j!I'!I I' iiiii
RARE OLD CHUMS
THE YOUNG OF HEART SERIES
1. Hero-Chums By Will Allen Dromgoole
2. The Pineboro Quartette By Willis Boyd Allen
3. One Thousand Men for a Christmas Present,
By Mary A. Sheldon
4. Daddy Darwin's Dovecote By Juliana H. Ewing
5. Rare Old Chums By Will Allen Dromgoole
6. The Drums of the Fore and Aft,
By Rudyard Kipling
7. The Strange Adventures of Billy Trill,
By Harriet A. Cheever
8. A Boy's Battle By Will Allen Dromgoole
9. The Man Without a Country,
By Edward Everett Hale
10. Editha's Burglar. By Frances Hodgson Burnett
11. Jess By J. M. Barrie
12. Little Rosebud By Beatrice Harraden
SPecial Cover Design on each Volume
Each, Thin 12mo. Cloth. 50 Cents
DANA ESTES & CO., Publishers, Boston
RARE OLD CHUMS.
RARE OLD CHUMS
WILL ALLEN DROMGOOLE
AUTHOR OF "THE VALLEY PATH," "'THE HEART
OF OLD HICKORY," ETC.
ETHELDRED B. BARRY
DANA ESTES & COMPANY
BY DANA ESTES & COMPANY
Electrotyped and Printed by C. H. Simonds & Co.
THE DEAR LITTLE LADY
WHO HAS TRAMPED WITH ME SO MANY TIMES
THROUGH THE HILLS OF TENNESSEE
txarie klnouie B3earb
I. FILLING THE GAPS
II. NOTHING BUT GIRLS
III. PAYING HER VOW.
IV. CHUMMING IN A CABIN.
V. A STORY OF A LILY
VI. A PILGRIM BIRD .
VII. A SERMON ON A MOUNTAIN
VIII. SINK OR SWIM
IX. THE SHADOW ON THE HOUSE
X. IN THE THICK DARKNESS
RARE OLD CHUMS Fron
UNDER THE APPLE-TREE
IN THE RATTY GARRET
" WE'RE ENOUGH,' SAID THE CHILD "
" SUDDENLY THE REEL RANG OUT A WARNING "
" JOURNEYING THROUGH THE WOODS WITH ROD AND
RARE OLD CHUMS.
FILLING THE GAPS.
T HIS is a story of two people. Of course, a great
many other people are connected, indirectly,
with their story, for no life was ever lived that did
not touch a great many other lives; yet, is every life
a thing alone, separate and distinct, and complete in
itself. This is what we call the aloneness of life;
and it is this aloneness that is really life. The
things which influence and entertain are merely
the little gaps, the pauses in the great play, that
must be filled, else life would be too heavy for us
But it isn't necessary to fill up the gaps in a story.
So this is a story of two people only, and as you
read it you may fill in the gaps yourself. It will give
you something to ponder on when the story is fin-
ished: but about these pauses. Once upon a time
two people sat down to play a game of cards.
RARE OLD CHUMS.
"Oh!" cried a bystander; "they are going to
"No," they replied; "we are only going to play
a little game of hearts, to fill up a gap of time."
But when the game was finished one of the players
threw down his cards, laughed, and went about his
business. But the other carried with him a great
sorrow; for that player had lost in the game, and
something beautiful and tender had gone out of his
life. When we speak of it we call it Confidence;
and we know that when it goes it leaves a great
gap indeed, just as it left in this player's heart.
And though the player filled his life with all that was
beautiful, and though he cherished a great ambition,
and did a splendid and worthy work for others, in a
great profession, the empty place in his life that had
been Faith's was never filled, never. And although
he wrote great books that made the sad laugh and
the erring weep, and the world loved him deeply,
when he was alone in the silence of his chamber he
would cry out to the silence, "Oh, my empty heart!
my empty heart!"
But no one ever knew this, or suspected how the
filling in of a little gap in time had killed a loving
faith. No one ever really filled his life, or really
touched it; though a whole world knew him and
It is often so, only it requires a very brave spirit
to make a temple out of a ruined life as he did.
But these two in the story, ah, it was all differ-
FILLING THE GAPS.
ent with them. There were no regrets, no hidden
- hurts, no heart-breaking pauses resulted from their
time spent together, for this is a story of an old
man and a child; and, although, as I said, a great
many people touched their lives, helped and blessed
them indeed, they have no real part in their story,
and so I shall leave them out of it.
So, then, if I fail to go into extreme particulars,
such as who made the child's clothes, or who cooked
the old man's food, you need not be at all surprised.
The clothes were made, the food cooked; you may be
sure of that. The only point is, that the seamstress
and the cook are not poetic parts of the story, and so
they are relegated to the kitchen and the sewing-
room, anywhere but in these pages.
It isn't a deeply plotted story either,--I must tell
you that much at the beginning. So if you are going
into it expecting to laugh, or to wonder a great deal,
to find robbers and murders and thrilling, adven-
tures, you had as well stop now, for there's nothing
of the kind about it. The wisdom of the old man is
the chief charm of it, all the charm it has, perhaps.
But it is a wisdom that will uplift your life, if you
give your mind to it, and help you to make of it
something better than filling up a gap between your
cradle and your grave.
As for the child, she was odd," they were wont
to say of her; but her story has a purpose, her life
had a purpose, as you will see when you grasp the
real meaning of it. She was made, I think, to fill,.
14 RARE OLD CHUMS.
expressly to fill, the gaps of other human hearts.
For God sent her into the world endowed with a
sort of inner sight that showed her the empty
places she was to occupy; this inner-sight is some-
times known by the name of Sympathy. It is chiefly
born in the soul; but sometimes it has parents, and
the parents' names are Sorrow and Experience.
There were years.and years between their ages, yet
they were great chums, confidants, and the best of
friends always. It was a beautiful friendship indeed,
-such companionship between youth and age always
is beautiful; only, youth cannot always see it so, at
first. How these two came to be such chums was the
result of a gap also, and I will tell you about it in
the next chapter.
NOTHING BUT GIRLS.
T HERE had been a good many daughters born to
the old man, the senior chum of the story, but
never a son; that is, not for a long time ; but at last (this
is the way he told it) the Lord remembered him, and
a son was born. He was an old man, even when the
little girl, who was the other chum to be sure, was
born; so he called this son God had given him Joseph;
" Because," he declared, he was "the son of his old
And while he didn't put the child's name into his
business, as he might have done, he did put it in his
prayers to God; and so entirely did he associate it
with all his plans and purposes, so truly did the boy
fill his life and his thoughts, that he gave scant notice
to the dark-faced, solemn-eyed little girl who followed
at his heels, lived upon a word, a glance from him,
and was so truly happy if he so much as looked her
As for the striped peppermint rings, the nuts, and
sugar-frosted figs that found their way through the old
man's pockets, she scarcely thought of them; of course
RARE OLD CHUMS.
they were for her brother; she understood that well
enough; all she thought of, or wished for, was a crumb
from the brother's table. And, oh, how she did hope
the crumb would come in the form of a smile, or a
loving look. She was not jealous, or sorry for the
child's coming; she was glad because it made the old
But in her heart there was an abiding wish that
grew and strengthened as the years went on; a wish
that grew, unchecked, until it became a great rebellion
in her soul; as unchecked wishes will; a wish that
God had made of her a boy, too. Only boys were
loved in that house," she was wont to tell herself,
and only boys were wanted."
For she remembered hearing her mother say once,
that when she was born the old man had sighed, and
"< Nothing but girls."
She was young, but she understood, and she grew
to almost hate girls. Nobody loved them, and they
were of no use in the world, except to sit up like the
big rose-painted china vases on the parlour mantel, and
She thought a great deal about these things those
days when the house had gone upside down over the
boy; and whenever she thought of it she would go off
alone into a ratty, old garret, away up-stairs, and have
it out with God."
That was the way she told it to me, years and years
afterwards. For I have told you she was odd; she
NOTHING BUT GIRLS.
didn't take to many people, because perhaps people
didn't take to her. She was not pretty, and her solemn,
big gray eyes, they used to say, seemed always to be
somehow looking them through and through. So they
were glad always to get away from her, and her
Then she had a blunt way about her of saying
odd things; and she was too truthful to be very popu-
lar; they said she was not "polite," because once
when a great lady asked her if she would not like to
go home with her to live, she said, No; because the
great lady hawked and spit, and that it made her sick."
The lady never asked her again to come and live with
her; but she never spat in the child's presence again
either, and that was something gained to both of
And once, when there was a Congressman invited
to dinner, the little girl was permitted to come into
the parlour and listen while the older people talked.
She sat on the edge of a great black sofa, just where
her solemn eyes could watch every movement, take in
every detail of the visitor. He was a vain man, pomp-
ous and full of his own importance. Though he was
a great politician, too, even if he did run a white part
through the middle of his hair, and wax his long,
black moustache, and dust his face with a pink Pezzoni
powder, and use perfume on his clothes, and nibble
scented bon-bon balls.
He talked a great deal after dinner, and the others
listened. The little girl listened more closely than
RARE OLD CHUMS.
all perhaps; at least he was thinking she did, when
more than once he caught the solemn eyes fixed upon
his face. Their gaze quite flattered him indeed; and
he told more stories, some funny, some heroic, and
himself the hero of all of them, and most of them
untrue perhaps, thinking he was bewildering with his
greatness the little audience before him, especially
the gray-eyed little girl. Then suddenly he turned to
the child, edged off to the end of the big sofa, and
Well, little girl, and what are you thinking of, that
you look at me so steadily ?"
He certainly expected a compliment; any ordinary
little girl would have known her manners well enough
to have given it. But this was an odd child, and
painfully truthful. Moreover, her sisters often told
her she didn't have sense enough to hold her tongue."
At any rate, be this as it may, she generally spoke
when she was spoken to, and they said that when she
did speak something always went to pieces."
It was the Congressman went to pieces" this
time. He didn't have to repeat his question either;
for no sooner had he asked what she was thinking of,
than the little girl replied, quite soberly:
I was thinking of the wart on your nose."
You may be sure there was a sad punishment
reserved for her by and by. For the mother of her
was deeply chagrined. The old man, however,
chuckled at her smartness, and although he forgot
her, he almost immediately said:
NOTHING BUT GIRLS.
She told the truth at all events. It was more
than he did."
No, she wasn't popular, and she was not pretty.
So she naturally fell back upon herself. She made
a great confidant of herself, a rather good habit by
the way, and she had two favourite retreats when
she was accustomed to retire for these confidences;
one was under the shade of a big old apple-tree, over
beyond the cabbages in the garden, with the aspara-
gus bed on another side, and a tall picket fence
shutting off the view behind. The other retreat
was the ratty garret. And here, I doubt not, resulted,
from these retiring into herself, the two great char-
acteristics which stood out with such distinctness in
all her after life; and which influenced and affected
so many lives that touched her own, -her love for,
and familiarity with, nature. Who knows what secrets
the south winds breathed to the hungry young child-
soul, as it stirred among the boughs of the apple-tree
overhead? Who knows what melodies the Mother
Earth breathed into the ear nestled among the pur-
plish collards of the cabbage bed? Who can say
what message from the sun waved in the graceful
greens of the feathery asparagus ? Or declare if the
clouds placed themselves for her pleasing, while the
eyes of the dreamer followed their mystic movements,
and her sensitive spirit caught their meaning? Who
knows? Who knows? Or who knows if those pas-
sionate outpourings in a lonely garret, which she
called "having it out with God," were not the be-
RARE OLD CHUMS.
ginning, the first springing seed of that faith which
illumined her life, and the lives of others, and taught
her the nearness and dearness of a personal God, to
walk with and talk with, in the place of those human
friends her oddities had denied her ?
We are wandering, I know; but getting the
dreamer back to her garret gets us back to our
She always "had it out with God," when her
puzzles and troubles became a burden. So when
the brother was turning the household upside down,
she went off one day to her garret to talk it over
with God. And what she said was:
"Why didn't you make me a boy, too ? You might
have done it, and I know you could. It wouldn't have
been a bit more trouble to you. I could have been an
angel just the same when I died; and you see what a
difference it would have been to me here, if you had
made me a boy. And you could have done it; you
know you could; Iknow you could. Aren't you God?
Can't God do anything ? And I might have done a
great deal for you, too. I might have been a preacher.
I'd like to have been a preacher, if I wasn't a girl. If
I was God, I would never, never make a girl-baby,
never, n-e-v-e-r !"
Then she would drift off into dreaming what a
funny world it would be without any girls in it.
There would be no pretty dresses at church on
Sunday, and no earthly use for the dolls in the
stores down town. And there would be no parasols
UNDER THE APPLE-TREE.
NOTHING BUT GIRLS.
at the picnics, and-nobody to run screaming when a
snake crept out of the tall grass. And there would
not be any milliners, and dressmakers, and oh,
dear! there wouldn't be any mothers. And right
there the annihilation of the female element ended,
for she knew that would never do. So she decided
she would- if at the head and helm of human
affairs make a few girls, anyhow; just a ftw.
Then it occurred to her how those few would have
to be mothered; and she shuddered to think how
many might come claiming her own mother. So
she gave up the puzzling consideration with this:
"I reckon you'll fix it all right somehow. If I'd
been a boy maybe I'd been a Congressman, and told
lies. Yes; I reckon it's all right, God."
If you will take the trouble to observe, you will
soon find out that the child of six is, in character, the
man or woman of sixty. The same faults follow it,
the same goodness guides, the same disposition makes
life a peace, or a purgatory. These are the things
one is born with, and for which they must blame, or
bless, a long ancestry, since they are the things of
which character is made. But there is this advan-
tage: whatever the inheritance may be, it may be
softened, sanctified indeed, if one only will take
the care to subdue the evil in his possessions.
This little girl was the possessor of a great faith;
all her reasoning and rebellions and struggles ended
always with the self-assuring conviction that "He
would fix it, somehow. Fix it all right."
RARE OLD CHUMS.
But there is no disputing the fact that she hated to
be a girl. She kept the rebellion in her own heart,
however, so far as the outside world was concerned.
But as the boy grew out of babyhood, and the little.
girl began to understand in reality something of the
great gulf called Prerogative, which lies between
the life of a woman and that of a man, the rebel-
lion in her soul waxed warmer and stronger and more
bitter, until one day she gathered up her dolls and
all her other girlish toys and beat them into dust
between the stones of the pavement, and sprinkled
the dust over the place that had been her playhouse,
saying, as she did so:
"I am sowing it with salt. I am done with all
And she was; she never touched a doll again. On
the other hand, she stole her brother's little rod and
line and tried to teach herself to fish; but there was
no bait on the hook, and the fish refused to bite. She
tried many things that were boyish and looked pleas-
ant,-ball and marbles and top; but the ball she
threw broke a window pane; she shot her marbles
up instead of downward, and spun her top wrong end
up. She even tried to ride a pony once when no one
was looking; but it trotted off with her into the barn
and bumped her head, and kept her on its back for
hours, until some one missed her ? Oh, no; nobody
ever missed her, they missed the pony; and finding
him quietly munching in his stall, they found her
astride his sorrel back, sitting upright like a little
NOTHING BUT GIRLS.
savage: stiff, half frozen, stolid as a warrior, waiting
until somebody came, or, as she said, Until she died
there." She met her after fate in much the same
way; but that's anticipating.
She had a lonely time those days, for it was
before she became a chum, you understand, and
nobody dreamed of the busy brain and fiery heart
throbbing in the body of her. They called her
" odd," "impolite," and left her to herself. And
she was willing to be left alone; only, she loved to
hang about the old man who was by and by to be
the other chum. She hung upon his words, caught
queer expressions, or they sounded queer upon a
child's tongue, learned to talk politics (with her-
self), pondered upon the mighty mystery of being,
and hated more and more to be a girl.
But one day something happened which made her
indeed wish she might have been a boy,- oh, wish
it with all her strong young soul. It was a day in
summer, the hot, Southern summer, when the sun
shone, and the bluebirds had all day been fanning
their wings in the tops of the red oak-trees; the
magnolias had finished blooming, and the ripe,
red, seedy cones of them showed among the satiny
leaves like scarlet balls among the green. The roses
drooped in the hot sunshine, and the sky was blue
as sapphire. A bright day; just a day for a tragedy.
You are a child, perhaps, who are reading this
story, and have not thought much of such things,
but you will think; and when your eyes and your
RARE OLD CHUMS.
soul shall have alike opened to nature and to human
need, you will notice how it is, when the sun shines
and the skies are fair, that great shocks seem to come
Just as a ship goes down, sometimes, on a quiet sea,
so joy dies in a human soul. Every ripple rolls away,
and the deep waters fall back into place again. Joy
does not return to fill the heart utterly emptied any
more than the ship sails again, or the sea gives up
her dead. But a sea bird sings across the place at
morning, and at eve the silver stars shine. That is
So the shock came to the old man, a sorrow that
bowed his head and broke his poor wife's heart. The
little boy God lent, and for whose coming they
had watched and prayed and hungered, and whose
presence had been a blessed angel to their hearts,
the little boy God lent, went back to him.
Died, you say? Some call it dying. Isay he only
went back again; God lent him, but there was a
purpose in the loan; be sure of that always.
And then this other child, this strangely untamed
being, why, the shock of the brother's death sent her
off again straightway, among the dust and cobwebs of
her garret, to "have it out with God." She poured
her whole rebellious little soul out to him. Argu-
ing even, just as it seemed the case called for to
her untrained mind.
You needn't have done it, God," she argued.
You know you needn't have. It was all he had,
-.-* | B
IN THE RATTY GARRET.
--- k -Lim
I T --
NOTHING BUT GIRLS.
-his one only little boy, and there are lots and lots
of girls. You might have taken one of them: me;
nobody would have minded then, and I'd have made
a bigger angel, if that is what you needed. You
could have taken me instead. You could! You
could! You could! You know you could. Aren't
you God? Can't God do anything? If I was
God, I'd never let anybody die,- never, never,
Then she fell to thinking how it would be with
nobody ever dying; the old just dragging on for
ever; the bad always worrying the good; the poor
always hungry; no blessed little child-angels; earth
crowded, heaven empty; and, overwhelmed with the
horror of it, she fell back upon her old answer to all
"I reckon you'll fix it right."
Subdued, she crept down after awhile into the
darkened room, where lay the little dead boy in a
white casket covered with tiny pale pink rosebuds.
She tiptoed softly about the room, afraid some one
would hear her there and send her off again. On
a stand beside the window his toys and small boyish
possessions had been collected, waiting to be packed
away out of sight, after that heart-breaking fashion
that we have.
Here were his marbles; ten red agates among the
whites, and striped chinas. His ball, as good as new,
for he had never used it much, and a top that he had
showed her how to spin, or tried to. His gun, a new
RARE OLD CHUMS.
one, indeed, for he had never been allowed a gun, and
this one had been bought only the day before he went,
leaned against the wall. A small walnut box, neat
and carefully kept, held his fishing things; his tackle.
Already he was becoming a companion to the old
man. They had spent many hours together on the
river bank already. Here were his books; babyish
things, mostly pictures, but still, books. The old man
was bent on having him grow faster; his riderless
pony nibbled the grass outside the window; twice
his nose had rubbed the shutter, as though he might
be hunting for his little master.
The girl touched the small reminders on the table
gently, lovingly; indeed, with reverence. They whis-
pered the young heart of her, spoke to her of the
beautiful, brave manhood into which by and by he
would have passed. Again the uselessness of girl-
hood, the limitations, the puny powers, the narrow
avenues of the sex to which misfortune placed her,
chafed and fretted in her heart.
Suddenly a great thought came to her. She stepped
over to the casket's side and looked down, long and
steadily, into the quiet face of the young dead; so
calm, so beautiful, in its early rescue from earth's
She placed her sunburned fingers, warm with life,
upon the marble hands folded on the boy's breast,
and clasping them fast, the strange child, sensitive
and hungry for a human sympathy, registered a vow
with her dead brother in his coffin.
NOTHING BUT GIRLS. 31
God must have needed you," said she, "else why
did he take you when he might have taken me in-
stead? I don't know why he took you; you might
have gone bad, by and by, when you grew up to be
a man, but I don't believe it. You were not half as
like to go bad as I am, for you were good, and they
loved you. I'm bad, and ugly, too; maybe that's
why God didn't want me; I'd have made an ugly
angel. So I reckon he fixed it all right. But-"
She leaned over, lower and lower, until her lips
touched the dead ear of her brother, and whispered:
"I am going to take your place. I am going to
play your plays, and do your work. I am going to be
PAYING HER VOW.
THE child did not forget her vow; not even when
they were lowering the little casket into the
grave. And when all was over, and the house had
fallen into that sombre quiet that always attends the
passing of an inmate, and the various members of
the household were making their bravest efforts to
pick up the broken threads of life and go on as before,
the girl set about filling her brother's place. Paying
her vow," she called it; for you must know that
books were her companions, and she had an ear that
caught, a memory that kept. You see, God compen-
sates for all that he denies. Don't forget, ever, God's
compensations. Books were her compensation.
She sought the old man, sitting alone, and bowed
with the desolation that follows death, and slipping
softly to his side, ventured to steal an arm about his
neck. He did not move, except to cover one of the
small brown hands with his. I doubt he even knew
who was there; he only felt it was a sympathiser,
and he answered to the sympathy, not to the giver
of it. The child's touch tightened about his neck:
PAYING HER VOW.
"I have been to the parsonage," said she, "and I
asked the preacher to baptise me, and he did it, when
I told him why I wanted it. And my name isn't
Leonora any more, it is Leonard, and I'm your boy
The old man looked up, caught the child's heart
and meaning in her eyes, opened his arms, and taking
his new "boy to his bosom, bathed her face with his
You have heard an old nursery rhyme that ends:
And that was the way it all began ?"
Well, that was the way they began to be chums.
That was the first of it, and as the years sped on and
on, as years will, whether we laugh or cry, the com-
radeship grew, and strengthened, and developed into
such a beautiful thing, that at the very last there were
others beside the child who were disposed to believe
"He fixed it right."
But I am anticipating again. I always do when
I try to tell this story. When one carries a message
one naturally hurries. But the story must carry its
own message, you say ? Good! The story is welcome.
But the sisters:
What ? said they," you have been to the parson-
age, and had your name changed?" Then they, all
of them, laughed, and dropped it from their minds;
for it was generally understood this "odd child"
could "take care of herself." But they called her
BARE OLD CHUMS.
by her new name; and they also soon learned to call
her a tomboy."
Her mother, however, did not accept the changed
name and the'attempt at boyishness in the form of a
joke. She had been too busy all her life, it hadn't
been such a long life, for she was a, second wife, to be
sure, -and she had scarcely had the time, with her
house and the stepdaughters, and her own children,
and the social affairs of life, to watch the soul expan-
sion of the little girl who had voluntarily repudiated
girlhood. She knew the child was growing, for were
there not tucks to be let out of her dresses every
spring-time, hems to be ripped, facings set on, sleeves
lengthened, numberless little odds and ends telling in
unmistakable terms how the small body was length-
ening,-" shooting up like a cornstalk," the sisters
said ? But there are no outgrown garments, alas!
no hems and tucks and dreaded stitches to warn a
mother when the soul of her child has outgrown its
last year's incasement.
So when the mother of this little girl heard of the
baptism at the parsonage and the new name, she sent
for the child into the darkened room where she was
lying among the white pillows, grieving for the boy
left in the graveyard.
The child went reluctantly; something told her
there was going to be a clash of authority here,
and with every step in the direction of her mother's
room the heart of her hardened and grew more
PAYING HER VOW.
When she entered the room her mother fixed
her sad eyes upon her face and said, with severe
Why did you change your name?"
"I was tired of it."
The child's answers were usually brief, but always
pointed. The questioning went on.
Why didn't you ask permission?"
"It was my name."
The faintest shadow of a smile played about the
pale lips of the mother, just for an instant.
"You ought to know, you are old enough to
know, that you have behaved unbecoming a nice
"I don't want to be 'a nice little girl.' I hate
nice little girls. They are no good to anybody,
and a puppy can be 'nice.' I won't be a puppy
and just nice.' "
A hint, a shadowy hint of the aspiring young
soul, just daring to lift its face to the light, was
borne to the mother at that moment. She extended
Come here; kneel down there by my side; I want
to talk to you. There, now, do you wish me to order
an ugly suit of boy's clothes for you ? To dress you
up in trousers and boots, and to give all your little
dresses away ?"
"Yes, only I want the boots long ones, and the
trousers strong ones, for I am going to wade every
creek in town and climb all the trees. And when
RARE OLD CHUMS.
I am grown up I am going to work like a man.
Women are nothing, only pretty,--a doll can be
pretty, or a little green toad. I don't want to
be a toad and just be pretty."
The mother held her breath, -where had this
strange creature calling herself her child been
hiding all these years? It was like the sudden
discovery of a beautiful jewel in a brown pebble.
The heart that was desolate for the darling laid
away turned with sudden fullness to its darling liv-
ing. She placed her hand on the child's head and,
lifting the solemn little brown face to hers, said:
"If my little girl goes off disguising, then I am
desolate, indeed. It is always best to be content,
and to do the best we can with what we are. Some
day I am going to tell you about the great women
who have lived, and their great works. Sometime, I
am too weak now. But I have strength to tell you
this much: you can become anything you wish: some-
thing, a great deal, or nothing. It lies with you,
entirely. God has done his part. We can always
make ourselves, build into what we please, on God's
foundation. Remember that."
Ah, she would remember. She would never, never
forget, indeed. For was it not a last admonition ?
A last warning ? A seed dropped just in time to
catch the shower ? No fear of her forgetting; no,
never, never. The "sometime" when the story of
the great women who-had graced the earth was to
be told never came. In two days the mother slept
PAYING HER VOW.
beside the little boy in the big graveyard and the
house dropped into a deeper, deadlier silence than
Change followed change, fortune fled, the sisters
married, moved away, friends forgot, died, until at
last there was nobody left but an old man and a
child. There was much those dreary days to try
their souls, and much, for adversity has its mercies,
to knit their hearts in sympathy and love. Right
glad was the old man of his boy-girl," who whistled
at his side, trudged with him to the river bank, sang
if he was sad, and loved him always.
But all her care could not keep off the shadow of
the beast that dogs the steps of age and its misfor-
tunes, howls in the night, and threatens that which
makes the strongest heart grow faint with fear. The
gaunt wolf that pants in the path of adversity. One
day he came so close he almost showed his fangs.
A day when strangers, men with heavy tread and
grim, unfeeling faces, tramped up and down the long
silent rooms of the old man's house, dragged out
its buried treasures, things sacred to the touch of
those who once had loved them: the dear, dear
A sheriff's sale. Ah, Christ! who does not know
the agony of such a scene ?
The child crouched on the stairway, shorn of its
carpetings, and watched with burning eyes the disso-
lution of the place that had been home. The strange,
strong man, who dared to lay unholy'hands upon the
RARE OLD CHUMS.
things that once her mother loved, and the brother
who had graced the earth his few short summers.
She saw, and heard, and sickened with the scene.
She saw the friends, who had been, throng the
place to seize at bargains which their jealous
souls had long since coveted. She saw her father,
old and weary, sink beneath the burden. She saw
the future, as, thank God, few children see; she
saw the hollow world, and understood the utter
nothingness of friendship. She learned in that
brief day the meaning of life's pain, and all the
long, hard lesson of humanity's great struggle.
She learned what sorrow was, and friendship was
not. She knew her father's day in the great battle
was all done, and he would fight no more. And with
the ending of that fateful day she gathered all her
sad, new knowledge to her aid, and took the reins
of life, his life and hers, in hand.
The old man sat upon his lonely doorsteps in the
twilight of a Southern autumn. The stars began to
peep through the yellow leaves of the ancient locust-
trees that stood like scarred old veterans in a long,
straight, solemn line along the pavement. No crickets
chirped among the grasses, for the hoarfrost had
nipped all vegetation, and silenced the voices of nature.
Even the katydids were dumb, and the birds gone
southward. The honking of wild geese had been
heard for days; the breath of summer chilled. All
nature was full of the sadness of death.
"Only we two left," said the old man, softly.
"' WE ARE ENOUGH,' SAID THE CHILD."
PAYING HEB. VOW.
"Just us, -a little child and an old man, just
We're enough," said the child.
Yes," said the old man, "we ought to be. But
what shall we do with ourselves ? How live, and
The child glanced about her with an air of disdain.
The streets were dry and dusty; up and down, far as
the eye could reach, there were houses of brick and
mortar, painted wood, and stone. There was no fresh-
ness anywhere, save perhaps in the child's soul. She
waved her hand at the dwellings; a grand sweep
that took in even the tall spires of the churches,
further to the heartof the town:
Let's get out of this," said she. Let's find room
It was a fine thought; they soon gathered to-
gether the remnants of fortune left them, turned
their backs upon the life that had been, and with
hand clasped in hand, started out upon the path
they two had chosen.
The path lay straight through nature's heart; it
ended--but I anticipate again.
CHUMMING IN A CABIN.
T was a cabin in a wilderness. Doors and windows
opened to the sun, and to the mountain, towering
above it like a giant with his head among the
clouds. The cedars waved upon the mountain's crest,
and at its base, down among the valley greens, sang
the Elk, the blue river of Tennessee. The cabin
opened to the sun, -it was all misfortune left them,
these two who had fled before her steps. The floors
were white and clean, the old man dozed in summer
underneath the vines, beside the door, or dipped his
line into the Elk, as his mind might tempt him. As
for the girl, -how glad she was to be a boy, since
it gave her the freedom of the forest. Three years
had passed, when one morning she turned from
spreading her breakfast-table. to say, sharply:
There! I call that bad. And the way the breeze
pulls at that curtain like a like a -"
The wind at that moment lifted the muslin curtain
to the ceiling. Fortunately; because it gave her some-
thing to think about besides words with which to make
the comparison she had started out upon.
CHUMMING IN A CABIN.
The old man laughed.
"Throw it back, Len," said he; twist the thing
back and hang it on a nail, so that the wind may
come right in. You've no idea of the good things
the wind will bring in if you twist that curtain out of
"Yes, I have," said the small housekeeper; wind,
dust, flies, gnats! As to twisting, if we were back
in the old times, when you and I were young, they
wouldn't let us twist the window curtains. Mother
wouldn't, the girls wouldn't."
"But we are here," said the old man, "in the
new times, the good time. And there's nobody but
We're quite enough," said the small chum, and
as for the curtain, up she goes. Ah! it is good; and
-ah! what is that? Smells like cake, sugar-plums,
tarts, and wild roses, all jumbled into one."
"That," sniffed the old man, "is wild grapes.
There is nothing in all the woods sweeter than the wild-
grape blossoms. I want you to love the woods; they
are the key to all beautiful and holy thoughts. You
know the groves were his 'first temples;' I always
think they were his best, too. And I love to think
the birds were his first choristers, flowers his first
incense. The stars, I am sure, were his first wor-
shippers, and sang together' at the morning. I hope
you will love the Lord's first temple."
Yes," said the child, I am sure I shall, because
you will teach me the secrets of the forest, and the
44 RARE OLD CHUMS.
language of nature. I shall be sure to love it, because
- because you -do."
It was May time come again. The young greens
were on the trees; new birds chirping in their nests;
bluets and the dark wild violets hid among the
Life had changed to the chums; the cabin into
which their fate had set them down, crouched like a
wee, brown bird at the foot of the crags, its windows
lifted to the mountain's top, its doors opened to the
sun, and to the winding Elk slipping ever on to find
the stiller, deeper, but no whit more lovely, Tennessee.
Who cared if the brown cabin lacked the smell of
paint? Who cared if friends save for the humble
dwellers of the hills were few, forgot indeed the
very existence of these two who had wandered hand
in hand beyond their memories. Who cared if winter
howled hard at the cabin door, and sometimes hush !
don't let the old man hear -the gray, gaunt wolf
howled, too, away off in the night and the darker
The old man never guessed it; his ears were
getting dulled to life's alarms. But to the quick
ears of the child the wolf's howls came on the night
wind, startling her from her dreams, and driving her
off to peep into the cupboard, cast up her little hoard,
and wonder, in that plaintive way which kills the
childhood in the heart, and paints the look of woman
in the baby features, what sad alarms the future might
C01rMMIXG IXN A C1YfIN.
They were poor, ay, poor enough. But as the
small chum said, they "had each other." Then the
spring-time would come again, and in its fresh young
gladness, the gaunt threatener of the night was quite
forgotten for the time.
One day a new member joined the little family in
the cabin; a third party, or, as the child declared,
The newcomer was a dog; a slender, sleek young
greyhound. He wandered in at sunrise one morning
when the little maid was laying out her cloth for
breakfast, with the door. flung wide, and the wild
bees hovering about a bowl of honey set in a heap of
pinkish mountain roses in the centre of the table.
She was singing as she dried her cups and watched
the sun streaking the mountain's top with silver, and
was unaware another wanderer from the haunts of
men had elected to share their solitude, until the dog
thrust its cold nose into her face. For the face, you
must understand, surmounted a very, very diminutive
pedestal, while the hound was long, as well as lank
"Mercy! cried the chum. How you startled
me! When did you come, and how? And my!
how sleek you are, and fine! Remember, no silk hats
allowed in this establishment. We are fleeing from the
'pomp and glory,' here. And look at you, sir gray
satin for a coat; silver gray; a white down collar;
eyes of topaz; teeth to shame a dentist. Too fine for
these parts, and this hut, but, I'm glad to see you ;
RARZ OLD CIUMMS..
dearly glad." And as she talked the queer child had
nestled down by the gray dog's side, wound her arms,
slender and white, about the docile creature's throat,
and caught her every other word with a sob. It was
like a message from a far-off land.
What was it to sob for ? A dog that had wandered
into her wilderness from the gay world in which she
had been born, and fled from ? She had not loved her
gay world; neither had the dog, she fancied; and the
old fount of sympathy, so ready always to gush for
the unfortunate, had burst its bands at the touch of
this beautiful strayling come to seek companionship
in the wilderness.
What is it, honey ?" asked the old man from his
seat outside the cabin door, among the vines and
mountain laurels. And the little maid made answer:
Why, I think it is a dog, though perhaps it is a
lord of some kind in disguise; his language is a new
one to me."
Laughing, the old man went in to see what manner
of guest had found his door ajar.
Why," said he, "he's a stray, a beautiful stray at
that. He will have to go back again."
The girl looked up from the glossy throat she was
fondling, and said:
He has .come to stay; there is a staying look in
the eyes of him. You can always tell when a thing
has come to stay."
"Yes," said the old chum, that is quite true; but I
wish you hadn't learned that lesson quite so early."
CHUM~MINO IN A CAPIN.
He sighed, and tapped the empty bowl of his pipe
lightly upon his palm; something told him already
that this child was not destined for the common,
quiet ways. The small feet would tread unusual
paths; be pierced perhaps by the thorns.
We learn that lesson," he said, dreamily watching
the sombre top of the mountain through the open
window, we learn that lesson too early. But it is
true, quite true, that we know when things have come
to stay. When one is young, for instance, love comes,
and we say,' Welcome, love.' And lo! while we say it,
love is gone. But the one love, I like to think there
is but one, when we meet it, in the silences of pain,
the gloom of sorrow, or the blackness of midnight,
we know that it has come to stay. We open our
hearts, and take it in, and it never goes again. Not
real love; yes, we know when it has come to stay.
Sometimes it tears and wounds, and does not respond
to our caresses, but it stays in our hearts; a dear,
dear sorrow, but it stays. But about the dog, Len,
we must send it home."
The girl fastened her fingers in the dog's white
throat. Well, chummy," said she, he came without
an invitation, he'll go the same way. I never turn a
guest from my door. And now we want a name for
Oh, call him Zip, or Rip, or Nip; most anything
will. do for the little time he'll tarry with us. We have
had friends before this, Len."
The child's brow clouded. "But that's all done
PAPEV OLIJ CHUMS.
with now," said she. "Forget it, forget it, father
dear. The friends who come to us now are tempted
by no false glitter. They come because they love us;
else the world has been too much for them, too, as
this poor dog here. Now, come to your breakfast,
father mine; your speckled trout that left the' Elk
last night is in the frying-pan. We'll eat it, then
we'll name our friend here."
"The name first," declared the old man, with his
smile come back again. We'll call him,. from his
coat's hue, Silver,' from his mode of coming to us,
'Stray;' and now we have it, Silverstray; and, if you
please, we'll drink his health in coffee."
Oh," cried the girl, "you do hit the nail so
straight! Here's your cup. I am going to fetch the
"And when we've eaten it," said the old chum,
"we'll catch another. Come! I am going to teach
you how to hook a trout."
"I ? Really, now ? I thought it was boys only
boys- who can fish."
"A girl," said the old chum, slowly, "may do any-
thing a boy may do. She has the same rights and
privileges, or should have; .the same common sense
and courage. The world will agree to that some
"Now," cried the child, "that's what I like about
you. You have got such s-e-n-s-e."
A STORY OF A LILY.
S"NOW, the great trouble about fishing," said the
N Small chum, as she tossed her line far out into
the river, is that I must call upon you always to haul
in my catch.
"I know a great deal about it. Oh, yes, I do;
you needn't smile. I know that the trout in Elk
River are too aristocratic to nibble at a worm. Noth-
ing short of a steelback minnow will tempt them. I
know they like to hide under rolling logs, and in the
cool, deep pools. But the thing I don't know is,-
when to pull them up. I am either too quick or else
too late. I never pull at the right time."
The old fisherman laid aside the sinker he was
fastening to his line, gave the silver hound a gentle
kick, and said:
You've struck the key-note of the sport. And not
alone of this sport, but of all sport, and of all serious
ventures, too. To pull at the proper time. That is
the great secret of all successes. It's worth getting
in your memory book. Pull when you feel the fish
nibble, if you would save your bait and hang your
RARE OLD CHUMS.
catch. It is always well to remember it. Opportunities
never nibble twice at the same hook, child."
The small chum snuggled down among the rocks,
and prepared to spend the day. She had a great deal
to say to-day, for she had been thinking, and she had
a fancy that she wanted a good listener.
"Now," said she, what I like about you is, you
let a body talk. Most fishermen are sullen, and silent,
and won't have talking. Now, when it comes to that,
I hang up my tackle."
Fish have no ears," said the old man, though I'm
not pretending that the clatter of a woman's tongue
won't cause concussion in the air, and warn them of
The little maid got up, shook out her skirts, and
whistled to the dog.
"I'll take my tongue into the woods," said she,
"and not endanger your luck. You may look for
us at noon. Come, Silverstray."
The dew was on the grass; the summer greens
were glistening. Deep in the woods' heart the
little maid found a quiet nook shut in by trees
trailing their summer draperies, the muscadine, the
wild grape, and the scarlet bamboo. The sweet,
wild things of the forest appealed always to her, as
if they might have been of kin, so close was their
companionship, She threw herself among the ferns
and grasses, and, in her old way, fell to dreaming.
It was so good to live away from the world that she
did not love. Away from the noise, the dust, the
A STORY OF A LILY.
confusion, and the pains of doubt, and false friend-
ships; the agony of unrest, the long sorrow of wait-
ing for joy that never comes. She was too young to
feel these things in their intensity, but she felt the
glad freedom of nature, the blessed companionship
of one faithful old heart that would hold her image
until God stilled it.
Stilled it, ah, that was the thought that haunted
and harassed her. If he should die,--if she should
die. She clasped her hands about the dog's throat,
buried her face in his silken coat, and prayed, prayed
as when a little child she had "had it out with God."
There isn't much to eat," she said, "and less to
look for. I dare not let him know how little's in the
house; but God, dear God, let me go first; don't
leave me here without him, don't, don't. I am so
small, the world so big. Take me first, don't leave
me here alone. You know you can; aren't you
The wind crept through the sassafras bushes, where
the sun had kissed them red; a shadow fell upon
shine, and through the gloom of it she saw an
old man, helpless and alone, wandering by a river's
side, head drooped, hands weary, and none to give a
word of comfort. For all were gone, gone; even a
selfish girl, who, for fear of loneliness, had begged of
God to take her first. All were gone save this one
wandering old man, who had no other hope but just
to wait for death. She placed her hands upon her
eyes, and cried out, sharply:
RARE OLD CHUMS.
Don't listen to me, God, don't! I know you'll fix
it right; but don't let me go first."
After that, always, she was haunted with the fear
of death, of leaving him alone and helpless, none to
speak a cheering word, to lift his poles, to reel the
line in, to keep the wolf back from the door. And
whenever the fear came, when her head would ache,
her back be weary with the work, -for there was
much of it,- fate wear her gloom, the world look
dark; always at such times her prayer would be, "But
do not take me first, 0 God. Dear God, do not take
me first; always after that.
The fisherman dropped his line into the water and
wondered why the little maid did not come back.
Four splendid trout dangled from the string, besides
a snapper and a right fair show of perch. He was
keen to show his treasures, and was glad enough
when, through the summer greens, he saw her com-
ing, arms full of brush to build the fire, eyes full of
laughter, the greyhound at her heels.
"I'm going to boil the coffee now," she called,
"and, while it's boiling, I've a question that I want
"Of course you have," the old man answered;
"you wouldn't be a woman if you had no 'question'
always ready on yoiir tongue. Come, let's hear it."
She broke the brittle twigs, laid on the larger
sticks, dry leaves beneath, the coffee-pot on top of
all, and touched the tinder with a match. The
blaze shot up.
A STORY OF A LILY.
Remind me now," she cautioned, "to take it off
- sometime. That's the trouble with my cooking, I
forget; I burned my biscuit black last night, and left
the rice three days in the stew-pan. Now, remind me
of the coffee. What I want to ask is can't you
move a trifle ? I'm almost inched into Elk River.
There, that's better. Now, I want to know: do
women ever turn preacher?"
." Goodness! No! They are born preachers;.
they never let up, never, not until they're in their
graves," said he.
Ah," said the child, I should have thought you
would have answered better, truer than that."
Then he saw that she was serious, and, as he
always did, went out to meet her mind.
"Would you like a story, now?" he asked.
" Though I'll warn you at the start it has its hook
Go on," said she, twisting the crisp leaves of a
laurel shrub that grew among the rocks, "go on,-
I'll follow the example of the fish and try to snip the
bait off, and dodge the hook. Go on!"
"Women," said he, "presume upon the insignifi-
cance, the seeming smallness of the sins which they
commit: as vanity, untruth, envying one another,
gossiping, and scolding. Men do their ugly deeds
in daylight: murder, arson, and such hideous things
one shakes to hear of them.
But sins, I've sometimes thought, were weighed,
like common stuffs, in balances; and that 'tis not the
RARE OLD CHUMS.
manner of the crime that counts, but the measure of
it. One does a murder, and the scale falls; it moves
no more. Another tells a lie; the scale drops ever so
slightly. Another lie, another falling of the scale,
until at last, sunken with lies, the scale stands at the
same point with that murderer's who did his one foul
deed and stopped, aghast at sin, to sit in sackcloth
all his days.
Once upon a time, there lived in a great city two
men; one of them in a palace, where peace and
plenty tended on his steps; the other in a hovel,
where children crowded it like rats, and vegetation
died and filled the air with sickening stench. Food
was so scarce that the children learned to think
themselves most clever, most to be commended, if
they found a chance to steal a bit of bread. Books,
and things beautiful were never heard of here, and
no one ever thought to tell these little wandering
wretches that life had something better, or that God
lived, and kept an eye upon the world his thought
But out of all the filth and wretchedness, in the
very heart of stench and grime, a lily rooted. It
sprang up in a night. A long and slender stalk,
graceful and fair, and pure as snow. Just a flower;
a beautiful white flower, whose only destiny it was
to blossom and be beautiful. It did no more; yet it
worked a revolution in that low, foul hole. The
children saw it blooming; breathed its perfume, and
washed the filth from their own fingers that they
A STORY OF A LILY.
might feel the lily's spotless petals and not leave a
stain. And soon the place about the flower grew
clean and sweet, because of it. Men gentler, women
cleaner, nobler, more strong; the very children, too,
said, 'Let us be clean like the lily bloom.'
"And all the world grew better for that little,
helpless plant, that still could keep its own sweet
innocence among so much of filth and crime.
And in the rich man's palace a scarlet poppy
blossomed. It bloomed high up in an oriel window,
shaded from the street, where only the rich man's
friends might enter and enjoy the scarlet loveliness. It
scarcely deigned to nod its head where the weary poor
were passing; and it shivered if a breath of passing
air but touched its fluttering petals. It had no per-
fume, and the knowledge of earth's evil and its need
did not come near the guarded roots to tone and
strengthen. Its bosom never opened to sweet sym-
pathy. It blossomed for the rich man in his palace,
and died there, and was forgotten.
"But one day the Master, passing through the
world, his garden, spied the poor man's lily, blossom-
ing in the mire. He smelt its perfume; saw the
matchless whiteness of its leaves, and heard the
thanks of starving multitudes giving praise to him
because the lily had been let to bloom, and brighten
earth awhile. And it pleased him. He smiled upon
that poor, pale flower, and, stooping, plucked it.
"-I'll wear it in my bosom,' said he, kindly. It
had so little chance, its sphere was small; yet it did
RARE OLD CHUMS.
much work for me. The poppy in the palace window
had the world beneath it thirsty for its smile; yet this
poor lily in the mire has taught far nobler lessons, in
that from its lowliness it lifted its own face always to
"And so it is with women. Their sphere is limited,
but the perfume of their quiet purity outrivals all the
"One needn't mount into a pulpit to catch the
world's ear; be sure it always listens at the door of
pain; if one but cared to speak there."
The girl was silent. A fish flashed by in the
shimmering water, and the blue smoke from the fire
rose upward, to mingle with the river mists.
Suddenly the reel sang out a warning; both jumped;
the girl almost tumbling down the bluff into the river;
the old man, spry as twenty, seized the rod and began
straightway to wind the line in. And neither spoke,
- even the dog looked strangely serious,- until the
speckled beauty, dangling from the hook, lay on the
bank. Then the girl remembered:
"Oh," said she, wherever has the coffee gone ?"
Down the river -sailing on, or drifting with the
ripples, gaily down to take a ride upon the Tennessee
- she saw the tin pot, bobbing like a cork.
I told you," said she, to remind me."
"But I was to tell a story," said the old man;
" how could I do it all ?"
"Well," said the cook, not quite disconsolate.
" We saved the fish. And it's worth, a coffee-pot to
N -. .
"SUDDENLY THE REEL RANG OUT A WARNING.'
A STORY OF A LILY. 59
see you dance down there and answer the reel's
She leaned an arm against his shoulder, and both
stood silent for a moment, listening to the water
ripples againstt the rocks; the wind stirred the
branches overhead, where the trees looked down into
the water. He was thinking of the future, and won-
dering vaguely what its mysteries might yet reveal to
her. But she was thinking of the lily bloom:
"' One doesn't need to mount into a pulpit,'" ran
her thought, "' in order to catch the world's ear, At
the door of pain '"
And in fancy she could see the hosts of earth's dis-
consolates waiting there for any word of comfort one
A PILGRIM BIRD.
PEACEFUL and fair are the meadows, and peace-
ful the mountains beyond them. Peaceful the
Elk, the glad Blue River, singing its way to the seas.
The sun slants the long golden beams across the
wheat, the barley, and the young clover; or, it may
be, the ripe, short stubble, through which the winds
love to linger, lisping a death song to summer. Fair
are the meadows, serene are the skies and the moun-
tains, bending above the familiar ways, along which
the maiden and the old man loved to linger in affec-
tionate companionship, and, as it were, clasping the
hands of young Future and hoary Past in a grasp
which nothing, not all the after-mysteries of life, the
wonderings of sorrow, or the rejoicings of hope could
serve to unloose. What visions, what weird, ecstatic
glimpses were vouchsafed to them! the girl with eye
upon the Untried, and the old man sighting the shores
of the sweet All-gone with the eye of memory. What
visions! what blessed, blessed visions! Who of us
can say which is fairer, the visions of hope or of mem-
ory ? One makes possible all things, the other makes
all things real.
A PILGRIM BIRD.
One day, while the old chum sat dreaming on the
bank, while the Blue River gurgled and sang at his
feet, and the little maid twisted a collar of mountain
laurel for the dog's neck, a wagon came down the
slope beyond the river. The wagoner sat, sleeveless
and shoeless, on the tall seat, cracking his whip over
the broad backs of the horses, a threat in every move-
ment of the long, slender thong. The team crossed
the bridge, and straightway found another hill to
There! said the little maid. "I wonder do we
come down hills only to go up again."
The old man looked up, nodded, took the hint, and
began to talk.
Yes," said he, I think we do; or, rather, we go
up hills, only to come down again. A moment's rest
at the top, a vision, a glimpse of beautiful distances,
purple and serene, a moment's uplifting of the soul,
then down we go into the valley of sorrow again.
But then, it has its other side, too: we go down into
the mists and darkness of the valley, to grope among
the glooms awhile, before we begin again to ascend
into the heights. Up and down, down and up. Life
would be unbearable otherwise; else humanity would
grow so selfishly narrow it would never care to lift its
Well," said the small chum, that's good, consid-
ering how small the matter you had to go upon. Now
tell me something funny. I think I must be getting
old, because I like to be amused."
RARE OLD CHUMS.
Not as old as an old negro I once knew," said the
old chum, and the little maid snuggled closer. Be-
cause," she told herself, "something good is coming;
I know it is."
It was in Old Virginia," said the fisherman. "I
was crossing James River one morning in November.
It was raining, and I had been riding for hours. An
old negro, a fisherman, perhaps, had built a fire along
the river bank, and I left my horse with the ferryman
while I dried myself out at the negro's fire.
He was so old, and, withal, so chirp and cheery,
that, contrasting his manner and his appearance, I
was moved to ask his age.
"' How old are you, Uncle?' said I.
"' Old ? Who, me ?' said he.
"'Yes, you; how old are you?'
"'Lord, boss,' said he, 'don't ax me. I dunno,
sah. But when I was a young man dis here Jeenis
River wuz jest a little branch.' I was thinking
about that man when the wagon came down the
hill. I saw him baptised; he was an old man then.
The preacher led him out into the water. He went
reluctantly, very, very reluctantly. Some they were
Baptists mostly -thought it was because he was
Methodist, and this was not strictly a Methodist
mode of baptising. The parson, too, noticed that
the old sinner pulled back, but it only made the good
man more determined to drag him onward into the
deeper current. But the farther they went the harder
the old negro pulled, until finally the strain became
A PILGRIM BIRD.
too much for him, and pointing to a long, glistening,
bare sycamore limb, that reached its naked branches
out before them, in their very track indeed, he.
"' D-d-o-n-n'-t y-you s-s-see the d-d-d-amn
"The congregation on the bank followed the
direction of the pointing finger and saw a long,
brown moccasin sunning itself on the white limb
of the old tree.
But the parson never once turned his face or
lifted his eyes; he simply took the old sinner by
the scruff of the neck and soused him, face forward,
in the river. He came up shouting; negroes always
come up shouting; but as they came up, parson and
convert, out of the stream, a Baptist brother took the
Methodist to task for dipping' the penitent face
"'You should have dropped him backwards,' said
"' No, sir,' replied the Methodist; 'he was bent on
going to heaven by water, so I made up my mind
he should at least go face forward. So if he goes
wrong, I call you all to witness that I started him
And thinking about the old-time baptising set me
thinking about life, and its responsibilities. And I
found myself thinking what a great, great thing is it
to have 'the right start.' And how much easier it is
to start a child 'face forward,' always 'face forward,'
RARE OLD CHUMS.
than it is to turn it about after it has started upon
a different road. I don't believe a child ever yet
strayed out of the good way that its parents were not
to blame for it."
"Oh," said the small chum, "you believe that?
You don't allow for the accident of bad associa-
tions ? You wouldn't excuse circumstance ?"
"Nothing; nothing but the ill 'circumstance'
that robs a little one of those parents, especially
the mother. As to accidents, there are none. And
away back, at the start,' the first baptism into
understanding, is the time to prepare the young
child for the journey he is setting out upon. Face
forward! into danger, to darkness, to temptation, to
want, to death itself if need be, but always face
forward and with eyes open. It is a grand thing
to make something beautiful of the life God has
given us; it is a grander to reach the great end
over great difficulties. And there is another thought
that came to me while I have waited for the singing
of the reel; it is this, and you may take it with
you, -against the time when you will tread these
ways without me."
Stop! said the little chum. "I, too, learned a
sermon from the team that crossed over a moment
ago. It was this: to not cross the bridge until I
come to it."
"It can't be far ahead -"
"Don't mention it even," cried the little maid,
springing to her feet, and a mist before her eyes.
A PILGRIM BIRD.
" Don't mention it, because when you do, I seem -
to hear the timbers crack."
There, there, there, let it go," said the fisherman.
"I don't believe there is a trout left in Elk River.
Where are you going?"
"To my island," said the little maid, who had
gathered up her books, and, after tossing them into
the skiff under the bluff, began to loose the chain that
The old fisherman said nothing, though he smiled
a little too, for he knew just as well what she would
do as though he had peeped down into her heart and
read its every feeling.
He was not surprised, and the smile deepened, when
a moment later she was at his side again.
What was it," she asked, that you said I might
take with me against that time ?"
Why this," said the fisherman, right glad she had
come back for it. No matter what drawbacks, what
dangers, what disadvantages one may labour under, -
whether it be an evil heritage of birth; or whether a
neglected childhood, or one pampered into a trifling
maturity. Whether false friends or open foes beset;
slanders, cheats, liars, murderers; no matter what may
fall upon one in the life-walk, only one's self can
destroy one at last. Take it with you, to steer by."
She went down softly to the waiting boat; noise-
lessly undid the chain, and dropped it into the
How still the world had grown; solemn as those
RARE OLD CHUMS.
last solemn words he had given her "to steer by."
She lifted the oars, dropped them into the blue
water, and looked up to see the fisherman busy,
pulling in his line, and happy.
When the boat came back the sun had sailed so far
beyond them that the shadow of the big bluffs lay
half way the river's breast, and the stream was dark
with the creeping twilight.
She climbed the bluff slowly; so slowly that his
quick heart caught the sigh in the loitering steps
before he saw it in her face.
You're back ?" he said. What have you done all
these hours? Seven trout are on my string; what
have you on yours ? Speak up, we must be travelling."
"Nothing," said she; "nothing; I have only been
down there on the island,' listening to a bird sing."
"A lovely, lonesome little bird. Not another bird
in the forest answered its note. Yet, the song was
so beautiful, so beautiful! and nobody heard a note
And it reminded you of yourself ?" said he.
"Myself? My! I wish it had. Why, whoever
heard of me singing?"
"Well," said the fisherman, he knew her so well,
"what have you made of it ? Out with it now."
Why," said she, it was so sad, so beautiful, that
brave bird singing its very best in the heart of the
empty forest, that it did remind me, I will admit, of
some lives that we hear of. Hear of, for we see so
A PILGRIM BIRD.
little of them in our wilderness. And while the bird
sang, those brave, lonesome lives seemed to group
themselves out before me, and, somehow, I wanted to
speak for them to the multitude, you understand, and
I did it."
She stood before him, with her hands folded over
the wooden handle of his minnow bucket, which she
had lifted, ready to start upon the homeward tramp
as soon as he should wind his lines, and lock his
You spoke ?" said he. "What have you said,
little wild bird?"
For the lonely lives," said she, "the brave, lonely,
unheard singers, I have this to say to the multitude."
She lifted her eyes to the hills; the bluffs beyond
the river, crowned with cedar, and heavy with the
night gloom; and the deeper glooms beyond, where
the denser forest crowned the loftier heights, wrapped
now in the mystery of fancy. And with her gaze
following that long, purple chain she delivered her
message, her word, for the unheard singers:
A PILGRIM BIRD.
God opened the windows of heaven,
And sent out a beautiful bird;
A sigh and a gleam, like the joy in a dream,
It leaped into life at his word.
God fashioned its pinions and plumage,
He painted its beautiful wing;
He placed in its throat a glorious note,
And said, Go forth, and sing."
RARE OLD CHUMS.
Not for the ears that listen; "
Not ," for the shouts that ring;"
Not for men's praise of thy glorious lays,"
But merely, oh, bird, ," Go, sing."
Did it doubt? Did it pine, and falter ?
Did it furl its beautiful wing?
Because nobody heard, did that wonderful bird
Lose heart, and refuse to sing?
Nay, over the wide world speeding,
Far over the mountain's crest,
Away and away, to the ends of the day,
To sing in God's wilderness.
And over the lone world watching,
Where never a step is stirred,
In the midnight's flow, God's ear bends low,
For the song of his pilgrim bird.
The reels glistened in the gloom alongside the
yellow cane rods; the Elk sang low, a good-night
song to the day; the moon rose over the hills, and
the pale light, falling upon the old man's face, re-
vealed the tears there.
Was he wondering if the small singer would be
heard? Would her message ever reach "the mul-
Come," said she; "these fish will feel a deal
more friendly in the frying-pan.'
That night, when they two sat under the cabin
porch, watching the moonbeams through the gaps
the wind had made in the crisping vines, the little
chum snuggled close to the old chum's shoulder, and
A PILGRIM BIRD. 69
with one small hand clasped in his furrowed brown
"Do you know I think this must be a very small
world after all ? Because," she went on, giving her
reason for so thinking, before he could ask for it,
" because just two people can fill it."
And, on the other hand," said the old chum, it
is a sadly large world to be all alone in ; sadly
A SERMON ON A MOUNTAIN.
WE do not make our fates, though sometimes it
is given us to do a deed that helps to shape
our destinies; sometimes to speak a word that helps
to shape the destiny of others.
The old chum sat under the low porch by the
cabin door, pipe in hand, the fishing tackle over-
head on the pegs his hands had fashioned for it, the
small chum at his feet, the Silverstray at hers.
For the hound had "come to stay." Whoever
may have been his former friends was nothing to him
now. He had found these other straylings from the
great world where dogs and other unfortunates were
ordered to move on." And he was quite content to
follow at an old man's heels, to lick the hand of a
child that flung him a bone, and a soft word with it.
It was sunset time, and the brow of the mountain
was flooded with the crimson glory of the hour.
Among the laurel brakes along the bluff, the soft
soughing of the wind was heard, mingled with the
murmur of the river among the gray rocks. Supper
was over; for the fishermen (the girl had been fishing,
too) had returned to the cabin hungry enough.
A SERMON ON A MOUNTAIN.
SThe small chum dropped her little round fat chin
into her palm, and said:
We might have a story, don't you think ? It's a
good time for talk."
"Then, talk," said the chum. You always do."
"No, I want a story," she insisted, pulling the
With a moral ?"
"Oh, I don't mind. Only," she insisted, "don't
point the moral. That sort of story somehow always
makes me think of the minnows we bait with. We
know there's a hook behind them. Don't bait -for
me. I'm up to all your tricks, and I'll not bite."
The old chum chuckled, and placed the pipe
beside him on the floor, the stem resting against his
"You are getting saucy," said he, "with your
"No, just wise," said she. "It's all association, I
assure you, too wise to be caught with minnows. Go
on with your story."
She crept a trifle closer, her hand in easy reach of
his knee; his hands were folded; his eyes fixed upon
the crimson-flooded heights.
I was thinking," said he, of that mountain. I
have seen it all afire sometimes, like the bush where
Moses met his God. And I have seen it in the
clouds, like Sinai."
The girl was hushed; her mood changed, banter
silenced at the words he spoke.
RARE OLD CHUMS.
She knew how that close communion that he held
with nature, the constant dreaming of the changing
witchery, the silent teachings of the mountain had
awakened in his heart a feeling of nearness to Him
who made his dwelling in the mount, and rested in
the clouds that veiled its face.
I was thinking," said the old man, of the moun-
tain, and of a boy I once knew, back in the old days
of my own far-away youth-time. For I have noticed
that as we grow older, and farther away from the
youth-time, it ever draws nearer and nearer to us,
until the things of half a century ago stand to us
more distinctly than the things of a half a year
This boy I speak of was once upon a time told
to write a composition with Flowers' for his subject,
and all he ever wrote was this: There are many
kinds of flowers,' which no one could deny, because
it was the truth. Truth, however trite, is past all
contradiction. But the boy wept, and could not
for a long time indeed, not until he had
become a man, and chanced one day to stumble
on that first old composition, in a garret, in an
old, old chest of mouldy papers- understand why
the teacher, and the whole school with him, had
laughed at that first composition. But stumbling on
it thus he understood at last, and laughed, too, as
long and heartily as they had done, enjoying for the
first time the joke that had then been a sorrow;
for he had become a man now, and had put away
A SERMON ON A MOUNTAIN.
childish griefs and worries; but, as he tucked the
yellowing paper out of sight again, he said:
"'How the mountains of yesterday become the
mole-hills of to-day.' "
The old man paused to watch a changing light
upon the laurel leaves along the steep, then went on
with his story.
"Our childish sorrows are but the smile-provokers
of our riper years; our mountains of grief but the
mole-hills of maturer age. Yet, I'm sure they work
their purpose; those petty, childish troubles form their
little part, take their proper place in the great mosaic
of our destiny. I had the truth brought plainly to me
once. Near my father's home in Old Virginia, that
was my first home, I call to mind a mountain, high
and beautiful, capped with green, and towering above
the town nestled at its base.
"Factories dotted the narrow valley strip, through
which a stream flowed bravely, straight from my
mountain's side. At night the moon would seem
to balance her silver bow upon its brow; and I have
seen the clouds come down to rest upon and veil it in
a sombre pall. To me it was the grandest peak, the
noblest of God's handiwork. I used to wonder, some-
times, if it might not reach his heaven, and fancy that
the angels rested there at evening, and helped to light
"Full half my childhood it seems to me--I
spent, a barefoot boy, knee deep in the stream that
sang against the mountain's base, watching the
RARE OLD CHUMS.
changing, changeful wonders of it. I remember
how a brown path, straight and endless to my fancy,
cut from base to summit, reminding me of the broad
brown belt that girdled the great wheels of the
Sometimes when the clouds would rest so black
as to blot the brown path from my sight, I used to
"'Now it's Sinai, and Moses will go up to talk
with God.' And the blacker was the cloud the
stronger was my fancy that he was in it; for I
had heard my father read how he had said, 'I will
dwell in the thick darkness.'
And believing it with all my heart, I used to go
out, boy as I was, to hold communion with him at the
foot of the mountain; or, with myself, it might have
been, I cannot say; but I know I was a different
boy when those communings ended.
"One day my mother came into her room, lay
down upon her bed, and beckoned me to come to
her. I remember that she tried to speak; to lay one
hand upon my head, while the other pointed upward
towards the mountain top.
But before the hand could reach me she was dead.
Her lips had breathed one word, -' My -' before
God sealed them. She had tried to say 'my boy;'
and that uplifted, silent finger was pointing me the
road to heaven.
"I remember I was glad the hand had pointed
upward, and I said:
A SERMON ON A MOUNTAIN.
"'My mother has gone up into the mount with
My father's grief was such it drove us to a differ-
ent scene, as grief too heavy for the old associations
will. He sold his home, and all our small posses-
sions, burnt his bridges, and his memories, as far as
might be, and, with my hand in his, started upon a
long, long wandering in a land of strangers.
As we passed the little gate he whispered, sadly:
'I feel like Adam when he turned his back on Eden:
the world before me where to choose.'
As for me, tearful and awed, I glanced upward
at the beautiful inspiration of my childhood, and the
clouds were over it, from base to summit, such as
I had not seen them, ever. I seized my father's arm.
"' Look!' I cried; 'the clouds are on the moun-
tain! Let us go that way; God is in the cloud!'
My father stooped, and took me in his arms, and,
sobbing, kissed my brow. And so we chose our way.
We journeyed on, over the mount and through the
Since then I've learned God does dwell in the
darkness; and every cloud that veils the hills of hope
but hides his beaming face.
I learned another lesson from my mountain; for
one may see the 'common bush afire with God' if
only one have eyes to see.
"The years went by, and manhood came. My
father went to join my mother, and with his passing
came to me a wish to see again the home from which
RABE OLD CHUMS.
our grief had chased us; a yearning for the same
communion with that nature that my youth had
loved. I wanted to get back again to that old self,
the boy whose heart had room for no heavier weight
than childish fancies.
"A man should know better, -the dreams of
boyhood should not be unearthed,-under the cynic
breath of manhood they turn to ashes. And so
mine turned. I reasoned with myself, 'tis true; but
the yearning in my heart would not be hushed. I
thirsted for the old scenes as once King David thirsted
for the water from the well in old Jerusalem. -My
soul was sick, my heart was broken with its loneli-
ness. I said to my restless spirit, 'If I can see the
old scene, feel again that sweet old nearness to my
Maker the barefoot boy felt, I can take the burden to
my back again.'
So I set out on my idle journeyings after the
delusions of my childhood.
But when I reached the place the mountain was
not there. There was the stream where I had waded;
but how small and narrow, and half choked with the
factories' filth. For the factories were there, many
more than I remembered, and the tall, black, smoke-
belching chimney stacks; and from the town was
stretched a long and dusty street, that ran straight
and broad to the top of a hill, dotted with the factory
shacks, and shorn of all that nature gave it.
"But my beautiful mountain, where God and
mother met, was gone.
A SERIRMOI9 OX A .31UJ5TA11V.
Man as I was, I could not yet accept the heartless
overthrow of youth-time fancies. I hailed a work-
man going down to take his place among the factory
folk; he, alone, seemed a part of the old dream; and
he, I knew, was no delusion.
"' Sir,' I said, again the boy I had been, I ask
your pardon, but wasn't there a mountain over there,
on the further side the stream ?'
"The fellow's ruddy face but broadened in a grin:
"'Now sure,' said he, 'we're just a-growing one.
See what a start we've got.'
"With that he pointed to the hill of shacks, and
bidding me come again a thousand years from that,
passed on, chuckling, to his work.
At last I stumbled on an old friend of my father's,
and talked with 'him about this thing. An old man,
one of those patriarchs whose inner sight has bright-
ened for the passing nigh at hand. Said he:
"'The mountains of our youthful fancy are ever
mole-hills to our strong man's vision. It is not the
mountain that has worn away, my son. It is the
going of your boyish fancy, that made a mountain of
that common hill you saw. But don't despise,' said
he, 'the hill, God had his use for it. Its purpose
was to fire your boyish soul with lofty aspirations.
That purpose worked, its mission to your life fulfilled,
you were done with it. And so it goes to give a hab-
itation to the factory folk; God's later use for it.'
"I never grieved for it again; scarce thought of
it until we came here to this quiet spot, and now it
RBAI? OLD CHUt.MS.
seems my mountain has come back to me, and in the
clouds that veil its face, I love to think God waits, as
he waited for his servant in the darkness of old
That night, while the old chum slept under the
shadow of the sentinel mountain, the girl lay sobbing
on her pillow. She had heard again the gaunt wolf's
howlings. There were only fish in the larder, and a
dust of meal. How to keep the truth from him was
her great care. She lay awake, pondering, trying to
solve the riddle of a crust of bread for two.
She got up at last and tiptoed to his room. A
sight of the peaceful old face, asleep upon the pillow,
could always calm and comfort her. It calmed her
now; so sweet, so gentle, so full of Christ it lay there
in the moonlight, while the gaunt wolf threatened.
She stooped and left a kiss upon the quiet brow, then
stole back, softly, to her bed. Once only she stopped,
lifted the muslin drapery from the window, and looked
out upon the mountain. Lo it was not visible,-
the clouds lay on it heavily.
She dropped the curtain, and crept back to bed,
whispering the while:
God is in the cloud," and with the whisper fell
asleep, knowing that all was well.
SINK OR SWIM.
T HEY were fishing one day, the old chum and
the girl. Another spring had come, another
winter passed. The younger chum was growing, so
fast indeed that, but for the tiny body of her, one
might almost cease to call her child. But the tiny
frame housed a strong young spirit, and a healthy
But as the young girl grew, waxed strong and self-
reliant, the old man failed. The shoulders drooped,
the hand that reeled the line in trembled some.
Sometimes she had to hook his minnow for him.
They still walked to the river, -it was his one chief
pleasure, but the old feet lagged. The girl refused
to see it. Adversity and the loneliness of life had
taught her strange, strong lessons; lessons too hard
for a young heart, indeed. So, if sometimes the
lagging step would force itself upon her notice, she
would close eyes and heart, and say in the Silver-
"I shall not cross that bridge until my foot is on
it." .Which was, perhaps, just as well. But she
knew that the bridge lay ahead.
So one day, when they were journeying through
RABE OLD CHUMS.
the woods, with rod and bait, the old man stopped.
Before them lay a gulch, deep but narrow. They
could easily leap it; yet they noticed how the gulch
had widened. Almost every day they crossed they
noticed the chasm growing. After awhile a tiny
stream began to trickle along the pebbly bottom.
One day the old man stopped.
I should like to bridge this chasm," said he. It
will be beyond all crossing by and by."
The girl was silent for a moment, -a great sad-
ness was in her soul. Before that gulch could widen
past their crossing those weary old feet would have
finished all their journeyings.
Yes," the old man continued, gazing meanwhile
down into the chasm, "I should like to bridge it."
Then the girl, child no longer, spoke: "Father,"
said she, "we can always cross it, as long as you
Ay," said he, "I know. But after me? You
will travel the road when I am gone."
She remembered that saying all day,-how he
would have built the bridge for her. It meant much,
spoke many things, beautiful and sad, to her young
heart. All day the old man's words jingled in her
mind, making melody. They fitted themselves to the
rippling of the river, hurrying down to the Tennessee,
and to the wind soughing among the dusky cedars.
And, at last, they fitted themselves into rhyme, and
she lay back among the gray rocks and laurel tangles
and sung them, while the old fisherman set his rods
JOURNEYING THROUGH THE WOODS WITH ROD AND BAIT.
SINK OR SWIM.
and waited for the humming of his reels, farther down
the bluff. She called the song she made, Building
the Bridge;" but, as she sang, she thought how each
must name it for himself, and fit it into the emptiness
of his own life; bridge the chasms, the gulches, the
deadly sinks for those who were following in their
steps. And, as she sang, the music floated upward,
and startled the birds in their nests in the grapevine
trees; it reached no other ear; yet the song lived.
BUILDING THE BRIDGE.
An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.
Old man," said a fellow pilgrim, near,
You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide, -
Why build you the bridge at the eventide ?"
The builder lifted his old gray head:
Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
There followeth after me to-day
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."
PARt oLb cHfuMS.
A tiny blue smoke curled up from the gray rocks,
to whisper to the river mists how the girl was prepar-
ing the noon lunch. The coffee, into which she had
broken a new-laid egg, bubbled and boiled, and gave
out that rich, reddish foam, which every coffee-lover
understands means good; real, genuinely good.
The coffee-maker called to the fisherman:
I am coming down there, and meet you on the
level. Don't try to climb to me; the heights make
She picked up the lunch-basket and the coffee-pot,
and was soon spreading the feast on the little level
stretch, where the fisherman had set his rods. And
all the time she worked, she talked,-that was one
of this girl's great failings, indeed,- she would talk,
so the old man said.
The other day," she was saying, as she unwrapped
a jam pot, a man asked me if I didn't know that it
was wrong to catch fish."
"Yes," said the old man, "and what did you
"I didn't answer; I asked questions, too. I asked
him if he remembered how Jesus Christ once paid his
poll tax ?"
The fisherman dropped the biscuit he was nibbling,
and broke into a laugh so loud and so long, the girl
declared she "didn't see any occasion for so much
mirth;" then he drew himself up with a jerk, and
gave his attention to the coffee, bubbling around the
lid of the coffee-pot.
SINK O0? SWIM.
"It looks good," said he.
"It is good," she declared. "Whenever you see
coffee take that terra cotta colour, you may just say to
yourself, It is good.' It is the egg gives it the colour.
Now this coffee is fit for a king; the terra cotta-"
The Silverstray made a dash for a rabbit, skulk-
ing under a brush heap above the bank, just at the
moment the coffee-maker lifted the pot above the
fisherman's tin cup.
There was a flash of his silver sides, a hasty retreat
on the part of the rabbit, followed by a general stam-
pede that sent the coffee-pot one way, the mistress
another, and the rich, reddish liquid in a stream
down the bank, as precise and particular as though
it had been suddenly elected tributary to the Elk,
and had fully determined upon accomplishing its
The small cook stood aghast, there are moments
in life when words are words. This was one of those
The fisherman didn't laugh; he was one of those
rare souls who know when to laugh. All he did was
to follow with his eye the reddish liquid on its route to
the river, and to say, quite soberly:
"Yes," snapped the girl, "terra got it all; there
isn't another dust in the box. I've half a mind to
jump in the river."
"Better not," laughed the fisherman; "you can't
RARE OLD CHUMS.
She paused on her way down to the water with the
empty coffee-pot in her hand, and, looking at the blue
current steadily, said:
I don't know about that. I have always had an
idea that if I were tossed out into the water, and told
to sink or swim, that I should swim. I hate water
like a mad dog, but I don't believe I should sink.
Anyhow, I am going for a row; you may finish the
lunch. Come, Silverstray."
The hound came back from his fruitless race with
the rabbit, and watched, with long, graceful head
tipped one side, while his small mistress dragged a
skiff from a laurel jungle under the bluff, and stepped
"Look sharp, now," said the fisherman. "I'm not
so sure that skiff will do to trust. Will you fetch the
But the dog refused to take shipping until the canoe
had fairly put out, struck the deeper current, and was
away, the girl standing erect, her short hair curled
like a boy's about her head, arms bare, shoulders erect.
Then it was the Silverstray repented himself, and set
out swimming, beating the water with his long, strong
forelegs, trying to overtake the skiff.
When at length he planted those same long feet
upon the side of the light craft, the thing went
rocking like a cradle upon the deep, still water. She
lifted the oars to beat him back, while the water
slopped and slushed over the boat's side with
SINK OR SWIM.
When, realising at last that no passengers were to
be taken aboard midstream, the Silverstray dropped
back into the current and contented himself with
following alongside the skiff, in easy reach of the
rower's hand, had she cared to touch the wet, gray
head of him.
But the hand was not extended to touch the dog;
she was quite satisfied to watch the play of those bold,
strong legs compelling the current to bear the body
up. It was her first lesson in swimming, and it was
well she gave good heed to it. It was a long swim
and a hard one, but down stream, and the Silverstray
was strong and persistent. Perhaps he fancied the
lunch-basket was on board; perhaps it was only
ignorant instinct prompted the pursuit. Perhaps it
was pure love for the adopted young mistress. Who
shall say? since there are dogs and dogs, just as there
are men and men, motives and motives, and a dog
with only a brutish instinct is far, far better than a
man with a mean motive.
The boat landed on a little island of willows, where
there was a snug nook and a book hidden away in the
hollow hole of a great tree that had been washed
down by the flood during a freshet, years before.
The Silverstray shook himself free of the water,
stretched himself out upon a bit of sunny, sandy level
and went to sleep.
The girl drew out her book, stretched herself upon
the green moss, and, with the willows laced in a
tangle over her head, and the plaintive pleading of
HARE OLD CHUMS.
the water sounding in her ears,straightway forgot the
world about her and was happy.
The sun had slanted far to the westward when the
Silverstray sprang up, stretched his long forelegs and
barked, strutting about the little island in a restless
way that plainly said it was time to be going.
The girl closed her book with a half sigh, tucked it
back into the hollow of the tree, and unfastened the
Dogs, as well as men, sometimes profit by experi-
ence. When the small skiff was ready to set out for
camp, the Silverstray leaped in so eagerly, stretched
.himself so submissively down in the bottom of the
vessel, and was altogether so demure and well be-
haved that not once did it enter into the mind of the
mistress to suspect mischief. Not once did she see
anything but a gentle beauty in the slender, topaz
eyes fixed on the round, red orb of the sun, growing
rounder and redder with every sweep of the oars in
the dull, darkening current of the river.
She was pulling against the stream; the brown
arms, bared to the shoulder, bent back and forth
strong and sure, like bars, in the half twilight. The
river breeze sprung up and fanned her brow, filled
her nostrils, her throat. All the strong young life of
her awakened to the pure, clean gladness of nature.
It was so good, so good, so good to live; just to live
in God's great sounding wilderness. She felt the
goodness, the sweet gladness of being, in every throb of
her unsullied soul, just spreading its wings to meet the
SINK OR WIM.
morning of young womanhood. Life, the future, was
a mystery to her; a mystery she had not dared as yet
to look upon. For, see it as she would, in any light
she might, she knew that stretched before her lay
a lonely path, through shadows, over rough ways.
Yet, as the light boat passed on, through the shad-
ows of the forest-sheltered river, while the grimmer
shadows of life lurked in the distance, was born to her
a faith, fresh and fair as the nature that had moth-
ered it, strong as the hills towering above the stream,
that somehow, sometime, all would be well. The
great Being who fashioned all and watched it, from
the mighty mountain to the tiniest bluet blooming its
little day out under the gray bluff's gloom, would not
forget one of his creatures, no, not one. The gaunt
wolf might howl; the bluet would bloom on, under
the eye of its Creator.
The skiff passed beyond the shallows, into the stiller
deeps. Over her shoulder the rower saw the old fish-
erman on the bank, reeling in his lines. The day was
far spent, truly, when it was unnecessary to remind
him that it was time to quit. The rower laughed, and
gave the oars a long, bold sweep that shot the boat
up stream with a jerk. The Silverstray sniffed, and
lifted his long nose landward.
No more rabbits, sir," said the mistress. Then,
when but half a hundred yards distant from the fish-
erman, she turned the boat about to make a nearer
landing. There was a low, sloping clearing that
looked tempting. She wondered why no one had
RARE OLD CHUMS.
ever found it. Then, at the very moment when
about to turn into her new-found landing-place, the
boat grated heavily, struck something sharply under-
neath the shadow-girded water, and, with a lurch,
went spinning back midstream again.
She understood that it had struck among the
branches of a submerged tree; but the Silverstray
was on his feet, growling, tearing with his long paws
at the skiff's side until she beat him off.
Down, sir, will you?" she shouted, as the bounc-
ing boat took in gallons of water. "Lie down, sir!
There was a splash, a flash of his gray coat, as the
dog leaped out into the river. There was a con-
sciousness of the boat propelled far out against the
further bank; an old man throwing off his coat in
haste; and then the empty boat went on, drifted with
the current, and the rower felt the cold, clear moun-
tain current close about her throat.
Many things, many, many things indeed, floated
before her mind. The old apple-tree at home, and
the purplish cabbage plants; the tall asparagus, and
the bees in the heart of the scarlet woodbine. Her
brother and her mother floating out upon the great
sea of silence. But, above all, better than all, dearer
and clearer than all, she remembered the old man on
the river bank, as she had seen him, with his line
half reeled, tearing at his coat, ready to plunge in to
her rescue. And her one thought was,--" He must
not; he is too old, too feeble." Then the gurgling
SINK OR SWIM.
flood touched her brown throat again, and she re-
membered how the dog had beat the water back with
his strong forepaws. Involuntarily she put out her
hands, her arms, stroke upon stroke, now long, now
swift, now faster, and now the girl was swimming.
Two minutes from the time the skiff had capsized she
was swimming. It had come natural somehow: be-
cause she had not grown panicky, perhaps. She was
swimming, and calling to the old chum on the bank:
"Don't d-o-o-o it! I am coming."
Looking down the stream he saw that it was true,
and said, Thank God," most fervently.
She came up, laughing; and reaching-for the hand
he held out, said:
"'Twas sink or swim,' and so I swam."
Come! said he. "You're dripping like a mer-
maid. Straight home before you get your death of
She knew there was a sermon in the exploit. That
night, when the mists lay on the mountain, and the
Silverstray was dozing while the old chum puffed his
pipe beside the cabin door, she sat at his feet, silent,
but glad, waiting for the sermon. After a long pause,
so long indeed the crickets in the clover went to
sleep, the old chum said, softly, slowly, earnestly, as
though he had been thinking upon it for a long, long
It is often so: men are tossed into the sea of life,
hurled overboard. It's sink or swim. Those who
will may swim; and they who will not must go down.
92 RARE OLD CHUMS.
I doubt if any sink who are worth the lowering of a
Again, when he had had his smoke out, he placed
his dear old hand upon her head, and said:
I am glad you swam. Always make the effort,
no matter how deep or dark the water. You're
stronger for the effort. And if one goes down in the
stream, it is better to drown feeling that one has
tried, at all events. Remember that; it is worth a
THE SHADOW ON THE HOUSE.
A SHADOW lay upon the house. A sombre thing
that hovered ever near and nearer, ever darker
and more hard to face. For let it fall in any guise,
at any hour it may, it never finds us ready for its
coming; that old, old shadow, death.
The glad, good days upon the river's side were
ended, the tramps through summer woods, the long,
uninterrupted days of pleasant comradeship, the even-
ings spent in blessed interchange of thought, lessons
learned, chasms bridged by gentle counsel and wise
warnings, all were done with now. The loom of life
had slackened; the cloth was spun; the shuttle worn;
the weaver only waited with his foot upon the treadle,
until such time the Master's voice should bid him
The girl hung upon his every word, eager to catch
each crumb of time life left them. The scanty work
that made their scanty living was forgotten; every
thought was given to him, the old man at the
Or if she thought of earthly needs it was with a
feeling that the ravens once were fed, and ceased to
RARE OLD CHUMS.
worry. Her own strength was so small too, she
sometimes fancied there would be no need of food
after a little while. Her step faltered, her face paled
before the shadow threatening overhead, and feeling
how fast her strength was going, another terror
seized her, and her frightened cry went up to God:
"Don't let me die! Oh, Lord, don't let me die
first. He needs me. You must see he needs me,
Lord; don't let me die first. Spare me; you are
God." One day he called her to him, and while
she knelt down by his chair, her poor face trying
to wear its former saucy look, he said:
"We've been good chums; rare old chums, my
She bent her head, and kissed the idle hand resting
upon the chair's arm:
We are good chums," said she, "rare old chums,
The listless fingers closed upon her own:
"I don't know what you'll do without me," said he,
softly, most tenderly.
Oh, I'll do," she laughed, choking meanwhile with
a'sob, "I'll do."
Then she went out behind the cabin wall, and wept
on the neck of the Silverstray, and prayed for help, for
light; being careful that her sobs might not reach
the old man's ears, and so make sad indeed his going.
At night she tucked him into bed with laughter, and
gay joking; at morning helped him to his chair, and
felt as though in all God's world there was no other
THE SHADOW ON THE HOUSE.
human soul, so near and dear were they two to each
other. Once she had prayed to God to spare him still
one summer; and he had spared him two. Yet
was the parting just as hard; the need of him as
great as when a little child she leaned upon him.
Life grew sombre now; the great solemnity of that
foreshadowed loneliness swooped down upon her, and
hid God's face, and stifled all her prayers. In all his
world she saw herself stand quite alone; a weary
woman, done with hope, and love, and happiness, upon
the very threshold of her womanhood.
He felt her doubts, and longed to help her. One
day she heard him talking with a neighbour, of that
fast approaching hour when he must go.
"'This God is our God, and will be our guide,
even unto death,'" said he.
She stopped, a tumbler in her hand where she had
mixed his medicine.
"Father," she said, "how do you know these
What have you in your hand ? said he.
What is it made of ? How do you know it helps
"Because," said she, "the doctor mixed it. You
take it on his word."
And so I'll take my God," said he, "just on his
Not so with her; she had many doubts to solve,
many riddles to unwind. And, oh, what strength to
RARE OLD CHUMS.
her poor weakness was that old man, who seemed
to hover on the earthly shore for that sole, sacred
purpose, of helping her.
"I would stay with you if I could," he told her
once. "I know you need your chum."
And I would keep you if I could," said she. For
not once had she learned to say Thy will be done."
What would she do, what could she do, without
him ? She did not pray, "Open the way for me,"
but only, Spare him!"
One night he called her to him where he sat
propped in his chair, face turned to the mountain
that he loved, and to the river, rippling down the
valley; he stroked the head she leaned against his
knee; pushed the brown waves from the childish
brow, and said:
My God has spared me many days to labour in
his vineyard. But now he calls me hence. Already
I can hear the river flowing hard by the city of the
She listened silently; it was a voice from the
beyond, and not a voice from earth, nor burdened
with an earthly message.
Sometimes," the voice went on, it is given one
to do a great work in God's world. It was not given
to me; but I have fancied sometimes, since our lives,
my old life and your young one, have been so knit
together in this wilderness, since I have come to know
you well, and your soul's deep soundings, I have
fancied that to some 'tis given, child, to do great
THE SHADOW ON THE HOUSE.
works for him. Something tells me that it shall be
given to you. In the silent watches of the night it
has come to me that God has need of you, and if it
be so, he will call, and you will not mistake the
voice, for he will speak as once he spoke to Samuel.
Be sure you answer, Here am I,' and if the way be
lonely, duty hard, or dangers threaten, fear not; nor
dare to turn aside. But gird your burden to your
back and fix your eyes upon the guiding stars. And
never stop to think your feet are weary, or to fret for
those who might have walked the steeps with you.
Remember it is not every one that's called to service
in his temple."
He paused, sighed, was silent. The night wind
breathed among the shadows; the mists lay heavy on
the mountain's top, and when the watcher looked
into the old man's face, lo! he was dead.
IN THE THICK DARKNESS.
T HE cabin in the foothills stood among the
shadows. The clouds crept down to hide the
mountain's face, and the lonely little watcher turned
to face the darkness.
The gaunt wolf's fangs had gnawed her doorstep,
but the gnawing did not disturb her now. The wolf
might enter in and welcome. The empty house was
not more empty than the lonely heart wherein dwelt
only memories. Yet he had left her many lessons,
many precious precepts. He had built some bridges,
bridged many chasms for her crossing. The wilder-
ness could no more be a home for her ; yet, where to
turn, with not a hand held out to help?
The night she buried him who had been her guide
she sat in his old place and watched the mists come
down upon the mountain; and when the bold old
summit was all wrapped about with cloud, she remem-
bered the sermon on the mountain, and said, softly:
"'Moses went up into the thick darkness, where
God was.' "
That night she had a dream, and in the dream God
spoke to her.
IN THE THICK DARKNESS.
"You prayed one summer and I gave you two.
You asked that he might die before his reason failed,
and at the last he spoke your name. You prayed that
he might live until your feet could stand alone, and
yesterday you kissed his dead brow, you, a woman. I
granted every wish, answered every prayer you offered.
And still you fret because the way is lonely, and vex
me with rebellion. Is this your gratitude ? Beware:
for I am God. And yet, oh, child, I would not harm
you; would not leave you thus to walk the wilderness
alone. I love you, and have need of you. Come, my
temple doors are open. To your service."
She awoke with the morning, comforted with a
great purpose. Perhaps the purpose had really been
born in the ratty garret, or when she dreamed among
the purple collards under the apple-tree. Perhaps the
wilderness solitudes and quiet communings had only
nourished it until it reached perfection.
Back to the world from which they two had fled,
hugging to her heart the counsels he had left, she took
For," said she, "he left a message to the world.
He told me many things the sad world perishes to
hear. I think he knew I should not dare keep silence.
My sphere is limited, but a lily blossomed in a mud
heap once; and, one doesn't need to mount into a
pulpit to reach the great world's ear. At the doors
of pain -' "