The Baldwin Lirary
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THEIR NEW HOME.
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IN SIGHT OF A REFUGE.
THEIR NEW HOME.
ANNIE S. FENN,
Author nf "The Children of Inayeomhe;" "A Year with Nellie;"
Little Dolly Forbes;" &c.
ILL USTRA TED.
BLACKIE & SON, 49 & 50 OLD BAILEY, E.O.
GLASGOW, EDINBURGH, AND DUBLIN.
I. A JOURNEY AT NIGHT, . . 7
II. JUST IN TIME, . 16
III. THE NEW HOMEE,. . . .25
IV. AN ERRAND, .. . .. .... 32
V. WHERE IS TOM? . . .42
VI. IN CHASE, ...... .... .. .. ... 53
VII. CARRIED AWAY, . . .. 61
VIII. IN THE SHANTY,. . .... ... 69
IX. A PUZZLE, ......... .. .79
X. TRAVELLING .. ....... . 87
XI. BAD TIMES, ... . . 97
XII. THE DESCENT, . ... .. 106
XIII. "GOOD-BYE!" .. . . .111
XIV. TROUBLE .. . ... 114
XV. BACK AGAIN,.. . .. .121
THEIR NEW HOME.
A JOURNEY AT NIGHT.
HERE was no doubt about it now;
they were really off-gliding noi-
sily away further and further from
the great city to which they might never
return, the city in which three of them had
been born. There was nothing to be seen of
it now but a red glow where the thick atmo-
sphere reflected the light of the countless gas-
lamps burning below.
They had the compartment in the railway-
carriage entirely to themselves, which was
satisfactory, for they could be more at ease.
10 THEIR NEW HOME.
He took off his cap and flung it up in his
excitement, when it lodged on the luggage-
rack, and he had to stand on the seat to get
it down. His brother, one year his junior, a
quiet, rather heavy-looking boy of fourteen,
who was stolidly cracking nuts as he sat
opposite, watched this performance in silence.
"I say, Will, wake up and talk, won't you?"
said Tom, sitting down and putting on his
cap again. "What a slow-going chap you
Will laughed good-humouredly at this re-
"What's the use of talking when you
haven't got anything to say?" he asked.
"Have some nuts?" And he extended his
hand with about half-a-dozen kernels lying
in the palm. His brother took them all
with a nod of thanks, whereupon Will threw
the shells out of the window, drew another
handful from his pocket, and resumed his
A JOURNEY AT NIGHT. 11
employment of using his strong white teeth
"Aren't you jolly glad we're off at last? "
shouted Tom; for it was not easy to carry on
a conversation while the train was travelling
at the present rate of speed.
"Gracie looks so awfully solemn about it.
Gracie, don't be so glum."
"Let Gracie alone," said their father, rous-
ing himself from his reverie; she'll be cheery
enough by and by."
Don't see why she can't be cheerful now,"
grumbled Tom, feeling somewhat ill-used at
having his high spirits all to himself. "There's
nothing but fun to look forward to, and no-
thing but what's miserable to leave behind."
"Ah! we can't all be as philosophical as
you, my boy. It's rather a sad thing, when
you come to think of it, that there isn't room
for us to live in our own country, but we
12 THEIR NEW HOME.
must turn out and go elsewhere. I dare say
I should have been pleased though when I
was your age." And Mr. Allison followed
Gracie's example and looked reflectively from
"What's the good of sticking always in
one place!" said Tom; "it's no fun at all."
No one made any answer to this, because
the boy, forgetting to raise his voice, had failed
to make himself heard. Will finished his
nuts, leaned back, and thrusting his hands
into his pockets seemed inclined to go to
sleep, which proceeding his brother very much
"Look here, Will," he said irritably. If
you go to sleep I shall kick your shins to
wake you. I want you to talk."
Will smiled half apologetically. "All
right!" he said. "How long do you suppose
it will take us to get there?"
"Where? To Southpool?"
A JOURNEY AT NIGHT. 1:
"To New York?"
"Oh! about nine days. Oh, I say, Will,
how ill you will be!"
"So will you."
That you will. Why, even swinging
makes you giddy on a see-saw, or anything."
"Get out! I'm not such a muff."
Will looked incredulous. "Well, we shall
see," he said quietly.
There was a pause, and no sound was heard
save that made by the engine and the jolt-
ing and jarring of the carriages. Mr. Alli-
son began to nod; for he was tired, having
been very busy all that day making final
preparations for the start. At last even Tom
Will," he said in a lazy voice, "just reach
down that rug from the rack over your head
and put it behind my back. It's awfully
uncomfortable sitting here so long."
14 THEIR NEW HOME.
Will obeyed without a protest. He was
used to waiting on his brother, and very sel-
dom thought himself aggrieved by the de-
mands on his services. Tom was the clever
one," as they all owned; so that it was natu-
ral to make much of him, and so keep him
in a good temper. As for Tom himself, it
did not occur to him that he was selfish, and
no one had ever told him so. If any one
had suggested to him that Gracie or Will
would be equally glad of the rug, he would
have responded, "Oh! they don't care about
it. If they'd wanted it they'd have got it
down before I did."
By degrees one after another began to nod.
Tom gradually rolled over towards his father,
and was soon fast asleep with his head lean-
ing against Mr. Allison's shoulder. Gracie
dozed off in her corner; Mr. Allison's head
sank forward on his breast; and Will, who
had a whole seat to himself, lay down full
A JOURNEY AT NIGHT. 15
length upon it, and was soon dreaming of
bears and rattlesnakes and other dangerous
creatures that he expected to see in the far
Past stations, stopping at some and dash-
ing through others, on and on in a continuous
rattle and roar, that grew twice or three
times as loud for a few seconds every now
and then as an up-train passed them on its
way to London. And then all at once dreams
were ended, and the father was shaking his
boys into wakefulness.
"Tom! Will! Rouse up! Here we are at
last! This is Southpool."
16 THEIR NEW HOME.
JUST IN TIME.
T HERE was another train journey, but only
a short one round the suburbs, and then
the Allison family were at the docks, where
the boys stared about them enjoying the
strangeness of the scene, while each every
now and then pulled his brother by the
sleeve to make him look at some fresh object
Their father had enlisted the services of a
man with a cart, and a very bony and spirit-
less old horse, for the conveyance of the few
boxes that contained all their worldly goods
to the steamship Madeira, which was now
lying alongside the quay embarking passen-
gers and luggage for New York.
Mr. Allison and Gracie were walking be-
side the cart, while the boys followed a few
JUST IN TIME. 17
yards behind. Tom, however, found every-
thing so new and delightful that he lingered
behind his brother.
"Oh, I say, look here! he cried from time
to time; but Will plodded steadily on, bent
on keeping the others in sight, and half afraid
to turn his head to left or right. He was
not imaginative nor excitable, and on the
whole felt a little nervous and out of his
But for Tom it was like a scene of enchant-
ment. In the glimpse he had had of the
town he had seen nothing of its dirt and
misery. What he saw were beautiful build-
ings like palaces, with their plate-glass win-
dows filled with the productions of the whole
world, great warehouses floor over floor with
open doors, and cranes lowering or raising
bales and casks; and hurrying crowds all
bent eagerly on some business or pleasure.
The rattle of the vehicles reminded him of
18 THEIR NEW HOME.
London, though no part of London that he
had ever seen had been half so full of interest.
But it was the docks with their forests of
masts that struck him the most. Look,
Will," he cried; "just look at the ships!".
Will was out of hearing, and almost lost
among the people, and, feeling that he could
easily join the others when he chose, Tom
stopped to stare about him.
He was bewildered. It was so exciting
that at first he wished for nothing better
than to stand and stare. But by degrees
Tom's love of enjoying himself, and of getting
the most of everything that came in his way,
brought an idea into his head.
"Oh, I must have a look round!" he said,
half aloud. "There'll be plenty of time to
see the steamer afterwards. It's a pity to go
on board too soon."
The time was growing short; the Madeira
was already snorting and panting as if im-
JUST IN TIME. 19
patient to be off for its long run across the
ocean. On the heavily-laden deck were throngs
of visitors bidding their friends good-bye,
while the mate in charge of the deck was
impatient to order the ringing of the bell, for
the tug-boats were already waiting with
steam up ready to make fast as soon as the
great vessel had been warped away from the
Tom might have known, if he had thought
about it, that there was not much time to
spare; but there were so many curiosities to
see that all other considerations went straight
out of his head. Without reflecting on the
anxiety his absence would cause when he was
missed, he wandered away along the wharf.
One of the first things that attracted his
attention was a great steam-crane lifting
cotton bales and swinging them on to trollies.
Then there were three black sailors at work-
men so black that their shiny faces looked to
20 THEIR NEW HOME.
Tom as if they had been cleaned with boot
Oh, what a pity I didn't bring old Will!"
he said to himself. "I'm having all the
In one place men were busy filling sacks
with beautiful yellow Indian corn, of which
a great heap lay on the quay; and all kinds
of other goods were lying around, some ready
to be shipped off to other countries, some
just as unloaded from the vessel which had
brought them, waiting to be carried away to
A little further on was an open gate with
a red-faced man standing by a kind of sentry-
box. He was so busy talking with someone
that he did not notice Tom, who walked in.
He found himself at the edge of a great
basin with lock-gates. Round it, or nearly
all round, were huge warehouses, marked
with gigantic letters.
JUST IN TIME. 21
Then the ships!-ships of all nations, but
chiefly from America, though that the boy
did not know. Some, indeed, that he saw,
were from the West Indies, and the fat,
sticky-looking casks that puzzled him were
full of sugar.
"Oh, I say !" cried Tom, under his breath
once or twice-once at the sight of a ship
about whose deck some odd-looking men
were lounging. The first glimpse of them
made him think of tea, and it did not sur-
prise him when his eyes directly after fell on
a pile of square tea-chests, such as he had
seen many a time before.
How long had he been rambling about
among all these wonders? He had been so
interested that he could not have said whether
it had been for an hour, or three, or four.
But all at once the sound of a clock striking
made him start, and remember how time was
passing. The steamer was to leave the quay
22 THEIR NEW HOME.
almost directly, and his father, Gracie, and
Will were on board!
"Oh, I say!" he cried, now in a tone of
dismay; and turning hastily from the sights
that had so fascinated him he ran forward
along the edge of the basin. He could not
believe he had come so far. It seemed as if
he would never reach the gate, though he
almost flew over the ground, possessed with
a horrible fear.
Suppose he should be left behind!
The gate at last! He darted through,
meaning to go straight back to the stage
where the Madeira was moored, and where
he had parted company with Will.
But the next minute he stared about him,
confused and half-frightened. Here was
indeed a sort of sentry-box like that he had
passed when he went in, and there was a red-
faced man, too; but he was not the same!
All was strange. He did not know his way,
JUST IN TIME. 23
-he would not be able to get back in time-
perhaps even now they were off without him.
He ran to the red-faced man and asked to
be directed to the Madeira. The man looked
at him in astonishment.
"Oh, you're far enough away," he said.
She starts. from right the other end. Better
go round outside the wall here."
"Thank you, sir. Yes, I see," poor Tom
panted out, setting off at a run. But a shout
from behind brought him again to a stand-
"Hi! Stop! You'll miss her if you go that
way. You must run along back same way
you came, after all, and out by the other
gate. Look sharp, or you'll be too late."
Tom had not time or breath to thank him
this time. He dashed in again, and ran past
the ships and their cargoes now without see-
ing them. In his frantic haste he ran up
against men, who growled at him and called
24 THEIR NEW HOME.
him names which he did not hear, for he was
blind and deaf to everything but the picture
his fancy painted for him of the great steamer
moving rapidly away out into the open sea.
He could see his father, sister, and brother
standing on the deck, and himself on the
quay, left behind through his own foolish
conduct, helpless, despairing, and alone.
On and on he ran, and somehow the other
gate was passed, and he was asking his way
again, going wrong, being redirected, until
at last, panting and almost sobbing, he stood
on the wharf in the midst of a dense crowd.
What was he to do next? A bell was ring-
ing, and people were pushing their way here
and there, so that he was thrust aside. In
desperation he seized a big bronzed sailor-
like man by the coat and told him what he
"What! Going by her! Look sharp, then,
or you'll be left! Here-hi!-Jun-ketch
THE NEW HOME. 25
hold!" he shouted. Here's a young un just
come by telegrarft. Hyste him in!"
And Tom felt himself seized and dragged
through an opening on to the deck, just as
a gulf yawned beneath his feet, and it seemed
that the wharf moved slowly backward with
the people. But it was the steamer moving
grandly and steadily away, as a cheer rose
from the quay, and was echoed from the deck
of the Madeira.
THE NEW HOME.
THREE months after this Tom Allison
opened his eyes on a fine September
morning and saw the sun shining on his
bed-room wall. Such bright clear sunshine
he had never seen in the old home in Lon-
26 THEIR NEW HOME.
don; but he had grown accustomed to it now,
and thought no more of it than of the pale
sickly yellow gleams that used on very fine
days to penetrate to the street where they
lived when they were in London.
He knew by that golden patch on the wall.
that it was time he was up and dressed, and
he had besides a dim recollection of sleepily
hearing Will say "Tom! Tom! get up!"
Will's place in the bed was empty.
"What a good old chap Will is!" thought
Tom in a dreamy way. "I wish I were half
There was a sound of the crackling of
burning wood, which told him that his bro-
ther had already lighted the fire ready for
Gracie to cook the breakfast. Tom ought to
have been there at the same time to fill the
kettle. So strongly did he feel this that he
dreamed he sprang up and hurried on his
clothes as quickly as possible, and when he
THE NEW HOME. 27
opened his eyes a few minutes later he felt
astonished and disappointed to find himself
still in bed.
From the sounds of some one moving in
the next room it was evident that Gracie
was dressing. His father was already out
and busy, for Tom could hear him whistling
at his work.
He turned over on the other side. "I
really thought I was getting up," he mur-
mured. "I suppose I ought to, anyway;" and in
two or three seconds he was asleep once more.
When breakfast was half over he appeared
in the kitchen, with an attempt to look as if
he were not ashamed of himself, which was
not quite successful.
Come, come, Toma," said his father, why
don't you get up when the others do, and
make yourself useful, eh?"
I meant to," he answered. "I will next
28 THEIR NEW HOME.
"Ah! that's what you always say," Mr.
Allison returned; and there the subject
dropped, for neither Gracie nor Will re-
proached him for leaving them his share of
the household work. This forbearance on
their part shamed Tom into being far more
energetic than usual for the rest of that day;
he fetched in any number of pails of water
for Gracie, who had some clothes to wash,
without grumbling or handing the business
over to Will, and was, Gracie said, "very
nice altogether." For a little unselfishness
from Tom counted as much as a great deal
from anyone else.
The Allison family were all a good deal
altered in the short time that had elapsed
since they left London. Mr. Allison looked
younger and stouter, Gracie had a healthy
colour in her cheeks, and the boys were
brown and sunburnt. They all appeared
well and happy.
THE NEW HOME. 29
Their new home was not like anything
they had imagined before they came. It
was a little low house built of pine logs, with
small windows, and very few rooms-all on
the same floor-namely, a kitchen, a small
sitting-room not yet furnished, and three
bed-rooms, all on one side of the house, one
opening into the sitting-room, and the other
two into the kitchen. All was very simple
and bare-boxes doing duty for chairs or
tables, and very little beside actual neces-
saries to be seen anywhere.
Since they came out some additions had
been made to their possessions in the shape
of live stock-a cow, which Gracie was now
able to milk, and of which she was very fond;
a fox-terrier called "Punch," which was
more especially the friend and companion of
the boys; a horse of the name of "Jerry;"
and a rare number of fowls.
Gracie had learned many things in the
30 THEIR NEW HOME.
last two or three months. She made all the
bread, as well as the butter, and was fast
learning to be an excellent cook, having re-
ceived some useful instructions from Mrs.
Gray, who lived a mile and a half away, and
took a kindly interest in the young house-
keeper, whom she was willing to help in any
way she could.
They had given their little home the name
of "The Aspens," because of the quaking
aspen-trees which grew so plentifully behind
the house down by the creek, and this name
Will had painted in large letters over the
I hope if we get on well we shall be able
to build ourselves a better place by and by,"
said Mr. Allison one Sunday, as he and
Gracie strolled round in the sunshine; "but I
don't think we shall like it better than this."
Gracie sighed. I wish Mother were here
too," she said in a low voice, slipping her
THE NEW HOME. 31
hand into that of her father. He pressed it
in return, and said nothing. Perhaps if they
had come out here sooner Mother might
have been with them still!
"Perhaps," said Mr. Allison after a pause,
" it is the want of her influence that is mak-
ing Tom grow so selfish. I don't like to be
always finding fault with the boy, but I wish
I could see him a little more considerate of
other people. You must put in a word with
him when you can."
"I do try," said Gracie. "But I don't
think he means to be inconsiderate."
He has a way of shuffling things off on
to poor old Will."
But Will doesn't mind, Father-at least,
"All the more reason why we should look
after him and see that he isn't imposed upon."
"Yes," answered Gracie a little sadly. She
felt it a rather difficult task that was given
32 THEIR NEW HOME.
her, for she was not very much older than
Tom, after all. And while Will did not
complain, it was so much simpler to let
Oh, that's all right! I thought perhaps
he was idling about doing nothing. Well,
look here; as soon as you've brought in two
or three pails of water from the creek for
Gracie, I want you to catch Jerry and ride
him up to Gray's-"
Will began to smile. It was plain he
liked the task.
AN ERRAND. 33
"Yes," he said quickly.
And ask Mr. Gray if he can let me have
a sack of oats till to-morrow or next day.
You can bring it down on Jerry. We're out
of them, and I'm going to town this after-
noon to get some things, which will come
first time anyone drives up. Let's see-old
Wale generally drives in on a Saturday-I
can get him to bring them-so that I shall
be able to send it back in a day or two."
"All right, Father! I understand."
"And while you're there ask them if they'd
like some fowls. I could let them have a
couple or two any day."
Will nodded, and waited to see if any
further instructions were forthcoming. His
father knit his brows in thought.
"There was something else," he said slowly;
-" oh, to be sure! Ask Mr. Gray to be as
good as to give you the name and address of
the man he was talking to me about the last
34 THEIR NEW HOME.
time he was here. He'll know what I mean.
Baker, or Barker, or something like that.
You'd better get him to write it down, or
you'll forget it. That's three separate things
-oats, poultry, address. That's all."
Thus dismissed, Will ran off, still smiling
Having procured two wooden pails from
the kitchen, he set off to the little stream
that ran by not far away to fetch water for
cooking and household purposes.
On his way he passed Tom, who was vig-
orously chopping up wood for burning in
the stove; work that he had undertaken to
avoid being asked to carry in the water,
which duty he generally contrived to leave
to his brother. He was working in his shirt
sleeves, while Punch sat near keeping guard
over the jacket he had thrown on the ground.
Will, returning with the filled pails, set
them down when he reached where Tom was
AN ERRAND. 35
busy, and stopped to rest and take breath.
At that Tom left off and straightened his
back, with the chopper still in his hand.
"Hallo!" he exclaimed, as soon as he saw
his brother's face. "What are you laughing
"Was I laughing?"
"Yes, of course you were. You look as
pleased as Punch about something."
Will glanced at the dog, though in fact
Tom's expression was a mere figure of speech,
and had no connection with that intelligent
I've got to ride Jerry up to Gray's; that's
all," he said meekly.
Tom threw down his chopper in an in-
"Oh, I say, Will," he cried, "do let me
go! I never hardly get a ride. I'll carry
the water in if you'll let me, and you can do
the rest of the wood."
36 THEIR NEW HOME.
"Father said I was to go," said Will, with
a shade coming over his face.
Oh, he won't mind which goes as long
as it gets done!" cried Tom; which statement
the other knew to be perfectly true. "I'll
tell him I'm going instead of you before I
start, so that if he objects he can say so.
You just tell me what there is to be done."
Will was disappointed, but not surprised,
and gave way, as his habit was, without any
show of ill temper. After a little hesitation
he repeated the instructions he had received,
watched Tom carrying the pails with him to
the house, and then, stifling a sigh, picked
up the chopper and set to work..
A gallop across the prairie to the farm a
mile and a half away would have been very
delightful on this fresh bright morning, when
the rain that had fallen on the previous night
and the cool breeze tempered the heat of the
sun, which, though it was October, was still
AN ERRAND. 37
at times very great. The change from the
ordinary round of work was what both the
boys liked, and both were very fond of riding.
Will was still feeling rather like a martyr
when he heard his brother's voice shouting:
"Hi! Will! Will! Come and help me to
catch Jerry; there's a good chap. 1 can't do
it by myself."
The boy picked up an armful of the chopped
wood and carried it into the house on his
way, for the inclosed space of ground where
the horse was lay on the other side.
Jerry was apparently enjoying himself
where he was, and seemed quite deaf to all
Tom's entreaties that he would "come up."
The field, which was nothing more than a
piece of uncultivated ground surrounded by
a wire fence, was large enough to make it a
very hard matter to secure an animal which
had made up its mind not to be caught.
"Now you keep a little in front, and when
38 THEIR NEW HOMI.
he bolts from me you'll be able to get him,"
cried Tom, as they both gently approached
the horse, which was now standing quietly
in a corner of the field.
But Jerry was too artful to wait until they
were near enough to carry out this plan, and
set off at a trot sooner than they expected.
Upon this they ran after him, when he in-
creased his trot to a gallop.
About an hour afterwards the two boys,
hot, tired, and out of breath, led Jerry
towards the house to be saddled. It had
taken them all that time to make the capture,
and they were both in consequence rather
"That's too loose," said Will, watching as
his brother adjusted the saddle.
"Get out! said Tom in a tone of disgust.
"Do you think I don't know as much about
it as you do ?"
Will said no more, but looked after him
AN ERRAND. 39
as he trotted away, feeling by no means
inclined to go back and finish the wood. As
he walked slowly round the house his father
Make haste and get all your work done,
and then you can walk in with me to
Selhurst this afternoon if you like."
This was almost as good as riding up to
Gray's. Will nodded and hastened his steps,
but he did not suspect his father of being
observant enough to have guessed something
of what had occurred with regard to the
fetching of the oats.
Meanwhile Tom cantered up to the ranch,
delivered his messages, and started to return
with the sack across Jerry's back, just before
him. But before he had traversed a quarter
of a mile of the return journey he met with
a very unexpected misadventure. How it
happened he could scarcely tell at first; but
all of a sudden he and the sack came with a
40 THEIR NEW HOME.
crash to the ground. There was a kind of
scramble and clatter of hoofs, and Jerry was
galloping away across the prairie. Tom
rose to his knees, feeling giddy and confused
and a good deal shaken; but when he tried
to stand up his right ankle pained him, and
he was glad to sit down again on the ground.
As he collected his scattered thoughts he
realized that it was the ill-secured saddle
which, slipping all at once from its place,
had brought about this disastrous result.
What was he to do? There was Jerry
disappearing from sight in the distance, and
here was the sack of oats on the ground.
His ankle hurt him, though it did not seem
to be broken or actually sprained. He sat
rubbing it and looking the picture of misery.
As his eyes wandered dejectedly round
there appeared, jolting over the stony road,
one of the conveyances known in that part
of the world as "buck-boards," driven by
AN ERRAND. 41
a man whom, as he came nearer, the boy
recognized. He lived not far off, and here,
where houses were scarce, everybody knew
"Hallo!"' he cried, pulling up; "what's
the matter ?"
In a melancholy voice Tom related what
had happened. "I ought to go after Jerry,"
he said, but I don't know what to do about
"The sack? Oh! I'll leave that at your
place for you as I go by."
"Oh, thank you!" cried Tom, colouring
with pleasure at this unexpected help. "And
will you tell them all about it, and that I've
gone to find Jerry?"
The man nodded. "Which won't be an
easy matter, my young friend," he said.
42 THEIR NEW HOME.
WHERE IS TOM?
G RACIE sang to herself as she cooked the
supper that evening. Though she had
to work very hard to keep all straight and
clean and comfortable, she was not unhappy;
for she was well and strong, and those she
loved were well and cheerful too, and these
two conditions go a long way to make girls
like Gracie content.
Supper was to be ready at five, the usual
hour for the evening meal at "The Aspens." It
was now a quarter to five, the cloth was laid,
and there was a very agreeable smell pervad-
ing the kitchen. This odour proceeded from
the frying-pan, in which were being cooked a
fowl cut into pieces, and some slices of bacon.
Gracie, wearing a big blue apron, stood by
the stove with a fork in her hand, now turn-
WHERE IS TOM? 43
ing the pieces of meat in the pan, now look-
ing expectantly from the window, whence
from where she stood she could see some
distance down the road. At present there
was no one in sight.
"Time they were here, Punch," she said
to the fox-terrier, who was sitting before the
stove watching her every action. He wagged
his stumpy tail in reply.
"Supper just ready and not a sign of any-
body," she sighed a few minutes later. "And
it's raining, I believe. How the wind whistles!
It will be a miserable night."
She put some more wood on the fire,
thinking that Father and the boys would be
wet, cold, and tired.
"I wonder Tom's not back!" she said
next; for she was getting tired of being
alone, and found it a kind of relief to talk
to Punch and hear her own voice. "And
Father's not generally so late as this when he
44 THEIR NEW HOME.
goes into town. He must have been kept by
something. I wish they would come."
Punch gave a kind of long sigh, and stretch-
ing himself out laid his chin on his fore-paws
and shut his eyes, as though he had given
up expecting anyone for the present. It was
growing too dark now to see them coming;
but Gracie knew that the dog's sharp ears
would detect the sound of voices even while
yet some distance away, so she knew there
was no one yet near. Coming to the conclu-
sion that the meat was done she put it into
a dish, which she covered over with another
and placed it where it would keep warm.
Then, having assured herself that the roast
potatoes were not growing cold, she lighted
the lamp and drew a chair to the fire, fetched
a small box to put her feet on to keep them
out of the draughts that came curling and
sweeping round the floor, and read a chapter
of an interesting book which Will had brought
WHERE IS TOM? 45
her the last time he went to the post-office.
Now and then sudden gusts of wind drove
the smoke down the stove-pipe and out into
the room. It was evidently going to be a
All at once Punch sprang up with a short
bark and wagged his little tail again most
energetically. Then Gracie knew that at
least one, if not all three, of the absent ones
were not far off, and she closed her book and
laid it on the settle at the end of the room.
She had been so absorbed in it that the
last quarter of an hour had flown by un-
A few minutes after Mr. Allison and Will
came in, rubbing their hands and beating
Supper ready, Grace?" asked the father,
while Will hastened to bolt the door to shut
out as much as possible of the wind that
rushed in while it was opened. "There's a
46 THEIR NEW HOME.
very good smell at any rate. "Where's
Tom?" and he looked sharply round.
"Not come in yet," said Gracie, preparing
to take up the steaming food.
"Not come back!" Mr. Allison paused in
the midst of divesting himself of his over-
coat and comforter. "That's bad. Such a
night, too! Bitterly cold for October. Where
on earth can the poor lad have gone "
"Shall I go and look for him, Father?"
asked Will, taking down his cap again from
where he had hung it on a nail in the door.
"Where would you go to? No, no, my
boy; that would be no good. Two of you
missing instead of one, that's all. You
haven't an idea in what direction he may
have gone, and you'd only be wandering
about for hours, while perhaps he was here
snug and warm nearly all the time. We'll
have our supper, and he'll drop in sooner or
WHERE IS TOM? 47
So having dried themselves by the fire
they sat down without him. Then there
were the letters from England to bring out
-two or three from old friends for Gracie,
one each for Tom and Will, and others for
Mr. Allison, which he had read through
hastily at the post-office, and which had to
be slowly re-read during the meal. Then an
exchange was made, and each read the
other's letters; so that, taking into considera-
tion that the long walk had been good for
the appetite, the supper occupied a long
space of time. Yet, when it was over, no
Tom had appeared.
"It's very odd," said Gracie as she put a
good supply of chicken and bacon on to a
plate, covered it over with a basin, and set it
near the fire to keep hot. "How hungry
and tired the poor boy will be! "
From time to time someone went to the
door to listen, opening it only an inch or two,
48 THEIR NEW HOME.
though even then enough draught rushed in
to make the flame dance up and down inside
the chimney of the lamp. But all was still
save for the sound of the wind in the leafless
quaking aspen-trees outside.
"He's stopping up at Collis's or Gray's or
somewhere," said Mr. Allison suddenly, as
Gracie, who had just finished washing up
the supper-things, sat down by the table to
go on with her work of putting a patch in
one of Tom's flannel shirts. "They've per-
suaded him to stay because it's dark and
such a bad night for finding the way home.
Depend upon it, that's it. I wonder I never
thought of that before. Of course he would!
We'll go to bed at ten. If he isn't here then
he won't come to-night."
Gracie sighed and- looked uneasily towards
the window, straining her ears once more.
She could not help feeling nervous and
fancying all kinds of dreadful things that
WHERE IS TOM? 49
might have happened. It would be so easy
to miss the way on a dark night. She
imagined him wandering hopelessly here and
there, leading the tired horse, and getting
further and further from any human habita-
tion. Then she thought of bears and wolves
until the colour fled from her cheeks, and
the stitches blurred into one another and
mixed themselves with the little squares of
check in the pattern of the flannel.
Will moved about restlessly, while Punch
lifted his head and sleepily followed his
movements with his clear brown eyes. The
boy, too, was anxious, though, like his father,
he did not say so.
Mr. Allison appeared to be reading the
local paper which he had brought in with
him, while in reality his mind was occupied
with Tom, and the various reasons that might
have made him so late. It was not unlikely
that the horse had strayed so far that it was
50 THEIR NEW HOME.
impossible to get all the way home that night,
wherefore the boy had wisely put up at some
ranch till the morning.
"It is very strange. I wish he would
come," said Gracie again as she looked regret-
fully at the plate of supper now getting some-
what dried up.
Say, Father, won't you let me go up just
as far as Gray's and see if he's there? asked
His father shook his head.
"No, my boy; if he had got as near home
as that he would have come on here, unless
it was too dark to find his way, and if so it's
too dark for you to find yours up there."
The time crept on and ten o'clock arrived.
Mr. Allison made a movement as if he were
going to bed, but Gracie looked up with an
entreating "Just a little longer," and he
But there was no Tom, and at last they
WHERE IS TOM? 51
had to give him up, hoping that the first
thing they would hear in the early morning
would be his brisk knock on the bolted door.
They all lay awake long, ready to start at
every sound, and full of fears for his safety,
until sleep came and made them forget every-
thing for the time. In the morning they all
greeted each other with blank faces, while
the first words spoken were:
"He hasn't come, then?"
However, it was daylight, and something
could be done. The rain had ceased, and the
sun was shining, and nothing seems so bad
by sunlight as in the dark hours. So they
ate their breakfast in pretty good spirits, and
as soon as it was over father and son started
out to look for the absent one.
An unpleasant surprise awaited them.
They had not gone many yards from the
house before they saw the familiar shape of
Jerry quietly grazing just outside the field,
52 THEIR NEW HOME.
which he was prevented from entering by
the wire fence that usually kept him in.
Mr. Allison and Will looked at each other
in consternation. What could this mean?
Jerry had come home, but without Tom.
They had to go in again and tell this news
to Gracie. Then it occurred to Mr. Allison
that he might now ride instead of walking,
and so save time in looking for the missing
boy; but this proved impossible. The horse
was evidently thoroughly tired out, and had
besides contrived to knock itself about a good
deal in its wanderings. The saddle, too, was
found to have sustained some damage. So
Jerry was left in the field as usual, and Will
and his father started out in different direc-
tions on foot to make inquiries at the various
ranches and elsewhere, whether anything had
been seen of Tom.
IN CHASE. 53
TOM trudged across the prairie in the direc-
tion Jerry had taken, looking about on
all sides, but as yet keeping to the roadway,
hoping soon to catch a glimpse of him not
far off quietly grazing.
Having now leisure to think, he could not
banish an uneasy feeling that what had just
happened served him right.
"If I had let Will come, there wouldn't
have been all this bother," he reflected with
a sigh. He tried to convince himself that
Will didn't really care about coming, but
then came another thought equally disagree-
able: "Will said the saddle was loose, and
I wouldn't believe him. Nothing would
have gone wrong if I'd only taken his
54 THEIR NEW HOME.
Added to the prickings of conscience he
was enduring bodily pain as well. His ankle
hurt him and made him limp, so that he
found it hard work to get over the ground.
The sun was now very hot, and scorched and
dazzled him, while a dull pain in his head
that he had felt since his fall came on more
instead of going off, causing him to turn
dizzy and miserable. The result of this was
that he became cross, and growing tired of
being cross with himself he began to abuse
He's a nasty, vicious, old brute," he said
to himself, or else he wouldn't have thrown
me off. Wait till I get on his back again,
and I'll make him remember it. Oh, I wish
I had him here!"
And he certainly did wish it for more rea-
sons than one. At present he saw nothing
of the runaway, though, as he was climbing
a hill, it was still possible that Jerry might
IN CHASE. 55
not be far off, but hidden from view through
the undulations of the ground.
"When I get to the top of this I must see
him," said Tom to himself. I shall be able
to see a long way, and he's pretty sure not
to have gone very far."
He panted on, hurrying more with the
hope of finding Jerry just over the crest of
the hill. At last he stood at the highest
point and looked around him, beginning to
search the nearest portion of the landscape,
and raising his eyes slowly until he had to
shade them with his hand to inspect the dis-
tant slopes. And there, sure enough, was the
object of his quest, but so far away as to ap-
pear only a small dark moving object seen
against the dry, dusty road. Tom's eyes were
good, and they did not deceive him.
He hurried forward, lighter at heart now
that he could see that he was at all events
going in the right direction. Once mounted
56 THEIR NEW HOME.
on Jerry's back all his troubles would be over.
A short gallop home, and then he could rest.
With that thought, and Jerry in sight, he
scarcely felt the pain in his leg or the heat
of the sun.
The wide stretch of stony road he had to
pass over grew less and less. He ran for
some distance at first, then walked fast for a
time, then more slowly, lest the animal should
take the alarm. I shall have you directly,
my beauty," he said, "and then-"
Nearer and nearer, with an eager look
coming into his face-and then all at once
Jerry pricked up his ears, threw up his head,
snorted, and started off at a full gallop, while
the boy stared aghast after him until he van-
ished completely from view.
Tom went into a rage. He stamped his
foot on the ground and clenched his teeth.
He could have thrown himself down and
cried, but he just saved himself from that,
IN CHASE. 57
though tears forced their way into his eyes
and would hardly be kept from falling.
It was too bad. Another minute and
that wretch would have been safe. And now
there was nothing to be done but to give
chase once more; for one thing was certain,
he could not go home without Jerry, even if
he did not overtake him for a week. He
must catch him by some means, for he knew
that the loss of his horse would be a very
serious matter to Mr. Allison at the present
He tramped steadily on now. There was
soon not even a log shanty in sight, and the
road was very rough, dry, and stony. There
were no tall trees to hinder the view, nothing
but grass and wild flowers and a few low
bushes, though away to the left and right
were mountains whose sides were clothed
with trees for some height, and whose tops
were covered with snow.
58 THEIR NEW HOME.
On and on, but no Jerry; and the pain in
his head was growing sharper, while at mo-
ments he could scarcely see his way. He
stopped to drink some water from a stream
that wandered along in the same direction
as the road, bathed his hot forehead, and then,
feeling a little better, pushed forward again.
At last he met a strange man driving a
waggon, and asked him if he had seen any-
thing of a stray horse as he came along.
"Yes," he said, "I guess I did-about half
an hour ago. Way off to the right of the
road;" and he pointed with his whip as he
spoke. "See that pitch of bright red oak
scrub right away on the hillside yonder? It
was somewhere about there as far as I can
"Thank you, sir," said Tom in a dejected
voice, the patch of oak looked so far away.
"Come far?" asked the man, looking at
IN CHASE. 59
"I don't know," Tom answered vaguely.
"I think so." And he started off again, while
the stranger shook his reins, and the waggon
rumbled on in the opposite direction.
He was beginning to feel hungry and
faint, though it was not yet time for a meal
at "The Aspens." However, the boys used
to go and cut themselves a slice of bread at
any period of the day when they felt dis-
posed, and Tom had never accustomed him-
self to going for long without food.
He began to wonder what they would
think about it at home if he did not get back
that night; but his thoughts were somewhat
misty and confused, and he fancied he must
be going to be ill. The sun which had been
scorching him was now hidden behind thick
dark clouds that had slowly risen up from
the south, while the air grew chilly, and a
cool breeze sprang up and swept over the
grass. It would certainly rain before night.
60 THEIR NEW HOME.
It seemed impossible that it should take
him so long to reach the point he could see
so clearly. The fact was, he was dropping
into a slower and slower rate of progress
without knowing it.
I don't know what's the matter with me,"
he said, stopping short and putting his hand
to his head. "I feel so funny."
He had scarcely said it, when the sky and
mountains all seemed to become blurred and
joined together; he stretched out his hands
to save himself, but there was nothing to
grasp hold of, and he fell heavily in the road
and lay still.
CARRIED AWAY. 61
T HE clouds grew darker, the air turned
cold, and the wind began to blow more
strongly. A few drops of rain fell, pitter-
patter, on Tom's clothes.
For a time not a solitary wayfarer passed
along that lonely road. At last there was
the rumble of wheels, and a rough vehicle
came slowly along. On the seat in front
were a young man and a boy, the young man
Cl'k! Cl'k!" he cried to the horse, shaking
the reins to rouse it to more active exertions.
"If she doesn't bestir herself, Stevie, we
sha'n't get into shelter before the storm
"We sha'n't, if she does," said the boy,
glancing upwards and stretching out his
62 THEIR NEW HOME.
hand to catch the falling drops on his palm.
"I say, Alf, what's that lying in the road?"
Sack of something dropped off a waggon,
most likely. Come up, Maggie!"
"It doesn't look like it to me. Looks
more like a man."
The other was silent a minute, looking at
the object more attentively. "Yes," he said
directly, "it's a man, or a boy. Has he gone
to sleep there, I wonder, or is he ill?"
While they were gazing and speculating
they reached the spot where Tom was lying,
and the driver pulled up.
"Here, catch hold of the reins," he cried,
springing lightly out. "I'll soon see what's
the matter with him." And going down on
one knee by the boy he turned him over, for
he was almost on his face, and examined him
"He's ill evidently; got a sunstroke or
something," he said, "What's to be done
CARRIED AWAY. 63
with him? Can't leave him here with a storm
"We must take him with us, I suppose,"
The young man shook Tom gently.
"Here, I say, my lad, what's your name?
Where do you come from?"
Tom's eyes opened, and he muttered some-
thing unintelligible. At that instant the
rain came on faster, and from only pattering
on them began to beat down fiercely and
splash up again from the ground.
"Yes, we must take him along;" and the
young man lifted him in his arms and bore
him to the cart. Here, lend a hand, Stevie.
We must hold him up between us somehow;
can't put him at the back on all the baggage
And by some means Tom, still limp and
unconscious, was lifted in and propped up
by Stevie. Then Alf" extracted a blanket
64 THEIR NEW HOME.
from among the baggage and wrapped it
round the two boys, finding a shawl for him-
self. Thus protected from the weather he
took the reins again and drove on.
This young man was Alfred Channing, an
Englishman, who had been in very bad
health, and had been advised by his doctor
to spend a year or so on the Rocky Moun-
tains. As he had plenty of money there was
nothing to prevent him, so he took the ad-
vice, and as his young brother Steve had a
great desire to go with him, and was also far
from strong in England, these two had come
out here to the west.
Alfred Channing's idea was that they
should do everything for themselves, and be
perfectly independent, and gain as much
experience as possible in a short time. They
had therefore built themselves a little log
shanty among the mountains, near a small
town, and had made it fairly comfortable,
CARRIED AWAY. 65
and wind and water tight, ready to live in
during the winter; but while the fine weather
lasted they preferred to travel to see the
They were already far on the journey they
had planned, which was to take them as
much as possible away from all towns and
villages. So far it had been pleasant enough,
but they had had fair weather.
Now the rain poured down persistently,
and it was getting towards evening. Alfred
Channing, who had been this route before,
had in his mind's eye an old deserted log
hut, towards which he was making his way.
They soon came to where the road branched,
and here he turned off on the narrower of
the two tracks, which was scarcely worth
calling a road at all.
"I say, what a weight he is!" said Stevie,
who found it hard work to keep Tom from
slipping from his place, his brother being a
66 THEIR NEW HOME.
good deal taken up with driving, and keep-
ing a keen look-out for the hut which was
to provide them with shelter. The road
grew worse and worse, and as it was a steep
ascent their progress was very slow.
As usual, when travellers are getting tired
and altogether uncomfortable, hardly a word
was said. They jogged on and on, and Alfred
got out and walked, leading the horse, which
was thus lightened of part of its load. Up
and up, higher and higher, and at last-
"There it is!" said the young man in a
tone of relief. I was beginning to be half
afraid I had come the wrong way. Are you
"Rather," said the boy. "But I'm afraid
he's wetter, and I can't help it."
In and out among the pine-trees for a little
longer, and then they drew up by the cabin,
which was a desolate-looking place enough,
but a very welcome sight under the circum-
CARRIED AWAY. 67
stances. There was nothing whatever within
but some of the last winter's snow still un-
What a lucky thing I knew of this little
shanty!" said Alfred as he lifted Tom again
in his arms. "I'll carry our visitor inside
out of the wet the first thing, and then we'll
get up a fire as quickly as we can."
And before long a splendid fire of pine
logs was blazing away near the hut, and the
travellers were making cocoa over the flames,
while Tom, his wet clothes removed by his
new friends, was lying in the hut rolled up
in dry blankets, in a kind of half stupor, half
"Let's see if we can find out who he is,"
said Alfred after they had refreshed them-
selves with cocoa, bread, and corned-beef,
while he held Tom's wet jacket to the fire.
He was feeling in the pockets, but the only
paper he found was the one which Mr. Gray
68 THEIR NEW HOME.
had given him, with the address, "Robert
Coalville!" he said; "why, that comes in
our way; we can take him on and leave him
where he belongs. If we have good weather
we ought to reach Coalville in a week, or ten
days at the furthest. I wish I were a bit of
"Robert Baker," repeated Steve. "We
can call him Bob, for short. Oh, I daresay
if he's well wrapped up he'll be all right by
But when the morning came Tom was
tossing about in a high state of fever. The
heat of the sun, the excitement he had gone
through, the fall and blow on his head, fol-
lowed by the wetting and chill, had combined
together to make him very ill, and he re-
mained, as Stevie expressed it, "off his head."
IN THE SHANTY. 69
IN THE SHANTY.
W E'LL stay here to-day, give Maggie a
rest, and take rest ourselves, and.see
how our patient gets on," said Alfred Chan-
ning as he and Stevie ate their breakfast,
which consisted of bacon, cocoa, and bread
which they had made themselves.
"He doesn't seem to get on a bit at
"I've been thinking it out, Stevie, and
I've settled it in my own mind how he came
to be lying where we found him. His home's
at Coalville, evidently, and for some reason
he's been eastward, and he was trying to
tramp back home, getting a little food at
the ranches as he came along, and sleeping
in the barns. He's put his address in his
pocket in case of anything happening, so
70 THEIR NEW HOME.
that his people should hear of it. Well, then,
he got a sunstroke or something, from walk-
ing in the hot sun without having had a
good breakfast to begin with, and dropped
in the road."
"How clever you are, Alf!" said Steve
admiringly; "I should never have thought
of all that myself. But I don't see what we're
to do with him if he keeps ill."
"We might give him a couple of quinine
pills," Alfred suggested. "What do you
think? They couldn't do him any harm."
"I don't know," said the boy, who was
used to being consulted whenever any dif-
ficulty arose. Suddenly he was struck by a
bright idea. I say," he said eagerly, "why
not give him some beef-tea? That's what
Mother always used to give me when I was
His brother burst out laughing. Where's
the beef to come from, you goose?"
IN THE SHANTY. 71
"Won't the corned-beef do? We've plenty
"H'm--well, it might be better than no-
thing. That's a happy thought of yours, my
boy. We'll make some, and see what it's
And as soon as they had finished- the meal
and washed up and put away the things,
they set to work on their invalid cookery.
Steve extricated the sauce-pan from amongst
their baggage, and put in it the water that
was left in the kettle from breakfast, while
his brother was busy opening a tin of salted
beef, and cutting it into conveniently-sized
pieces. Between them they soon had this
new kind of beef-tea stewing over the wood
It will want to go on boiling as long as
possible, until there isn't a bit of goodness
left in the meat. You look after it a while,
Stevie, and I'll come and relieve you pre-
72 THEIR NEW HOME.
sently. Keep the fire up. I'll just stroll
round and see if I can get a shot at a bird
or anything for dinner. Sha'n't be far off.
Whistle if you want me." And the young
man, after looking at the invalid and assuring
himself that there was no change in his
condition, started off with his gun, and dis-
appeared among the pine-trees. The crack-
ling of dead twigs under his feet came now
and then to Stevie's ear, telling which direc-
tion he had taken.
The boy sat by the fire watching the
sauce-pan, ready to snatch it off if it should
show signs of boiling over. He was a slight,
active-looking lad of about the same age as
Tom, with a thin, much-tanned face, bright
intelligent dark eyes, and short curly hair.
Ill-health had given him a somewhat old
expression for his years, though he was well
and strong enough at the present time.
"It's very miserable for him to be ill so
IN THE SHANTY. 73
far from his home," he said to himself, for
his thoughts ran continually on Tom. After
a while he grew so anxious to look at him
again that he lifted the sauce-pan from the
fire and set it on the ground, while he went
softly into the cabin.
The invalid seemed to be asleep. He was
lying rolled up in the blanket with a pillow
under his head. His face was flushed, his
eyes closed, and he lay very still. The other
boy bent over him, gazing at him curi-
"I wish he'd come round and talk," he
said with a sigh; but as there was no indi-
cation of that event coming to pass he went
back to his cooking.
The beef-tea progressed but slowly. Either
it would boil over or it would not cook at
all, and between these two extremes Stevie
was always in difficulties. Alf did not re-
turn, and he grew very tired of his task.
74 THEIR NEW HOME.
He persevered, though, and by the time
he had nearly roasted himself he came
to the conclusion that it must be done,
for the meat was boiled to rags, and set it
aside to cool. That done he went back
into the cabin and sat down by the sick
Tom had opened his eyes at last, and en-
couraged by this Steve asked him:
"Do you feel better?"
Tom muttered something incoherently;
but it was apparent that he had not heard
or understood. Soon what he said became
more intelligible, and his companion listened
Oh, let me go, Will-there's a good chap.
You shall go next time."
Then followed something that was scarcely
audible, dying away into silence. Steve
shivered, and a strange creepy sensation came
over him. He had never before heard any-
IN THE SHANTY. T3
one talk without knowing what he was say-
ing, except when once or twice his brother
had spoken in his sleep.
All at once Tom started up on his elbow.
"There he goes!" he cried excitedly, "over
there where you see that patch of red oak-
brush. Quick! Will, help me to catch him!"
He stopped and stared about him, then lay
down again and was quiet.
Stevie had shrunk away at first, half-
frightened. He recovered himself directly,
however, and asked: "Who's Will?"
There was no answer. All was so quiet
that his own voice sounded unnaturally loud,
and he could hear himself breathe.
He sprang to his feet with a stifled cry,
his heart beating violently. He had become
so nervous that it was a minute or two
before he realized that there was nothing the
matter. He had merely heard Alfred's gun
76 THEIR NEW HOME.
-a sign that he would bring back a bird or
two in his hand.
"That's lucky," said the boy, getting over
his fright, and walking to the doorway of
the cabin he stood looking out. The clouds
were gathering now, and up here the air was
keen and cold, though it was warm enough
in the valley into which he could see, where
was flowing a little willow-bordered stream.
Round about in all directions rose the hills,
some high enough to be snow-capped. It
was a wild and beautiful scene; but Steve
scarcely thought of it, being more occupied
with wondering what game had fallen to his
brother's gun. This was rather an interest-
ing subject, for even a boy with the best of
appetites will get tired of salt meat in time.
"Hi! Stevie, look here!" cried a voice
from so near at hand it made him start; and
there was his brother, carrying a couple of
wild ducks by the legs.
IN THE SHANTY. 77
Hurray! How jolly! What a long time
Alfred threw down the birds and leaned
his gun against the wall. "Well, how did
you get on? And how's our friend Bob?
This is the beef-tea, is it? What does it
taste like?" and he stirred it round and took
a spoonful. "H'm-rather salt, but not bad.
Give me a cup and I'll dose the patient with
it. He must be half-starved."
Stevie turned with him into the cabin,
and watched him while with some little dif-
ficulty he induced Tom to drink. The young
man had had no experience of illness, and was
rather at a loss how to deal with anyone who
could not understand what was said to him,
"There!" he said proudly, having accom-
plished the feat and made the patient lie
down again, and he rose to his feet and stood
looking at him with an expression of almost
comic perplexity. "Well, this is a fix! I
78 THEIR NEW HOME.
wish anybody else had picked him up! To
be saddled with an invalid when we've more
than enough to do to take care of ourselves.
I tell you what we might do: put him out
in the road, and go on. Somebody's sure to
The boy glanced quickly at his brother,
and then laughed. "I really thought you
meant it, for a moment," he said.
One thing's certain, we can't go on stop-
ping here," said Alfred the next minute.
"Whether he's sensible or not, to-morrow
morning we'll move on, or we sha'n't get
round home before the severe weather comes.
We can pack him up in the back of the cart
pretty comfortably, and he won't hurt. And
the next town we come to we'll see if there's
a doctor to be found-that is, if he isn't
A PUZZLE. 79
A FTER many strange dreams, which for
long, long afterwards remained indis-
tinctly in his memory, Tom Allison opened
his eyes one day and looked about him.
Was he still dreaming?
He was lying on a kind of rough bed with a
blanket over him, in a tent, alone. The sun
seemed to be shining outside, and it was
broad daylight. The ground, or as much of
it as he could see, was covered with grass,
and a few red and yellow leaves were scattered
here and there. He raised his head a little
to take in more of the scene. There was
another red blanket not far off, and a pillow
similar to the one on which his own head
had been resting; also an empty cocoa-tin,
two or three tin plates, and knives and forks,
80 THEIR NEW HOME.
a tin cup, a great plaid shawl, an old news-
paper, and a book which lay open on the
other blanket, as though someone had recently
been lying there reading. On one of -the
plates were two or three small fish, apparently
alive not long ago.
"Where am I?" said Tom aloud. His
voice sounded hoarse and feeble, and when,
having made up his mind to get up and see
what was the meaning of all this, he tried to
rise, he found he could not, he was so weak.
He lay still, then, completely bewildered.
It seemed that he had just awoke from sleep;
but what he had been doing before he went
to sleep he could not in the least remember.
He listened, and at first heard nothing;
but after a few minutes there reached his
ears the sound of human voices not very far
away. This was encouraging. He called out:
"Will! Gracie! Father!"
But he was not surprised that no answer
A PUZZLE. 81
came, for such a voice could not certainly
penetrate far. "It's very odd," he said
to himself, and lay quietly thinking it all
over as though it were some complicated
riddle which had been given him to guess.
Why had they left him alone? Surely
Will might come and tell him what had
become of the cottage and the furniture, and
explain to him what it was that had taken
all the strength out of him so that he could
not move. He began to feel ill-used, and
grew half-angry, vowing to himself that he
would pay old Will out when he got a chance.
Then a boyish laugh in the distance came
faintly to his ears. The voice was so very
unlike Will's that he thereupon gave the
riddle up in despair. "I am asleep all the
while," he said, and closed his eyes again,
hoping that the next time he opened them
the scene would have changed and he would
find himself in his own bed at home.
82 THEIR NEW HOME.
He dozed off for a few minutes and then
started awake once more. This time some-
one was half-reclining on the grass a yard
away, apparently reading the book he had
noticed before, but he had his back towards
Tom. All the latter could see was that it
was a boy with dark curly hair, and certainly
He lay quite still, watching; convinced
now that it could not be a dream. After a
little while the new-comer turned over on
his face, resting both elbows on the ground
and his chin in his hands, and reading in that
way for some five or ten minutes. Then,
growing tired of that position, he rolled
round on to his back and held the book
above him. But soon his arms began to
ache, and he turned over again on his side,
laying the volume on the grass and support-
ing his head with the palm of his hand; but
this time his face was towards Tom.
A PUZZLE. 83
So far he had not once looked up, for the
story was so engrossing; but now, obeying a
sudden impulse, he lifted his eyes and they
met another pair intently fixed upon him.
For a few seconds the two boys remained
quite still, staring at each other. Then Steve
sat up and clasped his hands round his
"Hallo!" he said softly.
"Hallo!" said Tom, not quite knowing
what else to say in his bewilderment. Then
he waited for matters to explain them-
"You're better, then? asked Steve, almost
awkwardly; for though he knew Tom well
enough in a state of unconsciousness, he felt
strange and half-shy with him now that an
intelligent light was shining in his eyes.
"Am I? Tom returned feebly. I didn't
know I was ill."
"Oh, but you were, though! You've been
84 THEIR NEW HOME.
awfully bad. Off your head, and all that
sort of thing."
Tom gazed at him wonderingly.
"Then who are you?" he asked after a
"I'm Steve Channing; from England, you
know. And you're English too; I knew that
as soon as you spoke. Have you been out
here long? What part do you come from?
London, I guess. Well, I am glad you're
better, and so will Alfred be too."
Here was a new enigma. As he paused
Tom gathered up enough energy to inquire:
"He's my brother. There are only us two
here, you know-Alf and me." As Tom
made no remark in reply to this information,
he added: "We've tried at two different
places we've come through to find a doctor,
and couldn't; so we shall have all the credit
of curing you ourselves."
A PUZZLE. 85
Tom's brow knit as he made a strong
effort to remember how he became ill and
what had passed just before, but it was of no
use. He could recall nothing of the day on
which he had lost Jerry.
"I don't understand," he said at last.
"Where are we?"
"Only about two or three miles from
Coalville. We shall go through it to-morrow,"
said Stevie in the cheerful tone of one
announcing some good news. "Then we
can drop you at your place if you tell us
where it is."
Instead of showing any pleasure or grati-
tude, Tom only stared. It was hard work
to talk as yet, so he lay quietly trying to
grasp what he had heard, to arrange it into
order and arrive at the meaning of it. He
had never heard of Coalville, and -had no
idea where it was, so that the mention of it
threw no light on the subject. He had been
86 THEIR NEW HOME.
very ill; that explained his weakness and
inability to move. But what had made
him ill, and why he was among strangers
and in a strange place was still a mys-
"I say," said his new friend suddenly,
"are you hungry? "
Tom shook his head. "Tell me more
about things. Where's Coalville?"
"Where is it? Why, you ought to know
better than I do when you live there."
"I don't," said Tom promptly. "I live-
I live at-but the name that he was seeking
for was not forthcoming.
You seem to have forgotten who you are
and where you live, and everything; and
Stevie burst out laughing. "Well, I'll tell you.
Your name's Robert Baker, you live at Coal-
ville, and you were-"
"It isn't, and I don't," cried Tom as
loudly as he could. "My name's Tom Alli-
son, and I live at the The Aspens" on the
road near Selhurst."
Steve's mouth opened, and he looked at
him petrified, just as Alfred entered the tent
and stood staring in scarcely less astonish-
ment from one to the other.
P HEW!" Alfred whistled a long, low note
of surprise. "So you've come to your
senses at last, young fellow! I say, Stevie,
the fire's still burning. Go and rake it up,
and make hot some of that chicken broth
that's left. The boy's faint and starving."
Steve ran to obey. He saw now that the
exertion of talking so energetically had been
too much for the invalid in his reduced state,
though at first he had been too excited to
88 THEIR NEW HOME.
notice it. Tom was lying back speechless,
with a blue look about his lips and his eyes
While his brother was gone Alfred pro-
duced a bottle, and poured a little wine into
one of the tin cups; then having diluted this
with as much water he induced the patient
to swallow the mixture, which somewhat
"You only want well feeding up, and then
you'll be as right as a trivet," said the young
man as he corked up the bottle again, look-
ing all the time thoughtfully at Tom. "I'm
sorry we shall have to part so soon. I feel
quite proud of you as a proof of my skill in
doctoring. The very first experiment is per-
fectly successful. I shall have to go into
the medical profession one of these days.
But I should have liked to finish the business
when I was about it. It's like painting a
picture and leaving the finishing touches to
somebody else. No, don't speak. Wait and
rest a bit, and then you shall talk as long as
And as he saw that Tom was eager to
repeat the explanation he had been giving
to Stevie, he moved away and busied himself
in setting things straight, folding the blanket,
picking up the knives and forks and stray
articles and putting them together. This
done, he went outside until Stevie brought
It was not till the next day that Tom
gathered up strength to talk much; but at last
he was able to relate all about himself and
his misadventures, and he learned in return
all that his new friends had to tell. To his
horror he soon gathered that many many
miles of mountainous and woody country lay
between him and his home. Meaning to do
him a kindness, they had brought him far
enough out of his way.
90 THEIR NEW HOME.
"I must go back directly," he said in
excited tones, raising himself on his elbow
and looking eagerly at his companions.
"They will be so frightened and wonder
whatever has become of me."
"How will you go?" asked Alfred Chan-
"Walk," said Tom. "There's no other
way. I might get a lift somewhere. I must
do it somehow as soon as ever I can."
They had not moved camp that day, as
the weather was unsettled. At this moment
the rain was pattering down on the roof of
the tent. Alfred raised his hand in sign to
him to listen.
Do you hear that? The weather is break-
ing up. You won't be fit to walk a mile for
some time yet. You don't know your way,
and if you did you would be certain to lose
it after the first fall of snow, even if it were
not too deep to walk through. Now, just
put that idea out of your head if you please.
If your people were bothered about you, you
may depend they've got over it by this time.
You're going the rest of the way with us,
and from our place the rail goes on to
Selhurst. We'll see you into the train and
then you'll be all right."
Tom lay down and considered. "That'll
take weeks," he said despondently. But he
saw the truth of what had been said, although
the thought of the trouble that the loss of
both him and Jerry must have caused at The
Aspens made him impatient to be up and to
feel that he was at least getting nearer home,
however slowly. "Didn't you say we should
get to Coalville very soon? he asked.
"Could I post a letter there to tell them
I'm all right?"
"No post-office. There is at the next
stopping-place, though, further on. So as
92 THEIR NEW HOME.
soon as you're able, which you certainly are
not at present, you can write one ready."
For a little while after this there was no
sound but the patter of the rain on the
canvas. Alfred was musing, Steve reading.
At last Tom said, in his weak, uncertain
"I'm a miserable wretch."
Stevie laughed aloud. "We're not going
to contradict you. Why?"
Tom could not answer. There was some-
thing very like a tear in his eye, and he
turned his face the other way.
The next day they travelled on, and
passed through Coalville, where they pro-
cured a fresh supply of provisions, for after
that they had a long stretch of uninhabited
country before them.
Now that he had once begun to mend
Tom progressed rapidly, and did some jus-
tice to the feeding up which the Channings
insisted on. They had come to look on him
almost as if he were their property, and
were triumphant over every fresh sign of
returning strength. The first time he
walked a-few steps Stevie positively danced
They journeyed on very slowly, a few
miles a day, camping for the night wher-
ever there was grass for poor Maggie, who
was having a hard time of it, and was
beginning to show signs of being overworked.
Once or twice they remained in camp the
whole day to give her a rest, but Alfred
was unwilling to do this unless compelled.
The map of this part of the country
which they had with them was a good deal
studied just now, chiefly by the eldest of the
little party, whose face wore a grave and
almost anxious air. He talked little, and
made no jokes-a sign that he was some-
what troubled in mind. He returned short
94 THEIR NEW HOME.
and absent answers when spoken to, and
looked often attentively at the sky.
The fact was, he knew that in attempting
to cross the country so late in the year he-
was running a great risk, and the responsi-
bility of two young boys dependent on him
and trusting to him entirely weighed on his
spirits. He had nothing to fear but the
weather. If it kept fine all would be well;
if otherwise and at that point in his
thoughts he would check himself and try to
get Maggie to go a little faster that no time
might be lost.
All went well, though, for some distance,
until one day, when they were crossing a
broad, open valley, while before them on
the horizon stretched a long range of moun-
tains, Stevie said in a tone of dismay, "It's
beginning to rain."
He was walking beside the cart to lighten
the load for the horse, and had turned up his
face to the sky. Alfred Channing nodded;
he had seen it coming.
"Can't help it. We must not stop. We
must get on as fast as we can, rain or no
The drops pelted down faster, and the sun
having gone behind the clouds the air became
"But we shall be so awfully wet!" said
Steve in an ill-used tone.
Alfred was silent. Tom, who was sitting
beside him well wrapped in the big plaid
shawl, shivered and looked uneasily at the
great mountain range that must sooner or
later be crossed. He was growing cold and
benumbed in spite of the warm shawl, and
longed to stop and help to make a fire. But
a glance at his companion's face showed that
it wore a look of strong determination.
They jogged on for another mile or so
almost in silence. Stevie at first tried to
96 THEIR NEW HOME.
talk, but getting very short answers, as he
grew wetter and colder, he subsided into a
drowsy state, and trudged on like a kind of
After a while he roused himself, and
"I say, Alf, do stop and camp now."
"Not just yet," he answered shortly.
They went a bit further. Then it was
"Hadn't we better give it up for to-day,
sir?" he asked almost imploringly.
"When we're obliged," was all the young
"I'll get out and walk then," said Tom
gloomily. I'm almost too cold to live."
And he joined Steve, for he could walk
pretty well now, and the exertion did him
Not a word was said until a little later,
when, the rain turning to hail, Maggie
BAD TIMES. 97
seemed to think it was her turn to complain.
She stopped short and refused to move.
Alfred flicked her with the whip, but she
only shook her head. He talked to her
soothingly, trying to encourage her to go on,
then shouted at her, but all to no purpose.
He looked round at the boys with a vexed
"All right! Maggie must have her own
way. Here's a pretty good camping-ground
off to the right, so we'll stop here till to-
EVERYTHING was so wet that it was
difficult to make a fire, but they suc-
ceeded in doing it at last, and the sight of
it made them feel a little more cheerful,
while, when they had boiled and partaken
98 THEIR NEW HOME.
of some hot coffee, they felt in somewhat
better spirits. But it was wretched work at
the best camping out on wet ground, and it
required some effort that night not to give
way altogether to depression and irritability
"It would have been much better to have
stopped when the rain began. Then we
should at least have had a dry floor to sleep
on," grumbled Steve, the wetness of every-
thing making him cross.
We couldn't afford the time," said his
brother. "Any day snow may come on, and
if it does we shall be in a fix. We must
push on at all costs while we can."
He seemed so much in earnest that the
boys were half startled, and said no more.
The next morning broke gray and cold,
but without rain, and Alfred was up early
preparing breakfast, for he was resolved to
be off without further loss of time.