DRIVEN BACK TO EDEN
E. P. ROE
IS LOVINGLY DEDICATED TO
Months since, with much doubt and diffidence, I began this simple story. I had never before written expressly for young people, and I knew that the honest little critics could not be beguiled with words which did not tell an interesting story. How far I have succeeded, the readers of this volume, and of the "St. Nicholas" magazine, wherein the tale appeared as a serial, alone can answer.
I have portrayed no actual experience, but have sought to present one which might be verified in real life. I have tried to avoid all that would be impossible or even improbable. The labors performed by the children in the story were not unknown to my own hands, in childhood, nor would they form tasks too severe for many little hands now idle in the cities.
The characters are all imaginary; the scenes, in the main, are real: and I would gladly lure other families from tenement flats into green pastures.
E. P. R.
August 10, 1885.
CHAPTER I A PROBLEM
CHAPTER II I STATE THE CASE
CHAPTER III NEW PROSPECTS
CHAPTER IV A MOMENTOUS EXPEDITION
CHAPTER V A COUNTRY CHRISTMAS IN A CITY FLAT
CHAPTER VI A BLUFF FRIEND
CHAPTER VII MR. JONES SHOWS ME THE PLACE
CHAPTER VIII TELLING ABOUT EDEN
CHAPTER IX "BREAKING CAMP"
CHAPTER X SCENES ON THE WHARF
CHAPTER XI A VOYAGE UP THE HUDSON
CHAPTER XII A MARCH EVENING IN EDEN
CHAPTER XIII RESCUED AND AT HOME
CHAPTER XIV SELF-DENIAL AND ITS REWARD
CHAPTER XV OUR SUNNY KITCHEN
CHAPTER XVI MAKING A PLACE FOR CHICKENS
CHAPTER XVII GOOD BARGAINS IN MAPLE SUGAR
CHAPTER XVIII BUTTERNUTS AND BOBSEY'S PERIL
CHAPTER XIX JOHN JONES, JUN
CHAPTER XX RASPBERRY LESSONS
CHAPTER XXI THE "VANDOO"
CHAPTER XXII EARLY APRIL GARDENING
CHAPTER XXIII A BONFIRE AND A FEAST
CHAPTER XXIV "NO BLIND DRIFTING"
CHAPTER XXV OWLS AND ANTWERPS
CHAPTER XXVI A COUNTRY SUNDAY
CHAPTER XXVII STRAWBERRY VISIONS AND "PERTATERS"
CHAPTER XXVIII CORN, COLOR, AND MUSIC
CHAPTER XXIX WE GO A-FISHING
CHAPTER XXX WEEDS AND WORKING FOR DEAR LIFE
CHAPTER XXXI NATURE SMILES AND HELPS
CHAPTER XXXII CHERRIES, BERRIES, AND BERRY-THIEVES
CHAPTER XXXIII GIVEN HIS CHOICE
CHAPTER XXXIV GIVEN A CHANCE
CHAPTER XXXV "WE SHALL ALL EARN OUR SALT"
CHAPTER XXXVI A THUNDERBOLT
CHAPTER XXXVII RALLYING FROM THE BLOW
CHAPTER XXXVIII AUGUST WORK AND PLAY
CHAPTER XXXIX A TRIP TO THE SEASHORE
CHAPTER XL A VISIT TO HOUGHTON FARM
CHAPTER XLI HOARDING FOR WINTER
CHAPTER XLII AUTUMN WORK AND SPORT
CHAPTER XLIII THANKSGIVING DAY
CHAPTER XLIV WE CAN MAKE A LIVING IN EDEN
DRIVEN BACK TO EDEN
"Where are the children?"
"They can't be far away," replied my wife, looking up from her preparations for supper. "Bobsey was here a moment ago. As soon as my back's turned he's out and away. I haven't seen Merton since he brought his books from school, and I suppose Winnie is upstairs with the Daggetts."
"I wish, my dear, you could keep the children at home more," I said, a little petulantly.
"I wish you would go and find them for me now, and to-morrow take my place—for just one day."
"Well, well," I said, with a laugh that had no mirth in it; "only one of your wishes stands much chance of being carried out. I'll find the children now if I can without the aid of the police. Mousie, do you feel stronger to-night?"
These words were spoken to a pale girl of fourteen, who appeared to be scarcely more than twelve, so diminutive was her frame.
"Yes, papa," she replied, a faint smile flitting like a ray of light across her features. She always said she was better, but never got well. Her quiet ways and tones had led to the household name of "Mousie."
As I was descending the narrow stairway I was almost overthrown by a torrent of children pouring down from the flats above. In the dim light of a gas-burner I saw that Bobsey was one of the reckless atoms. He had not heard my voice in the uproar, and before I could reach him, he with the others had burst out at the street door and gone tearing toward the nearest corner. It seemed that he had slipped away in order to take part in a race, and I found him "squaring off" at a bigger boy who had tripped him up. Without a word I carried him home, followed by the jeers and laughter of the racers, the girls making their presence known in the early December twilight by the shrillness of their voices and by manners no gentler than those of the boys.
I put down the child—he was only seven years of age—in the middle of our general living-room, and looked at him. His little coat was split out in the back; one of his stockings, already well-darned at the knees, was past remedy; his hands were black, and one was bleeding; his whole little body was throbbing with excitement, anger, and violent exercise. As I looked at him quietly the defiant expression in his eyes began to give place to tears.
"There is no use in punishing him now," said my wife. "Please leave him to me and find the others."
"I wasn't going to punish him," I said.
"What are you going to do? What makes you look at him so?"
"He's a problem I can't solve—with the given conditions."
"O Robert, you drive me half wild. If the house was on fire you'd stop to follow out some train of thought about it all. I'm tired to death. Do bring the children home. When we've put them to bed you can figure on your problem, and I can sit down."
As I went up to the Daggetts' flat I was dimly conscious of another problem. My wife was growing fretful and nervous. Our rooms would not have satisfied a Dutch housewife, but if "order is heaven's first law" a little of Paradise was in them as compared to the Daggetts' apartments. "Yes," I was told, in response to my inquiries; "Winnie is in the bed-room with Melissy."
The door was locked, and after some hesitation the girls opened it. As we were going downstairs I caught a glimpse of a newspaper in my girl's pocket. She gave it to me reluctantly, and said "Melissy" had lent it to her. I told her to help her mother prepare supper while I went to find Merton. Opening the paper under a street lamp, I found it to be a cheap, vile journal, full of flashy pictures that so often offend the eye on news-stands. With a chill of fear I thought, "Another problem." The Daggett children had had the scarlet fever a few months before. "But here's a worse infection," I reflected. "Thank heaven, Winnie is only a child, and can't understand these pictures;" and I tore the paper up and thrust it into its proper place, the gutter.
"Now," I muttered, "I've only to find Merton in mischief to make the evening's experience complete."
In mischief I did find him—a very harmful kind of mischief, it appeared to me. Merton was little over fifteen, and he and two or three other lads were smoking cigarettes which, to judge by their odor, must certainly have been made from the sweepings of the manufacturer's floor.
"Can't you find anything better than that to do after school?" I asked, severely.
"Well, sir," was the sullen reply, "I'd like to know what there is for a boy to do in this street."
During the walk home I tried to think of an answer to his implied question. What would I do if I were in Merton's place? I confess that I was puzzled. After sitting in school all day he must do something that the police would permit. There certainly seemed very little range of action for a growing boy. Should I take him out of school and put him into a shop or an office? If I did this his education would be sadly limited. Moreover he was tall and slender for his age, and upon his face there was a pallor which I dislike to see in a boy. Long hours of business would be very hard upon him, even if he could endure the strain at all. The problem which had been pressing on me for months—almost years—grew urgent.
With clouded brows we sat down to our modest little supper. Winifred, my wife, was hot and flushed from too near acquaintance with the stove, and wearied by a long day of toil in a room that would be the better for a gale of wind. Bobsey, as we called my little namesake, was absorbed—now that he was relieved from the fear of punishment—by the wish to "punch" the boy who had tripped him up. Winnie was watching me furtively, and wondering what had become of the paper, and what I thought of it. Merton was somewhat sullen, and a little ashamed of himself. I felt that my problem was to give these children something to do that would not harm them, for do SOMETHING they certainly would. They were rapidly attaining that age when the shelter of a narrow city flat would not answer, when the influence of a crowded house and of the street might be greater than any we could bring to bear upon them.
I looked around upon the little group for whom I was responsible. My will was still law to them. While my little wife had positive ways of her own, she would agree to any decided course that I resolved upon. The children were yet under entire control, so that I sat at the head of the table, commander-in-chief of the little band. We called the narrow flat we lived in "home." The idea! with the Daggetts above and the Ricketts on the floor beneath. It was not a home, and was scarcely a fit camping-ground for such a family squad as ours. Yet we had stayed on for years in this long, narrow line of rooms, reaching from a crowded street to a little back-yard full of noisy children by day, and noisier cats by night. I had often thought of moving, but had failed to find a better shelter that was within my very limited means. The neighborhood was respectable, so far as a densely populated region can be. It was not very distant from my place of business, and my work often kept me so late at the office that we could not live in the suburb. The rent was moderate for New York, and left me some money, after food and clothing were provided, for occasional little outings and pleasures, which I believe to be needed by both body and mind. While the children were little—so long as they would "stay put" in the cradle or on the floor—we did not have much trouble. Fortunately I had good health, and, as my wife said, was "handy with children." Therefore I could help her in the care of them at night, and she had kept much of her youthful bloom. Heaven had blessed us. We had met with no serious misfortunes, nor had any of our number been often prostrated by prolonged and dangerous illness. But during the last year my wife had been growing thin, and occasionally her voice had a sharpness which was new. Every month Bobsey became more hard to manage. Our living-room was to him like a cage to a wild bird, and slip away he would, to his mother's alarm; for he was almost certain to get into mischief or trouble. The effort to perform her household tasks and watch over him was more wearing than it had been to rock him through long hours at night when he was a teething baby. These details seem very homely no doubt, yet such as these largely make up our lives. Comfort or discomfort, happiness or unhappiness, springs from them. There is no crop in the country so important as that of boys and girls. How could I manage my little home-garden in a flat?
I looked thoughtfully from one to another, as with children's appetites they became absorbed in one of the chief events of the day.
"Well," said my wife, querulously, "how are you getting on with your problem?"
"Take this extra bit of steak and I'll tell you after the children are asleep," I said.
"I can't eat another mouthful," she exclaimed, pushing back her almost untasted supper. "Broiling the steak was enough for me."
"You are quite tired out, dear," I said, very gently.
Her face softened immediately at my tone and tears came into her eyes.
"I don't know what is the matter with me," she faltered. "I am so nervous some days that I feel as if I should fly to pieces. I do try to be patient, but I know I'm growing cross!"
"Oh now, mamma," spoke up warm-hearted Merton; "the idea of your being cross."
"She IS cross," Bobsey cried; "she boxed my ears this very day."
"And you deserved it," was Merton's retort. "It's a pity they are not boxed oftener."
"Yes, Robert, I did," continued my wife, sorrowfully. "Bobsey ran away four times, and vexed me beyond endurance, that is, such endurance as I have left, which doesn't seem to be very much."
"I understand, dear," I said. "You are a part of my problem, and you must help me solve it." Then I changed the subject decidedly, and soon brought sunshine to our clouded household. Children's minds are easily diverted; and my wife, whom a few sharp words would have greatly irritated, was soothed, and her curiosity awakened as to the subject of my thoughts.
I STATE THE CASE
I pondered deeply while my wife and Winnie cleared away the dishes and put Bobsey into his little crib. I felt that the time for a decided change had come, and that it should be made before the evils of our lot brought sharp and real trouble.
How should I care for my household? If I had been living on a far frontier among hostile Indians I should have known better how to protect them. I could build a house of heavy logs and keep my wife and children always near me while at work. But it seemed to me that Melissa Daggett and her kin with their flashy papers, and the influence of the street for Merton and Bobsey, involved more danger to my little band than all the scalping Modocs that ever whooped. The children could not step outside the door without danger of meeting some one who would do them harm. It is the curse of crowded city life that there is so little of a natural and attractive sort for a child to do, and so much of evil close at hand.
My wife asked me humorously for the news. She saw that I was not reading my paper, and my frowning brow and firm lips proved my problem was not of a trifling nature. She suspected nothing more, however, than that I was thinking of taking rooms in some better locality, and she was wondering how I could do it, for she knew that my income now left but a small surplus above expenses.
At last Winnie too was ready to go to bed, and I said to her, gravely: "Here is money to pay Melissa for that paper. It was only fit for the gutter, and into the gutter I put it. I wish you to promise me never to look at such pictures again, or you can never hope to grow up to be a lady like mamma."
The child flushed deeply, and went tearful and penitent to bed. Mousie also retired with a wistful look upon her face, for she saw that something of grave importance occupied my mind.
No matter how tired my wife might be, she was never satisfied to sit down until the room had been put in order, a green cloth spread upon the supper-table and the student lamp placed in its centre.
Merton brought his school-books, and my wife took up her mending, and we three sat down within the circle of light.
"Don't do any more work to-night," I said, looking into my wife's face, and noting for a few moments that it was losing its rounded lines.
Her hands dropped wearily into her lap, and she began gratefully: "I'm glad you speak so kindly to-night, Robert, for I am so nervous and out of sorts that I couldn't have stood one bit of fault- finding—I should have said things, and then have been sorry all day to-morrow. Dear knows, each day brings enough without carrying anything over. Come, read the paper to me, or tell me what you have been thinking about so deeply, if you don't mind Merton's hearing you. I wish to forget myself, and work, and everything that worries me, for a little while."
"I'll read the paper first, and then, after Merton has learned his lessons, I will tell you my thoughts—my purpose, I may almost say. Merton shall know about it soon, for he is becoming old enough to understand the 'why' of things. I hope, my boy, that your teacher lays a good deal of stress on the WHY in all your studies."
"Oh, yes, after a fashion."
"Well, so far as I am your teacher, Merton, I wish you always to think why you should do a thing or why you shouldn't, and to try not to be satisfied with any reason but a good one."
Then I gleaned from the paper such items as I thought would interest my wife. At last we were alone, with no sound in the room but the low roar of the city, a roar so deep as to make one think that the tides of life were breaking waves.
I was doing some figuring in a note-book when my wife asked: "Robert, what is your problem to-night? And what part have I in it?"
"So important a part that I couldn't solve it without you," I replied, smiling at her.
"Oh, come now," she said, laughing slightly for the first time in the evening; "you always begin to flatter a little when you want to carry a point."
"Well, then, you are on your guard against my wiles. But believe me, Winifred, the problem on my mind is not like one of my ordinary brown studies; in those I often try to get back to the wherefore of things which people usually accept and don't bother about. The question I am considering comes right home to us, and we must meet it. I have felt for some time that we could not put off action much longer, and to-night I am convinced of it."
Then I told her how I had found three of the children engaged that evening, concluding: "The circumstances of their lot are more to blame than they themselves. And why should I find fault with you because you are nervous? You could no more help being nervous and a little impatient than you could prevent the heat of the lamp from burning you, should you place your finger over it. I know the cause of it all. As for Mousie, she is growing paler and thinner every day. You know what my income is; we could not change things much for the better by taking other rooms and moving to another part of the city, and we might find that we had changed for the worse. I propose that we go to the country and get our living out of the soil."
"Why, Robert! what do you know about farming or gardening?"
"Not very much, but I am not yet too old to learn; and there would be something for the children to do at once, pure air for them to breathe, and space for them to grow healthfully in body, mind, and soul. You know I have but little money laid by, and am not one of those smart men who can push their way. I don't know much besides bookkeeping, and my employers think I am not remarkably quick at that. I can't seem to acquire the lightning speed with which things are done nowadays; and while I try to make up by long hours and honesty, I don't believe I could ever earn much more than I am getting now, and you know it doesn't leave much of a margin for sickness or misfortune of any kind. After all, what does my salary give us but food and clothing and shelter, such as it is, with a little to spare in some years? It sends a cold chill to my heart to think what should become of you and the children if I should be sick or anything should happen to me. Still, it is the present welfare of the children that weighs most on my mind, Winifred. They are no longer little things that you can keep in these rooms and watch over; there is danger for them just outside that door. It wouldn't be so if beyond the door lay a garden and fields and woods. You, my overtaxed wife, wouldn't worry about them the moment they were out of sight, and my work, instead of being away from them all day, could be with them. And all could do something, even down to pale Mousie and little Bobsey. Outdoor life and pure air, instead of that breathed over and over, would bring quiet to your nerves and the roses back to your cheeks. The children would grow sturdy and strong; much of their work would be like play to them; they wouldn't be always in contact with other children that we know nothing about. I am aware that the country isn't Eden, as we have imagined it—for I lived there as a boy—but it seems like Eden compared to this place and its surroundings; and I feel as if I were being driven back to it by circumstances I can't control."
There is no need of dwelling further on the reasons for or against the step we proposed. We thought a great deal and talked it over several times. Finally my wife agreed that the change would be wise and best for all. Then the children were taken into our confidence, and they became more delighted every day as the prospect grew clearer to them.
"We'll all be good soon, won't we?" said my youngest, who had a rather vivid sense of his own shortcomings, and kept them in the minds of others as well.
"Why so, Bobsey?"
"'Cause mamma says that God put the first people in a garden and they was very good, better'n any folks afterwards. God oughter know the best place for people."
Thus Bobsey gave a kind of divine sanction to our project. Of course we had not taken so important a step without asking the Great Father of all to guide us; for we felt that in the mystery of life we too were but little children who knew not what should be on the morrow, or how best to provide for it with any certainty. To our sanguine minds there was in Bobsey's words a hint of something more than permission to go up out of Egypt.
So it was settled that we should leave our narrow suite of rooms, the Daggetts and the Ricketts, and go to the country. To me naturally fell the task of finding the land flowing with milk and honey to which we should journey in the spring. Meantime we were already emigrants at heart, full of the bustle and excitement of mental preparation.
I prided myself somewhat on my knowledge of human nature, which, in regard to children, conformed to comparatively simple laws. I knew that the change would involve plenty of hard work, self-denial and careful managing, which nothing could redeem from prose; but I aimed to add to our exodus, so far as possible, the elements of adventure and mystery so dear to the hearts of children. The question where we should go was the cause of much discussion, the studying of maps, and the learning of not a little geography.
Merton's counsel was that we should seek a region abounding in Indians, bears, and "such big game." His advice made clear the nature of some of his recent reading. He proved, however, that he was not wanting in sense by his readiness to give up these attractive features in the choice of locality.
Mousie's soft black eyes always lighted up at the prospect of a flower-garden that should be as big as our sitting-room. Even in our city apartments, poisoned by gas and devoid of sunlight, she usually managed to keep a little house-plant in bloom, and the thought of placing seeds in the open ground, where, as she said, "the roots could go down to China if they wanted to," brought the first color I had seen in her face for many a day.
Winnie was our strongest child, and also the one who gave me the most anxiety. Impulsive, warm-hearted, restless, she always made me think of an overfull fountain. Her alert black eyes were as eager to see as was her inquisitive mind to pry into everything. She was sturdily built for a girl, and one of the severest punishments we could inflict was to place her in a chair and tell her not to move for an hour. We were beginning to learn that we could no more keep her in our sitting-room than we could restrain a mountain brook that foams into a rocky basin only to foam out again. Melissa Daggett was of a very different type—I could never see her without the word "sly" coming into my mind—and her small mysteries awakened Winnie's curiosity. Now that the latter was promised chickens, and rambles in the woods, Melissa and her secrets became insignificant, and the ready promise to keep aloof from her was given.
As for Bobsey, he should have a pig which he could name and call his own, and for which he might pull weeds and pick up apples. We soon found that he was communing with that phantom pig in his dreams.
A MOMENTOUS EXPEDITION
By the time Christmas week began we all had agreed to do without candy, toys, and knick-knacks, and to buy books that would tell us how to live in the country. One happy evening we had an early supper and all went to a well-known agricultural store and publishing-house on Broadway, each child almost awed by the fact that I had fifteen dollars in my pocket which should be spent that very night in the purchase of books and papers. To the children the shop seemed like a place where tickets direct to Eden were obtained, while the colored pictures of fruits and vegetables could portray the products of Eden only, so different were they in size and beauty from the specimens appearing in our market stalls. Stuffed birds and animals were also on the shelves, and no epicure ever enjoyed the gamy flavor as we did. But when we came to examine the books, their plates exhibiting almost every phase of country work and production, we felt like a long vista leading toward our unknown home was opening before us, illumined by alluring pictures. To Winnie was given a book on poultry, and the cuts representing the various birds were even more to her taste than cuts from the fowls themselves at a Christmas dinner. The Nimrod instincts of the race were awakened in Merton, and I soon found that he had set his heart on a book that gave an account of game, fish, birds, and mammals. It was a natural and wholesome longing. I myself had felt it keenly when a boy. Such country sport would bring sturdiness to his limbs and the right kind of color into his face.
"All right, Merton," I said: "you shall have the book and a breech- loading shot-gun also. As for fishing-tackle, you can get along with a pole cut from the woods until you have earned money enough yourself to buy what you need."
The boy was almost overwhelmed. He came to me, and took my hand in both his own.
"O papa," he faltered, and his eyes were moist, "did you say a gun?"
"Yes, a breech-loading shot-gun on one condition—that you'll not smoke till after you are twenty-one. A growing boy can't smoke in safety."
He gave my hand a quick, strong pressure, and was immediately at the farther end of the store, blowing his nose suspiciously. I chuckled to myself: "I want no better promise. A gun will cure him of cigarettes better than a tract would."
Mousie was quiet, as usual; but there was again a faint color in her cheeks, a soft lustre in her eyes. I kept near my invalid child most of the time, for fear that she would go beyond her strength. I made her sit by a table, and brought the books that would interest her most. Her sweet, thin face was a study, and I felt that she was already enjoying the healing caresses of Mother Nature. When we started homeward she carried a book about flowers next to her heart.
Bobsey taxed his mother's patience and agility, for he seemed all over the store at the same moment, and wanted everything in it, being sure that fifteen dollars would buy all and leave a handsome margin; but at last he was content with a book illustrated from beginning to end with pigs.
What pleased me most was to see how my wife enjoyed our little outing. Wrapped up in the children, she reflected their joy in her face, and looked almost girlish in her happiness. I whispered in her ear, "Your present shall be the home itself, for I shall have the deed made out in your name, and then you can turn me out-of-doors as often as you please."
"Which will be every pleasant day after breakfast," she said, laughing. "You know you are very safe in giving things to me."
"Yes, Winifred," I replied, pressing her hand on the sly; "I have been finding that out ever since I gave myself to you."
I bought Henderson's "Gardening for Profit" and some other practical books. I also subscribed for a journal devoted to rural interests and giving simple directions for the work of each month. At last we returned. Never did a jollier little procession march up Broadway. People were going to the opera and evening companies, and carriages rolled by, filled with elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen; but my wife remarked, "None of those people are so happy as we are, trudging in this roundabout way to our country home."
Her words suggested our course of action during the months which must intervene before it would be safe or wise for us to leave the city. Our thoughts, words, and actions were all a roundabout means to our cherished end, and yet the most direct way that we could take under the circumstances. Field and garden were covered with snow, the ground was granite-like from frost, and winter's cold breath chilled our impatience to be gone; but so far as possible we lived in a country atmosphere, and amused ourselves by trying to conform to country ways in a city flat. Even Winnie declared she heard the cocks crowing at dawn, while Bobsey had a different kind of grunt or squeal for every pig in his book.
A COUNTRY CHRISTMAS IN A CITY FLAT
On Christmas morning we all brought out our purchases and arranged them on a table. Merton was almost wild when he found a bright single-barrelled gun with accoutrements standing in the corner. Even Mousie exclaimed with delight at the bright-colored papers of flower-seeds on her plate. To Winnie were given half a dozen china eggs with which to lure the prospective biddies to lay in nests easily reached, and she tried to cackle over them in absurd imitation. Little Bobsey had to have some toys and candy, but they all presented to his eyes the natural inmates of the barn-yard. In the number of domestic animals he swallowed that day he equalled the little boy in Hawthorne's story of "The House of the Seven Gables," who devoured a ginger-bread caravan of camels and elephants purchased at Miss Hepzibah Pyncheon's shop.
Our Christmas dinner consisted almost wholly of such vegetables as we proposed to raise in the coming summer. Never before were such connoisseurs of carrots, beets, onions, parsnips, and so on through almost the entire list of such winter stock as was to be obtained at our nearest green-grocery. We celebrated the day by nearly a dozen dishes which the children aided my wife in preparing. Then I had Merton figure the cost of each, and we were surprised at the cheapness of much of country fare, even when retailed in very small quantities.
This brought up another phase of the problem. In many respects I was like the children, having almost as much to learn as they—with the advantage, however, of being able to correct impressions by experience. In other words, I had more judgment; and while I should certainly make mistakes, not many of them would be absurd or often repeated. I was aware that most of the homely kitchen vegetables cost comparatively little, even though (having in our flat no good place for storage) we had found it better to buy what we needed from day to day. It was therefore certain that, at wholesale in the country, they would often be exceedingly cheap. This fact would work both ways: little money would purchase much food of certain kinds, and if we produced these articles of food they would bring us little money.
I will pass briefly over the period that elapsed before it was time for us to depart, assured that the little people who are following this simple history are as eager to get away from the dusty city flat to the sunlight, breezy fields, brooks, and woods as were the children in my story. It is enough to say that, during all my waking hours not devoted to business, I read, thought, and studied on the problem of supporting my family in the country. I haunted Washington Market in the gray dawn and learned from much inquiry what products found a ready and certain sale at some price, and what appeared to yield to the grower the best profits. There was much conflict of opinion, but I noted down and averaged the statements made to me. Many of the market-men had hobbies, and told me how to make a fortune out of one or two articles; more gave careless, random, or ignorant answers; but here and there was a plain, honest, sensible fellow who showed me from his books what plain, honest, sensible producers in the country were doing. In a few weeks I dismissed finally the tendency to one blunder. A novice hears or reads of an acre of cabbages or strawberries producing so much. Then he figures, "if one acre yields so much, two acres will give twice as much," and so on. The experience of others showed me the utter folly of all this; and I came to the conclusion that I could give my family shelter, plain food, pure air, wholesome work and play in plenty, and that not very soon could I provide much else with certainty. I tried to stick closely to common-sense; and the humble circumstances of the vast majority living from the soil proved that there was in these pursuits no easy or speedy road to fortune. Therefore we must part reluctantly with every penny, and let a dollar go for only the essentials to the modest success now accepted as all we could naturally expect. We had explored the settled States, and even the Territories, in fancy; we had talked over nearly every industry from cotton and sugarcane planting to a sheep-ranch. I encouraged all this, for it was so much education out of school-hours; yet all, even Merton, eventually agreed with me that we had better not go far away, but seek a place near schools, markets, churches, and well inside of civilization.
"See here, youngsters, you forget the most important crop of all that I must cultivate," I said one evening.
"What is that?" they cried in chorus.
"A crop of boys and girls. You may think that my mind is chiefly on corn and potatoes. Not at all. It is chiefly on you; and for your sakes mamma and I decided to go to the country."
At last, in reply to my inquiries and my answers to advertisements, I received the following letter:—
Maizeville, N.Y. March 1st, '83
Robert Durham, Esq.
I have a place that will suit you I think. It can be bought at about the figure you name. Come to see it. I shan't crack it up, but want you to judge for yourself.
Resp'y John Jones
I had been to see two or three places that had been "cracked up" so highly that my wife thought it better to close the bargain at once before some one else secured the prize—and I had come back disgusted in each instance.
"The soul of wit" was in John Jones's letter. There was also a downright directness which hit the mark, and I wrote that I would go to Maizeville in the course of the following week.
A BLUFF FRIEND
The almanac had announced spring; nature appeared quite unaware of the fact, but, so far as we were concerned, the almanac was right. Spring was the era of hope, of change, and hope was growing in our hearts like "Jack's bean," in spite of lowering wintry skies. We were as eager as robins, sojourning in the south, to take our flight northward.
My duties to my employers had ceased the 1st of March: I had secured tenants who would take possession of our rooms as soon as we should leave them; and now every spare moment was given to studying the problem of country living and to preparations for departure. I obtained illustrated catalogues from several dealers in seeds, and we pored over them every evening. At first they bewildered us with their long lists of varieties, while the glowing descriptions of new kinds of vegetables just being introduced awakened in us something of a gambling spirit.
"How fortunate it is," exclaimed my wife, "that we are going to the country just as the vegetable marvels were discovered! Why, Robert, if half of what is said is true, we shall make our fortunes."
With us, hitherto, a beet had been a beet, and a cabbage a cabbage; but here were accounts of beets which, as Merton said, "beat all creation," and pictures of prodigious cabbage heads which well-nigh turned our own. With a blending of hope and distrust I carried two of the catalogues to a shrewd old fellow in Washington Market. He was a dealer in country produce who had done business so long at the same stand that among his fellows he was looked upon as a kind of patriarch. During a former interview he had replied to my questions with a blunt honesty that had inspired confidence. The day was somewhat mild, and I found him in his shirt-sleeves, smoking his pipe among his piled-up barrels, boxes, and crates, after his eleven o'clock dinner. His day's work was practically over; and well it might be, for, like others of his calling, he had begun it long before dawn. Now his old felt hat was pushed well back on his bald head, and his red face, fringed with a grizzled beard, expressed a sort of heavy, placid content. His small gray eyes twinkled as shrewdly as ever. With his pipe he indicated a box on which I might sit while we talked.
"See here, Mr. Bogart," I began, showing him the seed catalogues, "how is a man to choose wisely what vegetables he will raise from a list as long as your arm? Perhaps I shouldn't take any of those old- fashioned kinds, but go into these wonderful novelties which promise a new era in horticulture."
The old man gave a contemptuous grunt; then, removing his pipe, he blew out a cloud of smoke that half obscured us both as he remarked, gruffly, "'A fool and his money are soon parted.'"
This was about as rough as March weather; but I knew my man, and perhaps proved that I wasn't a fool by not parting with him then and there.
"Come now, neighbor," I said, brusquely, "I know some things that you don't, and there are affairs in which I could prove you to be as green as I am in this matter. If you came to me I'd give you the best advice that I could, and be civil about it into the bargain. I've come to you because I believe you to be honest and to know what I don't. When I tell you that I have a little family dependent on me, and that I mean if possible to get a living for them out of the soil, I believe you are man enough both to fall in with my plan and to show a little friendly interest. If you are not, I'll go farther and fare better."
As I fired this broadside he looked at me askance, with the pipe in the corner of his mouth, then reached out his great brown paw, and said,—
I knew it was all right now—that the giving of his hand meant not only a treaty of peace but also a friendly alliance. The old fellow discoursed vegetable wisdom so steadily for half an hour that his pipe went out.
"You jest let that new-fangled truck alone," he said, "till you get more forehanded in cash and experience. Then you may learn how to make something out of them novelties, as they call 'em, if they are worth growing at all. Now and then a good penny is turned on a new fruit or vegetable; but how to do it will be one of the last tricks that you'll learn in your new trade. Hand me one of them misleadin' books, and I'll mark a few solid kinds such as produce ninety-nine hundredths of all that's used or sold. Then you go to What-you-call- 'em's store, and take a line from me, and you'll git the genuine article at market-gardeners' prices."
"Now, Mr. Bogart, you are treating me like a man and a brother."
"Oh thunder! I'm treating you like one who, p'raps, may deal with me. Do as you please about it, but if you want to take along a lot of my business cards and fasten 'em to anything you have to sell, I'll give you all they bring, less my commission."
"I've no doubt you will, and that's more than I can believe of a good many in your line, if all's true that I hear. You have thrown a broad streak of daylight into my future. So you see the fool didn't part with his money, or with you either, until he got a good deal more than he expected."
"Well, well, Mr. Durham, you'll have to get used to my rough ways. When I've anything to say, I don't beat about the bush. But you'll always find my checks good for their face."
"Yes, and the face back of them is that of a friend to me now. We'll shake again. Good-by;" and I went home feeling as if I had solid ground under my feet. At supper I went over the whole scene, taking off the man in humorous pantomime, not ridicule, and even my wife grew hilarious over her disappointed hopes of the "new-fangled truck." I managed, however, that the children should not lose the lesson that a rough diamond is better than a smooth paste stone, and that people often do themselves an injury when they take offence too easily.
"I see it all, papa," chuckled Merton; "if you had gone off mad when he the same as called you a fool, you would have lost all his good advice."
"I should have lost much more than that, my boy, I should have lost the services of a good friend and an honest man to whom we can send for its full worth whatever we can't sell to better advantage at home. But don't mistake me, Merton, toadyism never pays, no matter what you may gain by it; for you give manhood for such gain, and that's a kind of property that one can never part with and make a good bargain. You see the old man didn't mean to be insolent. As he said, it was only his rough, blunt way of saying what was uppermost in his mind."
MR. JONES SHOWS ME THE PLACE
The next day, according to appointment, I went to Maizeville. John Jones met me at the station, and drove me in his box-sleigh to see the farm he had written of in his laconic note. I looked at him curiously as we jogged along over the melting snow. The day was unclouded for a wonder, and the sun proved its increasing power by turning the sleigh-tracks in the road into gleaming rills. The visage of my new acquaintance formed a decided contrast to the rubicund face of the beef-eating marketman. He was sandy even to his eyebrows and complexion. His scraggy beard suggested poverty of soil on his lantern jaws. His frame was as gaunt as that of a scare-crow, and his hands and feet were enormous. He had one redeeming feature, however—a pair of blue eyes that looked straight at you and made you feel that there was no "crookedness" behind them. His brief letter had led me to expect a man of few words, but I soon found that John Jones was a talker and a good-natured gossip. He knew every one we met, and was usually greeted with a rising inflection, like this, "How are you, John?"
We drove inland for two or three miles.
"No, I didn't crack up the place, and I ain't a-goin' to," said my real-estate agent. "As I wrote you, you can see for yourself when we get there, and I'll answer all questions square. I've got the sellin' of the property, and I mean it shall be a good bargain, good for me and good for him who buys. I don't intend havin' any neighbors around blamin' me for a fraud;" and that is all he would say about it.
On we went, over hills and down dales, surrounded by scenery that seemed to me beautiful beyond all words, even in its wintry aspect.
"What mountain is that standing off by itself?" I asked.
"Schunemunk," he said. "Your place—well, I guess it will be yours before plantin'-time comes—faces that mountain and looks up the valley between it and the main highlands on the left. Yonder's the house, on the slope of this big round hill, that'll shelter you from the north winds."
I shall not describe the place very fully now, preferring that it should be seen through the eyes of my wife and children, as well as my own.
"The dwelling appears old," I said.
"Yes; part of it's a good deal more'n a hundred years old. It's been added to at both ends. But there's timbers in it that will stand another hundred years. I had a fire made in the livin'-room this mornin', to take off the chill, and we'll go in and sit down after we've looked the place over. Then you must come and take pot-luck with us."
At first I was not at all enthusiastic, but the more I examined the place, and thought it over, the more it grew on my fancy. When I entered the main room of the cottage, and saw the wide, old- fashioned fireplace, with its crackling blaze, I thawed so rapidly that John Jones chuckled. "You're amazin' refreshin' for a city chap. I guess I'll crack on another hundred to the price."
"I thought you were not going to crack up the place at all."
"Neither be I. Take that old arm-chair, and I'll tell you all about it. The place looks rather run down, as you have seen. Old Mr. and Mrs. Jamison lived here till lately. Last January the old man died, and a good old man he was. His wife has gone to live with a daughter. By the will I was app'inted executor and trustee. I've fixed on a fair price for the property, and I'm goin' to hold on till I get it. There's twenty acres of plowable land and orchard, and a five-acre wood-lot, as I told you. The best part of the property is this. Mr. Jamison was a natural fruit-grower. He had a heap of good fruit here and wouldn't grow nothin' but the best. He was always a-speerin' round, and when he come across something extra he'd get a graft, or a root or two. So he gradually came to have the best there was a-goin' in these parts. Now I tell you what it is, Mr. Durham, you can buy plenty of new, bare places, but your hair would be gray before you'd have the fruit that old man Jamison planted and tended into bearing condition; and you can buy places with fine shade trees and all that, and a good show of a garden and orchard, but Jamison used to say that an apple or cherry was a pretty enough shade tree for him, and he used to say too that a tree that bore the biggest and best apples didn't take any more room than one that yielded what was fit only for the cider press. Now the p'int's just here. You don't come to the country to amuse yourself by developin' a property, like most city chaps do, but to make a livin'. Well, don't you see? This farm is like a mill. When the sun's another month higher it will start all the machinery in the apple, cherry, and pear trees and the small fruits, and it will turn out a crop the first year you're here that will put money in your pocket."
Then he named the price, half down and the rest on mortgage, if I so preferred. It was within the limit that my means permitted.
I got up and went all over the house, which was still plainly furnished in part. A large wood-house near the back door had been well filled by the provident old man. There was ample cellar room, which was also a safeguard against dampness. Then I went out and walked around the house. It was all so quaint and homely as to make me feel that it would soon become home-like to us. There was nothing smart to be seen, nothing new except a barn that had recently been built near one of the oldest and grayest structures of the kind I had ever seen. The snow-clad mountains lifted themselves about me in a way that promised a glimpse of beauty every time I should raise my eyes from work. Yet after all my gaze lingered longest on the orchard and fruit-trees that surrounded the dwelling.
"That's sensible," remarked Mr. Jones, who followed me with no trace of anxiety or impatience. "Paint, putty, and pine will make a house in a few weeks, but it takes a good slice out of a century to build up an orchard like that."
"That was just what I was thinking, Mr. Jones."
"Oh, I knowed that. Well, I've got just two more things to say, then I'm done and you can take it or leave it. Don't you see? The house is on a slope facing the south-east. You get the morning sun and the southern breeze. Some people don't know what they're worth, but I, who've lived here all my life, know they're worth payin' for. Again, you see the ground slopes off to the crick yonder. That means good drainage. We don't have any malary here, and that fact is worth as much as the farm, for I wouldn't take a section of the garden of Eden if there was malary around."
"On your honor now, Mr. Jones, how far is the corner around which they have the malaria?"
"Mr. Durham, it ain't a mile away."
I laughed as I said, "I shall have one neighbor, it seems, to whom I can lend an umbrella."
"Then you'll take the place?"
"Yes, if my wife is as well satisfied as I am. I want you to give me the refusal of it for one week at the price you named."
"Agreed, and I'll put it in black and white."
"Now, Mr. Jones," I began with an apologetic little laugh, "you grow one thing up here in all seasons, I fancy—an appetite. As I feel now, your pot-luck means good luck, no matter what is in it."
"Now you talk sense. I was a-hankerin' myself. I take stock right off in a man or a critter with an appetite. They're always improvin'. Yes, sir; Maizeville is the place to grow an appetite, and what's more we can grow plenty to satisfy it."
Mrs. Jones made a striking contrast to her husband, for she first impressed me as being short, red, and round; but her friendly, bustling ways and hearty welcome soon added other and very pleasant impressions; and when she placed a great dish of fricasseed chicken on the table she won a good-will which her neighborly kindness has steadily increased.
TELLING ABOUT EDEN
Never was a traveller from a remote foreign clime listened to with more breathless interest than I as I related my adventures at our late supper after my return. Mousie looked almost feverish in her excitement, and Winnie and Bobsey exploded with merriment over the name of the mountain that would be one of our nearest neighbors. They dubbed the place "Schunemunks" at once. Merton put on serious and sportsman-like airs as he questioned me, and it was evident that he expected to add largely to our income from the game he should kill. I did not take much pains to dispel his illusions, knowing that one day's tramp would do this, and that he would bring back increased health and strength if nothing else.
No fairy tale had ever absorbed the children like the description of that old house and its surroundings; and when at last they were induced to retire I said to my wife, after explaining more in practical detail the pros and cons to be considered: "It all depends on you. If you wish I will take you up the first pleasant day, so that you can see for yourself before we decide."
She laughed as she said, "I decided two minutes after you arrived."
"How is that?"
"I saw you had the place in your eyes. La, Robert! I can read you like a book. You give in to me in little things, and that pleases a woman, you know. You must decide a question like this, for it is a question of support for us all, and you can do better on a place that suits you than on one never quite to your mind. It has grown more and more clear to me all the evening that you have fallen in love with the old place, and that settles it."
"Well, you women have a way of your own of deciding a question."
My wife was too shrewd not to make a point in her favor, and she remarked, with a complacent nod, "I have a way of my own, but there are women in the world who would have insisted on a smart new house."
"Little wife," I said, laughing, "there was another girl that I was a little sweet on before I met you. I'm glad you are not the other girl."
She put her head a little to one side with the old roguish look which used to be so distracting when the question of questions with me was whether pretty Winnie Barlow would give half a dozen young fellows the go-by for my sake, and she said, "Perhaps the other girl is glad too."
"I've no doubt she is," I sighed, "for her husband is getting rich. I don't care how glad she is if my girl is not sorry."
"You do amuse me so, Robert! You'd like to pass for something of a philosopher, with your brown studies into the hidden causes and reasons for things, yet you don't half know yet that when a woman sets her heart on something, she hasn't much left with which to long for anything else. That is, if she has a heart, which seems to be left out of some women."
"I think it is, and others get a double allowance. I should be content, for I was rich the moment I won yours."
"I've been more than content; I've been happy—happy all these years in city flats. Even in my tantrums and bad days I knew I was happy, deep in my heart."
"I only hope you will remain as blind about your plodding old husband who couldn't make a fortune in the city."
"I've seen men who made fortunes, and I've seen their wives too."
I thanked God for the look on her face—a look which had been there when she was a bride, and which had survived many straitened years.
So we chose our country home. The small patrimony to which we had added but little—(indeed we had often denied ourselves in order not to diminish it)—was nearly all to be invested in the farm, and a debt to be incurred, besides. While yielding to my fancy, I believed that I had at the same time chosen wisely, for, as John Jones said, the mature fruit trees of the place would begin to bring returns very soon.
We were now all eager to get away, and the weather favored our wishes. A warm rain with a high south wind set in, and the ice disappeared from the river like magic. I learned that the afternoon boat which touched at Maizeville would begin its trips in the following week.
I told my wife about the furniture which still remained in the house, and the prices which John Jones put upon it. We therefore found that we could dispose of a number of bulky articles in our city apartments, and save a goodly sum in cartage and freight. Like soldiers short of ammunition, we had to make every dollar tell, and when by thought and management we could save a little it was talked over as a triumph to be proud of.
The children entered into the spirit of the thing with great zest. They were all going to be hardy pioneers. One evening I described the landing of the "Mayflower," and some of the New-England winters that followed, and they wished to come down to Indian meal at once as a steady diet. Indeed, toward the last, we did come down to rather plain fare, for in packing up one thing after another we at last reached the cooking utensils.
On the morning of the day preceding the one of our departure I began to use military figures of speech.
"Now we must get into marching order," I said, "and prepare to break camp. Soldiers, you know, when about to move, dispose of all their heavy baggage, cook several days' provisions, pack up and load on wagons what they mean to take with them, and start. It is a trying time—one that requires the exercise of good soldierly qualities, such as prompt obedience, indifference to hardship and discomfort, and especially courage in meeting whatever happens."
Thus the children's imaginations were kindled, and our prosaic breaking up was a time of grand excitement. With grim satisfaction they looked upon the dismantling of the rooms, and with sighs of relief saw carts take away such heavy articles as I had sold.
Winnie and Bobsey were inclined to take the children of neighbors into their confidence, and to have them around, but I said that this would not do at all—that when soldiers were breaking camp the great point was to do everything as secretly and rapidly as possible. Thenceforward an air of mystery pervaded all our movements.
Bobsey, however, at last overstepped the bounds of our patience and became unmanageable. The very spirit of mischief seemed to have entered his excited little brain. He untied bundles, placed things where they were in the way, and pestered the busy mother with so many questions, that I hit upon a decided measure to keep him quiet. I told him about a great commander who, in an important fight, was strapped to a mast, so that he could oversee everything. Then I tied the little fellow into a chair. At first he was much elated, and chattered like a magpie, but when he found he was not to be released after a few moments he began to howl for freedom. I then carried him, chair and all, to one of the back rooms. Soon his cries ceased, and tender-hearted Mousie stole after him. Returning she said, with her low laugh, "He'll be good now for a while; he's sound asleep."
And so passed the last day in our city rooms. Except as wife and children were there, they had never appeared very homelike to me, and now they looked bare and comfortless indeed. The children gloated over their appearance, for it meant novelty to them. "The old camp is about broken up," Merton remarked, with the air of a veteran. But my wife sighed more than once.
"What troubles you, Winifred?"
"Robert, the children were born here, and here I've watched over them in sickness and health so many days and nights."
"Well, my dear, the prospects are that in our new home you will not have to watch over them in sickness very much. Better still, you will not have to be so constantly on your guard against contagions that harm the soul as well as the body. I was told that there are rattle-snakes on Schunemunk, but greater dangers for Winnie and Merton lurk in this street—yes, in this very house;" and I exulted over the thought that we were about to bid Melissa Daggett a final good-by.
"Oh, I know. I'm glad; but then—"
"But then a woman's heart takes root in any place where she has loved and suffered. That tendency makes it all the more certain that you'll love your new home."
"Yes; we may as well face the truth, Robert. We shall suffer in the new home as surely as in the old. There may be stronger sunshine, but that means deeper shadow."
SCENES ON THE WHARF
The last night in the city flat was in truth like camping out, the fatigues of the day brought us sound sleep, and we looked and felt like emigrants. But in the morning we rose with the dawn, from our shakedowns on the floor, to begin eagerly and hopefully our final preparations for departure. In response to my letters John Jones had promised to meet us at the Maizeville Landing with his strong covered rockaway, and to have a fire in the old farmhouse. Load after load was despatched to the boat, for I preferred to deal with one trusty truckman. When all had been taken away, we said good-by to our neighbors and took the horse-car to the boat, making our quiet exit in the least costly way. I knew the boat would be warm and comfortable, and proposed that we should eat our lunch there.
The prospect, however, of seeing the wharves, the boats, and the river destroyed even the children's appetites. We soon reached the crowded dock. The great steamer appeared to be a part of it, lying along its length with several gangways, over which boxes, barrels, and packages were being hustled on board with perpetual din. The younger children were a little awed at first by the noise and apparent confusion. Mousie kept close to my side, and even Bobsey clung to his mother's hand. The extended upper cabin had state-rooms opening along its sides, and was as comfortable as a floating parlor with its arm and rocking chairs. Here, not far from the great heater, I established our headquarters. I made the children locate the spot carefully, and said: "From this point we'll make excursions. In the first place, Merton, you come with me and see that all our household effects are together and in good order. You must learn to travel and look after things like a man."
We spent a little time in arranging our goods so that they would be safer and more compact. Then we went to the captain and laughingly told him we were emigrants to Maizeville, and hoped before long to send a good deal of produce by his boat. We therefore wished him to "lump" us, goods, children, and all, and deliver us safely at the Maizeville wharf for as small a sum as possible.
He good-naturedly agreed, and I found that the chief stage of our journey would involve less outlay than I had expected.
Thus far all had gone so well that I began to fear that a change must take place soon, in order that our experience should be more like the common lot of humanity. When at last I took all the children out on the afterdeck, to remove the first edge of their curiosity, I saw that there was at least an ominous change in the weather. The morning had been mild, with a lull in the usual March winds. Now a scud of clouds was drifting swiftly in from the eastward, and chilly, fitful gusts began to moan and sigh about us. A storm was evidently coming, and my hope was that we might reach our haven before it began. I kept my fears to myself, and we watched the long lines of carts converging toward the gang-planks of our own and other steamboats.
"See, youngsters," I cried, "all this means commerce. These loads and loads of things will soon be at stores and homes up the river, supplying the various needs of the people. Tomorrow the residents along the river will bring what they have to sell to this same boat, and by daylight next morning carts will be carrying country produce and manufactured articles all over the city. Thus you see commerce is made by people supplying themselves and each other with what they need. Just as soon as we can bring down a crate of berries and send it to Mr. Bogart we shall be adding to the commerce of the world in the best way. We shall become what are called the 'producers,' and but for this class the world would soon come to an end."
"'Rah!" cried Bobsey, "I'm goin' to be a p'oducer."
He promised, however, to be a consumer for a long time to come, especially of patience. His native fearlessness soon asserted itself, and he wanted to go everywhere and see everything, asking questions about machinery, navigation, river craft, the contents of every box, bale, or barrel we saw, till I felt that I was being used like a town pump. I pulled him back to the cabin, resolving to stop his mouth for a time at least with the contents of our lunch basket.
Winnie was almost as bad, or as good, perhaps I should say; for, however great the drain and strain on me might be, I knew that these active little brains were expanding to receive a host of new ideas.
Mousie was quiet as usual, and made no trouble, but I saw with renewed hope that this excursion into the world awakened in her a keen and natural interest. Ever since the project of country life had been decided upon, her listless, weary look had been giving place to one of greater animation. The hope of flowers and a garden had fed her life like a deep, hidden spring.
To Merton I had given larger liberty, and had said: "It is not necessary for you to stay with me all the time. Come and go on the boat and wharf as you wish. Pick up what knowledge you can. All I ask is that you will use good sense in keeping out of trouble and danger."
I soon observed that he was making acquaintances here and there, and asking questions which would go far to make good his loss of schooling for a time. Finding out about what one sees is, in my belief, one of the best ways of getting an education. The trouble with most of us is that we accept what we see, without inquiry or knowledge.
The children were much interested in scenes witnessed from the side of the boat farthest from the wharf. Here in the enclosed water- space were several kinds of craft, but the most curious in their eyes was a group of canal boats—"queer travelling houses" Mousie called them; for it was evident that each one had a family on board, and the little entrance to the hidden cabin resembled a hole from which men, women, and children came like rabbits out of a burrow. Tough, hardy, barefooted children were everywhere. While we were looking, one frowsy-headed little girl popped up from her burrow in the boat, and, with legs and feet as red as a boiled lobster, ran along the guards like a squirrel along a fence.
"O dear!" sighed Mousie, "I'd rather live in a city flat than in such a house."
"I think it would be splendid," protested Winnie, "to live in a travelling house. You could go all over and still stay at home."
I was glad on our return to find my wife dozing in her chair. She was determined to spend in rest the hours on the boat, and had said that Mousie also must be quiet much of the afternoon.
Between three and four the crush on the wharf became very great. Horses and drays were so mixed up that to inexperienced eyes it looked as if they could never be untangled. People of every description, loaded down with parcels, were hurrying on board, and it would seem from our point of view that American women shared with their French sisters an aptness for trade, for among the passengers were not a few substantial, matronly persons who appeared as if they could look the world in the face and get the better of it.
A VOYAGE UP THE HUDSON
As four P.M. approached, I took the children to a great glass window in the cabin, through which we could see the massive machinery.
"Now," said I, "watch the steel giant; he is motionless, but in a moment or two he will move."
True enough, he appeared to take a long breath of steam, and then slowly lifted his polished arms, or levers, and the boat that had been like a part of the wharf began to act as if it were alive and were waking up.
"Now," I asked, "shall we go to the after-deck and take our last look at the city, or forward and see the river and whither we are going?"
"Forward! forward!" cried all in chorus.
"That's the difference between youth and age," I thought. "With the young it is always 'forward.'" But we found that we could not go out on the forward deck, for the wind would have carried away my light, frail Mousie, like a feather. Indeed it was whistling a wild tune as we stood in a small room with glass windows all round. The waves were crowned with foaming white-caps, and the small craft that had to be out in the gale were bobbing up and down, as if possessed. On the river was a strange and lurid light, which seemed to come more from the dashing water than from the sky, so dark was the latter with skurrying clouds.
Mousie clung timidly to my side, but I reassured her by saying: "See how steadily, how evenly and boldly, our great craft goes out on the wide river. In the same way we must go forward, and never be afraid. These boats run every day after the ice disappears, and they are managed by men who know what to do in all sorts of weather."
She smiled, but whispered, "I think I'll go back and stay with mamma;" but she soon found much amusement in looking at passing scenes from the windows of the warm after-cabin—scenes that were like pictures set in oval frames.
The other children appeared fascinated by the scene, especially Winnie, whose bold black eyes flashed with excitement.
"I want to see everything and know everything," she said.
"I wish you to see and know about things like these," I replied, "but not such things as Melissa Daggett would show you."
"Melissy Daggett, indeed!" cried Winnie. "This beats all her stories. She tried to tell me the other day about a theatre at which a woman killed a man—"
"Horrid! I hope you didn't listen?"
"Only long enough to know the man came to life again, and danced in the next—"
"That will do. I'm not interested in Melissa's vulgar stories. As you say, this, and all like this, is much better, and will never prevent you from becoming a lady like mamma."
Winnie's ambition to become a lady promised to be one of my strong levers in uplifting her character.
I confess that I did not like the looks of the sky or of the snow- flakes that began to whirl in the air, but the strong steamer plowed her way rapidly past the city and the villa-crowned shores beyond. The gloom of the storm and of early coming night was over all, and from the distant western shores the Palisades frowned dimly through the obscurity.
My wife came, and after a brief glance shivered and was turning away, when I said, "You don't like your first glimpse of the country, Winifred?"
"It will look different next June. The children will take cold here. Let them come and watch the machinery."
This we all did for a time, and then I took them on excursions about the enclosed parts of the boat. The lamps were already lighted, and the piled-up freight stood out in grotesque light and shadow.
Before very long we were standing by one of the furnace rooms, and the sooty-visaged man threw open the iron doors of the furnace. In the glare of light that rushed forth everything near stood out almost as vividly as it would have done in a steady gleam of lightning. The fireman instantly became a startling silhouette, and the coal that he shovelled into what was like a flaming mouth of a cavern seemed sparkling black diamonds. The snow-flakes glimmered as the wind swept them by the wide-open window, and in the distance were seen the lights and the dim outline of another boat rushing toward the city. Clang! the iron doors are shut, and all is obscure again.
"Now the boat has had its supper," said Bobsey. "O dear! I wish I could have a big hot supper."
The smoking-room door stood open, and we lingered near it for some moments, attracted first by a picture of a great fat ox, that suggested grassy meadows, plowing, juicy steaks, and other pleasant things. Then our attention was drawn to a man, evidently a cattle- dealer, who was holding forth to others more or less akin to him in their pursuits.
"Yes," he was saying, "people in the country eat a mighty lot of cow-beef, poor and old at that. I was buying calves out near Shawangunk Mountains last week, and stopped at a small tavern. They brought me a steak and I tried to put my knife in it—thought the knife might be dull, but knew my grinders weren't. Jerusalem! I might have chawed on that steak till now and made no impression. I called the landlord, and said, 'See here, stranger, if you serve me old boot-leather for steak again I'll blow on your house.'—'I vow,' he said, 'it's the best I kin get in these diggin's. You fellers from the city buy up every likely critter that's for sale, and we have to take what you leave.' You see, he hit me right between the horns, for it's about so. Bless your soul, if I'd took in a lot of cow-beef like that to Steers and Pinkham, Washington Market, they'd 'a taken my hide off and hung me up 'longside of my beef."
"Grantin' all that," said another man, "folks in the country would be a sight better off if they'd eat more cow-beef and less pork. You know the sayin' about 'out of the frying-pan into the fire'? Well, in some parts I've travelled they had better get out of the fryin'- pan, no matter where they fetch up."
We went away laughing, and I said: "Don't you be troubled, Mousie; we won't go to the frying-pan altogether to find roses for your cheeks. We'll paint them red with strawberries and raspberries, the color put on from the inside."
As time passed, the storm increased, and the air became so thick with driving snow that the boat's speed was slackened. Occasionally we "slowed up" for some moments. The passengers shook their heads and remarked, dolefully, "There's no telling when we'll arrive."
I made up my mind that it would be good economy for us all to have a hearty hot supper, as Bobsey had suggested; and when, at last, the gong resounded through the boat, we trooped down with the others to the lower cabin, where there were several long tables, with colored waiters in attendance. We had not been in these lower regions before, and the eyes of the children soon wandered from their plates to the berths, or sleeping-bunks, which lined the sides of the cabin.
"Yes," I replied, in answer to their questions; "it is a big supper- room now, but by and by it will be a big bedroom, and people will be tucked away in these berths, just as if they were laid on shelves, one over the other."
The abundant and delicious supper, in which steaks, not from cow- beef, were the chief feature, gave each one of us solid comfort and satisfaction. Bobsey ate until the passengers around him were laughing, but he, with superb indifference, attended strictly to business.
My wife whispered, "You must all eat enough to last a week, for I sha'n't have time to cook anything;" and I was much pleased at the good example which she and Mousie set us.
Both before and after supper I conducted Bobsey to the wash-room, and he made the people laugh as he stood on a chair and washed his face. But he was a sturdy little fellow, and only laughed back when a man said he looked as though he was going to dive into the basin.
Mousie at last began to show signs of fatigue; and learning that it would be several hours still before we could hope to arrive, so severe was the storm, I procured the use of a state-room, and soon Bobsey was snoring in the upper berth, and my invalid girl smiling and talking in soft tones to her mother in the lower couch. Winnie, Merton, and I prowled around, spending the time as best we could. Occasionally we looked through the windows at the bow, and wondered how the pilot could find his way through the tempest. I confess I had fears lest he might not do this, and felt that I should be grateful indeed when my little band was safe on shore. The people in charge of the boat, however, knew their business.
A MARCH EVENING IN EDEN
At length we were fast at the Maizeville Landing, although long after the usual hour of arrival. I was anxious indeed to learn whether John Jones would meet us, or whether, believing that we would not come in such a storm, and tired of waiting, he had gone home and left us to find such shelter as we could.
But there he was, looking in the light of the lanterns as grizzled as old Time himself, with his eyebrows and beard full of snow- flakes. He and I hastily carried the three younger children ashore through the driving snow, and put them in a corner of the storehouse, while Merton followed with his mother.
"Mr. Jones," I exclaimed, "you are a neighbor to be proud of already. Why didn't you go home and leave us to our fate?"
"Well," he replied, laughing, "'twouldn't take you long to get snowed under to-night. No, no; when I catch fish I mean to land 'em. Didn't know but what in such a buster of a storm you might be inclined to stay on the boat and go back to the city. Then where would my bargain be?"
"No fear of that. We're in for it now—have enlisted for the war. What shall we do?"
"Well, I vow I hardly know. One thing first, anyhow—we must get Mrs. Durham and the kids into the warm waiting-room, and then look after your traps."
The room was already crowded, but we squeezed them in, white from scarcely more than a moment's exposure to the storm. Then we took hold and gave the deck-hands a lift with my baggage, Merton showing much manly spirit in his readiness to face the weather and the work. My effects were soon piled up by themselves, and then we held a council.
"Mrs. Durham'll hardly want to face this storm with the children," began Mr. Jones.
"Are you going home?" I asked.
"Yes, sir. I'd rather travel all night for the sake of being home in the morning."
"To tell the truth I feel the same way," I continued, "but reason must hold the reins. Do you think you could protect Mrs. Durham and the children from the storm?"
"Yes, I think we could tuck 'em in so they'd scarcely know it was snowin', and then we could sled your things up in the mornin'. 'Commodations on the landin' to-night will be pretty crowded."
"We'll let her decide, then."
When I explained how things were and what Mr. Jones had said, she exclaimed, "Oh, let us go home."
How my heart jumped at her use of the word "home" in regard to a place that she had never seen. "But, Winifred," I urged, "do you realize how bad a night it is? Do you think it would be safe for Mousie?"
"It isn't so very cold if one is not exposed to the wind and snow," she replied, "and Mr. Jones says we needn't be exposed. I don't believe we'd run as much risk as in going to a little hotel, the best rooms of which are already taken. Since we can do it, it will be so much nicer to go to a place that we feel is our own!"
"I must say that your wishes accord with mine."
"Oh, I knew that," she replied, laughing. "Mr. Jones," she added, sociably, "this man has a way of telling you what he wishes by his looks before asking your opinion."
"I found that out the day he came up to see the place," chuckled my neighbor, "and I was half a mind to stick him for another hundred for being so honest. He don't know how to make a bargain any more than one of the children there. Well, I'll go to the shed and get the hosses, and we'll make a pull for home. I don't believe you'll be sorry when you get there."
Mr. Jones came around to the very door with the rockaway, and we tucked my wife and children under the buffalo robes and blankets till they could hardly breathe. Then we started out into the white, spectral world, for the wind had coated everything with the soft, wet snow. On we went at a slow walk, for the snow and mud were both deep, and the wheeling was very heavy. Even John Jones's loquacity was checked, for every time he opened his mouth the wind half filled it with snow. Some one ahead of us, with a lantern, guided our course for a mile or so through the dense obscurity, and then he turned off on another road. At first I hailed one and another in the black cavern of the rockaway behind me, and their muffled voices would answer, "All right." But one after another they ceased to answer me until all were fast asleep except my wife. She insisted that she was only very drowsy, but I knew that she was also very, very tired. Indeed, I felt myself, in a way that frightened me, the strange desire to sleep that overcomes those long exposed to cold and wind.
I must have been nodding and swaying around rather loosely, when I felt myself going heels over head into the snow. As I picked myself up I heard my wife and children screaming, and John Jones shouting to his horses, "Git up," while at the same time he lashed them with his whip. My face was so plastered with snow that I could see only a dark object which was evidently being dragged violently out of a ditch, for when the level road was reached, Mr. Jones shouted, "Whoa!"
"Robert, are you hurt?" cried my wife.
"No, are you?"
"Not a bit, but I'm frightened to death."
Then John Jones gave a hearty guffaw and said:
"I bet you our old shanghai rooster that you don't die."
"Take you up," answered my wife, half laughing and half crying.
"Where are we?" I asked.
"I'm here. Haven't the remotest idea where you be," replied Mr. Jones.
"You are a philosopher," I said, groping my way through the storm toward his voice.
"I believe I was a big fool for tryin' to get home such a night as this; but now that we've set about it, we'd better get there. That's right. Scramble in and take the reins. Here's my mittens."
"What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to 'light and smell out the road. This is equal to any blizzard I've read of out West."
"How far have we to go now?"
"Half a mile, as nigh as I can make out;" and we jogged on again.
"Are you sure you are not hurt?" Mousie asked me.
"Sure; it was like tumbling into a feather bed."
"Stop a bit," cried Mr. Jones. "There's a turn in the road here. Let me go on a little and lay out your course."
"Oh, I wish we had stayed anywhere under shelter," said my wife.
"Courage," I cried. "When we get home, we'll laugh over this."
"Now," shouted Mr. Jones, "veer gradually off to the left toward my voice—all right;" and we jogged on again, stopping from time to time to let our invisible guide explore the road.
Once more he cried, "Stop a minute."
The wind roared and shrieked around us, and it was growing colder. With a chill of fear I thought, "Could John Jones have mistaken the road?" and I remembered how four people and a pair of horses had been frozen within a few yards of a house in a Western snow-storm.
"Are you cold, children?" I asked.
"Yes, I'm freezing," sobbed Winnie. "I don't like the country one bit."
"This is different from the Eden of which we have been dreaming," I thought grimly. Then I shouted, "How much farther, Mr. Jones?"
The howling of the wind was my only answer. I shouted again. The increasing violence of the tempest was the only response.
"Robert," cried my wife, "I don't hear Mr. Jones's voice."
"He has only gone on a little to explore," I replied, although my teeth chattered with cold and fear.
"Halloo—oo!" I shouted. The answering shriek of the wind in the trees overhead chilled my very heart.
"What has become of Mr. Jones?" asked my wife, and there was almost anguish in her tone, while Winnie and Bobsey were actually crying aloud.
"Well, my dear," I tried to say, reassuringly, "even if he were very near to us we could neither see nor hear him."
Moments passed which seemed like ages, and I scarcely knew what to do. The absence of all signs of Mr. Jones filled me with a nameless and unspeakable dread. Could anything have happened to him? Could he have lost his way and fallen into some hole or over some steep bank? If I drove on, we might tumble after him and perish, maimed and frozen, in the wreck of the wagon. One imagines all sorts of horrible things when alone and helpless at night.
"Papa," cried Merton, "I'll get out and look for Mr. Jones."
"You are a good, brave boy," I replied. "No; you hold the reins, and I'll look for him and see what is just before us."
At that moment there was a glimmer of light off to the left of us.
RESCUED AND AT HOME
All that the poets from the beginning of time have written about light could not express my joy as I saw that glimmer approaching on the left. Before it appeared I had been awed by the tempest, benumbed with cold, shivering in my wet clothes, and a prey to many terrible fears and surmises; but now I cried, "Cheer up; here comes a light."
Then in my gladness I shouted the greeting that met Mr. Jones everywhere, "How are YOU, JOHN?"
A great guffaw of laughter mingled with the howl of the storm, and my neighbor's voice followed from the obscurity: "That's famous— keepin' up your courage like a soldier."
"Oh, I won't brag about keeping up my courage."
"Guess you didn't know what had become of me?"
"You're right and we didn't know what was to become of us. Now aren't we nearly home? For we are all half frozen."
"Just let me spy a bit with the lantern, and I'll soon tell you everything." He bobbed back and forth for a moment or two like a will-o'-the-wisp. "Now turn sharp to the left, and follow the light."
A great hope sprung up in my heart, and I hushed Winnie's and Bobsey's crying by saying, "Listen, and you'll soon hear some good news."
Our wheels crunched through the deep snow for a few moments, and soon I saw a ruddy light shining from the window of a dwelling, and then Mr. Jones shouted, "Whoa! 'Light down, neighbors; you're at your own door."
There was a chorus of delighted cries. Merton half tumbled over me in his eagerness to get down. A door opened, and out poured a cheerful glow. Oh the delicious sense of safety and warmth given by it already!
I seized Mousie, floundered through the snow up to my knees, and placed her in a big rocking-chair. Mr. Jones followed with Winnie, and Merton came in with Bobsey on his back. The little fellow was under such headway in crying that he couldn't stop at once, although his tears were rapidly giving place to laughter. I rushed back and carried in my wife, and then said, in a voice a little unsteady from deep feeling, "Welcome home, one and all."
Never did the word mean more to a half-frozen and badly frightened family. At first safety, warmth, and comfort were the uppermost in our thoughts, but as wraps were taken off, and my wife and children thawed out, eager-eyed curiosity began to make explorations. Taking Mousie on my lap, and chafing her hands, I answered questions and enjoyed to the full the exclamations of pleasure.
Mr. Jones lingered for a few moments, then gave one of his big guffaws by way of preface, and said: "Well, you do look as if you was at home and meant to stay. This 'ere scene kinder makes me homesick; so I'll say good-night, and I'll be over in the mornin'. There's some lunch on the table that my wife fixed up for you. I must go, for I hear John junior hollerin' for me."
His only response to our profuse thanks was another laugh, which the wind swept away.
"Who is John junior?" asked Merton.
"Mr. Jones's son, a boy of about your age. He was here waiting for us, and keeping the fire up. When we arrived he came out and took the horses, and so you didn't see him. He'll make a good playmate for you. To use his father's own words, 'He's a fairish boy as boys go,' and that from John Jones means that he's a good fellow."
Oh, what a happy group we were, as we gathered around the great, open fire, on which I piled more wood!
"Do you wish to go and look around a little?" I asked my wife.
"No," she replied, leaning back in her rocking-chair: "let me take this in first. O Robert, I have such a sense of rest, quiet, comfort, and hominess that I just want to sit still and enjoy it all. The howling of the storm only makes this place seem more like a refuge, and I'd rather hear it than the Daggetts tramping overhead and the Ricketts children crying down-stairs. Oh, isn't it nice to be by ourselves in this quaint old room? Turn the lamp down, Robert, so we can see the firelight flicker over everything. Isn't it splendid?—just like a picture in a book."
"No picture in a book, Winifred—no artist could paint a picture that would have the charm of this one for me," I replied, leaning my elbow on the end of the mantel-piece, and looking fondly down on the little group. My wife's face looked girlish in the ruddy light. Mousie gazed into the fire with unspeakable content, and declared she was "too happy to think of taking cold." Winnie and Bobsey were sitting, Turk-fashion, on the floor, their eyelids drooping. The long cold ride had quenched even their spirit, for after running around for a few moments they began to yield to drowsiness. Merton, with a boy's appetite, was casting wistful glances at the lunch on the table, the chief feature of which was a roast chicken.
There seemed to be no occasion for haste. I wished to let the picture sink deep into my heart. At last my wife sprang up and said:—
"I've been sentimental long enough. You're not of much account in the house, Robert"—with one of her saucy looks—"and I must see to things, or Winnie and Bobsey will be asleep on the floor. I feel as if I could sit here till morning, but I'll come back after the children are in bed. Come, show me my home, or at least enough of it to let me see where we are to sleep."
"We shall have to camp again to-night. Mrs. Jones has made up the one bed left in the house, and you and Mousie shall have that. We'll fix Winnie and Bobsey on the lounge; and, youngsters, you can sleep in your clothes, just as soldiers do on the ground. Merton and I will doze in these chairs before the fire. To-morrow night we can all be very comfortable."
I took the lamp and led the way—my wife, Mousie, and Merton following—first across a little hall, from which one stairway led to the upper chambers and another to the cellar. Opening a door opposite the living-room, I showed Winifred her parlor. Cosey and comfortable it looked, even now, through Mr. and Mrs. Jones's kind offices. A Morning Glory stove gave out abundant warmth and a rich light which blended genially with the red colors of the carpet.
"Oh, how pretty I can make this room look!" exclaimed my wife.
"Of course you can: you've only to enter it."
"You hurt your head when you fell out of the wagon, Robert, and are a little daft. There's no place to sleep here."
"Come to the room over this, warmed by a pipe from this stove."
"Ah, this is capital," she cried, looking around an apartment which Mrs. Jones had made comfortable. "Wasn't I wise when I decided to come home? It's just as warm as toast. Now let the wind blow—Why, I don't hear it any more."
"No, the gale has blown itself out. Finding that we had escaped, it got discouraged and gave up. Connected with this room is another for Mousie and Winnie. By leaving the door open much of the time it will be warm enough for them. So you see this end of the house can be heated with but little trouble and expense. The open fire in the living-room is a luxury that we can afford, since there is plenty of wood on the place. On the other side of the hall there is a room for Merton. Now do me a favor: don't look, or talk, or think, any more to-night. It has been a long, hard day. Indeed"—looking at my watch—"it is already to-morrow morning, and you know how much we shall have to do. Let us go back and get a little supper, and then take all the rest we can."
Winifred yielded, and Bobsey and Winnie waked up for a time at the word "supper." Then we knelt around our hearth, and made it an altar to God, for I wished the children never to forget our need of His fatherly care and help.
"I will now take the children upstairs and put them to bed, and then come back, for I can not leave this wood fire just yet," remarked my wife.
I burst out laughing and said, "You have never been at home until this night, when you are camping in an old house you never saw before, and I can prove it by one question—When have you taken the children UPSTAIRS to bed before?"
"Of course you haven't—city flats all your life. But your nature is not perverted. In natural homes for generations mothers have taken their children upstairs to bed, and, forgetting the habit of your life, you speak according to the inherited instinct of the mother- heart."
"O Robert, you have so many fine-spun theories! Yet it is a little queer. It seemed just as natural for me to say upstairs as—"
"As it was for your mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother."
"Very well. We are in such an old house that I suppose I shall begin to look and act like my great-grandmother. But no more theories to- night—nothing but rest and the wood fire."
She soon joined me at the hearth again. Merton meanwhile had stretched himself on the rag-carpet, with his overcoat for a pillow, and was in dreamless sleep. My wife's eyes were full of languor. She did not sit down, but stood beside me for a moment. Then, laying her head on my shoulder, she said, softly, "I haven't brains enough for theories and such things, but I will try to make you all happy here."
"Dear little wife!" I laughed; "when has woman hit upon a higher or better wisdom than that of making all happy in her own home? and you half asleep, too."
"Then I'll bid you good-night at once, before I say something awfully stupid."
Soon the old house was quiet. The wind had utterly ceased. I opened the door a moment, and looked on the white, still world without. The stars glittered frostily through the rifts in the clouds. Schunemunk Mountain was a shadow along the western horizon, and the eastern highlands banked up and blended with the clouds. Nature has its restless moods, its storms and passions, like human life; but there are times of tranquillity and peace, even in March. How different was this scene from the aspect of our city street when I had taken my farewell look at a late hour the previous night! No grand sweeping outlines there, no deep quiet and peace, soothing and at the same time uplifting the mind. Even at midnight there is an uneasy fretting in city life—some one not at rest, and disturbing the repose of others.
I stole silently through the house. Here, too, all seemed in accord with nature. The life of a good old man had quietly ceased in this home; new, hopeful life was beginning. Evil is everywhere in the world, but it seemed to me that we had as safe a nook as could be found.
SELF-DENIAL AND ITS REWARD
I remember little that followed until I was startled out of my chair by a loud knocking. The sunlight was streaming in at the window and John Jones's voice was at the door.
"I think we have all overslept," I said, as I admitted him.
"Not a bit of it. Every wink you've had after such a day as yesterday is like money put in the bank. But the sleighing is better now than it will be later in the day. The sun'll be pretty powerful by noon, and the snow'll soon be slush. Now's your chance to get your traps up in a hurry. I can have a two-hoss sled ready in half an hour, and if you say so I can hire a big sleigh of a neighbor, and we'll have everything here by dinner-time. After you get things snug, you won't care if the bottom does fall out of the roads for a time. Well, you HAVE had to rough it. Merton might have come and stayed with us."
"Oh, I'm all right," said the boy, rubbing his eyes open as he rose from the floor, at the same time learning from stiff joints that a carpet is not a mattress.
"Nothing would suit me better, Mr. Jones, than your plan of prompt action, and I'm the luckiest man in the world in having such a long- headed, fore-handed neighbor to start with. I know you'll make a good bargain for the other team, and before I sleep to-night I wish to square up for everything. I mean at least to begin business in this way at Maizeville."
"Oh, go slow, go slow!" said Mr. Jones. "The town will mob you if they find you've got ready money in March. John junior will be over with a pot of coffee and a jug of milk in a few minutes, and we'll be off sharp."
There was a patter of feet overhead, and soon Bobsey came tearing down, half wild with excitement over the novelty of everything. He started for the door as if he were going head first into the snow.
I caught him, and said: "Do you see that chair? Well, we all have a busy day before us. You can help a good deal, and play a little, but you can't hinder and pester according to your own sweet will one bit. You must either obey orders or else be put under arrest and tied in the chair."
To go into the chair to-day would be torture indeed, and the little fellow was sobered at once.
The others soon joined us, eager to see everything by the broad light of day, and to enter upon the task of getting settled. We had scarcely come together before John junior appeared with the chief features of our breakfast. The children scanned this probable playmate very curiously, and some of us could hardly repress a smile at his appearance. He was even more sandy than his father. Indeed his hair and eyebrows were nearly white, but out of his red and almost full-moon face his mother's black eyes twinkled shrewdly. They now expressed only good-will and bashfulness. Every one of us shook hands with him so cordially that his boy's heart was evidently won.