The Baldwin Library
_.,...- ** .* | Tt Trn ''
i' ."s i
AUTHOR OF "THE MAGNET STORIES," "LITTLE CAPTAIN," ETC.
JOSEPH KNIGHT COMPANY
BY NIMS AND KNIGHT.
A few of the stories in this volume appeared originally
in THE CONGREGATIONALIST, and are now re-issued in book
form by courtesy of its publishers, to whom the author here-
with makes grateful acknowledgment.
tt[JOHNW itSN AD SO ss
JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBRIDGE.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Two BLIZZARDS . .
MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG .
KATRINE'S PHOTOGRAPH .
PETER PIPER . .
JOHNNY MORGAN'S CONCLUSION .
THE YELLOW MAGICIAN ..
. . . 89
. . . 107
. . . 129
. . . 143
SDON'T know whether anybody would like
to hear how it all came about, but day
and night I cannot think of anything else;
and mother thinks perhaps it will be a relief
to me to write everything down while it is
fresh in my mind, -for if I don't, she is
afraid I shall have to dig a hole in the ground
and whisper it in, like the fellow who told
about king Midas's ears.
Z: ,' -
.= - -- --- -. L ^ '-"
.- 11- __-; .. .
-< s l -'* *.
I know it is n't a secret to anybody that we had been gradually
getting poorer and poorer ever since our great trouble two years ago.
And though I tried faithfully to work the little farm, I
was only fourteen when father died, and ccou.ld n't quite
do a man's work. Then, besides, there \a, asl..as the -
interest on the mortgage rolling up
and rolling up, so that we just made
both ends meet the first year; and
the second, when the cow died, and
the grasshoppers came and swept .'
the poor little crops in a night, it
did look very dark indeed. There ~ -
were actually some days when we did -
not have enough to eat, Mother
and the little Squire and I; to say
nothing of Hook and Crook, who
were wonderfully sensible, and a
great comfort to us all, as you will see iiimoe clearly
by and by.
And I will tell you confidentially that we were not always very warm
either. Many a day we could not allow ourselves much more fire than
would boil the teakettle; and then mother would cry cheerfully, she was
always cheerful, -" Run out, my darlings, and jump in the sun; the 'sun
is the great fireplace of the universe,' you know." And then we would
both laugh when I said: -
It is a good steady fire, mother; but you must admit there are some
bad draughts in the big chimney-corners."
You see mother and I had a way of joking together that made every-
thing seem brighter. We made it a rule never to complain, and I don't
think our best friends ever suspected what a very large skeleton we had in
our closet. This was because we always kept it in the closet, no matter
how hard it was to squeeze it in and shut the door; for mother taught
us, in her funny way, that the people who do this are much more decent
and good-mannered than those who insist on having it at the dinner-
table, and introducing it to every guest.
I may as well say here that mother had come of a very good family
at the East, and although she has lived on this rough little Western farm
for nearly twenty years, she is always the same little lady. I think she
would rather die than be disagreeable.
r- .- Ii ~i
It was well that I had quite an education before father died, for I
had no time to study afterwards, except in the evening; and then I was
too tired for books, and was always more fond of working with my chest
of tools, father's Christmas gift to me the last happy year he was
My chief delight was in fashioning little models of steam-engines
of every kind and description. They say that when I was a very small
boy and my father had taken me into Duluth, where I saw, for the
first time, a train of cars come thundering into the depot, with the loud
exultant scream of the whistle, I fairly rolled on the ground in ecstasy,
and could hardly be torn from the spot. And when I was older, and
two or three times, by great favor, gained admittance to Brake and
Wheeler's machine-shop, I took no note of time, nor ever remembered
that I was cold or hungry. I only knew I loved all the whirring wheels,
and the smooth, gliding belts, and the beautiful bright, intelligent pis-
tons; and in a very short time I understood it all from the cylinders
and condensers, and throttle-valves and stop-valves, down to the smallest
screw and pivot -as well as the oldest workman there.
Father always said I should be an engineer, and he did n't doubt
that I might even be an inventor some day. But everything was
changed when he died, and I just broke my heart trying to like plough-
ing and planting, and all the still, patient ways by which Nature slowly
does her little grain-by-grain work, like an ant. One's heart beats so
strong and fast when one is young that sometimes I had to cry like a
baby on the kind old horse's neck, before I went home to laugh with
mother and the little Squire.
I think mother suspected me a little at those times, or she would
not have said so much about the lessons she hoped I was learning out
in the quiet fields. She often told me that my greatest faults were that
I was too excitable and quick-tempered; and she would remind me, if I
wished to be great, that somebody had defined genius as simply "an
infinite capacity for taking pains." All very true, no doubt; but I never
knew a boy of my age to choose, of his own accord, to go to school
to an ant.
I hope mother is going to take a great deal of comfort with Davy,
whom we all call the Squire, because he is so quaint and old in his
ways, and is already, at nine years of a'ge, much more dignified and
steady than I am.
But I shall make too long a story; I only want to say that all that
consoled me the last two years for my long, tiresome days in sun and
storm was my delightful work in the evenings. I was modelling a
miniature steam-engine; and no matter how tired I was, I always found
time to polish a bit here, and add a rivet there, the Squire always
watching every movement, and Hook and Crook solemnly sitting around
the table in chairs of their own.
But I had more need of the consolation than ever this fall, when
the crops were all gone, and we couldn't pay our interest, and Mr.
Harding threatened to foreclose the mortgage and turn us all out in the
spring. I hardly dared think of the future, and our little savings melt-
ing so rapidly away; and I spent all the short, dreary days walking into
town, going from street to street, looking in vain for employment. I
never shall forget coming home, again and again, long after the early
evening had closed in, trying to whistle cheerily as I came within hear-
ing of mother's anxious ears.
Better luck to-morrow," we would nod carelessly to each other, as
if it were the most likely thing in the world. And then, when the
plain little supper was over, the Squire would bring out the tool-chest,
and I would work away with a desperate energy, till, gradually, all care
and anxiety would be lost in the enchantment of another world.
And the engine was really such a beauty! I remember so well the
night that I finished it. It was in the Christmas holidays, barely two
months ago; but it seems like years, when I think of all that has hap-
pened since. I had sent for my friend Jimmy Jones, who lived on the
next farm to ours, and was the only boy of my age for miles around.
I often wished there had been another boy, for Jim and I differed on
so many points that we quarrelled and made utip a dozen times a week.
I daresay it was my fault as much, if not more, than his. I- am doing
wrong now to call him Jim, for since his father had his money left
him he has requested me to call him J. Parker Jones; and I am sure
I am willing to oblige him in such a little matter as that, if I could
only remember it.
I had just put the water in the boiler, and made up my fire, when
J. Parker came in. I could see, without his saying a word, that he was
J. Parker came in. I could see, without his saying a word. that he was
genuinely astonished. He had never believed it would go; but when
it moved off so like a thing alive, puffing and blowing off steam like any
grown-up engine, what a moment of triumph it was! I caught mother
wiping away a tear of pride, Hook and the little Squire went to jump-
ing like mad, and poor Crook fled wildly under the kitchen table.
I want to show you, Jim J. Parker," I said, excitedly, how per-
fect she is. See, here is the throttle-valve, and this is the stop-valve;
there is n't a thing left out. And I picked up every bit of brass and
iron myself,- been at it two years, you know."
I paused a moment for breath. I was all in a glow. I felt almost
as if I had made the world, I found everything so very good.
"You will hear of me some day, Jim," I went on; "I shall do some-
thing big, I am sure of it, -and the fame of it will go beyond this little
place, beyond Duluth. Yes, it will go beyond America, you '11 see! "
"Is that all?" said J. Parker, in a drawling way he has sometimes,
which always makes me as red as a turkey-cock. "Is that all? Why
I should think it would go beyond Europe--Asia and Africa, at least,
and perhaps clear off the planet."
I am not sure that J. Parker meant anything unpleasant, but it
was n't just what I should have liked him to say; and my head grew so
hot that, I am sorry to confess, I kicked poor Crook, who was just about
to run across the path of the engine.
But before I could say anything more we were luckily interrupted
by Mr. Masters, who runs the express wagon from Duluth, and stops
in to see us, now and then, in a neighborly way. He was wonderfully
surprised and pleased when he saw the little engine going about in
such a clever, knowing way, and he gave it such generous praise that
mother's cheeks were even redder than mine.
"There are almost two years of hard work in that engine," said
she, proudly, "and I don't know but Duncan has hammered his heart
into it too. If anything should happen to it, it would be like losing his
"I '11 tell you what, Mrs. Harwood," said Mr. Masters, nodding his
head sagely three or four times, "you will never make a farmer out
of Duncan; he is a square boy in a round hole, and the corners will
always be chafing. If you got him in the right place, now, he 'd be
worth a fortune to you. I only wish that head was on a boy of mine,
and I'd see that it went where it would do the most good. Stay a
moment," he cried, clapping me on the back with hearty good-nature,
"why did n't I think of it before? There's a chance open to you now,
if you don't let the grass grow under your feet. I heard this very day
that a young man was wanted at the car-works. That young Peters,
who was assistant book-keeper and a kind of general factotum, is down
with consumption, poor fellow, and Brake and Wheeler are looking for
somebody to take his place."
Brake and Wheeler! I cried, while my heart fairly stood still for
joy. Could it be possible I had heard aright ?
They have appointed to-morrow, between twelve and one, to see the
applicants. Now, if you but no, yot are too young."
"Sixteen day before yesterday," said mother, anxiously. And such
a look as we gave each other!
Sixteen," repeated Mr. Masters, stroking his chin. Pretty young,
but he's wonderfully well-grown; he '11 be a large man, like his father, and
he has got as good a brain as many a man of twenty-five. I '11 tell you
what," he said, with another kindly clap, it won't do any harm to try.
You just be on hand to-morrow, and take that lively little engine with
you. Ask for Mr. Wheeler himself, and show it to him. You need n't say
much: the engine will talk for you; and if he does n't think you are a
boy worth holding on to, I miss my guess."
Oh! thank you, Mr. Masters; I will certainly be there," I said, trying
to speak calmly, for Jim was watching me every minute with a kind ol
amused smile that vexed me. But my tongue was so dry I could hardly)
speak the words. Nobody there could begin to imagine what this chance
meant to mother and me, poor mother! who was sewing her eyes into
wonderful embroideries for the fine ladies from the town.
There is quite a nice salary too, I forget exactly how much," said
Mr. Masters, rubbing his head in vain for the missing figures. Mr.
Wheeler is a liberal man, especially when he takes a fancy. But don't
let anything hinder you in the morning, my boy. I would come for you
myself, but I have an errand in the other direction to-morrow. Remember
there will be a lot of hungry fellows on hand to fight it with you."
"Never fear, Mr. Masters!" I cried. There won't anything on this
round ball keep me back. I '11 be there if I have to run a race with a
I thought only lightning could take that job," chuckled Mr. Mas-
ters. "When a blizzard says How d'ye do?' in Minnesota, you had
better run for the nearest station, and telegraph, 'A little knocked up, I
thank you,' right on to New York or Boston, if you expect to catch
it;" and Mr. Masters laughed loudly, in huge appreciation of his own
But how about the work, Mr. Masters?" said J. Parker, with quite a
friendly interest, after all. Wouldn't it be pretty hard, -a little rough
on a fellow no older than Duncan ? "
S" It might be for some fellows," said Mr. Masters, looking over J.
Parker's slight figure till he colored with vexation; but I guess it won't
prove too much for the partner of a blizzard;" and with another ha! ha!
he was gone.
Of course it is unnecessary to say that I slept very little that night,
but was up every hour or two to see if there was the faintest streak of light
in the east. At last I could bear it no longer, but arose and dressed my-
self long before sunrise, and spent the hours of waiting till the house-
hold should be astir, in oiling and polishing my beauty. When I could
find absolutely nothing more to do, and it shone and twinkled, and laughed
and winked back to me, as much as to say, Rely upon me, old fellow;
we are sure to get this place between us," I wrapped it carefully in old
flannel, and packed it in a box secured with a stout string. I remember
that after all was done -with a strange desire I could not resist--I
untied and unrolled it all again. It was beautifully put together, although
I know I ought not to say so myself, and the works were almost as fine
and true as the machinery of a watch. Ah, my beauty! to think that that
was the last--but I must not anticipate.
It was a cold morning, the coldest we had had, and the sky was dull
and overcast ; but I thought the sun was shining, till mother spoke of it.
The Squire begged hard to go with me; but I would not hear of it,
though he had enlisted mother on his side.
He is a tough little fellow, you know, Duncan," she said, and he
wouldn't mind the six miles' walk any more than you would. And you
could leave him with Mr. Masters's son at the station while "
"No, mother, he might hinder me; I will not run the risk," I said,
decidedly; and Davy crept away quite broken-hearted, and did not come
out of his hiding-place even to say good-by.
I think I should have started before light if I had had my own way;
but mother kept me for a good warm breakfast, and then she must mend
and brush my best suit, which was seedy enough, I must confess. So
that it was. almost nine o'clock before I fairly got started, all in a trem-
ble with anxiety and impatience.
The first two miles I skimmed over like a bird, and though my box
was quite heavy, I felt it no more than a feather. The fact is,. I was
walking in enchanted land, wrapped up in dreams and castle-building. If
the door had been opened into Aladdin's garden, where all the trees bore
emeralds and rubies, I should hardly have
been astonished, so much mi.ht clm 11"
this chance and the more c'nLgeial sur.unid-
ings. Perhaps I might even b'co.,me ar, ih-
ventor, as father had said; and then bwhat ia
golden shower might dris p from the Fpantt it
Why might I not build
a beautiful house for --
mother some day ?
Why might she not
have carriages and hi
horses at her com-
mand, like the lovely '.-
ladies who drove lan-
guidly by on warm -
summer days? And
such dinners as we
should have!- with oatmeal and porridge banished forever, a joint every
day, and a turkey with cranberry-sauce for Sundays! And Davy should
go to college; he should be a doctor or a minister, whichever he liked,
I would spare no expense on his education.
And so I walked along on air, till I came to the first turn of the road,
when I was suddenly brought to my senses by the little Squire himself,
who emerged triumphantly from behind a rock, where he had been awaiting
me. Hook also was with him, full of the most extravagant joy at meeting
me, and Crook's black face and blinking eyes looked out serenely from
under his arm. I was greatly annoyed.
Now you may just turn around and go straight home, all three of
you; do you hear?" I began severely.
But such vivid disappointment spread over the Squire's happy face,
and such despair welled up in his big
eyes, that I faltered a little.
"You would n't send me back,
Duncan, dear Duncan," he said, throw-
ing his arms around my neck, "when
dik we are almost half way there? And I
S ,never, never saw the city, and I am
I / nine years old.- We wouldn't make
Sa mite of trouble, not one of us; we
l1 won't speak, if you say so, and I'll
i do everything you ask me all the rest
of my life, if you'll only let me go.
Will you say it, Duncan? Will you
.- And what will mother think has
become of you, sir?" I cried.
S"Oh! I printed a little note, and
left it on the kitchen table; and you
S know she was willing," urged Davy.
I was in great indecision. I still
Shad plenty of time to reach Brake and
Wheeler's, and Davy could walk al-
most as fast as I could; he might not bother so very much, and Hook
would be no trouble at all. If he only had n't brought the cat, which
would follow Hook and Davy, I feared, even if I ordered him to put
her down. And would n't the city folks laugh at such a party!
But how could I look into the little Squire's eyes and say no?
From what I can remember of myself, I know a small boy feels a joy
or sorrow just as much as a grown man, and mother would never let me
make light of the Squire's little world. It is just as big and important
as yours, she would often say.
Glide up and set, and all the heavens revolve
In the small welkin of a drop of dew."
Yes, it did seem cruel to dash the heaven and stars right out of
Davy's little dew-drop universe. But oh, if I had only known!
"Come on, then, if you
must," I said, ungraciously .
enough; and then walked on
in dignified silence, that he i tb
might feel the whole weight
of my disapproval. -
But the little Squire felt-
nothing, asked nothing more,
as with a transfigured face he
pattered after me with the
sweetest patience, while Hook
ran mad races to the righ-t and
And it was not very long
before I had fairly forgotten .
them all, so engrossing and
enchanting were my dreams.
To think I was really on the
way to Brake and Wheeler'sl
To think that it was possible that I might be going in and out, as one
who had a right, in that whizzing, whirling paradise; that I might be on
intimate terms with those giants, steam and electricity, more wonder-
ful than the genii of the Arabian Nights "! Brake and Wheeler! the
very name thrilled me like the call of a trumpet. I would rather be a
door-keeper in their engine-room than to sit down in one of Queen
And so I went lightly on, taking little heed of the hard, frost-locked
ground, the bare, shivering trees, the dull sky, growing inky black on
the distant horizon, and the far-stretching waste, wherein nothing seemed
moving but ourselves, except that Hook now and then surprised a little
scampering squirrel who had been searching his last summer's cup-
board for nuts.
But I was doomed to a rude awakening; another and far greater
surprise was awaiting me.
THE FIRST STORM.
W E could not have gone much more than a mile, in fact, had just
passed the big hemlock, which we always agree marks very
fairly about half the way, when I heard a clattering of horse's hoofs
behind me, and a quick exclamation from the little Squire made me pause
and turn my head. To my surprise, and pleasure too, I saw Jim J.
THE FIRST STORM.
Parker, dressed in his very best, and mounted on one of his father's farm
"Now this is kind!" I said, holding out my hand, as he drew near,
bringing old Captain to a walk. "You are coming with me to Brake
and Wheeler's, of course;" for I thought he had come to join me out
of pure friendly interest, and it quite touched me. I shall feel so much
braver," I added, "with such a creditable-looking friend to-"
"Yes, I am going to Brake
and Wheeler's," he interrupted, -...-
impatiently; "but you needn't go
jumping over the moon for my -". -- :> '
reasons. You are such an absurd,
impulsive fellow. I don't know .'
why you should think I would ----
take all this trouble simply on
your account. Why should it be -7
such a strange thing if I followed -
your example, and did a little look. 'I~
ing out for myself? "
I don't understand," I said,-, e
"Oh! of course not; you don't
intend to. You want to make it -
as unpleasant for me as possible
Well, then, the fact is," said Jim, growing quite red in the face, -" I may
as well say it, I am going to Brake and Wheeler's- to-day, and I am
going to try for that place myself!"
"Oh, Jim, you can't mean it!" I cried.
"Why not, I should like to know? he said, getting still more
red and angry. Of course you don't like any interference with your
plans. You meant to go on and be a fine city chap, and leave me
behind, drudging on the farm. There is nothing fair and generous
in you, Duncan. But, as I understand it, Brake and Wheeler want
somebody who can take a hand at book-keeping, if necessary. And I was
always quicker at figures and could write a better hand than you, as you
know, if I couldn't go on hammering a bit of brass and iron two or three
years, like a heathen Chinee;" and he gave a contemptuous glance
at my box, which suddenly grew as heavy as lead. "It is only right
that I should have my chance, anyhow," he added, doggedly; "and I
mean to take it."
Such a cruel surprise as it was, when my whole heart had been
going out to him so gratefully! Was it any wonder' that,''after such
a fall as that, my whole inner self felt bruised and sore, and all my
thoughts were black and blue?
"There is nothing fair or right about it, JimJ I cried, passion-
ately. "You don't begin to need this as'I do; it will just kill me if
I don't get it, and you know it. I never could have believed it of
you, such deceit and treachery!"
"That is about as reasonable as I expected you to be," said Jim,
coldly. If your friends will only lie down and beg you to walk over
them, they are all right; but if they would like to share a few inches
of the road with you, they are wretches only fit to be hanged. Well,
I am willing to let Brake and Wheeler decide on our merits. Go
'long, Captain;" and he shook up the reins.
"All right," said I, drawing myself up very straight and squaring
my shoulders; "I also am quite willing;" and I walked on proudly.
I know what you mean," cried Jim, as red as fire. "I may not
have quite so many pounds of flesh and blood as you, but there are
other ways of weighing a fellow."
"Oh, I did not mean that, Jim!" I cried; "and truly, I would have
scorned to take such an unworthy advantage.". But he would not listen.
You may remember," said he, our reading about the little 'Mon-
itor' in the war,-how she steamed out with nothing much but her
smoke-stack above the water. Not very much of a show, but in a little
THE FIRST STORM.
while the great proud 'Merrimac,' towering so far above her, was gone,
stove in, a sunken wreck! But the little Monitor' steamed on.
So perhaps there isn't quite so much of me above the sea-level as
there is of some others, but I give you fair warning look out!"
I understand, Jim; I won't forget," I said, bitterly.
"Well, don't waste any more breath getting in a passion," he
drawled, in that slow way I disliked more than words can express.
"You have quite a walk before you, and I think it is fixing for a storm.
Better trot along, or you'll hardly get in in time, with all your retinue
besides;" and he gave a derisive laugh at my faithful little Squire, who
had dropped Crook, and stood with clenched fists and cheeks like fire.
Well, good-by, 'kits, cats, sacks, and wives!' I hope you'll get
there." And away he clattered, leaving us far behind.
All my wings were gone. I felt like one in a nightmare, who is
climbing interminable stairs, and never can get any nearer to the top.
But I must try to struggle on, for the skies were indeed growing very
dark, and a low, moaning wind had arisen, sweeping over the bleak
fields with a sound that was desolate beyond expression.
We must go double-quick, Squire," I said to the child, who had
grasped my hand, and was watching me with as much devotion and
confidence as if I had been Napoleon or Julius Caesar. And on we
plodded, too breathlessly to allow him to give vent to the indignation
that was filling his faithful heart.
As we came in sight of the clump of pines which marked the entrance
to a shallow ravine -and beyond which we should catch our first glimpse
of the spires and turrets of the town, not more than two miles away- a
frightened horse came suddenly dashing by us, which I was startled to
recognize as the one Jim had been riding. He was always a vicious brute,
and had thrown Jim once or twice before. I am afraid I was not so sorry
as I should have been at first. If Jim had escaped with slight injury, as
before, it would not have been altogether unpleasant to see him performing
the rest of the journey on foot, like ourselves. But all other feelings were
swept away in alarm when, on rounding
lying motionless on the ground. Davy
the pines, I saw a dark figure
and I were beside him in a
moment. He had struck upon his side and head, and was quite insensible.
For one dreadful moment I even thought he was dead; but I found his
,~ :" -
THE FIRST STORM.
heart was beating faintly, and the Squire and I fell to rubbing his cold
hands and limbs with all our might. How long we worked over him I
cannot tell; but it seemed ages before, to our inexpressible joy, his lids
faintly quivered, and then his eyes opened wide.
What is the matter with you all ?" he cried testily, pulling away his
hand, and looking around in a confused away. Then he tried to scramble
to his feet, but immediately fell back with a little cry. I have sprained
my foot somehow," he said. How on earth did it happen; and how did
we all come to be here? O-h !" said he, beginning to come to himself,
" that old brute must have thrown me again. How long have I been here,
Duncan ? Was I insensible ? I wonder what time it is "
I gave a great start. It does not seem possible, but, I give you my
word, I had not once thought of Brake and Wheeler since I caught sight
of Jim on the road ; but now everything came back with a rush. I pulled
out father's old silver watch, and found, to my horror, that it was plump
half-past eleven. Not a moment was to be lost. P
You would n't think of leaving me, Duncan, just as helpless as a baby
on this lonely road cried Jim, as I picked up my box and ordered Davy
to fall into line.
Why, what can I do, Jim ? I said, I could n't carry you into town,
could I ? And there is hardly a chance of anything coming along till
night, when the country people drive home. Now, the best way is for me
to hurry into Duluth and send a wagon out for you. Don't you see ?"
Oh, yes! but the wagon won't start till you've finished your business
at Brake and Wheeler's, thanking your lucky stars that you could leave
your biggest rival behind you," said Jim, bitterly. In the mean time I
may be frozen stiff for all you care. 1 am chilled to the bone already, and
this storm coming on besides. But go on; don't mind me / Walk right
over me, you can climb the higher."
.Was ever a boy in such miserable perplexity? I looked anxiously up
and down. If only somebody would happen along with a wagon, or
without one,- some man who would know the wisest thing to do! But
the road was as deserted as if we were Arctic voyagers on our way to the
Pole. How could I lose this chance, I argued with myself, that might not
come again in years? What would mother and Mr. Masters think of my
failing, after all my boastful words? And yet, again, how could I leave
a companion in such pain and extremity?
I had a great dread of an unworthy action, for my father had taught
me that the worst of doing a mean thing is that you have got to keep
company with the fellow that does it all the rest of your life; Now, at
school I could always keep away from the dishonest boys and the ones
that told lies; but how if one almost committed murder? And I never
could get away, but had to eat dinner with that boy, and go to bed with
that boy, and stay with him in the dark, and go, shivering, with him
through woods and lonesome places! No, I must do right, no matter at
what cost. But was-I sure what was right? Oh why could n't I think?
and the minutes rushing by in such a maddening way! The big drops
were standing on. my forehead, although it was so cold.
At last I decided I might rub Jim once more, and give him a
thorough warming up; and then, perhaps, if I ran every step of the way,
I might yet save myself and him too. I flung down my box, and came
hastily back, the little Squire ready to cry from disappointment, and
Hook and Crook not behaving much better. In fact I never saw them
act so queerly and unreasonably. Hook kept catching at my coat,
running off a few steps, and then back again, whining in the wildest
excitement, while Crook, with her nose in the air, gave a succession of
hollow, dismal meows that were perfectly blood-curdling. I scolded
them both, when they should have seen I already had trouble enough;
but I soon found out that the poor faithful creatures were far wiser
than I. While I had been so absorbed with my perplexity and inde-
cision, the wind. had been rising more and more, and a fine snow had
Begun to fall. When fairly roused up to it, I was uneasy to see how
thick and fast it was coming down; and although at that moment we
were standing in comparative quiet, an exclamation from Jim directed
THE FIRST STORM.
my gaze far over the level fields to a point where the wind was whir-
ling in perfect fury. That strange moaning sound I had noticed before
also seemed to be increasing, and a feeling of dread I could not under-
stand came creeping over me.
What is it?" I said, turning to Jim, who looked as frightened as
I felt, as he watched the whirling, tossing column of something we
didn't know what-advancing rapidly in our direction.
"Duncan! he just whispered, never
turning his fascinated eyes, "what if it should [-: ____
I didn't need the finishing word. The
thought had already come to me. What if
we were caught in one of those fearful bliz- -
zards of which we had read so much, but --
which had never come in our immediate vi- -
cinity before? If so, there was not a moment :?:
to be lost! We must fly for shelter some-
where. But where ? Such a helpless party --
"Hook, my dear old fellow, what shall
we do? I cried.
He gave a quick, intelligent bark, and
bounded to the edge of the ravine.
To be sure, it was all we could do. The
soft, cruel snow was already wrapping us fold -
upon fold; we could scarcely see ten feet
Run, Davy," I cried, "run for your life down into the ravine;
stop by the little cave at the foot, and don't stir an inch till I come!"
Next,--I hope I may be forgiven, but I must tell the whole truth,
-next I caught up my precious box, and carrying it to the edge of the
ravine, called Hook to guard it.
"Watch it! do you hear, sir? I cried sternly, because he whined
in the most imploring manner, and fawned at my feet. But when I
stamped my foot at him, and cried, "Shame!" he lay down motionless,
with his faithful head upon the cover.
I then went back for Jim, who had crawled part of the way, and
taking him by the coat-collar, dragged him with all my strength to the
edge; and then I think the wind must have been upon us, for we went
whirling over and over to the bottom, which fortunately was not very
far. I quickly regained my feet, and, guided by Davy's cries, we were
soon both safely under the overhanging rock, which made a little shelter,
and where the child was .already standing, brave and sturdy,^ but very
white, and still holding old black Crook in his arms, with her frightened
head run under the breast of his coat.
"But you are not going to leave us, Duncan ? he cried, in quick
alarm, as I turned away; and he tried to hold me.
"Don't keep me for the world, Squire!" I cried, tearing myself
away. Have you forgotten the engine ?"
The engine that I had almost created, that seemed like a live thing to
me, could any one think I would ever desert that? No, there could not
be a moment's rest for me till I was sure that it also was in a place of safety.
But the noise overhead had now become deafening; there was a
terrible grinding and tearing going on all around us, and I was thrown
to my feet again and again as I went struggling up the ravine. But
my resolution never flagged. What, not get that engine? There was no
question about it. If pluck and will meant anything, nothing in heaven
or earth should hinder me. I felt as strong as ten thousand men. I
will get it I will get it!" I said to myself again and again, my heart
swelling almost to bursting as I fought my way up with hands and
teeth, like a young tiger. I remember how the snow drove against my
face, stinging like so many needles. I could not open my eyes, I had no
breath to call to Hook, but fought blindly, desperately on, till at last, alas!
the cruel wind took me up bodily like a bit of thistledown, and whirled
me dizzily around and around, till I thought my last hour had come.
THE FIRST STORM.
I suppose in reality it was only a few moments that I was tossing
about in the air before I was dropped in a snowbank not very far down
the ravine. But it seemed a small eternity, and I never shall forget the
sickening sensation. I felt as if' I had been carried clear away from the
dear old earth into a new white, smothering snow-world, where I vainly
struggled to get hold of something; and then suddenly I was'dropping,
dropping through miles and miles of space. I dream of it yet. Nobody
can imagine, unless he has tried it, the horror of feeling that nothing is
under his feet, and that he is going on falling forever!
No words can express how thankful I felt to find something solid
under me once more, and something warm moving over my face, which
proved to be dear old Hook's faithful tongue. He barked with wild
delight as I sat up and looked around me. But my one overmastering
thought was the fate of the engine.
"Where is it, sir?" I cried sternly. "Go fetch. it, fetch it this
It was pitiful, as I remember it now, to see how he cringed and
tried to beg my pardon, with his tail between his legs, and a howl of
unspeakable desolation. He had never failed me before, and I am sure
he was ready to die with grief and shame. Besides, although Hook was
a very large dog, -a cross between a Newfoundland and a Labrador, -
I ought to have known that he would be a mere feather in the wind
that tossed houses and barns as if they were shuttlecocks. But my
heart was breaking, and I struck him, and called him coward, and every
dreadful name I could think of, till he crept away under a bush, and
never stirred any more than if he had been a dead dog.
If I had known how nobly he would behave all the rest of that
dreadful day and night, I never should have mortified him so. Indeed,
I am now sure that he never left the box till the wind tore him away,
and swept him down the ravine, as it did me. I have tried to tell him
so since, but I am afraid, by the anxious way in which he often watches
me, that he is not quite sure all is understood and forgiven.
But to return to my story. How long I lay there in perfect aban-
donment of grief, I cannot tell. I am not sure that I was quite con-
scious all the time; for, as I found out later, I had struck my head
against the rock when I fell, and I think that accounts partially for the
strange confusion of my mind afterwards, which makes it so hard for
me to tell my story, from this point, clearly. But I ought not to try
to excuse myself. I shall tell the truth as far as I can, and leave you to
judge for yourself.
I remember, as I lay there, living over again all the weary
months since I first thought of the engine, from the time I first began
scraping together the metal for the smoke-stack and boiler and tender
and cow-catcher, till slowly, slowly, with the clumsy help of the black-
smith and my own clumsier tools, I had fashioned it, through hours of
patient toil, into a thing of creditable workmanship that lived and
moved and had its being all through me. And now, when it was about
to speak as well as act; when it was going to tell Brake and Wheeler,
far louder and plainer than I could have done, what was the ruling pas-
THE FIRST STORM.
sion of my life; when it was going to say with every nicely fitted valve
and hinge and rivet and screw, Take this boy; these things are all
A B C to him: you will never be sorry! "- it was suddenly dashed
away, miles and miles, where nobody could find or follow except the
wild wind that took it.
But even if I could find it, the hour was past, the chance was gone.
Some other wide-awake boy was going home, by this time, to tell his
happy mother he had got the place.
What a contrast to my joyful starting out such a few hours ago!
How hard to. make it real! My arm still ached with the weight of the
box, my fingers still tingled with the cutting of the string; and could it be
that it was really snatched from me forever! How strange! No, it could
not be possible; and I felt wildly, on every side, for the dear familiar
package. Alas, too true! Gone; nothing could change it! And it was
all owing to Jim. If Jim had not been so cruel, if he had not come
across my path, we should all have been safe in Duluth before the storm
reached us, and there would have been all the difference between paradise
and purgatory. But now -
I will never forgive you, Jim !" I said aloud, after it seemed as if I
had been thinking for years, and had grown as old as the Wandering Jew.
Hook stirred at the words, and came creeping towards me, gently
pulling my coat.
THE SECOND STORM.
AS I said, Hook began pulling at my coat. He had heard the word
"Jim," and supposed I wanted to find him ; so he ran ahead a few
steps, and then came back, in a humble, deprecating way, and gently pulled
again. At last I got up, like one in a dream, and followed mechanically,
as well as I could. I was stiff and sore, and kept stumbling into snow-
drifts up to my neck, but was always dragged out by the faithful Hook;
and so on and on, till I suddenly heard a wild cry of joy, and the Squire's
little arms were clasped around my neck like hooks of steel. I could
scarcely breathe till I had given him my solemn promise that I would never
leave him again.
And here I may as well say that I owe a great debt to Hook. I
should never have found the boys without him, although I knew every
foot of the ravine. The drifts and falling trees had changed everything
in this new ghostly snow-world, and besides, we were near the shortest
days of the year, and it was already beginning to grow dark. If I had
waited a little longer it would have been hopeless.
You were gone so long, Duncan," said Davy, with a sob he vainly
tried to suppress, and I am so cold !"
Jim was sitting at the back of the cave, with his knees drawn up to
his chin, looking very white and unhappy. He watched me every minute,
but my heart was full of bitterness, and I would not meet his eye.
"What are we going to do, Duncan?" he said presently, as I stood
without a word. I tried once to scratch up the path; but it is all blocked
up, and of course I couldn't do much with this foot. Do you think
there 's a chance of our getting anywhere to-night?"
But I stood like a deaf person.
THE SECOND STORM.
"Yes, let us get home, Duncan; do, dear Duncan!" said the little
Squire imploringly. Mother is going to have baked apples and fresh
gingerbread for tea, and I 'm afraid we 'II be late." Davy's voice quavered
There won't be any apples and gingerbread for us to-night, Squire,"
I said. We never could find our way home in this storm."
But it does n't storm," urged Davy, and the wind does n't blow
any more; it is just as still as can be. Listen! "
"Does n't it ?" said I, with a bewildered stare. There was such
a buzzing and ringing in my head as the unhappy thoughts surged to
and fro that I had never noticed any change. I should have said that
the storm was still at its height, and the trees still crashing and grinding
about me. And this sensation never left me all that night.
But as Davy was so urgent, I crept out of our little shelter, with Jim
limping anxiously at my side, and tried to see if anything could be done.
I think I struck pretty near the old path up the ravine, in spite of
everything being so new and strange; but it was so hopelessly blocked
with snow-drifts and fallen trees that the bravest struggle was useless,
even with Hook's eager help. Poor fellow! he floundered and struggled,
and finally came back to crouch, panting, at my feet, with a low, pleading
whine for forgiveness.
What are we going to do about it? asked Jim again.
We He need n't say we ;" there would never be any partnership
between us two again.. I turned away, as if I had not heard.
"But, brother -" began Davy, with big, frightened eyes.
Yes, Squire," I answered, with a cheerfulness I did not feel, we are
going to stay here all night. There is no other way, and we may as well
get to housekeeping at once. Now you take this pine-branch and brush
out the sitting-room, and I will try to make a fire; and by and by we will
see what can be done about making up the beds."
I am so cold and sleepy! faltered Davy.
"Nonsense!" I cried; there were never any babies in our family.
Brush out a nice little dry place there. Yes, that is right. Now help
me drag in some of those broken pine-boughs, and shake the snow off
them; and perhaps you could dig a little moss under the drift. A very
TX ... C,-,. -: '
. : ., ,
-- II (
little ? Well, perhaps that will do." And the little Squire, under the
inspiration of work and my confident tone; actually began to smile,
and worked away as bravely as if he had six feet of hero in him.
THE SECOND STORM.
I happily had a few matches in my pocket; and with some old let-
ters, the moss, and the pine-branches, started quite a creditable fire, which
warmed us, and raised our spirits wonderfully. And when Crook sat
down before it, and actually purred and began to lick her paws, it gave
quite a feeling of domestic comfort.
But it was growing dark very rapidly now, and I saw no time must
be lost in making ourselves as comfortable as possible for the night. So
we gathered all the pine-branches we could, Jim helping a little, although
we never exchanged a word, and shaking them dry, heaped them in the
innermost corner for our bed. Not very comfortable, you will think, but
much better than lying on the hard ground.
The last thing I did, in the failing light, was to climb the tallest tree
I could reach, and unwinding the long red tippet that mother knit for
me, tie it on the topmost branch. I hoped somebody might be looking
for us early in the morning, and the scarf might guide them; for father
used to say that a bit of red in a winter landscape could be seen farther
than any other color.
When I came down, I had a mock fight with Davy that warmed him
up nicely, and made his cheeks as red as roses. But all the time I never
spoke to Jim. And all the time I had that strange impression that
the wind was blowing fiercely, and that I could hardly hear Davy's
voice, coming to me faintly above the roar and tumult of the storm.
But one voice I heard distinctly enough, one voice that never
rested, saying over and over again: "Jim did it! Jim did it! Never
I could not look at him, although when we began to arrange things
for the night, I motioned him to the back of the bed. We must try to
get through this terrible cold and darkness alive, and I must leave the
settlement I meant to have with him till another time.
Jim obeyed me without a word; and then I called Hook, and made
him stretch his great warm, shaggy body next. Then I put in the little
Squire safe and warm between his faithful paws, and Crook, who was
purring around my legs, I laid in Davy's arms, so that he was nicely
sandwiched between the two, and I hoped that he at least would get
through all right.
I myself must watch and tend the fire, and I knew I should be
faithful, for I never felt more widely awake in my life. I was surprised
when the long, even breathing of Jim and Davy told me they had both
fallen asleep; but I did not mind the loneliness, and felt no fear, although
-- -_ _
I remember watching with fascination the glistening trees and bushes
that advanced and retreated in the red flicker of the fire as if they had
been alive, while one could imagine no end of white, ghostly shapes
skulking beyond in the outer darkness.
And once I had a veritable fright. I heard stealthy steps approach-
ing,-there could be no mistake. Hook gave a deep growl of warning;
and straining my eyes into the blackness, I saw, -yes, it was actually
THE SECOND STORM. 33
true,- I saw, shining in the gleam of the fire, a pair of what I thought
ferocious eyes looking right into mine! My heart fairly stood still;
but at Hook's deep bark, little pattering feet quickly. carried the
dreadful eyes away, and I think, now, it must have been only some
harmless animal, perhaps a sheep, driven into the ravine' for shel-
ter as we were. But it all helped to make an experience I shall never
The noise had wakened Davy; and- after I had reassured him, and
promised again and again never to leave him, he asked, in a sleepy
way: Does father know we are here, Duncan?"
"Perhaps; the Great Father does, you know," I whispered.
"Yes, I told him," said Davy, simply. Is heaven as large a place
as Paris, Duncan ? "
What nonsense !". I cried. Far and far beyond Paris, of course,
Davy. Why, nobody would think of mentioning them in the same day."
"Well, I thought I had always heard you talk more about Paris,"
apologized the little Squire, dropping off again in a troubled sleep, while
I heard Jim laughing softly in the dark.
But the question troubled me. Somehow, I wished Davy had not
thought about it just at this time. I felt of him, to see if he were warm,
and I wished-- oh, how I wished that this terrible night was over, and
that I could see him once more safe in mother's arms. I piled some
more branches on the fire, quite uneasy to see how fast my little wood-
pile was dwindling. Why had I not gathered more while I could? It
was so very dark now, in the deep gloom of the ravine, I could not see
enough to guide me, although the stars were shining faintly overhead.
Suppose the fire should go out before daylight? Suppose we should all
freeze to death before help came? Whose fault would it be?
"Jim did it! Jim did it!" cried the persistent voice.
But would it be Jim's fault alone? Could I blame him for every-
thing; or had I shown a great lack of judgment and sound common-
sense? Suppose I- had left him at the roadside, as I at first thought?
Then, instead of risking all our lives, only one might have perished.
Had it not been weak and silly,, nay, wicked, to put the little Squire
in such pe il, no matter how lightly I held my own life ? Why did n't
I remember there was more than one person to consider ? Should
mother lose both her sons thr.,uigh my mistaken sense of honor? Oh,
how would she feel 'about it? Would she ever know I had meant to
do right? Could she ever forgive me?
I thought my head would split, especially as the storm seemed to
keep on r,:,arin and grinding as fiercely as ever, although I remember
wondering at it vaguely, as I looked up to the solemn stars in the clear
sk.. If it would only stop a few minutes till I could do a little clear
Was there not a b. y.-st-rri-:., I tho.l.ght. as I slowly fea the
last twigs to the fire, ,:.ly yesterday, who had everything before him,
-hope, happi ir,-. the chance of a p..,pr-'.[ius life? But who could tiis
be, down in the cold and the dark, with ,.i-'rtling gone, perhaps even
life itself sweet life !
"Jim did it! Jim .i.l it!" said the voice, always louder than the
storm. Never forg-ie Jim! i
But even in this confusion of mind I was not going to give up life
without a siu.ggl-I. I tried hIil to think of the wisest thing to do. I
might wake up the boys and burn the bed; but that would last only a
short time, and would not :)c atr.: real gain, as they would lose all the
heat of lying packed so close together. I finally decided to try a little
I --ra..;i_4 expedition into the dl.;akness. and perhaps I might stumble
across a treasure. But alas! after groping about a long time with the
scantiest :l,-i.it-. the fading of the red 1rlaris made me scramble back
hastily, to find the fire fil.:k-rin-, dying, V.,. going out entirely, in spite
of all I could do with the :,,ld, snowy twigs. And not another match
in my pocket!
I walked up and down in di.- lair, slapping my hands to my breast
mechanically, in the el:r:t to keep warm, I had not much idea of the
THE SECOND STORM.
time, for father's watch had stopped about midnight; I had forgotten to
wind it. It seemed to me hours since then, but there was not the
faintest streak in the black sky, although I searched for it eagerly.
Presently Jim's voice rang out sharply. "There! I might have
known you would let the fire go out. I ought not to have trusted
you; but you are always so self-sufficient. How wretchedly careless!
Why couldn't you have waked me up, if you wanted to go to
sleep ? "
But I answered never a word as I walked up and down, the cold
slowly creeping into my bones till my very heart seemed turning to ice.
Before long he was speaking again.
If I could only walk like you, Duncan, there would be some hope
for me; but my ankle is swelling as big as my head. But little you'll
care," he added bitterly, "or you never would have squeezed me up
against this rock, where you knew I should have to freeze, unless I could
warm the whole earth's backbone."
Then there was a long, long silence, except always for the weary
grinding of the storm; and then Jim said, much more gently: I am
bitterly cold, Duncan. I never meant to speak to you again, but I
really think I am freezing to death. And if I do; if nobody comes
till too late, I wish you would tell mother-" He paused to cough
And now a strange thing happened. Some other boy-like the
boy I was yesterday -seemed to be walking by my side and speaking
with me; and this is what he said: Jim is his mother's only son, indeed
her only child."
I know it," I said, shortly.
He waited a little, then spoke again: "You are a great, deal
larger and stronger than Jim. His hands are like ice sometimes in
the summer, when you are glowing like a furnace. You remember that
day you went fishing together."
What of that?" I said, as cold and hard as ever.
"Perhaps you will not like to remember, some time, how much
larger and stronger "
0 1 I i-.l I I 1-:1, 1 t 1.11F,
ing hliarpl.i,, tii ling er,
fast: 1:,Lit F'I- t : I l 1:'S IV InI
i v rll .i i I,
large er a ,i- ,i ri:,n. I,e '. i
larg r I 6.'
er," ,-i thli
oth -i b.. [ill I 1"' -
cou l.-I n1r -I .l itr
any I,-n, r. -
firs: tliiiw. r- I ', _
I iia .A 1 --
c li-- -. _.. .-=_ _----___-.
was rubbing Jim desperately, and slapping him from head to foot, so
that he fairly cried for mercy; and finally, getting angry, struck out so
vigorously in return that I knew all danger of freezing was over for
THE SECOND STORM.
When, for want of breath, I could do no more I stripped off my
overcoat, and tucked it in around him, making sure that a flap went
over Davy's legs; and then I went back again to my weary walking up
and down. I knew, now, more than ever, that I must not trust myself
to sleep, nor even to sit down. But was that night only twelve hours
long; or was it a hundred years? The cold and hunger and deadly
fatigue were at last too much for me.
"I will not go to sleep," I said; "but if I do not sit down to rest
a few minutes, I shall drop in my tracks."
I knelt down by Davy, who was moaning, and calling for mother in
his sleep. I laid my head over on Hook's shaggy hide, with a strange
feeling that the storm was dying away at last, and all was sweetest 'rest
and peace; and then -I remember nothing more.
LOSS AND GAIN.
H7HEN I again came to consciousness, the dark ravine, the snow-
drifts, and the solemn stars had all passed away, and I was lying
on a cot in the very best room of our own house. It puzzled me very
much at first to find myself there, and I wondered still more at such a
pleasant fire burning in the stove, which we only could afford on the most
important occasions. But everything was exquisitely comfortable; and
when I described mother sitting, with her patient embroidery, half hidden
by the window-curtains, I wanted nothing to complete my satisfaction;
and although the picture was familiar enough, a delicious languor made
me hesitate to speak or stir, lest something should break the charm.
But as I more and more came to myself, still more and more the
wonder grew. Why should a strong young boy like me, Duncan
Harwood, be lying in bed in the daytime? And the mystery deep-
ened till curiosity got the better of me.
"Hello, mother!" I cried, "what on earth am I doing here?"
She was at my side in a moment, kissing and hugging me till I
thought I should be suffocated.
"The doctor said you would wake up all right, but I hardly be-
lieved it," she said, wiping tears of joy from her eyes. "You have been
so wild, Duncan darling, for hours, till you fell into this blessed sleep.
But you are all right now, thank God!"
Why should n't I be ? I asked in bewilderment. "And how came
I to be here in the best room,'-in the parlor?"
"There was no room too good for you, Duncan, my brave boy!"
she said. "We brought you right here as soon as the men found you.
Oh! I thought once I never should see my darlings again!" And
LOSS AND GAIN.
mother broke into such sobbing that I had to cry with her, though I
did n't in the least know what it was about.
"Such kind neighbors as we had!" said mother,. as soon as she
could speak. And the people from the. town -too -..everybody was full
of sympathy; they could not do enough. There were fifty men scour-
ing the country for you with
the first streak of dawn. Mr.
Jones and Mr. Masters set
out at night before the storm
was fairly over; and when...
they found that you never
reached the town, and when
they saw that the full fury
and havoc of the wind struck
right between us, such a I_
narrow belt, but right across .
your path even Jim's father
gave up all hope, although -
they kept on searching every
foot of the road, and shout-
ing themselves hoarse. And
they did find two men, Dun-
can," said mother, in a whis-
per, "quite dead, dashed
against rocks, and nearly -" .. .
buried in snow! And how
could they expect any other fate for three helpless boys? Oh, my
darling!" She embraced me again, while a vague memory struggled in
But just as they were giving up in despair," she continued, Mr.
Masters caught the flutter of your red scarf down the ravine, and "
"Oh, mother! I cried, for all the memory of that dreadful night
came rushing over me in a minute, and with it all my loss and cala-
mity, "do you know about it? Did anybody tell you? Do you know
about the engine, and that I did n't get the place, and how -
"Yes, yes," interrupted mother; "you have told it about fifty times
in your raving."
And the Squire, mother? I said, suddenly sitting up, with a -reat
fear clutching at my heart. It had just come back to me how I knelt
down by him in the deadly cold and darkness; and then such a blank
Could it be possible that I had gone to sleep? that I didn't keep
awake to take care of him?
_____ -. --- .
Sound as a nut," said mother, smiling; "not even frost-bitten.
He is out this minute, playing with Hook in the sunshine. He got
off the best of any of you."
And Jim? I asked, almost holding my breath to hear the answer.
He is doing well, they say," said mother, somewhat coldly, "but
he has a touch of rheumatism."
A great load was lifted from my mind. To think we were all
alive! That ought to be enough to be thankful for; and yet I lay
back feeling strangely tired and depressed.
LOSS AND GAIN.
But here mother made me swallow something that sent me off to
sleep again; and after that she would not let me see a person, or say any-
thing more than yes or no, for days, until I felt that I must speak, or my
heart would break.
You must be dreadfully disappointed in me, mother," I burst forth
at last. "You know I boasted even a blizzard should n't keep me; and
perhaps I might have kept my word,- I might have been safe in town,
- if I had had a little more decision and character."
"No," said mother, who, I afterwards found, had learned most of
the story from Davy; I don't see how you could have left Jim in such
Then you do not think it was so wrong? I cried eagerly. You
forgive me, mother ?"
"Forgive you!" she cried, "when I am so proud of my brave boy
- my hero ? Shall I ever forget how they found you, with Jim and Davy
all wrapped up and safe, while you, Duncan, without any coat, were
lying there, cold and white as marble, and almost over the border-land?
Oh, my darling!" she cried again, with such kisses and caresses as only
a mother could give.
And if you knew how the men worked over you, Duncan! The
world could not spare such a hero, they said; for it was only your bravery
and clear head that had saved the lives of the whole party. Such a cheer
as they gave you when they brought you home! I think I shall hear
it all the rest of my life. Oh, I am a very proud woman, Duncan!"
I was ready to die with shame to hear all this praise when I did n't
deserve a bit of it. I could not rest until I had told her everything, and
how different I was from the noble person she thought me. I did not hide
anything, but told her how the strange storm had raged on and on, and how,
all the time, I felt as if I hated Jim. Mother grew very sober as I spoke.
My darling," she said, "you were in far greater peril than I dreamed.
I did n't know you were at the mercy of two blizzards at once, and that
life was threatened at every point! You may not see it now, Duncan,
but the. storm within was far more dangerous than the one without. I
thank God that honor and bravery and unselfishness, though terribly
torn and twisted, were not carried quite away."
"But I am afraid they were, mother. I don't want you to think it
was I put the coat over Jim; some power outside myself made me,-
that other boy, you know-"
Then I must kiss that other boy," said mother, with a glad laugh,
"and tell him he is the noblest and dearest and best!" and she fell to
embracing me again.
There is no doing anything with a mother, -she always believes in
you. But I tried to set her right.
As for Davy," I said, I did n't do much for him either. If Hook's
great body had n't been such a furnace, I don't think he could have lived
through such a night. So truly, mother, I think we ought to say that
Davy was saved by Hook and by Crook."
That is true," laughed mother we always understood each other;
" Hook and 'that other boy' did everything. I will try to remember."
It seemed pleasant to have our little joke, but the old ache came back
again very soon.
It has been a great trial, I know," said mother, reading my changed
face. How do you feel towards Jim now? Has the storm quite gone
I hope so, mother; but I think the old friendship must be buried
under a snowdrift. I can't tell exactly how much is left till I have time
to dig around a little."
And small wonder! said mother, nodding with loving sympathy.
You see so much is gone out of life," I said. Perhaps it is
childish to care so much for the engine, but I have lost my chance
besides, a chance that might not come again in a dozen years. The
days look so dull, the rainbow has gone out of them, and the pot of
gold at the end of it. I don't know how to go on, mother."
That does n't sound like a boy of mine," said mother, drawing
LOSS AND GAIN.
herself up. The greatest souls are the most cheerful; now is the time
to show of what metal we are made! and taking up a book in which she
treasured many helpful things, she read : -
With a garden of roses to listen, it is a grudging nightingale who
will not sing; but he is a generous songster indeed who will pipe to the
sands of Sahara."
This went to my
heart, for I, as well as ."--
mother, loved everything r
strong and brave.
"I will be that bird," o
I cried; "I will pipe to i
the sands!" and I began
to sing valiantly:-
"And whatever may befall me,
Here's a heart for any fate."
It was one of father's favorite songs, and was almost too much for
mother, who was just stealing out of the room, when there was a heavy
knock and a scraping of feet at the door, and in came Mr. Masters, his
kind face glowing like the full moon.
How are you, Mr. Engineer? he cried. Glad to see you yourself
Now, there are jokes and jokes, and I must say I thought it in very
poor taste to twit me on such a sore subject. I turned my face to the
wall, and never answered a word.
I suppose these are manners learned from your late friend the
blizzard," said Mr. Masters, with a good-natured grin. Rather a poor
return, after I spent two good hours tunnelling through the snow to get
at you, and my back not fairly straightened up yet."
Oh! I do thank you a thousand times, Mr. Masters," said I, quite
ashamed of myself. I don't believe I was worth so much trouble."
I have my doubts myself," said Mr. Masters. A boy that will run
races with a blizzard, and get so badly left, has n't much common-sense.
And it was n't a full-grown one,
, I, IJII i' l -l t I1 I I
/L-- r h., at Btak- a,0, l"-
I,, I.r hu. .id 'I. c1s !;
L 1 ,, 1 ,: .11.
LOSS AND GAIN.
beaming all over. They will wait, of course, till you are feeling all right,
but the sooner, the better."
We don't understand,". said mother, timidly.
"Well, perhaps you don't," said Mr. Masters, in immense good-
humor. The fact is, I was interested in your boy, Mrs. Harwood, and
when I went home that night, I thought it wouldn't do any harm to
write a few words to Mr. Wheeler -who was an old schoolmate of
mine, though you mightn't think it and tell him what kind of a boy
I thought this was. And I did it that very night. If there is important
business on hand, you must strike while the iron is hot; and in letter-
writing especially-- I will give you a piece of information, Mrs. Harwood
- you will find that a postal stitch in time will often save nine pages
of foolscap!" ha-ha-d Mr. Masters, who had a quaint wit of his own.
"It was a happy thought, as you'll see," he continued, while we
eagerly hung on his words; "for Wheeler fancied my description, and
postponed his decision till he could set eyes on the boy. But now,
since he has heard about the blizzard, and this chap's clear head and
grit, he says he doesn't want to know anything more, he wants this
boy, anyhow! And here is his letter, Duncan, offering you the place.
Nothing said about the terms, but I guess you'll find that all right.
When are you going to begin ?"
This afternoon!" I cried, beginning to get out of bed, but greatly
discomfited to feel a sharp pain in my feet, which were swollen and
bandaged to the size of an elephant's.
"Was there ever such a boy!" said mother, laughing and crying,
as Mr. Masters gently forced me back.
Now, don't go to fretting about that," he said. Why, they were
frozen as stiff as the north pole! You are a wonderfully lucky fellow
not to lose them entirely; it is all we could do to save them for you."
You may imagine how I thanked this best and kindest of men, and
told him I hoped I might be like a son to him all the rest of my life, till
he would hear no more, but went away wiping his eyes, while mother
brought in a bowl of beef tea, and ordered me not to speak for an hour.
But how could any one keep quiet on such a day? I have not time
to tell-of all the joy of it,-how mother could scarcely speak for happy
tears, how Davy. danced and sang to find. that I knew him again, how
Hook licked my,hands, and could not be persuaded to leave me, and
even Crook, stretching her long claws, came creeping from the foot of
the bed to rub and purr against my face. I do not think I shall ever
know a happier hour if I live a hundred years.
It was hard, after this, to lie quietly in bed; but, in spite of my
impatience, it was more than three weeks before I was able to begin my
work; and when I first got around I was like the ghost of my old self.
But everybody was wonderfully kind; the most tempting things
were sent me to eat, and wood and provisions came pouring in, with
such kind words for me that I was kept humble and ashamed all the
time, for you know how little I deserved them. It used to trouble me
very much sometimes when the fever was on me.
LOSS AND GAIN.
I cannot bear to be such a hypocrite, mother," I said. Don't
you really think they ought to know about that other boy?"
"You absurd fellow!" she cried. How much would that other
boy have done, if you had not been there?" And I must say that
comforted me a little.
I have n6w been a month in Brake and Wheeler's employ, and
they have been more kind and considerate than I can tell you. They
say I run the easiest, and need the least oiling, of any 'machinery on
the place. And such pleasure as I have in the work! I would n't
change places with the President of'the United States!
They have offered mother a little house, without rent for a year, and
we shall move into Duluth in the spring. She and the little Squire are
going to raise flowers and keep a few hens, and with my salary we are
going to be more than comfortable. I intend that Hook shall always be
treated like one of us, and Crook, through all her nine lives, shall never
-lack for a saucer of milk.
There are only two shadows in this bright picture, and one is that
Jim utterly refuses to be reconciled to me again. The very first time I
could go out, I limped over to call on him, for it had hurt me very much
to see him passing our house almost every day, without once coming in
to visit me.
I trained myself all the way to call him J. Parker, which I never can
remember when I am excited, and this of itself is enough to irritate him.
The color sprang quickly to his cheek when 'he saw me, but he looked
so thin and worn that my heart quite warmed to him. After all, we had
been through so much together! I did not do any awkward waiting, but
plunged in at once.
"I have come 'to ask your pardon, Parker, for that night, in the
ravine, you know. I am thoroughly ashamed: I do not think I was
quite myself: I hope you can forgive it. We came so near being done
with everything," I urged, as he turned away his head; I am sure I shall
never be quite the same person again. Come, why can't we just drop the
past, and begin over again, and be better friends than ever before ?"
"It is very easy to be magnanimous," cried J. Parker, when you
have everything your own way. And your offer of friendship is very
grand, no doubt. Bah! it makes me sick. I like you better in one of
your beastly tempers; you are honest then, anyhow. Now, look here,
Duncan Harwood, you have grabbed everything, -you have made your
fortune at my expense; the whole country is ringing with it,--and that
ought to satisfy you. Don't, for pity's. sake, come here pretending to
grieve because I don't snap thankfully at any left-over bone you choose to
My cheeks were as flaming as Jim's by this time, and I hurried away
without speaking; I did not dare trust myself. But I thought I knew
how foolish an apple-tree must feel that has been in too much of a hurry,
and gets its blossoms all out just in time for a hard frost.
I could not help feeling, however, that I had been greatly to blame;
so I took myself by the coat collar, and again dragged myself over to
Jim's two separate times, but with no better results.
LOSS AND GAIN.
Perhaps it is my turn, now, not to speak," he would say, sitting rigid
as the sphinx.
"You have done enough," said mother, when she saw me returning
the last time, with a discouraged face. He is very ungrateful! Oh, my
darling! how can he possibly forget all you have done for him ? 'Greater
love hath no man than this -'"
SBut I couldn't let her finish. You must always remember the
blizzard, mother. Jim's friendship was blown away in that evil storm."
It did n't need a blizzard to blow that away," said mother, with some
spirit. "And I would n't spend any more time looking for such a small
thing, it is more hopeless than the engine."
The engine! Yes, that made the other shadow. And I may as well
say here that although I'have looked for it many times, -and Mr.
Wheeler gave me a half-holiday for that purpose when he saw how my
heart was set on it, I have never found the slightest trace of it, not even
the smallest shred of brass or iron; and I begin to think, as J. Parker
said of the fame of it, that it has blown clear off the planet.
I still hope Jim's friendship has not gone quite so far.
; -r I'
MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG.
WHERE SHE FOUND IT.
AUNT POLLY had come in very humbly
at the back door as usual; and care-
fully brushing her snow-laden skirts, and
leaving the forbidden overshoes on the back
stoop, was preparing to climb the stairs to
her own small apartment, fourth story back.
She was late, and knew it; and being tired,
crept rather nervously past the sitting-room
door, where she knew Miss Sparrow was sit-
ing, with ears sharpened by half a century
of watchfulness. and suspicion, and anxiety to
get even with a world that she firmly be-
lieved was always trying to outwit her. But
precaution was useless. The door flew open
as if her noiseless foot had touched some
hidden spring, and disclosed Miss Sparrow
in an unusual state of agitation and dis-
'rr 1 -.-
MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG.
"Come right in, Polly Garner," she cried, pointing to a chair by
the nicely swept fireside. Of course you know tea is over long ago."
I'm not a bit hungry," interposed Aunt Polly, mildly.
"I am not a heathen," snapped Miss Sparrow, "and I don't mean
to starve anybody. There's a slice of bread and some cold tea on the
sideboard. But I can't say there are any dainties left. Why, Polly, if
you could have seen the boarders to-night! Why, the peaches and
stewed prunes and the lady cake just melted off the table like an April
snowstorm. If they go on like this, and provisions rising every day, I
shall soon come to the poor-house. One would think I might have a
little better luck, when I am an honest, faithful woman, trying to do
my duty, and more too. It is n't everybody in my situation that would
take boarders at half price for old friendship's sake. Not that I com-
plain of that," she said quickly, as she marked a painful flush staining
Aunt Polly's transparent cheek. "With what you d6 in plain sewing
-the towels and sheets, and all that--I don't say you are so much
of an expense to me. But I never seem to have any luck. I was
reading in the paper to-day of a man who did a kind act for a mere
nobody, and he turned out to be a somebody, and was so obliging as
to die soon after, and leave him a fortune. But if I ever do anything
for anybody, and get any thanks at all, which is seldom, it is generally
only,' May Heaven reward you!' Now, that's a mighty convenient way
of paying one's debts, by giving a draft on Heaven, is n't it ?" said Miss
It might not turn out a bad thing," suggested Aunt Polly, cheer-
fully, "to be paid in heavenly coin."
"We know very little about such things, Polly," nodded Miss
Sparrow. At least, if there is anything in it, I never had the luck,to
strike the heavenly banking hours. Besides, it is my opinion that
people who always pay their debts that way wouldn't have much capital
up there to draw on. Now, there's my cousin, Tom Bartlett!" she
began, in a tone of grief and indignation. "But I have n't come to
WHERE SHE FOUND IT.
that yet. Such a day as I have had, Polly! Here, sit down," she said,
drawing a chair to the genial warmth. Hang your shawl where it will
dry a bit. I might have kept your tea warmer."
Don't mention it," said Aunt Polly.
I know your heart is n't set on your victuals!" said Miss
Sparrow, in an anguished tone, as a vivid memory of the total depra-
vity of the boarders assailed her. And there are other good things
about you, Polly: you have a feeling heart, and can understand other
people's troubles, even if your own life has been so wonderfully easy
and free from care."
Poor Aunt Polly, whose days were mostly spent in a cold, dark
little perch under the roof, in company with Miss Sparrow's big mend-
ing basket, smiled faintly, but uttered no protest.
You know, Polly," said Miss Sparrow, seating herself in the best
arm-chair, something about my troubles for the last ten years."
Aunt Polly thought she did. If there was any lack of information
it had not been from paralysis of Miss Sparrow's tongue.
"You remember," she continued, "how the savings of a life-time
were wiped out in the failure of the Granite Bank, five years or more
ago ? "
"Yes; but did n't you get a large percentage back, after all?" hesi-
tated Aunt Polly.
Not so large as you think," said Miss Sparrow, with some irritation.
You have forgotten, Polly Garner, how, when everybody was making a
fortune in the Mudbury Central, I put what was left of my good money
in that, and the stock went down like a shot."
I know you had a dreadful fright, Cynthia," said Aunt Polly, sym-
pathizingly, "but I thought you got out with something."
"Maybe I did," snapped Miss.Sparrow; "but it was a cruel disap-
pointment, was n't it? And has n't everything turned out just so with
me ever since you can remember? Life is one series of blunders. And
now, Polly, I have just struck another. You know how anxious I have
MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG.
been to have water-pipes put in the house, so comfortable and convenient
on every floor, and I getting so old and stiff; and you know how I have
been scraping and saving the whole year to be able to afford the expense
in the fall."
.... .... ... ... ..... .. ....
WHERE SHE FOUND IT.
Yes, Aunt Polly knew it very well. When had there been scraping"
in that house without taking a small shaving off from her lean comforts ?
And you know," continued Miss Sparrow, what a wretched life I
have led for weeks with unprincipled workmen, who took a positive
delight in misunderstanding and disappointing me. How I did labor
with them! And how impossible it was to beat anything into their stupid
heads! Do you remember, Polly, when we were girls at school, we used
to study something about the mean density of things? I don't think I
could explain it now; but I must say the mean density of these plumbers
was incalculable! "
"Yes," laughed Aunt Polly; "but they were all out of the house a
"And I wish their work had gone with them," said Miss Sparrow.
"Every bit of it wrong from beginning to end; and the bill she
unfolded a paper with gloomy ;triumph -" just double what it was to
But I thought everything was so nice and convenient," began Aunt
All very well for the Fourth of July," said Miss Sparrow; but they
arranged those pipes to freeze on the first cold day, and they did freeze.
Oh, how they did freeze, Polly! They could n't have frozen harder if they
had been human beings."
So bad as that? said Aunt Polly, with a cheery little chuckle.
If you had spent nearly all day steaming them, only to have them
burst at last, and leave a great spot on the parlor wall, you would not
laugh in such a senseless way," said Miss Sparrow. And I have n't half
told you my troubles, either; a great deal worse is to come."
Aunt Polly looked up in some alarm. This was not an ordinary
case, judging from the unusual bitterness of Miss Sparrow's tone.
"I was not going to speak about my new black silk," said Miss
Sparrow, waving her hand hopelessly to a large bundle on the sofa,
"although it has just come home from the best dressmaker in the city,
MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG.
too tight in the waist and too short in the sleeves, and not a piece as big
as your hand to make repairs with. I felt wicked when I bought such
expensive material, but I thought I was going to get so much comfort
out of it. Oh, why is it, Polly," she burst out, "that everything I touch
turns to ashes in my hands? Everything is always wearing out, and giving
out, and bursting up, and being generally unreliable. If there only was
something that had any bottom to it, that when I put my money and my
time and my heart into it, I could ever put in my hand and get anything
"I suppose. there is something of that kind, Cynthia," said Aunt
Polly, timidly; "and such bothers as these may be pushing you right up
But Miss Sparrow went on, without regarding her. "And now-
when it has been so long raining, as you may say, just cats. and dogs of
misfortune to think that, instead of a little spell of clear weather, I
should have such a trial as this! Don't stare so, Polly. You remember
my cousin, Tom Bartlett, and that baby wife of his that died just after they
moved to Mudbury, a year ago? Poor fellow? Oh, yes, of course! But
Tom was always a shiftless, disappointing kind-of person-; and now, instead
of having the pluck to live on and take care of that boy -she left behind
her,'he has just preferred to die. He always was a shirk if any real work
was to be done."
Oh, Cynthia! smiled Aunt Polly, you can't believe "
"Yes," said Miss Sparrow, defiantly, "it looks like a deliberately
planned thing. His head was very clear to the last, and he took good
care not to die till he had filled the boy with all kinds of foolish notions,
and given him every direction just how to find me. And he managed
to interest the neighbors, so that they forwarded the boy on; and this
one and that one gave him a lift. And finally, just an hour ago, here
arrives my young lord, as pert as you please, and sends for me to leave
my own table and see his. highness in the hall. And there he stands,
all snow and wet, with about two clean shirts and a handkerchief done
WHERE SHE FOUND-IT.
up in a bundle, and a horrid shaggy little dog at his side; and he says:
'Cousin Cynthia Sparrow,-I have come to live with you! 'You have
indeed!' said I; 'you do me too much honor. I am afraid this house
will never be good enough for you.' And he says, as condescending
as you please: Of course I had rather live with papa, but this is a
good deal better than no home at all.' Did you ever know such impu-
dence?" cried Miss Sparrow, red, and fairly gasping with indignation.
How big is he?" asked Aunt Polly.
"He isn't big at all," said Miss Sparrow, as if that were a new
grievance. "A most useless little undersized chap of eight or nine;
--- --= --
and if. there's an orphan asylum or house of refuge to be found in
the city to-morrow -"
"What have you done with him now, Cynthia?" said Aunt Polly,
"The best I could, Polly. I offered him a room in the attic just
over yours for the night, if he would leave that dog outside. But
he just kind of filled up, and said that Ruff -that's the creature's
name was his best friend, and that if he got lost, it would kill him.
So I told him I never kept a boarding-house for dogs yet; and he
only laughed, as if he thought I meant it for a fine joke. The fact
MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG.
of it is, Polly, his father has so filled him up with foolish notions
that, no matter how cross I was, he would keep on thinking I was
joking, and that of course I meant to do the handsome thing by him.
And so at last I am ashamed of being so soft-hearted I have let
him take the beast out to tie him in the barn. He has been gone
some time, but I have been too hurried and worried to go to look him
up. Don't roll your eyes so reproachfully, Polly. Of course I'11 take
care of him to-night. I am not .a heathen. But I '11 settle him to-
WHERE SHE FOUND IT. 59
MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG.
morrow. To think how Tom Bartlett must have laughed in his sleeve
as he lay down for a good, long, comfortable sleep, and left me, as he
supposed, to work off my finger-ends trying to make up the stint the
Lord gave him to do! Oh, no! I know too much for that."
"Cynthia," said Aunt Polly, timidly, and very incoherently, as Miss
Sparrow thought, is there such a verse in the Bible as, Provide for
yourselves bags that wax not old' ?"
"Of course there is, Polly; we used to read that chapter often,
mornings at school."
"I wonder what it means," said Aunt Polly.
Why, nothing that anybody could get hold of," said Miss Sparrow,
glancing up with quick suspicion. I believe you are trying to spring
something on me now, but I 'm sure I don't see it. I am just a prac-
tical person, not a bit like you, Polly. I see what is right before my
nose; but you always make me think of one of those queer beasts in
Revelation, all 'eyes within;' you are always seeing hidden meanings
that nobody else would dream of. And yet I am not so stupid, either;
only I never really thought about it. Bags that wax not old! What
could they be, anyhow ? Bags are to put something in; bags that
grow old would let that something out just when you thought it was
safe. Yes, I know those bags, Polly. I have been telling you about
some of them to-night. I get a little comfort out of them now and
then, but sooner or later they do grow old, every one of them. But
provide one that doesn't wax old, how can I? Nobody in the world
would be better pleased to do it than I. But I don't know where to
find such bags, and neither does anybody else. Scripture is so obscure.'
If there is anything in that verse for a practical woman like me -
if the Lord is in it -I can only say, 'Behold, He cometh with clouds.'
I can't understand it. A bag that did n't wax old, that really held
something that did n't disappoint you Of course I should be only too
Miss Sparrow stopped suddenly, and with a most reproachful look
WHERE SHE FOUND IT.
at Aunt Polly, got up and walked excitedly up and down the room.
Like lightning out of the cloud of the Word a sudden thought had
I don't believe it," she said, angrily, and I'11 never do it. It is too
bad in you, Polly Garner, to spring this upon me, when you know what
a tender conscience I have. Try that bag, indeed! Oh, that would be
a grand investment, just the cap-sheaf of them all! Feed him and clothe
him like a prince, and educate and wait on him; and some day, when I
am dying in the poor-house, maybe, he might'come in and say, 'May Heaven
reward you!' Oh, it is too much, too much!" and Miss Sparrow sat
down and burst into tears.
Aunt Polly's hands worked nervously, but she did not venture a
Polly Garner," said Miss Sparrow at last, you have not been nearly
so sympathetic nor clear-sighted as usual to-night. It is time you gave
up that day at the hospital; you are too old for it, and it is very com-
promising to me. If the boarders knew where you went every Thursday,
and what awful diseases you might be bringing home in your clothes, I
think they would leave in a body to-morrow morning. You may have
something coming on now, you are so unusually stupid."
"Good-night, Cynthia," smiled Aunt Polly, knowing she had been
dismissed in disgrace, but hopeful of the seed that had been sown.
"I wonder what has become of him, anyhow," said Miss Sparrow,
as the patient step died on the stair. She passed into the kitchen,
where nobody had seen the little waif for an hour or more, and, some-
what uneasy, she lighted a lantern and took her determined way to the
Tom! Tom! she called, but there was no answer; and searching
everywhere by the dim light, she at last found him in the loft, fast
asleep in the hay, Ruff tightly clasped in his arms, and an old piece of
carpet carefully tucked about them both. Miss Sparrow's heart smote
her somewhat, especially as a big tear on Tom's cheek twinkled unmis-
62 MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG.
takably in the light of the lantern. "I am not a heathen," she said,
shaking Tom vigorously. "Why did.you stay out here to freeze, you
naughty boy? You make me a great deal of trouble."
great, sleepy eyes. I '11 go just wherever you say. I am your boy now,
Cousin Cynthia Sparrow;" and Tom looked up with such a smile of
confidence and trust that Miss Sparrow fairly gasped, but could not say
a dissenting word.
WHERE SHE FOUND IT.
There's lots of nice things out in this barn," continued Tom,
cheerfully, looking around on the broken furniture and dusty debris, the
accumulations of years, "lots of nice things to play and have fun with.
I am going to like it very much. Are all these things ours, Cousin
Cynthia Sparrow ?"
Ours Such barefaced audacity fairly stunned Miss Sparrow; she
cast about vainly for fitting words with which to annihilate this small
invader of her sacred rights, but stammered under Tom's innocent,
unconscious gaze, and ended by saying briefly: Come in, and I'll show
you where to sleep."
"All right," assented Tom, cheerfully. "And Ruff understands
everything now; I've explained it to him," he said, looking back a
little regretfully. This is a first-rate place for his business, and he
likes it. He is a business dog, you know,--not a lazy hair on him.
See what he has caught already!" and Tom swung a large rat trium-
phantly by the tail.
Miss Sparrow gave a little scream, and tucked her skirts about her.
"Don't be afraid," cried Tom, with a delightful air of protection,
mingled with honest pride. "We won't let them hurt you; we'll see
to them for you. You'll like Ruff as well as you do me, as soon as
you know him;'' and Tom slipped one small hand confidingly in Miss
Sparrow's horny palm.
Miss Sparrow didn't know herself. She could not understand the
kind of pleasant thrill that went through her at touch of those soft
fingers. If this child kept trusting her so absurdly, it might not be
quite such an easy thing to send him to the asylum to-morrow as she
had thought. In the mean time she had brought him into her own
warm room, it was late to clamber up to the attic, and had made
him a bed in a little closet just off it, all the time very much
amazed at herself. She seemed caught in a whirlpool of new, sweet
emotions, -some heavenly tide had lifted her, and was sweeping her
like a straw, she knew not whither.
MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG.
"Cousin Cynthia Sparrow," piped Tom's small, sleepy voice out of
the soft pillows, I miss the echo very much."
"What do you mean, child?" said Miss Sparrow, not unkindly.
The echo at the rocks a little way from papa's house," said Tom.
" They said it was an echo, but I am not sure. It could talk just like
anybody. I went there every night after mamma died," said Tom, ris-
ing on his elbow, while his voice sank to an awed whisper; "and when
I said, 'Good-night, darling,' some-
Si'....i. body always said, 'Good-night, dar-
ling,' back again, just like mamma.
SNobody else ever said it but just the
Secho, and" -Tom coughed; he was
afraid he was going to be unmanly:
i this was dangerous ground for a boy
just finding himself in such a new,
strange place. He made a brave
t -i a.t attempt at an apologetic smile. "It
'i1 ,' ii? is a little lonesome without the echo
S-at first," he said. Not so very,
Eitherr" he added, with an anxious
.-.-. .. glance at Miss Sparrow's averted
face; "just a little, you know."
Miss Sparrow hesitated, colored violently, and then went desperately
towards the little bed.
Good-night, darling," she said, in a hurried, choked voice, awk-
Tom threw both arms around her, and left a warm kiss on her
shrivelled cheek. Thank you, Cousin Cynthia Sparrow!" he said.
The bells were sounding for midnight when Miss Sparrow arose
from her seat by the fire, where she had been thinking two hours, with
her head in her hands.
"Polly often sees farther than I do, with her queer eyes within,"
WHERE SHE FOUND IT.
she said uneasily, as she hastily prepared for bed. "And this has not
been of my seeking; it seems fairly thrust upon me. I wonder, if I
should be such a fool as to try Tom for a bag, one of Polly's kind
of bags, -I wonder how long he would last? "
WHAT SHE PUT IN IT.
M ORE than three months had passed since the winter night when
little Tom Bartlett had announced that he had come to be Miss
Sparrow's boy, and many a cloud had gathered and storm had burst
in that household which had not been laid down in the best-con-
structed almanacs. Miss Sparrow's mind was in a constant state of tur-
moil and contradiction. One moment she was attracted and softened by
the boy's simple confidence; the next, her suspicion of all the world,
and small boys in particular, revived in all its force. I am just
emptied from one vessel into another," she complained to Aunt Polly,
" and I never can quite make up my mind whether I have been a fool
or an angel."
MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG.
But she tried to do her duty after a certain grudging fashion, and
now and then, she had an emotion that surprised her. The day when
she bought Tom a brand-new suit of clothes, and told him he was
to go to school like other boys, his incredulous surprise was followed
by such a wild delight that her old heart thrilled strangely under its
thick folds of selfishness and distrust. She had fairly wiped away a
tear, when the boy, having raced madly three times around the yard,
and nearly choked Ruff with an ecstatic hug of joy, came back with
flaming cheeks to stammer, I will study like -like a house afire,
Cousin Cynthia Sparrow! You shall never be ashamed of your boy."
And ever since, he had tried to show his gratitude by steadfastly
declining all temptations for play and good fellowship between schools,
and coming home ready to run his small legs off in his benefactor's
But in spite of these occasional gleams of sunshine, there had been.
many sorry hours for Tom that winter. Kind Aunt Polly had been ill
in her room for weeks, and Cousin Cynthia Sparrow had been so busy
and so sharp that there had been many weary days when all of tender-
ness that the world held for him lay in Ruff's red tongue and the glad
wag of his plumy tail. Poor Tom's heart ached terribly sometimes,
and he missed the echo more than ever. To be sure, Miss Sparrow
tried for a time to say, Good-night, darling," but, as Tom confided to
Ruff, although the words were all right, it grew to sound so uncom-
monly like, "I'd like to box your ears!" that he was not sorry when
she left it off altogether.
It was just after breakfast one windy March morning, when Miss
Sparrow, coming in from vigorous altercation with the grocer's boy, dis-
covered Aunt Polly stirring some mixture over the stove.
"It is only a little ointment for Tom's hand, where he burned it
over the kitchen fire this morning," she said, apologetically, "and I am
steeping some boneset tea for Mrs. White, who, you must see, has quite
lost her appetite this spring."
WHAT SHE PUT IN IT. 67
"Which I don't see," said Miss
either, if you had the bills to pay.
expenses as during this spring; and
Sparrow hotly, and you would n't
I never have had such enormous
I don't suppose you will say that
MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG.
that boy makes all the difference; although what he alone eats would
support a minister's family. I have just given him a verse to learn, since
breakfast, that he may remember he was n't born to be all mouth, like a
jelly-fish, but that the Lord gave him hands and feet that He meant to
be used now and then."
"I am sure," said Aunt Polly, more warmly than usual, there are
few grown people that make better use of theirs than Tom. He is run-
ning from morning till night; and so obliging to everybody! He
wouldn't have burned those mites of hands if-"
"It is well that child wasn't given to you to bring up, Polly;
you would certainly have ruined him. You are too soft and senti-
mental; you have no sense of justice; your religion has no backbone.
Now I 've often thought if you ever got to heaven, what your first
business would be. The boarders all call you Aunt Polly here, and
I suppose you would just want to keep on being Aunt Polly to the
universe. And if you could get hold of the leaves of that tree that
are for the healing of the nations, I know you'd be concocting an
Dintment somewhere, and then going prowling around the outskirts,
with a box in your hand, trying to get a chance to drop it down the
great gulf, although the Lord had said there should be no passing
to and fro."
Oh, Cynthia "cried Aunt Polly, somewhat shocked, I couldn't
do anything against the laws of that holy place. But if the Lord of
glory would permit it," she added conscientiously, I am that plain
kind of a person, I am afraid I should like it better than playing on a
harp. But may His holy will be done!"
"Well, I shouldn't like to trust you. But Tom! Tom! here, Tom!
Have you learned that lesson yet? Come out and say it to Aunt Polly
Tom emerged from behind a big chair in a dark corner of the
dining-room, very downcast, with flaming cheeks, holding his hand over
one knee, where a rent made by a too affectionate caress from Ruff
WHAT SHE PUT IN IT.
had been painfully darned by his own small fingers, with green carpet-
"'Who can eat, or who can hasten thereunto more than I?' Ec-
clesiastes, second and thirty-fifth," said Tom, demurely, with a glance
under his dark eyelashes at Aunt Polly, in which a twinkle of fun shone
through a tear, like a rainbow.
"It is strange," mused Miss Sparrow, "how much that Solomon
knew! There he was, a mighty king upon a throne; but when you
read that verse, you would feel almost sure that some time in his life
he had kept a boarding-house. What is the matter with your knee,
"Nothing," cried Tom, trying to look unconcerned, but blushing
more furiously than before.
".Ah! said Miss Sparrow, in a dreadful tone, "I see. It is that
brute of a dog, which can destroy more in five minutes than a laboring
man can earn in a day, besides eating as much at every meal as
Barnum's whole menagerie. Polly, didn't we read once what animal
they supposed it was that ate the core of the apple that Eve threw
away ? Well, no matter; in my opinion it must have been a dog:
there is no more thoroughly depraved animal than a dog. And if
Tom would give him up-"
Now, Cynthia," laughed Aunt Polly, coming to the rescue of poor,
frightened Tom, growing red and white by turns, "you know you are
joking; you know Ruff could never have had such an ancestor as that,
for he is the most polite and honorable and altogether delightful dog in
the world. I am sure all the boarders would sign a petition for him,
for they every one love and respect him. As for the clothes, I can
soon make them all right. I will do a little embroidery on the cover
of your bag," she laughed, "that will make it look better than ever."
But Tom never moved his great eyes from Miss Sparrow's face.
Was it truly a joke? It must be, for nobody could ever dislike Ruff
MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG.
I '11 tell you, Cousin Cynthia Sparrow," he said, eagerly, you don't.
know what sense he has, he is thinking and watching all the time;
he does n't spend an idle minute. And he never forgets he is the only
person to take care of things nights, and I know he never dares shut
both eyes at a time. I should like to see a tramp or a burglar try to
get in this yard! And I'11 talk to him about eating so much. I can
make him understand. I '11 tell him now, while we go to the farm for
the eggs and milk. You know I never could bring it all, if Ruff
did n't carry one basket. And he is so careful! just like a grown man.
And we won't either of us eat any dinner to-day."
Oh! go along child; I am not a heathen," said Miss Sparrow, with
the half smile Tom was quick and overjoyed to see. "You know,
Polly," she continued, as Tom bounded away for the baskets, and the
run with his faithful friend, "you know my bark is worse than my bite.
He is a clever boy; his teachers speak in the highest terms of him;
and he is my own blood after all, and blood will tell."
Aunt Polly smiled a quiet, satisfied smile to herself.
Polly,"~~~~~~~~~~~~~ sh otnud sTrnbudd wyfrth akts n h
WHAT SHE PUT IN IT.
I am willing to spend a little money on him," Miss Sparrow con-
tinued. I am willing to put a little more in your bag, Polly, even if
I don't ever get anything out of it, which I hardly expect."
Would n't you get more out of it if you put in a little more affec-
tion and trust?" suggested Aunt Polly.
"That is n't in my line," said Miss Sparrow; "but there is enough
one can put in. It is a small bag to look at, Polly, but it has the
greatest capacity of any I ever tried. I think you could put the world
"Put in love, and let it hold heaven too," said Aunt Polly.
Easier said than done; I have not a velvet tongue," nodded Miss
Sparrow, with an uneasy remembrance of her failure in supplying the
place of the echo.
Yes, the habits of a lifetime could not be forgotten in a moment. Poor
Miss Sparrow had never given a generous love and trust to anybody; and
much as her heart had softened towards Tom, she evidently felt that, as far
as her relations to him were concerned, eternal vigilance was the price of
safety: she was continually dreading some terrible development of depra-
vity, and could no more rest securely than she could slumber over the
mouth of a volcano. And it so happened that a great trial was even then
close at hand, destined to arouse all her suspicions in their fullest force.
Miss Sparrow had one great pleasure in her busy, anxious life, which she
allowed herself only now and then, at safe but uncertain intervals. At a
late hour that very night, when Tom had long been in his bed, and the
heartless boarders were only dreaming of dinner, Miss Sparrow after
carefully locking her door upon all the world, and looking under the bed,
and behind the window-curtains went stealthily to the southwest corner
of the room and took a key out from under the corner of the carpet. This
unlocked an old-fashioned brass-clamped cabinet standing next the bed,
and disclosed an inner compartment also securely locked. Miss Sparrow
tried it with a nod of satisfaction, and then went to a small heathen idol
on the mantle, and from some cunningly devised hollow produced another
MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG.
key of very different shape. This being successfully applied, the doors
sprang back, and disclosed a strong mahogany box, also locked, and two
or three fine specimens of solid old silver. Miss Sparrow took out one
article after another with a sigh of satisfaction,- the shining tankard that
had belonged to her great-grandfather, the tea-pot and pitcher that had
been in the family for more than a hundred years. She regarded them
with a tenderness she never bestowed on flesh and blood, and they hardly
seemed inanimate as they twinkled and winked back at her in a familiar
and friendly way. As she looked at them she quite forgot that she had
so come down in life as to be only head-slave in a boarding-house. These
were the links to a past grandeur; in presence of these silent witnesses
she was once more a princess in her own right.
After feasting her eyes upon these precious relics for a long time,
she took another key from a cord hanging about her neck and solemnly
opened the box. Here were a few folded bits of paper, representing the
accumulations of her long life of labor, and some carefully hoarded shining
gold. This last ought to be drawing interest; but it looked so beautiful
and friendly, and it was so pleasant to drop it through one's fingers and
hear the clear, soft chink! There were also one or two mortgages; but
the bulk of her property lay in coupon-bonds, unregistered coupon-bonds,
which Miss Sparrow's secretive nature had preferred, but which had this
great disadvantage, that a burglary or fire might suddenly wipe them out
for her forever. But it was such a pleasure to guard this secret so
carefully. Nobody, not even Polly, knew she had such a fortune. And
it was none of Polly's business. It was all her own hard-earned savings,
and not a bit too much for her own wants in the rainy days that always.
come in life's autumn.
She carefully counted the bonds, to see that every one was there; and
then, leaning back in a dreamy pleasure, was once more allowing the
golden fountain to drip slowly through her fingers, when a slight noise
startled her, and turning, she beheld Tom's small figure on tiptoe behind
her, his eyes dilated with eager interest.
WHAT SHE PUT IN IT.
"And are all those nice things ours too, Cousin Cynthia Sparrow?"
said Tom, in an ecstatic whisper; I did n't suppose we were half so rich."
No words could do justice to Miss Sparrow's anger and despair. The
treasures were hastily pushed back into the cabinet; and then, quite white
and trembling, she turned upon him.
"How came you up at this time of night, you naughty boy?" she
began, but so choked and stumbled that poor frightened Tom ran to pour
her a drink of water.
Did n't you know it was very wicked," she said, waving him away,
"to come stealing upon a person like--like a thief in the night, and try
to find out things you had no business to know?"
"I had a bad dream," faltered Tom, "and I thought you would be
Miss Sparrow leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes. Terrible
visions were crossing her mind of Tom betraying the secret to the kitchen
maids, and they, in turn, to cousins of the male sex who were professional
burglars; and some night some dreadful night the silver and gold
and the hard-earned bonds would be travelling over the hills and far away,
leaving her lying at the point of death with a chloroform sponge at her
nose. At this dire culmination Miss Sparrow so gasped and gurgled that
poor Tom burst into heart-broken sobs.
"Are you going to die, Cousin Cynthia Sparrow?" he said. "I'll
go call Aunt Polly."
"Stop, Tom!" she cried, rousing herself. "Stand right here, and
promise me solemnly that you will never breathe a word of what you
have seen to-night to any living mortal!"
"I never tell any of our secrets," said Tom, drawing himself up
"Not that this is so much of a secret either, child," said unhappy
Miss Sparrow, trying to speak carelessly. "This was just a little old
silver I may leave to you some day, if you are good, and a very little
money that I may have to pay out for my debts to-morrow."
MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG.
"Yes," said Tom, scratching his curly head doubtfully. Then
what was all the fuss about?
"And Tom, never, never come into my room again without rap-
"Never!" cried Tom, eagerly; I'11 knock six times."
"We can't tell what dreadful thing may yet come of this night,"
she continued, in a heart-broken tone, as another picture arose before
her. Why might not Tom himself, sooner or later, be led to abstract
small sums from this hitherto unknown El Dorado? Who could esti-
mate the temptation that might come to him from this dazzling sight
which he could never forget?
I would rather have given a thousand dollars than have had it
happen!" she continued solemnly. I shall watch you very carefully,
Tom; and remember that if you are ever tempted to do anything very,
very wrong, you will be not only a knave, but a fool. You will surely
be found out and punished; every knave is the worst kind of a fool, no
matter how clever he thinks he is. You must be very careful, Tom, and
never let your feet or fingers go where they have no business. Remem-
ber" her voice sank to an awful whisper remember 'God meets
those that are in the way, and Satan meets those that are out of it!'"
Tom's eyes grew as large as moons, and he looked apprehensively over
Do you understand me, Tom ?"
The well was deep and the small bucket and scant line of Tom's com-
prehension about as good as nothing to draw with; but he did not dare
add stupidity to the superfluity of naughtiness which seemed to have
been discovered in him, and so faltered a faint, "Yes, Cousin Cynthia
"And now go straight to bed," she said, "and don't speak again
to-night. Ah, how glad I should be to be sure that you would never end
your days in State prison! "
Tom drew a short, quick breath, and vanished with amazing celerity,
WHAT SHE PUT IN IT.
leaving Miss Sparrow to revolve the distressing question whether he could
possibly have seen where she kept the two keys.
It won't do to ask him," she said, for in case he has not seen, it
would only set him to searching; small boys have such a devouring
curiosity. No, I will say nothing about it; but my mind is made up. I
have been far too indulgent. Tom shall go to the attic to-morrow."
Polly," she said tearfully the next day, of all my investments Tom
is the worst one. You almost made me believe all that talk about a bag
that would n't wax old; but you have n't a practical hair in your head.
This is a world of humbug and disappointment, and has been so 'way
down from the time of Eve. I have often thought how' pleased that poor
woman was with her first baby, and how she said, 'I have gotten a man
from the Lord; and there -it was only Cain!"
Why, what has happened now? smiled Aunt Polly.
"Something which I cannot very well explain to you, but I can never
feel quite easy again. Oh! Tom makes an excellent bag to put things
into," she said scornfully,-" clothes and food, and education and time,
and patience; and I shouldn't wonder if my whole property went after!
Oh, a great bag for putting things into! But when you want to take
anything out, just the oldest bag of them all! He holds nothing but worry
.2 '- ~~-
'.4 .. -
MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG.
WHAT SHE GOT OUT OF IT.
'TOM did not quite understand why he was banished to the attic, but he
took it cheerfully, as he did everything else. He did not mind it so
much day-times, as he told Ruff, for it was coming spring, and was quite
warm and pleasant up there, and the birds were making nests in the eaves.
But it was a big, lonesome place when you happened to wake up in the
night; and no matter how well you tried to get acquainted with the three-
legged chairs and rickety tables by daylight, they had a way of appearing
to you like perfect strangers, and very unpleasant ones too, at dead of
night, just when you would like them to be more friendly. They seemed
to have great fun among themselves, he told Ruff, making believe they
were lions and bears, and sometimes those awful things called ghosts; but
it was just death to him, so that sometimes he would have to run down
to take refuge with kind Aunt Polly, who would take him in and make
him a bed on the floor, and never tell the secret to anybody.
I must have been a very bad boy," he confided to Ruff, one warm
day in May, as they were running on errands between schools. She looks
at me so, sometimes, that you would hardly believe that I was her boy,
and that she liked me so much, if you did n't know it very well. But she
has been very kind to you and me, Ruff, and we must try to do something
for her whenever we get a chance."
And Ruff whined, and held out his paw with a short, quick bark, to
let his little master know he was quite of his mind.
Tom, Tom," cried Miss Sparrow, as they came in sight, you are
playing altogether too much. Tie Ruff in the barn and come here; I have
a job for you."
WHAT SHE GOT OUT OF IT.
And Miss Sparrow, overwhelmed with the spring house-cleaning, and
the warm day, and the big baking that was going on in the kitchen, had
small mercy on Tom, although the birds were singing, and the apple-
blossoms waving, and broken-hearted Ruff crying distractingly in the barn.
"You know," she said sharply to Tom, providing against any possible
rebellion, it is all for your good that I make you work. Too much play
MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG.
would ruin you. 'All sunshine makes the desert.' Do you know that,
Yes, Cousin Cynthia Sparrow," said Tom, anxious to please her.
While trying to hide his tears, he worked away, scouring the knives and
blacking the boarders' shoes, till he was only too glad to drag his tired
little legs up in the attic, and go very early to bed.
Some people would think you were getting a great deal out of that
bag, Cynthia," said Aunt Polly, looking tenderly after the patient little
"Well, something," said Miss Sparrow, grudgingly, "but certainly
a small interest on the investment."
That night, just as the town clock was striking twelve, poor Tom
found himself sitting up in bed broad awake. He was very sorry. He
was always so thankful when he could go through the shadowy land on an
express train, without any stops for passengers. And now, crack! snap!
What was that? A cold perspiration bedewed Tom's forehead. It must
be that same ill-tempered old table that loved to make queer noises in the
night. But it was more malicious than ever on this occasion, and must
be something of a ventriloquist too, for the snapping and cracking seemed
to come from all around, and some upstairs and some down. What made
it more unpleasant still, Ruff was howling dismally.
The poor fellow must be frightened," said Tom, with a shiver; I
wonder if there are any dog-ghosts."
It all grew so very uncomfortable that, with a sudden terror, he sprang
out of bed, seized his shoes and the clothes on the chair, darted like a
flash across the cold floor, and took his headlong way to Aunt Polly.
Something made him choke and sputter, and his eyes smarted strangely,
as he knocked violently at the door, with his heart knocking at his ribs at
the same time, like an alarm-clock, he thought.
Aunt Polly drew her bolt and looked out; but before the mild reproof
she always administered to Tom with her gentle comfort, she coughed, and
then sniffed suspiciously.
WHAT SHE GOT OUT OF IT.
There is something wrong, Tom," she said. "Let me slip on my
wrapper, and we will go down and see."
Hand in hand they descended together, and with every step the air
grew thicker and more stifling.
It is smoke !" cried Aunt Polly, with conviction. Tom, I am sure
the house is on fire "
Tom waited no longer. "Fire! fire!" cried the shrill young voice,
cutting its way into the very heart of dreamland. On every side there
were hasty opening and slamming of doors, quick footsteps, and cries of
alarm. Yes, there was a fire. The big baking of the day before had been
too much for an already defective flue; the long-charred wood had slowly
burst into light flame, and all the back of the house was already a raging
sea of fire. The warning had come none too soon, there was great need
of haste; and by the time Tom had hastened to the barn to liberate poor
MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG.
Ruff, Aunt Polly and Miss Sparrow and all the boarders were huddled
together outside, with scanty clothing and more scanty treasures, too happy,
for the moment, to have escaped with their lives.
Are those your greatest valuables, Cynthia ? said Aunt Polly, with
a hysterical laugh as Miss Sparrow stood like one paralyzed, a feather
pillow tightly held under one arm, and a large dictionary clutched in both
Miss Sparrow stared a moment with a dawning intelligence, then
gave a shriek and rushed wildly forward. My bonds," she cried, and
the tankard I must get them."
Some one caught her rudely by the arm. Do you want to lose your
life ? he said. You are crazy to think of going in that house again."
Billy Smith," she panted, I will give you a thousand dollars if you
will get the box out of the cabinet in my room. Quick! quick! first story
back The key is under the carpet on the east side no, the north.
Oh! where is it ? And then the other one, you know, the Indian idol,
- next the blue vase "
Billy winked at a friend. The old woman has gone off her head,"
he said, struggling to hold her.
She has n't at all," cried Tom, with contemptuous pity. She's got
it all right; she's as clear as a bell. Come, Ruff, we 'll show 'em And
before anybody could interfere, Tom and the little gray bundle had dis-
appeared in the smoke.
A murmur arose from the crowd. He will never come out alive.
There's the last of poor little Tom! said one boarder to another.
It is n't sure," said Aunt Polly, tremulously; "the room is only up
the first flight, and is farthest from the fire."
Polly," said Miss Sparrow in a hoarse voice, plucking her by the
sleeve, I am a wicked woman, but I did n't mean to have the child go.
It will kill me if he dies. Pray for him, Polly."
But little Tom, calm and cool, quite unconscious of his danger, with
the red flames crackling and raging so very near to him, had taken the
WHAT SHE GOT OUT OF IT.
key from the southwest corner under the carpet, and opened the first
door; he had swiftly upset the Indian idol, and opened the second: he
had the precious box in his hand. No grown person could have done so
well as unconscious little Tom, who whistled merrily as he gathered the
Here, Ruff he said, putting the tankard between the dog's teeth,
"take care of it, and come on, old fellow! Hurry up!"
MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG.
For the fire had burst through the partition at last; its angry
tongue was licking the balustrade of the stair down which they were
to pass. Ah, how the horrible yellow fingers are stretching out for
little Tom and Ruff! Will they catch them? Tom only laughs; and
stumbling, choking, tumbling over each other, they come rolling out
into the pure air, each holding tight to his precious burden. But Tom
scrambled up in a moment, and a ringing shout rends the air as he
lays the box safely at Miss Sparrow's feet, and Ruff drops the tankard
at the same place with a howl of pain, his pretty shaggy neck-ruffle
nearly all burned off.
A little more than a month later, in the pleasant days of June,
two spare figures are sitting on the piazza of a small cottage just out
of the city.
"I wonder what makes Tom so late from school, Polly," said the
older of the two; and as she speaks, a bundle of shaggy wool at her
feet jumps up, all attention, and looks eagerly down the sunny road.
I never was more contented in my life," said Miss Sparrow, looking
complacently around her little domain. I wonder why I never thought
before how pleasant it would be to give up all the worry of the boarders,
and the struggle to lay up money, and live in a small way, as I was
fully able to do,-just you and me and Tom, we three; and I might
almost say we four; for Ruff will never seem to me quite so much
of a brute after his good sense in saving the tankard."
What a night that was!" said Aunt Polly, with a shiver.
You may well say so," said Miss Sparrow. "And the boy was
saved by a miracle. I don't know what ever saved him, unless it was
your prayers, Polly."
And yours too, I am sure, Cynthia," said Aunt Polly gently.
Oh mine are of no account," said Miss Sparrow humbly. There's
something in yours, Polly, that seem to take hold the right way. They
are like the woman who touched the Lord in a crowd. Now, if there
WHAT SHE GOT OUT OF IT.
was a whole crowd of my prayers going up, and only one of yours,
that one would be sure to draw all the blessing as it certainly did."
"Then you think Tom's life is a blessing," said Aunt Polly slyly.
" You don't mean to admit that you get any pleasure out of Tom ? "
I know what you mean, Polly Garner," nodded Miss Sparrow,
" but I don't mind humbling myself as I should once. Yes,
I have got a great deal out of Tom, ever so miih ll.lio I 'c I'Iil' 31
than I ever put in. Not that I am thinking of h I i,-. i II l
the bonds, and how every comfort I have ,:oil.inid nI- d ill .
always be owing to the grown-up courage in th:it little Ir ite
of a body; I shall never forget that. But I ani getting sionII -
thing better yet out of Tom, and something tlht -isuc:I ani
ill-tempered, selfish old woman as I have ali\\a,- :e'li had
no right to expect. I have put my heart in that ia.',, '
Polly, or taken it out, I don't know which; but tlhinigs Y'.i'',
begin to look different to me. I have found I,' p,'..,
trust, affection, something to care for, an in- ,. 'i
terest in the future, and sometimes a great. ---
deep feeling of rest and peace that I never
had in my life before. And sometimes
I wonder," said Miss Sparrow, her face I'D' .j
softened and tender, as she gazed into J':
the sunset sky, what Tom Bartlett would '
say if I ever met him. It is odd to think .
I should ever care to meet him; but I
may have been a little hard on him, and he was always sick, poor fellow.
But I should like to have him know I had done my best by that boy.
You know, Polly, he might have been a vagabond about the streets; but
now," her face kindling with the beauty of an unselfish interest -
" I mean that he shall have every advantage; and there is so much of the
right kind of stuff in him, I am sure it would be a real pride and pleasure
to show him to his father some time."
MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG.
Is n't that reaching pretty far," 'said Aunt Polly demurely, 'way
out into the next world ? Everything comes to an end so soon. You
can't suppose your interest and pleasure in Tom are going to last so
long as that? "
"I understand," nodded Miss Sparrow, "and you have a perfect
right to your revenge, Polly. I confess, I did n't half believe in your
bags that would never wax old, even if they were advertised in the good
Book, at least I did n't think I should ever have the luck to find one.
But I am wiser now. I have learned something these last few weeks.
I see what a treasure has fallen into my hands. Why, Polly, the way
that boy trusts- me has always taken right hold of me, in spite of myself;
and now I even like the way he says,' Are all these things ours, Cousin
Cynthia Sparrow?' I would n't have him give it up for anything. And
everything is all his. I mean that he shall have all I leave when I die,
- except what goes to make you comfortable,--and I like to think of
giving it to him. And, Polly," Miss Sparrow hesitated; it was
awkward to speak of some things, -" I have always belonged to the
unthankful and the unworthy, and I wonder why such a pleasure has
been given me. I have done nothing to deserve it."
"The children do not lay up for the parents, but the parents for
the children," said Aunt Polly gently. It is little any of us can ever
do for the Great Father; but if we trust Him, it is His pleasure--as it
is yours for Tom to give us all things."
If we trust Him," repeated Miss Sparrow. I wonder, Polly, if
He likes that as well as I do? I wonder if, when we come into His
beautiful house after death, without even so much in our hand as Tom
carried in his bundle, I wonder if He would like Tom's simple ways,-
would like us to say, 'Father, I have come to be your boy or girl;'
'Father, are all these things ours?'"
Why not? said Aunt Polly, wiping her eyes. If you trust Him,
all things are yours, 'and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.' Why,
has n't Tom been helping you to see this lovely truth ?"
WHAT SHE GOT OUT OF IT.
Miss Sparrow leaned back in a luxury of rest, the sunset growing
more and more like a golden throne, the perfume of the roses going up
like the evening incense. I wonder," she said musingly, "how it will
be a hundred years from now, or a thousand? Suppose, Polly, that you
and I should be so happy as to meet some time, ever so many years
from now, in that land where you say everybody grows beautiful and
young,--' without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,'- I should know
you, I suppose, for you would look something as you did that summer
when young John Spenser -"
"Yes," said Aunt Polly hastily.
And suppose I said, 'Polly, what time is it?' and you said, By
earth time'--and it seems as if we should always like to reckon time
by the dear old earth, as if it would always be a kind of little pocket-
watch of the universe -' by earth time it is the year 2889.' Would n't
it be strange, Polly? And I wonder what we should be talking about
then? Should we laugh a little over the silk dress, and the water-pipes,
and the Granite Bank, and all the other foolish bags into which I used
to put my treasures? And would they dwindle away, and look as odd
and small and valueless as the bits of colored glass and broken china
we used to play housekeeping with when we were children?"
Aunt Polly nodded. "I am sure we should laugh to think how
childish we must have been when those things looked so big to us."
Miss Sparrow looked around dreamily. It was seldom she had been
in such a mood. But the flowers seemed to grow large and splendid
in the opal light; the soft crooning of the birds came like faint echoes
from another world, half-song, half-prayer; the other life grew very
real and possible in the golden transfiguration of this June sunset.
Besides, a great veil had been rent from Miss Sparrow's heart, and, like
Aunt Polly, she began to have eyes within.
"And suppose, Polly," she continued softly, "that while we were
talking together, a young man in shining garments should come along,
almost as young and beautiful as the angel of the resurrection, -I say
MISS SPARROW'S BEST BAG.
almost; for I suppose the best of us will always
by the side of the freshness of the angels, -and
very glad to see us, and suppose he should turn
look a little careworn
suppose he should be
out to be Tom, going
WHAT SHE GOT OUT OF IT.
on to be more beautiful forever and forever! Should n't I be glad, Polly,
that I had put some of the first nice things in that bag that was going
on to hold so much! Should n't I be glad, a thousand years from now,
and a million years from now! Why should n't I always be glad about
Tom, into the ages of the ages.? Why should such a bag as that ever
wax old? "
Why, indeed? said Aunt Polly.
I ,/ .,\I
(r '\ ', 'i|
- r~~$4~f .***..''*
-. *-- *
E-. ~c.~ B
~ .;1:\ '~.k~,
T was a .ravishing day in late
spring, which fact Katrine was
trying to forget, as she perched
half hidden in the recessed window
of the great upper hall at Miss
Patten's boarding-school. One lit-
tle brown hand was clutching her
disordered hair, while the other
relentlessly forced the unwilling
pencil over a sheet covered with
straggling sentences and painful erasures. It was "composition day,"
and Katrine was evolving her essay,-- a little chameleon affair, which,
in spite of her best efforts, always took the color of the last author she
had been reading.
As she was still hanging in mid air, as one might say, between the
earth, the dull clods of the beginning, and the dimly discerned heaven
of accomplishment, her cousin Karoline came charging upon her retreat.
What do you think, Katrine! Such a nice letter from grandfather,
from Canton, directed to us both; but I opened it, as I am the elder.
Now, don't fuss about reading it all over from beginning to end," she
cried, holding it aloft from Katrine's eager hand. You know what
it always is: Are we well? Do we walk every day? Are we polite
and kind? Do we give Miss Patten no trouble? Do we stand high
in our classes? All that you can read by yourself a dozen times if
you like. But here is the really interesting thing in the letter. He
wants our photographs, yours and mine, and as many of our class as
we can get to join us. He wants to show them to a Chinese friend
of his, a Mr.-let me see-a Mr. Ping-Wing, or something like that.
Grandfather writes such a hand! Anyhow, he is quite somebody,- a
mandarin perhaps; a brother to the Sun and Moon, with a yard or
two of queue. And he wants to see some pictures of pretty American
girls, grandfather says, and if he thinks any one of them as pretty as
his own little Si Ling, he will send her a little gift. Did you ever
know anything so delightful ? I have asked Mari and Belle and Clara
and Kristine, and they are all charmed to do it. Shall you care to have
yours taken, Katrine ? "
Why, of course! Why not ?" asked Katrine, her cheeks rosy with
"Yes, grandfather may like it, to be sure," said Karoline, thought-
fully; "he might not like you left out. But you must not set your
heart on capturing the old nabob, you know."
Oh, no! said Katrine, the smile fluttering away. She knew how
, plain and insignificant she was by the side of her fair blond cousin;
Karoline had so often told her. But I'd like to have grandfather see
how I have grown since he sent me here to be educated. I hope he
will let me go back before very long, to be a daughter to him, just as
devoted as dear mamma used to be." And Katrine's eyes grew very
soft over the dear, faint memory of the mother who had followed the
young father into the other life many long years before.
Perhaps we can both go," said Karoline quickly, while visions of
Oriental magnificence floated before her eyes. It was rumored that
Grandfather Baerman had made a fabulous fortune among the almond-
eyed Celestials. I should like to be a daughter to grandfather too,
if papa and mamma can only spare me. Have you written him how
very kind I have always been to you?"
I never forget it," said Katrine simply.
"Very well; and now I think, I will send him a few lines myself.
He likes my letters, I am sure, my style is so concise. Do you know
Miss Patten thinks my French compositions are really quite wonderful?
I have been so much complimented, I must tell grandfather. Come,
do put up that tiresome writing! You must have finished long ago.
No? Only one or two ideas? I should think from the looks of your
hair that you had written a five-act tragedy at least."
Katrine folded her paper with a sigh,-it was hopeless to try any
longer,-and started for her room, meeting on the way her good friend
Dr. Martin, who had been in the next room with a poor little boarder
laid up with croup.
He put out a sympathetic hand as she passed, and patted the pretty
"Never mind, little Kitty-Kat," he said, with an amused smile,-
he had evidently heard Karoline's sufficiently loud remarks through
the half-opened door; we must send on that photograph anyhow.
There is a great variety in tastes in China."
"I am so glad you think so," said Katrine eagerly. "I would
take your advice just as quick as I would grandfather's. You are not
quite so old as grandfather? she asked doubtfully.
He has a few years the advantage," said Dr. Martin dryly.
Oh, I remember; Miss Patten says you are a promising young phy.
sician of thirty," laughed Katrine. But that is quite old, is n't it ? "
Just next to decrepitude," laughed
speak to Miss Patten; and smiling more
voice again smote upon his ear.
Martin, walking on to
once, as a well-known
--, I.iI .. l l m uch
S l t ,,nlv i : dc. llaurs ?
.', .;, ,. -_ l i [arinim a ,-.a-.a s-..- en and a
'" half for mine; but I think -
oh, yes! the ribbon is much wider, and a decidedly better quality. You
gave quite enough for it."
94 KATRINE'S PHOTOGRAPH.
There were many preparations and deep consultations before the
day finally came for the taking of the photographs. Karoline shone
forth in bravest attire, having had an entire new costume made for the
"How stylish!" cried all the girls, "but very much like Clara's;
the material of the two gowns is just the same."
I paid twenty-five cents more a yard for mine," said Karoline.
"You see it has a better finish."
But foolish little Katrine was in the simplest slip of a dress, having
nad such a lively sympathy with the disappointments and shortcomings
of the other girls that she had lent lockets and lace-pins and sashes
and ribbons, till positively there was scarcely anything left for her own
adornment. Karoline looked her over with calm, frank disapprobation.
"You have the least ambition, Katrine, of any girl I ever knew.
Nobody would ever dream you were a cousin of mine. Such an absurd
way to get yourself up for a beauty! The Ping-Wing will never know
whether you are a scullion or a lady, and I'm sure he wouldn't have
you painted on his poorest tea-cup. Yes, one doesn't know where to
place you; you make me think of the unhappy bat, that was neither a
bird nor a mouse."
Do you think so ? laughed Katrine merrily. Then I shall be just
like a prize riddle for grandfather and the mandarin."
You would not laugh, Katrine, if you knew what everybody thinks
of a person that acts as you do. You are what people call a poor-spirited
girl, with no proper self-respect, and everybody will impose on you and
walk over you. I know papa saw this defect the moment he set eyes on
Katrine winced a little. She remembered only too well when she
arrived from Canton, three years before, a little sun-burnt, homesick girl,
how Uncle George's grand manner overwhelmed her. He always just
glanced at her with a look that seemed to say: Some time, you obscure
mite, when I feel more like it, when I feel like amusing myself with a