The boys of Clovernook

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Material Information

Title:
The boys of Clovernook the story of five boys on a farm
Physical Description:
351 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
Language:
English
Creator:
Beal, Mary Barnes
Barry, Etheldred B ( Etheldred Breeze ), b. 1870 ( Illustrator )
Lothrop Publishing Company ( Publisher )
C.J. Peters & Son ( Typographer )
Rockwell and Churchill ( Printer )
Publisher:
Lothrop Publishing Company
Place of Publication:
Boston
Manufacturer:
Typography by C.J. Peters & Son ; Presswork by Rockwell & Churchill
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Family -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Brothers and sisters -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Christmas -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Skating -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Farmers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Farm life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Teachers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Aunts -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Family stories -- 1896   ( local )
Bldn -- 1896
Genre:
Family stories   ( local )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
United States -- Massachusetts -- Boston

Notes

Statement of Responsibility:
by Mary Barnes Beal ; illustrated by Etheldred B. Barry.
General Note:
On spine: M.B. Beale.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 002222026
notis - ALG2259
oclc - 08434168
System ID:
UF00085044:00001


This item is only available as the following downloads:


Full Text



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"Many a happy time they had galloping up and down the lawn."


See page 240.








THE


BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK





THE STORY OF FIVE BOYS ON A FARM




BY
MARY BARNES BEAL


ILLUSTRATED BY ETHELDRED B. BARRY










BOSTON
LOTHROP PUBLISHING COMPANY















































COPYRIGHT, 1896,

HY

LOTitROP PUBLISHING COMPANY.



All rights reserved.


C. J. PETEBR & SON, TYPOGRAPIHERG, BOSTON.

BS55WOkt BT BOikWLLLY lKh tHWiLL, l^.BOST U.5.k.





























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THREE DEAR BOYS:

H. B. P., K. F. B., AND W. J. P.
















CONTENTS.



CHIA PTER. PAGE.
I. JOHN AND HIS FAMILY ARRIVE AT CLOVEINOOK . 9
II. KEITH COMES TO CLOVERNOOK.. . . 21
111. KEITH .. . .. . .. 37
IV. HAROLD AND WALTER COME TO CLOVERNOOK . 46
V. CHRISTMAS GIFTS . . . 59
VI. A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING . . 80
VII. THE SKATING-PARTY . . . 101
VIII. RUDOLF COMES TO CLOVERNOOK . . 115
IX. AUNT RACHEL LOSES HER BOYS, AND FINDS THEMi . 131
X. THE BURNING OF TIE BARN . . . 146
XI. THE THEFT OF THE TWENTY-DOLLA GOLD-PIECE . 163
XII. RUDOLF'S TROUBLE . . 177
XIII. A NEW BOY COMES TO CLOVERNOOK . . .192
XIV. LITTLE PETER . . . . 206
XV. THE ACCIDENT . . . . 221
XVI. TIiE LOST MONEY IS FOUND..... . 233
XVII. AUNT RACIEL HEARS STRANGE NEWS CONCERNING LITTLE PETEI, 250
XVITT. LITTLE PETER'S FATHER AND MOTHER . . 264
XIX. AUNT RACHEL HEARS MORE STRANGE NEWS . 279
XX. HERR VON ERDMANN COMES TO CLOVERNOOK . 291
XXI. RUDOLF HEARS III OWN STRANGE STORY . . 306
XXII. RUDOLF LEAVES CLOVERNOOK... . .324
XXIII. RUDOLF'S LETTER . . . 337






















LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


"MANY A HAPPY TIME THEY HAD GALLOPING UP AND DOWN THE LAWN,"
Frontispiece

PAGE
SCOPS ASSISTS THE PROFESSOR .. . .. 18

FIRST APPEARANCE OF KEITH. .. .. ... ... .... .29

KEITH ON HIS RAFT .. . . . .. 41

A RAID ON THE DUCKLINGS .... 50

"NOW, AUNTIE RAY, ISN'T THERE ANY ONE ELSE?" ASKED HAROLD 65

" IN HE CAME, ENVELOPED IN A FUR OVERCOAT .. ..... 73

HAROLD AT HIS STUDIES ... .. ... ...... .. S7

"THE BOYS HAD NEVER KNOWN SUCH SKATING BEFORE" ... .... .91

WHAT THE BOYS FULLY EXPECTED TO SEE ... .... ... .96

BROWNIE MAKES TIE MOST OF IT .... . .. . 101

BLINDMAN'S BUFF IN TIE KITCHEN ..... .. 107

"A LITTLE BOY SEATED BY THE WAYSIDE" . .. .118

"WHAT LOVELY TONES HE COULD DRAW FROM THAT PRECIOUS VIOLIN" 133

OUT OF THE FROG-POND .. .. . . . 141

NOT ONE OF TIEM REALIZED WHAT HE HAD DONE . ... .152

WHERE THE GOLD-PIECE WAS LEFT ...... .. ..... .174

"'I DID NOT DO IT! I DID NOT!' HE CRIED" .. .... . 185

"He FOUND THEY WERE TALKING OF THE SLEEPING CIILD" . .. 199

" HE REACHED IT, WHERE IT LAY ASLEEP ON THE GRASS" . .. .201


~ __ _


7i










S LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


PAGE

" KEITH'S BOY '' . .. .. ... .. 215

"RUN, UNCLE JOHN!" HE SCREAMED. .. .... . 229

ROB ROY . . . . . . .240

AUNT RACHEL PLAYS THE SPY ON SANDY . ... . 245

LITTLE PETER ON "HIS HORSE" . ... .... 261

IN TIE ORCIIARD . . .. .... .266

MR. LACY GOES A-FROGGING . .. .. .276

BROWNIE AT LEAPFROG . . . . 295

BROWNIE AND HERR VON ERDMANN .. . . 319

"I SAW BROWNIE, 'TAKING OFF' HERR ERDMANN" .. . .. 327

RUDOLF SAYS GOOD-BY TO ALL THE PETS . ... 334

AUNT RACHEL READING RUDOLF'S LETTER . .. 3.43


I_














THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.



CHAPTER I.

JOHN AND HIS FAMILY ARRIVE AT CLOVERNOOK.

0 begin with, there was one boy. Let me tell you all
about him: but first, I must say something of Clover-
nook, the place where the boy lived; before I do
that, though, I must bestow a few words on the people who
owned Clovernook. So, after all, I cannot start out as I
expected, but must go back to a time which is considerably
earlier than the period when my story really opens.
Never mind; we will travel over the ground as quickly as
we can, and soon we will come up with the boy again.
To begin once more, then: When my husband, John
Atherton, was about forty-five years old, a great trouble fell
upon him. At least, to him and to me it seemed a great
trouble, though it was, of course, nothing in comparison with
what many have to bear. His sense of hearing began to fail,
and gradually he became quite deaf. We hoped at first that
the difficulty was only temporary; but soon the certainty
came upon us that there was no hope, and that what was
in the beginning only a slight infirmity would, before long,
become a total loss of hearing. Here was a sad state of
9







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


affairs! For John was only a poorly paid professor of nat-
ural history in a Western college, with very little money
besides his salary. The knowledge that he must shortly give
up his position, and with it all hope of future work in the
profession he so dearly loved, to say nothing of the dismay
and anguish at the personal loss- all this, I say, fell upon
us with crushing weight, and at first we knew not what to
do. Our hearts ached with the dread and uncertainty of
the future; and we could only look into each other's face with
misery in our eyes, and cling together in silence.
"If only John were more like other men," I thought;
"there are so many things that most men can turn to when
one thing fails so many ways to earn one's bread and butter."
But, alas! my poor John was not of these. All his life lie
had been a student and a teacher, and had never dreamed of
anything else. Why must this sorrow have fallen upon him
who was so little able to bear it ? For certainly a more
unpractical man than my dear husband never lived.
Well, those were sad hours for us, and I will not dwell
on them now.
One day the thought suddenly came into my mind,
"There is the old farm; why could we not live there?" To
be sure, it was rented, and was, in fact, aside from John's
salary, the source of almost the whole of our little income;
but if we could only live there ourselves, we' would no
longer need this income, and how delightful to have such a
beautiful country home. For it had been lovely, as I remem-
bered it in the far-off days of my childhood,- that delight-
ful old farm of Clovernook, the home of my mother's father.








JOHN AND HIS FAMILY ARRIVE AT CLOVERNOOK.


I had never supposed then, that one day it would be my
own; but such things sometimes come about strangely, and
only a few years before this trouble of John's and mine, it
had fallen to my inheritance. Still, we had not thought of
it as a possible home; for all had then seemed so well with
us. But it would be just the thing. I could not see why
the thought had not come into my mind before. I could
hardly wait for John to come home. That night I said to
him, "John, I have thought of such a good thing; let us
give all this up, and go and live at Clovernook. We will be
farmers. Why not? It was a lovely old place as I remem-
ber it, and I know we could be as happy there as the day is
long. Why did I never think of it before? It will be just
the life for you, dear John, so free from care" -
"But, my dear!" broke in John, "farmers? How can
we be farmers ? What do I, or you either, know of farm-
ing ? That's the last thing, I would have thought, that could
come into even your crazy little head" -
"I know we don't know anything yet, but we can surely
learn," said I. "Of course we must have plenty of help,
and we will make friends among the neighbors; and when we
come to pitfalls they will lend us helping hands, you may
be sure; and we will buy books on farming, and all that.
Oh, there is no danger! We will soon learn it all; and just
think of the pleasure of having such a beautiful home in
the country, which shall be our very own. And such an
independent life too! No need to worry there; no need
to study this man's smile, or that one's frown. We shall
think our own thoughts at Clovernook, and speak them out


_ ______ ___ ~_____ __ __







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


too. Who is to hinder? We will live our own lives there,
and know peaceful, happy days, and the restful nights that
healthful labor and minds free from care always bring."
Thus I rambled on, having before my mind's eye a vision of
long woodland strolls, or quiet afternoons spent on the shady
porch, when the toils of the day should be over; or else
old-time heart-to-heart chats with John, as we walked to-
gether down the lane in the gloaming. I could almost see
ourselves there, and fairly smelt the lilacs and the syringas
in the air. John pushedd" and "pshawed" of course, and
raised many objections, after the manner of men; but I kept
on talking of Clovernook, in season and out, and, in the end,
I gained my point, as has many a good wife before me.
Of course it did not all come about in a day. It was in
the fall when we decided that the change must be made,
and it was not until the following spring that we were
really prepared to start. There was much to be done, both
in our home in the West and at Clovernook too, before we
could actually take possession of my inheritance. The peo-
ple living at Clovernook must receive timely notice of our
intentions, and there were many details connected with my
husband's position in the college to be attended to. I will
not enter upon these, however, but simply say that, by the
middle of March our preparations were made, and we were
ready to enter upon our new life.
Of course it was hard to go. We were leaving dear
friends behind us, and we had loved our little home. It was
hard to say good-by to everybody, and to feel that some of
them we might never see again. It was a hard thing, too,







JOHN AND HIIS FAMILY ARRIVE AT CLOVERNOOK.


to leave so many of our modest little possessions behind us,
as we felt obliged to do; but the wrench had to come, and
we met it as have thousands of others that is to say, as
well as we could.
Our treasures we were taking with us alas! our dear-
est treasure we could not take. For once, long years before,
a little son had blessed our lives for six short months, and
it seemed a bitter thing to leave that tiny grave behind us.
However, I will not speak of that -I was saying, we were
to take our treasures with us. John felt that he must have
the entire contents of his "den" with him, wherever he
might live; any one who has had much to do with a natur-
alist knows what that means. Every stuffed bird and beast,
every dried-up toad or alligator, every preserved snake or
lizard, every dusty old bone, all must be carefully packed and
sent forthwith to Clovernook, together with a full assortment
of tools, microscopes, and what not. And books, of course !
On my side, I must have my piano, my few good pic-
tures, my various precious little belongings, and, above all,
my little pet owl, Scops," and Sandy and Spot.
Spot was a beloved old dog, who had been with us for
many a year; and Sandy was the queerest of pets,- a sand-
hill crane.
One day, a year or two before this time, John had been
away on one of his many long excursions among the wilder
parts of the prairies about our home; and when he returned
to me in the evening, he took out from his wagon, among a
number of slain ducks and prairie chickens, and his usual
collection of guns, nets, baskets, pails, etc., a queer little







TIE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


bundle which seemed to consist of some movable objects
confined within one of his old coats, and securely tied about
with strong twine. As he lifted it carefully to the ground,
I said, "What have you there, John ?"-" Well, my dear,"
lie replied, remembering your wish for something to take
the place of the dead canary, I thought I would bring you
this pair of birds."
Birds, indeed! They were the strangest objects! It
would have been hard to say what they looked like; cer-
tainly like no bird I had ever seen or heard of. As I
carefully made an opening in the coat, a little head was
suddenly thrust up, and in a moment another. They were
about the size of pigeons' eggs, and had long, sharp bills at-
tached to them. They were placed on two very long and
scraggy necks, which waved about in the air in the most
singular manner. For a moment it seemed as if this must
be all there was of them; but upon unfastening the twine,
and releasing them from the folds of the coat, two little
round fuzzy bodies were revealed to my astonished gaze, and in
a moment these two little bodies arose and stood erect on two
pairs of ridiculously long and stilt-like legs. It really seemed
as if they could not be legs, they were so long and thin.
As I looked upon these absurd creatures, the thought rose
in my mind, "Well, I can never make pets of you." I was
about to say as much to John, when suddenly one of them
looked at me, yes, actually looked up at me, with the sharp-
est, merriest twinkle in its bright yellow eye. It was enough
for me; that glance had won my heart. I adopted them at
once. I loved the little fellows from that moment; and







JOHN AND HIS FAMILY ARRIVE AT CLOVERNOOK. 15

John was properly thanked for his gift, and accommodations
were immediately made for the wee strangers' comfort.
They were at that time mere fledglings, and had not
yet learned to feed or help themselves in any way; but we
began at once the process of "bringing them up by hand,"
and it was not very long before they were able to pick up
for themselves morsels of meat, and bugs or worms. One of
them, however, was a very greedy fellow, and would eat so
much faster than the other that he soon outstripped him in
size and strength. As he grew larger, he would gobble up,
not only his own food, but that of his feeble little brother
also; so that, in no long time, poor Jonathan (we had named
them David and Jonathan) was literally starved to death, in
spite of our efforts to prevent the wicked David from de-
vouring more than his share.
After this sad event, we changed the name of the
naughty survivor to Sandy;" partly because he was of a
reddish color, and partly because we felt that he no longer
deserved so good a name as "David."
As he grew older, he became very tame, and liked to
follow us about, exactly as a dog would. In fact, it was a
common occurrence for both Spot and Sandy to accompany
us whenever we took our walks abroad; and many a time
we must have presented a funny sight as we strolled across
the fields,-the staid professor and his wife, the bounding
dog, and the tall ungainly bird, sometimes mincing along
with his funny, affected steps, and sometimes hopping on
with a skip and a jump, in a vain attempt to fly with his
poor clipped wings.







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


It was funny, too, to see the crane and the dog together.
Never were more devoted friends than they. They slept
together, curled down side by side, through the long winter
nights; but in the summer Sandy preferred to stand' outside
the kennel. There, perched on one foot, with his head under
his wing, he stood, a solitary sentinel, from the early gloam-
ing to the first peep of dawn, when he was at once awake
and alert, ready for the earliest worm he could find. He
did not by any means confine himself to his own natural
food, however, but was eager for anything that offered. As
a matter of course, he expected to share Spot's choicest tid-
bits. Indeed, the two usually ate from the same plate, and
drank from the same dish.
Sometimes, in the long summer afternoons, when Spot
would be lying in some shady place, stretched at full length,
and indulging himself in the delights of a well-earned after-
dinner nap, Sandy would amuse himself by stealing softly
up, and beginning in a quiet way to pick at the burrs and
brambles with which the dog's long hair would often be
matted. If he were very gentle in his work, Spot paid no
attention, and slept on; but when a more vigorous tug at
some offending burr would come, then poor Spot would sud-
denly wake with a wild yell, and a leap in the air, and then
he would go for that wicked Sandy, and you would think
that he meant to devour him from the tip of his beak to
the end of his toes. Sandy would know better though; he
would step quietly off, and Spot, after a few fierce barks
and savage looks, would again lie down to his slumbers.
In the winter-time it was quite curious to see Sandy







JOHN AND IIIS FAMILY ARRIVE AT CLOVERNOOK.


working about the dog's feet, picking at the hard kernels of
snow which would get lodged between the toes. Spot would
stand always very quietly during this operation; for no doubt
it was disagreeable to him to have the snow there, and lie
heartily approved of Sandy's self-appointed task. Only Mas-
ter Sandy must take due care to be gentle in his labors; if
too hard a tug should come, Spot would growl and look very
fierce, and would even take the crane's long neck within his
teeth and pretend to bite it, which Sandy never minded in
the least.
We felt that the two really loved each other, and we
would never have dreamed of separating them. So, when
the question arose as to which of our pets were to go to
Clovernook and which to stay behind, there was no thought
of leaving either Spot or Sandy.
And now I must speak one brief word of "Scops." He
really deserves it; for he was (and is still) the quaintest and
most curious of little screech-owls. He also was one of
the pets we had reared from babyhood. Very early in life
he had learned to consider us, apparently, in the light of
adopted parents; and, I dare say, thought us only a pair of
older and wiser owls, who existed for no other purpose than
to supply his daily wants. As soon as he was able to open
his great round eyes, lie learned to recognize us, and would
hold up his crooked little beak for the expected bit of fresh
meat. He, too, was a greedy fellow, and always asked for
more than he ought to have; and sometimes, when we refused
to bestow another morsel upon him, he had an irresistibly
funny way of slowly lifting the little ear-tufts or horns on







18 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

the top of his head, and gazing solemnly upon us with those
great yellow eyes, as if he were astonished at our conduct,
and expostulating with us, apparently more in sorrow than
in anger. It was impossible to help laughing at him at such
times, and the matter generally ended by the young rascal's
getting more than was good for him.
As he grew older he developed many comical traits. He
spent much of his time in my husband's "den," where
it was his great delight to
prowl about among the dif-
ferent objects around him,
apparently investigating the
.various specimens of natural
history with the keenest in-
S-terest. In and out lie would
S' 'go among the birds and beasts,
S .--tweaking at the stuffed alli-
Sigator's jaw perhaps, or bow-
ing with funny little bobs,
i :first on one side of his head,
Scops assists the Professor. and then on the other, as he
stood before some small ani-
mal, wondering, no doubt, what it could possibly be. But his
greatest curiosity was excited by John himself, seated at his
writing-table. Scops would be perched, perhaps, on his favorite
seat,-the bill of the great loon which stood on the bracket
above the table. Thence he would fly down on John's
shoulder, and look at the paper, first with one eye, and then
the other, in the most eager, comical way; then he would








JOIIHN AND HIS FAMILY ARRIVE AT CLOVERNOOK.


give John's mustache a soft tweak, as if to ask, What are
you doing, anyway ? Not satisfied with this, he would hop
down upon the table, and watch the pen for a few moments,
and perhaps seize it in his beak, as if to see what it was
made of. Sometimes he would become too eager, and dance
about on the very words as they were being written; in which
case an impatient hand would suddenly and rudely push him
to the verge of the table, whereupon he would usually mount
to his favorite loon, and instantly assume his look of injured
dignity.
Besides Sandy and Spot and Scops, there was also a
little round white puff-ball of a spitz puppy, of no conse-
quence whatever, who rejoiced in the name of Buff, not be-
cause of his color, which was as white as the newly fallen
snow, but because his grandfather and great-grandfather
before him had borne that name. Him we were taking to
our new home; and also a tiny bantam rooster with his
wife, Napoleon and Josephine by name, a couple who had
just lost their entire brood of promising chicks scarcely larger
than young robins, and who, strange to say, showed no traces
of sorrow for this great calamity, but spent their whole time
strutting about the yard in the most callous and hard-
hearted manner. All these, I say, were, one fine morning,
boxed up and suitably provisioned, and sent on to Clover-
nook to await our coming. A poor assortment of animals
with which to stock a farm, you will say; but we could
hardly call ourselves farmers as yet, though we hoped soon
to become so.
Next, we ourselves were off and away. It is not my







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


purpose to linger over the good-bys, nor to speak particularly
of our journey. I will tell you, instead, of how in the late
afternoon of a cold, blustering day toward the end of March,
we found ourselves being rapidly driven through a long lane
-a lane bordered on either side by many bushes and grand
old trees, such trees as I had never seen elsewhere, whose
branches, bare indeed at that time, met and crossed each
other, reaching far out into the fields beyond.
As we passed swiftly on, we came to a little turn in the
road, and there stood our home before us Shall I ever
forget that first glimpse of Clovernook? The old house
stood high on its terraces; its broad wings -on either side
seemed in the dim twilight to hold out sheltering arms o
us; bright lights were glancing within the windows; a wide
door was flung open; a cheery voice called to us. In a mo-
ment we were standing before a great fire of logs in an
immense fireplace. We were casting off wraps, we were
laughing, we were crying, at the same time. In a word,
this was Clovernook, and we were at home.







KEITH COMES TO CLOVERNOOK.


CHAPTER II.

KEITH COMES TO CLOVERNOOK.

I WISH I could make you see the old house with my
eyes as I saw it on the morning after our arrival.
Everything within and without seemed in perfect order;
for it had been arranged that the former occupants were
to remain until we could take possession, and become some-
what accustomed to our new surroundings. So when, at
an early hour, we had left our chamber, and had come
down to the cheerful dining-room, with its roaring fire in
the vast fireplace, and had eaten a toothsome breakfast at
the old square table, with my grandfather's old-fashioned sil-
ver and quaint blue-and-white dishes, we had nothing to do
but roam about from room to room, and make acquaintance,
from the windows, with the different views. Even in the
month of March these seemed very lovely to eyes so long
accustomed to the monotony of a prairie country.
The house stood, as I have said, on a terraced knoll; all
about it the ground sloped gently down; on the south to the
tree-bordered lane by which we had arrived the night before,
and on the west and north to some beautiful woods, which
appeared, upon that morning, to have put on their loveliest
winter aspect for our especial benefit. Each separate branch
and twig was covered with hoar frost, upon which the sun







TIIE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


had scattered a million little sparkles; and we thought we
had never seen a prettier sight. I turned to John and said,
" Oh, how happy we shall be here, my dear!" John never
says very much, but I could see by his eyes that he was as
happy as was I. When we looked through the east windows
of our sitting-room, there was the winding road leading to
the little village; and though, through the soft hazy atmos-
phere caused by the hoar frost, we could not see very much,
we could catch a faint glimpse not far away of some white
houses, and a distant church spire, where of course John
and I would wend our way on Sundays in the years to
come.
Within, the rooms were all cosey and comfortable, though
old-fashioned, as you may suppose. There were beams in the
corners and overhead, and quaint, high mantelpieces. The
furniture, too, was, for the most part, very old ; but it was
well preserved, and quite handsome too. You may be sure
we were pleased with everything. When we went up into
the attic, which seemed to hold within its capacious walls
enough to furnish the house all over again, and looked about
at the different chests and boxes and baskets strewed here
and there, I could not help exclaiming, Oh, what a grand
place for children to rummage about in on rainy days!
What a pity to have it wasted on you and me! How I
wish" But. alas! we had no children, and poor John
and I must just enjoy the old house, attic and all, as well
as we could by our own selves.
Well. it did not take very long to settle down in our
new home; and soon we were busily engaged with what were







KEITH COMES TO CLOVERNOOK.


to us very unusual occupations. These were, on John's part,
the caring for cows and horses and poultry and pigs; and on
mine, the learning those thousand and one things which a
well-trained farmer's wife should know. For, though we had
help both in the house and out, we meant, of course, to
learn how everything should be done. Indeed, our zeal was
so great that we spent nearly all our leisure time in study-
ing various farming-works, and manuals on the care of poul-
try, and the like--to say nothing of the deep and absorbing
conversations we held with a neighboring farmer, who in his
eagerness to impart useful information seemed kindness per-
sonified, and whose motive we never thought of suspecting,
though long, long afterward we heard that he said, "'It's a
re-el treat ter me. ter go up on the hill an' have a laf at
them Athertons. I didn't s'pose folks could know so little
'bout farmin'. Ac-chally, if they can either one on 'em tell
a potato-vine from a pig-weed, it's as much as they c'n do.
I jest enjoy answerin' on 'em questions. They don't know
no more 'bout farmin' than that crane o' their, an' not haf
so much, fer he does know haow ter dig." Indeed, I fear
that the farmer folk about the village had many a merry
time at our expense; and I know now, though I did not
then, that not only did our accidents and blunders often
prove a source of amusement, but our very farm itself, with
its pretty name of "Clovernook," became known far and
wide as "Menagerie Hill," in allusion to all the different
pets we had brought with us at the time of our flitting, as
well as others which we had added since.
.Sandy had taken most kindly to farm-life. The freedom







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


of acres in which to stalk about, where formerly he had
been limited to a small yard, seemed a welcome change to
him. It is true, one wing was clipped so that lie could not
fly ; but wherever he could go with those long legs he went,
and he never tired of walking after the men about the fields,
assisting or hindering, as the case might be, in the planting
and weeding, and following the plough as faithfully as did
David, the hired man, himself.
It happened that, at the outset of his career at Clover-
nook, poor Sandy had met with several misadventures; not
the least of which was a violent encounter with a large and
beautiful bronze turkey, who made his arrival on the farm
one fine spring morning, and at once, by his lordly mien and
strutting gait, plainly announced himself ."monarch of all
lie surveyed." Up to this time, Sandy had been the sole
ruler in the poultry world; his sway among the ducks and
chickens and guinea-fowl had been unquestioned, and he
never dreamed that even the gamiest" rooster would fail
to flee before him if he deigned to stretch his long legs in
his direction. Sandy, therefore, was illy prepared to bear a
rival so near the throne; his amazement and indignation,
as he gazed a moment upon the unwelcome intruder in his
domain, were as violent as they were ludicrous. As the
turkey stepped forth from the box in which his long railway
journey had been made, he gave his beautiful coat of many
colors a shake which seemed to make him swell to twice his
natural size; then, rearing his throat, with its bright red
beads distended, he uttered a bold and defiant "gobble -
gobble -gobble!" apparently intended to send dismay to all







KEITH COMES TO CLOVERNOOK.


surrounders, and strutted forth to take possession of his new
kingdom. He was followed by his meek and plainly clad
wife, who having been obliged to put up with a very small
corner in the box, in order that her lordly spouse might
have all the space he could manage to make use of, was no
doubt glad of an opportunity to stretch her legs.
But suddenly their triumphant progress was checked by
an unforeseen obstacle. Sandy stood in their path, and
barred the way. Sandy, the usually gentle and sweet-tem-
pered bird, was now, for the first time in our experience of
his many moods, in a rage. His whole form quivered with
the intensity of his emotion; and with a hoarse croak, and a
glare in his yellow eye that said as plainly as words could
do, "Come on! if you dare," he entered battle.
In a moment there was a wild confusion of legs and
necks and feathers and croaks. We, the unprepared behold-
ers of this exciting scene, could only look on in helpless
dismay; while the conflict raged faster and fiercer, the ground
was strewn with feathers, and the' air seemed filled with the
loud "gobble, gobble, gobble," of the turkey. To make mat-
ters worse, poor Spot rushed into the midst of the mle6e with
the intention of rescuing Sandy; but retired the next moment
with a bloody nose, and one eye nearly put out. The ducks
and chickens had all fled in consternation; but the poor
bride of the gobbler stood quietly by, with a good deal of
indifference, as if it were no new thing to her, and such
little affairs formed a part of her daily life.
I do not know how the matter might have ended if. a
well-directed stone had not felled the gobbler to the earth,







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


and effectually separated the combatants. It was then dis-
covered that poor Sandy had fared much the worse of the
two; in some way one of his toes had become broken, his
right eye was quite closed, his neck was bare of feathers,
and was a mass of scratches, while blood poured "forth all
over his body from various wounds which the victorious
turkey had inflicted. He was, in short, a most dilapidated
and disreputable looking bird; and until such time as lie
could be cured, and lie and his enemy could decide to live
more peaceably, he had to be shut up in an improvised
hospital, that is to say, an empty pigpen.
They never did become reconciled, however. Poor Sandy
drooped and pined for some time in his prison, while
his enemy strutted abroad, happy and free, and able to go
wherever he pleased. Finally, one day he visited Sandy, and,
between the slats of the dungeon, hostilities were renewed;
the besieger retiring, this time, with a badly swollen head
and a shut-up eye. Next, Sandy managed to escape from the
pigpen, and lost not a moment in returning the enemy's call.
Another terrible encounter ensued, with great loss of feathers
and some bloodshed on both sides. By this time Sandy had
become almost naked. There never was such a looking
bird. He was lame, halt, and nearly blind; while here and
there on his body were bare spots as large as a man's hand.
Again and again we tried to restrain him; but he seemed
bewitched by the bright beads on the turkey's neck, and
would succeed repeatedly in eluding our vigilance.
At last we became convinced that there was no use in
trying to keep both birds. Either "The Sultan" must go,







KEITH COMES TO CLOVERNOOK.


or Sandy. It was too bad; for I had set my heart upon
raising some young turkeys, and the gobbler was really a
valuable fowl, as well as a beautiful one. But when we
thought of Sandy, and all he had been to us for so many
years, we felt we could not part with him. You know the
old lines of the poet: -

II How happy could I be with either,
Were t'other dear charmer away!"

It was certainly so in our case.
The upshot of the whole matter was that The Sultan"
was sold to a neighboring farmer, at a greatly reduced
price, of course, though we had owned him only a week;
while I, who had been casting about in my mind for some
time what I should have for a little feast upon John's ap-
proaching birthday, suddenly found myself in possession of an
unexpected "main dish" in the poor bride of the gobbler.
She had been left behind when her lord was sold, and was
now to be roasted and eaten with all due ceremony. But
at what a cost! I fear the feast was not wholly free, at
least on my part, from some sorrow and vexation of spirit.
However, out on the lawn was Sandy, stalking about, very
lame to be sure, and with his throat bound up in long
lengths of cotton cloth, but free as air, and happy as a
king; and that sight went far to soothe my wounded heart.
But I will speak no more of the details of those first
months spent at Clovernook; for though each day brought
its own events of interest to us, I cannot expect you, the
young people to whom I tell this story, to enjoy them with







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


me. So I will pass on to a day in the early October of that
year, when a singular thing happened.
I was sitting on the south porch, with a book in my
hand. I was not reading very intently; for the afternoon was
a* beautiful one, and I was constantly tempted to raise my
eyes from the page before me to gaze at the lovely autumn
coloring which everywhere met my view. Probably this was
the reason why I saw the old coach which plied between the
village and the neighboring city, slowly crawling up the hill
at the foot of the lane. I wondered if it could be bringing
any one to Clovernook; but I dismissed this thought, for
I knew that we had few friends who would be likely to visit
us at that time; so I fastened my eyes on my book again.
When I next raised them, however, the coach had stopped
at the entrance of the carriage-road which leads past our
door, and there stood a child. I could hardly tell whether
it was a boy or a girl; for a small shawl which covered its
shoulders, and a large satchel and a lunch-basket held in
either hand, almost concealed the little person from my
view. The driver stood for a moment pointing to the house;
evidently he was directing the child to the door; then, jump-
ing to his seat and cracking his whip, he drove quickly away.
The child took a few steps up the carriage-road in a
hesitating way; then he dropped the heavy satchel, and
stood still, looking anxiously and timidly about, as if not
knowing what to do next.
I now saw that it was a little boy about six years old.
SWho can it be?" I thought, and walked down the road to
meet him.








KEITH COMES TO CLOVERNOOK.


"Who is this little boy? I said. The child did not
answer, but looked up in my face with a pair of large blue
eyes filled with tears. His face was tear-stained and dirty,
and his clothing was poor, though not ragged. My heart
went out at once to the little fellow, not because he was
a pretty boy, though he was that too, but because his blue






-',- V-





-i f *;
-w I



A










First appearance of Keith.

eyes had such an anxious, beseeching look in them, and lie
seemed so tired and careworn. "What is it, my dear? I said.
"I want my Uncle John, and he isn't here," he cried;
and put his face down on his basket, while his little frame
shook with sobs.
"Who is your Uncle John?" I said; "what is his other
name ?"







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


But the child could not tell me. He had forgotten; and
the sobs came faster than ever.
"Never mind," I said; "come with me, and we will try
to find your uncle for you; though I was feeling greatly
puzzled, and could not imagine why he should have been
brought to us. First of all," I said, we will have a good
glass of milk, for I know you are hungry; then we will
see what to do next."
But I mustn't stop here," said the boy, trying to pull
his hand from mine; "I must find my Uncle John; I was
sent to him. They said he would be here; but he isn't
here." And the little lip quivered again.
Never mind now; stay with me a little, and we will
talk it over. Who sent you to your Uncle John ?"
My father."
"And what is your father's name ? "
George Brantford."
This did not enlighten me at all, but I went on with my
questions.
"Where does your father live?"
"He lives 'way off in a big city; its name's San Fran-
cisco."
"What! and did you live there with him?"
"Yes'm; and he sent me to my Uncle John."
"You do not mean to say that you have come all the
way from California! "
The child nodded vigorously. "Yes'm; all alone. I had a
letter; it is in the inside of my coat, pinned fast. I gave
it to people to read on the train, and they helped me all







KEITH COMES TO CLOVERNOOK.


the way along; they said I would find my Uncle John, but
I don't know where he is." And again the little chest
heaved with a big sob.
By this time we had reached the house, and I had taken
off the shawl (which he afterward told me a kind lady had
given him on the cars, when it was cold, and she thought
he had not enough to wear); then I took him into the
kitchen, and bathed his face, and scrubbed his dirty little
hands, and also brushed out the tangled yellow hair, which
fell in large loose curls around his forehead and neck. He
was a very pretty boy, and I felt that I wanted him for
my own; I am afraid I almost hoped, for a moment, that
we could never find his uncle.
I saw my husband coming along the lane driving the
cows before him. I knew he could not hear me, so it was
of no use to call. I waited until I could catch his eye, and
then, quite frantically, I beckoned for him to come to me.
This he did almost upon the run; supposing, as he said after-
ward, that some direful household calamity had befallen me,
- perhaps the kitchen stovepipe had tumbled down!
When he reached us, I told him all I knew about the
little stranger.
"Where is the letter he spoke of ?" he said. "That may
tell us something."
"Why, of course," I said; "why didn't I think of that
before ? "
I now unbuttoned the child's coat, and unpinned two
letters; one quite a bulky one.
The poor little fellow was meanwhile eating his luncheon








THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


and drinking his glass of milk as if he had not had any-
thing so good for a long time; it made the tears come into
my own eyes to think of that long and cruel journey with
no one to care for him. How had the poor boy fared?
My husband picked up the thinner letter first; it said:-

" DEAR PROFESSOR ATHERTON,-
This little child arrived here yesterday from San Francisco, and
was 'labelled' to you, at your old address. He gives quite a clear ac-
count of himself, and says he was sent by his father to you, who are his
uncle. We should have held him over for a week or two until we could
have heard from you; but as Mr. Arden is going on to Boston, and is
willing to take charge of him that far, and as he will put him on the
train for your town, it seems too good an opportunity to lose. Shall be
glad to hear if the little chap reaches you safely. He seems a bright boy,
and we shall all be interested in learning how his travels terminate. Kind
regards to Mrs. Atherton.
Truly yours,
M. B. CRANE."

John handed the letter to me, and I read it also. "I
cannot understand it," said I.
"Nor I," said John, as he opened the other letter. He
read in silence for a few moments. Suddenly his countenance
changed.
He flung the letter into my lap; then, turning, he bent
to the wondering child, and, lifting him in his arms, -bread
and butter and all. he clasped him close.
"Rachel," he said, "this is Alice's child; and his eyes
were full of tears.
Your sister Alice's child!" I cried. "How can that be ?
I thought there was no child."







KEITH COMES TO CLOVERNOOK.


But he did not answer me. He was speaking to the boy.
"I am your uncle," he said; "and you shall be to me as
my very own."
And he kissed him, and held him closer still.
The little fellow gave him a long look. "Are you my
Uncle John?" he cried eagerly.
"Indeed, I am, my boy."
Oh," said the child with a deep sigh of content, "I
didn't think you could look so good as this! And he put
his head on his uncle's neck, and hugged him with all his
might. '"I am so glad," he said, low. Then a sob came;
but he was crying for joy this time.
And I said, "But if he is yours, he is mine too. Come
to your Aunt Rachel." I drew the boy into my own arms.
He was pleased to come. It was a very happy face he
turned to me. He was ready to love us both. But, again
and again, he turned to his uncle with that long, loving
look in his eyes. I saw then the beginning of what, thank
Heaven! I have never failed to see since, a great and abid-
ing love between those two.
Then, while the boy sat between us, we finished the
letter together.
It was a hard, rough letter, written by a hard and rough
man. I had never seen my husband's sister, but I knew
her story.
In her youth she, like many another girl, had been
wooed and won by a gay young stranger to whom her
parents were bitterly opposed. In her wilful fashion, she
was determined to marry him. She was cast off by her







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


father and mother in consequence, and had only her brother
John to stand beside her when her wedding-day came. He,
too, had no confidence in the young husband; and it was
with many misgivings that he gave his loved and only
sister into the husband's care. He never saw her after that
day. The couple went to the Far West. At first there
were happy letters; but gradually their tenor changed,
and it was not long before John knew, what he had always
feared, that his young sister had married most unwisely
and unhappily. Many years passed; and one day a sad
letter came, telling her brother of her failing health, and
asking him to take her baby son, Keith, and care for him
as his own, if she should die. Upon this my good husband,
in great grief, started for the far-off home of his sister,
hoping to see her once more in life; but he never did. He
was too late. She was in her quiet grave when he reached
her. I suppose there were bitter words between the two
men. I know they parted as enemies. Alice's husband
said that the child had died before the mother. John be-
lieved him, and came sorrowfully home. From that time
no word had passed between them till now, nearly six years
later, this letter had come in such a strange and unusual
manner.
The man said he was about to start for South America.
he would probably never return. He had decided to send
his child on to his wife's brother. He confessed that the
story he had told of the child's death was utterly false.
He had hated his wife's brother, as well as all of her rela-
tives; and while he cared little for the boy, and considered








KEITH COMES TO CLOVERNOOK.


him, in fact, only in the light of a burden and expense, he
would not be the means of gratifying her brother by giving
him up to him; he considered therefore that the shortest
way out of it all was to deny the child's existence. He
had repented of that; and now, at this late day, he wished
to retract it, and send the child on. He had married again,
and his wife was unkind to the boy; it would be better for
all parties, he said, if a change should be made. He knew
we would be kind to him. He supposed the little chap
would soon forget him entirely; it was better that he
should; and he was very truly, etc. In such brief and
curt fashion was our precious gift bestowed upon us.
"But are you sure, John, that it is really Alice's boy?"
said I, when we had finished the'letter; "perhaps for some
reason he is cheating us still."
John lifted the yellow curls from the boy's brow. "I
have only to look in his face," he said; "it is her very
own.
I, too, looked long upon that lovely face, with the blue
eyes now grown so sleepy. "I don't know how that may
be, dear John, for I' never saw your sister; but I do know
that he is your very picture." Then I took our boy in
my arms, tenderly and thankfully, carried him up to our
chamber, and laid him on our bed to sleep. He looked
up at me, just before he sank into his peaceful slumber, and
said, as he put his arms round my neck, "Oh, am I your
boy now?"
"Yes, my darling," I said.
And am I always to live in this beautiful place ? "








36 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

Yes, indeed."
It is my very own home ?"
"Yes."
"Oh, how I shall like to be here! And with that
the sleepy eyelids closed, and the tired little form gave it-
self up to a happy, dreamless sleep.
In this manner the first boy came to Clovernook.







KEITH.


CHAPTER III.

KEITH.

IN those first days after our little Keith came to us,
lie was very shy, and seemed of a timid nature. He was
easily frightened by such trifles as a quick word or sudden
movement. A dark closet was terrifying to him; and I
found it utterly impossible to make him go to sleep at
night without a light in the room.
It was evident to me that he had met with harsh treat-
ment at the hands of somebody I doubted not, his cruel
stepmother. He seldom spoke of his life before he came
to Clovernook, and seemed not to wish to give even a
thought to those troublous times. However, he could not
always avoid thinking of them; and sometimes his eyes
would flash, and his little fist would double up, when he
spoke of his stepmother. She is bad, and I hate her,"
he muttered more than once; but I did not encourage this
train of thought, and gradually the remembrance, not only
of her, but of his father, of whom he seemed to have known
very little, passed away. Often, when he was silent, with a
frown upon his brow, I knew he was thinking of the old
times; but I hoped that new scenes and fresh faces would
help to obliterate them from his mind.
It was not long before he learned to know us well, and







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


to become perfectly happy in his new surroundings. From
the very first he seemed to choose his uncle for his boon
companion. The two were always together from early morn-
ing until bedtime. Did Uncle John start out in the morning,
with a pail of dough in each hand, to feed the ducks and
chickens, at his side trudged the sturdy form of his young
nephew; did the uncle betake himself at night to the pasture
to call the cows from their grassy feeding-grounds, the happy
child ran by his side, or lingered to fling a stone at a saucy
chipmunk, or to startle a shy partridge from her nest.
How often have I seen the two seated behind the barn
on a mossy log, which was John's favorite seat when lie
wished to rest himself after the labors of the day. At such
times they would seem so engrossed in each other's conver-
sation as to be utterly oblivious to whatever might be going
on in the world around them; and if you had gone up softly
behind them, it would have been of some wonderful bird or
bug or beast that you would have heard. For Keith was
rapidly becoming another naturalist, as keen as his uncle.
Nothing appeared to give him quite so much pleasure as
these talks with Uncle John; unless it was the many excur-
sions the two took together, when they fished and hunted
and botanized and bird's-nested to their hearts' content.
Nothing could have pleased his uncle more than to have
the boy following so eagerly in his own footsteps. He meant
to teach Keith everything he knew himself, he said, and then
provide the ways and the means to have him know a great
deal more (though, privately, I did not believe this possible).
On rainy days, when nothing could be done out-of-doors,







KEITII.


I always knew where to find both my husband and my boy.
Up in the attic was a good-sized room, which John had
fitted up as a museum; and there the two would work and
talk for hours at a time. I should have said three instead
of two; for generally the owl, Scops," was of the party.
This little pet still manifested his old fondness for learning
by spending the greater part of his time in the museum,
and, with the strictest impartiality, using the shoulder of
either his old or young master for a perch. I have often
laughed, upon entering the room, to see the two heads close
together, the dark one and the yellow one, and the comical
little ear-tufts and the great wise eyes of the owl peering
between them.
But there was quite another side to Keith's character.
If we had thought, at first, that he would always be shy
and quiet, we soon found ourselves mistaken; for a merrier
little rogue than he proved to be never existed. It was
only necessary for him to become at home in every sense
of the word; to feel that he was ours, and that we were
his, and that the whole farm was his too, in a measure, as
if he had in reality been born to it; then the real Keith
came forth from his shell, as it were, and took possession of
everybody and of everything. For, indeed, the whole farm
population, both within doors and out, soon knew and loved
him. From his uncle down to the latest little "bossie," all
felt the charm of the bright and cheery boy just come into
his kingdom. There seemed every danger that he would
be spoiled with so much love and care bestowed upon him;
and yet it was not so. Nothing, I think, could spoil such




I







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


a sunshiny and unselfish nature. It was a common saying
in the household that Keith could get angry, but it was
wholly impossible for him to stay angry. One had only to
say a merry word of remonstrance, or perhaps administer
a little timely ridicule, and in a moment his sense of the
ludicrous would come to the fore, and the smiles and jokes
were there as plentiful as ever.
I have said he was always with his Uncle John when
it was possible : there were, of course, many hours when
this could not be; but Keith was never lonely. Who could
be lonely with the cows and their bossies in the barn to hold
long and interesting conversations with, to stroke softly, and
feed with the fresh wisps of grass the little hands were never
tired of gathering; with the horses to pat lovingly on their
soft noses, and to utter certain funny, nonsensical remarks
to; with the eggs to hunt, and the new nests to spy out -
and it would be a very wise old lien who could hide her
nest from Master Keith. And then, were there not the
horses to ride to water, and the young ducks to help gather
together at night and beguile gently into their pen? Were
there not the stray pigs to race after, all over the farm,
when those singularly misguided creatures took it into their
obstinate heads to leave their rightful abodes, and start out
upon their unwieldy travels through the cornfields and the
strawberry-patch? Then, what joy to climb up into a certain
old black cherry-tree, and quietly sit hidden from all prying
eyes, and eat and eat, till the greedy little stomach could hold
no more, and the besmeared little face and hands would suddenly
appear before Aunt Rachel's horrified gaze to be "washed up."







KEITH. 41

But, best of all, there was the old swampy piece of
ground in a corner of a field, down at the foot of the lane.
It became known as Keith's Frogpond." The boy would
lie for hours on the stone wall around it, waiting patiently
for a tardy frog to appear and be fished up with a hook









J ',


















afraid to venture a guess how many frogs may have lost
their lives there, or what pollywoes and tadpoles may have
found untimely graves in that muddy place. Sometimes it
-' ....









^r--

















found untimely graves in that muddy place. Someti-es it







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


was quite full of slimy water; and there was an old raft
there on which Keith spent many happy moments paddling
about, and hunting for frogs and turtles and all sorts of
mud-loving creatures.
But in some ways it must be confessed that our boy was
a sad torment. I think there must have been certain little
mischievous elves about at the time of his birth, and that
they bestowed upon him the power to invent numberless
merry jokes and pranks; for I do not see how one small
human brain could otherwise think of so many tantalizing,
and at the same time comical, things to do. If it happened
at any time that the cat was seen going about with three
inches of her tail carefully denuded of hairs, and shaved down
to a fine point, that was Keith's work. If poor Sandy sud-
denly appeared upon the lawn struggling helplessly in some-
thing that looked suspiciously like a small boy's trousers, that
was Keith's work too. If David found the handles of his
milk-pails all nicely tied and knotted together with strong
twine when he came to get them at night, he knew where
to look for the offender. If a supposed fly, in the shape of
a spear of grass, suddenly travelled down the back of my
neck, I knew who held the fly ; or if I discovered, crawling
across the pages of my book, a caterpillar which could not
be brushed off, much as it might have wished it, because
firmly tied by a string held in a pair of little mischievous
hands at an upper window, I knew all about those hands.
I remember very well a certain day in the summer-time,
when I sat in the kitchen engaged in the arduous task of
making raspberry jam. Of course I was dressed suitably to







KEITI.


my work; my hands, and probably my face, showed traces
of my occupation. So when Keith came rushing in, and
announced that a carriage and span of horses, with three
people, were coming up the lane as fast as they could, I
naturally felt a good deal perturbed, and hastened off to make
myself as presentable as possible in the short time allowed
me, first telling Keith to be ready to meet them, and say I
would soon be there. In a minute or two I heard a shrill
little voice at the window, '"Aunt Rachel, they are almost
here;" and down I hurried to open the door and greet my
untimely guests.
What did I see? Standing before the door, or rather
slowly crawling before the door, were two very large turtles;
some holes had been bored in their shells, and fastened
through these holes was a harness composed of strong twine.
They were thus attached to a small wooden box set upon
wheels made of empty spools. In this vehicle were seated
three comical little wooden figures, with heads of green
apples; they were dressed in a funny fashion, to represent an
old lady and gentleman with their coachman driving them;
and they were the work of the busy brain and fingers of a
certain young scapegrace, who only waited to see his Aunt
Rachel appear in the door, to fly off round the corner of the
house shouting a triumphant and gleeful ki-yi!"
Can I ever forget a certain moment of horror when the
new minister and his young city bride made a call upon
me ? I noticed a strange embarrassment in their manner,
coupled with what looked like poorly suppressed mirth-it
did, indeed, amount to a distinct giggle two or three times







TIE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


on the part of the little bride. This behavior I vainly strove
to account for, and it gradually made me feel more and more
uncomfortable. So, I repeat, can I ever forget the moment
when their call was at length brought to an end, and, thank-
fully ushering them to the door, I rushed to a mirror to see
if anything in my personal appearance had caused such
singular conduct ? There I beheld three large turkey feathers
confined in my hair Two were standing erect in a decidedly
Swild-Indian" fashion, the other was lolling on one side in
an extremely rakish manner! I could have cried No wonder
they laughed! And it was all Keith's doings. He must
have put them there when I was busy about something,
and I had never known it.
But Keith never played jokes on his uncle. His feeling
for him was a thing apart, and seemed to partake of a
loving reverence lie felt for no else. His whole behavior to
Uncle John was beautiful to see. It had in it, too, a protect-
ing tenderness which was strange in so young a boy. When
lie had been at Clovernook only a little while, he learned to
be of great assistance to his uncle in interpreting the remarks
of the different strangers who came about the farm; and
John often said he never minded his infirmity so little as
when his boy was at hand. He could hear every word the
clear, shrill young voice uttered, when strangers had great
difficulty in making themselves understood. He took to call-
ing Keith his ear-trumpet," and would come into the house
and demand, "Where is my trumpet; I want him out here."
Then Keith would drop everything, no matter how much
he might be interested, and would rush away; and the next







KEITH.


moment I would see him out-of-doors, gravely listening to
some man old enough to be his grandfather, and then, turn-
ing to his uncle, carefully repeating all that had been said
to him.
So the days and months and years passed by, till three
birthdays for Keith had c6me and gone. Three happy years
they had been -for him, I may say, though not in all re-
spects for us. For many disappointments had come in that
time to John and me. Things were not going well with us
on the farm. We had gradually made the discovery that what
we knew about farming was very little indeed. We were
continually finding out our mistakes by the most costly kind
of experiences. There was always something we ought to
have done to the land which we did not do, and something
that we ought not to have done that we did do; and there
was loss upon loss in consequence. Then some of our cows
died; our peach crops failed; one thing after another trans-
pired to make our lot harder and our purse leaner; and by
this time, alas, a mortgage had laid its heavy weight upon
our dear old home. As you may suppose, we were not very
happy about it; but we still tried to be cheerful, and to hope
for better things ere long.
This was the state of affairs with us when Keith was ten
years old, and, as I said, had been three years at Clovernook.







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


CHAPTER IV.

HAROLD AND WALTER COME TO CLOVERNOOK.

ONE morning in the early part of November of that year,
my husband came to me, and said, -
Rachel, I must have your advice upon a matter of some
importance. What would you say to taking care of two
little city boys?"
I replied with some promptness, "I should say that my
hands were very well filled with one boy already, thank
you, and I don't care to fill them any fuller. Why? What
makes you ask ?"
Dr. Pembroke has just been telling me of his brother,
who has been called to Germany. He is obliged to start
upon very short notice. He is to remain for two years, and
is anxious to find some good place in the country where he
can leave his boys, and feel that they are in safe hands.
The doctor said he thought of us at once, and that Clover-
nook would be the very place for them."
But, John," I said, "how could we ? I should not
know what to do with two more. City boys too! They
would be homesick and unhappy. Where is their mother?"
Their mother is dead."
"Oh, poor boys! Well-haven't they any relatives to
stay with ?"







HAROLD AND WALTER COME TO CLOVERNOOK.


"I don't know. I suppose not, as their father wishes
them to board in the country. There is one thing, Rachel;
he is rich, and his ideas of remuneration are very generous.
That is something for us to think of in these days."
"So it is, John; that is true enough. Well, we must
think about it. How old are these boys?"
"One is eleven, and the other eight."
"And they are well, so we would not have to worry for
fear they might get ill ?"
"Particularly healthy, sturdy little chaps, so the doctor
said."
"Well," said I slowly, "we must think of it. Let us
sleep on it one night, and then decide."
"Well, I will not influence you. The money would be
a help; but the care would come mostly upon you, my dear,
and it shall be as you say. Only decide quickly; he must
know to-morrow."
In the morning I had made up my mind, and had decided
that the household at Clovernook should be increased by two
newcomers. I felt anxious, and dreaded to take upon my
shoulders such a responsibility as the care of two little mother-
less boys, and city boys at that; but I resolved that by
no thought or word or act of mine should their father ever
regret sending them to us. I meant to fill their mother's place
for them in so far as I could; though I felt little confidence
in myself, and did not know how well I should be able to
perform the duty.
The next morning word was sent to Dr. Pembroke of our
decision; and before night the burly form of the doctor him-







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


self appeared in our doorway, to thank us, he said, for being
so good as to take charge of two such wild animals as his
nephews. This frightened me a little, but he hastened to
explain that lie did not speak from personal knowledge at
all; he had not seen either of his nephews, he said, since
the younger one was an infant in arms. He only judged of
the matter on general principles, supposing all healthy
boys to be more or less of a handful to their elders and
betters.
I reflected that the doctor was a crusty old bachelor, and
probably did not know how to appreciate children anyway;
so I resolved not to borrow trouble about my new boys from
anything he might say, but to wait and see for myself what
they were. It was decided that their father should bring
them on the fifteenth; so I immediately began making prep-
arations for their arrival with all haste, as there were but a
few days in which to get ready.
I wondered how it would affect Keith. Would he be a
little jealous ? Could he. who had been the only child for so
long, share with two other boys, not only his happy home,
but all the love which had been showered upon him ? I need
not have been afraid; there was nothing ungenerous in Keith's
nature. "Shall you be glad to have them here?" I asked;
and "Wont I, just!" he answered. "They shall have half
of all my things, and sleep .in my bed, and" -
"Not quite so bad as that," I said, pushing the curls
away from the eager, bright-eyed face; "you shall not be
crowded out of your own little room. I will fix up the chamber
next to yours, and there I will have you all under my wing:







HAROLD AND WALTER COME TO CLOVERNOOK.


and many, many happy times I hope you will have there
together."
The day came at last, though Keith, in his impatience,
thought it never would; and when he waked up in the
morning, and saw that it bade fair to be a bright, sunshiny
day, he was quite overjoyed. "It is so much better for
them to have a good appression of the farm at first," said
Keith, who did not even yet get all his long words quite
right. And, indeed, I thought so too. It would be half the
battle won to have them come in the sunshine.
We had done all we could within doors. There was a
great log, assisted by dozens of little snapping hickory sticks
beneath it, burning sturdily and cheerily away in the great
old fireplace in the parlor. It cast a pleasant light on all
the pictures and books, and poured forth a flood of warmth,
and crackled a noisy welcome, which we hoped would prove
grateful to certain tired little forms and chilly fingers. Out-
of-doors the November sun was doing its best to brighten up
the lawn; and as Keith and I looked from the parlor win-
dows, we thought the old place was putting on a very pretty
dress in honor of the coming guests. In the dining-room the
big table was laid with a snowy cloth and the favorite blue-
and-white dishes; another great fire was roaring there also.
Certain savory smells were wafted in now and again from
the kitchen, where as good a dinner as Clovernook could pro-
duce was bubbling and puffing and boiling and roasting, and
doing its duty generally; and we hoped that this, too, would
prove acceptable to young and healthy appetites sharpened
by the long and chilly ride from the station.







50 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

All day Keith had danced about from one room to an-
other; but just before one o'clock, when they were to come, I
missed him. There was no time to hunt for him, however;
for there, at the foot of the lane, I saw Old Major" and
"Charlie drawing their load of men and boys and trunks up
the hill, and I knew that our new boys were at hand.
Another hasty moment in which to draw an easy-chair a
little nearer the fire, and brush a fallen coal back from the
hearth, and they are here, and I am on the porch to welcome
them to Clovernook. John gets down first, and begins to hand
down bundles. A tall, dark man alights, comes forward, and
puts out his hand to me. Then a slender, dark-eyed, rosy-
cheeked boy, a little taller than I had expected to see, steps
up beside his father, who turns, and brings the boy forward
to me. This is Harold, my eldest son," he says. The tall
boy looks up at me with a somewhat shy and earnest glance,
and puts his hand in mine, and blushes a little when I draw
him toward me, and give him a hearty kiss. "My dear," I
say, I hope you will be very happy at Clovernook;" at
which he smiles, and says "Thank you," in a low voice. And
then, as I lead the way to the parlor, I suddenly remember
the other boy.
"But where is the other boy?" I asked, astonished. Is
there not another boy ?"
"There certainly is another boy," said Mr. Pembroke,
smiling; "you will just have to take my word for it at
present, for I don't know when you may see him. We
started with him, but he has dropped by the way. As we
turned to drive up the lane, he discovered a little boy peep-







HAROLD AND WALTER COME TO CLOVERNOOK.


ing at him through some bushes, and nothing would do but
he must have an interview with that boy at once. If I
am not very much mistaken," he added, glancing from the
window, I can see both of them dangling their legs from
that stone wall this minute." And sure enough, down at
his frog-pond, there sat Keith. A little round bundle of
clothes was perched beside him. Keith was talking and
nodding, and pointing to the slimy pool at his feet, while
the round little bundle seemed all attention; and I could
easily imagine what an important confab was taking place
regarding future frogs and pollywogs and turtles and the
like. I understood at once the cause of my nephew's mys-
terious absence a half-hour ago. Though he had thought
of nothing else all day, and longed for the hour when his
new companions should arrive, at the very last moment his
courage had forsaken him, and in a fit of shyness he had
rushed off to the bushes which skirted the frog-pond, where
he could spy at, but could not, as he thought, be spied by
the strangers. But a pair of sharp eyes had seen him there;
and, as has been said, their owner had decided to make ac-
quaintance then and there with at least one member of his
new home.
In a few moments we saw the two wending their way
up the lane, chatting together as if they had always known
each other; and soon Keith appeared in the parlor with his
new friend at his side.
What a funny figure it was When I had kissed the
round, rosy face, and had drawn him to the fire, and taken
off his overcoat, it seemed to me that I had nothing more








THE BOYS OF CLOVER NOOK.


nor less before me than one of the little brownies that
Palmer Cox pictures so delightfully. He was very short
in stature for a boy of eight, not looking older than a
child of six. Boys of his size were at that time usually
dressed in kilts; but he had on a little brown jacket, but-
toned tightly round his very plump body, and supplemented
by a pair of knee-pants about the length of my hand, I
should think. They could not well be longer; for, like the
brownies, his large head and fat little body were supported
by short, small legs, and the very tiniest of feet. I learned
afterward that it was by his own will and pleasure that he was
dressed in this fashion. He would not wear skirts, like a girl,
lie said; and when lie was naughty, so his father told us, a
threat to return to kilts would bring him to terms at once.
Whenever I think of Walter's face, I think also of a
round, rosy apple. If you were to take a very bright, red-
cheeked apple and put a pair of shining black eyes in it,
some soft and fine, but straight black locks of hair on either
side, and adorn it with a round, rosy little mouth filled with
beautiful pearls of teeth, and give it no nose at all, to speak
of, that would be Walter Pembroke. It must be a particu-
larly shiny, jolly-looking apple, too, else the resemblance
would cease; for this little brownie possessed the merriest,
most roguish face I had ever seen.
Well, I sat down with this small person on my lap, eager
to begin acquaintance at once; but in a moment he sang out,
" Oh! my toe is froze; my toe is froze !" Then, wriggling
himself out of my arms, he dropped down upon the floor
and unbuttoned his shoe, pulled off his stocking, wriggled







HAROLD AND WALTER COME TO CLOVERNOOK.


back into my lap again before you could say Jack Robin-
son," and held out his little red foot to the blaze. No shy-
ness here, I thought. His father glanced up from his talk
at the other end of the hearth to say, with some severity,
"Walter, what are you doing?" I'm a-warn-ing my toes,
and cuddling up to this lady," he answered, as he put his arm
as far as he could round my waist, and pressed his head close
to me, and looked up in my face with a merry smile. Dear
little fellow! how pleased I was! So now I was at ease. I
knew I should love both my new boys, though I realized
that it might take some time to win Harold's affection. He
was evidently of a different mould.
In fact, it was very little I saw of Harold while his father
remained. The two were together, quietly talking, most of
the time. I perceived that the boy was very fond of his
father, and I dreaded their parting. But when it came, two
days later, he bore it much better than I expected. He had
evidently made up his mind to be brave and manly about it;
and though he was very quiet for several days, and seemed
inclined to sit apart, he did not give way to grief. Soon he
learned to join, though rather shyly at first, in the merry
talks at table, and the games and "good times" which
were already a feature of the Clovernook evenings. Besides,
he found out, almost at once, that there was a large work-
shop in the back part of the carriage-house, where were all
sorts of carpenter's tools and a bench; and when he was
told that he might make use of them, he seemed to brighten
into quite another Harold. He spent long hours there,
whittling and planing and sawing, and "inventing" things.







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


When it was too cold for him to remain there, I gave him
free permission to have his tools up in the attic. Many
were the marvels of mechanical skill, at least in my eyes,
that from time to time he would bring down to show me.
It seemed to me that the boy was a born inventor, and I
looked for great things from him some day. He was also
fond of drawing; and when he would bring specimens of his
skill in this direction to his Aunt Rachel (for both he and
his brother called me by this title), then she would think,
" Surely the child must make an artist."
But, whatever he might choose for his life-work, Harold
was certainly an unusual boy. A boy of great and varied
talents; in fact, the very brightest lad we had ever known.
As I grew to know him better, I found he had a loving
heart; and when he had learned, for the time being at least,
to look upon Clovernook as his home and its people as his
own, then he seemed to take us all into that heart, and make
us happy by his warm affection.
As for Walter, the moment he had set his little cold
feet on the soil of Clovernook he was at home. I was his
mother and Uncle John was his father to all intents and pur-
poses; and Keith was another brother, to quarrel and "make
up" and quarrel with again, as thoroughly as two brothers
ever did. They were together from morning till night,
and before Walter had been there a week the whole place
seemed as well known to one boy as to the other. What
good times the two had together! For it turned out that
Walter, or "Brownie" as I had taken to calling him,- and
soon the whole household did the same, -it turned out, I







HAROLD AND WALTER COME TO CLOVERNOOK.


say, that he was just such another boy as Keith. It was
amazing to see how soon he began to develop a taste for
natural history; how eagerly he sought Uncle John morning,
noon, and night; how earnestly he listened to his long
explanations of all the curious things the inquisitive little
brain was never tired of asking about. So now, instead of
the two heads together as of old, there were three; Keith
leaning against his uncle's side, and Brownie often on his
knee. The two boys thoroughly explored the fields and
woods, though it was winter and there was not much to be
seen; but there was all the more time to plan out the good
times they would have, and the wonderful specimens they
would find, when spring should come.
Meanwhile, there were all the pets about the house and
barn, so that they were never at a loss for something to do.
Both Harold .and Walter looked with delighted surprise on
all the different animals that had their habitation within
the Clovernook precincts. It was not only the rarer pets
that excited their curiosity. They had always lived in a city,
and knew little of any domestic animals; so to them the
bossies and little pigs, and even the ducks and hens, were as
curious in their way as were Sandy and Scops.
Indeed, a certain flock of ducklings seemed to afford them
more amusement than any of the others. These young
creatures followed a leader whom Keith had named "Waving
Toe-nail," from the fact that in making its exit from the
shell it had experienced unwonted difficulty, and had only
succeeded in getting one little web-foot out, which it waved
about wildly in the air, till Keith, who had seen its predica-







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


ment, lent a timely assistance by breaking the shell so that
it was able to get out. The little drake had rewarded this
favor by living and growing into the largest and finest of
the brood, and Keith was quite proud of it in
S.consequence. It was easy to distinguish it
'.-> from its brothers and sisters, because it pos-
sessed the one solitary black feather in the
whole flock.
S,,,/. Whenever a stormy day came, these
poor little ducks appeared to be the most
'r miserable creatures in the world. Follow-
ing their leader, Captain Toe-nail," they
would range themselves against the side
^ of the barn, and there stand in all sorts
of awkward and comical positions. Heads
down; wings
^drooping; feath-
; Yers bedraggled;
*v apparently vic-
tims of
-." < the
-' f deepest
and most
A- onte hopeless despair. It was
A raid on the d clings. impossible to help laughing
at them; and the children
would shout with merriment as they watched their absurd
attitudes, each one more ridiculous than the last. But in
sunshiny weather all this was changed; then the ducks roamed







HAROLD AND WALTER COME TO CLOVERNOOK.


about, happy and contented, even if it were November, clack-
ing softly to each other as they clustered round their captain,
and settled down for a good chat on the south corner of the
terrace, where the sun could keep them warm. And here my
young heroes would suddenly swoop down upon them with a
rush and a jump; and the poor little creatures would start
up in wild alarm, and waddle off in single file after their
captain, clacking and expostulating indignantly as they went.
This, too, was great fun for these three naughty boys.
But in the stormy, bad days of a New England winter,
how was it with the boys then? Oh, then there was the
old attic to explore, with its chests and trunks and boxes,
nearly as ancient as the house itself. Many wonderful things
came out of that attic. There Harold was in his very ele-
ment. He could dress himself and the others as warriors,
as wild Indians, as sailors, as Hottentots, or Esquimaux if
he liked. What was lacking in the way of costumes, he
could supply with his nimble fingers and his fertile brain.
Sometimes they came trooping down-stairs to display them-
selves before an admiring audience of one, their Aunt
Rachel, -as soldiers, with tall plumes, composed of many
little feathers in red and white and blue, the relics of old-
time "general training" days, fastened to newly made caps
of their own invention, and real epaulets on their shoul-
ders; things which belonged to my own ancestors in days
of old. Another day they would appear as Robinson Crusoe
with two Man Fridays," one very round and rosy and
fat! Sometimes they were gypsys, and sometimes bandits,
with dangerous looking weapons manufactured by the bandits







58 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

themselves out of bits of pine from the workshop. But, what-
ever they were, Harold was always the commander-in-chief
and the originator of everything; for Harold dearly loved
to be the head of every undertaking. It was as natural for
him to lead and for the others to follow, as for the morning
to follow the night.
Thus the days flew by. There were no lessons as yet. It
was to be holiday time until after Christmas. But Christmas
was near at hand, and we were to do great things then.







CHRISTMAS GIFTS.


CHAPTER V.

CHRISTMAS GIFTS.

,--ONE morning, about ten days before Christmas, I stood at
my pantry window making pies, when I heard voices in
angry discussion outside. I raised the window slightly to
quell the disturbance, when these words reached my ears,
"I will be Santa Claus myself!" It was the voice of
Brownie, raised in loud and stern defiance. I glanced out
cautiously. The three boys stood there, Brownie with his
fist clinched, glaring at Harold, who was scowling and glar-
ing in turn at his brother. Keith seemed to be neutral in
the quarrel as yet, though it probably would not be for long.
"I tell you I will," said Brownie.
"Yes; that's always the way," said Harold with bitter-
ness. "I never got up anything yet that you didn't poke your
nose in and spoil it" all. Just as I had got it planned out
too! I tell you, you sha'n't do it; I'll be Santa Claus, or
I'll know the reason why. Come along, Keith."
Here Brownie began to cry, and stamped his little foot.
"I shall go to Aunt Rachel and ask her if I mayn't be
Santa Claus," said he.
"Yes; when we don't want her to know a thing about it.
That would be a pretty thing to do."
I now discovered that I was hearing secrets, and con-







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


clouded it was time to make myself known. What is the
matter, boys ? What are you quarrelling about ?" I asked,
opening the window a little wider, and putting out my head.
The boys gave a guilty start. Oh, nothing, Aunt
Rachel; just talking. Come on, boys," said Harold; and he
grabbed hold of Brownie's arm, and dragged him along with
him around the corner of the house, for fear of the young
rebel turning traitor and revealing state secrets, I supposed.
This opened my eyes considerably, and quite spoiled my
own plans. Brownie was so small, I imagined he would
still hold firm his child's faith in good old Santa, and I
had meant to caution the other boys not to destroy this
faith; for I have always thought it a wise and pleasant fic-
tion, to be retained as long as possible. But if the child not
only knew all about the merry old gentleman, but was even
ready to do battle for the privilege of himself personating
him, it was quite time for me to give up all idea of hanging
up stockings, or sending David to hunt for a suitable young
hemlock for a Christmas-tree, or anything of that sort. I
beard the children come in and creep softly up to the attic,
where I had no doubt they intended to continue, undisturbed,
the weighty argument as to who should and who should not
' be Santa Claus on the approaching Christmas Eve. I knew
well enough how it would end. When Brownie really set
out" to have his own way, as the country people say, he
usually got it. Harold was very masterful; he wished to be
head and front of everything; but at the same time he was
so fond of his brother, and so tender with him, that he
could not bear the sight of the little fellow in tears. Brownie







CHRISTMAS GIFTS.


well knew that if he could induce a few judicious drops to
trickle down his face, they generally brought him what he
wanted.
The brothers quarrelled a good deal, but it never amounted
to anything more than words. They were very fond of each
other, and Harold especially would do anything in his power
for his brother; but, though he liked to scold him himself,
it would not have been safe for any other boy to do it.
After this little episode, a great deal of time was spent in
the attic every day by the three boys. There would be long
hours when everything was as silent up there as the grave;
then suddenly would come shouts of laughter that I could
hear even in the kitchen.
"What do you suppose those children can be doing up-
stairs, John ? said I.
"They are probably engaged in raising 'Old Ned' as
usual," said John. He was not feeling very kindly disposed
just then; for, a few moments before, he had discovered the
third pane of glass broken within the week in one of his
new henhouse windows.
"Perhaps the boys didn't do it," said I.
"I don't think anything with two wings or four legs
ever threw those stones," returned my husband with great
scorn. And no doubt our boys were something of a trial
in some ways; but they were a rich blessing for all that.
As Christmas time drew rapidly nearer, I observed that
Harold seemed thoughtful, and even at times almost unhappy.
What could it be ? He said nothing, and I hoped it would
pass away. But finally one day Brownie burst out with, "I







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


think my daddy will be the meanest man if he doesn't send
that box "-
"Shut up, Wat! roared Harold; "don't you speak
about my father like that."
I soon found out now what the trouble was. Their
father had promised Harold that he would send them from
Germany a box full of fine presents, and it had not arrived.
Both the boys were afraid their father had forgotten it.
Harold was too loving and loyal to his father to blame him,
even in his thoughts, for his seeming negligence; but Brownie
scrupled not to grumble openly about it. I thought it
strange, myself, that nothing had as yet made its appear-
ance; and it was a little singular, also, that their Uncle
Pembroke had betrayed no sign of remembrance of the now
quickly approaching holiday. He had visited the children
several times, but he was a man wholly engrossed in his
profession, and cared little for children; in fact, he probably
forgot, a good deal oftener than he remembered it, that he
had two bright young nephews living near him. He was
kind to the boys, and they liked him very well, but they
seldom saw him. However, it did seem that he ought to be
able to recall them to his mind at Christmas time.
This failure on the part of the boys' relatives was quite
an embarrassment to us also; for, in spite of the generous
addition to our income through Mr. Pembroke, our finances
were in a state which appeared to be ever growing worse
instead of better. No matter what we did, it seemed, at this
period of our lives, we were doomed to failure. It would
have been hard in any event to feel so straitened in







CHRISTMAS GIFTS.


means at the happy Christmas-tide, but it became doubly so
if our gifts were to be the only ones our dear boys were to
receive. I own that in the quiet recesses of my own mind
I gave some bitter thoughts to a father and uncle who could
seem so indifferent to such deserving children.
However, I determined to make the best of matters, and
give the boys as happy a Christmas as I could. I made
ready the plain little presents which were all that John and
I could afford, taking a day for it in the neighboring
town, and coming home in the twilight laden with boxes and
bundles. Needless to say, I was met at the door with eager
offers of assistance from three pairs of hands, while three
pairs of eyes closely investigated the outside of every pack-
age. Some delicate questions were asked respecting my
shopping; but I cruelly refused to gratify all curiosity, and
took myself off with my purchases to a safe hiding-place I
had in mind up-stairs in the south-west chamber. The boys
spent a happy evening, feeling that Uncle John and Aunt
Rachel, at least, had not forgotten them.
Of course the Christmas dinner had been ordered a long
time before. Each boy, if Aunt Rachel could encompass it,
was to have the dish he liked best of all. Brownie de-
manded mince-pie, and lots of it; Harold chose Bavarian
cream; while Keith could think of nothing he wished for
more than roast turkey. "Roast turkey with oyster stuffing,
and all I want of it, Aunt Rachel; remember, all I -want."
Aunt Rachel promised, though perhaps in the last in-
stance she was somewhat rash; for Keith was a boy of most
singular capacity in the matter of roast turkey, and, so far







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


as was known, had never yet reached the point where it
could be said that he had all he wanted.
The mysterious meetings in the attic still continued; and
an unwonted quiet reigned for the most part throughout
the house, varied by an occasional burst of merriment. The
boys were still a little unhappy when they thought of the
missing box, but had evidently made up their minds to have
a good time without it. Their usual weekly letter had come
from their father, but he had said nothing about the box.
On the day before Christmas, while the children were all
in the attic, I heard the sound of sleigh-bells. It was Dr.
Pembroke, who came in looking about him in a mysterious
manner.
"Where are the young folks?" he asked.
"They are all up in the attic, plotting secrets for to-
morrow night," I replied.
Then I am safe," he said; and came into the room.
"Do you know, I have had so much to do lately I have
forgotten all about the rogues. Their father sent them a
week ago, in my care, a box big enough to put all three
boys into; I came within one of forgetting it entirely. I
have added another on my own account," he continued, not
quite so big as the other. I want the little chaps to have a
jolly good time. What shall we do with 'em ?"
I was pleased and relieved, you may be sure. At once
it flashed into my mind, "Now I will have my secrets too.
I will keep these things till to-morrow night, and then take
the children utterly by surprise." But what to do with
them in the meantime, I hardly knew. There was only one







CHRISTMAS GIFTS.


place where the boys might not find them, and that was in
the hayloft. So I called to David, and had him put them
there as quickly as he could. Fortunately the whole thing


"Now, Auntie Ray, isn't there any one else? asked Harold.


was done, and Dr. Pembroke was out of the house, before
the boys came down-stairs.
The next morning Harold came out into the kitchen,
and said to me, -







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


"I suppose, Auntie Ray, you are going to give Uncle
John a present to-night ?"
Oh, yes," I answered; I always give him some little
thing."
And he will give you one too, won't he?"
Probably; that is, if he doesn't happen to forget all
about it."
"And were you thinking of giving anything to anybody
else ?"
Oh, yes; I thought I would give something to David."
Anybody else?" in a wheedling fashion.
Well, Patrick and Hannah, having just come from the
old country, must feel lonely and homesick at Christmas-
time, so I thought I would make them some little gift."
Now, Auntie Ray, isn't there any one else ?"
"Well, there are three noisy boys about the house; I
thought of giving them some little trifle,- such as a tooth-
brush, or pen and ink, or something of that sort." (This I
said, because all three of these young gentlemen heartily
hated to brush their teeth and to write letters.)
"Now, Auntie Ray, you can't be so mean as that," said
Harold, getting his arm round my neck. "Say, Auntie, I
want you to let me have those things you put up-stairs in
that closet" -
"Oh, you bad boys!" I exclaimed; "have you been peep-
ing -
"No, no; we didn't look at a single thing. Of course
we hunted round till we found where they were. You just
label 'em with the right names, everything you've got







CHRISTMAS GIFTS.


for everybody, -I promise we won't look at a single thing.
We just want to have some fun to-night."
"Well," said I, "you may. I want you to have a good
time in your own way. Only remember, my dear, you must
not expect much from Uncle John and me; for you know
our purse is very lean this year."
"I know, Auntie Ray. Don't feel bad; perhaps it will
be fatter some day- as fat as you are, maybe." And the
naughty boy gave me a hug and a hearty kiss, and ran
away, laughing. For I believe I have never happened to say
that I am a very roly-poly sort of little woman, and both my
husband and my boys were always making jokes at my expense.
That evening the children disappeared immediately after
supper. I told David, and also Patrick and Hannah, the
Irish brother and sister who had been with us but a few
days, to come into the sitting-room after their work was
done, because the children were to have some merry game,
and wished them to share it; so, with John and myself seated
round the evening lamp, we were quite a snug little party.
Pretty soon we heard a good deal of clatter on the stairs
and in the hall; then the front door closed and all was
silent. In about ten minutes one of the windows opening
on the porch was raised, and suddenly a small figure,
evidently intended to represent Santa Claus, appeared. It
was only for a moment, however; for the unseen hands
without had given him too hearty a "boost," and, unable to
obtain a foothold on the window-sill, he now came crashing
and tumbling half-way into the middle of the room, and
landed at our very feet.







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


Poor rueful little Santa Claus! This was indeed quite a
new and startling method of entrance. We might have looked
for him to come down the chimney, but never to see him
sprawling at our feet with his pack of good things scattered
all over the floor.
No sooner had this mishap occurred than the voice of
Harold was heard without, loud and bitter.
"There I knew he'd do something! I knew he'd spoil
it all! He would be it. Come out here, Wat!"
The poor little Santa Claus had meantime picked himself
up, and seemed very strongly inclined to lift up his voice
and weep; but I rushed over to him, and whispered in his
ear to go out and do it all over again; and then I put his
bundles into his pack, and hurried him out of the front door
as quickly as possible, and sat down to wait; none of us dar-
ing even to smile, for fear Harold might feel it through the
walls.
After the lapse of a few minutes, the window flew up
again, and Santa appeared once more-this time with more
success. He stood for a moment on the sill, bowing and
smiling, and then lightly bounded to the floor. Before we
could see what he looked like, another very quaint little per-
sonage, apparently of the fair sex, appeared in the window;
and she also, with a bow and a smile, descended to the
floor as gracefully as she could. She was followed by a
sterner looking being, clad apparently in the skins of wild
animals. He, too, jumped from the window-sill, and pro-
ceeded to lay upon the table a very large card bearing this
inscription: -







CHRISTMAS GIFTS.


We all took a look at these queer little people; John
taking off his glasses to scrutinize them more closely. And
very comical figures they were. I must say that never have
I seen, either in real life or in book, a more perfect repre-
sentation of the approved idea of this patron saint of children
- on a miniature scale of course.
He had on a shaggy fur cloak which descended nearly to
his feet; on his head he wore a large fur cap, from which
depended long gray locks of hair made of tow; a heavy
beard of the same material reached half-way to his knees;
and a very fierce mustache stuck out on either side of the
rosy mouth. Little could be seen of Santa's face except two
very red cheeks and a pair of the merriest black eyes. I
suppose one of the parlor sofa-pillows had helped to make
" the little round belly; and every minute or two he took
the greatest pains to make it shake like a bowl full of
jelly," "by going through a vast deal of pantomimic laughter.
He spoke no word, but motioned in a lordly way to his
servant to remove his pack from his shoulders. Meanwhile
Santa's wife stood nodding and smiling very benignly on us.


dkd'







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


She, too, was queerly gotten up. A red petticoat, with a good
deal of black fur about it, and a bright blue jacket bordered
with fur, formed the principal part of her dress. On her
head was an old-fashioned poke bonnet, stuck all over with
roses and poppies and other gay flowers. It was quite a
marvel of art, and had been manufactured by three little
"man milliners out of certain attic scraps."
Her hair of gray tow was neatly plastered down on either
side of her face, and really made such a disguise, that, if it
had not been for the merry twinkle in the blue eyes, it would
have been hard for me to recognize my Keith. She carried
an immense shaggy black muff, and took great pains to dis-
play her feet encased in a really pretty pair of Indian moc-
casons, heavily ornamented with beads. Altogether she made
a charming Mrs. Santa Claus, although it seemed a pity
that she should be a head and shoulders taller than her
liege lord; but this, under the circumstances, could not be
avoided.
As for the servant, his dress was naturally not on so
elaborate a scale, but was quite appropriate, nevertheless. It
had evidently been closely copied from a picture of an
Esquimau, and consisted of the remains of some old fur
greatcoat, fastened about with a cord, a sort of hood of the
same fur, and some kind of nondescript foot-gear. Harold's
dark-eyed, rosy face, adorned by long straggly black locks of
something that was amazingly like horse-hair, peered forth
from his hood, and looked very fierce, as he proceeded to
unstrap his master's pack, and place it on the floor.
None of the three said a word; but Santa, as his servant







CHRISTMAS GIFTS.


handed him each package, would walk up to the person for
whom it was intended, and deposit it in his or her lap, with
a great flourish and a low bow, occasionally varying the per-
formance by "laying his finger aside of his nose," and giving
us a very roguish glance in the most approved Santa Claus
fashion. Whenever he came to a bundle that belonged to
himself or his wife or servant, he placed it on one of three
chairs which served to represent these persons for the time
being. I observed bits of different bright-colored yarn at-
tached to the gifts, and at once comprehended that they were
placed there to enable Santa, who could not read writing, to
distribute them correctly.
Well, it passed off very nicely, and we enjoyed it so
much it really seemed a pity the boys could not have had
a larger audience. Of course everybody, from John down to
the two strangers from Ireland, had some gifts. I have quite
forgotten, at this distance of time, what they all were; but I
distinctly remember the "funny presents," as the boys called
them, over which they had spent so many happy hours, and
had so many good laughs up in the old attic. My husband
was presented with a very astonishing pair of slippers, con-
sisting of some gayly striped cloth pasted over a pair of old
real slippers, and adorned with a large red rose on each toe.
I myself became the surprised possessor of a very large
paper fan covered all over with ridiculous little pictures
painted in water colors. Hannah's "funny present" was a
bracelet made of pumpkin-seeds strung on wire, and David
and Patrick each received a home-made "jumping-jack of
extremely horrifying appearance.







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


Of course I used my fan constantly through the evening,
John put on his slippers, and we all prepared to have a
merry time. There were plenty of apples and nuts and
candy; the children took off their lendinggs" casting them
about anywhere and everywhere, after the manner of chil-
dren, and sat down to examine their gifts. Brownie, how-
ever, could not be prevailed upon to remove his wig and
beard, and looked even funnier without the coat and cap
than he did before. We were all enjoying ourselves, I say,
when there came a loud jingling of sleigh-bells, a thumping
and stamping, and finally a violent knocking at the front
door. John went to open it, and immediately there walked
in- the real Santa Claus, it appeared, this time.
In he came, enveloped in a fur overcoat and a shaggy
cap, which covered his head and face, so that all we could
see was a pair of twinkling gray eyes and a white beard.
He said not a word, of course, but gave us a merry nod or
two, and proceeded to deposit a big box in the centre of the
room. You should have seen the children stare. In fact,
they seemed actually awe-stricken; and Keith, who was al-
ways a timid boy, came softly behind me and took hold of
my skirts, while Brownie got himself into my lap, and
peeped from round my shoulder. From his face, I saw that
he thought that, after all, he must have made a mistake
about there being no such thing as Santa Claus.
But Santa did not wait to be investigated at all. Hav-
ing placed his box on the floor, he left the room with a
great deal of bustle. We heard the front door slam; but in
a minute he was back again, and put down another great














































































" In he came, enveloped in a fur overcoat."


__I I







CHRISTMAS GIFTS.


box by the side of the first, the children gazing in open-
eyed amazement. Then he gave a long sigh of satisfaction,
as who should say, "A good job done," slapped his portly
stomach, and beamed upon us all most merrily. In so do-
ing, he caught a glimpse of Master Brownie, now standing
beside me, still decorated with his remarkable wig and beard.
Santa Claus seemed overcome with amazement himself. He
looked at the little fellow a moment, and then said, "Who
the dickens are you, anyway ? Then, recognizing Brownie,
he burst into a loud "haw haw haw!" and shook his
fat sides.
"Wal," he said, "if this don't beat all my first wives'
relation "
"Oh, oh! It's young Bob! It's young Bob!" cried the
children, rushing up to him, and tearing off his coat and cap,
thereby revealing our nearest neighbor's son Bob, and en-
tirely spoiling all his programme for taking leave; for he had
intended to depart in true Santa Claus style, by wishing,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night;" and, call-
ing Hi Bouncer, Hi Prancer! to his foaming steeds, to
drive off with bells jingling and snow flying; the children
of course were to be left in complete ignorance of his iden-
tity. All this had to be changed. As soon as the boys heard
his singular exclamation, "This beats all my first wives' rela-
lation! the murder was out. No further concealment was
possible. For not only young Bob, but his father before him,
and his father before him, all their lives had been known by
that remarkable saying. It had been handed down from
generation to generation, as a Roman nose is handed down







TIE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


in some families. I never heard of any one else making use
of it; but the Battlefords always did, in any moment of sur-
prise or consternation. Many a time the children had laughed
about it, thinking it peculiarly absurd on young Bob's part,
as he was only nineteen, and had as yet no wife, first,
second, third, or any other, -and could hardly be expected
to know much about the character of her relation," under
the circumstances. Moreover, he always spoke of "first
wives;' and the children wondered if he expected to have
them in sets of two, three, or more.
However, that is a common way of speaking among the
country people. Old Bob and young Bob Battleford were
our nearest neighbors; and young Bob was a great friend
of the boys, and taught them many new pranks, so that
there was always a great deal of fun going on whenever
he was about.
It has taken some time for me to tell all this; but it
took no time at all for the children, having satisfied themselves
as to who Santa Claus really was, to rush to their boxes
and dance about, clamoring to have them opened. So while
Uncle John got hammer and chisel, Aunt Rachel confessed
her share in the plot, and told the boys how their father
had remembered them, and sent the presents in good time,
and how nearly Uncle Pembroke had forgotten about them.
And Harold's face fairly shone with happiness to think that
his father had not forgotten after all; and Brownie, whiskers
and all, performed a sort of clog dance round the boxes,
shouting, "Bully for dad! Bully for dad! "
Soon the cover of one box was wrenched off, and the


I







CHRISTMAS GIFrS.


delighted children were taking out the contents with as much
haste as they dared. I do not believe that they will know
many moments as happy, if they live to be Methuselahs.
There were gifts for everybody Keith sharing with the
others as if he were indeed their brother. I wish I could
tell you all that came out of those two boxes. To begin
with, there were three fine silver watches, to which were
attached beautiful real gold chains, as Brownie took
frequent occasion to announce to everybody. There could not
possibly be anywhere three happier boys than these, when
they had once put on these wonderful timepieces, and
proudly drew them forth from their pockets to inform all
of us of the time of day -or rather, evening. They drew
sighs of satisfaction which seemed to come from their very
boots, and looked, as David said, "a-most too proud to be
spoke to."
There was a dainty little fishing-rod for each boy; there
were two tiny collecting guns for Keith and Brownie.
Harold revelled in the sight of a beautiful box of artist's
materials, with paints, brushes, millboards, canvas, suitable
studies, everything with which to gratify his longing to
venture all by himself into the world of picture-making.
There was also for Harold one of the finest magic lanterns
we had ever seen, with beautiful and interesting views from
many parts of the Old and New World. There was a
music-box for Brownie which must have cost a great deal
of money, and a telescope for Keith which delighted him
beyond measure and his uncle as well. Indeed, on the
spot I heard arrangements quickly made by the two to hold







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


an early interview with Madame Full Moon, at closer range
than they had ever yet dreamed of being able to do.
There was also a fine writing-desk for Harold, which he
admired exceedingly; but at which he "made up a face,"
when I told him that I considered it a very broad hint
from his father that he would like more frequent letters
from his elder son than he had lately been in the habit
of receiving; for, as I have already said, Harold was not
fond of his pen. There was a complete suit of clothing
for each boy, made of beautifully fine material, which, later
on, the three wore every Sunday, with the proud conscious-
ness that they came "all the way from Germany," and
were therefore far better than anything which could be
found in their own land. Time would quite fail me to
tell all the wonderful gifts that came out of those boxes.
There were books, pictures, games, pretty curiosities, dainty
trifles of carved wood, odd little things we would not see
in this country. There was even a lovely brooch for Aunt
Rachel, and an inkstand, very costly and beautiful, for
Uncle John, which pleased him wonderfully.
The children kept uttering shouts of delight as each
new thing was unrolled to view. "The kindest and best
of old fathers and uncles in the world," said Harold, as
he gazed at ,the different articles strewn all over the floor
around him.
And really the whole room was a sight to behold!
What with papers and bundles and fur coats, and Mrs.
Santa's wonderful bonnet, and tools and paint-boxes and rid-
ing-whips, and candy and nutshells and orange-peel, thrown







CHRISTMAS GIFTS.


all about, there was scarcely room anywhere to step. How
could we ever make a clean room of it again? And how
to get these crazy little folks to bed! How could Aunt
Rachel ever do that? But at last, after twelve o'clock, it
was done, and the two black heads and the fair curly one
were on their pillows; but the bright eyes could not shut,
and the nimble tongues wagged on. Aunt Rachel heard
them long after she was in her own bed.
But the last thing they said before she left them, and
when she was going to give them their good-night kiss,
was, 0 Auntie, how happy we are!" "And, Auntie,"
said Harold, you must not think because we made such
a fuss over father's presents that we are not pleased with
yours too. They are all beautiful; and this is the best
of all," he exclaimed, throwing his arms round my neck;
"we have got our own Aunt Rachel; she is the best
and dearest of all our presents." And then Brownie popped
himself out of bed in his little nightgown, and came over
and hugged me too. As for Keith, when I tucked him
in his bed his eyes were shining. "Dear Aunt Rachel, this
has been the happiest day! I do love you so!" and he
kissed me; and I held him close in my arms, and prayed God
to bless him--my dearest boy.







80 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.






CHAPTER VI.

A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING.

IT was the morning after New Year's Day, and the
Clovernook family was assembled at the breakfast-table.
There were three very thoughtful little faces round the
board; indeed, I may say two of a very dejected cast of
countenance: for school was to begin on that morning; and
though Harold, perhaps, was willing, on the whole, to lay
aside the joys of holiday time, and betake himself to his
studies in good earnest, it needed but a glance to show
that both Keith and Walter thought they had fallen upon
hard times indeed, when they had to give up all running
and racing, and sliding and skating; all climbing about the
haylofts and swinging in the barn; all wading through the
deep snows of the woods, and "exploring" for whatever
curious things might be found in the winter time; in fact,
all that made vacation so dear to their hearts to be
cooped up in a schoolroom for the best part of every
day, for five days in the week!
But Uncle John was inexorable.
"Boys," he said, "you know it has been all play-day
thus far, and now we must put on the harness and go to
work in good earnest. All play and no work make Jack
a far duller boy than all work and no play. So brighten







A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING.


up, little sober faces, and come into the three-cornered
room at nine o'clock. I will be ready for you there."
It had been arranged, long before, that Uncle John was
to be the boys' teacher. The little country school was too
far away for them to attend; moreover, it was but a
country school, and we knew they would make better prog-
ress at home; besides, where could they find a kinder,
more faithful or competent teacher than my dear husband.
To be sure, he was now quite deaf; but he would have
the boys gathered closely about him, and whenever there
was any difficulty in hearing there was the convenient
"conversation tube," which he now used habitually, ready
at hand, with one end generally dangling from his coat-
pocket. The boys dubbed it "the snake," and never had
such a useful reptile been known before.
The three-cornered room," which was henceforth to
serve as the schoolroom, was a small apartment off the
dining-room. I cannot imagine what it could have been
built for originally. It filled a little space between the
main part of the house and the long ell at the back; it
had one long, large window, which faced the east lawn,
and was different in shape and size from any other win-
dow in the house, while the sill was so low that one
could step from it to a funny little porch which it had
all to itself. The room was a cosey little place. I had
used it for my own private den, where I could sew or
read or think, or simply be alone; but now it was to be
given up to the worthy cause of education. There was a
faded old crimson carpet on the floor, a Franklin stove







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


with a bright glowing fire stood in the point" of the
room, and we had hung two or three pretty lithographs on
the walls. There was, also, a movable blackboard placed in
the room, and a large globe which had been one of John's
treasures for many years. Not much more was needed be-
yond three stands, with drawers for books, slates, paper,
and the like, at which each little student was to sit. The
boys were not yet old enough to require very much in the
way of school apparatus; but, in one corner of the room,
I had placed Harold's beautiful new writing-desk on a table
with a bright spread upon it, and Keith's telescope stood
conspicuously just above it on a bracket. Altogether, when
nine o'clock came, and I peeped in to take a last look at
the room itself, and at the dear schoolmaster sitting there in
his old faded armchair ready to begin his duties, with
his glasses on his nose and his "snake" peeping from his
pocket, I thought not many children had a brighter little
spot from which to start upon their travels up the rugged
paths to the Temple of Learning, nor a dearer, kinder
master to aid them along the way.
At nine o'clock the boys filed in. A very serious trio!
One might have supposed Keith and Brownie two young
martyrs about to be led to the stake, with such an air of
resigned despair did they approach the door; even Harold
had on his most bored expression, as if he were sure be-
forehand that everything would be "duller than ditch-
water," which was his favorite comparison. But at noon
all three appeared in the kitchen with their faces quite
radiant with delight.






A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING.


Aunt Rachel, we had a splendid time after all," said
Harold; "Uncle John is a tip-top teacher. I've learned a
lot already."
"And so have I," shouted Brownie.
"Oh, you!" said Harold with great contempt; "much
you know! Eight years old, and can't spell cat! K-A-T!
Ho! I'd be ashamed!"
Indeed, it appeared from John's account of the. morning's
work, which I obtained as soon as I could see him alone,
that poor Brownie's education had been greatly neglected.
'The child could hardly read his A-B-C's as yet; and it
seemed almost impossible to keep him still long enough to
look at the letters as they were pointed out to him. He
would stand first on one foot and then on the other; he
would wriggle his little fat body about into all sorts of funny
postures; squint his eyes and make horrible faces, and give
vent to sighs calculated to soften the sternest teacher's heart,
in his attempts to wrestle with the difficulties of his primer.
John had two very painful sessions with the little rogue--
painful to himself, that is; for Brownie had emerged from
both, smiling and triumphant.
"If any one would offer to take that young flutterbudget
off my hands, I would give him up with the most cheerful
alacrity," said my husband.
"But you know I could not possibly take the time from
my household affairs," said I; for of course this was a very
broad hint to me.
"Well, I suppose not," said John; "but I shall probably
be wasted to a mere skeleton by the time spring comes."







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


Oh, no," said I; "the child will soon improve; he has
never yet had such teaching as he is to have this winter.
You will see."
"Humph!" said my husband, who considered this mere
blarney.
"And how did Keith do?" I asked.
None too well. He is only a little less skittish than
Brownie," said poor John. But this was no new thing to
either of us. Keith had always been one of those boys who
love to take in their learning through the ears rather than
through the eyes. He would sit for hours and listen to
things told to him; he would remember them all too; but
he had a strong aversion to keeping his eyes on a book and
getting his knowledge there.
However, Harold had made up for everything. He was
going to be a student whom it would be a pleasure to teach.
He was already quite in advance of the average boy of his
age; and John had found it easy to interest him in his studies
even thus early, as I had just discovered by the child's
happy face and joyful words when he came from the school-
room.
After dinner, all three of the children were quite willing,
and even eager, to return to the schoolroom for the short
afternoon session, from which, at three o'clock, my husband
came out looking tired, but more hopeful than in the morn-
ing. Indeed, the school-days proved, on the whole, very
happy ones. The children were easily interested, and they
loved their teacher. I think each one wished heartily to
please him; though of course it was somewhat difficult at all







A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING.


times for Keith and Brownie to comport themselves entirely
as they should. They resorted to many crafty little devices
for varying the monotony of school-work. A favorite one
was to ask permission to go and sit on the floor, in the
' point" behind the stove, to warm their feet. There, snugly
concealed from John's view, they passed many pleasant mo-
ments, which should have been spent in conning their lessons,
engaged in playing cat's cradle," making pictures on their
slates, cutting up paper, coloring the pictures in their school-
books from the contents of their paint-boxes, and occasionally
painting each other's faces by way of variety. After catch-
ing the little culprits one day, each with a double set of eye-
brows and an extra mouth, to say nothing of a nose of
several rainbow hues, I found it a good plan to take my
sewing and sit in the schoolroom whenever I could find a
spare hour, in order that I might aid in the work of dis-
cipline by keeping a wary eye on our two little mischief-
makers.
Sometimes, on very bright sunshiny days, both Keith and
Brownie would turn themselves into regular little grumblers,
and bewail aloud their hard lot in having to be cooped up in
the house for all the long school-hours, when there was so
much to see and to do out-of-doors. No doubt it was hard;
especially when the keen, frosty air and the bright sunshine
called them forth, or even some of the members of the fam-
ily would come to the window and invite them too. For
often Sandy would step up on the porch, and stalking along
to the schoolroom window would peck upon the glass, and
" peep, peep," in his soft, mournful way, as if he were







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


lonely and wanted to see the boys outside; or old Spot,
who seemed to grow younger instead of older as the years
went by, would boldly lay his paws on the window-sill, and
look in upon them with his face "laughing all over," as
Keith said, and challenge the three to a race; or little Buff
would roll over and over in the snow, which was scarcely
whiter than himself, and seem to beg them to come out and
play with him.
No doubt it was a little hard always to keep one's mind
on tiresome books amid distractions like these; but neverthe-
less, as I said, the school-work upon the whole went mer-
rily on. Harold was putting his whole heart into his
lessons; Keith was improving; and even Brownie came fly-
ing out into the kitchen one happy morning, and pulled
me by the skirts to turn me round, his eyes shining, his
whole face alight, while he fairly shouted with glee, "Auntie
Ray Auntie Ray! I can read without a toothpick !"
Perhaps you may wonder, my young friends, if any one
ever does read with a toothpick; so I will explain that
poor John was accustomed to beguile the weary way up
the Hill of Learning, both for Brownie and himself, by
pointing at each word with a humble toothpick, as the
child painfully and slowly blundered along. Perhaps it had
served as a sort of staff to help them over the road.
However that may have been, Brownie had suddenly and
triumphantly laid it aside; and from that time on he made
such rapid progress that first his shabby, worn-out primer
was thrown away, then followed the first reader, and finally
the second was met and conquered.







A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING.


Of course the Saturdays were never half long enough
now; for all the planning and "inventing," and, I am sorry
to say, all the mischief, that three busy brains could concoct
through the week, had now to be crowded into the one


Harold at his Studies.


day. What sour little faces would appear at the breakfast-
table if the Saturday morning were stormy; until some
game hitherto unthought of would be arranged, and the
busy trio would mount to the attic to spend the whole







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


day if need be. But, on the other hand, what bright
smiles and joyous voices would greet us on the Saturday
mornings when the sun did shine out, when snow and ice
sparkled, when the keen air nipped one's nose, and all things
wooed the boys to rush from their breakfasts as soon as pos-
sible, and hurry forth with skates and sleds, to be no more
seen till the pangs of hunger should drive them home. Then
all three would come flying into the kitchen with the loud
demand, "Oh, when will dinner be ready? We're almost
starved."
On a certain Saturday morning in January all was gloom
among the younger portion of the Clovernook family. It
was raining "just pouring! the boys said. There had been
a delightful snowstorm during the week, which had added to
an already fine bed of snow, and the boys had looked for-
ward to "the best time they'd had yet;" but now it was all
spoilt. Here was the rain, and apparently it had come to
stay; for it continued to rain all day, and was so dark and
dismal that it caused the three boys more unhappiness than
they had known in all the time since Harold and Brownie
had come to Clovernook. However, there was no help for it.
All that day and the next it poured down steadily; then, in
the night, it ceased, and the weather suddenly grew colder.
On Monday morning, when we came from our chambers a
strange thing had happened. It was very cold, but the sun
was shining brightly; and all over the land, on every tree
and twig, on every weed and spear of grass that thrust its
head above the snow, on every bit of moss and lichen that
decked the old oak-trees, on the green needles of the pines,


Y







A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING.


on the dead leaves of the lilac-bush by the kitchen window,
on the eaves of the house and barn, on the window-sills,
- everywhere, were millions upon millions of little icicles
and frozen drops of rain, all sparkling in the sunlight.
Small breakfasts were eaten that morning. What boy
could wait even for the tenderest of beefsteaks or the lightest
of muffins when all that beauty lay before him? On with the
caps and tippets, and out of the house pell-mell, to see
the new earth in its lovely dress of ice and snow! In again
the next minute to make Aunt Rachel come forth to view the
wonderful sight. Aunt Rachel, then, must leave every-
thing within the house to venture down the lane, slipping
and sliding along as best she might, -supported, indeed, by
three willing if not very sturdy knights, -till the great old
oak, "King Arthur," being reached, and a hastily doffed
overcoat spread on the bench beneath it, she was free to sit
down, with a thankful heart that thus far she had escaped
with no broken bones, and could feast her eyes with the de-
lights of this lovely morning.
0 Aunt Rachel! Uncle John will never make us have
school this morning," said Harold, fairly clasping his hands
in entreaty; "he could not be so cruel."
"No school for me," said Brownie, dancing about; "I can't
go to school such weather as this. I'll see Uncle John about
it, right off." And he started away as fast as his little short
legs could carry him, though we did nothing but laugh when
we saw his frantic attempts to keep up on the slippery snow.
His whole progress up the lane was one succession of falling
down and scrambling up again, until Harold said he couldn't







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


tell half the time which were his arms and which were his
legs. For Brownie always used his arms as freely as his legs
in his attempts to run, and now seemed more like a frantic
little windmill than anything else.
Presently he came tumbling back to us. Uncle John
says we may have to-day; and don't you forget it! he cried.
" Bully for Uncle John!"
A shout rose on the frosty air; and you may judge how
hard the snow was, when I tell you that no matter how
high the three boys jumped in the extravagance of their joy,
not a dent could they make in the glittering icy crust be-
neath them.
Now to get Auntie Ray back to the house as quickly as
possible without falling down and breaking her crown;"
and then, ho! for skating! skating! and more skating! all
day long.
That was indeed a blissful holiday. All about the farm,
- on the knolls and in the dells, over the garden and in
the orchards, down in the south pasture and on to the line
of woods beyond, -lay the smooth, unbroken snow, with its
sparkling crust of ice glancing in the sunlight.
It seemed to me that I had a dozen boys that day in-
stead of three ; for into whatever room I went, or from what-
ever window I peeped, there was a young Mercury flying
swiftly away in the distance. I could not understand how
they could be in so many places at once. Did I look up
from my work in the parlor, there were Keith's rosy face
and sunny curls just in front of the window; but if, the
next moment, I stepped into the kitchen on the other side







A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING.


of the house, "on some household care intent," there he
was again, speeding away down in the corner of the field
nearest his irog-pond. It was wonderful to me how human
beings could, without wings, fly over the snow in that man-
ner. But, indeed, the boys had never known such skating
before, and thought it "a hundred times better than any
lake they had ever heard of." They found it such fun to



















-The boys had never known such skating before."


sail swiftly down from the tops of the knolls to the little
hollows, and then, in another second, to come flying up to
the crest of another hill. Probably if they should live to
be old men they will never have such an opportunity again;
for such a conjunction of circumstances could not often come
about, as the heavy body of underlying snow, the thick crust







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


of ice, the clear, cold sunshiny day, and, beyond all, the lovely
surroundings of frosted tree and bush.
It was not only the boys who were having all this good
time to themselves. There were never two such happy dogs
as Spot and Buff on that day. They raced after their young
masters hither and thither, with quick, eager barks, doing
their best to fly after them, yelping with joy whenever they
did catch up with them, and fairly frantic with delight when
a boy might by chance slip unawares, and they could come
rushing up and fall upon his prostrate form to cover his face
with their "dog kisses."
As for Sandy, he seemed not to know what to make
of it all. He was out there, too, you may be very sure.
Wherever anything was going on, Sandy was always on hand.
He could not skate, and he could not fly (because of his poor
clipped wing); but he could run; he could flap his wings
and dance, and he did his very best to follow after the
others. Whenever a skater would suddenly fly up to him
in the course of his wild career, the poor old bird would
become so excited he would actually scream, and would
dance about on the slippery ice in such a crazy way that
more than once he lost his balance, and lay with his legs
and wings sprawling all about till he could be helped up
again. Indeed, when night came, poor Sandy was com-
pletely tired out, and limped home in such a bedraggled
sort of fashion we all thought he looked as if he had
been "out on a spree."
The children were very tired that evening, and proposed,
to go to bed almost immediately after eating their suppers;







A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING.


but while they were having their usual preliminary chat
with Aunt Rachel, and merrily recounting the pleasures of
the day, Uncle John came in from his work in the barn,
and said, "All of you get on your wraps as fast as you can,
and come out-of-doors. If you thought there was a pretty
sight to-day, I wonder what you will say now."
"What is it?" we cried.
"Come out and see," said Uncle John. "Wrap up well,
for it is very cold," he added, proceeding to envelop me
in my thick shawl and hood. "You must come too, Rachel;
perhaps you and I may never see such a night again."
We stepped out upon the porch at once, and what a
wondrous sight met our eyes! If we had thought Nature
had already done all she could for our delight, what could
we say now? It had been so cold that, despite the bright
sunshine through the day, the frozen drops of rain and the
long icicles still clung to everything around us, and the fine
little twigs and leaves and all the wayside weeds were still
enveloped in their icy coats, while beneath our feet the snow
sparkled as brightly as ever. But with what a different
light! In the sunlight, all had shone with a warm yellow
glitter which had been lovely indeed; but now every color of
the rainbow was in their sparkle, and millions of the rarest
gems seemed flashing all about us.
The moon was nearing its full, and was now well up in the
sky, gliding quietly along a cloudless pathway, and gazing
smilingly down on all the loveliness she had created on the
silent earth beneath her. It was utterly still. There was no
wind; not even the smallest branch stirred on the trees.







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


Everything seemed hushed, as if Nature herself were awed
by the unwonted beauty of this night, and by the strange
contrast of the weird shadows of the trees upon the snow
and the flash of radiant jewels in the light. We, too, stood
in silence. Auntie," said Keith by and by, "what makes
it seem so queer? it is not like our world at all." And the
boy stole his hand into mine, and I could feel it tremble;
for Keith was always a little timid.
My dear, it is nothing but the moonlight on the ice,"
said I. "It is the moon which casts this strange light on
everything, and makes it seem a different earth. For my part,
I think we are in Fairyland. We have stepped out of our
own door into Fairyland."
Yes," said Brownie, who always said what any one else
did; this is Fairyland; this is no poky United States in
North America; this is Fairyland; and don't you forget it."
For nothing could awe Brownie very long. "Hurrah for
Fairyland!" said he; and tried to turn a summersault on
the ice; slipping, however, and landing indeed upon his head,
but not in the way he had designed.
Hello, my boy!" said Uncle John, picking him up.
"The fairies don't like so much irreverence on your part.
They will be coming out upon you presently from behind
some of the bushes, with jewelled spears in their hands, and
take you off to one of their glass caves beneath the ground,
if you don't take care."
"Who's afraid?" said Brownie, and he began to whistle with
a very brave air; but I noticed that he cast a rather startled
look around, as if it might be well to keep a sharp eye on things.







A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING.


"Let us walk down the lane a little way," said Uncle
John.
We walked along on the sparkling crust, Keith with his
hand still holding firmly to mine. I really think Keith half
expected to meet some stern being in elfin mould; though
why he should be afraid, I do not know, for I have always
believed that elves were the merriest and kindest of little
folk. We walked down the lane until we came to the path-
way which verged off to the piece of woods on our left. We
entered upon this, and soon we stood where great pines and
beeches were over our heads; small sumachs and blueberry
bushes, mingled with a thick growth of underbrush, were on
every side. Off a little way was an open clearing where the
snow lay as pure and unbroken as when it had first fallen;
and right in the centre stood a vast pine-tree, with all its
branches heavy with the weight of ice and snow, and covered
with nay, it was as if the very skies had rained down
upon it millions of diamonds and emeralds and sapphires
and rubies, while millions more had fallen upon the pure
white carpet beneath it.
"Now watch!" said Uncle John, with a little merry
mischief, though I saw him wink at Harold; "I fully ex-
pect, if we wait long enough, we shall see the Queen of
the Fairies and all her maids of honor, and all the ladies
and gentlemen of her court, come trooping forth, one after
another, from behind those blueberry bushes off to the right.
They will come dancing along, holding their skirts as daintily
as any fine lady, or waving their jewelled swords as airily as
any brave knight; and when they get to the pine-tree, they







THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.


will clasp hands and dance round it, as fairies always do
when they hold their revels. And we will stand here and
watch them. On such a night as this they will surely come,
if they ever do. So let us watch. After they have had
their dance, we can each step up and ask them to grant
us a wish; for you know they are bound to grant us a
wish if we have been able to detect them dancing round
the greenwood-tree."


... -- -- J .--- .














What the boys fully expected to see,

Poor Keith and Brownie looked queer enough at this.
Whether to believe it or not that was the question. But
Uncle John seemed perfectly serious, and stood looking at the
tree with great intentness, evidently determined not to miss
the first fairy's entrance."

"I don't believe I want to stay here," said Keith in a
low tone.







A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING.


"Who's afraid?" said Brownie. "I'm going to see it out."
We all waited, and looked at the "greenwood-tree." I
confess that it did not need a very vivid imagination, under
our present surroundings, to conjure such a scene as my
naughty husband had devised. Why should not the fairies
come forth on such a night, when the very earth itself was
decked in so strange and beauteous a manner that even her
own children could hardly know her. How easy to imagine
innumerable little elves dancing about upon the snow, climb-
ing the bushes in search of jewels, playing "hide-and-seek"
around the stunted mountain-pine, or holding a mimic tour-
nament, with swords and spears and tiny breastplates all
flashing in the moonlight!
As we stood there, gazing intently, we heard a slight
crackling sound; there was a little parting of the branches
among the clump of blueberry bushes at the right, and sud-
denly a fox stood there motionless, but with ears alert. The
next moment he had seen us, and in a trice he had turned
and vanished. The children clutched my skirts more closely
still when we first heard the sound; and I own that, for
one instant, I, too, was startled, as if it were the fairies in-
deed who were parting those bushes, and preparing to spring
out before us to hold their evening revels.
"There!" said Uncle John, "'no use to wait now. The
fairies won't come now."
"Why, Uncle John; that was only a fox!" said Brownie,
quite pitying Uncle John's ignorance.
"Yes; but a fairy fox," Uncle John explained. Of
course, that was one of the 'fairies who had turned himself