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

Laddie, A True Blue Story by Gene Stratton Porter

Part 1 out of 9

Adobe PDF icon
Download Laddie, A True Blue Story pdf
File size: 1.0 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.


"The Way to Be Happy Is to Be Good"


I. Little Sister
II. Our Angel Boy
III. Mr. Pryor's Door
IV. The Last Day in Eden
V. The First Day of School
VI. The Wedding Gown
VII. When Sally Married Peter
VIII. The Shropshire and the Crusader
IX. "Even So"
X. Laddie Takes the Plunge
XI. Keeping Christmas Our Way
XII. The Horn of the Hunter
XIII. The Garden of the Lord
XIV. The Crest of Eastbrooke
XV. Laddie, the Princess, and the Pie
XVI. The Homing Pigeon
XVII. In Faith Believing
XVIII. The Pryor Mystery



LADDIE, Who Loved and Asked No Questions.
THE PRINCESS, From the House of Mystery.
LEON, Our Angel Child.
LITTLE SISTER, Who Tells What Happened.
MR. and MRS. STANTON, Who Faced Life Shoulder to Shoulder.
SALLY and PETER, Who Married Each Other.
ELIZABETH, SHELLEY, MAY and Other Stanton Children.
MR. and MRS. PRYOR, Father and Mother of the Princess.
ROBERT PAGET, a Chicago Lawyer.
MRS. FRESHETT, Who Offered Her Life for Her Friend.
CANDACE, the Cook.
MISS AMELIA, the School Mistress.
Interested Relatives, Friends, and Neighbours.


Little Sister

"And could another child-world be my share,
I'd be a Little Sister there."

Have I got a Little Sister anywhere in this house?" inquired
Laddie at the door, in his most coaxing voice.

"Yes sir," I answered, dropping the trousers I was making for
Hezekiah, my pet bluejay, and running as fast as I could. There
was no telling what minute May might take it into her head that
she was a little sister and reach him first. Maybe he wanted me
to do something for him, and I loved to wait on Laddie.

"Ask mother if you may go with me a while."

"Mother doesn't care where I am, if I come when the supper bell

"All right!" said Laddie.

He led the way around the house, sat on the front step and took
me between his knees.

"Oh, is it going to be a secret?" I cried.

Secrets with Laddie were the greatest joy in life. He was so big
and so handsome. He was so much nicer than any one else in our
family, or among our friends, that to share his secrets, run his
errands, and love him blindly was the greatest happiness.
Sometimes I disobeyed father and mother; I minded Laddie like his
right hand.

"The biggest secret yet," he said gravely.

"Tell quick!" I begged, holding my ear to his lips.

"Not so fast!" said Laddie. "Not so fast! I have doubts about
this. I don't know that I should send you. Possibly you can't
find the way. You may be afraid. Above all, there is never to
be a whisper. Not to any one! Do you understand?"

"What's the matter?" I asked.

"Something serious," said Laddie. "You see, I expected to have
an hour or two for myself this afternoon, so I made an engagement
to spend the time with a Fairy Princess in our Big Woods. Father
and I broke the reaper taking it from the shed just now and you
know how he is about Fairies."

I did know how he was about Fairies. He hadn't a particle of
patience with them. A Princess would be the Queen's daughter.
My father's people were English, and I had heard enough talk to
understand that. I was almost wild with excitement.

"Tell me the secret, hurry!" I cried.

"It's just this," he said. "It took me a long time to coax the
Princess into our Big Woods. I had to fix a throne for her to
sit on; spread a Magic Carpet for her feet, and build a wall to
screen her. Now, what is she going to think if I'm not there to
welcome her when she comes? She promised to show me how to make
sunshine on dark days."

"Tell father and he can have Leon help him."

"But it is a secret with the Princess, and it's HERS as much as
mine. If I tell, she may not like it, and then she won't make me
her Prince and send me on her errands."

"Then you don't dare tell a breath," I said.

"Will you go in my place, and carry her a letter to explain why
I'm not coming, Little Sister?"

"Of course!" I said stoutly, and then my heart turned right over;
for I never had been in our Big Woods alone, and neither mother
nor father wanted me to go. Passing Gypsies sometimes laid down
the fence and went there to camp. Father thought all the wolves
and wildcats were gone, he hadn't seen any in years, but every
once in a while some one said they had, and he was not quite sure
yet. And that wasn't the beginning of it. Paddy Ryan had come
back from the war wrong in his head. He wore his old army
overcoat summer and winter, slept on the ground, and ate whatever
he could find. Once Laddie and Leon, hunting squirrels to make
broth for mother on one of her bad days, saw him in our Big Woods
and he was eating SNAKES. If I found Pat Ryan eating a snake, it

would frighten me so I would stand still and let him eat me, if
he wanted to, and perhaps he wasn't too crazy to see how plump I
was. I seemed to see swarthy, dark faces, big, sleek cats
dropping from limbs, and Paddy Ryan's matted gray hair, the
flying rags of the old blue coat, and a snake in his hands.
Laddie was slipping the letter into my apron pocket. My knees
threatened to let me down.

"Must I lift the leaves and hunt for her, or will she come to
me?" I wavered.

"That's the biggest secret of all," said Laddie. "Since the
Princess entered them, our woods are Enchanted, and there is no
telling what wonderful things may happen any minute. One of them
is this: whenever the Princess comes there, she grows in size
until she is as big as, say our Sally, and she fills all the
place with glory, until you are so blinded you scarcely can see
her face."

"What is she like, Laddie?" I questioned, so filled with awe and
interest, that fear was forgotten.

"She is taller than Sally," said Laddie. "Her face is oval, and
her cheeks are bright. Her eyes are big moonlit pools of
darkness, and silken curls fall over her shoulders. One hair is
strong enough for a lifeline that will draw a drowning man
ashore, or strangle an unhappy one. But you will not see her.
I'm purposely sending you early, so you can do what you are told
and come back to me before she even reaches the woods."

"What am I to do, Laddie?"

"You must put one hand in your apron pocket and take the letter
in it, and as long as you hold it tight, nothing in the world can
hurt you. Go out our lane to the Big Woods, climb the gate and
walk straight back the wagon road to the water. When you reach
that, you must turn to your right and go toward Hoods' until you
come to the pawpaw thicket. Go around that, look ahead, and
you'll see the biggest beech tree you ever saw. You know a
beech, don't you?"

"Of course I do," I said indignantly. "Father taught me beech
with the other trees."

"Well then," said Laddie, "straight before you will be a purple
beech, and under it is the throne of the Princess, the Magic
Carpet, and the walls I made. Among the beech roots there is a
stone hidden with moss. Roll the stone back and there will be a
piece of bark. Lift that, lay the letter in the box you'll find,
and scamper to me like flying. I'll be at the barn with father."

"Is that all?"

"Not quite," said Laddie. "It's possible that the Fairy Queen
may have set the Princess spinning silk for the caterpillars to
weave their little houses with this winter; and if she has, she
may have left a letter there to tell me. If there is one, put it
in your pocket, hold it close every step of the way, and you'll
be safe coming home as you were going. But you mustn't let a
soul see it; you must slip it into my pocket when I'm not
looking. If you let any one see, then the Magic will be spoiled,
and the Fairy won't come again."

"No one shall see," I promised.

"I knew you could be trusted," said Laddie, kissing and hugging
me hard. "Now go! If anything gets after you that such a big
girl as you really wouldn't be ashamed to be afraid of, climb on
a fence and call. I'll be listening, and I'll come flying. Now
I must hurry. Father will think it's going to take me the
remainder of the day to find the bolts he wants."

We went down the front walk between the rows of hollyhocks and
tasselled lady-slippers, out the gate, and followed the road.
Laddie held one of my hands tight, and in the other I gripped the
letter in my pocket. So long as Laddie could see me, and the
lane lay between open fields, I wasn't afraid. I was thinking so
deeply about our woods being Enchanted, and a tiny Fairy growing
big as our Sally, because she was in them, that I stepped out

Every few days I followed the lane as far back as the Big Gate.
This stood where four fields cornered, and opened into the road
leading to the woods. Beyond it, I had walked on Sunday
afternoons with father while he taught me all the flowers, vines,
and bushes he knew, only he didn't know some of the prettiest
ones; I had to have books for them, and I was studying to learn
enough that I could find out. Or I had ridden on the wagon with
Laddie and Leon when they went to bring wood for the cookstove,
outoven, and big fireplace. But to walk! To go all alone! Not
that I didn't walk by myself over every other foot of the acres
and acres of beautiful land my father owned; but plowed fields,
grassy meadows, wood pasture, and the orchard were different. I
played in them without a thought of fear.

The only things to be careful about were a little, shiny, slender
snake, with a head as bright as mother's copper kettle, and a big
thick one with patterns on its back like those in Laddie's
geometry books, and a whole rattlebox on its tail; not to eat any
berry or fruit I didn't know without first asking father; and
always to be sure to measure how deep the water was before I
waded in alone.

But our Big Woods! Leon said the wildcats would get me there. I
sat in our catalpa and watched the Gypsies drive past every
summer. Mother hated them as hard as ever she could hate any
one, because once they had stolen some fine shirts, with linen
bosoms, that she had made by hand for father, and was bleaching
on the grass. If Gypsies should be in our west woods to-day and
steal me, she would hate them worse than ever; because my mother
loved me now, even if she didn't want me when I was born.

But you could excuse her for that. She had already bathed,
spanked, sewed for, and reared eleven babies so big and strong
not one of them ever even threatened to die. When you thought of
that, you could see she wouldn't be likely to implore the
Almighty to send her another, just to make her family even
numbers. I never felt much hurt at her, but some of the others I
never have forgiven and maybe I never will. As long as there had
been eleven babies, they should have been so accustomed to
children that they needn't all of them have objected to me, all
except Laddie, of course. That was the reason I loved him so and
tried to do every single thing he wanted me to, just the way he
liked it done. That was why I was facing the only spot on our
land where I was in the slightest afraid; because he asked me to.

If he had told me to dance a jig on the ridgepole of our barn, I
would have tried it.

So I clasped the note, set my teeth, and climbed over the gate.
I walked fast and kept my eyes straight before me. If I looked
on either side, sure as life I would see something I never had
before, and be down digging up a strange flower, chasing a
butterfly, or watching a bird. Besides, if I didn't look in the
fence corners that I passed, maybe I wouldn't see anything to
scare me. I was going along finely, and feeling better every
minute as I went down the bank of an old creek that had gone dry,
and started up the other side toward the sugar camp not far from
the Big Woods. The bed was full of weeds and as I passed
through, away! went Something among them.

Beside the camp shed there was corded wood, and the first thing I
knew, I was on top of it. The next, my hand was on the note in
my pocket. My heart jumped until I could see my apron move, and
my throat went all stiff and dry. I gripped the note and waited.

Father believed God would take care of him. I was only a little
girl and needed help much more than a man; maybe God would take
care of me. There was nothing wrong in carrying a letter to the
Fairy Princess. I thought perhaps it would help if I should
kneel on the top of the woodpile and ask God to not let anything
get me.

The more I thought about it, the less I felt like doing it,
though, because really you have no business to ask God to take
care of you, unless you KNOW you are doing right. This was
right, but in my heart I also knew that if Laddie had asked me, I
would be shivering on top of that cordwood on a hot August day,
when it was wrong. On the whole, I thought it would be more
honest to leave God out of it, and take the risk myself. That
made me think of the Crusaders, and the little gold trinket in
father's chest till. There were four shells on it and each one
stood for a trip on foot or horseback to the Holy City when you
had to fight almost every step of the way. Those shells meant
that my father's people had gone four times, so he said; that,
although it was away far back, still each of us had a tiny share
of the blood of the Crusaders in our veins, and that it would
make us brave and strong, and whenever we were afraid, if we
would think of them, we never could do a cowardly thing or let
any one else do one before us. He said any one with Crusader
blood had to be brave as Richard the Lion-hearted. Thinking
about that helped ever so much, so I gripped the note and turned
to take one last look at the house before I made a dash for the
gate that led into the Big Woods.

Beyond our land lay the farm of Jacob Hood, and Mrs. Hood always
teased me because Laddie had gone racing after her when I was
born. She was in the middle of Monday's washing, and the bluing
settled in the rinse water and stained her white clothes in
streaks it took months to bleach out. I always liked Sarah Hood
for coming and dressing me, though, because our Sally, who was
big enough to have done it, was upstairs crying and wouldn't come
down. I liked Laddie too, because he was the only one of our
family who went to my mother and kissed her, said he was glad,
and offered to help her. Maybe the reason he went was because he
had an awful scare, but anyway he WENT, and that was enough for

You see it was this way: no one wanted me; as there had been
eleven of us, every one felt that was enough. May was six years
old and in school, and my mother thought there never would be any
more babies. She had given away the cradle and divided the baby
clothes among my big married sisters and brothers, and was having
a fine time and enjoying herself the most she ever had in her
life. The land was paid for long ago; the house she had planned,
builded as she wanted it; she had a big team of matched grays and
a carriage with side lamps and patent leather trimmings; and
sometimes there was money in the bank. I do not know that there
was very much, but any at all was a marvel, considering how many
of us there were to feed, clothe, and send to college. Mother
was forty-six and father was fifty; so they felt young enough yet
to have a fine time and enjoy life, and just when things were
going best, I announced that I was halfway over my journey to

You can't blame my mother so much. She must have been tired of
babies and disliked to go back and begin all over after resting
six years. And you mustn't be too hard on my father if he was
not just overjoyed. He felt sure the cook would leave, and she
did. He knew Sally would object to a baby, when she wanted to
begin having beaus, so he and mother talked it over and sent her
away for a long visit to Ohio with father's people, and never
told her. They intended to leave her there until I was over the
colic, at least. They knew the big married brothers and sisters
would object, and they did. They said it would be embarrassing
for their children to be the nieces and nephews of an aunt or
uncle younger than themselves. They said it so often and so
emphatically that father was provoked and mother cried. Shelley
didn't like it because she was going to school in Groveville,
where Lucy, one of our married sisters, lived, and she was afraid
I would make so much work she would have to give up her books and
friends and remain at home. There never was a baby born who was
any less wanted than I was. I knew as much about it as any one
else, because from the day I could understand, all of them,
father, mother, Shelley, Sarah Hood, every one who knew, took
turns telling me how badly I was not wanted, how much trouble I
made, and how Laddie was the only one who loved me at first.
Because of that I was on the cordwood trying to find courage to
go farther. Over and over Laddie had told me himself. He had
been to visit our big sister Elizabeth over Sunday and about
eight o'clock Monday morning he came riding down the road, and
saw the most dreadful thing. There was not a curl of smoke from
the chimneys, not a tablecloth or pillowslip on the line, not a
blind raised. Laddie said his heart went--just like mine did
when the Something jumped in the creek bed, no doubt. Then he
laid on the whip and rode.

He flung the rein over the hitching post, leaped the fence and
reached the back door. The young green girl, who was all father
could get when the cook left, was crying. So were Shelley and
little May, although she said afterward she had a boil on her
heel and there was no one to poultice it. Laddie leaned against
the door casing, and it is easy enough to understand what he
thought. He told me he had to try twice before he could speak,
and then he could only ask: "What's the matter?"

Probably May never thought she would have the chance, but the
others were so busy crying harder, now that they had an audience,
that she was first to tell him: "We have got a little sister."

"Great Day!" cried Laddie. "You made me think we had a funeral!
Where is mother, and where is my Little Sister?"

He went bolting right into mother's room and kissed her like the
gladdest boy alive; because he was only a boy then, and he told
her how happy he was that she was safe, and then he ASKED for me.

He said I was the only living creature in that house who was not
shedding tears, and I didn't begin for about six months
afterward. In fact, not until Shelley taught me by pinching me
if she had to rock the cradle; then I would cry so hard mother
would have to take me. He said he didn't believe I'd ever have
learned by myself.

He took a pillow from the bed, fixed it in the rocking chair and
laid me on it. When he found that father was hitching the horses
to send Leon for Doctor Fenner, Laddie rode back after Sarah Hood
and spoiled her washing. It may be that the interest he always
took in me had its beginning in all of them scaring him with
their weeping; even Sally, whom father had to telegraph to come
home, was upstairs crying, and she was almost a woman. It may be
that all the tears they shed over not wanting me so scared Laddie
that he went farther in his welcome than he ever would have
thought of going if he hadn't done it for joy when he learned his
mother was safe. I don't care about the reason. It is enough
for me that from the hour of my birth Laddie named me Little
Sister, seldom called me anything else, and cared for me all he
possibly could to rest mother. He took me to the fields with him
in the morning and brought me back on the horse before him at
noon. He could plow with me riding the horse, drive a reaper
with me on his knees, and hoe corn while I slept on his coat in a
fence corner. The winters he was away at college left me lonely,
and when he came back for a vacation I was too happy for words.
Maybe it was wrong to love him most. I knew my mother cared for
and wanted me now. And all my secrets were not with Laddie. I
had one with father that I was never to tell so long as he lived,
but it was about the one he loved best, next after mother.
Perhaps I should never tell it, but I wouldn't be surprised if
the family knew. I followed Laddie like a faithful dog, when I
was not gripping his waving hair and riding in triumph on his
shoulders. He never had to go so fast he couldn't take me on his
back. He never was in too big a hurry to be kind. He always had
patience to explain every shell, leaf, bird, and flower I asked
about. I was just as much his when pretty young girls were
around, and the house full of company, as when we were alone.
That was the reason I was shivering on the cordwood, gripping his
letter and thinking of all these things in order to force myself
to go farther.

I was excited about the Fairies too. I often had close chances
of seeing them, but I always just missed. Now here was Laddie
writing letters and expecting answers; our Big Woods Enchanted, a
Magic Carpet and the Queen's daughter becoming our size so she
could speak with him. No doubt the Queen had her grow big as
Shelley, when she sent her on an errand to tell Laddie about how
to make sunshine; because she was afraid if she went her real
size he would accidentally step on her, he was so dreadfully big.

Or maybe her voice was so fine he could not hear what she said.
He had told me I was to hurry, and I had gone as fast as I could
until Something jumped; since, I had been settled on that
cordwood like Robinson Crusoe on his desert island. I had to get
down some time; I might as well start.

I gripped the letter, slid to the ground, and ran toward the big
gate straight before me. I climbed it, clutched the note again,
and ran blindly down the road through the forest toward the
creek. I could hurry there. On either side of it I could not
have run ten steps at a time. The big trees reached so high
above me it seemed as if they would push through the floor of
Heaven. I tried to shut my ears and run so fast I couldn't hear
a sound, and so going, I soon came to the creek bank. There I
turned to my right and went slower, watching for the pawpaw
thicket. On leaving the road I thought I would have to crawl
over logs and make my way; but there seemed to be kind of a path
not very plain, but travelled enough to follow. It led straight
to the thicket. At the edge I stopped to look for the beech. It
could be reached in one breathless dash, but there seemed to be a
green enclosure, so I walked around until I found an entrance.
Once there I was so amazed I stood and stared. I was half
indignant too.

Laddie hadn't done a thing but make an exact copy of my playhouse
under the biggest maiden's-blush in our orchard. He used the
immense beech for one corner, where I had the apple tree. His
Magic Carpet was woolly-dog moss, and all the magic about it, was
that on the damp woods floor, in the deep shade, the moss had
taken root and was growing as if it always had been there. He
had been able to cut and stick much larger willow sprouts for his
walls than I could, and in the wet black mould they didn't look
as if they ever had wilted. They were so fresh and green, no
doubt they had taken root and were growing. Where I had a low
bench under my tree, he had used a log; but he had hewed the top
flat, and made a moss cover. In each corner he had set a fern as
high as my head. On either side of the entrance he had planted a
cluster of cardinal flower that was in full bloom, and around the
walls in a few places thrifty bunches of Oswego tea and foxfire,
that I would have walked miles to secure for my wild garden under
the Bartlett pear tree. It was so beautiful it took my breath

"If the Queen's daughter doesn't like this," I said softly,
"she'll have to go to Heaven before she finds anything better,
for there can't be another place on earth so pretty."

It was wonderful how the sound of my own voice gave me courage,
even if it did seem a little strange. So I hurried to the beech,
knelt and slipped the letter in the box, and put back the bark
and stone. Laddie had said that nothing could hurt me while I
had the letter, so my protection was gone as soon as it left my

There was nothing but my feet to save me now. I thanked goodness
I was a fine runner, and started for the pawpaw thicket. Once
there, I paused only one minute to see whether the way to the
stream was clear, and while standing tense and gazing, I heard
something. For an instant it was every bit as bad as at the dry
creek. Then I realized that this was a soft voice singing, and I
forgot everything else in a glow of delight. The Princess was

Never in all my life was I so surprised, and astonished, and
bewildered. She was even larger than our Sally; her dress was
pale green, like I thought a Fairy's should be; her eyes were
deep and dark as Laddie had said, her hair hung from a part in
the middle of her forehead over her shoulders, and if she had
been in the sun, it would have gleamed like a blackbird's wing.
She was just as Laddie said she would be; she was so much more
beautiful than you would suppose any woman could be, I stood
there dumbly staring. I wouldn't have asked for any one more
perfectly beautiful or more like Laddie had said the Princess
would be; but she was no more the daughter of the Fairy Queen
than I was. She was not any more of a Princess. If father ever
would tell all about the little bauble he kept in the till of his
big chest, maybe she was not as near! She was no one on earth
but one of those new English people who had moved on the land
that cornered with ours on the northwest. She had ridden over
the roads, and been at our meeting house. There could be no

And neither father nor mother would want her on our place. They
didn't like her family at all. Mother called them the
neighbourhood mystery, and father spoke of them as the Infidels.
They had dropped from nowhere, mother said, bought that splendid
big farm, moved on and shut out every one. Before any one knew
people were shut out, mother, dressed in her finest, with Laddie
driving, went in the carriage, all shining, to make friends with
them. This very girl opened the door and said that her mother
was "indisposed," and could not see callers. "In-dis-posed!"
That's a good word that fills your mouth, but our mother didn't
like having it used to her. She said the "saucy chit" was
insulting. Then the man came, and he said he was very sorry, but
his wife would see no one. He did invite mother in, but she
wouldn't go. She told us she could see past him into the house
and there was such finery as never in all her days had she laid
eyes on. She said he was mannerly as could be, but he had the
coldest, severest face she ever saw.

They had two men and a woman servant, and no one could coax a
word from them, about why those people acted as they did. They
said 'orse, and 'ouse, and Hengland. They talked so funny you
couldn't have understood them anyway. They never plowed or put
in a crop. They made everything into a meadow and had more
horses, cattle, and sheep than a county fair, and everything you
ever knew with feathers, even peacocks. We could hear them
scream whenever it was going to rain. Father said they sounded
heathenish. I rather liked them. The man had stacks of money or
they couldn't have lived the way they did. He came to our house
twice on business: once to see about road laws, and again about
tax rates. Father was mightily pleased at first, because Mr.
Pryor seemed to have books, and to know everything, and father
thought it would be fine to be neighbours. But the minute Mr.
Pryor finished business he began to argue that every single thing
father and mother believed was wrong. He said right out in plain
English that God was a myth. Father told him pretty quickly that
no man could say that in his house; so he left suddenly and had
not been back since, and father didn't want him ever to come

Then their neighbours often saw the woman around the house and
garden. She looked and acted quite as well as any one, so
probably she was not half so sick as my mother, who had nursed
three of us through typhoid fever, and then had it herself when
she was all tired out. She wouldn't let a soul know she had a
pain until she dropped over and couldn't take another step, and
father or Laddie carried her to bed. But she went everywhere,
saw all her friends, and did more good from her bed than any
other woman in our neighbourhood could on her feet. So we
thought mighty little of those Pryor people.

Every one said the girl was pretty. Then her clothes drove the
other women crazy. Some of our neighbourhood came from far down
east, like my mother. Our people back a little were from over
the sea, and they knew how things should be, to be right. Many
of the others were from Kentucky and Virginia, and they were well
dressed, proud, handsome women; none better looking anywhere.
They followed the fashions and spent much time and money on their
clothes. When it was Quarterly Meeting or the Bishop dedicated
the church or they went to town on court days, you should have
seen them--until Pryors came. Then something new happened, and
not a woman in our neighbourhood liked it. Pamela Pryor didn't
follow the fashions. She set them. If every other woman made
long tight sleeves to their wrists, she let hers flow to the
elbow and filled them with silk lining, ruffled with lace. If
they wore high neckbands, she had none, and used a flat lace
collar. If they cut their waists straight around and gathered
their skirts on six yards full, she ran hers down to a little
point front and back, that made her look slenderer, and put only
half as much goods in her skirt. Maybe Laddie rode as well as
she could; he couldn't manage a horse any better, and aside from
him there wasn't a man we knew who would have tried to ride some
of the animals she did.

If she ever worked a stroke, no one knew it. All day long she
sat in the parlour, the very best one, every day; or on benches
under the trees with embroidery frames or books, some of them
fearful, big, difficult looking ones, or rode over the country.
She rode in sunshine and she rode in storm, until you would think
she couldn't see her way through her tangled black hair. She
rode through snow and in pouring rain, when she could have stayed
out of it, if she had wanted to. She didn't seem to be afraid of
anything on earth or in Heaven. Every one thought she was like
her father and didn't believe there was any God; so when she came
among us at church or any public gathering, as she sometimes did,
people were in no hurry to be friendly, while she looked straight
ahead and never spoke until she was spoken to, and then she was
precise and cold, I tell you.

Men took off their hats, got out of the road when she came
pounding along, and stared after her like "be-addled mummies," my
mother said. But that was all she, or any one else, could say.
The young fellows were wild about her, and if they tried to sidle
up to her in the hope that they might lead her horse or get to
hold her foot when she mounted, they always saw when they reached
her, that she wasn't there.

But she was here! I had seen her only a few times, but this was
the Pryor girl, just as sure as I would have known if it had been
Sally. What dazed me was that she answered in every particular
the description Laddie had given me of the Queen's daughter. And
worst of all, from the day she first came among us, moving so
proud and cold, blabbing old Hannah Dover said she carried
herself like a Princess--as if Hannah Dover knew HOW a Princess
carried herself!--every living soul, my father even, had called
her the Princess. At first it was because she was like they
thought a Princess would be, but later they did it in meanness,
to make fun. After they knew her name, they were used to calling
her the Princess, so they kept it up, but some of them were
secretly proud of her; because she could look, and do, and be
what they would have given anything to, and knew they couldn't to
save them.

I was never in such a fix in all my life. She looked more as
Laddie had said the Princess would than you would have thought
any woman could, but she was Pamela Pryor, nevertheless. Every
one called her the Princess, but she couldn't make reality out of
that. She just couldn't be the Fairy Queen's daughter; so the
letter couldn't possibly be for her.

She had no business in our woods; you could see that they had
plenty of their own. She went straight to the door of the willow
room and walked in as if she belonged there. What if she found
the hollow and took Laddie's letter! Fast as I could slip over
the leaves, I went back. She was on the moss carpet, on her
knees, and the letter was in her fingers. It's a good thing to
have your manners soundly thrashed into you. You've got to be
scared stiff before you forget them. I wasn't so afraid of her
as I would have been if I had known she WAS the princess, and
have Laddies letter, she should not. What had the kind of girl
she was, from a home like hers, to teach any one from our house
about making sunshine? I was at the willow wall by that time
peering through, so I just parted it a little and said: "Please
put back that letter where you got it. It isn't for you."

She knelt on the mosses, the letter in her hand, and her face, as
she turned to me, was rather startled; but when she saw me she
laughed, and said in the sweetest voice I ever heard: "Are you
so very sure of that?"

"Well I ought to be," I said. "I put it there."

"Might I inquire for whom you put it there?"

"No ma'am! That's a secret."

You should have seen the light flame in her eyes, the red deepen
on her cheeks, and the little curl of laughter that curved her

"How interesting!" she cried. "I wonder now if you are not
Little Sister."

"I am to Laddie and our folks," I said. "You are a stranger."

All the dancing lights went from her face. She looked as if she
were going to cry unless she hurried up and swallowed it down
hard and fast.

"That is quite true," she said. "I am a stranger. Do you know
that being a stranger is the hardest thing that can happen to any
one in all this world?"

"Then why don't you open your doors, invite your neighbours in,
go to see them, and stop your father from saying such dreadful

"They are not my doors," she said, "and could you keep your
father from saying anything he chooses?"

I stood and blinked at her. Of course I wouldn't even dare try

"I'm so sorry," was all I could think to say.

I couldn't ask her to come to our house. I knew no one wanted
her. But if I couldn't speak for the others, surely I might for
myself. I let go the willows and went to the door. The Princess
arose and sat on the seat Laddie had made for the Queen's
daughter. It was an awful pity to tell her she shouldn't sit
there, for I had my doubts if the real, true Princess would be
half as lovely when she came--if she ever did. Some way the
Princess, who was not a Princess, appeared so real, I couldn't
keep from becoming confused and forgetting that she was only just
Pamela Pryor. Already the lovely lights had gone from her face
until it made me so sad I wanted to cry, and I was no easy cry-
baby either. If I couldn't offer friendship for my family I
would for myself.

"You may call me Little Sister, if you like," I said. "I won't
be a stranger."

"Why how lovely!" cried the Princess.

You should have seen the dancing lights fly back to her eyes.
Probably you won't believe this, but the first thing I knew I was
beside her on the throne, her arm was around me, and it's the
gospel truth that she hugged me tight. I just had sense enough
to reach over and pick Laddie's letter from her fingers, and then
I was on her side. I don't know what she did to me, but all at
once I knew that she was dreadfully lonely; that she hated being
a stranger; that she was sorry enough to cry because their house
was one of mystery, and that she would open the door if she

"I like you," I said, reaching up to touch her curls.

I never had seen her that I did not want to. They were like I
thought they would be. Father and Laddie and some of us had wavy
hair, but hers was crisp--and it clung to your fingers, and
wrapped around them and seemed to tug at your heart like it does
when a baby grips you. I drew away my hand, and the hair
stretched out until it was long as any of ours, and then curled
up again, and you could see that no tins had stabbed into her
head to make those curls. I began trying to single out one hair.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"I want to know if only one hair is strong enough to draw a
drowning man from the water or strangle an unhappy one," I said.

"Believe me, no!" cried the Princess. "It would take all I have,
woven into a rope, to do that."

"Laddie knows curls that just one hair of them is strong enough,"
I boasted.

"I wonder now!" said the Princess. "I think he must have been
making poetry or telling Fairy tales."

"He was telling the truth," I assured her. "Father doesn't
believe in Fairies, and mother laughs, but Laddie and I know. Do
you believe in Fairies?"

"Of course I do!" she said.

"Then you know that this COULD be an Enchanted Wood?"

"I have found it so," said the Princess.

"And MAYBE this is a Magic Carpet?"

"It surely is a Magic Carpet."

"And you might be the daughter of the Queen? Your eyes are
`moonlit pools of darkness.' If only your hair were stronger,
and you knew about making sunshine!"

"Maybe it is stronger than I think. It never has been tested.
Perhaps I do know about making sunshine. Possibly I am as true
as the wood and the carpet."

I drew away and stared at her. The longer I looked the more
uncertain I became. Maybe her mother was the Queen. Perhaps
that was the mystery. It might be the reason she didn't want the
people to see her. Maybe she was so busy making sunshine for the
Princess to bring to Laddie that she had no time to sew carpet
rags, and to go to quiltings, and funerals, and make visits. It
was hard to know what to think.

"I wish you'd tell me plain out if you are the Queen's daughter,"
I said. "It's most important. You can't have this letter unless
I KNOW. It's the very first time Laddie ever trusted me with a
letter, and I just can't give it to the wrong person."

"Then why don't you leave it where he told you?"

"But you have gone and found the place. You started to take it
once; you would again, soon as I left."

"Look me straight in the eyes, Little Sister," said the Princess
softly. "Am I like a person who would take anything that didn't
belong to her?"

"No!" I said instantly.

"How do you think I happened to come to this place?"

"Maybe our woods are prettier than yours."

"How do you think I knew where the letter was?"

I shook my head.

"If I show you some others exactly like the one you have there,
then will you believe that is for me?"

"Yes," I answered.

I believed it anyway. It just SEEMED so, the better you knew
her. The Princess slipped her hand among the folds of the
trailing pale green skirt, and from a hidden pocket drew other
letters exactly like the one I held. She opened one and ran her
finger along the top line and I read, "To the Princess," and then
she pointed to the ending and it was merely signed, "Laddie," but
all the words written between were his writing. Slowly I handed
her the letter.

"You don't want me to have it?" she asked.

"Yes," I said. "I want you to have it if Laddie wrote it for
you--but mother and father won't, not at all."

"What makes you think so?" she asked gently.

"Don't you know what people say about you?"

"Some of it, perhaps."


"Do you think it is true?"

"Not that you're stuck up, and hateful and proud, not that you
don't want to be neighbourly with other people, no, I don't think
that. But your father said in our home that there was no God,
and you wouldn't let my mother in when she put on her best dress
and went in the carriage, and wanted to be friends. I have to
believe that."

"Yes, you can't help believing that," said the Princess.

"Then can't you see why you'll be likely to show Laddie the way
to find trouble, instead of sunshine?"

"I can see," said the Princess.

"Oh Princess, you won't do it, will you?" I cried.

"Don't you think such a big man as Laddie can take care of
himself?" she asked, and the dancing lights that had begun to
fade came back. "Over there," she pointed through our woods
toward the southwest, "lives a man you know. What do his
neighbours call him?"

"Stiff-necked Johnny," I answered promptly.

"And the man who lives next him?"

"Pinch-fist Williams."

Her finger veered to another neighbour's.

"The girls of that house?"

"Giggle-head Smithsons."

"What about the man who lives over there?"

"He beats his wife."

"And the house beyond?"

"Mother whispers about them. I don't know."

"And the woman on the hill?"

"She doesn't do anything but gussip and make every one trouble."

"Exactly!" said the Princess. "Yet most of these people come to
your house, and your family goes to theirs. Do you suppose
people they know nothing about are so much worse than these

"If your father will take it back about God, and your mother will
let people in--my mother and father both wanted to be friends,
you know."

"That I can't possibly do," she said, "but maybe I could change
their feelings toward me."

"Do it!" I cried. "Oh, I'd just love you to do it! I wish you
would come to our house and be friends. Sally is pretty as you
are, only a different way, and I know she'd like you, and so
would Shelley. If Laddie writes you letters and comes here about
sunshine, of course he'd be delighted if mother knew you; because
she loves him best of any of us. She depends on him most as much
as father."

"Then will you keep the secret until I have time to try--say
until this time next year?"

"I'll keep it just as long as Laddie wants me to."

"Good!" said the Princess. "No wonder Laddie thinks you the
finest Little Sister any one ever had."

"Does Laddie think that?" I asked

"He does indeed!" said the Princess.

"Then I'm not afraid to go home," I said. "And I'll bring his
letter the next time he can't come."

"Were you scared this time?"

I told her about that Something in the dry bed, the wolves,
wildcats, Paddy Ryan, and the Gypsies.

"You little goosie," said the Princess. "I am afraid that
brother Leon of yours is the biggest rogue loose in this part of
the country. Didn't it ever occur to you that people named Wolfe
live over there, and they call that crowd next us `wildcats,'
because they just went on some land and took it, and began living
there without any more permission than real wildcats ask to enter
the woods? Do you suppose I would be here, and everywhere else I
want to go, if there were any danger? Did anything really harm
you coming?"

"You're harmed when you're scared until you can't breathe," I
said. "Anyway, nothing could get me coming, because I held the
letter tight in my hand, like Laddie said. If you'd write me one
to take back, I'd be safe going home."

"I see," said the Princess. "But I've no pencil, and no paper,
unless I use the back of one of Laddie's letters, and that
wouldn't be polite."

"You can make new fashions," I said, "but you don't know much
about the woods, do you? I could fix fifty ways to send a
message to Laddie."

"How would you?" asked the Princess.

Running to the pawpaw bushes I pulled some big tender leaves.
Then I took the bark from the box and laid a leaf on it.

"Press with one of your rings," I said, "and print what you want
to say. I write to the Fairies every day that way, only I use an
old knife handle."

She tried. She spoiled two or three by bearing down so hard she
cut the leaves. She didn't even know enough to write on the
frosty side, until she was told. But pretty soon she got along
so well she printed all over two big ones. Then I took a stick
and punched little holes and stuck a piece of foxfire bloom

"What makes you do that?" she asked.

"That's the stamp," I explained.

"But it's my letter, and I didn't put it there."

"Has to be there or the Fairies won't like it," I said.

"Well then, let it go," said the Princess.

I put back the bark and replaced the stone, gathered up the
scattered leaves, and put the two with writing on between fresh

"Now I must run," I said, "or Laddie will think the Gypsies have
got me sure."

"I'll go with you past the dry creek," she offered.

"You better not," I said. "I'd love to have you, but it would be
best for you to change their opinion, before father or mother
sees you on their land."

"Perhaps it would," said the Princess. "I'll wait here until you
reach the fence and then you call and I'll know you are in the
open and feel comfortable."

"I am most all over being afraid now," I told her.

Just to show her, I walked to the creek, climbed the gate and
went down the lane. Almost to the road I began wondering what I
could do with the letter, when looking ahead I saw Laddie coming.

"I was just starting to find you. You've been an age, child," he

I held up the letter.

"No one is looking," I said, "and this won't go in your pocket."

You should have seen his face.

"Where did you get it?" he asked.

I told him all about it. I told him everything--about the hair
that maybe was stronger than she thought, and that she was going
to change father's and mother's opinions, and that I put the red
flower on, but she left it; and when I was done Laddie almost
hugged the life out of me. I never did see him so happy.

"If you be very, very careful never to breathe a whisper, I'll
take you with me some day," he promised.


Our Angel Boy

"I had a brother once--a gracious boy,
Full of all gentleness, of calmest hope,
Of sweet and quiet joy,--there was the look
Of heaven upon his face."

It was supper time when we reached home, and Bobby was at the
front gate to meet me. He always hunted me all over the place
when the big bell in the yard rang at meal time, because if he
crowed nicely when he was told, he was allowed to stand on the
back of my chair and every little while I held up my plate and
shared bites with him. I have seen many white bantams, but never
another like Bobby. My big brothers bought him for me in Fort
Wayne, and sent him in a box, alone on the cars. Father and I
drove to Groveville to meet him. The minute father pried off the
lid, Bobby hopped on the edge of the box and crowed--the biggest
crow you ever heard from such a mite of a body; he wasn't in the
least afraid of us and we were pleased about it. You scarcely
could see his beady black eyes for his bushy topknot, his wing
tips touched the ground, his tail had two beautiful plumy
feathers much longer than the others, his feet were covered with
feathers, and his knee tufts dragged. He was the sauciest,
spunkiest little fellow, and white as muslin. We went to supper
together, but no one asked where I had been, and because I was so
bursting full of importance, I talked only to Bobby, in order to
be safe.

After supper I finished Hezekiah's trousers, and May cut his coat
for me. School would begin in September and our clothes were
being made, so I used the scraps to dress him. His suit was done
by the next forenoon, and father never laughed harder than when
Hezekiah hopped down the walk to meet him dressed in pink
trousers and coat. The coat had flowing sleeves like the
Princess wore, so Hezekiah could fly, and he seemed to like them.

His suit was such a success I began a sunbonnet, and when that
was tied on him, the folks almost had spasms. They said he
wouldn't like being dressed; that he would fly away to punish me,
but he did no such thing. He stayed around the house and was
tame as ever.

When I became tired sewing that afternoon, I went down the lane
leading to our meadow, where Leon was killing thistles with a
grubbing hoe. I thought he would be glad to see me, and he was.
Every one had been busy in the house, so I went to the cellar the
outside way and ate all I wanted from the cupboard. Then I
spread two big slices of bread the best I could with my fingers,
putting apple butter on one, and mashed potatoes on the other.
Leon leaned on the hoe and watched me coming. He was a hungry
boy, and lonesome too, but he couldn't be forced to say so.

"Laddie is at work in the barn," he said.

"I'm going to play in the creek," I answered.

Crossing our meadow there was a stream that had grassy banks, big
trees, willows, bushes and vines for shade, a solid pebbly bed;
it was all turns and bends so that the water hurried until it
bubbled and sang as it went; in it lived tiny fish coloured
brightly as flowers, beside it ran killdeer, plover and solemn
blue herons almost as tall as I was came from the river to fish;
for a place to play on an August afternoon, it couldn't be
beaten. The sheep had been put in the lower pasture; so the
cross old Shropshire ram was not there to bother us.

"Come to the shade," I said to Leon, and when we were comfortably
seated under a big maple weighted down with trailing grapevines,
I offered the bread. Leon took a piece in each hand and began to
eat as if he were starving. Laddie would have kissed me and
said: "What a fine treat! Thank you, Little Sister."

Leon was different. He ate so greedily you had to know he was
glad to get it, but he wouldn't say so, not if he never got any
more. When you knew him, you understood he wouldn't forget it,
and he'd be certain to do something nice for you before the day
was over to pay back. We sat there talking about everything we
saw, and at last Leon said with a grin: "Shelley isn't getting
much grape sap is she?"

"I didn't know she wanted grape sap."

"She read about it in a paper. It said to cut the vine of a wild
grape, catch the drippings and moisten your hair. This would
make it glossy and grow faster."

"What on earth does Shelley want with more hair than she has?"

"Oh, she has heard it bragged on so much she thinks people would
say more if she could improve it."

I looked and there was the vine, dry as could be, and a milk
crock beneath it.

"Didn't the silly know she had to cut the vine in the spring when
the sap was running?"

"Bear witness, O vine! that she did not," said Leon, "and speak,
ye voiceless pottery, and testify that she expected to find you

"Too bad that she's going to be disappointed."

"She isn't! She's going to find ample liquid to bathe her
streaming tresses. Keep quiet and watch me."

He picked up the crock, carried it to the creek and dipped it
full of water.

"That's too much," I objected. "She'll know she never got a
crock full from a dry vine."

"She'll think the vine bled itself dry for her sake."

"She isn't that silly."

"Well then, how silly is she?" asked Leon, spilling out half.
"About so?"

"Not so bad as that. Less yet!"

"Anything to please the ladies," said Leon, pouring out more.
Then we sat and giggled a while.

"What are you going to do now?" asked Leon.

"Play in the creek," I answered.

"All right! I'll work near you."

He rolled his trousers above his knees and took the hoe, but he
was in the water most of the time. We had to climb on the bank
when we came to the deep curve, under the stump of the old oak
that father cut because Pete Billings would climb it and yowl
like a wildcat on cold winter nights. Pete was wrong in his head
like Paddy Ryan, only worse. As we passed we heard the faintest
sounds, so we lay and looked, and there in the dark place under
the roots, where the water was deepest, huddled some of the
cunningest little downy wild ducks you ever saw. We looked at
each other and never said a word. Leon chased them out with the
hoe and they swam down stream faster than old ones. I stood in
the shallow water behind them and kept them from going back to
the deep place, while Leon worked to catch them. Every time he
got one he brought it to me, and I made a bag of my apron front
to put them in. The supper bell rang before we caught all of
them. We were dripping wet with creek water and perspiration,
but we had the ducks, every one of them, and proudly started
home. I'll wager Leon was sorry he didn't wear aprons so he
could carry them. He did keep the last one in his hands, and
held its little fluffy body against his cheeks every few minutes.

"Couldn't anything be prettier than a young duck."

"Except a little guinea," I said.

"That's so!" said Leon. "They are most as pretty as quail. I
guess all young things that have down are about as cunning as
they can be. I don't believe I know which I like best, myself."

"Baby killdeers."

"I mean tame. Things we raise."

"I'll take guineas."

"I'll say white turkeys. They seem so innocent. Nothing of ours
is pretty as these."

"But these are wild."

"So they are," said Leon. "Twelve of them. Won't mother be

She was not in the least. She said we were a sight to behold;
that she was ashamed to be the mother of two children who didn't
know tame ducks from wild ones. She remembered instantly that
Amanda Deam had set a speckled Dorking hen on Mallard duck
eggs, where she got the eggs, and what she paid for them. She
said the ducks had found the creek that flowed beside Deams'
barnyard before it entered our land, and they had swum away from
the hen, and both the hen and Amanda would be frantic. She put
the ducks into a basket and said to take them back soon as ever
we got our suppers, and we must hurry because we had to bathe and
learn our texts for Sunday-school in the morning.

We went through the orchard, down the hill and across the meadow
until we came to the creek. By that time we were tired of the
basket. It was one father had woven himself of shaved and soaked
hickory strips, and it was heavy. The sight of water suggested
the proper place for ducks, anyway. We talked it over and
decided that they would be much more comfortable swimming than in
the basket, and it was more fun to wade than to walk, so we went
above the deep place, I stood in the creek to keep them from
going down, and Leon poured them on the water. Pigs couldn't
have acted more contrary. Those ducks LIKED us. They wouldn't
go to Deams'. They just fought to swim back to us. Anyway, we
had the worst time you ever saw. Leon cut long switches to herd
them with, and both of us waded and tried to drive them, but they
would dart under embankments and roots, and dive and hide.

Before we reached the Deams' I wished that we had carried them as
mother told us, for we had lost three, and if we stopped to hunt
them, more would hide. By the time we drove them under the
floodgate crossing the creek between our land and the Deams' four
were gone. Leon left me on the gate with both switches to keep
them from going back and he ran to call Mrs. Deam. She had red
hair and a hot temper, and we were not very anxious to see her,
but we had to do it. While Leon was gone I was thinking pretty
fast and I knew exactly how things would happen. First time
mother saw Mrs. Deam she would ask her if the ducks were all
right, and she would tell that four were gone. Mother would ask
how many she had, and she would say twelve, then mother would
remember that she started us with twelve in the basket--Oh what's
the use! Something had to be done. It had to be done quickly
too, for I could hear Amanda Deam, her boy Sammy and Leon coming
across the barnyard. I looked around in despair, but when things
are the very worst, there is almost always some way out.

On the dry straw worked between and pushing against the panels of
the floodgate, not far from me, I saw a big black water snake. I
took one good look at it: no coppery head, no geometry patterns,
no rattlebox, so I knew it wasn't poisonous and wouldn't bite
until it was hurt, and if it did, all you had to do was to suck
the place, and it wouldn't amount to more than two little pricks
as if pins had stuck you; but a big snake was a good excuse. I
rolled from the floodgate among the ducks, and cried, "Snake!"
They scattered everywhere. The snake lazily uncoiled and slid
across the straw so slowly that--thank goodness! Amanda Deam got
a fair look at it. She immediately began to jump up and down and
scream. Leon grabbed a stick and came running to the water. I
cried so he had to help me out first.

"Don't let her count them!" I whispered.

Leon gave me one swift look and all the mischief in his blue eyes
peeped out. He was the funniest boy you ever knew, anyway.
Mostly he looked scowly and abused. He had a grievance against
everybody and everything. He said none of us liked him, and we
imposed on him. Father said that if he tanned Leon's jacket for
anything, and set him down to think it over, he would pout a
while, then he would look thoughtful, suddenly his face would
light up and he would go away sparkling; and you could depend
upon it he would do the same thing over, or something worse,
inside an hour. When he wanted to, he could smile the most
winning smile, and he could coax you into anything. Mother said
she dreaded to have to borrow a dime from him, if a peddler
caught her without change, because she knew she'd be kept paying
it back for the next six months. Right now he was the busiest
kind of a boy.

"Where is it? Let me get a good lick at it! Don't scare the
ducks!" he would cry, and chase them from one bank to the other,
while Amanda danced and fought imaginary snakes. For a woman who
had seen as many as she must have in her life, it was too funny.
I don't think I could laugh harder, or Leon and Sammy. We
enjoyed ourselves so much that at last she began to be angry.
She quit dancing, and commenced hunting ducks, for sure. She
held her skirts high, poked along the banks, jumped the creek and
didn't always get clear across. Her hair shook down, she lost a
sidecomb, and she couldn't find half the ducks.

"You younguns pack right out of here," she said. "Me and Sammy
can get them better ourselves, and if we don't find all of them,
we'll know where they are."

"We haven't got any of your ducks," I said angrily, but Leon
smiled his most angelic smile, and it seemed as if he were going
to cry.

"Of course, if you want to accuse mother of stealing your ducks,
you can," he said plaintively, "but I should think you'd be
ashamed to do it, after all the trouble we took to catch them
before they swam to the river, where you never would have found
one of them. Come on, Little Sister, let's go home."

He started and I followed. As soon as we got around the bend we
sat on the bank, hung our feet in the water, leaned against each
other and laughed. We just laughed ourselves almost sick. When
Amanda's face got fire red, and her hair came down, and she
jumped and didn't go quite over, she looked a perfect fright.

"Will she ever find all of them?" I asked at last.

"Of course," said Leon. "She will comb the grass and strain the
water until she gets every one."


I looked at Leon. He was so intently watching an old turkey
buzzard hanging in the air, he never heard the call that meant it
was time for us to be home and cleaning up for Sunday. It was
difficult to hurry, for after we had been soaped and scoured, we
had to sit on the back steps and commit to memory verses from the
Bible. At last we waded toward home. Two of the ducks we had
lost swam before us all the way, so we knew they were alive, and
all they needed was finding.

"If she hadn't accused mother of stealing her old ducks, I'd
catch those and carry them back to her," said Leon. "But since
she thinks we are so mean, I'll just let her and little Sammy
find them."

Then we heard their voices as they came down the creek, so Leon
reached me his hand and we scampered across the water and meadow,
never stopping until we sat on the top rail of our back orchard
fence. There we heard another call, but that was only two. We
sat there, rested and looked at the green apples above our heads,
wishing they were ripe, and talking about the ducks. We could
see Mrs. Deam and Sammy coming down the creek, one on each side.
We slid from the fence and ran into a queer hollow that was cut
into the hill between the never-fail and the Baldwin apple trees.

That hollow was overgrown with weeds, and full of trimmings from
trees, stumps, everything that no one wanted any place else in
the orchard. It was the only unkept spot on our land, and I
always wondered why father didn't clean it out and make it look
respectable. I said so to Leon as we crouched there watching
down the hill where Mrs. Deam and Sammy hunted ducks with not
such very grand success. They seemed to have so many they
couldn't decide whether to go back or go on, so they must have
found most of them.

"You know I've always had my suspicions about this place," said
Leon. "There is somewhere on our land that people can be hidden
for a long time. I can remember well enough before the war ever
so long, and while it was going worst, we would find the wagon
covered with more mud in the morning than had been on it at
night; and the horses would be splashed and tired. Once I was
awake in the night and heard voices. It made me want a drink, so
I went downstairs for it, and ran right into the biggest,
blackest man who ever grew. If father and mother hadn't been
there I'd have been scared into fits. Next morning he was gone
and there wasn't a whisper. Father said I'd had bad dreams.
That night the horses made another mysterious trip. Now where
did they keep the black man all that day?"

"What did they have a black man for?"

"They were helping him run away from slavery to be free in
Canada. It was all right. I'd have done the same thing. They
helped a lot. Father was a friend of the Governor. There were
letters from him, and there was some good reason why father
stayed at home, when he was crazy about the war. I think this
farm was what they called an Underground Station. What I want to
know is where the station was."

"Maybe it's here. Let's hunt," I said. "If the black men were
here some time, they would have to be fed, and this is not far
from the house."

So we took long sticks and began poking into the weeds. Then we
moved the brush, and sure as you live, we found an old door with
a big stone against it. I looked at Leon and he looked at me.

"Hoo-hoo!" came mother's voice, and that was the third call.

"Hum! Must be for us," said Leon. "We better go as soon as we
get a little dryer."

He slid down the bank on one side, and I on the other, and we
pushed at the stone. I thought we never would get it rolled away
so we could open the door a crack, but when we did what we saw
was most surprising. There was a little room, dreadfully small.
but a room. There was straw scattered over the floor, very deep
on one side, where an old blanket showed that it had been a bed.
Across the end there was a shelf. On it was a candlestick, with
a half-burned candle in it, a pie pan with some mouldy crumbs,
crusts, bones in it, and a tin can. Leon picked up the can and
looked in. I could see too.

It had been used for water or coffee, as the plate had for food,
once, but now it was stuffed full of money. I saw Leon pull some
out and then shove it back, and he came to the door white as
could be, shut it behind him and began to push at the stone.
When we got it in place we put the brush over it, and fixed
everything like it had been.

At last Leon said: "That's the time we got into something not
intended for us, and if father finds it out, we are in for a good
thrashing. Are you just a blubbering baby, or are you big enough
to keep still?"

"I am old enough that I could have gone to school two years ago,
and I won't tell!" I said stoutly.

"All right! Come on then," said Leon. "I don't know but mother
has been calling us."

We started up the orchard path at the fourth call.

"Hoo-hoo!" answered Leon in a sick little voice to make it sound
far away. Must have made mother think we were on Deams' hill.
Then we went on side by side.

"Say Leon, you found the Station, didn't you?"

"Don't talk about it!" snapped Leon.

I changed the subject

"Whose money do you suppose that is?"

"Oh crackey! You can depend on a girl to see everything,"
groaned Leon. "Do you think you'll be able to stand the
switching that job will bring you, without getting sick in bed?"

Now I never had been sick in bed, and from what I had seen of
other people who were, I never wanted to be. The idea of being
switched until it made me sick was too much for me. I shut my
mouth tight and I never opened it about the Station place. As we
reached the maiden's-blush apple tree came another call, and it
sounded pretty cross, I can tell you. Leon reached his hand.

"Now, it's time to run. Let me do the talking."

We were out of breath when we reached the back door. There stood
the tub on the kitchen floor, the boiler on the stove, soap,
towels, and clean clothing on chairs. Leon had his turn at
having his ears washed first, because he could bathe himself
while mother did my hair.

"Was Mrs. Deam glad to get her ducks back?" she asked as she
fine-combed Leon.

"Aw, you never can tell whether she's glad about anything or
not," growled Leon. "You'd have thought from the way she acted,
that we'd been trying to steal her ducks. She said if she missed
any she'd know where to find them."

"Well as I live!" cried mother. "Why I wouldn't have believed
that of Amanda Deam. You told her you thought they were wild, of

"I didn't have a chance to tell her anything. The minute the
ducks struck the water they started right back down stream, and
there was a big snake, and we had an awful time. We got wet
trying to head them back, and then we didn't find all of them."

"They are like little eels. You should have helped Amanda."

"Well, you called so cross we thought you would come after us, so
we had to run."

"One never knows," sighed mother. "I thought you were loitering.

Of course if I had known you were having trouble with the ducks!
I think you had better go back and help them."

"Didn't I do enough to take them home? Can't Sammy Deam catch
ducks as fast as I can?"

"I suppose so," said mother. "And I must get your bathing out of
the way of supper. You use the tub while I do Little Sister's

I almost hated Sunday, because of what had to be done to my hair
on Saturday, to get ready for it. All week it hung in two long
braids that were brushed and arranged each morning. But on
Saturday it had to be combed with a fine comb, oiled and rolled
around strips of tin until Sunday morning. Mother did everything
thoroughly. She raked that fine comb over our scalps until she
almost raised the blood. She hadn't time to fool with tangles,
and we had so much hair she didn't know what to do with all of
it, anyway. When she was busy talking she reached around too far
and combed across our foreheads or raked the tip of an ear.

But on Sunday morning we forgot all that, when we walked down the
aisle with shining curls hanging below our waists. Mother was
using the fine comb, when she looked up, and there stood Mrs.
Freshett. We could see at a glance that she was out of breath.

"Have I beat them?" she cried.

"Whom are you trying to beat?" asked mother as she told May to
set a chair for Mrs. Freshett and bring her a drink.

"The grave-kiver men," she said. "I wanted to get to you first."

"Well, you have," said mother. "Rest a while and then tell me."

But Mrs. Freshett was so excited she couldn't rest.

"I thought they were coming straight on down," she said, "but
they must have turned off at the cross roads. I want to do
what's right by my children here or there," panted Mrs. Freshett,
"and these men seemed to think the contrivance they was sellin'
perfectly grand, an' like to be an aid to the soul's salvation.
Nice as it seemed, an' convincin' as they talked, I couldn't get
the consent of my mind to order, until I knowed if you was goin'
to kiver your dead with the contraption. None of the rest of the
neighbours seem over friendly to me, an' I've told Josiah many's
the time, that I didn't care a rap if they wa'n't, so long as I
had you. Says I, `Josiah, to my way of thinkin', she is top
crust in this neighbourhood, and I'm on the safe side apin' her
ways clost as possible.'"

"I'll gladly help you all I can," said my mother.

"Thanky!" said Mrs. Freshett. "I knowed you would. Josiah he
says to me, `Don't you be apin' nobody.' `Josiah,' says I, `it
takes a pretty smart woman in this world to realize what she
doesn't know. Now I know what I know, well enough, but all I
know is like to keep me an' my children in a log cabin an' on log
cabin ways to the end of our time. You ain't even got the
remains of the cabin you started in for a cow shed.' Says I,
`Josiah, Miss Stanton knows how to get out of a cabin an' into a
grand big palace, fit fur a queen woman. She's a ridin' in a
shinin' kerridge, 'stid of a spring wagon. She goes abroad
dressed so's you men all stand starin' like cabbage heads. All
hern go to church, an' Sunday-school, an' college, an' come out
on the top of the heap. She does jest what I'd like to if I
knowed how. An' she ain't come-uppety one morsel.' If I was to
strike acrost fields to them stuck-up Pryors, I'd get the door
slammed in my face if 'twas the missus, a sneer if 'twas the man,
an' at best a nod cold as an iceberg if 'twas the girl. Them as
want to call her kind `Princess,' and encourage her in being more
stuck up 'an she was born to be, can, but to my mind a Princess
is a person who thinks of some one besides herself once in a

"I don't find the Pryors easy to become acquainted with," said
mother. "I have never met the woman; I know the man very
slightly; he has been here on business once or twice, but the
girl seems as if she would be nice, if one knew her."

"Well, I wouldn't have s'posed she was your kind," said Mrs.
Freshett. "If she is, I won't open my head against her any more.

Anyway, it was the grave-kivers I come about."

"Just what is it, Mrs. Freshett?" asked mother.

"It's two men sellin' a patent iron kiver for to protect the
graves of your dead from the sun an' the rain."

"Who wants the graves of their dead protected from the sun and
the rain?" demanded my mother sharply.

"I said to Josiah, `I don't know how she'll feel about it, but I
can't do more than ask.'"

"Do they carry a sample? What is it like?"

"Jest the len'th an' width of a grave. They got from baby to
six-footer sizes. They are cast iron like the bottom of a cook
stove on the under side, but atop they are polished so they shine
somethin' beautiful. You can get them in a solid piece, or with
a hole in the centre about the size of a milk crock to set
flowers through. They come ten to the grave, an' they are mighty
stylish lookin' things. I have been savin' all I could skimp
from butter, an' eggs, to get Samantha a organ; but says I to
her: `You are gettin' all I can do for you every day; there lays
your poor brother 'at ain't had a finger lifted for him since he
was took so sudden he was gone before I knowed he was goin'.' I
never can get over Henry bein' took the way he was, so I says:
`If this would be a nice thing to have for Henry's grave, and the
neighbours are goin' to have them for theirn, looks to me like
some of the organ money will have to go, an' we'll make it up
later.' I don't 'low for Henry to be slighted bekase he rid
himself to death trying to make a president out of his pa's

"You never told me how you lost your son," said mother, feeling
so badly she wiped one of my eyes full of oil.

"Law now, didn't I?" inquired Mrs. Freshett. "Well mebby that is
bekase I ain't had a chance to tell you much of anythin', your
bein' always so busy like, an' me not wantin' to wear out my
welcome. It was like this: All endurin' the war Henry an' me
did the best we could without pa at home, but by the time it was
over, Henry was most a man. Seemed as if when he got home, his
pa was all tired out and glad to set down an' rest, but Henry was
afire to be up an' goin'. His pa filled him so full o' Grant, it
was runnin' out of his ears. Come the second run the Gin'ral
made, peered like Henry set out to 'lect him all by hisself. He
wore every horse on the place out, ridin' to rallies. Sometimes
he was gone three days at a stretch. He'd git one place an' hear
of a rally on ten miles or so furder, an' blest if he didn't ride
plum acrost the state 'fore he got through with one trip. He set
out in July, and he rid right straight through to November, nigh
onto every day of his life. He got white, an' thin, an' narvous,
from loss of sleep an' lack of food, an' his pa got restless,
said Henry was takin' the 'lection more serious 'an he ever took
the war. Last few days before votin' was cold an' raw an' Henry
rid constant. 'Lection day he couldn't vote, for he lacked a
year of bein' o' age, an' he rid in with a hard chill, an' white
as a ghost, an' he says: `Ma,' says he, `I've 'lected Grant, but
I'm all tuckered out. Put me to bed an' kiver me warm.'"

I forgot the sting in my eyes watching Mrs. Freshett. She was
the largest woman I knew, and strong as most men. Her hair was
black and glisteny, her eyes black, her cheeks red, her skin a
clear, even dark tint. She was handsome, she was honest, and she
was in earnest over everything. There was something about her,
or her family, that had to be told in whispers, and some of the
neighbours would have nothing to do with her. But mother said
Mrs. Freshett was doing the very best she knew, and for the sake
of that, and of her children, anyone who wouldn't help her was
not a Christian, and not to be a Christian was the very worst
thing that could happen to you. I stared at her steadily. She
talked straight along, so rapidly you scarcely could keep up with
the words; you couldn't if you wanted to think about them any
between. There was not a quiver in her voice, but from her eyes
there rolled, steadily, the biggest, roundest tears I ever saw.
They ran down her cheeks, formed a stream in the first groove of
her double chin, overflowed it, and dripped drop, drop, a drop at
a time, on the breast of her stiffly starched calico dress, and
from there shot to her knees.

"'Twa'n't no time at all 'til he was chokin' an' burnin' red with
fever, an' his pa and me, stout as we be, couldn't hold him down
nor keep him kivered. He was speechifyin' to beat anythin' you
ever heard. His pa said he was repeatin' what he'd heard said by
every big stump speaker from Greeley to Logan. When he got so
hoarse we couldn't tell what he said any more, he jest mouthed
it, an' at last he dropped back and laid like he was pinned to
the sheets, an' I thought he was restin', but 'twa'n't an hour
'til he was gone."

Suddenly Mrs. Freshett lifted her apron, covered her face and
sobbed until her broad shoulders shook.

"Oh you poor soul!" said my mother. "I'm so sorry for you!"

"I never knowed he was a-goin' until he was gone," she said. "He
was the only one of mine I ever lost, an' I thought it would jest
lay me out. I couldn't 'a' stood it at all if I hadn't 'a'
knowed he was saved. I well know my Henry went straight to
Heaven. Why Miss Stanton, he riz right up in bed at the last,
and clear and strong he jest yelled it: `Hurrah fur Grant!'"

My mother's fingers tightened in my hair until I thought she
would pull out a lot, and I could feel her knees stiffen. Leon
just whooped. Mother sprang up and ran to the door.

"Leon!" she cried. Then there was a slam. "What in the world is
the matter?" she asked.

"Stepped out of the tub right on the soap, and it threw me down,"
explained Leon.

"For mercy sake, be careful!" said my mother, and shut the door.

It wasn't a minute before the knob turned and it opened again a

I never saw mother's face look so queer, but at last she said
softly: "You were thinking of the grave cover for him?"

"Yes, but I wanted to ask you before I bound myself. I heard you
lost two when the scarlet fever was ragin' an' I'm goin' to do
jest what you do. If you have kivers, I will. If you don't like
them when you see how bright and shiny they are, I won't get any

"I can tell you without seeing them, Mrs. Freshett," said my
mother, wrapping a strand of hair around the tin so tight I
slipped up my fingers to feel whether my neck wasn't like a buck-
eye hull looks, and it was. "I don't want any cover for the
graves of my dead but grass and flowers, and sky and clouds. I
like the rain to fall on them, and the sun to shine, so that the
grass and flowers will grow. If you are satisfied that the soul
of Henry is safe in Heaven, that is all that is necessary.
Laying a slab of iron on top of earth six feet above his body
will make no difference to him. If he is singing with the
angels, by all means save your money for the organ."

"I don't know about the singin', but I'd stake my last red cent
he's still hollerin' fur Grant. I was kind o' took with the
idea; the things was so shiny and scilloped at the edges, peered
like it was payin' considerable respect to the dead to kiver them

"What good would it do?" asked mother. "The sun shining on the
iron would make it so hot it would burn any flower you tried to
plant in the opening; the water couldn't reach the roots, and all
that fell on the slab would run off and make it that much wetter
at the edges. The iron would soon rust and grow dreadfully ugly
lying under winter snow. There is nothing at all in it, save a
method to work on the feelings of the living, and get them to pay
their money for something that wouldn't affect their dead a

"'Twould be a poor idea for me," said Mrs. Freshett. "I said to
the men that I wanted to honour Henry all I could, but with my
bulk, I'd hev all I could do, come Jedgment Day, to bust my box,
an' heave up the clods, without havin' to hist up a piece of iron
an' klim from under it."

Mother stiffened and Leon slipped again. He could have more
accidents than any boy I ever knew. But it was only a few
minutes until he came to mother and gave her a Bible to mark the
verses he had to learn to recite at Sunday-school next day.
Mother couldn't take the time when she had company, so she asked
if he weren't big enough to pick out ten proper verses and learn
them by himself, and he said of course he was. He took his Bible
and he and May and I sat on the back steps and studied our
verses. He and May were so big they had ten; but I had only two,
and mine were not very long. Leon giggled half the time he was
studying. I haven't found anything so very funny in the Bible.
Every few minutes he would whisper to himself: "THAT'S A GOOD

He took the book and heard May do hers until she had them
perfectly, then he went and sat on the back fence with his book
and studied as I never before had seen him. Mrs. Freshett stayed
so long mother had no time to hear him, but he told her he had
them all learned so he could repeat them without a mistake.

Next morning mother was busy, so she had no time then. Father,
Shelley, and I rode on the front seat, mother, May, and Sally on
the back, while the boys started early and walked.

When we reached the top of the hill, the road was lined with
carriages, wagons, spring wagons, and saddle horses. Father
found a place for our team and we went down the walk between the
hitching rack and the cemetery fence. Mother opened the gate and
knelt beside two small graves covered with grass, shaded by
yellow rose bushes, and marked with little white stones. She
laid some flowers on each and wiped the dust from the carved
letters with her handkerchief. The little sisters who had
scarlet fever and whooping cough lay there. Mother was still a
minute and then she said softly: "`The Lord has given and the
Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.'"

She was very pale when she came to us, but her eyes were bright
and she smiled as she put her arms around as many of us as she
could reach.

"What a beautiful horse!" said Sally. "Look at that saddle and
bridle! The Pryor girl is here."

"Why should she come?" asked Shelley.

"To show her fine clothes and queen it over us!"

"Children, children!" said mother. "`Judge not!' This is a
house of worship. The Lord may be drawing her in His own way.
It is for us to help Him by being kind and making her welcome."

At the church door we parted and sat with our teachers, but for
the first time as I went down the aisle I was not thinking of my
linen dress, my patent leather slippers, and my pretty curls. It
suddenly seemed cheap to me to twist my hair when it was straight
as a shingle, and cut my head on tin. If the Lord had wanted me
to have curls, my hair would have been like Sally's. Seemed to
me hers tried to see into what big soft curls it could roll. May
said ours was so straight it bent back the other way. Anyway, I
made up my mind to talk it over with father and always wear
braids after that, if I could get him to coax mother to let me.

Our church was quite new and it was beautiful. All the casings
were oiled wood, and the walls had just a little yellow in the
last skin coating used to make them smooth, so they were a creamy
colour, and the blinds were yellow. The windows were wide open
and the wind drifted through, while the birds sang as much as
they ever do in August, among the trees and bushes of the
cemetery. Every one had planted so many flowers of all kinds on
the graves you could scent sweet odours. Often a big, black-
striped, brown butterfly came sailing in through one of the
windows, followed the draft across the room, and out of another.
I was thinking something funny: it was about what the Princess
had said of other people, and whether hers were worse. I looked
at my father sitting in calm dignity in his Sunday suit and
thought him quite as fine and handsome as mother did. Every
Sabbath he wore the same suit, he sat in the same spot, he
worshipped the Lord in his calm, earnest way. The ministers
changed, but father was as much a part of the service as the
Bible on the desk or the communion table. I wondered if people
said things about him, and if they did, what they were. I never
had heard. Twisting in my seat, one by one I studied the faces
on the men's side, and then the women. It was a mighty good-
looking crowd. Some had finer clothes than others--that is
always the way--but as a rule every one was clean, neat, and good
to see. From some you scarcely could turn away. There was Widow
Fall. She was French, from Virginia, and she talked like little
tinkly notes of music. I just loved to hear her, and she walked
like high-up royalty. Her dress was always black, with white
bands at the neck and sleeves, black rustly silk, and her eyes
and hair were like the dress. There was a little red on her
cheeks and lips, and her face was always grave until she saw you
directly before her, and then she smiled the sweetest smile.

Maybe Sarah Hood was not pretty, but there was something about
her lean face and shining eyes that made you look twice before
you were sure of it, and by that time you had got so used to her,
you liked her better as she was, and wouldn't have changed her
for anything. Mrs. Fritz had a pretty face and dresses and
manners, and so did Hannah Dover, only she talked too much. So I
studied them and remembered what the Princess had said, and I
wondered if she heard some one say that Peter Justice beat his
wife, or if she showed it in her face and manner. She reminded
me of a scared cowslip that had been cut and laid in the sun an
hour. I don't know as that expresses it. Perhaps a flower
couldn't look scared, but it could be wilted and faded. I
wondered if she ever had bright hair, laughing eyes, and red in
her lips and cheeks. She must have been pretty if she had.

At last I reached my mother. There was nothing scared or faded
about her, and she was dreadfully sick too, once in a while since
she had the fever. She was a little bit of a woman, coloured
like a wild rose petal, face and body--a piece of pink porcelain
Dutch, father said. She had brown eyes, hair like silk, and she
always had three best dresses. There was one of alpaca or
woollen, of black, gray or brown, and two silks. Always there
was a fine rustly black one with a bonnet and mantle to match,
and then a softer, finer one of either gold brown, like her hair,
or dainty gray, like a dove's wing. When these grew too old for
fine use, she wore them to Sunday-school and had a fresh one for
best. There was a new gray in her closet at home, so she put on
the old brown to-day, and she was lovely in it.

Usually the minister didn't come for church services until
Sunday-school was half over, so the superintendent read a
chapter, Daddy Debs prayed, and all of us stood up and sang:
"Ring Out the Joy Bells." Then the superintendent read the
lesson over as impressively as he could. The secretary made his
report, we sang another song, gathered the pennies, and each
teacher took a class and talked over the lesson a few minutes.
Then we repeated the verses we had committed to memory to our
teachers; the member of each class who had learned the nicest
texts, and knew them best, was selected to recite before the
school. Beginning with the littlest people, we came to the big
folks. Each one recited two texts until they reached the class
above mine. We walked to the front, stood inside the altar, made
a little bow, and the superintendent kept score. I could see
that mother appeared worried when Leon's name was called for his
class, for she hadn't heard him, and she was afraid he would

Among the funny things about Leon was this: while you had to
drive other boys of his age to recite, you almost had to hold him
to keep him from it. Father said he was born for a politician or
a preacher, if he would be good, and grow into the right kind of
a man to do such responsible work.

"I forgot several last Sabbath, so I have thirteen to-day," he
said politely.

Of course no one expected anything like that. You never knew
what might happen when Leon did anything. He must have been
about sixteen. He was a slender lad, having almost sandy hair,
like his English grandfather. He wore a white ruffled shirt with
a broad collar, and cuffs turning back over his black jacket, and
his trousers fitted his slight legs closely. The wind whipped
his soft black tie a little and ruffled the light hair where it
was longest and wavy above his forehead. Such a perfect picture
of innocence you never saw. There was one part of him that
couldn't be described any better than the way Mr. Rienzi told
about his brother in his "Address to the Romans," in McGuffey's
Sixth. "The look of heaven on his face" stayed most of the time;
again, there was a dealish twinkle that sparkled and flashed
while he was thinking up something mischievous to do. When he
was fighting angry, and going to thrash Absalom Saunders or die
trying, he was plain white and his eyes were like steel. Mother
called him "Weiscope," half the time. I can only spell the way
that sounds, but it means "white-head," and she always used that
name when she loved him most. "The look of heaven" was strong on
his face now.

"One," said the recording secretary.

"Jesus wept," answered Leon promptly.

There was not a sound in the church. You could almost hear the
butterflies pass. Father looked down and laid his lower lip in
folds with his fingers, like he did sometimes when it wouldn't
behave to suit him.

"Two," said the secretary after just a breath of pause.

Leon looked over the congregation easily and then fastened his
eyes on Abram Saunders, the father of Absalom, and said
reprovingly: "Give not sleep to thine eyes nor slumber to thine

Abram straightened up suddenly and blinked in astonishment, while
father held fast to his lip.

"Three," called the secretary hurriedly.

Leon shifted his gaze to Betsy Alton, who hadn't spoken to her
next door neighbour in five years.

"Hatred stirreth up strife," he told her softly, "but love
covereth all sins."

Things were so quiet it seemed as if the air would snap.


The mild blue eyes travelled back to the men's side and settled
on Isaac Thomas, a man too lazy to plow and sow land his father
had left him. They were not so mild, and the voice was touched
with command: "Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways
and be wise."

Still that silence.

"Five," said the secretary hurriedly, as if he wished it were
over. Back came the eyes to the women's side and past all
question looked straight at Hannah Dover.

"As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman
without discretion."

"Six," said the secretary and looked appealingly at father, whose
face was filled with dismay.

Again Leon's eyes crossed the aisle and he looked directly at the
man whom everybody in the community called "Stiff-necked Johnny."

I think he was rather proud of it, he worked so hard to keep them
doing it.

"Lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck,"
Leon commanded him.

Toward the door some one tittered.

"Seven," called the secretary hastily.

Leon glanced around the room.

"But how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell
together in unity," he announced in delighted tones as if he had
found it out by himself.

"Eight," called the secretary with something like a breath of

Our angel boy never had looked so angelic, and he was beaming on
the Princess.

"Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee," he told

Laddie would thrash him for that.

Instantly after, "Nine," he recited straight at Laddie: "I made
a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?"

More than one giggled that time.

"Ten!" came almost sharply.

Leon looked scared for the first time. He actually seemed to
shiver. Maybe he realized at last that it was a pretty serious
thing he was doing. When he spoke he said these words in the
most surprised voice you ever heard: "I was almost in all evil
in the midst of the congregation and assembly."


Perhaps these words are in the Bible. They are not there to read
the way Leon repeated them, for he put a short pause after the
first name, and he glanced toward our father: "Jesus Christ, the
SAME, yesterday, and to-day, and forever!"

Sure as you live my mother's shoulders shook.


Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest