid you can be, Viny dear," she said kindly. "You
can be such a good little helper, so that part of the new home
will be of your getting; for I never could have the chance to
earn anything if you didn't take my place and be Aunt Sylvia's

"I know how," said Viny, perfectly overcome with the greatness
thrust upon her; "it's to slip crickets under her feet to put her
toes onter. I'll slip 'em all day. An' it's to wipe her specs,
an' to say yes, no, an' to--"

"To be good," finished Caryl solemnly; "that comprehends the
whole business."

"To be good," repeated the small nurse yet more solemnly, "an' to
compren' the whole bus'ness; I will."

"You are a ridiculous child," cried Caryl impatiently; "I don't
really suppose you are fit to be trusted, but then, it's the only
thing to try."

Viny, having been duly elected to office, considered her honors
settled, so she was little disturbed by any opinions that might
be held concerning her. Therefore she squatted and wriggled in
great delight, grinning at every word that fell from her young
mistress' lips.

"You see, Viny," Caryl was saying, beginning on her confidence,
"I've got an order to teach the little Grant girls how to paint,
and if I can run down there two hours every morning, I'm to have
twenty-five dollars, and Madam Grant is going to give it to me in
advance; that is, after the first quarter. Think, Viny,
TWENTY-FIVE dollars! That's what we want to move with into
Heart's Delight!"

This was the upstairs southwest corner of a little cottage that
for a year or more had been the desideratum of the young girl's
highest hopes that had to wear themselves out in empty longings,
the invalid's scanty exchequer only sufficing for doctor's bills
and similar twelvemonth, along with several other broken-down
lodgers whose slender means compelled them to call this place
"home"--this place where never a bit of sunshine seemed to come;
where even the birds hated to stop for a song as they flew
merrily over the tree-tops. And no wonder. The trees were
scraggy, loppy old things hanging down in dismal sweep over the
leaky roof and damp walls. They had to stay--the lodgers, but
the birds and the sunshine tossed off the whole responsibility of
life in such a gloomy old home, and flitted to gayer quarters.
But now, what if Heart's Delight could really be theirs!

"Yer goin' ter tell 'em how to paint dem tings yer daub?" broke
in Viny, and snapping off this delightful thought.

"You shouldn't speak so, child," said Caryl with the greatest
dignity; "it's very fine work, and you couldn't possibly
understand it. It's art, Viny."

"Ho, ho!" laughed the small black figure, nowise impressed and
cramming her stumpy fingers up to her mouth to keep the laugh in
as she saw her young mistress' displeasure. "It's an awful old
dirty muss, an' I wish I could do it," she added under her

"And I shall begin tomorrow," declared Caryl with still greater
dignity, and drawing herself to her full height. "Aunt Sylvia
says she'll try you. Now you'll be good, won't you?" she added
anxiously. "It's only for two hours a day, Viny."

"I'll be good," declared Viny, " 'strue's I live an' breeve."
Meanwhile the darkest of plans ran riot in her little black head.

"Heart's Delight--Heart's Delight!" sang Caryl's happy voice all
that day; and like St. Patrick's poor imprisoned snake, she began
to feel that to-morrow would never come.

But hours come and go, and Caryl awoke the next morning, the
brightest, cheeriest morning that ever called a happy girl out of

"Aunt Sylvia won't have many more days in that dark little room
of hers," she cried to herself, throwing on her clothes rapidly.
"Oh, dear, where ARE the pins? I can't bear to wait a minute any
more than Viny, when I think of that dear lovely nest, and the
bay-window, and all that sunshine. I'll always have it full of
flowers, and the bird shall sing all the time, and--and-- and--"

The rest was lost in a dash of cold water over the rosy face, and
Caryl soon presented herself at her aunt's bedside.

"I'll do well enough while you are gone," said her aunt, smiling
up from the pillows into the bright face above hers. "Now you're
not to worry about me in the least, for you cannot do justice to
yourself if your mind is troubled. Remember, Caryl, and be
thorough in your efforts to teach your little pupils."

"And Madam Grant is going to buy some of my panels and little
plaques, I almost know," cried Caryl, bustling around for her
aunt's long woolen wrapper and her day slippers, "for she told me
she should want to see them some time. Then, Auntie-- oh, then!"

The young girl in her eagerness climbed upon the old bed to lay
her fresh young cheek against the pale thin one. How she longed
to put brightness into the poor invalid's life!

"Remember," said Aunt Sylvia lightly, to hide the tears in her
voice, "your fortune's to be made. Only be prompt and thorough,
and put your whole mind to your work. That is the secret of

"I will, Auntie, oh, I WILL!" cried Caryl happily, "and Viny will
do well, I guess," she added, the gleeful tones dropping down
with an anxious note.

"Viny will prove a capital little nurse, I expect," said Miss
Sylvia cheerfully; "now the day won't wait, Caryl, so get your
old auntie up."

"My old auntie is just LOVELY," cried the girl, hopping off from
the bed, and flying around merrily, well pleased at last when the
invalid was in her chair, to see a little faint, pink color
stealing up the wan cheek.

"The best cap, Aunt Sylvia--the best cap!" she cried, running for
the one with the fresh lavender ribbons.

"What an extravagant puss!" exclaimed Aunt Sylvia, willing to
humor the gay little heart, and tapping her cheek as the young
girl settled the cap on the lovely gray hair.

"Everything must be best to-day," cried Caryl recklessly. "It's
all fresh and new and fine! All the world is made just for us."

Maum Patty saw Caryl run down the dirty little brick path that
served for all the lodgers in the old house as a walk to the
broken-down gate, with her color-box under her arm, and her
little roll of pictures in her hand, and heaved a sigh from her
ample bosom.

"Dat chile can't make no fortin' like she's a-tinkin' of, but
laws! let her try. Here, yer Viny, yer, be off up to de Missis'
room. Scat now! De pore lettle lamb," she mourned, as her
hopeful grandchild unwillingly dragged her recreant feet off to
her duties, leaving her grandmother to pursue her reflections in
peace, "it mos' busts my heart to see her a-workin' an' de Missis
keepin' up an' pretendin' she's as fine as a queen. 'Twarn't so
in ole Patty's day. Den dar wos plenty-pies and turkeys. Lors,
what stumpers! An' hull bar'ls o' flour, an' sugar, an' a
creation sight of eberyting in de beyeutiful house, an' now look
at dis ole shell!"

Maum Patty tossed her turban in intense scorn at each of the dark
soot-begrimed walls of the place called kitchen.

"Missis ud feel more like folks," she said at each disdainful
scrutiny, "an' like as not git well, ef we cud cut sticks inter
anudder home. Ef de chile only CUD do it!"

She peered anxiously down the dirty little brick walk again, then
fetched a still longer sigh.

"I don't darst to!" she declared in a mighty burst at last. "I
don't, cos wot ud keep us all from the pore-'us den. It's every
speck I kin do ter keep along of de Miss an' Car'l an' take keer
of 'em wi'dout a cent o' pay; I don't darst tech my stockin' bag
in de bank."

Maum Patty always spoke of her scanty savings deposited in the
neighboring bank, in this way, fondly supposing them in the
original condition in which ten years ago, she had taken them
there for future shield against sickness and old age.

Meantime the little black nurse had begun her work.

Peering around Miss Sylvia's half-closed door, Viny exclaimed to
herself, "Umph! she don't want me; guess she's a'readin' now.
I'll git into Miss Ca's room an' try on all her clo'es an'
pertend I'm makin' calls, an' peek inter ebery single place whar
I kin, an' I'll be a lady, an' dar sha'n't no one scold Viny."

"Viny," called Miss Sylvia's soft voice, hearing a rustle at the

"Dat's Jip she's a-talkin' ter, I reckon," said Viny, stealing
off on her tiptoes down the hall, and sticking her fingers in her
ears that she might hear no more troublesome conscience calls; "I
seen him on de rug when I peeked in de crack. Now den-- Whoop,
says I, WHOOP!"

She was safe now in Caryl's room, where the first thing she did
was to indulge in a series of somersaults over the floor, and
also, for variety, over the neat little white bed. These
afforded her intense comfort. When she came up bright and
shining after this celebration of her independence, she drew
herself up with a serious face and proceeded at once to stern

"Two hours ain't long," she observed wisely, "an' I mus' be back
some of de time. Jiminy! she's forgot de key again!" In truth,
Caryl in her great excitement of hunting for some pictures packed
away in her precious drawer, had forgotten to pocket the key that
protected her few treasures.

Ruthlessly, then, they were pulled out and overhauled, while Viny
reveled in each new discovery, chattering softly to herself in
glee. She tied on all the bright bits of ribbons she could lay
her hands on, to the little tiny tails adorning her head. She
twisted with great difficulty into a delicate white spenser that
Caryl's mother had worn when a girl, saved for its tender
reminiscence, and for the soft, fine old lace that would be of
use to the young daughter by and by. Viny was nowise disturbed
in her enjoyment at certain ominous crackings and creakings that
proclaimed the giving way of the delicate material. Arrayed at
last to her satisfaction, although the lace did hang down in some
shreds where her impatient fingers had clutched it, she whirled
and whirled in front of the old-fashioned glass with many
grimaces, trying the effect of her new costume.

"I want sumfin to shine," she said at last, tired of this; "jew-
EL-lery an' stuns. Le's see ef she's got any."

Now in one corner of Caryl's drawer was a small black box;
unfortunately, the lock was broken in childhood, and there had
been no money to spare for repairs of anything of that sort, so
she had tied it securely with the strongest of twine, and written
on the cover in big schoolgirl hand the words, "DON'T ANY ONE
DARE TO TOUCH!" Although Viny was unable to decipher the writing
in the least, it was fun enough to attack the string, which
presently succumbed to the violent onslaught of tooth and nail,
and the precious, precious bits of brightness were soon at the
mercy of the little black fingers.

Maum Patty was droning away in the kitchen some old Methodist
hymns. Viny was dimly conscious of a faint call from the
invalid's room, as she drew out in the utmost delight an
old-fashioned brooch with a green centre around which were some
little sparkling things.

She couldn't even say "Jiminy!" but simply held the pretty thing
which seemed glad of its freedom from solitary confinement, and
thus delighted to sparkle more than ever in its resting-place in
the little black hand. With trembling fingers she fastened it
into the centre of the lace spenser, above her naughty little
bosom, hurrying to the glass to do so, and had just taken one
look, when a low cry of distress struck upon her ear.

It filled her whole soul with dismay, rooting her like a little
frozen thing to the spot. It was Miss Sylvia, she knew.

With one mighty effort she tore herself from the spot, and rushed
headlong into the hall. "Oh--oh--OH!" came from the invalid's

At that Viny wrung her hands and writhed in dire distress.

"She's a-dyin'!" she gasped, her knees knocking together in a
lively manner; "I don't darst to look--I don't!--I've killed
her!" And the whole flood of remorse sweeping her very soul, she
turned and scuttled down the crooked little stairs and into the

"A doctor!" was all her thought. She remembered hearing Caryl
say he lived in a big brown house that had lots of flowers in the
windows. But where upon the face of the earth the house was
situated, Viny knew no more than a bird. However, she must get
him, so she dashed blindly on, turning the first corner to run
headlong into the arms of a portly old lady who was placidly
enjoying the fresh air and sunshine at the same time that she
displayed her rich street attire.

"Oh, my goodness!" cried the old lady, startled out of all fine
speeches by the collision, and jumping in fright to the extreme
edge of the curbstone. Then seeing the cause, she cried in
anger, "You miserable, dirty little thing you, you ve nearly
killed me!"

At the word "killed," Viny began to dance in terror on the
sidewalk. "I know it," she cried, "oh, dear, I know it! she's
dead, an' grandma 'll beat me."

"And if you don't know any better," cried the old lady, vainly
trying to settle her gray puffs as they were before, "than to run
into people in this way, I'll have you arrested, I will!"

At this Viny was completely overcome. Her guilty conscience
pictured all sorts of punishments; worse, far worse, than
"grandma's" judgments, and, falling on her knees, she grasped the
old lady's black satin gown and implored for mercy.

The old lady, now her attention was drawn off from her own
annoyance, settled her eyes on the brooch half concealed by a
fold of the little lace spenser.

"You wicked, bad child!" she exclaimed, seizing her arm and
pouncing one stiffly gloved hand on the sparkling brooch; "you've
stolen that! It's bad enough to be run into by a dirty little
thing fresh from Bedlam, without being wicked into the bargain.
That's TOO much!"

The little black figure being too wretched to hear this tirade,
could only mumble and wail and wriggle closer and closer into the
folds of the rich gown.

"Get out of my dress!" cried the old lady excitedly. "Here, I'll
call the police; if you don't let go of me this instant! Stop, I
say! Po-o-lice!"

Viny gave one violent jerk that brought her up to her feet, and
with eyes distended in terror, started in wild despair across the
street. A pair of handsome bays were coming in their best step
down from the Square, drawing a carriage full of people who
seemed in the very best of spirits.

"WHOA-A!" A click, a rapid pull-up with all Thomas's best
strength, and the horses fell back on their haunches just in time
for the little lithe figure to dart under their pawing hoofs and
be saved! Everybody leaned out of the carriage for a glimpse of
the child.

"Why--why"-- A young girl's face paled, while the gray eyes
flashed, and with one spring she was out and rushing after the
small flying figure who in her fright had turned to flee the
other way.

"Look out, Caryl!" called the others in the carriage after her.

"Oh, she'll be killed," moaned a little girl leaning out as far
as she dared over the wheels.

"And then she can't ever get into the pretty new house," wailed
another. "Oh, what shall we do! Come back, Bessie!" she cried,
tugging at her sister's skirts. "Grandmamma, make her come into
the carriage, I can't hold her!"

But a crowd of people surging up around them at this moment, took
off all attention from Bessie and everybody else but the little
fugitive and her kind pursuer. Caryl made her way through the
crowd with flushed face, her little brown hat hanging by its
strings around her neck, pantingly dragging after her the little
black girl.

"It's our Viny," she said, "and something is the matter with Aunt
Sylvia! Oh, Madam Grant!"

"My poor child," said a sweet-faced woman, reaching out a kind
arm, while the children seized hold of Caryl at every available
point, between them dragging her and her charge into shelter,
"don't be troubled. Drive just as fast as you can, Thomas, to
No. 27, you know," she commanded hurriedly.

Then the first thing Caryl did was to turn upon Viny and unhook
the precious brooch as a low sob came from her white lips. "If
it had been lost!"

A soft hand stole under the little brown cloak to clasp her own;
but Madam Grant said never a word. She knew what the young
girl's heart was too full for speech; that the mother's brooch
would speak more tenderly than ever she could, of forgiveness to
the little ignorant black girl.

The children were all eyes at Viny and her costume, but they said
never a word while she howled on steadily, only ejaculating in an
occasional gust, "O Miss Sylvy--Miss Sylvy!"

Caryl, white as a sheet, rushed out of the carriage and into the
old lodging house the instant the horses paused by the broken
gate. Maum Patty was singing in the little kitchen the refrain
she never indulged in except in her most complacent moods.
Flinging wide the door, Caryl panted out, "Oh, what is it! Tell
me at once!"

"Lawks!" exclaimed Maum Patty, startled from her peaceful
enjoyment, and turning so suddenly in the old calico-covered
chair that she sent her spectacles spinning into the middle of
the floor. "Massy, how yer look! Tain't wurth it--don't! He
hain't spile't it; I stopped him," she added exultingly.

"Stopped what?" echoed Caryl in bewildered distress. "Oh, do
tell me! Is'nt Aunt Sylvia sick? Tell me, Maum Patty," she
pleaded. And she grasped the old woman's arm in an agony of

"Massy, no!" declared Maum Patty in her most cheery tones, "she's
ben a-laughin' fit to kill herself, an' I don't wonder, for the
little rascal looked as cunnin' as an imp. But I stopped him I
stopped him!" she added triumphantly.

Caryl had no strength to ask further, nor to stir. The reaction
was too great, and she leaned up against the door for support.

"He shuck it, an' shuck it," said the old woman, laughing
immoderately. "Laws, how he shuck it--dat Jip did--yer aunt's
beyeutiful cap with the new puppel ribbons! Ye see it tumbled
off; I dunno wedder she sneezed, or wot she did, but anyway, it
tumbled off on de flo', and dat little pison scamp jumped up from
his rug an' cotched it, an' she a-callin' an'a-callin, fit ver
die--I'll snake dat Viny w'en I gets her.--Lawks, but I couldn't
help it! I laughed till I cried to see dat dog carry on.
Luckily I run up just when I did to pay my 'specs to de Missis,
for--I stopped him, I stopped him," she brought herself up to
declare, wiping her eyes.

"Viny," said Caryl, in her little room, an hour after, when
everything had been confessed and forgiven; when the delightful
story had all come out, how they were really and truly to move
that very afternoon; how Madam Grant had paid the rent in advance
for the sunny rooms in the little cottage, and they were just
driving around to surprise Aunt Sylvia when they witnessed Viny's
escapade; how the carriage was to come before very long to take
dear Aunt Sylvia to her longed-for refuge; how the price of the
lessons was to go for new furniture; how everything for the rest
of their lives was to be cheery, winsome, and bright to the very
last degree--when it was all finished, Caryl looked kindly down
into the sorry little black face--"Yes, Viny," she said with the
happiest little laugh, "I shall have to forgive you, for it's the
last naughty thing that you will ever do in the old home."

Ole King Cole Was a merry old soul,
And a merry old soul was he;
He called for his pipe,
And he called for his bowl,
And he called for his fiddlers three.

"Ding Dong bell! Pussy's in the well!"
"Who put her in?''
"Little Tommy Green.''
"Who pulled her out?''
"Big Jack Stout.''
"What a naughty act was that,
To drown poor Pussy Cat!''


Us two wuz boys when we fell out--
Nigh to the age uv my youngest now;
Don't rec'lect what t'wuz about,
Some small deef'rence, I'll allow;
Lived next neighbors twenty years,
A-hatin' each other, me 'nd Jim,--
He havin' his opinyin uv me,
'Nd I havin' my opinyin uv him.

Grew up together 'nd wouldn't speak,
Courted sisters 'nd married' em, too;
'Tended same meetin' house onct a week,
A-hatin' each other through 'nd through!
But when Abe Linkern asked the West
F'r soldiers, we answered--me 'nd Jim--
He havin' his opinyin uv me,
'Nd I havin' my opinyin uv him.

But down in Tennessee one night
There wuz sounds uv firin' far away,
'Nd the Sergeant allowed ther'd be a fight
With the Johnnie Rebs some time nex' day;
'Nd as I wuz thinkin' of Lizzie 'nd home,
Jim stood afore me, long and slim--
He havin' his opinyin uv me,
'Nd I havin' my opinyin uv him.

Seemed like we knew ther wuz goin' to be
Serious trouble f'r me and him;
Us two shuck hands, did Jim 'nd me.
But nearer a word from me or Jim!
He went his way, 'nd I went mine,
'Nd into the battle's roar went we--
I havin' my opinyin uv Jim,
'Nd he havin' his opinyin uv me.

Jim never came back from the war again,
But I haint forgot that last, last night,
When, waitin' fur orders, us two men
Made up, 'nd shook hands afore the fight
'Nd after it all, its soothin' to know
That here be I, 'nd yonder's Jim--
He havin' his opinyin uv me,
'Nd I havin' my opinion uv him.

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest