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The Baldwin Library
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[See page 34,
S'DIS IEAII'S A FUS-CLASS THING TER WORK OFF BAD
AND OTHER TALES
RUTH McENERY STUART
A GOLDEN WEDDING THE STORY OF BABETTE "
"CARLOTTA'4 INTENDED ETC.
HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
Copyright, 1896, by HARPER & BROTHERS.
All rights reerved.
BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
CARLOTTA'S INTENDED, and Other Tales. Illus-
trated. Post 8vo, Cloth, $1 50.
THE GOLDEN WEDDING, and Other Tales. Illus-
trated. Post 8vo, Cloth, $1 50.
THE STORY OF BABETTE. Illustrated. Post
8vo, Cloth, $1 50.
PUBLISHED BY HARPER & BROTHERS, NEW YORK.
MY DEAR NIECE
LITTLE MISS LEA CALLAWAY
SOLOMON CROW'S CHRISTMAS POCKETS 3
THE TWO TIMS .. .. 23
THE FREYS' CHRISTMAS PARTY. ... .39
LITTLE MOTHER QUACKALINA . 67
OLD EASTER .. . . 91
SAINT IDYL'S LIGHT .. . 111
"BLINK" ... . . 131
DUKE'S CHRISTMAS ... . .. 165
UNCLE EPHE'S ADVICE TO BRER RABBIT .. 193
MAY BE So .... ... ..... 199
"'DIS HEAn'S A FUS CLASS THING TER
WORK OFF BAD TEMPERS WID ". Frontispiece
S'SHE OUGHT TO EAT CANARY-SEED AND
FISH-BONE'"'. . . Facing 46
THE ITALIAN ORGAN-GRINDER ... 62
"THE PROFESSOR NOT ONLY SANG, BUT
DANCED". .... . 64
"THE FARMER'S BOY WAS A HUNTER" 68
"SIR SOOTY HIMSELF ACTUALLY WADDLED
INTO THE FARM-YARD ". .. 74
'I'M GOIN' TO SWAP 'EM' .... "' 76
MADE HER PUT OUT HER 'TONGUE 78
"HER OWN TEN BEAUTIFUL DUCKS WERE
CLOSE ABOUT HER" . 86
OLD EASTER .. . .... 92
" 'YAS, MISSY, I WAS TWENTY-FO' HOND'ED
YEARS OLE, LAS' EASTER SUNDAY '. 94
" 'DE CATS? WHY, HONEY; DEY WELCOME
TO COME AN' GO".... .. . 106
"'KEEP STEP, RABBIT, MAN'"" . 192
" 'WELL, ONE MO' RABBIT FUR DE POT' 194
SOLOMON CROW'S CHRISTMAS POCKETS
SOLOMON CROW'S CHRISTMAS POCKETS
H IS mother named him Solomon because,
when he was a baby, he looked so wise;
and then she called him Crow because
he was so black. True, she got angry when
the boys caught it up, but then it was too late.
They knew more about crows than they did
about Solomon, and the name suited.
His twin-brother, who died when he was a
day old, his mother had called Grundy-just be-
cause, as she said, Solomon an' Grundy b'longs
together in de books."
When the wee black boy began to talk, he
knew himself equally as Solomon or Crow, and
so, when asked his name, he would answer:
" Sol'mon Crow," and Solomon Crow he thence-
Crow was ten years old now, and he was so
very black and polished and thin, and had so
peaked and bright a face, that no one who had
any sense of humor could hear him called Crow
Crow's mother, Tempest, had been a worker
in her better days, but she had grown fatter and
fatter until now she was so lazy and broad that
her chief pleasure seemed to be sitting in her
front door and gossiping with her neighbors
over the fence, or in abusing or praising little
Solomon, according to her mood.
Tempest had never been very honest. When,
in the old days, she had hired out as cook and
carried "her dinner" home at night, the basket
on her arm had usually held enough for her-
self and Crow and a pig and the chickens-with
some to give away. She had not meant Crow to
understand, but the little fellow was wide awake,
and his mother was his pattern.
But this is the boy's story. It seemed best to
tell a little about his mother, so that, if he should
some time do wrong things, we might all, writer
and readers, be patient with him. He had been
poorly taught. If we could not trace our hon-
esty back to our mothers, how many of us would
love the truth ?
Crow's mother loved him very much-she
thought. She would knock down any one who
even blamed him for anything. Indeed, when
things went well, she would sometimes go sound
asleep in the door with her fat arm around him
-very much as the mother-cat beside her lay
half dozing while she licked her baby kitten.
But if Crow was awkward or forgot any-
thing -or didn't bring home money enough
-her abuse was worse than any mother-cat's
One of her worst taunts on such occasions was
about like this : "Well, you is a low-down nig-
ger, I must say. Nobody, to look at you, would
believe you was twin to a angel!"
Or, "How you reckon yo' angel-twin feels ef
he's a-lookin' at you now ?"
Crow had great reverence for his little lost
mate. Indeed, he feared the displeasure of this
other self, who, he believed, watched him from
the skies, quite as much as the anger of God.
Sad to say, the good Lord, whom most children
love as a kind, heavenly Father, was to poor little
Solomon Crow only a terrible, terrible punisher
of wrong, and the little boy trembled at His very
name. He seemed to hear God's anger in the
thunder or the wind; but in the blue sky, the
faithful stars, the opening flowers and singing
birds-in all loving-kindness and friendship-he
never saw a heavenly Father's love.
He knew that some things were right and
others wrong. He knew that it was right to go out
and earn dimes to buy the things needed in the
cabin, but he equally knew it was wrong to get
this money dishonestly. Crow was a very shrewd
little boy, and he made money honestly in a num-
ber of ways that only a wide-awake boy would
When fig season came, in hot summer-time, he
happened to notice that beautiful ripe figs were
drying up on the tip-tops of some great trees in
a neighboring yard, where a stout old gentleman
and his old wife lived alone, and he began to re-
"If I could des git a-holt o' some o' dem fine
sugar figs dat's a-swivelin' up every day on top
o' dem trees, I'd meek a heap o' money peddlin'
'em on de street." And even while he thought
this thought he licked his lips. There were,
no doubt, other attractions about the figs for a
very small boy with a very sweet tooth.
On the next morning after this, Crow rang
the front gate-bell of the yard where the figs
"Want a boy to pick figs on sheers?" That
was all he said to the fat old gentleman who had
stepped around the house in answer to his ring.
Crow's offer was timely.
Old Mr. Cary was red in the face and pant-
ing even yet from reaching up into the mouldy,
damp lower limbs of his fig-trees, trying to
gather a dishful for breakfast.
Come in," he said, mopping his forehead as
"Pick on shares, will you ?"
"Promise never to pick any but the very ripe
"Honest boy ?"
"Turn in, then; but wait a minute."
He stepped aside into the house, returning
presently with two baskets.
"Here," he said, presenting them both.
"These are pretty nearly of a size. Go ahead,
now, and let's see what you can do,"
Needless to say, Crow proved a great success
as fig-picker. The very sugary figs that old Mr.
Cary had panted for and reached for in vain lay
bursting with sweetness on top of both baskets.
The old gentleman and his wife were delighted,
and the boy was quickly engaged to come every
And this was how Crow went into the fig
Crow was a likable boy-" so bright and handy
and nimble "-and the old people soon became
fond of him.
They noticed that he always handed in the
larger of the two baskets, keeping the smaller
for himself. This seemed not only honest, but
And generosity is a winning virtue in the very
needy-as winning as it is common. The very
poor are often great of heart.
But this is not a safe fact upon which to
All God's poor are not educated up to the
point of even small, fine honesties, and the so-
called "generous" are not always "just" or
Poor little Solomon Crow It is a pity to have
to write it, but his weak point was exactly that
he was not quite honest. He wanted to be, just
because his angel-twin might be watching him,
and he was afraid of thunder. But Crow was so
anxious to be "smart" that he had long ago
begun doing "tricky" things. Even the men
working the roads had discovered this. In eating
Crow's "fresh-boiled crawfish" or "shrimps,"
they would often come across one of the left-overs
of yesterday's supply, mixed in with the others;
and a yesterday's shrimp is full of stomach-ache
and indigestion. So that business suffered.
In the fig business the ripe ones sold well;
but when one of Crow's customers offered to buy
all he would bring of green ones for preserving,
Crow began filling his basket with them and dis-
tributing a top layer of ripe ones carefully over
them. His lawful share of the very ripe he also
carried away-in his little bread-basket.
This was all very dishonest, and Crow knew it.
Still he did it many times.
And then-and this shows how one sin leads
to another-and then, one day-oh, Solomon
Crow, I'm ashamed to tell it on you !-one day
he noticed that there were fresh eggs in the
hen-house nests, quite near the fig-trees. Now,
if there was anything Crow liked, it was a fried
egg-two fried eggs. He always said he wanted
two on his plate at once, looking at him like a
pair of round eyes, "an' when dey recognizes me,"
he would say, "den I eats 'em up."
Why not slip a few of these tempting eggs into
the bottom of the basket and cover them up with
ripe figs ?
One day, he did it.
He had stopped at the dining-room door that
day and was handing in the larger basket, as
usual, when old Mr. Cary, who stood there, said,
"No, give us the smaller basket to-day, my
boy. It's our turn to be generous."
He extended his hand as he spoke.
Crow tried to answer, but he could not. His
mouth felt as dry and stiff and hard as a
chip, and he suddenly began to open it wide
and shut it slowly, like a chicken with the
Mr. Cary kept his hand out waiting, but still
Crow stood as if paralyzed, gaping and swallow-
Finally, he began to blink. And then he stam-
I ain't p-p-p-ertic'lar b-b-bout de big basket.
D-d-d-de best figs is in y'all's pickin'-in dis, de
Crow's appearance was conviction itself. With-
out more ado, Mr. Cary grasped his arm firmly
and fairly lifted him into the room.
"Now, set those baskets down." He spoke
The boy obeyed.
"Here empty the larger one on this tray.
That's it. All fine, ripe figs. You've picked
well for us. Now turn the other one out."
At this poor Crow had a sudden relapse of the
dry gapes. His arm fell limp and he looked as
if he might tumble over.
"Turn'em out !" The old gentleman shrieked
in so thunderous a tone that Crow jumped off
his feet, and, seizing the other basket with his
little shaking paws, he emptied it upon the heap
Old Mrs. Cary had come in just in time to see
the eggs roll out of the basket, and for a moment
she and her husband looked at each other. And
then they turned to the boy.
When she spoke her voice was so gentle that
Crow, not understanding, looked quickly into her
"Let me take him into the library, William.
Come, my boy,"
Her tone was so soft, so sorrowful and sympa-
thetic, that Crow felt as he followed her as if,
in the hour of his deepest disgrace, he had found
a friend; and when presently he stood in a great
square room before a high arm-chair, in which a
white-haired old lady sat looking at him over her
gold-rimmed spectacles and talking to him as he
had never been spoken to in all his life before, he
felt as if he were in a great court before a judge
who didn't understand half how very bad little
She asked him a good many questions-some
very searching ones, too-all of which Crow an-
swered as best he could, with his very short
His first feeling had been of pure fright. But
when he found he was not to be abused, not
beaten or sent to jail, he began to wonder.
Little Solomon Crow, ten years old, in a Chris-
tian land, was hearing for the first time in his
life that God loved him-loved him even now in
his sin and disgrace, and wanted him to be good.
He listened with wandering eyes at first, half
expecting the old gentleman, Mr. Cary, to appear
suddenly at the door with a whip or a policeman
with a club. But after a while he kept his eyes
steadily upon the lady's face.
"Has no one ever told you, Solomon"-she
had always called him Solomon, declaring that
Crow was not a fit name for a boy who looked as
he did-it was altogether "too personal "-"has
no one ever told you, Solomon," she said, "that
God loves all His little children, and that you are
one of these children ?"
"No, ma'am," he answered, with difficulty.
And then, as if catching at something that might
give him a little standing, he added, quickly-so
quickly that he stammered again:
B-b-b-but I knowed I was twin to a angel.
I know dat. An' I knows ef my angel twin seen
me steal dem aigs he'll be mightly ap' to tell
Gord to strike me down daid."
Of course he had to explain then about the
"angel twin," and the old lady talked to him
for a long time. And then together they knelt
down. When at last they came out of the li-
brary she held the boy's hand and led him to
"Are you willing to try him again, William ?"
she asked. "He has promised to do better."
Old Mr. Cary cleared his throat and laid down
"Don't deserve it," he began; "dirty little
thief." And then he turned to the boy: "What
have you got on, sir ?"
His voice was really quite terrible.
"N-n-n-nothin'; only but des my b-b-b-briches
an' jacket, an'-an'-an' skin," Crow replied, be-
"How many pockets ?"
"Two," said Crow.
Turn '6m out !"
Crow drew out his little rust-stained pockets,
dropping a few old nails and bits of twine upon
the floor as he did so.
Um-h'm Well, now, I'll tell you. You're
a dirty little thief, as I said before. And I'm go-
ing to treat you as one. If you wear those pockets
hanging out, or rip 'em out, and come in here
before you leave every day dressed just as you
are-pants and jacket and skin-and empty out
your basket for us before you go, until I'm satis-
fied you'll do better, you can come."
The old lady looked at her husband as if she
thought him pretty hard on a very small boy.
But she said nothing.
Crow glanced appealingly at her before an-
swering. And then he said, seizing his pocket:
"Is you got air pair o' scissors, lady ?"
Mrs.Cary wishedher husbandwould relent even
while she brought the scissors, but he only cried:
"Out with 'em !"
"Suppose you cut them out yourself, Sol-
omon," she interposed, kindly, handing him the
scissors. You'll have all this work to do your-
self. We can't make you good."
When, after several awkward efforts, Crow
finally put the coarse little pockets in her hands,
there were tears in her eyes, and she tried to hide
them as she leaned over and gathered up his
treasures-three nails, a string, a broken top, and
a half- eaten chunk of cold corn- bread. As
she handed them to him she said: "And I'll
lay the pockets away for you, Solomon, and
when we see that you are an honest boy I'll sew
them back for you myself."
As she spoke she rose, divided the figs evenly
between the two baskets, and handed one to
If there ever was a serious little black boy on
God's beautiful earth it was little Solomon Crow
as he balanced his basket of figs on his head
that day and went slowly down the garden walk
and out the great front gate.
The next few weeks were not without trial to
the boy. Old Mr. Cary continued very stern,
even following him daily to the banquette, as if
he dare not trust him to go out alone. And
when he closed the iron gate after him he would
say in a tone that was awfully solemn:
Good-mornin', sir !"
That was all.
Little Crow dreaded that walk to the gate
more than all the rest of the ordeal. And yet,
in a way, it gave him courage. He was at least
worth while, and with time and patience he
would win back the lost faith of the friends who
were kind to him even while they could not trust
him. They were, indeed, kind and generous
in many ways, both to him and his unworthy
Fig-time was soon nearly over, and, of course,
Crow expected a dismissal; but it was Mr. Cary
himself who set these fears at rest by propos-
ing to him to come daily to blacken his boots
and to keep the garden-walk in order for regular
"But," he warned him, in closing, "don't
you show your face here with a pocket on you.
If your heavy pants have any in 'em, rip 'em out."
And then he added, severely: "You've been a
very bad boy."
"Yassir," answered Crow, "I know I is. I
been a heap wusser boy'n you knowed I was,
What's that you say, sir ?"
Crow repeated it. And then he added, for
"I picked green figs heap o' days, and kivered
'em up wid ripe ones, an' sol' 'em to a white
'oman far perserves." There was something
desperate in the way he blurted it all out.
"The dickens you did! And what are you
telling me for ?"
He eyed the boy keenly as he put the ques-
At this Crow fairly wailed aloud: "'Caze I
ain't gwine do it no mo'." And throwing his
arms against the door-frame he buried his face
in them, and he sobbed as if his little heart would
For a moment old Mr. Cary seemed to have
lost his voice, and then he said, in a voice quite
new to Crow:
"I don't believe you will, sir-I don't believe
you will." And in a minute he said, still speak-
ing gently: "Come here, boy."
Still weeping aloud, Crow obeyed.
"Tut, tut! No crying!" he began. "Be a
man-be a man. And if you stick to it, before
Christmas comes, we'll see about those pockets,
and you can walk into the new year with your
head up. But look sharp! Good-bye, now!"
For the first time since the boy's fall Mr.
Cary did not follow him to the gate. Maybe
this was the beginning of trust. Slight a thing
as it was, the boy took comfort in it.
At last it was Christmas eve. Crow was on
the back "gallery" putting a final polish on a
pair of boots. He was nearly done, and his
heart was beginning to sink, when the old lady
came and stood near him. There was a very
hopeful twinkle in her eye as she said, presently:
"I wonder what our little shoeblack, who has
been trying so hard to be good, would like to
have for his Christmas gift ?"
But Crow only blinked while he polished the
"Tell me, Solomon," she insisted. "If you
had one wish to-day, what would it be ?"
The boy wriggled nervously. And then he said:
You knows, lady. Needle-an' thrade-an'
-an'-you knows, lady. Pockets."
"Well, pockets it shall be. Come into my
room when you get through."
Old Mrs. Cary sat beside the fire reading as he
went in. Seeing him, she nodded, smiling, tow-
ards the bed, upon which Crow saw a brand-new
suit of clothes-coat, vest, and breeches-all
spread out in a row.
"There, my boy," she said; "there are your
Crow had never in all his life owned a full new
suit of clothes. All his "new" things had been
second-hand, and for a moment he could not
quite believe his eyes; but he went quickly to
the bed and began passing his hands over the
clothes. Then he ventured to take up the vest-
and to turn it over. And now he began to find
"Three pockets in de ves'-two in de pants
-an'-an' fo', no five, no six-six pockets in de
He giggled nervously as he thrust his little
black fingers into one and then another. And
then, suddenly overcome with a sense of the
situation, he turned to Mrs. Cary, and, in a voice
that trembled a little, said:
"Is you sho' you ain't 'feerd to trus' me wid
all deze pockets, lady ?"
It doesn't take a small boy long to slip into a
new suit of clothes. And when a ragged urchin
disappeared behind the head of the great old
"four-poster" to-day, it seemed scarcely a min-
ute before a trig, tailor-made boy strutted out
from the opposite side, hands deep in pockets-
As Solomon Crow strode up and down the
room, radiant with joy, he seemed for the mo-
ment quite unconscious of any one's presence.
But presently he stopped, looked involuntarily
upward a minute, as if he felt himself observed
from above. Then, turning to the old people,
who stood together before the mantel, delight-
edly watching him, he said:
"Bet you my angel twin ain't ashained, ef
he's a-lookin' down on me to-day."
THE TWO TIMES
THE TWO TIMS
A S the moon sent a white beam through the
little square window of old Uncle Tim's
cabin, it formed a long panel of light
upon its smoke-stained wall, bringing into clear
view an old banjo hanging upon a rusty nail.
Nothing else in the small room was clearly
visible. Although it was Christmas eve, there
was no fire upon the broad hearth, and from the
open door came the odor of honeysuckles and
of violets. Winter is often in Louisiana only a
name given by courtesy to the months coming
between autumn and spring, out of respect to the
calendar; and so it was this year.
Sitting in the open doorway, his outline lost
in the deep shadows of the vine, was old Uncle
Tim, while upon the floor at his side lay little
Tim, his grandson. The boy lay so still that in
the dim half-light he seemed a part of the floor
furnishings, which were, in fact, an old cot, two
crippled stools, a saddle, and odds and ends of
broken harness, and bits of rope.
Neither the old man nor the boy had spoken
for a long time, and while they gazed intently at
the old banjo hanging in the panel of light, the
thoughts of both were tinged with sadness. The
grandfather was nearly seventy years old, and
little Tim was but ten; but they were great
chums. The little boy's father had died while
he was too young to remember, leaving little
Tim to a step-mother, who brought him to his
grandfather's home, where he had been ever since,
and the attachment quickly formed between the
two had grown and strengthened with the years.
Old Uncle Tim was very poor, and his little
cabin was small and shabby; and yet neither
hunger nor cold had ever come in an unfriendly
way to visit it. The tall plantation smoke-house
threw a friendly shadow over the tiny hut every
evening just before the sun went down-a shad-
ow that seemed a promise at close of each day
that the poor home should not be forgotten.
Nor was it. Some days the old man washable to
limp into the field and cut a load of cabbages for
the hands, or to prepare seed potatoes for plant-
ing, so that, as he expressed it, "each piece '11
have one eye ter grow wid an' another ter look
on an' see dat everything goes right."
And then Uncle Tim was brimful of a good
many valuable things with which he was very
generous-advice, for instance.
He could advise with wisdom upon any num-
ber of subjects, such as just at what time of the
moon to make soap so that it would "set" well,
how to find a missing shoat, or the right spot to
dig for water.
These were all valuable services; yet cabbages
were not always ready to be cut, potato-planting
was not always in season. Often for weeks not a
hog would stray off. Only once in a decade a
new well was wanted; and as to soap-making, it
could occur only once during each moon at most.
It is true that between times Uncle Tim gave
copious warnings not to make soap, which was
quite a saving of effort and good material.
But whether he was cutting seed potatoes, or
advising, or only playing on his banjo, as he did
incessantly between times, his rations came to
the little cabin with clock-like regularity. They
came just as regularly as old Tim had worked
whem he was young, as regularly as little Tim
would when he should grow up, as it is a pity
daily rations cannot always come to such feeble
ones as, whether in their first or second child-
hood, are able to render only the service of will-
And so we see that the two Tims, as they were
often called, had no great anxieties as to their
living, although they were very poor.
The only thing in the world that the old man
held as a personal possession was his old banjo.
It was the one thing the little boy counted on as
a precious future property. Often, at all hours
of the day or evening, old Tim could be seen sit-
ting before the cabin, his arms around the boy,
who stood between his knees, while, with eyes
closed, he ran his withered fingers over the
strings, picking out the tunes that best recalled
the stories of olden days that he loved to tell
into the little fellow's ear. And sometimes,
holding the banjo steady, he would invite little
Tim to try his tiny hands at picking the strings.
Look out how you snap 'er too sudden!" he
would exclaim if the little fingers moved too
freely. "Look out, I say! Dis ain't none o'
yo' pick-me-up-hit-an'-miss banjos, she ain't!
An' you mus' learn ter treat 'er wid rispec', caze,
when yo' ole gran'dad dies, she gwine be yo'
banjo, an' stan' in his place ter yer !"
And then little Tim, confronted with the aw-
ful prospect of death and inheritance, would take
a long breath, and, blinking his eyes, drop his
hands at his side, saying, "You play 'er gran'-
But having once started to speak, the old man
was seldom brief, and so he would continue:
"It's true dis ole banjo she's living' in a po' nig-
ger cabin wid a ole black master an'a new one
coming' on blacker yit. (You taken dat arter
yo' gran'mammy, honey. She wasn't dis heah
muddy-brown color like I is. She was a heap
purtier and clairer black.) Well, I say, if dis ole
banjo is livin' wid po' ignunt black folks, I wants
you ter know she was born white.
"Don't look at me so cuyus, honey. I know
what I say. I say she was born white. Dat is,
she descended ter me f'om white folks. My
master bought 'er ter learn on when we was
boys-together. An' he took book lessons on 'er
too, an' dat's how come I say she ain't none o'
yo' common pick-up-my-strings-any-which-er-
way banjos. She's been played by note music in
her day, she is, an' she can answer a book note
des as true as any planner a pusson ever listened
at-ef anybody know how ter tackle 'er. Of
Sco'se, ef you des tackle 'er p'omiskyus she ain't
gwine bother 'erse'f ter play 'cordin' ter rule;
"Why, boy, dis heah banjo she's done sere-
naded all de a'stocercy on dis river 'twix' here an'
de English Turn in her day. Yas, she is. An'
all dat expeunce is in 'er breast now; she 'ain't
forgot it, an' ef air pusson dat know all dem ole
book chunes was ter take 'er up an' call fur 'em,
she'd give 'em eve'y one des as true as ever yit.
"An' yer know, baby, I'm a-tellin' you all dis,"
he would say, in closing-"I'm a-tellin' you all
dis caze arter while, when I die, she gwine be yo'
banjo, 'n' I wants you ter know all 'er ins an'
And as he stopped, the little boy would ask,
timidly, "Please, sir, gran'dad, lemme tote 'er
an' hang 'er up. I'll step keerful." And tak-
ing each step with the utmost precision, and
holding the long banjo aloft in his arms as if it
were made of egg-shells, little Tim would climb
the stool and hang the precious thing in its
place against the cabin wall.
Such a conversation had occurred to-day, and
as the lad had taken the banjo from him the old
man had added:
"I wouldn't be s'prised, baby, ef 'fo' another
year passes dat '11 be yo' banjo, caze I feels mighty
weak an' painful some days."
This was in the early evening, several hours
before the scene with which this little story
opens. As night came on and the old man sat
in the doorway, he did not notice that little Tim,
in stretching himself upon the floor, as was his
habit, came nearer than usual-so near, indeed,
that, extending his little foot, he rested it against
his grandfather's body, too lightly to be felt, and
yet sensibly enough to satisfy his own affection-
ate impulse. And so he was lying when the
moon rose and covered the old banjo with its
light. He felt very serious as he gazed upon it,
standing out so distinctly in the dark room.
Some day it would be his; but the dear old
grandfather would not be there, his chair would
be always empty. There would be nobody in
the little cabin but just little Tim and the banjo.
He was too young to think of other changes.
The ownership of the coveted treasure promised
only death and utter loneliness. But presently
the light passed off the wall on to the floor. It
was creeping over to where little Tim lay, but
he did not know it, and after blinking awhile at
long intervals, and moving his foot occasionally
to reassure himself of his grandfather's presence,
he fell suddenly sound asleep.
While these painful thoughts were filling little
Tim's mind the old man had studied the bright
panel on the wall with equal interest-and pain.
By the very nature of things he could not leave
the banjo to the boy and witness his pleasure in
"She's de onlies' thing I got ter leave 'im,
but I does wush 't I could see him git 'er an' be
at his little elbow ter show 'im all 'er ways," he
said, half audibly. "Dis heah way o' leaving'
things ter folks when you die, it soun's awful
high an' mighty, but look ter me like hit's po'
satisfaction some ways. Po' little Tim! Now
what he gwine do anyhow when I draps off ?-
nothin' but step-folks ter take keer of 'im-step-
mammy an' step-daddy an' 'bout a dozen step
brothers an' sisters, an' not even me heah ter
show 'im how ter conduct' 'is banjo. De ve'y
time he need me de mos' ter show 'im her ins
an' outs I won't be nowhars about, an' yit-"
As the old man's thoughts reached this point
a sudden flare of light across the campus showed
that the first bonfire was lighted.
There was to be a big dance to-night in the
open space in front of the sugar-house, and the
lighting of the bonfires surrounding the spot
was the announcement that it was time for every-
body to come. It was Uncle Tim's signal to
take down the banjo and tune up, for there was
no more important instrument in the plantation
string-band than this same old banjo.
As he turned backward to wake little Tim he
hesitated a moment, looking lovingly upon the
little sleeping figure, which the moon now cov-
ered with a white rectangle of light. As his
eyes rested upon the boy's face something, a con-
fused memory of his last waking anxiety per-
haps, brought a slight quiver to his lips, as if he
might cry in his sleep, while he muttered the
Old Uncle Tim had been trying to get himself
to the point of doing something which it was
somehow hard to do, but this tremulous lisping
of his own name settled the question.
Hobbling to his feet, he wended his way as
noiselessly as possible to where the banjo hung,
and, carrying it to the sleeping boy, laid it gen-
tly, with trembling fingers, upon his arm.
Then, first silently regarding him a moment,
he called out, "Week up, Tim, my man! Week
As he spoke, a loud and continuous explosion
of fire-crackers-the opening of active festivities
in the campus-startled the boy quite out of his
He was frightened and dazed for a minute,
and then, seeing the banjo beside him and
his grandfather's face so near, he exclaimed:
"What's all dis, gran'dad ? Whar me ?"
The old man's voice was pretty husky as he
answered: "You right heah wid me, boy, an'
dat banjo, hit's yo' Christmas gif', honey."
Little Tim cast an agonized look upon the old
-man's face, and threw himself into his arms.
"Is you gwine die now, gran'dad ?" he sobbed,
burying his face upon his bosom.
Old. Tim could not find voice at once, but
presently he chuckled, nervously: "Humh!
humh No, boy, I ain't gwine die yit-not till
my time comes, please Gord. But dis heah's
Christmas, honey, an' I thought I'd gi'e you de
ole banjo whiles I was livin', so's I could-so's
you could-so's we could have pleasure out'n 'er
bofe together, yer know, honey. Dat is, f'om
dis time on she's yo' banjo, an' when I wants ter
play on 'er, you can loan 'er ter me."
"An'-an' you-you she' you ain't gwine die,
"I ain't she' o' nothing honey, but I 'ain't got
no notion o' dyin'-not to-night. We gwine ter
de dance now, you an' me, an' I gwine play de
banjo-dat is ef you'll loan 'er ter me, baby."
Tim wanted to laugh, and it seemed sheer con-
trariness for him to cry, but somehow the tears
would come, and the lump in his throat, and try
hard as he might, he couldn't get his head high-
er than his grandfather's coat-sleeve or his arms
from around his waist. He hardly knew why
he still wept, and yet when presently he sobbed,
"But, gran'dad, I'm 'feered you bought die,"
the old man understood.
Certainly, even if he were not going to die
now, giving away the old banjo seemed like a
preparation for death. Was it not, in fact, a
formal confession that he was nearing the end of
his days ? Had not this very feeling made it
hard for him to part with it ? The boy's grief
at the thought touched him deeply, and lifting
the little fellow upon his knee, he said, fondly:
"Don't fret, honey. Don't let Christmas find
you cryin'. I tell you what I say let's do. I
ain't gwine gi'e you de banjo, not yit, caze, des
as you say, I mought die; but I tell you what I
gwine do. I gwine take you in pardners in it
wid me. She ain't mine an' she ain't yoze, and
yit she's bofe of us's. You see, boy? She's ourn!
An' when I wants ter play on 'er I'll play, an'
when you wants 'er, why, you teck 'er-on'y be
a leetle bit keerful at fust, honey."
"An' kin I ca'y 'er behine de cabin, whar you
can't see how I'm a-holdin' 'er, an' play anyway
I choose ?"
Old Tim winced a little at this, but he had
not given grudgingly.
Cert'n'y," he answered. Why not ? Git
up an' play 'er in de middle o' de night ef you
want ter, on'y, of co'se, be keerful how you
reach'er down, so's you won't jolt 'er too sudden.
An' now, boy, hand 'er heah an' lemme talk to
yer a little bit."
When little Tim lifted the banjo from the
floor his face fairly beamed with joy, although
in the darkness no one saw it, for the shaft of
light had passed beyond him now. Handing the
banjo to his grandfather, he slipped naturally
back of it into his accustomed place in his
"Dis heah's a fus'-class thing ter work off bad
tempers wid," the old man began, tightening the
strings as he spoke. "Now ef one o' deze mule
tempers ever take a-holt of yer in de foot, dat
foot 'l be mighty ap' ter do some kickin'; an'
ef it seizes a-holt o' yo' han', dat little fis' 'll be
purty sho ter strike out an' do some damage;
an' ef it jump onter yo' tongue, hit '11 mighty
soon twis' it into sayin' bad language. But ef
you'll teck hol' o' dis ole banjo des as quick as
you feel de badness rise up in you, an' play,
you'll scare de evil temper away so bad it daresn't
come back. Ef it done settled too strong in yo'
tongue, run it off wid a song; an' ef yo' feet's
git a kickin' spell on 'em, dance it off; an' ef
you feel it in yo' ban', des run fur de banjo an'
play de sweetes' chune you know, an' fus' thing
you know all yo' madness '11 be gone.
She 'ain't got no mouf, but she can talk ter
you, all de same; an' she 'ain't got no head, but
she can reason wid you. An' while ter look at
'er she's purty nigh all belly, she don't eat a
crumb. Dey ain't a greedy bone in 'er.
"An' I wants you ter ricollec' dat I done guy
'er to you-dat is, yo' sheer [share] in 'er, caze
she's mine too, you know. I done guv you a
even sheer in 'er, des caze you an' me is gran'-
daddy an' gran'son.
Dis heah way o' dyin' an' leaving' prop'ty, hit
monght suit white folks, but it don't become
our complexioms, some way; an' de mo' I thought
about havin' to die ter give de onlies' gran'son I
got de onlies' prop'ty I got, de miser'bler I got,
tell I couldn't stan' it no mo'."
Little Tim's throat choked up again, and he
rolled his eyes around and swallowed twice be-
fore he answered: "An' I-I was miser'ble too,
gran'dad. I used ter des look at 'er hanging'
'g'inst de wall, an' think about me maybe
playing' 'er, an' you-you not-not nowhar in
sight-an'-an' some days seem like I-I des
"Yas, baby, I know. But now you won't
hate 'er no mo', boy; an' ef you die fus'-some
time, you know, baby, little boys does die-an'
ef you go fus', I'll teck good keer o' yo' sheer in
'er; an' ef I go, you mus' look out fur my sheer.
An' long as we bofe live-well, I'll look out fur
'er voice-keep 'er th'oat strings in order; an'
you see dat she don't git ketched out in bad
company, or in de rain, an' take cold.
"Come on now. Wash yo' little face, and
let's go ter de dance. Gee-man! Lis'n at de
fire-crackers calling' us. Come on. Dat's right.
Pack 'er on yo' shoulder like a man."
And so the two Tims start off to the Christ-
mas festival, young Tim bearing his precious
burden proudly ahead, while the old man follows
slowly behind, chuckling softly.
"Des think how much time I done los', not
takin' 'im in pardners befo', an' he de onlies'
grandson I got !"
While little Tim, walking cautiously so as not
to trip in the uneven path, turns presently and
Gran'dad, I reckon we done walked half de
way, now. I done toted 'er my sheer. Don't
you want me ter tote 'er yo' sheer ?"
And the old man answers,with another chuckle,
"Go on, honey."
THE FREYS' CHRISTMAS PARTY
THE FREYS' CHRISTMAS PARTY
THERE was a great sensation in the old Cop-
penole house three days before Christmas.
The Freys, who lived on the third floor,
were going to give a Christmas dinner party, and
all the other tenants were invited.
Such a thing had never happened before, and,
as Miss Penny told her canary-birds while she
filled their seed-cups, it was "like a clap of thun-
der out of a clear sky."
The Frey family, consisting of a widow and her
brood of half a dozen children, were as poor as
any of the tenants in the old building, for wasn't
the mother earning a scant living as a beginner
in newspaper work ? Didn't the Frey children
do every bit of the house-work, not to mention
little outside industries by which the older ones
earned small incomes ? Didn't Meg send soft
gingerbread to the Christian Woman's Exchange
for sale twice a week, and Ethel find time, with
all her studies, to paint butterflies on Swiss aprons
for fairs or fetes ?
Didn't everybody know that Conrad, now but
thirteen, was a regular solicitor for orders for
Christmas-trees, palmetto palms, and gray moss
from the woods for decorative uses on holiday
The idea of people in such circumstances as
these giving dinner parties It was almost in-
credible; but it was true, for tiny notes of invita-
tion tied with rose-colored ribbons had been fly-
ing over the building all the afternoon. The
Frey twins, Felix and F6lice, both barefoot, had
carried one to each door.
They were written with gold ink on pink pa-
per. A water-colored butterfly was poised in mid-
air somewhere on each one, and at the left lower
end were the mysterious letters "R.S.V.P."
The old Professor who lived in the room next
the Frey kitchen got one, and Miss Penny, who
occupied the room beyond. So did Mademoiselle
Guyosa, who made paper flowers, and the mys-
terious little woman of the last, worst room in
the house-a tiny figure whose face none of her
neighbors had ever seen, but who had given her
name to the baker and milkman as "Mamzelle
And there were others. Madame Coraline,
the fortune-teller, who rented the hall room on
the second floor, was perhaps more surprised at
her invitation than any of the rest. No one ever
asked her anywhere. Even the veiled ladies who
sometimes visited her darkened chamber always
tiptoed up the steps as if they were half ashamed
of going there.
The twins had a time getting her to come to
the door to receive the invitation, and after vain-
ly rapping several times, they had finally brought a
parasol and hammered upon the horseshoe tacked
upon the door, until at last it opened just about
an inch. And then she was invited.
But, indeed, it is time to be telling how the
It had been the habit of the Frey children,
since they could remember, to save up spare coins
all the year for a special fund which they called
The old fashion of spending these small
amounts in presents for one another had long
ago given place to the better one-more in the
Christmas spirit-of using it to brighten the day
for some one less blessed than themselves.
It is true that on the Christmas before the one
of this story they had broken the rule, or only
strained it, perhaps, to buy a little stove for their
But a rule that would not stretch enough to
take in such a home need would be a poor one
This year they had had numerous schemes, but
somehow none had seemed to appeal to the
stockholders in the Christmas firm, and so they
had finally called a meeting on the subject.
It was at this meeting that Meg, fourteen
years old, having taken the floor, said: "Well,
it seems to me that the worst kind of a Christ-
mas must be a lonely one. Just think how
nearly all the roomers in this house spent last
Christmas-most of 'em sitting' by their lone
selves in their rooms, and some of 'em just eating'
every-day things The Professor hadn't a thing
but Bologna sausage and crackers. I know -
'cause I peeped. An' now, whatever you all are
goin' to do with your money, mine's goin' right
into this house, to the roomers-some way."
"If we knew what we could do, Meg ?" said
"If we knew what we could do or how we
could do it," interrupted Conrad, why, I'd give
my eighty-five cents in a minute. I'd give it to
the old Professor to have his curls cut."
Conrad was a true-hearted fellow, but he was
full of mischief.
"Shame on you, Buddy !" said Meg, who was
thoroughly serious. Can't you be in earnest
for just a minute ?"
"I am in earnest, Meg. I think your scheme
is bully-if it could be worked; but the Profess-
or wouldn't take our money any more'n we'd
"Neither would any of them." This was
Ethel's first real objection.
"Who's going' to offer 'em money ?" rejoined
"I tell you what we might do, maybe," Con-
rad suggested, dubiously. "We might buy a lot
of fine grub, an' send it in to 'em sort o' mysteri-
ously. How'd that do ?"
"'Twouldn't do at all," Meg replied. "The
idea Who'd enjoy the finest Christmas dinner
in the world by his lone self, with nothing' but a
lookin'-glass to look into and holler 'Merry
Christmas' to ?"
Conrad laughed. Well, the Professor's little
cracked glass wouldn't be much of a comfort to
a hungry fellow. It gives you two mouths."
Conrad was nothing if not facetious.
"There you are again, Buddy! Do be seri-
ous for once." And then she added, desper-
ately, The thing Iwant to do is to invite'em."
Such was the chorus that greeted Meg's as-
Why, I say," she explained, nothing daunted,
"let's put all our Christmas money together and
get the very best dinner we can, and invite all the
roomers to come and eat it with us. Now I've
said it! And I ain't foolin', either."
"And we haven't a whole table-cloth to our
names, Meg Frey, and you know it !" It was
Ethel who spoke again.
"And what's that got to do with it, Sisty ?
We ain't goin' to eat the cloth. Besides, can't we
set the dish-mats over the holes? 'Twouldn't be
the first time."
"But, Meg, dearie, you surely are not propos-
ing to invite company to dine in the kitchen,
are you ? And who'd cook the dinner, not to
mention buying it ?"
Well, now, listen, Sisty, dear. The dinner
that's in my mind isn't a society-column dinner
like those Momsy writes about, and those we are
going to invite don't wear out much table-linen
at home. And they cook their own dinners,
too, most of 'em-exceptin' when they eat 'em
in the French Market, with a Chinaman on one
side of 'em and an Indian on the other.
"I'm going' to cook ours, and as for eatin' in the
kitchen, why, we don't need to. Just see how
warm it is The frost hasn't even nipped the
banana leaves over there in the square. And
Buddy can pull the table out on the big back
gallery, an' we'll hang papa's old gray soldier
blanket for a portiere to keep the Quinettes
from looking' in; and, Sisty, you can write the
invitations an' paint butterflies on 'em."
Ethel's eyes for the first time sparkled with in-
terest, but she kept silent, and Meg continued :
"An' Buddy'll bring in a lot of gray moss and
latanier to dec'rate with, an'-"
"An' us '11 wait on the table !"
"Yes, us'll wait on the table !" cried the twins.
"But," added Felix in a moment, "you
mus'n't invite Miss Penny, Meg, 'cause if you do
F'lissy an' me '11 be thest shore to disgrace the
party a-laughin'. She looks thest ezzac'ly like
a canary-bird, an' Buddy has tooken her off till
we thest die a-laughin' every time we see her. I
think she's raised canaries till she's a sort o' half-
canary herself. Don't let's invite her, Sisty."
"And don't you think Miss Penny would en-
joy a slice of Christmas turkey as well as the rest
of us, Felix?"
"No; I fink she ought to eat canary-seed and
fish-bone," chirped in Dorothea.
Dorothea was only five, and this from her was
so funny that even Meg laughed.
"An' Buddy says he knows she sleeps perched
on the towel-rack, 'cause they ain't a sign of a
bed in her room."
The three youngest were fairly choking with
laughter now. But the older ones had soon
grown quite serious in consulting about all the
details of the matter, and even making out a con-
ditional list of guests.
When they came to the fortune-teller, both
Ethel and Conrad hesitated, but Meg, true to her
first impulse, had soon put down opposition by a
"It seems to me she's the special one to invite
to a Christmas party like ours," she pleaded.
" The lonesomer an' horrider they are, the more
they belong, an' the more they'll enjoy it, too."
According' to that," said Conrad, "the whole
crowd ought to have a dizzy good time, for they're
about as fine a job lot of lonesomes as I ever
struck. And as for beauty! 'Vell, my y'ung
friends, how you was to-morrow ?'" he contin-
ued, thrusting his thumbs into his armholes and
strutting in imitation of the old Professor.
Meg was almost out of patience. "Do hush,
.",. i',, i ',
0' *..A' 4y. : y j'- '
,:' S f4"/
H I T C E I
"' (SHE OUGIIT TO RAT CANAlY -SEED AND FISIH-BONE"'
Buddy, an' let's talk business. First of all, we
have to put it to vote to see whether we want
to have the party or not."
"I ain't a-goin' to give my money to no such
a ugly ol' party," cried Felix. "I want pretty
little girls with curls an' wreafs on to my party."
"An' me, too. I want a heap o' pretty little
girls with curls an' wreafs on to my party,"
An' I want a organ-grinder to the party that
gets my half o' our picayunes," insisted Felix.
"Yas, us wants a organ-grinder-an' a mon-
key, too-hey, F'lix ?"
Yes, an' a monkey, too. Heap o' monkeys !"
Meg was indeed having a hard time of it.
"You see, Conrad"-the use of that name
meant reproof from Meg-"you see, Conrad,
this all comes from your making' fun of every-
body. But of course we can get an organ-grind-
er if the little ones want him."
Ethel still seemed somewhat doubtful about
the whole affair. Ethel was in the high-school.
She had a lofty bridge to her nose. She was
fifteen, and she never left off her final g's as the
others did. These are, no doubt, some of the
reasons why she was regarded as a sort of superior
person in the family. If it had not been for the
prospect of painting the cards, and a certain feel-
ing of benevolence in the matter, it would have
been hard for her to agree to the party at all.
As it was, her voice had a note of mild protest
as she said:
"It's going to cost a good deal, Meg. How
much money have we ? Let's count up. I have
a dollar and eighty-five cents."
And I've got two dollars," said Meg.
"How is it you always save the most ? I haven't
saved but ninety cents." Conrad spoke with a
little real embarrassment as he laid his little pile
of coins upon the table.
I reckon it's 'cause I've got a regular plan,
Buddy. I save a dime out of every dollar I get
all through the year. It's the best way. And
how much have you ponies got ?"
"We've got seventy cents together, an' we've
been a-whiskerin' in our ears about it, too. We
don't want our money put-ed in the dinner with
the rest. We want to see what we are givin'."
"Well, suppose you buy the fruit. Seventy
cents 'll get bananas and oranges enough for the
An' us wants to buy 'em ourselfs, too-hey,
"Yes, us wants to buy 'm ourselfs, too."
"And so you shall. And now all in favor of
the party hold up their right hands."
All hands went up.
Contr'ry, no !" Meg continued.
"Contr'ry, no !" echoed the twins.
"Hush You mus'n't say that. That's just
what they say at votin's."
Gee-man-tally But you girls' 're awfully
mixed," Conrad howled, with laughter. "They
don't have any contraryy no's' when they vote by
holding' up right hands. Besides, Dorothea held
up her left hand, for I saw her."
"Which is quite correct, Mr. Smartie, since
we all know that Dolly is left-handed. You
meant to vote for the party, didn't you, dearie ?"
Meg added, turning to Dorothea.
For answer the little maid only bobbed her
head, thrusting both hands behind her, as if
afraid to trust them again.
"But I haven't got but thest a nickel," she
ventured, presently. "F'lix says it '11 buy salt."
Salt !" said Conrad. Well, I should smile!
It would buy salt enough to pickle the whole
party. Why, that little St. Johns woman goes
out with a nickel an' lays in provisions. I've
seen her do it."
"Shame on you, Buddy !"
"I'mnot jokin', Meg. At least, I saw her buy
a quartie's worth o' coffee and a quartie's worth o'
sugar, an' then ask for lagniappe o' salt. Ain't
that layin' in provisions ? She uses a cigar-box
for her pantry, too."
"Well," she protested, seriously, "what of it,
Conrad ? It doesn't take much for one very
little person. Now, then, the party is voted for;
but there's one more thing to be done before it
can be really decided. We must ask Momsy's
permission, of course. And that is going' to be
hard, because I don't want her to know about it.
She has to be out reporting' festivals for the paper
clear up to Christmas morning and if she knows
about it, she'll worry over it. So I propose to
ask her to let us give her a Christmas surprise,
and not tell her what it is."
"And we know just what she'll say," Conrad
interrupted; she'll say, If you older children
all agree upon anything, I'm sure it can't be very
far wrong or foolish'--just as she did time we put
up the stove in her room."
"Yes, I can hear her now," said Ethel. "But
still we must let her say it before we do a single
thing, because, you know, she mightn't. An'
then where'd the party be ?"
"It would be scattered around where it was
last Christmas-where all the parties are that
don't be," said Conrad. "They must be the
ones we are always put down for, an' that's how
we get left; eh, Sisty ?"
"Never mind, Buddy; we won't get left, as
you call it, this time, anyway-unless, of course,
Momsy vetoes it."
"Vetoes what, children ?"
They had been so noisy that they had not
heard their mother's step on the creaking
Mrs. Frey carried her pencil and notes, and
she looked tired, but she smiled indulgently as
she repeated, "What am I to veto, dearies-or
to approve ?"
"It's a sequet! A Trismas sequet !"
"Yes, an' it's got owanges in it-"
--An' bananas !"
"Hush, you ponies And, Dolly, not another
word !" Meg had resolutely taken the floor
"Momsy, we've been consulting about our
Christmas money, and we've voted to ask you to
let us do something with it, and not to tell you
a thing about it, only"-and here she glanced
for approval at Ethel and Conrad-"only we
ought to tell you, Momsy, dear, that the surprise
isn't for you this time."
And then Mrs. Frey, sweet mother that she
was, made just the little speech they thought
she would make, and when they had kissed her,
and all, even to Ethel, who seemed now as en-
thusiastic as the others, caught hands and danced
around the dinner table, she was glad she had
It was such a delight to be able to supplement
their scant Christmas prospects with an indul-
gence giving such pleasure.
"And I'm glad it isn't for me, children," she
added, as soon as the hubbub gave her a hearing.
"I'm very glad. You know you strained a point
last year, and I'm sure you did right. My little
stove has been a great comfort. But I am always
certain of just as many home-made presents as I
have children, and they are the ones I value.
Dolly's lamp-lighters are not all used up yet, and
if she were to give me another bundle this Christ-
mas I shouldn't feel sorry. But our little Christ-
mas money we want to send out on some loving
mission. And, by-the-way, I have two dollars
which may go with yours if you need it-if it
will make some poor body's bed softer or his din-
"Momsy's guessed !" Felix clapped his hands
"'Sh Hush, Felix Yes, Momsy, it 'll do
one of those things exactly," said Meg. "And
now I say we'd better break up this meeting be-
fore the ponies tell the whole business."
"F'lix never telled a thing," chirped F6licie,
always ready to defend her mate. "Did you,
F'lixy ? Momsy said 'dinner' herself."
So I did, dear; but who is to get the dinner
and why you are going to send it are things
mother doesn't wish to know. And here are my
two dollars. Now off to bed, the whole trundle-
bed crowd, for I have a lot of copy to write to-
night. Ethel may bring me a bite, and then sit
beside me and write while I sip my tea and dic-
tate and Meg puts the chickens to roost. And
Conrad will keep quiet over his books. Just one
kiss apiece and a hug for Dolly. Shoo now !"
So the party was decided.
The Frey home, although one of the poorest,
was one of the happiest in New Orleans, for it
was made up of cheery workers, even little Doro-
thea having her daily self-assumed tasks. Miss
Dorothea, if you please, dusted the banisters
round the porch every day, straightened the rows
of shoes in mother's closet, folded the daily papers
in the rack, and kept the one rug quite even with
the front of the hearth. And this young lady
had, furthermore, her regular income of five
cents a week.
Of course her one nickel contributed to the
party had been saved only a few hours, but
Dorothea was only five, and the old yellow
praline woman knew about her income, and came
trudging all the way up the stairs each week on
Even after the invitations were sent it seemed
to Dolly that the party-day would never come,
for there were to be "three sleeps" before it
It was Ethel's idea to send the cards early, so
as to forestall any home preparation among the
But all things come to him who waits-even
Christmas. And so at last the great day ar-
Nearly all the invited had accepted, and every-
thing was very exciting; but the situation was
not without its difficulties.
Even though she was out every day, it had
been so hard to keep every tell-tale preparation
out of Mrs. Frey's sight. But when she had
found a pan of crullers on the top pantry shelf,
or heard the muffled "gobble-gobble" of the
turkey shut up in the old flour-barrel, or smelt
invisible bananas and apples, she had been truly
none the wiser, but had only said, "Bless their
generous hearts! They are getting up a fine
dinner to send to somebody."
Indeed, Mrs. Frey never got an inkling of the
whole truth until she tripped up the stairs a
half-hour before dinner on Christmas day to
,find the feast all spread.
The old mahogany table, extended to its
full length, stood gorgeous in decorations of
palmetto, moss, and flowers out upon the deep
back porch, which was converted into a very
pretty chamber by the hanging curtain of gray.
If she had any misgivings about it, she be-
trayed them by no single word or look, but there
were bright red spots upon her usually pale
cheeks as she passed, smiling, into her room to
dash into the dinner dress Ethel had laid out
To have her poverty-stricken home invaded
by a host of strangers was striking a blow at the
most sensitive weakness of this proud woman.
And yet the loving motive which was so plain
through it all, showing the very spirit in her
dear children for which she had prayed, was too
sacred a thing to be chilled by even a half-shade
"And who are coming, dear ?" she asked of
Meg, as soon as she could trust her voice.
All the roomers, Momsy, excepting the little
hunchback lady and Madame Coraline."
Madame Coraline !" Mrs. Frey could not
"Yes, Momsy. She accepted, and she even
came, but she went back just now. She was
dressed terribly fine--gold lace and green silk,
but it was old and dowdy; and, Momsy, her
cheeks were just as red! I was on the step-
ladder tackin' up the Bethlehem picture, Sisty
was standing' on the high-chair hanging up the
star, and Buddy's arms were full of gray moss
that he was wrappin' round your chair. But we
were just as polite to her as we could be, and
asked her to take a seat. And we all thought
she sat down; but she went, Momsy, and no one
saw her go. Buddy says she's a witch. She left
that flower-pot of sweet-basil on the table. I
s'pose she brought it for a present. Do you
think that we'd better send for her to come
back, Momsy ?"
"No, daughter, I think not. No doubt she
had her own reasons for going, and she may
come back. And are the rest all coming ?"
"Yes'm; but we had a time getting' Miss
Guyosa to come. She says she's a First Family,
an' she never mixes. But I told her so were
we, and we mixed. And then I said that if she'd
come she could sit at one end o' the table and
carve the ham, whileyou'd do the turkey. But she
says Buddy ought to do the turkey. But she's
coming And, Momsy, the turkey is a perfect
beauty. We put pecans in him. Miss Guyosa
gave us the receipt and the nuts, too. Her
cousin sent 'em to her from his plantation. And
did you notice the paper roses in the moss fes-
toons, Momsy? She made those. She has helped
us fix up a lot. She made all the Easter flowers on
St. Joseph's altar at the Cathedral, too, and-"
A rap at the door announcing a first guest sent
the little cook bounding to the kitchen, while
Ethel rushed into her mother's room, her mouth
full of pins and her sash on her arm.
She had dressed the three little ones a half-
hour ago; and Conrad, who had also made an
early toilet, declared that they had all three
walked round the dinner table thirty-nine times
since their appearance in the "dining-room."
When he advanced to do the honors, the small
procession toddling single file behind him, some-
how it had not occurred to him that he might
encounter Miss Penny, the canary lady, standing
in a dainty old dress of yellow silk just outside
the door, nor, worse still, that she should bear
in her hands a tiny cage containing a pair of
He said afterwards that "everything would
have passed off all right if it hadn't been for the
twins." Of course he had forgotten that he had
himself been the first one to compare Miss Penny
to a canary.
By the time the little black-eyed woman had
flitted into the door, and in a chirpy, bird-like
voice wished them a merry Christmas, Felix had
stuffed his entire handkerchief into his month.
Was it any wonder that F61icie and Dorothea,
seeing this, did actually disgrace the whole party
by convulsions of laughter ?
They were soon restored to order, though, by
the little yellow-gowned lady herself, for it took
but half a minute to say that the birds were a
present for the twins-" the two little ones who
brought me the invitation."
Such a present as this is no laughing matter,
and, besides, the little Frey children were at
heart polite. And so they had soon forgotten
their mirth in their new joy.
And then other guests were presently coming
in, and Mrs. Frey, looking startlingly fine and
pretty in her fresh ruches and new tie, was say-
ing pleasant things to everybody, while Ethel
and Meg, tripping lightly in and out, brought
in the dishes.
As there was no parlor, guests were received
in the curtained end of the gallery. No one was
disposed to be formal, and when the old Pro-
fessor entered with a little brown-paper parcel,
which he declared, after his greetings, to contain
his dinner, everybody felt that the etiquette of
the occasion was not to be very strict or in the
Of course Mrs. Frey, as hostess, "hoped the
Professor would reconsider, and have a slice of
the Christmas turkey"; but when they had
presently all taken their seats at the table, and
the eccentric guest had actually opened his roll
of bread and cheese upon his empty plate, over
which he began to pass savory dishes to his
neighbors, she politely let him have his way.
Indeed, there was nothing else to do, as he de-
clared-declining the first course with a wave of
his hand-that he had come "yust for de sake
"I haf seen efery day doze children work und
sing so nize togedder yust like leetle mans und
ladies, so I come yust to eggsbress my tanks for
de compliment, und to make de acquaintance
off doze nize y'ung neighbors." This with a
courtly bow to each one of the children separate-
ly. And he added in a moment: "De dinner
iss very fine, but for me one dinner iss yust like
anudder. Doze are all externals."
To which measured and kindly speech Conrad
could not help replying, It won't be an ex-
ternal to us, Professor, by the time we get
"Oho!" exclaimed the old man, delighted
with the boy's ready wit. "Dot's a wery
schmart boy you got dhere, Mrs. Vrey."
At this exhibition of broken English the
twins, who were waiting on the table, thought
it safe to rush to the kitchen on pretence of
changing plates, while Dorothea, seated at the
Professor's left, found it necessary to bite both
lips and to stare hard at the vinegar-cruet for
fully a second to keep from laughing. Then,
to make sure of her self-possession, she artfully
changed the subject, remarking, dryly,
"My nickel buyed the ice."
This was much funnier than the Professor's
speech, judging from the laughter that followed
it. And Miss Dorothea Frey's manners were
saved, which was the important thing.
It would be impossible in this short space to
give a full account of this novel and interesting
dinner party, but if any one supposes that there
was a dull moment in it, he is altogether mis-
Mrs. Frey and Ethel saw to it that no one was
neglected in conversation; Meg and Conrad
looked after the prompt replenishing of plates,
though the alert little waiters, Felix and Felicie,
anticipated every want, and were as sprightly as
two crickets, while Dorothea provoked frequent
laughter by a random fire of unexpected remarks,
never failing, for instance, to offer ice-water
during every "still minute"; and, indeed, once
that young lady did a thing that might have
proved quite terrible had the old lady Saxony,
who sat opposite, been disagreeable or sensi-
What Dorothea said was innocent enough-
only a single word of two letters, to begin with.
She had been looking blankly at her opposite
neighbor for a full minute, when she suddenly
That was all, but it made everybody look, first
at Dolly and then across the table. Whereupon
the little maid, seeing her blunder, hastened to
"That's nothing My grandma's come out
And then, of course, every one noticed that
old lady Saxony held her dainty hemstitched
handkerchief quite over her mouth. Fortunate-
ly Mrs. Saxony's good sense was as great as her
appreciation of humor, and, as she shook her
finger threateningly at Dorothea, her twinkling
eyes gave everybody leave to laugh. So "Dolly's
terrible break," as Conrad called it, really went
far to making the dinner a success-that is, if
story-telling and laughter and the merry clamor
such as distinguish the gayest of dinner parties
the world over count as success.
It was while the Professor was telling a funny
story of his boy life in Germany that there came
a rap at the door, and the children, thinking
only of Madame Coraline, turned their eyes tow-
ards the door, only to see the Italian organ-
grinder, whom, in the excitement of the dinner
party, they had forgotten to expect. He was to
play for the children to dance after dinner, and
had come a little early-or perhaps dinner was
Seeing the situation, the old man began bow-
ing himself out, when the Professor, winking
mysteriously at Mrs. Frey and gesticulating ani-
matedly, pointed first to the old Italian and then
to Madame Coraline's vacant chair. Everybody
understood, and smiling faces had already shown
approval when Mrs. Frey said, quietly, "Let's
put it to vote. All in favor raise glasses."
Every glass went up. The old Italian under-
stood little English, but the offer of a seat is a
simple pantomime, and he was presently declin-
ing again and again, bowing lower each time,
until before he knew it-all the time refusing-
he was in the chair, his plate was filled, and
Dolly was asking him to have ice-water. No
guest of the day was more welcome. None en-
THE ITALIAN ORGAN-GRINDER
joyed his dinner more, judging from the indica-
tions. And as to Meg, the moving spirit in the
whole party, she was beside herself with delight
over the unexpected guest.
The dinner all through was what Conrad
called a "rattlin' success," and the evening after-
wards, during which nearly every guest con-
tributed some entertainment, was one long to be
remembered. The Professor not only sang, but
danced. Miss Penny whistled so like a canary
that one could really believe her when she said
she always trained her young birds' voices.
Miss Guyosa told charming folk-lore anecdotes,
handed down in her family since the old Spanish
days in Louisiana.
The smiling organ-grinder played his engaged
twenty-five cents' worth of tunes over and over
again, and when the evening was done, persist-
ently refused to take the money until Felix
slipped it into his pocket.
The Frey party will long be remembered in
the Coppenole house, and beyond it, too, for
some very pleasant friendships date from this
Christmas dinner. The old Professor was just
the man to help Conrad with his German lessons.
It was so easy for Meg to send him a cup of hot
coffee on cold mornings. Mrs. Frey and Miss
Guyosa soon found many ties in common friends
of their youth. Indeed, the twins had gotten
their French names from a remote creole cousin,
who proved to be also a kinswoman to Miss
Guyosa. It was such a comfort, when Mrs.
Frey was kept out late at the office, for the
children to have Miss Guyosa come and sit with
them, telling stories or reading aloud; and they
brought much brightness into her life too.
Madame Coraline soon moved away, and, in-
deed, before another Christmas the Freys had
moved too-to a small cottage all their own, sit-
ting in the midst of a pretty rose-garden. Here
often come Miss Guyosa and the Professor, both
welcome guests, and Conrad says the Professor
makes love to Miss Guyosa, but it is hard to tell.
One cannot keep up with two people who can
tell jokes in four languages, but the Professor
has a way of dropping in as if by accident on the
evenings Miss Guyosa is visiting the Freys, and
they do read the same books-in four languages.
There's really no telling.
When the Frey children are playing on the
banquette at their front gate on sunny afternoons,
the old organ-grinder often stops, plays a free
tune or two for them to dance by, smilingly
doffs his hat to the open window above, and
"THE PROFESSOR NOT ONLY SANG, BUT DANCED"
LITTLE MOTHER QUACKALINA
LITTLE MOTHER QUACKALINA
STORY OF A DUCK FARM
THE black duck had a hard time of it from
the beginning-that is, from the begin-
ning of her life on the farm. She had
been a free wild bird up to that time, swimming
in the bay, playing hide and seek with her
brothers and sisters and cousins among the marsh
reeds along the bank, and coquettishly diving for
"mummies" and catching them "on the swim"
whenever she craved a fishy morsel. This put
a fresh perfume on her breath, and made her
utterly charming to her seventh cousin, Sir Sooty
Drake, who always kept himself actually fra-
grant with the aroma of raw fish, and was in all
respects a dashing beau. Indeed, she was be-
having most coyly, daintily swimming in grace-
ful curves around Sir Sooty among the marsh-
mallow clumps at the mouth of "Tarrup Crik,"
when the shot was fired that changed all her
prospects in life.
The farmer's boy was a hunter, and so had been
his grandfather, and his grandfather's gun did
its work with a terrific old-fashioned explosion.
When it shot into the great clump of pink
mallows everything trembled. The air was full
of smoke, and for a distance of a quarter of a
mile away the toads crept out of their hiding
and looked up and down the road. The chickens
picking at the late raspberry bushes in the farmer's
yard craned their necks, blinked, and didn't swal-
low another berry for fully ten seconds. And a
beautiful green caterpillar, that had seen the
great red rooster mark him with his evil eye, and
expected to be gobbled up in a twinkling, had
time to hump himself and crawl under a leaf
before the astonished rooster recovered from the
noise. This is a case where the firing of a gun
saved at least one life. I wonder how many
butterflies owe their lives to that gun ?
As to the ducks in the clump of mallows that
caught the volley, they simply tumbled over and
gave themselves up for dead.
The heroine of our little story, Lady Quacka-
lina Blackwing, stayed in a dead faint for fully
seventeen seconds, and the first thing she knew
I I I ,
I IBO S U
"LTHE~ FAU(MER'S B OY WA.S A HUNTER'L 1
when she came to" was that she was lying
under the farmer boy's coat in an old basket, and
that there was a terrific rumbling in her ears and
a sharp pain in one wing, that something was
sticking her, that Sir Sooty was nowhere in
sight, and that she wanted her mother and all
Indeed, as she began to collect her senses, while
she lay on top of the live crab that pinched her
chest with his claw, she realized that there was
not a cousin in the world, even to some she had
rather disliked, that she would not have been
most happy to greet at this trying moment.
The crab probably had no unfriendly inten-
tion. He was only putting up the best hand he
had, trying to find some of his own kindred. He
had himself been lying in a hole in shallow water
when the farmer's boy raked him in and changed
the whole course of his existence.
He and the duck knew each other by sight,
but though they were both "in the swim," they
belonged to different sets, and so were small com-
fort to one another on this journey to the
They both knew some English, and as the farm-
er's boy spoke part English and part "farm," they
understood him fairly well when he was telling
the man digging potatoes in the field that he
was going to "bile" the crab in a tomato can
and to make a decoy" out of the duck.
Bile" and "decoy" were new words to the
listeners in the basket, but they both knew about
tomato cans. The bay and "Tarrup Crik" were
strewn with them, and the crab had once hidden
in one, half imbedded in the sand, when he was a
"soft-shell." He knew their names, because he
had studied them before their labels soaked off,
and he knew there was no malice in them for
him, though the young fishes who have soft out-
sides dreaded their sharp edges very much.
There is sometimes some advantage in having
one's skeleton on the surface, like a coat of mail.
And so the crab was rather pleased at the
prospect of the tomato can. He thought the cans
grew in the bay, and so he expected presently to
be "biled" in his own home waters. The word
" biled "probably meant dropped in. Ignorance
is sometimes bliss, indeed.
Poor little Quackalina, however, was getting
less comfort out of her ignorance. She thought
"decoy" had a foreign sound, as if it might mean
a French stew. She had had relations who had
departed life by way of a purge, while others
had gone into a sautg or p&t1. Perhaps a "de-
coy" was a p&td with gravy or a purge with a
crust on it. If worse came to the worst, she
would prefer the purge with a crust. It would
be more like decent burial.
Of course she thought these things in duck
language, which is not put in here, because it is
not generally understood. It is quite a different
thing from Pidgin English, and it isn't all
"quack" any more than French is all "an
revoir," or Turkey all "gobble, gobble," or
goose only a string of "S's," or darkey all
The crab's thoughts were expressed in his eyes,
that began coming out like little telescopes un-
til they stood quite over his cheeks. Maybe
some people think crabs have no cheeks, but that
isn't so. They have them, but they keep them
inside, where they blush unseen, if they blush
But this is the story of the black duck. How-
ever, perhaps some one who reads it will be
pleased to know that the crab got away. He
sidled up-sidled is a regular word in crab lan-
guage-until his left eye could see straight into
the boy's face, and then he waited. He had long
ago found that there was nothing to be gained
by pinching the duck. It only made a row in
the basket and got him upset. But, by keeping
very still and watching his chance, he managed
to climb so near the top that when the basket
gave a lurch he simply vaulted overboard and
dropped in the field. Then he hid between three
mushrooms and a stick until the boy's footsteps
were out of hearing and he had time to draw in
his eyes and start for the bay. He had lost his
left claw some time before, and the new one he
was growing was not yet very strong. Still, let
us hope that he reached there in safety.
The duck knew when he had been trying to
get out, but she didn't tell. She wanted him to
go, for she didn't like his ways. Still, when he
had gone, she felt lonely. Misery loves company
-even though it be very poor company.
But Quackalina had not long to feel lonely.
Almost any boy who has shot a duck walks home
with it pretty fast, and this boy nearly ran. He
would have run if his legs hadn't been so fat.
The first sound that Quackalina heard when
they reached the gate was the quacking of a
thousand ducks, and it frightened her so that
she forgot all about the crab and her aching
wing and even the decoy. The boy lived on a
duck farm, and it was here that he had brought
her. This would seem to be a most happy thing
-but there are ducks and ducks. Poor little
Quackalina knew the haughty quawk of the
proud white ducks of Pekin. She knew that
she would be only a poor colored person among
them, and that she, whose mother and grand-
mother had lived in the swim of best beach
circles and had looked down upon these incu-
bator whitings, who were grown by the pound
and had no relations whatever, would now have
to suffer their scorn.
Even their distant quawk made her quake,
though she feared her end was near. There are
some trivial things that are irritating even in
the presence of death.
But Quackalina was not soon to die. She did
suffer some humiliations, and her wing was very
painful, but a great discovery soon filled her
with such joy that nothing else seemed worth
There were three other black ducks on the
farm, and they hastened to tell her that they
were already decoys, and that the one pleas-
ant thing in being a decoy was that it was not to
be killed or cooked or eaten.
This was good news. The life of a decoy-
duck was hard enough; but when one got ac-
customed to have its foot tied to the shore, and
shots fired all around it, one grew almost to en-
joy it. It was so exciting. But to the timid
young duck who had never been through it it
was a terrible prospect.
And so, for a long time, little Quackalina was
a very sad duck. She loved her cousin, Sir
Sooty, and she loved pink mallow blossoms. She
liked to eat the "mummy" fish alive, and not
cooked with sea-weed, as the farmer fed them to
But most of all she missed Sir Sooty. And
so, two weeks later, when her wing was nearly
well, in its new, drooping shape, what was her
joy when he himself actually waddled into the
farm-yard-into her very presence-without a
single quack of warning.
The feathers of one of his beautiful wings
were clipped, but he was otherwise looking quite
well, and he hastened to tell her that he was
happy, even in exile, to be with her again. And
she believed him.
He had been captured in a very humiliating
way, and this he made her promise never to tell.
He had swum so near the decoy-duck that his
foot had caught in its string, and before he
could get away the farmer had him fast. "And
now," he quacked, "I'm glad I did it," and
Quackalina quacked, "So am I." And they
were very happy.
Indeed, they grew so blissful after a while that
they decided to try to make the best of farm
life and to settle down. So they began meander-
ing about on long waddles-or waddling about
"SIR SOOTY HIMSELF ACTUALLY WADDLED INTO THE. FARM-YARD "
on long meanders-all over the place, hunting
for a cozy hiding-place for a nest. For five whole
days they hunted before Quackalina finally set-
tled down into the hollow that she declared
was "just a fit" for her, under the edge of
the old shanty where the Pekin feathers were
White, fluffy feathers are very beautiful things,
and they are soft and pleasant to our touch,
but they are sad sights to ducks and geese, and
Quackalina selected a place for her nest where
she could never see the door open into this dread
It was, indeed, very well hidden, and, as if to
make it still more secure, a friendly golden-rod
sprang up quite in front of it, and a growth of
pepper-grass kindly closed in one side.
Quackalina had never been sent out on decoy
duty, and after a time she ceased to fear it, but
sometimes Sir Sooty had to go, and his little
wife would feel very anxious until he came back.
There are some very sad parts in this little
story, and we are coming to one of them now.
The home-nest had been made. There were
ten beautiful eggs in it-all polished and shining
like opals. And the early golden-rod that stood
on guard before it was sending out a first yellow
spray when troubles began to come.
QUACKALINA thought she had laid twice as
many as ten eggs in the nest, but she could not
be quite sure, and neither could Sir Sooty,
though he thought so, too.
Very few poetic people are good at arithmetic,
and even fine mathematicians are said to forget
how to count when they are in love.
Certain it is, however, that when Quackalina
finally decided to be satisfied to begin sitting,
there were exactly ten eggs in the nest-just
enough for her to cover well with her warm
down and feathers.
"Sitting-time" may seem stupid to those who
are not sitting; but Quackalina's breast was filled
with a gentle content as she sat, day by day, be-
hind the golden-rod, and blinked and reflected
and listened for the dear "paddle, paddle" of
Sir Sooty's feet, and his loving "qua', qua' "-
a sort of caressing baby-talk that he had adopted
in speaking to her ever since she had begun her
Quackalina was a patient little creature, and
"III' GOTrN TO SWAP' E'R"'
seldom left her nest, so that when she did so for
a short walk in the glaring sun, she was apt to
be dizzy and to see strange spots before her eyes.
But this would all pass away when she got back
to her cozy nest in the cool shade.
But one day it did not pass away-it got worse,
or, at least, she thought it did. Instead of ten
eggs in the nest she seemed to see twenty, and they
were of a strange, dull color, and their shape
seemed all wrong. She blinked her eyes nineteen
times, and even rubbed them with her web-feet,
so that she might not see double, but it was all
in vain. Before her dazzled eyes twenty little
pointed eggs lay, and when she sat upon them
they felt strange to her breast. And then she
grew faint and was too weak even to call Sir
Sooty, but when he came waddling along present-
ly, he found her so pale around the bill that he
made her put out her tongue, and examined her
Sir Sooty was not a regular doctor, but he was
a very good quack, and she believed in him,
which, in many cases, is the main thing.
So when he grew so tender that his words
were almost like "qu, qu," and told her that
she had been confined too closely and was threat-
ened with foie gras, she only sighed and closed
her eyes, and, keeping her fears to herself, hoped
that the trouble was all in her eyes indeed-or
Now the sad part of this tale is that the trouble
was not with poor little Quackalina's eyes at all.
It was in the nest. The same farmer's boy who
had kept her sitting of eggs down to ten by tak-
ing out one every day until poor Quackalina's
patience was worn out-the same boy who had
not used her as a decoy only because he wanted
her to stay at home and raise little decoy-ducks-
this boy it was who had now chosen to take her
ten beautiful eggs and put them under a guinea-
hen, and to fetch the setting of twenty guinea
eggs for Quackalina to hatch out.
He did this just because, as he said, "That old
black duck '11 hatch out as many eggs again as a
guinea-hen will, an' the guinea '11 cover her ten
eggs easy. I'm goin' to swap 'em." And "swap
'em" he did.
Nobody knows how the guinea-hen liked her
sitting, for none but herself and the boy knew
where her nest was hidden in a pile of old rub-
bish down by the cow-pond.
When a night had passed, and a new day
showed poor Quackalina the twenty little eggs
actually under her breast-eggs so little that she
could roll two at once under her foot-she did
not know what to think. But like many patient
"MADE HER PUT OUT HER TONGUE"
r \1 ~~-
people when great sorrows come, she kept very
still and never told her fears.
She had never seen a guinea egg before in all
her life. There were birds' nests in some of the
reeds along shore, and she knew their little toy
eggs. She knew the eggs of snakes, too, and of
terrapins, or "tarrups," as they are called by the
farmer folk along the bay.
When first she discovered the trouble in the
nest she thought of these, and the very idea of
a great procession of little turtles starting out
from under her some fine morning startled her
so that her head lay limp against the golden-rod
for fully thirteen seconds. Then she got better,
but it was not until she had taken a nip at the
pepper-grass that she was sufficiently warmed up
to hold up her head and think. And when she
thought, she was comforted. These dainty pointed
eggs were not in the least like the soft clumsy
"double-enders" that the turtles lay in the
sand. Besides, how could turtle-eggs have got-
ten there anyway ? How much easier for one
head to go wrong than twenty eggs.
She chuckled at the very folly of her fears,
and nestling down into the place, she soon be-
gan to nod. And presently she had a funny,
funny dream, which is much too long to go into
this story, which is a great pity, for her dream is
quite as interesting as the real story, although it
is not half so true.
Sitting-time, after this, seemed very long to
Quackalina, but after a while she began to know
by various little stirring under her downy breast
that it was almost over. At the first real move-
ment against her wing she felt as if everything
about her was singing and saying, "mother!
mother !" and bowing to her.
Even the pepper-grass nodded and the golden-
rod, and careless roosters as they passed seemed
to lower their combs to her and to forget them-
selves, just for a minute. And a great song was
in her own bosom-a great song of joy-and al-
though the sound that came from her beautiful
coral bill was only a soft qua, qua'," to common
ears, to those who have the finest hearing it was
full of a heavenly tenderness. But there was a
tremor in it, too-a tremor of fear; and the fear
was so terrible that it kept her from looking
down even when she knew a little head was
thrusting itself up through her great warm wing.
She drew the wing as a caressing arm lovingly
about it though, and saying to herself, "I must
wait till they are all come; then I'll look," she
gazed upward at the moon that was just show-
ing a rim of gold over the hay-stack-and closed
There was no sleep that long night for little
It was a great, great night. Under her breast,
wonderful happenings every minute; outside,
the white moonlight; and always in sight across
the yard, just a dark object against the ground-
Sir Sooty, sound asleep, like a philosopher !
Oh yes, it was a great, great night. Its last
hours before day were very dark and sorrowful,
and by the time a golden gleam shot out of the
east Quackalina knew that her first glance into
the nest must bring her grief. The tiny restless
things beneath her brooding wings were chirping
in an unknown tongue. But their wiry Japan-
esy voices, that clinked together like little cop-
per kettles, were very young and helpless, and
Quackalina was a true mother-duck, and her
heart went out to them.
When the fatal moment came and she really
looked down into the nest, her relief in seeing
beautiful feathered things, at least, was greater
than any other feeling. It was something not to
have to mother a lot of "tarrups," certainly.
Little guineas are very beautiful, and when
presently Quackalina found herself crossing the
yard with her twenty dainty red-booted hatch-
lings, although she longed for her own dear, ugly,
smoky," beautiful" ducklings, she could not help
feeling pleasure and pride in the exquisite little
creatures that had stepped so briskly into life
from beneath her own breast.
It was natural that she should have hurried
to the pond with her brood. Wouldn't she have
taken her own ducklings there ? If these were
only little "step-ducks," she was resolved that,
in the language of step-mothers, "they should
never know the difference." She would begin
by taking them in swimming.
Besides, she longed for the pond herself. It
was the place where she could best think quietly
and get things straightened in her mind.
Sir Sooty had not seen her start off with her
new family. He had said to himself that he
had lost so much rest all night that he must
have a good breakfast, and so, at the moment
when Quackalina and the guineas slipped around
the stable to the cow-pond, he was actually
floundering in the very centre of one of the feed-
troughs in the yard, and letting the farmer turn
the great mass of cooked "feed" all over him.
Greedy ducks often act that way. Even the
snow-white Pekins do it. It is bad enough any
time, but on the great morning when one be-
comes a papa-duck he ought to try to be digni-
fied, and Sir Sooty knew it. And he knew full
well that events had been happening all night in
the nest, and that was why he said he had lost
rest. But he hadn't. A great' many people are
like Sir Sooty. They say they lose sleep when
But listen to what was taking place'at the cow-
pond, for it is this that made this story seem
worth the telling.
When Quackalina reached the pond, she flap-
ped her tired wings three times from pure glad-
ness at the sight of the beautiful water. And
then, plunging in, she took one delightful dive
before she turned to the shore, and in the sweet-
est tones invited the little ones to follow her.
Well, they just looked down at their red satin
boots and shook their heads. And then it was
that Quackalina noticed their feet, and saw that
they would never swim.
It was a great shock to her. She paddled
along shore quite near them for a while, trying
to be resigned to it. And then she waddled out
on the grassy bank, and fed them with some newts,
and a tadpole, and a few blue-bottle flies, and a
snail, and several other delicacies, which they
seemed to enjoy quite as much as if they had been
young ducks. And then Quackalina, seeing them
quite happy, struck out for the very middle of
the pond. She would have one glorious outing,
at least. Oh, how sweet the water was! How it
soothed the tender spots under her weary wings !
How it cooled her ears and her tired eyelids !
And now-and now-and now-as she dived and
dipped and plunged-how it cheered and com-
forted her heart! How faithfully it bore her
on its cool bosom For a few minutes, in the
simple joy of her bath, she even forgot to be sor-
And now comes the dear part of the troublous
tale of this little black mother-duck-the part
that is so pleasant to write-the part that it will
be good to read.
When at last Quackalina, turning, said to her-
self, "I must go ashore now and look after my
little steppies," she raised her eyes and looked
before her to see just where she was. And then
the vision she seemed to see was so strange and
so beautiful that-well, she said afterwards that
she never knew just how she bore it.
Just before her, on the water, swimming easily
on its trusty surface, were ten little ugly, smoky,
"beautiful" ducks Ten little ducks that looked
precisely like every one of Quackalina's rela-
tions And now they saw her and began swim-
ming towards her.
Before she knew it, Quackalina had flapped
her great wings and quacked aloud three times,