THE LITTLE COLONEL'S HERO
By ANNIE FELLOWS JOHNSTON
AUTHOR OF "THE LITTLE COLONEL," "TWO LITTLE KNIGHTS OF KENTUCKY," "BIG BROTHER," "ASA HOLMES," "THE LITTLE COLONEL'S HOUSE PARTY," "THE LITTLE COLONEL'S HOLIDAYS," ETC.
FRONTISPIECE BY ETHELDRED B. BARRY
L.C. PAGE & COMPANY BOSTON PUBLISHERS
BY THE PAGE COMPANY
All rights reserved
Made in U.S.A.
Twenty-seventh Impression, June, 1925 Twenty-eighth Impression, February, 1926 Twenty-ninth Impression, January, 1928 Thirtieth Impression, June, 1929 Thirty-first Impression, October, 1930 Thirty-second Impression, March, 1932 Thirty-third Impression, February, 1934 Thirty-fourth Impression, August, 1935 Thirty-fifth Impression, July, 1937
PRINTED BY THE COLONIAL PRESS INC.,
CLINTON, MASS., U.S.A.
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THE LITTLE COLONEL BOOKS
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The Little Colonel's House Party $1.00 The Little Colonel's Holidays $1.00 The Little Colonel's Hero $1.00
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The Little Colonel Stories $2.00
(Containing the three stories, "The Little Colonel," "The Giant Scissors," and "Two Little Knights of Kentucky.")
The Little Colonel Stories—Second Series $2.00
(Containing the three stories, "The Three Tremonts," "The Little Colonel in Switzerland," and "Ole Mammy's Torment.")
The Little Colonel's House Party $2.00 The Little Colonel's Holidays 2.00 The Little Colonel's Hero 2.00 The Little Colonel at Boarding-School 2.00 The Little Colonel in Arizona 2.00 The Little Colonel's Christmas Vacation 2.00 The Little Colonel: Maid of Honor 2.00 The Little Colonel's Knight Comes Riding 2.00 The Little Colonel's Chum: Mary Ware 2.00 Mary Ware in Texas 2.00 Mary Ware's Promised Land 2.00 The above 13 vols., boxed, as a set 26.00
I. HER TWELFTH BIRTHDAY 11
II. THE WONDER-BALL BEGINS TO UNWIND 25
III. LLOYD MEETS HERO 41
IV. HERO'S STORY 55
V. THE RED CROSS OF GENEVA 67
VI. THE WONDER-BALL'S BEST GIFT 79
VII. IN TOURS 102
VIII. WITH BETTY AND EUGENIA 121
IX. AT THE GATE OF THE GIANT SCISSORS 136
X. ON THE WING 147
XI. HOMEWARD BOUND 161
XII. HOME AGAIN 179
XIII. "THE RESCUE OF THE PRINCESS WINSOME" 197
XIV. IN CAMP 234
XV. THE SENTRY'S MISTAKE 249
XVI. "TAPS" 262
THE LITTLE COLONEL'S HERO
HER TWELFTH BIRTHDAY
"Oh, Tarbaby! Everybody has forgotten that it is my birthday! Even Papa Jack has gone off to town without saying a word about it, and he nevah did such a thing befo' in all his life!"
As she spoke, the Little Colonel put her arm around her pony's neck, and for a moment her fair little head was pressed disconsolately against its velvety black mane.
"It isn't the presents I care about," she whispered, choking back a heart-broken sob; "but oh, Tarbaby, it's the bein' forgotten! Of co'se mothah couldn't be expected to remembah, she's been so ill. But I think grandfathah might, or Mom Beck, or somebody. If there'd only been one single person when I came down-stairs this mawnin' to say 'I wish you many happy returns, Lloyd, deah,' I wouldn't feel so bad. But there wasn't, and I nevah felt so misah'ble and lonesome and left out since I was bawn."
Tarbaby had no words with which to comfort his little mistress, but he seemed to understand that she was in trouble, and rubbed his nose lovingly against her shoulder. The mute caress comforted her as much as words could have done, and presently she climbed into the saddle and started slowly down the avenue to the gate.
It was a warm May morning, sweet with the fragrance of the locusts, for the great trees arching above her were all abloom, and the ground beneath was snowy with the wind-blown petals. Under the long white arch she rode, with the fallen blossoms white at her feet. The pewees called from the cedars and the fat red-breasted robins ran across the lawn just as they had done the spring before, when it was her eleventh birthday, and she had ridden along that same way singing, the happiest hearted child in the Valley. But she was not singing to-day. Another sob came up in her throat as she thought of the difference.
"Now I'm a whole yeah oldah," she sighed. "Oh, deah! I don't want to grow up, one bit, and I'll be suah 'nuff old on my next birthday, for I'll be in my teens then. I wondah how that will feel. This last yeah was such a lovely one, for it brought the house pahty and so many holidays. But this yeah has begun all wrong. I can't help feelin' that it's goin' to bring me lots of trouble."
Half-way down the avenue she thought she heard some one calling her, and stopped to look back. But no one was in sight. The shutters were closed in her mother's room.
"Last yeah she stood at the window and waved to me when I rode away," sighed the child, her eyes filling with tears again. "Now she's so white and ill it makes me cry to look at her. Maybe that is the trouble this yeah is goin' to bring me. Betty's mothah died, and Eugenia's, and maybe"—but the thought was too dreadful to put into words, and she stopped abruptly.
"Mom Beck was right," she whispered with a nod of her head. "She said that sad thoughts are like crows. They come in flocks. I wish I could stop thinkin' about such mou'nful things."
A train passed as she cantered through the gate and started down the road beside the railroad track. She drew rein to watch it thunder by. Some child at the window pointed a finger at her, and then two smiling little faces were pressed against the pane for an eager glimpse. It was the prettiest wayside picture the passengers had seen in all that morning's travel—the Little Colonel on her pony, with the spray of locust bloom in the cockade of the Napoleon cap she wore, and a plume of the same graceful blossoms nodding jauntily over each of Tarbaby's black ears.
As the admiring faces whirled past her, Lloyd drew a long breath of relief. "I'm glad that I don't have to do my riding in a smoky old car this May mawnin'," she thought. "It is wicked for me to be so unhappy when I have Tarbaby and all the othah things that mothah and Papa Jack have given me. I know perfectly well that they love me just the same even if they have forgotten my birthday, and I won't let such old black crow thoughts flock down on me. I'll ride fast and get away from them."
That was harder to do than she had imagined, for as she passed Judge Moore's place the deserted house added to her feeling of loneliness. Andy, the old gardener, was cutting the grass on the front lawn. She called to him.
"When is the family coming out from town, Andy?"
"Not this summer, Miss Lloyd," he answered. "It'll be the first summer in twenty years that the Judge has missed. He has taken a cottage at the seaside, and they're all going there. The house will stay closed, just as you see it now, I reckon, for another year."
"At the seashore!" she echoed. "Not coming out!" She almost gasped, the news was so unexpected. Here was another disappointment, and a very sore one. Every summer, as far back as she could remember, Rob Moore had been her favourite playfellow. Now there would be no more mad Tam O'Shanter races, with Rob clattering along beside her on his big iron-gray horse. No more good times with the best and jolliest of little neighbours. A summer without Rob's cheery whistle and good-natured laugh would seem as empty and queer as the woods without the bird voices, or the meadows without the whirr of humming things. She rode slowly on.
There was no letter for her when she stopped at the post-office to inquire for the mail. The girls on whom she called afterward were not at home, so she rode aimlessly around the Valley until nearly lunch-time, wishing for once that it were a school-day. It was the longest Saturday morning she had ever known. She could not practise her music lesson for fear of making her mother's headache worse. She could not go near the kitchen, where she might have found entertainment, for Aunt Cindy was in one of her black tempers, and scolded shrilly as she moved around among her shining tins.
There was no one to show her how to begin her new piece of embroidery; Papa Jack had forgotten to bring out the magazines she wanted to see; Walker had failed to roll the tennis-court and put up the net, so she could not even practise serving the balls by herself.
When lunch-time came, it was so lonely eating by herself in the big dining-room, that she hurried through the meal as quickly as possible, and tiptoed up the stairs to the door of her mother's room. Mom Beck raised her finger with a warning "Sh!" and seeing that her mother was still asleep, Lloyd stole away to her own room, her own pretty pink and white nest, and curled herself up among the cushions in a big easy chair by the window.
It was the first time in her memory that her mother had been ill. For more than a week she had not been able to leave her room, and the lonely child, accustomed to being with her constantly, crept around the house like a little stray kitten. The place scarcely seemed like home, and the days were endless. Some unusual feeling of sensitiveness had kept her from reminding the family of her birthday. Other years she had openly counted the days, for weeks beforehand, and announced the gifts that she would be most pleased to receive.
Here by the window the dismal crow thoughts began flocking down to her again, and to drive them away she picked up a book from the table and began to read. It was a green and gold volume of short stories, one that she had read many times before, but she never grew tired of them.
The one she liked best was "Marguerite's Wonder-ball," and she turned to that first, because it was the story of a happy birthday. Marguerite was a little German girl, learning to knit, and to help her in her task her family wound for her a mammoth ball of yarn, as full of surprise packages as a plum cake is of plums. Day by day, as her patient knitting unwound the yarn, some gift dropped out into her lap. They were simple things, nearly all of them. A knife, a ribbon, a thimble, a pencil, and here and there a bonbon, but they were magnified by the charm of the surprise, and they turned the tedious task into a pleasant pastime. Not until her birthday was the knitting finished, and as she took the last stitches a little velvet-covered jewel-box fell out. In the jewel-box was a string of pearls that had belonged to Marguerite's great-great-grandmother. It was a precious family heirloom, and although Marguerite could not wear the necklace until she was old enough to go to her first great court ball, it made her very proud and happy to think that, of all the grandchildren in the family, she had been chosen as the one to wear her great-great-grandmother's name that means pearl, and had inherited on that account the beautiful Von Behren necklace.
When the knitting was done there was a charming birthday feast in her honour. They crowned her with flowers, and every one, even the dignified old grandfather, did her bidding until nightfall, because it was her day, and she was its queen.
Closing the book Lloyd lay back among the cushions, smiling for the twentieth time over Marguerite's happiness, and planning the beautiful wonder-ball she herself would like to have, if wonder-balls were to be had for the wishing. It should be as big as a cart-wheel, and the first gift to be unwound should be a tiny ring set with an emerald, because that is the lucky stone for people born in May. She already owned so many books, and trinkets, that she hardly knew what else to wish for unless it might be a coral fan chain and a mother-of-pearl manicure set. But deep down in the heart of the ball she would like to find a wishing-nut, that would grant her wishes like an Aladdin's lamp whenever it was rubbed.
She must have fallen asleep in the midst of her day-dreaming, for it seemed to her that it was only a minute after she closed her book, that she heard the half-past five o'clock train whistling at the station, and while she was still rubbing her eyes she saw her father coming up the avenue.
All day she had had a lingering hope that he might bring her something when he came out from the city. "If it's nothing but a bag of peanuts," she thought, "it will be better than having a birthday go by without anything, 'specially when all the othahs have been neahly as nice as Christmas."
She peeped out between the curtains, scanning him eagerly as he came toward the house, but there was no package in either hand, and no suggestive parcel bulged from any of his pockets.
"I'll not be a baby," Lloyd whispered to herself, winking her eyelids rapidly to clear away a sort of mist that seemed to blur the landscape. "I'm too old to care so much."
Still, it was such a disappointment, added to all the others that the day had brought, that she buried her face in the cushions and cried softly. She could hear her father's voice in the next room, presently. It seemed quite loud and cheerful; more cheerful than it had sounded since her mother's dreadful neuralgic headaches had begun. A few minutes later she heard her mother laugh. It was such a welcome sound, that she hastily dried her eyes and started to run in to see what had caused it, but she paused as she passed the mirror. Her eyes were so red that she knew she would be questioned, and she concluded it would be better to wait until she was dressed for dinner.
So she sat looking out of the window till the big hall clock struck six, and then hastily bathing her eyes, she slipped into a fresh white dress, and looking carefully at herself in the mirror, concluded that she had waited long enough. To her surprise, she found her mother sitting up in a big Morris chair by the window. Maybe it was the pink silk kimono she wore that brought a faint tinge of colour to her cheeks, but whatever it was, she looked well and natural again, and for the first time in six long days the neuralgic headache was all gone, and the lines of suffering were smoothed out of her face.
The wide glass doors opening on to the balcony were standing open, and through the vines stole the golden sunset light, the chirping of robins, the smell of new-mown grass, and the heavy sweetness of the locust blooms. Lloyd rubbed her eyes, thinking she surely must be dreaming. There on the vine-covered balcony stood a table all set as if for a "pink party." There were flowers and bonbons in the silver dishes, and in the centre Mom Beck was proudly placing a mammoth birthday cake, wreathed in pink icing roses, and crowned with twelve pink candles ready for the lighting.
"Oh, mothah!" she cried. "I—I thought—"
She did not finish the sentence, but something in her surprised tone, the sudden flushing of her face, and the traces of tears still in her eyes, told what she meant.
"You thought mother had forgotten," whispered Mrs. Sherman, tenderly, as Lloyd hid her face on her shoulder.
"No, not for one minute, dear. But the pain was so bad this morning, when you came to my room, that I couldn't talk. Then you were out riding so long this morning, and when I wakened after lunch and sent Mom Beck to find you, she said you were asleep in your room. Papa Jack and I have been planning a great surprise for you, and he did not want to mention it until all the arrangements were completed. That is why there was no birthday surprise for you at breakfast. But you'll soon be a very happy little girl, for this surprise is something you have been wanting for more than a year."
How suddenly the whole world had changed for the Little Colonel! The sunshine had never seemed so golden, the locust blooms so deliciously sweet. Her birthday had not been forgotten, after all. Mrs. Sherman's chair was wheeled to the table on the balcony, and Lloyd took her seat with sparkling eyes. She wondered what the surprise could be, and felt sure that Papa Jack would not tell her until the cake was cut, and the last birthday wish made with the blowing of the birthday candles.
He had intended to save his news to serve with the dessert, but when he questioned Lloyd as to how she had spent the day, and laughed at her for reading the old tale of Marguerite's wonder-ball so many times, his secret escaped him before he knew it. Turning to Mrs. Sherman he said, "By the way, Elizabeth, our birthday gift for Lloyd might be called a sort of wonder-ball." Then he looked at his little daughter with a teasing smile, as he continued, "I wonder if you can guess my riddle. At first your wonder-ball will unroll a day and night on the cars, then a drive through a park where you rode in a baby-carriage once upon a time, but through which you shall go in an automobile this time, if you wish. There'll be some shopping, maybe, and after that flags flying, and bands playing, and crowds of people waving good-bye."
He had intended to stop there, but the wondering expression on her face carried him on further. "I can't undertake to say how much your wonder-ball can hold, but somewhere near the centre of it will be a meeting with Betty and Eugenia, and perhaps a glimpse of the Gate of the Giant Scissors that you are always talking about."
As Lloyd listened a look of utter astonishment crept over her face. Then she suddenly sprang from her chair, and running to her father put a hand on each shoulder. "Papa Jack," she cried, breathlessly, "look me straight in the eyes! Are you in earnest? You don't mean that we are going abroad, do you? It couldn't be anything so lovely as that, could it?"
For answer he drew an envelope from his pocket and shook it before her eyes. "Look for yourself," he said. "This is to show that we are listed for passage on a steamer going to Antwerp the first of June. You may begin to pack your trunk next week, if you wish."
It was impossible for Lloyd to eat any more after that. She was too excited and happy, and there were countless questions she wanted to ask. "It's bettah than a hundred house pahties," she exclaimed, as she blew out the last birthday candle. "It's the loveliest wondah-ball that evah was, and I'm suah that nobody in all Kentucky is as happy as I am now."
THE WONDER-BALL BEGINS TO UNWIND
Lloyd's wonder-ball began to unroll the morning that her father took her to town to choose her own steamer trunk, and some of the things that were to go in it. She packed and unpacked it many times in the two weeks that followed, although she knew that Mom Beck would do the final packing, and probably take out half the things which she insisted upon crowding into it.
Every morning it was a fresh delight to waken and find it standing by her dressing-table, reminding her of the journey they would soon begin together, and, when the journey was actually begun, she settled back in her seat with a happy sigh.
"Now, I'll commence to count my packages as they fall out," she said. "I think I ought to count what I see from the car windows as one, for I enjoy looking out at the different places we pass moah than I evah enjoyed my biggest pictuah books."
"Then count this number two," said her father, putting a flat, square parcel in her lap. Lloyd looked puzzled as she opened it. There was only a blank book inside, bound in Russia leather, with the word "Record" stamped on it in gilt.
"I thought it would be a good idea to keep a partnership diary," he said. "We can take turns in writing in it, and some day, when you are grown, and your mother and I are old and gray, it will help us to remember much of the journey that otherwise might pass out of our memories. So many things happen when one is travelling, that they are apt to crowd each other out of mind unless a record is kept of them."
"We'll begin as soon as we get on the ship," said Lloyd. "Mothah shall write first, then you, and then I. And let's put photographs in it, too, as Mrs. Walton did in hers. It will be like writing a real book. Package numbah two is lovely, Papa Jack."
It happened that Mr. Sherman was the only one who made an entry in the record for more than a week. Mrs. Sherman felt the motion of the vessel too much to be able to do more than lie out on deck in her steamer-chair. The Little Colonel, while she was not at all seasick, was afraid to attempt writing until she reached land.
"The table jiggles so!" she complained, when she sat down at a desk in the ship's library. "I'm afraid that I'll spoil the page. You write it, Papa Jack." She put back the pen, and stood at his elbow while he wrote.
"Put down about all the steamah lettahs that we got," she suggested, "and the little Japanese stove Allison Walton sent me for my muff, and the books Rob sent. Oh, yes! And the captain's name and how long the ship is, and how many tons of things to eat they have on board. Mom Beck won't believe me when I tell her, unless I can show it to her in black and white."
After they had explored the vessel together, her father was ready to settle down in his deck-chair in a sheltered corner, and read aloud or sleep. But the Little Colonel grew tired of being wrapped like a mummy in her steamer rug. She did not care to read long at a time, and she grew tired of looking at nothing but water. Soon she began walking up and down the deck, looking for something to entertain her. In one place some little girls were busy with scissors and paint-boxes, making paper dolls. Farther along two boys were playing checkers, and, under the stairs, a group of children, gathered around their governess, were listening to a fairy tale. Lloyd longed to join them, for she fairly ached for some amusement. She paused an instant, with her hand on the rail, as she heard one sentence: "And the white prince, clasping the crystal ball, waved his plumed cap to the gnome, and vanished."
Wondering what the story was about, Lloyd walked around to the other side of the deck, only to find another long uninteresting row of sleepy figures stretched out in steamer-chairs, and half hidden in rugs and cloaks. She turned to go back, but paused as she caught sight of a girl, about her own age, standing against the deck railing, looking over into the sea. She was not a pretty girl. Her face was too dark and thin, according to Lloyd's standard of beauty, and her mouth looked as if it were used to saying disagreeable things.
But Lloyd thought her interesting, and admired the scarlet jacket she wore, with its gilt braid and buttons, and the scarlet cap that made her long plaits of hair look black as a crow's wing by contrast. Her hair was pretty, and hung far below her waist, tied at the end with two bows of scarlet ribbon.
The girl glanced up as Lloyd passed, and although there was a cool stare in her queer black eyes, Lloyd found herself greatly interested. She wanted to make the stranger's acquaintance, and passed back and forth several times, to steal another side glance at her. As she turned for the third time to retrace her steps, she was nearly knocked off her feet by two noisy boys, who bumped against her. They were playing horse, to the annoyance of all the passengers on deck, stepping on people's toes, knocking over chairs, and stumbling against the stewards who were hurrying along with their heavy trays of beef tea and lemonade.
Lloyd had seen the boys several times before. They were little fellows of six and nine, with unusually thin legs and shrill voices, and were always eating.
Every time a deck steward passed, they grabbed a share of whatever he carried. They seemed to have discovered some secret passage to the ship's supplies. Their blouses were pouched out all around with the store of gingersnaps, nuts, and apples which they had managed to stow away as a reserve fund. Lloyd had seen the larger boy draw out six bananas, one after another, from his blouse, and then squirm and wriggle and almost stand on his head to reach the seventh, which had slipped around to his back while he was eating the others. They were munching raisins now, as they ran.
After their collision with Lloyd they stopped running, and suddenly began calling, "Here, Fido! Here, Fido!" Lloyd looked around eagerly, expecting to see some pet dog, and wishing that she had one of the many pet animals left behind at Locust, to amuse her now. But no dog was in sight. The girl in the scarlet jacket turned around with an angry scowl.
"Stop calling me that, Howl Sattawhite!" she exclaimed, crossly. "I'll tell mamma. You know what she said she'd do to you if you called me anything but Fidelia."
"And you know what she said she'd do to you if you kept calling me Howl," shouted the larger of the boys, making a saucy face and darting forward to give one of her long plaits of hair a sudden pull.
Quick as a flash, Fidelia turned, and catching him by the wrists, twisted them till he began to whimper with pain, and tried to set his teeth in her hand.
"You dare bite me, you little beast!" she cried. "You just dare, and I'll tell mamma how you spit at the waiter the morning we left the hotel."
Lloyd was scandalised. They were quarrelling like two little dogs, seemingly unconscious of the fact that a hundred people were within hearing. As Fidelia seemed to be getting the upper hand, the little brother joined in, calling in a high piping voice, "And if you squeal on Howell, Fidelia Sattawhite, I'll tell mamma how you went out walking by yourself in New York when she told you not to, and took her new purse and lost it! So there, Miss Smarty!"
"Oh, those dreadful American children!" said an English woman near Lloyd. "They're all alike. At least the ones who travel. I have never seen any yet that had any manners. They are all pert and spoiled. Fancy an English child, now, making such a scene in public!"
The Little Colonel could feel her face growing painfully red. She was indignant at being classed with such rude children, and walked quickly away. At the cabin door she met a maid, who, coming out on deck with something wrapped carefully in an embroidered shawl, sat down on one of the empty benches.
Scarcely was she seated when the two boys pounced down upon her and began pulling at the blanket. "Oh, let me see Beauty, Fanchette," begged Howell. "Make him sit up and do some tricks."
The maid pushed them away with a strong hand, and then carefully drew aside a corner of the covering. Lloyd gave an exclamation of pleasure, for the head that popped out was that of a bright little French poodle. She had thought many times that morning of the two Bobs, and good old Fritz, dead and gone, of Boots, the hunting-dog, and the goat and the gobbler and the parrot,—all the animals she had loved and played with at Locust, wishing she had them with her. Now as she saw the bright eyes of the poodle peeping over the blanket, she forgot that she was a stranger, and running across the deck, she stooped down beside it.
"Oh, the darling little dog!" she exclaimed, touching the silky hair softly. "May I hold him for a minute?"
The maid smiled, but shook her head. "Ah, that the madame will not allow," she said.
"It cost a thousand dollars," explained Howell, eagerly, "and mamma thinks more of it than she does of us. Doesn't she, Henny?"
The small boy nodded with a finger in his mouth.
"Show her Beauty's bracelet, Fanchette," said Howell. Turning back another fold of the blanket, the maid lifted a little white paw, on which sparkled a tiny diamond bracelet. Lloyd drew a long breath of astonishment. "Some of its teeth are filled with gold," continued Howell. "We had to stay a whole week in New York while Beauty was in the dog hospital, having them filled. They could only do a little at a time. One of his tricks is to laugh so that he shows all his fillings. Laugh, Beauty!" he commanded. "Laugh, old fellow, and show your gold teeth!"
He shook a dirty finger in the poodle's face, and it obediently stretched its mouth, to show all its little gold-filled teeth.
"See!" exclaimed Howell, much pleased. "Do it again!"
But the maid interfered. "Your mother told you not to touch Beauty again. You'd have the poor little thing's mouth stretched till it had the face-ache, if you weren't watched all the time. Go away! You are a naughty boy!"
Howell's lips shot out in a sullen pout, and the maid, not knowing what he might do next, rose with the poodle in her arms and walked to the other side of the vessel.
"Wish't the little beast was dead!" he muttered. "I get scolded and punished for nothing at all whenever it is around. It and Fidelia! I haven't any use for girls and puppy-dogs!"
After this uncivil remark he waited for the angry retort which he thought would naturally follow, but to his surprise Lloyd only laughed good-naturedly. She found him amusing, even if he was rude and cross, and she could not wonder that he had such an opinion of girls, after witnessing his quarrel with Fidelia. The boys had begun it, but she was older and could have turned it aside had she wished. And she thought it perfectly natural that he should dislike the dog if he thought his mother preferred its comfort to his.
"You'd like dogs if you could have one like my old Fritz," began Lloyd, glad of some one to talk to. Sitting down on the bench that the maid had left, she began talking of him and the pony and the other pets at Locust, At first the boys listened carelessly. Howell cracked his whip, and Henderson slapped his feet with the ends of the reins he wore. They were not used to having stories told them, except when they were being scolded, and their mother or the maid told them tales of what happens to bad little boys when they will not obey. Although Lloyd's wild ride in a hand-car with one of the two little knights began thrillingly, they listened with one foot out, ready to run at first word of the moral lecture which they thought would surely come at the end.
The poodle had a maid to make it happy and comfortable, every moment of its pampered little life. The boys had some one to see that they were properly clothed and fed, and their nursery at home looked as if a toy store had been emptied into it. But no one took any interest in their amusement. When they asked questions the answer always was, "Oh, run along and don't bother me now." There were no quiet bedtime talks for them to smooth the snarls out of the day. Their mother was always dining out or receiving company at that time, and their nurse hurried them to sleep with threats of the bugaboos under the bed that would catch them if they were not still. They suspected that the Little Colonel's stories would soon lead to a lecture on quarrelling.
Presently they forgot their fears in the interest of the tale. The youngest boy sidled a little nearer and climbed up on the end of the bench beside her. Then Howell, dragging his whip behind him, came a step closer, then another, till he too was on the bench beside her.
She had never had such a flattering audience. They never took their eyes from her face, and listened with such breathless attention that she talked on and on, wondering how long she could hold their interest.
"They listen to me just as people do to Betty," she thought, proudly. An hour went by, and half of another, and the bugle blew the first dinner-call.
"Go on," demanded Howell, edging closer. "We ain't hungry. Are we, Henny?"
"But I must go and get ready for dinner," said Lloyd, rising.
"Will you tell us some more to-morrow?" begged Howell, holding her skirts with his dirty little hand.
"Yes, yes," promised Lloyd, laughing and breaking loose from his hold. "I'll tell you as many stories as you want."
It was a rash promise, for next day, no sooner had she finished breakfast and started to take her morning walk around the deck with her father, than the boys were at her heels. They were eating bananas as they staggered along, and as fast as one disappeared another was dragged out of their blouses, which seemed pouched out all around their waists with an inexhaustible supply. Up and down they followed her, until Papa Jack began to laugh, and ask what she had done to tame the little savages.
As soon as she stopped at her chair they dropped down on the floor, tailor-fashion, waiting for her to begin. Their devotion amused her at first, and gratified her later, when the English woman who had complained of their manners stopped to speak to her.
"You are a real little 'good Samaritan,'" she said, "to keep those two nuisances quiet. The passengers owe you a vote of thanks. It is very sweet of you, my dear, to sacrifice yourself for others in that way."
Lloyd grew very red. She had not looked upon it as a sacrifice. She had been amusing herself. But after awhile story-telling did become very tiresome as a steady occupation. She groaned whenever she saw the boys coming toward her.
Fidelia joined them on several occasions, but her appearance was always the signal for a quarrel to begin. Not until one morning when the boys were locked in their stateroom for punishment, did she have a chance to speak to Lloyd by herself.
"The boys opened a port-hole this morning," explained Fidelia. "They had been forbidden to touch it. Poor Beauty was asleep on the couch just under it, and a big wave sloshed over him and nearly drowned him. He was soaked through. It gave him a chill, and mamma is in a terrible way about him. Howl and Henny told Fanchette they wanted him to drown. That's why they did it. They will be locked up all morning. I should think that you'd be glad. I don't see how you stand them tagging after you all the time. They are the meanest boys I ever knew."
"They are not mean to me," said Lloyd. "I can't help feelin' sorry for them." Then she stopped abruptly, with a blush, feeling that was not a polite thing to say to the boys' sister.
"I'm sure I don't see why you should feel sorry for them," said Fidelia, angrily. At which the Little Colonel was more embarrassed than ever. She could not tell Fidelia that it was because a little poodle received the fondling and attention that belonged to them, and that it was Fidelia's continual faultfinding and nagging that made the boys tease her. So after a pause she changed the subject by asking her what she wanted most to see in Europe.
"Nothing!" answered Fidelia. "I wouldn't give a penny to see all the old ruins and cathedrals and picture galleries in the world. The only reason that I care to go abroad is to be able to say I have been to those places when the other girls brag about what they've seen. What do you want to see?"
"Oh, thousands of things!" exclaimed Lloyd. "There are the chateaux where kings and queens have lived, and the places that are in the old songs, like Bonnie Doon, and London Bridge, and Twickenham Ferry. I want to see Denmark, because Hans Christian Andersen lived there, and wrote his fairy tales, and London, because Dickens and Little Nell lived there. But I think I shall enjoy Switzerland most. We expect to stay there a long time. It is such a brave little country. Papa has told me a great deal about its heroes. He is going to take me to see the Lion of Lucerne, and to Altdorf, under the lime-tree, where William Tell shot the apple. I love that story."
"Well, aren't you queer!" exclaimed Fidelia, opening her eyes wide and looking at Lloyd as if she were some sort of a freak. It was her tone and look that were offensive, more than her words. Lloyd was furious.
"No, I am not queah, Miss Sattawhite!" she exclaimed, moving away much ruffled. As she flounced toward the cabin, her eyes very bright and her cheeks very red, she looked back with an indignant glance. "I wish now that I'd told her why I'm sorry for Howl and Henny. I'd be sorry for anybody that had such a rude sistah!"
But there were other children on the vessel whose acquaintance Lloyd made before the week was over. She played checkers and quoits with the boys, and paper dolls with the girls, and one sunny morning she was invited to join the group under the stairs, where she heard the story of the white prince from beginning to end, and found out why he vanished.
Those were happy days on the big steamer, despite the fact that Howl and Henny haunted her like two hungry little shadows. Sometimes the captain himself came down and walked with her. The Shermans sat at his table, and he had grown quite fond of the little Kentucky girl with her soft Southern accent. As they paced the deck hand in hand, he told her marvellous tales of the sea, till she grew to love the ship and the heaving water world around them, and wished that they might sail on and on, and never come to land until the end of the summer.
LLOYD MEETS HERO
It was July when they reached Switzerland. After three weeks of constant travel, it seemed good to leave boats and railroads for awhile, and stop to rest in the clean old town of Geneva. The windows of the big hotel dining-room looked out on the lake, and the Little Colonel, sitting at breakfast the morning after their arrival, could scarcely eat for watching the scene outside.
Gay little pleasure boats flashed back and forth on the sparkling water. The quay and bridge were thronged with people. From open windows down the street came the tinkle of pianos, and out on the pier, where a party of tourists were crowding on to one of the excursion steamers, a band was playing its merriest holiday music.
Far away in the distance she could see the shining snow crown of Mont Blanc, and it gave her an odd feeling, as if she were living in a geography lesson, to know that she was bounded on one side by the famous Alpine mountain, and on the other by the River Rhone, whose source she had often traced on the map. The sunshine, the music, and the gay crowds made it seem to Lloyd as if the whole world were out for a holiday, and she ate her melon and listened to the plans for the day with the sensation that something very delightful was about to happen.
"We'll go shopping this morning," said Mrs. Sherman. "I want Lloyd to see some of those wonderful music boxes they make here; the dancing bears, and the musical hand-mirrors; the chairs that play when you sit down in them, and the beer-mugs that begin a tune when you lift them up."
Lloyd's face dimpled with pleasure, and she began to ask eager questions. "Couldn't we take one to Mom Beck, mothah? A lookin'-glass that would play 'Kingdom Comin', when she picked it up? It would surprise her so she would think it was bewitched, and she'd shriek the way she does when a cattapillah gets on her."
Lloyd laughed so heartily at the recollection, that an old gentleman sitting at an opposite table smiled in sympathy. He had been watching the child ever since she came into the dining-room, interested in every look and gesture. He was a dignified old French soldier, tall and broad-shouldered, with gray hair and a fierce-looking gray moustache drooping heavily over his mouth. But the eyes under his shaggy brows were so kind and gentle that the shyest child or the sorriest waif of a stray dog would claim him for a friend at first glance.
The Little Colonel was so busy watching the scene from the window that she did not see him until he had finished his breakfast and rose from the table. As he came toward them on his way to the door, she whispered, "Look, mothah! He has only one arm, like grandfathah. I wondah if he was a soldiah, too. Why is he bowing to Papa Jack?"
"I met him last night in the office," explained her father, when the old gentleman had passed out of hearing. "We got into conversation over the dog he had with him—a magnificent St. Bernard, that had been trained as a war dog, to go out with the ambulances to hunt for dead and wounded soldiers. Major Pierre de Vaux is the old man's name. He served many years in the French army, but was retired after the siege of Strasburg. The clerk told me that it was there that the Major lost his arm, and received his country's medal for some act of bravery. He is well known here in Geneva, where he comes every summer for a few weeks."
"Oh, I hope I'll see the war dog!" cried the Little Colonel. "What do you suppose his name is?"
The waiter, who was changing their plates, could not resist this temptation to show off the little English he knew. "Hes name is Hero, mademoiselle," he answered. "He vair smart dog. He know evair sing somebody say to him, same as a person."
"You'll probably see him as we go out to the carriage," said Mr. Sherman. "He follows the Major constantly."
As soon as breakfast was over, Mrs. Sherman went up to her room for her hat. Lloyd, who had worn hers down to breakfast, wandered out into the hall to wait for her. There was a tall, carved chair standing near the elevator, and Lloyd climbed into it. To her great confusion, something inside of it gave a loud click as she seated herself, and began to play. It played so loudly that Lloyd was both startled and embarrassed. It seemed to her that every one in the hotel must hear the noise, and know that she had started it.
"Silly old thing!" she muttered, as with a very red face she slipped down and walked hurriedly away. She intended to go into the reading-room, but in her confusion turned to the left instead of the right, and ran against some one coming out of the hotel office. It was the Major.
"Oh, I beg your pahdon!" she cried, blushing still more. From the twinkle in his eye she was sure that he had witnessed her mortifying encounter with the musical chair. But his first words made her forget her embarrassment. He spoke in the best of English, but with a slight accent that Lloyd thought very odd and charming.
"Ah, it is Mr. Sherman's little daughter. He told me last night that you had come to Switzerland because it was a land of heroes, and he was sure that you would be especially interested in mine. So come, Hero, my brave fellow, and be presented to the little American lady. Give her your paw, sir!"
He stepped aside to let the great creature past him, and Lloyd uttered an exclamation of delight, he was so unusually large and beautiful. His curly coat of tawny yellow was as soft as silk, and a great ruff of white circled his neck like a collar. His breast was white, too, and his paws, and his eyes had a wistful, human look that went straight to Lloyd's heart. She shook the offered paw, and then impulsively threw her arms around his neck, exclaiming, "Oh, you deah old fellow! I can't help lovin' you. You're the beautifulest dog I evah saw!"
He understood the caress, if not the words, for he reached up to touch her cheek with his tongue, and wagged his tail as if he were welcoming a long-lost friend. Just then Mrs. Sherman stepped out of the elevator. "Good-bye, Hero," said the Little Colonel. "I must go now, but I hope I'll see you when I come back." Nodding good-bye to the Major, she followed her mother out to the street, where her father stood waiting beside an open carriage.
Lloyd enjoyed the drive that morning as they spun along beside the river, up and down the strange streets with the queer foreign signs over the shop doors. Once, as they drove along the quay, they met the Major and the dog, and in response to a courtly bow, the Little Colonel waved her hand and smiled. The empty sleeve recalled her grandfather, and gave her a friendly feeling for the old soldier. She looked back at Hero as long as she could see a glimpse of his white and yellow curls.
It was nearly noon when they stopped at a place where Mrs. Sherman wanted to leave an enamelled belt-buckle to be repaired. Lloyd was not interested in the show-cases, and could not understand the conversation her father and mother were having with the shopkeeper about enamelling. So, saying that she would go out and sit in the carriage until they were ready to come, she slipped away.
She liked to watch the stir of the streets. It was interesting to guess what the foreign signs meant, and to listen to the strange speech around her. Besides, there was a band playing somewhere down the street, and children were tugging at their nurses' hands to hurry them along. Some carried dolls dressed in the quaint costumes of Swiss peasants, and some had balloons. A man with a bunch of them like a cluster of great red bubbles, had just sold out on the corner.
So she sat in the sunshine, looking around her with eager, interested eyes. The coachman, high up on his box, seemed as interested as herself; at least, he sat up very straight and stiff. But it was only his back that Lloyd saw. He had been at a fete the night before. There seems to be always a holiday in Geneva. He had stayed long at the merrymaking and had taken many mugs of beer. They made him drowsy and stupid. The American gentleman and his wife stayed long in the enameller's shop. He could scarcely keep his eyes open. Presently, although he never moved a muscle of his back and sat up stiff and straight as a poker, he was sound asleep, and the reins in his grasp slipped lower and lower and lower.
The horse was an old one, stiffened and jaded by much hard travel, but it had been a mettlesome one in its younger days, with the recollection of many exciting adventures. Now, although it seemed half asleep, dreaming, maybe, of the many jaunts it had taken with other American tourists, or wondering if it were not time for it to have its noonday nose-bag, it was really keeping one eye open, nervously watching some painters on the sidewalk. They were putting up a scaffold against a building, in order that they might paint the cornice.
Presently the very thing happened that the old horse had been expecting. A heavy board fell from the scaffold with a crash, knocking over a ladder, which fell into the street in front of the frightened animal. Now the old horse had been in several runaways. Once it had been hurt by a falling ladder, and it had never recovered from its fear of one. As this one fell just under it's nose, all the old fright and pain that caused its first runaway seemed to come back to its memory. In a frenzy of terror it reared, plunged forward, then suddenly turned and dashed down the street.
The plunge and sudden turn threw the sleeping coachman from the box to the street. With the lines dragging at its heels, the frightened horse sped on. The Little Colonel, clutching frantically at the seat in front of her, screamed at the horse to stop. She had been used to driving ever since she was big enough to grasp the reins, and she felt that if she could only reach the dragging lines, she could control the horse. But that was impossible. All she could do was to cling to the seat as the carriage whirled dizzily around corners, and wonder how many more frightful turns it would make before she should be thrown out.
The white houses on either side seemed racing past them. Nurses ran, screaming, to the pavements, dragging the baby-carriages out of the way. Dogs barked and teams were jerked hastily aside. Some one dashed out of a shop and threw his arms up in front of the horse to stop it, but, veering to one side, it only plunged on the faster.
Lloyd's hat blew off. Her face turned white with a sickening dread, and her breath began to come in frightened sobs. On and on they went, and, as the scenes of a lifetime will be crowded into a moment in the memory of a drowning man, so a thousand things came flashing into Lloyd's mind. She saw the locust avenue all white and sweet in blossom time, and thought, with a strange thrill of self-pity, that she would never ride under its white arch again. Then she saw Betty's face on the pillow, as she had lain with bandaged eyes, telling in her tremulous little voice the story of the Road of the Loving Heart. Queerly enough, with that came the thought of Howl and Henny, and she had time to be glad that she had amused them on the voyage, and made them happy. Then came her mother's face, and Papa Jack's. In a few moments, she told herself, they would be picking up her poor, broken, lifeless little body from the street. How horribly they would feel. And then—she screamed and shut her eyes. The carriage had dashed into something that tore off a wheel. There was a crash—a sound as of splintering wood. But it did not stop their mad flight. With a horrible bumping motion that nearly threw her from the carriage at every jolt, they still kept on.
They were on the quay now. The noon sun on the water flashed into her eyes like the blinding light thrown back from a looking-glass. Then something white and yellow darted from the crowd on the pavement, and catching the horse by the bit, swung on heavily. The horse dragged along for a few paces, and came to a halt, trembling like a leaf.
A wild hurrah went up from both sides of the street, and the Little Colonel, as she was lifted out white and trembling, saw that it was a huge St. Bernard that the crowd was cheering.
"Oh, it's H-Hero!" she cried, with chattering teeth. "How did he get here?" But no one understood her question. The faces she looked into, while beaming with friendly interest, were all foreign. The eager exclamations on all sides were uttered in a foreign tongue. There was no one to take her home, and in her fright she could not remember the name of their hotel. But in the midst of her confusion a hearty sentence in English sounded in her ear, and a strong arm caught her up in a fatherly embrace. It was the Major who came pushing through the crowd to reach her. Her grandfather himself could not have been more welcome just at that time, and her tears came fast when she found herself in his friendly shelter. The shock had been a terrible one.
"Come, dear child!" he exclaimed, gently, patting her shoulder. "Courage! We are almost at the hotel. See, it is on the corner, there. The father and mother will soon be here."
Wiping her eyes, he led her across the street, explaining as he went how it happened that he and the dog were on the street when she passed. They had been in the gardens all morning and were going home to lunch, when they heard the clatter of the runaway far down the street. The Major could not see who was in the carriage, only that it appeared to be a child. He was too old a man, and with his one arm too helpless to attempt to stop it, but he remembered that Hero had once shared the training of some collies for police service, before it had been decided to use him as an ambulance dog. They were taught to spring at the bridles of escaping horses.
"I was doubtful if Hero remembered those early lessons," said the Major, "but I called out to him sharply, for the love of heaven to stop it if he could, and that instant he was at the horse's head, hanging on with all his might. Bravo, old fellow!" he continued, turning to the dog as he spoke. "We are proud of you this day!"
They were in the corridor of the hotel now, and the Little Colonel, kneeling beside Hero and putting her arms around his neck, finished her sobbing with her fair little face laid fondly against his silky coat.
"Oh, you deah, deah old Hero," she said. "You saved me, and I'll love you fo' evah and evah!"
The crowd was still in front of the hotel, and the corridor full of excited servants and guests, when Mr. and Mrs. Sherman hurried in. They had taken the first carriage they could hail and driven as fast as possible in the wake of the runaway. Mrs. Sherman was trembling so violently that she could scarcely stand, when they reached the hotel. The clerk who ran out to assure them of the Little Colonel's safety was loud in his praises of the faithful St. Bernard.
Hero had known many masters. Any one in the uniform of the army had once had authority over him. He had been taught to obey many voices. Many hands had fed and fondled him, but no hand had ever lain quite so tenderly on his head, as the Little Colonel's. No one had ever looked into his eyes so gratefully as she, and no voice had ever thrilled him with as loving tones as hers, as she knelt there beside him, calling him all the fond endearing names she knew. He understood far better than if he had been human, that she loved him. Eagerly licking her hands and wagging his tail, he told her as plainly as a dog can talk that henceforth he would be one of her best and most faithful of friends.
If petting and praise and devoted attention could spoil a dog, Hero's head would certainly have been turned that day, for friends and strangers alike made much of him. A photographer came to take his picture for the leading daily paper. Before nightfall his story was repeated in every home in Geneva. No servant in the hotel but took a personal pride in him or watched his chance to give him a sly sweetmeat or a caress. But being a dog instead of a human, the attention only made him the more lovable, for it made him feel that it was a kind world he lived in and everybody was his friend.
It was after lunch that the Little Colonel came up-stairs carrying the diary, now half-filled with the record of their journeying.
"Put it all down in the book, Papa Jack," she demanded. "I'll nevah forget to my dyin' day, but I want it written down heah in black and white that Hero saved me!"
Late that afternoon the Major sat out in the shady courtyard of the hotel, where vines, potted plants, and a fountain made a cool green garden spot. He was thinking of his little daughter, who had been dead many long years. The American child, whom his dog had rescued from the runaway in the morning, was wonderfully like her. She had the same fair hair, he thought, that had been his little Christine's great beauty; the same delicate, wild-rose pink in her cheeks, the same mischievous smile dimpling her laughing face. But Christine's eyes had not been a starry hazel like the Little Colonel's. They were blue as the flax-flowers she used to gather—thirty, was it? No, forty years ago.
As he counted the years, the thought came to him like a pain that he was an old, old man now, all alone in the world, save for a dog, and a niece whom he scarcely knew and seldom saw.
As he sat there with his head bowed down, dreaming over his past, the Little Colonel came out into the courtyard. She had dressed early and gone down to the reading-room to wait until her mother was ready for dinner, but catching sight of the Major through the long glass doors, she laid down her book. The lonely expression of his furrowed face, the bowed head, and the empty sleeve appealed to her strongly.
"I believe I'll go out and talk to him," she thought. "If grandfathah were away off in a strange land by himself like that, I'd want somebody to cheer him up."
It is always good to feel that one is welcome, and Lloyd was glad that she had ventured into the courtyard, when she saw the smile that lighted the Major's face at sight of her, and when the dog, rising at her approach, came forward joyfully wagging his tail.
The conversation was easy to begin, with Hero for a subject. There were many things she wanted to know about him: how he happened to belong to the Major; what country he came from; why he was called a St. Bernard, and if the Major had ever owned any other dogs.
After a few questions it all came about as she had hoped it would. The old man settled himself back in his chair, thought a moment, and then began at the first of his acquaintance with St. Bernard dogs, as if he were reading a story from a book.
"Away up in the Alpine Mountains, too high for trees to grow, where there is only bare rock and snow and cutting winds, climbs the road that is known as the Great St. Bernard Pass. It is an old, old road. The Celts crossed it when they invaded Italy. The Roman legions crossed it when they marched out to subdue Gaul and Germany. Ten hundred years ago the Saracen robbers hid among its rocks to waylay unfortunate travellers. You will read about all that in your history sometime, and about the famous march Napoleon made across it on his way to Marengo. But the most interesting fact about the road to me, is that for over seven hundred years there has been a monastery high up on the bleak mountain-top, called the monastery of St. Bernard.
"Once, when I was travelling through the Alps, I stopped there one cold night, almost frozen. The good monks welcomed me to their hospice, as they do all strangers who stop for food and shelter, and treated me as kindly as if I had been a brother. In the morning one of them took me out to the kennels, and showed me the dogs that are trained to look for travellers in the snow. You may imagine with what pleasure I followed him, and listened to the tales he told me.
"He said there is not as much work for the dogs now as there used to be years ago. Since the hospice has been connected with the valley towns by telephone, travellers can inquire about the state of the weather and the paths, before venturing up the dangerous mountain passes. Still, the storms begin with little warning sometimes, and wayfarers are overtaken by them and lost in the blinding snowfall. The paths fill suddenly, and but for the dogs many would perish."
"Oh, I know," interrupted Lloyd, eagerly. "There is a story about them in my old third readah, and a pictuah of a big St. Bernard dog with a flask tied around his neck, and a child on his back."
"Yes," answered the Major, "it is quite probable that that was a picture of the dog they called Barry. He was with the good monks for twelve years, and in that time saved the lives of forty travellers. There is a monument erected to him in Paris in the cemetery for dogs. The sculptor carved that picture into the stone, the noble animal with a child on his back, as if he were in the act of carrying it to the hospice. Twelve years is a long time for a dog to suffer such hardship and exposure. Night after night he plunged out alone into the deep snow and the darkness, barking at the top of his voice to attract the attention of lost travellers. Many a time he dropped into the drifts exhausted, with scarcely enough strength left to drag himself back to the hospice.
"Forty lives saved is a good record. You may be sure that in his old age Barry was tenderly cared for. The monks gave him a pension and sent him to Berne, where the climate is much warmer. When he died, a taxidermist preserved his skin, and he was placed in the museum at Berne, where he stands to this day, I am told, with the little flask around his neck. I saw him there one time, and although Barry was only a dog, and I an officer in my country's service, I stood with uncovered head before him. For he was as truly a hero and served human kind as nobly as if he had fallen on the field of battle.
"He had been trained like a soldier to his duty, and no matter how the storms raged on the mountains, how dark the night, or how dangerous the paths that led along the slippery precipices, at the word of command he sprang to obey. Only a dumb beast, some people would call him, guided only by brute instinct, but in his shaggy old body beat a loving heart, loyal to his master's command, and faithful to his duty.
"As I stood there gazing into the kind old face, I thought of the time when I lay wounded on the field of Strasburg. How glad I would have been to have seen some dog like Barry come bounding to my aid! I had fallen in a thicket, where the ambulance corps did not discover me until next day. I lay there all that black night, wild with pain, groaning for water. I could see the lanterns of the ambulances as they moved about searching for the wounded among the many dead, but was too faint from loss of blood to raise my head and shout for help. They told me afterward that, if my wound could have received immediate attention, perhaps my arm might have been saved.
"But only a keen sense of smell could have traced me in the dense thicket where I lay. No one had thought of training dogs for ambulance service then. The men did their best, but they were only men, and I was overlooked until it was too late to save my arm.
"Well, as I said, I stood and looked at Barry, wondering if it were not possible to train dogs for rescue work on battle-fields as well as in mountain passes. The more I thought of it, the more my longing grew to make such an attempt. I read everything I could find about trained dogs, visited kennels where collies and other intelligent sheepdogs were kept, and corresponded with many people about it. Finally I found a man who was as much interested in the subject as I. Herr Bungartz is his name. To him chiefly belongs the credit for the development of the use of ambulance dogs, to aid the wounded on the field of battle. He is now at the head of a society to which I belong. It has over a thousand members, including many princes and generals.
"We furnish the money that supports the kennels, and the dogs are bred and trained free for the army. Now for the last eight years it has been my greatest pleasure to visit the kennels, where as many as fifty dogs are kept constantly in training. It was on my last visit that I got Hero. His leg had been hurt in some accident on the training field. It was thought that he was too much disabled to ever do good service again, so they allowed me to take him. Two old cripples, I suppose they thought we were, comrades in misfortune.
"That was nearly a year ago. I took him to an eminent surgeon, told him his history, and interested him in his case. He treated him so successfully, that now, as you see, the leg is entirely well. Sometimes I feel that it is my duty to give him back to the service, although I paid for the rearing of a fine Scotch collie in his stead. He is so unusually intelligent and well trained. But it would be hard to part with such a good friend. Although I have had him less than a year, he seems very much attached to me, and I have grown more fond of him than I would have believed possible. I am an old man now, and I think he understands that he is all I have. Good Hero! He knows he is a comfort to his old master!"
At the sound of his name, uttered in a sad voice, the great dog got up and laid his head on the Major's knee, looking wistfully into his face.
"Of co'se you oughtn't to give him back!" cried the Little Colonel. "If he were mine, I wouldn't give him up for the president, or the emperor, or the czar, or anybody!"
"But for the soldiers, the poor wounded soldiers!" suggested the Major.
Lloyd hesitated, looking from the dog to the empty sleeve above it. "Well," she declared, at last, "I wouldn't give him up while the country is at peace. I'd wait till the last minute, until there was goin' to be an awful battle, and then I'd make them promise to let me have him again when the wah was ovah. Just the minute it was ovah. It would be like givin' away part of your family to give away Hero."
Suddenly the Major spoke to the dog in French, a quick, sharp sentence that Lloyd could not understand. But Hero, without an instant's hesitation, bounded from the courtyard, where they sat, into the hall of the hotel. Through the glass doors she could see him leaping up the stairs, and, almost before the Major could explain that he had sent him for the shoulder-bags he wore in service, the dog was back with them grasped firmly in his mouth.
"Now the flask," said the Major. While the dog obeyed the second order, he opened the bags for Lloyd to examine them. They were marked with a red cross in a square of white, and contained rolls of bandages, from which any man, able to use his arms, could help himself until his rescuer brought further aid.
The flask which Hero brought was marked in the same way, and the Major buckled it to his collar, saying, as he fastened first that and then the shoulder-bags in place, "When a dog is in training, soldiers, pretending to be dead or wounded, are hidden in the woods or ravines and he is taught to find a fallen body, and to bark loudly. If the soldier is in some place too remote for his voice to bring aid the dog seizes a cap, a handkerchief, or a belt,—any article of the man's clothing which he can pick up,—and dashes back to the nearest ambulance."
"What a lovely game that would make!" exclaimed Lloyd. "Do you suppose that I could train the two Bobs to do that? We often play soldiah at Locust. Now, what is it you say to Hero when you want him to hunt the men? Let me see if he'll mind me."
The Major repeated the command.
"But I can't speak French," she said in dismay. "What is it in English?"
"Hero can't understand anything in English," said the Major, laughing at the perplexed expression that crept into the Little Colonel's face.
"How funny!" she exclaimed. "I nevah thought of that befo'. I supposed of co'se that all animals were English. Anyway, Hero comes when I call him, and wags his tail when I speak, just as if he undahstands every word."
"It is the kindness in your voice he understands, and the smile in your eyes, the affection in your caress. That language is the same the world over, to men and animals alike. But he never would start out to hunt the wounded soldiers unless you gave this command. Let me hear if you can say it after me."
Lloyd tripped over some of the rough sounds as she repeated the sentence, but tried it again and again until the Major cried "Bravo! You shall have more lessons in French, dear child, until you can give the command so well that Hero shall obey you as he does me."
Then he began talking of Christine, her fair hair, her blue eyes, her playful ways; and Lloyd, listening, drew him on with many questions, till the little French maiden seemed to stand pictured before her, her hands filled with the lovely spring flowers of the motherland.
Suddenly the Major arose, bowing courteously, for Mrs. Sherman, seeing them from the doorway, had smiled and started toward them. Springing up, Lloyd ran to meet her.
"Mothah," she whispered, "please ask the Majah to sit at ou' table to-night at dinnah. He's such a deah old man, and tells such interestin' things, and he's lonesome. The tears came into his eyes when he talked about his little daughtah. She was just my age when she died, mothah, and he thinks she looked like me."
The Major's courtly manner and kind face had already aroused Mrs. Sherman's interest. His empty sleeve reminded her of her father. His loneliness appealed to her sympathy, and his kindness to her little daughter had won her deepest appreciation. She turned with a cordial smile to repeat Lloyd's invitation, which was gladly accepted.
That was the beginning of a warm friendship. From that time he was included in their plans. Now, in nearly all their excursions and drives, there were four in the party instead of three, and five, very often. Whenever it was possible, Hero was with them. He and the Little Colonel often went out together alone. It grew to be a familiar sight in the town, the graceful fair-haired child and the big tawny St. Bernard, walking side by side along the quay. She was not afraid to venture anywhere with such a guard. As for Hero, he followed her as gladly as he did his master.
THE RED CROSS OF GENEVA
A week after the runaway the handsomest collar that could be bought in town was fastened around Hero's neck. It had taken a long time to get it, for Mr. Sherman went to many shops before he found material that he considered good enough for the rescuer of his little daughter. Then the jeweller had to keep it several days while he engraved an inscription on the gold name-plate—an inscription that all who read might know what happened on a certain July day in the old Swiss town of Geneva. On the under side of the collar was a stout link like the one on his old one, to which the flask could be fastened when he was harnessed for service, and on the upper side, finely wrought in enamel, was a red cross on a white square.
"Papa Jack!" exclaimed Lloyd, examining it with interest, "that is the same design that is on his blanket and shouldah-bags. Why, it's just like the Swiss flag!" she cried, looking out at the banner floating from the pier. "Only the colours are turned around. The flag has a white cross on a red ground, and this is a red cross on a white ground. Why did you have it put on the collah, Papa Jack?"
"Because he is a Red Cross dog," answered her father.
"No, Papa Jack. Excuse me for contradictin', but the Majah said he was a St. Bernard dog."
Mr. Sherman laughed, but before he could explain he was called to the office to answer a telegram. When he returned Lloyd had disappeared to find the Major, and ask about the symbol on the collar. She found him in his favourite seat near the fountain, in the shady courtyard. Perching on a bench near by with Hero for a foot-stool, she asked, "Majah, is Hero a St. Bernard or a Red Cross dog?"
"He is both," answered the Major, smiling at her puzzled expression. "He is the first because he belongs to that family of dogs, and he is the second because he was adopted by the Red Cross Association, and trained for its service. You know what that is, of course."
Still Lloyd looked puzzled. She shook her head. "No, I nevah heard of it. Is it something Swiss or French?"
"Never heard of it!" repeated the Major. He spoke in such a surprised tone that his voice sounded gruff and loud, and Lloyd almost jumped. The harshness was so unexpected.
"Think again, child," he said, sternly. "Surely you have been told, at least, of your brave countrywoman who is at the head of the organisation in America, who nursed not only the wounded of your own land, but followed the Red Cross of mercy on many foreign battle-fields!"
"Oh, a hospital nurse!" said Lloyd, wrinkling her forehead and trying to think. "Miss Alcott was one. Everybody knows about her, and her 'Hospital Sketches' are lovely."
"No! no!" exclaimed the Major, impatiently. Lloyd, feeling from his tone that ignorance on this subject was something he could not excuse, tried again.
"I've heard of Florence Nightingale. In one of my books at home, a Chatterbox, I think, there is a picture of her going through a hospital ward. Mothah told me how good she was to the soldiahs, and how they loved her. They even kissed her shadow on the wall as she passed. They were so grateful."
"Ah, yes," murmured the old man. "Florence Nightingale will live long in song and story. An angel of mercy she was, through all the horrors of the Crimean War; but she was an English woman, my dear. The one I mean is an American, and her name ought to go down in history with the bravest of its patriots and the most honoured of its benefactors. I learned to know her first in that long siege at Strasburg. She nursed me there, and I have followed her career with grateful interest ever since, noting with admiration all that she has done for her country and humanity the world over.
"If America ever writes a woman's name in her temple of fame, dear child (I say it with uncovered head), that one should be the name of Clara Barton."
The old soldier lifted his hat as he spoke, and replaced it so solemnly that Lloyd felt very uncomfortable, as if she were in some way to blame for not knowing and admiring this Red Cross nurse of whom she had never heard. Her face flushed, and much embarrassed, she drew the toe of her slipper along Hero's back, answering, in an abused tone:
"But, Majah, how could I be expected to know anything about her? There is nothing in ou' school-books, and nobody told me, and Papa Jack won't let me read the newspapahs, they're so full of horrible murdahs and things. So how could I evah find out? I couldn't learn everything in twelve yeahs, and that's all the longah I've lived."
The Major laughed. "Forgive me, little one!" he cried, seeing the distress and embarrassment in her face. "A thousand pardons! The fault is not yours, but your country's, that it has not taught its children to honour its benefactor as she deserves. I am glad that it has been given to me to tell you the story of one of the most beautiful things that ever happened in Switzerland—the founding of the Red Cross. You will remember it with greater interest, I am sure, because, while I talk, the cross of the Swiss flag floats over us, and it was here in this old town of Geneva the merciful work had its beginning."
Lloyd settled herself to listen, still stroking Hero's back with her slipper toe.
"He was my friend, Henri Durant, and in the old days of chivalry they would have made him knight for the noble thought that sprang to flower in his heart and to fruitage in so worthy a deed. He was travelling in Italy years ago, and happening to be near the place where the battle of Solferino was fought, he was so touched by the sufferings of the wounded that he stopped to help care for them in the hospitals. The sights he saw there were horrible. The wounded men could not be cared for properly. They died by the hundreds, because there were not enough nurses and surgeons and food.
"It moved him to write a book which was translated into several languages. People of many countries became interested and were aroused to a desire to do something to relieve the deadly consequences of war. Then he called a meeting of all the nations of Europe. That was over thirty years ago. Sixteen of the great powers sent men to represent them. They met here in Geneva and signed a treaty. One by one other countries followed their example, until now forty governments are pledged to keep the promises of the Red Cross.
"They chose that as their flag in compliment to Switzerland, where the movement was started. You see they are the same except that the colours are reversed.
"Now, according to that treaty, wherever the Red Cross goes, on sea or on land, it means peace and safety for the wounded soldiers. In the midst of the bloodiest battle, no matter who is hurt, Turk or Russian, Japanese or Spaniard, Armenian or Arab, he is bound to be protected and cared for. No nurse, surgeon, or ambulance bearing that Red Cross can be fired upon. They are allowed to pass wherever they are needed.
"Before the nations joined in that treaty, the worst horror of war was the fate of a wounded soldier, falling into the hands of the enemy. Better a thousand times to be killed in battle, than to be taken prisoner. Think of being left, bleeding and faint, on an enemy's field till your clothes froze to the ground, and no one merciful enough to give you a crust of bread or a drop of water. Think of the dying piled with the dead and left to the pitiless rays of a scorching, tropic sun. That can never happen again, thank Heaven!
"In time of peace, money and supplies are gathered and stored by each country, ready for use at the first signal of war. To show her approval, the empress became the head of the branch in Germany. Soon after the Franco-Prussian war began, and then her only daughter, the Grand Duchess Louise of Baden, turned all her beautiful castles into military hospitals, and went herself to superintend the work of relief.
"Your country did not join with us at first. You were having a terrible war at home; the one in which your grandfather fought. All this time Clara Barton was with the soldiers on their bloodiest battle-fields. When you go home, ask your grandfather about the battles of Bull Run and Antietam, Fredericksburg and the Wilderness. She was there. She stood the strain of nursing in sixteen such awful places, going from cot to cot among the thousands of wounded, comforting the dying, and dragging many a man back from the very grave by her untiring, unselfish devotion.
"When the war was over, she spent four years searching for the soldiers reported missing. Hundreds and hundreds of pitiful letters came to her, giving name, regiment, and company of some son or husband or brother, who had marched away to the wars and never returned. These names could not be found among the lists of the killed. They were simply reported as 'missing'; whether dead or a deserter, no one could tell. She had spent weeks at Andersonville the summer after the war, identifying and marking the graves there. She marked over twelve thousand. So when these letters came imploring her aid, she began the search, visiting the old prisons, and trenches and hospitals, until she removed from twenty thousand names the possible suspicion that the men who bore them had been deserters.
"No wonder that she came to Europe completely broken down in health, so exhausted by her long, severe labours that her physicians told her she must rest several years. But hardly was she settled here in Switzerland when the Franco-Prussian war broke out, and the Red Cross sought her aid, knowing how valuable her long experience in nursing would be to them. She could not refuse their appeals, and once more started in the wake of powder smoke, and cannon's roar.
"But I'll not start on that chapter of her life, for, if I did, I would not know where to stop. It was there I met her, there she nursed me back to life; then I learned to appreciate her devotion to the cause of humankind. This second long siege against suffering made her an invalid for many years.
"The other nations wondered why America refused to join them in their humane work. All other civilised countries were willing to lend a hand. But Clara Barton knew that it was because the people were ignorant of its real purpose that they did not join the alliance, and she promised that she would devote the remainder of her life, if need be, to showing America that as long as she refused to sign that treaty, she was standing on a level with barbarous and heathen countries.
"For years she was too ill to push the work she had set for herself. When her strength at last returned, she had to learn to walk. At last, however, she succeeded. America signed the treaty. Then, through her efforts, the American National Red Cross was organised. She was made president of it. While no war, until lately, has called for its services, the Red Cross has found plenty to do in times of great national calamities. You have had terrible fires and floods, cyclones, and scourges of yellow fever. Then too, it has taken relief to Turkey and lately has found work in Cuba.
"I know that you would like to look into Miss Barton's jewel-box. Old Emperor William himself gave her the Iron Cross of Prussia. The Grand Duke and Duchess of Baden sent her the Gold Cross of Remembrance. Medals and decorations from many sovereigns are there—the Queen of Servia, the Sultan of Turkey, the Prince of Armenia. Never has any American woman been so loved and honoured abroad, and never has an American woman been more worthy of respect at home. It must be a great joy to her now, as she sits in the evening of life, to count her jewels of remembrance, and feel that she has done so much to win the gratitude of her fellow creatures.
"You came to visit Switzerland because it is the home of many heroes; but let me tell you, my child, this little republic has more to show the world than its William Tell chapels and its Lion of Lucerne. As long as the old town of Geneva stands, the world will not forget that here was given a universal banner of peace, and here was signed its greatest treaty—the treaty of the Red Cross."
As the Major stopped, the Little Colonel looked up at the white cross floating above the pier, and then down at the red one on Hero's collar, and drew a long breath.
"I wish I could do something like that!" she exclaimed, earnestly. "I used to wish that I could go out like Joan of Arc to do some great thing that would make people write books about me, and carve me on statues, and paint pictures and sing songs in my honah, but I believe that now I'd rathah do something bettah than ride off to battle on a prancin' white chargah. Thank you, Majah, for tellin' me the story. I'm goin' for a walk now. May I take Hero?"
A few minutes later the two were wandering along beside the water together, the Little Colonel dreaming day-dreams of valiant deeds that she might do some day, so that kings would send her a Gold Cross of Remembrance, and men would say with uncovered heads, as the old Major had done, "If America ever writes a woman's name in her temple of fame, that one should be the name of Lloyd Sherman—The Little Colonel!"
THE WONDER-BALL'S BEST GIFT
As the time drew near for them to move northward, Lloyd began counting the hours still left to her to spend with her new-found friends.
"Only two moah days, mothah," she sighed "Only two moah times to go walking with Hero. It seems to me that I can't say good-bye and go away, and nevah see him again as long as I live!"
"He is going with us part of the way," answered Mrs. Sherman. "The Major told us last night that he had decided to visit his niece who lives at Zuerich. We will stop first for a few days at a little town called Zug, beside a lake of the same name. There is a William Tell chapel near there that the Major wants to show us, and he will go up the Rigi with us. I think he dreads parting with you fully as much as you do from Hero. His eyes follow every movement you make. So many times in speaking of you he has called you Christine."
"I know," answered Lloyd, thoughtfully. "He seems to mix me up with her in his thoughts, all the time. He is so old I suppose he is absent-minded. When I'm as old as he is, I won't want to travel around as he does. I'll want to settle down in some comfortable place and stay there."
"From what he said last night, I judge that this is the last time he expects to visit that part of Switzerland. When he was a little boy he used to visit his grandmother, who lived near Zug. The chalet where she lived is still standing, and he wants to see it once more, he said, before he dies."
"He must know lots of stories about the place," said Lloyd.
"He does. He has tramped all over the mountain back of the town after wild strawberries, followed the peasants to the mowing, and gone to many a fete in the village. We are fortunate to have such an interesting guide."
"I wish that Betty could be with us to hear all the stories he tells us," said Lloyd, beginning to look forward to the journey with more pleasure, now that she knew there was a prospect of being entertained by the Major. Usually she grew tired of the confinement in the little railway carriages where there were no aisles to walk up and down in, and fidgeted and yawned and asked the time of day at every station.
During the first part of the journey toward Zug, the Major had little to say. He leaned wearily back in his seat with his eyes closed much of the time. But as they began passing places that were connected with interesting scenes of his childhood, he roused himself, and pointed them out with as much enjoyment as if he were a schoolboy, coming home on his first vacation.
"See those queer little towers still left standing on the remnants of the old town wall," he said as they approached Zug. "The lake front rests on a soft, shifting substratum of sand, and there is danger, when the water is unusually low, that it may not be able to support the weight of the houses built upon it. One day, over four hundred years ago, part of the wall and some of the towers sank down into the lake with twenty-six houses.
"I have heard my grandmother tell of it, many a time, as she heard the tale from her grandmother. Many lives were lost that day, and there was a great panic. Later in the day, some one saw a cradle floating out in the lake, and when it was drawn in, there lay a baby, cooing and kicking up his heels as happily as if cradle-rides on the water were common occurrences. He was the little son of the town clerk, and grew up to be one of my ancestors. Grandmother was very fond of telling that tale, how the baby smiled on his rescuers, and what a fine, pleasant man he grew up to be, beloved by the whole village.
"It has not been much over a dozen years since another piece of the town sank down into the water. A long stretch of lake front with houses and gardens and barns was sucked under."
"How dreadful!" exclaimed Lloyd, with a shiver. "Let us go somewhere else, Papa Jack," she begged. "I don't want to sleep in a place where the bottom may drop out any minute."
Her father laughed at her fears, and the Major assured her that they would not take her to a hotel near the water's edge.
"We are going to the other side of the town, to an inn that stands close against the mountainside. The inn-keeper is an old friend of mine, who has lived here all his life."