Citation
The boys of Clovernook

Material Information

Title:
The boys of Clovernook the story of five boys on a farm
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 )
Place of Publication:
Boston
Publisher:
Lothrop Publishing Company
Manufacturer:
Typography by C.J. Peters & Son ; Presswork by Rockwell & Churchill
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
351 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.

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
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )

Notes

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

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
026587740 ( ALEPH )
ALG2259 ( NOTIS )
08434168 ( OCLC )

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ENGIN
so A

“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,
BY

LOTHROP PUBLISHING COMPANY

All rights reserved.

C. J. PETERS & SON, TYPOGRAPHERS, BOSTON.

VRTSSNORK BY ROGKWELL KAD GHOREHILL, BOSTON, U.S.K,

—

aad





To

THREE DEAR BOYS:

le Ba hk Be AND eV ek!










CHAPTER,

I.
IT.
II.
IV.

VI.

q

I
XIII.
XIV.
XV.
XVI.
XVII.

XVII.

_

K

XXI.
XXIT,.
XXII.



CONTENTS.

JOHN AND His FAMILY ARRIVE AT CLOVERNOOK
Krirn COMES TO CLOVERNOOK

KEITIL Me far nat ee eT ee ee

Harotp AND WALTER COME TO CLOVERNOOK
CuristmMas GIFs

A BrautiruL Day AND EVENING

Tne SKATING—-PARTY

Rupoir comes TO CLovERNOOK

Aunr RacueL Loses Her Boys, AND Finns Trem
Tue BurRNING oF THE BARN

Toe Tuerr or tok Twenry—Do._tar GoLip—Pineck
LUDOLF’s TROUBLE

A New Boy comes Tro CLoverRNOOK .

LittLte Perer.

Tur ACCIDENT

Tuer Lost Monry Is FOUND.

Aunt RACHEL HEARS STRANGE News CONCERNING Lirrie Perer,
LirrLte Petrer’s Farner AND Moruer.

Aunt RACHEL HEARS MORE STRANGE News .
Herr Von ErpMANN COMES TO CLOVERNOOK
Rupoir Hears Hrs Own Srrance Srory

RUDOLF LEAVES CLOVERNOOK

Rupoir’s LETTER

PAGE.








LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

“Many A Happy Time THEY HAD GALLOPING Up anp Down THE Lawn,”
Frontispiece

“PAGE

Scops ASSISTS THE PROFESSOR . . . 1 ee ee 18
First APPEARANCE OF KEITH. . . . . . 2... ee
UG UTE CFE TSO MOE a has Gi ie pe og a oe ova ol a oe pd oo 5 cal
A RAID ON THE DUCKLINGS . . 1... ee ee ee BG
“Now, AUNTIE Ray, ISN'T THERE ANY ONE Etsi?’? ASKED HaroLtp . . 65
“Tn HE CAME, ENVELOPED IN A FuR OVERCOAT” . . . . . . 1 uw OTB
Harotp at His StupIES . . . . ee ee 8
“Tur Boys HAD NEVER KNOWN SUCH SKATING BEFORE” . . . . . . . 91
War THE Boys FULLY EXPECTED TO SEE... ........ . . «96

BROWNIE MAKES THE MostorlIr............. 2. . . 101

BLINDMAN’S BUFF IN THE KITCHEN. . . . .. . . . . . 107
“A LitrLhy Boy SEATED BY THE WAYSIDE” . . . . . .. . . . . . 2118

“Wat Lovety Tones HE couLD DRAW FROM THAT PRECIOUS VIOLIN” . 133
OuT oF THE FRoG-PondD. . . . . . ew ee ee 14
Nor OnE or TuEM REALIZED WHAT HE HAD DONE . ... . . .. . 152
WHERE THE GOLD-PIEFCE WAS LEFT . . . . . . ee eee ee OT
“*T pip not po Ir! I pip nor!’ He crimp” . . 2... 2... O85
“We rouND THEY WERE TALKING OF THE SLEEPING CuInp”. . . . . . 199

“We REACHED IT, WHERE IT LAY ASLEEP ON THE GRAss” . .. . . . 201

7



8 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

CSG: EH. S)a3 O,\ cee ee ee eye sc eC) re
‘Run, UncLE JOHN!’? HE SCREAMED. . . . . . 2. 2. 1 ee ew e es 229

FRO Bape © Waeiee cr ae tea tenon rae ee ee meta nee eC ae So ee 2-1)

AUNT RACHEL PLAYS THE SPY ON SANDY . . . . ee ee ee RAB ,

RITPLE SEE TERS ON {SETS PLORSE ayy cee h ee. rere Me et ones te ee cre en ee GL

TENGE EY ORO EIAR Dias cee tern patie seat te Wek Nc ere nies Mee Sete ont hee atert ade ct ote a ae OO

NMRVAGACY: GORS#A—FROGGING at Si ie en oe ees ee ees 2G. |

IBROWNIBTAT “LE APEROG quiet pagers ie tis, os en aa ie nay oleae! ero eteas cnr matey eee OE.

BROWNIE cANDHERRE VON “GRDMANN Se soak chs yee tae ete eee 0 oO. 1
“T saw BROWNIE, ‘TAKING OFF’ HERR ERDMANN” . . . . . . . «6827

RUDOLF SAYS GOOD-By TO ALL THE PETS . . . . ....... . . 3834 {

AUNT RACHEL READING RupDOLF’s LETTER. . .......... ~~. 9848





THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

CHAPTER I.
JOHN AND HIS FAMILY ARRIVE AT CLOVERNOOK.

O 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



10 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 he
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 lttle 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 delicht-
ful old farm of Clovernook, the home of my mother’s father.





JOHN AND HIS FAMILY ARRIVE AT CLOVERNOOK. 11

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’? —

“T 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



12 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 “pished” 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 HIS FAMILY ARRIVE AT CLOVERNOOK.

—
Os

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, IT 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



14 THE 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,”
he 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 lke; 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
scragey 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.



16 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





JOUN AND HIS FAMILY ARRIVE AT CLOVERNOOK. 17

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 he
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, he 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-
terest. In and out he would
go among the birds and beasts,
tweaking at the stuffed alli-
gator’s jaw perhaps, or bow-
ing with funny little bobs,



first on one side of his head,
See ei 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



JOHN AND HIS FAMILY ARRIVE AT CLOVERNOOK. 19

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 bantain 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



20 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, blusterimg 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 im 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 sheltermg arms to
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. 21

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



22, THE 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 Jolin
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. 23

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’ theirn, 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





24 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 he 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
he 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 im 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 imtended to send dismay to all





KEITH COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 25

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 mélée 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,



PanpecweatEn

26 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 he
could be cured, and he 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

g
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. 27

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 :—

“Tlow 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





28 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. Iwas 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.
“Who can it be?” I thought, and walked down the road to

meet him.





KEITH COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 29

“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 lis 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



First appearance of Keith.

eyes had such an anxious. beseeching look in them, and he
seemed so tired and careworn. “ What is it, my dear?” I said.
“T 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?”



|
|
|
{
|
|
|



30 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. 31

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 PRoressor 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.”



KEITIL COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 33

But he did not answer me. He was speaking to the boy.
“JT 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



54 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 caine, 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 dies 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. 35

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, ete. 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.” .

“Tt 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. 37

CHAPTER III.
KEITH.

In those first days after our little Keith came to us,
he was very shy, and seemed of a timid nature. He was
easily frightened by such trifles as a quick word or sudden
movement. 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



38 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 he
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’snested 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,



RT noe

a is

| Seek SUE alte 8 a Oe

KEITI. 39

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

-





40 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 hen who could hide her
nest from Master Keith. And then, were there not thie
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. 4]

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







Keith on his raft.

and line, or with a net made for that purpose. I would be
afraid to venture a guess how many frogs may have lost
their lives there, or what pollywogs and tadpoles may have
found untimely graves in that muddy place. Sometimes it



42 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



KELTH. 43

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 lis 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



44 THE 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 sce
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
‘wild-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 he felt for no else. His whole behavior to
Unele John was beautiful to see. It had in it, too, a protect-
ing tenderness which was strange in so young a boy. When
he had been at Clovernook only a little while, he learned to
he 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 eall-
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. 45

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 come 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 Jot 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.



46 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 soime
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. AT

“T 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-



48 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 he 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 sleepin 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. 49

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 puttimg 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. ol

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
lis 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



52 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

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,
he said; and when he 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, wrigeled



ee

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-warming 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 carpenters 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,

2

whittling and planing and sawing, and “inventing” things.





d4 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 lis
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









Or

HAROLD AND WALTER COME TO CLOVERNOOK. 5

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-



56 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
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.
Whenever a stormy day came, these
poor little ducks appeared to be the most
miserable creatures in the world. Follow-



ing their leader, “Captain Toe-nail,’ they

ort would range themselves against the side
of the barn, and there stand in all sorts
of awkward and comical positions. Heads
, down; wings

@ " a drooping; feath-
We ah ers bedrageled ;



apparently — vic-

ye



tims of
sida
it My \ the
MARE AENY
od aS deepest



Tey. e and most
Ser :
\4,, hopeless despair. It was

oy
6 ctttSane



a ee 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. o7

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



08 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. 59

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,
“T 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.
“T 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; Tl be Santa Claus, or
Ill know the reason why. Come along, Keith.”

Here Brownie began to ery, and stamped his little foot.
“T 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-



60 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

cluded 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
heard the children come in and creep softly up to the attic,
where I had no doubt they intended to tontinue, undisturbed,
the weighty argument as to who should and who should not

’

“)e 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. 6]

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.

“J 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



62 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. 63

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. J 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



64 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. 65

the hayloft. So I called to David, and had him put them

place where the boys might not find them, and that was in
| there as quickly as he could. Fortunately the whole thing



ts

Asa cares

“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, —



66 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

“JT 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. 67

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.”

“T 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 hue and a hearty kiss, and ran
away, laughing. For I believe I have never happened to say
that I ama 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.



68 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. 69

Sonke and Abome Oa

ah da

Ciywinan dciuanl



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.







70 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 stragely 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. ol
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.
y





—T
Lo

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 “lendings,’ 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.”








CHRISTMAS GIFTS. 75

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



-T
om

THE 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



CHRISTMAS GIFTS. 77

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





78 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. 79

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, “QO 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.



Le

80 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

CHAPTER VI.
A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING.

Ir 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. 81

up, little sober faces, and come into the three-cornered
room at nine o'clock. JI 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 im 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



a Ce

82 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.



saesieuinienniienenmnins cee naeeetnaiee

A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING. 83

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! Id 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.

“Tf any one would offer to take that young Auiersadees
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 froin
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.”’





ee

84 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK. '

“Qh, 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. 85

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



86 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 ;

2; 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. 87

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



88 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,







A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING. 89

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 hin? 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.

“OQ 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 ; “TI can’t
go to school such weather as this. TIl 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



90 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 fallmg 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. 91

of the house, “on some household care intent,” there he
was again, speeding away down in the corner of the field
nearest his frog-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



SP TS Ta
gy PENN
!

“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



92 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. 93

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.



94 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
avery brave air; but I noticed that he cast a rather startled
look around, asif it might be well to keep a sharp eye on things.



A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING. 95

“Tet 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 T 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



96 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.”



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.”

“JT don’t believe I want to stay here,” said Keith in a
low tone.

&







A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING. 97

“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



Full Text









ENGIN
so A

“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,
BY

LOTHROP PUBLISHING COMPANY

All rights reserved.

C. J. PETERS & SON, TYPOGRAPHERS, BOSTON.

VRTSSNORK BY ROGKWELL KAD GHOREHILL, BOSTON, U.S.K,

—

aad


To

THREE DEAR BOYS:

le Ba hk Be AND eV ek!




CHAPTER,

I.
IT.
II.
IV.

VI.

q

I
XIII.
XIV.
XV.
XVI.
XVII.

XVII.

_

K

XXI.
XXIT,.
XXII.



CONTENTS.

JOHN AND His FAMILY ARRIVE AT CLOVERNOOK
Krirn COMES TO CLOVERNOOK

KEITIL Me far nat ee eT ee ee

Harotp AND WALTER COME TO CLOVERNOOK
CuristmMas GIFs

A BrautiruL Day AND EVENING

Tne SKATING—-PARTY

Rupoir comes TO CLovERNOOK

Aunr RacueL Loses Her Boys, AND Finns Trem
Tue BurRNING oF THE BARN

Toe Tuerr or tok Twenry—Do._tar GoLip—Pineck
LUDOLF’s TROUBLE

A New Boy comes Tro CLoverRNOOK .

LittLte Perer.

Tur ACCIDENT

Tuer Lost Monry Is FOUND.

Aunt RACHEL HEARS STRANGE News CONCERNING Lirrie Perer,
LirrLte Petrer’s Farner AND Moruer.

Aunt RACHEL HEARS MORE STRANGE News .
Herr Von ErpMANN COMES TO CLOVERNOOK
Rupoir Hears Hrs Own Srrance Srory

RUDOLF LEAVES CLOVERNOOK

Rupoir’s LETTER

PAGE.


LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

“Many A Happy Time THEY HAD GALLOPING Up anp Down THE Lawn,”
Frontispiece

“PAGE

Scops ASSISTS THE PROFESSOR . . . 1 ee ee 18
First APPEARANCE OF KEITH. . . . . . 2... ee
UG UTE CFE TSO MOE a has Gi ie pe og a oe ova ol a oe pd oo 5 cal
A RAID ON THE DUCKLINGS . . 1... ee ee ee BG
“Now, AUNTIE Ray, ISN'T THERE ANY ONE Etsi?’? ASKED HaroLtp . . 65
“Tn HE CAME, ENVELOPED IN A FuR OVERCOAT” . . . . . . 1 uw OTB
Harotp at His StupIES . . . . ee ee 8
“Tur Boys HAD NEVER KNOWN SUCH SKATING BEFORE” . . . . . . . 91
War THE Boys FULLY EXPECTED TO SEE... ........ . . «96

BROWNIE MAKES THE MostorlIr............. 2. . . 101

BLINDMAN’S BUFF IN THE KITCHEN. . . . .. . . . . . 107
“A LitrLhy Boy SEATED BY THE WAYSIDE” . . . . . .. . . . . . 2118

“Wat Lovety Tones HE couLD DRAW FROM THAT PRECIOUS VIOLIN” . 133
OuT oF THE FRoG-PondD. . . . . . ew ee ee 14
Nor OnE or TuEM REALIZED WHAT HE HAD DONE . ... . . .. . 152
WHERE THE GOLD-PIEFCE WAS LEFT . . . . . . ee eee ee OT
“*T pip not po Ir! I pip nor!’ He crimp” . . 2... 2... O85
“We rouND THEY WERE TALKING OF THE SLEEPING CuInp”. . . . . . 199

“We REACHED IT, WHERE IT LAY ASLEEP ON THE GRAss” . .. . . . 201

7
8 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

CSG: EH. S)a3 O,\ cee ee ee eye sc eC) re
‘Run, UncLE JOHN!’? HE SCREAMED. . . . . . 2. 2. 1 ee ew e es 229

FRO Bape © Waeiee cr ae tea tenon rae ee ee meta nee eC ae So ee 2-1)

AUNT RACHEL PLAYS THE SPY ON SANDY . . . . ee ee ee RAB ,

RITPLE SEE TERS ON {SETS PLORSE ayy cee h ee. rere Me et ones te ee cre en ee GL

TENGE EY ORO EIAR Dias cee tern patie seat te Wek Nc ere nies Mee Sete ont hee atert ade ct ote a ae OO

NMRVAGACY: GORS#A—FROGGING at Si ie en oe ees ee ees 2G. |

IBROWNIBTAT “LE APEROG quiet pagers ie tis, os en aa ie nay oleae! ero eteas cnr matey eee OE.

BROWNIE cANDHERRE VON “GRDMANN Se soak chs yee tae ete eee 0 oO. 1
“T saw BROWNIE, ‘TAKING OFF’ HERR ERDMANN” . . . . . . . «6827

RUDOLF SAYS GOOD-By TO ALL THE PETS . . . . ....... . . 3834 {

AUNT RACHEL READING RupDOLF’s LETTER. . .......... ~~. 9848


THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

CHAPTER I.
JOHN AND HIS FAMILY ARRIVE AT CLOVERNOOK.

O 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
10 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 he
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 lttle 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 delicht-
ful old farm of Clovernook, the home of my mother’s father.


JOHN AND HIS FAMILY ARRIVE AT CLOVERNOOK. 11

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’? —

“T 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
12 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 “pished” 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 HIS FAMILY ARRIVE AT CLOVERNOOK.

—
Os

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, IT 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
14 THE 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,”
he 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 lke; 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
scragey 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.
16 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


JOUN AND HIS FAMILY ARRIVE AT CLOVERNOOK. 17

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 he
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, he 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-
terest. In and out he would
go among the birds and beasts,
tweaking at the stuffed alli-
gator’s jaw perhaps, or bow-
ing with funny little bobs,



first on one side of his head,
See ei 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
JOHN AND HIS FAMILY ARRIVE AT CLOVERNOOK. 19

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 bantain 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
20 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, blusterimg 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 im 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 sheltermg arms to
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. 21

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
22, THE 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 Jolin
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. 23

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’ theirn, 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


24 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 he 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
he 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 im 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 imtended to send dismay to all


KEITH COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 25

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 mélée 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,
PanpecweatEn

26 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 he
could be cured, and he 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

g
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. 27

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 :—

“Tlow 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


28 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. Iwas 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.
“Who can it be?” I thought, and walked down the road to

meet him.


KEITH COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 29

“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 lis 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



First appearance of Keith.

eyes had such an anxious. beseeching look in them, and he
seemed so tired and careworn. “ What is it, my dear?” I said.
“T 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?”
|
|
|
{
|
|
|



30 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. 31

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 PRoressor 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.”
KEITIL COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 33

But he did not answer me. He was speaking to the boy.
“JT 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
54 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 caine, 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 dies 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. 35

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, ete. 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.” .

“Tt 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. 37

CHAPTER III.
KEITH.

In those first days after our little Keith came to us,
he was very shy, and seemed of a timid nature. He was
easily frightened by such trifles as a quick word or sudden
movement. 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
38 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 he
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’snested 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,
RT noe

a is

| Seek SUE alte 8 a Oe

KEITI. 39

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

-


40 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 hen who could hide her
nest from Master Keith. And then, were there not thie
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. 4]

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







Keith on his raft.

and line, or with a net made for that purpose. I would be
afraid to venture a guess how many frogs may have lost
their lives there, or what pollywogs and tadpoles may have
found untimely graves in that muddy place. Sometimes it
42 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
KELTH. 43

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 lis 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
44 THE 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 sce
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
‘wild-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 he felt for no else. His whole behavior to
Unele John was beautiful to see. It had in it, too, a protect-
ing tenderness which was strange in so young a boy. When
he had been at Clovernook only a little while, he learned to
he 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 eall-
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. 45

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 come 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 Jot 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.
46 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 soime
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. AT

“T 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-
48 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 he 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 sleepin 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. 49

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 puttimg 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. ol

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
lis 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
52 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

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,
he said; and when he 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, wrigeled
ee

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-warming 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 carpenters 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,

2

whittling and planing and sawing, and “inventing” things.


d4 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 lis
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






Or

HAROLD AND WALTER COME TO CLOVERNOOK. 5

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-
56 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
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.
Whenever a stormy day came, these
poor little ducks appeared to be the most
miserable creatures in the world. Follow-



ing their leader, “Captain Toe-nail,’ they

ort would range themselves against the side
of the barn, and there stand in all sorts
of awkward and comical positions. Heads
, down; wings

@ " a drooping; feath-
We ah ers bedrageled ;



apparently — vic-

ye



tims of
sida
it My \ the
MARE AENY
od aS deepest



Tey. e and most
Ser :
\4,, hopeless despair. It was

oy
6 ctttSane



a ee 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. o7

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
08 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. 59

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,
“T 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.
“T 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; Tl be Santa Claus, or
Ill know the reason why. Come along, Keith.”

Here Brownie began to ery, and stamped his little foot.
“T 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-
60 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

cluded 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
heard the children come in and creep softly up to the attic,
where I had no doubt they intended to tontinue, undisturbed,
the weighty argument as to who should and who should not

’

“)e 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. 6]

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.

“J 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
62 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. 63

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. J 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
64 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. 65

the hayloft. So I called to David, and had him put them

place where the boys might not find them, and that was in
| there as quickly as he could. Fortunately the whole thing



ts

Asa cares

“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, —
66 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

“JT 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. 67

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.”

“T 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 hue and a hearty kiss, and ran
away, laughing. For I believe I have never happened to say
that I ama 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.
68 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. 69

Sonke and Abome Oa

ah da

Ciywinan dciuanl



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.




70 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 stragely 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. ol
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.
y


—T
Lo

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 “lendings,’ 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.”


CHRISTMAS GIFTS. 75

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
-T
om

THE 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
CHRISTMAS GIFTS. 77

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


78 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. 79

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, “QO 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.
Le

80 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

CHAPTER VI.
A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING.

Ir 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. 81

up, little sober faces, and come into the three-cornered
room at nine o'clock. JI 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 im 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
a Ce

82 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.
saesieuinienniienenmnins cee naeeetnaiee

A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING. 83

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! Id 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.

“Tf any one would offer to take that young Auiersadees
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 froin
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.”’


ee

84 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK. '

“Qh, 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. 85

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
86 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 ;

2; 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. 87

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
88 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,




A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING. 89

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 hin? 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.

“OQ 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 ; “TI can’t
go to school such weather as this. TIl 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
90 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 fallmg 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. 91

of the house, “on some household care intent,” there he
was again, speeding away down in the corner of the field
nearest his frog-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



SP TS Ta
gy PENN
!

“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
92 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. 93

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.
94 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
avery brave air; but I noticed that he cast a rather startled
look around, asif it might be well to keep a sharp eye on things.
A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING. 95

“Tet 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 T 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
96 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.”



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.”

“JT don’t believe I want to stay here,” said Keith in a
low tone.

&




A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING. 97

“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
98 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

into a fox, as everybody knows fairies have a way of doing.
He had been sent out to reconnoitre, and see that there were
no vulgar mortals about, while the rest were performing their
toilets; while the fairy ladies were ‘doing’ their hair maybe,
and the little beaux were putting on their best neckties. But
they won’t come now. They are probably peeping at us this
very minute from behind the bushes; but they won’t come
out until we go, if we should stay till morning. So we may
as well go home.” .

“Well, I think that’s a shame!” said Brownie, inclined
to be a little. disappointed at not getting a glimpse at the
fairies, despite the awe the thought of meeting them had
raised in his breast; though he still insisted that he knew
Uncle John was “making it all up.”

“What would you have asked for, Aunt Rachel, if they
had come?” said Harold, as we turned our steps homeward.

“T don’t know,” I replied. ‘Perhaps for a new bonnet,
perhaps a new dress; but I think that probably I should
have asked for three good and quiet boys. I need those
more than anything else.”

“T should have asked for a new double-runner,” said
Keith; “my old one is completely gone to smash.”

“So should I,” said Brownie; “a new double-runner, and
a great long one too.”

“T should have asked for a camera,” said Harold.

“Oh, yes; so should I too,” said Brownie. “I want a
camera just as much as Harold does.”

“You!” said Harold disgustedly. “ You little Tumble-
bug! You'd look well taking pictures, wouldn’t you?”
A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND EVENING. 99

“T know what I would ask for,’ muttered John, at my
side.

Indeed, I knew well enough what it was. Things were
not going well with us on the farm, and we two were often
greatly depressed. But I will not trouble you with that.

“Uncle John,” said Harold, “if it is like this to-morrow,
you will be good to us, now, won't you? You know it
wouldn’t be quite right to have school in such weather as
this.”

“Perhaps not,” said Uncle John rather dryly. “I have
no wish to do wrong in such a matter.”

“Well, then, holiday it is, then?” coaxed Harold.

“Well, perhaps it will be best,” said Uncle John. “I know
well enough there will be no studying while the skating is

?

like this.’

?

“And I have been thinking,’ continued Harold, “what

a shame for us to have this whole farm to ourselves. How
selfish it is. Why shouldn’t we have a skating-party ?”

“Oh, a skating-party!” shouted Brownie, our young whirl-
wind. “Bully for — but who would we have? We don’t
know anybody, hardly.”

“'That’s so!” said Harold, quite nonplussed for the mo-
ment. “How can we have a party when we don’t know a
single soul to invite. But Ill tell you,” he said, brightening
up im a minute, “ we know the Wilsons, and they go to No.
2 school, and we could get them to invite the whole school;
and that would make a grand party, and we'd have lots
of fun.”

“So we could! So we could!” cried Brownie. “ TLet’s


100 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

have ‘em all. We can, can’t we, Aunt Rachel? And we will
have one of your very beautifulest suppers, won’t we?”

“What, the whole school!” I exclaimed. “How could
I have so many?”

“Oh, I heard Tom Wilson say there were only twenty
in the whole school,’ said Keith; “and I’m sure that isn’t
very many.”

And really those boys did not go to bed until they had
extracted a promise from their too yielding uncle and aunt
to invite the No. 2 school-children to a skating-party for
the following day, if it should prove fine; said party to be
promptly on hand at three p.m. (provided the teacher would
consent to dismiss school somewhat earlier than usual), and
they were to stay for the afternoon and evening, and to
skate on the most beautiful ice that ever was “ froze.”


THE SKATING—PARTY. 101

CHAPTER VII.
THE SKATING—PARTY.

Ir there had been any doubt in my mind in regard to the
possibility of entertaining so many young guests, most of them
quite unknown to our boys, it was promptly dispelled when
I looked from my window, about three o’clock on that Tues-
day afternoon, and beheld the rosy-cheeked boys and girls
of all sizes and ages, with skates slung over their shoulders,
trooping up the lane. They were met by their three young
hosts with a loud shout of
welcome; and dispensing
with the formality of going
up to the house to greet
their hostess, or to warm
their cold toes and noses, at
once all betook themselves
to the nearest bit of stone
wall, and proceeded to fasten
on their skates, and enter



upon the business of the

Brownie makes the most of it.

afternoon.

The ice still held; but Uncle John had told the boys
that they must make the most of it through the day; for
the weather was moderating, and he feared that, by even-
102 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

ing, there would not be sufficient crust to bear them. I
thought to myself, as I glanced from the window from time
to time, that they really were making the most of it. So
swiftly their feet flew over the snow they seemed to be on
all sides of the house at once; and one would have thought
there were a hundred bright-eyed lads and lassies flying about
the knolls and hollows of old Clovernook farm, instead of
the number we knew to be actually there, and for the en-
tertainment of whose “inner man” my good Hannah and
I were laboring with all possible despatch.

“We never can feed ’em all,’ Hannah declared.

“There are only eighteen besides our boys,” said I; “and
we have loads of biscuits and cookies to fall back upon, if
the chicken and cake don’t hold out.”

I tried to speak encouragingly; for we had risen long,
long before daylight, Hannah and I, and had “stirred”
and “beaten” and cooked till we were ready to drop with
fatigue. I did not wish my faithful handmaid to give up
in despair when we were so near the end of. our toil; so,
as I have said, I tried to speak encouragingly. But I felt
somewhat appalled myself, when I reflected upon the healthy
appearance of our young guests, and upon the violent ex-
ercise they were taking; for, knowing the capacity of at
least one of our own boys’ stomachs, my tired brain would
keep multiplying that amount by twenty-one.

“T hope there will be enough,” said I.

“Yis, ye may hope it,” said Hannah dryly; “but all the
hopin’ in the wur-r-r-ld won’t make chicken enough to fill up
the insides o’ thim fellers out there.”


THE SKATING—PARTY. 103

At five o'clock Keith came to the kitchen window.

“How long before supper, Aunt Rachel? We're as hun-
gry as bears.”

This statement, combined with Hannah’s dismal fore-
bodings, caused my heart to sink still lower. “It will be
ready very soon, dear,’ I managed to say. Then I called
him back, to beg him to be very economical when the platter
of chicken should come his way, for I was so afraid it might
not hold out. “And try to whisper to Harold, too, to be
very light with the chicken,” I said.

Keith appreciated the gravity of the situation, and skated
off to warn Harold. As soon as it grew dark enough to
light the lamps we rang the bell for supper; and in the
young folks came, one after another, bashful, but smiling and
happy, and evidently “hungry as bears.”

I thought the table looked very pretty. It was bounti-
fully spread, with a great platter of cold chicken at one
end, and roast beef at the other, with quantities of biscuits ;
and a beautiful “floating island” in my grandfather’s im-
mense old punch-bowl; while pickles and cakes and tarts and
preserves in profusion filled up the spaces here and there.

There was not much trouble in seating the merry crowd.
They were like the man in one of Dickens’s stories; where

”

they “pecked” was not of so much consequence to them as
what they “pecked,” nor yet as how much they “ pecked.”
Down they sat; and though silence lasted for a few mo-
ments, until the first constraint had worn off, the eager
voices were soon raised, the nimble tongues were busy, and

the joyous laughs rang through the room.




104 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

Oh, how the food did fly! Peeping in through the
kitchen door, while Hannah passed the things about, I saw
that my worst fears were realized in regard to the chicken.
The platter was already empty, and Hannah was offering the
cold beef to each guest with a somewhat anxious expression
of countenance. She knew there was still another platter
of chicken in the kitchen, however; and in a minute she
rushed out with an empty dish in each hand, and slapping
them down on the table, grabbed up the chicken and a plate
of biscuits, and rushed back again without a word. And in
another moment Harold came out with a long face, and whis-
pered, ““O Auntie Ray, I forgot all you said, and took too
much chicken, because I was just starved; but it didn’t make
any difference, for it’s all gone now, and we haven't any of
us had half enough yet. Keith forgot, too, Aunt Rachel;
I saw him take four helpings.”

“Never mind!” said I; “there is still the cold ham from
yesterday’s dinner, and plenty of bread and butter. Run
back now.”

Here John came in from his work; and I set him to
slicing the ham, while I cut the bread. Hannah came out
and snatched them up before we had fairly done. “TI niver
see anything like it, mim,” she said this time.

I looked in again presently, and saw that everything
seemed to have vanished except one large cake; and Han-
nah was offering that with a stoical expression on her face,
as if she had reached a point where it had become a matter
of the utmost indifference to her whether her hands held
empty dishes or full ones—and still our young friends were
THE SKATING—PARTY. 105
eating. Talking, too, of course, but— first and before all
else —eating. When would they stop? “There are still
some baked apples and doughnuts in the pantry,’ I said
to John, and I got them out; and presently Hannah came
out and carried off those too. I think that last instalment
proved enough; at least, it was all there was left; and when
we reached a point where we could think of our own sup-
pers, John and I and our good Hannah sat down to a
cup of tea and a piece of bread and butter, thankful to get
that; for the house seemed stripped of everything, except the
flour-barrel and the vegetables and preserves in the cellar.

My husband’s prediction in regard to the weather proved
only too true. When the children rose from the supper-table
there was a rush for cloaks and caps and hoods; for “ there’s
no fun like skating,’ they all declared. But Uncle John
told them to put their heads out-of-doors a moment; there
was the sky all clouded over, and a light snow had already
begun to fall which would effectually put an end to all
sport in that direction. This day had not been so full of
sunshine and sparkle as the previous one; and we had real-
ized from the occasional falling of the icicles from the
trees that we could not look for any of the delights of the
last evening,—indeed, it was only too probable we might
never see anything like that again,—but we had all hoped
that it might remain cold enough for the children to skate
a while in the evening, as they seemed able to think of
nothing else. But it was not to be; and now “ What to
do?” became the all-absorbing question.

There was a roaring fire in the huge old fireplace in
106 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

the parlor, and I thought it would be pleasant for them
to gather about the hearth and amuse each other telling
stories, or playing quiet games; but this proposal did not
take the disappointed look from their faces. I glanced at
Harold, in the hope that his fertile brain might be able to
solve the difficulty, and I found that he was, as usual, about
to propose something; but he evidently wished to consult me
in private concerning it; he was, in fact, at that very moment
trying to catch my eye, and invite me, by somewhat frantic
pantomime, to step into the kitchen. When I had followed
him out and closed the door, he said, “Auntie Ray, why
wouldn’t it be a splendid idea to have an exhibition with
my magic lantern? I don’t believe one of them has ever
seen a magic lantern.”

“I think perhaps that is the very best thing you could
do,” I said; “but where could you have it?”

“Why not in the sittmg-room? I could arrange every-
thing for it there, while they were playing in the parlor;
and then invite them out, and not let them know a thing
about it beforehand.”

“That is a happy thought,’ I said; “and I think they
would all enjoy it. But what will you do before your ex-
hibition; for they do not seem to wish to sit in the parlor
and play quietly.”

“Oh, let us come out in the kitchen and make all the
noise we want to; that will suit us better than anything
else.”

So I said that, just as soon as Hannah could get the
work done, they should have the kitchen. It was a large
THE SKATING—PARTY. 107

room; and there they could romp and play to their hearts’
content, if they would not tear the house down.

In a very short time the kitchen was “ cleared up;”’ the
chairs were all placed ‘against the walls; the lamps put on
the shelves out of harm’s way; then the boys and girls
were invited out there, to “make a noise.”



Blindman’s Buff in the kitchen.

And well they did it! Such a babel of sounds had
never arisen within the walls of the old farmhouse, in our
day at least. John and I stood in the doorway for a time,
watching them rush about in Puss in the Corner and Blind-
man’s Buff. There was one very pretty little girl about ten
years old, with blue eyes and yellow curls, whom the boys
called Katie Grey; she seemed such a general favorite that
108 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

every boy in the room tried his best to catch her; the con-
sequence was that she had to be blindman nearly every
other time, which was rather hard upon the poor child,
though no doubt intended as a compliment. Besides, it made
it a little dull for. the other girls, who perhaps liked at-
tention from the opposite sex fully as much as did their
young lady sisters. It may have been for this reason that
the fun flagged a little; and it was quite a relief. to me
when there came a loud knock at the outer door, and who
should walk in but young Bob Battleford, who had come to
spend an evening with us in his usual neighborly fashion.
At once there was a shout from all the children, and a simul-
taneous rush upon him; for nearly all of them knew “ young
Bob.” He was one of those happily constituted individuals
who always make fun for everybody, and who do not care
in the least how absurd they make themselves, or what they
say, if they can only “git up a laugh.” The more of a clown
Bob could be, the better he liked it; the better, appar-
ently, his friends liked it too; so that there was always
plenty of merriment wherever his round jolly face, with its
httle twinkling light eyes, showed itself. Besides this, he
was the best-natured fellow in the world; no amount of
teasing or practical joking could ruffle his placid temper in
the least.

So now the fun began all over again; for young Bob
could not only play all the old games, but was able to in-
vent new ones, as occasion demanded, and the laughing and
shouting became louder than ever. Finally young Bob, in
one of his pauses to take breath and to wipe his heated
THE SKATING—PARTY. 109

brow, put his hand into his pocket for his handkerchief ;
when he drew forth that article, along with it, all snugly
ensconced in its folds, came a little pet tortoise of Keith’s,
which landed on Bob’s very nose, with its head and legs
dangling in a peculiarly helpless manner. Bob gave a jump
and a howl, half of real and half of pretended fright, and
started to chase Keith (who of course was the bad boy who had
put it there). Off they went, followed by the whole party,
behind the stove, over the chairs, out into the pantry, behind
the barrels, through to the woodshed, on top of the wood-
pile, till finally, the culprit being caught, and soundly and
uproariously thumped and thwacked, the noisy crowd returned
to the kitchen, of which the little tortoise and I had been,
for the time being, the sole possessors. Really I thought
the great old chimney itself must tumble down over our
heads, in all that din and clatter.

In the meantime, my poor husband had been sitting in
the parlor busily cracking a basketful of butternuts, that
being the only place in the house which afforded a chance
of peace and quietness; and I now asked Hannah to go into
the cellar, and bring up some apples. Harold about the same
time departed to the sitting-room to attend to his exhibition.
Amid all the fun and frolic in the kitchen his absence was
unnoticed. Suddenly, during a lull in the play, piercing
screams rose from the cellar. It was the voice of Brownie!
What could be the matter? I had supposed the child to
be playing with the others; but he was evidently in the
cellar, and something dreadful was the matter!

I rushed down the cellar stairs, and found Hannah in
110 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

the act of extricating poor little Brownie from the pork-
barrel !

The child was screaming at the top of his voice, as
Hannah raised him from the bottom of the barrel, and set
him on his feet. He was completely saturated with the
salt brine in which the pork was pickled; and the little
fellow stood with eyes shut up and hands outstretched, yell-
ing as hard as he could, while the salt water dripped in
great streams from eyes and nose and ears, and ran off his
clothing as if he had been dragged out of a lake.

Hannah was talking as fast as she could make the words,
and laying it off with her hands.

“Ye see, mim, it was loike this; I was a-comin’ down ter
the cellar. Wad Oi take him wid me? I would, sez Oi; an’
down we come. I was gittin’ me apples wid all spade, mim,
an’ the b’hy was a-helpin’; an’ he said, would Oi git some
greenin’s, an’ Oi tould him, mim, he might git the greenin’s
while Oi filled me pan wid thim red wans; an’ Oi tould
him where they was, mim. To the roight av the praties,
sez Oi, upon me soule Oi did, mim, an’ the young spalpeen
stips to the lift, mim—bad luck to him! am’ by raison av
his short legs, mim, he clim to the top av the bar’l o’
pork, an’ over he wint, mim, an’ yes’ll niver hear a thruer
wur-rd thin that, mim, till the day ye die.”

Here Hannah stopped to take breath, and Brownie’s screams
rose upon the air with redoubled ardor. But I noticed that
as Hannah kept on her story, Brownie’s cries had become
gradually weaker, and toward the end subsided entirely; in
fact, the young gentleman seemed to be listening to the
THE SKATING—PARTY. lll

recital with as much interest as anybody; so that when she
suddenly came to an end of her tale, and his yells again
pierced our ears, I was not much alarmed. Harold had come
flymg down the cellar stairs, and seemed quite frightened
about his brother, and begged him to speak to him.

“Walter! Walter! where are you hurt? Speak! speak,
‘can't you?”

But Brownie was having quite too good a time, amid
all the sympathy and interest he was creating, to speak, and
went on with his screaming. By this time I had ascertained
for myself that there were no broken bones; so, wrapping the
young hero in an old shawl, I had Hannah carry him up to
his room, where I soon had him arrayed in a fresh suit of
clothes, and he ran down-stairs as good as new. Such are
the ordinary experiences of a poor farmer’s wife with three
small boys.

When I followed Brownie down the stairs, I found that
Hannah had carried the apples and some dishes into the
parlor; and now the young people were all gathered about
the roomy hearth, merrily discussing the nuts and apples,
and chattering as briskly as ever.

Presently Harold appeared in the doorway, and with a
low bow and grand flourish, announced: “ Ladies and gen-
tlemen, this evening’s entertainment will close with a most
wonderful exhibition of rare and costly works of art. The
doors are now open, and everybody is invited to come at
once.”

This took the company quite by surprise, and with much
wonder in their faces they started up to follow Harold.
112 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

They found the sitting-room completely darkened, with drawn
curtains and closed blinds. There was no light except a
glimmer from a small lamp behind a sheet which had been
tacked across one corner of the room. Chairs had been
placed in rows at a suitable distance from this screen; on
these the wondering children now seated themselves, while
Harold proceeded to display the wonders of his magic lantern.

It was a very fine lantern, and many of the pictures were
truly beautiful. Harold had practised using it so often that
he was now very skilful in its management. As each view
was thrown upon the screen, he came out from his little
corner, and told his audience all about it in a very pleasant
and intelligible manner; and I felt quite proud that a boy
of his age could do so well. It is not too much to say that
our young guests received not only a great amount of pleas-
ure during the exhibition, but also some useful information.
Everything went off with great decorum, save for one or two
trifling exceptions. Once, in one of the “ waitings,” while we
were sitting in the dark, a horrible something seemed to rise
from the floor, in the very midst of the audience. It was
apparently a flaming skeleton. with a frightful death’s head
surmounting a bony framework of ribs and jointed arms and
legs. I judged at once that Master Keith had been whiling
away the pauses between the scenes in constructing this hor-
rible piece of anatomy, which was evidently a reminiscence
of some plate in his physiology; it had been drawn upon
his portable blackboard with a moistened match, and was
now reared aloft for our startled inspection as his part in the

performance.
THE SKATING—PARTY. 113

Of course the girls set up a little scream at the sight; for
it was truly a frightful object, appearing as it did in mid-
air, with no visible support.

Again, we were all gazing at a lovely representation of
Niagara Falls, when young Bob Battleford, from the outer
row of ‘chairs, suddenly exclaimed, “ Wal, if that don’t beat
all my first wi— Wough-h-h!” and jumped at least three
feet from his place, immediately beginning to rub himself, and
examine the cane bottom of his chair.

“Where's that young rascal that stuck that pin into
me?’ he demanded, indignant for once.

The young rascal had disappeared, however, almost before
Bob had known what hurt him; and now, if it had not been
for a muffied giggle coming from the folds of my skirt,
where he had crept for refuge, would have been effectually
concealed. It was our dear little Brownie, who had quite
forgotten the adventure of the pork-barrel an hour ago.

“ Wal,” said Bob, good-natured again, “I will not further
disturb the audience ;,but let him wait till I ketch him, that’s
all.”

In spite of these little outbreaks, the entertainment pro-
gressed very smoothly, and it was actually half-past ten when
the last picture was shown. Every one was astonished to find
how late it was, and there was a great scramble for cloaks
and tippets and caps. Then young Bob came forth with his
contribution to the success of the evening, which was a pro-
posal to “run over home and harness up Sal and Jerry to
dad’s old pung, and take ye all a good sleigh-ride home.”

This was delightful. In a few moments the pung was at


114 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

the door, and the happy boys and girls were climbing in
helter-skelter. Our boys went too, to see the last of them,
and to enjoy the ride. They all went off with merry
shouts, declaring that they had never had such a good time
in their lives; and we heard their joyous voices calling to
each other far down the lane.

Then, oh, what a forlorn, dismantled house for Aunt
Rachel and Hannah to put to rights! But never mind! to-
morrow was before us, and we had made some happy hearts
that night.

“Dear Auntie,” said the boys when they came home, “we
did have such a good time!”

*“T am very glad, my dears,’ said I; and I added, “I
hope there was enough supper, but I am almost afraid there
wasn't.”

“Oh, yes, there was,” said Harold. ‘We had oceans of
supper: we had more than we could eat.”

“Did you have enough, Keith?” I asked. .

“T should have liked some more chicken,” said Keith
gravely.




RUDOLF COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 115

CHAPTER VIII.
RUDOLF COMES TO CLOVERNOOK.

Many pleasant doings and happenings occurred at Clover-
nook during the months that followed. Pleasant for the
young people, at least; though it must be said that their
elders, through these weary days, experienced many keen dis-
appointments and trials. We were trying to be patient during
the enforced idleness of the winter, in the hope that the new
year’s crops might do much to retrieve our shattered fortunes ;
we were trying to keep up stout hearts, and to look for the
best. But it did not conduce to this enviable condition of mind
to learn, on one bitter cold morning, that the violent wind of
the night before had blown off the roof of our new, partially
finished henhouse; or that, a few weeks later, our very best
Jersey cow had managed to get an apple lodged in her throat,
and had choked to death in consequence. Of course, such oc-
currences were severe blows to us who were already burdened
with debt and anxiety; but we said little about our own
troubles to the children, and endeavored to be as brave as
possible, and to make them happy at all events.

Thus the days passed on until the middle of May had come.
The snow had long disappeared, and everywhere underfoot
little tender young things were springing up. By the way-
sides the pussy-willows and the alders were in bloom, and tiny
116 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

rivulets at their feet ran sparkling in the sunlight. Off across
the woods, as we gazed toward the far-away Wachusett, were
a thousand different shades of green, where the young leaves
had started forth in all their delicate spring livery; and yel-
low and blue and gray and pink were there, combined with
the dark, sombre hues of pine and brown of oak. Who says
that spring cannot boast as varied colors as autumn himself?
To my mind the tints are far more delicately beautiful, if
not so rich and gorgeous. Nearer home the blossoms on
the apple-trees were beginning to show. The lilacs and _ sy-
ringas would be in bloom the next week. The bluebirds and
robins were flying about, inspecting various “ desirable locali-
ties,’ with a view to future homes; and thousands of butter-
flies and bees were hovering over the blossoms in the soft
spring air. Down in the woods the boys were gathering rho-
doras, filling their little tin pails with the bright red checker-
berries, or hunting around the old logs and stumps for early
bugs and beetles.

It was on one of the pleasantest days of this pleasant time’
that our good old horse, Charlie, and I were wending our way
homeward from town. We often took this journey together,
as occasion for the replenishing of the household furnishings
or of the family wardrobes might arise. It was a duty which
I think we both liked to perform. I, because the drive
through the lovely woodland roads was so restful and so
soothing to my tired nerves; and Charlie, I used to think,
because it gave him opportunities for quiet and pensive reflec-
tion as he slowly plodded on. He knew his mistress well, and
thoroughly understood that under her mild system of “ chir-
RUDOLF COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 117

rupings”” and “ gee-upings”’ and repeated pullings of the lines,
no self-respecting horse, unless he so inclined, would feel justi-
fied in advancing at a pace beyond a walk, or at most a
brief and gentle trot. Accordingly, our usual mode of pro-
gression was characterized by much dignity and thoughtful
contemplation; and, as it suited us both very well, what differ-
ence did it make if we spent all the morning upon the trip,
when John or Patrick would have made old Charlie’s hoofs
fly to town and back in one-third of the time?

We were proceeding along in this leisurely manner when
we came to a sudden curve in the road, which here lay
_ through a piece of deep woods. Suddenly I was startled by
the figure of a little boy seated near the wayside. It might,
of course, have been no unusual thing to see a child resting
himself in the woods; but there was something so lonely and
pitiful in this boy’s attitude that I looked at him closely.

It struck me that I had seen his face before; and in a
moment I recalled where it had been.
Harold had been to town with me; and there, in the main
street, we had seen some strolling musicians, with harp,
violins, and several other instruments, playing before one of
the shops. We had both remarked the sorrowful look of a
young boy with them, who seemed to be about the age of
Harold, and who gazed at us as we sat in the carriage
with a very wistful expression in his large gray eyes. I was
sure this was the same boy; and I wondered why he should
now be separated from his companions, and sitting alone in
these woods, with such a despairing look on his young face.

I stopped the horse, and called him to me. He lifted a violin-
118 , TIE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

case from the ground near him, and touched his little ragged
cap as he came and stood beside me. He hastily drew the
back of his hand across his eyes, and I could see where recent
tears had made great furrows down the dirty cheeks.

“What is the matter, little boy? Why do you sit here all
alone?” I asked.

If I had not supposed him to be a foreigner before, I
should have known it
now, although it was
with only a slight accent
that he spoke our tongue,
and with a precision and
correctness I would not
have looked for.

“T am very tired,
lady,” he said. .

“And where are you

going when you are



rested ?”’

NSD De
“A little boy seated by the wayside.”

He shook his head
sadly. ‘I do not know
where it is that I shall go. I wish I could tell where to go.”

“But where are your friends?” I asked.

“JT have not any friends, lady ; not any friends left now.”

And then he told me how he had been with the strolling
players I had seen. How they had tramped from New York
to Boston, and now were on their way to Worcester. How
they were cruel to him. He turned up his ragged shirt
sleeve, and showed me the purple marks where they had
RUDOLF COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. aS

lately beaten his poor arms. Often they had forced him to
follow them about the country when he was so tired and
hungry that he dropped by the way. He had borne it
as long as he could, not knowing what else to do; but the
night before they had all lain in an empty barn in the coun-
try, and he had been near the door; and while he lay awake
and looking out at the stars, and the men were all asleep
around him, something seemed to tell him to get up softly
and steal out, and run, run, run as fast as his feet could
carry him till he was far away. And now he would never
go back to them; but he could not tell what else to do.

Poor boy! poor boy! He was ragged and dirty and
tired and hungry; but there was something about his face
that seemed to reach my heart. Some persons might have
thought he was imposing upon me; but no one could have
said that had they seen the truthful look in the large, pathetic
eyes, as they gazed straight into my own, or had they noted,
as I did, the quiver of the sensitive lips and the trembling of
the grimy little hand which held the violin. It seemed to
me that he was no common tramp. His correct speech, his
natural grace of manner, the frank readiness with which he
told his simple tale, impressed me with the feeling that the
poor child had “known better days,’ as we say; probably
there was a story in his past, and a sorrowful one.

“What is your name, my boy?” I asked.

“Rudolf Eulenstein,” he replied.

“You are German?” I said.

’

“Yes, lady, I am German,’ he answered, with a little

touch of pride.
120 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

“And are your father and mother living ?”’

“Nein! nein! Mein vater is dead! Mein vater is
dead!” he cried out suddenly; and, putting his violin before
his face, he burst into heavy sobs.

“Oh, my poor boy!” I exclaimed. “Get right into the
carriage, and come with me. Get up beside me, and you
shall come with me. You shall tell me more by and _ by.
And do not cry any more. We will see what can be done.”
My heart had suddenly opened to this poor orphaned boy; and
I felt that I must do something for him in his sore need,
though what I hardly knew. We could do little for others
who were ourselves often in such straits. But at least he
should go home with me, and have a good dinner and the
bath he so greatly needed; and I remembered a discarded
suit of Harold’s which I knew would be gladly donated by
its owner to this stray waif. The boy had clambered beside
me, and had again wiped away his tears with the dirty brown
hand, and now sat silent. Then he glanced shyly into my
face, and finally said, “ You are very good to me, lady.”

“T want to be good to you, my child, but I hardly know
what I can do. We must see what can be done. The first
thing is to get some dinner. I suppose you are very hungry ?”

“A little, lady.”

“When did you eat last?”

“Not since yesterday, at noon.”

“Oh, my poor boy! And now it is nearly noon again.
Well, that shall soon be remedied.” And I applied a mild
touch of the whip to Charlie, who started up quite briskly
for him, I suppose at the mention of dinner.


RUDOLF COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 121

As we went along, Rudolf told me more of his story. His
father, whose name he could not speak without tears, had
died a year ago. He was very poor before he died, but that
was because his cough was so bad, and he had been sick so
long; before that they had done very well. ‘And oh, lady,
I was so happy with my father! But that is all gone now,”
he said sadly.

His father had been a first violin in an orchestra in New
York; and though they had been poor, they had never known
want until his father grew weak and ill with his bad cough.
Then he had died; and one of his friends in the orchestra
had said he would take care of Rudolf as well as he could.
So, after the father was gone, Rudolf lived for a time with
this man; and then he, too, suddenly died, and there was
nobody left for the child to look to. He had done what he
could to support himself with his violin, and in one way and
another, in the streets of New York; finally he had joined
these strolling players, because they had promised him more
money than he had earned in any other way. But they
had never given him anything except the scanty food left
from their own meals; and whenever he tried to leave them
they threatened to kill him. So he had stayed on as long
as he could.

This was his simple story, and told with such quiet sad-
ness that the tears filled my own eyes as I listened.

“ But your mother,” I said; “what of her? She is dead
too?”

“Yes, lady; meine mutter is dead too.”

“You were not born in this country, Rudolf?”


122 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

“No, lady; I was a very little child when mein vater did
bring me to America.”

* And your mother was not living then?”

“Oh, no; meine mutter was not living then. It was when
I was very little that meine mutter was not living. But I
know meine mutter,’ he added softly. “I have her picture
here,’ and he put his hand upon his breast.

“You have her picture?”

“ Yes, lady. Mein vater did give it to me before he died,
and said never to let it go. And I never will,’ he said
firmly. ‘And he did give to me his own dear violin too ;
and I will never let it go. And no one shall take it from
me,” he added, while his gray eyes suddenly flashed, and he
hugged the green case to him. I could easily imagine that
the attempt had been made to defraud the poor boy of his
father’s parting gift, and I was glad that it had failed.

We were now nearly at home. As old Charlie turned
into the lane, who should spring out upon us from the wooded
roadside but three young Indian braves, decked out in all
their war-paint and feathers, with leather leggings and bead
moccasins, and spears and arrows sticking out in all direc-
tions.

They gave a fierce “ Whoop!” and tore down upon us
in what would have been, no doubt, a very frightful manner,
if old Charlie and I had not been by this time quite accus-
tomed to the sight. I knew these same young Indians well,
and had even now already prepared in my mind a certain
lecture to deliver to the little fat Indian who brought up the
rear, because of a stone which I had seen thrown from a


RUDOLF COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 123

sling-shot, held in a small brown hand, against my bedroom
window just as I started on my drive that morning.

Charley also knew them well; and, after a momentary
start and pricking up of the ears, turned his head in their
direction for an instant, and scornfully gave his mane a toss,
and plodded on as calmly as usual. But Rudolf was really
startled for the moment, and looked at the young savages
with very large eyes. He was not one whit more startled
than they, however, when they saw a strange boy in the car-
riage, sitting beside me. They ceased to yell and brandish
their tomahawks, and stood still, actually staring, with their
mouths wide open, like any backwoods urchins, as we passed on.

“Those are my boys,” I said, turning to Rudolf.

“Are they, lady?” he made answer. And in a moment
he added, “They are very happy.” There was something so
wistful in the tone and look as he said it, that it brought
the tears to my eyes again.

I was now conscious that “my boys” were hanging to
the back of the carriage, making old Charlie drag them up
the hill. They had evidently determined to be home as soon
as we, and find out what all this meant.

“ Boys,” I said when I alighted from the carriage, and they
stood around me in silence, “ this is a poor little boy whom I
found sitting in the woods, tired and footsore and hungry.
He has had a great deal of trouble, and I wish you to be
kind to him, and keep him here while I get some dinner for
him at once.” So I hurried away, and in five minutes I had
him seated at the kitchen table with a substantial plate of

food before him. Then I went for John.
124 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

“Dear John,” I said, after I had told him all I knew
of the poor child’s history, “do you not think we can afford
to keep him, for a time at least? He seems so honest, and
he has had such a hard time. I should so like to help
him.”

“But how can we, Rachel?” said my husband disconso-
lately. “He is too young to be of any real service, and he
will simply be one more to feed and one more to clothe.”

“T know it,” I said; and turned sadly away, for I could
not urge the matter upon my husband, who was already
burdened with so many cares. But the child, with his truth-
ful face and his winning way, had entered my heart, and I
could not put him out. How could I send him away? and
there was no one whom we thought would be willing to
take so young a boy on a farm.

John saw the disappointment in my face; and, besides, he
was too tender-hearted himself to bear to think of another
in distress.

“You would hate to have me say ‘No,’ Rachel,” he said.

“T know we can’t afford to keep him, John; and yet
it seems as if he were sent to us. Perhaps we can keep
him for a time,” I said.

“Yes; and if we keep him for a time, you will set your
heart upon him so, you can never let him go. I know you,
Rachel.”

“ And I know you too, John,” I said; for John was very
soft-hearted, and I was sure would be as sorry as I could
be to turn the little wayfarer from our door.

Well, the upshot of it all was that we decided to keep




RUDOLF COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 125

Rudolf with us until some better prospect for his disposal
should present itself; and I went back to my boys— now
four in number.

I found that Rudolf had eaten a good dinner, and was
looking brighter. The other boys were standing outside the
window, still in their Indian rig, asking him questions in
their friendly boy-fashion, which he answered readily, if with
some shyness, gravely regarding their peculiar costumes mean-
while. While Hannah was getting our own dinner ready,
I found Harold’s cast-aside suit of clothes, which the dear
boy was very glad to give to the stranger; then, taking
Rudolf to Keith’s little chamber, and laying the suit, with
some fresh, clean underwear, on the bed, I told him to take
a good bath, and see how clean and pure he could make
himself, and then to put on the good clothes and come down
to us.

The poor child smiled for the first time; and such a
bright, sunshiny look it sent all over his face, dirty as it
was. ‘Lady, I will like to do it,” he said. “Ich danke
Ihnen, good lady.”

I laid my hand upon his head. “You are a good boy,
Rudolf, are you not?” I asked.

“Mein vater did make me promise, and I do try to keep
my promise,” he said resolutely; “but there is no one to
care now,” he added sadly.

“But I will care,” I said; “ and I will help you all I
can. We will see what we can do. But now get ready and
come down-stairs as soon as you can.” And I descended

to the dining-room.


126 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

I found the family gathered around the table, and the
three children very curious about the new boy.

“Will he live here with us?” asked Keith, after I had
told them all his story, so far as I knew it myself.

* Yes,’ I answered; “for a little time at least; so we
must all be good to him, and make up to him for what
he has lost. I know all three of my boys are such true
gentlemen they will not let him feel humiliated by the dif-
ference between his lot and theirs. I know that, if he behaves
like a good boy, you will treat him like one. And there must
be none of the feeling that ‘I am better than thou’ among
us here at Clovernook, just because thus far our paths in
life have been brighter and smoother than his. I shall put
the cot-bed in Keith’s room, and he can sleep there; and I
think, dear John, he should share the children’s studies; do
not you?”

“Oh, yes, certainly,” said John good-naturedly. “I shall
soon have the largest school in town, if not the best, at
the rate we are increasing now. And is the new boy to
be simply ornamental, or do you propose to have him do
anything in the way of labor?”

“Of course he ought to help you, John, if there is any-
thing he can do. But he is quite a little boy, you know.”

“There are plenty of things he can do,” returned John.
“He can drop corn, and help plant the potatoes, and ride
the horse while we finish the ploughing, and take the cows
to pasture, and go for them at night; he can hunt for eggs,
and by and by he can pick berries, and do a hundred other
things.”
RUDOLF COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 127

“But, Uncle John,” broke in Keith, “I thought I was to
do all those things.”

“JT thought so too,” said his uncle; “but somehow they
don’t seem to get done. What do you suppose can be the
reason ?”’ he asked with a smile. “ Pat and I have had to
‘do everything for the last week.”

Keith looked a little abashed. “The fact is, Uncle Jolin,”
he said, “I have had so much to do lately I haven’t had
time; or else I’ve forgotten it.”

“You have been too busy since the frogs came, I sup-
pose,’ said his uncle good-naturedly.

Keith looked a little ashamed; for it was a well-known
fact that he was devoting lis entire time out of school-hours
to the study of frogs and their habits. “But I do mean to
help, Uncle John.” he said eagerly.

“Qh, it is all right!” said his uncle. “Of course, if you
were a year or two older, I should make you help me; but,
as it is, you are only a little fellow yet. But there is enough
for you and the new boy too,” he added. “I shall be glad
of all the help I can get for a time now.”

“And I shall help too, Uncle John,” said Brownie, with
his mouth full of apple dumpling.

“You!” said Uncle John; “pray, what could you do?”

“JT can ride the horse just as well as Keith can.”

Uncle John laughed. ‘We'd have to put you across the
horse’s neck, then. Your legs are too short to hold on any-
where else.”’

“Yes,” said Harold; “the idea of Tumble-bug trying to
ride astride a horse!” (The children called each other by the


———————

-*Tumble-bug;’’ and Harold was “ Lazy-bones,’

128 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

queerest nicknames. Keith was “ Fraid-cat;’’ Brownie was
* because he
hated to get up in the morning, and liked to read all day,
lying on the floor with his legs waving in the air, when the
other boys particularly desired his company out-of-doors.)

At this point the door slowly opened, and Rudolf stood
there shyly upon the threshold, evidently not knowing what
to do next. Really, what a change soap and water and fresh,
clean clothes had wrought upon the child! I had felt drawn
to him from the first by some charm of face and manner, I
scarcely knew what; but I did not expect to find him trans-
formed all at once into such a beautiful boy. For he cer-
tainly was beautiful. Not one of the other boys— neither
our own Keith, nor Harold or Walter Pembroke — could
boast such a broad and noble brow, such deep, earnest gray
eyes, such firm and delicately chiselled lips, such an air of
thought and intellect pervading all his features.

He was a little taller than Harold, I found, and more
broadly built, but well formed, from the head poised so firmly
and even proudly upon his sturdy shoulders, to the tips of |
his long and tapering fingers, and slender, high-arched feet.
Looking upon the child as he stood in the doorway now, I
did not see how he could have sprung from poor or ignorant
parents; for if appearances ever tell us anything, surely the
mark of patrician was stamped upon his whole face and
form. ‘I wonder who he can be?” I said to myself. But
I never doubted from that moment that he had been “born
to better things,’ though I feared that neither he nor we
might ever know what those better things had been.
RUDOLF COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 129

My husband now called Rudolf to him. The child came
somewhat bashfully, and stood beside his chair. John held
one end of his “snake” out for him to take. Rudolf looked
puzzled enough as he held it in his hand, until I showed him
how to place it to his lips and speak into it. Perhaps he
had thought it some kind of musical instrument; however
that may be, when I taught him how to use it he gave me
a bright little nod, and, turning to John, stood looking into
his face gravely, as if fully prepared to sustain his part in
the coming conversation.

“Would you like to live with us on this farm for a time,
my boy?” asked my husband. ~

“Qh, yes, sir!”’ he said eagerly, and his face quite lighted
up.

“But you will have to do your share of the work, you
know. You have never been on a farm before, of course?”

‘“Nein; but oh, I would like to be here! Please, sir, I
will work hard. But I do not know how to do any thing,”
he added, his face clouding a little.

“Well, never mind! This boy will show you what to
do, and how to do it,” said my husband in his kind, off-
hand wav; and he put his arm around Keith’s shoulder, and
drew him near the other boy. “You must be a good boy,
Rudolf,” he said; ‘just do as you are told, and we will try
to help you along. Keith, you bring him out to the barn by
and by. We'll find something to do, never fear.’ And then
he hastened off to his work, for it was a busy time just then.

Keith felt himself, in a manner, constituted the new

boy’s “guide, counsellor, and familiar friend,” as the saying
130 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

is. He assumed such an air of importance as he led him
out-of-doors, that. Harold and Brownie felt quite disgusted.
Harold immediately took Brownie by the arm, and led him
off in the opposite direction, elaborately explaining where the
barn was, the situation of the new henhouse, and all about
what the hotbeds were, and so on—all done with a great
deal of mincing and strutting, and many glances of derision
in Keith’s direction. He pretended not to see anything of
the performance, but went on placidly showing the beauties
of Clovernook farm to the newcomer; and about five o’clock
I saw the two wending their way up the lane, driving the
cows before them. \

They were talking together as if they had always known
each other; and it made me feel quite happy, for I had
indeed taken the new boy to my heart. The more I thought
of his sad little story, the more it seemed to me that he had
really been sent to me; and I determined that I would do
what I could to make up to him for the loss of both father
and mother, whoever they might have been.

That night, when I gave my boys their good-night kisses,
and saw them safely tucked into their beds, I put my arm
around him, and kissed him too. Why should I not? And
he looked up into my face with a loving gaze, and said, “ Ich
danke Ihnen. dear lady.”
AUNT RACHEL LOSES HER BOYS, AND FINDS THEM. 131

CHAPTER IX.
AUNT RACHEL LOSES HER BOYS, AND FINDS THEM.

I am glad to be able to say that the three boys, Harold,
Keith, and Brownie, were very kind to “ Aunt Rachel’s new
boy,” as they called Rudolf. I think that what I had told
them of his sad story had made a deep impression on their
minds. Then, too, they were generous-hearted, right-thinking
boys, and had little of that feeling so common, alas, among
many older, if not wiser people, that men are to be judged
by position, appearance, and dress, instead of true worth.
Within a day or two, therefore, they were not only thor-
oughly acquainted with the newcomer, but were all appar-
ently the warmest of friends. No doubt Rudolf had told
the others all that had ever happened to him in the course
of his short life; while they, in return, had given him a full
and complete history of all their sayings and doings from
the time of their earliest remembrance.

Rudolf rose long before the others, and cheerfully accom-
panied my husband and Patrick to the barn, where he per-

’

formed the “chores” given to him to do faithfully and well.
At school-time he was always the first one in the little three-
cornered room, ready for lessons, with an eager, happy look
upon his beautiful young face that it did my heart good to

see. He was a few months older than Harold, but not nearly
132 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

so far advanced in his studies; although it was evident that
he had been well taught to a certain point. In fact, he
told me that his dear father had always heard his lessons,
until he had become so weak he could do so no longer. My
husband classed him with Keith at first; but I am sorry to
have to say that young gentleman’s lack of application still
continued a great stumbling-block to him, and Rudolf soon
left him far behind; though, after all, I was often convinced
that it was not so much the love of study which prompted
him to do his best, as the desire to please his teacher, whom
he learned to look upon with warm and grateful affection.

For only one study, it may truly be said, did he manifest
any unusual ardor; that was music. Music was his passion,
as I imagined it had been his father’s before him. It was
wonderful to me what lovely tones he could draw from that
precious violin of his. Perhaps I was no fitting judge, but
it seemed to me that the child was already an artist. It
was not that he played commonplace music well, — though
he could play anything he had ever heard, and cheerfully
did so when any one asked for a favorite “ tune,’ — but
his heart was in what he called his music. I shall never
forget how softly and sweetly the notes of Schubert’s “Sere-
nade” stole on my wondering ears the first time he ever
played to us. My heart opened still wider to the dear boy;
for I am one who may be said to have been born hungry
for music, and hitherto in all my life there had been but
scant opportunity to satisfy my craving.

How beautiful the child’s countenance became as he lost

all thought of time or place, while he played on, wrapped in




“‘What lovely tones he could draw from that precious violin.”
AUNT RACHEL LOSES HER BOYS, AND FINDS THEM. 135

the lovely thoughts and fancies his music brought to him!
As I gazed upon him, I longed to be able to clear from his
path all the brush and brambles which might block the way
that should lead him on to fame. It seemed to me that the

child really had genius, and needed only a helping hand to
' place him among the great ones of earth.

But these were foolish fancies on my part; and I could
not, if I would, indulge them. You will readily see, though,
how dear this child of my heart became to me day by day,
and how I could even now scarcely endure the thought of
parting with him.

I may say, with truth, that the boy had grown to love
me too. Little by little, he opened his heart to me. What
‘wonder, then, if I learned that I myself held some space there,
when the dear father, so deeply loved, so greatly needed, had
been thus early taken from him, and of his mother all that
remained was the pictured face he treasured so tenderly ?
What wonder, I say, that he, who could not remember his own
dear mother, should have given me, in a certain sense, her
place in his heart? I prayed to the Father of us all that I
might never disappoint him; that I might never fail to act
the part of the mother I could not be in reality.

There had been a little question about what he should call
me. At first he said “ lady,” and sometimes “my own lady ;””
but soon I told him to call me ‘‘ Aunt Rachel,” as the others
did. And this he finally learned to do, though in a shy
fashion at first. “Rachel” was a difficult word for him to
pronounce, however, and the boys laughed at his funny way
of saying “ Aunt Ra-tel.” But my husband, of whom he still
136 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK,.

stood a little in awe (though I can hardly tell why, for Jolin

>

was always kind to him), he called “ Mr. At-terton,” as at first.

In one of our very earliest conversations Rudolf showed me
a locket, which he unclasped from his neck, where he always
wore it, concealed beneath his shirt. It was a plain wooden
case, evidently whittled by some not particularly skilful hand
from a small block of wood. It fastened with a clasp, how-
ever; upon pressing this clasp it flew open, and disclosed a
very sweet girlish face, with a bright, happy expression, and
Rudolf’s own truthful glance in the gray eyes.

“That is meine mutter, Aunt Ra-tel.” Rudolf spoke Eng-
lish correctly, and, in fact, quite precisely, as I think I have
said before ; but sometimes in moments of feeling he resorted
to his own native tongue. “It is meine mutter,” he said
with tender pride.

“My dear, what a pretty mother!’ I said. “What a
lovely, sweet-faced mother!’ For truly it was a very win-
ning countenance.

“Ts not it, Aunt Ra-tel?’’ he responded; and he put the
little case to his lips.

“Can you not remember her at all, Rudolf?”

“Oh, no. But sometimes mein vater did speak of her;
but not too much —oh, not too much, for it made him sad.
But I did love what he would say to me of meine mutter.”

“Do you know where she lived, Rudolf?”

“Nein; I do not know that. Of course it was in vater-
land ; for we are Germans,” he said proudly. . |

“But did your father never speak to you of your old
home in the fatherland?”
AUNT RACHEL LOSES HER BOYS, AND FINDS THEM. le

Qo
~~

‘“No; mein vater did never tell me where we lived. He
would tell me of what he did when he was a little one like
me, but he did never tell me of where we lived or what we
did when I was little. That is strange, Aunt Ra-tel, is it not
so?” he said after a little pause, and with a puzzled look on
his face.

I thought it was strange, though I said nothing. But it
was always so. Often the boy would tell me of his father’s
merry boyhood, and of the great gray house and the beautiful
green fields his father had described to him, but never a word
of what had happened when he himself was very small. All
he knew was that his mother had died when he was a baby,
that his father had brought him to America when he was
four years old, that they had lived together, and that his
father had done everything for him and taken good care of
him, till he died. Then the hot tears would always come; and
I would clasp him in my arms and bid him not to mind it
so much, that I trusted there were many happy days in store
for my dear boy yet.

“And, O Aunt Ra-tel, could you have heard mein own
dear vater play on his violin! O Aunt Ra-tel, you like my
music, but what would you have said to hear that! Oh, I was
too happy when mein vater was with his violin!”

I did not doubt it. I saw his father’s picture too. It was
a photograph a good deal worn by being so constantly car-
ried near his son’s heart. It showed the face of a thoughtful,
_ intellectual man, with a broad, noble brow, a firmly cut mouth,
and, though not so beautiful a countenance as Rudolf’s, resem-
bling it closely in feature and expression. There was upon
138 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

it, however, a look of deep, and, indeed, almost hopeless sad-
ness, which I hoped his son might never wear. I wondered
what great sorrow had brought it there; there seemed some-
thing so mysterious about the man and his whole life.

Thus Rudolf had, through all his adventurous life, kept
his father’s precious violin and his father’s and mother’s
pictures. “And they shall never leave me while I live,
Aunt Ra-tel,’ he said. Then he added, as he gazed upon
his mother’s face again, “I can remember when her face
was in a beautiful gold case, and it had round it bright,
shining stones, which my father said were diamonds and
emeralds. It was so pretty that I loved to look at it; but
by and by my father did take it out and put it in this
case, that he made with his knife, and I did never see the
beautiful gold one again.”

“ Don’t you know what became of it, dear?”

“No, Aunt Ra-tel; but mein vater was very sad that
day, and he was gone away quite long; and when he came
back to me he had bread and meat, and some good milk
for me, and some shoes too. JI remember them well; they
were the last I ever had till I did come to you, Aunt Ra-
tel. And mein vater was not with me long after that.”

Poor boy and poor father! I understood it all so well!
Ah! what a sorrowful story was here, if I could have had
the beginning as well as this sad end. I longed to know
it for the child’s sake.

So Rudolf grew into his own place in our home and
hearts, and in a month’s time it was as if he had always
been with us. The four boys had their little quarrels and
AUNT RACHEL LOSES HER BOYS, AND FINDS THEM. 139

their “making ups,’ but they were, upon the whole, very
friendly and happy together, as healthy, right-minded boys
will be; for there was nothing bad about any of my boys.
The time sped away very merrily for them, if somewhat
sadly for us, and now it was the latter part of June.

If you had come to our farm upon a certain lovely Sat-
urday about this time, you would have seen that something
of a very unusual nature had transpired. You would have
beheld my husband walking swiftly down the lane, and peer-
ing into the bushes on either side, calling, and anxiously
listening. You would have seen Hannah running about the
barn and hen-houses, frantically searching for something; and
Patrick, down in the small “blueberry pasture,” hallooing
and yelling at the top of his voice, “B’ys! O b’ys! where
air ye, b’ys!” while I was rushing from room to room, from
closet to closet, searching under beds, behind boxes and
trunks in the attic, in the cubby-holes behind the great chim-
ney, everywhere in the house, and fairly wringing my hands
in dismay. Every one of my dear boys had disappeared, and
could not be found anywhere about the house or grounds!

Again and again we had hunted in every possible spot,
thinking they might be hiding from us for the fun of the
thing, but nowhere could we find them; and though we still
kept going over the same places to look, it was because we
were so distracted by anxiety that we hardly knew what we
were doing. Such a thing as that any one of them should
be absent from the dinner-table when the hour of noon came
round had never happened in all our knowledge of them
heretofore; and here it was four in the afternoon! They
140 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

had vanished utterly, leaving no clew behind them. At
first we had not been alarmed, thinking that they might have
gone off for a long tramp, though it was unlike them to
say nothing to me of their plans. The fact remained, how-
ever, that they were gone; and I assure you that we were
a very anxious set of people when we four at length as-
sembled in the kitchen, and acknowledged that our boys must
be lost.

We tried to think where we had seen them last. My
husband and Patrick had been hoeing the young corn off
by the blackberry patch; neither one of them had “set an
oiye on ayther av the rogues since airly morn, be jabbers!”
as Pat expressed it. Hannah had been churning the cream
in the cellar. ‘An’ ye know yerself, mim, it was that long
a-comin’ it took me three good hours ter bring it, upon me
loife it did, mim; an’ not a peep have Oi had. at all, at
all, av any one av thim since they ate their mate in the
mornin, mim; an’ it’s tellin’ ye the blissed truth Oi am,
mim.” And Hannah wiped her eyes, for she loved the boys,
every one of them.

Then I began to think, as well as I could in my flut-
tered condition, where I had seen them last. Directly after
breakfast Keith and Brownie had sat upon the kitchen door-
step administering necessary discipline to their favorite cats,
‘Madame Double-toes”’ and “ Twenty-two Toes,” her daughter
(thus named from a superabundance of the weapons with
which the feline race is usually blessed), because one or the
other had devoured a poor little lately-hatched duck, whose
yellow head and bill and one webbed foot lay on the door-


AUNT RACHEL LOSES HER BOYS, AND FINDS THEM. 141

step. At the the same time Harold and Rudolf were sitting
upon the stone wall under the old maple-tree, laughing at
Sandy, who was performing some very funny antics in his
attempts to adorn himself with some bright-colored ravellings
from a carpet which had been spread upon the grass near by.
He was trying to wind them about his neck, and would
twist himself into all sorts of attitudes in order to put them
exactly where he wished to have them lie, choosing espe-
cially all the yellow ones he could find, evidently preferring
them to any others. It was funny to see him, and I stood
in the doorway myself and laughed with the boys as I



Out of the Frog-pond.

watched him. One hour later I had neard a great “ boo-
hooing” out-of-doors, and, rushing to the porch, was just im
time to see Brownie turn into the carriage-road from the
lane, with his hands outstretched at his sides, his mouth
wide open, so that nothing of his face was visible except a
wrinkled red rim surmounted by some raven locks. He was
screaming with all his might, and was covered from head
to toe with nasty green slime and mud from the frog-pond.
Keith, who accompanied him, was in nearly as bad a plight,
142 ‘ THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

for he had been obliged to jump intc the water himself in
order to fish poor Brownie out; that young gentleman, with
his usual devotion to the study of frogs and tadpoles, having
suddenly dropped off the stone wall while pursuing his
researches, and submerged himself at the bottom of the pond,
possibly with a view to further increasing his knowledge by
a closer sojourn among the objects of his investigations.

As this was not an uncommon occurrence I was not
alarmed; but taking both children to an old wardrobe in the
woodshed, where I kept some of their clothing for just such
emergencies, I first put them into a wash-tub, and then
dressed them, giving each one some very plain and emphatic
words of admonition during the process; then I sent them
on their way in search of further adventures.

About ten o'clock they had been out under the old pine-
tree on the north side of the house playing “circus.” They
were vaulting with poles, and tumbling about a_ horizontal
bar which had been erected under the tree. Harold was per-
forming at the moment, and Keith and Rudolf stood in the
shade awaiting their turn. The band of music was sitting
aloft on one of the long lower branches of the pine. It con-
sisted of Brownie, and of Brownie alone, with his old tin
funnel. Indeed, it may be said that Brownie was a whole
brass band in himself. Never have I known such a pair
of lungs, or such a volume of sound to come from so small
a body. And when the sound was poured through the tube
of the tin funnel, the effect was simply tremendous. He was
perched up in the tree now,—though I do not see how he
could have got there unless he had been “boosted” up, —


AUNT RACHEL LOSES HER BOYS, AND FINDS THEM. 143

with his funnel in one hand and a drumstick in the other,
beating a dilapidated old drum; and he was whanging out
“ Marching through Georgia’ through the funnel, in a man-
“ner which might be termed truly soul-stirring, if not soul-
inspiring.

Since that time I was sure that I had not seen any of the
four. Could anything dreadful have happened? Could they
have walked to the little lake four miles off and fallen in?
They had never gone away from home for any length of time
without telling me about it, and I could not believe it pos-
sible they had done so now. I was nearly ill with this cruel
suspense.

Hannah, who had left the kitchen, now came back, say-
ing, “ Missus, there’s a foine lot avy me_ yisterday’s bakin’
gone from me pantry. Two whole apple-poies, upon me
soul, an’ me pan o’ frish cookies, an’ the hunk o’ roast beef
lift from the yisterday’s dinner. What’ll yes be afther
sayin’ ter that, mim? The spalpeens have got it, praise the
saints, mim. Did yes iver see the loike now av that, mim?”

“They must be in the woods somewhere playing ‘< In-
dian,” I said in haste. “Perhaps they have been building
a new hut somewhere.” (For I knew the old wigwam was
still in the blueberry pasture, and I had seen them down
there only the day before.) “Run! run!” said I to John
and Patrick, “and search the woods again; they must have
lost themselves.”

“No,” said John; “this looks as if they had gone off
with the intention of staying all day, and probably they will
come home when they have eaten up their provisions. I
144 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

must say I think they laid in a goodly supply. This is a
new departure indeed, that they should take to robbing the
pantry in this fashion.” My husband spoke indignantly, and
I could not blame him. ‘ However,” he added, “I feel easier —
about them; so Pat and I will go after the cows as usual,
and wait a little before we start out on another hunt.”

They went away down the lane to bring home the cows.
But I could not feel so easy about my dear boys; in fact,
T was utterly unable to busy myself about anything within
doors, but kept walking about the grounds, wringing my
hands in my distress, and calling aloud to my boys to come
home. Finally I wandered out to the end of the barn far-
thest from the house; and there I stood gazing off to the
woods half a mile away, and wondering if they could hear
my voice if they were there. “Oh, my darling boys!” I
said, ““where can you be?”

“Ki-yi!”

Hark! it was the voice of Keith. I knew that cry.
It was his own familiar - Ki-yi!” Again it rose upon the
air, ‘ Ki-yi, Aunt Rachel!” Ob, what a load fell from my
heart! Nothing could be the matter, for it sounded as cheery
as ever. But where did it come from? It seemed to be
directly over my head. I looked up; but there was only a
tiny window away up near the eaves in that part of the
barn, and I knew that the whole of that end of the loft
was filled with last year’s hay. ‘ Where are you, Keith?”
I called. “I can’t see where you are.’ And I looked
all around me, up and down and everywhere.

Here a small dusty cap flew down at my feet—from the
AUNT RACHEL LOSES HER BOYS, AND FINDS THEM. 145

clouds apparently. I could not see where else it could have
come from. It was the cap of Brownie. “Come here at
once, you naughty boys,” I cried; “where can you be?”

“We're all right; don’t you be frightened, Aunt Rachel,”
sang out Keith. “We're hiding.” And now, as I looked up
to the clouds, I saw a small brown hand waving a very dirty
handkerchief (which I knew to be Brownie’s) out of a broken
pane of glass in that tiny window under the eaves.

‘How could you get up there?” I cried in amazement ;
for I knew that part of the loft was packed full of hay, and
they must be very near the top of the barn. ‘Come down
at once. How could you frighten us so?”

“We're hiding,” shouted Harold; “we're hiding from the
sheriff and the constable and a whole mob of people.”

“Have you all gone crazy? What can you mean? Come
down at once, or I shall send some one after you,” I said.

“Tt wouldn’t be any use; they never could get up to us
if they tried all night,” returned Harold cheerfully. “ But
never you mind, Aunt Rachel; we’re coming down as fast as
we can get our traps gathered up. We've had a gorgeous
old time, Aunt Rachel,’ he shouted in high glee; and then
Keith ‘* Ki-yi-d!”’ once more.

Oh, but I was angry for once! To think of all the
trouble and anxiety we had gone through, to say nothing of
a half-day wasted in searching the country, near and far, for
those naughty boys! And now they coolly assured me they
had had a “ gorgeous time.” Well, let them wait until I had
them within scolding distance. And what could they mean
about the constables? Had they suddenly become insane ?
146 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

CHAPTER X.
THE BURNING OF THE BARN.

I sTEpPED into the barn, and waited with what patience
I could. Presently my eyes were gladdened by the sight of
first one pair of slim black legs, and then another, descending
the ladders from the different lofts, until finally all four of
my boys were down on the floor beside me. Brownie, of
course, had almost to be dropped from one pair of arms to
another ; he was rather too small to climb the rounds of the
ladders, you see.

Then they all stood before me. They were dusty, dirty,
and covered with hay. Evidently they were full of satis-
faction at their late proceedings; but at sight of my distress
their faces assumed a look of puzzled concern; for, all at
once, I had quite broken down. To see them standing there
sturdy and strong and happy, while I had been fancying all
sorts of horrible things about them, was too much for me.
I was sobbing and crying from a thankful heart, and yet
from an angry one too.

“OQ boys! how could you treat us so?” I cried, when I
could speak; for they had all put their arms about me, and
were trying to comfort me, each in his own way.

“Why, Auntie, we never thought you would be so
frightened,” they said. |
THE BURNING OF THE BARN. 147

“Don’t feel so bad, Auntie. We are all here, safe and
_ sound. And I'll tell you all about it,” said Harold, patting
my shoulder, as if I, indeed, were a little child, and he him-
self the “grown-up.” “You see, it was this way—shut up,

1»

Wat! Pm going to tell her!” this to Brownie, who had

begun to chatter. “You see, Keith was hunting around the
barn for new nests this morning; and when he got up to the
loft right over us, he saw an old hen fly down through a hole
in the corner of the floor just above that. So he went over
there to see if he could get up through that hole, ’cause he
almost knew there must be a nest there. Then he saw that,
by climbing up on top of the hay, he could reach a beam, and
crawl along till he got to that hole; and so he did. And
when he got there he could see that the hay didn’t come up
close around the hole, so he thought he would try to crawl
through that hole. It was a tight squeeze, but he managed
to do it. When he got up there, though, he didn’t find any
nest, but he did find. just the nicest place you ever saw,
Aunt Rachel. The hay isn’t packed in so very tight im one
place, and he found lots of room to walk around; then he
mounted upon the hay almost to the top of the barn. Up
where the window is, it is quite open; it makes just the
nicest place to hide in. There is a spot right on a level
with the window where there isn’t any hay, and it’s as large
as Keith’s bedroom; and he could lie down on the hay, and
look out of the window. So he got down and came and told
us; and I said, ‘ Let’s pretend we’re murderers’ (like that
man you read to us about in yesterday’s paper; he lived in
the hay for weeks, you know), ‘and let’s take something up
148 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

there to eat, and some books and things, and let’s stay up
there all day, and pretend we’re hiding from the sheriff and
the people that are hunting for us all over the country.’
So we did, Aunt Rachel. We waited “round the house till
you and Hannah were out of the way; then we went into
the pantry, and took a lot of things (we thought that was all
right. Aunt Rachel, ‘cause we wouldn’t be home to meals); and
then we got the checkerboard and my paint-box and some
books. But we wouldn’t let Rudolf have his violin, ’cause it
would make such a noise. We carried ’em all up there when
Uncle John and Pat were in the field; then we climbed
up there, and fixed the hay all around the ladder so no one
could tell it had been moved, and there we were, just as
snug as bugs in rugs. We had the greatest fun playing in
the hay. By and by we heard you all calling; so we pre-
tended you were the people after us to take us to jail, and
that was the best of all. We kept as still as mice when you
all came into the barn; and I said, ‘Let's stay all night ;’
but the rest didn’t want to. All at once Rudolf happened
to think of his cows; and then he felt awfully, and he didn’t
want to stay a minute after that” —

“And I didn’t want to eat any more pie and cookies,”
broke in Brownie; “I wanted my good supper, and Keith
began to get scared to stay up in the barn loft all night” —

“Not a bit more than you did,” cried Keith indignantly.

Here I interrupted the flow of words: “And not one of
you, so far as I can see, had one thought for me, and the
suffering you had caused me, nor of Uncle John’s distress,
and all the time you have made him lose, you bad, bad
THE BURNING OF THE BARN. 149

boys! I could not have believed it of you! And you,
Rudolf,” I said, turning to him, where he stood at my side
with two great tears rolling down his face, “I would not
have believed it of you, my dear.”

He flung himself down at my knee, and put his head
in my lap, as I sat on a convenient tool-box. “Dear Aunt
Ra-tel, it is that I did not think! I did not think! Oh,
what can I do, my own dear lady! I did forget my cows
and my own lady!” And he sobbed.

The others were feeling very sorry too. They had not
looked at the matter in that light before. They had thought
only of the pleasure to themselves in “pretending” a netv
game, and had never given a moment’s reflection to our feel-
ings. I do not know what next I might have said; for just
then Old Buttercup, our beautiful Jersey cow, followed by
all the others, trooped into the stalls, and we had to move.
Uncle John brought up the rear; he stood looking at the
children and me in silent amazement.

“What does this mean?” he said presently, looking very
‘stern. me

Then I began the story all over; and he heard it in
grim silence, while the boys stood about me, holding my
skirts, for they were evidently frightened by Uncle John’s
displeasure. He said not a word till I had finished my tale,
nor even then. He was very angry; I do not know when
I have seen my dear husband so full of indignation, and
I could not blame him. He turned away a moment. Then
he came back to us and said, “ Boys, I am so angry with
you that if I speak much now [I shall perhaps say more
150 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

than will be wise. I will see about it later; at present all
I have to say is that your Aunt Rachel may give you some
supper, and then every one of you must go to your room
and to bed. In the morning we will see what is to be done.”
With that, he left us.

I departed to the house followed by a group of the most
frightened-looking boys it had ever been my lot to see.
That Uncle John and Aunt Rachel should be so offended!
And they had not meant any harm !

“Q Auntie, do you think you can ever forgive us?”
cried Harold.

“T shall forgive you of course, my dear,” said I; “but
you have made me very unhappy by your thoughtlessness.”

I gave them all some bread and milk, and saw them
in their beds; then I kissed them silently, and left them
crying softly, with their heads under the sheets. It seemed _
hard to make them feel so unhappy, but it was right that
they should be punished.

I went quietly down the stairs, and stood upon the porch
waiting for my husband to come in to supper. “ What could
they have meant by that nonsense about murderers and sher-
iffs and so on, Rachel?” he said, as he presently came up
and stood beside me.

“Oh, you remember how we were reading yesterday about
a young man for whom the officers had been searching every-
where. He had killed the daughter of a farmer for whom
he had been working. He was found after a long time in
the barn of that very farmer, where he had concealed him-
self in the hay, foraging about the neighboring farmhouses
THE BURNING OF THE BARN. 151

at night, and getting into pantry windows in search of food.
It was that which put it into their crazy little heads. What
is that, John?” I said suddenly. “Is it smoke? What can
it be over by the end of the barn roof?”

Before John could speak, Patrick came running round the
corner of the barn, yelling, “ Fire! fire! The hayloft is on
fire!”

John,” I shouted, “the barn is on fire! Run! run!”
With that we both flew off the porch, across the lawn, and
round to the farthest corner of the barn, in time to see
the first volume of flames burst through the tiny window
up under the eaves.

“Oh! Oh! the boys have set it on fire! What can
we do?” I cried, wringing my hands distractedly. But
John was no longer near me. He had rushed into the barn,
calling Patrick to his assistance as he ran; together they
were unfastening the two horses, and loosing the cows from
their stalls. For they realized, as I did myself, that it
would be of no use to try to save the barn. There was
still a portion of last year’s hay stored in the lofts above;
- the building, though in fairly good condition, was old; and
the timbers were so dry that we had often said that if a
lighted match were to come in contact with it anywhere it
would be enough to burn it to the ground. And now this
dreadful thing was actually happening! Our barn, with its
store of hay and grain and valuable implements, was burn-
ing before our eyes, and we had to face this new and dire
calamity in addition to our other serious losses through the
year. Then, in my misery, I thought that the fire might
152 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

not be confined to the barn alone, but that the dear old
house, my inheritance, of which I had been so fond and
proud, must probably also be sacrificed to the insatiable fire
fiend.

For a moment I stood half stunned with despair; then I
said to Hannah, — who had rushed out of the kitchen at the



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Mee

Not one of them realized what he had done.

first alarm, and now stood beside me weeping, and crying
“Fire! fire!’’ in a dazed sort of way,—TI said to her, “We
must not stop here. Let us run to the house for water.”

How foolish! As if the few pails of water we two women
could carry could be of any avail in such a roar and tempest
of flames as that! We stood as near as we dared; and,
looking up, we could see a great seething mass of smoke and
fire, every moment growing wider and wider, and ascending
Or
eo

THE BURNING OF THE BARN. 1:

higher and higher. No water, not even that thrown from
the swiftest engine, could ever save that burning building.

The boys came flying out to us in their night-gowns,
and clung to me, frightened and crying. Even in this bitter
moment I could not scold them for the disaster I felt so
sure they had brought upon us; I saw that not one of them
realized what he had done.

“OQ Auntie! how did it happen?”

“Of course we couldn’t stay in bed

“Will the house go too?”

“Shall we begin to carry things out of the house?”

{?

“Go quickly and dress yourselves,’ said I; “that is the
first thing.” For it was broad daylight, and would be for
three hours yet; and by this time men were running from
all directions across the fields to the burning barn.

“Hurry off, boys! Don’t let them see you in this
plight!”
bidding.

All this takes long in the telling; but it seemed only a

And they flew into the house, needing no second

moment or two from the time when John leaped from the
porch, till he and Patrick had unfastened all the cattle, and
I saw the animals come forth from the barn-door, each one
tumbling over the others in wild alarm at the crackling
noise of the rushing flames, and the black smoke that began
to draw near their stalls. I watched them as they came,
and counted them one by one. Yes, there they were. But-
tercup and Pansy and Violet and Daisy and Primrose and
the rest,—all our own precious cows; and the dear little
bossies, Goldenrod and Iris, that we loved so well. There,
154 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

too, were the horses, Major and old Charlie, led by the first
good neighbor to reach the scene. There, grunting and re-
monstrating violently, was old Betsey, the fat sow, with
a rope tied about one leg, pulled along by Patrick to a
safe quarter, while somebody else carried her six little new-
born pigs; for she also had, for the time being, been living
within the great old barn. There, too, were old Speckletail
and a dozen other hens that had been setting upon their
nests of eggs. They flew out of the smoking haylofts, not
a moment too soon. All, all the living freight the old walls
had held was safe; and I drew a long breath of relief, for
it would have been too terrible that any of them should die.

A crowd of people was soon upon the grounds about us;
some were working to save the end of the building next to
the carriage-house, which must not become endangered; some
were bringing out farming tools and bags of grain from the.
barn; some were on the tops of the other buildings with
pails of water to ward off danger from stray sparks; some
were tearing off boards from one end of the barn; some were
here, some were there; some were calling for this, some for
that — all seemed confusion and uproar; and yet, out of all
the babel of noise and chaos of crashing timbers, falling
beams and the din of voices, at last the good work was
done by the willing hands and hearts that had come to us
in our need; the fire was put out. But not until two-
thirds of the barn had been burned to the ground, and
nothing remained but the end nearest the carriage-house,
which still stood.

Can we ever forget the kindness of the men who worked
THE BURNING OF THE BARN. 155

for us that day! But they were farmer folk. What more
need I say?

Fortunately, there had been almost no wind stirring, and
I need not have feared for the old house. What little wind
there was had sent the flames and sparks all in the opposite
direction from the other buildings, so that they had not
been at any time in danger. I was too much overwhelmed
with grief at what we had just lost to take much consolation
in the thought of what had been saved to us; but I felt, in
a confused sort of way, that, later on, I should be thankful.
As it was, however, I could only stand on the porch, and
look out at the smoking ruins, and say to myself sadly,
“ What can we do now?” for I well knew the use to
which that hay in the upper loft was to have been- put. I
knew how the interest on the hateful mortgage, which pressed
so heavily upon our hearts, would fall due on the first of the
coming month, and how John had been carefully hoarding
the hay in order to meet his note promptly. But to say
nothing of that, where were our cows and horses to be stowed
away? For a few moments, as I stood there by myself,
I own that life looked very black to me; then I realized that
I must brace up; for my husband was naturally the more
despondent of the two, and I knew that I must help him
with all my might to bear this new blow.

As I stood there, my boys came around me. They had
been among the men trying to help in putting out the fire.
Although they were shocked, of course, to have the barn
burn down, and very sorry for Uncle John and Aunt Rachel,
still, boylike, they could not help enjoying the sight of the
156 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

terrible flames, and the hurry and rush of the whole affair.
Their eyes were shining with excitement; and their lips were
smiling as they told me, in their bright, eager way, how they
had helped. For, as yet, they had no idea that they had
been the authors of all the ruin.

“T climbed up on top of the woodshed, and from there
up a ladder to the very top of the house, Aunt Rachel,”
said Keith; “and they handed me up some pails of water,
so that if a spark should come up there I could put it out;
only there didn’t any come, and I just watched the flames.
Oh, you never saw anything like it, Aunt Rachel! the way
those flames went way up to the sky. Of course they looked
a great deal better up there,’ he added with importance.
(Naughty boy! all he seemed to think of was the beauty of
the thing.)

“And, Auntie Ray, what do you think I did?” cried
Brownie. “I stood right back of the barn, where it was
ten times hotter than the hottest furnace you ever saw, and
kept the sparks from going to the pigpen.”

“How could you do that, you goose?” said Harold. “I
guess they'd have gone if they'd wanted to, for all you. 1
don’t see how you could have helped it.”

“T could have yelled to the men, couldn’t I?” returned
Brownie; “and I would have yelled too, for all I was worth
— you better believe that. But there didn’t any come; and
by and by I saw Sandy had got out of the woodshed, and was
scampering all around; so I ran after him and caught him,
and I had an awful time to get him back again. He’s torn
my clothes all to pieces.”
THE BURNING OF THE BARN. 157

Indeed he had! If any farmer’s wife had wished for
Brownie’s jacket and pants to aid in making a rag carpet,
she would hardly have needed to cut rags; for they were
literally in strips, where Sandy, in his usual indignation at
being carried, had torn them from top to bottom with his
great claws. He had also embellished Brownie’s cheek with
a long scratch in his frantic endeavors to escape from the
little fellows arms. Indeed, I do not know how the child
managed to carry him at all; for the bird’s body must have
been a heavy armful, to say nothing of the struggling long
legs and neck. However, Brownie had safely imprisoned him
again, and had performed a real service; so I thanked him,
and sent Keith for some court-plaster for his wound.

Harold saw how sad I was, and came and put his arm
around me.

“OQ Auntie!” he said, “wasn’t it just awful? How do
you suppose it got on fire ?”

“ Don’t you know, dear?” I asked.

“Don’t I know!” he repeated, astonished ; “how could I
know?”

“ Boys, you must have set it on fire yourselves this
afternoon when you were in the hayloft.”

“Aunt Rachel!” they exclaimed, shocked and wounded
that I could have thought such a thing. Even Rudolf, who
had hitherto not spoken a word, but had stood at my side
with his hand on my dress-skirt, in his shy way said, “ Aunt
Ra-tel, how could you think that?”

The faces changed; the eagerness was gone; they looked
startled, pained, even indignant, that I could thus accuse them.
158 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

“What makes you think so, Aunt Rachel?” asked
Harold. quietly. ‘We didn’t have our lanterns up there. It
was as light there as it was anywhere; we could see per-
fectly. Why should we have taken any light up there?”

“But you must have had matches, I fear. How else
could the fire break out just after you had been up there,
when it never did before? I am sure you must have had
matches. Have you any in your pocket, Harold?”

“Of course I have some in my match-safe. You gave it
to me yourself last Christmas, Aunt Rachel, and you said I
might carry matches in it.”

“So I did, my dear, if you would never carry them loose
in your pocket. Are you sure you haven’t any loose ones?”

Harold turned every one of his pockets wrong side out.
There was almost everything else under the sun in them,
but there were certainly no loose matches.

“And you, Keith?”

Keith hung his head. He had been feeling in his own
pockets, and now, alas, drew forth five or six matches.

“O Keith, how could you?” said I sorrowfully ; “ when
you know I have told you, so often, never to do it, and
gave you the pretty match-safe on purpose.”

“T know, Aunt Rachel; but I did forget it, truly.”

“My dear, my dear, what have you done?”

Poor Keith began to ery, and hid his face in my arm.

Meanwhile Brownie had brought forth his match-safe full
of matches, and now displayed. it triumphantly. But I
thought that he looked a little uneasy, nevertheless, so I
insisted upon seeing the inside of his pockets too; and there,
THE BURNING OF THE BARN. 159

among a miscellaneous collection of small stones, nails of
different sizes, a piece of tin, some dirty string, a dead frog
and a beetle or two, a half-eaten doughnut, a recent letter
from his father, a broken pipe for soap-bubbles, and a lot of
other things, was a handful of unused matches !

“Q Brownie!” I said; and said no more. For once
Brownie seemed conscience-stricken, and began to cry in a
quiet way, not at all like himself.

As for Rudolf, he had no match-safe and no matches
either. All his tastes were so different from those of the
other boys that there was little temptation for him to disobey
the few absolute rules we had felt it necessary to insist upon.
He liked better to spend hour after hour with his violin,
or in reading about the lives of great musicians and their
works; and though he went willingly enough with the
others when they called him away, he would have been con-
tent to stay quietly with me from one day’s end to another ;
except at the time of his “ chores,’ which he conscientiously.
and even eagerly, performed with all faithfulness. I was glad
that he was now able to exonerate himself from all blame
in the burning. of the barn; because, taking him from the
road as it were, and knowing so little about him, I felt
doubly anxious for his good behavior.

“Q Auntie!” said Harold solemnly, after a brief silence —
among us all, “this is dreadful! Have we really burned up
Uncle John’s barn? Can you ever forgive us, dear Auntie?”
And Harold put his head on my shoulder, and cried as if his
heart would break. ;

Indeed, I think we were all weeping together ; but after
i160 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

a little I managed to say, “Indeed, I do forgive you, my
dears. How could I help it? Of course, I know you could
not dream of what has happened. But now, you see, what
we have always told you, how dangerous it is to carry
matches about you in that careless way. You never meant.
to do a bit of harm, only a little frolicsome mischief, and
yet what a terrible thing has come of it. But it cannot be
helped now, and we must just bear it; and you must be good
boys hereafter, and do all you can to help us, and not hinder
us any more.”

* But poor Uncle John; he will feel so bad,” said Harold.
* And I am afraid he never can forgive us.”

“Oh, yes; he will forgive you freely, I know. But no
doubt he will be sad and unlike himself for a time, and we
must all.do what we can to cheer him up.”

“Auntie, Pll tell you what I shall do,” said Harold.
“J shall write to my father, and tell him all about it; and I
know he will write back right off, and that he will give you
a new barn.”

“Oh, my dear,” said I hastily, “you must not do such
a thing as that. Of course, your father could not be expected
to pay for the burning of our barn. Why should he? It
was probably either Keith’s or Brownie’s match that did it,
which one we can never know. But we could not ask your
father to make good our loss.”

“But, Aunt Rachel, it was my fault,’ said Harold ear-
nestly. “It was my fault. I take all the blame; for it was
my idea in the first place. The other boys would never
have thought of going up there if I hadn’t just made ’em
THE BURNING OF THE BARN. 161

do it. But I thought it would be such fun. And so it was
he added ruefully. “I did the
whole thing, Aunt Rachel, and I do feel so dreadfully !”

?

then; but it isn’t now,

And the dear boy’s voice broke down, and he put his arms
around my neck, and gave way to sobs again; while Brownie,
who was startled to see his brother in such deep grief, came
around to his side, and put his arms about him, and patted
him on the back as if to comfort him, crying himself all
the time.

“My own dear boy,” I said, while I clasped him close
in my arms, “I cannot have you grieving in this way. I
think it is noble in you to blame yourself alone, dear Har-
old, but I cannot feel that it is so much your fault. The
little hands that put these matches in the open pockets, and
the naughty brains that told them to put them there, should
bear their share of blame. But we will say no more about
it. The barn is burned, and we cannot bring it back. It
is a trial sent us to bear; and we must make the best of
it, and take up our new load cheerfully and willingly, and
by and by it may grow lighter.” Perhaps I sighed a little
as I said that. “Now to bed; it is growing late. I want to
kiss my boys good-night, and go to comfort Uncle John.”

“OQ Aunt Rachel!” said Harold half an hour later, lift-
ing his head from his pillow for his good-night kiss, “ Aunt
Rachel, just think of what might have happened if we had
‘stayed a little longer up in the hayloft. The hay might
have taken fire all around us, and we never could have got
‘down. And nobody would have known where we were,
‘either. O Auntie, just think of it!”

areata thse a


162 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

“Think of it!” Had I not thought of it? Was not
my heart, even in the midst of all this trouble, full of
grateful joy that the worst had not come? That my four
dear boys were still spared to us, safe and sound; their
rosy faces and bright eyes, even though dimmed with recent
tears, peeping at me from their pillows; their sweet ‘“ good-
nights” still sounding in my ears, instead of — but I could
not contemplate that thought.

“Thank God for all his blessings, my darlings,’ I said ;
‘“‘for indeed he has richly blessed us this day.”


THE THEFT OF THE TWENTY—DOLLAR GOLD—PIECE. 163

CHAPTER XI.
THE THEFT OF THE TWENTY—DOLLAR GOLD-PIECE.

We were astir early next morning; not that either John
or I had known much sleep, for long, long into the night
we had held counsel together, sadly and painfully pondering
upon ways and means to meet this new disaster. It was
not that we had received the benefit of a good night's
slumber, I say, but because, as soon as the day broke, the
impulse was strong upon us to be up and doing something.

Early as it was when we arose, dressed ourselves, de-
scended to the dining-room, and stepped out upon the porch,
we found that we were not the first ones up. There, seated
upon the stone wall facing the barnyard, were four little
figures quietly contemplating the ruins of the old barn.

Their faces wore a very serious aspect as they sat silently
looking down upon the smouldering mass of rubbish, from
which a few tiny columns of smoke continued to ascend.
They were speaking softly together, and I could easily imagine
they were doing exactly what their Uncle John and Aunt
Rachel had been so busy about through the hours of the night ;
that is, trying to think of some plan by which the sad con-
sequences of this new misfortune might be averted. They
must have risen very softly, and stolen down the stairs like
mice, so that we might not be disturbed.
if

164 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

“Poor boys!” I said. “I cannot be very angry with
them when I see how they have taken it to heart. And
you forgive them too, do you not, dear John?”

“Oh, I suppose so,” said John after a little pause; “ but
I tell you, Rachel, I feel as if I wanted to keep out of their
way till I get over this a little. I can’t forget things in a
minute, as you do. I feel this morning like wishing I had
never set eyes on one of them, except Keith.”

“OQ John! don’t say so,” said I in distress.

“Well, I won’t, then, if it troubles you, my dear; but I
shall keep out of the way for a while. I am going for a
walk now.” As he turned to step off the porch, he said with
a rueful half smile, “I suppose the little beggars will be
looking for that scolding I promised them this morning; but
you may tell them that I shall never give it now. Say to
them that I will just keep by myself for a time. I don’t
feel like talking about it yet.” So he walked quietly away.

I was sorry that he took the matter in just this way,
for I knew that nothing would cast such dismay into the
hearts of my boys as the thought that Uncle John was in
any way estranged from them: but I knew, too, that it could.
not be helped; it was my husband’s nature to bear such
things in silence, or with only me beside him.

When he went away. it was in the direction of an old
barn which stood on the opposite side of the lane, at a dis-
tance of forty rods from our farm. It was built in the
corner of an adjoining farm, and was almost on the boundary
line. This farm was usually rented out to tenants by the
owner; but at this time it was unoccupied, and consequently
THE THEFT OF THE TWENTY—DOLLAR GOLD—PIECE. 165

the barn had been standing empty all the spring. It seemed
the only bright spot in all this gloomy affair, that we had
been able to make arrangements immediately, by which we
could safely house our cattle within the capacious walls of
this old building, until such time as other accommodations
could be provided. It was at least one little rift in this
cloud of sorrow, to know that our horses and cows and little
bossies, after all their excitement, were quietly settled down
in such comfortable quarters.

Presently the boys saw me standing on the porch, and
came to greet me; not on the run, as once they would have
done, but quietly, and scanning my face in a somewhat anx-
ious way, as if doubtful of their reception. But I gave them
all a hearty good-morning, and soon they were talking quite
happily to me and to each other. I found, as I expected,
that their heads were full of all sorts of schemes (most of
them wildly impossible) for earning money to assist in the
building of a new barn. Brownie announced, with a very
business-like air, that he and Keith were going down to the
frog-pond, immediately after\breakfast, to catch frogs.

“We shall work at it all the spare time we have,” he
said, “and send their legs to Boston to market. You know
lots of people eat ’em; and the Boston people will be just
wild to get ours, they are so big and tender. We shall
make loads of money that way.”

I could not help laughing at the idea of the good people
of Boston being supplied with this choice article of food from
our humble frog-pond. ,

I found, too, that poor Rudolf was seriously contemplating
166 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

a return to the road, playing upon his violin as he tramped
about, and, after a time, bringing home a great quantity of
money to deposit in his astonished Aunt Ra-tel’s lap. Harold
did not say what his intentions were; but he looked very
wise, and I had no doubt some grand scheme was developing
in his busy brain.

However, I was obliged to throw cold ‘water upon the
ardor of these young enthusiasts; and I presently succeeded
in convincing them that it would take more money than
they, even by the most strenuous efforts, could possibly
procure, to build even the tiniest portion of a new barn.
“Moreover,” I said, “we ought not to begin anything of
the kind to-day; for this is Sunday, and there is church,
you know.”

“But we won’t go to church to-day, will we?’ said
Keith.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Why we feel too bad, don’t we?” he answered, looking
up into my face inquiringly.

But I could not think my boys’ grief, sincere though it
undoubtedly was, would be a just cause for our remaining
at home. It seemed to me that we would all feel in a better
and more healthful frame of mind after a brisk morning
walk, and a quiet season spent in the little village church,
where it was our custom to assemble every week as Sunday
rolled round. Besides, though it would be something of an
effort for me to conduct my little flock there at this par-
ticular time, and perhaps feel the gaze of the village folk
upon us, curious to know how we bore our loss, I feared it
THE THEFT OF THE TWENTY—DOLLAR GOLD—PIECE. 167



would be a long and dreary day at home, if we were to
see little or nothing of poor Uncle John. Besides all this,
it was right that we should go, and go we would.

So about ten o’olock we started upon our walk to the
village a mile away. It was a beautiful morning. One
of those mornings in June when simply to be alive and
breathing in the dewy freshness of the air seems joy enough,
even if all other joys are fled. As we trudged on our way
I felt my spirits rise, and for the moment forgot our troubles.
The boys chatted merrily as they ran along, sometimes at
my side, and sometimes far in front or behind, as some inter-
esting piece of nature’s work met their eyes. Here we came
across a dainty bit of moss, with little specks of red, like
bits of sealing-wax, mingling with the delicate green; and
there, at the foot of a gnarled old oak, grew a singular plant
with broad striped leaves of grayish-green and brown, that
we must stop and admire; on the topmost branch of a
sumach a little way from the roadside stood a robin, holding
his little throat to the sky, and swinging and singing “ for
all he was worth,” Brownie said. Farther on a chipmunk
peeped out from the end of an old mossy log, and winked
its bright eyes at the boys as they passed. If, suddenly,
two of our group lingered behind, and the next minute some
stones went whizzing near us, what matter was it if I took
no note? Does not everybody know what must happen
when boys and chipmunks meet ?

When we crossed the little bridge over the brook, we
had to stop and admire a number of tiny fish flirting about
in the clear water below us; and Aunt Rachel must listen,


168 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

as long as her patience would permit, to various wise theories
upon: the best method of securing the pretty little fellows,
whether by hook or net. Then Keith found a_ beautiful
beetle he had never seen before, and must stop and capture
it.
character; and so, finally, we reached the village, and mingled
with the other people as they strolled to the little white
church.

It was always an anxious moment with me when I had
to walk down the aisle with my four boys, and safely stow
them in their respective seats in our pew well up in front.
A certain order of progression had to be observed. It was
necessary that Brownie and Keith should be as far sepa-
rated as possible: in consequence, the proper thing was for
Brownie to enter first, then myself, then Rudolf and Harold,
and lastly John and Keith. Of course Keith and Brownie
never meant to act in any other way than with the utmost
decorum; and, in fact, during the early part of the services

they were usually very good. But sometimes, if the sermon



were a bit long,—and our good pastor was somewhat given
that way.—the temptation was strong, upon Brownie espe-
cially, to be up and doing. He could not keep still. He fre-
quently put himself into such queer shapes and postures as
to excite Keith’s sense of the ludicrous, which was at all
times only too keen, and presently a faint little titter from
his part of the pew would be heard. This would be suffi-
cient to start Brownie off again. He could not rest till he
had roused it once more; and oftentimes I have actually

feared, when I have seen the minister glance in our direction,
THE THEFT OF THE TWENTY—DOLLAR GOLD—PIECE. 169

that he was meditating that dreadful punishment upon my
boys, —‘‘ speaking to them in meeting.” However, it never
had come to that; and, by the means I have described, all
serious difficulty had been averted.

But to-day I was specially anxious, because John was
not with me; therefore I thought it better to place myself
between our two youngest, trusting to Harold and Rudolf to
maintain their own self-respect in the other end of the pew,
which, to do them justice, they generally did.

However, I need not have feared. I had whispered to
Keith and Brownie in the vestibule that I trusted to them
to be doubly careful to-day, as Uncle John was not with us,
placing them upon their honor, as it were; and they repaid
my confidence well. To be sure, once I saw glances of
interest directed to our pew by some of the younger mem-
bers of the choir, which was placed near the pulpit, and
immediately facing our seats. It was during the singing of
a hymn; and upon looking down upon Brownie at my side
I saw he was apparently smging with all his might, — though
not a sound came from his lips, —and was holding himself
very straight, and going through all the attitudes and queer
mouthings of the fat old bass, whose conceit and funny
ways were considered fair subjects for ridicule among the
young people of the village. I put a stop to this, however,
by a timely nudge to Brownie, and all went well for a time.

Later on, I chanced to glance at Rudolf, and was struck
by a comical expression on his face of disgust and anxious
concern at one and the same time, which almost made me
smile myself. But this was because of the organ. It was
170 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

an old and wheezy affair, and had never been very good, even
in its younger days. There was one key in the treble which
it was necessary to use particular care in avoiding; for if
by any accident it were touched ever so lightly, it remained
pressed down, and would sound on through all the other tones,
rising shrill and clear above them, and making terrible dis-
cords to a sensitive ear. The organist had learned how to
manage this defect in his instrument; but on this day a sub-
stitute, in the person of a timid young girl, was playing.
When she accidentally struck this key, and its tone began
to mingle with the others, the effect was such as completely
to drive away her wits, and what with the faulty key and
her own horrible discords, the choir was soon brought to
an ignominious “ break-down;” and first one member and
then another gave up singing in utter confusion, and sat down
overwhelmed with mortification, while the triumphant C-sharp
sounded on, and might have sounded on till now, if the tenor
had not recovered the use of his senses sufficiently to jump
up from his seat and stop it. Poor Rudolf’s hair seemed to
be literally standing on end, the whole occurrence had been
so painful to his acute ears.

This, however, was a small matter. I was thankful that
the sensation of the morning had not been caused by any-
thing in our pew; and, in this pleasant frame of mind, I
walked home with my little flock in the warm June sunshine.

The children saw their Uncle John at the dinner-table
for the first time that day. Though he was very kind to
them, he had little to say. I had already told them how he
had said they were not to be punished at all — not even to




THE THEFT OF THE TWENTY—DOLLAR GOLD—PIECE. 171

be scolded; and this news, coupled with his unusual silence
and sad looks, made them feel more conscience-smitten than
ever. We were but a heavy-hearted household all that day.

Next morning, however, things seemed brighter. I saw
that the cloud was beginning to lift from my husband’s spirits,
and that made my own heart feel lighter at once. The chil-
dren were all soundly asleep at breakfast time, and I did
not call them; they were tired with so much excitement, and
another hour’s rest would do no harm. So it was nearly
nine o'clock when they had eaten their breakfasts. Through
the dining-room window they could see Uncle John sitting on
the long bench under the old pine-tree. He sat there quietly,
with both hands clasped around his knee, looking very
thoughtful and sad.

“Dear Auntie Ray, how can we stand it to have Uncle
John so changed?” said Harold. “He doesn’t forgive us
a bit.”

“Oh, yes, he freely forgives you, my dears,” I assured
them; “it is only that he is sad and discouraged, and cannot
see any bright lining to his cloud just yet.”

“How I wish we could do something to comfort him!”
said Keith. “But I don’t know what we could do.”

“Well,” said I, “suppose you go out and talk to him,
and see if you cannot cheer him up a bit.”

“T don’t know how to begin,” said Keith in unwonted
shyness.

“Take that pretty bug you found yesterday, and ask him
what it is.”

‘“‘Oh, yes; and I will take mine too,” said Brownie.


172 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

So the two boys hurried away, and presently came down
the stairs with their bugs in the little *‘death bottles” in
which they carefully placed such specimens as they wished to
preserve ; then, together, we all walked out to Uncle John
under the pine-tree.

“Uncle John, I have brought the queerest beetle to show
you that you ever saw,” said Keith, walking manfully up to
his uncle, and holding out his beetle. “It is such a long-
horned beetle.” :

Uncle John took it in his hand and examined it. “ Yes,”
he said kindly, “‘he is a pretty fellow. Where did you find
ham"

“Going to church yesterday. Do you know what it is,
Uncle John?”

“Oh, yes; it is the titillating beetle.”

“But I never saw one before. They must be very rare,”
said Keith.

“ Oh, no, my boy. You have not seen all the beetles in
the world yet. We often find this one at this time of the
year.”

* But, Uncle John,” interrupted Brownie, edging in among
the others, and holding out his beetle, “ Uncle John, you must
see mine. Mine is a much seldomer beetle than Keith’s.”

This made Uncle John laugh in spite of himself; and
Brownie, elated at the thought that he had been the first one
to make Uncle John actually laugh, immediately perched him-
self on his knee, and sat there swinging his legs and casting
triumphant glances upon all of us.

This broke the ice. Soon Uncle John was launched upon
THE THEFT OF THE TWENTY—DOLLAR GOLD-—PIECE. 173

quite a little lecture on the different species of beetles about
Clovernook farm, with Brownie on one knee and Keith on the
other, and Harold and Rudolf on the seat beside him. So
now I was relieved. Matters were beginning to assume their
old footing with us, especially when Keith looked up and
said coaxingly, * Uncle John, you will come in and have school
this morning just as we always do, won’t you?”

This made Uncle John laugh again. ‘“ Well,” he said,
“if it has actually come to this, that Keith is asking to have
school, I think we must go in and have it, barn or no barn.”
And after that it was all right with us.

That afternoon Harold came to me and asked if he might
go with Pat, who had occasion to drive to B——.

“Why, what can you want to go up there for, Harold?”
I asked.

“Oh, for something,” returned Harold mysteriously. “I
don’t want any of the other boys to go. Just me, all by
myself.”

‘Some. secret ?”’ I asked.

“Yes; it’s just a little secret of my own, and I don’t
want anybody to know about it. But there’s no harm in it,
Aunt Rachel.”

“Of course not, my boy. You may go; but don’t stay
too long.”

So he ran out to where Pat was harnessing the horse; and
presently 1 saw him starting off, looking very important, and
sternly rejecting all the attempts of Brownie to get into the
wagon and go too.

“What can it be?” I wondered, and thought no more
174 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

about it. I had my own little secret too, which I was
keeping quite to myself. Just a little scheme that had lately
come into my head. Like Harold’s, it was my own secret,
and no harm in it to anybody.

Before that week had closed, poor John and I had become
convinced that there remained no way to raise all the money
needed for that hateful interest except to sell Old Buttercup,
our most valuable Jersey cow. It seemed too hard. To say
nothing of the money value, we were all so fond and proud
of her it would be a cruel thing to part with her. But
by Saturday a purchaser had been found; and, after we had
all been out to say a sad good-by, and to pat and stroke her
soft dun coat for the last
time, Patrick led her away,
and we saw her no more.

That afternoon I sat by
the open window in the sit-
ting-room, sewing, when my
husband came in and threw
a small roll of bills and a
twenty-dollar gold-piece into
my lap. “There is poor But-



tercup,” he said.

I was very glad to think
that the interest was now assured. I had _ been sitting
there, planning and dreaming, and making myself think
that some day there would certainly be a turning to this
long lane of trouble; so I was prepared to respond very
cheerfully to John’s rather rueful remark.


THE THEFT OF THE TWENTY—DOLLAR GOLD—PIECE. 175

“ Yes, John,” I said; “but there may be dozens of other
Buttercups for us in the future. Something tells me there
are some good things in store for us yet. We mustn’t despair
too soon.”

Then I fell to admiring the bright and shining gold-piece,
and called to Rudolf, who sat over by the piano practising
on his violin.

“Come, and see this new gold-piece, Rudolf; it is not
often we shall have an opportunity of seeing such a thing
as this.”

He came to my side, and looked at it as it lay where
I had placed it beside the roll of bills on the table near
me, where I was sitting at the window.

We all admired it; then Rudolf returned to his violin,
and I went on with my sewing. John stayed with us a few
moments; then, wishing to speak with me alone, he motioned
to me to go with him into the dining-room. We stood
talking together, perhaps fifteen minutes, when John called
to Rudolf, who was still playing on his violin, that it was
time to go for the cows. Rudolf answered, “Yes, sir, as
soon as I put my violin in its case;” and a few moments
after he came through the dining-room, passed on into the
kitchen, and so out-of-doors, to call his cows from the
pasture.

We stood together a little longer, and then John said,
“JT must take that money and get a draft, so I can send my
letter off on Monday morning.” We went back together,
finishing our conversation as we did so; but when we

stepped to the table where we had left the money, what




176 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

was our dismay to find that only the bills were there! The
gold-piece no longer lay beside them where I had placed it;
and though we looked all about the table, among the dif-
ferent papers, and on the floor, and in the corners where it
might have rolled, we could not find it. It had utterly

vanished.
I
-~T

RUDOLF’S TROUBLE. 1

CHAPTER XII.
RUDOLF’S TROUBLE.

We looked at each other in amazement. “It certainly
was here,” said I. “You saw me put it on the table,
John ?”

“Certainly ; I saw you put it there, and my eye fell on
it lying there beside the bills as I stepped to the dining-
room door.”

“Then, where is it?” I demanded. ‘Let us look again.”
I took up all the papers, looked through my work-basket,
everywhere about the table; looked all over the carpet,
thinking it might have rolled into some corner, but no gold-
piece could be found.

“This is very strange, John,” I said.

‘Rachel, that boy of yours has taken it!” said John
sternly.

“Jolin! Nevers!) Peicrieds You ‘cannot ichini ssuclmaa
thing! Rudolf is incapable of such an act! I should as
soon believe I could steal it myself as to suspect him.”

“We took him, knowing nothing about him or his par-
entage. For aught we know, he may be the child of genera-
tions of thieves. This looks like it.”

A vision seemed to rise before me of that father’s noble,
intellectual face, and the loving, truthful glance of the sweet
Mis THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

young mother’s eyes. ‘‘O John! never say such a thing of
that dear child,’ I said. ‘‘I know he never did it.”

“Then, where is it? No one else could have entered the
room. There is certainly no outside door to this room, and
whoever would enter it must come through the dining-room
where we were standing. The other boys have been in the
blueberry pasture for two hours; Pat is in the cornfield ;
Hannah you can hear singing at the top of her voice in
the kitchen, —even I can hear her,—and she’s been at it
ever since I’ve been in the house.”

“There is the front hall door,’ I said thoughtfully; and
then I knew in a moment no one could have come in by
that door; for Brownie had lost the key two weeks before,
and there had been an unsuccessful hunt for it when we
wished to unlock the door. Besides, if any one had got into
the room, must not Rudolf have known it, when he sat there
with his violin all the time.

“Tt is possible he may have taken it out to show to
the other boys, though I cannot think he would do such
a thing; but I will never believe he intended to keep it un-
less he tells me so himself.”

“We shall soon see,” said John grimly. “There he comes
up the lane.”

He was strolling along with his hat on the back of his
head, one hand in his pocket, the other holding a_ switch
of alder, with which he now and then touched little Golden-
rod, who lingered in the rear. He was whistling, and looked
the very picture of careless, happy, and innocent boyhood.
When he turned the corner, and came up the carriage-road,
RUDOLF’S TROUBLE. 179

with his cows trooping on ahead of him, he saw us looking at
him, and gave us a merry smile; but there was no answering
smile on my husband’s stern face.

“Rudolf, come here!” he cried.

Rudolf came at once, looking at us wonderingly.

“Rudolf,” said I quickly, for I did not wish my husband
to frighten him, “ Rudolf, you know that gold-piece we were
looking at; do you know where it is?”

“On the table, Aunt Ra-tel, is it not? That is where I
did see you put it.” He spoke unhesitatingly, and looked in
my face, as he always did in speaking to me.

“No, Rudolf; it is not there. Think; did you take it to
show to the other boys?”

“Why, of course not, Aunt Ra-tel. Why would I do that?”
Here he glanced at Uncle John’s face, and saw the stern
cloud gathered there. He began to redden. “Is it lost?”
he said. “What is it? Is it that you think—I—TI,” — he
hesitated, became confused, and said no more.

“Rudolf, you took that money,’ said my husband in a
stern voice, and looking at him as if he would look into his
very soul.

“ Aunt Ra-tel! you cannot think it!” exclaimed Rudolf.
And he looked at me so longingly, so entreatingly, it would
have melted a harder heart than mine, even if I had be-
lieved him guilty.

Before I could say a word, however, my husband spoke
again. .

“Tell me the truth, Rudolf. Have you that money?”
His look was enough to make an older boy quail before him.
180 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

But Rudolf did not quail. He straightened himself up, and
looked Uncle John in the eye. He was pale now, but there
was no flinching in the gaze he fixed upon him.

“Sir,” he said, “I did not take your money. I do not
know anything of your money. It was there,’”’ pointing to
the table, “when I went back to my violin; I never thought
of it or saw it after. Sir, I do not lie to you. I never
took your money. O Aunt Ra-tel, Aunt Ra-tel! how can you
think I did it?” he said brokenly, and then he burst into
heavy sobs.

“My boy, my boy! I do not believe it! I know you did
not,” said I; and I was weeping, too, as I put my arm around
him.

“Go to your room, sir!” said Joln; “and remain there
till I come to you.”

The child turned away from me, and slowly mounted the
stairs. Then I heard his door close.

“O John!” I began, “how could you” —

“Rachel!” said my husband sternly, “there has been
nonsense enough about that boy. He must be searched, and
everything in his room must be searched. He has got that
money. It is either on his person, or he has hidden it some-
where. I am going up to search him now, and meanwhile
you may be looking for it in any place you can think of
where he might be likely to hide it.”

“You will never find it on him, for he did not take it.”

“Did you see his face when you asked him about it?”
observed John. “If any one ever showed guilt, he did.”

“Tndeed, I do not think so,” I quickly returned. ‘It was


RUDOLF’S TROUBLE. 181

the most natural thing in the world for him to change color
when he first realized that he was accused by us. Who
would not have blushed? He stood up manfully, and told
you he had not taken it. He looked you squarely in the
face; no guilty boy of his age could have done it as he
did.”

“And what, then, is your theory in regard to the lost
money ?” inquired my husband with lofty scorn. “Do you
think that after the common fashion of riches it has taken
to itself wings and flown ” —

“Yes; I would as soon believe that it had literally flown
up through the ceiling as that that child could have taken
it. And you will never make me think he did, John
Atherton.”

I looked my husband fairly in the face, and held my
head high, for I was very angry with him. All at once, as
John gazed at me, his glance softened, and a_half-amused
look came into his eyes in spite of his own indignation, as
he said gently, “Don’t get excited, Rachel.”

It was always so. If ever I did let my temper get the
better of me with John, he would immediately become as cool
as possible, and say some such provoking thing as that.

“Promise me, John, that you will not send my poor

boy off.”
“No; I can make no such promise. If he has taken the
money, he must go.”

“But wait a little; we may find it yet.”

“Tf we find the money, it will be where he has hidden it;
and I will not have a thief about the house,” replied John.
182 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

“John, would you send the poor boy to the road again ?
Even supposing he has taken the money, how much better
to keep him with us, and teach him better. Think of it; it
would be sending him to almost certain ruin if you turned
him off now. What could we expect of him, thrown out.
into the world with this cruel charge laid upon him, and
unjustly too, as I know it is. How could he help being
utterly ruined! It is not right. I know you will not do
it. Look at me, John; for my sake, say you will let him
stay with us. I know we shall find out sometime that you
are wrong.”

Now, I knew it was very hard for my husband to refuse
me anything; and I would not have taken advantage of this
knowledge to urge upon him a request he was so reluctant
to grant, if I had not been sure it was the right thing to
do. I simply could not have my poor Rudolf sent away
from his home in my house and heart. I felt that he was
innocent ; and that, even if we failed utterly to learn what
had become of that money, I should never cease for one
moment to believe he was innocent. I almost wondered at
myself that I was so certain of this; but I could not look
into his truthful eyes, and think that he had lied to us.

“John,” I said softly, “think of it a moment; look at it
from your own point of view. Supposing him to be really
guilty, do you not think we are still bound to do all we can
for him? We know that if he be turned adrift now, with
no one to lend him a helping hand, or speak a kind word,
he is almost sure to come to harm. Where could he go?
What could he do? On the other hand, if we still keep
RUDOLF’S TROUBLE. 183

him with us, and treat him kindly, we may touch his heart,
and gradually lead him to sorrow and repentance for his sin,
and, in the end, win him to better things. I say this, John,
not because I believe that he took the money, but because I
wish you to see, from your own standpoint, that we have no
right ‘to thrust a young and feeble soul amid such dangers.
Dear John, promise me you will let him stay. Let us treat
him kindly, and wait a while. Let us not do this harsh and
cruel thing.”

I could see that John was touched by my appeal; and
I knew that, upon sober second thought, he would look at
the matter far differently. So now, after a little silence, he
said, “Rachel, I will not be too harsh. You shall keep
him with you if you wish. But I still believe him guilty.
You cannot expect me to go against all reason because you
do yourself, my dear. I believe him guilty; and until he has
confessed his guilt, and returned the money, you must not
ask me to forgive him. He shall stay, and I will not treat
him with undue severity; but I shall make him feel that
until that twenty dollars is restored he lies under my stern
displeasure.”

My husband threw himself into a chair, and sighed deeply.
“ What next?” he said. “What with blown-off roofs, cows
choked to death, having to turn off my very best help” (for
David had long been gone), ‘barns burned, and now this
money stolen, it seems as if Fate might have done her worst
by this time. But there is probably more to come. I won-
der what it will be?”

“© John, do not say so!” I cried. ‘“ Have we not each
184 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

other and Keith? We are all strong and healthy, and we
have still so much left to be thankful for. Never let your-
self feel so. Things will mend by and by, John; I know they
will.”

But John shook his head sadly, and walked away.

It was a sore time with us both. I could but pray for
grace that we might bear the ills of life bravely and uncom-
plainingly, as we should.

I hastened up the stairs to Rudolf— my poor boy, who
had his own great grief to bear. When I softly opened the
door, he lay stretched on the floor at the foot of his little
bed. His head was hidden in his arms; heavy sobs shook
his frame. J went to him, and put my arm about him;
but he resisted my efforts. “Nein, nein, Aunt Ra-tel!’’ he
cried.

“My dear, come to me,’ I said; and I drew a little low
chair close beside him. “My dear, look up, and come to
Aunt Rachel. Rudolf, I know you are innocent, my child.
I believe you. Do not be afraid of Aunt Rachel.” I drew
him to his knees, and made him lean his head upon my
shoulder. “Dear,” I said, “do not ery so. Tell me what is
in your heart.”

“Q Aunt Ra-tel, I did not do it! I did not!” he cried
out.

“T know that, dear.”

“But, Aunt Ra-tel, he thinks I did; and that is so hard
to bear.”

“ Yes, Rudolf; I know he does think so. You see, it was

all so strange. The gold-piece lay on the table when we


RUDOLF’S TROUBLE. 185

left the room, and when we came back it was gone. Of
course, there was no way for any one to come into the room
except through the window, and that was only open a little
way. You were there all the time, and would be sure to see
if that had been done. Besides, I should have heard in the
dining-room. You see, it is so mysterious; and he thinks no
one else could have taken it. But I feel that you could

(



‘“+1 did not do it! | did not!’ he cried.”

not have done so. I cannot imagine who could have taken
it, but I know you did not. Do you remember, Rudolf, what
you did after you saw the money on the table?”

““T went back to my chair by the piano, and sat there
playing my new music; and I never thought about anything
else until Mr. Atterton did call me to go for my cows.
Dear Aunt Ra-tel, look into all my pockets, and see that I
186 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

a2:

have not the money.” And he began turning his pockets
inside out.

“Yes, dear,’ I said; “and after we have looked at yours
we will look at mine too, to see if by any accident it may
be there.” And I examined both my apron pockets, and my
dress pocket too; but of course we found nothing.

Rudolf’s tears were flowing still. “Aunt Ra-tel, what can
I do?” he asked. “How can I show him I did not take
it? Do you think he will send me to jail?” and the boy’s
lip quivered pitifully.

“Oh, no, my dear!” I said, as I held him close in my
arms to comfort him. ‘He will never do that. You are to
stay with us; you are my boy just as you always were.
- You are innocent in my eyes; some day you will be so in
Uncle John’s too.”

“Tt is very hard to have him think me guilty when I
am not,’ said Rudolf. “How stern he was, Aunt Ra-tel.
When I think of it, it makes me tremble all over, and I
think I cannot stay here now.”

“But, my dear, you will stay for my sake. Tell me you
will, Rudolf. Remember, you are my own dear boy, and I
cannot lose you now. Promise me that you will not run
away. You would make me suffer very much if you should
leave me while this cloud hangs over you, my dear. I be-
lieve that some day we shall find out all about it; or, if
we never do, you will live it down, and I will help you.
You will be so good that by and by Uncle John will feel
that he must have been mistaken, and he will grow to think
of you just as he used to.”
RUDOLF’S TROUBLE. 187

“Aunt Ra-tel,” he said, as his arm stole around my neck,
and he leaned his head against me, “ meine mutter must have
been as you are. She would never have believed I could do
it either; and oh, mein vater!”’ he cried, “how it would hurt
mein vater to see me in such trouble! Oh, it is too hard
for me to be thought to steal that money!”

“My own boy!” I cried, “it is a cross sent you to bear;
you must do it bravely and nobly. I will help you all I
can; and, Rudolf, you know who will help you besides. Just
stay on, and do your work cheerfully and patiently ; and by
and by I hope these heavy clouds will roll away from us.”
Poor boy, he was so young, and Trouble seemed thus far to
have marked him for her own!

I would not leave my poor child until I had seen him
somewhat comforted in the assurance that I, at least, believed
him fully, and that I would stand by him through every-
thing. I insisted upon his promise to remain with us, no
matter whether the money should be found or not; for I
could not bear the thought of his again becoming a wanderer
about the country, exposed to the thousand temptations which
must assail so young and inexperienced a boy. At the same
time, I tried to impress upon him the feeling that Uncle
John was not to be blamed for looking upon the matter as
he did; for no doubt it was a most amazing circumstance
that the money had so suddenly disappeared, and from his
point of view there could be no other explanation than
that Rudolf had taken it. But I encouraged him to hope
with me that the mystery might yet be solved. Even if it
never should be, I told him that, finally, by good conduct


—_
BH
mM

THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

and careful attendance to his duties, he would be able to
recover my husband’s good opinion, and cause Uncle John to
believe himself mistaken in spite of the strong appearances
against him. Then I bade the boy again be cheerful and
brave, and whenever he felt his trouble was too hard to
bear, to come to me and I would help him. With that I
wiped his tears away, and we went down-stairs; and there
were the other boys, and it was time for supper.

The three other boys must have seen at once that some-
thing very serious had happened. They cast wondering
glances at Uncle John, who was silent and stern, at Rudolf’s
swollen eyes, and at me also; for I must have seemed anxious
and unhappy, if I looked at all as I felt. However, nothing
was said at that time of the lost money. In fact, neither
their Uncle John nor myself spoke of it to the three boys,
for it seemed better that they should know nothing about
it: but Rudolf must have told them of it at his first oppor-
tunity; for early the next morning, as I stood alone upon
the front porch, thinking sadly of all that had happened
the day before, and looking off at the dim, purple rim of
Wachusett, where it towered far in the distance above the
long lines of woods in their soft young summer colors,
Harold came through the open door and stood beside me.

>

“Dear Auntie,’ he said, “isn’t it dreadful about that
money being lost! What do you suppose can have -happened
to it? Do you think that perhaps Rudolf really did take it?”

“No, indeed. Harold! I do not think he can have taken
it. And I hope you do not think so either.”

“No, Auntie; I wouldn’t like to think such a thing of
RUDOLF’S TROUBLE. 189

Rudolf. And yet, you know, it is very strange how it can
have disappeared so, when he was the only person in the
room. I have been thinking about it, and I don’t see how
it could have got away without being carried away. We did
not know anything about Rudolf when he came here, you
know.”

There it was again. Just John’s reasoning over and over.
Just the man’s way of looking at things. But I felt that I
was right all the same, if I could not answer their argu-
ments.

“T know it is very strange, Harold; but I can never
believe that Rudolf took it. It is true that we knew
nothing of him when he came; but his whole life since he
has been with us has been sincere and upright in every
way. We need only look into his face to feel sure he
could not commit such a crime as that. Tell me, have you
ever found him to be untruthful or dishonest in any word
or act since you have known him?”

“No, indeed, Aunt Rachel! I will say that I have thought
he was the very best one among us. He has never said a bad
word, or thought a bad thought, as far as I have known.
And often and often he has held us back when we were
going to do something he thought wasn’t quite right.”

Then, why should he change in this sudden way, and do
such a sinful thing as this?” I asked. “I will never believe
it. I do not wish you to believe it either.”

“ Besides, Aunt Rachel, why should he want to steal it?”
queried Harold. ‘He never goes away where he could spend
it, unless some of us are with him; and he never wants any-


190 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

thing except his music, and that you are always giving him.
No, I don’t believe he took it. I wonder why Uncle John
should feel so sure about it,” he said after a moment’s
pause.

‘“ You must not blame Uncle John, Harold,” I said
quickly. “It is only natural that he should feel so. Any
man would think the same. He can see no other way to
account for the loss; and, of course, appearances are strongly
against poor Rudolf. I still hope we may find it; then
Uncle John will be the first one to make up to the child for
all he is suffermg. But I wish you and Keith and Brownie
to be very kind to him now; and remember how you would
feel, my dear, if it had been you instead of him. You know
it might easily have happened that you had been sitting
alone in the room reading when the money was lost, and
how would you have felt if we had thought you had taken
it? Think of that, my dear, and be kind to poor Rudolf.”

“That is true enough, Aunt Rachel,” said Harold thought-
fully, “and I won't forget.”

“ Auntie,” he said, after a little silence, “how much you
love Rudolf, don’t you?”

“Yes, my dear, I do love him. I seemed to take him
into my heart that first day when I saw him sitting alone
in the woods; and I don’t think I can ever put him out
again.”

“But, Auntie,” said Harold softly, as he put his arm
around me, “you mustn’t stop loving the rest of us because
you think so much of him.”

“Foolish boy!” I said, as I kissed his rosy cheek. “As
RUDOLF’S TROUBLE. 191

if I could! How is it, dear, with mothers? Do they stop
loving their older children when the little ones come? There
is room in a mother’s heart for all her children, be they
many or few; and you know, my dear, that though I have
only one little child —far away —of my very own, yet I
feel as if I must be really and truly mother to all of you,
my living children. My love for Rudolf is a little different
in some ways; he is so utterly alone in the world, so friend-
less and forlorn; and I have always had the feeling that he
was specially sent to me that I might make up to him for
what he has lost. I mean to do it as well as I can. But
you are all my dear boys, and I don’t see how I could love
you much more if you were indeed my very own.”

I kissed him, and said, “Now are you satisfied, my
dear?” He kissed me in return, gave me a hug, and said
he knew all about it, and I was the best old auntie in the
world. Then he ran off down the lane, where he saw Keith
and Brownie, with their sling-shots aiming at something —
perhaps a squirrel in the tree above them, who probably
stood at that very moment quite unharmed on one of the
branches, chattering and scolding, and telling them very
plainly what he thought of such conduct.

Then Hannah rang the bell for breakfast ; and as the
boys came strolling up the lane, I was pleased to see that
Harold’s arm was about Rudolf. He was evidently trying to
comfort the poor boy in his deep trouble, and the sight
gladdened my eyes; for I knew he would not forget our talk
together that morning, and the thought was balm to my
own sad heart.


Og) THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

CHAPTER XIII.
A NEW BOY COMES TO CLOVERNOOK.

Days passed on; but, in spite of all our wishing and seek-
ing, the twenty-dollar gold-piece was not brought to light.
Because I knew that my husband desired it, I searched thor-
oughly through all Rudolf’s little belongings, though John
himself acknowledged it was probably useless.

“The boy had plenty of time,’ he declared, “to conceal
it out-of-doors when he went for the cows.”

Still I think my husband began to waver in his belief of
Rudolf’s guilt. Often I saw him with a puzzled look on his
face, when his eyes followed the boy as he passed to and fro
busy about his chores, now with a pail of dough in his hand
feeding the young ducks, and now helping Pat in the barn;
always ready and even eager to work, but with a sad, patient
look on his young face that it made my heart ache to see.

John said little to me. We had agreed to let the mat-
ter drop, and seldom spoke of Rudolf to each other in these
days. I could see, however, that the child’s faithful work
and thoughtful obedience to one who now treated him with
such coldness were beginning to reap their reward; and John’s
tone, in spite of himself, became softer when he addressed
Rudolf, though he still held quite aloof from him, and spoke

only when it became necessary. As it happened, the chil-

f


A NEW BOY COMES ‘TO CLOVERNOOK. 193

dren’s school had closed only a few days before the loss of
the money, so that there was seldom need for any inter-
course between the two, except in the way of a direction
now and then about work.

As for Rudolf himself, he was bearing his trouble as
bravely as he could; but I could see that it was a heavy
burden, and did not grow lighter as the days went on. I
had never realized before the depth of his affection for my
husband, nor had I dreamed how he would grieve under his
displeasure. He rarely spoke to me of his feelings, but in
every way endeavored to seem bright and cheery; still, I
could see that often, when he thought himself unobserved,
his face would grow sad, and his eyes would look as if he
were weary of waiting for the mystery to be solved.

He formed the habit of roaming off by himself, with his
precious violin in his hand, and spent hours in the woods,
playing to himself, and waiting for the time to come when
he must return and begin his work. Though the other boys
were as kind as ever to him, he was unhappy, and could not
enter into their sports. Naturally it raised somewhat of a
barrier between them; and thus it was that he fell into the
way of taking lonely strolls, or of sitting quietly in the
house with me, occupied with his violin or his books. We
had many talks together, but we did not often speak of
the lost money. Where was the use? We were no nearer
solving the mystery, and we both began to feel we never
should know the hiding-place of the missing gold-piece.
These were sad days for Rudolf and me, and for my husband
also. I do not like to dwell upon them.
194 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

About a month after this time,—I think it was in the
latter days of July,— there was another great excitement at
Clovernook, something so strange and unexpected as almost
to seem like a story in some book of romance; and yet, of
course, it really happened. It was in this way. One warm

?

afternoon I sat in my low “barrel chair” by the kitchen
window holding poor Brownie. He had been running, and
had fallen down as usual; this time bumping his nose, and
sadly bruising and scratching that useful feature. It had been
bleeding somewhat; but that trouble was now over, and he
was sitting in my lap, still crying a little, and I was
“mothering” him, as was my habit when he came to me
for comfort after his many tumbles.

“T wish folks didn’t have to have any noses,” he wailed.

“ Well, Brownie,” I said, “you cannot complain. You have
really very little nose; not nearly so much as most people.”

“JT wish I hadn’t any,” he cried.

“Why, what would you do without a nose? How funny
you would look!”

“T wouldn’t care for that. JI wouldn't be bumping it
every day then.”

“But how could you smell?”

“JT wouldn’t want to smell. I don’t see any good in
smelling, anyway.”

‘But it is very pleasant to smell flowers and perfumes
and such things.”

“T don’t think so,” said Brownie; “and I hate bad smells
a great deal more than I like good ones. I don’t believe in

noses at all.”
A NEW BOY COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 195

“ But you like to smell oranges, don’t you?” For
Brownie was a great boy for oranges.

“Yes, well enough; but I like to eat ’em better; and
they’d taste just as good if they hadn’t a bit of smell” —

Here our argument for and against the usefulness of
the nose was suddenly broken in upon by Hannah, who was
ironing before the opposite window. “ Missus,” she said,
“look at Keith. He is running and stumbling along down
in the mowing. It’s me own belafe somethin’s afther bein’
the matther, so it is. Jist look till him now!”

I put Brownie down hastily, and stepped to Hannah’s
window. There was Keith hurrying across the meadow, sadly
trampling down the long grass just ready for the mowers,
stumbling along, as Hannah had truly said, and lugging a
bundle of some kind in his arms that was evidently too great
a burden for his young strength. Even at this distance we
could see that there was a look of wild alarm on his face.
What could possibly be the matter now ?

“Let us run to him, Hannah. Surely something has hap-
pened!” I said.

We ran out of the kitchen door, and round to the other
side of the house, and had just reached the old seat under
the pine-tree, when Keith came up to us, panting and gasp-
ing, with a young child in his arms. He dropped the little
thing on the ground as if he were completely spent, and
threw himself at my feet, crying, “Aunt Rachel! Aunt
Rachel! take care of us!” Then he fell to sobbing and
trembling, and could say no more from utter exhaustion.

“My darling,” I cried, terribly frightened, “what is it?
196 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

Speak to me, dear! What has happened?” But the poor
boy could not speak. He kept on sobbing and gasping, and
seemed in a very agony of terror. “Run for his uncle,
Hannah!” I said.

Hannah flew to the cornfield; and I, paying no heed
to the little stranger, — though all the time aware, in
a confused way, of the sound of its continued crying, —
gathered my boy up in my arms, and tried to soothe him
with kisses and caresses; wishing for his uncle to come that
he might help me, for I was greatly alarmed at Keith’s
condition. Presently he did come on the run, with Hannah
flying after him. He took his boy from my arms into his
own, and held him close.

“What is it, Keith?” he asked. “You are safe now;
try to tell us about it. What has frightened you so?”

Keith’s face was still very pale, and his little frame
trembled violently ; but as soon as he felt himself safe in
the shelter of his uncles arms, he became more quiet.
Finally he said, “O Uncle John! it was horrible! Tl tell
you all about it as soon as I can. Oh, are you sure they
are not coming after us?” and he looked back toward the
woods whence he had come.

“ Be still, my boy,” said his uncle, pattmg him gently ;
“you are perfectly safe now. You need not tell us until you
are better.”

Meanwhile Hannah had taken the little stranger into her |
own strong arms, and was comforting it with such success
that the child had ceased to cry, and sat looking at us
all with wide blue eyes, gravely regarding the whole scene.


A NEW BOY COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 197

“Where could he have found the precious babby. Missus ?”
said Hannah.

“J will tell you about it now,” said Keith from his
uncle’s lap, where the two sat on the bench. He did so;
in a broken fashion to be sure, and with many pauses, from
the fright and excitement which still controlled him. But
gradually we learned the whole story; it was a very strange
one, as you will say when I tell you about it.

An hour or so before, Keith had been strolling about in
the woods which lay a quarter of a mile west from the
house. From our windows there was a dense, unbroken line
of these woods, which extended far beyond the boundaries
of the farm. To a stranger, the thick growth of pines,
hemlocks, beeches, and other trees presented the appearance
of a real forest; but when one had entered upon this grove,
one found that, after passing on a few rods, one came upon
little open clearings here and there, where there were occa-
sionally tall trees standing alone, surrounded perhaps by
thick underbrush of sumachs or berry bushes. Farther on,
the openings became still larger, until, gradually, the ground
was merely covered with low shrubs, and an old abandoned
road became visible. It led off from the highway, and was
half closed by straggling blackberry bushes and wild grape-
vines and the like.

Keith, as I have said, had been wandering about in these
woods, on the lookout for whatever nature might have in
store for him, as was now his daily custom, when he came
upon a nest of young catbirds in a low bush of sumach,

holding up their hungry little mouths for their mother’s


198 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

return. Keith wished to see them fed, and to study their
ways without frightening away the mother; so it occurred to
him that he could climb up into a tall pine-tree near by, and
out on a large, thickly-leaved branch which hung almost
directly over the bush where the nest was built; there, he
thought, he could lie quietly concealed until the mother bird
should come with the expected worms for her babies.

He had been in his shady hiding-place but a few minutes,
when the mother came flying to the nest with a worm which
she crammed down a pair of little yawning jaws, and then
flew swiftly away in search of another. Keith sat comfort-
ably perched on his limb, and kept as still as a mouse, while
he waited to see her return.

Suddenly he was startled by the sound of a harsh voice,
and the snapping and crackling of dry twigs crushed beneath
rapidly approaching feet. Keith peeped cautiously out from



among the leaves, and saw a man, —a dark, scowling, horrible-
looking man, he said, — with a woman and child, walking up
to the very tree where he lay hidden.

I could easily imagine how almost petrified with fear our
boy must have felt, not only at the frightful appearance of
the two tramps, — for tramps of course they were, — but
also at the horribly profane language of the man, as he stood
swearing and storming before the woman, where she had
thrown herself down at the foot of the tree with the sleep-
ing child in her arms. Poor Keith was trembling above them
in such terror that it seemed to him he must have shaken
the very limb he sat on; but of course this was not so, and

the two tramps saw nothing and heard nothing of the little
A NEW BOY COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 199

boy safely concealed amid the green leaves over their
heads.

As soon as Keith -
could collect himself ait

ft AY
GS






sufficiently to listen
to what they were —
saying, he found they

were talking of the
sleeping child in the
woman’s lap. She was

a coarse, red-faced,
black-browed woman,
but she did’ not look so
horribly cruel as the
man; there were even
tears in her eyes as she
looked at the little one asleep in
her arms.

She seemed to be beseeching
the man to let her take
the child with her when
they should move on.



Keith heard her say a. eo <4 ( ae
that she had Aue SS \y ee NR SS
STOW VOgelie iat at eS eae

the “little kid,” oo.

“‘He found they were talking of the sleeping child.”

and that she
“couldn't bear to leave it in the woods to die.” “It’s
little trouble it would be to you,” she said. “Just a bite
200 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

and sup from my own plate now and then, that Pd go with-
out myself; and I’d keep him out of your sight, you bet.”

Then she asked the man why he didn’t kill the child
long ago, if he meant to do it at all. He answered her
that she knew as well as he did that it was because they
had expected to see a reward offered in the papers; and then
he intended to step forward, produce the lost child, and
pocket a lot of money.

* But,” he said, with an oath interspersed here and there,
“T’ve hunted through every paper I could beg or steal for the
last six months, and I’ve had about enough of toting the brat
about the country. We'll never make anything out of the
job, and TPve waited as long as ['m going to for something
to turn up.” Then he said that here was the best place
they'd yet seen “to leave the little cuss in. A regular
forest of trees and bushes, and never a house within three
miles, and not a soul to spy us out.” With that, he ordered
her to go well into the grove, and put the child under a tree,
and come off and leave it there. “Let it die if it wants
to,” he said; “it’s nothing to you and me.”

But the woman still sat holding the baby in her lap,
trying to coax the man to let her keep it. He grew
fiercer and more angry as he refused her. and his threats
became so violent that poor Keith could hardly keep from
screaming in the midst of his own terror. Finally, what was
his horror to see the man take from his pocket a revolver,
and point it at the woman; while he said, in language too
dreadful to even dare to think of, that if she did not in-
stantly obey he would shoot both her and the child!
“He reached it,



where it lay asleep on the grass.*
A NEW BOY COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 203

I do not know how my poor Keith ever endured that
horrible moment; but I think he must have been so_par-
alyzed with fright he could not have made a sound, or even
moved a finger.

At last the woman got up. She was plainly frightened,
for the man must have looked as if he meant his threats.
She moved off slowly, and passed through the outer fringe
of trees to a green mossy place under a pine-tree, which
Keith could see distinctly from where he sat; there she laid
the little one softly down without waking it, kissed it, and
came away. She held her head down, and wiped her eyes
with her hand as if she did not wish her brutal companion
to see her tears, and said quietly, “He'll soon be dead, I
think. I wish some kind body would happen across him.
But it’s likely he’ll die where he is.’ And then, Keith said,
she, too, swore, and cursed the day she was born.

The man took no further notice of her, except to order
her to “shut up!” and led the way back to the old road.
The woman followed him slowly, often glancing back at the
spot, as if she wished to keep a picture of it in her mind.
At length Keith saw the last glimpse of the woman’s
skirt disappear behind the bushes as they turned into the
road; and then, for the first time, he dared to think of
stirring.

Poor boy! he was so benumbed with fright and the con-
tinued holding of all his muscles in their cramped position,
that he could not at first do much more than think of it;
but after a while he began to regain the use of his limbs and
his thoughts, and at once his whole mind was: given to the
204 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

poor little child, and how he could save its life. It was
not until he had got down from the tree, and entered the
woods, and had almost reached the spot where he could see
the sleeping child, that the thought came to him that the
woman might be even that moment returning, and the man
following after her.

This fearful idea became instant agony to him. Whether
to fly through the woods in search of Uncle John, and leave
the baby there, or whether to pick the little thing up, and
get home as well as he could with it in his arms, he could
not decide. He thought in the midst of his fright and con-
fusion, as he ran on, that the man might after all conclude
to come back and kill the child; so he decided quickly that
he could not leave it.

He reached it where it lay sound asleep on the grassy
knoll; he wondered that it could have slept through such an
important moment in its life. He took the little thing up
as softly as he could, and tried to start on with it. The
child was very heavy for him; indeed, it has always been a
source of amazement to me how he ever managed to carry
such a burden so far. He started with it; but in the effort
he had made to get it firmly in his arms, the child awoke,
and immediately began to cry.

This moment was a dreadful one for Keith. What if they
should hear it and return? The thought lent wings to his
feet. He said, “Hush, dear baby; do be good till I get
you home.” He ran on as fast as his heavy burden would
let him. On and on, stumbling here, falling down there ;
over the stones and brambles; never daring to look behind
A NEW BOY COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 205

him, and pleading softly with the baby to “be good.” On
over the ploughed ground, on to the blueberry pasture,
through the bars, and into the mowing where he could see
the house, and feel that if he could only hold out another
moment or two he would be safe at home.

My own brave boy! For was not this a brave act of our
Keith’s — Keith whom we had always called so timid? Truly
it has always seemed to me that it required much heroism
in a boy like Keith to run to that tree, pick up the little
child, and fly with it a quarter of a mile, feeling all the
time that the horrible, murderous man might be following,
perhaps gaining upon him every instant. No wonder the boy
was spent with terror and exhaustion. When we thought of
the danger he had been in, and how, if the man had seen
him, our own Keith might have been lying dead in the wood
that very moment — oh, that was too terrible!

But how we praised him and comforted him, calling him
our brave boy and our hero! “Fraid-cat” indeed! ‘No
one shall ever call you ‘Fraid-cat’ again in my hearing, my
darling,” I said.
206 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

CHAPTER XIV.
LITTLE PETER.

Durine all this exciting time I had not had a moment
to give to the little child so suddenly and strangely thrust
among us. But when John carried Keith away to bathe his
heated, tear-stained face, and to see if he could not lead him
to think of other things after the intense nervous strain
under which the poor boy had been, I turned to the baby,
who still remained quietly in Hannah’s arms, munching con-
tentedly a cookie she had just given him.

“OQ Missus;” said Hannah, “faith, it’s the purtiest babby
Oi iver laid eyes on, so it is.’ And Hannah gave him-a
rousing kiss, which the baby received with +great compla-
cency, and went on eating his cookie.

He was indeed as round,. rosy, fair-skinned, blue-eyed,
yellow-haired a specimen of babyhood as any one would wish
to see. I thought him very pretty, but all babies are that
to me. He looked healthy, and as if he had had enough to
eat; but oh, how dirty he was! And his clothes were too
ragged and soiled to even look at. Poor little fellow!

So here was another castaway thrown into our very arms.
Was it not strange that three boys should come to us in such
singular ways? It seemed to be our fate to have forlorn
little children bestowed upon us, and I began to wonder





—
LITTLE PETER. 207

where it would end. I knew, however, that there was room
in my heart for this newcomer too, and I felt devoutly thank-
ful that the child’s life had been spared through the brave
act of our dear Keith.

For me, the little stranger was simply one more to care
for, to love, and to cherish. Even as these thoughts were
passing through my mind, I was trying to solve the problem
of how he was to be clothed, where he was to sleep, and a
thousand and one other things. But how would it be with
my poor, burdened John? What would he say to another boy
so suddenly thrust upon him? But we could never send the
child away. Where could he go? However, John must not
see him like that.

“Let us give him a bath, Hannah, as quickly as we
can,’ I said, “and put him into something that is at least
clean before Mr. Atherton comes back.”

“Yes, Missus, that we will,’ said Hannah. “The jewel
he is, mim! Ye'll see how purty he is whin he comes out,
mim.”

We hurried to the kitchen, got out a tub, and put the
dear little fellow into it. He was as good as he could be;
not in the least afraid of us, and apparently enjoying the
water; actually lookmg up into our faces and laughing as
he splashed about in it—the rogue. He was a beautifully
formed boy, with not a mark nor blemish on his round little
body. He was so small that we had thought him to be
more of a baby than he really was; for we now found that
he ran all about the room, and was so active and strong
that he could not be far from two years old. He even began
208 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

to talk to us in a baby fashion; but as yet we could make
nothing of what he had to say.

I shall never tell how we first dressed the baby. That
will always remain a secret between my good Hannah and
me. It is enough to say that the foundation of his outer
attire was the despised old kilt which had long lain in
the bottom of Brownie’s trunk. Of course there was not a
thing in the house small enough for the child; but we man-
aged to contrive something in which he could be comfortable,
and even look “as swate as an angel,” Hannah said, before
we emerged with him from the kitchen.

As I started to carry him to the parlor to see my hus-
band, Hannah said, “O Missus! ye’ll be afther kapin’ him,
shure. Ye’ll niver let the darlint go?”

“Yes, indeed, Hannah; we will keep him if we can. We
must talk it over. Of course, the first thing is to try and
find his parents. Oh, how his poor mother must be feeling!
I wonder who he is, and all about him.”

Hannah shook her head wisely. “ Ye’ll kape him, shure,
if ye wait for that. How could ye hunt her up? An’ how
can she tell folks what her swate little angel was like,
widout a spot on his body as big as a pin-head, an’ niver a
sthrawberry mark, nor not’in’ at all, at all.”

I took the little one into the cool, shady parlor, where
John was seated at a table, with Keith and Brownie on
either side of him, and the big “bird book” spread out
before him, explaining for the hundredth time all about the
ways and habits of the originals of the beautiful colored
plates, and answering the eager questions as patiently as
LITTLE PETER. 209

if he had never heard them before. The boys left him when
they saw me enter, and came and stood beside me to see
the new little boy. “Go out, my dears, and hunt for Harold
and Rudolf, and tell them all about it,” said I; for I wished
to have John to myself for a moment or two. He, too, got
up from his chair, and stood before me expectantly.

I looked up at him. “Well, John,” I said, “you see;
here is another.”

“Yes, Rachel,’ he returned, “I see; here is another.”
His lip twitched a little, as if he wanted to smile, for he
knew what was coming.

“ John, I do not see any way out of it all except to
keep this baby.”

“Of course you don’t, Rachel. I know that very well.”

“ But don’t you think so too, John?”

“Don’t I think what?”

“That we must take care of this little child.”

“Of course, my dear; we will take the best of care of
him for a time; but only for a time, I think,” he said very
quietly. “You must see now, Rachel, that we have done
all we can. No one could expect us to adopt another child.
I will see the superintendent of the Town Farm” —

“John!” I exclaimed. “Send this sweet baby to the
Town Farm! and when you know it was only last week we
heard the new superintendent was actually cruel to the in-
mates. You never would send him there!”

“JT do not know that what we heard is true, Rachel ;
if it is, then I will try to find some one in our own neigh-
borhood to take the child.”
210 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

“But there is no one who would take care of so young
a child. Most of the neighbors are old couples who would
not be troubled with a child, except the Wilsons; and they
are very poor, and have nine of their own. John, I wish
you would say that we may keep him. I do not believe any
one would care so much for him as I would. And why was
he sent to us in this way unless it were meant that we should
keep him. I cannot help feeling that harm will come of it
if we send him away. How do we know but good may come
to us if we keep him; though that is not the reason why I
wish to do so. John,’ I said, “you know how I have al-
ways loved babies, and I think of my own dear baby when
this little one sits on my knee.” And the tears filled my
eyes.

I could see that John was greatly touched. ‘Dear Rachel,
I know it well,’ he said. “And I, too, think of our own
little child. But I look farther ahead than you, and I see
the time come when we shall have two great boys on our
hands to feed and clothe and educate. And by and by the
great boys will be young men to start out in life; how will
it be then? How can we justly burden ourselves with still
another ?”

“But, John, we will not look ahead to that time now.
We have only to live day by day. When that time comes, a
way will be provided. Let us not think of that part of it
at all. The baby seems to be sent to us now. Let us provide
for and cherish it now.

“And John,’ I added, “you know, ‘Inasmuch as ye have

299

done it unto one of the least of these —
LITTLE PETER. AAs

John was silent a moment; when he spoke again, it was
with a tear in his eye. “You are right, Rachel; and it
shall be as you say. The way looks dark before me. I can-
not see much lght anywhere; but I believe you are right.
We will try not to think too much of the future. Perhaps
we could not find any one who would be as kind to the child
as you will be; and he will be a great comfort to you, my
dear, whatever comes of it.”

“Yes, indeed, John!” I said; ‘and a comfort to you too,
I hope. See what a bright, contented little fellow he is. I
begin to love him already.”

“Yes; he is a bright boy,” said John. “But we must try
to find his parents, Rachel.”

‘‘Of course we must. My heart aches for the poor mother
who has lost this precious child. I wonder who she is!” The
baby looked up in my face with an earnest expression in his
blue eyes, as if he, too, wondered ; but, alas! he could not tell
us what we wished to know.

We talked about it a long time, gradually cheering each
other up so much that when we heard the four old boys
come into the house to greet the new boy, we were feeling
quite bright and happy.

“T don’t believe we will ever regret keeping him, Jolin,”
I said; “even for our own sakes. I feel somehow that he
will bring us good luck. He is the third one; and in all
the old fairy stories it was always the number three which
proved the lucky one. Besides, how does the old song
run ?—

«“¢There’s luck in odd numbers,’ says Rory O’More.”
bo
—
bo

THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

The boys rushed in, headed by Harold, to see the little
stranger, and to talk about Keith’s wonderful adventure. I
do not think they paid attention to the baby particularly,
for boys are not generally fond of such little folks; but
they were very curious about him, and wanted to know
where we thought the man and woman had found him,
and where he had lived with them, and all about it. But
of course we could tell them nothing; and the baby, who
still sat in my lap, laughed and peeped at the boys, not in
the least afraid of anyone, and apparently perfectly happy
and contented.

“I wish we knew the best way to start upon our investi-
gations,’ I said. ‘We must begin at once to search for the
parents.”

“Yes; we must advertise in one or two Boston papers,
and ask other papers to copy,” said John; for of course it
was necessary for us to consider even the cost of advertising
in those days. “I will see about it at once. The parents
probably live in Boston,’ he added.

“Do you suppose he is the child of wealthy parents,
Aunt Rachel?” asked Harold.

I cannot imagine,” I returned; for it is astonishing when
you see rich people’s children deprived of their fine clothing,
how much they are like poor ones. “I am afraid it will be
almost impossible to find his parents; for he has no mark
upon him anywhere to distinguish him, and of course what-
ever he wore at the time he was stolen must have been
taken from him long ago, for he was simply in dirty rags.”

“ According to what Keith heard the man say, it must
LITTLE PETER. 213

have been six months ago when he was stolen,’ said my
husband. ‘That seems to be all we have to guide us. It is
a poor outlook, but we must do what we can.’ His eye fell
on Brownie, who was looking at the baby in a disgusted sort
of way. “What do you think of the new boy, Brownie?”
he asked.

“He's no good,” said Brownie scornfully.

“He can’t help you catch frogs just yet, eh?”

“No; nor do anything else; except sit around on laps. He
can’t even tell his own name” —

“No more could you at his age,” struck in Keith, glaring
quite fiercely at Brownie. It appeared that Keith had, all
at once, adopted the baby for his own, and was prepared to
do battle in his behalf against all scorners and scoffers. He
came up softly, and put his arm around the baby, who sud-
denly held up his little hands to him, as if he knew his
deliverer; and Keith took him into his own arms in a tender,
loving fashion, which touched us two older people exceed-
ingly. From that time Keith seemed to consider himself the
child’s chief counsellor and protector, and was never too tired
or too busy to look after him, and amuse him, and be good
to him generally.

‘Brownie is jealous because he can’t sit in Aunt Rachel’s
lap any more,” said Harold.

“Yes; your nose is out of joint now, young man,” said
Uncle John.

“Tt was ’most out of joint before,” said Brownie darkly,
remembering his recent experience. But John was not aware

of Brownie’s peculiar theories in regard to the nose.
214 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

After all, it was Hannah who first managed to understand
the little one’s talk. She immediately became all devotion
to his every want, and spent all her spare moments watch-
ing him, playing with him, talking to him. That very
evening she brought him to me, saying, “Hear till him,
Missus! It is ‘Do’ he calls himself. Hear till him, the
blissid darlint!’? She had a cookie in her hand, “Ask for
it purty, now, darlint,” she said.

“Gi to Do,” said the child obediently, putting out his
hand for the cookie. Hannah rewarded him at once with
the cookie and a kiss besides, and said, “Call him, Missus.”’

‘“ Where is ‘Do’?I called. “Where is little ‘Do’? And
the little fellow turned around and ran to me, saying, ‘“ Here
‘Do’! here ‘Do’! putting his hand on his breast, and laugh-
ing as if it were a game he had been used to playing.

“I do believe it is his name,” I said. We tried him in
various ways, and became convinced that it was the name
by which he had at least always called himself, though we
could not imagine what the real name might have been.
However, it would perhaps prove a slight additional clew by
which we could reach his parents, and we advertised in that
way; saying that he called himself “Do,” and that we sup-
posed him to have been stolen about six months before; of
course, we added a minute description of his form and fea-
tures, which was literally all we could do.

Nothing came of it. Day by day we looked for answers
to our advertisements, and searched all the papers that came
in our way to see if the parents had in their turn recently
advertised. But we learned nothing whatever of the little
LITTLE PETER. 215

stranger who had now become one of our own family, and
whom we were growing to love as our own. He was a
healthy, merry, happy little rogue, and no one

could have helped loving him; but it was fie
Hannah who was his abject slave, and who Ce
was never tired of petting, of caring, and
“doing” for him within her own domain; and
it was Keith who took the whole charge of
him out-of-doors. It now became the correct
thing to speak of him always as “ Keith’s boy,”
just as Rudolf was “Aunt Rachel’s boy.” I
really think Keith felt his responsibility in



the case of the baby almost as much as I did

i

in regard to my own dear “waif.”
We began by calling the baby “Do,” but
it was only a short time before I saw that the name must

‘Keith's Boy."

be changed. Keith was so easily teased about his child that
it was a constant temptation to Harold and Brownie to take
advantage of this fact, and to ring the changes upon the un-
fortunate name of “Do.” Sometimes they called him “ Bread-
dough,” because his firm white flesh made them think of a
nicely risen loaf of bread all ready for the oven; some-
times it was “Raw-dough,” when he fell down and chafed
his rosy hands or face; and this kept Keith in such a chronic
state of indignation “that his baby should be so insulted,”
that I saw another name must be bestowed upon the little
one at once; and I said that we would call him something
else, and that Keith should choose the name because it

was his baby.
216 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

To my great astonishment he selected the name of “ Pe-

>

ter.” “Why, my dear!” said I, “Why give him such a
name as that? Give him a pretty name. Not such a name
asteibeten lies

“Better call him Obadiah and be done with it,” said Har-
old in disgust.

But Keith insisted that he would lke him to be called
“Peter,” and said gravely that it had always been a favorite
name with him.

There was nothing more to be said. If Keith was sure
that “Peter”? was his favorite name, we would call the little
one “Peter;” but I was sorry about it, for I did not at all
agree with Keith. I soon softened it to ‘ Peterkin” for my
own part; while Hannah clung, as she had always done, to
* Blissed Babby.”

I must say it did not quell all disturbance, however; be-
cause very soon after the change was made, I heard Brownie
ask Keith why Peter was like a cow? and when Keith with
great scorn refused to guess why he resembled that useful
animal, Brownie began to dance and shouted, ‘“ Because he’s

299

‘Peter, Peter, punkin-eater. However, this was but a mo-
mentary ripple upon the otherwise quiet waters; and presently
things righted themselves, and my five boys were all good
friends and loving comrades.

I must not forget to tell you of something of great in-
terest, to us at least, which occurred about this time. One
morning Harold came in with a very bright, sunshiny face,
and deposited the mail in my lap. Among the letters was

one from his father to my husband. I wondered at this, for
LITTLE PETER. JA.

he did not often write directly to us, though he never failed
to send pleasant messages in the boys’ letters. I saw that
Harold had his own weekly letter in his hand, and he looked
so happy and mysterious I was quite puzzled.

The quickest way to find out about the matter was to
go in search of John, and then to sit down on the old
mossy log, which was still his favorite resting-place, and there
read the letter together. And what do you think it was
about? It was one of the kindest letters we had ever received
from anybody, and told us how news had come to Mr. Pem-
broke from his son Harold, and also from his brother Dr.
Pembroke, of the calamity which had recently befallen us,
and of the share his own children had borne in the sad affair.
He quite agreed with both the doctor and Harold, he said,
that it never would have happened if his boys had not been
on the spot; and he added that it would pain him greatly
if we refused to allow him out of his abundance (for of
course we all knew that Mr. Pembroke was a wealthy man),
to make good our loss to us, who were not so blessed in the
way of worldly goods as himself. In fact, he showed so much
feeling in the letter, and intimated so plainly that it would
cause him pain and mortification if we refused him the favor,
that even my husband, with all his pride (and never was any
one better supplied with that commendable trait of character
than my dear husband), could see no way to deny a wish so
kindly expressed. He did not like to be indebted to any
man, as I well knew; at the same time, with that kind letter
in his hand urging him not to let another and richer man

remain his debtor, he could not seem so churlish as to refuse


218 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

a request so cordially and gracefully preferred. For my own
part, I am not so proud as perhaps I ought to be, and I found
myself very willing indeed to let Mr. Pembroke help us; for
I saw that it was really his wish to do so, and I could but
think of the help it would be to us in the midst of all our
mishaps and accidents. I did not allow John to leave his
seat until we had talked the matter over thoroughly, and had
composed in our own minds the grateful letter of acceptance
John would write that night.

Several times in the course of our conversation I had seen
Harold’s black eyes peeping around the corner of the carriage-
house at us, and I knew how impatient the boy was to learn
the result of our lengthy interview.

“Come here, my dear,’ I said. “I know who has been
setting this nice little trap for Uncle John and Aunt Rachel
to step into, and keeping so still all the time too. I know
all about it now.” And if there was a tear in my eye as
I held out my hand to him, it was no matter.

The dear boy came up to us with his eager face all
in a glow. He sat down right between us on the old log,
and put a hand within each arm beside him. ‘ Dear Uncle
John and Auntie.” he said, “I know you are going to be
good, and let my father do it; now, won’t you? I knew
father would want to do it when I told him all about it,
and how it was all our fault. I thought I never could wait
for the letter to come; and now I am so happy, Aunt Rachel.
I never could have got over it, if we had made Uncle John
lose so much money. But now it is all right, and I am

so glad.”


LITTLE PETER. 219

Was he not a dear boy? I could only kiss him, and thank
him in broken words; and Uncle John put his arm around
him, and held him close; and he tried to speak, but I saw
he could not.

“Didn't I keep my secret well, Auntie? Brownie’s been
at me for the last four weeks, night and day, to get it out
of me; but I made up my mind I wouldn’t tell a living soul
till I could get my letter from father. And Uncle Doctor
entered right into it, like a jolly old uncle, and he wrote too.
And, Aunt Rachel, I’ve got the kindest letter from father ;
and he said he was pleased with me because I had not tried
to cover up my share in it all; and he said he was glad he
had a son who—but I don’t suppose I ought to speak of
that.” And Harold blushed and faltered a little, though he
looked very proud at his father’s praise, as any boy has a
right to do; so, altogether, we were three very happy people
sitting out there on that old log.

The very next day Dr. Pembroke came to see us, having
been empowered by his brother to take charge of all the
money arrangements; and in less than a week from that time
our new barn was actually begun, with plenty of men on
hand, plenty of building material, and plenty of everything ;
and from that time on the sound of hammer and chisel and
plane and saw was ringing in the air from morning till
night — the merriest music in my ears.

And what a joy it was to my boys! My only fear was,
that amid all the stones, lumber, beams, scaffoldings, tools,
and workmen, some one might meet with a serious accident ;
for it was a remarkable fact that the few square rods of


220 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

ground which held all this confusion was the most fascinat-
ing spot on the whole farm to the four boys. Even little
Peter ran away from us every chance he could get, and
dodged in and out among the men, and tumbled about on
the boards and shavings so fearlessly that Hannah said her
poor heart was bumping about in the top of her throat most
of the time, and her “legs was run off complately.”

It was a great pleasure to John and me, also, to watch
the progress of the building; and, insensibly, our hearts grew
lighter day by day. One night, just after our early supper,
we two stood together watching little Peter as he toddled
about in the long grass, having a good frolic with all four
of the other boys; and I said to John, who was smiling and
looking happily on at the romping, “John, do you remem-
ber I said the baby was to bring us good luck? And so
he has. I believe he will bring us still more.” John said,
‘* Nonsense!” for of course he is not at all superstitious.

“But it will be so, John. I believe better times are ahead
of us. The baby is bringing us good luck.”

“Perhaps so, my dear,” answered John. “I hope it with
all my heart, but we are not out of the woods yet. We
must not halloo too soon.”

And perhaps he was right, as you may say, when I tell
you what happened to us next.


THE ACCIDENT. 221

CHAPTER XV.
THE ACCIDENT.

I swatnt never forget that 10th of August. It will
always stand out in my mind sharp and clear, among all
the days of that strangely eventful summer. I was sitting
in my room when my husband quietly opened the door.
* Rachel,” he said, and I saw that he was very pale, “ Racliel,
you must not be alarmed, but there has been an accident!”

“Not Keith!” I said, startmg up,—and I seem to hear
my voice now as it rose shrill and high, and like another
woman’s voice, — “not Keith!”

“No, not Keith! It is Rudolf!”

“Rudolf! But he is not dead, John? My poor boy is
not dead?” And I felt myself suddenly grown weak and
trembling all over.

“No, Rachel; do not be so frightened. He is not dead,
but hurt and stunned. They are bringing him in, and he
must go on our bed. Get it ready, Rachel.” And John
hurried to the bed, and began to put aside the spread.
“Give him the best we have,” I heard him say; “the
very best.”

“Oh! was it at the barn? How did he fall? Oh! is it
so very bad? and must my Rudolf die?”

“No, no! I hope not, Rachel. A doctor is with hin.
ee, THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

Wait a little, and I will tell you all. I am thinking not
only of his hurt, but of what he has done.”

As John spoke, he sank into a chair, nervous and trem-
bling. The next moment, however, he started up as he saw
a long wagon approaching the house. Some men _ were
kneeling in it, carefully supporting something; and, as they
reached the door, I caught a glimpse of the white, uncon-
scious face of my dear boy. Oh, could it be that he was
actually dead ?

But this was no time for even the briefest thought. I
must act. Hastily laying aside the sheets, I made the bed all
ready for my darling; and in another moment they brought
him in, with his beautiful face still as in death, and his
hand hanging lifeless by his side. How had it happened?
Was this to be the end of everything for the sad young
life, so strangely left in my charge ?

I could not endure the thought. After I had done what
I could to help, I left the others bending over him, and stole
out softly to his own room. There I sat down, at the foot of
his little cot, and wept bitterly, as I thought that I might
never again see his loving eyes glance up at me from his
pillow, or hear his childish voice saying in his own quaint
way, “I do always love my own lady.”

After what seemed to me a long time, John came to me
with hope in his eyes, and a tremulous smile on his lips.
“Rachel,” he said, “let us give thanks to the Giver of all
good; our boy will live! The doctor says there is no internal
injury. The leg is badly fractured, and he is. still uncon-
scious from the fall; but that will pass away, and with good




THE ACCIDENT. 223

care and nursing we will have our boy spared to us
Stille

Even through the wave of deep relief which passed over
me at these words, I noted with wonder the thrill in John’s
voice, and the tender joy in his face as he told me the good
tidings. If it had been Keith, he could hardly have shown
more love and gratitude. I had not looked for so much
feeling on his part toward my poor Rudolf.

“And now, Rachel,” he said, “I will try to tell you
what our boy has done. My dear,’ and he spoke very
solemnly, “if it had not been for the brave boy lying
wounded on that bed in the next room, it is I who would
have been brought home to you crushed and mangled” —

“John!” I cried sharply, “what can you mean?”

Rudolf has just saved my life at the risk of his own,
my dear,” he said quietly. “Do not take it so, dear Rachel;
we are both safe now.”

But he had been too harsh and sudden with me. I could
not bear it; I sank down on my knees on the floor, saying
im a wild way, “O John! John!” And yet I could not actu-
ally realize it. That John — my husband—had been in peril
of his life! and Rudolf had been able to save him! I could
not seem to understand it, but kept on saying, ‘John!
John!” in that helpless fashion.

My husband raised me tenderly, and tried to soothe my
frightened nerves, saying, “Dear, it is over now; the danger
is past, and Rudolf will get well. Try to think of it in that
way. I should have told you more gently.” By and by,
when I’ had become more quiet, and had ceased to tremble




294 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

from alarm at what had so nearly happened, John told me
all he could about it. He could not tell it all; and it was
not until several hours had elapsed, when Rudolf, with his
leg set and firmly bandaged, and consciousness restored, was
resting, quietly comfortable after the ordeal he had undergone,
that the doctor allowed him to talk a little, and tell me his
part of the story.

John’s own story was this: He was returning from the
village, and, feeling somewhat pressed for time, had taken a
short cut across the fields, intending to walk for a little
distance upon the railroad (a thing he ought never to have
thought of doing), and so save himself still more time. After
he had come to the track, and had walked on a few rods,
his eye fell upon a small and curious piece of rock. At
once, the instinct of the naturalist being roused, I suppose, he
stopped to examine it, and stood there, as he said, for some
moments, studying and admiring it; for it proved to be a
fossil he had long wished to find. While he waited thus,
thinking of nothing in the world but his beautiful bit of
stone, he was suddenly startled by a great rushing and scram-
bling behind him, and a child’s voice screamed out in agony,
“Run, Uncle John!’ At the same time he felt himself
violently pushed from behind, and the weight of the child
thrown upon him. Instinctively his feet seemed to carry
him off the track and down the hill, and as he went. for
the first time he became conscious of the rumbling of an
approaching train, and turning his head he saw the morning
express coming up with horrible speed to the spot where he
~had stood but a few seconds before. One thinks swiftly in


THE ACCIDENT. 225

such moments; at the same instant, he was aware of the child
rushing down the hill, and of his sharp ery of pain, as he
suddenly dropped to the ground a few yards away. He ran
to him, and bending over him saw that it was Rudolf, and
that in falling the boy’s head had come in contact with a
large stone, and that the blow had rendered him senseless.
“T say to you, Rachel,” said my husband, “that the whole
thing had been so sudden that at first I felt too stunned
to do anything. I believed the boy to be dead; and all at
once the thought of what he had done for me,—for I seemed
to understand that he had been up on the ledge of rock
above the track, and that he had run down to save me; —
the thought of that, I say, and the knowledge of my cruel
treatment of him for these last weeks, came over me so
strongly, I seemed to have no room for anything but re-
morse in my brain. ‘He lies there dead, I felt myself say-
ing, ‘that I might live.’ I will confess to you, my wife,
that long ago, in my own mind, I came to the conclusion that
Rudolf could not have taken that money. His daily life,
his cheerful fulfilling of his duties, his upright conduct, his
patient sadness under my displeasure, have not been lost upon
me; and if I had known how to take back my harsh words
I would have done it before now. As I looked at him lying
by that stone, and thought that he was dead, and that he
died for me—wmy dear! it was terrible remorse that I felt.
He was only a child, and I a man; but I hope never to sul-
fer in that way again. I can hardly tell how long I remained
in that dazed condition, probably not many seconds; then my
scattered thoughts collected themselves, and I knew I must


226 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

get him home. I ran across the brook, and through the
meadow to the highway, and there I met the Battlefords in
their long wagon; another man was with them, and together
we got poor Rudolf into the wagon. After we started for
home, whom should we meet but the new young doctor in the
village, and he tied his horse among the trees and came on
with us. But, my dear wife, may you never know the anx-
iety I felt until I heard that the child was not only alive,
but out of danger. And, Rachel, if I can do anything to drive
the remembrance of these last wretched weeks from his mind,
it shall not be my fault if they are not forgotten.”

There was a moisture in John’s eyes, and his voice broke
as he said these words. But oh, how glad I was to hear
all this — or should be, when I had time to think about it.
Now my thoughts must be given to my poor boy, lying on
his bed of pain. I must spend beside him every moment
I could spare, and so I did.

Later on, it was into my eyes he looked when the first
gleam of consciousness came into his face; it was my tremu-
lous kiss of love and gratitude he first felt upon his lips,
as I prayed God to bless him and guard him always, and,
if it might be, grant him his heart’s desire all through his
life, for what he had done for me and mine.

Tt was not until the twilight of that long August day
had come that the doctor gave permission to Rudolf to tell
to me his part of the story.

It happened very much as John had supposed. Rudolf
had been in one of his sad and restless moods that day.
Early in the morning the other boys had started off for
THE ACCIDENT. 227

Hazel Brook, to spend a long forenoon with the inhabitants
of that favorite stream. They had invited Rudolf to go too.
But he, feeling, as I have said, restless and unhappy, had
declined the invitation, and had presently wandered off by
himself to the woods some distance from the farm. He
rambled about until, feeling a little tired, he thought he
would go to a great flat bowlder, which was a favorite
resting-place of his, and there sit and play upon his violin.

Now, this bowlder was in a rather singular place. After
leaving the woods, and passing on over a narrow width of
open ground, one came suddenly upon the verge of a steep
hill; a quarter of the way down this hill, projecting from
an immense ledge of rock, was this large, flat bowlder. It
formed a part of the ledge, and was a safe enough place
to sit; and I had given him permission to step down there
quietly now and then, to play or read, as he might wish.
But I had warned all the boys not to climb about the hill;
for it was so very steep it quite deserved the name they
had given it, — “the precipice.”

I feared to have them play there; not only on account
of its precipitous height and the rough and jagged stones
strewn about, but because, down at a little distance from its
foot, winding about the hill itself in a sharp curve, lay the
railroad. “Never play about ‘the precipice,’’’ I said to the
boys; “if you should once get started down the hill, you
could not stop running, but would keep on and on, and who
knows but a train might be coming at that very minute.
And not only that; if you did escape the train, you would
go on down, past the railroad, and land perhaps at the very


228 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

foot of the hill in the brook.” It was, however, safe to
step down carefully to the bowlder, and I had occasionally
done so myself.

Rudolf, as I said, had gone to the bowlder. He sat there
playing his violin, and thinking about— “you know what,
Aunt Ra-tel,’ he said. From his seat he could look down
to the railroad beneath him. All at once he became
aware that my husband was standing there, exactly in the
middle of the track, with his back to the curve in the road.
He had evidently picked up something from the ground, and
was examining it intently, quite lost to all remembrance of
time or place. He stood motionless there; and Rudolf, gazing
at him, was suddenly struck by the thought, “What if the
cars should come!” No sooner had the words sprung into the
boy’s mind than he heard the rumble of a coming train.

“ Aunt Ra-tel,” he said earnestly, “what could I do? I
thought of so many things in that moment. I thought of
how you said that we never must run down that hill. And
then I thought of Uncle John — Mr. Atterton I mean —
standing there, and I knew he could not hear the train.
Besides, his back was to it. I knew all in a moment that, un-
less I could reach him, he would be killed. Then I thought
of you, Aunt Ra-tel, and how you would feel to have him
killed; a little, too, I thought of how I would fall on the
track, and the cruel cars would pass over me. I thought
of my father, and then I thought of you again, and then
I did start; and oh, how I did run down the hill, and I
never stumbled nor fell till I came where he stood. And
I had my arms out, and I ran against him, and yelled to


THE ACCIDENT 229

him, and pushed him ahead of me with all my might, and
I saw the great engine so close to us—and then I don’t
know anything more.”

Was it any wonder, as my boy closed his tale of brave,
unselfish devotion, that my face was buried in the pillow



“Run, Uncle John!’ he screamed.

beside him, that my arm was about him, patting him softly,
and that my tears were saying for me what my tongue refused
to utter? But there was no need to speak. Child though
he was, he understood all I would have said, if I could. His
hand stole to my face, and stroked my cheek, gently.






230 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

“We are so glad the train didn’t go over him, are not
we, Aunt Ra-tel ?”’

“ovesimyadariing

“Q Aunt Ra-tel, it makes me feel so queer when I think
how you would be feeling now if he had been killed.”

“Yes, dear: and if you had been killed too.”

“Yes, I know,” he said softly ; and after a little pause,
“T am glad I was not killed, Aunt Ra-tel; and yet some-
times things are so hard.’ And he sighed.

Then my tongue suddenly became loosened, and I proudly
told him all that Uncle John had said to me. I enlarged
upon it too, and made it sound as good as I could, for my
dear boy's comfort; for I felt that he richly deserved the
assurance of Uncle John’s renewed interest and affection.

Indeed, it was a comfort to him. He listened with such
a delighted look in his eyes, and such an eager flush on his
cheek, that I was afraid I had done wrong in telling him at
that time; so I tried to quiet and soothe him, and told him
to go to sleep, and in the morning he should see Uncle John
for himself. He gave me his good-night kiss, and obediently
closed his eyes. But presently I discovered that he had be-
come restless, and was surprised to see that the smiles had
vanished, and tears were standing in the eyes.

“What is it, my dear?” I asked in much concern.

“QO Aunt Ra-tel, I have lost my violin! I never did think
of it till this minute. Oh, the violin mein vater did give to
me, and did tell me never to let go away from me. Oh,
what can I do now?”

He burst into sobs, as if the violin had been a thing of


THE ACCIDENT. 231

life. No doubt it was as precious to him as if it had been
a dear living friend; in fact, at one time, not so very far
back, it had seemed his only one.

““We will find the violin, my dear. Do not trouble about
it. Can you remember doing anything with it?”

“Oh, no; I only remember starting up to run. But I
had been playing just when I first saw Mr.. Atterton.”

“You probably put it down right by the bowlder. No
one would go there to-night, so it will stay where you
dropped it. The first thing in the morning I will send some
one up there for it. So now close the poor tired eyes, and
go to sleep, my darling; in the morning I hope you will
have the dear violin.”

But he did not have to wait till morning; for when I
went down-stairs I found John out on the porch, and with
him were the Battlefords, father and son, who had come
to learn how “the little chap was a-bearin’ up by this time,”
as old Mr. Battleford said.

When I told them ‘of the child’s sorrow for his lost
violin, the old man clapped young Bob on the shoulder, and
gave him a shove which sent him off the step, as his father
exclaimed, “There sha’n’t be no waitin’ fer ter-morrer mornin’,
fer that brave little chap while m to the fore. Bob Battle-
ford, you jest start fer that air hill. Don’t ye wait fer no
bum-byes ner ter-morrer mornin’s. Git along naow, an’ don’t
ye come back without that fiddle, if it takes all ter-night an’
ter-morrer night an’ every night next week ter find it. I
tell ye, that’s a little chap wuth doin’ suthin fer. It wuz a
mighty brave thing he done, an’ I don’t care who knows it.”


bo
eo
bo

THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

I thought I could see the old man’s eyes glisten in the
dim light, and I am not sure but John’s and my own did
also, as we listened to this hearty praise of our Rudolf, feel-
ing a sincere pleasure in what our kind old friend said,
though perhaps aware that it might not be couched in the
most polished language in the world.

Young Bob, nothing loath, started off with a merry
whistle, and in less than an hour we heard him coming

back singing, —

“Oh, hang up the fiddle and the bow.”

Then he appeared in the door, waving the precious violin-case
over his head.

“T found the box and the fiddle and the bow all on the
bowlder, just where he had left ’em. I was glad enough I
went to-night after ’em, for it’s going to rain like Hail Co-
lumby before long.”

I, too, was glad to get the precious treasure so soon.
With quick steps I mounted the stairs and peeped at my
boy. But he had already dropped off to sleep; so I placed
the beloved violin within his arm, that he might feel it
close to him when he should wake; then I sat down to
watch him, and to ponder with a thankful heart on all
the blessings that had fallen to my lot this day, and to
thank God again for the gift of my husband and our boy.
©
es

THE LOST MONEY IS FOUND. 23

CHAPTER XVI.
THE LOST MONEY IS FOUND.

Wnuo could successfully portray the astonishment and con-
sternation of the three boys, Harold, Keith, and Brownie,
when they returned from their fishing, with rods slung over
their shoulders, and one poor little string of dry perch care-
lessly swinging in Brownie’s hand, and learned what had
happened to Rudolf on that eventful morning.

For once their nimble tongues were silent, as they gazed
with awed looks at the door of the closed room where the
poor boy was lying, still in his unconscious state. They went
softly down the stair; and later I saw them quietly seated
upon a pile of lumber near the new barn, with little Peter
playing about from one to another. But they themselves
were not playing; and I knew their young hearts were anx-
ious, and that they were full of sympathy for Uncle John
and Aunt Rachel in this new trouble.

By the next morning we were feeling brighter ourselves,
and this caused the children to brighten too. Their faces
quite lost the anxious, startled look of the day before; they
were full of eager questions, and had to be told the whole
story over and over. specially did they clamor to be al-
lowed to enter the bedroom where our young hero lay in
state, with his face very pale, and his leg bound immovably

ie ee
254 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

in its hard framework, but he himself feeling quite com-
fortable. His violin was on the pillow beside him, and a look
of keen expectation in his eyes. And I knew what it was he
waited for. It was for John’s promised visit; and before I
would yield to the boys’ impatient entreaties, I sent my hus-
band in, and closed the door upon him; for I wished this first
meeting to be undisturbed by anybody.

It seemed a long time before John came out. When he
did, there was a tender look upon his face, and his eyes were
moist. He took my hand, and said simply, “It is all right,
Rachel, between the little one and me.”

Then he turned and went on his way. I did not ask
for more. I knew John well: it was something he would
not wish to talk about; but I understood that, from that time,
Rudolf was to be to him as his very own, and I could have
wept for gladness to know that always, hereafter, my own dear
“waif” was to feel the love, and be taken into the shelter, of
that faithful heart.

When I softly entered the chamber, Rudolf held his arms
out to me, and raised a little happy, tear-stained face to mine.

“Q Aunt Ra-tel,’ he said, “he was so good to me. I
know just how he feels now about it all, and he knows just

how I feel. And we are all right now. I never can love
, oO

my Uncle John enough; for, Aunt Ra-tel,’ he said almost
solemnly, “do you know, he says I am to call him ‘ Uncle
John,’ just like Keith and the other boys. I always wished
I could, but I did not ever expect it. And he says I am
to be his boy just as Keith is. O Aunt Ra-tel, I am so
happy!”
THE LOST MONEY IS FOUND. 235

Then the dear boy, weakened by his condition and the
long nervous strain he had been under, burst into such a
sudden storm of sobbing, that I was obliged to use all my
powers of coaxing and soothing, and even of reproof, before
T could quiet him. I do not think that even I had realized
what our poor Rudolf had really suffered, until this complete
breaking down of all his self-restraint.

But they were tears of happiness he shed; and they did
him no harm, though I had feared they might. After he
became more composed, he said, “Dear Aunt Ra-tel, he does
not think I took the money. He knows I did not, just as
you do. And that seems the best of all. Only, Aunt Ra-tel,
if we could find the money I should be a little happier yet,
though I do not know that I could be that.”

“Yes, dear,” I said; “but never mind the money. We
will think of it no more. Now that Uncle John has for-
gotten it, we will forget it too.”

“But do you think we will ever find it?”

“No, my dear, I begin to fear not; but we will not
mind. We will be just as happy without knowing where
it has gone.”

“ Yes, we will be happy; but I do wish yet that we could
find it,” said Rudolf a little soberly.

But now the boys were heard outside, impatient to come
in. Then who so pleased to see them as Rudolf, as he lay
there comfortably in his bed, looking at them with smiles
on his happy face? The three boys seemed not to know
what to do first, but stood in a brief silence gazing at him.

“Well,” said Harold after his moment’s scrutiny of the
236 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

invalid’s countenance, “I didn’t suppose it was such jolly
good fun to break your leg.” I never saw him look like
that before; he’s actually brimming over about it. I believe
I'll go out and break my leg, if it feels so good as that.”

But Harold did not know quite all the experiences through
which Rudolf had lately passed, and it is not stirprising that
he could not account for the shining eyes and the joyous
smiles on the pale little face.

But that was not all that Harold said. He went softly
over to the side of the bed, and put his hand on Rudolf’s
hair, and began to stroke it; and then he bent down and
whispered something —TI do not know what, but I think it
must have been some word good to hear, such as might
naturally pass between loving comrades ; for the next moment
Rudolf glanced up at him with a bright smile, and nodded
happily, and he threw his arm around Harold’s neck, and kept
it there a while.

Then Keith came on the other side, and took the hand
lying by Rudolf’s side, and began to twist the fingers together
in a way Keith sometimes had when he captured his uncle’s
hand. He said nothing. Boys do not say much at such
times; but I am sure Rudolf knew how glad his loving little
friend was that his life had been spared in that terrible rush
down the hill.

As for Brownie, however, he was still Brownie the irre-
pressible. After the first glance at the invalid, when he saw
that he looked quite comfortable, and even happy, he did not
consider it necessary to waste any time in greetings, but pro-
ceeded to carry out a plan which had just entered his head.
THE LOST MONEY IS FOUND. 237

This was suddenly to scramble on the bed, and tuck him-
self down close by Rudolf’s side, under the spread, before
I could see what the little rogue was about. This, how-
ever, I felt would not do; but Rudolf said that Brownie
did not hurt his leg at all, and he liked to have him there;
so the little fellow remained, with his rosy face beside
the pale one on the same pillow, looking up at us with his
merry black eyes, and pretending that his leg was broken
too, and that he must have some of the nice toast and egg
and currant jelly he had seen carried up for Rudolf’s break-
fast.

Presently we were all talking it over together; and Harold
and Keith were extremely interested in the setting of the
leg, and had even some criticisms to make on the way it
was supported in its frame, and were quite sure they could
make something better, — quite after the manner of boys, —
and Brownie was talking about the journey down the hill
to reach Uncle John. He thought it had been entirely un-
necessary for Rudolf to break his leg, and was sure he could
run from the top to the bottom without falling once. But
the idea of the “'Tumble-bug” flying down “the precipice”
in any other way than head first was quite inconceivable
to the rest, and caused Rudolf to laugh so heartily that I
was obliged to turn the boys out of the room for fear of
the consequences.

However, there was no difficulty in keeping Rudolf quiet
after that; for that very afternoon, as I was looking from
the window, what should I see drive up to the door but
one of the most beautiful little dun-colored ponies I had


238 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

ever beheld. It was attached to a shining new pony cart,
and a boy was driving it. This boy got out at the door;
and instead of knocking or trying to attract any one’s atten-
tion, he quietly tied the pony to one of the pillars of the
porch, and then walked off down the carriage-road and on
down the lane, quite as if the whole pony establishment
were a package from some shop, that he had been told to
deliver at a certain time and place. Amazed at this pro-
ceeding, I went down at once. When I reached the door,
there was the beautiful pony arching his head and pawing
the ground impatiently ; but fastened to its harness was a
large card, and this is what I read upon it : —
“My NAME 1s Ros Roy;
and I am sent as a birthday gift to

Master Harotp PEMBROKE,

from his loving father.”

Well! Well! what would that kind father do next for
his two boys? What shouts of joy would be dinning our
ears when these boys should first behold this beautiful gift.
I hastened up to the blackberry patch, where I knew they
all were helping, or pretending to help, the berry-pickers; and
when I had almost reached the field, I called and beckoned
them to come to me. .

“OQ boys!” I said, ““some one has come to see you.”

“Who is it, Auntie Ray?” they shouted.

“That I cannot tell you. But I think it is some one
you will be glad to see. Run as fast as you can, and you
will find him at the door.”

All three of the boys set off on a wild run, and I stepped
THE LOST MONEY IS FOUND. 239

on over the field as fast as I could, that I might see their
happy faces when their eyes should first fall on ‘Rob Roy.”

I was not disappointed. There they were, jumping up
and down, and screaming with delight. They had never
dreamed of this, that this beautiful little creature should he
all their own! For of course what was Harold’s was practi-
cally Brownie’s also, and, for that matter, Keith’s too; for
Keith had always his share in all the good things.

They were stamping and dancing about, quite unable to
contain themselves; and Rob Roy was submitting gracefully
to the patting and stroking of the eager hands, and the
chatter of the joyous tongues as he stood quietly, except
for a sudden tossing of his shaggy mane, and a glint in his
eyes when he glanced at the boys now and then, as if to
say, “You look like a jolly set; shouldn’t wonder if we’d
all have some pretty good times together yet.”

The cart, too, came in for its share of admiration; and
upon a more thorough examination of its beauties, a note
was found tucked in between the cushions. It was from
“Uncle Doctor” Pembroke, saying that he was too busy to
come out just then, but would see the boys later, and explain
how their father had commissioned him to buy the pony
establishment, and send it down to Clovernook upon Harold’s
birthday.

IT had hitherto always supposed the boys as happy as it
was possible for boys to be, but I now discovered how mis-
taken I had been; for I learned that there still were heights
of boyish delight quite undreamed of in my experience. It
seemed really unreasonable to think that the house could
240 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

hold them, or the limits of the farm either, during those
first days after the pony came. Where were the pleasures
of fishing or frog-
ging, or of the ride
on the very tip-top
of the hayload now?
Where was the fun
in the making of
pumpkin-stalk fifes,
or even in trapping
unwary little chip-
munks? All must
give way before the
charms of Rob Roy
and the wonderful



pony-cart. They

Rob Roy.

drove about over hill

and dale, through the shady woodland roads, and down
by the quarry, all three in the cart together, laughing and
chattering as fast as their tongues could run. And Rob Roy
was also so obliging as to carry them by turns upon his
back. And many a happy time they had in the long August
twilight, galloping up and down the lane, or holding little
Peter on the pony’s back, to let him have his share of the
rides, which the merry little child was only too eager to do.
So it will be seen there was no longer any need to think

of our invalid’s safety, so far as the other boys were con-
cerned. Every night they came to Rudolf’s room for a merry
chat, which was generally about Reb Roy’s remarkable attain-
THE LOST MONEY IS FOUND. 24]

ments, and the wonderful drives Rudolf was to have by and
by. Then they were off to bed, tired and happy, and ready
for the next day’s pleasures.

Meanwhile, Rudolf’s young and healthy frame was assisting
the doctor’s good work so well that the broken leg began
rapidly to mend, and he became stronger day by day. The
calm and happy frame of mind he was now in helped also
to hasten his recovery; and his violin, which he could play
once more, was a never-failing source of comfort to him.
Still there were times when I detected a slight shadow on
his face, and I knew he was wishing the money might be
found.

On one of these days, about three or four weeks after
the accident, when he was so far recovered as to be up and
dressed, Uncle John had carried him down to the sitting-
room, and placed him upon an easy lounge; there he left us
together, and we talked once more of the missing gold-piece.

“T am very happy now,” said Rudolf, “and I try not
to think about it; but if it could be found sometime, Aunt
Ra-tel, there would not be anything, no, not anything for
me to ask for.”

I sat there at the open window thinking it all over,
and wishing, for my boy’s comfort, that it could be found.
I had been sewing, but the work had fallen from my hand.
Rudolf began playing my old favorite, “‘Schubert’s Serenade ;”
and I sat thus, listening and dreaming, when Sandy came up
on the veranda beneath the window.

The wicked bird stood looking into the room a minute,
evidently not perceiving me where I sat, a little back; then,


2492 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

without the slightest warning, he suddenly thrust his head
through the open window-frame, and seizing my thimble where °
it lay on the corner of the table, stepped back with it in his
beak, and stalked along the veranda, down the step, and off
across the grass.

In a flash, as my eyes rested upon the bird, these words
seemed fairly burned upon my brain: “Sandy took that
money.”

I knew it! I was as sure of it as if I had seen him
with the gold in his bill! It had lain exactly where I had
put my thimble, a little way from the corner of the table.
I started up in excitement.

“Rudolf,” I said; but Rudolf was lost in his music, and
had not seen anything. I would say nothing now. I must
follow Sandy. So I stole softly out of the dining-room door;
then out on the porch and down the step, walking quietly
along some distance behind Sandy, to see what he would do
with the, thimble.

Sandy, all unconscious, stalked gravely along as if he had
no particular goal in mind, dropping his thimble now and
then, and turning it over in a rather discontented fashion, as
if he did not think it amounted to much, and picking it up
again to go on a few steps farther. Finally he disappeared
with it behind the corner of the carriage-house. I followed
on as silently as I could, and reached the corner myself
just in time to see him step in between the building and
a little pile of loose rubbish that had long lain there. I
saw him drop the thimble, apparently under a certain large
stone, and then, after poking about a little with his bill,
THE LOST MONEY IS FOUND. | 2438

careiessly stalk away, flapping his wings, and uttering a satis-
fied croak, as if he thought himself a very fine sort of bird
indeed.

I waited with what patience I could till he had gone a
little way, and then I stole softly along until I had reached
the stone I had marked with my eye. Down on my knees
I went, and hunted about, but could not at first find the
thimble. Presently I could see something shining far in, un-
derneath ; and, by dislodging some of the smaller stones on top,
I was at length able to lift the one I had seen Sandy select.
Oh, how my heart leaped into my throat, as Hannah would
have said, to see not only the thimble, but that long-lost,
earnestly sought twenty-dollar gold-piece lying there, as bright
and shining as on the very day, long weeks before, when it
disappeared so strangely.

Not only was the money there, but a little penknife
Brownie had mourned for months before, and a silver nut-
pick also, to say nothing of tin whistles, bright buttons, bits
of tin and colored glass, and the like.

What Sandy had intended to do with them I cannot ima-
gine. We had not dreamed he could be so wicked, and had
never before detected any symptoms of this failing in him.
For my own part, however, he might be as wicked as he
liked; I was so glad and thankful I had found the money
that I never should have the heart even to scold him.
Afterward we could talk of Sandy, and study this new char-
acteristic of his race; but now I must hasten to my dear
boy, and show him the money to gladden his eyes, and drive
away the last sad look from his face.


244 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

You may believe I did so. I rushed into the sitting-room
as eagerly as one of my boys could have done; and holding
up the shining gold, I exclaimed, “ Rudolf, see! I have found
the money; look, my dear!”

Oh, how could I have been so foolishly hasty? How could
I forget the boy’s weak state? He looked up from his play-
ing with a startled glance; he saw the money in my hand;
then, without a word, his violin dropped from his hand, and
he sank back. He had fainted.

“Oh, my dear! what have I done? How could I startle
you so?” TI cried.

But I knew what it was, and I called to Hannah. She
hastened to help me; and in a few minutes we had him
safely restored, and I began to breathe more freely, after my
fright about him.

As he came to himself, he said, “Where am I?” And
then, “Aunt Ra-tel, did you say —what was it about the
money, Aunt Ra-tel?”

“My dear, I am sorry I startled you so; but I have
found it; and who do you think stole it? It was Sandy!”

*“O Aunt Ra-tel! can it be really true? Do you mean
ee |

“Yes, my dear. See it. Here it is.”

“QO Aunt Ra-tel! Aunt Ra-tel!” he said; and that was
all. He put his head down on my shoulder, as I knelt
beside him, and cried for very joy. I felt at that moment
how little we had really known of the weight of sorrow this
young boy had borne through all those long weeks — so
silently and uncomplainingly too. I prayed that there might


THE LOST MONEY IS FOUND. 245

be sunshine now upon his pathway; that never again might
such a cloud rest upon hin.
“Call Uncle John, Aunt Ra-tel! Please, Aunt Ra-tel.”
So Hannah went out to the field for Uncle John. When
he came in, there was Rudolf sitting up on his couch, his
eyes shining, his face radiant with smiles, as he held out



Aunt Rachel plays the spy on Sandy.

to his wondering Uncle John the bit of gold which had led
to so much trouble.

“Tt is found, Uncle John!” he exclaimed; “it is found!
And now you will always be so sure I could not take it.”

“ Why, what is this?” said John, looking at it and at me
in a puzzled way. “ Rachel, where did it come from?”

Then I told the whole story. Great was the rejoicing .

among us all. Presently I saw Rudolf’s arm steal around




246 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

John’s neck, as my husband bent down and said something
low to the child. I do not know what it was, but I think he
was again asking Rudolf to forgive him. And I know that,
from that day, there was never even the shadow of a cloud
between them; and, please God, there never will be.

It would be too long a story to tell what excitement the
news of the discovery of the thief of the missing gold-piece
caused among the younger portion of the family. Again and
again, with each boy separately, and then with all together,
must Aunt Rachel go over the whole ground, from tlie time
she first saw wicked Sandy’s bill pick up the thimble, till the
moment when he had given that triumphant flap to his
wings and walked away, all unconscious that his sin had
found him out. Again and again was Sandy taken to task
by these severe young judges, and threatened with all kinds
of punishments if he did not see and forsake the error of
his ways.

But I fear Sandy was a hardened old sinner, not caring
in the least what people thought of him, and apparently as
bent as ever upon following his wicked will down to a green
old age. At least, he did not seem at all abashed by all the
scoldings the children gave him, but went on picking at the
buttons on their shoes or their jackets, or trying to get his
bill into their pockets, even through the interviews which
should have been so painful to him; probably he was well
pleased to have attracted such an unusual amount of atten-
tion from his young masters.

It was of no use to scold Sandy, as we elders knew; but
it must be a lesson to us that we had a thief about the
THE LOST MONEY IS FOUND. 24AT

house, and we must not forget to guard our treasures with
greater care hereafter.

It was a pleasure now to look at Rudolf’s happy face.
Every care was banished, and his merry laugh rang out as
we had never heard it before. As I recall that time, I seem
to see him now, as he looked one Sunday evening before he
was yet able to walk about, but getting well as rapidly as a
healthy, vigorous boy could do. He was lying stretched upon
the lounge, his face serious and intent, but happy too, listen-
ing to our conversation as we all talked together in the dim
twilight. Not that we said anything of particular interest ;
but it was my custom, as I think I have nowhere in all this
long story yet told you, to hold a little confidential chat
with my boys as the Sunday evenings rolled around.

Sometimes we talked of one thing, and sometimes of
another. Often my boys would tell me of little good deeds
and little bad deeds they had done through the week, and
we would take counsel together concerning them. Sometimes
we would speak of certain faults and failings, which were
between my boys and me—and One other. I will not men-
tion them here. Sometimes I would speak of the future, and
of what I wished them to become as they grew into men:
to be kind and brave; thinking no evil; helping whatever
stumbler along life’s pathway they might chance to meet.

On this night I remember we were sitting in the twilight,
and little Peter was on my knee, with Brownie leaning by
my side, and Keith on the hassock at my feet, while Harold
sat curled up at the foot of Rudolf’s lounge. We had been
telling little Peter Sunday stories, and had gradually talked
248 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

of other things. We spoke of the lost money, and wondered
why it had been necessary that Rudolf should bear that heavy
load of suspicion when he was so innocent.

“We cannot know these things now, my dears,” said I;
“but some day I think we will; and sometime, even in this
life, Rudolf may come to know why it was good to bear
the cross thus early in his youth. All his life long the dis-
cipline he has gained now may help him, more than we
can understand, through whatever of trial awaits him. And
you must remember, boys, that, through it all he had this
to support him: he knew himself that he was innocent, and
that God above knew it too; and while one has that con-
sciousness, one can never, I think, be wholly cast down.”

Then I begged them again, as I had often done before, to
make it their aim to be absolutely truthful. In every little
word and deed and thought be true, I told them; that
others, seeing their honest, upright lives, might believe them
in spite of all apparent difficulties, as I had been led to
believe dear Rudolf. And not only for that reason, I added,
but that they might thus respect themselves, feeling that inner
consciousness of rectitude which must always hold one up.
Then I branched off a little in my sermon, and told the boys
that he who was wholly true to himself must of necessity
be true to others also. And I bade them learn well and
ponder often those good old words : —

“To thine own self be true
And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

By this time it had grown almost dark; and it was time
THE LOST MONEY IS FOUND. 249

to separate, and light the lamps, and put sleepy little Peter
to bed. But before we parted, as I was rising from my chair,
Rudolf caught my hand, and drew me down until I bent over
him. His eyes were shining even in the dim light.

“Dear Aunt Ra-tel,” he whispered, “all my life, wherever
IT may be, I will think of what you did say to us this
evening.”

And I am very sure, even now, when I know more about
him than I did then, that my boy will not forget.
250 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

CHAPTER XVII.

AUNT RACHEL HEARS STRANGE NEWS CONCERNING LITTLE
PETER.

Apout a month later (I think it was in the latter part
of September), we had an unexpected stroke of good fortune:
at least, it was unexpected to every one but myself; and
even I had hardly dared look for it.

Do you remember an earlier part of my story, where I
spoke of a little secret I was keeping quietly to myself —
something no one else was allowed to know about? This
is what it was: Once upon a time, years before we came
to Clovernook, even before John had become deaf or any-
thing bad had happened to us, he wrote a book.

It was a scientific book with a very learned title. which
I do not suppose you would care to hear, so I will merely
say that it treated of various reptiles and their ways of living.

I can tell you very little about it, not being at all learned
myself; but, at the time, I was aware that some of John’s
professional friends looked upon it as a valuable contribu-
tion to the literature of naturalists, and urged him by all
means to have it published. He never really went so far
as to send the manuscript to a publisher; but he did once
have some correspondence with a leading firm in the East
in regard to the matter. He was told, however, that in the




AUNT RACHEL HEARS STRANGE NEWS. 251

judgment of certain members of the company, the work
seemed scarcely of sufficient interest to insure its success, and
that it appeared unwise, at that time, to venture upon its
publication.

This was enough, of course, to discourage my husband, who
is so modest that he is wont to depreciate his own abilities.
He at once consigned the bulky manuscript to the bottom
of an old trunk, and I do not know that he ever so much
as looked at it again. I urged him, at the time, to attempt
something of a more popular character; but he felt that he
must write in his own way and upon his own subjects, or not
at all. So he rashly concluded that he had no gift as a
writer, and that there was nothing of interest he could say
to a scientific public. After that, he threw aside his pen, and
allowed it to rust entirely, except for occasional brief articles
which (with little Scops’s assistance, as I have elsewhere said)
he contributed to certain magazines.

One day, after the burning of the barn, the thought came
into my mind that it might possibly be worth while to again
try the fate of that old manuscript with a Boston publisher.
Surely we were in great need of help from some source; and
if, by chance, anything could come of this, it would be of the
utmost service to us in our present financial condition. I had
thought long and earnestly, pondering and contriving how to
better our circumstances, but could think of nothing that
seemed practicable at all, until I had suddenly remembered
the old manuscript.

“T will not say one. word to John,” I said to myself,
“lest he forbid my doing it; but I will just tie all the




252, THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

papers up in a bundle as well as I can, send it off to Bos-
ton, and see what comes of it.”

I did so; and the next time I went to town I left the
parcel at the express-office with my own hands, waiting anx-
iously until I received word from the publishers saying it
had safely arrived, and would be carefully considered. After
that I had heard nothing; and, as the weeks passed by, I
began to feel that it had all been of no avail.

Judge, then, of my delight when, one day as we sat at
dinner, Patrick drove up to the open door, and handed out
a business-like document addressed to me.

At first I never thought what it could be, but opened
it amid the wondering looks of John and the children, feel-
ing as much puzzled as were they.

But when I found that the precious manuscript had not
only been accepted, but most graciously accepted, and that the ~
publishers had even gone so far as to express themselves
greatly pleased to undertake its publication, saying that, in
their opinion, the book would fill a long-felt want, and pre-
dicting for it a ready sale and quick popularity among a
large class of the reading public, I was really so glad and
proud I did not know what to do with myself.

I forgot all about my being a steady, middle-aged dame
with five pairs of boys’ eyes watching my every movement;
I pushed back my chair, suddenly; rushed around to my as-
tonished husband; put my arms about his neck, and gave
him a real “bear’s hug” and kiss, as I exclaimed, “ There,
John! it has come at last; I always knew it would. I knew
you'd be famous, some day, dear John.”
AUNT RACHEL HEARS STRANGE NEWS. 253

I stood, thrusting the precious letter so close to his eyes
he could not see it if he would. I was laughing and crying
in the same breath; while the children stood with eyes and
mouths open, wondering what could have happened to Aunt
Rachel; and John said, “ Rachel, what under the sun’s the
matter? Have you quite taken leave of your senses?”

“Yes, John, ” I replied; “and so will you, I think, when
I tell you all about it.”

Thereupon, I sat down and went through the whole story
of my sending the manuscript, and everything connected with
it, while John’s eyes opened wider and wider, though he
kept perfectly quiet, until I finished my recital with the hearty
words of commendation in the letter. Even then, he said
very little, for much talk is not his way; but I could see that
he was greatly pleased, as who would not have been? As
for me, aside from the bread-and-butter part of the matter, it
was a keen joy to me to feel that now, after long years of
study and silent waiting, my husband might at last be rated,
not only by me, but by many, many others throughout the
land, at his true worth.

As soon as the boys fully comprehended what it was all
about, they too were overjoyed, and danced and capered around
the table like young monkeys.

“ And will Uncle John be famous now?” asked Keith.

“Nonsense!” said my husband. “How can you be so
ridiculous ! ”

“Indeed, I don’t see why it is ridiculous at all.” said I.
“T fully expect you to be famous. Perhaps I shall see peo-

bd

ple turn to look at plain little me some day, as” —
254 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

‘* Nonsense! I won’t hear such stuff,’ said John. (But I
could see he was pleased, all the same.) ‘“ Even supposing,”
he said, “the book does sell; one swallow doesn’t make a
summer, and one book doesn’t make a successful author.”

* But there will be dozens of swallows in our case, John;
for now I will never let you stop writing.”

John would hear no more, and went off to his cornfield ;
but, as I watched him coming and going about his work all
the afternoon, I could see that his step was lighter, and his
face far happier than I had seen it in many a long day.

On the principle, I suppose, that “it never rains but it
pours,” another good thing came to us at this time. The
very next day, as John and I were returning home from the
village, in the cool of the evening, we met a farmer with
whom we were slightly acquainted. He stopped his horse for
a moment’s chat. y

“Evenin’,” he said. “I dun know’s you'd care to sell any
o that wood o’ yourn up on the hill there, Mr. Atherton ;
but I heerd a man say yesterday he'd like ter buy twenty
acres on it, if you'd sell. Haow is it; think any o’ doin’
on it?”

“Why, no; I have never thought of it,’ answered John.

“Wal, that air wood had oughter be cut. It’s just right
ter cut naow, an’ ’tain’t goin’ ter do it any good ter wait.
I tell ye as a frien’ naow. Id sell it ter-morrer if it was
mine, an’ I wish ter goodness ’twas. But law! there ’tis
naow; some folks is blessed, an’ some ain’t. It’s the way
of the world, an’ can’t be helped, as I know on. P’raps you
don’t care ‘bout the money’s I would; but I heerd the man
AUNT RACHEL HEARS STRANGE NEWS. 255

say's how he’d give one hundred and thirty-five dollars an
acre, an’ he wanted at least twenty acres too; an’ I ruther
think he wants it bad. It’s none of my bizness, of course,
and paps you don’t care "bout the money; but the wood
hadn’t oughter stand no longer.”

John thanked Farmer Towles for his advice, and mildly
assured him that he would like to turn an honest penny
as well as any of his neighbors; but he said the idea of sell-.
ing the land had never occurred to him; moreover, it was
his wife’s land, and he did not know that she would be will-
ing to sell it.

The man looked at John as if he thought he was an
idiot. “Sell the land,’ he repeated, “why, nobody wants
your land, of course; only the wood off’n it. What ye talkin’
"bout ?”

‘Do you mean it is simply the wood he wishes to buy at
that price?” asked my husband in astonishment.

“Why, yes, o’ course!” said Farmer Towles. And he
looked at us curiously, until I could imagine he was think-
ing, “ Wal, them cuttin’ the wood off’n their land before, that’s plain. Pretty
farmers they be.”

“Tt’s no great price,” he said, “fer sech wood as that;
and if that man don’t want it, I know one that will. Ye’d
better think on’t. Git alang, Jim!”

We did “think on’t” and “talk on’t” all the way home.
John said it was no wonder the man had thought us green,
now that he himself came to think about it. Of course, wood
must be cut when it was ready to cut. But the idea of
256 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

getting that much for it, and yet having the land left to
us, seemed too good to be true.

With that, we did a little sum in mental arithmetic, and
suddenly discovered that it would pay off the whole mortgage
on our farm, and leave something over besides. How could
we have lived so long in this state of dense ignorance? But
never mind! It was at least never too late to mend; and
you may judge of the frame of mind in which we took the
remainder of that drive. The cool evening breezes fanned our
faces in the softest, most grateful way, and the stars came
out one by one, and peeped at us as we drove along, as
happy as a boy and girl over our unlooked-for good fortune.
I am sure our hearts overflowed with gratitude, as we thought
how suddenly and completely our clouds were lifting, and how
once more prosperity seemed smiling just ahead of us.

“JT will see all about this to-morrow,” said John, as he
lifted me from the carriage.

“John,” said I, “what do you think now about that
“blessed baby” bringing us good luck? Even you can’t
deny it. All these good things have come to us since we
took in little Peter.”

“Don’t be a goose, Rachel,” said John; but he was too
happy himself to say it very severely.

On the morrow John did see all about it. The result
was that, in a few days, the transfer of property was made;
and though we did not like to lose the pretty view from
our west windows of the lovely piece of woods, we consoled
ourselves easily when we thought of the great gain it meant
‘to us in other ways. Besides, we reasoned, new trees would
t

AUNT RACHEL HEARS STRANGE NEWS. 257

grow on that woodlot, and there were still acres and acres
left in other parts of the farm. :

There were happy days for us all at Clovernook after that.
Whether it was that we were at last learning how to become
farmers, or what, I do not know; but, certainly, our crops were
better than they had ever been. There were quantities of
peaches and pears to sell; and, later on, there would be merry
times for my boys, when the apples were ready to gather and
put into barrels; for boys always like to help at such work.

There were also certain fine old chestnut-trees here and
there about the farm, and many plans were already laid for
“great doings’ when the money from the sale of the nuts
should come in; for Uncle John had promised the boys that
they should have it all, and their heads were full of what
they would buy when the joyful time should come. So, as
I said, we were all happy together, we elders no less than the
children; for our troubles had seemed to roll away so sud-
denly we hardly knew ourselves for the same persons, and it
was no wonder that I sometimes felt that certain dreams of
mine in regard to Keith’s and Rudolf’s, and even little Pe-
ter’s future, in which I had occasionally allowed myself to
indulge, might not after all be so utterly unattainable.

Early in October, I was surprised by a visit from an old
friend of my girlhood, whom I had not met in many years.
While the visit was a source of great pleasure to both John
and myself, it would be unnecessary to speak of it here were
it not for the fact that, in the most unexpected manner, it
led to results far more important than any which have as
yet transpired in the annals of Clovernook.


een aN



258 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

You may be suré my old friend had not been with us
many hours before she heard the stories, so far as we knew
them, of both Rudolf and little Peter. When I told her the
circumstances of Keith’s finding the little child in the woods,
I observed that her eyes grew startled, and she seemed much
excited. Indeed, she could not wait for me to finish the tale,
but suddenly broke in with, “When did you say this hap-
pened, Rachel?”

“It was in July that Keith found him.”

* And how long do you say the man had him?”

“Keith heard him say that they had been carrying him
about for six months,’ I answered.

This old friend of mine began counting back on her fin-
gers. “That would make it just right,” she said eagerly.

“January —the latter part of January. So it was! I de-

clare, Rachel, I believe I know that child’s father and mother
—or rather I know of them. They live in St. Louis, in the
very next house to my own sister!”

“Lucy!” I cried, “can it be possible?”

“JT heard the whole story shortly after it happened, for
IT was with my sister all the spring.”

“T am afraid,’ I said, after a moment’s thought, “that
they cannot be the parents; that man and woman surely
never carried that child from St. Louis to this part of the
country.”

“Oh, but it was in Boston that the thing occurred.
They had been visiting friends for a month or two, and had
with them a pretty young woman as nurse for the two chil-
dren, —a little girl of four, and a younger one, a boy, not


AUNT RACHEL HEARS STRANGE NEWS. 259

much more than a baby, I believe. The nurse was foolish
and fond of admiration, like so many of her kind; and one
day, in a park, she left the children by themselves for a few
minutes, to chat with some newly made friends, so the story
went. She meant no harm, and blamed herself bitterly for
it afterward; but, in that brief moment, the boy was stolen
from his carriage, and could never be found. All that could
be gathered in regard to the sad affair was from the little
girl, herself too young to tell a connected story; but she

?

always insisted that “a big dark man” and a woman came
up to them while Susie (the nurse) was on the other side of
the bushes, and that the woman lifted her little brother out
of his carriage, and ran off with him across the green. At
the same time the man had stepped up to her, and held his
hand over her mouth, and said he would kill her if she made
a noise. He waited till the woman had gone so far that
she could not see her, and then he too ran off after the
woman, first turning to cast a terrible look at the child, and
shaking his fist to warn her not to scream.

“As soon as she dared, the poor frightened little sister
flew off to find her nurse. At once there was a great commo-
tion throughout the neighborhood; but, from that day to this,
no trace has been found of the man and woman and the
little boy, unless they have heard something very recently,
since my last letter from my sister. For some time the poor
mother was almost insane with grief, and has never smiled
or been at all like herself since. If this little boy is really
her child, as I truly believe he is, it will be necessary to

use the greatest caution in preparing her for the news.”


260 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

“Tt would be a dreadful thing to rouse her hopes and
then find that he is not hers after all,” said I. ‘And he
may not be. Is little Peter like the lady at all? What did
you say the name is?”

“The name is Lacy. I only saw Mrs. Lacy once or twice,
and then she was in such trouble that I cannot tell whether
this child would be lke her at her best. She is a little
woman, with light brown hair and blue eyes, and very fair,
and I should think your little one here might resemble her.
The little girl has dark hair and eyes like her father.”

“Do you know what the lost child’s name was?” I asked.

“No, I never learned his name.”

“This one called himself ‘ Do’ when he first came,” I said.

“That might mean a good many names,” said my friend.
“Tt tells us nothing.”

“Well, we must communicate with these people at once,”
said I, starting up, “‘whatever comes of it. Oh, I hope for
that poor mother’s sake this may be her child; but I shall
be so sorry to lose my baby, on my own account.” And I
looked at little Peter as he ran about in the hall with Uncle
John’s cane for a horse. He was “gee-up-ing” his steed, and
shouting, and tossing his curls, and I felt it would be hard to
give up my pretty boy.

“Tt would not do to telegraph,” I said; “it would startle
her so. Do you not think so, Lucy?”

“Oh, it will never do to telegraph. JI think the better
way would be to write to Mr. Lacy and ask him to come on
here at once. He is wealthy, and the expense of the jour-
ney will not stand in his way.”
AUNT RACHEL HEARS STRANGE NEWS. 261

“Tf they are rich, I wonder why they did not advertise?”
I said.

“ Advertise! Why, I suppose they have spent a small for-
tune in advertising; they have employed detectives, and done
everything that
could be done, no
doubt.”

“But Keith said
the man had been
looking for adver-
tisements until he
was tired.”

“Well, I can-
not understand it,”
said my friend;



“perhaps the man
missed the right
papers, or had no
chance to get them,



or something of
that kind; I know
I heard a great deal about the advertisements, last spring.”

Little Peter on ‘‘his horse.”

“And they evidently never saw ours. But we could not
afford to advertise as widely as we wished. Perhaps,” I said
after a pause, “ we may be all wrong, and this is not their
boy at all. But I will ask John at once to write to the
father; and I hope, for his sake and for Mrs. Lacy’s, that
little Peter may prove their lost baby.”

“You can try another thing, Rachel; send a picture of


262 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

the child to the father, if you have one. That will help
matters.”

“Tt will indeed!’ I answered. “I have a good one taken
only a week ago. How lucky that is.” And I rejoiced that
one of the very first things I had done when we became
so suddenly affluent through the sale of the wood-lot, was
to take all my flock of boys to a good photographer in town
and have their pictures taken.

I could not wait for John to come in to supper, but flew
out to him in the field, and told him, as rapidly as possible.
this new state of little Peter’s affairs. He was as anxious to
help these poor parents as I was “myself. He went immedi-
ately into the house, and wrote a long letter to Mr. Lacy,
in which he enclosed the photograph, and set down every
minute circumstance he could think of in regard to our dear
little boy. Then we waited, as patiently as we could, for an
answer.

We had left it, of course, to Mr. Lacy’s judgment to tell
his wife as little or as much as he pleased, supposing he
would think it better to withhold the whole matter from her
till he was sure the child was his own. We were therefore
greatly surprised when, three days later, there came to us a
telegram from Mr. Lacy himself, saying that my husband’s
letter was just received, and that he and his wife, feeling
assured that the child was their own, were upon the point
of starting for Clovernook within a few hours’ time.

There days after that came a letter, written just after the
receipt of John’s, in which Mr. Lacy said that he had
intended to keep the matter secret from his wife, but that
AUNT RACHEL HEARS STRANGE NEWS. 263

upon opening the envelope the photograph had dropped out,
and her eyes had immediately fallen upon it. She had seized
it, and recognized it at once; and the shock in her nervous
condition had been so great that she had suddenly fainted.
When she recovered from this attack she had insisted upon
hearing the letter read, and now nothing would do but she
must come for her boy herself.

Mr. Lacy went on to say that he had almost no doubt
the child was theirs, while his wife was absolutely certain
that it was. He prayed that she might be right, lest a dis-
appointment should prove fatal. Then he told us when to
look for them. And oh, how much excitement and commotion
it made among us all; that is, all except little Peter, who
took life in his own happy, gleeful fashion, and cared nothing
for fathers or mothers, or beautiful new homes or anything,
so long as he had his dear old cane to ride, and could

romp with the big boys out in the grass and clover.
264 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

CHAPTER XVIII.
LITTLE PETERS FATHER AND MOTHER.

Tue letter from Mr. Lacy had told us that they would
probably reach Clovernook within a few hours after its receipt.
We did not know the train on which they would arrive,
but we thought it would be well on toward evening;

Hannah and I said to each other, that morning, that there

were at least a few hours in which to call little Peter our

and

own dear baby. It was hard for me to think of giving the
child up, and already I had wept many tears in secret over
the thought that probably we must lose him. I had grown to
love him dearly ; so, too, had John, in his quiet way. Lately
we had been so happy about Peter, as well as Keith and Ru-
dolf; for when we saw how matters were shaping themselves
we felt that now we could hope to make the future of our
boys more like what we would wish, than had, only so short
a time before, seemed possible. It had been such a pleasure,
too, to think that in our old age we might have these three
brave sons, in everything but name, to care for and shelter
our declining years.

But I realized how selfish it was to look at the matter
in this light, and strove to put all such thoughts from my
mind, when I reflected upon that poor mother seeking her
lost child. Every other feeling must give way to the anx-
LITTLE PETERS FATHER AND MOTHER. 265

ious desire that she might have her own once more. So
I schooled myself to think of it in a wiser and better frame
of mind. But poor Hannah was completely unstrung and
miserable whenever she allowed herself to think of giving
her “darlint” up. Still, with the happy, bright nature of
her race, she would not go out to meet trouble half-way, or
even a step of the way.

“Shure, mim,” she said, “Vl not belave it till I have to,
at all, at all. YP jist give niver a thought that way; but
it's a sad word [ll hear, if she says it’s her own babby for
shure.”

“But Hannah,” I said, “you must not look at it in that
light. You must think of the mother, and hope that it is
really her own child she is going to find in our dear little
boy.”

Hannah sniffed; but if she started to reply I lost it, for
at that moment Keith came flying in to say that a car-
riage had just turned into the lane. My heart gave a sudden
throb, and I knew they had come; though it was only ten in
the morning, and we did not think they could have reached
Clovernook so early.

“Run, Keith, for Uncle John to help me receive them,”
T cried; then I turned to Hannah.

But she had suddenly disappeared; and I saw her through
the window rushing away to the apple orchard where little
Peter stood under a tree, holding out his apron for apples
to put among a pile of the bright red Spitzenbergs near by.
He was helping Pat with all his might; still clothed in his
little soiled apron, though underneath was a clean white frock,
— a

266 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

and everything sweet and pure; for Hannah and I had de-
cided that it would be wiser to put him in presentable con-
dition thus early, lest it might happen to us to be taken by
surprise.

I stood with my eyes alternately on the two opposite
windows, dreading to see the strangers approach the door be-



aS re)

In the orchard.

fore my husband could come, and fearing that Hannah could
not reach the house in time with little Peter.

IT saw her running with him in her arms as fast as
she could. His curls were tossing in the breeze, and his merry
laugh ringing out. How little the child knew of what moment
LITTLE PETER’S FATHER AND MOTHER. 267
in his whole after life was this bright October day! He was
laughing and calling out joyously to Hannah to go faster.
But she, poor girl, as she hurried on, wiped the tears from
her eyes, though she spoke brightly, and smiled at the little
one too. In a moment she came in, panting and _ breathless,
and tore off the little apron, and smoothed down the tumbled
curls. She held him out to me.

“Take him, Missus,” she said, and suddenly disappeared.
Poor Hannah !

John came hurrying up, with all his boys behind hin,
just as the carriage arrived at the door. “Here, Keith,”
said I, “keep Peterkin with you out in the kitchen. Don’t
bring him in just yet. I will come for him.” Keith under-
stood; he took the little one in his arms, and began to talk
to him, while I hastily jomed John on the porch. How I
wished my old friend were with us to help me meet these
strangers; but she could not wait, and had left us only the
day before.

As the door of the cab was thrown open, a medium-sized
gentleman of about thirty years of age jumped out, and, with-
out looking at any of us, turned and carefully lifted a small
lady to the ground. She was trembling so she could not stand
alone, and her face was white to the very lips.

As I hastened forward to help her into the house, she
looked into my face in the most piteous, beseeching way,
and gasped out, “My boy!”

That was all. She could not have said another word if
she had wished to, so weak and spent she seemed. Her hus-
band lifted her in his arms, and, led on by John, took her
268 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

into the parlor and placed her in a large chair: but her
eyes kept following me; and again she appealed to me with
those anxious looks, and said, “ My boy,” her beseeching
glance asking more plainly than her tongue could do for her
long-lost baby.

Never, from that moment, could I even wish to keep little
Peter. With that poor mother’s face in my remembrance it
would be a crime. I flew to the kitchen, where Keith and
“his boy” sat quietly together. I took the child into my
own arms, and sped with him to the parlor, praying that he
might be her child, and that comfort might come to that
wounded heart.

She stood up trembling as I entered. She gave one wild-
eyed glance at us, then with a shrill ery she flew to the
child, and almost tore him from my arms.

“He is my own! My child! my child!” she cried. With
that, her strength suddenly left her, and she sank exhausted
into her husband’s arms.

“Louise, Louise, be calm,” he said in a low voice, almost
fearing she would faint.

But she did not. She breathed out, “ Look, Alfred; it is
the child! it is! it is! Do you not see?”

Of course, by this time, little Peter was frightened and
crying; so I took him in my arms as soon as Mrs. Lacy’s
husband had rushed to her assistance.

I comforted the child, and told him not to be afraid of
the pretty lady; and then Mr. Lacy came up and held out
his arms to him. But Peter was too much frightened at
first to look at him, and kept his head turned away, with


LITTLE PETERS FATHER AND MOTHER. 269

his arms tightly clasped around my neck. Gradually, as Mrs.
Lacy became more composed, the little fellow forgot his fears,
and getting down from my arms began running about the
room among the other children; for, all this time, I had been
conscious of a background of boys behind John and me,
gravely and solemnly watching these strange proceedings.

Again I lifted little Peter, and, bearing him in my arms,
sat down by Mrs. Lacy. She still trembled; but she held
out her hand to me with the sweetest smile, and said some-
thing, but I could not tell what, nor could she either, I
think; for her eyes were fastened on the child; and in them
was the true mother love, which is the same the world over,
among high or low, rich or poor.

Something in her look drew the child’s eyes to gaze into
hers. What was it that he saw there? Did some sudden
remembrance of that mother’s loving glance return to him?
I cannot tell; but all at once his face broke into the swift,
sweet little smile peculiar to him, and he held out his hands
to her, and said, “Take Do!”

Nothing could more completely have convinced me that
the child was her own than did this little scene. Peter had
not called himself “Do” for long weeks; but with the smile
and the look in the lady’s eyes, his childish memory had
been stirred, and had gone searching back in those dim days
in the past, until he had all at once remembered his moth-
er’s face, and had called himself by his old name.

Again she took him in her arms, and held him tightly to
her breast, rocking herself to and fro, and weeping softly
for very joy. The father came and put his arms around
270 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

them both, and his own tears mingled with his wife’s; for
he knew the boy was their own.

Then John and I and our flock of boys stole softly out,
and left them with the child, who, strange as it may seem,
was not afraid of them any more, but was safe and at home
in their arms. Perhaps John and I cried too. What won-
der if we did! I know we could not say much; and the
boys went out quietly and left us together. But Keith was
a little sad as he went; for he knew that he must lose his
boy. and I had it in my mind how I must comfort him
by and by.

Hannah, too, in the kitchen, was broken-hearted that she
must give her “darlint” up; and yet so kind was her heart
that, when I told her how the poor mother had felt, she
could not but rejoice with me that she had found her child.

* Well, Missus,” she said, “it’s mesilf that won’t begrudge
her the angel; but it’s a sad day for Hannah! Ochone!”
And she was obliged to have her cry all over again.

Once again I opened the parlor door and went in. They
still sat where we had left them, talking to their little son;
but he, when he saw me, slipped down from his father’s lap,
and ran to me, saying, ‘‘ Auntie Way, see! Mamma!” and
pulled at my dress to lead me to her.

Then Mr. Lacy came to me with his face no longer
anxious, but happy and at rest. He took my hand and
tried to thank me; but I would not let him then. I told
him “the poor tired little mother must have rest. Let us
carry her to her room, and afterward we will tell you all
about the dear baby.”
LITTLE PETERS FATHER AND MOTHER. ial

“Yes,” he said; “that will be best. She is very tired,
but I feel happy about her now; she is so much_ better.”
There was a thrill in his voice, as if, all at once, the world
had become a new world for him.

We led her up-stairs to the quiet west chamber, with
little Peter trudging on before us, and her eyes resting on
him as if they never could lose sight of him more. There
T would have left her; but she held my hand, and drew my
face down to hers, for she was smaller than I, and put her
cheek to mine, and sobbed from the depths of her full heart.

“Oh! what can I say to you who saved my child? What
can I say?” she said.

I hushed and soothed her as I would one of my own
boys; and by and by, when she was more composed, I left
her to rest, and went quietly down the stair, bearing in my
arms my little Peter, who was mine no longer.

Soon after we had a long talk with Mr. Lacy, in which
we told him every incident connected with the finding of
his child, and of his daily life with us since. He was as
erateful to us all as it was possible to be; but when we
told him of the part Keith had borne on that eventful day,
and how, in all probability, the child owed his life to our
dear boy, it seemed as if words and acts were all inadequate
to express his feelings.

He came round to where Keith stood shyly by my
chair, and drew the boy to him; then, sitting down again,
he put Keith on his knees and held him there.

“May God forget me,” he said solemnly, “if ever I for-

get what this child has done for me.”


272 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

Then he pushed back the boy’s sunny curls, and kissed
him on the forehead. And Keith, to our utter surprise, for
he was usually shy with strangers, said very gravely, as he
looked into Mr. Lacy’s face, “I think I would do it over
again for little Peter, sir; for I do love him so much.”

“And he shall always love you too, my boy. You shall
be like his own brother.’ Then they were silent a moment.
“But what did you call him?” he asked.

“J named him Peter,’ said Keith, “because it is my
favorite name.” And here he raised his head a little defi-
antly, and glanced in Harold’s and Brownie’s direction, as
if he expected to be laughed at.

Then Mr. Lacy’s laugh rang out too. “Peter! what a
name!” he said, and laughed again; while his little son, who,
by this time, had captured his dear old cane once more, gave
a merry laugh too, and began capering about the parlor, as
if he appreciated the joke as well as his father. “Come
here, little Peter,’ the father called to him. “You have got
a queer new name; and we must tell mamma, and make her
laugh too.”

“But what is his name, Mr. Lacy?” I asked.

“Tt is Theodore.”

“fe called himself ‘Do’ when he first came,” I said.

“Yes; it is what his little sister called him. She could
not, at that time, say the whole name; so she shortened it to
‘Tee-dore, and then to ‘Do;’ and the little one Jearned to
say it too, young as he was.”

“Tt seems very simple now,” I said; “but we have often
wondered what the name could have been.”
bo
=T
cs

LITTLE PETERS FATHER AND MOTHER.

Gradually we fell to speaking of the other boys. “You
have an interesting young family,’ Mr. Lacy said, speaking
into John’s tube.

I could not help glancing rather proudly at the four boys.
They were all dressed in their Sunday’s best; and they were
a handsome group, if I do say so. They were behaving
beautifully too. Even Brownie was quite subdued by the
unwonted solemnity of this visit, and sat on his chair as
quietly as anybody.

“T suppose these two are twins,” said Mr. Lacy, glancing
at Harold and Rudolf as they sat side by side. Here I
heard a sudden giggle from behind my chair, where Keith
had again stationed himself; but no one noticed it, and John
explained matters. He told Mr. Lacy that Harold and
Brownie were the children of a gentleman then in Europe,
who had left his sons with us, and that Keith and Rudolf
were our adopted children. That was all he said at the time,
and the subject. dropped, our conversation returning to what
was more immediately in all our minds; namely, the won-
derful story of the finding of Mr. Lacy’s own “ Babe in the
Woods.”

I will not stop to tell you all we said, nor repeat the
thanks and warm words of praise that were showered upon
us by the grateful father. Nor will I speak of all he wished
to do for us to show his gratitude. Of course, we both as-
sured him that nothing we had done for his dear child could
be too much to do— for us who loved him so dearly; and we
would not for a moment consent to any word of recompense.
As if we could have wished a reward for being good to little


274 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

Peter! But Mr. Lacy still insisted that he must have his
own way with Keith at least, and that, whatever should be
done in Keith’s future behalf, he must have a generous hand in;
and there, for the time being, the matter was allowed to rest.

Hannah and I were up early the next morning, for there
was much to do; but hardly had I reached the kitchen,
when the door opened softly, and there stood Mrs. Lacy, look-
ing so rested, so bright and happy, that I could scarcely believe
her to be the same little woman we had so carefully car-
ried up the stairs the day before. But she was young; and
trouble and care do not leave such deep marks on youth-
ful faces as with us older folk. She was like a girl, with
her fresh, sweet smile and happy eyes; already a little color
began to show in the cheeks so white the day before.

“OQ dear Mrs. Atherton, do take me to my baby!” she
cried; for Peterkin had slept that night where he had always
done, in the little crib by my side. “Take me to my own
dear child; I can wait no longer.”

So we went together, and saw the little one in his rosy
morning slumber; and I left her there to watch his waking,
that her face might be the first to greet the sleepy eyes
when they should open.

But before I left her, she said to me what she could
not say the day before. She spoke of Keith too; and of
the love and gratitude she and her husband must always
feel toward the brave boy who had done so much for them.
Many other things she said, which I will not now repeat,
but which must ever remain fresh and fragrant in my heart
while life shall last.
LITTLE PETER’S FATHER AND MOTHER. 275

We were all a happy party at breakfast that morning;
for how could we help feeling pleased ourselves, when we saw
the joy of the happy young mother. As for the father, you
would not have dreamed that he had ever known a moment’s
care. He had thrown off all his grief and anxiety, and was
as full of glee and light-heartedness as Brownie himself. He
was as eager, too, as Brownie could have been to see every-
thing about the farm; nothing would do but he must go
out with our squad of boys immediately after breakfast,
and look at all the cows and horses, and chickens and ducks,
and Sandy and everything else, down to the flying squirrel
which young Bob Battleford had lately caught and presented
to Brownie.

The boys soon discovered that Mr. Lacy was only a
larger boy than themselves; and so “jolly good,” as Harold
declared, about entering into all their games and plays. He
spent almost all his time with them out-of-doors. He visited
the bough house down in the woods; he taught them to
become better Indians than ever in the use of bows and
arrows; he helped them to “make things” in the workshop;
he rummaged with them in the attic; joined in the corn-
stalk fiddle concerts; and nearly frightened Mrs. Lacy out of
her senses with sudden apparitions at the various windows
of horrible Jack-o'-lanterns made from the new pumpkins,
when she and I would be sitting in the twilight, talking
quietly together. He went hunting and fishing with these
insatiable young sportsmen; he spent long hours in helping
them to gather their chestnuts; he even went frogging with

Keith and Brownie; and one morning we saw him come up
276 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

the lane, attended by our two young “ froggers,”’ with both
arms outstretched and dripping with dirty water, while his
clothing was a mass of mud and green slime where he had
tumbled into the frog-pond, and had shpped about several
times before he could extricate himself. I had seen Brownie
coming up the lane.so many times in the same attitude, I



Mr. Lacy goes a-frogging.

could not help being struck by the resemblance; but there
was this difference, — that Mr. Lacy’s mouth was not wide
open, neither was he screaming at the top of his voice, as
Brownie would have done.

It was no wonder that the boys were devoted to him,
and voted him a prince of good fellows before he had been
LITTLE PETERS FATHER AND MOTHER. ee

with us two days. As for his sweet little wife, John and I
were quite as much pleased with her. She was such a ten-
der, dependent little thing, I learned to feel as if I were
almost her mother; and I never saw a woman more devoted
to her child than she was to her dear little “Do.” Her one
regret was that she had not brought her little daughter
Florence for us to see, that she, too, might have enjoyed the
pleasant country life at Clovernook.

We would, indeed, have been glad to keep these dear
people with us for a long visit; but a fortnight was all they
could give us. They would not have hurried away under
any circumstances, for it would have been cruel to tear our
little Peter from us too suddenly; but the time came when
they felt they must return to their home and take their own
with them.

And who do you think was to go too? Who but my
good Hannah! Not for always. I could not spare her; nor
would she have consented to leave us, or to be separated
from Patrick, her brother; but it was arranged that for a few
months she would act as the little one’s nurse. We all felt
it to be an excellent plan; for the child knew and loved her,.
and Hannah herself would have time to gradually grow
accustomed to the thought that she must sometime give
him up, and learn to live without her dear “ babby.”

It seems strange that it should have been reserved until
the very last night of their stay for something to transpire
of such a startling nature that I cannot, even at this day,
cease to wonder at it. When I reflect how a few chance
words, carelessly uttered by Mr. Lacy that evening, could
278 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

lead to events of such vast importance, of such far-reaching
results in the life of at least one of us, I find myself pon-
dering for the thousandth time upon the apparently simple
means an All-wise Providence will sometimes use in bringing
about the strangest and most marvellous changes.

Little did I dream that night, when Mrs. Lacy and I
descended to the parlor, after going the rounds among the
children and giving them their good-night kisses — little did
I dream, when we came down and found my husband and
Mr. Lacy sitting in the firelight chatting together, what a
strange tale I was soon to hear, or what that tale might

mean to one of my dear boys.
AUNT RACHEL HEARS MORE STRANGE NEWS. 279

CHAPTER XIX.
AUNT RACHEL HEARS MORE STRANGE NEWS.

We entered the parlor, and seated ourselves silently beside
John and Mr. Lacy.

They had turned out all the lights save one, in a far
corner of the room, and now sat side by side looking into
the fire and quietly chatting together. Mr. Lacy was speak-
ing into the mouthpiece of John’s tube, or waving it gently
to and fro while listening to his listener’s replies, as Oe
one will persist in doing.

It was a time and place my husband and I both loved,—
that quiet hour when all the house was still, except for the
noisy crackling of the hickory logs as they sent their fierce
flames up the chimney. It was pleasant thus to sit by our
“ain fireside,” by turns gazing into the glowing coals and
watching the vivid light dancing about, here on a picture,
there on a dark old cabinet, and lighting up all the dim
corners of the room.

This night I think Mr. Lacy enjoyed it too, for he sat
long in his armchair with his feet outstretched to the warm
blaze, and his eyes fixed upon the ruddy flames. By and by,
he began to speak of the wonderful finding of his little son ;
for somehow we always came back to that. I had not
been listening very intently, thinking of other things, when
280 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

suddenly I heard him say, “I only wish that German we
met in the sleeper could be as successful in his hunt for his
missing boy as we have been. You remember him, Louise?”

“Oh, yes, I remember him,” she answered; “but I was
so anxious about my own boy I could not half listen to
him. I should pay more attention to it now. Suppose you
tell us the story, Alfred. I know Mrs. Atherton would like
to hear it, and so should I.”

“Well, it is quite a story,” said Mr. Lacy. “It seems
that he left home several months ago, at the wish of a cer-
tain old gentleman,—a very wealthy man, and, indeed, a
man of high rank,—a count somebody who is seeking his
grandson. This Herr Von Erdmann has held some office, I
have forgotten what — secretary, perhaps,—to the old count,
for many years. At his patron’s desire he undertook some
months ago to find the boy in America. He told us all
about it one day on the sleeper, as we were coming from
Chicago to Boston. It appears that the old count had an
only son whom he had always idolized; and with as much
reason as any man could have, for he was in every way
worthy of his father’s affection and pride, being upright,
brave and generous, highly educated, —all that makes a good
son and a gentleman. At the proper time, the young man
wooed and won a noble maiden with whom the old count
was entirely pleased, and the three lived together in the
closest love and harmony; the son gradually taking all cares
from his father’s shoulders, and endeavoring in every way
to perform well his part toward all the people on the estates.
A little son was born to the young couple, to whom the


AUNT RACHEL HEARS MORE STRANGE NEWS 281

grandfather, as well as the parents, became entirely devoted.
All went well until, when the little one was nearly two
years old, the young mother died. Of course, it was a ter-
rible blow, and the old count mourned her loss only less
than the son. _

“The little boy now became doubly dear to both; and in
time they might have become happy again, had not the
grandfather suddenly committed a most rash and foolish
act. His friends could only account for his folly by sup-
posing him to be so lonely and lost without his young
daughter that, feeling the need of some one to replace her,
it came into his head that he must marry —and marry he
did; choosing a somewhat ignorant and ill-bred girl, the
daughter of a tenant upon one of his estates. Of course
there was trouble after this. The son at first endeavored
to make the best of matters, and to be kind to his father’s
young wife; but she must have been of a strange nature,
for she started out in her new life by hating the young
count, and especially his little child, until gradually his life
was rendered so miserable that it was no wonder that soon
- there should have been nothing but il will and hatred be-
tween them. But the old man could see no flaw in his
young wife. She had completely infatuated him, and it was
not difficult to make him believe his son entirely in the
wrong ;

oOo?
happy now, and quarrels, bickerings, and recriminations must

so the once happy household was anything but

have been the order of the day.
“TI suppose the son not only hated his stepmother, but did
not scruple to let it be known among his near friends. Often,
282 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

he had told them of lis determination to take his boy and
leave his home, seeking in the outside world that peace which
he could not find in his father’s house. He was a fine musi-
clan—one of the very best violinists, Herr Von Erdmann
declared, that he had ever known. With his violin and _ his
boy he meant to start out to conquer Fortune. However, he
did not go then; it would have been better if he had. He
lingered until, suddenly, a terrible thing happened. His young
stepmother was found one morning dead in her bed. Upon
examination, 1t was discovered that she had been poisoned
with arsenic placed in the coffee which she had a little time
before been drinking. Perhaps the young count might not
have been suspected, though it was well known upon what
terms they had lived; but upon searching, a small paper
containing arsenic was found in the drawer of a cabinet in
his own private room. He declared he had never seen the
arsenic; he could not tell how it came there; but of course
he was not believed.

“Fis father was prostrated with grief and horror at thus
losing his young wife and the apparent crime of his son. A
favorite maid of the unfortunate countess, after seeing the
little package of arsenic at the time of its discovery, said
that she remembered meeting the young count on her way
to carry up the countess’s coffee that morning, just at the
door of the morning-room. He came out as she was going
in, and she saw him hastily place a bit of white paper in
his pocket which might have been this package. All this
the young man denied too, but to no avail; and the matter
was brought to trial. The young count was able to prove
AUNT RACHEL HEARS MORE STRANGE NEWS. 283

by several witnesses that he was in the stables that morn-
ing; and that, if it had been possible for the girl to see
him at the door of the breakfast-room, as she said she did,
he must have gone from the stables to the room with such
headlong speed that different members of the household
would naturally have seen and remarked it. There were per-
haps five minutes of time unaccounted for; but that was all.
The package of arsenic in the cabinet remained unexplained.
But, in spite of it, the evidence was not considered sufficiently
strong to convict him; and, at the close of the trial, he walked
forth once more a free man.

* Herr Von Erdmann said he went about for a time try-
ing to bear himself proudly, and to live down the suspicions
of all his old friends and neighbors; for many of them, not-
withstanding the result of the trial and the lack of convin-
cing proof, still believed him guilty, and naturally fell away
from him. Some few there were who thought him inno-
cent. Herr Von Erdmann was of this number. ‘I always
felt,’ he said, ‘that he could not have done it; I knew him
well, and it was not in him. But the father believed that
his son was guilty, and could not be brought to see him or
to communicate with him, from that day.

“Perhaps the young count could have endured all the
rest, but he could not bear the bitter anger of the father
whom he had so dearly loved; and, one morning, it was found
that he had taken his boy and a few belongings and had
gone quietly away. No one of his friends ever saw him again.
Afterward, it was learned that he had embarked with his
child for America; but that was all that was known.
254 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

“Several years have passed since then; and now, Herr
Von Erdmann says, it has been proved beyond all doubt
that the young count was entirely innocent. It seems too
simple to be believed that no one ever thought that the maid
of the countess might have poisoned her mistress; but, at the
time, it was supposed that mistress and maid were on the
best of terms, and that there could be no possible motive for
such an act. Now, it turns out that the maid, lately, when on
her dying bed, made confession to her priest that it was she
who committed the crime. She had long secretly hated her
mistress, and upon a sudden provocation she had avenged
herself in this manner. The arsenic had been in her posses-
sion for another purpose, and upon the impulse of the
moment she had used it. Afterward, fear had overtaken
her; and, while casting about in her mind how to shield her-
self, she had thought of the feud between the young count
and her mistress, and that, if she could only throw suspicion
on him, no one would ever think of her; so she had rushed
into his private chamber, and finding a little drawer open in
a cabinet, she flung the arsenic in, shut the drawer, and
hurried away, to rouse the whole castle a little later with
her screams that the countess was dead.

“Of course, when the old count learned of the woman’s
confession he was heartbroken with remorse for the suffering
he had caused his son. The resentment which had filled his
heart for so many years was all gone; and as he thought of
the old days, when they had been all in all to each other,
he longed for his son’s return. Instantly search was begun ;

but it was soon learned that the son had died, a year or two
DR
Gx

AUNT RACHEL HEARS MORE STRANGE NEWS. 2

before, I believe, in New York. He had lived in one way and
another, mostly by his violin; and at the time of his death
was in an orchestra there. He had lived a lonely life, de-
voting himself to his child, and with but one friend, a fellow-
musician, to whom he left his boy. Naturally, it was through
this friend that Von Herr Erdmann hoped to find the grand-
son; but, after a brief search, he learned that this man, too,
had died suddenly, shortly after his comrade, and had left
the child helpless and forlorn to the good will or ill will of
strangers.

“ Herr Von Erdmann has been trying to find the boy ever
since he heard of the father’s death; but thus far it has been
impossible to trace him. The heir has vanished utterly. The
grandfather is waiting at home in his castle, all impatience
to clasp his son’s child in his arms, longing to make amends
to him for what his father had been made so unjustly to
suffer in the past; but the boy cannot be found. He has
been traced to Boston with some strolling players, but now
no one can find them. Herr Von Erdmann has advertised ;
he has travelled all over the country; he has done every-
thing. Recently he thought he had located these men in
Chicago; that is how we met him on the sleeper, returning
from a fruitless quest. He has become utterly discouraged,
and thinks the child will never be found, if he is even alive.
He says that he dreads to return home and face the old
count without his grandson. Since learning of his son’s death,
all his hopes have centred upon this boy, who was to have
been his heir, his joy, and his pride. It is a thousand pities

the little fellow doesn’t turn up,” said Mr. Lacy, getting up
1)
mn
co

THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

from his chair, and standing with his back to the fire; “for
it must be a fine fortune to step into, and a high position
to fill, to say nothing of the comfort the boy would be to
his grandfather.”

At. the beginning of Mr. Lacy’s story I had listened as
any one would have listened, — interested, but not thinking it
could mean anything to one’s own self. But when he reached
the pomt of the musician’s bringing his son with him to
New York, and becoming a violinist in an orchestra there,
I felt my heart give a sudden leap; all my nerves began
to quiver with surprise, consternation —I know not what. I
met John’s startled glance, but he said nothing, and I tried
to cease my trembling, and listened on. When he came to
where the boy had wandered off with the strolling players, I
started from my chair, and would have cried out, ‘ John, it is
rudolf!” But my husband reached out his hand, and laid it
upon mine to soothe me, and shook his head.

“Not yet, Rachel,’ he said; and Mr. Lacy went on, not
noticing the interruption.

Oh, what was this wonderful thing we were learning now ?
Could it be possible that it was our own boy, our Rudolf,
that all this was about? I cannot tell you what strange
feelings filled my breast, as I sat there almost holding my-
self down to my chair, forcing myself to be still, when it
seemed every moment that I must rise and scream out, “It
is iy boy; but I cannot have it so! He must not be taken
from me!”

I looked at John, who had suddenly grown pale, and had
that same pained and startled look in his eyes which I felt


AUNT RACHEL HEARS MORE STRANGE NEWS. 287

must be in my own. Was he thinking, like me, that it was
Rudolf, and that we could not part with him? We, who had
so soon learned to love the noble, brave, and loving-hearted
boy as our very own.

Then, through these thoughts of mine, ran this constant
refrain, “ How can you be so selfish? Think of the child’s
future. Think of the grandfather, at home, waiting for his
boye#

It must be that the same words were passing through
John’s mind; for, no sooner had Mr. Lacy finished his story,
than John said, “ Now I will let you speak, Rachel.”

I needed no second bidding. “O Mr. Lacy,” I cried, “ it
is our Rudolf you are speaking of. It is our own boy.”

“What can you mean, Mrs. Atherton?” he said astonished.
“ Rudolf! Your little boy? The one with the violin? I do
not understand.”

“Oh, no; of: course you do not,” I said, still in distress,
but trying to conceal my trembling. ‘“T will tell you how
Lb Iss

You see, Mr. Lacy and his wife had never learned any-
thing of the history of our boys— Keith and Rudolf —
beyond the fact that Keith was the child of my husband’s
sister, and Rudolf a little German boy whom we had taken
as our own.

We had talked the matter over long ago, John and I,
and had concluded it was unnecessary to speak much of the
former lives of our boys, and of the distress each one had
borne. It was not that we wished to conceal anything; but
it seemed simply of no use, and could do no good. There-
288 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

fore Mr. Lacy now learned, for the first time, of my finding
Rudolf in the woods on that bright May morning, and bring-
ing him to my home, and making him my own child from
that day. The stories fitted together so accurately, there
could be no doubt in’ the minds of any of us that Rudolf
must be the missing child. Still, John, with a lingering
hope (as I knew by my own feeling) that there might yet
be some mistake, asked, “What is the grandfather’s name ?
And what is the boy's name whom this man has told you
about ?”

“Indeed, I cannot remember that,” replied Mr. Lacy.
“That has gone completely from me. Can _ you _ tell,
Louise ?”

“No, indeed!” said Mrs. Lacy. “I kept saying it to
myself, over and over, as the train rattled on; but I was
not thinking about it at all. It seems as if it ended in
‘stone.’ ”’ |

“ stein’ ?”

“That's it! that’s it! Count Eulenstein! That’s the
very name,” said Mr. Lacy.

“QO John, there is no doubt!” I cried.

“No, my dear; we must face it,” -said John in his low
voice.

But this was all we said, just then; for we could not be
so selfish as to pain the others with our. distress. After
a moment or two John said, with a rather rueful smile,
“Another of our little orphans seems about to be rudely
snatched from our arms. Do you know, Mr. Lacy, I had
AUNT RACHEL HEARS MORE STRANGE NEWS. 289

thought I had the foundation laid for a promising orphan
asylum here on our farm.”

“Tt is the strangest thing I ever heard of,’ said Mr.
Lacy. “I would have thought it the most unheard of thing
if I had read it in a story, that two children should have
been found in such singular ways, and protected and cared
for in the same family; and yet here it is, really happening
before my very eyes.”

“And you might almost say ‘three children,’”’ said my
husband ; “for Keith’s case was quite unusual also. But it
is all owing to my soft-hearted wife here, who has an eye
for every stray creature, or anything in trouble, from a child
or a sick bossie down to a fly with its leg broken off. She
has always been like that, and I have never yet been able
to cure her of it.”

“Oh, nonsense!” I said. ‘You know you are. exactly as
bad as I am.”

“Yes,” said Mr. Lacy; “I fancy each one of you is as
bad as the other—if it is badness; though I think I could
find another name for it.”

Then he said some other things which it would not be
worth while to repeat here; but it showed how glad he was
that we had been able to save not only his little child, but
another also, who might yet cheer a lonely old man in his
declining days.

There was not much talk after that. There could not
be. John and I were too profoundly stirred for further con-
versation; and it was necessary that the Lacys should make
an early start in the morning. So we said good-night to
290 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

each other quite seriously; and they left us standing by the
fireside, while they departed to their chamber.

“0 John!” I cried.

“My dear wife,” he answered. But what we said and
what we suffered that night as we stood together, when, about
us, all the rest of the house was still, I will not speak of
here. It is enough to say that in our struggle with selfish
sorrow we were not vanquished, and that we could at last
look in each other’s eyes and say, “ We will give our boy up
because it is right; and we would not have it otherwise.”
‘HERR VON ERDMANN COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 291

CHAPTER XxX.
HERR VON ERDMANN COMES TO CLOVERNOOK.

Ir was a bright October morning when our baby left us.
But though the sun was doing his best to give a cheery as-
pect to everything without, and here and there sent through
the window certain gay little beams to dance about on the
silver ant glass on the breakfast-table, he could not succeed
in banishing the sadness which filled my heart at the thought
of losing my little Peterkin.

However, there was not much time to think of it then;
for it was all hurry to eat breakfast; hurry to get well
wrapped up, for the air was a little chill; hurry to say cer-
tain last words which must never be forgotten by any of us;
and then hurry with the farewells; and hurry to the carriage-
door to see them off—but not until I had held my little
child in my arms, and kissed him over and over, while he

”

looked in my face wondering at “Auntie Way’s”’ tears, as
she bade him always to be a good boy, and try not to forget
Keith and “ Auntie Way.”

Of course, it was hard to see him go. But the sooner
such partings are over the better; and, besides, had I not.
the father’s faithful promise that a long portion of the very
next summer should be spent by all of them at Clovernook ?

By nine o’clock they were in the carriage ready to start.


292 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

Hannah was with them too, holding little Peter on her knee,
and looking as proud and happy as a queen. She was glad
that she was not to lose her “babby” just yet, and also
that she was to see something more of the “wur-r-ld;” for
Hannah was young, and no doubt had her share of the love
of travel which belongs to most young people; even now, per-
haps, she was thinking of the tales with which she would as-
tonish Pat’s ears when she returned from the wonderful journey
nearly half-way across the great continent of “ Ameriky.”

Little Peter, or Theodore as I ought to call him now,
was bright and happy. There was no shadow on his face —
how could there have been when he had his father, mother,
and Hannah, all three, to wait upon him with untiring de-
votion? But he clung to us a little too, at the last, as if
he realized we were to lose one another. He kept his arms
around Keith’s neck, and begged to have him go too; while
the tears rolled down Keith’s face as he held him up bravely
for Hannah to take into the carriage. Then Mr. Lacy sud-
denly lifted Keith himself into his arms; he held him close,
and said something low to the child; then he kissed him and
put him down; and I saw that, man as he was, his lips were
trembling, as he turned away.

I must not linger over the adieus. They were quickly
over, and it was better so. Keith’s grief, and, indeed, that
of all our boys, was deep and sincere; they had all grown to
love little Peter; for a time, it would not seem lke Clover-
nook without him. Let me hasten on to other things; for
events came crowding upon us thick and fast in those days.

At breakfast that morning, Mr. Lacy had told us he would
HERR VON ERDMANN COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 293

hunt up the German gentleman who had become of such sudden
importance to us all. Herr Von Erdmann had given him his
New York address, and he had been so fortunate as to find
the card in his diary. So he believed he would have no diffi-
culty in meeting the gentleman at his hotel. He (Mr. Lacy)
would write to us as soon as he had seen Herr Von Erd-
mann, and would tell us when we were to look for him to
visit us at Clovernook.

There was not time for much speech in regard to the
matter at the hurried breakfast; but he did take occasion,
between his sips of hot coffee, to say, with a smile, “He’s
the queerest looking man you ever saw, and almost the
queerest acting one.” Then he laughed aloud, as he seemed
to recall Herr Von Erdmann’s peculiarities.

“What makes him queer?” I asked. “Is it a disagree-
able queerness ?”

“Oh, not at all. He is a perfect gentleman in all respects,
but a littlek—what one might call eccentric. Don’t you tell
them anything about him, Louise.”’

“T am sure I didn’t see anything peculiar about him,”
said his wife, “except his nose’? —

“Hush!” said Mr. Lacy, “don’t say a word.”

“What is the matter with his nose?” I asked.

“Nothing whatever,’ he answered. “It is a good ser-
viceable nose.”

“A pug or a snub?” I persisted. “And is it big or
little ?”

“Neither a pug nor snub. And I should not call it a
really small nose. Wait till you see.”
294 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

Well, all this idle chatter was mostly for tlie purpose
of keeping our spirits from falling so low as they seemed
inclined to do, so I gave it no second thought. The boys
had sauntered in, one after another, to the early breakfast,
and soon we were in all the bustle and confusion of our
leave-takings; so that it seemed only a few minutes later
when little Peter, held at the carriage window by Hannah,
was waving the last good-by to us, and the horses turned
the corner into the lane, and swiftly carried him out of our
sight.

Who does not know the feeling with which we all gazed
into each other’s faces as we realized that we had indeed
seen the last of them? It was more than the mere pain of
parting that ailed John and me. The boys in their play
would soon forget the sadness of the morning: but we must
carry heavy hearts all the day; for in addition to this loss
of the little one, our youngest son as it were, here was this
new trouble about Rudolf knocking at the very doors of our
hearts.

John and I had quite decided, before we went to sleep
that momentous night, that we would say no word of this
matter to Rudolf until some further development should be
reached. Time enough to enter upon that when we must.
How tender and earnest the child’s face looked that morn-
ing, as he and Harold put their arms about Keith to lead
him away and make him forget little Peter for the moment;
for Keith was really grieving for his little favorite.

Later I glanced from my window, and saw them out
under the old maple-tree, which was now one flame of
HERR VON ERDMANN COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 295

vivid gold and crimson, from its very top to the thick
carpet of rustling leaves at its feet. As I saw them there,
laughing, shouting, stamping

about amid the bright litter,








wl) Wary

or racing and leap-frogging
with each other, I could not
but think, as I watched my
Rudolf, “Oh, how little you
know, my dear, how little
you know of the won-
derful change about to
come into your life, or
how it is to affect your
whole future, and not
only yours, but our

own as well.” |

a

H e stoo d t h ere Brownie at Leapfrog. eS

waiting for his turn to
jump over Keith’s back; his hat lay on the ground beside
him, the wind blew his dark hair about his face; his merry
laugh rang out shrill and clear as he watched Brownie’s fruit-
less attempts to jump too,— because Brownie must always
of necessity be doing exactly what the rest did,—and I was
struck with the picture of happy, boyish, careless freedom
he presented at that moment.

“May God bless him,” I said, “and keep him pure and
unstained all his life as he is this day.” And though many
days have passed since then, that prayer is often in my

heart and on my lips, and will be while I live.
2.96 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

I was not sorry when young Bob Battleford drove up to
the door a little later, and asked that the boys might go
with him on a grand fishing-trip to a small lake, three or
four miles away. I knew that he would be careful, and
that I could trust the boys with hin. It would be a com-
fort also to Joln and me to be alone for a time, until we
were more accustomed to our new trouble.

With the assistance of my new handmaiden (a blooming

young Irish girl who well deserved her name of “ Rosie’), I



packed a basket of solid, substantial lunch,—and “plenty of
it,” as Keith never forgot to say. I bade good-by to my boys,
who were clambering and shouting about young Bob, as he
cracked his whip, and drove briskly off with his wagon-load
of boys, fish-poles, ‘* worms,” tackle, and what not, with the
whole party in a perfect gale of happiness. Hardly had I
done this, when a boy on horseback came swiftly up the drive-
way, and handed me a yellow envelope. A telegram! Oh,
it must be some accident to the lLacys! My fingers
trembled so I could scarcely tear it open. But there was

nothing wrong. Only this :—

“Have just met Herr Von Erdmann. He will be with you at three

pM. ALFRED Lacy.”

Oh! what was this? Was there never to be any end to
these swift surprises? My heart sank lower and lower. I
felt as if Rudolf were being rudely snatched from ime,
before I could have even a brief moment in which to learn
to bear it.

I ran with the telegram to John, which was always the
HERR VON ERDMANN COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 297

first thing I thought of doing under any circumstances.
Together we took counsel, and tried to comfort each other.

“Mr. Lacy probably ran across him at the depot,” said
John, “and told him the story, and the man would natu-
rally take the first train here.”

We heard afterward that this was exactly the way it
had happened; Herr Von Erdmann having intended to make
another brief visit to Boston, before starting off the following
week upon his homeward voyage.

All was bustle and confusion again in our once quiet
home, which must be made ready for this strange German
Herr. It was not far from noon, and he would be with us
at three. It was plain that there was no time to indulge in
useless sorrow; for I must be up and doing, with only a
willing but very raw young Irish maiden to help me in my
labors. I was more than ever thankful that the children
were safely out of the way for the whole day, that we
might meet this gentleman, and receive his tidings and give
him ours, unhampered by the thought of the young eager
eyes and ears about us.

Three o'clock came all too soon; and, shortly after the
hour struck, I could see, far down the lane, an open carriage
containing two men, a driver and another, whom I knew
must be the dreaded Herr Von Erdmann himself. John was
at hand to help me to receive him; and we awaited, with what
calmness we could, the moment when we must meet him at
the door and welcome him to Clovernook, though he came to
rob us of one of our dearest treasures. The carriage turned
into the drive, and we hastened to the door.
298 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

Can I ever forget my astonishment when I first set eyes
on Herr Von Erdmann’s face? Not that there was anything
strange or unusual about the face itself, except the nose.
T now saw why the Lacys had told us about, or rather had
not told us about, his nose. No wonder that Mr. Lacy had,
in his merry way. wished to spring it upon us, as it were,
unheralded and unknown. It was without any exception
the most enormous appendage to the human countenance it
had ever been our lot to behold. Not that it was illy
shaped, or a diseased or swollen nose; it was simply a good,
honest, firm, white Roman nose; but it was, I am_ per-
suaded, at least three times as large as it should have been.
Had it been placed on the face of old Giant Blunderbore. for
instance, it might have been considered a fine feature; but. it
seemed quite too much of a good thing in its present. situa-
tion. Herr Von Erdmann’s face was somewhat small, and
smoothly shaven, with a pointed chin and a pair of shrewd
little light-gray eyes; so the contrast between these features
and his immense nose became even more startling.

I have been thus explicit in my description of this won-
derful feature because it was necessarily the first thing we
saw as Herr Von Erdmann descended from his cab. For the
rest, he was like any other strange gentleman, meeting us
with his hand outstretched, and a pleasant smile on_ his
friendly face. He seemed about John’s age: quite a small
framed man, but stoutly built, and. indeed. a little more than
stout in the region of what Brownie would have called Ins
*bread-basket.” He was dressed quietly and well in a suit
of dark-gray cloth.
HERR VON ERDMANN COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 299

As we led him to the parlor he kept up a brisk talk,
though I have never been able to tell what it could have
been about; for his English was very broken, and interspersed
with many words in his own tongue, and it was with the
greatest difficulty that I could understand ‘him, —for I am
no German scholar, — and of course John could not hear him
then. Afterward, when John had produced his friend in need,
the useful “snake,” there was no further trouble; for fortu-
nately my husband understood Herr Von Erdmann’s language.
Thus it was through John’s interpretation that I learned the
whole story again, of the old count and the young count,
and heard how the grandfather had set his heart on finding
his son’s lost child. He was not a very old man, Herr Von
Krdmann said, and had always been of vigorous strength; but
the long waiting and uncertainty had told upon him to such
an extent, Herr Von Erdmann had lingered long before
writing him that the search must be given up, fearful of
the consequences to the old man’s health. Therefore, it was
with a joyful heart that he had already cabled the news of
the finding of the boy, within an hour of his meeting Mr.
Lacy at the depot in Boston.

“But was that safe?” I asked. “What if there should
still be some mistake ?”

“But, Mat-ame, there can be no mistake” (I wish I could
repeat his funny talk, but that is impossible); “the name,
the circumstances, are all quite true.’ And at that very
moment his eye fell upon Rudolf’s photograph so lately taken,
where it lay on the table among several others. “That is
he!”’ he exclaimed. “I know that face. It is the face of
300 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

Count Ernst himself. I knew that face well, or one just
like it, years ago. Tell me, is it not the child?”

& Ohy tyes, lssaid “athat 1s Rudolte.

“Yes, yes; I need no word to tell me that. Where is
the child? Take’ me to him,” he said quite eagerly. “ Mat-
ame, I knew his father well, and I see him again in his
child’s face. He was younger than I; but we were friends.
Show me the child.”

I was obliged to tell Herr Von Erdmann that Rudolf
was away for the day, and I did not look for him until
evening. He was a little disappointed that he must wait,
but beguiled the time by telling us much about the beauti-
ful home which awaited Rudolf, and of the pride and joy
the old count would feel in his young grandson. He drew
a vivid picture of the noble, useful life that grandson might
live, as the heir to the vast estates which had been in the
family for hundreds of years.

Then he listened long to us while we told him of the
finding of Rudolf; and of the tales Rudolf had related to
us of the sad closing of his father’s life, and of his own
early struggles, when left forlorn, homeless, and penniless in
the streets of New York. Herr Von Erdmann’s tears rolled
down his face; for I could see at once that he was a warm-
hearted man, and my own tears had started, as they were
only too ready to do, when. suddenly, he took out his hand-
kerchief, and giving it a grand flourish, furiously blew his
nose.

I am ashamed to say it; but sad as I really was, sad
and heavy-hearted at the thought of losing my Rudolf, the


HERR VON ERDMANN COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 501

effect of that wonderful blast on that wonderful trumpet was
such as to make me nearly jump from my chair; the next
second I was actually almost in a gigele, as if I had been
Keith himself. Never had I heard anything like it, up to
that time, though I will tell you what came later. It was
so loud and firm and clear that even John opened his eyes
amazed.

However, Herr Von Erdmann seemed quite unconscious
of anything at all unusual, and went on with his conversa-
tion. Presently he started up quickly from his chair, and
began patting himself gently on his ribs.

“Pardon me, Mat-ame,” he said, “but I felt a sudden
twinge. It is my custom always to relieve myself of any
pain I may have in this simple manner.’ And he went
on with his gentle pats.

When he sat down again, he picked up John’s tube, and
said, into it, that it had been his invariable habit for years
to practise these means for keeping his flesh subdued, and
his general health firm, adding that to this fact he must
attribute his entire freedom from illness of any sort.

“Why, I have not had occasion for a physician’s services
for ten years!” he said. But privately I could not think
that so wonderful, for neither had John nor I; and we had
not patted ourselves all that time, either.

It was necessary that I should excuse myself for a little
while after this, that I might hasten to the kitchen and
assist Rosie, who was doing her best to prepare the supper,
“though bad was the best,” as my much-wished-for Hannah
would have declared.


302 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

When, the table nicely laid and what I considered a
tempting little repast’ was spread upon it, I hurried back
to the parlor to bid my guest and my husband partake
thereof, I found Herr Von Erdmann trotting up and down
the room as eager as a young boy, with Rudolf’s violin in
his hands. He had picked it up from the corner of the
sofa where it had lain in its case, and was now examining
it with loving care.

* Mat-ame,”’ he cried, “another proof, if one were needed.
Long years ago, before the child was born, I knew this violin.
Oh, often I have heard Count Ernst bring from it its very
soul. Your husband tells me the child can use it too.”

“Yes, indeed, Herr Von Erdmann; he plays most beau-
tifully!”’ I said enthusiastically.

“But not as his father; no, that is not yet possible.
There are not many like Count Ernst. Ah, but I was
pleased to take this im my hands again,” he said, softly
patting it. “And so the count never parted with it in all
his straits? And told the child to keep it too,” he said;
for we had told him all about it. “Yes, yes; that is very
good; for there are not many like it now. Have you any
idea of its worth —of its money value, I mean?”

“Oh, no,” said John. “We know, of course, that it is
very precious in Rudolf’s eyes, and that the strolling players
sometimes tried to take it from him; but I think the child
would have died before he would have parted with it.”

Then Herr Von Erdmann declared it was no wonder they
had tried to get it. Not that they could have known its
value; for if they had dreamed that it would have sold for
HERR VON ERDMANN COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 303

hundreds of dollars, as was actually the case, the child might
even have been murdered if they could not otherwise have
secured it. They could not have understood its worth in
that respect; but they must have realized that it was a
singularly superior instrument, and it would have been
strange if they had not tried to take it from him. Herr
Von Erdmann rejoiced that the boy had been able to hold
his own, and again expressed his joy that he himself had
once more been permitted to hold the precious thing in his
hands. It seemed quite strange to us that we had so long
had this costly violin lying about on our piano or in Rudolf’s
little chamber, and had never dreamed of its real value,
though we had listened to its sweet tones with the keenest
delight.

Presently we went out together, and seated ourselves at
the supper-table, where, I must say, that if Herr Von
Erdmann was a fine German gentleman, and no doubt accus-
tomed to a very high grade of society, he yet deigned to
partake of my broiled chicken and nicely browned muffins
and the dainty preserves and steaming coffee, with such relish
and in such quantities, as must, I could not help thinking,
have gone far toward counteracting the beneficial effects of
all the judicious pattings to reduce his flesh, and tended, per-
haps, to keep him just what he was,—a little round, rosy,
somewhat fat man, with a most amazing nose.

It had begun to grow dark earlier now; and as I was
drawing down a window-shade in the parlor after supper, I
saw the boys coming back. They were just turning the corner

into the Jane. I had been studying all the afternoon how
304 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

I could prepare my dear Rudolf for the visitor. I felt that
I must see him alone, and tell him all about it. I had not
dreamed Herr Von Erdmann could have come to us so soon,
or I would not thus have waited. I could think of no way
to accomplish my purpose but to intercept the children before
they could reach the house; for I knew, if I did not hurry
out to meet them, that presently they would come rushing in,
and hunt from room to room for Uncle John or Aunt Rachel,
to tell of their day’s adventures. Hastily excusing myself,
therefore, to our cuest, I left the room, and, flinging a light
shawl over my head, hastened down the lane to meet the
merry group of boys, whose voices I could even now begin
to hear.

When I came near, young Bob stopped his horse, and
they all glanced at me somewhat anxiously ; perhaps they
saw that I looked a little anxious too.

“What is the matter, Aunt Rachel?” they demanded.

“Nothing,” I said; “only I wish to speak to Rudolf
alone for a few moments. But first I must say a word to
Keith and Brownie. Get out, Rudolf, and come and walk
with me to the old oak. Oh, boys, there is a strange
gentleman come to visit us.”

“What has he come for?” “Who is he?” they wished
to know.

“He has come on_ business,’ I answered; “but never
mind that now. There is something I must say to you.
He has a very large nose, and it looks so queer I am afraid
you will laugh at it, if I don’t warn you _ beforehand.

Promise me you will be good, and not even smile.”
HERR VON ERDMANN COMES TO CLOVERNOOK. 305

“Why, of course not, Auntie; we wouldn’t be so mean,”
said Harold loftily. :

“Oh, I don’t know, my dears; it is such a large nose,
and I am afraid Brownie will do something to start Keith
off into one of his giggles; and that would be dreadful.”
“Let me see him attempt it,” said Harold, with a fero-
cious look at Brownie. “Tl keep him straight, Aunt
Rachel, don’t you be afraid.”

“Well, get your suppers as soon as you can, but don’t
go into the parlor till I come back. And now, my dear,
come with me,” I said to Rudolf, taking his hand, and
leading him beside me down the lane, while the others
drove on.

“What is it, Aunt Ra-tel? Has anything bad happened
again?” he asked anxiously.

Dear boy! did he think of that old trouble Sandy had
brought upon him, and wonder if some new accusation were
to be lodged against him?

“No, no, my dear, nothing bad has happened — for you,”
I added low. “Something very, very good; something I try
to be so glad about for your sake. Come, let us sit down
by ‘King Arthur,’ and I will tell you all about it.”
wo
&
Cp

THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

CHAPTER XXI.
RUDOLF HEARS HIS OWN STRANGE STORY.

We sat down, side by side, upon the bench, under the
spreading branches of old “King Arthur.” The evening air
was a little chill, so I drew my shawl around me, and _ told
Rudolf to turn up the collar of his jacket about his ears.

* My dear,” I said, “I am going to ask you a funny ques-
tion; have you ever thought that you would like to be very
rich some day?”

The child looked at me in a puzzled way, as if he thought
I had suddenly become quite crazy.

“Why, Aunt Ra-tel,’ he said, “that is a funny question.
Did you bring me down here to ask me that?”

“Well, but did you ever feel so.” I persisted. ‘Did you
ever wish that you might own houses and lands, and have a
great deal of money, and all that?”

“Why, yes, indeed! sometimes, Aunt Ra-tel,’ confessed
Rudolf. “There was no harm in it, was there? Often, I did
lie awake nights, when I was tramping with those men, and
wish T could have gold and silver and diamonds, and all the
beautiful things my father did read to me about in my fairy
book, when I was little. Was it any harm, Aunt Ra-tel? Of
course I do not care for those things now; for now it is that

T do not need them, when I have you and Uncle John.”
RUDOLF HEARS HIS OWN STRANGE STORY. 307

* Yes; but my darling, I think they are all coming to you
now; and what will my boy say to that?” I asked, putting
my hand under his chin, and turning his face to look into
mine. His eyes were opened wide in amazement.

“Aunt Ra-tel, what is it you can mean?” he said. “Is
it in fun you say so, Aunt Ra-tel?”

“No, indeed! I am in earnest,’ I assured him. “My
dear, all these things are to come to you; and may God grant,
my darling, that you may live to use them well and wisely,
and to do your duty in your riew state of life as you have
done it in the past. I do not know why I should ask more
than that; for you have always been a good boy, my dar-
ling.”

“ Aunt Ra-tel, I cannot understand what it is that you do
mean.”

“No, my dear; I know that I ai not very plain, but I
will tell you how it is,’ I said to him. “My dear; you
know the gentleman whom I told you was at home in the
parlor —the one who came this afternoon ?”

Rudolf nodded ; his face still astonished and anxious.

+ Rudolf,’ I continued, “this gentleman is a German, and
he knew your father well. And he told us much about your
father’ —

«“ Aunt Ra-tel!’’ exclaimed Rudolf, trying to break away
from me and rush up the lane to see this man who had known
his dear father. But I held him in my arms.

“No, my dear,” I said; “let me tell you more. This gen-
tleman knew your father, and loved him as he deserved to
be loved,” I said, still holding the restive little figure; “and


os
S&S

THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

he has told us about your father’s own father, who is alive
now, and is a great man in his own country, with houses and
lands and titles, and I don’t know what all. He is a great
count, a nobleman and very powerful, I suppose; and, my dear,
the strangest part of my story is that he has sent this Herr
Von Erdmann to seek for you, and to carry you home to him
to be his own dear grandson, and his heir, and to love you
very much, and to take care of you, and some day to give
you all his fine houses and lands and diamonds and jewels,
and make you a great count, too. My dear, what do you
think of my story now?”

“Aunt Ra-tel!” was all that Rudolf could utter. Then
in a moment he said anxiously, “ Aunt Ra-tel, I ain afraid
you are not very well. Is it not too chilly out here for you?
Does your head ache?”

At that, heavy hearted as I was, I needs must laugh; it
was evident that Rudolf thought I had suddenly lost my
reason.

“No, my dear boy, I am not crazy,’ I declared. ‘ Rudolf,
it is all true; though it sounds like a fairy-tale, I know.
And Herr Von Erdmann is waiting at home to see you. But
I wished to tell you first.”

“Do you really say it is true that he knew my father,
and his father too, Aunt Ra-tel? But how could that be?
Why did my father come to New York to be so poor, if his
father was so great and rich? I think there is a mistake,
Aunt Ra-tel.”

“No, Rudolf; he has told us about that. That is too long

a story to tell you now; but there was a misunderstanding
RUDOLF HEARS HIS OWN STRANGE STORY. 309

between your father and your grandfather when you were a
little child, two years old, and after your mother died. Your
father became unhappy, and took you, his dear little child,
and left his father’s home, and you both came to America,
and your dear, noble father never saw his own home again.”

“Don’t, Aunt Ra-tel; I cannot bear it,’ said the child
sharply, in his sorrow for his father’s trouble.

‘“‘No, my dear; we will not speak of that.” I went on,
“After a long time, the misunderstanding was all explained ;
then your grandfather felt great remorse that he had been
unjust to his only son, and tried to find him and ask him
to come home; but he could not be found, and, after a
while, it was learned that he was dead. Then your father’s
father, who is good and noble too, Herr Von Erdmann says,
felt almost broken-hearted; and he has longed so much to
find his little grandson—that is you, dear Rudolf. But
they could not learn what had become of you. So, by and
by, he asked this Herr Von Erdmann to go to America
and see if he could not hunt you up. He has been in
this country almost ever since you came to us, Rudolf;
going about from one place to another, trying to hear
something about you, and finally he thought he had dis-
covered you in Chicago, where those tramps afterward
went; but when he got there he found you were not with
them, and all trace of you was lost. So he had grown
_ quite discouraged, Rudolf, and had written to the old count,
your grandfather, that you were lost, and perhaps were not
even living now, and he must go home without you. He

: Y
had engaged his passage for this very next week.
310 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

Rudolf's whole frame was trembling in his eager wonder
at my strange tale. “‘But how did he know I was here
safe at Clovernook all the time?” he demanded.

“Why, it happened that Mr. Lacy met him on _ the
sleeping-car coming from Chicago, when they came here;
and Herr Von Erdmann told Mr. Lacy about it; and
Mr. Lacy just happened to speak to us about a German
gentleman who was hunting for a lost boy. It was only
last night he told us, though it seems an age to me,” I
said. “He did not dream that our Rudolf could be the
lost boy; but, in the course of the story, the name Eulin-
stein was mentioned, and then he told about the strolling
players, and Uncle John and I both knew it must be you.
And, just think of it! when Mr. Lacy reached Boston this
morning. the first man he ran across was Herr Von Erdmann,
and he sent him up here on the next train. You see, my dear,
what a little chance it has all turned upon; if Mr. Lacy
had not told us the story last evening, you probably never
would have been found. Herr Von Erdmann would have
returned. and you would never have known your grandfather,
or gone to your own beautiful home in your Fatherland,
as now, please God, you will.”

Rudolf drew a long, trembling breath. “It is very
strange. Aunt Ra-tel,” he said simply. And after a little
pause, “ This gentleman did know my father ?”

“Yes, Rudolf; knew him and loved him well. He knew
him from the time he was a boy like you.”

“Tet us go to him, Aunt Ra-tel,’ he said, starting up

eagerly.
RUDOLF HEARS HIS OWN STRANGE STORY. 311

“Yes, Rudolf; and, my dear, you will be glad to go
home?”

“Oh, yes, Aunt Ra-tel. Of course! And I will love to
see my father’s father, and I will be good and forgive him
for all he did make my father suffer; though perhaps that
will be hard. But I think my father would wish it.”

“Yes, I know he would, Rudolf. But it will be hard for
us to let you go from us, dear.”

“Aunt Ra-tel!”” He stopped short, for we were walking
up the lane. ‘“ Aunt Ra-tel,’ he said, almost sternly; “ what
are you saying? Why, we are all going. We will all be
rich and great together! Of course, Aunt Ra-tel!”

_ “No, no, my dear. We could not go. How could you
think that. We must just stay here in our own home at
‘Clovernook, and you must go to your great, noble castle, or
whatever it is; and there you will be with your kind old
grandfather; and there you will live, great and happy all your
life, I hope—but always a good man, for my dear boy will
never forget that; and oh, I hope you will never quite for-
get Uncle John and Aunt Ra-tel and Keith, and all of us.”

But the child seemed to give small heed to the latter
part of my remarks. “Then I will never go,” he said; and
his foot came down hard on the road and raised a little dust
about us. “I will never go to be a grand man and rich and
all that, if it is that you do not go too. And I will tell
Herr Von Erdmann so. O Aunt Ra-tel, would you tell me
to go away from you now?” he added piteously.

Suddenly my sobs came. They had been longing to do
so all day, and finally they burst forth in spite of me.
wo
eH
lw

THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

“OQ Rudolf, you know how I love you,” I cried; “it
tears my heart to have you ask me that. But, my child, I
see that it must be; and Uncle John, who is broken-hearted
too, sees that it must be.”

I took him back to the bench under the tree; and there
we sat again, at the risk of taking cold in the sharp air,
while I talked and explained, and entreated him to be a
noble, unselfish boy, and go back to his grandfather, who was
burdened with remorse and anxious to make amends, and
whom it was so plainly Rudolf’s duty to make happy while
he lived. f

Gradually the dear, reasonable boy began to look at it in
the right light.

And we need not decide everything to-night, my dear,”
said I; “things will look differently in the morning. We
will just go in now and see Herr Von Erdmann, and you
will be good, and not say a word against going home with
him. And, indeed, when he speaks to you of your father and
of your father’s home, I think you will be more reconciled.”

“Well, there is this about it, Aunt Ra-tel,’ Rudolf de-
clared; “if you cannot go with me, I shall come back home
to you sometime, when I am a man, and we will be all to-
gether then; though that seems so far off.”

“So it does to us now, my dear,” I said; “but the time
will soon pass. And I hope you will not have to wait till
then; I hope your grandfather, who is very kind, will let you
come before you are a man. It is not much to take an
ocean voyage now. So we will hope for that, and be good

as we can be; and you know that is the way to be happy.”
ve

RUDOLF HEARS HIS OWN STRANGE STORY. ult

Then we kissed each other under the tree, and went home
together to meet Herr Von Erdmann. .

“What is a count, Aunt Ra-tel? And will I be one? I
wonder how it feels to be a count?” said Rudolf, as we
walked along. a

“I do not know much about such things,” I answered
him. “I know there are counts and barons and princes, of
course, in your country, just as there are dukes and earls and
lords and ladies in England; whether you will be one now,
or not until your grandfather is gone, I cannot tell. But. it
makes no difference. You will always be my own good
Rudolf; loving and brave and kind to all about vou. That
I know well.”

“T will try, Aunt Ra-tel,” he said simply.

When we approached the house, I could see, on the drawn
window-shade in the dining-room, the shadow of Brownie’s
fat little form dancing about, and then another shadow,
which I knew to be Harold’s, shaking its head and its fist
at the first one; and I was at once aware that they had all
had their suppers, and that probably Brownie, and perhaps
Keith, was now passing the time of impatient waiting for
Aunt Ra-tel’s return, in trying to peer into the parlor,
through the hall door, at the strange gentleman. So we has-
tened our steps, and soon had them all around us, eagerly
asking questions.

There was not much time to tell them anything; but while
I insisted that Rudolf must eat his supper (he being in that
excited state where it seemed to him he could not eat), I
took the boys apart and explained things as well as I could.


314 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

Then I told them they must still wait a little while before
entering the parlor, as was their usual custom when we had
guests. I wished Rudolf to go first, and meet this friend
of his father’s without their presence; so I bade them be
sure that their faces and hands were spotless, and their hair
nicely brushed, and then they might come in later.

“But remember,’ I warned them, holding up my finger
solemnly, “‘remember; do not even smile at Herr Von Erd-
mann’s nose. Now that I have told you that it is a little
queer, you will be prepared, and will not want to laugh, as
you generally do at everything, like the naughty boys you
are.” And I looked particularly at Keith.

They all promised to be unusually careful. “We are
always careful,” said Keith; “but to-night we will be care-
fuler than the carefulest boys you ever heard of.”

With that I went back to Rudolf, and in a few minutes
he was ready, and I led him into the parlor.

As I opened the door, John rose from his chair. He
came to us, and with a grave and tender look on his face,
he took Rudolf’s other hand, and together we drew our dear
boy forward to meet Herr Von Erdmann.

“This is Rudolf,” said John simply.

Herr Von Erdmann advanced to meet us in his impulsive
manner, with his arms outstretched and his face beaming
with pleasure. He clasped the boy to his breast, and kissed
him on each cheek, which is, I suppose, the German fashion.
Then he held him off, and gazed at him long and earnestly.
I think he must have seen him as I did,—a boy of noble
bearing, the dark locks brushed clear from the broad brow,
RUDOLF HEARS HIS OWN STRANGE STORY. 5315

a grave and tender look in the deep gray eyes which met
his own so steadily, and a quiver about the firmly cut lips
that told of feeling bravely repressed, and perhaps of sorrow
fought down; for Rudolf could not meet that glance in Uncle
John’s eyes without a sudden swift response in his own
heart.

To me, the boy was beautiful then, as at all times.
There is a picture somewhere of little Samuel starting up
from his sleep as he hears the voice of the Lord calling
him in the night. I have often thought of the beautiful
childish face in that picture when I have looked upon Ru-
dolf in his moments of earnest feeling, and now I was once
more struck by the strong likeness. Rudolf’s face was older,
of course, but there was in it the same rapt, sweet look, — the
look of entire willingness to do whatever he might be called
upon; some of the same reverence and awe also were there,
if I may so express it, as he looked into the face of the man
who had known his beloved father and his young mother.

But probably Herr Von Erdmann noticed none of these
things. He suddenly cried, ** Yes, yes; it is his father in his
youth. I see him again before me; but there is the beauti-
ful mother, too. In his eyes, it is, that I see the sweet young
mother.” Again he clasped the child to him, though I could
almost fancy there was a sort of deference about the manner
in which he led him to a chair, and seated himself near him;
as if he felt Rudolf to be of a higher grade than himself.
I do not know that this was so, and of course we pay no
attention to such things in this republican country.

Then Herr Von Erdmann began to talk so fast in his
316 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

own tongue, and to gesticulate so rapidly, while Rudolf
answered, with his eyes beginning to shine, and his cheek to
flush, that of course I could make nothing out of it all, and
I cannot tell you what they said. But still, through it all,
I could see that Rudolf’s eyes often sought his Uncle John’s
and mine, and I knew he longed to have us enter into it
with him, and that he did not forget us in this exciting
moment. He was hearing things it would have seemed to
him, two hours ago, almost incredible to hear. But, through
all the wonderful story. he remembered us, and even looked
for our warm sympathy.

I went softly up to him, and said, “I am so glad, so glad
for you, my darling. By and by you will tell it all to
me?” He looked up into my face with his eyes shining,
and nodded happily.

Presently the door opened carefully, and in walked Harold,
Keith, and Brownie, all in a row. Their faces were clean,
their hair was well brushed; but on their countenances was
the most singular expression of bashfulness it had ever been
my fortune to behold there.

The fact was, the rogues were so afraid they might laugh
when they should see Herr Von Erdmann’s nose, that they
did not dare to glance in his direction, or even to lift their
eyes from the floor. I had never dreamed they could look
and act so “countrified;” and was quite mortified, as John
called them to him to come and be introduced to Herr Von
Erdmann, to see them stepping along across the carpet with
their heads down, like naughty dogs that expect to be scolded.
What had become of my bright, manly looking boys, usually
‘&
~~
~~

RUDOLF HEARS HIS OWN STRANGE STORY.

only too ready to put out their hands, and meet strangers
more than half way ?

Herr Von Erdmann could scarcely help contrasting them
unfavorably with Rudolf, whose beautiful countenance had
been raised so frankly —so solemnly, I may say—to his.
But then Rudolf was in that exalted state of feeling where
it was not: probable he could have told afterward that Herr
Von Erdmann even had a nose; so he was, from the start,
on an entirely different plane from the other boys. But it
could not be helped; and I had to be thankful that they
had behaved as well as they had, and to hope that nothing
disastrous might follow. Herr Von Erdmann shook hands
with them, and said that we had an interesting young family,
as strangers always said; then he sat down and took no
further notice of them, and I could not blame him.

The boys, too, sat down, as quiet as mice: but, of course,
this could not last long; and presently: Keith and Brownie
were leaning upon Uncle John, and Harold had come over to
the sofa by me. Rudolf was showing Herr Von Erdmann
the pictures of his father and mother, which he still wore
around his neck. Suddenly, in a little pause of conversa-
tion, when the room had become quite still, Herr Von
Erdmann, overcome, I suppose, at the sight of the familiar
faces, took out his handkerchief, and violently blew his nose.
It was a good long and loud blast, and startled John and
me who had heard it before; but, horrors! how would the
children receive it ?

I wondered what wicked sprite could have made Herr
Von Erdmann resort to just that mode of relieving his feel-
318 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

ings at just that moment; when all was going so well. with
with us too, and the boys had thus far restrained all desire
to titter, as I had feared they would.

Harold gave a sudden jump from his seat when he first.
heard the blast, and now I could feel him shaking the very
sofa with his suppressed laughter. Turning to look at him
warningly, I saw that his usually rosy face was fairly purple.
As for Keith, he realized that the sooner he got out of the
room the better, no doubt, and suddenly rushed through the
door, slamming it after him, as if he had heard an alarm of
fire, or something equally serious, and must inquire into it at
once. I always thought that Brownie could control himself
better than the others if he wished to; and now, after quickly
getting down from John’s knee, he quietly went and sat down
on a hassock behind Herr Von Erdmann’s chair, and I saw
him holding his sides, and going through some contortions of
countenance, but making no sound; and, finally, after he had
had it out with himself, he came back, and took his old seat
on his Uncle John’s knee, looking as mild and placid as a
lamb. I was glad it had passed off so successfully ; for, fortu-
nately, Herr Von Erdmann and Rudolf had been so engrossed
in each other that they had seen and thought of nothing else.

Presently Keith came quietly in, and, walking up to me,
whispered that he would be good if I would let him stay;
after looking at him severely, I gave my permission that he
might sit on the sofa between Harold and me, if he could
properly restrain himself.

However, he did not remain long; for, soon after Keith’s
reappearance among us, Master Brownie betook himself once




RUDOLF HEARS HIS OWN STRANGE STORY. 319

more to that hassock behind Herr Von Erdmann’s chair.
Presently I felt the sofa shaking again, and Harold’s face
was as purple as before, and Keith was fairly choking him-
self in his endeavors to subdue his mirth. Looking hastily
about, I saw that Brownie was engaged in flourishing an

imaginary handkerchief wildly in the air; he then applied



Brownie and Herr Von Erdmann.

it to his own little snub of a nose, and doubling himself up
and heaving his shoulders, proceeded to go through the silent
motions of blowing a sound fitted to wake the Seven Sleepers
—whoever they may have been. Herr Von Erdmann glanced
at us on the sofa, as if momentarily surprised, but evidently
thought nothing of it,— unless that I had two rude, tittering
320 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

boys; but I could not longer permit such proceedings. ing the boys to come with me, and motioning to Brownie to
come too, I took all three to the kitchen, and there delivered
to them one of Aunt Rachel’s most impressive lectures; for
Aunt Rachel could be severe when occasion demanded. Nor
would I allow them to enter the parlor again that evening.
They must stay quietly in the kitchen or the dining-room
with their books until bedtime, as they could not treat Herr
Von Erdinann with politeness. Then I turned my back upon
them in a dignified way, and returned to the parlor, thank-
ful to have come through the first meeting between the boys
and the nose even as well as we had. ;

We talked long with Herr Von Erdmann that night, after
the children were in bed and asleep. And again our hearts
were torn when he told us that he must so soon take Rudolf
from us.

“My passage is already engaged, dear madame,” he said;
“and it would inconvenience me in many ways to ‘wait. At
home, too, Count Eulenstein awaits our coming.”

He was very sympathetic and kind to us, and it seemed
as if he could not say enough to show us his appreciation,
or the count’s appreciation, of what we had done for Rudolf ;
but, through it all, we could see his haste to get Rudolf.
back to his own, and it hurt us more than I can say. When
we went to our own room that night, it was John who had
to comfort me; who took me in his arms, and bade me be
still, and try to bear it patiently and willingly, as we had
borne other crosses in our lives.

It must seem strange, as I tell you these things, to have
RUDOLF HEARS HIS OWN STRANGE STORY. 321

such funny little happenings come in now and then among
all these serious matters which were weighing us down so
heavily; but that is the way they did come, and I cannot
help it. It must have been just after I dropped into my
first troubled doze that night, that I suddenly awoke, and
started up in alarm. What terrible noise was that? It
sounded as if some one were in agony, or being choked, or
murdered, or something.

In a moment I was aware that it came from Herr Von
Erdmann’s room, across the hall. He must be ill! Perhaps
he had the nightmare! JI shook John, and said to him,
“Wake up, John! Something is the matter with Herr Von
Erdmann. Take a lamp and go to his room.”

John picked up the lamp, and started across the hall,
while I remained in my bed listening to those loud and fear-
ful sounds, which still kept on. Sometimes they would cease,
and all would be still, and I would think he must be dead;
but it was only for a brief moment; then, suddenly, they
would ring out again, loud and strong, penetrating the whole
house, it seemed to me, with their strange, unearthly character.

John was gone some time, and when he returned to me
his face was actually beaming with pleasure and satisfaction.

“Rachel,” he said, “the man is snoring; that is all. His
door is open a crack; and he lies there sound asleep, with
his nose pointed up to the ceiling, and he is snoring away as
peacefully as a lamb. I can’t tell you how good it seemed
to me to hear it once more. I haven't heard a good old-
fashioned snore since I first grew deaf.” And John almost
seemed as if he would like to go back and listen to it some
322 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

more. ‘There isn’t anything the matter; hes just snoring;
that’s all. I don’t see why you need to make such a fuss
about a little snoring. I believe, Rachel, I must be growing
better. I certainly could not have heard any one snore like
that, a while ago.”

Alas! my poor John! He was not getting better. It
was simply that the sounds which proceeded from that nose
were unlike anything we had ever heard. I was obliged to
dash John’s hopes to the ground, and tell him that, by quite
as much as Herr Von Erdmann’s nose exceeded other noses
in size, so did his snores overpower all others, unless it might
be among those famous people with the long name, — the
Brobdignagians.

My husband finally settled himself to his own peaceful
slumbers ; but I— how could I sleep, with those sounds fill-
ing my ears? The children slept, for children sleep through
everything, as is their blessed right; and probably Patrick
and Rosie slept, being young and care-free. But for me there
could be no slumber that night I felt, with my own sad
thoughts, my sorrow to lose my child,—and it seemed to me
an own mother’s could not be more,—and the horrible ac-
companiment of Herr Von Erdmann’s performance in the
west chamber. I was sure I could not sleep; but I must have
done so toward morning, for the sun was shining in my eyes
when John wakened me. I listened a moment. I could hear
Herr Von Erdmann still.

“John!” I exclaimed, “is he keepmg up that dreadful
noise? Did you ever hear anything like it? It’s enough to

rouse the dead.”
RUDOLF HEARS HIS OWN STRANGE STORY. _ 323

“Yes,” said John; “he’s at it yet. DPve peeped at him
again. I don’t think he has stirred all night. He les
there as peacefully as a baby. He’s enjoyed it, and so
have J.”

“Don’t be so horrid, John,” I groaned. “If you only
knew how I have suffered.”
324 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

CHAPTER XXII.
RUDOLF LEAVES CLOVERNOOK.

Berore slerr Von Erdmann had retired to his room that
night, he had told us on no account to make any change in
our breakfast hour. Half-past seven would be none too early
for him; he would be delighted to rise and breakfast with
the family at that time. Consequently, I arranged my plans
upon that understanding, and had everything ready to place
upon the table as soon as the right moment arrived.

Herr Von Erdmann did not appear, however, at half-past
seven; it was only too evident, from the sounds which per-
vaded the whole house, why he did not come. He was still
wrapped in his morning slumbers; and although I did not
send John to see, I could, in fancy, picture him, with his
nose turned upward to the ceiling, snoring peacefully, and
smiling in his dreams like an infant.

The boys were up and listening; you may be sure of that.
Every now and then one would run in to tell me that the
Herr’s window was wide open, and “he could hear him as
plain as could be ’way down below the terrace.” Meanwhile,
my coffee was spoiling, and my rolls were a failure. What
could be done? I sent Keith to knock at his door; but I
suppose the knock was so much more feeble than the snores
that it made no impression; for Herr Von Erdmann still did


RUDOLF LEAVES CLOVERNOOK. 325

not appear. John decided that he could not wait much longer,
but must eat and be off to his work. Still, I begged him
to wait, not willing to go through the morning’s experiences
with Herr Von Erdmann alone. It was now after eight
o'clock, and Herr Von Erdmann slept on. I told Rosie to
throw aside the coffee and make a fresh potful, and, together,
we prepared a second breakfast; for I wished everything to
be pleasing to our guest from a foreign land. John took a
bite and went out, saying that, if we would let him know
when to return, he would finish his breakfast with Herr Von
Erdmann.

At length, upon listening intently in the hall, I could no
longer hear sounds in the west chamber, and concluded that
our guest must at last have risen; so, when I thought he
had time to perform his morning toilet, I again sent Keith
to call him to breakfast. But Keith got no farther than the
hall, coming back to me with his eyes opened very wide, and
whispering mysteriously, —

“Aunt Rachel, he is out on the porch with his trousers
on over some blue-and-white striped thing that I think must
be his nightshirt; and his suspenders are hanging down_be-
hind, and he has got his face up to the sky, and he’s whis-
tling as hard as he can, and patting himself all over just like
this.’ And Keith threw his own nose up to the ceiling, and
began to whistle and swell himself out and pat himself, just
as I had seen the Herr do the day before.

He was evidently not ready for breakfast yet; so again we
put the coffee back to keep hot, and placed the food in the
warming-closet. At nine o'clock our guest opened the dining-
326 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

room door, and beamed a smiling good-morning upon us. He
looked as fresh and rosy and happy as possible, and evi-
dently expected to find every one else so. As we sat down
to the table, he said he must beg a thousand pardons for his
delay; he feared he might have caused us some inconven-
ience; but the truth was our country air was to blame for
that. It was so delicious, and had caused him to sleep so
well. “I have not had such a night’s rest since I left
home,” he declared.

John assured the Herr he was delighted to hear it, but
he could not refrain from casting a glance in my direction as
he said it. As for me, I said nothing. How could I, with
the remembrance of that night fresh in my mind.

Thus it was throughout the three days of the German
gentleman’s stay. Every morning we went through the same
performance. We never knew when he would rise, but he
always took his morning’s exercises on the front porch. As
soon as the boys had seen him do it once, they arranged
their own affairs so that nothing should prevent them from
being on hand, around some convenient corner, or up in the
cheery-tree, or somewhere, in order to obtain a good view.

_ Twill confess that, once or twice, John and I, too, peeped
from a chamber window. It was such a funny sight to see
our visitor, with his chest well inflated, balancing himself on
tip-toe, and patting himself as fast as his hands could fly,
while he whistled merrily, and held that nose to the sky to
sniff the incense of the morning breeze. Once, when we
peeped, John softly drew my attention to another window ;
and there I saw Brownie, around the corner of the house, sur-




shia ciara

“1 saw Brownie, ‘taking off’ Herr Erdmann.”
RUDOLF LEAVES CLOVERNOOK. 329

rounded by Keith and Harold and young Bob Battleford, en-
gaged in * taking off”? Herr Von Erdmann. He stood where
every movement of the Herr was visible to him, but where
he himself was out of the principal performer’s sight; and he
was swelling himself out, and making himself almost as
large as two Brownies, and was patting himself, and pretend-
ing to whistle (noiselessly, of course), all in Herr Von Erd-
mann's. style, and really looked so much like him in shape
and gesture that it was truly laughable. But when it came
to the nose part of the performance, there, I fear, Brownie,
of all people, could never compete with Herr Von Erdmann.

It would not have been wise for the children to have
this fun, however, in Rudolf’s presence. To him there seemed
something sacred about Herr Von Erdmann. Had he not
known Rudolf’s dear father, and young mother too? When
Herr Von Erdmann would suddenly jump up in the midst of
his dinner, or at any time break off his conversation to in-
dulge in those gentle little pats with which he cured his
“twinges,” Rudolf would frown suspiciously upon whatever
boy might be at hand. He would not, for a moment, smile
himself, or allow any one of the others to do so if he could
help it.

He even said to me, “ Aunt Ra-tel, I really begin to love
Herr Von Erdmann; he seems so near to me. And do you
know, Aunt Ra-tel, it almost does seem as if I had known
him before. Do you think I could remember him? He did
know me when I was a little one, you see.”

“Yes; but you were only two years old,” I answered.
“T do not think you could possibly remember him.” And


330 THE BOYS OF ‘CLOVERNOOK.

yet, if any man could make himself remembered by a child
of two, I think it would be Herr Von Erdmann.

Well, all these funny little scenes were well enough, but
there were more serious matters at hand; and this we all
felt. In three days, at the most, our dear Rudolf was to
leave us. I cannot tell you how sadly my husband went
about lis usual duties at this time, nor how I almost counted
the minutes while yet I had my dear boy with me.

As for Rudolf himself, he seemed torn in both directions.
With the intense love for his own country and his own
people which I suppose exists in every German heart, and
with the longing to know for himself the scenes amidst which
his father’s early life had been spent, and which Herr Von
Erdmann pictured to him in such glowing colors, there was
also his warm, unselfish love for us all at Clovernook. Much
as he wished to go, he knew not how to leave us. A dozen
times a day he would come to me, and, putting his arm
through mine, would lean against me affectionately, and say,
“ Aunt Ra-tel, I cannot go and leave you;” and his hot tears
would fall. But I would always comfort him; for by this
time I had schooled myself, and had my feelings well in hand,
and I would not for a moment look at the matter in any
but a cheerful light, for his dear sake.

“Tt is right that you should go and fill your place in
your own land where you belong,” I assured him ; “you must
go to live—a joy and comfort to your grandfather, now; and
to grow into a wise and good man, to give joy and comfort
and counsel as well, to many others around you, some day,
I fondly hope. And we shall be here at Clovernook all
RUDOLF LEAVES CLOVERNOOK. 331

the time, loving you just as dearly as ever, never forgetting
you in the least, but hoping and praying that all may be
well with you. We shall often be speaking of you, and writ-
ing our letters and looking for yours in return; and you will
send us long stories of all your strange new life, and you
will see in your mind’s eye just how we look as we sit around
the table, eagerly reading and listening to them. So the days
will pass on; and by and by, though you will never forget
us, new things will take up your time and attention, and
you will be very happy, as you deserve to be, my dear. And
oh, I cannot tell you how glad I am that our heavenly
Father has sent this good thing to you, who have already borne
so bravely much trouble in your youth.”

And thus I knew it would be. Rudolf would never forget
us; but he was so young, and it is hard to keep sorrowful
memories about us in our youth. It would be different with
us older folk, however; something was being torn out of our
lives which could never be put back.

After these little talks between Rudolf and me, he would
always brighten up, and presently I would see him with Herr
Von Erdmann under the trees, or on the terrace, if the day
were sunny, and the two would be talking to each other
rapidly and happily; or perhaps Rudolf would be playing
on his violin to his good friend, who admired his playing
much, but made me almost indignant by saying that he did
not. know that the boy could ever equal his father. I did
not myself see how any one could draw more beautiful sounds
from those strings than did Rudolf.

Sometimes, too, my husband and Herr Von Erdmann sat
332 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

together under the trees and talked of Rudolf. Thus the
Herr learned of the accident, and how the brave boy had so
nobly saved John’s life at the risk of his own. Then the
good gentleman had struck his hands together delightedly, and
exclaimed, ‘How that will please the count! I must. tell
that to the count before I have been with him an_ hour.
How he will love the boy for that! Rudolf is a worthy scion
of a noble race, as any one can see; but when I tell the
count that, I do not know that the old castle can hold him;
for he delights in bravery.’ And then the Herr, in his en-
thusiasm, had produced his handkerchief, and sounded his
trumpet again and again; but there were no boys about, so
it made no difference.

I know, too, that John told him of that other passage in
Rudolf’s life since he had come to us at Clovernook, —of the
Yoss of the money. and his own unjust suspicions. He told
it all—though perhaps it was a little hard —that the child’s
grandfather might learn well the character of his boy, and
know how nobly and patiently he had borne his heavy weight
of grief, and through it all had been the same loving-hearted
boy. cheerfully performing his duties, and bravely bearing his
burdens.

Herr Von Erdmann had listened earnestly to it all; he saw,
as any one would have done, how the matter must have
looked to John, and could not wonder at his doubts; but
when he thought of the poor child’s suffering he could only
shake his head, and exclaim, “The old man will weep when
I tell him this; and he will think it strange, as I do, and sad
as strange, that the little son should thus early have known


1D
1D

RUDOLF LEAVES CLOVERNOOK.

o
C),
o

so much of the bitter sorrow caused by the doubts and sus-
picions of his nearest friends, which his father before him
had borne in greater degree.” But he said that perhaps it
had been given to Rudolf to suffer in this way that he might
better know the struggles his father had gone through, and
so grow to revere and love his memory more. These, per-
haps, are thoughts for older minds than yours, my dear
young friends to whom I tell this story, so I will pass on
to other things.

Nor will I linger long over those last days of Rudolf’s
stay among us. Herr Von Erdmann was one of those men
who “must be there in time,” whenever a journey is in pros-
pect; and nothing would do but he and Rudolf must reach
New York a good two days before the steamer would start.

Privately I thought his haste was in some measure due
to his wish to have Rudolf properly provided with an entire
new outfit of clothing. He was too polite to tell us this;
but it would not have hurt our feelings if he had, for of
course we knew the child should go to his grandfather in
finer raiment than we could give him. His clothing had
been neat, and as good as we could afford, but it was not
what he would wear hereafter; and, for my own part, I loved
to think of him arrayed as would become his sturdy, grace-
ful form and his beautiful face. And oh, how I could have
wished for wings for a few brief moments, to fly to that old
castle, and see with my own eyes my lovely boy when for
the first time he should stand before his grandfather in all
his brave attire!

The last day came all too soon. Since early morning
vo
vs
He

THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

Rudolf had been about with the other boys, saying good-by
to all their pleasant haunts, — down to the brook and the frog-
pond ; in the woods
where the bough hut
was. They had vis-
ited all the favorite
walks (but not the
old flat bowlder.
None of my _ boys
was ever to sit there

again); they had



wandered through

the orchards and

Rudolf says good-by to ail the pets.

the blueberry patch.
Rudolf had said his last good-by to all of these, and had
tried to plant them in his memory for life. Next, he bade
farewell to all the pets about the farm. I saw them strolling
about — these boys— with arms interlaced, the three little
stay-at-homes endeavoring to keep close to the comrade who
was to go far from them in so short a time. They talked
softly together; and who knows what plans they made, what
dreams they dreamed, or if any among them may yet come
true. They went into the new barn and saw old Major and
Charlie, and stroked dear little Rob Roy with loving hands.
Rudolf fed his last wisps of hay to all the cows and _ bossies,
and said his last good-by to all the ducks and chickens and
pigs and other animals, big and little, while each made an-
swer in its own way by grunt, or squeak, or peep, as_ thie
case might be.
RUDOLF LEAVES CLOVERNOOK. 335

A little time before they started, I saw Rudolf sitting
alone upon the terrace with Sandy by his side. He was pat-
ting the old crane’s head and scratching his long neck; and
I could easily imagine how he was telling the naughty bird
that he freely forgave him all the pain and suffering it had
caused by its wicked theft. But Sandy was not minding at
all, as he went on in his work of tweaking at Rudolf’s but-
tons; indeed, I think he would have added to his already
long list of crimes by pulling one off, and a bit of cloth with
it, if I had not realized the danger, and averted it by call-
ing Rudolf to me for a few last words and loving counsels.

I will not “say, here, what those last words were. He
knows, and I know; and their memory will remain warm and
loving between us while life shall last. They were soon over ;
and I had to clasp my boy in my arms for the last time,
and put him into his Uncle John’s, while I turned away my
face for a little. But when he was in the carriage, with
Herr Von Erdmann beside him, I turned and looked again;
for I must see my darling to the end. He gazed long at
me too; and always, when I close my eyes, I can bring back
the tender, steadfast look upon that youthful face.

And now he was gone. This was the second child I had
given up within the week in this wholly unlooked-for and
undreamed-of manner. Is it any wonder that, as I turned
away, I could not speak to those about me, but begged to
be left to my grief for a little while?

But only for a time they left me. Soon loving voices
came to my door, —the voices of my dear husband and the

children who yet remained. Their arms were around me, and
336 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK

their loving words were in my ear. And John said, ‘My
dear, we have Keith; he is our very own.”

~ Yes, thank God for that!” I cried; and there was a
thrill in my voice as I said, “he is our very own. No one
can take Keith from us.” (For lately we had learned that.
Keith’s father had died.)

But here Brownie had clambered on the lounge beside me,
and put his dear fat arms around my neck, and said, “‘ And
we are here, Aunt Rachel,’ in such a lordly way; as who
should say: “What more can reasonable woman ask than
that ?”

So then I had to smile. But I said, “ Yes, Brownie; but
soon Harold and you will be gone, and then I shall be more
bereft than ever.”

But Harold spoke up, and said, “ But not for long, Aunt
Rachel; always we shall come back to dear old Clovernook
and you, as long as you and Uncle John live.”

And Keith said softly, “And I will never leave you; for
I am your own boy, and could never, never go away from
you.” And so it is not strange that, among them all, I was
greatly comforted.
~

RUDOLF’S LETTER. 33

CHAPTER XXIII.
RUDOLF’S LETTER.

PErnArs it would be wiser to end my story here; but
when I think of the longing with which we waited for that
first letter from our wanderer across the seas, it seems to me
that you, my dear young friends, may wish to hear it too.

In my fancy, I see you listening with something — perhaps
a wee little something, but still a portion—of the eager joy
my three boys felt, as I read it to them that bleak November
evening, now long years ago.

How well I remember it all! Uncle John in his dressing-
gown and slippers was in his own easy-chair, reading his
paper and toasting his toes before the ruddy flames. Aunt
Rachel sat at the opposite end of the hearth, with a little
stand at her side, on which was a basket filled with a pyra-
mid of long black stockings, through which she still patiently
though fruitlessly endeavored, week by week, to reach the
bottom. Of course, Aunt Rachel would naturally be occupied
in this manner; how could it be otherwise, when there were
still three hearty, romping boys. busily engaged in filling that:
basket with all their might and main, and never for one
moment allowing her to say that her work was done? Keith
and Brownie were roasting their faces, and some chestnuts
too, on the hearth at our feet; but Harold was completely
©
os
aH

THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

lost to all surroundings, fighting in the lists with Brian de
Bois-Guilbert and Ivanhoe.

Patrick came to the door, with the first snowflakes of the
season shining on his shaggy coat-collar and cap, and _ said,
while he held out a letter, “I think it’s the wan ye’ll be
afther wantin’, mim; I seed the furrin mark.”

What a spring the boys gave to reach it! How the pan
of chestnuts tumbled into the fire and burned away unnoticed,
while Uncle John threw aside his paper, and put his spectacles
on the tip of his nose, prepared to listen to Aunt Rachel, as,
with trembling fingers, she tore off the envelope and began
to read.

It was not our very first news. Immediately before start-
ing from New York, Rudolf had written us a brief letter,
and, upon reaching the end of the voyage, Herr Von Erdmann
had kindly cabled. Again, at the journey’s end, he had writ-
ten at some length, telling us of their safe arrival, and of
Count Eulenstein’s great joy in receiving his grandson, and
of his pride in that grandson’s appearance; and also of the
favorable impression Rudolf had made upon all his German
friends. The letter had gone on to say much of the count’s
gratitude to us, and was in all respects a most pleasant letter
to receive; but this message from Rudolf, which was his
very own, was the first real news, as Keith said, which had

reached us.

And here is the letter: —

“Drar Uncre Joun ann Aunt Racuen,—It has been just as |
knew it would be: that I have thought of you all many, many times
a day all this week that I have been in my new home. I did feel sure
RUDOLF’S LETTER. 339

that I should not forget you, and I find that I was right; for always
I am saying to myself, ‘What would Uncle John and Aunt Rachel say
to this?’ or, ‘How Harold and Keith and dear little Brownie would like
that.” And then I am wondering just what you are doing, and if you
think of Rudolf. And I did wish to write to you before, Aunt Rachel;
but Herr Von Erdmann did think he would wait if he were like me, until
it was a little longer time that I had been here; and so I, too, did believe
that would be the right way.

I do not know what to tell you first, it is all so strange and won-
derful to me here.. But oh, it is so beautiful! I think you did never see
anything so beautiful, Aunt Rachel and Uncle John, as this place; and
when I think it is my home, and always to be my home, I wonder if it
can be possible that I can be that very boy who was tramping about
those dusty roads, thousands of miles away, only a little more than half
a year ago. And then sometimes, too, I think it is a dream that I am
here, and I shut my eyes and say to myself that, when I do open them,
it is in my dear Clovernook that I will be, with Uncle John in the field,
or by Aunt Rachel’s side, playing to her in the twilight. But no; when
1 open them, here I am, sitting at a wide window in this great, gray
house, that my father did speak to me about; and there are beautiful
parks and lawns about it, and the trees are bigger than the Clovernook

> and the grass is greener

trees, far, far bigger than even ‘King Arthur;
and softer, and the flowers smell sweeter than any flowers I ever smelled
before. And on the pond are lovely swans, and peacocks roam about the
grounds. (But there is no bird like Sandy here.) And there are many .
horses in the stables, and one beautiful white one is mine, my grand-
father says; and I do wish I could show him to Harold and Keith and
srownie.

There are many other beautiful things; but I will tell you more
in other letters, for I must speak to you now of my dear grandfather,
and all his goodness to me. I thought I should be a little afraid of
him, you know, Aunt Rachel; and when we got into the beautiful car-
raige that first day to be driven to his home, I did tremble all the way,
wondering what I would say. But when I did see him standing on the
great stone steps, and holding out his arms to me, and looking down
at me so soft and kind, O Aunt Rachel, I just ran up to him, and held


9

340 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

my own arms out; and he did lift me up, and hold me close, and as he
looked at me it was as if my dear father did hold me, and I did feel
so safe and warm and happy.

And I can never think of fear with my grandfather again; for I do
love him too much for that. And he is fond of me too, Aunt Rachel,
just as you knew he would be; and we talk together of many things,
and always I am happy when I am with him, and I feel somehow that
so it is with him too. And we do often speak of my dear father; and
now I know all about that misunderstanding, for my grandfather has
told me it all. And often he weeps, and it is terrible to see my grand-
father weep, and I will not let him tell me any more, now that I know
so well about it. I cannot bear to think much about those things
myself; for it was so sad to have my father suffer so. And I think I
know a little how he did feel; for you know how it was, Uncle John,
with you and me. And there are other things I cannot say much about
to my grandfather; it is of those bad days before my father did die.
Always he begins to cry if I do speak of that time, and then we lead
ourselves to other things. But we are happy, and I love my grandfather
just as you hoped I would do. And my grandfather thinks, too, that I am
like my father when he was a boy as Iam. He loves to show me a por-
trait of my father when he was a little one, in a velvet suit, which is
very beautiful; but I do not think I can be like that.

The house seems full of my dear father to me. Everywhere there
are pictures of him; and one there is, in the room I call the great room,
_which is as if it were himself. When I open the door and look in at it,
I think it is my very own father coming out of the frame to smile at me,
and take me in his arms; and then I cannot stay, but must run away
somewhere and cry, but not where my grandfather can see me, for that
would make him feel too sad.

Often I play to my grandfather, and he is very good to me about
my violin; and he does say that I shall be taught by the very best people
that teach the violin, but that he would not have me a public musician.
Oh, no, he would not wish for that. But always to play for him and for
myself and for our friends. And perhaps it is all right; I do not know;
but sometimes I think that when I am grown up, I—you know what
you and I did talk of, Aunt Rachel, and how good and noble we did
RUDOLF’S LETTER. 341

think it would be to train our talents so as to give pleasure to multitudes
of people; and I do often think of that. ;

I find that there are many people here who did know and love my:
father and my beautiful mother, as they call her. And they are all
very kind and friendly to me; and though I thought at first I never
could like them very well, I find that I am going to feel very pleasant
toward them. And one lady says she was my mother’s cousin. She is
a nice kind lady, and I am liking her very well; but oh, she is not like
my own dear lady in my Clovernook home. There can never be any
lady in the world like her, to me. [“O Rudolf!” interpolated Uncle
John; “I wonder if you will say that ten years from now?”] And
she has two children, and they are often here, and they would like to
be with me, and they say they are my cousins. But they are girls, and
not any good to me. I like the little one the best because she is rosy
and fat, and makes me think of Brownie.

By and by there will be some boys of my own age to come and
visit us, my grandfather says, and that I will be happy with them; but
I tell him I am happy anyway. And so I am; because, though I cannot
tell why it is, I seem to be at home. Though it is all so grand and
beautiful, when I walk about and see the waving trees and the sky, and
the green grass and the distant mountains, and breathe in the soft air,
I cannot tell why, but I seem to know it all so well, and to belong to
it. And often, I think I must remember it; but I suppose that cannot be.

But still there are times when I feel that I must run off to my
own room, and think of you all at Clovernook; and I must be all alone
then, for I must ery, because I long to see you so, — Uncle John and
Aunt Rachel, and Harold and Keith, and Brownie and all. And some-
times, when I am patting and stroking my own beautiful white horse,
I think of dear little Rob Roy in his stable across the ocean, and of
Sandy and Spot, and little Bluff and all; and then I put my head against
him and ery till I feel better. But I will be getting over it, Aunt Rachel;
and you must not think I am not happy here, for I am. It is my own
home, and I love it.

Herr Von Erdmann is with us very much of the time. And he is
merry and good, and my grandfather likes him well, and so do I too. He
is always just as good as he was at Clovernook, and no one pays any atten-
342 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

tion to his nose here, or ever laughs at it as Brownie and Keith did, you
know, Aunt Rachel; though sometimes I do hear my grandfather joke
about it; and last night at dinner when Herr Von Erdmann did tell him
of a funny woman who did not wish to leave her parasol to be checked
in the place where they keep umbrellas and canes and those things, that
day in New York, when a man who is a great artist did take Herr Von
Erdmann and me to see some pictures in a gallery, my grandfather did
laugh and say they ought to have put Herr Von Erdmann there and check
him too, till we could come back and call for him. I could not see what
he could mean; but now I know that it was because Herr Von Erdmann’s
nose might have gone through a picture. But Herr Von Erdmann does
not care; he laughs too, when my grandfather does say those things.

My grandfather is writing to you too, dear Uncle John and Aunt
Rachel. You cannot think how thankful he is that you did care for me
so tenderly. Often he has wept, and asked God to bless you for what you
have done. All these things he will tell you himself, I think. And, Aunt
Rachel, he is sending you a beautiful present. I will not tell you what
it is, but it is something very grand and beautiful. It is something to
wear. I have seen others like it since I have been here, but not so beau-
tiful as yours. I know you will be so very much pleased to get it, and
I helped myself to select it. So you will think of my grandfather and
me when you do wear it.

I think this is a long letter for the first time. But always I do mean
to write once every month, and always you will answer. And I do always
remember what you did say, Aunt Rachel, that last time I did see your
dear, dear face. Yes, and I remember all the other times too when we
did talk. And I will remember. And I will try to do what you would
have me do, even if I cannot see you; and, always, I will be your and
Uncle John’s loving boy, Rupotr.

P. 8S. I forgot to tell you that my dear grandfather says that I truly
shall go to Clovernook in two or three years. So I think of that, Aunt
Rachel, when I grow lonesome. Rupotr.

P. 8. No. 2. Please give my love to my dear, dear friends, Harold,
Keith, and Brownie; and tell them to speak of Rudolf to all our pets, and
do not forget Pat and Hannah and Bob Battleford and all. Rupo.r.” ©














Aunt Rachel reading Rudolf's letter.
RUDOLF’S LETTER. 345

When I had ceased reading this long and loving message
from our boy across the sea, there was a moment’s pause,
broken only by the sigh of satisfaction which, I think, filled
every heart. It was joy to know that he was in his own
place, happy and contented there; it was still greater joy to
think that, in the midst of it all, not one of us was forgotten,
or would be, as the days went on. It was a group of happy
people assembled round the fireside after the reading of that
letter; and it was by no means a silent one, for all were speak-
ing at once, from Uncle John, who wished this or that part
read again, down to Brownie, who was ‘pretending to be very
indignant at being called, by Rudolf, “ little Brownie.”

“ “Tf Rudolf Eulenstein was only here T’d soon ‘dear little
Brownie’ him. Vd have him understand I’m big enough to
hit harder than he can, any day” (for Brownie was quite a
little pugilist among the others); and he doubled up his fist
and drove it through an imaginary Rudolf’s head, as he
thumped his empty chestnut pan. But this was Brownie’s
bluster ; his sparkling eyes showed that he was as pleased as
anybody to get those loving words from his old comrade.

“Tt is a good letter,’ said Uncle John, who was examin-
ing it for himself —“ well written and well spelled; and ex-
pressed in his own odd way too. And it comes from as true
a heart and as sweet a nature as this earth holds. I hope
that nothing may ever shadow the one or mar the brightness
of the other.’ And Uncle John got up and began to walk
about the floor, while he thought of the boy who was to
have been one of his staffs in his declining years.
346 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

“Aunt Rachel,” said Harold, “I can just think how it
would make Rudolf feel to see that portrait of his father
looking at him so. I know by the way I feel about my
father. And I think it seems so hard that his father had to
leave all that beautiful life, and come to New York to be so
poor; and then to die there too. If it could only have been
found out while he was alive, so he could go back and be
happy again! I think it is so strange why such things have
to be.”

“T know,” I returned ; “it does seem strange. But we
cannot understand about it now. Perhaps, though we cannot
see why, it was necessary for Rudolf’s father to bear just
that kind of discipline. ‘There is One who knows best about
it, my dear.”

“ Yes,’ reasoned Harold; “and perhaps he lets Rudolf’s
father look down now and see how happy his boy is, and
maybe that is better to him than if he had it himself. And
besides, he may have far better things up there.”

“T believe that too, Harold. But these are grave thoughts
for you, my dear.”

“Yes; but sometimes they come.”

“Td like to see that white horse of his,’ said Brownie,
who was not caring for the way the conversation had turned.
“JT just know Rob Roy can go ten hundred times faster than
he can.”

“How do you know it, Brownie?” inquired Uncle John.

“°’Cause I just know he can,” said Brownie, wriggling about
a little uneasily, not having expected to be called upon quite
so suddenly to give a reason for the faith that. was in him.
RUDOLF’S LETTER. 347

“ But all the same, I'd like to see his horse, and the swans
and peacocks and things. And so I shall, some day. I am
going there all by myself, just as soon as I am big enough.”

Well, I am sure I hope he will; and I know it will not
be for lack of a warm, loving invitation from their young
owner, if he does not.

And what do you think that wonderful gift was, which
Rudolf had written that his grandfather was sending me? It
was a beautiful diamond necklace. A more dazzlingly gor-
geous necklace than it had ever been my lot to dream of,
much less to see.

Think of it! Aunt Rachel in a diamond necklace! I
wondered that Rudolf had not thought how incongruous it
would be to see Aunt Rachel and a diamond necklace to-
gether. But, apparently, he had esteemed it none too good
for: his “dear lady,” and I thanked him from my heart for
the loving motive which prompted his share in the gift. Never
mind! It was lovely to gaze upon at all events, and a source
of admiration to all my friends. I shall keep it for Keith,

and some day his wife may wear it.

All these things happened long ago; and John and I are
getting to be truly old folks now, and, like old folks, often
and often as we sit together, we go over those old days with
a smile and a sigh — the last, to think that our boys are no
longer little boys, but fast growing into eager, earnest young
men, who will soon be ready to take their own places in
life’s battle, and not only manfully hold their own in the
348 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

struggle, as I hope, but also to help weaker brothers in the
fray. .

But you must not think that John and I are left alone.
No, no. Never a year goes by, that Harold and Brownie are
not under the old roof again; while the Lacys, with their
young daughter Florence and “our baby” Theodore, now
grown a fine sturdy boy, have never missed a summer. And
Keith is our very own still, and always with us. And never
a month goes by without the loving chronicle of Rudolf’s
doings and happenings, faithfully sent to his Uncle John and
Aunt Rachel, just as in those first days when he left us to
seek his new old home in his beloved Fatherland.

Meanwhile, old Clovernook remains the same, and its in-
mates know little change. All has gone well with us since
those dark days when we took in little Peter; and often, even
now, I like to insist upon that foolish notion of mine, that
the finding of * Keith’s baby” was the turning-point with us
in that year of swift disasters, as it really was the means
of one of our number finally reaching his own place in life.
For how could Rudolf have found his home without that
blessed baby ?

At all events, I can say, with grateful thanks, that no ill
luck has befallen us. Our home is dear and pleasant in our
eyes. Our boy is noble and good. We ourselves are happy.
Moreover, a little fame has come to my dear husband. Two
of his books have not only been published, but have attracted
widespread notice, both in our own country and in the Old
World; and sometimes I think that my old joke about peo-

ple turning to look at me as the wife of a noted author,
RUDOLF’S LETTER. 349

when I walk upon the street, might not be so foolish after
all; only that so closely wedded to my home am JI, that I
seldom go upon the street at all, and no one is ever likely
to see me there.

I must not forget to tell you that all this interest in
his work has greatly encouraged John. Indeed, at this very
time he and little Scops are busily engaged in writing a new
book ; that is, Scops is assisting in his master’s labors by sit-
ting on his shoulder and looking wise. Perhaps he thinks he
brought good luck to the other two, and that it will be well
to have a hand—or rather a claw —in this; for I saw hin
this morning dancing about upon the page while John was
writing, just as in the days of yore; and I hope it means
success to the new book.

I said that old Clovernook remains the same; but there
is one change: we have lately added a new wing to the old
house, which once we thought was more than large enough
for us all.

And why is this, you ask? It is because of a certain
great event which is to take place this very summer, and

for which more room is necessary. And I know you will be

d

glad with us, my dear young friends, when I tell you that,

if all goes well, next August is to bring our Rudolf to us
for that long promised visit, which has been put off, for one
reason and another. until now. Then I shall see my dear
boy once more. But I know I shall find no change in him,
save such as added years may bring to form and mind. In
his heart he is as truly “ Aunt Rachel’s boy” as in those
old days when he sat by her side and played to her upon


350 THE BOYS OF CLOVERNOOK.

his violin—that violin which is sure to bring him great
name and fame some day ; for so they say who know. Ru-
dolf has made such strides in these later years that soon
he may take his place beside the great ones in the world of
music, if he wishes. And I am glad.

And who do you think is coming with Rudolf? Who
but the old Count Eulenstein, who wishes to see Rudolf’s old
home for himself, he says; but who, privately, is loath to let
his boy go from him. Herr Von Erdmann is to come with
them, to take care of both, he writes us; but, in my own
mind, I believe that our tall young Rudolf will be the one
who will care for them. Of course, we are greatly pleased at
this; but, let me whisper in your ear: In the farthest corner
of that new wing shall be Herr Von Erdmann’s bedroom ; for
that is far, far removed from mine, and I do not forget those
nights of long ago.

Mr. and Mrs. Lacy, with Florence and Theodore — our own
little Peter—are coming too; and even Mr. Pembroke may
be here to meet his tall and handsome Harold (fresh from
Harvard, with all his graduation honors thick upon him) and
Brownie, — or Walter, as every one calls him, though, for my
part, I still cling to the old name,—who is here already,
hunting for birds and bugs and butterflies with all his old
zeal, but with very little change in his face and form; for
Brownie will never be very tall, and always will be fat. But
he will be, too, the dearest rogue of a boy to tease a loving
Aunt Rachel that ever existed; though Keith is still — tall
as he is—not far behind.

So you see that the 10th of August is to be a great day
RUDOLF’S LETTER. 351

with us—between ourselves, I can never forget the date;
for is it not the anniversary of the day on which my husband’s
life was saved? Then it is that all these dear friends will
come. So Hannah and I will be flying about for weeks be-
forehand, making ready for our guests, and everybody will
be busy.

The old house shall be made to shine from top to bot-

tom with the cleaning we will give it. We will all put on:

our gala attire; and even Sandy, who is still alive and

apparently as young as ever, shall stalk about in the bright-

_est of bright yellow ribbons, and be decked with “ silver bells

and cockle shells” too, if he so desires, in honor of the occa-
sion; so happy shall we be to welcome these dear friends to
Clovernook.

But there is one thing that troubles me. Do you think

the old count will expect me to wear my diamond necklace?








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