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Gates to Die.’ Dear me, yes! if ever a person could tell you–and Miss Bellflower, is it? Ah! she looks rugged, now; don’t she? and livin’ in the old Shannon house, too. ‘T is dretful onhealthy, they say, the Shannon house; but havin’ a rugged start, you see, you may weather it a consid’able time, dearie, and be a comfort to them as has you WHILE they has you. My Philena, her cheeks was just like yours, like two pinies. And where is she now? Ah! I’ve seen trouble, Miss Bellwether. Miss Grahame here can tell you of some of the trouble I’ve seen, though she don’t know not a quarter part of it.”

“Oh yes, Mrs. Lankton,” said Hildegarde, with what seemed to wondering Bell rather a scant measure of sympathy; “Miss Merryweather shall hear all about it, surely. But will you tell us now about the game, please? We want to know so very much!”

“To be sure, dearie! to be sure!” acquiesced Mrs. Lankton with alacrity. “‘T is a fine game, and anncient, as you may say. Why, my grandmother taught me to play ‘The Highland Gates’ when I was no bigger than you, Vesta Philbrook. Ah! many’s the time I played it with my sister Salome, and she died just about your age.”

“Well, Mrs. Lankton,” said Hildegarde, encouragingly.

“Well? oh, bless you! no, dearie! She was terrible sick! that was why she died. Oh, my, yes! She had dyspepsy right along, suffered everything with it, yet’twas croup that got her at last. Ah! there’s never any child knows when croup ‘ll get her; girl NOR boy!”

Hildegarde began to feel as if she must scream, or stamp her foot, or do some other impossible thing.

“Mrs. Lankton,” she said, gravely, “I am sure Auntie has the kettle on, and you will be the better for your tea, so will you not tell us as quickly as you can, please, about the game? The children are waiting, you see, to go on with their play.”

“Jest what I was going to say, dear,” cried Mrs. Lankton. “Let ’em play, I says, while they can, I says; for its soon enough they get the play squenched out of ’em, if you’ll excuse the expression, Miss Henfeather.”

At this apostrophe, delivered with mournful intensity, Bell retreated hastily behind a post of the veranda, and even Susan Aurora Bulger giggled faintly, with her apron in her mouth.

Hildegarde was silent, and tried the effect of gazing severely at the widow, apparently with some success, for after a pause of head-shaking, Mrs. Lankton continued:

“But as you was saying, dearie, about the game. Ye–es! Well, my grandmother, she was an anncient woman; some said she was ninety- seven, and more called it ninety-eight, but she didn’t rightly know herself, bein’ she had lost the family Bible. Burned up with the house it was, before she came from the Provinces, and some said it was because of starting a new fire in the cook-stove on Sunday; but I don’t want to set in judgment, not on my own flesh and blood, I do not, Miss Grahame. And I remember as if it was this day of time, she settin’ in her chair in the porch to our house, smokin’ her pipe, if you’ll excuse me ladies, bein’ an anncient woman, and I HAVE heard great ladies took their pipes in them times, but so it is. And she says to me, ‘Drusilly,’ she says, ‘Why don’t you play with Salome?’ and I says, ”Cause I ain’t got nothin’ to play.’ And she says, ‘Come here,’ she says, ‘and I’ll learn ye a game,’ she says. So I called Salome, and we two stood there, and Gram’ther she taught us ‘The Highland Gates to Die.’ Salome, she had been feedin’ the hens, and when she come back she left the gate open, and they all got out and went and strayed into the woods, and my father got so mad we thought we should lose him, for sure. Purple he used to get when he was mad, same as a late cabbage, and an awful sight. Yes, children, be thankful if you’re learned to keep your tempers. So that’s all I know, Miss Grahame, my dear, and you’re welcome as air to it; and I do believe I see Mis’ Auntie lookin’ out the kitching winder this minute, so if you ‘ll excuse me, ladies, bein’ I feel a goneness inside, and if I should faint away, how your blessed mother would feel!”

CHAPTER VII.

IN GOOD GREEN WOOD.

They were in the Roseholme woods, all four girls,–Hildegarde, Bell, Gertrude and little Kitty. Kitty was only eight years old, but she liked good times as well as if she were sixteen, and when the sisters said “Come along, Kitty,” she had dropped her doll and flown like a bird to join them. Willy shouted after her, having designs on her in regard to tin soldiers; but for once Kitty was deaf to her Willy’s voice. Now she was as happy as a child could be, sitting in a nest of warm pine needles, playing at “partridge mother.”

The other girls sat near her, making oak wreaths and talking busily. Bell was telling of some college experiences.

“So we found we had not nearly green enough to trim the hall, and I volunteered to get some more, while the rest of the committee made the garlands. I had not far to go, only to the grove, about a mile beyond the campus; but it was growing dark, so I hurried as much as I could. I ran across Professor Thunder’s yard, as that cut off nearly half the distance, and there my fate found me. Oh, dear! Hildegarde, you will never guess what I did.”

“Nothing, I am sure,” said Hildegarde, gravely, “that was not consistent with dignity and decorum. The college maiden is an awful person, I have always understood.”

“You shall judge!” said Bell. “Remember that I was alone, with none to help me carry the boughs; that I was late, it being then six o’clock, and the dance beginning at eight. I had to get the greens, help put them up, get my supper, dress, and be there at eight to receive the juniors. And there–there, in the clear afternoon light on the lawn, stood the professor’s wheelbarrow, saying as plainly as a wheelbarrow can, ‘You’d better take me along to bring the things home in.’ Could I resist that mute appeal? I could not. I saw, I took, I trundled! The thing went of its own accord, I believe; certainly I never before made such good time to the grove. Once there, it was a matter of only a few minutes to strip the boughs and fill the friendly barrow. But, oh! I filled it not wisely, but too well. It was all so green and pleasant, and the smell of the trees was so delightful, that I did not know when to stop. Soon the barrow was heaped high with all manner of pleasantness, and I started to return. Well, my dear, then the trouble began. In the first place, full barrows are different from empty ones. It was very heavy, and the boughs kept slipping this way, and sliding that way, and tumbling down every third second. I got cross–oh, so cross! and presently I passed the janitor’s son, lounging along homeward, and he grinned, being an oaf, and said, ‘Better let me help ye, hadn’t ye?’ Oh, no! he didn’t mean to be rude, he really meant to help; but my blood was up, and my hair was down, and I was very short with him, I fear, and trundled off alone with my dignity. Then a branch fell out and got tangled in the wheel, and while I was getting it out a twig snapped into my eyes; and there was a stone in my shoe, and altogether,–well, it was only a mile to the grove, but it was twenty miles back, I can tell you. Before I reached the campus my arms were so sore, and my foot so lame, and my eye so painful, that my pride ran out at the heels of my boots, like the gunpowder. I was going pretty slowly, so as to keep the boughs from tumbling out more than was absolutely necessary,–and I heard the boy lumbering up behind me again. So, without turning round, I said, ‘You SHALL help me now, if you please!’ and–and–oh, Hildegarde! a deep voice answered, ‘I shall be charmed to do so!’ and I looked up and saw Professor Thunder!”

“Oh, Bell! oh, poor thing!” cried Hildegarde. “What did you do?”

“Do?” replied Bell. “I didn’t do anything. He took the handles from me,–his own handles, mind you, of his own barrow,–and trundled it solemnly along. I was struggling with hysterics. I am not in the least hysterical by nature, but the combination–the professor taken for a lout and commanded to trundle his own barrow, stolen by a sophomore, the twig in my eye and the stone in my foot–was too much for me. Besides, there seemed nothing in particular to say. I could not begin ‘Please, sir, I thought you were the janitor’s boy!’ nor did ‘Please Professor Thunder, this is your wheelbarrow, which I have stolen,’ seem exactly a happy opening for a conversation. So we went on in silence, and when the branches tumbled off, I picked them up without a word. How could I be such a dumb idiot? Don’t ask me! If it had been any other professor I might have found courage to speak; but Jupiter Tonans was my terror and my hero; I sat at his feet, and the roll of his deep voice was music to my sophomoric ears. I had never spoken to him out of class, but only that morning he had praised my translation, he who seldom praised anything,–and now to come to this!

“At last, after about three hours of dreadful silence, he opened his lips and spoke: ‘The greens are for decorational purposes, I presume, Miss Merryweather?’ Oh, and I had hoped he would not remember who I was.

“‘Yes, sir,’ I said. ‘For the sophomore reception this evening.’

“‘Ah!’ he said, ‘in that case, it will be well for us to hasten.’

“Silence again, while we quickened our pace, making the branches fall off more than ever. Then–‘The wheelbarrow,’ said the professor, ‘amazes us by its combined simplicity and perfection. The conception of a man of universal genius and vast erudition,–I allude to Leonardo da Vinci, the marvellous Florentine,–it has for upwards of three hundred years served mankind as a humble but valued ally. In every rank of life it finds its place. This barrow, for example–‘

“My heart came into my mouth. ‘Professor Thunder,’ I said, ‘this is your wheelbarrow. I came across your lawn, and saw it standing there, and–I took it.’

“‘Yes, my child,’ he said, ‘I saw you take it.'”

“Oh, oh!” moaned the two girls. “Poor Bell! oh, poor Bell!”

“Then I broke down and cried, and told him all about it, and how I had taken him for the janitor’s boy, and all. Girls, he was perfectly angelic! He made me sit down on the bank to rest, and talked to me, oh, so kindly! and was glad I had taken the barrow, and all. And–it is too dreadful to tell, but–I had dropped my handkerchief, and he gave me his, about three square yards of finest cambric,–I shall never smell orris again without thinking of that moment,–and said–you won’t think me vain to repeat this, Hildegarde?–said that he could not have his best pupil spoil her eyes, as it would interfere with her Greek. And then we came to the campus, and the girls standing in the door of the Gym saw Professor Thunder wheeling the wheelbarrow fall of greens, and me walking meekly by his side. I shall never forget their faces; one moment, and then they turned and fled. It was base, but I could not blame them; the sight was not one to induce composure, as the Professor himself would say. So I thanked him as well as I could for the dumbness and heat that were on me; and he took off his hat and made a grand bow, and then he shook hands–oh, so cordially! and begged to present me with the freedom of the wheelbarrow; and then he went away. There, Hildegarde! You wanted a college story, and you have had one.”

The girls laughed heartily at Bell’s adventures, and Hildegarde declared that she should never fear a college girl again, as it was evident that they were girls of like passions, getting into scrapes like their sisters.

While talking, the girls had been busily plaiting garlands of oak leaves, and now they proceeded to crown each other, and hang long wreaths on neck and arm.

“Hildegarde shall be the fairy queen,” said Gertrude “and we her attendant fays. Hail, Queen!”

“Oh yes, that is all very well for you!” said Bell; “you don’t weigh one hundred and thirty pounds. A fine sylph I should make! Hilda is perfect for the queen, however.”

Certainly Hilda did look very lovely, with the green chaplet crowning her fair locks, and the afternoon sunlight sifting through the leaves, checkering her white dress with light and shade. Roger Merryweather, coming through the wood in his quiet way, with his tin plant-box slung over his shoulder, thought he had never seen a fairer sight, and paused to enjoy it before announcing his presence to the girls. As he stood there, motionless, and screened by the broad leaves of a great chestnut- tree, a frightful scream was heard, a ferocious yell, which made the whole wood vibrate with horrid sound. The girls sprang to their feet in terror; little Kitty ran to Bell and hid in her gown, while the older girls with one accord turned at bay, ready to face they knew not what peril. Even Roger was startled for the moment, and was about to step hastily forward, when a second shriek rang out. He recognized the voice, and stood still, unwilling to spoil sport. And now from the thicket burst two wild forms, blanketed and feathered, uttering hideous yells, and brandishing glittering weapons over their heads. Kitty shrieked, but after one moment Bell burst into laughter.

“You imps!” she cried. “You wicked, wicked little wretches, to frighten us so! Kitty darling, it is the boys. Look up, darling! Don’t you see? It is our naughty, naughty boys, playing Indian. After them, Toots! after them, Hilda! We’ll give them a lesson they shall not forget.”

“Huh! huh!” shouted the Indians. “Big Chief Hop-toad! big Medicine-man Put-Squills-In-His-Tea! gobble up the white squaws for supper! Huh! huh!”

And now the quiet spectator saw a merry sight. The girls flew in pursuit, the boys fled before them. In and out of the trees, laughing, shrieking, they doubled and twisted. Hildegarde ran well, and Bell had not had two years of basket-ball for nothing. As for Gertrude, she was lithe and long-limbed as a young greyhound; but even so, they could not catch their tormentors.

The long gray legs twinkled like lightning over the ground. Phil paused from time to time to shout his warhoop, and Gerald, when he could find breath, chanted wild scraps of song, accompanied by frantic gestures:

“My tom, my tom, my tommy-hawk,
With thee I’ll make the pale-face squawk: With thee I’ll make them cry ‘Oh, lawk!’ My tom, my tom, my tommy-hawk.”

Circling round a great tree, he came full upon Hilda, flying in the other direction, and made a snatch at her green wreath.

“Pale-face squaw shall lose her hat, Medicine-man will see to that,”

he cried.

“Will he, indeed?” cried Hildegarde. “Catch me if you can, you odious redskin! I defy you in every withering term that a Cooper maiden ever invented!”

“Ho! if you are a Cooper maiden, you are nothing but a female!” said Gerald. “Aha! she turns, she flies! she feels the scalp a-wr- r-r-r-r-iggling on her head! she fears she’ll soon be a female dead! Ho, ho! Medicine-man! Big Injin! Ho!”

Flying breathless now, Hildegarde darted hither and thither, hiding under the leaves, dodging behind the tree trunks. Finally, seeing her foe pausing for an instant behind the bole of a huge nut-tree, she rushed upon him, and seizing him, shook him violently. Then she let go her hold and screamed, for it was not Gerald that she was shaking.

Roger Merryweather stepped forward, unable to keep from smiling at her face of horror. He felt a little “out of it,” perhaps, and twenty-four seemed a long way from seventeen; but he should not have watched the girls, he told himself with some severity, without letting them know he was there. Now this pretty child regarded him as a double eavesdropper and spy. But his apology was drowned in the shouts of the boys.

“Hi! here’s Roger! hurrah! Roger, Roger! my scientific codger, come and play Big Injin! The pale-faces are uncommonly game, but we shall have them all the same. Hi! there goes Dropsy!”

Indeed, at this moment Gertrude tripped over a tree root and fell headlong; as she fell she caught at Phil’s ankle, just as he was in the act of grasping Bell by the flying tail of her gown; another moment, and all three were on the ground together in a confused heap.

“Anybody hurt?” asked Roger, going to pick them up.

“Oh no!” said Bell, sitting up and shaking the pine needles from her hair. “Toots was underneath, and she makes a noble cushion. All right, Toots? and how do you come here, Professor?” The three fallen ones righted themselves, and sat up and panted; seeing which, the others came and sat down, too, and for a space no one spoke, for no one had any breath save Roger, and he was laughing.

“I have been botanizing,” he said at last. “I was coming quietly along, when suddenly Bedlam broke loose, and I have been standing by to go about ever since. No extra lunatics seemed to be needed, or I should have been charmed to assist.”

By this time Hildegarde had recovered her composure. It was her fate, she reflected, to run into people, and be found in trees, and be caught playing “Sally Waters;” she could not help her fate. But her hair was all down her back, and she could help that. She began to knot it up quietly, but Gerald raised a cry of protest.

“What, oh what is she doing that for? Don’t, Miss Hildegarde, please! I was just thinking how jolly it looked, let alone the chances for scalping.”

“Thank you!” said Hildegarde, as she wound up the long locks and fastened them securely. “I have no fancy for playing Absalom all the way home. Have you hurt your foot, Phil?” for Phil was rubbing his ankle vigorously, and looking rather uncomfortable.

“I stumbled over Dropsy’s nose,” he said, ruefully. “When she fell down, her nose reached all the way round the tree, and tripped me up. I wish you would keep your nose in curl-papers, Dropsy.”

Dropsy beat him affectionately, and helped rub his ankle. They were silent for a moment, being too comfortable to speak, each one thought to himself. The sunbeams flickered through the leaves; the pine needles, tossed into heaps by the hurrying feet, gave out their delicious fragrance; overhead the wind murmured low in the branches. It was a perfect time, and even Gerald felt the charm and was silent, throwing acorns at his sisters.

“Sing, Roger,” said Bell, at length, softly. “Sing ‘Robin Hood!'”

So Roger sang, in a noble baritone voice, that joyous song of the forest, and the woods rang to the chorus:

“So, though bold Robin’s gone,
Yet his heart lives on,
And we drink to him with three times three.”

CHAPTER VIII.

“HANDS ACROSS THE SEA.”

“Oh, how jolly you all look!” cried Hildegarde, peeping through the hedge. “Where are you going?”

The Merryweathers were going to ride; so much was evident. Five bicycles stood at the door, glittering in the sunlight; five riders were in the act of mounting, plainly bound on a pleasure- trip.

“Only for the mail, and a little spin after it,” cried Mr. Merryweather. “Wish you could come too, Miss Grahame. You will certainly have to get a wheel and join us. Nothing like it, I assure you.”

Bell and Gertrude, in trim short skirts and gaiters, sat already perched, ready for the start; and Phil and Gerald were putting a last touch to their shining metal-work.

Mrs. Merryweather came out on the steps, with Kitty by her side.

“Here are my letters, dear people,” she said. “And don’t forget the boots, please; they are very important.”

“May one inquire what boots?” asked Mr. Merryweather.

“I really have no idea!” replied his wife. “Somebody said at breakfast that you must be sure to remember the boots, and dwelt on their importance; therefore I mention them.”

“Ou, avez-vous procure ce chapeau?” inquired Gerald, politely.

“My dear Gerald, you know that I will not endure slang that is less than fifty years old.”

“It isn’t slang, Mother! At least it may be; but I want to know, because, really, you know, ma’am, when it comes to baskets–“

Mrs. Merryweather put up her hand, and removed her head-gear. “Dear me!” she said, “it is a basket, sure enough. That is very curious! Why–why then, I must have picked the raspberries into my hat.”

A shout of laughter, in which Mrs. Merryweather joined placidly, greeted this announcement. “I put plenty of green leaves in it,” she said; “it will be all right. But I sent it to the minister’s wife, and I fear she will be surprised. My dear Gertrude, have you learned your Latin lesson, that I see you starting off so freely?”

“Yes, mother,” said Gertrude, sadly. “I learned it, and it was a detestable lesson. I am SO tired of hearing that Titus Labienus was stationed on a hill!”

“I know!” chimed in Phil. “I remember when I was in Caesar, about forty years ago, and Titus Labby was on the hill then. It’s my belief he got stuck there, and was afraid to come down.”

“That is curious!” said Mrs. Merryweather, meditatively. “Always on a hill; why, so he is! That is rather interesting, don’t you think so?”

“With all respect, I do not!” said Mr. Merryweather. “I desire to depart. If Caesar had had a wheel, he would not have been so tedious.”

“Oh, jolly!” cried Gerald. “Caesar commanded to let scoot the legions through the morasses and bogges the bogs. Then came Vercingetorix on a ’91 Columbia, weighing seventy-three pounds, and said, ‘How in time am I to get up this hill?’ Then spake to him Caesar, and said these words,–Get out, you Ferguson!”

For Ferguson, swiftly departing, had launched a kick at his brother in passing, nearly sending him from his seat. Gerald whirled off in pursuit; the others followed more soberly, and the whole party disappeared round the curve of the road.

Hildegarde looked after them rather dolefully. A year ago a girl on a bicycle was a shocking thing to our heroine; she shook her little head severely, and said that nothing would induce her to mount one. Somehow her views had changed since she had seen the Merryweathers on theirs. She began to think that it would be uncommonly pleasant to go skimming along like a swallow, swooping down the hills and whirling along the levels. “The nearest approach to flying that this generation will see,” Mr. Merryweather called it, and Hilda inclined to think he was right. However–

“Remember that you are both coming over this morning,” called Mrs. Merryweather, cheerfully. “I mean this evening, of course, to tea. We will have some music. Kitty, my dear, we must go to our French.”

“Shall we bring our sewing out on the verandah, mammy?” asked Hilda, rousing herself from a little reverie. “Ah, you have the letters, sly one, and never told me!”

“I doubted if there was anything that would interest you, my love,” said Mrs. Grahame. “Yes; let us have our work, by all means. There are one or two business letters that I should like you to look over.”

Hilda smiled and departed, revolving the thought that she was a selfish and empty-headed wretch. She did not want to read business letters; she wanted to be on a wheel, flying over the smooth road, with the wind lifting her hair and breathing cool against her cheek. And here was her mother sitting alone, and the new tablecloths to hem, and–and altogether–“If you COULD tell me why they thought it worth while to keep you,” she said to herself, “I should be glad to know it. Perhaps you can tell me what P-I-G spells.”

Returning with the wide sewing basket, she found her mother looking over a pile of letters. “It is high time,” said Mrs. Grahame, “that you began to take some interest in business matters.” Hildegarde wondered what was coming; her mother looked very grave; she held in her hand a square grey envelope. “I shall be greatly obliged, therefore, my dear,” her mother continued, with the same portentous gravity, “if–you would–read that”; and she gave the letter to Hildegarde.

“Oh, mamma! you wicked, wicked deceiver! You frightened me almost to death; and it is from Jack, dear old Jack. Oh, how delightful! You pleasant person, Mrs. Grahame; I forgive you, though my heart still throbs with terror. Are you all comfortable, my own? Your little feet all tucked up beneath your petticoat, so that they cannot steal in and out? Don’t you want a glass of milk, or a cracker, or a saddle of mutton, or anything else? Then be silent! and oh, how happy we shall be!” Hildegarde settled herself in her chair, sighed with pleasure, and broke the seal of the fat letter.

“DEAR HILDA: It seems an age since I last wrote, but there is so much going on I have hardly time to breathe. There have been some awfully jolly concerts this spring, and I have been going to them, and practising four hours a day, and having lessons and all that. Herr J. played at the last two concerts, and I know what heaven is like–my heaven, at least–since I heard him. He played–“

Here followed an accurate list of the great violinist’s performances, covering three sheets of note-paper.

“It isn’t the technique and all that, though of course he is the first in the world for that and everything else; it’s the sense, the heart that he puts into it. In that adagio–well, I played it to you once, like the cheeky little duffer I was, and felt pleased as Punch with myself, and no end cocked up because you liked it. Hilda, I ought to have been taken out and shot for daring to touch it! When the maestro (they call him maestro here, so you mustn’t think me Frenchified), when he played it, the world seemed just to melt away, and nothing left but a voice, that sang, and sang, and told you more than you ever dreamed of in all your life before. I wish I could describe things, but you know I can’t, so you won’t expect it. But one thing I will tell you, if you’ll promise not to tell any living soul–“

“Stop, my dear!” said Mrs. Grahame, quickly. “We must not touch upon the boy’s confidences. Head that part to yourself.”

“Thank you, ma’am!” said Hilda. “This mark of trust is most gratifying, I assure you. ‘Not tell any living soul except your mother, dear.’ Now how do you feel, madam?”

“Dear Jack!” said Mrs. Grahame, softly. “Dear lad! of course I shall like to hear it. Go on, Hilda, and I promise not to interrupt again.”

“The day after the last concert–it was only day before yesterday, but it seems an age–I went to take my lesson, and my master was not there. He is often late, so I just took out some music and began to play over the things I had studied. There was a sonata of Rubinstein’s, very splendid, that has quite possessed me lately. I played that, and I suppose I forgot where I was and all about it, for I went on and on, never hearing a sound except just the music. You must hear it when I come back, Hilda. It begins in the minor, and then there is the most superb sweep up into the major; your heart seems to sweep up with it, and you find yourself in another world, where everything is divine harmony. I’m talking nonsense, I know, but that piece just sends me off my head altogether. Well, at last I finished it and came down from the clouds, and when I turned around, Hilda, there was the maestro himself, standing and listening. Well! you can’t go through the floor and all that sort of thing, as they do in the fairy-books, but I did wish I was a mouse, or a flea, or anything smaller that there is. He stood still a minute. Perhaps he was afraid I would behave like some asses the other day–they weren’t Americans, I am happy to say– who met him, and went down on their knees in the hotel entry, and took bits of mud from his shoes for a keepsake; they truly did, the horrid pigs! And he just said ‘Dummkopfer!’ and went off and left them kneeling there. Wasn’t that jolly? Well, I say, he might have thought I would act like that, and yet I don’t believe he did, for he had the kindest, friendliest look on his face. He came forward and held out his hand, and said, ‘So you play the great sonata, my son; and love it, too, I perceive.’

“I don’t know exactly what I said,–some rubbish about how much I cared for it; but I stammered mostly, and got all kinds of colours. I guess you can tell pretty much how I behaved, though I really am getting to be not quite so much of a muff. Anyhow, he seemed to understand, and nodded, and said, ‘Give me now the violin, for there are things you understand not yet in the piece.’

“Oh, Hilda! he took my violin in his own hands, and played for me. Think of it! the greatest master in the world, all alone with me there, and playing like–like–well, I don’t know how to say what I mean, so you’ll have to imagine it for yourself. He went all through it, stopping once in a while to explain to me, and to describe this or that shade of expression or turn of the wrist. It was the most splendid lesson any one ever had, I believe. But that is not the best, and I hardly like to tell even you the rest. You may think I am just bluffing, and anyhow,–but it is the truth, so–well, after about half an hour my master came in, and of course he was delighted, and highly honoured, and bowing and scraping and all. But the maestro came and put his hand on my shoulder, and said, ‘Friend, will you give me up this pupil, hein?’

“I don’t mind if you don’t believe it; I didn’t myself, but thought I was asleep and dreaming it all. ‘I will give you in exchange two others,’ he said. ‘The fat English lady has shortness of breath, and cannot keep my hours of work, and the young Russian makes eyes at me, which is not to be endured. Will you take them, both very rich, and give me in exchange this child?’

“Of course there is only one answer, you know; it is like when a king asks for anything. And besides, Herr Geiger is so good and kind, he was really perfectly delighted at my having the great chance,–the chance of a lifetime. So I am going this afternoon to take my first regular lesson from the great master of the world, and I don’t deserve it, Hilda, and I wonder why everything is done so for me, and such happiness given to a fellow like me, when there are hundreds of other fellows who deserve it a great deal more. I know what you and your mother would say, and I do feel it, and I am thankful, I truly think, with all my heart, and I hope I shall be a better fellow in every way, and try to make some return. I couldn’t go without telling you. Of course I wrote a line to the governor first. He will be so happy! And of course if it hadn’t been for him, I never should have had any music, or any violin, or anything; and without you and your mother, Hilda, I never should have come here, that is certain. So I don’t see very clear, sometimes, when I think about you and him.

“Time for the lesson now. Good-bye! I am the happiest fellow in the world! Best love to your mother, and uncle–no! shall write to him by this mail.

“Always your affectionate

“JACK.

“P.S. Lesson glorious! he is really the greatest man in the world, I don’t care who the next is. I didn’t thank you for your last letter. Of course I felt for a minute as if my gas-balloon had bust, when you told me that the lovely Rose was going to marry Dr. Flower; but I guess it is all right. You see, she must be very sweet and all that; but after all, I never saw her, and you say she has no ear for music, and I am afraid that would have been a pretty bad thing, don’t you think so yourself? So I guess it is all right, and I am as jolly as a coot. Awfully jolly about the new neighbours turning out such bricks. Do any of them play or sing? JACK.

“P.P.S. I fought my first duel yesterday, with a chap who slanged the U. S. I got a cut on my left arm, but then, I cut a little slice off his ear, so I was all right. J.”

“Dear me!” exclaimed Mrs. Grahame; “a duel! The naughty, naughty boy! Those student duels are not apt to be serious affairs nowadays, I believe, but still it seems a dreadful thing. What will the Colonel say when he hears it?”

“He will very likely be pleased as Punch, as Jack says,” rejoined Hildegarde. “To have his milksop fight a duel would probably seem to him a very encouraging thing. And of course, mammina, it isn’t like a real, dreadful duel, is it? I mean, it is more a kind of horrid bear-play? But oh, to think of our Jack cutting off a piece of a man’s ear! It almost spoils the beautiful other part of it. No, nothing can spoil that. Dear, delightful, stupid, glorious old Jack! I always knew he had genius. When shall we see the Colonel?”

“Possibly to-night, at the Merryweathers’,” said her mother. “These pleasant little tea-parties seem to take in all our little circle. See! there come the riders back again, Gerald and Phil racing, as usual. Hear them shout! Certainly, never a family was better named.”

Hildegarde came up behind her mother, and put her arms lightly round her neck.

“I prefer my pea!” she said. And the two women laughed and kissed each other and went on with their work.

CHAPTER IX.

MERRY WEATHER INDOORS.

It rained that evening, so the plans for tennis were brought to naught; but the evening was cheerful enough, in spite of the pouring rain outside. The wide, book-strewn parlour of Pumpkin House was bright with many lamps, and twinkling with laughing faces of boys and girls. Mr. Merryweather, cheerfully resigned to “company,” possessed his soul and his pipe (being duly assured that Mrs. Grahame liked the smell of tobacco), and the Colonel puffed his cigar beside him. A little fire crackled on the hearth, “just for society,” Mrs. Merryweather said, and most of the windows were wide open, making the air fresh and sweet with the fragrance of wet vines and flowers. The two ladies were deep in household matters, each finding it very pleasant to have a companion of her own age, though each reflecting that the children were much better company in the long run. The children themselves were playing games, with gusts of laughter and little shrieks and shouts of glee. They had had “Horned Lady,” and Willy’s head was a forest of paper horns, skilfully twisted. Hugh had just gone triumphantly through the whole list, “a sneezing elephant, a punch in the head, a rag, a tatter, a good report, a bad report, a cracked saucepan, a fuzzy tree-toad, a rat-catcher, a well-greaved Greek, etc., etc., etc.

“There are no thoughts in this game, beloved,” said the child when he had finished, turning to Hildegarde. “My head turns round, but it is empty inside.”

“Good for Hugh!” cried Phil. “Just the same with me, Hugh. It makes me feel all fuzzy inside my head, like the tree-toad.”

“You ARE like a tree-toad!” said Gerald. “That is the resemblance that has haunted me, and I could not make it out, because as a rule tree-toads are not fuzzy. I thank thee, Jew–I mean Hugh–for teaching me that word. My brother, the tree-toad! Every one will know whom I mean.”

“Just as they know you as the ‘one as is a little wantin’,” retorted Phil. “Just think, Miss Hilda, Jerry and I spent a week together at a house at Pemaquid, and Jerry left his sponge behind him when he came away. Well, and when the captain of the tug brought it over to the island where the rest of us were, he said one of the boys had left it, the one as was a little wantin’. And he said it was a pity about him, and asked if there warn’t nothin’ they could do for his wits.”

“That was because he heard me reciting my Greek cram to the cow,” said Gerald. “Most responsive animal I ever saw, that cow, and mooed in purest Attic every time I twisted her tail. And how about the pitch-kettle, my gentle shepherd? Was I ever seen, I ask the assembled family,–WAS I ever seen with a pitch-kettle on my head instead of a hat?”

“Oh, Hilda!” exclaimed Bell; “you ought to have seen Phil. He had been pitching the canoe,–this was ever so long ago, of course,– and he thought it would be great fun to put the pitch-kettle on his head. He thought it was quite dry, you see. So he did, and went round with it for a little, so pleased and amused; and then he saw some ladies coming, and tried to take it off, and it wouldn’t come. Oh dear! how we did laugh!”

“Yes, Miss Hilda, I should think they did!” cried Phil, indignantly. “Sat there and chuckled like great apes, instead of helping a fellow. And I had to crawl under barrels for about half a mile, so that those people wouldn’t see me.”

“Poor Phil!” cried compassionate Hildegarde. “And did you get it off at last?”

“First we tried butter,” he said, “but that wouldn’t stir it. Then they gave me a bath of sweet oil, and put flour in my hair, and hot water, and turtle soup, and I don’t know what not; and the more things they did, the faster the old thing stuck. So at last we had to call the Mater, and she took the scissors and cut it off.”

“Oh, meus oculus!” cried Gerald. “Do you remember how that kettle looked, with a fringe of hair all around it? Half his hyacinth bed on one fell kettle! He ought to have sung a ‘Lock-aber no more!'”

“And we ought to have sung ‘Philly, put the kettle on!'” cried Gertrude.

“Toots, don’t exhaust your brain!” said Gerald, gravely. “You may need it some time; there is no knowing. No knowing, but much nosing!” he added. “Could you move the principal part of your person, my child? It casts such a deep shadow that I cannot see myself think.”

“Will some one please tell me what is the matter with Gertrude’s nose?” asked Hildegarde, innocently. “You are always talking about it; it seems to me a very good nose indeed.”

“Dear Hilda!” exclaimed Gertrude; “what a nice girl you are!”

“That is just the point, Miss Hilda,” said Gerald. “It is an excellent nose. Take it as a nose, it has no equal in the country, we have been assured. If there is one thing this family is proud of, it is Gertrude’s nose. We may not be clever, or rich, or beautiful, but we can always fall back on the nose; there’s plenty of room on it for the whole family.”

“Why,” put in Phil, “the Pater has been offered a dollar a pound for that nose, and he wouldn’t look at it.”

“He couldn’t see it,” said Bell; “the nose was in the way.”

“Why, one day we had been in bathing,” said Phil, “and when we came back, Toots hung her nose out of the window to dry, and went to sleep and forgot it; and will you believe it? a fellow came along and climbed right up it, just like ‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair,’ you know. Ah! Oh, I say!”

At this outrage, Gertrude rose, and fell upon her brother tooth and nail. She was a powerful child, and at the shock of her onset, the seat of Phil’s chair gave way, and he “sat through” like little Silver-hair, and came suddenly to the floor, his head and legs sticking up helplessly through the empty frame. The young people were so overcome with laughter that no one could help him; but Roger, who had been hidden in a convenient corner with an absorbing monograph on trilobites that had just arrived by mail, came forward and pulled his brother out.

“Dear me!” exclaimed Mrs. Merryweather, looking up. “Philip, my dear, it is strange that none of you can remember not to sit in that chair.”

“What is the matter with the chair?” inquired Mr. Merryweather.

“The seat has been loose for a long time,” said his wife. “It always comes down when any one sits in it.”

“And could it not be mended?”

“Why, yes,” said Mrs. Merryweather, evidently receiving a new idea. “I suppose it might be mended, Miles. Do you know, I never thought of that! Certainly; it shall be mended. Bell, remind me to-morrow to get some glue. That is one of the set of chairs that came from my father’s house, you remember, Miles, and the seats were always loose. One night my mother had a party, and your Uncle Frederick went round before the people came, and set the seats forward in the frames, so that whoever sat down would go through at once. The governor of the State was the first to take his seat, and he went directly through to the floor, just as Phil did now. My father was excessively angry, and Frederick and I spent the next day in bed, but we thought it was worth the punishment.”

“These are improving reminiscences, my dear Miranda!” said Mr. Merryweather.

“Oh! but what do you think mamma did this morning?” cried Gertrude. “May I tell them, mamma? Do you mind?”

“Tell them, by all means, my dear,” said Mrs. Merryweather, cheerfully. “Did I do anything more foolish than usual? Oh, yes, I remember! I was measuring the whale-oil soap. Tell them, Gerty, if you think it would amuse them. I am not very useful,” she added, turning to Mrs. Grahame, “but I do seem to give a good deal of amusement, and that is a good thing.”

“Well,” said Gertrude, “you see, we had to squirt the roses, and mamma said she would make the whale-oil mixture for us, because it is such horrid stuff, and we had some errands to do first. So I came back after the errands, and she was measuring it out. Dear mamma! am I a wretch?”

“Not at all, my child,” said her mother. “I richly deserve to be exposed; besides, one can always serve to point a moral. You see, Mrs. Grahame, the receipt said, ‘half a pint of soap to a gallon of water! Now I had ten gallons of water, so I–tell what I was doing, cruel child.”

“She had the pint measure,” said Gerty, “and she was filling it half full and then pouring it into the water. She was going to do that ten times, you see; and I said, ‘Why don’t you fill it full, five times?’ Darling mamma, I AM a wretch!”

“Yes, you are,” cried Bell. “Poor mamma! dear mamma!”

The children all clustered round their mother, caressing her, and murmuring affectionate words. Mrs. Merryweather smiled in a happy, helpless way.

“I am a sad goose, good neighbours,” she said; “but they always bring me out right, somehow. There now, darlings, sit down, and be good. And, by the way, Gertrude, I am minded to heap a coal of fire on your head. Didn’t you tell me this morning that Titus Labienus was always on a hill, or something like that?”

“Yes,” said Gertrude. “So he is, and ever will remain so. Have you taken him down, dear mamma?”

“Not exactly!” said her mother. “But I have made a ballad about him, and I thought it might possibly amuse you all.”

An eager shout arose, and all the young people gathered in a circle round the good lady’s chair, while she read:–

“THE BALLAD OF TITUS LABIENUS.”

Now Titus Labienus
Was stationed on a hill;
He sacrificed to Janus,
Then stood up stark and still’
He stood and gazed before him,
The best part of a week;
Then, as if anguish tore him,
Did Labienus speak:

“Oh, hearken, mighty Caesar I
Oh, Caius Julius C.,
It really seems to me, sir,
Things aren’t as they should be. I’ve looked into the future,
I’ve gazed beyond the years,
And as I’m not a butcher,
My heart is wrung to tears.

“All Gaul it is divided
In parts one, two and three,
And bravely you and I did,
In Britain o’er the sea.
In savage wilds the Teuton
Has felt your hand of steel,
Proud Rome you’ve set your boot on, And ground it ‘neath your heel.

“But looking down the ages,
There springs into my ken
A land not in your pages,
A land of coming men.
I would that it were handier
‘Tis far across the sea:
‘Tis Yankeedoodledandia,
The land that is to be.

“A land of stately cities,
A land of peace and truth:
But oh! the thousand pities!
A land of weeping youth.
A land of school and college,
Where youths and maidens go
A-seeking after knowledge,
But seeking it in woe.

“I hear the young men groaning!
I see the maidens fair,
With sighs and bitter moaning,
Tearing their long, fair hair.
And through the smoke of Janus
Their cry comes sad and shrill, “Oh, Titus Labienus,
Come down from off that hill

“For centuries you’ve stood there,
And gazed upon the Swiss;
Yet never have withstood there
An enemy like this.
The misery of seeking,
The agony of doubt
Of who on earth is speaking,
And what ’tis all about.”

“Now he had planned an action,
And brought his forces round;
But–well, there rose a faction, And ran the thing aground.
And–their offence was heinous,
Yet Caesar had his will;
And Titus Labienus
Was stationed on a hill.

“‘Then the Helvetii rallied,
To save themselves from wrack,
And from the towns they sallied, And drove the Romans back.
The land was quite mounTAINous,
Yet they were put to flight;
And Titus Labienus
Was stationed on a height.

“‘Then himself advised them
Upon the rear to fall;
But Dumnorix surprised them,
And sounded a recall.
Quoth he, “The gods sustain us!
These ills we’ll still surmount!” And Titus Labienus
Was stationed on a mount.”

“Thus comes the cry to hand here
Across the western sea,
From Yankeedoodledandia,
The land that is to be.
My heart is wrung with sorrow;
Hot springs the pitying tear.
Pray, Julius C., to-morrow
Let me get down from here I

“Oh, send me to the valley!
Oh, send me to the town!
Bid me rebuff the sally,
Or cut the stragglers down;
Send me once more to battle
With Vercingetorix;
I’ll drive his Gallic cattle,
And stop his Gallic tricks.

“Oh! sooner shall my legion
Around my standard fall;
In grim Helvetic region,
Or in galumphing Gaul;
Sooner the foe enchain us,
Sooner our life-blood spill,
Than Titus Labienus
Stand longer on the hill!”

CHAPTER X.

A NEW LIFE.

“Bell,” said Hildegarde, “I really think I must be a cat in disguise.”

“What do you mean, dear?” inquired Bell, looking up from her dishpan.

“Why, I have had so many lives. This is the fifth, at the least computation. It is very extraordinary.”

Quiet Bell waited, seeing that more was coming. The two girls were sitting on the end of a wharf, in the sparkling clearness of a September morning. Before them stretched a great lake, a sheet of silver, dotted as far as the eye could see with green islands. Behind lay a pebbly beach, and farther up, nestled among a fringe of forest trees, stood a bark hut, with broad verandahs and overhanging eaves. Hildegarde looked up and around, her face shining with pleasure.

“They have all been so happy–the lives,” she said. “But this surely is the most beautiful to look at. You see,” here she turned again to her companion, “first I was a little girl, and then a big one, at home in New York; and a very singularly odious specimen of both I was.”

“Am I expected to believe this?” asked Bell, quietly.

“Oh yes! because I know, you see, and I remember just how detestable I was. Children are so sometimes, you know, even with the very best parents, and I certainly had those. Well, at last I grew so unbearable that I had to be sent away. Oh, you need not raise your eyebrows, my dear! It’s very nice of you, but you never saw me then. I don’t mean that I was sent to the Reform School; but my father and mother had to go to California, and I was not strong, so the journey was not thought best for me; and besides, dear mamma saw that if I was ever going to amount to anything I must be taken away from the fashionable school and the set of girls I was getting intimate with. I wasn’t intimate with mamma then; I didn’t want to be. The other girls were not, and I thought it would be silly; think of it, Bell! Well, I was sent, a forlorn and furious child (fifteen years old though, the same age as dear, sweet Gertrude), to my mother’s old nurse in the country,–a farmer’s wife, living on a small farm, twenty miles from a city. There, my dear, I first learned that there was a world outside the city of New York. I must tell you all about it some day,–the happy, blessed time I had with those dear people, and how I learned to know my own dearest ones while I was away from them. I buried that first Hildegarde, very dead, oh, very dead indeed! Then the next summer I went to a new world, and my Rose went with me. I have told you about her, and how sweet she is, and how ill she was, and now how she is going to marry the good doctor who cured her of her lameness. We spent the summer with Cousin Wealthy Bond, a cousin of my mother’s,–the loveliest old lady, living down in Maine. That was a very new world, Bell; and oh! I have a child there, a little boy, my Benny. At least, he is Cousin Wealthy’s Benny now, for she is bringing him up as her own, and loves him really as if he were; but I always think of him as partly mine, because Rose and I found him in the hospital where we used to go to carry flowers. He had been very ill, and we got Cousin Wealthy to let him come to her house to get well. And through, that, somehow, there came to be a little convalescent home for the children from the hospital,–oh, I must tell you that story too, some day, and it is called Joyous Gard. Yes, of course I named it, and I was there for a month this spring, before you came, and had the most enchanting time. I took Hugh with me, and the only trouble was that Benny was madly jealous of him, and gave him no peace. Poor Benny! he is a dear, nice little boy, but not like Hugh, of course, and that exasperated him past belief. It was just like Lord Lardy and the waiter in the Bab Ballad, for Hugh was entirely unconscious, and would smile peacefully at Benny’s demonstrations of wrath, thinking it all a joke.

“Oh, I could talk all day about Benny and Cousin Wealthy, and nice, funny Mrs. Brett, and all of them. Well, then, two years ago came our trouble, you know. Dear papa died, and we came out here, feeling very strange and lost. It was sad at first, of course; but oh, we have had such peace and happiness together, my mother dear and I! The last year, when we had grown used to doing without the dear one, and knew–but mamma always knew it–that we must make happiness for each other,–the last year has been a most lovely time. But sweet and happy as it has all been, Bell, still I have always had a small circle to love and to be with. Mamma, bless her, and at one time one set of dear friends, and at another time another; never many people at once, and life peaceful and lovely, but one day pretty much like another, you see. But since you all came, I have been in a new world altogether,–a great, merry, laughing world, with such lots of children and fun–“

“And noise!” put in Bell. “We are a dreadfully noisy set, I fear.”

“Oh, noise is good,” cried Hildegarde, “such happy, healthy noise as this. I love it, though it did startle me at first. It seemed pleasant enough to have you all next door; but then came this last development,–Cousin Wealthy’s illness, and her sending for mamma, and your mother’s kindness in bringing me out to this delightful place. It is all like a fairy tale. I used to hear of people’s camping out, but I always thought I should hate it. Hate this!”

She looked up at the brilliant sky above her, and around at the shining lake, the dark trees drooping to the water’s edge, the green islands sleeping in the sunshine. “Oh, pleasant place!” she sighed.

They were silent for a few moments; Bell was scouring dishpans till they shone like silver, while Hildegarde thoughtfully wrung out the dishcloths that she had been washing as she talked.

“I suppose,” said Bell, slowly, “life is always good, when we want to make it so. There are so many different kinds of life,–I have known so many in the short time I have been alive, and it didn’t seem to make much difference about the outside of them. Some of the poorest and most suffering lives have been the happiest and blessedest, and again some that have money and health and everything that so many people sigh for, are miserable, for one reason or another. I can’t bear to hear girls say, ‘Oh, if I only had money! I would do so much, and be so good, and all that sort of thing.’ I always want to say, ‘Why don’t you begin with what you have?’ I did say it once to a girl, and she has hardly spoken to me since. She had been wishing that she had a hundred dollars to give to the Mission Society, and when I asked her for ten cents (I was the collector) she said she had only one dime, and she must get some soda water, or she should die.”

“The creature! what did you say to her?”

“I said, ‘Possibly the world would continue to revolve if you did!’ and stalked away. Oh, I cannot stand that sort of thing, you know! And if you are a girl, you can’t knock people down when they are cads.”

Bell spoke regretfully, and Hildegarde could not help laughing at her friend’s angry eyes and kindling cheek. The strong white bare arms, the deep chest and square shoulders, looked as if Bell would be no mean antagonist.

“I should not like to have you knock me down, my dear!” said Hilda.

“You never would need it,” said Bell. “But I can tell you, Hilda, there are times when I feel as if a blow from the shoulder would be the best argument in the world. I love fighting! and I think I am rather a bonny fighter, as Alan Breck says. Roger taught me to box.”

Hildegarde opened her eyes a little at this, boxing never having come within her horizon of feminine accomplishments.

“Does Professor Merryweather know how to do everything?” she asked. “He seems to be the Admirable Crichton come to life again.”

“Nearly everything,” said Bell, with judicious candour. “He cannot write verses, and he does not like dancing; those are the only things I can think of just now.”

A birch canoe glided silently round the point; Roger was kneeling in the stern, paddling, Indian fashion, while Will and Kitty were curled up like two kittens in the bow. Hildegarde thought to herself that he was the handsomest man she had ever seen, so strong, so gentle, so perfectly graceful; but she did not say so.

“What luck?” cried Bell, as the Cheemaun came alongside the wharf. Roger held up a string of gleaming fish, two of them long, deep- bodied fellows, striped with pink and silver. Willy was happy with three hideous horned pouts, which he declared were the best fish that swam.

“Oh, pickerel! how delightful!” cried Bell, as she took the beauties from her brother’s hands. “We will bake them for supper, Hilda; it is our turn, isn’t it?”

“Oh!” said Willy, “I thought it was Toots’ and Roger’s turn. Toots makes the best griddle-cakes, and she ought always to get supper.”

“Willy, you ungrateful little monster!” cried Bell. “And you said only last night that my biscuits were a dream of joy. You won’t find me baking an extra pan for you, if you are going to turn upon me in this way.”

“Oh yes! so you did, sister,” said Willy, penitently. “But you see, I am griddle-cake hungry to-day, and yesterday I wasn’t.”

“Come, Hilda! we’ll make our little gentleman pickerel-hungry before he is an hour older!” and the two girls hurried into the house.

Inside the camp was a large, low room, with a huge open fireplace filling nearly one side. A plain table stood in the middle; two hammocks were slung against the walls, which were hung with guns and fishing-rods. A bookcase in one corner, and Mrs. Merryweather’s workstand in another, completed the furniture of the primitive parlour. On one side a door opened into the tiny kitchen, and hither the girls now betook themselves, after reminding Will and Kitty that it was their turn to set the supper table. The fire was soon burning brightly in the stove, the kettle put on to boil, and Hildegarde, rolling up her sleeves, set to work mixing and moulding biscuits, while Bell devoted herself to the stuffing and dressing of the big fish.

“I wish I had Izaak Walton here!” she said, as she mixed the bread stuffing.

“Father Izaak pleasant company would be at any moment,” Hilda assented; “but what do you want him for just now? To cook the fish for you?”

“Not exactly; I doubt if he was as good in the kitchen as by the brookside; but to give me his famous receipt for cooking pickerel. I should like to astonish the family with it. I remember that it has thyme in it, and sweet marjoram and summer savory, not to mention oysters and anchovies, a pound of butter, a bottle of claret and three or four oranges; he gives you your choice about two cloves of garlic, and says you need not have them unless you like. Perhaps on the whole it is just as well not to try the dish at present; the anchovies were left behind, and the orange trees are not bearing very well this year.”

“Dear me!” said Hildegarde. “That is as bad as my Southern receipt for wedding cake. Two hundred and one pounds of flour and fruit, and ten eggs to the pound; and if it isn’t rich enough then, you can add two pounds of currants and one of raisins for each pound of flour. That would make,–let me see! I worked it all out once: two hundred and seventy pounds of things, and two thousand seven hundred eggs. What do you suppose they baked it in?”

“In the well!” said Bell. “That would hold it. Or else they built a pavilion round it, and had the bride and groom dance a minuet on the top after the ceremony. What fun cook-books are! Any more pleasantnesses in your Southern friend?”

“Oh, all kinds of good things! I remember the receipt for Seminole soup; we ought to try that out here, if we could find the ingredients. ‘Take a squirrel, cut it up and put it on to boil. When the soup is nearly done add to it one pint of picked hickory- nuts and a spoonful of parched and powdered sassafras leaves, or the tender top of a young pine tree, which gives a very aromatic flavour to the soup.'”

“Oh, do somebody get us a pine tree!” cried Bell. “That is truly delightful! We must try it some day. Now it is my turn. I quote from Mrs. Rundell the glorious. This is what she gives to the poor; I don’t want to be poor in Mrs. Rundell’s parish.

“‘Cut a very thick upper crust of bread, and put it into the pot where salt beef is boiling and near ready; it will attract some of the fat, and, when swelled out, will be no unpalatable dish to those who rarely taste meat.’ That is called a brewis, my dear; suppose we give it to our pampered family here some day, and see what they say. How nearly are your biscuits done? I hear the people growling inside, like hungry bears. Uncle Pickerel is beginning to smell very good.”

“Another five minutes will give them the requisite ‘beautiful light brown'” said Hildegarde, peeping into the oven. “And the tea is made, and the potatoes are tearing off their jackets in impatience to be eaten.”

“Are we going to have any supper?” asked Phil, looking in from the dining-room. “Roger has fainted with hunger, and lies a pallid heap on the floor, and Obadiah is gnawing his boots in his agony.”

“As long as he does not swallow the nails,” said Bell, calmly, “it will do him no harm. Have the babes got the table ready?”

“All ready, sister!” cried Kitty. “Cups and saucers and plates, and–oh, Willy, we have forgotten the butter! Why do we always forget the butter?”

In five minutes the whole family were seated round the table, with the lamp burning brightly above their heads. Bell came in triumphantly, bearing the mighty pickerel in their glory, on a huge platter decorated with green leaves and golden-rod. Hildegarde followed, flushed and sparkling, with her biscuits and coffee; and every one fell to with right good will.

“Why is it that everything tastes so good here?” demanded Will. “At home I can’t always eat as much as I want to, and here I can always eat more than there is; and yet there is lots!” he added, surveying the broad table, heaped with substantial victuals of every sort.

“Ah! that’s the beauty of it!” cried Gerald, spearing a potato. “The human capacity enlarges, my son, with every mile one retires from civilisation. When I was a Kickapoo Indian, Willy, I ate for three weeks without stopping, and I had three buffaloes at a–“

“Gerald, my dear!” said Mrs. Merryweather.

“Yes, Mater, my dear!” said the unblushing Gerald. “I was only trying to expand his mind, like the Ninkum. Excellent biscuits, Miss Hilda! three more, if you please.”

CHAPTER XI.

A NIGHT-PIECE.

It was clear moonlight when the girls went to bed; clear, that is, to Hildegarde’s unpractised eyes. She saw only the brilliant stars overhead, and took no note of the low bank of cloud in the south. Captain Roger (for Roger was in command at camp, Mr. Merryweather only coming out at night on his bicycle, and going in again to his business in the morning), after a critical survey of the sky, went the rounds in his quiet way before bedtime, making all secure, but said nothing to anybody. Going to bed was a matter of some labour at the camp. During the day the beds were piled one on top of another in the one bedroom, the blankets, after hanging in the air for two or three hours, being folded and laid over them. Only in the tent where Mr. and Mrs. Merryweather slept the beds remained stationary all day, the sides of the tent being rolled high, to let the air circulate in every direction.

When nine o’clock came, or ten, as the case might be, the order was given, “Bring out the beds!” Straightway the boys made broad their backs, and walked about like long-legged tortoises, distributing mattresses here and there. The three girls slept in the bedroom which opened off the living-room; the boys and Roger carried their beds into the second tent, or under the trees, or into the boat-house, as fancy suggested, and the wind favoured. Then blankets were unrolled, and the business of bed-making went on merrily.

As I said, it was clear moonlight when the girls went to bed; but somewhere in the middle of the night Hildegarde was waked by a rustle and a roar. Visions of lions ramped before her still- dreaming eyes; she shuddered awake, to find a gale raging round the camp. Outside was one continuous roar of waves on the shore, while overhead the wind clutched and tore at the branches, and shook the frail hut to its foundations. Hildegarde lay still and listened, with a luxurious sense of safety amid the wild tumult.

“But I am safe, and live at home!” she said softly. Then suddenly a thought came, like a cold hand laid on her heart, and she sat up in bed, her breath coming quickly.

“Bell!” she said, under breath, that she might not wake little Kitty, “Bell, wake up!”

“What is it?” asked Bell, turning drowsily on her side. “Not our turn to get breakfast, you know.”

“There is a storm! Hear it raging outside. Oh, Bell! the birch canoe! Can you remember whether we put her in the boat-house when we came in from paddling?”

Bell was wide awake now, and on her feet in an instant.

“We did not!” she said, searching frantically for her clothes. “My dear, we left her; don’t you remember? The boys were just cutting wood, and we thought we would wait till they finished, and then,– what a wretch I am! What IS happening to this skirt?”

“I am putting it on too,” said Hildegarde. “It is mine. Here is yours. Now a jacket; there, we are all right. Is any one sleeping on the piazza?”

“No, they all went up to the pine grove to-night, or last night, or whenever it was. Have you any idea what time it is? Carefully now, Hilda. I will open the door, and you must be ready to help me shut it.”

The two girls stepped out into the black night, and the wind clutched them. They were thrown violently against the wall of the hut, but contrived to shut the door and make it fast; then, bending low and holding by each other, they crept along toward the boat-house. The waves were dashing against the rocks, the spray flew in their faces, half blinding them; but it was not very dark, as there was a moon behind the clouds, and they could see their way dimly.

“Do you think we shall find her?” asked Hildegarde under her breath.

“I can’t hear!” shouted Bell.

“Do you think we shall find her?”

Hildegarde thought she was shrieking, but her friend only shook her head.

“That comes of asking stupid questions,” said Hildegarde to herself; and she lowered her head and fought her way on in silence.

Now, groping with their hands, they found the wall of the boathouse, and crept along in its lee, sheltered somewhat from the blast; but when they stepped out on the wharf, the wind seized them with such fury that Hildegarde tottered, staggered back a step, and felt the ground slip from under her. Another moment, and she would have been in the wild water; but Bell held her with a grasp of steel, and with one strong heave lifted her bodily to the wharf again. Then she shook her gently, “to bring back your nerve!” she shouted in explanation; and the next moment recoiled herself with a shriek that rang above the roar of wind and wave. Up from the wharf rose two forms, blacker than the blackness of night and storm, and confronted them. The two girls clung close together.

“What is it?” cried Bell, faintly.

Now Hildegarde was in mortal terror of the storm, but she did not fear anything that had human shape. “Who are you?” she asked, sternly. “What are you doing on this wharf?”

“We are playing on the jewsharp!” replied a familiar voice. “What are YOU doing, if it comes to that?”

“Oh, Jerry! oh, Phil! how could you frighten us so? We thought,–I don’t know what we didn’t think. We came to see if the canoe was safe. We forgot to see that you put her up after tea.”

“Just what we came for,” said Phil. “She isn’t here; I’m afraid she’s gone.”

The girls uttered a cry of dismay.

“Oh, it can’t be! Look in the boathouse, boys; it is possible–“

“It is highly possible,” said Jerry, “that she got up on end and walked in, as soon as she saw that the weather looked squally. She’s a very sensible boat, but weak in the legs, if you follow me. I think she’s gone; and a very pretty kettle of fish she makes to seethe two tender bodies in. I wouldn’t be us, Fergs, my boy, when the Cap’n finds it out to-morrow.”

“Wait,” said Hildegarde, “oh, wait! Don’t let us give up hope. It will do no harm to look, Jerry.”

“No harm in life,” said Jerry. “Just hold on to this wind, will you, while I get in.”

With some difficulty he opened the boat-house door; then, sheltered behind it, he struck a match, while all pressed eagerly forward. There in her place, high and dry, lay the birch canoe. Nobody said anything for a moment; the relief was too great. Hildegarde felt the tears come to her eyes, she could not tell why; but she found herself saying under her breath, “We might have known he would do it; he always takes care of everything.”

“Roger is a tedious person,” said Gerald, turning off his satisfaction with a laugh. “The amount of virtue that he staggers under is enough to swamp anybody. He will come to the gallows yet, you’ll see! Human nature must assert itself some time. Whew! there goes my head! Catch it, Bell, will you?”

“I am very, VERY hungry!” Phil announced with mournful emphasis. “It makes me starved to play this kind of game in the middle of the night. Can’t we have some food, to celebrate the safety of the Cheemaun?”

“Me, too!” cried Gerald. “I am dying, Egypt, dying! a corpse among the alders dank—“

“Oh, do stop, boys!” cried Bell. “I’ll push you off the wharf if you go on so.”

“Oh, wouldn’t us lorf, if she pushed us off the wharf!” cried Gerald.

“I am cross!” said Bell. “My hair is wound all round my neck, and I am half strangled. You boys think of nothing but eating from morning till night. But I am hungry myself, so come along!”

The four buffeted their way back to the house, and Phil climbed in at the pantry window and opened the kitchen door for the dripping party. They lighted a lantern, and judicious rummaging produced crackers and cheese, gingerbread, and some bottles of root beer. Merrily the four adventurers gathered round the table, dripping, rosy and breathless; the girls’ long locks hung down over their shoulders, the boys’ short curls were plastered close to their heads.

“We must be a lovely sight!” said Bell. “What a pity there is no one to see us! What do you want, Jerry?”

“I want raspberry jam, chiefly,” said Gerald, “but first I want to make a speech. I propose a sentiment. Pledging the assembled company in this beaker of rich wine–. Let go that bottle, Ferguson, or I’ll have your life! that’s my beaker, I tell you! There! now you’ve upset it. Attendez seulement bis ich dein tete abhaue!”

“Take the butter-dish,” said Bell. “That will do just as well.”

“I pledge the assembled company in this rich butter,” Gerald continued with dignity, “though it is not so comfortable to drink, and I propose, first, the confusion of Ferguson, who is a pettifogger and an armadillo, and, secondly, the health of our captain, Roger, the Codger, who saved the Cheemaun. Three cheers for the well-bred captain of the–“

“Thank you so much!” said Roger, looking in through the window. “Empty compliments are all very well, but I think I might have been asked to supper.”

He was hailed with a chorus of shouts, and stepping in through the window, drew up a stool and sat down by Hildegarde.

“What HAVE you been doing, children?” he asked, looking round at the four, who had now arrived at the smoking stage of dampness, each sending up his little pillar of cloud.

Four eager voices told him of the search and the finding, and he smiled quietly as he helped himself to jam.

“I wonder what you took me for!” he said, “I truly wonder. The boat went to bed at nine o’clock, with the rest of the children. I beg your pardon, Miss Grahame,” he added, turning to Hildegarde with his kind, grave smile, “for naming you in company with this lawless crew of mine.”

“Oh, please,” cried Hildegarde, “I like to–I wish I were–” She stammered, and felt herself blushing in the furious way that makes a girl the most helpless creature in the world. She would have given her hand, she thought, to keep back the tide that surged up over throat and cheek and brow. “When there is nothing earthly to blush about, ninny!” she almost cried aloud.

But Bell came to the rescue. “She wishes she were much wiser than the rest of us, Roger, but she doesn’t think she is, and I am really not so sure about it myself. That is the best part of her: she’s just a girl.”

“Just a girl!” said Roger, looking at Hildegarde; and he looked so kindly that poor Hildegarde blushed again.

CHAPTER XII.

A-SAILING WE WILL GO.

“Friends,” said Mrs. Merryweather, “the day is before us. What is the plan of action?”

“I go a-fishing,” said Roger; “and with me Willy, to take his first lesson in bass-fishing.”

“I tinker the wharf,” said Phil; “and with me Obadiah, to take his first lesson in useful occupation.”

“Verily and in good sooth,” put in Gerald, “the most useful occupation I can think of, my peripatetic food-absorber, would be to heave thee into the glassy deep.”

“Like to see you try it!” said Ferguson.

“Anything to oblige!” replied Obadiah, rising with, alacrity.

“Don’t booby, boys!” said Roger, with quiet authority. “Let other people have a chance to speak.”

“Hilda and I will make a pie!” said Bell; “‘which is werse,’ said Mr. Peggotty, ‘though sich were not my intentions.'”

“And I have gingerbread to make, and raspberries to pick,” said Gertrude, “so Kitty must help me.”

“But what do I see?” cried Gerald, in tragic tones. “A vessel in the offing, headed in this direction. Now who do you suppose has the cheek to come here?”

“Probably some lunatic is thirsty,” said Phil, “and wants a glass of water. You know, Miss Hilda, they come here by the boatload, asking for water, and we show them the lake and tell ’em to help themselves. It makes them hop with rage. They say, ‘What! do you drink THIS?’ Then, when we tell them that all their water supply comes from this lake, they grin like a dog and go about the city,- -I mean depart on their imbecile way. But these people are all dressed up. Oh, Momus and Comus! There are girls on board! Come on, Obadiah!”

The twins vanished, and the others looked curiously at the approaching craft. It was a small steam launch, gayly adorned with paint and streamers; in the bow stood a light, girlish figure, waving a handkerchief and gesticulating with fervour.

“Who can it be?” asked Mrs. Merryweather. “The boat is from Pollock’s Cove, isn’t it, Roger?”

“Yes; but I see no one on board that I know. That young lady evidently thinks she is coming among friends, however. Look! they are putting out a boat. I will go and see what is wanted.”

He went to the wharf, and the rest waited in some amusement, thinking that a mistake had been made. To their amazement they saw Roger, after a moment’s parley, help the young lady out of the boat, which straight-way returned to the launch; before they had time to exchange wonderments, she was advancing toward them with outstretched arms.

“My dearest, dearest Hildegarde! Do I see you again, after so many years? Quel plaisir! what joy!”

The young lady was dressed in the extreme of fashion, with little boots, and little gloves, and a dotted veil, and a chiffon parasol, and Hildegarde was folded in a perfumed embrace before she had fairly recognised her visitor.

“Madge!” she cried, “is it really you?”

“Myself, cherie! your own Madge. I heard that you were in the wilderness and flew to you. What a change, my dearest, from—“

“Mrs. Merryweather,” said Hildegarde, her cheeks burning, but her voice quiet and courteous, “this is Margaret Everton, an old school-mate of mine. Mrs. Merryweather, Madge, with whom I am staying. Miss Merryweather, Professor Merryweather, Miss Everton.”

“Oh, hum–mum-m-m-m-m-m!” said Madge, or something that sounded like it. The Merryweathers welcomed her courteously, and Mrs. Merryweather asked if she had come over from Pollock’s Cove.

“Oh, yes! I am staying there for a day or two. Some friends of mine are there, charming people, and I heard that Hildegarde was here, and of course I flew to see her. She is my oldest and dearest friend, Mrs. Merryweather.”

“Indeed!” said Mrs. Merryweather, with friendly interest.

“Yes, indeed. We were at school together, and like twins, except for the difference in colouring. Ah, les beaux jours d’enfance, Hilda, my love! And you are quite, quite unchanged since the happy days at Madame Haut Ton’s. ‘Queen Hildegarde’ we used to call her then, Miss Merryweather. Yes, indeed! she was the proudest, the most exclusive girl on Murray Hill. The little aristocratic turn of her head when she saw anything vulgar or common was quite too killing. Turn your head, Hilda, my love!”

Hildegarde coloured hotly. “Please don’t be absurd, Madge!” she said.

“Pray turn your head, Miss Grahame!” said Roger Merryweather, gravely. “I am sure it would interest us.”

Hildegarde shot an imploring glance at him, and turned in desperation to her visitor.

“It is a long time since I have heard from you, Madge,” she said. “I am sure you must have a great deal to tell me. If Mrs. Merryweather will excuse us, suppose we go for a little walk together.”

“Surely, my dear!” exclaimed Mrs. Merryweather, with perhaps unnecessary cordiality.

But Madge had made herself very comfortable on the verandah, and had no intention of stirring just yet. Go scrambling about over rocks, and tearing herself to pieces among bushes? Hardly. Besides, one glance had shown her that Professor Merryweather was uncommonly good-looking. She settled herself gracefully in her chair, and gave a pretty little sigh.

“Dear child, I am a wretched walker, alas! You know I never was strong, and this winter’s gaiety quite finished me. I am ordered to rest, positively, this summer, under the severest penalties. It was really a terrible winter in New York. Every one said it was a wonder the girls were not killed, they went such a pace. Do you never come over to Pollock’s Cove, Professor Merryweather? we had such a charming hop there last night; danced till two o’clock, with SUCH music! You must positively come over for the next one; we are to have them every week.”

Roger thanked her, but was not a dancing man, and hops were hardly in their line out here.

“Not a dancing man! What a confession, Professor Merryweather! But I am sure you really dance beautifully; doesn’t he, Hilda?”

“I don’t know!” said Hilda, laughing. “He has never asked me to dance, Madge.”

“Ah! you are quizzing me. I will never believe he could be so ungallant. But Hilda, I hear that really you live in positive seclusion, like a nun without a convent. My dear, how tragic, to pass your best years in this way! I told mamma that I should positively implore you to come to me this winter, and she said it was my DUTY. To think of YOU, Hilda, forswearing the world! It is too BIZARRE! But we have not forgotten our little queen on Murray Hill; no, no, dear!”

“You are mistaken, Madge,” said Hilda. “I was in New York for several weeks last winter, staying with Aunt Anna; but you were in Washington at the time.”

“Oh, but I heard of you!” cried Madge, archly. “I heard how the whole Hill was at Miss Grahame’s feet, and how Bobby Van Sittart nearly went into a decline because she would not smile on his suit. I heard–“

“I think you heard a great deal of nonsense, Madge!” said Hilda with some asperity. “Come! you would like to see something of the island before the steamer comes to take you back. I will get the canoe and take you for a paddle.”

Madge recoiled with a pretty shriek.

“Oh, horrors! Trust myself in a horrid tippy canoe, with a girl? Never, my dear! I value my life too highly, I assure you. But there is a sailboat! I dote on sailing, and I am sure Professor Merryweather is a superb sailor.”

Professor Merryweather rose with a smile, and would be charmed to take the young ladies out in the Keewaydin.

“Oh, but, Captain Roger, you were going out fishing!” cried Hildegarde, her cheeks crimson with mortification.

Roger looked at her with a twinkle. “The fishes are not expected to migrate just yet, and there is a good wind for sailing. Pray come, Miss Grahame!”

Madge was already on her feet, fluttering with coquetry; and Hildegarde, after a despairing glance at Mrs. Merryweather, saw that she could do nothing but lead the way to the wharf.

“Won’t you come, Bell?” she asked wistfully; but Bell was cruel, and said she must attend to her cooking; adding for the special edification of the stranger that she had the floor to scrub and the fish to clean. In silence Hildegarde walked down the wharf; she was thoroughly upset, and turning to look back to the house, it did not restore her composure to see Obadiah and Ferguson standing on their hands on the piazza, waving their feet in the air with every demonstration of frantic joy.

The little rowboat was unmoored, and a few quick strokes brought them alongside the Keewaydin. Hildegarde had never thought it could be anything but pleasure to her to board this beloved vessel, but she found herself now wishing that sailing had never been invented. She glanced timidly at Roger, but there was no expression in his face as he handed Madge on board, and replied gravely to her lively questions. Madge was treading on air. They had told her at Pollock’s Cove that she would not be able to get a word out of the handsome young professor; and here he was at her side, perhaps–who knew?–soon to be at her feet. A little absent- minded, to be sure, but they were often that way when a strong impression had been made. As for poor Hilda, it was really lamentable to see how utterly she had lost her savoir-faire, living in the wilderness. Here was this charming man, really with the bel air, and distinguished in some way or other, and she was as mute as a fish. Really, it was a charity to come and see her.

“Would you like to take the helm, Miss Hilda?” asked Roger.

Hilda thanked him with a glance, and took her place at the tiller in silence.

“Oh, Professor Merryweather! are you really going to trust us to Hilda’s steering? I am sure, now, you think girls are too ignorant to know anything about that sort of thing. I wonder at you! OUR lives may not be of much consequence, because, of course, we are only silly little girls, but to risk your own life so, really, I am surprised.”

She paused for the compliment that should follow, but Roger only said, “Bear away, please!” and loosened the sheet a little.

“Did your ears burn yesterday, Professor Merryweather? I am sure they must have. Everybody was talking about you at the hotel, and they said you had done something so remarkable,–something about a prism, wasn’t it? You remember, Hilda, all the prisms on the chandeliers at Madame Haut Ton’s! Do yours go on a chandelier, Professor Merryweather?”

“Not exactly!” said Roger. “You have a large party at Pollock’s, I believe, Miss Everton? I think I heard the Sinclairs say they were to be there this month.”

“Oh, aren’t the Sinclairs enchanting?” cried Madge, with effusion. “And isn’t Jack simply delicious? I danced with him ten times last night, and each dance was better than the last. Professor Merryweather, I shall give you no peace till you promise to come over for the next hop.”

“We are not to expect peace in this world, are we?” said Roger, smiling. “Steady, Miss Grahame! as you are!”

“I think nautical terms are too delicious!” cried Madge. “And that reminds me, Hilda, Grace Atherleigh has just come back from Europe. She has been away three years, you know; in Paris most of the time,–dear Paris! Don’t you adore it, Professor Merryweather? And she has brought back forty-three dresses. Yes, my dear, it is true, for I had it from her aunt, Mrs. Gusham. Forty-three dresses, all made this spring. And she had the most horrible time at the custom-house–“

“Madge,” said Hildegarde, as patiently as she could, “will you please wait for the stories till we get back to the wharf? I must attend to the steering, and I cannot listen at the same time.”

“My dear, I am dumb! I only just want to tell you before I forget it–you know what a wretched memory I have–what happened–“

“Luff!” said Roger, suddenly. “Luff, child, LUFF!”

Startled and confused, Hildegarde tried to do as she was told, but, in her distress, did exactly the opposite, and bore away; a grating sound was heard: the boat slid forward a few feet and stopped short.

“Oh, what have I done?” cried poor Hilda.

“Nothing of consequence! We have run on a shoal, that is all. Sit steady, please, ladies!”

Roger was overboard in an instant, up to his waist in water, pushing at the boat. Hilda sat dumb and scarlet, and even Madge was subdued for the time, and murmured exclamations under her breath. It was only a moment; a few vigorous shoves set the Keewaydin afloat again, and Roger leaped lightly in.

“Perhaps I would better take the tiller this time!” he said. “The bottom seems to be shoal all about here. And if you and Miss Everton will sit a little forward, Hilda, you will be more comfortable; I fear I cannot help dripping like hoary Nereus all over the stern here.”

He had never called her by her name before. Hildegarde reflected that for once she could not blush, being already a Tyrian purple. Of course it slipped out without his knowing it; but she was conscious of Madge’s gaze, and for once was thankful for her crimson cheeks.

This incident, or something else, had a quieting effect upon Miss Everton, and the sail home was a silent one. Roger was not inclined to talk, and he had a power of silence which was apt to extend to his companions; so they were all relieved when the Keewaydin glided gracefully to her moorings, and Ferguson appeared in the small boat to take them ashore.

“This is my brother Philip, Miss Everton!” said Roger. “Now if you will step into the boat, he will take you and Miss Grahame ashore, while I make all fast here. If you will take his hand, and be careful to step in the middle of the boat. In the MIDDLE of the boat, Miss Everton! Ah!” For Madge, with an airy leap, had alighted full on the gunwale. Down went the boat; the girl tried to regain her balance, but in vain, and after a few moments’ frantic struggle, fell headlong into the water.

Phil had thrown himself to starboard the moment he felt the shock of her alighting, hoping to counterbalance her weight; but he was too light. Now, however, he leaned swiftly forward, and caught the little French boots as they disappeared under the clear water. There was nothing else to be done. In this ignominious way, feet foremost, poor Madge had to be dragged in over the gunwale, dripping and shrieking.

“You odious boy!” she cried, as soon as she could find breath. “You did it on purpose! You tried to drown me, I know you did!”

Hildegarde hastened to her assistance. Roger, his face set like a rock, but his eyes dancing wickedly, proffered his aid, but was peevishly repulsed. As for Phil, he could only try to control himself, and murmured broken excuses between the gusts of laughter which shook him like a reed. Madge was a sorry sight, all her gay plumes broken and dripping, her spotted veil in a little wet mop over one eye, her floating curls reduced to forlorn strings of wet hair, her light dress clinging about her. How different from the bright bird of paradise that had so lately fluttered down on the camp, bent on conquest! Now her only thought was to escape. Mrs. Merryweather met her on the wharf with open arms and a warm blanket, and she was brought to the camp, and dried and warmed as quickly as possible. But Madge’s temper, none of the sweetest by nature, was completely spoiled; she had only peevish or sullen answers for all the expressions of sympathy and condolence that were poured out by the kindly campers. It was all the boy’s fault, and there was no excuse for him. She ought to have known better than to come among such. But here Hilda pressed her hand, and said “Be still!” in a low tone, but with a flash of the eye that so forcibly recalled the “Queen Hildegarde” of old days that Madge subsided, and whimpered to herself till the steamer came to take her back to Pollock’s Cove.

When she was gone Hildegarde slipped away, saying that she would pick some apples for tea; and on reaching the apple tree, she sat down under its hanging branches and indulged in a good cry, a rare luxury for her. It was a comfort to let the tears come, and to tell the friendly tree over and over again that he would never forgive her; that she was the most imbecile creature that ever lived, and that Madge was the only person she deserved to have for a friend, and that, now the others had found her out, the sooner she went home to her mother the better. Her mother would not expect her to be sensible; her mother knew better than to expect things of her. She was not fit to be with these people, who were so terribly clever, and knew so many things: and so on and so on, in the most astonishing way, our quiet, self-possessed girl sobbing and crying as if her heart would break, utterly amazed at herself, and wondering all the time what was the matter with her, and whether she would ever be able to stop.

She stopped suddenly enough; for Roger, coming through the fields with the milk, heard this piteous sobbing, and setting down his cans, parted the branches of the apple tree, saying in his kindest voice: “Why, my Kitty, my Pretty, what is the matter with you? who hurt my little–I–I beg your pardon, Miss Grahame!”

Hildegarde felt the hand of fate very heavy on her, but was quite helpless, and sobbed harder than ever.

What was a poor professor to do? Fortunately, Roger had plenty of sisters, and knew that a girl did not kill herself when she cried. After a moment’s thought, in which he reminded himself severely that he was getting to be an old fellow, and might be this child’s uncle, he came under the tree and sat down on the grass.

“Can you tell me what troubles you?” he asked, still in the gentle voice that was rather specially Kitty’s privilege. “You have had no bad news?”

Hilda shook her head.

“Perhaps if you were to tell me what the trouble is, I could help you; or would you rather I would go away and not bother you?”

No! Hildegarde, to her own amazement, would rather he stayed. Whereupon, Roger, drawing from his experience of girls, perceived that there was nothing to do but sit and wait till the storm had spent itself. So he picked the apples within his reach, and reflected on the feminine character.

Presently a small and shaken voice said from under the handkerchief, “I–am so sorry–you got wet, Captain Roger!”

“Got wet?” said Roger, vaguely. He was generally more or less wet, being an amphibious creature, and did not for the moment grasp Hildegarde’s meaning.

“I ran–the–boat aground, and you jumped overboard, and got–all wet!” and Hildegarde sobbed afresh.

“You don’t mean–” said Roger. “You are not troubled about THAT?”

But it appeared that Hildegarde was troubled about that.

“My dear child, do you think I did not see that it was not your fault? You were doing beautifully, if that–if Miss Everton had let you alone for an instant. And do you think I mind a wetting, or twenty wettings? Miss Hilda, I thought you knew better than that.”

“I was so stupid!” said Hildegarde, wiping her eyes, and trying to speak evenly. “I thought you were very angry, because you were so silent. I thought you would never–“

“Silent, was I? Well, you know I am in a brown study half the time. Isn’t that why they call me Roger the Codger? But this time,–oh, I remember! I was trying to make out how that shoal came to be there, when it is not buoyed out on the map. Come, Miss Hilda, you must laugh now!”

And Hilda laughed, and dried her eyes, and looked up,

“All kinder smily round the lips,
And teary round the lashes.”

“That’s right!” said Roger, heartily. “Now you shall be Kitty, and we will—we will shake hands and be friends, and eat an apple together. Kitty and I always do that when we have had a tiff.”

So they did; and the apples on that tree were the best apples in the world.

CHAPTER XIII.

IN PERIL BY WATER.

“All aboard!” said Roger.