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Two Little Knights of Kentucky by Annie Fellows Johnston

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world, and America, too, has her Hall of the Shields."

Just a moment the curtains were drawn together, and then were widely
parted again, as a chorus of voices rang out with the words:

"Hail, Columbia, happy land;
Hail, ye heroes, heaven-born band!"

In that moment, on every shield had been hung the pictured face of some
well-known man who had helped to make his country a power among the
nations; presidents, patriots, philanthropists, statesmen, inventors,
and poets,--there they were, from army and navy, city and farm, college
halls and humble cabins,--a long, long line, and the first was
Washington, and the last was the "Hero of Manila."

Cheer after cheer went up, and it might have been well to have ended the
programme there, but to satisfy the military-loving little Ginger, one
more was added.

"There ought to be a Goddess of Liberty in it," she insisted, "because
it is Washington's birthday; and if we had been doing it by ourselves we
were going to have something in it about Cuba, on papa's account."

So when the curtain rose the last time, it was on Sally Fairfax as a
gorgeous Goddess of Liberty, conferring knighthood on two boys who stood
for the Army and Navy, while a little dark-eyed girl knelt at their feet
as Cuba, the distressed maiden whom their chivalry had rescued.

It was late when the performance closed; later still when the children
reached home that night, for Mrs. MacIntyre had determined to have a
flash-light picture taken of them, and they had to wait until the
photographer could send home for his camera.

After they reached the house they could hardly be persuaded to undress.
Virginia trailed up and down the halls in her royal robes, Malcolm
clanked around in his suit of mail and plumed helmet, and Keith stood
before a mirror, admiring the handsome little figure it showed him.

"I hate to take it off," he said, fingering the dazzling collar, ablaze
with jewels. "I'd like to be a knight always, and wear a sword and spurs
every day."

"So would I," said Malcolm, beginning to yawn sleepily. "I wish that
Jonesy had been well enough to go to-night. Isn't it splendid that the
Benefit turned out so well? Aunt Allison says there is plenty of money
now to get Jonesy's clothes and pay his board till papa comes, and send
him back to Barney, too, if papa thinks best and hasn't any
better plan."

"I wish there'd been enough money to buy a nice little home out here in
the country for him and Barney. Wouldn't it have been lovely if there
had a-been?" cried Keith.

"Well, I should say!" answered Malcolm. "Maybe we can have another
benefit some day and make enough for that."

With this pleasant prospect before them, they laid aside their knightly
garments, hoping to put them on again soon in Jonesy's behalf, and
talked about the home that might be his some day, until they
fell asleep.

* * * * *

The flash-light pictures of the three children were all that the fondest
grandmother could wish. As soon as they came, Keith carried his away to
his room to admire in private. "It is so pretty that it doesn't seem it
can be me," he said, propping it up on the desk before him. "I wish that
I could look that way always."

The next time that Miss Allison went into the room she found that Keith
had written under it in his round, boyish hand, a quotation that had
taken his fancy the first time he heard it. It was in one of Miss Bond's
stories, and he repeated it until he learned it: "_Live pure,_ _speak
truth, right the wrong, follow the king; else wherefore born?_"

She asked him about it at bedtime. "Why, that's our motto," he
explained. "Malcolm has it written under his, too. We've made up our
minds to be a sort of knight, just as near the real thing as we can, you
know, and that is what knights have to do: live pure, and speak truth,
and right the wrong. We've always tried to do the first two, so that
won't be so hard. It's righting the wrong that will be the tough job,
but we have done it a little teenty, weenty bit for Jonesy, don't you
think, auntie? It was all wrong that he should have such a hard time and
be sent to an asylum away from Barney, when we have you all and
everything nice. Malcolm and I have been talking it over. If we could do
something to keep him from growing up into a tramp like that awful man
that brought him here, wouldn't that be as good a deed as some that the
real knights did? Wouldn't that be serving our country, too, Aunt
Allison, just a little speck?" He asked the question anxiously. Malcolm
said nothing, but also waited with a wistful look for her answer.

"My dear little Sir Galahads," she said, bending over to give each of
the boys a good-night kiss, "you will be 'really truly' knights if you
can live up to the motto you have chosen. Heaven help you to be always
as worthy of that title as you are to-night!"

Keith held her a moment, with both arms around her neck. "What does that
mean, auntie?" he asked. "That is what the professor said,

"It is too late to explain to you to-night," she said, "but I will tell
you sometime soon, dear."

It was several days before she reminded them of that promise. Then she
called them into her room and told them the story of Sir Galahad, the
maiden knight, whose "strength was as the strength of ten because his
heart was pure." Then from a little morocco case, lined with purple
velvet, she took two pins that she had bought in the city that morning.
Each was a little white enamel flower with a tiny diamond in the centre,
like a drop of dew.

"You can't wear armour in these days," she said, as she fastened one on
the lapel of each boy's coat, "but this shall be the badge of your
knighthood,--'wearing the white flower of a blameless life.' The little
pins will help you to remember, maybe, and will remind you that you are
pledged to right the wrong wherever you find it, in little things as
well as great."

It was a very earnest talk that followed. The boys came out from her
room afterward, wearing the tiny white pins, and with a sweet
seriousness in their faces. A noble purpose had been born in their
hearts; but alas for chivalry! the first thing they did was to taunt
Virginia with the fact that she could never be a knight because she was
only a girl.

"I don't care," retorted Ginger, quickly. "I can be a--a--_patriot_,
anyhow, and that's lots better."

The boys laughed, and she flushed angrily.

"They ought to mean the same thing exactly in this day of the world,"
said Miss Allison, coming up in time to hear the dispute that followed.
"Virginia, you shall have a badge, too. Run into my room and bring me
that little jewelled flag on my cushion."

"I think that this is the very prettiest piece of jewelry you have,"
exclaimed Virginia, coming back with the pin. It was a little flag
whose red, white, and blue was made of tiny settings of garnets,
sapphires, and diamonds.

"You think that, because it is in the shape of a flag," said Miss
Allison, with an amused smile. "Well, it shall be yours. See how well it
can remind you of the boys' knightly motto. There is the white for the
first part, the 'live pure,' and the 'true blue' for the 'speak truth,'
and then the red,--surely no soldier's little daughter needs to be told
what that stands for, when her own brave father has spilled part of his
good red life-blood to 'right the wrong' on the field of battle."

"Oh, Aunt Allison!" was all that Virginia could gasp in her delight as
she clasped the precious pin tightly in her hand. "Is it mine? For my
very own?"

"For your very own, dear," was the answer.

"Oh, I'm so glad!" cried Virginia, thanking her with a kiss. "I'd a
thousand times rather have it than one like the boys'. It means so
much more!"



Early in March, when the crocuses were beginning to bud under the
dining-room windows, there came one of those rare spring days that seem
to carry the warmth of summer in its sunshine.

"Exactly the kind of a day for a picnic," Virginia had said that
morning, and when her grandmother objected, saying that the ground was
still too damp, she suggested having it in the hay-barn. The boys piled
the hay that was left from the winter's supply up on one side of the
great airy room, set wide the big double doors, and swept it clean.

"It is clean enough now for even grandmother to eat in," said Virginia,
as she spread a cloth on the table Unc' Henry had carried out for them.
"It's good enough for a queen. Oh, I'll tell you what let's do. Let's
play that Malcolm and I are a wicked king and queen and Lloyd is a
'fair ladye' that we have shut up in a dungeon. This will be a banquet,
and while we are eating Keith can be the knight who comes to her rescue
and carries her off on his pony."

"That's all right," consented Keith, "except the eating part. How can we
get our share of the picnic?"

"We'll save it for you," answered Virginia, "and you can eat it

"Save enough for Jonesy, too," said Keith. "He shall be my page and help
me rescue her. I'll go and ask him now."

The month had made a great change in Jonesy. With plenty to eat, his
thin little snub-nosed face grew plump and bright. There was a
good-humoured twinkle in his sharp eyes, and being quick as a monkey at
imitating the movements of those around him, Mrs. MacIntyre found
nothing to criticise in his manners when Malcolm and Keith brought him
into the house. Their pride in him was something amusing, and seeing
that, after all, he was an inoffensive little fellow, she made no more
objections to their playing with him.

By the time Keith was back again with Jonesy, the other guests had
arrived, and the Little Colonel had been lowered into a deep feed-bin,
in lieu of a dungeon. The banquet began in great state, but in a few
moments was interrupted by a fearful shrieking from the depths of the
bin. The fair ladye protested that she would not stay in her dungeon.

"There's nasty big spidahs down heah!" she called. "Ow! One is crawlin'
on my neck now, and my face is all tangled up in cobwebs! Get me out!
Get me out! Quick, Gingah!"

The king sprang up to go to her rescue, but was promptly motioned to his
seat again by a warning shake of the other crowned head.

"Why, of course! There's always spiders in dungeons," called the wicked
queen, coolly helping herself to another piece of chicken. "Besides, you
should say 'your Majesty' when you are talking to me."

"But there's a mouse in heah, too," she called back, in distress. "Oo!
Oo! It ran ovah my feet. If you don't make them take me out of heah,
Gingah Dudley, I'll do something _awful_ to you! Murdah! Murdah!" she
yelled, pounding on the sides of the bin with both her fists, and
stamping her little foot in a furious rage.


Seeing that Lloyd was really terrified, and fearing that her screams
would bring some one from the house, the royal couple and their guests
sprang to the rescue, nearly upsetting the banquet as they did so. The
game would have been broken up then, when she was lifted out from the
feed-bin, red and angry, if it had not been for the king's great tact.
He brushed the cobwebs from her face and hair, and even got down on his
royal knees to ask her pardon.

His polite coaxing finally had its effect on the little lady, and he
persuaded her to climb a ladder into a loft just above them. Here on a
pile of clean hay, beside an open window that looked across a peaceful
meadow, her anger cooled. Towers were far more comfortable than
dungeons, in her opinion, and when Malcolm came up the ladder with a
plateful of the choicest morsels of the feast, she began to enjoy her
part of the play. Jonesy was sent to inform his knight of the change
from dungeon to tower, and the banquet went merrily on.

He found Keith waiting below the barn, with his pony tied to a fence. On
the other side of the fence lay the railroad track, which skirted the
back of Mrs. MacIntyre's place for over half a mile.

"Do you see that hand-car?" asked Keith, pointing with his riding-whip
to one on the track. "The section boss let Malcolm and me ride up and
down on it all afternoon one day this winter. Some workman left it on
the switch while ago, and while you were up at the barn I got two
darkeys to move it for me. They didn't want to at first, but I knew that
there'd be no train along for an hour, and told 'em so, and they finally
did it for a dime apiece. As soon as I rescue Lloyd I'll dash down here
on my pony with her behind me. Then we'll slip through the fence and get
on the hand-car, and be out of sight around the curve before the rest
get here. They won't know where on earth we've gone, and it will be the
best joke on them. It's down grade all the way to the section-house, so
I can push it easily enough by myself, but I'll need your help coming
back, maybe. S'pose you cut across lots to the section-house as soon as
I start to the barn, and meet me there. It isn't half as far that way,
so you'll get there as soon as we do."

"All right," said Jonesy. "I'm your kid."

"You should say, ''Tis well, Sir Knight, I fly to do thy bidding,'"
prompted Keith.

Jonesy grinned. He could not enter into the spirit of the play as the
others did. "Aw, I'll be on time," he said; then, as Keith untied his
pony, started on a run across the fields.

The Lady Lloyd had not finished her repast when her rescuer appeared,
but she put the plate down on the hay to await her return, and
obediently climbed down the ladder he placed for her. They reached the
fence before the banqueters knew that she had escaped. Flinging the
pony's bridle over a fence-post, when they reached the edge of the
field, the brave knight crawled through the fence and pulled Lloyd after
him, tearing her dress, much to that dainty little lady's
extreme disgust.

By the time the king and his guard were mounted in pursuit, on the other
pony which stood in waiting, the runaways were in the hand-car. It moved
slowly at first, although Keith was strong for his age, and his hardy
little muscles were untiring.

"Isn't it lovely?" cried Lloyd, as they moved faster and faster and
swept around the curve. "I wish we could go all the way to Louisville on
this." The warm March wind fanned her pink cheeks, and blew her soft
light hair into her eyes.

Jonesy was waiting at the section-house, and waved his cap as they
passed. "We're going on, around the next bend," shouted Keith, as they
passed him. "Whoop-la! this is fine, and not a bit hard to work!"

"What will the wicked queen think when she can't find us?" asked Lloyd,
laughing happily, as they sped on down the track.

"She'll think that I am a magician and have spirited you away," said

"Then if you are a magician you ought to change her into a nasty black
spidah, to pay her back fo' shuttin' me up with them!" Lloyd was
delighted with this new play. For the time it seemed as if she really
were escaping from a castle prison. Faster and faster they went. Jonesy,
who had followed them to the second curve, stood watching them with
wistful eyes, wishing he could be with them. They passed the depot, and
then the hand-car seemed to grow smaller and smaller as it rolled away,
until it was only a moving speck in the distance. Then he turned and
walked back to the section-house.

"I s'pect we've gone about far enough," said Keith, after awhile. "We'd
better turn around now and go back, or the picnic will all be over
before we get our share. Let's wait here a minute till I rest my arms,
and then we'll start."

The place where they had stopped was the loneliest part of the track
that could be found in miles, on either side. It was in the midst of a
thick beech woods, and the twitter of a bird, now and then, was the only
sound in all the deep stillness.

"What lovely green moss on that bank!" cried the Little Colonel.
"Wouldn't it make a beautiful carpet for our playhouse down by the
old mill?"

"I'll get you some," said Keith, gallantly springing from the car and
clambering up the bank. Taking out his knife, he began to cut great
squares of the velvety green moss, and pile it up to carry back to
the hand-car.

Meanwhile Jonesy waited at the section-house, digging his heels into the
cinders that lined the track, and looking impatiently down the road.
Presently the section boss came limping along painfully, and sat down on
the bank in the warm spring sunshine. He had dropped a piece of heavy
machinery on his foot, the week before, and was only able to hobble
short distances.

Everybody in the Valley was interested in Jonesy since the fire and the
Benefit had made him so well known, and the man was glad of this
opportunity to satisfy his curiosity about the boy. Jonesy, with all the
fearlessness of a little street gamin brought up in a big city, answered
him fearlessly, even saucily at times, much to the man's amusement.

"So you want to get a job around here, do you?" said the man, presently,
with a grin. "Maybe I can give you one. Know anything about

"Heaps," answered Jonesy. "Well, I'd ought to, seem' as I've lived next
door to the engine yards all my life, and spent my time dodgin' the cop
on watch there, when I was tryin' to steal rides on freight-cars
and such."

"Is that what you're hangin' around here now for?" asked the man, with a
good-natured twinkle in his eyes.

"Nope! I'm waiting for that MacIntyre kid to come back this way. He went
down the track a bit ago on a hand-car, playing rescue a princess with
one of the girls at the picnic,"

The section boss sprang up with an exclamation of alarm. "How far's he
gone?" he asked. "There's a special due to pass here in a few minutes."

Even while he spoke there sounded far away in the distance, so far that
it was like only a faint echo, the whistle of an approaching locomotive.
The man hobbled down the track a yard or so and stopped. "What do you
suppose they'll do?" he asked. "There are so many bends in this road,
the train may come right on to 'em before the engineer sees 'em. S'pose
they'll jump off, or turn and try to come back?"

Jonesy glanced around wildly a second, and then sprang forward toward
the man.

"Give me the switch-key!" he cried, in a high voice, shrill with
excitement. "You can't run, but I can. Give me the switch-key!"
Perplexed by the sudden turn of affairs and the little fellow's
commanding tone, the man took the key from his pocket. He realised his
own helplessness to do anything, and there was something in Jonesy's
manner that inspired confidence. He felt that the child's quick wit had
grasped the situation and formed some sensible plan of action.

Again the whistle sounded in the distance, and, snatching the key,
Jonesy was off down the track like an arrow. The section boss, leaning
heavily on his cane, limped after him as fast as he could.

Keith and the Little Colonel, having gathered the moss and started back
home, were rolling leisurely along, still talking of magicians and
their ilk.

"What if we should meet a dragon?" cried the Little Colonel. "A dragon
with a scaly green tail, and red eyes and a fiery tongue. What would
you do then?"

"I'd say, 'What! Ho! Thou monster!' and cleave him in twain with my good
broadsword, and when he saw its shining blade smite through the air he'd
just curl up and die."

Keith looked back to smile at the bright laughing face beside him. Then
he caught sight of something over his shoulder that made him pause. "Oh,
look!" he cried, pointing over the tree-tops behind them. A little puff
of smoke, rising up in the distance, trailed along the sky like a long
banner. At the same instant, out of the smoke, sounded the whistle of an
approaching engine. The track behind them had so many turns, he could
not judge of their distance from it, and for an instant he stopped
working the handle bar up and down, too thoroughly frightened to know
what to do. An older child might have acted differently; might have
jumped from the hand-car and left it to be run into by the approaching
train, or have hurried back around the bend to flag the engine. But
Keith had only one idea left: that was to keep ahead of the train as
long as possible. It seemed so far away he thought they could surely
reach the depot before it caught up with them, and his sturdy little
arms bent to the task.

For a moment there was a real pleasure in the exertion. He felt with an
excited thrill that he was really running away with the Little Colonel,
and rescuing her from a pursuing danger. Suddenly the whistle sounded
again, and this time it seemed so close behind them that the Little
Colonel gave a terrified glance over her shoulder and then screamed at
the sight of the great snorting monster, breathing out fire and smoke,
worse than any scaly-tailed dragon that she had ever imagined. It was
far down the track but they could hear its terrible rumble as it rushed
over a trestle, and the singing of the wires overhead.

Keith was straining every muscle now, but it was like running in a
nightmare. His arms moved up and down at a furious speed, but it seemed
to him that the hand-car was glued to one spot. It seemed, too, that it
had been hours since they first discovered that the engine was after
them, and he felt that he would soon be too exhausted to move another
stroke. Would the depot never never come in sight?

Just then they shot around the curve and caught sight of Jonesy at the
depot switch, wildly beckoning with his cap and shouting for them to
come on. At that sight, with one supreme effort Keith put his
fast-failing strength to the test, and sent the hand-car rolling forward
faster than ever. It shot past the switch that Jonesy had unlocked and
off to the side-track, just as the train bore down upon them around the
last bend.

There was barely time for Jonesy to set the switch again before it
thundered on along the main track past the little depot. Being a
special, it did not stop. As it went shrieking by, the engineer cast a
curious glance at a hand-car on the side-track. A little girl sat on it,
a pretty golden-haired child with dark eyes big with fright, and her
face as white as her dress. He wondered what was the matter.

For a moment after the shrieking train whizzed by everything seemed
deathly still. Keith sat leaning against the embankment, white and limp
from exhaustion and the excitement of his close escape. Jonesy was
panting and wiping the perspiration from his red face, for he had run
like a deer to reach the switch in time.

"I couldn't have held out a minute longer," said Keith, presently. "My
arms felt like they had gone to sleep, and I was just ready to give up
when I caught sight of you. That seemed to give me strength to go on,
when I saw what you were at and that it would only be a little farther
to go before we would be safe. Plow did you happen to be at the switch,
and know how to set it?"

"Hain't lived all my life around engine yards fer nothin'," answered
Jonesy. "Why didn't you jump off and flag the train?"

"I was so taken by surprise I didn't think of that," answered Keith.
"The only thing I knew was that we had to keep ahead of it as long as
possible. You've saved my life, Jones Carter, and I'll never forget it,
no matter what comes,"

"I've been rescued twice to-day," said the Little Colonel, taking a deep
breath as she began to recover from her fright. "Jonesy ought to be a
knight, too."

"That's so!" exclaimed Keith, springing to his feet. "Come on and let's
go back to the barn. We'll tell our adventures, and then we'll go
through the ceremony of making Jonesy a Sir Something or other. He's
certainly won his spurs."

"Goin' back on the hand-car?" asked Jonesy.

"Not much," answered Keith, with a sickly sort of smile. "Somehow such
fast travelling doesn't seem to agree with a fellow. Walking is good
enough for me."

"Me too!" cried the Little Colonel, tying on her white sunbonnet. "But
the first part of it was lovely,--just like flyin'."

Jonesy ran back to give the man his key, and was kept answering
questions so long that he did not catch up with the other children until
they were in sight of the barn.

"After all," said Keith, as the three trudged along together, "maybe
we'd better not tell how near we came to being run over. Grandmother
and Aunt Allison would be dreadfully worried if they should hear of it.
They are always worrying for fear something will happen to us."

"Mothah would be _wild_" exclaimed the Little Colonel, "if she knew I
had been in any dangah. Maybe she wouldn't let me out of her sight again
to play all summah."

"Then let's don't tell for a long, long time," proposed Keith. "It'll be
our secret, just for us three."

"All right," the others agreed. They dropped the subject then, for the
barn was just ahead of them, and the gay picnickers came running out,
demanding to know where they had been so long.

The Little Colonel often spoke of her experience afterward to the two
boys, however, and in Keith's day-dreams a home for Jonesy began to
crowd out all other hopes and plans.



Keith was stiff for a week after his race on the hand-car, but did his
groaning in private. He knew what a commotion would be raised if the
matter came to his grandmother's ears. She had lived all winter in
constant dread of accidents. Malcolm had been carried home twice in an
unconscious state, once from having been thrown from his bicycle, and
once from falling through a trap-door in the barn. Keith had broken
through the ice on the pond, sprained his wrist while coasting, and
walked in half a dozen times with the blood streaming from some wound on
his head or face.

Virginia had never been hurt, but her hair-breadth escapes would have
filled a volume. An amusing one was the time she lassoed a young calf,
Indian fashion, to show the boys how it should be done. Its angry
mother was in the next lot, but Virginia felt perfectly safe as she
swung her lariat and dragged the bleating calf around the barn-yard. She
did not stop to consider that if a cow with lofty ambitions had once
jumped over the moon, one which saw its calf in danger might easily leap
a low hedge. Malcolm's warning shout came just in time to save her from
being gored by the angry animal, who charged at her with lowered horns.
She sprang up the ladder leading to the corn-crib window, where she was
safe, but she had to hang there until Unc' Henry could be called to
the rescue.

It was with many misgivings that Mrs. MacIntyre and Miss Allison started
to the city one morning in April. It was the first time since the
children's coming that they had both gone away at once, and nothing but
urgent business would have made them consent to go.

The children promised at least a dozen things. They would keep away from
the barn, the live stock, the railroad, the ponds, and the cisterns.
They would not ride their wheels, climb trees, nor go off the Maclntyre
premises, and they would keep a sharp lookout for snakes and poison
ivy, in case they went into the woods for wild flowers.

[Illustration: VIRGINIA AND THE CALF.]

"Seems to me there's mighty little left that a fellow can do," said
Keith, when the long list was completed.

"Oh, the time will soon pass," said his grandmother, who was preparing
to take the eleven o'clock train. "It will soon be lunch-time. Then this
is the day for you each to write your weekly letters to your mother, and
it is so pretty in the woods now that I am sure you will enjoy looking
for violets."

Time did pass quickly, as their grandmother had said it would, until the
middle of the afternoon. Then Virginia began to wish for something more
amusing than the quiet guessing games they had been playing in the
library. The boys each picked up a book, and she strolled off up-stairs,
in search of a livelier occupation.

In a few minutes she came down, looking like a second Pocahontas in her
Indian suit, with her bow and arrows slung over her shoulder.

"I am going down to the woods to practise shooting," she announced, as
she stopped to look in at the door.

"Oh, wait just a minute!" begged Malcolm, throwing down his book.
"Let's all play Indian this afternoon. We'll rig up, too, and build a
wigwam down by the spring rock, and make a fire,--grandmother didn't say
we couldn't make a fire; that's about the only thing she forgot to tell
us not to do."

"You can come on when you get ready," answered Virginia. "I'm going now,
because it is getting late, but you'll find me near the spring when you
come. Just yell."

The boys could not hope to rival Virginia's Indian costume, but no
wilder-looking little savages ever uttered a war-whoop than the two
which presently dashed into the still April woods.

Malcolm had ripped some variegated fringe from a table-cover to pin down
the sides of his leather leggins. He had borrowed a Roman blanket from
Aunt Allison's couch to pin around his shoulders, and emptied several
tubes of her most expensive paints to streak his face with hideous
stripes and daubs. A row of feathers from the dust-brush was fastened
around his forehead by a broad band, and a hatchet from the woodshed
provided him with a tomahawk.

Keith had no time to arrange feathers. He had taken off his flannels in
order to put on an old striped bathing-suit, which he had found in the
attic and stored away, intending to use it for swimming in the pond when
the weather should grow warm enough. It had no sleeves, and the short
trousers had shrunk until they did not half-way reach his knees. Its red
and white stripes had faded and the colour run until the whole was a
dingy "crushed strawberry" shade. As Malcolm had emptied all the tubes
of red paint in his Aunt Allison's box, Keith had to content himself
with some other colour. He chose the different shades of green,
squeezing the paint out on his plump little legs and arms, and rubbing
it around with his fore finger until he was encircled with as many
stripes as a zebra. Although the day was warm for the early part of
April, the sudden change from his customary clothes and spring flannels
to nothing but the airy bathing suit and war-paint made him a trifle
chilly; so he completed his costume by putting on a pair of scarlet
bedroom slippers, edged with dark fur.

With the dropping of their civilised clothing, the boys seemed to have
dropped all recollections of their professed knighthood, and acted like
the little savages they looked.

"We're going to shoot with your things awhile, Ginger," shouted Keith,
coming suddenly upon her with a whoop, and snatching her bow out of her
hands. "You are the squaw, so you have to do all the work. Get down
there now behind that rock and make a fire, while we go out and kill a
deer. You must build a wigwam, too, by the time we get back. Hear me?
I'm a big chief! 'I am Famine--Buckadawin!' and I'll make a living
skeleton of you if you don't hustle."

Virginia was furious. "I'll not be a squaw!" she cried. "And I'll not
build a fire or do anything else if you talk so rudely. If you don't
give me back my bow and let me be a chief, too, I'll--I'll get even with
you, sir, in a way you won't like. I have short hair, and my clothes are
more Indian than yours, and I can shoot better than either of you,
anyhow! So there! Give me my bow."

"What will you do if I won't?" said Keith, teasingly, holding it behind

"I'll go up to the barn and get a rope, and lasso you like I did that
calf, and drag you all over the place!" cried Virginia, her eyes
shining with fierce determination.

"She means it, Keith," said Malcolm. "She'll do it sure, if you don't
stop teasing. Oh, give it to her and come along, or it will be dark
before we begin to play."

Matters went on more smoothly after Malcolm's efforts at peacemaking,
and when it was decided that Ginger could be a brave, too, instead of a
squaw, they were soon playing together as pleasantly as if they had
found the happy hunting grounds. The short afternoon waned fast, and the
shadows were growing deep when they reached the last part of the game.
Ginger had been taken prisoner, and they were tying her to a tree, with
her hands bound securely behind her back. She rather enjoyed this part
of it, for she intended to show them how brave she could be.

"Now we'll sit around the council fire and decide how to torture her,"
said Malcolm, when the captive was securely tied. But the fire was out
and they had no matches. The lot fell on Malcolm to run up to the house
and get some.

"A fire would feel good," said Keith, looking around with a shiver as he
seated himself on a log near Ginger. The sun was low in the west, and
very little of its light and warmth found its way into the woods where
the children were playing.

"It makes me think of Hiawatha," said Ginger, looking down at several
long streaks of golden light which lay across the ground at her feet.
"Don't you remember how it goes? 'And the long and level sunbeams shot
their spears into the forest, breaking through its shield of shadow,'
Isn't that pretty? I love Hiawatha. I am going to learn pages and pages
of it some day. I know all that part about Minnehaha now,"

"Say it while we are waiting," said Keith, pulling his short trousers
down as far as possible, and wishing that he had sleeves, or else that
the paint were thicker on his chilly arms.

"All right," began Virginia.

"'Oh the long and dreary winter!
Oh the cold and cruel winter!
Ever thicker, thicker, thicker
Froze the ice on lake and river.'"

"Ugh! Don't!" interrupted Keith, with a shiver. "It makes my teeth
chatter, talking about such cold things!"

Just then a shout came ringing down the hill, "Oh, Keith! Come here a
minute! Quick!"

"What do you wa-ant?" yelled Keith, in return.

"Come up here! Quick! Hurry up!"

"What do you s'pose can be the matter?" exclaimed Keith, scrambling to
his feet. "Maybe the bear has got loose and run away."

"Come and untie me first," said Virginia, "and I'll go, too." Keith
gave several quick tugs at the many knotted string which bound her, but
could not loosen it. Again the call came, impatient and sharp, "Keith!
_Oh_, Keith!"

"Oh, I can't loosen it a bit," said Keith. "You'll have to wait till
Malcolm comes with his knife. We'll be back in just a minute. I'll go
and see what's the matter."

"Be sure that you don't stay!" screamed Ginger, as the scarlet bedroom
slippers and green striped legs flashed out of sight through the bushes.

"Back--in--a--minute!" sounded shrilly through the woods.

Keith found Malcolm on the back porch, pounding excitedly on a box which
the express-man had left there a few minutes before.

"It's the camera we have been looking for all week," he cried. "Come on
and have a look at it."

"Ginger said to hurry back," said Keith.

"Pshaw! It won't take but a minute. I'll pry the box open in a jiffy."

It was harder work than the boys had supposed, to take the tightly
nailed lid from its place, and they were so intent on their work they
did not realise how quickly the minutes were passing.

"Isn't it a beauty?" exclaimed Malcolm, when it was at last unpacked.
"It's lots bigger and finer than the one papa promised. But that's the
way he always does. Oh, isn't it a peach!"

"I'll tell you what," said Keith, dancing up and down in his excitement,
until he looked like a ridiculous little clown in the faded pink
bathing-suit and his stripes of green paint, "let's take each other's
pictures while we are dressed this way. We may never look so funny
again, and we can go down and take Ginger, too, while she is tied to
the tree."

"Can't now," said Malcolm, "it's too dark down there in the woods by
this time. See! there is nothing left now of the sun but those red
clouds above the place where it went down. I'm afraid it is too dark
even for us up here on the hill; but we can try. You do look funny, just
like a jumping-jack or a monkey on a stick."

"Surely Ginger won't mind waiting long enough for us to do it," said
Keith. "Anyhow we can never dress up this way again, and grandmother
will be coming home very soon, so you take mine quick, and I will
take yours."

The boys had had some practice before with a cheap little camera, but
this required some studying of the printed directions before they could
use it. The first time they tried it the plates were put in wrong, and
the second time they forgot to remove the cap. There were other things
in the box besides the camera: some beautiful pink curlew's wings, a
handsomely marked snake skin, and some rare shells that had been picked
up on the Gulf coast. Of course the boys had to examine each new
treasure as it was discovered. One thing after another delayed them
until it was dusk even on the porch where they stood, and in the woods
below a deep twilight had fallen.

Every minute that had sped by so rapidly for the boys, seemed an age to
the captive Virginia. Her arms ached from the strain of their unusual
position. Swarms of gnats flew about, stinging her face, and mosquitoes
buzzed teasingly around her ears. She was unable to move a finger to
drive them away.

When the boys had been gone fifteen minutes she thought they must have
been away hours. At the end of half an hour she was wild with impatience
to get loose, but, thinking they might return any minute, she made no
sign of her discomfort. She would be as heroic as the bravest brave ever
tortured by cruel savages. As long as it was light she kept up her
courage, but presently it began to grow dark under the great
beech-trees. A frog down by the spring set up a dismal croaking. What if
they should not come back, and her grandmother and Aunt Allison should
miss the train, and have to stay in the city all night! Then nobody
would come to set her free, and she would have to stay in the lonely
woods all by herself, tied to a tree, with her hands behind her back.

At that thought she began calling, "Keith! Keith! Malcolm! Oh, Malcolm!"
but only an echo came back to her, as it had to the dying Minnehaha,--a
far-away echo that mocked her with its teasing cry of "Mal-colm!" Call
after call went ringing through the woods, but nobody answered.
Nobody came.

There was a rustling through the leaves behind her, as of a snake
gliding around the tree. She was not afraid of snakes in the daytime,
and when she was unbound, but she shrieked and turned cold at the
thought of one wriggling across her feet while she was powerless to get
away. Every time a twig snapped, or there was a fluttering in the
bushes, she strained her eyes to see what horrible thing might be
creeping up toward her. She had no thought that live Indians might be
lurking about, but all the terrible stories she had ever heard, of the
days of Daniel Boone and the early settlers, came back to haunt the
woods with a nameless dread.

She felt that she was standing on the real Kentucky that the Indians
meant, when they gave the State its name. "_Dark and bloody ground! Dark
and bloody ground_!" something seemed to say just behind her. Then the
trees took it up, and all the leaves whispered, "_Sh--sh, sh! Dark and
bloody ground! Sh--sh_!"

At that she was so frightened that she began calling again, but the
sound of her own voice startled her. "Oh, they are not coming," she
thought, with a miserable ache in her throat, that seemed swelling
bigger and bigger. "I'll have to stay here in the woods all night. Oh,
mamma! mamma!" she moaned, "I am so scared! If you could only come back
and get your poor little girl!"

Up to this time she had bravely fought back the tears, but just then a
screech-owl flapped down from a branch above her with such a dismal
hooting that she gave a nervous start and a cry of terror. "Oh, that
frightened me so!" she sobbed. "I don't believe I can stand it to be out
here all night alone with so many horrible creepy things everywhere. And
nobody cares! Nobody but papa and mamma, and they are away, way off in
Cuba. Maybe I'll never see them any more," At that the tears rolled down
her face, and she could not move a hand to wipe them away. To be so
little and miserable and forsaken, so worn out with waiting and so
helpless among all these unknown horrors that the dark woods might hold,
was worse torture to the imaginative child than any bodily pain could
have been.

It was just as her last bit of courage oozed away, and she began to cry,
that the boys suddenly realised how long they had left her.

"It must be as dark as a pocket in the woods by this time," exclaimed
Malcolm. "What do you suppose Ginger will say to us for leaving her
so long?"

"You will have to take a knife to cut her loose," said Keith. "I tried
to untie the knots before I came away, but I couldn't move them."

"My pocket-knife is up-stairs," answered Malcolm. "I'll get something in
the dining-room that will do."

He was rushing out again with a carving-knife in his hand, when he came
face to face with his grandmother and Aunt Allison. The boys had been so
interested in their camera that they had not heard the train whistle, or
the sound of footsteps coming up on the front veranda. Pete was lighting
the hall lamps as the ladies came in, and he turned his back to hide the
broad grin on his face, as he thought of the sight which would soon
greet them. Mrs. Maclntyre gave a gasp of astonishment and sank down in
the nearest chair as Malcolm came dashing into the bright lamplight.

His turkey feathers were all awry, standing out in a dozen different
directions from his head, his blanket trailed behind him, and the fringe
was hanging in festoons from his leggins, where it had come unpinned.
The red paint on his face made him look as if he had been in a fight
with the carving-knife he carried, and had had the skin peeled off his
face in patches.

Wild as he looked, his appearance was tame beside that of the
impish-looking little savage who skipped in after him, in the scarlet
bedroom slippers, pink striped bathing-suit and green striped skin.

"Keith Maclntyre, what have you been doing to yourself?" gasped his
grandmother. Both boys began an excited exclamation, but were stopped by
Miss Allison's question, "Where is Virginia? Have you two little savages
scalped her?"

"She's tied to a tree down by the spring," answered Malcolm. "We are
just starting down there now to cut her loose. You see we were playing
Indian, and she was tied up to be tortured, and we forgot all about her
being there--"

But Miss Allison waited to hear no more. "The poor little thing!" she
exclaimed. "Tied out there alone in the dark woods! How could you be so
cruel? It is enough to frighten her into spasms."

"I'm awfully sorry, Aunt Allison!" began Malcolm, but his aunt was
already out of hearing. Out of the door she ran, through the dewy grass
and the stubble of the field beyond, regardless of her dainty spring
gown, or her new patent leather shoes. Malcolm and Keith dashed out
after her, ran on ahead and were at the spring before she had climbed
the fence into the woodland.

Virginia was not crying when the boys reached her. She remembered that
she had once called Malcolm "Rain-in-the-face" because she caught him
crying over something that seemed to her a very little reason, and she
did not intend to give him a chance to taunt her in the same way. She
was glad that it was too dark for him to notice her tear-swollen eyes.

"Whew! It's dark down here!" said Keith. "Were you frightened, Ginger?"
he asked, as he helped Malcolm unfasten the cords that bound her. But
Ginger made no reply to either questions or apologies. She walked on in
dignified silence, too deeply hurt by their neglect, too full of a sense
of the wrong they had done her, to trust herself to speak without
crying, and she intended to be game to the last. But when she came upon
Miss Allison, and suddenly found herself folded safe in her arms, with
pitying kisses and comforting caresses, she clung to her, sobbing as if
her heart would break.

"Oh, auntie! It was so awful!" was all she could say, but she repeated
it again and again, until Miss Allison, who had never seen her so
excited before, was alarmed. The boys, who had run on ahead to the house
again, before she gave way to her feelings, were inclined to look upon
it all as a good joke, for they had no idea how much she had suffered,
and did not like it because she would not speak to them. They changed
their minds when Miss Allison came out of Virginia's room a little
later, and told them that the fright had given the child a nervous
chill, and that she had cried herself to sleep.

"We didn't mean to do it," said Keith, penitently. "We just forgot, and
I'm mighty sorry, truly I am, auntie!"

"I am not scolding you," said Miss Allison, "but if I were either of you
boys, I wouldn't wear my little white flower when I dressed for dinner
to-night. Instead of being the protector of a distressed maiden, as the
old knights would have said, you have done her a wrong,--a serious one I
am afraid,--and that wrong ought to be made right as far as possible
before you are worthy to wear the badge of knighthood again."

"We'll go and beg her pardon right now," said Malcolm.

"No, she is asleep now, and I do not want her to be disturbed. Besides,
a mere apology is not enough. You must make some kind of atonement. The
first thing for you to do, however, is to get some turpentine and remove
that paint. Where did you get it, boys?"

"Out of your paint-box, Aunt Allison," said Malcolm. "We didn't think
you would care. I was only going to take a little, but it soaked in so
fast that I had to use two tubes of it."

"I used more than that," confessed Keith, looking at her with his big
honest eyes; "but I got so interested pretending that I was turning into
a real Indian, that I never thought about its being anybody else's
paint, Aunt Allison, truly I didn't!"

She turned away to hide a smile. The earnest little face above the
striped body was so very comical. Picking up several of the empty tubes
that had been squeezed quite flat, she read the labels. "Rose madder and
carmine," she said, solemnly, "two of my very most expensive paints."

"Dear me!" sighed Malcolm, "then there's another wrong that's got to be
righted. I guess Keith and I weren't cut out for knights. I'm beginning
to think that it's a mighty tough business anyhow."

That night, when the boys came down to dinner, no little white flower
with its diamond dewdrop centre shone on the lapel of either coat. It
had been a work of time to scrub off the paint, and then it took almost
as long to get rid of the turpentine, so that dinner was ready long
before Keith was finally clad in his flannels. "My throat is sore," he
complained to Malcolm at bedtime, but did not mention it to any one else
that night. He sat on the side of his bed a moment before undressing,
with one foot across his knee, staring thoughtfully at the lamp.
Presently, with one shoe in his hand and the other half unlaced, he
hopped over to the dressing-table and stood before it, looking at first
one picture and then another.

Eight different photographs of his mother were ranged along the table
below the wide mirror, some taken in evening dress, some in simple
street costume, and each one so beautiful that it would have been hard
to decide which one had the greatest charm.

"I wish mamma was here to-night," said Keith, softly, with a little
quiver of his lip. "Seems like she's been gone almost always."

He picked up a large Roman locket of beaten silver that lay open on the
table. It held two exquisitely painted miniatures on ivory. One was the
same sweet face that looked out at him from each of the photographs, the
other was his father's. It showed a handsome young fellow with strong,
clean-shaven face, with eyes like Keith's, and the same lordly poise of
the fine head that Malcolm had.

"Good night, papa, good night, mamma!" whispered Keith, touching his
lips hastily to each picture while Malcolm's back was turned. There were
tears in his eyes. Somehow he was so miserably homesick.

Next morning, although Keith's throat was not so sore, he was burning
with fever by the time his lessons were over. Before his grandmother saw
him he was off on his wheel for a long ride, and then, because he was so
hot when he came back, he slipped away to the pond with the pink
bathing-suit under his coat, and took the swim that he had been looking
forward to so long. Nobody knew where he was, and he stayed in the water
until his lips and finger-nails were blue. The morning after that he was
too ill to get up, and Mrs. Maclntyre sent for a doctor.

"He has always been so perfectly well, and seemed to have such a strong
constitution, that I cannot allow myself to believe this will be
anything serious," said Mrs. Maclntyre, but at the end of the third day
he was so much worse that she sent to the city for a trained nurse, and
telegraphed for his father and mother.

They had already left Florida, and were yachting up the Atlantic coast
on their way home when the message reached them.



Malcolm did his best to atone to Virginia for what she had suffered from
the forgetfulness of the two little Indians, but poor Keith was too ill
to remember anything about it. He did not know his father and mother
when they came, and tossed restlessly about, talking wildly of things
they could not understand. It was the first time he had ever been so
ill, and as they watched him lying there day after day, burning with
fever, and growing white and thin, a great fear came upon them that he
would never be any better.

No one put that fear into words, but little by little it crept from
heart to heart like a wintry fog, until the whole house felt its chill.
The sweet spring sounds and odours came rushing in at every window from
the sunny world outside, but it might as well have been mid-winter. No
one paid any heed while that little life hung in the balance. The
servants went through the house on tiptoe. Malcolm and Virginia haunted
the halls to discover from the grave faces of the older people what they
were afraid to ask, and Mrs. Maclntyre was kept busy answering the
inquiries of the neighbours. Scarcely an hour passed that some one did
not come to ask about Keith, to leave flowers, or to proffer kindly
services. Everybody who knew the little fellow loved him. His bright
smile and winning manner had made him a host of friends.

There was no lack of attention. His father and mother, Miss Allison, and
the nurse watched every breath, every pulse-beat; and a dozen times in
the night his grandmother stole to the door to look anxiously at the wan
little face on the pillow.

"It is so strange," said his mother to the nurse one day. "He keeps
talking about a white flower. He says that he can't right the wrong
unless he wears it, and that Jonesy will have to be shut up and never
find his brother again. What do you suppose he means?"

The nurse shook her head. She did not know. Just then Mrs. Maclntyre
heard her name called softly, "Elise," and her husband beckoned her to
come out into the hall. "I want to show you something in Allison's
room," he said, leading her down the hall to his sister's apartment. On
each side of the low writing-desk stood a large photograph, one of
Malcolm in his suit of mail, the other of Keith in the costume of
jewel-embroidered velvet, like the little Duke of Gloster's.

"Oh, Sydney! How beautiful!" she exclaimed, as she swept across the room
and knelt down before the desk for a better view. Leaning her arms on
the desk, she looked into Keith's pictured face with hungry eyes. "Isn't
he lovely?" she repeated. "Oh, he'll never look like that again! I know
it! I know it!" she sobbed, remembering how white was the little face on
the pillow that she had just left.

Mr. Maclntyre bent over her, his own handsome face white and haggard. He
looked ill himself, from the constant watching and anxiety. "I'd give
anything in the world that I own! Everything!" he groaned. "I'd do
anything, sacrifice anything, to see him as well and sturdy as he
looks there!"

Then he caught up the picture. "What's this written underneath?" he
asked, "It is in Keith's own handwriting: '_Live pure speak truth, right
the wrong, follow the king. Else wherefore born_?'

"What does it mean, Allison?" he asked, turning to his sister, who was
resting on a couch by the window. "It is written under Malcolm's
picture, too."

"The dear little Sir Galahads," she said, "I sent for you to tell you
about them. The boys intended the pictures as a surprise for you and
Elise, so we never sent them. They wanted to tell you themselves about
the Benefit and the little waif they gave it for."

She took a little pin from a jewel-case under the sofa pillows, and
reaching over, dropped it in her brother's hand. It was a tiny flower of
white enamel, with a diamond dewdrop in the centre.

"You may have noticed Malcolm wearing one like it," she said, and then
she told them the story of Jonesy and the bear and all that their coming
had led to: the Benefit, the new order of knighthood, and the awakening
of the boys to a noble purpose.

"The boys fully expect you to stand by them in all this, Sydney," she
said, in conclusion, "and play fairy godfather for Jonesy henceforth and
for ever. One night, when Keith came up to confess some mischief he had
been into during the day, he said:

"'Aunt Allison, this wearing the white flower of a blameless life isn't
as easy as it is cracked up to be; but having this little pin helps a
lot. I just put my hand on that like the real knights used to do on
their sword-hilts, and repeat my motto. It will be easier when papa
comes home. Since I've known Jonesy, and heard him tell about the hard
times some people have that he knows, it seems to me there's an awful
lot of wrong in the world for somebody to set right. Some nights I can
hardly go to sleep for thinking about it, and wishing that I were grown
up so that I could begin to do my part. I wish papa could be here now.
He'd make a splendid knight; he is so big and good and handsome. I don't
s'pose King Arthur himself was any better or braver than my father is.'"

A tear splashed down from the mother's eyes as she listened, and,
falling on the tiny white flower as it lay in her husband's hand,
glistened beside the dewdrop centre like another diamond.

"Oh, Sydney!" she exclaimed, in a heart-broken way. Something very like
a sob shook the man's broad shoulders, and, turning abruptly, he strode
out of the room.

Down in the dim, green library, where the blinds had been drawn to keep
it cool, he threw himself into a chair beside the table. Propping
Keith's picture up in front of him against a pile of books, he leaned
forward, gazing at it earnestly. He had never realised before how much
he loved the little son, who hour by hour seemed slowly slipping farther
away from him. The pictured face looked full into his as if it would
speak. It wore the same sweet, trustful expression that had shone there
the night he talked to Jonesy of the Hall of the Shields; the same
childish purity that had moved the old professor to lay his hands upon
his head and call him Galahad.

All that gentle birth, college breeding, wealth, and travel could give a
man, were Sydney Maclntyre's, and yet, measuring himself by Keith's
standard of knighthood, he felt himself sadly lacking. He had given
liberally to charities hundreds of dollars, because it was often easier
for him to write out a check than to listen to somebody's tale of
suffering. But aside from that he had left the old world to wag on as
best it could, with its grievous load of wrong and sorrow.

A man is not apt to trouble himself as to how it wags for those outside
his circle of friends, when the generations before him have spent their
time laying up a fortune for him to enjoy. But this man was beginning to
trouble himself about it now, as he paced restlessly up and down the
room. He was not thinking now about the things that usually occupied
him, his social duties, his home or club, or yacht or horses or kennels.
He was not planning some new pleasure for his friends or family, he was
wondering what he could do to be worthy of the exalted regard in which
he was held by his little sons. What wrong could he set right, to prove
himself really as noble as they thought him? He was their ideal of all
that was generous and manly, and yet--

"What have I ever done," he asked himself, "to make them think so? If I
were to be taken out of the world to-morrow, I would be leaving it
exactly as I found it. Who could point to my coffin and say, 'Laws are
better, politics are purer, or times are not so hard for the masses now,
because this one man willed to lift up his fellows as far as the might
of one strong life can reach?' But they will say that of Malcolm, and
Keith, if he lives--ah, if he lives!"

An hour later the door opened, and Malcolm came in, softly. "Keith is
asking for you, papa," he said, with a timid glance into his father's
haggard face. Then he came nearer, and slipped his hand into the man's
strong fingers, and together they went up the stairs to answer
the summons.

"Did you want me, Keith?"

The head did not turn on the pillow. The languid eyes opened only
half-way, but there was recognition in them now, and one little hand was
raised to lay itself lovingly against his father's cheek.

"What is it, son?"

The weak little voice tried to answer, but the words came only in gasps.
"Brother knows--about Jonesy--keep him from being a tramp! Please let
me, papa--do that much good--in my life 'else wherefore--born?'"

"What is it, Keith?" asked his father, bending over him. "Papa doesn't
exactly understand. But you can have anything you want, my boy.
Anything! I'll do whatever you ask."

"Malcolm knows," was the answer. Then the voice seemed somewhat
stronger for an instant, and a faint smile touched Keith's lips. "Give
my half of the bear to Ginger. Now--may I have--my--white--flower?"

Throwing back his coat, his father unpinned the little badge from his
vest, where he had fastened it for safe-keeping a short time before in
the library. A pleased expression flitted over the child's face, as he
saw where it had been resting, and when it was fastened in the front of
his little embroidered nightshirt, his hand closed over the pin as if it
were something very precious, and he were afraid of losing it again.

"Wearing the white flower," they heard him whisper, and then the little
knight slept.

* * * * *

It was hours afterward when he roused again,--hours when the faintest
noise had not been allowed in the house; when the servants had been sent
to the cottage, and Unc' Henry stationed at the front gate; that no one
might drive up the avenue.

Virginia, in a hammock on the veranda, scarcely dared draw a deep breath
till she heard the doctor coming down the stairs, just before dark.
Then she knew by his face that prayers and skill and tender nursing had
not been in vain, and that Keith would live.

* * * * *

So much can happen in a week. In the seven days that followed Keith
gradually grew strong enough to be propped up in bed a little while at a
time; Captain Dudley and his wife came home from Cuba, and Mr. Maclntyre
began to carry out the promise he had made to Keith that day when they
feared most he could not live.

The whole Valley rejoiced in the first and second happenings, and were
too much occupied in them to notice the third. Carriages rolled in and
out of the great entrance gate all day long, for Mrs. Dudley had always
been a favourite with the old neighbours, and they gave a warm welcome
to her and her gallant husband. Virginia followed her father and mother
about like a loving shadow, and Keith was so interested in the wonderful
stories they told of their Cuban experiences that he never noticed how
much his father and Malcolm were away from home. Sometimes they would
be gone all day together, consulting with the old professor, overseeing
carpenters, or making hasty trips to the city. Jonesy's home, that had
been so long only a beautiful air-castle, was rapidly taking shape in
wood and stone, and the painters would soon be at work on it.

Mr. Maclntyre had never been more surprised than he was when Malcolm
unfolded their plan to him. It did not seem possible that two children
could have thought of it all, and arranged every detail without the help
of some older head.

"It just grew," said Malcolm, in explanation. "First Keith said how
lovely it would have been if we had made enough money at the Benefit to
have bought a home for Jonesy in the country, where he could have a fair
chance to grow up a good man. Just a comfortable little cottage with a
garden, where he could be out-of-doors all the time, instead of in the
dirty city streets; then nobody could call him a 'child of the slums'
any more. Then we said it would be better if there were some fields back
of the garden, so that he could learn to be a farmer when he was older,
and have some way to make a living. We talked about it every night when
we went to bed, and kept putting a little more and a little more to it,
until it was as real to us as if we had truly seen such a place. There
were vines on the porches, and a big Newfoundland dog on the front
steps, and a cow and calf in the pasture, and a gentle old horse that
could plough and that Jonesy could ride to water.

"We told Ginger, and she thought of a lot more things; some little
speckled pigs in a pen and kittens in the hay-mow, and ducks on the
pond, and an orchard, and roses in the yard. She said we ought to call
the place 'Fairchance,' because that's what it would mean for Jonesy and
Barney (you know we would send for Barney first thing we did, of
course), and it was Ginger who first thought of getting some nice man
and his wife to take care of the boys. She said there are plenty of
people who would be glad to do it, just for the sake of having such a
good home. Ginger said if we could do all that, and keep Jonesy and his
brother from growing up to be tramps like the man we bought the bear
from, it would be serving our country just as much as if we went to war
and fought for it. Ginger is a crank about being a patriot. You ought
to hear her talk about it. And Aunt Allison said that 'an ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure,' and that to build such a place as
our 'Fairchance' would be a deed worthy of any true knight."

"How are you expecting to bring this wonderful thing to pass?" asked his
father, as Malcolm stopped to take breath. "Do you expect to wave a wand
and see it spring up out of the earth?"

"Of course not, papa!" said Malcolm, a little provoked by his father's
teasing smile. "We were going to ask you to let us take the money that
grandfather left us in his will. We won't need it when we are grown, for
we can earn plenty ourselves then, and it seems too bad to have it laid
away doing nobody any good, when we need it so much now to right this
wrong of Jonesy's."

"But it is not laid away," answered Mr. MacIntyre. "It is invested in
such a way that it is earning you more money every year; and more than
that, it was left in trust for you, so that it cannot be touched until
you are twenty-one."

"Oh, papa!" cried Malcolm, bitterly disappointed. He had hard work to
keep back the tears for a moment; then a happy thought made his face
brighten. "You could lend us the money, and we would pay you back when
we are of age. You know you promised Keith you would do anything he
wanted, and that is what he was trying to ask for?"

Mr. Maclntyre put his arm around the earnest little fellow, and drew him
to his knee, smiling down into the upturned face that waited eagerly for
his answer.

"I only asked that to hear what you would say, my son," was the answer.
"You need have no worry about the money. I'll keep my promise to Keith,
and Jonesy shall have his home. I'm not a knight, but I'm proud to be
the father of two such valiant champions. Please God, you'll not be
alone in your battles after this, to right the world's wrongs. I'll be
your faithful squire, or, as we'd say in these days, a sort of silent
partner in the enterprise."

Several days after this a deed was recorded in the county court-house,
conveying a large piece of property from old Colonel Lloyd to Malcolm
and Keith Maclntyre. It was the place adjoining "The Locusts," on which
stood a fine old homestead that had been vacant for several years. The
day after its purchase a force of carpenters and painters were set to
work, and two coloured men began clearing out the tangle of bushes in
the long-neglected garden.

Jonesy know nothing of what was going on, and wondered at the long
conversations which took place between the old professor and Mr.
Maclntyre, always in German. It was the professor who found some one to
take care of the home, as Virginia had suggested. He recommended a
countryman of his, Carl Sudsberger, who had long been a teacher like
himself. He was a gentle old soul who loved children and understood
them, and a more motherly creature than his wife could not well be
imagined. Everything throve under her thrifty management, and she had no
patience with laziness or waste. Any boy in whose bringing up she had a
hand would be able to make his way in the world when the time came
for it.

Mrs. Dudley and Miss Allison helped choose the furnishings, but Virginia
felt that the pleasure of it was all hers, for she was taken to the city
every time they went, and allowed a voice in everything. Several trips
were necessary before the house was complete, but by the last week in
May it was ready from attic to cellar.

It was the "Fairchance" that the boys had planned so long, with its
rose-bordered paths, the orchard and garden and outlying fields. Nothing
had been forgotten, from the big Newfoundland dog on the doorstep, to
the ducks on the pond, and the little speckled pigs in the pen. The day
that Keith was able to walk down-stairs for the first time, Mr.
Maclntyre went to Chicago, taking Jonesy with him, to find Barney and
bring him back. He was gone several days, and when he returned there
were three boys with him instead of two: Jonesy, Barney, and a little
fellow about five years old, still in dresses.

Malcolm met them at the train, and eyed the small newcomer with
curiosity. "It is a little chap that Barney had taken under his wing,"
explained Mr. Maclntyre. "Its mother was dead, and I found it was
entirely dependent on Barney for support. They slept together in the
same cellar, and shared whatever he happened to earn, just as Jonesy
did. I hadn't the heart to leave him behind, although I didn't relish
the idea of travelling with such a kindergarten. Would you believe it,
Dodds (that's the little fellow's name) _never saw a tree in his life_
until yesterday? He had never been out of the slums where he was born,
not even to the avenues of the city where he could have seen them. It
was too far for him to walk alone, and street-cars were out of the
question for him,--as much out of reach of his empty pockets as
the moon."

"Never saw a tree!" echoed Malcolm, with a thrill of horror in his voice
that a life could be so bare in its knowledge of beauty. "Oh, papa, how
much 'Fairchance' will mean to him, then! Oh, I'm so glad, and
Keith--why, Keith will want to stand on his head!"

They drove directly to the new place. It was late in the afternoon, and
the sunshine threw long, waving shadows across the yard. Mrs. Sudsberger
sat on the front porch knitting. A warm breeze blowing in from the
garden stirred the white window curtains behind her with soft
flutterings. The coloured woman in the kitchen was singing as she moved
around preparing supper, and her voice floated cheerily around the
corner of the house:

"Swing low, sweet chariot, comin' fer to carry me home,
Swing low, sweet char-i-_ot_, comin' fer to carry me home!"

A Jersey cow lowed at the pasture bars, and from away over in the
woodland came the cooing of a dove. Three little waifs had found
a home.

Mr. Maclntyre looked from the commonplace countenances of the boys
climbing out of the carriage to Malcolm's noble face. "It is a doubtful
experiment," he said to himself. "They may never amount to anything, but
at least they shall have a chance to see what clean, honest, country
living can do for them." And then there swept across his heart, with a
warm, generous rush, the impulse to do as much for every other
unfortunate child he could reach, whose only heritage is the poverty and
crime of city slums. He had seen so much in that one short visit. The
misery of it haunted him, and it was with a happiness as boyish and keen
as Malcolm's that he led these children he had rescued into the home
that was to be theirs henceforth.

Keith did not see "Fairchance" until Memorial Day. Then they took him
over in the carriage in the afternoon, and showed him every nook and
corner of the place. There were six boys there now, for room had been
made for two little fellows from Louisville, whom Mr. Maclntyre had
found at the Newsboys' Home. "I've no doubt but that there'll always be
more coming," he said to Mr. Sudsberger, with a smile, as he led them
in. "When you once let a little water trickle through the dyke, the
whole sea is apt to come pouring in."

"Happy the heart that is swept with such high tides," answered the old
German. "It is left the richer by such floods."

Several families in the Valley were invited to come late in the
afternoon to a flag-raising. The great silk flag was Virginia's gift,
and Captain Dudley made the presentation speech. He wore his uniform in
honour of the occasion. This was a part of what he said:

"This Memorial Day, throughout this wide-spread land of ours, over every
mound that marks a soldier's dust, some hand is stretched to drop a
flower in tender tribute. Over her heroic dead a grateful country
wreathes the red of her roses, the white of her lilies, and the blue of
her forget-me-nots, repeating even in the sweet syllables of the flowers
the symbol of her patriotism,--the red, white, and blue of her
war-stained banner.

"My friends, I have followed the old flag into more than one battle. I
have seen men charge after it through blinding smoke and hail of
bullets, and I have seen them die for it. No one feels more deeply than
I what a glorious thing it is to die for one's country, but I want to
say to these little lads looking up at this great flag fluttering over
us, that it is not half so noble, half so brave, as to live for it, to
give yourselves in untiring, every-day living to your country's good. To
'let _all_ the ends thou aim'st at be thy country's, thy God's, and
truth's.' I would rather have that said of me, that I did that, than to
be the greatest general of my day. I would rather be the founder of
homes like this one than to manoeuvre successfully the greatest battles.

"May the 'Two Little Knights of Kentucky' go on, out through the land,
carrying their motto with them, until the last wrong is righted, and
wherever the old flag floats a 'fair chance' may be found for every one
that lives beneath it. And may these Stars and Stripes, as they rise and
fall on the winds of this peaceful valley, whisper continuously that
same motto, until its lessons of truth and purity and unselfish service
have been blazoned on the hearts of every boy who calls this home. May
it help to make him a true knight in his country's cause."

There was music after that, and then old Colonel Lloyd made a speech,
and Virginia and the Little Colonel gathered roses out of the old
garden, so that every one could wear a bunch. A little later they had
supper on the lawn, picnic fashion, and then drove home in the cool of
the evening, when all the meadows were full of soft flashings from the
fairy torches of a million fireflies.

With Keith safely covered up in a hammock, they lingered on the porch
long after the stars came out, and the dew lay heavy on the roses. They
were building other air-castles now, to be rebuilt some day, as Jonesy's
home had been; only these were still larger and better. The older people
were planning, too, and all the good that grew out of that quiet evening
talk can never be known until that day comes when the King shall read
all the names in his Hall of the Shields.

"It has been such a beautiful day," said Virginia, leaning her head
happily against her mother's shoulder. Then she started up, suddenly
remembering something. "Oh, papa!" she cried, "let's end it as they do
at the fort, with the bugle-call. I'll run and get my old bugle, and you
play 'taps.'"

A few minutes later the silvery notes went floating out on the warm
night air, through all the peaceful valley; over the mounds in the
little churchyard, wreathed now with their fresh memorial roses; past
"The Locusts" where the Little Colonel lay a-dreaming. Over the woods
and fields they floated, until they reached the flag that kept its
fluttering vigil over "Fairchance."

Jonesy sat up in bed to listen. Many a reveille would sound before his
full awakening to all that the two little knights had made possible for
him, but the sweet, dim dream of the future that stole into his grateful
little heart was an earnest of what was in store for him. Then the
bugle-call, falling through the starlight like a benediction, closed the
happy day with its peaceful "Good night."


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