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The Baldwin Library
i Unmeers ity
'"Fairy stories DO happen!" she said. "Oh! just think how like
a fairy king you are."'
it torp of the Citi Beautiful
FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT
LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY" "THAT LASS 0' LOWRIE'S "THE CAPTAIN'S YOUNGEST"
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY R. IV. MACBETI, A.R.A.
FREDERICK WARNE AND CO.
BEDFORD STREET, STRAND
[All Rights Reserved]
ENTERED AT STATIONERS' HALL
I. THERE IS A CITY BEAUTIFUL. 9
II. THE BOTTOM OF THE HILL OF DIFFICULTY 22
III. THE FIRST STEP UP 33
IV. A STEP HIGHER 42
V. HUMAN BEINGS CAN DO ANYTHING THEY SET
THEIR MINDS TO 53
VI. BURDENS DON'T FALL OFF BY THEMSELVES 62
VII. HAND IN HAND THEY WENT OUT ON THE
ROAD TOGETHER 72
VIII. "AND WE ARE PEOPLE TOO" 82
IX. IT IS THE DAY! 92
X. MORE PILGRIMS ARE COME TO TOWN 103
XI. THE THING THAT THINKS 113
XII. WELL--E" 124
XIII. EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD HAS SOMETHING
TO GIVE 135
XIV. BEN 145
XV. JOHN HOLT 154
XVI. THE BEGINNING OF A FAIRY STORY 163
XVII. THE FAIRY STORY CONTINUED 173
XVIII. ENTER AUNT MATILDA 184
XIX. THE BIG HOUSE WOULD SEEM EMPTY NO MORE 194
XX. IT WON'T VANISH AWAY. 206
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
R. W. MACBETH, A.R.A.
" FAIRY STORIES DO HAPPEN!" SHE SAID. "OH !
JUST THINK HOW LIKE A FAIRY KING YOU
SHE HEARD ROBIN HURRYING UP THE LADDER to face 20
"HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU BEGAN TO
MEG LOOKED RATHER LIKE A LITTLE WITCH AS
SHE STOOD OVER THE BUBBLING OLD POT 78
"IF YOU LEAN AGAINST ME, ROB," SHE SAID,
"IT WILL BE SOFTER" 5
SHE PRESENTLY BROUGHT BACK TWO GOOD
CUPS OF HOT COFFEE toface 108
"MEG! MEG! WE ARE THERE!" 115
"THOSE PEOPLE HAVE PLENTY TO EAT". 132
"HAVE YOU A ROOM WHERE MY SISTER COULD
"NOW," SAID MEG, "OPEN THEM-SUDDENLY to face 157
"LOOK HERE," HE SAID, "YOU'RE TIRED 168
"DON'T YOU THINK YOU KNOW WHAT SHE
WAS LIKE?" .211
TWO LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
THERE IS A CITY BEAUTIFUL
_r72 HE sun had set and the shadows were
deepening in the big barn. The last
red glow-the very last bit which
reached the corner the children called
the Straw Parlour-had died away, and Meg drew
her knees up higher so as to bring the pages of her
book nearer to her eyes as the twilight deepened
and it became harder to read. It was her bitterest
grievance that this was what always happened when
she became most interested and excited-the light
began to fade away, and the shadows to fill all the
corners and close in about her.
She frowned as it happened now-a fierce little
frown, which knitted her childish, black brows, as she
pored over her book devouring the page with the
10 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
determination to seize on as much as was possible. It
was like running a desperate race with the darkness.
She was a determined child, and no one could have
failed to guess as much who could have watched her
for a few moments as she sat on her curious perch,
her cheeks supported by her hands, her shock of
straight black hair tumbled over her forehead.
The Straw Parlour was the top of a straw stack in
Aunt Matilda's barn. Robin had discovered it one
day by climbing a ladder which had been left leaning
against the stack, and when he had found himself on
the top of it he had been enchanted by the feeling it
gave him of being so high above the world, and had
called Meg up to share it with him.
She had been even more enchanted than he.
They both hated the world down below-Aunt
Matilda's world, which seemed hideous and exaspera-
ting and sordid to them in its contrast to the world
they had lived in before their father and mother had
died and they had been sent to their sole relation,
who did not want them, and only took them in from
respect to public opinion. Three years they had been
with Aunt Matilda, and each week had seemed more
unpleasant than the last. Mrs. Matilda Jennings was
a renowned female farmer of Illinois, and she was far
too energetic a manager and business woman to have
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 11
time to spend with children. She had an enormous
farm, and managed it herself with a success and
ability which made her celebrated in agricultural
papers. If she had not given her dead brother's
children a home they would have starved, or been
sent to the poorhouse. Accordingly, she gave them
food to eat and beds to sleep in, but she scarcely ever
had time to notice them. If she had had time to talk
to them, she had nothing to say. She cared for
nothing but crops and new threshing-machines and
fertilisers; and they knew nothing about such things.
"She never says anything but 'Go to bed,' 'Keep
out of the way.' She's not like a woman at all," Meg
commented once; "she's like a man in woman's
Their father had been rather like a woman in man's
clothes. He was a gentle, little, slender man, with a
large head. He had always been poor, and Mrs.
Matilda Jennings had regarded him as a contemptible
failure. He had had no faculty for business or farm-
ing. He had taught school and married a school-
teacher. They had had a small house, but somehow
it had been as cosy as it was tiny. They had man-
aged to surround themselves with an atmosphere of
books by buying the cheap ones they could afford, and
borrowing the expensive ones from friends and circu-
12 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
lating libraries. The twins-Meg and Robin-had
heard stories and read books all the first years of
their lives as they sat in their little seats by the small,
warm fireside. In Aunt Matilda's bare, cold house
there was not a book to be seen. A few agricultural
papers were scattered about. Meals were hurried
over as necessary evils. The few people who appeared
on the scene were farmers who talked about agricul-
tural implements and the wheat market.
"It's such a bare place," Robin used to say, and he
would drive his hands into the depths of his pockets
and set his square little jaw, and stare before him.
Both the twins had that square little jaw. Neither
of them looked like their father and mother-except
that from their mother they inherited black hair.
Robin's eyes were black, but Meg's were grey with
thick black lashes. They were handsome little creat-
ures, but their shocks of straight black hair, their
straight black brows and square little jaws, made them
look curiously unlike other children. They both re-
membered one winter evening when, as they sat on their
seat by the fire, their father, after looking at them
with a half smile for a moment or so, began to laugh.
"Margaret," he said to their mother, "do you know
who those two are like ? You have heard me speak
of Matilda often enough."
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 13
"Oh, Robert!" she exclaimed, "surely they are not
"Well, perhaps it is too much to say they are like
her," he answered, "but there is something in their
faces that reminds me of her strongly. I don't know
what it is exactly, but it is there. It is a good thing,
perhaps," with a sad tone in his voice; Matilda
always did what she made up her mind to do.
Matilda was a success. I was always a failure."
"Oh no, Bob," she said, "not a failure !"
She had put her hand on his shoulder, and he lifted
it and pressed it against his thin cheek.
"Wasn't I, Maggie ?" he said gently. "Wasn't I ?
Well, I think these two will be like Matilda in mak-
ing up their minds and getting what they want."
Before the winter was over, Robin and Meg were
orphans, and were with Aunt Matilda; and there they
had been ever since.
Until the day they found the Straw Parlour, it
had seemed as if no corner on the earth belonged to
them. Meg slept in a cot in a farm-servant's room,
Robin shared a room with someone else. Nobody
took any notice of them.
When anyone meets us," Meg said, "they always
look surprised. Dogs which are not allowed in the
house are like us. The only difference is that they
14 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
don't drive us out-but we are just as much in the
I know," said Robin, "if it wasn't for you, Meg,
I should run away."
"Where?" said Meg.
Somewhere," said Robin, setting his jaw; I'd find
"If it wasn't for you," said Meg, "I should be so
lonely that I should walk into the river. I wouldn't
It is worth noticing that she did not say, "I could
not stand it."
But after the day they found the Straw Parlour
they had an abiding-place. It was Meg who pre-
empted it before she had been on the top of the stack
five minutes. After she had stumbled around for a
while looking about her, she stopped short and looked
down into the barn.
"Robin," she said, this is another world. We are
miles and miles away from Aunt Matilda. Let us
make this into our home-just yours and mine, and
"We are in nobody's way-nobody will ever know
where we are," said Robin; "nobody ever asks, you
know. Meg, it will be just like our own. We will
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
And so they did. On fine days when they were
tired of playing, they climbed the ladder to rest
on the heaps of yellow straw; on wet days they
lay and told each other stories, or built caves, or read
their old favourite books over again. The stack was
a very high one, and the roof seemed like a sort of
big tent above their heads, and the barn floor a
wonderful, exaggeratedly long distance below. The
birds which had nests on the rafters became accustomed
to them, and one of the children's chief entertainments
was to lie and watch the mothers and fathers carry
on their domestic arrangements, feeding their young
ones, and quarrelling a little sometimes about the way
to bring them up. The twins invented a weird little
cry with which they called each other if one was in
the Straw Parlour and the other one entered the barn,
to find out whether it was occupied or not. They
never mounted to the Straw Parlour or descended
from it if anyone was within sight. This was their
secret. They wanted to feel that it was very high
and far away from Aunt Matilda's world, and if any-
one had known where they were, or had spoken
to them from below, the charm would have been
This afternoon, as Meg pored over her book, she was
waiting for Robin. He had been away all day. At
16 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
twelve years old Robin was not of a light mind.
When he had been only six years old he had had
serious plans. He had decided that he would be a
great inventor. He had also decided-a little later-
that he would not be poor like his father, but would
be very rich. He had begun by having a savings
bank into which he put rigorously every penny that
was given to him. He had been so quaintly system-
atic about it that people were amused and gave him
pennies instead of candy and toys. He kept a little
banking-book of his own. If he had been stingy he
would have been a very unpleasant little boy, but
he was only strict with himself. He was capable of
taking from his capital to do the gentlemanly thing
by Meg at Christmas.
"He has the spirit of the financier, that is all," said
Since he had been with Aunt Matilda he had found
opportunities to earn a trifle now and then. On
the big place there were small troublesome duties the
farm hands found he could be relied on to do, which
they were willing to pay for. They found out that
he never failed them.
"Smart little chap," they said. "Always up to
time when he undertakes a thing."
To-day he had been steadily at work under the
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 17
head man. Aunt Matilda had no objection to his odd
"He has his living to earn, and he may as well
begin," she said.
So Meg had been alone since morning. She
had only one duty to perform and then she was free.
The first Spring they had been with Aunt Matilda
Robin had invested in a few chickens, and their
rigorous care of them had resulted in such success
that the chickens had become a sort of centre of
existence to them. They could always build any
dreams of the future upon the fortune to be gained
by chickens. You could calculate on bits of paper
about chickens and eggs until your head whirled at
the magnitude of your prospects. Meg's duty was to
feed them and show them scrupulous attention when
Robin was away.
After she had attended to them she went to the barn
and, finding it empty, climbed up to the Straw Par-
lour with an old Pilgrim's Progress to spend the day.
She was particularly fond of the Pilgrim's Progress,
and she had made Rob fond of it. She used to read
it aloud to him as they lay on the straw. She was a
child with an imagination, and she used to invent new
adventures for Christian as he toiled up the Hill of
Difficulty. Robin thought her incidents more exciting
18 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
than John Bunyan's. She had a realistic way of
relating them. But her great addition to the story was
her description of the City on the Hill, which she
always followed Christian into, and which she called the
City Beautiful. She had invented a City Beautiful
of her own. In it there were all the things she and
Robin wanted and all the joys they yearned for.
Their father and mother were there, and she and
Robin lived with them in a sort of fairy palace, which
it was her delight to add to the plan and contents of,
every time she told the story and they wanted a new
possession. It was so rapturous to be able to say-
"And on one floor of the house there was a corner
room full of little machines and everything to work
them and mend them-and there were shelves and
shelves-full of books about inventions, and bottles of
chemicals-that was for you, Rob."
Electric motors ?" Rob would put in eagerly.
"All kinds of motors," she would answer with
deliberation-" all kinds. You could work anything
and have any number of horse-power you liked,
because there were new inventions there that have
not been made yet."
When Robin was low-spirited she always described
this room and added to its contents. When he was
in a happier state of mind and the day was beautiful,
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 19
she would lead him through the streets of the City
Beautiful in a different mood-a dreamy sort of mood.
"There were tall trees covered with white lilies,"
she would say. "They were on each side of the
streets-and they swayed and the lilies swung like
great white bells and the sweetness shook out of
them and was in all the air the people breathed, and
there was a strange golden light-like the light in
the morning-and the houses were as white as snow,
and had slender pillars and archways, and courts
with flowers and fountains. And you could see
lovely people in delicate, soft-floating robes-not all
white robes, but pale flower colours-and everybody
had a little smile, and a look as if their eyes were
stars." She would dream on in this way sometimes
for a long time, and her own eyes would grow large
and sometimes shine so that Robin knew that in a
little while the brightness would fill them and brim
over and fall in two large splendid drops on to the
straw, which they would both pretend not to see.
This afternoon, when the light began to redden and
then to die away, she and Christian were very near
the gates. She longed so to go in with him, and
was yearning towards him with breathless eagerness,
when she heard Robin's cry below coming up from
the barn floor.
20 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
- She sprang up with a start, feeling bewildered a
second, before she answered. The City Beautiful was
such millions-such millions of miles away from Aunt
Matilda's barn. She found herself breathing quickly
and rubbing her eyes as she heard Robin hurrying up
Somehow she felt as if he was rather in a hurry,
and when his small, black shock head and wide-
awake, black eyes appeared above the straw, she had a
vague feeling that he was excited and that he had come
from another world. He clambered on to the stack,
and made his way to her and threw himself full
length on the straw at her side.
"Meg!" he said. "Hello you look as if you were
in a dream! Wake up! Jones and Jerry are coming
to the barn. I hurried to get here before them.
They're talking about something I want you to hear-
something new! Wake up!"
"Oh, Robin!" said Meg, clutching her book and
coming back to earth with a sigh. "I don't want to
hear Jones and Jerry. I don't want to hear any of
the people down there; I've been reading the Pil-
grim's Progress, and I do wish-I do so wish there
was a City Beautiful."
Robin gave a queer little laugh. He really was
'She heard Robin hurrying up the ladder.'
f -:-~'3t~:Y' 'li
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 21
"There is going to be one," he said. "Jones and
Jerry don't really know it-but it is something like
that they are talking about-a City Beautiful-a real
one-on this earth, and only two hundred miles away.
Let's get near the edge and listen."
THE BOTTOM OF THE HILL OF
l HEY drew as near to the edge as they
(c,:.uld without being seen. Meg did
u,:t understand in the least. Robin
was not given to practical jokes, but
what he had said sounded rather as if there was a
joke somewhere. But she saw Jones and Jerry enter
the barn, and saw before they entered that they were
deep in talk. It was Jones who was speaking. Jones
was Aunt Matilda's head man, and was an authority
on many things.
"There's been exhibitions and fairs all over the
world," he was saying, "but there's been nothing like
what this will be. It will be a City-that's what it'll
be-and all the world is going to be in it. They are
going to build it fronting on the water, and bank the
water up into lakes and canals, and build places like
white palaces beside them and decorate the grounds
with statues and palms and flowers and fountains, and
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
there's not a country on earth that won't send things
to fill the buildings, and there won't be anything a
man can't see by going through 'em. It'll be as good
as a college course to spend a week there."
Meg drew a little closer to Robin on the straw.
"What are they talking about ?" she whispered.
"Listen," said Rob.
Jerry, who was moving about at some work below,
gave a chuckling laugh.
"Trust 'em to do the biggest thing yet-or bust-
them Chicago people," he said. "It's got to be the
biggest thing-a Chicago Fair."
"It's not goin' to be the Chicago Fair," Jones said.
"They're not goin' to put up with no such idea as
that! It's the World's Fair They're goin' to ring in
That's Chicago out and out," said Jerry. Buildin's
twenty stories high, an' the thermometer twenty-five
degrees below zero-an' a World's Fair-Christopher
Columbus! I'd like to see it!"
"I bet Christopher Columbus would like to see it !"
said Jones. "It's out of compliment to him they're
getting it up-for discovering Chicago."
Well, I didn't know he made his name that way
particular," said Jerry. "Thought what he prided
hisself on was discovering' America."
24 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
"Same thing," said Jones, "same thing! Wouldn't
have had much to blow about and have statues set up
and comic operas written about him if it had only
been America he'd discovered. Chicago does him full
justice, an' she's goin' to give him a send-off that'll be
a credit to her."
Robin smothered a little laugh in his coat sleeve.
He was quite used to hearing jokes about Chicago.
The people in the country round were enormously
proud of it, and its great schemes and great buildings
and multi-millionaires, but those who were given to
jokes had the habit of being jocular about it, just as
they had the habit of proclaiming and dwelling upon
its rush and wealth and enterprise. But Meg was not
a jocular person. She was too intense and easily
excited. She gave Robin an impatient nudge with her
elbow, not in reproof, but as a sort of irrepressible
"I wish they wouldn't be funny!" she exclaimed.
"I want them to tell more about it. I wish they'd
But they did not go on-at least not in the way that
was satisfactory. They only remained in the barn a
short time longer, and they were busy with the work
they had come to do. Meg craned her neck and
listened, but they did not "tell more," and she was
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
glad when they went away, so that she could turn to
"Don't you know more than that?" she said. "Is
it true? What have you heard ? Tell me yourself!"
"I've heard a lot to-day," said Robin. "They were
all talking about it all the time, and I meant to tell
you myself, only I saw Jones and Jerry coming, and
thought perhaps we should hear something more if
They clambered over to the corner and made them-
selves comfortable. Robin lay on his back, but Meg
leaned on her elbows as usual, with her cheek resting
on her hands. Her black elf locks hung over her
forehead, and her big eyes shone.
"Rob," she said, "go on. What's the rest?"
"The rest?" he said. "It would take a week to
tell it all, I should think. But it's going to be the
most wonderful thing in the world. They are going
to build a place that will be like a white, beautiful
city on the borders of the lake-that was why I called
it the City Beautiful. It won't be on the top of a
hill, of course."
"But if it is on the edge of the lake, and the sun
shines and the big water is blue, and there are shining
white places, it will be better, I believe," said Meg.
"What is going to be in the city?"
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
"Everything in the world," said Robin. "Things
from everywhere-from every country."
"There are a great many countries," said Meg.
"You know how it is in the geography. Europe,
Asia, and Africa, as well as America, Spain and
Portugal, and France and England, and Norway and
Russia and Lapland, and India, and Italy and
Switzerland, and all the others."
"There will be things, and people, brought from
them all. I heard them say so. They say there will
be villages with people walking about in them."
"As they walk about when they are at home ?"
"Yes, in the queer clothes they wear in their own
countries. There's going to be an Esquimaux village."
"With dogs and sledges ?" cried Meg, lifting her
"Yes, and you know that place in Italy, where the
streets are made of water"-
"It's Venice," said Meg. "And they go about in
boats called gondolas"-
"And the mc-i who take them about are called
gondoliers," interrupted Robin. "And they have
scarves and red caps. There will be gondolas at the
Fair, and people can get into them and go about the
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 27
"Just as they do in Venice ?" Meg gasped.
"Just as they do in Venice. And it will be the
same with all the other countries. It will be as if
they were all brought there-Spanish places and
Egyptian places and German places, and French and
Italian and Irish and Scotch and English, and all the
"To go there would be like travelling all over the
world," cried Meg.
"Yes," said Rob excitedly; "and all the trades will
be there, and all the machines, and inventions, and
books, and statues, and scientific things, and wonder-
ful things, and everything anyone wants to learn
about in all the world !"
In his excitement his words had become so rapid
that they almost tumbled over each other, and he said
the last sentence in a rush. There were red spots on
his cheeks, and a queer look in his black eyes. He
had been listening to descriptions of this thing all
day. A new hand, hot from the excitement in
Chicago, had been among the workers. Apparently
he had heard of nothing else, thought of nothing else,
talked of nothing else, and dreamed of nothing else
but the World's Fair for weeks. Finding himself
among people who had only bucolic and vague ideas
about it, he had poured forth all he knew, and, being
28 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
a rather good talker, had aroused great excitement.
Robin had listened with eyes and ears wide open.
He was a young human being born so full of energy
and enterprise that the dull prosaic emptiness of his
life in Aunt Matilda's world had been more horrible
than if he had been old enough to realise. He could
not have explained why it had seemed so maddening
to him, but the truth was that in his small boyish
body was imprisoned the force and ability which in
manhood build great schemes, and not only build but
carry them out. In him was imprisoned one of the
great business men, inventors or political powers of
the new century. But of this he knew nothing, and
so ate his young heart out in Aunt Matilda's world,
sought refuge with Meg in the Straw Parlour, and was
bitterly miserable and at a loss.
How he had drunk in every word the man from
Chicago had uttered! How he had edged near to
him, and tried not to lose him for a moment, and had
hoarded up every sentence! If he had not been a
man in embryo, and a strong and clear- headed
creature, he would have done his work badly. But
he never did his work badly. He held on like a little
bull-dog, and thought of what Meg would say when
they sat in the straw together. Small wonder that
he looked excited when his black head appeared
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 29
above the edge of the straw. He was wrought up to
the highest pitch. Small wonder that there were
deep red spots on his cheeks, and that there was a
queer intense look in his eyes and about his obstinate
little mouth. He threw up his arms with a desperate
"Everything," he said again, staring straight before
him, "that anyone could want to learn about-every-
thing in all the world."
"Oh, Robin!" said Meg, in quite a fierce little
voice. "And we-we shall never see it!"
She saw Robin clench his hands though he said
nothing, and it made her clench her own hands.
Rob's were rough, little, square-fingered fists, brown
and muscular. Meg's hands were long fingered,
flexible, and slender, but they made good little fists
when they doubled themselves up.
Rob," she said, we never see anything-we never
hear anything-we never learn anything. If some-
thing doesn't happen, we shall be Nothings-that's
what we shall be-Nothings." And she struck her
fists upon the straw.
Rob's jaw began to look very square, but he did
We are twelve years old," Meg went on. We've
been here three years, and we don't know one thing
30 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
we didn't know when we came here. If we had been
with father and mother, we should have been learning
things all the time. We haven't one thing of our
own, Rob, but the chickens and the Straw Parlour,
and the Straw Parlour might be taken away from us."
Rob's square jaw relaxed just sufficiently to allo'
of a grim little grin.
"We've got the Treasure, Meg," he said.
Meg's laugh had rather a hysterical sound. That
she should not have mentioned the Treasure among
their belongings was queer. They talked so much
about the Treasure. At this moment it was buried, in
an iron bank, deep in the straw, about four feet from
where they sat. It was the very bank Robin had
hoarded his savings in when he had begun at six
years old with pennies, and a ten cent blank-book to
keep his accounts in. Everything they had owned
since then had been pushed or dropped into it; all
the chicken and egg money, and all Robin had earned
by doing odd jobs for anyone who would give him
one. Nobody knew about the old iron bank, any
more than they knew about the Straw Parlour, and
the children having buried it in the straw, called it
the Treasure. Meg's stories about it were numerous
and wonderful. Magicians came and multiplied it a
hundredfold; sometimes robbers stole it, and they
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
pursued them with wild adventure; but perhaps the
most satisfactory thing was to invent ways to spend
it when it had grown to enormous proportions.
Sometimes they bought a house in New York, and
lived there together; sometimes they travelled in
foreign lands with it; sometimes they bought land
which increased in value to such an extent that they
were millionaires in a month. Ah, it was a Treasure
After the little, low, overstrained laugh, Meg folded
her arms on the straw, and hid her face in them.
Robin looked at her with a troubled air for about a
minute. Then he spoke to her.
"It's no use doing that," he said.
"It's no use doing anything," Meg answered, her
voice muffled in her arms. "I don't want to do this
any more than you do. We're so lonely."
"Yes, we're lonely," said Robin. "That's a fact."
And he stared up at the dark rafters above him, and
at some birds who were clinging to them and twitter-
ing about a nest.
"I said I wished there was a City Beautiful," Meg
said; "but it seems to make it worse-that there is
going to be something like it-so near-and then
that we should never get any nearer to it than two
32 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
Rob sat up and locked his hands together round
"How do you know?" he said.
How do I know ?" cried Meg desperately, and she
lifted her head, turning her wet face sideways to look
at him. He unlocked his hands to give his forehead
a hard rub, as if he was trying either to rub some
thought out of or into it.
"Just because we are lonely there is use in doing
things," he said. "There's nobody to do them for us.
At anyrate, we've got as far on the way to the City
as the bottom of the Hill of Difficulty."
And he gave his forehead another rub, and looked
straight before him; and Meg drew a little closer to
him in the straw, and the family of birds filled the
silence with domestic twitters.
THE FIRST STEP UP
URING the weeks that followed they
spent more time than ever in their
'i hiding-place. They had always been
in the habit of scrambling up to their
beloved refuge, when they could slip away there and
adjust their ladder, and have time to climb up when
there was no one about to see them. This was not
an easy thing when the kind of work was being done
which obliged the farm hands to pass in and out
of the barn or anywhere near it. They had realized
that it would not do for people to see the ladder too
often in one place and position, or to find it moving
itself from one point to another in a way not to be
at all explained by ordinary practical farm reasons.
Together they had discussed the matter with a great
deal of seriousness. It was indeed a serious affair.
Without the aid of the ladder their Straw Parlour
was an unattainable paradise, but to use it without
the exercise of proper precaution would betray them
34 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
to the enemy. They could not help regarding as an
enemy anyone who might come between them and
their fortress. So when they went to the barn they
first reconnoitred carefully, and then were particular
about mounting at different points. When they took
the ladder they noticed particularly the position it
occupied, and always returned it to exactly the same
place and arranged it at the same angle. But it was
not always possible to follow these precautions when
they were in the mood to desire to retire to seclusion.
And in these days they had so much to talk about
that the mood was upon them even more frequently
than it had ever been.
They had an absorbing topic of conversation. A
new and wonderful thing, better than their old books,
even better than the stories Meg made, when she lay
on the straw, her elbows supporting her, her cheeks
on her hands, and her black-lashed grey eyes staring
into space. Hers were always good stories, full of
palaces and knights and robber-chiefs and fairies,
but this new thing had the thrill of being a fairy
story which was real-so real that one could read
about it in the newspapers, and everybody was talking
about it, even Aunt Matilda, her neighbours, and the
work hands on the farm. To the two lonely children
in their high nest in the straw stack it seemed a
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
curious thing to hear these people in the world below
talk about it in their ordinary everyday way, with-
out excitement or awe-as if it was a new kind of
big ploughing or winnowing machine. To them it
was a thing so beautiful that they could scarcely find
the words to express their thoughts and dreams about
it, and yet they were never alone together without
trying to do so.
On wet cheerless days, in which they huddled close
together in their nest to keep from being chilled, it
was their comfort to try to imagine and paint pictures
of the various wonders, until in their interest they
forgot the dampness of the air and felt the unending
patter of the rain on the barn roof merely a pleasant
sort of accompaniment to the stories of their fancies.
Since the day when they had listened to Jones and
Jerry down there below them in the barn, Rob had
formed the habit of collecting every scrap of news-
paper relating to the wonder. He cut paragraphs out
of Aunt Matilda's cast-aside newspapers; he begged
them from the farm hands and from the country
storekeeper. Anything in the form of an illustration
he held as a treasure beyond price, and hoarded it to
bring to Meg with exultant joy.
How they pored over these things, reading the
paragraphs again and again until they knew them
36 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
almost by heart. How they studied the pictures,
trying to gather the proportions and colour of every
column or dome or arch! What enthusiast living in
Chicago itself knew the marvel as they did, and so
dwelt on and revelled in its beauties! No one knew
of their pleasure-like the Straw Parlour, it was a
secret. The strangeness of their lives lay in the fact
that absolutely no one knew anything about them at
all-or asked anything, thinking it quite enough that
their friendlessness was supplied with enough animal
heat and nourishment to keep their bodies alive.
Of that other part of them-their restless, growing
young brains, and naturally craving hearts, which in
their own poor enough but still human little home
had at least been recognized and cared for-Aunt
Matilda knew nothing, and indeed had never given a
thought to. She had not undertaken the care of
intelligence and affections; her own were not of
an order to require supervision. She was too much
occupied with her five-hundred-acre farm and the
amazing things she was doing with it. That the
children could read and write and understand some
arithmetic she knew. She had learned no more
herself, and had found it enough to build her fortune
upon. She had never known what it was to feel
lonely and neglected, because she was a person quite
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 37
free from affections, and quite enough for herself.
She never suspected that others could suffer from a
weakness of which she knew nothing, because it had
never touched her.
If anyone had told her that these two children, who
ate their plentiful, rough meals at her table, among
field hands and servants, were neglected and lonely,
and that their own knowledge of it burned in their
childish minds, she would have thought the announce-
ment a piece of idle, sentimental folly; but that there
was no solid detail of her farming a fact more real
than this one, was the grievous truth.
When we were at home," was Meg's summing up
of the situation, "at least we belonged to somebody.
We were poor and wore our clothes a long time, and
had shabby shoes and couldn't go on excursions; but
we had our own little bench by the fire, and father
and mother used to talk to us and let us read their
books and papers, and try to teach us things. I don't
know what we were going to be when we grew up,
but we were going to do some sort of work, and know
as much as father and mother did. I don't know
whether that was a great deal or not-but it was
"It was enough to teach school," said Robin. "If
we were not so far out in the country now I believe
38 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
Aunt Matilda would let us go to school if we asked
her. It wouldn't cost her anything if we went to the
"She wouldn't if we didn't ask her," said Meg.
"She would never think of it herself. Do you know
what I was thinking yesterday. I was looking at
the pigs in their sty. Some of them were eating, and
one was full and was lying down going to sleep.
And I said to myself, 'Robin and I are just like you.
We live just like you. We eat our food and go to
bed, and get up again and eat some more food. We
don't learn anything more than you do, and we are
not worth so much to anybody-we are not even
worth killing at Christmas."'
If they had never known any other life, or if Nature
had not given them the big, questioning eyes, and
square little jaws and strong nervous little fists, they
might have been content to sink into careless idleness
and apathy. No one was actively unkind to them-
they had their Straw Parlour and were free to amuse
themselves as they chose. But they had been made
of the material of which the world's workers are built,
and their young hearts were full of a restlessness and
longing whose full significance they themselves did
And the wonder working in the world beyond them,
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 39
-this huge, beautiful marvel, planned by the human
brain and carried out by mere human hands, this great
thing with which all the world seemed to them to be
throbbing, and which seemed to set no limit to itself
and prove that there was no limit to the power of
human wills and minds,-this filled them with a
passion of restlessness and yearning greater than they
had ever known before.
"It is an enchanted thing, you know, Robin-it's an
enchanted thing," Meg said one day, looking up from
her study of some newspaper clippings and a magazine
with some pictures in it.
It seems like it," said Robin.
"I'm sure it's enchanted," Meg went on. "It seems
so tremendous that people should think they could do
such huge things-as if they felt as if they could do
anything or bring anything from anywhere in the
world! It almost frightens me sometimes, because it
reminds me of the Tower of Babel. Don't you re-
member how the people got so proud that they thought
they could do anything-and they began to build
the tower that was to reach to heaven. And then
they all woke up one morning and found they
were all speaking different languages, and could not
understand each other. Suppose everybody was
suddenly struck like that some morning now-I
40 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
mean the Fair people," widening her eyes with a
"They won't be," said Rob. "Those things have
"Yes, they have," said Meg. "Sometimes I wish
they hadn't. If they hadn't-perhaps-perhaps if we
made burnt-offerings, we might be taken by a miracle
to see the World's Fair."
"We haven't anything to burn," said Rob rather
"We've got the chickens," Meg answered as
gloomily, "but it wouldn't do any good. Miracles
"The world is all different," said Robin. "You
have to do your miracle yourself."
"It will be a miracle," Meg said, "if we ever get
away from Aunt Matilda's world, and live like people
instead of like pigs who are comfortable; and we
shall have to perform it ourselves."
"There is no one else," said Robin. "You see there
is no one else in the world."
He threw out his hand and clutched Meg's, which
was lying on the straw near him. He did not know
why he clutched it; he did not in the least know why,
nor did she know why a queer sound in his voice
suddenly made her feel their unfriendedness in a way
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 41
that overwhelmed her. She found herself looking
at him with a hard lump rising in her throat. It was
one of the rainy days, and the hollow drumming and
patter of the big drops on the roof seemed somehow
to shut them in with their loneliness away from all
"It's a strange thing," she said, almost under her
breath, "to be two children-only just twelve years
old-and to be quite by ourselves in such a big world,
where there are such millions and millions of people
all busy doing things and making great plans, and
none of them knowing about us or caring what we
are going to do."
"If we work our miracle ourselves," said Rob, hold-
ing her hand quite tight, "it will be better than
having it worked for us. Meg!" as if he were begin-
ning a new subject, "Meg!"
What ?" she answered, still feeling the hard lump
in her throat.
"Do you think we are going to stay here always?"
"I-oh, Robin, I don't know."
"Well, I do then. We are not-and that's the
first step up the Hill of Difficulty."
A STEP HIGHER
A( LL their lives the children had acted
in unison.. When they had been tiny
creatures they had played the same
S games and used the same toys. It
had seemed of little importance that their belongings
were those of a boy and girl. When Robin had
played with tops and marbles, Meg had played with
them too. When Meg had been in a domestic and
maternal mood, and had turned to dolls and dolls'
housekeeping, Robin had assumed some masculine
r61e connected with the amusement. It had enter-
tained him as much at times to be the dolls' doctor,
or the carpenter who repaired the dolls' furniture, or
made plans for the enlargement of the dolls' house,
as it had entertained Meg to sew the flags and dress
the sailors who manned his miniature ships, and assist
him with the tails of his kites. They had had few
playmates, and had pleased each other far better than
outsiders could have done.
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 43
"It's because we are twins,' Meg said. "Twins are
made alike, and so they like the same things. I'm
glad I'm a twin. If I had to be born again and be
an un-twin, I'm sure I should be lonely."
"I don't think it matters whether you are a boy or
a girl if you are a twin," said Robin, "you are a part
of the other one, and so it's as if you were both."
They had never had secrets from each other. They
had read the same books as they grew older, been
thrilled by the same stories, and shared in each other's
plans and imaginings or depressions. So it was a
curious thing that at this special time, when they were
drawn nearer to one another by an unusual interest
and sympathy, there should have arrived a morning
when each rose with a thought unshared by the other.
Aunt Matilda was very busy that day. She was
always busy, but this morning seemed more actively
occupied than usual. She never appeared to sit down
unless to dispose of a hurried meal or go over accounts.
She was a wonderful woman, and the twins knew that
the most objectionable thing they could do was not
to remove themselves after a repast was over. But
this morning Meg walked over to a chair and firmly
sat down in it and watched her as she vigorously
moved things about, rubbed dust off them and put them
into their right places.
44 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
Meg's eyes were fixed on her very steadily. She
wondered if it was true that she and Robin were like
her, and if they would be more like her when they
" HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU BEGAN TO WORK ?"
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 45
had reached her age, and what would have happened
to them before that time came. It was true that
Aunt Matilda had a square jaw also. It was not an
encouraging thing to contemplate. In fact, as she
looked at her, Meg felt her heart begin a slow, steady
thumping. But as it thumped she was getting herself
in hand with such determination that when she at last
spoke her chin looked very square indeed, and her
black-lashed eyes were as nearly stern as a child's
eyes can look.
"Aunt Matilda," she said suddenly.
"Well," and a tablecloth was whisked off and
"I want to talk to you."
"Talk in a hurry then-I've no time to waste in
How old were you when you began to work and
Aunt Matilda smiled grimly.
"I worked out for my board when I was ten years
old," she said. Me and your father were left orphans
and we had to work-or starve. When I was twelve
I got a place to wash dishes and look after children
and run errands, and I got fifty cents a week, because
it was out in the country and girls wouldn't stay
46 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
"Do you know how old I am ?" asked Meg.
"I'm twelve years old." She got up from her chair
and walked across the room and stood looking up at
Aunt Matilda. "I'm an orphan too, and so is Robin,"
she said, "and we have to work. You give us a place
to stay in, but-there are other things. We have no
one, and we have to do things ourselves. And we are
twelve-and twelve is a good age for people who have
to do things for themselves. Is there anything in this
house-or in the dairy-or on the farm-that would
be worth wages-that I could do ? I don't care how
hard it is, if I can do it."
If Aunt Matilda had been a woman of sentiment,
she might have been moved by the odd, unchildish
tenseness and sternness of the little figure, and, the
straight, gazing eyes which looked up at her from
under the thick black hair tumbling in short locks
over the forehead. Twelve years old was very young
to stand and stare the world in the face with such
eyes. But she was not a woman of sentiment, and
her life had been spent among people who knew their
right to live could only be won by hard work, and
who began the fight early. So she looked at the
child without any emotion whatever.
"Do you suppose you could more than earn your
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
board if I put you in the dairy and let you help
there?" she said.
"Yes," answered Meg unflinchingly. I know I
could. I'm strong for my age, and I've watched them
doing things there. I can wash pans and bowls and
cloths, and carry things about, and go anywhere I'm
told. I know how clean things have to be kept."
Well," said Aunt Matilda, looking her over sharply,
"they have, been complaining about the work being
too much for them lately. You go in there this
morning and see what you can do. You shall have
fifty cents a week, if you're worth it. You're right
about its being time that you should begin earning
"Thank you, ma'am," said Meg, and she turned
round and walked away in the direction of the dairy,
with two deep red spots on her cheeks, and her heart
thumping again though this time it thumped
She reached the scene of action in the midst of a
rush of work, and after their first rather exasperated
surprise at so immature and inexperienced a creature
being supposed to be able to help them, the women
found plenty for her to do. She said so few words
and looked so little afraid that she made a sort of
impression on them.
48 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
See," she said to the head woman, "Aunt Matilda
didn't send me to do things that need teaching. Just
tell me the little things-it doesn't matter what-and
I'll do them. I can."
How she worked that morning-how she ran on
errands-how she carried this and that-how she
washed and scrubbed milk pans-and how all her
tasks were menial and apparently trivial though
entirely necessary, and how the activity and rapidity
and unceasingness of them tried her unaccustomed
young body, and finally made her limbs ache and her
back feel as if it might break at some unexpected
moment,-Meg never forgot. But such was the
desperation of her indomitable little spirit, and the
unconquerable will she had been born with, that when
it was over she was no more in the mood for giving
up than she had been when she walked in among the
workers after her interview with Aunt Matilda.
When dinner time came she walked up to Mrs.
Macartney, the manager of the dairy work, and asked
her a question.
Have I helped you ?" she said.
"Yes, you have," said the woman, who was by no
means an ill natured creature for a hard driven
woman. "You've done first-rate."
Will you tell Aunt Matilda that ?" said Meg.
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 49
"Yes," was the answer.
Meg was standing with her hands clasped tightly
behind her back, and she looked at Mrs. Macartney
very straight and hard from under her black brows.
"Mrs. Macartney," she said, "if I'm worth it, Aunt
Matilda will give me fifty cents a week-and it's time
I began to work for my living. Am I worth that
"Yes, you are," said Mrs. Macartney, "if you go
on as you've begun."
"I shall go on as I've begun," said Meg. "Thank
you, ma'am." And she walked back to the house.
After dinner she waited to speak to Aunt Matilda
"I went to the dairy," she said.
"I know you did," Aunt Matilda answered. "Mrs.
Macartney told me about it. You can go on. I'll give
you the fifty cents a week."
She looked the child over again as she had done in
the morning, but with a shade of expression which
might have meant a touch of added interest. Perhaps
her mind paused just long enough to bring back to
her the time when she had been a worker at twelve
years old, and also had belonged to no one.
"She'll make her living," she said, as she watched
Meg out of the room. "She's more like me than she
50 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
is like her father. Robert wasn't worthless, but he
had no push."
Having made quite sure that she was not wanted
in the dairy for the time being, Meg made her way to
the barn. She was glad to find it empty, so that she
could climb the ladder without waiting. When she
reached the top and clambered over the straw the
scent of it seemed delightful to her. It was like
something welcoming her home. She threw herself
down full length in the Straw Parlour. Robin had
not been at dinner. He had gone out early, and had
not returned. As she lay stretching her tired limbs
and staring up at the nest in the dark tent-like roof
above her, she hoped he would come. And he did.
In about ten minutes she heard the signal from the
barn floor, and answered it. Robin came up the ladder
rather slowly. When he made his way over the straw
to her corner and threw himself down beside her, she
saw that he was tired too. They talked a few minutes
about ordinary things, and then Meg thought she
would tell him about the dairy. But it appeared
that he had something to tell himself, and he began
"I've been making a plan, Meg," he said.
"Have you ?" said Meg. "What is it ?"
I've been thinking about it for two or three days,"
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
he went on; "but I thought I wouldn't say anything
about it until-till I tried how it would work."
Meg raised herself on her elbow and looked at him
curiously. It seemed so queer that he should have
had a plan too.
"Have you-tried ?" she said.
"Yes," he answered. "I have been working for
Jones this morning, and I did quite a lot. I worked
hard. I wanted him to see what I could do. And
then-Meg, I asked him if he would take me on-like
the rest of the hands-and pay me what I was worth."
"And what did he say ?" said Meg breathlessly.
"He looked at me a minute all over, and half
laughed, and I thought he was going to say I wasn't
worth anything. It wouldn't have been true, but I
thought he might because I'm only twelve years old.
It's pretty hard to be only twelve when you want to
get work. But he didn't; he said,' Well I'm darned
if I won't give you a show.' And I'm to have fifty
cents a week."
"Robin!" Meg cried, with a gasp of excitement.
"So am I."
"So are you?" cried Robin, and sat bolt upright.
It's-it's because we are twins," said Meg, her eyes
shining like lamps. "I told you twins did things
52 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
alike, because they couldn't help it. We have both
thought of the same thing. I went to Aunt Matilda,
asked her to let me work somewhere-and pay me-
and she let me go into the dairy and try. And Mrs.
Macartney said I was a help and I am to have
fifty cents a week, if I go on as I've begun."
Robin's hand gave hers a clutch just as it had done
before-that day when he had not known why.
"Meg, I believe," he said-" I believe that we two
will always go on as we begin-I believe we were born
that way. We have to. We can't help it. And a
dollar a week-if they keep us, and we save it all-
could go-almost anywhere some time."
Meg's eyes were fixed on him with a searching but
"Almost anywhere," she said quite in a whisper-
"anywhere not more than two hundred miles away."
HUMAN BEINGS CAN DO ANYTHING THEY SET THEIR
___ ~ iHEY did not tell each other of the
stange and bold thought which had
S leaped up in their minds that day.
'S Each felt an unwonted shyness about
it, perhaps because it had been in each mind, and,
hidden though it was, it remained furtively in both.
They went on exactly as they had begun. Each
morning Meg went to her drudgery in the dairy, and
Robin followed Jones whithersoever duty led. If the
older people had imagined they would get tired and
give up, they found out their mistake. That they
were often tired was true, but that in either there
arose once the thought of giving up-never! And
they worked hard. The things they did to earn their
weekly stipend would have touched the heart of a
mother of cared-for children; but on Mrs. Jennings'
model farm, people knew how much work a human
being could do when necessity drove. They were all
54 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
driven by necessity, and it was nothing new to know
that muscles ached and feet swelled and burned. In
fact they knew no one who did not suffer as a rule
from these small inconveniences. And these children,
with their set little faces and mature intelligence,
were somehow so unsuggestive of the weakness and
limitations of childhood, that they were often given
work which was usually intrusted only to older
people. Mrs. Macartney found that Meg never
slighted anything, never failed in a task, and never
forgot one, so she gave her plenty to do. Scrubbing
and scouring that others were glad to shirk fell to
her share. She lifted and dragged things about that
grown-up girls grumbled over. What she lacked
in muscle and size, she made up in the indomitable
will-power that made her small face set itself, and
her small body become rigid as iron. Her work ended
by not confining itself to the dairy, but extended to
the house, the kitchen-anywhere where there were
tiresome things to be done.
With Robin it was the same story. Jones was not
afraid to give him any order. He was of use in all
quarters; in the huge fields, in the barn, in the
stables, and as a messenger to be trusted to trudge
any distance when transport was not available.
They both grew thin but sinewy looking, and their
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 55
faces had a rather strained look. Their always
large, bright eyes seemed to grow bigger, and their
little square jaws looked more square every day; but
on Saturday nights they each were paid their fifty
cents, and climbed to the Straw Parlour and unburied
the Treasure, and added to it.
Those Saturday nights were wonderful things. To
the end of life they would never forget them. Through
all the tired hours of labour they were looked forward
to. Then they lay in their nest of straw and talked
things over. There it seemed that they could relax
and rest their limbs as they could do it nowhere else.
Mrs. Jennings was not given to sofas and easy-chairs,
and it is not safe to change position often when one
has a grown-up bedfellow. But in the straw they
could loll at full length, curl up or stretch out just as
they pleased, and there they could enlarge upon the
one subject that filled their minds and fascinated and
Who could wonder that it was so! The City
Beautiful was growing day by day, and the develop-
ment of its glories was the one thing they heard
talked of. Robin had continued his habit of collecting
every scrap of newspaper referring to it. He still
cut them out of Aunt Matilda's old papers; he begged
them from everyone-neighbours, storekeepers, work
56 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
hands. When he was sent on errands he cast all-
embracing glances round every place his orders took
him to. The postmaster of the nearest village
discovered his weakness, and saved paragraphs and
whole papers for him. Before very long there was
buried near the Treasure a treasure even more
valuable of newspaper cuttings, and on the wonderful
Saturday nights they gave themselves up to revelling
How they watched it and followed it and lived
with it-this great human scheme, which somehow
seemed to their young minds more like the scheme
of giants and genii! How they seized upon every
new story of its wonders, and felt that there could
be no limit to them! They knew every purpose and
plan connected with it,-every arch and tower and
wall and stone they pleased themselves by fancying.
Newspapers were liberal with information. People
talked of it, they heard of it on every side. To them
it seemed that the whole world must be thinking of
"While we are lying here," Meg said-" while you
are doing chores and I am scouring pans and scrubbing
things, it is all going on. People in France and in
England and in Italy are doing work to send to
it. Artists are painting pictures and machinery is
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 57
whirring and making things-and everything is pour-
ing in to that one wonderful place. And men and
women planned it, you know-just men and women.
And if we live a few years we shall be men and
women; and they were once children like us-only-
if they had been quite like us, they would never
have known enough to do anything."
"But when they were children like us," said Robin,
"they did not know what they would have learned
by this time, and they never dreamed about this."
"That shows how wonderful men and women are,"
said Meg. "I believe they can do anything, if they
set their minds to it"; and she said it stubbornly.
"Perhaps they can," said Robin slowly. "Perhaps
we could do anything we set our minds to."
There was the suggestive tone in his voice which
Meg had been thrilled by more than once before. She
had been thrilled by it most strongly when he had
said that if they saved their dollar a week they
might be able to go almost anywhere. Unconsciously
she responded to it now.
"If I could do anything I set my mind to," she
said, "do you know what I would set my mind to
"I would set my mind to going to that wonderful
58 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
place. I would set it to seeing everything there-and
remembering all I could hold-and learning all there
was to be learned-and I would set it hard!"
"So would I," said Robin.
It was a more suggestive voice than before he said
the words in, and suddenly he got up and went and
tore away the straw from the burying-place of the
Treasure. He took out the old iron bank and brought
it back to their corner.
He did it so suddenly and with such a determined
air that Meg rather lost her breath.
"What are you going to do with the Treasure?"
"I am going to count it."
He was opening the box, using the blade of a stout
pocket-knife as a screw-driver.
"A return ticket to Chicago costs $9.55," he said.
"I asked at the dep6t. That would be $19.10 for two
people. Anyone who is careful can live on a very
little for a while. I want to see if we shall have
money enough to go."
"To go?" Meg cried out. "To the Fair? Robin!"
She could not believe the evidence of her ears. It
sounded so daring.
"Nobody would take us!" she said. "Even if we
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 59
had money enough to pay for ourselves--nobody
would take us."
"Take!" answered Robin, working at his screws.
"No, nobody would. What's the matter with taking
Meg sat up in the straw, conscious of a sort of
"To go by ourselves! like grown-up people! To
buy our tickets ourselves and get on the train and go
all the way alone-and walk about the Fair alone!
"Who takes care of us here,?" answered Robin.
"Who has looked after us ever since father and mother
died? Ourselves! just ourselves! Whose business
are we but our own! Who thinks of us or asks if
we are happy or unhappy?"
"Nobody," said Meg, and she hid her face in her
arms on her knees.
Robin went on stubbornly.
"Nobody is ever going to do it," he said, "if we
live to be hundreds of years old. I've thought of it
when I've been working in the field with Jones, and
I've thought of it when I've been lying awake at
night. It's kept me awake many and many a time."
"So it has me," said Meg.
"And since this thing began to be talked about
60 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
everywhere I've thought of it more and more," said
Rob. "It means more to people like us than it does
to anyone else. It's the people who never see things,
and who have no chances, it means the most to. And
the more I think of it the more I-I won't let it go
by me." And all at once he threw himself face down-
ward on the straw and hid his face in his arms.
Meg lifted hers. There was something in the
woeful desperation of his movement that struck her
to the heart. She had never known him do such a
thing in their lives before. That was not his way.
Whatsoever hard thing had happened howsoever
lonely and desolate they had felt, he had never shown
his feelings this way. She put out her hand and
touched his shoulder.
"Robin," she said-" Oh, Robin!"
"I don't care," he said from the refuge of his
sleeves; "we are little' when we are compared with
grown-up people. They would call us children-and
children usually have someone to help them-tell them
what to do. I'm only like this because I've been
thinking so much-and working so hard-and it
does seem like an enchanted city; but no one ever
thinks we could care about it any more than if we
were cats and dogs. It was not like that at home,
even if we were poor." Then he sat up with as little
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 61
warning as he had thrown himself down, and gave his
eyes a fierce rub. He returned to the Treasure again.
"I've been making up my mind to it for days," he
said. "If we have the money we can buy our tickets
and go some night without saying anything to any-
one. We can leave a note for Aunt Matilda to tell
her we are all right and we are coming back. She'll
be too busy to mind."
"Do you remember that book of father's we read,"
said Meg-" that one called David Copperfield ? David
ran away from the bottle place when he was younger
than we are-and he had to walk all the way to
"We shall not have to walk, and we won't let any-
one take our money away from us," said Robin.
"Are we going really?" said Meg. "You speak as
if we were truly going-and it can't be!"
"Do you know what you said just now about
believing human beings could do anything if they set
their minds to it? Let's set our minds to it."
Well," Meg answered rather slowly, as if weighing
the matter-" Let's!"
And she fell to helping to count the Treasure.
"BURDENS DON'T FALL OFF BY
_FTER:'ARDS when they looked back
tl.-,iiin that day, they knew that the
*tjhiiin had decided itself then, though
neither of them had said so.
"The truth was," Robin used to say, "we had both
been thinking the same thing as we always do, but
we had been thinking it in the back part of our
minds. We were afraid to let it come to the front at
first, because it seemed such a big thing. But it went
on thinking by itself. That time when you said, 'We
shall never see it!' and I said, 'How do you know ?'
we were both thinking about it in one way. And I
know I was thinking about it when I said, 'We are
not going to stay here always. That is the first step
up the Hill of Difficulty.'"
"And that day when you said you would not let it
go by you," Meg would answer, "that was the day we
reached the Wicket Gate."
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
It seemed very like it, for from that day their
strange unchildish purpose grew and ripened, and
never for an hour was absent from the mind of either.
If they had been like other children, living happy
lives full of young interests and pleasures, it might
have been crowded out by other and nearer things;
if they had been of a slighter mental build, and less
strong, they might have forgotten it. But they never
did. When they had counted the Treasure, and had
realized how small it was after all, they had sat and
gazed at each other for a while with grave eyes, but
they had only been grave and not despairing.
"Fifteen dollars," said Robin. "Well, that's not
much after nearly six years; but we saved it, nearly
all, by cents, you know, Meg."
"And it takes a hundred cents to make a dollar,"
said Meg, "and we were poor people's children."
"And we bought the chickens," said Robin.
"And you have always given me a present at
Christmas, Robin, even if it was only a little one.
That's six Christmases."
"We have nine months to work in," said Robin,
calculating. "If you get two dollars a month, and I
get two, that will be thirty-six dollars by next June.
Fifteen dollars and thirty-six dollars make fifty-one.
I believe we could go on that-and come back. I
64 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
suppose we shall have to come back," with a long
"Oh, dear! cried Meg; "how can we come back!"
"I don't know," said Robin. We shall hate it, but
we shall have nowhere else to go."
"Perhaps we are going to seek our fortunes, and
perhaps we shall find them," said Meg; or perhaps
Aunt Matilda won't let us come back, Rob," with
some awe. "Do you think she will be angry?"
"I've thought about that," Robin answered contem-
platively. "And I don't think she will. She would
be too busy to care much even if we ran away and
said nothing. But I shall leave a letter and tell her
we have saved our money and gone somewhere for a
holiday-and we're all right and she needn't bother."
"She won't bother, even if she is angry," Meg said,
with mournful eyes. "She doesn't care about us
"If she loved us," Rob said, "and was too poor to
take us herself, we couldn't go at all. We couldn't
run away, because it would worry her so. You can't
'do a thing-however much you want to do it-if it
is going to hurt somebody who is good to you, and
"Well, then, we needn't stay here because of Aunt
Matilda," said Meg. "That's one sure thing. It
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 65
wouldn't interfere with her ploughing if we were both
to die at once."
"No," said Rob deliberately, "that's just what it
would not." And he threw himself back on the straw
and clasped his hands under his head, gazing up into
the dark roof above him with very reflective eyes.
The truth was that, his elderly ways and practical
methods notwithstanding, he was an affectionate little
fellow at heart, and Meg was very like him in this
as in all other ways. Their father's house had been
home, narrow as its resources were and few as had
been the privileges costing money they could enjoy.
They had not been a very demonstrative family, but
in a quiet unfailing way the two had been loved and
cared for. They had never felt lonely and had never
been really unhappy. What they felt every hour in
Aunt Matilda's world was that they counted for
nothing with anybody, and were entirely superfluous;
and the sense of this filled them with a kind of vague
misery they never exactly explained to each other,
even when they talked about the differences between
their life on the farm and their life in their own
home. Their young hearts ached many a day when
they were not quite sure why they were aching, or
that it was veritable heartache they were troubled by.
Being curiously just and given to reasoning by nature,
66 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
they were never unfair to Aunt Matilda, and used to
try to render her what was her due when they talked
"She doesn't beat us or scold us or ill-treat us in
any particular way," Meg would say; "she gives us
plenty to eat, and buys us respectable clothes. If you
notice, Robin, we never wear broken shoes. We were
obliged to wear them now and then when we were at
home, because there was no money to buy new ones
until father was paid, or something like that. Our
toes never come out now."
And this particular day, after looking up at the
roof, Robin said, I should like to be a bird, I believe.
Wouldn't you, Meg ? Then we should have a nest."
But they had reached the Wicket Gate, and from
the hour they passed it there was no looking back.
That in their utter friendlessness and loneliness they
should take their twelve-year-old fates in their own
strong little hands was perhaps a pathetic thing; that,
once having done so, they moved towards their object
as steadily as if they had been of the maturest years,
was remarkable; but no one ever knew or even
suspected, from the first until the last.
The days went by full of work, which left them
little time to lie and talk in the Straw Parlour. They
could only see each other in the leisure hours which
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 67
were so few, and only came when the day was
Finding them faithful and ready, those about them
fell into the natural, easy, human unworthiness of
imposing by no means infrequently on their inex-
perienced willingness and youth. So they were hard
enough worked, but each felt that every day that
passed brought them nearer to the end in view, and
there was always something to think of, some detail
to be worked out mentally and to be discussed in the
valuable moments when they were together.
"It's a great deal better than it used to be," Meg
said, "at all events. It's better to feel tired working
than to be tired of doing nothing but think, and think
As the weather grew colder, it was hard enough to
keep warm in their hiding-place. They used to sit
and talk huddled close together, bundled in their
heaviest clothing, and with the straw heaped close
around them and over them. There were so many
things to be thought of and talked over. Robin
collected facts more sedulously than ever-facts about
entrance fees, facts about prices of things to eat, facts
about places to sleep.
Going to the Fair yourself, sonny ?" Jones said to
him one day. Jones was fond of his joke. "You're
68 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
right to be inquirin' round. Them hotel-keepers is
goin' to tot up bills several storeys higher than their
hotels is themselves."
But I suppose a person needn't go to a hotel," said
Robin. "There must be plenty of poor people who
can't go to hotels, and they'll have to sleep some-
"Oh, there's plenty of poor people," responded
Jones cheerfully-" plenty of 'em. Always is. But
they won't go to Chicago while the Fair's on. They'll
sleep at home-that's where they'll sleep."
"That's the worst of it," Rob said to Meg after-
wards. "You see, we have to sleep somewhere. We
could live on bread and milk, or crackers and cheese,
or oatmeal, but we have to sleep somewhere."
"It will be warm weather," Meg said reflectively.
"Perhaps we could sleep out of doors. Beggars do.
We don't mind."
"I don't think the police would let us," Robin
answered. "If they would-perhaps we might have
to, some night. But we are going to that place, Meg-
we are going."
Yes, they believed they were going, and lived on
the belief. This being decided, howsoever difficult to
attain, it was like them both that they should dwell
upon the dream, and revel in it in a way peculiarly
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 69
their own. It was Meg whose imagination was the
stronger, and it is true that it was always she who
made pictures in words and told stories. But Robin
was always as ready to enter into the spirit of her
imaginings as she was to talk about them. There
was a word he had once heard his father use which
had caught his fancy-in fact, it had attracted them
both, and they applied it to this favourite pleasure
of theirs of romancing with everyday things. The
word was "philander."
"Now we have finished adding up and making
plans," he would say, putting his ten cent account-
book into his pocket, "let us philander about it."
And then Meg would begin to talk about the City
Beautiful-a City Beautiful which was a wonderful
and curious mixture of the enchanted one the whole
world was pouring its treasures into two hundred
miles away, and that City Beautiful of her own,
which she had founded upon the one towards which
Christian had toiled through the Slough of Despond
and up the Hill of Difficulty and past Doubting
Castle. Somehow one could scarcely tell where one
ended and the others began, they were so much alike,
these three cities Christian's, Meg's, and the fair
ephemeral one the ending of the nineteenth century
had built upon the blue lake's side,
70 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
"They must look alike," said Meg. "I am sure
they must. See what it says in the Pilgrim's
Progress: 'Now just as the gates were opened to let
in the men, I looked in after them, and behold, the
city shone like the sun'; and then it says, 'The talk
they had with the shining ones was about the glory
of the place, who told them that the beauty and
glory of it were inexpressible.' I always think of it,
Robin, when I read about these places like white
palaces and temples and towers that are being built.
I am so glad they are white. Think how the city
will 'shine like the sun,' when it stands under the
blue sky and by the blue water on a sunshiny day."
They had never read the dear, old, worn Pilgrim's
Progress as they did in those days. They kept it in
the straw near the treasure, and always had it at
hand to refer to. In it they seemed to find parallels
"Aunt Matilda's world is the City of Destruction,"
Meg would say; "and our loneliness and poorness are
like Christian's 'burden.' We, have to carry it like a
heavy weight, and it holds us back."
"What was it that Goodwill said to Christian
about it?" Robin asked.
Meg turned over the pages. She knew all the
places by heart. It was easy enough to find and read
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 71
how, "At last there came a grave person to the gate,
named Goodwill," and in the end he said-
"As to thy burden, be content to bear it, until thou
comest to the place of deliverance; for there it will
fall from thy back itself."
"But out of the Pilgrim's Progress," Robin said,
with his reflective air, "burdens don't fall off by
themselves. If you are content with them they stick
on and get bigger. Ours would, I know. You have
to do something yourself to get them off. But"-
with a little pause for thought-" I like that part,
Meg. And I like Goodwill because he told it to him.
It encouraged him, you know. You see, it says
next, 'Then Christian began to gird up his loins and
addressed himself to his journey.'"
"Robin," said Meg suddenly, shutting the book and
giving it a little thump on the back, "it's not only
Christian's city that is like our city. We are like
Christian. We are pilgrims, and our way to that
place is our Pilgrims' Progress."
HAND IN HAND THEY WENT OUT ON THE ROAD
ND the cold days of hard work kept
Sing by, and the City Beautiful grew,
and huddled close together in the straw
S the children planned and dreamed, and
read and re-read the Pilgrim's Progress, following
Christian step by step. And Aunt Matilda became
busier every day it seemed, and did not remember
that they were alive, except when she saw them.
And nobody guessed, and nobody knew.
Days so quickly grew to weeks, and weeks slip by
so easily until they are months, and at last there came
a time when Meg, going out in the morning, felt a
softer air, and stopped a moment by a bare tree to
breathe ,it in and feel its lovely touch upon her
cheek. She turned her face upward with a half-
involuntary movement, and found herself looking at
such a limitless vault of tender blueness, that her
heart gave a quick throb, and seemed to spring up to
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
it and carry her with it. For a moment it seemed as
if she had left the earth far below, and was soaring
in the soft depths of blueness themselves. And
suddenly, even as she felt it, she heard, on the top-
most branch of the bare tree, a brief little rapturous
trill, and her heart gave a leap again, and she felt her
cheeks grow warm.
It is a bluebird," she said-" it is a bluebird, and
it is the Spring, and that means that the time is quite
She had a queer little smile on her face all day as
she worked. She did not know it was there herself,
but Mrs. Macartney saw it.
"What's pleasing you so, Meggy, my girl ?" she
Meg wakened up with a sort of start.
"I don't know exactly," she said.
"You don't know," said the woman good-naturedly.
"You look as if you were thinking over a secret, and
it was a pleasant one."
That evening it was not cold when they sat in the
Straw Parlour, and Meg told Robin about the blue-
"It gave me a strange feeling to hear it," she said.
"It seemed as if it was speaking to me. It said,
'You must get ready; it is quite near.'"
74 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
They had made up their minds that they would go
in June, before the weather became so hot that they
might suffer from it.
"Because we have to consider everything," was
Robin's idea. "We shall be walking about all the
time, and we have no cool clothes, and we shall have
no money to buy cool things, and if we should be ill,
it would be worse for us than for children who have
someone with them."
In the little account-book, they had calculated all
they should own on the day their pilgrimage began.
They had apportioned it all out-so much for the
price of the railroad tickets, so much for entrance
fees, and-not so much but so little-oh, so little, for
their food and lodging!
"I have listened when Jones and the others were
talking," said Robin, "and they say that everybody
who has room to spare and wants to make money is
going to let every corner they have. So you see
there will be sure to be people who have quite poor
places that they would be obliged to rent cheap to
people who are poor like themselves. We will go
through the small side streets and look."
The first bluebird came again day after day, and
others came with it, until the swift dart of blue wings
through the air and the delicious ripple of joyous
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 75
sound were no longer rare things. The days grew
warmer, and the men threw off their coats and began
to draw their shirt sleeves across their foreheads when
they were at work.
One evening when Robin came up into the Straw
Parlour he brought something with him. It was a
battered old tin coffee-pot.
What is that for ?" asked Meg; for he seemed to
carry it as if it was of some value.
"It's old and rusty, but there are no holes in it,"
Robin answered. "I saw it lying in a fence corner
where someone had thrown it-perhaps a tramp-
and it put a new thought into my head. It will do
to boil eggs in."
"Eggs? said Meg.
There's nothing much nicer than hard-boiled eggs,"
said Robin; and you can carry them about with you.
It just came into my mind that we could take some of
our eggs, and go somewhere where no one would be
likely to see us, and build a fire of sticks and boil
some eggs and carry them with us to eat."
"Robin," cried Meg, with admiring ecstasy, "I wish
I had thought of that."
It doesn't matter which of us thought of it," said
Rob; "it's all the same."
So it was decided that, when the time came, they
76 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
should boil their supply of eggs very hard, and roll
them up in pieces of paper, and tuck them away
carefully in the one small bag which was to carry all
their necessary belongings. These belongings would
be very few-just enough to keep them decent and
clean, and a brush and comb between them. They
used to lie in bed at night with beating hearts,
thinking it all over, sometimes awakening in a cold
perspiration from a dreadful dream, in which Aunt
Matilda, or Jones or some of the hands, had discovered
their secret and confronted them with it in all its
daring. They were so full of it night and day that
Meg used to wonder that people about them did not
see it in their faces.
They are not thinking of us," said Robin. "They
are thinking about crops. I daresay Aunt Matilda
would like to see the agricultural building, but she
couldn't waste the time to go through the others."
Ah, what a day it was! what a thrilling, almost
unbearably joyful day, when Robin gathered sticks
and dried bits of branches, and piled them in a corner
of a field far enough from the house and out-buildings
to be quite safe. He did it in the noon hour, and
as he passed Meg on his way back to his work, he
"I have got the sticks for the fire all ready."
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
The elements of forethought and executive ability,
which were so strong in them, and which had enabled
them to plan this unusual and unchildish thing,
prevented their committing any of the youthful indis-
cretions which might have betrayed them, through
suggesting to outsiders that they were engaged in
something more than their everyday amusements and
pursuits. If they had exchanged significant glances,
which someone might have intercepted, they would
have been in danger, even though they had been
usually so little observed; if they had been seen in
unusual places, or doing unusual things, somebody
might have asked questions in these days, because it
was the natural result of their new employment that
they were thrown more frequently among those
working in various capacities on the farm. Men and
women were intimate with them in these days who
had scarcely noticed their existence or known their
names before the days of Meg's work in the dairy and
Robin's service under Jones. And it was noticeable
that no one worked near them without liking and
feeling friendly towards them. They showed such a
steady intention of doing their best and most, and
such readiness to help others to accomplish their best
and most also; and, accordingly, the hands had begun
to notice them, and occasionally joined one or other of
78 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
them as they left the table, and talked with them a
So this eventful evening they lingered about until
all the rest had gone, and even went their way with
cautious glances about them when they crept out
after supper to their trysting-place with matches, the
battered old coffee-pot, and the eggs.
MEG LOOKED RATHER LIKE A LITTLE WITCH AS SHE STOOD OVER
THE BUBBLING OLD POT.
As they made their preparations, they found them-
selves talking in whispers, though there was not the
least chance of anyone hearing them. Meg looked
rather like a little witch as she stood over the
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 79
bubbling old pot, with her strange little dark face and
shining eyes and black elf locks.
"It's like making a kind of sacrifice on an altar,"
You always think queer things about everything,
don't you ?" said Robin. "But they're all right. I
don't think them myself, but I like them."
When the eggs were boiled hard enough, they
carried them to the barn, and hid them in the Straw
Parlour near the Treasure. Then they sat and talked,
in whispers still, almost trembling with joy.
"Somehow, do you know," Meg said, "it feels as if
we were going to do something more than just go to
the Fair. When people in stories go to seek their
fortunes, I'm sure they feel like this. Does it give
you a kind of creeping in your stomach whenever you
think of it, Rob?"
"Yes, it does," Robin whispered back, "and when it
comes into my mind suddenly, something gives a queer
jump inside me."
"That's your heart," said Meg. "Robin, if any-
thing should stop us, I believe I should drop dead !"
"No, you wouldn't," was Rob's answer; "but it's
better not to let ourselves think about it. And I
don't believe anything as bad as that could happen.
We've worked so hard-and we have nobody but
80 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
ourselves-and it can't do anyone any harm, and we
don't want to do anyone any harm. There must be
something that wouldn't let it be!"
"I believe that too," said Meg; and this time it was
she who clutched at Robin's hand, but he seemed glad
she did, and held as close as she.
And then, after the bluebirds had sung a few
times more, there came a night when Meg crept out of
her cot, after she was sure that the woman in the other
bed was sleeping heavily enough. Everyone went to
bed early, and everyone slept through the night in
heavy, tired sleep. Too much work was done on the
place to allow people to waste time in sleeplessness.
Meg knew no one would waken as she crept down-
stairs to the lower part of the house, and softly opened
Robin was standing outside with the little leather
satchel in his hand. It was a soft, warm night, and
the dark blue sky was full of the glitter of stars.
Both he and Meg stood still a moment and looked up.
"I'm glad it's like this," Meg said; "it doesn't seen
so lonely. Is your heart thumping, Robin ?"
"Yes, rather," whispered Robin. "I left the letter
in a place where Aunt Matilda will be likely to find
it some time to-morrow."
"What did you say ?" Meg whispered back.
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 81
"What I told you I was going to. There wasn't
much to say-just told her we had saved our money
and gone away for a few days; and we were all right
and she needn't worry."
Everything was very still about them. There was
no moon, and but for the stars it would have been
very dark. As it was, the stillness of night and sleep,
and the sombreness of the hour, might have made
less daring little creatures feel timid and alone.
"Let us take hold of each other's hands as we walk
along," said Meg. It will make us feel nearer and-
And so, hand in hand, they went out on the road
"AND WE ARE PEOPLE TOO"
T was four miles to the dep6t, but they
were good walkers. Robin hung the
satchel on a stick over his shoulder,
S and they kept in the middle of the
road and walked smartly. There were not many
trees, but there were a few occasionally, and it was
pleasanter to walk where the way before them was
quite clear. And somehow they found themselves
still talking in whispers, though there was certainly
no one to overhear them.
"Let us talk about Christian," said Meg. "It will
not seem so lonely if we are talking. I wish we
could meet Evangelist."
If we knew he was Evangelist when we met him,"
said Robin. "If we didn't know him, we should
think he was someone who would stop us. And, after
all, you see he only showed Christian the shining
light, and told him to go to it. And we are farther
on than that. We have passed the Wicket Gate."
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
"The thing we want," said Meg, "is the Roll to
read as we go on, and find out what we are to do."
And then they talked of what was before them.
They wondered who would be at the little dep6t, and
if they would be noticed, and of what the ticket-
agent would think when Robin bought the tickets.
"Perhaps he won't notice me at all," said Rob;
"and he does not know me. Somebody might be
sending us alone, you know. We are not little
"That's true," responded Meg courageously. "If
we were six years old it would be different; but we
It did make it seem less lonely to be talking,
and so they did not stop. And there was so much
"Robin," broke forth Meg once, giving his hand a
sudden clutch, "we are on the way-we are going.
Soon we shall be on the train, and it will be carrying
us nearer and nearer! Suppose it was a dream, and
we should wake up!"
"It isn't a dream," said Rob stoutly; "it's real.
It's-as real as Aunt Matilda."
He was always more practical-minded than Meg.
We needn't philander any more," Meg said. "It
isn't philandering to talk about a real thing. Oh,
84 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
Rob, just think of it! waiting for us under the stars
this very moment-the City Beautiful!"
And then walking close to each other in the
dimness, they told each other how they saw it in
imagination, and what its wonders would be to them,
and which they would see first, and how they would
remember it all their lives afterwards, and have
things to talk of and think of. Very few people
would see it as they would, but they did not know
that. It was not a gigantic enterprise to them, a
great scheme, fought for and struggled over for the
divers reasons poor humanity makes for itself. That
it would either make or lose money was not a side of
the question that reached them. They only dwelt on
the beauty and wonder of it, which made it seem like
an enchanted thing.
"I keep thinking of the white palaces, and that it
is like a fairy story," Meg said; "and that it will melt
away like those cities travellers sometimes see in the
desert; and I wish it wouldn't. But it will have been
real for a while, and everybody will remember it. I
am so glad it is beautiful-and white. I'm so glad it
is white, Robin!"
"And I keep thinking," said Robin, "of all the
people who have made the things to go in it, and how
they have worked and invented. There have been
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 85
some people, perhaps, who have worked months and
months making one single thing-just as we have
worked to go to see it. And, perhaps, at first they
were afraid they couldn't do it; and they set their
minds to it as we did, and tried and tried, and then did
it at last. I like to think of those men and women,
Meg-because, when the city has melted away, the
things won't melt. They will last after the people-
and we are people too. I'm a man and you are a
woman, you know, though we are only twelve; and
it gives me a strong feeling to think of those others."
"It makes you think that perhaps men and women
can do anything, if they set their minds to it," said
Meg quite solemnly. "Oh, I do like that!"
"I like it better than anything else in the world,"
said Rob. "Stop a minute, Meg! Come here in the
He said the last words quickly, and pulled her to
the roadside, where a big tree grew which threw a
deep shadow. He stood listening.
"It's wheels," he whispered. "There is a buggy
coming. We mustn't let anyone see us."
It was a buggy. They could tell that by the
lightness of the wheels, and it was coming rapidly.
They could hear voices-men's voices, and they drew
back and stood very close to each other.
86 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
"Do you think they have found out, and sent
someone after us?" whispered Meg breathlessly.
"No," answered Robin, though his heart beat like a
The wheels drew nearer, and they heard one of the
"Chicago by sunrise," he was saying. "And what
I don't see of it won't be worth seeing."
The next minute the fast-trotting horse spun
swiftly down the road, and carried the voices out of
hearing. Meg and Robin drew twin sighs of relief.
Robin spoke first.
"It is someone who is going to the Fair," he said.
Perhaps we shall see him on the train," said Meg.
"I daresay we shall," said Robin. "It was nobody
who knows us. I didn't know his voice. Meg, let's
take hands again, and walk quickly. We might lose
They did not talk much more, but walked briskly.
They had done a good day's work before they set out,
and were rather tired, but they did not lag on that
account. Sometimes Meg took a turn at carrying the
satchel, so that Robin might rest his arm. It was not
heavy, and she was as strong for a girl as he was for
At last they reached the dep6t. There were a
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
number of people waiting on the platform to catch
the train to Chicago, and there were several vehicles
outside. They passed one which was a buggy, and
Meg gave Robin a nudge with her elbow.
"Perhaps that belongs to our man," she said.
There were people enough before the office to
give the ticket-agent plenty to do. Robin's heart
quickened a little as he passed by with the group of
maturer people, but no one seemed to observe him
particularly, and he returned to Meg with the precious
bits of pasteboard held very tight in his hand. Meg
had waited alone in an unlighted corner, and when
she saw him coming she came forward to meet
Have you got them ?" she said. Did anyone look
at you, or say anything ?"
"Yes, I got them," Robin answered. "And I'll tell
you what, Meg; these people are nearly all going just
where we are going, and they are so busy thinking
about it, and attending to themselves, that they
haven't any time to watch anyone else. That's one
"And the nearer we get to Chicago," Meg said,
"the more people there will be, and the more they
will have to think of. And at that beautiful place,
where there is so much to see, who will look at two
88 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
children? I don't believe we shall have any trouble
It really did not seem likely that they would, but
it happened by a curious coincidence that within a
very few minutes they saw somebody looking at
The train was not due for ten minutes, and there
were a few people who, being too restless to sit in the
waiting-rooms, walked up and down on the platform.
Most of these were men, and there were two men who
walked farther than the others did, and so neared
the place where Robin and Meg stood in the shadow.
One was a young man, and seemed to be listening to
instructions his companion, who was older, was giving
him in a rapid, abrupt sort of voice. This companion,
who might have been his employer, was a man of
middle age. He was robust of figure, and had a
clean-cut face, with a certain effect of strong good
looks. It was perhaps rather a hard face, but it was
a face one would look at more than once; and he too,
oddly enough, had a square jaw and straight black
brows. But it was his voice which first attracted
Robin and Meg as he neared them, talking.
"It's the man in the buggy," whispered Robin.
"Don't you know his voice again ?" And they watched
him with deep interest.
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS 89
He passed them once without seeming to see them
at all. He was explaining something to his com-
panion. The second time he drew near he chanced to
look up, and his eye fell on them. It did not rest on
them more than a second, and he went on speaking.
The next time he neared their part of the platform,
he turned his glance towards them as they stood close
together. It was as if involuntarily he glanced
to see if they were still where they had been
"A pair of children," they heard him say, as if the
fleeting impression of their presence arrested his train
of thought for a second. "Looks as if no one was
He merely made the comment in passing, and
returned to his subject the next second; but Meg and
Robin heard him, and drew farther back into the
But it was not necessary to stand there much
longer. They heard a familiar sound in the distance,
the shrill cry of the incoming train, the beloved giant
who was to carry them to fairyland. The people
began to flock out of the waiting-rooms with packages
and valises and umbrellas in hand; the porters
suddenly became alert, and hurried about attending
to their duties; the delightful roar drew nearer and
90 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
louder, and began to shake the earth-it grew louder
still; a bell began to make a cheerful tolling-people
were rushing to and fro, Meg and Robin rushed with
them-and the train was panting in the dep6t.
It was even more thrilling than the children had
thought it would be. They had travelled so very little,
and did not know exactly where to go. It might not
be the right train even. They did not know how long
it would wait. It might rush away again before they
could get on. People seemed in such a hurry and so
excited. As they hurried along they found them-
selves being pushed and jostled. Before the steps of
one of the cars, a conductor stood whom people kept
showing tickets to. There were several persons round
him when Robin and Meg reached the place where he
stood. People kept asking him things, and sometimes
he passed them on and sometimes let them go into his
"Is this the train to Chicago?" said Robin
But he was so much less than the other people, and
the man was so busy, he did not hear him.
Robin tried to get nearer.
"Is this the Chicago train, sir ?" he said a little
He had had to press by a man whom he had been
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
too excited to see, and the man looked down and
spoke to him.
"Chicago train ?" he said in a voice which was
abrupt without being ill-natured. "Yes, you're all
right. Got your sleeping-car tickets?"
Robin looked up at him quickly. He knew the
voice, and was vaguely glad to hear it. He and Meg
had never been in a sleeping-car in their lives, and he
did not quite understand. He held out his tickets.
"We're going to sleep on the train," he said, "but
we have nothing but these."
"Next car but two then," he said. "And you'd
And when both voices thanked him at once, and
the two caught each other's hands and ran towards
their car, he looked after them and laughed.
"I'm blessed if they're not by themselves," he said,
watching them as they scrambled up the steps. "And
they're going to the Fair, I'll bet a dollar. That's
Young America, and no mistake."
IT IS THE DAY!
.HE car was quite crowded. There were
more people than themselves who were
) going to the Fair, and were to economise.
When the children entered and looked
about them in the dim light, they thought at first that
all the seats were full. People seemed to be huddled
up asleep or sitting up awake in all of them. Every-
body had been trying to get to sleep at least, and the
twins found themselves making their whispers even
lower than before.
To people unaccustomed to travel and not so
familiar with railroads and steamboats, that change
of scene and surroundings and the conveniences and
inconveniences invented for the public are old stories
and even tiresome ones, to board a train at night is
by no means an uninteresting or unexciting experience.
Upon children who have made only short journeys
by daylight, under perfectly ordinary circumstances,
it is an event likely to create a very strong impression.
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
There is something even thrilling and extraordinary
in it. These two imaginative ones felt something
very like a sensation of awe when they had scrambled
up the steps, entered and found themselves standing
at the end of the car looking down the aisle to find
out if there was anywhere a vacant seat where they
might stow themselves without disturbing anybody.
They were well-mannered children, both by nature
and as a result of their training in the modest and
restricted little household they had spent their first
years in. They had learned there, though quite un-
consciously, to respect other people's rights as well as
their own, so they looked down the aisle to discover
where their place in it chanced to be, if they were so
lucky as to possess a place. In the seat nearest them
an old gentleman nodded with his arms folded and his
head dropping forward on his chest. He had a black
skull-cap on, and had his back against the side of the
window and his legs up on the seat, so there was no
room for even one of them there. Everybody was
making himself or herself as comfortable as possible
under the circumstances, and this needed space. One
very big man had turned down the seat next his own
and filled it with his feet and his valise, his hat and
a.very large and long overcoat. He was snoring
94 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
"I think there is a seat empty just behind that
very fat lady," Meg whispered.
It was at the end of the car, and they went to it
and found she was right. They took possession of it
quietly, putting their satchel under the seat.
"It seems so still," said Meg. "I feel as if I was in
somebody's bedroom. The sound of the wheels makes
it seem all the quieter. It's as if we were shut in by
"We mustn't talk," said Robin, "or we shall waken
the people. Can you go to sleep, Meg?"
I can if I can stop thinking," she answered, with a
joyful sigh. "I'm very tired-but the wheels keep
saying over and over again, 'We're going--we're
going-we're going!' It's just as if they were talking.
Don't you hear them ?"
"Yes, I do. Do they say that to you too? But
we mustn't listen," Robin whispered back. "If we
do, we shall not go to sleep, and then we shall be too
tired to walk about. Let's put our heads down and
shut our eyes, Meg."
"Well, let's," said Meg.
She curled herself up on the seat and put her head
into the corner.
"If you lean against me, Rob," she said, "it will be
softer. We can take turns."
Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
They changed position a little two or three times,
but they were worn out with the day's work and their
walk and the excitement, and the motion of the train
seemed like a sort of rocking which lulled them.
Gradually their muscles relaxed and they settled
"IF YOU LEAN AGAINST ME, ROB," SHE SAID, "IT WILL
down, though after they had done so Meg spoke once
"Rob," she said, "did you see that was our man ?"
"Yes," answered Rob very sleepily indeed; "and
he looked as if he knew us."
96 Two LITTLE PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
If they had been less young, or if they had been
less tired, they might have found themselves awake
a good many times during the night. But they were
such children! and now that the great step was taken
were so happy, and the soft, deep sleepiness of youth
descended upon and overpowered them. Once or
twice during the night they stirred, wakened for a
dreamy blissful moment by some sound of a door
shutting or a conductor passing through. But they
were only conscious of a delicious sense of strange-
ness, of the stillness of the car full of sleepers, of the
half realized delight of feeling themselves carried
along through the unknown country, and of the rattle
of the wheels which never ceased saying rhythmically,
"We're going-we're going-we're going !" Oh, what
a night of dreams, and new vague sensations to be
remembered always! Oh, that heavenly sense of joy
to come, and adventure and young hopefulness and
imaginings! Were there many others carried towards
the City Beautiful that night who bore with them the
same rapture of longing and belief-who saw with
such innocent clearness only the fair and splendid
thought which had created it-and were so innocently
blind to any shadow of sordidness or mere worldly
interest touching its white walls? And after the
passing of this wonderful night, what a wakening in