Compiled and Edited by
MARGARET E. SANGSTER.
PUBLISHED BY THE CHRISTIAN HERALD LOUIS KLOPSCH, Proprietor, BIBLE HOUSE, NEW YORK.
Copyright, 1896, BY LOUIS KLOPSCH.
To John and Jane, to Fred and Frank, To Theodore and Mary, To Willie and to Reginald, To Louis, Sue and Gary; To sturdy boys and merry girls, And all the dear young people Who live in towns, or live on farms, Or dwell near spire or steeple; To boys who work, and boys who play, Eager, alert and ready, To girls who meet each happy day With faces sweet and steady; To dearest comrades, one and all, To Harry, Florrie, Kate, To children small, and children tall, This book I dedicate.
Boys and girls, I am proud to call a host of you my personal friends, and I dearly love you all. It has been a great pleasure to me to arrange this gift book for you, and I hope you will like the stories and ballads, and spend many happy hours over them. One story, "The Middle Daughter," was originally published in Harper's "Round Table," and is inserted here by consent of Messrs. Harper and Brothers. Two of the ballads, "Horatius," and "The Pied Piper," belong to literature, and you cannot afford not to know them, and some of the fairy stories are like bits of golden coin, worth treasuring up and reading often. Miss Mary Joanna Porter deserves the thanks of the boys for the aid she has given in the making of this volume, and the bright stories she has contributed to its pages.
A merry time to you, boys and girls, and a heart full of love from your steadfast friend,
PAGE 1. The Clover Leaf Club of Bloomdale. By M.E. Sangster 9
2. The Lighthouse Lamp. By M.E. Sangster. 71
3. The Family Mail-bag. By Mary Joanna Porter 73
4. A Day's Fishing. By Mary Joanna Porter 79
5. Why Charlie Didn't Go. By Mary Joanna Porter 85
6. Uncle Giles' Paint Brush. By Mary Joanna Porter 91
7. The Pied Piper of Hamelin. By Robert Browning 95
8. A Girl Graduate. By Cynthia Barnard 104
9. A Christmas Frolic. By M.E. Sangster 116
10. Archie's Vacation. By Mary Joanna Porter 119
11. A Birthday Story. By M.E. Sangster 124
12. A Coquette. By Amy Pierce 130
13. Horatius. Ballad. By T.B. Macaulay 131
14. A Bit of Brightness. By Mary Joanna Porter 151
15. How Sammy Earned the Prize. By M.E. Sangster 157
16. The Glorious Fourth 162
17. The Middle Daughter. By M.E. Sangster 163
18. The Golden Bird. By the Brothers Grimm. 226
19. Harry Pemberton's Text. By Elizabeth Armstrong 239
20. Our Cats 246
21. Outovplace 252
22. The Boy Who Dared to be a Daniel. By S. Jennie Smith 254
23. Little Red Cap. By the Brothers Grimm. 259
24. New Zealand Children 266
25. The Breeze from the Peak 271
26. The Bremen Town Musicians. By the Brothers Grimm 276
27. A Very Queer Steed and Some Strange Adventures. Told after Ariosto, by Elizabeth Armstrong 282
28. Freedom's Silent Host. By M.E. Sangster 292
29. Presence of Mind. By M.E. Sangster 294
30. The Boy Who Went from the Sheepfold to the Throne. By M.E. Sangster 312
Holiday Stories for Young People
The Clover Leaf Club of Bloomdale
BY MARGARET E. SANGSTER.
THE HEROINE PRESENTS HERSELF.
My name is Milly Van Doren, and I am an only child. I won't begin by telling you how tall I am, how much I weigh, and the color of my eyes and hair, for you would not know very much more about my looks after such an inventory than you do without it, and mother says that in her opinion it is pleasantest to form one's own idea of a girl in a story book. Mother says, too, that a good rule in stories is to leave out introductions, and so I will follow her advice and plunge into the middle of my first morning. It was early summer and very lovely, and I was feeling half-sad and half-glad, with the gladness surpassing the sadness, because I had never before been half so proud and important.
Father and mother, after talking and planning and hesitating over it a long while, were actually going on a journey just by themselves and without me; and I, being now considered old enough and steady enough, was to stay at home, keep house, and take care of dear grandmamma. With Aunt Hetty at the helm, the good old servant, whose black face had beamed over my cradle fifteen years ago, and whose strong arms had come between mother and every roughness during her twenty years of housekeeping, it really looked as if I might be trusted, and as if mother need not give me so many anxious directions. Did mother think me a baby? I wondered resentfully. Father always reads my face like an open page.
"Thee may leave something to Milly's discretion, dear," he said, in his slow, stately way.
"Thee forgets her inexperience, love," said my gentle mother.
Father and mother are always courtly and tender with one another, never hasty of speech, never impatient. They have been lovers, and then they are gentlefolk. Father waited, and mother kept on telling me about grandmamma and the cat, the birds and the best china, the fire on the hearth in cool evenings, and the last year's canned fruit, which might as well be used up while she was away, particularly the cherries and plums.
"May the girls come over often?" I asked.
"Whenever you like," said mother. "Invite whom you please, of course."
Here father held up his watch warningly. It was time to go, if they were to catch the train. Arm in arm they walked down the long avenue to the gate, after bidding me good-bye. Grandmamma watched them, waving her handkerchief from the window of her room over the porch, and at the last moment I rushed after them for a final kiss and hug.
"Be good, dear child, and let who will be clever," said father, with a twinkle in his eye.
"Don't forget to count the silver every morning," said mother.
And so my term of office began. Bloomdale never wore a brighter face than during that long vacation—a vacation which extended from June till October. We girls had studied very diligently all winter. In spring there had been scarlet fever in the village, and our little housekeepers, for one cause or another, had seldom held meetings; and some of the mothers and older sisters declared that it was just what they had expected, our ardor had cooled, and nothing was coming of our club after all that had been said when we organized.
As president of the Bloomdale Clover Leaf Club I determined that the club should now make up for lost time, and having carte-blanche from mother, as I supposed, I thought I would set about work at once. Cooking was our most important work, and there's no fun in cooking unless eating is to follow; so the club should be social, and give luncheons, teas and picnics, at which we might have perfectly lovely times. I saw no reason for delay, and with my usual impulsiveness, consulted nobody about my first step.
And thus I made mistake number one. Cooking and housekeeping always look perfectly easy on paper. When you come to taking hold of them in real earnest with your own hands you find them very different and much harder.
Soon after I heard the train whistle, and knew that father and mother were fairly gone, I harnessed old Fan to the phaeton, and set out to visit every one of the girls with an invitation to tea the very next evening. I did put my head into grandmamma's chamber to tell her what I thought of doing, but the dear old lady was asleep in her easy-chair, her knitting lying in her lap, and I knew she did not wish to be disturbed. I closed the door softly and flew down stairs.
Just as I was ready to start, Aunt Hetty came to the kitchen door, calling me, persuasively: "Miss Milly, honey, what yo' done mean to hab for dinner?"
"Oh, anything you please, aunty," I called back, gathering up the reins, chirping to Fan, and taking the road to the Curtis girls' house. Certainly I had no time to spend consulting with Aunt Hetty.
Mother knew me better than father did. I found out later that this wasn't at all a proper way to keep house, giving no orders, and leaving things to the discretion, of the cook. But I hadn't really begun yet, and I was wild to get the girls together.
Bloomdale is a sort of scattered up-hill and down-dale place, with one long and broad street running through the centre of the village, and houses standing far apart from each other, and well back from the pavement in the middle of the green lawns, swept into shadow by grand old trees. The Bloomdale people are proud of the town, and keep the gardens beautiful with flowers and free from weeds. Life in Bloomdale would be perfectly delightful, all the grown-up people say, if it were not for the everlasting trouble about servants, who are forever changing their places and going away, and complaining that the town is dull, and their church too distant, and life inconvenient; and so every one envies my mother, who has kept Hetty all these years, and never had any trouble at all.
At least I fancied that to be so, till I was a housekeeper myself, and found out that Aunt Hetty had spells of temper and must be humored, and was not perfect, any more than other people vastly above her in station and beyond her in advantages.
I stopped for Linda Curtis, and she jumped into the phaeton and went with me. We asked Jeanie Cartwright, Veva Fay, Lois Partridge, Amy Pierce and Marjorie Downing to tea the next day, and every girl of them promised to come bright and early.
When I reached home I ran to grandmamma to ask her if I had done right, and to get her advice about what I would better have for my bill of fare.
"Thee is too precipitate, dear child," said grandmamma. "Why not have waited two or three days before having a company tea? I fear much that Hetty will be contrary, and not help as she ought. And I have one of my headaches coming."
"Oh, grandmamma!" I exclaimed. "Have you taken your pills?" I was aghast.
"Thee needn't worry, dear," replied grandmamma, quite unruffled. "I have taken them, and if the headache does not vanish before dark, I'll sleep in the south chamber to-night, and be out of the way of the stir to-morrow. I wish, though, Aunt Hetty were not in a cross fit."
"It is shameful," I said. "Aunt Hetty has been here so long that she does not know her place. I shall not be disturbed by her moods."
So, holding my head high, I put on my most dignified manner and went to the kitchen. Aunt Hetty, in a blue gingham gown, with a gay kerchief tied on her head, was slowly and pensively rocking herself back and forth in her low chair. She took no notice of me whatever.
"Aunt Hetty!" This time I spoke louder.
Still she rocked back and forth, apparently as deaf as a post. I grew desperate, and, going up to her, put my hand on her shoulder, saying:
"Aunt Hetty, aren't we to have our dinner? The fire seems to be out."
She shook off my hand and slowly rose, looking glum and preoccupied.
"Didn't hear no orders for dinner, Miss Alice."
"Now, Aunt Hetty," I remonstrated, "why will you be so horrid? You know I am the housekeeper when mother is away, and you're going to spoil everything, and make her wish she hadn't gone. How can I manage if you won't help? Come, be good," I pleaded.
But nothing moved her from her stony indifference, and I went back to grandmamma in despair. I was about to pour all my woes in her ear, but a glance at her pale face restrained me.
She was going to have a regular Van Doren headache.
"We never have headaches like other people."
How many times I have heard my aunts and uncles say this in just these words! They do not think me half a Van Doren because, owing to my mother's way of bringing me up, I have escaped the family infliction. In fact, I am half a Neilson, and the Neilsons are a healthy everyday set, who do not have aches and pains, and are seldom troubled with nerves. Plebeian, perhaps, but very comfortable.
I rushed back to the den of Aunt Hetty, as I now styled the kitchen. She was pacing back and forth like a lioness in a cage at a show, singing an old plantation melody. That was a sign that her fit of temper was worse than ever. Little I cared.
"Hetty Van Doren," I said, "stop sulking and singing! There isn't time for either. Poor grandmamma has a fearful headache, and you and I will have to take care of her. Put some water on to boil, and then come up to her room and help me. And don't sing 'Go down, Moses,' another minute."
I had used two arguments which were powerful with Aunt Hetty. One was calling her Hetty Van Doren. She liked to be considered as belonging to the family, and no compliment could have pleased her more. She often said she belonged to the Kentucky noblesse, and held herself far above common trash.
The other was my saying you and I. She was vexed that mother had left me—a baby, in her opinion—to look after the house, and rather resented my assuming to be the mistress. By my happy form of speech I pleased the droll old woman, who was much like a child herself. Then, too, she was as well aware as I was that grandmamma's pain would grow worse and worse every hour until it was relieved.
It was surprising how quickly aunty moved when she chose. She had a fire made and the kettle on to boil in five minutes; and, almost before I knew it, she had set cold chicken, and nice bread and butter and a great goblet of creamy milk on the table for me.
"There, honey," she said, "don't mind dis hateful ole woman. Eat your luncheon, while I go up and help ole miss to bed."
A hot-water bag for her feet, warm bandages laid on her head, some soothing medicine which she always took, and Hetty and I at last left grandmamma more comfortable than we found her. It was funny, as I thought of it afterward. In one of her worst paroxysms the dear lady gasped, a word at a time:
Aunt Hetty looked as if she thought grandmamma must be raving. I nodded that it was all right, and up went the two black hands in expostulation and amazement.
But a while later a savory smell of boiling ham came appetizingly wafted up the stairs. I drew a free breath. I knew the girls would at least have something to eat, and my hospitality would not be shamed.
So toward evening I made grandmamma a cup of tea. It is not every one who knows how to make tea. The water must boil and bubble up. It isn't fully boiling when the steam begins to rise from the spout, but if you will wait five minutes after that it will be just right for use. Pour a very little into the teapot, rinse it, and pour the water out, and then put in your tea. No rule is better than the old one of a teaspoonful for every cup, and an extra one for the pot. Let this stand five minutes where it will not boil, and it will be done. Good tea must be steeped not boiled. Mother's way is to make hers on the table. I have been drilled over and over in tea making, and am skillful.
I made some dainty slices of toast in this way: I cut off the crust and put it aside for a pudding, and as the oven was hot, I placed the bread in a pan, and let it lean against the edge in a slanting position. When it was a pale golden brown I took it out, and carried it to grandmamma. The object of toasting bread is to get the moisture out of it. This is more evenly done in the oven than over the fire. Toast should not be burned on one side and raw on the other; it should be crisp and delicate all through.
My tea and toast were delicious, and tasted all the better for being arranged in the prettiest china we had and on our daintiest salver.
The next morning grandmamma was better, and I had my hands full.
COMPANY TO TEA, AND SOME RECEIPTS.
You remember that grandmamma in the very middle of her headache gave orders about boiling the ham and the tongue.
We made a rule after that, and Veva, who was secretary, wrote it in the club's book: "Always begin getting ready for company the day before."
I had not noticed it then, but it is mother's way, and it saves a great deal of confusion. If everything is left for the day on which the company is expected, the girl who is hostess will be much too tired to enjoy her friends. She ought to have nothing on her mind which can worry her or keep her from entering into their pleasure. A hurried, worried hostess makes her guests feel somehow in a false position.
Our house was, fortunately, in excellent order, so I had nothing to do except, in the morning, to set the table prettily, to dust the parlors, to put fresh flowers in the vases, and give a dainty finishing touch here and there to the rooms. There were plenty of pleasant things to do. I meant to have tea over early, and then some of the club's brothers would be sure to come in, and we could play tennis on our ground, and perhaps have a game of croquet. Then, when it was too dark for that sort of amusement, we could gather on the veranda or in the library, and have games there—Dumb Crambo and Proverbs, until the time came for the girls to go home.
First, however, the eating part of the entertainment had to be thought of.
Aunt Hetty was in a wonderful good humor, and helped with all her might, so that my preparations went on very successfully. Grandmamma felt so much better that I asked her advice, and this was the bill of fare which she proposed:
Ham Sandwiches. Cold Sliced Tongue. Quick Biscuits. Apple-Sauce. Strawberries and Cream. Tapioca Blanc-Mange. Cup-Cake. Cookies. Cocoa.
The ham, having been boiled till tender the afternoon before, was chopped very fine, a tiny dash of mustard added to it, and then it was spread smoothly between two pieces of the thinnest possible bread-and-butter. Around each of the sandwiches, when finished, I tied a very narrow blue ribbon. The effect was pretty.
The tongue was sliced evenly, and arranged on a plate with tender leaves of lettuce around its edge.
The biscuits I made myself. Mother taught me how. First I took a quart of flour, and dropped into it two teaspoonfuls of our favorite baking-powder. This I sifted twice, so that the powder and flour were thoroughly blended. Mother says that cakes and biscuits and all kinds of pastry are nicer and lighter if the flour is sifted twice, or even three times. I added now a tablespoonful of lard and a half teaspoonful of salt, and mixed the biscuit with milk. The rule is to handle as little as possible, and have the dough very soft. Roll into a mass an inch thick, and cut the little cakes apart with a tin biscuit-cutter. They must be baked in a very hot oven.
No little housekeeper need expect to have perfect biscuits the first time she makes them. It is very much like playing the piano. One needs practice. But after she has followed this receipt a half dozen times, she will know exactly how much milk she will require for her dough, and she will have no difficulty in handling the soft mass. A dust of flour over the hands will prevent it from sticking to them.
Mother always insists that a good cook should get all her materials together before she begins her work.
The way is to think in the first place of every ingredient and utensil needed, then to set the sugar, flour, spice, salt, lard, butter, milk, eggs, cream, molasses, flavoring, sieves, spoons, egg-beaters, cups, strainers, rolling-pins, and pans, in a convenient spot, so that you do not have to stop at some important step in the process, while you go to hunt for a necessary thing which has disappeared or been forgotten.
Mother has often told me of a funny time she had when she was quite a young housekeeper, afflicted with a borrowing neighbor. This lady seldom had anything of her own at hand when it was wanted, so she depended upon the obliging disposition of her friends.
One day my mother put on her large housekeeping apron and stepped across the yard to her outdoor kitchen. The kitchens in Kentucky were never a part of the house, but always at a little distance from it, in a separate building.
"Aunt Phyllis," said my mother to the cook, who was browning coffee grains in a skillet over the fire, "I thought I told you that I was coming here to make pound cake and cream pies this morning. Why is nothing ready?"
"La, me, Miss Emmeline!" replied Aunt Phyllis. "Miss 'Tilda Jenkins done carried off every pie pan and rolling-pin and pastry-board, and borrowed all de eggs and cream fo' herself. Her bakin' isn't mo'n begun."
This was a high-handed proceeding, but nothing could be done in the case. It was Mrs. Jenkins' habit, and mother had always been so amiable about it that the servants, who were easygoing, never troubled themselves to ask the mistress, but lent the inconvenient borrower whatever she desired.
Sometimes just as we were going to church, I was too little at the time to remember, mother said that a small black boy with very white teeth and a very woolly head, would pop up at her chamber door, exclaiming,
"Howdy, Miss Emmeline. Miss 'Tilda done sent me to borrow yo' Prayer-book. She goin' to church to-day herself."
Or, of a summer evening, her maid would appear with a modest request for Miss Emmeline's lace shawl and red satin fan; Miss 'Tilda wanted to make a call and had nothing to wear.
All this, I think, made mother perfectly set against our ever borrowing so much as a slatepencil or a pin. We were always to use our own things or go without. I never had a sister, but cousins often spent months at the house, and were in and out of my room in the freest way, forever bringing me their gloves to mend or their ties to clean, as cousins will.
"Never borrow," said my mother. "Buy, or give away, or do without, but be beholden to nobody for a loan."
Another rule for little housekeepers is to wash their hands and faces and have their hair in the nicest order before they begin to cook. The nails should be cleaned and the toilet attended to as carefully as if the girl were going to a party, before she begins any work in the kitchen.
I suppose you think my bill of fare for a company tea very plain, but I hadn't time for anything elaborate. Besides, if what you have is very good, and set on the table prettily, most people will be satisfied even if the fare is simple.
"Apple-sauce," said Amy one day, "is a dish I never touch. We used to have it so often at school that I grew tired at the sight of it."
But Amy did eat apple-sauce at our house. Aunt Hetty taught me how to make it, and I think it very good. We always cook it in an earthenware crock over a very quick fire. This is our receipt: Pare and slice the apples, eight large ones are sufficient for a generous dish, and put them on with a very little water. As soon as they are soft and pulpy stir in enough granulated sugar to make them as sweet as your father and brothers like them. Take them off and strain them through a fine sieve into a glass dish. Cook the apple-sauce about two hours before it is wanted on the table. Put beside it a bowl of whipped cream, and when you help to the sauce add a heaping spoonful of the cream to every dish.
People spoil apple-sauce by making it carelessly, so that it is lumpy and coarse, or has seeds or bits of the core sticking in it, and mother says that both apple-pies and apple-sauce should be used the day they are made. They lose their bouquet, the fine delicate flavor is all gone if you keep them long before using. A great divine used to say that "the natural life of an apple pie is just twelve hours."
Tapioca Blanc-Mange.—This is the receipt: One pint of fresh milk, three-quarters of a cupful of sugar, half a pound of tapioca soaked in cold water four hours, a small teaspoonful of vanilla, a pinch of salt. Heat the milk and stir in the tapioca previously soaked. Mix well and add the sugar. Boil it slowly fifteen minutes, then take it off and beat until nearly cold. Pour into moulds, and stand upon the ice.
This is very nice served with a teaspoonful of currant or raspberry jelly to each helping, and if cream is added it makes a beautiful dessert. This ought to be made the day before it is needed. I made mine before noon and it was quite ready, but you see it tired me to have it on my mind, and it might have been a failure.
Cup-Cake.—Three teacups of sifted sugar and one cup and a half of butter beaten to a cream, three eggs well beaten (white and yolks separately), three teacupfuls of sifted flour. Flavor with essence of lemon or rose water. A half teaspoonful is enough. Dissolve a teaspoonful of cream of tartar and a half teaspoonful of baking soda in a very little milk. When they foam, stir them quickly into the cake. Beat well until the mixture is perfectly smooth, and has tiny bubbles here and there on the surface. Bake in a very quick oven.
Cookies.—These were in the house. We always keep a good supply. One cup of butter, one of sugar, one of sour milk, half a nutmeg grated, one teaspoonful of saleratus dissolved in a little boiling water, flour enough to roll out the cookies. Cut into small round cakes and bake. Keep these in a close tin. They will last a long time unless the house is supplied with hungry school-boys.
Cocoa.—Two ounces of cocoa and one quart of boiling water. Boil together for a half hour on the back of the stove, then add a quart of milk and two tablespoonfuls of sugar. Boil for ten minutes and serve.
Everything on the table was enjoyed, and we girls had a very merry time. After tea and before the brothers came, we arranged a plan for learning to make bread. I forgot to speak of the strawberries, but good strawberries and rich cream need no directions. A pretty way of serving them for breakfast, or for people who prefer them without cream, is simply to arrange the beautiful fruit unhulled on a cut glass dish, and dip each berry by its dainty stem into a little sparkling mound of powdered sugar.
As for our games, our talk, our royally good time, girls will understand this without my describing it. As Veva said, you can't put the soul of a good time down on the club's record book, and I find I can't put it down here in black and white. But when we said good-night, each girl felt perfectly satisfied with the day, and the brothers pleaded for many more such evenings.
A FAIR WHITE LOAF.
"It's very well," said Miss Clem Downing, Marjorie's sister, "for you little housekeepers to make cakes and creams; anybody can do that; but you'll never be housekeepers in earnest, little or big, my dears, till you can make good eatable bread."
"Bread," said Mr. Pierce to Amy, "is the crowning test of housewifery. A lady is a loaf-giver, don't you know?"
"When Jeanie shall present me with a perfect loaf of bread, I'll present her with a five-dollar gold piece," said Jeanie's father.
"I don't want Veva meddling in the kitchen," observed Mrs. Fay, with emphasis. "The maids are vexatious enough, and the cook cross enough as it is. If ever Veva learns breadmaking, it must be outside of this house."
"Don't bother me, daughter," said Mrs. Partridge, looking up from the cup she was painting. "It will be time for you to learn breadmaking when the bakers shut their shops."
As for the writer of this story, her mother's way had been to teach her breadmaking when she was just tall enough to have a tiny moulding-board on a chair, but Milly did not feel qualified to take hold of a regular cooking class. It was the same with Linda Curtis. Grandmamma suggested our having a teacher, and paying her for her trouble.
"Miss Muffet?" said Veva.
"Miss Muffet," we all exclaimed.
"And then," said Jeanie, "our money will enable her to buy the winter cloak she is so much in need of, and she will not feel as if she were accepting charity, because she will earn the money if she teaches us."
"Indeed, she will," exclaimed Veva. "I know beforehand that she will have one fearfully stupid pupil, and that is Veva Fay."
Breakfast was no sooner over next morning, and grandmamma dressed and settled in comfort, than away we flew to our friend. "We," means Linda and myself. She is my nearest neighbor, and we often act for the club.
Miss Muffet lived by herself in a bit of a house, her only companions being a very deaf sister and a very noisy parrot.
"Passel o' girls! Passel o' girls!" screamed the parrot, as we lifted the latch and walked up the little bricked pathway, bordered with lady-slippers and prince's feather, to the porch, which was half hidden by clematis.
Miss Muffet was known to every man, woman and child in Bloomdale. She was sent for on every extra occasion, and at weddings, christenings and funerals, when there was more work than usual to be done, the little brisk woman, so quiet and so capable, was always on hand. She could do a little of everything, from seating Tommy's trousers to setting patches in Ellen's sleeves; from making lambrequins and table scarfs to laundrying lace curtains and upholstering furniture. As for cooking, preserving and canning, she was celebrated for miles around and beyond our township.
"Would Miss Muffet undertake to show a few girls how to make bread and rolls and biscuit and sally-lunn, and have patience with them till they were perfect little housekeepers, so far as bread was concerned."
It was some little time before we could make Miss Muffet understand our plan, and persuade her to let us pay for our lessons; but when she did understand, she entered into the plan with enthusiasm.
"La me! What a clever notion to be sure! Sister Jane, poor dear, would approve of it highly, if she weren't so deaf. Begin to-day? Well, well! You don't want the grass to grow under your feet, do you? All right! I'll be at your house, Milly, at six o'clock this evening to give the first lesson. Have the girls there, if you can. It's as easy to teach a dozen as one."
"Milly," said Linda, "the club ought to have a uniform and badges. I don't think a club is complete that hasn't a badge."
"We all have white aprons," I said.
"Yes; ordinary aprons, but not great kitchen aprons to cover us up from head to foot."
"Well, if the club adopts the plan it will not be hard to make such aprons. We must certainly have caps, and those should be thought of at once."
Grandmamma was always my resort when I was at my wits' end, and so I went to her with a question: "Had she anything which would do for our caps?"
"There must be something in my lower left-hand wardrobe drawer," said grandmamma, considering. "Thee may bring me a green bag, which thee will see in the far corner, and then we will talk about those caps in earnest."
That wonderful green bag proved a sort of fairy find. There were remnants of mull, Swiss, jaconet and other fabrics—white, plain and barred. Grandmamma cut us a pattern. At four the seven girls were assembled in her room. Jeanie on a hassock at her feet, the remainder grouped as they chose.
How our fingers flew! It was just a quarter to six when every cap was finished, and each girl had decided upon her special color. We hadn't the ribbon to make our bows, and were obliged to wait till somebody should go to the city to procure it; but each girl knew her favorite color, and that was a comfort. Linda Curtis chose blue, and I would wear rose-tints (my parents did not insist on my wearing Quaker gray, and I dressed like "the world's people"), Veva chose old gold, and each of the others had a preference.
"You will look like a field of daisies and clover, dearies," said grandmamma.
"There!" cried Jeanie. "Why not have a four-leaved clover as our badge? There isn't anything prettier."
The four-leaved clover carried the day, though one or two did speak for the daisy, the maiden-hair fern and the pussy willow. All this was before the subject of the national flower had been agitated.
"Where are my pupils?" Miss Muffet appeared promptly at the hour, and wore a most business-like air as she began her instructions. "Compressed yeast has found its way to Bloomdale, my dears," she said, "so that I shall not have to begin by telling you how to make yeast. That useful lesson may wait till another day. Before we do anything, I will give you some rules for good family bread, and you may write them down, if you please.
"1. Always sift your flour thoroughly."
Seven pencils wrote that rule in seven notebooks.
"2. Mix the dough as soft as it can be handled. You must never have it too stiff.
"3. Set it to rise in a moderately warm place.
"4. You cannot knead bread too much. The more it is kneaded the firmer, sweeter and lighter it will be."
When we had written this down Miss Muffet remarked:
"Mrs. Deacon Ead's bread always takes the prize at the county fair. It looks like pound-cake. I don't want you girls to make flabby, porous bread, full of air-holes. I want you to learn how to knead it till it is just like an India-rubber cushion."
"If the dough is soft won't it stick to our fingers?" said Marjorie, with a dainty little shiver.
"Powder your hands very lightly with flour. That will keep the dough from sticking," said Miss Muffet, "and you will gain a knack after a while.
"5. The oven must be steadily hot, but not too quick, for bread. Hold your hand in it while you count thirty, and it will be right for putting in your bread.
"6. Grease your pans.
"7. When taking bread from the oven loosen the loaves from the pans, stand them upright, and let them lean against something to keep them in that position. Cover them lightly with a cloth.
"8. Do not put them away until they are cold."
We all gathered about the table, but were disappointed that there was nothing for us to do except look on.
She took two quarts of flour and sifted it thoroughly into a large wooden bowl. In one pint of tepid water she dissolved a half-tablespoonful of salt and half a yeast cake. Pouring this into a hollow in the middle of the flour she gradually drew the flour into it from all sides, working it with swift, light touches until it was a compact mass. She pounced and pulled and beat this till it was as smooth and round as a ball, dusted a little flour over it, covered it with a thick cloth and set it aside.
"That is all that can be done to-night, girls," she said. "Be here every one of you at six in the morning, if Milly can be up so early. The bread will be ready then for another kneading. You must not overlook the fact, girls, that bread is not accommodating. It has to be attended to when the proper time comes, whether it is convenient for the maker or not. If neglected, it will be too light, or else heavy. Bread which is too light has a sour taste, and is just as unpalatable as that which is heavy, i.e., not raised enough, I mean."
In the morning our bread had risen to the top of the bowl, and had cracks running in a criss-cross manner over its surface. Miss Muffet was the first one to appear on the scene. She gave us a lesson in kneading. Such patting and pounding, throwing over, tossing back and forth, as she gave that poor dough. But the dough must have enjoyed it, for it seemed to grow lighter every minute.
After a full twenty minutes of this process the bread was set near the fire for a second rising. A half-hour passed. Miss Muffet took it in hand again, and again she pounced and patted, beat and pounded the helpless mass, this time dividing it into three small loaves, which she set near the fire for the final rising.
"Bread is nicer made in little loaves," she told us. "More convenient for use on the table, easier to bake, and less likely to become dry."
And now let me give you a receipt for Ingleside waffles. Mother considers these very good, and so do we girls who have tried them.
"Make one pint of Indian meal into mush the usual way, which is by stirring the meal into boiling water and letting it boil until it is thick. While hot put in a small lump of butter and a dessertspoonful of salt. Set the mush aside to cool. Beat separately the whites and yolks of four eggs until very light; add the eggs to the mush, and cream in by degrees one quart of wheat flour; add half a pint of buttermilk or sour cream, in which you have dissolved a half-teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda; add sweet milk enough to make a thin batter.
"Have the waffle-irons hot. They should be heated in advance, not to keep the batter waiting. Butter them thoroughly and half fill them with the batter. Bake over a quick fire."
I never eat waffles without thinking of a pleasant home where two girls and a boy who read this paper have good times every summer. They often go out on the bay for an afternoon sail, and come home in the rosy sunset in time for waffles. Waffles, with sugar and cream, are a very nice addition to a supper table.
Another receipt of Miss Muffet's:
Delicious Corn Muffins.—One pint of corn meal sifted, one egg, one pint of sweet milk, a teaspoonful of butter, and half a teaspoonful of salt. Pour this mixture into muffin-rings and bake in a very quick oven.
This receipt is one that mother sometimes uses on a cold winter evening when she has nothing else hot for supper. They are great favorites in our household.
HOW TO SWEEP.
In the first chapter of this story I spoke of the trouble housekeepers in Bloomdale had to get and keep good servants.
We Clover Leaf girls made up our minds that we would learn to be independent. We resolved to know how to do every sort of housework, so that we might assist our mothers whenever they needed us, and be ready for any emergency as it came along.
Aunt Hetty's daughter-in-law in Boston sent the poor old soul a letter which made her rather uneasy, and grandmamma thought that I might better let her go and pay Sally a visit while mother was away than to wait till her return.
"The fall dressmaking and cleaning will be coming on then," said grandmother, "and thee will be busy with school again. So if Hetty takes her vacation now, she will be here to help the dear mother then."
I agreed to this, for the chance of having the kitchen to myself was very tempting. The club was charmed; they said they would just live at our house and help me with all their might.
"Then you won't have Hetty's moods to worry you," said Veva, consolingly.
We had a good time. Nevertheless it was a happy day for me when Aunt Hetty, bag and baggage, came home a week sooner than she was expected. Nobody was looking for her; but the good old soul, having seen her relations, felt restless, and wanted to get home.
"Somefin done tole me, honey," she said, "that Aunt Hetty am wanted hyar, and sure enuf it's so. Yo' pa an' ma off on dey trabbles, and nobody but one pore lamb lef' to take car' ob de house an' de ole madam. I wouldn't hab gone only for dat no-account Sal anyhow."
I felt like a bird set free from a cage when Aunt Hetty appeared, and she came in the very nick of time, too, for that same day up rolled the stage, and out popped my great-aunt Jessamine (grandmamma's sister) from Philadelphia. The two old ladies had so much to tell one another that they had no need of me. So I went to the Downings', where the club was to hold a meeting, armed with brushes and brooms, taking a practical lesson in sweeping and dusting.
The Downings were without a maid, and we all turned in to help them. Alice, Nell, and Clem, the older sisters, accepted our offer joyfully, though I think their mother had doubts of the wisdom of setting so many of us loose in her house at once. But Linda Curtis and Jeanie Cartwright found that they were not needed and went home; Veva had a music lesson and was excused; Linda's mamma had taken her off on a jaunt for the day; and Amy could not be spared from home. Only Lois and I were left to help Marjorie, and, on the principle that many hands make light work, we distributed ourselves about the house under the direction of the elder Downing sisters.
Now, girls all, let me give you a hint which may save you lots of time and trouble. If sweeping and dusting are thoroughly done, they do not need to be done so very often. A room once put in perfect order, especially in a country village, where the houses stand like little islands in a sea of green grass, ought to stay clean a long time.
It is very different in a city, where the dust flies in clouds an hour after a shower, and where the carts and wagons are constantly stirring it up. Give me the sweet, clean country.
Mother's way is to carefully dust and wipe first with a damp and then with a dry cloth all the little articles of bric-a-brac, vases, small pictures, and curios, which we prize because they are pretty, after which she sets them in a closet or drawer quite out of the way. Then, with a soft cloth fastened over the broom, she has the walls wiped down, and with a hair brush which comes for the purpose she removes every speck of dust and cobweb from the cornices and corners. A knitted cover of soft lampwick over a broom is excellent for wiping a dusty or a papered wall.
Next, all curtains which cannot be conveniently taken down are shaken well and pinned up out of the way. Shades are rolled to the top. Every chair and table is dusted, and carried out of the room which is about to be swept. If there are books, they are dusted and removed, or if they are arranged on open shelves, they are first dusted and then carefully covered.
Mother's way is to keep a number of covers of old calico, for the purpose of saving large pieces of furniture, shelves and such things, which cannot be removed from their places on sweeping days.
It is easier, she says, to protect these articles than to remove the dust when it has once lodged in carvings and mouldings.
We girls made a frolic of our dusting, but we did it beautifully too. I suppose you have all noticed what a difference it makes in work whether you go at it cheerfully or go at it as a task that you hate. If you keep thinking how hard it is, and wishing you had somebody else to do it for you, and fretting and fuming, and pitying yourself, you are sure to have a horrid time. But if you take hold of a thing in earnest and call it fun, you don't get half so tired.
In sweeping take long light strokes, and do not use too heavy a broom.
"Milly," said Lois, "do you honestly think sweeping is harder exercise than playing tennis or golf?"
I hesitated. "I really don't know. One never thinks of hard or easy in any games out of doors; the air is so invigorating, they have a great advantage over house work in that way."
"Well, for my part," said Marjorie, "I like doing work that tells. There is so much satisfaction in seeing the figures in the carpet come out brightly under my broom. Alice, what did you do to make your reception-room so perfectly splendiferous? Girls, look here! You'd think this carpet had just come out of the warehouse."
"Mother often tells Aunt Hetty," said I, "to dip the end of the broom in a pail of water in which she has poured a little ammonia—a teaspoonful to a gallon. The ammonia takes off the dust, and refreshes the colors wonderfully. We couldn't keep house without it," I finished, rather proudly.
"Did you bring some from home?" asked Marjorie, looking hurt.
"Why, of course not! I asked your mother, and she gave me the bottle, and told me to take what I wanted."
"A little coarse salt or some damp tea-leaves strewed over a carpet before sweeping adds ease to the cleansing process," said Mrs. Downing, appearing on the scene and praising us for our thoroughness. "The reason is that both the salt and the tea-leaves being moist keep down the light floating dust, which gives more trouble than the heavier dirt. But now you will all be better for a short rest; so come into my snuggery, and have a gossip and a lunch, and then you may attack the enemy again."
"Mrs. Downing, you are a darling," exclaimed Lois, as we saw a platter of delicate sandwiches, and another of crisp ginger cookies, with a great pitcher of milk. "We didn't know that we were hungry; but now that I think about it, I, for one, am certain that I could not have lived much longer without something to supply the waste of my failing cellular tissue."
"I think," replied Mrs. Downing, "that we would often feel much better for stopping in our day's work to take a little rest. I often pause in the middle of my morning's work and lie down for a half-hour, or I send to the kitchen and have a glass of hot milk brought me, with a crust or a cracker. You girls would not wish to lie down, but you would often find that you felt much fresher if you just stopped and rested, or put on your jackets and hats and ran away for a breath of out-door air. You would come back to your work like new beings."
"Just as we did in school after recess," said Marjorie.
"Precisely. Change of employment is the best tonic."
Our luncheon over, and our rooms swept, rugs shaken, stairs and passages thoroughly brushed and wiped, we polished the windows with cloths dipped in ammonia water and wrung out, and followed them by a dry rubbing with soft linen cloths. Then it was time to restore the furniture to its place, and bring out the ornaments again from their seclusion.
Now we saw what an advantage we had gained in having prepared these before we began the campaign. In a very little while the work was done and the house settled, and so spotless and speckless we felt sure it would keep clean for weeks.
Mother's way is to use a patent sweeper daily in rooms which are occupied for sewing and other work, and she says that she does not find it necessary to give her rooms more than a light sweeping oftener than once in six weeks. Of course it would be different if we had a large family.
Paint should be wiped, door-knobs polished, and a touch of the duster given to everything on these sweeping days.
The Clover Leaves voted that feather-dusters, as a rule, were a delusion. One often sees a girl, who looks very complacent as she flirts a feather-duster over a parlor, displacing the dust so that it may settle somewhere else. All dusted articles should be wiped off, and the dust itself gotten rid of, by taking it out of the house, and leaving it no chance to get back on that day at least.
When I reached home in time for our one o'clock dinner, I found Great-aunt Jessamine and grandmamma both waiting for me, and the former, who was a jolly little old lady, was quite delighted over the Bloomdale girls and their housekeeping.
"All is," she said, "will those Downings do as well when there are no other girls to make them think the work is play?"
"Oh!" answered grandmamma, "I never trouble my head about what folks will do in the future. I have enough to do looking after what they do in the present. Alice here gets along very well all by herself a great part of the time. By-the-way, child, did Aunt Hetty give thee mother's letter?"
I rushed off to get my treasure. It would soon be the blessed day when I might expect a letter telling me when my father and mother would be at home again.
A LITTLE OF EVERYTHING.
Just as I began to be a wee little bit tired of housework, and to feel that I would like nothing so much as a day with my birds, my fancy-work, and a charming story-book, what should happen but that grandmamma's headache and Aunt Hetty's "misery in her bones" should both come at once.
Tap, tap, tap on the floor above my head in the early dawn came grandmamma's ebony stick.
Veva Fay and Marjorie Downing were both spending the night with me. Veva had slept on the wide, old-fashioned lounge in the corner, and Marjorie in the broad couch with me, and we had all talked till it was very late, as girls always do when they sleep in one room, unless, of course, they are sisters, or at school, and used to it.
I had a beautiful room. It ran half across the front of the house, and had four great windows, a big fire-place, filled in summer with branches of cedar, or bunches of ferns, growing in a low box, and filling the great space with cool green shade, and in winter the delight of the girls, because of the famous hickory fires which blazed there, always ready to light at a touch.
In one corner stood my mahogany desk, above it a lovely picture of the Madonna and Child. Easy-chairs were standing around, and there were hassocks and ottomans in corners and beside the windows. My favorite engraving—a picture representing two children straying near a precipice, fearing no danger, and just ready to fall, when behind them, sweeping softly down, comes their guardian angel—hung over the mantel.
How much pleasure I took in that room, in the book shelves always full, in the pretty rugs and the cool matting and the dainty drapery, all girls can imagine. It was my own Snuggery, and I kept it in the loveliest good order, as mother liked me to.
Tap, tap, tap.
"Goodness!" cried Veva, only half awake.
"What is that? Mice?" said Marjorie, timidly.
"Burglars!" exclaimed Veva.
"Hush, girls!" I said, shaking off my drowsiness. "It's poor grandmamma, and she has one of her fearfulest headaches. It's two weeks since she had the last, so one may be expected about now. The tap means, 'Come to me, quickly.'"
I ran to the door, and said, "Coming, grandmamma!" slipped my feet into my soft knitted shoes, and hurried my gray flannel wrapper on, then hastened to her bedside. I found that grandmamma was not so very ill, only felt unable to get up to breakfast with us, and wanted some gruel made as soon as possible.
"I've been waiting to hear some stir in the house," she said, "but nobody seemed to be awake. Isn't it later than usual, girlie?"
I tiptoed over to grandmamma's mantel, and looked at her little French clock. It was late! Eight, and past, and Hetty had not called us. What could be the matter?
Down I flew to find out what ailed Aunt Hetty. She was usually an early riser.
Before I reached her room, which was on the same floor with the kitchen, I heard groans issuing from it, and Hetty's voice saying: "Dear me! Oh, dear me!" in the most despairing, agonizing tones. Hetty always makes the most of a "misery in her bones."
"What is it, aunty?" I asked, peering into the room, which she would keep as dark as a pocket.
"De misery in my bones, child! De ole king chills! Sometimes I'm up! Sometimes I'm down!"
The bed shook under the poor thing, and I ran out to ask Patrick to go for the doctor, while I made the fire, and called the girls to help prepare breakfast.
First in order after lighting the fire, which being of wood blazed up directly that the match was applied to the kindlings, came the making of the corn-meal gruel.
A tablespoonful of corn meal wet with six tablespoonfuls of milk, added one by one, gradually, so that the meal is quite free from lumps. One pint of boiling water, and a little salt. You must stir the smooth mixture of the meal and milk into the boiling water. It will cool it a little, and you must stir it until it comes to a boil, then stand it back, and let it simmer fifteen minutes.
The doctor was caught by Patrick just leaving his house to go to a patient ten miles off. He prescribed for Aunt Hetty, looked in upon grandmamma, and told me to keep up my courage, I was a capital little nurse, and he would rather have me to take care of him than anybody else he knew, if he were ill, which he never was.
He drove off in his old buggy, leaving three little maids watching him with admiring eyes. We all loved Doctor Chester. "Now, girls," I said, "we must get our breakfast. We cannot live on air."
Marjorie brought the eggs and milk. Veva cut the bread and picked the blackberries. I put the pan on to heat for the omelette, and this is the way we made it:
Three eggs, broken separately and beaten hard—
"In making an omelette, Children, you see, The longer you beat it, The lighter 'twill be,"
hummed Marjorie, add a teaspoonful of milk, and beat up with the eggs; beat until the very last moment when you pour into the pan, in which you have dropped a bit of butter, over the hot fire. As soon as it sets, move the pan to a cooler part of the stove, and slip a knife under the edge to prevent its sticking to the pan; when it is almost firm in the middle, slant the pan a little, slip your knife all the way round the edge to get it free, then tip it over in such a way that it will fold as it falls on the plate.
You should serve an omelette on a hot plate, and it requires a little dexterity to learn how to take it out neatly.
Veva exclaimed, "Oh, Milly, you forgot the salt!"
"No," I explained; "French cooks declare that salt should never be mixed with eggs when they are prepared for omelette. It makes the omelette tough and leathery. A little salt, however, may be sprinkled upon it just before it is turned out upon the dish."
Here is another receipt, which Jeanie copied out of her mother's book:
"Six eggs beaten separately, a cup of milk, a teaspoonful of corn-starch mixed smoothly in a little of the milk, a tablespoonful of melted butter, a dash of pepper, and a sprinkle of salt. Beat well together, the yolks of the eggs only being used in this mixture. When thoroughly beaten add the foaming whites and set in a very quick oven."
It will rise up as light as a golden puff ball, but it must not be used in a family who have a habit of coming late to breakfast, because, if allowed to stand, this particular omelette grows presently as flat as a flounder.
After breakfast came the task of washing the dishes. Is there anything which girls detest as they do this everyday work? Every day? Three times a day, at least, it must be done in most houses, and somebody must do it.
Veva said: "I'd like to throw the dishes away after every meal. If a fairy would offer me three wishes the first one I'd make would be never to touch a dishcloth again so long as I lived."
"Oh, Veva!" exclaimed Marjorie. "Think of the lovely china the Enderbys have, and the glass which came to Mrs. Curtis from her great-grandmother. Would you like a piece of that to be broken if it were yours?"
"No-o-o!" acknowledged Veva. "But our dishes are not so sacred, and our Bridgets break them regularly. We are always having to buy new ones as it is. Mamma groans, and sister Constance sighs, and Aunt Ernie scolds, but the dishes go."
"Mother thinks that the old-fashioned gentlewomen, who used to wash the breakfast things themselves, were very sensible and womanly."
Eva shrugged her plump shoulders, but took a towel to wipe the silver. I had gathered up the dishes, and taken my own way of going about this piece of work.
First I took a pan of hot water in which I had dissolved a bit of soap, and I attacked the disagreeable things—the saucepans and broilers and pots and pans. They are very useful, but they are not ornamental. All nice housekeepers are very particular to cleanse them thoroughly, removing every speck of grease from both the outside and the inside, and drying them until they shine.
It isn't worth while to ruin your hands or make them coarse and rough when washing pots and pans. I use a mop, and do not put my hands into the hot, greasy water. Mother says one may do housework and look like a lady if she has common sense.
I finished the pots and pans and set my cups and saucers in a row, my plates scraped and piled together, my silver in the large china bowl, and my glasses were all ready for the next step. I had two pans, one half-filled with soapy, the other with clear water, and having given my dainty dishes a bath in the first I treated them to a dip in the second, afterward letting them drain for a moment on the tray at my right hand. Veva and Marjorie wiped the silver and glass with the soft linen towels which are kept for these only; next I took my plates, then the platters, and finally the knives. Just as we finished the last dish I heard grandmother's tap, tap on the floor over my head.
There's an art in everything, even in washing dishes. I fancy one might grow fond of it, if only one took an interest in always doing it well.
Perhaps it is because my parents are Friends, and I have been taught that it is foolish to be flurried and flustered and to hurry over any work, but I do think that one gets along much faster when one does not make too much haste.
I do hope I may always act just as mother does, she is so sweet and peaceful, never cross, never worried. Now, dear grandmamma is much more easily vexed. But then she is older and she has the Van Doren headaches.
Tap, tap came the call of the ebony stick. I ran up to grandmamma's room.
A CANDY PULL.
Of all things in the world, what should grandmamma propose but my sending for Miss Muffet! Great-aunt Jessamine had gone away long before.
"I believe it was to-day that the girls meant to have the candy pull at Jeanie's, wasn't it?" grandmamma asked.
"Yes, darling grandmamma," I said, "they may have it; but I am not going to desert you."
"Thee is very kind, dearie," replied grandmamma; "but I need only quiet, and Hetty will come out of her attack just as well without thee as with thee. I particularly wish that thee would go. How is thee to have the fair unless thee has the candy pull? The time is passing, too. It will soon be school and lessons again."
So, at grandmamma's urging, I went for Miss Muffet. The little woman came without much delay, and took hold, as she expressed it, looking after both our invalids; and in the meantime telling me how to broil a steak for my grandmamma's and our own dinner, and how to fry potatoes so that they should not be soaked with grease.
A girl I know gained a set of Dickens' works by broiling a steak so as to please her father, who was a fastidious gentleman, and said he wanted it neither overdone nor underdone, but just right.
For broiling you need a thick steak, a clear fire, and a clean gridiron. Never try to broil meat over a blaze. You must have a bed of coals, with a steady heat. The steak must not be salted until you have turned each side to the fire; and it must be turned a good many times and cooked evenly. It will take from five to seven minutes to broil it properly, and it will then have all the juices in, and be fit for a king.
I don't know that kings have any better food than other gentlemen, but one always supposes that they will have the very best.
A steak may be cooked very appetizingly in the frying pan; but the pan must be very hot, and have no grease in it. Enough of that will ooze from the fat of the steak to keep it from sticking fast. A good steak cooked in a cold frying-pan and simmering in grease is an abomination. So declares Miss Muffet, and all epicures with her.
To fry potatoes or croquettes or any other thing well, one must have plenty of lard or butter or beef drippings, as she prefers, and let it boil. It should bubble up in the saucepan, and there should be enough of it to cover the wire basket in which the delicately sliced potatoes are laid—a few at time—to cook. They will not absorb fat, because the heat, when the first touch of it is given, will form a tight skin over them, and the grease cannot pierce this. They will be daintily brown, firm and dry.
But this isn't telling of our candy pull.
We had set our hearts on having fun and doing good—killing two birds with one stone, as Al Fay said. But I do not approve of that proverb, for certainly no girl ever wishes to kill a bird; no more does a decent boy think of such a thing.
We resolved to have a fair and to sell candy at it, making every bit ourselves.
Therefore we had sent out some invitations to girls not of the club, and to some of the nicest boys. They were as follows:
The Clover Leaf Club of Bloomdale requests the pleasure of your company at the house of Miss Jeanie Cartwright, on Friday evening, September 8, at eight o'clock. Candy pull.
MILLY VAN DOREN, President.
LOIS PARTRIDGE, Secretary.
I had my doubts all day as to whether it would be right for me to go; but about four o'clock Aunt Hetty, looking as well as ever, came out of her room in a stiffly starched gingham gown, and proceeded to cook for herself a rasher of bacon and some eggs. Grandmamma was up and reading one of her favorite books; and Miss Muffett, who had stepped over to her house to attend to her sister and the parrot, came back declaring her intention to stay all night.
"So, my darling child, you may go, and welcome."
Away went my doubts and fears, and I tripped merrily down the street to Jeanie's, feeling the happier for a letter from mother, which I found at the post office.
Our candy was to be sold for a cent a stick, but the sticks were not scanty little snips by any means. Mrs. Cartwright made us a present of the molasses, Lois brought the sugar from home, Al Fay brought the saleratus, Patty remembered about the vinegar, and Marjorie produced the butter.
These were the ingredients: a half-gallon of New Orleans molasses, a cup of vinegar, a piece of butter as large as two eggs, a good teaspoonful of saleratus dissolved in hot water.
We melted the sugar in the vinegar, stirred it into the molasses, and let it come to the boil, stirring steadily. The boys took turns at this work.
When the syrup began to thicken we dropped in the saleratus, which makes it clear; then flouring our hands, each took a position, and pulled it till it was white.
The longer we pulled, the whiter it grew. We ate some of it, but we girls were quite firm in saving half for our sale.
Then we made maple-sugar caramels. Have you ever tried them? They are splendid. You must have maple sugar to begin with; real sugar from the trees in Vermont if you can get it. You will need a deep saucepan. Then into a quart of fresh sweet milk break two pounds of sugar. Set it over the fire. As the sugar melts, it will expand. Boil, boil, boil, stir, stir, stir. Never mind if your face grows hot. One cannot make candy sitting in a rocking-chair with a fan. One doesn't calculate to, as Great-aunt Jessamine always says.
The way to test it when you think it is done is to drop a portion in cold water. If brittle enough to break, it is done. Pour into square buttered pans, and mark off while soft into little squares with a knife.
Some people like cream candy. It is made in this way: three large cupfuls of loaf-sugar, six tablespoonfuls of water. Boil, without stirring, in a bright tin pan until it will crisp in water like molasses candy. Flavor it with essence of lemon or vanilla; just before it is done, add one teaspoonful of cream of tartar. Powder your hands with flour, and pull it until it is perfectly white.
Plain Caramels.—One pound of brown sugar, a quarter of a pound of chocolate, one pint of cream, one teaspoonful of butter, two tablespoonfuls of molasses. Boil for thirty minutes, stirring all the time; test by dropping into cold water. Flavor with vanilla, and mark off as you do the maple caramels.
Home-made candy is sure to be of good materials, and will seldom be harmful unless the eater takes a great quantity. Then the pleasure of making it counts for something.
Our little fair was held the day after the candy pull, and the boys put up a tent for us in Colonel Fay's grounds. Admission to the tent was five cents. We sold candy, cake, ice-cream, and—home-made bread, and our gains were nineteen dollars and ten cents. There were an apron table, and a table where we sold pin-cushions and pen-wipers; but our real profits came from the bread, which the girls' fathers were so proud of that they bought it at a dollar a loaf. With the money which came from the fair, we sent two little girls, Dot and Dimpsie, our poorest children in Bloomdale, where most people were quite comfortably off, to the seaside for three whole weeks.
I do not know what we would have done in Bloomdale if Dot and Dimpsie had not had a father who would rather go off fishing, or lounge in the sun telling stories, than support his family. Everybody disapproved of Jack Roper, but everybody liked his patient little wife and his two dear little girls, and we all helped them on.
There was no excuse for Jack. He was a tall, strong man, a good hunter, fisher and climber, a sailor whenever he could get the chance to go off on a cruise; but he would not work steadily. He did not drink, or swear, or abuse his wife; but he did not support her, and if people called him Shiftless Jack, he only laughed.
As he was the only person in Bloomdale who behaved in this way, we did what mother calls condoning his offences—we called on him for odd jobs of repairing and for errands and extra work, such as lighting fires and carrying coals in winter, shoveling snow and breaking paths, weeding gardens in summer, and gathering apples in the fall. We girls determined to take care of Dot and Dimpsie, and help Mrs. Roper along.
They were two dear little things, and Mrs. Roper was very glad of our assistance.
* * * * *
Mother's way in one particular is different from that of some other people. Veva Fay and Lois Partridge never have any money of their own. They always ask their parents for what they want. If Lois' papa is in a happy frame of mind, he will give her a five-dollar gold piece, and say: "There, go along, little girl, and buy as many bonbons as you please. When that's gone, you know where to come for more."
If he happens to be tired, or if something in the city has gone wrong that day, he will very likely meet her modest request with a "Don't bother me, child! I won't encourage your growing up in foolish extravagance."
Veva's father and mother make such a pet of her that they cannot bear to deny her anything, and she will often order pretty things when she goes to town, and is out walking with her cousins, just because they are pretty, and not because she has any real use for them. If there were any beggars here, Veva would empty that little silken purse of hers every time she saw them, but the club has forbidden her to spoil Dot and Dimpsie in that way. And she is too much of a lady to outshine the rest of us.
Mother and father both believe in keeping an exact account of expenses. Money is a great trust, and we must use it with care. Economy, which some people suppose to be another name for saving, is a beautiful picture word which signifies to guide the house. Mother thinks economy cannot be learned in a day. So when I was little she began by giving me ten cents every Saturday morning. At the same time she put in my hand a little book and a pencil.
"See, daughter," she said, "thee is to set thy ten cents down on one page, and that will show how much thee has to spend. On the other thee is to put down the penny given in church, the penny for taffy, for fines."
For fines? What could she mean?
Well, perhaps you will laugh; but my mother's way is never to let a child in her care use slang, or slam doors, or leave things lying about in wrong places, or speak unkindly of the absent. Half a cent had to be paid every time I did any of these things, and I kept my own account of them, and punished myself. I always knew when I had violated one of mother's golden rules by her grieved look, or father's surprised one, or by a little prick from my conscience.
"And what was done with the fines?" asked Jeanie, when I told her of this plan.
"Oh, they went into our hospital fund, and twice a year—at midsummer and Christmas—they were sent away to help some good Sisters who spent their lives in looking after poor little cripples, or blind children, or who went about in tenements to care for the old and sick."
At every week's end I had to bring my book to mother, add up what I had spent, and subtract the amount from my original sum. If both were the same, it was all right. If I had spent less than I received last Saturday, then there was a balance in my favor, and something was there all ready to add to my new ten cents. But if I had gone into debt, or fallen short, or borrowed from anybody, mother was much displeased.
As I grew older my allowance was increased, until now I buy my gowns and hats, give presents out of my own money, and have a little sum in the savings-bank.
My housekeeping account while mother was absent was quite separate from any other of my own. Mother handed me the housekeeping books and the housekeeping money, with the keys, and left me responsible.
"Thee knows, Milly love," she said, "that I never have bills. I pay everybody each week. Thee must do the same. And always put down the day's expenses at the end of the day. Then nothing will be forgotten."
At the close of the year mother knows where every penny of hers has gone. Even to the value of a postage-stamp or a postal-card.
As the Clover Leaf Club girls were not all so fortunate as I in having an allowance, they took less interest in learning how to shop.
There are two ways of shopping. One is to set out without a very definite idea of what you wish to buy, and to buy what you do not want, if the shopman persuades you to do so, or it pleases your fancy.
The other is to make a list of articles before you leave home, something like this: Nine yards of merino for gown; three yards of silesia; two spools of cotton, Nos. 30 and 50; one spool of twist; one dozen crochet buttons; a dozen fine napkins and a lunch cloth; five yards of blue ribbon one inch wide; a paper of pins; a bottle of perfumery; five-eighths of a yard of ruching for the neck.
Provided with such a memorandum, the person who has her shopping to do will save time by dividing her articles into classes. The linen goods will probably be near together in the shop, and she will buy them first; then going to the counters where dress goods are kept, she will choose her gown and whatever belongs to it; the thread, pins, twist and other little articles will come next; and last, her ruching and ribbon.
She will have accomplished without any trouble, fuss, or loss of temper what would have wearied an unsystematic girl who has never learned how to shop.
Then, before she set out, she would have known very nearly how much she could afford to spend—that is, she would have known if my mother's way had been her mother's—and on no account would she have spent more than she had allowed herself in thinking it over at home.
When the club undertook charge of all Dot's and Dimpsie's expenses, it was rather a puzzle to some of us to know how we were to pay our share. I set apart something from my allowance. Lois watched for her papa's pleasant moods. Veva danced up to her father, put her arms around his neck, and lifted her mouth for a kiss, coaxed him for some money to give away, which she always received directly. Others of the girls were at a loss what to do.
Jeanie and Linda had a happy thought, which they carried out. They said: "We have learned how to make bread and biscuits and cake and candy, and we all know how often our friends cannot persuade cooks to stay in their houses. We will make bread or cake on Saturday mornings for anybody who is good enough to pay for it."
They could not see why it was not just as sensible a thing to make and sell good bread as to paint scarfs or embroider tidies, and mother, after she heard of their proposal, quite agreed with them.
Through our efforts, combined as they were, we sent our little girls to Kindergarten, kept warm shoes and stockings on their feet, and brought them up respectably, though Jack Roper was as odd and indolent as ever, and never showed by so much as a look that he imagined anybody took an interest in his children.
WE GIVE A RECEPTION.
Everything pleasant comes to an end, even pleasant vacations, and when the golden-rods were bowing to the asters, like gallant knights to their ladyloves, and the red sumachs were hanging out the first flags of autumn, we girls had to think of school once more.
The books which had been closed for almost three months beckoned us again, and delightful as the Clover Leaf meetings had grown, we knew that for the next nine months we should hold them only on Saturdays, perhaps not always then.
"Girls," said Linda Curtis, "what shall we do for a wind-up to the summer? Something which has never been done in Bloomdale. Something which will be remembered when we are grown up and have forgotten our girlish pranks?"
Linda's suggestion was approved unanimously, but nobody could propose anything which everybody liked.
Finally Jeanie and Amy, who had been putting their heads together, and whispering until the Chair had to call them to order, showed by their smiling faces that they had a bright idea.
"Miss President," said Jeanie, "if I may, I should like to make a motion."
"Miss Cartwright has the floor," said the President, gravely.
"I move that the Bloomdale Clover Leaf Club give a reception in the Academy to all the Bloomdale neighbors and friends, with a programme, and refreshments afterward."
"Is the motion seconded?" inquired the President.
"I second the motion," exclaimed Miss Amy Pierce, rapturously.
"It is moved and seconded that we give a reception at the Academy, with a programme and refreshments. Are there any remarks?"
I should think there were. Why, they flew about like snow-flakes in a hurricane.
"Why in the Academy?"
"Why not in somebody's parlor?"
"What sort of a programme?"
"Tableaux would be splendid!"
"Not tableaux! Charades?"
"Why not have a little play? That would be best, and we could all act."
"What sort of refreshments? A regular supper, or lemonade and cake, or cake and ice-cream?"
At last it was resolved to carry out the reception idea, and to have a little play in which Dot and Dimpsie could be brought in, also a very magnificent Maltese cat belonging to Patty Curtis, and Miss Muffet's parrot. The cat, arrayed in a lace ruff, with a red ribbon, would be an imposing figure, and the parrot would look well as one of the properties. Miss Muffet herself, in some character, probably as a Yankee school-mistress, must be persuaded to appear.
Well, you may imagine what a flutter we were in! We trimmed the old Academy with ferns and running pine and great wreaths of golden-rod, while feathery clematis was looped and festooned over the windows and around the portraits of former teachers, which adorned the walls.
Our play was written for us by Mr. Robert Pierce, Amy's brother, who goes to Harvard, and he brought in both our pets, and the cat and parrot, and had in ever so many hits which Bloomdale folks could enjoy, knowing all about them.
The only thing which interfered with my pleasure was that mother was not here, and I had expected her home. I nearly cried into the lemonade, and almost blistered the icing of the pound-cake with tears; but seeing grandmamma gaze at me with a whole exclamation point in her eyes, I gave myself a mental shake, and said, not aloud, but in my mind: "Don't be a baby, Milly Van Doren! A big girl like you! Be good! There, now!"
But I was not the most unhappy girl when, just after my part in the play was over, I heard a little movement in the audience, and saw a stirring as of surprise at the other end of the room.
Who was that? A sweet face in a Quaker bonnet, a white kerchief folded primly over a gown of dove-colored satin, a pure plain dress, looking very distinguished, for all its simplicity, among the gay toilet of the "world's people."
Surely, no—yes, it was, it could be no one but mother!
I threaded my way through the crowded aisles, gentlemen and ladies opening a path for me, and before everybody I was clasped in her dear arms. And there was father smiling down at me, and saying, as mother told me, to be composed, for I was half crying, half laughing: "Of course she'll be composed. I have always said thee could trust our little lass."
I squeezed myself into a seat between the two darlings, forgetful that I was the President of the Clover Leaf Club; and there I sat till the play was over, when something happened that was not on the programme.
A tall shabby form advanced to the front of the room, and mounted the stage.
It was Jack Roper! We held our breath. What did this mean?
"I want, fellow-townsmen and ladies," said Jack, with the utmost coolness, "to return thanks to the Clover Leaf young ladies for the good example they've been a settin' our wives and darters. Them girls is trumps!"
Down sat Jack in a storm of applause. This speech, if not elegant, was at least sincere.
He was followed by a very different personage. No less a man than Judge Curtis arose and gave us a little address, after which Amy Pierce and Lois Partridge played a duet on the piano.
Then the refreshments were distributed. There was a merry time talking and laughing over the feast, and we all went home. Miss Muffet looked radiant, she had so many compliments, and Aunt Hetty, who appeared in her stiffest calico, was not backward in accepting some for herself. Though what she had done, except try my patience, it was puzzling to us to tell.
My precious mother had the very prettiest surprise of all for us when her trunks were opened. It is her way to make people happy, and she goes through the world like an angel.
For every girl in the club she had brought home a silver pin in the shape of a four-leaved clover. "Whether you keep up the club or not," she said, "it will be a pretty souvenir of a very happy summer."
I don't know whether I have made mother's way plain to all my readers, but I hope they see it is a way of taking pains, of being kind, of being honest and diligent, and never doing with one hand what ought to be done with both. If I learn to keep house in mother's way I shall be perfectly satisfied.
Father says: "Thee certainly may, dear child! For my part, I trust my little lass."
The Lighthouse Lamp.
BY MARGARET E. SANGSTER.
The winds came howling down from the north, Like a hungry wolf for prey, And the bitter sleet went hurtling forth, In the pallid face of the day.
And the snowflakes drifted near and far, Till the land was whitely fleeced, And the light-house lamp, a golden star, Flamed over the waves' white yeast.
In the room at the foot of the light-house Lay mother and babe asleep, And little maid Gretchen was by them there, A resolute watch to keep.
There were only the three on the light-house isle, But father had trimmed the lamp, And set it burning a weary while In the morning's dusk and damp.
"Long before night I'll be back," he said, And his white sail slipped away; Away and away to the mainland sped, But it came not home that day.
The mother stirred on her pillow's space, And moaned in pain and fear, Then looked in her little daughter's face Through the blur of a starting tear.
"Darling," she whispered, "it's piercing cold, And the tempest is rough and wild; And you are no laddie strong and bold, My poor little maiden child.
"But up aloft there's the lamp to feed, Or its flame will die in the dark, And the sailor lose in his utmost need The light of our islet's ark."
"I'll go," said Gretchen, "a step at a time; Why, mother, I'm twelve years old, And steady, and never afraid to climb, And I've learned to do as I'm told."
Then Gretchen up to the top of the tower, Up the icy, smooth-worn stair, Went slowly and surely that very hour, The sleet in her eyes and hair.
She fed the lamp, and she trimmed it well, And its clear light glowed afar, To warn of reefs, and of rocks to tell, This mariner's guiding star.
And once again when the world awoke In the dawn of a bright new day, There was joy in the hearts of the fisher folks Along the stormy bay.
When the little boats came sailing in All safe and sound to the land, To the haven the light had helped them win, By the aid of a child's brave hand.
The Family Mail-bag.
BY MARY JOANNA PORTER.
The family mail-bag was made of black and white straw arranged in checks. It was flat and nearly square, was lined with gray linen and fastened at the top with narrow black ribbon. It had two long handles, finely made of straw, and these handles Luella and Francis were accustomed to grasp when, twice a day regularly, at half-past eight in the morning and at half-past three in the afternoon, they went for the family mail.
Their instructions were always to go back and forth to the post-office without stopping, always to tie the bag securely after putting the mail inside, and never to open it after it was thus fastened. They were to take turns in carrying the bag, and upon returning to their home were always to take it at once to the study of their father, Rev. Mr. Robinson.
So important a personage as a public mail-carrier had never been seen in the small village in which they lived. In his absence the two children performed their service well. At least they always did excepting on one unfortunate day, and that is the day of which our story is to tell.
The children went to the office as usual, and were quite delighted at finding there a registered letter addressed to "Luella and Francis Robinson." Luella felt very proud when the postmaster asked her, as the elder, to sign the registered receipt.
"What's that for?" asked Francis.
"It's for proof that you've received the letter. You see that a registered letter usually contains something valuable."
"I wonder what it can be? It's from Aunt Maria. See, her address is written on the side of the envelope?"
"Yes," said the postmaster, who was a very good friend of the children. "It's certainly from your aunt, and it probably contains something for you both, but, you'd better put it in your bag now and tie it up, according to your father's wish."
The children obediently acted upon this suggestion and started for home. On their way they talked constantly of their letter, trying vainly to guess what it might contain.
"It's something small, anyway," said Luella, "for it doesn't seem to take any room."
"Maybe 'tisn't anything, after all," said Francis.
"Oh, yes, it is; for the letter is registered, you know."
So they went on talking and wondering until they had gone about half the distance toward home. Then they reached a spreading apple tree which grew by a fence near the sidewalk, and beneath which was a large stone, often used as a resting-place for pedestrians.
"Let's sit down a while," said Francis. "I feel tired; don't you?"
"Yes, but father wouldn't like us to stop."
"Oh, yes, he would, if he knew how tired we are. I'm going to rest a moment, anyway. That can't be any harm."
Luella allowed herself to follow her brother's example. So they took the first step in disobedience.
Next Luella said: "I wonder if we couldn't just unfasten the bag and look at that letter again. It's our letter, you know."
"Of course, it is. Give me the bag. I'll open it."
Then, without more ado, Francis deliberately opened the bag. Thus the second step in wrong-doing was taken.
They examined the letter closely and leisurely, not one minute, but many minutes, passing while they were thus engaged. Then Luella said: "I'm going to read the letter. It's all the same whether we read it here or at home."
It proved to be a very kind letter from Aunt Maria, who had lately made them a visit. She concluded by saying: "While I was with you I took pleasure in noticing your constant obedience. As a sort of reward, I enclose for you each a five-dollar gold piece. Please accept the gift with my love."
"Where are the gold pieces?" asked Francis, taking the envelope from Luella, "Oh! here's one in the corner of this thing. I'll take this; but where's the other?"
Where was the other? It was easier to ask the question than to reply. The two children folded and unfolded the letter. They turned the envelope inside out. They searched through their clothing. They inspected the grass and the path. If it had been possible, they would have lifted the stone upon which they had been sitting; but that would have been an herculean task. At length they reluctantly gave up the search and sadly went on their way homeward.
"I wish we hadn't opened the letter," said Luella. "What are we going to tell mother and father anyhow?"
"Well, I think we'd better tell them the whole story. Perhaps they'll help us look for the other gold piece."
Francis, with the one coin in his hand, naturally took a more hopeful view of the situation than his sister did.
"Perhaps Aunt Maria only put one in the letter," he suggested.
"Oh, no; she's too careful for that. She never makes mistakes," said Luella, positively. "I only wish we'd minded. That's all."
Francis echoed the wish in his heart, though he did not repeat it aloud. Thus, a repentant couple, they entered the house and the study. Mother was upstairs attending to baby, and father was evidently out. The brother and sister awaited his return in silence, Luella meanwhile grasping the letter, and Francis the single coin.
"What's that you have?" asked Mr. Robinson; "a letter? How did it get out of the bag?"
"It's ours," answered Luella, trembling while she spoke. "We—we—we—" then she burst into tears.
"Let me have it," commanded Mr. Robinson.
Luella obeyed, and went on weeping while her father read. Francis wanted to cry, too, but he thought it was unmanly, and choked back the tears.
"I need ask you no more questions," said their father. "The truth is that I was calling on old Mrs. Brown when you stopped under the apple tree, and I saw the whole thing from her window. You don't know how sorry I felt when I found that my boy and girl couldn't be trusted. I saw that you had lost something, and after you had left I examined the grass about the stone and found the other gold piece. But I shall have to punish you by putting the money away for a whole month. At the end of that time I will return it to you, if I find that you are obedient meanwhile. I do not intend to be severe, but I think that ordinarily you are good children, and I understand how strong the temptation was. Are you not sorry that you yielded to it?"
"Yes, sir, we are," exclaimed both children, emphatically.
"And now, what am I going to do about the mail-bag? Can I let you have it after this?"
"Yes, father, you can," they both replied once more; and after that they were always worthy of their trust.
When Aunt Maria made her next visit they told her the story of their misdoing. Her only comment was: "You see, children, that it is necessary always to pray, 'Deliver us from evil,' for even when we want to do right, without help from above, we shall fail."
A Day's Fishing.
BY MARY JOANNA PORTER.
Six lively boys had been spending their vacation at Clovernook Farm, and, as any one may imagine, they had been having the liveliest sort of a time.
There were Mr. Hobart's two nephews, James and Fred; and Mrs. Hobart's two nephews, John and Albert, and two others, Milton and Peter, who, though only distant cousins, were considered as part of the family.
To tell of all the things that these six had been doing during the eight weeks of their stay would be to write a history in several volumes. They had had innumerable games of tennis and croquet; had fished along the banks of streams; helped in the harvest field; taken straw-rides by moonlight; traveled many scores of miles on bicycles; taken photographs good and bad; gone out with picnic parties; learned to churn and to work butter; picked apples and eaten them, and they had plenty of energy left still.
The climax of their enjoyment was reached on the very last day of their visit. Mr. Hobart had promised to take them for a day's fishing on a lake about ten miles distant from his house. On this fair September day he redeemed his promise. A jolly load set out in the gray of the early morning, equipped with poles, lines, bait, and provisions enough for the day. Having no other way to give vent to their spirits, they sang college songs all along the road. Of course, they surprised many an early riser by their vigorous rendering of familiar airs. Even cows and chickens and horses and pigs gazed at them with wondering eyes, as if to say, "Who are these noisy fellows, disturbing our morning meditations?"
As the boys approached the lake they saw a strange-looking object on the water. What it might be they could not for a while decide. Certainly it was not a boat, and what else could be floating so calmly several feet out from the land?
At length their strained eyes solved the mystery. It was a rudely built raft with a stool upon it, and upon the stool sat a ragged urchin ten or twelve years of age.
"Ha, ha, ha! Ha, ha, ha!" shouted the six boys in unison.
"Fine rig you have there!" called one.
"What will you take for your ship?" shouted another.
For all response the stranger simply stared.
"Don't hurt his feelings, boys," said Mr. Hobart kindly, "he's getting enjoyment in his own way, and I suspect that it's the best way he knows of."
Conscious of impoliteness, the boys subsided, and nothing more was thought of the stranger for several hours.
About noon, however, as they were resting on the shore, he appeared before them with an old cigar box in his hand.
"Want some crickets and grasshoppers?" he asked timidly. "I've been catching them for you, if you want them."
"Yes, they are exactly the things we need," replied Mr. Hobart. "How much do you want for the lot?"
"Oh, you're welcome to them. I hadn't nothin' else to do."
"Well, that's what I call returning good for evil. Didn't you hear these chaps laugh at you this morning?"
"Yes, but that's nothin'. I'm used to that sort of thing. Folks has laughed at me allus."
"Well, we won't laugh at you now. Have some dinner, if you won't have any pay."
The boy had refused money, but he could not refuse the tempting sandwiches and cakes which were offered to him. His hungry look appealed to the hearts of the other boys quite as forcibly as his comical attitude had before appealed to their sense of the ludicrous.
Now they shared their dinner with him in most hospitable manner. Fortunately Mrs. Hobart was of a generous disposition, and had provided an abundance of food. Otherwise the picnic baskets might have given out with this new demand upon their contents.
"What shall we call you?" said Mr. Hobart to the unexpected guest.
"Sam Smith's my name. I am generally called Sam for short."
"Well, Sam, I think you're right down hungry, and I'm glad you happened along our way. Where do you live, my boy?"
"I've been a-workin' over there in the farmhouse yonder, but they've got through with me, and I'm just a-makin' up my mind where to go next."
"Seems to me you're rather young to earn your own living. Have you no father or mother?"
"Yes, in the city. But they have seven other boys and it's pretty hard work to get along. I'm the oldest, I am, so I try to turn a penny for myself. A gentleman got me this place, and paid my way out here, but he's gone back to town now. I s'pose he hoped the folks would keep me, but they don't need me no longer."
Mr. Hobart was a man of kindly deeds. More than that, he was a Christian. As he stood talking with the stranger lad the words of the Master ran through his mind: "The poor ye have with ye always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good."
Certainly here was an opportunity to help a friendless boy. It should not be thrown away.
"How would you like to engage yourself to me for the fall and winter? These boys are all going off to-morrow, and I need a boy about your size to run errands and help me with the chores."
"Yes, really I do. I want a good boy who will obey me and my wife, and I have an idea that you may suit."
"I'll try to, sir."
"Then jump into that boat and help us fish and I'll take you home with me to-night."
Sam cast a farewell glance at his raft, just then floating out of sight. He had nothing else to take leave of, and no further arrangements to make; no packing to do and no baggage to carry. He had simply himself and the few clothes he wore. At evening he went home with Mr. Hobart in the most matter-of-course way. When the load of fishermen drew up at the barn-door he jumped out and began to unhitch as though that had been his lifelong work.
Mrs. Hobart, coming out to give a welcome to the chattering group, appeared rather puzzled as she counted heads in the twilight. Mr. Hobart enjoyed the surprise which he had been expecting.
"Yes, wife," said he aside, answering her thoughts, "I took out six this morning and I've brought back seven to-night. We've been for a day's fishing, you know, and I rather guess I've caught something more valuable than bass or perch, though they're good enough in their way."
"Where did you find him?" asked Mrs. Hobart.
"Sitting on a raft out on the lake."
"He's a poor, homeless fellow, and I reckon that there's room in our house for one of Christ's little ones. Isn't that so, wife?"
"Yes, Reuben, it is."
"Then we'll do the best we can for this young chap. I mean to write to his parents, for he has given me their address. I think there will be no trouble in arranging to have him stay with us. We'll see what we can make out of him."
"Reuben, I believe you're always looking out for a chance to do some good!"
"That's the way it ought to be, wife."
This conversation took place behind the carryall. None of the boys heard it. The six visitors, however, all caught the spirit of benevolence from their host. Before departing next day each one had contributed from his wardrobe some article of clothing for Sam, and they all showered him with good wishes as they left.
"Hope to find you here next summer," they shouted in driving off.
"Hope so," responded Sam.
Why Charlie Didn't Go.
BY MARY JOANNA PORTER.
"Dear me! There come Uncle Josh and Aunt Jane, and not a bed in the house is made!" Mrs. Upton glanced nervously at the clock—then about to strike eleven—surveyed with dismay the disordered kitchen, looked through the open door into the dining-room, where the unwashed breakfast dishes were yet standing, took her hands out of the dough and ran to wash them at the faucet.
"Maria, Maria, stir around. See what you can pick up while they're getting out of the cab. Isn't it always just so?"
Maria, the daughter of fifteen, hastily laid aside her novel and did her best to remove the cups and saucers from the breakfast table, not omitting to break one in her hurry. Meanwhile her mother closed the kitchen door, caught up from the dining-room sofa a promiscuous pile of hats, coats, rubbers and shawls, threw them into a convenient closet, placed the colored cloth on the table and hastened to open the front door to admit her guests.