PIXY'S HOLIDAY JOURNEY
Translated from the German of GEORGE LANG
by MARY E. IRELAND
TO THE TWO DEAR BOYS, HUGH D. SHEPARD AND GEORGE H. IRELAND, BOTH OF WHOM TOOK KEEN PLEASURE IN LISTENING TO THE READING OF THE MANUSCRIPT OF THE HOLIDAY JOURNEY OF THREE BOYS AND PIXY, THE STORY, NOW IN BOOK FORM, IS LOVINGLY DEDICATED BY
I. THE GRECIANS AND THE TROJANS
II. THEY MEET A KIND FRIEND
III. AT THE SWAN INN
IV. A KIND WELCOME
V. FRITZ IN TROUBLE
VI. A WHOLE DAY OF SIGHT-SEEING
VII. THE ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS
VIII. PIXY IN TROUBLE
IX. THEY VISIT THE CLOTHING MOUSE
X. PIXY'S EARNINGS
XI. IN THE DESERTED CABIN
XII. A WELL-SPRING OF PLEASURE
PIXY'S HOLIDAY JOURNEY
THE GRECIANS AND THE TROJANS
There were three boys in the same class in the polytechnic school in the mountainous Odenwald country, in Hesse Darmstadt, who were such great friends and inseparable companions that the other pupils named them "the three-leaved clover." They were near of an age—about eleven—and near of a size; and their names were Fritz, Paul and Franz.
Fritz was an active, energetic boy, had coal black hair and bright, black eyes which looked out upon the world with the alert glance of a squirrel in a cage.
Paul had brown hair, brown eyes and brown complexion, was of reflective manner, and willing to follow where Fritz led.
Franz was a robust boy with blonde hair, blue eyes, fair complexion, and cheeks like cherries which had ripened in the sun.
They had been firm friends ever since the day that Fritz had had a combat with a larger boy, and Franz and Paul ran to his assistance. But the big boy was victor, leaving Fritz on the field of battle with a bleeding nose, Franz with a bruise upon his forehead, and Paul with a fiery-red cheek, caused by slaps from the hand of the foe. From that hour the three united for life or death in an alliance for defense against an enemy and resolved to provide themselves with weapons, also a place to keep them when not in active service; said place to be called the armory.
It was a subject of much thought and discussion to secure a suitable place, but at length Franz brought the welcome news that his father had sold the calf that day, and the nice shed it had occupied was vacant. This was delightful news and when school was out they hurried there, drove nails in the board walls, and hung up their spears which were made of pine wood, and, like the shields hanging beside them, were glistening with gold and silver paper. On the opposite wall were the sombre bows and arrows, brightened, however, by the nearness of three brilliant helmets with waving plumes made of black yarn.
The array of weapons seemed so warlike that it called to memory the battle between the Grecians and the Trojans as recorded in Homer's Iliad, which their class was reading in school; and they then and there decided to take the names of their favorite Greek heroes.
"I will be Odysseus," said Fritz.
"I will be Achilles," responded Franz.
"And I," said Paul after due reflection, "will be Patroclus."
"And let us call that fellow that fought us a Trojan," suggested Franz.
"Agreed," cried Fritz. "Let us call all of our enemies Trojans."
This proposition was received with warmth and they solemnly shook hands to clinch the compact.
It was a shadow to their enjoyment that while there was an outside bolt to their armory, there was no lock and key, and there were plenty of Trojans in school who would wish no better amusement than to break in and carry off the weapons. To prevent such a catastrophe, it was decided that the moment school was out, one of them must run to the armory and remain on guard until all the boys had gone to their homes. They were to take turns in this duty, and Franz was appointed as sentinel for that evening.
When he reached the shed he heard the sound of movement inside the armory, yet the bolt was not withdrawn. He stood a moment in mute wonder for he could not understand how a Trojan could get in when there was no window, and but one door, and it bolted on the outside. He called several times, but there was no answer, and he was more than glad when he saw Fritz running through the gateway of the barnyard. Emboldened by the sight of the Grecian warrior, he pushed back the bolt, the door flew open, and out rushed a hog, squealing with delight at regaining his liberty. Without delay it made for the open gateway, ran between the feet of the advancing Fritz, upset him, causing him to measure his length with that of the hog's back, then after a few turns about the yard, upset the pursuing Achilles-Franz and ran to the top of a heap of sodden straw, where it shook off Odysseus-Fritz, then ran nimbly down and out the gateway to the road. To fill to overflowing the measure of their ill-luck, some of the Trojans who had safely passed the gate sometime before, heard the squealing, and ran back in time to see Odysseus shaken off upon the straw-heap, and Achilles in the act of grasping the pig by its tail. They broke into jeering laughter, shrill whistles, and witty speeches which stung the Grecian heroes into helpless fury.
But they could not take time to retaliate; the escaped fugitive was going down the road at a commendable pace had he been going to school, and Achilles was again Franz, his father's son, and the pig must be brought back and with no help but that of Fritz, for he scorned to ask the grinning Trojans to join in the chase, nor would it have been of any use to ask, for they preferred to remain at the gate and watch the race, which they enjoyed to the limit. The pig had a good start and was a brisk runner, but after many twistings and turnings, sprints and boltings, it allowed itself to be driven into a fence corner just at the moment that Paul appeared upon the scene.
A short discussion followed this happy meeting, which resulted in Franz grasping one ear of the recreant pig and Fritz the other, while Paul took charge of the tail, to pull or push as the necessities of the case demanded. The pig was finally made to back out and face about, and their homeward journey was commenced.
It was well for them that the waiting Trojans had caught a glimpse of a teacher coming through the gate of the school yard, or they would have had trouble getting their captive through the gateway into the barnyard. As it was, the coast was clear, and the pig, in spite of his squealings and gruntings, was back in his cell, the door shut and the bolt pushed into its socket.
Then the three heroes with beads of perspiration rolling from their foreheads sat down under the shade of an apple tree to discuss the situation. Since their armory was demeaned into a pig-pen, it was necessary to remove their weapons and put them in a secure place; but where? That was the question.
There was a summer-house in the garden of Franz's home which was never used, was rain-proof, and had a good door with a strong catch, but no lock and key or even a bolt. Being near the dwelling it was secure, as no opposing schoolboy would dare go through the garden to break into their armory and carry off the weapons.
This suggestion was hailed with hearty appreciation, and in good spirits they drove nails into the walls and carried their helmets and beloved weapons one by one and put them in that place of refuge; then went to their suppers, and to prepare their lessons for the following day.
Their arrival in the school yard the next morning was announced by the laughter and jeers of their opponents.
"Say, did you imagine that your hog was Hector on the walls of Troy when it ran up the straw-heap?" shouted one.
"No, he thought he was Hercules, but found that instead of being strong enough to carry the hog, the hog had to carry him," laughed another.
The three friends passed on into the schoolroom, red with anger but helpless to defend themselves; their tormentors following, for there was more sport in store which not one of them wished to miss.
Upon the great blackboard was a very fair picture in chalk of the exploit with the hog, and the laughing, jeering and shrill whistling were resumed when they saw the anger of the three friends. The muscular and energetic Fritz rushed to the blackboard to rub out the offending cartoon, but his hands were held by the enemy, his struggles to release them were useless, and he went to his seat in anger and mortification.
At that moment the teacher came, and hearing the sound of weeping he asked the cause. As Odysseus-Fritz was unable to speak for sobbing, the enemy had the welcome chance to give an account of the tilt between the "three-leaved clover" and the four-footed Hector, and as the wit of the school was spokesman, the story lost nothing of its mirth-provoking quality.
The teacher tried his best to look grave over the affair, but the narrative, together with its illustration on the blackboard, was too much for him and he took such a sudden and violent spell of coughing that he was compelled to put his handkerchief to his mouth and go outside the door. Every boy in the room, including the three Grecian warriors, knew that he went out to indulge in the laughter that he could not restrain, and the enemy's triumph was complete.
"You must rub that miserable sketch from the board," he said upon his return, "and write in place of it, 'Do unto others as you would have them do to you,' which will remain there until we need the board for an exercise."
It was a great relief to the three friends that the summer holiday was so near at hand that there would be but little more time for the Trojans to trouble them. Every boy in school had a plan in view as to the way the holiday was to be spent.
"We are going out to the woods every day," said one group of boys. "We will take our luncheon and will fish in the brook, and find good places to set snares in the fall."
"We are going to the woods, too," said another group, "and will gather flowers to press for our herbariums."
But our three friends could overmatch all the pleasures mentioned by their schoolmates, for they had the promise from their parents that they should go to the city of Frankfort on the Main river to visit an aunt of Fritz. Every day their schoolmates heard from some one of the three, or perhaps from all, of the pleasures expected from their first journey, and their visit to a city to remain a whole week. This again aroused the jeers of the enemy which they bore bravely, knowing that it was only envy; so went on serenely with their preparations for the visit.
Their homes were but a short distance apart, therefore out of school as well as in they were much together and all their talk was upon the visit to Frankfort, and of the things they would take, their plans subject to change from day to day.
The father of Fritz took a Frankfort paper which the boy read carefully, and reported the dangers of a great city to his comrades. From these readings the three considered the city highly dangerous and they resolved to go well prepared for any attack that might be made upon them, either upon the journey or during their sojourn in the great city, which its own paper denounced as wicked.
One morning he announced to his companions that he was well fixed to go, for he had now a weapon which could be depended upon, and showed them an old hunting-knife thick with rust, which he had concealed under his jacket, and which was to be placed in the armory until time to start upon the journey; and the ever watchful enemy saw that something very important was going on among the Grecian heroes.
In truth there was something very important, for they were arranging to go upon their journey wearing their helmets with waving plumes, and with their shields and spears, and Franz and Paul were to have weapons to place with that of Fritz in the armory. But who can describe their surprise and dismay when that evening they went to put the hunting-knife in its proper place, they found the armory plundered, and everything gone! The enemy had come in an unguarded moment and carried everything away. But where? That was the question, for they had not the least doubt as to who did it, for the tracks of boys' boots were in the moist ground, and Fritz was quite sure that he knew whose they were, whereupon Franz laughed, although as much grieved as were the others over the loss of their belongings.
"Yes, laugh as much as you please!" cried Fritz excitedly, "but when Mr. Colbert's house was robbed he tracked the thief by a piece of buttered bread which he had dropped in his flight. A piece bitten out of it showed that the thief had lost a front tooth, and he had the man whom he suspected arrested. When he came to trial they made him bite into a piece of buttered bread, and it was exactly like the piece that Mr. Gilbert had found."
"Your story is very good, but what help will it be in this case?" enquired the logical Franz. "Do you think the Trojans will be so obliging as to walk here and put their feet in the tracks?"
"Then name a better way."
"I don't know any."
"Then the only way left," remarked the reflective Paul, "is to watch the faces of the suspects when we go to school in the morning, and maybe we can spot the ones who did it."
As there seemed nothing more to do about it, they left the rifled armory and went to their homes.
The next morning as they neared the schoolyard they heard loud laughing which they could not lay altogether to the near approach of the holiday. They hurried in, and were quickly surrounded by their schoolmates who with laughter and jeers pointed to the top of the climbing pole; and oh, misery! there hung the helmet of Achilles, its plume waving in the morning air. Speechless and helpless the three friends stood, and would have given the last penny in their savings banks if a hawk or some other large bird would swoop down upon it and send it to the ground.
"Now here is an exercise in physical culture," cried one of the Trojans, in the tone and manner of the professor in that line of instruction. "One of our Grecian heroes will kindly ascend and bring the helmet down."
This called for peals of laughter and shrill whistles from the Trojans, for they knew that no one of the Grecians could climb to the top and it was a delight to see them redden with shame. But the restless Fritz was not willing to give up without trying to scale the giddy height.
"Here, Franz," he cried, "hold my books. Paul, here is my jacket and hat. Stand back, boys, and see if I am the coward they think me," and soon his legs and arms were in motion. The laughter and jeering of the Trojans stimulated him to his greatest effort, and he had almost reached the top when his efforts ceased.
"He is only resting," cried Franz and Paul anxiously.
"No, his strength has given out and you will see him coming down in a moment," said one of the Trojans.
Hearing this, Fritz made one last effort, and holding on to the pole with one arm, he reached up for the helmet, but it was farther off than he thought. His strength had given out, and he slid rapidly down and dropped in a heap, pale and weak from over-exertion, and for a moment unable to rise.
The shouts and laughter of the Trojans impelled the three to flee to the schoolroom for refuge, but their arms were held by the enemy and they were led to a linden tree in the school yard and bidden to look up. There amid the branches lay the three lances and the bows and arrows. The tumult of laughter and shouting was now beyond all bounds, and at that moment the principal of the school made his appearance and was soon in the midst of the wild, surging crowd.
"Who put that gilt paper cap on the point of the climbing pole?" he asked.
No one answered and the Trojans looked at each other in dismay.
"Whose cap is it?" he asked.
"It is mine," replied Achilles-Franz, "and some of these boys got it from the place I keep it and before I got here this morning put it on the pole."
"Do you know which of the boys did it?"
"Go to the schoolroom and ask Professor Moot to please step here."
"Professor," said the principal, when the teacher of physical culture stood among them, "how many of your pupils can climb to the top of the pole?"
"Five of them can do it easily; two of them have not yet come, but there are three here."
"Step here, you three, and show me the palms of your hands," said the principal, and with very red faces the three obeyed.
"This is the boy," he continued, as the red palms proved that the boy had recently climbed the pole, "and because you were a coward and would not answer when I asked, you get no recess to-day. Now pass your books to your neighbor and bring down that cap."
Like a poor criminal going to the gallows, the Trojan went to the pole and began the ascent with his already tender hands. He would have asked for a postponement had not the serene face of the principal warned him that it would not be granted. With much effort he reached the top, took off the helmet, and slipped rapidly down with it in his hand.
"Lay it on the window sill there, and go up the linden tree and bring down the lances."
"Where did you get these things?" was the next question.
"I, we—we took them from the summer house which Franz and Fritz and Paul call their armory."
"Who was with you?"
"William Cross, Otto Eidman and Henry Frolick."
"Professor, there were two more helmets," explained Fritz, stepping forward.
"Where have you put the others?" asked the principal, sharply.
"Under the table in the lecture-room."
"Very well. You four boys will have an hour's arrest in the lecture-room after school and when released you will take the things back and put them exactly where you found them. Now you can go into the class-room."
With very sheepish faces the Trojans filed in, followed by the triumphant Grecian heroes.
When school was out for the day they hurried to the armory to await the coming of the Trojans with the weapons, while the boys in the class who had not allied themselves to either Trojans or Grecians gathered in the yard under the window of the lecture-room to see the vanquished ones come out with the weapons when the hour of arrest was over. Before the hour was spent they were joined by others who in passing the open gate saw them and were glad to wait to see the four delinquents pass out.
At length the clock in the old church-tower struck the four solemn strokes. The hour of arrest was over, but the Trojans did not come. They waited five, ten minutes, still no sign or sound of their coming.
"I believe I hear a stir. Yes, they are coming," whispered one, rubbing his hands in glee.
"And I can tell exactly how they will act," commented another. "Otto will be crying from shame and anger at having to carry the things back. Cross will hide his eyes with his arm, and Henry will hold a high head as much as to say, 'who cares.'"
"But why don't they come? The hour was out when we came," said a newcomer.
At that moment the lecture-room door opened quickly and the stern face of the principal appeared, and the boys joined in a stampede.
"Halt!" cried the professor. "Come here! Why are you boys loitering here so long after school hours?"
The boys reddened, but no one spoke.
"Henry Strong, speak; what are you doing here?"
"We wanted—we thought—we—"
"Out with it."
"The boys are to take back the weapons."
"Well, what of that?"
"We are staying to see them."
"Indeed! Well, that is just what I expected, so I gave them permission to go out the back way some time ago and take the weapons to their places. By this time they are quietly eating their suppers in their homes."
There were many red faces at hearing the joke turned upon them, and they went quietly out of the yard, glad to be away from the piercing gaze of the principal, feeling that he could see into their hearts and minds as well as he could see through the lecture-room window.
In the meantime Odysseus-Fritz, Achilles-Franz and Patroclus-Paul were in triumphant possession of their weapons, and to add to their happiness they had a safe place to keep them, for the father of Franz, who was keeper of the forest, gave them a room in the forest cabin. It had a lock and keys and the Grecian warriors realized that many a dark cloud has a silver lining.
THEY MEET A KIND FRIEND
The interest in their weapons gave place in a few days to preparations for the journey to Frankfort; and they decided to walk, just as such healthy, energetic boys would prefer, taking two days for the journey, and stopping for the one night at some wayside inn.
The mothers prepared the outfit, the main part of the clothing for the three boys to be packed in one satchel and sent by express to the home of Mrs. Fanny Steiner, the widowed sister of Fritz's father, and the boys were to carry their school knapsacks strapped across their shoulders, containing the few articles they would need upon their journey. The fathers agreed to furnish funds for the journey, and the three travelers, not having to bother about clothing or money, could give all their attention to the subject of weapons with which to overcome the dangers which might beset them on the way.
Fritz brought forward his rusty knife; Paul had found an old pistol of the time of the first Napoleon, in which lay no danger because it would not shoot; and Franz had an old cutlass which hung by a cord at his side. They praised each other's weapons, but Fritz and Paul could not help envying the owner of the cutlass.
"Listen," said Fritz. "We need not always carry our own weapons upon the journey, we can exchange when we feel like it."
Paul agreed heartily to this, but Franz was silent; he did not wish any one to have a share in his new possession.
"I know what I can do," exclaimed Fritz. "Just wait a minute," and he ran home, returning with a leather belt and a cord, and soon his knife was hanging by his side.
"Why can't I wear my pistol in my belt like the men do in pictures?" questioned Paul. "I will run home and get mine."
This was brought, and the three warriors were equipped to their hearty satisfaction, for they had already provided their straw hats with plumes from the cast-off tail feathers of roosters in their respective poultry yards.
They decided to have beside other needed things in each knapsack a drinking cup that they might slake their thirst along the way from cool springs, or clear running water, or a convenient well or pump.
Franz had a silver watch which all agreed would be very useful. Paul had a box of tapers which he considered equal to a wonder-lamp in a fairy tale, and Fritz had a small compass, so correct in its bearings that if they trusted to it there was not the least danger of losing their way.
"Oh," he continued jubilantly, "let us run and get our knapsacks and hang them across our shoulders and go to the photographer and ask what he will charge to take our pictures."
"Agreed!" cried the others gleefully, and they were about to go when they heard the sound of hearty laughter, and turning, they saw the father of Franz.
"Wait, boys," he said, "there is danger of being arrested on the way. Don't you know that it is against the law to carry weapons?"
"But, father, people do carry them."
"Yes, but they take good care to keep them hidden."
"We could keep ours hidden."
"But where? Could Paul hide his pistol in his hat, and could Franz put the cutlass in his vest pocket as if it were a tooth-pick? Oh no, boys, lay aside the old weapons and travel along the public road as peaceable citizens with no thought of being harmed or of harming anyone. The roads of our beloved Fatherland are not infested with bandits and footpads, and you can go with contented minds and with no fear of danger upon your travels. Now it is time to part; good-night, boys. Go home to a good supper and a good sleep. Come, Franz."
The next day came the selecting of things that were to go in the knapsacks and each boy had collected enough of what they considered really needed to fill them to overflowing.
"What is this?" asked the mother of Franz, who was about to help him with his knapsack, as they were to take an early start the next morning.
"It is my checker-board. We can play in the evenings before we go to bed."
"Oh, you cannot take it! see, it would take up half the room in the knapsack. You will be so tired in the evenings that you will be ready to drop asleep before you take off your shoes. Where are your stockings?"
"Why, they will go in the satchel, mother; I don't have to carry them."
"Yes, you must take one pair. Your feet will be dusty from your long walk, and you must have a fresh pair for the second day. Where is your rain-coat?"
"Rain-coat? Why, I never thought of it."
"A checker-board would not keep the rain from wetting you should there come up a sudden shower. You must have it in, no matter what you leave at home."
"Paul and Fritz did not say they would take their rain-coats in their knapsacks."
"Perhaps not, but their mothers did, and mothers know best. What is in this box?"
"My writing paper; you gave it to me at Christmas."
"A hundred sheets! Do you expect to write a hundred letters while you are in Frankfort? If so, you will not see much of the city. You must take in your knapsack only what you will really need upon your journey, and with only that you will find it heavy enough."
The mother put the knapsack in care of Franz when ready for the journey, and he took it to his room; then hurried to the home of Fritz to see how the packing was progressing there, and found that the good mother of the boy had given the same wise advice in regard to the packing of the knapsack. Then the two went to the home of Paul and found that the same plan had ruled out the useless things that Paul had intended should journey to Frankfort in his knapsack.
At six o'clock the next morning Franz and Paul had bidden their home people an affectionate farewell and were on their way to meet Fritz, when they saw him coming, knapsack upon his shoulder and leading his dog by a new green cord tied to the collar.
"Oh, Fritz!" they exclaimed in a breath, "surely you are not going to take Pixy on the journey to Frankfort?"
"Surely I am! He wants to go, and I am going to take him."
"Does your father and mother know it?"
"No, certainly not, or Pixy would be at home this minute."
"But you had no right to take him without telling them," said the thoughtful Paul.
"Pixy is mine and I have a right to take him, but I wish them to know that I have him, so I have written a postal telling them, and will drop it in the village letter box. That will make it all right."
"But your Aunt Fanny. Will she like to have him?" asked Franz, doubtfully.
"Oh, she loves Pixy, and will be glad to see him. When she comes to visit us in the summers, she always takes Pixy with her when she walks to the village or calls to see the neighbors. Yes, indeed; she will be very, very glad to have him there."
"He will have to eat on his way to Frankfort," remarked Paul.
"Yes, but mother put up a great deal more than I can eat in this one day, and I will share with Pixy."
"And I," and "I, too," said the others, for in their hearts they were glad to have his company; "but are you going to lead him all the way with that rope?"
"No, indeed; he doesn't need it, and I will take it off, and put it in my knapsack as soon as we are past the village. I only brought it to put on him when we are in the streets of Frankfort to keep him from getting frightened and running away."
The rope was taken off and put in the knapsack, and then Fritz made another proposition.
"Let us take off our shoes and stick our stockings in them, swing them from our knapsacks, and go barefoot."
"All right!" agreed the others, and soon they were rejoicing in the luxury of bare feet, but not long, for Paul struck his toe against a stone, then getting a briar in his foot, sank down upon a green bank and took it in his hand.
"I see the briar," exclaimed Fritz, "and can take it out."
"Oh, no, it will hurt," objected Paul, with tears in his eyes, but his tears changed to smiles when he saw the briar in the hand of Fritz.
This was a warning and they put on their stockings and shoes, and then concluded to eat some more breakfast.
"What have you to eat?" asked Fritz, as Franz took his package from his knapsack.
"I have brown bread; mother made it for me because I love it, and she put plenty of good sausage with it."
"Nothing better!" said Fritz, heartily. "What have you, Paul, for your second breakfast?"
"I have bread and butter and two eggs."
"And I have bread and butter and ham, and if either of you boys want a slice of it, just speak. It is fine, I tell you," said Fritz.
"Oh, say, boys," exclaimed Franz, "let us divide our breakfast, share and share alike. If either of you would like some of my brown bread and sausage, say so, and you shall have it."
"I love brown bread and sausage, too," remarked Paul, "and either of you can have part of the eggs, only that I do not know how to divide two into three parts."
"Easy enough," explained Franz, "you can give me one egg, and I will give you the biggest piece of my sausage, then you can cut the other egg in two for you and Fritz."
"All right, here is the egg."
"And here is the sausage, the largest piece for you. Fritz, here is yours."
"That is fine; here, Franz, take part of my ham."
"Here is a slice of my white bread for a slice of your brown," continued Paul.
"All right, reach for it. You will find that it goes as well with sausage as does an egg with white bread; now let's eat."
Fritz had not waited for any invitation. He was hungry and as he ate the sausage which he was holding in one hand, he passed the ham to Franz, in exchange for it. As Paul reached for the slice of brown bread, his piece of sausage fell to the ground and was snapped up by the waiting Pixy.
"Now I have no sausage, and it was your dog, Fritz, that robbed me of it," complained Paul in a disappointed tone.
"Yes, and I would give you my share, but I have eaten it; eat the ham, Paul, and take back this half egg."
This was agreed to as fair, then the subject of drink to go with the food was discussed, and their little tin cups were taken from their knapsacks.
"What have you in your bottle, Fritz?" asked Paul.
"Chocolate; what have you?"
"Milk; and Franz has coffee. Will we share as we did our food?"
"Yes, let's share," so time about the little cups were filled with the different fluids, and they ate and drank and chatted. Nor was Pixy forgotten. He made an abundant meal from the scraps, and lay down in the shade and slept.
"Let us keep our cups in hand until we come to a running stream of water. Milk, coffee and chocolate are all good, but it is water you want when you are real thirsty."
The running stream was found after they had walked a half mile further and Fritz had to hold Pixy by the collar to keep him from running in and taking a bath before they had satisfied their thirst. The water was delightfully cool and fresh, and the moment Fritz let go the cord Pixy plunged in, and enjoyed the bath so much that the boys were tempted to follow his example. But they had heard that it was not good for the health to bathe so soon after a hearty meal, so sat in the shade while Pixy slept in the sun until his long, silky, black hair was nearly dry. Then they arose and walked on until about the middle of the day they reached a village which had an old church with a tall tower, and a number of small dwellings, two of them being public houses, or inns.
"To which of the two will we go to take our dinners?" asked Franz.
"To the one that has the gilt lion on the sign-board. I believe they are richer people and will give us a better dinner," replied Paul.
"But it will cost us more," objected Fritz, "and you know that we have just so much money, which must last until we get back to the Odenwald. Let us go to the one that looks the cheapest."
This was agreed to, and the three went in, and were received by the landlady.
"Do you wish your dinners?" she asked, seeing that none of them seemed inclined to give an order.
No one of them had ever been in a public house, so each waited for the other to speak.
"Yes, we wish dinner," said Fritz at length. "Have you lettuce?"
"Yes; what will you have with it?"
"But they take so long to boil, so think of something else."
"We will have meat."
"I have no meat to-day."
"Then we will take sausage."
"I have no sausage to-day."
"Then what have you?"
"Noodle soup, and a cherry pudding."
"Good!" exclaimed the boys in a breath, "we all like pudding."
"Very well, take seats at this table and I will bring in the dinner."
The boys were not slow in obeying; there was no tablecloth but the pine table was scoured to almost perfect whiteness, and the dishes, few and poor though they were, glistened.
A large dish of lettuce was set before them, then a bowl of soup at each plate, and some thick slices of brown bread.
"What drink will you have?" she asked.
"We prefer milk."
"There is no milk. It all went into the pudding, but you can have plenty of cold coffee."
"No, we will take water, please."
This was brought, and when the soup was finished, the pudding was brought, and although it was of fair size not a vestige of it was left; and it was then that Fritz remembered Pixy.
"Oh, boys, I forgot him and we have eaten all the pudding from him," he said, remorsefully.
"We will each give a penny and ask the mistress to give him some dinner," said Paul.
But it was not needed. Pixy had been well fed on the remains of the soup, and was ready to journey as soon as they gave him notice. Fritz thanked the kind woman, and she in turn was pleased with the well-bred boys who had given evidence of being satisfied with the food, and had paid her the price she asked.
Then they set out cheerily and soon broke into a melody they sang at school. They had good voices and sang with spirit. So interested were they that they did not hear the sound of wheels although a carriage was coming slowly behind them, and a gentleman who was in it was listening with pleasure. At length the song was finished and the boys heard the sound of wheels, halted and turned, then lifted their hats to the stranger.
"I hope you will keep on with your singing. I love it, and I love boys," said the gentleman in a pleasant voice. "I like to see them on their travels. Have you any objection to telling me where you are going?"
"To Frankfort," they all replied at once.
"Why not go by railway?"
"We wished to walk all the way."
"Of course you expect to stay over night somewhere?"
"Yes, we expect to stay to-night at an inn if it is not too expensive. If it is, we will sleep on straw somewhere. We would not mind that this warm weather."
"People who are used to a bed would find it very uncomfortable to sleep on straw. What place did you expect to reach by evening?"
"The village of Umstadt; and we think we can find an inn there where we can stay."
"It is quite a long distance from here, and you would be very late in reaching it. You will get there much faster if you will step into my carriage, for I expect to pass through the village on my way to my home."
"Would there be room for my dog Pixy?" asked Fritz, anxiously.
"Certainly there is room. Two of you boys can sit on the back seat, and the other can sit by me and the dog can sit between us."
It seemed to the three that an angel had come down to help them on their journey, for they were woefully tired, and evening was coming on. Therefore it was with smiling countenances that they climbed in and took seats. The gentleman spoke quietly to his horse and off they went on their way to the village.
"Do you think it lightens the burden for my horse that you keep your knapsacks on your shoulders?" smiled the gentleman. "If you lay them off you will see that he can trot just as well; and if there were a dozen boys he would not consider them a burden but would keep on trotting. You have told me where you are going, now tell me where you are from."
"We are from the country near the village of Michelstadt," replied Fritz. "We left at six o'clock this morning to pass our holiday with my father's sister, Mrs. Fanny Steiner."
"That is good. Now tell me your names and your fathers'."
"My father is Fritz Heil, and I am named for him. He is a clothing merchant in the village of Michelstadt."
"Very good! I know him well. Now tell me who you are," turning to Paul.
"My father is Paul Roth, he is a teacher. My name is the same."
"Very good; now, my boy," turning to Franz.
"My father is named Franz Krupp, and I am named for him. He is the head-forester in the Odenwald. The master-forester is old and when he dies my father will get the place."
"Halt, my boy! Guard your speech. Don't speak to a stranger or to anyone of the master-forester's death. Is he not in good health?"
"No, he is sick. I never heard my father say anything about his death or of taking his place, but I know that he will have it when he dies."
"Nor should you speak of it. I know the master-forester as well as I know your father. Suppose I should tell him what you have just said about his dying and your father getting the position?"
The eyes of Franz filled with tears and he looked alarmed.
"Don't be anxious, my boy. I know you meant no harm, but I wish to warn you to be careful of your speech. The master-forester has a brother living in this neighborhood. I may be that brother. If so, would I like to hear that your father is looking forward to his death in order to have his place? And would it be to your father's advantage to have it known that he is looking forward to it?"
Franz was silent a moment, then he reached forward and put his hand in that of his adviser and thanked him, and his friend shook it heartily.
"Now, as a matter of courtesy, I should tell you my name. It is James Furman. I am a farmer and live near the village of Umstadt. I know your fathers well and am glad to meet their sons."
"And we are glad to meet you! It is kind of you to ask us to ride. We were getting very tired, and we are much obliged to you."
"Then perhaps you will sing some more of your sweet songs. Hear how the larks and finches are singing their evening praises to God."
The boys were very willing. They sang several, their new friend joining them, and had just finished his favorite when they reached the little town of Umstadt, and halted in front of the one public house of which the sign was a swan. The moment the carriage stopped Pixy sprang out and waited with bright eyes and wagging tail for his master to descend.
The landlord met them at the open door, and greeted them as if old acquaintances.
"Why, neighbor, you have brought me a fine flock of birds!" he said, cordially.
"Yes, they are choice singing birds and will roost with you to-night and to-morrow will fly away to Frankfort."
"All right, all right! We have a room that will suit them exactly."
"These boys spoke of being thirsty, neighbor. Will you have some fresh water brought for them? I offered them something stronger in the shape of a bottle of mineral water or sarsaparilla, but they prefer the water."
The order was given, and a large stone pitcher and glasses soon appeared. The moment Pixy saw it he sprang up, put his feet on the pitcher and tried to lick the drops from it.
"Wait a bit, Pixy! I am so thirsty," exclaimed Fritz, and he drained the glass of cold water without stopping.
"My boy," said Mr. Furman, "the true friend of our poor dependent dumb creatures attends to their wants first; the really kind master will not let them wait while he satisfies his own hunger and thirst."
Fritz was ashamed of his treatment of Pixy, and was glad to pour some of the water into a basin which the innkeeper reached to him. He carried it to the porch, where Pixy ran quickly and drank as if he was afraid the basin would be taken away from him.
"Now, boys, I must go on home," said Mr. Furman as he shook hands with them. "Good-bye! Remember me to your fathers, and take good care of Pixy."
AT THE SWAN INN
The moment the carriage was out of sight the boys turned to their own needs.
"I don't believe I was ever so hungry in my life," ejaculated Franz, and the others agreed with him, and set about the best way to have their hunger satisfied.
"Mr. Swan, what have you for supper?" asked Fritz.
The landlord laughed heartily at the name, but as the boy had given it in all sincerity, thinking that, as it was the Swan Inn, it must take its name from its owner, he did not correct him. Instead, he asked a question in response.
"What would you like to have?"
"Have you fresh lettuce?"
"Yes, plenty of it; what else?"
"Yes; you can have roasted potatoes. What kind of meat will you have with it? We have a fine roast of veal."
"The very thing we like!" cried the boys jubilantly, but the ever frugal Fritz regretted that they had spoken for the veal, and wondered whether they could not change the order.
"I am afraid it will cost us too much," he said in a whisper, but the landlord had already gone to the kitchen and they had to let it stand.
"It may be that we are in an expensive hotel," he continued, "and our night's lodging may cost us a good sum. But I will tell you what we can do. We will not take breakfast here, but will buy a roll in the village and when we come to a brook we can eat it. A roll and a cup of fresh water will be enough breakfast for us."
"No," said Franz, "I won't eat a roll and drink water; I must have my breakfast and coffee; you can drink water, a bucket full if you choose. My father does not wish us to go hungry on this journey. But we can talk about it after we have had our supper."
"Yes, you are right," added Paul. "I will have my breakfast and coffee in the morning. And, boys, we are now in a hotel that is more stylish than the one in which we took dinner. We must not eat all that we take on our plates, but will leave a little, then the landlord will think 'they must have had enough, for they have not eaten all.'"
This brought up a discussion, the other two fearing that if any food were left upon their plates the innkeeper's feelings would be wounded, believing that they were not satisfied with the food. The dialogue waxed warm, but it was finally decided that they would take more upon their plates than they could eat, and thus could leave some, to spare the feelings of the innkeeper by letting him know that they had enough. They also decided that they would not eat so hurriedly and greedily as at dinner. Just then supper was announced, and the three hungry travelers went to the supper-room and took their places.
In addition to the dish of roast veal, lettuce and potatoes, there was a plate of white rolls and a dish of stewed pears.
The boys forgot their agreement in regard to eating slowly, and the viands disappeared like frost in the beams of a July sun. The lettuce and stewed pears had disappeared like magic, and but one piece of the veal and two rolls remained.
They arose from the table and were about to leave, when Fritz took the piece of veal upon his fork and ate it.
"What is the use of leaving it when one has an appetite for it?" he said.
"Then as none of the veal is left we may as well eat the rolls," said Franz. Paul agreed and the plate was empty, and nothing was left to prove to the landlord that they had more than enough.
"Oh, boys, we have again forgotten to feed Pixy!" said Fritz. "You see my little sister feeds him at home and that is the reason that I forget him."
This was a misfortune and there was no help for it but to tell the innkeeper.
"Would you give Pixy his supper for three pennies?" asked Fritz.
"Oh, don't bother about the dog. He has had his supper in the yard. Don't you see how well he is sleeping on the porch?"
The three now concluded to take a walk through the village, followed or rather guided by Pixy, who could be trusted without his rope in that quiet place, but they soon returned and asked to be shown to their room. The landlord led the way to a large, pleasant room with three single beds in it, and pointed to a piece of carpet for Pixy, for Fritz had asked permission for him to share their room. Then he wished them a good sleep, bade them good-night and went below.
The room was different from any that they had ever seen, not at all like theirs in their own homes. It was not square, but had many nooks and corners which the light of one candle could not reach. Paul said it was like a room he once read of, which had a secret door which led down to an underground passage where travelers were robbed and left there to find their way out if they could. This blood-curdling narrative filled the hearers' minds with fears of what might happen, and they resolved to barricade the door. They locked it, and then pushed the washstand and chairs against it.
"A robber could not push these things away without waking us," remarked Paul.
"No, and before he could get in, Pixy would be ready to fly at him," said Fritz proudly.
This was a great comfort to the three and they prepared to disrobe for sleep.
"We have not much money to waste for lodging," remarked Fritz, "and if we sleep in three beds we will have to pay for three; let us all sleep in one, and we will have to pay for but one."
This was a great stroke of policy, and the others agreed heartily. Although each bed was only intended for one grown person, the boys thought they could manage it.
"Let Paul sleep in the middle because he is the slimmest," Fritz said. "I will sleep back and Franz can sleep front."
This met with approval and then Franz made a suggestion.
"Wise travelers always put their money under their pillows," he said, "then a burglar cannot get it without waking them. We will tie the three pocketbooks together, and put them under Paul's head, then a robber would have to reach over Fritz or me to get it."
This was considered an excellent scheme, and the three dropped into bed and in five minutes were asleep.
Pixy considered the situation for a minute, then sprang upon the foot of the bed, curled around and was soon in the land of dreams.
All went well until Fritz had a troubled dream. He had fallen out of bed, had rolled under it, and thought he was in a trunk with the lid partly shut down and he could not get out, so set up a wailing cry.
"What is the matter in there?" called the landlord from outside the door.
"Oh, I don't know where I am!" cried Fritz.
"Well, open the door and I will soon see. Oh, it is locked. Well, never mind. I will come through the portiere way."
He soon appeared with a light, and Fritz crept from under the bed and sat blinking beside it.
The three boys were astonished to see the landlord in their room without having to ask them to remove the barricade. They did not know that the portiere hung before an open door leading into the hall as did the one they had taken so much trouble to make secure.
"Now, boys," he said, laughing heartily, "have you lost your senses, or had you none to lose? Now tell me, Fritz, why were you under the bed?"
"I don't know how I got there, but I dreamed that I was in a trunk and the lid was almost down, and I could not raise it."
"Oh, you silly boy! of course you fell out of that narrow bed. What possessed you to all crowd in there when there are three beds in the room?"
"We did not wish to pay for all three."
"Then why did you not tell me that you wished only one bed, and I would have put you in a room where there is a larger one? Now, why did you barricade the door?"
"We were afraid of robbers," explained Paul after a long pause.
This amused the innkeeper mightily and he laughed till he shook.
"Locked and barred one door and left the other standing wide open!" he said with tears of mirth in his eyes.
"Well, well," he said, "no harm is done. Now each one get into a bed, with no heed to the pay. Mr. Furman has paid the whole bill for your stay here in return for the sweet songs you sang for him."
The boys made great eyes over this piece of news, and lost no time in getting themselves into the other beds.
"Wait, boys! You must first put the pieces of furniture back in their places, then go to bed and sleep well. You yet have several hours. What time do you wish to leave in the morning?"
"At six o'clock we must be on our way."
"All right," said the jolly landlord, and as he glanced at their rosy, bright faces, each in his own bed, he laughed, shook his head and went out, and soon the three boys and Pixy were sound asleep.
It is not known how long they would have slept had not the landlord paid them another visit.
"You have slept past the breakfast hour. Do you intend sleeping until dinner time?" he asked laughingly.
"No indeed! What time is it?" asked Fritz, opening his eyes sleepily.
"Nine o'clock and I thought you wished to start at six."
"Up, you sleepers!" cried the boy, as he sprang out of bed. The others obeyed promptly and commenced dressing, and in a short time appeared with clean hands, faces and teeth, at the good breakfast provided for them, their hair neatly brushed, and their spirits refreshed from a sound sleep in comfortable beds. On the back porch was a dish of good food for Pixy, that he might be ready to go as soon as the boys finished the meal.
When they were about to continue their journey, the landlord gave each of them a large roll and one for Pixy, saying that it would stay hunger until they reached an inn where they could take dinner.
Pixy was delighted to see them again on the move, and while the boys were bidding the host and hostess good-bye ran out in the street; and before his master caught up with him, he was in the midst of a fight with street curs. Fritz ran to protect his pet, who was taking his own part bravely, and Peter, the waiter at the inn, ran with a bucket of cold water which he dashed upon the circling mass of yelpers, and the fight was brought to a sudden finish.
Pixy came out of the combat sound, and ready for another fight, and Fritz was unharmed; the only injury being to the seat of his trousers, from which a piece had been torn by one of the street curs as a souvenir of the first visit to Umstadt.
"Come here, child;" called the landlady to Fritz, "you cannot go among the stylish people of Frankfort with the hem of your shirt showing. I will mend it as well as I can, and when you get there, your aunt can mend it better. Now see what trouble your dog has brought upon you!"
"Pixy didn't tear my pants. It was one of the strange dogs. I am glad I brought him."
"No, your dog did not tear them, but if he had not been here there would not have been a fight."
"But he did not commence it. They fought him, and he had to defend himself."
"That too is true, but they do not wish a strange dog among them, nor will other dogs he meets on his travels. So he should have been left at home. Now go up to your room and take one of the boys with you to bring down your trousers, and I will do the best I can to mend them."
This was done, and Fritz sat disconsolately upon a chair waiting for the return of Paul. He began to question within himself whether he had done a wise thing to bring Pixy. The first dogs they had met had fought him, and it might be that he would get worsted in many a battle before he was again safely at home.
At length Paul brought up the trousers, but to Fritz's dismay the patch was of different color. His father being a cloth merchant, the cloth was of good quality and Fritz had always been rather proud of it, but now to have a dark blue patch on dark brown trousers was mortifying indeed. But there was no help for it. The good woman had done the best she could, and he must wear them until he reached Frankfort.
A happy thought came to Paul. "Wear your rain-coat," he said. "It is long enough to hide the patch."
Franz, who had come up to learn the cause of delay, thought it an excellent idea, so ran down and brought up the knapsack containing the coat.
Fritz put it on, much relieved that the objectionable ornament was hidden from public view, and the three went below to resume their journey.
More than an hour had been lost by this mishap, and the landlord advised that they take the train to Frankfort in continuance of their journey.
"But we set out to walk, and told everybody that we were going to walk, and we will walk," responded Fritz resolutely.
"That would be all right if you had started early enough. You might then by steady walking have made the journey before dark. As it is, you cannot reach there until night which would be rather hard for you in a strange city, and you would have to wake your aunt out of sleep to let you in."
"But we have an hour yet until dinner time. We can walk a long distance in an hour."
"All right, then. Good-bye, and a pleasant journey."
"Good-bye, and a pleasant journey," echoed Peter, who, having cleaned the dust from the shoes of the three, carried their wash-water up to their room, and thrown water on the fighting dogs, was in evidence on the porch waiting for tips.
"Will we give him anything?" whispered Paul.
"No," replied Fritz. "I would think if Mr. Furman paid for all, he would not forget to give Peter something for waiting upon us. Come on."
Had they opened their hearts to give the waiting Peter a few pennies, it would have saved them much anxiety, but they walked away without casting one backward glance.
They felt somewhat weary from their walk of the day before, yet enjoyed the fresh air, the song of the birds, the fragrant smell of woods and meadows; and Pixy frolicked along sometimes before and sometimes behind them, but never losing sight of his master.
They had walked more than a mile when Fritz halted suddenly and grasped the arm of Paul.
"Did you take our money from under your pillow?" he asked.
"I? No, I never thought about it. You put it under the pillow, and I have never thought of it since seeing you put it there."
"Now, Paul, it was Franz and I who went to the other beds, you were left in the one where the money was hidden. You must have it, and are only trying to scare us. Of course, you would not leave it under the pillow."
"Of course I did! I tell you that I never thought of it once."
"Then, Franz, you would not forget it. Certainly you have it in your pocket."
"Certainly I have not! I have never thought of it since you put it under the pillow."
"Oh, that is too bad!" cried Fritz, flushing with dismay. "We will have to go back to the inn and get it."
"Not I," asserted Franz. "I would be ashamed to go back. Remember how Mr. Swan laughed because we stacked things against the door."
"Nor will I," echoed Paul stoutly.
"Then we can go no further on our journey to Frankfort; we will have to go back home, for we have no money."
"Now just see!" ejaculated Paul, "you remembered the dog which is of no use to us, and forgot the money that we cannot do without. We must go back for it," and like the sons of Jacob returning to Egypt, they turned their faces toward Umstadt.
A slight coolness reigned among the triplets; a cloud rested upon the brows of Franz and Paul that for the forgetfulness of Fritz they must face the landlord, and more than that the tipless Peter. So with red cheeks and eyes cast down they returned to the Swan inn, and the landlord met them at the door with a smiling welcome.
"I expected you," he said. "You remind me of the story of the traveler who upon his journey came to a cross road, and, not knowing which to take, returned home. But I judge you had a better reason that it will be a great pleasure to you to relate."
On their way back Fritz had said, "If the money is under the pillow we can get it, and there will be no need of telling the hotel people why we came back. Then they will not have a chance to laugh at us."
The others agreed to this, so he was ready with his reply.
"Yes, sir; we left a trifle under our pillow, and came back to get it."
"Only a trifle?"
"A small package, but as we do not wish to leave it, we came back for it."
"That was quite right. You can go up and seek for it."
The three flew up the steps, but soon returned with long faces and tearful eyes.
"We have not found it, Mr. Swan," they said.
"But if it is only a trifle, why need you care?" asked the landlord, laughing heartily. "But," he added, "there are sometimes important things left by travelers, for this morning our chambermaid found in one of the rooms this handkerchief in which is tied three small pocketbooks," and he held it up out of reach of the boys.
"It is ours," cried the boys gleefully. "Give it to us, please," and they reached for it.
"Hands off!" laughed the landlord. "How am I to know that the purses are yours, when you said you had left a trifle? So it cannot be your money; for money is no trifle to a traveler. In truth nothing is more useful to him. It will supply him with a bed, comfortable room, good meals, and with it he can pay something for having his dusty shoes cleaned after a day's walk. Now do you think money is a trifle when with it you can have bed, meals, and service such as brushing dusty shoes? All these things can be had for a piece of paper, or a coin that you can hide under your tongue. Then is money really a trifle? Even if there is not much money in these little purses, yet what would you do if they were not returned to you?"
"Oh, please forgive us that we have been so foolish," pleaded Fritz. "The purses are ours and we came back to get them, and we can tell you of every penny that is in each of them. I have a—"
"Oh, you do not need to tell me! I knew that they could belong only to you. They are just as Letta, our chambermaid, found them. Our people are honest."
"Where is she? and where is Peter? We wish to give them something."
"Peter, Letta, come! You are wanted," called the landlord, and they came and stood waiting to hear the reason for being summoned.
Each of the boys in the meantime had his purse in his hand, and they were holding a hurried and whispered conversation which ended by them taking twenty cents from each purse, ten for Letta and ten for Peter, who received it with smiling faces. The travelers felt that they had done the right thing, their self-respect was restored, and they were about to start again upon their travels when a new thought came to Fritz.
"At what time do you have dinner here, Mr. Swan?" he asked.
Again the landlord could not control his laughter, as he replied, "It will be ready in half an hour."
"Suppose we stay," said Fritz, turning to his companions. "I am terribly hungry."
"So am I," echoed Paul.
"So am I," agreed Franz.
"I was about to suggest that you take dinner with us," said their host. "It is quite a distance to the next public house."
"What will you have for dinner, Mr. Swan?"
"Liverwurst, roast potatoes, stewed pears, and warm brown bread with butter."
"I love every one of those things," remarked Franz.
"What will the dinner cost each of us?" asked Fritz.
"What would it cost?" echoed the innkeeper as if reflecting. "Oh, we will not talk of that. All I can say is that we wish every one who eats here to have plenty, and after the meal is over we can tell better what it is worth."
"We will stay," said the boys jubilantly, and removed their knapsacks. When dinner was served their host led the way to the dining-room and gave them places, and took his own. His wife was already at the table, then followed Letta and Peter. The landlord removed his skull-cap, bowed his head reverently as did the others and asked a blessing upon the meal; then he and his wife told the boys to help themselves, which they did forthwith from the large plates well-filled which they had placed before them.
Peter, who sat opposite, was filled with admiration of their powers of endurance, and said to himself, as the viands disappeared with astonishing celerity, "How much will it take to fill them when they are men? They make me think of our William when he was a growing boy, and had eaten all he could hold, father would say, 'William, are you satisfied,' and he would say, 'No, father. I am full, but I am not satisfied.'"
But notwithstanding the comparison with the insatiable William, the boys expressed themselves as fully satisfied when every vessel of food had disappeared from the plates, and when they returned to the reception-room told the landlord that they had heartily enjoyed the excellent dinner and asked again the cost of it for each.
"The cost? Well now, let me state the case as it really stands," said the smiling landlord. "If you had come and ordered a dinner of the kind you wished, and took seats at the public table, with a servant to wait upon you, I should have charged you the same that I would charge any other guest. But you just sat down with us at our family table, and shared the plain dinner that had been prepared for us, so I do not charge you anything."
"But we did have just the kind of dinner we like," said Fritz, "and I am afraid our fathers would not like us to go away without paying for it."
"Oh, boys, don't worry. Your fathers have taken many a dinner here, and, God willing, will take many more. All I ask of you is to take my advice by going to the station and taking the train for Frankfort. If you go now you will be in good time to catch the afternoon train for Frankfort. Now good-bye and a pleasant journey!"
The three boys shouldered their knapsacks, Fritz still wearing his rain-coat, although the sun shone brightly, and went through the market place on their way to the station, Pixy in the lead carrying a bone that Letta had given him after he finished his dinner, while the family gathered on the porch and watched their slow movements with tears of mirth in their eyes.
They had intended walking to Frankfort for two reasons. It would be something of an exploit to relate to their schoolfellows, and it would save money; but slow as they traveled to the station, the train seemed to have waited for them for they were in ample time.
"Do you wish single fares, or return tickets?" asked the clerk.
This was a question which could not be settled too quickly. The boys held a consultation, and Fritz gave the deciding opinion.
"If we buy a return ticket," he explained, "we will save money, but we may want to walk back, and then would have to lose what we pay for a return ticket. Besides, if we did not want to ride home, some one of us, or it may be all of us, might lose our return ticket, and Aunt Fanny would insist giving us money for tickets which we would not wish her to do. No, we will take single fares."
They bought them, and were about to step into a car when they were stopped by the conductor.
"Where is your ticket for the dog?" he asked.
"Must I have a ticket for him?" asked the boy, in surprise.
"I should say so! You must be a kindergarten youngster to ask such a question. Moreover, if anybody in the car objects to having him in there, you will have to take him in a freight car even if you have a ticket for him."
"I object," said a woman, sitting in the car next the window. "Who wants to get dog hairs on them when traveling for pleasure?"
"What shall we do?" asked Fritz, ready to cry.
"Get a ticket and get it quickly for the train will soon start, and put the dog in the freight car."
"But I must go with him. He would be frightened to be there without me."
"Certainly. You can go as freight if you wish. I have nothing to say against it."
Fritz hurried away, secured the ticket and returned, sad with the thought of being separated from his companions, but smiles came again to his face when they told him that they would go to the freight car with him.
They hurried in, and the train moved off while they were looking about them, hoping to see among the freight some boxes that would serve for seats.
They were nearly thrown off their feet, while Pixy, not at all unsettled by the motion of the cars, saw something so interesting in a slatted box filled with chickens that he sniffed and capered about in doggish delight. But the chickens were not at all pleased with his appearance, and fluttered, cackled and shrieked, awakening the old woman who was taking them to market.
"Whose black fiend of a dog is that, running loose about a freight car?" she exclaimed angrily.
"It is mine, good lady," said Fritz soothingly. "I did not wish him to frighten your chickens."
"How do I know that you did not set him on them while I was asleep? If he has hurt them, you will pay well for them."
"See, here is the cord that I hold him with," said the boy, taking it from his knapsack. "I will tie it to his collar, and he will not go near your chickens again."
But all that he could say was but oil to the fire, and Fritz found that the wiser plan for him was to keep silent; while Pixy, understanding that the storm of words had something to do with him, crept behind the box on which his master sat and looked up at him with a very penitent air.
The seats the boys had taken did not prove permanent, for at every station some of the freight must be taken out, and some brought in, but they enjoyed the trip, for the old woman and her chickens left the car at one of the stations, and they had the place to themselves.
"Is this Frankfort?" they asked at every station.
"No," the guard replied, "and I expect you to ask at every stopping place until we really reach Frankfort, and then you will not ask."
"Why?" asked Fritz.
"Because you will know without asking."
Presently Franz called out, "Hurrah, we are here!"
"Where?" asked Fritz, hurrying to the window.
"At Frankfort. See, we are crossing a river. It is the Main. Yes, there is the dome! I know it from the picture of the cathedral in my picture of Frankfort."
"Didn't I say that you wouldn't ask if this is Frankfort? Now boys, out with you, and take your dog. Good-bye!"
A KIND WELCOME
The train drew slowly into the depot at Frankfort, and for the first time in their lives the country boys saw something of the bustle and excitement of travel. A crowd of people was hurrying out of the cars, and an equally hurrying one was passing in, while on the platform of the depot was a waiting crowd greeting returned ones, and bidding farewell to departing ones, in all of which the boys were so interested that for a time they forgot their own interests. At length the departure of the train brought to their remembrance that they, too, must depart and Fritz stepped up to an old gentleman whose pleasant countenance inspired confidence.
"We wish to go to the house of my aunt, Mrs. Fanny Steiner," he said. "Are you acquainted with her? She is a little, thin lady, has gray hair, and wears a widow's cap."
"No, my boy," smiled the old gentleman, "I have not the honor of her acquaintance. Perhaps you can tell me the number of her house and the street?"
"Yes, it is number 37 Bornheimer street."
"Good! I can direct you exactly how to go. You take the electric car which will pass here in a few minutes, and it will take you to the corner of the street not more than a few steps from number 37."
"Oh, thank you, thank you!" said Fritz much relieved. Paul and Franz touched their hats and thanked him, taking Fritz as an example in all things.
The car came, and the three, followed closely by Pixy, rushed to get aboard.
"You can't bring that dog on the car. It is against orders," called the motorman.
"What must I do?" asked Fritz despairingly.
"You must settle that matter between yourself and the dog. Perhaps he will follow the car if he sees you in it."
"Can I stand on the platform where he can see me?"
"No, it is against orders; but you can sit at the window at the end of the car, where he can see you."
"Oh, thank you, thank you!" and the three quickly boarded the car. Fritz took the place designated, and they were off, while Pixy, who believed that his master was deserting him, ran barking and howling in their track.
At every stoppage of the car, Pixy sprang up to the window, but Fritz knew better than to speak one comforting word, although his heart ached for his forlorn traveling companion who must walk—or rather run, and run fast to keep up with the rapidly moving car. At length Pixy learned the lesson of experience. As there was no chance for him at the back end of the car, he would try the front, so at the next stopping-place, he flew along the length of the car, sprang on the front platform and curled about the feet of the motorman.
"See here, boy, you must get out, and take your dog. It is against orders for a dog to be on the platform."
"We will go out, too," said Franz and Paul, jumping up to follow their leader.
"Give us back our money," said Fritz, holding out his hand, when they reached the street.
"No; it is against orders;" and the car sped away.
Pixy was delighted that the three boys were now on the same footing as himself, and proved it by springing up, putting his feet on his master's shoulders and licking his face; and the boy petted him to his heart's content. But Paul and Franz were not flattered in an equal measure with Fritz at Pixy's pleasure in their company as fellow-travelers, and expressed their opinion with clouded faces.
"Now this is the second time that we have paid out money and got but little good out of it because of the dog," grumbled Franz. "He got into a fight and your pants got torn, and we would, I think, have remembered the money if we had not been bothered about having to wait to get them mended. Then we had to come back and pay thirty cents to Peter and thirty to Letta; and afterward had to ride in a freight-car because of your dog."
"If you don't want Pixy with us, I will go back home to-morrow and take him," said Fritz with tears in his eyes. "It has been enough trouble to me that I brought him without first asking papa and mamma. It was a mean thing to do, but I thought it would be so nice to have him take the journey with us."
Franz and Paul were ashamed of their treatment of the one to whom they were indebted for the visit to Mrs. Steiner and Frankfort, and hastened to assure him that no matter what trouble happened through Pixy's fault they would make no word of complaint.
Pixy knew by the change of tone that peace had again spread its blessed wings over the "three-leaved clover," and to show his approbation he fawned upon all three with impartial effusiveness.
"I am sorry that I said that he had no sense like city dogs that were running quietly along-side of wagons, but must try to jump on the car whenever it stopped," said Paul penitently.
"Yes," replied Fritz, throwing his arm around Pixy's neck, "you were both glad when you saw that I was bringing him upon the journey, and now when he brings us into trouble we must not blame him for what he cannot help."
"No, it would not be right to blame him for loving us, and wanting to be with us," agreed Franz.
"Aunt Fanny will rejoice to see him, I know," continued Fritz. "No, I am not at all sorry I brought him, only I wish I had asked leave of papa and mamma."
The mention of his aunt reminded the three that they had yet to find her house, and they were in consultation as to what way to go when a workman in a blue blouse came in sight and they asked the way to 37 Bornheimer street.
"Whom are you going to see there?" he asked.
"My Aunt Fanny Steiner. She lives in the apartments on the third floor."
"If you will give me fifty cents, I will take you there."
The boys glanced at each other but were silent, and the man saw that he had struck too high.
"Well, then, suppose we say thirty pennies. That will be ten each," and to this they agreed and the caravan set out, Fritz leading Pixy by his cord.
The way led through several streets but at length they reached a retired street, and the leader halted before a neat dwelling with a flight of long winding steps leading up to a narrow porch and it was agreed among them that he should go up while the boys waited below. In response to his knock, the door was opened by a small, elderly lady, who was informed that three boys and a dog waited below.
"I am not expecting anyone," she said, stepping out upon the porch and looking down.
"Here we are, Aunt Fanny!" called Fritz. "It is our holiday and we have come to visit you."
"Come right up, dear," exclaimed his aunt joyously; "but leave the dog below. Dogs are not allowed in these apartments."
"But, aunt, it is Pixy, that you take out walking every morning in summer, and always give him a lump of sugar when you visit us in the country."
"Oh," cried the perplexed aunt, "I did not recognize him, but come up, boys. I am heartily glad to see you."
"First give me my money," said their guide, holding out his hand; the money was given, and the three and Pixy ran up the long steps, Fritz saying as he ran, "Come on, boys, we have found Aunt Steiner and she is glad to see us."
"Did you write that you were coming to-day, dear?" asked his aunt when all hands were seated and the boys had laid aside their knapsacks.
"No, aunt. You know I wrote two weeks ago and told you that Franz and I were coming as soon as school was done; and we thought you would not mind if we brought Paul."
"No, I am really glad he is with you; I met Paul and his parents when I was at your home in the country and am glad to welcome him as well as Franz, whose parents are dear friends of mine. The only reason that I would be glad if you had written is that I might have provided another bed. There is only one in my spare room."
The boys looked at each other with anxious glances. It seemed to them a hopeless case for they had tried the experiment of three in a bed at the Swan inn, and it had not been a success.
"Don't feel concerned, dear boys," said Mrs. Steiner kindly; "there is a wide lounge in the room with a head-piece which serves as a pillow. One of you can sleep upon it."
"Let Franz and Paul have the bed, aunt. I am perfectly willing to sleep on the lounge."
"Then that matter is settled. Now about the dog."
"He does not need a bed, dear Aunt Fanny," replied the boy, reddening with anxiety. "He can sleep on the floor anywhere, and he does not eat much; just the scraps from the table will suit him."
"I am not thinking of his bed or of his food, my dear; but you have come to Frankfort on a sight-seeing tour, and dogs will not be allowed at any place that you will want to go."
"Then we can leave him here."
"But to that there is also an objection. When I rented this suite of rooms, I assured the owner who lives on the first floor that I had no dog. In the apartments below me lives an old lady who is afraid of dogs and is frightened at noise. Now if Pixy should howl or bark while you are out, what would I do?"
Fritz loved his dog and it distressed him that there seemed to be no place in the world where he was tolerated except his father's house; therefore there seemed no other course than to return home and take Pixy with him.
"Oh, dear aunt!" he said tearfully, "let us stay this one night, and to-morrow I will go back home."
"My dear boy," said his aunt with tears of sympathy in her eyes, "do you think for a moment that I would allow you to go home, when this is the very first time you have paid me a visit? No; come with me and bring Pixy with you. We will go down to the first floor to see Mr. Steerer, the owner of this house, and ask him if he will let you keep your dog during your visit."
This was one ray of sunlight on a cloudy day, and Fritz and Pixy followed down the long steps. Mrs. Steiner rang the bell of the first floor apartments, and Mr. Steerer opened the door and invited them in.
"Now tell the gentleman why we have come," said Mrs. Steiner.
But Fritz was weeping too bitterly to make explanations, and his aunt had to speak for him.
"I have no objection to the dog staying," replied Mr. Steerer kindly, "providing he does not bark and annoy my tenant on the second floor."
"Now, Pixy, thank the gentleman for his kindness," said Aunt Fanny, and immediately the intelligent animal sat upon his hind feet and waved his right fore foot back and forth.
"But you must speak," commanded Fritz, who was smiling through his tears, whereupon Pixy gave a sharp little bark while again waving his paw.
"Now we will call and ask Mrs. Hagner if your dog can stay," said Aunt Fanny when they reached the door of the old lady's apartments and gently tapped.
"Come in! Come in!" laughed a voice within, "and I am pretty sure that I know why you have come."
Fritz felt so relieved at their pleasant reception that he made the explanation.
"Certainly, certainly, I will not object," replied Mrs. Hagner. "I do not like dogs, but I do like my neighbor and I like boys; so taking these two likings together, you see they are too strong to be mastered by the one dislike."
"Thank the lady for her kindness, Pixy," said Fritz gleefully and it was done, not omitting the bark, and aunt and nephew went with light hearts up the steps to the third floor to tell the anxious Franz and Paul the result of their visit.
"Now, children," said Mrs. Steiner, "let us lay that care and all others aside and be happy. I am rejoiced to see you all, and hope to make you have a pleasant visit. But you must also do your share to make it so by being satisfied with what I can do to entertain you. You must be contented with the few pleasures I can offer. And now tell me, Fritz, why you are wearing a rain-coat on a clear day," and Fritz explained the situation in a few words.
"Well, dear Fritz, we must sometimes have shadow instead of sunshine, thorns instead of roses; and you must not let this mar your pleasure. I am glad to see young, cheerful people about me; it makes me feel young again."
The boys looked at each other with a satisfied smile. They felt that it was the right kind of a welcome, and Fritz was proud of his father's sister.
"Now you can take your knapsacks into my spare-bedroom," she continued, opening the door of a pleasant apartment. At that moment to the joy of Fritz, a porter from the depot brought his satchel, and at the request of Mrs. Steiner placed it in their room. He lost no time in taking out a pair of trousers, putting the patched ones in the trunk, and then the three returned to the sitting-room which was also dining-room.
"Now, boys," said Mrs. Steiner, "I was just preparing supper for myself when you came, and all I will have to do is to add something more substantial for three travelers. But first I must ask how it happened that you did not write at least a postal to let me know you were coming? I might have been away from home. Then what would you have done?"
"Father said I ought to write to you and tell you the time we would be here," replied Fritz, "but I put it off until it was too late, and I thought you would not care."
"No, it does not make the least difference to me but it might have made a great difference to you. I might have been sick, or, as I said before, away from home. So do not trust to chance in such matters, but more than all, do as your parents advise. They know best. Now I see that it is my usual time for getting supper, and Paul will go out with me to buy something for it. Fritz and Franz can go into the kitchen and wash their hands in the basin hanging by the sink. Then Franz can tie on an apron he will see out there and take the peelings from a dish of boiled potatoes on the table and cut them up in small pieces, while Fritz sets the table in this room. The tablecloth is in this drawer, and the dishes in the cupboard; and he can set the table for four people as he sees it set at home. Now, Paul, we will go."
Nothing could have made the boys feel more at home that first evening than the sharing of the work of the household, and all joined in cheerfully.
"I am as hungry as a wolf; I could almost eat the cold potatoes," remarked Franz.
"So could I, but we can wait. Aunt will get supper quickly when she comes." And he was right, for the boys had scarcely finished their work when they heard her and Paul coming up the steps, and a half hour later supper was ready.
She had turned the well-chopped potatoes in a hot pan in which was melted butter and set Franz to stir them that they might brown without burning. In another pan she put the slices of liverwurst for Fritz to watch, and Paul, who had first been sent to the kitchen to wash his hands, put the slices of rich ham upon a pretty pink plate, and fresh lettuce upon another, and placed them upon the table, while Mrs. Steiner cut the bread and got a pitcher of new milk.
"Now, Fritz, before we take our suppers, here is a plate upon which you can break some pieces of bread and soften it with this good milk."
"What for?" asked the boy in surprise.
"For Pixy, who is waiting so patiently. Could we enjoy our supper knowing that the poor dumb creature is hungry?"
This was done and the plate placed on the floor by the window, and the heart of Fritz was filled with pleasure to see Pixy's appreciation of the good supper.
The potatoes and liverwurst, both beautifully browned, were placed upon the table, and all sat down.
"Did I set the table nicely, Aunt Fanny?" asked Fritz.
"Yes, very well indeed, except that you forgot the napkins. Please get four out of that drawer, and then choose the places you wish," and she took her own at the head of the table. Bowing her head she said in reverent voice, "Dear Jesus, be our guest at this meal and at all our meals. Bless the good food Thou hast given us, and receive our grateful thanks. Amen."
"Now, my boys," she continued cordially, "you cannot fail being hungry, and I hope you will eat heartily and if the meat and potatoes fail us, we can make out with this good brown and white bread, and butter and new milk and these stewed pears."
The boys were glad to obey and the viands disappeared like magic. Mrs. Steiner had many questions to ask about her brother and his family but would not disturb Fritz until he had finished supper. An old adage came into her mind as she saw them eat, "When a sheep bleats you may be sure he has no food in his mouth."
She was glad to see that they heartily enjoyed their supper, and when finished she made a proposition. "You can rest while I put the place in order for the night and then we will take a walk."
"Can I take Pixy?" asked Fritz eagerly.
"Certainly, if you lead him by his cord, and if a policeman speaks to you about your dog having no tag or muzzle, tell him that you are from the country and are only visiting Frankfort, which is your reason for not having one or the other."
"But I am afraid the policeman will take him. I would rather stay here with him."
"There is no danger of him taking the dog from you. The most he could do would be to make you pay a fine; and I am sure he will not do that when we explain matters to him. Now we will go."
"Where are all the people going?" asked Fritz when they reached the street. "At home we only see a crowd when the church service is over and that is but for a little while. Here the street seems alive all the time."
"Yes, Frankfort has more than three hundred thousand inhabitants and of course many are on the street, some caring for business, others for pleasure, and some, like us, are sight-seeing."
"Just see that beautiful place like a rich man's garden!" said Franz, "with trees and plants and flowers, and so many people walking there."
"Yes, they are the public gardens or promenades, and are in place of what was once the fortifications of the city. In the early part of the nineteenth century part of them were taken away and this splendid girdle of plants and beautiful walks took their place."
"Oh, it is lovely, lovely!" exclaimed Paul. "I never before saw a garden lighted, and with so many gas lamps that it is as bright as if the sun were shining. Can we go in?"
"Yes, but we will wait here a little while. Do you see this beautiful lake surrounded by trees? In a few minutes you will see a beautiful scene which will surprise you."
"Oh, this is the surprise," cried the boys in a breath, for like magic myriads of gas lights sprang up along the line of the trees and the Main river. It was a bewildering sight to the country boys, who had no words to express their pleasure.
"And two rows of lights are across the river," exclaimed Paul.
"Yes, they are on the fine new bridge over the Main; and above is the old bridge and several others which you can visit while in Frankfort."
They crossed the bridge and looked at the great dome of the cathedral, and while they were gazing, eight solemn strokes sounded from its clock, and other clocks over the city struck the hour.
"We have but one clock and one church-tower in our village," remarked Franz. "The boys in Frankfort don't get the chance to say the clock is wrong when they are late to school."
Thus chatting, they reached the bridge, and, leaning upon the parapet, gazed at the brilliant scene.
"See, Aunt Fanny, what is that coming down the river? A whole company of boats filled with people, and with music, and with flags flying?"
"That is a regatta, or sailing match. It will go under this bridge and down to the old one, then will turn and go up to that island where they will all leave the boats and will have games and refreshments."
As the boats passed under the bridge Fritz would have liked to jump down among the group of boys in the first boat; and he watched intently as the merry company passed up the river and turn, and then stepped off on the island.
"Aunt, do let us go to the old bridge, and look at the people," he said eagerly.
Mrs. Steiner was glad to oblige, and they hurried to the bridge to see the boats land, each one greeted by cheers. The whole company joined in a march to the sound of martial music by the band, then a short speech was listened to and when finished our triplets joined in the cheers, and the throwing up of hats without in the least knowing what the speech was about, or by whom made.
Fritz was so full of delight over the whole affair that he rubbed his hands in glee as he made known his resolution to be a cloth merchant when he was old enough and would come to live in Frankfort, and meant to join the rudder club. "I will tell them now that I will join," he ended enthusiastically.
"I think it will be a little too early, my boy," smiled his aunt.
"I don't wish to be too late."
"But it will be some years before you are a merchant."
"I am going to join the marines," exclaimed Franz eagerly. "Father wishes me to be a forester, and I had not made up my mind what I would be. Now I know. Yes, I will join the marines. Oh, that is a jolly life."
"Are you sure of that, my boy?" asked a man who stood near them on the crowded bridge, and Mrs. Steiner turned to greet August Stayman whom she had known from his boyhood, and introduced the boys to him.
"And so you think the life of a marine a jolly one?" he asked, turning again to Franz. "Well, our kaiser will need good strong men, and I will not discourage you. I was three years on the sea in storm and adventure, on a war-vessel, and am yet living and in good health."
"And what are you now?" asked Fritz.
"I am the owner of a cloth and clothing store, and also a tailor, and can wield the needle as well as ever, although my hands had been hardened by the heavy ropes."
"Did you have to come to Frankfort to join the marines?" asked Franz.
"No, I was born in Frankfort on the shore of the Main. People used to call me a water-rat; and they were right, for I became a more expert seaman on the Main than do many on the ocean. My longing was to be a seaman, and my mother, who was at first opposed to it, gave consent, and I have never regretted it. I looked death in the face many times, but escaped without a scratch."